PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Saturday, December 31, 2005

When Pepto Cannot Calm The White Hot Rage Within.

Two days ago, I made sure I stayed home between 2 & 5 pm, to meet the cable guy. With the HD TV and the HD cable box, all the regular channels look like they are being filmed off a TV in Alaska, during the middle of a snowstorm. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but still, the clarity on the regular channels suck. First Tech Dude determines there is a problem with the signal on the main line. Little pinholes let water in, the line goes to hell, or a rogue gang of squirrels has chewed it up. Second Tech Dude will come tomorrow. I stay home. STD (god, isn't this indicative of how things are going) shows up and says FTD (where the fuck are my flowers?) should have installed an amplifier (for my rock band) because the signal at the house is just fine (15) but at the cable box, not so good. (-5). We are losing 20, and the amplifier should fix it. Someone will come out tomorrow (meaning today) between 2 & 5. So I bust my lovely lady lumps to Target first thing in the morning, score an amazing deal on some holiday dinnerware & charger plates (75% off! $15 for 8 plates & 8 chargers!), get back home and there's a blinking light. A message. From Third Tech Dude, who was told to install an amplifier on the OUTSIDE of the house, and he cheerfully tells me I don't need one, cuz the signal's 15.

This is when I go blind. I call up Time Warner and explain how I was told this afternoon, how I have had to accommodate two techs already, and someone is coming back to my house TODAY. She puts me on hold, and then disconnects me.
Did you know I can leave the earth like a rocket ship? Even if I'm already blinded. I shot through the ceiling, through the roof, went to the sun and it hid behind a cloud out of fear. You think the SUN gets hot? Sweet cheeks, was I pissed. I call back, and go through their punchity-punch-punch punch mother humping menu at lightening speed and get an new CSR (Cretin-Suck-ass Representative). She puts me on hold for the lifetime of a fucking cicada, and then comes back on to tell me this has to go to a supervisor level and he will call me back. I levitate off the ground, but stay within cell phone range. I explain I will wait. She cannot put me on hold for him. I express my need that he call be back before noon. Oh, did I mention JWo had the misfortune to call in the midst of this? I don't think I needed a phone to tell him what was going on, he could have just rolled down his truck window and listened like the RCA dog.

Anyway, then I sulk and stew and steam and spew and scrunch up my face in irritation for two hours. Noon comes and goes. At 1:00, I call back. Now, I'm using my very calm, very angry voice. Everything I touch, crackles as it freezes immediately and shatters. I explain this is my third call, and we are heading towards a fourth day I have spent on my vacation accommodating their technicians. She puts me on hold. For 20 minutes. I concentrate on rotating the coconut-sized ball of fire that is sitting in my stomach. I mist it with gasoline, focusing on creating blue arcs of light. Finally, a man comes on the line. Presumably the supervisor. I re-explain everything, the light tinkling of ice shards falling all around me as the air now freezes from my voice. For the first time, I get an apology, instead of an accusation for not being home this morning. Eventually, we have resolution. Not perfect, but they are coming Thursday evening, and he waived the charges. Oh, there's the white hot arcing again. Charges? STD told me the amplifier was no charge. Oh, no. They're $45. Plus $15 to plug them in. My eyes are narrowed and irritation sloughs off my skin like dry skin getting loofahed in the shower. Then, the final olive branch: the last two weeks credited to my account. I finally reach contrite, but I know one thing: the charges WILL appear on my bill, and I WILL have to call back to get all my credits applied to my account. But when that time comes? I have this person's ID number. And a big arcing ball of fire.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:49 PM | link |

Friday, December 30, 2005

Chocolate-Dipped Memories

My father had his hip replaced yesterday, and is doing well - as well as can be expected, anyway. My understanding is that the physical therapy for recovery is the worst part of the process. He's an irascible sumbitch, and has forbidden visitors, even sending his wife home last night. I understand it somewhat, because it's a bitch when you're not feeling well and everyone comes in and looks at you with this concerned face & you have to expend energy to reassure them (or as he views it, entertain them.) So we're going to wait until he's gone through the worst of his recovery before we go and visit, but of course, I wanted to send him something so he's reminded of how much he's loved & wished a speedy recovery.

First thought, flowers. I looked online at various arrangements, including plants and gift baskets, and then.... then..... the perfect notion came to me. Betty Jane's Candy. One quick google search, and I was ecstatic to discover they had a good website. I talked to my stepmother this morning & got all the medical updates, his room number, etc., and then three minutes after they opened, I was on the phone with a sweetheart of a candy store order-taker. There's something about how the accents change, gradually, as you move north through the Midwest, and I'm from northeastern Iowa, so while we don't "tube" our O's (think of the movie "Fargo") quite as much, when I talk to people from there, I'm just awash in the memory of sounds and speech patterns and as much as I wanted to leave home as a teen, the homesickness surfaces.

I end up telling this woman my life story (well, ok, just the part that relates to Betty Jane's Candies), of how my dad & I would always stop at the candy store on our way out of town (Dubuque is the closest "big" town, and would be the only place to get certain things). Our candy of choice was chocolate-covered orange peel. Milk and dark, mixed. (Holy crap. Just typing that caused a huge surge of saliva into my mouth. Hi, Pavlov, you rang?) Anyway, Dad would buy about ten pieces, and we'd savor them on the hour-ride back home. It truly was "our" thing, something we shared and was a bond, odd as that may seem. Of course, I tell the Betty Jane Lady all this, too. She was so diplomatic; she just said, "You know, that particular candy, it seems like one of those that you either really really love it, or you want nothing to do with it." Her way of saying, "Jennifer, I don't share the crazy love for the orange peel, nor am I telling you where I live." Anyway, I got him a pound of those, and then, since they deliver in-town for a nominal fee, I also got him a pound of chocolate covered nuts. We've never been much on the cream centers, because there's always that ONE you get that brings the candy-consuming experience to a screeching halt. I couldn't even tell you what ONE that is, usually for me it's something artificially fruity, like strawberry (yecccch), and I didn't want to mess with it.

