Thursday, May 31, 2007

Red Lights, Bad Moods, and Bakery Sweets

Oh man I'm in one of those moods. I'm liable to bite someone's head off if they try to speak to me. I'm mentally lashing out at everything. My question is how can I feel like I didn't sleep a wink when I have a bed, a pillow, and air conditioning? It's not like I slept on a park bench or on a cot at a shelter.

Sometimes it's stupid. I get that I'm in one of those moods, but I just keep the bad mood going. It's like I relish it and fuel it by thinking worse and worse things. It all started this morning when I ran a red light. Obviously I blamed it on the damn delivery truck in front of me. I couldn't see the light! It was his fault, the bastard. I would have made the light if I'd been in front of him, and I would have made the light if he'd been a bit quicker to accelerate.

And then I got irritated when Stoker called right after I realized I'd run the light: the ring startled me; I thought it was a policeman. Then when I tried to tell Stoker I had run a red light, he had his own agenda for conversation and talked over me and didn't hear what I said. That's always been a pet peeve of mine. When he stopped talking I was too annoyed to explain that he missed what I said. So I went along with what he said and tried to suppress my irritation. I got off the phone, but was still irritated as hell. Yes, nursing the bad feelings I had for the delivery truck driver who made me run a red light.

As I pulled into my work parking lot, my irritation increased. A co-worker who I quietly compete with was here before me! How could it be? I was five minutes early, even. The way I compete with this guy is by trying to beat him to work (he didn't know about it until I accidentally told him and now he gloats every time he arrives before me). And I always want to arrive before another co-worker too, a girl. Today I arrived before her, so I was okay there. But this other dude.

Then I realized why he was here early. He must have gone to the bakery for sweets (as he calls them) for the party (as everyone calls it). It's someone's birthday today. See, I forgot to get something last night and I didn't remember I'd forgotten until I was already in my pajamas and dozing on the couch while trying to watch The Simpsons. It was too late to go out at that point. I figured it was a lost cause and I'd just grab something at the gas station in the morning (it's like this every time we have a "party").

Then, as I was trying to fall asleep last night, I had a revelation and was saved. Starbuck's cupcakes! I love them, those beautiful, vanilla cupcakes. They're delicious and everyone will love them. They'll be a big hit! I could see it all, unfolding in my mind. I'll be a big hit, too! Though I knew someone else was planning to bring a cake, I could also toss in a few mango-pineapple empanada's with my order, and it would all work out. And then I slept. I think. I don't feel like I slept, but I assume that's what I did.

This morning, when I got inside the building, this cold dungeon of cubicles, I saw that the guy who beat me to work had, in fact, gotten sweets from the bakery. Oh, the downfall. Which brings me to this moment, this present irritation.

Now what am I going to do? We can't have bakery sweets, a cake, AND cupcakes and empanadas! And if I ran, really quick, to a gas station and got my other favorite, Lays plain potato chips, I'm certain someone else will end up bringing them too (at the last party we had, two of us brought the enormous size bag of plain potato chips).

In rebellion of all things against me today, I'm not going to go try to find something for the "party." And I'm not going to eat any of the sweets, the cake, or even the plain potato chips someone else will most likely bring. Besides, on top of all these frustrations, I'm growing a zit the size of Jupiter on my cheek, next to my nose. Of all things!

p.s. Let this be no reflection on Stoker, who is a dear, even when I'm in one of those moods.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Go, Obese-Exercise-Man, GO!

Recently Stoker and I went for a bike ride on the greenway. We passed an extremely obese older man wearing an oversized T-shirt and sweatpants and perspiring heavily. He'd just come up one of the steep hills. I've seen this guy before and every time I think, "Great job!" Because I'm secretly really proud of him. I learned this from my friend Anna K., who rolls down the window and cheers people on when she sees them out exercising. The first time she did this, I think I was about to make fun of them with a snide remark about their weight, because sometimes I'm really small like that. And then Anna surprised me by rolling down the window, waving, and letting out a "woo-hoo, great job!"

