Oh, Martha

During my "packing and organizing breaks" while prepping for the move, I've enjoyed some daytime television. A vacuous space of television programming which does so little for the brain. Even before today, I tried watching Martha Stewart's new casual talk show, "Martha." Poor Martha, coming out of jail (so appropriate that it was nicknamed 'Camp Cupcake') and just trying to reintegrate into society and make pals.
Martha's previous show usually had her in a clean and solo setting, quietly ensconced in the garden or kitchen of one of her protected homes, with the camera as the only audience. After watching her new live studio audience show, I can tell that Martha was much more comfortable in the former setting where she was the only one talking.
On the new show, celeb guests bungle their way through crafts and cooking that Martha demonstrates. When said giggling celeb inevitably goofs their task Martha reaches over, suppressing her perturbation with the imperfection, and fixes the error herself. She corrected Tom Selleck today. Or she ignores the fact that the celeb is like 9 steps behind in their craft and forges ahead to show her perfect product. I watch and I just really want to hear Martha laugh at some mistake. Like Julia Child picking up a chicken that accidentally slipped onto the floor, wiping it off and continuing to cook. (Ok, that's an urban legend, but it's the spirit of it. Even with her Cordon Bleu background, Julia was still one of us!) If Martha doesn't want to laugh and talk with the celebrities, would she ever deign the poor folks like me with her attention?
I can't decide if I want Martha to be successful or not. In college, I loved her. I still love the small good thing tips and ideas. (No way could I ever manage any larger scale Martha project.) And there's also the consideration that a member of my newly extended family works with MS. But I've also heard wicked stories about Martha knowingly buying rare antique china from a naive family at a garage sale, then refusing to sell it back when the family learned it was more valuable than they initially knew. If you're Martha Stewart, can't you afford to let one or two things go? But Martha was apparently smug, insisting that "all sales were final."
And now watching this show, she just doesn't come off as likeable at all. Oh, Martha.

Slippy Chair

I made my debut at my new job today. Officially, I am not scheduled to start until Monday, but there was a extended team meeting, and my managers asked me to attend. It's hard to say no when you've only just started on the job.
Prepared to make my very best first impression I had a haircut yesterday and put on a freshly dry cleaned khaki suit this morning. Oddly enough, the meeting was held at a nearby Irish pub. (Hey, I like this company already!) Although the corporate code is that this was just an "off-site meeting." No need to disclose the seedier details.
For four hours of presentations I did my best to sit up straight, look attentive, inquisitive, thoughtful, and smart. But bars have slippy chairs. Wooden and polished from hours spent over beers and pub fries. Every few minutes, I felt my butt start sliding down towards the edge of the chair, creating a slouch in my shoulders. It was maddening. I'd pull myself back up, only to slide right back. I tried tensing my foot against the leg of the table, as a brace. This was uncomfortable. I pulled the chair tight up to the table, essentially attempting to pin my torso in an upright position. Argh. Elbows on the table provided some stability, but I was breathing down my new peers' necks, and also a little bit in their sodas. Great, I'm the new girl who has no respect for sensible personal space limits.
Stupid slippy chair trying to thwart my best impression first day.

Knock, Knock...

Getting ready to move means I'm going through practically every single possession, scrutinizing each with the question: "Keep or toss?" in mind. It's a drag, and I begin to resent every single material object within the walls of our home. Jason shakes his head, muttering in bewilderment "So much junk..." Little does he know of how much the inherited family treasure has been reduced through the last two moves!
There are the occasional delights though, like finding the joke book that my Dad purchased to coax giggles out of me and my sister when we were younger. (Though little cajoling was likely needed.) And the inside cover reveals that my sister and I claimed the book as our own, by inscribing our names with childish hands. You can tell that I was a little older, since my inscription reflects the knowledge of cursive and familiarity with an ink pen, while Juliet's name appears in printed pencil. But the sibling rivalry is apparent too, it's likely not coincidental that Juliet firmly placed her name above mine.
The paperback falls automatically open to the knock-knock jokes. It must be a universal truth: Kids like knock-knock jokes.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Luke who?
Luke through the keyhole and you'll see!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Olive who?
Olive here, so let me in!

It is perhaps a secret truth, that I still enjoy a good knock-knock joke too.

Pay Bills, Feed Children... Oh Wait, No Children

Can any other animal be distracted like humans? Like finding yourself in a different lane of traffic and then not remembering how you got there? Talking to someone on the phone, while hearing the pitter-patter of little keystrokes on the other end of the line? (Juliet: "Claire, I can TELL you're typing!" -- which usually means I just try to type more quietly. Or Claire to Jason:"Ok, you're clearly programming so I'll see you at home.")
With the move to Chicago now in play, and even before then I've been really distracted. Not a good thing when the credit card bill is due. Or when I look down at the cat's empty bowl at night and ask myself, "Did I feed him today?" Good thing I don't have kids yet.
Moving to the third largest city in the U.S. is quite thrilling. I have to remind myself that Chicago is even bigger than Philadelphia. When you grow up in the nation's 5th (ok, maybe 6th - darn Phoenix!) largest city, chances are that if you move anywhere, it'll be smaller. But now I'm moving somewhere BIGGER. The preoccupation with knowing that there's so much to learn about a new city has left me distracted. It's one of those times where I don't even know what I'm forgetting. Could be the credit card bill, could be stopping by the gym to cancel my membership, or... what was it?
To prove my point, there are two significant news events today that I was totally unaware of: Scott McClellan resigns, the TomKitten arrives. I'm so ashamed of myself. Tonight I was one of those people who genuinely got their news from The Daily Show.

