Monday, January 30, 2006

Utterly Uninspired and Rambling

Something exciting and/or interesting needs to happen, because I am just not inspired to write anything. I’m sure a full month of bleakitude has a lot to do with my lack of inspiration. I have not been out walking around much and I need to do that or I wind up in the doldrums.

Portland had an earthquake on Saturday, but it wasn’t really exciting and/interesting (not that I would have wanted that kind of excitement). I’m not going to check my facts on this, but I think it measured 2.9 on the Mercalli scale, which means it was too feeble to even rattle the teacups in granny's cupboard.

Most of Sunday was devoted to knitting the sweater—not that most people want to hear about that. But I will say that all that’s left to do are the sleeves and I’ve knitted about one-third of one of them. If I didn’t have to work, I would just sit down and knit nonstop and finish that sweater, and then start on something new like a pair of felted clogs. Making a pair of felted clogs might be quite amusing, because the deal with felted things is that you knit something humongous and then throw it in the washing machine and it shrinks down to a normal size. So for a felted clog what you have to do is knit this big floppy Bozo shoe that’s like two feet long and a foot wide. My favorite yarn shop has one of these big unfelted Bozo shoes on display next to its shrunken, felted mate, and it cracks me up every time I see it. I would love to be knitting something weird like that. Seriously, it just seems like the thing to do be doing when every time you look out the window it’s misting, drizzling, sprinkling, paddocking,* or bushwhacking**--all of which we’ve experienced in copious amounts continuously for the past 30+ days.

I did go out with some friends to a fancyish restaurant Saturday night. Going to a fancy restaurant is not something I do as much as I would like to because of 1) the expense and 2) B likes restaurants that are a “good value.” It turns out that I have a bunch of friends whose significant others/husbands/partners/what-have-yous feel the same way as B and they were all dying to go somewhere nice, too, and have an excuse to dress up a little teeny bit.

The place, the uber-hip Clarklewis, where one goes to see and been seen (yeah, that's us all right) has one of those deals where you can pay a flat fee and then the chef picks out a bunch of stuff off the menu for you and you just eat it. (Is that what Prix Fixe is? See? This is what a clodhopper I am. I don’t even know. Actually, I’m pretty sure Prix Fixe is something else, but Prix Fixe sounds like it would be the right term.) Anyway, all but one of us went that route, which meant that we probably got to try about 2/3 of the entire menu. It was all pretty darn good, too, even if I can't rightly remember what all I ate and there was more food than I could finish. The mussels were divine--I remember that.

The highlight of the evening, however, occurred at a bar we went to after dinner--a sort of near-dive bar that keeps changing ownership and never quite seems to know what vibe it’s going for. They’ve got all these infused vodkas and their claim to fame used to be that they used fresh juices in their cocktails (not that that’s so unique), but, ewww, my drink was weak and sugary and they may have jettisoned the fresh juice thing. And there was an incompetent DJ--experimenting.

It just wasn’t very nice. Except for one thing: When were all up at the bar ordering drinks the bartender started asking to see ID. My friends (all of whom are younger than me) started laughing, because they don’t normally get carded. I haven’t been carded in I don’t know how long, so I fully expected that I would be the one person in the group who didn’t get carded, and then I would feel like crap. Ancient crap. But no! He demanded to see my ID. So old-ass me got carded and, I have to admit, I was delighted!

Of course, the bartender knew full well that we were all well past our 21st birthdays, but if he’s been on the job more than one evening, he’s figured out that he will skyrocket in the esteem of most women between the ages of 30 and 100 if he cards them. It totally worked on me. I almost always tip bartenders (unless I’ve been wantonly ignored), and I most certainly did tip this guy, but if he had carded everyone else and not me, it would have definitely bummed me out and made me feel like a crone among nymphs (or something like that)—a pissed-off crone, the kind that stiffs bartenders. Or not. Service has to be really, really bad for me not to tip, because I know that jobs like that suck.

*A term I made up as a little girl to describe a moderate, steady rain.
**A term I made up as a little girl to describe rain that is coming down so hard that the drops hit the pavement and splash back up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

When I Catch Up

My Life

Dumped out on the floor, the contents of my knitting bag are a metaphor for my life right now: maximum randomness and inefficiency. The bag holds two projects that I euphemistically maintain are “on hold” (as opposed to “dead in the water”) as well as a selection of needles, yarn wrappers, and movie ticket stubs (nearly a year old)—all thrown in there higgledy piggledy and all hopelessly tangled in a rat’s nest of scrippy scraps of yarn from defunct projects.