At first I was embarrassed for her and for me a little, thinking, what will they say? And then I thought, "Who the hell are they?" After realizing there was no they to laugh at me, I thought wow. Then I asked Anna why she'd do something like that. I probably said, "Anna? What the heck?" And she said something like, "What? It's so cool that they're out doing that. I love it when people exercise!" Something very Anna to say. She has a lust for life that I envy.

And I think when people cheer you on, it really makes you go harder. It helps you to believe in yourself. One time I was out running and going hard. I was sweating up a storm, what with the humidity and the heat. As I came around a bend, there were two older guys walking towards me, who I had passed earlier. This time when I passed them, one of the guys said to me, "Great job! Keep it up!" Or something like that. I smiled and wanted to say thanks, but I might have been out of breath, having just tackled a hill (curse you, Tennessee, and your rolling hills!). But that encouragement from a complete stranger gave me a burst of energy and I felt I could run for forever.

When Stoker and I passed the obese gentlemen, I gave him a silent cheer in my head. Then I looked at Stoker and he seemed sad. I asked him if he was all right and he said:

"Sometimes don't you just want to give people a hug and say, 'It's OK, everything will work out'?"

And I said: "Do you mean that guy we just passed?"

And Stoker said: "Yeah. It just looks like he has a sad life. We pass a lot of people who look like they have sad lives and I wish I could tell them something reassuring."

Then I said: "I've seen that guy a lot. I usually just want to cheer him on, but I know what you mean."

Then I told Stoker how I love and adore him and think he's really precious. How can I not? I'm f-ing lucky to be married to him (f-ing lucky = flucky. New word. It will be all the rage!). As for Obese-Exercise-Man, I don't know if I'll ever have the courage to actually say, out loud, "Keep it up!" Because I am a chicken. So I'll say it here: "Great job, man!" Maybe he's out there, somewhere, reading this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Harleys and Pool-Whores

Let it be said that loud motorcycles bug the hell out of me. I don't know what happened. There was a time when I thought, "Oooh, cool Harley." But now that everyone has one and now that there isn't a two year waiting list to get a Harley and now that every city great or small has a Harley dealership (my word even the small Valley of Cache has one. I'm just teasing, mixing up the words to give you a hard time, it's really Cache Valley), I think they suck. What sucks about them isn't the motorcycle itself because some of them are still cool. It's the choppers. The ones that go "thwup thwup thwup thwup" all up and down the street. It's the ones that disturb my peaceful reverie at the side café as they roar by.

My question for the riders is, "Who do you think you are?" I guess you think you're the bomb because you can drive around a loud-ass bike. Do you consider yourself different? Do you think you're part of a counterculture? I'm just asking because you don't look cool to me. You're not interesting. You're loud and obnoxious. And just to enlighten you, you look creepy with all those tattoos, the shaved head, and the wife-beater. I don't have time to get to know you, so this will never be proven otherwise.

I guess what happened to me is that I got older. My tolerance for noise and crowds and traffic has gotten lower, probably because I've had to be around those things for so long now. When I was a kid everything was a new experience and I was really into feeling things and seeing things. But now I would like a bit of peace and quiet, a glass of lemonade by the pool with a few other quiet, unassuming types like myself, people who are also drinking ice cold lemonade—or, I'd even allow that they're drinking iced tea—and who are not smoking or wearing bikinis that barely cover their flesh; who are not tanned to a crisp, leathery complexion; who are not sporting a big butt-crack tattoo (you know the kind, the kind that span the cheeks like an arch—yeah, I like to call them butt-crack tattoos just for the hell of it, maybe because for the tattoo to be showing, a butt-crack is almost peeking out too). I realize that some might consider me crass, even as I pontificate against crassness. But let it be said I am not crass just because I say ass and hell. If I am crass, it's for other reasons.

When I think about the annoying people at my apartment pool (whose tiny bikinis barely cover their withered and sagging flesh—it's withered from the sun, not because they're old—and who bring a cooler full of beer and who chain smoke while laying out), I realize they bear the same mentality as the guys with the loud Harleys. They are rooted in materialism. And frankly, I am not a material girl*.