Blog Lag

Did the initial intrigue of blogging quickly fade? (Jason says that every blog has about three appearances by that statement.) Not so much as the din of life became so loud that I've had so few moments to think these days.
We're moving to Chicago!
When I first moved to Columbus, Jason asked me to write down my expectations of my new hometown. His expectation being that I'd quickly be proven wrong with prejudices like, "Columbus is a small, farm town." It's not. Of course, I think one of my initial thoughts was (honestly) "I will see more cows than in Philadelphia." I don't know why I thought this, but I did. Ironically, I moved into a neighborhood near the OSU Agricultural School. Sure enough: cows. Nearly everyday I saw cows.
I don't think I'll see so many cows in Chicago.
Of course, they did have that "Cow Parade" cross-city art installation a few years ago, so maybe wherever I go I'll be destined to find cows nearby. The Indian culture might consider me to be very fortunate.


Mommy, feed me!

I spent $40 on gasoline today. It was the thrice-in-a-lifetime occasion when the empty tank indcator light on my car blinked on.

Those of you who know me well, know this is true. The second time wasn't even in my control, boyfriend Jason was at the wheel and insisted that we could make it out of Canada without having to refill. Without ever having tested the red-light limits of my relatively new car, of course, I fretted. I angrily ruminated on the potential breakdown scenario on the highway leading out of Toronto, where we had been for a friend's wedding. Would AAA come find me, even on the other side of the border? It certainly didn't help that Jason raised his voice to a whiny, needy tone and channeled my car's desires, "Mommy, I'm hungry. Feeeeed meeee!" My anger pitched even higher, when after making it over the border, Jason considered, "You know, I bet we could even make it to Buffalo." After some arguing, (in the best way that two people will argue when they're coming home from vacation, have been in the car together for two hours, and have six hours ahead of them,) we stopped for gas. I did not have to wrench the wheel from his hands and haul the car across lanes of opposing traffic to effect the refill.

After today's gas station stop I reflected that the regular mini-refill (1/4 tank usually) can soundly protect one from the impact of rising gas prices. I recommend it. Even buying premium gas, I'm rarely spending more than $20 a visit.
So, rolling in on fumes today, had me rolling out fuming. $40? Are you kidding me? How long have gas prices been this high???

The Girl Scout in Me

I hope I'm not the only one who does this: I look for opportunities to do good deeds, favors to strangers, throughout the course of the day. But usually, it doesn't involve following said stranger into their bathroom stall.
Today, as I was standing outside the airport ladies room, hoisting my backpack into the precarious balance that allows me to wheel it around on top of my rollerboard suitcase, when a woman breezed into the ladies room, chatting on her cell phone. Her boarding pass fluttered to the ground as she passed. I picked it up, reading quickly to see if she was an arriving or departing passenger. Sure enough: departing to Los Angeles. I followed her into the restroom, calling "excuse me!" Four times, and she didn't hear me, until her hand was on the door to the empty stall. "EXCUSE ME!" I practically shouted. "YOUR TICKET!" (Oops, still shouting, although I now had her attention because I was certainly infringing on the most personal of personal space.)
Her look of confusion passed quickly to relief and she bid me quick thanks, confessing breathlessly to the person on the phone, "Oh my god, I almost lost my ticket!"
Good deed for the day done. (I must be entitled to some ice cream, no?)

Cheerleaders on the Team Bus

If you can't put the product in the program (per my last post), insert the program in the middle of the product you're trying to sell: embedded reporters. Regardless of your feelings about GWB or the war, the administration started off by marketing the war in a unique way. It really wasn't a bad idea, and made for interesting new reports. However, this article from Al Jazeera has the best quote from John Burnett of NPR explaining his disullusionment with the whole experience: "During my travels with the marines, I couldn't shake the sense that we were cheerleaders on the team bus."
I wonder though, about the great irony of Al Jazeera critiquing the objectiveness of American journalists. Years ago, (so long ago that I think I was watching 60 Minutes at home, with my dad no less,) I remember Al Jazeera being hailed as a new, important, independent voice. More recent opinions may have changed, and it seems like they're not liked by either side: "The channel has veered from accusations of being a mouthpiece of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden to being a creation of the CIA. It is boycotted by Saudi Arabia and its reporters are banned from entering Iraq and Saudi Arabia."

Post-Script Reflection of the Day: If this post doesn't get me listed with Technorati, it might get me on the Homeland Security list. But I'll offset it and deliver my own balanced "journalism"... that last quote above is from a Washington Times article.

