Thursday, December 31, 2009

What 2009 means

At the beginning of this decade I was a junior in high school. I cannot believe how much I've changed since then, and I don't mean just hair colors.

At that point in my life, I still felt like a big fish in a small pond. I was still smart enough to do whatever I wanted and young enough to make mistakes and not fear the consequences. I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to double major in music performance (violin), and I wanted to move far away from Texas. Of these things I was absolutely certain.

At the beginning of my senior year, I hung a poster of the aerial view of Randolph Macon Women's College in my bedroom. I was going to go there, or somewhere like it, and I was going to thrive. I just knew it. It seemed inevitable that someone would burden my dreams with reality, though.

I would break up with my significantly older boyfriend of two because he refused to go back to school. I would also get accepted to Texas A&M University's Biomedical Science program, which is not at all Randolph Macon, where I was accepted but couldn't afford even with my $20,000 scholarship from a golf charity.

I graduated, said good bye to my friends, and moved to College Station. Turns out that I didn't need to be in Lynchburg, Va., to find out who I really was and what I really wanted.

Several idiotic college relationships later, I felt smarter, but I wasn't necessarily. I decided to move in with my then boyfriend, and I made one of them most significant life decisions ever: After two years in the Biomedical Science program, I switched majors to journalism.

I got into photography.

And I set out to change the world in my own way.

I took a few environmental policy and law courses and really felt that advocacy and publications and the business of changing people's minds was my destiny. I'd always felt a connection with the environment, and to really work to change our culture's perception of it was a noble cause.

So, I graduated, dumped my long-term boyfriend who admitted he was dead weight, got into some really hasty love affairs and then got a job in the Editorial Department of Texas' Leading Newspaper.

It was my dream job.

I moved to Dallas, which may have well been Lynchburg to my family in the Houston area. It was hard to be a 3-hour drive away, but it was also liberating.

At the end of July in 2005 I went on my first night out alone to a small blues bar on Greenville Ave. near Ross called Muddy Waters. I sat at the bar, drinking Lone Star and smoking Camels. I met Dave. We've been together ever since.

We got married the next year, which is my second most life-changing decision. The third followed soon after: We bought a house in East Dallas, cementing my status as a Dallasite.

You've read about everything else in between, so I'll spare the details. But it's safe to say that as 2009 ends, so does the most turbulent decade of my life. I can't believe the number of changes I've been through since then, but I'm so glad I ended up where I did. Even though this year I've dealt with unemployment and the real difficulties of making ends meet and keeping your pride in check, I can say that this decade has been the most humbling, gratifying, amazing, and optimistic years of my life.

I hope you and I both have many more ahead. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When Movie Romances Go Bad

So, I just watched Twilight. For the first time. I've never read the books. Don't plan to, either.

As you can figure, from watching the first movie, I have some stunning cultural observations to share:

1) No matter how ridiculous they seem, you know that you can relate to the whole teen-angsty budding relationship. And, you know that even though you're now what legally passes for an adult, you kinda miss all of those pit-in-your-stomach moments when you're undressing the other person hastily with your eyes as you kiss somewhat tentatively.

And even though you miss it, seeing a movie FILLED with these moments can be really exhausting.

2) Edward and Bella will make you wonder what the fuck is going on with Mormons these days. You know that in 75 percent of the teens out there confronted with some of the situations in this movie would have been buck naked and on top of each other in .0125 seconds. The fact that Edward and Bella barely even kiss is ridiculous. This is an adult movie with the sex scenes deleted, that's what it is.

3) Also, from watching this completely whack (yes, I said "whack" and I mean every bit of it) romance, you will feel like your relationship is somewhat inferior to what the two pasty teens have going on. This is crazy, especially if you read the Cliffs Notes version of the books (thanks for saving me time, Twilight wiki!) and discover how this whole story ends. SO. EFFING. STUPID.

Vampire/human hybrids? Werewolf imprinting? Sex after marriage?

All poppycock, I say! Poppycock!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My 27th on the 26th

Here I am, cruising on the couch at my sister's place, watching some inconsequential football game, sitting next to my husband, doodling on my new macbook pro, and being entirely grateful.

Yesterday was my 27th birthday, and I feel so lucky to have spent it with my family and close friends. I feel so tremendously lucky, mostly because for the last several years my birthday was spent driving from one place to the next, or at work, where some people forgot. In all, last night was my first-ever real birthday party, and I have my family, especially my mom and my sisters, to thank.

And, even awesome-er, I got a set of Harmony Wood Knitpicks interchangeable circular needles!!!

So exciting!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are hanging close to the people you love. Let's all get ready for 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Plans for 11 days and nights away from work

Miracle of miracles, I get a winter break this year.

At my former employer, we didn't even get Christmas Eve off. Bah Humbug!

At my new and fabulous employer, we're taking off from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3. That's 11 days people.

A ridiculous amount of vacation if you ask me.

So, what do I plan to do?



Walk the dogs.

And blog.

Keep up with what's going on in my little world on my twitter feed. I should be posting pics of knitted gifts soon, too!

Happy Holidays and Merry Vacations!

When it comes to Fox, you're darn right I'll be picky.

This just in from Fox News' story on the Congress' health care reform mess:

As the Senate prepares for a crucial vote before final passage of a massive overhaul bill that Democrats argue will reduce the deficit by $132 billion over 10 years, Sen. Jeff Sesssions, R-Ala, said the nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare actually will add $300 billion to the deficit

Makes me think that Jef Sessssssions might be a member of Slytherin.

My Preciousssssssssssssss.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jesus is the reason for advertising this season

I have been meaning to post about this, but, you know, life gets in the way.

Those ridiculous financing ads you may run into on news websites have sunk to a new low. Yes, lower than the dancing clown crap. Lower than the "Follow this one rule to erase belly fat" ads.

They're using Jesus.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Day Late to the Christmas Party

Yup. I forgot to mention that I guest blogged over at Wonju Wife!

Go, read!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Every day like falling leaves

Our front yard is covered in crunchy, gold and brown leaves. This happens every year as the entropy of fall sets in -- usually just before Thanksgiving -- and I am loathe to rake them. Dave and I don't hire out landscape work. It often seems like a big waste of money to have other people do a task of which he and I both are completely capable.

But, if we ever decided to (and believe me, we've talked about it), I would not hesitate to hire out the ridiculous amount of raking that needs to be done in our small patch of East Dallas.

Then again, I've always fantasized about hiring a maid to come every two weeks to dust and shine our house (Especially the bathroom!) so that it doesn't become so unmanageable (our level of untidyness is often unmanageable).

Speaking of lazy asses, since I started my new job a month ago, I've ordered takeout more than I did in the six months I was unemployed. This, however, has rekindled my love of area restaurants.

When we moved to the Casa Linda area of Dallas, we left behind some really great restaurants in the Lakewood/Munger Place neighborhood. We order takeout from them sometimes, though. Bangkok Inn off of Oram is one great little spot (Try their curries!), but definitely get takeout, because the inside of the restaurant will just trip you out. I also miss La Calle Doce, The Goldrush, Garden Cafe, Piggie Pies (off of Greenville) and The Tipperary Inn (Closed because of a greedy landlord).

Speaking of bars and restaurants (I was speaking of them, wasn't I?), have you ever heard of the "Two glasses of wine" theory? The gist: Everything is a better idea (even the worst ideas are measurably better) after two glasses of wine.

You're at a bar and talking to some of your friends about a tattoo you've always wanted to get, and suddenly, after a couple of glasses of wine, you're all at the tattoo shop.

One of your pals said that she likes the way Sinead O'Connor looks, but shaving your head is a big committment. After two glasses of wine you at least start to wonder what you'd look like with some scalp showing.

You're cousin isn't bad looking. After two glasses of wine you he's Brad Pitt and the idea of making out with him is still repulsive, but, hey, he looks like Brad Pitt...

Speaking of family (I was kind of speaking of family right then, right?) Thanksgiving was just last weekend, and like most of America, I spent it with family. My in-laws (lucky bastards!!!) hosted Tofurkey Day this year, and Dave and I went to their house for the day.

Now, my mother-in-law still doesn't get the whole "vegetarian thing," so I made a couple of dishes that I knew I would be able to eat. One of them was mushroom risotto. The other was this fantastic pumpkin bread pudding.

The risotto was a huge disappointment. This was mostly because I used a brand of dried mushrooms that I hadn't ever used before, and, for the record, I will never use again. They had the worst texture, and really, mushrooms are all about texture. A mushroom that is limp or gummy, no matter how savory and delicious, is unappetizing. Imagine a perfectly cooked risotto full of gummy mushrooms. I seriously ate my way around them, and I never do that.