*To a degree. I have my weaknesses. I enjoy a few material pleasures, such as books. I love a new book and will buy one just for the sheer pleasure of finding the book, smelling the new ink and paper, and feeling the weight of it in my hands, and then I won't read it for years. Eventually I do. But the thrill is in the experience of buying it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Melinda Doolittle Voted Off

Wha- wha- what? I caught the tail end of the results show last night and missed the entire show on Tuesday. But I know three things:

1) Jordin Sparks is annoying and she would have got to me with her obnoxious simpering, cutsey girl cheekey eyelash-batting faces. And that's why she shouldn't have made it this far. In my book her modus operandi is not so different from Sanjaya's. It's true that Jordin can sing better than Sanjaya, and she attempts to come across as bubbly and happy and I'm-so-cute-look-at-me, hee hee, mmm-wah, mmm-wah (those are kisses), vote for me, vote for me; but I see right through her. And I don't like it when someone is transparent. That's why I like Melinda.

2) Paula would have annoyed me with her stupid remarks, while I would have loved Simon's critiques. The only reason to have Randy and Paula on the show is to provide contrast for Simon. No one cares too much about what Randy and Paula say because they say the same thing over and over again. Especially Paula. Of course, it's always a shock when Paula says something not-so-nice and I do love those moments. I'm not a veteran American Idol viewer so I can't say for sure, but it seems like Paula's mean moments are rare, which is precisely why I value them so much. So, maybe I do appreciate Paula after all. Maybe the real reason she bothers me is because it seems like she just copies Randy. For once, just once, I'd really like Paula to go first. Then we'll know for sure. Except then I'd just expect her to confer with Randy before she was on camera.

Has anyone ever found out the reason behind the judges order?

3) Melinda probably ruled on Tuesday night. I don't get it. Wait no, I get it. It's because Blake and Jordin are somehow more attractive, isn't it? When it comes right down to it, girls are judged mainly by their looks, and men . . . well obviously not because Sanjaya got the boot a while ago. It's the whole package, right? America wants a female singer they can feel like making love to. The male voter wants a woman who can really belt a great vocal line, but also who they can wrap their sexual fantasies around. Is that it, do you think? Because honestly -- and we have to be honest about it, now, because these contestants are chattel, not people with feelings -- Melinda isn't as gorgeous and voluptuous as Jordin. And hell! Jordin's only seventeen. Guys love a younger woman, nay, a woman who's really just a girl (except Stoker, who really digs the older woman thing -- God bless Stoker and men who love older women).

It bothers me, because I don't think justice was done last night. All this time I've been really impressed and surprised by the American Idol voters because it has been clear that Melinda is/was the best contestant, and I couldn't believe people would keep voting for her, despite the fact that she is not the best looking. She's got her own beauty and she's got class, something Jordin hasn't got (class, grace, all those things acquired with age and experience).

Jordin makes me feel like I'm watching a Shredded Wheat commercial, the one where the kid has on adult clothes, except it's reversed because Jordin's trying to be all grown up -- like she really loves Shredded Wheat for healthy reasons, not the frosted side -- but she doesn’t know what it means to be grown up. So she nods her head all the time and acts like she's listening and smiles as if she understands, but somehow I don't feel like she does. There's nothing wrong with Jordin being young, except that her mannerisms bug the hell out me. But I've always been one who's irritated by anything I feel is fake -- like fake happiness. I go back and forth because of course I understand that half the time you just have to fake it, because life can be really shitty. So then I fake it myself. But then I get depressed because I'm faking it.

Anyway, in the long run this whole American Idol thing doesn't matter. It's just a nice distraction for me. Tomorrow I will have forgotten today's outrage. And America will probably end up forgetting Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, and Blake what's-his-name. See, I've forgotten him already.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Life is Good Apparel Does Not a Good Person Make

What is the deal with the world's obsession with the bed of my truck? For some reason, people think it's a trash can. Yesterday morning I got in the truck and drove to Mapco. When I got there, I noticed an old baseball cap with the Life is Good guy on it, laying there all limp and wet in the truck bed. Stupid Life is Good. What a bunch of bull crap. You'd think a person with a Life is Good cap wouldn't toss their litter in my truck. People! It is not a mobile trash can!

