MTV2 for who?

Do you remember watching music videos? I mean really watching them, like for hours. My brother and I, along with some neighborhood kids at times, would sneak snippets of MTV. We were banned from such filth as kids though we seemed to watch endless amounts of it, our parents not as quick as they were prudish.

I was enamored with George Michael. Funny, he never seemed gay to me at age 10, but then again I didn't know what gay was then either. He was the perfection of hotness to me and that song, Careless Whisper, where he crones after a lover lost and that stubble, whew that stubble. These days, he's not so hot and I wonder why I never saw the obvious "batting for the other team" going on, but again, this was the 80s, I don’t think he was letting many people in on his secrets, lest he lose album sales.

A few months ago I was flipping through the channels and found FUSE, a music video channel here in Richmond where all they do is play videos. I was stunned. Some flashy hip-hop song was on and I paused, filling the commercial time during another program and actually watched a whole video. I felt like I was 12 again, the volume turned down, the den door closed, and my finger on the remote ready to switch channels should the door open and my mother walk in.

I haven't watched another video since that FUSE moment months ago. I miss the old videos where the stories were weak, if anything, the bands were overly made up, and the women had clothes on. The current generation has no idea what endless, mindless hours of music videos are like. They think MTV was created to expose the unreality of 18-23 lives. The teeny boppers today won't have slumber parties and stay up late to see how many times their favorite videos appear. They're lucky if they see their favorite video once during the terribly drab TRL.

And, what happened to a music video doing magic for the unknown artists? The one hit wonders of the 80s would be nowhere without their videos. Remember Divo and the whips? My brother's band made a video a few years ago. And if you blinked you missed it. It did nothing for them because kids don't watch videos anymore, they want the (non) reality shows or the watered down, over-produced, uncreative pop star in their mist, and they only want the 10 best knows videos of the day. Or at least, this is what MTV thinks they want. MTV has gone from groundbreaking to heartbreaking. And VH1, don't even let me go there.

And it's sad to realize that I am no longer the target audience of MTV. They don't care about my demographic anymore, even though I busted my bum sneaking hours of videos into my childhood. Sorry Dire Straits, you can have your money for nothin'. It turns out I don't want my MTV.



ashes to ashes

I was playing with my 3 year-old niece today when she said "I'm the king of the castle." Then pointed to me and said, "You're the dirty rascal." And I was immediately placed inside the melody of CRASH. I was irrovacably sadden that my childhood is now wrapped inside the lyrics of a Dave Matthews song.

Then later, in the backyard waiting for the hotdogs on the grill I heard a bright, highpicthed song lingering in the air. I knew immediately that it was an ice cream truck. Whew! How long has it been since I've seen on one of those. Oh, the days of yore. *sigh*



friends, countrymen, lend me your.... words

People, really. You can leave comments. I don't bite and I like to hear from the people I love in my life. Really, I'd like to hear from you. Seriously. If you stop by, tell me so.

Love ya,



funny is as funny does

I'm funny. Ask my friends; they'll tell you I'm funny. It's my thing, my party trick. I come from a long line of funny people. No, none of them are famous. We're funny the way your family is funny. The way you take family or friendly information and turn it around, spin it on it's head, give it a sarcastic tone or link it to a historical travesty and spit it back into the air. My relatives have dry and sarcastic one-liners down to a science. It's like a racket ball game when we are gathered together. The puns and witty observations fly so fast you’re not sure you can hurl them back, but then, you do, you always do. And so, I find friends who can play this game, who can come together in one accord on making fun of the world and each other.

Friday night, sitting amongst a group of co-workers for "happy hour" I was anything but happy. Oh, I was jovial and jokey and witty and brilliant, but somewhere along the line I realized that this wasn't the real funny me. I had to work hard that night to tone my references down and to pull what little information I knew about these people to the front of my brain. I've only worked with them for 6 months and this is only the third large group social thing we've done. There is a few staff I know really well and with them I can joke all day, there is enough reference material there, but when you stick me with a large group of people I only see in the hallways I can't do much.

