Friday, March 31, 2006

Rubbernecking the Batmobile

Today's my birthday, and SO surprised me with a really cool gift from Signals, our favorite catalog. We rarely buy anything from it (mainly we leaf through it and make wish-lists) so the day started out on a high note.

Another bonus was the radio report I heard as I drove into work this morning: "Traffic is backed way up on I-40 due to the breakdown of a Batmobile replica on the shoulder. Slow-downs occurring due to drivers rubbernecking the Batmobile."

The Batmobile -- in Oklahoma City? How did I miss that one?

It totally made my day, even though I didn't get to see it. Instead, I was treated to a 3-car pile-up with an overturned vehicle. I fear that someone probably didn't make it out of that one, and I refuse to dwell on death on my birthday.

I was whining a little to SO last night. "I'm 42, and haven't written the great American novel. 42, and still living on the prairie when I always wanted to live in the mountains. 42, and never been to Australia."

He was having none of that. "42, and you've never had cancer; 42, and you've been to Egypt; 42, and now writing a blog."

Then, there was the StoryCorps feature I heard on NPR about the 100-year-old man who was finally retiring from the job he held for more than 70 years. What are his future plans? He's going to do volunteer work at centers for senior citizens. That's moxie!

Enough perspective, already.

Today's stats
Cards/Ecards received: 10
Birthday Emails: 2
Phone calls: 3
Hugs: 6
Batmobiles broken down: 1
Minutes spent in traffic jam: 5

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Welcome to the freak show

Attended an OLA pre-conference in Tulsa yesterday. The theme? Creating macros with the OCLC Connexion client, featuring none other than macro guru Harvey Hahn. For all of you catalogers out there, yes, he's incredible -- a programming god. For all of you non-catalogers out there: It's a cataloging thing; you wouldn't understand.

And frankly, I didn't understand either. I managed to hang on through the beginning of the session, through subs and functions, VB and OML, syntax and string concatenation, but after lunch (pumped full of carbs and a tasty slice of chocolate cheesecake) I lost focus. Most of the other attendees did as well. I wanted to keep up, and Harvey's so darn enthusiastic about program flow, but I zoned out and kept zoning. I must have dozed off for a minute because I think I was dreaming in Visual Basic.

Distracted, I watched one of the attendees gnaw on his wrist hair. The couple on the front row caught my eye as they engaged in unprofessional public displays of affection and passed notes. Then I noticed the woman on my left nod off with her thumb in her mouth.

People-watching is so much fun at annual conferences, don't you think? Sit back, take in the freak show, congratulate yourself: "At least it's not me! Thank God, that's not me!"

I've found, however, that the perception most people have about catalogers is that we are all side-show freaks.

More than likely, someone was watching me. "She coordinated that scarf with that jacket? Thank God, that's not me!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Building fences

With the increase in blogging among friends and co-workers, I've experienced a new sensation in the mornings: an itch to log on and quickly check new postings. Eeyore sets the bar pretty high, and I'm in awe of The Advocate's dead deer story. With palms sweating and heart beating in anticipation, I checked their blogs this morning. It's too much! I've got to stop reading their stuff first thing in the a.m. It's too distracting. I can't write about what's on my mind after reading what's on theirs. I'm scared of plagiarizing.

Been noticing blogs a lot more lately. Diane Rehm featured a couple of bloggers talking about their new book. Very interesting. I think Shank is finally going to take the plunge. After working on mine for awhile, I like to browse through some of the others here on and see what the buzz is. Some are really unique, like the dullest blog in the world. But most are like mine, random expositions on daily life and events.

A recent dream has been haunting me. Key elements:

1. a car that breaks down in the middle of Washington, D.C. traffic
2. an abandoned apartment
3. an anonymous letter
4. being trapped in the back of a station wagon.

Eeyore gave me a quick dream analysis and basically it boils down to:

1. being frightened that the direction or flow of my life is stuck
2. my financial future (or that of someone close to me) does not look good
3. a change of news or change in status is pending
4. there are many things I cannot control

At this stage in my life, there's so much I have to let go of -- I've got to recognize I can't control certain situations or outcomes and listen to the wisdom of a buddy:

"Build fences around what you hold dear and mind them and mend them and call it a good day's work."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Vicarious chills and thrills

Sport was poetry in motion on the soccer field this weekend. He was all over the place, positioning himself to intercept, block, and score -- 2 goals! I tried to read my book (The rock from Mars: a detective story on 2 planets, by Kathy Sawyer) when he wasn't on the field, but got caught up in the game.

I know it's a bit tiresome to read about other people's children and their accomplishments, so I'll try to keep the boasting to a minimum. But I admit to a certain thrill when I hear strangers complimenting my kids. I eavesdropped on the other parents, who commented on Sport's control of the ball, his skill, his speed. I couldn't get enough of it.

