Wednesday, August 30, 2006

LI by Mercedes

Did you know you could fly directly into the heart of Long Island? Thereby skipping the noise, the mire, the polka-dot sidewalks of NYC (Where did you get that gum?) and its airports...Well, direct is relative, since we had to get up ongodly early (thanks for driving, Val!), and swing by Chicago to pick up two self-righteous colonialists, one of whom commandeered my crosswords that I had printed out special.

With Marie and Michael on the treacherous rocks.

As we all grow older and transition into well-paid professionals, we get to see Sarah and Alexis lose their shit in fancier venues...they cannot be controlled.

Long Island is much more:
~full of obscenely rich people
~full of obscenely gay people (well, rich gay men to be clear...quoth Alexis in Sag Harbor: "Nice jeans, buddy, and nice SOCK.")

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mr. Owl

How many steps does it take?





(Actually, it took uncountable steps in between. UNCOUNTABLE steps and immeasurable anguish. And, for reference, the earliest photos are from last Thanksgiving. But, but, but, we're starting to see the way to the end.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Where are my shnizzters??

Dang it.

Sigh and double sigh. I'm missin' my sissens.

You know a relationship's in trouble when...

...after an absence, it's as if you don't know one another at all.

I let my iPod lie quiet and unused for almost two months. I just wasn't into it, I guess. When I charged it up again, I set it to shuffle (as I normally do), and it started spitting back music that just didn't fit me now. Funkster music I used to love, I guess, with whiney scenesters professing their unrequited love for the most perfect vinyl accessories.

I was like: "Whose music is this? It is v. crappy."

I made some playlists for myself, especially since I was doing so much running over the last month or so, but I tell you, I'm just not as good at it as the beanPod...or, at least, as the beanPod That Was. I kept skipping songs I didn't like, hoping against hope that the little guy would get the idea and begin, perhaps, to know me again.

Then somewhere outside the freightyards of Gary, it was just like it used to be: the beanPod knew what I wanted even though I was unsure myself. He stopped playing Franz Ferdinand and the Arcade Fire, and started playing Sigur Ros, Four Tet, and the Cocteau Twins (which is the perfect music for rail travel, which you, too, may discover outside the freightyards of Gary) - dreamy, confused music like you've woken from a winter's nap and it's already grown dark, like you are too heavy to rouse and re-integrate and the world seems like you're viewing a shadow box of charming trinkets, double-stick-taped to a velveteen surface.

And that's when you know a relationship's worth diamonds, when it shows you yourself like you didn't even know you were, and the depth of the moment would move your heart to your throat, except you find it's been there all along.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Long live the Queen!

My long, restful summer is coming to an end. It has been a time of contemplation, or answering big questions, like:

How delicious is Trader Joe's hemp/flax granola?
How disgusting is the vanilla goo at the bottom of Brown Cow's lowfat vanilla yoghurt?
And, mostly, if you give in to the daily urge for Dairy Queen - specifically a small vanilla/chocolate twist dipped in chocolate coating, light on the ice cream, heavy on the chocolate - will the urge abate or intensify?

The answers are: relatively delicious, v. disgusting, and you probably already know the answer to that last one.

Seriously, I have been demanding Dairy Queen almost every night before bed. In Minneapolis, I kept demanding it and instead being fed hip and interesting local ice cream. Tasty, to be sure, but twasn't the 'Queen. There's something about Dairy Queen's ice cream that is not too sweet, their chocolate is a cool, refreshing chocolate, and their chocolate dip is delightfully crisp and waxy (though application skills vary widely). This is the same thing I have gotten since I was too short to order for myself at the Glen Dairy Bar...I have spent a lifetime perfecting the art of vigilantly catching the ice cream dripping out from beneath the brittle, cracking chocolate crust.

The cone itself brooks no argument, nor waffling. Eat it or let it melt, it cares not. Its knowledge and surety of itself is not dependent upon your approval or consumption - it is at the end as it is at the beginning: perfect and whole...simultaneously out of time and imbedded deep within it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

What my iPod taught me

Ye Gods I hate the sound of children's voices raised in song. It's like chewing on tinsel...with your ears.

The effect of singing children is sometimes mediated by the fact that they can be gathered in great numbers and therefore no voice is independently niggling, and the overall effect is only slightly nauseating rather than blindly infuriating. I don't hear nascent life and hope, rather I hear the flat, nasal sounds of abject ignorance -- ignorance that is so deep and wide that it takes decades of smashing to breach.

