Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Which My Family Laughs In Scorn and My Best Friend Calls Me Old

Today, I went to the eye doctor. I hadn’t been in almost 5 years, but The Professor’s university just added a vision plan to their offerings this month and we jumped into that pool feet first with our palms open for handouts. He’s getting Lasik-ized next month. I decided that maybe it was time I could tell the difference between a Prius and Suburban whilst driving down the interstate. It’s all in the priorities. I just got back from my appointment, and the glasses – which will only be made cuter by the librarian-chain they will hang ‘round my neck by – have been ordered. (And as an aside, I am very glad I passed linguistics before I started butchering grammar as I just did back there). The Bestest Friend has promised me a Seeing Eye Dog for my 50th birthday. That’s more of an excuse to A) Call me old, and B) get me to own a dog, than it is a necessity, but she’s occasionally good at planning ahead and killing two birds with one stone. Or two eyes with one dog, as the case may be. My family…well, I and the baby brother have been blessed with our lack of a need for eyewear. I’m pretty sure a couple of them are legally blind without some kind of device on or in their eyes. So when I tell them I have 20-30 vision in one eye and 20-25 in the other, I’m sure I’ll get a “Yeah, kid, come back when you have an actual need for vision correction”. To them I say: “Please. Call me kid again. It sounds kinda nice.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Totally Unrelated Things

Thing the First: Everyone knows that we have a crazy-liberal, give-the-Dems-glowing-praise-no-matter-what, fall-all-over-themselves media in the US, right? Ok, good. Thing the Second: Friend Rob pointed me towards this handy little garden-style-analyzer and it got me spot on:

A Cottage Garden

Eclectic and sweetly rumpled, a cottage-style garden isn't the buttoned-up type. Relaxed, romantic and informal, the cottage garden overflows with multiple blooms, often set off by picket fences, arbors, and trellises. Heirloom and vintage plants are quite at home here as well. It's often the melange of plants that makes it so charming. Practical herbs for kitchen and medicine chest stand side by side with roses. It's truly a garden of the heart, of the hearth and of the home.

Conclusion: I really need more days off to play around these here internets.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I < heart > Charleston

I know it sounds like I’ve been complaining non stop about this trip. And looking back Saturday on the problems that I’ve focused on…I need to make one thing clear: I have fallen in love with Charleston. Granted, anytime I get 70 degree weather in November, an open air market, a ton of history, easily walked streets, shopping to die for and food! Oh my gosh the food! Fresh seafood. I love salmon. Sing with me… “I love salmon in the springtime…I love salmon in the fall…” You know what else I love? PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA. What? He has nothing to do with Charleston? Well. Get your own blog. Anyway, I love the city. The conference is pretty good; I don’t know that I’m feeling the raptures I’ve heard from a couple of others, but, eh..that’s work. This post is about play. Wednesday night I took the time to stroll along King Street and all the shopping that: A) I cannot fit into the small suitcase I brought with me, and B) I cannot afford, and C) I drooled over anyway. Thursday I came across the market shops: Ok, these pictures aren’t great because I was so busy drooling over the overpriced handmade baskets and jewelry that I forgot to take pictures until I was leaving. Yes, I bought some jewelry. I also found a Harley Davidson store and grabbed an overpriced T-shirt for The Professor. I also found a street cart selling some kind of Caribbean jerk chicken on a stick that was absolutely delicious – the spices were crusted into the chicken and the whole thing was a crispy, spicy awesomeness that made me very thirsty. Luckily, there was a bar across the street and I popped in for a beer before I went back to work. Later in the afternoon, walking between two sessions of the conference, I had to cross Marion Park: And then after my last session for the day, I made it back to my hotel just in time for the beginning of the wine and cheese hour. I love this place. On Friday, I skipped an afternoon session and – after dropping by my hotel to leave off the laptop - I found a restaurant that's over the harbor. It seemed like a good place to get seafood, so I stopped in. Lunch: And the view from my table: I headed out from lunch - that was grilled amber jack with steamed green beans and red rice spiced with Andouille sausage - and had one of several places in mind to visit along Museum Mile. I ended up passing the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon five minutes before the next tour, so that's where I ended up. That's the Tour Guide in the Dungeon with the Tea. I still had 45 minutes to kill, so I moseyed back down the street that's just dripping with history... ...to my hotel ... ...for a quick 20 minute lie-down before heading back to the conference. After the afternoon sessions, I went back to the market - one of the buildings has different vendors at night - and then stopped and found a great local beer and some Bruschetta Salmon for dinner. AWESOME. I never would have thought of bruschetta and salmon together, but it was great. Then I decided I didn't want to walk around the city after dark by myself. So I came back to the hotel, got some more free wine, and spent some quality time with the internets, which have greatly missed my presence this week. Now I'm just back from my last conference session, waiting for it to be time to wing my way back through the skies to The Professor, The Cats, and Life As I Know It.

