Friday, September 30, 2005

How Cool Am I?

I'll tell you how cool I am: I'm wearing a newsboy cap AND a poncho.

That is how cool I am. It's a whole special level of cool, commonly known as "dork." (And/or "so last season.")

The Definition of Irony

is that Blogger's built-in spell-check doesn't know the word "blog."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Eyebrows (hearts) Norway

So my best friend - who suggested her secret blog name be "Titsy," but, oh my God, my father reads this blog and I am not using the word "Titsy" on my blog where he might see it, SO STOP ASKING IF I'LL CALL YOU TITSY - is dating a Norwegian guy, henceforth known as Thor. (And not-Titsy shall be known as Emmochka.) So Thor is an actual Norwegian citizen, not a Scandasotan, which meant that until last month, they'd been dating intercontinentally.

But Thor has come to America, bringing with him his strange ideas about multi-party political systems, public transit, expensive petrol, and pickled herring. This is the first of Emmochka's boyfriends that I've actually liked - he's the first one who's bought me beer; my friendship comes cheap - so I'm excited for her and all, but it creates major problems for me.

First off, Norwegian is really hard to pronounce. I consider myself a polite citizen of the world, so when traveling abroad or meeting foreigners here in the US, I always try to learn a few polite phrases in their native languages. Well, when preparing to meet Thor for the first time, I assiduously studied my Norwegian politenesses, primarily, "I am pleased to meet you."

It did not go well.

When I attempted to say
"Hyggelig a treffe deg,"** Thor just looked at me, then ever-so-politely attempted to stifle a laugh at my pathetic pronunciation. I practiced for two weeks, repeating after the voice, but man, I can't even separate out the sounds. It was sad. I wasn't even close. But at least I achieved my primary goal of looking like an absolute ass in front of my best friend's boyfriend. It's important to keep these things in perspective.

I have learned many interesting things about Norway since meeting Thor, including that on Norwegian Constitution Day, everybody wears super-cute traditional clothing. Apparently people just own this kind of thing, which strikes me as a little strange - I can't imagine everyone wearing colonial-era clothing on the Fourth of July, let alone the entire country owning a historically-accurate outfit. But like I said, it's super-cute, and check out that Hardanger embroidery on those ladies' aprons! Plus Thor fully appreciates my painful childhood fjord-related experience.

So all in all, I'm a fan of Thor, and I suppose I shall return to fine-tuning my pronunciation of Norwegian so that the next time I see Thor, I can sound a little less stupid.

But Thor, no matter how much I like you, I am not eating your pickled herring. It's just not going to happen.



**That "a" after hyggelig should have a little circle on its head, but blogger won't do that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's Post-Post-Modern

I was interviewed by a reporter with the Journal-Star yesterday for an article, and I happen to know he reads my blog. So now he's reading me writing about him writing about me.

How meta is that?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Festivals, Fairs, and Fall

Mr. McGee and I had a fairly exciting weekend. There was a Fall Festival in my neighborhood, to which I was alerted by wondering aloud to my neighbor why there was so much traffic and having her respond, "The carnival! Haven't you noticed the herds of carnies roaming the neighborhood?" Oh.

So we hit the carnival, which was a lovely little neighborhood event, with a beer tent and carnival food (mmmm ... funnel cake) and several little rides. Mr. McGee turns out not to cope particularly well with the spinning rides that I like, so we went on the Ferris wheel, which almost made me puke when it was all stopping and starting. Freaked me out! One ride we rode, Mr. McGee was so tall that his legs almost hit the support bars when we swung around ever time -- a little nerve-wracking! We also noticed that one of the carnies was wearing a UNC cap, thus solving the eternal question of what happens to UNC students when they graduate: apparently, they become carnies.

But this was the first time we'd ever done amusement-park-type rides together, so it was fun to see his face and watch his hair get all floofy. Then, after agreeing that we were officially old because carnival rides were making our stomachs get confused and our heads get dizzy, we hit the beer tent, where basically the entire over-21 population of the neighborhood was enjoying a brew and listening to the band.

