Friday, September 29, 2006

The last word

This is my last day to be working a second shift for, I hope, a long long time. Yesterday I had little to do, so I actually finished an entire book--Poison Study, by Maria Snyder. It's good. I'll get the second one when it comes out in paperback. I'd be tempted to get it now, except that we already spent lots of money on books recently, plus I have to pay for our Thanksgiving tickets, which means taking money out of savings so that I can also pay for the mortgage. I believe I'm carrying more than half of the household costs right now. I'm not too worried about it but at times like this it would be more convenient to have a shared account. Oh well, in eight months we will.

I restarted Shoelace again yesterday. I got an idea that made the initial conceit (so to speak, at least I hope) work much better, and after all I finished Poison Study with three hours left in my workday. I did make some calls, mostly leaving messages that didn't quite say "I'll call you back" since I won't. I talked to about seven people and I was struck, as I have been, by the fact that people are rude on the phone. If they weren't saying, "You're talkin' to him" or "Who are you?" when I asked to speak to X, they would say, "This is."

I suppose this is more ungrammatical than rude, but it grates on me every time. "This is she" is proper. "This is me" or even "This is her" I'll take. But "This is"? That's not a sentence. I always resist the urge to say "This is what?" or "No it isn't" or "That's very philosophical, but I'm calling to talk about your future as much as your present." Where did people get this? Is it so hard to use a pronoun? Are they that afraid of mixing up their subjects and objects? Is their breath that precious.

Grr. However, only sixteen more hours to have to deal with it all. And maybe I'll get some more writing done. Failing that, I found a new (to me) Nero Wolfe book in the thrift store that would take up an hour or two.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I haven't written that e-mail yet. I need to. Maybe today at work; for the first time I've actually got gaps in my schedule. Not that not having gaps has prevented me from, say, looking up vegetarian Moroccan recipes on the few websites that are unblocked, or reading about earwax and the Industrial Revolution on Wikipedia and depression and chignons on

This morning, I've called a dentist (not the one Brenda recommends because he's not with my current insurance; I sure hope the one I'm going to is also with whatever insurance my new company has) and discussed vegetarian options with the potential wedding caterer (how many people actually like eggplant parmesan? And will people be annoyed at having only one chicken entree?). And I'm just about to write to a friend about having a Spinning in our Graves day on Saturday. I need to go pick up my rear tail light assembly and vacuum and do yardwork, but that wasn't bad for a morning. So why am I feeling dissatisfied and inadequate? I don't get it. Perhaps it's because I slept in. I was feeling fine yesterday. We had Edith's yoga instructor come over for a private class for four of us, and while I don't feel much need for yoga as a stretching exercise I did enjoy its calming and stress-relieving qualities. I've been thinking lately about what it would take to make me happy, and the answer right now is that I'm not sure. But, my disorganized mind craving organization as it always does, getting stuff done ought to help and it doesn't.

I suppose I could go pick up the tail light assembly; it's on the way to work. I also want to buy a second shirt of the sort I'm wearing (and bought at JC Penney over the weekend on sale), because it's comfy and flattering and $20. ("I realize I'm only a cotton blend, but I've been tried on by a lot of girls and let me tell you, you look great.") But I don't think that will be enough. What's it going to take to make me happy? Not just momentarily contented, but a general satisfaction with what I'm doing with my life? I suppose I have to do something with my life. Something other than what I'm doing. The new job may help, but then again it may not. It's customer-service related, and what am I doing working in customer service? I hate customers. Admittedly it's still miles better than my current job, more interesting and better hours and better pay and better bosses (as far as I can tell, anyway), and through it I will probably have better opportunities, but will those opportunities do me any good?

Arrrgh. (Incidentally, I'm reading The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab and while I prefer realism over straight humor, it's pretty amusing. And The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, the other half of the volume, had a great bit in it about density.) I don't want to be unhappy with where I am. After all, as someone I talked to at work said the other day, go look at a homeless person and you'll realize how well off you are. But I'm dissatisfied anyway. Is this the quarterlife crisis? I thought I had that already.

