Monday, June 30, 2003

My future Money Pit
Remember that great '80s movie, Money Pit? I love this movie. It's highly entertaining. Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, and a hilarious house-buying nightmare. They find this great old house, owned by this sweet old lady whose husband recently died. She sells it to them for next to nothing, as the widowed mourner, just sad and sentimental enough to play on their sympathies. The house looks perfect. It's beautiful. It seems like their dream home. . . until they move in. Then all hell breaks loose and the house falls apart, room by room, floor by floor, ceiling by ceiling, including an exploding kitchen. The sweet little old lady is long gone, and has duped these first time homebuyers into dealing with her mansion-esque shack.

Well, I may not have found a mansion, but I have finally found a great house to buy. It's old, with character. And, it is owned by a sweet little old lady. Whose husband died recently. She's eager to move out of this house they shared, so she's offering it at a great price, including some of the great old furniture she doesn't want to take with her. Plus the refrigerator. The entire house is completely recently updated. Great neighborhood. She seems comfortable with my offer and ready to bestow the house upon me. By all appearances, this seems like the perfect home and perfect situation for me.

So I'm waiting for the Money Pit moment to kick in about five minutes after closing on the house, as the old lady drives away with my money in hand, watching me wave goodbye in her rearview mirror, standing in front of the house collapsing behind me. That would be just my luck.

But at least it would be entertaining. Especially if the kitchen explodes.


Friday, June 27, 2003

SPAMers are people, too.
Apparently, sometimes there are actual people on the other end of those annoying SPAM emails. Yesterday I received another SPAM email. Once again I felt compelled to respond to it. This morning, the SPAMer emailed me back! I have done this many times. This is the first actual response I've received throughout my SPAM Annoyance Reponse Plan, or SPAMARP. It was good for a laugh to start my day!

Following is the original email, which was strangely exactly like several others I'd received this week. Following that is my response. And following that is the SPAMers response to my response.

SPAM: (exactly as I received it, spelling, grammar, et all)

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 18:52:37 +0200
From: "davis_kamara"


Dear Director,












Thanks and God Bless



My response: (hee hee heee . . . )

Dear Davis-
I must ask, why do people live in Abidjan? You are the third request I've gotten in the past week to help with such money issues, from desperate people in Abidjan. Why do people continue to live in a country where their millions of dollars are caught up in these random inaccessible accounts? And how come you all are so rich, but unable to spend your own money? Can't you guys just stuff your cash in your mattress or something? Learn from each other. Letting other people handle your money = bad. Shoot, if I had 18 million bucks to my name, you can bet I wouldn't let Joe Smarmy Bank Man hold it for me so that I couldn't get to it.

While this sounds like a seriously sad and desperate situation you've got yourself in, and while I will gladly accept 15% of this mysterious money, I'm afraid the only thing I can do for you is pray. Being inexperienced in the world of business has obviously landed you in some trouble. How will you learn from your mistakes if I just go and give you my account number and bail you out? No, Davis. This you must resolve on your own.

I can, however, offer you a place to stay once you reach 'abroad', for you and your family. I work for a homeless shelter, and should you arrive here without a home, you are welcome to grab a cot here anytime. For free. You can keep all of your vast wealth to yourself and we will still be happy to house you.

Davis, thank you for writing from your heart. But I encourage you to be smarter in business than you've shown here. And also be wary of anyone sending you their account number to get the ball rolling here. It could be a fake, monitored by the FBI, CIA, NSA, NRA, PTA, or the Girl Scouts, landing you in a heap of trouble for soliciting blindly over email. I truly believe your heart is in the right place. I can hear it in the tone of your very sincere, albeit hard to read, email. Be wary, my friend. And take good care of your old woman mother.


PS: I noticed you didn't mention a wife? Are you young, hot, sexy, and single? If so, we can maybe reconsider this whole deal, Love Muffin. Can I call you that???

I figured that would do the trick. But maybe it was the Love Muffin thing, because he came back with another email, poor silly fool: (strangely, his spelling and grammar got a bit better)

Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 11:27:04 +0200
From: "davis_kamara"






AWAITING YOUR CALL ON - 0022507907843




So weird. I hope he is not waiting by the phone.


Thursday, June 26, 2003

Mini Model Mention
I can think of very few things more annoying than my blogging about America's Next Top Model.

So I will simply and silently point you to this link for now. And leave you to mull over this exciting announcement on your own.

Seriously, if you are not watching this show, I will runway walk right over to you, pull your hair extensions right out, adjust your make-up, then tell on you to Tyra.


Cake Party, ad nauseum
I swear my office is Elaine's office, from Seinfeld. Cake party for everything. No matter what it is, it deserves a cake party. Birthday? Cake party! Last day working here? Cake party! Made it in to work safely today? Cake party! Two days without a cake party? Cake party! Physically ill from too many cake parties? Cake party!! Get well, get well soon, we want you to get better . . . .

I try to be too busy to attend the cake parties, but I usually feel obligated to attend for birthdays and going aways and whatnot. I don't want to be too blatantly anti-social. I get most annoyed when I'm in the middle of something and I receive notice of the cake-tivities without much notice. Like, someone stopping by my office to let me know we have a cake party today at 2:00, and as I look at my watch I notice it is, in fact, already 2:00. Really, if we are expected to festively have cake together so often for so many occassions, a little notice prior to being force fed cake would be much appreciated. I need to schedule these cake breaks into my week, so that I can actually get work done around them.

Not only is it cake, but it's ice cream, too. Literally as much sugar as possible in one sitting. And these parties are always right after lunch, when I'm not hungry, having just been stuffed full of lunch. I just can't handle that much sugar right after lunch. Or within a week, for that matter. It's sugar overload.

At the last cake party, I decided I had to draw the line. I would attend, but not have cake. Why does eating the cake make me any more participatory than just being there with others while they eat cake? I thought this was a valid, even gracious, compromise. It didn't go over very well. People seemed surprised and quite confused that one wouldn't want mounds of cake and ice cream right after lunch.

Just when I thought I was finally getting everyone here past the "make sure the skinny girl eats plenty of food" obsession that ran amok here for the first year or so that I worked here, today's cake party was the revival of this phenomenon. It is apparently not acceptable for me to not want cake. I kid you not, FOUR people each made a plate of food for me and tried to push it on me, one after the other. I turned down every one. Left and right, I spurned the cake and ice cream. Seriously, the looks I got, you'd think I'd just kicked a puppy and then did a happy little jig about it right in front of everyone. How could I??? Not want cake?? It's a cake party!! YOU MUST HAVE CAKE!!!

No I mustn't. Simple as that.


Sloppy Joe: What it is?
The Sloppy Joe. Man's answer to a heap of unidentified ground meat. Add some 'sauce', mix the mess. Sloppy Joe is what it is.

And who was this Joe of Slop? Did he invent the Joe, or merely loan his name to the mound of meat? Was he sloppy himself, or neat as could be? His 'sloppy' nickname intended to be funny?

Sloppy Joe, it is what it is.


Break Time
It's time to take a moment to giggle about the latest keyword searches leading innocent folks here to my blog:

'hair pierced makeover'
I'm not sure exactly what that is, but it sounds painful.

'Boston Terriers + ears + cleaning'
As odd as this sounds, I can totally relate. Bostons have ear issues, and the cleaning ain't fun.

'clay aiken watch feet backwards'
Also, not exactly sure what's going on here, but again, sounds painful.

'west interbanking trust and securities'
I am the top choice when searching for this on MSN Search. No doubt due to this. People, it's a scam. If you learn nothing from me, learn to recognize a SPAM scam.

Thanks for playing!


Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Last Night on Models, Inc: The Reality . . .
On last night's episode of America's Next Top Model, we find our five remaining models in Paris, forced to live in a tiny room with only three beds and one bathroom. The first challenge? Finding enough room for all five girls, all five suitcases, places to sleep, and Robin's annoying holier-than-thou, hair-drying-in-the-middle-of-the-night personality. The second and eliminating challenge was reading a map and getting to several locations for interviews in Paris, each girl individually, within a period of time.

No, seriously. That was it.

How many of the Model-ees completed the eliminating task? I think, like, two?

One was distracted by the bright shiney objects in a store, and had to stop for an emergency shopping purchase. One was felt up by a stranger and unfamiliar with the Metro despite the instructions and guidebook in her hand, and therefore unable to do anything but cry on a street corner. One paid a total stranger to guide her around the city, managing to not get mugged and killed, but still annoying everyone in the process. The others managed to get to the four locations and back to homebase successfully, with no tears and minimal confusion.

The one who hates the model stereotype and is completely annoyed at the whole competition was the best in the challenge and on film, yet again. The one who was distracted by the shiney objects was sent home. They lured her out of the room with a ball-ed up piece of tin foil.

High laughter, high drama, odd clothes. This is the best show on television.


Aaaahhhhhhh, vacation
I love vacation. Even short trips, or just a few days off from work. I love going places, seeing things, escaping my world for awhile. The only downside is coming back to reality. Blech.

I enjoy big trips to big places to do big, exciting things. Adventure is always fun. But I also enjoy the quieter trips to visit friends, just to spend time together.

I traversed out to cloudy California for a few days to visit some friends, including their newest addition, a bouncing baby boy. Well, he doesn't bounce so much as he just lays on the floor drooling and flailing about. But he is quite fun, all the same. The sunshine was minimal, but the company was grand. Activity revolved mostly around eating and staring at the kiddo. It was quite relaxing and enjoyable for me.

I've found that I appreciate and enjoy when people allow me into their lives, even more than getting together to do 'stuff'. I just think it's the coolest thing when friends are so open as to let me do with them the things that they do. There is something to be said about getting past the formality of meeting 'someplace' to do 'something', and simply just spending time together in the day to day. I value friends letting me get to know them in their world, knowing they enjoy having me there. Finding those friends who are also fans of who you are, and who truly want to be apart of your life and also let you into theirs, including the baby poo, morning bedhead, crazy family BBQs, and sitting around in pjs until noon, is something fabulous.

It's not necessarily glamorous or adventurous. But far from boring or undesireable. I'd trade the adventure of meeting 'someplace' to do 'something', for baby gurgle, liquified peas on the wall, and good friends to share it with any day.


Friday, June 20, 2003

The Amazing Moley Lichen Race
After last night's episode of The Amazing Race, it is clear to me that none of the teams this season are good at this game. The only reason all of the teams are not in last place is because, 1) it's physically impossible, and B) the teams not in last place are only not in last place because they happen to accidentally make less mistakes than the unfortunate team who made the most mistakes and got the boot. No one used skill or planning or cooperation or amazing feats of strength to accomplish anything.

To sum up the episode, everyone was lost, everyone followed someone else who was lost, everyone tried to be sneaky and fool other teams into thinking they weren't lost, everyone hoped other teams would get more lost, everyone argued with their teammate, everyone yelled at the other teams again and then some more, and everyone eventually happened to stumble onto the pit stop to call it a night. Everyone, that is, except Overbearing Father and I'm a Jerk of a Son, who got to go home.

I also learned that Reichen and Chip are big gigantic babies. With big gigantic tempers. And everytime I hear 'Reichen', I think 'lichen', which is some sort of fungus algae lifeform. Therefore, I attribute those qualities to Reichen, who has yet to prove he is above these qualities. Plus, watching actual lichen do this race would be more entertaining and peaceful than all of these angry, overdramatic teams.

Millie has a giant moley mole. Right on her lip. I didn't notice it until the camera zoomed in on it last night. But it's huge. And Chuck is afraid of sitting in a race car cockpit with another person. Claustrophic in an open-air, fast moving vehicle. I was a bit confused on that one. I'm thinking these two needed to pick a different race. One where they won't die of asthma attacks and paralyzing fears of enclosed spaces. Every leg of the race opens up a new weird issue for them.

I must say I'm disappointed with this season. Too much complaining. I don't even like any of the teams enough to care who wins. I think the only thing that will help me enjoy the remaining episodes is if the Clowns do the rest of the race dressed as clowns.


The Traffic Copter is Stalking Me
I may be a bit paranoid, but I'm pretty sure the traffic helicopter was following me in to work today. Everywhere I was, there it was.

The pilot could have been trying to ask me out. That's the only thing I can think of.


Thursday, June 19, 2003

When music and the written word come together in a weird way.
Sometimes I remember things way after they happen.

During my last drive home from Oklahoma a few weeks ago, I was seriously rockin' out to my Madonna's Greatest Hits cd. Come on. You know this is great road trip music. The first Greatest Hits better than the second one.

I don't remember where I was between Oklahoma and Texas, but just as 'Vogue' started playing, and as Madonna spoke that first line, "What are you lookin' at?" before the music starts, I looked out the window just as I passed a giant yellow billboard containing giant black letters spelling out, "What are you lookin' at?"

Obviously I was "lookin' at" the giant yellow sign and listening to Madonna ask me what I was "lookin' at." How weird is that?


Toothpaste is Art
So, I'm brushing my teeth this morning, as I do every morning, except for those mornings when I accidentally forget until I get in to work and realize that my teeth are fuzzy, and I noticed my tube of toothpaste proudly exclaims, "New Look!". Then I wondered, why a new look?

I'm a Crest user. Not for any particular reason except that I don't hate the way it tastes, and I assume it is getting my teeth clean. That's not to give it free promotion or tell you that Crest is the paste for you. It's just the paste I use. If you use it and your teeth turn blue and rot out of your head, don't blame me. I'm not telling you to use Crest. Use it on your own.

Anyway, I'm puzzled by product redesigns, especially in regards to things like toothpaste. Does the way the tube looks really affect the toothpaste buying public? Does it affect my teeth brushing experience everyday? If you put mud in a great looking tube, called it toothpaste, and put it on the toothpaste aisle, would people buy it and like it just because of the great looking tube? Are there people out there saying, "I have always hated Crest. I used it once and my teeth turned blue and rotted out of my head. But, since it has a great new look, I will now invest in Crest." Is there a secret war going on between toothpaste brands, to create the best looking tube, as though the tube is more important than the actual paste? Do we use our tube of paste everyday, pausing for a moment to admire how good it looks? Do we leave it out on display because the 'new look' really impresses us so much, as to turn it into art?

Maybe so. But that's weird. It's just toothpaste.


Wednesday, June 18, 2003

SPAM-ed again
It's been awhile since I've gotten one of these, but here is my latest SPAM encounter. Below is the email. Following is my response. You really should try this. I get much less SPAM from the same people when I repond to them like this.

The SPAM scam (as it was sent to me, spelling and all):

Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 19:15:33 +0200
Subject: Good_Day_(Confidential)
From: "amos200_u"

Dear friend,

With due respect and huminity, I write to you this proposal. I am a staff of WEST INTERBANKING TRUST AND SECURITIES, Abidjan . I am writing following the impressive regards to you about this businees opportunity. In my department, we discovered an abandoned sum of U.S$18.2.M US dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along with his entire family in september 2000 in a plane crash. Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come forward and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines and policies but unfortunately we learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation died along side with him at t he plane crash leaving nobody behind for the claims.