Sunday we volunteered at the Peoria Fine Art Fair, which was a blast. It was pouring rain, so there wasn't a whole lot to do, so we basically got free T-shirts for walking around the fair for two hours asking artists if we could sit their booths while they went to pee. Nobody needed a bathroom break, so we just had a lovely ramble. There were a shocking lot of glass artists, of which our favorite was a local artist who owns Toraason Glass. He has a real sinuous line and delicate composition to his works that we didn't see in the other glass artists.

I had a total revelation at the Art Fair, though, and that's what I've got to blog about. There was an artist there named Larry Kanfer, a modest man who looked more like an accountant than an artist. But oh my God, I saw his art, and that is exactly what is in my head. That is what I would make if I could make art. This is the beauty I see when I look at the midwest; this is what I'm always trying to explain to other people about why I think it's the most beautiful, soul-filling landscape in the world. And I finally found someone who translates that into pictures! It's like the contents of my imagination on canvas for the whole world to see! I was so excited I literally jumped up and down. My husband laughed at me, but he said, "You totally made that guy's day." He was super-nice to me, gave me postcards to take home and everything.

So I have decided to become a Larry Kanfer groupie. I'm going to get all his books and then drive to Champaign and ask him to sign them. And the next time I have a spare $1200, I'm so buying a big-ass Kanfer to hang in my office where I can look at it all day long.

I definitely know what I'm getting for Christmas!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Fore!

This boy across the street has taken up golf. I haven't actually met him, but I think he's about 10 or 11. So for the last week or so, he's been practicing chip shots in his front yard -- by chipping them at his siblings and friends on the front porch, who then throw the balls back to him. There's much cheering, shouting, hooting, and "YEAH!"-ing. I've never seen kids so excited about golf; I didn't know golf was such a loud sport.

And I sincerely hope he's practicing with whiffleballs.

Every time I hear the local firehouse (which is about three blocks away) send out trucks or ambulances, I have to go to the front window to see if golf boy has finally chipped one right into his sister's head. It's like watching a train wreck. I just can't help it.

Note to Self:

Try to avoid five-minute sneezing fits the day after Pilates-ing one's abs into aching insensibility.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

BOYCOTT MACY'S!

Macy's is changing the name of Marshall Field's to Macy's, in a move of stunning public relations stupidity. Thousands of Chicagoans are already promising to boycott.

I drove 850 miles from North Carolina to Chicago so I could register at Field's on State Street for my wedding. It was the only part of getting married that I dreamed about as a little girl - registering on State Street.

Macy's is just another department store. Field's IS Chicago, and I think it shows a remarkable lack of understanding of Macy's target market to attempt to move into the midwest by destroying the Chicago icon that is Field's.

If you're as pissed off as I am, you can:

1) Sign a petition at http://www.keepitfields.org/ .

2) E-mail Macy's parent company, Federated Department Stores, here to complain.

3) Write via snail mail to Federated Department Stores, Inc., at 7 West Seventh St., Cincinnati, OH 45202 or at 151 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001.

4) Call Federated's corporate office at 513-579-7000.

5) Write letters to the editor -- write the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Post, or the New York Times.

6) Boycott Federated stores, including Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Famous-Barr, Filene's, Foley's, Hecht's, Kaufmann's, Lord & Taylor, L.S. Ayres, Marshall Field's, Meier & Frank, Robinsons-May, Strawbridge's, The Jones Store, David's Bridal, After Hours Formalwear and Priscilla of Boston. Include this list of stores in any complaint or boycott e-mails or letters that you write, so that Federated knows that you're aware of the extent of their holdings and will boycott all stores owned by Federated.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

It's a Pause between Movements, Not a Lunch Break

We went to the opening gala of the Peoria Symphony season last night, and I was super-psyched because it was all Russians and I LOVE the Russians. Plus, they featured one of my favorite pieces in the entire symphony literature, Pictures at an Exhibition.

