Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Wind In My Hair And Snot In My Head

The purchase of Klaus (that's my new car's name) coincided with two things: the first cool front of the autumn season (Yay!) and a spike in the mold/ragweed that's in the air. So yes I've been riding around with Klaus's top down whenever possible, but the result is that I'm 80% dead due to hardcore seasonal allergies. From the neck up, I'm just a big ol' glob of snot encased in a skull. Sunday--the first day after enjoying Klaus--I woke up and, literally, couldn't speak because my throat was so fucked up. I got some OTC meds, dosed myself, and suffered through the day, only to end up going to bed at 5:45pm, full of NyQuil. It helped. I'm functional now, but really, really gross sounding.

Let's see, what else...

Oh yes! Last night Jaye and I went to Stubb's to see Pavement. We were so lame, we left about an hour into the show, and ended up getting home at 9:45pm. I've pretty much decided that, unless I truly, deeply, insanely love a band, I don't want to go to any more "sold out" shows at Stubb's. It's just NOT enjoyable being crammed into that venue with that many other humans. Especially when the humans you're crammed in there with are all smoking and fairly drunk. It was just an annoy-a-thon from the get-go. And although I really like Pavement, I don't LOVE LOVE LOVE them like I do some other bands, so it just wasn't worth the hassle to stay to the end of the show. Luckily, the next five shows I have tickets to are seated.

I am old. There, I said it.

When I arrived home in my neighborhood after last night's show (top down, of course), there were still news trucks, police cars, and rude-ass gawkers standing outside of this guy's house. Yep. He lived on my street. Sad story. All of it.

Tomorrow night, Bookhart and I are beginning a 6-week writing workshop led by the wonderful Spike Gillespie. I'm beyond excited. I'm hoping it will help me get (what's left of) my mojo back. Plus, the idea of just having 2 hrs. a week dedicated to being creative and getting to hang out with Bookhart as well just makes me way happy.

To celebrate our 2nd anniversary, I booked a little house on the river near the charming little town of Wimberly for a long weekend. It looks adorable, sits on 25 acres, and has 500+ feet of riverfront. Can't wait.

Finally, it looks like my mom and this man she's been dating for several months are getting pretty serious. They're talking marriage. I'm happy for her and am looking forward to getting to know him better. I'm not sure how well The Geej is going to take having to share her precious Dah's affections for the first time ever, but I'm sure she'll adjust. Speaking of The Geej, she is digging Klaus. She said she wantst to grow her hair long enough to put in a ponytail while she's cruising around in the back seat.

That kid...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good vs. Evil

I am not what you would call irresponsible with money. I sock away dollars from each and every paycheck for my 401(k), a Roth IRA, the Geej's college fund, a savings account for my goddaughter, my regular old savings account and a high-dollar life insurance policy that will take care of BH and The Geej should I ever kick the bucket. No one taught me to do this. It's just something that I've always done. I'm a "rainy day" kind of gal. But the very FEW times I've been an idiot with my money, I've had a helluva lot of fun.

Like this one time, pretty soon after I'd graduated from college, I was totally unemployed and had been for months. I was doing some lame ass temp work, but had no permanent prospects anywhere on the horizon. So what did I do? Pulled out the credit card and booked a trip to Seattle to visit my friend Julie who'd moved there a few months prior. I remember the distinct feeling of "I really shouldn't do this" followed quickly by the uncommon feeling of "You know what? FUCK it! I'm doing it!" I booked that sucker, and went and had a blast. We even took an excursion to Vancouver, B.C. (back when a driver's license could get you over the border and back in, no problemo). In fact, I was having so much fun (and had no real commitments to get home to) that I wasn't ready to leave when the time come, so I called and changed my ticket so I could stay a couple more days. And yes, I charged the change fee to my credit card. It took my unemployed ass a LONG time to pay off that trip, but I still remember it fondly.