Friday, November 07, 2008

More of the fun that I had on Wednesday

It was Wednesday night. I had survived the panic attack, I had re-met a lovely French lady (I don’t remember her name – is it bad that I call her Juliette in my mind? Complete with the pronunciation that Meg Ryan used in French Kiss? Because I totally think of her as JJhhuuliette); I got to my hotel with no incident, checked in and totally fell in love with my room – here’s why: This wing of 5 rooms has only been open for 10 days. Brand new, and I found out later that I was the first person to stay in mine. So, I lounge around for an hour looking at maps and restaurants online, chatting with my sister and watching TV– did I mention the free wifi? – and then head out to the conference reception where I find – blessed be! – free wine. I drink about a glass and a half and head back to the hotel on foot. My feet are killing me – I vow that the shoes I am wearing will never be on my feet again after I get to my room – and so I call the Bestest Friend to distract me for the 12 minute walk. It works (I developed a new mantra for her in her classroom: “The Children are the future and the volunteers are free” – say it, BFF!) and I arrive in my hotel ready for another glass of wine. Problem The First : My card key doesn’t work. No problem, they gave me 2! Problem The Second : It doesn’t work either. So I go back to the front desk – it is, of course, across the building - they cheerfully reprogram my keys and I head back. Problem The Third: They don’t work either. I stand in the hallway wondering if this is the kind of place that will mind if I run around in my socks and try to convince myself that someone with a master’s degree should really be able to open a hotel room all by herself. Unfortunately, the lock didn’t listen to me and I had to go back up front the lady working the desk. I want to say right now that this woman was incredibly nice, funny and just an all around great receptionist. I almost looked forward to going up front. Except…Have I mentioned my laptop was on the other side of that locked door? I was beginning the early stages of withdrawal. This time, she gave me some kind of master key that will open any door in the building. As I trekked back down the hallways – they were growing about a yard on each trip – I had fun imagining what was behind all the doors I passed, because some of them weren’t numbered. They could be ANYthing and I wondered if each one held the secret wine stash for the complimentary 5 o’clock cheese and wine fun that I had missed out on. Problem the Fourth: The master key did not work on my room. It did work on the unmarked door next to my room (it was a conference room, no wine in sight). So I begin walking back up front. Have I mentioned I’m lugging around a bag of conference materials which – since I am a librarian – is just full of publishers’ catalogs? This time, the lovely lady sends her assistant with me without pointing out that trained monkeys have fewer problems getting into hotel rooms. But… Guess what? His key doesn’t work either. The lock is completely malfunctioning. We begin our walk back up front. I’m terrified to look at my feet – I’m convinced that by now, they are oozing out of the seams on the sides of the shoes. But then something wonderful happens. Halfway between the desk and my room is the hospitality suite; we meet the angel from the front on our meanderings and she guides me in, seats me at a very comfy table, brings me the newspaper and asks would I like a glass of wine? Red or white? Do I need a cigarette? She has a Camel Light. I take the wine, refuse the cigarette and settle in to watch Brian Williams on NBC talk about President-Elect Obama, OMG I LOVE TYPING THOSE WORDS SO MUCH I HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN. President-Elect Obama. Can you see my grin? Angel floats in the room 10 minutes later to refill my glass and let me know the repairman’s on his way and they would be more than happy to give me another suite to wait in, if that’s what I’d prefer. Later they would bring my stuff to my new room. At this point, I was more annoyed that she was talking over Mr Williams recap of PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA’S life (because we don’t all know the story by heart by now), but she had brought wine, so I just said no thanks and settled back in. 45 minutes later, the repairman – also an incredibly nice person – came and told me he had replaced my lock. He escorted me back to my room – he refilled my wine glass on the way and apologized profusely for the problems. He’s the one that renovated this wing, and he was horrified that the first person to stay in this room was having a problem. I found out he lived in Birmingham 20 years ago, and we chatted about Riverchase. I did NOT add him to my Christmas card list, but I liked him enough to almost ask his name before I realized I was on the slippery slope of making connections with random strangers all over the place and never remembering any of their names. I may have flirted a little, but I blame it on the wine and the fact that he was reconnecting me with my laptop which I hadn’t touched in TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I have to say that a hotel that cures all its problems with complimentary wine is a place that I will be happy to stay in the future.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My Yankee Husband’s Bad Influence Has Made Me Suspicious Of Everyone