Now, Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky and performed by Antonio Pompa-Baldi was really excellent. Standing O and all. Awesome. And the Autumnal Sketch by Prokofiev was delightfully light and airy and expressive. The Caucasion Sketches were okay, but somewhat marred by the low brass repeatedly flubbing notes. (Let's be honest - if my high school orchestra had bungled an entrance as badly as the PSO's brass did, my conductor would have stopped the concert and made us start the piece over because we sucked so bad. Maybe David Commanday needs to apply some similarly tough love to the low brass section here.)

Pictures at an Exhibition was frankly painful.

First of all, if the low brass can't hit the notes EARLY in the concert, they clearly can't hit them LATE in the concert. The poor baritone horn player - and I hesitate to write this because he was visibly flinching and freaked at his flubs, and we were five rows from the back of the hall - just destroyed the "Bydlo" movement. Even my husband, who's not very classically-aware, said, "What's up with that guy on the end with the horn? Can he just not play or what?" (Typically Mr. McGee can't pick out individual instruments or sections, let along individual players.) The low brass was sloppy all through. Don't put the hardest piece for the brass, where they are the most-exposed, last.

Secondly, and this is one of my least-favorite David Commanday idiosyncracies: It's a pause between movements, dude. It's not a lunch break. Particularly in a piece like Pictures where the movements flow naturally one to the next - it's just WEIRD to stop, put your arms down, have all the musicians relax for 60 seconds, and then start again. It creates a VERY disjointed listening experience. (To its credit, though, the PSO doesn't get a pole up its butt about people applauding between movements, which they often do because Commanday stops the entire concert for at least a minute between movements and people think it's time to clap.)

Thirdly, Pictures is vividly composed and strikingly orchestrated to take advantage of the expressive qualities of both music itself and of the various instruments. Ravel's orchestration really takes that expression to the outside limits of the capabilities of the orchestral instruments, using them in novel ways that create the perfect marriage of music and tonal quality. So while Commanday's overdramatic interpretation of Pictures worked in some movements - notably Gnomus - it just made most of the piece feel cartoonish. (Also, when you can tell from the back of the hall by the postures of certain musicians that they're fed up with the conductor's prancing and overdramatizing, it is perhaps time for the conductor to tone it down.)

It was a terribly weak ending to a very uneven concert, and I'm frankly irate at Commanday's melodramatic butchering of one of my favorite pieces on the planet.

I still enjoyed it, because, hey, live symphonic music is live symphonic music, and the piano concerto was excellent. But I sincerely hope the low brass has cleaned up its act by October and that Commanday tones down his.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Boo State

Dear Michigan State,

It is not classy, by any definition of the term, after squeaking out a victory by the seat of your pants, and only after a Notre Dame touchdown that clearly crossed the plane but was not thusly called by the ref and some otherwise remarkably biased calling in your favor, to "plant" your flag on the 50 yard line at Notre Dame stadium.

I realize you have a serious inferiority complex, but TRY to act like grown ups, 'kay?

-Eyebrows

PS - I guess this also means that Weis is only the new Rockne, not the new Jesus. Just as well for our theological orthodoxy.

PSS to State - We still like you better than OSU.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Out and About

They've installed new crosswalk signals all over Peoria, the ones that count down for you. Now every time I pull up to a red light, it's like New Year's Eve: "TEN! ... NINE! ... EIGHT! ... SEVEN! ..." and so forth. When it gets down to "ONE!" I'm always expecting screams, music, and confetti. A green light seems like something of a letdown.

But it's definitely more festive driving around town with the New Year's countdown going on all the time.

---

While waiting at one of these red lights at a major intersection today, I saw a Monarch butterfly flitter through the intersection above all the cars, time suspended on its wings, flashing orange in the late summer sun.

I hope everyone else saw it; it was a single flittering moment where heaven broke through the smog.

