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August 30, 2006

Two socks plan an insurrection.

Laundry day is a sad time in my home. The entire process begins long before the actual trip to the laundry room (a.k.a. my garage). Several days beforehand I contemplate the Great Underwear Crisis, weigh the options, poll the troops. Is it better to buy more or break down and wash what I have? Supplies run low. The troops get uneasy. The backup panties are called onto the scene.

Like all wars, this one is fought out amidst a backdrop of financial need. The perilously low bank balance signals our leader that the time to launder is now, since buying new underthings is just not a practical expenditure. Sacrifices must be made.

Laundry must be done.

The sleeping giants (a.k.a. housecats) have to be roused from their comfy perch atop Mount Laundry. Clothes hangers have to be untangled. (Did I tell ya'll I have a theory about this? It involves missing socks. I believe that all missing socks turn into coat hangers. Think about it. Have ya'll ever had a coat hanger shortage during an abundance of paired socks? The two do not intersect. It is a laundry day vortex. We are its innocent victims.)

Finally, the casualties of Laundry Day find themselves clinging perilously to the bottom of the pile: barrettes, movie stubs, gum wrappers. Like an archaeologist I sift through the remains, hoping to uncover a treasure. I once found the remote control there, fraternizing with a pair of jeans. It was a happy day.

The spoils of war get lugged off to the laundry room, where they wash and whirl and fluff and dry. Laundry Day comes to a close, with the Final Folding Summit. I survey the damage, and realize how close I came to being vanquished by a tower of dirty clothes that threatened to trap me inside my house forever.

I sigh with relief.

I have clean underwear. I am victorious. I have won the battle... for now.


Posted by laurie at 9:02 AM

August 29, 2006

A New Year, a new kind of list

Today is the first day of the rest of this year.

When I was about ten years old, a teacher gave me a book with the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" inscribed on the inside flap. I wish I could go back in time, find that person, and headbutt her for contributing to my already overdeveloped sense of fatalism.

So I usually find myself making lists and scrutinizing my life and sounding frighteningly Oprah-esque on the first day of the year (and on my birthday, of course, and during any life-altering event, including but not limited to bad haircut experiences, too much red wine, bitter breakups and even, once or twice, a movie with a tearjerker ending. Think "Untamed Heart." Sigh.)

This year is slightly different.

Instead of making lists of all the things I hope to accomplish this year ("play the guitar" "speak French like a Parisian" "cook without ruining pans and having to call for pizza and/or call 911 to put out fire") I decided to think about the few things I learned in 2001, in hopes of not repeating the past ad nauseum like some pink and girly version of "Groundhog Day."

Things I discovered in 2001:

1) Be careful who you trust. Be careful who you choose to befriend. Be very careful who you give your heart to.

2) Don't give anyone your phone number while intoxicated.

3) Green is not flattering for my skintone. Fine, I admitted it. Happy now Grandma?

4) If someone you're close to gossips about her other friends to you, don't fool yourself into thinking "She'd never talk about me like that behind my back, after all, we're such close friends." Good grief. Let me serve as a cautionary tale on this one: the way people treat others in the end, good or bad, is how they will treat you. So choose your close friends very carefully (see item #1).

5) Always wear your seatbelt.

6) Remember that when people say bad and inappropriate things, it's usually because they have issues and need therapy. It isn't your job to be anyone's bitch. It's not your job to please others. Repeat daily.

It's a short list, true. But an important one. I still have things I want to accomplish in 2002 ("get a full-body wax" "take a trip to Spain" "sell a story to a major magazine" "stop the tweezing insanity") but I can't help feeling ... lighter somehow. I am no closer to speaking fluent French or making a seven-course meal than I was last year, but now I am an expert knife-in-the-back-remover and a proficient salsa dancer, which is saying something.

Last year was a tough year for me. It might make a great sob story over a couple of margaritas, but to be honest, I'm just happy it's over. Happy to know the truth about people. Happy to know that even though things can really suck sometimes, they do eventually stop sucking, and I just keep on keeping on.

And honestly, isn't that a better skill than knowing how to flambé an egg?

Posted by laurie at 11:59 AM

Sign holding is a vocational option.

There's a guy who stands on the corner of 7th and Flower Streets every day holding a sign that says something about Jesus. I'm fascinated with this man, not for his message but for his commitment to standing on the corner of 7th and Flower day after day. He's not obtrusive or obnoxious. He just stands there and holds up his sign. He wears dark blue pleated pants, a plaid shirt and a zippered windbreaker in navy blue canvas twill.

I wonder how he manages to get by, financially, since his devotion to sign-holding clearly precludes having any kind of day job. And unlike many of the people you see standing on street corners down here, the sign man isn't holding out a change cup or asking anyone for money. He just stands there holding a wooden stick that is about three feet tall with white posterboard attached to the top of the stick. The signs are hand-lettered in blue magic marker.

Today he wasn't there.