My jokes on Friday landed on unfertile ground. There were some hits, but mostly misses. When you don't know the people well, you're jokes and puns and one liners have to come from outside the group, I usually choose current events, historical events, local events, world events, OK so anything really. But I'm sad to say I don't think my audience understood my references. There was a discussion of a painting in the Mexican restaurant, which was of a man holding his own head. I said I thought it was John The Baptist and then asked whose name was signed. It was Raphael. I stated again that I was pretty sure it was John The Baptist. A co-worker said, "Is it a religious thing?" "Um," I thought, "I give up." Then there was my self-deprecating comment when another co-worker asked if I had gone to VCU with him, that I looked like someone in his ethics class. I stated that I had no ethics, so no, I didn't go to VCU. He didn’t bowl over with laughter. "What’s wrong with you?" I thought and then realized I don't really know these people.

Sometimes I don't want to spend all that time it takes to get to know people, I just want it to be immediate. My cousin's wife was telling me about a dinner party she and 5 other women have every month. They get together and discuss politics by having various members' research topics then they come together to discuss. She said she thought of me and that this is something right up my alley. Well, after tonight and the failed attempts at garnering some sort of recognition for my brilliant repartee, I think she is right. I need some good conversation, I need some deep thinking, I some cognitive stimulation.



abstract impressionism

I went to Carytown today with my brother's little family. My 6 year-old nephew's artwork was being displayed in a window of a store there, part of a city-wide school art project. He was 1 of 2 children chosen from his 1st grade class to be placed for all the passersby to see. It was a great picture full of blue and red and purple and white and yellow. There was clearly a sky with clouds and then there are 2 distinct sections on the bottom. One blue square section takes up the majority of the picture with two building shaped things inside. To the right of the large blue square is a skinny blue rectangle with an American flag in it, just hanging out. I asked the little artiste what exactly he had painted and he shrugged. His grandmother said it was a house and then I asked "Well, is it a house that you thought up in your mind or a particular house?" He said he just thought it up. "All right, well, good picture little boy." I then began talking and playing with the little nieces when the artiste's mom states that the two buildings are "Our house and Annie’s apartment building." I turned my body and swung my head around, "What, my apartment building?" To which the little one said "Yeah" in his sweet, Well-what-else-could-it-be-? voice. I looked at the picture again and there it was in all the many colors. It was clearly a small one-story house sitting beside a 3-story brick apartment building. How did I not see it before? I said, "Well, look at that, I'm famous." And then the love swept over me. When a 6 year old paints your apartment building into a picture, that is love, real love.

Thank you my little A----baby. I love you too.



deme el libro

I believe that dog-earing pages in a book is sac-religious. I think I may have engaged in this practice when I was 12 for a day or two, but it never stuck. It seemed too finite a thing to do. Reading a book is a fluid thing. Though you stop, put it down, go on about your life and come back to it, the story is fluid, or should be. So, to me, dog-earing the pages is like telling the pages, even the words to stop going, stop moving because the crease is always there. It stands as an acknowledgement that someone paused this scene, stopped the monologue, or took a break between chapters. It will take days of hard pressing to reduce the dog-eared indentation. For me, the damage is permanent. Literal and literary disrespect has occurred, something a book can never shake off.

So I use anything I can get my hands on to save my places. I have bookmarks, but they never seem to find their way into the books. In bookstore checkout lines I see pretty little bookmarks with clichéd phrases and artsy black and white pictures and salivate. But my Pavlovian reflexes are always pushed aside because I know that the $3 bookmark will sit in a drawer or beside a stack of books and never actually make it into one. There is no real reason for this. When I need to hold my place I franticly search for something flat or something related to the process of reading. Beside my bed there are a number of books "held" by varying objects. The most frequently read book has my glasses holding court, the short story book that I dip in and out of is splayed, open side down on a table, a book of memoirs is conversing with my itty bitty book light™, a travel book on London is held in place with the thin, red, satin ribbon attached to it, and another short story book has the receipt for itself tucked inside.

