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High heels too!

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Bob has WHAT?

It's been a long month at work, since the start of the Legislative session. I've had a headache on-and-off since last Friday. It's indoor allergies and stress and not eating right and all that jazz. Thus, I've not been posting much around here, but I could not resist telling this story, courtesy of a coworker.   My coworker, W., has a daughter who's in 6th grade. Apparently the teacher was doing a "having fun with alliteration" project, and the kids had to make up a fun alliterative sentence and illustrate it. W.'s daughter was doing something like "Cool California cats cook chewy chocolate chip cookies." An impressive alliterative string, and rather Kerouac-esque, if you ask me. I asked W. if the cats were wearing little berets and playing bongos as the cookies cooked.   But I digress. W. told me that her daughter told her about a a friend's sentence, which was about "Big bald Bob." W. said she looked at her daughter and said: "What was that?" W. looked at my face, and started laughing, because I had taken it the same way that she had (for she's a perv too). We thought it was about "Big-balled Bob." I said I was picturing a 6th-grader's drawing of some guy with a wheelbarrow in front of him so his scrotal sac could ride on it.   Gah, I'd hate to be the teacher in that class, trying to keep a straight face when that one was read out loud.

valentina

valentina

 

I blog, therefore I am

I am a word etymology geek, and of course, any sort of "where did that world come from?" question sends me off in search of its origins. In this case:   Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English- Main Entry: blog Part of Speech: n Definition: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called [Weblog], [Web log] Example: Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author. Etymology: shortened form of Weblog Usage: blog, blogged, blogging v, blogger n   ______________________________   I admit, I was really down on blogging a couple of years ago, if only because the few blogs I'd run across were the most self-aggrandizing, nauseating pieces of crap I'd ever read. I realize now that the source I'd used to come across them led me to some very unsatisfying blogs. (A much different forum, I won't get into that right now, that's another entry in itself!)   Then I started reading political blogs, especially after watching a discussion on C-SPAN where a number of print media journalists were lamenting the demise of the newspaper as a source of true investigative journalism. The reason they most often cited for that demise was the proliferation of chain newspapers that functioned to reflect the views of the corporate ownership. One of the panelists was the woman who started the political humor-commentary blog Wonkette. Some of the more traditional print journalism panelists were dissing blogers because they lack the editorial control of journalistic ethics, and she retorted that when traditional journalism simply wouldn't look at the hard topics, investigate issues or print the controversial stories, blogs were stepping in to fill that void. And indeed, more and more serious journalists are running their own blogs these days, to the point that they're e-zines. I appreciate that a lot.   Since Wonkette is essentially a political humor blog, I started reading a few more general humor and commentary blogs, just because some of those people make me laugh like crazy. And my local newspaper makes me laugh, but only inadvertantly, and only because they are so hick and pathetic. Good blogs takes things to a higher denominator, and I feel like I'm actually a part of the world again.   So this brings me to writing in my own blog space, which I started mainly for the jollies of it. I saw it as writing practice, if nothing else -- I had no idea what I'd write about. But really, I tend to have a lot of stories. I see my life as an endless series of odd stories and observations, and I share the better ones. (Well, not all of them, but at least some of them.) Sometimes I get a little Zen or a little angsty, but that's human nature. And often, issues and problems take on a greater shape and clarity when one writes about them; the mere act of writing can help end the spinning-in-the-head that too often occurs if we just mull over things without setting them to print.   I think reading each other's stories gives perspective to our own stories. I have friends who know me well, who see me a lot, who have certain expectations of me, and who sometimes do not look at me with fresh eyes. (Not in that "fresh" way, for any of you perverts out there! Oh, oops, hold it...I'm the pervert! ) So many of you give me a fresh perspective, either from your own entries, or through comments on my blogs. Sometimes you are a realilty check that I just can't get from my friends. Hopefully now and then (when I'm not carrying on about underwear, high heels, BPAL or dreams of George Clooney), I give you a different perspective that might also serve as a reality check.   I think our reasons for blogging are as varied and nuanced as we are, and it only adds to the tapestry of our lives. All of you make my life so much more interesting, and for that I am most thankful.

valentina

valentina

 

Of crazy jobs and heavenly scents

I've been really busy at work. I'm tired. I go to bed late, because I'm such a damn night owl, but lately I've been waking up at 3 in the morning and don't get back to sleep for an hour. Then at 5:30 the cat comes meowing his little cat butt off, asking to be fed. I put him on the bed and then he stands on me, kneading his paws on my chest. Oh, how relaxing. Then I got to work and run on pure adrenaline for 8+ hours. No wonder I can always lose weight in the legislative session.   So it was such a rush when I came home yesterday and found my Lab order. I ordered another bottle of teh Smut, Chintamani-Dhupa, Swadinapatika, Vasakasajja and Bakeneko. Filgree Shadow already has my bottle of Vasa heading her way, because my body blew up the orchid in that one and 'gree is a vasa junkie! And bless her, she swapped me for the Bakeneko, because I ADORE that scent. Holy crap, I've never had a lunacy that I liked, much less loved. Swadinapatika is nice, it gets nicer after I wear it for an hour, even better after two hours. I think I should wear it on days that the little asshole wakes me up at 5:30, because if I put it on really early in the morning, it would be to its gorgeous mellow level by the time I got to work. I have Chintamani-Dhupa on my sales thread right now, but if no one buys it tonight, I'm taking it down. I don't adore it, but I don't dislike it. And Smut, I love teh Smut. Needed another bottle, but I don't wear Smut in the winter. The pure holy musk can be a bit much for me right now.   My yoga teacher always says this, and it's very true, the brain needs to be scrambled and stimulated every now and then to keep on top of its game. When I meditated last night, I was as quiet as I'd been in a long time. Lately, my brain has been whirling a lot when I meditate, because work can be an obsession this time of year. I can't let it drop. But I swear, what stilled me last night was that I'd spent all evening sniffing and testing BPAL. For the people to test BPAL a lot, you know it's a very sensual and analytical process, all at the same time. You're kicking your senses into overdrive, but your brain is trying to decipher what you're smelling. Last night, it was what the doctor ordered, because it kicked my brain out of those old thought patterns and into something entirely new. How fabulous.   So I'm off to meditate and to then attempt to get ready for bed and to find slumber early (ha!) and to dream sweet-smelling dreams. And if the damn cat wakes me up at 5:30 again, you know I'll be wearing Svadhinaopatika tomorrow!

valentina

valentina

 

