Thursday, January 29, 2015

Inexplicably Tired

I hate the times when, for no apparent reason, you just get tired.

You'll have an entire open afternoon ahead of you so you'll sit down with a book and - boom - you're too tired to read, even though you really want to.

Or you'll finally have a quiet evening and decide to sit down and watch TV when - whoomp - like a pillow up-side the head, you're walloped with a case of the yawns.

Christopher and I were out for dinner tonight with some friends. It was a very nice dinner, with good conversation and good food, and on the way home I figured it had to be at least 9 or 9:30. It was just barely 8:30. And I was yawning so hard that I couldn't stop.

I mentioned it to Christopher and he asked whether or not I've been sleeping well. I think I have, but I must admit that I have woken up thinking "Did I sleep wrong last night?" a couple of times, lately.

But that doesn't explain the amount of tired that hit me tonight.

I think I'm going to blame the change in the weather. We've had really oddly warm temps for the past week or so, and when we were leaving dinner tonight it was decidedly not warm. (Warmer than average, yes. As warm as any evening in the past week, no.) I figure the need for sleep is my body's way of saying it's time to get back into hibernation mode.

And who am I to fight nature when giving in means a nice warm bed and the potential for a good night's sleep?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

And the Bing Goes On

There are times when you realize that what you want in life is simply destined to be elusive. 

I have gradually come to the realization that the Twin Bing candy bar is one of those things in my life. 

There are "vintage" candy stores in the Twin Cities which carry all sorts of random candy bars, but apparently none of them carry the Twin Bing. 

Yes, I could order them online, but that seems like cheating.

Yes, they carry it at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, but that's only open during summer and fall. 

So I just keep looking for them when I find new candy stores. And I keep being disappointed - not surprised, mind you, just disappointed. 

And, thus, the search for the elusive Bing goes on. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Obviously, Dragons are Real

I was flipping through the listings to try to find something to watch this evening, and found a movie with a description including both "scientists" and "dragons."

I was going to just keep scrolling, but then I realized what might be the best thing I've seen in a while: It was listed as "Docudrama, Fantasy."

Wait. What?

Okay. I get the "Fantasy" part of a movie about dragons.

I get the "Drama" part of a movie about dragons OR a movie about scientists.

I even get the "Docu-" part of a movie about scientists.

But isn't a "Docudrama" supposed to be part drama and part, ya know, documentary?

Assuming, obviously, that the descriptions are accurate, that means that somewhere along the line a scientific documentary about dragons should exist.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Why I Book Club

Some time in 2013, a friend of mine was getting a bunch of people together to start a book club. Not an overly academic book club, but a book club full of people from different backgrounds, where the books would be democratically chosen and decent food and even the occasional alcoholic beverage would be thrown in. 

At the time, I had not been in my position as a full-time editor for very long, but I was already experiencing one of the main problems I have with my job: I read books all day at work, and so it's really hard to get excited about them when I'm at home. 

When I was asked if I wanted to join the book club, I had two competing thoughts: 
  1. Why in the hell would I want to do that?
  2. That would be a perfect way to force myself to read more books and - hopefully - it would even remind me why I have always liked to read. 
When the food and beverage idea was added in, I decided that that kind of answered point number 1, and so I went ahead and said yes. 

Since that time, I've read a ton of books I never would have read (or at least a dozen or two - we only meet every 4 to 6 weeks, after all). Some have been really good. Some have not been things I'd recommend. One... well... one I actually skipped about a third of, just so I could get to the end before book club - and, you know, I didn't seem to miss anything. And then there's the one that I really like, but have only made it through a third of, even though it was for book club a few months ago (I really enjoyed the conversation about it, even so). 

But I don't think I've actually missed a meeting. I've found that the meetings - which do start out being about the books, though they often digress into other topics for about half the time - are why I read the books, and not the other way around. I'm not in book club so that I can read the books and talk about them at meetings. I'm in the club so that I can go to meetings and talk about books. 

And, yes, our club has gradually gotten smaller. When we started, there were a consistent 6-10 attendees. Now our average is 4 or 5. But we all still read the books. And we all still talk about them. And we all bring food and sit and talk about our lives. It's kind of like a literary therapy group, with books as a fringe benefit. 

So although I might never get excited about "Love in the Time of Cholera," and while the consensus was that "Gulp" might have felt like it was missing it's through-line, and while I loved "The Night Circus" (which my mother recommended), I've come to realize that the reason I book club is much more about the club, and much less about the books.

And I'm fine with that. 

**Oh, and if you want more info about the book club I'm in, let me know. We're not overly academic, but we have good conversation and - usually - good food.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We Be Jammin'

Nope. Not a reference to reggae music.

