Friday, November 1, 2013

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

SkellyIt’s Halloween clearance sale time!

My mission today was to get us a couple of rain ponchos for tomorrow’s ND-Navy game. It’s looking like we might have rain, darn it. But the good news is that we get to tailgate with a group from Ken’s work AND the Blue Angels are in town and are going to do a flyover right before kickoff! This is very exciting, because they’ve been idle since the budget cuts, so this is the first time since then that they’ve flown. What an honor! My nephew Michael is a huge fan, and he’s in seventh heaven, going out to the airport to check ‘em out and everything. All my local friends have been posting about hearing them fly overhead, and I heard them, too. It’s an unmistakable sound!

Anyway, that was the mission. As always with a trip to Target, there was mission creep, as our friend Mark likes to say. I was successful in getting the ponchos, and even saved a few bucks by getting myself the kids’ size. That’s where the savings stopped. I made the mistake of checking out clearance racks and got some tank tops and t-shirts (although I did save some money on the t-shirts because I got them in the girls’ section) and even a couple of bras—NOT in the girls’ section, and anyone who says so is going to get a stern look from me!

Then I found the Halloween clearance aisles. Uh oh. I’m actually rather proud of my restraint. I limited myself to just a few things. I passed on the skull, but got the little fella above. I have named him Skelly, because I’m super original with my nicknames. Just ask Groundy the Groundhog...she’ll confirm that. I also got a cool “adult ball mask” made of black metal with red glitter and clear beads, because I was just in New Orleans and I wanted a mask, dammit! I’m not quite sure what the “adult ball mask” is meant for, but it sounds fun, doesn’t it? Heh. Also scored a couple of pairs of fishnet tights, because a gal can never have too many fishnet tights. Those babies don’t get runs in them...worst case scenario, you’re going to tear a hole in them, but then you can wear them with a more punk kind of outfit. Reuse and recycle, Citizens! It’s the responsible thing to do.

I meant to do a more serious entry today, because I’ve been pondering something quite a bit. It’s a dangerous thing, I know. But time got away from me today, and I want to really think about this entry and do it justice. For now, I’ll just say that sometimes we have no idea how much we can have an effect on others, even in a brief time. One person I met last week has caused a profound shift in the way I look at things and a real attitude change in me. I don’t mean to sound all melodramatic, but I can honestly say that what transpired was an epiphany for me. In the words of VP Biden, it was a big fuckin’ deal.

For now, enjoy a little rockabilly with the Stray Cats, Daddy-O! Fishnet stockings are Brian Setzer-approved, and that’s all right with me!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Feel free to laugh at my plight

Beth SelfieLast Saturday in New Orleans, Ken and George and I headed out in the afternoon to find a place to watch our games. We had Notre Dame vs Air Force going on at 4, and George had his LSU Tigers vs Furman at 6. The problem was that the ND game was only on CBS Sports Network, and not every place has that. But we finally managed to find Ryan’s Irish Pub on Decatur, who post all the games they are showing that day in a note on the door. One of the bartenders kindly turned the TV closest to us to the ND game!

During the course of the game, in which we had to deal with some Alabama fangirls whose voices were seriously like nails on a blackboard, we had a bite to eat and a bunch of beers. The first time I went to the restroom, I came out of the stall to wash my hands and laughed out loud when I saw where they’d placed the bathroom mirror. All of about three inches of my head was showing, and I was even wearing sandals that had two-inch heels!

It cracked me up so much that I came out to the table and grabbed my phone to get this picture. Ken and George thought it was hilarious, and when I posted it on Facebook, a lot of my friends thought it was hilarious, too. My friend Stephen said it might be the funniest selfie in the history of the Interwebz. Everyone laughed at me! *sob* But since I was laughing, too, I couldn’t blame them. Believe me, I got over being short a long time ago. It can be frustrating at times, but it also has its advantages. I can handle plane rides fairly well, and there’s pretty much zero chance of being decapitated by a rotating helicopter blade.

Beth selfieI don’t recall how it came up, but a couple of days later, Stephen made some comment about me being a meme. I was like, “Hey, I’m not a meme!” He said, “You are if I have anything to say about it.” And he made the second picture. I about died, and could not stop laughing for quite a while. He really brightened my day, and I definitely needed it then! Well, I always like having my day brightened, but that was especially appreciated at that time. Stephen and I have met in real life, so he knows I’m not kidding when I say I’m short!

