Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post-Christmas Days

Or should that be daze?

It seems slightly unreal now that Christmas is already come and gone. In the back of my mind, I'm still stuck in college and high school, where you had at least 3 weeks off for "winter break" before you had to get back to the grindstone. I, personally, think it's unfair to condition children to expect a full month off from toil, because there is only disappointment to follow. Man, I wish there was a sarcasm font...

What did I get for Christmas? you ask.

I will, in my magnanimity, satisfy your burning curiosity.

1. An original pastel, Going Solo (pictured above), of a sheep in a field. Why on earth a sheep? Here is the link to the artist's blog, which helpfully explains all:
Buy her artwork. Julia is amazingly gifted. And she does great sheep portraits for weirdos like me!

2. Funny Face, an amazingly wonderful movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. It is one of a handful of musicals that I adore.

3. A coin that belonged to my paternal grandmother, struck in the year 1921, which was her birth year. She collected the silver dollars throughout her life, whenever she found one from 1921, and she had enough of them to give to her grandchildren. She passed away in 2003, and now I have another wonderful gift by which to remember her.

4. A pot of herbes de Provence. My sister got a pot of herbes de provence as big as her head, but seeing as I cook smaller meals than she does and less often, mine was about the size of a 4 month old's fist. I am incredibly happy that I didn't end up with a huge pot of herbs, because I would probably end up putting too much in a dish and making myself smell all herby for the next two days (not that I have any experience with such snafus...)

5. A gift certificate to B&N! I have, of course, already put a sizable dent in said gift certificate. Publishers of fine literature may mail me thank-you cards if they so desire.

Those were the main gifts, along with a few other trifles (and, yes, not-so-trifling trifles).

Tomorrow, it is back to the grindstone, where I will inquire as to whether we are allowed to accrue vacation days, or if we are required to take them all within the year. If accrual is verboten, I will be requesting off Tuesday and Wednesday, and oh! wouldn't that be grand?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting Closer to Christmas!

And you know what that means! Or do you?

It means I get 1/2 of Thursday off from work (I'm out the door at noon) and all of Friday off. It also means that my concentration is completely shot.

At 5:30 this evening, I realized that I wasn't going to get any more work done in the office. Mrs. Robinson left at 5:00 and told me I should just leave, too, as I was going to be the only one left in the office, but I had more work to do. I couldn't possibly leave. I'd been so distracted all day, that I accomplished very little. It's frustrating, but I don't feel particularly challenged on this project.

Challenged = fun project
Not Challenged = surfing the interwebs

I printed off the drawings I'm working on, rolled them around a complete set from an earlier project - for use as precedence - and left.

I went to the grocery store.

I took the groceries home.

I ate dinner at Cafe Express and read The Economist.

Then I went to Starbucks, bought a grande decaf skim milk mocha latte - with whipped cream - and planted my little tushie at a table with a red pen and my drawings.

Those drawings are bloodier than a toro after a bullfight. But now, at least, I have a list of things I can go through on those sheets and cross off methodically. I'm hoping that will help me concentrate tomorrow. I'll poise my yellow highlighter over the pages and systematically go through each label, circled mistake, and required dimension and get them all finished. I'll label the slope of the roof. I'll let the contractor know which wood finish goes where.

I will not look at LOLcats.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Giving Myself a New Nickname

I know you can't technically give yourself a nickname, but I'm giving myself one anyway: Snakebite. Ms. Snakebite Strainedconsciousness. Has a certain ring to it, no? And it's a heck of a lot cooler than Shit Magnet which was the second choice.

Why, you may ask, would I consider giving myself a nickname that sounds like an alcoholic beverage or a biker's nom d'usage? The first one should be painfully obvious to anyone who has encountered me, in person or on the interwebs. The second... well, there's really no reason for me to name myself something hardcore, except somebody once told me I was a John Rambo-type Badass. I should probably watch Rambo one of these days just to see if that person was correct.

The real reason for the nickname Snakebite is because I seem to be perpetually snakebit. For those of you who are ignorant as to Southern idioms, if you're snakebit, you have awful luck.

I went to the doctor, she gave me some medicine for this chronic problem I've been having, and it has actually gotten somewhat better.



At this point, the feel-good cops bust in and break up the party.

You see, on Sunday, I was cleaning out my car in preparation for having it detailed. While scooping various mix-CDs out of the center console and finding loads of pocket change, I also encountered something far more sinister. Something more sinister apart from an exploded tube of hand cream. I found... A PUSH PIN! And I found it with the tip of my thumb, into which the push pin thrust itself a good 1/8 of an inch.

It bled copiously, and I taught the neighborhood kiddies a couple of choice vocabulary words as I jumped backwards into the metal column that supports the covered parking structure. I should probably be baking cookies right now to take to their mothers as apologies, but they'd undoubtedly assume they're laced with drugs and that I intend to teach their children more naughty words while the parents are out cold on the kitchen floor.

I will not repeat Sunday's vocabulary lesson, seeing as it is fit for print only by the likes of Elmore Leonard and Kinky Friedman.

It hurt, but I didn't think anything of it, continued cleaning out the console, got my car detailed, went to the Nutcracker in Ft. Worth, and returned home. As I was falling asleep, I briefly reflected on the fact that my thumb was throbbing in pain. Again, I thought nothing of it.

Monday, however, it was still hurting, and a slightly different color from my other fingers, and the knuckles in my thumb were all feeling stiff. Occasionally, my wrist hurt. I decided it might be a good idea to go to the doctor. Just in case.

The doctor took one look at it, asked me if anything had come out of it, and prescribed me some antibiotics that are roughly the size of the afflicted thumb.

"Call me if it gets worse after three days or you see no improvement after seven," she said.

"You mean call so you can tell me to go to the hospital for IV antibiotics?" I asked. She nodded, smiling. "Yeah, you don't need to use euphemisms with me," I told her.

"I should have known by your medical history," she replied, still smiling, but also puffing her cheeks out in amazement. I have never seen a doctor simultaneously cheek-puff and smile at the same time.

It's not a particularly good look.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Working on my Post-Doc

At least, attempting to come to terms with my current life, post-doctor-appointment. I went to see the doctor Tuesday, and after a wonderfully painful exam, recounting the events of the previous day, and explaining that I'm in near-constant pain, she said those magic words: "I have no idea what's wrong."


Actually, not so neat. I'm not presenting any outward physical manifestations that lead her to understand what's going on, so as a stop-gap measure, she's prescribed some medication and told me to call back to book another appointment to take place in a couple of weeks.

I understand that, in light of not presenting visible symptoms, she's not sure why I'm in pain. I just wish she'd said something more along the lines of let's schedule some tests to make sure X, Y, and Z are all okay. She didn't say that, however, so I'm still hurting, in spite of the medication. The one hypothesis she did offer was that I'm in a cycle of pain, or in other words, I had a physical reason to be hurting at one point that might have been visible, but it's disappeared. The trauma from that disappeared reason may have affected the tissues around it that are responding by constantly sending pain signals.

