About LJ. . .(My responses)

1. How did you find LiveJournal?
– The person who introduced me to OpenDiary was the same person who brought me here, during one of OpenDiary's then-frequent outages. Said person was Moonness (edited to include this information, because someone was complaining that I didn't.)

2. Did you start a journal as soon as you found the site, or did a period of time elapse between your arrival and starting your own?
– I started a journal immediately, but only posted one entry. Then OD was working again, so I returned to my original journalling “home.” I came back here after reading an essay on 's web page, and following links to her LJ, and to 's. I stayed because the two communities are vastly different.

3. What made you start your journal? Did you have a purpose?
– One of my fantasies is to write a column, so I tend to use my online journals more for writing practice than anything else. More often, lately, I've rambled about day-to-day stuff, but I always feel boring and silly when I do.

4. Why do you continue writing? Have your reasons for keeping a journal changed?
– Still writing practice, and also for the discipline. I tend to write more essayishly than bloggishly so I have a personal goal of at least three entries a week.

5. How long did it take for you to figure out how to link to another journalist?
– showed me how. He taught me about cut tags, too, but I hate them. I'm sorry. I just do. I actually do try to remember to use them when I think something is long. Really. I do.

6. Have you always had one journal, have you deleted one and started another, or do you keep multiple journals?
– I have one main LJ and another that is solely for my LASIK foo, because I wanted all of that in one place, and wanted to avoid squicking people, including my husband, who wouldn't even watch the video with me.

7. Whether you still have your first, original journal, or if you've gone through multiple journals, who are the livejournal friends you've known longest?
– Moonness, who once went by some other name, but no longer posts here, and who never writes often enough are the two who go back the furthest, because I knew them from OD before coming here.

8. Out of all the entries you've written, which one is your favorite? And what entry have you written that sticks out in your memory the most?
– I don't have a favorite. The ones I'm most proud of are the same entries that get no comments, though, interestingly, entries that get no responses here get fabulous responses at OD, and vice versa. I'm rather fond of my scent entry, though.

9. Assuming you have notes enabled on your entries, why do you like notes?
– Feedback, feedback, feedback! Writing is such a solitary thing, that getting comments without having to sit in a room and read stuff out loud is just wonderful. Also, I don't care if you agree with me or not, but what you think often causes me to think about something in a different way. And sometimes, I like just knowing someone else is reading my words, however perfunctorily.

10. Other journalling sites have different conventions, including reader's choice nominations, weekly theme suggestions, and editor's choice suggestions. Are there any such things you'd like to see implemented here?
– I'm a fan of theme suggestions, even if I don't write directly to themes that are suggested. I think one of the reasons I'm such a survey slut is that questions spark ideas. The one thing I wish LJ had is the OD option of making your favorites (friends) list private.


Moonness at Open Diary wrote a survey about OD, which I've blatantly stolen, and tweaked so as to be more appropriate for LJ.

1. How did you find LiveJournal?

2. Did you start a journal as soon as you found the site, or did a period of time elapse between your arrival and starting your own?

3. What made you start your journal? Did you have a purpose?

4. Why do you continue writing? Have your reasons for keeping a journal changed?

5. How long did it take for you to figure out how to link to another journalist?

6. Have you always had one journal, have you deleted one and started another, or do you keep multiple journals?

7. Whether you still have your first, original journal, or if you've gone through multiple journals, who are the livejournal friends you've known longest?

8. Out of all the entries you've written, which one is your favorite? And what entry have you written that sticks out in your memory the most?

9. Assuming you have notes enabled on your entries, why do you like notes?

10. Other journalling sites have different conventions, including reader's choice nominations, weekly theme suggestions, and editor's choice suggestions. Are there any such things you'd like to see implemented here?

I hate my name. (But I finally succumbed to this exercise)

Melissa is back…
Melissa is also in demand for weddings, receptions and private parties.
Melissa is the FEATURED ARTIST for September's HOT BANDS ISSUE
Melissa is here, cheer no more
Melissa is a Microsoft Word macro virus that infects your PC as soon as you open its e-mail attachment.
Melissa is a member of the elite Master Sales Society.
Melissa is an inspiration to us and to everyone that knows her.
Melissa is a bit like a lake.
Melissa is a country-living Texas community with a population of approximately 1,500, located on Highway 5, 50 miles north of downtown Dallas.
Melissa is almost entirely uninteresting.

A Brief Act of Kindness

Saturday morning, before we began our trek to SoCal, Fuzzy and I were sitting in our favorite bagel shop, chatting about inconsequentials, and just enjoying the day, when the Woman in Black came in.