The bread pudding, on the other hand, WAS RIDICULOUS!!! So good! I made some whipped cream to go with it, and guys, it was effing delicious. It was so tasty that my mother-in-law called the day after Thanksgiving (also known as "Hell on Earth" for people who work in retail) to tell me that she absolutely needed the recipe.

Speaking of Black Friday (See what I did there?), I have never really known anyone that actually shops (or should I say, "makes it into stores without getting trampled to death") at 4 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Thanks to Facebook, I now know at least 8 people that went out to malls and big-box stores at four fucking o'clock in the morning, ON A FRIDAY DURING A FOUR-DAY WEEKEND!!!! Idiots.

Oh, and I watch 3.5 movies this weekend. The Wrestler (depressing!), Revolutionary Road (also depressing!), Margot at the Wedding (funny and depressing!), and half of Che' (LONGLONGLONG! (but thorough)).

Man, I want some Thai food....

Sunday, November 22, 2009


My boss was the first one to catch a malignant strain of cold. It quickly spread to a nearby coworker, which was then vectored (allegedly by a poorly washed glass) to another nearby coworker, which then infected my husband and infected, most recently, me.

If this isn't pandemic by default, then the word has lost all meaning.

Now all it needs is one of those flashy backgrounds for the 9 p.m. local news and one of those scary-ass lead-ins:

A woman with over-blonde helmet hair, too much cleavage, and pink lipstick stands infront of a banner that says "PANDEMIC COLD SWEEPS DALLAS!"

"Is your head cold trying to kill you? Find out at nine..."

Having said that...

I love Larry David.

There, I said it.

Tonight, though, was the last performance the world is likely to see of his. Tonight was the final episode of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was, in effect, a Seinfeld reunion (or the closest you'll get to one).

Having said that, it was classic.


In other news, I have a lot of sisters.

I was born into a big family, and there were already three girls, but it seems as though I tend to accumulate big sisters. Most of my friends are over 30, and quite a few are near, if not over 40. I respect all of them. That's kind of a prerequisite for friendship in my book.

I am still friends with a lot of the women I used to work with. I look up to them, I take their advice. I didn't realize how much they meant to me until I noticed that I pinned a note one of them wrote up on my dresser. It was one of those encouraging things that a person might give to you when you're going through a strange, difficult time.

It's still up there, even as I'm making my way to the other side of that terrifying time. It still means something. I still know she's there.

That's what a sister is, right? Someone that will tell you that you are better than that. Someone that will keep watch over your standards and never let you accept less than your best. Someone to help you pick up the pieces.

I am really blessed to be so flush with sisters.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reasons why I can't get on the skinny jeans bandwagon

1) I live in Texas. It never really gets cold enough to tuck skinny jeans into UGGs. The people that do this during one of Dallas' 70 F winter days deserve universal disdain.

2) I have a rather large posterior. I did not look good in the 90s style tapered leg jean. I will definitely not look good in a ultra-tapered, ass-and-thigh hugging pair of stretchy jeans.

3) Tunics make me look pregnant. The only way I would be able to wear skinny jeans is with flats and a tunic.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday comes fast

I don’t really remember ever being this happy about having a job.

Nix that. I don’t have a job.

I finally feel like I have a career, which everyone knows is more than just a gig that pays the bills.

To say that this is exactly what I needed would be an understatement. I know a lot more about myself and my goals now than I did four years ago from the vantage point of a newbie corporate serf. I know now what it takes to be dedicated, what it’s like to grow, and what it means to take advantage of an opportunity and not letting the opportunistic take advantage of you.

That’s not to say that I have it all figured out. I know for a fact that I do not. I’ve just grown enough to see that no one else does, either.

Regardless of all that, today capped my first full week of full employment. A lot of people asked me what I thought about my new position and if I feel OK in my new job. In as many words, I told them that I was pretty confident that I was made for this job.

But there’s something that still eludes me.

I doubt myself a lot, and I think that has a lot to do with my hearing loss. I’ve learned a lot about being humble and embracing the other things that make me special, but I always feel like I’m missing something by being partially deaf.

But I learned this week that even that might be temporary.

Next week I start steroid therapy for my hearing loss. I will get 3 cortico-steroid shots in my eardrums in a 10-day period. My new otologist feels that this might be the first step in getting some of my hearing back.

So, maybe soon I won’t have to rely so much on my other charming qualities. Maybe soon we can sit and chat and I won’t miss a thing. Hopefully you won’t, either.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Games People Play

Dave and I have this little game that involves a small plastic civil war figurine and a modified game of hide the saltine.

Here is the guy:

our guy

Here are the rules:

1. On your turn, you must hide the guy in plain sight (cannot be behind anything).

2. The guy must remain within the boundaries of the house.

3. You must acknowledge finding the guy before it is your turn to hide him.

This has just been a fun, cute little game between Dave and I. We both wonder where the guy will turn up next or where he will be perched, however precariously.

I was waiting in an exam room of the otologist's office and I was very shocked to see this:

their guy

Looks like someone plays the workplace version of hide the guy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My first day, second-first day and learning the difference

I remember my first day at my new job just like it was yesterday.

That's because it was. (Well, it will be for about 5 more minutes.)

I was hoping to hit the ground running and start learning a new work platform and new programs. That would have been a good start. Only, I didn't have a computer on my first day. Urgh.

I did, however, have lunch at Carmine's. Best New York-style pizza in Dallas.

I then filled out an assload of HR paperwork.

And then I played Doodle Jump on my iPhone and checked my e-mail and facebook a gazillion times and then twiddled my thumbs until I could go home.

And then, when I got here this morning, still no computer. Urgh.

So I borrowed the computer from a person who was out today. Hopefully she wasn't out sick because I gave her iMac a big sloppy kiss for being so fast. The computers at my old job were allergic to fast. You had to wait 5 minutes to read a plain-text e-mail.

And for some reason, today was a long day. Both days, though, were awesome. Wouldn't trade them for the world.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The end of "funemployment"

Texas has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, and in September alone, 44,700 people lost jobs. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, for every 5 unemployment claims in the D/FW area there is one job opening.

If you're unemployed in Dallas or Fort Worth, or even Texas, you better just get used to it. The average length of unemployment is 6 months, which I attribute to the crazy amount of competition for the very, very few job openings.

I was laid off from The Dallas Morning News on April 7, 2009. Yesterday, Oct. 29, I finally got a job.

Not only that, but I found my dream job.

No matter how much I may gloss over my time at The Dallas Morning News, I knew that there was a ceiling on my professional growth (and salary growth, too, considering that about two years into working at The News there were two layoffs and a salary freeze). I started in the Editorial Department at age 22, fresh from graduation, and promptly went to work with a staff that was mostly twice my age. I only had one peer in the office, and she eventually buckled under the strenuous demands of daily deadline work.

And yet, I loved working there. I loved the sense of tradition and respect that working for a Texas legacy carried with it. My parents were ridiculously proud, too. Anytime anyone that knew of me would come into the Drivers License office to get a new photo or renewal, my mom would tell them that her youngest daughter ("You remember her, right? The storyteller?") was working for The Dallas Morning News. She expected them to be VERY IMPRESSED. If they weren't, then they were just ignorant.

When I lost my job, I lost a little bit of that pride and confidence. It took a big chunk from the armor of my ego. In truth, though, it was a good for me. It really helped me figure out what I wanted from my next job.

I thought that I might have found it a couple times in between April 7 and yesterday. I interviewed once with a local university's publications office, and when he told me that over 100 people had applied for the job within the first few days of its posting, I was more than a little disheartened. That is way too much competition. I made it to the first interview round, which was roughly 10 percent of the applicants, but I wasn't chosen. That's OK, though, because the commute to Arlington is a BITCH.

I also learned that I have a whole system of support in my family and friends and former colleagues. I really wouldn't have held up so well without them. The Editorial Department of The News is full of great people with big hearts, bright minds and great ideas. I feel so privilged that I got the chance to work with them. My mom and dad were there to help and just to talk, and of course to tell me that I needed to visit more. My in-laws helped to lift us up when we were down, too. My brother and sisters and their spouses always lended an ear. There are too many people to thank, really, but they all know that I love and appreciate them.

This has a happy ending, though. For that I am so thankful. I start my new job Monday. I get a chance to start over, too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stiff competition for worst day ever.

