Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Feeling blah tonight.

At work, I spent most of the day taking inventory of the department's Safety videos. I know! What could be funner, you ask? I don't know, but I do know that it took all freakin' day. Then I learned how to prepare this report for my boss that seems overly complicated. I'm looking forward to doing it a few more times and working out a better system for next year.

I was on the phone with an IT guy when my co-workers went for their morning walk, so I went by myself about 30 minutes later. Boy it was hot today. I made it all the way up the hill (it's a big hill!) but it took me a good 20 minutes to cool off once I got back to my desk. I know I am a gigantic sloth so it shouldn't be surprising, but man: I was kind of miserable for awhile there. In the afternoon, I was working on that report thing with the safety officer, so I couldn't go for a walk then, but I don't think I would've wanted to. It was just too gross outside today.

After I finished up the report, I got an email from Patrick. He found out today that this woman we both worked for when we were at the library, and with whom we just had lunch in Culver City on Sunday, had a heart attack and passed away yesterday.

I'm sort of in shock about it. It just seems so weird that I just saw her, and commented to Patrick about how great she looked, and spoke to her, quite a bit.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm a tumbler

Meanwhile, dyslexics all across the United States are asking the Republican party,

"Who's 'Courtny Frist'?"


Sure, the timeliness of this joke, if it even qualifies as a "joke"!, is suspect. And, before I polished it up, I was going with, "Who's 'Courtny'?" as the punchline. Patrick thought that was too cryptic, so he insisted I find a picture to accompany it. I did a little searching for a good image, and what I really wanted, I couldn't find, so I found something that sort of worked.

And then I rewrote the punchline (again, with full acknowledgment that this joke has probably been all over the world before my little head thought of it), so the picture wasn't necessary.

And now you know why I'm not a professional joke writer.

Though I am concerned: I think I just heard Chris Matthews quoting the Talking Heads' "Born Under Punches." I had no idea "I'm a tumbler" meant anything other than David Byrne's art school gibberish.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Finally... a good haircut

After a lifetime of bad haircuts (I'm talking about "professional" haircut - every haircut ever gotten by me in Missy's backyard was a gem), I may have finally - through lucky googling - found the place for me.

Actually this might be a better picture of my nose (damn I didn't realize just how BIG it is). Still. I'm quite pleased, even though I'm well aware that it will look nowhere near this good tomorrow.

My hair, not my nose.

Rocket Science Hair Salon
4195 North Viking Way
Long Beach, CA 90808

Thursday, September 25, 2008

There's madness to our magic

One day I was flipping around on the Internet, and I found somebody's blog where all the posts were entries people had written in the guy's yearbooks. He was my age and pathetic, obviously. And - he gave me an idea.

I think I'm going to start doing the same thing, but instead of doing it all the time to the exclusion of writing about other things, it's just going to be one entry, once in awhile.

Today we inaugurate... "Yearbook Thursday."*

Today's entry is from my 10th grade yearbook. It was 1988. I have no idea why the theme of the yearbook was "There's Magic to Our Madness." If I really cared I would scan the cover but I'm not feeling that inspired by this feature yet. Maybe future posts will include a photo of the cover of the yearbook.

Anyway, here's what my friend Sean wrote. Sean as in "daydreaming in AP World History drawing pictures of the back of Sean's head" Sean. Yes. He was (is) real.


Hey beautiful! I'm glad to know you, I'll miss you, school was hell, etc., etc., & other boring yearbook stuff. Now for something real... You're a wonderful person with a lot to say. I've learned from you and I've enjoyed learning. I'll miss you. When I get my license I'll visit you. But until then we can still go see a movie or something. Call me, we'll set it up.


That's pretty slick for a kid who couldn't drive. Under his name he wrote his phone number. I never called him. It would've been fun to hang out with Sean; what a dork I was. To be honest, I doubt very much that I really read what he wrote, which is surprisingly sweet. I had no idea he was so nice. Yearbook bullshit, maybe (as he notes. He was a smart one, that Sean. Mentioning yearbook bullshit while writing yearbook bullshit - that's talented. And maybe he meant it, which takes it all up a level. God. What little geniuses we were).

