Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Linking Wednesday

1. The Fametracker Daily Poll today was just way too much fun:

2. Also funny? The list they made of upcoming Keifer roles.

3. I told myself I wasn't going to link from McSweeneys because I ALWAYS DO THAT. But this is too good to hide under a bushel. "Old Jokes, Updated to Make Them Even Older." For instance (and I'm giggling as I type this - apparently I can't even tell a joke WHILE THE INTERNET IS NOT LOOKING DIRECTLY AT ME):

"Why is six afraid of seven?"
"Because VII-VIII-IX!"

4. I read an article in a Radar magazine that Hubster brought home during their brief period as a fully-functioning gossip rag. I have no idea where he found it, but it had its amusing sections. One of them was an article about Norah Vincent, a woman who impersonated a man for more than a year and wrote a book about it. Anyway, here she is meeting up with a male writer who wants to make himself more butch. It's pretty funny. Your tidbit: "Vincent suggested that I take some vocal training to lower my voice, as she did for her book. 'It's not the timbre but the intonation. You're a questioner. You don't have the sense that you know exactly what you're talking about.' Apparently, I talk like a Canadian."

5. This is a mildly amusing Star Wars-esque movie poster for Arrested Development. Worth a giggle for lovers of the show.

I hope you enjoy this morsels of mirth. I'll be leaving tomorrow and I won't be home until Sunday evening. I'll write if I can, but otherwise, enjoy your weekend and what little remains of April.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This Was Why I Ignored You

So I left at the butt-crack of dawn (let's not mince words - it was FOUR, that's 4! AM) and flew to San Francisco. The airport is built more vertically than horizontally and I ended up in International arrivals because of my airline. Bee finally found me on the third pass whilst ON THE PHONE WITH ME, but hey. We drove into 'Frisco with an eye to lunch at Fisherman's Wharf. Which was scrumptious! But first:

Stop it Willows, you're not the boss of us! AND YOU'RE NOT OUR MOTHER! (Shouldn't there be an "s" on that since we're not, you know, related at all?) [Yeah, probably.]

This is the second of our company's recently acquired GPS units. The first was named on a convention in which I was not present. She is now called "Stella" and the name seems to have stuck. The new unit is not quite as seamlessly human-sounding, and the poor thing had quite the time of it with all the Spanish names she was forced to pronounce. Also, acronyms are not her specialty - she called the UPS store the "ups" store. As in "he one-ups me by claiming his GPS unit can't read the word 'route'." Still, she was a trooper. So her name is Willows, after one Catherine Willows, famed former-stripper and CSI agent with equal parts motherliness and 'tude. This was based, almost solely, on the way she said "recalculating" when we missed a turn. It was exasperated, dejected with our failure, miffed at having to work twice as hard because of us morons, and just plain motherly. The other factor in the name was that, although we wanted to name her after the actress, we were relatively certain we wouldn't pronounce "Marg" correctly. Who needs that kind of embarrassment after letting down a GPS unit?

We arrived and decided upon The Franciscan for lunch. You know, our parking had to be validated, right? It had nothing to do with how nice it was or with their amazing view of the harbor. It wouldn't be me if I didn't tell you that their sole was delicious, although so lightly seasoned that the olive oil stood out a BIT much, but their asparagus was SO GOOD and their pasta side with sun-dried tomatoes was perfect. I had no idea how much I missed asparagus. I never make it just for myself and Hubster doesn't like it. Sadly. Anyway, YUM!

Go eat at the Franciscan now!

After that we walked and shopped the amazing jewelry, chocolate, trinket, and clothing shops there. We had dessert at the Eagle Cafe, which has no website but does have a delicious warm apple tart a la mode with caramel sauce drizzled on the plate and espresso drinks at the ready. Highly recommended.