Okay, I can buy that.


But I'm not satisfied with it.

On a brighter note, Thursday is the office gift-exchange. Mrs. Robinson introduced us to an interesting concept in gift exchanges: instead of buying gifts for each other, we've all bought gifts for one person - whose name we drew out of the boss' hat - and the gift is something we think that person would have liked as a child.

The toys are going to a charity that provides after-school programs for children that live near Fair Park and that live in poverty. According to the center's director, the children will occasionally wander up around supper time asking if they have any food, because they're hungry and there's no food at home and no parent around to feed them, and in the middle of winter they have no jackets, no sweaters, only short-sleeved T-shirts with holes in them. As a result, I also bought a bunch of clothes that I think Scooter - my giftee - would have liked: jeans, a red shirt with blue stripes, a grey shirt with Marvel superheroes all over it, a sweatshirt, and underwear. I opted not to buy awesome Underoos, but only because there were fewer pairs in a package that cost more than the plain white ones.

I can't wait to see the look on Scooter's face when he pulls out a package of BVDs. Should be priceless.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I've Been Neglectful of My Dear Little Blog

I'm a terrible Blogger, these days. Things have been hectic, what with a couple of weeks of manic socialization, then getting sick last week - but only sort of sick, and mostly on Wednesday when I had a fever + chills, which I slept off and inexplicably was perfectly fine afterwards. It's been crazy! Crazy, I tell you!

I gave my apartment a good scrubbing and organizing, although you wouldn't know it if you looked at it now, what with the cradled MDF board in the middle of the living room and painting paraphernalia littering the faux marble fireplace surround, along with some discarded jackets and cardigans and a pair of cowboy boots in the middle of the main travel path and a run-on sentence in the middle of the computer screen.

I had a wonderful day, Sunday, but then Monday jumped up and smacked me in the head to remind me not to get too happy about life, just yet. Monday did so in a decidedly more vicious manner than it typically takes with delicate lil' ol' me.

In fact, Monday greeted me with a stab of pain when I first moved, which then became nauseatingly painful when I clambered out of bed to get dressed, and ended with the nausea deciding the battle between what I wanted to needed to do and what I could do. I got sick, crawled back into bed, regained strength to get up, dressed, and was 20 minutes late to a meeting at work. I explained my tardiness to my boss after the meeting, he was really worried, and he announced as much to my coworkers, thinking I'd gone home. When I insisted from the other side of my cubicle wall that I would be okay, he was amazed that, in my shaken and pale-with-big-blue-undereye-circle state I was still in my cubicle and was dead set on staying there through the end of the day. He seemed somewhat relieved when I told him that I was going to see my doctor Tuesday. But only somewhat.

So tomorrow I go see my doctor, and it will probably end similarly to the last time this happened, when I ended up having surgery and recuperating for a week or two. Closer to two. I'm hoping I can time this so I can recuperate using a couple of days from the Christmas and New Year's breaks, but we'll see if she can fit me in.

(Thanks to Randall Munroe for being brilliant and for writing xkcd. Original comic can be found at

Monday, November 23, 2009

150th Post Extravaganza!

Woo! Party!

And now I wish that I had a wonderful Geocities-esque blog page that would let me make things blink and where I could do 100 different types of fonts in all different sizes just to annoy the heck out of anyone who stumbles across this page. Of course, it would have a black background, just to make it that much more annoying, and I'd probably have to have something obscure and vaguely annoying yet addictive playing in the background, like Man-Man. So while you're reading this, occasionally close your eyes and imagine blinking font and manic gypsy music with a lead singer who sounds like Tom Waits, but if he went to a soccer game in Liverpool, got hammered, and started singing with his mates on the way home.

I've discovered recently that I'm incredibly talented at taking $10 and somehow producing enough food to feed me for a week at both lunch and dinner. Last week, it was beef stew - some of which, I confess, I tossed out today because I was afraid it would develop some sort of microwave-resistant bacteria and I'd die in my apartment alone. The remaining stew is frozen, waiting for the day when I pull it out of the freezer to eat it over the course of three days for both lunch and dinner.

This week - Monday, specifically - I made a ton of spaghetti sauce. I miscalculated how much ground beef I had to toss into the sauce, so I browned entirely too much, then realized that I could either waste the meat by pulling some of it out and making a poor imitation of sloppy joes or tacos, or I could just make a truckload of spaghetti sauce. I now have about 6 me-sized portions of spaghetti sauce in my freezer, not counting the spaghetti I'm eating for work tomorrow (which should be interesting and far from graceful).

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how my kitchen always manages to look like the site of a bloodbath whenever I cook something that has tomatoes in it. It took me a good ten minutes to clean up all the splotches I'd managed to fling, though none of them landed on me, in a departure from the norm. I had tomato sauce on the ceiling. It's like when I was little and I'd end up with spaghetti sauce on my forehead. It's funny, but at the same time, you're left wondering how the hell did that get up there?

How, indeed?

(Thanks to Flickr User jshj for the photo, which can be found at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Only Comes Twice a Year

Yes, that's right: twice. Friday is a Thanksgiving lunch of tacos, margaritas, and beer, courtesy of That Guy Down The Hall who has organized it every year for the past 12 years. Sure, it cost me $10, but they're Fuel City tacos and unlimited alcohol! Or at least unlimited until the supply runs out.

The second Thanksgiving feast will occur on Thanksgiving and will involve people I actually know (rather than TGDTH and the other people he's invited) and much better food. Unlike TGDTH's feast, however, I will not have a chance of meeting "my future ex-husband," which was the carrot held out as a way of persuading this stubborn mule to join the office-building lunch when I balked at its $10 price-tag. Combined with Trivia on Tuesday night - which takes place at a bar and which my team won - and Happy Hour, along with the need for a few new articles of clothing, this week is turning out to be more expensive than I'd previously planned. And yes, I did actually need the garments.

Money, whine whine whine, money, whine whine whine. Every so often, I freak out a bit about money, although I'm in perfectly fine financial condition. And, yes, I could have just said, "No, I'll pass on the tacos and booze and eat stew, thank you."

But, you know, then I might not meet my future ex-husband.

What a horrible thing to say to a girl.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Project of My Very Own!

Yes, that's correct. I get my own project. Well, a mini-project. I'm designing an indoor-outdoor living space for a spec house. Yeah. Anti-climactic, I know, but it's still a project of my very own!

We finished our deadline Monday afternoon, only to discover that the interior designer had the foresight to pick faucets for the house that don't meet Dallas building code, so we're addressing that tomorrow at a meeting with said interior designer. Who would have thought that 0.2 gallons per minute could make or break your design's permit?

