Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Like Placeholders, Yes We Do

I've got a couple of post ideas written down to flesh out for later enjoyment. You know, when I'm not actually at work.

In the meantime, I have a question. Where can I find a big bag of money?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This animal just has it rough.

This animal just has it rough.
Originally uploaded by Affilare
I really wish his "bed" was a little more... chic. Oh, well. When I took this, the Beast's feet and tail were twitching like crazy, so I'm assuming he was chasing (and finally catching?) the cat that lives under our outbuilding. I just want to snuggle him to death when he does this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I was just checking out my own flickr photo stream and realized I really haven't taken or posted any pictures in... like, a year or two. I know why that happened, but it's time to turn that sucker around, too.

Well the day is off to a fabulous start -- managed to get to work late and I'm working on a lovely rip in my stocking. Fortunately, my pasty skin is about the same color so it's not terribly noticeable yet. I started to sit down and compose an entry last night and realized that I just didn't have anything to say. And I thought, "Self, you need to just write something anyway and get the old creative juices flowing." But somehow, flipping back and forth between American Idol and The Biggest Loser, neither of which I watch regularly or actually enjoy, was much more satisfying. At one point, I think my brain was actually leaking out my ears.

On days when Wilbur is out of town, it's really difficult to actually accomplish anything at home. A fenced back yard would help somewhat, because right now, in order for the Beast to get any exercise and be outside to do his thing, one of us has to go with him. Now, I am in no way comparing caring for a 120-lb grown dog to caring for a child -- I know they are entirely different animals and I have the luxury of actually leaving him at home to his own devices during the day -- but in the sense that it is another being depending upon you to feed it and provide it with basic necessities (like a nice spot to stretch its legs and poo) it is the same sort of unavoidable task. And it's always surprising how much time out of the day it takes, especially considering that he is, unlike a child, more or less self-sufficient.

Moving on from how put-upon I am to care for the dog... the normal tasks of just putting the days clothes' away, getting something to eat, cleaning up after eating it, getting and vaguely sorting the mail, and caring for the dog take up an inordinate amount of time. If I add anything to that like laundry, the dishwasher, etc., there's about a half-hour window in there before it's time for bed where I have a really hard time switching gears to start and finish anything else. And if I have work to do in the evenings, there goes that window and most of the other things (well, except for the dog).

All of that whining is to say -- no wonder we can't make any progress on any of our house projects or, say, life projects! No wonder we never make dinner plans with friends (or, if we do, no wonder it derails a whole day)! Do you think if I scheduled my evenings like I do my days -- treating laundry like a conference call and playtime with the dog like a board meeting, I'd be able to be more efficient and fit more things in?

The first thing going on my to-do list is to win the lottery and pay someone to do all this stuff for me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

True Love

Scene: Living room, after dinner. The TV is on (Comedy Central). Work is being done on laptops.

ME (looking up from laptop, placing hand on Wilbur's arm): Sweetie.

HIM: ??

Please don't EVER go to Jared.

HIM: Anything for you.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Experiments in Consumerism

Oh, okay, here’s something to update, and you can all (All! Ha! Listen to me!) help keep me on track. February is going to be the Month of No Purchases. Actually, I started over the weekend, so it’s going to be a little over a month. But I’m beginning a strict curtailment of personal expenses. The catalogues are going straight in the recycling bin as soon as they hit the mailbox. The emails are being deleted as soon as they hit. I’m staying out of the stores, and I’m going to cut down on food and happy-hour expenditures. No new shoes, just because they’re such a good deal. No new music for a while, I’ve got so much on my iPod that I listen to so infrequently. No Starbucks – the firm provides passable coffee that I doctor up so much anyway. No quick runs to Chick-fil-A for lunch – I’m going to plan ahead instead. Leftover city, here I come.

It’s time that I recognized, officially, that I am a spendthrift. (“Hi, I’m Jenny M, and I like to shop.”) I can justify just about any purchase, and I need to stop it. I’ve actually been working on this for a while. I have nearly paid off my clothing store credit cards – I’m making the final payment to J. Crew this week. I’d already stopped going to Starbucks around Thanksgiving. But I took a look – a REAL look – at my bank account and was astonished at how much those “drink or two” evenings after work add up, and how quickly “a quick lunch” becomes money down the drain every day.

I’m not placing an absolute moratorium on spending. You’ve got to go to the grocery store, and you’ve got to buy birthday presents and I’m not going to kid myself and say that I’m not going to get a drink after work now and then. But it’s time to grow up and accept responsibility for my spending habits. A friend said this past weekend that she’d gone a month without buying anything for herself – anything “unnecessary,” that is. And it just struck me – that seems like it would be so easy, and I expect it’s really not. I’ve become accustomed to not having to think too hard about whether or not to buy a new shirt or a new pair of jeans or a new book, and I’ve lost touch with any sense of how quickly the money flows out: just as quickly as it flows in. That makes me feel vaguely panicky, although we are by no means struggling. When I look down the road, that’s not how I want to feel. So, I’m challenging myself to step back and get it under control.

