Like A Wristwatch Inside A Turkey. Sort Of.

Internet, I have a weird secret to tell you. I'm sharing this secret with you because, this afternoon, my secret lodged itself in a bag of potting soil, or underneath a potted cucumber plant (impossible to tell which), and I can't hide it anymore.

I engage in a beauty ritual that rubs up against all my au-naturel, no-morning-routine, simplify to the point of monkishness, urban greenie lifestyle.

Sometimes, I wear fake nails. And not on all my fingers, either.

I don't do it for looks entirely. I would be lying if I said I didn't like the way nicely manicured nails look. Who doesn't? The real reason I sometimes wear fake nails, though, is for comfort. Seriously. I type all day long for work. More to the point, I ten-key all day long for work. That means that my right hand is curled up into a digit punching perma-claw for about 75% of my waking hours. My nails tend to break very easily. And when my nails are different lengths, it really bugs. It messes with my sense of balance. One finger might have a regular length nail on it, and another might have a slightly longer nail on it. Another might have one hacked right down to the quick because I accidentally smashed it into a file cabinet drawer a week ago. I hate the sensation of first my sensitive bare fingertip, and then a small talon, and then my sensitive bare finger again, hitting the keys. It's my own private nails on chalkboard. Or biting down on tongue depressors. Whatever. Insert gag reflex-inducing peeve here. So, to keep them all strong and the same length, I sometimes glue down a few falsies.

I know, I know. Horrible. Deplorable, even. Do I even KNOW what's in nail glue? If it can hold a grown man in a hard hat to an I-beam, what must it be doing to the DNA just underneath my nails? And all the Toluene and formaldehyde in nail polish? Aren't I just ASKING for my kids to be born with five heads? And what becomes of my poor nail beds once I soak them in paint thinner to get those claws off? And the bottles, once they are used up? Where do they go? Am I not just contributing to an ever increasing pile of non-recyclable, downright toxic trash that will be with us for milennia? And don't I normally rail against all the products we use in our daily lives that are positively AWFUL for the planet? These are questions I choose not to ask myself, Internet. I'm not proud of the fact. It's one of my guilty pleasures, and so long as Sally Hansen continues to make nail polish the color of pumpkins and eggplants, I will continue to apply my industrialized war paint.


It's T-minus two weeks until my starts are ready to go into the ground (or, in my apartment-dwelling case, into the pots that will line the driveway) so today I got out some more yogurt cups and thinned the herd a little. About two and a half weeks ago, I planted four different kinds of tomato seeds. I planted a few of each variety thinking that, of the dozen or so that that I planted, only a few would take. Well, mother nature is a fertile lady this year, and instead of four or five, I got roughly ten. Any by the looks of it, there are more on the way.

So, I had to separate some of the little buggers because the yogurt cups were starting to get crowded. I went down to the basement to grab some potting soil, came back upstairs, and set up shop on my kitchen counter. I pulled the teensy weensy little starts from their soil, put them into new yogurt cups, watered them, and put them back on the windowsill. And then I went to wash my hands. Which is when I noticed this:

My pinky nail was missing. My fake pinky nail. I didn't even feel it come off. Gross. Grosser still? It's probably hanging out in one of the yogurt cups. I guess if in the Fall, the cucumbers come up with orange-tinted skins, we'll know where it went.

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Bye Bye, Burdy

Well, CLH finally left for Mexico this morning. Between the rants about garage sales and panic attacks, I think I forgot to mention this, um, enormous factoid: CLH is sailing 2800 miles from Mexico to Hawaii with three other men on a 47 foot sailboat and will be gone for about a month.

Hey! Guess what? I'm going to sleep diagonally in my bed for thirty days straight!

I spent the day volleying back and forth from smiling giddily over being a "free" woman for thirty days, and crying like a baby. 'Cause, you know. I'm stable like that. NPR reports on a day of mourning for earthquake victims in China? Okay with me. Hearing the Eels song "Fresh Feeling"? Totally not okay. Total tearjerker.

I've been rattling around the house all day, which does not help at all with this sudden feeling of loneliness. I count on small things, like the smell of CLH's coffee in the morning, and the soft computer glow and tinny music coming from his side of the office when I wake up, to get me through the day. When I woke up this morning (after driving CLH to the airport at the ungodly hour of 5:45 am. Seriously, how do you people with the jobs do it?) the office was cold and quiet and then it set in: no CLH for 30 days.

