Wednesday, December 30, 2009

By the numbers

It's an amazing return on investment. Three years of acting in school and community theatre was enough to garner a lifetime of "forgetting my line" nightmares.

The number? For evil?

I've been avoiding my computer since I finished my play. First there was World of Warcraft and then there was the trip to San Diego and now I am starting to watch the third season of Dexter. None of my excuses are good.

This New Year's Eve looks to be much like last year. I will probably not see anyone. I will likely fall asleep absurdly early and try not to drool on my pillow. Friday morning I will reach over and make sure my husband made it home. Glamorous!

At the liquor store I picked up a couple bottles of wine in case the urge hits, but drinking alone is so 1999.

I had to leave one bottle behind because the store was crowded, the clerk was frantic, and the bottle didn't scan. An older man, the clerk punched the numbers into the computer, nothing came back, and so he shouted at the back, "Do you have the number for Evil? The number, for Evil, you have it?"

Oh, the eyes on me. The judging. I swear the woman with the three mini bottles of vodka couldn't have looked more disgusted.

That'll show me for picking the Australian Cab.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Squeezing in one last 2009 trip

I've been visiting family and off-line for a week. I took a few portraits, ate a lot of unhealthy things, and generally tried to enjoy all that southern CA has to offer, which if you go by my itinerary is made up of Sombrero's, In-N-Out, Carl's Jr, Bob's Big Boy, and The Hat.

Now I am happy to be home with my cats. Although I think maybe some burglars broke in while we were gone and messed up the place. I don't remember leaving it this messy...

(Riiiight)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

maybe i should pack

I guess I'm on vacation.

I'm old enough now, you would've thought I'd be grown up already. But you would be wrong. I managed to drop an oyster in a martini glass tonight. Clumsy, FTW.

Monday, December 14, 2009

look into my eyes and feel a strong desire to tweet

If you subscribe to this blog's feed, you may not have noticed my semi-regular twitter updates as follyblaine on the main page. I wouldn't say I tell secrets exactly, but I totally do. Secrety secretive secrets.

Like, I share how you can download A Confederacy of Dunces for free from audible.com through tomorrow. If you haven't read it, you should check it out. Great book.

Or I link to this incredible demonstration of SixthSense Technology. We are living in a glorious future my friends, where even your shoes can play pong on public transit.

Watch and be amazed.

I admit I am far behind the times with this whole thing. I don't even have a data package on my phone to tweet whenever the mood strikes, so I must save up my pithy wit to impart at a more convenient hour.

Spontaneity is dead. Long live spontaneity.

I have no plans to cease over-sharing past 140 characters. It is my life's goal to say many things without saying anything at all. Twitter is just another means to a happy end.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A birthday and synchronized swimming

Pesky sun is shining directly on my monitor, making it difficult to read the screen. Don't let it fool you though, it's only thirty degrees out there.

Today is Jeremy's birthday, so I expect we will be doing something he wants to do. I may make a kahlua cake and he may force me to ride around on the back of his motorcycle. We do these things for love.

We've been playing World of Warcraft again. He plays a druid; I play a rogue. This is handy because we can both stealth up to creatures and then beat the crap out of them. We hit 38 last night and I would like to see us at level 40 before Monday -- or at least before the winter fest holiday starts on the 15th in-game. As you can see, the stakes are high.

For an hour this morning I watched synchronized swimming on the Canadian station. I was surprised to find it fascinating. When the China team made a snake out of their arms and legs and then rose out of the water... wow. I discovered strong feelings I didn't know I had about the scoring process, particularly when the judges marked them lower than (I thought) they deserved. Also, I found myself wondering who was the first person to think this was a good idea -- I mean, it's cool they took the concept and ran with it to create this physically demanding, artistic experience, but how did that person convince others to do it too? And then make it an Olympic event no less?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Done

I finished writing "How to Weigh the World" and mailed it off this morning. I hit the point of editing where everything started to look like crap and knew I couldn't look at it anymore without damaging it. I get a little scissor happy...

So that's it then. I'll hear back in six months. Guess I should find another project or risk falling back into the soothing arms of World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It caught me

Some fuzziness has latched itself to mi cabeza. I pretended not to notice its coming when I tripped over a single step in the garage, without lifting my feet, to land hard on my knees. (Equilibrium gone!) Or the random achiness. That should have been a clue.

I also pretended not to see it when I left for work yesterday morning and avoided the mirror. However there is no avoiding the helpful mirror voiced by people you meet throughout the day, who took one look at me and said, "You look sick." I said, "...Thanks?"

So I trudged to the bus tunnel, rode the long bus home, fell in bed, and slept. And slept.

This morning I am better, but starting to cough. So I will take a legitimate sick day and allow myself to be legitimately sick. It is for the best, I guess.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Who knew?

I love my house. I love there are no neighbors above me or below me or tacked onto the side. I do not have to load quarters into a slot to pay for laundry. I can take a shower or run the dishwasher whenever I feel like it. (I have a dishwasher!) I can paint a wall or buy a new light or change the landscaping without asking approval from anybody.

The freedom is intoxicating.

Looking for new lighting makes me happy. Thinking about getting the ceilings scraped of popcorn, redoing the downstairs 1/2 bath, and shopping for curtains -- these are the new highlights of my day.

A half hour ago I bought curtains online. I am still riding that high.

Jeremy and I have lived together in apartments since 2000. Nearly a decade, rounding up, of barely functioning appliances, dirty carpets and white walls. I feel like we have earned this and that makes it even sweeter.

This post is not meant to tempt fate or gloat. We are all a medical emergency away from bankruptcy -- luck can change. But right now, I am happy all of the things we've done have led us to this place.

Now I just have to be better at keeping it clean.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Four pages left

I need to get my play in the mail in the next few days but this last part is slow going. I tend to lose steam right before the end of something -- it's a documented character flaw. This morning I wrote a page of speech -- dense stuff, though hopefully only dense as in space it takes on the page and not intellectually dense.

Maybe I should specify on the list of characters that the main character must be very very hot and always appear on stage in a yellow string bikini and impossibly high heels.

That should take the audience's mind off this *yawn* science stuff.

Yep, just call me the master of illusion.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Only nerds need view

This is not new. I expect you've seen it, but it is making me laugh this evening: "Do you want to date my avatar?" music video:

If the video does not embed, you can watch it here.

Still not done

Gah. I did not set out to write a drama, but damn if this play is not wrenching some weird crap out of me.

On second thought, that does not sound like a fun night out.

How about uplifting humorous weird crap?

Five pages to go.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Final day of vacation

Those six vacation days went by in a flash. A lot was accomplished. In lieu of a regular entry I give you a status update:
  • Jer and I painted the TV room with Benjamin Moore's "October Mist." The color is a gray green and I love it.

  • I reached page 62 of 70 of my play.

  • I leveled my rogue in World of Warcraft from 26 to 31.

  • I got most of our Christmas shopping done.

  • And I cooked enough food to feed about 10 people.

The electrician will be here tomorrow to install the motion sensor light. I hope that goes without a hitch. And now it is nearly December. This year... man. I should write a recap to keep it straight in my head.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Now with more meteors

Now that the play is over two-thirds done I need to write a synopsis, which means I should know what it's about.

For the few who may have seen "Lifeblood" I'm sticking with my favorite formula: one character, built out of vignettes. Only in this play she is guided by an imaginary friend, and she's a smartass scientist-in-training. She's partial to physics but doesn't believe learning should be reduced to easy categories.

This play could be interpreted as my version of the coming of age, road-trip teen story.

But with more meteors. And less road.

On a personal note, this play is my love letter to science. And since I am uncomfortable with proper feelings, I've inserted a lot of dry humor. Like the salami of dialogue.

Cured and dried, people.

I woke this morning with another idea for tying up loose ends. So that's worth noting.

I'm not actually sure what the hell I'm doing, but hey, it's still happening.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Errands and motivational montages

I haven't written enough today. That may still change.

Jer and I did manage to run a few errands before he left for work. We bought the paint and assorted painterly supplies for the family room, picked up some bacon for the unhealthy salad I'm making, also wine, and bought cat food and a new litter box at the pet store.

The new litter box is sea foam green and has an entrance with tiny stairs that curve up and around to a luxurious bed of sand, all enclosed by a dome, capped with an air filter. I'm tempted to crawl inside and pee.

Later I made the salad -- it has to refrigerate overnight and think about how unhealthy it is, and baked a loaf of banana bread. Our smoked turkey just has to be brought to room temperature, so no preparation needed there... I'm planning to make a pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, Greek stuffing, and a green bean casserole tomorrow. That may end up being too much food for 2 people, but I can live with that.

I spent the last 2 hours watching The Biggest Loser, "Where are they now?" special and I totally fell for it. I ate my slice of banana bread between stupid snotty tears. Damn you, with your inspirational soundtrack and motivational montages.

As for the play title I mentioned in the earlier entry, I'm leaning towards "How to Weigh the World." For those of you who left feedback, I really appreciate it. I've been staring at Final Draft for so long the words are losing meaning.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Your opinion is humbly requested

I have two three ideas for a title:
  • To Weigh the World
  • The Collide-o-Scope
  • (11/25 edited to add) How to Weigh the World

Do you like one? Do they all suck?

This is for my unsecret project, but the content of the project isn't all that important for this. What's your gut say?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hello, decadence

I am oh-fficially on vacation for the next six days. Yep, just me in my home office. Door shut to the cats. Par-ty.

I've just reached page 45 of my play and it's all about the next six days. I've got about 25 pages until I hit the minimum finishing point. And, what the hell, I should pin down a title and find the ending while I'm at it.

