Sunday, June 26, 2005

An improvised weekend

A steamy weekend in June feels like a gift. I don't really consider it to be summer in Maine until 4th of July, so it's kinda surprising that I've worn my bathing suit for two days in a row. Yesterday afternoon, Darren pulled me away from the computer to go for a paddle, down a tidal river, out to the beach and back, with some friends. This morning, they all went out again into Casco Bay, while I sat on a different beach, drank iced coffee and read the paper. It was heavenly. I've actually gotten my work done, and am free now for the rest of the day, which is slated to include a trip up to a lobster pound up the coast... unless the thunderstorms actually happen as predicted, in which case we'll go to Plan B. (Plan B is... there is no Plan B.)

Last night, our summer festivities even included pulling off an entirely off-the-cuff meal. We got our first delivery from the organic CSA farm we belong to on Friday, plus we had some veggies left over from the week before. So we decided to slice some eggplant into rounds, brush it with olive oil and grill it. While Darren was doing that, I made a quick sauce of minced garlic, mint and yogurt, and then made a salad with farm lettuce (so tender and tasty), carrots and scallions. Dressed it with a simple mixture of salt, pepper, oregano, olive oil and white wine vinegar, and we were ready to go. We put the eggplant and sauce into pitas, and carried them and the salad out to the back deck, where we ate quietly and sipped some white wine.

It was fabulous (especially when followed by the first two episodes of Season 5 of The Sopranos on DVD... mandatory viewing in light of the fact that we're headed to NJ next week for the Italian side of the family's annual 4th of July picnic, which is on par with Christmas Eve in terms of family importance. And no, I am not kidding.)

Note to Salon bloggers

Hey y'all -- I have actually been reading your blogs lately, and have even tried to comment a few times in the last several days. But I'm getting a 403 error when I comment on all Salon blogs. Looks like comments are down on them right now anyway, so maybe it's not just me. But I suspect somehow I've gotten on some blacklist... if you've got any ideas about how to clear my good name, let me know!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Summertime, and the living is... ok

The last few days have been the kind that remind me why I live in Maine. Thursday morning Darren and I went for a run down to a park near our house -- a run past million-dollar houses, with water views most of the way and a lovely lighthouse to gaze on, too. Then I walked over to our local bakery/coffeeshop for some coffee and a brief work meeting before we began our festivities: lunch out (starting with Bloody Marys at 11 am) and the schooner ride. It was a gorgeous day to be out on the water, with the sails on this beautiful wooden boat flapping above our heads.

Then, yesterday, we went to my sister's for a BBQ. We brought the dogs along and sat outside sipping margaritas and catching up with friends. We played bocce in the twilight, I got clotheslined by their big, ridulous dog's lead (leaving me with legs looking like those of a little kid: bruised, scratched and with a couple large rope burns), we watched the sun go down and then ate homemade strawberry ice cream. It was lovely.

And all of that was sorely needed, because things have gone completely batshit crazy at work. We're experiencing a bunch of turnover in our little company; my department, which has 4.25 people, has a new employee starting Tuesday, and I just learned that my previous most recent hire is leaving for grad school at the end of summer. Which means I need to start the hiring process again.

And, of course, I'm going on vacation next week, most of which will be spent down in New Jersey at my parents' place. Which means that I have a ton of work to do over this weekend if I'm really going to be able to leave at the end of the day on Friday. And I also have to do some minor revisions to the freelance piece that dominated last weekend. And I have to try not to think too hard about all the other crap going on at work. As my best work pal said yesterday, the success of this weekend depends completely on our ability to compartmentalize our lives.

So on this glorious first real weekend of summer, I'll be the one on the back deck, with coffee, some dogs and the laptop, clicking away. And as soon as that's done, I will try my best to forget it ever existed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It was the sauvignon blanc, I swear

So all the work got done. I need to do some minor revisions on the freelance piece in the morning, which is no big deal since our company is taking the day off for a staff outing -- lunch out followed by a schooner ride in Casco Bay (read: lots of drinking).