But you know what’s really sad and disgraceful? Because this bag is such a mess, I’m actually using another bag to tote around my sweater project and it is rapidly becoming is just as shamefully disorganized. I’m like Beethoven. Apparently, he used to trash apartments and then just move to a new place rather than deal with the mess.

Why don’t I have an assortment of caddies, cases, reticules, sheathes, tubs, and capsules to keep everything tidily squared away? Or why don’t I at least throw away the old yarn wrappers and ticket stubs?* What is up with that? I’ve been like this my whole life, and it makes me sick, but I never seem able to sort myself out.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been feeling really short on time. I’m pretty busy with work, and there’ve been a few social obligations that engulfed some of my evenings. I keep thinking about all this stuff I’m going to do “when I catch up.”

I am never going to catch up. This is something I should have realized a long time ago, but it just now really sunk in. My time-management skills are rubbish; I am constitutionally unable to manage time. Sure, I get done what absolutely needs to be done—I ship out work assignments, pay bills, take nourishment (not always the most healthful stuff), keep groddy microorganisms from taking over the bathroom, etc. But there’s lots and lots of stuff on the same list as “organize knitting supplies” (a list, by the way, that doesn’t actually exist)—tedious chores that would take a big chunk of time but that would ultimately give me a sense of satisfaction. These things that should be but aren't on a list are infinitely deferrable and defer them infinitely I will.

Yeah, I know. I should make a list (I should! I should!) and just try to tackle one chore at a time. Or break down big tasks into smaller ones. Or maybe spend less time meandering aimlessly through the blogosphere. All that. I know all about it, but I never seem able to sustain that kind of discipline. How un-Virgoish of me.

Anyway, this was just supposed to be a short post that would in effect say: Sorry no time to blog for real tonight—I’m too overwhelmed and in the red timewise.

Oh, and I owe the entire Solar System an e-mail.

*I was so disgusted after I took the photo that I made order out of chaos (sort of). I rubberbanded the loose needles (pending the day I will have that assortment of caddies and sheathes) and threw out all the stuff that was certifiably garbage.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Thorn Without the Rose

Rooms: 75 Cents
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
It’s probably a good thing that Seattle continues to fail to win my heart. It would kind of suck if I really loved it, because there is no way I could ever afford to live there. As it is, I’m surprised our rusty 1989 Honda Civic with the cracked windshield wasn’t run out of town by a posse of stretch SUVs. Yes. We saw some of those.

It’s not that Seattle is a terrible city that has nothing to offer. It’s in the Pacific Northwest after all, so that’s a huge plus. We had a good time. We enjoyed the play, and it was great to get a chance to catch up with FBF after not seeing her for more than a year. I might feel a little more drawn to Seattle if I could ever spend some time exploring it on foot, but that never seems to happen. Invariably, we’re swarming around on that insane maze of freeways on our way to some restaurant only to discover that there’s a two-hour wait. Then we get back in the car and swarm somewhere else.

There’s so much competition for restaurant resources. It exhausts me. Even with B’s list of places to eat and Anne’s valiant efforts to save us from mediocrity, there were complications. FBF shot down many of our suggestions and there was another out-of-town visitor who had his own set of issues, so reaching a consensus was a problem. Eating in at FBF’s house was not an option. All she had in her house were three boxes of chocolate, two pieces of shortbread, coffee, and a bunch of bananas. Remember she works for Microsoft. I did find this X-Box 360 rendered in chocolate amusing, although I wasn’t about to try to eat it.

Space Needle

We did manage to walk around a little bit before the play. The theater was, like, right next to the Space Needle, so we circumnavigated it (Why? Because it was there). We even went in it (but not up it) to take a whiz and to evaluate the cheese factor of the souvenirs. I played with this, but did not fork over the $6.95 for it. We also walked up some of the big hills in the Queen Anne neighborhood, where there were magnificent views of the city. I wish we could have done more hill walking and neighborhood exploring. I will venture to say that Seattle’s skyline may possibly trump Portland’s—although Portland’s is pretty darn good.

Anyway, it was probably our most successful trip to Seattle, but Seattle is not me and it never will be. It is too populous, too competitive, too damp, too chilly, too car-dependent, and too moneyed. I don’t feel welcome there somehow.

OK. I’m sure everyone gets the picture now: I like Portland a lot better than I like Seattle. I could have saved a lot of time by just saying that in the beginning and moving right on to the sweater saga, which is probably what I should have done, since the last thing I really should be doing at the moment is frittering time blogging. (I have a ton of stuff that I need to accomplish this week, and I owe everyone in the world e-mails as well.) Anyhoo, here is the sweater as it looks today.


