Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's a marathon, baby... and you're on mile 22

Final days. 5 left before the LSAT. Then I get my life back. It will still be full, stressful, etc. But this very long stint in LSAT hell will be over. I can say with full honesty that I have given it everything that I have to give. It has been quite an experience. I'll probably weigh in with more detail later- suffice it to say that right now I feel like I've been through a meat grinder. And not in a good way. I was in class from 3:30-10:15 PM yesterday- either with a tutor or in actual class. I really just hope that it all pays off.

I'm not going into the whole anxiety profile- that wouldn't be good right about now.

I'll perhaps post more this week- but if not, I'm thinking you will all understand.

And a quick note- yesterday it was hell on the bus. They closed a downtown tunnel, and all buses were re-routed to surface streets. My usually 15 minute commute was 45 minutes. I was standing the entire time. It was ok, though- I wasn't too worried.
I made eye contact and smiled at a small homless-looking man. He didn't look well. Very sickly. I felt him touch my hand- I looked at him and he stood and tried to give me his seat. It really slayed me. What a gesture- the first of its kind in my experience. I smiled, thanked him and declined- I couldn't live with myself if I had taken a sick man's seat. It made my day, though. Happy mojo to him.

On Saturday, around 8:30 Pacific time, please send me happy mojo!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Questions du jour

Why does the bus smell like piss? Even in the morning?

Why does our living room smell like poop? There isn't any there. We checked.

Do ghosts smell like poop? Are we haunted?

Will my toenail grow back? Or will I have a super freaky ugly big toe that rejects all forms of polish and prettification?

That's all for today.

What are ya gonna do?

Figures- just when you let your guard down, and think everything is ok, you get hit with one of those long dark winters of the soul in the middle of the night. Mine occurred the night before last. Bleak as hell. Bleak as the house that Dickens built.
Full of self doubt. Full of fury. Full of sound- from the steel mill down the hill. Round and round we go- following obsessively the same fucking stupid sequence of thoughts down the rabbit hole. And be damned if you can pull out of it. Just enjoy the ride, sunshine, cuz short of getting up and making a pot o tea, nothing is gonna save you.

I learned something though- and I hardly have the ego to suggest that it's a universal. What shut my head the fuck up was finally just letting it go. Saying to myself, "self- whatcha gonna do about it right now?" Duly noted, but what can occur at 3AM?

I have a touch of the OCD in my makeup (Spouse snorts, "a touch???"), and have struggled with obsessive thoughts almost as long as I can remember. I have done the therapy track a couple of times, with some real success. I just tackled one of my largest and most difficult demons recently. And basically won. Now I'm trying to apply the technique to other areas.

I tend to fixate on an object. Usually for sale. Usually expensive. That object (in this case a ring) will save my life. It will make everything all right. It becomes a talisman for my reality. It makes the stress lesser. But not really. The stress of desire makes it the one sole thing that I fixate on. It's bigger than the ring itself. So, rather than pony up for the overpriced bauble that I've successfully lived without for over 35+ years (if you think I'm gonna disclose the actual date, you're high!), I stopped. I will probably live another 30+ years without the fucking thing. So just stop. Breathe. Realize that the ring is a panacea for what really ails you. It distracts from functioning and working through the actual stress stimulus. It doesn't really matter. It doesn't own you- and you don't need it. So. I will choose to buy it or not buy it. It won't make me do anything. I don't give it power over my bank account.

And somewhere, a couple of therapists (very nice, capable, lovely people) are cheering!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Whatcha doin?

Spouse used to ask, "Where ya goin piece of wood?" Makes me laugh out loud every time.

Been busy as hell this last week. Sorry not to write, but by the time it occurred to me, I was either in a time crunch or too damned tired. LSATs are a week out, and I'm trying to finalize some strategy stuff.

I had a job interview today for a really, really cool job. I told the guys that I want the job, and that I'm their girl. I hope that I convinced them of this. I really do think I can do one hell of a job for them. We'll see. I'm supposed to know in about a week. Which is good, since the job I currently have ends on October 7th. We're swamped at work, which is also why I'm so damned tired. We had a huge deadline today, so it should get better.