And each and every time I've gone to Vegas and blown money gambling and on expensive dinners, it wasn't all that responsible of me, but I had a great time, so it didn't bother me too much.

I am by no means perfect, but I'm pretty damn solid when it comes to my finances, and that's something I'm proud of.

So when I start to struggle with something totally frivolous and impractical that I want--something irresponsible that will cost a pretty penny--it is torturous. It's literally like there is a cartoon devil sitting one shoulder and an angel on the other battling it out in my mind.:

"Don't do it Karla May! You'll be sorry!!"

"Dooooooo eeeeeeeeeeeet! It'll be so much fun. It's WORTH it, and you only live once."

The cause of my current struggle?
Yes friends: It's a Volvo C-70 convertible. Isn't it drool-worthy? Yes. Yes it is.

See, I've had convertible fever (CF) for some years now, but I've managed to keep it pretty much in check. I've been known to rent a convertible on occasion to get over a particularly bad spell of CF, and that usually works. For a while. But I'm worried that this current case I've got may do me in.

I'll admit I troll around on from time-to-time looking at what kind of convertible inventory they've got available. You know...just for fun. But this past weekend, I couldn't help myself. I went and took a test drive of a pale blue 2006 Volvo C-70 that had less than 30,000 miles on it. Now mind you, I am in NO POSITION WHATSOEVER to purchase a car. Plus, my current vehicle--which is awesome--is a 2008, so I knew going in that there was no way I was going to try to buy this particular car. But it was SO FUCKING GORGEOUS I had to go and take it for a spin. Which I did. And there are no words to describe how bad I've got the CF now. I am so in love with this make/model of car, it's borderline psychotic. I. Want. One. Like, NOW!! And the little devil just keeps whispering "Do eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet" in my ear. But the angel--practical, level-headed bitch that she is--keeps pulling me back from the brink by whispering disturbing things about "debt" and "lack of job security" and "double dip recession" and "mid-life crisis" in my ear.

I hate that damn angel. She's a real buzzkill.

So, for now at least, I'm going to keep driving and paying on my Practical Small 4-Cyl. SUV. BORING!! But someday, my friends. Someday the devil's gonna win this one.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Le Sigh

August is by far my least favorite month of the year. It's always so fookin' hot and (usually) everything is burned up and dying and brown and crispy. It's just part of living in Texas, but it sucks. Its days are long and relentless, and--as if to seriously fuck with me--it seems like the universe always ensures that August is also insanely busy (both personally and professionally). So I am never EVER sad to tear turn the calendar over and see September looking back at me. But it's an utter mind fuck. Even though the kids are in school and football has started and pumpkins and Halloween candy are appearing in the stores, it's STILL so damn hot.

August pisses me off, but September? September just depresses me.

And so here we are.

I am melancholy, tired, headachy, and generally disgruntled, and I blame it ALL on September.

At least I've got tickets to a lot of live performances by bands/comedians I love coming up between now and mid-November:
The Pixies
Sufjan Stevens
Aziz Ansari
Ray LaMontagne/Levon Helm
Tim and Eric's Awesome Show
Louis C.K. know...yay.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I am not psychic.

There is a lot up in the air in my life right now, and most of it has to do with my work situation. I won't bore you with the gritty details, but basically the future of my small team--what we do and how we do it--is being discussed in Meeting Rooms by Head Honchos this week. We know change is coming, but we don't know how drastic the changes will be or what we'll look like as a team in two weeks...two months...two years. Normally, I would find all of this uncertainty very upsetting, but I'm actually pretty chilled out about it, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Here's what I DO know:
--I have worked for this company for more than FIVE TIMES longer than I've worked anywhere else.
--Over the past two years, my team has been through some pretty intense shit team-dynamic wise. It was not fun or pretty. But we all learned a shit-ton from it, and we're all better and smarter because of everything went down.
--Since my team's creation (in late 2003), our company has never been quite sure what to do with us. Our existence was something that employees wanted, but not necessarily something the company leadership knew how to support. We've had to figure out everything for ourselves along the way. We've had some stunning successes and some dismal failures and some just-plain-meh outcomes, but thankfully, the successes have been the most plentiful.
--I am insanely proud of the people on my team and the work we've created.
--Sometimes I get to be very creatively engaged and challenged at work, and that is fucking awesome.
--I get to laugh a lot at work.
--My team has been with me through a foriegn adoption, two brushes with cancer, surgeries, illness, marriage and lots and lots of work drama. They've seen me at my strongest and weakest, and because of that, I feel like they're part of my family and would do almost anything to support them and keep them safe.

