Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hoodwinked by a cat.

I work for a large global manufacturing company. It’s one of the biggest companies in Oregon, and takes up a good deal of real estate in the Portland area. It’s a professional sort of place, a by-the-book kind of business. The main building has not only a manufacturing process happening inside, but also sports a reception area, some offices for HR and Payroll, Safety departments, etc.

When you walk into the lobby, there is a reception desk where a wonderful lady mans to phones and keeps things running smooth for more than just one facility. It’s a clean lobby, very professional, with a large display of one of our products. If you look carefully though, behind the huge product display as you come in; you might be surprised to see an orange cat.

The cat, who now dubbed ‘PC’, has ingratiated himself to our company. He arrived some months ago, at the time, coming for snacks and attention from the people who come out for a smoke and a snack during breaks and lunch in the outdoor smoking area. First with the graveyard shifts, then swing, then day.

First, he was just an occasional visitor. The smoke-shack, which is only a several yards from the lobby, was his first haunt. Employees on break from the manufacturing area started to bring him food. Then he got a bed.

Then PC started coming to the lobby door. Then he got in. The he was allowed inside once or twice. Then he was allowed inside only during business hours. Then he was allowed inside whenever he wanted, and stayed inside during the night. Then a new bed appeared for him. And a bowl of food. And a bowl of water. Then, a small toy. Then multiple toys.

PC now occupies the lobby pretty much full time, and has been found wandering around some of the office areas. He is always there when I go in, idling happily behind his product display, in his bed. He’s been known to harass visitors for attention and to sharpen his claws on the lobby furniture. He now demands to be let in and let out whenever he requires.

I’m not a huge cat person. But I respect PC. That is a considerable act of manipulation to squirm his way into a massive manufacturing business as if he were becoming someone’s pet. He has a parade of people loving on him every day, and is accepted by a variety of mucky-mucks who would normally not allow this. I have to tip my hat to him.

I have no idea where all his accoutrements came from, but they just tend to ‘appear’. PC’s employees take very good care of him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I love Oregon Rain.

I grew up in a very rainy place. Belgium. After living in New England and never quite feeling at home, I came to Oregon to be with my sister. And here, I found a mountainous, lush version of the place I used to call home. So I decided to find an Oregonian, and marry him so I could stay. Okay, so that's not the precise version of the story, but it's close enough. And as I sit here, feeling that distinct chill of the dampness drying from the cuffs of my jeans, while outside, the rain falls with an audible hiss, I realize that I love the rain. It makes me feel cozy. And like I'm home. I think it's funny when I hear Oregonians mumble and grumble about it. You'd think they'd be used to it by now.

On a day like today, after spending my afternoon collecting stormwater samples, I want to go home and make something warm and comforting for supper. To curl up on the sofa with Flower and Simon and my sweet husband, and to listen to the rain pitter-patter on the roof.

This is the first time I've felt this at home anywhere since we left Belgium. And with all this rain, I should have no problem growing some roots in one place finally.

This weather inspired the little image you see heading this post today. It's so warm, when it's cold and wet. ::hee::

Monday, April 28, 2008

A healthy obsession

I am obsessed with sedum. I know, it's weird, but I can't go anywhere with plants without roving the area with my sedum-seeking radar, looking for varieties I don't have. I'm also a sedum thief. I have a quick hand, and I can pinch a piece off with ninja-like speed and reflexes. I will ferret them away with a dampened paper towel from the nearest restroom, and stick them in the first opening I see in the various containers I have in my garden.

I don't really draw a line to my sedum placement or volume. Aside from being tossed into my many flower beds as ground cover, I also have a number of special sedum planters, including an old chair, the bottom half and flue of a terracotta chiminea, my window boxes, and a little metal pan that sits on an old rocking horse I have on my deck.

I love them. Some bloom, others don't, but the riot of texture and tones floats my boat. Some thrive, others struggle, but in the end, in early summer, they're dense, lush and colourful. And so low maintenance to boot.

This winter took its toll; not only on my sedum collection, but on some of the containers. My lush sedum chair has been reduced to a stubbly, sad looking mess, and a number of my tiny hens & chicks have died, but some still cling on, and fight to gain footing again.

