Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Beautiful Day for a Neighbor

The snow is all gone now and so my city has gone back to its regularly scheduled soggy drip. Somehow, rain seems colder than snow. It's just so...damp and clammy.

The rest of the holiday weekend was pretty much taken up by full on joyful hysteria over the fact that Biogirl is moving to a house within shouting distance of my house, right on my street, right there, OMG, right there! This got me thinking about relationships in my life that were made even more awesome by geographic proximity. Dudes, I feel a hearken coming on! I am about to hearken back! And listing is also imminent! Listing and hearkening: commencing!

1. My sister and I shared a bedroom when I was a kid, up until she left for college when I was 10. My sister was, by far, the most important person in my life for my entire childhood and our sharing a room made my worship of her that much stronger. Lying in our beds, listening to The Clash on her super cool record player, away from my stinky brothers: heaven. She probably hated having me there during her teen years, but I'm so glad that we had to share a room. All the better to try to make myself into a mini-me of her coolness. I think I am still probably doing that to this day.

2. After my sister left, I got a new roomie, at least part time: my cousin. My uncle often would work the night shift at the car factory, so my aunt and cousin would come spend the night at our house a lot. I graduated to my sister's bed, and my cousin would sleep in my old bed. It was like a total switcheroo- the age difference between us was the same as it was between me and my sister. Now I got to be the (sort of) cool older one. I remember, when she was about 5 years old, she would have nightmares and come wake me up to come sleep in my bed with me. Having her scared little self huddled up with me made me feel a protectiveness that I had never felt before. I still feel that way about her.

3. Allison lived in my neighborhood from the time we were like three or four. I have walked my ass to her mom's house so many times in the past 3 decades that I'm surprised the pavement isn't worn out between her mom's and mine. The thing I remember about her living there was that she was so damn accessible. Sleepovers were easy, getting to school together and back was cake. I remember having a crush on this unattainable dude (who was in a band! who rode a motorcycle! who was 24!) our senior year in high school, and the afternoon when I actually somehow managed to make out with him? I ran to her house immediately to tell her. I could have called her, or another friend, but she was right there to OHMYGODDDDD in person. There are still times even now where something big will happen to me and my first impulse is to want to run out the door and somehow get to Alli's house.

4. I had many roommates growing up when I went to the various dance schools I went to, but my favorite friends were Kim and Marcy. The three of us lived on the same floor of our dorm, and we were inseparable. I was 13 years old at the time, and living by myself in New York City ("NEW YORK CITY!? GET A ROPE!" Sorry, I just have to say that) but was in classes with older girls who were 16 and 17. Kim and Marcy took me under their wing and, well, ok, they exposed me to shit that I probably shouldn't have been exposed to, but dang, I loved those girls. They talked about s-e-x at a time when I was still calling it s-e-x. They were always very conscious of the fact that I was a kid- they all smoked and swore and had clandestine meetups with boys, but would never had allowed me to try any of it. They rocked.

5. The first colleg roommate I had was Liz, who at first glance had nothing in common with me. She was shy and dignified, I was loud and um, if anyone ever called me dignified when I was 18 I'll be a junkie's uncle. She came to school with a pink flowered bedspread with matching ruffled pillows and my sheets had Snoopy as the Red Baron on them (hello 18-year-old-me, you are trying too hard to be ironic). Liz turned out to have a silly sense of humor and we spent many a night laughing until we were literally on the floor. Her friends were not people I hung out with, and mine weren't her favorite either, and I often think about how, had we not been roommates, we would never have gotten so close.

6. My other notable college roommate was Nan. Nan was around during some of the bumpiest days of my life and was pretty much the reason I made it through.

7. My big bro. Read about when he took me in. Pretty good guy, that one.

8. I lived with a couple of dudes before shacking up with Nordic Boy. Meh, not so awesome. Let's just call those learning experiences. Or just dumb. Either one.

9. I moved in with Nordic Boy, who is the first roomie I have encountered that understands the importance of singalongs and making up silly dances in a roommate relationship.

10. Before I went to grad school, I knew Neighbor J sort of, just through a mutual friend. We went to a party at her place- a duplex of super cute proportions. "If the unit next door ever becomes available, let us know," I said. And like a month later, it did. This led to the defining neighborly relationship of my life. Neighbor J and I fell in friendship love like nobody's business. We would carry on conversations through the wall, and we would eat dinner together every summer night in our backyard, and we would have afternoon tea times, and just do every last thing together. It really was one of the best times in my life.

11. Delium is not really my neighbor- he lives one neighborhood away from me, but the fact that he and I went to college together in a teeny tiny Michigan town and all these years later we both live across the country within one mile of each other, and we didn't even do that on purpose, is pretty weird. But great.

12. The Soggy Librarian and I were work friends for a little while. Well, more like work acquaintances that were friendly. I always sort of had a friendcrush on her, but we never really did anything outside of work. One day, we were at a meeting, and she told me that she had bought a house on my street. I remember, in that moment, having a sort of Wayne Campbell thing happen where I thought "You will be my friend now. Oh yes. You will be my friend." Creepy? Ok fine. But I was right.

And now, Biogirl. We have been through thick and thin together, the two of us, but one thing we have never done is to be neighbors. Until now. Yippee!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Woman of Character Part 2

As an addendum to my conversation with Nordic Boy about which characters remind him of me, I have a post script.

First of all, I asked him why he said Baltar. He just shrugged and said "Because he's funny. And you're funny." So you see that he either did not put a lot of thought into that choice or he just doesn't want to tell me to my face that he thinks I am an unscrupulous weirdo.

