Let the excavations begin…

February 19th, 1988. Receipt – 19′ U-Haul Truck.  $34.79

Just me and the ex-husband*, taking a day off – leaving our 2 year old daughter at day care in the morning so we weren’t tripping over a toddler while moving furniture.  We didn’t ask friends.  We didn’t hire help.  We just did it.

Not that there was much to move.  Our first house was a smallish three bedroom home, barely a third of the size of the newly purchased home.  After just two trips with the truck, we finished up, moving small items in the car.  Bruised, battered and completely exhausted, it still took us less than 6 hours.  And there was a lot of empty space in the new house when we were done…

Fast forward a little over 20 years.  i have absolutely no idea where all this shit came from…  but it’s gotta go.  Both children are away at college, with their own scavenged furniture.  My new place is about the same size as this one, but only three bedrooms.  It’s not that i couldn’t put all this crap into the new crib, it’s just the wrong stuff.  Clean slate… that’s what’s needed.  “Simplify” is my battle cry! 

So, out it goes.  And since i’ve committed to a “yard sale”** in two weeks, i need to push hard on the excavations.  Tonight?  A start…

i braved the shed, where the lawnmowers sleep in varying states disrepair and loneliness… only the spiders and husks of their spider ancestors to keep them company.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as i’d remembered.  it’s been over a year since i’d opened this thing – it’s a 20′ x 10′ barn, with a storage loft.  Even found the “Pig Farm” from our guinea pig ranch era… and my sailboat…

Which led to the second round of excavations – if i’m going to sell the Sunfish (the sailboat i retained from the divorce), i need the registration info and title to the trailer.  Ummm…. right… Two teeny tiny pieces of paper lost in the haystack of my desk-al region. 

Never fear, i’ve got a fabulous filing system!  When we moved in, i was so organized!  Set up drawers, labeled folders, sub-folders… and everything is up to date.  Through about 1989.  Yep.  Maintained it for about a year before i gave up and just started throwing stuff in folders near where they should go…. 

Tonight, i spent about 2 hours wading through receipts for long-gone storm doors, random report cards for my elementary school-aged children, traffic tickets***, auto accident reports accumulated over 20 years…  all of that life-shrapnel you hang onto thinking you’ll need some day.

After rooting through the places i thought they might be, such as the “car titles/registration folder”, “purchases”, “warranty information”, i eventually stumbled on the proper location.  Buried in a bottom file drawer, i found a folder, cleverly labeled “Sailboats”. [smacks forehead]

Whew!  Success!  Well, sort of…  i also discovered that i still have the title for the other sailboat and trailer – the one my former husband kept.  Happy to have located both necessary treasures, it was only as i was putting his title in the “go” stack that i noticed it was titled in my name.  And, invariably, the trailer that has been collecting bugs under my back deck for the past 10 years?  Titled in his name… 

One more thing on the “to do” list.  Which is buried on my desk somewhere…

* Still hate the term “ex-husband” in regard to the man i was married to for 25 years or so….  In my family, the connotations include ex-spouses with attempted murder charges, crack-whores, transvestite bank robbers, suicide, incest (sorry, still haven’t gotten to that one, folks), and a kindly, but deeply confused Palestinian taxi driver, who was briefly married to my bi-polar lesbian sister.   I usually call my former spouse “baby daddy”, although  i saw the phrase “was-band” somewhere and kinda liked it…

**  A friend will help organize and execute the sale, with her three indentured servants children.  In return, she gets half the proceeds.  I’m also keeping the kids overnight so she can go on date with her adorable hubby.  Something for everyone!  My motivation – i work best on the clock.  Since the advert is out, i am committed to the sale, and must move merchandise.  Forcing functions rock!

*** LOTS of traffic tickets.  There are 88 counties in my state.  i realized tonight that i’m well on my way to getting a ticket in every one of them!  Woo hoo!  Gotta be good at something, right?

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Conversational Snippet – Testosterone Edition

Not to be upstaged by his sister, there was a brief snippet with The Boy tonight that brought a chuckle.*

On the phone with The Girl, sorting out details for her next “Study Abroad”** event, coming up in September.  The Boy, hanging out at her apartment, probably drinking her beer instead of mine for a change, could be heard in the background…

The Girl [talking to her brother]: Did you just say “penis”?