We've planted some native plants in the backyard - primarily a gardeny variety of milkweek that looks more floral, less weedy - and as a consequence we've had a steady procession of Monarchs all summer long. It's a wonder I get any work done since every time I see one I have to stop and stare, mesmerized, until I can't see it any longer, and the milkweeds are right outside my office window.

---

They're renovating my grocery store. I hate this because I grocery shop entirely by rote. Any time they move a product or change the packaging, my brain melts down and I can't FIND anything. I spent a good twenty minutes at the grocery store today trying to locate the microwave popcorn. And they've now moved the wine section twice. It's not enough that the produce section is full of things I can't identify and have never heard of; now they keep moving the prepackaged food that has explanations on the box so that I can't find it anymore.

I'm looking into taking up grazing, like a horse. It'd cut down on the lawnmowing, too.

---

Orange Cat comes home this afternoon, and this afternoon I shall learn how to give him shots, if I don't actively pass out at the vet's office when I have to use the needle. I went to the compounding pharmacy to pick up his bladder medicine, which is in transdermal gel form (you put it on the ears and it soaks in) because he's a champion pill-puker. I love going to the compounding pharmacy because it seems like such an anachronism, a pharmacy where they actually MAKE THE DRUGS right there. Chemistry in action. I love it. It seems so much more medical when they have to make the drug special and it comes in fancy-looking special formats and containers, instead of coming in branded pills and branded boxes and bottles that are as much about building your loyalty to Zocor or Prilosec as about curing what ails you. So hooray for Preckshot, a little bit of medicine that has survived the advertising age intact, a little bit of chemistry working its magic to make my feline buddy healthy again.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sick Cat

My Orange Cat just got diagnosed with diabetes, and with a bladder inflammation issue, so the poor thing is peeing blood and has to stay in the kitty hospital a few days while they work on his bladder and get his insulin going. My car is in the car hospital getting its ghetto-fabulous rear window fixed, and my butt is still in the butt-hospital (i.e., the cushion with a hole in it), so all in all, I'm a little overwhelmed today and consequently not feeling very blogtastic.

Sort-of having a Garfield Monday. I didn't even get any good junk mail.

We'll get our Orange Cat back Wednesday or Thursday and at that time I'll learn to stick him with needles, which may in fact make me vomit. I cope well with almost all parts of modern medicine but shots freak me out - not because of the needle, but because I hate seeing things go under the skin (horror movies where some alien burrows into the dude's skin ... *shudder*). My uncle pointed out the cat has fur so I won't see it, which is true and may in fact help. Plus I'm relatively tough when it comes to people (and critters) I love, so hopefully I'll only freak out the first few times.

Grey Cat is a little forlorn because a) we took Orange Cat out in his cat carrier for a car ride, which Grey Cat LOVES and Orange Cat HATES and Grey Cat is very miffed about it, and b) we didn't bring Orange Cat back. I'm not sure if he's trying to convince me not to sell him to roadside vagrants or if he just wants to go wherever Orange Cat went because the car is always fun, but he's been trying to be my best buddy all afternoon.

Also, compared to the neurotic, diabetic, bladder-infected, one-eyed, no-tailed Orange Cat, Grey Cat, who is just missing the one eye and thinks he's a human, is positively normal by comparison.

Sometimes I think my main role as a niece is to make my childless aunts and uncles happy about their decision, since I frantically IMed my uncle who is married to a vet to bombard him with what were ostensibly questions for his wife but was really just a vast spewing of stress in his general direction, because I was too upset/stressed to listen to what the vet told me on the phone very well (I made him call Mr. McGee because Mr. McGee is better at getting info when upset than I am, and asks lawyerly questions, whereas I just get overwhelmed and forget). I think my uncle was thinking, "Thank God I don't have one of those, because apparently they remain full of angst long after the teenaged years are gone."

To my angst-related credit, however, I called my mom - who copes with me crying quite well - and not my dad, who does not cope with my crying well at all, to be weepy about the Orange Cat.

