Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And 2009 draws nigh

The other day Nick asked if we were making resolutions.

"We? You can."

And I really wasn't going to. And then I thought, you know, you can always be a better person. You can resolve to be more patient, kinder, gentler. So I think those are my resolutions.

I sat down and thought about it, and I have got to say that this is the first year in a long, long time that I am ending on a truly grateful note.

I don't know that I was necessarily bitter before (although in some moments I was) but I can't say that I was grateful to the universe. The couple years prior to this one involved some pretty immense struggles, some really dark, pit of despair times.

And when things sucked, and I thought they couldn't get any suckier, I learned that sometimes, things actually can. I cried a lot. A lot lot lot.

So I didn't necessarily end the year all, yay!

By the end of last year, I'd fallen for Nick, but my intense Internet dating dating and more dating experiences leading up to him had taught me to be cautious, to expect the worst, to deflect, to dodge. And so this time last year, while I adored him, I was still being pretty careful.

Me? I was not getting hurt again.

And then somewhere in January the feeling settled that actually, he was right and honest and true, and that we were in fact going to be together always and forever, barring a weird blimp accident. Or a sudden and unexpected marriage proposal by Jon Stewart.

I'm kidding of course. Blimp accidents are so rare.

So in February he asked me to marry him, and I said yes, an in September I had the funnest, best day of my life. Not to make my life all about Nick, but this year certainly has been, and he has made it a really good one.

We have our ups and downs, and I know I can be immensely trying and make him want to scream, which he doesn't, and sometimes he frustrates me so much that I seriously want to pull his hair, hard, but I don't. But for the most part, things are easy and good - easier and better and more fun than I'd ever imagined life and love would be for me.

I hope things in your lives are good, and that for you this is one of those grateful years. And if it isn't - because sometimes, that just isn't how things go - I truly and honestly hope that 2009 is a great one.

Hugs to all and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Empress Zoe: 11th Century Photoshop. For your edification. Plus you might like the photos.

This is a mosaic in the Hagia Sofia. It depicts the Empress Zoe, her husband Constantine IX, and Christ in the center.
The Hagia Sofia was something I'd wanted to see since art history class in 11th grade.
And it really is as amazing as you expect. It's got layers and layers of history (and art), having started out as a church, then becoming a mosque, and is now a museum.
If you click on the photos you can get better detail. Particularly of the tiles below, which I found amazing.


Zoe ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1028-1050. During this time it was the Eastern Roman Empire, with Constantinople (now Istanbul) as it's capital. And back then it was Christian.

I know very little about history, and my retention of dates and facts is abysmal. The things I remember are always either breathtakingly beautiful, or weird little facts that can't help but stick.

So Empress Zoe, she grabbed me for the following reason.

The husband in this mosaic is her third husband. And he's only in this mosaic because he outlived her.

This mosaic apparently was created while she was with her first husband, Romanos III. Who she may or may not have murdered. Turns out he limited her spending and paid her very little attention. Which could be of interest to any married men who might be reading.

But in any case, when he died - and she married husband number two, Michael IV, the very same day - she had him erased from the mural.

Tile by lovely stone tile, ole dead Romanos was chipped out. And Michael was inserted at the right hand of Jesus.

Until he, too, passed away. At which point you know the tile people were all, "Oh, fuck, there goes another one." And he was deleted, and Constantine's likeness was inserted. I didn't ask if they just changed the face and kept the body.

Which would be a lot easier for the tile people.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Speaking of being non-religious

You all, we got the wedding pictures from the photographer!

I've been going through them and reliving all of those little moments all over again and getting all happy and giggly and teared up. I intend to include pictures in a few upcoming posts. And this one, for that matter.

Hopefully the idea of more wedding pictures does not make you want to spoon your eyes out.

So while we were getting ready, Tori pulled out a book and handed it to me with great solemnity. I assumed it was a Bible. Surprising, but, um, thanks.

And then - wow, thanks!In fact, hallelujah!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Non-religiosity. With mashed potatoes.

I really believe that if you want Jesus in your kids' lives, you have to get him in there early.

Because otherwise you grow up thinking that Jesus is really just this handsome man in a white robe, and not necessarily someone special. This sounds terrible, I know, and to the religious among you. But I totally believe it.

And I absolutely love Christmas. And I was thinking yesterday morning, as we were lounging around in my parents' living room, how glad I was we didn't have to get dressed and go to church.

I immediately felt guilty (my dad is Catholic, after all). I mean, it's Christmas. Christ is even in the name, you know? But if we did have to make it about religion, I wouldn't enjoy the holiday half as much.

For me it's about time with family and dear friends, and the tree, and familiar old decorations, and twinkly lights, and food.

Maybe if we'd grown up going to church and having that as part of the ritual, I'd associate church and religion with the day. As it was, the couple of years that they dragged us to Mass just didn't do it. Maybe if it were motivated by religious fervor on their parts, rather than by the fear that if we continued to know nothing about religion, we'd go seeking it in later years and join the Moonies, maybe then it would have felt more important.

As it is and has always been, I'm much more likely to run off and join the circus than the Moonies.

