“Fastidious taste makes enjoyment a struggle.”
– Mason Cooley
The science of Recommendations seems, to me, to be very imprecise.
Pandora, set to my station of summery, party, of-no-artistic-value-whatsoever music, was feeding me a lively stream of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and other culturally reprehensible choices. And then suddenly, out of no where, an unmistakable disco beat. And then, “Ah, ah ah, ah, stayin’ alive! Stayin’ alive!” Who ordered the Bee Gees?
Then later on Amazon.com, Small Dog’s personal crack, I was casually leafing through their recommendations for me. They defy logic. Wondering what had possessed it to recommend Conan the Barbarian I clicked on it to see why. Answer: because I once ordered Planet Earth.
“There will be a rain dance friday night, weather permitting.”
– George Carlin
I have an extraordinary pair of shoes. Not in the Christian Louboutain sense, or even the “By Jupiter, what on earth is she wearing on her feet?!” sense. I mean truly out of this world, inexplicable, baffling-to-science bizarre.
They were discovered at Target, sitting prettily on a shelf and on sale. “Purple flats with a J. Crew like ruffle?” thought Small Dog to herself, “Sold!” I happily tossed them into my basket and continued shopping, little knowing the fate that lay ahead of me.
The first time I wore them, it started raining on the way to work and I had to make a mad dash for the office, carefully holding my trousers at my calves to minimize water damage. They are suede-like and therefore absorbed at least a couple of deep puddles as I crossed the parking lot, and didn’t let a single drop of moisture escape. I had the squishy, uncomfortable sensation of walking around in sopping moss all day long.
Undeterred I wore them again a few days later and it started raining while I was at work and didn’t let up until late in the night. Which meant that, due to running errands for the department and fetching the officers’ laundry, my feet were soaked for several hours before I got to go home.
Mere coincidence, surely! All the same, they were regulated to the back of my closet for a couple of weeks to be on the safe side. But the next time I wore them I still came home looking like a drowned duck (and that time it managed to both rain and snow), so they were unceremoniously flung back into the closet to learn how to behave better towards their patient, shoe-loving mistress.
However, this morning in the scramble to get ready, the inevitable happened. It was the day that I’d be assigning dozens of students their security gear for the 4th of July festivities and I knew better than to wear heels. I could only find one half of the pair of flats I intended to wear and so, at a loss, I pulled them out again, gave them a quick talking to, and popped them on. The day passed without incident and scorching desert summer temperatures until late afternoon when the clouds rolled in (seemingly from nowhere!) and unleashed a torrent. Lacking windows I hurried to Susie and Wise’s office to see for myself, just in time to see a river of rain come rushing down a walkway from the quad and a broken branch whiz by. A boy was walking against the wind, which was so fierce that his umbrella had wrapped around his head and shoulders, and nearly blew him off the sidewalk.
It was also time to go to the laundry to pick up the officers’ laundry. The three of us watched in dismay as it got worse and worse while it got closer and closer to closing time. Susie was a dear and said she’d help me as soon as we saw a break in the clouds and finally one came and we sprinted down the hall (much to the shock of a couple of officers who managed to dodge out of our way). We threw bags of laundry over our shoulders, pushed past two sets of doors at a dead run, and were halfway across the parking lot when the skies reopened. I managed to hit the unlock button on the key chain and yank open the van’s door and we both catapulted into its relative safety. And then, because she was wearing a white skirt that had been soaked and didn’t want to make the situation worse by walking through an office entirely of men, we both climbed over the seats (without a lot of dignity) and headed off to the cleaner together. By the time we got back the storm was over, though the city was littered with leaves and shattered branches. And I still had to go to dinner and do a presentation in dripping shoes, and shudder when Susie mentioned some sort of infection or other that she knew of that came from wet feet and was nastier than Athletes Foot.
Anyone suffering from a particularly bad drought? Because I have the perfect footwear for your next Rain Dance.
“Electricity is really just organized lightening.”
