Monday, August 31, 2009

125 Posts Old... Break Out the Champagne! + Bonus Book Review!

Ok, so no champagne, but prosecco is a close 2nd, right?

Actually, I just put the bottle back in the refrigerator (albeit with significantly less prosecco inside) because I think a 4th glass of the bubbly stuff would be potentially dangerous once combined with blogging.

I am currently re-reading the His Dark Materials series. Remember back in 2007 when the movie The Golden Compass came out? It starred a little girl named Dakota Blue Richards (whose parents were obviously hippies)? No? Okay.

The movie The Golden Compass came out back in 2007. The novels on which the movie was based are by renowned YA author Philip Pullman, who also wrote The Ruby in the Smoke. I read TRITS when I was about 12, but was freaked out by an old crone in the book, so abandoned it for less frightening books, like The Three Musketeers.

I'm not joking.

I heard about The Golden Compass and what a wonderful book it was, so I decided to read it. And I did.

It is purportedly a children's book, akin to Harry Potter and A Series of Fortunate Events.

The purports are dead wrong.

The book is, essentially, about killing God. I'm rereading the books because I just reread A.J. Jacobs' hilarious and insightful The Year of Living Biblically. I decided to follow up Jacobs' book about coming to terms with God, if not entirely embracing religion, with a series about completely rejecting and destroying God. Why? I have no clue.

The first time I read the HDM trilogy, I was uncomfortable. I'm less discomforted, this time, but perhaps only because I know how it's going to end, and I know a bit more of what to expect.

Despite the slightly disturbing story-line, it's wonderfully written with amazing descriptions and a sub-text of how important growing up and discovering yourself is. I also agree with some of its contention that militant religion is the main issue that prevents world peace from being achieved. In the series, this extremism is what brings about the apocalypse, or something very near to it.

Okay, yeah, I'll buy that.

Would I recommend it to anyone under the age of - say - 16 who wasn't well-armed with a sense of their own religious beliefs?


I can see an already confused 13 y.o. reading it and freaking out, taking its arguments as gospel . In Philip Pullman's alternate reality, there are no moderates, only extremists, and they're the ones who control the world (his extremists all seem to be Catholics, or something very much like to them. He and Dan Brown should team up for a one-off).

Also, and this confuses me a bit, for all Pullman's atheist rantings, there seems to be a divine force behind the characters in the book, driving them on. If there are angels, and angels composed of Man's consciousness, then aren't they just a symbol of Man's desires? And, if Man doesn't want a god or Authority, or whatever you call it, then why does it exist as a result of Man's consciousness?


So, recommend it? Yes, if you want to read it purely for entertainment, or if you're a militant atheist looking for a childhood call to arms (some of the most close-minded people I've ever met were atheists who were stridently opposed to the close-mindedness of the ultra-religious. It was SOOOO much fun pointing out their hypocrisy. But I digress), then go ahead and read it. If you're very religious - and not open-minded - then I definitely don't suggest reading it.

You very well might die of apoplexy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ah, the Joys of Neighborhood

I have decided that I officially love my neighborhood.

Granted, most of the women I see who appear to be within 5 years of my age are all carbon-copies of each other, but that just means I stand out all the more, right? Because, unlike my neighbors, I don't have long bleached blonde or not-so-subtly highlighted hair. I don't have a tan, and I don't drive a Mercedes or a BMW. My little Honda - especially in its currently dusty state - definitely gets some looks as I cruise past a group of soccer-moms-in-the-making chatting in their front yard. They're not hostile looks, just ones of intense confusion.

So why do I love my neighborhood?

1. Trees - there are tons of them, and they're big and shady and create this amazing dappled light as I drive to and from Target in my little Civic.

2. Kids - they're everywhere, and they're unfailingly beautiful and joyous, running, playing, chattering to each other, and setting up lemonade stands along the road I take to get home from work. I'm a sucker for a lemonade stand, and have, to date, spent $3 on lemonade at 50 cents per glass.