They are great plants. They make perfect window-box plants because they don't mind being dried out sometimes. There are varieties that will hang down over the side, varieties that bloom, that look like dense flowers with reddish and purple tones. They propagate so easily, a cutting, a pinch turns into a huge mound of living matter. I truly love these plants. :)

I recommend these plants for the not-so-great gardener like me. I have visions of a cottage garden, which has been a challenge with my sandy, organic-poor soil, but my sedum gardens have never failed me. You can buy some in early spring, and by summer, they'll be bursting over the edge of your containers. If you forget to water them once in a while, they won't wilt and die. And when you look at how lush and green they are, and your containers are dripping in them, you'll feel very accomplished indeed. Go to your local nursery and give them a whirl. Once you start, you won't stop. You'll become a sedum addict and you will find yourself pinching pieces off of plants in your friends' and public gardens.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A birthday drawing.

My friend Tara is having a birthday, and in part, I've made a drawing that includes a few of her preferred subjects, hedgehogs and tea. Hee! It's called "A Wee Cup of Tea", and in it, Miss Chipmunk and Mrs. Hedgehog are partaking in a nice, steaming pot of summer-pudding tea, accompanied with Mrs. Hedgehog's infamous Chococlate Raspberry Cake.

One lump, or two?

Happy Birthday, Tara!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Week of Bonnets

Our newest event with the Oregon Regency Society is a bonnet workshop I will be holding it up in my neck of the woods, in Welches. It's happening on Saturday. Naturally, I'm in Obsessive compulsive mode; over-preparing as usual. I've had my tote ready for a whole week; and instead of just leaving my supplies alone until Saturday, I decided I needed an 'inspiration piece' for the workshop.

So I made a bonnet. It turned out to be a very fine specimen if I say so myself. ::hee hee:: I immediately threw it up on ebay. I'm hoping it will sell and sell well, it's already got seven watchers and a query from the UK.

I used a home deco fabric this time; it was thicker; possibly for use for pillows or upholstery, even a heavier drapery, it was really pretty, and I'm partial to sage green. I'd bought the flowers at Michaels the day before for the workshop, and I had to match them by memory. I don't think I did too badly. :) I lined the brim with a really cute scallop-edged whitework cotton. I have supplies for two more bonnets, one will have the same fabric and ribbon. Those will do for the workshop. Ebaying it inspired me to ebay my full stovepipe bonnet that I made for myself. I don't know why. I guess I just figure that I can make myself another whenever I feel like it.

I covered it in dupioni silk that I used for the pelisse I made for my 2007 Regency ballgown. It seemed a pity to just pack away a nice silk, since a pelisse like that can be used only once or twice. It has taken to its new purpose quite beautifully, I dare say. I also made matching reticule to go with the bonnet, and bought some velvet in the same slate blue for a spencer. I guess they'll all go with the bonnet to auction. I could definitely use the money... and because we live in such a tiny house, space is a premium too. After Saturday, I'll have two extra bonnets to deal with. I think I may raffle those at the next Regency party (which is in Eugene).

No matter how I try, everything I do turns into something about the Regency society. I need some variety in my life! Diversify my crafts again... do some dollhouses, sew some more non-costumey things, paint and draw more... But of course, I can only fantasize about space for a proper workshop. Every time I go to IKEA and see all those beautiful organizational pieces of furniture, I want to cry. ::wah::.

Elegant, Happy Sushi.

I’m addicted. I know. I blow money I can’t really afford at the same sushi-joint at least two to three times a week. I think they should have ‘frequent flyer’ cards. I plant myself at my local Marinepolis Sushi Land snatching plates of pretty food from the slow-moving conveyer, and I spend the whole morning before going fantasizing about it. I’m a sushi savage. I eat pickled ginger like it’s going out of style, and I can easily put away six or seven plates of sushi without batting an eye. I always feel slightly embarrassed when some waify little thing comes in and eats three plates and then leaves. Not me. I gobble it up like a beast; while watching for the next yummiest morsel to slide by.

Two little sauce dishes: I blend a bit of wasabe into my soy sauce in one, and pile up the ginger in the other. Grab, dip, chomp, eat some ginger, repeat. Mmm—Mmm—Mmm.

It’s my little ritual. I like sitting down and setting up my little space at the counter.

Order: One water, one hot tea,
Set them to my right, pushed back.
Two sauce dishes, in front to the back,
Prepare sauce, stock up on ginger,
Remove sticks from packet, put packet behind sauce dishes for now.
Place napkin on knees.
Break sticks apart, twirl together to remove splinters.
Nest the plastic plate-covers together neatly to the left next to plates.
Stack plates as I eat (sorted by price for easy counting).
When I’m done, stack sauce-plates, place on top of sushi plates
Put sticks back into packet, balance on plates.
Napkin goes in empty tea-cup after doing a quick wipe-down if necessary.
Neat presentation. Get slip. Get out.
Perfect. Delicious. Uncomplicated.

