Monday, December 31, 2007

Is it bad that I sometimes want the holidays to be over? I'm looking forward to January 2 with eagerness bordering on lust.

I hate the pressure to do something interesting, SPECIAL AND FESTIVE on New Year's Eve. I'm pregnant, for crying out loud. I want to sit in my pajamas, eat fattening food and watch something mindless that I've seen before.

But, as the Rolling Stones say, you can't always get what you want. It is a central paradox of my marriage that, although I test as an extrovert, I am more of a homebody; while D tests as an introvert, he loves to go out. And keeping D in on NYE would be an act of cruelty.

And I'll probably have a better time than I expect. But for now, I'm kind of hating the holidays.

It felt good to admit that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

So I went to Motherhood today (part of Destination Maternity, kind of a little mall filled with maternity clothes). I really enjoyed it. They pampered me a bunch, offering me water and juice for the road (after I made my purchases). Prices were reasonable and oddly enough, I like my maternity clothes better than my regular wardrobe! They seem to fit well and look flattering.

I also saw a possible onesie for E -- light blue, and it said "chick magnet" -- but it was a bit too saucy! We want to keep him innocent :) I bought him some onesies at Old Navy recently. There was a turtle theme, and one of them featured a teddy bear, under the words "unbearably cute."

Probably because I'm reading Easy Labor, I'm preoccupied with the birthing process. One of the central messages of the book is to be flexible, since the unexpected usually happens, but I've noticed people write up birth plans anyway. I guess the idea is not to be rigid and have a number of alternatives in place. I like the idea of:

  • Birthing pools -- not for the actual birth, but for the labor. These are said to be relaxing.
  • Birthing balls -- these are kind of like Pilates balls; you sit on them and "walk" around the room, and this can help the baby descend, as can any sitting or standing pose.
  • Self-hypnosis -- there's a 70% success rate in eliminating pain without medication. How it works: you learn a number of scripts, which your partner/doula reads at the childbirth, and there are cues that send you into a state of deep relaxation. Basically, you program your mind to believe that you are not feeling any pain, and that you are "hypno-anesthetizing" yourself. There were a bunch of testimonials in the book from women who had no real pain with this method, just a little discomfort. You have to do "homework" beforehand, listening to the scripts on CD. The results are supposed to be amazing, so I figure, why not give it a try?
  • A doula -- everyone says it's nice to have someone who is there, exclusively for you, the whole time.
  • An epidural -- as a backup, though if the hypnosis and birthing pool worked, that would be great.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday weekend

So here are some highlights or just noteworthy events from the holidays, '07:

Sunday. D and I took Amtrak to get to Boston, and the ride was uneventful. However, the drive home from the Alewife T station was not. Mom has a penchant for getting lost on the way home (and blaming me for it!) So I micromanaged her driving from then on. She also collided with a snowbank and started heading to Providence at one point (though I averted that disaster). The high speed on the highway also made me nauseous. So, let's just say - I'm happy not to have to drive in New York! I'm a walking kind of gal.

Mom told us a story about my aunt (on my father's side) and her cat. One night Mom went to check on my aunt, who is 91, and found her anxious about her cat, Sophia.

Aunt: I'm going to stay up with Sophia. She's having a problem with her leg and she can hardly walk.

[Sophia strolls by, without effort.]

Mom: She looks fine to me.

[Sophia sprints up the stairs.]

Mom: I think you're being a worrywart about Sophia. [This is where I get it!]

Aunt: I'm surprised she would mislead me that way. She's always been such an honest and straightforward cat.

Sophia, by the way, is beautiful - white with artfully placed gray markings - but she hides under the bed whenever I go over there (or anybody else who's "new"). It's a bummer.

Monday. D did some last-minute Christmas shopping, using one of my mother's cars, and I called his cell because everyone was getting ready to go to mass and he wasn't home yet. It turned out he was in the parking lot of the North Shore Mall, which isn't pretty on Christmas Eve. "What color is your mother's car? What's the license plate?" he wanted to know. Fortunately, he was able to identify it by the college sticker on the rear windshield. That same night, I'm pretty sure the baby kicked for the first time. His feet aren't very big yet, so I feel little thumps and twinges. But I'm pretty sure that's what it is.

Tuesday. I see my sister's dog Biscuit about twice a year, but she remembers me as the one who always walks her. So she started following me around and "talking" to me as soon as I got there. I relented and walked her (or rather, she walked me). She also took a puffy red ornament off the Christmas tree and ran around with it in her mouth. She has large, placid brown eyes like a deer. A very pretty dog.

Wednesday. We're about to head back. I'm reading Easy Labor, which is making me calmer about delivery. Though whether it will be "easy" is anyone's guess. I'm not counting on it, but I am hoping on a relatively calm and well-informed delivery. I've queried numerous people about their labor experience and I think baby size does correlate with pain.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My favorite books of '07

Since I'm up freakishly early (the bebe is an early riser), I've decided to compile a list of my favorite books of 2007 (titles only, since that is how All Consuming does it). I've added the author if I remembered his/her name.

Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy
Getting Rid of Matthew
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (a novel)
Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What To Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab by Melissa Plaut
The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine
About My Sisters by Debra Ginsberg (you can't go wrong with anything by her).
Still Life with Husband by Lauren Fox
Tiare in Bloom by Celestine Vaite
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Because She Can by Bridie Clark
Momzillas by Jill Kargman
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Love is a Mix Tape (sad. But good.)
The Return of Jonah Gray (I think this one squeezed in on the basis of quirk. By "return," they mean "tax return".)
Secrets of the Model Dorm (soapy. But very fun.)
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
China Dolls
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (not really about tractors).
Fly Me to the Moon by Alyson Noel

Thursday, December 20, 2007

So I had a doctor's appointment today. I know - 2 appointments in 2 days -- one with the ultrasound people, one with the ob/gyn. The ultrasound office has better magazines. You know, the super-trashy kind where they talk about Jamie Lynn. I like the doctor's office, too, but they have more highbrow stuff, like In Style.

Anyhow, I'm gaining weight like a runaway train or something else that's fast. If I continue to gain weight at this rate, I think I will gain 45 lbs (total, including what I've already gained) by the end of the pregnancy.

Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh...

On the plus side, my vegetarian eating has not made me iron-deficient. In fact, I have the highest hematocrit, or something like that, of all my doctor's pregnant patients. So she said, "You're not remotely anemic." Cool, huh?

The kid's heartbeat is still pumping away, I'm contemplating buying blue onesies, and kind of wishing I could see an ultrasound every day -- they are that fun :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's a boy!

So we can't name the baby Ginger, after all. But that's fine. I'm so happy that he's healthy and everything looks good.

A couple of pictures of the little guy:





His head is on the left :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

To pop or not to pop.

My belly button has always been super-deep. As in, it was kind of a pain because it would collect lint and dirt. Sorry, I'm making myself sound very attractive here ;) Now it's getting progessively shallower. Soon it will be watching reality shows and gossiping about Paris Hilton.

I know this might sound weird, but I kind of want it to pop out! It doesn't happen to everyone, but I just think it would be cute. Apparently it can be irritating because it rubs against your clothes. Right now, though, it's still an innie -- just a much shallower one.
Last post was my 800th! Yay.

If you are pregnant, secretly or otherwise, I recommend the baby book I'm reading (see sidebar). It tells you about all these amazing bargains and places to buy things on the cheap. Whenever I sit down to read it, I'm armed with a pen and I keep dog-earing pages.

My SIL gave me a gift card for a little spa place! Very exciting. The only problem is, they have this huge smorgasbord of options. I've pretty much decided on the foot massage. If you've had one, please tell me how awesome it was :) Or if there is a reason NOT to get one, let me know. Otherwise, I am looking forward to 20 minutes of having my feet rubbed.

It's the kind of thing that, as a (relatively) thrifty former New Englander, it would never occur to me to do. I've never even paid to have my nails done. But it's probably pretty relaxing!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If you live in Seattle, can you please adopt Cornelius? Thank you. Doesn't he look dapper in his bow tie?

Today D and I had lunch, and a couple of women at a nearby table offered us their bottle of wine. They couldn't finish it. We had to refuse, seeing as I'm preggers and all, and D is taking some meds for his hands (sometimes they tingle), but we ended up chatting with them. I asked them where they were from and resisted the urge to add, "Texas?" in case they weren't. Then they said, "Dallas." Am I smart or what? ;) I could tell because of the accent and it's a particular brand of friendliness.

After a while of being too nauseous to knit, I picked up my needles again to finish a scarf for a family friend. It will take me a few days to complete, but I'm over the hump, so to speak.