So last night my parents hosted us for dinner. Nick's parents were there, as was my friend Matt, who is Jewish but really an Atheist, and anyway, grew up with a Christmas tree because his family enjoyed Christmas stuff. His family is off on what has become an annual Christmas trip to Lebanon (it's nice this time of year - I'm not kidding), so he was going to be alone for his non-holiday.

Alone for Christmas! Whether you celebrate it or not! No turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, desserts desserts and more desserts?!? I immediately invited him to join us.

So there we were, a table full of not-remotely-about-Christ Christmas celebrators. We asked Matt a couple questions about Judaism, and he responded, but added, "You must realize that if I'm your authority on the religion, you're really in trouble."

I didn't have time to tell him that I'd just learned the night before that Jesus actually had a brother - James. Unless you're Catholic. Then he didn't.

And you know, I wonder, and maybe the Bible even covers it - did Mary supposedly never have sex, ever, even though she was married to Joseph? Or was she just not fertile? And in those days, wouldn't Joseph have ditched her? Or maybe he did, and the Bible talks about that as well?

So Matt and I were seated next to each other, and conversation our turned to a guy I don't know, but feel like I do, as he used to be married to a close friend of mine. They got divorced before I met her, but I've heard so much about him.

Matt said, "You know, I just got a Christmas card from him."

"I didn't know you were at the Christmas card level."

"We're friends, even though I don't see him that often. We went to college together. Last Christmas he and several other Jews and I went to the movies and out for Chinese food together."

That's right! He's Jewish! And so is Matt (technically, and sort of)!

"Wait! 'Merry Christmas, from one Jew to another!'?"

He laughed. "That's exactly what it is."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happiness and love and treats!

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I wish you quality time with people you love, and warmth, and delicious treats.

We're spending this evening with dear family friends, and then sleeping at my parents' house. Even though we live about 20 minutes away. Because Betty really wanted us to stay over, so we can wake up to full stockings and North Dakota sticky buns.

If I remember tomorrow, I'm going to take pictures and post, because they are like crack. With caramel sauce on top.

I'm not big on telling people what to do (except Nick, and that only works to varying degree), but if I could make one suggestion, it would be this. Make sure to tell the people you love that you love them, and hug them a little extra. Everyone wants to be loved, and you can never hear it or feel it too much.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your emails, thank you for caring about me. I hope for all good things in the world for you.

Big, big hugs to all of you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And then, after we opened the Santa presents, they'd bring out the elephants

I've been pulling out the childhood photos. Please bear with me.

Because sometimes, in winter, I'm out on the street and I catch a whiff of something that smells like airplane fuel, and it makes me hugely nostalgic. Because we always lived in places where you walked across the runway to get to the plane.

Like I ever intimated I was normal.

The picture above was taken on a houseboat in Kashmir on my Gramma Lillian's first trip to visit us in India. From Minot, North Dakota. In fact, it was her first trip out of the continental US. Minot does, in case you're wondering, have an international airport; they have a daily flight to Canada.
This photo jumps forward several years, clearly. I love that we are decked out in our Christmas finest - and so are the Christmas elephants. (And please, please check out my mom's hair and my dad's pants.)

This photo has nothing to do with Christmas, but it makes me giggle. I'm not sure why I'm propped on suitcases. And I look like I'm smoking a cigarette. Although, casual as my parents may have been about us wearing seat belts and going to the bathroom in public and such, I'm pretty sure, on closer inspection, that I'm clutching a hankie or something.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Whereas if I'd been the Christmas Lobster, I'd have been delighted

So at my preschool in Dacca (now Dhaka), Bangladesh, we acted out the nativity scene.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but I was Mary. A very reluctant, bitter Mary. Enlarge to fully appreciate the pout on my face. And the glasses.

Because, you see, being Mary meant I had to wear my pajamas as my costume. And an afghan that my grandmother had crocheted. I felt I might as well still be in bed. In front of the whole school.

When the teacher assigned roles, I cried and cried. I went home 54 kinds of upset.

"Why, Mama, why? Why do I have to be stinky old Mary?"

"Sweetheart, Mary is not stinky. She's a very important character. She's the mother of Jesus."

"Why can't I be something interesting? Like an aaaaaangel? Or an elf? It's not fair! They get the best costumes."

And so I sat there pouting, just like you see in this picture. For. The. Entire. Play.

I look at this as proof that our personalities, they solidify really early in life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So the inner and outer loop thing - turns out, it's all one road

People who don't live in DC or its environs will likely not appreciate this. Unless all cities have a Beltway (or two) - do they?

Anyway. I learned this morning that my understanding of the major routes around DC is much like my tenuous grasp on the rules of baseball.

We awoke to the traffic report on NPR. It was raining. There was an accident on the outer loop. Traffic was jammed.

I turned to Nick. "It's always jammed on the outer loop. And people have to drive from so far already."

"I know. We're lucky."

"How far out do people who take the outer loop live ?"

"What?"

"Well, like, we're never on the outer loop. Do we even know anyone who lives way out there?"

"Lis, when we come from your parents, we take the outer loop."

"We do not. They're close to DC. They live inside the beltway. Inside the inner loop, even."