I am rather thrilled with it at the moment. It actually looks like a sweater or, at least, a sweaterette. There are no hideous mistakes (because I frogged the whole thing twice and started over), only a few minor ones. I think it’s all downhill from here on out—and I mean that in a good way—all the tricky stuff is over with. I’ve knitted the neck, done all the increases, and knitted armholes. All I have to do before the next class is knit down to within three inches of the bottom, which is just mindless knitting in the round. No counting or remembering. I can turn my brain off.

However, before I go any farther, I am going to put all the stitches on a length of scrap yarn and try it on—you can do that with a top-down sweater—to make sure it isn’t too small. If it is, I’ll have to rip back a few rows and add another round of increases, but better to do that now than to knit the whole sweater and then find out it will only fit a munchkin, and, sadly, I don’t know any. I am no longer thinking of jacking in the knitting hobby. In fact, I’m already thinking about other top-down sweaters I might knit. I really like the top-down technique.

I’m afraid, however, that a good portion of our class let the sweater defeat them. Of the 12 people who came to the first class, only 5 (including me) were present at the second class. That seems like a pretty high attrition rate. I considered asking the instructor if that was unusually high, but, of course, that would be crass and tactless, as it might suggest that her instruction was at fault and it certainly wasn’t. I totally can understand why people might have given up. I came within a hair of doing so myself, but I think it’s going to be worth it. There’s nothing so satisfying as creating something tangible with your hands.

I swear this is not turning into a knitting blog, but here’s a close-up of the “raglan increase,” which I think looks really cool and, surprise, surprise—I did it perfectly!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Seattle: I Don't Get It

This little sweater-knitting project of mine is causing all my free time to disappear with a giant sucking sound. I think I’ve spent about 10 hours on it this week so far. That wouldn’t be so bad if I was actually making forward progress, but I’m not. I’ve frogged the whole thing twice and currently have only an inch and a half of collar—which is by no means unflawed—on my needles. By Sunday afternoon (the next class), I’m supposed to have all the collar and yoke done and be ready to start on the sleeves.

I don’t think I’m going to make it. B and I are driving up to Seattle tomorrow to see Radio Golf by August Wilson at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. B got me the tickets as a present for my birthday (which was way back in September). I have been so totally noninvolved in the planning of this trip that I just had to check the theater's Web site just now to find out the name of the play. It’s not that I don’t want to go. It’s just that I’ve been really busy (working and knitting), and I have this weird thing about Seattle.

I don’t get it. I’ve been there twice and it’s, like, what’s the big deal about Seattle? It’s 3 inches wide and 30 miles long. It’s got that Pike Street Market where they throw fish at you. It’s got an IKEA (ICKEA). It has Microsoft. It has traffic (lots more than Portland). It has the Space Needle. And B and I get into a horrendous row every time we’re there, because driving in an unfamiliar city is a foolproof recipe for an argument for us. So you can see why I’m sort of tepid on Seattle. Oh yeah, one more thing. It’s been raining in Seattle even more than it has in Portland.

There are reasons I should like Seattle. For one thing, my former best friend (FBF) lives there. You’d think I’d be going up to Seattle to visit her all the time, but she works for Microsoft, so she’s pretty much signed away her personal life. Also, Seattle is surrounded by amazing mountains and hiking opportunities. It’s supposed to have good restaurants. But in the past we’ve not availed ourselves of any of this, because we made the mistake of trusting FBF to show us around. She kept asking us, “What do you guys want to do? What do you guys want to do? Do you want to go visit the Microsoft campus?” (Yeah, right after I drink a glass of bleach.) Had we known she knew nothing about the city she’s been living in for 10 years, we would have come armed with a Seattle Lonely Planet or something.

This time we are ready. First of all, we’ve got ourselves some tickets to a play, so Friday night is taken care of. B has done all sorts of restaurant research, has compiled a list of both fair and foul weather activities, has been printing out Mapquest maps galore, and picked up some guidebooks from the library. I have not done jack. I didn’t even contact FBF to tell her we were coming. B did all that. I usually do the trip planning, so it was just great that he did everything. And I’m pretty sure that we will have a much better time this time, thanks to his thorough research job. Plus, B volunteered to do all the driving so that maybe I can get some knitting done in the car, although I’m sort of thinking that knitting in the car will make me feel like puking.

Anyway, yay for B for doing all the work! Let’s hope that this time we don’t drive the wrong way down a one-way street and find a garbage truck bearing down on us.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Inside the Mothership

My knitting has been steadily regressing in a disturbing Flowers for Algernon-like fashion. (I’m even screwing up garter-stitch scarves now!) I’ve always wanted to knit a sweater, but, frankly, I’ve been too spooked by the whole prospect of it and the tremendous opportunity for error, frustration, and mental breakdown every step of the way. When I saw that a class was being offered on knitting a super easy top-down sweater, I signed up. Unfortunately, the class is being held at a local yarn shop that bills itself as “the Mothership” of all yarn shops—a yarn shop that I try to avoid at all costs.