I met a new cat friend. She is very close to the pool where I swim. She lives in a deli. Her name is Nina. Her legs are a little too long for her body (I suspect she has not grown into them yet) and she likes to gallop around the deli. She also likes to nibble on my mittens.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Karma and other stories

I just started Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi. Some readers have criticized her for being too similar to Jhumpa Lahiri, but I think she is good in her own right.

The first short story is about a man who orders a bean-and-cheese burrito at a fast-food establishment, and they bring him a beef-and-cheese burrito instead. He feels the cashier was rude to him, as well as violating his vegetarian preferences, and decides to sue!

That sort of thing happens to us fairly often - D will order penne a la vodka and ask them to leave out the prosciutto at this one place, and sometimes they'll include it anyway. Or we'll ask for split pea soup, the waiter will assure us it's vegetarian, and it'll arrive with chunks of ham floating in it! Of course I wouldn't sue them (and it never occurred to me that someone would). I want to see how the lawyers handle that, in the story.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I never thought I'd get nostalgic for the 90s. My heart was always firmly rooted in the 80s (after all, I was only around for five years before that). But tonight D and I were eating at an Irish pub and every single song they were playing was from the 90s. It must have been some kind of conspiracy because we heard "Sex and Candy" by Marcy Playground earlier, and now we were hearing Alanis Morissette, etc.

In college I got so sick of "Linger" by the Cranberries that I used to say the Cranberries should be sent to their own private island, with all the amenities, not as a punishment but just so we wouldn't hear them anymore. Now I miss that song and was even briefly thinking of buying it on iTunes.

I want to bring back lo-fi. There was something refreshing and bare about it all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wow...

...I am the least sci-fi-ish/fantasy person I know (or one of them), but I got sucked in because a friend did this.

There's a site linked to the, um, movie Golden Compass where you can find out your "daemon" (animal form). Your friends can also take the quiz and see if they agree with your assessment. If they disagree, your animal will change!



You can also find out your own "daemon"...

Oy...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gah. I got sickish, maybe allergies, maybe a cold, and my Claritin just wasn't cutting it. So I took a Benadryl. They are both Category B* drugs, but I got nervous because I had taken Claritin 9 hours before. D reassured me that it was okay, and it seems to be. Moreover, the Benadryl actually worked. Of course, Nyquil would have really vanquished the cold, but it's Category C and hence out of the question.

Am enjoying The Abstinence Theory Teacher by Tom Perrotta, though he definitely switched from writing about more personal things to Ideas at some point. I don't mind the change entirely, though it can make his characters cartoonish, or at least a little caricature-y. It's like they're symbols rather than real people. The Wishbones is my favorite book of his, written when he was younger, but I guess people run out of that fund of personal stuff to write about and he has settled into a nice groove. The book also has plenty of comedic scenes that you know are going to play well on the big screen. I'm trying to figure out who will play Tim, the born-again Christian with a (kind of) sex addiction and greasy ponytail. Johnny Depp?

*Drugs are categorized based on their safety or lack thereof for pregnant women. Category A (definitely safe) is pretty much vitamins. Category B is the home of most drugs you can take. Categories C, D and X are a no-no.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Santa Con

So D and I went to a par-tay tonight in Brooklyn, which involved a somewhat lengthy subway ride, and the cars were filled with Santas! At first we thought they were Salvation Army folk, but some of them were in full drag, complete with red stilettos, and others were in "blueface" (like Blue Man Group). Apparently, some of them were chanting, "Ho Ho Ho" at one station, and it was described as "amusing and intimidating."

The party was fun; the dogs were a little over-excited, and a stray paw on my stomach made me nervous, but nothing happened. The food was yummy. I tried a date/semolina/rosewater concoction that was like an upscale Fig Newton.

Anyway, it turns out the Santas were part of a convention, called Santa Con, and they have a parade. Around Halloween, there was Zombie Con.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The lioness

Thanks for the food suggestions so far! I went grocery shopping today (pre-suggestions, but I plan to implement them next time) and stocked up on what I planned to get, plus Reese's peanut butter cups (I am only human), cheddar rice cakes (cute bite-sized ones), Ritz crackers, sharp cheddar cheese, natural crunchy peanut butter (I found a generic brand that was a steal, and contained only roasted peanuts and salt!), canned pineapple chunks in pineapple juice, etc.

While I was shopping, I heard 2 clerks talking enthusiastically in the cracker aisle. "The lioness wants to be admired," said the female clerk. "That's why she has a mane. She wants to feel beautiful."

"Thanks!" said the male clerk in a really heartfelt way, and I wondered: why does he care? Is he going on safari?

The female clerk nodded sagely. "Yup. You just need to stroke her ego. That's all you need to do."

That's when I realized the male clerk's girlfriend was being compared to a lioness :)

Food inspiration, please

I have learned something weird. If you are obsessed with chocolate chip cookies for a while, you *will* get sick of them. I have a bag of them sitting totally unmolested in the kitchen cabinet. The same goes for ice cream. I have a nice pint of B&J in the fridge but it just doesn't call out to me the way it once did. (Okay, I had a few spoonfuls yesterday. But I didn't attack it as I would have previously.)

My current thing is dairy: skim milk with my cereal every morning, lowfat yogurt, and CHEESE, glorious cheese...I ate a whole big chunk of Muenster yesterday and the day before. Just by itself. And it was awesome.

But I am need of inspiration. Before I was pregnant, I would eat oatmeal for breakfast, something fairly healthy for lunch and dinner, a couple of pieces of fruit, and a nonfat yogurt. That's it. That was my daily intake.

Now I need to sate G's* ravenous appetite, and I'm not as into sweets as I was. I'm putting together a grocery list and have thought of baby carrots, Cracklin' Oat Bran**, apples, watermelon, Muenster cheese, lowfat yogurt, and I'm not sure what else to get. What do you like to snack on that is at least somewhat healthy (cheese*** counts in my book), preferably nutritious and definitely satisfying? All (vegetarian) ideas are welcome, and thanks in advance!

*I may reveal the baby's planned name later. For now, she (I'm hoping it's a girl!) will be G.
**You'll want this when you're pregnant. Trust me.
***Feta, goat, brie and anything blue are out. And cottage cheese...I believe it's safe, but it's too cold and squishy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So I just made an appointment for an initial anatomy ultrasound in 2 weeks! That will put me at 15 weeks, and the doctor said I could find out the baby's sex with an ultrasound at 15 weeks...so yup. If all goes well, on Dec. 19, I will find out the baby's sex (or as Liz sassily* put it, "the sex reveal").

What else has been going on? I've been putting on weight apace. I read in my pregnancy book that some women put on most of their weight in first trimester (the ones who don't throw up too much), so I'm hoping the pace will slow down. It actually has, a bit...but the amount I eat would still shock my pre-pregnancy self. I'm planning to close my eyes the next time I get weighed at the doctor's so I don't see the little metal blocks sliding into place. (Yes, I'm kind of serious.) Of course, the nurse always announces the number in a voice that would carry to Nevada.

Also, D and I saw Enchanted recently. It was, well...enchanting! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Amy Adams, who was so endearing in Junebug (she was, in fact, the only likeable character in the whole thing), is a princess here, and this role might make her a star. Yes indeedy. Patrick Dempsey was fun too, and Susan Sarandon camped it up as a wicked queen. I would recommend it for anyone, except one scene near the end was a little scary (for young children, and me).

In a totally different vein, I saw Brokeback Mountain on DVD. You all probably saw this already, but I hadn't, and I liked it much better than I was expecting to. Maybe that's a common reaction because a friend felt the same way. I really like Ang Lee as a director - he has a kind of spare, elegant sensibility. And the scenery was beautiful. Although it turned out to be Alberta, not Wyoming - it was cheaper to film there and Canada had a nice attitude and the mountains were "broadly similar" to Wyoming's. According to Wikipedia.

I was psyched to have the first snow the other day, though it was all gone by the next day. I hope we get some again. I think the sight of snow falling is one of the prettiest things in the world. I always used to take my Cairn terrier (my dog from 1983-2001) for a walk during the first snow. She was a wee creature, but she would jump from snowdrift to snowdrift. The fact that she sometimes fell in didn't daunt her.

*Or saucily. I couldn't decide. Saucily does make me think of marinara, though.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

There's something disgusting but very satisfying about pregnant eating. Here's what's gone down my gullet today:

1) Blue cornmeal pancakes with bananas. I had brunch with a friend. It's one of the places where we go a lot. I used to feel the pancakes were mountainous, intimidating; now I thought, I'm not sure if it's enough. (Oh, and I had an apple and a teacup of lemonade BEFORE the brunch, because I woke up a couple of hours before we were supposed to meet.)