It is therefore upon t his discovery that I decided to make this business proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased. since nobody is coming forth to claim the money and we don't want this money to go into the Bank treasury as unclaimed Money. The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and an ivoirian cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner. We agree that 25% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner.In respect to the provision of a foreign account, 10% will be map out for any expenses incured during the curse of the transaction and 65 % would be for me and my colleagues.

There after I will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentages indicated. Therefore to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you as arranged, you mus t apply first to the bank as relation or next of kin of the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number, your private telephone and fax number for easier and effective communication and location where the money will be remitted .

Upon receipt of your reply, I will send to you by fax or email the text of the application. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch free and that you should not entertain any atom of fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer .You should contact me as soon as you receive this letter. Hoping to hear from you.

Your's faithfully,


My response (hee hee):

Mr. Unisa!!
I cannot tell you how glad I am to hear from you!! Since September 2000, I have been searching the world for my long lost beloved Great Uncle who disappeared with the rest of my family while traveling the world by plane. I suspected as much, that they met their end tragically in a crash. But until just now, I could not be sure. While I am saddened at their loss, I have long since made my peace with it, since my Great Uncle hasn't returned my phone calls for over two years, and I've been forced to continue on during that time hearing nothing at all from my family. While I hoped they were okay, I must admit I have been a bit ticked off that they seemed to have abandoned me. But now I know the truth! May they rest in peace.

So it seems, thankfully, that I am the sole heir of my Great Uncle's fortune. I assure you I am the last of his kin. I truly believe he would have wanted it this way, for me to receive every penny of his money. I was his favorite, after all. As you can well imagine, I have been unable to come forward to claim this money because I did not know of my Uncle's death, or the whereabouts of his great fortune. Now that you have contacted me, we can move forward with disbursing the funds to me. Right away.

I have booked a flight on Abidjan Air, leaving immediately this afternoon. I will arrive at your office sometime tomorrow afternoon, to collect my money. Of course, pending I do not also meet the same end as my Great Uncle!! My apologies. That was an insensitive joke. But Uncle was always one to laugh and find humor in life. Hopefully, also in death.

I prefer to receive my inheritance in suitcases of small, unmarked bills. Preferably nothing larger than a $20 bill, U.S. currency. 24 hours should be plenty of time for you to get this together. I know you have anxiously been awaiting this day, as have I. There is no need to transfer the money to my bank account. I am happy to stop by and pick it up.

Amos, I look forward to meeting you tomorrow. Do you mind if I stay with you while I'm in town? I'm afraid I don't know the area very well. I'll just be in for one night. Then off to spend my fortune!

Great Uncle's Kin

The joke is on him when I don't show up! Oh, I am so clever.


Models, Inc.
Does anyone else remember this TV show? It was on for a season, maybe two, during the Melrose Place and 90210 genre. It came on either before or after Melrose, and my college friends and I would usually end up watching it just because we were already gathered for our weekly Melrose viewings. Models, Inc. was about a group of female models, living in a house together, modeling for an agency, and their typical model woes. I never could figure out why they all had to live in the same house, like they couldn't afford to live on their own, yet they all wore fabulous clothes and drove expensive sports cars.

So, basically my new favorite reality show, America's Next Top Model, is Models, Inc without a script. People, if you are not watching this show, you are seriously missing out on some quality, fun television. I laughed harder last night during this hour of TV than I have lately about sitcoms designed to make me laugh. Oh the woes of models-to-be. You'd think they are being held in a POW camp. Only it's a nicer POW camp than any house I will ever own, it's fully stocked with food and whatever they need, and they have people doing their hair and make-up for them.

Last night's big issue was Elyse's potential eating disorder. Oh, the drama that ensued. Like she is surprised people question her eating habits? Now, I can somewhat relate to Elyse and her frustration with everyone judging her eating habits. I've always been really thin, and have had more than one doctor ask me if I am anorexic during a check-up. My mother would laugh, as my Dad's childhood nickname for me was the Bottomless Pit. We could never figure out how such a tiny kid could consume so much food and still be hungry. I assure you I will eat 4-5 times today, and I'll still be hungry when I go to bed.

Elyse, however, seems to be really offended that people question her eating habits. But I have to say I can't blame them. She eats next to nothing, and is rail thin. I don't believe she has a true eating disorder. I don't think she looks unhealthy. But I do think she could stand to spend some quality time with a gallon container of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. If she could wrestle it away from me, that is.

The thing I love about Elyse is that the only reason she is still playing this game is because she can't stand to lose. Her heart is absolutely not in this. She is cynical about the whole thing. Yet she is the best at everything. She wins all of the challenges. She looks great on film. It's fabulous!

What killed me last night was the 'interview' training and challenge. Ladies and gentlemen, these are models. Not to jump on the stereotype bandwagon, but after hearing their segments of the interviews with Mr. Working Media Man, these girls are truly about as uninteresting as concrete. And they were all trying so hard to be interesting and personable and 'themselves', that they came off truly hysterical. I would not have been able to keep a straight face while interviewing them. That's probably why they didn't ask me to be a judge on the show. My uncontrollable laughter at the expense of these poor girls.

The second best part was the nutty photo shoot. Let me describe for you. It was a shoot for Adidas or some sport clothing company. They basically dressed the girls up in jerseys and workout clothes, then shredded the clothes to pieces and tied them back up with shoestring. They added bizarre make-up and dramatic hair. Then they got some professional football player I'd never heard of, made him stand still on the set, and had the girls take flying leaps directly at him for the shots. So bizarre. Yet apparently very artistic.

The third best part was when Tyra stood up and told the girls she farted just a little when she stood up just then. Gosh, now I've lost all respect for The Tyra.

Oh the hijinks of models. Poor Giselle went home. I hope her family let her back in the house.

Seriously. Watch this show. Too funny.


Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Please, not while I'm eating . . .
Why is it that the person who constantly has a major ailment to tell about, or a whopper of a doctor's office story, or a major medical procedure to describe, or some sort of gory illness to disclose on a regular basis, always chooses to go into graphic, painstaking detail about it right in the middle of lunch?

I'm trying to eat, people! Your illness is making me ill.


The Great House Experiment
I'm trying an experiment. I want to see if a semi-poor, non-profit employed single female can afford to buy a house in a major city, and manage to end up with something decent, not in the ghetto. It's a large, difficult task, but I'm determined to be successful. I refuse to pay any more rent.

My realtor and I visited three houses last night. Well, two were houses. The third one was disguised as a house on the outside. But once inside, it was a dark, stinky cave full of rampant pets of varying nature.

Now, this was an entirely different experience than when I used to go house hunting with my parents when I was a kid. It's been awhile since I've looked at houses. And now I actually have to pay attention to the entire house, rather than just which room will be mine, and if there is a tree big enough for a tire swing in the backyard. All of the rooms will be mine, and if there is a big tree, that means I have to water it.

In the process of searching for a house, I've done quite a bit of research. I have accepted that I am not going to be able to purchase my dream house, in a neighborhood that I would love, near friends and the 'hip' area of town. But, there are lots of other great neighborhoods containing houses I can afford, in neighborhoods I will enjoy. I am cool with that. It's a starter house. Meaning I will start there, and hopefully not still be there when I am old. It will be quaint and cozy, and it will be something I can work on, like Trading Spaces.

My first stage of research was to look online and find some houses in my price range. Next, I drove the neighborhoods to see if these affordable houses were in the ghetto or not. I was quickly able to rule out many, many houses. It seems the ghetto is quite affordable. But, even if it is affordable, I do not want to live there.

I've managed to narrow down the neighborhoods and focus my search in these areas. So when I met my realtor last night to look at some houses in these surprisingly decent neighborhoods, I expected to see a certain level of house. Not fabulously well-maintained or to my exact desires, but at least decent enough to move in without having to do any major work. I can handle the rest.

