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December 31, 2005

A new year.

I know that eventually my story will be more than just I Am Divorced, even though that's how it feels right now.

Eventually, I will find my other defining characteristics. I will always be divorced, but in time it will not own me, it will not describe me, it will not color my days and nights.

This past year was something to be weathered, endured, something to breathe through sleep through wake through. Next year I might be in love or on vacation or living in a different house or a far-away city with new faces.

When love ends it changes you. Who knows what the changed you will look like or sound like in twelve months time? Who knows what circumstance and happenstance may forever alter?

Just like getting married.

He was just a guy I met one day.

Posted by laurie at 3:23 PM

December 30, 2005

Funny face, I love you.

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Faith and Jen both shared in my excitement and happiness last night. After all, it's the very dying days of December and so ends what has been The Worst Year. Next year I won't have to testify against a criminal when he steals my car, or get served with divorce papers, or go to court to dissolve my lifelong dream, or watch as my childhood memories sink under a hurricane, or wonder how on earth I will manage to breathe in and out all day long. Because let me tell you. You get up each day and take what comes and sometimes you get lucky and you get to see some happy smiles, some good yarn, a goofy cat and a funny hat. All in a 24-hour period.

Life is unpredictable that way.

Last night I went to Stitch 'n Bitch and it was a small group and I forgot to brandish the camera until the very end, what with the wine drinking and carrying on.

Natalie was trying this inneresting experiment with some Rowan Biggy wool, where you knit the whole skein in garter stitch then you bind off by dropping a stitch, then bind off a stitch. It makes this big crazy loopy scarf that grows longer and... loopier. Here our Nat looks like she has fallen into a Rowan pond and possibly emerged with a case of Rowan Pox:

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Carla was there, too, making a gorgeous cabled creation from Scarf Style:
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Then our Kendra, who was in a car accident on Christmas Day, made it to Knit Night, and poor thing you want to hug hur but you can't!
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Now, today I found it very hard to get up and get dressed and drag myself into work. I would have much preferred to stay home and watch movies and drink coffee in my pajamas. I was maybe a little bit grumpy coming in to work, and it was COLD this morning, and I have on the Awful Thong Underwear Of Despair, and then I got on to the bus and saw this:

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One of the nice ladies on the bus was sitting there, regular as you please, reading the morning paper and wearing a funny hat. She made me laugh out loud, and changed my whole day. I love this city, with its unexplained traffic and great tacos and crazy people. I was immediately out of my grumpy mood, proving once and for all that in this life we should all wear more funny hats.

Finally, I'll let you caption the Bob. If there is a more perfect example of cheerful doofusery I would like to see it, I tell you what that cat is just a few cards short of a full deck but is the cutest damn guy I know:

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Caption Me, baby.


Ya'll have a good day. The Worst Year is almost over. Tick-tock! Breathe deep, enjoy your Friday and wear a funny hat if you find one.

Posted by laurie at 9:40 AM

December 28, 2005

Lists are the elixir of life.

When I die? My tombstone will be in list format. Preferably in Arial bold, or maybe Tahoma if we're feeling jaunty, with bullet points.

I am a list maker. Grocery lists, to-do lists, budget lists, change-my-life lists. Each year brings Birthday Resolutions and New Year's To-Dos and To-Don'ts. I list my life away, often on post-it notes. (And that is a whole nother column, because Good Lord do I have a post-it note problem!)

I make lists when I am stressed out, tired, lonely, bored, busy, frantic, drinking coffee, watching TV. My lists are: things I must remember, projects around the house to complete, things to buy if I won the lottery, people to call, places I want to visit, concepts and principles to incorporate into my daily life, quotes, book titles, things about myself I want to change, things about my life that are good, reasons it's good to be single, groceries, stuff to get at Target. Etcetera. Sometimes I make lists of things I have already completed just so I can draw a thick line through them and feel very accomplished.

I hope you make lists, too, because I truly believe there is nothing a list can't cure. Just the very act of making the list makes you feel better. Like you are ON TOP of this thing! You have it under control! You have... A LIST!


My 2006 List of TO-DOs and TO-DON'Ts


Money Things:

• Bring lunch to work a lot

• No more late fees at the library. I mean, really. That is just sad.

• Cut trips to grocery store down to 1-2 per week instead of the nightly "Nothing at home sounds good maybe a trip to the frozen foods aisle will help..."

• Deposit money into savings account each paycheck.

• Stop buying stuff that I don't need.

• Stick to The Budget.

• When faced with the opportunity to spend embarrassing $$ on shoes OR put towards monster consumer debt, choose to enjoy current selection of shoes.



The Size Of My Ass:

• Walk on the treadmill every day. Must get money's worth from large, expensive machine in living room.

• Eat healthy stuff

• Stop trying to rationalize french fries.

• Eat vegetables other than french fries.

• Eat vegetables.

• Drink less alcohol.

• Drink more water.


Personal Good Stuff & Leaving The House:

• Every day, choose happy over sad, free over constrained, liberated over abandoned, and laugh a lot. Wake up the next day and repeat.

• Take private salsa lessons.

• Go out salsa dancing at least once this summer with all the girls.

• Forget about fear.

• Go to the Laemmle on Sundays now and then to see indie movies.

• Plant a garden.

• Volunteer at least once for the joy of it.

• During the calendar year, go on one date even though I am terrified of dating and would prefer to stay home and play Grand Theft Auto or knit. Just one proper date, with a guy who is not married or a stalker or mean, where he takes me out to dinner and I wear a pretty dress. Or maybe just lunch. Actually, coffee might be better. Oh God do not want to go on scary date.

• Go on a trip. (Paris, baby!)

• Visit my parents.

• Visit my grandma.

• Stop procrastinating. Just stop it already.

• Make an effort to wear makeup to work and fuss with hair and so on like normal girlygirl instead of appearing at desk like death on cracker each day.

• Whenever tempted to say, "Oh, Mr. X and I went there..." or "I did that with Mr. X..." close mouth. Do not speak. Think of cute puppies.

• Moisturize.

• Floss.

• Play mini-golf

• Host a dinner party in which I actually cook dinner without dropping it or burning it or ordering pizza.

• Do something fun on my birthday. Even if my birthday hates me.

• Spend Christmas anywhere but alone in house with cats feeling maudlin. Possibly on a beach somewhere reading paperbacks while a cabana boy in red bikini pants brings drinks with umbrellas in them.


Practical:

• Sign up for the 401(k) plan

• Understand that love of Jeep is irrational and ergo, true love

• Get new tires on Jeep

• Tune up for Jeep

• Change furnace filter at home every six weeks.

• Show up for work 1/2 an hour earlier.

• Don't take glitches at work personally.

• Schedule vacation time.

• Work hard. Make deadlines a day early.

• Sell the pink imac on eBay.

• Ditto the 8-track players and 8-track tapes.

• Look at all the options.

• Have a positive attitude. Especially at work and with all co-workers. Suit up, show up and act as if....

• Finish the ____ (private)

• Send thank-you notes

Knitting:

• Finish my mom's fuzzyfeet.

• Make the fingerless gloves I wanted so that my hands will stay warm during the chilly summer Air Conditioner months at White Guys In Ties, Inc.

• Hoard all the Up Country left in the universe (optional) (see Money, above)

• Make Kitty Pis for Jen, Drew, Shan & Karman and their felines.

Finally... The Not-To-Do List:

• Don't say "yes" to things just because someone springs them on me at the last minute. Instead, say "Let me think about it and get back to you."

• Time is sparse, life if short. Don't waste it on useless things, people, memories, obligations.

• Don't worry about stuff I can't change anyway.

• Don't expect other people to live by my values.

• Don't compromise my values for anyone.

• Don't choose the known over the unknown just because it's comfortable.

• Don't waste time on stupid stuff or mean stuff. Frequently ask myself "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"

• Don't minimize success.

• Don't be tempted to Live Locked Inside when it's possible to Live Out Loud. And it is possible!

This list is subject to change and modification of course. There's more philosophical navel-pondering and drunken observations about 2005 and precarious hopes for 2006 to come later in the week. And of course some truly frightening pictures of my hair and some January Hor-O-Scopes. I do hope you'll make a list, not so much Resolutions as goals and hopes and your own To-Do and To-Don't pile for the coming year. May your list be bulleted and bold! Or numbered and small. It does not matter. To list is to live. To list online is to live out loud!

May you ... list long and prosper.

Posted by laurie at 11:22 AM

December 26, 2005

Too sexy for these photos.

It may come as no surprise that with the holidays and so on, I was just a teeny little bit depressed. And to torture myself I spent last night, Christmas, looking at old pictures and listening to Johhny Hartman records and drinking and drowning in nostalgia ... because this is what we do when we want to GO INSANE. And so there I was, last night, half-a-bottle of BET YOU CANNOT GUESS WHAT, sitting on the floor of the guest room with picture albums and old photos spread out all around me.

I was going down. Waaaay down.

But my plans went awry when I stumbled on some real gems from my childhood. Before long I was kind of laughing. And also sort of in pain. My eyes were hurting. But also I was feeling very good about myself all the sudden. Feeling STRONG. And also BRAVE.

Because ... I OVERCAME THE 1980S, people.

I will tell ya'll a little secret. I have NO FASION SENSE. Oh sure, I have personal style, and sometimes I even have eclectic flair, but I am not currently nor do I ever anticipate being FASHIONABLE.

This is not my fault.

I blame it entirely on the 80s.

My tastes sprung fully-formed from the pages of Sassy magazine, and I thought Molly Ringwald was THE COOLEST GIRL EVER TO WALK THE PLANET. I was obsessed with Madonna -- not the oh-so-chic Papa Don't Preach years, but the tacky Borderline years. I developed my sense of style during shoulder pads, Frankie Says Relax T-shirts, neon belts, socks over jeans, Camp Beverly Hills shirts and Guess jeans with super skinny zippered ankles.

My first allowance money went toward a neon green belt at Rave and a matching pair of neon green socks. My first pair of Nikes were BRIGHT PURPLE. I was a sight to behold. And in my mind, I was so hot. I was practically Six from Blossom. (If you are too young to remember Blossom I want you to just go sit in your corner and be all perky and shit. Your time will come, little one. YOUR TIME WILL COME.)