I wondered if he was sick, and if anyone else had noticed he wasn't manning his self-appointed post. I hoped he was just busy, or maybe trying out a new corner. Suddenly, I felt sad. His commitment to his chosen profession was oddly touching, and I didn't want him to have given up hope, given up on trying to accomplish his goals, given up on sign-holding.

Posted by laurie at 11:40 AM

Wherein I have a bread-related epiphany

I never realized how hard it is to find a perfect foundation. This is exactly what the scientists who mapped the structure of DNA must have felt like.

Foundation is one of those things I use when I'm 1) going out somewhere special or 2) having a Zelda day or 3) want to spackle something on so I can indulge my Nora Charles fantasies.

Ya'll, I am not right. The Nora Charles issue is almost exactly like my Kitty Carlisle obsession. It involves wearing evening gowns around the house at all hours, and having a floor-length nightgown and robe with marabou feathers on the sleeves. In these outfits I would banter with my cosmopolitan paramour (Nick, of course) in continuous snappy dialogue and tote around a dog that never seems to poop. And solve mysteries that all end in hijinks.

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Conversations in my crazyhead, #72:

Me: Pass me a drink dahling. I feel positively parched.

Imaginary Nick:

Me: Oh this old thing? Just my dressing gown...
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If none of this is making a damn bit of sense to you right now, I insist you back away from the keyboard and run -- do not walk -- to the nearest video store and rent The Thin Man. It's an old black-and-white movie from 1934. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, even though I discovered it by accident (some sixty-odd years after it was actually popular, but whatever).

The Thin Man is basically a detective caper with a hipster cool couple named Nick and Nora solve crime and drink a lot, and they had a dog that became famous. (Notice I'm putting the movie title in bold, but only the first reference. Then somehow switching to italics. I don't know why this is. Perhaps I need to brush up on my AP style book. Moving along.)

Nick is this tall, dashing guy in impeccable suits who used to be a detective until he married the adorable Nora, tall and sophisticated in impeccable dresses, who is very rich and elegant but kind of goofy and sweet. The swanky pair drink a lot and get hangovers and have that snappy dialogue that movies from the thirties always seem to have. "Ah, you don't say!" and "Nick, you're a terrible cad!"

There's a whole series of Thin Man films, one of which taught me some monumental bread-related history:

In the second installment, The Return of The Thin Man, Nick is in his twin bed and Nora is in her twin bed (because of course they had separate beds in the same room like all normal married people) (anyway) and there she is in her floor-length nightgown and he in his striped pajamas as she cajoles him into making her some eggs and toast.

So they troop down to the kitchen (he wears slippers, she's wearing mules with a kitten heel). Once in the kitchen, Nick tells Nora, "I'll get the eggs if you'll slice the bread."

You see, she has to slice the bread for the toast. Slice the bread. Because there was no pre-sliced bread.

This totally stumped me. I had to rewind the scene about four times and savor it all over again. I'd heard all my life that little saying, "Oh this is the greatest invention since sliced bread!" or "Well, that's as clever as sliced bread!" but I thought that buying bread already sliced was something people invented right along with electricity. I had no idea that in the 1930s people could make actual talking movies but hadn't yet gotten the wonderbread pre-sliced concept down pat.

Who says you can't learn anything from TV?


Posted by laurie at 11:07 AM

August 28, 2006

I Knit, Therefore I Am (buying a bunch of plastic containers to organize my yarn habit)

Who throws herself into a frenzy of decluttering and organization by going to Target and purchasing one bajillion clear plastic containers to hold her perfect, lovely, smellorific yarn?

A knitter, of course.

And who can sit in a house with dishes that need washing and a pile of laundry and a carpet that is desperately trying to grow hairball hands which will dial CPS (Carpet Protective Services) so someone will vaccuum its neglected surface and rather than attend to these dire issues, who will carefully and methodically scrutinize balls of yarn into piles for HOURS? Who will ask the immortal questions: Should I put this wool into ziploc baggies before storing it in the plastic tubs? Should all orange yarns go into one bin, even though some are tragically tacky? Should all art yarns live together or just blue yarns? Can one truly knit anything with this discontinued Patons Up Country seeing as once a knitted item is complete THERE WILL BE A SHORTAGE OF YARN?

Who does that?

Only a yarn-hoarding crazy knitter, of course. That's who.


Posted by laurie at 9:22 AM

August 26, 2006


All the sudden it dawned on me that tonight marks exactly two years to the day that Mr. X looked at me across a plate of spaghetti and said, "I think we should talk."

That is never the beginning of a good story.

And on September first he was moved out and one day I will tell you about that, how an hour can burn a person's heart and how I learned to breathe lonely and what those first days, weeks, months were made of. But right now I want to tell you about this very minute, because I am on my lovely patio in my adored city and I am alone, but the crickets are here of course. And I now know you can be a woman so set in your path, so sure of the vision you hold for your life, and you think you will never ever be put back together again when the picture breaks, when someone says "I am leaving."

You ask yourself, What if a broken bone doesn’t mend, and merely causes you trouble each winter?