In the afternoon, which was really evening in our bodys' time zones, we started lagging, and headed back to the hotel, which was quite snazzy. Their outdoor hot tub chased away the traveling blues and we quite enjoyed our movie selection of the evening, Memoirs of a Geisha, which wasn't as good as the book but sure did look purdy! Oops, time for another picture!

Go enjoy these flowers now!

The next day our set-up hours went quickly. We retired early, having dined at Maria Elena's in Alviso. The concierge told us about it, and apparently, it's a hot lunch site for Silicon Valley peeps. We saw some be-suited fellows dining there, so it doesn't seem all that far-fetched. Also: tasty. The next day, hours were longer and our brain matter was starting to stew, despite the energy boosts in our Jamba Juice smoothies. We ended up vegging out over Thank You For Smoking. GO SEE IT NOW. Oh, it was hilarious, irreverent, star-studded, and pithy. Our fav lines? "Please don't ruin my childhood." and "Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk." And then there was this tidbit, in which the character of "Jeff Megall" is played by ROB FREAKIN'LOWE. People, this movie has it all. As well as some swearing a brief sex scene, in the interests of full disclosure. But you will never laugh so hard, see:

Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they're looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
Jeff Megall: It's the final frontier, Nick.
Nick Naylor: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
Jeff Megall: Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. "Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device."

I'm making it sound boring here. Just see it. And soon, 'cause it's not exactly burning up the box office, unfortunately.

Anyhow, we trotted home on Sunday, and I got to see some of Hubster's relations in Seattle on the return trip's four-hour layover there. I had massive ice cream sundaes, dance-dance revolution demonstrations, a tour of their home, and a brief driving tour of Seattle. It was much too fast, but lovely. I took the red-eye out of that great city and back to this one, arriving home at around 8:30am, exhausted and ready to play the truant as my lone "weekend" day was wasted with long naps, lots of kitten cuddling, a few household chores like painting the cabinet doors, and then more sleeeeep. Unfortunately, Bee was not so lucky and ended up stuck in Phoenix for 24 hours because her flight's delay made her miss a connecting flight and the next flight was full to brimming. All my laziness seems even more indulgent under the circumstances. Now that she's back home, we're living the same reality, hundreds of miles apart: unpack from this trip, repack for Thursday's trip, and commence craving delicious food we can't have from the one, the only In-N-Out Burger, the California original.

Go eat there now!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Forgive me, Internet; it has been two days since my last confession.

Where I have been: I went out with Mr. T and his friend S, and much fun was had. It was exactly what I needed after a stressful day. Yesterday was a bit lighter in the work department, which was good because I had no plans. I vegged out while K still worked. We did have a good phone conversation on one of his breaks, though. That's got to count for something. I also made a delicious stir-fry. Oo, oo, and I had my first Gin & Tonic since getting all better, and it. was. yummy.

Where I am going: Now I'm wrapping work in preparation for some hellish travel and a great convention. B and I are headed for California, mere minutes (okay, like an hour) from San Francisco. We have REALLY light hours both days, so we will have nothing but time to explore the area. This is just the sort thing we love. There will be much giddiness tonight.

How I am getting there:This giddiness does not bode well because of the aforementioned "hellish travel." I'll be flying out of Dulles, so that means at least an hour drive on top of my flight leaving at 6:30am. If the giddiness keeps me awake, it might make more sense to pull an all-nighter than to sleep for thirty minutes, no? Anyhow, I don't arrive back in this time zone until early Monday morning after taking the red-eye from Seattle the night before. {Note: Maybe you should hold off on gathering my advice for travel plans.] However, this itinerary does afford me one luxury - I'll be able to spend my 4-hr Seattle layover with K's aunt, uncle, and cousins out there. They are too awesome for words, offering to pick me up and take my far, far away from the airport for some dessert. I believe they intend to return me to the airport in time for my return flight, but honestly, I think I wouldn't mind if we were delayed. I may have mentioned this before, but they're awesome.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Great Googally-moogally.