*Not to be confused with "Yearbook Tuesday," or "Yearbook Wednesday." I'm on my own schedule, not yours. Oh, and don't lie: you know when you read that you were all, "Wow, what an ingenious and brilliant title!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

AKA "Jane Doe"

I sent an email to a friend of mine over Facebook... First let me come right out and say that I am addicted to Facebook: I've reconnected with people I haven't seen in 20 years, or people who moved away, and some of those people and I are having meaningful relationships... in between Scrabble/Word Scraper moves. So if you're here because of a posted note on my profile, thanks for showing up! Okay, where the hell was I?

Oh yes. I wrote a message to my friend, who we'll call, because it's his name, "Barry." I've known Barry since the 8th grade (in fact, I had a crush on him, a fact which I hope he knew before because wow, awkward). Now, you may find yourself asking the following questions, especially if you've been reading this blog for any significant amount of time: "Who didn't you have a crush on?" and "Why do you feel the need to share that with us?" Those are legitimate questions. But I think the more important question is, What did all those people have in common, and how interesting would the tale of my persual [is that a word?] be? Because you know what? If I have done anything in my life, I have surely made it interesting for those on whom my eye was caught). At the time, he was a slightly older man/boy with whom I probably talked to without fear in my eyes exactly zero times. As we both got older, I lightened up slightly, but I still found myself praying to God that the next time I talked to him, I might be able to speak halfway intelligently. It's kind of interesting, because I have to give him credit for making me want to be smarter and not prettier. I have no idea if I succeeded. But see, knowing him now (via Facebook, where to "know" someone is to read that they, "are standing in a real long line."), where I have time to cultivate what I say to him (if and when I say something to him), and to spell-check, well - I feel like I can keep up a bit better now.

But see, I keep getting distracted.

So I sent this email to Barry (AKA "Barry") because he had made a comment about some Stewart Copeland-related thing I had posted on Facebook (I think my status for a couple of days was, "Irene Casarez Palma is wondering how she should tell Stewart Copeland when he is pushing the tempo" or some such nonsense), or maybe I had posted somebody's You Tube video of Stewart doing something charming and displaying remarkable indepence amongst his limbs (I've seen a lot of You Tube videos, but I try to stay away from the ones people post that are one step up from PowerPoint presentations of photos of Stewart backed with some weird song or another. Those are just creepy, as are the people who make them. I, for example, would never stoop so low) - anyway, Barry had written something funny and pithy and wise on my "Wall."

Yes, folks, this is what us dork Facebook-ers do.

Anyway, he wrote something, and I thought, hey, Barry's paying attention, that's pretty cool.

Then I got a little freaked out, because I wasn't sure how deep into this crap he had gone. My blog links to my Facebook page, so every time I write something here, it automatically goes up over there, too. There's some weird shit on this blog, especially if you delve into the archives, which I alternate between wanting you to do... and not wanting you to do. And that's where things start to get tricky.

See, I've thought of myself, and portrayed myself, as an outsider - half geek, half snob, half funnier-than you, half really bad at math. And my time in high school was pretty pathetic. My vision of myself, while self-deprecatingly funny now, wasn't all that funny then. And now a lot of those people are my "friends" and here you are, Jane Doe (not an actual friend of mine), reading this shit. What do these people think of the so-called normal posts, to say nothing of the deep twisted fantasy world that is my obsession with all things Stewart Copeland?

So I wrote this fucking email (I say "fucking" because this could be the biggest build up ever and even I'm getting impatient) to Barry, which it's taken me like 2 million years to get to in this post (sorry!), who I've always sort of looked up to (the guy is an amazing musician and - I did not know this until recently - apparently a visionary businessman as well)... oh: read it and you decide:

From: Irene
To: Barry
September 19 at 11:51 p.m.

Barry, is my Stewart Copeland fixation (what you've seen of it here on Facebook) creepy or in anyway coming off as a sign of mental illness?

It's what, 3 days later, and no response from Barry. Now, to me that means the answer to my question is, "Yes (creepy) and possibly (mental illness)." But I'm not taking his lack of response too seriously, I mean, he could be out of town or not know what to say in response to this. He could quite simply have better things to do. It was kind of an unfair question: we haven't been in the same room since 1987, and how could he judge? And why would I want him to, truly? But I have to say, having sort of experienced a little bit of my fixation (albeit years and years ago before I had truly perfected my technique of Special Ops obsessions; he probably doesn't even remember)... maybe now I've freaked him out too.