It usually goes like this for me: whenever we are apart for long periods of time, I miss him and weep intermittently for about four days. By day seven I'm like "Stan? Stan who?" Last year when I left for Burning Man, I cried silently behind the novel I was reading on the bus. I don't know why I get so freaking emotional. It's not like he was dead, or that I wasn't going to see him ever again. It's just that we spend a LOT of time together, and being apart for the first time in a long time was just felt, well, devastating.

Of course, the last time I left, I knew CLH wasn't going anywhere. I knew he'd be at our apartment when I got back in ten days. This time around, it's a little more serious. There's all kinds of shit that can go wrong. Things like capsizing and shark attacks and injury and shit that only the Discovery Channel can design a mini-series around.

I have been trying VERY hard not to focus on all the things that can go wrong on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Did you notice I wrote the words "shark attack" and didn't have to faint? That's the NEW me talking. The new me who is reading a book she found at Goodwill in the self help section of the book department about panic attacks and anxiety. The old me would have needed to be cradled like a baby and told that shark attacks are few and far between (probably as frequent as alien abductions is my guess) and that CLH and his crew are going to be fine. The new me is convinced that everything's going to be just fine WITHOUT needing to be cradled like a baby. Take THAT, anxiety! (high fives with adrenal glands).

Now, to make sure I'm using my Single Lady time to its utmost potential while CLH is gone, I've got a bucket list going (and I'm not even sure I'm using "bucket list" correctly here so excuse me while I go use the Internet. {here's me clicking open another window in Mozilla and Googling "bucket list" and grimacing}. Okay, I'm back. Um. I don't want to give anyone the idea that I'm terminally ill. So maybe I shouldn't call it a bucket list. Maybe it's more of a finite to-do list.)

Alright, I'm so exhausted from lack of sleep my eyes burn. So here's just a few things:

Do a detox diet
Take trapeze lessons
Lose ten pounds
Write a children's book
Update this blog more often
Clean out the 'fridge

Some of the things are more thrilling than others. You can't believe how excited I am to clean out the 'fridge.

Goodnight, sweet Burdy. I hope you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

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Greg, You Loser

It's Saturday, so that means CLH and I have our own breakfasts. (He has a lumberjack's plate of eggs and potatoes and bacon and toast and coffee and I had a cup of tea and some old M&M's I find in the bottom of our snack drawer). I do what I do every Saturday morning after I make my tea: I sit with my laptop at the kitchen table scouring the Internet for estate sales in my neighborhood.

Estate sales, in my opinion, are very different from garage sales. I've spent lots of time rooting around in dilapidated produce boxes full of old Christmas decorations and doilies like a hungry raccoon in a garbage can, so I should know.

Garage sales are goldmines for people who want to refurnish their apartments with dated, well-worn couches or who have lost every cord to every electronic appliance they have ever owned and need replacements. If you ever need either of those two things (or several dozen novelty mugs or maybe a gajillion books on how to lose weight, find Jesus, or how to program in HTML), then garage sales are for you.

But if you want to find a framed painting of president Kennedy, 27 pristine vinyl albums of Scandinavian Folk Songs, and a decades old collection of Avon men's cologne bottles shaped like ram's horns, antique cars, and various sports equipment* in one house, then estate sales are your thing.

*real things I've found at estate sales.

I don't usually "do" garage sales unless I've thoroughly investigated the estate sales in the area. I think it's because the estate sale people are different than the garage sale people. The words are in their ads are spelled correctly, their lists of items for sale aren't fifty unreadable miles long, and the ads are usually inviting, friendly even. They include phrases like "Lots of good stuff" and "Great deals to be had" (a nice departure from the usual non-grammatical run-ons for garage sales that include vague threats in all caps like "I WON'T HELP YOU CARRY THIS STUFF OUT SO YOU'D BETTER BRING YOUR FRIENDS. AND A TRUCK. I WON'T HELP YOU. SERIOUSLY. I'M PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE".)

I think it's because the estate sale people are type As. And borderline hoarders. And that's cool with me. I like visiting with "my people" on the weekends.

Today, though, I skipped the usual estate sales and since the weather was getting nicer (you know, fifty-degrees-instead-of-forty-nicer. Nicer as in I'll-wear-my-scarf-and-winter-coat-but skip-the-hat-today nicer) I decided to visit only the outside sales.