That's really all there is, today. Sorry, I know it's a bit boring.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Work Work Work Work Work Work Work Work: Part Deux

I will start off by saying that I am absolutely in love with our new receptionist. We ended up hiring the more matronly candidate - the peons overruled Oldsmobile and lobbied hard - and she began her first day of work by completely organizing our materials/products library.

Be still my heart!

She's amazing, and funny, and chatty - but not so much that I can't get any work done. She's the sort of person who will ask if we have anything we need her to do, which is wonderful, and she cheerfully performs any task we have.


I ended up in the office Sunday for about 5 hours. Pacman and I missed our deadline Friday, so I went in to see if I could make sense of the bloodied pages he left on his desk. I picked up the red-lines I could comprehend - sorry, Pacman, but I don't know what squiggle-squiggle-circle means - and highlighted the ones I fixed so we won't waste time checking them.

Ahem. Pacman does not highlight the things he has fixed. It's exasperating.

I bet our new receptionist would highlight changes she made.

And now I have to come up with a nickname for our receptionist. Hmmm...

We'll call her Mrs. Robinson.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Let the Interviews Begin

Our receptionist, Lola, gave notice Friday while I was on holiday. By "gave notice" I mean "informed us she's moving to Amarillo to join her boyfriend" and by "on holiday" I mean "recovering from an epic attack of claustrophobia despite a veritable mountain of Xanax ingested a full hour beforehand."

We had two interviews today with potential receptionists to replace Lola. The first was one of Lola's friends, two years younger than I am - way to go, Oldsmobile, asking illegal questions - and TINY. I can't imagine her reading the riot act to a call center representative because Oldsmobile's wife's phone isn't working, but I'm sure she has other qualities that are lovely. Like being tiny. She was perky, at least.

The second interviewee was a downright matronly woman who seems like a real go-getter, very professional, and with a nice pleasant voice. She also seems like she might be more thick-skinned, because Oldsmobile can get kind of cranky.

Okay, he gets really cranky.

He's 186 years old, what do you expect? If you'd lived through the American Civil War and survived World Wars I & II, you'd probably be pretty cranky, too.

We might interview a couple of other candidates, because we really don't want to jump the gun and hire someone who won't be the best person for the position. At present, though, we're split on who to hire: Oldsmobile likes the young bubbly candidate, and everyone else prefers the staid old maid. Who knows how this is going to end?

I certainly don't.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Get Back to Work!

I realized today just how tired I am. In college, I used to party hearty and go to class the next day, no problem. These days, it's not so easy. I have no idea how people my age manage to go out on weeknights and then go to work the next day: I can't even tear it up on Saturday and be ready to go to work on Monday for crying out loud.

I think that makes me officially old.

I spent most of the day detailing our clients' pool cabana and being amazed by the fact that the general contractor magically found $700,000 of cost he'd accidentally placed in his estimate of the building cost. Of course, he only found the $700,000 miscalculation after the project manager called him to ask how the heck the price went up by $100/S.F. in three months and to demand that he look over the numbers again. Amazing what a little impatience can do for your clients' bottom line.

The cabana is going to be a neat little building, not nearly as large as I'd initially imagined, but still a nice little place to use the loo and to store pool toys. So it's a big fancy port-o-potty, I guess, but with expensive tile and an outdoor shower.

Maybe they'll rent it out to me as a vacation spot?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I went out for Halloween, this year.

Last year, I stayed home, because I was tired and stressed and I just felt like being a contrarian when all my friends kept saying, "But you can come out with us! We're going to ." I smiled, thanked them, and spent the evening in my apartment drinking wine and resting. It was awesome.

Halloween 2009 was also awesome. I started the evening at a friend of a friend's house party, and wound up at the Slip Inn, to which I hadn't been in 10 months. I used to be something of a regular fixture at the Slip Inn, but then I guess I got old, so I stopped going as frequently. Also, my favorite bouncer left. Why go to a dance club if you can't flirt with your favorite bouncer? Really, there's absolutely no reason, right?

I was a tornado for Halloween. Yes, a tornado. That meant altering a cheap old black strapless dress by sewing a bunch of black tulle to it in big poufy swirls, then sewing plastic cars and farm animals onto the tulle. I wore black lipstick, crazy silver and black eyeshadow, and 5" black heels. Because all tornadoes wear stilettos. It's a requirement if your tornadic self ever wants to pass F2 on the Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale. I think I made it to F4.

The evening was fun, except for a blip of drama by one of the girls we went out with. I don't do girl-drama. I can be dramatic, yes. I can emote with the best of 'em. But I don't do drama. I mean the kind where everyone in the group wants to go somewhere else, and one girl wants to stay because she really likes a guy who's currently making out with another girl at the bar type of drama. Seriously, four people aren't having fun, so we should all stay where you want to stay because you're delusional?

We ended up at the Slip Inn after about 30 minutes of drama, where I had a fellow ask me if he could be in the eye of my storm. I was slightly horrified, but also kind of amused, because it was by far the most creative pick-up line I'd heard all evening.

I think the horrifying outweighs the creative though.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I can't believe I only have 8 more posts until I hit the 150 mark! Time flies when you're unemployed, re-employed, and then incredibly busy with your burgeoning social life.

Following the lovely TSA Convention, my week gained speed, as I helped my beloved Mum celebrate her birthday, then visited my best friend from high school, who is in town with the most adorable little blond baby known to mankind. As I pointed out to her, however, with a mom as beautiful as she is and a father as handsome her husband, it would have been impossible not to have a beautiful baby!

I spent every standing moment today wondering if I was appropriately dressed. A few months ago, I bought a grey knit dress that hits about mid-thigh. I wore it to work today with opaque black tights and a grey and black striped scarf and black equestrian boots. Ahem. Because I'm such a horse lover.


As the day went on, the dress started clinging to things that I hadn't previously noticed it clinging to, particularly my derrier. Fortunately, I spend most of my days sitting down in my corner cubicle, watching cars fly past on the freeway and being thankful that I don't drive a tractor trailer for a living, because people cut you off all the time. The few times I stood up to walk to the loo or to raid the candy dish on the front desk (Krackel bars! Yum!), I felt a bit self-conscious. The skirt is longer than one I used to wear to my old and much more staid office, but it just...

It clings.

Maybe I need to invest in a good girdle to keep that from happening again?

Because everyone knows that a girl in a girdle is hot.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

TSA Convention Report

I only went to the TSA convention on Saturday - that's Texas Society of Architects, in case you forgot.

It was incredibly boring.

The two seminars to which I managed to make it were vaguely amusing at best, and stultifyingly boring at worst. The first seminar was full, so I was forced to seat myself on the floor at the back of the not-so-grand meeting room at the George R. Brown Convention Center. I was wearing a skirt, you see, so there was some definite awkwardness in lowering myself. Once down, I realized that it would be very difficult for me to get back up again. Hmmm...