If I don't put too much effort into considering it, today very well qualifies as the worst day ever. Worse than the early-morning, guerilla-style move from my ex-boyfriend's shitty apartment. Worse than the day I found out that my boyfriend threw a kegger in his dorm room and hooked up with the local slutface.

It's been awful.

I woke up a menstrual case today. Emotional, defeated, in pain and tired from a night of tossing and turning. Then I went outside to check on the chickens only to find out that my favorite girl, Jane, wasn't handling her molt so well and needed to be brought to the chicken sick bay (the shower enclosure in our bathroom) for some warm feed. I though that maybe the day could be salvaged, so I took the dogs on a walk.

I came home, let the rest of the chickens out of the coop and started cooking dinner. Soon after that a wave of nausea hit me like a string of tequila shots, and I spent a good 10 minutes dry heaving.

Folks, it gets worse from here.

So, I make dinner, we eat and watch game one of the World Series, and Dave suggests that we should pick up the remaining chicken feed and close the coop for the night, and I obliged.

I went out there only to realize that we were missing a chicken. Effa Manley, one of my favorite girls and the flock's benevolent dictator, didn't make it back that evening. We searched all over the yard and there was no sign of her.

Then, while I'm crying about Effa and trying to floss, my temporary crown pops off.

Now it's raining, there's still no sign of Effa and I can't drink any liquids because it fracking hurts my exposed tooth.

Worst. Day. Ever.

Update: Effa turned up this morning. Thanks for scaring the living daylights out of me, bitch!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Being missed

Once upon a time, I went to yoga class four days a week. I was comfortable in the fact that a dedicated practice would help me grow, that it could help me be the person I wished to be emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Slowly over time, I let other obligations eclipse my yoga practice. Sometimes I wouldn't have enough time to make it to Tuesday or Thursday classes. I'd admonish myself for putting work before my personal health, but at that time I was so scared of losing my job that I was willing to make myself unhappy twice-over to keep it.

In April, the job dissolved. Surprisingly, so did my yoga practice. I sunk into a depression, and tried to get myself together in fits and spurts, but ignored the fact that I knew what was missing. I knew that my regular yoga practice made me happy and helped me hold the pieces together before.

It wasn't until last night that I realized what I had been avoiding. To me my absence from class had been shameful. I had no excuse except for my own emotional withdrawal.

One of my Iyengar teachers saw me after my Tuesday Iyengar class and was very shocked to actually see me alive. She asked, rather puzzled, "Where have YOU been? We've missed you!"

I didn't know exactly how to answer that question. I just told her that I'd had a rough bout of adjustment after being laid off, but I'm just now finding time to come back to my regular practice. I told her that I was thinking about striking out on my own. Come to find out, she was doing the same thing after a job loss.

How ironic is it that the one person I had been afraid of dissappointing in this whole dynamic, the one I'd been avoiding, was the person that could understand my situation the most?

Needless to say I'll be coming to class more often. And I'll let go of the shame that doesn't belong.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I am not a morning person ...

... and I don't think I ever will be. However, my sleep schedule is out of control. Today I woke up a little late for a week day. How late you ask? Not telling. That's how embarassing it is.

I think sleeping late runs in my genes. My B-I-L Brent says my sister Sara is half woman, half mattress. Then again, Brent wakes up early on weekends only to crash on the couch after breakfast to take a two-hour nap. It's not like half man, half couch is without precendent.

But lately, the late sleeping has gotten worse. I think it's mostly because my alarm clock is too ambitious. It rings even before Dave's does, and that mofo has to get up and go to work by 8 a.m.

I'm going to try to set it later, and maybe even follow a schedule so that I can stop feeling as if I'm spinning my wheels.

Good news, though, is that I'm making headway in crafty endeavors. I made a pretty awesome knit cardigan yesterday (I've already had three requests for said cardigan!) and my holiday knitting/crafting is shaping up. Thank God I started early, right?

And, in a couple of weeks we're going to Houston to visit my family and go to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville (Side note: if you've ever made the drive from College Station (Texas A&M) to The Woodlands, you've driven by Plantersville and my favorite speed trap, Montgomery).

I haven't been to RenFest since college, so it should be fun to take Dave. Although, there are some pretty interesting people at RenFest, so it might be eye-opening for him.

Also, I just put some late-season veggies in the ground and some winter crop seeds, so here's hoping we have plenty of veggies!!! In other gardening news, we fixed the compost container last weekend so that I can turn the compost more easily, but the pile quickly became a bug buffet for the chickens. The've been digging through the pile for three days and are still finding yummy insects (never thought I'd use those two words in the same sentence!).

All in all, things are great here at the casa, but if Santa is listening, I hope that bastard knows that I need a MacBook Pro like, yesterday, buddy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

From the Mississippi, with love

Dear Dallas,

I hope you know that I thought about you a lot when I was on vacation in New Orleans last week. I thought about what the weather might be like where you were, and how the house was doing. I tried to not miss you, but I did a little, and on the drive home up I-49 through the most boring and beautiful parts of Cajun Acadiana, I couldn't wait to see your skyline and know that I was almost home.

But I'll be honest: Rarely do I consider myself at home in your arms. Dallas, you can be downright inhospitable. From the searing heat to the fricking terrible drivers and endless strip malls, most of the time, you aren't much to look at. You're no city on a hill, that's for sure.

And yet I live with all of your flaws, and I'm happy to be home after a great week in The Big Easy. I saw a lot of things that you don't have, like a kickass Audubon Zoo and Aquarium and a downtown that people actually flock to after hours. And, get this, people actually USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION in New Orleans in lieu of driving. Why? Becuase there are things to do and wonderful bars and eateries in the places with rail access. What a novel idea!

I bet it would be a sore subject to talk about the fact that there is not just one major university in New Orleans, either. In fact, there are THREE!

And then there's the local cuisine. And the plethora of cute French cafes on sidewalks, which are perfect for people-watching, because, get this, THERE ARE PEOPLE AROUND.

But, Dallas, I'm glad to be back home. I have puppies and kitties and chickies that all need me to be here, and a garden that needs to be tended. This is all just constructive criticism, of course, and perhaps you should take it to heart.

Much love and stuff,

Miss Dallas

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When hot coffee is welcome

Dave and I drink coffee every morning. We make 12 cups from fresh-roasted Sumatra beans every day (sometimes twice a day on weekends) and we drink it as quickly as possible.

But, in the summer, that scalding cup of coffee makes sweat bead up on my forehead. I drink it anyway.

But something remarkable came with all of this rain we've had lately. While we were doggy paddling to stay afloat here in North Texas, Mother Nature granted us a meteorological reprieve with stunning results: It was 72F in the house last night and all we did was leave a couple of windows open.

This morning, the cool temperatures are sticking to my skin, making the first cup of hot coffee seem so teriffically indulgent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Karma's balancing act

I find it easy to relate to Buddhist principles. After all, the teachings aren't all that different from Christian principles, the most obvious dichotomy is that Buddhism puts the burden on the individual, while Christianity often puts the burden on dogma or the Messiah.

But the thing about Buddhist and Hindu philosophies that many people understand is Karma, or the idea that good or bad acts will be returned to you, respectively.

I totally believe in Karma, but I am having a hard time figuring out where my Karma is balancing right now.

I may seem like a total misanthrope, but there are a lot of good things happening in my life right now:

-My niece just learned how to walk

-I am almost finished with my first shawl

-I have plenty to eat (maybe too much, in fact)

-Dave found the perfect bottle of red wine (Twisted Old Vine Zinfandel)

-I quit biting my nails

-I had my first of two major dentist appointments, so I'm halfway through remodeling my mouth

-I'm feeling more connected to my yoga practice

-I have decided to get a hearing aid

-I'm about to go on a trip for my THIRD ANNIVERSARY! (Can you freaking believe that I've been married for THREE YEARS already? I CAN'T!)

-We've been on the receiving end of a lot of rain, which means that cooler temps have come with it, and, thusly, I wore a sweater yesterday

-I have a great husband, a wonderful family and some kickass friends.

So, all of these things are good things. These are things that, by no small measure, make me happy to be alive. If you were to read this list without any context, you would think that Karma is paying me back for good deeds. I would think that, too, except:

-I am about to reach the 6 month mark of consecutive unemployment

-I have very few job prospects

-I miss my sisters, sister-in-law, brothers and brothers-in-law

-I miss my mom and dad

-I am a big steaming pile of lazy and depressed

Although I feel that the second list, which is really short, is outweighed by the first, I just can't shake the horrible feeling that hangs out in the back alley of Club Jobless: Lack of worth.