The Boy:  [mumble, yeah, mumble, mumble]

daisyfae: is he drunk?

The Girl:  No, he’s watching “Family Feud, Celebrity Edition”.  The question was “Name something that can be 12″ long”.

Did you hear the one about the guy who asked a genie for a 12″ penis? 

* it’ll have to do for a post, because i’m banging through real estate crap, bill-paying, icky-poopy work stuff and doing laundry tonight.  while drinking… it’s Tuesday, which means it’ll be Friday before you know it…

** No, she’s not studying broads…  She’s double majoring in Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies, has been around the world with Semester at Sea, spent 3 weeks in Morocco last summer, and is headed to Beirut, Lebanon for Fall term…

Conversational Snippet – Now, With Estrogen!

This time, it was The Girl. Usually, it’s her testosterone-laden sibling…

The Girl, in her Sunday night “avoidance of doing what must be done” mode, decided at 9:00 pm to make baklava. Explaining that this is a time consuming exercise, she decided to press on – and was packing up to make a run to the grocery around 9:30 pm. i am preparing for bed, after a very long weekend of drinking, dancing, and drinking-and-dancing. Not to mention bike riding*.

The Girl:  Do you need me to pick up anything while i’m at the store?

daisyfae:  Yeah – a 12-pack of diet coke would be great.

The Girl: Sure, no problem.

daisyfae: Oh, and could you snag some Preparation H?  Meant to stop on the way home, but forgot.

The Girl:  NO WAY!  I’m not buying that!  Never… God…. Can’t you use some of that butt paste stuff we got The Boy as a joke?

daisyfae:  That’s for diaper rash.  This is different.  Man, i’m in pain, here… help the old lady out… [whimpering, shuffling down the hallway in apparent pain]

The Girl:  Not happening.

daisyfae:  Well, i’ll call The Boy and see if he’ll do it.

The Girl:  i’ll get you anything, but that…. God!

daisyfae [talking to The Boy]:  Can you stop and get Preparation H for me on the way home?

The Boy:  Hell no.

daisyfae: C’mon.  i’m trying to see which one of you loves me more…**

* With the run on Saturday, and the ride from the house to the festival downtown on Sunday, i put in at least 40 miles.  i’ve done as much as 60 miles on a weekend.  The limiting factor is not my legs or cardiovascular health.  It’s ass-numbness.  Gotta spring for the damn gel seat…

** One of the best things about being the mother of two young adults?  Messing with their little heads…

“If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is…”

“And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’

“So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’ ”

     – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., A Man Without A Country 

Maybe 12 years old when i read my first Vonnegut novel, Cat’s Cradle.  Read everything he wrote along the way after that… i thought he was “funny”, “cosmic”, and very “hip”.  It wasn’t until i was in my late 30’s and started re-reading his early works, and reading his current essays that it hit me how deeply his words resonated – articulating much of my own view of the world. 

On the surface one can see the cynicism, the darkness, the bleak portrait he paints of the human condition.  Much like me.  But it has always been his words of hope that touched me most deeply.  Such as the passage above…  Since his death in 2007, i’ve taken to saying the words out loud when something felt nice.

This weekend?  Nothing in particular going on… relieved that i’d passed that damn test on Friday.  Knowing that my children were both “in good places” in their respective situations.  Mom – doing well and  entertained in The Park – with my sister, T, in town for her high-school reunion. 

Spent Friday evening with friends at the Celtic festival, drinking, dancing, and drinking-and-dancing** to one of the best Irish jam bands, ever!  A beautiful summer Saturday afternoon – riding my bike for transport, not just recreation – to volunteer to help some well intentioned local political activists get the word out**.  Listening a favorite bit of music on the iPod from the night before… Excited about the new digs, and feeling overwhelmed at my good fortune for being in a position to make such a move…

…and i started to cry.  Not one of those sobbing, snot-running down your face things.  Just a few tears.  All was well with my insignificant corner of the world for that one moment in time.  i’m not even sure if there was anyone nearby to hear me say “if this isn’t nice, then i don’t know what is…”

This one’s for you, Uncle Alex.  And God Bless you, Mr. Vonnegut…

* Gaelic Storm.  They are fabulous…  ended up seeing them Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.  They got started as the “Steerage” band in the movie Titanic.  Despite the fact that the movie blew and the boat sank, the band was delicious!