Another friend, Alaina, posted the video below, which just shows that I have lots of friends who are simpatico, because I immediately thought of this song, too!

Coming up this weekend, we’ve got Notre Dame vs Navy, and it looks like the Blue Angels are going to do a flyover. Super cool! We’ve also been invited to a tailgate with Ken’s engineering group at work, and that’s super cool, too! What would be really wild is if I run into David Robinson at the game. He’s a Navy grad, you know, but his son is playing football for Notre Dame, and the Admiral will be there. If you think the bathroom mirror selfie is funny, imagine me standing next to 7’1” David Robinson!

Carry on, Citizens, and Happy Halloween, you little maniacs!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The fine art of surfacing

Coming up for airAs I mentioned, I’ve really been struggling with this transition from full-blown party vacation mode to my much more uneventful everyday existence. In retrospect, perhaps it was a bad idea to do all that laundry in one day. It just made things feel that much more mundane and tedious.

The past couple of days, when I’ve woken up in the morning, I’ve heard the sound of a lone saxophone coming from far away, like what you often hear in the French Quarter. Obviously, no one around here is playing a saxophone at 9 o’clock in the morning, and it’s not like we have any super close neighbors out here. Except for Neighbor Dave, and I’d be willing to bet the farm that he doesn’t play saxophone at all, let alone plays it that well! So I knew I was hearing it in my head. Lingering memories of wandering around the Quarter, hearing great music everywhere, even from street musicians. For this music lover, it’s pretty much heaven on earth.

I’ve been in a funk since we’ve been back, and I was unable to snap myself out of it just by having a stern talking-to with myself. I made the good decision last night of writing to Shane. He and Matt just got back from a great two-week vacation to California and the Southwest, and Shane is going through a very similar post-vacation blues. He totally got where I was coming from. He went from being in the desert, sitting around a campfire, and looking up at the stars to dealing with customers and the frustrations of his job. He said he’s been thinking of being back there and looking up at the stars. I read that this morning, and I sat here and cried, because he got it. It’s not about not loving what I have here. It’s about enjoying myself so much and feeling such incredible euphoria for an entire week, and then returning to a much more quiet existence. I knew I’d find my happy place again, and I told Shane we could help each other get through this, but I honestly wasn’t sure how long it would take for me to snap out of this.

While the thorn in Shane’s side was dealing with the endless flow of customers and their “issues,” for me, it is the current state of politics and the hyper-partisanship. I had a bit of an epiphany while in New Orleans when I was talking with Jason, but that is a story for another day. Let’s just say that something has gotta give, and I am going to stop the pettiness and demonization of people. It’s the right thing to do for me. It’s unsustainable. It achieves nothing. But anyway...more to come about that in another entry.

I really feel for anyone who is going through a genuine chemical depression, because I was just going through a little period of post-vacation blues, and I was feeling awful. Those of you who know me in person—or even if you’ve never met me and just know me through this blog—know how much that goes against my nature. My friend Dan mentioned in a comment on Facebook a while back that “Beth is one of the happiest people I know.” That made me feel good, because I’m glad it shows. To not feel that usual cheerfulness is just alien and upsetting to me. To top it all off, I had a horrible drowning nightmare this morning, where I fell into the ocean and was getting swept out to sea. I haven’t had one of those in ages, but it’s obvious to me that it’s a sign of anxiety. I remember thinking in the dream, “So I guess this is how I’m going to die, but there’s so much I still want to do!” Not a good way to wake up, and it made my mood even more black this morning.

I’m not gonna lie to you, girlfriend and boyfriend, I was a hot mess!

But I got my act together and headed out to the grocery store. First of all, it was great to be behind the wheel of my Mustang again, to hear its roar, to hit it and tear up the road with the leaves blowing behind me. Nothing like a muscle car to make you feel a little more empowered. At first, I had NPR on, but I thought, “Fuck that!” (sorry Diane’s not you, it’s me) and cued a Green Day CD. I cranked it up louder and louder, and sang at the top of my voice. I was blowing out the cobwebs, and it was working! I was feeling better by the time I got to the store, and I made sure to try to smile at as many people as I could, and just that simple act seemed to help bring me out of my self-absorption. On the way home, I listened to the same song and cranked it and sang again. As I was getting close to Nutwood, I thought about taking a little spin around the dirty back roads, but I knew I had too much to do, and that yogurt wasn’t gonna refrigerate itself, right? Besides, I was feeling pretty okay by that point.