'80's video nostalgia

Thanks to YouTube, I can now find 1980's music videos to see if they were as good as I recalled. I always loved this one. In fact, it drove me crazy. And it still does! (Sorry for the primitive link, my operating system here at work doesn't let me use the link function.)   BTW, while this video aired at all hours of the day on MTV, I don't consider it entirely work-safe if your screen is exposed to interlopers.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjYuPAC6-lo

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Fishnets, quiet time and George Clooney

I was out trying to buy a pair of black tights yesterday and couldn't find them where I was shopping (sold out, I guess), so I bought a pair of black fishnet tights. Practical, huh? No, she never did believe in having the big wedding with the while lace gown, but by god, let's get fishnet stockings because they're there.   I think I might wear them tomorrow. I have this retro-style black skirt that begs for a pair of fishnets. Everything else will be black and white and muted, and the fishnets will be the wee little touch. Well, probably more than a wee little touch, maybe a serious jab in the ribs, but who cares... I'm a fiscal analyst, for hell's sake, no one expects it. It messes them up.   You know, people ask me to go to lunch with them (as did the lobbyist a couple of weeks ago), and I really don't like to go to lunch with other people. It's one of my least-favorite things to do on my lunch hour. I would so prefer to go to my nice little bohemian coffeehouse hang-out and get an hour of quiet time before I re-enter the fray. My inner introvert needs to be cared and nurtured, especially when my workplace is a zoo. I know going to lunch is "networking," but gah, most of the time it's just bullshitting while you feed your face. It wears me out.   I suppose if I didn't wear fishnet stockings, people might not be so inclined to try to figure out what the hell I was all about, but I can't let go of all of my personality for the sake of being left alone. I told someone not that long ago that I'd probably dress like a churchmouse this year during the session, and I guess I lied. Actually, I was being a bit sardonic when I said that, but I think they believed me.   And why is it, when the legislative session starts, several of my close acquaintances get needy? As in, really needy? I won't bore you with the stories, but it happens EVERY damn year -- the session starts and they start calling me or emailing me a lot or even stopping in my office to see if I have time to listen to godknowswhat. And it always starts with "I know you're busy, but..." The "but" should be followed with "I WANT ATTENTION! AND I WANT IT NOW!!!" It's not -- it's followed with whatever semi-crisis or love affair they want to tell me about in utmost detail. Gracious. My friend and coworker Scott suggested I hang up a sign that says: "I AM NOT the wailing wall."   I am not a callous bitch. If it were a bona fide emergency or major life event, I'm there for people. But their annual job review that always goes well, or the new girlfriend, or generally noodling around about your philosophy of life are not emergencies.   In a total non sequitur, I had a dream Sunday morning that I'd given birth to a baby but I'd forgotten about it and gone off to a marching band rehearsal. Then I remembered: George Clooney was the dad! I'd go over to the dream interpretation thread on the forum and ask them what they hell they thought that meant, but I think I'd be booed off!

valentina

valentina

 

White lace

There's a end-of-season sale extravaganza going on at the shopping mall not too far from where I live, so I had to stop by long enough to see if there were any really great shoes or boots on sale in my favorite shoe department. The answer was, of course not. The serious shoe and boot sales start in February. I am still delighted about those $150 Diesel boots that I got for under $20 a couple of years ago; I always attempt to equal the experience, but have yet to do so.   Anyway, I found a parking place and thought that the fastest way into the mall would be through the David's Bridal store. I've never been in a David's Bridal before, and I wasn't aware that this place didn't have an opening into the rest of the mall. As a result, I wandered through the store and its various viewing and fitting venues before leaving in horror through the door that I used to enter. I am absolutely convinced that drag queens should be hired by bridal shops to help prepare young females for the absolutely intricate selection and fitting process that seems to surround either wedding or prom attire. Drag queen can work it, and some of the females that I saw today needed a lot of encouragement to work it. Why not get tips from the masters?   I'm only half-kidding, but I know a lot of the ladies that I saw today would bristle at the notion of a gay cross-dresser helping them cross the street if both of their legs were broken, much less getting clothing and style tips from them.   Not to run down anyone's prom or wedding experiences, because if you wanted to work it up big-time, more power to you. I tend to be the kind of person who will get all done up because I'm having fun putting together quite the little get-up, or because part of my job is working it and creating my "you can look, but don't even think of coming near me" aura.   And maybe that's what disturbed me about today -- most of the females I saw trying on gowns or formals weren't wearing styles right for their bodies and they looked miserable and unhappy. It should be fun, they should be snappin' and happy, and instead they just looked sick. A nice drag queen doing a happy squee when a hesitant young lady emerged from the dressing room would do so much good!   And in the end, is everything being so ornate and perfect and more gorgeous than imagined on that one day going to make the rest of your life together better? Of course not. I can be so pragmatic sometimes, but for whatever reason, my dreams never did involve ornate weddings, much to the relief of my father.

valentina

valentina

 

From the other side

And now a missive from the other side of my personality: I decided today, because I was wearing my fuchsia and purple zebra print panties, that the other people in my office should get newer and better underwear. Why, you ask? Because they're all into some form of mass hysteria as their presentations draw near, and I find their tension to be relatively counterproductive, since if you walk in the room nervous and insecure, you only hurt yourself. But if they had better underwear, they would value it and love it and not want to get their panties (or knickers) in such a big, giant knot.   OK, bad joke. I was somewhat resigned to having a bad experience when I walked in the room, and low expectations are sometimes a blessing. I came into work on Sunday to prepare for the presentation. I can appreciate their anxiety, but I don't appreciate them being in my face all day about how scared they are. My bosses really got into their heads in a big way.   But life is good when you can come home, drink a glass of wine, eat some pasta with smoked salmon flaked over the top (with olive oil, garlic and good parmesan), freshly-made French bread (a great new bakery close to my house!) and then drink a cup of really great coffee afterwards. And to make it better yet, you have fuchsia and purple zebra print panties covering your bum. What else is there?   Well, plenty. I want many, many things that I can't have or I won't get, but if I truly get my knickers in a big, huge knot, it should be over something really fun. Gotta remember that one!!!

