Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We all have invisible warning labels...

As a child, I was often told (in response to whatever poor behavior I was currently inflicting upon the household), “you’re worth more than that; behave like you’re worth more than that.” My initial response: Really? Because bribes and threats have served you so well thus far. Why reach for the psych manual now?

Thinking back on it, it might have started around the same time my mother was doing her post graduate work in shrinkage. I was used to "and tell me how you feel about that," so I was wary at first. But "you're worth more than that" repeated over and over again eventually wore a groove in my immature brain until, you know what? I was worth more. I was smart, entertaining, cute, funny and, above all, special. Special meant I was worth more in the grand cha-ching of things. Even without a parental presence, it popped into my mind on its own accord whenever I did something I shouldn't have (like inviting every 8th grader in the neighborhood over to watch MTV while mom was at work). But in my child’s mind, the phrase changed over time like a game of “telephone,” the iterations shifting slightly with each use. Eventually, the mantra changed from “I’m worth more” to “I cost a lot.”

In case it isn't clear, I'm not talking about currency. I'm talking about time, energy, emotion, motivation, expectation, appreciation, consideration, respect, support, and so on, and so on.

I eventually stopped believing that I was a magical princess kidnapped and raised by ordinary people, or thinking I was better than the other brats because I put my napkin in my lap when I sat down at the table, but I never really slowed the scroll inside my own head: I....Cost....A....Lot...

As a result, my adult self feels obligated to warn him before he gets too attached: I might be amusing, but I'm not always fun. I have many moods and none of them want to call you "honey bear." I'm cute, but I can be really mean. I am not a bargain. I am dear. I cost a lot.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The first day back to work after a three-day weekend usually sucks, but...

today must be an exception. I woke up in a good mood before my alarm went off (probably because I took a pill last night and went to bed at 10:30 instead of the usual 1 a.m.). I'm starting to get excited about my upcoming trip to NYC (for an essay writing workshop next week) instead of all tense and anxious about having to fly there. I'd been in my office less than an hour when an anonymous messenger-type-person dropped off a print of a Betty Boop photo I fell in love with last week (thanks, Jason!). My friend Mindy is in town this week for Spoletians. We're finally all moved in and my new office rocks. And I think the Nicorette gum I've had "parked" in my mouth all morning is working.

What more could one ask for?

Monday, May 29, 2006

You know, that novel you've been working on? For the past three years?

I know I've gone on and on about my love for Family Guy (and Seth Macfarlane) ad nauseum, but occasionally I will find something useful that I can apply to my day-to-day life.

The next time you need a little motivation to quit sleeping/watching tv/smoking that stuff/scratching yourself/procrastinating like nobody's business and start working on that novel/short story/screenplay/manifesto, watch this (link has sound and video).

Sunday, May 28, 2006

You can't just say...

You can’t just say to a friend, new or old, “I need to trust you. I need you to listen to me. I need you to hear me. I need you not to judge me. I need you to reciprocate.”

Or maybe you can.

I can't.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's funny the way people fall in love...

Sometimes when he left my apartment, I would stand at the door and watch him walk down the metal stairs. He would pause on the landing, lean out, and look over the edge of the railing before continuing his descent.

After I'd watched him do it a half dozen times, I called out to him, “why do you do that?”

He looked up at me, standing in the doorway, from where he stood on the landing. “Do what?”

“Why do you look over the edge?”

He paused, then said, "Because I like to know what I’m getting myself into.”

That made me smile, just that once.

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's been months since my last Cat Post, so don't freak out or anything...

I've been working at home this week while our office is in the throes of moving from our current location to a larger one around the corner. Besides the lack of ringing phones, being able to do my laundry while I work, not wearing makeup or blow drying my hair, and listening to the new Goldfrapp CD at top volume, I also get to work with my home office buddy who is thrilled to tiny little pieces that I am here all day. She doesn't contribute a lot, but has mastered the art of the well-timed interruption (I had a brainstorm while being summoned to open the bathroom window so she could sit in the sill and watch the birds, plus I know she won't forget to let me know when it's time for lunch).

Meow.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Today, I will spare you...

