Monday, April 29, 2013


I hate being ill. But I kind of like the word "sickly."

It sounds so much better to say that I'm feeling "sickly" than to say that I'm feeling "sick." After all, for about 70% of my day, today, I felt fine. There were just a few times in the middle of the day when I felt awful.

So I was "sick-ish" or "mildly unwell" or "not up to par," but I didn't feel like I could say I was "sick." Although, I did announce upon arrival in the office this morning that I am placing the blame for my state of health squarely upon each and every co-worker who has been sick for the past couple of weeks.

So I think I'm going to try to bring back the word "sickly." Because, really, that's how I'm feeling.

And when you're feeling sickly, who is going to argue with you?

(I highly recommend that you agree with me, or else I'm going to come to your house and lick your keyboard. And I am *so* not kidding.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Fever

Pretty much everyone in my office has been sick, lately. Lots of sneezing and noses being blown, and I've been avoiding everyone as much as possible.

My desk is as far away from everyone else's as it can be. Unfortunately, it's still in the same closed environment.

So, when one of my co-workers was sick enough about 10 days ago that she fainted in her apartment and had to go to Urgent Care the next morning to make sure she hadn't broken anything, I made sure she was okay, but didn't get too close.

When people ran out of tissues, I didn't point out the box on my desk, I instead got them their own boxes from the office supply stash.

When someone else said that she was feeling horrible and debating going home, I lobbied loud and long for her to just go home. I know that burning sick time isn't fun, but I just didn't want to have to deal with the possibility of getting sick.

I especially didn't want to think about the idea of getting sick right before the first absolutely gorgeous weekend of the year. And I shrugged off the strange inability to focus at the end of the week - figuring that it was caused by the subject matter that I was editing.

This morning, after doing some quick spring garden prep, I came in with itchy eyes, a runny nose, and blotchy skin from my wrists to my elbows. Nope - not a cold. Just an allergic reaction to the ornamental grasses I was cutting back. (It happens every year.)

But, as the afternoon wore on, I felt more and more tired. I napped for over an hour, but still couldn't get my energy back. I blamed the Benadryl (taken to combat the allergic reaction to the grass), and slammed back some caffeine.

Then Christopher and I started to get ready to go out tonight - to our first outdoor Saturday evening event of the season. Glorious weather - in the upper 60s, with not a hint of rain (or snow). And Christopher looked over at me and said "Maybe you should just stay home."

I wanted to argue. I wanted to put up a protest and prove that I was fine to go out. I did pout and whine a little, but that kind of took it out of me. So I begrdugingly agreed and sent him on his way before putting my pajamas on.

Spring fever - in any form - sucks.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Having seen a cardinal on a branch of the bush just outside the bathroom window just a couple of days ago, when he was perfectly offset by the pure white snow-covered backyard, the fact that I'm posting about spring seems kind of incredible.

But, in fact, I believe spring might be on its way. It was sunny and only 10 degrees cooler than average today. Tomorrow we might get up to average temps. And we might even see 70 degrees on the weekend.

When I was walking the dog this evening, I noticed that the trees were swelling with buds. In the yard, the irises are greening and growing.

I actually got to wear my third-heaviest coat, today - and went out without even wearing that when we went to dinner.

The best thing about a delayed spring? When it actually... blissfully... finally shows up.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Five Things I Have To Ask

These are a few things that I've had rumbling around in my brain, lately, and I thought I'd toss them out into the ether:

1) Why do short guys always seem to use the "tall" urinal when there are two of different heights available? As a tall guy, using the "short" urinal can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, and I always wonder about it but have never felt it was appropriate to ask at the time.

2) Why do people (at least in Minnesota) drive less than the speed of traffic in the HOV lane? Does that make sense to anyone at all?

3) Why in the world do some people walk their dogs - inside the city limits along busy streets - without having them on a leash? Do they not realize that this is dangerous for pretty much everyone involved - not the least of which is the dog?

4) Why can't you order cable channels a la carte?