Can someone tell me where the phrase in the title of this post comes from? I'm just curious because I've been saying a lot lately. That might have something to do with WOOOOOOOOORK. grrrrrrrrrrrrr. I'm squeezing everything into the last possible moment with my planning right now. It's partially because I forget about tiny details, partially because I have some many competing projects, partially because I procrastinate, and entirely because I'm new at this and have to spend minutes doing things that will probably take me seconds when I get the hang of this. Good times. Eventually, I will be a good source for information on finding cheap airfare and car rentals. Right now, if you even mention those words in my presence I believe I will give you a killing look and then wrap up the proceedings with an immediate and thorough psychotic break.

In other news, Easter rocked the house. The services went well. I spent Easter dinner at the home of a family from church, the mother of whom is the friend I wrote about here. They had another family over, so it was interesting to have a conversation about our booklists interrupted by children shouting about the hose being turned upon them and whether or not the cat should be playing with Easter basket filler. I did a lot of laughing, I'll say that. I think I succeeded at not totally making a fool of myself in front of the real grown-ups. The other family left in the evening, and I hung out for a while longer being regaled with descriptions of American Girl dolls and by the repeatedly shouted phrase "chicken in Swahili" from their son, who would be the reincarnation of my Brother J were it not that J is very much alive. Yes, their son E is boistrous, athletic, stubborn, also loud, and overall hilarious. And he's really into shouting the phrase "chicken in Swahili" in piercing tones. Awesome.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of church services, shopping (buying such varied items as shoes [!], grass seed, halogen flood lamp bulbs, and sunglasses which promptly lost a screw and became useless to me). Ah, modern life.

Tonight I intend to consume delicious fajitas and too many margaritas with Mr. T and one of his friends, but in order to be able to go I have to a get some more work done, so HEIGH HO, HEIGH HO, IT'S BACK TO WORK I GO . . .

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday, Good God

Last night I went to the Maundy Thursday service. It was similar to the usual services at our Episcopal church. We sang hymns, heard the Scriptures read, and listened to a sermon. We also celebrated the Eucharist, fitting on a day when we remember the institution of that sacrament. Even though we hear those words said every Sunday, it was good to think of them in terms of the rebirth of the Passover as the Eucharist and what it means in the context of history. But the most amazing thing happened at the end of the service.

While a man with a booming voice filled the sanctuary with the words of Psalm 78, the ministers stripped the altar bare. The psalm is the story of God making a covenant with Israel and Israel breaking that covenant and betraying God over and over again. It's basically the gist of huge sections of the Old Testament in poetic form. The emotions attributed to God are so terrifying: he's "full of wrath" and his "anger is kindled" so many times throughout it. This seems typical of gods in general, probably not much different than the other gods whom the Israelites chose to worship. But as we heard that, we saw the banners come down from the altar, the table where they lay the bread and wine, the pulpit, and I realized what God did.

He took that anger, that justified rage at the fool that his people made of him, and he turned on it himself. He gave up the only person who'd ever lived in human flesh and had the right kind of relationship with him without sinning. He gave up his previously uninterrupted communion with another part of himself (yikes, the Trinity is SO hard to describe). He offered redemption yet again to a people who would pray when he smote them but ignore him when he blessed them. Their actions, like those of all other human beings, brought about that day. His own son was stripped of his clothing and his dignity; ultimately, he was stripped of his humanity by being executed as a criminal.

So everything came down because Good Friday is too terrible for ornamentation, too important for distraction. It's too visceral for anything but the Crucifix, covered in opaque black cloth, standing in the middle of the platform. While they took everthing away, I just watched it all, paying attention but not grasping. On the drive home, I almost sobbed when it clicked in my head.

God's no masochist - he didn't turn his anger on himself with fruitless cutting or self-mutilation which does nothing but assuage the pain for a little while and leave some scars as mementos. He and his Son endured the pain because it was an action that would bring about change. Even still, I have to marvel that God would do that for me for the paltry evidence of change I often give him. I pray the confessional prayer each Sunday, and each Sunday I know there's a mountain of things which this prayer encompasses and which God willingly forgives.