Second of all, after the indignity of being compared to Baltar, I asked Delium what fictional characters reminded him of me. Without even thinking, he said "Oliver Twist!"

Oliver fucking Twist? ME?

Me: We can't leave it at that. Give me another one.
Delium: Brian Cooper from Dr. Quinn Medicine woman.


First of all, Delium pulled Dr. Quinn out of his ass, am I right? Second of all, you might be asking yourself who Brian Cooper is. Check this out.

So, apparently, to Delium, I remind him of little blond boys from the olden days. Oliver Twist and Brian Cooper.

I don't even know what to think. Except that I will never ask anyone that question ever again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Consumables #33

Hope you all had a loverly Thanksgiving! We were invited to a couple of T-Day celebrations but after the week I just had, we decided to ditch them and stay home for the day. I finally got that cozy snow day that I had been longing for, where we slept in (and I have now firmly established myself as a Very Old Lady because "sleeping in" in my world means that we got up at 8:30), walked around in the snow (this time for more than 10 minutes), read on the couch, cooked, and beat the shit out of each other on the Wii. For dinner, Biogirl came over and we ate, talked, and watched a movie. I realized that this was the first Thanksgiving in a long time where we weren't hosting a shindig or going to someone else's hootenanny. It was nice.

Also, this week:

It was on tv, so we watched it. There is a scene in this movie that made Nordic Boy laugh until he cried and almost passed out. It's the scene where Will Farrell belches for a really long time. That's all, nothing else. If there are two things that will make Nordic Boy pee his pants laughing, it's a long belch and someone getting hit in the nuts. I hate to get all gender-stereotypey, but is that a guy thing? I don't know. I mean, I think it's funny too, yes. But weeping with hilarity? I don't know. I love to see him laugh that hard though.

Love, Actually
I want to answer my phone by saying "Hello, I'm very busy and important, how can I help you?" from now on.

Longoria Affair
I started to tell someone about this movie and they were all "they already made a MOVIE about Eva Longoria's divorce?" But nopes, this one is a documentary about the first Mexican American soldier to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary because people would not allow him a military burial in his hometown due to his ethnicity. Tony Parker does not appear.

Home for the Holidays
"Par par bogey bogey par par."

The Last Stand, by Nathaniel Philbrick
Almost done with this, and it turns out Custer was a total dick. 500 pages to learn that shocker. I knew the history of this battle pretty well going in, but the details in this account, especially about each person involved, were pretty dang fascinating. Old Man Book, score!

Blister in the Sun, by Violent Femmes
I heard this song this morning and thought about how, when I was a kid, I thought the counting part was just, you know, counting. I didn't realize what he was counting. Because of that, I still think of it as a sort of cute counting song, along the lines of something one would hear on Sesame Street. Note to self: don't sing this as a lullaby while babysitting.

When I was a teenager, I was in choir. We did everything, from the full Mozart Coronation Mass to holiday carols in Middle English to showtunes to pop songs. One year, we did a song called Fruitcake, for our December concert. It was the stupidest, silliest crap you have ever heard, and we had full on choreography to spice it up even more. I had never heard of that song before that, nor after. The only other person I have ever met that knows that song is my friend Nan, who was also in choir in high school. This got me thinking that maybe the song only exists in the vortex that is high school choir or show choir. Then, I got on the magical interwebs and confirmed. Many kids' choirs are being subjected to Fruitcake, The Song. And many of them are attempting choreography to go along with it. Because when you sing about a nasty holiday loaf, you must dance, or at the very least pantomime about it, am I right?

This rendition is awesome. Not because it's the most polished, but just because these kids are embracing the cheese, and you all know how much I love that. Plus they have a sort of robot style that I am digging. Robots, Fruitcake, Show Choir. Three things that should always go together.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Woman of Character

There's a meme going around Facebook that says to list 15 characters that are like you, or that have influenced you, or something.

Me: What fictional characters remind you of me?
Nordic Boy: Lorelei Gilmore.
Me: Nice.
Nordic Boy: And Elaine Benis.
Me: I guess I can see that.
Nordic Boy: And Captain Picard.
Me: You can stop listing now. It's getting weird.
Nordic Boy: And...Gaius Baltar.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I feel like I haven't posted in weeks. It's only been a few days, but in those days, we got about 4-5 inches worth of snow in Seattle. And in case I have never mentioned it before, Seattle goes NUTS when there is snow. I used to think this was really weird, being from the Midwest where this much snow was a regular day in winter and could hardly be categorized as a blizzard. But now, I see why people go nuts. It's because of the hills. Holy spinout, the HILLS. Driving in snow is all well and dandy when things are flat like they were where I grew up. But steep inclines and tons of snow and ice? It's a fricking nightmare.

Because the Library is a vital city service we have to stay open as much as we can. I know that many of you may think that an urban library system is a nice thing to have, and you may be making a face at my using the word vital, but trust me. There are thousands of people who do not have access to computers. That should go without saying, but I am always sort of amazed about the number of people who don't know this. And if you need a computer to access things like applying for food stamps, and unemployment, and military benefits, and checking email and whatever else, if the library shuts down for a few days, you're fucked. Not to mention people who don't have adequate heat in weather like this and just want to come in for a while to not freeze their balls off.

What that means, for all of my colleagues, is that we kind of break our necks to stay open as much as we possibly can. And what that means for me personally, is that I spend a lot of time when I am not at work calling people and figuring out who can come to work and who can't, and trying to come up with enough folks to open our doors. Which means that I pretty much am working from 6am until 10 or 11 at night, either at work, or at home.

