Monday, May 28, 2007

Short Hair

So, I got a new haircut, and it's really short. When it's all combed and styled and everything, it kind of looks like Suze Orman.

I woke up this morning, with bed head, which is seriously more dangerous with short hair. And, based on my tossing and turning last night, I looked less like Your Friendly Financial Consultant, and more like. . .

ummmm. . . .

this is kind of embarassing. . . .

more like. . .


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day Traffic.

So, while I was at Home Depot, I was nearly run over several times by people with carts full of hardware store buys, or people rushing into or out of the parking lot (in their cars). Really, every parking spot was filled, and cars were pulling in and out like a time lapse film.

What the heck is the deal here? This is Minnesota! This is Memorial Day weekend! Don't these people have cabins they should be at?

Studio 781--The Illuminatus

So, now that the trashed acoustical tile ceiling is down in my studio, the ceilings are just shy of 11 feet high. Which is an amazing difference, especially psychically. I remember in the waning days of my legal career, I was working on a weekend (no one else around) when I realized I was walking all hunched over as if the ceiling were coming down on my head. I was unhappy being there, and I finally said to myself "I could leave." Suddenly, my head came up, my posture improved and I no longer felt crushed under a large rock.

So walking into the studio with its newly tall ceilings--felt like freedom, like room to breathe and be creative. It also felt kind of dark. Because the dropped ceilings had five fluorescent lights, all of which were now gone. But I had my lighting guy with me to assess the best way to light the space.

Yes, my "Lighting Guy" is my dad, and he is great. We talked about how I was going to use the space, and where I needed task lighting vs. general illumination, fluorescent vs. incandescent. We measured the space and went to a coffee shop to discuss our options.

Today, I met the Lighting Guy at the track lighting department and we looked over our options. With eleven foot ceilings, it seemed to me that I wasn't really going to be seeing much of the track lighting, so we went with the inexpensive style, which is really just the plain vanilla of light options. But!!! The system is not only expandable, but substitutable. So, if I decide that I need something prettier, then I can put that on later. Plus!!! The system comes with optional pendant lights with beautiful glass shades and faux Murano glass. As the Lighting Guy said, "I can see some of those [fancy schmancy pretty] lights coming as Mother's Day gifts."

The track lighting is slated for the center of the studio, where I plan to have my art table. Different lighting is needed for the writing desk, and with the advise and consent of the Lighting Guy, I bought two classic pendant lights of translucent glass and bronze metal work for over the desk, and the matching one of a smaller size for the supply area. They are currently all in the back of my van, waiting to be delivered on Tuesday.

I take possession on June 1st--less than a week from now!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Studio 781

The previous post notwithstanding, there is something exciting going on in my life: I am getting a studio! I am renting space in a historic building in the arts quarter of town, to do my writing and my art. And I am terribly excited.

Now, I do truly love my little house--it really is incredibly charming, in a lovely and vibrant neighborhood, and it has been remarkably comfortable for our growing family, given its size. We bought it for just the two of us--back when we were never going to have kids. Then the kids showed up, and the house has accommodated us all.

But it is truly a little house. It is small enough that we have to live in all its spaces everyday. There is no formal dining room--we eat all our meals in the dining room. We have a parlor that maybe doesn't get used every day, but does get used frequently. We have a lovely kitchen with a convenient peninsula and a computer desk--which get used by just about each one of us every single day.

There is no place that we can start a project and then leave it out to finish later. There is no place where I can spread out and organize my thoughts--because we need that space for other things--cooking, homework, eating, etc. There is no place that can just be my own space--not in this cozy little bijoux of a house.

We had a new garage built last summer, and had a storage loft put in above the parking area. I considered whether that could be a decent studio, so I asked the builder. Sticker shock!! $50-60 thousand dollars to make that space habitable. Totally ridiculous. So, what about the garden shed? Well--no electricity, no way to close the door on the inside, plus the kidlets want it for a kid retreat. The basement? Um. . .no. I'm already clinically depressed--that would just be a fatal mistake.

