Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

Animals? Lights? Animals AND Lights?!?! December 19, 2008

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Things We Learned From This Year’s Wildlights (our local zoo’s annual light display) Experience:

1) Wildlights = Good (but EFFING FREEZING) Times

2) I heart manatees. (And, apparently,  faux, light-up flamingos as well.)

3) Animals do not heart the cold. (Most were asleep in their indoor shelters, so – more lights than animals.)

4) Tights, cords, thick socks, fur-lined snow boots, t-shirt, sweater, fleece, fur-collared coat, hat and gloves = still not enough clothing for 2 hours of Wildlights.

5) There is a reptile called a skink. J hearts skinks.

6) Definitely something to do on an off night. I heard the lines for this thing on the weekends had reached up to two-hour waits. (Oh HELL no – I don’t wait two hours for much of anything). We went on a chilly, weekday evening and had the run of the place. In fact, there were plenty of moments when we found ourselves completely. alone. (muah-ah-ah…) 🙂

7) The hot chocolate is at THE FRONT OF THE PARK. (Halfway through our tour of the zoo, we were jonesing badly for something toasty to drink; little did we know we’d passed the hot cocoa when we went left instead of right at the entrance. Granted, its discovery at the tail end of our trip made for a grand finale. Drinking hot chocolate with REAL whipped cream by a fire whilst watching the animated light show around the pond = priceless.)

** I hereby solemnly swear, from this moment to eternity, to never again use the word “heart” as a verb.**

~a

 

“So… Cat Walks into a House, Right?” December 12, 2008

Filed under: guys,humor,nanowrimo,pets — curiouserx2 @ 7:06 pm
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…And the rest is history. emerson

Last night, I was lying across the bed, Gabe sleeping soundly next to me (who is MUCH improved – thanks to everyone who asked), trying to work up the gumption to go to the gym by way of reading my book (A Secret History by Donna Tartt – interesting, but the writing unravels a bit as you go; I don’t see it making the list). Anyway, my mind is going something like this:

ME: I really should go. Dinner was great, but it was huge, AND we had dessert AND I’m going out tomorrow night.

ME ALSO: Yes, but it’s like 14 degrees outside (it was, in fact, 35 degrees outside, my conscience exaggerates) and it’s been a very long day.

ME: But the holidays are coming and I should head them off at the pass, you know? Get the upper hand.

ME ALSO: Yes, but you’ll be wasting gas taking the extra trip out there, and if you move you’ll wake up Gabe and LOOK HOW ADORABLE HE IS WHEN HE SLEEPS.

ME: But I’ve put on a couple pounds due to a certain medication, and I really should do what I can to counteract its effects.

ME ALSO: Yes, but now you’ve got that pin-up girl thing going for you, which is both undeniably attractive AND you don’t have to work out as much to maintain it.

ME: Ok, now you’re just buttering me up.

ME ALSO: No. Really. I’d do you.

ME: That’s gross. I should go.

At this point, thankfully, the phone rings. It’s J, and he is speaking in hushed tones and being very mysterious, but eventually the story comes out:

Earlier in the evening, a door-to-door salesman came by. J sat with the front door open, chatting politely enough with the man, but also doing his best to get rid of him. As he feels he’s on the verge of wrapping up the conversation (AT LAST!), a tiny, gray blur whizzes past him and into the house. The salesman just keeps yapping on and on about lawn care or gutter cleaning or something, but J is distractedly looking into the house to see what has just invaded. He convinces the guy that he REALLY must go, and goes searching through the house for the wild animal.

In the kitchen, he finds it. Or him, to be more accurate. A diminutive, stormy-colored kitten, attacking the fringe on the Christmas tree skirt. J catches the little guy and gets him back outside, but the damage has been done: J has been chosen. The kitten remains on the porch, huddles himself in a little ball by the front door and cries his hoarsey, little squeak intermittently until J has no choice but to let him in the house to warm up. It’s getting colder out as night falls.