Perhaps it really is a matter of whether you feel children are innocent or ignorant. Though, I assume innocence is annoying in it's own way, like the unending babble of nonsense. Innocence, at least on some level, knows that it doesn't know. It doesn't debate, it doesn't announce, it doesn't declare. Ignorance, on the other hand, doesn't know that it doesn't know - it's ugly and confident and oh so dangerous. This is what I hear in children's voices, and it's a horrible, terrible sound, indeed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

36 Hours in Louisville

As I'm only now getting back into posting, I'm slowly catching up on a whole slew of summer events. I have to say, the most important of which was probably this:

Radiology Boards

My one, of course passed them without question...but there were months and months of quizzing, of index cards, and especially late nights and early mornings of this:

Radiology Boards are held only once per year in Louisville. Why they make civilized people go to Kentucky is beyond me, it's just wholey unsafe and unsavory for those of us living comfortably in the North. We tried to fit in:

We checked into our hotel room, and didn't leave for 24 hours. Hmph, now that I write it, it sounds much more interesting than it actually was. Frankly, Alexis studied continually, and I ordered room service between episodes of "Wedding Cake Showdown" on the Food Network. Room service and Red Bull. Yup.

But, there was no way around it...five hours, ten subjects, and passed each one. I am unutterably proud. (Though the morning of boards, Alexis held her entrance card up and announced forcefully: "This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life." I just laughed.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Steady, ready, go!

We finally moved the gas line yesterday. That's right - gas lines...that are for some reason are not covered in any of our home repair books. Like it's rocket science or something? It's not, it's ridiculously simple, but scarey in that way that things are when you don't know if you'll live through the repair job. This is how I felt when we put a new breaker in the main box. We were all excited that we could actually add a line, and then it turns out when you open the box, the service lugs are continually hot. That is, you're fiddling around (in the dark) a cramped little space with these shiny, attractive bolts threatening to zap you so hard you are inextricably joined with the opposite foundation wall. I was gonna do it, but then I started crying. I mean, really crying with whimpery anger from the fear of it. Alexis made me get down, it was totally lame.

I'm not sayin' you're gonna die or nothin', but you'd better have a friend with a board ready to knock your ass away from that power source. The electrician who worked on the service drop instructs her assistants to pull the ladder out from under her - that the 15-foot fall would be totally worth all that life she'd lose otherwise.

So, gas turns out to be pretty dang easy, and even a bit less scary than electric (in the breaker box electric, not changing outlets and stuff...that's easy enough that we have the dogs do it now.) Though we did spend a fair amount of time looking for "The Idiot's Guide to NOT Esploding" at Home Depot. We figured that book would cover all the good stuff - how to not esplode natural gas lines, how not to esplode yourself with big electricity, how to not esplode bags of fine sawdust, and avoiding that diet Coke/Mentos thing. I'm telling you, that book would come in handy-dandy.

I think we're all good with the gas line, but I'm suspicious - I've done the soap-bubble thing, and I've hung Kordax from the basement rafters in a mesh bag. I don't think a small gas leak would kill him, rather I'm expecting it would lead to some super-luper the ability to gnaw through concrete, or get me out of speeding tickets. Right now, his single shocking power is projectile pooping. I'm serious - if you prime him with a potato chip, he can poop on surfaces more than 8 feet away. It's startling, really.
Kris's Photo - BEHOLD THE CUTE...and he's coming to get you.

He's gonna fuck your shit up.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Home lessons

I was recounting to Miriam the aforementioned completed tasks...she responded, as most who have to look after their own houses do - "Holy shit. What are you guys thinking?" Folks also like to tell us "You two put us to shame, man. You're doing everything!" Part of that is true, we are doing almost everything (okay, so we were uninterested in playing around with the cable that brings ALL of the electricity into the house, but other than that...), but what people don't know is that we have short bursts of frenzied activity between long periods of doubt and anguished paralysis.

And begging.

The begging is me. Alexis has only begged once in this entire three years - she begged me not to make her get the house. Which I did, sight-unseen, from Vancouver. Seriously. Hey, it was an incredibly tight market that year, and our offer was accepted 36 hours after the damn house was put on the market...time was of the essence, and we were running out of it.