Oh well. This week I will pick up the tail light assembly and vacuum and send that e-mail, and go to the dentist, and maybe pick up a cheap pot for dyeing (I have a crockpot from Goodwill but we've got a lot of fiber to dye, plus she's going to try to bring her mother and sister), and go to the mall; and I will try to be happy with what I have, and figure out what it is I feel I don't have.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Role models

"Water is soft," Mom said last night, her hands neatly folded. "But it can make the hardest stone smooth and pleasant. I want you to be water."

They're gone now, and I'm sad. This visit was far too short. But they met Eric's family, and we tried out a catering place and tried on dresses and investigated vests and bridesmaid dresses and made a mockup centerpiece, and Dad fixed our laundry pipes and installed the locks (with Eric's help) and entirely fixed up my car, including the new tires which are a Christmas present (though I will probably be getting something else then anyway, knowing them). It may have been a short trip, but it was definitely a productive one.

At some point Mom and Dad were walking into a store--I think it was Michael's--and Brenda and I were bringing up the rear, and Brenda said, "You think they're still in love?" in that semi-sarcastic way. "It's pretty obvious." Eric said, later that night, "I hope we're like that in thirty years." So do I. One of the things I love about my parents is how they love each other.

Also that they don't talk as much as Eric's family. Now I know it's not just me; it's the way I was brought up. "They do talk a lot," Mom said, "but they are very good to you and I think they mean very well." Whereas Eric said, "I like your parents, but they're too quiet." I was thinking on the drive back (noticing that every single gas station, except the one nearest the airport, had gas for $2.24, fifteen cents more than yesterday morning) that part of my homesickness lately is feeling like an outsider here as far as family goes. Eric's family has welcomed me, but I'm not like them; I'm like my own clan, and I miss them. I am arguably the person in the family who is least like the others, but I still feel the pull of that allegiance. It's nice to spend a few minutes being silent in the car, or having a discussion in which it's not necessary to interrupt to be able to say what you want to say. And not to have to be on guard against humor, except of the Butter-the-puppet-is-sneaking-up-on-me! variety.

I love my parents. They came out to meet my future in-laws and help me figure out this wedding, a wedding that they're paying for but want us to do as we wish for--within reason. After talking with them, I've come to realize that some of the things Eric and I wanted to do--like have me actually help with setup the morning of the wedding--aren't going to happen; but that's okay. They'll help me, or help me delegate. It's going to be a lovely wedding and it's largely going to be because of them. They came out to do whatever they possibly could for me; and one of the things they did, without realizing it, was demonstrating the kind of people I want Eric and me to be when we're married.

Today I turn in my official, two-sentence resignation. This morning, I think I take a nap. Once I tell Eric to put out the garbage. (His alarm has gone off three times; it's time for him to wake up.) I was going to do it for him, but I remembered some of the other things Mom advised me to do and I made his lunch instead so he'll have time.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

No time to write.

I've got the three most important people in my life (sorry, James) in my house--plus that cicada--plus several ants--and we're planning two weddings, the one Eric and I think we're going to have and the one Mom and Dad think we're going to have. And fixing up my car (ahem--my tires are so worn they're illegal). And thinking up things to do with the twelve-thousand-dollar raise I'm getting. Insert excited post about getting the job! here. I have to sleep fast; another long day approaches. After this long weekend is over--and I've changed my tires and gotten a dentist appointment--I shall ponder at leisure the exact wording to use in my resignation letter.

Friday, September 15, 2006


My parents are coming today! I was thinking yesterday that not many people my age would be this excited about their parents coming to visit, but I'm glad I'm one of them. I pick them up at five. This is another thing fueling my gladness: only three hours of work today! My back has been hurting a lot at work lately (it's that or my hand, depending on how I sit), so this will be good for me.

So I think I've mentioned we have ants. The traps we put out seem to be helping, but the occasional one still runs across the kitchen floor. Last night a particularly insolent one climbed up the counter and ran through my mail. I knocked it off the counter with a pencil (I would have squished it except the idea with the traps is to let them live so they can take the poisoned bait back to the nest) and it ran right towards the counter again. Today I opened up the drawer that we keep plastic wrap and such in and found a squashed ant. "You got what you deserved," I told it as I tossed it into the trash.

