Friday, August 29, 2003

I believe in signs, and this is a humdinger

This assignment of characteristics was completely random...or engineered by a higher being. You decide.

is a Giant Dragon that Stomps Around a Lot, and is in League with Dark Forces.

Strength: 8 Agility: 9 Intelligence: 10

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat Erin, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights Erin using

(Thanks to Mike for pointing out somewhere for me to safely release my rage.)

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Some things can't be folded into the corner of the suitcase

Things are compacting, like a star just before it goes nova. Time, possessions, relationships. They press together tightly, overlapping, and rubbing, presaging either an explosion or a descent into dense nothingness.

Three weeks until I leave Houston, my home for the last four years. Three weeks, down from the six months I had when I first found out about the Austrian Adventure. Twenty-one days of summer left, instead of ninety. Three weeks to make my life fit into two smallish SUVs instead of a 500-square-foot apartment, a corner desk, and the Tracker.

My stuff seems to be crawling out of closests and corners, stretching slightly before settling into a crabby pile that says, "You've neglected me for a year, so I'm going to make this entire room smell musty." I'm slowly erasing my presence in my apartment, working from the back to the front. The living room looks like a rat's nest (enlarged to show detail, as they say), and the back bedroom is little more than a desert of beige carpet. Two SUVs: that's maybe 10 boxes, one of which is the cat carrier. The books have to stay, all 300 of them. Most of the kitchen. All of the furniture, obviously. And then from two SUVs, I have to get it down to a suitcase and a duffel bag. My life, travel sized. Doesn't work quite as well as miniature shampoo.

The relationships are the hardest to compact. How do you fit a friend into three lines in an address book, a confidant into a few words on a postcard? The last time I went abroad, it wasn't such a problem—I knew I was going to be gone less than six months, and that everybody would be there when I came back. As if all of Houston slept, waiting for me to come back and kiss it awake. This time, Sleeping Beauty's not even going to be around when I get back. The city will be there, but almost everything that made it home—my friends, my school, my apartment, my college self—will be long gone. The vestiges will have to be built into something else entirely. And in the meantime, I watch the idea of a 5,000 mile separation become a separation in its own right, a nasty foreshadow of the real thing that urges me both to let go and to cling.

It's amazing how deliberate the whole process is, when to all outward appearances, there is nothing but chaos taking place. Just like the molecules of that rogue star—more and more excited, wild, and apparently random, but all leading up to a predetermined outcome. Highly contradictory: thrilling and frightning, uncertain and inevitable.

Give me the explosion.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I really want to be Princess of Liechtenstein.

And while I'm wishing for things, I want this book to be done and SOMEBODY to give me a room in Stegersbach!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

And I don't even like Mexican food

I stole this from Mary's friend Chris's blog because I'm a) lazy, b) bored, and c) completely unable to come up with an interesting blog, outside of the fact that I listened to the Lizzy McGuire Movie soundtrack and I feel shame. Also, I like questionnaires, especially if they're about me. Not-so-latent narcissism.

The Ten-Layer Burrito..
Name: Erin
Birth date: March 23, 1981
Birthplace: Chadron, Nebraska
Current Location: Houston, Texas, for the next three-ish weeks.
Eye Color: Hazel, although if you ask anybody who knows me, they'll tell you brown. They're wrong.
Hair Color: Dark brown
Height: Almost 5'9"
Righty or Lefty: Righty
Zodiac Sign: Aries. Can't you figure this question out from the birthdate? Or is that too much work?

Your heritage: German, Irish, Polish, and Dutch. Probably some other random stuff, as well. German is predominant.
The shoes you wore today: Black flip-flops, the same as every other day this summer.
Your weakness: Sweets. And romantic comedies, which is the film-world equivalent of sweets.
Your fears: That's a long list. Not being liked is probably chief among them, though.
Your perfect pizza: Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, cheese. Thin crust.
Goal you'd like to achieve: Find housing for my move to Austria. This is stressing me out.

Your most overused phrase on AIM: "Excellent." Or "Very good." Usually I'm just saying them to say something and they don't mean anything.
Your thoughts first waking up: "8:04 minus 40...that's 7:20. I can sleep for 20 more minutes." My math isn't so great in the morning.
Your best physical feature: My hair? I don't know.
Your bedtime: Varies. I try to be in bed by midnight on "work nights," but I don't give myself a bedtime on weekends. Usually ends up being around 2 or 2:30 a.m.
Your most missed memory: What does this mean? Missed memory? I don't know. Most loved, probably any Christmas with my family in the past five or so years.

