Friday’s Nothing Special When You Work From Home

It’s only 10:30 at night, but it feels like midnight. I should be working on my story for the contest at, but instead I’m watching Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason on pay-per-view.

It’s been a bad month. I’ve been moody and cranky and hormonal since the month turned, practically, and while I keep starting stories and articles, I can’t finish them. I want to write, but I keep finding things that distract me from it, because I’m afraid of going to deep into memories and feelings best left buried.

Or maybe they’re not BEST left buried, and I’m just too cowardly to write from a place that deep.

I’ve never been one to over-use the word “fuck,” but lately, it’s been cathartic. Actually, ancient Violent Femmes songs have also been cathartic. And so has cleaning. And I HATE cleaning.

I need a mentor, or something.
Imaginary muses just aren’t enough.

And it may be Friday, but when you work from home, Friday’s just another day.

Headphones, Earphones, HELP!

A couple of months ago, I bought an mp3 player. It’s a Creative Zen Micro, and I love the machine itself, especially in combination with Napster-to-Go, but I detest the earbuds-on-sticks that Creative supplied with it. Oh, they’re light, and they sound good, and they match the machine (hey, I’m a girl, the matching part is important), but they’re not very comfortable.

I spent ten dollars on blue Sony over-the-ear headphones, and while those don’t hurt my ears the way the earbuds do (and this is true of ALL earbuds, not just Creative’s), I have this issue with only ONE ever fitting correctly, so I don’t get very good sound. Apparently, I have abnormal ears, except that it’s never the SAME ear that has an issue twice in a row.

So, this is a plea. Tell me what you use to listen to YOUR portable music. Suggest an alternative to earbuds, that will still give me decent sound. PLEASE.


I made turkey burgers with teriyaki sauce and pineapple for dinner tonight, because I’m sick to death of beef, and wanted something relatively easy and relatively healthy. We had them on lovely whole wheat onion rolls, and with a crisp caesar salad, and we ate while watching Gilmore Girls, which I love and Fuzzy tolerates if I bribe him with dinner.

I love pineapple. I love the sweet tart taste, and the sunny yellow color, and the tanginess of the juice. I love the way it turns up in the oddest recipes – in some carrot cake, for example, or in chutneys.

Fuzzy loves pineapple, too, and, in fact, loves it so much that I find myself picking the pineapple out of the fruit salad I always order instead of chips on our almost weekly post-Church trip to Panera, and giving them to him.

Yeah, I love him more than pineapple.

Variations on Stolen Themes (I)

When reading the things my friends write, I’m often sent on a trip back in time, as something mentioned trips a memory, and begs to be relived and then recorded here, as a sort of variation on their themes.

Theme: Radio Shows
Variation: Chicken Heart, Cosby, and Me

Rana mentioned old radio programs, and I was suddenly seven years old, lying on the bed farthest from the window in the end bedroom in my grandparents’ house in New Jersey. The wallpaper is multicolored, green, orange, and yellow daisies. The front window is blocked by an a/c unit. The closet, a tiny thing in the corner, has a curtain instead of a door.

Instead of a nightstand there’s an old wooden desk under the a/c unit. The wood is dark brown, nearly black. The top is scarred and stained, and holds a lamp, a gun-metal gray manual typewriter, and a radio that I always thought was the transistor radio that my mother built as a science project when she was a girl, but have since learned was not. It’s old enough that it still hums when my small fingers find the dial in the dark, and turn it on.

Talk radio was my talisman, then, against nightmares. As long as the radio was on, the real world was represented, and I was safe. (Talk radio, late at night, is still my defense when my over-active imagination creeps me out.) But on the night I’m revisiting there is nothing comforting about the sounds emanating from the ancient machine.

The program is Bill Cosby’s tale of hearing the Chicken Heart story on a radio program when he was a boy. He tells part of the story, and the image of the pulsating Chicken Heart is engraved indelibly into my brain, not as part of a comedic bit, but as one of those things that retains the power to chill for reasons that are never discovered. It’s a stupid story, made surreal by the situation, I am lying in bed, in the dark, hearing the faint murmur of a dinner party in the dining room below, surrounded by the soft whir of the air conditioner, and I am getting goosebumps because I am listening to a radio show about getting goosebumps while listening to a radio show.

