Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm Somewhat Immortalized

I miss my old writing teacher, although my new one appears to be a very good one, and I'm excited to start the next round. Imagine what a genius I'll be at the end of it!

But since I had offered to proofread some job-application materials for my old teacher, yesterday I got an e-mail from him with the promised stuff to be dissected by my red pen. It's been intriguing to look at it all; he's led an interesting life and loves a lot of the same stuff I do. I somewhat wish I had met him in college (he graduated a year after I did), because I think we would have bonded. It's not terribly surprising, I guess, since a love of the same material and a similar sensibility is probably a large part of the reason why he liked my writing so much. It's weird to think it's that subjective, this assessment of talent and worth. But I guess it's like love and anything else: aren't we all just looking for that reflection of ourselves?

Among the things that compose an application for a writing professor, I find there's something called a "portfolio," which, in his rendering, consists of a narrative of his teaching methodology, as illustrated by a fictionalized class made up of various students he has taught, along with examples of their writing in an appendix. I am one of these students!

It's weird to see fictional me in class setting; I seem to be quite the thoughtful, engaged participant. I somewhat take issue with his suggestion of me as a shy, librarian type who doesn't like to meet people's eyes, although I totally dig having my Corningware dish immortalized. And I won't burst his bubble by telling him that the class methodology had very little to do with that particular story, and that all the word-game words I incorporated were my own, thrown out in class not because I reached that mondo-creative state, but because I had already decided to use them.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We're Less Corrupt! We're Less Corrupt!

No more Gov. Rod Blagojevich:
The verdict brought to an end what one lawmaker branded "the freak show" in Illinois. Over the past few weeks, Blagojevich found himself isolated, with almost the entire political establishment lined up against him. The furor paralyzed state government and made Blagojevich and his helmet of lush, dark hair a punchline from coast to coast.

Have I Mentioned I've Been Powering Through Mad Men?

I love love love these. They're awesome. Apart from the fact that I love the show, they fit perfectly into my current aesthetic, which is featuring my rediscovered 60s vintage dresses and blouses and killer black liquid eyeliner. I may have to go all crazy with the hair, with big rollers and shit.

Laying into the Tums

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Serenity Now!

You know it's time to find yourself a relaxing Zen center when you're stopping yourself from replying to a discussion about costs over budget with: "Here, let me write you a check for $500. It's worth my peace of mind."

This Is Pretty Fascinating

(clicking will make it larger and easier to read)

Map tracking political party affiliation by state.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Class Starts Tomorrow

It goes from 6:00 until 10:20, thirty minutes longer than the last one. Given that I leave my house at 7:30 and won't get home until 11, that's a long day. I'm not sure if I have it in me.

Fun Office Forwards

Satellite view of the inauguration.

An Indication That You're Perhaps a Little Tense

When you're worried because you know there's something you're supposed to be worried about, but you can't remember what it is.

I won't pretend that this is a universal experience.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Do We Think?

My new, less pink bedroom color.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Impending End of the Longest Shortest Week Ever

I find I'm listening eagerly to NPR for the sole purpose of hearing someone intone the words "President Obama." And in his first few hours in office, he's hitting the ground running. It's enough to make a person tear up with the awesomeness of it all. I expect it's what it's like for desert-island castaways when they finally return to civilization and are presented with a really good buffet.

It's Friday, so random music to ease me into my day.

1. she is beyond good and evil, the pop group
2. quicksand, david bowie
3. freedom hangs like heaven, iron & wine
4. we can talk, the band
5. deirdre, the beach boys
6. before i'm over you, loretta lynn
7. cast off crown, deerhoof
8. straight to you, nick cave & the bad seeds
9. walken, wilco
10. heaven, squeeze

And do you suppose it can be blamed on my cable-less existence that I know all about things like the Heat Surge and the Chia cat grass planter but had never until yesterday heard of this film?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Random Observation

I love, love that Jill Biden is "Dr. Jill Biden" on the White House website.

It's Official!

Check out the White House website and new blog!

And one of Obama's first actions is going to be lifting the global gag rule--i.e., the rule prohibiting federal funding to international family planning groups that mention abortion--which is most excellent news.