2) Another apple. Not bad.

3) Homemade mac and cheese. It's a somewhat lighter version...no eggs or butter, with skim milk, low-fat silken tofu and nonfat yogurt subbing in for some of the cheese. But it still had almost 2 cups of cheddar. I had, um...3 bowls.

4) A few spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. This is now one of the great loves of my life. I regard it with the same rosy glow with which, in June, I will hopefully greet the epidural man...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So I went today to get an ultrasound and a blood test. It's kind of hard to type, b/c there's a cotton puff and band-aid on my left index finger! But I'll try. The dr told me, "From now on, a technician will give you your ultrasounds," and this was my first technician experience.

It went pretty well. She poured hot jelly on my lower abdomen and I was afraid it would scald the baby, but nothing happened. She had a Russian accent. She said, "Good baby!" and then she said, "A stubborn baby. But they are all stubborn." (I guess she wanted it to move so she could get a better look.) She said it looked "very comfortable." It better be - I give it all the Toblerone and mac & cheese it wants! :D

So she gave me some pics of the baby. It has grown considerably since my last ultrasound, when it was the size of a generous jelly bean. Now its head is half the length of its body! (This is normal, though.) Its heartbeat is loud, strong and regular. "Very good one," the technician enthused. I got a look at the baby's face in one of the pics. Its nose looks a little angular, and it seems to have high cheekbones. It kind of looked wise and calm ;)

They said everything looked good, so that was reassuring.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All right, I'm just going to spit it out. My news = I'm pregnant. 12 weeks today. Made it through the first trimester, some scary genetic testing, and now I just have my Down test to get through. If that goes well (it's a two-part test that takes a few weeks), I think I can finally relax. My odds are low. The test was optional so I seriously considered not taking it, but every single person whose advice I sought said she would take it, so I'll do it.

It's funny, I watched Rosemary's Baby last night (I've seen it before, but now I'm watching it with new eyes) and I couldn't help spotting all the infractions. She drank a shake with raw egg every day, drank some champagne when she got pregnant, and her husband smoked Pall Malls around her.

I guess there are tradeoffs. My mother's pregnancies sound entirely more relaxed than mine -- she smoked*, drank* (in moderation) and she didn't know what listeria* was. In other words, she could eat as much feta, brie and goat cheese as she wanted. *But* today you can find out the baby's gender in advance, you can hear the baby's heartbeat (I already have. Truth be told, it sounded stronger than mine) and see pictures of your baby via ultrasound.

I'd like to skip the tests, though. Fortunately, I think the upcoming one is the last.

I'm due in June.

*In case some crazy anonymous commenter stops by and starts ranting...let the record state I am NOT going to smoke, drink or eat unpasteurized cheese during my pregnancy. I didn't smoke and I hardly drank anyway. I do miss the cheese, though. Fortunately, I was able to have some cooked, pasteurized feta over Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hello! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

It was kind of a crowded weekend, so I don't know where to start. We stayed at my mother's house and went to my brother's house on Thanksgiving. As we drove down my mother's street, she pointed out a house where there had been a fire, and the owner's dogs died in it (the owner was at work). This was the kind of thing she really should not have told me. It is still making me sad. The owner's cats did survive, however. The fire department tried to resuscitate the cats and 1 dog (the other had already passed away) with special tiny masks, and the cats lived. I am glad there are little masks for the animals, but it was one of the saddest things I'd heard in a long time. The owner is, understandably, hugely upset.

In happier news, my niece turned 12 this weekend, and we celebrated the night after Thanksgiving. I still can't believe she's 12. When she was very young, she had her own special language:

mobila = oatmeal
dirl = girl
dakka = jacket
ippie keem = ice cream

When her baby brother was born, she kept saying, "Hani hold baby dirl," because she had been hoping for one. (Hani was what she called herself, referring to herself in the third person.) After her father told her it was a boy, my niece said, "Wait and see." Her father said, "I did see! It's a boy."

My nephew regaled us with stories about the biggest pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair (1600 lbs or so, and 17 feet tall), and plans on entering his tomatoes next year.

I have some news I can give you pretty soon. And the scare I had before, fortunately, worked out...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How I almost got locked in a Justin Timberlake shrine.

So D and I tried a new restaurant tonight. To be precise, it was a new branch. We'd been to their other location. But this one was better. It was as campy as it gets. The menus were record covers (I got "Stayin' Alive", D got 70s-era Barry Manilow) and there were display cases in the wall with different themes: Hairspray (featuring Edna and Tracy Turnblad dolls), Menudo (featuring 5 dolls in sweaters, plus a photo of the actual members, wearing Speedos with hairless chests) and Michael Jackson (a Michael Jackson doll with life-size handcuffs dangling above. No little boys.)

Anyway, the bathroom had a star on the door that said Justin Timberlake. I went in and it was hilarious. There was a display case that said JUSTIN and SEXY, with a shirtless picture of him and a shirtless boy-doll. One entire wall was a tile mosaic, with him in a white suit, foot on top of a disco ball (like his CD cover). Inside the bathroom, "What Comes Around" piped in (while other music was playing outside).

Then the door wouldn't open! I tried pushing the handle up, down, locking and unlocking: no luck. I started knocking on the door and yelled, "D! I can't get out!" Fortunately our table was near the bathroom, so I was pretty sure he would hear me. A waiter beat him to it and said, "I don't know what's wrong with this door." I asked if it happened a lot, and he said, "It happened to me!"

So watch out for the Justin Timberlake shrine. It just may suck you in.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I discovered a new frozen yogurt place called Pinkberry. Actually, it's not that new. But I never tried it before. It's very yummy. I had the green tea flavor with fresh strawberries on top. The only sour note was the croup pair. This little girl kept coughing everywhere without covering her mouth. Serious coughing. Then she went to the toppings bar and coughed on that. There was a sneeze guard, but still. I expected the mother to say, "Cover your mouth, dear," or something along those lines, but then the mother started to cough up a lung. Without covering her mouth. Mystery solved.

I noticed something strange about the ads I see in Hotmail. They used to ALWAYS feature girls in bikinis (they were ads for match.com, eHarmony, etc. They almost never showed men). Now they ALWAYS talk about weight loss. Maybe they figure it's holiday season, not bikini season?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Copycat eating

D likes to eat whatever I'm eating. I got up to have a cracker and some lemonade, and he asked me to pour him some. If I was not into the lemonade, it would rot in the fridge, uneaten (unconsumed?). It's kind of cute, I guess :)
My oldest nephew (he was born when I was 17, he'll be turning 15 in November) is really into music, so I always ask my sister which CDs he'd like for his birthday and Christmas. I am always somewhat humbled by his selections, because I've never heard of them! This time, though, I was tickled by the huge contrast between the two. His taste seems to be an uneasy mix of emo and metal.

The emo CD featured an open-faced, friendly-looking young man on the cover and pointed out: "This CD is packaged in recyclable materials, with a carbon footprint of zero!"

The other CD's Album Description on Amazon simply said, "We wanted to make a metal CD you could crank in the car. Rock on!" or something like that. The cover looked a bit like Appetite for Destruction.

So for some reason I got to thinking about my early music. I had those big headphones like you'd wear in a small plane. My sisters gave me Elton John and Madonna to listen to (it was 1984, I was 9) and my brother, fearing they were influencing me too much, got me Born to Run.

Well, now I still listen to Elton John and Madonna. Bruce, not so much, though I count some of the Born in the U.S.A. songs (plus "Tunnel of Love") as guilty pleasures.

What was your first music, and do you still listen to it?

Update: Oddly enough, this post made me miss Born to Run. Now I have "Thunder Road" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" in my head. (I actually hear the latter whenever I go to Tenth Avenue.) Maybe I'll need to get it on CD (I had it on tape back then). I think the tape is still in Massachusetts, but we have no working cassette player.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another day, another pool

So D and I went to his pool today. It is known as an "actors' pool", and I did see one kinda famous actor -- Chris Rock's advisor in Head of State. I dutifully went in the slow lane and the swimmers were not as strong as they are at the other gym. They were all comfortably slow and we coexisted peacefully together.

I really like swimming lately. You can lie on your back, flutter your legs, do backstroke with your arms or just bring them together above your head and then down by your sides. It's completely relaxing and yet you are working your arms, legs and trunk. It's amazing.

Jam in real life?