The first house was not expecting us, even though we had an appointment. The young teenage daughter was home. She let us in and warned us that it was 'a little messy.' Compared to the aftermath of a tornado, this was an accurate statement. But overall, the messiness didn't detract too much from my walk through the house. It merely provided an obstacle course of sorts.

It is very strange to me to be in a house of total strangers, poking around in their stuff. I mean, when I visit people I actually do know really well, I'm not opening cabinets, snooping around the bathroom, fumbling around in closets. So to be opening doors, looking in showers, examining things up close that belong to these people I don't know, it just felt really weird. I know this is how you look at a house. But my experience has been with apartment hunting, usually viewing model apartments, or vacant ones. I can open doors and cabinets and know I'm not looking at anyone's secret stash of personal items. Buying and selling a house is pretty much a total invasion of privacy.

We finished our tour of the 'messy' house. It wasn't too bad. I didn't fall in love with it, but I didn't hate it. I hoped the next two houses would be better.

The second house was vacant, and I was thankful for that. I felt like I could really check into it thoroughly. As I began my close inspection, I noticed cracks in the walls, and the smallest master bedroom ever. So now we have foundation issues, and a master bedroom not big enough for the master of the house. I would be doing well to fit my bed in there. Sure, I could spread out the rest of my bedroom furniture throughout the other bedrooms, but I prefer my getting dressed in the morning to not be a progressive journey throughout my house, going from room to room in search of all the pieces of my outfit for the day.

The rest of the house was okay. Again, not in love with it, but not hating it. It did happen to have large trees. Dreams of tire swings danced in my head.

The third house was the one I was most excited about. This one seemed like the most promising of the bunch, on paper. It was in a good location, and I liked the neighborhood. The street and other houses looked great. It was quite cute from the outside. I was very ready to fall in love with it.

We arrived a little before our appointment, but the teenage son was home to let us in. Our experience at this house was downhill from there. Upon entering the front door, we were greeted with the aroma of overwhelming, stale cigarrette smoke. I literally almost could not breathe as I hurried through this house. It was dark. It was cramped. And there were at least three or four animals running loose in the house. A dog, some cats, and maybe a wild boar. I couldn't really tell from all the dark hazy smoke lurking about. And of course, there was the animal smell that comes with many animals being couped up in a house.

We cautiously peeked into the bedrooms, which were 'decorated' with clothes, trash, pet litter boxes, and other random junk. There were smoke stains on the walls. The bathrooms were frightening. I suggested we move on to the backyard. I needed some air.

The backyard wasn't half bad. It had a nice detached garage that was actually nicer on the inside than the entire house. Perhaps I could convert the garage into the house, and park my car in the living room??

We made one last desperate pass through the house, then escaped through the front door. I immediately marked that one off of my list. I will never go there again.

So after my first experience viewing houses to buy, my question is this: If you are trying to impress a buyer, displaying your home as something enjoyable and enticing, luring people in to buy it from you, shouldn't you at least clean up a little? Maybe vaccuum? Dust? Let in some light? Do something about that weird smell? Make it at least a little bit appealing?????

I hope the next round of houses will be better. Less frightening. More inviting. These houses weren't even in the ghetto. I'd hate to see the houses in the ghetto.


Monday, June 16, 2003

Cycling PSA: Please Don't Hurt Us
I participated in another bike event over the weekend, with a friend of mine. We did 55 miles. Yes, we started out intending to do 55 miles, and we did not get lost. It was a great ride, very organized, lots of fun. Overall, a good experience.

However, as a cyclist, I'd like to beg upon other users of the roads to have pity on us cyclists. The ride over the weekend is an annual event. This year it was dedicated to the honor of a well-known area cyclist who was killed a couple of months ago, while biking. He was a great distance cyclist, biking thousands of miles a year. In fact, he had retired from his career to seriously pursue long-distance cycling. He was out riding one day on a rural highway here in North Texas, when he was struck in the head by the side mirror of a passing school bus. The bus didn't give him enough room on the road, and as a result of the injuries from the bus, he died a day or so later. I'd never met him, but he was apparently well-liked and well-known in the area.

With this on our minds as we rode over the weekend, safety and caution was a priority. But, even as careful as cyclists can be, we still need cooperation from other motorists. Unfortunately, as we rode in honor of the fallen cyclist, there was another major accident during the ride.

My friend and I stopped at a rest stop to catch our breath and refill on water. As we waited in line, an ambulance flew past, sirens blaring, heading up the route. We got back on our bikes and continued on our way. Another ambulance flew past. Then a firetruck. Then I saw the CareFlight helicopter land in a field a mile or so up the road.

When we got to the scene, I counted at least six ambulances, several fire trucks, a few other emergency vehicles, and the CareFlight copter. The two-laned rural highway was completely blocked off. We were asked to get off the road, pick up our bikes, make our way down into the ditch on the side of the road, and walk, carrying our bikes through the tall weeds, until we were on the other side of the accident. After about 100 yards, we were able to climb back up the embankment and get back onto the road.

In passing along the scene of the accident, I was able to see several banged up and bloody bikers, bandaged, filling out reports and talking on cell phones and to officials. Bikes lined the side of the road, some mangled. I've never seen a warzone, but the scene was a cyclist version of major devastation. I asked someone standing nearby what had happened. All she knew was that it was a major accident involving at least one car and seven or eight bikers. My friend with me heard someone else say someone had died. We were asked to keep going, to clear the area.

So, with that scene in our heads, we continued on. Cautiously, nervously, and with a heavy heart. Not being sure of the details or the accuracy of what I'd heard, it was still a disturbing picture to see so many emergency vehicles, flashing lights, people confused and injured. All during a ride to honor someone who had been through the same thing, and had not survived. This accident had taken place about fifteen minutes ahead of my friend and I. Had we not stopped at the last rest stop, we could have been much closer to being involved.

We crossed the finish line and celebrated our victory. As we ate lunch and rested among other cyclists, we wondered what had really happened out on the road.

The next day in the paper I was relieved to learn that no one was killed, and there were no life-threatening injuries. A car had plowed into one cyclist, and when the cyclist fell he caused a group of cyclists to fall, too. The people in the car are being charged with a felony offense. Reckless driving, among other things. They were not injured. But, I am thankful that everyone involved will be okay. At least physically.

So, I beg of you, when you see a cyclist on the road, give plenty of space. It is nerve-wracking enough to ride on roads next to highspeed traffic, with large trucks whizzing by, trying to stay upright and out of the way. Bikes are road vehicles, required to ride on the same streets as your car, so we deserve the same courtesy you give to other cars on the road. Cyclists are required to obey all traffic laws. We promise to keep to our edge of the road, alert, riding with safety. We ask that you give us some space and help us stay safe.


Friday, June 13, 2003

The Amazing Yelling Argument Race
Ok, which team doesn't have any major issues on this season of The Amazing Race? Um, none. Not one normal, happy-go-lucky team in the bunch. Well, except for the annoying Clown team. But they are not normal. Just annoyingly over-the-top happy-go-lucky. So I guess it's good that they are clowns. Otherwise they'd be annoyingly happy-go-lucky regular people, and that would be weird.

Of the remaining teams, in no particular order:

David & Jeff- These guys are too boring. I almost don't know who they are. That's a huge problem among the other over-dramatic teams. They need to do something weird or annoying to stand out more. They at least need to yell at themselves or others more, to fit in with the rest of the teams.

Monica & Sheree- They keep pulling the "we're married to professional athletes, but we're just like everyone else" woe-is-me card. We don't know who your husbands are. And we don't care. Why are they there, anyway? Do they need the money? I doubt it. Shut up and play the game.

