for those who are in or around sane

Friday, April 28

it was.... totally.... worth it....

There’s something about a cute café that makes me need to eat soft cheeses, drink good red wine or indulge in a cappuccino. Doesn’t make a difference where I am, or who I’m with, but if it’s a good little café, I will most likely be drawn to the cheesiest thing on the menu. In this case, it was a grilled chicken panini with tomatoes, pesto and brie cheeses.

Talk about glorified grilled cheese!! Brie melts so splendidly, and it just perfectly oozed out the edges, covering the whole sandwich with a thick gooey layer of perfection. Yes, I ate the whole thing. And enjoyed a cappuccino (to ensure no food-coma when I got back to work).

So here I sit, barely an hour later, and I am suddenly remembering the movie French Kiss. You know – the one with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline with a French accent? I was thinking about the relevance of this movie at this exact point in my life:

“Did you know there are 452 official kinds of cheese in this country, isn't that amazing? To find 452 ways to classify what is essentially a bacterial process? Don't you think that's amazing?”

And then, one hour later: “Spasm! Spasm! Oh, God, here it comes... lactose intolerance!”

Thursday, April 27

the trip was a success.

In other interesting news – my company sent me to check out the printing facility we use which required a bit of a drive and a hotel stay. Since I’m not sure how much I can share, I’ll only go with public knowledge for names and whatnot. You’ll see why in a second.

What actually happened: we learned a LOT about the printing and binding of books, and enjoyed a LOT of free food & beverages. The drive was pleasant, the hotel was nice and the food was plentiful. Our schedule though, was realllly intense. We were going from early to late, first with a presentation from an experienced worker, then with a guided tour of what we just learned.

If you happen to be at happy hour with me and mention anything about book printing or binding, you might just get an earful. I learned quite a bit. The electronic/technical/graphic design part of the tour eluded me for the most part, but the actual physical printing and binding fascinated me.

And, this is the company that prints all of the Harry Potter books.

So not joking. I picked book 6 off the massive bookshelf, and had quite the mixed reaction. One part of me applied my new knowledge: it’s a 3-piece binding with foil on the spine that was applied via copper stamp. The dust jacket was 10pt paper printed on with graphics, overlayed with dull laminate, embossed and stamped with foil. The other part of me nearly turned purple with the burning question: what was it like to print Harry Potter??

The answer I got was: very noisome. The process is the same as any other book, but security was so tight that everyone was searched before entering and leaving the building. Even your Lean Cuisine boxes were scrutinized. No tours were held, no employees other than the ones assigned to particular lines were allowed to even go near the process. Contracts were signed, lips were sealed. And R.R. Donnelley has kept its side of the deal for 6 editions. (You can see an acknowledgement to RRD in the back of the book, on the page that gives all of the technical printing info – if you really care…)

It was pretty cool. I admit, I felt a bit ashamed of my child-like excitement, but I’m glad i asked. And now you too have been graced with this knowledge.

Monday, April 24

Aspartame (uh-SPARE-tuh-may) – the Greek goddess of sweetness

Bored with being alone recently, Sadie agreed to meet her mother and friends for a drink in the suburbs. She was a bit apprehensive about a Friday night with the ladies. It wasn’t the greatest substitute for a night out with the girls, but the girls were all in different places now. But mom was still there, and her recent bought of “mid-life crisis” inclined her to do things like make younger friends, go to see live bands and have a couple drinks with the ladies on Friday nights.

They met at Joey’s, a chain bar in the suburbs. For the first 10 minutes or so it was just Sadie and Mom. They sipped at imported beer, commenting about its flavor and giggling that they were drinking together. “you’re not driving back to the city tonite, are you?” “no, mom, I don’t have to”.

Judy and Lil waved from across the growing crowd, and the four of them gathered in high stools around a tiny table. Sadie felt a bit special for a few minutes – as the ladies (old enough to be ladies, but not as old as her mom) fawned and questioned her about life, the universe and everything. Since she had no concrete answers as of late, she was quickly abandoned when the perky, red-faced waiter showed up, bearing cocktails. Pink ones. “oooo! This is so cute!” “mm, you should try mine, its strawberry!” “no thanks, I’ll stick with beer” and Sadie went on sipping, smiling as the ladies put out their pinkies and drained the over-priced booze.

As the night rounded out (2.5 cocktails – and 3 beers – later) Sadie noted that the lack of wedding ring caused Judy to fiddle with her nails and laugh nervously when the server was around. She also saw that skinny Lil was constantly examining the piece of pizza on her plate, but never managed to eat it, “Don and I are on a diet, but I just hate it! it seems like it’s so much easier for him to look good”.