Now, I lived way out on the bayou and I went to a country school with a bunch of other country kids, and back then you couldn't get cable TV that far out in the boonies. But Suzanne Venable's daddy had a satellite dish the size of the SETI research facility, and we would pile over to her house every day after school and turn on the MTV and carefully memorize what everyone wore. We'd talk about that girl in the John Waite video, "Change" (from the movie "Vision Quest") and wonder why on earth she would leave him? And we thought whoever the girl was that broke George Michael's heart in Careless Whisper was surely an ungrateful wench. We studied the clothes, the hair, the makeup and we'd try to replicate it like only 13-year-old girls out on the bayou can do. We were AMAZING in our creativity.

Madonna said the word "virgin" out loud and suddenly I was begging to get dark roots and a bad perm. All of us would tape record Friday Night Videos (on broadcast TV) and talk about which Duranny was the hottest. (Nick or John? Andy or Simon?) Things got heated at times. I once refused to let my friend Lori borow my glitter blue eyeshadow stick until she admitted Nick was hotter than Andy. I mean, COME ON PEOPLE.

I have learned from my fashion misfortunes and these days I wear all black, allegedly because I am an artist and all eccentric and shit. Truth is, black always matches, it's better at hiding spills, and I am too tired in the mornings to color coordinate.

Not that I cannot color coordinate! I can color coordinate! I can match!

I give you PROOF OF MY MAD COORDINATING SKILLZ:

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I dare you to top me in my 80s insanity. Because truly we must have all been buckwild crazy to have spent our hard-earned babysitting money on these outfits. Once I got to high school it just intensified. I had a glam job at the Burger King and spent all my money on clothes. I remember how proud I was of this outfit in particular:

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Because t-shirts NEED shoulder pads. They do.

In junior high and through 9th grade I was in a crazy country girl punk rock phase, then all at once punk rock was out and student council was in. As was apparently blue eye shadow and... well, everything blue:

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No matter how hard I tried, my hair never reached the great heights of my friends' hair. I was cursed with naturally stick-straight hair and it took me hours, HOURS people, of hot rolling and curling-ironing and about thirty-seven hair products to get something this big:

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Try as I might, though, I would never eclipse the hair of one Candace Daniels, who grew six inches taller just with hair and hot rollers:


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This kind of makes me look forward to New Year's Eve. Who knows what kind of trouble I can get into with a glass or three of champagne and perhaps we'll have even more fun, when I bring you: MY HAIR, THE 1980S AND BEYOND. Because if ya'll think my fashion is red-hot ... WAIT TIL YOU SEE THE DAMN HAIR.

Posted by laurie at 12:14 PM

December 25, 2005

Christmas.

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Kristy sent me these beautiful little knitting-themed Christmas ornaments. She made them! And the best part ... she included a card detailing the kind of yarn used on each ornament.

My mom asked me if I was taking time off work, or just from writing in my online diary. "Just from writing," I said. "It's hard to write funny when I feel so bad."

It's night, and cold again, and dark and I have avoided writing this stuff down. But what is the point of having an online diary if you edit out the hard parts?

Holidays amplify emptiness. It's like that on Valentine's Day, when you suspect that everyone is getting lucky except you. Or Thanksgiving, other people packed around the table laughing eating drinking.

But I can feel this way even on a rainy night driving home from work and it's dark and the rain has kept everyone inside, behind closed windows and locked doors, and you wonder if all the curtains are drawn because behind them there is a hand on the soft place above the hip, an arm outstretched, someone holding onto someone, something, and you're alone in the car. Everyone gets held except you.

That's what this Christmas feels like.

And I didn't take any time off work. In fact, I was the lone person in our department yesterday, everything was quiet, even downtown seemed lonely and hollow. A firetruck, sirens on 6th street but no crowd, no curious onlookers.

After work, I went to a party for Faith's birthday. It was held at her sister Shannon's house in the Valley, and I got to meet some of Faith's friends and it was nice. I was afraid that the inside of me would seep out from under the precariously cheerful exterior and taint the evening. I adore Faith, and I'm so glad I met her and that we became friends, because she's one decidely happy thing in a year that had a lot of sadness in it. She was the one person who showed up on my doorstep the night I got divorced, and she is a very good friend. I'm so lucky I met her.

At the party we ate and talked and when the night ended and people went home, I hugged a woman I had talked to only a few times, maybe I was just in need of a hug? Or maybe I'm now one of those crazy women who hugs strangers?

It is Christmas Eve now, and it's late, the cats are asleep, the world is asleep. The weekend stretches out before me, mine for the contemplating. This is my first Christmas as a Divorced Woman. A Divorcee. Uncoupled.

I always lacked the power of self-reflection. I looked into his eyes to see myself, to find recognition. Now there is nowhere to be reflected. What I miss most: having someone see you when you put on lipstick, brush your hair, make the bed, smile. Wake up Christmas morning and laugh.

Being a whole person (now half of nothing) will have to be enough. I have to be enough for myself, because in this life it's all you can depend on. That's not such a bad thing, really. Is it? I spent all those years focusing on my husband and my marriage and now I have unbroken hours to figure out who I am, this adult who I am alone with. She's not that bad. She writes this kind of crap stuff when she's drinking.

I spend a lot of time alone these days. My real-life friends are tired of hearing about my divorce, me being sad, or being lost or angry or whatever I am at that moment. I know they're sick of it and really, why can't I just move on already? My parents just want me to be happy, so it's hard telling them I'm sad, it just makes them feel awful, too, and of course it can't be easy if your kid is feeling bad and you can't do anything about it. So I spend a lot of time alone.

It's manageable. The holidays make it echo, but they're small days in a long life. This is what I tell myself. Drink enough and you belive it.

The best part about Christmas -- ideally -- is that you spend it with people who are special to you. I'm spending it alone, so this year I'll have to be something to myself, someone worthy of getting to know. It was easier focusing all my attention on my husband, (ex-husband) (feels so weird to say that). Finding the perfect stocking stuffers, wrapping and hiding his presents. We'd sleep late on Christmas morning, and then open presents and eat breakfast and go to the multiplex in Burbank and watch movies all day.

I wonder if he's also looking backward, thinking about the ghosts of married Christmases past? I doubt it. I suspect he's blocked it all out, left the past behind as easily as he left me. But it doesn't matter. I have those nice memories, and that's enough. It's not about him, it's about a part of my life that was really nice on Christmas Day. That kind of happy lasts forever.

And there are a lifetime of Christmas days ahead of me, and who knows what they'll look like? I might move. Or make new friends, choose very wisely who I let into my life, maybe I'll write a book or join the Peace Corps or wear stilletto heels or anything. I do believe that you can make your own life, create each day, shape a future that looks and feels and tastes like something happy and satisfying.

There's so much in my life that is good and worthy of celebrating and I can build a good beginning starting right here, inside my little house. Tonight I walked from room to room, which took about 3.5 seconds my house being rather small, and there was a cat here, and there, and twelve mismatched socks, and a pile of books and yarn, and those beautiful ornaments sent to me by a complete stranger, and I think, there's good out there. You just have to take chances, and choose wisely, and find your reflection somewhere else, in your own eyes, in a glass of wine? Take it anywhere you can get it. Happy lasts forever.

Posted by laurie at 12:09 AM

December 24, 2005

This makes married groceries look good.

Today it is 85 degrees in Los Angeles, and sunny and perfect and I don't tell you this to torture you, I tell you this because I think Nature feels bad for all the times it tried to kill me and is giving me a Christmas that feels more like a 4th of July barbecue so I'll feel less maudlin and drippy about the holidays. And it's working! I'm having a beer at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and I feel pretty damn pleased with myself.

I got this beer at the grocery store, which I braved earlier today along with every single resident of the greater Encino, California area and their entire extended families from out of town. It was packed. And every shopper was in a hurry, ramming their buggies right into you. I was their worst nightmare come true, the most torturous sort of shopper, lazy and flip-flops, sunglasses on my head, tank top (!) and pretending it's summer and not the least bit in a hurry. Besides, I went to the grocery store ... to buy baby food.

I do not have a baby.

I have a spoilt rotten cat with no teeth.

Roy is spoilt and it is Christmas, and he gets all the baby food he can eat. When I was medicating him twice a day I discovered that baby food is a little meat pudding perfectly suited for snaggletooth kittens. To offset the trauma known as Medicine Smackdown, I gave him a treat immediately after we wrassled in the bathroom, finely chopped cold cuts and a big plop of baby food. He loved it so much I couldn't stop giving it to him, even now when he's no longer taking antibiotics. Beef and gravy, ham, turkey, veal, lamb with gravy ... I never knew there were so many kinds of baby food! When me and my brothers were babies, my folks just mashed up whatever was for dinner and we had to like it whether we liked it or not.

We liked it.

Ya'll know how grocery shopping is so daunting because of all the married groceries, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. I like shopping at the Q Market or El Cubano, because it's like traveling to a whole new country without ever leaving the Valley. But they don't have the special baby food that Roy likes, so I have to suck it up and shuffle off to Ralph's like a normal human.

If I'm going to be at the Big Grocery store anyway, I figure I may as well stock up. Wine... look, a fantabulous petite syrah on sale for $7.99! A six-pack of Newcastle for $6.99? You can't afford NOT to buy it! Lean Cuisine 4 for $9? I'm so there! And looky here a teeny four-pack of individual-sized champagnes for just $8.99. I know this will give me great headaches but I do not care! Tiny champagne bottles! With your tiny corks! You come home with mama!

In conclusion:


8 Lean Cuisine pizzas
3 bottles wine
1 six-pack beer
1 four-pack of cheap champagne
18 teeny jars of baby food, all meat


The look on the checkout girl's face was nothing short of pure hatred. She HATED me. HATE! Such a pure emotion! She scanned each jar of baby food individually and glared at me the whole time. I offered up a weak smile. I wanted to tell her that the baby food was for my spoilt cat, that I am not a terrible woman mistreating a child, but by doing so I would have acknowledged that she was A Judger and I am not so sure yet how this Living Out Loud thing works on grocery store clerks. Besides ... it was funny. She was glaring at me like I was a drunken sot of a no-cooking, sorry-ass white trash babysmama. Me! a babysmama!

