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Meredith

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[27 May 2007|11:20pm]
As of today, the Red Sox are a whopping 11.5 games ahead of the second-place team in the AL East (i.e., Baltimore). 11.5 games. As of right now, I'm prone to fits of howling laughter when I check the MLB.com standings, but I'm sure that my laughter will dissolve into tears of bitterness by the All Star break. 

In the meantime, I'll enjoy this double-digit lead (see "total annihilation" for reference). 

To my brother, who has nothing but harsh words for the American League: 

See you in October, sucka. ;)

Quick update... [21 May 2007|10:52pm]
A friend is going through a hellish time right now. I'm opening up this public entry for any of her friends who have migrated over from the LJ entry I posted on her journal tonight.

[21 Apr 2007|01:04pm]

Watching Ellie Krieger's show on Food Network makes me want to run out and buy a grill pan. How very consumerist of me! My brother has a huge George Foreman grill (which looks like a traditional backyard charcoal grill) that looks like it could grill a small country.

Enough randomness. I am sitting in our living room with the windows open, inhaling intermittent gusts of fresh air that are surprisingly stenchless. Then again, New Britain isn't a horribly polluted city, and the water is surprisingly good even if we turn off the filter. Of course, I've heard too many horror stories about the sorts of insidious organisms that sneak into public water supplies, so I use the filter even when I'm filling a pot with water to boil. Mark always wonders why I filter the water for the cats' dish, and I just ask, "Would you drink this water without the filter?"

Mark and I discovered Wild Oats Market in West Hartford yesterday, on the way home from an awesome hike to Heublein Tower in Bloomfield/Simsbury. Sadly, the tower is closed until Memorial Day, but we still had an awesome view of CT and the foothills of the Berkshires. Anyway, back to Wild Oats: Price Chopper carries some of their products, but I never knew that there was an actual supermarket! We bought some extra firm tofu and various other boxed meals, including some frozen chicken tikka masala (my visit with Trish last weekend has made me a fan of Indian food for life) and chicken korma. We're addicted to Annie's organic macaroni dishes and found some new varieties that Price Chopper never has in stock. 

We're pretty experimental eaters, since we often buy what is on sale (and healthy). Though we're prone to buying snack food once in awhile, we usually try to buy things that are low in fat and, perhaps even more importantly, preservative-free. Of course, it's difficult to avoid those things entirely (and your body needs a certain amount of fat, anyway), but it's amazing how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to buy less processed varieties of our favorite foods. Even better, the Price Chopper store brand milk has no artificial growth hormones, so it's actually cheaper to buy! We're a work in progress, but we usually eat pretty healthy food. The only time we ever have red meat in the house is when Mark buys his all-natural beef cold cuts for lunch. I always tell him that he should buy what he likes whether I like it or not--after all, I'm at least minimally efficient in the kitchen and can fend for myself if he makes something I don't like. But he loves to do all the cooking, and he wants to cook things I'll like. I can't say that I mourn the absence of red meat from the freezer. ;)

I'm sure that this was a riveting entry, but I just felt like sharing my love for health food with the world. Particularly my love of soynut butter. 



Chinese Cinema Conquers All... [10 Apr 2007|06:09pm]

The Story of Qiu Jiu just came in the mail. It's been on my Blockbuster queue for weeks now, and they finally got their asses in gear and sent it to me. I can't wait to watch it, but I am forcing myself to finish an article about Napoleon that is due at the end of the week first. 

I keep saying that I am going to teach myself Mandarin, and I have all the tools at my fingertips, but I am feeling more inert than the last column of the periodic table. I wish that the weather were warmer so that I could get outdoors more. Mark and I want to go to the Catskills this summer for a few days; there is a lodge there that costs only $73 per night and includes all three meals, a pool, and a pond with pedalboats. 