3. People walk - mostly because of the trees and the children, but there's a street of shops just up the road, and people walk to and from those shops for coffee, etc. When my health is eventually completely restored, I, too, shall walk to get coffee on Saturday mornings. Unless I went to Happy Hour the night before, and then it will be more like Saturday at 1-ish in the afternoon.

4. Ladybugs - ladybugs are nothing new, to me, really, but I like that I have them in my new apartment. At my parents' house, there was a small colony of them that lived in my shower and occasionally flew at me when I was bathing. This usually provoked flailing and harsh epithets on my part, and more spasmodic fluttering on their part until they reattained their perch on the shower window.

5. My neighbors are friendly - I'm talking about the people that live in my complex, like the good-looking fellow who waved to me from his car today as I went to get my mail. Of course, he may have just waved because I was staring at him. But other people are friendly, too, like the funny middle-aged woman who always dresses in one hue, be it pink or purple or blue (yes, that is intended to rhyme). And there is that one couple that rushed to the elevator and hit the button so they could - I am assuming - continue their make-out session in the elevator while I trudged up three floors of stairs with my shopping bags from Le Target Boutique.

Ok, they're not friendly, and I will shoot them dirty looks through the door of my apartment, knowing that said looks will bore through their door, which is directly opposite my door on the other side of the courtyard.

I will give them ojo every chance I get.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Feel Like a Big Kid!

I registered last night for the 2009 TSA Convention in Houston.

Now, before you get all excited about picketing outside over how you were hassled at the airport, I'm not talking about the Transportation Security Administration. No, I'm talking about the Texas Society of Architects.

Late in October, I'll be hobnobbing with the best and boredest of the architectural community in Texas. As always, they will give out awards to firms that nominated themselves for the awards, and they'll have lots of discussions about sustainable buildings and how to weather the economic storm, etc. etc. ad adendum ad infinitum.

Every article in every architectural magazine somehow talks about "weathering the economic storm." Because thunderstorms are caused by irresponsibility. Or when a front of warm moist air collides with cool air. Whichever.

The only reason I'm able to go to the convention at all is because I have a sister. In Houston. Who is amazingly generous and welcoming and is letting me stay at her house. Otherwise, I'd have to seek shelter in a hotel, and there's no way I could afford to do that.

This will also be the first time that I will drive myself to Houston. I've driven to Houston with my mom and dad, of course, but I've never actually done the driving. I've offered, but never been taken up on the offer.

Three people in a 2-door Honda Civic isn't nearly as much fun as it sounds.

I've signed up for several seminars, and am going to a brunch on Sunday morning, because I decided to prolong the pain just a little bit longer. I'm skipping two of Saturday's free events, though, because I want to be able to hang out with my sister a little bit. I'll claim I couldn't absorb any more information and had to retreat to my boarding place to wring the knowledge out into a Tupperware container.

I bet they'll believe me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just Like College All Over Again

Except not at all, really.

Today, after 5 hours of tagging details - interspersed with a few joyous minutes of designing details - I heard Pacman yell from the other end of the office, "Damn it! I need ice cream."

As anyone in my family will tell you, I am always up for ice cream.

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream!

Scooter immediately asked, "Where could we go for ice cream?" We checked the Internet to see what was near our office - Paciugo's is now closed, so no pricey gelato for us. Eventually, we settled on walking down to the CVS after Pacman announced that he wanted an ice cream sandwich.

We locked the office door - Radio, Lola, and Oldsmobile were all out momentarily - and bolted down the fire stairs and out into the stifling heat of Downtown Dallas on an August afternoon. A five minute walk landed us in the air-conditioned environs of the downtown CVS, with its throngs of homeless buying cases of Natural Light and its white collar workers picking up Band-Aids.