Also, there is a cicada in our basement. It whirrs away, except when I go down to do the laundry or stomp on the ground floor. It will drive me nuts before long. I can't find it, of course, because it gets quiet whenever I get close, though I've tried going downstairs very slowly and quietly. I suspect it's somewhere near where the leak in the basement is. The trouble is we don't know where that is either.

Dad has offered to take care of a Daddy-Do list, should I have one, this weekend. Right now I feel bad making them stay here, let alone fixing up the place, but I did write out a list and KILL THE CICADA is on it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Strange dreams, Fortinbras

Two nights ago I dreamed that I was in my future mother-in-law's immaculate mansion, where Eric and his ex-wife were walking around with their arms around each other's waists. This bothered me, so I went off and talked to, I believe, a cat, and then was told by some guy that we were playing 'Orchestra,' meaning every time a green light came on overhead we had to lie on our stomachs and cover our heads. I kept asking the guy what the rules were; he wouldn't tell me, but I eventually figured out it was a game of Murder. Later that day (i.e., the next REM cycle), I visited Eric in his garage and he said curtly, "Look who's here," and I discovered he was jealous of the guy I'd talked to at the party. I then told him I didn't like him walking around with his ex-wife. He hesitated and then said, "Well, some chicken's feet smell good, but I wouldn't want to eat them."

Last night I dreamed I was at work, and my computer and monitor were under my desk. I set them up, but I left for some reason and when I came back they were back under the desk. I went through a couple of iterations of this and eventually realized my coworkers were doing it to tease me. I went to my supervisor, not to tattle but to get help, and he kindly told me that nobody liked me and made me watch a video to help me be friendlier.

Today I looked through my notes at work and realized that, partly but not entirely because of the not-believing-in-work thing, I haven't been doing what I'm supposed to--instead of offering advice before it's asked, or wanted, I've been waiting for the other person to indicate what he or she wants. And it bothered me. So I started being more...not quite pushy, but communicative, I suppose. And it made things better.

I also participated in the talk at lunch with my coworkers--sort of (I also realized that our company's main communication pathway is through gossip; this is why I never know anything)--and informed Eric I would not tolerate him fraternizing with his ex-wife in that way. He assured me that there was absolutely no chance of this, and also, I have the weirdest dreams ever.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The price of gold

I was hoping for good news, but none yet. No bad news, though. Besides, my parents are coming to visit this weekend. That's good news enough. Also in, I not only finished the froggy hat and socks, I photographed them:

You'll notice (or you knitters will) that I made it in stockinette, rather than reverse stockinette, and also in rather a thicker yarn than the pattern calls for. It wasn't too bad to make the switches, though I did have to get out some spare yarn to figure out what was going on with turning the heel.

Also I packed them away, with chocolate and tea and cocoa, to be sent to the new baby's parents. And I packed Bev's present, which is a miracle considering most of it has been sitting here for months, because I'm a bad friend, cousin, and aunt.

On the other hand we went to the gem show and got some Christmas presents and a birthday present for my dad. Neither of us got anything for ourselves. I had wanted garnet earrings, but I wanted dangly ones, and the gold for them was too expensive. (It was the first I'd heard that gold prices had gone up so much.) I do wish we'd at least bought a Swiss blue topaz, because we decided that that's what one of the wedding color will be. And: we spoke with a metalsmith about making us Mobius strip wedding rings. She said, "Oh, that's easy," and asked us about various options: did we want 14k or 18k? 16-gauge? Rounded profile or square with rounded corners? Thinner on top? Were we sure Eric's ring size was smaller than mine? (It is. By a full size.) She said she'd get us an estimate by Monday evening. There is no estimate and this upsets me because she wouldn't give us an idea on the price without these factors (and now that I know that gold is up I'm wondering if we shouldn't wait a few months and have her do it when the price is down, if it becomes so) and I really want to know if we'll be able to afford it.