I never feel icky after a lunch of sushi; no matter how big a rice-brick I’ve amassed in my belly. I don’t know where the urge began, I liked sushi before but back in December, I just started craving it all the time. My body must be low on its mercury levels or something and is sending me a message. ::hah!::

It’s not a burger, and it’s not a menu. It can be different every day if you want it to be.

/Sushi worship.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fear of Foster Care.

I’ve considered it. My childlessness has sometimes made me want to divert all these unused motherly instincts to someone who could use it.

But I also fall in love very hard. And having a child removed from my care after dumping all my love into them may be too difficult for me to bear.

Grey and rainy and tired of driving.

It's one of those days today. I've been on standby most of the day just in case I need to run out and do some rain sampling. It means I've got all these projects up in the air, and I have to keep from starting anything because I may have to just drop it and run. Blogger is also being naughty today and giving me problems with uploading my picture and even just adding a simple post.

I have no specific, cruel or critical rants today (how gauche of me...). The mornign was so rife with things to mumble and grumble about that I just gave up trying to list them all in my head. I guess my chronic grumpyism is caused by my long daily commute, and my need to go out into the mud and rain to take rain samples. ::blurgh::

I also confess I was a mean driver today. I just had no patience for the obstacles people were creating all around me. Two people had to lean on their horn for a quarter mile while flashing and cursing me, just to vent their frustration for my cutting them off. Oh well. They do it to me on a daily basis, and I don't get my knickers into such a twist about it... if I did I'd be committed by now. I realized today that I don't see other drivers as people, and rarely, with all their prolific antics, do any of them in particular stand out or are memorable. They've just become a collection of obstacles between myself and my destination, obstacles that to hinder me; obstacles that try to slow me down or speed me up to their liking. Obstacles with no consideration beyond themselves, obstacles that like to talk on phones, text and apply cosmetics while driving. They are my bane. After 4 years of driving 2 hours a day among them; I've started losing respect for them as human beings and perceiving them as just things that are in my way.

Not good. I've started fantasizing about mounting a large Gatling gun on my hood. That would be so awesome. Just like in those shooter video games, just obliterate them off the road.

::leans back, and her eyes roll dreamily upwards, a whimsical smile crosses her lips::


Monday, April 21, 2008

Plastic-Fantastic Mutton Dressed as Lamb

Plastic surgery is becoming so pervasive lately, it’s kind of making me sick. God, some of these 40-50-something ladies with the waxy-looking faces and perma-surprised eyebrows really believe that they’re attractive too! It’s so creepy.

Age with grace, for Christ’s sake. I’ve been steadily getting grays in my hair since I was 30, and I’m okay with that. I’m crashing towards middle-age and I’m comfortable enough with my life and my marriage to not feel it necessary to turn myself into something I’m not anymore… Young or perky. Surgically forced young and perky looks surgically forced… it looks fake and creepy, sad and tragically desperate ~ it screams “I’m clutching onto my dwindling youth with a death grip and my looks are the most important thing in my life!”

There’s nothing more pathetic than a woman who is trying to dress like her daughter. I see them all the time at the store; hip-huggers, tight tee or cleavage-revealing blouse, trendy do, makeup slathered on, fake lashes, bad blonde streaks, fake boobs, pumpkin-face tan, puffy lips, solar tips… O M G. Their daughters are usually teens or tweens, equally skanked out with glittery eye shadow in mid-afternoon and lip-gloss. The motherly looks are replaced by one of longing and envy and resentment. Deep down she knows her kid is going to look better than her no matter what she does, but she can’t help competing.

No matter how much saline they pump into your boobs, or how thin they stretch your sagging jowls, if your husband is shallow enough to make his love contingent on your youthful looks, the arrival of that 20-something, perky butted replacement is just a matter of time. Face it. Surgery isn’t going to stop the inevitable.

Have some freakin’ dignity. Where’s your pride? Sacrified for the sake of what? Fleeting moments of attention?

After long, it won’t amount to anything at all, except a paralyzed face that can’t even express your personal misery.