Well. Sorry, dude. Sometimes I kind of lose track of what's real and what's, um, not. I know that not everyone gets my sense of humor. Or at least I'm learning. Please don't use that against me in the sanity hearing.

All this kind of makes the whole "I'm not crazy" business seem less believable now, huh.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An old photo

I was going through a bunch of old photos, on the computer and in boxes, and ran across this one of me and my friend Bo, one of my favorite people in the entire world, from when we still worked at the bookstore. It's probably 8 years old. I like how young we both look, and how skinny I look, even though my hair is flat, I needed to groom my eyebrows (and some lipgloss wouldn't have hurt either), and those glasses suck. I did get a lot of good wear out of that sweater. I wonder what happened to it?

I've probably posted this picture before; I suspect that I just like looking at it.

And hey, give him a break, the guy's from West Virginia. He didn't have braces. He's lucky to have teeth at all.*

*This is not a dig at West Virginia, which I'm sure is a fine place with excellent dental care; this is merely a lame example of the way he and I talk to each other. Believe me this is nowhere near our real conversations, where nothing is sacred and neither one of us emerges unscathed. The funny thing is, I love talking like that with this guy, and would put up with it from nobody else. So don't even think about it, mister.

This is an unedited post that may be deleted or updated with more interesting items later.

I hope I'm not spoiling anything by saying this, but Patrick is off today with the members of Magnolia Thunderpussy, having what they called a "jam session." (I emphasized "they" because "jam session" is one of those words and phrases that always kind of makes me giggle. It's a legitimite descriptor of what's going on over there but it carries with it, for me, connotations of dudes sitting around in a smoky room, wearing berets, eyes half-mast, saying things like "groovy man" and "that's hot." I totally need to get a better grip on things, yes, I know.) It's a different kind of thing than what they've done in the past - Patrick and Chris, the guitarist, have self-educated themselves and are now experts in the art of computer-aided composition/recording. I'm sure I've not described just what they can do accurately. I will say that I took a CD of something Patrick had created to this guy I knew at my last job who has a professional recording studio, and he said (so that you won't think that I'm just some know-nothing wife) that he was very impressed with Pat's work, and that he would hire him. It's like everything Patrick does well: he immerses himself in it up to his eyeballs, he does it non-stop for a couple of weeks, and then he knows everything. It's kind of freaky. So Patrick, Chris, and Dave will be jamming away for god only knows how long (until the cops shut them down, presumably).

Anyway, I had totally wanted to go but of course bringing your wife (second-class citizen) to a jam session is frowned upon (I would've sat, as quiet and still [stiller, probably] as Michael's mouse), so I am at home again, today. I've been reading this sci-fi book my friend Bo recommended; it's a series and now I'm on book 2, which isn't disappointing, necessarily, but still suffers from the second book slump a little. I planned on maybe reading a bit of that.

If anything else happens that's exciting I'll let you know. I'm not exactly sure what that could be, but if I crack open a beer or go to the grocery store - well. Those details will not be hidden from you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The brain

Patrick has been on the phone all morning calling around to music stores trying to find a cymbal clamp for mounting an electronic drum kit brain. Mostly it seems he's been getting what he calls the "pimply drum geeks" who don't know what the hell he's talking about, but a few moments ago he just found what he needed from one store close by our house (he's been trying to avoid going to Hollywood or Santa Monica).

I've been getting a kick out of hearing him say, "it's to mount the brain." The BRAIN. Creepy!

I just asked Patrick for details about the specific type of drum brain he has. Follows is our actual conversation:

Me: What kind of drum brain do you have?
Patrick: It's a very sophisticated model.
Me: Well what is it? I want to post a picture to go with this silly story I'm writing on my blog.
Patrick: It's called a medulla oblangata.
Me: (Pause) (Laughter)
Me: Smart ass!

(For those of you who are still reading and are curious, it's an Alesis Trigger I/O.)
("Medulla Oblangata" sounds like a rejected Police album title. I bet Sting would've been all over that title.)


So now Patrick's packed up his gear, is heading out to the store and then cruising up to Culver City to meet up with his friend Chris to set up for a jam session tomorrow (how many times can I use the word "up" in a sentence?). I was going to go but decided moping around in my nightgown drinking diet cokes and listening to Big Boys was a better idea. Right before he left I sort of begged him (jokingly of course, let's not put off any erroneous visions of me being pathetic here) to come home in time to take me to the movies or something tonight and he gently reminded me of all the times his weekend is spent at home alone while I'm off pushing "play" and "go" at the theater.