And now Mr. McGee, the best husband ever, has walked in the house with a legal pad full of well-organized diabetes information from his half-hour discussion with the vet! Hooray for litigators!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Zizzy-Zazzy

You know those little reflections of light that bounce off your watch, or ring, or bracelet, or hand-held mirror, or shiny metal object? On the wall, bright as mini-suns, that you can make dance everywhere just by moving your wrist a little?

Growing up, my siblings and I always called those "Zizzy-Zazzies." I don't know why. My parents certainly didn't call them that. But we coined the term "Zizzy-Zazzy" and we got very excited whenever we created a zizzy-zazzy, making it run all over the room and onto one another's faces. The best zizzy-zazzies were, of course, mom's, because she had a diamond ring and diamond rings will make a million tiny rainbow-colored stars all over the walls and ceiling if the sun hits them right. But we could make our little sunshines with watches, mirrors, toys, and all kinds of things.

The other day I was sitting at my desk working, and noticed a strange zizzy-zazzy on the wall in front of me. My desk is half up against a window, half against a wall. The monitor is off to my left in front of the wall, so I can look away out the window to think deep thoughts and watch birds do obscene things. The zizzy-zazzy was above my monitor, quivering but looking oddly sluggish, and with amorphous, ill-defined edges, which is strange - usually zizzy-zazzies are bright and sharp.

I examined my hands - no rings, no watch, no bracelets. No shiny buttons. No hair clips. Necklace tucked under shirt. I couldn't find a single thing on me that was creating the zizzy-zazzy, but since it was moving, I knew it had to be me. I wasted a good ten minutes searching my body for shiny metal things and moving one body part at a time, to see if it moved the zizzy-zazzy. The zizzy-zazzy kept jiggling whenever I moved, but only a little bit. Nothing I moved seemed to make it move out of place or do more than jiggle.

Finally, I discovered the source:

I am just that pale.

Yes, my forehead, with hair pulled back into a ponytail, sun shining right in the window onto my face, and a slight sheen of sweat from the humidity of the day, had turned into such a powerfully reflective surface that I was actually creating a zizzy-zazzy with it.

Conan O'Brien claims that he's so pale that when he takes his shirt off at the beach, people go blind.

Conan O'Brien has NOTHING on me and my forehead zizzy-zazzy! I now actually have the power to direct beams of light at people who annoy me. Mwah ha ha ha ha! That's what they'll get for making fun of my natural deathly pallor! A zap from the forehead zizzy-zazzy ray of blinding light. Mwah ha ha ha ha! Tremble! Tremble before my pale-ness!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Get This Man a Client!

My husband is a litigator, which can be hard on a marriage. Litigators tend to get into litigation mode and have trouble getting out of it, and have a tendency to grill their relatives as if they're witnesses on the stand. What makes it worse is that I'm a lawyer too, and it's all too easy for me to get sucked into legal arguments - and anything can turn into a legal argument. I remember one of the first big arguments of our marriage was something about housecleaning, and we were having an extremely heated discussion (at the tops of our lungs) about whether failure to wash the dishes four weeks ago was within the statute of argument limitations, and, if so, whether by analogy failure to empty the litter boxes was also within the statute. And by introducing bad facts, was one opening the door to other evidence? Could one's character be rehabilitated by introduction of nice spousal deeds, or were those irrelevant to the argument at hand?

The house didn't exactly get clean, but by God did we apply the rules of evidence to every tiny detail of housekeeping and marriage.

Typically litigators are harder to live with when they're actively litigating (that is, in trial) because they're in litigator-mode all day and have trouble turning it "off" when they get home. My husband, however, is much harder to live with when he's not litigating. It's like he has a daily quota of litigation he has to get through, and if he can't take it out on clients and opposing parties, he takes it out on me.

So this past week, he's mostly been drafting pleadings and memos, not deposing clients or in court. I'm ready to run away, I swear. This is how most of this week has gone:

"Hey, sweetie, I heard this great joke - Why did the chicken cross the road?"

"Why?"

"To get away from Colonel Sanders!"