Other things I've found in it: fast food sacks, soft drink containers, unwanted clothing, apple cores, banana peels. The ultimate offense? An empty half keg of beer. Yeah, I know. One morning I got in the truck, closed the door and started to back out and that's when I noticed the half keg in the back of the bed, by the tailgate. That one bothered me the most because what if I hadn't noticed it? I'm not sure, but it seems like there are probably laws against hauling half kegs of beer around. That would be a fun one to explain to an officer. OR, it could have really scratched up the paint back there, or come crashing through the back window, knocking me unconscious.

In a way, it's funny. Were it not MY truck, I'd find it hilariously convenient to toss my trash in a random truck bed. What's unbelievable is that it's not just ONE person who's doing it. It happens everywhere. When I'm at home, when I'm at the grocery store, when I'm at the mall, when I'm in Mesa, Nashville, or Logan. It doesn't matter. People are the same everywhere: rude and unoriginal. Once, just once, I'd love to go out to my truck and find a pot of gold in the bed, a rare book, or a Van Gogh painting.

I just wonder, does it happen to anyone else? And do you think there's a way to get people to start leaving good stuff in the bed of my truck? Life would be good -- nay, better -- if people were leaving money and presents for me in my truck bed. None of this empty half keg crap.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day: Lush in Philadelphia and Spider-man 3

In Philadelphia, my sister and I found a really great store. Lush. They sell handmade soaps. I know handmade soaps are a huge thing these days. Everyone's doing it. In fact I've often considered starting my own handmade soap company and calling it something clever like Howling Moon Soaps. I'm not sure why that's clever. The moon doesn't howl, after all. That's why it's clever. Because the moon is howling back.

Anyway, Lush is the cleverest of all handmade soap companies. They have clever handwriting on their signs. They have a clever logo and they cleverly mold it into some of their products, like their bath bombs. They shape some of the foaming bath soaps into clever things, like stuff you'd find in a Candy Land game -- candy bars and kisses -- so you want to eat them. And the products are colorful too. It's a veritable landscape of candy, color, and cleverness. They have tubs of ocean salt for exfoliation, a lemony lotion that moisturizes, and the crème de la crème, their Jell-o shower gels. I mean, who would have thought? A Jell-O shower gel. Some of them even have flowers in the Jell-O, like a real Jell-O with pineapple or carrots (yes, some people put carrots in Jell-O. Crazies).

Obviously my mom's present was from Lush. How could we resist? And she loved it and went back to the store with us and spent $60 more.

On my return flight from Philly, I read Anthony Lane's review of Spider-Man 3. I've been getting the New Yorker for two years now (I used to get it in college, when I was more liberal-minded), but I never have time to read it and I'm not renewing the subscription when it runs out (I'm more moderate/conservative now and the New Yorker opinions suck). But I save all the issues as though I'm going to make time at some point in the future to read all the back issues. I see myself doing this and can't stop. Like, someday I might search through them to find David Denby's review of something I can finally get on video, read it, and then decide I don't want to see it after all. Like I did with the new Spiderman, except this time it's a recent issue and the movie is in the theater.

I won't be seeing the new Spiderman. Unless I'm going just to laugh at it. Lane and Denby kill me with their reviews, especially when they think the film is tripe (like the Britney Spears movie), and though I sometimes wonder which independent film executive producer paid them to make love to their new "indie" movie, the review of Spider-man 3 is probably one of my favorite reviews ever. The thing with Lane is that he often puts into words what the average movie-goer (me) can't express, but most certainly feels. Sometimes you see a movie and all you can say is "it sucked." Then you read a review by one of the grouches from the New Yorker (Lane and Denby) and you feel as though you've found your new spokesperson. Those two are the only reason I have kept a subscription to the stupid magazine. It used to be for the poetry, but then I caught on that the poetry editor was incredibly biased.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Run: Don't be Veal

I started running again in January. It's been an on again/off again love affair for me ever since I was a child. As a child I just ran for the hell of it. You know, like kids do. They'll run over to their friend's house and then back home, just because running is how you get places when you're a kid. It kills me.