It's a good thing that I have a husband that really tries to support me. I know it's hard for him, because feelig this way for what has become half of a year can't be easy for a chronic optimist.

In any case, I hope that I get more hits in the win column soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When the time is right

If there is one thing that is true about life, it is that you cannot rush it. God knows I've tried. God knows, too, that I've failed. Everything happens for a reason, and good things will come in time.

Which brings me to my most current realization: Every job that I apply/interview/audition for will not be the right fit. Only one of them will.

I just have to make sure that the right job and I find each other.

I also may need to work on toning down my language. I just noticed how many F-bombs I dropped in the last post. Good thing my mom doesn't read this blog. Not that she would be offended, but she would definitely say, "You're better than that," or "Try harder."

And she's right.

This situation I'm in reminds me of a visit I got from my mother when I was in my second semester at A&M.

It had been a really rough semester so far, and I was flat broke after buying books and replacing some boots that got screwed up in a particularly heinous rainstorm. I also lost my graphing calculator, and didn't have the dough to replace it. So my mom drove up to College Station to spend some time with me and to help with taking care of my situation. She took me to lunch to cheer me up, too.

My mother's visit had been just the intercession I needed to pull myself out of my funk. She didn't know it, but I had been seeing a therapist and was treating some pretty severe depression after I lost my only uncle the previous October.

We had so much fun hanging out with one another, and my mom did something she doesn't do very often, which is surprise me with something she knows that I want, but don't need.

I had coveted a little plush Reveille VII, and my mom presented it to me that day just to cheer me up. It was like there was a light at the end of the tunnel after that. I knew that everything was going to be OK because I had people in my life like my mom.

It was time for my mom to make the trip back to the Houston area, and I gave her a kiss and a hug before I exited the car. As I was hoisting myself from her sedan, the littlest bit of my first tattoo peeked up from my pantsline.

My mother was furious. She said "Dammit, [Miss Dallas]! I thought you knew better!"

Even though the tattoo itself was a something I had done to have a permanent reminder of what my mom means to me, I felt ashamed. I felt like I let her down. I felt like all of my shortcomings were immediately transparent and that everyone could see through me.

My mom called me after she returned home and we both calmed down. Now, she still didn't understand the tatt, but she still accepted me. She let me know that it didn't matter what changed on the outside, but as long as I'm the same person on the inside, as long as I never gave up on myself, I would be OK.

I am hoping that this same attitude applies right now. I'm going through a difficult time, yes, but I've got people that I love and who love me back, and as long as I don't give up, things will work out for the better, when the time is right.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Working hard:Hardly Working, why my MIL puts me to shame and all of the ridiculous things that you see on 1980s exercise tapes.

First things first: I am back at work this week, but like the perennially resurfacing McRib sanwich, it's for a limited time only. I'm filling in, basically doing my Old Job back at The Newspaper. Geez I miss those people.

Now, don't anybody get your hopes up, but I am also working on getting a New Job. Hopefully I find one of those soon, because GOD KNOWS I AM SO FUCKING TIRED OF BEING UNEMPLOYED.

Seriously. I have become the laziest, most resentful, angry and onery human beings to excoriate a slow driver since Rush Limbaugh. Although, it was pointed out to me by some far-right-wing dillweed that he recently lost something like 80 pounds, so, good for him. Maybe he can shed a few more and, you know, maybe be less of a douchebag. THAT would be an improvement.

So, since I'm unemployed still (NOT FOR LONG, HOPEFULLY. Keep your fingers, toes and every thing else you can twist into an uncomfortable position crossed until I say otherwise), I keep comparing myself to other people. People with jobs, no less. I would say something cliche like "The grass is always greener," but the person I compared myself to the other day was my mother in law. Yeah. I don't want her job.

You see, she's about as close to a fucking saint as you can get and not have to bother with all that Catholicism crap. She is a special needs teacher that works with the kids that the education system considers "unteachable." The kids with no family. Kids with learning disorders. Kids with bad attitudes and/or dyslexia. Most of these kids are black. Several of these kids think that my mother in law is racist.


She spends ALL DAY, EVERY FUCKING DAY, trying to give these kids what no one else wants to give them, which is an education, and they have the nerve to call her racist because she doesn't let their copious bullshit get in the way of their own education? RI-FUCKING-DICULOUS. You couldn't pay me enough to do what she does, and knowing that the school district pays her less than a prostitute with two teeth and a heart of gold makes the woman next in line for cannonizing in my book. Jeebus.

And, now for a Callanetics update:

My masochist friend and I just completed our fourth session. My ass is still a pear, my abs are sore and I'm loving the hell out of eating toast and jam after working out.

This also means that I am probably not going to look good in a swimsuit, like, ever.

MMF (My masochist friend) took some pretty crude video of one of our last sessions, and I am loathe to post it. Mostly because I look really masculine in all of the videos, and I prefer to believe that I am not as butch as I may look on camera.

Also, I am a fat ass and I tend to bitch a lot while working out. There are more than a few FUCK YOUs shared with the TV during the course of the Callanetics video, so the video is NSFW.

Also, the more I watch the tape, the less I like the before/after shots, which are DISGUSTING. MMF loves them. I always fast forward when she's not paying attention.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Callanetics: Day 2

Dear Callan Pinckney,

I just wanted to say a few words to let you know how I'm doing with your workout tape.

If you're dead, that's too bad. I hope I'm not disturbing your long rot in hell with this note. If you're not dead, you're probably busy seducing young boys in scrunch socks and matching outfits back to your lair to probe your perfect peach. In any case, we need to have words about your "health regimen," which can also be considered a "fact extraction technique." (I hear that's what Homeland Security is calling torture these days.)

After doing two days of Callanetics, I need to tell you something: You're a total fucking bitch. I would call you a sadist, but you do the "gentle movements" too, so I guess that makes you a masochist and me stupid. Also, I cannot stand your voice (or your face, or your really ridiculous leotard and wacked out hair).

And another thing: how did shots like this one make it into the final video:

Do we need to see that much vagina being suffocated by hideous shades of spandex? No, we do not.

Also, WTF?


And another crotch shot?

iphone pictures 054

You really should've run a background check on that camera man.

Anyway, my ass is sore and I hate you.

-Miss Dallas

P.S. I wasn't joking about the "peach" thing.

iphone pictures 072

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I'm sure that lots of folks thought I was dumb or silly for starting my Christmas knitting in August. These people are either in denial or non-knitters (sometimes both).

In any case, I started my first pair of Christmas socks a couple of weeks ago. Good thing, because now that I'm transitioning to the heel, I found that while I was drinking beer and knitting among friends on Saturday, I totally effing effed this sock up. Stitch counts on this sock are completely crazy pants. All over the place. Nuts.

So, I'm glad that I started early because, in most cases, a mistake of this proportion would mean a store-bought gift for the recipient so that I might salvage a few extra grains of sanity during the holiday season.

"The perfect peach"

It's amazing what you'll agree to after several beers. I've agreed to write a huge, in-depth magazine article about a subject that is so pervasive and difficult to fathom that no one wanted to talk about it. More recently I agreed to do a daily regimen of Callanetics with an also-tipsy neighbor.

If you follow the link above, you'll see videos of young, blonde, attractive women in modest exercise garb. That's not footage from the "Beginning Callanetics" VHS (!) that my friend procured at a thrift store. There is a lot of gratuitous lingering around the pubic areas on camera. The guy who filmed this was likely a lecherous weirdo.

Get a quick sample of the video:

In any case, there is a loyal and dedicated following of this crazy lady and her torturous regimen. So, my friend and I proposed an experiment: We'll do Callanetics every day for 14 days, mostly to see if this crazy bitch is right, and that after doing Callanetics I can transform my ass into "the perfect peach."

Friday, September 04, 2009


Just a quick reminder, Dallas yogis and yoginis! This Monday, Labor Day, is the National Free Day of Yoga. That's right: FREE YOGA.

To take advantage of the free yoga and meet new and interesting people and teachers, go to the Dallas FDOY site and take a look at the schedule.

Want to meet your dear author and indulge in some free yoga? I knew you did!

I'm probably going to go to three or four classes on Monday:

9 a.m. Tree Yoga in Highland Park:

1 p.m. Dirt Cheap Yoga at the Trinity Audobon Center: and

6 p.m. Hatha flow class at Dragon Fire Yoga:

See you there!