After putting away the groceries, I went out to do my workout and I hit it hard. I’d taken a month off of weights because of a strained muscle in my neck, but I was ready to pick it up again and it felt great. Viva la endorphins! I spent some time in the afternoon catching up on my online courses, and History of Rock Part Two is going to be even better than Part One, in my opinion.

I find it fitting that what I’m probably missing the most about New Orleans is the music and getting to hear such great stuff starting in the early afternoon and going most of the night, and music is what pulled me out of my funk. It has been my solace for as long as I can remember, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Thanks, Green Day. I needed that!

Here is the song that blew out my cobwebs, “Dirty Rotten Bastards.” Really fun to sing along with, with lines like “Calling all demons, this is the season, next stop is therapy.” This IS my therapy, guys!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Laundry day from hell (that’s what she said edition)

Vintage laundryUGH! Let me just bitch about this and get it out of my system.

I didn’t go anywhere today and decided to tackle Laundry Mountain. By the time I got everything separated, I had three huge loads. (That’s what she said! I’m sorry, I just had to.) By the time I post this entry, I’ll be finished with #3, so I can legitimately say that I made Laundry Mountain my bitch. HA! So there.

I can usually spread things out in the week a little more (go ahead and fill in your own “That’s what she said!” comments when you find it necessary), but I really wanted to just get it out of the way and done. It’s not so bad when you can spread it out (see the beginning of this paragraph), but doing it all in one day is just so incredibly tedious. I did other things, too, like got my workout done and talked to my Mom, but it was in between hanging and folding.

BLEAHHH! I’m sick of laundry! Fuck you, laundry! [flipping laundry the double bird]

Okay, I feel better now. Thanks.

When it’s all out of the way, I can focus on getting caught up on my online classes. I’m a week behind and we’re already well into the following week. I did manage to watch last week’s Vaccines video, so I’m not as behind on that one. The connection at the hotel was often wonky, though, and there were periods where I couldn’t connect at all. So I just blew off the rest of the lectures and figured I’d catch up later. Hey, just like real college!

I did manage to keep up with using the program to scan for outbreak cases for my Epidemics class, and picked up quite a few in my meanderings. I’ve found and isolated 31 cases so far. Yay! Some people have found in the hundreds, so they must be right in the thick of the pretend outbreak. The new phase is that some of us doing the scanning are also infectious, so we’re going to spread it when we scan. Yikes! If I’m lost in the carnage, please remember me fondly.

I’m also easing myself back into cooking, because I’m totally out of that mode right now. I’m starting easy with some kielbasa, and...oh, what the hell? One more: That’s what she said! Anyway, I’ll gradually work myself up to more ambitious options. Probably my favorite New Orleans dish is crawfish étouffée, and I had a couple of great ones on this trip. The first one was at Oceana, and maybe it was because it was the first full day there, but it tasted like ambrosia to me. The second one was at Desire Oyster Bar, and although it didn’t wallop me up the side of the head the way Oceana’s did, it was mighty good. I resolved to try my hand at an étouffée. I’ve made gumbo and jambalaya, but I’ve never attempted étouffée. I found my recipe from one of the cooking classes we took in New Orleans, though, and I’m going to give it a shot! I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find some frozen crawfish somewhere in town.

Hey, who do I gotta blow to get some crawfish in northern Indiana?!

I’m so sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I’m in full-blown—HA! See?!—sassy mode, and I can’t seem to stop myself. Don’t worry about me. This will pass and I’ll be back to my usual sweet, angelic self and…

Bahaha! You guys know me better than that! I couldn’t keep a straight face. But I WILL calm down eventually and attempt to be a tiny bit more appropriate. I’m sure this is a lot to swallow. [deep breath]


Disneyland for adults

HalloweenWell, we’re back, it’s chilly, and I’m missing New Orleans. Waaaaah, Ricky!

It’s okay. I’ll snap out of it soon enough. I felt like this after the Stones concert, and I was okay after just a day or so. It’s just that first morning after, you know? I started feeling sad when we were getting ready to leave the hotel, and I actually cried in the cab on the way to the airport. Something about driving out of the French Quarter just really gets to me.

