PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Did I Say I Was Bored? Silly Goose.

Just stating it to the world and the spiderbots apparently was all it took to undo the provisional cast of boredom that was tying me up yesterday. Holy smokes!

First, last night, the Wo called & told me Miss Suzy had hurt herself jumping from (something) to (another something) and had a small, but deepish gash in her thigh. So he needed to switch dogs & would I meet him in Harrisonville so he wouldn't have to drive the whole way back? No problem. I did have to switch to LaFonda, because it's lower to the ground & we didn't want Suze to have to do any more jumping than necessary. In the time it took me to get home, grab a quick bite, switch cars & get Li'l P, he went to a vet & had her looked at. I love small town vets, I'll just say this right now. The vet irrigated her wound, put antibiotics on it, gave her four stitches, another antibiotic shot, AND two weeks of antibiotics (twice daily, we are using the peanut butter mail men cookies as the delivery distraction) - all for $80. Nothing against the good vets of our metro, but I'd wager it would have cost double to do all that up here!

So, we made the dog swap, Suzy was just fine & cheerful and had good times leaning over and licking my chin while I was driving. We made a stop at World Market on the way back, where I got our new media console & tower to re-organize the tv & various electronics in the living room. (Half off! Gotta love it!) I had decided I'd take this afternoon off, to just putter & put the furniture together - but I walked in to work to a typhoon. We have a new business prospect coming in next week and WHAMMO, suddenly everything's a twitter and we have a gajillion things to do (though, oddly enough, most of it doesn't involve me!) So I'm going to stick around a smidge more, do a couple necessary things, and then vamoose. Tomorrow will be spent assembling furniture & then getting everything set up, which will be kinda fun. And still, there is all the laundry. Le sigh.

Be careful what you wish for! Actually, I'll almost always choose busy (just typed "Busty", which is applicable as well) over bored stiff.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:38 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Oh my god, we are open this week (sortof), we had yesterday & Monday off, and we get Friday afternoon off, and these are going to be the longest days of my life. I have no idea why I dressed up today. Wait, that's a lie. I haven't done laundry in two weeks and my current cycle of clothing needs washing. In any event, I cannot wait for the minutes to sail by & I will run from the building. Wait, that's a lie, too. I don't run. I will, however, scamper. Quickly.

Garsh! Well, how are you doing? I am reminded of a book I had as a teenager that yelled at me, "When you're bored, you're boring to be around!" And that's how this blog entry sure feels. BO-ring. Not that life hasn't been interesting & good, or even painful and sad, because it's been all those things. There was a moment on Friday when all of James' family was in the house, plus our neighbor, and food was being eaten & stories were being told & voices rose & fell and air was inhaled and exhaled to laugh at what was being said and alone in the kitchen, I felt the infinity of the emptiness in me, that I will carry with me always, but it fell out of its moorings and dropped through the floor and into the ground and through the earth and into the universe, and the sadness of missing my dad and that cold reality faced me, that we will not gather and laugh and I just burst into tears. I am getting better at recovering quicker, but I sense that I will probably have a good cry here in the next few days or so, I've been hastily packing up how I feel and keeping it contained in my quarantine jar. My loneliness for him is exquisite. I think of the tree branches outside my childhood bedroom window, delicately overlapping their twigs, silhouetted against the sky. The shapes they formed, so thin, so tiny, so blurred in the dark, I could never capture them on paper, just in my mind. My feelings are similar. I can't find the exact arrangement of words to describe it, because it will never do it justice.

Anyway. One foot in front of the other, one minute begins anew as the previous one comes to a close. It's all we can do.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:33 PM | link |

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hari Kari Kasseri!

I refuse to get agitated. I won't do it. I don't care how slowly, or badly you drive, or how badly you park, or how dimwittedly you conduct yourself through this holiday maze, I Will! Not! Succumb! To your stupidity.

Not that I didn't get a triple-dose decker exposure to it today. Serenity now!

I went to Target, to pick up a few groceries and with the notion that I'd get a mani-pedi at some point, depending on when my favorite place opened. I left fairly early (9:30), stopped at QuikTrip, and then moseyed on south to the 135th & State Line MeccaLand. First order of business? Obtain kasseri cheese. I've seen it before in cheese cases, at places as innocuous as Price Chopper. So certainly a SuperTarget will have it. Oh no. Nope. I read all the little labels three times, scanning like an Evelyn Wood Power Reading Success Story. Finally a man behind the counter asked if he could help me find anything, and with a hopeful, yet knowingly sad, tone in my voice, I asked about the kasseri. Nope, he didn't know anything about it. Motions over Moustached Man. Nope. I ask for a suggestion on where to try, because I do have a little time to kill before the nail salon opens. Well, there's a Hen House over on 135th, but he recommended the Hen House up at 119th & Roe, because they have EVERYthing there, including kosher cheese.