Or I could just hit page 70 and stop. Write something like, "And then the world exploded. Good night and be good to one another."

If I could predict anything, it would be that the next six days will bring lots of procrastination, possibly a newly painted room, and stuffing my face. We picked a paint color, "October Mist" by Benjamin Moore and I've masked off a door. Just the one though. I got bored and wandered away.

Hey, I know what I need to kick start this grand writing extravaganza: white russians.

It is good to be a grownup.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A trip to Ace hardware

I wrote my unsecret project pages in the morning, made Quiche Lorraine in the afternoon (recipe from relishrelish.com), and in the evening Jer and I took a trip to Ace hardware. Later we watched "Night Watch" on DVD, which mostly made me want to read the book. It held my attention and I enjoyed wondering what would happen next, but I had the impression that there's a lot more happening between the scenes that hadn't translated from page to screen. Let alone from Russian to English.

At Ace we bought 3 paint samples of sage green and gray green, wood paste wax, a gutter re-directer, and a roll of painter's tape. We're planning to paint the family room/dining area some shade of green because the putty color in there is, well... not my taste. With all of the dark furniture we have (or plan to have), a green gray seemed like a good choice.

I am now trying to get motivated enough to write. The immediate problem may be due to a caffeine deficiency, so I will seek out my stimulant of choice and see if that helps. The play has just reached 42 pages of the 70 page minimum I need to reach, which means accelerated progress will need to be made this week.

The good news is I am still on track.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Barbeque sketch

My kind of humor. "A friendly barbeque turns dangerous when everyone forgets to bring meat."

The Barbeque:

If you can't see the video embedded in this post go to Funny or Die.

Colossal Squid Video

Discovery last night showed a program on the Colossal Squid. They're incredible. They have huge bodies, hooks on their tentacles that swivel, and the eye, even while dead, looks practically sentient.

Footage of the Colossal Squid captured in 2007:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Semi-elaborating on the unsecret project

Tonight I hit a minor milestone with the project formerly known as secret. I reached the halfway point, so I will provide another spoiler.

It is a play. For the first time in 4ish years I am writing a play. It is still untitled.

Okay, one more spoiler. It features a character named after my favorite alcoholic beverages. PBR Laphroaig.

That last spoiler isn't true, but maybe it should be. Sir PBR Laphroaig sounds like a fellow I would very much like to know better, old chap. What, ho!

I am one day behind schedule because I didn't write last Saturday. I aim for 2 new pages each day, after edits, which are copious and constant.

And last night I joined twitter. Finally. So you can all stop now and move onto the next big thing. My twitter name, not unlike my stripper name, is follyblaine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My secret project -- now with less secret-ness!

I've been coddling it, treating it very gingerly, but I'm ready to share I'm working on a project. Right now it's just for me, but I'm writing something and if it goes well I'll finish it. And that'll be a thing, all right. Finishing something.

Much of the last two weeks has involved 2-4 hours per day, sitting in my home office after a full day of work trying to stay focused. Last night was tough. I finally completed a page after 3 hours, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

To be fair, last night I spent more time researching than writing. And in the end the research was a very small part of the output. It came down to a few lines of dialogue.

Pandora is helping me make progress for now. My station is tuned to "Owl City." I've learned I am finicky about my environment, and the thing that helps me concentrate today is full of capriciousness tomorrow. At any moment my station may be tuned to something else entirely, like "Me First & the Gimme Gimmes," or "Flogging Molly" for example. Or maybe it already was. Or maybe I just really like to use double quotes for no reason.

See also: I am a loose cannon. And it's corollary: Don't make me cut a bitch.

I've set a deadline of the end of this month to have the first draft done, and to that end I'm taking a couple days off next week to write and maybe cook a meal for that holiday I've heard so much about.

I should probably come up with a working title for my thing. That would give the thing an air of respectability and permanence. Or maybe I should shut up and go write.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

it's for research

There's nothing quite like Googling "women’s inferiority in the Bible" to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Discovering local restaurants

I have been working on a thing and now I'm procrastinating. Somehow it got to be 4pm on Sunday and I haven't worked on the thing since Friday night, and now it seems far too late to start but if I don't start I'll be behind, which I already am, so it doesn't make much difference if I refresh Facebook or follow links across a dozen different pages that don't interest me at all.

Or I could come here. It's comfortable here. Maybe I'll stay here awhile.

Jer and I had an excellent meal last night at Hudson: new American Public House. I had the Hudson Cassoulet, which was made with pork belly, rabbit, Flageolet beans, and breadcrumbs. It was very tasty. For dessert Jer and I split a piece of chocolate stout cake with a salted caramel frosting, which was also very tasty.

Last night's meal made up for Friday night's dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, which was not good. I probably shouldn't be surprised by that, but I used to love their rosemary chicken and potato pizza and was hoping they still had it. When I didn't see it on the menu and asked the server, he said, "We don't put potatoes on pizza. Maybe you're thinking of a sandwich?"

Right, because those words are so easy to confuse.

Even if I had liked the pizza I ordered, it would have been spoiled at check time when the server disappeared. I had to go find him after a 5-10 minute wait of sitting in front of our pushed aside dishes and empty water glasses. We won't be doing that again.

At the corner of 80th and 15th in North Seattle we've found a number of excellent restaurants. Mr. Villa's is awesome Mexican. LC's Kitchen is also fantastic. So I won't mourn the loss of CPK too strongly.

Now I think I'll eat my leftovers from last night and then get back to work. Or something.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Forcing a perception shift

If I were the exaggerating type I would say today was like totally the worst day ever, or at least the worst in a long long time. So let's focus on some happy stuff!

  • The motion sensor light I ordered was delivered
  • I like the rain and it is raining
  • I love that our front stoop is covered so packages don't get wet. Also, I don't get wet digging out my keys.
  • I'm at home, finally!
  • I'm reading an interesting book
  • "The Red Tree" by Caitlin R. Kiernan was delivered yesterday. I'll read that next.
  • Everyone I know is healthy, or with only a little flu
  • I am drinking a pumpkin beer
  • I've been watching Cosmos for the first time and I like it
  • I love my little home office with its cushy red rug
So there you go. Look at all the swell stuff I got goin' on!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The funny

Jeremy surprised me Friday night by installing a new chandelier in the family room. (you can read about the purchase in this entry). It looks very nice, although it makes me want to paint everything and replace the dining room table.

Then tonight I broke the knob off the dryer. It's nothing a little wrench can't get around though.

We also got the trash and water bill yesterday.

Homeownership, FTW.

We started watching "Father Ted" and it's my new favorite thing. Here's a description from Amazon:

Join Fathers Ted, Dougal and Jack, three Irish priests exiled by the church to their own private purgatory, a twisted lump of rock called Craggy Island, as penance for indulging their daft vices. With the help of the world's most devoted housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, they tend a demented flock of island dwellers and try to make a heaven out of their rocky piece of hell.
After watching "My Hero" on PBS, I wanted to see more Ardal O'Hanlon, and that's how I found "Father Ted."

Just for fun, here's a clip of Ardal's standup:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

rotting my brain

I'm all caught up watching Mad Men, finally, except for last Sunday's episode. Now I may continue to have informed opinions about the show.

I did watch the new "V" mini-series last night. Eh, I say. It would be easier if I liked, or identified with, any of the characters. I also haven't seen the original since it first aired, but I still remember certain scenes vividly. My hopes might be too high (unrealistic) for this new version. However I don't remember them throwing around the words "terrorist/sleeper cell" quite so frequently which felt so strained. I can imagine the staff sitting around saying, hey, how can we make this more relevant?

While we're on the subject, I do have a show recommendation. I've just started watching "Jeeves & Wooster" starring a young Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Not surprisingly, it's hilarious. I'm not sure how I never heard of it before.

Last night, before the sun set too early, I engaged in some much needed raking and sweeping of leaves. I filled up half our yard waste bin. Very exciting.

It's a bright day now, full of clouds and promise and caffeine. Toodles.

Monday, November 02, 2009

looking to buy 50 shares of whimsy

"What,” said he, “makes the difference between man and all the rest of the animal creation? Every beast that strays beside me has the same corporal necessities with myself: he is hungry, and crops the grass; he is thirsty, and drinks the stream; his thirst and hunger are appeased; he is satisfied, and sleeps; he rises again, and is hungry; he is again fed, and is at rest. I am hungry and thirsty, like him, but when thirst and hunger cease, I am not at rest. I am, like him, pained with want, but am not, like him, satisfied with fulness. The intermediate hours are tedious and gloomy; I long again to be hungry that I may again quicken the attention. The birds peck the berries or the corn, and fly away to the groves, where they sit in seeming happiness on the branches, and waste their lives in tuning one unvaried series of sounds. I likewise can call the lutist and the singer; but the sounds that pleased me yesterday weary me to-day, and will grow yet more wearisome to-morrow. I can discover in me no power of perception which is not glutted with its proper pleasure, yet I do not feel myself delighted. Man surely has some latent sense for which this place affords no gratification; or he has some desire distinct from sense, which must be satisfied before he can be happy."

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson

I'm having a heckuva time finding motivation. (I must have misplaced it.) I hate to admit this, but I'm just too darned comfortable. I spend most of my free time reading and doing the bare minimum to survive. I just finished a biography on Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn and I'm a third of the way through the 900 page Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. I also find documentaries about physics on the community college channel especially fascinating.

Electromagnetism, for the win.

On a positive reinforcement note today there was progress. I made a vet appointment for both cats to get caught up on their shots and get checked out. I am also looking into a cat boarding place for our next trip south. The online pictures are very nice and it comes highly recommended by our new vet's office and Angie's List.