While she wasn't really a Woman in Black, in the sense of the political group, she was a woman, and she was black-clad from her ratty hooded sweatshirt, to the cotton dress, full of holes and split to mid thigh (more on one side than the other because the seam had ripped).

When she walked, it was impossible not to see that she was wearing red, white, and blue plaid knee-high socks under the dress. I don't remember what her shoes were. Some kind of sneaker, I think. She was muttering to herself, which is really what gave her away as being homeless. As did her first action: She picked up a napkin dispenser, carried around, then sat in a corner, pulled all the napkins out, and stuffed them in her purse.

I was midway through my bagel, and the cream cheese just didn't taste right to me that morning. I'd been complaining to Fuzzy of that since we'd begun to eat. So I told him, “You can finish that, if you want,” and wandered out of the bagel place and into Starbucks for road-fuel in the form of a caramel frappucino.

A few minutes later, mission accomplished, I returned, in time to see Fuzzy handing off my bagel to the Woman in Black. And I thought, “Wow, what a cool thing to do.”

He reports that when he offered it to her, the initial response was “What is it.” A bagel, he answered, with cream cheese.

“Oh,” she replied. “I like cream cheese.”

* * *

It's her last comment that made the encounter stick in my mind. Before I met Fuzzy, my mother and I had a winter ritual of helping to cook holiday meals at a local homeless shelter, and one of the things we always boggled at was the way people who are literally scrounging for their next meal would turn away parts of the dinner, “Oh,” they'd sniff. “I hate green beans.”

I suppose it's about control. Sometimes turning down green beans can be the most empowering thing you do all week.


While we were in the hotel, I started reading the book Bread Alone, a novel about a woman of roughly my age who is essentially a trophy wife. When her husband informs her that he needs space, she flees to her best friend in Seattle, and starts baking bread, something she hasn't really done since a foreign exchange trip in college, where she apprenticed in a boulangerie in France.

Interspersed throughout the book are recipies for everything from peasant bread to Tassajara's banana yeast bread to pumpkin muffins (a personal favorite). This book, like A Year in Provence made me want to taste everything. Alas, when I began to read, even room service had shut down for the night.

I finished the book last night, and dreamed about making bread with my grandfather. Bread baking was one of the hobbies he acquired in the seventies, so I'm really the only grandchild who got to participate. My cousins say I was his favorite, but I think it was more that I was there.

In any case, I remember the smell of the cornmeal in the bread pans, and I remember him teaching me about sourdough starters, and how they worked, and I remember that he had this metal bowl with a crank for stirring dough (it never occurred to him to use my grandmother's stand mixer, or maybe the mixer was dead by then.)

The last time a book really put me in the baking urge was eons ago when I read The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith (great mystery novelest, btw), and this book has also sparked the urge. All day today at work, I wanted to rush to Barnes and Noble and pick up The Tassajara Bread Book and perhaps some other books on bread. That didn't happen, because I didn't leave work til eight, and by then I was grumpy and tired, and Fuzzy and I were too hungry to do anything but eat and veg in front of Inside the Actor's Studio.

Before I came upstairs, though, I tossed 1/4 cup of white flour, and 1/4 cup of wheat flour, and an equal measure of water, into a ceramic bowl, and stirred it into a paste, covered it with a wet towel, and left it on the back of the stove. Tomorrow when I come home, it'll be time for the first refreshment, and by the weekend, I should have decent starter. It actually works better (faster) if you toss in a little rye flour, but I didn't have any. Oh, well.

I can't wait to knead the first dough, to shape the loaves, to smell that fresh bread smell wafting through my house. True, I have a bread machines, and that's great for basic stuff, but it's not the same as shaping it myself.

Not just yeast, but little bits of nostalgia and imagination.
And since the bread machine has a jam cycle, maybe I'll make marmalade in it, so it won't feel ignored.

Empress Shops Too Much

The title of this entry is based on my Ya-Ya name. Want your own? Go to the website for Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and click to enter the flash site. Click on the word Ya-Ya, then mouse over the word Ya-Ya and select the Name Generator (thanks to Moonness @ OD for the site and the fun).

Well, we all know I'm a shopaholic, but mostly it's just tech-toys and books. Ah, books. I didn't think I'd have time to read this weekend, as we were driving down to LA to visit with Fuzzy's brother and his family. They were doing the Disneyland thing, after a week in Phoenix, and extended their time in SoCal so we could meet them for brunch and hang out for a while. We made good time getting there, mostly because we did 90mph down I5. Still, it's a gruelling drive, and I'm one of those people who can't read in a moving vehicle. Which meant I got to play DJ. Oh, joy.

