Monday, December 26, 2005

The brother who stole Christmas

I'm famous for being melancoly on my birthday and after Christmas. I look forward to these events with child like anticipation and when the reality of the celebration kicks in I get twangs of jelousy over my perception of what others are experiencing. Mind you, none of these feelings are warranted - I am simply being selfish. This year however, I think the cloud living in my heart is justified.

As mentioned earlier, my mom called two weeks ago to let me know my brother, his (non-Morman) wife and their two girls were coming up from Utah for Christmas. Woo hoo - this kicked the planning and shopping into high gear. Mom actually had snack food in the house when I arrived. Normally the fridge is stocked with Christmas dinner and that's it. Three days of PB&J then a HUGE yummy meal, and then left overs until someone sneaks out to McD's.

Upon arrival to M&D's I was impressed by the spread, a table of munchies, presents stacked as high as they could manage and an air of excitement. Around nine o'clock Mom decided to call big bro on his cell phone to see where they were. It went straight to voice mail, so she called his home phone to leave a message and he PICKED UP THE PHONE. I've never really seen Ma go from hurt to pissed and back to hurt in such short time. Brother dear claimed he never called to say they were coming.

Now, I know that I'm supposed to keep my anger to myself and put on a good face or at least not air family grievences in public - but come on... to claim you didn't call is BULL SHIT. It galls me that Mr. Wonderful thinks that he can pretend he didn't call and try to make my parents believe that they concocted the idea that he was coming. The crazy thing is that I"m sure by now he believes he didn't call, he has a gift for revisionist history.

Well, brother dear - we were genuinely disapointed that you weren't able to come our way, but the fact that you couldn't be a grown up and call and that you felt like you had to lie about it makes you an ass hole. You hurt mom to the core and the last time I saw her cry like that was when her dad died. Merry Christmas to you too!

If you want to be the grown up that I know you can be, you should call and apologize. Mom wants nothing more than to not be treated like a fool. She will forgive you.

As for the rest of the family, they all asked about you, but hid their embarassement at your actions. I promise you that you were not hung out to dry either. Mom calmly explained that both she and dad must have made a mistake when they talked with someone who sounded like you, who had a wife named Denise and had two girls.

If you don't honestly remember making this phone call, you need to call your doctor, or check into re-hab.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's the children who pay

Divorce hurts the children most and it is never more apparent than at Christmas.

My parents haven't ever bothered to get a divorce so every year at the holidays I pay and pay. My friends from broken homes go from house to house gathering gifts soaked in the guilt of failure to attend recitals and sporting events, while I go year after year to the same house and open my token 'you had a happy childhood, so these socks will do' gift.

I am forced to spend the holidays with my real mom and real dad, while those around me get to meet a new Mommy every other year, or spend Christmas with the newest "uncle." It's so boring knowing everyone's real name.

While I spend two or three solid days with one group of people, some of my friends get to drive to one house on Christmas eve to eat dinner with one family, drive to another part of town to have dessert with other people, get up the next morning and fly to the step sister's house... it must be exciting to see so much of the country side each season.

I feel so left out.

Killing Time

My list of activities to keep you busy while listening to a dull presentation (of 2 or more hours)

1) doodle
2) fill in all the O's on the materials handed out
3) make mindless lists
4) plan imaginary parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, or funerals
5) take fake notes
6) wish for death
7) replay movies in your head: "we're going to need a bigger boat"
8) see how long you can hold your breath
9) squeeze the muscles in your bum in time to the national anthem
10) count the verbal ticks of the presenter: Um's, Ok's, Alright,
11) pay attention to the topic at hand... oh please...

The 2005 Book List

For those of you keeping track, here's a run down of the literature (or not) consumed by me this year:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: An excellent but brutal account of life in pre-revolution Afghanistan and how even the choices we make as children can affect us forever. Many people have raved about this one, and I thought it would be just mildly ok - but it might be my favorite book of the year.

Harry Potter 6: Oh Harry, what will be come of you? Will you end He-who-shall-not-be-named and finally take your place as the Defense against the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts and guide other mini-wizards and witches the way I hope. Please Severus, say it isn't so...

