Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mixin' it old school

So I somehow stumbled across Phantom Scribbler's blog the other day and read, among many other witty musings, this post, about the heyday of mix tapes. You've got 'em, I'm sure -- tapes made by old boyfriends, tapes made by friends, tapes made by friends with secret messages of lust hidden among the songs... I keep most of mine (both the ones made for me by other people and the copies of ones I made that I kept for myself) in my car, which is so aged as to only have a cassette player. And while I used to know these tapes track by track, it's now a complete surprise as to what song comes next.

It's early, and I'm not nearly as eloquent as PS on this topic, so I'm gonna quit the yapping and post the contents of one of my all-time favorite tapes. This one was made in the summer of 1994, after I'd just graduated from college. I was living at home and working at 7-11 (a job I'd gotten because I knew I'd hate it so much as to find something better to do) and partying like crazy with a bunch of high school friends who'd stayed around. Then I found out that my application to join a volunteer program and go to Santa Fe to work in a (now defunct) boarding school for Native American kids had been accepted. So this tape was made as a goodbye gesture to my friend P., with whom I drank a lot that summer (and many summers before and after).

In my journal, where I keep all the set lists, it's named "Jersey summer," but the cassette itself is labeled DEAD BIRD for reasons that I can not remember; I think it had something to do with a dead seagull in a wading pool in the backyard of Bruce's house, where we used to drink a lot?? And that it was funny? Who knows.

Anyway, without further ado, today's mix tape blast from the past:

Side One
Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins
Hey Ladies - Beastie Boys
Make It Funky - James Brown
Gentleman - Afghan Whigs
Hoover Dam - Sugar
Ocean Size - Jane's Addiction
Leaving Trunk - Taj Mahal (a little literal with that one...)
Bouncing Around the Room - Phish
Settled Down Like Rain - Jayhawks
Summer of Drugs - Soul Asylum (umm, that one, too...)
Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen (hello, it's Jersey, the Bruce song is obligatory)
Rearview Mirror - Pearl Jam (again with the literal)

Side Two
Sing A Simple Song - Sly and the Family Stone
All I Want - Sheryl Crow (this was long before this song was an overexposed hit. I just need you to know that.)
Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
Llama - Phish
Accidents Will Happen - Elvis Costello
Positive Bleeding - Urge Overkill
Eye Know - De La Soul
Shrine - The Dambuilders (one-hit wonders, I believe, but it's a really fun song)
Maria's Wedding - Black 47
Two Places at Once - The Church (getting sappy...)
When You Dance, You Can Really Love - Neil Young (the obligatory song that seems out of place when the tape is done)
Respect - Aretha Franklin
Stay - Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories (more ambivalence)

In retrospect, Side One is much stronger; Side Two gets a little schizophrenic. And after I gave this tape to P. and went to New Mexico, he made me several mixes, at least one of which was full of all kinds of hints that he was into me... Looking back at the contents of the tape I made him, I can see why he may have thought I'd feel the same.

Enough reminiscing. Time for a shower and another 11-hour work day.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Valentines tonight, Christmas tomorrow

So, yeah, we're a little too busy catching up on past holidays to celebrate Easter this year. And ever since I quit even pretending to be a practicing Catholic, I feel guilty about celebrating a religion-less Easter anyway (see, no church and all the guilt -- what a deal!).

This evening we went to see Rickie Lee Jones, which tickets we bought on the spur of the moment (read: after a couple beers) early last month. Valentines Day was coming and neither of us had thought about it one bit. We'd gone out for dinner, then wandered over to the record store for some drunken debit-carding. As we were on our way out, we passed a poster for RLJ, solo acoustic -- at the local high school. So we turned ourselves around, charged the $70 and marched back to the car.

We got there a little late tonight, after a fabulous dinner at the local Thai place with F. and S., and sat in the back row of the high school auditorium, which has incredible acoustics. And wouldn't you know it, the last two seats were right next to several extras from the movie Deliverance. I suspect that RLJ has a significant biker following, and these folks must have been part of it. They're the classic concert bores -- hooting wildly at the first notes of every song they recognize, then singing off-key or, worse, chatting throughout it about how much they love this song. I shushed them, despite my better instincts, and had the pleasure of them shushing me back several times through the night.