We stayed at the Doubletree in Orange. I have no idea why I picked them – it might have been the promise of warm chocolate chip cookies at check in (which, yes, they really do provide). As a hotel, it wasn't bad, except that the espresso bar is /only/ open in the morning, and the bed was horrible. A cement slab with a sheet over it would have been softer. Really.

And Sunday we had lunch with B. & L. and L's sister P. and the kids, the oldest of whom, at 13, is now as tall as Fuzzy. We did the requisite spoiling of said children, treating 13 to a cd, and 10 to the Harry Potter DVD, and 7 to $15 worth of earrings at Claire's. $15 of cheap earrings gives you about a thousand pairs, all of which had to be dangly enough for 7 to wear, non-dangly enough for L to let her wear, and with catches that both L and 7 could work with minimal effort.

We chose not to rush home, and took 101, where we couldn't do 90 for long stretches, and instead were stuck at a mere 80mph. Poor us. But we had fun, even saw a whale breech and then do a classic tail-slap in the waters of Santa Barbara.

There are details…like the story of the homeless woman in the bagelry before we left, and the lake Fuzzy's now in love with, and the fact that our pet-sitter freaked out because we forgot to tell her about one of Cleo's tricks, but those will all be separate entries.

It Followed Me Home…

No, really, it did.
It just jumped off the shelf and into my hand, before I could do anything about it. “You want me,” it whispered. “You have to have me. I'm worth it.”
Fuzzy was no help either. “You've been wanting one for years,” he pointed out. Then he told the salesperson, “She comes in and drools over them.”
“I'd buy it,” the salesguy said, holding out the box, “and I happen to have one right here.”

The 'it' in question is a new camera. When I finally left work at 8:30 we made a mad dash to Fry's, because we'd decided earlier to drive to L.A. after all, and I wanted a new digital camera. I mean, I have a FujuFilm digital that is…adequate…but Cleo ate the proprietary USB cord, and now whenever I take pictures I have to remember to set up the cardreader on whatever computer, and transfer them that way. Ick! Also, we're going to France for Christmas, and I wanted to NOT have to lug around extra cables. And then there's the fact that our laptops and my desktop are all Sony products, which use memory sticks as a recording medium, as does this camera, and I'm just enamoured with the novelty of storing data on a stick of gum.

And hey. Purple. Let's not forget that. If Sony products were mint green, I'm sure I wouldn't be quite so attracted to them.

So…new camera. Road trip. Stack of eclectic cd's with which to annoy Fuzzy.
Mmm. Could be fun.

Writing in My Sleep

I haven't posted anything in several days, not because I've got nothing to say, but because every time I think I have a spare moment to try and string words together with some semblance of coherence, something or someone demands my attention. So here it is, nearly 2:30 in the morning, and I took my 1/4 of an actifed half an hour ago, and it just hit me.

CL, our most prolific originator of loans, left for Spain on Saturday. I spent all day Friday going over his files with him, to the point where I'm still a day behind. I thought about going into the office over the weekend, and then decided there was nothing so pressing that waiting would kill it. I like my job, but no one can pay me enough to make giving up my weekends worth while, especially when we're going to be away for the next two.

B, our office manager, is also away this week, though his absence is less strongly felt. However, the fact that CL, who acts as head loan officer, and B, who signs the paychecks, are both out means that E. and VirtualP (so named because he manages to originate and close loans without ever spending more than an hour in the office) are even more lax about showing up on time than they are normally. This means that I'm covering CL's files, my own files, my normal duties, and mopping up after E, while stopping to take new calls that normally would go to VirtualP. and E. And while if CL were around I'd be happy about more of my own files (because more files=more commission=new house that much faster), this week I don't really have the time or inclination to schmooze clients.

So, Fuzzy's brother and his family will be in LA this weekend. We thought about flying down to LA on Southwest Early on Sunday morning, spending time with them, and then flying back, and then balked because it'd cost about $400 because we didn't know their plans soon enough. We're entertaining the idea of driving, but if we drive, it means an overnight trip, paying for someone to take care of the dogs, paying for a hotel, and losing a much-needed idle Saturday. So I think Flying might be the better plan. After all, Southwest is essentially a bus with wings, and it's only an hour from SJC to LAX. Barely enough time for juice and peanuts.

We'll be in Minneapolis over the 4th of July weekend. Minnesota in summer is not on my list of vacation spots, but Fuzzy's best friend from college is getting married, and it would mean a lot to him for us to be there. So we're going. The irony is that we declined to attend Fuzzy's parents anniversary thing in Indiana the same weekend, months ago, because we thought we'd be busy. Well, we thought we'd be busy with work, but since we visited them last year, and they've announced they're coming for Thanksgiving (plan: be in new bigger house by Thanksgiving), they can cope.