Today I heard more news about random acquaintances who are having babies. This leads me to believe that I am either (A) very competitive or (B) actually do want a baby, because my reaction was to be Very Pissed. And then worried.

Because there's this bizarre thing that's been going on: Last week, I had to have X-rays of my shoulder, neck and spine for the new (and not so wacky) chiropractor I've been seeing. The X-rays had been scheduled a few weeks previously; when I first showed up at the hospital, they asked if there was any chance I was pregnant. And I said, "Uh, yeah, maybe, I dunno." I wasn't even sure I'd ovulated yet, but we'd been reconvening the procedure with some regularity, so I figured it was safer to just reschedule. Which I did.

So last Thursday, after a couple weeks, I took a pregnancy test: Negative. Took another one Friday: Negative. Went for the X-rays Friday morning, at which time they grilled me about potential pregnancies, because of the really horrible things X-rays can do to a fetus. I said everything was fine, so they did the X-rays.

And then days go by, and still no period. And so this morning at 5:30, I woke up to go to the bathroom and decided to take my temperature (even though I haven't been charting for a few months): 98.2, ie, still high, ie, sign of possible pregnancy. So I took a pregnancy test and then sat at the computer, Googling "Xray pregnancy" and being horrified by the results.

The test was negative, which is a relief (sort of, but not really). My period has not been this late since I went off the pill last fall, which is freaking me out. As is the fact that we've been "trying" (god, how I hate that phrase) for nine months with no success. (Still, I did manage to go back to bed and back to sleep for 90 minutes, so I must not be all that stressed...) Anyway, I am one mixed-up, irritated and slightly tipsy woman.

Our plan has been to go back to the charting (oh god, with the waking up to the beeping of the digital thermometer, which has got to be one of the most miserable sounds EVER) as soon as my next cycle starts. Which, apparently, is never. So, to recap, I am simultaneously:
1. Hoping I am pregnant;
2. Freaked out that if I am pregnant, and FirstResponse happens to manufacture some truly shitty tests, that the resulting baby will, at best, have two heads or, at worst, be a Red Sox fan;
3. Hoping I am not pregnant;
4. In which case, why the hell have I not gotten my period?
5. And, then, obviously, wondering what miserable, intractable malady I might have instead.

All of which is why it's terribly bad news that I am scheduled to spend all day tomorrow having fun rather than being distracted by my impending mountain of work.

Oh, and PS: My grandmother is in the hospital again. Oy.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Status report

Freelance story
Regular story editing
Four-mile run (sans iPod, which crapped out after two blocks)
Un-grumpy reunion with husband (a lovely evening - walked to the Thai place in our neighborhood, whose hostess I will one day have to rumble with given the obvious extent of her devotion to my husband, then strolled down to the beach just after sundown)
Father's Day calls to father and grandfather

Still to do:
Finish writing other story
Grocery shopping
Clean up clothes bomb in spare bedroom (including finally unpacking from Detroit)
Read Sunday NYT (esp. intriguing story in Styles section about whether Adam Brody is gay (how could this be possible??))
Make haddock, and sweet pea risotto (this is not a fish risotto, just fish with risotto on the side; am having trouble figuring out how to indicate that via punctuation) for dinner w/ friends tonight
Figure out what to tell parents I want for my birthday (the big 33 is a few weeks ahead) other than more hours in the day and/or a weekend without work

Yikes. Back to work.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Spin me right round

I am having a serious motivation problem. I have a large freelance piece due Monday. I've done all the reporting -- I have pages and pages of notes, many of which are irrelevant to my story. I can't quite figure out exactly what the story is about, though, and so I am sitting here paying bills, browsing through some blogs, listening to the dishwasher cycle and pointedly not even opening the Word file that contains my notes.