And, oh boy.

There was the lady who wove (is it even possible to weave going 11 miles an hour?) down the street clearly looking for the same garage sale we were. I parked almost half a block away, walked, and still beat her there. She was, meanwhile, using up half the street and all of her might to parallel park in a space about 75 feet long. 'Cause, you know. She pays taxes. Why not use the whole road?

There was nothing good at this sale. Terrible Parking Job Lady, though, seemed VERY interested in an old-school compression powered paint gun. As part of her punishment for making me wait in the middle of the street for a totally not-worth-it garage sale, I was secretly hoping the thing would discharge in her face while she stared down the barrel. Garage saling makes me competitive. Forget sports. And academics. If you really want to unleash my inner tiger, put me in a starting gate alongside a half dozen middle aged women in mom jeans and appliqued sweaters and see who comes running out of there first. I am NOT afraid to shove when there's cheap crap at stake.

The next to last garage sale featured a a garage sale classic: Mr. This Stuff Is Too Good For You Guy.

"Greg" was sitting in his garage wearing sunglasses and listening to his Walkman when we walked up (I know his name because he shook my hand after our deal and told me his name and that I should check out his "other stuff" tomorrow as well, at the Fremont Sunday Market). There were like maybe 20 things for sale, and they were all jumbled in boxes, stacked in no particular order, sprawled out over one quarter of the garage. The rest of the garage was full of boxes of... wood. I think. Something an urban garage shouldn't be full of. Weird. Anywho, the whole time we were there, he kept talking about how awesome this "other" stuff was that he had somewhere else.

This guy was a pro. He must have been able to smell when we were about to direct our attention elsewhere, because as soon as we did, he launched into a oral history of the thing we were looking at, waxed poetic about how it was one of a kind, and did we need a replica of the Starship Enterprise? Because if we did, he had one. It was worth a lot but that he would be willing to let it go for less. And then, if he we even so much as opened our mouths to protest about the price, or the "need" for whatever he was offering, he vacillated between wanting to stroke the thing lovingly and letting it go for a bargain. And if there's one thing I hate more than the people who write garage sale ads with bad punctuation, it's people who try to convince me that the crap I'm rooting through like a hungry raccoon is worth hundreds of dollars and that I should feel bad for offering them less than that for their crap. You know what, Greg? If this record of Kabuki music I'm holding in my hand is so rare and expensive, why is it here, in this mildewy box, next to a car buffer and a golf ball puzzle? You don't want to take my lousy dollar bill for your stupid record? Then why are you selling it? If you like it so much, why don't you keep it? WHY DON'T YOU MARRY IT, GREG? Oh, you've got more stuff, Greg? Oh, I'm sorry. Your buddy has more? Well, where is your buddy and his "stuff", Greg? See, this is the way capitalism** works: If you want me to give you money for something, you need have your goods in front of you, in real time, with a price tag on it. When I go to the supermarket, I usually make sure my bag of oranges is in my cart before I hand the cashier my credit card. And when I fill up my car with gas, I buy it from a gas station that has gas to offer, not one whose "buddy" has some more gas around here somewhere...

**Okay, this is not how capitalism actually works. This is how it should work. Collateralized Debt Obligations and Credit Default Swaps? Yeah. They don't count as capitalism. They're just straight up gambling hall adrenaline junkie bullshit. Just sayin'.

Anywho, we managed to convince Greg to take our crumpled five dollar bill for the records we picked out, and I have to say, they've been worth every cent. Especially this one:

It's worth two bucks just to stare in awe at this guy's cigarette ash and wonder what Jedi mind tricks he was using at the time to stand so still. Or what in the hell they make cigarettes in Asia out of...

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The List of Horrible

My sister was having a very boring day at work the other day and asked me to post something for her to read. I wish I could say this was the anecdote for a boring work day, but i think it might be the exact opposite. Um, sister? If you are reading and are having a bad day, this might make you feel even worse. I don't have anything really exciting to report, except that the past few days I have been feeling really out of sorts and horribly unproductive. Parts of my week have been downright stupid.

A List of Unfortunate Things That Have Happened to Me In The Past 24 Hours:

-Made a pot of black beans, but put too much water in the pot, so wound up making a very watered down, flavorless pot of what looked like, at the end of 3 hours, sewer sludge.