Kelly & John- These two have successfully yelled at each other the entire trip, with the exception of five minutes when they were both asleep at the same time. Yet as John lept from the bungee tower last night, Kelly proclaimed (yelling, no less) proudly "That's my future husband!" Um, yeah. You guys are a great match, destined for a happy life together.

Reichen & Chip- Or as I like to refer to them, Mister Mister. This happily married couple has got a mean, aggressive streak. So much so, that one of the Misters grabbed wee Millie in the Great Facre Scuffle, and got a cut lip in return. Calm down, Misters. No cat fights, please.

Steve & Josh- This father son duo is annoying, plain and simple. Their "we've hated each other our whole lives, until The Amazing Race came along" schtick has gotten old. Shut up and play the game. And quit yelling at each other.

Tian & Jaree- First, weird names. Second, prima donna models. Third, heavy smokers. Fourth, also yelling at each other non-stop, with the exception of last night when they pulled the pass off of someone else's carriage and therefore literally stole the carriage right out from under the team already in the carriage. For that two seconds, they seemed to get along. Why do so many teams hate themselves? Why torture yourself with weeks of travel around the world, with someone you argue with constantly? Yeah, that sounds fun. I know a few people I'm not too fond, and there are probably more out there who aren't too fond of me. Sign us up!

Millie & Chuck- Ok, too good and wholesome to be true. Who dates for 12 years without getting at least engaged? Especially being so young? Seriously, they're like, 12 years old. They've only dated each other. Are they still unsure of each other after 12 years? If that's the way to do it, I will be 108 years old before I get married, and I'd better start dating someone yesterday. Of course, Millie's asthma will probably kill her before the trip is over. I thought she was a goner during the first asthma attack last night. The fourth or fifth should definitely have done her in. She's definitely got spunk. And lot's of phlegm.

Steve & Dave- As nice as they are, their over-weightness and bad knees will be their downfall. Poor guys. Maybe all of the other teams will get lost for the rest of the trip.

Jon & Al- The Clowns. Truly nice guys, apparently. So far. I'm just waiting for Mister Mister to try that grab n' scratch move on one of them, though. I'd love to see the Clowns go off on some of these other whiney complainy teams.

The rest of the teams yelled themselves into last place each week, resulting in plane rides home.


Seriously, given the opportunity to travel around the world for free, spending time with someone I enjoy, with a million bucks at stake, I'd be doing a lot less yelling, and a lot more enjoying of the opportunity. What in the world are these people yelling about???

Shut up and play the game.


Thursday, June 12, 2003

Haz-mat Suit Needed Here
Ok, so the latest Google search leading to my blog is for 'Top 100 Germiest places in America.'

Cynical Rantings is listed first. John Tesh is listed third.

So, I'm germier than John Tesh??? And apparently the germiest place in America???

If there are no more posts the rest of today, it's because I'm disinfecting my blog.

Germs be gone. Go visit John Tesh.


Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Smaller is not Funner
I don't understand why those little packages of M&Ms and the tiny size candy bars are marketed as 'fun' size. What is fun about less candy?

'Fun' is engorging myself on the plethora of candy found inside a GIANT bag of M&Ms, filling up on chocolate-y sugar until I puke, then noticing there are still a few M&Ms that I missed left in the bottom of the cavernous bag, there for me to eat when I recover.

Now that is fun size.


So Glad I'm Not a Model
I mean, I totally could be a model. But I'm glad I'm not.

I've been suffering from reality TV withdrawal, since the end of American Idol and Survivor. So I've had to check out some of the B List reality shows that crop up in the absence of the high quality A List reality shows. The Blog Alliance seems to be with me on this.

Last night I wasted four precious minutes checking into Last Comic Standing. I wanted to burn my hand off to punish it for letting the remote land on this show. I'm glad I'm not a stand up comic. I hope to never set eyes on this show again. And where on earth did they dig up Buddy Hackett as a judge? He felt the need to stand up when they announced his name, and I seriously didn't think he was going to make it up, or back down again. I hope no one makes him laugh too hard. I don't think he would survive.

So, I ended up watching America's Next Top Model. Ironically, while painting my toenails. Seemed appropriate. I'd caught bits and pieces of the show during the past couple of weeks, so I decided tonight I would give it a good shot. I mean, afterall it is very important to America to have another top model. I really can't risk missing this important process. Thank goodness Tyra Banks created this show!

Basically what we have here is a house full of girls wanting to be models. Make it into a contest, and you have a house full of whiney, complaining, back-stabbing, divas-in-training. They take this thing very seriously. Which is seriously hysterical to watch. I have to admit I was seriously entertained. It's my new favorite reality show of the off-season. Seriously.

The world of modeling is completely foreign to me. I mean, I could care less about make-up, hair, skin-tight clothes, and walking that weird model walk. I'm cute enough. I wear enough make-up and spend enough time on my hair so that I am girlie and attractive enough. My clothes are cute enough. But if it takes more than about 15 minutes to do the whole getting dressed, hair and make-up routine, I've spent too much time on it. And walking? Well, I'm doing well to keep my balance enough without running into furniture and walls and such. I would seriously never make it in one piece down a long runway. But I don't really see the need to walk often down a stretch of runway that leads to nowhere. Why is it important to have a specific walk for that? Beats me.

So how do you make hair, make-up, clothes, and photo shoots into a reality show? Well, I'm not exactly sure. But so far they've had make-up competitions, hair style make-overs, runway challenges, lessons on make-up, hair, walking, and 'acting', and some weird thing about body grease. Plus, we have the annoying personalities and major attitudes of ten different girls. And they've all managed to complain about at least one aspect of it, at some point. They sure do have it rough.

Next week we need to see a food challenge. Like Survivor. Put a greasy cheeseburger, milk shake, beer, and stick of butter on the table, and whoever finishes it off without immediately running to the bathroom to throw it back up gets to hear Tyra Banks say "Congratulations. You get to keep going in this silly competition to see who gets to be America's Next Top Model." Then bring in Jenna, winner of the last Survivor and apparently a swimsuit model, and have her give a seminar on the time she had to go 39 days without make-up. The Model-ees can then do a photo shoot wearing vines and tree leaves, no make-up, and ratty hair, while eating a bug, and Jenna can be the guest judge for the week.

I suck at painting my toenails, by the way. I figured watching the show while doing my nails would somehow help my lack of expertise in this area. But it didn't. I would seriously fail the nail-painting competition.


Tuesday, June 10, 2003

High Fashion: The Mis-Matched Socks
Yes, I've managed to make it in to work today wearing trouser socks that don't quite match my trousers ('pants' for those of you unfamiliar with the term 'trousers'. 'Pants' socks just doesn't sound right). At any rate, the socks don't match my pants. Or my shirt. The sad thing is, this is not unusual for me.

First of all, let me explain why I'm wearing socks at all. I have a couple of pairs of shoes that require thin socks to be worn with them, to keep the shoes from falling off of my abnormally long and skinny feet. These shoes go with pants only. Other shoes do not go with the particular pants I'm wearing today, and my toenails are in a state of polish disarray, requiring them to be covered. They are not presentable for open-toe shoes at this moment. They need emergency attention, and I've not had time to operate since they became deathly chipped and unprofessional. So, don't think it's weird that I'm having a sock issue today, as though you don't wear socks with shoes and pants, to hide your feet on occassion. Trust me, the open-air toes would be worse than the shoe-sock debacle I've got going on right now. Normally my pants are long enough to hide the socks anyway. But lately my pants have seemed too short. And today, my blaring un-matching socks are making quite a bold statement. Maybe I got taller in my sleep last night, rendering my pants offensively short today.