I also finally ordered a motion sensor light for the front of the house.

Oh hello, raindrops.

I bid on my first corporate bond this week but did not win.

We had about 30 kids trick or treat at the house on Saturday between 6:30pm and 8:15pm. I'm glad some people are still doing that.

The old man went away sufficiently discontented to find that his reasonings had produced the only conclusion which they were intended to prevent. But in the decline of life, shame and grief are of short duration: whether it be that we bear easily what we have borne long; or that, finding ourselves in age less regarded, we less regard others; or that we look with slight regard upon afflictions to which we know that the hand of death is about to put an end.

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson

Monday, October 26, 2009

you thought i didn't share enough before

One of my cats is an Olympic pee-er. This is the second time I've had to clean yellow liquid from beneath the freshly cleaned out, enclosed litter box (whose sides do not meet in a watertight way, apparently). Thank goodness for Nature's Miracle.

Yes, my life, she is glamorous. Pass the caviar.

I haven't posted much lately, but you're not missing anything. Clearly. I had some moles removed? It itches? The dermatologist hands out vaseline like candy?

I'm going to have a laser applied to my nose because I'm vain and want to clear up a blemish? No? I'm sort of excited about that one. It supposedly feels like someone is thumping on your face. Then it swells up and gets all red and then bruises and people look at you horrified and gently inquire if they can stage an intervention for spousal abuse.

I plan to look FANTASTIC for the holiday parties this year. Opa!

I finished watching season 3, episode 10, of Mad Men just now. It is a great great thing. Even if it reminds me of where I spend my days. In the last two and a half days I've watched 15 episodes and am just about caught up. Maybe next I'll catch up with Dexter and Northern Exposure. Not at the same time, of course. A serial killer in Alaska would be cockamie.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What tarot card are you?

You are The Wheel of Fortune

Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of intoxication with success

The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

reminds me of haughty melodic, actually

I just popped in Mike Doughty's new album, "Sad Man Happy Man" and I dig it. You should buy it.

Lily visited last weekend and we saw Bo Burnham at the Moore Theatre. Here. He twitters. He's a lot of fun to see in person -- talented, hilarious, and great stage presence.

My only complaint is that it had to end.

Drank some great pumpkin beer (and some not so great pumpkin beer) last night with Courtney. Very pleasant.

Friends, booze, and music. It's been a pretty sweet week.

Since I'm in a sharing mood, I highly recommend relish for online meal planning. Pair that with Safeway home grocery delivery, and you've got yourself a bona fide time saver.

I don't get any kickbacks for sharing, by the way. Or even over sharing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Squeamish? Don't read

After the whole hyperthyroid thing I avoid doctors. I do it intentionally even, like they don't exist to me. I felt I had enough bloodletting and pill popping to last at least another 10 years...

So this morning, finding myself at the dermatologist office, was sort of a surprise. What's more surprising is that I let them inject a needle below my eye and shave off a piece of my face to be tested, like it's something I do everyday. Oh? You need that to come off? Sure thing! Let me just close my eyes first.

It is highly likely to be benign; I should hear in about a week.

I probably shouldn't have looked at the tray. It would have been easier if I hadn't seen the razorblade.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Wit and Wisdom

I have been reading "Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger" and it's exactly what I needed, except for the fact -- and I shouldn't admit this -- it keeps making me cry.

Those damn words.

Charles Munger is the silent partner in Berkshire-Hathaway, Warren Buffett's collaborator. He is brilliant and witty and ethical and proven.

Jer will wake up soon and he'll wonder why my eyes are all puffy. I couldn't tell you myself. I've been reading for about an hour and then I noticed I couldn't stop weeping. Not emotional tears; I don't feel anything except admiration. And I realize just broadcasting this sounds pretty strange. Probably, likely, I've been aimless lately. Reading a lot, thinking in circles, trying to find some semblance of a mentor. I had a great one before and I understand their value, but it's been a long time. I am still learning slowly, but a mentor is so good at offering guidance. It's like a psychic shortcut.

It's not just about shortcuts.

So in the absence of a corporeal mentor I am turning to books.

And a new box of tissues.

Hello, October.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Crystal Skull

I met Dan Aykroyd tonight in the loosest sense of the word "met." I stood in line at the liquor store for a couple of hours, shook his hand, said "Thank you, Mr. Aykroyd," and left with a signed glass skull filled with vodka.

This was to promote his product, Crystal Head Vodka. It's really a cool little bottle, but I haven't tasted it yet. At 3pm, I found out the signing was at 4pm. I hopped on a bus, walked to the SODO liquor store, found out the whole store had moved, and walked the mile or so to the new location. Then I stood in line for a long time, and then it started to pour down rain. With my treasure in hand I waited on the street for a bus, which came but not before I was drenched from head to toe. Positively drippy.

Pretty much the end.

I would totally do that again though.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I am one who tumblrs

I just started a tumblr page and I'm calling it "Step 23: Quest for World Domination." I plan to use it as a show-and-tell for other people's stuff. Stuff I think is cool, anyway. Y'dig?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A slow month meets Best Buy

Where are we. So after PAX, Jer was sick for a week. We think it was swine flu. He's better now.

Life has been nice and quiet since then. Some laundry, some World of Warcraft, and some television watching. This morning we're having a TV stand delivered and in a couple of weeks the TV should arrive. It was sold out when we bought it. There's a small story there. I'll sum it up with: buying pick-up items from Best Buy is not as easy as you'd think. One of the worst customer experiences ever.

Okay, I'll back that up a little. There was a deal with the TV we bought, that included a Blu Ray player. Best Buy was out of stock of both so we arranged to pick up the Blu Ray player later and have the TV delivered about a month later. Fine. The people we worked with were great, very good in fact, but the computer system they use leaves much to be desired.

I got home with my Blu Ray player receipt to an email saying it was available for pick up. Turns out, after calling to confirm the email message, and going in the next day, the computer system set aside an open box item for us and cancelled our warehouse order. There was much finagling of the computers to get them to acknowledge our order of a NEW player. Hey, Blu Ray players are temperamental. I'm not risking it.

I went in a week later to pick up my player and they couldn't find it at first. Computers again. The people were super nice though, just completely handicapped by what they had to work with. While I waited, two people got angry and started yelling "Don't buy from Best Buy!." They were escorted out. Awesome.

You know I hesitated to share this story because we I can just hear someone mumbling, quit complaining at least you have new stuff. True. But I also saved for it. And we replaced the fuse in our current TV a year ago so we could afford a nicer one down the line. And we've never had a nice TV stand. We've been using shelving Jer has used since high school. End defensiveness.

The local Greek Festival is this weekend. I'm excited about that. And I finally ordered a duvet cover for the guest bedroom (smartbargains.com) so Lily will have a proper place to sleep when she visits next month. Whoo hoo!

And I paid our first water/trash bill as homeowners. I think that makes us official now.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) for fun and profit

This is my third PAX -- it's a video game convention started awhile back by a couple of guys who make the successful web comic, "Penny Arcade." I overheard someone say there were 75,000 people there this weekend; I have not confirmed this though I can believe it.

Jer and I and a couple of like-minded friends spent all day Friday in the Expo area. This is a huge section of the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle dedicated to game booths and includes game demos, free t-shirts, posters, merchandise for sale, game art, and fun gimmicks to get you to pay attention. One game company had what was basically a mechanical bull dressed up like a dark horse and geeks got in line to sign a waiver and get bounced around on it, until finally they were hurled into a large air-filled plastic tub. Probably injured for life.

It was awesome.

I came away with many many free t-shirts, but unfortunately all but one were sized for boys, meaning they will be work out shirts. My favorite free stuff came from Rockstar Games. They had the best shirt, I thought (it was woman sized and looked nice), and really cool Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars stickers. But the booth itself was really boring. I got to hear "Teddy Bear" on repeat on the beaterator as they tried to prove that anyone can lay down a beat. (I disagree) There was a line to watch a demo for a game called something like Red Heat Redemption, but you had to wait in line for 45 minutes, which I did. Wild West style game, huge environment, realistic body responses to getting shot. Yay? It looked cool though.

Bioshock had the best trailer, I thought. The graphics were just amazing. Jer loved the free poster but I didn't care much for it.

Brink, a game about a future colony cut off from earth on the brink of civil war between opposing factions, had the coolest overall presence -- demo, t-shirts, posters, and booth. The presenter was the CEO and played the game for us. He was very personable and the LED lights around all of the booth were awesome. The graphics in the game were incredible. Yet I still probably won't play it. I don't see much point in games where the primary objective is to create cool avatars and spend the rest of your time killing other avatars. I may have missed the point. It happens.

Female gamers were not well represented. We were in attendance, not in force but we were there and our group is clearly growing. Unfortunately the panels I attended didn't really reflect that we existed. So let me tell you PAX organizers what I want. I would like Adventure Games, and you can go ahead and capitalize that. I want to talk about WoW, or hell, any MMORPGs if you promise they are not a straight up copy of Wow (I'm looking at you Aion.) I do not want to talk about Hello Kitty Online. I don't really need to hear about female terms for teabagging over and over as the extent of my gender's involvement. (Cumsquat? Clam slam? Really?) You know what I did most of Saturday? I played Professor Layton and the Curious Village on my DS Lite sprawled on a bean bag chair, while I waited for my husband to wait in line an hour to play Diablo III for 5 minutes. Whee!

By the way, I have money to spend. Give me a reason.