For a long time now, I have been oddly fascinated by mountains. I love being in the car and seeing some tall, craggy peak looming in the distance, obfuscated by distance and dulled to a smoky blue color. Mark and I go to Mohawk Mountain a lot, just to drive to the top and see the Berkshires and Taconics off in the distance. That area has always felt quite exotic to me for some reason, perhaps because it is so very different from here. I love our apartment and the view we have of Hartford and the mid-state mountain ridge, but it is not the same as the Berkshires, Taconics, Catskills, or Adirondacks. 

I still want to live in Litchfield county someday, and it makes me feel sad to read about how "weekenders" are carving up the countryside for their summer mansions. I want to live there all the time, for better or worse, rain or snow, deep freeze or summer heat. I can't even imagine what it might be like to wake up in the morning, walk out to the front porch, and hear nothing but birds and crickets. I want to raise my kids in a place where they can catch butterflies and see all sorts of wildlife right in their backyard. I don't even particularly care what the house itself looks like, so long as it's sturdy and warm. I like to think that the "weekenders" appreciate what they have as much as I would, but that's probably naive of me.

I still walk around this apartment and can't believe that we live in it. I never knew how intrinsically satisfying it would be to be completely on our own, with bills to pay and important decisions to make about school, finances, and how to discipline our unruly kitten babies. Here is a more recent picture, by the way:

 

They look angelic, but don't be fooled. They're total menaces to society at large, our little juvenile delinquents. ;) Weiland is on the left and Staley is on the right.

Anyway, I need to get some work done. More later!

My epic return to Ell-Jay-Dot-Com. [10 Apr 2007|01:53pm]

Lisa's return to LJ after a year of absence has inspired me to stop being a slacker. After all, I have more time to write in this thing than most people who update ten times as often as I do!

Everything is going really well here. I am working on a few writing assignments for Sourcebooks, and am pretty sure that they have more work on the agenda for me. Five of the coupon books I am writing were pushed back to Spring 2008, so I have to admit that I've had more loafing time than I probably should. However, every time I start to think about pursuing something part-time, they fill my plate with another set of assignments. Once the weather gets warmer, I want to start hiking a LOT.  

Working from home is fantastic, though I sometimes feel a bit slothish. I actually have lost a few pounds despite my sedentary lifestyle, though--probably because if I stare at my blank Microsoft Word screen for too long, I get antsy and need to burn off some energy on our stationary bike. I should be taking this time to work on my first novel, but physical fitness is a noble expenditure of time and energy, right? RIGHT?!

I met an author on a message board I visit. She writes romantic suspense and has become something of a mentor to me. I have begun to write a story about a woman sucked into a rather insidious cult, but I keep losing my motivation. I hate the main character so much that I might have to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. It starts with the word Plop. Isn't that a fantastic beginning for a novel? Doesn't it make you want to get inside my head to find out what is going to happen next? 

Rachael Ray is now the spokeswoman for Dunkin Donuts. It is official: I will never, ever escape her. She is like genital herpes--she will come and go, but we will hear from her forever. It's too bad that Alton Brown couldn't get the same accolades and coverage that she does.

 

R.I.P., Barbaro [29 Jan 2007|01:00pm]
[ mood | sad ]

I feel so bad for my mother right now. She was one of the tens of thousands of people who posted daily on the Barbaro (i.e., the horse who won the Kentucky Derby and suffered a life-threatening injury during the Preakness) message board. 

I swear. It's as if the cosmos were fucking with these poor animal lovers. First, he was cheated of the Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old of the Year awards because other horses had higher purses. 

It was one of those feel-good stories, something to make people forget about the fucking Iraq war and genocide abroad. He pulled through when nobody thought he would survive, went on to survive multiple surgeries, miraculously got back on his feet for awhile, etc. 

He had another setback this weekend, and they had to euthanize him this morning.

It's just like what happened with Fulton. I think that's why it's so hard for my mom. You do everything under the sun possible to save your beloved animal, but you can't keep up with the rapidly accumulating organ failure, nutritional deficiencies, etc. 

So much for a feel-good story for 2007. Back to our regularly scheduled dysfunction.