The Mothership is not in my good books, because of their niggardly return policy* as well as the fact that it is understaffed and is always jammed full of ultra high-maintenance customers. These unfortunate circumstances mean that I might spend 20 minutes just trying to hunt down a staffperson. If I do find a Mothership employee, he or she will inevitably be in the clutches of a customer who is describing her knitting project in excruciating and unnecessary detail, while the staffperson nods helplessly. I suppose, really, the only thing I can legitimately hold against the Mothership is the return policy, but even so, the night before the class I had an anxiety dream (how pathetic to get so worked up over a stupid class!). In my dream the class was being held in this claustrophobic room where they also keep their entire stock of needles and knitting books. The class was overbooked and I had to sit on the floor, constantly being trod on and jostled by customers traipsing in and out of the room.

The class was yesterday, and—my own fault—I arrived right when the class was starting instead of a few minutes early. Miraculously, I found a staffperson immediately and told her I was there for the class. She asked me if I was waiting for the top-down or the baby-sweater class. I told her the top-down class and she waved vaguely toward a huddle of people and told me to wait with them. After about 10 minutes, during which all I heard were snatches of conversation about baby sweaters, I asked one of the huddlers what the haybells we were waiting for. Turns out they were all waiting for the baby-sweater instructor to show up, but the top-down class had gone off somewhere right on schedule. Fuck! My opinion of the Mothership plummeted to an all-time low.

I stomped over to the register and shanghaied an employee right out from under another customer and asked him where the class was. To my surprise he abandoned the other customer and led me out of the shop, through an alley, and into an adjoining apartment building. All the while I groused in an exceedingly petty and sniveling manner about how I had been TOLD THE WRONG THING by another Mothership employee and now had missed precious class time. To his credit, he didn't let it faze him, and assured me that I hadn’t missed much. I lightened up a bit realizing I was being unfair, and that I had no right to take out my annoyance on him—since he had basically left someone else in the lurch to make sure I got to the class. I can be unreasonable at times.

I am happy to report that the room did not in any way resemble my anxiety dream. It was far from the madding crowd and there were chairs for everyone. The instructor welcomed me and told me they were just getting started. She was wearing the sweater we are all making, and I have to say it is not exactly the prettiest thing I have ever seen, but since I’m looking on this as the project that will determine whether I have any sort of future in knitting, I think it’s important not too attempt anything too tricky.

Everyone was in the process of knitting up a gauge swatch, so I tried to catch up. Still flustered, I ended up casting on incorrectly (just call me Charlie), and had to start over. My only solace was that the entire class consists of Nervous Nellies (and one Nervous Ned). None of us seems to have any confidence that in three weeks we will have a finished sweater--let alone something that we’d actually be able to wear in public. The instructor, though, is excellent. An encouraging, cheerful woman with infinite patience and a pleasant southern accent, she never tired of showing the same step over and over again to anyone who hadn’t gotten it the first time, which is to say, every single one of us.

At one point Nervous Ned announced that he would be bringing vodka to the next class and asked who wanted to bring cranberry juice. We all thought that sounded like a great idea. Of course, he was joking, but clearly we are all kind of wigging out about this. I mean, it’s not the end of the world if you bozo up your knitting, but knitting (and sewing) can be painfully frustrating, because if you do make an error it can usually be fixed, but only by ripping out the work you did (it could be hours of work), which, for me has a very negative effect on my psyche. It’s visual, tactile proof that you’ve just wasted a poopload of time.

When I got home from the class last night, after having completed the neck for the sweater, I had dinner and then I sat down to do a bit more work on the sweater. I promptly overturned a 16-oz glass of water. Most of the water went into my lap and onto the floor, but some of it splashed onto the WIP (work-in-progress). That certainly did not bode well. B gallantly leapt into action and mopped up the floor while I changed out of my wet clothes. I blotted the WIP dry, took a long hard look at it, and ripped the whole thing out. I was back to exactly where I was when I burst tardily into the classroom. I guess it was the right thing to do. The neckline had been knitted in some kind of stitch never before seen in any knitting circle known to man, and it looked like crap. I redid the neckline last night in a knit-1, purl-1 rib stitch rather than a broken rib stitch (which is what I had been attempting and failing at) and it turned out OK. I feel better about the project.