Since then, I've been doing all the begging. Saturday afternoon found us in Lowe's (surprise) in the plumbing section, trying to find an elegant solution to a water line for the icemaker. I begged. Please, please, please...can't we do something kind of ugly? We're not going to find the right parts, please can't we just go home and do it? Of course, we did find a perfectly lovely solution...though we're not sweating on a tee, rather vampiring on a line to the nearest cold-water. At least this solution provides a shut-off.

It goes like this, I'm generally begging us to do smaller projects - to not tear down the paneling, to tile rather than refinish 3/4 of the downstairs floors, to keep the projects as small as possible, so that we can live in a finished house for once.

Alexis, on the other hand, fiercely strides forward, attacking things I would never have the guts to do. And because of this, we know so much more than we ever could have hoped to know...we have learned so much. Yet this knowledge is so fucking hard-won, it is so terrifying and worrysome, and we never trust that we've done it right.

I have never before learned something at such sacrifice to my emotional well-being, I am learning this shit with every ounce of myself - it's not just my brain that's engaged, but I have learned to steady my heart against a seemingly-insurmountable tasks, my hands have learned to pry and scrabble, and to clamp firm a thing that must be steady, my body has learned to bleed and sweat and not to stop. The other day, I was holding up a 4x8 sheet of drywall with my fingertips, and my knees slipped and squeaked on the floor, slipping in a pool of my own sweat...

The thought occurred to me again tonight, that we will be leaving this place relatively soon...that we're more than half-way through with our tenure in this motherfucking town. And I thought of how I would feel about this house when we're finally gone - tender, or proud, or nostalgic for our first little ladybug home together? I realized that this is the building that saw me dragged, kicking and wailing, into adulthood. I can't say I'm grateful, nor am I best, I am relieved. I say "at best" because one of the primary lessons I've learned about adulthood, as I spin and drop along this gravel path, is that it just keeps getting harder. Whatever is so hard now, it's nothing compared with what's coming. Knowing that provides some sort of strange relief.

The third one...

I've managed to break three of these 5/8" quick-load drill bits in the last few weeks. Just to be clear, the cheapest ones of these run at least $5.78, which, admittedly, is not terrible unless you are already spending two hundred dollars at Lowe's that day, and you've already broken three and plan on breaking more. It's all the damn toenailing (toe screwing? Oh, excuse me) we've been doing...still no drywall, but new window, new electric, removal of partition walls, and furring+furring+furring. The walls are like portraits of urban decay: here crumbling plaster/there still-gummy mastic glue from the twenties, here 150-year-old dimensional four-by-fours/there brandy-new cheap pine two-bys that warped terribly before we got a chance to install them.

Honestly, though, there's no reason to do so much screwing. Jesus, I'm always thinking to myself that one only needs to properly nail, but I just ain't got the skills.

--Wait a minute...screwing? Nailing? Merciful can't even talk about home remodeling without accidentally using a filthy sexual euphemism! No wonder my neighbors won't touch me (seriously, our neighbors - members of the Christian cult "The Brethren" won't shake my hand or tell me their names. They said it wasn't anything personal, but that it was an effort to stick to the old ways. I mean, seriously, who doesn't long for the simpler days of unquestioned and blatant misogyny? I know I do.)

I'm completely serious about the screwing vs. nailing thing, I'd nail more often if I could increase my accuracy and endurance.

With a hammer - a HAMMER. God.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So in love...

My new running shoes are simply the bomb. Though I admit to being sorely tempted by Nike's new iPod/sneaker/pacer combo (you even get to chose a "power song" that will play when you need a boost), I am, for better or worse, an Asics kinda girl. I spent two hours trying on various shoes at the two running stores in town and using innappropriate language to convey my satisfaction level with each pair ("These aren't cuddling me right...I want a pair that cuddles me better.") I tried on a bunch of Brook's (toddler shoes), New Balance (Never Buy), and finally the updated versions of my much-beloved Asics.

It was so right, baby, so right.

In my travels, I also found that the running store up the road from me is carrying a (teeny-tiny) women's plus section, and nabbed meself a nifty pair of knee-length compression shorts. Of course, they're only black, so when worn with my favorite blue bra top, I feel I must appear as a gentle blue planet about to be sucked into the GIANT BLACK VOID OF SPACE, which is actually my ass.

Speaking of asses, I almost laughed mine off when I reviewed the requirements for "Athena" runners (Athena is a competition class of larger women, as Clydesdale is for men) - 135. That's right, if you're over 135 and a woman (of any height) I'm in your competition class. Ha! Try running our race carrying two bags of dog kibble, ya wusses...