Well. Fine, then.

I totally need to write another installment for the Great Adventures of Irene and Stewart Copeland. I'm behind.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I don't know who Daisy Lowe is...

(Rob Lowe's daughter?)

but this is seriously cute, I don't care what the Fug Girls say.

Two wishes

Yesterday I made two wishes, and one came true:

I was at a meeting for work, and at the end of it, they gave away an iPod Shuffle. I decided to test my powers of wishing, so I wished to win it, and for one other thing.

I won the iPod (thanks to a guy named Marco. He actually won it but had to be present to win. Leaving early was a big mistake, Marco!).

The other wish didn't come true. I won't tell you what it was. There's still time, I guess.

Since I already have and adore my iPod Classic, I gave the Shuffle to Patrick. It's pretty cute. He's already dreaming of ways to subvert it. I'm sure soon he will be making it, I don't know, open the garage door or something.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Great gig in the sky - now with photos

This morning at around 10 o'clock, I went for a walk. My new office is in Los Angeles. A big town, Los Angeles, and the name doesn't really tell you much, does it. I could be anywhere. I won't get specific, but I will tell you that I was on a road that climbs steadily up and around a small mountain. There are other facilities on this road, but it's mostly open space. I didn't see any other walkers, but usually there are a few out there at any point during the day. I was glad I didn't see anyone, because my pants, which are fine in heels, are way too long when I'm wearing flats or sneakers. I had cuffed them to keep them out of the dirt, and I felt a little ridiculous. The route I took today is along a nice stretch of concrete, rimmed by some wild-ish space, an area where the Sheriff's department trains their K-9 units and new recruits, a helicopter pad, and a pistol range (quite a lot of detail there, for those of you triangulating my position). For some reason I feel safe out there.

I was walking along, looking at the sky, thinking about a line from "Bad Penny" about the sky (more on this in a minute), thinking about Richard Wright from Pink Floyd and how talented all those guys were (we watched, again, the "Classic Albums" on the making of "The Dark Side of the Moon" last night; the piano in "The Great Gig in the Sky" is getting written about all over the web today, and for good reason), thinking about my terrible sleep pattern over the past few days, and how I've been laying awake for most of the night, only to finally fall asleep sometime after 2 a.m., and then wake up before the alarm goes off, usually around 4:45 (my alarm is set for 5 a.m.). It's dark at 4:45, in case you didn't know. And then, this morning when I finally got on the road at 6:15, I was driving right at the setting full moon [the moon was full on Monday].

It was pretty spectacular. The size of it, mostly - it was so huge, and so white, and so round. It poked in and out of some wispy clouds, and was right in the middle of the clearance from the trees on the street I was on. I actually pulled out my camera and took a photo. I did the same thing yesterday. Neither photo is very good - the tiny moon looks like a pinpoint, not the giant white sphere I saw when I pulled over with the window down, my arm hanging out to take the photo.

On my walk, I thought about how I never really consider the sky unless I'm thinking about the things that are "on" it. Or in it? Clouds, stars, the big ol' beating heart of the sun, the moon, planes, birds, smog. I think about how those things look in contrast to all that blueness, or blackness, as the case may be. In fact, I wrote a poem (the only poem I ever wrote worth mentioning; maybe one day I'll stop trotting it out like it's my pride and joy [maybe it is]) about how to me, the sky looks flat, like a drawing in pencil, or crayola. I think the sky is like a hat we're all wearing, and what we see is the inside, the seams and lint and dust that stick to the insides of it. I guess that's not really true, though, because the image of a hat implies that the sky is protecting us from something, and as Hurricane Ike and other extreme weather proves, the sky doesn't protect us at all. Maybe the sky is just waiting to hit us with everything it's got. I don't know who or what makes the sky do what it does. Weather just is. I'm sure a meteorologist could provide a better explanation, but right now I don't need one. If you do, feel free to look it up on your own time.