I could not correct her. I loved her for being mad at me for mistreating my imaginary baby. It was sweet. I wanted to hug her for being concerned for my nonexistant child's well-being. (I also freely admit that for a split second I wished I were still a smoker so I could buy a pack of smokes on top of the horror, to see if she would call the authorities on me.) I smiled at her. She shot daggers at me. I went home and fed my damn cat his damn baby food and put the cheap champagne on to chill.

The Lean Cuisine was delightful. And the beer is cold and perfect. And it is EIGHTY FIVE DEGREES. Merry Christmas Eve!


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Posted by laurie at 2:09 PM

December 21, 2005

Holidays: Peace, love, harmony and GET OUT OF MY WAY.

Have ya'll noticed that as Christmas zooms precariously nearer, the driving skills of our fellow citizens have rapidly deteriorated? Or is it just me? Maybe it's just Los Angeles? Maybe I'm just grumpy?

With the impendingness of the holidays, you'd think people would be nicer and happier. Au contraire! Some guy literally shoved me aside on the sidewalk this morning because I did not get the memo re: the world revolving around him. Maybe it got lost in the mail. Maybe he should have also laid off the cologne because I swear he left a stink handprint on me.

So! In the spirit of list-making and libation, and also not killing each other as the Christmas season reaches its apex of HAPPINESS DAMMIT, NOW MERGE OR I WILL FLIP YOU OFF, here are some basic tenets of personal responsibility that will endear you to your fellow humans. Kind of like free holiday gifts to all of humankind.

Top Ten Ways To Make The World A Better Place

1) Wait for the person who is in the elevator to actually get out of the elevator before you try to shove yourself in. This also goes for the bus and train, too. You see, crazy as it sounds, I cannot get off the bus if you are stepping on me to get in. It's like... a law of physics or something: "Matter cannot occupy a spot in the elevator that is already occupied." Ya'll should know this from Discovery Channel.

2) I would like to talk to you about all the smells. This one is just selfishness on my part, because I have a really strong sense of smell. It's ... a curse. Because strong smells are amplified in my olfactory factory eleventy hundred percent, which means your strong perfume? The one you bathed in? It might make me physically ill. So, if you leave a trail of really strong perfume behind you -- especially if the smell lingers after you walked through a full ten minutes ago -- you might want to reconsider the amount you use. It really isn't necessary to bathe in it. Consider it frugal as well! You use less perfume and save money! And who couldn't use a little extra cash this holiday season?

3) Let's talk about personal space. If I can tell you've had coffee and a garlic bagel for breakfast then YOU ARE STANDING TOO CLOSE TO ME. If you are behind me in line at the grocery store, and I flip my hair and hit you in the nose? YOU ARE STANDING TOO CLOSE TO ME. There's no need to physically close the gap at the grocery store... you're next in line! You'll still be next in line even if you take a step backwards! I promise.

4) Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Please for the love of God just do this one small thing. I know you are busy and important, but your germs are still disgusting and gross. Please. I beg.

5) Hello drivers! Here's a crazy concept! Use your turn signal. (Or where I'm from they're called "blinkers." So cute! Blinkers! NOW USE THEM.) Also, don't tailgate. Stop honking at pedestrians. In fact, just go home and re-read your driver's handbook, and pay close attention to the definition of "right of way." Notice you do not have the right of way at all times. Isn't that something?

6) If your car can comfortably seat eight, then it is NOT a compact car! Just a tip.

7) If you take public transportation, keep in mind that you should behave as if you were in public. Crazy, huh? Don't leer, don't stink, don't be disgusting, and don't talk to strangers, especially when you are staring at their boobs. Also, stop staring at strangers' boobs. Don't pick your nose or other orifices. Try to keep a lid on it until you get home and then you can go buckwild crazy at home. What a deal!

8) Finally, if you have a habit that wasn't covered here, but is a behavior that makes people swear at you, give you the finger, or give you dirty looks, it's probably something you should stop doing immediately. Thanks.


It's a Top Ten List that as usual stops short of ten because I need more coffee. Happy Holidays, ya'll ... I'm going to take a few days off. Be kind to your fellow humans! And please ... use your blinkers.


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Posted by laurie at 10:59 AM

December 20, 2005

What time is it?

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That's me and my dad when I was about six years old. That was in June, and I remember I was fascinated by his shiny wristwatch, and I loved it so much, and my dad tried to teach me how to tell time but I was a slow study. The concept of breaking a whole big day into tiny hours and seconds and so on was beyond my already crazy six-year-old mind.

That year for Christmas -- and for the next ten years or so -- my dad would buy me a lovely wristwatch, wrap it up and put it under the tree. Come Christmas morning, I'd wear it proudly for about four hours, whereupon it would promptly break. Dad was baffled the first year, suspicious the second, and downright accusatory the third. He quizzed me: "Are you washing your hands WHILE wearing the watch?" (Even then I was a handwasher. At age six, people.) "Did you take a bath with it on?" "Did you smash it? Step on it? Whack it on something?"

I have no idea what he thought I was doing to kill time (hah hah!! KILL time!!) but it irked him enough to stop buying me wristwatches. My parents accepted their fate as Cursed With A Daughter Who Is Oblivious To Time. And for the most part I bumbled along happily, unaware of time and not really very stressed out about it.

Then came junior high. In the 7th grade, Swatch watches were THE COOLEST THING EVER AND I WILL DIE IF I DO NOT HAVE THE PINK ONE THAT IS SCENTED I WILL DIE. DIE! NOW. Christmas rolled around that year, and I was all grown up, much more responsible, able to blind young children with my shiny new braces. So my dad caved in. Christmas brought with it a variety of acid-wash denim items and the pink Swatch Watch of my dreams.

But nothing had changed in the wristwatch department. My scented Swatch, much adored, ran smoothly for four hours tick-tock tick-tock, then silence. Death. It was a mystery. I cried.

My dad finally took me and my broken Swatch to a watch repair shop in Baton Rouge. The (possibly 800-year-old) repairman listened to my tale of tick-tock-woe, and for the first time in my life someone actually believed I was innocent of wristwatch endangerment. It was vindication! Ancient Cajun Watch Specialist assured us that he'd seen this rare phenomenon, before.

According to him, some people have a body chemistry which competes with the quartz movement of a watch. In some cases the body prolific wins and the timepiece just quits ticking.

While I wanted very much to sing "I told you so" to my disbelieving dad, I was slightly taken aback with my body's reluctance to embrace time. My inner clock had never really jived with the schedule I was supposed to be keeping.... could this be why? Was it my magnetic field? Was I impervious to man-made minutes? Was I somehow born outside of time constraints? Or had all that time of wristwatch-deprivation simply made me perpetually late?

And most importantly ... would I ever be able to wear a Swatch?

The answer, sadly, was No Way Jose. I killed every Swatch I ever loved. And I loved many. I gave up on watches about five years ago, after I accidentally killed a certain ex-husband's childhood Mickey Mouse watch. Whoops!

Today I got into work, and ya'll know I love my boss. I do. He's so cute, and he's kind, and he genuinely cares about his team. Which is why he hand-picked a beatiful new watch for each one of us. Engraved, even! It's such a thoughtful gift, and I adore it. Which is why I feel so bad about its impending death.

It's not my fault. Just ask my dad.
It's my ... magnetism.
Or something.

Posted by laurie at 9:30 AM

December 19, 2005

Not surprisingly, "poop" and "Christmas" both go well with Cabernet.

better-benadryl.jpg

I spent this past weekend sleeping on the sofa, or shivering under piles of blankets on the bed or sprawled out on the cool linoleum of the bathroom floor during flu-shot-induced hot flashes. I left my house a grand total of ONE TIME all weekend. During these many hours of reflection and observation at Chez Spinster, I discovered what these cats do all day.

Nothing. They do nothing! all! day! long!

Frankie wakes everyone up at 4:30 a.m. (food! meow!) and then they sleep. Hard. Around 10 a.m. they get a random burst of energy, just enough to chase each other, knock the mail off the table, and poop. Then it's nose to the grindstone/pillow all over again. Well, let me tell you what. Gravy days are over come January 1, these felines have to get jobs. Pull their own weight. (They misinterpreted the edict last year as "poop their own weight.")

Anyway, enough poop. Let's talk Christmas.

Except... I kind of didn't do Christmas this year. I decided to sit this one out. I know, I know ya'll. This very minute my mom is reading this and wondering if her girlchild needs, maybe, medication. Or a wine IV. Because she raised me right, what with the sparkly lights on EVERY STATIONARY SURFACE and tinsel and icecicles -- yes, icecicles, don't act like you haven't tossed long sparkly pieces of redneck tinsel on your tree, because I know you have -- and everything happy happy holiday.

There was even the year we discovered Flocking. And boy was that a pretty sight. We flocked EVERYTHING. Because flocking! It's snow in a can! And if you spray it for more than five seconds... you get high. That's right. All ya'll who do not flock think that we are country tacky because of the over-flocking. However, the truth is that while we may indeed be tacky, we are also unable to control the flocking once it begins. Flocking is highly toxic, and intoxicating, and once you get a whiff, you want to flock everything. Even the cat. It's a lot like Christmas crack cocaine that way.

But where was I? Oh. Yes. Christmas. And how I decided not to participate this year.

Because don't you think that when you're thirty-four and suddenly divorced (I say this as if it happened all in four days) and you live far from home and you're maybe just a little ... pensive and so on, don't you think it's OK to sit out Christmas? And just use this time to catch up on the Tivo-ing, and do some knitting, and randomly assign your cats jobs ("You there! Sobakowa! You should join the LAPD! They're really into beating people up! You'd love it!") and so on. Yes. That's what I think, too. And all my friends and co-workers are mentioning how busy they are, and they have to run to the so-and-so to buy this and that for so-and-so, and they haven't mailed blah blah blah and I ... I just can't compute. It's like I have been inhaling the flocking or something. Because I didn't even realize that Christmas is practically FIVE days away, and I so far I have accomplished this much:

zero - Christmas lights decorating house
zero - presents bought
zero - cards purchased
zero - cards sent
zero - trees or other indoor decorations hung
zero - Christmas carols played

I'm batting... zero! And I would like to offer this apology right now to every person who thinks I maybe forgot them, or to whom I have stared at glassy-eyed as they talked about their frantic holiday preparations. I'm glad that ya'll are celebrating and shopping and going to holiday parties and so on. I haven't forgotten you. I haven't joined the Scientologists. I just don't have it in me this year. Pretend I'm high on flocking, it will all make more sense.