From MSN:

All you "Office" fans secretly hoping for a real-life Jim and Pam romance, just give it up already. The New York Daily News spied John Krasinski "canoodling" with on- and off-screen ex Rashida "Karen" Jones at a post-"SNL" party last week, the second time in six months they've been seen cozying up. The paper also caught the sometime squeezes looking thisclose at a May screening of "Shrek the Third."

Oh well...I kind of thought he and "Karen" were good together anyway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So I recently joined a very cheap gym. I'm excited because (a) it's $6.25 a month, (b) it's really close to me and (c) my previous, $89.00-a-month gym could NOT do billing. For some reason they got it into their heads that I had 2 different memberships (at 2 different rates) and billed me accordingly. I had to explain that I'm 1 person and only needed 1 membership. Then they did it again. Then I told them I was leaving unless they fixed it. They fixed it, but I ended up leaving (a couple months later) anyway. Because the lure of $6.25 a month (with an Olympic-sized pool! 3 blocks away from me!) was too much to turn down.

Well, I had a minor embarrassment there this morning. Some of the lanes were very crowded, so I picked the least crowded one (1 other person in it). Well, this dude was apparently Greg Louganis, because he was swimming so fast it was scary! I got tired watching. Then the lifeguard came over, smiled and said hi (I guess to soften the blow), and gently directed me to the "slow" lane. I noticed there was one even slower (called "slow/rec"), where nice old ladies were basically walking around and floating. I'll do that on days when I'm tired :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I saw Dan in Real Life today. Other than the fact that everybody in the (surprisingly full) theater seemed to have the croup, I really enjoyed it. From the poster and commercials, I'd feared it would be terribly cliched. But it wasn't. It had that same clever, offbeat humor that seems to pervade all his movies (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine).

However, there were 2 little girls in the bathroom afterward who didn't like it as much as I did.

Girl #1: I didn't really like it.

Girl #2: I just cracked my knee.

Girl #1: It was okay. It wasn't awful.

Girl #2: It was pre-dic-ta-ble.

I almost laughed because my predictions were totally off. I had the ending mapped out in my head but it didn't turn out that way.

Afterward I swung by the supermarket to get some muffins. Their bakery is very tempting. I was torn between the "cranmuffins" and blueberry muffins. The cran ones were really calling out to me, but blueberry is, you know, safer. So I asked the bakery man which was better. He explained, "Well, the cranberry has an orange flavor. And the blueberry is just blueberry."

So of course I got the cranberry. And it seems to be a wise choice :)

TV?

So I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning (this could have to do with falling asleep at 10 pm) and figured I'd see if there was anything on the tube. Weirdly enough, all the channels seem to be off the air. I wonder if this has to do with the writers' strike. Anybody else have this problem?

I wonder if aspiring TV writers in L.A. can step forward and be scabs for the striking writers right now. I guess they probably don't want to, especially if they are part of the union.

Update: D called RCN, and now the TV is working.

Monday, November 05, 2007

So I found out today that "The Bad Thing" is probably not going to happen. I have some new information that points to the Scare just being a mess-up. Massive relief. I will not have a definite answer for 2-3 weeks, but the people I spoke to said The Bad Thing is extremely unlikely and the Scare itself (implying that the Bad Thing was a possibility) was probably a screw-up. Again, the Bad Thing is probably not going to happen.

Thing is, even after the emotional roller-coaster slows down, you still feel a little dizzy. So I probably won't be posting too much over the next 2-3 weeks. But I'll be reading yours. So blog away :)

And everyone who commented and emailed, thank you. Your support means a lot to me.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Puppy love/comic relief

So we went to dinner at a place that was a bit stuffy. At one point, I slipped outside for some fresh air. There was a pet store two doors down -- they don't sell pets, but rather food and paraphernalia, including a book called How to Massage Your Cat and a volume on dog astrology. I consulted it and found out what I always suspected -- that my childhood dog liked my mother better than me ;) She liked me, mind you, but my mom was her favorite. She was the leader of the pack.

Two really cute French bulldogs came in and I greeted them with cries of, "Hi, gorgeous!" and "How did you get to be so cute?" The mother replied, "I ask her that every day!" and answered for the dog: "Because my parents are Twinkle and Buttertoes."

It might not have been "toes," but it was butter-something.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

So, I'm still kind of stressed out. I have some stuff going on that I can't talk about yet. I might be able to in a few weeks. It depends on how things go.

I'm trying to think how to handle it. You see, things are kind of out of my control. I have to wait a few days for something, and then I have to wait 2-3 weeks. There is no way to speed it up.

I think what I need is perspective. I remember in sophomore year of college, I and a bunch of my friends were single. We were convinced we'd never find "the one," etc. We listened to "So Lonely" by the Police and called it "angst." The thing is, everybody in that group found "the one." Every last person. And I look back at our angst, and I kind of shake my head.

This issue is probably going to work out okay. No guarantees (knock on wood). And if it doesn't, life will go on. It won't be ideal, but the world won't stop turning, either.

I'm trying to tell myself, "This, too, will pass." 'Cause it will. Maybe not as quickly as I'd like, but it will resolve one way or the other.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The worry gene

I seem to be missing a gene that most people have, a gene that confers the ability to calm the $@^ down. D has it in spades. But I don't and fear I never will. And I do yoga, for heaven's sake. How do you guys handle anxiety?

Halloween doesn't really help. I make exceptions for cute little kids who dress up as bunnies and pumpkins and ducks. But the adults who cruise the streets of Manhattan on October 31 scare the @^* out of me. I saw a guy with a really scary mask and a flowing black cape. I also saw two trannies, one in a silver minidress and another in a belly shirt with a Goth ponytail.

I think I'd like to hibernate for the next month or so. Bears have the right idea, and after all, I'm a bearette...

Monday, October 29, 2007

When in doubt, borrow.

Lifted from Roxanne.

The Name Game

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet’s name & current car)
Pepper Civic (I don't have a car now, but that was my last one.)

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie),
Blood Orange Monster (okay, blood orange is my favorite sorbet flavor. And monster cookies at Whole Foods are my favorite cookie.)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name),
Kbod

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal),
Pink Puppy

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born),
Johanna Danvers (awesome!)

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first),
Bodka (sounds Russian)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink),
The Purple Carrot Juice

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers),
Francis Ferdinand

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy),
I'm allergic to perfume, so I'll skip this one.

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ),
Louise William (I like this one too)

And a few more…
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter),
Mooney Minneapolis (great)

12. SPY NAME/BOND GIRL: (your favorite season/holiday, flower).
Autumn Rose

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie”)
Grape Shirtie

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Cereal Elm

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”),
The Reading Sunshine Tour

Tag! Your turn!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Political eating habits

Tonight D and I had dinner with a friend who is Republican (a rarity in New York and probably the Northeast in general). D posited that Republicans always get meat or fish and that anything else is "out of their realm of possibility." D was thinking of our other Republican friend, P, who always gets meat, cranberry juice and dessert.

Our friend agreed, saying that liberals often get salad and a little bit of everything. (D and I had pasta dishes, and we all shared bruschetta to start.)

How do your food choices reflect your politics?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So I turned on the TV tonight before Pushing Daisies came on, just in time to catch the tail end of Wheel of Fortune. Pat Sajak and Vanna White look exactly like they did when I was a kid.

Pat asked Vanna, "What are you wearing for Halloween?"

Vanna replied, "Easy. Black. Simple. Maybe I'll put a letter on the front."

They laugh and Pat leans in: "What letter?"

Vanna (nervously): "I dunno. Maybe an N?"

Pat: "Well, I wish you would wear an I. So I could dot it."

This, um, clever innuendo made me wonder...have Pat and Vanna ever been...together?

Ick.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A couple of things happened tonight:

1) I patted a black cat who lives in a shop near my apartment. He's not as outgoing as Rainer, but he rubbed his head against my knee and seemed to enjoy the contact. Another cat was nearby and I patted him, too, but when I started patting the black cat, the other cat hissed angrily and went away. "He gets jealous really easily," the owner explained.

2) We ate in an outdoor garden (at a restaurant). Years ago we saw someone taking a shower in one of the apartments above the restaurant. Tonight there was another visible shower-taker; it was a guy, judging from the arms and shoulders and vigorous soaping movements. The window was fogged up, but it was clear enough to see his shape. You'd think they'd catch on that there's a courtyard of onlookers below!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lars and the real girl

So D and I saw Lars and the Real Girl last night. It was a sweet movie with an interesting premise. It takes place in an isolated Northern town (I thought Minnesota, D thought somewhere in Canada) and features Ryan Gosling as a lonely young man (Lars) who doesn't want a girlfriend, but does want some companionship. So he orders a life-size, female (anatomically correct) doll from the Internet.