I refrain from pointing out that just because they both start with a "K", doesn't mean they're gonna have it. But anyway. He was pretty convinced that was THE place to go. I finish my shopping there, hop back into Mimi, and toodle on into Kansas. I see a Price Chopper, the size of a small stadium. Well, now I'm in fancy-schmancy suburbia, so why not give it a go? It's always bewildering to walk into a grocery store you're unfamiliar with, because you don't know, do you go to the left or the right? To the right. After a second of blinking, I found the cheese case. Strike Two. Onward to the Hen House that will surely have it.

Again with the confusion and which way to go, and holy toledo, this store's a LOT busier. And we go to the left. Blink, blink. OK. They have a special showcase for one brand only. Hm. That can't be it. Then, and I almost thought I heard angels singing, but it could have been the holiday Muzak, I see a white-coated man stocking up a case labeled "SPECIALTY CHEESES". Sweet salvation! Since he's right there, I skip the Evelyn Woods performance and just ask. He looks up at me and says, "Kasseri? Nope, we don't have any."

At that point, I looked like a cartoon character, because I clapped my hand to my forehead. A woman moving around me even expressed some sympathy for me, as they obviously didn't have what I wanted. I asked Mr. Specialty Cheese where he thought I could find some, praying he wouldn't say "Dean & Deluca", which happened to be right across the street, and me without my house papers to take out a second mortgage. (I joke, I would probably have to just put the Murano up as collateral.) He offers to call the other Hen House, out at 135th & Metcalf, and he's on the phone for a long time. He hangs up and says, "He's got kasseri in the case." I nearly danced a jig. Back out to the car (I started to feel like I'd gotten my exercise for the day at this point), and through the traffic that is ever-increasing as the day moves along.

Locate this Hen House (Store #4 on this adventure, for those of you counting), wait patiently for one vehicle to Austin-Powers his way out of a spot, wait some more, watch the woman in the SUV behind Austin P. throw her hands in the air and scream, laugh to myself, because I don't care, these people have the cheese! Go inside, again, the blinking orientation, go to the right, and there are now triple the amount of people out shopping I've encountered thus far, all of whom are just milling about in the produce/deli area. Find the cheese, buy three packages of it. I will only need one & a half? But I'm not going through this again anytime soon. Think to myself I am exceptionally clever, and go to pay for my cheese at the salad bar, where, much to my chagrin, three old people have decided it is the PERFECT place to stop with their carts and catch up with each other, seeing as how they haven't been in touch for about thirty years. But I am the kasseri ninja. I do not care. I am bobbing and weaving behind another driven shopper, and within five minutes I'm out of there.

My nail place opened a half-hour early, and the best employee there greeted me when I walked in. (She's awesome, she spends loads of time on the massage part.) I read my book, got my toes done, got my fingers done, picked up some yummy Chinese & now am making homemade french bread to go with my kasseri appetizer. We're going over to my good friend Beth's house tonight, for dinner & fun; I expect Miss Amy will be beside herself what with Santa coming tonight.

Oh, and after all that, maybe you want to know what to do with Kasseri cheese, and why this quest in the first place? Well, this dish was one of my dad's most favorite things in the world. It's quite easy. You just take a glass pie plate (or similar sized baking dish), and fill it with coarsely chopped (or grated) kasseri cheese. Then you put some minced garlic on the cheese (more or less to suit your Transylvanian taste buds), sprinkle with oregano leaves, and the juice from about half a lemon. Put it under the broiler in the oven until the cheese has gotten a golden brown & serve with sliced (preferably fresh) french bread. Be warned: let the cheese cool a bit or else you'll have a "pizza burn" on the roof of your mouth. Listen to the experienced one who usually can't wait because it smells so good. In looking online, it seems like this is a pretty traditional Greek recipe (they even light it on fire!); Dad got the recipe from the chef at a French restaurant they frequented, that served it as an appetizer. I can still see how his eyes would narrow with delight as he savored it.

Merry Merry Merry. May Santa bring you Kasseri, or whatever else your heart desires.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:22 PM | link |

Friday, December 22, 2006

High Anxiety

Just like the movie, I've been starring in my own high-strung screenplay for a few days now. Mel Brooks? We should meet, my friend. Actually, I think I'm calming the fuck down now. I can almost hear my dad saying it, "Jennifer! Calm the fuck down!" when I type it like that! By my best estimations, we will have eight (8) adults, two (2) teenagers, two (2) children, and two (2) dogs in our house by 8:00 this evening. I expect we'll see our first guest hit the door by 2:00. Because when you say "Come by around 3:00" in his family, that means, "Really, any time after we wake up." I have never met more showin-up-early folk in my life, god love 'em. And amusingly, I'm actually getting used to it! The first couple of years were tough, I did not understand this several-hours-early behavior and I reacted a lot like they were hitting me in the face with a ball-peen hammer. Now I've adapted, and for everyone's sake, learned to get dressed a LOT earlier.