I admit that shortly after ripping out all my afternoon’s work, I seriously considered packing in knitting for good. I know that all knitters make mistakes and that there’s a learning curve, but some people definitely have more of an aptitude for knitting than I do. For example, there are people who knit amazingly beautiful and complex garments in no time at all--while watching TV! I think it helps if you’re good with numbers and with conceptualizing spatial relationships. Every single aptitude test I’ve ever taken has shown that these are the feeblest areas of my intellect. And, of course, I have poor manual dexterity, which is surely another major hindrance. So it may be that I am only setting myself up for generous helpings of frustration by trying to knit a sweater or, in fact, knit anything. And if I get beyond some critical mass of vexation, I am going to hang up the whole thing and figure it’s not meant to be. Seriously, I’ve learned to play three different musical instruments, and it was a lot easier than learning to knit.

Still, I’m not quitting yet. I had intended to tackle the yoke of the sweater tonight, but it’s now after 9:30 PM, and I’m tired. I feel quite certain I’d be reduced to tears within the hour if I started a new (and terrifying) phase of the sweater right now. Instead, I think I’ll suggest to B that we watch an episode or two from the Mr. Bean DVD he got from the library. Broad, slapstick humor is exactly what is needed right now. Thought: What would something that had been knitted by Mr. Bean look like? Possible answer: Exactly like something that I had knitted! OK. I’m kidding. By the way, here’s some trivia if any of you are Mr. Bean fans. If you’ll recall, the show’s theme is a churchy medieval-sounding thing sung in Latin by a boys’ choir. The lyrics are:

Ecce homo qui est faba, which translates to “Behold the man who is a bean.” Isn't that the most hilarious thing ever?

*They do not allow you to return unused, still-in-its-sleeve yarn that you purchased more than three months ago. This policy has left me stuck with well over $50 of perfectly good yarn—yarn that, maddeningly, I happen to know is in high demand. They won’t even exchange it for store credit!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Show Us the Way to the Next Whiskey Bar!

I’ve been listening to Kurt Weill nonstop for the past 36 hours. All that grating, snarling, rasping, guttural German just seems perfect for my mood. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that should cheer me up, but it has. Plus, there’s the instrumentation: the tinny trumpet, the wheezing accordion, the slightly out-of-tune piano, the jaunty banjo, and the squeaky clarinet—so endearing!

It’s been a while (vhile?) since I’ve listened to Weill. Oh don’t ask why. Oh don’t ask why. We have a respectable number of Weill CDs: The Threepenny Opera, of course, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Happy End, and two volumes of Ute Lemper singing Weill.

I think I like the Lemper CDs the best. She has such an amazingly versatile and elastic voice. B and I went to a concert of hers when we lived in Chicago. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. She sang in German, English, and French, prefacing each song with a hilarious little anecdote. Great comic timing, too. I remember a lot of jokes about the Germans having no sense of humor. Clearly, she’s an exception. And as if all that wasn’t enough, she’s stunningly beautiful! And her diction—A+! I love listening to her machine-gun out those floog, aus, einer, auf, ist, hooooor, lächerlich, käuft, glouch, grrrösser-type words. Totally phonetic guesses and random umlaut placement by the way--I know no German myself. Those of you who speak German will be either bemused or amused.

It makes me want to learn German properly so I can walk around and scare people with it. This is all I know: wunderbar (not scary), schnitzel (not scary), achtung (slightly scary), nein (scary if said forcefully enough). I wanted to take German when I was in 7th grade. My school sent us home with a permission slip (?) that had four language choices on it: Latin, German, French, and Spanish. Even back then there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to take German. I remember a conversation with my mom that went something like this:

Me: I want to take German.
Mom: No.
Me: Why not?
Mom: Because of Hitler.

OK, recall that my mom was alive during World War II, so I guess I can understand that, but all I ever remember her saying about World War II was that people used to tell her that if Germany won the war, “we’d all end up speaking German.” Like that would be the worst thing that would happen if Germany had won the war! Not that we would be living in a fascist society—a fascist society that would no doubt continue carrying out genocide on a massive scale. Nope. That was not a concern, apparently. Anyway, my mom was young and naive during World War II, so I guess I should have cut her some slack on that, but really I don’t think the fact that Hitler spoke German was a valid reason for preventing me from taking German. I settled for French, which was not even a close second choice—and I hated it. I could never warm up to all that snooty nasality. But it would be totally thrilling to know where to put he umlauts, what to call those weird B-looking things, and to be able to let something like the following roll effortlessly off my tongue:

Sie werden heute abend eine Oper für Bettler sehen. Weil diese Oper so prunkvoll gedacht war, wie nur Bettler sie erträumen, und weil sie doch so bilig sine solte, daß Bettler sie bezahlen können, heißt sie “Die Dreigroschenoper.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Winter of My Discontent

My cross and cantankerous condition continues and is now leavened with disgruntlement, ennui, and a generalized miasma of stagnation. I think this happens every year at about this time, but each year there are different contributing factors. I’m afraid the shopping trips to spiff up my wardrobe did some damage. I feel as if I'm hurtling headlong into premature Camilla Parker-Bowlesdom, after seeing myself time and time again in fluorescent lighting. I have this very bad habit of holding my mouth in a clenched-lip scowl, just like CP-B, and I’ve got these extremely unwelcome little lines around my lips to prove it. Do I want to wind up being taunted on the cover of The National Enquirer? No. I do not. So quit it already! I’ve been trying to cultivate a more affable and relaxed default expression. It isn’t easy to reverse that habit, as I'm pretty sure I've been doing it since childhood. It didn’t help at all either that I went out to dinner with a friend on Saturday night who as good as told me that women my age are essentially over-the-hill. That frosted me. He, by the way, is a whopping six months younger than I am, but, of course, he considers himself to be in his prime.

Creatively, I'm feeling like I'm regressing, stagnating, or deteriorating—possibly all three. My writing doesn't seem very good lately. Perhaps it is never very good. Here's what caused this splinter of angst. My friend L in Chicago has been asking for years that I send her some of my writing. (She doesn’t know about this blog.) She got really excited about the NaNoWriMo novel, so a few days ago I got around to sending her an excerpt. I also included a slightly edited blog entry, since she said she wanted to read my nonfiction as well. She sent back a nice e-mail, telling me she liked both the fiction and the nonfiction pieces and mentioned that she’d just watched Grizzly Man on DVD. Emboldened by her praise, I sent her my blog entry about Grizzly Man.

The next day I got an e-mail from her that really shook me. She took issue (in a kind and tactful way) with my statement that "it's impossible not to like” Timothy Treadwell (the Grizzly Man) and then proceeded to give a brilliant and totally spot-on analysis of him and his actions. I’d viewed the movie almost entirely uncritically, focusing on Treadwell’s wackiness and its attendant entertainment value. I didn’t engage deeply with the film at all, obviously, because if I had I would have realized what an incredibly pathological person he was. As L pointed out, he didn’t just get himself killed, he was completely responsible for his girlfriend’s death. L made several other keenly insightful points, too, that apparently floated right over my (air)head when I watched the film.

And here’s the most disturbing thing about the e-mail, it was way better written than any of my blog entries ever are, and L has always claimed that she can’t write! This is just patently untrue—to the nth degree—I am belatedly finding out. She's self-employed like I am and she and I do pretty similar work, but she’s always on the brink of penury, whereas I never am. Maybe I have more business acumen than she does, or maybe I’ve just been luckier with my clients. Seriously, after reading that spectacularly written e-mail—which she probably dashed off in 10 minutes—I felt deflated, unworthy, and guilty. This isn’t the first time something like that’s happened to me. I’m constantly running across blogs that contain just the most amazing prose, and often it turns out that these fantastic writers are slogging away at poorly paid crap-ass jobs that make no use of their wonderful talent. It just isn’t fair. It dredges up a host of uncomfortable emotions for me that I don’t quite know what to do with.

Anyway. I’ve spent way more time whinging than I intended (isn’t that always the case?). I’m not going to quit plugging away at my own writing, even though there are people out there who can write a better e-mail (with one hand tied behind their back) than I can write a blog entry. My blog is what it is—even though I’m not sure what that is.*

On to the nostrums for all this self-disparagement and self-pity:
  • Get the frick out of the house!
  • Put on some red lipstick!
  • Wear boots that instantly transform me into a statuesque 5-foot 7-inch person! (Thanks, Marilyn!)
  • Move yer bloomin' arse!
  • Resolve to never again wear shapeless, frumpy clothing!
  • Eat some dark chocolate with orange peel!
  • Get the frick away from the computer and the siren song of the Internet!
  • Walk tall! (“We always walk tall! We’re Jets—the greatest!” Remember that? That line kept running through my head as I walked in those boots.)
  • Listen to Led Zeppelin III and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera! (Love the "Jealousy Duet")!
  • Take a yoga class!
  • Breathe!
  • Off-gas all anxiety and angst in a blog entry and buck up for crying out loud!
I accomplished all of the above today, and I can attest to their effectiveness. I had some work that didn’t require the computer (a rare occurrence), so even though it was raining cats and dogs and hyenas and werewolves, I marched out of the house (in boots and red lipstick), opting for an umbrella and a rain jacket rather than my 100% waterproof get-up, which includes these freaky overshoes and makes me look like the abominable rainwoman.**

