Thursday, January 31, 2008


The number of miles on my former deathtrap at the time of our farewell...

Picked up my new vehicle about a week ago. Have been recovering from the shock while trying to comprehend my joy ever since.

I'm not a "car person". I just need to get places. Having entered the chauffering years of my life, reliable transportation is of some importance.

Alas, I have now acquired a vehicle that not only fits this bill but also promises multiple fine forms of entertainment while en route. Many, many internal toys. We're talking major technology here.

Do you sense the irony?

Seems sinful for so much modern wizardry to be allowed within my reach. I'm sure to break something.

For now, I am actually enjoying it. In a Charlie Brown, I-don't-deserve-this kind of way.

I approach this with my standard suspicion of machinery, of course...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Self-Reflexive Sigh


I've been floating in the blogosphere for 78 days now.

Feels a bit like outer space. Not that I know what outer space feels like.

Maybe it's more like the jungle. A thick, dense jungle full of unknown inhabitants. Far away, out of my view, a virtual medicine man is trying to determine if I am friend or foe - do I bring anything of value, or will I simply spread some new contagion?

I'm scaring myself. Let's go back to the outer space thing.

What's the point of this? I'm still not sure.

Call it a 78-day slump.

Well, I suppose it happens to everyone. It will pass. I will think of something to say. Two to three people will read it. The blogosphere will incrementally expand.

Perhaps tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Petty Petty Pet Peeves

One day last week, I found we were in need of milk. So I stopped to pick some up on my way home.

Milk costs $3.59 a gallon now, by the way. Hello.

Anyway, seeing as it had recently snowed - AGAIN - the store's cooler was woefully low on milk. In fact, only one gallon remained. Float a few snowflakes, suddenly everyone needs milk. As if it will serve as emergency currency.

Of course, the one remaining gallon was of the fat-free variety.

Well, we needed milk. So I proceeded to the counter with my gallon of petroleum-based, milk-colored water. I presented it to the cashier along with a five dollar bill.

In turn, the cashier made me a little present. She layered a dollar bill onto my receipt, piled forty cents in coins on top, and extended her creation with fingertips pinching each end. This whole procedure took her about a nanosecond.

As I was standing there with my wallet open and my empty hand poised to accept my change, I was initially a bit dazed. My stance was clearly incorrect. The cashier, whom I will now refer to as Flash, waited not so patiently for me to shove my wallet back in my pocket and extend my flat palm so she could place her little change cake upon it. Which I did, because I am a lemming.

My FIRST issue with this transaction: What am I supposed to do with this mess lying in my palm?

While I stood blinking at my gift, the line grew three deep behind me. I had no choice but to shove the change cake into my pocket in a bunched up wad and deal with it in the privacy of my car. There I sat, fishing out coins, flattening the bill so I could put it in my wallet, obligingly out of Flash the Cashier's way. As if I should be embarrassed about my lack of dexterity.

Why? Why, Flash, why?

Second, and really more annoying, in my opinion: Where's my penny?

Oh yeah, I noticed.

Why do I have to ask for my penny?

This has become a phenomenon, this dismissal of the penny, and it is pissing me off. It happens everywhere. Drive-up windows, convenience stores - they either don't give it to you or WORSE they assumptively toss it into that dirty little communist "leave a penny" bin.

I know. It's a penny. But you know something? It's my penny.

My paychecks are not doled out in even numbers. I don't get to price milk.

It's not like they carry that little bin to the soup kitchen. Some dolt picks them all up to buy a pack of Camels.

I'm just saying.

Please give me my change - ALL of my change - in some manner of common sense. No need for ceremony. And buy your own stuff.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Is That Me Screaming?

I mentioned last night that it was going to snow again. It is.

As a result, we are homebound. The three of us. All day.

I am in so much pain. You can't even imagine.