valentina

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In perspective

I'm in relative slacker mode for a few days here at work. Woot! I've been a bit nose-to-the-grindstone for over a month now, and when I hit this point, I can breathe again. In accordance with my relative leisure, and the fact that I'm not going to wear a power suit if I don't have to do a presentation, I'm wearing a long-sleeved, longish black top with a skirt that has a black and brown Indian print, with a few gold sequins scattered about. Even with the sequins, the skirt is rather understated. And I'm wearing my black corset-lace boots. I'm wearing Mme. Moriarty, since my ensemble seemed a bit like a Misfortune Teller outfit.   Right before the New Year, and continuing into the month of January, I've been doing a brief Ganesha mantra at the start of my meditation each night. Silently. I'm not into chanting out loud, although I love to listen to chanting. If you aren't into Hindu deities, Ganesha is the elephant-headed man -- Ganesha was the subject of the amazingly beautiful BPTP Lotus Moon t-shirt. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and the god of new beginnings. He also represents wisdom, learning and humility. I think he's a wonderful creature, whether you believe in him as an actual living, breathing diety or as a symbol that inspires you to use your own wisdom and learning to overcome obstacles (within and outside of yourself) and recognize avenues for auspicious new beginnings. And even then, to retain a sense of humility about the process. An elephant-sized order, but a good one.   I suppose my biggest task is to not overthink the entire matter. That probably invokes the humility factor, because I simply can't will things to be so, nor can I control inner guidance. You have to let it happen, you never know when it will arrive, you never know what it will be, but you have to be ready to listen to it. You just never know, and that is the hardest thing of all for me. In comparison, it's a piece of cake for me to walk into a briefing session armed with all sorts of information, because then I am able to say that I know the answer, or I know where to find the answer. To ask, to wait, and to not know about things that are much, much larger is truly humbling.   OM Sri Ganeshaya Namah. There are bigger things than this little place where I work.

valentina

valentina

 

To be nobody but yourself

I need to get my booty in gear and do something that has a time deadline on it, but I wanted to say thank you again for all the words of encouragement about my presenation. And I'd like to report that my presentation went just fine yesterday. No non sequiturs, just lots of good questions and good discussion. I was happy. It took a long time because there were several people learning how the process works, but that was fine. I don't mind that.   What I did mind was how management of my office tried to deliberately frighten staff into believing that this was going to be the second ring of hell, and unlike anything we've previously experienced. They are so out of touch with what their staff are able to do, and they always assume we're the most incompetent boobs on the planet. I believe what's going on here is what the psychologists call "projection."   My boss, in fact, informed me yesterday morning that he was tired and frazzled and wouldn't be able to help me much at all during the presentation. The reason? A pipe had frozen at his house the day before. It was unfrozen and all was well, but his wife was upset that they'd had to drill a hole in the new basement drywall and her anxiety had ruined his life. Now really, WTF? And just because his wife is high maintenance does not mean that he should return the favor with his staff! If I had walked in and swooned over my basement drywall, and said I couldn't possibly do my presentation, he would have told me to put on my big girl panties and get busy. So when my presentation was going well, he kept jumping in trying to participate and get attention. I do forget, it is All About Him.   And the cold hard fact that I forget over every interim, is one that I have to relearn every year: If you're a female in the environment where I work, and you're not a needy wreck who requires propping up, and you're reasonably decent to look at, you will be run down at every possible opportunity. Insecure men love strong men, insecure men hate competent women. This fact is true all over the place, and it's just a matter of degree. I know there are many places that are much worse, if only because my bosses are too lazy to really make trouble for me -- they just try to run me down in subtle ways. They manage by fear, and that's a game that cowards play.   I listened to T-Rex on the way to work. I'm wearing Snake Oil and my burgundy patent leather boots. The assholes don't get me down, because underneath it all, I'm entirely too weird for this place and they'll never figure me out.   For everyone who has at some time felt what I'm describing today, and that would be most of you, here's one of my favorite quotes, from E.E. Cummings:   To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.

valentina

valentina

 

Working on a Sunday?

Being as busy as I am at work is a good thing, to a certain extent, but here I am, in at work on Sunday. And what am I doing? Writing in my BPAL blog? ARGH BLARG! Actually, I'm basically finished with what I arrived to do, but I'm considering cleaning off my desk just a bit and then leaving.   And what am I doing here on Sunday? I am the lead-off batter in the entire staff presentation process on Tuesday. This happens every year that there's a new and/or difficult committee to work with -- I get to go in first and be raked over the coals. I get to have everyone who doesn't really understand how the process works ask me 50 trillion questions and generally bitch about how they can't find out what's going on. Never mind that they want me to know more than most of the people who run the agencies I'll be talking about. It's the general naive nature of newly-elected legislative officials who think they're going to change the world. There's term limits in my state and almost half the legislature turned over last year, so experienced folks are few and far between. And my boss picks me to twist slowly in the wind, every year.   I know it's because I'm somewhat less (externally) sensitive than other people in the office, I don't pout, whine and mince around about thing, I tend to not be as pedantic in my presentations as some of the other staff, and I'm no Angelina Jolie, but I'm probably more into presentation of my entire self than some of the other staff. I also think my boss really gets off on putting me through the mill, so he can tell everyone else how horribly my presentation went. So I'm in trying to prepare as best as possible, but I know I'll get asked a lot of non sequitur questions that I can't answer. I detest this part of my job.   Last week one of the fatcat lobbyists came in and asked me to go to lunch with him, I still can't figure out what he wanted, he claimed it was just social in nature. He is fun to talk to and I get a giggle out of his observations. I was getting somewhat disconcerted that he'd take pains to walk behind me and then he confessed that he liked to smell my perfume. And what was I wearing? Snake Oil, of course! You don't go to lunch with a lobbyist and not wear Snake Oil. It may become my signature scent for the session, although the one day that I wore Mme. Moriarty, she got an extreme reaction from someone. Since they're in the same "family," I'm not sure most people can tell them apart. I love them equally.   I went a little batshit on the update and ordered way more than I intended. What did I get? Bakeneko, Svadhinaopatika, Vasakasajja, Chintamani-Dhupa and Smut. I know Smut will work, but I already have a bottle-and-a-half of Smut 2006, but how could I not order another bottle? And the others... well, we'll see. They sound lovely. I love Lupercalia, but then my forum name is valentina, after all.   I'm going to shovel off my desk. I hope all of you are well, and staying warm if you're somewhere where it's cold.

valentina

valentina

 

Back in the saddle again!