I have no idea if candy helps the recuperation process more than flowers, but knowing my father, chocolate-covered orange peel will certainly help his spirits, and he will know his only child loves him beyond words, as expressed through the language of chocolate and memories.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:14 AM | link |

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Jet-Set Jen

Yeah, I am still a little blinky-eyed at yesterday.

5:30 am BAHHN BAHHHN BAHHHN the evil awakening machine summons me from sleep.
7:00 am arrive at office to carpool to airport
8:30 am depart KC in an aluminum sardine can
9:30 am starving, grateful for small chewy granola bar & tomato juice
It was a 2 hr 40 minute flight to Salt Lake City, but they're an hour behind us. I do not do well with the time-travel-calculation-continuum, and if I'm only staying a day, I'm not bothering to figure it out. Upon arrival, we get our rental car & drive in to the client.
Have meeting with client, while silently praying they do not hear my stomach growling. Finally, go have lunch at 2p their time.
After lunch, collect things, go back to car, go back to airport, and do about 1.5 miles of walking between car dropoff, going to the wrong terminal, getting to the right terminal, getting to our gate which is apparently in the Provo zip code. Say aloud, "I am having a drink when I get home!"
4:20 pm (SLC time) Boss buys us a drink.
5:00 pm (SLC time) board identical sardine can
8:15 pm (KC time) touch down, am grateful to have lived, because I had a dramatic (false) preomonition last week that I was going to DIE on this flight. Appreciate the fact that coming home, the same flight is only 1 hr, 50 minutes. God bless the wind.
9:00 pm arrive back at agency to get car, drive home
10:00 pm eat leftover thai food for dinner
11:00 pm COLLAPSE

I did have interesting seatmates, and they were both perfect in that they were inclined to chat & talk during preparation for takeoff & then landing, but not the 2 hours in between, so I could read my book and they could listen to music/work. My boss recounted a seatmate he'd had long ago, who had asked about the book he was reading. And then after my boss had read two pages, the guy said, "So! What's happening now?" Hi, I am going to stab you with my watch and shove you in the trash bag when the flight attendant comes by again.

So today, I feel pretty wiped out, and am so glad I took today & tomorrow off! My cold is almost gone, and I'm going to (hopefully) get some of my projects done this weekend that I've been meaning to get to for some time. I know I'll be watching some movies & knitting - which for me, is an excellent way to ring in the new year. Yes, I've gotten old. er. older. Maybe even wiser!
posted by PlazaJen, 10:12 AM | link |

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Brave New World

I am steeling myself for the next couple of days.... Today will be a major work day, with tons to get done & reassurances made. Tomorrow, I head to the land of Beth and Dooce, because nothing says "long day" like a day trip to Salt Lake City! And yes, I am that fat woman you have to sit by on the plane. Sorry.

I lay in bed last night, my mind racing. I wrote about six blogs in my head (all of them? Brilliant!), and made mental lists of everything I need to do in the next couple of days. Tomorrow, for instance is Unlimited Trash Day in Kansas City. This is huge! I must find & amass all the trash in the house to take advantage of this one-day opportunity! Plus, there's laundry! Prepare for cleaning lady! The lists, they go on and on.

One of my mental blogs was a half-hearted wish for some gigantic machine that dispensed energy (daytime) and sleeping (nighttime) pills, based on the list of needs you gave it. Average workdays - average energy, perhaps you didn't even need a pill. Today? I need one that crams 12 hours of work into 6, gives me plenty of zip & zing, and then the ability to chase it with a pill that gives me a rested night sleep in under 5 hours. So I can get up & travel (pill please, one that shrinks my butt), present to the client, and then travel back home again (inflate butt upon landing, you know, for extra safety), to drive home & collapse. I'm betting I won't need a pill for sleeping on Wednesday night.....
posted by PlazaJen, 7:40 AM | link |

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Sneezes To All & Your Nose, A Good Wipe.

I'm hoping yesterday was the worst of my cold. It felt like someone had packed my sinuses with sand - pretty! I started the morning with a last-minute dash to Target, to pick up a few more gifts for our nieces, and then we were off to Arrowhead, where we watched the Chiefs resoundingly stomp the Chargers, though it's a magical mathematical formula that must happen if we're going to get into the playoffs. After the game, we were off to James' mom's house, where we watched the girls open their gifts, played cards & hung out until around 8:30. By then, I felt like I'd been dipped in tempura batter & tossed in the fry daddy - I was DONE with the day. :)

I had long-ago declared today as a Day of Sleep. I don't know if that's really going to happen, but it was nice not to be awakened by an alarm for the first time in a long time. It's also an Official Day of Laundry - yippee! I can find many, many things to celebrate, given enough time & cold medicine. For all of you (who are even on the computer - I think this is a "slow week" in Blogland), I wish a merry happy day, may your burdens be lifted & may you find joy & happiness in the moment as we have time together & the hustle & bustle pauses - if only for a day.

I'm off to celebrate a Box of Kleenex.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:45 AM | link |

Friday, December 23, 2005

Apparently, We Are Meant To Replace All Of Our Electronics. Now.

So yes, the big tv came into the home, along with a new surround system, the primary purpose for which was to stymie and madden me to the point I would become weak and a cold bug would sneak in. But nevermind that, it was an anticipated and planned purchase. Apparently, the microwave had some Grecian tragedy love affair with the old television, because on Sunday, we came home from James' family's Christmas, he tried to reheat some thai food, and KERPOW, the microwave was. no. more. Deader'n a Monty Python parrot.

We knew it was on the decline, as it would groan and struggle sometimes to heat things. It gave a last hurrah on some gravy a couple weeks ago, as I warned my friend Shelley, it might take a while because it's starting to die. Apparently the microwave heard me, because in less than a minute, the gravy was molten nuclear sludge, and the container was almost warped in half. Sorry! In any event, it did finally bite the dust, and since it had lasted 13 years, we nodded solemnly & went off the next night and bought a new one.