The presentation had just started when I entered the room, and after 30 seconds, I knew it was going to be an utter snooze-fest. Fortunately, the gentleman seated next to me on the floor had a piece of paper handy, so we were able to play several games of tic-tac-toe before the discomfort caused by sitting on unpadded carpet tiles overcame my tushie's stamina and I was forced to - awkwardly - raise myself up and flee through a back door. I sought the warmth of a cup of tea at the Starbucks a floor below and sat myself down in a slightly more comfortable than the floor metal chair. Apparently, the George R. Brown Convention Center only wants its patrons sitting in not-so-grand meeting rooms, and nowhere else. I emailed a friend sitting in the Starbucks - by far the longest email ever typed on an iPhone, I really think it's a world record - and was eventually forced to flee the area by a young man with the worst table manners I've ever encountered.

I COULD HEAR HIM CHEWING FROM FIFTEEN FEET AWAY. Since audible mastication is pet-peeve numero uno, I obviously didn't last long. The World's Longest Email might have been lengthier if not for the loud luncher's arrival.

The next seminar was more interesting, but still nothing to write home about. Alas, there were no tic-tac-toe partners, so I was stuck all by my lonesome. Sure, there was a large and offensively odiferous man sitting next to me, but I wouldn't have wanted to play Hangman with him even if he'd been so creative as to offer the chance.

The high point of the conference actually came after the conference was technically sort of over. I got to tour the Cordell house in Houston, which is constructed from shipping containers. The main house was interesting, but what really fascinated me was the small guest house nearby, which was still under construction. I spent more time in it than I did in the main house. It was also a pleasant experience because people kept seeing my name tag and that I work for Oldsmobile, and they kept saying things like, "Oh, wow! You work for Oldsmobile? He's so talented!" to which I would respond, "Yes, I'm very lucky."

Aside from getting greasy chorizo juice on my pristine white blouse, courtesy of the taco truck, it was a wonderful morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

These Boots are Made for Puddle Jumping

My coworkers tease me about creating a Megan Indicator for the economy. In general, it works this way: the more shipments of goods that arrive at the office for me, the worse the economy is.

Today, I received a beautiful pair of orange Hunter wellies. Do you know what wellies are? Some synonyms are gum-boots, rubbers, and galoshes. Now do you know what they are?

They're absolutely wonderful, is what they are.

Unless you have to drive. Then you must take them off.

I've always had Wellies that cut off about mid-calf or even lower (rubber ankle-boots, essentially). My Hunters stop about three inches shy of my knees. They're more rigid than my previous and dear departed wellies, which means that I can't flex my foot enough to drive in them. Hopefully, they'll get more flexible as I wear them, but I had to pull my car over to take them off for fear of rear-ending one of the Mercedes in my neighborhood or taking out the cute guy that keeps looking at the condo for sale on my block (hello, prospective neighbor!).

And we don't want to take out the cute guy. Unless it's to dinner.

I actually made a point of going out in the rain just so I could wear my new boots. I went to the grocery store, and I went to Crate & Barrel. I simply have to have a ladle now. I can't live without one another day. Ooh! And I can't live without some of that fancy glass tupper-ware I've been hankering after, either.

So I got to get out and stomp around in my big orange boots whilst wearing a scarf, and I felt very chic. Secretly, however, I was longing for the company of he who wears Wellies best, a.k.a. Andrew Bird.

We could totally bond over our mutual love of Wellies.

It's a match made in heaven.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Ready for TSA... Sort Of

I'm going to the Texas Society of Architects convention in Houston, this weekend. I'm excited about it, but mostly because I get to have a fancy-schmancy brunch at a fancy-schmancy house, and I get to see my sister. The other stuff I'm supposed to do...

Eh, not so excited.

There's a couple of seminars to go to that should be informative, but I'm not going to the actual convention until Saturday, which means I'll have one day of doing seminars before the whole thing ends. I had initially intended to ask for a couple of days so I could go Thursday and Friday - general overhead type days that wouldn't count against my vacation time because I'd be a font of useful information when I return. Missing work this past week for emergencies and medical appointments and all manner of fun stuff like that put the kabosh on asking for more time off, particularly since I'm going to have to take a full day off in November for EEGs and MRIs. Neat.

So now I have to figure out what the heck I'm going to wear at the conference, this weekend. At my last job, I dressed more business than casual, and my current job is business casual, but tending more towards casual (I wear jeans 4 days a week). I really don't want to wear heels around the convention center, but that limits my clothing choices.

The convention is business casual, but there's a dearth of office-appropriate trousers in my closet (a former colleague once cracked, "Oh my god! You own pants?!?!?!" when I showed up to the office in a pair of ivory trousers). Most of the skirts I own with which I would usually wear flats are decidedly thigh-skimming.

I guess it's time to drag out the wardrobe boxes under the bed, eh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Been a Helluva Week, Folks

I haven't written much, recently, but... okay, up until this week, I didn't have any excuses, but this week there have been crises galore, along with some planned happenings, such as my trip to the neurologist.

I will not go into the crises, as they are a bit too personal, but let's just say they're critical crises. And stressful. Very, very stressful.

On to the neurologist! The appointment was actually kind of fun (nothing like the doc underestimating the length of your gams so you kick her in the shins during the reflex test!). For once, I saw a doctor for the first time who accepted what I was telling her without questioning the veracity of my statements.

And she had some stuff to add to what I said, like "Oh, that's not a symptom of a migraine, really. That's more a symptom of seizures."

Excuse me, what?

Pretty much, I might be having seizures as a result of having migraines. Not flailing around foaming at the mouth seizures, but small seizures that cause me to smell things that aren't there.

That was the critical clue and the reason I'm having both an EEG and an MRI. People who have migraines small things that are already there, just more strongly. People having seizures smell things that aren't there, typically really noxious things like sulphur and rotten eggs. Or, in my case, fecal matter. To each his own, eh?

So I'm getting closer to having a solution to my problem, maybe. She gave me some medicine to take if I get a migraine, and some medicine to take for the nausea that accompanies my migraines, and some medicine to take before I get my MRI, because I'm claustrophobic as all get-out and had a panic attack during the last MRI I had (back in 2005). Hopefully, we'll find that there's nothing growing in my brain that shouldn't be there, and that I'm actually not having seizures (cross the fingers, because the thought is just kind of scary) and that I can be treated with migraine medicine.


Monday, October 12, 2009

"The Africa House" by Christina Lamb

I was so proud of myself. I was about to save a copy of the image for this post to my hard drive so I could upload it to the blog, and then I could hit Publish Post and I would have a blog all posted and ready.

Then, my web browser crashed.

Why, Google Chrome? Why???

So, let's start again, shall we?

I just finished rereading The Africa House by Christina Lamb.

Why did I reread it? Because it's a good book, obviously. Also, I had just finished reading The Bolter about the scandalous Idina Sackville, and I thought - mistakenly - that TAF also took place in Kenya.

I was wrong. The Africa House takes place in Zambia. Oops.