(Of course, when I say "back in the saddle again," Steven Tyler's voice goes through my head...)   I don't really hide the fact that I work for a legislature, and today is the first day of the new legislative session. It will run until June. Anyone who reads this page will no doubt hear more about it than you will care to stomach. You will celebrate the end of it as much as I will. However, I'll try to keep a good attitude as long as possible, although I've already started it on a snippy, but personally meaningful note.   I was beginning my dressing ritual, which during the session, is a much more conniving process than the rest of the year. I tend to create a bit of an image that serves as an armor. There's a few people, mainly my friends, who see through it, but I can even fool some of my friends. The administrative support staff in the office get intimidated by me during the session, which always dismays and amuses me.   Last year's armor was some very nice pant suits, which I will of course continue to wear this year. The new additions to my armor include slightly above-the-knee pencil skirts, to be worn with very simple, long-sleeved tops. I have on such an ensemble today. Along with The Boots. The Boots are a new acquisition, and are black, knee-high faux suede boots, aprox. 3 inch narrow heels, pointy toes, and they have corset-style lacing up the back. From the front, I'm one thing, from the back, I'm another. The lobbyists will notice them, the senators won't. And in honor of the lobbyists re-entering the building in droves, I'm wearing Snake Oil as my fragrance. The choice was between Mme. Moriarty and Snake Oil, and I just didn't want to wear the Misfortune Teller the first day of the session. The Madame can be trotted out the second day.   I also have on my new red jasper pendant, which goes with my red jasper ring. I wear the ring all the time. I purchased it in late November because I felt I needed a ring with a red stone to provide some grounding energy. People are very attracted to it, but also a little intimidated by it. So of course, I had to wear the red jasper pendant on the first day to ward off whatever demons may approach. I am only half-kidding. This year I'm feeling very aware of the energy that some of these people (the politicians and the lobbyists) create, and I know what I want to avoid.   Today also marks the first day of the rest of my obsession, which is a really long story that I'm not going to tell. (How coy of me, I know.) Suffice it to say that a process of mine in a 12-year obsession is over. It makes me sad, and part of my recent red jasper wearing is to ground myself so I can move beyond that process. I'm not sure the obsession is over, but I know a certain process is over. That's as clear as I'm going to get.   But rather than be wistful about the end of something, I'll endeavor to remember that on New Year's Day, it occurred to me (out of the blue, while working out) that we can all grow our own power to whatever level we want, and we need take back seat to no one else's. While I work in a place where supposedly "powerful" people move about, political power is only one sort of power, and I sometimes think a rather pathetic sort of false power. Getting elected to an office is a way that some people use to create their own power, because they're so needy that they don't know how to back off and find the power in their own center. Certainly, there's a few elected officials who aren't that way -- they either ran for office out of a true sense of public service and dignity (rare), or they found something inside of themselves while they were serving. I've seen that happen, and it's always very nice to watch.   So let the madness begin, I have my look on and I'm really starting to think that most of them are completely full of shit. But I'll do my very small part to try to contribute something useful to the process. My my heart really isn't in it, not at all.

valentina

valentina

 

Cornhole! Warning: Contains graphic imagery

You read all about it, here it is in graphic detail... just the usual goings-on around my house. Ella Bean gets busy on Mugzy: CORNHOLE!!!!     I know the photo development folks see it all, but methinks they had to wonder, just a bit. However, it may have been a welcome, if slightly odd, break from all the Christmas photo shoots.

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Holiday Zen

I'm still really busy at work and I seem to take time to comment on blogs but never write in my own, because I seem to thing that I have to write a lot. Why is that? Well, it's not going to happen today... I just want to put up a couple of quotes that are on my page-a-day Zen calendar.   The first one puts the Christmas frenzy in perspective:   "Our lives are lived in intense and anxious struggle, in a swirl of speed and aggression, in competing, grasping, possessing, and achieving, forever burdening ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations." -- Sogyal Rinpoche   Actually, that also sounds exactly like my workplace is like when the legislature is in session, and oh oops, that begins January 3. ArGh BlArGh!!   The second one is a reminder that you find the sacred in the mundane, and I do love it when Jesus goes Zen on us:   "Lift the stone and you will find me; cleave the wood and I am there." -- Jesus

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Solstice and clairsentience

Yeah, well, hey... I haven't written here in a while. I had to really buckle down to work at my job and something had to go, so meandering around on the internet was one of them. In addition, my winter solstice mood has been coming on, and that's not really a bad thing. When the days get shorter, I start getting quieter and more contemplative. I think it's reasonable behavior for a North American mammal. I see so much really bad behavior this time of the year that reminds me a lot of how animals in captivity act if you jam them into too small a space and don't give them enough food. Seriously -- you can go to a mall and see that sort behavior being acted out all over. I haven't seen anyone chewing on another shopper's ear, literally, but I've seen figurative versions of it in the tiny little forays that I've made out into the retail realm.   So no, I haven't been spending my time at the mall. I just completed some shopping online on Saturday. The internet is quite the blessing for the semi-hibernating North American shopping mammal. Except don't try eBay; you get into online captive behavior there.   Have any of you experienced what could be called clairsentience? It's the perception of energy fields through physical sensations. Scientific-rational types consider it hooey, because it's not a regularly occurring measurable phenomenon, but since our nervous systems send out energetic impulses are measured all the time with machines, I can't really understand why they think the human body isn't able to detect external impulses on its own. Any everyone has this ability, it just depends on how open or closed off to it we happen to be.   I'm just asking because it happens to me, and I think there's a lot of cool stories out there that most people won't talk about, lest they be considered "weird." And what I think is weird that that we can't acknowledge or talk about it without being seen as spooky. I was reading the New York Times yesterday, and being the incurable romantic that I am, I was looking at the weekly Sunday feature about a couple who had just gotten married. The woman in the couple featured yesterday said that during their second or third date, she felt a strong pang in her chest and she knew that something very special was happening between the two of them. How cool! There are so many people who would say she just had indigestion or an anxiety attack, and I get so tired of that "it's only..." blow-off to any mystical or emotional reading of a physical clue.   I do know that there are people who get those responses and then cut and run from whatever made them feel that way, because they find it scary and it makes them feel insecure. There is nothing spooky about it to me, it's a part of being human and having fully-functioning senses. There's a lot of mystery to it, but that's what makes it so remarkable. And because you never know when it's going to happen, you can't sit around and watch for it, which makes it even better.   So if you have stories, tell them... I'm listening!