While I was sitting in the Atlanta airport finishing my last post and trying to forget that in another 45 minutes I’d be on yet another plane, I noticed a woman watching me. She was a little older than I am and she seemed to be alone. And she stared at me and her book for equal amounts of time during the 30 minutes that I typed. I had my back firmly against a wall and kept her in my peripheral sights as I did my thing. I’m not usually a paranoid person, but in large airports and strange cities I tend to be more aware. And when my dearest-darling-life-giving laptop is in my clutches, I’m like a mother with a premature baby in the middle of a crowd: convinced that every molecule approaching is the one that will bring an infection and yank the precious baby away. Where do I get my metaphors? Anyway, I kept her in my sights. She had a book, but she was only looking at it half the time. She stood up and walked in front of me once, and I waited to see where she would settle in a new seat so that I could discreetly get up a few minutes later and move in the opposite direction. Instead she walked away and then walked back. And sat down and kept glancing at me every few minutes. I started to tell myself that I was being paranoid – she’d never met my eyes as I glanced at her; maybe she was looking at someone else? Maybe there was a spider on the wall behind me, and she was waiting in case she needed to save my life? Maybe she was figment of my freaking-out imagination? I packed up my laptop and got in line to board the plane, and guess what? You’ll never guess. I wound up sitting behind the woman on the plane. I did meet her eyes as I passed her seat and she smiled at me, lowered her eyes and blushed. AHA! It could only mean one of two things: She had picked me out to commit some horrible act of violence upon or….she’s in love with me. Since it wouldn’t be the first time a woman has hit on me, and since I tend to go with the happier of two solutions, I silently voted for the love-factor. When she turned around in her seat to speak to me, I was still debating which was right. “You do not remember me, I don’t think?” An accent. She definitely had a French accent. The only person I “know” that is French is definitely male – and married to one of my best friends. IF he’d had a sex change operation, I would’ve heard about it. So, no, lovely yet strange French lady. I don’t know you. And now I’m chatting with a total stranger in a plane. Damn it, I have become my sister. “I think you were in France a few years ago?” she volunteered. Um. I was? Oh yeah! I was in Paris two and a half years ago. But…again, the only person I knew while I was in Paris is back in the Deep South, still male, and very still speaking sans accent. And I’m still chatting with her. Damn it, I don’t need another person to make cookies for. “You helped me. In the airport. My baby was sick on my blouse, and you picked up his toy and washed it for him? You remember?” Well, Holy Vomit Batman. Yes I do. She was walking into the bathroom in front of me in THE WORST AIRPORT EVER – Charles de Gaulle – and her very small baby chose that moment to lose his cookies all over her. She dropped his toy on the floor, and I picked it up and washed it for her and handed it to him on the changing table while she changed her shirt in the middle of the bathroom. We barely exchanged a word. I assume that I finished what I had gone into the bathroom to do – it was probably to remind myself that I still loved my husband, because I DO remember that we had a huge fight in the middle of Charles de Gaulle. So I ended up chatting with her for a few minutes (I did not ask for her address to send her a Christmas card – I may have become my sister, but I have not become my godmother. Yet.). I have no French beyond vous lez vous coche a vec moi, and I speak English entirely too fast, but she DOES speak English quite well. And right before she turned around to put her seatbelt on, I asked how in the world she recognized me – because I had looked her straight in the eyes and not known her at all. She smiled and said something to the effect that if I had had a small baby, and a total stranger helped me, I would remember too. “Also,” she smiled. “The eyes. You have very beautiful blue eyes and all that red hair. It’s a shame we are both married to men, no?” Well. I don’t know that it’s a shame – but I welcome compliments on my eyes from all comers. Moral of the story: Baby vomit creates international relationships.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Surviving the panic attack