Regardless, I enjoyed rereading TAF because it's so fascinating and beautifully written. It follows the life of Stewart Gore-Browne, your typical stiff-upper-lip Englishman with a bowler hat, monocle and cane, who decides to start a plantation in Africa so he can spirit away his lovely aunt there to live with him.

Yup, pretty typical of the British.

Did I mention he also campaigned for self-governance of the British colony and helped it gain its independence? No? Well, there, then, I just did.

He was the only white man ever to receive both a chief's burial and a state funeral, and the first white man to abandon his British citizenship for Zambian citizenship when the country became independent.

He married a woman half his age (although that didn't last forever) and had two daughters by her. She also happened to be the daughter of his first girlfriend, who married someone else.

So essentially Stewart Gore-Browne was good with nation-building, bad with romantic decisions.

I'm going to chalk that up to repressive boarding schools.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back In The Saddle Again

I'm back at work now, and it feels pretty darned good. I still have a hacking cough, but other than that, my illness is all gone. The steroids are finished, too, so I finally got a decent night's sleep, Wednesday night.

Wednesday night, which also happened to be my birthday.

I enjoyed my birthday, but I didn't do anything crazy or go out partying. I had dinner with my mom, sister, and brother-in-law, and watched my sister's male dog molest my male dog, who didn't seem to know what to do.

After dinner and the show, we had birthday cake - carrot cake, mmmmmm - and then I headed back to my apartment.

My coworkers were amazed when I arrived at the office Thursday morning with half a carrot cake under my arm. I told them it was my birthday, and they all got upset, as if I'd intentionally hid the fact from them. I shrugged and told them I don't make a big deal out of my birthdays. Friday, we are having a birthday lunch for me, which is apparently how things are done, but only for me (we didn't go to lunch for Scooter's birthday).

Thursday evening, in my own little birthday celebration, I chopped off all of my hair. Yup, all 3 inches of it. For a while, I had what I referred to as long luxurious tresses, which means that my hair was longer than 1 1/2 inches. I had bangs that covered my forehead and part of my eyes, and I got a ton of compliments on the "new do."


I never really felt that confident with my hair that long. Strange as it may seem, I'm much more confident in my femininity when my hair is really really short, as it now is. With my longer hair, and my more casual work wardrobe, I always felt vaguely like a soccer mom. Now, I feel a little edgier and more youthful.

Oh, and I look like I'm about 18, too.

Does this mean I'll look 30 when I'm 40? I sure hope so!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sick Day Partt Deux

I stayed home from work again, today. Could I have gone in? Possibly, but I would have been miserable about an hour into the day.

The doctor prescribed steroids to help clear up the inflammation in my upper respiratory system. Great. Awesome. Out, out! Damned inflammation!

The doctor also prescribed some antibiotics to banish the bacteria from my upper respiratory system. Out, out! Damned micro-organisms!

The doctor also prescribed a cough-suppressant chock full of fun narcotics. Not so great.

The problem is that the steroids keep me up, but the narcotic is supposed to help me sleep. The two combined, however, mean I lie in bed in a quasi-dream state for hours at a time, thinking 30 minutes has passed when it's been 2 hours. I know I haven't slept, because I've been borderline lucid the whole time, and I don't feel at all rested.

So I'm exhausted. On the upside, I didn't do anything productive, today, so I got a bit of a mental rest, and I refrained from running errands, so I was able to physically rest.

So, remember kids, steroids on their own are ok.
Narcotics on their own are ok.

But steroids + narcotics = insomnia.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sick Day

I wish I could somehow manage to have sick days when I feel okay. I think I'd enjoy them more.

Could I have gone to work today and slogged through a full 8 hours of architectural specifications? Yes, I probably could have. However, I can't just think of myself, especially not since my boss is 164 years old. God forbid I should be the employee to bring in the virus/bacterial infection that... I don't even want to think about it, but I'm loathe to go into work if I feel ill, these days, from fear of infecting someone else.

I'm coughing, feel icky, and I can't decide if I'm well enough to go to work tomorrow without infecting everything within sight. Part of me says, "You haven't run a fever in 24 hours, go for it," but part of me isn't entirely sure that I've been fever-free for 24 hours, because I'm on steroids, so they make me feel feverish. I guess I could dig out the good old digital thermometer and see what it says, eh?

I didn't spend the entire day in bed, Monday, unlike Saturday and Sunday. I ran to the Container Store (aka Mecca) and to Tom Thumb for some groceries that are not to be found at Whole Foods. I wore my new Metallica shirt (grey-on-grey tie-dye with a black fanged/winged skull on it that says "Seek and Destroy"... I did not realize it was this scary when I bought it, and from 30 feet away at the T-shirt stand thought the graphic might be "pretty." My mom said she liked it, though, so I decided I could wear it out in public) and got lots of scared looks from the blue-haired old ladies that frequent Tom Thumb at noon.

What did I buy at Container Store? I'm so glad you asked. I bought a couple of "unbreakable" plastic storage containers for colored pencils and art markers. My collections of both have outgrown their plastic-baggie and left-over-cardboard-finger-puppet-boxes. I also bought spring-loaded drawer dividers to tidy up my t-shirt/camisole drawer.

I'm pretty sure the drawer front is going to fly off in the middle of the night as a result of all that spring-loaded action and kill me. But at least I'll have tidy drawers when I go!

I've also realized that being ill is dangerous. It makes me reassess my financial position and savings/investing strategies, gets me back on track starting up a side business, and finds me zipping out quantities of emails relating to said side business to individuals and potential contractors of all shapes and sizes.

So, the good news is: I've been incredibly productive the past couple of days.

The bad news is: I've been incredibly productive the past couple of days, and I should have been resting, instead.

So, maybe I'll start resting a bit more, right now.

Time to get back to reading.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Dancing to the Precipice" by Caroline Moorehead

One bonus of being ill is that I've had tons of time for reading. It's a good thing I went on an Amazon binge a while back, or I would have been bored out of my mind.

The first book I decided to tackle is called Dancing to the Precipice and it's amazing. It's the biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, wife of a liberal monarchist during the French Revolution. Over the course of her lifetime, she gave birth to way to many children, fled into exile way too many times, and somehow managed to approach all the sorrows of life with an amazing strength. She was a friend of Napoleon and her mother was one of Marie Antoinette's ladies in waiting. Her children were involved in coups and her husband served as ambassador to Holland.

At one point, Lucie lived in Troy, New York, and befriended Alexander Hamilton. She knew the Rensselaer family and operated a prosperous farm. She was caring and friendly towards the Native Americans her fellow exiles despised.

Lucie grew up amidst the grand salons of Paris, the intellectual hive that contributed to the brilliant works of Voltaire and Diderot. When her domineering grandmother refused to allow her to marry the man her father had chosen for her, she put her foot down, refusing all other offers of marriage until her grandmother relented and allowed her to marry her beloved Frederic. This, despite the fact that she had never actually met Frederic, but that's a minor detail. The women knew how to stick to her guns.