"What?"

I'm not going to bore you with all the convoluted details of the conversation that ultimately ended in my enlightenment when I can just go ahead and tell you this. In my mind, all these years, the Beltway, it consists of two major one-way roads: The inner loop and the outer loop.

The inner loop, which is close in to the city, and goes one way: clockwise. And the outer loop, which is way the hell far away, out there in farmland and down by Richmond. This road also goes one way: counterclockwise.

And here's the thing. I have driven on 495. Which turns out to be the Beltway. And still, I didn't get it. I was always nervous about THE Beltway. The idea that you would be stuck going only one way around that whole loop made me twitch.

Plus, I have always wondered why people didn't just take side roads to get on the inner loop when traffic on the outer loop was terrible. Wouldn't that make a lot more sense than just being stuck on the outer loop?

And now that it's been explained to me, I realize it makes about as much sense to have two one-way rings around the city as it does for the home team to get to keep batting till it wins.

Duh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In my defense, this was a long, long time ago

Dad, you really don't want to read this one. Betty, you already know the story.

And let me reiterate. This was nearly a decade ago. I don't do this sort of thing anymore. Just so we're clear. It's not my party trick.

So a few weeks before I left San Diego to move to DC, I went to this lesbian party.

Actually, it was a housewarming. Thrown by a lesbian couple, and most of the guests were lesbians. We got invited because my boyfriend worked and was friends with one of the house warmers.

The house was really cool, and it was on a canyon, with a lovely back yard, sprawling fuchsia bougainvillea, and a gorgeous view. They'd had it catered; there was a fantastic spread. The bartender made really, really strong gin and tonics.

Important detail. Foreshadowing.

I don't know if you've ever ended a relationship in which you lived together. In which you loved the person and he loved you, but you wanted very different things. And one of you wanted to live in San Diego until you died. And the other, well, just couldn't.

The end of any big relationship is traumatic, but it's somehow worse when you feel like it should work, but for this one ginormous life detail. You feel like the person ought to love you enough change their mind. You fight about dumb stuff. And then, you decide to break up. But you live together until one of you moves to DC.

So at the tail end of this scenario, I was in a pretty fragile emotional place. What better to do when you're feeling unwanted (no matter that you're the one who is leaving) than run around and drink and flirt at a party?

Just to put you in my head. As if you don't live there every time you visit LG.

I headed immediately for the bar. It was an uncharacteristically warm night, and the gin and tonics, with refreshing lime! went down so easily.

And then I ran around socializing. We'd come to the party with another of my boyfriend's colleagues and his friend, who was a cop. Or maybe she was an ex-cop. I don't remember.

What I do remember was that she was really, really nice to me. Even when they had to pull over on the side of the 5 on the way home so I could vomit.

Yes. It's like that.

I was wearing an orange silk top with a Chinese dragon on it. The kind that's really only a top in the front. The back is just a tie, easily undone.

Also relevant.

It was the kind of night where the stars all align and somehow everyone thinks you're fabulous. Lots and lots of people - both men and women - thought the little blonde party girl was really, really cute. So, this was me: Whee! Mind-numbing alcohol! Cute men! Cute women! Gin! Flirty flirty! Proof of desirability! Warm San Diego night! More gin! Whee!

At the pinnacle of my gin consumption, two women larger than me beckoned me over.

"Look at you! You're so adorable!"

In head: Why yes, yes, I am!

"And look at how tiny your top is."

In head: I know, very tiny. Whee!

One said, "That would look like a postage stamp on me."

Me, I responded, "Oh! Want to try it on?" And reached back, pulled the string, and took off my top, and handed it to her.

And then pranced off into the crowd. Whee!

I cannot precisely say how long I was topless - but I believe it was a good couple minutes.

Apparently one of my boyfriend's gay guy friends stood up and said, "When the women start taking off their clothes, it's time for me to leave." He exited immediately.

On the other hand, a number of other people, as they left, thanked my boyfriend for bringing me.

Because I was so entertaining.

They might have thanked me, but for the fact that by the end of the party, I was vomiting in the bushes. I cringe as I write this, as you may imagine. I'm very, oh-so thankful that I left town shortly thereafter.

For months afterwards, guys asked my by then ex-boyfriend if the story was true. And if so, how they could get invited to the party next year.

I've been back to San Diego a number of times since, and as my ex-boyfriend and I are still friends, I've seen a number of those people, including the house warmers. And I'll tell you what makes me feel lucky.

They only remember the nudity. Not the vomiting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Comcast douchemonkeys: a rant in one part

So, I know cable is not critical in anyone's life. Also, I fucking hate Comcast.

And Dad, if you're considering emailing me to tell me I complain too much, I'm just going to invite you to imagine where along the nature/nurture path I might have gotten it from. The answer is: not Betty. As for all the profanity and possible typos - for those I take full responsibility.

When I lived alone, I didn't even have a TV, let alone cable. I just didn't watch enough to make it worth giving up the space in my tiny place. And then I met Nick and he had cable and TiVo and it's not the reason I fell in love with him so fast, but it sure didn't hurt. It was like magic!