Now? Apparently the cordless phone carried some Shakespearean torch for the microwave & is preparing for its own swan song death. I knew it was also on the decline, because a month or so ago, it became very difficult to press the number "3" on the keypad. Since we don't use the home phone that much, it was only inconvenient when we'd call across the state line.... the prefix there being 91 :press press press BEEP: 3. Then, last night, it started emitting a harsh tonal honking in the middle of our conversation. So in a preemptive strike, I'm getting a new phone today, and saying a little hopeful prayer that we don't have to buy any more new electronics equipment in the next couple of months!

God only knows what random item in the house has pined longingly for the frickin' cordless phone & will also commit hari-kari once the new phone moves in......Yes, I'm lookin' at you, Mr. Sonicare Toothbrush.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:02 AM | link |

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I don't know, maybe they had mistletoe in their little Toyota truck. Maybe the Spirit was Moving Them and they needed to express their deep burning passion for one another in the face of retail madness. But as I sat there in the World Market parking lot, blinker on, waiting, waiting, WAITING because there were no parking spaces, because hello, it's December 21, and then waiting and waiting and WAITING and my patience was ebbing faster than a bleeder on the triage table, I am noticing that these two in the small truck with the engine running, these two are MAKING OUT. In their truck. Big passionate kisses. Long ones. Presumably with tongue. Just when you thought they were done? MORE KISSING. Jesus. Have you just met? Can you please go park over in the Chili's parking lot and do this shit?

The only reason I didn't honk? Because I figured they'd just git it on and have full-on Festivals of the Genitals in the truck just to spite my impatience, and really, what would I have done then? Gotten out and knocked on the window? Stymied, not giving a tinker's damn about Love or Compassion or Romance, I tried to convey my impatience with large hand gestures and shouting at the top of my lungs in the comfort of my car. Because there was wine to be bought, and lines to stand in, and by God, I know Consumerism is not exactly the True Spirit of Christmas, but public displays of passion are not acceptable anytime of year, and you can liplock on YOUR OWN TIME.

Speaking of spirits, my Christmas spirit is called "Bombay Sapphire". Hey, gin kinda tastes like a Christmas tree, what with the juniper berries......
posted by PlazaJen, 5:16 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Because I Had Questions? And They? Had Answers.

Don't worry, I'm not turning this into an infomercial for Radio Shack. But my aforementioned terrier-obsession with fixing my TV connections? Is at ease, for the moment. Here's the story of yesterday - along with a frightening glimpse into the Pit of Madness - aka, my brain.

So, over my lunch break, I got into PowerPoint. And I created boxes & text boxes within them, for all the electronic components that needed to be hooked up. (I even made little boxes for each of the speakers. NERD.) Then, on my way to pick up my lunch, I swung into the midtown Radio Shack. And was completely ignored by every salesperson in there. I was nervous, anyway, so I didn't get all indignant (typical path), and instead bought one red-blue-green video cord. Because of everything I didn't know, I had at least figured out that I needed it. Got back to work, set everything aside, except for the terrier in my mind who was shaking the new cord back and forth and not lying down. Whatever, buddy, I have a shitton of work to get done, I can't obsess every minute of the day.

On my drive home, I made a last-minute lane change, and went to the bigger Radio Shack, by Ward Parkway Mall. I could see there weren't many people in the store, and I thought, "Maybe. Just maybe." So I go in. I have my little folded up piece of paper. A young, somber little man named Scott walks up to me and, unbeknownst to him, opens the Door of Madness, saying, "Can I help you?"
"Yes. OK. I have a home entertainment question. I am extremely stubborn. I know I can do this, but it's NOT WORKING."
I proceed to tell him everything, smoothing the paper out on the counter. I omit the conversation from earlier in the day with my father, who told me to approach the project like a dullard. "Because the Geek Squad people aren't necessarily SMART, Jennifer, they're simply CAPABLE." Glimpses into my formative years, people, GLIMPSES.

And then? Scott encouraged me to go back to my car to get all the owners manuals I had confessed to bringing with me but not into the store. And Scott? Spent half an hour analysing everything & we drew on my PowerPoint slide and I only needed to buy two more cables, and while Scott never smiled, I knew he was one beautiful cat inside his pasty geeky body and that he wasn't a dullard, but he sure as shit WAS CAPABLE. And I came home and collapsed from the stress flowing from my body, and I didn't even get on the floor to start the rewiring process, because I KNOW now how to do it, and that is 9/10 the battle, and if I encounter any problems? I KNOW WHERE SCOTT WORKS.

Just so you know, I'm not the only one dipping my toe in the Pool of Insanity this week. In fact, yesterday afternoon, Kristin came into my office and threw herself down on the floor. Flailing. While telling me she was DONE with the holiday knitting (because she wasn't actually done with it), and then a couple people came over because they thought someone had FALLEN in my office because her foot was poking out the door, and really, in retrospect, what does that mean they think of ME? That I would just let someone fall down on the floor and not even get up & just TALK to them while they writhe in agony and pain? And while I'm talking about crazy, NO MORE POPCORN. Sweet baby jesus, the tins of popcorn keep pouring in. I thought about donating one, but to where? Old folks home? EEEK. Denture Madness. I love popcorn, and I love presents, but we have 3-4 tins in our kitchen at work (for under 30 people), plus Kristin & I each got three tins apiece yesterday. (One was a mini tin, all caramel with pounds of pecans. Uh-huh. YUM! Terrier likey!)

By tomorrow, I expect I'll be barking. The terrier inside will take over on the other things, like work, cards, presents, whatever, and instead of using language, I'll just bark. That will cut down on my time spent on phone conversations, I suspect. Peace out, peeps. Stay crazy, and keep on truckin'. And wirin'. And diagramming all your problems so the nice people at Radio Shack can give your inner terrier a rawhide bone.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:48 AM | link |

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Marching Band Dog Paddle

When Suzy learned to swim, she inflated herself by filling her lungs with as much air as possible. You could squeeze her like an accordion & make her grunt-burp, and it was hilarious. Polly, on the other hand, did everything in her power to stay above the water by trying to walk on top of it. This meant she raised her head up high, and high-stepped with her paws, like a drum major or something. The drawback was that she created immense splashing, causing her to squint, but not inconveniencing her enough to get those paws below the water. She's gotten better, but it, too, was one of those priceless things to watch.