James & I wrapped all the presents this morning, he sat at the table in his undies with our youngest niece's bike helmet on his head (still with the plastic case on it, too), butt-dancing to 80's music, and we agreed he looked exceptionally special needs. He's been on a roll, seeing how he put away five martinis last night in about an hour & a half, and was the stand-up comic for his fellow teachers and me. We were at the Melting Pot for happy hour, and while we didn't have a repeat of the crazy "You're No Stanley Kubrick", I think my husband was just as amusing. He kept promising me I could get drunk tonight. (With his family! And they won't be drunk, so wouldn't that make for a Christmas to remember?) Quite frankly, I'm not ready to take on the Bad News Hughes family for drunken holiday blogging. If you're at work today & looking for some good entertainment to eat up the minutes until (hopefully) your boss realizes absolutely nobody's working & maybe it's time to release you to the world, and stop being a Scrooge McItchyPants, then read last year's holiday recap, and hit the ones prior as well. That's a family that knows how to party.....
posted by PlazaJen, 9:18 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


We have reached the days that move slowly in the workplace. Like we are suddenly submerged in a snow globe filled with Karo syrup, and we moonwalk-bounce through the day, drifting, clockwatching, repetitively checking mail and clicking for email in hopes of discovering something new and exciting to break up the day. (Evidence: I have watched "Dick in a Box" now, um, at least 12 times, and doubled up on the Barry Gibb Talk Show and Welcome to Homelessville. Go to and SNL's page within, it's good for eating up 20 minutes with stupid humor & lots of laughs.)

My excitement today came over lunch, when a co-worker and I went to Index, in the River Market. Index is a restaurant supply store, and at one point, I rounded a corner, and an employee asked me how I was doing. I replied, "I'm having the time of my life!" And I think he thought I was being sarcastic - but I wasn't! I tried to engage my co-worker in a whisk war, because the whisk? Was four feet tall. It was the most entertaining thing to brandish. The world would be a better place if we solved our problems and differences with oversized whisks, I just know it. (God, how it would hurt to get your nose stuck between the wires though!) I bought a dozen steak knives for $12.20. (Don't worry, I'm not brandishing them. We only have a set of four, and I'm tired of hobbling together a mismatched collection of knives, some of which are meant for paring & not cutting meat, when more than four sharp cutting knives are needed at dinner.)

Then we went to the enormous Asian supermarket, and I impulsively bought some of the necessary ingredients for fresh spring rolls. Which I won't be able to make until Saturday, but that's ok, I'll have time & be on holiday break, and I won't be watching light move across the floor to mark the passage of time.
posted by PlazaJen, 4:38 PM | link |

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Voicepiece of the CDP

The new bosses are finally taking over the company, which has resulted in several changes, like new insurance that costs less, more 401k contributions, you know, BENNY FITS, and while I'd like it if they could do something about the horrific construction out front, and the drilling and pounding, which just started up again, I'll take the bennys. One of the other moves that was made? New coffee. Because morale can be measured by the quantity and quality of the beverages available in the workplace! So we've got, like, gourmet coffee now, and the Brio 250 now sits on the floor by the fridge in our breakroom, waiting to be hauled away.

The Brio 250. It was designed to make money, but they turned off the feature making you put money in it to get a beverage. It tried, like an ideal politician, to be all things to all people. Did you want extra sugar? Push a button. Vanilla Latte? Push a button. More creamer? Push a button. It also made very good hot chocolate. Me? I rarely used the thing. Several months back, I installed a small fridge under my desk & have fed my caffeinne habit by keeping multiple twelve-packs of diet soda chilled & at the ready. Any coffee was brought from home, and I still make the random cup of tea every so often.

So, with the new coffee machines and new coffee and demise of the Brio 250, so went the auto-hot-frothy-cocoa feature. And my buddy Kristin is a devotee of the hot chocolate. She lamented that the packages Swiss Miss just weren't the same, and I had recently seen a Cocoa Latte machine advertised in my Linens-N-Things mailer. (What a dumb name for the store, btw. Pretty much anyone or any brand that uses "N" as a shorthand in their name is stupid in my eyes, though. Take that, Crunch N Munch!) So I emailed our dude in charge of the money (a.k.a., the "CFO") and suggested we buy the Cocoa Latte for the cocoa drinking populace. Next thing I know, my boss (who ok'd the buy) comes thundering around shouting, "THE CDP HAS SPOKEN!" and I had permission to purchase a genuine Cocoa Latte machine for the office. As well as having coined a new term for a group of people.