Pepsi or Coke: Diet Vanilla Coke.
McDonald's or Burger King: McDonald's. Burger King can suck it. Their fries are vile, among other things.
Adidas or Nike: Adidas, I suppose. Although I don't wear much from either company.
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Couldn't care less. Not a big tea drinker.
Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate almost always.
Cappuccino or coffee: Coffee, usually flavored with cream and sugar. It says, "I'm adult enough to drink coffee...almost."

Smoke: Occasionally when drinking, otherwise no.
Cuss: When provoked.
Sing: Constantly.
Take a shower: Reluctantly. In general, I don't like to get wet, but yes, I understand the need for personal hygeine. I almost always shower at night, though, so I can sleep through my hair drying.
Have a crush(es): Usually. Not right now.
Do you think you've been in love: No.
Want to go to college graduate school: Yeah, I do, despite the fact that I don't know if I'll ever get a job with a doctorate in prose literature.
Like(d) high school: That'd be a big "no." I wasn't miserable, to be sure, but it was sort of like having morning sickness: doesn't really hurt, but you never know what's going to make you vomit, so you lay still and hope it goes away.
Want to get married: Sure, someday. It becomes less and less of an automatic assumption as I get older, though.
Believe in yourself: Intermittently.
Get motion sickness: I used to, but not so much anymore. Occasionally when flying, I get this feeling I can only describe as being "sick to my head" when landing. My head feels like vomiting, but my stomach is fine.
Think you're attractive: Not really.
Think you're a health freak: Definitely not.
Get along with your parent(s): Absolutely. I adore them, and they have made the transition from authority figures to advice givers gracefully. I'm also unusually careful not to rock the boat, which helps.
Like thunderstorms: Adore them, too. Any sort of extreme weather makes me happy. I particularly enjoy lightning, though.
Play an instrument: No, sadly. I sing all the time, but I've got about as much coordination as God gave little green apples, which makes instruments difficult. I want to learn to play the guitar. Maybe when I get back.

In the past month...
Had alcohol: Yeah. We had margaritas at El Pueblito a couple of weeks ago, and I had a hard lemonade or something at that alumni thing.
Smoked: Nope.
Done a drug: If one can be said to "do" ibuprophen. Otherwise, no.
Had Sex: No.
Made Out: No.
Gone on a date: I've had several pseudo-dates with my pseudo-husband. A date-date, no.
Gone to the mall?: Yes. I bought four pairs of pants for $70. It was the bargain of the day.
Eaten an entire box of Oreos: Oreos don't come in boxes.
Eaten sushi: No. There's nothing about sushi that appeals to me, and yes, that includes the rice.
Been on stage: No.
Been dumped: Not romantically.
Made homemade cookies: No. I made brownies from a mix last week.
Gone skinny dipping: No.
Dyed your hair: No, but I've given it some serious consideration.
Stolen anything: Pens from work. Not intentionally, but I'm a pen klepto. If I use a pen, it becomes mine.

Played a game that required removal of clothing: Yes
If so, was it mixed company: Yes. And that's all I'm going to say.
Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: Yes, although I've never blacked out or even had a serious hangover. But drunk enough to say things I shouldn't have? Yes.
Been caught "doing something": My mom caught me snooping in Christmas presents one year. I mean, seriously, could you vague that up for me? (No, by the way.)
Been called a tease: Yes.
Gotten beaten up: No.
Shoplifted: Once, when I was seven or so. It was candy, naturally.
Changed who you were to fit in: Well, not changed, but definitely muted certain parts of my personality.