I know if you've grown up in the church, you've heard this all a hundred times, and I'm sure it was said better, too. But this is the emotional connection to reality that I've craved for months. Before this I got it - it all made sense. But I understood it like an argument. I can make sense of an argument for why Palestrina is the best Renaissance choral master or why he isn't, but if I don't care about Renaissance choral music, it's going to go off the radar screen faster than you can say "Toby Keith" or "Metallica."

Maybe this entire post strikes you as cliché, or unrelated to your life right now, or even repulsive. I just hope at some point you get that concept of grace not because someone explained it well, but because you can feel something of God's pain, and you can look beyond the detailed descriptions of Christ's torture and death to the heart of this day: the great lengths to which God went to make new humanity and his entire creation.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Loose Thread Post

As many of you know, continuity is most certainly NOT king around here. That might be because I AM TSARINA HERE. And I'm rather capricious. I've decided to be benevolent for once and fill in the blanks. Hang on to your peasanty hats!

1. My inner child's bid at legal emancipation was dismissed because of a lack of evidence. This is precisely why my inner adult pays her lawyers the big bucks.

2. I'm still super whiny about any missed time with my husband. Not to him, though. And I've been trying to tone it down to you. Look at me being benevolent all over the place!

3. My cat's still super adorable and also crazy. Last night, I was finishing up a template draft for a friend (setting up a loose thread in the wrap-up post - sweet fancy Moses!) downstairs and I had the lights on. Usually I'm downstairs when it's light out, so without any ambient light, there were a lot more shadows than usual. Loki caught sight of the shadow of her tail and GAVE CHASE. TO HER OWN TAIL. What a disaster she is. When she got tired of that, she flopped down on her side and stared at me as if I was the crazy one while a sliver of her tongue peeked out of her mouth. She occasionally does that. I have yet to get photographic evidence, but you may take my word for it that it is AWESOME.

4. I fixed the link to yogabeans! in this post. Go there now.

5. I asked this question here if I could wear the "the full skirts that all those boho/mid-century fashion freaks tell me are too popular to ignore anymore." This post was an attempt to answer that question whilst assuaging shopping guilt. I'm happy to report that it was a success on all counts. I think I like the look, the internet agrees and gives its blessing to my spending the cold hard dough (oxymoronic?), PLUS I totally didn't have new Easter clothes, and now I do. A perfect storm of justification!

6. Remember that time that I said I'd tell you all about Nebraska? Yeah, well, I'm cheating and linking B's post because HELLOOO! This post is taking forever with the ceaseless, endless, stoppage-less linking! Seriously!

7. For those of you who read the same entry and immediately started prepping your "you totally took the test wrong, I just KNEW you were pregnant the minute you said something, HAHAHA" speeches? I took another test recently and it was totally and unambiguously negative. Don't think I don't see you forming a more refined version of the SAME SPEECH for the comments section just as soon as I get wise to what you already know - you just KNOW IT. Pathetic! I'M NOT PREGNANT. THERE WILL BE NO VERBOSE, STUBBORN, AND HIDEOUSLY BOSSY MINI ERICA'S WALKING AROUND FOR SOME TIME TO COME. I would think you'd be grateful!

8. The lab still hasn't returned their verdict on just exactly which nasty microbial is making me its BEEP. Fortunately, a lot of the symptoms have calmed down. Unfortunately, that's because I've been sticking to my life-sentence of bland food and I'm fast approaching the limit of my patience with it. I'm getting ready to dive into that box of FatBoy icecream sandwiches in my freezer and follow that up with cocktails and a side of Chipotle burritos.

I believe that covers everything. Of course I'm probably wrong about that, but that's why the Lord created commenting, and lo, it is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"TMI," you'll shout, whilst covering your bleeding eyes.