Sobakowa's Manifesto

Sobakowa's Manifesto

Sobakowa's Manifesto

Sobakowa's Manifesto

Posted by laurie at 10:16 AM

December 16, 2005

Blocking is the new Botox.

Finally, the last installment of The Annotated History Of One Very Orange Scarf, also known as "Obviously I Am Still Stunned By My Divorce, Avoiding The Holidays, Whacked Out On Cold Medicine And So I Fixated On This Scarf."

How are ya'll?

I went home last night with every intention of falling straight into bed and sleeping a lovely benadryl sleep. (I got a flu shot and I do believe it gave me the flu. Probably the Evian Flu.) Obviously, I had a fever or something because I went home and ... got busy blocking!

Blocking is the cosmetic surgery of handknits. It is the one technique that can make a short, stubby cheeto-scarf stretch into a long, lean lovely scarf. It smooths out the stitches and helps the fibers relax into their new positions.

My psychotic adoration of blocking is completely the responsibility of one Annie Modesitt, who showed me the magic and miracle of steam blocking. Until she came to visit a few months ago, I had only blocked a kitty pi (here) and my favorite thing ever -- a Noro Transitions scarf (here). But Annie brought her steamer to town ... and once she saw me trying to hold it hostage, she gave me one as a hostess gift! I have been hooked on steam blocking ever since. Steam blocking isn't for every fiber, but it works great on wool.

A big part of blocking is the simple shaping of an item. Annie showed me that you don't have to be afraid of your knitting -- you can tug on your stitches and guide them into shape by pulling and stretching the fabric. I guess I was afraid I'd hurt the knitting or something, but truth is ... knitting likes a little tug now and then. Knitting is maybe a little kinky that way.

There are lots of different ways to block stuff. I like the steamer because it's fast and the scarf won't take forever to dry. Oh, who am I kidding? It's a proven theory that any task is way more fun when you have nifty tools. (God experimented with this theory, too, the result was "men.") I'm definitely not a blocking expert, but so far I've had great results from a short application of steam, some gentle tugging and shaping the item with my fingers, then pinning it in shape to dry.

The steamer got filled with water and plugged in, and as it heated up I prepared The Blocking Surface (a.k.a. the twin bed in the guest room.) Folded a big clean sheet in half and set it on top of the mattress. Got out my long straight pins and tried to avoid attracting the attention of many sleeping felines. Once the scarf had been steamed and tugged on, I would shape it, pin it, and let it dry overnight.

blocking knits

A terrycloth towel provides a good backdrop for steaming, because this stuff is potent HOT and you don't want to hurt yourself.

Lay the scarf on the towel. Steam a section of it real good. Tug and shape with your hands. Repeat! I could see the wool relaxing and getting longer before my very eyes. Then I quickly pinned it out, stetching it as I went along. The whole thing took less than five minutes. Five minutes, folks!

blocking knits


blocking knits


blocking knits

After it was thoroughly pinned, I steamed the whole thing once-over for good measure. Then folded the sheet over it so no felines could intervene and body-block it. Sleep well, little scarf!

blockingbob.jpg


My desired results for the cheeto scarf: I definitely needed this piece to grow longer. It was stubby -- way too short for an adult! I wanted the stitches to calm down a little bit since the whole scarf was kind of jumbly and bumpy. And I wanted to make the seam of my three-needle bind off look a little flatter.

[Just an aside here. No, I have no idea how to do the Kitchener stitch. I'm a total novice on all this. I'm always surprised when I figure out how to do something, like loops or whatever, because it feels like I just climbed Mt. Everest! So! Exciting! And I figure if someone as remedial as me can figure it out, I should take pictures of it. But I have many and diverse knitting challenges ... see "I can't read a pattern" and "never knits anything but scarves and hats" and "fuzzyfeet" for more details.]

This morning my scarf was dry and shaped into perfection. You can see how this piece managed to grow long just like I wanted:

blocking knits


blocking knits

I definitely did NOT steam the loopy edges or tug on them at all, I loved their loopy, nutty fringe. But the stitches got super-blocked and stretched and the scarf is soft and long and ... still very orange. The final result is ... funky. Whether it's funky-good or funky-bad is hard to say ...

After my big evening of blocking, I melted into the sofa with my fur blankets. Here's some Franklin Delano Rosencat action for Kellie:

frankenfur

Have a great weekend! Ask Santa for a steamer!

Posted by laurie at 10:31 AM

December 15, 2005

The three-needle bind off will make you feel Very Very Smart. Drink up!

Flush with my knitting high, making magic loopy stitches and drop stitches and all kinds of tomfoolery, did I realize I was quickly approaching PERIL and DOOM... a.k.a. The End Of The Scarf? No! For all my earthquake preparedness and gnome theories, when it comes to knitting projects I am just living on the edge. And the edge often has pom-poms on it.

So, yesterday commenter Kim asked how I was gonna finish the other end of the scarf without the loopies pointing in the wrong direction.

Yes.
Well.
I am so glad you asked that.
THANKS.

I had not considered that the loop stitch has to be done a certain way, directionally speaking, and that perhaps the smart thing to do when using a loop stitch as fringe would be knit two halves of a scarf from the bottom up and join in the middle.

And of course when this inneresting dilemma came up, I had already forever felted the new ball of yarn to the old one and knit several rows more of drop stitch and was thinking to myself, WELL WHAT DO YOU KNOW MAYBE I AM A REAL KNITTER AFTER ALL!

Oh yeah. I'm REAL something. That is for sure.

Instead of ripping back to the felted join, I decided ALL AT ONCE that it is far better to have a graft/seam/whatever-you-call-it at the end of a scarf than in the middle. If it's at the end and you mess up, you can always stick a brooch on it. Or a pom-pom!

I was excited to make the other set of loops for the end of my scarf, and so last night on the bus, I put the drop-stitch portion on a stitch holder and used the same size 15 bamboo needles to begin knitting loops -- using the other yarn tail from the opposite end of my skein. Some people have a candle that burns at both ends. I have a yarn skein that knits from both ends. Woohoo!

Here I have my half-scarf, on the holder, and two rows of loop fringe knitted off the tail of the new ball of yarn:
three-needle bind off


Aren't stitch holders a cool invention? The first time I saw one was at Stitch 'n Bitch, and it was in this one girl's knitting bag. I thought, "Hotdamn that's a big diaper pin! Who needs a diaper pin THAT big? Oh. OH. eeewwwwwww. But whatever. I Am Not A Judger. EEEEWWWWWW." And for the next month or so I went around thinking this girl at Stitch 'n Bitch had some wacky personal predilictions. Hey. It is Los Angeles, you know?

But I digress.

In theory, this scarf would come together just like the tunnel below the English Channel -- one team starts in France, the other in England and they meet up somewhere in the middle and join without a hitch. Except. I'm pretty sure scarf-making is not anything at all like tunnel-building. Thank goodness it's just yarn and not world peace. I'd hate to screw that one up.

Before long, the drop-stitch body of the scarf was done, I only had enough yarn left for finishing. Time to seam it up!

The Three-Needle Bind Off is one of those knitting things that sounds SCARY. But it's totally not. Some things just look so hard in a book but they really are easy as pie. And that makes a person feel Smart. And feeling Smart means I can drink wine and fool myself into thinking I have brain cells to spare.

The only thing SCARY about this technique is finding three needles of the same size. (You can use a circular needle in place of the two straight needles in the left hand if you want.) And using a bigger needle as the third dude in the menage-a-trois needle lovefest works fine, too.

The Basics:
1) End the scarf by completing a drop-stitch row. Normally, I would do a row of drop stitch, then a row of regular knitting. But because I'm about to join the body to the loopy edge, I'm just gonna omit the plain knit row.

2) On the other end are two row of knit loops on a stitch holder. Put those guys back on a knitting needle.

3) Normally, if you were going to bind off a regular old row of knitting, you'd knit the first stitch off the left needle. Then knit the second stitch. Pass first knit over second knit. Easy! Pie!

With the CRAZY THREE NEEDLE MADNESS, you do the same thing. Seriously. But you just hold the Scarf Body and Scarf Loops together in the left hand and use the third needle to knit through BOTH stitches of each left needle at the same time.

4) Then do it again to get two stitches sitting on your right-hand needle.

5) Then pass the first stitch of the right-hand needle over the second like normal binding off.

THAT'S IT.
IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.

Stop your whining... it's just ten stitches on a simple scarf.

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off


You'll see the finished thing tomorrow when I write an eleventeen thousand word essay on the joys of blocking. I swear ya'll. Get me started talking about knitting and I will never shut up.

But I can't help it! What I love about knitting is that in the course of this simple scarf I've done two crazy stitch techniques and one mysterious-sounding bind off plus I threw in a felted join, two glasses of wine and three trips on the crosstown bus. It may not be world peace or the Chunnel, but it's good enough for the Sobakowa:

soba clause

Posted by laurie at 11:44 AM

December 14, 2005

Drop-stitch and felted join and cheetos and gnomes. And Bob.

As you can tell, I sort of suck at writing headlines. My first job out of college was with the Winter Haven News Chief in Winter Haven, Florida, where I wrote scintillating copy for advertising sections. ("Will Tomato Blight Creep Into Polk County?" "Stripes Stage A Comeback for Spring" and my favorite... "What's New In Bath Fixtures For Fall" ... I was BIG TIME, people!) Anyway, my editor was a nice fellow named Joe who decided the best way for a greenhorn like me to learn the subtle art of headline-writing was to actually write headlines. So he assigned me to kickers.