Weiland and Staley - The Feline Edition [27 Jan 2007|07:19pm]
[ mood | predatory ]



[They look like angels but, really, they're little hellions. In fact, Sheila calls them The Hellions. Sorry, we didn't make the bed that day. Sue us.]



[Weiland likes to sleep with one eye open--that is, if he sleeps at all. As you can see, we made the bed this time. Contrary to my former, premarital life, I am a total neat/clean freak now. Our apartment is a clutter-free zone. When you spend such a significant chunk of your monthly income on a roof over your head, trust me, you want it to look nice!

[07 Aug 2006|09:30am]
Wow. Not five minutes after I posted my last entry, I got an E-mail from the company offering me the office manager position! EEEEEEE!

We are prepared to make you an offer to come work for us at [company name] as our new Office Manager. As stated at your interview, this position is what you make of it, and based upon your qualifications, I believe you will excel at this position if you accept it. Our formal offer to you includes a starting hourly rate of _____. Paid vacation, paid sick time and medical benefits as specified in our office manual. A probationary period of 3 months after which your medical and dental benefits would kick in and you will be eligible for a compensation increase. After one year, again compensation increases with your 401 K plan kicking in. Please contact as soon as possible with your reply.

[07 Aug 2006|08:41am]
New pics are up of the apartment and our new feline friends:

http://s16.photobucket.com/albums/b14/MLi928/Our%20New%20Place/

http://s16.photobucket.com/albums/b14/MLi928/Staley%20and%20Weiland/

Things are moving along quite nicely re: the job at the environmental company. I interviewed on Friday and, apparently, their office manager is leaving at the end of the month. The owners saw my resumé and immediately bumped it up for consideration for the position (I had originally applied for an administrative assistant position; now, I may become the manager of the administrative assistant they plan to hire). The one who interviewed me was practically giddy over my publication and writing experience, and mentioned that I might be able to help them update/proofread their manuals and handbooks. At the end, he said, "This interview went very, very well." When he told me how much money the position would pay, I almost hit the floor. I hope to hear from them today. I'll never have to worry about where my next gallon of milk is coming from again--and the position offers the sort of stable, consistent schedule that will allow me to do my freelance writing/editing for Sourcebooks at night/on weekends. That's really the most important thing--having the time to focus on my craft. At 5:00 every day, I get to pack up and not have to take it home with me for once. The biggest reason I left retail was because I had no time for Mark, and no job is worth that. A job can screw you over with one clerical error or lapse in judgment--but a marriage (at least in my case) is a source of constant support and joy.

Anyway, it seems like a very laid-back place to work (everyone wears jeans) and it's family-oriented. Even if you haven't accrued much vacation time, you can take unpaid days off if you need to go on vacation or take care of personal business. Most companies consider unpaid time off as "unexcused absences" and penalize you for it, so this is a nice perk. They pay half the health insurance (starting after the 3-month probationary period) and have a great 401K and IRA program. Benefits are a big must for me, because I've been without health/dental insurance since November, and would like to have some standard checkups and a dental cleaning! Also, the guy told me that the buck would not stop with me--he and his brother, who own the company together, have to sign off on every invoice and check, so if a major mistake happened, they would saddle me with all of the blame. Making colossal errors is my biggest fear when starting a new job, so this took a load off my shoulders.

Plus, I like office/administrative work. I'm pretty good at it. It's a great way for me to pay the bills while Mark is in graduate school (which may very well be for the next five years) without worrying about meeting a weekly sales quota or screwing up some mundane detail. Besides, there are only three major book publishers in CT: Sourcebooks (Bridgeport), Taunton Press (Newtown), and Global Pequot (Guilford)--none of which are anywhere near here, which is why I took my Sourcebooks position to the freelance level. People always advise me to get into magazine or newspaper publishing, not realizing that the different kinds of publishing aren't interchangeable, and it is very difficult to break into one medium when all of your experience is in another. Besides, I like book publishing. I like writing canine IQ tests and Bushisms books. I get to flex the satire/parody muscle quite a bit, since Sourcebooks has an imprint dedicated entirely to humor.