Anyway. His TiVo was extremely old and was being persnickity and totally arbitrary in what it chose to record, and so we got a new one. But it needs a special card to work with the cable.

Being super-organized, he'd already called Comcast, and they said, "Sure! Come on over to the Comcast store! Drop off your cable box! The people at the store will give you the card to make it work with your cable!"

So easy, no?

No.

The people at the Comcast store told us, after we'd waited in a longlong line, that they don't have those cards. You have to schedule someone. So we scheduled someone.

We went home early on Friday, and sat at home all night. For the fucktard who never showed up. Nick called Comcast repeatedly, only to be apoligized to profusely, and told that they guy was running late. And another call, still running late. At no point did they say, "Just give up, he's never going to come."

Late in the evening, Nick finally said he wanted to schedule someone else. Who was to arrive between 6 and 9 am yesterday morning.

At 7:30 am, the doorbell rang. Yay! They actually kept their word!

He was at the house for like five minutes, put the card in, and told Nick to run through the install, and then he'd be set. And he was on his merry way. Presumably to go hang out at Starbucks and blow off his subsequent appointments.

So last night we were all, "We can watch Dexter! And Big Love! And the Project Runway special! We'll never have to converse in the evening again!"

And we turned on the TV! To a grey screen. And Nick kind of lost his shit.

Because, it turns out, the douchemonkey was supposed to wait through the install, do something at the end, and then call fucking Comcast to finalize it. This is what they said when Nick called.

Once infuriated, Nick gets pretty funny, in a way. He keeps an even tone with the people on the phone and tells them he realizes that they are stuck apologizing for idiots who don't do their jobs. But he makes these ridiculous statements.

"The first clown didn't even bother to show up. The second guy sticks the card in the machine, lies to me, and then bolts. What's the next guy going to do? Pee on my rug?"

They assured him that there was no way the next clown would pee on his rug.

And, "This is the fourth time I'm having to deal with this one tiny thing. I'd rather be raped than go through this again with the idiots that your company seems to employ."

They apologized again for his terrible experience. They responded not at all to the rape preference.

When they asked if he could be home during the day he replied, "No, sir, I cannot. Like you, I have a job. I'm working to pay for the service that you are not providing."

They certainly understood.

What kills me is this. In pretty much any other industry, you'd get a month off your service, or someone sent out immediately, or something to make you feel better about all the fucktardery. However, they're our only option. So they know they don't have to bother

Comcast is all, "Yeah, we're sorry. So can you be home next Tuesday between 10 am and 3 pm so we can blow you off?"

I find it so surprising that some bitter customer hasn't gone postal in one of their stores. Or bludgeoned one of the technicians with a TiVo box as he unsuspectingly steps out of the van.

It's not the lack of cable. It's being repeatedly lied to that's so galling.

What is wrong with these douchemonkeys?

/RANT

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do

Last night I dreamt that I had a fabulous haircut.

The layering was perfect. I could feel the fabulous, elegant bob swishing as I turned my head. I felt beautiful.

I awoke with the realization that I have to break up with my stylist.

I've been going to the same guy for the last three or four years, and the same salon for six. There have been ups and downs, and I've considered breaking up before, but I like him, and it's in an easy location. Plus, it's a totally affordable place.

A couple years ago, I loved my hair (see below, featured with my nephew, who I no longer get to see).
It's tragic, really.

So the other day I accosted a woman in the elevator the other day for a salon recommendation. She had a fabulous haircut. And she turned out to have a posh British accent, which of course made her hair look even better.

What I didn't ask, though, as it seems a rather personal thing to ask a stranger, plus I didn't have enough time between floors, is whether or not she colors it. I need someone who does highlights nicely.

It's stressful, trying someone new out of the blue. Not to get all Rod Stewart on you, but we all know that the first cut is the deepest. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

On the one hand, it's just hair. On the other, it frames your face, and either brightens you up or pulls you down. I look pulled down. And being as pale as I am, winter does that enough in the first place. I feel positively beige.

Here's what I want: I want a not-snobby, not too grown-up salon, where I don't feel self-conscious arriving in my bubble-gum pink coat. I want someone who cuts well and does great color. I want lovely blonde highlights. I want them to be glowy. I want to feel pretty.

In other words, I want it to be like it was early on in our relationship.

And here's the thing. I know there are other good stylists at his salon. I like the one who did my hair for the wedding. But you can't break up with one and move on to another at the same place. I mean, I did that once there, but only because the woman I was going to gave me bangs I didn't ask for, and then denied that they were bangs.

If you have short hair in the front of your head, just cut by your stylist, they are bangs.

So in a fuck-you move, I chose another stylist at the same salon. But I felt totally justified in doing so.

In this case, I like him. I just feel like we're in a rut. It's the same old same old. The color I have now, it's just blah. The cut? Has no style. And he's good; I think he's just stopped bothering a whole lot.

You know, as I write, it occurs to me...Maybe he's over me? Maybe he's trying to make me break up with him?

Monday, December 15, 2008

This just in: SOW-na

According to my dad:

"You got it exactly right. And we got the pronunciation from the Skarbakka family (Finlanders across the street on Missouri Ave who had their very own SOW (rhymes with cow) na)."