5) If you've been given a sample of something (a food, a service, whatever), why would you expect the full-sized thing to be completely different? (Sorry. This one needs context, doesn't it? Let's say you've purchased a paint color and agreed that the color of green was perfect for your wall, so you ask someone to use that color to paint your house. Why would you assume that the house would, instead, turn out lavender - and, thus, complain when it's green?)

Considering it's only Tuesday, and I'm already asking questions like those, I fear it's going to be a long week.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sweet Smell of...

Vacuuming is not one of those things that typically elicits comments of "Oh, that smells nice." Instead, it seems that vacuuming using results in comments of either "I think the vacuum is getting old, it smells hot," or "What the heck happened in here that makes it smell that way?"

This weekend, however, I was treated to a "that smells really nice" moment while cleaning up in the kitchen.

You see, a week or two ago, we had a small jar of coriander jump out of the cupboard and shatter as it glanced off the counter and plunged to the floor.

This wasn't a huge deal from a spice standpoint. It wasn't like all of our culinary endeavours were about to come to a screeching halt due to a lack of coriander. And since coriander is a relatively easy spice to purchase, we knew our state of hypocoriandrocity would end fairly quickly.

The problem, of course, is that when a "small jar of something" breaks, it's not just the "of something" that scatters around the kitchen. The "small jar" shatters, too. And we have a very curious dog, so she wanted to help us find all of the good-smelling remnants.

So we did a quick-but-thorough cleaning and surveying of the kitchen floor, followed by (pay attention - this will lead us back to the point) a run around the kitchen with the trusty cabinet-mounted Dustbuster.

And, things being as they are, we went on about our lives. More coriander was purchased. The cabinet was restocked. The trash was taken out.

Until today when, after sweeping the floors, I flipped the switch on the Dustbuster to clear up the last of the grit from the linoleum and was ever-so-pleasantly greeted by the slightly sweet, yet spicy, aroma of coriander.

Sure, I know that Baking Soda and Lemon usually win the "what scent should we put in our cleaning supplies?" contests, but honestly, I'm totally voting for coriander the next time anyone asks me.

Friday, April 19, 2013

April (Snow) Showers

I know that a lot of stuff has been in the news this week. And I know that the freaky winter weather in mid-April in the Upper Midwest really doesn't rate as all that important in comparison. But since we've all heard the "write what you know" admonitions, I offer you the following.

Things I've learned from the April 2013 weather:

1) Driving home from work through an April snowstorm is better than driving home from work through a December/January/February snowstorm because you can see what's going on around you instead of feeling totally lost in the dark.

2) Swearing at the weather doesn't make it change.

3) Watching the weather forecasts is probably the most disheartening thing you can do during weather like this. Actually, that's not true. Watching them is fine. *Believing* them is bad.

4) Even after 6+ months of winter driving, some people are still idiots on the road.

5) One of the benefits of a colder-than-average "spring" is that the trees don't leaf out early and, thus, end up losing limbs because so much snow sticks to them. Whether the budded trees will make it through tonight's record low temperature (16 degrees has been forecast) remains to be seen.

6) After a while, seeing people walk around in clothing that you know they just put on simply "because it was warm" - with no thought to how they look - makes you want to start fining them for crimes against fashion.

7) Even though it's freakin' cold and there are 7 inches of snow on the ground, once you reach a certain point in the year there are some pieces of clothing you will refuse to wear. For me, that is my "only in the coldest/wettest parts of the year" coat. I have moved to my second-heaviest coat, and mid-weight scarves.

8) After a while, all you really want to do is wear that different coat. You start looking in the closet and dreaming about wearing things you haven't seen in months. My third-heaviest coat used to get me through most of the winter in Baltimore. I suspect I'll only get to wear it for about a week this year.

9) Using the weather as a justification for continued hibernation only really works if you have thick blinds and drapes. Otherwise, it kind of feels like you're playing hooky from your life. But not in a good way.