** i’ve lost my voice, ears are still ringing, and can barely walk from the dancing.  Last night, my friend and i were probably older than anyone else in the mosh pit – by 20 years.  But hey, we got invited to the “after party” because we were cool old dudes…

*** and later being completely annoyed that the task they’d asked me to help with had been postponed due to technical difficulties, and my 10 mile ride out there had been for recreation after all… no phone call to the volunteers signed up to work.  no wonder these tree-hugging boneheads can’t elect anyone…

Dress code?

Bought a new home this week – a condominium.  With the travel and my hatred of yard work*, it was time.  Since the housing market is in the shitter, and i don’t want to sell into such a pig market, i’m going to rent out my current place.  Lots of work to do for sure, but i’m excited about the clean slate that is a new home!

Talking with the kids, they are getting pretty pumped up about the new crib, too.  It screams “party” – large area for entertaining**, two patios, overlooking a woodsy creek, downstairs space for home theater room, as well as pool table with adjacent wet bar. 

But mostly, they are jazzed about access to the communal pool and tennis courts.

The Boy: Can i play tennis, wearing short volleyball shorts – my balls hanging out – wearing a midriff top while smoking a cigarette in a long holder?

daisyfae: i just read the homeowners association documents.  There is no dress code for the pool or tennis court.

The Boy:  Not yet…

* A half-acre yard is a lot to maintain. If you hate working outside.  Been contracting it out since my indentured servant son blew up the lawnmower before he moved off to university. 

** Future parties can be held mostly indoors.  The last one, with about 80 people, had to roll outside… the current house just isn’t set up for packs of drunken yabs.

Test Anxiety

Tomorrow morning i’m taking the test on second course in my professional development series, which must be completed this year.  The first time?  Kinda stressful.  This one isn’t even multiple choice.  It’s a short answer test – 20 questions extracted from about 90 possible questions.

i think i’m prepared. i’ll know for sure next week when i get the scores back.  been slamming through “flash cards” with my classmates on lunch hours for the past two weeks, while banging my head against the information as well every night.  Never mind the fact that we’ve been working through two lessons per week (twice the recommended rate) for the past four months or so.

But in the meantime, here i go… Test anxiety?  Nah… i’ll just get creative…

BREAKING NEWS:  i passed.  just got the e-mail.  not sure what my score was, but it was “excellent” and that means more than 71% (probably 80-89%), but more importantly that means i can spend the majority of my weekend attending a local Celtic Festival guilt-free.  Drinking, dancing, and drinking-and-dancing.  W.H.E.W.

Tug this…

i ask myself “what the fuck was i thinking?” on a regular basis.  This should be a clue.  A big clue that perhaps my instantaneous judgment leaves something to be desired.  Maybe i should think before accepting offers that “sound fun” on the surface.  Such was the case a week ago, when i agreed to participate in a “sporting event” at work.

Each summer the laboratory forces employees to endure hosts a Summer Carnival.  Senior leaders man the grill, drenching the armpits of their golf shirts with the sincere sweat of “good intentions”.  Young engineers enthusiastically embrace the event, designing fun things for nerds and nerd families to enjoy.  The mid-career types dutifully bring wives* and children to the “face painting” station and the “bouncy castle”**. Us “old and crusty” types show up, wander around, eat the meat, grumble amongst ourselves about the heat and lack of cold beer, and slink quietly back to our offices. 

Last week, i didn’t escape so easily.  New this year was the “tug of war” competition.  Teams of six, including at least one female, were to be formed by each division, and a bracketed tournement would be held.  Have i mentioned that to this very day, only 18% of all engineering graduates have ovaries?  Despite my age, and perhaps because of my thunderous thighs, i was the first name hacked up for consideration.  When the “young ‘uns”, who pretend to worship me for my passion for technology, irreverence and my wilingness to endure humiliation joie de vivre asked if i’d play, i agreed.