Dancing to the Precipice is an amazing book, well-written, and with enough end-notes to satisfy even the pickiest of chronicle-readers, although I confess I was a bit frustrated by the fact that the end notes are not enumerated in the text (you have to flip to the back, find the sentence, and match it to the bit at the end. A bit of a pain, really. I like traditional numbered end-notes more).

If you happen to share my taste in biographies - namely, books about strong women who embodied the British mantra of Keep Calm and Carry On - then pick it up. You won't regret it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I posted Tuesday, and then neglected to post again. I've been insanely busy, catching up with the parents, going to the grocery store and dropping off clothes at the dry-cleaners (which I will not be picking up today, okay Joe?). I was supposed to have a house-warming soiree this evening - nothing fancy, just a few of my nearest and dearest and in-townest friends - but then...


I didn't feel well Friday, and was only able to plow through the mountains of Architectural Specifications on which I've been working by sheer force of will. I took some NyQuil and headed to bed, hoping to awaken in better health.

Didn't happen.

I awoke with a head full of cotton-wool and with my brains oozing from my nostrils, or so it seemed. Also, someone replaced my esophagus with sandpaper. I had to text-message and email all my party guests to let them know that the party was NOT happening, because I am incredibly sick. One of them was so bold as to accuse me of ditching the party plans because I had somehow managed to procure a hot date. If only...

So I used my time wisely by getting a jump on that most onerous of tasks: filing for income taxes.

Wait, what? Those aren't due until April!

I know, I know. But that's no reason not to go ahead and sort out all the receipts for my filing now so I won't have as much work to do when April rolls around, is it? Apparently not, for me. Plus, it gave the opportunity to perform one of my favorite actions: the creation of a spreadsheet.

I love spreadsheets. They make me happy. I create them at work for Architectural Details, and then color-code them by the rooms in which they are used (Bathrooms' cells are blue, etc.). My coworkers think I'm nuts, but in a pat the young OCD intern-architect on the head and smile at her condescendingly kind of way, which is better, I guess, than the OH MY GOD SHE'S GOING TO GO POSTAL ON US ALL kind of way.

I love statistics of all kinds. I used to have a huge Guinness Book of World's Records that I practically memorized, and I have a statistics tracker tied to this blog (you hear that, whoever you are in Indonesia? I know you're there, even if I don't know who you are!). I always get a kick when I receive the Year In Review or whatever it is that the Economist sends out to its subscribers. It details all the facts and figures for the preceding year and how they've changed.

Is that nerdy? Yes.

Do I care that you think it's nerdy? No.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Most Abject Apologies

I received a text message this afternoon from a loyal reader who wanted to know:

1) Why I had not updated my Facebook status as obsessively as I typically do
2) Why I had not posted a blog entry in a good long while
3) If I am okay (because obviously, if I'm not posting on either site, I must be dead or a kidnap victim being held for ransom in Tijuana).

To all of you who are worried: I AM FINE.

For the past week or so, I've been insanely busy with very important things, like Make A Wish Foundation functions, the interior decoration of my mother's lovely home (which gets lovelier by the day), and going to see Metallica in San Antonio.

I SAW METALLICA IN SAN ANTONIO and I screamed myself hoarse. I was fine while Gojira was playing (French thrash metal? Really?), and okay while Lamb of God played, too. I tend to get bored by bands whose lyrics I can't understand. If the drummer sounds like the Muppet Animal, that's great. If the lead singer does... well... not so great.

But then, Metallica was on-stage, and my hand morphed itself into the Devil Horns sign \m/ and I was screaming like a tweenager at a Jonas Brothers concert.

Alas, the fellows from Metallica weren't wearing leather pants but were wearing black jeans. Except for the new bassist, whose name I don't know, and who was dressed in a shiny black basketball jersey and shorts. I still haven't figured that one out, yet.

They played Master of Puppets, I Disappear, Unforgiven, One, Cyanide, Stone Cold Crazy - at which point I think I lost my sanity because I began head-banging, and Enter Sandman. I can't remember the other songs they sang, because people kept trying to give my designated driver beer, and I - in my responsible and magnanimous way - saved her by drinking a few that were passed her way.

We arrived back at my friend's brother's house (I stayed in the guest room known as "Bungalow 1" and my friend slept in the Mezzanine - aka the sofa), completely unable to hear and with a strange buzzing noise in our ears. On the drive back to Dallas from San Antonio the next day (Tuesday morning), we both remarked on the unnecessary loudness of the concert.

I've also decided that the only way to see a concert these days is the way we did it Monday: from a private suite. You see, my friend's brother-in-law procured the tickets because his company owns the suite. It wasn't catered because his company wasn't picking up the tab for that, but there was beer and food just a short walk away, so that was no problem.

Yes, the private suite is far preferable to the mosh pit or the hard plastic of the regular seats.

Does this mean I'm getting older, or just smarter?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Am Going to Make You Jealous

But not yet. Wednesday is the first in a string of checkups I have to regularly attend. Hopefully, I'll be able to make some headway with these migraines (ba-dum-dum-ching! Thank you! I'll be here all evening).

Am I nervous? Yes. Most likely I'll end up seeing multiple doctors before anything is actually done. I'm hoping they'll just prescribe me some medicine and I won't have to see a neurologist. For the most part, I'm not afraid of doctors, although there is always a "What, now?" mentality before I go in to see them, because, inevitably, there is something else wrong.

Cancer sucks. Don't get it.

Now on to the stuff that will make you jealous:

I leave Saturday afternoon for a few days in San Antonio. What will I do there





The last time I saw Metallica, I was in... 9th grade? 8th grade? Elder sister, do you remember what year it was? Because you were nice enough to accompany me to the concert :-) Regardless, I was probably too young to be at a Metallica concert.

I had never seen so much black leather in my life. Or so many women on the backs of motorcycles whose clothes didn't zip or snap, but laced, and just barely.


I get to go to see MEEETTTTALLLLICCCCCAAAAAAAAAA because one of my friend's brothers managed to finagle a bunch of tickets, and he invited her, knowing what a metal head she is \m/ and she invited me, knowing that at one point I intended to ditch my life as a suburban high school student to become a roadie for Metallica, along with Jeffrey Lebowski (aka The Dude, Your Dudeness, or Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing).

Okay, I wouldn't really have dropped out of high school to become a roadie, but I debated not getting that job at Calico Corners after graduation in favor of the roadie life.

Really. I did.


Alas for Lars, James. Jason, and that other guy whose name I never can seem to remember, I couldn't resist the siren song of chenille upholstery fabric.

I wonder if the leather pants they'll undoubtedly be wearing Monday are the same ones they wore that day, back in the day?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

I finished re-reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay a few days ago, and - once again - it left me completely in awe of Michael Chabon's writing abilities. I would quote a couple of my favorite passages here, except I loaned the book to my mom after gushing about it over dinner the other night, so I am currently unable to assault you with a battery of his writing.

