Monday, September 29, 2008

Customer Service

On a quick, positive note:
 I spent some time today catching up on necessary, but bothersome phone calls.  One such call was to a health provider to get the names and contact info for a referral.  I dread these calls. Invariably, it takes 15 minutes to get a human on the line, they breathe heavily into their headset and creep me out and are completely disinterested in actually serving the customer. And why should they be any different.  The people they deal with are demanding, impatient and the pay cannot be that great.  Recorded for quality control my ass.  
However, the gal that answered (in less than 5 minutes!) was cheerful, sweet and truly helpful. It was a rare treat and I am considering calling back just to chat with her about celebrity gossip and share recipes.  Okay, so that would be creepy, but maybe to speak to the manager and let them know they have a gem on their hands.   

1000 Words +

There is a car alarm that has been going off for 20 minutes, all my clients cancelled last minute today, and I have a headache.  Also, I think Kiki Dee has asthma.  What am I trying to say? Gonna opt for pictures this time.

This about sums it up.  


Links in order:  #1, #2, #3, and #4 is unknown.  Too bad, because I totally want a poster or T-shirt.  

Friday, September 26, 2008

Insta-Pundit (just add tiresome prez debate)

In the minutes leading up to the debate I got butterflies, the living room seemed to shrink and my laptop screen glowed with the colors of the flag.  Bang a gong, it is on!!!!  I lOVe AMeRICA!!1!eleventy!!!

And let me tell you, Barack was looking good.  He seemed a little nervous at first, but he found his flow... and then lost it.  Found it again and stayed on point most of the way through.  He connected with the viewer, made eloquent points as well as simple statements of position.  

Hmm, so everything should be looking up for the Dems right?  I am terrified it may not be the case.  Did McCain's bulldog (minus the lipstick?  wait, huh?) tactics, refusal to look at or direct comments to Obama come across as strong?  McCain's creepy grins never fail to give me the heebie-jeebies, but do American's still want a down-home, jolly neighbor or have we figured out facades are just that.  False fronts. Full-disclosure: when Obama playfully smiled in surprise at the outright inaccuracies John let loose, I got a little fluttery.  I guess I am not that much different than any other person.  If you have a good set of choppers, an effusive style and foreign policy that approaches issues on a regional level rather than state-by-state you will get me going.  

Shit, I am no good at this pundit crap.  I just really want Obama to win.  So badly.  I am increasingly scared that McCain will edge out with his one or two lines and increased press for those.  

Also, I really dislike Cindy McCain.  The vibe I get is straight up unpleasant.  I would not trust her.  I don't trust her husband and I cannot bear the idea of loosing more time and international reputation to shoddy leadership.  

I am all fired up about America, but the debate was lack luster.  Jim Lehrer let them avoid direct answers, get off-point and nit-pick piddling details while never addressing HUGE international issues.  Like AIDS/HIV, and, you know, the southern hemisphere.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

If This Is Wrong, Then I Don't Know What is Right

"As Thornton Wilder's Our Town reminded us, small-town people think a lot about the universe (as opposed to city people, who think only about each other)."

 -- John Updike, Odd Jobs: Essays and Criticism 

Old John is a bit of a bastard in much of his writing as far as I can tell.  He makes both women and men weak, slutty, distant, obsessed, lonely and often cruel.  Not the most hopeful author.  However, he engages the reader through brutal characterizations which I believe hint at certain truths in each of us.  We may not like how it sounds or looks on paper, but there it is.  

In this quote he gets it square on.  No one so succinctly captures the essence of Our Town as well as shines some insight into current societal roles and focus.  Well Done.

This May Be My Life Calling

I am actually being serious on this one.  The link is not to a shoe store or a pretty picture.  It is the advance degree I want to get at the school I want to go to.  I am trying to get up the gumption to start the grad school process for real.  There is the whole "logistics" aspect of it that remains to be determined, but one thing at a time.

If you are a nerd like me read about this program and try to tell me it is not a natural fit for my interests and mentality.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Nearly all the people I spend time with in Sacto are anywhere from 2-30 years older than me.  I am almost always the "baby" in the group.  So when a few people asked how old I was turning this 15th, I would shuffle my feet and whisper "27" knowing that the response would unequivocally be "oh, you're so young!  You're practically a baby!"  