We stood in the ice cream section - just past the beer, which made us wonder if we shouldn't have just headed to the bar on the first floor of the building - and debated whether to buy a 4-pack of the Nestle cones with chocolate and almonds on top, or if we should buy 3 individual ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream sandwiches were on sale, so we grabbed them and headed to the cash register.

I love Downtown because of all the people there from varying social strata that you wouldn't normally find interacting. The woman in front of us - with a gold tooth, but not the whole tooth, the kind that just sort of wraps around partially in the front - had another identifying feature: a bar code tattooed on the back of her neck. I guess it was to complement the three stars tattooed on the side.

Once back in the office, we began speculating: was the bar code there for quicker processing at the county jail? What would she ring up as if scanned? Would she be expensive or cheap?

Because of the tattoo's location, we couldn't see the SKU, but I suspect it was either some significant number (to her) or a string of curse words.

Why did the adventure remind me of college?

When I was in school, we'd be up at the architecture building all night, and occasionally, we'd make a 3 a.m. run to the local QuikTrip to get a huge soda and a hot dog or some chips (or those chocolate cream-filled cupcakes). There were always hapless drivers who'd turned the wrong way en route to I-20 while looking for gas, and their Land Rover would be parked next to a Cadillac sedan from the mid-80s with 26" chrome rims, and there'd be a female "hitch-hiker" in the parking lot, asking for money.

Of course, the QT smelled much better than the CVS. There was plenty of debate about the smell, but we finally settled on:


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Work Work Work Work Work Work Work Work

The past two weeks have flown by at a snail's pace. So much for metaphors.

I'm working on construction details, right now, specifically those dealing with millwork (READ: cabinets).

I have never been so bored in my life.

It's not so much the details themselves that are stultifying tedious. I've actually found that I enjoy designing the details themselves.

"And then, the drawers will open, and machine guns will fly out on their Hafele spring-mounts that we cannibalized from the ironing board kits, and p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p there go the burglars!"

The boring part is going through each interior elevation and tagging the details. So on page A8.3, there's a detail for how the counter top meets the cabinet below it. I have to go through, find where that occurs on the interior elevations for the kitchen, and put a little round circle on the page with a tail that intersects the counter top/cabinet in the elevation. I have to make sure the numbers inside the circle say "A8.3/35" if it's number 35. Other wise, the counter top might end up being built like the edge of the cabinet is supposed to. Or something.

I'm good at this sort of thing, because I'm a natural proofreader (I am obsessed with finding mistakes in writing - not necessarily my own, but usually - and a book is ruined by a simple grammatical error). But it's not as much fun to go through and look for discrepancies in your own designs, and it's more difficult to pick them out.

Pacman feels my pain, and occasionally comes by to check on me while I'm working, which is uncommonly nice of him and a bit out of character.

I suspect he's coming back just to make sure I'm not surfing the Internet.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nothing Much to Post About, But It's Habitual Now

I am currently sitting in the office, on hold with someone from AT&T, which might just become my new social routine: I'll call every evening, juke to the rockin' hold music, and have in-depth discussions with customer service about why my DSL account is not activated.

As for my REAL social life, it was a good 3 day run, but I'm definitely ready for a quieter week. After my late Saturday night - out past midnight, again, and you know nothing good happens after midnight, right Dad? - I slept in later than I've slept since I started working. I jumped out of bed at the crack of 2 p.m. got dressed and made a grocery list.

I was going to go to the Container Store, but then decided that I didn't really need the things I was going to buy, so I restrained my organizing hand and went to the Tom Thumb next door for a few non-perishable items (hellooooo Dr. Pepper!) and then on to Whole Foods, where I ran into one of my former bosses who dropped his yogurt container when I said, "Hello!" Granted, I might have said it a little loudly, but that's because my ears were still ringing from the bar noise from the night before.