...the incessant whining, the navel-gazing, the bitching, the carping, the harping, and the griping. I am not even going to go on and on about how every time I get a little tearful at my doctor's office she sends me home with a bag full of antidepressants (can't a girl just get her cry on every now and then without being accused of clinical depression?).

And that's all I'm going to say about that. You can thank me later.

"Someone's boring me. I think it's me."
~ Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"If you're gonna eat mat, you eat mat hard."

Since I can never get back the 103 minutes I spent watching this piece of crap last night, I feel obligated to warn the rest of the world. I'm not going to tell you whose idea it was (Michael's), but Michael and I went to see Stick It. Before you say that I was just asking for it, you should know that it was written and directed by the woman who wrote Bring it On, one of the Greatest Movies of All Time, so I thought it was a sure thing. It wasn't.

Here's the lowdown from IMDB:
After a run-in with the law, Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is forced to return to the world from which she fled some years ago. Enrolled in an elite gymnastics program run by the legendary Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges), Haley's rebellious attitude gives way to something that just might be called team spirit.

Here's my synopsis:
OOH! A GIRL on a DIRT BIKE?!? What a stunt! But she's really a gymnast...a REBEL gymnast with a REBELLIOUS ATTITUDE. Here's some stupid girls who hate her (we know they're stupid because they misuse words), here's how she wins them over, here's how much of a REBEL she is. Oh, and here's some old dude who got injured like a million years ago and (ooh!) he's a HARDASS...with a heart of gold. Wait, why is she such a REBEL? Because her parents...(pause for dramatic effect)...got DIVORCED. How traumatic. Nothing happens, nothing happens, some gymnastics, nothing happens, heartwarming crap, movie over. I'm crying because I'm happy it's over. Michael is crying because I just told him they don't have a 30-and-over age class at gymnastics school. The one other person in the theater is crying because she missed the last half of the movie while she was chatting on her cellphone.

The funniest part was before the movie even started when Michael convinced me that they ran the "please turn off your cell phone" promo three times because the guy in the projection booth could see me typing on my Blackberry. At first I was like, "NUH-uh!" but then the promo played AGAIN and Michael said, "see? It's YOU, put it away." I put it away.

The only other thing I can say is that this movie was supposed to be good. I can't imagine what happened, but I'm SUPER disappointed, y'all. This one's going in the bargain bin right next to From Justin to Kelly.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Today I need this more than you do...

I wanted to make a list of the reasons why I feel disgruntled and anxious today (rushing to get here and there, scary-bad SUV drivers, nicotine withdrawal, bills, boredom, blah, blah...) but I decided I need a different list if I'm ever going to change my world.

"The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy." ~Eudora Welty

Recent pleasure trips:
Adult Swim, a blog about book covers, an optimistic mermaid, healthy snacks, finding a whole other world in a random documentary from my Netflix list, listening to my favorite NPR show , surprising my mother yesterday with a gift that made her smile, celebrating my sister Katie's birthday now that she's officially older than I am, turning farmer's market vegetables into a lovely ratatouille , Monday movie night, and finding my high school yearbooks the day after I stopped looking for them and went digging in my memory instead.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hey there, lonely girl...

One of my nieces had a birthday last month and we went to dinner on a Sunday afternoon. Her mother let her choose the restaurant, so IHOP it was (I'd have gone for fine dining, even at 16, but the kid loves her some IHOP). So the fam and I are making small talk, I'm picking at a spinach salad, and out of the blue my older niece asks, "now that Michael's gone, aren't you LONELY?"

My first instinct was to ask her if the question was directed at me, since she'd spent the earlier part of the meal chatting on her cell phone. But I don't comment on the kids' manners anymore, mostly because I take a happy pill before family dinners and no longer care, and also because we were at an International House of Pancakes.

What I wanted to say: "Listen, kiddo. First, Michael was my roommate and friend, not my constant companion. He has always had his own life and I have mine. Second, he didn't die; he lives in his own house now less than a block away. Third, we're both over 30 and need our own space. Fourth, I lived alone before Michael moved in. I loved living alone then; I love it now. I have always liked being alone and my biggest problem in any (romantic) relationship I've had has always been lack of room to breathe. I need my space. Finally, I just don't get "lonely" and I'm not sure I'd know it if I did. Maybe I do and just don't recognize it as "loneliness." But I think just from hearing other people talk about it...well, I'm not lonely. My time is my time, all the time, and I like it that way.