I'll paint you a little picture: two young ladies in pajamas - the same pajamas they have been in since Friday night - each with earbuds jammed into their ears, bodies lolling at odd angles across the sofa. Occasionally one of them spontaneously, yet deliberately, descends, - headfirst of course - flips over to the floor and scrambles back to the sofa.

All the while they sing. Both of them. Loudly and to different songs. Beneath that noise and from across the room I can also hear tinny strains of what they are singing leaking out of their earbuds.

I have lost count of how many times I have flapped my arms to indicate that they should TURN IT DOWN. When I flap, they turn down the music (but not their singing) for about thirty seconds.

They flip. They sing. They flip. They turn up the volume. I flap. They flip and then turn down the volume. They sing.

How much longer is winter? Why was I looking forward to this? Some vague mumbo jumbo about peace, restoration, beauty.

That sounds a lot like a spa package. I forget what it has to do with winter.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

So I Guess I'll Go to Bed...

Smidge of a confession: I love award shows.

Tonight is typically one of my favorite nights of the year: the annual Golden Globes ceremony. The party that attracts stars both large and small. Hollywood film commingled with back lot TV. Jack Nicholson impatiently smirking and bearing through Grey's Anatomy acceptance speeches. As if he has the time for this.

Rarely have I actually seen the films that have been nominated. Not from lack of interest, or even lack of effort. Lack of babysitters, mostly. Babysitters are an endangered species.

Yet I've still managed to enjoy the vicarious thrill of a well-deserved (I assume) Joaquin Phoenix victory. I've felt momentary sisterhood with Helen Hunt as she accepted awards on both platforms, validating the neuroses of overachieving women everywhere.

I confess, I feel connected to these people on Globe night. They are family - insanely wealthy, crisis-plagued, rehab-bound, emotionally crippled family. And you can tell they are so grateful to be able to relax and just be themselves for one night: noshing and smiling, seated at round tables instead of crammed into those awful theater seats. Oh, and millions of people are watching, so you know their relaxed behavior is totally genuine. Like that year Ryan Phillipe whooped it up when Reese won, minutes before they filed for divorce.

It's a sick, sick spectacle, that's the truth of the matter. It means absolutely nothing in the scheme of my life. But I love it. And it's not on this year.

Well, it is, technically...awards will be announced via news conference. No pretty dresses. No fake "Can't believe I actually won" dramatics. No Clooney. No need to watch.

On a positive note, it's going to snow tonight. Again...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

If the Nano's a-Rockin'...

Have been car shopping this past week, much to my irritation.

Simply ran out of excuses for postponing replacement of my current deathtrap. Begrudgingly must agree with loved ones that there is a limit on how many snowbanks a girl should find herself wedged into. Also the fact that every known indicator light is glowing steadily.

So fine, I will get a new car. Don't expect me to be happy about it.

How fortunate that Ratan Tata should debut the People's Car at just this moment!

$2500 was about the price point I was hoping to hit. It's what I spent on the last car that I picked out all by myself: a 1979 Formula Firebird.

That was in 1992. (No, I'm not still driving that...though I probably would be if others had not intervened with their whole "It shouldn't spew black smoke like that" bit.)

Here's what $2500 buys today, thanks to Ratan Tata: a ten foot long bubble, apparently made from soda cans, that reportedly seats five. One windshield wiper. No a/c. No radio.

It's ten feet long. It seats five. Think about that for a second next time you pop in a movie for little Mikey back there in the third row of your SUV.

Target market for the Nano are those currently zipping around Bangalore on two wheeled scooters. Scooters seem hip until you cram a family of five on one all at the same time. Suddenly, not so hip. $2500 untangles this family and gives them doors and a roof.

Now, you know the wheels are spinning (pardon the pun) for some young man. The possibilities of doors and a roof, and a certain young lady...things a scooter-bound man can only imagine...

Still, in the Western world, I am staring down the barrel of a car payment. Will probably end up with two windshield wipers AND a radio for my troubles.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'll Be At the Pool.