I brought it in yesterday, and I think we quickly learned that you still need to upgrade your quality of drinking chocolate to improve anything. It does mix and heat and froth quite nicely, but at the end of the day, it's still a cuppa Swiss Miss, and comparatively, the Brio had a better mix. So I'm going to go to Costco & get all the ingredients to make our own homemade mix, one sugar-based, one Splenda-based, and then, hopefully, we'll have a good upgrade on the hot chocolate front. As someone who doesn't really drink hot cocoa very often, I'm honored to be the voice of the CDP, instrumental in bringing change and establishing a new benchmark for cocoa drinkers everywhere. We're rising to a new dawn with the leadership change, and it's finally happening.... one cup at a time.....
posted by PlazaJen, 10:55 AM | link |

Monday, December 18, 2006

Beer & Pizza & Justin Timberlake

Well, there's my idea of what could turn this day around. Actually, I've had quite the morning of JT-Saturday-Night-Live skits via the YouTube & The "D*** In A Box" sketch has had most of our office reeling with laughter. Of course, I had to dig out Omeletteville, and then another co-worker had never seen the Chronic(What?)cles of Narnia, so I've done an excellent job of avoidance and gotten my fill of web-based SNL entertainment.

Pizza Hut. Bringing me Xmas tidings from my mortal nemeses, what with the fucking burglars writing ANOTHER check. I hate these people. I want to punch them in the face. I want to smother their mouths and noses with hot burning cheese (from a pizza). Mother Fuckers. And mother FUCK the police, who don't seem to give a rat's ass about the riff-raff of the earth having pizza parties on my paper. Yeah.

I'm going to listen to Weezer all afternoon, get my monthly massage at the end of the day, and go home and hit the sauce. I think we can officially declare that the holidays are upon us.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:42 PM | link |

Friday, December 15, 2006

I've Become A 65-Year-Old Woman Overnight

So, I am out of touch with the Youth of Today. I know this, yet I still cling to a belief that I still know what the Youths are Into.

I'm going to defend myself by first saying that I recently watched all the final season episodes of The Wire. And if you watch this show, you know that part of the storyline revolves around The Corners, where drugs are sold, and you hear in the background people calling out the new, hip name of whatever they're calling the latest shipment of crack, or meth, or whatever in hell it is they're selling, like "Pandemic! Pandemic!"

Yeah. And on my way to work the past couple weeks, I've seen these signs, the Do-It-Yourself signs, with a Sharpie scrawl and a phone number? Often times used for "Work From Home, Make A Million!" or "Weight Loss With Hoodia!" Those signs? Parked along the parkway, and they said "T.M.X. ELMO" and a phone number.

And I thought "What in the hell is that? T? M? X?" And I decided perhaps it was a new drug. I know what Elmos is, but I thought perhaps it was a twist, a play on our assumptions & sensibilities, like a tablet that makes you warm, fuzzy & rocketing high as a kite. It wasn't until I saw a news report with an Elmo doll pounding the floor with laughter that the light bulb went off.

My senior years are gonna be AWESOME. Just keep me away from the phone.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:43 AM | link |

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wound Up

I've been told by two separate people in the past two days that I'm wound up. One of these peeps was my hubby, so it's probably true. However, I like to think of it as returning, a bit, to my erratic, nutjob self that's been swimming in the tarpits of grief for the better part of the year.

It's so difficult to explain, how you go from being happy to crying your makeup off in 0.4 seconds. This is what happened in my brain yesterday morning, as I was putting on my makeup:

I need to make that cherry-chocolate biscotti this weekend. That would be good to give to some people as little presents next week.
I should make at least a double batch.
(Visualizes my Kitchen-Aid mixer)
Man, if I had that super big Kitchen-Aid mixer, I could do a triple batch all at once.
J.Wo wouldn't think a new mixer's a good idea.
I don't use the mixer I have enough to justify that.
What would I even do with the old mixer if I bought a new one? (See how I just skimmed right on past why I shouldn't get one? It's like being on ice skates.)
Oh, I couldn't get rid of that old mixer. Dad gave me that when he bought Mom the big one for Christmas that year.

And then I remembered that moment, when Mom opened her gift, and she looked at him, and he turned to me and said, "Go look under the counter, you get that one." I raced to the kitchen and opened the door - and he had snuck a bow onto that mixer in between dinner cleanup and gift opening, and even as I type this, it's like being punched in the jaw, reeling, seeing his face, just how much he loved to give presents, how he loved to delight, how he enjoyed the shock and surprise of something so unexpected.

And I felt the knife twist, that little sharp reminder that I'd never see him again, or that smile, and that I'd thought Christmas wouldn't be a big deal, but what the hell do I know? Not much. The tears slide, taking off makeup as they run their course.