Today on the bus we had anger management man at the first stop before my house. He was totally profane about getting off the bus using the front door. He came unglued rather easily. I was kind of hoping that the driver would argue with him some more, but it didn't go there. I wanted to see the little fucknugget get his comeuppance. It would've capped off a grueling day very nicely.

Am now watching the news to see what has washed away in the last hour or so. It's rough to watch. Guess I'll dust off the credit card and donate some more...

Oh- another thing that happened in the last week- we had to put the kitten, Buddy on the prozac. Seriously. It is kitty prozac- tuna flavored. No shit. Seriously. For real. He has been peeing on the bed. While we're in it. When he gets upset. This makes me very unhappy. So rather than kill him or harm him or get rid of his cute little ass, we are trying this. The vet assures us that there's a good chance that it will enable him to forget his former behaviors. I would put good money on it that he did this before we got him, and that the woman who was fostering him lied about his training habits. He had been fostered once before. Two foster homes in a 4 month life span seems a tad suspicious in retrospect. I just didn't even think about it at the time. Guess I should've. But I was in love. Still am. Just more nervous at bedtime than I was before.

Get this- they did a background check on me for my current job. Seems that the agency is claiming that they had to run checks on 12-15 city/counties that I have resided in. What bullshit. I have only lived in 7 city/counties in my entire life. This is a ripoff. So sayeth I.

Anyway- time to go eat, mes amigos.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lunchtime conversation

Bot and I went to lunch at a cafe about 2 blocks from the house. Lovely day. We really like the place. Local feel.

Whilst dining, we had a fun conversation. Yesterday I went to Microsoft for a usability research thingy. I was the user. It was fun. It really made me think about the problem at hand that the designers had with the product.

And as a corollary to that thought, in class today we discussed a question that had to do with keyboard design. One of the guys in class said that when he was working on the IBM Selectric, they kept in mind that the keyboard should be designed to slow typists down a bit. Just to help with accuracy in the pre-computer era, when it was a bigger deal to correct errors. I remember it well. And not always with fondness.

What was interesting was that we were talking about how the generations before ours are the last ones that won't be predominately computer literate. When they die off, there will be no one (unless they are from a country without computer access, or kept in some kind of Luddite hole in the ground) who doesn't have computer acumen on some level. And yes, some of my generation probably have missed the trend- but I would be willing to bet that they are a tiny minority.

My Mom came to mind while I was talking about computer literacy, because even though she has one, and fires it up for several hours a week, she's deathly afraid of doing something to break it (with good cause, actually). She isn't comfortable with it. She doesn't really like it. And from what the research engineer said yesterday, it's a common reaction amongst women of a certain age. Since my Step-dad is even more computer-hostile, I don't think it's a function of sex. My Dad, on the other hand is amazingly tecchie. He would've been a Microsoftie in another incarnation. Like a fish to water.

So it's an interesting proposition- think about it- what other kind of technological revolution has or will keep a generation of people out of the loop? The car came to mind- I know that plenty of people back in the day didn't embrace it, never learned how to drive, and probably died never driving. But modes of transportation now are basically variations on a theme. Ditto communication. Better, stronger, faster, cheaper- but same old, same old. Maybe we'll see drastic changes in more obscure fields like medicine, etc. But I don't know how it would shake out in the more overt areas.

And older people are on occasion, embracing the tecchie thing. My Grandfather (see the last post) was on the net and writing emails at the age of 91. I'm not sure, however, that my Grandmother knows what a computer is exactly. She doesn't understand what the hell I do for a living. Not a clue. Nope. The TV remote is a stretch for her. And I'm not trying to be mean. Just accurate.

So, unless science and medicine erase death- or prolong life in a huge way, I don't see much coming that will be as drastic as what has already happened. Despite what SF writers have been throwing at us for decades. I'll certainly be happy to be surprised though.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Of dogs and their men

I have watched a neighbor walking his dog for a few days now. It's easy to see him going down the street below the kitchen window. He looks like an old, retired pirate. He walks a small brown french poodle. He loves the dog.