This New Years’, I did something I’ve never done before: I opened a savings account. And it feels good.
Call it a hiatus, I guess.

I was already thinking about restarting as of February 1, but then one of the blogs I regularly check out (the FABU Sundry at www.sundrymourning.com) mentioned that she'd be catching up on her commenters' blogs this week and I felt shamed into starting my comeback early.

Woo! (And, hi? Hi.)

I don't think there is a lot of catch-up to be done, because the reason behind my prolonged absence is: work. Work, work, work. There were a few holidays in there with the attendant travel, but the utterly boring, snooze-inducing truth is that we just got massively busy at work in November and December and I ended just about each day with a headache that felt like a tiny house-techno party was happening in my skull and the last thing I could contemplate was cracking open the laptop to stare at the screen some more. So I didn't.

(One thing I've been noticing lately with blogs, and not that I'm noticing this with my own blog, mind you, since I don't exactly have a "following" -- per se, but when someone with a fairly regular schedule stops updating for some reason, people get crazy mad. Why? I mean, go read something else, you know? It may be disappointing not to get your daily fix, but it's a freaking BLOG and life happens and stuff and why do people feel like the blogger owes them something, somehow? So weird. I know I've said it before, but I feel it bears repeating, often. The internet is weird, man.)

So, life rolls on. We had the extended family (both sides of the extended family) over for Thanksgiving and I wish, wish, WISH I had taken a picture of the decor before the masses arrived because I went all Martha Stewart on the house, if I do say so myself. We got out the nice crystal and the nice dishes (even though we were a couple of place settings short) and brought the kitchen table around into the front hall to extend the dining room and it looked awesome. I think it was about 20 people, but only about 16 at any one time. Sit-down dinner for that many people is a lot - or it is if you live in the boonies and people don't make it all the way out to your house much for this sort of thing. Fortunately, I have wised up in my old age and this time around I farmed out the side dishes and left the turkey and a couple of do-ahead desserts for myself.

Wilbur continues the life of the nomad. He was able to spend most of December at home, which was so much better than what I had feared -- that he would be on the road a lot more and not able to .... well, I was going to say spend quality time with his family, basking in the warm and fuzzy glow of the holidays, but who am I kidding? I wanted him to do stuff around the house. And the other thing, too.

But life has been fairly uneventful for us over the past couple of months. I will go back to writing my posts in the evening, which seemed to work pretty well the times I managed to do it -- and now that things are slowing down a bit I should be able to keep myself from weeping uncontrollably when I look at the laptop in the evening.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

And Finally, Yesterday's Return of the Blogger...

This is the entry that I wrote last night, and now I’m finally home to post it…

Hi! Remember me? No? Well, pretend like you do.

I think the problem was that I wanted to have someTHING to write about, and really, I just need to DO it, you know? (Of course you do. You probably have a pretty, shiny blog that you update a lot.)

So, I'm sitting here on the couch and I've just finished working on some agreements for work and in a few minutes the Beast and I will engage in some pack behavior and play tug of war with the icky rope toy and I'll reassert my dominance as, if not the alpha dog, at least the ahead-of-the-Beast dog in the pecking order, and we'll probably have some concentrated belly rub time. I have the Food Network on (which -- does this network even have actual cooking shows on anymore?) and "Unwrapped" is on right now, which seems to be a "how it's made" kind of show. This episode is about candy. You don't know me, but if you did, you would realize that this is terribly apropos. At any rate, the host of this shindig is Marc Summers. You know, Double Dare Marc Summers. Do you remember that? With the slime and the obstacle course and the questions and the flags and the goo? On Nickelodeon? With the goofy, boyish host? HE HAS GREY HAIR. And that is all I have to say about that.

We've been aggressively making plans in the past few days four our trip to Knoxville for the Tennessee/South Carolina game. (Burglars, abandon hope. We have housesitters.) The scheme at present is to take Wilbur's parents' RV up to Knoxville and host tailgatapalooza. We've never done this before (I mean, we've been to football games before, but we've never done the RV tailgating party thing) and I fully anticipate it being The Griswolds Go to the Game or something like. Not that it won't be hilarious fun, but before it's over, I'm sure my father will have punched the Marty Moose statue and Cousin Eddie will have set Neyland Stadium on fire. I'm sure someone will have fallen down and I'm sure the hops-based shenanigans will alienate at least one member of the party from all the others for the rest of the weekend. At last count, we have at least 12 people attending in our party alone. Anyone have any fail-proof tailgate party food ideas?

Well, I'm off to nurse my lingering head cold with the judicious application of Riesling (Wine! Apply Directly To The Gullet!) and rub the dog's stomach until he passes out. Carry on!

Martha I Ain't

Yes, I'm at work, but I'm taking a late lunch. (Which I brought from home. ARE YOU IMPRESSED?) I've been doing a little on-line Christmas shopping (HOW IMPRESSED ARE YOU?) and thought I'd pop in here. I composed an entry last night but then Blogger was "temporarily unavailable" or something, so I'll have to post it later. I can't post it now because it lives on my laptop at home. So the "where have I been?" post will have to go up later tonight, because last night I was apparently too busy monitoring the backs of my eyelids to log back in.