The Inauguration: In Human Form

Seems like it took forever to get here, right? I hope everybody's somewhere television or internet adjacent in order to watch this. We've fired up the tv in the library and are projecting the arrival of bagels to cater the occasion.

I was getting misty just seeing the crowds (if I still lived there, damn, I'd have some fairly primo location, at least for the folks pouring across Memorial Bridge from Virginia), so I just know I'm going to be bawling. Luckily, in anticipation of this, I brought out the waterproof mascara this morning.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Inauguration: In Lego Form

How cool is this?

A 4-inch-tall Barack Obama rendered in Lego bricks will be sworn in as plastic president before more than 1,000 miniature-molded dignitaries at Legoland California’s inaugural pre-enactment.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I think until I can write about something besides the goddamned weather and the seasonal affective disorder I seem to have developed in response to same, I will refrain from navel-gazing blogging. I'm starting to get on my own nerves.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This Looks To Be Intriguing Reading As We Bid Good Riddance to the Bush II Years

A ginormous article in Vanity Fair on the Bush White House consisting of selections from interviews of players in and observers of the clusterfuck.

So This Is What It's Like to Live in Fargo

My car did start this morning, I was amazed to discover, despite the -17 temperature and -30/-40 wind chills and the fact that I had to park on the street due to my frozen garage door. And it only took 30 minutes for the car to warm up enough to allow me to move the gearshift into neutral, which is not so much time to sit there with your foot on the clutch.

Post-move insanity continues apace, including bathroom drama ("the door's shut! the door's locked! how will we know if someone's in there? maybe we need a sign.") and building safety and security orientation, which, sadly--and despite the content and delivery ("What do we do in this situation? Can anyone tell me? We give them the Broadway smile!")--did not actually feature hand puppets.

Random music because I was an idiot and left my ipod here last night, hence I'm in tune withdrawal.

1. farther on up the road, lonnie mack
2. what's mine is yours, sleater-kinney
3. 8 days on the road, howard tate
4. brownsville blues, furry lewis
5. wildwood flower, loretta lynn
6. i'm going to hell, the long blondes
7. 1000 umbrellas, xtc
8. in the aeroplane over the sea, neutral milk hotel
9. interzone, joy division
10. turnstyles, stanley ross

And thank god the week is over and I have Monday off for MLK day. Oh, and I registered for my next writing class. So yay for me on that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Crab Shellacking and Other Career Opportunities

A friend of mine once pointed out how, for every bizarre, mundane, or dorky thing you can think about encountering, there's a person performing a job--hell, possibly even pursuing a career--to bring it to you, the clueless consumer/observer. For instance, ponder those display crustaceans at seafood restaurants. Someone's spending time polishing them to a sheen to make them attractive to you the ravenous seafood-eater, so that you may order said crustacean of a meal, enjoy it fully, and never think of it again.

Similarly, I find out while listening to NPR on the way home that there is a person--more than one!--who spends time tossing frozen turkeys into airplane engines to test against bird strikes. Sure, we're happy these brave souls tirelessly perform their jobs (as I'm sure are the people on that U.S. Airways flight). But can you imagine a kid in this world pining, pining to grow up to be a turkey tosser?

You See Tough Economic Times and Home Loss, I See Opportunity

This is depressing, but you know, the American way:

As home values across the country continue to plummet, the authorities say a new breed of swindler is preying on the tens of thousands of homeowners desperate to avoid foreclosure.

Until recently, defrauders tried to bilk homeowners out of the equity in their homes. Now, with that equity often dried up, they are presenting themselves as “foreclosure rescue companies” that charge upfront fees to modify loans but often do nothing to stave off foreclosure.

Dear Lord

I could barely make it the block from the parking garage to my office without feeling like I needed to be hauling oxygen canisters and scanning the horizon for next base camp on Everest. Question: How much time did I spend trying to get my garage door to close this morning? Answer: Significant amounts. And tomorrow morning is supposed to be worse. Jesus.