As for Rickie, she is an odd bird with an amazing voice. She did all the hits -- "Chuck E.'s in Love," "Easy Money," "Last Chance Texaco" and a bunch of the more recent stuff -- plus at least one selection from her latest album, which apparently was inspired by anti-Bush sentiment.

Now I'm as liberal as the next over-educated New Englander, but I have about had it with the crappy art being created by legitimate (and previously somewhat apolitical) musicians as a form of protest against this administration. As if Bush himself weren't bad enough, now I've got to listen to clumsy peans to the fact that he's ugly and his dad was, too? Please. Musicians of the world, if you write a song about him, you are letting the terrorists win. Please go back to your regularly scheduled songwriting. A grateful nation thanks you.

[end of tirade]

As for Christmas -- that comes tomorrow. Darren bought me tickets to see George Carlin for Christmas. The show was scheduled for January, but then ol' George checked himself into rehab and the show was postponed. It's on again (as far as we know) for tomorrow. I don't know if you've ever heard him interviewed, but he's a whipsmart guy with an intense curiosity -- and a wealth of knowledge -- about language. And besides that, he's been in a couple of Kevin Smith's movies, which makes me like him all the more.

Will rehab have taken the funny out of Carlin? I'll let you know. In the meantime, merry Christmas!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The question of procreation

I think I might, in fact, be losing my mind. I'm so damn conflicted all the time about whether -- and how -- to do this kid thing. There are days when I want nothing more than to see a little Darren or MC running around, when I welcome the idea of a shift in priorities, when I anticipate the fun and challenge of raising a whole 'nother human being.

And then there are days like the recent ones, when I'm content with our life as it is, with my job and Darren and the pooches, with wine with dinner, with the ability to travel and eat out pretty much whenever we want to. I worry that the guilt I feel now about working too much will be magnified by about a billion if we have a baby, and I worry about judging myself too harshly when it comes to motherhood.

And unlike, it seems, a lot of people, I have been unable to reconcile these sides of myself. Reading the discussion over at So Close about why people wanted to have children just caused more stress -- there are so many people who are so damn sure that this is what they want to do. (Granted, at last check there were 183 comments, and I didn't read every single one of them.) So I am really struggling with the idea of where doubt fits into this whole process. People say frequently that they couldn't imagine not having children. Well, I can. And I know I could live with that. I'm just not sure whether I want to.

None of this, of course, was helped by listening to Judith Warner on Fresh Air last night. Her recent book (here's a link to a Newsweek story that excerpted it) is about how middle and upper-middle class women have lost themselves in their all-consuming quest to be the Perfect Mother. She attributes some of this to society -- this is what happens when you set overachieving, highly educated, competitive people to work throwing birthday parties and scheduling play dates -- and some of it to the lack of government support that mothers and families have in the U.S. There's been a ton of debate about her book and her assumptions; I don't want to get into that -- I certainly talked back to the radio a few times last night -- but I will say that I can see myself getting sucked into the vortex of perfection in mothering. I do it All. The. Time. in the rest of my life, so why would I leave mothering out??

So that whole debate makes me scared about the person I could become if we had a wee one. And I know that is in my control, to some extent. I know that things will change, and I'd have a hand in how they change. But all these questions make me scared... and content to have my after-work schedule include grabbing a pint with co-workers instead of picking up a kiddo at daycare.

On top of it all, my mother informed me last week that she is starting a 54-day rosary for me. She said that it ends on Mother's Day, and that every day she is praying for me to get pregnant. On top of which, she has asked several friends and coworkers -- many of whom I do not know in any way -- to pray for me to get knocked up. Granted, this is a woman who prays for parking spaces at the grocery store, so this is not all that unusual. (My family and religion... there's fertile fodder for a post or 6,000.)

But still, I was very much taken aback. I told her that I'm still ambivalent (not, ahem, that it's actually stopped us from trying) about the whole topic and that even if I weren't I'd really prefer that a bunch of strangers don't spend their time thinking about the state of my uterus. Needless to say, that hurt her feelings and she told me to forget she'd mentioned it. My guess is that the strangers are still praying. Yikes.

I have no conclusion for this post, but I've got to hop in the shower and get to work. Thoughts, anyone?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

An exciting turn of events

It's been a bit of a whirlwind around here for the last couple weeks, and it shows no signs of stopping. Friday night we went to see the house my sister and her boyfriend had closed on that afternoon -- it's about 1.5 miles away from our place, and we've been really excited that they have decided to stay not only in Maine, but so close to us.