J feeds him some pieces of ham (granted maybe not the best kitten food, but whatever). By the time I show up, the kitten is following J wherever he goes – along the porch, over to the neighbor’s, up and down the street. Finally, we decided he must stay in the house overnight. No kittens perish on our watch. Fascinated by the house, the kitten’s a little skittish at first, but after J’s friend K brings over some food and litter, he begins to make himself right at home. The plan was to leave him downstairs on the couch with a blanket while we slept upstairs, but he curled up with us as we sat on the couch with him, and soon all three of us were asleep there.

J hasn’t named him yet, as there is still some question as to whether his two roommates are down with having a cat for a while. D is fine with it. He wouldn’t bring it inside himself, but as soon as J did, he was all about the little guy. B, however, feels it necessary to put up the Grinch front, refusing to show it affection and make an exaggerated show of his distaste for the thing, when clearly we can all see he actually thinks it’s as adorable as the rest of us do. (Why, by the way, must so many men do this? Both my brother and dad act this way with Gabe. Hmph.)

So, there you have it. Feline determination trumps my night at the gym.

And J gets a new friend.

~a

 

In Which I Time Travel (The Only Possible Explanation) December 10, 2008

So I’ve been awake now for, oh, 3 and a half hours, and, up until about 5 minutes ago, seriously believed with all my heart that today was Thursday.

I have just been informed otherwise.

I swear I’m 27 going on 77 sometimes.

Didn’t help that I awoke late and rushed out of J’s house to be greeted in the face by fat drops of 33-degree rain and gusting winds (which generally are blinding when you have very long hair).

Which gets me thinking – I don’t know about you, but the winter in the state I live in goes a little something like this: Mid-November the chilly rains set in. By December, the odds of having more than 2 sunny days in a row match those of winning the lottery. Temperatures will undulate just above and far below freezing for months, resulting in alternating rain and snow. This may end, if we’re lucky, by April. (Although, I distinctly recall moving out of my dorm in May one year of college in an endless frigid rain).

Must we bend to this inevitable nasty weather, hang our heads like drooping flowers and give in to hibernation and lethargy for 5 months?? Easy as it would be to give in to temptation and live in sweatpants and pajamas and watch marathon sessions of The Office until May, I have to believe I can do better, that my curiosity and joie de vivre can thrive even when my world is a popsicle.

I feel like we’ve been doing a good job so far…. but it’s only Month 1. If we look at this as a 5k, we’re just getting warmed-up. So, here are some ideas we’ve done, and some still to attempt. Granted, some of them are specific to my neck of the woods, but feel free to swipe them for your own, and to offer additions, too:

When the weather is chilly, but not too precipitous:

1) Take a road trip to a nearby shopping destination (I’m NOT talking outlet malls. Think more along the lines of tiny, quaint and/or eccentric locales with town squares or main drags dense with little shops and eateries – if you look hard enough, they’re everywhere). A dusting of snow generally triples or quadruples the nostalgia-factor.

2) Take in a play. Chances are, you definitely don’t do this enough when the weather’s grand (although, here we have a Shakespeare in the Park company that puts on relatively entertaining outdoor shows), so take this opportunity to discover a community theater or local company. Some of the small, fringe ones put on the most intriguing stuff, so if you’re not exactly up for another rendition of “The Sound of Music” or “Death of a Salesman,” try one of these instead. (They also tend to be much more affordable than traveling Broadway series-type shows).

3) Local music. I cannot toot my effing horn loud enough on this one:) Having been on the stage-side of the music scene for so long, I know the winter months are bleak for musicians. Do them (and yourself) a huge favor: cozy up in a warm, little venue (I’m not saying you must go to some piece of shite dive bar only to have your eardrums blown out by an uberloud punk band – unless you like that sort of thing), grab a beer or a glass of wine, and be serenaded by an acoustic duo or a bluegrass band… or a girl who maybe rocks the piano a little too hard 😉 My roommate’s doing a holiday show in which she will front the band whilst tap dancing. Always ridiculously entertaining.