On the bright side, literally, the sun is out. Also, while I may look like an arctic refugee, I am toasty here in my windowless office.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Is This "Work" You Speak Of?

I must say, returning to the office after an extended period of relaxation and snacking is very distressing. Worse still is coming back and having to unpack and deal with dreary things like finding your stapler.

But, we are finally moved to the new office space! And I am in posh accommodations, indeed, compared with the other people who are not muckety-mucks. I have the solo office, with two spaces from which to choose my favorite work nook. I have a bright green wall and cheery overhead lights. (How they make fluorescent lights cheery and warm, as opposed to soul-scorching, I don't know. Maybe they popped for the special "warm light" versions.) I have less shelf space than before, but I have the luxury of floor and desk space in which to temporarily park all the stuff I no longer have shelf space for.

In contrast, those in Cubesville are seething and resentful, bunched together and fighting over common areas. I'm sympathetic, to be sure. It's a raw deal, and there's no privacy (well, there will be a lot of the time, because two of the three people only work part time).

And okay, a part of me feels guilty. I didn't ask for anything (okay, the oversized monitor, I did ask for, but I can't help it if they give it to me, right?). But another part of me thinks: eh, I'm here more than you, I'm not a clock watcher, and I step up to do much, much more. So I don't feel too bad about it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blizzard Warnings. Jesus.

I'm officially depressed. I'm over this, times about a thousand. And, yes, tomorrow I go back to work, which means I get to stand at the bus stop for an unspecified period of time in sub-zero temps with raging winds.

Your Midwestern Winter Wonderland. Or Something.

Here's the view Chez Laura, before the next round of snow, i.e., the two to four inches coming our way tonight.

So Many Questions. It's Just Picking the Right One

I think we can all be properly chastened at our skepticism over Joe the Plumber's journalistic bona fides. I think the "Israel people" are going to be warming up to him, a la Barbara Walters, and telling him their true feelings. Mark my words, he'll be giving us a side to this conflict, a human side.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Yes! Yes!

This is so very exciting: I'm printing wirelessly. Wirelessly, people! I set up, I configured, I disabled my firewall, I did it all by my very self without crashing anything. I feel so tech savvy. And now I am printing letters.

Now if I could only get my camera connection and music in a network-accessible location so that I may avoid the twelve-step process of carrying files back and forth, I would be golden for all occasions.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Best Thank-You Card Ever

A 64-count marker box is a pretty sweet score at the holidays for a certain crafty sort of munchkin. And I was just saying to myself how I need more fridge art.

It's Snowing, So It Must Be Friday

I think we have confirmed that Midwesterners can talk at length of few things like they can the weather. We're like the Eskimos with 300 words for snow, only for us, it's 300 curse words and variations on complaints.

I'm on my last free weekday day before our regularly scheduled work days resume on Monday. I will be very very sad to resume real-world functioning and to have to return to new windowless quarters at our new office space. However, I will say that there may be benefit to me seeing actual human beings in the wild, as I'm starting to resemble a bag lady, shlumping around in the same sweater for days in a row, no makeup, crazy hair, ripped coat, hat with strings hanging off everywhere. And just yesterday, while ducking through a mall, I was waylaid by a friendly European woman selling hair straightening irons. I could barely understand her, and she could barely understand me, but as she beckoned me over to ply her wares, I found myself telling her, at length, about how one cannot contemplate achieving anything good with one's hair while the weather is so bad and we're all skulking around with ugly knit caps and consequent hat hair and static. At first, she tried to keep up with me on my diatribe, asking for clarification. Finally, she just fell silent and looked at me like I was a lunatic.

But I console myself on the inevitable slide into old-age eccentricity with some new music. My pre-shoveling random shuffle doesn't seem keen to feature any of it, but still, I know it's there.

1. water ban, pernice brothers
2. iron woman, devin davis
3. nature of the experiment, tokyo police club
4. friday night, lily allen
5. things that scare me, neko case
6. ancient curse, peter, bjorn & john
7. five years, david bowie
8. all we have is now, flaming lips
9. sunny afternoon, the kinks
10. mannequin, wire

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oh, Jesus.