Maybe I will turn ninety years old and think about that because you don't forget, but I know this: you do not break. You just don't. I could never have looked forward and seen myself, the woman I am right now. I could never have envisioned someone so committed to living honest (not after so many years of lying, pretending that my marriage was good, lying even to myself that we would someday miraculously plug back into each other and be intimate and kind and a good, happy couple.) I could not have seen myself as a fiscally capable woman, and yet I am. I could not see myself as a single woman, yet I am. I thought if I failed I would be shamed. I thought I had failed beyond imagination.

I'm not sure exactly when it stopped defining me ("divorced") and started being an adjective. Maybe after Paris? I started dating, sometimes with disastrously hilarious results, and I felt more at home in my own skin and it was very slow. I'm not always there, the place we hope to arrive at. We desperately hope that things will get better but we need assurance, need to know what better looks like and when it will arrive. I do not have that certainty yet, but I do know this is Better. And better yet is still to come.

It always does. It always, always gets better. It mends. You do not break. You have sometimes disastrously hilarious results, but you do not break.

Posted by laurie at 9:43 PM

August 24, 2006

Clean up in aisle four please!

I loved all the responses to yesterday's ditty about Jack and Diane and oh, yeah, my eleventeen tons of junk. Unfortunately, I spent nine hours in an off-site meeting so I couldn't respond until late last night and by then I was maybe too tired and cabernet to make any sense. However, I picked out a couple of things to follow up on today and if ya'll have advice you want to share on how you find inspiration and motivation to declutter, please spill it!

I love to talk about decluttering way more than I love to do it, but I find it inspires me enough to keep trudging through.


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June wants to know: "So... are you throwing away? Donating? Yard sale?"

I am throwing away the junk I don't need (Goodbye, ValPack mailer from four months ago!) and donating some things and then having a yard sale with the rest. The books go to Dutton's Used Book Store for credit. I do tend to buy books both for myself and as gifts for others, so this one makes sense for me. My goal isn't to live a monastic life with zero posessions, it's merely to have less volume, so I am sure I will still buy books and continue the cycle of accumulate-declutter until I up and croak.

Selling things on ebay and amazon works for a lot of people, but if you are maybe one of the kind folks still waiting for me to send you something I promised back in, uh, April? 2005? Yes. You know why these options don't seem very logical for me, She Who Mails Infrequently.

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Mia says: "Norton's? NO NO NO NO You are not allowed to throw that out. It contains the best bits of our language. Just joyfully enjoy your stuff. Isn't that enough?"

I love the idea of joyfully appreciating my things.

I used to think that if my life's posessions could just anchor me to this world a little longer, I'd be so thankful. I felt a comfort and peace in being surrounded by my stuff, and I loved the weight of it all. Maybe that's why I accumulated so much? Maybe that's why I shopped when I was lonely, and Mr. X and I moved to a bigger house every few years, ready to be filled with even more stuff. As if it could hold us to a promise.

Somewhere along the line, though, something changed.

Maybe I reached Maximum Stuff Capacity, or maybe I got less sad inside, or maybe I just got old and lazy, or maybe I just had TOO MUCH STUFF but I am no longer enjoying it. I want my life to be lighter. I'm not passing judgement, Mia. I know what works for me doesn't work for you, or maybe anyone, but I really need this right now, to be a little lighter, a little freer. Mostly, I want less stuff to maintain, clean, repair, dry clean, hem, dust, and wash. I want to keep the lovely things that I cherish, but I also want to entertain visitors without having to deep clean for forty solid hours ahead of time.

I might miss Mr. Norton, true, but he and I haven't been intimate since 1992 anyway. I was such a slut back then! I was with all the Mr. Nortons. Even the poetic one -- sheesh!

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Cursingmama says: "Oooh - and do you ever watch Clean Sweep and go all crazy for like 15 minutes on something trying to get it organized and then give up and leave a bigger mess than when you started? Me neither."

Ha! You have just described an average Sunday afternoon in Chez Crazy! I do this all the time. I am a silly woman.

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I thought this was really a great way to think about de-cluttering: "I must go back to my original thought of, 'If I were to move to France (my ultimate goal) what would I have to take with me?'" That's a quote from Molly who apparently has read my mind.

I do secretly fantasize about moving to France, or Spain, or Norway, or Boston, or more specifically I fantasize about moving to Gloucester, Massachusetts and becoming the filling in a George Clooney/Mark Wahlberg/Perfect Storm sandwich.

I am not right in the head.

Yet, that is my fantasy.

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Reader "K" wants to know, "And by the way, if you have any guidelines for getting rid of things that work in the real world, would you pass them on?"

Yeeps. I think you have to find some sort of system that works for you, but here is what I have discovered is helpful for me in my ongoing Quest To Not Be Pinned Under Eight Tons Of Junk.

1) Get inspired.
This sounds dorky, but ya'll consider the source. Anyway, for inspiration I will Tivo shows about decluttering, cleaning, decorating and even travel shows (because, hey, if I had less stuff maybe I would travel more! right?). I need to see a world of possibility outside the confines of my own home and get out of my head long enough to size up the situation. My favorite source of televised inspiration these days is "Small Space, Big Style" on HGTV. I love it!