More Shameless Begging;

Dear Mr. George Soros and other drippingly rich entrepreneurs and philanthropists who give all your money to huge bureaucracy-foundations:

Our septic is filling up. I wonder if you ever have to worry if you’ll be able to use your own washroom at home. We do. That’s $300 we don’t have. It’s part of the bigger problem that the septic tank is too small and not to code; and we don’t have the money to have a proper system installed.

The sad thing is, the difference of $300 a month can determine if we get by or not. It’s pretty precarious. We have to put some bills off to pay others. We’re also past our grace-period for our mortgage; and so we have to pay a late fee of $50 we could have used for something else, just because we simply didn’t have enough to pay it the first half of the month.

The groceries that usually cost us about $150 cost us $200 last week. We’re not sure why, we don’t get anything expensive or new.

There’s this little blue house about twenty minutes from where I live. It’s right in the center of town, and it’s small and quaint, and has gingerbread trim. It’s empty. I don’t know where the prior business went that was there (I think it was a yarn-shop), and I don’t see a for rent or for sale sign. I'm hoping it will stay vacant until a miracle windfall comes raining down into my lap.

It’s the perfect building, the perfect location, for my dream business. It’s almost painful to see it and feel that sense of ‘What If…?’

Once again, I’m writing this big whining letter to all of you with the power to help ‘middle class’ Americans achieve their dreams and improve their lives. Probably for less than it would cost for one of your trips to Cabo.

Give me money! I’ll make it grow with skills that are being wasted at a workaday job, and it will improve our lives greatly to be investing our energy in a business that will help the local economy, and provide specialty services. Why not?

C’mon. Give me money you rich, spoiled creatures with always-working toilets! Share the wealth, even a little bit. I'll make myself accountable for it, no wasting, no blatantly irresponsible choices like buying a brand-new 2008 Jeep Wrangler 4-door Rubicon ~ or an em.. err... Prius or Smart car.. ahem, ::coff coff:: :D

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking it a too bit far, I'll confess...

I like to play dress-up. Sue me.

I spend a good deal of my free time sewing costumes; specifically costumes for the Regency period, which spans from about 1790-1820, although I do prefer the styles from the earlier half of this period.

It probably stems from my addiction to Jane Austen and the like. My mom got me this big, fat, softcover collection of Jane’s works when I was still in secondary school. It’s one of those books with the very thin pages that make a crinkly noise when you flip them. She saw Pride and Prejudice on my curriculum reading list, and got the whole collection in one book by mistake. I’ve had that book since. It’s dog-eared and a corner of the cover is bent. The spine is irrevocably creased in countless places. It’s now one among many editions of Jane’s works, but it is still my favourite. And I have read and read and read that book.

Then, I stumbled onto my first adaptation on BBC in the eighties. And that was it. I was done-for. Gonzo. Adios. My addiction became incurable after that. There has been no lack of fodder either to keep it aflame. New adaptations, lots of Hollywood versions to lambaste, lots of weird adaptations like Clueless and Brigit Jones’ Diary…

And then I moved to Oregon. And I was doing one of my ‘I’ve-got-cramps-and-I’m-severely-grumpy-so-leave-me-alone-I’m-going-to-lie-here-and-watch-all-five-hours-of-Pride-and-Prejudice-uninterrupted-except-to-pee-and-to-grab-a-comforting-snack-and-make-tea’ weekends; and while I waited for the next episode to spool up, I had a vision of myself, in a regency gown; fan in my hand, leaning in to whisper quiet snark to another regency-costumed individual, while before us, lines of costumed dancers moved in graceful, figures across the floor.

A year later, I was sitting in a regency gown, fan in my hand, leaning in to whisper quiet snark to another regency-costumed individual, while before us, lines of costumed dancers moved in graceful figures across the floor. How did this happen?

Well. I just went ahead and did it, I guess.

Oddly enough, it was as simple as a decision. I got up during a break, and walked to my computer, and bought a domain. That’s all it took to create the monster.

It’s spiraled pretty much out of control ever since. A year later, the society is approaching 200 members now. We have events pretty much every month, some teas, parties, dances, workshops for costumes… and a sumptuous ball each year. So on top of finding low-cost venues, raising funds, soliciting membership, managing and coordinating events, and everything else (not to mention juggling my FT job, writing and goodness knows what else), I have to sew myself new garments constantly. Oh, and I also have forced my husband into this, and I also make costumes for my non-sewing friends.

And I still somehow find time to draw little ditties like the one above.