I'm not saying this to complain. I am just saying it because the downside to snow days in Libraryland, for me, is that I am so in work land, in my head, that I sort of miss out on enjoying the snow. I forget to take a moment to make some hot chocolate and curl up on my couch and watch it come down outside.

Yesterday, Nordic Boy forced me to drop the worky stuff for 10 minutes so we could go for a walk before going to work. "Just walk around the block with me!" he said. "I can't!" I said. "TEN MINUTES," he said. And so I did.

We tromped around, and watched all the kids sledding down our hilly street, and we held each other by both hands and slid around on purpose, pretending to be (very, very clumsy) figure skaters. It was a good ten minutes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Geezer Book Love

In lieu of my usual laundry-list style consumables this week, I am going to focus on one thing. And that thing is the Joy of the Old Man Book.

If you are a person who is interested in books or the publishing industry at all, you probably know that there is something out there called Chick Lit. I'm not going to try to define what Chick Lit is, because that term is hotly debated and you can hear about that whole mess in many other places besides here. But we can all probably say- whether we agree with the term or not- that we kinda sorta know what is meant when people talk about Chick Lit. We know, or at least we think we know, that it's a way to market to a demographic. The term originally probably came from some Don Draper type. And I agree with the critics of the term that it's come to mean something derogatory and dismissive. All I have to say about that, in my uber articulate way is: not cool.

However! I do have to say that grouping books into a sort of reader profile can be pretty helpful sometimes when part of your job is to recommend books to hundreds and hundreds of stangers. If someone says that they like Jodi Picoult, and you ask them what exactly it is about Jodi Picoult that they like, what they say might lead you to recommend Anna Quindlen. Or if they say something different about Picoult, you might say Nicholas Sparks would be the direction to try. Or if something else was said, you might try Alice Hoffman with that person. And so on. But things that seem really similar can sometimes totally bomb. People that love Jackie Collins don't automatically love Danielle Steel or Judith Krantz. A lot of the time they do, but not all the time.

There is a science and an art to reader's advisory, and we librarians spend a lot of time thinking about how to do it well. We write books about it, we have meetings to talk about best practices about it. We set up databases about it. We have lots and lots of theoretical discussions about it. It is a bonafide Big Hairy Deal to us. So although there is a part of me that despises the term Chick Lit, there is also a part of my brain that sees that term as just as legitimate of a place to start to talk books with someone as anything else. It's a complicated alchemy, people's taste in books. And in my experience, readers have a hard time explaining what they love about a book (people usually are much more articulate about why they hated a book, however, which is a whole other can of beans). So if they want to use the term Chick Lit when they tell me what they like or don't like, I go with it and start from there. If there are common terms that help people have some language to tell me what they like, so much the better for me to do my job well.

Unfortunately, there aren't very many terms like that that are commonly used by people. It's up to us librarians to decipher what people mean when they say very subjective things like "I like things that are really well written," or "I want a real page turner" or "I like things with really interesting characters." That's usually a place for the librarian to start digging for other clues by talking with the person and asking a lot of questions to figure out what they mean.

I confess that I have little profiles in my head for common reader's advisory questions that I get. There's Legal Thriller Guy (or Girl), and there's Cozy Mystery Girl (or Guy), and there's Dystopian Sci-Fi Lady (or Dude), and there's Political Biography Dude (or Lady). This isn't to limit what I am going to recommend to the point where it's restrictive, but it does give me a ballpark from which to start. Sometimes that ballpark will end up with a result that makes the person happy, and sometimes the person lets me know that I have totally misread what ballpark I think they are in at all. ("Oh, you like House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford AND Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie because they are both set in Seattle! I get it. So tell me more about...")

One of the profiles that I have discovered is what I have termed, in my own mind, the Old Man Book. Please forgive me, as I understand that this profile is sexist and ageist in much the same way as Chick Lit is, but there you have it. The Old Man Book has to do with the following topics: wars (most usually The Civil War and both World Wars), certain very specific historical figures (US Presidents, Lewis and Clark to name two), the history of baseball and maybe football (Satchel Page! Knute Rockne!), various forms of nautical-ness (The Master and Commander series, viking exploration, Christopher Columbus), and such-like.

Of all the profiles above, I see how they can be a bit helpful at times, but only as a starting point. Because when I think about how I read, I can fit into any one of those profiles, depending on the book and depending on the day. I can be Cozy Mystery Lady, or Dystopian Sci-Fi Lady, or Political Biography Lady, or Celebrity Tell-All Lady, or Esoteric Philosphy Lady, or Comic Book Geeky Lady, Or Travel Memoir Lady, or Magical Realism Lady, or Paranormal Romance Lady. People usually aren't their profile, or just one profile. And part of the fun of being a librarian is helping someone discover something outside of their norm. Or even helping them discover something in their norm. Just helping them discover something is the fun part.

But let me just confess this. It's true I can and do read in all of the profiles above, and more. But if I am going to be real here, I have to tell you. There is a big part of my reading tastes that GETS OFF on the Old Man Book. My brand of Old Man Books tends to be historical. World Wars, Civil War, Revolutionary War. Oh yeah. I love it. Love, love, love it. Demographically, I guess I "should" be more of a Chick Lit reader. But in some ways I am more Statler and Waldorf and less Carrie Bradshaw. Maybe a lot of ways.

I just checked out The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn and I am going to crack into that 500 page sucker today. And I CAN NOT WAIT. Don't hate. Appreciate.