Hmmm. Quoi d'autre? Oh, yeah. We live in an apartment now, as you can see from the pictures above. We have two adorable male cats, whom we named Weiland and Staley (after two of our favorite rockers--yeah, we're cheesy). They're all kinds of adorable, but also all kind of mischievous. Mark's co-worker is moving back to Egypt and needed to find homes for his two cats, who were from the same litter, and we said that we would do it. We had planned to get cats eventually (though I had planned to delay it for awhile after Fulton died), but as soon as this opportunity arose, I knew that we had to take it. Otherwise, those two cats, who have been together since birth, may have been separated--and that would have been so wrong to me. They're both little attention whores with polydactyly (yes, my cats have extra toes!), and Weiland is so friggin' smart that he sits on top of our bedroom DOOR and found his kitty treats on the top shelf of the pantry and came trotting into the kitchen carrying the pouch in his teeth.

Now, if only they would let us sleep at night... ;)

Yes. At the tender age of 23, I am a crazy cat lady.

We've been doing a lot of grocery shopping this week to stock up on the essentials, as well as some tasty entrées from Trader Joe's in West Hartford (including veggie burgers, spinach pies, Asian chicken, chicken fried rice, and various other yummy goodies). I've really gotten Mark into the health food thing, and he actually likes the veggie burgers. I'm not a vegetarian, but I sure as hell don't want to eat meat every night, either. 

Sheila is, quite literally, a two-minute drive from here (if that), so we're not socially isolated despite having moved 40 minutes from home. Mark's school is less than five minutes from here, too.

Okay, I am off to pretend that my day is going to be productive. If the environmental company calls, it may very well be! Maybe I will go check out the New Britain library--nothing makes a bibliophile more randy than a temple of free books.

[12 Jul 2006|09:47pm]
Today was a productive sort of day. I am reformatting the spreadsheets for our Spring 2007 titles and got through more than half the stack today. Then, my boss told me that, once I move, she wants to keep me on a freelance basis (she wanted to hire me full-time, but the bigwigs said hell-to-the-naw on that one). So now, no matter what job I get, I will still have a toehold in the publishing industry so that there is no gap on my resume.

I also got a response from an environmental firm to whom I sent my resume about a month ago. I filled out the pre-interview questionnaire and may hear back from them this week about an interview. It's an administrative assistant job, which suits me just fine--I don't want something I have to take home with me (in every sense of the word). It's only about fifteen minutes from the apartment, too.

I am stressed about moving. Really, really stressed. But it's a Type A sort of stress. I want everything moved in and perfect by August 1st--I'm something of a neat freak and can't stand to think of our pretty little palace cluttered up with boxes and garbagio. I just can't wait to have a place that is ours. Well, okay, technically it's a rental. But it's still a place where no one else can barge in at random hours. I'm tellin' ya...most married couples take their privacy for granted! Not all of us started out with the "anywhere we want, whenever we feel like it" privilege! Anyway, I have to try to pace myself, because we're on the third floor, and I don't even want to think about lugging boxes up those steps if it's 95 degrees outside!

There are some supernatural goings-on at my parents' house that point to Fulton still being around. I'd love to think that he is. They finally put in his gravestone at the pet cemetery, and it was devastating to think that he was right there beneath my feet. 

Ugh. Anyway, onto more cheerful things, like how I need to go to bed. We've had this elusive moth flapping around our room for the past three nights, and it is killing my sleeping mojo. I'll write more later!

[09 Jul 2006|05:34pm]
I can't wait to move! It's getting so close now. However, the idea of lugging boxes up and down three flights of stairs intimidates me more than a little, but at least we'll have lots of help!

Mike and Michelle are coming over in a little while to swim. YAY!