10) April snowstorms - no matter how ugly and inconvenient - do melt away fairly quickly. The last one was completely cleared up before this one showed up. Here's hoping that this one is completely gone before the next one. (And, please, oh please, may the next snowstorm be sometime in November.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Shorts

Sadly, it has been way too freakishly wintry for me to be talking about going out and wandering around in short pants. So that's not the kind of shorts we're talking about.

We are, in fact, talking about short films.

I'm not using the "Royal We," here - I'm assuming that you are talking back to me while I write, and thus "we" are having a conversation. I have to do this in my imagination a lot because I know you're out there reading this but so few of you actually ever make any comments. At least not that others can see. In my mind, you're all commenting all the time. Which is why - to get back to my point - I'm saying "we."
**End Sidenote**

You know that short film that was done at our house last fall? (Oh... Sorry... that would be Christopher's and my house - not "our" collective house, because even though it's not a huge number of you reading this, I think that if you all moved in with us it might be a tad tight. Not that you aren't all lovely and we wouldn't love to have you come one or two at a time, obviously.) It's the short film I talked about here. Well, tonight was its Film Festival Premiere at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

It was in a bundle of 5 Minnesota Made short narrative films - 4 dramatic pieces and one pre-zombie apocalypse wedding-day comedy. And it was - once again - really fun to see "Golden" on the big screen. This time, I even paid attention to the narrative, instead of just looking at our house. And, you know what? That made it even better. I even teared up a couple of times, even though I knew the whole story.

And it was fun to hear a few extra stories about it tonight during the Q&A after the films were shown. For instance: "Why did you use a short focal range?" Because we were working in a tight space with, usually, only 2 feet from the camera to the person. I hadn't ever thought of that, but... yeah... our long, narrow living room doesn't exactly provide lots of space for long shots. Neither does our long, narrow kitchen. Or the small, squarish piano room...

When I mentioned to the director this time I had actually watched the story, not the house, he commented that he is still watching scenes, thinking "So, the sound guy is just out of frame over here, and the camera was there..."

Unfortunately, the evening ended fairly quickly - which I guess makes sense with short films. But there's one great takeaway that I can offer: Supporting small, independent arts can lead to incredible outcomes. For Christopher and me, the weekend of filming last fall has resulted in new friendships and a couple of fun - very unusual for us - nights out.

And a friend of ours who was in the audience tonight even saw me on the way out and affirmed our brush with fame when he said "I wondered if that might have been you and Christopher [listed on the screen in the thank-you section]."

It may "only" have been a short. But it sure has been sweet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

One Last Slice

Is there anything as sad as the very last piece of cake?

It's never the piece that was graced by the candle. It's never the pretty piece. It's never the piece that everyone wanted to eat.

The last piece of cake is always the piece that people kind of avoided for one reason or another. And while every other piece had only one side that had become dry due to air exposure, the last piece has two sides (or more) that have become just a little dryer than you'd like.

So it sits on the plate for just a little too long, as you contemplate whether to eat it or put both of you out of your misery and just relegate it to the bin.

But then you pour yourself a glass of milk and settle in.

The frosting is a little sturdier than you had hoped. The cake has a kind of outer shell that  seems just a tad off. But the center is just as nice as the other pieces had been.

As you work your way through that last slice you find yourself thinking about the first slice - not just of that particular cake, but every cake. The frosted brownie shaped like a shoe. The chocolate teddy bear and the white bunny. The cupcakes and wedding cakes and shower cakes and anniversary cakes.

And by the time you're tipping back the last of the milk, the cake has become one of those memories. And it wasn't the last slice after all, but simply another piece of the strange cake puzzle that is your life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Mystery Clean

We all know about mystery bruises. The ones that show up that you can't explain - or even think of ways to explain.

And there are the mystery messes. The ones that show up and you can completely guess how they showed up but you don't know when or why.