On a related note, I really want this t-shirt

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do Me a Solid

The other morning as we were getting ready for our day, Nordic Boy's phone rang. It was one of his sisters calling from Ohio. She's thinking of buying a car and she wanted his advice. Nordic Boy has four sisters. And when they need advice: about life, about relationships, about money, about anything, they call him up. This fact never ceases to amaze the living daylights out of me. Like, sometimes I just sit there and stare at him while he is having these conversations with them. That's how much it fascinates me.

Don't get me wrong. Nordic Boy is a great person to talk to, and his advice on things is stellar. He's a smarty, and a great listener, and he will tell you the truth no matter what, and he's kind. So really, a perfect advice-giving blend. That's not the part that blows my mind. The part that blows my mind is that his sisters-- his SISTERS-- call him when they need something.

My siblings? Call me up to ask me for advice about something?


I've got two brothers and a sister. And I love them all. But the day that any one of them would have a Life Issue and think to themselves "Self, I need to pick up that phone and ask Librarian Girl what she thinks about this one," is the day that sparkle fairies fly out of my crack.

Why is this, I wonder. It's not a question of birth order, as Nordic Boy is not the oldest in his family. It's not a question of competence (um, I don't think), as I am a fully functioning member of adultkind. So I don't know what it is. I have called upon my siblings from time to time. Sure, not that often, but it has been known to happen. Like, maybe I've done that once every couple of years or so. But them, calling me? Not. gonna. happen.

I have to admit, this bugs me. You've never wanted to know my opinion about something, people who have known me our whole entire lives? Anything? NEVER? Like, never, ever? Ever?

Apparently, nope. Not ever.

Why should that matter?

I think I can illustrate it best using an anecdote about one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard my brother give. (Talking about why it bugs me that my siblings don't ever ask me for advice via a story about advice given by my sibling? HOW META CAN YOU GET?)

A few years ago, my brother was visiting me in Seattle and we went out for lunch with Neighbor J. Neighbor J had just moved into a new house, and there was an elderly couple that shared a driveway with her. The wife was sweet to Neighbor J from the start. The husband was a bit gruff. Neighbor J knew that the husband had a sweet interior in there somewhere (grumpster with a heart of gold, party of one), and she was trying as hard as she could to connect with him, but it wasn't working. She wanted to have good relationships with her new neighbors, and she was pulling out all the stops, being as chatty and smiley as she could be, but it wasn't working. She was starting to think that Grumpy Husband might never come around.

My brother's main cache in life is that he is charming. He can charm the pants off of anyone,(and when we were younger that could be quite literal: I don't know how many times I had to tell my girlfriends YOU CANNOT DATE MY BROTHER SO JUST LOOK AWAY because that would be too weird for me). And so he listened to Neighbor J lament about her grumpy neighbor, and this is what he said:

"You know what you need to do? You just need to ask him to do something for you. Come up with a favor and then ask him to help you. That'll thaw him right out."

And then we just sat there for a moment. What? Why would that solve anything? Ask him to do something for you? Why?

Neighbor J let that one sink in. And then she went home and tried it. I believe she had a busted up tv or something in her garage, and she knew that Grumpy Husband was a retired engineer, and so she asked him to fix it. And he did. And he softened. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They're still friends, even now. He came to her baby shower, and her 30th birthday party. They're buds.

I never forgot that piece of advice. I thought it was pretty dang good. My brother, the Yoda of Charm School. Asking someone to do you a favor is powerful. It shows them you respect them, and you trust them to help you with something, and of all the people in the world to ask, you chose them. You're honoring their experience, their expertise. You see them. People appreciate that.

Anyway. I was thinking about that the other day, as Nordic Boy chatted away on the phone with his sister, and how true it was. There has never been a doubt in my mind that Nordic Boy's entire family not only loves him, but holds him in the highest esteem. They respect him, a lot. I've been really moved by how they treat that dude on many an occassion. It's really beautiful, actually, and I never really broke down what it was that got me about it. But that's what it is. And that's sort of what made me feel wistful about my siblings. I know they love me. But that particular brand of showing it? I've missed out on that from them my whole life. So when I see it happening constantly in the Nordic Boy clan, it just gets me.

Then, over the weekend, I got a call from my other brother. And he was thinking about this thing he had to do for work, and did I know of any resources that could help him with it?

I could have fallen over. Really. It was a small conversation, totally off the cuff, but it shifted something for me. It's hard to explain what I mean. I just felt...something different. I don't know, maybe it was the tremor I was feeling in my hindquarters from those sparkle fairies, or something.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Poker? I don't even know her! Har har har

This weekend, I:

*was treated to a delicious pan of homemade baked mushroom ravioli made by my Nordic Boy. Rainy evening plus gooey dinner = happy belly.

* went to a show featuring the works of Twyla Tharp. I had the privilege of taking a master class in choreography from Ms. Tharp back in the day, and I am so grateful that I got to soak in wisdom from such a legendary figure, so please don't misunderstand what I am about to say, because I really admire her and think she is awesome. But the half-day I spent in her presence? Gave me the distinct impression that she was weird. In that creative, neurotic way, yes, but still. Wee-yerd. Like, woo-woo. Can you give me specifics? I hear you ask. No, I really don't want to get into it. Just take my word for it. And I suppose if you know anything about dance then you know about Ms. Tharp and this news probably isn't that shocking to you. She's not known for being unweird, let's just say that. The point is that now when I see her work, I just sort of can't stop thinking about how strange a creature she is. And I see her work through the prism of that one slice of time I spent around her. It colors things. Not sure if that's good or bad, but in a way I wish I could turn that memory off when I see her stuff. Does that even make sense? Am I talking shit? Look who's woo-woo now.