I feel the same way when LegoGuy comes home from school and talks about destroying a chess opponent in 3 moves. I try to keep a neutral face, but inside I'm doing a little victory dance.

It must stem from a childhood empty of any real success stories. I played the piano and won a few awards, but I never excelled. I was good at spelling, but never a master. I liked to read (and in 6th grade was named "IO Champ of the Year") but that only emphasized how geeky I was. I memorized Bible verses and was on a quiz team, but so were all the other kids at church. In short, I was mediocre.

So Sport asks me the other day if I was ever an athlete. Never, I told him. Always picked last...for everything. (Although, come to think of it, I did spend a lot of time running away from Laura Pacheco, elementary school bully. All that running led me to join the track team in middle school, where I enjoyed one short year as a somewhat quick runner.)

Truth is, I don't mind being mediocre, as long as my boys are showing signs of being much more accomplished than their mother ever was.

As long as they let me bask a little bit in their glory, I'll be content.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Is there a term for compulsively checking your blog to see if anyone has posted a comment? (If you think of one, or want to make one up, let me know.) Ever since I've gotten a little more comfortable with the whole idea of writing something the whole world can read, I've been going back and forth to see if anyone has actually read it and left me a comment. (I know who my 2 true fans are!)

There's been a Blog'Splosion among my friends and co-workers, and it's all due to the influence of Eeyore. If he hadn't had the courage to go ahead and take the plunge and start his own, there would be no BananAppeal, no BlueCatRedState, no CigsandNic. The world would be a darker place without their pithy contributions.

SO tells me we finally got our tax money, and I'm thrilled. I'll be shopping this weekend. Gonna buy me some rocks, bench cushions, new yard tools, possibly even some running shoes. Heck, maybe I'll go all out and buy a brand new swimming suit since my old one finally fell apart. Livin' large, that's the Adjective Queen.

Finished reading
Falling through the earth: a memoir, by Danielle Trussoni
Finished making
Rapping spider costume for Sport
Finished watching
Two for the road, starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney
Finished eating
2 tacos asada from El Mirador

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Snow, Shank, Shrines

Woke up this morning to about an inch of beautiful, fluffy snow. I allowed myself to enjoy the scenery for about 5 minutes before worrying about my drive into work. I'm not scared of driving in the snow -- I'm scared of driving with SUV people in the snow. SUV people make me nervous because they are always in a hurry to splash muddy slush on my windshield in an effort to beat me through the red lights. SUV people, ham fists gripping the steering wheel, bear down on my tin-foil Toyota bumper, grinning with glee as they nudge me out of the way.

I hate those guys. They irritate me.

Speaking of irritation, nothing comes close to the level of irritation felt by my friend Shank. Lamenting one November morning that he'd never really had a cool nickname, I spent the day emailing possible monikers, but none really fit. As our friendship developed, I noticed in him a tendency to punctuate his paragraphs with phrases such as "knife," "sharpened pencil," "long-handled spear," and "finely-honed shank". These are often included in his witty observations on dealing with certain members of the public: those who let their children run wild in the library, speak loudly on their cell phones while using the on-line catalog, or security guards driven mad by craft programs. I call his emails little Shrines of Irritation -- paragraphs of descriptive perfection.

It's a tragedy I haven't been able to convince him to start a blog. His writing is sheer genius. I'll have to see if I can get permission to excerpt some of his emails. (I hope after reading this he doesn't include me in his newest shrine!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Our spring trip to the Fiji Islands

Got an interesting email from WA Sport's teacher yesterday. "Have a big trip over Spring Break?" Rarely do the boys' teachers ask us how we spend our vacation time, so I knew something was up. I sent a reply, telling her of our short retreat. Her next email floored me. Apparently, Sport had enthralled the class with details from our trip to New Zealand (5 or 7 hours by plane) and side jaunt to the Fiji Islands, where he and BN LegoGuy took part in a surfing competition. Sport wiped out too many times, so he didn't take home any trophies.

While impressed with his imagination, Sport's teacher asked us to talk to him about the differences between fantasy and reality, as she's noticed he has a marked propensity for weaving elaborate tales.

I wonder where he got that from?

We recently got a new Map of the World shower curtain, and the boys love looking up different places. LegoGuy spent about an hour staring at his globe the other day, looking for the Dead Sea, and their favorite computer toy is GoogleEarth.


Okay, I admit it. I tend to tweak details and take some artistic license, especially at dinner when I'm trying to drag details about their school day out of the boys, but I think that's what makes me so endearing.

That's why it was so hard for me to keep a straight face when I told Sport to keep the Irish blarney to a minimum.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Friends are friends forever...or at least I'm hopin'

Cast of characters
The Activist -- friends since 1982
Eeyore -- friends since 1988
Shank and The Collator -- friends since 2005

Back when I was in college, the class of 1987 adopted a Michael W. Smith song as their official class song. They would play it at every gathering, sing it while walking (arm-in-arm) with each other across campus, and object if anyone else dared use it.