So, having screwed my courage to the sticking point, I asked for what I needed, and Mr. Sweetie (who is very appropriately named) sent me off to go do it. I found a space in a building that was probably the office building for a railroad--the building itself was erected in 1917, and from my window you can see the neo-Classical white marble of the old Depot. The building is across the street from the Farmers' Market, and sits amid a number of renovated warehouse building of the same vintage. Many of them are now being turned into artist lofts, condos, and office space, as well as a Zen Center, coffee shop/wine bar, non-profit space. . .very cool and off-beat stuff going on in the area.

I took my dad down to see the space to give me some advice on lighting. The studio is on the 7th floor (of 8) and had a terrible acoustic tile dropped ceiling in it. The ceiling was obviously just stuck in at some point, as it cut off the tops of the windows. So, the building maintenance workers took down the (stained and crumbling) ceiling and the (boring and eye-sucking) fluorescent lights, and we went to see what was underneath it.

Oh man--you really have to wonder at people--there was an additional 3 feet of ceiling height, with a vintage picture rail hidden under there. The windows are huge--4 feet wide and about 8 feet high--yes, with about 3 feet hidden by that damn ceiling.

I am terribly terribly excited about getting into this space now! My lighting expert is recommending two electrical circuits--one for the writing area and the supply space, and the second for the art and craft table. We measured the space, and now I get to lay it all out on a grid and play around with what size desk and where to put it.

June 1 is my official occupancy date, and it can hardly come fast enough for me.

My So Called Glamorous Life

I just came off a long weekend that was crammed with kid events. Starting Thursday night, we attended the Middle School production of Midsummer Night's Dream (which was fabulous, by the way); Friday was set break down and cast party; a flute lesson; driving 3 girls to Girl Scout camp; Saturday was sending Mr. Sweetie off on a business trip; post Girl Scout camp Bat Mitzvah party where Pony got home at 11 p.m.; Sunday was Bunny's aerial arts performance; which covered a good 5 hours of the day.

When I looked at this fabulous collection of activities, I noticed a distinct lack of my own interests being pursued. This wasn't a big deal, because in a busy weekend like that, it's a full time job making sure everybody gets to where they are supposed to be--with all the stuff they need to have.

But, as the weekend wore off, and we all needed some rest, I realized that I wasn't getting very good sleep either, due to some hard work I was having to do in my dreams.

I tend to have very elaborate and detailed dreams--this is nothing new. But, what was new this weekend was the subject of my dreams. Sure, there was a ton of pop culture detritus; some Homer Simpson, some science fiction zoology; super spy foiling a Nazi nuclear plot. But stripped of all the trappings, here's what my dreams were:

Saturday Night: doing laundry.
Sunday Night: making dinner--I even dreamed the recipe.
Monday Night: calling home before it gets late so parents don't worry.

I don't know, but shouldn't dreams be something other than practical?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Overheard In The Car

I was driving Pony and 2 friends somewhere, and they had the following conversation:

Friend 1: [Someone not in the car] was babysitting, and the girl kept talking about her hamster had a vulva. And [Absent Friend] kept saying "Why does your hamster have a car?"

Pony: Yeah. [Class Village Idiot] was in science the other day, and he said his mother has a new "Vulva." And [Other Student] said "As the son of a car dealer--it's a VOLVO!"

A MIdsummer Night's Middle Schooler.

The Pony is in 7th grade in middle school, and has just finished performing in the spring play--A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was an abbreviated version, with some modern "Storytellers" placing the Shakespearean scenes in a modern context. It was funny, it was extremely well acted--not at all what you might expect from a middle school play. It was amazing hearing the stylized Shakespeare language coming out of their mouths, as naturally as if it was their regular speech. I cannot say enough about how amazing these kids are, and what incredible performances the director got from them.

What I found interesting was the dramatic differences in social maturity between 6th and 8th grade students. Of the four lovers who run away to the forest, one was played by a 6th grade boy, and the other three were played by 8th graders. Out of respect for the 6th grader (I am guessing), he was not required to kiss his true love. But the other couple was supposed to kiss. However, the two actors don't like each other, and this kiss became a bigger and bigger thing. Which was funny, because by the time I was in 8th grade, stage kissing was no big deal. I was in a play where I had to kiss a boy who was cast as my "boyfriend," and I did it because the script called for it.