Trish found this program for me called "Before You Know It" that installs language tutorial programs into a database. So far, I've downloaded the Japanese and Mandarin packages, and I was amazed by how quickly I "owned" 20 Japanese words! I even started to recognize a little of the hiragana and kanji on the flashcards.

I have a tan. This is quite the unprecedented development. I'm usually of Casper-ish complect. 

I thought I had more to say, but I don't, so I'll just write again later!

[04 Jul 2006|11:49am]
Tomorrow is the big day: both Mark and I have job interviews in the morning. Of course, mine is all the way out in Glastonbury, so I have to add the stress of a rather crappy commute to my stress index. Our friend Chris told me to consider tomorrow to be a second interview, since the HR woman spent half an hour on the phone with me giving me a telephone interview.

I have never had a second interview. Honestly, every single job I have ever had (with the exception of my tutoring job at QU, for which I had to interview with several professors) practically fell from the sky and into my lap (though I had to work mighty hard to shimmy up the pole at the store to get my sweet managerial salary). I am a virtual stranger to the interviewing process, but I think I see enough of the bigger picture to realize that if I damn myself by being, well, myself, then the job wasn't worth having, anyway. And, of course, all of this rationalization is to stave off the impending wave of anxiety I'm probably going to be feeling tomorrow morning. However, unlike the twenty-year-old version of myself, there are no crippling panic attacks, no numbness that begins in my cheeks and radiates outward.

I know that I need a reliable salary and health insurance, but, beyond that, I'm not going to sell myself to anyone, least of all a corporation. I have no desire to play "the game" in my pursuit of gainful employment--I don't believe in a system where a computer combs your resume for keywords or you have to trample your competitors for a position when I know from experience that there are other ways to find jobs. Hell, I didn't even have to interview for the publishing internship--I knew someone who knew the editor, and I was in with minimal questions asked after a single phone call. Until recently, it seemed to be all about "networking," which is really just a cute little euphemism for "nepotism." However, I have to say that I scored this interview via Careerbuilder, a site I had pretty much sworn off as useless--without any sort of networking/schmoozing. It restores my faith in the job-hunting process and the sites that HR professionals swear are the way of the future.

Recently, some people have suggested that I shouldn't have left the store, that I should try to go back and get my old job (since the assistant manager at my old branch just moved back to California). The thing is, it took me four years to get out of retail, and it would be a mighty crushing sense of self-defeat if I went crawling back after earning six months of publishing/professional experience. And, thankfully, my instinct proved right. There are jobs out there, jobs well within my reach, that pay more while simultaneously asking a lot less from me. I had to work like a dog for the salary I once had, and was expected to prioritize the company first and my family second--which is half the reason I left. I need to step up and be the breadwinner now, even if Mark does insist on working a 40-hour work week on top of his classes. Also, if we both get the jobs for which we're applying, we will finally, after years of struggling (well, I consider it years, since I've been out of school since 2003 and am still seeking a salary commensurate with my qualifications), be relatively comfortable. As a general concept, money has been quite the burden this year--here we were, on the brink of our first anniversary and still living with his parents. I learned that it was possible to feel a simultaneous sense of gratitude and frustration--gratitude for his parents' endless generosity, and frustration that we had very little privacy or financial independence.

Finally, that is changing. We have our own place. We are cleaning out clutter and needless debris and buying things to decorate our apartment. We are getting ready to start a healthier lifestyle. We're finally going to have privacy, the sort of basic privacy that most cohabitating/married couples take for granted. At this time next month, I'll be typing away in my LIBRARY. The idea of having a library/study, a space dedicated solely to the pursuits of reading and learning, makes me giddy. Maybe I'll finally get on track with my Japanese books, which I've perused but haven't had the time to really study. Yes, Jesse, I'm learning Japanese! You'd be so proud!

In more mundane news, our laptop power cord is totally broken, and my dad is off buying some sort of shrink wire at Radio Shack to repair it. I'll be online in patches this week, unless by some technological miracle he actually manages to repair the thing so that we don't have to go out and spend $50 on a new one. Then again, my dad's pretty much a computer genius, so I'll have faith in his skillz.