So waiting for good news. But also manufacturing my own.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Well...I think the interview went well. He said the woman who interviewed me before said she'd had a good feeling about me, but, well, the position was filled internally. Anyhow, it turns out that this other position does indeed sound like something I could do and even be happy in. So I've got my fingers crossed that tomorrow I'll have an excited post about how he called and I start two weeks from Monday.

(Of course, at this point almost any job would make me happier than the current one. Tuesday we had a staff meeting, our first since May, led by the new Head Over All Us Lowly Workers. When asked, he explained what the new company hierarchy and job titles were. Prior to that I had not received any information that (a) the HOAULW had changed or (b) the company hierarchy had changed, but he explained it as if we should all know this already. Then he asked what he could do to improve our morale. We started talking about respect and consistency and communication and he kept talking about a potluck. He also said twice, "If you think it's so bad why do you stay? If you think you can find someplace better, you have my blessing!")

Last night Eric and I had what I suppose we could consider as our first fight, though it was so short and non-continuous that I think it really counts as more of a spat. Anyway, after talking about what we'd each done to get each other mad and apologizing for it, he asked me, "What's really wrong?" Part of it was that I'm still struggling with having someone else in my house. The thing I got mad at him for was that when I pointed out that morning that he'd left crumbs on the counter and we have ants, he said, "Oh," and brushed the crumbs from the counter to the floor. Not a big deal, but it got me confused about how often I can scold him and how much I can try to make him do things my way--the clean way--and how he always pretends to look ashamed of himself so I can't tell whether he really is. Plus I'm the one who cleans the floors. Plus we have ants. But anyway, part of it was work. I'm not happy in my current position, and--as Eric said--I'm surprisingly unemployable. I've got weird work experience and credentials, and, as I told him, there's not much I really, truly want to do, except write. I'm good at spreadsheets, and proofreading, and that sort of thing, but there's nothing to hinge a career upon.

"Then I'll try to kick you in the ass about writing," he said. "If that's what you want to focus on. And in the meantime you'll find work as you can. And if you're not in a high-paying executive job, maybe you'll be the one to stay home with the kids." I'm still a little dubious about that rather unoriginal path, I guess; partly because I haven't been doing much writing in the last couple of years, and partly because I want it both ways--I want to be able to have a career as well as an avocation. But mainly, I love that he's willing to take me this seriously. Though I don't know about that "high-paying executive job" bit--it was his ex-wife who was the business major, not me. Though I admit almost all of my full-time jobs have paid more than his.

But yeah. I need to get off the Internet and do a little writing before bed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not so fast

Huh. So when the woman I interviewed with called this morning she said the expected thing of "It was a very tough decision; we'll certainly keep your resume on file," etc. It didn't comfort me particularly, though the "we filled the position internally" bit sort of did, because I can definitely see favoring people who already work there. Anyhow, I just got a call from another person at this company, saying he'd just talked to the woman I interviewed with, and he has a somewhat different position open and would I like to come in and talk about it? So I'll be doing that Thursday morning.

Falling short

I'm now, er, a fifth through PV. But we made root beer and chai ice cream! And salsa! And the onion-dill bread was a qualified success! And I got some sock yarn as a gift! And the dishes are done! And I'm almost done spinning my first attempted laceweight!

Ahem. Apparently my intention to work was not strong enough to resist the seductions of ordinary life. That's okay. I will continue to work on this until it is done. Preferably before my parents get here (in ten days!).

I did not get the job. The woman who interviewed me called this morning and I knew from her tone of voice when she identified herself. I don't see anything good at Monster or, so I will look again in a few days.

My first attempt at laceweight is pretty irregular, and I've discovered that spinning this thin leads me to (a) drop the spindle more often and (b) have a harder time recovering from each drop. I pulled the roving into pieces to distribute the colors a little more evenly, and it looks like I shaved a Muppet:

To counteract all this (ha!), I got on the scale yesterday and I've lost a few pounds from earlier in the year, which is very nice. I've been eating smaller meals with healthy snacks and drinking lots of water and running up and down the stairs twice every time I use the bathroom at work (because I'm out of my seat anyway) and exercising with Edith on Mondays. I also bought a pilates DVD, because we're probably never going to hook up the VCR so my tapes won't work, and found that I am not as flexible as I thought I was. But if I keep doing the workout on Wednesdays I should eventually become more so. At any rate, I think Mom will be reasonably happy when we go out to try on wedding dresses. (We won't be buying any. She's going to make it. We're just going to try them. It's what we did for Bev's wedding.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The cooking hour(s)