Darren is still in Boston; he stayed last night to hang out with his brother, who flew up from Tampa just to see the Sox game. They're tooling around town today, and D. will take the bus home this afternoon. I've been cranky and irritable with him on the phone, in part I think because I have spent so much time working in the last 10 days -- and absolutely no fun time with him -- that it's about all I have to talk about.

Since I left for Detroit a week ago Thursday, it's been an utter whirlwind. I returned Sunday after three jam-packed days, including sessions all day Saturday. Then, from Monday to Friday, the earliest I arrived home in the evening was 8. I have essentially fed the dogs, checked e-mail and fallen into bed each night. (Short digression: I'm really wishing I could stay awake and read longer; I'm about halfway through The Known World, which is excellent... which you might have guessed from the glowing reviews and the Pulitzer it received. It's complex, though, so I have to backtrack a bit every night to remember what's going on.)

And that's part of the reason I'm having such trouble getting down to work today. I've got this freelance magazine story to write, plus a story for my own paper to finish, plus at least one more to edit. And that does not a fun weekend make. If I can get the mag story done before D. gets home, though, it would be a major accomplishment. And then I might be able to stop sniping at him and actually enjoy his presence.

Yep, I'm opening that Word document now, just as soon as I look up the link for that book I mentioned...

Update on my idiocy: I am working from two versions of notes -- one document from home, one from work. They began as the same document, so they have the same name. You know where this is going, don't you? I opened the work version I'd e-mailed myself and promptly saved over the home version... forgetting, of course, that the home version was the only place I'd saved the notes from the 45-minute-long interview I did with a bold, outspoken (read: very quotable) woman. What's even better is that the first time I tried to write this addendum, I accidentally deleted the whole damn thing. This does not bode well for the rest of my afternoon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Body check

Last weekend in Detroit, I spent more than a few minutes bemoaning the fact that the top half of one entire wall in the hotel bathroom was mirrored. So when you step out of your clothes to get into the shower, there you are in all your... flab. It made me really self-conscious about this body of mine -- the very same body that, I've noticed, isn't fitting so well into the clothes I buy it. So I whined to my co-worker (and weekend roomie) about how everything seemed to fit awkwardly and my body is bugging me and why does this happen?

Then, this morning, I got on the scale. There was the answer in black and white. I have apparently gained a few pounds since the last time I weighed myself (probably a month ago). For lots of people, that would be no big deal. But, and I know this sounds moronic, I am not used to gaining weight. I spent high school and college and a few years after as skinny as a twig; at one point, the doctor wanted me to gain weight and I couldn't. I didn't worry about weight -- heck, I was even confident enough to be a live model for art classes during college (shut. up. - it was the best paying job on campus!). I didn't have any kind of supermodel body, but I was pretty comfortable with what I had.

In the years following college, I slowly put on about 20 pounds, 15 of which were probably good for me. That last five pounds has always bugged me, but not enough to do anything about it. Now comes an extra five more, and all the sudden I'm feeling flabby and bloated and fat. I'm more than irked by my own body -- I don't think disgusted is too strong a word. And that is a really odd feeling, to experience that for the first time at almost-33. I feel like there's this part of American womanhood -- an ugly part that I thought I'd escaped -- that has caught up to me in a hurry. I'm so self-conscious all the sudden... I'm noticing upper arm flab (lunch lady arm! oh god.) and these weird pillowy boobs, and I just don't know what to do about it.

Actually, that's not true at all. I know I need to get my running shoes on more than once a week. I know I need to skip the afternoon cookie and the evening ice cream and have a ripe, juicy peach instead. I need to lay off the steak and think about veggies. And it probably wouldn't kill me to cut back on the beer, either.