The receipt is my favorite placeholder. I think this is partly sentimental in that every time I open the book I look at it and remember the store and the circumstances for the purchase. Partly I'm sure I do this to subconsciously remind myself to get every bit of escapism and pleasure out of the $10.95 I spent on the paperback edition. And partly because it's convenient and perfect. A receipt takes up no space between the pages, it doesn't ask you to clip it on, it just slides right in like it was meant to be there and it never leaves a mark. It's the answer to the damaging dog-ear. It's the lazy woman’s pause button. It's quite possibly the very best un-bookmark.

Yesterday I was digging through my assortment of not-yet-read books and discovered an odd bookmark tucked inside Carson McCullers' THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER. I'm sure at the time, my former therapist's business/ appointment card was the closest thing around when I stopped reading. I can't imagine that I just randomly put this card in this book. It was slipped between pages 4 and 5. A bookmark placed so early in a book would make me think that I never really began reading it. Maybe I went for a teaser from the first couple of pages. I have a terrible habit of beginning books and then about 20-50 pages into it, I pick up another book (see the bedside assortment listed above). This is one of my worst habits and one I really hate. Commitment phobia rears it's ugly head in some many places in my life. I just can't help but think there is a small, or rather quite large, message in THAT card in THAT book. Sometimes I wonder...



come and get it

I have seasoned chicken in the oven right now. The smell is amazing and began wafting from the kitchen about 10 minutes after I put it in the 350º box. The smell is of earthy paprika, pungent garlic, and sweet basil. It smells like home, like a weekday dinnertime when a family's house is quiet after a day of harried activities and mouths are watering.

My father gave me this container which describes its contents as "The World’s Best Chicken Rub." He bought it at Food Lion, a place I never go because Ukrop's has spoiled me and I am OK with the overpriced ingredients for my cooking, or lack there of. I don't even know where a Food Lion is around here. I'm sure I've passed one on my travels trough town, but I couldn't tell you where. The seasoning gift was unexpected and handed to me in the Food Lion bag with the receipt still inside. Two containers where purchased, one for me and for my brothers family. I think I was the afterthought, but my dear sweet dad didn't want to leave me out.

The seasoning is described as a "rub" and the directions tell you to brush the seasoning mixed with oil and lemon juice over the chicken. In my kitchen, the brush consists of a plastic bag and there is no lemon juice. A poor single girl's kitchen is usually devoid of fancy cookery, i.e. brushes or fresh citrus. I actually do own a cooking brush, however, I believe I bought it at the dollar store and then only in the hopes that I would someday make delicate puff pastries brushed with butter. I have made none so far.

The brush did make an appearance two weeks ago on Easter weekend when my visiting mother sort of decided I would cook a ham for the family on Saturday night. I didn't know until I was cooking it that this would be my job. I've never cooked a ham before. Luckily, store-bought spiral sliced hams are pre-cooked, you just have to know how to heat them up and glaze them. The glazing scared me and when I asked my mom how to do this she simply said "brown sugar and mustard." "OK," I thought "but how the hell much of either one?" I couldn’t ask her again, she was busy with my little nieces and there was an air of "Have you learned nothing from me?" in her voice. I looked in the cupboard and found a clump of petrified brown sugar and of course there is always mustard in the fridge. I remembered that brown sugar comes back to life with heat so I set the stove to high flame, put the brown sugar and a splash of water in a small pot, squirted about 6 seconds worth of mustard and stirred. The resulting taste test was good; it tasted familiar, like sweet Easter ham.

Two hours into the ham warm-up I pulled it out and brushed on my brown sugary mixture. The glaze was perfect, sweet and tart and just right for a first time try. My parents let me keep the leftovers because I'm poor and because they live 3 hours away. I said thanks, that I'd eat on it all week. I didn't touch it after they left, despite my glaze of glory.

The first few months I lived on my own with no dining hall or catering company to feed me (college dorms and sorority respectively) I bought more food than 3 people could eat in 2 months almost each week. I researched and concocted difficult recipes from Martha Stewart and Junior League cookbooks. I even spent 3 hours on a fancy dinner for a going away party for a friend once. (I've since learned that friends will come over for your grilled cheese as much for your "whole roasted chicken with goat cheese and sage.") Now, I've settled into the typical single girl's fridge. I have a door full of condiments waiting for a salad or bread and meat or even fries, but I have none of those things actually in the fridge to put them upon.