Not even a reference to putting up preserves in the summer.

I apparently tried to jam my thumb today while running errands. You see, I picked up a new bag of dog food, and had to set it on the counter. The problem was that although it was actually only about 30 pounds (so, really, not all that heavy), it was vacuum packed, so the bag is kind of hard as a rock.

As I set it on the counter, I realized that the UPC was on the bottom, so I did the good customer thing and flipped it over. And, in so doing, whacked my thumb into it.

I should say that I have kind of weird thumbs to begin with. They're not truly double-joined, but they can bend backward at the knuckle to about 90 degrees. (When I was younger and in the habit of trying to freak people out, I could get them to bend to at least 135 degrees, or enough to look like a V, if not a U...)

So, the weird thumb is kind of prone to flipping back, anyway, and then it meets the resistance of the rather hard bag o' food and... yowch.

At least it happened at the end of the day. I only had one other errand to run, then I came home and took three Ibuprofen. Which, along with a pseudofed for my sinuses, has taken the edge off.

No bruising or swelling, at least, but it might make it hard to hitchhike for the next couple of weeks...

Monday, January 19, 2015

A New Perspective

Christopher and I have been talking about rearranging the living room for a while. There's just something about the way it has been set up that makes it hard to have group conversations, and so we've talked about what it might be like if we flip it around a bit.

But the only way to know whether it's going to work is to actually do it. And undertaking an afternoon of moving furniture and electronics can be a bit daunting. So we've left it as-is.

Or at least we had left it as it was.

Then Christopher went away to New York City last weekend, leaving me at home with the dog and a vague idea of how the room might look if it got changed around. Of course, doing a full move of heavy furniture . . . well, that's not something you really do on your own.

Unless you're kind of bored, and the nice weather has you feeling like you should do something with the day, and you decide that you can just move it all back if it doesn't work.

I spent a couple of hours moving things, yesterday. By the time I was done, the TV was hooked back up to cable, the lamps were plugged back in, and the pooch was trying out a series of new angles of viewing the room.

Christopher was, well, "surprised" is probably a bit of an understatement. But we spent tonight sitting on the newly oriented couch and trying it out. I think it works . . . mostly. The new arrangement definitely needs a few tweaks, but I think we might get used to it.

And, of course, if we don't it can all go back where it was. Although, if I have to put everything back, I'm going to take the Ibuprofen before I start, just to get a jump on the after effects.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January Thaw

In Minneapolis, we are currently experiencing a bliss-inducing January thaw. Yesterday and today it has been above 32 degrees, and it looks like it might continue for the next few days before going back down to the normal highs in the low 20s.

Granted, you don't get freezer burn on your fingers when it's in the 20s above zero. You get them when it's 20 below zero. So what we were dealing with a week or so ago was not normal. Or, rather, it was kind of normal, but not average. or something.

Of course, with the warmer weather system we're getting clouds - not sun. And my sinuses are acting up because of the change in the weather. And you can't help but track sludge every time you go inside anywhere.

But it's a thaw. I got to wear my third-warmest jacket when I ran errands this morning. I've taken the dog out for walks without putting her coat on. Our sidewalks are mostly clear, again.

Yeah... Weather in Minnesota is weird.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Did It

It took me a certain amount of thought - much of which went into figuring out what to write in my email - but I finally broke up with the freelance client I talked about a little bit ago.

It went pretty well, though I have already agreed to do one more piece for them.

I have given them a very firm end date, though, with the caution that anything after that would have to be scheduled in advance, and not simply at their whim.

It's a weird feeling. Good, but weird.

We'll see how my bank account and I feel about it in a few months...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thinking of Paris

Alright... I started writing this about four days ago. We'll see where it ends up.

With the news of the shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo this week, I've been thinking a lot about Paris. Not just because of the shooting, but because - as many of you know - I spent a year living and teaching in Paris 25 years ago.

I've been thinking about the people who lost their lives, and what they went through, and while I've been watching the news stories I've been trying to figure out where the shooting took place. I'm not sure why that matters to me, but somewhere in my mind it's important, and so I keep searching for that information.

I think the location matters to me, in part, because the site of some of the big demonstrations the past two nights have been in the Place de la Republique - which was where I caught the Metro pretty much every day that I lived there. And I want to feel like the places that I know from Paris are safe. It's irrational, but I think we all have those irrational rationalizations that keep us sane at night.

I've also been thinking about Paris and the attack a lot because, when I lived there, the apartment I shared was on the ground floor of a building and we could often hear people walking along a hallway next to our apartment, but outside there wasn't really any marking for what that hallway might have led to. There was just a small plaque with some initials on it and a buzzer. Eventually - about 2/3 of the way through my stay - we found out that behind the roll-up metal door was another door. And, behind that door (and down the hallway beside our apartment) was a Jewish Youth Center. It was "camouflaged" because there was such a strong anti-Semitic fervor in France at the time that they were worried about bombings. (Not gonna lie - I'm really glad I learned that late in the year, and not just before I moved in...)