When a 40-something woman calls you young, you do not argue.  Basic rule.  And I have been following it diligently as the subject has come up.  Here's the thing, I am, for the first time actually feeling the number.  27 loomed up before me and I tried my best to pshaw it into the background.   But it dug in and insisted on staying.  This is the first year that my joking assertion that if you act like you are anywhere from 4-22, then your real age is affectively lowered by this perceived and displayed youth.  And I am still consistently getting carded, given the occasional comment on a well maintained face, and yes, young men still catcall me from their cars.  The stupid surface shit we all fall so hard for.  The stuff that doesn't last and shouldn't count.  It might be best if I just enjoy it while it lasts.  I do worry though and I have no idea what is going to happen when the gal at Trader Joe's doesn't request my ID when I buy $5 wine and stinky cheese.  

I am feeling old.  At least older than ever before, and by a measurable amount.  What I notice is that I don't want to be old.  Why?  What changed from last year?  I have not been able to put my finger on what is bothering me so much.  Perhaps it is the number itself.  27 seems awfully close to 30.  And 30... isn't that when you are really a grown-up?  Aren't I supposed to have more figured out by then?  Shitness, I have a lot of work to do in the next 3 years.  Either that or I need to act like a child in increasing amounts of time to shift my "real age."

On a completely separate note, I think all would be well if I lived here:

Big windows, big bookshelves and sea green accent furnishings.  All it needs is a pyrenees puppy dog asleep at my feet and jazz guitar wafting from somewhere in the house...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How Anna Learned (again) That She Has No Impulse Control

This is what went down.  I have been eating very healthy lately and am generally trying to take good care of my body.  With me back in the car driving from client to client I tend to forget to bring healthy snacks/lunches, but so for I have only eaten at a restaurant once.  I am very proud of this.  The urge for something greasy, deep-fried, or dipped in chocolate came over me today though.  Instead of hightailing it to the nearest Carl's Jr, I pulled out my cliff bar and dried fruit bits and noshed on that.  And it was super tasty.  Crisis averted, right?  HA!  of course not.
I get home from work today and AM talks about the delightful cheeseburger with grilled onions he had for lunch.  My stomach started yelling at my brain "bring me low-grade beef with fries!!" rather loudly and after two hours of trying to reason with my belly, I totally broke down.  I dropped AM off at the Torch Club for his Thursday gig and sure enough hightailed it to.... McD's.  I know, I know!  I am just as ashamed to know me as you are.  

I do the drive through, because if you are going to be lazy and fat and gross, you have to go all the way.  I roll up to the pick-up window with my stomach singing joyful little ditties about the magic of hydrochloric acid and who knows what else.  The lady hands me a bag of food and a large coke.  

Me: Oh, I ordered a medium coke.  This looks like a large.
Big Lady w/ Crazy Blue Eye Shadow: Thas what your order says.
Me: Are you sure?  Maybe this is someone else's...
BLw/CBES: You had the double cheeseburgers, right?
Me: Yes (technically I only ordered one, but I felt correcting this lady on her grammar at 8:15pm on a Thursday night was ill-advised)
BLw/CBES: Well then this is yours.  Just take it, kay?
Me: Roger that.
BLw/CBES: What you say?
Me: Nothing.
BLw/CBES: okay, well have a good day.
Me: Night. It's nighttime.  (shit, I am such a prick) Thanks! 

I drive away, berating myself for being such a snob and, as we all do, blindly reach into the bag of grease to retrieve a fry.  The bag feels really full.... Come to think of it, it was pretty heavy when she handed it to me.  All I ordered was a double cheeseburger, a medium size fries a small choco shake and a medium coke.  I come to a stop at a red light and peer into the bag.  Holy shit 'n spin!  There is a large fries and Three (count them 1, 2, 3) double cheeseburgers.  Clearly this was not my order, or someone in the control room of the McD beast punched some pretty wrong buttons.  I am nearly home at this point and I realize I have absolutely no intention of going back and notifying BLw/CBES that my order was all jacked up in my favor.  

I settle in with the cats to eat and leave grease stains on the book I am reading ('The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific' if you were wondering).  Now is when I advise you to avert your eyes if you have a weak stomach.  Here is how it tallied up 20 minutes later: I ate all the fries, drank all the shake, 75% of the coke and consumed 2 1/2 double cheeseburgers in one sitting.  Holy Gluttony Batman!!  It was like I couldn't stop!  