[02 Jul 2006|07:45pm]

Trader Joe is in my new boyfriend. He's this fun-loving, organic sort of guy who fills my body with chemical-free sustenance and food flavored with something other than the leftover chemicals I titrated in 11th-grade chemistry lab.

Some people say that the organic thing is as much a craze as the Atkins diet. My answer: I wonder what those poor souls did for hundreds of years before processed and preservative-laden food was available. Oh, wait. They ate unadulterated foods! They plucked stuff from the ground and sold it "as is." Of course, I could go into the possible carcinogenic properties of a lot of the shit we eat, but, to be honest, I think that doctors are as clueless as we are as to what really causes cancer. Aside from cigarette smoke and pollutants, a lot of the other possible culprits are circumstantial at best, cyclically proven and disproven to be cancer-causing agents. The same applies for heart disease and the rapidly expanding laundry list of different fats and cholesterol types on food labels. Every time you turn on the news, a different kind of fat is the culprit of Grandpa Joe's coronary. Every time you turn on the news, another product is accused of causing cancer, until you're afraid to drink water or breathe for fear of catching the horrific disease.

Anyway, Trader Joe. I married him today. Mark gave his consent, surprisingly enough. In all seriousness, we'd like to eat better once we move out at the end of the month. I absolutely love his mother's cooking, but I loved it a little too much this year and gained the Newlywed Nine (sort of the equivalent of the Freshman Fifteen). She makes a lot of pasta and fried potatoes, which taste great at the time but don't look so good when you're wearing them on your hips. But I'm not complaining! 

In sadder news: one of my closest friend's mom died in a car crash a few weeks ago. I feel absolutely terrible--and a little helpless, since she's out in Chicago. I can't even imagine what this must be like for her, but I told her that I am here to listen any time she needs. I think that, even if she lived down the street, that's all any of us can do. :(

[29 Jun 2006|05:59pm]
Okay, so we went to Fenway last night and the Red Sox pretty much HOUSED the Mets. It was an old-fashioned ass-whooping. Pedro Martinez, in his epic return to Fenway Park, lasted only 3 innings and gave up about 8 runs. Still, when he came on and off the field, he got a huge standing ovation. It was quite the historic moment to witness from my center field vantage point. I thought the seats would suck, given they were the cheapest I could find (don't ask the price--I'll never tell), but they were actually pretty fantastic. We stood at the ledge in our section and the players tossed stray balls (heh--"stray balls"--heheheh) up at us while they practiced before the game. Of course, we didn't catch any. Jeff was regaled with some juvenile booing as we walked toward our entrance at Gate C, since he was decked out from head to toe in Mets gear. There was a healthy showing of NYM fans last night, though.

Oh, and Juliana Hatfield sang the national anthem! It was pretty awesome!

The strangest thing--as we were getting off the T after the game, I saw none other than Sheila's parents! Of course, here we were all excited about our triumphant night at Fenway, and Sheila is off in Croatia and Venice on a cruise. We're going to be neighbors as of next month. Mark and I are quite excited about this, and I hope we will get a chance to get to know her not-so-new-anymore boyfriend. Mark's cousin also lives in NB (::waves at Chris::), and one of our old friends (my sister's ex) goes to CCSU, too.

Okay, dinnertime!

P.S. I miss Kevin Millar. If anyone laughs at me for saying that, I'll kick your ass.

[14 Jun 2006|08:50pm]
Finally, some good news: we got the apartment in New Britain (less than two miles from Mark's school)! For your viewing pleasure, a few pictures: 



(The kitchen)



(Living room)



(Bedroom 1 - there are two, but Mark forgot to get a picture of the other one)



(Bathroom - see the clawfoot tub??)