I’m amazing.


But amazing nonetheless. And some people say I can’t start and maintain a business. If I can do this… I can do anything.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In America, responsibility is a 4-letter-word.

Americans love having the freedom to choose. We like to choose what cars to drive, what homes to build, what products to use; choice, choice, choice. We don’t want to live like some Europeans already do, to be required to live by some responsible guidelines, or to pay anything more than we feel we should for the freedoms we have.

But we do not want to take responsibility for the consequences we create. We want to buy cheap Wal-Mart crap, but we don’t want to take any responsibility for China’s growing effect on the climate due to industry. We want to drive our Hummers or our Escalades but we complain about the inflated fuel prices which are a direct result of our bottomless consumption. We all have an effect on this world through our activities, but we want to live like we don’t. In truth, we don’t want to take responsibility.

Every one of us has one. Every choice we make, every thing we buy, every tree we hack down to build a McMansion where it was… has an effect. We deny that there is climate change; we declare that we don’t have to limit our emissions as long as places like India and China don’t have to, we back away from initiatives for positive change because we don’t want our convenience and our apathy to be threatened. Let someone else do it—they can support us, make the changes, and we can just keep on doing what w e always have. We don’t want change, we don’t want growth in a better way, and we sure as hell don’t want responsibility. We wage wars to maintain the status quo – to protect the oil assets that keep America running as it is; SUVs and all. Groups of us will rail against new ideas and solutions… and find all the excuses in the world not to just go for using alternate means of energy; no to wind, no to solar… no, no, no! What we have works, we cry!

We point fingers at other places. At Iraq, at Afghanistan, at India, at Russia, at China… We try to avert the world’s attention to other wrongdoers so our own trespasses won’t be pointed out.

We used to be the leading nation in innovation and change. Now places like Denmark and England are putting us to shame. We’ve gone from being forward-thinking to spoiled and entitled. We want to sacrifice nothing, not even the slightest thing—all for the sake of convenience, unnecessary comforts and materialism.

I’m ashamed of this country. We need to stop acting like kids, trying to avoid having to do our chores. We should be acting like Mom again, arms crossed, brow furrowed, pointing sternly at the big pile of trash the world has made, demanding it get taken out immediately.

Sadly, we don’t even act that way with our own kids these days, do we? I think that’s a direct reflection on our society as a whole—this aversion to personal responsibility. Starts small.


A single soundbyte… a well chosen snapshot… context or no, it’s amazing how a presidential candidate’s entire fate can rest on something as fleeting as a few passionate words and images. It’s like their entire prior record is erased by the utterance of a sentence. Amazing. Are voters that transient? That flighty?

I really believe that the media presumes itself the final ‘decider’ in these matters. The stuff they catch, the reports they run; even the pictures they choose to run with them. I’m not a fan of any of the candidates, but even I felt sorry for the article Slate ran about Obama’s gaff; and the picture they coupled with it.

Look at these pictures and then put them with the headline below; see how it changes almost the entire context:

Better Explanations for
White Working-Class Bitterness

Better Explanations for
White Working-Class Bitterness

How do these make you feel about the candidate after reading the headlines and coupling it with the picture? And how does the paper presume to set the ‘mood’ of the article by influencing the reader with what is a clear attempt to vilify the subject, in a very subtle way?

Same with Billary. If the media wants to push a negative image, they use a picture like this one, which I've seen on a lot of righty sites and shows:

If they want to push a more positive story (rarely), they use one like this one.

It’s sad how malleable we all are. It's scary actually that American voters will pick and choose their leader based on what is no more than media branding. So few people will actually look any deeper into the candidate's accomplishments or background. They allow the media to tell them who they are.

I'm a libertarian left. I took the 'who's your candidate' test some months ago, and the closest one (at about 56%) was Kucinich. The next closest was Billary. I don't like any of them. McCain is just a Bush clone. Oh, what to do, what to do?

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Guilty Pleasures:

Here are some of the things I secretly delight in: (some more secretly than others… Shhhhh).

Guilt levels:
*=slightly guilty
**=I don’t tell many people this
***=I tell no-one except those very closest to me, and strangers who stumble on this blog.