"That doesn't make sense. Did the chicken belong to him? If not, why was he chasing someone else's chicken? Aren't there chicken enclosure laws? Isn't the owner breaking municipal regulations by letting his chickens run free? What kind of chicken was it, and what was the value of the chicken ...." Ad nauseum. Very nauseum.

I can't tell a joke without having it litigated into the ground. I can't tell a story about my day without having it litigated into the ground: "I talked to Allison today." "In person, on your cell, or on your landline? Did you call her? Did she call you?" It takes twenty minutes to get to the important part of the story ("She's taken a job with a consulting firm.") because we spend the first twenty minutes with him questioning me to establish the background of this line of questioning. By then I usually forget why I started the story in the first place, or else I'm so mad I no longer want to tell him what I was going to tell him, just to be perverse.

If he doesn't go to court some time in the next week, I'm going to lose my mind. I keep thinking of that line from Clueless, "Daddy's a litigator. Those are the scariest kinds of lawyers. ... He's so good he gets paid five hundred dollars an hour just to fight with people, but he fights with me for free 'cause I'm his daughter."

Indeed. I'm so lucky. I married a litigator, so I get to fight for free.

It's a good thing he's hot.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

My Butt Gets Mail

Since I broke my tailbone, my butt has been getting its own e-mail from concerned friends of my ass. It's gotten a LOT since I blogged about it. My best friend says this is creepy and I need to stop referring to my butt as if it is a separate entity. But I didn't start it! It gets its own mail!

My butt thanks you all for your concern. My butt wishes to inform you all that it is feeling somewhat better, although still sore.

My butt also wishes to let you know there will neither be a press conference nor photo ops. Definitely not photo ops.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Weltschmertz Rx

My Orange Cat is a big fan of my broken tailbone, because it means I spend large chunks of time lying on my side, which creates a nice little warm spot, which is his favorite spot, which he normally only gets to sleep in at night when I'm sleeping. He approaches this spot by climbing up from my feet (never, like a normal cat, by just jumping onto the couch or bed where the spot is!), walking up to my head, turning around, walking flush against my body until his stinky butt is directly in my face, and then flopping all 17 pounds of himself down against me with a "whoomf!" When I'm very unlucky, the butt is still in my face. On good flops, it ends up down near my shoulder. If he doesn't get a good enough "lean," he'll either scramble his feet to get himself higher up against me, or he'll re-flop. He feels no compunction whatsoever about knocking the wind out of me repeatedly to get a good snuggle spot.

But I need the snuggles this week. Not only does my butt hurt, but I can't get the devastation of Katrina out of my mind, and I have little to distract me because my life is limited to the couch and my computer chair. I can't stop worrying about my college friends working down there, and I know I can't call them (and shouldn't tie up the lines when people are trying to call family), and I know that the "all-safe" will reach us in a couple days via e-mail or phone, once they've gotten in touch with their families and worried about their more immediate concerns, but I worry anyway. I worry lots.

The worst are the stories about people who lost everything, who loaded up their cars to evacuate and took only their most beloved and irreplaceable possessions with them. I know they are the lucky ones, because they were able to leave, with their entire families, and even had time to get a few things from their homes. Whenever I read those stories, I can't stop thinking melancholy thoughts about what *I* would take with me if I had to evacuate, what pieces of my life I couldn't bear to leave behind.

But then one of those pieces, who would spend the entire evacuation process just shrieking and yowling at the top of his not-inconsiderable lungs in his cat carrier in the back seat, sees me lying on my side on the couch, and his eyes light up and his ears perk up, and he crawls over my legs, turns around at my head, sticks his butt in my face, and flops with a "whoomf!" And purrs like a crazy cat, secure in the bliss of the food-bringer's warm body in nap position.

I know it doesn't help the victims of Katrina -- nothing I can do anyway to help them right now but pray -- but that little orange furball turns out to be a very potent cure for weltschmertz. It's hard to feel despair when there's so much purring in the world.

American Red Cross - Katrina Aid