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Stevie Nicks on satellite radio

I have my satellite radio in my car and it is such a novel experience for me, because I'm used to playing CDs all the time and generally controlling what I listen to. I have all my presets so I can move around if a station that I'm on is playing something that I don't like. But today, at noon, it was like a train wreck. I wanted so badly to change channels but something was keeping me there. Before the signal came over the radio, the digital read-out was telling me "Stevie Nicks." Then I was "treated" to Stevie playing the piano and talking in this dreamy-stoned-stream-of-consciousness way about Rhiannon, what a beautiful name, and how she loved her story, oh Rhiannon, the name, the story...and then the music rose a bit and she began to sing "Rhiannon rings like a bell in the night..." but all I could hear was "baaaaah-baaaah-baaaah." The woman bleats like a goat. I swear the reason she wears those long floaty dresses and big-ass platforms (even when they weren't in style) is to cover up her cloven hooves. (Hmmm... french manicured hooves?)   So then I did switch channels, because vomiting and driving just don't go hand-in-hand. If I have a bitch about Sirius, it's that whoever is doing their music blends gets into a rut and they play the same stinking people ad nauseum on any number of channels. For instance, for the last two weeks, Dave Matthews and Coldplay were getting flat worn-out. Now they're on a kick where if they can find an excuse to play Bob Dylan or Springsteen, they will. It is wearisome. I switch to jazz or electronica when that happens.   I also get a kick out of the Met Opera channel, especially when they're playing the ending of an opera, and the announcer is talking about what's happening on stage during the curtain call, describing the costumes, what the audience is doing, and all that festive stuff. It reminds me of listening to golf when they're broadcasting from the actual green that the players are on, and they're whispering "and now, for a birdie on the 16th hole..." I don't think they do that anymore when golf is on TV, do they? The announcers are in a remote truck somewhere? It's not like I watch a lot of golf. Maybe they do it even if they are in a remote truck, because it's just fun to whisper melodramatically.   If they did a wrap-up of a Stevie Nicks concert over the radio, the announcers would be saying: "And now, the audience that actually purchased tickets to see Ms. Nicks are standing and applauding, and their companions who came along as part of their martial obligation or who simply lost a bet are removing their ear plugs. Ah, Ms. Nicks bows again, and oh, now a lovely, lovely curtsy with her long flowing gown, oh my, her mammoth platform shoe just ripped a piece of her dress! Oh well, no one will notice on that tattered hemline anyway. Oh, and how lovely, how dramatic! Now the goat-herding Australian Shepherds and Border Collies are escorting Ms. Nicks from the stage..."   Oh, that was just too mean. I did see Fleetwood Mac in concert once because the guy I was dating got free tickets, and I was never so bored in my life as when Stevie was on stage doing her Welsh-witch ballerina swirling around bullshit. I think we left before the concert was over, because it did make me want to go drink beer and listen to the blues at The Zoo Bar. If anyone is a fan of Ms. Nicks, sorry, but that faux witchy woman behavior always drove me crazy. If she'd just gone with the California hippie chick all hopped up on coke image, I would have a lot more respect for her.

valentina

valentina

 

Secret Santa thoughts, already

In my office, we draw names for the holiday Secret Santas. It's a small office, we know each other well, and we like to be creative in our endeavors. Several years ago, the two support staff in the office decided that we shouldn't have just one day of Secret Santa, we should have stockings and 5 days of Secret Santa gifting. This was met with great reluctance by the professional staff, as we're typically very busy in December. However, over the years it has evolved into a process that is much-loved by the professional staff, and the support staff would like to end it. (insert sadistic laugh here ) It seems that a number of people become fond of the notion that there could be a week of gift themes, some seriously clever hide-and-seek games that include notes and clues, wicked funny gag gifts, and general opportunities for creativity, giving someone shit or just good humor. And in all of it, we're really pretty nice to each other. We had a gift limit that used to be at $10, then went to $15, and has inched closer to $20 in recent years. We don't really eat out as a group or shell out money to buy gifts the rest of the year, so we take this in stride. The support staff has come to hate the expenditures (even though they are paid more than entry level professionals), the time and the effort involved to keep up. Too bad. We like our little reindeer games.   Last year I drew my troublesome, loud, insane co-worker's name. She fancies herself as a bit of a foodie, and when she sent out her "hints for Santa" email -- something else we all do, which is a bit of a creative writing and/or humor opportunity -- mentioned that she always wants things for the kitchen. I gave her small, polite items 3 out of the 5 days, with the intention being to throw people off of my trail. Usually the over-the-top gifts that include notes and gags are instantly blamed on me. (Why? ) But her last two gifts did go over the top, and of course, she DIDN'T GET THE JOKES.   The first one addressed her tendency to rant and rave at people rather harshly, especially people outside of this office. I gave her a citrus reamer and a tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. An accompanying note said something about now she had both the tool and the remedy when she wanted to ream someone's ass, but then felt guilty afterwards. She didn't get the humor. She was happy to have a reamer, but was mainly mystified as to what she would do with a tube of Butt Paste. (This is diaper rash ointment, BTW.) I did catch a number of other staff people huddled in other corners of the office, laughing about the gift and talking about how she truly didn't get it.   For the final day's gift, I was able to secure, at T.J. Maxx, a piece of cutlery at an astonishingly cheap price. The item was a 6 inch stiff boning knife by the A.B. Dick company. The note on her stocking said: "Pardon me, but are you having a Merry Christmas, or is that a 6 inch boner in your stocking?" On the package, another note said: "Santa heard you'd like a stiff Dick for Christmas." She was befuddled by the jokes but elated to get some cutlery. Everyone knew it was either me or my coworker Scott who had her name, since we're the only two who would risk her ire by leaving such notes. Scott high-fived me when he realized it really was me who had her name; he enjoyed the jokes the most, except maybe for the guy that my coworker always "flirts" with by hollering his name and sticking her tits in his face. He nearly peed his pants when he read the stiff dick note. She kept saying to him: "But no, look at this boner!" And he'd laugh harder. And then she'd say: "Have you ever heard of the A.B. Dick company? I hadn't." And he'd laugh even more. He had to leave.   So this year I have Scott's name. He's getting little things from me for the first part of the week -- fun little things that he'll like, but I'm saving most of my money for an item that I'm bidding on in eBay. I hope I can get it for a good price. If I lose this auction, there's plenty of others out there. Scott is a Gen-X'er, but his musical tastes tend to be Boomerish, and he loves Led Zepplin. Most of all, Jimmy Page. And I introduce you to the Jimmy Page action figure: http://wizarduniverse.stores.yahoo.net/feb063823.html (Sorry, the hyperlink doesn't work on this computer)   He will absolutely die. He will freaking love it. This is what I love about eBay, doing a search for Jimmy Page items resulted in this little gem. I am so excited.

valentina

valentina

 