I'm not saying the SAW-na people are wrong. I'm just sayin', it seems like anyone named Skarbakka is probably right.

Also, I have a craptacular - or rather, mucustacular - cold. And however you prounounce it, a sauna sounds pretty awesome right now.

Which is not to imply that the Coen brothers are always on my mind

For the vast the majority of my sex-having years - until, in fact, veryvery recently - all of my efforts were always aimed at not getting knocked up. Well, that and avoiding the STDs.

And I should warn people - if so far this post seems like it will make you twitch, you probably want to stop reading here.

At a very young age, I could discuss the merits and drawbacks of various contraceptives. Condoms - a barrier method - were of course the best, because they protected you not only from pregnancy but also from disease.

I knew all about the importance of family planning and disease prevention and nothing about sex.

And then somewhere along the way I learned about sex. And then eventually started having it. And from minute one was incredibly anal about birth control.

Not in the Catholic schoolgirl way that sounds. I mean careful.

So after all those years spent trying not to get pregnant, suddenly I realized that I knew nothing about getting pregnant.

Unless you go Googling, which I didn't till recently, you don't know. It's not like you grow up with your mom telling you the optimal positions for conception or anything. It's all been contraception.

So the first few times that we were in whee! let's make a baby! mode, as soon as all was said and done, I immediately curled up on my back, hugging my knees to my chest. You know, to help all those baby missiles swim forward or whatever.

After the third time I did this, Nick looked at me and said, "Is that what you're supposed to do? Or is it because Maude did that in The Big Lebowski?"

I blushed. "Oh Nick, it's straight from the Big Lebowski."

In my defense, The Dude abides, you know?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How do you pronounce sauna?

Nick and I were talking about saunas this morning.

Or rather, I was talking about sitting in the sauna. And Nick kept asking me to repeat myself. Which I did several times, until I got to the point where I was speaking really loudly and clearly. Like maybe he had a head injury.

Because how, right across the breakfast table, could he not hear me so many times?

He was, however, asking me to repeat myself so that he could be sure, when he made fun of me, that he'd heard me right.

Because I pronounce sauna "SOW-nə" (you know, sow, rhymes with cow). Actually, what I say sounds a little more like SOUW-nə. But "sow" is close enough.

He insists it's "SAW-nə" - "saw," definitely not "SOW," and with slightly less emphasis on the first syllable.

He contends he's right - and offered up all kinds of "au" words with his pronunciation: Caught, fraught, cause, pause...The list goes on.

And I had no examples on the tip of my tongue for "au" pronounced "ow" - can't, in fact, think of a single one. Except sauna.

I thought back to where I learned the word, which would be one Duluth, Minnesota. Where my relatives - my Scandinavian relative - were big fans of the SOW-nə. That's how they always pronounced it. So maybe this is regional? And maybe my regional pronunciation (which I always want to spell pronounciation) is in fact correct. Because didn't saunas originate with my people, or somewhere around there?

I headed to Wikipedia, and their pronunciation - a Finnish one, as they apparently started this sauna business - looks like it would be "SOY-nə" - unless I'm misunderstanding their chart.

So I'm figuring our respective pronunciations are regional American...but I still feel like I'm right.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So fine, it's liquid precipitation and commenting on it won't change a thing

Driving in to work this morning I asked Nick what I should blog about.

"You haven't ranted about winter in a long time."

I do hate winter, it's true. I hate being cold, I hate the thin, feeble light. The shortness of the days and the intrusive darkness of the nights both get me down. And rain. I hate rain.

In fact, perhaps, I should just say I hate inclement weather. There. That covers it.

I arrived at Nick's office last night soaking wet, freezing, and spouting profanities. And like "cocksucking rain" makes any sense anyway.

So I immediately wondered aloud if Nick thought I complained a lot. His answer? Well, I complain a lot more than him.

He was all, "So it's cold. So it's raining." He pointed up to the sky. "It's like complaining about the clouds. It's not going to change them. What's the point?"

All I could think of was, "It must feel awesome to be so fucking perfect."

Thinking about it, thought, it's true - I do complain a lot more than he does. Not whining, fix-this-for-me complaining. But I am likely to say "Fuck! It's so fucking cold!" every single cold day of the winter. Because fuck! It's cold!

But do I complain a lot? In the scheme of human complaining? Do I?

And is this a female-male difference? Are women more likely to voice what they think in the moment? Or is this a Lisa-Nick difference? I'm not sure.

He does, in fact, have a sunnier disposition than I do. Or maybe not sunnier, but he's a lot more even-keeled. My highs are happy! sunny! yippee! sparkly! rainbows! dancing! puppy squeezingly high. And my lows are dark, no daylight in sight, pit-of-despair-ish.

He maintains a pretty even level of happiness or contentment throughout the day, week, month. This is not to say he doesn't get mad - because man, he has a temper. Or sad. But down episodes are rare, and, except for the anger, never as extreme as mine.

I tend to think about it in water terms. He spends most of his time swimming steadily down a pleasant, fairly evenly flowing river. And I spend mine in the ocean. Riding the high waves, enjoying the sun sparkling on the rushing water, and then thrashing about sputtering, flailing and grasping when I get caught in the dark gritty grip of the undertow.