Age you hope to be married: I don't know. Before death?
Numbers and Names of Children: Zero kids. Maybe one of my sibs will be nice and let me name a niece or nephew.
Describe your Dream Wedding: Um, family and close friends at the church (so like...25 people), and then a cook-out for everybody we know (and, again, 25 people) at my parents' house. We can grill steaks, Mom can make a few cakes, and everybody can hang out and chat. There will be no more than three bridesmaids, I will not wear a ridiculously expensive dress, and nobody will be worried about last-minute details the day of the wedding. My husband and I will spend the reception chilling in lawn chairs, rather than jumping through hoops.
How do you want to die: Satisfied with what I've accomplished.
Where you want to go to college graduate school: Somewhere in the midwest, I think. University of Chicago and University of Illinois U-C are my top choices right now.
What do you want to be when you grow up: Professor of English. Or a bookstore owner. Or both.
What country would you most like to visit: Egypt. I wanted to be an Egyptologist from fifth grade until I was a freshman in high school. Pyramids still get me a little bothered.
In a guy/girl..
Best eye color: Doesn't matter that much to me. Deep brown? Whatever.
Best hair color: Again, whatever. The guys I've fallen for have had a pretty broad spectrum.
Short or long hair: Short, for sure. It's exceedingly rare that I think long hair looks good on a guy. Exceedingly.
Height: Taller than me is preferable, but I'll settle for within an inch.
Best weight: Eh. Not overly picky.
Best articles of clothing: I don' t have particular demands, but I do have deal-breakers. For example, pleated-front khakis are right out.
Best first date location: Coffe house or cafe. Something casual but with a decent scene. You can always fall back on people-watching.
Best first kiss location: Wherever. I don't think it matters all that much. It's about the kiss, not the location.

Number of drugs taken illegally: None. Well, I drank before I was of age.
Number of people you'd trust with your life: Five.
Number of CDs that I own: I don't know. I rarely listen to CDs. 50? At most.
Number of piercings: Four in the right ear, five in the left, and my left eyebrow. So 10.
Number of tattoos: Zero.
Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper?: I don't know, a bunch. When you live in a town of 5,000, it's not hard. Probably once a month or every other month while I was in high school.
Number of scars on my body: One on my left thigh from April of 1988, the same month that I smashed my finger in a heavy door so the nail fell off and that I sprained my ankle jumping off a retaining wall into a snowbank. I got the scar because I was running back from lunch in slick shoes (racing a boy), fell down, and cut my leg open. I had to get seven stitches. I screamed the whole way through the stitching, and what's funny is that I remember the exact moment I stopped screaming because it hurt and I was scared, and started screaming just to be contrary. I was also quite upset that I got blood on the brand new dress I was wearing that day. My mom had made it. It had a skirt that belled out when I spun around, and the fabric was a loud tropical pattern I had picked myself. It reminded me of Hawaii. Not that I'd ever been to Hawaii. Other than that, the usual assortment of small scars you acquire while growing up.
Number of things in my past that I regret: Multitudinous. I have an overdeveloped sense of guilt.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Enforcing rules for sign posting! Put that above the fold, Bill.

I was reading the online version of Senior Birdman's newspaper today, just to keep up with the goings-on at home. On a whim, I looked at the classified ads. I can rent a three-bedroom house in a perfectly decent part of town for $500. Is nobody else flabbergasted by this? Five hundred dollars! That's all! Absurd. I saw an efficiency advertised for $175.

And just so you understand the difference in the speed of life there, a selection of headlines from the "Headlines" and "Features" sections:

Canoe ride worth bumps and bruises
Catholic parish opens new chapter in history
Having a garage sale? Make sure you know rules on posting signs
Now, you can chat, snap and surf on cell phones
Popular plant giving city a splash of color

It might be the most calming newspaper in the world, I think.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

One time she fell in the pond, which was funny

E3 starts college today, which scores, on a scale from 1 to 10, a "super weird." Surely she's not old enough to be in college. I just adjusted to her being in high school.

In the combinatorics of the Four Es, E3 and I are perhaps the most volatile. We're like that science fair chestnut, the vinegar-and-baking-soda volcano. You have the baking soda, you add the vinegar, it explodes and boils over. Interesting the first time you see it, tolerable the second, and by the third time, you're pretty much embarrassed for the lame kid that thought it would be cool to do the same damn experiment that everybody else in history has already done.

My mom theorizes that we fight because we are so much alike, which sort of blows a hole in the baking soda theory. We are both artistic, strong-willed, easily wounded, and intelligent (you know, most of the time). But then, that could be a description of any of the four of us. In a lot of ways my sister and I are very different. She's outgoing, impulsive, pretty, and melodramatic. I am reserved, methodical, plain, and pragmatic. It is these traits—and their resulting worldviews—that lead to our fights. To keep up the chemistry analogy, the similarities are merely the catalysts. My theory/metaphor wins!