The line from "Bad Penny," the part that I'm thinking about, is spoken by Kat (her hobby is myth), and it's something about how the sky is an optical illusion, a big fake. And I'm finding that right now what is happening is that I am thinking about a play I saw and worked probably 21 times, fairly recently, and only now are the words I heard all those times filtering their way past my skull and into my brain. Re-reading my script just now to see if my memory was right about the words Kat uses, I remember that I like the part where she says in such a long and confusing way that during the day we can't see the stars, but we know they're there; and then at night, when we can see them, all we're really seeing is an image of them because they're so far away that no one could actually see the stars themselves. It's not just distance, crazy Kat, it's time.

Kat (or Mac Wellman, the author) takes what I said about thinking about the sky and makes it much more interesting. I thought it was all just a flat surface on which to place things - the sky as designed by the guys who make South Park. Cutouts of construction paper: things may touch each other but they don't intersect, they don't do anything, they just sit there (the things on South Park do stuff, they don't just sit there). To her it's somebody playing a trick on her, that what we think we see is just a cover for an even more amazing place where all the mundane and meaningless things of the world go forever, even when we think they're "lost." She names things like coat hangers and socks but what if the things hiding out in the sky are more important than that? Dreams, and wishes, and meaningful looks. Or maybe what the sky is is just infinite nothing. If I were a better writer I'd know how to say what it is I'm feeling about all this. All I can say now, poorly I guess, is that it makes me feel very small, and a little tinny, like a music box person.

It's funny that this is what I'm thinking about now, during the day. At night, when I'm lying there awake, not sleeping, all I'm thinking about is the fact that I'm lying there, awake, not sleeping. I'm lying there, pissed off and frustrated, and that's all I care about, what I'm not getting at the time I'm supposed to be getting it. I wrote that sentence, and I wonder how true that is at other times. Me not getting what I want at the time I think I deserve it, I mean. I'm not sure that if that makes me a nice person or a bitch; I do know it makes for less sleep than I need. The bitch in me would say, less sleep than I deserve.

I seem to be making it through the day okay on minimal sleep, but then again most of my co-workers are out of the office and I haven't done much interaction with other people today. Maybe tonight, if the same thing happens, instead of lying there angry and confused and tangled up in a big burrito wrapping of blankets, I'll get up and go sit on the porch and look at the sky, the moon, and the stars. Or even just an image of the stars, I don't really care which it is.

These photos would probably be more effective had I taken them at the same time of morning, from the same point in the street, and if the actual moon were in focus, and maybe more obvious (especially on the left. Can you even see it?). Oh, well. Interesting exercise, this, and maybe I'll do it again with more forethought.

The moon

So for the last four or five days I've had the hardest time getting to sleep. I'm tired, I read a little, I go to bed, and then I lie there. For hours.

Yesterday I got up and there was this big ass moon out my window. I don't know what time it was. And then I guess I finally fell asleep. When I was driving down the street to work at around 6:10, there was that moon again, on the other side.

I don't know why I can't sleep. Maybe too many diet cokes, too much champagne on Sunday at a baby shower, too many unfulfilled fantasies. I don't know. But it sucks.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I have no idea why I'm still awake

Tonight I came home from my flute lesson, and sat down to watch TV and hang out with Patrick. I wanted a banana milkshake but it was too late. So instead Patrick got us both huge bowls of watermelon that my friend Bo and his wife grew for me. Yes. They grew me a watermelon. For ME they grew a watermelon. I suspect that the whole time that watermelon was in the ground, they were going outside to look at it, whispering and pointing, going, Look at Irene's watermelon! It was pretty awesome, and I actually took a few days before I could eat it, because it seemed so personal.

It did, okay? I'm not crazy. I just felt honored and loved, a little. Shut up now, you.

Anyway, so we sat all over the couches with our chins dripping with watermelon juice, watching Real Time with Bill Maher, eating this delicious watermelon, when who comes along but Franny, the incredible eating machine. She will try anything, and I mean anything. Franny has had a bite from every plate of food I have sat down with since we got her. Perhaps this is bad behavior that we shouldn't be encouraging - but if you haven't seen her try to snag, oh, I don't know, garbanzo beans off your plate with her little paw you just haven't seen anything. I mean it's so damn cute.

So here comes Franny, cruising along on the back of the couch, wondering what all this chewing was about, and how she could get in on the action.