Hour later, my grandmother comes in to turn off the radio. “You should be sleeping,” she says. She turns the a/c power to a lower setting, pulls the soft pink comforter up around my shoulders, and I smell her L’Aire de Temps perfume, and the powder she uses after her showers, and the earthier scents of coffee and lipstick when she bends to kiss my forehead, squeeze my hand, and tell me she loves me.

Back in the here and now, I wonder if it is not the Chicken Heart story that caused my general aversion to chicken.

And if I close my eyes for a moment, I fancy that I can smell my grandmother’s perfume and powder.


I’ve felt one step behind all day today.

It began with the dogs waking up at six this morning to demand a bathroom break. I don’t know what’s happened to the cute animals who used to sleep through the night without a problem, but they’ve been replaced by pod puppies who are whiny and demanding. Unfortunately, ignoring them is not possible, as the bedroom has light-colored carpetting.

Then, we missed the 7:30 alarm, and didn’t get out of bed til I woke on my own at 7:49. Twenty minutes makes a huge difference in morning prep-time, and we were late to our first Sunday of being part of the choir at church. I hate being late. Especially on the first day of something. I had time to grab water to bring along, but Starbucks was out (time) and I woke too late to make pre-church coffee at home. (One of the women in my confirmation class and I have decided that coffee is medicinal, and therefore does not count as “eating” before Communion.)

Then there’s the fact that I’m not a true alto, so really really low notes are difficult for me. I’m more of a lyric mezzo, which is a lighter voice. I don’t have the upper range of a true soprano – I can hit high E comfortably, and high F when I’m really warmed up. I chose to be an alto this morning, because we were late and I didn’t want to push myself without a warmup, but now I’m thinking I should switch, if only to prove that the top line does NOT have to be sung shrilly. (I hate shrill oversung sopranos).

None of the music was difficult. Some was quite pretty, but we’re singing a long Gloria in Excelcis as part of the service (the entire congregation), and the hymnal page number is never listed beside it (probably because it’s done every day from Easter until the return of Ordinary Time, and most people know it), but when you haven’t grown up singing it, it’s hard to catch up. You would think that sitting two inches from the organ would help, but there’s no clear melody line in the keyboard part.

Also the woman sitting next to me kept switching between singing the Soprano and Alto parts, sometimes within the same song. Her very pretty Mediterranean Blue and Lime Green sweater did not make up for this. Not at all. She does have a nice voice though.

By the end of church it was 11:30 and I still hadn’t had coffee. We went directly to Cracker Barrel, because I was craving French Toast, and I can’t abide IHOP. Serious coffee drinkers will understand why the term “restaurant coffee” is one of the scariest I can ever hear. But the French Toast was lovely, and the bacon was delicious. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten either of those things. Worth every sip of the scary coffee.

It’s now a bit after 10, and I’m sitting in bed, with dogs sprawled beside me. We all just got back in from the back yard, where they did their doggy things, and I watched a spotted gecko climb the living room screen. Poor little thing is missing a foot.

I’ve felt a step behind all day, and so I’m going to get a jump on the morning by signing off early, and getting some sleep.

And tomorrow?
The first thing I’m going to do is have a decent cup of coffee.

Change is Good (Tattoo Envy)

People who read this page directly, and not via RSS, will note that I’ve changed templates again.

My fickle relationship with my blog templates should serve as all the explanation ever needed, as to why I’ve never gotten a tattoo. It’s not that I don’t want to – I find the notion intriguing, actually – and it’s not that I’m squeamish. It’s that someone who can’t even commit to a hair color or blog layout has no business making a permanent alteration to their body.
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Keep the Worms from Tickling the Soles of Your Feet

Tax Day came and went, not with hair pulling and interminable amounts of time spent in line at the post office, for the last drop of the night, but in the shoe department of a local clothing boutique.