Moussaka, myrrh and maturity

I made moussaka for dinner tonight and it was yummy. I can't eat lamb unless it's ground up and heavily spiced (I don't like the way it smells), so normally if lamb is served at my house, it's because I'm cooking Greek or Indian. For a white woman in Nebraska, I tend to do better at ethnic than whitebread meat-n-taters-midwestern.   I am re-testing La Petit Mort and I have determined that myrrh is my nemesis. It goes powdery on me every time, damnit! I am also going to try something that has ylang-ylang in a different combination. I've always assumed that I didn't like it, but I'm beginning to think in another blend, it might work. This last order of mine -- 13 and an imp pack -- wasn't one of my greater success stories. I'm glad that I ordered imps and not bottles! But BPAL, when it works, really works. I went to Omaha yesterday to buy some Arcana soap at Magical Omaha, and I picked up some of their scents for a friend. The owner gave me a bunch of Arcana samples, and they don't work on my picky body chemistry. None of them. But like I said, when a BPAL works on me, it's beyond glorious, and I'll take that any day.   I think that men are somewhat predictable creatures, especially the ones in my general age range, probably because I've simply been dealing with them for so long. But younger guys, I don't get them. There's the young guy at work (25 or 26) who very earnestly flirts with me, although we all know he's just a little poonhound. The senator he works for isn't much better, so my friend Ron and I call the young staffer "little dog" and his boss "big dog." Little dog has been emailing me lately, just being friendly and chatty, but his notes read like he's using a thesaurus for every other word. He's trying really hard, it is kind of sweet and I'll give him credit -- he's a bright guy, and I think he likes having a conversation about something more than drinking beer and watching football. I'm good practice for him, because some day he's going to meet a smart woman in his age range who can have conversations about things he talks about when he visits with me. I think he's afraid to show younger women his more intellectual and artistic side, and that's sad.   Then there's a guy who works at the health club I go to; he's the weekend front desk person. I think he's a grad student, so he's early 20-ish. His parents are professors, he's really smart, kind of chunky-but-cute, very friendly. Or, I should say, he was very friendly -- he spent a ton of time talking to me a few weeks ago and was trying to get me to take tai chi at the club. He already does tai chi, but wanted to try a different instructor, since he'd never taken from the guy who teaches at the club. I'd taken a session with this instructor, and while the guy knows his stuff and is very nice, he is almost incomprehensible as a teacher. Anyway, the front desk guy and I got into a big discussion about eastern disciplines and I gave him the name of my yoga teacher and told him to call her if he ever wanted to drop in on one of her classes. I told him I just didn't have time to add a tai chi class to my schedule. All was fine until about two weeks ago -- now he won't look at me, just types in my member number when I give it to him, halfway rolls his eyes at me when I walk through, and acts like it's a relief to see me leave. I want to say, "Pardon me sweetie, but WTF?" All I've ever done was be polite to him and chat with him a little bit. Christ, I'm old enough to be his mother, maybe he figured that out, but there's no need to act so strangely.   But you know, maybe he's nuts, or maybe he now has a girlfriend, so he's rather immaturely blowing off everyone that he used to get attention. It's really sad -- sometimes I think my intentions can be misinterpreted simply because I try to treat people as actual human beings. I work around the legislature and I'm fairly immune to being treated as a cog in the machine, as a means to an end, but there are times when a thank-you would have been nice, and then there are the times when a thank-you or a simple acknowledgement meant everything in the world. So I try to be genuinely cordial and polite to people; that's all. Everyone deserves that much, and it is a goal of every day of my life, although I forget about it entirely too often.   I was telling a friend the other day, I read things that I wrote when I was much younger and think they are alarmingly rational, considering what an interpersonal pinhead I used to be. It would be OK to be physically younger and cuter again, but hell, it's true -- I'd never go back to being younger because never again do I want to be that much of an emotional retard. Nor would I want to return to dealing with younger guys who were even bigger 'tards than me. Not that as people age, they necessarily mature emotionally, but a few do, and damn, they come as a relief.   All of you who are young and self-aware, you're pretty amazing. There's quite a few of you on the forum, showing you are smart about more things than how to smell really, really good.

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valentina

 

Very random. Very, very random.

I got my CnS on Friday for my order of 13 and a set of imps. And then the Lunacy/Anniversary update arrived later on that night, and what to do, what to do? Actually, I'm not in as much of a quandary as some people, all of you lucky/unlucky ones who are able to wear a lot of different fragrances. (I say lucky because you get to wear a lot of different things, but it's unlucky for your bank account.) I'm still more jazzed about the new GC scents that showed up in the Halloweenie update, Mania, Horreur Sympathatique and Love Lies Bleeding -- they're in the imp pack. And I've also never tried Misk U, La Petite Mort or Nosferatu, so they're rounding out the six pack o' imps. I just know a GC bottle order is going to emerge from that set of imps.   For the sake of my bank account, and maybe my sanity, I feel rather fortunate that the GC scents seem to be my favorites and LEs don't tempt me that much. Except for the Lupercalia update last year, the LE releases usually don't work that well on me. I'll be interested to see if the release for Valentine's Day LE scents will be as wonderful for me as last year's. (I suppose it makes sense for someone with a forum name of valentina, huh?) And usually by the time that update arrives, I am ready to indulge myself -- it's the dead of winter, holidays are over, I'm in the midst of the legislative session. Ah, fingers crossed.   The election is tomorrow, and it's about time. I'm sure anyone here in the U.S. is probably sick of all the political ads, yard signs and mailings. Tomorrow I meet friends for coffee at noon in a downtown establishment, and it is always nuts downtown over the lunch hour on election day. Usually there's different candidates for some significant political office standing on the corners of the main downtown intersection, their supporters waving signs, whooping it up,and all that nonsense. Actually, it's pretty funny to watch. I remember several years ago, I was walking down the street, and a candidate for U.S. Senate was on the corner. His wife was with him, and I wasn't really paying attention to them until I got relatively close, and I looked up and caught her giving me the most wistful, plaintive look. She looked like she wanted nothing more than to just join me and walk down the street, away from the noise and glad-handing. The life of a political spouse -- you get to be with your mate once in a while, but generally, they're always "on." People dream of being famous, but really, I think it's more of a nightmare than a dream.   And say, you of the female persuasion, do you shave your armpits? A couple of years ago, for whatever reason, I decided to let my pit hair grow unchecked, starting in November. I think I relented and shaved it in late February. By then, I'd tired of it and the novelty had worn off. I had never, ever done that in my life, and I just wanted to see how long it would get. I felt so Euro. And it didn't turn into man-like pit pelts, anyway. But it just seemed a little nasty and sexy to let it grow, since in general I'm a rather groomed creature.   So do any males shave their pits? I have a gay friend who once drove to Denver (about an 8-hour trip), checked into a motel, shaved down his entire body and dyed his brown hair plutonium blonde. Now, WTF? I never did figure out if the shaving/dying project was the reason for the drive, or he decided to do it while he was on his little road trip. I asked him if he enjoyed being a girl, and he said it was entirely too much work.   I bought a Sirius radio car kit and installed it on Saturday, proof that it's so easy that a monkey could do it. I actually felt rather accomplished and it's fun to have even more options of stuff to listen to than what I already have going on in my car. I have the presets all established: two jazz channels, one acoustic singer-songwriter music, one trance/electronica, alternative rock from the 90's, a channel with only Canadian musicians, CNN news, Talk Left (of course, no Faux "fair and balanced for me), and the Met Opera. That is what is fun about satellite radio. And if I don't like anything on the 100+ channels, I shut it off and listen to Bob Schneider, for they don't have an "All Bob" channel yet. Howard Stern, no, I don't listen to him. Nor the comedy channels. On a long roadtrip (maybe to Denver to dye my hair and wax my entire body ), I'd listen to comedy for a change of pace, but generally, music is where it's at.   It's Monday. I don't want to work, but I suppose I should get coffee and consider it.