I went to the doctor this morning. They shoe-horned me in to the schedule. My health insurance provider and all its doctors and medical center personnel continue to be WAY TOO NICE FOR HEALTH CARE. Seriously? Where's the hate? Access some contempt for the sicky! I feel like a human being, and from previous experiences, I thought health care was supposed to demoralize me to the core. Weird.

Anyhow, I could write an entire post about the indignities of my current affliction, including the fact that I have been charged with collecting a stool sample. Yeah, I wish I were kidding about that, but no. And apparently when it's most needed my body has decided that it can't fathom the thought of ever expelling waste again. Ever. It's like someone told me it was time to don a wedding dress again. I didn't poo for like 6 days before and 4 days after the wedding. I think that might have been illuminating for people around me to know when the question arose "What's up her BEEP?" [To all my engaged friends: be ye not like Erica - take a laxative or eat a lot of fruit or SOMETHING. Also, take half a dose of a sleep aid. I got 90 minutes of sleep in a fitful, five-hour period the night before. Just a little unsolicited advice there for ya to go with the mountains you've already gotten from anyone who's ever known anyone who might have gotten engaged and/or married.]

ANYHOW, between that and booking travel, freight, and accommodations for several conventions, answering all the speaker requests for Jefe, remembering and then beginning to update CD liner artwork, AND attempting to mock-up a frighteningly complex idea for new ads, I should basically be fired for writing this. If only it didn't make me feel so much better . . .

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Virus Strikes Back (UPDATED)

Sooooooo, did I mention I got sick whilst I was traveling recently? Oh, I did. Well, I was feeling better Friday and Saturday and then today the virus organized and stuck it to The [Wo]Man - that is, my poor miserable body. I feel, how you say, yucky. And it's really too bad because I had such a good weekend, and I wanted that feeling to last. It's Monday, WHAT ELSE HAVE I GOT?

Friday night I did not much of anything and tried to recoup from the busy week of travel and then catching up on WAY TOO MUCH work. Saturday I got my hairs cut in the morning, and then got my professionally-styled coiffure sopping wet in the rain when I went grocery shopping. Worst. time. ever. The rest of the evening, I spent intermittently watching HGTV and cleaning. I vacuumed the floors and hung all the pictures in the kitchen. I got some good ideas for other rooms in the house. Also, I now want to live on a $1-million houseboat made of wood with copper accents and shaped like a wave breaking on the shore. Just FYI, there.

My health plan provides Advice Nurses via phone to its members, and they told me to eat a diet composed entirely of bland food, I tried to stick to that all weekend. It's like a death sentence - no wait, they keep you alive but you only eat gruel. They said once I was feeling better, I could reintroduce dairy and spices by eating yogurt for the good bacteria and then slowly amping up the levels of non-bland food. Apparently I either failed at that, or the virus was not yet done with me. BLAST! It might have had something to do with yesterday. See, I got up for church and everything went well. Our Palestrina piece started out sloppy but came together as we sang. Also, the church did some good things with the liturgy and readings to make the service really powerful. Alls well there. I came home, ate lunch and headed out for Mr. T's and an afternoon of Cherry Blossom Festival fun. Oh, and food. Which I would pay for today. BUT ANYWAY.

We had a really good chat. I've known him since the high school days, but I've never been all that close to him as a friend. It was nice to hear how college affected him and the kinds of struggles he overcame whilst telling him all about my own troubles. Plus, IT WAS GORGEOUS. It may be all about Autumn in New York, but I highly recommend Spring in DC. After the rain of the previous day, there were few petals left on the trees, but everything else was coming alive, so it was a delight to walk around and wield my camera. Exhibit A:

Kite-flying fans love Spring by the Washington Monument.

