Bring Da Funk

Ah, the dreaded “funk”. You’ve been in one, haven’t you? For a couple of days…or a couple of weeks, maybe? Well, I am in a funk and have been for a few days now.

funk [fuhngk] (noun)

1. a dejected mood

2. a strong smell, stench

3. a state of cowardly fright; a panic

4. a state of severe depression

5. an earthy quality appreciated in music such as jazz or soul

Although none of the definitions I found on Dictionary.com accurately represent my personal funk (I DO NOT smell!), I still think I’m in a temporary funk. I know it’s temporary because I’ve been here before and know from experience that my funks are fleeting. WARNING: I’m about to mention my period, so if that’s TMI, then move along. Funks typically settle around me when I’m pre-menstrual. Ya know…fluctuating hormones and whatnot – powerful stuff that. Tuesday, after an excruciatingly traumatic trip to the dentist (more on that later), I was on my couch flipping through tv channels and stopped on the movie An American Tail. Remember that movie? Like, when we were 10? Yeah well, I caught the last 20 minutes or so and bawled – I’m talking tears streaming down my face along with hiccupping and sniffling – when Fieval was finally reunited with his family. This is a highly reliable indicator of funkage.

Suspected contributing factors to my current funk include (but may not be limited to):

* REALLY not enjoying my job at the moment. I’ve been helping out on the last stages of a project our office is doing in a joint venture. Which means, the project is not set up to our typical drawing standards, AND I know nothing about the project, AND because it’s in the last stages, all I’m helping out with is cleaning up the drawings by picking up redlines.

This has proven to be both boring and frustrating, which is bizarre. Usually if something I’m working on is frustrating, then at least there’s the benefit of it being interesting or challenging. And if I’m doing something that’s boring, then at least it’s just mindless work and I can sort of zone out and be crazy productive. For the past week and a half, this godforsaken project has me dreading getting up in the morning. This is not good. And I am positive this is contributing to my funk.

* In addition to the godforsaken project, other work-related contributing factors include Kelly’s imminent departure. Yep. She’s leaving our office. But, it’s not like she’s just changing firms here in Nashville. No. She’s moving to fucking Virginia because her fucking husband is in the fucking Navy and he has to do what they tell him to do. And by extension, so does she. I hate the Navy.

* I am seriously out of shape and my tennis game and self-esteem are both suffering terribly. I let it happen. And because it’s my own damn fault, it’s a huge contributing funk factor.

* My single gal identity feels like it’s gradually dissolving right before my eyes and there are moments when it really freaks me out. I can’t help it. As much as I like being one half of a couple, there’s still a part of me that stubbornly rebels against couplehood. I shudder to think of becoming typical and for some reason, being in a committed relationship makes me utterly convinced that I will somehow become the typical kind of person that seriously scares me. The kind of person who is dependent. The kind of person who can’t or won’t do anything without their significant other. The kind of person who begins every sentence with “we”. The kind of person who feels hopelessly stuck. Or isolated. Or desolate. Oh yeah…I have healthy attitudes towards relationships.

I know these sound like the ravings of a lunatic, especially if you’ve ever met Daniel and know that he is pretty much the most kind, considerate and understanding human being on the planet. Still, when a funk descends, these are the kinds of irrational thoughts that roll around in my brain.

When in the midst of a funk, I am not known to be a rational thinker.

* We had our annual insurance renewal at work this week. Joy. That fact in and of itself makes me incredibly fussy whether I’m in a funk or not. Insurance is so fucking complicated and so…so…slimy. I feel dirty after having to deal with it. Again – my own issues. But THEN, as I was getting ready to sign on the dotted line and be done with it, one of my female co-workers told me she had opted for voluntary short term disability. Huh. And why, I asked, would she do such a thing.

