Sunday, July 30, 2006

Depressing Television

I feel really sad right now, after watching this episode of the A&E tv program Intervention. The first guy mentioned, Mike--he was our chiropractor for almost two years. When you see someone two or three times a week for that long, they get to be a friend. Then, when you find out he has a drug problem--as we did a few months ago--you realize there's a fundamental part of them that is tied up in addiction, and it means you really didn't know them the way you thought you did. He even went to one of Rob's art openings, and was a really kind person, not to mention a talented chiropractor.

You'd never know he was taking speedballs every two or three hours.

I realize I'm talking about him in the past tense. It's because, after watching the show, even with the intervention and rehab we weren't left feeling encouraged about his condition. Apparently he was arrested for basically drunk and disorderly behavior three months after entering rehab, and went back in. They said he's been sober since July 16...that isn't very long.

I can't help feeling an echo of the way I felt when my cousin killed herself, about nine or ten years ago now: you can't help feeling some kind of complicity, wondering if there's something you could or should have done differently; also knowing it's too late.

In Case You Were Wondering

Here's what I was busy doing all last week. Even though my name is nowhere mentioned in the piece, because I was either in my own Welsh class or too busy solving everybody's problems to be found. That's okay. They spelled one of the Welsh sayings totally wrong, anyway, in the text of the article. Plus I could have written a better piece. Oh, wait--I did. In my Magazine Writing class. Sadly, I couldn't seem to interest anybody in the piece. I still have hopes for revising it one day and sending it out again.

In the meantime, the Record article will have to do.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Accursed Heat Prompts Cursing

Pardon my language, but it is FUCKING HOT here. Global warming doesn't exist, my ass. Last night it was 99 degrees at 10:00 pm. What the hell is that?

Our poor, overtaxed, needs-to-be-replaced AC can't handle this weather. Though our thermostat is set at 78, it's currently 87 in the house. This has been the case the past few days--the house peaks at about 88 degrees around 6 pm and then starts to gradually cool, degree by degree, once the sun goes down a bit. It sucks big-time.

Other stuff:

  • I'm currently watching Ladyhawke on HDNet Movies, which I haven't seen since about the time it came out. I had no idea Matthew Broderick, Michelle Pfeiffer, or Rutger Hauer were in it. Michelle Pfeiffer has no right to be so hot.
  • My ex-best-friend's younger sister is an actress. When we were in high school, all the guys thought she was totally hot.
  • Did I mention it was hot?

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm Free! I'm Free!

And heaven forbid I ever agree to help with a conference again. Well, I shouldn't say that, but I'm never again going to be the primary conference organizer for an entire week of residential language classes. I've learned to Just Say No, and I've learned it in extremely painful fashion.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Flickr Fiction (and last post for about a week, probably.)

"Are you sure that's what you wanted?" Their feet crunched in the gravel together, left, right, like a forced march at the side of the road. She could feel the tiny rigid stones jabbing into the soft soles of her feet, soft and uncallused and recently pedicured. She stopped now to pick a stubborn pebble from between her toes, standing on one leg and propping her right foot on her left thigh.

"Yeah, I'm sure," she said.

"How do you even do that?" He changed the subject abruptly, not really wanting to talk about things anyway. He could see her silhouette against the glare of what was left of the sun, dusk eating away at the light like a giant...a giant...roach, maybe, he thought. He wasn't much of a poet. But she still looked like some gangly but graceful stork, balanced there for a moment, getting the stones out of her soft feet.

"I had to do it," she said, and he knew she was trying to explain about before. "You weren't there. You don't know. I...wore those shoes to the funeral, you know. I don't know why I wore them out with him. The first time since Mom's...well, anyway. It was a mistake."

They started walking again, just the sound of their footsteps and a distant train whistle from somewhere back down the tracks, a long way from where they were walking now. A little ways from the wooden trestle bridge where he'd watched in confused fascination as she removed first one high-heeled shoe, then the other, and thrown them into the ravine, arcing high in the air to hang silhouetted in the orange sunset light before plunging down and down. Gone. Game over.

And now it was like starting again, maybe.
***

This week's Flickr Fiction was inspired by this photo by Jose Manuel Torriate, as well as a different photo by Doug Smith that I saw years ago and got inspired to write a short story about. This little piece is like an epilogue to that story, which sorely needs revision. Teaandcakes, Littlegoat, The Gurrier, and TadMack are also participating this week, I think. Click on the links to read their versions.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blow Up the Outside...

Today officially marks Day One of my temporary entry into Steroidville, which is a small subdivision in the Pill City in which I seem to currently reside. I'm seriously taking four different prescription antihistamines now (the doctor added one today) and am also starting a short, weirdly compressed 6-day course of Prednisone.