In college, my fridge was stocked for weekends and nights I just didn't want to leave the apartment to go eat with my "sisters." One roommate and I would try to make what we thought were balanced meals. We would go grocery shopping and come home to heat up canned beans, boil a bag of rice, and bake chicken with rosemary in tinfoil for 45 mins. We thought our moms would be proud. We also bought an entire red velvet cake once and after 2 days gave up the polite slicing and plating to simply spear it with a fork as we stood at the kitchen counter in our pajamas and bare feet and chatted about how we had really sunk to a new low.

During the day today I had a brilliant thought of going to the store after work to pick up a fresh lemon to squeeze in the bag with the chicken and over some freshly cooked rice. I never made it to the store and the poor herbed chicken has no side dishes, no friends to share the stomach with. A single girl just doesn't have the time or the energy really for all the fuss, and especially all those dishes. There will probably be no leftovers either (what with the 1 piece of chicken I fixed), my fridge will go another day (or 10) with not much more than fancy mustard and light Italian dressing. But, right now my dinner's calling me.



apples and oranges

Miraculously my blessed computer is now typing. I have no idea why it decided to go bananas and turn the letters "HJKL andM" into "1234 and 5." I took it to school today and I think maybe my baby didn't like being away from home. I wasn't that upset as my computer has been showing signs of trouble for a few months and I expect that everyday may be it's last day. I have an order to send it in to Apple but am terrified that they will wipe out the memory and start over with all the programs. This makes me want to run away with my sweet sick computer and try to nurse it back to health. But, I know I can’t do that. So I'll have to work on saving all my things like my music and documents and pictures. This is not that hard, just dump it on a disc, but I have a habit of rereading things and going through everything and reminiscing. What should take me about 2-3 hours will probably take me 2-3 days. I'm just sentimental like that.

My laptop is my baby. In fact, that's its name, My Baby. In the upper right hand corner of my Macintosh G4 Titanium is a tiny replica of my hard drive and the words "My Baby" underneath. My laptop is one of my best friends. Not like "Oh I can’t wait to go home and type on my computer." But kinda. And no, I'm not a computer nerd. I use it for writing and Internet and well… music and pictures and to watch movies and a to play a game for about an hour every 6 months or so. It's like a best friend who enjoys a good flick, listens to my favorite tunes, and doesn't disagree with my neurotic banter, AND travels with me almost everywhere I go. This current computer is 2 years old, but is still fabulous. When I bought my G4, my older G3 was only 2 years old and one of my brothers thought that I was crazy to buy another one and asked which one I liked better. I stated that it was like choosing between two children, it was like Sophie's Choice, the Apple Macintosh version.

If you like Macs then you LOVE them. There are few Mac people who could go either way, PC or Mac. I am quite obsessed with my Macs. I've had 3 so far and used pretty much every version they have come out with. They are beautiful, efficient, and easy to use machines. This is the first time I have ever had enough trouble with one that the friendly techies on the Apple help line couldn't solve. This is the first time they have asked for me to hand over my baby. I'm scared, but today with the typing fiasco I came to terms with having to let go for bit and let the experts do their thing. Then I realized that my G3 was still available. I couldn't wait to get home and dig it out, to feel the tall, black keys under my fingers. Pressing them is like pressing down on soft dough. It makes writing fluid and effortless. I miss that keypad.

When I opened the black chunky laptop I ran my hands over its edges. The design team at Apple gave the G3 PowerBook curves, like a woman. The edges are smooth and shapely; the sides of the computer make subtle "S" shapes. It's high fashion, computer style. I miss the friendly rainbow Apple at the base of the screen. It goes to show that Apple did not make a big enough impact on the world market to claim the rainbow Apple without bringing along the rainbow symbol and all of its stereotypes. Apple now goes for a sleek mono-colored, often white or grey, Apple, a more stylish replacement to its colorful twin. The rest of my G3 is simple and elegant. There are no extra buttons to "go straight to the internet," "open you’re email," or anything else that junks up a PC keyboard. There could be key functions that did those things for me of course, but I get to decide, Apple does not predetermine my preferences. I think the thing I love most about Apple is the company's adherence and strive for simplicity. Their computers have clean lines and their mice have one button, not five. Choices can complicate life. A simple gift, that is was Apple has given us in its computers.