But nothing is more inspiring than a trip to the biggest bookstore nearby, where I go with the sole intent of not purchasing a single item -- but to sit on the floor surrounded with books on decorating and organizing and decluttering and cleaning and simple, gorgeous living spaces photographed in luscious color. It makes me want to go home and prettify the house in whatever way I can.

2) Inertia can be cured by doing one small thing.
I never, ever have energy for housecleaning after work. I might do a load of laundry if I'm desperate, or I might wash the cat bowl or a wine glass, but generally speaking I don't rush home after working nine hours and commuting three hours and break out the mop. (Do I even own a mop?) I will vaccuum because of the fur issue, but I like vacuuming. More correctly, I am in love with James Dyson and have been lobbying unsuccessfully for months to get the marriage laws changed so I can get hitched to my Dyson. It's purple.

So weekends are my best shot for a declutterizing frenzy. Tell that to my ass, however, which prefers to be seated comfortably on a patio chair with a book and a glass of wine. Therefore, to overcome my inertia, sometimes I pick one small task to get my declutter engine running. This has to be something VERY simple, so I don't get distracted and end up at Ikea two hours later shopping for placemats and magazine holders and a new rug. AS IF THAT WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

So, pick a tiny task such as: Organize the Q-tips. Clean the silverware drawer. Throw away all socks with holes/bad elastic/that you hate. Same with underwear drawer. Something small and completely achievable, so you feel like, "Cool! Look how freaking productive I am!! I rock!! I shall go forth and conquer the vegetable crisper now!!" And you do this consistently over time and let's pray in unison it works, because I'm a work in progress myself. Amen.

3) Put it out of sight
For the first round of my decluttering, I was maybe not ready to say a permanent goodbye to things. So I packed them in boxes, placed them in the garage and wrote YARD SALE on labels for each one.

Two months passed.

Then three. And then five. Then came yard sale day and I just hauled out the boxes and let it all go. By then I had forgotten what was packed away, and since I hadn't needed it in almost six months it really had no purpose in my overstuffed life.

This works for me because I have a scary garage I rarely go into, and because packing up little bits and pieces at a time and storing them in the dark garage did the trick. Your mileage may vary. You may need to get it out of your world THIS VERY MINUTE so you don't re-hoard it.

4) Why am I doing this?
The final and most important thing for me is to remind myself this is all about having a better life, a good life, a happy and low-stress and low-maintenance life.

I will die one day. I don't want to lay in the hospital in a ratty gown with tubes in my arm and wonder if folks will be horrified by the boxes of crap in my home office. I want to pass on thinking I lived my life the best I could, and that I was free to move to Gloucester and ... uh. You know. Perfect Storm sandwich. I was free to be smooshed between George and Marky Mark because I was traveling light.

Traveling light! With a slight patina of cat hair.

That's the goal, anyway.

Posted by laurie at 10:07 AM

August 23, 2006

Clutterella and the four furballs of the Apocalypse

Dear People Who Clean House A Lot,

Want to come over? And clean house in a new, exciting place that has interesting, exotic wildlife and many nooks and crannies?

I have wine.

Your pal,

What happened to me? Me of the frantic married-life vacuuming and cleaning the toaster and dusting the ice cubes? OH HOW TIMES CHANGE. I blame my fallen housekeeper status on the long commute, and maybe also on Mr. X, because that is always convenient! And probably on politicians, too, so we have all the bases of blame fully covered.

Hey ya'll. My house is a mess.

Every day I blame this mess on the aforementioned issues but really it might also kind of have to do with the fact that I live in a teetiny place with a whole lot of stuff and cats who don't lift a damn finger to help me out.

Also! Did I ever mention that I totally missed my calling as a peeping tom? If only 'peeping tom' didn't have such a negative connotation, what with the sexual perversity and sneakiness and bad raincoat and dirty old men and so on, because really I do love looking inside people's lives. I like to see their houses and what's on their kitchen tables, and how they managed to make their TV set look always somehow better than mine does in my own living room. I often stare at my TV set and wonder why it never seems to look right in the room, no matter where I put it.

Mostly I am speaking of a decorator peeping tom here. Like, more of a peeping Christopher Lowell.

Luckily, there is this new thing called the internets where people will freely post pictures of their whole house! I discovered this on flickr, where I spent way too much time last night looking inside people's living rooms and feeling like I really, really need to move or perhaps not spend time online looking at pictures when I should be cleaning and de-cluttering my house.

One day in the bookstore I was poking through the selection of knitting books when I found this:


It was misplaced, obviously, but because I am Crazy and believe in things like Signs (and Gnomes), I took this book to be a Sign and walked right up to the register, purchased it and went home.

(Ha ha! Don't you think it's rather odd to purchase a thing so you can learn how to get rid of your stuff? Boy, some people will buy ANYTHING. SUCKERS!)