Kickers aren't really stories. They're photos with a headline and one or two lines of text. I hated kickers. I hated writing kickers. I felt that it was cruel and unusual punishment.

Feedback I got from Joe during that time:

Week 1: Needs a re-write. Keep it up, you'll get better at this!

Week 2: Re-write and send back to me. Keep trying!

Week 3: Not every headline has to begin with a gerund. Re-write.

Week 4: Do not even think of asking me what a gerund is again or I will fire you. Re-write.

Week 6: JesusOnACracker Laurie this was a photo of a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Blockbuster! There were no gnomes! Nobody thinks your gnome jokes are funny!

Week 9: Ok, OK, yes, that was a funny gnome joke. But this is a family newspaper, your dad would have a heart attack. Re-write. Tell Bruce in paste-up this joke.

Week 12: Either you have gotten better at this or I have somehow ADJUSTED and GOTTEN USED to your sense of humor. I suspect it's the latter. That is disturbing. I'm giving kickers back to Cynthia.

And so I never conquered the headline. Blame it on the gnomes.

But that is not the point of this story... as you can clearly see from my headline. Today it is all about the knitting.

As I am knitting away on this orange loopy scarf, I can think of nothing but eating Cheetos! (Thanks to commenter Jen for pointing that out yesterday. Really. Thanks. Also, did you know that if you eat Cheetos with chopsticks you can avoid tell-tale Orange Fingers? Just a tip. I'm here to help! Gnomes!)

I'm still working on the body of the scarf, which is all drop stitch. Drop stitch was very intimidating to me when I first saw it in a book. The explanations all seemed too vague... what is a yarnover? How do you know what to drop? Will it unravel? What do I do with the first and last stitches?

There are several different ways to do a yarnover or drop-stitch, but this is the one I like best, because you're real clear on when and where to yarn over and drop.

For this scarf, I cast on my ten stitches using the long-tail (or "two tail") method of casting on. That particular method makes a nice, sturdy cast on, plus it doubles as your first knit row so you can get right down to business.

Next, I knit two rows in Loop Stitch (see yesterday's post here for that one.)

On row three, I start the drop-stitch pattern.

Drop-stitch is just what it sounds like... you drop "stitches," except they aren't REAL stitches, these are just faker stitches called yarnovers. I thought yarn overing would be hard ... until I discovered I had been doing it as a beginner accidentally. Whoops! A yarnover occurs anytime you wrap the yarn around the needle without actually knitting it or purling it.

To begin, knit the first stitch of the row just like normal. Then, wrap the yarn tail around your right needle once or twice or even three times (the more wraps, the more yarn you use, right? This means the more wraps, the longer the "dropped" portion of the scarf.)

yarnover drop stitch


yarnover drop stitch

After you do the yarn-overing, knit the next stitch off the left needle like normal. Then, do your yarnovers. My row looks like this:

Knit one, 2 yarnovers
Knit one, 2 yarnovers
Knit one, 2 yarnovers
Knit one, 2 yarnovers
(you get the idea)
When you get to the last stitch of the row, knit it as usual. Boy will you have a lot of stitches now on your full needle!

yarnover drop stitch

Now comes the magic part. That's right, magic! There is so much mystical and elusive about knitting. I am still hoping fuzzyfoot gnomes will show up at my house and finish them up. So, I guess there's also lots of Hope in knitting. And as we all know, Hope keeps you alive. And probably burns calories. But Hope alone does not complete fuzzyfeet, alas.

Where were we? Oh yes... time to make the drop stitch magic!

Knit that first stitch as normal. Now you see the yarn overs sitting there on the left needle, don't you? They're the messy yarn loops on that needle sitting in between the real stitches. Just slide all that loose yarn off the left needle.

yarnover drop stitch

yarnover drop stitch

yarnover drop stitch

Yes, it will be messy.
Yes, you will survive the messy knitting.
Yes, it works out pretty good in the end.
No, I do not want to talk about my fuzzyfeet issues.

yarnover drop stitch

Tug real firmly on the drop stitches to settle them in, and then on your next row, knit each stitch like normal, this really locks in the drop-stitch portion. Voila!

Oh ... but we're not done yet. Check out the Felted Join!

My favorite yarn is 100% wool. One of the perks of using wool (or any fiber that will felt) is that you can add a new ball of yarn using the felted join.

It's just what it sounds like ... joining two balls of yarn by felting the ends of each yarn tail into one seamless yarn-glob. (Have ya'll noticed I'm really into bolding stuff today?)

The upside: No weaving in ends! Woohoo!
The downside: The join can be a wee bit stiff and bulky.

To prevent a big bulky join in my already big, bulky orange Cheeto wool, I fuzzed the ends of my two yarn tails and kind of plucked off some of the loftier strands, thinning each yarn tail down a little bit.

felted join

Next, dampen one or both ends of the yarn. I sponge mine, but you can dip the ends in water, or even spit on them. I'm too OCD-freaky to spit on the yarn, but you do what feels right. Just don't tell me. Really. I do not want to know.


felted join


Once the yarn is damp, lay one end over the other, overlapping maybe an inch or more. VIGOROUSLY rub the yarn between your hands. If you're wearing jeans, you can put the yarn tails together on your jean-covered leg and rub them together real fast. You're using the dampness and the friction to insta-felt the ends together.


felted join


felted join
I love you, felted join!


That concludes today's bandwidth-hogging extravaganza. Bob slept through the whole thing. Coincidentally -- Bob's name was supposed to be "Cheeto" (I mean, come ON! All orange cats should be named Cheeto!) but he only answered to Bob.
bobsleepyhead.jpg

Posted by laurie at 10:07 AM

December 13, 2005

Loopy is the new crazy!

The muppet scarf got bound off and ends woven in and now it sits happily wrapped around a nice bottle of champagne in hopes that Karman will associate that fuzzball with bubbly drunkenness. Yum!

Obviously, upon finishing The Muppet I should have returned immediately to the still half-completed fuzzyfoot which taunts me each day with its partial existence.

Obviously, I started a whole new project.

This project has no pattern, no gift recipient in mind, and no real purpose at all ... other than the sheer joy of knitting it. I LOVE YOU, KNITTING! You make me happy. You know I'm crazy and you love me back anyway, with your 100% wool goodness, with your silly crazy stitches, with your never-ending world of possibility. I know you aren't even disappointed in me for stalling mid-fuzzyfoot. You're just happy to live in a moth-free ziploc bag and wait for me. Love you!

Yesterday morning I was running out the door to catch the bus and needed a project STAT! I reached into the stash (conveniently located right by the front door.) Two balls of Lana Grossa Caldo 100% virgin wool yarn jumped out at me -- they've been patiently waiting since March. A soft, dense lofty wool in a cheerful shade of safety orange -- well, it's deer hunting season somewhere, right?

caldo-orange.jpg


This yarn is so bulky it's practically polar weight. Therein lies the problem -- I only have two very small balls of the Caldo, enough maybe for a hat. But a polar-weight wool hat in Los Angeles? I may be crazy, but I am not delusional (yet!) so this yarn has languished in the stash for months. Felted bag? Kitty pi stripe? Pompom trim?

For no logical reason at all, I settled in to my bus knitting groove and cast on ten stitches of Caldo with size 15 bamboo straight needles. And the only thing I wanted to do was MAKE LOOPS! Big fat fluffy loops!

I ADORE the loop stitch. I'm not sure I'd make a whole garment out of loops, but a few rows here and there are so much fun! Makes you wonder what the inventor of said stitch was drinking at the moment of divine inspiration. Whatever it was... I want some. Gimme. Now.

Making loops looks hard but it's really easy. It's not an exact science... the loops will never be EXACTLY the same length, and I think that adds to its mod, goofy charm. My loops are the beginning of a scarf because as ya'll know by now, my personal motto is "When in doubt, knit a scarf." (Far better than my old personal motto, "When in doubt, go to McDonald's.")

make knitted loops


To make a loop, knit one stitch like normal -- BUT instead of dropping the yarn off the left needle like a normal knit stitch, you leave the yarn on the left needle.

make knitted loops

make knitted loops

make knitted loops

make knitted loops

make knitted loops

make knitted loops

make knitted loops

Making loops takes more yarn than normal stitches, so I only made two rows of loops, one on each side of the scarf to give it a whacked-out fringe look.

As a scarf, this little guy was already looking pretty good to me, maker of dead muppet scarves. But the body of the scarf would have to be airy to compensate for A: the small amount of yarn I have and B: the denseness of the wool. Drop-stitch to the rescue!

Drop-stitch is another favorite stitch, because you get this lacy, airy look that knits up in crazy ways depending on your yarn. Ribbon drop-stitch looks totally different from mohair. Plus, it knits up at a pretty fast pace. So, drop stitch + bulky yarn + big needles = super turbo fast!

Progress after knitting on the bus ride home:
ML-scarf-half.jpg


This is one funky scarf, the color and the thickness of the yarn make this stitch look almost like macrame, in a hippiefied 1970s kinda way. I'm not sure if I'd wear this ... but I love making it!

And because I haven't posted enough pictures yet in this one entry, here is Soba getting a little warmth from her personal heater and fur blanket, Roy The Cat:
cats-snuggle-121305.jpg

Posted by laurie at 9:28 AM

December 12, 2005

Pass the eggnog, please. PLEASE. NOW.

My building has 52 floors and Corporate Job, Inc., only occupies about 25 of those. As luck would have it, I seem to be on the exact same elevator usage schedule as Jingle.

Jingle works for a different company in our building. This is good for two reasons:

1) Since she doesn't work with me, I can talk about her without fear of getting fired.

2) Since she doesn't work with me, I don't have to worry about her showing up at my desk and taunting me with her Holiday Superpowers, and me possibly strangling her with her own purse straps.


Jingle is the local Annoying Holiday Cheer Lady. She has earned her nickname because... she actually jingles when she walks. You may know her. You may have one in your own office or family or neighborhood. (If you are the local Jingle, Hi! Love you! Stop reading please!) She is the one wearing Christmas appliques and jingle-bell earrings the day after Thanksgiving. She wears socks with little Christmas bells on them. To work. These things are fine, cheerful even. But Jingle has a dark side.