I don't like living in Pill City, but if I end up without hives at the end of it and can move back out into normal, birth-control-pills-only land, I will consider it worth the trip. Even if I end up gaining five or seven VERY-hard-to-lose pounds like the last time I took a course of Prednisone. Last time I had to double my weekly exercise to about 45 minutes a day, six days a week to even start losing any of the extra weight. Right now I'm at about four days a week for 45 minutes, so hopefully that will help.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Where's My Padded Room?

Okay. I'm officially having my first breakdown during week-before-the-conference madness. Our course t-shirts were delivered to one of the other organizers, but we found out that one area which was supposed to be green was white due to a miscommunication. White for the Sierra Nevada is fine; white for farm fields and the Altamont/Oakland Hills is NOT fine.

I just feel very overwhelmed right now, and very much alone in all this. Rob just sort of seethes if I complain to him, because he's angry about the whole idea of me having had this much responsibility foisted upon me, willingly or not. I'm still covered in stress hives (have been for more or less the past four months, though I'm going to go to the doctor again tomorrow). My house is a mess and I'm behind on all of my REAL work because this has become nearly a full-time unpaid job, most of it reminding people of what they need to do that I told them about a half dozen times already, or doing it myself because they flaked or had an emergency. Apparently I'm not allowed to have emergencies, but everybody else is.

I'm sorry. I'm kind of a downer right now. It's really sad--I used to look forward to this conference every year, but that was before I decided I wanted to "give something back" by "helping."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Upcoming Probable Absence

Don't be surprised if you don't see much of me for the next two weeks. The Welsh course starts (officially) on Sunday, but for me everything is now already hitting the fan. Thursday I start meeting teachers at the airport. My office is already a staging area for large amounts of crap I'm going to lug over (but thankfully most of it won't be returning with me), including 5 zillion photocopies and a wooden sword.

I swear to you I'm never doing this again. If I EVER plan another conference I will have to trust everyone involved with my life before I believe they will be reliable enough to be a part of the planning. This past couple of weeks has been full of people flaking, superfluous e-mailing, and random shit going wrong. Is it too much to ask that I can make one tiny room change to the schedule--recommended by Facilities no less--and NOT have three other room reservations randomly disappear? Apparently the answer is yes, that's too much to ask.

The devil is in the details, friends. How to keep 35 box dinners cool in a bus storage compartment on a 95-plus degree day in Sacramento? Answer: The devil. How to get your suddenly absentee treasurer to actually send you checks you need to pay for things? Answer: The devil. How to find somebody to be the vice-president so that you don't have to stay on as president forever and ever? Answer: The devil, people, the devil. This may not seem to make any sense. Guess what? Now you know how I feel!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Flickr Fiction: The Couch

HIM: "So I says to the guy, yeah, I did that, I'm not proud, sure I'm not, but still, ya know sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. It's, like, the law or something. And then I pull my hand back and I notice I'm wearin' these brass knuckles, like I'm some kinda mobster or something, and somebody grabs that hand and pulls me back, and then I'm falling backwards like there ain't nothing there. You know. Like bungee jumping. You think you're gonna die for a second. The wind is rushing past your ears like it ain't never gonna stop, you know what I'm saying? And then it does, and you bounce back up. Well, this time, I didn't bounce back. I just kept falling and falling. That was when Mazzy shakes me awake, she says, honey, you were thrashing around there like somebody had you by the neck."

HER: "You want to know what I dreamed? I'll tell you what I dreamed. I dreamed this was back before I lost Devon, when I was still pregnant with her and huge, like I was carrying a prize watermelon. Oh, I miss that.

"Anyway, I'm huge and I'm walking down the steps of the church after Jack and me got married when suddenly I can feel my water break. I break out into this huge grin, I can feel it stretching my face, and then I feel the water just gushing and gushing out of me and I know there's something wrong. I look down. The steps are covered in blood, pooling in the cracks and corners and angles. My head spins and I close my eyes, and then I feel the gushing stop. I open my eyes again and look down. I'm not bleeding any more. I'm not pregnant any more. And there's no blood. There's just rose petals, scattered on the concrete, bright red everywhere, falling down in a shower around me. And people are laughing."

DOC: "I would tell y'all that you're perfectly normal, but I think you're both a pair of raving lunatics. All I ever dream about is breakfast."
***

Well, there ya go. Once again it's Flickr Fiction Friday, this time inspired by this photo by YanivG. This one was just me playing around with first-person voices. Chris, Elimare, Teaandcakes, Littlegoat and The Gurrier are also participating this week. Click on the links to read their versions.