There's something about him that makes me cry inside. Conjures up my Grandfather's ghost.

My Grandmother died when I was 6, leaving an enormous gap in our lives that has never been filled. It was just that bad. Always will be. It changed my Grandfather for the next 30+ years of his life. He was a good man, but he lost his joy. He found bits of it much later, but it took a lot of work, and I didn't see most of it- he reserved it for others. I'm pretty sure I reminded him of a happier time- it was hard on him. Or he just hated me. But I refuse to go there- I don't think it's the case at all. He was just sad. And after decades of not talking much to me, it became habit. I just didn't draw him out the way others did. I'm glad they did, but sad that I didn't.

Grandma had a chihuahua named Tiger that she left behind. One of the most amazing things I've witnessed was how Grandpa became Tiger's daddy. He worked crushing hours at the gas station/shop that he owned- even after they tore down the motel (which was even more of a burden- I'll miss it forever too). He had to have several operations on back injuries- and never fully recovered from them. He lost over 6" in height from them- his spine was S shaped- I saw the x rays. He slept with a board on the matress for a firmer support.

When I was in high school, and Tiger was a very old dog, I spent a couple of nights at Grandpa's while my Dad was out of town. I hadn't slept there since I was very young. That evening, Grandpa gave Tiger a bath. He was in his navy work clothes, still. His hands- for those of you who remember- were large, and very gnarled. The tips of his fingers were askew and his knuckles were misshapen. At the time, since he was working in the station, they were stained with motor oil and grease. Clean, but stained.

He gently lifted the shivering little dog into the pink tub. His large, gnarled- tree-root hands tenderly doused the dog in warm water and scrubbed his little beige body. I hadn't seen that side of the man. I had to leave the room- it was just too much to bear. He also baked my sister and I a cheese tort for dessert. These things just slayed me inside. They still do. Part of me will always be crying for Grandpa. I'll always associate the combined smells of Ivory soap and Prell shampoo with his bathroom, and Tiger's bath.

Monday, September 12, 2005


We took my Mom and Step Dad to the Ballard Locks yesterday. It's one of my favorite places in the whole world. I had a hard time explaining why- but they got it after a while.

It's like driving through a small town at night. You look into the windows of the houses and see the lives being lived- unconscious of you in the dark. Self-sufficient. Are they happy? What do they do? Is their house nice inside?

It's kinda like that at the Locks. For a few minutes, you see the boats, you watch the people on the boats living their lives. You share their conversations with people on other boats. You read the names of their boats and draw conclusions about their lives- what they do, where they live. It's wonderful.

I display endless curiosity about all of this. I love watching lives unfold around me. I don't want to interact, necessarily- just watch. Not for long- just long enough to get a taste. Then I'll move on. Nothing to see here, folks.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'm beginning to see the light

And quoting Lou Reed while I'm at it.

Slowly, she turns, step by step and realizes that, indeed, she is human after all. Not just a mass of achy phlegmy breaky heart. (phlegm is one of my most hated words in any language. Up there with polyp. There- I've said them both. Ick. I better go shower now.)

I'm getting better. So this version of flu isn't as bad as the one I had in May. It ain't a fucking cakewalk, but I'll get by. I'm skipping my class, watching Spouse do all of the rest of the moving while reclining on the couch watching 30s movies on the Tivo, and drinking my obligitory fluids.

Recommendations- I have a few. Mannequin with Joan Crawford (an acquired taste for me) and a young (and shockingly cute) Spenser Tracy was very good. Also good was Today We Live- also Joan, with Gary Cooper (has my birthday, born in the same town, allegedly hung like a fucking horse), Franchot Tone, and a very young and also suprising cute Robert Young. Whoda known?

Anyway, lest you think that I'm enjoying my illness, let me tells ya- nope. Since it has sunk to the lung region, we've entered the coughing phase of the flu. So, it's back to the couch for me, and I'll surface at a later date and confess all. Or at least some. You probably wouldn't be remotely interested in all. Just the highlights.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Things I saw on the walk to work

Before being uncerimoniously sent home (via the bus, dammit), I did see something funny on the way to work.