I did buy two things: a Galaga mousepad (awesome!) and a Miskatonic University t-shirt from The Dreaming store. Yeah, I got a million shirts for free and I still BOUGHT one because I wanted it. (Left 4 Dead? I do not want to wait in line for 3 hours to play your stupid demo to get a t-shirt. I will give you ten bucks and free advertising to avoid that. But whatever, you do what you want. Your strategy seems to be working for you.)

I don't really want to get into the panels much, except to say two words: TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. Dude. DUDE. I do not want to be critical here. I know how hard it is to get up in front of people and do a panel, but maybe you could test that shit out ahead of time? I waited an hour and a half to see the Windows desktop and a screen resolution drop down menu? Fuck me.

Also? My female video gamer friends? When you have an opportunity to ask a question during Q&A, could you please not be a psycho stalker or talk like a fucking six year old? You are making us all look bad. Seriously. One stupid woman got up and said, "Hi. I'm your stalker. I tried to follow you home last year but my Dad wouldn't let me." And she said it all creepy and low. And she looked to be about 35.

She is probably reading this right now and planning her revenge. Super.

If it's not clear, I hate the Q&A portion.

So in summation, the Expo hall was pretty cool. Very creative, lots to see, I enjoyed it. The panels, eh. Not worth waiting an hour for. Too many problems. I never did find the LucasArts Cantina that was on my map, so I can't comment on that. And the crowd control needed some work. I point you to the moment after, what, a few thousand people left the "Make a Strip" panel and no one could move because they had two little doors for us to exit through. Someone tried to open an emergency exit, an enforcer blocked the door, and then an organizer finally made the enforcer stand aside. If there had been a fire at that moment, we would all be dead. It's a fact.

Oh right. I was summating. PAX is good. Friday was the best day to go. I am not there now because I hate crowds and needed a break. I wish the panels were not so sociologically centered. I just want to see cool stuff and talk to the writers and think about story and art and find out what computer programs they use.

More of that, please.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

dark wood and a stiff drink

We're living in turmoil again... still ... again. The living room looks like a terrible experiment -- 5 seven foot tall bookshelves are propped against one another in the center of the room. The recliner, ottoman, and 27 boxes of books are in the family room. It's chaos, albeit the controlled kind.

We are having our living room painted in a couple of days, a Benjamin Moore color called Golden Straw. We went back and forth about painting it ourselves, but the timing was very bad and the ceilings are very high, and I was just not up for it. (Jer was up for it.) I will paint the other rooms; this was just not a good room to hinge my newly minted painting career on.

On Friday we stopped at a fantastic beer store. Its sign says, "Hugest selection!" yet I forgive it because it brought me Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (haven't had this in 5 years) and Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout (more like 5 months). In related food news, we ate dinner that night at an awesome establishment -- a complete throwback featuring double martinis, big bloody cuts of meat served with real horseradish, hot fudge sundaes, and reasonable prices. I plan to return.

We also bought a TV stand today from costco.com. After shopping online all weekend, we went with one of the first options Jer found. I notice we are gravitating towards furniture with a Mad Men vibe. This is no exception.

I am a little afraid my decorating style is heavily influenced by my grandparents. It does seem like you can tack the word "modern" onto anything and make it acceptable. Maybe I am just enamored with modern retro. Is that a style?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

entertaining myself, sort of

Somehow I am just not in the mood. I left work early yesterday -- after an 11 hour work day the day before -- because I was exhausted. Plain bone weary. All the stress, all the responsibility, all the stuff pulling me in twelve different directions came to a head and my body said, enough, I'm done. Take me home.

So I did.

And slept from 6pm to 6am.

Today was a little better. But now I'm having a hard time getting started. I forced myself to put on pajamas and take out the garbage when all I really want to do is turn on the TV and veg out. Of course Jer is holding TV hostage until I unpack more -- for good reason, obviously. So I keep picking up "The Atrocity Archives," reading a bit, putting it back down, wandering around, drinking some water, until I find myself telling you all I am aimless.

On the bright side our new microwave arrived and it is a behemoth. I am excited to have a microwave that might fit a 13x9 pan; Jer is wondering if I plan to cook a turkey in it.

I just spent the last hour trying to pry apart some Tupperware in which I accidentally created a vacuum during an early microwave experiment. In related news he really shouldn't have taken away my TV. Mwahahahaha.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

the circle grows smaller

Last night we packed the last of the cleaning supplies and vacuum, two floor lamps, and packing materials into the Escort, left the keys on the counter, and drove away.

Four years, over.

Back at home we built the last of the bookshelves, took a break for Italian food and a trip to Fred Meyer (the shredded hash browns we eat every weekend were only $1 per bag!), then drank a celebratory beer. Boxes are still everywhere, black plastic bags, and plastic bins, but the transition is complete.

I sent off our first mortgage payment a few days ago.

I haven't set up my computer yet properly, so I'm still huddled over the laptop propped on a box in Jer's office. I'm cross-legged on the floor with a Chiana in my lap, so not much has changed. I crave Diet Dr. Pepper. I am not used to having all of these stairs between me and my soft drinks.

In the last two weeks I've read five Sookie Stackhouse novels. Lily, thanks again for the birthday present. I'm on the last book now. They are like candy.

I guess I better go unpack something. Maybe someday we will be done with this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let there be light scheming

Last night I had an epic adventure. See there's this chandelier...

So a few weeks ago I fell in love with a lighting fixture. I asked Jer to buy it for me for my birthday; he tried. It was a very good deal and it sold out before his order processed. Since it was discontinued I had a hard time finding it for a reasonable price. And then there was eBay.

I negotiated with an eBay seller to get the price down -- it was one of those best offer auctions -- and we finally worked out the details. He shipped it UPS to the old address. Fine.

So our neighbors are very helpful. Sometimes they are helpful to the point where I was deeply nervous they would see an attempted package delivery to us or an InfoNotice and they would confiscate it. Because clearly we've moved out, er, they've moved on. Although we have paid rent through 8/31, a VACANT sign is attached to our mailbox and while I was upstairs (WAITING FOR THE UPS GUY TO RING THE BUZZER) they replaced our names on the buzzer directory with nothingness. So there was no way for the guy to tell which unit to buzz.

We even left our neighbors a note the day before explaining we were waiting on a package.

Fine.

I took the 4:40pm water taxi to West Seattle from work, cleaned the apartment a bit, and waited until 7pm to take the last water taxi back downtown -- my car brakes are still dying. And just as I had given up all hope of meeting the UPS guy, I swung the door open and he was standing right there! I almost hugged him. He explained he had rung some other buzzers until they let him in, since he had the unit number but no way to buzz. I thanked him profusely, then raced to meet the water taxi.

On my way out I confirmed that in the 2 hours I was upstairs someone had removed our names from the buzzer list. Ugh.

I can't wait to finally see the chandelier. I hope it looks like the picture.

I arrived downtown about 7:25pm. Raced up to the University Street Transit Station, Bay A, and hopped on the bus. I arrived at my stop about 8:17pm and walked the half mile home.

Before bed I finished another Sookie Stackhouse book and fell asleep. Chiana slept in Jer's spot. The end.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A new commute

I rode a new bus into work this morning. Getting to it is a little treacherous since there are no sidewalks and it's on a busy road, but the ride was pleasant. We took side streets through Ravenna and the University District. I saw a lot of beautiful homes, parks, and cute little restaurants I didn't know existed. It was a great introduction to my new neighborhood. We eventually made our way to the express lanes and then to the bus tunnel, where I was deposited at the Pioneer Square Station, a few blocks from work. It was perfect.

The brakes on my car are making terrible noises or I would have driven today. Jer is planning to take it in.

Last night I went back to the apartment and moved another load of odds and ends. The kitchen, linen closet, and office closet still have items which don't appear to diminish in quantity no matter how much I haul away. We're getting there though. The question now is do I take the water taxi over tonight and do some light cleaning, then take it back downtown and then take the bus home? I wish my car had waited longer to malfunction. But, hey, it's 11 years old I should cut it some slack.

I watched Chiana finally eat her first wet food since the move. She's been twitchy, but seems to be coming around.

The good news is all the exhaustion caught up with me and at 11pm last night, I slept. Finally.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A boxy weekend

I am sitting on the floor of Jer's new office. My laptop is balanced across a box and a computer case. It feels like I've been off-line far longer than 2 days.

Yesterday the movers came and whisked everything away. It took 6 hours, 4 strong young men, and 1 truck. Boxes and furniture were delivered to the correct rooms and I am taking a break from unpacking to post.

I am pleased to know where the silverware is again.

The cats are gradually adjusting. Both are lounging at the top of the stairs right now.

All that's left at the old place is a few items like food, some of my clothes, and lots of cleaning.

We've already found a very tasty sub shop and Mexican restaurant. Next we should find the grocery store and a Downey ball.

Annnnd... the towels are dry. Laundry calls.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Garbage day!

I took a load of fragile items over to the house last night. About 12 big picture frames, some acrylic for the frames (mostly for On Focus Photo), and some towels. While I was there -- it was hard to leave! -- I watered the indoor plants and took the hose around to the plants on the deck and the ones in the entryway at the front of the house. We've acquired many new plants from the seller. And I really don't want them to die.

Funny thing. The seller left us a bottle of champagne and two flutes, also a very nice card signed by his family. The flutes are the only sort of cups in the place at present, so I used one to carefully water the indoor plants. I think I kept the dirt and leaves off, but I should probably warn Jer.

I also set the yard waste and trash bins at the curb. Yay, homeownership! Such a small thing but it's been years since I've had to do that. It's such a nice and normal thing.

Once the bed is moved over on Saturday, I plan to start sleeping there. Then I will only go back to the apartment to clean and wrap everything up.