Would I have done it as a 6th grader? Hell no. But by 8th grade? Not an issue.

So, Pony is right in the middle--in 7th grade. Things are changing this year, and I can see it. This is the year that kids turn 13, and there are a bunch of Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties. Many of them have dancing. Only one or two of the kids are willing to slow dance--but some of them are. The party Pony came back from tonight had a little twist: Musical Boys. The DJ had all the boys form a circle in the center of the floor, turn around so they were facing outwards, get down on one knee, and they became the "chairs."

I swear, middle school just cracks me up. And every day I thank god that I'm not a middle schooler.

How Things Have Changed

At the risk of sounding like a complete Old Geezer, things are sure different than they used to be. Particularly for kids.

The Bunny's school does a Bike Rodeo in the spring. Perhaps they did one for you when you were in elementary school. It's a day everyone brings their bikes, and during P.E. time you learn bike safety, hand signals, and do some traffic type riding. At the Bunny's school, the P.E. teachers make chalk outlines on the soccer field and kids practice riding around the "blocks" and obeying traffic signs, looking both ways, etc.

I remember being in elementary school, and we walked the 6 or 8 blocks to school every day. But once you were in either second or third grade, you were allowed to ride your bike to school. Of course, you'd had your safety training by then.

I remember we were all required to get off our bikes and walk across the street--at the intersection. There was one busy street where this made sense, but most of the streets were purely residential streets, and by the time we went to school, all the dads had already taken the one family car and gone to work. So while we did walk across the busy street, we bent the rules a little bit. We had a system where we would cross one foot over--so the right foot was on the left pedal--and slide off the seat and balance, holding on to the handlebars. Technically, we weren't ON the bike, we were beside it--even if we were actually using the wheels to propel us.

Well, like I said, things are different these days. Specifically, because we live in the city, and because as a culture we are aware Bad Things can happen to kids, our kids just don't ride bikes. In fact, Bunny had to go out and be taught how to ride a bike just so she could participate in the Bike Rodeo. Which seems totally backward to me. It's not that she needs to know the rules so she can be safe while riding her bike--it's that she needs to learn how to ride the bike in order to learn the rules.

This was particularly apparent as Mr. Sweetie and I were trying to get Bunny to trust her balance and ride. Now, realize that Bunny has a scooter, which she rides very well. Her balance is excellent and when she is on a bike, she looks totally balanced and fine. But she is scared of riding a bike, and doesn't want to ride a bike, and is only on the bike because of this damn Bike Rodeo.

Now, I have some firm ideas about parenting, and one of them is that parents should stay the hell out of their kids' schooling as much as possible. A parent who treats a child as a special case does more harm to the kid's ability to fit in. I'm thinking particularly about the kind of parent who says "I don't care what the assignment is, I am telling my child she doesn't have to do it." But I have to tell you, my resolve was a bit tested by watching my sweet tempered Bunny in serious tears over having to ride a bike.

I could have called the P.E. teacher at home and asked for her to be excused--which is exactly the kind of parental interference I hate. But she was SO upset! Okay, but that's only going to make her stand out and maybe force her to tell her friends that she isn't participating because she can't ride a bike, which by 5th grade has got to be social suicide.

Then, maybe I could call the P.E. teacher and ask if she could come with her scooter instead of a bike? Is that really any better? Maybe I just keep at her to learn how to ride, in spite of her tears? I mean, it's not like it's a critical life skill--like multiplication, for example. She could easily go her whole life without riding a bike. Is it really worth this amount of emotional upset? Watching her be upset is physically painful to me. It's a Mom thing, I guess.

This is the kind of thing they don't tell you about in What to Expect When You're Expecting, and this is the stuff you need the most help with. I mean, the baby's going to grow and get itself born after 40 weeks--you don't really need books to tell you how to make that happen. What you do need is someone to tell you how the hell you decide how much to push your child to do something new, and how much is too much.

In the end, we all stuck it out. I finally settled on believing that she was fully capable of riding a bike, and she would even enjoy it if she would just let herself go. She ended up using what she called a "moonwalk" where she sat on the bike, but didn't pedal. Instead, she just pushed herself along with her feet.