So how did I do today? Well, there were no snacks and no beer, but for lunch I had two pieces of leftover pizza... and dinner was Annie's mac and cheese with a tomato cut up on top. Not exactly the picture of a weight loss diet there, though I did refrain from eating the whole box. Ugh. Darren's out of town until Saturday, and I've got hectic days tomorrow and Friday (including at least one rubber chicken banquet dinner, at which the only good food is typically dessert). So it ain't the best time to introduce the New Regimen. But ya gotta start sometime... and, for me, it's now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Concerts what I have heard

So, as promised, I spent a bunch of time in seminars last week compiling a list of the concerts I've attended, a meme propagated by Angry Pregnant Lawyer via Phantom Scribbler. I apologize in advance for the length of this list, but you've got to understand that I was raised by a musician who later worked at a radio station (read: free concert tickets), that I spent much of high school and college dating musicians (Freudian implications be damned) and that I wrote reviews of concerts for the local daily for a while in the late 90s (lousy pay be damned).

Acts in parens are openers; those separated by commas are co-headliners. Local bands you've never heard of are omitted. One more caveat: These are very loosely in chronological order, but not really. And, with that, happy scrolling.

Starship (Cutting Crew) backstage passes - I have Grace Slick's autograph somewhere...
Robert Plant
Eric Clapton
Don Henley (Edie Brickell) x2
10,000 Maniacs
Tracy Chapman (Johnny Clegg & Savuka)
Bob Dylan
Steve Miller Band
Steely Dan
Fishbone, Primus
Johnny Cash
Ani DiFranco x4
Maceo Parker (Groove Collective)
Too Much Joy
Indigo Girls
Grateful Dead
Paul Simon
Soup Dragons
The Church
Cowboy Junkies x2
Joan Baez
Pat Metheny x3
Roy Hargrove
Alison Krauss & Union Station
Dick Dale
Shawn Colvin
Letters to Cleo
Michelle Shocked
Barenaked Ladies
Soul Coughing, Everclear
Shawn Mullins
B.B. King x2
John Hiatt
Bruce Hornsby
Robert Cray
David Gray
Lyle Lovett
Natalie Merchant
Cheryl Wheeler
Cliff Eberhardt
Lucy Kaplansky
Dar Williams x3
Kevin So
Ellis Paul x10 at least, probably more like 15
Pat DiNizio (of the Smithereens)
Patty Larkin
Richard Thompson
Greg Brown
Bruce Springsteen
John Gorka x6 or 8 at least
Aimee Mann
Jayhawks x3 if you include the Mark Olson/Gary Louris show I saw in Feb.
Lucinda Williams x2
Beth Orton
Rickie Lee Jones
Kathleen Edwards

WNEW's Memorial Day concerts in Asbury Park - Joan Jett, Roger McGuin of the Byrds, Glenn Burtnick, etc.
Lollapalooza - The second one, featuring Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jesus & Mary Chain, Ice Cube
Lilith Fair - Sarah McLachlan, others I can't remember
North Atlantic Folk Festival - John Gorka, David Wilcox, The Nields, Christine Lavin
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival - Greg Brown, John Gorka, Richard Shindell, Tracey Grammer, The Nields

God only knows how much cash -- and eardrum follicles -- this list represents...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Catching up...

I'm back from the Motory City all in one piece (though I did require 12 hours of sleep last night in order to recover from three-and-a-half days of wild conventioneering) and with one heck of a concert list to reproduce for y'all. Only problem is that the husband is applying for a new job and the computer has been tied up with resumes, cover lettters and other dreary things. He's away for several days later this week, though, so there'll be plenty of time for updating then.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Out straight

It's a zoo around here. I'm dragging due to either allergies or the onset of a cold, plus working on not one but two freelance assignments on top of my actual job, then I spent three hours in the middle of the day today in the ER with my sister (who turns out to be fine), on top of which I am going to lovely downtown Detroit for a conference from Thursday to Sunday.

All of which is to say it's going to be quiet in these parts for a little bit. I know, I know, the wailing and gnashing of teeth is about to begin. Be strong, people -- I know you can handle it.