In case you were looking for something to do this week, the annual Greatest Gadgets Convention opens in Las Vegas today.

(I'd provide you a link to check it out, but come on, people. Be serious.)

I'd attend, but there's this whole Primary Day thing. Have to vote. Ten bazillion kooks standing on street corners said so.

If you go, pick me up one of those new android thingys, 'k?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tech Bubble

Exhibit A. Shortly before Christmas, I gave myself the unplanned gift of a new hard drive. Exactly the kind of expense one wants to take on at that time of year.

Alternatives, however, were grim. I could replace the laptop itself - current machine recently entered its seventh year of life, so this is not a terrible idea. However, at roughly three times the cost of replacing the hard drive, not exactly what I bargained for in mid-December.

Choice Number Two: I could do without a laptop until ready to make above replacement purchase. Mention of this alternative to other members of household provoked weeping. Actual tears and considerable hand-wringing over the doomed fate of a dozen Webkinz if they could not be "fed" and "played with" on a consistent basis.

Plus, you know, there's the whole blog thing.

Hence, new hard drive.

Exhibit B. Firstborn received shiny new mp3 player as early Christmas present from her Dad...thus causing existential crisis for shiny new iPod awaiting her under tree from Santa.

While helping her download initial round of tracks (mysteriously, our last act before hard drive melted down), made internal decision to redirect iPod to secondborn. A highly controversial choice for me - spurner of gadgets and protector of childhood innocence - yet knowledge of this child's single-minded interest in music that is bubbly and joyful somehow made it OK. Sort of. I don't know. Maybe I made a mistake...

Exhibit C. This is the point in time when my cell phone decided to never, ever let me finish a conversation. Twenty seconds in - buh bye! No amount of battery charging would do. Black screenitis. Terminal.

Mama got a brand new Muziq phone. So pretty. So capable. All mine.

Exhibit D. Upon the return of "like new" laptop - after lavishing restorative care on ailing and neglected Webkinz, of course - firstborn attempted to download additional round of tunes with my "help."

Error message. Second download attempt. Error message. Log on to Live Chat help, relay contents of error messages. Live Chat helper sends two links full of steps to take. Steps that involve changing settings, deleting files, pressing buttons.

You see where this is going, right?

Three mp3 players. One complete idiot pressing buttons. For two hours. No songs. Plus, probably reprogrammed my computer to blow up farm animals for all I know. Merry Christmas.

One good thing about the eventual apocalypse: it would bring a definitive end to dependency on technology.

I'm going to read a book now.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Everybody say WOOOOO

We are a mere five days away from the hallowed Presidential Primary, while tonight Iowa does what it may to justify its importance in the whole sordid affair. I am not supposed to care what Iowa is doing because I am from New Hampshire, where on P Day we Humble the Mighty. If we don't say so ourselves.

There is certainly no shortage of zealots around here at the moment. A good sixty of them crowded onto four corners outside my office building this morning: pounding the air with mittened fists, clutching ginormous campaign signs. Hooting and hollering like absolute kooks. OH, and it was eight degrees out there, before the wind chill factor. Thus upping their reading on the kook meter.

There was a great deal of chanting and changing of corners. And horn honking. Lots and lots of horn honking, which precipitated further hooting and hollering from the kooks.

I say kooks, when what I mean, of course, are deeply impassioned citizens taking an active role. Yes, I get that. Their presence held my attention for quite some time, actually...if for no other reason than I wondered what they all did when they were not rioting in the streets. Are they career campaigners, or regular people who felt compelled to get involved? Were they willing to stand out there all day? Would they lose their voices? Would they bludgeon each other?

Anyway, the riff raff disbursed after an hour or so - no doubt to haunt some new hot spot. Or maybe to have their frostbitten digits removed and strung on necklaces as reminders of their participation in the Great '08.

I respect their commitment, I do...yet I can't help but wonder if this is the reality of how we will choose the next leader of the free world. As if bellowing for an encore at an Aerosmith concert.