We are very different people.

But back to complaining. Is complaining in itself necessarily bad? I don't know that it is.

There's something pretty satisfying in remarking on something you dislike, or something that pisses you off or irritates you.

So you can't change the fucking cold or the cocksucking rain. Is it terrible to remark on it?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And then suddenly you realize that stepping beyond this one particular line would make you officially crazy

I don't know if this is TMI according to LiLu. But it is something I've kept secret for the better part of a year.

The following took place last spring. I kept this quiet because my boss was still my boss. She quit a couple months later.

It had nothing to do with bugs. Just so you know.

So I don't know if you have ever had a super control freak boss who gave you nitpicky ((nit? heh heh), seemingly unnecessary tasks and constantly made detailed lists of minute tasks - each with its own little deadlines? And then every week or so, for no actual reason ,readjusted them to move all deadlines up a day or two? Which made your job a constantly moving target? And just generally made you pure bitter crazy?

And the straightforward, this style of management just doesn't work for me, kinds of conversations were met with verbal aikido. Her way or nothing.

You liked her before she was your boss. And you like her now. But there are some people you just can't work for. And that span of time made you sheerly and utterly miserable.

And you know when someone you work for makes you dread, absolutely dread, going in to work? And makes you all clenchy and bitter while you're at work? Even though you work at a non-profit where no babies will die of one particular thing doesn't happen on time, much less three days earlier than its due date?

You get to a point where it's just not worth it. It's time to look for a new job.

But then, you might stop and think, I like it here. What can I do that doesn't entail quitting?

You might sit yourself down and consider weaknesses.

You might think about the fact that your boss, she is terrified of germs, and this manifests itself daily in the incessant hand-washing and the opening of doors with the special retractable hook ordered from the Internet (although that proved short-lived, as it was cumbersome).

You might think about that time you, Chuck, David were sharing a piece of cake. Off the same plate. And how this clearly made her throw up a little in her mouth.

Someone might even remind you of the time that she found a cockroach on her floor in the old office. And completely lost her shit.

This would all probably lead you to The Bug Plan.

The Bug Plan was as follows: Find dead bugs, bring them to work in a plastic bag, and place them strategically in her office. She would see them, lose it, and, at very least, demand to work from home for all eternity.

So. I shared the Bug Plan with Betty. She immediately headed for the dank little lawnmower cupboard where the creepy brown speckled spider crickets live. Turned out she'd effectively poisoned them a few weeks prior. Not a single dead one to be found.

I kept my eyes open as I walked around the next couple days. Although, truth be told, I was a little scared of the plan as well.

And then later that week, the last time that Chuck hung out with us at the downstairs bar, I told him about the plan. Chuck, even with oversight of HR, was all kinds of enthusiastic.

He rubbed his hands, cackled with glee. "Bugs! Awesome! I'll bring some from home!"

How many VPs do you know like that?

But I am getting off track.

What ultimately happened was this. I spent a number of days looking for bugs, thinking about how I'd sneak in and plant them, whether I'd be so obvious as to put one on the keyboard or just strew some about on the floor. . .

And then I stopped. Because seriously? I was going to collect bugs to strew about someone's office?

An intelligent, well-educated, constructive, professional woman. Running around trying to collect bugs?

I felt like this is probably one of the lines between Not Crazy and Officially Crazy.

I decided at that point it was time to find a new job.

She, however, found the new job first. It had nothing to do with me. Or bugs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The kinds of things I say that are immediately labeled "unhelpful"

We have been talking lately about life and death.

I don't mean like Nick being electrocuted by the photocopier or chopped up by an axe murderer. For once.

More like, Nick's remaining grandparents are old and frail. Our parents are all in their 70s. And Nick's dad is going to have heart surgery in the spring. We have reminders that life is short and precious.

Plus Nick decided we should get life insurance. So we met with an agent and filled out forms and such. We're going to do wills next.

It all really makes you think, you know?

So the other day I told him that if I were in a coma, on life support, I'd want him to pull the plug.

I said, "Please, if that ever happens, promise you'll just kill me."

"Sweetheart, I don't know if I could do that."

"Then ask your mother to do it. I'm sure it would be no problem for her."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Or maybe it can be attributed to my relentlessly sunny disposition

Looking at this photo, I don't remember what Nick had just done to irritate me, but clearly something.

Maybe just taking the picture. We'd been sitting in the Izmir airport, waiting to fly back to Istanbul, for about five hours. And I didn't like my book. Stuck, with no reading material.

But that's not the point. The point is this.

We had dinner with friends the other night, and in the course of conversation, I learned that my friend Sam, who used to read my blog, no longer does. He said he read it daily. Until I got engaged. At which point I got boring.

It is no longer, he is certain, of interest to men.

He's not single, and even when he was, we were never interested in each other. We have always been just friends. But he really liked the angst-ridden single woman stories. No matter that he heard them in person regularly. But after that, he just stopped being entertained.

His contention is that my male readership has surely taken a nosedive. Single? Fascinating. Engaged? Married? Not quite as much.