In any case, she's in college now, so hopefully we will have some interesting things to talk about the next time I see her. Arguing about whether Nero actually offed Agrippina or whether Chagall is beautiful (me) or perverted (her) is much more interesting and less like liquid hot magma than arguing about the best age to get married (her: 19, me, contrarily: 35), whose goals are less attainable (her: self-supporting artist, me: self-supporting bookstore owner/writer), and who is Mom's favorite (her: you, me: uh, not me).

So...happy colleging, E3. I hope you had as good or better a time as I did.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I couldn't possibly make this woman up

I forgot to tell you that Crazy Lady in 4's nudity has been confirmed by M2. Evidently channel surfing is best done at 12:40 a.m., nude and with the front door halfway open.

Matt's first response when he saw her? Yup. "Please stop taking the liberty..."
Things that aren't nearly as gross as you think they're going to be, especially if it's 7 p.m. and you're still at work and you haven't eaten dinner:

Yoplait Orange Crème yogurt.

It's been a long day, people.
Beiß mich, Telefonoperatorfrau

How to start your day off right:
Get up at quarter to seven, go straight to the telephone, and attempt to make an international phone call in a language you haven't spoken in a year and a half.

So that was fun.

And another thing: what is the deal with people not knowing what language they speak in Austria? I mean, really. Austria's in Europe, an area heavily emphasized in American public schools. It was part of Germany for a long friggin' time. Ah-nuld is from there. But people constantly ask me what language they speak in that evidently mysterious country. Typical conversation:

Ignorant person: So what did you major in?
Me: English and German.
IP: So what are you going to do with that, then?
Me: Well, next year I'm going to Austria to teach English.
IP: Oh yeah? Austria, huh? What language do they speak there?
Me: ...German?
IP: Oh. *Confused pause. Forehead furrows as if trying to remember something.* Austria...Austria....

I mean, even if you didn't know, me telling you my major should be a damn fine clue. A little logical reasoning is all I'm asking for.

Tex summed it up the best, I think, when I complained about this phenomenon to him: "Well, anyway. Austria's language isn't named after it, so it's not easy to remember like 'American.'"

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

All the programs are above average

I love The Writer's Almanac. It comes on my local NPR station at 8:34 every morning, which, if things are going okay, is about the time I get on the freeway to head to work.

The Almanac is a simple little program—it's just Garrison Keillor reading about the history of writers. Their lives, their deaths, their work. Sometimes he throws in historical tidbits that have nothing to do with literature. His voice is smooth and slow, but not drawling.

He reads a poem in almost every program. He's a good reader, but not outstanding—sometimes his inflections aren't quite right for the scan of the line, sometimes he forgets to put that little pause in at the end of the line—but his tone is so comforting that I will forgive him almost anything.

Even if I couldn't forgive his minescule imperfections, I would still listen to the Almanac for the line Keillor delivers without fail at the end of every program, in the tone of an affectionate uncle. "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch." It's a little benediction for the work day, and I inevitably feel strengthened when I hear him say it. I am well, I can do good work, I will keep in touch.

Thanks, Garrison.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Meanwhile, in your madness you've gone and concocted one of the best Playmate names ever.

I know Manada linked this already, but anything that makes me spit on my computer screen because I'm laughing too hard deserves a link from here, too. Check out the horrible baby names and hysterical commentary.
"She speaks poniards...and every word stabs."

Things I learned Saturday night from Dan and Erin, who are like the funniest people I've ever met.

  • When you are watching Much Ado About Nothing and Don John makes his first entrance, everybody who's even one little bit with it will say, "Woah."

  • If you hang out with a cadre of Erins (Aarons), they will band together and turn against you.

  • The definition of "bass face." (That face that white guys make when they play either bass guitar or double bass. It involves weirdly pursed lips and mostly closed eyes.)

  • It's okay to reference your blog in the real world. But not too often.

  • I am not smooth.

  • If you suspect your date (or the keyboardist of the band you're watching) is a Muppet, here are some simple questions to ask yourself: Is one arm tacked to his stomach, or are his elbows supported by sticks? Does she appear to eat, but actually allow food to fall to the floor? Does he have a ridiculously huge mouth with no teeth? Is there a hand up her butt?

  • Some foods are anathema even if they're free, including cheez curlz and those weird Oreos with chocolate filling.

  • Making fun of M2 is a good ice breaker.

  • Putting a large number of Rice alums in one place means everybody's going to have at least one awkward moment before the event is done.