And, yes, I'm also thinking about it because in about 3 months Christopher and I will be meeting up with friends in Paris. And although nothing will stop us from going, I'm trying to keep an eye on everything to make sure that we know what we'll be walking into.
So, I wrote all of that, and was having some trouble figuring out where it was going. That's one of the things about tragedy - you never know what's going to happen, next, or when that next shoe will drop. And that's scary. Frustrating. Sad. 

But then the news reports started to come in about the acts of heroism during the shooting and the aftermath. The Muslim employee of a Kosher market who hid people in the freezer to protect them. The Muslim police office whose family is speaking out about his tragic death at the hands of one of the terrorists. The acts of bravery start to make the rest a little less scary. Not a lot, but a little.

And then... then we see the reports of the demonstrations. And the million or more people who staged a "unity demonstration" in Paris, simply to say that they wouldn't be beaten by the acts of a few extremists.

One of the drawings that has circulated a lot in the past few days has been of a pencil being broken, then the broken piece being sharpened and - in the end - becoming two pencils. The strength that can come from adversity. The power in coming together. That part of the human existence that says that when we come together for peace, we can move mountains. That's what I was looking for.

Paris has always been a city of my dreams. A city of wonder and amazement, even when I was living there and had come to see the dirty sidewalks and the street beggars. Seeing the city work so hard to recover from such tragedy makes me believe in the magic of the Parisian power to fascinate and overcome all over again.

Paris, je t'aime.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

One Good Thing

Okay. This still isn't the post I started to write on Thursday. I guess the news from the past week has just really gotten to me, and I don't really know how to deal with it, yet. But I want to. Which is why I started the post on Thursday in the first place. I just haven't figured out how to end it yet...

In the meantime, though, I came across this little bit of news that made me rather happy: 

Apparently, for the first time ever, Tiffany & Co. (yes the Tiffany & Co. - the one with the little blue boxes; the one Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly had breakfast at) has chosen to use a same-sex couple in one of their ad campaigns.

According to all of the news about the image, it is a real-life couple (not a pair of un-connected models) sitting on their own front steps outside their apartment. (The stories also imply that it's their own clothing and their own stying, but I'm not buying the idea that they didn't have a stylist - after all, this is a major ad campaign.)

The tagline on the right says:
"Will you promise to never stop completing my
sentences or singing off-key, which I'm afraid you
 do often? And will you let today be the first
 sentence of one long story that never, ever ends?
 Will you?"

Most likely there will come a time - hopefully relatively soon - when wedding ads feature same-sex couples don't make the news. But, until that time, I'm more than happy to applaud the companies that are standing out in front of the crowd, unafraid to show their support for everyone's right to their own Tiffany-blue daydreaming.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It Burns! It Burns!

(For the record, I have another blog post almost entirely written, but I'm not entirely sure how it's going to end, so I'm giving you this one, instead... I hope they both end up being worth it.)

You know how little kids get told not to put their tongues against things that are frozen metal (like a flag pole)? That's in large part because the hot, moist tongue will quick freeze to the metal. And, even once the two are separated, the tongue will have suffered burns.

It always sounds odd to talk about burns when you're talking about cold, but it's because cold will do the same the thing to the skin cells that fire will.

Why is this important right now? Because it is freakin' cold this week in Minneapolis. Every time we walk out into the porch to let the pooch in or out, we have to touch the metal door handle. So far, that's been okay. Although I've had a couple of moments - on the way back in from her walks when I'm carrying... stuff - when I've accidentally touched the handle and thought it was pretty bad.

But quick touches aren't bad - much like when you accidentally touch a pan as your potholder moves, but you don't really burn yourself.

Yesterday, though, I had to put some air into my tires. I had on some fingerless gloves, because I needed enough dexterity to do the fine-motor actions. So I removed all of the valve stem covers and loaded the quarters into the machine and was on my way. I grabbed the air hose, and moved over to the car. Then I positioned the nozzle and squeezed the trigger. While wearing my fingerless gloves. The two metal pieces of the air hose are the two I was holding in place. With my fingers.

I spent much of yesterday morning at work with fingers in my mouth, trying to even out the temperatures (an interesting feat for an editor, I'll admit). By today, I was pleased to find that only my right index finger and my left ring finger had slight blisters - on the inside of the middle knuckle in each case.

No pain (except when I do things like wash my hands in warm water), and no loss of feeling, so I think I'll be in the clear.