Right now, I'm marching-band-dog-paddling. We have a whole bunch of work, the holidays are almost upon us, vacation needs to be taken, relaxation needs to happen, and I'm completely aware I'm splashing myself in the face with my panic, but unable to stop.

Thing was, I was a terrier of some sort in a former life. Right now, I am maddened and frustrated by my electronics hook-up with the whole new tv setup. Everything was fine until we exchanged the DVD burner, and re-connecting the new one has knocked out everything but the cable. It's all there, somewhere, and there's a nagging suspicion I need better cables to improve the picture, and it's all this stuff that I barely know anything about but should be able to figure out because I'm smart, just not patient. But I get obsessed. And because I know there is a "right" solution, I can't let go of it. I spent an hour on the floor last night, trying various connections, reading each owners manual, and stopped short of taking all the wires in my mouth and shaking them viciously from side-to-side like the bad weasel they are.

That's when I realized I'm just a few high marching steps away from Holiday Breakdown, where you sit on the side of the road, torn paper and ribbon around you, cable wire between your teeth, a crazed and empty stare as you pray for it to all pass. Soon.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:19 AM | link |

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Jaw-Dropping Display

We went to the lake this weekend to celebrate Christmas with James' family. On the way there, we drove by a swarming field of snow geese (and took some pictures), and then a little bit later, we saw something almost indescribable. At first, I thought it was a retail business. Because nobody would have that many inflatable holiday decorations out, unless they were displayed for sale. Of course, we stopped & drove by that location as well - and discovered rapidly that this was no retail establishment, but 4 mobile homes situated near one another, and obviously had a close, co-ordinated relationship. There were easily 100 balooning figures dotting the landscape. I took a whole bunch of pictures, and yet, it still failed to capture the enormity of the scene. Short of renting a helicopter, I don't know how I could convey the huge open countryside, the surrealness of seeing ALL these blow-up holiday decorations, and the mobile homes & barking dogs & bizarreness of it all. I'd recommend seeing the whole photo assortment on my Flickr Account; I have a lot of editing to do with commentary & boxes, that I'll get to eventually. A select few pics for those who don't want to see the whole shebang:


Blue Barrels & Jesus


I'm not kidding when I say we both felt like we needed a stiff drink after we left the scene. It was.... something. And it sure makes my neighbors down the street look like small potatoes with their measley THREE blow-ups on the lawn. I can only imagine how commanding this panorama is at night....
posted by PlazaJen, 3:33 PM | link |

Friday, December 16, 2005


Right now, time, lists, projects, must-dos - they are just circlin' the drain. I've got a hunnert things to do, twice as many things I want to do, I have trips & appointments, time-eaters and commitments, and boy, howdy, it sure must be the holidays. I am grateful the office kitchen is on another floor, because I'm not as tempted to eat all the sugar & popcorn when it's far away! (hi, it's not about self-restraint, the fact is, I'm lazy.)

Things are good. If they weren't good, all of the above would have me huddled under my electric blanket, waiting for the undertow to take me away. 8 months later, I still like my job, I still like my bosses, I have a lot of things on the horizon that are good, and I work with one of the funniest women I know. Between the two of us, we're a media minstrel show. I told her she needed to take up the banjo, so we could really take our show on the road. (I, of course, am the soft shoe, spoken-word performance part of our nationwide tour. With jazz hands.)

Oh, and an update on Inflatables Watch 2005: Snowman has been flat on his back two nights in a row, the penguin is leaning backwards, and Santa looks drunk, as he is lurching forward at a rakish, dangerous angle. I have never viewed a yard so challenged in keeping their holiday spirit upright.

Happy Weekend. Don't sweat the small stuff. And yeah, pretty much? It's all small stuff. Except Drunken Santa. He's rather tall & looming. When he's standing up all the way.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:01 PM | link |

Can't Beat The Wiz!

When I lived in St. Louis, I worked with some people who were from New York, and there's an electronics chain in NY that uses "Can't beat the Wiz!" as their tagline. For whatever reason - laughing, drinking, telling stories, it molded into my own vernacular, and it is absolutely perfect for today's blog.

For today? Is our company holiday lunch. I am looking forward to it, because historically I've had to go to evening galas and freeze my face into a smile of joy, especially the last couple years. Two years ago I drank so much gin, I ordered my girlfriends to flank me at all times so I wouldn't get myself fired for all the bitterness oozing out of me. Good times! Anyway, along with our lunch (and we don't go back to work afterwards, woo-hoo!) we have a White Elephant exchange. And my gift is gonna be a doozy. It's 100% credited to JWo. First off, his grandmother enjoys shopping at thrift stores. I know she's found awesome deals on clothes for our nieces, that's cool, but this summer she found some stuff for us. I am not trying to sound ungrateful, just keep in mind we pretty much want for nothing, and I have just gone through an enormous divesting of possessions, so extra tchotchkes are giving me hives this year. Unless you happen upon some pink milk glass. Say, the punch bowl set? That would make me jump up & down and actually shift one of the layers of the earth below me. I'd bet as far down as the mantle. In any event, one of the gifts was a toilet seat cover & tank cover set. With embroidery and ruffles. James felt we were obligated to put it out; I vetoed him, but said if he felt strongly about it, he could put it on HIS toilet seat in his bathroom. That didn't happen, so it's now going in to the White Elephant present. But the OTHER thing, that makes it so funny, and is 100% credited to JWo (the idea & everything), is that I'm putting a brand-new, factory-sealed DVD of "The Wiz" in the box. James won a backgammon tournament & the agreement was that everyone who played & lost had to send the winner a present - one of the things he got was a copy of "The Wiz".

Can't beat it! Happy Friday, peeps. I'm ready for....lunch!

Update: Kristin just stormed into my office in a frenzy of excitement, because The Wiz is apparently one of her favorite movies & she does not have it on DVD. I was treated to a few bars of "Ease on Down the Road" and some scarecrow dance moves, which left me - how do you say? - dumbstruck. I posted this blog more as a warning to her not to pick my present? And now? She's goin' for it. I guess it's true: The Wiz cannot be beat.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:01 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm Not Pointing Any Fingers, But....