I'm, erm, 22 hours into making onion-dill bread. Most of those hours were not actually spend on the bread, you understand, just on letting the bread do its thing. The onion-dill bread from Jungle Jim's still lives in our memories as Crack Bread--delicious and addicting and expensive, and now that Jungle Jim's is three and a half hours away it's not really practical to go buy it, even if gas is down to $2.32 a gallon where I work. (Down. It wasn't that long ago that I was lamenting that gas had finally reached $2. It wasn't long ago that it was $3, either.) So I'm attempting to replicate it, based on this and the BH&G Cookbook's Artisan French Bread recipe. I attempted it earlier this week but messed up the directions and added too much water and too little dill. Still good, but not Crack Bread. So we'll see. Right now it's rising for the first time. (Most of the previous 22 hours have been spent letting the preferment sit.)

In the meantime, I'm finishing up the Froggy Hat (except in stockinette instead of reverse stockinette, because I'm making it out of Bernat CottonTots and it looks lousy on the reverse side) and working on PV. I'm about 10% into it, which doesn't bode well, except that I had to rewrite a scene yesterday and also we did a bunch of shopping and laundry and such. We also watched a couple of Alton Brown DVDs--Eric has become a devoted adherent; I'm going to have to get him a cast-iron pan and a sifter for Christmas--and decided to make up mint cocoa mix, since I recently ran out of Trader Joe's. We found that food-processed Starlight Mints are extremely hygroscopic, but if you add the powdered sugar to the bowl before processing them it helps. We'll see how well the mix keeps. I also wanted to make Mexican hot chocolate mix, but we only bought the one box of cocoa (Dutched, as per Alton Brown's instructions). Ah well. There will be plenty of time for hot cocoa, and we're now in the season to do it. I didn't much enjoy the summer, but I think I'm going to love this fall.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Barely awake

I keep forgetting to say this: The Oldest Living Human is dead. Long live the Oldest Living Human.

I've been getting up when Eric does, at least approximately (I tend to lie in bed and hoard the warmth while he's up getting clean and dressed for work), partly so that I can be sleepy when it's bedtime, partly so that I can actually get stuff done. This week, I have (finally) gotten my oil changed, opened a savings account, purchased my first CD (the financial version, not the musical version)...and not much else. Read, played on the computer, embroidered a smile on the froggy hat I'm making for Eric's sort-of sister's upcoming baby. I'm more of a night person, only I don't have the nights because we get to bed at a reasonable hour, most of the time. So I get off work at nine, get home at nine-thirty, eat something light, goof off or do research or pay bills for an hour, and get ready for bed.

(Oh yes. One other thing I did this week was attempt to put up a 6-foot shelf with curtain rod in the sewing room closet. It went fine until I realized that the wooden...thing running along the wall of my choice was in exactly the right spot to prevent my putting the support brackets up. There was much grumbling and bemoaning--is bemoaning intransitive?--as I extracted the drywall pins. Today: spackle. There will be no painting, because the closet is a sickly lime color that we don't have more of and wouldn't use if we did; we covered it up with yellow in the room itself but decided the closet wasn't worth it.)

This weekend--this lovely, lovely weekend--I will be finishing, finally and forever, PV. Because this is ridiculous. And I don't have the energy or confidence for a Three-Day Novel, plus I don't get to see Eric much as it is and devoting myself to the computer for 94% of the weekend would be suboptimal. Not to mention that it would be bad for my eyes and my right arm, both of which have been suffering at work under the considerably less-than-ergonomic setup of my desk. There's no hope of a new schedule until after the new year, so I'm hoping instead to get a call from that company or, failing that, find an interesting ad in this Sunday's classifieds.

(Not to mention there's a new Internet filter at work. We can't even get This gives me more time to work on, say, Shoelace when I have nothing to do, but hinders me considerably in researching work-related questions.)