So whatever happens to this thing we've given our blood, sweat, and tears to to create, we'll be okay. I'm not psychic, but I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And now for something completely different:

You know, it's been a while since I blew your MINDS with some of my "Old Weird Cookbook Finds". This one is a particular favorite, and I've actually been meaning to blog about it for some time, but because I'm a nice person, I actually gave the chick over at Cake Wrecks the opportunity to post this FIRST, but she didn't respond to my email, so you know, screw her.

So may I humbly present, "Animal Cut-Up Cakes"

Timmy what kind of cake would you like for your birthday? Spiderman? Really? Well too bad, because you're getting Tortie the Turtle!!
Oh quit crying, Timmy! There's no need to be afraid. The green hairy turtle will really be quite yummy!

What's that Mary? You'd like a princess cake? Well too fucking bad, because you're getting Teddy Bear for your birthday!
I know it looks like a mutant bear/bunny with horrible soulless eyes, but he's just here to make you happy!

Now listen kids, quit your crying!! You don't want to end up like The Cut-Up Kids.

THEY didn't appreciate the wonderful birthday cakes THEIR mommy made for them, and she lopped off their arms! You don't want that to happen to you, now do you?

And just think, in a few months, we'll also be able to enjoy the decapitated head and mournful eyes of Dear-ie the Reindeer! There's no WAY Santa will be making it to all the children's houses on Christmas Eve since his lead reindeer's head will be on a platter in the middle of our table!! We're going to ruin Christmas for everyone!!

Ho Ho Ho, indeed!!

All of these fine culinary creations have been brought to you by the fine people of Baker's Angel Flake Coconut.

Baker's--When you want your dessert to taste like heaven's dandruff.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reality Checked

For some time now, I've been fantasizing about a new house.

Wait, let me back up.

When I bought my house (which will be five years ago, this November), it was with two things in mind:

1. It was a starter home--an investment. I never planned on staying in it longer than 5 - 7 years. The plan was to upgrade to something a little bigger and nicer (and in a better school district) when the time came.

2. The Geej and me were the only (human) residents. So the 1,660 sq. foot, 3 bdrm., 2 bathroom home suited us just fine.

Well, a lot has changed in the past five years, the biggest being that I got married to BH, which meant that the Geej and I were no longer sole full-time occupants of the house. And many weekends, BH's ever-growing sons join us for a few days. Add to this the fact that BH pretty much works at home full time (unless he's out in the field or at a meeting), and our little starter home now feels way too small.

So last year, when the tax credits for home buyers (and move up-ers) were available, I really wanted to put our place on the market. But there were some things we wanted to get done to it prior to listing it, so we created a list of home improvement projects. My goal was to get the critical stuff done and the house listed by the end of January, 2010. We had a bit of momentum with our project list (new oven! new dishwasher! master bathroom repainted and improved! bedrooms repainted!), but the momentum stalled out, and the January deadline (and eventually the tax credits) passed us by.


Ever-hopeful and feeling the walls closing in around me, I suggested to BH that we start going to open houses so that--even if we weren't in the position to sell our place and buy another one--we could at least figure out what kinds of houses we both like and what neighborhoods are most appealing to us. And look we did. Almost every Sunday we were out there checking out the 4/2 inventory in southwest Austin. The more we looked, the more we came to agree on the things that were important to us in a home and a community. We started to find some places we REALLY liked, and I began mentally moving in. But it wasn't long before the whole exercise just made me begin to dislike our house and become increasingly frustrated with the stagnation of our current position.