So I started this post with how I'm wound up, and it's true. I contain my moments of grief, I feel them fully, oh so fully, I turn to my husband who would gladly buy me 100 Kitchen Aid mixers if it meant it would take away this sadness, and I crumple into his arms. And then I brush myself off, wipe away my tears, put on my mascara, and get squirrely and mouthy and brassy and sharp and funny and do my job and knit and love and even bake cookies. I want to invent a new language, because when I say, or hear, "it gets better", better doesn't mean what it used to mean. Better means it's more manageable, not forgotten or easy or non-stop happy. And I know that I don't even understand or know what it's going to mean in another six months. I do feel like I'm living my life differently. And I'm happy that my four poster dull torpor is lifting. I enjoy being wound up, more than ever....
posted by PlazaJen, 10:10 AM | link |

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rambunctious X 2 = Crazy

Yin & Yang

The Dirty Rotten Kitty (in focus, while the dogs aren't) got a workout. They tugged-o-war, played & Gracie went to work on the tag, shredding it bite after bite after bite. She's something of a seam ripper, that one.

My Entire Weekend Looked Like This.

Gracie got some gnawing in on her end as well - though Polly initiated most of it.

Narm! NARM!

For the most part, Suzy was non-plussed.

AND this is how Suzy looks. Weary.

This is how Gracie looks, almost always. So Sad. Poor little matchstick dog.

This is how she looks, all the time

Aaaaand this is how Polly looks, almost always. Ready to parrrr-tay! Unless she's insanely jealous, which happened every time Li'l G came over to get pets.

And this is how SHE looks all the time.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:56 AM | link |

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Fun-Filled Weekend But Not So Much For Suzy

Driving in to work today reminded me of a Halloween graveyard scene - misty and overcast, stark leafless trees silhouetted against the gray sky. I brought in a bunch of Carrot Cookies, with a few held back for the Wo, and they were pretty well devoured. The switch from an orange glaze to an orange cream cheese frosting was a smart move.

I'm going to upload the photos tonight, but suffice it to say, dog-sitting Miss Gracie was a fun adventure. Polly could not believe her luck, to have a like-minded playmate who wanted to party and play with toys, every waking minute. Three dogs are funny, because you watch the whole pack behavior take over, and fortunately for all of us, Miss G is not particularly interested in being the Alpha, or even really anything but the Omega, so Suzy maintained her role as Top Dog, and then Polly spent a lot of time knocking Gracie onto her back in the yard. In the house, they played with Dirty Rotten Kitty and with each other, lots of paw action, and they would get pretty rambunctious. Quite possibly the funniest moment of the entire weekend was when Suzy had enough of their antics, and she stood up from her pillow, took two steps towards them and bellowed a disapproving "WOOF!" They chilled for a minute or two, then went back to carousing, and she did it again. I could barely see, I was laughing so hard. Like she was grouchy yelling, COME ON, you young 'uns, I'm tryin' to sleep.

To give myself some peace, our dogs went out to their kennel for parts of the days, and that's when Miss Gracie was her calm self, and quite possibly the sweetest dog I've ever met. I dubbed her "She Who Will Be Stepped On", because she's always right at your feet, usually behind you. She just wants petting, some love, to nap, and then to watch TV. I've never seen a dog watch TV like Gracie. We watched a lot of Law & Order, and I figured it was good to teach her about Justice. We also watched Million Dollar Baby, which was so good, but so sad. I think Polly & Gracie were only interested in the boxing techniques....

As a thank-you, Miss Kristin gave me a gorgeous skein of yarn - I'll get a pic of that as well. Lots to do tonight - tune in tomorrow for photos!
posted by PlazaJen, 10:26 AM | link |

Friday, December 08, 2006

Going Crazy In A Hurry.

Between the icy chill in our offices, and the fact I need to make 72 cookies tonight, and the Large Project I've been working on having the due date extended, I pretty much am set to GO! NUTS! NOW! No snarky remarks about verbs and do I really need to go, aren't I already there? Now is not a time to trivialize the crazy.

It's two weeks until we celebrate Christmas with the Wo's side of the family. Two teenagers to buy for, and everyone says, "OH just get them a gift card" and when I hear that, it makes me want to get out the recipe for decorative inedible bread and whip them up a French loaf, each, because while I love gift cards, they have their place, and I'm sorry, but being a teenager and allllll you-know, distraught about being downtrodden and misunderstood, well, that just goes hand-in-glove with getting weird shit from your crazy aunt & uncle, or whatever we are to them, I think they're technically JWo's cousins, but the age difference allows me to elevate our status.

You know what? There's just not enough good pictures of inedible, decorative bread on the internet. A dearth, as it were. If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, imagine if you will taking the time to make something that LOOKS like homemade bread, but you shellac it and it's decorative! My mother made a whole big bunch when I was um, 6 or 7, and even then, I thought, Huh. This is rather stupid, because WE CAN'T EAT IT. But, then again, it was 1975. I did learn, however, in my internet searching (via the Google, is there any other way?) that Iowa, which does not have a sales tax on food, DOES tax inedible decorative gourds.