There was a man looking at his reflection in a plate glass window. He was fluffing and brushing his very pretty long, brownish, wavy hair. Then I noticed...it was a MULLET!!! The longest, prettiest, and most proudly displayed mullet that I have ever seen (at least since 1990). Beautiful, man. Party in back, business in the front. I always wonder if anyone has ever told him that mullets aren't de rigeur anymore. He'd probably snort, and then cold cock anyone stupid enough to mention it.

On the way to work yesterday, the bus got hit. By a truck. The driver didn't stop. So we proceeded on in crippled state. It was kinda funny how nonchalant our driver was about it. Didn't blink.

The woman who ran our meeting yesterday- I will describe her. You will see her in your mind's eye perfectly. She was a Tonya Hardingesque hardened blond. Only shorter. And with more current earning potential. I thought she was kinda bitchy. I'm just saying. Or it could be the virus channelling through me.

And I'm spent. Time to go sit in front of the tv and watch a Norma Shearer movie. Followed by a Jean Harlow movie. Then, if I'm still awake, I have a Greta Garbo silent to watch. Or I might just say fuck it and watch whatever crap is on Comedy Central all night. Like it matters. I'm feverish and delirious.

Take it up a notch

So yesterday we had a day-long meeting. Then I stayed and helped my boss enter the data we accumulated into the computer. It was a 14 hour day. Then I went home and promptly got the flu. I was sent home today with a fever. I haven't been sent home since I was in gradeschool. And then it was for having a 3 day intermittent bloody nose. I remember that it was the only time (non serious evening event emergency) when my dad came and walked me home. It was such an event that I remember it very well.

Anyway, I also had a job interview that I seem to have bolluxed up over the phone. I learned within hours that I didn't get the job. And I told him that I was sick and all. Fuck. I didn't want his stupid job with its $50K/year income. Stupid man with his stupid phone voice. A pox or a flu virus on his home.

Who gets the bloody flu twice in 3 months, anyway??? I want my mommy to come here and make me some pudding. I want to collapse and watch reruns of The Avengers for hours. And have a good cry (lucky Spouse- he'll be in for a really fun night tonight!). But Mom is on a boat in Alaska and will be here on Sunday. Hope I'm better by then so I don't contaminate her and my Step-father. I think that falls under the honor thy father and mother clause in the 10 commandments. Contamination = mortal sin. I'm pretty sure.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Things I learned this weekend

Lucky me- my mother and step-father came to town for a few days. Then they went on a cruise to Alaska. While they were here, I learned the following:

-the sausages from the sausage store in Pike Street Market give me a migraine. Bastards.

-the Air Force Academy has a bunch of birds of prey that they use as mascots for their football games. They carry them around. The birds do have a useful function- they are used to clear the flight deck on carriers of other birds.

-I have too many fucking plants. They moved upstairs today. I will love them again after I cease having a headache.

-just because someone claims to have 20+ years of experience doing their job doesn't make them particularly good at it. The guy who transported the cases to California is a disorganized, completely unprofessional tool. We hate him.

-The kitties are trying very hard to get my attention by jumping on the keyboard. This makes writing difficult. As does the headache. Just wanted to say something possibly interesting today.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

So today isn't the cheeriest of days

I can't quit paying attention to the news coverage. It's like on 9/11 when I was glued to the tv and the web. I am so torn up inside- it's the most helpless feeling. Yes, we've donated money. More than I can really affort since my job is ending soon. But I have to. I still feel horrible. Like there's something else that I should be doing. I'm frustrated by the inaction of the authorities. I am in full-on rant mode. And there's no real outlet that matters. I want to blame someone for the breakdown of services, etc. But really- my reasonable voice says- there's no one to blame. This wasn't intentional. This wasn't planned. It was something that they just didn't predict. And now many, many people are dead. Many, many are homeless. I just can't think about it anymore. It makes me start to cry.I feel guilty for not being part of it...which sucks. And is stupid.

Also from the Seattle Times- this made me cry. Really.

Suddenly, incongruously, the first notes of Bach's Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, the Adagio, pierced the desperation.