4) Go to the zoo. No. Seriously. I know it’s cold, but our zoo, and many others across the country, deck themselves in trillions of lights each holiday season, and usually offer features like ice skating, hot chocolate/cider stands and pics with The Claus’. Animals? Lights? Animals AND lights?? What’s not to love?

5) Go to the art museum. Yet another trip we don’t take nearly enough in the warm months, because, let’s face it, who wants to spend two or three hours indoors when it’s 78 degrees and blue-skied outside? Now, however, escaping into a brightly-lit, heated building sounds like a treat. Evil Twin and I have been known to hit up art museums whenever and wherever we can. One time we took the audio-tour of an Egyptian exhibit (with headphones that know which piece you’re standing in front of and give you details accordingly) and I can’t remember why the narrator was so hysterical (I think maybe he just sounded like a pretentious windbag, but who knows?), but Evil Twin and I couldn’t stop laughing at him, and because we had headphones on, our laughter was the only sound in the cavernous rooms and we kept getting dirty looks from the elderly volunteer woman. Awesome.

6) If it has snowed, but the temperature is tolerable, bundle the hell out of yourself, and go for a walk. Do it up right: slide around on the ice (J and I successfully redefined “ice dancing”),  stop to make snow angels in a fresh patch, nail each other with snow balls. Walk to a restaurant or coffee shop where you can warm up and drink something warm before heading home.

When it is just too effing cold to leave the house:

Before you resort to flipping on the television, please consult the following list:

1) READ!!! For the love of god, do not watch t.v. when there’s a good book around. (Check my reading list if you need suggestions)

2) Um. Blog? If you’ve got one, this is a good time to fatten it up a little.

3) Cook or Bake. Warm the house up by putting your oven to use. Now’s a great time to try out recipes you didn’t have time for before. AND you end up with something warm and gooey (and potentially chocolate??) to eat when done.  (Bonus if you make something that allows everyone to lick the bowl).NOTE: If you take the aforementioned dessert or meal and sit in front of the t.v. with it, you lose major points. Sit in front of the fire, or light some candles at the kitchen table, and chow down on whatever you’ve created while you watch the snow fall outside instead.

4) Clean the house. I know this sounds lame, but while Spring Cleaning gets all the glory, there’s something to be said for using all this time cooped up indoors to perk up your prison cell 😉

5) I don’t know how to put this….. um…..”Quality Time” with your S.O., if you have one. And by “Quality Time” I mean whatever that means to you and yours. I put intimacy WAY before Lost reruns.

6) Get your friends together for Rock Band. Or find out which one of your friends has Rock Band and/or MarioKart capabilities, and organize a winter concert and/or tournament at their place. I used to be adamantly anti-video game, but with the advent of the Wii, these things are much more valuable – not only can I actually play them (due to the more obvious controls), but they require interaction and can be great social activities.

7) Devote some time to your inner artist. Whether you play music, draw, paint, sculpt, craft or write (or anything else I left out), spend some time doing a little art for art’s sake. No pressure. No deadline. Just your imagination and a couple of hours to give it some exercise.

8 ) Speaking of which, just because you can’t make it to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t get a workout at your place. Plenty of free downloadable workout videos exist on the internet, or, if you have an animal like Gabe, give that sucker the attention he craves, and I guarantee you will both get a workout.

Right, well, my stomach has just informed me via strange noises that it is beginning to consume itself, so time for lunch. Promise I’ll be back to fill this list out a bit. At its current length, you’ll be out of ideas by New Year’s Day. While I scarf, please enjoy the following xkcd comic, entitled “No One Must Know“:

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~a

 

Cute Gone Bad… December 5, 2008

Filed under: happiness,humor,nanowrimo,thoughts,writing — curiouserx2 @ 3:09 pm
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The economy being what it is, our lives ever in flux, our paths perpetually uncertain, it is more important than ever that we not take ourselves too seriously. So when I came across this little webcomic gem, I had to add it to the weblog, to pass it on to all of you. These “adorable” little icons will ensure that your heart never gets too heavy (and your head never gets too big). And, if I’m to be honest, this speaks to my inner freak (a good 2/3 of Meghan’s daily comics are pretty twisted).

