Tuesday, March 30, 2004

We wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner...BUT WE WOULD!

Another random discovery that completely made my day: Ian Golder's consuming devotion to macaroni and cheese dinner.

For the record: always Kraft Dinner; prepared with a wooden spoon (in fact, THE Wooden Spoon, with which Grandma used to chase us around the house, threatening a beating), but eaten with whatever utensil at hand; for dinner, but leftovers may be consumed at any time; more often than I care to admit; directions are for dopes.

Oh--and in adulthood, with plenty of both black and cayenne pepper, but in childhood...cut-up hot dogs. Ambrosia!

(Yes, we probably had some of that, too, with the mini-marshmallows and the nondairy topping.)

Aw. Grammy. I miss her...would gladly take a few whacks with The Wooden Spoon for the chance to tell her so.

Red pen validation

If you're reading this, you probably know I'm an editor--primarily of technical documentation for my JOB job, but also dabbling in things like doctoral theses, updating my mother's resume after 21 years, and "you're funny! Make my personal ad funny!"

Anyway. I'm working with a new writer at the J-O-B: new to me, and new to writing in general. Today she submitted her first-ever draft to me, accompanied by the greatest e-mail I'll likely receive in my career:

"I just checked in my first document for Edit1. Please be really critical so that I don’t start out creating bad habits."

I'm telling you, this reaffirmed my entire accidental, thought-free trajectory into professional nit-picking. As long as we're on the same page from the get-go, we should get along just fiiiine.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Let be be finale of seem

Over a number of years working with my therapist (which in itself feels nicely New Yorker-y--I'm in analysis), we've established that both of us are foodies. We talk about restaurants and compare cheeses; we were gleeful when the Sand Point Metropolitan Market opened; during my house search, we spent more than one session debating the merits of different kitchens. Yesterday, though, it somehow came up that we're both ice cream fiends as well. I can gnaw my way shivering through a cone in 20-degree weather; it was nice to find that someone else shared this particular obsession. I began to tell the story of how a particular strain of Ben and Jerry's fueled my entire Master's thesis, and then they stopped making it--

The Good Doctor (agitated): I know exactly what you're going to say!

Me: You do?

The Good Doctor (vehement): DASTARDLY MASH!

Well, how do you spend your fifty minutes?

Actually, though, that wasn't it. I was a devotee of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough; I'd sit there pecking away on my fourth-hand Apple II C, with the cast-iron monitor stand that weighed about 20 pounds, and alternating between ice-cream pints and the occasional bowl of cold cereal. At some point during the most intense two weeks of composition, I went to chuck a dead soldier in the trash, and got a look at probably half a dozen similar empty cartons. I am still not sure whether to be proud of this.

For the public good, however, I submit to you B&J's Flavor Graveyard, where you can submit a Web Form pleading for the dearly departed staple of your own tender recollection. If The Good Doctor is keeping up with the blog, we know where his vote is going.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Mom said no (volume I)

It appears that Topps is trying to revive Wacky Packages for a new generation.

God, just the sight of that "Scrapple" sticker is making me gag. Mmmm, nostalgia. Actually, the Garbage Pail Kids stickers were the ones that drove my mother completely crazy; they were verboten in our household. But putrid parodies reigned supreme; I remember a friend of mine having a similar coloring book of some sort, with full-size labels you could cut out and paste over actual product packages. We got away with "Crust" toothpaste at Grandma and Grandpa's.

Interesting, that Art Spiegelman was one of the original gross-out sticker artists. Then Holly wrote her doctoral thesis on him. And I edited it. Heh. The ciiirrrrrcle of liiiiiiife....

This is not my beautiful house!

Note to Mike: I promised you an update last night, but the Internet connection that was working so beautifully when the cable guy was standing in my living room...is not. Sorry. Furtive at-work blogging...commence!)

I've settled into my new place, for the most part. I'm not completely unpacked--my Native American name is Lives With Boxes--but the physical transition of my belongings and my life from decrepit rental to My First Home is complete. I'm sore from all the toting and hauling; I'm covered in bruises from the waist down, from walking into the corners of boxes and randomly placed furniture...it looks like I've been in a prizefight with a toddler, or a midget. Sunday I actually transferred over the remaining stuff out of the fridge, and I bought some accompanying groceries last night, so now I am prepared to offer guests something more than leftover pizza, a single Coke, and Girl Scout cookies. (Thin Mints, of course--do you take me for a Philistine?)

When I started this whole first-time homebuying process, I tended to see each experience as a significant milestone: My First Meeting with the Agent, My First Open House, My First Horrified Recoil at How Much Hovel You Can Buy For $290,000. When I signed the first page of my loan pre-approval package, my heart was pounding wildly; I thought, "I'm doing it! I'm signing! I'm doing it!" After the first dozen pages, the excitement began to wane. After the subsequent bids on two houses, inspection reports, addendums, actual factual loan applications, and closing on my 1942 2-bedroom Cape Cod, my signature is a senseless scrawl that will probably never recover. At the closing itself, I must have signed or initialed 100 times--the document that says you'll live in the house, the document that references that document, the document confirming receipt of those documents, the document attesting to your awareness that gnawing on your vintage windowsills might cause you dain bramage and it's your own damn fault. I lost sight of those keepsake moments, a little.