Mom smiled sweetly at her “gang” and provided topical liaisons in between awkward and painful pauses. “Sadie, it’s wonderful that you and your mom are so close! I just cant believe you’d be sitting here with us instead of out with your friends!” Blushing a bit and pausing to take a large gulp before she answered, but no need, as there was Mom to the rescue, “We’ve been trying to spend quality time together! It’s been a blast! Last week we saw that new Colin Firth movie. Have you guys seen it??” “He can dance in leather pants anytime he wants!” relieved, Sadie managed to giggle along and compare notes: who’s hotter, Hugh Jackman or Colin Firth?

About the time the bill got sorted out, Lil brought out a bottle of flavored water, “hydration, hydration, and always hydration!” “what a good idea! You never know what the water tastes like in these places” “what kind is that? is it aspartame or splenda?” pause, a finger on the label, squinty eyes, and triumphantly, “splenda!” “oh that’s good. I drink so much damn diet coke, I know I’m going to keel over like one of those lab rats” “yes… it’s sad how every calorie counts” “I just hate it!” “Well, Lil’s sure the smart one here. But, I bet Sadie wont feel a thing in the morning! Just a regular bought, I’m sure!” and the ladies winked at her. Sadie smiled back, wishing she wouldn’t have to feel anything in the morning.

Thursday, April 20

i believe believe in the glory of government-controlled people conveyance

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of public transportation. But in the great white north, I only used the excruciatingly slow, over-priced busses when my car was in the shop. Yes it was only 8 miles door-to-door, and the University Line ran 24/7, and it ran so frequently, I would never drive on University save to stop behind a bus at every intersection. But I really enjoyed my little car; only smelling my own BO (not that I have any, of course) and singing OUT LOUD to my music of preference. The trip was shorter, but included the asinine driving skills of Them That Shall Not Be Fingered (for the time being) so the stress to time ratio was the only factor. In the great white north, the stress was worth the time.

And now I find myself in the great city of wind. A flat place. Full of wonders like a giant ferris wheel, corrupt politicians, new restaurants every weekend and yes, mass transit. It was my intention to finally take advantage of a city that has a broad spectrum of affordable public transportation.

Every day I wanted to wake up, get ready for work, walk 3 blocks to the station, take the Brown Line to the Red Line and end up downtown. Every day I wanted to squeeze into a train car at 5pm and hold on to the railing for 25 minutes all the while smiling proudly at my compatriots in transit. In fact, I watch my roommate do this every day. from my position (more on that later), her red cheeks are aglow from the satisfaction of saving the environment and her pocket change. Even if she says differently, which she probably will, I will continue to believe in the glory of government-controlled people conveyance.

Why am I oh… a bit delusional? It’s because shortly after gaining employment, I learned that there was no method of public transportation for me. nosirree. I had to drive to work like the schmucks I thought I was breaking free from.

So every day I spend 40 minutes to an hour in my car, one way, easing my jealousy with the little things in life. Like, morning talk radio (see earlier entry about my crazy love for public radio) or a cup of tea with cream and sugar. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to dunkin’ donuts in the am, or trader joe’s in the pm.

But every day, I come home from work, work out, settle in for supper, and watch my roommate enter the apartment, cheeks aglow. Bitterly, I choke back the jealous bile, shoot my car keys a piercing Look and turn to my dear, environmentally sound roommate and say, “how was your day?”

Wednesday, April 19

can't i just get a new pair??

I’m in the middle of figuring out my contact preference. Its not exciting. It’s not fun. In fact, its rather discouraging and disheartening. And semi-painful. But onward I plod, taking full advantage of my one-time co-pay.

About this time last year, it became apparent that my daily headaches were caused by squinting. A lot of it. I must say, I’m damn good at deciphering words from a blurry line. In fact, I passed 2 driver’s vision tests this way. I really don’t like that they let you “take your time” while deciding which way the “E” is pointing. It’s a bit unsettling.

Anyway, after I sucked it up and hauled myself into the eye doctor, I went through a battery of different brands of contacts. Eventually, settling on one brand, I ordered enough for the year. By the end of the year, I was sick of the way they felt – as if they were rotating in my sockets ie Mad Eye Moody.

So this year, I made my appointment, endured the puff of air that’s really a device from satan, and squinted at the eye charts. I was given a new brand with a new prescription, blinked a bit, and was sent on my way.

The first pair was toooo sticky (they allowed for no adjustment if and when I needed it).

The second pair was toooo wiggly (ie Mad Eye again)

The third pair…. Well, I’m wearing them right now. I just got them. I’m not going to jump to conclusions here. And I’m certainly not going to wear glasses 24/7. So knock on wood. Yes. For me, please. For my eyes. For the sake of drivers that encounter me.