I vaguely recalled the insurance guy telling us that if we opted for this benefit now, then we wouldn’t have to answer any medical questions…but I barely paid attention to him. After all, why on earth would I need short term disability? Apparently the reason my female co-worker decided to get it is because our firm does not offer paid maternity leave. But this short term disability thing does. Huh. Um…maternity…yeah. No, I’m not pregnant. No, I do not have any intention of becoming pregnant. But, as my co-worker went on and on about this benefit, I started to panic in my funk-induced state.

And my thought process went something like this as I stood in front of her nodding and smiling while she explained this short term disability thing:

oh well i’m not pregnant i’m not getting pregnant the last thing i want right now is a kid i don’t need this stupid insurance but what if I want one later what if once i decide i want one i can’t get this insurance what if i have to take off work without pay for weeks what if my kid and i become homeless because i don’t have any money although i may not even be able to have a kid is a kid something i think i’m going to want at some point what if it’s already too late if it’s not too late will i really be able to work full time and take care of a kid if not, will i die of depression i’ll end up homeless and depressed with a kid to look after…

And then I started breathing again. And realized what a complete nutcase I am. And checked the Decline box.

Then there’s the dentist.

* I hate the dentist, which is why I hadn’t been to one in over six years. I take excruciatingly good care of my teeth for this very reason. However, despite being told that my teeth and gums are remarkably healthy, the dentist told me I had two small cavities. One on the right. One on the left. Super. I hadn’t had a cavity in like 20 years.

I inherited my curly hair and my innate fear of dentists from my mom’s older sister. Remind me to thank her. First of all, medical environments, and medical instruments in particular, make me weak. Needles make me faint. I tell this to medical and dental people all the time and they don’t believe me…until I faint. Pain I can take, as long as I know it’s temporary, except the pain of a metal drill grinding against sensitive tooth nerve that hasn’t been numbed yet. In cases like that, I jump up out of the dentist’s chair, which sends the dental tools flying into the air and across the room, and leaves the dentist and hygienist in mild states of shock.

So, while the dentist loaded up ANOTHER needle with Novocain, I convulsed and hyperventilated. Once the entire right side of my head was numb enough that I could’ve been hit with a baseball bat and not felt a thing, the dentist went to work again with her tool of death.

Okay, another reason I hate the dentist is because I hate people hovering over my face. It makes me feel incredibly claustrophobic. Add to that my sensitive gag reflex and I feel like I can’t breathe…and my jaw starts to ache…and my eyes start watering…and my nails dig into the armrests of the chair…and I will myself to remain calm…remain calm…breathe through your nose. And the petite little dentist cheerily inquires, “how’re we doin’? you okay?” To which I nod miserably. And then, finally, the trauma is over…until I have to go back on Monday for Round Two. Joy.

Fortunately, I feel my funk is dissipating. I start a new project at work on Monday. I broke down and joined the Y and have put Daniel in charge of making me go there. My dental trauma will be over Monday afternoon. My PMS will be gone soon. I'm going on a little road trip to Erie next week.

Yes, things are definitely looking up.


Book Shelves

So, remember how I mentioned I'm pet-sitting this week? No? See this post, or just believe me when I say I am pet-sitting this week.

Know what I like most about pet-sitting? Besides being able to help out my favorite Jewish family in Nashville, and using their lovely in-ground pool, and making some easy moolah? I like seeing how other people live. Perhaps it's my innate nosy nature, but I take great delight in examining other people's houses - floor plans and finishes and furniture layout and kitchen appliances and other dorky stuff like that. I'm not so nosy - or so bold - as to peek into medicine cabinets or rifle through bedside drawers or kitchen cabinets, but besides the aforementioned HGTV-induced obssesions, I REALLY enjoy looking at what people have on their bookshelves. Love it, in fact.

If I'm visiting someone, it's more difficult to assess their bookshelf situation without looking like a nosy lunatic. But when I'm pet-sitting, the only one there to judge my idiosyncrasies is the adorable, but slobbery, black lab and I can peruse the book shelves at my leisure.

First of all, I. Love. Books. Period. Second of all, I think the books people own and display on their book shelves are incredibly indicative of the kind of people they are. A person's book collection speaks volumes about them. (Ha! Get it? Volumes?...sorry).