The Three Junes: I thought this would be about three ladies, but is an attempt at an epic story of self forgiveness and acknowledgment that love can take many forms. Forgettable

Time Traveler's Wife: A very clever love story that could be troubling, but leaves the reader thinking about what if, and how much do we really want to know about our futures. A great read.

The Magician's Assistant: Again, love isn't always a boy and a girl, sometimes it's a girl and her dead gay husbands family.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Damn, we are POOR and love may see us through, but it will also find the families savings and drink it to lessen our sorrows.

Mountains Beyond Mountains (nonfiction): Paul Farmer, real life MD is driven to make a difference in the world related to TB and its effects in poorer nations. Dr. Farmer is not a saint, but pretty darned close. If only we were all motivated to do a tenth of the effort to help others...

Working Poor (nonfiction): a Sociological study of the effects of under employment and the companies that take advantage of this population of Americans. H&R Block -- you are evil and should be put out of business for your "rapid refund" program that targets these low income people.

The Book Borrower: Having never written a book I shouldn't criticize but I'm going to anyway. The BB tells a strange story of two women who are friends, but really don't seem to like each other, and when the 'tragic' event happens the reader simply doesn't care. I left this book on a shelf in a rented apartment in Spain, I hope no one actually ever picks it up.

The Plot Against America, Philip Roth (this may have been a late 04 reading): An exploration of what if that blends historical fact and characters in a fantastic scenario. Told from the perspective of a young boy, this book was greatly anticipated and enjoyed, but kind of a bummer.

Evidence of Things Unseen, Marianne Wiggins: I guess you could say that while it may have been keen to work on the atomic bomb, the repercussions weren't all that neato. However, love is where you find it, and family is who you love. I believe this at my core and this story reflects it in a dark but kind way.

Emily Ever After: Holy Jessus on a cake - I thought this would be a fun Nanny Diaries esque story but in reality it is Christian Lit. It's not bad, but I'm disappointed that the author made little Emily choose her 'Christian Values' over her career -- it seems like there has to be a way to be a fully functioning person and believe in God. I think I'm doing it -- but I guess if I really want to go to heaven, I should pack it in and move back to the sticks to be safe.

A Very Long Engagement: you know, I tried to watch the much loved movie and ended up turning it off, but the book was surprisingly moving. Thanks for the tip Jen, I'll mail it back to you soon.

The Devil Wears Prada - Now this was the Nanny Diaries follow up I was looking for, a totally insane view into the fashion world. If you think your boss is an ass, read this and you may be filled with a sense of peace. This weekender is fun fun fun (for girls).

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time: A fun canine murder mystery narrated by a young autistic boy. Clever and touching, even more so when you learn that the author's son is affected by autism.

A Season in Purgatory, Dominick Dunne: This book was published in 1993 and I picked it up at Goodwill for a dollar. Sorry Dom, your 'fictional account' of the Martha Moxley murder is worth more than the dollar I paid. I appreciated the subtle shift from first person narrative to third person and back to first upon the attainment of self-forgivenes. Major lesson to be learned here: don't cross the Kennedy's -- er I mean the Bradley's.

Currently reading:

Dan Brown's (da vinci code guy) Deception Point


The Cave, by the brilliant, but punctuation challenged Jose Saramagio.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Countdown to X-mas

One week left to go, I'm so very thankful that we're almost done with this holiday season. Everything is in full swing and I'm having a great time. There are parties, shopping, wrapping, enjoying the tree, defending the tree from an excited cat, who has been knocking balls off the tree and then laying on them to break them, and all manner of holiday cheer.

My brother announced last week that he's bringing his wife and lovely children home this year. This is the most wonderful gift that my mother could have received. She will cry and make embarrassing speeches, but it will be fun. I think I'll borrow the good camera from A&E to take photos. The girls are 16 and 12 and are quite beautiful. I did have to ramp up my gifts for them, as they are enduring a very long car ride (from Utah - no they are NOT Mormon) and should get some compensation. I think money will suffice.