On May 20, We received mutual acceptance on our home offer and here we are, almost 3 months later, finally moving in. It has been, and will continue to be, a stressful experience, but I am confident the end result will be worth it. We'll see soon enough now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Possession!

I just returned from my first trip to the house since the seller moved out.

I did not want to leave.

In completely unrelated news, anyone know how you can tell when frozen edamame goes bad? I ate it anyway, but it might be good to know.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Premature nostalgia


Our new front door

Seems like I should keep track of what's happening right now, since you only move into your first house once. Or your second or third house once, for that matter.

Life is full of arbitrary technical firsts.

We visited the seller at noon yesterday. We walked through and read the water and electric meters. He showed us the garage door openers and gave us our State Farm mail which has been piling up. Asking them to send mail to our current address was accepted and ignored. There's been about 8 envelopes so far...

In the evening we went to a housewarming party for friends. They have a delightful, charming home close to where we've been living. It was sort of like, HI, welcome to the neighborhood, see ya later!

It's been very interesting to see all the different types of Seattle homes during this process. It's been fun to dream.


Future home of my library - we bought all the furniture from the seller in this picture

Work has been pretty stressful lately, on top of the normal house stuff. I'm hoping it tapers off next week.

Movers come next Saturday. I suppose these material possessions that own me won't pack themselves.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

in line

I spent a lot of time in government offices this week. Friday it was an hour at King County Metro getting my bus pass. It could have been avoided, sure. I shouldn't have waited until 2pm on the last day of the month. Rookie mistake. I could have bought online with their ORCA solution -- except I've been avoiding that until they get the kinks worked out or I moved. It just doesn't work very well when you commute via the water taxi.

On Saturday Jer and I spent two and a half hours at the Department of Licensing. Things that could have been avoided: going on a Saturday; arriving there at 11am, a couple hours after they opened. And that's about it.

In both cases the employees were friendly, overworked. But the people... It's just a different world. In line for the bus pass someone behind me said, "Every time I get mugged they let me ride the bus for free... I was mugged 14 times last year." It's safe to say I can't relate to that.

A guy kept sighing heavily and finally called over the supervisor and started grumbling to him about the inefficiency of the place and how he could see somebody who wasn't working and blah blah blah. Congratulations on making it worse, dude. You pulled a guy from his job so he could listen to you berate him.

At the DOL we came in and they were calling number 38. We were 133. It was the parents of young children that attracted my ire. They just let them run around. One of the employees finally had to make an announcement that the rope and stanchion they were swinging from was dangerous. Turns out two hours of waiting is my limit. I came out of there with no compassion whatsoever. So, you know, congratulations young parents with wayward children. You helped me find my way to the bottom of a Bloody Mary post-haste.

My waiting line epiphany: if more people understood cause and effect we could solve all of the world's problems.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Gear

Jer picked me up from work yesterday and we went to the cycle store. Jer was already picking up the helmet he ordered so we decided to try on protective gear while we were there. He ended up with a jacket and gloves, and I got a helmet, jacket, and gloves.

I guess I'll have to start practicing. Or update my license. Or... pack.

Two weeks from today the movers will be here. I've made reservations for 4 guys and a truck to whisk everything away, and I am very excited about that. Moving into our current place with just the 2 of us and 1200 miles may have involved tears and proclamations about never doing this again god-as-my-witness.

Better start my day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Idling

Went swimming again and it was awesome. Since then I've been entertaining myself by reading articles about the best way to prepay a mortgage. Apparently there are options. Prepay, invest, emergency fund, home improvements, other savings... I spend my work life prioritizing items, so this should be a piece of cake, right?

In this case it's more about optimism. Do I think Jer or I will lose our jobs? Do I think the house needs maintenance?

If you've ever read an entry here, you know this is what I do for fun. I spend a lot of time playing the "what if" game. You're remarkably patient if you're still reading.

I don't think I've mentioned yet that we picked up the keys and closed successfully. So you know, yay. Only two weeks-ish to go.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Staying cool

Seattle set an all-time record high today of over 100 degrees. Ouch. We even have smog out there. It's like I never left southern CA. And then there's the humidity...

So, for the first time in four years, I put on my swimsuit and went in the backyard pool. I swam for about an hour and it was heavenly.

I'd been avoiding the pool because I felt bad about never helping to clean it. The owners take turns with the chemicals and I never signed up. But today? Screw it. I'm going for a dip. And I did. The end.

In other news if you sign mortgage documents you should probably check to make sure you're using blue ink. No reason.

Monday, July 27, 2009

burying the lede

You don't want to hear it; it's hot. You don't know what hot is, you say. Fine, I say. But I actually do know a little about heat. Hyperthyroidism meant I spent a lot of my life uncomfortably sweating -- as opposed to comfortably sweating -- with the added bonus of a heartbeat that never went less than 110 beats per minute. So you know what? An ultrasound to the thyroid later I totally get to bitch about the heat, even if I'm obviously sensitive about it, okay?

I'm glad we got that out of the way.

And it's only in the 90s. I am a freaking delicate flower.

So today I guess we bought a house. The guy at the escrow office never called us to confirm, but we checked the county records and confirmed it's official. We couldn't make it to the Realtor's office before they closed to get our keys, so we'll do that tomorrow. Kind of anti-climactic since we don't move in for two and a half weeks.

And in two weeks I have a birthday. Two years ago on my birthday I got engaged. Last year on my birthday I was just coming back from Japan. This year I'll be a homeowner. So there ya go. You just never know.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

getting my endorsement

It's a beautiful sunny Sunday and getting warmer all the time.

The motorcycle class was pretty fun. I knew it would be intense and I was more concerned with getting my endorsement, so I opted to take the class on a scooter. This is considered acceptable cheating. In the end both Jer and I got our endorsements, which means we passed the riding and written tests, and can update our driver's licenses.

The first day started in a classroom at 8am. About 12 of us watched videos, read from a booklet, and proved we had appropriate footwear. We took a break for lunch and then at 12:30pm met at the range across the parking lot, on the other side of a warehouse. We were given helmets and assigned bikes and taken through each step at a decent speed.

We started by walking the bikes back and forth, revving the engine, putting the bikes in neutral (I followed along as best as I could without being able to shift), power walking the bikes, and then progressed from there. The next day we focused on turns and maneuvering. We did a figure 8 -- basically two U-turns in a row -- an S-curve, a hard stop, swerve, and a lean on a curve.

The instructors were great. We took the course through Pacific NorthWest Motorcycle Safety and I would recommend them. The plan is to get our own protective gear, get our licenses updated, and then practice practice practice. We'll see where it goes from there.

I really enjoyed riding the scooter. I don't need more things to spend money on, but I could see myself riding one of those around town for short trips to the store or the mall or whatever. Plus it was really fun to take the class with Jer so I'd say it was a successful couple of days.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

eat my dust

Technically I'm on vacation but it doesn't feel like it. I don't get to sleep in or stay up late or visit exotic places.

I'm taking two days of PTO (personal time off) to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

I'm brewing some coffee, watching some television, and getting ready for a quick trip to the grocery store. We need to bring our lunches to class and we're low on options here.

I never saw myself doing this, but hey, why not?

Wish me luck.

Like $240 worth of pudding but not at all

I just received the shipping notification for my order of five bookcases. Each unit ships in two boxes and the total weight for everything is 740 pounds. Since I bought from Overstock.com during a promotion, shipping was only $1.00.

Dude. 740 pounds! On its way to me right now!

What have I done.

And more importantly, where am I going to put it all?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hyperventilaty

We are buying a house. Fer realz. (The gerund form as opposed to future or past, we are -inging it up in here) I just wired the money over and my account feels naked.

Also we signed all of our documents today. There was some last minute chaos where numbers didn't match but in the end we proceeded to sign an hour's worth of paper.

Please start referring to me as "Tree Killer, Killer of Trees." I earned it.

I am giddy crossed with sleepy and will be drinking a celebratory beer soon.

For some reason I am finding it hard to concentrate. Go figure.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bookcases on the brain

When I was a little girl I had green bookshelves and I loved them. Since then I've amassed many many books and the quest for storage space has been a constant battle.

Today I ordered five of these:

I am finally going to have a home for my collection. Hopefully all of it, or at least most of it.

We visited our new living room yesterday and I am so excited; it is my new library. The seller also showed us how to clean the filters in the furnace and took Jer into the crawlspace to show him around.

Only one month to go now!

Jer also gave me a very nice surprise last night. He acquired the first three episodes of True Blood Season 2 and we're not so far behind now. I'm still amazed at how different it is from the books -- well, I've only read the first one so far but there are some big differences.

Packing calls.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Isn't it nice to get away?

Co-worker #1: Are you going anywhere on your vacation?

Co-worker #2: I'm riding a motorcycle to Victoria, BC.

Me: I think it's very courageous of you to travel through time like that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

money on my mind again

I just called my bank and they tracked down the paperwork I sent for authorizing money stuff. (How's that for specific?) They found it and are processing it now, they said, so I may not have to drive to Idaho and beg for my money after all. (Sorry Lily, no surprise visit.) I even got a super secret phone number to call when I'm ready so I can confirm receipt.

This grown-up stuff is tiring. And 65% tricky.

We also received word yesterday that the underwriters have approved their portion of the loan. Finally. No more letters of explanation about why our landlady didn't know our move-out date (3 months early), or copies of bank statements justifying our tax refund. I'm just thankful we've had such a great team of professionals helping us through this process. I understand the underwriters have to be careful and protect their investment; I just wish our jobs, financial history, and savings counted for a little more.