Ah, Friday at last. And what will this weekend hold? One night off, one night babysitting and one day escaping the city to do a little Christmas shopping. Oh. Yeah. I’m 27 and still babysit from time to time. I actually find this activity refreshing and extremely valuable. Granted, I’m a free-spirited, wanderlusting Jill-of-all-trades today, but I feel in my gut that this will quickly change for me in the next few years, and it will do me well to get a little extra practice under my belt before that time comes. Besides, the four-year-old I babysit is fascinating. Some of the things that come out of this kid’s mouth – and the LOOKS she’ll occasionally fix you with – and the CRAP she’ll try to pull on you!! 😉 She’s just enough of a challenge to be good for me and getting goofy with a kid 24 years your junior is amazing stress-relief.

Anyway, her mom keeps a really great photo-blog called Fish Food (you’ll see a link off to the right) I highly recommend to young parents or anyone with a heartbeat.

~a

 

The Good with the Bad November 12, 2008

Filed under: nanowrimo,work,writing — curiouserx2 @ 6:03 pm
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It’s only fair to warn you that my job has just become a JOB, nay, a potential CAREER. It has just been discovered by, well, the entire office now, that I’m quite the talented copyeditor and writer, and they now intend to make the most of these talents. I’ve just been made Chief of the Writing and Style Police Department, so all written materials must now pass through me before seeing the light of day (that is, being read outside of our sparkly, homey, modern office). And there aren’t any laws yet established for the police to uphold, so I have to establish and document a sort of writing constitution for my department to enforce. In short – I now have massive work (work that interests me, that I’m even excited about!) to do. No longer a glorified secretary, I just lost my ability to write the next Great American Novel at work. So – don’t be surprised if you see less frequent NaNo additions; I may not win, but I’ll finish it this winter. Promise. Now – a comic, in hopes that you’ll forgive me. (Is this like rewarding your neglected children with expensive toys? I feel like it must be 😦 )

~a

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Writing Break November 11, 2008

Filed under: humor,nanowrimo,writing — curiouserx2 @ 8:26 pm
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Having posted one too many NaNo entries in a row, I’d like to present a brief break from the writing insanity to bring you some on-theme (sort of) comic relief courtesy of Wondermark. Enjoy……Okay, now get back to work!

~a

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NaNoWriMo – Cheap Therapy

Filed under: nanowrimo,thoughts,writing — curiouserx2 @ 2:43 pm
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Not done writing today yet. I’m sure I can accomplish another thousand words sometime today, but I did complete the scene from yesterday last night, and for anyone who might be following, I thought it would be kind to show you how it ends. I should also add, for anyone who may think this angry diner is too exaggerated and lampoonish, that this is a character straight out of my real life. This situation (right up to the point where the room stops, anyway) occurred at one of the many restaurants I worked at during my years of serving. In real life, however, I was forced to move on, ignore the comment and cry quickly in cooler. It was endlessly therapeutic, then, to get to write this scene the way I wish it had actually played out. It could’ve – had I just been a little more fearless and a little better about saving money. Live and learn. Anyway:

**************

I stop. The room stops. For all that I want to keep moving forward, ignoring what I’ve just overheard, my body may as well have come up against the Great Wall of China. Sometimes it is good to let them think they have won, Heidi’s sing-songy voice tries to wrap itself around my head.

Sometimes.

Not this time.

The room is in motion again: servers fly by me, arms loaded with stacks of empty plates, glasses clink anew, laughter erupts from a nearby table. I turn around and take the three steps back to the dread table and Angry Dad.

“Excuse me,” I say, in order to break into the conversation they obviously plan to continue despite my appearance tableside. “I’m sorry about your wine, sir,” I start, and here all eloquence goes out the window. “But fuck you.” I could stop there, because the startled look on everyone’s face is straight out of the pig’s blood prom scene in Cary. Priceless.