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valentina

 

Politics in my state

Since I work around politics, you're going to have to get a bit of it today, but you'll be entertained enough, since I'm not going to go on a rant.   The 3rd Congressional district in my state is basically the western two-thirds of the state, and it can range from typically midwestern farms to very western ranches. (I don't live in that district.) It is also Republican as the day is long, but this guy is running as the Democratic candidate and he might just win. The race is so close that el presidente is actually coming to campain for the Republican candidate this weekend. This district hasn't sent a Democrat to Congress for 40+ years, I believe. There's no incumbent in this race, the retiring Congressman is the ex-football coach. Yes, I'm serious. The major newspaper in the state endorsed the Democrat, something nearly unheard of. This is an entertaining race to observe, and women statewide have been happily watching his commercials. Go to his website and see why: http://www.scottkleeb.com Even though he's a Democrat, he is a Midwestern Demo running in a conservative district, so temper your expectations if you're a blue state Demo.   But I love a good barnburner of a race with a new candidate who is creating excitement and buzz. And I really am talking about it on a political level. A lot of people aren't being so wonkish -- many women talk about him the way I talk about Bob Schneider. I do think he's inordiantely photogenic, although he's not ugly on video. (You can watch his commercials on the website.) And if you look at the photos page, notice all the hysterically giggling women wherever he goes. Some of those women probably haven't squealed like that in years. I think some women have an involuntary physical response to cowboy boots and jeans, worn very, very well. They just can't control themselves. Whatever it takes to get elected, baby! Even if he doesn't win, it's not the last of him. Anyone who can come out of nowhere as a Democrat in a district that usually gives the Republican candidate 80% of the vote isn't going to be held down.   It's stuff like this that makes me remember why I do enjoy politics. And even if you're apolitical, you can just look at the scenery.

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valentina

 

Ar-OOOO! Werewolves of London! Ar-OOOOOO!

Oh no! Fergus, the soccer hooligan, pushed LaVerna too far. Evidently she's watched too many Charles Bronson vigilante justice movies in her life, for she has utterly no remorse. Judging from his grinning death mask, Fergus was happy that he would be joining Beetlejuice's posse of the undead, and right now he's no doubt trying to get Wyonna Ryder to marry him.     Now everyone turn up Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" full-blast, and sing along!

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Ghouls, mutants and hooligans, oh my!

A few years ago, I decided that it would be fun to make odd papier mache heads for Halloween. My original notion was to make jack-o-latern heads in the style of the old German papier-mache pumpkin heads, but my mind soon went off into stranger things. I made a few almost life-sized heads of individuals, all with their own names and stories. As a friend at work told me: "I'm not sure what I find the most disturbing -- the fact that you made these utterly odd things, or the fact that you developed names and a biographies for each of them."   There's a stuffed dummy in farmer clothing sitting on the front porch at Halloween. Most of the time it has a generic head on it, but when my creations wish to have a body, they get to "head it up." Here they are, along with their stories.   Fred Frankensteer has his name because he's a cross between Fred Flintstone, Frankenstein, and a steer. An actual person was the basis for Frankensteer's creation. Frankensteer is the result of a research project carried out by an insane UNL ag institute scientist. He now lives on a farm and is frequently anxious about his life, but is too dumb to really know what to do about it. For that reason, he fits in well and votes Republican.     LaVerna is the daughter of LaVonne and Vern. She's a waitress at the local greasy spoon and is also Frankensteer's girlfriend. While she has a ring in his nose, she doesn't have his ring on her finger, thus accounting for her rather truculent demeanor. She once set a field of Frankensteer's hay on fire with her cig, but he didn't yell at her, mainly because he was too afraid she'd kick his ass.   El Cockatillo is a famed Mexican wrestler who aquired his name because his mask resembles a Cockatiel. He is also known to shriek madly for no good reason. He was driving through Nebraska on his way to visit family in the U.S., when his transmission blew out next to one of Frankensteer's farm fields. He has remained on the farm ever since, but can't figure out exactly why.   Fergus is a soccer hooligan from Scotland who was sent to Frankensteer's farm courtesy of a U.K. version of the "scared straight" program. It has been unsuccessful. Fergus takes great glee in picking on Frankensteer and then getting the snot beaten out of him by LaVerna and El Cockatillo. He proudly sports his latest shiner, courtesy of LaVerna crushing a beer can on his face.       And from everyone at my house to you, Happy Halloween!

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valentina

 

Making a roux with good intentions

A few of us in my office found out that our former coworker isn't expected to make it to 2007. He refuses to take a defeatist attitude, and while some people might call it serious denial, I've never read a story about someone who beat the odds who didn't have that positive attitude. So I think he should just go for it, and the rest of us can steady ourselves for what might happen, but in the meantime, support him in every step of his process.   One of my coworkers took him to the doctor today, and was given instructions to give a couple of us in the office thank-you hugs (both females, of course). So my coworker gave me a hug, and he told me that he later on got a waft of Snake Oil that had apparently transferred from me to his shirt. Hee! He wasn't complaining, not in the least. In fact, he said he might wear that shirt all weekend. Goofus.   So I'm making chicken and sausage gumbo this weekend and I'm packing up some for my ailing buddy. He does like Cajun food, I know that much. I wish I could brew in some get well voodoo, so maybe I'll try to hold those intentions while cooking it. I went to an aryuvedic cooking workshop once, and the teacher talked about the importance of cooking with good intentions. It can't hurt. However, if I'm making a gumbo, it's really difficult not to have sexual fantasies while making a roux. You have to stand there and stir so long, what else is there to do? I am such a perv. I will control myself. Otherwise my poor friend will call me up and tell me that he wanted to listen to Aerosmith after eating that gumbo, and damn, is that Joe Perry something else or what?   I had a PayPal balance that I didn't expect to have, so I went in tonight and spent it on the Lab. I purchased 4 GC bottles; I have a decant circle set of holiday scents coming later on, and I may order a few of them. But the PayPal balance was going to burn a hole in my brain, and I couldn't wait. I keep falling in love with GC scents, and for that, I feel fortunate. (Now watch me go berzerk for the bottle of 13 that I have on order.) But tonight I ordered The Lion; I am a Leo, how did I go so long without The Lion? I know why -- I didn't like amber until I tried BPAL, and it took me a while to work up enough courage to test BPAL amber scents. I also ordered Dragon's Milk (never tried it, but if it doesn't work on me, I know a couple of nice people on the forum who could find a wee bottle of Dragon's Milk in a surprise package), Perversion and Follow Me Boy. FMB smells great on its own, but I love layering it with Siren.   I love the sight of all of the little bottles, all lined up in a row. Damn. I am so lucky to be healthy and have a sense of smell and be able to enjoy this stuff.