I held out a piece of watermelon for her to smell, and of course she licked it. Then she tried to take a tiny bite, but cats, or at least this one does, have a hard time with biting something from the air like that (except ice cream cones; she does a great job with ice cream cones), so I bit off a teeny piece and placed it in the palm of my hand (what? we share in my house). She sniffed it, ate it, and then came back for more.

I, however, did not indulge her. See? I want her to know what these things we're enjoying so much are, but I'm not gross.

Here's the transcript of the conversation during this encounter:

Me: Man! Is there anything Franny won't eat?
Patrick: No, I think she'll eat anything.
Me: Shit, you're going to come home one day and find that I've died... and there will be Franny, licking her chops.
Me (to Franny): I bet I look pretty tasty, huh Franny.
Franny: [Silence.]
Me: Yeah, there'll be tiny little mouth prints all over me. She'll be taking a bite from here, a bite from there, trying to figure out the light meat from the dark meat...

The funny thing is, she looks at me all the time like, "OK, look lady. I love you, even though you insist on picking me up and kissing me and making weird smoochy sounds at me. You're just great, don't ever change. But I do wonder... what the meat from inside your elbow would taste like. Yeah, just once in awhile, don't worry about it. Really. Don't worry about it."

When I'm laying there on the kitchen floor, semi-conscious, and Franny suspects that the opportunity to take a little test-bite has come, this is probably the last thing I will see. It's not cannibalism if we're not of the same species, right?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday I'm in love

(I was never a huge fan of that Cure song)

So it's Friday. My first Friday of many Fridays that I'm going to be off. Is that a grammatically correct sentence? What the fuck do I care: I have all day to fix it.

Yesterday I was making big plans for my day off - I was going to get up early and take my car to the car wash (it's filthy). Then I was going to ride my bike down to the Lakewood mall, where I would eat lunch at Souplantation. Then I was going to go shopping for a baby shower gift for my friend David's wife Susan. Then I was going to ride my bike back home and do some laundry, vacuum, watch my TV shows that were taped during the week and I was too tired to watch (or Patrick hates those shows). Then I was going to take a little nap, and then I was going to drive up to Culver City for a flute lesson.

Instead, I slept in until 10 o'clock. When I did get up, I listened a little to Air Talk (Larry Mantle was taking calls from people who saw the Sarah Palin interview with Charles Gibson last night. I'm not crazy about call-in shows, but I do like Larry), read a little (I am currently reading two books, and re-reading one. See the sidebar for details), and then Puma wanted to be brushed, so I brushed Puma. He's such a good boy. Look at that expression: can any cat be sweeter? He has all this extra fur right now, and I'm a little worried about that. My other two cats have such silky (but short) coats. His fur is short, thick and baby gorilla-like. There's a ton of it, and it's all floating around the living room right now. I bought him a new brush last night, and he seems to like it a lot.

Anyway, it's kind of gray outside, not nice enough for a bike ride. I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast (Franny finished up the extra milk) and now I think I'll just go take a shower and go shopping for the baby shower present. I love buying gifts for babies, but the invitation specified that we have to wear something pink. I think the only pink I have is this ratty pink t-shirt. Everything is sort of small on me right now (hence the need for a bike ride) but I don't think I'm going to lose 10 pounds before Sunday, bike ride or no bike ride, so I'd better just suck it up and get used to it.


Oh, and I've been meaning to mention this for a week now: I finally saw "Juno" the other night, and yes, I realize I may have been the last person in the world (my mother and mother-in-law saw it in the movie theater the week it came out. How's that for a Twilight Zone moment?) to have seen it, so I'll keep my comments short:

1. Ellen Page was perfect.
2. Allison Janney was perfect.
3. It all felt a little too Gilmore Girls-esque for me, with the hip music references and the lightening fast delivery. And while I'd rather hang out with Juno over Rory, Lorelai wins, hands down.
4. Could Michael Cera have any whiter legs?
5. Jason Bateman was perfect as a wannabe Kurt Cobain, but a guy that age with those musical influences, and he didn't know Mott the Hoople? Seriously, that is 100% unbelievable.
6. I've been telling Patrick that Sonic Youth is just noise for YEARS now (but their cover of that Carpenters song is kind of genius).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Actual conversation

(Cell phone conversation between me and Patrick. Location: parking lot. Time: lunch. Mood: ebullient.)