I have a thousand and one things simmering in my brain, and yet all I've written about are stupid weekend plans. I went to bed last night with a specific phrase in my head, and now it's gone. I hate that. People say, “Keep paper and a pen near the bed,” and I do, really, because my bedside table is home to part of my vast collection of foofy stationery, but actually moving the dogs so I can reach the light, which would wake Fuzzy, and blind me just isn't worth the efford. I think I need a voice activated tape player.

Well, it's been four days since I purchased any new techo-toys. So…maybe.

Thoughts before Sleep

I was up with the sun this morning. Well, not quite with the sun, but definitely before the sun had warmed any part of my house. In the chill of a Saturday morning at eight, even the dogs refused to chase sunbeams, choosing instead to snuggle deeper into the covers on the bed, and look at me hopefully as I moved about the room, as if to beg, “You're coming back to bed, aren't you?”

But I was a woman with a mission. I called my mother in Baja Sur, and made her look in the La Paz phone book for the DHL station where we send packages. It took her fifteen minutes but she found it, complaining that I should have the address memorized. My memory is good, but I only use this address about three times a year.

We chatted for a while. She wants to move back to the States. I want a bigger house. She may come work for my company, reversing our old position of me working for her (is this irony? I think it is). So we chatted, and if Fuzzy and I can find a house we like, they'll rent or buy this from us, and everyone will be happy.

Of course, after we were done talking, at nine my time, and I'd finished my mug of mint tea, I yawned, and stretched, and wandered back upstairs to figure out what to wear, and coax Fuzzy out of bed. Well, that was the plan. Instead he (with the help of the dogs) coaxed me back into bed, and we all slept till noon, when hunger finally drove us from our purple cotton sanctuary.

The rest of the day was spent idly. We went to lunch. We went to Fry's. We spent money. I am now the proud owner of a new scanner that not only scans normal stuff, but also transparencies, negatives, and slides. I'm very excited about that last part, because I have, in my possession, 50 years of slides that my grandfather took, and that none of us have seen since approximately 1976 when the last slide projector in the family finally burned itself out.

(I also have cans of 8mm home movies, that I really need to find a way to transfer onto video. Any thoughts?)

On the way out to lunch, I'd noticed that my parents house was up for sale again (they only sold it two years ago), listed for $794,950. In a fit of misplaced nostalgia, I entertained the thought of buying it, but, alas, it's out of my budget. Still, it's a neat house, built in 1908, and they were only the third owners. But that spurred us to drive figure-eights through the Rose Garden area, and collect “feature sheets,” those flyers in transparent boxes attached to properties up for sale. There are a couple of possibilities, and tomorrow we'll be wandering through Willow Glen doing much the same thing.

And we'll be out of bed before noon, too.

On Productivity and Completion

I woke this morning just as dawn was breaking. For once it was neither the alarm clock from hell nor my dogs that woke me, but nature's music. I stayed in bed, awake, just listening to the birds singing in the dawn and the summer breeze susurrating through the trees, as the sky got pinker and pinker.

Eventually, my mind started to wander, and I began to think about when I'm most productive.

I am not usually a morning person. This is why I'm tickled to death that no one really cares when I come into work in the morning, although I try to keep regular hours (though, regular for me is 10 to 6) so that people know when I'm available. I try to do as I was taught and get rid of quick tasks first – posting rates, making status calls – but no matter how much I do all day, I find that I do the most and best work in the hours between three and six. I'm just weird that way.

More generally, though, I am most productive when my world is complete. I had all these lofty plans of rearranging furniture in my house, etc, this weekend, and then I ended up moving into nesting mode instead. Well, part of that was allergies, and a bacterial infection it took me forever to shake, but part of it was just that Fuzzy was away. And it's odd, because I'm perfectly capable of making decisions and dragging shelves across the room, and yet, when he's not around, even when we're not interacting, everything I do feels 'off'.

It's not really codependence, but inter-dependence, I think. And maybe it's normal after seven years of marriage.

One of the journalists I read said that when she's away from her husband on business she feels like a kite without someone holding the string, and that when she comes home it's like the string is being reeled back in. And while I don't feel that extreme, ever, I really understand the feelings she's describing.

It's nearly 11:30. I've posted rates, talked to three clients, and printed two appraisals. I've also nursed half of my morning macchiato, and chatted with CL and E a bit. I feel a little unfocussed, but that's because my mental rambling in the pink light of dawn caused me to drift back to sleep, and my head is still buzzing a bit from the antihistamine.