I'm pretty sure that every single room is a different color! I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, since I haven't seen the apartment myself yet. It's 5 rooms, over 1000 square feet, and the flooring, fixtures, and appliances are all new. There is laundry hookup, so we can get our own washer and dryer instead of having to trek to the laundromat.

It's cat-friendly (no pet deposit for up to two cats). A week ago, I couldn't wait to find an apartment so that Mark and I could have a cat of our own. Now, any cat I adopted would feel like a poor impersonation of Fulton, so I need to give it some time. When I'm ready, I'll know. I still cry at the most random times, including on the way home from work today when I saw a dead raccoon on the side of Route 8. 

I need a new job. I'm pretty sure they're not going to be able to find a full-time position for me at the publishing company, so I'll have to call it quits at the end of July when we move. Even if it were 50 feet (instead of 50 miles) away from my apartment, Mark and I are going to have a lot of new expenses. It's too bad, because I do enjoy compiling books, knowing that when they hit the shelves, I can say that I wrote them (though nobody would ever know otherwise, since "in-house" means that some poor editor writes/compiles the manuscript without getting any credit or contract). 

Okay, I'm off to listen to the new Live CD.

I miss you, Fultie-bear.

[11 Jun 2006|10:32pm]

[10 Jun 2006|09:39pm]
Fulton, my 19-year-old cat, died this morning. Apparently, for the last few days, he was trying to get out (he was strictly an indoor cat and never had any interest in going outside) and scratched frantically at doors to try to get out. It was his instinct to go off and die. He was so weak that he fell asleep in his litter box last night.

He had hyperthyroidism for 3 years and lived a lot longer with it than most cats--even ones half his age. That doesn't mean that anything can prepare you for that phone call, especially when you're in bed with something resembling the flu. We took him to a pet cemetery near home, and they're going to try to bury him as near to our other cats as possible.

Yeah, we paid money to inter our cat. A 19-year-old sage like Fulton, who has been with me half my life, deserved a place of honor next to his departed sisters, Thumpy and Libby. I'd have parted with my last dime to save him, and I certainly would have been more than willing to part with the money to bury him (but my mother insisted on paying). It was awful, to be riding in that car with him in the trunk, looking like he was napping in the sun.

I will never love another animal as much as I love him--or, at the very least, not in the same way--and that's probably a good thing. I don't know if I could go through this again with another pet. He's like my first-born child. I saw him at the shelter when we adopted Libby, and I just knew that he was supposed to be part of our family, even as a child of only twelve years. And, sure enough, my mom surprised me a month later by bringing me to the shelter so that I could bring him home.

There is such a huge void inside me right now. People who think that pets aren't family members, or that they're replaceable things that aren't worth mourning, can kiss my ass.

[06 Jun 2006|08:43pm]

The older I get (because, you know, 23 is so halfway over the hill), the more fascinating I find the world. When I'm not being cynical and snarking on everything I see, I have an awful lot of obsessions (some more intellectual than others--what? I don't watch daytime soaps! Nope, not I...).  

Ever since I saw Memoirs of a Geisha, which is a pretty "Hollywood-ized" representation of Asian cinema (seeing as how the dialogue is all in English), I realized that I wanted to learn more about Oriental cultures. After all, what kind of sad little bubble are you living in if you don't explore all the corners of the world, even the ones that don't touch your life directly? After a conversation with Trish, I've decided to steal her idea and make it a goal to know 5 languages by the time I'm 25. I already know English and French, so I am hoping to learn Portuguese (so that I can understand what they're saying at Mark's family functions), Japanese (since I've been obsessed with Japan since I was in first grade), and possibly Mandarin or Italian. Mandarin may just be the most difficult language on this planet to learn (except maybe its cousin, Cantonese, which has six tone levels), and my tone-deaf self might not do so well with the tone levels. 

I just checked out some books on Chinese opera, which I find absolutely fascinating (I'm lucky not to have had any vocal training, because Chinese opera is a completely different entity than Western opera singing--it might offend the classically trained ear). I saw most of Farewell My Concubine on YouTube (it's not available at my local rental place) and was blown away by the style, spectacle, and sound of the Chinese opera. America is so lacking in that sort of rich culture. I think I'm a total xenophile.