I really recommend it. Although the doll never spoke, she somehow had more personality than most sitcom characters (and a fuller schedule). Lars' motivation in getting the doll can be summarized by his attitude toward fake flowers: "They're not real, so they last forever." It also starred Emily Mortimer and no one else was really recognizable, but they all did a good job.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Leah just sent me on a little trip down memory lane. She mentioned Corey Hart in her blog entry. In fourth grade, I thought Corey Hart's "Never Surrender" was the most comforting song on earth. I believe it belonged to my sister, and I'm pretty sure it was a 45!!!!! (For any young 'uns reading my blog, it's a small, round piece of vinyl with a hole in the center.)

I got my blood drawn yesterday and it was the most painless blood-taking ever. I have to applaud the nurse's mad skillz. She had me squeeze a ball in my fist and tied a tourniquet tightly around my arm, but these tactics are probably standard. So I don't know what her secret is. But she got my vein on the first try. So I was impressed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So I had dinner with K tonight at the neighborhood diner -- incidentally, the same one where the guy proposed to his girlfriend. I may have done it a disservice by comparing it to IHOP. Tonight's dinner was divine. I must've had a strawberry craving because I had a strawberry-frozen yogurt drink, an appetizer-size pizza on pita bread, and 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream, yummily presented with hot fudge sauce, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. I involuntarily said, "Holy shit," when they brought it and K remarked, "They like you here!"

In the elevator, back at my building, I saw a woman with her 2 little girls, both very cute. The older one told me she was six, and the younger one (in a stroller) held up 3 fingers to signify her own age. The six-year-old girl's eyes got all big and round and I could tell she was trying to think of something exciting to say. Finally she burst out, "I have a LIBRARY CARD already!" I thought that was pretty cool :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A nice surprise

So D and I went to a party tonight at Leela Lounge. We didn't know most of the people, but we had a good time anyway. The strangers had good social skills and soon we were all chatting. D got a drink called a hot chocolate, which was cold, but he was not disappointed. It apparently contained vanilla, Bailey's and Godiva liquor.

"Do you know what made it really special?" he asked me this morning.

"What?"

"There was a Hershey kiss at the bottom."

Then he forgot about the Hershey kiss, and when he had his second drink, he was surprised again ;)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

So D and I tried out Pushing Daisies, the new show about a guy who can bring back people from the dead (usually temporarily) and solve mysteries with their assistance. I liked it. D thought it was "fun and weird," and was surprised it got funding because it was a tad inaccessible. I hope it lasts!

In other news, Dave Eggers is coming out with a new book in 2008. It's an adult version of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. I'm looking forward to reading it.

And...Sophie Kinsella is coming out with another book in 2008 as well! Not in the Shopaholic series, but I'm happy about it anyway.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I take back what I said about The Big Bang Theory. Mostly. Penny is still a really dull character. But most of the other people are funny.

An embarrassing thing happened today. My SIL told me she was going to leave some yarn in a bag on my doorknob. I had a feeling it had arrived, so I opened the door to fetch the bag. Unfortunately, an old guy on my hallway was walking toward my door, so he could use the garbage chute. Why was this unfortunate? Because it was about 89 at the time, our building shut off the A/C in September, and well, you get the picture. The good news is, I didn't open the door all the way. I just kind of snaked my arm out. So I don't know how much he saw. Hopefully not a lot. Usually our hall is about as lively as a tomb. I guess I'll just pretend nothing happened when I see him again. Ugh.

And I finished a scarf! The pattern was fun to make.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A modest proposal

So D and I just ate at a diner we like -- French toast for him, veggie burger for me. This is a seriously cheap diner -- you can get a large, filling meal for $5-$8. Anyway, applause broke out as we were eating. We looked up and saw a guy posed, very theatrically, on bended knee, facing a giggling girl. He held a ring box in his hand. A strategically-placed photographer snapped a picture.

D and I both wondered why he proposed there? It's the NYC equivalent of Bickford's or IHOP. We came up with a couple of theories:

1. It's their favorite place.

2. He figured she would really be surprised.
So here's a capelet I made for my cousin (she was taken with mine, and requested one).



And my first pompom! They're a pain to make, but the result is cute. The embroidery floss will secure it to the hat.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Animal planet

So I visited Rainer today. His new thing is to tilt his head back and stare at me till I pat him on the head, at which point he closes his eyes and he looks like the very picture of bliss ;) Some woman smiled when she saw him in my lap and said, "He looks just like my cat...minus twenty pounds." Now, Rainer is a sweetheart, but he is not a slender cat. I can't help wondering what Rainer Plus looks like ;)

On the other end of the spectrum, we saw a tiny chihuahua on the sidewalk with its owner. A ring of people had gathered around it. It was strangely mesmerizing; you couldn't take your eyes off it. It was three weeks old.

And I may have a new cat friend soon. He lives in a shop on my street, but it's unfortunately always closed when I pass by (at night). The door is glass, though, so I can see him. Once he was sitting right there, so I said hello. He got excited and pawed at the door, and also rubbed his face against it. It's funny how some cats love you, and others won't give you the time of day (there's one who lives in a small grocery store nearby, and he ignores everyone. In a benign way.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I realized I hadn't blogged in a few days. It kind of slipped to the back of my mind. Well, here's some of the stuff that's been going on with me/us:

I'd been remiss about watching my Netflix movies, in particular Step Up (starring Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum - Who? Right.) Actually, you may remember that Jenna dated Justin Timberlake for a while, and was one of his dancers. I felt like it was time to get some new movies, so we watched this one. It wasn't great but not horrible either. It's a good one to watch with your significant other/friends because you'll have fun accurately predicting most of the movie based on the first 19 minutes. Then, at the 1 hr 30 min mark, you can accurately predict the ending.

I've also been working on a number of knitting projects. I'm finishing up a capelet for my cousin, and a scarf with a fun pattern and a hat are also in progress. Hopefully I'll have pictures of everything up within a week.

I also think Big Love has spoiled me for most television. After seeing how great that show is, how much care its writers took to develop the characters and create a convincing fictional world, I just can't swallow network TV* -- CBS's Monday night lineup, in particular. Okay, it was only The Big Bang Theory that sent me to the other room. But still. I hope that piece of dreck is off the airwaves soon.

*With the exception of The Office, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy (which I have to watch on ABC.com because it conflicts with The Office.) I especially like the way they handled Jim and Pam's new relationship on The Office...not too mushy, kind of subversive and clever. That could sum up the whole show, in fact.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

More more more

Here's a hat I made with leftover yarn from the poncho:


I love this yarn. I'm considering making another poncho from it (different pattern, different color).
So T and I saw The Jane Austen Book Club today. It was good, though it seemed a little long and disjointed. Sometimes scenes were glossed over, and we agreed that they probably ended up on the cutting room floor. I was pleased with the casting, though. Everyone looked and acted pretty much the way I expected from the book, although my memory of it was fairly dim after 3 years.

On the way to the movie we saw about 80 dogs gathered on the steps of a church. I patted one West Highland terrier and stole a peek at its mother's flyer -- "The Blessing of the Dogs." Cute.

Friday, September 28, 2007

So tonight, we went to Rainer-land. But first, we stopped at Fornino for some yummy, thin-crust pizza. I highly recommend them if you live in NYC. They have a great variety of pies, a cheerful staff, and an impressive selection of desserts. Even better, they don't play any songs after 1989. The Doobie Brothers, the Bee Gees, early Michael Jackson, and De Barge all made an appearance.

The waitress recommended the tartufo, which pretty much knocked our socks off. (We put them back on before we left.) It's hard to describe, but it was kind of slices of chocolate ice cream with an accent of vanilla ice cream, and it had a crisp-but-not-hard chocolate coating. The plate was also dotted with whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder.

Rainer was elated to see me...not to brag or anything ;) He was a kneading maniac, moving from my legs to my hipbones and stomach. I think he has very sound judgment -- he relaxes when the music is soft and mellow, and doesn't like it when songs are grating. Before I left, he requested a belly rub, which has become part of our repertoire :)

Poncho

Here's the poncho I just finished:


And the stitches up close:


It was one of those patterns where you get to drop stitches on purpose, which was kind of fun. And the yarn -- Malabrigo Chunky -- was a dream to work with.