I've known my Nashville family for...oh...about two years I guess, maybe a little less. While I don't hang out with them socially, I think I know them moderately well. I pretty much expect to find stuff like Without Feathers by Woody Allen and Chutzpah by Alan Dershowitz. They have all the Harry Potter books in hardback and three Isaac Asimov novels. They have nearly a whole shelf of books on various hiking trails and nature travel books. Knowing them as I do, these are things I would expect to see on their shelves.

And then I'll be trolling along one of their many book shelves, and I'll come across something that sorta surprises me. Like, last night, I happened to notice that there was a copy of Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher. Huh. This is a relatively controversial, feminist book on adolescent females and how they become victims of our consumer culture. It's a great book, but one I didn't expect to encounter amongst their collection. Seeing this on their shelves, made me love them a little more.

And then, next to Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, but tucked farther down from Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut and Cosmos by Carl Sagan, I found the familiar spine of A Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson. Which pretty much seals my undying loyalty for these people, because Bill Bryson is comedic brillance and anyone who has his books on their bookshelves is okay in MY book!

Product Review

Marketers love me. No, really they do. I am so ridiculously susceptible to advertising it's almost unbelievable. But, if you don't believe me just ask Bethany, or Daniel. If I happen to catch an infomercial, I am transfixed and immediately decide that I need - no, cannot live without - whatever it is they are selling and frantically look for pen and paper to write down the phone number. If I see enticing products advertised in a magazine, I rip the page out for future reference. If I read a sales campaign online for some shiny new product, I'll expertly bookmark it.

Fortunately for my bank account, I am also somewhat of a flutter-head and more often than not I end up losing the scraps of paper with phone numbers scribbled on them, misplacing the torn magazine ads, and completely forgetting about my carefully bookmarked sites. Plus, the guilt associated with frivolous spending is usually more than I can bear.

BUT, when I went to Wal-Mart this weekend and stumbled across THIS:

I couldn't help myself. I had seen the commercials for it and had salivated, because I am particularly partial to facial products. So I justified my purchase internally and plopped the thing in my cart with a satisfied grin.

Okay, so here's the dilly-o with this facial gadget. For about $12 you get the vibrating "power cleanser" along with the necessary AA battery to power it and 14 cleanser pads. The pads are already pre-loaded with facial cleanser, so you just place one on the vibrating gadget and it sticks there utilizing a velcro-like method. The gadget is super simple. There is ONE button. You push it ON and the facial gadget vibrates. You push it OFF and it stops. Simple.

Though it IS simple to operate (which is a huge bonus in my world), it's not quite what I envisioned. I thought it would be more like a home micro-dermabrasion sort of thing. I thought there would be more scrubbing or exfoliating action. But, the cleanser pads are quite smooth with just a little bit of texture to them and the facial gadget DOES vibrate, but not excessively so. I'll admit it feels nice on my face and my skin does feel exceptionally soft and smooth after I use it. And maybe it does indeed clean pores "10x better than traditional cleansing products".

It's gentle enough for me to use everyday, so once I run out of cleanser pads and have to buy refills, I'll reassess the "power cleanser" situation.

In the meantime, I'll continue to feed my infomercial addiction and ogle the shiny new products advertisers place in front of me.

Dogs & Cats & Lizards...Oh My!

So, you know how I have this family here in Nashville for whom I function as sometimes kid-sitter, sometimes pet-sitter, and one-time-Bar-Mitzvah-chaperone? Well, this week I've donned my pet-sitter hat. Under my competent care is one slobbery black lab of an attention whore, two highly skittish felines with serious superiority complexes, and one baby leopard gecko lizard named Flicky who requires 4 live crickets every day.