We were literally in the very back row. Because we are cheap asses.

*had another delicous meal, this time with friends. My friend Sameer is one of those foodie people who geeks out over food and makes amazing feasts from time to time. My mom is a gourmet cook and there were times, growing up, that I felt like people would befriend her after tasting something she made, merely in the hope that she would make them more food- I shit you not. She knew when people were doing that, and resented it. It's for that reason that I would like to go on record to say that I would totally be friends with Sameer if he couldn't cook a lick- he has many other qualities that make him awesome. But, I would be remiss if I didn't say that the killer cooking is a MAJOR BONUS. I mean oh my GOD. We got to have some fancied up rice, chick pea stew and sweet and sour pumpkin. The carnivores in the group got pomegranate chicken. Just saying what we had doesn't describe the experience, and I wasn't going to whip out my phone to take a photo in the middle of a dinner party, but dang. It was dee-lish-ussss.

*played poker with a group of friends. Like, for real poker. I have never really done that before. Sure, the ante was only $5 and we were betting nickels and quarters, but still. It was for reals, with people who knew what they were doing. I was the dumbshit newbie who had to be told everything, like everything (really, says me, two pair beats one pair? You DON'T SAY!), but my friends are patient and I started to pick it up by the end. Although I didn't win by a long shot, I am proud to say that I walked away from the table up by FOUR BUCKS. Look out, Vegas.

*started to think about sending out holiday cards this year. Have you started any holiday planning, shopping, listmaking? If you're doing that, you should totally shop at Neighbor J's Etsy shop. So many cute things, I know. Just buy one of everything.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Consumables #32

Before I get to the Consumables, let me just tell you this. Nordic Boy and I went out for breakfast yesterday at a restaurant.I ordered my breakfast, with a side of roasted potatoes. The food came, and there were no potatoes. The server said "I'm forgetting something, aren't I?" and I said, yes. The potatoes. She said oh yes, and she would go get them, and off she went. We started to eat and minutes went by. And more minutes. And more. The next time she came by, I flagged her down. I am unfailingly, painfully polite to servers, because I think they have a super hard job and I know they get a lot of shit from cranky people. Plus I don't want them to do weird shit to my food. "I'm sorry, but any word on those potatoes?" She looked surprised, said she was sorry, and said they were coming. I think you know where this is going. Soon, I flagged down a different server. I thought maybe appealing to a third party about the potatoes would help somehow. Could he broker a deal that would get me my potatoes? He was also apologetic, and I saw him go over to our server and talk with her. So anyway. The potatoes never showed up. And our server never came back to explain why. She just came back at the end of our meal to clear our plates and ask us if everything was ok. I said yes, except I never got those potatoes. She smiled serenely and said, "yes, sorry about that" and went on her way. And then she brought us our bill. And the potatoes weren't on there, but I was sort of galled at this. Shouldn't she have given us a free dessert or not charged us for our orange juice or something? Or at least seem a show of concern about the potatoes? Right?

This is the part where I hear Nordic Boy in my head saying "OH MY GOD ENOUGH ABOUT THE POTATOES."

Ok, that is all. I shall never mention the phantom potatoes again.

A play:
On Wednesday night, some friends of ours scored free tickets to see the play The Scarlet Letter. It was pretty good. There are a few parts of the play where Hester and Dimmesdale (oh Hester, couldn't you have picked a dude with a sexier name?) make out, hot and heavy. Although it didn't make me uncomfortable, it did occur to me that it's not very often in life where it's totally socially acceptable to stare at people while they are hardcore sucking face. In movies, sure, but not right up in person. We were in the 5th row. I could see when they were using tongue and when they weren't. A room full of us, old and young, all staring in silence. I've seen plays with nudity and much more racy content than this one had. I've been in strip clubs, burlesque shows, that sort of thing, sure. But for some reason this thought has never occurred to me. Maybe because prolonged kissing seems more intimate somehow, or something.

A tv show:
Nordic Boy and I have not been spending a ton of time at home this week, and when we are home, we're tired. As a result of this, plus the uber-coziness of the weather and the time change, we have been wanting to watch something beloved, something that makes us feel warm and snuggly. So, we re-started watching Deadwood. Hey, for some people, holing up and watching Miracle on 34th Street makes them feel fuzzy inside. For us, it's watching dirty people call each other cocksuckers in flowery borderline blank verse.

A book:
Nordic Boy is a big reader, but he does not read fiction. Ever. I really don't think I have ever seen him read anything fiction, not even once. Nordic Boy is also someone who is a fan of the Harry Potter movies. Not the books, since, obviously, he has never read them. He is dying to know what happens in the last installment. He keeps asking me, "what happens in the last book? How does it end?" For those of you who have read the last book, I think you will understand that there is no way in hell I can summarize that shit. Too many things happen. He just needs to wait for the movie to come out, or read the dang book. But he can't wait, and he won't read that book. So, I went out and got the goldarn Sparknotes for it. Yes I did. This week, before we went to bed, Nordic Boy asked me to read him the first chapter aloud. "We can do a chapter a night," he said.

I started to read, and although I am paraphrasing, it really did go something like this:

"Snape and Voldemort meet. Snape tells Voldemort where Harry is hiding and what day he is going to be moved to another location. Deatheater Yaxley disagrees and says it's a different date. Voldemort believes Snape, showing his confidence in him. Voldemort then kills a Hogwarts professor who has been captured."

