Monday, September 19, 2005

September is a birthday month

First, I'd like to say "Joanna, I did not forget your birthday. I just haven't done anything about it that YOU can see. But a few days...voila!"

This really is a birthday month. My little brother, Jess, celebrated his 28th (I think) birthday on September 2. For most of August I thought about what I could send him. My mom mentioned that consumable goods would be most welcomed. Cans of tuna fish, cup-o-noodles and the like. Cup-o-noodles? Apparantly, the army food is so bad (What a surprise. What a cliche.) that dehydrated noodles and specs that resemble vegetable colors is considered highly prized gourmet cuisine. Great. I was going to be super fancy and get him some heat and serve presereved meals from Trader Joe's--they sell a not so bad dahl and other similar foods in foil packages. Shawn and I took some with us when we went camping, a few years back, and they were pretty good. Better than the freeze dried "camper's food" from REI.

September 2 came and went, so did the rest of September. I'd been to TJ's a few times, just to get a few essentials, like that damned greek yogurt that Ali turned me onto last time I visited her. Heaven to the taste buds, sigh. I was always in such a rush that I would leave without any items to send to Jess; I'd shop for him later, plenty of time. Today, as anyone can see by reading the date, is September 19. I have yet to mail anything to him, let alone a letter. However, I finally did buy him a gift to mail with a letter that I will write, before Wednesday. I panicked when I bought it. I know that he requested that we not send items that he'll have to take home (if he they let him come home when he's supposed to, in late fall.) but I was in a hurry and I have to mail this before I leave on my trip. Besides, I made excuses to myself, he'll like this. It'll be hours of entertainment. He's very interested in drawing and art and maybe even this genre of comic book. If he's not into it, yet, he will be!! Now, I have to call my mom and get that military address that forwards stuff to him. I have to call her every time I have a letter to mail, because I can never find that scrap of paper I wrote it down on. By calling my mother, I am openly admitting to her that I did not mail him something in time for his actual birthday.

Birthday number two belongs to Joanna. September 17. We've been friends since we were freshmen at Moon Valley. We had p.e. together. That is a very bonding experience. I'm only a couple of days behind on that one. Besides, I bought her a funny little gift before Saturday. I just haven't sent it.

Dana's birthday was yesterday, the 18th. Once September begins, that date is a constant in my thoughts. What would she be doing now? How old would she be? Where would she be living? She'd be a full on adult, by now. Possibly with a job or a husband or even a family. It's as if I think I have something to do--did I forget to turn off the oven?--and yet, I know that I didn't forget anything. There is no action to be taken, no gift to buy, phonecall to make. By the time the 18th actually comes along, I'm unprepared. I write the date on a sales receipt and am overwhelmed by the weightiness of those numbers. 9-18. I miss my little sister. It is as impossible to concieve of her absence, now, as it was when she died. It is bewildering that I can't call her to wish her a happy birthday. An incomplete sensation, like a kinesthtic reflex that is no longer necessary. I say "Happy Birthday, Dana." to the air, to the molecules that buzz around because that must be where she is now--or rather, where I like to think she is. A part of the Universe, of the air that we all breathe.

Friday, September 16, 2005

5, or 6, days until Espana!!!

Depending upon how you count. See, I wouldn't count today since it's mostly over and I don't count the actual day that we leave. Which makes it 5 days. Hurrah!!! I can't wait to put on the bikini and slather my Seattle white skin with spf 30 sunscreen and lay out on da beach! Or by the pool. I'm not really a lay out on the beach or by the pool kind of a gal, so we'll see how that works out. I've never done so in Europe--maybe it's more fun if it's a Spanish beach? Thank goodness for books, huh? And our group will have two cars, which means that if some of us, or just me, doesn't want to toast in the surf and sand, then some of us can do something else... Wanna see where we're living for two weeks? It's purty durn nice, I tell you what....

Speaking of books...what will I bring to read on this trip? I'm such a geek because I actually agonize over what that perfect reading material will be. I'm going to be in Spain. We have plans to go to a bullfight. What about Hemingway, you might ask. Well, yes. That is the obvious choice and I truly love Papa, but (isn't there always a "but"?) I want to read some stories I haven't already read on our excursion. My friend, Adam, recommended this one, and I have been thinking about this one, too, except that I own it in hard cover and that's kind of bulky when you're trying to pack light. Shawn and I talked about bringing one of my all time favorite books to read together, since he's never read it and I love it so much that I'm just looking for any excuse to read it again and again and again. (And we're goofy enough to like to read aloud to one another.) Doesn't solve the issue of what I will bring for myself. For the plane rides, I definitely like to have the easy, leave-it-at-the-hotel-apartment-airport-when-I'm-done, novel. She's good for this, as is she. Easy to digest and a little thrilling, too. Yum. However, for the duration, the relaxing by the pool/on the beach option...well, I'm still stuck.