I walked to a coffee shop on Alberta Street (about 20 minutes away), ordered myself a decaf latte, and sat down to work. It’s been a fantasy of mine ever since I started my own business to go work (from time to time) in a coffee shop. When I first started out, I thought I’d be doing this regularly, but I have never in more than seven years of being self-employed done one iota of work in a coffee shop, because A) I almost always need the computer; B) I thought I’d be unable to concentrate what with all the raucous conversations, music, and the continual comings and goings of other customers. Turns out, it is less distracting to have all that going on than it is to have constant access to my e-mail and the World Wide Web. Even Dingo the Clown’s presence in the coffee shop didn’t keep me from staying on task (much). (He'd left the grease paint and the red nose back home at the Clown House.)

While diligently applying myself to my work, I passively soaked up the atmosphere at the coffee shop. It’s a real neighborhood hangout, where people bring in their own mugs and where customers know the name of the guy behind the counter and discuss with him where they might score an extra mike for an upcoming gig. I made a mental note of the outfit one wraithlike woman was wearing (longish skirt, leg warmers, cropped sweater ) and pondered whether that might or might not be a good look for me. About an hour later, it dawned on me that the woman was a man. So much for my observational skills! Miraculously, I was able to absorb all this stuff and keep working at a pretty good clip. It was exceptionally nice to be there—I was sort of a part of something and yet sort of not. I have got to do this more often.

*This isn't a compliment-fishing ploy. I know you guys think I'm a pretty OK writer, and I appreciate and thank you for being such loyal and wonderfully supportive readers. It's just that there are lots of people way more talented than I am.
**There are circumstances that call for the abominable rainwoman get-up, e.g., a hike in the rain, but it's not the most fetching attire for the city.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Muse is Mute

I just nuked about three hours re-doing my template—and I didn’t lose my comments or other customizations I’d added to my old template. Yay! What a testament to my html skills, which I had thought were rusted beyond redemption. There will be no actual blog content today as I have spent far more than my daily blogging quota on the ding-dong template. I’ve basically just continued to procrastinate unforgiveably all weekend, so I don’t have much to report on anyway. During one bout of procrastination, I took a seven deadly sins quiz. Turns out the sin of envy will codemn [sic] me to burn in Hell. I must say, I’m pretty surprised by that. I would have thought I’d be much more guilty of sloth or wrath, but I guess Satan thinks otherwise.

Let me know if the template looks lousy in your browser.

See you in Hell!

Pride:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cross and Cantankerous

I don’t quite know how to account for the past three days. I had the time off, and yet not a single grand plan came to fruition. I tackled a few chores and ran a few errands, but I don’t feel like I made any headway. One of the things I tried to do was buy clothes, and the many reasons I detest shopping for clothes came flooding back to me.

  • The lighting is always wrong. In boutiques it's always hellishly dim, which makes it impossible to determine what color something really is. Department stores are blindingly fluorescent, and I hate seeing myself in a mirror in fluorescent light. I look haggard and about 100 years old. Depressing.
  • I have trouble finding my size or even knowing what it might be. I usually take a stab at it by taking two or three sizes into the dressing room. Even so, I often end up traipsing in and out of the dressing room numerous times getting dressed/undressed-dressed/undressed. I can only do that about three times before I want to sever my jugular vein.
  • When I find something I like, the only sizes available are extra super gargantuan or broomstick spindleshanks.
  • Clothing designers seem to make clothes for two groups of people: teenage girls and polyesterophilic matrons. No one in between.
  • I don't know what I'm doing and I agonize over whether I should buy something or not.
  • After I get stuff home I invariably decide most of the clothes make me look like a stubby clothespin and then have to go back to the stores/shops and return stuff.

When I got home this afternoon (after returning some purchases from earlier in the week), there was a FedEX package on the doorstep. End of vacation. Boo! And what do I have to show for it? Is the house clean? Not really. Do I have a new wardrobe? Nope. Did I do any socializing? None! Did I catch up with all my e-mail? Maybe half. Did I do any knitting? Not a bit. Worst of all, I don’t feel like I really did anything for myself. Somehow the entire vacation got frittered away with me attempting to address in fits and starts first one project and then another. Nothing got entirely completed (and struck from the To Do list) except that I assembled a cabinet for the bathroom. But B uses that bathroom more than I do, and by rights it should have been his project, but he sucks at stuff like that so I had to do it.

And that, my friends, are a few of the reasons why I am feeling cross and cantankerous.