I finished the last of my shopping today and had some things shipped to me via my parents house. It will be fun to get there and have items to wrap. Its a weird thing, but I love wrapping gifts. Eric pissed me off in the car today on the way home from the mall, so his gift might come in a grocery bag, but for the most part, I love to wrap gifts.

Y's annual (second year in a row) holiday party is tonight and I'm hoping to work in a nap before I go. Last year they were up until all hours and if I hope to stay competitive a nap is in order.

I have one last gift to get and if I had been thinking I would have bought it while I was on line with Shutterfly - but I can always go back.

The hard part for me at this time of year is that I'll get one gift for someone else but buy three for me. It's totally selfish. I hooked myself up at Old Navy with casual comfy clothes and socks. I did notice that it matters which Old Navy you go to. Things that were on sale at the Factoria store were either not on sale, or not on sale as much in the south center store. My $5 holiday Tee was $12 in southcenter. Shocking.

The last event to plan before the season is complete - a new years party. I'm working on Monica&Steve to host a party at their house. Monica is a much better house keeper than I and we won't have to drive. We'll bring a gallon of mir (also known as vodka) and it will be a hoot. Happy 2006.

This next week looks to be a b_Atch at work - so if you don't hear from me. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all that jazz.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's a Festivis Miracle!

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Rejects Reauthorization Of USA Patriot Act

Senate Turns Down Patriot Act Extension In a major defeat for President George W. Bush and Republican leaders, the Senate has rejected reauthorizing the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ah... LA

I know it's the cool and hip thing to do to complain about your job or your employer but honestly, my job is pretty cool. I am not tied to my desk, but not on the road so much that I'm known by the flight attendants. My co-workers are fun, the work is enjoyable and even though there are things that get on my nerves it's generally short lived.

I've been teaching a class to security administrators at MegaBank. The two classes on Monday were held locally and I left Tuesday to go to Los Angeles for the classes Wednesday. SportBoy came with and traveling with him reminds me of all the time spent in college hanging out with the 'guys' who were perfectly wonderful, but not at all datable because of the spaz quotient. Once you spend a lame Thursday night measuring the circumference of your calves to see who has the biggest, the romance is gone. It got pretty dull in Pullman and we couldn't drink all the time.

SportBoy and I arrived in sunny Los Angeles at the Bob Hope International Airport after dark on Tuesday. I'm not really sure if Bob Hope is an international airport or not - it's pretty small and like San Jose you have to step outside to get on the planes. It's all very "back in the day". We picked up our smokin' rental car - a Ford SUV and jumped onto "the 101" to sit in traffic. We did pass Warner Brother's studio and drove on Hollywood (avenue) for a while so I feel like I got the grand tour. This certainly isn't my first trip to LA and unlike the first time at the age of 9, I wasn't thinking we were going to have dinner next to anyone famous. At 9, I was scanning all the cars next to us (on the way to Disneyland) for Shawn Cassidy, the Brady's or Captain Kangaroo. I was convinced we would see famous people. Oh, the sadness of that disappointment in my young life still stings to this day.

SportBoy and I ended up having dinner outside on the patio at PF Changs' we were hot under the heat lamps while the people around us shivered in the 'cool' 50 degree evening. Had we known we were coming ahead of time, we could have gone to a cool Hollywood premier (his cousin is a promoter) but instead we discussed his love life over double pan fried noodles. He thinks his attraction to "Becca" is real because he can be himself with her. That's nice. He was unsure as to whether or not to offer a Christmas gift and we worked it out. Before we got back to the office today he stopped by Tiffany's and picked up a nice silver necklace - you're welcome Becca!

Anyway, he's totally smitten and it's really interesting to see romance from the dude's point of view. She called while we were at dinner last night and he practically got giggly. It was cute. I excused myself so he could talk with her and went to bed as we had to leave the hotel at 5:30 this morning.