They gave us the tour of their cute little house, and as we were standing in the finished basement, debating where they'd put the TV, my sister quietly said, "P. proposed tonight." And so the excitement continues -- he is a great guy, and I am so thrilled that they've decided to get married. (He popped the question as they were standing outside the house, fumbling with the keys to open it for the first time.) We were really honored to have pizza (again!) and Asti Spumante with them in the empty house that night.

Then yesterday we helped run a gigantic rummage sale fundraiser for our friend D. The event turned out really well - we made nearly $1,900! - but it was a huge and exhausting amount of work. I spent the morning and late afternoon lugging things around, and the middle part of the day trying to convince bargain hunters that we weren't interested in haggling, since we were trying to raise money for a wheelchair lift. I was really irritated by the hagglers, but they were offset by a couple extremely generous people -- one guy bought two CDs, and gave us $40.

Other things... There is a long thread over at Tertia's about why people wanted to have kids. I've been pondering this a lot more lately (more indecision has reared its head) and want to write about it at some point soon. And I'm hoping to get cooking, literally, again. It's been takeout city here, and we need to get back on track. It's hard to do so when I look at this week's calendar and realize that we have plans Weds., Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights. And I'm hoping to blog more during the week. I've noticed that a lot of my fave bloggers have slowed down recently... perhaps we're all enticed by the approaching spring...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pizza, beer and bread

Heard from the doc yesterday, and it was good news: I do not have celiac disease! What a relief. They're not sure why my blood tests were positive if the biopsy was negative, but the biopsy is the gold standard, so there's no chance I have it. Phew. We had pizza and beer to celebrate last night... and somehow, since I worked verrrry late tonight due to a last-minute plagiarism discovery (fun, fun, fun), we ended up having the same thing again tonight.

So, our regularly scheduled cooking/babymaking content will be returning ASAP.

And, on a final note, in homage to this blog's title, I actually went running this morning at my swanky new gym. (Went once last week, too, if you can believe that.) It is so fancy I can't believe they even let me in the door - they have Bumble and bumble products in the showers. And the showers? Are heavenly. River-rock floors, so your feet get a nice little massage, and one of those rainfall showerheads that come straight down from the ceiling. I have a free membership through work, but I swear, if the luxe touches inspire me to work out more often, I would pony up the $95 a month myself.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Photo spread

One of the joys of a Maine winter... that's me, trekking through the woods on a walk back from the beach after the last snowstorm (prior to the one that dumped nearly a foot on us yesterday, that is).

And here's Jelly, enjoying what comes with a very large canine visitor. Not sure if you remember exactly how sad and ill Jelly looked when we first got her, but she is the picture of (cranky) health these days, and we love her to pieces, especially when she bares her teeth at Lucy, my sister's Airedale/standard poodle mix, who belongs to the bone in question.

Limbo, limbo, limbo

I've been a bad blogger for the last week... only now logging on as a way to procrastinate from writing the story I need to get done before the weekend is over. My thoughts have been unsettled and jumpy this past week, and I haven't felt much like straightening them out enough to write anything interesting.

The big topic I've been pondering is, of course, the celiac thing. I get the test results tomorrow. It's been absolutely no fun to be in the in-between time; if I have it, I'd like to just know and get on with my life. Instead, at every meal I assess what I'm eating, whether I'd be able to eat it in the future, what I'd eat instead if I couldn't, etc. And that is an exhausting way to live.

A friend who's currently house-hunting and I spent some time earlier this week talking about how tiring it is to be waiting for the results of something life-changing. We've been more frustrated than usual with our boss lately, and that thread wove itself into our conversation. I had an aha! moment when I realized how many large things are unsettled in the boss' life right now. Doesn't make the work stuff any more fun, but at least it gives me a clue as to where the boss is coming from.

Darren and I haven't yet settled on vacation plans, but I'm planning to spend a fun weekend with two close friends late next month. Maybe Darren will go to Florida on his own and we'll save a joint vacation for warmer weather... we'll see.

In the meantime, I've got this story to write, and a bunch more CDs to load on my iPod. And a dog to walk, and the Sunday Times to read.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cabin fever?