On my daily runs I go past a YMCA and there's often an AYSO soccer game going on. I look at the kids and think, "Oh man, those were the days," because I used to be in AYSO. And they probably look at me and think, "Why the hell is that lady running like that?" The kids these days swear a lot. And yes, I'm at the age where kids call me lady. As in "old lady ____" who runs the amusement park and tried to scare everyone away by rigging sheet-ghosts on the carousel.

The kids wonder why I'm running because they run as a matter of nature. They don't understand that when you get old, your body is heavier and running is harder. Life gets harder too and often a body sits more than it walks or runs. We grow from children who die for the chance to go outside in the hot weather to play on the Big Toy or get a game of kickball going, to adults who sit like veal in cages in air-conditioned office buildings. And while some of us get to look out windows, others of us only have Office Windows and Explorer as our links to the outside world. We feel our muscles growing soft and fatty (did you know your body can store fat in your muscles and organs if you're too inactive?), we look at our once muscular, shapely legs and see the pock-marks of blubber cells beneath the surface, and wonder, "Why have I let this happen?"

And that's part of the reason this old lady runs. When I was twenty-two and a junior in college, I ran out of fear that if I didn't, I'd gain that freshman twenty (or is it sophomore twenty?) everyone talked about. I didn't really gain anything until I was twenty-six and an entry-level copy writer. See? I had become veal. Something I had gone to great lengths (three years of graduate school) to avoid.

Inevitably I landed in a cubicle. And my legs grew soft and my stomach became flabby. No matter what I did, that 32 ounce Dr. Pepper every morning took its toll. I guess you can't drink 600 calories every day at a sedentary job, and only exercise three days a week after work and expect to keep the lean, trim figure you had during college. During college I walked everywhere, sometimes up Old Main hill twice a day. It was rough.

So, I'm running again. At first it sucked. At first my legs felt like cement blocks, they screamed with every step, and a mile was like murder. I felt like a fraud, like, "What the hell, who am I kidding? This isn't me anymore." But now it is. It's better. Sometimes I think I could run forever, on days when the humidity isn't a beast and the sun isn't a wench. Even then, once I get into it, four miles doesn't feel like too much for my basic run.

I've just challenged a bunch of people to beat me to 150 miles*. I'm no ultra-marathoner, but I kind of hope to be someday. I didn't get into the St. George marathon, but maybe I'll still be able to run it, and from there I have some other Everests to conquer.

p.s. Don't EAT veal, either.

*Anyone who wants to JOIN THIS CHALLENGE, let me know. It starts May 15th. The catch is you have to do it through the Nike+ ipod feature. So, get a Nano or something, buy the Nike+ sensor, and start running! The winner gets $100 on me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Question of the Year: Elton John or Billy Joel?

Five Questions I Got From the Owner of this BLOG.

Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube or roll it? What's the advantage of your method?

If I have a tube, I squeeze then roll. This has the advantage of getting all the toothpaste out of the tube. Eventually I'll be a millionare with all the money I've saved by being frugal with my toothpaste. But I use Mentadent now. I press down. It's the best.

What's one regret you live with?

Having bought a laptop with credit. Ha. Ha ha ha. That was SO stupid. Credit card debt is the dumbest. I also regret having used student loans to pay for college. Ha ha. Loans suck.

What’s one of your nicknames? What do you preferred to be called?

Darlene. A lot of people think I resemble Sarah Gilbert from the sitcom Roseanne. It started in junior high with a group of older boys who thought Darlene's name was DJ. But DJ was the little brother. Anyway, they called me DJ for forever, and then later, some other people started calling me Darlene. I can't escape it. For a long time it seemed like Darlene was based on me and my winning attitude.