This evening, we found a mystery clean. Our new tablecloth, which had gotten broken in while my folks were here this week, is somehow clean tonight. It may also have been this morning, but I don't pay attention to much that isn't in my tunnel of vision in the morning. And, heck, it may even have been clean last night - but we went out to dinner last night and never sat at the table.

But, whenever it happened, it is suddenly clean and tidy and very spiffy looking - and neither Christopher nor I had anything to do with it.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that the pup did it. But she's not good with the lid on the washer (you know - when it's open, it's very hard for her to reach to put back down). And I think my folks might have mentioned it if she had asked for their help in washing the tablecloth.

So, for now, we'll just call it a very much appreciated mystery.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Time Lapse

I've mentioned what I did all weekend. It was a project for work that took the entire weekend to do. (I'm happy to say that the person for whom I was doing it was very appreciative.)

Then, on Monday, I had a couple of (much) smaller projects I needed to work on, and so I did those in the evening. Of course, we didn't get around to cleaning the house on the weekend, so that happened on Monday, too.

Last night, my parents flew into town on their way home to South Dakota from Los Angeles. But - as you may have noticed if you live in the States - the spring weather this year is a little weird.

You see, when they came through town on their way to LA a couple weeks ago, my parents were commenting on how much snow there was still on the ground. Then the weather moderated while they were gone and the snow dissipated. By the time I picked them up at the airport last night, we were down to pretty much just brown.

We got up this morning to about an inch of slushy snow, which quickly disappeared from any pavement, but stuck around on the grass. Dad contemplated leaving to drive home, but I convinced him otherwise. You see, it's a 5- or 6-hour drive to my home town, and between here and there there has been freezing rain. Closed roads. Power lines down. No travel advised. The works.

And parts of that are moving this way. We're supposed to have 6 to 10 inches of heavy wet snow by tomorrow night. So they're hanging out with us - probably until Friday mid-morning, when this all wraps up and the road have a chance to clear. (After all, April sun is pretty warm - even after a snowstorm.)

Here's the thing, though. Since I was working all weekend, and a little busy in between, I didn't get a chance to look at Sunday's newspaper until tonight. The weather forecast - just 3 days ago - was for us to be in the upper 40s with rain yesterday through tomorrow. Yes, tonight, we're looking at highs in the low 30s, with snow.

It's amazing how a large lapse in knowledge can be revealed after such a short elapsed time.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lost Weekend

I just apologized to Christopher for basically missing our entire weekend. Aside from an outing on Saturday night, and about half an hour together for dinner this evening, we've been in the house but in different rooms for the waking portions of the past 48 hours.

With that in mind, now that I don't have to keep working on the project I was working on, I hope you'll forgive me for not writing a long post, tonight.

And... oh... look... it's almost Monday already. Whee.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Clubbing Books (wait... that's not right...)

In the midst of a 90-plus-minute phonecall with a friend of mine from Baltimore (well... actually from before my time in Baltimore, but that's where he now lives), as we were talking about travel and jobs and families and all sorts of the random things you talk about on 90-minute phonecalls, we somehow started talking about books.

It's weird, you know. I work with books. Eight hours a day, five days a week, I'm pretty much immersed in books. But when I talk about them, I'm mainly talking about the mechanics of them. Things like "Do you prefer end-of-line hyphenation, or do you want those taken out?" or "Maybe you should rename your characters so they're not too cliche..." or "This sentence makes no sense, could you reword it?"

I don't really get to talk about the books as a whole - just the pieces of them. It's basically a "forest for the trees" kind of situation.

So tonight, when we stumbled into a book conversation, it was really nice. He talked about books his book club has been reading. And about books his students have been reading (he's a secondary school librarian). Then I told him about the books we've been reading in my book club, and what I've been working on at work.

I found myself actually taking notes of which books to put on my reading list, which I really can't imagine doing on the phone with more than a few people in my life. In part because I already have a massive stack of books next to my bed, so picking up new books is a dangerous thing to do. Of course, before I can read any of those, I need to finish the proofread that I brought home with me this weekend.