I think we're giving the girl various foo-foo girly products, and the boy? I think he's getting a large can of cashews. Because one year, the first year I started to really feel some footing in this family, at Christmas, said boy was rooting through a large can of Chex Mix, and PICKING OUT ALL THE CASHEWS, and it was like my father was right there inside me, and sparks flew out my eyes and my hair stood on end, and I actually ordered him to STOP IT RIGHT NOW. (The super exciting part of that story was the fact he actually listened to me and stopped it.) So maybe a big ol' can of cashews would be kind of funny. At least I know he'll eat them. Perhaps if I had more time, I could hone my skills on inedible lifelike cashew replicas..... hah!

See what I mean? Crazy. It came. It stayed. It may not leave until January....
posted by PlazaJen, 4:17 PM | link |

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Just A Small Obsession.

I have always been completely captivated by Helen Mirren. From the first time I saw her as Jane Tennison in "Prime Suspect" on PBS, I've always held this part in me that wants to just emulate the hell out of her. My friend Shelley has the same rapture for Dame Judy Densch; maybe it's something about regal British actresses that resonates.

She's edgy, uncompromising, incredibly talented, and flies in the face of traditional, conservative views on women, especially those who are older than 25. I've always been drawn to those women as my mentors - I used to tell people I wanted to be Madeleine Kahn when I grew up, but then she died, and it didn't feel quite as aspirational. So I've switched to Catherine O'Hara, because everything she's done with Christopher Guest has left me helpless with laughter & admiration. But I think, if I could be British and a little less funny, I'd be Helen Mirren in a heartbeat.

The recent (and last) Prime Suspect just aired on our local PBS station, and in my desire to record it on our DVR, I didn't realize we have like, three different PBS stations on the high digital cable, and one of them only broadcasts between 6a and 6p. But it still shows up with available programming, so I basically recorded two hours of an informational screen telling me when they ARE on-air. Lovely. And that was it - the repeats were the same night, in the overnights, and I completely missed the second half, with explanations and conclusions and of course, loads of Helen Mirren. Pissed is an understatement, except for the tempering factor that it's TELEVISION. You know me. I don't just flop down, I emailed our local PBS station and told them I wanted to see it, explained my error, and when was it going to run? Well, they were nice & wrote back, but with bad news, that they weren't going to be re-running it, but I could maybe buy the DVD from the national store. HaRRUMPH. Jane Tennison wouldn't bother with that. She'd smoke some fags, drink some vodka, heat up a frozen meal and tell them to piss off & go shag themselves. So I just set it aside in my head, and figured it would show up eventually on Netflix.

Today, I got another email from the lady at PBS, telling me they were going to be re-airing the whole thing in February, complete with dates & times! It's great news, but it's even nicer that she emailed me again, given that I probably sounded a bit wonky in the first place. And she'd be right. But she'd best say it in a lovely British accent.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:04 PM | link |

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Have Eight Million Orts & I'm Not Afraid To Use Them.

1. I have never been so cold at work in my life. I used to keep my office temperature on par with a meatlocker at the old job? But I enjoyed it. Reveled in it. For some reason, this winter at the office has become the Winter of No Heat, and my toes are cold (somewhat normal) - but my fingers were icicles. By the time I got home Monday night, the only way I could get warm was to wrap myself up in the oversized Einstein, and crawl under two hand-knit blankets while wearing hand-knit wool socks. This worked so well I woke up with sweat in my ears. Lovely.

2. I am enraptured with this tea. It's a special holiday blend, and it's so yummy - cloves and cinnamon and fruit. Kristin gets the catalog & they sent her a sample - she gave it to me & I was hooked!

3. I have spikes of anxiety & paranoia that, in a nutshell, are not charming. I can't wait until I wear my pajamas to the grocery store and wear a bird's nest for a hat.

4. There's been some recent insider-biz news & gossip about a certain key executive at a major retailer and it's just been SALACIOUS! And delicious. And amusing. And probably really enraging for a former employer, because she was instrumental in the business leaving their company. Karma! It can be so lovely!

5. I have tried to give "The Office" another go. Everyone at work watches it & raves, and are always suprised to hear I don't watch it. So I taped last week, and I will say, the scene where Michael stands up and becomes "Prison Mike" and starts berating all the employees and telling them how good they have it, and how much better the office is than prison? I turned to Wo and said "It's actually not that dissimilar to speeches we got from (Boss Name) at (Last Job)."

6. Polly's going to host a slumber party this weekend with a certain golden retriever puppy, and I'm sure they're going to run up the phone bill, braid each other's hair, and give each other tips on how to perform end-runs around their parents. I'm also sure they will wear each other out, or maybe that's just me hoping.

7. We have a mouse living under the basement stairs, and I don't care how Harry Potter that is, he's gotta go.

Well, there you go. It's a start. 7,999,993 orts to go.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:01 AM | link |

Monday, December 04, 2006

For Example, One Time I Gave Myself A Perm.