  • Sushi at least three times a week. ~ Because it’s yummy. *
  • Pedicures ~ Because I like to have my feet fussed over. **
  • Project Runway ~ I just think it’s a show full of seriously talented people. **
  • America’s Next Top Model ~ I just think it’s a show full of seriously stupid people who are highly entertaining with their inane drama. ***
  • Splashing through huge muddy puddles in my Jeep. ~ Because it’s fun. *
  • Jane Austen Marathon Weekends ~ When I just need my sense of whimsy and romance renewed. (it’s really the only movie-type romance I’ll tolerate) *
  • Fake Squeezie-Cheese-food from a can on Wheat Thins. :::shhhhh:: ***
  • End of the World/Armageddon Style Movies & books ~ I just like them. *
  • Shopping at World Market ~ They have nice stuff and it always smells nice there. *
  • Buying new bras and pajamas~ I like new bras and pajamas. *
  • Speeding. ~ I secretly love to speed and drive like a lunatic. I’m lucky I don’t have anything more than my four-banger; or I’d probably be roadkill. ****
  • Lemon Drop Martinis ~ They’re so stupid and trendy; but I really like them. **
  • Australian Shiraz ~ N’ Lots of it. *
  • Jessica Alba ~ Because I think she’s smoking hot and I’m not even a lesbian. ***
  • Anything Star Trek ~ I love the ST universe. Even Enterprise, sorry. **
  • Bad Sci-Fi Channel Saturday disaster/monster movies ~ It’s an occasional guilty pleasure, but I do partake of it from time to time. ***
  • Gordon Ramsay ~ Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, it doesn’t matter; if he’s in it, I’m watching it. He’s smoking hot too. *
  • Jason Statham movies ~ Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. **
  • The Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black ~ love them both. **
  • Fifth Element ~ one of my all-time-favourite movies. *
  • Conspiracy Theory ~ one of my all-time-favourite movies. *
  • Alan Rickman ~ I think he’s the sexiest man on earth. **
  • Patrick Stewart ~ Also the sexiest man on earth. **
  • Artery hardening Hungarian food. *
  • Buffy and Asterix Comics ~ They ended the series, which they shouldn’t have. The Asterix is a childhood thing.***
  • I love dollhouses ~ Since I was little. I still build and enjoy them now. ***
  • I dress up in Regency costume and attend teas and balls ~ Even I, the non-romantic jeans-wearing weirdo, enjoys feeling like a lady occasionally. ***
  • Witnessing comeuppance ~ who doesn't like that? *

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pearls Before Swine ~ another Pastis moment

Snuffles the kitty is one of my favourite characters just because of the way he's drawn. A little puff ball with a face. Cute, yes, but do not be fooled. He is apparently also a dangerous Arms Smuggling Terrorist too.

The little things that could break a sane person...

  • The guy who just can’t wait for his proper turn, and instead causes flowing traffic to light up like Christmas tree in red brake lights, so he can pull in at his leisure.
  • The sour-faced, slow-moving grump in front of you with the little folder of coupons in line at the grocery store.
  • The driver in the left lane, holding up traffic for miles because they’re poking along at the same speed as the person in the right lane next to them.
  • People in public places holding cell phone conversations so loudly, that everyone is forced to partake.
  • The guy way in front of you on a largely empty road who suddenly brakes hard for no apparent reason at all except perhaps to avoid running over one of his many demons.
  • The stupid people who apply makeup or text while swerving all over the road.
  • People who spit in public.
  • Teenagers in public places, prattling on and on at top volume about the mind-numbing, inane particulars of their tiny lives, injecting ‘like’ between every other word.
  • Kids running and screaming willy-nilly in public places while mom blatantly ignores or even challenges the angry glares.
  • The person standing in front of the display case or shelf that you need to grab something from, and blocking it forever while they ponder the meaning of life and the significance of the 11¢ difference in cost.
  • Overwide SUVs parked in a standard space, making it so that you can’t open your door to get out of your car without dinging the edge of your door and marring it with their paint. ::heh heh heh::
  • People who block shopping aisles and who don’t move aside to allow others to pass.
  • People throwing garbage, cigarettes or other items from their cars.
  • People who argue about politics or other issues when they’re obviously not informed (which is pretty much all conservative voters).
  • Contrarians; people who will come up with a counterpoint to anything you say just to hear themselves talk.
  • Pollyannas; people who feel it necessary to inject the positive in any situation: “I’m sorry you got beat up and your stuff was stolen; but it’s possible that the guy who attacked you was having a really bad day, or debt collectors pushed him over the edge.. or…”
  • The kid in back of you on the plane kicking your seat (or screaming, crying, etc).
  • The guy with the midlife-crisis-mobile who takes up multiple spaces to keep his vehicle from getting scratched.
  • Teenagers employed in any customer service position. Bad idea for the business.
  • The mere existence of the following things: minivans, the flashing red lights on school buses, office retreats, life coaches, pet psychics, oversized SUVs as commuter vehicles, pretentious tech-gadgets, Bratz Dolls.
  • The “well, actually…” person; who knows it all, and is never shy to impose their vast bank of useless knowledge annoyingly onto all.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Please explain...