Me: Hi, sweetie.
Patrick: Hi. How's your day going?
Me [Covers mouth for some privacy. Some guy was walking behind me]: Dude! I think I've died and gone to heaven.
Patrick (Chuckling): What? Why?
Me: I am going to LOVE IT HERE.

Today was my first day at my new job. Everything was 100% better than I could've even hoped it would be. I am very happy to be somewhere where politeness and friendliness seem to reign supreme. Even if my work load turns out to be twice as much as what I expect it to be, I will still be doing about 1/4 of what I was doing before. I see the light, and it is this new job.

The only bad part is getting up at 5 a.m. But I can get used to it, and I can look forward to sleeping in EVERY FRIDAY from now on! Woo-hoo!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

You're all I've got tonight

(The title of today's post, I'm 99.9% sure, has nothing to do whatsoever with what I'm about to type. It's just, the Cars are playing on KLOS in the other room, and I'm too lazy to get up and turn it off. Plus, it makes a good title. I mean, it worked for the Cars, right? But it's not night, and you are, no offense, in fact, not all I've got tonight. It was either KLOS or A Prairie Home Companion, and I refuse, refuse I say! to listen to A Prairie Home Companion. Never, ever.)

So today Patrick took off early for his friend Phil's house. Patrick has been building a computer for Phil all week, and I'm really glad he's done. It was too hot for him to work in the garage, so he had everything spread out all over the living room... but now it's all gone. I'm trying to train him to remove his tools from the house when he's done with them (once I found a screwdriver in between the couch cushions; let's not even get started on all the hard drives I found in a basket in the bookcase the other night), but he's like a little kid: he just can't do it. Well. He has few faults, so, better this than, I don't know, abuse.

While he's been gone, I took this opportunity to finally start cleaning my "office." We call it that ("Irene's office") but really it's just the second, smaller bedroom. I suppose we could call it "the nursery" but then it would just be an empty room with nothing in it. Now it's a room with a shitload of computer equipment, a bunch of hundred year old bills and files and paper and gift wrap and our winter coats and luggage, and somehow this room has gotten really, really, disgustingly messy.

One thing I feel particularly good about but I know won't make Patrick very happy is, I removed the kitty tree. We've had this kitty tree for 10 years, and in spite of being vacuumed (infrequently, it's true, but we did do it once in a while), it still looked like a petrified relative of Chewbacca - so I took it out. Yes, the cats lose a favorite napping spot, but look, I have one bed, a couch, a couple of chairs. All of these places for humans to rest are of course shared with the cats. The cats have a dozen places to sleep. I mean, they can hang out on anything, and in fact, often just stretch right out on the cold hard floor. Except for the kitchen counters, there's really no place in my home they can't go. Do they need a six foot tall kitty tree? I think not. I've tried to get rid of it before, and Patrick always talks me out of it, but with him being gone, I sucked it up and hauled the heavy thing out myself. And that sucker was heavy.

Well. Maybe we'll get them a new one. Will have to see how much they protest it being gone.

Another thing I'm proud of, I rearranged all the computer parts. Our computer has sort of grown, not unlike some creepy black-cabled sea creature, and the cables and power cords and USB cables were all in a giant, seething, impenetrable snarl under my desk that was also home, as it turned out, to quite a few almost animate dust bunnies (I swear I saw one try to run away). There were pieces of computer everywhere. The most dramatic change was pulling the CPU from off the floor and putting in, vertical, on top of my desk. Now I won't be stubbing my toes all the damn time.

Unplugging everything and setting it all up again was a bit like putting together a giant living puzzle - our cables aren't labeled or anything organized like that, but it really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and now, everything works (I did panic at first when I couldn't get on the Internet, but then I remembered that I had unplugged the modem. Plugging it back in solved that minor problem. Funny, how simple it was). There was only one cable left over, and yes, that concerned me for awhile, but then Patrick called to check in, and I asked him about it, and he said he wasn't using that particular cable anymore. I was relieved, and rather wished I hadn't asked.

He's going to come home and help me with "cable management." He has a big box of fancy twist ties, and after hearing him go on and on about his superior skills with twist ties (compared to some of his co-workers; he's really quite competitive about the funniest things) at work, I've challenged him to put up or shut up on our very own machine. See, I've figured out how he works: challenge him and he bites. Ask him, and he finds something better to do.