I went home, unpacked my groceries - and may or may not have a spider in my house/shopping bag/purse and as a consequence may or may not have walked around the rest of the evening slapping at my neck and arms - and got down to tidying. I tidied my bathroom, I rearranged my bedside tables, I changed my sheets. In short, I was a one-woman tornado of productivity for the eight hours I was awake before retreating to bed once more.

And now, I learn from the nice man at AT&T - his name is Joel, and he has a kind of creepy voice, truth to tell - that my service has been activated after all, and that the customer service reps at AT&T just failed to call me to notify me, as was promised on Wednesday evening.

Joel mutters to himself and breathes heavily while he clacks away at the keyboard in the customer support center, which only enhances the creepiness of his voice when he does speak aloud.

So now, it's off to the dry cleaners to pick up my laundry, then back home to make dinner and connect my new wireless router to my phone line. Hooray!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

To An Abnormal Degree

To an abnormal degree: that is how much I've been socializing this week. Thursday evening I entertained an international guest - dinner at Cowboy Chow and then a trip to the Gingerman - and Friday I went to a going-away lunch for a friend who is leaving us for Washington, D.C.

Friday night, I decided not to go out, because I am going out Saturday night to celebrate a friend's birthday.

One pitiful and heavily-foreign-accented voicemail later, I capitulated and went to Happy Hour, albeit at 8:30.

I stayed out until 4 a.m.

I kind of want to die, right now, but not enough to keep me from going out for my friend's birthday! So now, I'm getting ready to get dressed for the gala, and I don't know what to wear, but that's okay because I still have two hours until I have to be there.

It seems as though I'm forever stuck in "I have nothing to wear" mode. Ok, I have clothes to wear, but the shoes I used to wear them with are either A) forbidden by my doctor if I'm standing for more than 30 minutes or B) old and ruined and seemingly irreplaceable.

So I have tons of great clothes for going out, but they don't have pants/skirt to match, or the underpinnings required are either not manufactured or are $300, which I didn't realize before I ripped off the tags.

You get the idea.

I know I have something to wear, and I know I will figure it out when I get home. But now I'm kind of wishing I'd done some laundry at 4 a.m.

On a side note, last night's Happy Hour took place at the Londoner in Uptown. Would I recommend the Londoner? Yes. Why? Beause the waiter was a hot Australian and he called me "Lovely," as in "here's your cider, Lovely." I will definitely be back.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Faith in Corporations Has Been Restored! Maybe...

I spoke to two competent people at AT&T Wednesday - yes two! back to back! and both apologetic when I relayed my awful experience of the day prior! - and one of them told me why my package was delivered to Fort Worth: apparently, that's the dock from where it was shipped, and that's to where they return. But why was it sent back? I asked. My UPS man ALWAYS leaves a notification on my door if I'm not home: I know for a fact, because I've had multiple large packages delivered, rerouted, etc... in the past 3 weeks.

The Poor Operator had no idea, but she had my wireless modem re-shipped to me at my office, and it should be here by Friday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, which makes typing incredibly difficult, as you can imagine. TPO also told me that there is a problem with my DSL service that is not related to my lack of having the appropriate equipment with which to access it, and she sent a request for someone to see what the heck is going on so I can be up and running ASAP.

She also reassured me that I will not be billed for the DSL until it is active. So far, it's not active, it's just pending.

So I'm holding off on whether or not I'm happy with the service I've been given until my DSL is working properly. Until it is active.

Other than that, there is no big news. Except, possibly, that Lola's son has been in the office the past couple of days to hang out with his mom prior to going back to school next week, and he's caused countless distractions.

Where should he eat lunch
turned into a 20 minute lecture from Pacman on the evils of corporate restaurants.

Where should he sight-see while this close to Downtown turned into a debate on whether or not the farmer's market is too far for him to walk (yes), whether or not he should take the DART train to the Nasher Sculpture Center (me: yes; kid: no), and then a frantic hunt for Oldsmobile's Nasher membership card (in Oldsmobile's pocket - he handed it over when he got back from lunch).