In other news, T and I are seeing The Jane Austen Book Club tomorrow. We might have banana/blue cornmeal pancakes before the movie :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So I just saw 2 Days in Paris (totally unrelated to Hilton). It's a new movie, written and directed by Julie Delpy, who appeared in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. If you liked Before Sunset, chances are you would like this. I'm not always a fan of French movies, but there is something quirky, down-to-earth and charming about the way she views the world that makes me enjoy her movies. Adam Goldberg is also in it, and has tattoos all over his body -- I wonder if they're real? Also, it was interesting to watch all the ways in which American and French culture clashed.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Low tech, or: shower problems, Chapter IV

A while ago, Leah wrote a blog entry about high/low tech -- how the plethora of BlackBerries, Pocket PCs, SMS messaging and who knows what else have created in the populace a thirst for low-tech -- home cooking, knitting and high-necked Victorian nighties. Well, probably not the nighties.

Also a while ago, probably in March, we started having problems with low pressure in our shower. We never got it fixed. I know, I know. It's just that the maintenance folk in our building like to give you a four-hour window in which you have to stay and wait for them, and it's a pain. Also, they're kind of loud, banging things around and yelling into their walkie-talkies. So we never got around to it.

More recently (maybe yesterday or the day before), D pulled on the shower/bath lever so he could take a shower, and the lever came off in his hand. So now we can only take baths. Historically, when I put shampoo in my hair and rinse it in the bath water, it comes out looking weird -- big and clumpy. I have no patience for hair upkeep so it basically has to look good or at least presentable coming out of the shower. I don't even get it cut -- why pay to get something taken away? :D

So I came upon the idea of filling a stainless-steel bowl with bath water and pouring it (gently) on my head. It was really relaxing, like standing under a waterfall.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So I just got back from a brief visit to my hometown. It was for a sad reason, but I liked seeing all my family. My mother has a really big family -- they have a Christmas party every year, and 70-80 people show up (and that's not even perfect attendance). I like the social aspect of a large family.

Anyway, I finished two knitted pieces on the train. Here's a hat for D's sister:



And here's a heart scarf:



And, since today is D's birthday, he got a couple of presents from my mom:



Thursday, September 20, 2007

I saw George Clooney!

So D and I agreed to eat at a neighborhood restaurant tonight. There was a commotion out front, with bright lights and people filming. Once we got in the resto, I asked the host what was going on. "George Clooney is out there," he said matter-of-factly, but you could tell he was enjoying the drama of it.

After we ordered, I stepped downstairs and one of the employees went to the window and pointed him out. "What do you think of the beard?" the employee asked. "You got a pretty face, why hide it?" (referring to George). I didn't think it was bad, though. It made him look rugged.

On the way out, we got an even better view. He's tall, with dark hair that's mostly silver now, and he was wearing an expensive-looking gray suit. He smiled at someone nearby and he did have a beautiful smile. I thought he was better-looking in person, which seems to be a trend with male celebrities I've seen.

Rainer II

So I met a cat as friendly as Rainer today. She looked different, with butterscotch fur, very fluffy, and topaz-colored eyes, but she started kneading me right away. On my bare leg. I saw what Liz meant -- it hurts! So I have to assume that Rainer's claws are clipped, as Kitkat suggested, or else he is very talented ;)

Remember the fruit man who calls me ma'am? I can't hold it against him, for he was kind enough to hold my library books as I looked through my wallet to pay for my peaches. I was about to put the books down on a crate, but he scooped them up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Capelet

Here's the capelet I finished last night:


The pattern is from Viva Poncho.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Goodies

I recently got a gift certificate to Old Navy, and here are two of the things I picked up:




Plus a birthday bag for someone:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tonight D and I visited Rainer. He was quite glad to see me, and rubbed his head across the front of my jean jacket. He also looked at my hair as if he might want to eat it. He didn't, but some dogs actually do that (especially pugs).

He stayed on my lap so long, snoring gently, that my legs fell completely asleep and I had to grab onto D's hand to get up. At the bookstore, D purchased Paddington on Top, a non-sexual book about Paddington Bear. He read me bits on the way home. I didn't know Paddington was from "darkest Peru," did you?

Near our apartment, we saw a guy wearing a fluffy red felt hat with dice markings. It was probably inspired by Mystery; he recommends wearing unusual hats as a way to stand out. But if everyone takes his advice, the hats will become the norm, and presumably no longer effective.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mystery

By now, I'm sure you've all heard of Mystery, the bizarre pickup artist whose techniques include card games, top hats and insults. According to a friend, one of his "tricks" is to approach a woman and say, "I'm entranced by your beauty. Can I draw a picture of you?"

Woman (bored): Yeah.

Then Mystery draws a stick figure and writes beneath it: "Semi-pretty girl, Chicago [or wherever he is], 2007."

This is supposed to ignite the woman's competitive nature -- "I'll make him like me," etc.

I'm skeptical about this for any number of reasons.

1) Does anyone really like to be insulted to her face? I don't.

2) I thought men liked the thrill of the chase, not women. Do we really want to work that hard?

3) I don't like top hats.

But I am a bit amused by the whole thing. For a very funny "fan" letter to Mystery, go here.

Finally, I can't help but notice the plethora of "get him to marry you" and "get her to sleep with you" books. Why don't they have "get her to marry you" and "get him to sleep with you" books?

I asked D that question once and he considered it. "They'd be very short books," he said.
Today D and I were walking to his office when we ran into an employee of his, who is also a friend of ours. She gave me a hug and afterward, I had the suspicion that I held the hug too long. It wasn't a Sapphic hug ;) It was just that she was wearing a soft fleecy thing and it felt very cozy. D started laughing and said, "I guarantee she did not think you hugged her too long."

I checked out a yarn store listed in the back of Stitch 'n' Bitch today and was underwhelmed. But I have to give the owner points for his sales pitch. He saw me handling some merino and said, "Is best merino in town. Four skeins make a scarf, two skeins make a hat, fifteen skeins make a sweater."

Me: Fifteen?

Him (backpedaling): Or fourteen. Depends on pattern.

Finally, D and I might see Mr. Woodcock tonight. The poster looked awful, but the preview, which featured Billy Bob Thornton absent-mindedly torturing Seann William Scott (a smarmy self-help author), was pretty funny. I'll probably review it later.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last night I had dinner with A and E. Both of them are teachers, and the strain of a new year was showing. I hope it gets easier for them.

I liked the restaurant a lot. I got there a few minutes early so I busied myself by reading the review outside. It explained that everything -- the pale orange of the walls, the "banal" music -- was designed to soothe. There is even a box inside with a fortune for every diner. "Fortune, no cookie," the review explained. Mine said something like, "Life can only give you what you are willing to put into it." A's fortune was more convoluted, suggesting that "by being in the moment, your personality" will transform something. Neither of us could follow it.

It was a bit of a sketchy neighborhood. Some guy offered to "show me something" and then said "You don't even have to get on," pointing to his skateboard. Then someone asked us for money, heavily slurring his words. A said, "There are a lot of people in transition," and I was thinking how politically correct that was, when he added, "That was a bit of a euphemism; I'm not sure where they're going."

In other news, I am loving the fall weather, which is here at last. It's tailor-made for biking. Speaking of which, I think I'll head out now...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More knitting

I finished a hat and scarf today:



Sunday, September 09, 2007

I was at Barnes & Noble tonight and came across evidence of a dastardly crime! I was in the crafts section, thumbing through books. There was a table covered with bargain books, and I couldn't help but notice that most of them were marked down for a reason. Isn't that always the way?

So I moved past the bargain table and perused the regular shelves. I took down the Yarn Girls' new book of knitting patterns. I've looked at it before, and came across the illustration for a cabled pocketbook that I think is particularly cute. But then something struck me as strange. There was the picture of the pocketbook, but no pattern. Someone had torn out pages 139 to 144. And there were the stubs of ripped-out pages to prove it (as well as the jump in page numbers).

So the moral of this story is: always look through a knitting book in its entirety before you buy it. Or get it from Amazon.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

So D and I saw Shoot 'Em Up tonight. It was fairly violent, as the name would imply. But it was a cartoonish sort of violence that was hard to take seriously. Clive Owen was good, and his role may even cause a surge in carrot sales. (You'll have to see it to find out why.) It was interesting seeing Paul Giamatti as a villain. He doesn't really have the looks for it, with his round face and owlish glasses, but he pulled it off fairly well, aside from a certain stagy quality when he spoke. I would give it a B or B+ -- it was more inventive and interesting than most action movies, but it did have a very rough edge.