This book, Scaling Down by by Judi Culbertson and Marj Decker, is subtitled "Living Large in a Smaller Space." Hey, that describes me to a tee! I live in a small house, and I have a large backyard, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

A few months after I moved into Chez Clutterbug, I began the long and arduous process of scaling down. Well, it was a necessity, really, since you couldn't move in the office what with boxes stacked floor-to-ceiling and I couldn't find anything, and I sort of feared that an earthquake would come and bury me, four cats and eleventy hundred pairs of shoes in a tomb of marital accumulations. (You can read about some of those adventures in paring down here, here and here.)

In the 19 months since I have lived in this little house, I have managed to pare down my stuff by almost half. Half! And I don't miss any of it, to be honest. The paring down kind of stopped after my last big yard sale last year, but I wasn't really done... I was just at a place where I could stand still for a while without junk nibbling at my ankles.

Then Drew came to visit last week. It was maybe the first time I had really looked closely at my house in months, and I am insanely busy with work and have no time to clean house and I stressed myself out about the level of ick and dust and all of it, and that is when I made the decision once and for all to get rid of ONE HALF of all my stuff.

Except yarn and cats of course.

It's not that I will actually accomplish this (I may have made the proclamation to clear my life by half while drinking. I am now fully cogent and assure you, it's not realistic) but it's a great goal. I need goals! Goals keep you moving ever forward, zenward, clutterlessward!

So, last night in a fit of anticlutter brought on by my internet peeping tomism, I cleaned out my bookcases and actually eliminated half of the books (Do I still need my Norton's Anthology of Literature from freshman year in college? No. I do not. Ditto "Let's Go Spain: 1996" and "Hotels in Prague, 2001") and afterwards I felt free and light as a feather.

I am going to keep doing this and paring away, scaling down, until I reach a place where it is no longer hard to clean my house and where I can move to another house or city without requiring assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers.

And if you want to come over and clean, hey -- I wouldn't turn you away. Cabernet with your clutter? Check! Pinot grigio with your swiffer mop? check check!

Exotic wildlife? check, check, check, check. Meh.

Posted by laurie at 8:42 AM

August 22, 2006

The Hunger Artist

Naturally, the best hours for sleeping are always those few hours very early in the morning when you know you should be closer to waking, but the room is dark and cool and the quilt is warm and you're in that perfect spot on the bed, legs pulled in, sleeping on your side, toes poking out from under the edge of the covers. It's still quiet out and you're dreaming, content. Before long the alarm clock will sound and the dream you want to hold onto will fade and...

... and oh yeah EXCEPT YOU CAN'T SLEEP because of this:

I shall stare at you until you feed me bacon.

Posted by laurie at 10:50 AM

August 21, 2006

While we're on the subject.

Oh I was going to write something here about my cat, or how for the first time in WEEKS I took the bus this morning and was adequately prepared enough for the experience that I managed to bring both my ipod AND knitting bag and knitted at least twenty whole rows on a scarf (not too shabby, pre-coffee), and maybe some other thing about that time I went to that one place.

Well. Tomorrow is another day.

Because I was thinking about something. I do understand sometimes, especially in an online diary, one might get slightly nervous if one suspects the author has become a woman who sits all alone in a room feeling lonely and sad and cutting up pictures from Bride magazine and waiting desperately to get married.

So! Hello! Let me assure you I am not sitting locked in a room with four cats and a jug of wine and a stack of glossy bridal magazines, scissors poised above in a psycho-esque manner while Patsy belts it out on the stereo.

The simple truth is there are days (mostly nights) when I get lonely and I want love in my life. In my weak moments I confess my loneliness to you like penance. Sometimes I would give my right arm for someone to hold onto me real tight and watch TV, or make dinner, or do nothing at all. My fantasies are so tiny: having someone hug you from behind as you wash a plate, holding hands, tucking your toes under someone's leg as you sit on the sofa, tiny completely small things. I wouldn't say this is an all-day-every-day feeling. It comes in waves, especially right after Drew leaves or after I visit with my family because it's so nice to have someone in my house, someone to talk to, someone who loves and understands me.

Used to be that any emotion even slightly unpleasant would make me want to run for cover, I would do anything to make it go away. This is why we vacationed so much, and went into debt doing it. When I was married and lonely (and yes, ya'll are right, that is the worst kind of alone) I would vaccuum the whole house top to bottom including the toaster and the silverware drawer just to stay occupied. I can remember waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and stripping all the linens off the beds, washing every single towel and pillow case and sock in the entire house just out of the sheer need to stay in motion, too busy to think about how I felt inside.

But here is what I have learned: There is no action item, no to-do list, there is nothing at all that has to be done with the way I feel. I do not have to hide from it, or run, or make it go away, or keep my chin up, or do anything with bootstraps, or be anything but what I am that very minute.

It's perfectly OK to just sit with a thing.