PC people think that we Mac people are strange. "The whole world is Windows and you are using a Mac. You poor deluded youth," someone once told me. I told him he better step back and then began my rant on why Macs reign supreme. I was showing someone a keying shortcut on a Mac (like open Apple and s for save) and explaining the ease and simplicity of Macs and she said "Oh, they got those shortcuts from Windows." I said, "No you didn't" and then explained how Bill Gates just made a PC version of the perfected Mac interface because people were sick of having to remember which drive to boot up and save on. Deluded youth indeed. My cousin says she would rather go without a computer than own a PC, which is what she is currently doing. She gets her Mac on at work.

It's a far better place at the top of world my friends. Come to the land of milk and Apples, we are a friendly, simple-minded, and visionary bunch. And remember... as you sulk at us that almost every piece of music or visual media you hear or see has been touched by Apple.

*Anna is OK with being in love with her computer.


i can't help it

My computer is on the blitz. When I went to type today this is what I got: 2230234550300 and that was just hitting random letter keys. Um, OK. Have to send it off. I'm scared they will erase it's memory and leave me with a shell of a computer and I will have to start all over. But, I can't exactly do anything on it unless I develop a code language using 01234 and 5. But, who has time for that?



tour de not france

This is a quote from a graduate of my college from my graduating year,

"I am about to finish up two year of MBA education at the Wharton School and will start work in September at McKinsey & Co in their Brussels office. Between graduation and starting work I plan to bicycle across the USA in 48 days..."

Our five year reunion is this summer and some people have chosen to update all those who are waiting with bated breath to see what they have been up to over that last five years. The above update caught my eye because really, as if the Wharton School wasn't enough this guy had to throw in his hot job in Brussels and then of course the side note about the cyclying across the USA, but that wasn't enough, no, then he had to add that he'll do it in 48 days. Sometimes, I wish I had gone to a small town college where I would send in updates like "I just consolidated my debt and hope to be out of my misery is 5 to 10 years." And my fellow classmates would think "Wow, I really wish my life were as on track as hers. I really need to reassess my life and get my goals straight." OK, well, anyway, I've got to run. My bicycle needs to ridden, around the block in 48 minutes. Wahoowah!



london calling

This past week was my Spring Break from school and I spent most of it tidying up loose ends and looking for a condo (not successfully). All in all, not an exciting week considering that this time last year I was getting over my jet lag from London.

Last year that I had a longing to revisit my favorite city in all the world. After my first tiring and horrendous year of teaching, I was planning on going backpacking through Europe with a girlfriend of mine, but she backed out. Then, I thought I would spend a summer in London as a reward for getting through the fire, but I failed to ever find out how to rent a flat for a reasonable fee for a few months. So, two years later, after 9/11 and with a pending war in Iraq, I decided that I would go to London, by myself. There is a time when you realize waiting around for other people isn't worth it.

Luckily, British Airways had cheap tickets and AAA travel helped secure a great cheap hotel and off I went. My family was not pleased AT ALL. My brothers were convinced I would be blown up mid flight, my mother thought I would be killed on the streets, but I (and my therapist) thought why live in fear? I almost backed out though, because at the time the war in Iraq was only a month old and I did get scared. But I knew I had to get through the bit of fear for many reasons. So, here is what got my on the plane; I thought, sure I can stay here and be safe and not take the risk and it will drive me crazy because the plane on which I have a reservation will be flying with or without me so I can be on it and be in London or sit here for a week and wish that I had gotten on it, because after all the worrying it didn't blow up. So, I got on the plane and I loved every minute of it.