Now my stomach is whimpering in defeat and I am staring down at my food-baby belly, scared that some Mc-alien creature may pop out at any minute and start tap-dancing on my coffee table.  

Monday, September 8, 2008

Muscle Fasciculation

Which is the fancy medical term for irritating, repeated, useless muscle twitches.  Which is what my left lower eyelid has been doing for two days straight.  

A little googling and it confirms that it is happening for no real reason other than stress or anxiety in my life.  Here's my question:  when is any person, anywhere not experiencing some kind of unpleasant stress?  Do you ever have a day that is anxiety free?  If the answer is yes, I am no longer your friend.  I am sorry, but we can't relate and I will feel guilty about my constant complaining and that will cause me more stress and eye spasms.  Bad all around.

And, if you were wondering, no, wine is not a curative in this situation.  I tried, but to no avail.  

I think I am going to start a trend and make nervous tics the new must have fall accessory.  Who's with me?!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Art of Shutting Up

I am a chatterbox to the nth degree.  winding down, let alone being quiet for an extended period of time is hard for me.  During this summer a great deal of silence was foisted upon me due to my lack of employment and necessary reclusiveness that no money brings.  It was and is very good to be required to be quiet.  I was talking with a professor from my college days while in Washington and we discussed the oft overlooked quality of a "quiet energy."  Because there is great power in the moments we don't fill with sound.  Or at least moments when I stop to listen to the greater noise and wait for the right place to insert my voice.  And even better are the moments I am not waiting, or planning.  The best is when shutting up is its own reward and absorbing all the surrounding stimuli is no task.  Time gracing me with the gift of now.  

As always, I risk getting too uppity about the zen perspective.  The thing is, that we all struggle to find our respective truths and as I listen and search for myself I keep hearing the same sentiments.  Pausing, breathing, calming down and acknowledging the journey as well as being in the midst of it.  No way am I going to continue on about some universal truth and adorn myself in patchouli oil, but you get the idea.

In an effort to shut up and calm down (it is really fucking hard!!) I put together a mix CD (how weird is it that it is not a mix-tape anymore?) for evening listening.  For relaxing, watching the sun go down or your lover read a book... embracing a quiet moment and yes, being present.  Are we idiots or savants?  I don't know.  I do know what music I like and here is my list and my take on it all.  See, I can't be quiet even in a blog post... sheesh!  

I wish I could have link to each song, but many of them are familiar to many.  Let me know if you want a copy...

1.     Quiet Nights – Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto

Aptly named and one of the softest, sweetest songs I know.  It seems hard to combine gentle and joyful in music and this one does it for me. 

2.     A Million Times – Ms. John Soda

Is it just me, or do artists that are not native English speakers do the most amazing things with the language?  Rhythmic romance for the ears.

3.     Temptation – Diana Krall

A voice I melt into, a song I have sung many times to myself (and others), and a scraggily, raspy writer behind the paper. 

4.     Please Call Me Baby – Tom Waits

The writer of the previous song and again he slings deceptively simple fair with the listener feeling that they are the main character.

5.     Slow Like Honey – Fiona Apple

A sexy, languid song.  If this doesn’t make you want to light candles and touch someone’s skin then you may be suffering from some kind of terrible illness.  Go see your doctor. 

6.     Holdin’ On – Citizen Cope

That desired moment realized after time has passed.  And guess what?  It is better than expected.  It has nothing to compare to.  Perhaps it hinges on trite, but we allow it because we all know the feeling.

7.     All is Full of Love – Bjork

Known for her swelling melodies and orchestral leanings this one hits all the marks.  I used to go on drives along the water and through the five-mile drive with this on repeat.  Delicateness tempered with a backbone of hope.

8.     Rebel Rebel – Seu Jorge

From the soundtrack for “The Life Aquatic” Seu takes David Bowie’s gem and injects it with the rolling of waves and salt drying on old wooden boards.  Lullabies for the international traveler.

9.     Bloodsuckers – David Garza

This was a discovery from visit to Portland.  Garza was a sidewalk performer, but anyone who stopped knew right away he was no rambling fellow pretending to play the artist game.  This was the real deal.  The song itself is a bit cynical and I adore him for it.  I think you will know why.