There's also been a considerable amount of standing around talking, recently, and not just by me. Everyone seems to be involved. Pacman, Scooter, Lola, and me sitting around in the "lobby" talking about... I have no idea what, 24 hours later. But it was important and interesting at the time.

Today, there was an on-line hunt for a fellow for whom I used to work at a large architecture firm in Dallas. I have no idea what the man's name is, I just know that he was the only person who was nice to me during my short (3 month) tenure in the firm from Hades. Pacman wanted to know who the kindly gent was, and I couldn't tell him, so he began scouring the firm's website for information about him. None to be found. The firm's probably laid off everyone but the principal's.

In short: I feel a bit unproductive, of late. Maybe it will pick up, later on. I think part of it is boredom, because millwork details aren't that exciting, and tagging them in drawings is definitely NOT exciting. I need to snap out of it.

Maybe turning off the interwebs for a day would help.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ah, the Joys of Moving!

Particularly, the joys of setting up all those delightful yet necessary services to which modern life has accustomed us.

As I write, I am sitting on the phone in my office, listening to terrible muzak, courtesy of AT&T customer service. I highly doubt I am even being routed to the correct operator. Thus far, I have spoken to 4 - count em - 4 operators, none of whom were any help. The first one I spoke to checked my order status, informed me that he didn't have a tracking number for the wireless modem I should be receiving, and transferred me to another operator.

That operator (#2) never really answered his/her phone, although the line picked up, and I had the privilege to hear an operator discussing her boyfriend. Now the question is: Why is discussing boyfriends so pressing that I had to be kept ON HOLD for 10 minutes before I was allowed to eavesdrop?

After saying, "Hello?" increasingly louder and more impatiently for a couple of minutes - and freaking out the janitor, poor guy - I hung up the phone. I dialed another number for AT&T, and briefly explained my predicament to the operator (#3) that answered. She transferred my call to another department: payments and billing.

Why, may I ask, would I wish to speak to payments and billing when I need a tracking number for an order I've already placed? I even told Operator #3 the department to which I needed to speak.

Operator #4 (Billing) informed me that I was speaking to the wrong department, which I knew as soon as she answered the phone. In an exasperated tone of voice, she informed me that she would transfer me. Obviously, it was my fault that I had been mistranferred.

A lovely woman named Donna answered the phone next - after a further 15 minutes of waiting on hold. I explained to her my predicament, gave her my telephone number, and asked for her help.

My wireless modem was delivered on July 31. A person by the name of Brennan supposedly signed for it.

Nobody lived in my apartment on July 31. I didn't move in until August 1. When I informed Donna of this, she seemed confused. She was even more confused by the fact that - although I can place calls from and receive calls to my telephone number - my telephone/DSL account is not "active." She also provided me with the tracking number for my UPS package.

My UPS package was signed for at a "dock" in Fort Worth, Texas. Why the hell did it end up in Fort Worth?!?!? So now, I apparently have to call UPS to find out why my package was signed for by this person named Brennan in Fort Worth.

It has been an hour since I placed my first call to AT&T, and nothing has been resolved. After Donna, I spoke to another fellow, who told me he'd have to look something up on my account. Another person picked up after I'd been on hold for another bazillion minutes, and he asked me for the number of my "Trouble Ticket." I informed him that I didn't have one. He asked me to please hold on while he got one for me, and then...

I was rerouted to the initial customer support telephone menu. Because it is a high-traffic time of day, I am on hold, yet again, awaiting someone who will doubtlessly shuttle me around again until I have an aneurysm or attempt to throw myself out the window of my 4th floor office.

Of course, I would never throw myself from the 4th floor window because I'm afraid of heights.

A young woman finally answered the phone after a further 10 minutes of being on hold, and she informed me that she couldn't help me. She transferred me to another department, automated of course. At the end of a barely intelligible menu (people with lisps should not do the voice for automated menus), I received a busy signal and was forced to hang up. When I tried to call back the number I'd just called to get through all the hub-bub, I was informed by a lovely automated message that their office is closed, and will open again tomorrow.