Getting to know your adopted hometown

Dallas and I haven't always gotten along. Sometimes I hate this city. I usually feel this way after a municipal election or some kind of terrible political news. In any case, I could have put more effort in to finding new things to love about Dallas. That's where a few really neat Web sites come in, like the very spot that introduced me to Lee Harvey's:

Another site that helps me find new ways to love Dallas:

There are other ways to find out more about your communities, like interest groups and meetups. I guess I haven't put too much effort into exploring my adopted hometown. I'll get to work on that.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Little things, big joy

I've officially kicked off my 3rd annual Christmas Knitting Binge. The list is finalized, and if you didn't make it on there this year, you should try to bribe me extra next year if you want something beautiful, luxurious and handmade. Note: I like chocolate and jewelry.

This year, I actually feel like a real Knitter. Get that? A "capital K" knitter, as the Yarn Harlot would have it. I am actually making one wee gift from my own handspun yarn this year. Very exciting stuff. I have also caught the shawl bug. I have plans to make *cough*three*cough* for either myself or gifts.

Another thing that makes me feel like a knitter: I came home from my LYS (Shabby Sheep in the hizzouse!) with a few new treasures and some circular needles to more easily crank out the shawl madness. I really had a hard time narrowing it down, but I came home with a skein of Malabrigo sock, a skein of Misti Alpaca Baby Alpaca Chunky and a skein of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace. Not a lot of yarn, but all of it is pure luxury, and is, therefore, not cheap. After hearing how much I paid for yarn, my muggle husband said, "OK, no more yarn shopping until after our anniversary." And a little lightbulb went off. This was the very first time anyone has attempted to rein in my yarn budget. I am finally a "capital k" Knitter.

You may also notice I'm starting my 3rd annual Christmas Knitting Binge much earlier this year. And they say I can't learn... You may remember what happened last year.

No more knitting marathons (only to then rip out an entire sock and half of my hair) for me. No sireee. I like my sanity intact, thankyouverymuch.

But, if I can help it, as many loved ones as possible will be keeping warm in handknits this winter. All two weeks of it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

O hai blog! Me? Avoid you? NEVAR!!!

So, I've been away from this page for a short while. It's been for good reason, though. Hopefully you've been keeping up with me via the little box at right, you know, my tweets. If not, let me give you a short summary of what my life has been like since the last post (there have been no more pirates, for starters. Tragic.):

-Did some work, in an office. It was an exciting change and it was so great to be around ridiculously smart people! Can you tell that I miss work?

-Started a pair of Jaywalker socks (rav link) in Lion Brand Sock Ease. Seems like almost the exact same yarn as Red Heart's sock yarn and Paton's Kroy Sock. This pair is going to be a Christmas gift (you can never start too early, people).

-Went to a book swap. Got a few new books to read and saw some lovely ladies I hadn't seen in a long time, which feels like a travesty. I also embarassed myself immensely by saying something trite. Stupid me.

-Realized I'm probably the only person not watching Project Runway this season. I can't help that I find the show more annoying than my neighbor's two yappy dachsunds. In fact, multiply the noise of the yappy dachsunds by however many cast members are on the freaking show and that's about how annoying the show is.

-Went to the Granada Theater's 5-year anniversary party. Watched Slobberbone play in Dallas for the first time in what seemed like a millenia to Dave. Good show, but it ran way too late for me. I turn into a grouchy old lady after midnight, so 1:30 is LAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE!

-Dave and I hauled our asses to Austin (Buda, to be precise) to spend some time with a fabulous couple who now tops our list of favorite people to spend a weekend with. They have two very cute boys, one of which is still fresh (6 months). The other is a 3 1/2-year-old terror. The whole family is crazy-charming!

-Went to Gruene Hall for a show and had dinner at the Gristmill. The restaurant is adorable, which more than makes up for the lack of vegetarian options on the menu. If you're in Gruene and looking for a good place to eat, try it!

-Drank a few Lone Star Beers. Don't hate on the national beer of Texas! It is so refreshing!

-Watched San Antonio kick some major ass in the Little League World Series.

-Ate tofu enchiladas with tomatillo sauce at Mr. Natural on South Lamar in Austin. Bought Yarn at Hill Country Weavers on South Congress in Austin. Went to Waterloo Records in downtown Austin. Started wondering why I don't live in Austin...

-Got hooked on Newflower Farmers Market (known as "Sunflower" in some states), thanks to our friends in Buda. If you like Whole Foods but prefer not to spend an ass load on organic and natural foods, you'll love Newflower.

-Started on a shawl by Ysolda Teague called Ishbel (rav link) and I am now confounded by it. The numbers aren't working out, and I am likely going to go crazy because of it. I want to make this shawl SO BADLY, but I am wondering if I have totally effed it up beyond the point of no return... Boo.

So, that's where I am, as of today. I will be returing to the office for one day next week, and I can't wait.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An evening with pirates, popcorn

I really like the company that Dave works for. It's a bunch of cool people doing good things and, hey, what's not to like about that?

I found out last Thursday that I also like a lot of the people that he works with. They are pretty funny and do cool things. And, like I said, what's not to like about that?

For instance, one of them does local theater. We went and saw him in the Pocket Sandwich Theater's production of "Captain Blood: A Pirate Melodrama." Hil-Freaking-Larious.

Every pirate stereotype was wonderfully used, even slutty wenches and ridiculous costumes. Good stuff.

The only thing that rivaled the actual production was the theater itself. Pocket Sandwich is a great place to see a show. It's very intimate, they serve plenty of food and booze (most notoriously the namesake pocket sandwich, which is basically a pita) and -- get this -- YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO CATAPULT POPCORN AT THE ACTORS!!!

I love that.

They make a gazillion batches of popcorn just so you can launch them at actors. Of course, the fight is fair, and at some points during the production the actors fire back a few kernels.

Funniest thing? I wore the same brazier yesterday that I wore during the show on Thursday, only to find a popcorn kernel had stashed itself against the underwire. HA!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Birthday and birth stories

I love the little community that you can find in the Comments windows over on Lemon Gloria.

Go check out today's post, wish Lisa happy birthday, and be sure to read all the comments. There are some really great anecdotes there!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In theory it's funny, but it's completely embarassing in real life

Some people are turned off by yoga. It's not for everyone, but I strongly feel that everyone could learn something from yoga, even if they don't have a regular practice.

Yoga is about relaxing into the moment. It's about connecting the body and mind with the breath. Yoga is about becoming familiar with your strengths and limitations, and embracing them both. Yoga is learning to love who you are.

That's not to say that there aren't times in class that I wish I could dissolve into a small puddle of sweat and become invisible.

I've done inversions and fallen awkwardly into other people. I've tried to transition into backbends and collapsed noisily on the floor. I've embarassed myself several times in class, and I'm usually able to laugh it off.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Tonight, in yoga class, I broke wind...

No, that's not true. I didn't break wind in yoga class. I really farted.


(I'm laughing so hard right now that I am crying just thinking about the whole embarassing scenario.)

Falling over and collapsing, even knocking over a fellow yogini during a partner pose can be funny. Farting in yoga class? EMBARASSING.

Until you think about it later, sitting in front of your blog page. Then, my friends, it is fucking hilarious.

So, I totally ignored it. I didn't smile or even blush. I didn't skip a beat. I figure that's the way people would know it was you.

Or they could just read your blog after class. Whatever works.

In any case, I am never eating cheese before yoga class ever again. Water only, from here on out.

Today's drama is brought to you by the letter "asshat"

So, as it turns out, I didn't lose my iPhone. Someone stole it. It's been five days since the little time suck went missing, and in that time the asshat that now has a new iPhone 3G was on the internet quite a bit and called a local singles line.

I did everything I could besides spending a ton of money to get my phone back. I put an ad up on Craigslist, I sent a text to my phone offering a reward, I even asked nicely and prayed many times to St. Anthony.

At the end of the day, though, you have to chalk up your losses. You have to suck it up. You have to realize that not everyone was raised with the same moral code as you, and they will look at your loss only as their gain.

So, suffice it to say, I'm disappointed in humans right now. It's been a long time since I've had an object stolen from me. The last time was back in 2000, when my car was broken into and my stereo and some clothes were stolen. I was really mad about that for a long time. I got over it, though.

I'm sure I'll get over this, too. Heck, I'm already trying to find my way back to forgiveness. I don't know the asshat that stole my phone (DURING A CHARITY ART AUCTION, NO LESS) and I don't know the asshat's personal circumstances, but I'm trying to forgive said asshat.

It's a process.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You go, Hillary!