But I didn't get into all of that. I have a "no deep discussions at houses-o-pancake" rule. Plus, it was a legitimate question from someone who has never lived alone. What I said was: "Naked time." Seriously, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is drop trou. When you live with someone else platonically, it's really not polite to lounge on the couch in your underwear (or anything less than your underwear). But when you live alone, if you want to paint the ceiling while listening to The Ramones at 3am wearing only a drop cloth tied around your neck like a cape, that's your prerogative.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Swing Your Partner ‘Round and ‘Round, Turn Your Corner Upside Down

After my biological father (I say that like I have another kind of father...) married his (much younger) second wife, they used to wear matching t-shirts. Without irony.

I was only 11, but I thought it was the tackiest thing EVER when he showed up in his stupid tiny sportscar with some awful Beefy Tee emblazoned with an island resort, beer, or marathon logo (they were both quite fond of frequent vacations, drinking, and running, which is why the divorce baffled me so) tucked into jeans. She'd be sitting there, passenger side, with the same t-shirt on, fake boobs, orange makeup, and tons of gold necklaces. "What a couple of a-holes," my 11-year-old self exclaimed. "What dorks."

To this day, whenever I see a couple wearing matching outfits, I think, "second wife." Unless they're wearing square dance clothing, which you will often see at Shoney's at 11pm. Square dance people are supposed to match and I can't hold that against them.

Circle left and promenade.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Why I hate chain seafood restaurants, or "Tiny Oysters, Once Frozen, Make me Sad..."

Despite the fact that we grew up in a coastal southern city and access to some of the best fresh seafood restaurants in the world, my younger sister loves to eat at the chains. She lives in Hilton Head, which also has some wonderful seafood, but will elect to drive to Savannah and eat at Red Lobster. In Charleston, she swears the crab legs at the Noisy Oyster or Crab Shack are better than the ones we can get at dining establishments on the water. I used to resist, but now - with the 18-month-old nephew who requires a high chair and as many packages of Saltines as it takes to leave a cracker dust pile you have to step over - I no longer voice my disapproval when she picks a restaurant.

And that is how I ended up at one of the chains on Rivers Avenue this weekend, gazing at a platter of "fresh" oysters, none bigger than a nickel. But did I complain? No. I piled them six at a time on a cracker with hot sauce and ate two cracker's worth for a mere $8.99. My mother didn't fare quite as well, after ordering "shrimp & grits" and getting a lumpy mass in a bowl that looked like it was topped off with brown gravy from a jar. I tasted it because she made me and the best thing I could say was "gelatinous." I think it was payback for mom teaching the nephew to drink out of a straw, resulting in him going into freakout mode anytime anyone has a drink with a straw in it and won't share. Freakout mode comes complete with whining so high-pitched I thought he was communicating with the tank lobsters, followed by sobbing into his arms folded on the table (which made everyone in the restaurant immediately freeze and offer him a sip from THEIR straws). I think grandma deserves a bad lunch for that one.

Katie gets the same thing every time: snow crab legs. With butter. She cracks them first, depositing the crab meat INTO THE BUTTER BOWL, then eating the whole mess when she's done. I've learned not to comment, first because she's my sister and it makes her happy, and second, because she's vindictive and I would be likely have an empty crab claw or leg secreted in the lining of my shoulder bag, only to be found when the smell got so bad I had to locate the source by tearing the bag apart. Not that it's happened, I'm just sayin'.

In case you're planning on venturing forth, a few words of advice:
Fish isn't supposed to smell like fish. If it does, don't eat it.
Friday night is "Redneck Date Night" at Red Lobster. Unless you're a redneck on a date, it's best to avoid the Land of The Lobsterita in the Take Home Glass.
Don't get into it with the waitress about whether or not the restaurant uses local seafood. They don't and she doesn't care. If you care, you shouldn't be eating there.
Never enter the bathroom. Trust me, you don't want to go in there. Ask for a moist towelette for your hands and hold it until you get home.
And ordering raw oysters in a month without an "R"? Shuck at your own risk.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I hope you didn't come here just to hear me bitch...