I am so incredibly angry right now that I can't see straight. I think I will go home, now, as there's really nothing more to do.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Been Real, It's Been Fun

But this week hasn't been real fun. Actually, I lied: it hasn't been fun. It's been excruciating.

Between the flat tire Monday, my self-inflicted pain Tuesday and Wednesday, and the added joy of commuting 45 minutes each way to work because I'm house-sitting, I'm exhausted. I'm trying to rest, but my mind can't seem to keep the TooDoo Gremlins at bay.

TooDoo Gremlins?

Yes, they're the little Gremlins that whisper, Don't blog, you have apartment arranging TooDoo. Don't go to bed, you have laundry TooDoo. Don't read that magazine, you have portfolio design TooDoo.

I checked at Home Depot, but alas! they don't stock Gremlinicide in their stores: it's special order and takes 4-6 weeks to arrive.

It wouldn't be so bad if I had the cute little pre-midnight-snack Gremlins, because you can just pat those and they go away. But nooooo, I fed mine after midnight, so they're the slimy misbehaving ones - the kind you'd want to hang out with at a bar, but not to take home. So they won't leave me alone, they call at all hours of the night - usually right when I'm ready to go to bed.

Fortunately, I'm going to visit my sister and her husband and their two adorable dogs - one of whom will probably weigh as much as I do, by now - so I should be able to leave the Gremlins behind me. Sure, it's just the weekend, so they'll come roaring back on their Harley Davidsons next week, probably all tanked up and ready to cause some trouble, but I plan on shrugging them off.

Hopefully by then, they'll have some other damsel to distress.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Not 21 Anymore...

Pathetic, isn't it? Here I am, all of - uh 27 years old - no! 26! Crud! - and I'm finding that I can no longer do things I could do, say, 3 years ago.

Such as climb three flights of stairs twice in a row without muttering expletives under my breath.

Really, though, what set me going about how much my physical capabilities have changed was the arrival of a table.

Yes, a table.

The UPS man attempted to deliver it to my home Friday, but I wasn't there. Alas, I had to sign for the thing, so he couldn't just prop it up outside, dust off his hands, and consider it a job well done.

I decided that - instead of having him try to deliver it again the next day - I would simply put in an intercept request online and go pick up the table at the UPS customer support center, which happens to be in the part of Dallas where the less-classy strip clubs are. But then, is any strip club classy? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

After driving down the street behind Baby Dolls, I arrived at the UPS place and stood in line for 15 minutes waiting to hand someone the little sticky note the UPS man left on my door. The woman brought out one box and got ready to shoo me out the door.

"Sorry, I should have four boxes," I said. "And at least one of them should be really big." The box on the counter was medium-sized, at best. The UPS lady looked at my ticket, checked her computer, and went back into the room to look for the other three packages. She found one - not even in a box, but wrapped in one of those tough plastic baggies - and then began hollering at the other employees, asking if they'd seen my packages.

Someone told her to check the weight of the missing boxes. Apparently, if they're over a certain size, they're left out on a porch. My boxes were over the magical minimum number: one of them weighed 90 lbs.

Fortunately, a nice young UPS man - a Steve Urkel look-alike if ever I saw one - helped me take my large packages out to the car. This is the same car that had a flat tire, Monday, mind you. He loaded them into the van, and I thanked him and drove off into the sunset with my loot. Okay, actually, away from the sunset, and sort of south, but you get the idea.

I had the forethought to bring a two-wheel dolly with me, so I was able to unload the BIG boxes - each of them 42" square - and to get them to my apartment complex's elevator.

But the elevator door is 36" wide. So I had to lift the boxes into the elevator.

All 130 combined pounds of them - one of which was a mere 40 pounds.