10.  I Wish I Was the Moon – Neko Case

Having just seen her at Bumbershoot and listening to her perform this song live I was practically transported to a different world.  One where sad songs rule and it is okay if I get a bit teary here and there.  The rest of the time I just relax into the stringed instruments.

11.  Nude – Radiohead

I am apparently about a year behind the curve on being obsessed with this song.  In truth I am neither bothered by not knowing what is current, nor have I repeatedly listened to it.  However it is awful pretty and fits well into a night themed mix CD.  I can practically see the wisps of clouds passing in front of the moon now…

12.  Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man – Julie London

This is a song I have been singing since I was a small child.  I picked it up from the musical “Show Boat” when it was playing on my local PBS station.  I memorized it as soon as I heard it and though I had no man to love, it imbedded itself into my psyche.  This one is for keeps.

13.  My One and Only Love – John Coltrane

A no-brainer.  This is a bubble bath, a glass of wine, a long gaze between lovers.  The things we know, and for good reason.  The singer is a bit schmaltzy, but halfway into the song John has already done all the work to get me all fluttery. 

14.  Thirteen – Big Star

Time to change the pace and tone.  Big Star was never what their name suggested, but this song has taken on an iconic status in many circles.  Teenage angst and hope.  Sweaty palms and determination to find love in its simplest and finest form. 

15.  Leaving For Paris – Rufus Wainwright

When I traveled to Paris to study art I was in the midst of a relationship I wanted out of.  Instead of severing the ties as I ought to have, I let it linger.  Months passed before I walked away.  Perhaps if these notes had been on my iPod I would have heard my fate in them and let go when I should have.  Or at least had a beautiful song to make me really know the truth rather than hide from it.

16.  Blue Valentine – Tom Waits

Can you tell I like Tom?  This man tells stories and I spiral into each one as though it were my own.  I do have a tendency to get a bit caught up in a perceived empathy.  Separate from my personal feelings, I adore the guitar solo and find myself blinking ever slower and slower, as a cat before a sleeping session.

17.  Alone in Kyoto – Air

Nothing overtly fancy.  It is a clean plate with a refined bite of sushi or a bed with all white linens. 

18.  A Blossom Fell – Diana Krall

So I repeat myself in my tastes to a certain extent.  But just listen to the longing, the hurt and more importantly the precise musicality of her voice and piano.  Follow that with the jazz guitar’s timing and tone, and the subtle brushes on the drums and you have one amazing song. 

19.  The Night – Morphine

I am sharing with you possibly my favorite band.  And this song is top of the list.  I listen to it and grasp at a definition I have no words for.  It just wraps me up in something warm and slightly deviant.  I am not sure I can trust it fully, but I want to.  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Nail-biting Tale

Unfortunately this is not figurative speech or hyperbole.  This is about my very unpleasant habit of biting my nails and picking at hangnails.  Rather nasty fair, I admit.  The result is raggedy fingers and that harried expression of a person waiting to get caught in the act.  Like most people with bad habits, I try to keep them from the public eye, only indulging when I think no one is looking or when I simply don't notice I am doing it.  

While in Washington on my vacation I was waiting to meet up with a very good friend of mine for conversation and the uncontrollable laughter that ensues whenever we are near one another.  I had a bit of time to kill before she would be available and I wondered what sort of trouble I could get myself into in the space of one hour.  I was driving a favorite neighborhood street when I remembered a nail salon just a block away.  What a perfect treat for myself on my trip!  A manicure is the cheapest form of pampering I know and since I was on a strict budget it seemed like a natural.

I walk-in to the salon.  It has low ceilings with water stains and florescent lighting to give everything that "healthy glow."  I don't mind a bit and turn to pick my color.  I go with neon pink.  The manicurist is predictably vietnamese (I am not being racist here, it is simply a common form of employment for that particular ethnicity).  She has a soft voice and a chubby, grandmotherly face.  I am charmed immediately.  

I soak my fingers in warm soapy water and gaze around at the seemingly random decor.  Surely someone picked it all, but lace doilies, nail posters from the 80's and a advertisement for a motor-cross event held last year tacked on the wall?  Oh heck, who am I to question their aesthetic intents anyway?  

We get into the manicure and she asks me questions I barely understand.  There is a lot of nodding and smiling on my part and chattering on hers.  She reminds me of a very plump robin chirping away as she makes a nest or preens her young.  I start to relax.  

We get to the trimming of the cuticle part and she "tsk-tsks" me.  I know why.  