I'm not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but for this reaction, she gets big ups in my book!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life goes on, or what I really did learn from Slaughterhouse-Five

I'm a long-time fan of Kurt Vonnegut. I'm not big on celebrity deaths, though, (hardly a reaction out of me when John Hughes died) but I did cry about Vonnegut's passing on. He was, and still is, a great inspiration to me. His writing really forces you to reevaluate your priorities, to think about your time here on earth as a very, very temporary existence. He introduced me to radical humanism, environmental stewardship and the many things that are uncertain on this planet.

The biggest thing he gave me, though, was an understanding of the adage, "Life goes on." In his vernacular it looked like this: "So it goes."

At the House of England, we always seem to be concerned about cashflow. This was even before I lost my job to the economic climate. I guess that's what signing a contract for a 30-year mortgage will do to you. In any case, money is tight, we're saving every way we can, and we are trying harder than ever to reform our spending habits.

This is a mighty long intro for what I'm about to say, so I'll just say it: I fucked up. Hardcore.

There is no more impulsive a friend than Christine. I guess that's what having 3 kids and a 30-year mortgage will do to you. On the rare nights that she's able to leave the kids with her husband and have a night out to herself, she tends to do it up big. (For the record, I like to have more sedate outings, with everything in moderation).

We decided to go to an art fundraiser and charity auction at probably the one venue in Dallas that I actually could be considered a regular. We settled into an evening of cheap beer and smiling faces, and cool art, of course. During the course of the evening we did the following:

- ran up bids on art lamps being auctioned
- drank several beers
- started a campaign to end personal space in Dallas (Seriously, everyone expects you to give them at least 18 inches berth when making way through a crowd.)
- buy a desk lamp for $225 (it's for charity?)
- lose my iPhone while paying for said lamp
- get a parking ticket

The night started out well, and it was fun at the beginning, but now I've put our budget in a make-or-break stance, which is really unfortunate because I'm the responsible one in this household. And I also managed to lose a $400 phone. Genius. I'm hoping that practicing karma will help reunite me with my lost object, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

But, what I did learn from this personal tragedy is that Vonnegut could not be more right. The sun rose on Saturday, Sunday and Today. The birds and squirrels will still be hungry and feast on the suet and seed we put out for them. The sun will be hot, and it will make the leaves on the trees glow in a calm, majestic way. And we will still be here tomorrow even though I overextended our budget and made a whopper of a mistake.

So it goes.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Jellyfish: Why unstructured days are both good and bad, but may not always require urine to make it stop hurting.

I've been a bit of an unstructured mess lately.

In an odd paradox, the house has never been cleaner.

Although I used to bitch about getting up and going to work every day like it was some kind of redundant and useless act, I miss it. The deadlines and schedules and phone calls reminded me that daytime passes quickly. I used to have full days, and now I'm doing whatever I can to just fill them.

The truly sad thing is that I used to daydream about having my days to myself, and what I would accomplish, what I would get done, what I would build and make and enjoy. I suppose that kind of free time would be sweeter if the backdrop wasn't painted with the panic of job loss and loss of income.

Every day I think about it, about what I should be doing instead of marinating in worry and panic.

I am lucky, though, that I have a supportive family and husband. Dave keeps reminding me that I'm not alone, and that there are thousands upon thousands of people just like me, trying to make it.

And then I really think about it... If I was dreading 10-hour days and carrying two buckets at my last job, why would I want to do that again? Will things ever be different, or are we all just "human resources"? (I really hate that term.)

I think about that while Fitzgerald or Mr. Orange nuzzle me in my lap while I'm at the desk, writing or applying for jobs at places that are far away from them. And Fitzgerald rests his head in the crook of my arm as my fingers taps the keys, and I think, "That's so sweet."

This is so bittersweet.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I have no idea

I have a hard time believing that anything I've dreamt up hasn't been thought of before. It's one of my major obstacles when considering pitching freelance pieces. I might have, what seems to me at least, a great idea, but I won't go anywhere with it because I think to myself, "Surely SoandSo at WhateverMag has been pitched this before. I never think of anything new."

I guess this is a habit I need to break. I've been sitting on an idea for a few months now, but this is the exact reason I haven't taken it anywhere. And for someone who has worked for a newspaper, especially someone who at one time used to accept and reject hundreds of ideas, it is an odd problem.

I suppose it's more of a problem than I realized, especially since it's basically a symptom of self-doubt, which is nothing new to me. I've been trying to kick out it's ugly cousin poor body image for my entire life. I just hope I am able to get rid of self-doubt before it starts adding to poor body image's troll doll collection.

All jumbled up

When a relationship starts everything seems like a milestone. First date, first kiss, first ... ahem ... sleepover. Then everything starts to get smaller and smaller, to where all you have is minutae.

For example, say you've been seeing a guy for two months and you're so proud that the two of you have made it to at least one phone call from each other each day.

That's a milestone.

Two months turn into to years, and in some cases you marry the guy. In other cases you have a knock-down-drag-out-wake-up-the-neighbors fight that ends with one of you moving out of your one-bedroom apartment at 11:30 p.m. on a weeknight.

In the case of the former, you end up talking on the phone a lot in very brief conversations, not unlike a pilot checking in with a controller.

When relationships are still fresh, they're more like "conversationships," meaning that when you talk to one another during the day you're still finding out new stuff. When relationships get down the road a bit it almost seems like you're talking in code.

New relationship:

"Hey sweetie! Thought I'd call and see what you're doing before your lunch break."

"Awww! That's so sweet! I'm finishing up a TPS Report before I head over to Schotzky's with my cubiclemate."

"That sounds so fascinating! Well, I hope your day shapes up. Blah, blah, blah. I love you!"

"I love you, too!"

Down-the-road relationship:

"Hey babe, what's up?"

"'Bout to have lunch, you?"

"Nothing, applying for jobs."

"Sounds great. Gotta go. OKIloveyoubye."


Monday, August 03, 2009

Speed dial

Sometimes you have a problem that you don't know how to deal with. Often you know someone who can help you or has intimate knowledge of your desperate situation. Sometimes YouTube can help. Other times you feel like you're on your own.

Many times, when it comes to issues I can't fix or don't know where to start, I can find the answer in my speed dial list:

1) Mom: Recipes and gardening how-to's, and she can explain to me how husbands work (she's been married to one for 39 years, so she gets it). Also, she's my best friend and we can often bitch about stuff to each other.

2) Dad: Air Conditioning problems and golf or baseball and cars. Just yesterday I had to summon his awesome A/C power to figure out why condensation from our A/C unit was backing up into our closet. The man is a genius.

3) Sara: An ear for random bitching, also helps that she is usually the best at talking me out of bad ideas, like buying an outfit retail. She is a yarn hoarding enabler and also big on skincare and makeup questions.

4) Kara: If I have a problem with my hair I don't talk to anyone before I call Kara. Also really good at listening to me bitch about stuff.

5) Dave: Is on speed dial because I like calling him. We usually talk about random crap and how each other's day has been. He's good to talk to if I need a mood lifter and it's too early to mix a mojito.

Friday, July 31, 2009

License to ill, or why I've been exhausted for five days without doing anything.

My niece turned one on the 29th. It's a big deal to my family, which is why we had a birthday blowout at my sister's house on th 26th, last Sunday. It was a huge affair and all the family attended and then some. There was booze, kiddie pools and handknitted gifts. It was really great!

But let's backtrack. Dave and I left Dallas on Thursday, leaving the House of England in the able hands of our house-sitter, Steve. Our first stop was College Station. That's right, Aggieland. Dave and I both graduated from Texas A&M, albeit ten years apart, and we rarely take trips to visit our old college haunts. How rarely, you ask? This was my first trip back to college station after moving to Dallas, or four years and a month. Dave has been back a couple of times before this most recent trip.

Not much has changed about College Station. There is still an abundance of bad drivers and silly haircuts (most notably the Corps of Cadets members). There's always a new building going up on campus it seems, usually in place of a parking lot. If I thought it was hard to find a parking spot four years ago, I bet it's hell now.

Anyway, we started at one of our favorite bars on Northgate: Duddley's Draw. It's right next to the Dixie Chicken and Fitzwilly's, and also super close to the Dry Bean Saloon. Basically, Northgate is the place to party on Thursday through Sunday. Or anyday. The beer is still relatively cheap and cold, which is good because College Station had been unseasonably hot and dry.

We then had dinner at one of my old friend's house. It was great, and I really appreciate her hospitality (and her puppies!). We then stayed the night at another friend's house.

Some time during that evening, though, I managed to skin my knee into a terrible pulp and twist my left ankle. Good job.