Oddly, I am not entirely unfamiliar with the whole live-cricket-as-food-source thing. In the past, I have fed live crickets to my cousin's pet frogs and even had to make a pet store run on one occasion to acquire a fresh batch of live crickets. I also experienced a live cricket episode when I worked at ABX Air. We were unloading a whole pallet of boxes filled with live crickets to be shipped to various pet supply stores. One of the boxes apparently ripped or something and a bunch of crickets escaped into the dark recesses of the warehouse and for weeks afterwards it sounded like we were working out on the prairie, the chirping was that loud. Poor crickets.

Aaaaaanyway, in addition to the dog, the cats, the lizard and the poor crickets, I've also come in contact (well, eye contact) with a deer who has been hanging around the house. I've seen her twice now and one time I was so close (like seriously about 10 feet away) I couldn't resist trying to take a few photos. And while I fumbled with my stupid cell phone camera, she just stood there looking at me like, "um...could you hurry it up please, I have things to do". But she humored me and I apologized, quickly took her picture and then let her be on her way.

Yes, I am aware my photography skills SUH-UCK.


Mixed Nuts

I'm a freak. Weird things make me cry. Like this commercial that Alison posted on HER BLOG recently. It's a commercial for the Washington State Lottery - of all things - but it's just so gosh darn warm and fuzzy, and seriously puts a lump in my throat everytime I watch the damn thing. There's something wrong with me. Plus, I've always been strangely compelled to try hang gliding someday. *shrug*

In other news, we received more squash last night in our weekly CSA box. Yep. Squash. We can't seem to escape it. Daniel and I went out for dinner Monday night to celebrate his birthday (Happy Birthday!) and our meals came with a "vegetable of the day". Naturally, the "vegetable of the day" was a big ole steaming pile of mixed squash. Joy.

Speaking of birthday...remember how when it was my birthday a couple of months ago and I enjoyed a whole week full of birthday fun painstakingly planned out? 'Member dat? Yeah well, sadly, Daniel's birthday week was not nearly as masterfully planned because yours truly was in charge and I am not known to be an accomplished planner (just ask Donna). I'm much more of a "live in the moment" sort of person...well, that, or I'm just inordinately lazy. Um...probably the latter.

So, while I had all of these grand, half-materialized plans floating around in my head, none of them ever really came to fruition. I did manage to leave little happy fun notes all over (like in his shoes and taped to his cologne) for him to find during his birthday week. Notes like "you make me laugh so hard sometimes I feel like I'm gonna throw-up". Yep. I'm fantastically eloquent. I also picked up a couple of foodie magazines to replace the ones in our kitchen he's already read. On his actual birthday - while he watched the US Open (golf. gag.)- I cleaned his bathroom, his bedroom, and washed, dried, and put away his laundry. That may not be the most creative birthday present, but what I lack in planning abilities I make up for with mad cleaning skills.

Also, have I mentioned my summer tennis league started last week? Well, it did. And while my skills have improved drastically since the beginning of spring league, I ended up barely losing my match last week. But it was so fun and so close, that I didn't even care. I played again last night with an opponent who is new to the league. We were fairly well matched with me winning the first set 6-1 and her winning the second set 6-3. THEN, in this particular league, if there is a split set tie, you are supposed to play a ten point pro set instead of a full third set.

I knew this, but hadn't been in a tie situation for so long that I wasn't quite sure. My opponent insisted that she had read the rules and was certain it said "best of three sets". So, we played a full third set. It was hot. We were tired. We ended up playing for like two and a half hours and I finally won 6-0. You better believe I ran right home and read the league rules! Which clearly state, "DO NOT play a full third set" in big bold letters. See? I knew what I was talking about. Sheesh. Sometimes I have so little faith in myself...okay, lots of times, but so what.


More Squash? No, Thanks.

We have squash coming out our butts. We're into our third week of farm-fresh produce and we've gotten armfuls of squash every week so far. Trust me, it's a lot of freakin' squash.