What else? More boxes should arrive from uline today. I'm working with an agent to get our new insurance policy set up. Next week is our motorcycle class.

In the evenings I've been sorting old paperwork for recycling or shredding and I came across my student loan statements from 2005. I owed $23,500 for photography school! That doesn't even seem real anymore. The interest rate was over seven percent and rising. And for what? I dropped out. Makes the pit of my stomach gurgle just thinking about it. I'm so happy I made paying that off a priority. Except now I'm flirting with the idea of going back to school at night... so it's good to be reminded how much that kind of debt can suck.

A lot of my entries are focused around buying things or wanting to buy things, but that is misleading. Jer and I lead a pretty frugal life. We've had the same cars for 8-10 years. We don't go on expensive vacations and neither of us work in industries where we have to wear fancy clothes. We have a couple of hobbies we splurge on from time to time and we eat out more than we should, and that's about it.

When I do find something online I want to buy, I bookmark it in a folder called, "Things to buy if I had money." Usually that's enough to deal with the immediate urge and if I still want it later I can save for it. Or ask for it for Christmas.

There is so much going on right now. I can't wait to be on the other side of it all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

loopy, thanks for the asking

I had a small success today. For the first time I walked all the way up to the grocery store, bought a loaf of bread and some cheese, and walked all the way home. It took about an hour and involved a hill.

Better late than never.

I think back to all of my evenings and can't figure out what the heck I've been doing. Probably World of Warcraft crossed with idle Internet surfing mixed with liberal amounts of tv vegetation.

Or maybe only today is real and the rest has been a dream. And in that time I've died a thousand tiny deaths...

Or maybe I should drink more water. I may not be hydrated enough to speak to the Internet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More home buying fun

More twists and turns today that left me sleepy. Nothing bad so far, just the result of thinking I had more time than I did before we fork over the money. I had to find a notary at lunch and run to the post office to send some forms to my bank. It just occurred to me to find out if they could mail a cashier's check and turns out they don't do that.

Alrighty then.

Apparently wire transfers aren't just for laundering money as a plot device any longer. Who knew?

We're also in the process of consolidating our insurance policies. Whee.

So that was my day. I am crossing my fingers that it will all come together in some magical fashion.

Blah.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

limes make it possible

I am fighting not to keep every little thing. I am a horrible packrat, but I live with a person who, while not a clean freak, enjoys a clean surface. My own clutter doesn't bother me so much because I just don't see it.

So I am using up the last of the limes and the tonic water and trying to make a dent in the excess paper.

The weather turned and is now cooler, with the occasional burst of thunder. Last year at this time I was sitting outside working a festival, and I have to say that I am very glad to be inside and dry this year.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Packing

It's been four years since we packed all of our belongings and relocated to Seattle. Today we've begun the monumental chore all over again, only this time we're hopefully going somewhere a little more permanent -- at least according to the 30-year mortgage we're about to enter into.

I've made an appointment with movers for one month and four days from now.

The last 2 hours we've been packing books and we're about half-way done. Smallish boxes though so they don't get too heavy. It's hot today and I am insisting on an ice cream break. If it keeps up, I may also insist on a vodka break.

This is how I roll.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

where i'm at

I'm doing that self-destructive thing again. The tell-tale sign is following everything up with "seemed like a good idea at the time."

Monday, July 06, 2009

Independence Day

With the exception of the pork disaster, the food turned out amazing. My calves, on the other hand, were angry. Apparently you use those muscles when standing for 10 hours at a time? Who knew.

Post-pork, I decided to improvise. If following the recipe got me charred pieces of meat, then not following the recipe would have the opposite effect, right? As opposed to affect. Let's get emotional.

I ended up with chicken enchiladas, margaritas, drunken beans, Mexican rice, guacamole, cake, and salsa. I did not make the corn or the cheese dip as planned, but I forgive myself. There was enough food.

The weekend went by fast. Like, I blinked and it was gone. The fireworks were not as good this year, but hey, fireworks are pricey and the economy and all that. It was fun.

I did not reread the Declaration of Independence, but I sang "We the People" to myself. Quietly.

I mailed our move-out notice to the landlady today. No turning back now.

Friday, July 03, 2009

on second thought

Using the zester wasn't as difficult as I thought.

Slow frying pork on the other hand...

On the plus side I may have stumbled onto a great jerky recipe.

the reward is margaritas

I have one goal. I am focused. I am committed. I am in it to win it.

Today I will learn how to use the zester.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

i blame HGTV and World of Warcraft

With all this solitude and opportunity for reflection, I should really have my shit way more together.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All about food

I just got back from a marathon grocery trip, which is what happens when you never go to the store. Since it was 9pm they were rolling out flats of plastic wrapped boxes, stacking them high in front of the aisles, preparing to restock. On the plus side, it wasn't crowded.

For fourth of July I'm busting out my Best International Recipes cookbook and cooking a variety of Mexican dishes. Drunken beans, Mexican rice, street corn, guacamole, and two kinds of enchiladas, chicken and pork. Also a cheese dip thing with a poblano chili, once I find a poblano chili. That was the only un-success of my trip. The kitchen is full of onions, avocadoes, garlic, cilantro, and corn. It's almost like I know how to cook or something.

I'm also making margaritas and a pineapple/orange cake. Mmmm.

I should be sleeping; I have a 6am call tomorrow. Except I've chosen to watch House Hunters International instead. It's fun to dream.

My life these days is pretty much about work. Sometimes I read on the way to work. I went to happy hour last week with C Ro, which was a nice change. No news on the house.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Editing photos and a new motorcycle

I spent the morning editing photos of my two-year-old niece. I'd set some photo time aside for this weekend so that was a good use of it. If MommaJen is reading, 24 prints are being drop-shipped from the photo lab to you early this week. They turned out awesome, if I say so myself. :)

About 2pm yesterday Jer and I rented an F150 from U-Haul and drove out to Bellevue. We met Jer's co-worker at his condo and took possession of a Yamaha Virago XV535, which we promptly dropped off at Seattle Cycle Center. It's been sitting for awhile and doesn't start at the moment.

If they can get it working -- and after he takes a class in motorcycle handling -- Jer is planning to start commuting by motorcycle. He's trying to get me to take the class too and I am considering taking the scooter version. I gotta admit though, it makes me a little nervous.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

window into my life

Strangest thing I said in a meeting today: "Your hydroponics can suck ass."

For the record I am not against hydroponics. I am against a certain book about agile methodology that fills me with anger, and the cover image involves a branch in a glass of water.

I feel as if the book was written by someone recording the exact same process problems I am experiencing without offering any real solutions. Great. I could just read my notes instead. Also the tone of the book is very developer-centric, which is my nice way of saying it is anti-what I do.

I'm not a fan of discussing work here, but if you have any suggestions on agile or XP books -- especially ones that talk about the process of improving legacy code PLEASE let me know.

Hydroponics is killing me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

machinery versus millinery

My messed up brain felt guilty about taking the 8:10am water taxi to work... until I remembered I worked 11 hours yesterday (and in the end today). So rolling in a little "late" wasn't a problem.

Yo. I wear so many hats I should open a millinery.

In other news Jer is likely getting a motorcycle. It doesn't technically "start" yet but that's what mechanics are for. Am I right or am I right or am I...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday update

I'm feeling a bit better today. Every so often my mood takes a dive, that's all I can say.

Our lunch with the seller went well. He cooked us pasta with a pine nut, garlic, and olive oil sauce. I brought asiago pesto bread from Great Harvest Bread Company, which was gooey and fantastic. I also made brownies, er, employed my super box mix skills.

Someday I'll have a reason to cook again. I dragged out a few cookbooks and set them next to me. Something about artichokes and goat cheese and chicken. I don't know. In reality I microwaved some frozen chicken enchiladas and stuffed my face with a handful of Flaming Hot Cheetos.

The sun is glinting orange on the black Bank of America tower. The horizon is peachy pink. I will miss this view.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Being unreasonable

I've been avoiding kvetching about my first world problems. These include: being out of my comfort zone, a lack of guidance, and a general sense of feeling sorry for myself. You'll note that none of these problems involve not having shelter, food, or clean water to drink.

You'll note that won't you?

So all this awesome stuff is happening. We're buying a house. My job challenges me -- sometimes more than I'd like. And my retirement funds aren't looking so flimsy now that I have a 401(k) again. We're all reasonably healthy.

I slept for 12 hours on Tuesday night. 6:30pm to 6:30am. And I was still tired when I finally got up. This is representative of my week.

It probably shouldn't be a surprise. When I get stressed, I get sleepy. (Where's the evolutionary imperative in that?) And buying a house is one of those high stress situations everyone tells you about... except there isn't anything tangible to be stressed about. We've been saving for 9 years, 5 of them steadily. I've been reading books on the subject for three years, web sites for just as long. I'm mentally prepared! Or maybe not. I think it's the 30 year mortgage that's doing me in. I have to keep doing what I'm doing for 30. More. Years. I'm not sure I can -- oh look GRANITE COUNTERTOPS.

The seller is cooking us lunch at the house today. That's a little weird, isn't it? He's preparing pasta; I'm bringing brownies. After lunch we'll wander through the house so we can pick out stuff we want since he's going somewhere furnished. I may secretly scrape some popcorn off the ceiling so I can have it tested for asbestos. Or not so secretly. I haven't decided how important it is for me to have it removed. I'd rather replace the siding, and put new tile in the downstairs bathroom, and build a pantry out of the closet. Oh I have plans.

Anyway. To make myself feel better I just bought two sets of towels on sale from SmartBargains.com. They're a bamboo/cotton blend. Very soft.