After the movie, we visited Rainer. I think the heat was too much for him. He kneaded my leg for a while, but didn't linger in my lap, preferring to lie on the cool floor instead. I rubbed his belly, which he seemed to enjoy. I also patted Hayes, who definitely has less personality but is a nice cat anyway. DG pointed out that Hayes has the same amount of personality as his namesake (Rutherford B. Hayes).

To cap the evening, we were walking toward a park when we heard the sounds of Modest Mouse. We remembered they were supposed to perform live in Brooklyn, so we followed the music and found ourselves behind a chain link fence, through which we could see them throwing a concert. It was pretty cool. They played 2 songs that I recognized -- "Float On" and one other. A guy standing near us joked, "I feel like we're in prison. But they're in prison. We're on the outside."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The New Yorkers

I'm reading a book called The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine. I'm really enjoying it, despite the slow pace. It has a lot of fun observations. For example: "She was easy company, possibly because she was somewhat inattentive." That startled me - would you enjoy somebody's company more if s/he wasn't paying that close attention to you? And then I realized: maybe. We have probably all been in situations where we felt scrutinized, and inattention might be more relaxing.

There are two dogs in the story: Howdy and Beatrice. There are also little sketches of dogs scattered throughout the text, which I like. Part of the novel is set during the 2003 blackout in New York, which brought up my own memories of the day. I was actually sunning in Central Park, decided to walk home, and then I noticed that none of the street lights were working. As it turned out, our apartment is on a different grid from the rest of the city, so we didn't lose our electricity at home. But it was pretty outside, with all these bars putting candles on their tables.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

As promised, here's a picture of my completed shawl. It's huge! But that helps make it cozy ;)

It's a human shawl, but our extra-large teddy bear, Muffin, wanted to model it:



Here's how the shawl looks without Muffin:



And here are the stitches up close:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Rainer, foot fetishist.

It struck me that Rainer has quite a personality. On each visit, he exhibits some new quirk. This way, I can blog about him over and over again ;) Also, it keeps things interesting.

When I got to the bookstore tonight, he was prowling around instead of resting. He registered my presence, but instead of getting in my lap right away, he got up close and personal with some woman's foot. "I have too many cats on my feet," she laughed; I guess she was a cat owner?

Then he meandered over to the man standing next to her, and really gave in to full-fledged foot ecstasy. He wound around the guy's ankles and made lapping motions at his feet. Whether he actually licked them or not, I don't know.

Then he got into my lap. D observed that Rainer likes all my attention. When I talk to others, he gets restless. So I sang to him, and patted him, and he became relaxed and content.
Knitting bloggers shake me out of my rut with ideas for new things to make -- but they also send me straight to the yarn store ;) Fortunately, I'm learning how to economize. Cascade, at $7 for 220 yards of pure wool, is an especially good deal. That's probably enough for two hats.

Here are the three skeins I bought:



One of the skeins is for a gift. The raspberry yarn and the green ball are wool, while the blue skein is cotton.

A little girl spun my yarn in the store and chided her mother, "You're going to have to learn to spin sometime. Do you think I'll be living with you forever?"

Insomnia strikes again

I can't sleep.

I know people say that if you have insomnia, it's probably a sign of some deep anxiety. Unfortunately, the things that flick through my head when I can't sleep are as follows:

1) The skin on my collarbone feels weird. Maybe it will be better if I lie on my side? No, then my arm will fall asleep. Guess I'll get up and blog.

2) All the songs from Rubber Soul (a Beatles album I recently rediscovered).

The shawl I'm working on is taking forever. It has 90 rows (or it will when it's finished), and each row has 100+ stitches (160 in the beginning, but there have been periodic decreases). However, I love the colors. The finished product might be too busy, but making stripes is fun. I'll just wear it with a very subdued top ;)

Am pondering whether to see that ping-pong movie with Christopher Walken. I am definitely a fan of his, but I read once that he'll take any role he's offered. Fortunately, it hasn't scarred his reputation. But it means I always think about it before I head to the cineplex.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Prepare for a virtual feast

So we had dinner with P and L. I ate more than I do in a week. Here is what I (gulp) consumed:

bread and sheep's milk ricotta
roasted red peppers
beet salad (small)
sweet corn ravioli (small)
some of L's fettucine with pesto
2 small, fresh-baked doughnuts

Dang, it was good. The doughnuts were called "bombolina." The waiter came over to tell us, "Your bombolina will be out in five to ten minutes...we had to put in a new batch." P said, "I thought he was going to tell us they were out of them...and I was going to KILL him." They were divine. You know the kind of dessert where you cry out, "Oh, my GOD" as you're eating it and you're transported to food heaven? Yeah. That kind.

I always eat more with them. I think they have a relaxing effect on me :)

Before dinner, I watched Million Dollar Baby. The acting was great. I thought they all deserved their Oscars. Hillary Swank was really likable and also buff. I was in awe of her arms. But, starting at the 90-minute mark, the movie took a real turn for the worse. As in, seriously depressing. I was chanting in my head, It's-not-real it's-not-real it's-not-real...

It was very well-crafted, scripted and acted...but kind of devastating. Approach with caution.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Crack and socks

So tonight we ate at one of our favorite vegetarian restaurants. The experience was somewhat marred by crack! I'll explain.

A woman was sitting with her back to me. She wore an extremely loose white belt, more for decoration than anything else. Between the belt, and above her waistband, was CRACK. Like an inch of it. I don't want to see that while I'm eating.

It's true, she was reasonably attractive. This was not a hairy, fleshy plumber's ass. But still. Cover your crack!

Moving on.

D had some MRIs done today to monitor his back. He herniated a disc a while ago. A little-known fact: you get a gift with your MRI. The gift of socks. They are very snazzy and have little treads on the bottom.

Walking through Central Park after dinner, I spotted a small gray-and-white cat lurking among the rocks. I headed toward it but it ran away. I hope it's okay and that it knows how to forage for itself. It looked so small and vulnerable. But D assured me that the cat did not look scrawny and probably enjoys being outside. I hope so.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

So we visited Rainer tonight. This visit was somewhat unusual because two people joined me, a couple. The girl was enchanted by the way Rainer kneaded my leg. Then the guy came closer and Rainer's whole body stiffened. He made a huffing sound and I thought: uh-oh. But then I massaged Rainer's side and face and he purred and I thought everything would be okay.

Then the guy stuck his hand into Rainer's face and Rainer took a quick swipe with his claws in the guy's direction. He didn't make contact, but the clear message was: back off. I gently suggested that the guy shouldn't approach Rainer from the front, but rather from the side. Looking back, though, I'm not sure it would have made a difference, because all the relaxation had drained from Rainer's body. He was definitely on guard.

So then the guy stuck his hand in Rainer's face again and Rainer jumped off my lap and hid behind a chair. I couldn't get him to come out again. His green eyes had this vague faraway look that they get when he retreats into himself.

I did pat the other bookstore cat, however. His name is Hayes (after the former president, Rutherford B. Hayes. Both cats have high-falutin names ;) Hayes was amenable to patting. I noticed that Rainer likes to stay on the floor, while Hayes sprawls out over the books on the display table.

So the evening was a bit suboptimal. But I have faith that Rainer and I can have quiet one-on-one time during my next visit, without intruders :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eventful

A lot has happened today already. I went to meet D for lunch and along the way I spotted a Boston terrier -- one blue eye, one brown. I stooped to pat it and then I heard an ear-bruising screech!! Everyone's head whipped around. Even the dog jumped. A taxi had squealed to a halt and there was a delivery boy on its hood.

Somebody yelled, "Call an ambulance!" The boy seemed fine, even hopping on his bike to finish his deliveries -- but everyone persuaded him to stay. I took out my cell phone but another woman was already giving details to 911. After the woman finished the call, I was satisfied that help was on its way, so I continued. There were a bunch of rubberneckers/supporters gathered around the boy, so he wasn't alone. The dog stayed too.

I was shaken by this, of course, but then something amusing happened. A few blocks later, I knelt down to pat a beagle tied outside a coffee shop, and it let loose with this big mournful howl: AROOOO. Everyone smiled, including a girl whom I realized was Lake Bell. I guess she's not famous enough to be paranoid about being recognized. Susan Sarandon (my first celebrity sighting back in 1999) practically ran when I spotted her. But she didn't need to; I never say anything. I've also seen Ethan Hawke and Edward Norton, and I have to say they are better-looking in person.

After lunch, I walked D to a meeting. We passed a bakery with all sorts of novelty cakes. One had a real Barbie head, but its dress was all cake (about a foot long from the hem to the neckline). There was also a cake shaped like a fluffy white dog. They had cupcakes, too, with frosting in the shape of Elmo's head, Bert's head, etc.