Getting divorced was clearly not the happy ending I had envisioned for my marriage, but man alive I have learned some things. I learned how to really feel something, even something unpleasant, and still get up the next morning and do my hair and go to work and look forward to life because this feeling, however awful and uncomfortable, is just something you breathed through and you did not break and you're just human anyway. And tomorrow really is another day.

You just kind of need some loving sometimes. And that is a-okay. And luckily you aren't cutting out pictures of brides in fat, shiny wedding magazines and planning a hope chest and dressing your cats in small bridal party replica gowns.

Although that would be kind of funny, and something to really write about on a Monday morning.


Posted by laurie at 10:10 AM

August 18, 2006

Single male seeks fitness-minded gal for possible LTR


Posted by laurie at 12:02 PM

Tumped over.

I am average.

I don't mean that as a self-deprecating comment, I am pleased as pie to be average, a woman who is the average height (five feet four inches) and average weight (well, plus thirty pounds, maybe) and average income, average driving habits, average vices, perhaps a more-than-average backside but whatever, and yet there is one average I never counted on. (Being divorced, of course.)

These days I think a lot about loving. You'd suppose that based upon my recent history I might think a lot about self-advancement or fun places to vacation or Getting Back At Him or should I lose weight? But mostly I think about loving.

I forget that for many women quiet nights alone are a luxury, when your spouse is away on business and the kids mysteriously, magically end up at camp or a sleepover, and you have a whole evening of unbroken silence and it is a glorious thing. I forget this because every night is unbroken silence unless I actively make it full with plans and of course, that isn't always plausible.

I'm not complaining.

Every evening just before I fall asleep I list to myself and whatever heavenly ear might be listening the very things I am grateful for: my family, friends, good health, three and a half happy cats, a great job, presence of mind not to stalk my ex, my successes however small. Then I ask God to bring love into my life, and I don't even know what I want that love to look like or be, just that I need some love. Something small and kind and true. Luckily my God can decipher wine-drunk pleas.

I think we often confuse the need for love with the idea that we don't appreciate the things we've got. I do appreciate them. I am thankful. I am just so very alone that sometimes I overflow with it, inversely proportional to those times you desperately need your alone time, just need some damn peace and quiet. If it's not in balance, you know. Too much of one thing and not enough of another.

Of course there's no use in bemoaning a thing like loneliness because you know that life is a law of averages and we hope to reach stasis at some point, a decent mix of quiet and together whatever that may be. Maybe the only way to appreciate a thing is to go without it for a while. I complain anyway, even if just to myself because I have told myself often enough that "complaining burns calories," so I wonder why the hell I'm not twelve pounds soaking wet.

Small things really, that's what you miss. The cruel trick of being human is that you sometimes get maudlin and reminisce about things that weren't that great at the time. But Lord, the feeling of getting in bed beside someone warm and smelling of sleep, the tiniest happiness of walking through a door after a long day and knowing someone is there waiting for you. The idea that after a very long, hard week you couldn't just get in your 1995 Jeep and fill it up with gas and drive, drive all night to a Waffle House and smoke cigarettes like you never quit and eat bad steak for breakfast and drive on down to El Paso or Denver or wherever the hell you end up, no, you can't do it because someone (anyone) would miss you that night. That is something you can't count on. You could be in Rosarita by dawn and no one would be the wiser.

Sounds like paradise to some. Makes you wonder what average lonely is. Makes you wonder when (if) it ends.

Posted by laurie at 12:01 AM

August 17, 2006

Terror Level: TORTIE


Posted by laurie at 10:28 AM

August 16, 2006

Calling all designers!

I got an email last week ("Hello world, I am at least one week behind on email, at most just 10-12 months behind. Don't mind me. Love, Crazy Lady.") Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes. The email:

Dear Laurie,

I have a great opportunity for your readers and anyone else you know who designs knitting/crochet patterns. I am helping Accord Publishing gather designs for their Knitting Pattern-a-Day and Crochet Pattern-a-Day calendars.

Please include the following information in your blog if you feel like it. It would be a great help to me!

Bella Web Design, Inc. and Accord Publishing are looking for new and creative designers to contribute to the 2008 Knitting Pattern-a-Day and Crochet Calendar-a-Day publications. We are looking for 320 submissions by January 1, 2007. If you are interested, please go to www.knittingpatternaday.com and submit your design and at least one image. (If you can't take a picture of it, you can send the item to Accord Publishing and they will take one for you).

Each submission will receive a free copy of the calendar you submitted a design for. You can submit as many designs as you want. This is a great way to get your designs in a publication that is read worldwide and get some recognition for your talents.

Any questions can be emailed to submissions@knittingpatternaday.com or submissions@crochetpatternaday.com or you can call Desiree Scales at 888-716-9524 for more information.

I know that a lot of ya'll have designed all kinds of yarn-based items that are yarnalicious and yarntastic and need to be published! I believe you should take over the world, one pattern at a time.

You may ask where I will be as you conquer the world with your yarnifigance. Well, glad you asked! I shall be your yarnaudience, your fun(fur)peanut gallery. And this peanut gallery will come stocked with a full bar and lots of snacks. And probably some cat hair, if we're being yarntruthful here.