I'm not really supposed to lift anything over 20 pounds.

I am an idiot.

I managed to wrangle all of my packages into my apartment and to set up the table, iron the lovely fringed burlap tableskirt that came in the plasti-package, and one of the curtains from the medium-at-best box. Then, I decided I needed to stop or I'd die.

I am now wondering what caused my temporary lapse of sanity. Why on earth did I think that - in my medically precarious state - I was able to lift a 90 pound package? That's only 35 pounds less than I weigh! What was I thinking?

Apparently, I wasn't thinking at all. I spent most of Tuesday gritting my teeth as I sat in my desk chair, wishing I'd called in sick, and cursing both my lack of brains for even thinking about lifting the packages, along with the sense of duty that made me go to work because I had meetings instead of lying in bed.

And one of the meetings was cancelled. Neat.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Commuting Blows... Your Tires Out

I was on-schedule to be at work by 8:15 this morning when - POW - my tire went flat.

Sort of.

It didn't go completely flat before I exited and pulled into a hoity-toity side street in Highland Park. Bonus: I was in my mom's mini-van.

Fortunately, I'm one of those suckers who pays $3.99 for Roadside Assistance, so I called and the kindly but daft operator told me she'd send somebody out.

Boy, did she ever.

Have you ever seen The Big Lebowski? Imagine The Dude - sandals, beer gut, red watery eyes - after 15 years and a stint in the State Pen, complete with prison tats. That was my Roadside Assistant.

So he wasn't the most presentable helper, but he was courteous and quick, and that's all I needed at that point.

I got to work at 9:20.

There went being able to leave at 5:00 after taking a 45 minute lunch break. Instead, I would have to take a 1 hour lunch to get my tire changed and not be able to leave until 6:20.

I left the office at 11:45 to go to the tire store in the vain hope that if I arrived earlier than noon, I wouldn't have to wait as long.

It was an insanely naively vain hope.

There was a 90 minute wait before the tire-patching would be finished. I was starving. I decided to wander across the parking lot to tempt fate at Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store.

For the record, I rarely eat fast food. I might eat a fast food hamburger once every two months. I tend to want to curl up into a ball and die about 30 minutes after I do so.

However, I didn't have any other choices. Starbucks was farther downt he block, but I was afraid I'd pass out from heat exhaustion before I got their. Besides, their delicious pre-made ciabatta sandwiches have as many calories as a burger and fries.

I should have gambled with heat-induced death.

Being in the building profession, I'm accustomed to being around construction workers. But I'm used to being around them when they know I can have their ass fired if they even think about cat-calling or wolf-whistling.

Not the case at Braum's, which is apparently the eatery of choice for construction workers near Lemmon and Inwood in Dallas. I was leered at, said "hey baby" to multiple times, and whistled at. The whistler was at least still wearing his safety-orange vest, so I could see him coming from a mile away.

Alas for poor me! There was no newspaper stand at this particular Braum's, so I couldn't even hide behind a thin screen of world events!

What did I do to keep from bursting into flames of embarrassment?

I wrote this blog entry.


With a pen and paper.

And I prayed no wolves tried to join me in my booth.

(Wikimedia Commons image found at and courtesy of user Christian Jansky, who has graciously shared the image using a Creative Commons Attribution license).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Personal Productivity: Way Up

It seems that every time I move into a new apartment, my parents go on vacation the next week, and so I spend that week dog-sitting and staying at their house, instead of my own.

I'm not complaining! Their house is wonderful, and it means I get to hang out with my dog, even if he spends most of the time outside after around 5 pm in the summer. It's just a strange coincidence. The last time I moved into an apartment - my old apartment in Oak Lawn, and I mean old in multiple senses of the word - my parents promptly left on vacation, and I took care of the dog for a week. I believe they actually vacated for vacay (wah wah) with the same set of friends with which they're now roaming Jackson Hole and its environs.

