Sunday, April 20, 2008

Q&A, Luneray-style

1. What is your occupation? Attorney, I suppose, although I don't practice right now. I'm really debating right now whether to stick with what I'm actually doing right now, or whether I want to move into practice somewhere. That, however, would be a topic for a very long post.

2. What color are your socks right now? I'm barefoot. The last pair of socks I had on were orange and white with palm trees and goldfish on them.

3. What are you listening to right now? I'm watching America's Next Top Model right now-- one of my guilty pleasures. It's so unintentionally funny sometimes!

4. What was the last thing that you ate? Waffles: one with lingonberry and whipped cream, one with cinnamon and sugar and whipped cream, and one with maple syrup.

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Weeeeellll... theoretically, yes. I learned in Denmark, driving a friend's SEAT on a deserted beachfront road. However, that was 13 years ago, and I haven't driven a stick shift since that summer. I'm not at all confident that I could do it now. But I'm sure I'd be able to re-learn it pretty quickly.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Luneray's answer is the same as what I would have chosen: midnight blue. Maybe one of the reasons we fit together so well?

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My mom. We spent nearly three hours on the phone yesterday.

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? No one sent it to me, but I did steal it from someone I like a great deal. :-)

9. How old are you today? 32

10. Favorite drink? It changes all the time. Right now, I'm really hitting the Apfelschorle pretty hard. I'm also a big fan of belgian beers pretty much all the time.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch? D) None of the above.

12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes, most recently about two weeks ago. I've been staying pretty close to my natural color recently, but I also like to go a little bit red sometimes.

13. Pets? The irascible, intentionally incontinent Jenna-the-Cat

14. Favorite food? D) All of the above. No, really, I'm a big fan of food in general. Cheese is my biggest downfall, though.

15. Last movie you watched? I saw part of the MST3K episode, "The Girl In Gold Boots", which was not really their best effort. In fact, it was so bad that when I got a phone call during the movie, I took it, instead of ignoring the phone or asking the person if I could call them back later, and I didn't ask Ash to put the movie on pause. The last movie I saw all the way to the end was probably Kebab Connection. I thought it was hysterical, Ash thought it was nice that I enjoyed myself so much. "Zwei Handvoll Doener!". Hey, BTW, anyone have a clue why I can't make foreign characters on my new laptop? The old "ALT0246" trick doesn't work anymore since I got the new Dell running Vista.

16. Favorite Day of the year? I love the day when the leaves pop out on the trees. Screw Robin Redbreast,
that's the first sign of Spring as far as I'm concerned.

17. What do you do to vent anger? I yell, then I cry.

18. What was your favorite toy as a child? I had these little stuffed monkeys with velcro hands. They were named Jeff and Julie, after the little kids in the Sunday School books.

20. Hugs or kisses? Hugs. I'm entirely uncomfortable with the whole "kiss as greeting" thing. It just feels unnatural to me, but maybe that's just because of context-- it seems somehow pretentious here. Maybe I'd feel differently if I lived in France.

21. Cherry or Blueberry? This is entirely contextual as well. Are we talking "-flavor" or about the actual fruit? What kind of cherry? What am I eating it in/ with?

22. When was the last time you cried? Yesterday. I cried when the mom on Clean House gave up her boxes of books so that her girls could get nice new beds, and Miss Niecy asked her if it was hard for her to give up her books, and the mom said "Not for my girls. Anything for my girls." I'm totally tearing up right now, thinking about that. When did I turn into such a sap?

23. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes, Jaffa crates full of candles, a couple of purses that fell off of the hooks behind the closet door, and a jumbo pack of paper towels. Also, a sweatshirt that Jenna likes to lay on when she's "hiding" behind the hems of my dresses.

24. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Hulio, who I met when I was 18.

25. Who is the friend you see the least and miss often? Luneray. I don't see Hulio as often as I wish I could (which would be almost every day) either, but at least she's only in the next state over instead of all the way on the other coast.

26. Favorite smells? Coffee brewing, rain, leaves on the ground in the Fall, the back of Ash's neck, laundry, used bookstores and old libraries.

27. Who inspires you? Y'all, I have totally been drinking the kool-aid: Barack Obama inspires me. Also, Madeleine Albright, who is absolutely one of my heros.

28. What are you afraid of? Spiders, needles, and heights.

29. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Cheese. Lots of it, preferably with mushrooms, or bacon, or maybe all three. Do you know what is delicious? Make a burger with a little A1 sauce in the meat, then melt a little Boursin cheese on top. Yum.

30. Favorite car? I don't really have one, per se. I like small-ish and fuel efficient.

31. Favorite dog breed? I love dachshunds, and greyhounds are really great, too. But then, I've not met many dogs I didn't like, ever.

32. Number of keys on your key ring? About 10.

33. How many years at your current job? Just over a year.

34 Favorite day of the week? Saturday.

35. Who is your favorite in-law? My sister-in-law, Liz. However, I should say that I have fantastic in-laws all round. I was very lucky that Ash's family are so welcoming and loving.

36. Do you think you're funny? Sometimes, I'm freaking hysterical. But only sometimes. I tend to take things too seriously to be truly funny.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hopefully Spitzer Won't Follow In His Footsteps

This past week's episode of This American Life, called "Leaving the Fold". The main story in the episode was about Jerry Springer. Yes, that Jerry Springer. It told the story of how he became a politician, paid for a hooker with a personal check, then went on to become a very popular mayor, moved on to become an even more popular anchor on the local news, and then morphed into the Jerry Springer show.