Because Garrison Keillor thinks I should suck it up, and he says it better than I could:

"The biggest whiners are the writers who get prizes and fellowships for writing stuff that's painful to read, and so they accumulate long résumés and few readers and wind up teaching in universities where they inflict their gloomy pretensions on the young. Writers who write for a living don't complain about the difficulty of it. It does nothing for the reader to know you went through 14 drafts of a book, so why mention it?" (you have to watch a free ad on Salon.com if you're not a premium member, but it's worth it...)

Keillor didn't mention the unpublished writers who spend more time bitching than actually submitting their work to editors and agents, but I guess that goes without saying. Honestly, writing isn't that hard. Revision is. Working with editors is. Getting rejected is. Being persistent is. Motivating yourself is. But the writing? Piece of cake.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In another life, I was Queen of the Trailer Park...

Nothing against trailers as a low-cost housing alternative, but being raised middle-class and in military housing meant that I never had the opportunity to get my White Trash Girl on. But I know she's in here somewhere.

Case in point: Sitting on the couch last night in cut-off denim shorts (they're from high school and I only wear them because they fit and never out of the house), eating Saltines out of a box (the wheat kind), hair in a scrunchy (I only have them to put my hair up to wash my face), watching VH-1 reruns of Hogan Knows Best, I caught myself thinking, "wrestling kicks ass, y'all" followed immediately by, "dang, a PBR would taste good right about now." If I still drank, I might have finished off a cold 40 and passed out on the couch with a lit cigarette in my hand. In another life, my third husband might be referred to as "Tater Salad," I'd drive a Chevelle SS Malibu with no side windows and a broken taillight, and my best dishes would still have K-Mart price stickers on the back.

Just call me Queen Lerlene of the Airstream on the right.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I will drive past your house and if the lights are all down I'll see who's around...

My friend MK (AKA Morgen at 105.5) interviewed Deborah Harry and Chris Stein (I may have mentioned being her "plus one" at the upcoming concert in June and probably going backstage and probably meeting Blondie and probably being Deborah Harry's new best friend...).

Debbie Harry has been my idol since I was humming "The Tide is High" and chopping the hair off of all my Barbies into bleachy bobs so they would look more like her. When I was listening to MK interview Deb (that's what I'll call her when we're best friends) and Chris Stein, I couldn't concentrate on what they were talking about because I kept screaming (in my head), "DEBBIE HARRY JUST SAID MY FRIEND'S NAME...MK JUST MADE DEBBIE HARRY LAUGH...SHE MAKES ME LAUGH...DEBBIE HARRY AND I ARE THE SAME."

So I'm a little star struck. But now I can go back and listen to the interview as many times as I want to, because DEBBIE HARRY HERSELF (or someone who does her bidding) posted it on the OFFICIAL BLONDIE WEB SITE (right now it's the fourth one down called "The Bridge Interview." Yeah, that's my friend MK talking to Deb and Chris Stein.

And if that isn't enough excitement for one day, the new remix "Rapture Riders" (Blondie's "RAPture" mixed with The Doors' "Riders on the Storm") was one of the songs on Alias last week.

I know it sounds like I'll show up for the concert platinum blonde with ripped fishnets and a No Exit concert t-shirt, but I'm actually way cooler than that. What I said to MK when she called to tell me about the concert tickets and going backstage to meet My New Best Friend Deb: "Do NOT, under any circumstances, let me SPEAK to her."

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Don't talk about me like I'm not here..."

I don't talk a lot here about diabetes because it's really not a huge issue in my life, except when I have a "drink your juice, Shelby" moment like I did this morning. Which is why all I'm good for today are a few Steel Magnolia references, lots of forgetting what I was going to say, and maybe some sleeping. Pink is still my signature color, Jackson still sounds like good people to me, and I saw Drum Eatenton at the Piggly Wiggly this morning and smiled at the son of a bitch before I could help myself.

Truvy: "Well, these thighs haven't gone out of the house without Lycra on them since I was 14."
Clairee: "You were brought up right."

Yes, you were.
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