Week 1: ZUCCHINI, YELLOW SQUASH, PATTY PAN SQUASH, asparagus, strawberries, and green onions

Week 2: ZUCCHINI, YELLOW SQUASH, cucumbers, broccoli, strawberries, romaine lettuce, green peas, green onions

Week 3: That's right, ZUCCHINI, YELLOW SQUASH, broccoli, strawberries, cucumbers, green onions, beets, a couple different kinds of spring lettuces, cabbage

We've grilled squash. We've sauteed squash. We've baked squash. Daniel made a squash and rice dish with cumin and onions. And I made some kind of cheesy squash casserole. I think we're to the point where we may end up shredding some of the zucchinis and freezing them for future zucchini bread endeavors.

While most of the produce I'm loving - especially the strawberries, broccoli and lettuces - I am tired of SQUASH. Please, No. More. Squash.


Nashville Props

2 years, 4 months, and 5 days.

That's how long I've called Nashville home. I'm a Yankee transplant, as are many of the people who live here, who has slowly fallen for this town. I am no fan of country music and the fact that I don't hide my dislike was amusing to my friends and family when I announced I would be moving to Nashville Tennessee. After all, Nashville is all about the country music, right? I certainly thought so.

I was wrong. Nashville is much more musically diverse than most people realize and those of us who come to Nashville with pre-conceived notions of rhinestones, red necks and record labels are pleasantly surprised to find the depth and breadth of talent teeming throughout the city.

So, I wanted to pass along the link to THIS ARTICLE written 9 months ago by Ann Patchett for the New York Times. She presents an accurate picture of what the Nashville music scene is really like...and it is good.

Entrepreneurial Spirit?

While in Seattle, my friends and I couldn’t help notice that the indigent population of Seattle has a sense of humor despite being homeless in a damp, gloomy, hilly city. As we walked around the Northwest Folklife Festival, one such person held up a sign that said something like, “Homeless. Hungry. Ugly. Please Help.” Another person had a sign held to his chest upon which was written “SEX!” in big black bold letters. Underneath it said something like, “Now that I have your attention, any help is appreciated”. People were not only donating, they were flocking around and taking pictures with the sign holders. Good work, I guess, if you can get it.

A little later, we encountered another, more aggressive, tactic than the benign humorous sign holding. As we settled on the grass for some lunch, a middle-aged woman came by and handed each of us one of these

It's a bookmark. About 6 inches long and 2 inches wide on gray cardstock. As you can see from the photo, it has photocopied ink drawings of sign language letters spelling out “I Love You”. The woman didn’t say anything, she just handed these to each of us and then hovered expectantly while we looked at them and each other in semi-confusion.

On the back of the bookmark, this is printed in black ink

It says:

“Hello! I am deaf, I drew and made the art work. I hope that you will accept my sale gratefully. This book mark costs any price you wish. Thank you and may you be blessed.”

I was sort of stunned and hurriedly fished out a dollar from my bag to hand to the woman in exchange for the bookmark she was “selling” me. Now, I suppose I could’ve handed the bookmark back and just smiled or politely declined, but I would’ve felt totally guilty doing that. It was like guerrilla pan-handling.

As soon as we all paid her, she moved on to the next unsuspecting group of tourists to “sell” more of her bookmarks. The more I thought about this incident, the more annoyed it made me. I mean really, who has the balls to hand strangers pieces of paper and expect them to “gratefully” pay you for them? I don’t care how unfortunate my circumstances, I wouldn’t have the nerve to pull something like that off.

Yes, it was only a dollar and no, I wasn’t forced to pay her, and yet it rankled me.

I’m over it, don’t worry.

You may not be able to tell from the photo, but the date on the drawing is 7/14/97. It makes me wonder if she’s been doing this for 11 years. And if she has, I wonder how much money she’s made? I mean, she can get at least 8 of those bookmarks printed on one 8.5 x 11 sheet of cardstock at Kinko’s for, what?, like a buck fifty maybe? She made four dollars just off of me and my friends in a matter of seconds and there were hundreds of people at the Festival. I’m no numbers geek, but that seems like a pretty sweet gig.

Seattle homeless…not your average panhandlers!