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The answer is: "No."

I won't get into a long-winded explanation of who Ken Wilber is and why I find his work fascinating, but much of his work would be considered transpersonal psychology -- the study of how people grow and evolve. I get a newsletter from his organization, and they link to various articles in the media that are of interest to people intrigued by transpersonal psychology, spiral dynamics and all that stuff.   This is one that I can't resist putting up on my blog, since anyone who's read my rants about my annoying coworker will know that the article made me laugh. But it will also be useful to anyone with an annoying boss, family member, coworker, whacky neighbor, whatever... If you've ever found yourself asking, "Don't they get it?" The answer may very well be, "No." Seriously, what can you do about it, other than laugh? Besides, it hurts less than beating your head on the wall.   http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?.../18/MN73840.DTL

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valentina

 

Sweet Old World

Here's a visual for you: Last night I came home from the gym and decided to go sit in the basement and watch a bit of a Lucinda Williams "Austin City Limits" DVD with Puddin' Tom. Ella Bean and Mugzy had to accompany me, and at some point, I was sitting on the dog couch (a $5 garage sale loveseat) with Puddin' Tom across my lap and Ella Bean next to me, her butt facing me. Puddin' was doing his happy cat paw kneading thing, and he had his legs stretched out so far that he wasn't kneading my leg, he was kneading Ella's butt. Ella's hair is thick enough and her butt is squishy enough that it apparently felt good. In the meantime, Mugzy has crawled up and sprawled out on the other couch, which was my Mom's old couch and must be about 7 feet long. (She got it so my 6'4" father could take naps on it and not have to scrunch up.)   And I thought, something is really odd about this picture, although it's rather typical of my life. Just crawl on me, everyone, that's my purpose in life!   A note about the Lucinda Williams DVD -- it was from a 1998 Austin City Limits performance, so it showcases the earlier part of her career. Her sound back then was a folk-country-cajun-blues brew. And absolutely, the song "Sweet Old World" makes me want to cry every time I hear it. I never do cry, but I want to. Lucinda wrote a few suicide songs in the earlier part of her career because he was involved with a guy who killed himself. "Pineola" is a pretty graphic description of a suicide's aftermath, but "Sweet Old World" is a very poignant reminder of all the little things that are very precious about being alive and embodied. It absolutely makes you want cry, but then you want to run out and find the person you adore the most in the world, just so you can to be around them. Or at least that's the response that I have to that song. A friend of mine is always bitching that I adore these songs that would make most people take a fistful of antidepressants. I think I've talked about this woman before -- she listens to The Andrews Sisters, the Monkees, and old-time musicals like "South Pacific" and "Oklahoma." I told her that is the most mind numbingly annoying musical blend I can imagine. I am often shocked we are friends.   Anyway, there I was, sitting on the dumpy little couch, covered with animals, listening to "Sweet Old World." Not a bad thing for a rainy evening in October!

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valentina

 

An '80's flashback

Since there's an 1980's retro scene going on right now, I flash back to the cartoon strip "Bloom County." And "The Far Side" was a big deal back then. And "Calvin and Hobbes." I had a discussion with a friend about the how the '80's was a golden age of contemporary cartoons.   As winter approaches, I inevitably get an email that is a compilation of all the "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoons where Calvin made snowpeople doing all manner of twisted things. And didn't almost everyone have a stuffed toy in the likeness of Opus the penguin? I still have both of my Opus stuffies, one is a Christmas Opus. But, I have a rarity, something terribly special and wonderful -- I have a stuffed Bill the Cat toy. Something about his scrawny neck always leads to an association with Nancy Reagan's scrawny neck. Last year for Christmas, I got "The Last Basselope" by Berk Breathed, the "Bloom County" creator. You'll recall the Basselope was the Basset Hound with antlers. I really do need to take a photo of Ella Bean in antlers and use it on a Christmas card.   And in the '80's and part of the '90's, you could liven up most stalled-out discussions with the question: "What is your favorite "Far Side?" You know what's coming next... in the '80's, there was this trend for all the yuppie moms in the first wave of minivans to have triangular "Baby On Board" signs. Some of you reading this were probably the babies on board. (Gah! I feel OLD!) Anyway, my favorite Far Side was of a lady mosquito (beehive hair, lipstick) driving a van with a "Maggot On Board" sign in the window.   I used to be a distance runner in the '80's. Running all over the place, I used to run by all those minivans and just get really depressed. Not because I wanted kids, but because I would see that lifestyle, picture myself in it, and feel instantly stultified. My running was a bit symbolic of my "running free" attitude in the '80's, when I used to toss throw pillows at the TV when Reagan came on the news and discovered the joy of mute buttons on remote controls. A few boyfriends were a bit confused the first time the "hit the mute and throw the pillows" drill occurred. Well, they're called throw pillows for a reason. I never dated Republicans.   Sometimes I think that maybe if I'd met the right person at the right time, I could have been a yuppie '80's baby boom mom. If the right sort of guy could have gotten my attention and married me really young... nah, no way! I didn't date Republicans! I'm not sure I dated a Republican, ever. Most of them take one look at me and see trouble. No hold it, I did date one, and that was in the early '90's. He was cute, but way too Rush Limbaugh-ized in the head, and I only went out with him once.   I have one wonderful, crystallized memory of the '80's, and I'm sure this says something about me, but I'm not sure what -- I was out for a long run, it was January or February, it was cold but not quite bitter (maybe 15 or 20 degrees), I was in my Gore-Tex running suit so I was warm enough, it was dark outside, maybe 6:30 or 7 pm, it was snowing a little bit and the wind was eddying the dusty snow around in the street. I was running towards a particularly busy intersection, and I hit all of the green lights so I didn't have to stop. The darkness, the snow, the streetlights and the headlights made everything in the world look silver and black. Running was no effort whatsoever. It was just perfect, away from Reagan on TV, the Republicans didn't matter, the minivan yuppie moms were all home being efficient, and I was running free.

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