Assault with a battery. Heh. Heh heh.

Unlike, say, Dan Brown, Michael Chabon is a truly masterful author, whose use of description and metaphor is, in my opinion, unparalleled. At least, no one immediately comes to mind.

The story is an almost Dickensian tale of two young Jewish men at the beginning of World War II, their introduction to one another, the love one has for comic books, and how their pursuit of the American Dream is complicated by WWII, sex, and the havoc wrought by survivor's guilt.

All the while you're reading about sexual awakenings and Jewish folk lore, you also get a run-down of the birth of the comic book industry in the United States and the tradition of illusionists and escape artists in Jewish culture in the early part of the 20th century.

I've also read, by Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which was equally spellbinding and also dealt heavily with Jewish tradition and World War II, but in an alternate reality where World War II wasn't necessarily lost by the Nazis, and America was proving to be not so hospitable a retreat for the diaspora. It is more in the tradition of tough-guy detective stories, but in a way as imminently readable as Kavalier & clay.

In short, if you want to read a good book that's informative and gripping with beautifully crafted prose, Michael Chabon is your man.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Guess I Really Am Invisible...

I made the mistake of eating an ovo-lacto vegetarian dinner last night, and I woke up this morning hungry. About 10 minutes after I finished my shower, I started feeling weak and nauseous - I assumed as a result of hypoglycemia - so I sat on the counter to finish doing my make-up. I finished drying my hair and started to put my shoes on when the nausea hit harder, accompanied by some dizziness.

Hmmmm... Ok, could still be hypoglycemia.

I lay down for 20 minutes, which meant I was 15 minutes late to work, and then grabbed a Dr. Pepper and bolted out the door.

Ever since my last job - no, not sitting around unemployed and reading, the job before that that paid - I've eaten oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast. I keep a box of organic instant cinnamon raisin oatmeal packets on my desk and cook some up in the morning when I get to work, eating it while I check email and sign into the project files. It's a good routine, and it usually kills any morning hunger I may have. If not, I just eat another packet of oatmeal.

This morning, the Dr. Pepper and oatmeal ritual failed spectacularly. Thirty minutes after eating, I still felt nauseous and weak. Several times, I lay down on the floor in my cubicle, half-hoping no one would notice me on the floor, half-hoping someone would notice me so they could say, "Do you need to go home?" and I could say "Yes" without feeling guilty.

Alas, when Radio came over to my cubicle to get some plans off my desk, I was apparently not visible on the floor of my cubicle, because he grabbed the plans and went into the conference room with nary a glance.

Granted, he was on the other side of the drafting table, and there was a chair partly blocking me, but I'm pretty sure I would have noticed someone lying on the floor of their cubicle.

Pretty sure.

Around 2:00 (after going home for "lunch" wherein lunch = nap+2 bowls of cereal), I realized that maybe it wasn't hypoglycemia, since the Dr. Pepper and cereal and oatmeal, etc... should have killed that.

Yup, you guessed it: another aura migraine without headache. Bleh. I still have it, too, so I plan to go to sleep in 30 minutes after taking a large dose of ibuprofen.

Hopefully, I'll have something more entertaining about which to write tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Hour Posting Etc.

Happy hour Friday took place at the always entertaining City Tavern. I actually went to Happy Hour twice, Friday.

How does that work?

After work Friday, I went by the dry-cleaners to say hello to the dry-cleaning love of my life, took my clean clothes home, and decided I'd change clothes while there. Did I need to change clothes? Were they smelly, or actual work clothes, unfit for bar patronage? No. I'd just been wearing them all day, and I decided it was time to change.

I arrived at City Tavern at 6:15, after briefly glancing at the attractive fellow with the boxer puppy outside, and discovered that no one from HH was there. At some bars, that wouldn't be an issue, but it was threatening rain outside, and I didn't want to sit at the bar by myself for two hours, only to discover that no one else intended to show up.

I left within 5 minutes of arriving, which meant I was able to accompany the cute boxer owner to the end of the block. No dates resulted, however.

At approximately 8:40, I received a text message from the HH organizer, asking why I wasn't coming to HH anymore. I replied that I'd been there and no one was there. He replied with a small reprimand, informing me that he'd had to wait for a full hour before anyone showed up. I relented and left my apartment, returning to City Tavern, where I stayed for the next 4 hours.

Architects take their happy hours very seriously.

For the rest of the weekend, I pretty much did chores around the apartment, such as organizing the mess of cables that has sprung up behind my desk - a picture hanger works quite well, if turned the wrong way and hammered into the wall over cords in keeping USB cables from falling down the back of the desk - and embarked on the task of sorting through a box of goodies I've had ever since I was laid off from my job last November.

Most of the box's contents are sketches I did on some of the various urban design projects on which I worked, but some of the stuff is tchotchkes that used to inhabit my desk, or presentation packages that I don't think I'm actually supposed to have because they were proprietary information, etc... I think I'll probably have to shred the presentation packages, because they're not something I can ever show anyone, and they're a tad useless to me personally.

I've scanned the sketches I want to keep, and I'll print them out on 8.5x11" paper to keep in a binder, in case something happens to my computer (I'm paranoid, even though I have my stuff backed up in 3 places).

Some of the stuff is from college, and I'm not sure what to do with that, yet. Part of me is very proud of the drawings, impeccable pen and ink analyses of historic and modern buildings, and I don't want to get rid of them. I could always frame them, but I'm pretty much out of wall space, in this apartment, what with all the modern prints, photographs, and deer skulls.

Any storage ideas from the peanut gallery? Preferably ones that will sit nicely on my book shelves?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Really Knocked Me Out Was Her Cheap Sunglasses

For the past two nights, I've been "playing interior designer." What does that entail, exactly? Well, it involves my driving to Plano to look at paint samples, then painting big test squares on the walls of my parents' guest bathroom. Afterwards, a meal is eaten, I run errands with my mom, and then I arrive home around 9:00 or 9:45, exhausted.

Exhausted, and with new, shiny sunglasses as payment.

I used to buy my sunglasses at Target. I bought the really BIG ones, very 1960s Audrey Hepburn glasses that covered half my face. I also bought cases for the BIG sunglasses at Target.

You see, I have a large purse. There are many things in that large purse. I like to joke that I have such a large purse so I can crawl inside it and stay dry if it rains. My happy hour colleagues - particularly the males - are often awed by what I carry in my purse (travel-size dispensers of toilet seat covers, for instance. Bars aren't that reliable, okay?).

The downside to being prepared for all contingencies is that there are lots of contingency preparatory materials that can bang around in there and scratch up your sunglasses. If your sunglasses don't have a case.

And my sunglasses case bit the dust after a good 3 year run. At the end of which I returned to Target to buy a new case for my big glasses with green frames and smoke-colored lenses, only to find that they no longer carried cases. At all.