We also passed through the Smithsonian's Haupt Garden which is located near the famous castle (their information center), and through this stretch of land with patch after patch of tulips of many varieties. There was a sign that labeled it the Tulip Library. Odd name, lovely sight. Check it:

After wandering around for a while, it time for good food. I had chicken penne which had a surprisingly light sauce (no dairy to speak of) and reasonably non-spicy flavors. I took a chance on a little wine (it was Half-Price Bottles of Wine Sunday). We got this wine (PDF with lots o' technical wine speak), a Petite Sirah (as they spell it) 2003 from Bogle Vineyards in California. It was labeled as a $24 bottle, so we paid $12. Dude, you can barely get a single glass a piece for that at a restaurant! The moral of the story: Clyde's, Sundays, Wine, Mmmmm. So, I had a glass and a bit and today my body is MOST NOT PLEASED. This is gonna be a long week without cocktails.

UPDATE: How could I forget? Mr. T and I gawked at Steve Carell as he and a camera crew filmed a scene for Evan Almighty on the steps of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. I've got the pictures to prove it. He's even wearing a similar suit in his IMDB profile, so THERE. Or rather, HERE:

Friday, April 07, 2006

Should it stay or should it go now?

Your new earworm in the title refers to what might or might not become a new feature at the FyF.

I have a really hard time making up my mind. Oh, the major life decisions are fine - I can handle risk and reward involved with who to marry, where to work, and what to hold as life goals. But, see, I bought this really cute skirt at Ann Taylor LOFT for a decent (though not super) price, and I just can't decide. There's an old philosophical thought problem that states that if you put a rational donkey (suspend your disbelief with me here) equidistant from two bales of identically delicious hay the donkey would die of starvation because there would be no reason to choose one over the other forming an unbreakable conundrum for a strictly rational mind. I am that rational donkey, and y'all: you're the tie-breaker.

So, should it stay or should it go now?
Now I know the pictures are fuzzy, but I'm looking into a mirror and I tried a flash holding out hope that it would work so the color would be truer, but no such luck, Bub. Bear in mind the the brown linen is dark and not quite as warm as the first picture indicates. The pattern is embroidered on. That's it for specs.

So tell me what to do and then I can claim the internet made me do it. Awesome.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Alive and Backspacing

Okay, y'all, I'm here. I'm typing away on someone's keyboard, trying desperately not to burn out the backspace button because UNFAMILIAR KEYBOARDS SUCK. But you know, I'm slogging through it all for you, and for the ongoing health of the Fyf.

HOW ARE YOU? Comment levels have declined in recent weeks, so I feel like I just don't know what's up in your lives. I know this blog is all about me but sometimes, even I get curious.

Anyway, back to me. I've been feeling really awful on and off since Saturday. I start to get abdominal cramps and my digestive tract has been totally off. This is, of course, just the sort of thing you enjoy when travelling in the United States of America. Is this outer Oogabooga in another hemisphere? NO, it's Indiana, people. INDIANA. GAH! I got freaked out and thought I might be (gasp) pregnant, so I took a test. YEAH, I was THAT freaked out about it. Negative, so it must be something else (the low fever I've been running on and off made me think it was bacterialogical anyway, but I still got freaked out because HELLO: BABY!). (That last parenthesis was out of control.)

Anyhow, other than that, I've been having a grand time here, and it's even been fairly productive. Fortunately, I had much less to tackle over this visit than I usually do, so that helps. Oh, I had dinner here, which seems to be chain, so if you've got one locally, treat yourself to some Halibut Cheeks in Lemon Caper Butter Sauce. Although Kincaid's, listen up: you can't put the word "halibut" right in front of the word "cheeks" and not expect even the most mature individual to stifle (with varying levels of success) a giggle. Please, help us all: just call it halibut, okay? Also, great job on the creme brulee. De. lish.

Okay, back to talking to you. I'll be here tomorrow for most of the day, but I'll arrive home tomorrow night. Maybe Thursday I'll get to posting more regularly. Till then, I shall attempt to get over this bug, pack up all of the crap I have acquired through shopping in Nebraska, AND come up with some good posts for my return. Not much, right?