-While making pot of black beans, was not careful while de-seeding the chili peppers, so my hands burned with radiant atomic heat for HOURS after the mediocre dinner of sewer sludge over rice.

-Earlier in the day, while tallying up my mileage for 2009 on an adding machine, did not notice until too late that the end of my very long tape was resting in my coffee cup. Which was full of coffee.

-Tallied up nearly three month's worth of mileage before I realized that I had already done the work MONTHS AGO (in a different mileage log)... and so wasted hours of my life with an adding machine and Google maps.

-Thought about going to the gym (to work out... to feel better about myself) but then realized my hip is still injured (from working out at the gym) and wondered which would be worse: the pain from working out my hip, or acknowledging that I ate my dinner of potstickers and corn chips in front of the TV in my pajamas.


Today CLH came home to find me in an oversized, stained sweatshirt and heavy pants with my fuzzy scarf wrapped around my head, turban style. Which means that even though "spring is here", and even though my apartment is heated, it's still mothereffing cold outside. Sure, the sun is out here and there, and, at the right angle, from inside a heated room on the 6th floor of a building, it might even look nice outside. But, the second you get out there, you realize that nature has pulled a fast one on ya. It's not warm, as the presence of the sun might suggest. No, it's just slightly above cold. That doesn't stop the optimistic native-born Northwesterners I live with from making chipper comments about the weather. No, sir. To them, this time of year is downright delightful. My friend Victoria (who, like me, grew up in climes much warmer) and I have a bet going: whoever hears "Sure is nice out there today!" uttered in line in the supermarket next gets to go King Kong on everyone's ass.

This is about the time of year when I get a major case of the blahs. Or the mehs. Whatever. It's this limbo time between winter and spring and the daffodils are blooming, but we all still have to wear heavy coats outside. The time of year when if I miss even ONE day of not cramming handfuls of Vitamin D down my throat, I run the risk of kicking puppies and yelling furiously at babies.

Not that I came anywhere close to kicking puppies today. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have this magical... um... let's call it a "gift" with dogs. They like to be around me. They flock to me like I'm freaking Saint Francis of Assisi. They curl up on my feet. Same with babies. They just like me. Maybe it's because I'm usually smiling like a clown and I smell like flowers. I don't know. But the dogs today? Right underneath my fucking task chair. More than once today, in TWO DIFFERENT OFFICES, I had to yell at FOUR DIFFERENT dogs to move the hell out from behind me or they'd lose a paw. I know, you're thinking: Wow. Sweet life ya got there. You get to work in an office with dogs in it? How laid back. How relaxed. And you're complaining?


Ah, yes, the pity parade was stopped just at the Giant Bottle of Vitamin D float. Well, what a beaut, eh, Bob? This one is being led by the good people at Nature's Pharmacy. This is a special float, Bob, as it's half-filled with cotton. I don't know how they make it float with all that cotton in it, but they do! What a magnificent sight. This baby is made up of about 5000 yards of green Lycra and made its first appearance in the parade back in 2001. Oh! I think I see the next float and I think the kiddies are going to be very excited!

I don't even know where I'm going with this post. This was supposed to be a quasi-serious discourse about how different people treat the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I don't think I have it in me tonight. I just made myself a salad with black eyed peas and lemon zest just to feel all springy, but CLEARLY it isn't helping.

Tomorrow I hope to post something with a little more topical-ness. Something related. About the healthcare bill. And taking medication. In general, I hope to have at least one day a week of getting all soap-boxy on this blog. And I hope to make it prettier some day. With pictures and stuff. And buttons that do things. For right now, though, it's battling a major case of the Blahs.

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Dermabrasion: The Hallmark of Alien Visitation

A few days ago, I woke up with a scar on my forearm. I didn't notice it until I was showering. I was running the soap over my arm and suddenly I was all Huh. My arm burns. That's weird. My other arm doesn't burn. Let me turn my arm around and have a look at th----WHA??? OH. MY. GOD. THEY'VE BEEN HERE. THE ALIENS. THEY CAME IN THE NIGHT. THEY'VE SCARRED WITH THEIR HORRIBLE MEDICAL EXAMS.

And I wonder why I've been suffering from adrenal exhaustion.

It's in my nature to worry. I worry about everything. I get worked up about things that normal people don't even think about. Like whether or not all the knife blades are facing the same way when we set the dinner table for guests. Or whether or not my riding gloves are next to my bike helmet in the garage. Or that there is one lone sock without a mate in CLH's sock drawer. It literally keeps me up at night.