Saturday, I took the opportunity of their absence to do some things for everyone, as well as for myself. For instance, I bathed the dog. That helps my parents, me, and most importantly, the dog. If the amount of hair the dog shed in the process is any indicator, it will also help some plumber in the near future.

I took my clothes to the dry-cleaner. My parents' cleaner, that is, not my dry-cleaner in Dallas. I'm in love with my Dallas dry-cleaner. I want to marry him, and then I'll have clean stain-free clothes forever. What more could a girl want?

I went to the Container Store (again) to exchange an under-bed clothes bag for a drawer organizer and a bamboo CD storage bin that will not hold CDs. It fits perfectly in the bathroom cabinet above the toilet and will keep my seldom-used medicines nice and tidy (NyQuil, for instance).

I went to Target and bought some stuff. I can't remember what I bought there, but it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL. I'm pretty sure it is, anyways.

And I cleaned out my storage unit. There were three things in the storage unit that had to be moved, one of which I couldn't transport by myself. I enlisted a friend to help me, and we made a day of it, following up the vacating by seeing the new Harry Potter movie, then beer and a game of fetch in the backyard (the dog fetched, not my friend), and then dinner at a Thai restaurant, because I'm tired of all the restaurants my mom and I usually visit. I actually wanted to eat Middle Eastern food, but the place I used to go closed.

It made me cry inside a little.

Sunday, I slept. A lot. I woke up at 2 pm, because I decided I'd just sleep until I woke up. No, I didn't stay up late. I was in bed and asleep by midnight, in fact, so I got a good solid 14 hours of sleep under my belt to get me through the day. I didn't do a whole lot, but I worked a bit at my apartment, putting drawing materials into the drawer-organizer I bought (Container Store!).

I have a desk in my living room that is skirted, and there's a lovely little rolling trolley that disappears under the desk when not needed. The drawers of the trolley - one of which now has a drawer organizer - hold pens and pencils and paper and paperclips.

And six rolls of Scotch tape I found while unpacking all of this stuff.

And seven erasers. Five of which were identical and still in their plastic wrappers.

I think my erasers are procreating.

Monday, I will drive my mother's mini-van to work so that I can drop by the UPS customer support center nearest my apartment to pick up a table I ordered, along with some curtains. After I mend a drawer runner and replace the drawer, my bedroom will be finished.

At least, it will be finished for now. In my world, decorating is never finished.

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's Been a While...

I apologize for my lack of blogging constancy, but I've been busy.


Into an apartment of my very own.

"How can moving possibly take a whole week?" you might ask. I am, after all, only out of school recently (3 years ago), and most college students don't have many belongings.

That is the stereotype. I like to avoid stereotypes.

To that end, I have amassed a large collection of books - 20 boxes! - that had to be placed on the bookshelves before we could arrange furniture. Yes, that's right, the furniture was stacked high while we unloaded my voluminous volumes.

Once that was done, there was the always fun furniture dance. "Now, move the sofa back. Another inch. Okay, two inches. No, you moved it too far. Bring it back towards me. Just a little bit."

For the past two evenings, I've stowed away kitchen gadgets, toiletries, jewelry and clothes. No big deal, right?


Clothes must be arranged by type (shirt, skirt, pant, dress, sweater, etc...), then by length, then color. It's pretty nice, though, to walk into a closet and see that one end of the rod is white and the other is black, and that in between comes pink, red, brown, green, blue, purple, and then black. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, just like a cashmere sweater!

Jewelry was relatively easy - open drawer, place in felt-lined trays, dump jewelry in.

Toiletries, admittedly, are still a work in progress. I believe after just one more trip to the Container Store, I'll have everything I need. Maybe. I think the Container Store should send me a birthday coupon, or something.

I'm hoping that, upon returning home within the next few minutes, I'll find that a table and drapes I've ordered have arrived and are awaiting me. Then, my bedroom will be almost finished.