I think part of the reason why I liked this episode so much was that it proved to me that I'm not crazy. Or at least, anyway, my memories of Jerry Springer aren't all in my head. See, I grew up watching his nightly commentary on TV, and I distinctly remember when he started his talk show. It was very exciting to me, and I remember commenting to my friends that it was nice to see a talk show that was at a little more intellectual level than most of what was on network TV. I'm not sure when the words "intellectual" and "Jerry Springer Show" became polar opposites, exactly. I worked full time during the day, so I didn't get to see the show very often. In my mind, therefore, the change was overnight. I agreed with the sentiment expressed during the piece that this change is somewhat mystifying to those who "knew him when". Who is this guy, and what did he do with the real Jerry Springer?

The end of the segment was most interesting, and kind of sad at the same time. It detailed Jerry Springer's interest in getting back into politics. There were clips from a speech he gave that allowed you a glimpse into what is surely an intelligent and passionate mind, but contrasted sharply with his apparent unwillingness to sever ties with the otherwise insurmountable obstacle blocking his path to a return to the political sphere... makes him seem vaguely like a tragic figure, you know? And it makes me angry, perhaps unfairly or even unjustifiably, that this man who clearly knows better, is exploiting the very people he claims to want to help, and helping to fill our culture with so much ugliness, for the sake of the almighty dollar. What mighty things could he have accomplished if he had decided to turn his talents and energy toward something positive? What if he had built an empire based on finding the beauty and dignity in the world, instead of glorifying the basest and most degrading things he could find?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cubicle Disaster Relief Directors

Thankfully, since the office reconfiguration last year, I haven't seen-- or HEARD-- much of Ethel and Myrtle, other than the inevitable lunchroom run-ins with Ethel, who still seems to believe that the kitchen is actually there for her use, and the rest of us are using it only at her benevolent discretion. However, I did overhear this gem of a conversation while waiting for my leftovers to heat up:

Ethel: "Look at Mississippi. They aren't whining and complaining."

Myrtle: "Well, New Orleans took the brunt of it."*

Ethel: "Oh, no, Mississippi took the brunt."

Myrtle: "Well, the levees broke. That was the biggest problem."

Ethel: "No, the problem was that they had fifteen hundred school busses sitting there and you never even turned them on. You're gonna blame the federal government for that?!"

* I have no idea why they were talking about Hurricane Katrina. Maybe one of them saw something on TV?


Monday, April 14, 2008

Adult Swim

I've been taking swimming lessons once a week, hoping to learn some new strokes and get better at the stroke I already knew. I really enjoy swimming at the gym, but I don't think I am a strong swimmer, and I get bored sometimes, doing the same stupid clumsy crawl up and down the lane. Most of all, I wanted to learn how to do the breaststroke. Ash has been trying to teach me how to do this off and on for the past two years, with no success. But it looks like so much fun when I see other people do it! I want to swim like the cool kids!

The classes have been so much fun. The ages and skill level covers a broad spectrum, and they take the lane markers out of the pool, which makes the hour a glorious mishmash of techniques, everyone swimming at their own pace, small groups forming and breaking up as the instructor holds small workshops on different strokes. One week, several of us learned a basic dive technique-- such an incredible rush to feel yourself plunge into the water like a knife, speeding down toward the bottom, catching yourself, and then breaking back through to the surface, ready to refill your lungs.

Anyway, about a third of the way through the course, I finally learned the breaststroke. With the instructor carefully watching and analyzing my flailing limbs, I put the pieces together a little at a time, until I accidentally did it right. Then I did it wrong for a while, got a few strokes in that were right, and kept plugging away at it. Two weeks later, I sort of got it down, albeit with some trouble doing all three pieces-- stroke, kick, and breathing-- at the same time. But I've gotten slightly better at it each class, and now I'm working on the timing of the three pieces, trying to improve the flow between pull-kick-glide. I was also pleased as punch to be complimented profusely on my crawl, which I've worked very hard on, concentrating on the angles of my hands, the trajectory of my arms, sometimes to the point where I suddenly realize that I've forgotten to keep kicking, and am chugging through the water by sheer force of my arms.

The other students are an interesting bunch. There's a very old man who can't swim at all. He's working really hard to master the flutter kick. Something just seems to go astray between his brain and his legs when he tries, but he comes back every week and spends an hour plugging away in the shallow end, patiently going back and forth. Another older man and his wife are occasional students in the class. He reminds me of a walrus, but a really friendly one who tells funny stories about his brother the beach bum in Hawaii. One guy about my age has spent the entire course talking about his dogs, and then in last week's class, he casually mentioned that he has three kids, surprising us all. A young-ish couple comes every week, and the girl wears a tiny bikini, as though she were headed for a sun-soaked spot on the French Riviera, instead of the ice cold waters of the high school swimming pool. A middle-aged woman brings a young woman with her most weeks. The young woman is blind in one eye, and seems to be mentally retarded. She's afraid of getting her face wet, and so she has learned to do the breaststroke without ever putting her head under the water. She likes to splash the middle aged woman, who I think is her mom (but I'm not sure) with her kicks. It makes her giggle and snort a little, especially if the other woman acts like she's all indignant at getting wet in the pool.

I'm really starting to love the smell of chlorine. This week is the last lesson for the Spring session, then there's a break for summer. I'm debating about taking a yoga class after this. But I'm definitely going to sign up for swimming again next fall.