  • As I suspected, it is weird when girls wear a skirt over pants. Or a dress over a skirt, like that chick with the super-shiny hair we saw at Brasil.

  • Some people are so cool that you can't possibly be shy around them.

  • Friday, August 15, 2003

    And this is why I don't consider myself "grown up" yet.

    So in German, Vienna is called "Wien." A man from Vienna is called a "Wiener."

    I never fail to giggle when I hear that.

    It also works for Frankfurt and Hamburg. And Berlin, if you know that "Berliner" is a kind of jelly donut they have over there.

    I also giggled the other day when someone in the next row over at Barnes & Noble farted.

    Thursday, August 14, 2003

    All this confusion is leading to cleaning the house, so I've got that goin' for me, which is nice.

    The air is crisper in Houston these days, and although I'm sure that's the temporary effect of some recent storms rather than the onset of autumn, the season is changing. Dusk crept in a little earlier tonight; I saw sweater sets for sale at Target the other day. Students have returned to campus at Rice.

    And I haven't.

    I think this more than anything has underlined for me the magnitude of the transition I'm making. After seventeen years, I'm no longer a student. In some ways I'm pathetically grateful—I'm not faking my way through another O-Week, nobody's demanding tuition money, and the writing I do consists of rambling sentences on a blog rather than focused commentary on a book I haven't read for a midterm I'm barely worried about. But in other ways, I'm terrified. I have to make a life from scratch now, without the Betty Crocker brownie mix of school—add eggs and oil, bake 30 minutes at 350º for delicious work and social life—to add to. I have to figure out my own answers now; there's no ready-made option.

    Until I started thinking abut it today, I didn't realize how much this transition has been affecting me. I've been existing in limbo this summer, denying the end of school and the beginning of "real life." Now that school's started again, I can't do that anymore, and everything is taking on a different signficance. It becomes a question of what has to be dealt with in the five weeks before I leave Houston. Is the leak in the bedroom so critical, or can I leave it for my landlord to deal with when I move out? Can I really finagle enough money to buy a computer in that time, or is paying off my plane ticket going to break me? Is it completely necessary to patch up that broken relationship, or can I just let time and absence heal it?

    I no longer have the luxury of "just seeing how it goes." Things have to be figured out now, decisions have to be made, action has to be taken, one way or the other. So I'm a little stressed out, a little fragile, and a lot tempted to do whatever's easiest instead of whatever's best.

    But at least I'm not steam-tunneling.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2003

    Now, if only you could spray it straight into your mouth...

    I don't iron my clothes very often. In fact, I make it a point to buy clothes that don't have to be ironed very often, if ever, because ironing is so low on my totem pole of priorities. And if I ever say to myself, "Oh, I'll just iron that in the morning," what I'm really saying is, "Eh, I can look a little wrinkled tomorrow."

    However, when I do decide to do my ironing, as I finally did last night, I do a good job of it. Everything comes out perfectly smooth, and there's no wrinkle I can't get out. This is because I abuse the spray starch mercilessly. I think spray starch is the cleverest thing to come out of a can since whipped cream. It makes things crunchy and it smells good—it's like a miracle, all for the bargain price of 99¢. I starch everything. Multiple times. I make little white starch puddles on tough creases. Sometimes I starch the ironing board, just for the hell of it. I starched the T-shirt I'm wearing today, and the ruffle of the skirt I have on is both shiny and stiff from the excess of starch I used. I may starch my pillowcases tonight.

    I make things as stiff as possible, but it's not quite stiff enough. I wish I could get things to stand up on their own. If I could do that, I'd iron everything I own, and then set them up in amusing tableaus in the living room. And I'd never go to work wrinkled again.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2003

    Pop quiz, hot shot

    If you were moving to a foreign country (say Austria) to teach English to students (say high schoolers) and you had to take stuff with you for lessons on U.S. culture, what would you take? The more specific you can be, the better.
    My book came

    It's still green. The pages are glued into the cover now, though, and that's very exciting. I guess.

    Monday, August 11, 2003

    Things I do that make my cat insane

    Owner Action: Putting small black collar on cat.
    Cat Reaction: Yowl. Bite collar, bite owner, bite brass I.D. tag. Groom chest repeatedly. Attempt to get head petted so owner will notice cruel oppression of cat's nudist sensibilities and remove offending item.