Anyway, I ordered some Japanese textbooks on Half.com, the best place to buy books ever ($10 for 3 textbooks). I bought one basic Japanese textbook, one on Hiragana, and one on Katakana. I read some introductory lessons and realized just how logical Japanese grammar, pronunciation, and lettering are once you push past the initial feeling of intimidation. 

I know that I should be in a doctoral program somewhere, putting my undying academic curiosity to some sort of productive use (my personal library is 3 bookshelves wide and growing), but finances beckon. We can't live with Mark's parents forever, and if we're going to get an apartment by the time Mark starts school in August, I need to lasso myself a dependable salary/benefits package.

Okay, I'm off to find a Kanji workbook. I'm a woman with a mission. I'm not quite sure why I'm on the mission but, at the very least, it will make watching the original Iron Chef a lot more meaningful. ;)

[02 Jun 2006|11:55am]

I have realized lately that some of the only truly unselfish love I have felt in life has been toward my cat. I mean, there are people I love more than life itself, especially Mark, but the love of an animal is different. You are their only advocate--they can't tell you when they're feeling sick or bring themselves to the doctor, so it is up to us to take care of them so that they have comfortable, happy lives.

I pretty much love Fulton beyond reason, and I know that he won't be around forever. He's 19 years old, has a thyroid wilder than Diana Ross' weave, and suffers from a lot of secondary health problems that stem from his condition. The thing is, he's still so damned vital. Mark's family doesn't understand the things we are doing for him--the vitamins, the medication, and the shots. The thing is, he is not a cat who is on his deathbed. He is free of cancer, his heart and lungs are fluid-free, etc. He still scampers around the house, begging for food, doing things on command (he was always an exceptionally intelligent cat), and trying to open doors to find himself impeded only by his lack of opposable thumbs. He has been a companion to my sister after her worst grand mal seizures. He and my father are so sympatico that you could set a clock to their daily routine. 

The thing is, a cat's lifespan is roughly 20 years, if he's healthy. Fulton has lived years longer than most other cats with his condition. Parents with sick or disabled children, whose lifespans have been shortened significantly by illness, don't hold anything back simply because of some arbitrary number a doctor declares. They don't throw their hands up in capitulation and say, "Oh, well, my child is only going to live 20 years, anyway, so what's the point of taking her to the doctor?" I feel the same way about pets, really.  

If he were suffering, if he were lying immobile in the house and completely withdrawn, it would be different. If his ultrasound had shown that he was riddled with cancer or fluid, I'd feel differently. But he is simply a cat whose body has reacted badly to a change in medication, a cat the vet is very confident she can save (and, if you ask me, a cat she is rather attached to by now).  I would bankrupt myself to save him, even if it meant adding only a year or two of healthy, comfortable life. 

Anyway, end of rant. Now that I've established myself as a certifiable "cat lady," I'll go knit in solitude. Except I don't know how to knit. 

In other news, I'm compiling a George W. Bush countdown to out of office book at work, which they're tacking on to the Fall 2006 title list. I am also writing a canine IQ book for Spring 2007! If only my name went on some of these publications that I wrote single-handedly! The joys of "in-house" publishing. Oh, well. At least they contracted me for the 2007 History Channel calendar, so I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts there.

Time for lunch.

[Actors exeunt]

Writing Exercise - 5/26/06 [26 May 2006|11:05am]
A Day in the Life

Taken from 30minutemuse

Suppose a character - whether from a book you've read, a show you've watched, or one you've created - is transported in some weird way to our world. Somehow, he/she/it/they land somewhere in your vicinity and decide to attach themselves to you, trying to figure this world out. How would they handle a day in your life? Tell us about it.

(Mere's note: FINALLY, I get to write a piece on Stinking Lizaveta from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.)

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