Vintage 'Sobakowa Inspects Yarn' image courtest of Her Mighty Dictator Graphics, Inc.

Posted by laurie at 9:04 AM

August 15, 2006

In other news, the TSA bans all carry-on toothpaste, hair gel and snakes on the plane

Yesterday I was dead tired from my exciting weekend, so I just gave you the highlights. Part of the reason I was so tired was because of this:

Bob T. Cat

Ya'll know I do love him, because he's so cute and fuzzy-faced and while he has the I.Q. of a cabbage, he's really the sweetest tempered cat you can imagine.

Only, not real bright. And also, afraid of everything including you, me, shoes, air and his own tail.

So combine the fear and a big, 6-foot-four tall Texan male traveler with the rather simple quality Bob has, and you get this: Bob hiding under the bed from the time I walk in the door with Drew, which is around 5 p.m. that first evening. We chitchat and have dinner and hang out and finally, many hours and wineglasses later, we go to bed. Drew is staying in my room, and I am in the spare room and we've literally been asleep for like a minute and a half, because it was that sort of weekend, when sometime in the 4 a.m. hour one Bob T. Cat DISCOVERS THERE IS A STRANGE MAN SLEEPING IN THE BED. And he comes into the hallway and the guest room to find me and he is meow-crying in alarm because C'mon guys! Wake up! There's an intruder in the bedroom! Ya'll wake up! Please, meow?

Sobakowa was not happy. She likes her beauty sleep.

And so Bob carries on in a rather dramatic the-sky-is-falling manner, and I finally calm him down and he's laying beside me and I'm petting him and I fall back asleep.


Because without me petting him, Bob gets bored and wanders out into the hallway, and tries real hard to remember why he came in the guest room, and he's a little sleepy so maybe he ought to go to bed so he goes into the bedroom to get some much-needed sleep and then OH MY GOD THERE IS A STRANGE MAN IN THE BED.

And he proceeds to repeat the whole meow-alarm-wake-up-ya'll routine, and I calm him down, and he forgets why he was upset and I fall blessedly back asleep and wash, rinse, repeat FIVE MORE TIMES.

He is just not smart. At all. And apparently neither am I because it didn't occur to me to just make Drew shut the bedroom door but whatever, it was 4 a.m. and I was likely still tipsy. Whoops!

Also, I cannot believe I had the CROCHET dude here and didn't learn to crochet because have ya'll see this pattern? It's this little wine glass holder coaster thingy that looks like a flipflop! OH MY GOD the cuteness.

Get the free pattern here.

And finally, I know I sort of forgot to mention that our whole division at work moved to a different floor. But we did, and it's closer to the gound level by about ten stories which makes me, Paranoid Of Earthquakes Girl, much happier, and also I have a window office which I love. But anyway, this morning there is a movie crew filming something on the street corner visible outside my window many, many stories down below right and I can literally hear the honking of every mad downtown driver from here. Los Angeles. We are happy about our movie stars and swimming pools, but we really would like you to film somewhere else now and stop blocking traffic. Honk!


Posted by laurie at 8:50 AM

August 14, 2006

Like Motel 6, only fuzzier


Why people want to traipse across this great nation and stay with me is really just a mystery. Because try as I might (which, to be honest, might not be enough) I truly am a poor excuse of a housekeeper and someone someday is going to have to haul in the Jaws Of Life to unclench me from a furball in the darker recesses of my house. But whatever. I have plenty of booze, so I guess folks will put up with four cats and some other oddities because the drinks are flowing and the hostess thinks she's Blanche Dubois. Which can be damn funny if you drink enough.

Although it did sort of reach a new low in the "Welcome, guests and weary travelers" department when I told Drew, who was possibly tired and hot and covered in travel goo, that he couldn't take a shower until I washed a load of towels. Nice! Followed by, "Oh, darlin, don't go in that room... it's scary in there."

Then of course I plied him with alcohol and put on a load of wash and all was right in the world. Welcome to Chez Colorful!

While Drew was here, we went to the West Hollywood Saturday mornin' Stitch-n-Bitch. It was so much fun! We had coffee and chitchatted and I spent most of the time making a center pull ball out of a big yarn thingamajiggy and I oohed and aaahed 'em with my powers of BALL MAKING. Hey, I never claimed to be a great knitter, but I am a great ball maker. It's an underappreciated talent, ya'll.

On the left, there's Ellen and Ana and Christine posing for the camera lady, and on the right there's Cory and Kendra enduring my stalkage.

(Click for bigger images):

I have to tell ya'll, I may be shy and dorky and not good with saying normal things, but I do really enjoy seeing folks at s-n-b. Please be patient with those of us who are bad at socializing, like perhaps me. OH MY GOD, also, Annika, I am so sorry I am a dumbass.

Me: Oh, I've never seen your little baby!

Annika: Yes, well, I usually leave him at home with Will.

Me: Oh, right. Yes. Well, of course. Because babies aren't formed yet. So I guess they can't stay home by themselves.