SOMEBODY's lyin' down on the job of Christmas this year. MIGHT be more than one somebody.

Sweet lord, it is a new still-life every time I drive by this house. A week ago, the snowman was threatening to fall over in the morning, and by nighttime, was bent forward in a deep side-bend-pilates kind of move. They got him back up again and the penguin went next, he seemed to be leaning way back for a while. Tonight, when I drove home, both Santa & Snowman were flat on their backs and I laughed so hard, I got my camera and went back out. I hope they didn't notice the fact a flash was going off, repeatedly, at their front yard, and I thank them for the free therapy. For I have strong beliefs about how you should decorate for the holidays (I'm actually abstaining this year), but "tasteful" rules & trumps all notions of excess. Some basics? Pick a theme. A theme of ONE. White lights? Multi-lights? ONE. PICK ONE. You don't need to fill every square inch of your lawn, one or two things is sufficient to indicate you are IN THE SPIRIT. That said, I do enjoy driving by insane set-ups, just as long as it's not on my street.

So you can imagine how I reacted to THREE inflatables plus neon plus lights plus a flag plus window and door clings. No wonder Santa & Snowman are tired. I get overwhelmed just lookin' at 'em. Good thing I don't have to blow 'em. Up. UP! Stop it! BAH!
posted by PlazaJen, 7:32 PM | link |

Short-Term Boob Storage

Well, seems like we started something with that post yesterday; phsymom asked in the comments if we knew people who stored OTHER stuff in their bras, beyond the errant bread crumb or salad shrimp.

I worked for a woman in Minneapolis who kept her cash tucked in her bra. She was interesting, her name was Pat, she was brusque, and she had a bob haircut & slavic features. Pat + Bob + Brusque = Manly! But she never wore pants, always dresses & suits. Anyway, she was a shorter version of Janet Reno without the glasses, and dressed as conservatively as ol' Janet did. She had a suit-type dress in several bland colors that she just rotated, so it became a uniform of sorts. One of my co-workers enjoyed calling her Pat-iooooo furniture behind her back. Why, I'm not sure, but it was funny. My line for her was, "What's got into that PAT?" I digress. Back to Bra Storage 101: it was always disconcerting when you'd go in her office, suggest we get bagels for the team meeting, and she'd agree, reach into her dress & whip a $20 out of her bra & hand it to you. There's a reason it's lovingly referred to as cold hard cash. Warm bills throw you off your game. You'd take the money, gingerly & hesitantly, and tell yourself you'd never become her.

Then, you do. It starts randomly & innocently... Every place I've worked seems to put the vending machines in close proximity to the bathrooms. Therefore, when you take a little bathroom break & decide to be efficient with your time - you bring a little cash along with you to get a soda or a candy bar. I can't stand to set anything down in a restroom, so where do you put your dollar bill if you have no pockets? You tuck it into your bra strap and think, "I've become Pat." Of course, I'm far more stylish and would never hand warm money to co-workers, but necessity is the mother of invention, and bras can provide short-term storage options (for things beyond your boobs).... The bigger the bra, the bigger the real estate - and storage!
posted by PlazaJen, 6:53 AM | link |

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cowcatcher, Crumbcatcher.....

So, one of the drawbacks of having enormous bosoms is that your cleavage turns into a crumb trap if your shirt has any neck/chest showing. (I guess one of the plus sides is that you have cleavage to begin with? I try to balance my negatives out. And end all my sentences with prepositions.) I would say this drawback is particularly cumbersome if you're prone to spills, and especially if you eat toasted sandwiches for lunch, like me. And if you're not prone to wearing turtlenecks, like me. So I try to dine on those types of things in the presence of understanding friends (not sales reps or MY BOSS), because inevitably, I am clawing down my cleavage to retract some errant flake of crust that is itching the bejesus out of me, and NO IT CAN'T WAIT.

I should knit myself a cowcatcher to go 'round my neck, so all the crumblies just fall off and escape the Cleavage Crevice (or Crevasse, if you're trying for smart aleck...) I guess it's called a "bib".... but that seems so unfashionable. And you know me: pinnacle of all that is fashionable. I can prove it, just give me a minute to get these crumbs out of my bra.....
posted by PlazaJen, 1:47 PM | link |

If You Think I'M Crazy....

You should meet my friend Roger. Of course, he's crazy in a good way, but all the same, the man takes Christmas & shopping to a level that can only be defined as professional-grade.

We were headed to Costco on Saturday & he described the process of shopping within his family. First, everyone makes a list of what they want. Then, he puts his into a SPREADSHEET, and color codes the items - red is what he's buying for sure, blue for the rest of the stuff. That gets printed out, as he showed me in the car. (Lest you think perhaps it's just lip service.) Then, he has another worksheet with a budget for each person, and as he buys things, he enters what he bought, how much, and it automatically calculates how much he has left to spend. Oh, and of course he keeps all his receipts. Things that require long-term proof-of-purchase get photocopied, because receipts fade.

Now, you certainly are nodding and going, "whoa." But it doesn't stop there. Because his family lives in a smaller town, they are all searching for things in various places - online, etc. For some gifts & certain recipients, they go in on things together. And they call each other, with questions, updates, and requests to buy things they saw or didn't have a chance to get when they were in town, so by Christmas, they all owe each other money. One of their rituals is to sit down at the dining room table, all of them with adding machines, go through their receipts & settle up. They love the whole process & it seems to be quite fun for them all - I think it's absolutely hilarious!

I told Roger that James? Would pass out or die of a heart attack if he had married into a family that did that. I have the potential to be a contender, given my proclivity for shopping. I just don't think my organizational skills would measure up, even with the recent improvements. And don't think I'm saying Roger's any more of a shopper than me - the reason we went to Costco was for my big TV!

In unrelated news, on Friday night - I told James that Richard Pryor was dead. (James always thinks EVERYone's dead, but he corrected me on this one.) And then, Richard Pryor died on Saturday. Soon I, too, will have my own tv series.... called "The Death Whisperer."
posted by PlazaJen, 7:16 AM | link |

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Survivor Winner!