In the sweltering heat and humidity, we faced a team of summer students. i reminded my team that it isn’t just about size – technique counts.  Get low, stay low!  None of that stupid “heave, heave, heave” stuff, either.  Doesn’t work… when you stop between “heaves”, your opponents will pull you down onto your face in the mud. And step on your head.

We beat the pack of Junior Geeks – but it was much closer than it should have been. After four preliminary matches, it was clear that we were going to have to get serious if we were to have a chance.  Soon into our second match, we knew we were in trouble.  The crowd roared with boredom as things looked grim for our team.

Things started off tense… well, at least the rope was tense.  Everyone else was kinda just standing there.  We were pretty sure we were going down, and not in a good way.  Water balloon fights had occurred earlier in the afternoon, and slippery grass makes for poor traction.   Fortunately, no one was hurt when the Big Man*** took a tumble. 

A crushing blow.  After it was over, i was still frightfully awash in competitive juices.  There was no one to hit.  Needing to vent my rage i had to do the grunt, scratch and snarl routine.  Apparently, i wandered by the photographer in mid-snarl… She sent me this photo today, asking if it was ok to include it in the “post event slide show”.

Oy.  it’s a bit of good fortune that i’m pretty good at what i do for a living, or i’d be in a world of hurt.  Beyond the rope burn on my left forearm, and permanent knee damage…

_______

* Funny, but i can’t think of a single case where a woman employee has brought a husband.  My ex-husband worked in the building for decades and managed to avoid these things… i suppose if there were more “stay at home dads”, it might be different…

** They don’t let me work the childrens booth.  i once jokingly suggested that it would be more fun if we sprayed the bottom of the bouncy castle with cooking spray first… i was kidding.

*** Think Clarence Clemmons with a PhD in Physics.  He is brilliant, kind and could probably crush a typical member of the geek-squad like an aluminum soda can if so inclined. 

What’ll you give me for a dead guinea pig?

It seems i’ll be moving soon. Made an offer today on a townhouse. i’m capitalizing on the crappy housing market and buying a new place. I’d call it “down sizing” except it’s the same size as the house i own. Fewer bedrooms, more party space.  Within a month or so, i shall also become a slumlandlord, and advertise my current home as a rental.

Joy.  But, i shall “buy low”, and maintain the current home as “cash neutral” until the market recovers.  It’s math.  Not a big deal.

Knowing that this was in the cards, i’ve made a few feeble attempts to poke my way through 20 years of life-shrapnel that has collected in my home.  Last weekend, while sorting ancient paperwork on my desk, i stumbled across a document that brought back a flood of memories…

It was a bill from the veterinarian for $70.  The “patient” name – “Blossom Jenny”.  Blossom was one of our first guinea pigs.  When The Girl was about five years old, she decided that guinea pigs would be good pets.  We encouraged her to learn more about the care and feeding requirements for happy pet rodents. 

After she became versed in “pig care”, we relented.  Family trip to the pet store resulted in two pigs – The Girl named hers “Blossom Jenny”.  The Boy – all of 4 years old at the time – wanted to name the other pig “Dad”.  We explained that the name was already taken in our small family.  His eyes narrowed.  He smirked and said quite deliberately “Turbo Dad”.  It stuck.

A few weeks later, we discovered that Turbo Dad had violated one of the commandments with a sibling while still at the pet store, as she birthed three baby pigs.  Suddenly, we had a ranch.  Five guinea pigs.  Fuck. 

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little chickens…

Last week, i took a day off work to haul Mom in to see her magically delicious competent and caring cardiologist, Dr. M*.  She’s looking marvelous, bright of eye, bushy of tail. She’s in great spirits, with blush in her cheeks and spring in her step. 

Mom is doing well, too, considering it’s been two months since her bypass surgery.

After an echo-cardiogram to assess heart function, we reviewed the results with doc, and she declared Mom healthy and on the road to a bright tomorrow!  Still a bit weak, but as long as Mom keeps up the daily walks, stays away from the smokes and continues to take care of herself, the doc will consider the bypass a complete success.

Mom was relieved – mostly that her heart isn’t going to fall out of her chest into her bacon and eggs** – and we left to run a few errands while i was in The Park.  Off to the pharmacy, grocery store with a final stop at the bank. 