She tells you how READY SHE IS FOR THE HOLIDAYS. She is SO READY in fact was READY LAST MONTH LAST SUMMER LAST YEAR!!! She tells you how COMPETENT AND PERFECT she is, whether you care to hear it or not. She makes you maybe want to rob a liquor store in a Santa suit.

I got trapped with Jingle in the elevator this morning. It was early. There were nineteen floors between me and freedom. Perhaps if I were quiet enough, she wouldn't see me? I tried to make myself rearrange atoms so that I would sink into the elevator on a molecular level, but I was unable to complete the metamorphosis before she accosted me.

She saw me.

She sized me up.

She pounced.

Jingle: Gooooooood morning! Well you look half asleep! I just can't get enough of this great cold weather! I just love the holiday season! Don't you!

Me: Yes. (whimper)

Jingle: (she zeroes in for the kill) So, got your Christmas shopping done yet?

Me: ... no?

Jingle: Oh, MY GOODNESS, you aren't one of those last minute shoppers are you? What a headache! I got all my shopping done months ago! And I sent out all my Christmas cards last weekend, and I'm all decorated and ready to just sit back and relax!

Me: I saw a John Wayne Gacy biography last night on TeeVee.


Thankfully, the elevator arrived at my floor and I disembarked before I talked myself into a restraining order.

I'm glad she's glad about the holidays. Really, I am. I'd just like it if she were maybe a little more silently-to-herself glad instead of aggressively glad.

The holidays are great on a conceptual level -- lovely giving and sparkle lights and happy happy and family and snuggles and hot drinks with brandy or rum. Or scotch. Or you know, whatever. I'm flexible. But there's the fact that while I am immeasurably blessed (I am), I'm also profoundly lonely and not so twinkly, with family far away and maybe having just sent the last of my Christmas Fund off to my lawyer. There is snuggling ... with four cats and a nice cabernet, which is ... fine. It is! Nevermind. I'm shutting up now.

Except... I am lonely.

And I hesitated to even say it out loud because all the magazines and talk shows and people on the internets tell us to fill up that empty spot! Do something! Take action!

I'm going to be doing all the stuff They tell you to do: volunteer, give to those less fortunate, drink a lot (hey, what? they don't tell you to drink a lot? really? are you sure?) but ... I am lonely.

And here is my secret: I suspect it is perfectly OK to be lonely. It won't kill you. It won't cripple you or give you scabies or make you unloveable. You aren't broken if you're lonely. There is no to-do list, no action item, no great sport or activity you can throw yourself into that will fill you.

Sometimes you are just lonely.

And that's fine.

Isn't it? Because without the times when you feel sort of sad and When-Harry-Met-Sally and microwave popcorn for dinner (again) and red wine and long cold nights, you wouldn't be able to truly appreciate it when you find yourself fulfilled.

For example, when I lived in the same house as my parents for all those many years, I did not feel quite so excited and happy and tears of joy to see them every time I walked in the door. Now that we live so far apart (and also maybe now that I am not a bad teenager with no understanding of the word "curfew" which I think is Latin and I do not speak Latin) I look forward to seeing them and get so excited just to talk to my folks on the phone.

Lonely isn't a bad word, it just feels like something we shouldn't be, something that we should instead seek to remedy THIS VERY MINUTE IF NOT SOONER, as if it were easy to fix, like a broken radiator or a sinus headache.

So... it's out there now. The sad underbelly of the holidays. This too shall pass. I'll survive. I will not get scabies. (Because if I got scabies I guarandamntee you it would knock loneliness out of top spot for things to be sad about. Or bedbugs. Or any bugs, really. I hate them all. Bugs! The gift that keeps on giving!)

Anyway. Big deal. I'm lonely. Feels better to admit it. Feels so good, in fact, that I'd like to go home tonight and be lonely and watch While You Were Sleeping and wallow. But...

I may never make it home.

I may never even make it off the 19th floor. I am terrified to get in the elevator because I know Jingle will be in there, and she'll be aggressively happy, and she wears a giant Christmas tree pin on her lapel that has blinking lights and plays music when you push a button ... and I have noticed that her purse has very, very long straps.

So much better for to strangle her with.

I'm just saying is all.

frankie-love.jpg

Posted by laurie at 9:29 AM

December 9, 2005

If this doesn't put you to sleep, nothing will.

I have nothing to say really, no cars were stolen, no muppets were skinned so their hides can be made into ugly scarves, no divorces today. Will that stop me from talking? Does the pope wear a funny hat? Does a bear poop in the woods?

While the answer to those compelling questions may be "yes," the answer to the compellinger question of will I shut up is... uh, did someone say compellinger? Like that is a word? Oh wait ..it is a word? Awesomer!

Hello. I am crazy. How are you?

Work is insanity, everyone is going on vacation and would like to please see mockups of their January projects... now? Please? And I am avoiding the holidays, and have completed 0.00009% of my holiday knitting, and I cannot find my black lace-up boots. So now I will talk to about the following Vaguely Crucial Items.


i. Panty Paranoia
Hah, you thought that was a typo, right, and I meant paRty paranoia? As in Holiday Party Paranoia? No. No typo.

I suffer from Panty Paranoia which I fully blame on my mother and her Worst Case Scenerios, which always involved underwear: "You have to wear nice panties! What if you were in a car accident? What if you had to make an emergency trip to the doctor? What if a tornado came and whipped your skirt off?"

It could happen.

Imagine this sense of ratty-panty paranoia combined with my total loathing of laundry. I DETEST doing laundry. Ya'll, I would prefer to stand in line at the pharmacy surrounded by hunky guys while an equally hunky salesclerk does a price check on my economy-size box of tampons than do laundry.

So I am the sort of girl who, when faced with Mt. St. Washmore and a clean laundry shortage, will actually drive to the store, park, go inside said store, shop, select new panties, check out and return home rather than just do a load of wash. This has happened more than once. My parents are now embarrassed and telling people who just read this that I am adopted.

I AM NOT ADOPTED.



ii. Saturday is Judgment Day, or "We shall go a'washing."

I've been trying the Heat & Pressure (TM) method of laundry... that's where you desperately hope the heat and pressure from the top of the pile cleans the clothes at the bottom of the pile. It does not appear to be working. Instead, in the darkness and solitude, the laundry appears to be mating with each other and spawning new dirty clothes. Someone call Discovery Channel.

My laundry is now spilling out of the basket and onto the floor and threatens to take over the hallway. I fear the socks will be staging an insurrection.

Maybe I'll go shopping.


iii. And she cooks, too. Alert the Fire Department.
Last night I once again successfully set off the fire alarm in my house with my exceptional cooking skills. It led to a cooking catharsis of sorts ... I finally discovered what the problem is (aside from the fact that I'm a lousy cook).

I suffer from Advanced Cooking ADD.

Cooking is boring, and I get distracted. For instance, last night I put some grean beans in a pan and set them on the stove to simmer. It's not haute cuisine, but after six paragraphs describing my laundry, aren't you sort of impressed that I managed to open a can of vegetables without a soliloquy? So, beans firmly esconced in pan. Add olive oil, garlic powder. Leave kitchen. DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER.

Apparently, once I leave the kitchen, I completely foget that I even have a stove, or a mystical "cooking room" in the house and before long I am back in the guest room painting my toenails (um, yes. no clean socks = wearing Mary Janes to work) and watching Entertainment Tonight and also flipping through the mail, because I am a badassss multitasker.

And then before you know it the alarm is going off and dinner is burned to a crisp. And EVERY SINGLE TIME THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED, which is a lot, I am completely shocked and freaked out when the alarm goes off. "Why is the smoke alarm going off? Is there a fire? Did someone break in? And start a fire? Why would someone do that?"

I'm not sure what was cathartic about that experience, except for finally being diagnosed with Cooking ADD and also ... huh? What was I saying? Is something good on teevee?


iv. Scientific Theory Makes No Headlines
I have probably 12 mate-less socks sitting in the drawer, the last lone holdouts in the clean laundry world. Where did their companion socks go? Did the dryer eat them? Are the cats hiding them in their secret lair?

I have a theory. (I always have a theory). Lost socks turn into coat hangers. I have exactly eleventeen and twenty-two coat hangers and not one clean pair of matched socks. COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT. And if you think that is not science, sir, I would like to see your hypothesis explaining The Great Disappearance Of Many Socks.


IN CONCLUSION

If this exciting column hasn't put you to sleep yet, just think.... tomorrow you may get to read about My Adventures in Ironing (as if! because .... do I even own an iron?) or maybe I'll film myself doing something really cutting edge like Folding, Sweeping or Cleaning The Catbox. Can you hear strains of Shiela E's "The Glamorous Life" playing in the background? That's me. It's nothing but a big party at Chez Spinster, especially with the dirty clothes getting it on in the dark recesses of the laundry basket.


P.S. Send wine. Obviously I am crazy. If you see my boots, please tell them I miss them.


(gratuitous cat photo)
bobsnoozes.jpg

Posted by laurie at 10:14 AM

December 8, 2005

We interrupt your regularly scheduled nonsense for breaking news of animal cruelty.

roy the cat

roy the cat

roy the cat

roy the cat

roy the cat

roy the cat

roy the cat

Posted by laurie at 9:04 AM

December 7, 2005

roy roy

roy-prisonbreak.jpg

Posted by laurie at 10:28 AM

This scarf brought to you by Fauxy, the Transvestite Muppet

On the one hand, it's ... fluffy. On the other hand, it's ... fluffy?

muppetscarf1.jpg
No, that is not my desk. Are you serious?
You thought my desk would be that clean?

So the Pep "blocco" scarf in red and black is... uh. Fluffy. I still love the way the yarn goes from red to black real quicklike, especially on big needles, and the yarn is very soft. Yet there is no escaping the obvious.

This is one ugly ass scarf.

But of course I knit onward and crazyward, even bought me another ball of yarn to finish it (50% off at the big Unwind sale!!), because Lord knows I cannot just leave well enough alone... no. I have to take well enough and make it nine feet long.

There is something very wrong with me.