So, anyway, between starting opening up Blogger and logging on, I've completely lost my train of thought and forgotten what it was I was going to write about. Instead, how about a decorating question?

Here's what our front door looks like in the summer. Kind of. Because I'm at work and I don't have a picture of our front door. (Okay, it's looked like this for three years straight, now. We had real plants there once upon a time, but I killed them, like I always do, so one spring, we sprung [ha ha] for some real-looking fake plants. But, FINE, they don't look so "real" in the winter.)

front door

We're going to replace the plants at floor level with some more seasonally-appropriate evergreen-y looking things. But what on earth do I do with the hanging baskets? We've got these wrought-iron hooks attached on either side and we need to hang something there, right? Or do we just leave them empty? Wilbur suggested hanging skeletons there for Halloween and then leaving those up all year round and dressing them appropriately for different seasons and holidays. I love that man.

ETA: Um, Holy White Space, Batman. Sorry about that. Maybe I'll replace that with a real photo.

Monday, September 10, 2007


In less ubiquitous news, I managed to get up and get my fine behind downtown for class this morning. Score one for me! I think moving the alarm clock further (farther?) from my flailing arms worked, since I had to actually wake up enough to acknowledge what was happening.

This still doesn't do anything about my morning bitterness, though. Why do morning people want to talk so much? I figured monosyllables and a ferocious scowl were a fair signal of STOP TALKING TO ME UNTIL AT LEAST 8:30 but sometimes people won't shut up and then I have to shoot the death ray laser beams from my eyeballs and it's just a mess.

Make it stop...

Oh, dear.

I don’t suppose I really have anything new to add to what will undoubtedly be a minor uproar over a certain former pop princess’s “come-back” performance yesterday evening. Yes, we switched over to the (erstwhile) music channel last night at 9:00 to see what we’d find, and I’m not claiming any moral high ground here by saying we shouldn’t have watched it – we were intended to watch it and the decisions of too many individuals went into producing it for anyone to really claim she was excusably unprepared for the event (including, one assumes, the decision of Miss B, herself, though one also wonders whether she was in a state of mind last night to make decisions, period, whether her fog was due to chemicals, a hangover, nerves or just plain exhaustion).

It was a confusing, stumbling, embarrassing mess of a performance from a performer who – love her or hate her – was at one time one of the most drooled-over women in the country, with one of the most tightly toned bodies and high-energy performance styles out there. Anyone who saw the performance last night would acknowledge that she looked out of shape* and out of breath, disconnected and woefully unprepared – marking her movements lethargically and often lip-synching with the wrong part of the song, when she was lip-synching at all – and her styling was terribly, awfully off.

All of that is yet another indication of something deeply wrong on a personal level – and no wonder, as we have all been (for better or worse) witness to her highly publicized personal struggles with motherhood, divorce and alleged substance abuse. Lord knows, I can sympathize with a person’s individual emotional difficulties, and people deal with things differently. To me, she clearly needs a steadying, guiding influence, and not only for her personal wellbeing. Like it or not, a pop star’s image is her business, her brand. Her look and her sound, her style and her actions are all part of the production and privacy is rarely part of the deal. It must be tremendously difficult to keep your grasp on your sense of self, if you are ever truly allowed to understand what your own sense of self may be (as I suspect she never has been), and to hold on to it while the Public You is held out for consumption. I can’t imagine that a person could do that on his or her own, which is why a Pop Star has an entourage of publicists and trainers and stylists and assistants, not to mention hopefully at least one or two true friends, whether it’s a mom or a sister or a buddy, to keep it real and deal out the tough love when necessary.

So where is her entourage? Is everyone afraid of crossing her? Does she have enough money that she doesn’t care and doesn’t listen? How do you approach someone who is so massively out of touch and persuade them to accept help? At what point does everyone give up and let the star retreat to Neverland Ranch to emerge every now and then embroiled in some even crazier shenanigans? Leaving the personal out of it, since the Pop Star is a business, isn’t there anyone with the foresight to recognize that the long-term benefits of truly shaping up and kicking ass would be much more lucrative and satisfying than the immediate gratification of an elaborate meltdown? Is there, in fact, a rock bottom? Is this all our fault, for encouraging and continuing to support her place in the public eye?

I’m not going to try and offer trenchant commentary on what all this hoopla and the inevitable tearing-down says about the state of our culture and our morals – those points will be made by others more eloquent than I can be. But I just have to wonder what the ultimate point is supposed to be. It would certainly be less embarrassing for the rest of us if last night’s performer would get the help and support that she needs on a professional level, and I do hope that she somehow gets the help and support that she seems to need so desperately on a personal level, whether she realizes she needs it or not. While I assume she has plenty of money and advantages that the average person can’t dream of, it’s still saddening and depressing to see someone with so much potential flounder so badly. It makes me feel like we’ve all failed, somehow.

*Out of shape for her, though I think on real-world terms she great, especially for having had two children since we saw her last.