I don't want to be too controversial, but I am pro-bamboo. There. It is out in the open.

For some reason it doesn't help my mood that the house I loved first and mentioned here went back on the market and is now listed for 15k less than before. I love the house we're buying more, so it's all very unreasonable to be affected by it.

Stay on target, Christy. Closing is only a month away.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunless Sunday

I've stumbled onto "Sky High," which is apparently about superheroes in high school. One kid is throwing balls of fire at another kid. That does not seem at all safe.

Hey. Wonder Woman just walked onscreen, after Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald and Bruce Campbell. Maybe this movie isn't so bad.

And... that's enough of live blogging the movie I randomly turned to after overdosing on HGTV.

An important follow-up to the last entry: I just ate a slice of chocolate peanut butter pie and it was good. Thank you for everyone who believed.

This weekend went fast. We met some new friends Friday night for a great dinner, hence the pie, and then I spent Saturday hungover on account of consuming massive amounts of vodka, tequila, and two kinds of wine. My life, she is glamorous. Also slightly concerning. And maybe too honest.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Patience

I just made a pie. It's chocolate and peanut butter. 3 1/2 more hours before I can eat it.

I would very much like to eat it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

When I obsess, I obsess

Look at me. Addicted to HGTV. I keep a laptop on the coffee table in front of the TV, and as I watch I search for keywords like "Hardiplank," "fiber cement siding," "waterproofing crawl space."

I am so ready to get on with the next phase. Well, skipping the packing and transport of boxes phase, I am ready for the living in a house phase.

I'll miss this view, fer sure. The sun is out today, no jackets needed, beautiful blue water and sky. I do get a kick out of eavesdropping on certain conversations on the water taxi. They point out the complex I live in and wonder aloud how expensive it must be to live there. At least once a week I hear someone say that and every time I smile to myself and think, not so expensive. You just have to be willing to rent.

I'm not rubbing it in. I'm just pointing out that what you think is beyond your reach might be completely reachable. Don't talk yourselves out of it, strangers on the boat.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Playing tourist

Over the weekend we showed off Seattle to our lovely sister and brother-in-law and their adorable daughter. Fremont Troll, Gasworks Park, Snoqualmie Falls, um, Underground Tour, Children's Museum at Seattle Center, Pegasus Pizza, Museum of Flight, and... more things I can't remember. It was a lot of fun.

I don't have much else to report. Still moving forward with the house. Should probably go grocery shopping and maybe do some laundry. Happy Monday.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sugarcomb Salon, Rhonda Porter, and a question

Saturday (which I just spelled Satyrday on first type) was delicious. At 10am I saw my hair stylist, Sean, at Sugarcomb Salon for highlights. They are sort of caramely, golden things, which are awesome. I've been seeing him for 2 1/2 or 3 years now and yes, I recommend him. He recently opened his own salon by Green Lake, a couple of blocks from Beth's Cafe, if you know it. Very cute place, light, and open.

At 1pm, Jeremy and I met with Rhonda Porter and we signed some mortgage paperwork to kick off our very big debt. She patiently answered my questions about the Good Faith Estimate and walked us through what we were signing. She has continually made our mortgage process easier and has been a pleasure to work with. As I've mentioned here before, I highly recommend her.

If you need a mortgage, go with the person, not the rate. Rates change constantly, ethics shouldn't.

Then we stopped at the market and bought two kinds of cheese, two kinds of salami and crackers. We picked out a brie-like one, Fromage d'Affinois and then I threw in a Brillat Savarin Truffle. I am now fully committed to the opinion that truffles make everything better.

The salami we chose was Molinari Hot Salami and Finnochiona Salumi Salami. The Molinari didn't have as much flavor as I would've liked. It was also cut thinly and felt overly greasy. The Salumi salami is excellent. (I am eating it now, for scientific purposes) Some of the listed ingredients are spice, salt, and garlic, and yep, you can taste it. It also features nice, sturdy slices. Well done.

When we got home there was a message from our Redfin agent. The seller has agreed to fix everything we listed on our home inspection report. That gets a YAY.

Overall it was a big week for home stuff. We had our inspection done (with sewer scope), locked in a great rate, and paid the earnest money (about 2% of the sale price). Next I'll need to figure out homeowners insurance. I'm currently shopping around and open to suggestions or warnings. I plan to switch auto insurance to whoever we go with and would like to have the option to set up term life with the same company as well.

Do you have anybody we should look at?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A week in bullets

It's the first night in many nights where I don't have anywhere to be or anything to prepare for. Just me and my hangover and the soft whir of computer fans.

I want to thank Maya, kermitfan, and Dan for making the trek out to Folklife over the weekend. It was great to see some friendly faces.

My schedule has been full lately. Let's do it bullet point style:

  • Last Wednesday I loaded the car with all of the festival supplies. About 200 pounds worth and many trips with a dolly.
  • Thursday night I worked late -- partly to help with a product release and partly to join in on a rare dinner opportunity with our CEO.
  • Friday I was up by 5:30am and at Folklife by 7:30am. I didn't get home until close to 9pm.
  • Saturday and Sunday was more Folklife with days lasting from 10am to 9pm.
  • Monday was the last day of Folklife and I got home around 11pm.
  • Tuesday was tough. I got to work a little late. That night I unloaded the festival supplies from my car then took it to Costco for gas and a car wash.
  • Wednesday we had our home inspection, I went back to work and that night I picked up C Ro to go see a friend I haven't seen since high school play in one of his bands.
  • Tonight I worked until 7pm after arriving at 10am. I plan to get back on a regular schedule again now.
Next up I need to decide on homeowner's insurance. And probably sleep. Sleep sounds fantastic.

As for the home inspection, it went okay. We also had a sewer scope done and determined there are no problems there. There are some places where water appears to be coming in and a few minor issues, but nothing to kill the deal so far. Fingers still crossed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dirty words

The good news about Folklife is that the weather was fantastic. Just about the best four days I could have hoped for. Unfortunately sales didn't follow. It was my second worst show ever. I can't blame the economy; the festival just wasn't a good fit for my type of work.

For example, I have never seen so many people eating out of trash cans. And not just eating, but relishing the hunt for half-eaten morsels of food. This was not about being poor and driven to the indignity of dumpster dining... this was a whole new attitude I admit I don't understand. There was pride in digging through the garbage, pulling out a treasure, and rubbing it on their faces.

It totally squicked me out. How bourgeois of me.

So in between the constant drumming, Peruvian flutes, saxophone, and main stage jamming, I felt like I was under aural attack. By themselves, these sounds can be beautiful, but together they make chaos, cacophony, noise. 36 hours of constant sound.

I have never been so happy for silence.

On Sunday night I closed my booth for the night and walked around the outskirts of the festival. At 8:30pm, the place was packed with young people, bouncing hacky sacks between their feet, strumming guitars, pounding the bottom of buckets with their hands, dancing barefoot in the grass. I admired their carefree attitude. It looked like an awful lot of fun.

I stopped at the beer garden and drank my Mirror Pond slowly, watching. Like the picket fence between us, a huge gulf has always separated me from that world and the one I've chosen. I do not let loose like that. I do not make instant friends with everyone I meet and find myself having crazy adventures with a reclaimed burrito. Nor have I ever worn a sign scrawled with the words, "Free Hugs."

And that's okay.

But maybe this weekend, just for fun, I will walk barefoot through the grass and see if it still feels just as good as I remember.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last chance for Folklife

Last day at NW Folklife today. My booth, "On Focus Photo," is over by the Intiman Theatre at Seattle Center, pretty close to the piroshky booth. I'll be there from 11am-7:30pm today if you want to stop by.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Come see me tomorrow through Monday

I’ll be at the Seattle Center (under the Space Needle-ish, close to the Intiman Theatre) Friday - Monday in my On Focus Photo Booth. 11am-8pm Friday through Sunday, and 11am-7:30pm Monday. I’ll be selling bookmarks, cards, and prints. Stop by and say hi! Or just come out and enjoy the festival.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recommendations and see me at Folklife

Today I'll start with a quick plug. If you are looking for a mortgage I unreservedly recommend Rhonda Porter. She maintains a fantastic web site full of useful resources and has been a pleasure to work with in our house purchasing process. Of course we're not at the finish line yet -- knock on wood! -- but I thought you should know she sends personalized, video emails! Is patient and responsive! Extremely knowledgeable! (I might be a little excited.)

It was a big day. We achieved mutual acceptance on our home offer and scheduled an inspection for next week. I'll be handing over my earnest money check soon and plus we got locked in at a very good rate. (Fingers still crossed for no major problems.)

So far my experience with Redfin has also been very positive. Online I was able to narrow down the homes I wanted to see without commitment. Scheduling home tours was a straightforward process. During our three trips out we met with two different field agents and saw 10 or 11 places. On our own we went to another two places we found on the site. Today an agent sent me a clear list of dates and actions I need to take to close, and scheduled the inspection on our behalf with the person I chose. So far I have absolutely no complaints.

It's funny that I've never met several of the key people in this process, but based on a few emails and phone calls I feel like I can trust them to help me make the right choices. Basically I love the internet. I hope my controversial stance does not offend you.

Last but not least, I loaded the car tonight since I have to work late tomorrow. The only thing that hasn't made it in yet is product, but the booth is a-okay for transport. So we're good to go for this weekend's Northwest Folklife Festival.

Come see On Focus Photo Friday through Monday, rain or shine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Maybe I spoke too soon

The bidding war could have gone worse... Tomorrow morning I am sending back a signed counter offer for a house, which will put us at mutual acceptance. Looks like we'll be scheduling a home inspection soon. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

If it works out we won't be closing until the end of July and then would move in sometime in August.