I prefer to be called Nik by people who know me well, Nicole by people who don't, and Nikki by my family. Someone recently started calling me Holden, sarcastically, I think. I'd rather be called Holden than Darlene.

Billy Joel or Elton John?

Ooh that's a tough one. Both suck these days, but you have to admit they're amazing songwriters. They really know how to turn a phrase and work a chord change just enough to make your stomach drop. They both used to be better and they're both iconic, and somehow, growing up, I confused Billy for Elton and Elton for Billy. So odd, since they look nothing alike, names or faces. But it's funny that you should ask which of the two. Is it because they're both piano rock stars, or because they're names are so similar?

Honestly, I loved them both to death as a kid. "Sad Songs Say so Much" was a big hit with me, but so was "Uptown Girl." Secretly, I loved the hell out of "Nikita," I didn't even know what it was about, but I liked to pretend Elton had written it about me. At some point "It's a Matter of Trust" and "Innocent Man" were favorites, but because I liked to listen to them, not because they were Billy Joel's best, most probing works. Same with how I felt about "I Guess that's Why They Call it the Blues." I listened to the radio a lot back then and that's what formed my opinions about music. If I could dance to it or if it played into my romantic ideals, I loved it.

Anyway, now when I think about what songs I love by Elton John, I think of "Rocket Man," "Yellowbrick Road," and "Bitch is Back." And he's still going strong without looking like shit (like some rocks stars I might name, i.e. Keith Richards). That's always something, right? Elton hasn't burned up like the rest (they all flew a little too close to the sun*). So, sorry Billy, I have to go with Elton as my pick for best piano rock star.

What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

It's so funny because it's so damn impossible. Everyone wants their own piece o' the pie and that often means stepping on other people's faces to get there. Peace, love, and understanding? Ha. Ha ha ha ha.

*"You let him go to the sun?!"


Here are the rules if you want to keep it going: Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions. You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions, and let me know that you answered. If you don't have a blog, but would still like to play, I can send you the questions, and you can answer 'em in the comments. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Peaches and Tomatoes

Peach yogurt is the best. Yoplait original. Ninety-nine percent fat-free (as if it matters. I haven't reached that level of enlightenment yet; fats are still part of my diet). I didn't even realize I liked peach the best until last week. Thousands of years have gone by where I have NEVER eaten peach yogurt. How can this be? Raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry-banana, all the berries of the vine I've eaten. Never peach.

And the thing is I even LOVE peaches. Growing up we had three peach trees in our yard, a veritable orchard by most people's standards. Every season, in late summer I'd eat a bushel of peaches straight off the tree, rinsed under the garden hose (it was attached to the house, so yes, potable), skin peeled off with my own hands. Sun ripened, pesticide-free, hormone-free, chemical-free, guilt-free. What a way to live, peach juice all over your hands and mouth, the summer sun on your back, the garden hose at your feet. Did it matter that the juice was sticky or that it was drizzling down my arms, dripping onto my clothes? Back then it didn't. These days I prefer fruit juice in a Minute Maid bottle, and that's a little sad.

But peach yogurt, that's not sad. That's delicious. How can it be so good? It's thrilling to think that life can still take me by surprise. That I can find out I like something I've never tried before. That on occasion I'll still take a chance and order something so unlike me from a menu at a restaurant. I've always been a person who relies on the tried and true, who doesn't mind getting her hands dirty (but rarely does), who prefers order over confusion, and who will be ruined over a small stain on a favorite shirt. But sometimes, now that I’m older, I'll go into the garden and pull a fat, red tomato* from the vine, sprinkle a little salt on it and take a bite, without even rinsing off the weather and earth. That's part of the flavor. And if a little juice gets on my hands and clothes, I'll be okay. That's part of the experience**.

*I love tomatoes almost as much as homegrown peaches. Tomato yogurt? Hell no.
**But now, isn't part of THIS experience a desperate attempt to relive the perfect, guileless experience created in my youth, which I've now elevated to represent some kind of more purposeful living? Living on purpose. You know, kids do it. We lose it when we grow up. I just think it's sad, that's all.