Me: (closing the book)
Nordic Boy: That's Chapter One?
Me: Yep.
Nordic Boy: Maybe we'll read a few chapters every night.
Me: (opening the book) Good idea.

A song:
I had yesterday off for Veteran's Day. This made Wednesday feel like Friday, and yesterday felt like Saturday in the morning, but Sunday at night. Today I woke up totally thinking it was Monday. On my favorite radio station, KEXP, the morning DJ tends to play "You Push, I'll Go," by Baby Dayliner on Friday mornings. It was only on my drive in to work, when that song came on, that I realized it was Friday and that the weekend is almost here. That song has a Pavlovian response for me. I hear it and I get happy. Friday! Sweet!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Making an Exit

This weekend, Biogirl came over because she needed a picture taken of herself for her work website, and she nominated me as the photographer. That girl is so funny about getting her photo taken, you guys. I know that many people don't like getting their photos taken, and it's not my favorite thing either, but really, I would love to see Biogirl as a contestant on America's Next Top Model. Although I think it might kill her dead from sheer self-consciousness though, so no, I guess I don't want to see that.

Anyway, so we walked to a local park and I took pretty pictures of my pretty friend. Except maybe I wasn't the best choice in terms of photographer. Not that I take a particularly bad photo- I am ok. But she was really, really not comfortable. And I am not the person in her life to make her calm down in situations like that. Actually, all I did was make her giggle more. And more. I have a friend, Andrea, who is a professional photographer, and I have had the privilege of sitting for photos by her a number of times. She is a master at making one feel comfy and natural. I kept thinking of Andrea. How does she do that? It's like she has a potion for photo confidence that she slips you or something. A smile-and-relax mickey. I tried to channel Andrea, but really, it was kind of a failure. I am prone to get the giggle fits with that Biogirl anyway, and so really it was doomed from the get-go. Luckily, she is head of the Pretty Committee so getting a good shot turned out ok.

After that, Nordic Boy, Delium and I walked to lunch (gorgeous autumn days, still with us, thank you baby jeebus). Delium announced that he had heard of something that CHANGED HIS LIFE. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard the phrase "...and it CHANGED MY LIFE..." come out of Delium, I would be sailing a yacht into early retirement by now. But that's just how that guy is. It's endearing. So I decided to adopt the Change My Life stance for the afternoon. We tried a new restaurant and I said that if it was good, it was going to Change My Life! As soon as I said it, Delium lit up. "NOW, you are speaking my language, lady!" What does it say when you can make fun of someone right to their face and they not only know what you are doing, they love you for doing it?

Later that night, I took some of my clothes to a clothing swap party and fundraiser for a local queer youth organization. We piled all of our clothes in a pile and went through them to see if we wanted to take home anything anyone else broughted. I had made a dinner date with Nordic Boy for after, which meant that I dropped my stuff off, talked to my friends, picked out a few sweet items, and then maintained my reign of First Person to Leave A Party. I don't know how it always ends up that way, but it just does. I guess I am just classy that way.

When The Soggy Librarian got married, I showed up to the venue and took my seat. The minute the ceremony was over, people started to move into the dining area to get their reception on. I grabbed my sweater and put it on, just because I was cold. My friend Jennifer looked at me and said, "Oh, are you leaving? Have a good night!" She thought that I was going to just waltz right on out of there before people had even gotten up from their chairs post-ceremony. And I don't blame her for thinking that. She's known me long enough to see that it's usually the back of my head that you see at a party, gliding out the door before people have even finished their first drink.

I really should work on that habit. If I did, I am sure it would CHANGE MY LIFE.

Monday, November 08, 2010

True Blue

Saturday, I gotta tell you, I was feeling a bit blue. I worked at the library all day, which was a good day. The library was packed and I got to work out on the public floor helping patrons for a lot of my day and there is nothing like my job, sometimes, to make a person feel useful. Helping person after person, with all kinds of problems to be solved (what book to read next? how to write an effective resume? how to study for citizenship test? where are historical photos of my house? and on, and on, and on). There really isn't anything like it.

But still, I was blue.

The reason I was blue was because I knew that that very evening, my favorite Michigan girls were getting together for a birthday bash for Alli. They were going to meet up at a super fancy restaurant in Detroit (they do TOO have those in Detroit) for eatsie eatsie drinky drinky, and then stumble up to a block of rooms in the Westin in the wee hours for some semblance of shut-eye.

They, over there. And me, over here. I love Seattle, I really do. And I don't want to leave my adopted city. But at times like this? I want to tear my hair out for lack of a transporter. I WANTED TO GO SEE MY LADIES. SOOOOO BAD. Like, bad. Really, really bad. Bad.

I felt a little misty as I drove home from work that night, if you want to know what a big baby poopy pants I was being about the whole thing.

I got home, and I got into my pajamas, and Nordic Boy got us take-out Chinese food, and we settled in to watch the sixth Harry Potter movie (geek alert: we've been re-watching them all to prep for the new one coming out this month).

And that's when the texts started.

My Michigan girls, they totally didn't forget me. They texted me funny texts the whole. entire. night. They emailed me photos of them getting more and more sloshed as the night went on. My favorite is of Alli and Nicole, both holding up their glasses and laughing. Alli has her eyes half-closed, and Nicole is leaning on Alli so hard that her head is pretty much horizontal. Map sent me the photo with the caption "There will be puking."

So we texted back and forth while the party went on. And near the end of the night, they called me. Put me on speaker phone so I could hear their crazy sweet voices, and then took me off speaker phone and passed the phone around.