Joe the Plumber, intrepid reporter, heading for the Middle East:

Joe The Plumber is putting down his wrenches and picking up a reporter's notebook.

The Ohio man who became a household name during the presidential campaign says he is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for the conservative Web site

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (WUR'-zuhl-bah-kur) says he'll spend 10 days covering the fighting.

He tells WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants to let Israel's '''Average Joes' share their story.''

Let the Rejection Begin

I've officially submitted my first story! It feels like I should bust out the champagne, or maybe shop for a dartboard to affix the inevitable rejections that will start pouring in as a feature of this process.

Once my new laser printer gets here (today, if the UPS gods are smiling on me), I'll be able to send off to the old-school journals who are still insisted on receiving paper manuscripts with self-addressed stamped envelopes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Also, Have I Mentioned I'm Off Work for the Rest of the Week?

Poor me, right? My personal crazy-immersion quotient is a little high right now, I get to share an office with a phantom, but on the bright side, I'm done for the week while my pretty yellow crates are hauled away, slowly, to the new location.

Chicago Geekery

On the local public television station, there's this television show that each week collects three average Joes who gather together around a faux dining table, pretend to drink wine, and recommend their favorite local restaurants. It's rather entertaining, and friends of friends have been guests on the show.

Apparently, a certain president elect was on an episode during the first season that never aired. But they're going to show the episode on January 16. I am going to have to watch this, because I'm dying to know what restaurant he picked.

LATER: Or, I could just watch the video snippet. Jesus.

Reading Comprehension for Office Minions

Some cause and effect: if you habitually in past have been known to casually read directives or not at all and subsequently misinterpret them, other folk may then be inclined to question what you say when you assert facts. The confidence with which you assert your casually gleaned facts does not actually make them any more true.

On the other hand, moving logistics take on a surreal and nonsensical lemming-like aspect when they are directed by the above sort of people and carried out by folks who tend to want to outsource tedious decision-making and thinking about any details. For example:

Head-scratching office denizen: "You're saying we should take the toner cartridges out of all of our printers before the movers get here? Um, okay. I guess. If everybody else is doing it."

ALSO: It goes without saying that refrigerators, having sat open post-defrosting for two weeks, must be doused in bleach before they may safely be moved to a new location. This gives the added benefit of clearing the sinuses of everyone, providing headaches for some, and intensifying migraines of others. Plus, I can confirm, having toured the new space with office furniture in place, that each minion of the appropriate pay grade gets exactly as much as the next guy.

God, Winter Sucks

Here's a tidbit of advice: If you get up late and are lazy and decide to drive in to work, and you check the weather and determine that there is merely a 10 percent chance of flurries later tonight, to follow on the heels of a pleasant 35-degree day, please presume that this actually means that it will promptly begin snowing and accumulating the second you get into work.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oddities Witnessed While Out and About

First, I will say that Milk is a pretty good movie, and Sean Penn is just a chameleon. Josh Brolin no longer remotely resembles that baby-faced eighties movie kid, and for some reason, I find this disturbing.

Seen on the streets while I was walking around today:

1. A man, skipping with two small children down the main drag in town and singing, at the top of his lungs, "We're Off to See the Wizard." You really have to admire that abandonment of propriety and embrace of the ridiculous in full, crowded public.

2. A guy on a motorcycle somehow playing a bagpipe version of "Amazing Grace." I'm not saying he was actually playing the bagpipes, I'm saying that the music was somehow coming from his little setup, piped in or out, as it were.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Because There's Always an Apple v. PC Thing to Tweak People With

Ah, remember stocking up and preparing for the uncertainty of computer mayhem when the year 2000 turned? Microsoft does.

For an estimated 1 million owners of the Zune media player, New Year's Eve was the day their music died. A technical glitch related to the 2008 leap year caused some versions of Microsoft Corp.'s devices across the globe to seize Wednesday. The devices should come back to life today. But not before making many of the Zune faithful wonder why they hadn't bought an iPod instead.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hey, Guess What? It's Friday!

Your moment of Zen: The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain playing the Theme from Shaft. Yes, there's singing.