Everything is so tenuous and fragile.

Our relationships can hinge on something as intangible and fleeting as the wrong word.

Your comfort and your possessions could be gone in the blink of an eye. We are all only a single step away from living on the street.

Life itself is so delicate; so transient, and could be taken away by anything; slow, fast, it could just end. At any time.

People who you always just assume are going to be around, can just disappear from your life. Their laugh, their soothing words, the smirk on their face when they look at you. Gone.

Your rights and freedoms can be taken away so gradually and slowly, that you don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s too late.

The places you loved as a child, the neighborhoods you grew up in can be erased by development in just a few months.

Things that seem so relevant and crucial to our lives now may mean nothing in a week.

So someone please explain to me, with all of these opportunities flying by, and so many important things we could miss before they just disappear, why, oh why are we at every turn, are our precious moments being marred by our being force-fed the the tedious minutiae of Britney Spears’ insipid and useless life?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Middle Class ~ My Ass

Normally, one would be glad that you moved up into a higher income bracket. A little more money is always good. However with increasing fuel costs, and higher food prices, and our mortgage and other payments that are due each month, we’re feeling the pain—not the expected relief more money would provide.

We had significant tax deductions thanks to the major interest we’re paying for our mortgage and such, and we confidently went to our tax preparer in hopes of getting that little windfall that would allow us to breathe easy for a month or two, and to do some projects we’ve been waiting to do, or fix a car.

Unfortunately, we’d made too much money last year.

We went up a tax-bracket; by very little, just about a thousand dollars. But that alone was enough to give us a whopping tax refund of $200; which should just about cover our tax preparer’s bill. Our family members say in that patronizing tone: "Oh it could be worse... at least you don't owe anything." True to some degree, but STFU; it doesn't make our situation any better because we don't owe the IRS. We will eventually, the way things are going.

We are a childless couple. Of course, that means we don’t get any extra deductions, and we have a heavier tax burden.

Meanwhile, we have a couple of bills doubled-up… and we have to pick and choose who we can afford to pay monthly. We’ve turned off our cell-phones, gone down to basic cable, gone off 'green energy' with the electric company because it's too expensive. Even with vehicles that are fully paid off and a reasonable mortgage, we are still barely scraping by, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

We’re in our mid-thirties and we have nothing saved up, it is impossible to do so; something always comes along to gobble up anything we have. We can’t even find money to make home improvements, and we had to take out a credit line of $1,000 to make ends meet last month.

Hubby had to borrow against his 401K recently, and I’m thinking about shutting all my own benefits down so my paycheck is more substantial. How is this an acceptable fate for ‘middle class’ people? This is ridiculous. It’s not as if we’re living out of our means or living irresponsibly on credit alone like some of our younger relatives… We just can’t keep up with the $600 a month in fuel costs (which is always growing), not to mention the added expenses and inflating cost of basic goods; all along suffering with what are essentially, stagnant incomes (the yearly 2% raise we both get isn’t going to put filet-mignon on the table, that’s for sure—not when living expenses are going up, up and away). We have a 800 square foot home, and we pay $300 a month in winter for propane heating. There's something completely wrong with that.

We can’t even afford the down payment to get a new, more fuel efficient vehicle. Our option would be to get gouge-you-up-the-butt financing and another monthly bill we can’t afford!

We have to commute nearly seventy miles *each* on a daily basis to work, because jobs that are well-paid are scarce in our immediate vicinity. So here we are, scrabbling to keep our telephone paid up enough so we actually have one, and the IRS comes bumbling along and gobbles up something like 30% of our income. How is that okay? Meanwhile, people making incomes in the millions (usually our employers) have less of a tax burden than I do proportionately? What the hell? And to add insult to injury; all that money we're paying into social security now may not be matched for us when we get old and we have hardly any savings. I won't even touch on the money being spent on the war...