We both survived the ordeal, but this is exactly the kind of thing that drives me crazy about being a parent. She CAN do this--she doesn't WANT to. And who says she has to?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Grey's Anatomy Finale--Emotional Crack

Okay, if you care about Grey's Anatomy, you already know what happened in the finale. If you don't care--then move along, folks, there's nothing to see here.

What can one say about this show? Some great acting. Some powerful moments between characters. Some truly gruesome surgery. Plot? Story arc? Character growth? Not so much.

So, if it took three seasons to make it through one year of internship, that averages to 4 months per season. So, let's average it further (since time in Seattle Grace is more relative than Einstein would ever have imagined) and say that it's been two months since February sweeps. Meredith died two months ago. Her mother rejected her and then died two months ago. She's had two months to get used to the idea of a family with her father and stepmother, and then stepmother died--two weeks ago. Dad went off his head, slapped Meredith, rejected her. So, it's all about Derek now--that he wants more from the relationship than she does? What, hasn't he noticed that she's a candidate for inpatient mental health care due to emotional trauma?

Plus, he's having second thoughts because he might not get his promotion because of her? So, where does this "you are the love of my life" come from? Well, it was touching if you didn't try to fit it in with what has happened over the course of the series. Remember, Derek? You were the one who tried to get back together with your wife, and Mer hung around for that. Sure, he was trying to be a good person, but damn, where does he get off making "lack of commitment" Meredith's problem.

Oh yeah--I forgot. Live in the moment when you watch Grey's. Don't try to make sense of it. Just go with the emotional roller coaster and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle.

Will I keep watching it? Maybe, online. Maybe I'll just go back to Television Without Pity and read the recaps. It saves a lot of time if I do.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Separated At Birth--Dallas Edition

Remember Dallas? Remember those poor, sad, repressed Ewing wives, who had to live at their in-laws fabulous enormous ranch, and had nothing to do all day but wait for their hubbies to get home from deal making, power brokering, moving and shaking? Remember poor Sue Ellen?

Ah, Sue Ellen--married to J.R. and probably the prototype desperate housewife. Everyone was mean to her, no one ever listened or spoke to her, and J.R. was hardly ever home. No wonder the poor girl took to drink. I'd drink if I had to be married to Larry Hagman, even for pretend.

Sue Ellen was the "bad" daughter in law. Pam, played by Victoria Principal, was the "good" one, and "bad" seemed to mean "drunk and willing to talk about her unhappiness." The make-up department did a good job of making her look harder and more mask-like as time went on. She was the one you could see would someday get suicidal, anything to get out of the hell house she was trapped in.

According to the internet, there is some discussion about reviving Dallas as a movie. There is much speculation that J.Lo would get this part. But if they do cast J.Lo, the producers will be overlooking a candidate who is already dressed and ready for the part.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jessica Simpson. (Photo from the Met Costume Gala as fugged on Go Fug Yourself. Thanks, Fug Girls!)

I mean, she looks spectacularly trashy. The dark red lips already in a downturned grimace of jaded disappointment. The shiny shiny dress with too much cleavage, because she is trying to make J.R. jealous, plus she was drunk when she got dressed, and so she isn't sure if this is really the front of the dress. It sure is making Miss Ellie give her the skunk eye. She looks perfectly poised for a drunken row with her scumbag husband, which is the only thing that actually got her up and away from the liquor cabinet--she was sure she would see her no goodnik husband and could confront him with all the ways he's disappointed her. Like drinking and dialing, only in public.

J. Simpson's star has faded recently, and it looks like she's starting to feel as desperate as Sue Ellen always did. Let's give this girl something to do, shall we?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Grey's Anatomy--The Venting