Thursday, April 13


sometimes, at work, i'm asked to perform menial tasks such as copying. last night, about 5 min before quit, i was asked to make 15 copies of a particular document. i was in the copy room, alone, for a good 10 - 15 min, going about my business. as i gathered up the reams of paper to return with, i look down, and by the garbage can, there's a money clip. after further inspection, it's a wad of cash, in a generic clip. no cards, no notes of ownership. so, i did the first and only thing that occured to me. i walked up to my boss and told her what i found. after a bit of a conference between her and a few other people, i walked the clip to its owner, a higher-up and well-liked guy. i got a nice thank you & handshake, and a sense of a job well done. the most ironic part? in the copy room, i was mulling over what i could do to make some extra cash.

Wednesday, April 12

night trainwreck

so how is it that one night of faulty sleep can derail you for an entire day afterwards? this falls on many levels. there's the drunken night's sleep (which in itself comes in 2 settings)

dead drunk - where you pass out exactly where you are (standing, sitting, under the pool table, possibly, you made it to bed - in or out of your underware). you sleep soundly until the alcohol has left your body and the hangover wakes you up. the rest of the day is spent in dark, cool rooms akin to the bathroom. day ruined (rallying not included).

restless drunk - where you are full-on goggle-eyed and teetering around, but coherant and happy about the night and proud of yourself for not blacking out. you actually do make it to bed on these occasions, after you've brushed your teeth and put on pj's. you sleep soundly for... maybe 3 hours. then you wake up and are alert for a good 1 hour. sleep for another 30 min, and wake for another 15... so on and so forth until it's legit to get out of bed and the rest of your day is spent in a "fuck, i didnt sleep at all" fog.

there's also the bad dream sleep - where you wake up, heart pounding, in the wee hours of morning. if you're like me, you can rehash every detail of the dream and must force yourself to think of butterflies and candy to distract yourself enough to fall asleep again. and then, the dream comes back, but in altered form, and you find yourself waking up in a glassy-eyed sweat, frustrated that you couldnt rid yourself of the dream completely. this time you'll try harder. more butterflies. more candy. sleep... but you wake up. even though it's not a bad dream; you're just scared it'll turn out to be a bad dream. damn brain. next day spent in crabby, cranky fog.

sick sleep is possibly the worst - allergies, cold, flu, whatever it is, it will knock you out for sure all day long, but as soon as you try to sleep in your comfy bed... the sheets are too sticky. the pillow too hot. too flat. too poofy. the fan is too cold. one nostril gets clogged. the other follows suit. you wake yourself up snoring, and your consolation is that your sick so you can call in the following morning and sleep all day. but, lo and behold, when the alarm sounds, you're healthy as a horse and drag yourself into work, where you spend all day with toothpicks in your eyelids. fun stuff.

this is one of those days for me. sleep sucked so now i am in a pitiful mood. resorting to bad habits and frequent escapes wherever possible. must... keep... going...

Thursday, April 6

spelling bee protestors make me yak

does anyone else find this completely asinine? perhaps it's my love of language and all of the letters therein, but DAMMIT people!! these are little kids who have something to be(e) proud of! i'm proud of my vocabulary and love of correctly spelled words (even if i can't spell them myself - that's what the little red squiggly line is for) and our bizzare phoenetics! yes. i know i dont stand alone here. AND, if other countries w/ different languages still use little accent marks, even though they aren't needed anymore, then we shouldn't be forced to use words like (retch!!) "enuf"!!

i'm done now. thank you.

Tuesday, April 4

march picks

Due to unfortunate events, i shall post my march reading "list" on my blog this month. it's not what you'd call a list, as it's only two books. but one of them was a bit difficult to get through, and i neglected to download or borrow an audiobook this time around. the beginning of spring is a hard month for reading. now that it's nice outside, all i want to do is grab a good book and sit on a park bench, or on the beach and just breathe in words and air for a while.

The Exquisite, by Laird Hunt
i plan to write a full review of this book in the coming weeks. you see, it's a forthcoming Coffee House Press book, due out in September, i believe. i was honored that Fish let me take a sneak peek at Hunt's new work. i enjoyed his other works as challenging and beautiful pieces. but, what i will say now, is this one is amazing. i am really looking forward to it's arrival in bookstores so i can re-shelve it, cover out, across the city.

Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian
firstly, i know it's an oprah pick. i never thought i'd read an oprah pick. but a year or so ago, b and i were driving long distance, and decided to read aloud to kill the time. this was the book in her bag. it's got a catchy beginning, so i picked it up as a lunchtime reader in march. a teenage girl watches her midwife mother go through a horrible court case involving the supposed childbirth-related murder of one of her clients. sorry, but you can tell that a man wrote this book b/c even though it's about women, and he did his research well, it still lacks the estrogen. i do give him good credit for trying so hard though. predictable ending, good moral questioning and decent writing make this a perfect oprah pick. oh, and he said in the beginning that this was a work of fiction. so no worries... right?

on deck? Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton, Pride & Predjudice by Jane Austin