Me: Yeah, I have a bad habit of biting my nails when I am nervous
Grandma Nails: oh, very bad for you.  It hurt?
Me: Not really.  I suppose I don't really notice it too much
GN: ohhh..  Hmmm.  I be very careful.
Me: Okay, thanks.  I will try to stop biting so much.
GN: Yes, you need to stop to make nail healthy.

There is a pause in the conversation as she works and I watch.  Then she says something in a whisper.  I can barely hear her.

GN: I sorry.  I sorry.  It's okay.  (she is patting dry my index finger)
Me: No worries, you didn't hurt me.  
GN: (looks up at me quizzically)...
Me: (I repeat) It didn't hurt.
GN: I know.

She goes back to clipping, oiling and sure enough whispering to my fingers.  It takes me a moment to realise she is not talking to me as a whole human being, but to each finger that has a hang nail.  She is apologising for the way it has been treated and is assuring it that everything will be all right.  My first reaction was to be a bit offended.  What business is it of yours if I have a disgusting nervous tick?  How dare you judge me!

I fumed for a minute and watched her.  And then I had my Ah-ha moment.  First of all, it is her business how my nails look.  She's a manicurist you dipshit (I am saying this to myself)!  And look how much she cares.  She takes this personally.  How often do you come across someone who is stuck in a 10x14 foot room full of noxious fumes and demanding women for 10 hours straight and manages to stay fully dedicated to a monotonous task?  

So, to Grandma Nails.  Thank you for considering my fingers as their own separate entities.  At first it threw me off and although I am into the more holistic view of my body, you got it way more right than me.  Each part of us needs caring for and each part sometimes needs to be told that it is okay.  Things are getting better.  

Needless to say I gave her a big tip and my best lopsided, sheepish grin when I left. 

Not that it has stopped me from reverting to my bad behavior, but I have thought of the way her soft feather words touched each finger and made it a safe place to rest for a moment.  

Art from HERE

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kickin' it old school: Vacation with the parents part 1

This is the prelude to how my vacation became a week of me living in the day basement again, watching TV in my dad’s old flannel shirt and underpants (mine, btw) and sneaking cigarettes when I could.

I flew up on Sunday and got directly into my parents car to go to a family reunion in the cow pastures of Canby Oregon.  Good times.  Old people I don’t know, middle-aged people I don’t know, and little rugrats I don’t know (side note:  when I checked spelling for rugrats the suggestion was regrets.  HA!).  Also, lots and lots of jello salads with marshmallows and strange food dye combinations.  I am under the distinct impression that food does not naturally come in shades of fuchsia or radioactive purple.  I could be wrong though.  I am about plenty of other things   

Onwards!  I hang out, talking to old bitties who can’t speak clearly because they had a stroke 6 months ago and are partially paralyzed or can’t hear a thing you say and keep adjusting their hearing aide so that they whine at the strain of blasting noise through all that earwax.  Eww.  I just totally grossed myself out.  No matter the manner in which they are barely linked to the world of the living, the conversation is inane, but required.  Family and all.  And truthfully, I get a kick out of old people.  They can get away with saying anything and no one argues.  Looking forward to being 85 just for that reason.  Even though I was caught grumbling about how kids dress these days and how they have no respect or basic public manners.  THEY DON’T.  It is depressing.

Family reunion over and done with we pile back into the car and after a few squealing wheels and white-knuckled moments to avoid wrong turns (because slowing down and pulling a U-turn is way to sensible) we find the freeway.  The rain starts pouring and I stare out the backseat window like I used to do.  I am enjoying the cool window pane and the everywhere green.  Then traffic comes to a near standstill and we creep along at 5-15 MPH for the next 4 HOURS.  It should have taken us over less than half that time to get home.  Did I mention my parents where singing Bob Seger aloud?  Yeah, it was a double CD live concert version.  So picture me, travel weary, familied-out and having to endure my father’s off-key half singing/half-talking voice mixing with my mother’s operatic tones even though she doesn’t remember any of the words.  She ends up doing that thing where you make the noises you think are right, but they never are really words until it is too late.  I started slowly and deliberately hitting my head against the seat back.  All I wanted was a change of clothes, a cigarette and my parents to shut the hell up.  

At least I was wearing kick-ass leopard print stilettos.  Hot shoes always help an iffy situation.