My favorite "inside Iraq" point-of-view comes from Discovery New York Times Channel: Off to War

Yo, Hulkamaniacs!

Has TiVo changed my life? Not in the life-defining way that I'll remember events based on whether they were pre- or post-TiVo, but I am enjoying how the DVR trend is making advertisers work a little harder. Now that we can all just fast forward right through the commercials, marketers have to include something that catches your attention, even in 3x fast forward. (Or in my case 3x fast forward, and then back to 1x fast forward because I hit the remote button one too many times.) A prime example is Arby's skinny Hulk Hogan ad. You stop in wonder, "Wait, that's not really..wha??" (But if you're me, you're a little creeped out by Hulk Hogan, whether he's buff or scrawny, and it just makes you want to fast forward more.)

Another funny one is Avis' "Gangsta Rap" ad. You know the peeps want the static!

Since we skip past their commercials, advertisers have penetrated deeper into programming. Part of every Queer Eye makeover now includes the advice that Crest White Strips will not only brighten the sad, shaggy, straight man's teeth, but also help revolutionize the persona he projects to the world. Go get 'em! Or at least, blind them with your choppers. But, now that product placement is so prevalent and overt that our jaundiced first-world eyes discern the promotion coming, I'm guessing it's probably losing its effectiveness. (See: The Apprentice.)

Post-Script Confession: I'm also really loving the Verizon ads lately. Must have something to do with the shrinking role of that "Can you hear me now?" guy.

Watching the TiVo Effect, eCommerce Times

But she's been blogging longer than me...

I was going to do a post about how there are some people that are just so bizarrely fascinating, that, like a train wreck, you can't look away. And if wonkette hadn't beat me to it, Katherine Harris was my notable example. So I add Ana-Marie Cox to my links "People I Don't Know (Yet)." When we do meet someday, we can gab about KH.

Guess I have to speed up my blog-thinking, but there's no reason for my two readers to miss the fascination (ok, I know one of you has already laughed at this...but it's a train wreck!): Katherine Harris on Hannity & Combs

And sometimes the music is the same too.

My hypothesis is that the gym is just like the middle school dance, all over again.
1. There are disinterested chaperones, now known in our adult gym life as personal trainers.
2. Some people sweat too much, in a dripping, but unabashed and enthusiastic way.
3. There's always someone who just can't get their moves together. Bouncing arrhythmically on the elliptical, head bopping up and down above the sea of the steady, thump-thumping heads.
4. Just like there was always a whole crowd of kids who didn't come to dance, there are also people who don't really seem to come to work out. Leering at the opposite sex continues in just the same adolescent way.
5. At Cal Fit (now Lifestyle Fitness) they seem to have just as many balloons.
6. I am a wallflower again. I so don't want anyone to notice me...
7. Because, when I do have the chance interaction with anyone who seems cool, I evitably do something silly or embarrassing, like forgetting to wipe down the machine when I'm done. And I only realize it when it'd be even more ridiculous to turn around and sheepishly return to the machine, towel in hand.

Flare and Resonate

April is Natn'l Poetry Month. Random House will send me (and you) a poem a day to celebrate.
Sign Up for Poem-a-Day

Walking Home on an Early Spring Evening
by David Young

Every microcosm needs its crow,
something to hang around and comment,
alight on highest branches.

Who hasn't seen the gnats,
the pollen grains that coat the windshield
who hasn't heard the tree frogs?

In the long march that takes us all our life,
in and out of sleep, sun up, sun gone,
our aging back and forth, smiling and puzzled,
there come these times: you stop and look,

and fix on something unremarkable,
a parking lot or just a patch of sumac,
but it will flare and resonate

and you'll feel part of it for once,
you'll be a goldfinch hanging on a feeder,
you'll be a river system all in silver
etched on a frosty driveway, you'll

say "Folks, I think I made it this time,
I think this is my song." The crow lifts up,
its feathers shine and whisper,

its round black eye surveys indifferently
the world we've made
and then the one we haven't.

The Reorganization WILL Be Televised

Rather than spending my precious weekend trying to organize the junk waiting downstairs for me in the basement, it's so much more fulfilling to watch someone else clean up, in the satisfying space of just a half hour television show. Thank you "Clean Sweep" on TLC.

But allowing the television to live my life for me might be dangerous. In one of my favorite 'was-it-real-or-urban-legend?' stories, the Collyer brothers were literally killed by their stuff! But okay, they obviously had many more problems than their dustbunnies. Langley Collyer tried to cure his brother's blindness with "a dietary regimen of 100 oranges a week, black bread, and peanut butter. In their mind, there was no need to seek medical attention because they were the sons of a doctor..." The self-help approach to medicine was just the beginning of their weirdness. It makes me feel healthily normal to read about these cooky (but sad) brothers. The Collyer Brothers

Another creepy story of our possessions defining us: This American Life - Episode 199 - The House on Loon Lake. This American Life

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