The height of my pent-up anxiety usually hits me just as I am getting ready for bed. The time when most people are thinking things like, Oh boy, I sure am excited to sleep in that big ol' bed. I can't wait to get under the covers and dream abou----zzzzzzz. You see? That's how most people fall asleep: mid-thought, probably with their mouths open, with little pools of drool threatening to soak their pillowcases, their fists all curled tightly around their heads, their bodies nestled between billowy folds of down comforter and an array of pillows.


I'm going to cut it off right there because I could go on forever and there's only so many lines of capital letters one should have to read before one is convinced that I should be injected with horse tranquilizer after 10 pm.

The night before I acquired this mystery scar, I asked CLH about aliens. I asked him because, well, I wondered if the things that kept him awake at night were the same things that kept me awake at night. Not that I spend nights thinking about aliens, per se, or that they are the only things keeping me awake at night (no, what keeps me awake at night most of the time are all sorts of apocalyptic scenes in which we have to run for our lives because the bomb's just been dropped and somehow just he and I have escaped total annihilation and now we have to decide what to pack as we paddle across the newly liquefied landscape to start our lives over on another continent: my memory box from third grade or a jar of dried mung beans.)

The only reason I asked him about aliens was because there was something about the way the streetlight was shining in through the slats of the venetian blinds in our bedroom. The light looked all fuzzy and oval-shaped, and, well, a lot like a flying saucer. And I hadn't thought about flying saucers in a real long time. Not since that PBS special in December of 1987 that gave me nightmares for weeks and convinced me that I could see a little gray man with huge ovoid eyes standing RIGHT behind me in the reflection of the glass ornaments hanging on our Christmas tree.

Anywho, I decided to ask CLH about what he thought about the idea of aliens.

The conversation went a little like this:

Me: Do you ever think about aliens?

CLH: Do I ever think about aliens?

Me: Yeah, aliens.

CLH: Um, no, sweets. I don't think about aliens. Not the way you do, anyway.

Me: What's that supposed to mean?

CLH: (Looks at me the one might look at a child who has just said something supremely naive, but in a cute way) Your imagination. You let it get the better of you. I don't believe in aliens because (insert boring, logical reasons why reasonable adults do not believe in gray beings from another planet while I drift off into a reverie about what it would be like to be inside an alien spaceship. Cut to scene of blinking wall of important looking dials backlit with blue light. An operating table sits center stage. I am shackled to a gurney and wearing a flimsy paper gown. Two gray beings in lab coats exchange telepathic messages and then one flicks a 12 inch hypodermic needle and walks slowly toward the gurney). And that's why I don't believe in aliens.

Me: Wait. What?

CLH:... (pats me on the thigh, sighs heavily, and rolls over on his side.)

Me: (Snuggling down next to CLH and staring up at the venetian blinds) That's why I love you. Because you're not afraid of aliens. You're like the rock in this relationship. You talk me down out of every tree I climb into. I really appreciate you. You know that?

CLH: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about guilt and perfectionism (the roots, I believe, of my anxiety and depression) and the things that plague women that don't seem to bother men. And I've been thinking about how much worrying I do about things I cannot control (like being probed by fictional creatures in the night). I've been thinking (this is new only to me, not to the world) that I can actually control the nutball things I lay in bed worrying over, writhing in agony, awake for hours on end. I've also been thinking about the guilt I carry around for REALLY DUMB THINGS. Like not posting to this blog. I beat myself up quite a bit for not posting. And for not writing more in general. The guilt makes me ashamed to show my face (on my own blog, for chrissakes). So I don't post. And then I feel guilty about not posting, so I stay away even longer. And as we all know, that cycle of inaction, guilt over inaction, and more inaction is a hard one to break. Just ask my deflated adrenal glands.

But, I'm working on it. I'm working on being a touch more forgiving of myself. I mean, I AM RUNNING A BUSINESS and all. And I do most of the cooking and meal planning in our house. And some of the laundry. And I have an active social life. The point is that I have other things to attend to, things like a full time job on the weekdays, a luxury that allows me to sit around unshowered in a Snuggie all Sunday afternoon and tell you about bizarre scars that form in the middle of the night on my forearms. So, I'm going to go easy on myself from now on.

And I'm definitely going to close the venetian blinds ALL the way before I go to bed.

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