– George Carlin
We have card swipes on the doors to the secure areas of the department. Today while sliding my card through the reader, I got a jolt of power through my arm. Much like the time I unscrewed the bulb from a night light when I was seven (old enough to know better) and stuck my finger in the gap to see what it felt like. Don’t recommend it.
Later in the room where I take peoples’ fingerprints, the light wasn’t turning on. I flipped it a couple of times with no result until suddenly the lights buzzed into life…while the switch was in the “Off” position.
I’ve also been on the receiving end of two static shocks today.
“‘Tis pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures; And all are to be sold, if you consider Their passions, and are dext’rous; some by features Are brought up, others by a warlike leader; Some by a place–as tend their years or natures; The most by ready cash–but all have prices, From crowns to kicks, according to their vices.”
– Lord Byron, Don Juan canto V, st. 27
Holidays are fun, regardless of nationality. Take today: Cindo de Mayo. Some people celebrate with chips and salsa, some with a fiesta, some with mariachi bands. And some with bribery.
A certain student is banned from driving on campus. This is due in large part to him accumulating up to four tickets in one day, parking in service/handicapped stalls, trying to fight our student officers, and claiming that he never received information that three people all told him (at the same time, in the same room together). He was informed he had the ability to appeal the ban but would not be able to bring his car onto campus until a final decision had been made. He said he understood and left.
Today he came into our office, and asked for Red.
“You know about Cinco de Mayo, right?” he asked. “It’s today. So I brought you this.”
He held out a small packaged piece of tres leches cake with a meaningful expression.
“K, bye” he said quickly and hurried out.
Five minutes later we found his car in a non-student parking lot.
The real mystery here is, if he were trying to circumvent parking rules, why did he draw attention to himself by 1) attempted bribery and, 2) (and this is more perplexing) leaving his emergency lights flashing merrily away for over an hour?
How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Or any holiday for that matter?
“It’s an area of Dublin that still has lots of character. It hasn’t been yuppified to ****.”
Lisa’s spirits started a slow slither. She was desperate to live in a place that had been yuppified to ****.
– Marian Keys, Sushi for Beginners
Every once and a while a strange urge takes hold of me, shakes me around a bit as I struggle to be free of its grasp, and and is finally, forcibly thrown off while I stagger around gasping and trying to reorient myself. It’s the (understandable but currently impractical) desire to have an upwardly-mobile-ish change to our lifestyle.
Nothing desperate, you understand. But maybe…an in-house dishwasher (that isn’t J., I mean). Or a newer flat that doesn’t have creaky floors (or my Lord and Lady Stompington above us). A second car, one that can manage the highways without 4000 rpms or a using half a tank of gas to get to the city (45 minutes away).
Now, I’m aware that I’m in one of the best phases of my life. Newly (relatively) married, no kids, no mortgages, the ability to do nearly whatever J. and I want. And yet…sometimes I have this strange desire to be just a bit further on. First house together and past renting creaky flats. First pet, instead of surreptitiously googling local breeders and the Human Society at work. First real double income paycheck, instead of single-and-very-small checks on paydays.
Again, I feel as if this an understandable feeling, but I’m constantly shocked by what will trigger the flood of longing. Today Wise and I headed out to get a cake for our monthly department birthday party. The venue was Costco, wherein I have not spent previous quality time. Oh dear.
There were boxes of strawberries that had not yet succumbed to slime and decay. There were bags of frozen chicken that contained more than two or three breasts. There were quality diamonds, iPods, lawn chairs, massive bags of chips, huge bales of toilet paper…yes, it was all very impressive. But, above all, there were SAMPLES.
Wise and I wandered the store sucking down granola, salad, juice, and finally this.
And now, suddenly, I am wrestling the desire for a Costco membership, something I will probably not need until there are more than two of us…solely because I now crave a bottle of Roasted Blackberry Chipotle Sauce. Aren’t I supposed to be craving babies or something? Why do I want a dog and fancy fruit/chili sauce instead?