They really got on my nerves.

Today, I realize the sentiments of that song are pretty much true. Most of the friends I've made over the years have stayed with me. Although we may no longer keep in touch, I definitely consider the relationships I've had to be a key part of who I am today.

Call me pathetic, but when I was a youngling, I didn't have the luxury of too many friends. I was crippled with shyness, and even worse, possessed a hellacious overbite. For me, elementary school was an asphalt jungle, Lord of the Flies kind of world, to be sure.

Braces helped restore some of my shattered self-concept, as did a change of schools. Eventually, I discovered drama, which helped me break free of much of my reserve. And college brought me lots of friends, thank God.

One such friend is The Activist. We competed in college for the same guy; neither of us won, and we bonded over the dual rejection. She's big on neighbor relations, works with RAIN, loves and is loved by her little boy and her partner, cares for stray animals, and encourages tolerance and communication between people of all faiths and different sexual orientations. She's a dynamo.

My friend Eeyore helped me make it through grad school without losing my mind. He's laid back, talented, encouraging. This is the kind of guy he is: the day I had comps, he took a day off work, drove me to OU, dropped me off at my building, handed me a good luck charm, hung around until I was done, and drove me home. He's helped me lay tile, reupholster a chair, hang curtains, dig a garden, paint a room. What a guy!

Newest on the friendship pole are Shank and The Collator. Still newlyweds, I met Shank at the library, and thought he'd get along with SO since they appeared to have the same musical tastes. Also, rather eerily, he appears to be a male version of me in many of my likes and dislikes. His wife, The Collator, is an obsessive collector of recipes and has arranged and integrated them into a vast series of notebooks. She's wry, plays the piano, and cooks these amazing dishes. Both enjoy hanging around with us and our boys, and LegoGuy says Shank treats him like "an adult" and WA Sport likes to count The Collator's shoes.

Will they still be counted as friends after they read this posting? I'm sure at least one will object to these pseudonyms!

Friday, March 17, 2006

In defense of dogs

BN LegoGuy was bitten by our dog a couple of nights ago. One of her upper incisors punctured his thigh. Thankfully, she didn't draw blood, but the bite mark later turned purple and blue and really looked nasty for about half an hour.

While my son stood there, clutching his leg and holding back tears of pain, my first reaction was not to fly to his aid and take care of the wound -- (I stayed on the couch with my book in hand) -- no, my first reaction was to defend the dog.

Before you fly at me, questioning my mother love, let me just point out that both my children have a heightened sense of drama when it comes to their injuries. A paper cut, scuffed toe, or the imprint of carpet on flesh can send them rushing to the medicine cabinet for a fresh bandaid. A sprained ankle becomes a broken leg, with bone popping through the skin. A bump on the head turns into a concussion. These kids are constantly begging to have their arms bandaged, sore muscles iced, and cuts cauterized. (Okay, maybe I went too far on that last one.) In short, they are hypochondriacs.

So it's understandable that I merely glanced in LegoGuy's direction when he let out a rebel yell.

Still, I felt I had to offer some kind of defense for the dog, because frankly, my husband is not a pet person. SO is a lot of wonderful things, but a dog lover he is not. He can't work up much enthusiasm for Bella, our West Highland White Terrier, a dog with a big heart (and a significant heart murmur). She truly is a handful. But despite her many flaws, I love that little dog. She's playful, funny, and loving. I admit I treat her more like a little girl than a dog. And SO doesn't get that. To him, a dog is just another responsibility, an animal that should stay outside and never, ever get up on the couch to snuggle with her favorite human. She gets on his nerves.

Anyway, I waited a few minutes before saying anything, but I finally did tell him (after he'd cleaned LegoGuy's injury with peroxide) that Bella had been jumping up for her toy and missed. Since the child had been twirling the toy in front of his leg, and was wearing only boxers, the dog had bitten his leg rather than her intended target.

"Stupid dog," was SO's response. He'd put his finger on something. There was a certain level of stupidity attached to what had happened.

I'm thinking the next time LegoGuy plays with Bella, he'll wear more clothes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Who is the Adjective Queen?

I love words and get a kick out of writing. I was nicknamed the "Adjective Queen" by The Professor, my college advisor and head of the journalism department. During my senior year, I served informally as assistant to the editor of the college newspaper, a guy I'll call Snickers (one of my best friends, and truly one of the easiest people to crack up I have ever known. He consistently makes me feel like a comedienne.)