It was wonderful and fabulous and there are not enough cliched things to say. I saw 4 West End shows and revisited my favorite spots and went to museums and shopped and loved it. A good many people think that it was ballsy of me to go and to go alone. I've never had that feeling about that trip. My parents instilled great traveling skills in me and traveling just feels like breathing sometimes. I love it and I must do it. I think I am my best self when I am traveling. I'm an easy traveler. I don't stress about what the day will bring or getting through an itinerary because the best things happen when you don't plan. There are too many stories to back up that statement, but the places and cities at the moment should be the tour guides, not a piece of paper or a set schedule.

I missed the traveling this break. I had planned to treat Richmond as if I were a tourist this week and go to the historical places and museums that I've been meaning to go to, but the week slipped away from me and now I have a paper due. Sometimes, the real world is not quite a nice as the magical, mystical, travel filled one inside my head. Oh well, there are always books to take me there.

I'm currently (and just now) reading CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET by Sophie Kinsella, a British novelist. I bought the book last year in Harrods of all places because I knew that it was not in the US yet and I enjoy her books. They are the mindless Chick Lit type that a girl just needs sometimes (don't worry I also bought some Seamus Heaney). So, I hadn't read it until now because I've been trying to read a little more high-brow (though not much more- maybe just a brow lift). So, I got it out the other night and read a few chapters each day. Then, in B&N the other day I saw it is out in hardback as a new release. Funny, how it's not new to me at all and yet it is new, now.

Last year I took Kinsella's book SHOPOHOLIC TIES THE KNOT to London as I had just begun to read it before the trip. It's about a girl who loves to shop (obviously) who is British, but lives in NYC, but goes back to England to get married (again, obvious). I would take it on the Tube to read between stops because I also feel that when traveling, you don't need to always act like a tourist (do what the locals do, read on the Tube). So, I was on the Circle line train going to Leicester Square by way of Embankment reading and reading and being nonchalant. The funny thing is that I was reading about the main character visiting her friend in London and going out for tea in Sloane Square when the train stopped and the doors opened and I heard the announcement of Sloane Square station. Sometimes, the universe just aligns. And, no, I don't believe in that crap, but sometimes... Sloane Square and Sloane Square meet and I just can't compete.



the devil made me do it

And by the devil I mean Uncle Sam. I now have to sell my soul and get a second job. Turns out, I do owe taxes (see 4/3/2004 post). I went back today to pick up the papers that had been sent to the processing center and there it was in black and white tiny type "You owe (arrow) {more money than you have}." Thanks Uncle Sam, thanks. The reason why I owe in the first place is because I tutored some kids last year. And, being the honest taxpayer that I am, I reported all income and expenses and now I owe. That stinks. Honesty, sometimes, not the best policy for my I-really-want-to-go-shopping-but-now-I-have-to-get-another-job self.

"O where o where has my little life gone?" Over the hill to "Do you need any help or are you just looking?" I'm thinking Barnes and Noble again. I love that place. OK, so most of me wishes that small independent bookshops were the norm rather than giant corporate monsters, but when I walk in there and there are a million books on any subject and the Starbucks and the prettiness, oh the prettiness of it all. I love that place. I have to work there, not because I love it, but because I have to, to pay the taxes and thereby accrue more taxes and then next year get another job and, oh god, will the cycle ever end?

Fraid not.



from me to you

I hate it when I settle into a quiet night of phone calls to my friends and not one of my dear friends is home. There is nothing like a warm-hearted answering machine to make a girl feel loved. I mean my friends are fabulous. They are kind and funny and fun and far away. Distance from my good friends hurts sometimes and so when I call them out of an act of loneliness and they are not at home, the loneliness gets deeper. Their fabulousness outshines my fabulousness to nothing and I go back to what I was doing before the desperate plea for conversation.

Tonight, I got 6 messages and 1 number out of service. The latter was a friend of a friend that I've been meaning to have over for dinner, but come on people. Then I think about why I wanted to talk anyway. So much of the time I am just ranting on in my neurotic self-obsessed way and what is in it for them? I hope that I am a good friend, but I know that have my bad moments. One particular friend is excellent at getting me to divulge more and more information. She is a question asker and she is a lawyer. She asks for more and more info. to the point that I have to stop myself and say "OK, so what’s up with you?" about 45 mins. into our phone calls. She is great, but she also feeds my self-obsession. She's also taught me the act the listening because she does it so well. Then there is my best friend who's mother is a school counselor, need I say more. While she herself, doesn't have a degree in counseling, she's actually a science nerd, (you know I love you PK) she is fabulous at her second job. And she does this for all her friends. In fact, she is so good she just may pick friends based on their level of neediness. Hmmmmm!