I've never liked LA - it seems like the land of freeways and gang shootings to me. Sure the Hollywood glamour thing is awesome, but really how many of us normal people really touch that life other than to go to movies or read People magazine? Not very many. My dislike was lessened a little during this trip. On our way from the hotel to the campus we passed through a couple neighborhoods with houses that I could see myself in. We talked with some very nice folks - our waitress at PF Changs was down right personable. It's pretty easy to get around in LA - for the most part it's flat and the roads traverse the city - so you can get on one road and follow it forever - unlike here in Seattle where the lakes and mountains get in the way (Damn that bitch Mother Nature!) and in down town the only road that goes 'through' is 1st and 4th. Everything else is less than a mile long.

Our hotel was nice in appearance and the staff was attentive but the room seemed odd. The bathroom was situated so that if the door was open you couldn't get to the closet or the entrance to the room. Also, I couldn't find the remote for the tv. I looked EVERYwhere: behind the tv, in the cabinet, in all the drawers, in the bathroom, in the closet, under the beds, under the chair, under the cushions... everywhere. Finally, I called the service number and explained that I needed help finding the remote. The gal said: "We'll bring you one right away." What!? It perplexed me that the emphasis wasn't on finding the remote in my room, but to bring me one as if I had asked for the roll away bed. They knew there wasn't a remote in the room - and maybe they only have so many remotes and people have to share. I certainly hope that travelers don't take remotes. But, maybe they do and that's why in some of the more glamorous places I've stayed the remote is bolted to the night stand.

We had time between our classes and so SportBoy and I checked out the DWS store. Oooh, it's like the shoe pavilion, only more shoes! I replaced my worn Franco Sartos (that had been resoled twice, and I realized just yesterday had worn through the side near the little toe) and picked up a pair of cute Borns and a pair of Liz Clabornes. SportBoy is fun because he's all guy, and yet he doesn't mind shopping.

The flight out this morning was uneventful other than the fact that SportBoy is on the terrorist watch list and has to enjoy a full cavity search at every checkpoint. It gets old and it’s hard to maintain your good attitude when the TSA agent has his hand up your colleagues bum. But – as they say in the Navy… better your bum than mine!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Do it... do it now!!!!!!

There's a link on the side of my browser to "Don't Trust Snakes" you must NOW click over and view his awesome holiday photos.

Click on the "cans" and marvel at the wonderment of MWR's imagination.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Table for one

My list of things that are not fun for the single person to experience alone.

Trying to use half-off companion airfare coupons- I’m going to Spain and I’m taking me with me.
Board games & charades - hard to do with just one person.
Hide and seek – no matter how many times I play, I either find myself really fast, or I hide for hours on end and no one ever comes.
Horror Movies – it can be done, but it is hard to convince the stranger next to you to hold you during the really scary parts.
Putting up the Christmas tree – it’s just a little sad
Saturday night - the impression is that all your married friends are experiencing Sex-A-Palooza every Saturday night, and the singles who are couples are out on the town in their finest clothes drinking champagne and thanking their lucky stars they aren't on my couch watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
The New Years’ Eve kiss – the mirror is a little cold and it’s impossible to get the person in the mirror to tilt their head the other direction.
Choking – you can throw yourself over a chair, but it’s not as much fun as getting the hug of life from Matthew McConaughey.
Political Debate – I always win and while I feel superior it’s not much of a challenge.
Knock-Knock Jokes- “Ok, I asked you twice already… Who’s there?”
Valentines’ Day- This holiday sucks almost as much as new years’
Work events where spouses are expected - It's a strange place to bring a date, bringing your mom is sad, and dragging the cat is a career limiting move.
Edible underwear – no explanation needed

Friday, December 02, 2005

Boy, that sucks!

Those who know me well know I am somewhat susceptible to marketing ploys. I'm not one to wear Prada and I don't have to have the latest trinket - but some things catch my eye and I'm hooked.

The iPod is a good example of marketing that got me hooked. It's lucky for me that the product is actually amazing. I have deep emotional love for my iPod. It is everything the walkman was supposed to be and more. My mini has a place in my house, in my car, on the bus and at my desk. It allows me to shut out funny but loud Sportboy next door.