And Dubya’s solution to our reduced spending due to the rising cost of living? Send us a check that is in all essence a loan against the following year’s tax refund. In our cse... what refund? We will have to save up money just to pay back the ‘recession relief money’ that our government thinks will fix this shitty economy, and we can't even save money for ourselves! Does this mean we’re going to owe taxes for 2009? This just doesn’t make sense!

I’m sick of this! We’re supposed to be doing *better* than our parents. What’s gone wrong here? Someone please explain. Please.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Running on the Hamster Wheel.

I’m a strange person. I’m not happy unless I’m creating something. If I’m not writing, I’m drawing, if I’m not drawing, I’m sewing, or doing some other new project I’ve decided I’m going to try, or I’m imagining a new business venture; the building it would occupy, the sign that would hang above the door. I’m also prone to depression, so I can always tell when I’m depressed because that bug inside that is always working, always dreaming, always conjuring and creating is quiet.

I’m in a weird state these past few months. It’s like I’m part depressed part in hyper-creation mode. I want to be doing creative things, I want to have the freedom to build something grand, to create the art that I want, to write more books; but sometimes the ability is there, sometimes it’s not. There’re days when all I want to do is write, write, write, or days when sewing occupies my mind, and other days when all I want to do is sleep.

Then there’s my job; which is like a black hole—sucking away my creativity like the real thing would suck away light and matter. And it’s never ending. I get up, I get ready, I drive an hour, I do the same tasks I’m supposed to do, day after day, then I go home, we figure out dinner, spend an hour or two watching TV, then we go to bed, lather-rinse-repeat.

I fill my life with all these activities and groups; which are the fuel that keep me going, even though my physical ability to keep up with it all is taking its toll.

The other day I was driving and I just sort of broke. I had to pull over because I started blubbering and weeping. It’s like a hamster wheel. I’m running and running and running and getting nowhere. In my head, I have all these dreams and ideas and creative forces that are really without a proper outlet. I'm getting old, maybe I'm starting to see the futility of trying anymore. There are all these reasons why I shouldn’t take the risks I need to take. Mortgage, fuel costs, bills, responsibility; but where does it end. How do I get off this damned wheel, and allow my creative beast to just take off? Will I ever be able to just step off and walk past the stupid wheel at all?

What can I do? I think I’m going insane (if I’m not already there).

Stephan Pastis is my hero.

I confess I'm addicted to "Pearls Before Swine". This cartoon has exceeded the highest benchmarks of cuteness known to man. From the inept crocs to the militant duck, there isn't a character I don't adore.

I hereby proclaim my adoration for this strip and for the ex-attorney that creates it. There's a rat that reminds me too much of myself, a sweet, clueless pig you can't help loving, the packs of crocs which apparently if they are adult males, acquire a strange speech impediment/accent, a duck that likes rocket launchers, lions who enjoy the benefit of hardworking wives, a teen croc and 'zeeba' that fall in love, and so much more.

It's clever, it's relevant, and god damn if it isn't cute as hell.

I tend to email the author frequently with annoying comments. For instance, I was so shocked by his recent decision to vilify the seemingly adorable and harmless (except to Crocs) kitten-katten "Snuffles", that I sent him an email to inform him of my astonishment. He's an affable, nice guy.
Thanks Stephan. :) I love your work.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A pushy letter to George Soros.

Dear George Soros,

I've decided it would be best to post this on my blog, because it has about as much chance of meeting your eyes as an email to your foundation would. You see, this is a blog-post/badly disguised begging session.

George, I'm aware of your multi-million dollar bank account. Such riches are shared liberally with lots of foundations for this, and foundations for that; big honking non-profits that rake in the dollars every day. And I understand you donate all these dollars to these great lumbering juggernauts in order to better this world and this country.

You have shown a tremendous desire to change our politics, change our economy and change our world. Well I have a simple solution. Instead of giving your money to mega-bureaucracies; give it to people like me.

Mind you, I'm not asking for just a win fall of cash to come raining down on my head. I'm asking that you find people like me who have massive dreams and negative cash. I have an idea to create a business that will shape my future; but I cannot start it. A drop in the bucket for you could mean securing someone's future directly, erecting a business that will help the local economy.

Be an Angel investor (and start with me!). Find people whose businesses are floundering, or people who need cash for startups and give them the money. That is a way to fix the economy, in a small way. Start with us, the peons, with no money and enormous dreams. Please! Be my Angel investor.

The Hungarican Girl.


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