The immediate lonliness was brought on by my re-watching of my "Sex And The City" DVDs. I just really miss my girlfriends sometimes. I miss the closeness that women can have in true friendships when you live in close proximity. My best friend lives across the country and my other dear friends live 2-24 driving hours away. Oh, the mark of having successful, adventurous, independent women friends!

So, I sit down and write and try to work out whatever brought me to the phone in the first place. I think about what my friends are doing right now that takes them away from their phones. Are they out with other friends? Are they watching a movie? Are they discussing recently read books? Are they organizing fundraisers? Are they laughing? Are they happy? I hope they are laughing. I hope they are happy. They are my friends and I love them.



the wizard of id

On Monday I started the possibility of the process of buying my own place. I just met with a realtor, that's all, no paper-signing going on, no commitments, yet. It's a scary thing this idea of home ownership, signing away your life for 30 years. It's a good idea, financially, but mentally, is this good for me?

I have a few single girlfriends who have bought places. Two friends in Richmond bought houses. I think they have balls. Not that home ownership is that big of a deal, but a house is a big deal. I personally can't go that big. The mowing, the pruning, roof replacement, window washing, it's too much. I can barely handle keeping my 6-room apartment in orderly shape. I can just imagine the letters from neighbors that I would get concerning the jungle that would certainly grow outside my home. So a condo, a condo sounds good to me. It's like an apartment, but I'd get to paint the walls and a tax deduction.

Condo searching is hard. While I'm still in the beginning stages, I've already seen 3 in person and a bunch online. Nothing has caught my eye. I think I am waiting for the perfect one to just fall into my lap. I'm picky, but open-minded. I've told my realtor that I'm interested in city properties and no new construction. I want an old, lived in, worn and wise place. My very nice, my age, trying to sell me a place realtor took notes.

I checked for a ring. There was one. What does it say about me when the men I am not attracted to are married? Does that mean that somewhere out there there is someone who would love my winning personality and bright smile? Oh, this is not blog about me wanting a relationship. This is a blog about me wanting, something, a little more of myself, I guess. There are friends who say, "You will find him when you least expect it." A good friend who is getting married this summer tells every single girl who claims they are OK with being single that they should watch what they say because she felt the same way last year and poof she's getting married. Well, with my relationship phobias, I haven't been expecting it for um, 27 years so, um where is the unexpected? OK, I'm still not ready for all that commitment, so am I ready to commit to a condo? We will surely see.




There is the old cliche that music can change your mood in an instant. Oftentimes, I am the cliche. Driving in my car a song on the radio will put in the mood for shopping, reading a book, or dancing within the span of 8 minutes. The emotional hills and valleys that I go through listening to music come up as quickly as the mileposts on the highway. On Saturdays, when there is work to be done in my apartment, I open the blinds or windows, turn up the radio on an upbeat (usually hip hop) station and get busy. Choosing one CD to listen during one period of productive time is more difficult.