Of course I want people to like me. I eat up any kind of praise with rapid, greedy bites. So my immediate thought was, what can I change?

I talked about this with two charming men the other night who both said they were in total disagreement with him. But Sam's words stuck.

This has really been gnawing at me. Did I get boring? To men anyway? Very few men comment, but that has always been the case. But maybe even fewer now. I hadn't been paying attention until he said that.

And then I thougth about it. Most men are probably not so interested in reading about ovulation and my MIL and the myriad weird places I'd put my penis if I had one. So is this what happened?

Obviously, it's pointless to say, "If you were a guy who used to read LG, but now you don't, why not?"

And the truth is, all you can do is live forward. I can't write fiction, and blogging about my here and now is what I find most satisfying.

But what I am wondering is this. Are single women more interesting in general? And if so, is it because they're single, and so there's the possibility of dating? Are single, angsty stories just more compelling?

Or did I shift?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Five minutes can be a very, very long time

So, I don't know if you've ever used those ovulation predictor sticks.

Some of you have; you're the ones who told me about them. But for those of you still having sex for fun, let me tell you.

First of all, we bought this package of 20. They come in this big resealable purple bag. You pee on the end of the stick for five seconds, then you wait five minutes. When your luteinizing hormone (a term I just learned) goes up, a second line appears.

This means you are getting ready to ovulate. Which of course is when the magic can happen.

The instructions say to pull a stick out, and then reseal the bag as quickly as possible. And approximately 2:00 pm is the time they recommend testing.

Practically speaking, this is what these instructions have begun to mean in my life.

They mean carrying the whole bag of 20 sticks to the bathroom daily. Actually, it diminishes by one stick every day. So 20 the first day, 19 the next, etc. The only cosmetic case I have that's big enough for the damn bag-o-sticks is leopard-print vinyl. It's not exactly subtle.

The awkwardness, though, is in the bathroom. Because who cares if people think I have a shitload of makeup to reapply in the afternoon?

I pick the last stall, if available. I put the paper down on the seat, unzip the makeup case - ZZZZZZP, open the plastic bag - CRINKLE, pull out one stick, and reseal the bag as quickly as possible. CRINKLE again.

And I know I don't have the best time with this kind of thing, but the peeing on the stick is not as easy as it seems. My pee isn't always pointing the same way. It shifts. Sometimes it's hard to get that stick in the right place.

Or maybe I am just urinarily challenged.

Anyway, so you pee for five seconds: one-one thousand, two-one thousand. . .And then - and this is the hard part - then you have to just sit there.

On the toilet. For five minutes.

Doing nothing but holding your leopard-print bag and looking at your stick.

Because - and believe me, I have contemplated it - you cannot carry a plastic stick on which you have urinated back to your cube. You simply can't.

I thought about wrapping it in toilet paper putting it in my bag, but you're suppose to keep it flat, so you'd have to carry it between your fingers, out in the open. With the possibility of drips.

No. Just, no.

So the waiting.

One afternoon, all four stalls filled up, and I heard the voices of a couple people I'm friends with. "Wow! When is there ever a line in here?"

There isn't.

And I was thinking, oh, they're going to recognize my shoes!

I wanted to be all "I'm not pooing! I'm just waiting for a pink line!"

Do you know how long five minutes can last?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Just so you know, urination looms large in this post

I love the idea of Founding Farmers. The philosophy behind the restaurant is great - combining socially responsible, sustainable behavior with fresher, tastier, more healthful food. I totally support this.

I know Lemmonex didn't have a great experience. But I still wanted to try it. And overall, I liked it, although it is loud. Our server, who was great, had to struggle to make herself heard. Which is particularly hard when there's a long explanation about the place.

Our friends Sam and Amanda met us there. We hadn't seen each other in ages, and while the visuals are charming, the noise level - music on top of really high conversation volume - made it a difficult place to catch up. Easy to lean into the person next to you, but you needed to bellow across the table.

I had chicken for dinner. This statement make me laugh, as years ago a friend shared her diary and that was an entire day's entry. "Tuesday, September 5. I had chicken for dinner."

So I try not to write things like this.

But I had chicken with mashed potatoes and root vegetables. All tasty, but I wouldn't rhapsodize. In fact, everyone liked their meal, but none of us were dancing on the table. I will say, though, that Amanda is currently on a very severe salt-restricted diet, and they were extremely accommodating. And they made her no-salt french fries, which made her night.

So because we're juvenile, when they brought us water for the table Sam and I immediately began conferring on whether we had to give it back before the end of the meal. Nobody could leave until they peed, which would then be recycled into fresh water and brought to a subsequent table. Kind of like Dune, except without special suits.

Amanda was the first to, um, recycle, and came back and said we had to check out the hand dryers. You stick your hands in these slots and they power dry them in like 15 seconds.

Nick was next. He came back looking embarrassed. Because, he said, he'd mistaken the sink, a long white enamel farmhouse-looking one, for the urinal. He figured in keeping with the theme, they were just having men pee in a trough. Just as he was about to unzip, he realized that there were urinals behind him.

Awkward.