Mom was insistent on meeting with the bank manager to verify that all of her deposits were fully insured to protect her from the looming catastrophic banking crisis that is perhaps only hours away.  Trying to calm her down, i reminded her that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) covers all assets up to $100,000 – even more depending on how the accounts are structured.  i also pointed out that much of the hype about this was purely alarmist media horseshit, designed to jack up television viewership.

Mom was having none of this, so we patiently waited for the next available bank manager.  After about 15 minutes, a manager appeared, escorting an elderly gentleman from her cubicle.  As we settled in, she patiently waited for Mom to explain the purpose of our visit.  The manager was reassuring as she walked Mom through the levels of safety employed by the institution.

As i sat there, lulled to sleep by the warm and comforting tones of the manager, i noticed another manager escorting an elderly woman from the adjacent cube.  And then collecting another senior citizen from the waiting area in the lobby.  Our manager prepared a detailed report on Mom’s account structures, and used the FDIC website to capture a snapshot of fiscal security.

And in the lobby?  Two more elder statesmen had arrived, and were waiting on deck…

As we left, we both thanked the manager.  i asked her politely – “Guess you’re seeing quite a few anxious investors these days, eh?”  As she smiled sweetly – not quite through gritted teeth but perhaps with the hint of a snarl forming around her perfectly painted lips – “Oh, it’s understandable with all of the media attention these days…”.

She’s a saint.  It’s only a matter of time before some addled bank manager storms off to a local news station and starts whacking on-air personalities*** with potted plants, and piercing their temples with bank pens, still attached to security chains.  i guess hyping economic catastrophe is what tides the bag-o’-shit media outlets over between the “frozen highways of death” season and the “hurricanes obliterating humanity – probably due to global warming” late summer season. 

Lurking in the back of my head is a touch of conspiracy theory – perhaps these fear-mongering media motherfuckers drive elderfolk to stash cash in their mattresses.  Then spend their weekends buying stained, flattened beds at estate sales looking for treasure…

* Got me a bit of a harmless “girl crush” on Dr. M – in the footnote here.  As much as i’m tempted to think it’s just wishful thinking on my part?  She does seem to enjoy engaging me in conversation, asks how “single life” is treating me and tells me i’m looking good.  Could it be… dare i say it… “mutual”?

** Mom had a bit of the irrational “my parts is gonna fall out” fears post-surgery.  i could empathize… after two c-sections to deliver my industrial sized offspring, i was freaked out about things coming undone.  Still can’t watch “Alien” – or even “Spaceballs” – without a twinge…

*** Not to be confused with “journalists”, or even “reporters”… that would require brain cells. 

Office Chat – 2008 Edition

Although i work in an environment full of geeks, there is a delightful subset of colleagues i’ve grown attached to who have a juvenile and twisted remarkably sharp sense of humor*.  A recent exchange on Friday – typical of our stupidity – was particularly childish amusing. 

Four of us involved, all sitting quietly in our offices pretending to be working.  This discussion started in response to an announcement that one of our pack – a manager who is that remarkable combination of fun and functional – has been selected for promotion and will be leaving us within a few weeks for another part of the organization.

RJAK:  Do you think he’ll still come out to drink dirty martinis with us?  You know, we should schedule an offsite soon…

Ninjaneer (NJN):  He might not associate with lowlifes anymore.  He’ll meet me for drinks, though.

daisyfae (DF):  if you’re buyin’

RN: and wearing heels

RJAK: and the magic techno-loincloth

DF: Yes.  “cloaking” loincloth.  Please…

NJN:  i prefer flats, and I’ll put a garbage can over it.  Only the bottom 4 inches will show.

RJAK:  like this?

RN:  So you named it “oscar the grouch”?  Looks pretty unhappy about what he has to do next.

NJN:  No, i call him “Thor, Hammer of the Gods”

DF:  Ewww…. your penith is thor?  That thucks… Try penithillin…

RJAK:  Should be “Oscar the Ouch”

NJN: Most women just call it “[gasp] Oh God!”  i don’t show it to men.

_______

* it should be noted:  we are all adult, professionals.  responsible for the formulation and execution of state of the art scientific research programs.  age range?  35-47 years of age.  at least physical age.  emotional age:  12-15 at best…  RJAK, the other female, is the 15 year old.