I have noticed, in the few flashbulb "pop" moments when I actually take the time to observe myself, that I tend to shy away from being alone in public. Not so much with the shopping, that I tend to do like a pro, and it's much easier (and less embarassing) to run with an arm outstretched, knocking down lollygaggers at CostCo, by myself. However, I took myself to lunch today, along with my book, and I'm always surprised by how much - and how rarely - I go out to eat by myself. Maybe twice in the past year. I tend to do take-out, and sit at my desk, or on the couch at home, with my friends Internet or Telebision keeping me company & entertained.

It got me to thinking today, just how much more I went out by myself when I was in my 20's. Probably part of it was hoping that if I went to Muddy's coffeehouse frequently enough, perhaps Tommy Lee Jones would wander in and find himself inextricably drawn to the bookish, yet undeniably captivating, chubby girl in the corner. I also look back on the things I did alone and marvel that I didn't get snapped up by a serial killer - though fat people are seriously MUCH harder to kidnap and drag into cars. I think my alone-ness un-doing happened when I lived in St. Louis, because most of that time I spent there was alone, ALL THE TIME. I went out with people from work, yeah, and had parties, but when I think about my life when I lived there, I think of how alone, and lonely, I was. Part of it was being depressed, but part of it was a function of that city, and it's social structure - they're big on being from there, and what high school you attended, and it's really got a lot to offer as a city? Including like, a totally wacked out murder rate now, but that aside, it's got wonderful food and museums and the zoo, and yes, even the people can be nice, but they don't want to EMBRACE you, the way we do here in Kansas City. People here want to bear hug you like your drunken uncle at Christmas.

All of that aside, sometimes it's dangerous to leave me alone. For instance, last night, I began to believe that the house was going to blow up, from the gas line. Now, there wasn't any evidence there was a gas leak or anything, but we did have some strange noises and rumbles and whumping, and really, in the end, all I could conclude was: Gas Line. Polly didn't help by looking all alert and worried. And then there was the time my parents went out to dinner, and I was bored, so I gave myself a perm. Yep! (That was awful. Really bad results. I do not ever recommend home perming, and without another pair of hands to roll those curlers on the back of your head, I can guarantee you: Dreadful.) But I think I do like going to a restaurant, taking a book and sitting down & having people fill my water glass & bring me food. You become kind of invisible, as I could hear the murmurs and conversations around me. But it's a comfortable kind of invisible, not the kind I lived in St. Louis. I could have sat there all afternoon.....
posted by PlazaJen, 1:04 PM | link |

Saturday, December 02, 2006

If Sadness, Then Tears.

I'm in the coziest pajamas I own - light blue polar fleece - and it's noon. Yeah. That's what Saturdays were meant to be. I have a big pot of turkey 'n' noodles simmering on the stove, knitting in the big chair, and I put a holiday wreath on the door this morning. I'm going to do the tree tomorrow, during the Chiefs game. This means most of the ornaments are going to end up on the side of the tree that allows me to see the tv.... and then there will be the ones that are flung when I yell.
I'm heading out to do some of my shopping early in the morning - the idea of going out right now makes me want to go lie down - and then we should be pretty well set for the family get-together we're hosting for James' family in two weeks.

I wasn't going to decorate (again) this year. For whatever reason, it sort of wears me out, the idea of spending all that time to create something pretty & then tear it down three weeks later. I suppose I could leave everything up through May, that might make it feel more worthwhile.. heh.... Usually by the second week of January, it Must! Come! Down! if not sooner than that. But, since we're hosting, we need to make it festive, and, it's probably going to be a little therapeutic, because doing nothing at all would have felt a little - mournful. Like I was avoiding the whole thing. People have said things to me, out of concern, worried that the holidays will be hard, tough, unbearable, whatever. The highlighting of the "holidays" always catches me by surprise. Every day is tough. Every day is hard. Except now, and just now, as in yesterday, I had a day where it seemed like I'd forgotten to put on my grieving cloak. And of course I felt a wave of residual guilt, because our grief is such a handy measure, a universal ruler by which we illustrate to ourselves and the rest of the world "This Is How Much I Loved Him." But in that minute, which began when my mind started and realized I'd just been Plain Happy and not thought about him, or felt the now-so-familiar sadness that wraps around me, I realized that this is how it's supposed to go. This is not a clear, plowed, paved road. The grieving cloak never leaves us, but we eventually don't wear it 24 hours a day. This is a herky-jerky ever-changing path, that sometimes feels like you're racing down a mountain in the dark, tripping and branches hitting you in the face, and then suddenly you're in a clearing, bright light & birds, and then you're not again. And I suppose that seeing families gather, and exchanging cards and gifts, and the absence of that happening with my dad, that does create a formula that is visible to everyone, a logic problem that at the end says, this will be hard. It's just hard to explain to those who mean so well, that far too often, it's a random trigger, and some days are easier and some days are hard and some days are dreadful and now, some mornings, are more like they used to be, before he died. The hospice nurse said, the night he died, that I would always have this point in my life, when he was alive, and when he was dead. I see that point, a linear continuum with that horrible black dot and I measure my feelings and actions against either side of that point.