It seems like a really nice place. I sure hope we can navigate all of the hoops and make it ours.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yeah, right

If one more person says this is a buyer's market I will slug them. Last week our offer wasn't accepted and this week we're in a bidding war.

Maybe they are operating under a completely different definition of "buyer's market."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Here we go again

The sun is throwing me off. It feels earlier than 6:30pm. I just keep sitting here, trying not to think.

We put in an offer for a home we saw yesterday -- the reason for the self-imposed lobotomy.

I don't know if watching "Rapper's Wives" is helping or hurting the situation.

Knowing your AGI

I'm up early thinking about money, as I do. I've been searching for articles on how Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is calculated, and how to reduce the number, if necessary. I've been contributing to a Vanguard Traditional IRA, but as far as AGI is concerned, that's dumb. If I contribute the same money to a 401(k) for the exact same purpose of retirement, I get more from my money.

I think that's wild.

There are so many things that AGI controls. Like, first-time homebuyer tax credits and Roth IRA contribution limits, and student loan interest deductions.

I've never understood why a 401(k) is treated so much differently than an IRA. First, you can contribute three times more and second, you get huge pre-tax benefits. (Being married screws up all sorts of traditional IRA deduction possibilities) What's that about? The catch is that it's not in my best interest to use a 401(k) for retirement planning because of all the hidden administrative fees, high expense ratios, and 12b-1 type stuff. So if I use a 401(k) the government gives me tax advantages right now by lowering my AGI, but the plan administrator can nickel and dime me as a reward, and my retirement fund suffers. Go-go-gadget lack of transparency!

I guess the key is to change jobs frequently and roll the 401(k) into somewhere like Vanguard ten minutes after the exit interview.

Just to be clear, this isn't about looking for tax loopholes. It's about looking for gotchas, where if I happen to put my retirement money in one place versus another place there are all sorts of unintended consequences. It's not like I'll see any of this money for 30 years anyway. And since I don't have a pension, this is the fine line that will (hopefully) keep me from fighting the felines for a can of cat food someday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Night photo, bronze statue

I'm cross-posting this photo at the photoblog. On our first night in New Orleans, we walked back to our hotel from d.b.a. by way of the waterfront.

This beautiful bronze statue of a woman resting at a fountain was tucked (I imagine she still is) between two buildings, down a covered walkway. I came back and visited her in daylight and she was just as lovely well-lit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Durn

Dear Internet,

The house I loved is being sold to someone else. Our offer was not accepted.

Now I have sadness.

- Me

Not that kind of green

I am in full-on money mode over here. The urge is always there, but I've been swimming in it lately. I don't normally allow myself to sink so deep on account of it being an obsession. A sweet, sticky, dark hole I never want to leave.

Yesterday I exchanged some funds from my Vanguard IRA (VFINX and Star) to purchase VGSIX, a REIT index fund. It was disturbingly satisfying.

Then I edited my budget text file for awhile, playing with hypothetical housing costs. I used to rely on fancy money-themed software until I realized Notepad worked better for me. I may have just decided to pay off the last bits of student loan. Or maybe not.

Then I bought 50 shares of a stock on eTrade. Nothing special. Just something I've been watching for awhile and the price was good.

I don't actually have that much money to invest, or even that much invested yet, but small amounts over time slowly add up. My only investment strategy is to keep chugging along, make the best decisions I can with the information I have at the time, and if I lose it, I lose it. It's just money.

Although it's a lot more fun to go full-blown money mode when there's actually some money to play with.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Northwest Folklife is coming

I'm watching the fake Hannibal Lecter movie -- the one with Julianne Moore. It isn't a bad movie. And it isn't technically fake. It just feels like they took the same actors and put them in a salad spinner.

Tomorrow a thick package of prints should arrive. And then I will mat them. I've cleaned off the kitchen table, arranged the mat boards, the rolls of archival linen tape and the bone folder. My pencil is dull, like I like it. The blue ink is ready to stamp.

I've decided not to sell note cards at this festival. I will concentrate on 5x7 prints matted in 8x10 boards, 8x10 prints in 11x14 mats and bookmarks. I don't think Jeremy has gotten the time off, so I'm anticipating long days. The merchant account is reactivated, the rubber stamp with the business name is ordered...

Come see me at the Seattle Center, May 22-25. My business, On Focus Photo, will have a 10x10' booth. It's my only show of the year. Let's make it a good one.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Preoccupied

I have house on the brain. Specifically, one house. I don't want to talk about it too much except to acknowledge that it's worming its way around my cerebral stalks such that focus is ... difficult.

Of course I am falling for a difficult property. One that is lender owned. Apparently when you work with banks all of the timelines expand and you find yourself playing an advanced version of "hurry up and wait: home edition."

I know it is poor practice to make a home decision based on emotion. So I tell myself it is only a little crush, a harmless fling, an exercise in flirtation. We'll soon discover a life together is impossible and possibly part ways, never to see each other again.

But we'll always have that sunny afternoon. Those stolen moments. Shhh. Don't speak. It will only cheapen it.

Not a place for after dark

The door was extra wide, that was the first thing we noticed -- the front porch covered in a thick, gray layer of deck sealant. Our agent struggled a little against the lock and then pushed the door open, "I think you're really going to like this place..."

The bamboo floors and lemon walls seemed reasonable. Someone had recently painted the popcorn ceiling an interesting beige, and two severe arm chairs were the only furniture in the living room. Two plastic orange, pocked vertical window panels flanked the door, filtering the rare spring sunlight to the color of Tang. We moved on to the kitchen.

Hardware was missing from the freshly painted cabinets, but it was a fairly light, open kitchen. Not spacious, but enough room to move around. The kitchen windows overlooked a backyard devoid of greenery; the earth was entirely cemented over. A wheelbarrow filled with stagnant water leaned against the chainlink fence. We began opening closet doors.

One unassuming door at the back of the kitchen revealed a set of dark stairs leading down. "Oh," we said. "That is a surprise."

The agent descended first. It was dim, but illuminated enough to fumble for a light switch. With fresh paint still stinging our nostrils, the smell crept upon us slowly. As we moved between small, odd, wood-paneled rooms, we became aware of a pervasive odor. "Does it smell like urine to you?" asked the agent. "I think it's cigarette smoke," I said.

At the base of the stairs was a full kitchen, although dingier and more dated than the upstairs kitchen. A refrigerator, a sink, another set of cabinets.

One door led to a walled off laundry room. A narrow space led behind the stairs to another small room. A door off the kitchen led to a room with a false closet back, which led to another room. Cobwebs everywhere, a few work lights hanging around, dust, and darkness, concrete floors, and -- although outwardly I say I don't put much stock in it -- the worst energy I have ever felt.

It was as if we had wandered into a warped mirror of the upstairs. And terrible things had been done in this section of the house. The smell and the gloom and the stillness and the contrast between sun and shadow, well, it felt like we had invaded the home of a serial killer. I half expected to see a room covered in newspaper clippings and stalker shots of a pretty young female. All the little rooms could make perfect dungeons. That refrigerator would be perfect for storing body parts. The cement backyard would be a great way to destroy evidence of fresh graves.

After some nervous laughter, the three of us fled upstairs. The only thing creepier would have been if the two chairs in the living room had been rearranged. That house had a presence. I can't really explain why. We've looked at other houses with partially finished basements -- that doesn't seem to be a prerequisite for evil.

Maybe next time I will tell you about the house that had a roof going through the shower.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

True confessions

I eat an embarrassing amount of Hormel Chili.

In the next two days I am scheduled to tour six homes. One of the tours is during my lunch hour.

Today I completed the first draft of my first requirements document, co-written with an Application Architect. Also, I named a new product.

Today I drank more coffee than water.

I haven't had any alcohol since New Orleans. That will change.

I would rather be playing World of Warcraft.

I'm not sure what I'm going to wear tomorrow.

The best barbecue I've ever had was at the airport in Houston last week. I ate it twice, once on the layover there and once on the layover back.

I just spelled ate, "ait."

I only have 2 weeks until I have to play craft vendor for four days.

I feel like talking but I don't have anything to say.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New photo posted

I'm cross-posting this image at my photoblog as well:

It's a handheld shot, through the bars of a fence. As I took about two dozen shots of this statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, two young men had a rapidly escalating, heated argument that nearly came to blows. On the one hand, there's Jesus, on the other hand, these guys are going to kill each other.

Hello, French Quarter.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

New Orleans

We're back. It's 8pm and I've been up since 2:30am, so I'm not going to last long. First, I want to thank everyone who provided me with suggestions. It was very much appreciated. We didn't have nearly enough time to do it all, but we made a dent.

I would like to talk about the details more later, but at a high overview... the weather was warm and humid, but not too bad. Most of the days it was actually comfortable. We walked over to d.b.a. for beers the first night and Cafe du Monde for beignets. There were twenty-five cent martinis at Commander's Palace with my sister and her boyfriend, dinner at K-Paul's, muffaletas at Central Grocery, live jazz with Jeremy Davenport at the Ritz-Carlton, fantastic Bloody Mary's at Pere Antoine, walking down Bourbon Street with a House Special (3 types of booze mixed together in a styrofoam cup), visiting a couple of cemeteries, the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone, a catfish po-boy at a neighborhood bar called Parasol's, lots of Abita beer, and fried chicken with Crowder Peas at the Praline Connection...

This trip was all about eating and drinking. And it was fantastic. I'll be posting some photos over at www.onfocusphoto.com/blog as I get them sorted out.

And a special thanks to C Ro for watching the cats! :)