    Owner Action: Applying mascara to eyelashes (alternatively, plucking eyebrows, putting in contacts, flossing, or any activity that requires fine motor skills and mirror)
    Cat Reaction: Yowl. Jump on bathroom counter. Repeatedly butt head into owner's elbow until owner (a) pokes eye out, or (b) knocks cat into damp sink.

    Owner Action: Attempting to walk the six feet from kitchen to desk carrying bowl of Honeycombs cereal.
    Cat Reaction: Yowl. Walk directly under owner's feet. When kicked, yowl and flop down approximately two inches in front of where owner will put down her foot next. After mess has been cleaned and new bowl of cereal has been retrieved, cat may (a) repeat, or (b) wait patiently until owner sits, and then jump on desk and quickly begin eating Honeycomb.

    Owner Action: Flushing toilet.
    Cat Reaction: Yowl. Jump out of bathtub, put front two paws up on toilet seat and watch water swirl away. Never become less fascinated by this process. For added bonus, jump up on toilet seat entirely and drink from toilet as it refills. Eat out of owner's cereal bowl at soonest opportunity.

    Owner Action: Writing with pen.
    Cat Reaction: Yowl. Bite end of pen, disrupting owner's handwriting with line extending half way across page. If pen is moved, hold down owner's hand with paw (claws extended) and bite again. Attempt to puncture ink core so owner ends up with large black splotch on hand.

    Owner Action: Sleep.
    Cat Reaction: Yowl. Walk on owner's bed. Walk on owner's pillow. Walk on owner. Walk near owner, but do not touch her. Lay on owner, and yowl annoyedly when she rolls over. Put wet nose on inside of owner's elbow. Put wet nose on owner's stomach. Put wet nose on owner's cheek. Lay in front of alarm clock, so when owner attempts to hit snooze, she inadvertently pets cat instead. Bite owner's toes through sheet. Knead owner's breast. Leave owner alone for 15 minutes, then, just when owner has fallen asleep again, bunt owner's nose. When owner finally gets up, curl up for nap.

    Sunday, August 10, 2003

    I don't know who you think you are...

    ...but I am 22 years old and I will not be chastized like a child. I have a mother, thank you, although she doesn't stoop to guilt trips and disapproving tones of voice as a way of managing me. I am old enough to vote, drink, and acquire a handgun; I don't need to be managed. If you have a problem with my behavior, grow a pair and say so. Don't fed me a line of passive-aggressive bull, don't tell me what you "thought" I was going to do and how I've disappointed you so terribly by not doing it. Don't think: it can only hurt the ballclub.

    Lord knows I step out of line and need correction on a daily basis; this past week has been proof enough of that. But seeing as you are not the Lord, better be careful how you present your case. The patronizing looks and the dulcet tones? Yeah, I've got a handbasket and an address label for them right over there. Unless I'm kicking my feet and pounding my fists on the ground, you can treat me like an adult or you can go home. I'll do the same for you; we'll all get along swimmingly, and Target (not to mention the world) will be a much happier place, lady.

    Friday, August 08, 2003

    Well, at least something went the way it should have this summer

    The F&Gs of my book came back today. I got to see it in almost finished form—the cover is light green with a swirl pattern and grass-green trim, like all of our other books. The insides are neatly ordered, and the pages smell like fresh ink, a little metallic from the press.

    The tabs are in the right places, the signatures are in order, the edges of the pages are neatly trimmed. As soon as my boss gives the go-ahead to bind, we'll be in business. My name is in the introduction as the production manager, complete with professional-looking middle initial.

    I have accomplished something. I was in charge of the project for five months; I put in hundreds of hours, and now I have something concrete and interesting to show for it.

    I like this job.

    Thursday, August 07, 2003

    Vote for me if you want to live

    So Ah-nuld is running for governor of California.

    I cannot tell you how much of a fan of this move I am. Seriously, I think this might be the best thing to ever happen to U.S. politics. If he wins, it'll be like a parody better than anything Comedy Central could think up. An Austrian bodybuilder in charge of the fifth-largest economy in the world? Good plan! You thought Jesse Ventura was good in Minnesota? Wait until the Terminator is running California!

    Essentially, I think being governor of a state is an important job, and somebody's got to do it, but it's not like you can mess it up SO badly that it can't be fixed. And it's not like things could get too much worse—California is $38 billion in the hole, has no electricity, and is peopled largely by actors and kooks. May as well put an amusing captain on this ship of fools.
    PLEASE stop taking the liberty by being nude any more.