Samuel Thompson, 34, is trying to make it as a professional violinist. He had grabbed his instrument — made in 1996 by a Boston woman — as he fled the youth hostel Sunday where he had been staying in New Orleans for the past two months.

"It's the most important thing I own," he said.

He had guarded it carefully and hadn't taken it out until yesterday afternoon, when he was able to move from the Superdome into the New Orleans Arena, far safer accommodations. He rested the black case on a table next to a man with no legs in a wheelchair and a pile of trash and boxes, and gingerly popped open the two locks. He lifted the violin out of the red velvet encasement and held it to his neck.

Thompson closed his eyes and leaned into each stretch of the bow as he played mournfully. A woman eating crackers and sitting where a vendor typically sells pizza watched him intently. A National Guard soldier applauded quietly when the song ended, and Thompson nodded his head and began another piece, the Andante from Bach's Sonata in A Minor.

Like most in the shelter, Thompson's family in Charleston, S.C., has no idea where he is and whether he is alive. Thompson figures he is safe for now and will get in touch when he can. Meanwhile, he will play, and, once in a while, someone at the sports complex will manage a smile.

"These people have nothing," he said. "I have a violin. And I should play for them. They should have something."

And furthermore

From the Seattle Times comes the following commentary on the looting:

"That is the behavior people take under the pressure of survival," said Benigno Aguirre, professor in the department of sociology and criminal justice and the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware in Newark. "This is misconstrued as looting, as thievery."

In disaster, social norms shift, sociologists say. What may be considered criminal or unacceptable under ordinary circumstances becomes reasonable.

"Expectations and social agreements can be suspended ... because the situation is so dire," said Barbara Feldman, associate sociology professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.

Yes, I took it from a longer article. But the main, unanswered question that I see above is whether or not they are referring only to food. In which case, yes, I agree. But if they're referring to the looting of luxury items, then I have an issue with their argument. I don't see that behavior under any circumstances, regardless of social position as being resonable. I think it's ugly and wrong. Period. Food and necessities- sure. Dvd players and tvs, nope. Human nature totally blows on occasion. Sadly, I don't have an answer, a cure or even a good suggestion on how to fix the problem. Nothing. nada.

The world is a vampire

The coverage of New Orleans is just killing me. Sapping away at my defenses. It's so up and down. The best of humanity, and the very, very worst.
I heard a story on NPR this morning about a 20 year old guy who commandeered a school bus and drove a bunch of people he picked up along the way to Houston. They're at the Astrodome. Good for him. Give him a well-paying job- he shows initiative and spirit under very bad circumstances. I'm impressed.
The looters who are menacing not only the Walmarts in the area have hit the hospitals. Fuck them. Start shooting those fuckers. They have no excuse to live. It's one thing to steal food. I would do that under the circumstances. It's another to steal from a hospital that is trying to care for people in far worse shape than yourself. Looks like greed on the prowl to me. And I heard a man on tv justifying it by saying that they were "opressed" to begin with. That makes me very angry. There is no excuse for acting like a predatory beast. None. Leave the hospitals and the doctors alone, chump- they would take care of your sorry ass if you were in need.
And then there's the ineptitude of the response in general. I don't think it's hard to imagine how quickly social structure breaks down when the basic necessities of life are taken away. Without food, water, sanitation and general personal comfort, people are going to get crazy. I'm thinking of the problems faced at the Convention Center and the stadium. Put that many people in those places, and it's going to be rough going if the logistics aren't fully thought out in advance. That appears to be what happened here. I just can't fathom why there wasn't a better response. I would imagine that a city of that size and topography would have a very well-developed disaster relief team. It would make sense, no? Evidently not.
And what about the people who are stuck there? They seem to be majority poor. The sick, old and infirm, I can understand. The poor, I can also understand. Without your own vehicle, there doesn't seem to have been much of an alternative to staying. So why weren't planners on top of this? I would think that disaster professionals in New Orleans would know the demographics they were dealing with. I don't think that they're seeing residents of the Garden District in the Convention Center right now. I hope to God that they don't find out in later years that the response was poorly planned because no one cared about the poor people. I hope it's just human incompetence rather than corruption.