So, because of the toenail issue, and the 'wader' pant issue, I had no choice but to go with socks and shoes today. Unfortunately, I have a history of sock-shoe issues. Well, actually I have a history of scatterbrained mishaps of stupidity, sometimes manifesting in the form of sock-shoe issues, as well as many, many other issues.

My freshman year in highschool, I was at a brand new school in a brand new city with brand new people who had no idea who I was. My family had moved to a completely new state after my year in the eighth grade. I was forced to leave behind everyone I knew, as well my status in school as not quite popular, but not quite a loser, either. A success, if you ask me. So highschool for me started as 'the new girl', in a large school, in a large city, being largely without any friends or status. This is the perfect scenario for my scatterbrained forgetfulnes to stand out in a large way.

It's understandable to have mismatched socks on occassion. We've all done this. You either can't see the true color of your socks in your dark bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, and you're too sleepy to care. Or you just grab the wrong socks without looking, then head out the door. But, it's a whole different issue when it comes to shoes. And yes, unfortunately I went to school one day during my freshman year at my brand new highschool with a brand new group of people, wearing two completely different shoes.

The worst part is that I didn't even notice until it was the last period of the day, while I was changing clothes for tennis practice. I walked around all day, oblivious to the fact that my left foot wore a shoe that didn't match the shoe on my right foot. I'd somehow managed to be cool enough to make it onto the tennis team. But this status was severely in jeopardy on this day when I looked down at my feet and noticed I had on one brown lace-up shoe, and one black non-lace up shoe. I mean, the two shoes were not similar in the slightest. It's not like I'd reached into my closet and grabbed two shoes that were close enough to be mistaken as the same shoe. The two shoes on my feet were just flat out not at all alike in any way. How I'd managed to pick these two shoes, and then manage to make it through an entire school day without noticing my error, I will never know. The world will never know. But that's what happened. I guess I should stare at my feet more often as I walk.

I was hugely embarrassed upon making my shoe discovery. I didn't know if anyone else had noticed my shoe issue throughout the day. Maybe the entire school had noticed, but not said anything to me? Were they all laughing at me? Will my reputation at this new school with these new people be New Weird Shoe Girl? I would never be able to live that down. Unless I made mis-matched shoes the new cool fashion trend . . .

Well, not only did I have to go all day uknowingly wearing the clashing shoes, after tennis practice I had to change out of my tennis clothes and proceed to put the brown and black shoes back on, to wear home. At this point, I wished I hadn't noticed the shoe mistake. Now knowing that I was wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe made it all the more unbearable to be out in public, for all the world to see my shoes.

As upsetting as this was for me, being the shoe freak, it seemed my shoes did not actually catch the attention of anyone important in my group of peers. I tried to make joking comments about it to people around me in classes, but it seemed to be a non-issue. My shoes were apparently of no interest to these people. I was not dubbed New Weird Shoe Girl. I did not make it in the yearbook as Freak of the Year. I did not win Most Likely to Not Work in Shoe Fashion. Everything was actually okay.

And I am now very careful to check each shoe every morning before leaving the house, to make sure they match. I will now apply this technique to my socks.


Monday, June 09, 2003

A Lone Beef Incarcerated Fruit Bug Road Trip
The best part about a road trip is the stuff you see along the way. Funnily enough, most stretches of highway are about as interesting as dirt, since most of what you see is a vast expanse of actual dirt. But the trick to making a road trip interesting when driving alone is to see beyond the dirt. One must interpret the passing mileage in light of the surroundings, and with a touch of creativity.

Take my weekend whirlwind road trip to Oklahoma, for instance. This stretch of highway is quite possibly the most boring road on the face of the planet. But when I decided to take note of what I saw and experienced, whether I actually saw or experienced anything or not, the trip became slightly less boring, and a wee bit more entertaining.

Did you know that there are more run-down BBQ shacks per square mile in Oklahoma than in any other region of the world? It's true. Left and right, large towns or small towns, without even leaving the highway, I passed many a BBQ shack lining the road. While I'm not sad that I didn't stop at the Beef n' Bean quite literally in the middle of nowhere, I did appreciate the fact that it was named Beef n' Bean. It pretty much summed up the ambience of my journey. I was tempted to stop and order a grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad. But I wasn't sure my silliness would be appreciated by the locals.


I've determined that Oklahoma must be extremely proud of their prison system. At one point I passed possibly the largest prison I've ever seen. Not that I've seen a lot of prisons in my day, but this one was huge. And proudly on display less than 100 yards from a major highway. Somehow, the massive fences and barbed wire and tall brick walls seem to defeat the purpose of security, when holding felons within a short 100-yard dash of freedom via the open road and wilderness of Oklahoma. But it sure was impressive to stare at as I drove by. Quickly. Ignoring the hitch-hikers in striped suits.


Somewhere near downtown Okmulgee I witnessed a strange sight. By 'downtown', I mean the few miles of town where the highway is lined with old, small businesses, abandoned buildings, and a few old homes. As I passed through this 'busy' commercial district, I was startled to see a young boy, maybe twelve years old or so, ride quickly down the sidewalk on a horse, cross four lanes of busy highway traffic without waiting for a stoplight, then gallop off into the neighborhood on the other side of the highway. This isn't something I see living in a large city. This isn't something I expected to see in this small non-rural part of Oklahoma, since I had just driven through a much larger rural entity of Oklahoma where horses consistenly line the road in open fields. I found it odd. Had I not been in Oklahoma on a road trip, I don't think I would believe what I'd just seen. I wondered if he was being chased by an escaped convict who'd hitched a ride on the highway.


In addition to Lone Ranger Children on Horseback, and abundant BBQ shacks, I also noticed a plethora of fruit stands. They exist in clumps along the highway. I'd go for miles without seeing any fruit stands. Then there would be several in a row. Obviously in fierce competition with each other. It was kind of like the Starbucks of rural Oklahoma, only with fruit. I wasn't aware that Oklahoma was a hotbed for the production of luscious fruits in all varieties. But these fruit stands would leave one to believe that any kind of fruit you could possibly imagine is freshly grown and available along the highway right there in Oklahoma. Who knew?


Now, to say that I made the trip alone would not be entirely true. I did pick up quite a few fellow travelers along the way. It seems the insect population of Oklahoma enjoys traveling at a faster rate of speed than they are normally able to travel on their own. I was delighted to have an on-going load of bugs hitching a ride on my windshield. It seemed to be a larger volume of bugs than I am used to, although I noticed that the size of the individual bugs was smaller than when I travel through Louisiana. Unfortunately many of them did not survive the initial impact. They seemed unprepared to grab on and ride in an effective way. But a few did manage to make it to a new destination before letting go of my windshield or wiper blade. I was glad to be of service in the Oklahoma Bug Relocation Program. Although it would have been nice if they had chipped in a little for gas.

As you can see, the BBQ shack bonanza, Shawshank Redemption flashback, free-range wild children on horseback, dueling fruitstands, and a plague of traveling insects made for an extremely interesting roadtrip.

Way more interesting than dirt.


Friday, June 06, 2003

Things Learned During a Week With a Puppy
In spending time with the puppy for the past week, I've learned quite a few things. He goes home tomorrow. But he will leave me with some valuable information about things I did not realize before his arrival.

1. Everything within 12 inches of the ground is a toy. If it is within reach, it is worth playing with.

2. Everything that can be reached is worth chewing on. This includes my toes.

3. Places that are off limits are especially interesting and should be explored thoroughly. This includes plants with lots of dirt to spread out and examine closely.

4. Barricades are useless.

5. Even after taking 108 trips a day outside to do business, there will still be unpleasant discoveries inside.

6. After running, playing, chewing, and causing general chaos throughout the evening, any unused spot on the floor is a great place for a quick nap. This includes the middle of the kitchen.