I'm just happy that the winner tonight was Danni, from Tonganoxie KS. It's a small town just past Bonner Springs, KS, which is where the big outdoor concert amphitheater is, so even though it doesn't sound like it, it's part of the Kansas City area. You know I always love gay Mormons, and I really liked Rafe, despite a couple of times I wanted to smack him, but I am glad Danni won - Stephenie just got too whiny & bossy and thought she was too in control of the game.

Now, if only the CHIEFS could have won, too.... we'd have had a great Sunday here in Cowtown. Instead, we have to keep hoping Denver trips up & we like, uh, win all the rest of our games. :cough: Keep hope alive!

This has been your final Survivor update, back to regular blogging (and Mondays! and driving! and knitting! and work!)
posted by PlazaJen, 9:59 PM | link |

All Puzzles, Great & Small

So I mentioned my newfound love of the Sudoku, and how I'm certain it's staving off dementia (rationalization for WASTING TIME). I only play the easy level, and have it set up so I can hit "enter" and see how I'm doin', along with the pencil feature so I can jot more than one number in as a placeholder.

If only hooking up all my electronic equipment were so straightforward. If I accomplish a complete, full-hookup by the end of the year, I will pretty much guarantee my senior years will be spent solving crimes ala Murder She Wrote and you will all start calling me "Miss Marple".

For the time has come, the walrus said, to buy my big tv.
And surround sound system, with stereo
and dvd player things.

But wait!
She cried, for there was more
Another DVD player
It must somehow also hook in
To the big electronic pile
Come sit, have a cookie, some coffee
she sighed, for this will take a while.

Take care!
Don't trip!
Speaker wire is everywhere.
The dogs sleep and lick your face.
They really just don't care.

For you are surfing on the floor,
You're lying down with them!
They care not for your stereo feats,
Or what hooks into what
They simply wish you'd give them treats!
This wiring thing is nuts.

And so the process begins again
Fourteen remotes surrounded
I finally got my big tv....
and the theme of the day is "Confounded".
posted by PlazaJen, 10:45 AM | link |

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sweet Li'l Munchkin.....

The finished Anouk pinafore..... on the absolutely adorable Miss Lily. She wore it for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I have to admit, not only is she the cutest li'l bug in the woooorld, but the dress/top looks pretty cute, too. :)

But I do still detest knitting with cotton... :)
posted by PlazaJen, 9:30 PM | link |

The Disappearing Sound Of The Helicopter

I've officially hit the point in the holiday season where I feel like I just got dropped into the deepest, darkest jungles of 'Nam and my only source of safety and rescue is thud-thud-thud soaring away from me. I have a zillion things to do, about half a zillion more things I *want* to do, and then there's that pesky thing called "work" that requires attendance & time..... I started to list everything here but it made me hyperventilate & my chest started to tighten, and that's not acceptable behavior in the dark jungle.

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time, don't sweat the small stuff, keep on keepin' on, keep on truckin', keep hope alive, lord what a FRIEND we have in Jesus. That last one would occasionally be shouted out by the gay black man in men's suits when I worked retail (men's dress shirts & ties) right out of college. Emmett, wherever you are, I am shouting it with the same energy. While running through the holiday jungle with an AK-47 strapped to my bathrobe.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:32 AM | link |

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Short. Fat. Mighty.

I am just sayin'. Since the hubby drove me to work, I was car-less, so Kristin and I ventured out together for some lunch. We weren't in the car two minutes before it got stuck, because some dumb cluck hasn't cleared the parking lot yet.

Much attempting of the tire direction, the level of gas, and yet the car? Not going anywhere but backwards, and that is a finite venture as well, given the metal pipe fence. At one point, we had 'er in neutral & were both pushing, and that didn't work, either. Finally, I got behind that car and I bump-pushed. Repeatedly. And assisted in getting that sucker un-stuck. At this point, it is also the proudest moment of my day.

Do you know how much her car weighs? 3,563 pounds.


posted by PlazaJen, 1:35 PM | link |

Got Snow?

We do.



The snowplow hasn't come down our street (after all, it's supposed to warm up this weekend, so why bother? I loooove the dedication to snow removal 'round these parts....) I'm inside, lollygagging around and waiting for all the accidents to take place so when I go in to work, it's clear. My industrious (school's out today) husband, on the other hand, is shoveling. The dogs? Having the times of their lives.

posted by PlazaJen, 7:35 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No Need To Dream, Bing....

We're getting snow. Lots of it. (Well, lots for Kansas City. Panic! Panic! The grocery stores are being raided of all bread and milk as I type.)

I'm about to head out into the driving mecca that is my hometown now, and go through what I endure every year, which is much gritting of the teeth, cursing & fleeting wishes I was back in Minneapolis, where most people know how to drive in the snow, don't overuse their SUV power, and they actually have more than two snowplows for the entire city. You think I exaggerate? I DON'T. Up there, living with snow is a way of life, not an occassional crisis.

On the MN drivers test, you have to identify the flashing lights of a snowplow. Here, it's more like, "pick the ranch house that looks most likely to be a meth lab."
posted by PlazaJen, 3:48 PM | link |

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Party On, Wayne....

Don't you try and tell me I am boring. I know how to rock it out. I just spent half an hour tonight searching online, comparing pricing & then ordering a part for our humidifier. Because I'm a responsible adult? I also got a new filter. Then? THEN? I played Sudoku online. Because I read somewhere doing different things & working on puzzles is supposed to help stave off Alzheimer's. It's never too early to start worrying about dementia. Especially when your career's in advertising.

There was a time in my life when I fell down a flight of concrete steps & took all the skin off my shins. (Bloody Hell! Didn't break a single dish, though!) My father showed up half an hour later (he was moving me out of my college apartment) and in horror asked, "Don't you have any band-aids?" Huh? Who has band-aids when they're 20? That's a pitcher of beer! Now I have a small plastic crate labeled "First Aid" with various band-aids, including some Hello Kitty bandaids, first aid TAPE and more neosporin than you can shake a stick at. Last year I bought a CANE after my enhanced gymnastics routine. I hung the cane up in the garage this fall and actually thought, "Well, at least I've got that for later."