I have a habit of listening to an album until it is worn out and tired. I get a new album and listen to it over and over. I've been known to put certain songs or even the whole CD on repeat for hours. Because of this, I know every word to albums of bands like U2, Sarah Mclachlan, James, Harry Connick Jr., Billy Brag and Wilco, Michelle Shocked, David Wilcox, Jimmy Buffet, and show tunes like Les Mis and Phantom. So much useless information floating around my brain taking up space for real knowledge like whom all of my government representatives are and how they vote in their various arenas. I know that this mind hoarding of information happens to everybody to some degree, but not only do lyrics hide in my long-term memory, but with those lyrics and melodies are visual, olfactory, and textural memories. Songs, and especially whole albums can bring back days, events, and sometimes-whole years. Like James "Laid" CD evokes the memory or Camp Morehead where I was a (non-sailing) counselor for one summer in high school. I had brought the only CD player for the cabin so I forced the 12-13 year old girls to listen to my brooding British music. Camp Morehead was dismantled a few years ago and the land sold to people building their dream second homes on the shores of many peoples childhood summers. I actually hated camp, but every once in a while when I listen to "Laid" I wish for the slow breeze coming off the Bogue Sound and all the little SunFish sailing in the wind. There is another CD in my collection that I bought in the Dominican Republic on spring break my last year in college. A resident of the house my friend and I stayed in played a native Dominican's CD everyday so it became the soundtrack to our visit. The music is poorly produced and there are barking dogs used as part of the beat on one song, but that CD is probably the best souvenir I've ever gotten from a trip. Sometimes, in summer, I'll put it on in my car; roll all the windows down and just drive, thinking of the Dominican. There are many more CDs and even more recollections.

And so all these memories attached to my music cause the choosing of music to listen to at a particular time quite difficult. There are rows and rows of CDs in my collection that I just can't bring myself to play because friends and trips and times in my life are gone and can't be reclaimed. Nostalgia is sad state for me and one I only visit when I really miss someone or someplace. And I'm so thankful when sometimes; somehow with new places and good friends I have the opportunity to attach new memories to the music.



a decree went out from Caesar Augustus...

that all the world should be taxed. And so I went to a local tax place that was giving free tax service to teachers (gotta love those perks). It took two nights because I had to wait the first night for another customer. As I waited an older man who is a retired accountant and who's son owns the business began to organize my papers. He was friendly and we talked for at least an hour. Of course, he knew a lot about me because my life was displayed in numbers before him, but he also told me about his ex-wife who left him six months ago and all the improvements he had personally done on his house that he is now trying to sell. While he was very kind and a great listener, this was all too much information, but I listened and nodded because he was helping me with finances. When I left the first night after getting some of my information entered, I owed a boatload of taxes. I was not happy and immediately began thinking of second jobs. Barnes and Noble has been on my list for a while, but do I really want to work for a corporate monster at the lowest level? OK, I'm a teacher, I really don't have much of a choice.

The next night was more promising, well financially at least. When I walked in, the older man welcomed me and asked some more questions about my paperwork and then said he found a mistake the previous person had made that would save my taxes and actually grant me a return, a small one, but at least it was on the positive side. I was ecstatic. The clouds lifted and I would not have to sell my soul to pay my taxes. He was quite pleased with himself as well and mentioned that he liked to see me smile more than three times. I obliged him the smiles because he was, of course, saving my taxpaying self.

This was a small outfit so all paperwork would be sent to a processing center to be checked and then I would have to come back to pick it up. When I was ready to leave I went to shake his hand. He held my hand well after the thank-you-for-your-help handshake and said "The good news is that I get to see you one more time." I gave a quiet-I-don't-know-what-that-means giggle and turned and walked out. As I left the store a scary thought went through my head, "Did that old man just hit on me?" He is not grandfather, really sweet older. He's the just retired, wife just left me older. Um, no. I then began to think back to the conversations we had had over the past two nights. Did he think there was more than accountant/ taxpayer information being passed?

I have come to realize that I am clueless to men's flirting techniques, even when they are obvious. This usually happens when there is no interest on my part and therefore why would I be looking for signs? There was once the college friend who all of sudden told me he loved me. I stopped being friends with him, pronto (I know, I'm not nice, but he ended up gay so um, there's that). There was a guy at a bar once who told me he had been staring at me and trying to pick me up for 1/2 hour. I had no idea and I'm glad actually, he ended being quite cute and oh-so strange. Then there was a guy at weekend long party who followed me around the whole first night until I realized after he told me that I was the kind of girl he wanted to marry that I really needed to just be around my girlfriends. I hate those clueless girls, the ones who have guys swarming around them while they are supposedly oblivious. I guess, sometimes we all are That Girl. Regardless if the old tax-man was getting flirty or not, I can't help but feel that my tax refund is now just dirty money.

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