I have been noticing the commercials for the Dyson vacuum for the last year. Sportboy bought one and swears by it, my friend Sissy loves hers as well. What's not to love, it's sporty like a VW Beetle, it's got hoses galore that lock into place and disappear when not needed, and there aren't any bags to mess around with.

I was 90% sure a Dyson was going to replace my fading "dirt devil" from Target once the year end bonus is paid (on January 30th.... tick tock tick tock) but I decided to look at the ratings on Consumer Reports. It seemed like a prudent step before plunking down $300to $500 on an item. Well, sorry Dyson people... your vacuum doesn't even make the top 10 list.

The number one vacuum looked amazing, the reports were good with only one complaint: noise. It was priced at about $300 which, if you're prepared to plunk down $500, is a decent savings. But, I read the report for the second rated product, Boss SmartVac, which was equally rated in every category except for suction strength of the accessories. However, it was tested as noticeably quieter than the #1 vacuum. Quiet is good... but the thing that tipped the scale is that the #2 vacuum price was only $150.

I broke down and bought it two weeks ago. I've been running home every night hoping to have a big package on my doorstep. Yesterday I was sure was the day, as the online UPS tracker said it finally arrived in Renton and was ready for delivery. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived home to find nothing but the last of the fall leaves fluttering by my door. Where's the ice cream when you need it?

Around 8, I was watching anything but Joey on tv (sorry Friend, your show S-U-C-K-S!) when I heard a quick rap on the front door. After looking through the peep hole seeing no one, I was about to go back to my life when I spotted a something in the lower section of the peep hole. Mr. UPS had delivered the SmartVac! Thanks for the late delivery.

Around 8:15 SmartVac was assembled and my floors were being vacuumed. It is very quiet, and the tools seem pretty fantastic to me. The nasty condo carpet actually looked soft after a brush with SuperBoss.

Wow, I can't wait to run home and vacuum again tonight - my life is complete.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

LOST! : Major continuity error

I'm hooked on LOST! I'm not sure if its the survivor aspect, or the I heart Charlie -oops I mean Jack or the fact that Alias (congrats on the new baby Jen) and West Wing suck so bad that I had no other choice but to dive in heads first.

Anyway last night, I was on my couch leaning toward the tv with my mouth agape watching the show. Poor Sawyer (with the WORST hair in the world) writhing in pain from the self performed surgery to remove a bullet and he wakes up or is possessed by a ghost from Kate's past. As he's choking the crap out of her you can see in the background the amenities of the 'hatch' - this underground computer time capsule is run down, the walls have a lovely patina of grime, sweat and dust from 15 years of the hatch dude's (Desmond) living experience, aka farting in a small airless space. Everything is old, the lights flicker all the books look ancient, we get it... everything is old old old. Everything has that uses look about it except the washer and dryer. Desmond has is a fancy front loading Maytag circa 2005. How in the heck does that happen? Say it with me people Product Placement. The idea is that you see this man who somehow got talked into living in a cave with nothing but Johnny Mathis albums using the XRD-5810 front loader with extra capacity and you're going to want it.

I can respect the idea of making money where you can, but when it conflicts with the story -- the answer has to be no. I mean, come on, we're supposed to believe that he gets this computer to save the world with, and they give him this washing machine that has probably 20 times the computing power to clean his Adidas running shorts?

It distracted me so much that I tried to call the only other person I know who cares about the show, but she was (HELLO!?) asleep. The world is ENDING, it's going dark.... So my point and message to the writers of LOST - get it together. If you're going to write a smart show where you expect people to solve clues to know what the heck is happening... don't mess up with something like this. Maybe product placement isn't a good idea if continuity matters.

And, before MWR or Y comments, I KNOW, I should be watching Veronica Mars instead of LOST!, but I'm not. VM is like Gilmore Girls, I like it, but I can never remember when it's on - and I'm not going to choose VM over LOST. Sorry.

My weather pixie doesn't show it, but we've got snow! How exciting.