And, until the windchills (and - hopefully - the actual air temperatures) moderate back above freezing, if I'm wearing fingerless gloves, you can be pretty certain that they'll be the ones that convert from mittens, and the mitten part will be in place 99% of the time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Sticking with the vintage song theme of the week, I thought I'd deal with something that I've been having trouble with for about two months, now.

When I was unemployed - before I started at my current job - I decided to try my hand at editorial freelancing. I got a few jobs doing copywriting and editing and proofreading, but mostly they were one-off projects. Nothing too big, but enough to buy groceries from time to time.

After I started working full time, again, I stopped searching out clients, and dropped down to just two. Over the past five years, one of those has continued to be a great gig. They're fun to work with, they ask for - and listen to - my opinions, and since I'm not a member of their in-house staff, they understand that my schedule is sometimes wonky and actually check with me before simply saying "WE NEED THIS NOW!" One catch: They really only send me one or two things per month, so I only take in about $20. Not exactly grocery money.

The other remaining client... Well... You know all those things I just said were great about the first one? They basically do none of those things. When I started with them, we were working together, and I felt like an off-site member of the team. But, over time, I've definitely come to feel like a member of "the help" and not a member of "the team." The catch, as you might guess, is that this group actually nets me about $75 per month, on average - which is enough for some groceries.

I can deal with a certain amount of frustration when I'm being paid, but sometimes I question whether it's worth it. And, as of last fall, it started to become not worth it. But I've kept doing work for them. Why? Because breaking up is hard to do.

For one thing, I'm constantly waiting for the next paycheck for the last work I've done. And you don't really want to tick someone off when they haven't paid you, yet. For another thing, it is a paycheck.

But I've decided that, this being a new year and all, I'm going to break it off this month. Honestly, I had planned to break it off when I sent last month's invoice, but since it was the Holidays I kind of chickened out.

But I swear I'm going to do it . . . soon.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Anticipation... Not Always Worth It

Who else remembers the old ketchup commercials that used the Carly Simon song "Anticipation" as their "slogan"?

We're supposed to be made to believe that waiting makes things better - and (more specifically) that the ketchup was worth the wait.

Well, as much as I would love to say that waiting does make all things better, I have to admit that a number of things simply end up with the pent-up expectations not matching up with the reality.

Sadly, in these days of TiVo, we seem to be running into that more than you'd think.

You see, Christopher and I try to keep up on our shows as we go, but when we get a new show it sometimes takes us a few weeks to get started (this is, in part, by choice, since it gives us the chance to do small binges of shows, instead of having to watch one at a time).

Usually, this is a good thing. It's how we introduced ourselves to "American Horror Story" last season, and that turned out really well.

Tonight, however, we finally started watching the TV series version of "The Transporter." We had multiple episodes all stored up, and we started to watch it, tonight.

In theory, it's just like the movie - hot guy, hot car, danger around every turn when he just wants to have a nice day. But it just doesn't seem to work, you know? The stunts are still cool, the cars are exciting, and the hot guy does take off his shirt pretty often, but somewhere it just misses its mark for us.

We watched the first episode, and decided to try another, just to see. And, well, I've been checking Facebook and doing some web searches all through the second episode.

Among other things, the show was obviously made outside of the States, so there's nudity (constantly blurred) and swearing (constantly "muted" - giving us gaps in the middle of sentences), and it just ends up falling a bit flat.

Is it something that I'd be happy to continue to watch in the background? Sure. But is it going to be "appointment television"? Sadly, no. In fact, it's also no longer going to be stacking up on our TiVo.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The One-day Work-week

The past few weeks of work have been very strange for me.

I started December with two normal weeks of M-F work. Then I was off for a week of vacation.

So far, that's not so bad, because it just meant a week off, then going back in on Monday.

But that Monday was the 22nd of December. So I worked on Monday and Tuesday, then our offices were closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And, on top of that, I drove to South Dakota for time with my family on the 26th, came back to Minneapolis on the 29th, and went back to work on the 30th.

Then we had a half-day on the 31st, were off on the 1st, and - in essence - worked a one-day work-week today before starting a new weekend.

I fully understand that, of all of the problems in the world, this does not really rank anywhere near the top. Heck, in most lists, this wouldn't even be considered a problem, let alone a ranking one.

But when you're trying to get things done - like working on projects that last more than a couple of hours (possibly edits of 300-page books) - it can really muck up your process.

(It might even make you start daydreaming about other places to be, and other things to do, just so you can get through the day... Paris, perhaps; or dinner out with friends; or, if life is really good, a daydream about dinner out with friends in Paris...)

(Not that I would ever really daydream about such things at work. After all, in this day and age, it's much easier to just google it all...)