I'll take suggestions. I'm a sucker for the classics, too. Perhaps I can bring one classic and one contemporary? Ah-ha. I think I'm onto something.

My knowledge of current fiction is woefully slight, because I have what I would call a natural suspicion of any books recommended by Oprah (though I absolutely applaud her efforts to make reading books fun and cool and an every day part of the culture. Keep it up, Oprah!) or the New York Times best seller lists. Or by people that used to work in the same cubicle row that I worked in way back when I worked for a corporation of cubicles. Not to be trusted. They liked this book. Need I say more? (Okay, I didn't read the whole thing. I skimmed it. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to mock this book, that I'd actually, at the very least, perused it. My mom read the whole thing and gave me the gist of what I might have missed because I didn't read every single word. I trust my mom. She has good book sense.) I look to good friends to tell me great reads of "new" books. And then I think, "but I haven't read such and such or so and so and they're in the CANON!!!!!!" Yes. The canon. Can't you hear the Orffian choir in the background when you think about it? The reverence that I carry for this man made entity leaves me frozen with indecision, often as not, when it comes to choosing a book. Sad or no, I am someone who is impressed by that kind of institution. I have a reading list from high school, books that most colleges assume you have or will read by the time you graduate. I look at lists like that and get all giddy and my heart rate goes up and my palms get sweaty. Which of those books have I already read? Omigosh! Which ones have I neglected? How could I have missed that one!!!! I like to check them off. This is one of those embarrassing secrets we try not to tell to anyone, as it will most likely be used against me later. Once, I downloaded a recommended reading list from some website that talks about literary theory. Can't even remember what it was or why I was looking at it, or even where that list went. I just recall feeling a slightly crazed excitement when I saw the list--there were titles on there that I hadn't seen before! What can I say? I like to get all of those literary references that really smart people talk about. It's more fun to actually know--for me, it is--than to nod and smile and pretend that I know. (Come on. You've done it, you know you have.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Today, Apple is not my friend

I just spent the last thirty minutes reading 40 or so Ipod Mini complaints on Apple’s website. Very disheartening and frustrating, as I have one of those mini’s and am experiencing the crackling static distorted sounds that were the subject of aforementioned complaints. And what are we left to do? Suck it up, basically. And, since the mini is basically obsolete, having been replaced with the Nano…well, it smacks of abandonment and underhanded business tactics. Why would I be surprised? This is, after all, Corporate America, where unaccountability is encouraged and rewarded.

The solution to the problem with my mini is to buy a new Ipod, or send it in for a $200 fix. Ummm…gee, that seems fair…puh-leeze! Stinky poopy heads at Apple. They should be ashamed. Really.

Oh, yes, I’m a sucker. Because of course I want to buy the new Nano, it is so small and cute and slick-sleek; and i would most definitely get the black one. Am I such an idiot to consider purchasing a product by a company who doesn't give a hoot about the flawed product I bought from them over a year ago? There is no need to answer that--I'll do it for you. Yes. I don’t have any extra funds, which is probably a very good thing, and will keep me from making a totally ridiculous impulsive purchase since I’m annoyed almost daily with my mini. Crackle, crackle, snap, crackle, smack, clear sounds. That’s the routine. If I give the click wheel a tap, it usually stops, until it is bumped again, at which time I give it another tap. grrrrrrrrrrrr…..What’s a girl to do? I completely buy into Apple’s marketing. I do. I admit it freely. DESPITE the crap with the mini. It is no wonder that companies get away with their sneaky, often unethical practices. We’re all suckers.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

If I leave my Xbox on all night, is it going to blow up?

O the important things in life, no? Ugh.

Yesterday, at work, I received a phone call. It wasn’t for me, personally, it was for whomever happened to answer the phone, being the only person there, that fell to me.

“Hi. You don’t know me, but my name is _____ _____, and I’m a victim of Hurricane Katrina.”

Pause. The inner cynic is quick to awaken. Is this going to be a scam asking for money? What am I supposed to say?

“Hi. Oh. I’m sorry for your—how are you?”

“I’m in Texas and I’m trying to find a job. I’m wondering if y’all are hiring.”

I splutter for a second, because I want to be kind and also honest—honest = no job.

“Well, we’re a very small store and we are fully staffed. However, if you are able to fax or e-mail or mail a resume, I’m sure the owner would be happy to see it.” I feel completely stupid. “Sometimes we need someone to fill in, and it’s possible that if you meet with her, and you’re a fit for the shop, we might call you in once in a while?”

“I’ve already given you my resume.”

“Ummmm…well, how long ago?”

“Five years ago.”

“Oh, errr…uh, we wouldn’t have it anymore. Can you send us a new one?”