Actually, I did accomplish one thing tonight and that was to resize and upload to Flickr two of my favorite photos of my parents, taken long before my cross and cantankerous self existed. I’ve been trying to get copies of these photos for more than a year*, so that should (but somehow doesn't) give me an enhanced sense of accomplishment.

Here’s my mom, standing proudly in front of a cornfield she planted. Note the fantastical height of that corn—and the fact that she did her gardening in a skirt!

Here’s a wonderful candid shot of my dad. I love that tie he’s wearing.
Band Room

*My sister and brother-in-law were going to scan them and they, um, kind of forgot all about it.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Past, Present, and Future

Too Cloying By Half
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Yesterday I retackled the clutter-clearing project. I got sidetracked almost immediately after running across the diary I kept when I was 11 years old. What a spectacularly unpromising kid I was! The diary is a gold mine of misspellings, non-sequiturs, and perfunctory statements. Since it was a five year diary, I only needed to fill four lines a day, yet it's very apparent that I struggled mightily to come up with those four precious lines of material, which may explain my preoccupation with the weather. Here are a few of the more exciting (and hilarious) entries.

January 15
It was 20º below 0º and it WAS cold! We looked for station wagons because of the new baby we are getting in July.

February 5
Today was Saturday and hardly anything good happened except I quit 4-H. And now I have to go to bed early because I’m sick.

February 29
Today was a warm day most of the snow melted. It is still 37º at 8:28. Mom went to school. The girls saw a movie on mensturuture.

April 17
Today it got up to 72º in the shade! It still is 60º. We had to pick up a piece of junk at recess and drop it in a bag.

June 22
Today Molly had to come home. I drew pictures of her because she is so MEAN + DUMB. She is moving in Aug. Yea!

September 21
Today I had a spelling test I got a B on it. On spelling workbook I got an E!! It surprized me.

September 27
Today we took achevment tests. My nose kept running. I got to miss choir.

November 27
Today was an icky day, there isn’t one good thing I could say for today exept I made a pitcher out of clay.

December 5
In band we had to play “Areeita” 10,000 times. It sounded good at first but everyone hates that song.

December 19
I was chosen for being on a Debate Against going to the moon.

Holy moly! How did I not flunk 5th grade? Supposedly, I was a good student, but you sure couldn’t tell by reading my diary. I love that I was so “surprized” that I got a bad grade on my spelling workbook. Plus, what the heck was going on at my school with these debates about not going to the Moon? (BTW: Apparently, I presented a convincing argument against it, because a few pages later I noted that I won the debate. I have absolutely no memory of that.)

On to the present. Stacy dubbed this past week the “week of sloth” and I have to say I don’t have much to show for my time off either. Maybe that’s OK. I did spend a few hours talking on the phone to two friends I hadn’t talked to in a long time, and B and I got out for a couple of walks.

Today we took another one of the walks from the oft-mentioned and praised Portland Hill Walks book by the tremendously talented Laura O. Foster. Today’s walk was right in our own neighborhood and yet it led us to hidden alleys and rustic stairways we’d never discovered—pretty amazing since we do a lot of walking and exploring in our little bailiwick. We strolled by many humongo houses and Foster filled us in on the history of the mammoth Autzen Mansion, which is for sale and could be yours if you have a spare $2,350,000 laying around (selling points: a shower with seven shower heads and a special alcove for your grand piano).

Just as I started to run out of steam, we came in sight of Gustav’s Bier Stube. A bier stube is much more my speed than a mansion and Foster, as if able to read my mind, suggested that we stop in for a meal. Happy Hour was in full swing. Perfect! I had a pint of weiss bier and a plate of not-at-all-Germanic fish and chips. B made up for that by having the tri-sausage plate. Highly Teutonic and more than adequate as fuel for a two-mile walk uphill back to the dinky little shack we call home.

The future. OK. Here are my resolutions for 2006, which, if my past record is anything to go by, I will forget about completely by the end of the month.

1) Whip the dinky little shack into shape by getting some more art on the walls and more furniture in it. Progress on this front has been extremely slow and trepident, because of my fear of making costly decor-related mistakes (some of which we are currently living with), but I’ve spent far too much of my life living in halfway houses—that is, houses (or apartments) that are only halfway what they could be.

2) Update my pathetically schlumpy and egregiously outdated wardrobe. As everyone knows, I am a self-diagnosed fashion dunderhead, which every few months prompts me to write a blog entry bemoaning my lack of style. Time to quit moaning and start shopping.

3) Have more dinner parties.

4) Be more tolerant and mindful of others.

5) Be less haphazard about how I run my life. (Hoo-boy. Wish me lots of luck on this one!)