He loved logic so, and I aced the logic classes I took in college, because they were lovely puzzles. We never talked about the fact I took those classes to please him. To show him I was his daughter. I was terribly proud of how well I did, because I knew it made him proud. If A then B. If B then C. Tildes, arrows, supersets. Their lines and relationships diagrammed one conclusion, or even multiple conclusions, but always with a universal truth, a clear line of reasoning. Validation. If A then B. Grief is the most anti-logical thing I have encountered in my life. It is not a subject to be aced. But at night, I feel my brain trying to diagram it. If A. If B. Where is C? There is no C. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. There were no maybes in the logic I studied. Only universal truths. Mine is how much I loved him.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:00 PM | link |

Friday, December 01, 2006

Put On Your Seatbelts, I'm On A Roll.....

I have been ornery since lunch yesterday. I don't mean cranky, or petulant, or nothin' like that, just good plain Eddie Haskell ornery, which translates into mostly entertaining with a pinch of kinda scary.

Four of us went to lunch yesterday, utilizing some trade dollars that had been given to a co-worker. Two guys, two girls. Three of us ordered fancy-schmancy entrees, because we had $100 to spend. For instance, I got the Walleye Pike with Yellow Coconut Curry sauce. $14. I inquired as to what it came with, and was told "a side of vegetables." Let's talk about how small this Walleye was. It must have been just released from the hatchery when it was caught. The piece of meat was no bigger than the palm of my hand. And flat as a pancake, because if someone gave me say, a shark or tuna steak the size of my palm, I'd be in heaven, since those are normally a couple inches thick. The side of vegetables was three stalks of aspargus, artfully arranged to fill in some of the voluminous blank space that was my plate. WTF? The guys had ordered crabcakes and scallops. Correction. CrabCAKE. As in the singular. Also with three stalks of asparagus. The scallops? Three. Three Wee Scallops. Balanced, of course, by three stalks of asparagus. I could not stop laughing. The other person had gotten a sandwich, and it was the size of a loaf of bread. With a scoop of fries on the side. Enormous. The contrast was hilarious, especially because our meals all cost between $14-$17, and her sandwich was $8. In an effort to spend all the dollars, we then ordered desserts, and they were dreadful. The spiced creme brulee? Consistency of paste. I kept uttering the word, "Glutinous!" between my fits of laughter. The cranberry cheesecake? Uh, hi, cranberries require at least a modicum of SUGAR added to them. Our first bites had all of us recoiling with fish faces and squinted eyes, because the tartness was unbelievable. And after all that, we still didn't go to Wendy's. I was totally jonesing for some chili and a baked potato. Instead, I had stomach cramps all afternoon, and was relieved to get home to that big pile of turkey.

So we got some snow. About 10" by our house, and I've been living an Ode to Mimi the Murano the past two days - AWD? I love it. Holy Toledo. Though I stated quite loudly last night that I'm not one of those asshole SUV drivers, because I still creep slowly along and keep loads of distance between myself & the drivers around me. And anyway. The insurance classifies her as a WAGON. But I have felt infinitely safer in this sloppy weather, so thank you Mimi.

Then this morning, I walk into the lobby of our building, and there are about 10 men in winter clothing sitting around, apparently waiting to move furniture in upstairs. They all look at me. It could be my natural beauty, or it could be the black Russian-styled rabbit-fur hat I was wearing. Kristin said perhaps they thought I was a Russian Princess. All I know is that they started talking (English) and saying something, and laughing kind of suggestively, and I have NO IDEA what they were saying. So I just smiled and swept past them with all the presence of a princess. To be greeted by the statement, "You need to control your department, they're trying to burn the place down."

Apparently, a certain someone named Kristin was sending me an email. And her power strip started sparking & attempting to die via self-immolation. The stench was horrific. You might think, oh, it was a really old power strip? So it was just time? But I have a different theory. She was sending me an email, saying that I should look for this under my Christmas tree this year:

Jesus, send me some salvation. This is courtesy of our friends over at Berroco, and I'm not linking to them because if you are going to create a pattern THIS HIDEOUS that requires not only time spent knitting, but knitting a lot, because this ugly mo-fo's FELTED, then you don't deserve linkage. Hi, and let's talk about how this taps right in to everything I was warned about as a child. Don't walk with your hands in your pockets. Don't run with scissors. Don't PUT YOUR FEET INTO A CONJOINED COMPARTMENT because what if there's a fire? Or the phone rings? Or the house alarm is set off at 5:30 in the morning? You instinctively would leap to your feet, and KABLAM! Down like a sack of potatoes, felled by your own handiwork. You might even break your nose.

I have a feeling the orneryness is going to continue. Y'all have been warned. Read at your own risk.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:19 AM | link |