But moving in has brought it all back. Saturday night, I performed My First Home Repair when I went to close the stopper in the bathroom sink and the whole drain-lever-mechanism-thingy came off in my hand with a metallic zzzzink. Oookay...so I lay on the floor with my head in the cabinet and proudly figured out what to reattach to what. Yay, me!

At 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning, I awoke to My Second Home Repair, sort of. It was pouring outside, and the newly installed downspout just outside the wall I'd put the head of the bed against...is not entirely perpendicular to Earth. Instead of smoothly trickling down the pipe, rain was falling from some high point in the spout and hitting the interior at an angle of juuuusst...five or...six...degrees.

It was REALLY raining. And the raindrops were REALLY hitting. Bong bong BONGabong bing BONGA bongbongbong bing bong, just above my pillow. It sounded like a drum circle at the Folklife Festival. You could almost smell the Patchouli. To my glamorous 16-year-old college nightshirt, I added sweatpants, my glasses, Converse high-tops and a ski jacket, and slogged blearily outside where, in the blackness, I confirmed that the noise was coming from the pipe. What to do? It was the wee hours on a Sunday. I was in my jammies. My downspout--or my house--were minutely askew. This suggested a need for tools. I trudged back in to bed.

Bong bongbongbong BONG BONGA bong. Tossing, turning, anguish, buyer's remorse...until I remembered the earplugs in the nightstand, from two noisy apartments ago. I squished the little orange foam bullets into my ears, listened to them gradually reexpand and muffle the world down to only my own heartbeat. Silence! Problem solved!

This home ownership thing is gonna be a snap.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

What's in your wallet?

It's been a while, I know. I'm in the process of buying my first home--or, I should say, I've purchased a very excellent front doorknob and the bank has graciously agreed to let me live behind it for the next 30 years. So: distracted.

I've spent the last week making random, erratic forrays into packing. This should be relatively simple: I last moved just a couple years ago, and in the intervening 26 months spent assorted free weekends sorting through and streamlining all the crap I'd shoveled desperately into the truck in the preceding move. Did I really need my lecture notes from "Race, Gender, and Identity in Literature" from 1991? There probably won't be another quiz. The mates to stray socks are not waiting at the new house. Waldenbooks pay stubs totalling $119/week can be safely shredded.

I did find myself, last night, going through a bulging, cracking old wallet that I'd stuck in a drawer when I downsized to a just-the-essentials model last year. It's like moving, in a microcosm: Which of these possessions were significant enough to your essential self that you carried them around with you? How do they define, quite literally, your identity? How have you changed? It's an old standby writer's exercise: what's in your character's wallet, and why?

Let's look.

* Driver's license from 1994. I had bangs. I had not previously considered mascara. Hide this one from my future children.
* Reciepts from movie rentals. I think I'm done with "Memento" now.
* Defunct Eddie Bauer charge card. A closer examination of the move-induced Closet Reorg would not suggest that I had let this lapse, what with Mr. Bauer's signature on 82% of everything I own.
* Punch card for Elliott Bay Book Company.
* Punch card for Second Story Bookstore. I'm sensing a trend.
* Two different punch cards for Papyrus, the greeting card store.
* Punch card for Subway.
* Punch card for Taco del Mar.
* Punch card for Lane Bryant undergarments. I sense a more unfortunate trend.
* Staggering amount of loose change that changes the wallet dimensions to more those of a brick.
* Ticket stub from the X-Files movie. Aw. Remember when I wanted to be Scully? Pre-LA, pre-Duchovny leaving, pre-what-the-hell-have-they-done-to-this-show-is-Chris-Carter-on-crack Scully? That was awesome.
* A note from my sister, when she was a small child. I've actually carried this around for maybe 20 years. It's a two-inch stub of notebook paper, outlined and torn from a separate sheet; in green ink, it says, "I like you Kim," and it's signed.

I kept the note, again. It's so her; that's the thing. It's economical: why waste a whole sheet of paper on few words? It has her name on it, too, in case you weren't sure where to focus your attention or reciprocal affection. And it's very particular in its semantics: she likes me. Sure, she loves me; she's my sibling, it's a genetic imperative. But she likes me, too. Or she did, once. I'm not so sure that the adults we've grown into would find enough common ground to be friends, had the established relationship not pre-existed. But the note is evidence of a sort: that we had more than one set of matching dresses, once upon a time...and that we had slapfights over particular rugby shirts and patterned ski sweaters, later. That we have the same wicked cackle and can finish each other's sentences. That I read "Mickey Mouse and the Haunted Mansion" to her so many times I can still quote pages verbatim. That once we fit into the same bathtub. That she'll be 31 next Wednesday, but occasionally I still picture her in a knit Tootsie-Roll pompom hat.

She'll never read this...I haven't tipped the family off to the blog, yet. But happy birthday anyway, sisty.

Oh, and you look like a monkey, and you smell like one too.