Things came to a head last week, and BH had "The Big Talk About Money". After our talk, we agreed that we're not in a position to purchase a new place right now, and that the economy is simply too shitty right now to consider putting our house on the market. Yes, I'm disappointed in this outcome--I'd be lying if I said otherwise. However, now that I KNOW that, for at least the next two years (or until the economy gets healthier) we'll be staying put, I'm not quite so frustrated. I think.

Now, I just want to focus on getting some of these goddamned projects we've had on the list for way over a year tackled. Things that will make the next two years (or more) in our house a nicer experience--new floors, fixing the front sidewalk that ALWAYS floods when it rains, replacing the back fence, getting some better insulation in the attic and replacing our horrible single-pane windows, maybe putting a soaking tub in the master bath (and getting rid of the godawful fiberglass tub...I have NEVER taken a bath in my own house because of my hatred of these tubs), new front door, another rain barrell, etc. The list is long and expensive, and NONE of these improvements will give us more space or magically create a home office for BH. However, it will make me feel like we're doing SOMEthing rather than sitting on our hands and will, hopefully, help me find a way to love my little starter home again.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Once upon a time...

I started a blog post about some stuff, got about 10 minutes into it and walked away. That was about a month ago. And since then, I've convinced myself that I'm too tired/too uninspired/too busy to blog. Blog avoidance has become an increasingly easy thing to do for me, but for whatever reason, I can't simply give it up.

I NEED to write. And not just Facebook updates or Tweets. But carving out that space in my day and my mind has become damn near impossible.

I recently went to New York for work. It was my first trip there in at least seven years. I fell in love with that city like never before. I went to parts of town I'd never seen--the upper west side, Harlem, Morningside Heights, Hell's Kitchen, Brooklyn. It was magical. I could never ever live there--it's just not suited for my personality. But man is it ever a wonderful place to visit. While there, I got to spend some quality time with one of my most favoritest people, my friend Tom. He's writing a novel, and he's shaping his life around the writing of it. He's arranged his work schedule so that he works from 11am to 7pm. He wakes up each morning and spends 2 hours writing while his mind is still fresh. He arrives at work in a better mood. And then when he comes home, he doesn't feel the pressure to write when he's mentally and physically done with the day. He is, understandably, happy with this situation. And I am forest green with envy. He has also planned a 5-day trip to Chicago (where he used to live and where the novel is set) to do a bit of research, but mostly to immerse himself in the place and write, write, write. Fucking lucky bastard.

Granted, he doesn't have a family (he's single, no kids) and he's got a VERY generous time off policy (unlike me who currently has 3 hours in my time off bank), so he can DO this kind of stuff. I am proud of him beyond words. But his ability to mold his life around his passion for writing only makes it more painfully obvious how impossible doing the same would be for me. I can't even imagine what kind of machinations and sacrifices it would require to commit to the art of writing like he has.

And so I grab the random creative impulse (I wrote a haiku about rain lillies yesterday while I was driving to get The Geej for a doctor's appointment), and try and subsist on what little nourishment it provides my soul. I also take advantage infrequent moments like this one (I've arranged with BH to stay late at work, finished what I needed to for the day, and am not having to rush out the door to get home) and try to utilize it to, you know, write. But this that I'm writing? Not very inspirational, is it. It's like one big ol' pity party for myself.

How do I find the balance between what I have to do, which is be a wife, a mother, a working/bill-paying member of society, and what I want to do, which is focusing on and exercising my creative mind? I have almost no solitude, ever, and I feel like I have to ask permission for "me time". Then when I actually HAVE some time for myself, I have a list of 10,000 things I need to do, and none of them is "sit your ass down and write".

Oh, what to do, interwebs. What to do...