But I don’t stop. I’m on a roll. “You might be more careful in the future about how loudly you make comments about your server. You’ll find a giant fucking batch of comment cards at the hostess stand where you can write down that kind of ill-thought-out crap for us to read at a later time when it might not sting as much. Or maybe you’re not at all concerned about my feelings, because I am just an idiot who, you know…. abides by laws, and is busy out of her fucking mind and grabbed one wrong dish from the kitchen…” People are staring now. It occurs to me briefly that this is what every server dreams of. The consequences, however, have not occurred to me. Yet. “But sometime you might try thinking about the life of just one god damn stranger, about how, maybe, it’s not an easy, privileged life, maybe it’s a life of stress and hard work and very little thanks…. You have no idea who I am!” By this final sentence, I am enraged, and to emphasize the word “idea” I’ve slammed the plate of now-cold steak and fingerling potatoes down on the table.

I take one last mental snapshot of the family’s shocked faces to cherish for all eternity: Mom, blatantly embarrassed, head down, ringing her napkin with one bony hand, Dad’s eyes darting wildly about as if some agent in a suit and dark glasses should’ve taken me out by now, daughter fighting off a nervous smile, mystery guy pressing a tight mouth to his knuckles. Then it’s time for a hasty exit.

Sadly, these things go much more smoothly and without a hitch in the movies. Heidi has been notified of what is going on and is on her way over to the table. My car keys, coat and purse are in the back wait station. I avert my eyes to avoid meeting Heidi’s, duck into the kitchen and sweep past the line. I’m at the side wait station and almost to the entry to the back dining room, when I run head-on into Trevor. At this point my face is the very color of the lobsters being boiled to death in Zeta’s colossal pressure cooker, and I’m likely crying, though I can’t really tell because I’m sweating horribly also.

“Julie?” He’s holding my arms, gently, but still, I’m temporarily delayed. “Are you okay? In the weeds? What can I do?” He doesn’t know what’s happened. I’m safe.

“I quit, Trevor.”

“What?” He looks incredulous.

“Actually, I’m fired, but I quit, too, just in case.” I hear him try to get more from me, but I’ve removed myself from his grip and am barreling into the back dining room. I run though to the wait station, ignoring the looks, snatch my balled up coat and purse, and push through the broken back entrance where a hand-written sign   reads, “Please use other door.”

The parking lot is drenched in moonlight, and the icy air calms my burning face, especially the damp skin around my eyes. It feels incredible. I try to remember where my car is parked, and press the “lock” button over and over until the beep of my car alarm and flash of the red taillights show me the way.

I am free. And fired.

5

In the car, I am shaking, and initially I think it’s the below-freezing temperatures, but I’m now parked in front of the house, heater on full blast and, yes, definitely still shaking. I am quivering with the immensity of what I’ve just done. And, probably, the sudden reality of it, also. Tempting as it is to bask a while longer in the warmth of the car, I see lights on in the house, and I can’t wait to confess what I’ve done. To gloat, this is, and maybe get some reassurance that I haven’t made a huge mistake.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, sweety, but are you fucking crazy?” Kip says, not furious, just dubious. Still, not the appreciation I’d hoped for. Note to self: next time I fly off the handle and make a scene worthy of prime-time drama, run it by Tasha first.

“Maybe?” I reply, still uncertain myself. “But I feel really good right now, Kip. I’m talking weird, euphoric, too-many-drugs, Nirvana-type good.”

“Then why are you crying?” he asks. A valid point; my eyes are rimmed with hot, pending tears.

“Because I’m scared?” I’m still wearing my puffy, winter coat, and Kip wraps me in a big bear hug, which only makes the crying easier.

“Oh, Julie,” he says, close to my ear. “You did the right thing, pumpkin. I wouldn’t have done it, most people wouldn’t have done it, but it was right. I’m sure that guy deserved every awkward minute of your tirade.” His laugh shakes my body. The scene is probably even better in his imagining of it. “You’re a smart, talented girl. Maybe this is a kind of universal kick in the ass to move you along from waiting tables.”