Dear Karman,
If you are reading this, please stop. Also, since I know you well enough to know you are still reading this, I apologize for your scary Christmas present. I plan to make it up to you by wrapping this beast around a nice bottle of champagne.
Love,
Laurie

muppetscarf2.jpg


(Right now my mom is reading this and saying THANK GOD THAT SCARF IS FOR SOMEONE ANYONE BUT ME THANK YOU LORD I WILL BE A BETTER PERSON FROM NOW ON I PROMISE AMEN.)

I love to knit, even when I am doing nothing but garter stitch on a BOLD and FLAIR-FILLED project such as Ms. Muppet. People on the bus just look at me, then look at the big fluffy and look away. This scarf is the knitting version of a social disease. I love it. Karman, I hope this scarf brings you as much isolation and public scorning as it has brought me. In Los Angeles, City Of Freaks, I suspect the gift of soluitude may be the kindest gift of all ... even if it is wrapped in red and black fun fur stripes.

Posted by laurie at 10:25 AM

December 6, 2005

Little faces.

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Kabul, Afghanistan. Camp Phoenix, Tuesday December 6, 2005 --Afghan kids in ambulance, holding presents from you!

My friend in Kabul has already started receiving boxes of toys and goodies from ya'll. Thank you all so much for opening your hearts a little. There are so many people everywhere in need, and I know this all seems crazy, sending old beanie babies or happy meal toys to some stranger in Afghanistan, but look at those little faces.

What a great way to start a new day!

Posted by laurie at 9:53 AM

December 5, 2005

Still Life With Divorce

deevorce.jpg

Posted by laurie at 4:03 PM

Monday.

Sat here staring a the keyboard for twenty minutes. Do I make jokes about it? Ignore it? Is there a handbook for this?

Can I just jump the shark and be done with it?

shark.jpg
Took this pic on our honeymoon. (We eloped.)
Look how happy I am to be in the shark's mouth.
Coincidence? I THINK NOT.


I got married to share my life with someone. I needed someone to see me, know me, witness each day with me. I needed to matter to someone. Needed someone I could claim myself with in the midst of chaos.

So it's no coincidence that when I realized he was never coming back I started writing my life out in words and putting it on the internets so that someone, maybe, would see me through all the days when he wasn't here. Maybe laugh at my jokes?

I used to think I needed closure. That he owed me an explanation. You see, the humiliating truth is that he left me like one leaves a motel room, never once looking back, never pausing to reflect, no attachments there. Just dirty sheets.

But here is what I have discovered: Closure is a myth. The only explanation that would satisfy me doesn't exist. And it's his humiliation to bear, not mine.

Anyway, it's just a Monday. I woke up this morning the same as every other morning, and Roy licked my left eyebrow, and I got into the shower with one sock still on, and I cleaned the catbox and did my little morning routine, and now I am having coffee, writing about a day I dreaded, but I am writing about it! Me! The same girl who gave up writing so her screenwriter husband could be the wordsmith superstar in the family. And I have all my fingers and all my toes and great parents and lovely friends and piles of yarn and one big bottle of Veuve Cliquot for later. And I will do this myself, no big deal, because it is just another Monday, not anything to remark upon.

And it is final and I am still breathing.
Fuck him. And the shark he rode in on.

Posted by laurie at 9:12 AM

December 4, 2005

Found it.

After many emphatic prayers to the Gods of OH PLEASE TAKE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT JUST PLEASE GIVE ME BACK MY CAMERA, indeed my little Kodak DigiCam For Dummies was returned, and we reconciled and celebrated with a cheap organic Shiraz from Whole Foods. After making my bargain with the devil, I'm sure my left leg will be missing tomorrow. (Whatever. I can hop.) At least I have my camera back.

The sneaky camera had somehow rolled underneath the passenger-side seat of my Jeep. Perhaps because the last photograph I took before it disappeared was this:

luxuryedition3.jpg


Yes, I was taking pictures while driving. Again. Are you wondering why I was so excited to capture this delicious little beige Toyota Corolla from the 1970s forever with my camera? Take a look at the close-up of the left back panel:

luxuryedition2.jpg

Oh yeah, ya'll. LUXURY EDITION. That's how I roll.

Yesterday I met up with Christine at Unwind, my favorite local yarn shop, for some retail therapy. They are having a BIG 50% Off SALE, so hurry down there. In fact you should go now, go! I'll still be here when you get back. One of the greatest things about Unwind is that they have frequent shopper cards, and you get a punch everytime you buy full-price stuff, and over time it does add up. Then when the card is full, you get a whopping $30 off any purchase, even off sale stuff.

december4-unwind.jpg
They're so nice they don't even mind the crazy camera lady.

december4-unwind2.jpg

I bought all this yarn at HALF OFF, folks, and then used my $30 card, and it was practically FREE and definitely the best retail therapy I have had in a loooong time.

Also, now that I have my camera back I can document for you the CSI-esque crime scene that has become my bathroom. The veterinarian gave me a new antibiotic for Roy The Cat -- a liquid this time. I squirt it into his unwilling mouth twice a day. He hates me. This liquid antibiotic is dark magenta, so when Roy fights me and spits it out, the dark pink medicine ends up like so many murder-scene blood drops on my formerly white walls.

december4-csi.jpg
We're now calling the bathroom Scene Of The Crime.

Gil Grissom would find the spray pattern fascinating. Warrick Brown would look sultry and wonder where the perp was. Sara Sidle would be bored, she hates cats, but Nick would feel badly for Roy and want to take him in. Catherine would roll her eyes and go on to the next dead body as the camera zooms in on her butt.

Ok, I'll stop that. Sorry. Got carried away.

Roy is feeling much better, I can attest to his improved STRENGTH and STAMINA and did I mention STRENGTH? Even mummy-wrapped in a towel he manages to struggle free during antibiotic time and he is as we speak plotting my death. I could not be happier!

december4-roy.jpg
Roy is 25% of my divorce settlement, you know. I need him to live long and prosper.

The other 75% of my divorce settlement have been busy with the usual pooping and sleeping and so on. They are so worn out from sleeping all day, they have to take a nap. I woke them up for the photo shoot.

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december4-frankie.jpg

Except Sobakowa, of course, who had found a patch of sun and was warming her magnificent self in its presence.

december4-soba.jpg


She did manage to wake long enough to deliver a message.

december4-sobathanks.jpg

Posted by laurie at 12:30 PM

December 2, 2005

That Boy's Just A Walkaway Joe

I have to be at work in five hours. Can't sleep. The cabernet is nice but not a great conversationalist.

Last night was Stitch 'n Bitch, but I wasn't all there, not present, most of me was someplace else trying to keep it all together. I discovered an hour into the evening that I didn't have my camera, don't have it, where is it? Where has everything gone? Misplaced. I really wanted to go to SNB last night, especially to meet Denise (who I called Diane. Twice. Because although I have corresponded with this amazing lady for months, I apparently have stopped functioning in the real world and am now assigning names to people based on... my recollections of grade-school friends? Poetry? Famous Woody Allen actresses?)

Denise brought two huge bags of toys for me to send to Haji. If my camera hasn't divorced me for greener pastures, I will take photos upon its reappearance. I was instantly humbled, thank you Denise. It was so nice to meet you!

There's a reason for my disconnect, of course. It's humiliating. Aren't the roots of all nervous breakdowns steeped in embarrassing details?

Yesterday was payday, and so I sent off another $400 to the lawyer. (Love is grand, divorce is twenty grand.) Then I realized that Divorce Day, is.. Oh My God. Soon.

Monday.

And I began to panic -- you feel a deep horrible (terribly unladylike) scream and it's trapped inside the pit of your stomach, and you are desperately trying to keep it inside, way down there, because no it would not be OK to begin screaming at your desk at Corporate Job, Inc. It would be, in fact, Very Bad.

It was the first daytime panic I'd had in a long time. It followed me around all day, even to Stitch 'n Bitch, where I prattled on aimlessly about... I can't remember. Ridiculous nonsense. None of it matters. I was maybe a bit shrill.

Panic isn't new of course, and maybe it isn't panic at all? Just anxiety or horror or humiliation? The middle-of-the-night panic started up again about a month ago. Until then, things had really improved -- I was even sleeping more. Almost five hours a night.

Then just a few nights before Halloween (is it any coincidence? My anniversary was October 25) I sat bolt-upright in bed, couldn't breathe. Scared the cats half to death, I can tell you that. Sobakowa was not pleased.

The daytime panic is back, now, too. It's just under the surface. People can sense it. Realization of impending finality and actual divorce is fully a white-knuckle attempt to hold back a scream.

Which is crazy, right? I don't want him back. I don't want to go back in time. I've grown up, made new friends, learned to stop lying, stop pretending my life is perfect, stop forcing a broken relationship into a Christmas card mold, to hell with it, live out loud.

But still.
Panic.
Monday.
Can't stop it from coming (but I want to).

I have decided to deal with this problem the same way I deal with all problems: throw money at it. Usually I buy shoes, but this is a strong panic. Looking at my closet and all my cute shoes could not calm me down, not one bit, those boots, maybe were made for walking? That boy was a walkaway joe. Born to be a leaver tell you from the word go.

(I hope whatever I buy has no-interest financing. Because while I adore throwing money at a problem, it is significantly harder to do when there is no money.)

Posted by laurie at 1:18 AM

December 1, 2005

December 2005 Hor-O-Scopes

Last month I got a significant amount of email from nice Aries folks who feel that I am not giving their sign a fair shake, seeing as you-know-who is an Aries and all.

Well.

This led to some discussion at Stitch 'n Bitch (which is tonight by the way, West Hollywood Farmer's Market, 3rd and Fairfax) and after remarks about my crappy Aries prognostications from some nice Aries S-n-B knitters, a brilliant idea was stumbled upon. (This is what happens when you get me and Jen and Gwen talking about astrology over wine and yarn. Brilliance!)

So, I rosined up my bow and played my fiddle hard, chickens in the breadpan pickin' out dough (after all this time I still have NO IDEA what that means) and ... where were we? Oh! Horoscope brilliance! Well, this month each sign has the normal meandering, useless predictions as usual ... PLUS a bonus reading for Evil Exes. Yay! Problem solved!