It goes on like this for about ten more minutes; she explained how she would be perfect for our store and how she’d be coming to Seattle, because that’s where her husband’s family live. The whole time I am awash with guilt, and then irritation at my guilt and then confusion. What am I supposed to say to this woman? Because she’s had a major upheaval and tragedy in her life I feel, suddenly, responsible to her to help and yet it’s not my position to hire people, we are fully staffed, besides dealing with a slow economy in a business that pretty much relies on people feeling like they can splurge. Not to mention the fact that we really would need to meet with her and see if this is the kind of job for her. It was awkward and sad and I felt like such a heel by the time we’d hung up.

Like many people, I watch the devastation on television, read about it in the newspapers and online articles and shake my head for lack of anything to say. What can I say? Screw you FEMA? Nice work leeching the funding for levy improvement? Bush is completely out of touch with the country, I told you so? Yes. I can say all of those things, and no, it doesn’t make me feel any better. As if I’m the one who needs to feel better. Gross. Nothing like a horrific tragedy to remind one how small one is…sitting over here, on the opposite side of the states, I feel relief that my family members are all safe. “Thank goodness Jess is over in Iraq and not on some special field training in Louisiana. Phew!” (He was, once, before he got shipped out to Iraq, again.) “Good thing Holly is in Florida where they get an immediate disaster relief response to hurricanes, just in case a big one should hit there, I mean.”

Here’s my favorite photo op, thus far. Can we all say “gross”?

Monday, September 05, 2005

A few linnets later...

Happy Labor Day! Since I am at work, I thought I'd take a little break and labor at the google image option. Here are the fruits born from my intensive research...different linnets!

This one is a Yemen Linnet. Purty.

A popular name for ships, apparantly...

Someone in Great Britain made this from scratch.


This wasn't my birthday, and it sure looks like it was a fun one! Maybe someone will make me a pretty birthday sign this year? Any takers? Anyone?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Karma Chameloen II, sigh

I’m still on the Karma question.  I guess it’s not a proper noun, though, so I don’t have to capitalize it.  Only, it’s one of those words, like “Time” when used by poets of yesteryear and Shakespeare.  Well, since it’s such a hot topic for me, and since I’m completely obsessed with it today, it’s getting the capital “K” treatment.  

I have more to add, because I had the good fortune to talk to a Buddhist about Karma, yesterday afternoon.  Someone I met, recently, who I didn’t know was a Buddhist.  It just hadn’t come up.  He agreed with my assessment on the whole “Karma’s a bitch” deal.  And, more importantly, reminded me that what occurs in this lifetime is the Karmic happenings of your actions in your past lifetime(s), the one(s) that you don’t remember.  


This made me cry.  It makes me cry, now; and if I can’t get past it is going to become yet another ugly monster of despair for me to wallow in whenever I am feeling particularly blue or wronged in life.  

I started to think about my family.  The death of my little sister, Dana.  The Jerkiness of my Father.  My little brother over in Iraq.  These painful, scary events in our lives—according to my new-ish understanding of reincarnation and all the Karma that goes with it, we actually did something to warrant these events.  What horrific act did we participate in to have to lose such a lovely, vibrant sister?  It’s overwhelming and I haven’t the writerly skills to express what a heavy burden I felt, feel, contemplating the possibilities of this.  

The Buddhist also reminded me--and I haven’t been able to get to this point, yet—that the purpose of this life is not to dwell on what wrongs you may have committed in the past, but to live your life in such a way as to not cause harm to others or yourself.  And to do this because you want to, not because you think it’ll make it better for you later.  Tragedy is to be embraced.  (I wish I could recall his words, exactly, because he put it very well.)  You embrace it because it is an opportunity for you to learn and grow from the experience, meanwhile not discounting the grieving or the difficulty of the tragedy.  

This is all very general, I know.  I probably shouldn’t even be writing about it, because I might be giving a misconstrued impression.  I don’t fully understand this system of beliefs.  I know very little of it.  I don’t even know if I subscribe to it.  I can understand how non productive it is to go around feeling responsible for Dana’s death in a Karmic sense.  A downward spiral that can only lead to ugliness, really.  Dana knew we loved her.  And, if she’s a spirit somewhere, or another being or just dust particles in the atmosphere, she knows we love her and miss her.    

For my family I wish us goodness and love.  It seems like we’re on the right path—except that Father guy, he done gone wrong—and perhaps in our next life together, we will bring this goodness and love with us and it will expand beyond us forever into every life after.  


I’m trying out this new way of writing my blog…on Microsoft word. I think this’ll be better for, me, since my computer keyboard has a mind of it’s own and decides when and where certain keys will function. The nice folks over at Dell told me that I probably have some kind of virus that infected my keyboard and the only way to fix it is to return my computer to the days of it’s birth. Or, rather, to wipe out all memory of anything it’s accumulated since I first got it. That’s a lot of music files that I don’t think I’ll be able to recoup. Not worth it. I’d rather wait it out and buy a new Imac—though that’s probably a year, or so, down the road.