Those girls.

Here's the thing. If you are my peeps, you're my peeps. Unless you did something assholey and I have made an intentional decision to cut you out (and you'd know it if I did), you're staying my peeps. But one thing I don't do, the older I get, is conduct one-sided friendships. If I ask you to do something once, twice, three times (a lady...), and you don't respond to me? I'm going to stop asking, even though you, as far as I am concerned, are still my peeps. Because if you aren't thinking about me, or valuing my time, or my effort, then you're drawing a boundary for yourself there, and I totally respect that. My tactic when this happens is to just lay low, and still show the person that I am around if they want to see me, but I'm not chasing anyone. That's just a waste of time, really. Most of the time, people will drift away, but then eventually, they come back. That's the way life is. People get distracted by life, or they take people for granted, or they think they have outgrown the people who love them.

But then, there are some people that just don't let that shit happen.

Those are my Michigan girls. They don't get distracted by life. They don't get careless and then make excuses. They don't take me for granted. They grow and change, and I grow and change, and we all live very different lives now, but that doesn't break the bond, because the bond is tended. Not every day, but often, and always when it counts. For over thirty-fricking-years of our lives. The next time you let a day go by that you aren't honoring your friendships, think of these ladies. They are the gold standard. The best word I can think of for them is: true. They stay true to me.

Maybe that's where the term true friend comes from. I guess I had never thought about that before.

I'm not feeling so blue anymore.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Full of hot air

Man, that last post was entirely too cohesive. Who the hell do I think I am? Now, back to my regularly scheduled randomosity. In list form. All disjointed-like.

1. The weather for the last few days has been gorg-wah. Is there an emoticon for pursing all your fingers together and then kissing them into the air? Because, mwah! It has been clear skies, warm (this week saw 70 degrees), with a lovely breeze that blows all the autumn leaves around. The other day, Nordic Boy and I took a long walk and went through a park off the beaten path. For some reason, there was no one there, which is a rarity on a lovely day in the city. We kicked leaves around. The awesome weather is over now, but man, it was nice while it lasted.

2. My sister sent me photos of her kids on Halloween. My niece, who is almost-thirteen, has gone into a phase where she just wants to dress weird for Halloween. No character, no theme. Just get a bunch of crazy clothes and a crazy wig. I had sort of forgotten this, but I had a phase like that too. All of a sudden I didn't care to be a witch or even something esoteric and clever. I just wanted to get my weird on. It wasn't because I was a conservative/timid dresser and Halloween was an excuse to experiment with weird. I actually dressed pretty, um, expressively anyway. Same with my niece. I went through that phase right at the same age as she is now. This makes me wonder if there is some sort of cognitive developmental thing going on, where kids that age are thinking more abstractly or something. Or maybe it's just my niece and I, and true weirdness in our family DNA kicks in at age 12. On Halloween.

3. I went out for a happy hour dinner with K8 the other night and we had hush puppies. I know hush puppies are big in the south, and in the midwest they make an appearance here and there, but in the Pacific Northwest? NEVER. Really, I never see them. So she and I were kind of overly excited about the hush puppies. Ok, well, maybe just me.

4. Speaking of puppies, when I am referring to a bunch of things, I always say "those puppies." As in "zombie movies? Those puppies are scary." Nordic Boy, on the other hand, always says "those bad boys." As in "our new gutters? Those bad boys keep out the leaves!" I never say those bad boys. He never says those puppies. I am convinced that there will come a day when one of us has to cross over to the other side, and whoever holds out longest wins.

5. Last night Nordic Boy and I went out to dinner, and our friends Tanya and Alan were going to join us for dessert. When we got there, the restaurant gave us a table for 4, even though we would be 2 for the first couple of hours. So...we were That Couple who sat next to each other for dinner, rather than across the table from each other. I decided that I was going to order a puff-pastry mushroom thingy, and he decided to get mashed-potato-stuffed tacos. And then, at the last second, he ordered the mushroom thing too! I felt betrayed to be copied in such a fashion. The result was that not only were we the Sitting Next to Each Other Couple, we were also the Order The Same Thing Couple, all in one.

6. As we ate, we eavesdropped a little on the table in our sightline (come on, everyone does that, right?). It was an older lady who looked like Margaret Thatcher, pearls and big hair and all. We giggled a bit as she opened her mouth and an English accent came out (was it Margaret Thatcher?). She said to the waiter "My dear, DO tell the chef that the chocolate tartlet was DIVINE." Our chuckles at this ceased immediately as we then witnessed her lean to the side and let out a long, squeaky tootie from her booty. Seriously, our forks stopped in mid-air as we tried to process what we had just seen in the fancy restaurant. I understand that sometimes people might let a toot fly unintentionally, but the LEAN TO THE SIDE to let it free? My dear, DO tell the lady that the one-cheek-sneak was not DIVINE.

7. I can't bear to leave you with that image. How about this? I visited with The Soggy Librarian yesterday and her offspring (who I am unabashedly in love with and can't seem to stop buying clothes for) barfed all over me. And I loved every minute of it.
The shirt? From Auntie Me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My Youth in The Booth

Happy voting day, everyone!

My state has mail-in ballots so voting day is more of a deadline than a day. I kind of miss going to my local polling place and voting, but I am totally down with how easy it is when my ballot is mailed to me way in advance and I can fill that puppy out in my own time, while eating bon bons in my jammies if I so choose.