I was just over at Ginga's place, completely identifying with both her funk and her wanderlust. I'm also feeling the need to get away, to break some routines, to snap out of my life a bit. Spent yesterday afternoon looking at plane fares --- for Seattle, where fabulous friend K. lives, for Tampa, where Darren's brother lives, and for Puerto Rico, where absolutely no one we know lives.

Of course, complications abound. Tix to Seattle are expensive. Tix to Puerto Rico are expensive from northern New England, but cheapish from NJ, where my family lives. But of course we'd have to pay for a hotel room in PR, which makes the whole enterprise much more spendy. As for Tampa, tickets are very cheap, and we could stay with Darren's bro. But that in itself creates a bundle of other questions, such as, do we really want to stay with A. and his girlfriend, who don't like to cook and can only converse about sports and movies? (Really, I am not exaggerating on this one.)

A further complication of the Tampa possibility is that we would go in late April, when the Red Sox will be playing the Devil Rays, so as to catch a game or two. And those dates coincide with the production schedule for a large issue at work. I am conflicted about whether I should leave my staff to do that issue without me, and further conflicted about what kind of example I set if I stay. I suspect we will end up going to Tampa and trying to arrange a place to stay other than the bro-in-law's, somehow without hurting his feelings.

All of this travel planning was the epilogue to a long day that began with my endoscopy, the last hurdle in the celiac diagnosis. I won't have the definitive results until the 14th, but the doc said it looks likely that I have it. Ugh. I've been joking about the imminent change to a diet of meat, cheese and red wine... which I could live with, but which wouldn't be easy.

I've been trying not to dwell on it --- ha! --- and instead thinking a lot about all the things I wouldn't be able to eat, such as pie, rye bread (or really just about any bread, for that matter), pizza and glorious, lovely beer. Eating out, which is another thing I live, would become very difficult. On the bright side, I could eat all the bacon I want, as well as most cheese and all tequila (the hallmark of a healthy diet).

I'm also about to join a new gym, a vedddy fancy place at which I have a free membership, courtesy of my job (one of the few perks I get). I'm trying to look at the gym membership and the celiac thing as part of a new campaign to Make MC Healthier... the end result, theoretically, would be to make me happier, too. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Life is like that

Our friend D. comes back to Maine tonight from Iraq, which is wonderful.

Darren's dad is in the hospital with some heart problems. It doesn't look too bad - he'll probably have to have his second stent put in - but it's certainly not great.

And a member of my family is going through what can truly be called a tragedy involving the death of another person.

I used to think that upheavals like this, series of emotionally draining, wrenching events, were unusual. That they were something to be gotten through until things got back to "normal" again. I thought about this topic a lot about 18 months ago, when we first heard that D. was going to be called up, and our other friend D. got her ALS diagnosis and our dog Sparky was getting sicker and sicker.

And all that fall, we were holding our breaths for a long-awaited vacation in New Mexico, where Darren and I met. We left Santa Fe in 1996, and had never been back. So we planned a big blowout vacation with some really good friends, rented a house in the mountains in northern New Mexico and counted on the vacation to settle everything that was weighing on us.

Of course, it didn't. Not only that, but it turned into a disaster the likes of which is funny in retrospect but certainly wasn't so at the time. The gorgeous house we rented in, I repeat, the mountains, had a problem with the heat. It didn't work. It never worked, despite repeated visits by repairmen and landlords. So rather than spending a contemplative week hiking, cooking and gazing at the Sangre de Cristos, we spent it watching pay-per-view movies in a Residence Inn next to the interstate in Santa Fe. (And eating green chile at just about every meal. I'm not kidding: I had a bagel with green chile cream cheese. Mmmmmm...)

Still, I did a lot of thinking that week. And I came to the realization I mentioned above, which sounds treacly and talk-show-ish, but is actually pretty meaningful when you go through the process to learn it yourself: "Normal" life is not the calm, maybe mundane time when things are going smoothly and you've got it all under control.

Normal life is a day like yesterday, when I heard all three of those pieces of news I posted at the top, one after another after another. And it's a day like today, where I get up, put the dogs out and try to reconcile all these things in my head (not to mention trying to get the paper to the printer in time to go to the welcome-home gathering for D. early this evening). And that's just the way it is. And, for today, I'm ok with that.