“There is a peculiar burning odor in the room, like explosives. The kitchen fills with smoke and the hot, sweet, ashy smell of scorched cookies. The war has begun.”
– Allison Lurie
The end of a semester is always a bit sad, largely because we often have a turnover in student employees. Today is Daae’s last day and Sport’s second to last day.
In honor…actually, in mourning…of the day, Wise and I decided that we wanted to do something for them and I said I would make a bunch of cookies for the office. Unfortunately I had my creative writing final which lasted until 8pm (which was a surprising amount of fun, but that’s another post) and then I had to spend half an hour Harley (yes, I named it), so I didn’t open my cupboards until 9:30 which is when I discovered we had no butter – or milk, or bread, but who’s keeping tabs?
(Side note: We go through butter at an alarming rate. Perhaps I should up my Harley time to an hour?)
So, off to the store. While I went in with the best of frugal intentions, I came out with butter, milk, bread, apples, oranges, carrots, dried fruit, yogurt, English muffins, granola bars, vegetables, chocolate chips, and evaporated milk. Oops.
Then I got to work whipping up a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and thanking Mum and Dad for the foresight of getting me an industrial sized Kitchen Aid for a wedding present. It was all going swimmingly until I pulled the first pan out of the oven.
Something had gone terribly wrong. They didn’t look like cookies at all, they looked like scones. But they didn’t taste like scones, they tasted like incredibly dry biscuits. But they didn’t feel like biscuits, the felt like hockey pucks. You can imagine my confusion.
“I am the only person I know who can miss the ground with both feet. While walking!”
At 4:32:05, yesterday afternoon, I tripped while carrying the laundry bags to the car to drop them off at the cleaners.
At 4:32:05:02, suddenly the earth dropped away. That’s the only explanation. I was walking merrily along, and then somehow neither of my feet managed to touch bottom.
At 4:32:05:22, the inexorable tug of gravity made its presence known.
At 4:32:05:46, due to the many years of experience I’ve had with this sort of thing, my only working thought was, “Oh, bother.”
At 4:32:05:59, also due to experience, I tried to twist my body such that I would land squarely on my knees without skidding (not that they mind. As far as I can tell, my knees are used to this sort of abuse).
At 4:32:05:87, with impact approaching, I suddenly realized I was wearing my best trousers.
At 4:32:05:96, thunk!
At 4:32:06:63, I managed to scramble up, assure various passing persons that the only thing damaged is my dignity, and brush myself off when…
At 4:32:06:94, it became very clear that the right knee of my trousers had been shredded.
“You know when you take a puppy to the vet, and it get poked and prodded for hours, and when you get it home it’s drained, exhausted, and loopy for days? That’s you right now.”
Winter has been rough for me this year. My theory is that the lack of sunlight (which by itself doesn’t really bug me, seeing as I like rainy, cloudy, and cold weather just fine) combining with birth control hormones for the first time during the dark half of the year has congealed into a perfect cocktail of winter doldrums.
All I want to do is hibernate. Even if, in spite of the ridiculous things that wake me up occasionally, I get a full night’s rest, I wake up exhausted every day and completely lacking the will to do anything. For a week now I’ve hauled myself out of bed mere minutes before we have to dash out the door to work/school. There’s been a pile of clean clothes sitting on my floor for days because I just can’t muster the strength to sort and store them (sorry, Mum!). We got these great electric toothbrushes for Christmas from J.’s parents which took some getting used to (i.e. splattering the mirror) which I haven’t dealt with in a week. And nature might abhor a vacuum, but not as much as me!
This isn’t just run of the mill laziness and I’ve never been this affected by a season before. I’m in a right dirty winter funk!
I went home with J. for lunch and as we walked in the door, we were met with an overwhelming smell that neither of us could identify. We sniffed dubiously around trying to solve the mystery. We dumped all the bins, lit candles and opened windows to clear the air, but it wasn’t until J. wandered into another room and got a fresh whiff that he exclaimed, “Sesame oil! But…why…how?”