I remember tagging along with my folks for voting when I was a kid. I adored it. It took place in the gym of the local middle school and the polling ladies were all over 60, with set hair and foul mouths and smiles and a working-class Mrs. Roper-ish style. My mom knew all of them and while they chatted one of them usually slipped me a piece of gum. I loved those ladies. I'd go in the booth with my mom and watch her pull the lever. I had parents that usually let me do the exciting-for-a-little-kid things like push the button in the elevator or lick the stamp for the outgoing mail, but I never got to push any voting machine button. It was made clear to me without them saying it that this was Grownup Stuff, and that I could have the privilege when I was big.

Then there were the times when we would be back to the homeland during an election. Fiji only gained independence in 1970, so voting was not a joke when I was there. No one was jaded about it, no one I knew had anything but respect and seriousness about it. The thing I remember most was one time I was talking to my cousin Veneeta when I was about 10 years old on election day there. I asked her who she had voted for to be the next prime minister, and she scolded me HARD. "That's private!" she said. And then lectured me. This struck me as so odd, and so upside down. If there was one thing I knew about my relatives in Fiji, it was that "private" was not something that they referred to often. Hell, ever. I never heard anyone use the word private there in my life. As much as I loved going there, the thing that was often the hardest for me to adjust to was the sheer lack of privacy, about everything. People asked you all about your business. No one had their own room, no one had their own stuff. People shared everything. Solitude was tolerated if you were outside, but going in a room and shutting the door (unless it was the bathroom) was just not done. So, if you want to be alone, you go for a walk along the beach. You don't sit in a room by yourself. No one lives alone there, not that I ever saw. I don't even know how you would do that- the society just isn't set up for it. It's communal, in a very real and true way, and for all the upsides to that (and there are a million), one thing you don't have is privacy. And that was and continues to be a hard thing for me, the American cousin, to get with.

And so what was this thing about voting being private? It wasn't like politics weren't talked about and debated. I had seen too many late-night beer-soaked debates among my relatives about politics to think that this was anything to keep quiet about. People would let their opinions fly, no problem. But my cousin, open and un-private as the rest of my family on just about everything, was drawing the line about asking who she had voted for. And she wasn't the only one. It seemed universally agreed upon, this secret voting thing. They would talk all they wanted before voting, but when it came to each person in the voting booth, that was between them and their conscience. Period.

I would like to think that, had I only grown up in this country and not spent so much time in Fiji, that I would have gotten this same message about voting somehow. When I would go to vote with my mom, it was back in the day when there were still little curtained-off booths for each person to vote in. No one ever verbalized to me that there was a reason for the curtained-off booth, that there were places both here and abroad that made that secrecy extremely necessary and that we shouldn't forget that, ever. I think I would have absorbed that message from the booth. But I am still glad that I had cousin Veneeta to tell me off so that it really hit me hard and made me think, if not when I was 10, at least later on.

Now that we (at least in my state) have done away with the secret booth for voting, I wonder if anything is being lost? Overall, I think the benefits outweigh the costs, since I think more people are able to vote this way that would be disenfranchised if they had to make it to a polling place on a particular day. (Although I haven't looked up evidence to support that thought, so I could be talking crap again). But I hope that kids that grow up in the current era where we don't have voting booths anymore have some way to connect viscerally with the individual dignity of the act of voting. That's all I'm saying. And I love eating my bon bons in my jammies while I fill in the bubbles as much as the next person.

Monday, November 01, 2010

My costume? Rip Van Winkle.

On Friday, I was sitting at work in the afternoon, and I started to feel tired. Not my usual tired, because I am often tired (pass the Geritol, people), but bone-crushingly tired. So when I got home, I went to sleep. Well, actually, if you want to use a medical term, I conked out.

Over the next 36 hours, I slept 17 of them. I don't know what that was, but it was powerful. Other than an annoying but slight sneezy nose, I didn't have any other symptoms. I got up and ate meals. Nothing achy or breaky. But man, I was OUT.

At 10am Saturday morning, Nordic Boy woke me and asked me if we were still going to make our costumes. I said yes. Come hell or high water, I was going to the goddamn Halloween party I was invited to. He got the supplies. He started to make the costumes. When I still hadn't woken up by 2pm, he was starting to get doubtful. He came in and woke me up again, and I could barely keep my eyes open to say "yes...we are still...going."

Yeah, we didn't go. And you guys, I am SO BUMMED.

I am not the best costume-get-up lady. I do it every year, and I am ok at it. I'd give myself a C minus, really, for costume awesomeness. Maybe D-plus. Part of it is that I don't really like making costumes, although buying one is just too much for me to bear because I am a tightwad. And once I have made a costume (ok, once Nordic Boy has made me a costume), I don't know. I just am never 100% jazzed about it. You know me. I have holiday angst no matter what holiday it is. I would question the existential implications of Arbor Day, given the chance.

But man, to miss it this year? I never miss it! And seriously, I was heartbroken. And now I finally figured out what is so awesome about Halloween: my awesome Halloween-obsessed friends. Because these folks? They DO IT UP. And going in my half-ass lame-oid costume is so worth it, just to witness the genius.

I'm not overstating when I say that. THE GENIUS.

So yesterday, I woke up all refreshed and feeling dandy, and over the total bummer that was Saturday, and I spent the day doing one of my favorite things: buying presents for folks. I bought two birthday presents, and two just-because presents (the best kind) and mailed them, which always puts me in a great mood.

But today, I am looking at all the Facebook photos of the party I missed, and I am super bummed all over again. GODDAMN WEIRD SLEEPING SICKNESS.

Anyway-here's a taste of the party from my friend B. Say it with me, everyone. The GENIUS.