This might be the best time I’ve ever had in New Orleans. I’ve always had a great was great on our honeymoon, it was great with our friends Kim and Steve, it was great with Shane and Matt and George...but something about this time was even better for me. George came over from Houston to see us again, and it made me feel great to know that we have a friend who was willing to do that for us. But there was something more to it, and I’m not quite sure what it was.

The closest I can get to it is that I have a greater sense of my own mortality after turning 50, and I just want to enjoy every moment. New Orleans is an incredibly sensuous experience. The sight of the winding river or the sunlight coming through a tall window into an interior courtyard; the sound of a washboard vest or a smokin’ hot guitar lick or horses’ hooves clopping along a narrow street; the taste of a plump salty oyster or the burning sensation of a shot made with Everclear; the feel of the sunshine or the caress of a breeze on your skin or the sometimes cloying humidity; the smell of something good cooking somewhere, or the smell of you-probably-don’t-really-want-to-know-what. If you let yourself, you can become completely immersed in this city, and I’ve never felt it more than I felt it this time. I suppose you could not give into it, and just sit back and take it all in with a dispassionate air...but why the hell would you want to do that? I obviously haven’t been to every place on earth, but I think it’s a fair enough assumption that there is probably nowhere else on earth quite like New Orleans. I adore the place, and it got into my blood from my very first moment there. It’s still in my blood!

Beth and MariesSince I last updated, we saw the Daywalkers a couple more times, and they were all just incredibly nice. I had the chance to chat some more with Jason (the guitarist), and watch this space for a little more concerning him and the band soon...I hope! It sounds like there may be a CD coming soon, too...I hope! All these damn bruises I picked up down there will vanish soon...I hope! (Seriously. It’s bad. I’ve got bruises everydamnwhere.) We got to see them on Sunday, our last night there, and it was even more fun because the Saints were in town and won, so everyone was in a great mood. I’m still sore from dancing, but I wouldn’t change one moment! Thanks, you rock! Jason, you’re a big sweetie, and thanks for not hating me because I’m a liberal...although you swear up and down that I’m not. Haha!

We also seem to have found the perfect time to go: Halloween week. The oppressive humidity is gone, but the temperatures are still very pleasant. (I still kind of like it in the summer, because I hate wearing lots of clothes, but you know...hurricanes.) The place is crazy, with lots of people in costume, and I was thrilled to get to see my first New Orleans parade, the Halloween Krewe of Boo parade. The floats were amazing! I even got to dance with a bunch of Marie Antoinettes, and as you can see, George got photographic evidence. (That’s the Daywalkers in the background, too!)

We also got to see Gypsy Elise, who we saw last time and just loved. That last time, we got to the restaurant kind of late, but they kept playing past the time they were supposed to stop because we were all loving it so much and appreciating it. They kept playing for five people! We still laugh about grooving to “Word Up.” We got to shake our tail feathers at another place this time, and there were plenty of other people doing the same thing. Great to see her again!

Halloween3I got to meet lots of new people, and as I alluded to in the previous entry, that’s not always easy for me to do. I sometimes have a hard time talking to new people, but everyone in New Orleans is just so friendly, and so many people just want to have a good time, that I found it easy to strike up conversations and not feel as socially awkward as I often do. Maybe that’s another reason I love the place so much. I can be the kind of social person I’d like to be without stressing about it or working too hard at it. I don’t know. I’m probably over-analyzing that. But there’s no denying that when meeting Ken’s colleagues this time, I felt more relaxed and comfortable in that kind of situation than I ever have. I felt fine when chatting up Jason, and not shy at all. So many people don’t believe that I’m shy, but it’s true. I have to really work at it. It’s not quite as hard for me in New Orleans. There’s just something about the city that brings out The Happy in people. Of course, it sometimes brings out the Drunk Asshole in people, but that happens everywhere. I see it often enough at Notre Dame games!

Oh just struck me. What if I wasn’t just bringing out The Happy, but I ventured into Drunk Asshole territory? What a horrifying thought! Well, people were hugging me and shit, so I couldn’t have been too much of a Drunk Asshole-type. Unless the people hugging me were Drunk Assholes. *GASP* No, wait...Jason hugged me, and he was neither drunk nor an asshole. Whew. I think I’m okay.

Ahhhh, thank you, NOLA. You are a gem, and I couldn’t love you more.