The next morning we had migas and fresh tortillas and coffe at Los Nortenos in downtown Bryan. Then it was off to Conroe. I used to make this drive, from College Station to Conroe, all the time. I didn't realize how beautiful the scenery is on the two-lane Highway 105, just South of College Station via Highway 6. It's absolutely serene and pastoral. I was having a hard time not imagining myself buying up one of the picturesque ranchettes and settling down to a simpler life.

We made it to Conroe to drop our stuff off at my sister's place and then head to Downtown Houston for an Astros game. The 'stros perfectly pummeled the Mets. It was beautiful!

We then went over to my sister's place and stayed the night. Not much happened on Saturday except for some shopping. Blah, blah, blah. I did get to hang out with my niece plenty. She's so freaking adorable.

Sunday was the party. Check out the photo set here.

That night I finished my stealth knitting and put the socks on makeshift blockers so that my sister could wrap them up and take them to Scotland for her mother in law. I can't wait to get a photo of them on her!

But on Monday I woke up with a terrible sore throat. It was so dry and painful that I took some Tylenol PM so that I could sleep through the drive home. I've been battling this funk for five days now, and I finally feel like I'm winning. From what I can tell it's been going around, which speaks volumes of it's crappiness.

So, here we are, it's Friday, and I'm still tired, but hey, last weekend was worth it.

The End.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Life, flashing before your eyes.

I love a good baseball game. Especially one in which you root for the underdog and the underdog gives the mighty opponent a thrashing within an inch of your memory. We went to The Ballpark in Arlington last night and watched Your Texas Rangers beat the ever-loving snot out of the Boston Red Sox, not to mention the fact that the starting pitcher for the Sox was none other than Josh Beckett, the Savior of Spring, Texas. I watched him pitch in high school. He is greased lightening.

I like to knit during the first several innings of a night game. We usually have sandwiches, I knit and digest and then when it gets too dark or difficult to pass stitches from one needle to the next, I put it down, grab a beverage and root with real gusto. Makes being at the ballpark with my love a bit sweeter.

So, we were pretty pumped headed home last night. A great win against the BoSox will do that to you. Since I-30 takes you straight from our corner of East Dallas to Arlington, we stick with the Interstate for the entire trip. We were almost home last night, just past downtown Dallas on I-30, when a semi (tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler, for those of a different vernacular) decided that we didn't exist and almost took off the front end of Honda Solo as it made it's way from right to left into our lane.

Never before had I been so genuinely afraid for my life. I screamed, grabbed the "Oh Shit!" handle that usually clings to the headliner of the car, and braced myself for impact. Dave hit the brakes and laid on the horn, the truck swerved and we lived.

The whole thing made me realize that this life could be over in an instant. Our lives could end because of a careless semi driver with the license X01-004 decided that he could squeeze into our lane despite the fact that doing so would have killed us. And I can't reconcile that. It makes me angry and it makes me feel helpless at the same time.

But then again, one of the most beautiful things about life is the unpredictable. The things that you cannot control often end up showing you scenes from a reality with which you might otherwise never meet.

Here's hoping we all live through it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Semantics. Or girls do not poop or sweat: they eliminate and perspire.

When Dave and I moved in together he was still on the fence when it came to whether or not girls (and by association, women, including the woman he was moving in with, meaning me) had bowel movements.

Just recently have we both become comfortable with the topic enough to discuss them openly. We are coming up on our 3-year anniversary.

My family is the opposite of Dave's in many ways. Dave's family doesn't openly drink alcohol, no one smokes, they do not cuss or take the Lord's name in vain and they do not talk about bodily functions or sex. Of course, my family does all of these, mostly in moderation but often in excess.

And, just to clarify, I come from a family with a predominance of women. We talk about shit. Literally. And often.

This, until recently, was a taboo with Dave. It still makes him uncomfortable when the talk moves to bowel-related issues and why eating plenty of fiber is important among my family and relations.

I, however, grew up in a family where a good fart joke was almost guaranteed to make my oldest sister tinkle in her pants and where a decent bowel movement was celebrated by loud exclamations and wild gestures.

I cannot help but giggle when I imagine having these discussions with Dave's family.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three months, eight pounds

When I was met with the prospect of having my days completely open and to myself for a while, otherwise known as unemployment, I figured that keeping my old routine would keep me from going stir crazy. Also, it would keep me on track. Also, it would keep my waistline on track.

Old routine:

Go to work at 9 a.m. or so, answer phones and edit and blog until 5:30 some days, but usually until about 6 p.m. Head to the gym for cardio and yoga on Monday through Thursday. Friday I'd bust a move home to get liquored up ASAP. Cook dinner, shower, bed.

New routine:

Wake up at 9 a.m. or so, check e-mail, feed chickens, water plants, have coffee and maybe breakfast but usually juice because, hey, who wants to dirty more dishes? Read blogs, dick around on facebook and twitter. Once completely bored and desperate for amusement, check job listings. Apply when necessary. Eat lunch, watch some TV and wait for the husband to come home. Do chores, knit.

Notice how the gym is absent from the new routine?

I didn't either, at first. Now that all of my pants fit a little tight, I'm beginning to take stock.

So, I figured I'd start out slow, maybe do a few exercise videos at home in between meals and get back to doing my regular cardio/yoga routine. I considered going on walks during the day here, but since it's hotter than the surface of the sun in Dallas right now, I think I'll pass. The high is 104F today with a heat index of 115F. Um. Screw that.

Also, I suppose I need to lay off the ice cream for a while. I've been using Chocolate Almond Fudge as my preferred anti-depressant lately. I think I'm better off switching to post-workout endorphins.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thirty-minute whirlwind

I just got off the phone from my first-ever phone interview. Was it bizarre? A little. I think phone interviews are a lot like that first call after making a match on an internet dating site. You both know a little bit about the other and small talk comes easy because you don't know too much, but it's awkward. You don't know that person's timing, and you can't tell when they're pausing or when they're ready for you to talk.

In all, I think it went pretty well. Here's hoping I get the in-person interview. There were almost 100 candidates for this job, and I made it through the first couple of rounds. I'll know in a couple of weeks if I make it to the next.

So, like I said, we got a new chicken coop. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm really excited about our future chickens, but the coop is pretty much just a frame and a roof right now. We still need to cut a trap door in the flooring so that the gals can go into the run. We also need to fit it with doors, a ladder for the chickens, nest boxes, roosts, insulation and siding. It's got a great roof though. And I think I'm going to keep the corrugated tin siding that's on it currently. It has a pretty wicked cool patina on it.

I'm also doing a bit of stealth knitting right now. It's for a certain relation that lives abroad, and I'm pretty excited about it.

Also, I went mattress shopping last night, and I am so freaking excited, because we will have a new mattress delivered TONIGHT. OMG. Most people my age are excited about new clothes or vacations, I'm excited about getting a good night's sleep for once. This sucker is a pretty swanky luxury pillowtop. My only concern is that I won't want to share it with Dave. And that our comfy sheets won't fit over it because this sucker is THICK!!!

It's Friday, and I'm sipping coffee and cruising job listings, and I hope you guys have fun weekends ahead of you. I'll be knitting and comfortably sleeping in! Oh, and delivering manicotti to friends with a new baby!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Plenty of time to ponder

I was talking to my mom last night about a bank screw-up that Dave and I had suffered through recently, and after my angry tirade my mother said, "Well, at least you have plenty of time on your hands to sort it all out, right?"

Yes. And no.

A lot of the time I've been unemployed has been spent on the hobbies and interests I've put aside to focus on my job at the newspaper. Most of my time is spent on writing (not here, obviously) and tweaking my resume and portfolio, and generally applying for positions. The rest is housework.

Although I can list these things and prove that every day that has passed since losing my job has been a full day, it seems like everyone just assumes that I'm sitting around in my husband's boxers and an oversized T-shirt, sipping coffee and munching on things, watching movies and generally being a slob.

OK, maybe that happened the first few days of unemployment, but I've been better about the depression thing.

It's been three months, as of today, that I have been unemployed.

And I can't wait to have a job again.

A lot of folks that were laid off with me are looking into retraining, and I think that's great. In fact, like I mentioned in this post, I have given it some serious thought. But I feel like writing and outreach and communications is my calling, and I hope to do it for an organization that makes me as excited about going to work everyday as working for The Dallas Morning News did. I knew that every day was going to be unique and challenging, and I hate that it ended.

So, I have a phone interview on Friday, and I'm really excited since this has pretty much been the only nibble I've had since casting my lure about two and a half months ago. Not only that, but it's an opportunity to work for an organization that I really believe in. So, if you wouldn't mind, I could use a few good vibes sent my way at 9 a.m. on Friday morning, I'd appreciate it.