Me, I went to the single bathroom downstairs. And Amanda was right - the dryers are the best I've ever used. You hold your hands pointed downwards and really strong air blows them dry. Fast.

Although both Sam and Nick were shockingly resistant to my suggestion, if I had a penis, I'd totally stick it in that power dyer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I have a boot problem. A tarty boot problem.

I realized last week I have relentlessly tarty taste in boots.

Also, I have a boot problem.

There, I've said it. I feel better.

So the fabulous, above-the-knee boots? The zipper broke the first time I wore them. Zappos didn't have another pair in my size. And quite frankly, I was worried that if they broke that fast, maybe they were poorly constructed. And they were expensive. So I returned them.

Thus, I no longer had hottie-hot new boots.

And then I went to New Jersey.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, Nick and his parents headed up to see his older sister and her kids. Me, I got to spend the day with Tori, who lives a couple towns over from Nick's parents. Yay!

Since it seems like a travesty to be in the land of No Sales Tax on Clothing or Shoes and not shop, we went shopping. I was looking for Christmas presents, but of course one cannot pass a DSW without poking one's nose in. Don't you think?

I cannot even tell you what possessed me to put these boots on, since I thought "prostitute" when I first saw them. But these were a total bargain (as much as a pair of boots like this can be when you're not going to make money wearing them), and I figured I'd just see how they looked.

As soon as I put them on, I kind of really wanted them.

And it was shoe money already spent. In fact, these were less than half of the prior boots. So I was pretty much losing money if I didn't buy them, you know?

And then Tori was all, "Those are awesome! Look at the buckles!"

"Too much like buckle up, big boy, and pull out your wallet?"

"Not on you."

"Are you sure? They're kind of extreme."

"Honestly, Lis, of all my friends, you pull off the whorish boots the best. And you never look the least bit slutty. I assure you."

She meant this in the most sincerely positive way. Even though it sounds kind of suspect.

And then another woman walked down the aisle and was all, "Those boots look great on you!"

Which almost made me put them back, considering I'd already been complimented for trying on some pointy purple velvet paisley boots. (Who could resist? Not me.) Also, a woman at another store had told me she loved my blue nail polish.

Except for the myriad reasons I could never live there, I could so live in New Jersey, you guys. The shopping public is good for my self-esteem.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Our museum is not under the water but most of the artifacts came from under the sea

Some days this is exactly how I feel. And today, today is one of those days.

Do you ever go to bed upset about something that is out of your control?

And then you maybe wake up completely discombobulated, having dreamed that practically everyone you love turned into zombies, including your husband? And while he was trying very hard to stay away from you and not zombify you, the rest of the world was after you?

And so you maybe went to your favorite (fictional) French place and slept with the hot French server? And then were left with whether you should tell your zombie husband or not, realizing that it would probably destroy your marriage?

Because of course the fact that he was a flesh-eating zombie wouldn't.

And then you maybe wake up and tell your husband and he is much more focused on the fact that you slept with someone else than the zombies chasing you?

Even though you assure him that you were really drunk and it wasn't all that fun?

And then the rest of your day so far looks like it's going to be exactly like that? Not under the water but, well, you know the rest.

If that ever happened to you, today would be one of those days.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Which makes you realize that penis envy and actually wanting a reconstructed penis are very different things

Or, now for something completely different.

You really have to want to be a man if you're willing to go through that whole sex change operation. Do you have any idea how much there is to it?

I said as much to Nick when I got in the car yesterday.

And instead of saying he had no idea how much was involved, he was all, "I guess we're done with rabies?"

This I can't promise. But here's how this started. So the other day, Betty learned that one of her neighbors, an older, married man, had passed away. She simultaneously learned that he had been a cross dresser.

This, on their street, in Virginia? Big news. They knew a cross-dresser! She told me immediately.

How, she had asked the neighbor who told her, did she know this?

Turns out she used to see him get into the car dressed as a woman, off to the grocery store. Apparently, she added, sotto voce, it was quite hard on his wife.

So I Googled, which led me to Wikipedia, and sexual reassignment surgery. I looked at female-to-male, which seemed somehow more compelling.

I knew about the hormones. And the mastectomy. But I hadn't really given any thought to how you might wind up with man bits.

Although, if pressed, I'd have assumed that even if gave you a new penis, they left the vagina to pee with. Wouldn't you need it as a pee hole?

No! Because it turns out "...the urethra can be rerouted through the phallus to allow urination through the reconstructed penis."

Yes. They can either enlarge the clitoris through hormones (how much, one wonders, but truthfully, one hasn't yet investigated) or create one through skin grafts. And then, they can reroute the urethra. They can also implant an erectile prosthetic.

They build you a whole new penis out of your own skin. And then they put something in that allows you to have an erection. And they redo your plumbing so you can pee through it.

It's really quite amazing, isn't it?

By comparison, the balls, they seem relatively easy. They form a scrotum out of the lips and then stick in prosthetic testicles.

And that's really all I've got there. Anything else you'd like to know about anything?

And yes, this is the kind of post that makes Nick worry that you will think there's something very wrong with me.

So hi! Hope your holidays were great! Happy Monday!