I don't think I'll do this feature every month since there's only so many ways to say "You suck" in astro-lingo. But it's good for December, a.k.a. "Divorce Month," a.k.a. "Yes I am Spending Christmas Alone" month. Enjoy!

---

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Romance and love and depression are all one thing for you right now, one in the same. The holidays can be lonely and it's definitely the cruddiest time of year to be drinking morning coffee with the cat instead of your companion. But this is just ONE month out of MANY. Getting stuck in the glum will prevent you from enjoying the bright spots this season holds. Exhibit A: Sparkly lights and pretty things. Exhibit B: Half-off sales on the 26th and Exhibit C: Some serious chemistry between you and a date in the first few weeks of 2006. Things will look up, little Aquarian, don't despair. Unless you want to despair. In which case, um, I am right there with you. My drink of despair is a nice Beaujoulais, yours...?

IF YOUR EX IS AN AQUARIUS... Unlike the good side of Aquarius, those who can see both the grey clouds *and* the silver lining, you are just in the dark. Probably because the cloud hovering overhead is REALLY grey. And... probably about to dump rain on you. Too bad so sad!



PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
Been listening to a lot of music lately? Trying to avoid coming down with a bad case of Holiday Spirit, are you? I suspect all those song lyric cliches are keeping you from truly getting into the moment, living out loud the way we do nowadays. (I'm trying to start the Livin' Out Loud movement... like Scientology only not creepy. Less jumpy on the couchy.) You, pisces, are the psychic of the zodiac. Imagine for a moment that we are all zodiac siblings, a family of 12. You are our listener, the one who feels us. We need you in your true skin, not some put-on-made-up mantra for the season of grieving. Besides, that silver lining in your cloud goes so well with your candor and kindness. Live. Out. Loud! We need to hear what you have to say!

IF YOUR EX IS A PISCES... Actually, we don't need to hear what you have to say. We're happy when you Live Not Out Loud. Or become a Scientologist... which is probably what will happen. You may now commence jumping on the couch.




ARIES (March 21- April 19)

Like a heat-seeking radar, I am most jealous of you this month. I know you're getting it on. Even if it's just the metaphorical matress mambo. You are emphatically spicy. You have those middle-of-the-night dreams ... and these lingering looks ... and that sultry half-undone look of someone who is gonna get what she wants. You radiate enough heat this month to cook Christmas Dinner. Cook, darlin, and if they show up for the meal all the merrier. Metaphorically speaking. Ya'll know.

IF YOUR EX IS AN ARIES... This holiday season will be all about you you you. AGAIN. Happy! Exciting! Until the one night you wake up. And you are totally alone. And you reach across an empty bed and realize maybe the best years of your life have already passed, and your one true love is sleeping in a different house on the other side of the city, and you can never, ever get her back. Because even though you broke her heart, you did not break her. And she will never, ever love you again.

GOD THAT FELT GOOD TO SAY OUT LOUD.
Whoops! Back to hor-o-scopes! More astrology, less therapy!




TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
The U.S. Department of Holidays has declared this "Happy to be Me Month," in which you and YOU ONLY will finally release that pile of grudge, forget about the mean comment you overheard, stop chasing the one who can't remember your phone number and get a full 8 hours of sleep a night. Take a chance and follow the government’s decree of equal opportunity happiness. What do you have to lose besides stress headaches and premature aging? No Retin-A can cure the wrinkles of a thousand bitter grimaces. FREE THE SMILE WITHIN. Indeed.

IF YOUR EX IS A TAURUS... The U.S. Department of Holidays has just revoked your Happiness Card. Please proceed immediately to the "Audits" line, where we shall inventory your good and bad deeds. Thank you, drive through.




GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
Ever heard the old proverb, "She who holds a quarter between her knees never gets screwed." ? Um, well maybe it isn't a proverb, It might be one of my Grandma's famous sayings. (You really have to meet my grandma one day. She's a hoot and a holler!) Still, this proverb is profound in every way. If you are busy holding those knees together you'll have better posture. Better posture leads to better self-image. Better self image leads to ... possible loosening up. Which leads to... whoops! There goes the quarter! Twenty-five cents is a teetiny investment for such a big payoff. Agree?

IF YOUR EX IS A GEMINI... Take this quarter and call someone who cares. Then when that person doesn't answer, and you get the quarter back? You can put it in the place where there is no sunshine.



CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Ends - Beginnings - the stink of CHANGE. I loathe it. And since you're a Cancer, I know you loathe it, too. Just when you thought you had a grasp on 2005, you're a month from 2006! This makes you crazy, upside-down and ass-over-teakettle. It isn't easy to embrace the coming year and make holidays cozy if you're exhausted from all the denial, and frustrated by hanging on to your comfort zone. My dad was right when he said, "The only thing you can count on is change." Embracing this concept is a radical about-face for Crabs, but I guarantee you once you have fully accepted change as a natural condition, it will transform your whole outlook. Let's go have a nice glass of spiked cider and sit in a cozy room and wear something warm and then, when we feel ok, we'll all try to look forward to a new year of ass-over-teakettle. The good news is: We may actually see a few nice asses.

IF YOUR EX IS A CANCER ... Well, um. I am a Cancer. And I am an Ex. So I am pretty sure we defy the Ex Logic and we just rock all the time. Don't hate.


LEO (July 23 - August 22)
I broke out the thesaurus just for you. I found something in your size.... Fearless: Courageous, brave, unafraid, bold, undaunted, unflinching, daring, valorous, stout-hearted, bodacious, gutsy, confident, heroic, intrepid, spunky, ballsy. Yeah, try that on and see how you like it. What? Doesn't fit? Oh, you'd rather wear afraid, frightened, spineless, mousy and cowardly? Whatever. Then hear this one: Choice: option, free-will, pick, determination and desire. This is not easy. I can't tell you that choices are going to leave you feeling particularly ballsy, but you sure will know where your spine is. And it's a very nice spine, so pretty! We likey.

IF YOUR EX IS A LEO ... WE NO LIKEY.


VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
Fastidious. Controlled. Serious. hardworking. (Apparently I still have my thesaurus open from Leo, oops!) It's hard to keep up with your perfect standards when the rest of the zodiac is so freaking imperfect, eh? We never return your phone calls on time or send email to your satisfaction, and basically we just don't have our shit together. Then one day you wake up to a flood of needy voices. Phone calls. Letters, email en masse, knocking on the door, someone asking this or wheedling about that, obligations, responsibility, flossing. You just have no time! You are crazy madsick busy and the only thing you can possibly do to reserve any shred of sanity is lock yourself in the bathroom and yell. Now. (If it's any consolation, we only cling to you because we love you.)

IF YOUR EX IS A VIRGO ... Um, the other Virgos have people calling them all the damn time because they're so cool. You have people calling you and demanding things from you because you're ... well, probably a divorce lawyer. SLIME. In fact, I am sure you are a divorce lawyer or some other foul type of soul-sucker. We are going to stop calling you. Now.




LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
You are the vanguard of social change. Your lofty ideals of fairness and equality have yet to permeate the masses, and we're still pretty shallow and contemptuous. For example, I am truly embarrassed that I know every word to MANY Britney Spears songs. You are truly embarrassed that you know someone who knows Britney Spears lyrics. Embarrassment-by-association is one of those things I urge you to leave behind in the coming year. Besides, you have so much fighting spirit -- I'd like to see you champion some great cause or start a mini-rebellion against injustice... in comparison, embarrassment seems a little, um, embarrassing, wouldn't you say?

IF YOUR EX IS A LIBRA ... You are kind of embarrassing yourself, which is why you are now an EX.




SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)

I like your lips. You say what's on your mind and that's a change. Why don't others appreciate your candor? I dunno. Maybe you're rude. Maybe they aren't as enlightened as you are. I would say it's half and half. You're half blowsy and half brilliant, and they are half annoyed at your manners. So, in true peace-on-earth form, make some concessions this holiday season: I'll let you be witty and wise as long as you don't bite my head off and make acerbic remarks at my expense. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to ferret out the source of your anxiety and release it before the clock strikes midnight on Dec 31. Your reward: A new era of ass-kicking fueled by self-respect and my never-ending adoration. I do love me a Scorpio. I do!

IF YOUR EX IS A SCORPIO ... Way to go with the "pissing off of everyone who ever liked you." Yeah. Way to go, guy.




SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
Have you finished anything you started this past year? Ok, don't answer that question. You'll start to answer, sure, then get off on a tangent about why you got sidetracked, and before we know it we'll be halfway to next year and you'll still be ruminating over some perceived ill brought on by A: Your terrible financial situation B: Your family or C: something involving seduction. Just answer this: is there ONE thing you really regret NOT doing? Regret is a sneaky sucker who comes up from behind us and steals our happiness, bit by bit. Foul. Once you know what you will regret, the only true regret is being to lazy scared to go after it. If you managed to unravel that last sentence, you deserve to know this one final thing: 2006 has a lovely happiness waiting for you. You can get there. I know it.

IF YOUR EX IS A SAGITTARIUS ... No happiness awaits you in 2006 because you probably incurred some very bad karma and also, I can see your fung shui hanging out over your waistline and it IS NOT PRETTY.


CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
Let's play truth or dare. I'll tell you the truth about why you've been so cerebrally cramped lately, and then I dare you to break out the mental Motrin and be all the woman you can be. Or man. You get the idea. My mother used to say, "confession is good for the soul because it makes room for more sin." So confess away, baby, and make room for a full season of sin that starts with that one single dare, maybe an impulse buy? Something slinky or sparkly or soft, or write the email you've been too reserved to send, or read something naughty, do something in secret that makes you feel pampered. Then confess to someone about it and make room for even more sin! Blame it on Mercury which goes direct on December 3rd. (I had to add that last bit in to make this seem more legit for ya'll. I know how reasonable Cappies are!)

IF YOUR EX IS A CAPRICORN ... You're boring and kind of a tightwad and that's probably why you've been experiencing the worst constipation lately. Hope it all comes out in the end. HAH HAH.

Posted by laurie at 11:04 AM