    I know I call my downstairs neighbor "the crazy lady in 4," but I didn't think she was actually crazy. I thought she was just a little off. Now...well, I'm beginning to think I hit the nail on the head with the first swing.

    I pulled into the parking lot in front of my building at a little after midnight, tired from carousing with 3M and S, and from the large amount of running around I had to do today. My headlights caught the door of Apartment 4, standing ajar as usual, with Crazy Lady peering out in the typical way of nosy neighbors. As I turned the corner to pull into my parking spot, I thought, "She's looking unusually svelte." I looked again. "As people do when they're NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHING. "

    Sure enough, she was totally nude. At least I assume so; I averted my eyes a nanosecond after I figured out that the blotch of white in the middle of her chest was actually a breast. (As I've remarked before, she enjoys tanning in a deck chair in our parking lot. Good to know she's not doing it topless.)

    Who opens their door when they're naked? Better yet, who greets their upstairs neighbor like nothing's going on when their naughty bits are on display? Because you know I walked past her door on my way up, just to confirm that she was, in fact, nude. And she was, my friends, she was, but that did not deter her from offering a casual, "Hi." I responded with my own "hi," walked upstairs, and promptly called M3, yelling, "Crazy lady is NUDE! NAKE-ED! Very nude! Aaaaah!"

    I probably should have called Social Services instead.

    Tuesday, August 05, 2003

    Petticoats and cravats for everybody!

    I hate the '80s. I know, it's practically heresy among my friends, but seriously, does that decade have any redeeming value? Stupid clothes, stupid music, stupid politics...I mean, really. Perhaps the most spectacularly awful decade in history.

    And of course, now the '80s are all hip again, which I absolutely reject. As M! observed, toys from the decade are being re-released, and evidently the Brits are all about '80s fashion. Stop. Just stop. Live in the now. Wear pants that aren't spray-painted on. Do not allow your hair to stray more than an inch or two from your head. Admit to yourself that Michael Jackson has always been more than a little off.

    Part of my problem might be that I was born in 1981. I was a horribly awkward child in a terribly unfortunate time, and the combination worked its black magic and saw me wearing too much neon and coveting a Cabbage Patch Kid while I sang Michael Bolton songs. The image is painful and the memory more so. I don't need to relive it, and I don't think anybody else in America really does, either.

    Actually, while we're at it, let me just say I reject reliving any decade. Th '60s are not inherently cooler than the '90s, and frankly, I'm just going to cry in 10 years when the '90s are on their way back in. Can't we just think up new trends instead of recycling lame ones already rejected over 20 years ago?

    Or, if we must relieve a decade, let's make it the '70s. The 1870s.

    Monday, August 04, 2003

    Bargain of the day: stress relief

    It was Tax-Free Weekend in Texas this weekend, meaning that school supplies and clothes were exempt from sales tax. This is particularly key in Houston, where sales tax is an annoying 8.25%. I'd been meaning to get a new pair of jeans for a while, so I braved the teeming masses at the nearest outlet mall.

    I've decided half the reason I normally hate clothes shopping is that I do it with friends. I love my friends and they are great fun to hang out with, but they also make shopping trips freaking interminable. Everybody has to wait while everybody else tries on the plaid skirt with the white top, the black top, the green top, then the white top with the khaki skirt, then the black top with the low-rise jeans, I'm going to eat your head if you don't put a move on it. Conversely, I always feel rushed when I'm trying things on, because I don't want to keep anybody else waiting longer than necessary.

    I also don't want to go into Foot Locker, Wilson's, Bath & Body Works, Mikasa, or Outdoor World. I don't want to stop and look at the kiosks; I don't need my name on a grain of rice. "Erin" is only four letters long; I could do it at home with a reasonably sharp crayon. I don't want to have coffee, I don't want to go back to Old Navy for the third time, and frankly, the salespeople in Kenneth Cole are a little of the sketch—please don't make me go in there.

    Today, though, the experience was mostly painless. I bought four pairs of pants and sundry other items, spent less than $100, and never waited in a line more than three minutes. I went to the stores that I wanted to and not to the ones I didn't; I was in and out in under three hours, and nobody complained about what I was doing the entire time I was there. Shopping alone is the best.

    Of course, I also bought a bra solely because it was shiny, so what do I know?

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