Okay, yesterday was a 2 hour special, and I only saw most of the last hour. Yes, I know it's online, I just haven't gotten to it. But I've been thinking about it, and I have a few things I have to get off my chest.
  1. Can we just say how awesome Addison Montgomery is? She has the most amazing beauty, the kind that if you look at her wrong, you would miss. But it's mostly in her eyes--her amazing large eyes, with those outrageous lashes and those incredibly expressive eyebrows. Don't we all want to be Addison, just a little bit?
  2. Meredith's worst nightmare--has to be Addison. I mean, here she is, dealing with the fact that the guy she picked up in the bar and had inappropriate sex with--is her boss. And she is more than a little in love with him. When Addison shows up and is everything Meredith has to feel she isn't. Addison is pulled together, she isn't an intern and so she's not going through all the questioning and boneheadedness that is a necessary part of growing up. No, she's already done that, she's an expert in her field, she's gorgeous--if she walked into a room I was in I'm sure my deodorant would fail, and I'm not even sleeping with her husband.
  3. WTF, you cable info writers?!?!? "Meredith continues to bond with her stepmother" it says. You think--oh, interesting character development to make Meredith deal with her issues around her parents, this time with a real adult. AND THEN SHE DIES? And Meredith has to be in on the medical consult that kills her? Where does that equal "bonding?" I'm thinking "bonding" and I get traumatic death? In surgery where there is no time to say goodbye or anything? WTF?
  4. Meredith's dad--I know nothing about the actor who plays Tucker Grey, but when he realized his beloved wife was dead--that was the most powerful representation of a man who was uncomfortable with his emotions, forced to feel, that I have ever seen. I really really felt his pain. The way he lashed out at Meredith? Totally understandable, and the fact that he slapped her was just part of his pain. The fact that she ran away? Way to make it all about you, Mer--way to be totally unsupportive of the family of a patient.
  5. Although to be fair, there is no way the hospital should have let her be in on the treatment, and NO way she was the one who should have delivered the news. As Bailey has told us repeatedly, there is a REASON doctors don't attend their own relatives.
  6. Bailey? She rocks. It's painfully clear that the Chief has to stay on until she can run the hospital, because she is the only one who has clear boundaries about life and work, and she's the only one who keeps her shit together.
  7. Burketina? Can we talk about this stupid kluging together of names, and issue a moratorium? Because it was cute for "Bennifer" because Affleck and Lopez had kind of morphed into a single media unit, which was deployed for maximum PR effect. They had lost their identities for a while, and became this two headed media monster for an unconscionably long time. There is no "Burktina." And not just because the name is so awkward and horrible. Burke and Yang have definitely NOT merged into a single unit. They are the two most independent members of a couple we have seen on this show in three years. There is no "Burktina" and this trend must be stopped. Now.
  8. Gizzie? George and Izzie? See above.
  9. The horrible effect of extra-series knowledge--we know that T. R. Knight (George) and Isaiah Washington (Burke) have serious interpersonal problems. It's hard to watch the two of them try to talk about their fears about marriage together. Plus, how come the gay actor is the one who sleeps with ALL the ladies? George has slept with Olivia, Meredith, Callie and Izzie. I think that really must be considered a waste.
  10. Izzie? I love Katherine Heigl, and I love the way she acts every moment of every script as if it makes some kind of sense. Because it clearly doesn't. Izzie is kicked out of the hospital over the whole Denny Duquette thing, and less than a full season later we're supposed to believe that the true love of her life is George? The one she treated so badly in Season One? The one who only say they are best friends, but we've never seen them act that way? Heigl sells it as best she can, and if you can just wipe your memory clean from episode to episode, you might even believe that Izzie Stevens is a functioning human being and not just a plot device. Go KH!
  11. McDreamy? Stop moping around with bedroom eyes. Either you love Meredith, or you want to dump her so you can be Chief. There is no point in making eyes at her and then walking away. Show a little spine. And wash your hair before surgery. Sure, that tousled curls look is sexy in bed with Mer, but it can't be hygenic. I know if a doctor looking like that came in and proposed to operate on me, I'd make him shower and shave and then come back and convince me I wouldn't contract some horrible infection from the excess of hair product.
I think that will end this episode of venting. Sure, it annoys me sometimes, but I'm going to hang on for a while. Because, while I'm totally fed up with the "throw artificial barriers up so Mer and Der can't possibly be happy" thing they are doing, Alex's story arc could be very interesting.


I learned a bunch of cool things the last week I spent with my sister the Fabulous Babe. One of them is that when girlfriends get together, it is both fun and educational to swap information about products that each one has discovered and recommends.