After two days, my lenses were scratched beyond repair. I went to a couple of other discount stores to look at sunglasses, but I couldn't find any I liked, so I went to Target and bought a new pair, hoping that if I put my car keys in the pocket every time, my glasses would remain unharmed by the other objects in my bag.

I hoped in vain.

After the first evening of paint-perusing, I asked my mom if she wanted to drop by Macy's, because I needed to get some sunglasses, and I didn't want to go by myself. I'm usually not shy about charging into stores, finding what I want, paying and leaving, but Macy's has decided that their sunglasses are almost all in cases, protected like Fort Knox, and when I last went in there was a guy my age working behind the counter, and I just didn't want to deal with having someone else voice their opinion.

Along with the manned counters, Macy's has also decided that they will stop carrying their $30 sunglasses in favor of $50-$300 glasses. The price you pay for glasses that come with a case, I guess. Except not even the $50 pairs come with a case. No, they have a dinky little bag. The $100+ glasses come with a case.

I found a pair I liked, which cost 6 times more than I used to spend for a pair, but it came with a case, so I prepared to go to the check-out, after which my mom and I would pick out a new purse for her, and then we'd head back to her house so I could come back home. She got in front of me, though, and paid for the sunglasses.


Being the resident interior designer/architect-y person can have its perks. Like fabulously huge sunglasses.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ah, Labor Day!

One of the things I love about Labor Day is that - if you're a white-collar worker, anyways - you don't have to actually labor. At least, in theory.

After two days of fun (shopping with my mom and sister Saturday, the Nasher Sculpture Center on Sunday), I spent most of Monday - Lack-of-Labor Day - running errands and laboring around the apartment.

What sort of labor did I perform?

1. Cleaned the bathroom. I discovered just recently that I jettisoned the old toilet brush when I vacated my Oak Lawn apartment for the parents' home, so I bought a new brush and went to town at home. I also wondered why anyone would consider spending $25 on a toilet brush when you can buy one for $2.99.

2. Tied down electronics cords. Some of my electronics are perched high atop a book case, and the cords I have are incredibly long - a holdover from my O.L. apt when my TV was 10' away from the case holding my DVD player, VCR, and antenna. So I had to snake my cords down the back of an upright on the bookcase and tie them down with little white zip-ties. This necessitated a trip to Home Depot. Employees at Home Depot are unfailingly helpful if you are a decently attractive woman in a tank top with no accompanying male in sight, by the way.

3. Non-physical labor. Mental labor, I mean, such as balancing my credit card entries, ordering a battery charger for my Nikon, and learning some new stuff via mentalfloss. Just for the record, no, I didn't lose the battery charger. I put it some place safe where I would easily be able to find it. And then forgot where that place is. But it's safe, and it's there. Honest.

4. Stained scratched parquet. When the movers brought in my love seat, they sat it down and pushed it across the room. They scratched the floor in two places, as a result, so I bought some stain at Home Depot and carefully applied the stain to the scratches. Hopefully it will pass muster when I eventually move out.

And now, for those of you who are design nuts like myself:


It's owned by a woman who owns Again & Again up the street on Bonita. She takes vintage furniture, recovers it, and sells it alongside other great finds such as Knoll dining tables. It's amazing and the prices are beyond belief.

I'm not saying it's inexpensive, per se, but compared with comparable pieces at places such as Mecox Gardens and Design Within Reach, they're a steal (Knoll table for $3200? Yes, please! Mid-century sofa in Kravet linen? Si, por favor!).

Fortunately, I don't have any money to spend on furnishings, so that prevents me from cramming my relatively small apartment with unnecessary casegoods.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oh Where Oh Where Has Ms. Strainedconsciousness Gone?

Oh where, oh where has Ms. SC gone?
Oh where oh where can she be?

I've been in bed
With duvet o'er my head
As miserable as can be.

Yup, I had a migraine... For two days. TWO DAYS!

I've been feeling generally icky lately, nauseous, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, etc. I just chalked it up to an overdose of construction details, but apparently, that was too tidy an answer. No, in truth, I was suffering an aural migraine without headache. Except that aural migraines without headache often do include a headache, just not the typical OH MY GOD MY HEAD IS GOING TO IMPLODE kind of headache.

Migraines are not new for me. I've had them since I was 19. But they've never taken on this form. All last week, during lunch, I would visit WebMD and look at my symptoms on their handy symptom locator and watch as it narrowed down the symptoms to:

Lyme Disease
Aspirin Allergy

Apart from the tick in a jar Radio brought into the office, I have had no exposure to ticks, so Lyme Disease was out. I know I'm not allergic to aspirin. Lupus? Kind of far-fetched. But I didn't have the pounding headache I used to get with migraines, so I figured it was just hormones or something and tried to brush it off.

I slept a ton over the weekend - one of my friends accused me of being lame - and felt better Monday morning. Hooray! I could eat again! I could walk without feeling dizzy and feeling as though I would tumble down the apartment complex stairs!

My sister and I had discussed my symptoms Sunday evening, and she said that my symptoms sounded exactly like hers did when she was diagnosed with having migraines after multiple years of suffering from the exact symptoms I described. That was a good enough diagnosis for me, but I felt fine, so there was no need to worry about it.

Right? Riiiiiiight.

And then Tuesday morning, I woke up, which was my first mistake of the day. I felt awful, but again, I decided that I'd soldiered through the week before, and I could keep on marching this week. I went to work, was less than my usual effervescent self, and after an hour at my computer and no work to show for it, informed my coworkers that I had a migraine and was going home. They all looked concerned, and I left the office and crawled into bed.

But not before looking at myself in the mirror and realizing why they all looked concerned.

I had big purple circles under my eyes and looked like death warmed over.

Not good.

I slept all day Tuesday, except for 4 hours when I ate some pasta and worked a crossword puzzle and read for a little bit, and woke up Wednesday morning, hoping to be relieved.

I hoped in vain, so I called in sick again, slept for a while, went to CVS and bought some migraine medicine and ice cream and headed back to my apartment to hunker down for the rest of the evening.

One dose of the migraine medicine contains:
1. 500 mg of aspirin
2. 500 mg of acetaminophen
3. 130 mg of caffeine = 3 Dr. Peppers in convenient capsule form

I couldn't go back to sleep after I took the migraine medicine, which was initially mentally hard to digest, but the physical reality didn't really give me much choice. So ten crossword puzzles and a book later, I fell asleep at 3 am, just in time to get a good solid 5 hours of sleep before awakening for work Thursday. I made it through the day Thursday, but with a kind of groggy feeling, probably due to lack of sleep.

Oldsmobile has been very solicitous, probably because he knows how I feel (we're both walking medical texts right now). And I have an appointment with a doctor set up, albeit farther in the future than I would like.

So I guess for now I'll just keep a bottle of super-duper-migraine medicine in my purse. And a Dr. Pepper, in case I need backup.

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.