I still have a massive pile of paperwork to go through, and the stuff I brought home from work (three boxes worth of stuff. In 22 months at that job I accumulated quite a mass of crap). Most of it, I guess, can go with me on Monday to my new job, but I'm pretty sure most of it is trash.

This project has been on the back of my mind for awhile now, and I've been ignoring it, as I am wont to do. I guess I kept thinking it would get better by itself. It didn't. No one was more surprised than I was when it actually got worse. Now that I'm about halfway through, though, I realize that I've gotten quite a lot of satisfaction out of straightening up. (I've also decided that I really need a new vaccuum. I think I want this one. There is definitely a trip to Sears in my future.) There's still a lot of work to do, but Patrick is home now, and gave his approval to the new set up, agreed to the cable management bit, and either didn't notice or doesn't care that the kitty tree is out in the backyard, horizontal, next to the barbecue. What, was I supposed to take it out to the curb? Don't be ridiculous.


My last week of work was pretty uneventful. I didn't see my boss at all Thursday or Friday, which, as it turned out, was just fine with me. I had everything pretty much wrapped up by Wednesday (though, I did lose one important item during my clean up; I'm pretty sure it was given to the chief deputy to review months ago, but not being able to find it made me a little crazy for awhile. Then I decided I didn't need to care about it anymore. I was suprised that that worked), and Thursday, for the most part, was just one big party. My co-workers (32 of us! I was touched!) took me to Carino's Italian Grill for lunch. For me to be the center of attention like that, it was a little overwhelming. Then my friend Loretta bought me a Bellini, and I got over the embarrassment fairly quickly.

After we got back to the office, they had cake and ice cream (what, no marching band? No petting zoo? No hot air balloons [damn, I forgot to ask for the hot air balloons]), and since my boss was rather glaringly absent, the chief deputy and his special assistant attended. They more than made up for her not being there. The chief deputy told everyone how talented I am and how much they're going to miss me, and while I know it's just words you say when someone is leaving, it really was nice, because I kind of think he meant it. (Then it turned out that he's going to vote for McCain. Damn!)

Friday I really wrapped up everything: I drove down to East LA to our communications office to turn in my calling card, and went back to the office. Since I thought I had to work the whole day, I took a lunch, but I went to Macy's and bought a new purse instead. When I came back, I found out that my boss had stopped by the office to take me out to lunch. Finding me already at lunch, she scrawled me a note (something about taking me to lunch next week instead, but when the hell is that going to happen? I do have a new job to go to now) and left. I was a bit perplexed because it turned out she had told someone at work (not me) that she might come by, but since no one informed me... what did she expect? So anyway, I checked out for real (badge, keys, building access card), and came home.

It is such a relief. I can't tell you, how it feels to know that I never have to go there again. I have written a little about it, but the problems and massive failure of that department - and in my opinion, while they may serve their purpose adequately, the fact that nothing truly tragic has happened there is pure luck: it's not my problem anymore.

My mom told me yesterday that no job is perfect, and that she's a bit concerned because I seem to be moving around a lot, but my mom didn't understand how bad it was, because I never really told her. I think sometimes to my parents, my problems are comical, because I make them seem that way when I tell them about my life. I know I'm not honest with them, and that's my fault, but how much do I want my mom to know? Lecturing me about going to church and tithing some of my income to god is quite enough lecture from my mother, I'm sure. The truth is, that job took a lot out of me. I worked hard (don't count this week. This week I did a lot of surfing the Internet), I did change some things in HR, and I pushed myself. I learned a lot. So that's good, I guess. I also learned that I don't need that kind of stress, thank you very much.

It was hard to answer people, when they asked me if I was excited about starting my new job, because I was mostly just anxious about closing down everything. I wanted to be gone, but stretching it all out over four days made it weird. Now that I'm out, with something new ahead of me, I'm not nervous (yet), I'm not excited; really, I'm just ready to start.

I like that feeling.

Update at 10:24 PM:
I just got home from the theater (good show tonight; weird vibe from some of the actors. I am going to choose to ignore it, though, because I suspect it was not directed at me personally), and what's the first thing I notice?

Patrick brought Chewbacca in from the backyard and put it in the living room. After my groan of horror, we discussed replacing it with a new one. Fine. Guess what I'm doing tomorrow?