At this rate, I'm going to have a LifeAlert and the Clapper before I'm 40.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:38 PM | link |

Five Things I Dreamed Of Getting For Xmas...

...As A Child.

You know what I'm talkin' about. I would lie in my bed, staring out the window at the trees silhouetted in the moonlight & fantasize & dream about finally getting one of these things. It would change my life, all for the better. I'll be interested to see how many were your dreams, too - and what your list would look like. Call it a meme, borrow the idea for your own blog. Share it!

5. A Swimming Pool. Not terribly practical in Northeast Iowa, especially RURAL NE Iowa. I, of course, did not dream for an above-ground pool, either. I wanted an in-ground, heated pool. With a bubble roof. I don't know if it was truly Olympic-sized? But it was a BIG ASS POOL in my fantasy world. Never got it.

4. A Pogo Stick. So, again with the practicality. Yes, you might think, hey, that's not so bad, what's the big deal? Why deny a child her god-given right to attempt to kill herself by bouncing around on a stick? Well, please reference the above wish - because along with RURAL comes GRAVEL. And hard dirt surfaces. We did not have cushy grass lawns, the only grass was on a hill, around the gardens, and a bitch to mow. I did not profess to knowing all I know now, so my desire for a pogo stick lived on. I did not get it, instead, my father made me stilts. Moderately fun, but again, there was no spring-action in the stilts. SIGH.

3. A Boomerang. You know about this simple device, I'm sure. You read about the aborigines in Australia, and while you didn't necessarily need to go take down some kangaroos, you couldn't imagine a more stellar, riveting show you could perform on the playground. Perhaps it could also work to knock fruit from trees. (Nevermind we only had crabapples.) I believe I had a cheapy knock-off, which I never succeeded in throwing correctly, but I knew if I got a True Australian Boomerang, I would be collecting fruit and wowing the other 4th graders in no time. Instead, I violently flung a piece of plastic into the dirt, up over my head, and generally away from me, causing me to trudge trudge trudge to pick it up & try again. Never succeeding.

2. A Scooter, Vespa, whatever. My own mode of transportation, and faster than a pogo stick. Every Sunday, I would check the classifieds in the Des Moines Register, and dream about having my own scooter. I would visualize myself speeding off to town, NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, the high-pitched whine of an overfed mosquito, to have a part-time job, pick up some milk, anything that would rationalize buying it. I did not think of the practicalities (GRAVEL! HILLS!) and was always frustrated by my parents' dogged determination to DENY ME MY FREEDOM. Freedom in a scooter. Don't think the last craze over these things didn't tug on my heartstrings a wee bit.

1. Discovering I Was Given Up For Adoption By The Queen of England In A Shroud Of Intrigue And Mystery. Listen. Delusions of grandeur have to start somewhere. I didn't care about how mean and pinched she looked, I just wanted that palace, the guards, and those little corgi dogs. And the tiara.

It's funny now, because I want for so little. I have many, many things to be thankful for, my life is not extravagant or filled with pogo sticks (god help me now, I'd break both legs), and yes, I did (weakly) try to convince my husband we should get a house with a pool when we were looking, two years ago. DE-NIED. But, I don't lie awake at night & yearn for one, either.

I will never be completely practical, I've always been something of a dreamer. I married someone who knows about insurance liability & the fact he would get stuck cleaning the pool, and would tell me in a kind way I would burn the engine out on a scooter. I'm just going to have to settle for being some form of royalty I bestow upon myself. I like the sound of Czarina....

This year, my holiday wishes include peace, good health, laughter, and love. Could I get more schmaltzy? That's Czarina of Schmaltz to YOU.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:04 AM | link |

Monday, December 05, 2005

I Could....

Just cover myself in Vaseline & roll around in the sand.

That would pull all of my irritation RIGHT into focus and serve as performance art at the same time.

However, I'm not the only one having grouchy times. The holidays do bring out the best, don't they? MMMm, love your hair, hope you win!

Anyhoo, the internet was down at home this morning, I didn't pre-write anything, and the day has been spent pretty much mixing vaseline & sand. Thus, you have been stuck with an unintelligible knitting post written last night.

I love the holidays. Good thing I'm not getting a week off.


I have, however, decided to name everything bothersome & irritating "Habu". Get your Habu off me. Take that Habu and SHOVE IT. I don't WANT Habu for dinner. Habu is being mean to me. Piss up a rope, Habu. Habu is the tool of The Man.

Habu Holidays!
posted by PlazaJen, 4:50 PM | link |

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Habu Any Wool?

I started a knitted purse on Saturday night, and all I did was BITCH BITCH BITCH. It's a kit from Habu Textiles & you carry one strand of linen (tight, twisted little bitch of linen, but I like it) and one strand of linen PAPER (crazy, insane, keep thinking it will rip) and you create a very unpleasant fabric if you were wearing it as a shirt, but since it's a purse, it's fine, rather interesting, and threatens to be gorgeous.

So it's clear I'm having a nasty Angelina-Jolie-Flirtation with this yarn, so let's talk about the directions for knitting. They're done in the "Japanese style" with numbers and dashes, and you read them from the bottom up.


This means you're increasing a total of 11 stitches. The first row, you increase one, one time. The next is every FIVE rows, increase one stitch, do this a total of four times. Next is every eight rows, one stitch, six times. Sure it makes a shitton of sense now, but Saturday night I was cursing a blue streak. And then? Apparently drawing hair-thin arrows pointing to both sides of the diagram meant "INCREASE ONE STITCH ON BOTH SIDES YOU IDIOT" which means 22 stitches, DUH, why don't you intuitively read the Japanese instructions, Jennifer? So I ripped out my crazy dangerous yarn and did it correctly.

Knitting with wool is just so much easier. This is going to be my "interspersing" project while I work on other things. And? The song in my head for THIS project, of course, would be "Turning Japanese" ...... every few rows a little chorus in my head goes, "I really think so.... da de da daa da da " Got me a case of The Vapors, I do!
posted by PlazaJen, 9:55 PM | link |

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Captain Von KrankenPantzen

I have just woken up cranky the past two days. Not good! As if that weren't an obvious observation. I'm out of sorts, I can't make up my mind on what I want to do, and am generally behaving like a sullen teenager. Wahoo! Don't you want to come sit by me on the bus?