Million Dollar Baby is our next Netflix movie. My mother warned me not to see it. She's usually accurate; she told me not to see Closer, and then I saw it anyway, and didn't really enjoy it. But I do like Clive Owen, so maybe it was worth it ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

There's a trend in our neighborhood of girls leaving the bathroom together. Single-occupancy bathrooms. This titillates the men. They giggle and point. Curiously, afterward, the bathroom is smoke free. Hmm.

We met a friend's new girlfriend recently. The two of them have the exact same speech patterns. Their sentences stop in the same places and trail off in the same way. So I asked her, "Are you from the Midwest?" (He is.) She nodded.

It's probably a sign they're well suited to each other. The similar speech, that is.

On the way home from dinner tonight, I patted several dogs, including:

A yellow Lab who liked to sit on the sidewalk after his snack, i.e., "rest and digest."

A foxy dog who licked me on the nose and forehead.

We shared an elevator in our building with a chihuahua that I never dare to pat because he's got a fierce bark on him. Even when he sniffed my legs, I held still. The dog's not much bigger than my hand but his demeanor says, "Don't f*ck with me, man. I'll make mincemeat of you."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

So here's a picture of the pocketbook I finished:



And the shawl I started:



I realized I was really bored with hats.

D and I saw Superbad on Friday. It was good, but as usual with a Judd Apatow production (he directed Knocked Up), stunningly crude. He did recycle one joke from Knocked Up, where it was better executed. But I'd still give Superbad an A-.

Then my college roommate came to visit and we all watched Snakes on a Plane. She kept covering her eyes during the extremely fake murder scenes and for a moment I missed my eighth-grade slasher flick buddy, who didn't like Psycho because she wanted more "gore."

Snakes really exceeded my expectations -- if you were okay with its total ridiculousness and implausibility, then it was kind of hilarious and pretty engaging. I'd give it a B overall but a B+ within its genre.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rainer's new trick

So tonight I communed with Rainer at his home. He climbed into my lap and kneaded my thigh for about 10 minutes. Sometimes he lost traction, but he just hopped back on. He gets into a bit of a trance when he does that; it's fun to watch.

When he stopped kneading and curled up in my lap, I took one sandal off and put it to the side. It's more comfortable to sit cross-legged without shoes. However, I never got around to taking the other one off.

When I had to go, I stood up and he made his way to the sandal and curled up with it. He cleverly arranged it so his paw was holding it down and it was hard for me to get it back. I wondered if he was snuggling with it because:

1) it's mine and he likes me :D

or

2) he didn't want me to go.

I guess it could be both.

Cat psychology is fascinating to me ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inspired by Roxanne's fun striped bag, I'm working on a purple-and-pink knitted pocketbook. I've been doing various projects to use up the yarn I have, without adding new skeins to the stash. It's funny, I haven't made anything on straight needles in a while, since I make hats in the round. It feels like going back to nature or something ;)

D and I tried a new Indian resto with AT. The portions were small and the flavors were interesting. They even had a blueberry tapioca dessert which was delicious, but not heavy. D did not fare as well -- his fried cauliflower with sweet-and-sour sauce (recommended by the waiter!) tasted disgusting to all three of our palates, as if it might have spoiled. They did bring him something else, fortunately, but he still gave the food a B minus. I'm hoping he'll go back; I'll steer him toward better choices on the menu ;) In the background, a Bollywood movie was playing.

I'm reading The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. While not as good as Midwives, it is definitely holding my attention, and I like the main character and the idea of a talented homeless photographer. However, one thing is jarring: Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby are treated as real people in the context of the novel -- i.e., the narrator talks about the houses where they used to live, and Daisy's daughter is a character in the story.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A place in the sun

So tonight D and I were eating outdoors and a man stopped at our table with a camera. He asked if we wanted to be interviewed about our dining experience. D's immediate reaction upon seeing a camera is always NO. However, I kind of wanted to be interviewed, and by the time the second cameraman came around, I said yes.

I blathered on a bit about the restaurant, my dish, etc., with the camera periodically zooming in on my lasagna or my face. I can only hope there wasn't sauce on it ;)

Anyway, if y'all want to see the clip, it should be online sometime in September at nwhyc.com. The site has not been launched yet.

We saw an adorable Akita (fluffy wolfhound-type dog) approach the outdoor tables. His owner called out to a tall waiter with a dancer's carriage: "I'll have a double Jack Daniels...and your phone number." Later, he lamented, "Where is that hot boy waiter?" His dog needed some water.

Fighting the good fight

So at Whole Foods, they have my favorite yogurt in the world -- Wallaby. The only hitch? Some of their nonfat yogurts cost $1.19, others cost $1.09. As a conscientious objector, I bought only the $1.09 flavors. But they kept ringing up at $1.19. After going through the whole price-check ordeal on several occasions, I asked for a suggestion slip.

I explained the foregoing and added boldly, "Make them all $1.09!"

This was last week.

I went there tonight and they made all the prices uniform.

They're all $1.19.

Bet you could see that coming.

In other news, my college roommate is going to visit this weekend on her way back from music camp. Since she shares an initial with another friend I've mentioned before, we will call her CR.

In book-related news, I finished Girl Sleuth (about the creation of Nancy Drew) and really enjoyed it. My LibraryThing review is here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Becoming Jane

So T and I had brunch this morning -- vanilla buttermilk pancakes for her, lemon ricotta pancakes with strawberries for me. We both admired the banana cream cheese stuffed French toast from a distance, but feared it would be too filling. I think it's the cream cheese that scared us off...the final touch of decadence.

We saw Becoming Jane which was just so good...much better than I was expecting, and more interesting than the poster implied. It was so engaging and charming. At the end though, I was crying, and I looked over at T and saw that her eyes were wet too. We had to stay in the theater for a while!

When we did leave, we passed a poster for Shoot 'em Up (ugh, what a title) in which Clive Owen plays a British nanny. Should be interesting.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Things are getting curiouser and curiouser

My library hired a 12-year-old. Last time I went there, he waited on me. My hold book wasn't on the hold shelf, so I suggested it might be behind the counter. "Books are never back there," he assured me solemnly. In fact, they always are. Maybe they should be on the hold shelf, but "should" is aspirational -- e.g., the president should be a good ruler, the war in Iraq should be over, you know. So I said, "I've been coming here since before you were born, son."

No, I didn't. But he learned his lesson about the way this library is run...the book was indeed back there.

So he waited on D today. Once we got out, I told him, "That was the 12-year-old!"

He said, "Yeah, I was thinking, 'Is that the 12-year-old? Well, I'm doing something really simple. He can't mess it up.'"

Aren't there child labor laws?

I also went to the hardware store. Three things are always true about hardware stores:

1) They are cluttered
2) They have no decor
3) I am the only woman in there.

And lastly, I saw the cutest dog in the world today*. A Wheaton.

*This applies to 40-50% of the dogs I meet.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I was saying to Liz earlier this week that nonfiction sometimes feels like a chore...but sometimes I am in the mood to read it. I have to recommend Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. At first I was afraid it would be somewhat stuffy, but I'm learning all about these books I never heard of! Case in point: The Marquise of O-- by Heinrich von Kleist. Though Kleist tragically died young, his stories sound lively, racy and full of plot twists. The author of the book taught writing at a university in Utah and assigned the story to her students. She was holding her breath to see how the wholesome Mormons would react. (Of course, I kept thinking of Big Love.) It turns out they loved it! Now I want to read it.

And finally, I'm having brunch and seeing a movie with T this weekend. I suggested 3 movies and she's up for any of them. The Ten, Becoming Jane and No Reservations. Any recommendations?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

So tonight my relationship with Rainer took on a whole new dimension. He was sprawled peacefully in my lap when the bookstore cashier came over with a purple brush in his hand. "Hey there, how do you feel about brushing?" he asked. (It is an eccentric but charming bookstore.)

"Does he like it?" I asked.

"Depends on who he's with."

So I accepted the brush and ran it through his fur, very gently. He seemed to really enjoy it. Later, when he climbed off my lap, he lay down on the floor next to me and I brushed his belly. He stretched out his front legs with pleasure.

I also wanted to mention my neti pot. Inspired by Liz, I ordered one from Amazon a while ago, along with some packets of saline soution. At first I was dumping the salt into the water and not stirring. This really burns up your nose. Now I stir the salt and it works much better. I've overcome that feeling of "This is someplace I shouldn't be rinsing," and I've found it's pretty helpful.