Nielsen Day One: Rerun City

It's now near the end of our first day as a trial-period Nielsen family, and I have come to the conclusion that we watch way too much TV, a lot of it reruns. Granted, we're talking quality reruns: The Simpsons, M*A*S*H, Monty Python's Flying Circus. In fact, I just watched the Lumberjack Song on PBS--a classic.

I also saw a lot of commercials. The one that annoyed me the most was a commercial for Frosted Mini-Wheats or something similar. The commercial showed a little girl on stage at a spelling bee. She is asked to spell "aardvark." She begins: "Aardvark: A-R..." At which point a Frosted Mini-Wheat appears on the microphone and prompts her. She corrects herself: "A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K, Aardvark." Everybody applauds wildly.

At the risk of sounding even more like a dork than I usually do, there are several things wrong with this picture. Firstly, and most glaringly, you would never be allowed to correct yourself in a spelling bee once you screwed up. If you say the wrong thing you're just fucked, plain and simple. You're out of there. Bu-bye. And speaking of bu-bye, you can't just prompt people from the audience. It's highly forbidden. That Frosted Mini-Wheat would have been hella kicked out. And lastly, who gets asked to spell "aardvark?" I would have killed for "aardvark." Instead I got "pixilated". Screw that. On the other hand, I got a guy three years older than I was to hate me for several years because I almost beat him. But then he spelled "pixilated" right. Bah.

Perhaps I'm a bit pixilated myself right now--I just re-read that. 1.5 beers isn't exactly going to make me sloshed, though.

I forgot to mention that the Nielsen company sent us $15.00 in cash along with our TV diaries, presumably to compensate us for mailing them back. But cash?? Um, okay. Thanks. Sure. We love Nielsen. Send us more.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rewards for Bad Habits

Rob and I are finally being rewarded for watching so much television. This week--starting tomorrow--we are officially on a one-week trial period to become a Nielsen household. I always wondered how you got hooked up with that. I'm still not sure how we got called by them, unless it's my idiotic willingness to take part in phone-based market research. (I don't know why I do this. One time I answered a half-hour's worth of questions about Snapple. Yes, I'm a dork.)

So this week we're supposed to fill out these detailed TV diaries with everything we watch, when, and who watched it, on which household televisions. Sadly, they will probably love us because we tend to leave the television on when we're doing things like household chores, and therefore our passive media consumption is truly abominable in scope.

They're going to get an inordinate amount of soccer on our TV diaries. We look forward to skewing their results with our strange watching habits.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

It Was Just a Dream!! Really!!

I've been having some really bizarre, probably stress-related dreams lately. Last night, among other things, at one point I was part of a really racy dance number with a number of other South Asian-ish women, wearing only various towels draped over ourselves, to the song "Tattva" by Kula Shaker. Strangely, the number was sort of unrehearsed and we were all watching on a TV screen what we were supposed to be doing.

Later on in the dream, I was hanging out with my friend from Wales, Mark (who teaches Welsh in Swansea and will be at this year's Cwrs Cymraeg), and I was lying on my back on the floor trying to formulate sentences in Welsh in my head so I could tell him what a difficult year this had been, but instead of the word for difficult (anodd) for some reason the word blasus (which means "tasty") kept popping into my head.

Anyway, that leaves me in a rather bizarre mood for this Fourth of July. We plan to watch the Germany-Italy World Cup match on our large television in the noon-ish hour, then go over to a friend's house in the late afternoon for some charring of meat and vegetables on the barbecuing apparatus as well as setting off some small colorful explosives in the street.

By the way, I've been a huge flake the past several days in various situations, and I apologize. I had to get things done for this conference or else I was going to continue in evil-high-stress mode forEVER BWAHAHAHA. So I feel much better after getting some stuff done and will be less flaky now. I think. The Welsh course is in two weeks. I can definitely guarantee a much happier and more productive Sarah after about July 23.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Suckiness

I think my life sucks right now, if only in minor irritating ways that tend to compound and seem larger than necessary. I can't seem to rely on people to do what I ask them to do; that's a biggie right now with planning this conference. And I really need to delegate things because if I don't I will officially go insane and require happy pills, and goddamn it, when I ask people to do something that means I'm actually already at the breaking point because I hate asking people to do things for me. So when I ask, I really need it done. I am so not meant for management.

I also hate Norton Internet Security right now for making go through an hour's wild goose chase figuring out why suddenly the pop-up discussion board messages were being blocked from Rob's online classes. I love to do these things at midnight, really I do.