In other news, we should be getting a new chicken coop delivered this afternoon. I am so thrilled! I've already started thinking about what new chickens we'd get. Probably some bantams, since the actual nesting area is rather small. The top five I have in mind:

From top to bottom: Splash Frizzle Cochin, Buff Bantam Silkies, Bantam Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Laced Polish, Bantam Buff Orpington. All photos are from MyPetChicken.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Art of Applying Yourself

Top 5 things not to do in your cover letter when applying for a job:

5. Mention the hospital bills you have to pay after your recent sexual reassignment surgery.

4. Start every sentence with "I."

3. Talk about how you really don't need a job that bad, but you're applying anyway, as if it was a legitimate reverse psychology tactic.

2. Misspell something or confuse "your" and "you're" while purporting to be an editor.

1. Forget to include the attached resume, only to send a second e-mail saying "Oops! I forgot to attach my resume!" That's foreshadowing a crappy employee.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quality Time

I don't see much of my family in the Houston area. That's what they'd have you believe, at least.

I am probably going to make more trips out there to see them, mostly because I discovered that my neice, Little T, is growing like a weed and I'm missing it. She's so fun to be around now. She'll be walking at any moment. She's babbling constantly and she's such a happy little girl.

So, I got to spend some quality time with her and the folks that care for her on a regular basis. I even got some time with my camera in, and some time with my fishing rod.

Here are some photos just to document. Notice the lack of baby in the pictures. When I was with my neice I actually spent time with her instead of spending time in the same room but behind my camera.



Limbs from an evergreen next to the lake dip their fingers into the water to cool off on a blistering day.


A view to one of the small islands in the lake at my parent's house. The bank is mostly delineated by a narrow stand of grass, then a greenbelt and then the steep trunks of the endless pines surround.


This stump spoke to me. It was so humble, a host of a small poison ivy vine that chose to circle about the bottom. It seemed old enough to posture as a miniature face of a canyon or something equally ancient.


The Houston area is surrounded by bayous, rivers and lakes, and around those lakes you'll find cattails, which are so fascinating.


There are signs constantly reminding you that where you live is surrounded by a delicate ecosystem. A concrete plant moved in next door to my parents' neighborhood. Its runoff has decimated an old stand of saw palmettos that kept the bogs clean and saturated. Without the palmetto, algae and duckweed have taken over. Without cover, beavers come in and take down trees and ruin the once-primordial landscape.


It just doesn't look right without the underbrush...


My dad. He doesn't look like a guy that's been torn apart and put back together more than Humpty Dumpty. He's the reason people say "Live fast and die young." Only he lived fast and long enough to see that the end of your thirties isn't the end of the road.


If my brother would have asked what I wanted in another sister I would have told him to marry a girl like Megan. Thank goodness he did. Even though he would have never asked in the first place.

To top it off, almost no knitting got done during the vacation, and I totally spaced on getting pictures of my sister Kara in the hat I made for her. She did make me some totally boss jewelry, and I'll put some pictures up of it when I can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too bad you can't knit while driving

Dave and I are no strangers to time in the car. We did drive (stupidly, might I add) to Key West and back. I am usually lucky to be in the passenger seat. While this means that I relinquish control of the radio for a fair amount of the trip, it also means that I may knit while we traverse the more boring parts of the journey.

I'm making my way down to Houston later today. It's a TREMENDOUSLY BORING DRIVE. Really boring. So boring that I would prefer to hire out the driving so that I can instead knit while we make our way to the swampy air of the Bayou City.

Regardless, you shouldn't feel left out in the cold just because I'm gone for a while. You see that little box to your right? The one that says "Road Bumps"? That's my twitter feed. Feel free to follow it and get your fix of Miss Dallas while I'm away from my desk.

Also, go leave some love for berg with fries and switching over to AM. It must be hard to be sans wife for the weekend.

Back soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting a little dangerous

So, after talking to a neighbor as I was on my way home from yoga last night, I realized that on July 7 it will be three months that I have been without a steady job. The few freelance gigs I had on the outset really helped keep my chin up. They also helped me keep a nice schedule. They got me out of the house. They gave me a real sense that I could transition. But, they're gone now.

And I am left without work. Without a job. Without a reason to get up in the morning other than laundry and dishes, which is not a reason to get up in the morning but a reason to avoid getting up in the morning.

As a condition of collecting unemployment, you have to look for work. I totally get that. I am more than willing to do at least 5 work searches every week. Hell, at this point I've applied to almost 30 jobs and done about 90 searches. I'm good at looking for a job. I think the job, though, is piss-poor about finding me.

After applying to more than my fair share of job openings, I have yet to get a call. No phone interviews. No in-person interviews. Nothing.

So, my confidence is getting a little shaky. I'm getting a little tired of the passive rejection. And I'm thinking of changing careers.

This is probably a big shocker to anyone that knows me. They know me as a writer. They know that ever since I learned to write that I found it irresistible. I love words. I love reading them and I love editing, and I am pretty sure that I will find it very hard to pick up another profession because I love this one so much.

Trouble is, the newspaper industry has left a lot of casualties in its wake, and there are more than too many unemployed editors and writers that have gobs more experience than me vying for the same positions. My meager resume doesn't stand a chance against a veteran assignment editor.

So, here's the mental list I've been mulling.

Top 5 careers I might consider retraining for:

5) Welder and fabricator. If you've seen flashdance, you know that a chick welding is hot.

4) Portrait photographer. I did this semi-professionally in college. I hated it. It's an option, though.

3) Go back to school for a master's degree. I'd likely try for something in natural resources, something related to public policy.

2) Write a book. (Pshaw...)

1) Open my own creperie.

Suggestions? Anything I should consider that I left out?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Make sure you're not wearing mascara

This is so beautiful it will make you cry.

Are you ready?

OK. Go.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beers with people with babies

So, a lot of the couples that Dave and I hang out with are either pregnant or have kids. When one of our friends' spawn have a birthday you just go, regardless of whether or not you have your own spawn to tote to the party.

Last weekend we went to Dave's close friend's daughter's third birthday party. It was at his his friend's father's place out in Garland. There was a pool. There was beer. I brought my camera. I regret not getting a picture of a half naked Barbie standing in a cake. I didn't even know that they still made those Barbie cakes. I always considered them embarassing for Barbie. You are basically undressing her and eating her clothes. Classy.

Some of my favorites:


Here we have the birthday girl, Leah. I am told she is a ham in front of a camera. It is true. She is coy and cute right on cue!


For some reason, I totally get a "movie star" vibe from Leah here. Her grandfather, Harold, is trying to ask her a question, and she has this sort of upturned nose toward him, sunglasses obscuring her face, as if to wonder how he dared address her in public. What a diva.


Click to go to the full sized one, and you can see the blue icing from the Barbie cake still staining her mouth. So cute!


Leah and her mom, Shelley. Shelley is the wonderful gal that introduced me to my dear husband, Dave.


What a catch, right?


Here's Leah with her dad, Mike. Mike's nickname is "Chicken." Dave and Mike were good friends growing up. Dave is still growing up (See previous picture).



Here's Janice. She is the wrangler of three very high-energy yet unbelievably cute girls.


And here's Leah, about to go down the inflatable slide. I love that little "OMG!" face in the background!


"Whoa! This is really high! You better be at the bottom to catch me!"


"Maybe it's just too high. I'm going to scoot down a little and then I'll slide. OK?"


"Look, Dad. It's just scary. Do I have to let go of the slide?"



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sometimes I shock myself with productivity

In preparation for a baby shower this Saturday (which is, ironically enough, at a Tex Mex joint in Deep Ellum that is owned by a transgendered male) I was on a knitting marathon for about a week. I needed to crank out a baby set and block them.

Ladies and gents, I'm sure you'll agree with me, that this was a resounding success:


Booties: Baby Monkey Socks by Sheri Berger of The Loopy Ewe Hat: Vine Lace Baby Hat by Sandi Wiseheart from Knitting Daily. Both are knit in Red Heart's Heart and Sole fingering weight in the colorway "Ivory."


White is very gender neutral, so these could end up as heirloom items. Stuff to take those first pictures in.


The lace cap started out looking a lot like a blob. Blocking it really helped to show off the lace pattern, which now looks like climbing vines, whereas, before it looked like a blob.


Freaking precious, no?

I also soaked some of my first handspun yesterday. Soaking the skeins really helps relax and set the twist. I didn't believe it until I actually did it. It totally works.


My yarn is a lot more consistent now, I promise. And it isn't the precise shade of doo-doo either.

More stuff to come later today!