I went in to Kristin's office yesterday and said, "I am being a PILL. I just want you to know it has nothing to do with you." which of course, she already knew. But it's always good to put things on the record. And then I proceeded to say something to the effect of since I was already in a bad mood and out of sorts, why NOT wear mohair? It's kind of a hair shirt for me, the mohair. That insane clown posse scarf I knit? Mohair. I will admit, this mohair is not too bad, in that it really doesn't itch much, if at all, but psychologically, I know I'm wearing mohair, it's a pain in the ass to knit with to begin with, why WOULDN'T you just complete your cranky-mood day by wearing a mohair scarf? If only I'd thought to wear the underwear that bind & bunch! It could have been a whole outfit tailored to irritate and accentuate discomfort.
Now, I'm out of sorts because I'm hungry, I need to go to Costco but I don't wanna, I need to do a lot of things, I don't wanna - hey? remember that crazy accomplishing-everything-and-exhausting you Jennifer from a week or so ago? She's buried in the back yard. Wrapped in a shroud of mohair.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:50 AM | link |

Friday, December 02, 2005

TGIF, Baby!

False Sun

I was randomly taking pictures yesterday, because I was driving, so of course, I should take pictures to document the fact I was up & driving at 7 a.m. (I even took one of the mo-fo who cut me off, hope you saw the FLASH and felt bad, asswipe!). We drove up to Omaha for a new biz visit, convinced our boss & co-worker (male) to go to String of Purls, where they felt uncomfortable (they were only in the store two minutes, you would have thought we were in a adult bookstore, the way they acted), and then hauled ass back home again. Left home in the waning darkness, got back home in full darkness.
Here's Kristin, about to enter the yarn shop:
We Made It!

Big sky & geese on the return trip ....
Big Sky

Geese Near Mound City

And you know how I love using the rearview mirror as a "device" in pictures... our co-worker, driving us home:
RearView Driver

Yesterday was a looong day. I think there are people who love the feel of the road or the earth or the water moving under them - those people become truckers, pilots or sailors. I prefer solid ground beneath my feet, for 6+ hours in a car numbs my butt & when I went to sleep last night, I could still feel the phantom sensation of being in a car. I did, however, get a lot accomplished on the Icehouse Clapotis (THANK YOU to Lyn for the "Electric Blue" song reference) and we had a lot of laughs on the ride. The weekend is nearly upon us, and I'm glad glad glad of that!

I feel a little like tiny Tim (from Scrooge, not the ukelele player) when I wave my coffee cup at you at all and shout, "Happy Friday, Everyone!"
posted by PlazaJen, 7:17 AM | link |

Thursday, December 01, 2005

We Want Pre-Write! We Want Pre-Write!

Yeah, so I write some of my blogs ahead of time. Usually the night before, and because I'm on this free lame-ass blog publishing format, I have to come back in & actually publish on the day it is supposed to appear. In discussing my pre-writin' skeeelz, JWo responded with a Kanye-West-flavored shout out, "We want pre-write! We want pre-write!" because Gold Digger was on the MTV2. I've noticed as I get older, I have started to speak as the old people before me spoke, and I've started with putting the "The" in front of the Nouns. Excellent! Soon I will proclaim I wash my hands in the Zink.

So, here it is, a pre-write published the night before, because I'm going on a road-trip new business adventure with three co-workers (the lovely miss K included...we'll be the dynamic duo in the back, knitting.) I'm bringing my camera, because this should be entertaining. We begin at 7:15 a.m., so please, feel sorry for me in an outpouring of flowing sympathy. Welcome to Screwsville! Population Moi!

In any event, I wanted to post a shitton of finished knitting & the current WIP. Because every day, every day I knit the yarrrrrrrnnnnn.

Here's the finished result of my handpainted yarn, knit up in a fishtail lace pattern. I need to block the finished scarf, but it's very vintage-y feeling, the colors are softer in real life.

Closeup of Fishtail Lace

I dubbed this scarf the "Insane Clown Posse Scarf", because at the end, you have over 1,200 stitches on your needles. DO YOU KNOW HOW INSANE THAT IS? Certifiable. That's how insane. Oh, and a good refresher course in just how much I dislike the mohair.

Insane Clown Posse Scarf

This is the hat & muffler I knit for JWo to keep him warm on his hunting expeditions. It's a cammo color of Lorna's Laces worsted, and super soft.

James' Muffler & Hat

I liked the yarn so much, I'm making a Clapotis in the same yarn - but the colorway is "Icehouse". Tell me you aren't trying, right now, to remember what in the hell that band's big song was. Because it's been bugging me for 5 days. Kind of like having an itch just out of reach in the middle of your back. Just now? I have been Googling & searching, and yes, I can find album information, but no song snippet to finally jar ye olde memory out of slumber. ARGH.

Clapotis, Clapotis!

If you click on through to the Flickr site, you'll also see the finished hat, mittens & scarf sets I made for Roger's niece & nephew, and another picture of the fishtail lace.

So, the date says Thursday, but I'm sending this baby out early - just like I have to get UP early. Have I ever mentioned before how un-morning-person I am? The Jennifer, she likes to sleep in.

9:20 p.m. UPDATE: I am hot on the trail of an official Icehouse site. No promises (that was also one of their hits!), but the site is here.
9:26 p.m. UPDATE: FU*K! That had nuthin. This is totally why I pre-write! Sweet Cracker Sandwich, praise the VH1. No Promises was the big song. Very Ah-Ha sounding. God, 1986 was a long time ago. Back when we played the cassettes. ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 6:54 AM | link |

As If You NEEDED Further Proof...

That Tom Cruise is a Nutjob.


Good grief. Yes, I read about it earlier, but now that they're saying HELLO, Top Gun, you can't operate one of these safely, I think it's safe to say, Tommy has lost all his marbles. All of 'em. Yes, Madonna, I am judging him. Fix your accent and put some clothes on.

Oh, and I am pre-publishing all OVER the place tonight. Mmmhmm!
posted by PlazaJen, 5:15 AM | link |