7. After a quick nap, it is time for more running, playing, chewing, and causing general chaos. Especially if it is now time to sleep for the night.

8. 'No' means 'keep doing what you're doing' and 'find more things to do exactly like what I just told you not to do.'

9. There is no good explanation for the offensively foul smell of puppy breath.

10. A wet puppy in a bathtub is very hard to catch.

11. Bigger messes are more fun to make than smaller messes, especially when someone else does the cleaning up.

12. When doing something wrong, looking very cute and adorable and innocent makes up for it.

And, 13. Even with all of the chaos, puppies are sweet and fun and worth having around.

But I'm sure glad he's going home tomorrow. My apartment and I are completely worn out.


Yet More Fun With Search Words
As annoying as this may be to anyone else, this is one of my favorite parts of having a blog. This week's favorites are:

'wigs owned by Cher'
Yes, I was actually the one who stole Cher's wig a few months ago. I have all of them, in fact. She just doesn't know it, yet.

'rabbit ear antennae'
Rabbit ears don't actually make good antennae. Too furry.

'sarah hairstylist boise'
This does not apply to me whatsoever.

'picture of clay aiken without his shirt'
Um, why?

Thanks for playing!


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I wanna sit by you
A group of kids came to the homeless shelter today. They came by bus as a volunteer group. As they scrambled to find seats in the dining room to listen to their leader give instructions, I heard one of the best compliments I can ever remember hearing from my childhood. One kid hurried over to another kid and said, with a sense of urgency, "I wanna sit by you!" With a relieved look on her face, she found a seat next to her friend, and they chattered away excitedly.

What a flashback to my days in school! When is the last time someone told you they want to sit next to you? Or better yet, when is the last time you said that to anybody? Do you ever meet a group for dinner, making a point to say to a friend, "I want to sit by you!" I doubt it. Sometimes we 'save a seat', but that's not quite the same as letting someone know you want to sit beside them.

It's something left behind in childhood, the pressing need to make sure we are blocked in by those we know as our friends. We didn't want to feel lost. We wanted to make sure we were surrounded by our favorites. We wanted a prime location to connect with our best friends. We wanted everyone else to see that we had a place beside someone that matters. We didn't want to be left out, or stuck sitting next to someone we didn't know, or worse, by someone dorky. If you think about it, telling someone you want to sit by them is really one of the simplest, yet most flattering compliments you can give. And it was invented by kids.

But how things change as we get older and our worldview becomes broader than what goes on during school hours where we are surrounded by friends and classmates. As grownups, when we gather we tend to just sit where there is an empty seat, probably not even paying attention to who we sit by or who sits by us. We look around for our friends and hope to sit near them. But we don't usually make a point of sitting next to a specific person, except for the understood spot next to a spouse or significant other, if we are lucky enough to have that. If we don't belong to anyone in particular, we ask if 'this seat is taken', hoping to snag an empty chair before someone else gets it, and hoping not to offend anyone by taking a seat that belongs to someone else. We're just part of the group, maybe without even a single close connection or best friend in the group. We're one of many, without a specific place next to anyone in particular.

When I heard the kid today wanting her friend to know that she wanted that seat beside her, I remembered how good it felt to hear those words. I smiled, because kids are so intense about the young-type things that rule your world when you're twelve years old. It's special to be somewhere with a group where one of your best friends claims the seat next to you, on purpose, because he or she wants to be beside you. It's a simple thing we don't think about with much depth when we are younger. As a grown up, it may even seem silly. But we never lose the desire to be in close proximity to our friends, as we did when we were younger.

What acceptance to know you have a place beside someone. What an honor to have someone who wants a place beside you. It's simple, but precious.


Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Seriously Rainwoman
Without being technically autistic, I don't think you will find anyone closer to 'Rainman' than me. Call me Rainwoman.

I have known this about myself for a long time. I adapt to it. It's part of what makes me quirky, and that's okay. It took me a long time to accept it, because I'd prefer to be more laidback and flexible. I'm often frustrated that I can't just do what everyone else does with ease, and that it takes me so long to make a decisions and stick with it. But, I've found that since I've accepted how I am, it's easier to work with it and relax about it. Really, I'm much better now about surprises and changes than I have been in years past. Although I'm still not so good at the making of big decisions.

What this 'quirk' means for me is that I don't do well with big changes, or with quick decisions, or major responsibility up front. I have to take things one at time, often slowly, until I get used to it. Especially when I already have a lot going on, I have to be careful what I add to that. Can't overdo it. My brain is constantly churning away. I over-think, re-think, and think again about everything I do or say. I'm always wondering if I've done the right thing, or if I've made the right decision, because whichever path I take or the consequence resulting from whatever decision will take some serious adjustment time and effort on my part. I work best and am most comfortable with things I can expect. Or at least with some lead time to adjust.

Now, this doesn't necessarily apply to simple daily things. I don't freak out over deciding what to have for dinner, or what to wear, or hanging-out plans that come up without much notice. I can change course from time to time on the trivial things without much anxiety. I've dealt with enough major life-changing disasters and surprises to now be able to let most of the little things go, and handle them like it's no big deal. My life doesn't fall apart if I can't get home to watch a television show on time. I don't have to buy my underwear at KMart (thank goodness!). Things that are simple and do not leave a mark are things that I can handle with much ease. In fact, if you didn't really know me or experience some deeper things with me, you'd likely have no idea of my inner Rainwoman. You'd just think I'm a planner. I'm calm to the point of being almost dull. I'm not easily excited or jumpy or emotional. But when a major ripple comes along, it seriously messes up my world.

I hate to admit it, but I enjoy routine. I'm a habitual creature. I don't even try, but my day to day existence is pretty consistent. It comes naturally. I'm dependable in the sense that you can generally predict what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do it on an average day. I'm so set to a schedule that I'm hungry at the same times everday, throughout the day. I'm even late to places I need to be by the same amount of time almost every time. I get into habits that are comfortable for me, and that's the way my days end up. I even find it hard to change a habit that isn't working well for me, simply because the habit is what I'm used to. It's almost easier for me to keep with the difficult thing, rather than change whatever I'm doing to a better solution. You could set a clock by me, pretty much.

Towards the end of the day, when I come downstairs from my office and head to the restroom, you can bet it's right around 4:30pm, if not exactly 4:30, almost time to head home. I go to lunch everyday at 12:08, according to my computer clock. No reason. I think I just remembered one day that the clock said 12:08 the day before when I looked at it and headed to lunch, and I've been doing it that way ever since.

I can do things differently from time to time. My weekends are pretty schedule-free. But when I'm in my work-week world, my days generally go along as unitentionally planned. I have to think ahead to include changes, mentally prepare. So I try to make sure I do plan ahead, allowing for my quirk. You know, so I can go with the flow. Like normal people.

Then this puppy comes along. He was completely unexpected. And in a matter of 48 hours he has completely disheveled my life. I knew better than to take on a major life change without planning for it. That is precisely why I haven't gotten a dog, yet. I wasn't ready for it. I hadn't mentally prepared myself to accept the change and adjust for it. I had a plan, and the plan did not include having a dog right now. The dog comes along a bit later.

So, Rainwoman has been in freak-out mode for the past two days, due to this little bundle of fur. I have been an emotional nightmare, definitely over-reacting, and not entirely sure what my problem is. Other than the puppy came along before it fit into my plan. I've been freaked out about the decision I made to bring him home and be his care-taker, and I've been even more freaked out about my uncontrollable freak-out. As Rainwoman as I am, it's very unlike me to just completely fall apart. It's been a long time since I've had a major meltdown, and this time it was just about a puppy. I take precautions and I am very well-rehearsed in freaking out in a quiet, unobtrusive, almost pleasant way. And I try to keep my rare freak-outs to things that deserve an actual freak-out. Not a puppy.