Life would be so much easier if I were independently wealthy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A "Golden" Evening

Christopher and I are not the most spontaneous of people. We admit that. We plan. We both plan. We share an online calendar to make sure our plans are planned.

And, unfortunately, this often leads us into ruts, because when we're not planned, we tend to just do rut things - like watching TV and/or going to bed early.

This week, however, we have made our plans work for us. In a strange confluence of things, we've ended up with three decidedly non-rut events all on the calendar this week. Last night we went to see Madeleine Peyroux perform at the Dakota Jazz Club, and splurged on having dinner there, too. It was pretty great. And although we had plans for tonight, as well, I think we were both thinking last night might be hard to beat.

But then we went out to tonight's event. It was a "pre-release" screening of "Golden" for the cast and crew who worked on it. You may remember that we had a short film filmed in our house last fall. (If you don't remember, here are the posts that related to it: Before, During, and After.) And we had an amazing time hanging out with the people who were involved - even though we really had nothing to do with it except saying "yes, go ahead and use our house."

Well, the 9-minute film is now about to start making the film festival circuit (starting with the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival this month, and hopefully going all sorts of places in the very near future), and so the director opted to have a private screening of it for everyone involved.

We got there a little before 7, and it was like the start of a really great reunion. We got to see all of the great people we'd met last November, and then - after an hour or so - got to see the film. And then we schmoozed some more, followed by going out for one last drink. As we were driving home, we both admitted that getting home after 11:30 on a Wednesday night was *not* part of our original plan.

But, sometimes, even the best laid plans need to be laid aside.
"Golden," as part of the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival, will be showing in a block of short films on Wednesday 4/17 at 7pm. You can find out more info on the film, the block of shorts it will be included in, and how to buy tickets, here on the Film Festival's website.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Talking the Talk, part two

(Following up on what I said a couple of days ago, here.)

If you're on Facebook and were paying any attention last week, you most likely saw a lot of variations on a red and pink equals sign in support of marriage equality. It was based on the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC's) logo, and it was pushed out while the two landmark marriage rights cases were being heard by the US Supreme Court.

It was kind of amazing to see the visual manifestation of the outpouring of support by people from all over. And, as the idea spread, it was great fun to watch the variations. From the equals sign being replaced by bacon, to the square panels being used as the tiles in mosaics, the campaign became as individualized as are the reasons people support the cause.

Believe it or not, according to ABC News and Facebook, something like 2.7 million more FB users changed their profile pictures last Tuesday (after the HRC suggested using the red equals sign) than on the prior Tuesday. And although FB didn't tally how many were actually the logos, you kind of have to assume that a lot of them were.

Here's the thing, though: I watched all of those spring up on my FB Newsfeed, and it was amazing. People were saying that it was becoming hard to know which of your friends you were talking to, because everyone looked the same - and how cool was that?

But then people started to kind of get badgered into changing their profile pictures. I, personally, put up a photo of Christopher and me - because that seemed to be more about my own case for marriage equality than any red logo could be. And, happily, the reactions I got to that photo offered me just as much meaningful support as all the rest of those red logos put together.

Of course, over the past few days, FB has started shifting back to "normal" - where people's personal photos are taking back the Newfeed. (Mine went back to something Easter-y for the weekend.)

And although the visual outpouring of support was nice, I'm okay that it's fading. Or at least that the pressure to be one of the cool kids by showing the logo off is fading. There are still plenty of people with those logos on their pages, and it's still cool to see them when I log in. But I don't *have* to see them.

You see, as much I love seeing those images, I would rather have people speaking out every day in favor of equal rights for all - and contacting their legislators, and, most importantly, talking to their kids, and talking to each other - than to have them pressuring other people to post a picture for 2 days.

After all, if equality is only something we support 2 days a year, we're not going to get anywhere. When it's part of our everyday lives - when it fits in right alongside pictures of our dogs and cats and kids and vacations - that's when real change is going to happen.