I went in with the intention of merely checking out the store – it’s two doors down from EB Games – but was unable to avoid the call of clogs, the flirtations of flipflops, the seduction of sneakers. Also, the huge sign that said SALE was kind of attractive.
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My muse is apparently off dosing herself with cocktails. I wish she’d share those, since she won’t share creativity or anything. I have all these things that bubble into my head, and then, when I have time to focus on writing and not loans or taxes or half a dozen other things, the demon of the blank page comes and lures the nifty ideas to their death.

Stupid blank pages.

The taxes are done. For the first time in years we don’t owe ANYTHING to either the Feds or California, which state had been trying to suck us dry. I’m surprised I don’t feel a bit wistful about this being the last year I’m filing California taxes, but I’m too giddy about not having to fork over money.

My laptop has decided that whether or not privacy and firewalls are turned on, I’m not allowed to visit Open Diary. The desktop, of course, has no such issue, but it’s not really designed for use in bed, and I do most of my blogging while surrounded by pillows.

I’ve forgotten what I really wanted to write about.

Is 10 AM too early for cocktails? I think I need one.

Death and Taxes

The morning sky was stormy and grey but the sun had broken through by noon, although it never did get warm. Someone left a yellow bag tied to the front door – a collection bag for the ARC or some such – and I kept forgetting it was there until it blew into the frame of the front windows and Cleo barked at it. Die yellow bag, she says.

I spent the morning battling for the funding of a loan. It is now funded and not, all at once. Specifically, the funder likes me, so funded it on paper to save the lock, but the wire won’t go out til morning. Is it possible to both love what you do and hate what you do, at once? I’m GOOD at my job, but it’s no longer rewarding.

In church on Sunday there was a dour grey-haired old lady in a shiny pink polyester dress – she looked so much like Bubbie with her wispy grey hair and her dusky olive skin, and apparent fragility. I wonder if she, too, had a core of steel.

I’m in tax hell, having waited this long to do a P&L on my income and expenses. The good news is that the outlay for new printers is giving me a loss on paper, which will offset stray 1099’d income from other sources. I COULD amortize the equipment, and allow for depreciation, but I don’t need to, as there won’t be any misc income next year, since I’m not originating, merely processing.

There’s just no way to make tax talk remotely interesting.

Or death either.

Altered State

I am loopy, not drunk, not high, but my brain chemistry is all out of whack, and the world feels like it’s alternating between spinning too fast and spinning far too slowly. Images blur, becoming the indistinguishable Dali-esque crowd of parents watched by their children on the carousel, as they check between giggles to be certain Mommy is still there.

My sleep patterns are skewed crazily, and I found myself awake at 6 AM, then all abuzz from high notes and weird meter in songs at church, then caffeinated, antihistamined, wired and tired all at once, and now, after a failed nap, intense afternoon lovemaking, and a nap that succeeded, I have merged with the sky.

When I woke at 10 PM to the ringing of the phone, the air felt taut like the skin of a drum in the split-second before the mallett makes contact, and the boom resounds. In the two hours that passed between then and my ultimate succumbing to cravings for protein (peanut butter toast and cold milk), there were murmurs of thunder, non-committal lightning, and rain that came and went with such stealth that only wet dog footprints on the kitchen floor and a mating pair of geckoes on the deck were any evidence at all.

Sometimes I feel as if the eyes I’m looking through are not my own, but not anyone else’s either. Watching David Duchovny on Inside the Actor’s Studio, I have a name for the feeling, a definition, rather, it’s the feeling of looking through a mask.

If you rip the mask away, do you find another mask, or do you see only muscle and bone?

Have you ever had a moment of personal Epiphany, when your mind and heart and soul are in perfect accord, and you click with the universe and all creation, and experience a moment, a flash, a microsecond of total enlightenment and just when you realize that you Get It and It Is Simple, you breathe or move or blink, and the moment is gone, and you are bereft, left with the memory of the clickage that had occurred, and a gaping hole where the elegant solution once resided?

I have.