The conclusion I've reached in this situation is that it's not the puppy. It's me. I could not have asked for a better little twerp to call my own. He is remarkably well-behaved for a young puppy. He came crate trained. He's quiet. He's sweet. He does chew on things, and he leaves 'presents' for me to discover in between our frequent trips outside. But even his 'presents' have been thoughtfully placed on newspaper or linoleum, for easy cleanup, for which I am grateful to him. He's a puppy. That stuff comes with the territory. He's fun to play with, and he's terribly, horribly, wonderfully cute beyond belief.

But even though he is a great dog, the past two days have shown me that I'm not ready for this much turbulence in my life, yet. And I don't want him to suffer on behalf of my Rainwoman-ness. I'm not sure if there is any one main thing that is disturbing me so severely. He takes up quite a bit of time, and I hadn't planned to have time for that quite yet. He is very needy, and requires my full attention when I'm home. He also has most of my attention when I'm not at home, wondering how he is doing while I'm at work and he is home alone. I feel a bit suffocated, knowing I am responsible for him, and that is seriously intrusive on my 'single' lifestyle. I have to take him outside often, feed him, play with him, train him, and if I were to leave town or fill up my entire weekend with many activities (which I do fairly often), he has to be taken care of. I can't just go off and do what I want, without taking care of him. These are things I'm not used to thinking about. I only ever have to think about me.

I do know the thought of this little guy being completely dependent on me completely scares me to pieces. It's tough for me to feel like I am worthy to be depended on. I feel like I've let a lot of people down in my lifetime, and I certainly am not up for letting down a wee little puppy.

I am extremely grateful he is not a child. What a horrible mother I would be right now!

So, the puppy will go back to my aunt this weekend, where he is missed and will be taken care of. As horrible as I feel about the whole thing, about making a hasty decision, about taking on more responsibility than I knew I was ready for, about uprooting this poor little puppy and then returning him in a few days, I have learned a major lesson. I have learned where I am and what I can do. I need to stick to my plan. I know myself pretty well, and I've made a lot of progress over the past few years. My life over the past several months has gotten busier, fuller, and more fulfilling than it has been in a long time. I'm looking forward to things. I'm excited to be involved in the things I do. I'm interested in knowing people and creating a fun and meaningful life for myself. I'm getting past many of my fears and anxieties about being in this world and with people. I just need a little more time.

And when it is time, my plan includes a dog. I will look forward to being set up, fully mentally prepared, able to devote as much time and attention as necessary, and ready to adjust to a life change. The time for that will be down the road. WAY down the road.

And that's okay.


Monday, June 02, 2003

If Phoebe Can Do It, Why Can't I?
You know that episode of Friends where Phoebe's mom gives her a puppy for a day or so. The point of having the puppy is to help Phoebe understand that if it will be hard for her to give the puppy back after awhile, how much harder will it be to give up the babies she will carry for her brother and his wife. Right. So, I ended up with a puppy after the weekend, but now all I want is to give it back. Now.

I've discovered over the weekend that I could literally be the most horrible person alive. In Texas, at least. I went to Tulsa to visit my Grandma, who now lives in a retirement home and who doesn't get out much at all. At first glance, this is a very sweet thing for me to do. I'm a wonderful grandaughter. I drove up for the visit and we had a wonderful time. She even remembered who I was!

The dark part of the weekend came when my aunt told me about her new puppy. It's a boston terrier puppy. Our family has always had boston terriers, so one day when I planned to get a dog, I had planned to get a boston terrier. I just hadn't planned to do that now, exactly.

But my aunt asked me if I wanted the puppy. I couldn't say no without seeing it. I have a rule to check things out before making decisions. But, this turned out to be my downfall. Upon seeing the puppy, I immediately fell in love with him. He could not have been any cuter at seven weeks old. Sweet as could be. After spending an hour or so with him, I decided to pack him up and take him home.

This could very well be the dumbest decision I've ever made.

I live alone in a third floor apartment. Tough conditions for a pet of any kind. I plan to move in a couple months, so my logic was that it wouldn't be too bad to have a dog for two months in an apartment. When I move, I'll be moving to a place with some sort of yard. But, it seems my logic was jaded by my infatuation with the furry critter, and I managed to talk myself into thinking it was a good idea to take him home.

He was great in the car. Sat in his crate, almost without a peep. We stopped a couple times to stretch our legs. But the longer I drove, the more time I had to think about what I had just done and the commitment I had just made. This was a major thing. Not just a play toy to have around. I had to take care of this puppy. For life.

I'm used to only taking care of myself. My life is very 'single', in that I come and go as I please, answering to no one. I like to be able to head out for a weekend whenever I feel like it. I like to travel. I'm not home much. I have a packed schedule, which actually doesn't really allow time to spend with a new pet. Why I didn't think of this before I loaded up the pooch, I don't know. For some reason, adding 'dog' to the equation of my life seemed like no big deal.

I got him home and upstairs to my apartment. From then on, it was a rough evening. I had to 'dog proof' my apartment, which wasn't easy. I have stuff everywhere, since it's a small place. It's basically a death trap for youngsters and animals, which I hadn't realized since I don't ever have youngsters or animals in my home.

I got him settled in briefly, then went to church. I must admit I concentrated very little on church, as my thoughts were completely obsessed with the wee furry thing alone at my apartment. I left quickly after church, telling only a few people of the new exciting addition to my family. At that point, it still seemed like an adventure, although it was already beginning to lose its luster a bit. But I had to tell someone. Bad idea, since now there are others who know what an idiot I am.

Back home again, I finished getting things set up for the puppy. I also had a ton of things I needed to do for myself, but managed to get to almost none of them. I called my mom and we talked about the puppy. I think she could tell I wasn't as excited as I should be, as I laid on the floor wrestling with this little beast with sharp pointy teeth. My mom was great in that she didn't freak out or tell me I'd done a stupid thing. I think she knew that we both knew that I'd taken on more than I could handle at this point. But, she was supportive. We've always had dogs in the family. So my initial trials with the puppy were nothing new to her.

I took him outside for the last time of the evening, then put him in his crate for bed time. I was worried about him, and about what I'd done. I hardly slept at all, although he slept most of the night. He didn't even whine much, which is a great sign of a good dog. He's so well behaved and sweet. He doesn't deserve to be stuck in my tiny apartment with me.

He had me up earlier than usual this morning, which is one strike against him. I need my sleep, and since I hadn't slept much through the night, I was none too happy to take him outside this morning. I realized what I needed to do. I needed to get in touch with my aunt and see if she would take him back. Right away.

I got ready for work, and set the puppy up in my laundry room, making sure the room was dog safe. I fed him and left him some water, all his toys, plenty of newspaper and towels, his bed, a fan, and shut him in for the day. I left for work with a heavy heart.

So, now I wait to hear from my aunt to see how soon I can bring him back. He needs to get back to his yard and playmates. They have a full house with other pets and kids and people around. Things a young puppy needs.

I need my house back and my life back. It's only been 24 hours, but I am a total mess. I'm completely freaked out about having the puppy. My stomach is in knots. I can't concentrate on anything. I'm tired and sleep deprived. And I feel very, very guilty. I should not be allowed to make big decisions on the spur of the moment ever again. No good comes from it.

If this is anything what it's like to have kids, count me out for a long time to come. Nothing like a huge living responsibility to put you in your place. I am either too selfish to care that much for another living thing, or I am too much of a softie to make the poor little guy suffer through living with me, knowing I'm not the best for him.

Yikes. Worst Decision Ever.