I picture a giant, swirling mass of planets and moons and suns and space debris descending upon Zeta, causing mass destruction and giving me a swift kick out the door. For a second I wish this is actually what had happened. “I’ll start looking for work tomorrow,” I say, all congested and heady, wiping at the makeup that is probably smeared heartily under my eyes. “I think I’ve saved enough for one month’s rent and a little extra. If I’m good, I can make it last unit I find something.” I say, helpfully, to myself mostly.

“We’ll make it work. Don’t worry about that. You worry about finding yourself a decent job. You know, maybe one that uses your degree would be good,” he says, sounding way too much like my mother. “No more restaurants, though. You’re done with that. It was killing your soul, was it not?”

“Yeah, I know,” I say, fully aware of how difficult it will be to find another gig with the pay and flexibility of fine dining service.

“But right now you need to clean yourself up. You’ve got a great story to tell at dinner.”

“Dinner? Kip it’s like 8 or 9 o’clock.”

“Yeah, a bunch of people from work are meeting at Café Grey. We’re already late, so get moving, cupcake.” He turns me and pushes me to the stairs by the shoulders. I can take it from there. I can’t look too horrible, is what I think, but the mirror informs me that that oh, honey, you can and you do. But Café Grey has a mean wine selection, and I could use a drink. Come to think of it, that’s about all I remember them having, so I can’t figure how this will qualify as dinner.

Giving my face a good wash and throwing on some makeup and a new set of clothes is the best I can do. I dump my black shirt, black pants server uniform in the bathroom trashcan. The hair stays pulled back, the eyes still puffy. It’s a bunch of Kip’s friends from work, though. He manages the local GLBT community center, so you can imagine there is no one for me to impress. No one will care that I look tired and smell questionable.

We decide to walk, as it is only a block one way and a block another to get to Café Grey. The snow has stopped falling and didn’t accumulate at all, so it’s actually quite a beautiful walk when I can pull my hood over my head and forget it’s almost winter. Walking up, the cafe appears warm and crowded. Little white lights line all the windows and the awning over the front door. The patio’s summer tables and chairs have been replaced by a thick carpet of damp leaves. Kip opens the door wide and steps aside to let me pass under his arm.

We’re greeted wildly by a table full of people I’ve met once, maybe twice in my life, but whose reaction to our appearance would suggest Kip and I are long-lost blood relations returned from the dead. We are late, and they appear to have a good head start on a few bottles of wine. We’re ushered into the fold (they’ve pushed a large round table close to the fireplace) and supplied with chairs and eventually glasses and eventually wine and plenty of it.

After reintroductions, it’s not long at all before I’m goaded into telling the tale of my evening. Kip ends up taking over about halfway through, as he thinks I’m doing a horrible job of the retelling. So I’m left to answer the questioning glances from around the table at various points of the story with raised eyebrows and nods assuring everyone that, yes, Kip is being fairly accurate, if not a little theatrical.

The rousing conclusion elicits applause all around, to which I humbly nod my now-tipsy head. I’m in desperate need of a glass of water and totter off to the counter. I’m peacefully spacing out, watching the water spill from the spigot of the water jug into my plastic cup, when a body appears in my peripheral vision. “This is probably going to sound like a stupid question,” says this guy.

“Then why would you ask it?” I ask, not cruelly, but genuinely curious. I surprise even myself with my own frankness. The guy looks harmless enough, if not a little obnoxious due his dress: navy polo, collar popped (shutter!), under which he wears a white, long-sleeved t-shirt, too-perfectly distressed jeans and, mother of god, flip flops. I want to ask him also if he knows that it snowed today, but manage to contain myself.

“Umm, yeah, that’s a very good question. Out of control curiosity? Maybe?” I see in his eyes he knows he’s sinking fast. I don’t disagree. “It’s just, I think I’ve met you before,” he says.

“I don’t think so,” I say. I’ve never seen him in my life. “Sorry, I think you’ve got the wrong girl.” The one you’re looking for is probably playing beer-pong in a frat house somewhere; if you leave now you might just catch her! It’s getting harder to keep these thoughts to myself. He must leave before I’m forced to be outwardly sardonic, or make fun of his hair.