I wrote this in the middle of a layover. I’m posting it unedited 6 hours later because…well, hell, because this is my blog and I CAN. Obviously, I survived. I’ve never been a lover of airplanes. They get me less and less efficiently from point A to point B on every trip, but for some destinations – say, Europe – they really are necessary since I don’t have the kind of vacation time it would require to cruise back and forth across the Atlantic. I’ve learned that I’m going to be nervous. That the first step on the plane is accompanied by the tightening of a tail that evolution still hasn’t convinced my body is unnecessary; the deep-lung-breath of air that holds me over til the next deep one comes when I set foot off the plane; the temporary hand-clutching that slowly eases as I make my way to my seat. It’s a ritual. I was raised Catholic – I’m good with rituals. Sit in the seat, open the book. Read merrily along through jostling, crying babies, The Stewardess Address, The Captain’s Welcome. When the plane actually begins to move, my eyes close, I say a prayer to the first saint that comes to mind, and then I concentrate on breathing and pretend to read until the plane is winging it’s way through the air that surely it was never meant to occupy. I’ve flown many times before. I’ve flown alone. I’ve flown with a large group. I’ve flown with just a few people. I’ve flown through turbulence so bad that 20 people I knew personally were throwing up in their bags. I’ve sat next to a pregnant woman who had a seizure and threw up on me, causing my own gag reflex to rear its head. I’ve flown across the ocean a few times and I’ve flown around the US. I’ve spent hours watching movies, sleeping, reading, talking, eavesdropping. So why in the name of all that is holy did I have a freaking panic attack this morning as the wheels left the ground? I broke out in a cold sweat. I clenched my hand so hard that I still have indentations in my hand. I took deep breaths and got scared looks from the woman next to me. 50 minutes later, when the plane landed in Atlanta, I felt a relief on the level that I felt last night when I realized My Guy won. Where the hell did that come from? And how am I supposed to get on a plane in another 80 minutes? Funny thing - the second half of the trip? No big deal. I dozed, I read. What the heck was that about?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is what ELATED looks like

Election Day. I'm Scared. Hold Me.

I voted - there was almost no line at 2 PM. My hand was shaking. Have I mentioned I'm terrified? I'm supposed to be packing for my conference. I need to triple check my travel orders and reservations. I need to make those stuffed mushrooms for the election party tonight. I need to clean the litterbox, take out the trash, put the recyleables in my car, charge all my batteries... But I'm glued to the TV - and they're NOT REPORTING anything yet since, ya know, there's like a half a day left til this thing's over. Please, dear God, Zeus, Flying Spaghetti Monster - Anyone Who Will Help - let this be over today, in whatever time zone that today ends. Please don't make me get on a plane tomorrow while there's still 24/7 discussion about who might win because no one knows that I'll miss out on. I'm beginning to think the Taco Bell I had for lunch was a bad idea.