The Fabulous Babe mentioned "chocolate covered Altoids" which doesn't immediately appeal. Apparently the Altoid itself was minimized so the whole thing could be a higher percentage chocolate. Dark chocolate. Word is that it's like a dark chocolate Junior Mint. I haven't seen them around here, and despite the recommendation, I don't think I'll seek them out either.

I myself have a couple of new products that I can recommend highly. Both of them come from my recent foray into Origins. I looked at the expiration date on my cosmetics, and was horrified how far past "use by" they were. Once I threw those away, I had nothing left--so I took myself to Origins to see what they had.

First new trick: a foundation brush. Put some liquid foundation in your palm, and use the broad, flat brush to apply to the face. The beauty of this is that you don't add the friction of your hands across your face--and for those of us with inherent redness this is an issue--plus, it feels so nice.

Second: "Underwear for Lashes." I love the look of mascara, but whenever I wear it I get raccoon eyes. Not so sultry. But with Origin's "underwear" it stays on. I just don't have the little trails of mascara dots running down my face. Of course, it could be that the Origins mascara just stays on better, but I just doubt that. They come in a set: the mascara and the underwear. Online they may sell it separately--worth looking into.

Other product: JetBlue. Jeez, living here in NorthWest land, we don't get many of the fine independent airlines, since NorthWest has a lockhold on all the gates at the airport. Allegedly. But I flew across country with my sister and it was totally painless flight. The seats were larger than I am used to and very comfortable. There was ample legroom: when the person in front of me tilted back the seat, it made no difference to my comfort. Plus, each seat has a small television screen--which is adjustable! There are probably 20+ channels to choose from, plus pay-per-view. When the person in front of me tilted back the seat, I just adjusted the angle of the tv screen and hey presto! Viewing optimized!

Plus, the crew were the nicest and most friendly I have ever experienced. Before the doors even closed, they made an announcement that they had headsets available. (For the audio on your tv of course!) "The headsets are free, but if you wait until we are in the air, they will be $10." The microphone clicked off and we were left to ponder that statement. Click. "Just kidding." Click.

The plane was small, and with the larger seats, the aisle was narrower, which led to being brushed by people going up and down (I had an aisle seat), but that was a sacrifice I was happy to make for the added comfort on a 5 hour flight.

A product that we do need? A "Do Not Disturb" sign for airplane passengers. It didn't happen to me on this trip, but there have been plenty of flights where the attendants have been insistent on asking if you wanted your bag of peanuts, and being asleep was not considered evidence that you would prefer to pass.

More products as I fall in love with them.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Yes, it's immature, but I hear it increases hits through Google.

But really, let's talk about boobies. You may not know this, but it appears that May is National Breast Cancer Awareness** month, a/k/a Oh My God Everything Is Pink! month. In a clever and fabulous bit of Deeply Committed and Relevant marketing, Macy's offered Fit For The Cure. It was a free bra fitting, with some amount donated to Susan Komen Foundation for each bra purchased.

So, I went. Because after spending a week with my sister last week, we discussed the importance of having a properly fitted bra, and I realized that I probably should get fitted. Plus, a member of my family is now 2 years post surgery for breast cancer, so it's a cause I can support.

Then, after buying myself three! new bras, I also made an appointment for a mammogram. Boy, there's an activity that takes all the mystique out of breasts. So I won't spoil anybody's fantasy by describing it in detail, but I gotta tell you, the girls are glad they only have to do that once a year. Spa treatment it is not.

Which might be a good idea, right? I mean, I got my teeth cleaned this week (Yes! May is apparently also See All Your Health Care Providers month as well.) And while it wasn't bad, wouldn't it have been more appealing if it came with a foot massage and polish change? Or a paraffin dip and warm towel for the hands? Maybe some mood lighting, aromatherapy? Wouldn't you be more willing to go twice a year if when they tilted you back, they put warm rocks on the chakras?

Hey, it's a new concept in health care--pamper yourself with good health. But I don't think there is much they could do with mammograms.

**Actually, according to this site, October is actually National Breast Cancer Awareness month, but here we have all kinds of breast cancer awareness stuff centered around Mother's Day, which makes more sense. But nobody ever asks me.