Snickers and I would often be up really late the night before we put the paper to bed. Around 2:30 a.m. we would get the giggles, and as we sized the last photograph or typed out the last caption, I started the hilarious (at least to us) tradition of writing up a recap of the night's activities. They started out as a couple of simple paragraphs, with a few wild embellishments to entertain The Professor. Eventually, these stories would be spun into tales so unbelievable that we'd be unable to catch our breath due to paroxysms of hysterical laughter.

By the time we reached the end of Spring semester, the Snickers of my stories had become a tyrant of Hitlerian proportions, forcing the newspaper staff to participate in the madness of his altered reality. Once, our fictitious selves were made to impersonate the whole cast of the Mod Squad. Later, he broke the back of a popular redheaded cheerleader, then ordered her to hock her body cast in order to bail him out of prison. He was truly shameless.

The stories I left for The Professor were completely over the top, filled with descriptions laced with every creative adverb and adjective I could think of; one immediately comes to mind: the inky blackness that was her hair. Snickers and I tossed that phrase around for years.

I've had other nicknames, but have a particular fondness for the Adjective Queen. It brings back those late night laugh sessions, typing up absurdities and watching Snickers attempt a back flip off a waist-high stool. Classic college antics.

There's more to me than a love of language. But I'll save that for another posting.

Current obsession
Getting my garden weeded before the Oklahoma killer mosquitoes hatch
Currently reading
Drawn to extremes: the use and abuse of editorial cartoons -- Chris Lamb
Favorite candy bar
Choxie raspberry lemon cruch with lemon biscotti (distributed by Target)
Newest fear
Drought + high winds =

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My parents went to Guthrie and all they brought back was this antique desk chair

Cast of characters
SO: spouse, significant other
Bill Nye, LegoGuy: oldest child
Wolfgang Amadeus Sport: youngest child

Okay, so I've waffled for another 48 hours before attempting a second post. I can't figure out why I'm so hesitant about writing, although some of it stems from the hysteria-ridden news reports of people being hunted down by internet predators. Looks like the best blogs are those that are cloaked in anonymity. Therefore, friends and family members will be given nicknames. I apologize in advance to those who feel my nicknames are too specific, not specific enough, are unfair, are stereotypical, or whatever. Get over it; it's for your own protection. Do you really want to wake up one morning, bound in duct tape and stuffed in the closet of some maniac's country sex-shack?

SO and I took a much-needed "parenting break" early this week. We dropped BN LegoGuy and WA Sport off at Nana's, and after a short drive north we ended up in Guthrie. It's been gussied up fairly well in the last 10 years, each red brick lovingly restored and polished. There's more antique stores than you can shake a stick at, and I've never seen so many knick-knacks cleaned up and displayed as "collectibles." I could write quite a few mocking paragraphs on the nature of these tchotchkes (mismatched, overpriced, downright goofy), but I'd probably alienate one of the handful of readers who might come across my blog, so I won't.

The retreat was great, and SO found a Victorian novel he was hankering for... then, inexplicably, he put it back. I think the hunt was more fun than the actual aquisition. I made him go get it the next morning. And while he was trying to relocate it once again, I fell in love.

It was a swivel desk chair (circa 1920-1940?), made of oak, burnished by the shifting of countless buttocks to the color of butternut squash, with tiny rubber wheels worn down to a nub. A note on the price tag said it had come from the Tulsa World newspaper office. And it was on sale! It was beautiful: such charm, such character, so much history.

Since we were having a really good time, it wasn't hard to convince SO that it would be a perfect chair for his computer area. And in the waning afternoon light, back at home, it looked perfect.

The boys were a bit baffled as we displayed our new find. Luckily, they are getting a little too old to demand presents every time we are out of sight for more than 8 hours. And no, we didn't get them anything to compensate for the purchase of the chair...except a day-old, stale M&M cookie.

They were happy to eat it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Smithsonian approved?

I'm not sure I have much to offer the blogger world. It's a little intimidating, posting something that may be read by complete strangers -- and even more terrifyingly -- read by friends and family.

I know what I don't want to do: spend much time on politics, a subject that stalks my waking world. I'm obsessed with national and international politics. I can't help dwelling on all the crap that goes on in Washington, while being horrified at the efforts my locally elected leaders take to drag us back to a time where women couldn't work, minorities couldn't vote, and Christianity was the religion of force rather than choice. Aahh, the "good old days."

But I digress.

I recently heard a report about the increase in popularity of blogs in
China. One woman stated that it was perfect for her and her friends, because their main area of interest was themselves. Ultimately, I suppose we're all looking for some space on which to leave our mark, a way to cry out to the universe that "I was here," an attempt to pass on to posterity our thoughts, musings, and words. Perhaps the Smithsonian will one day put together an exhibit and feature my blog as a quintessential example, with a placard analyzing the genius of these carefully constructed paragraphs.

With that kind of pressure, is it any wonder it took me 48 hours just to come up with this first posting?