Me: He's a cute little booger, though. Isn't it funny how all babies look stoned?


Me: (silently to myself) Holy shit I need to stop talking outloud. Right now.
Me: (out loud) I need to stop talking outloud. Whoops.

Then I remembered I had video taking capabilities on my camera and promptly began to stalk people with the camera in a whole new way, which once again reminds me that I should just STOP TALKING in general, what with the generally squeaky and redneck nature of my voice and also, I do say some staggeringly dumb things. Oh well.

Video #1:
Wherein cracker crazy camera lady terrorizes nice people who knit and crochet.

Video #2:
Wherein Ellen is a good sport and talks to me about crochet, except I stood too far back and ya'll can barely hear her for part of it but that's my fault because I am not so good with techmology. [As of noon, this one says "still uploading" and I do not know why. Hopefully it will magically heal itself and start working soon.]

Video #3:
Wherein I SWEAR TO GOD I said the word "LEI" not "LAY." I mean really people. I even manage to embarrass myself when I am talking to myself. THAT IS TALENT.

So he left yesterday and of course I cried all the way home from the airport, I just hate good-byes. I miss Drew when I don't see him and somehow even more when I do see him, because it reminds me he'll be leaving again soon.

This weekend, however, I did try to convince everyone about sixty-two times to either A: Make him move here or B: Begin a mass migration to some new city where we take over an entire neighborhood and/or city block and start a compound of knitters, crocheters and crazy people and we could have a yarn co-op and rotate cat-sitting for each other and generally drink and carrouse and carry on in the kinship of friends. In a city we take over by sheer force of will. Who's on board?

And speaking of carry on, I think one day we'll all be boarding airplanes in our underwear and paper surgical gowns and they'll have to give you a valium and/or bourbon IV just to help you endure the flight, but Drew was a good sport and didn't bitch and complain about the whole OH MY GOD TOOTHPASTE COULD EXPLODE nature of airplane travel. Unlike me, who complained freely about it all weekend even though I have no travel plans at all for the next 800 years.

But I do have clean towels now, and ya'll that is a glorious thing.

Posted by laurie at 11:50 AM

August 11, 2006

And I have the six-inch claw mark to prove it.


Posted by laurie at 10:42 AM

August 10, 2006

Knit handbags at Target

One of these days I am so going to get hauled off to Target Jail for taking pictures inside the store. Of course that will give me something to bond over with my neighbors. Hah... I said bond! I'm already thinking like a criminal.

Does your Target have this display of cute knitted purses? I saw them over the weekend at the store on Sepulveda, just north of Burbank Blvd. in Sherman Oaks.


They're cute, sure, but mostly I was frothing because this is good news for knitters if Target is out there carrying knit handbags! Maybe this is a sign of good things to come, folks demanding all sorts of knit items. More demand means more knitting. (Ok, yes, I am not totally braindead and I do realize these bags were machine knit, most likely, but still! Let a girl dream!)

These are lined, which I'm guessing helps keep their shape. And they aren't pricey -- $14.99 each.





Doesn't that last bag look just like the one Elisha Cuthbert is wearing in her delightful Go Fug Yourself pic?

Posted by laurie at 12:37 PM

August 9, 2006

Better than watching paint dry. Just barely.

Do not ask me why on earth I thought these videos would be interesting to anyone, and also can I add that folks on the bus must have seen me do some mighty strange things in our time together because not one passenger batted an eye when I whipped out my camera and video captured the bus ... driving. In traffic. Really, when I told you it was boring I was kind of being generous in praise.

But this boringness is to offset the WHITE TRASH DRAMA MAGNET that is me, yours truly. Do you have time for the tee tiniest story before I show you the boringest videos?

Last night I went on a d-a-t-e and it was actually real nice, we had a nice time, he's got potential so ya'll don't ask me questions and jinx it because I will tell you nothing, nothing! Except that he opened doors for me and took me on a proper date so you know. It was nice. I came home pleased as pie.

So I am on the phone deconstructing said date and basking in ensuing nice happy warm feeling with one Jennifer, who I swear knows all my secrets and must never be allowed to fall into the hands of enemy bloggers. It would be bad. And we are chitchatting as we do (it sounds like this: Jen says, "And I can't believe how the Dyson really does pick up more than other vacuum cleaners, and I emptied the canister and now I realize why you vacuum so much..." and I say, "He's nice. Do you think I am too crazy and drive off nice men?" Jen: "You are not crazy, crazylady. Of course not. Then I vacuumed again, I think the level of clean is at an all-time high..." Me: "Thank God you finally bought a Dyson, oh I don't think he loves and adores cats. By the way, I kind of didn't let him on to the plural nature of the herd members..." Jen: "That's best for now." Unison: "Thank God for Dyson.")

And she and I are chitchatting in this manner, which is to say we have two different conversations happening at the same time, and then someone shuffles up to my front door AT MIDNIGHT. Drunker than a skunk. Smoking a Marlboro red with the ash about sixteen feet long. AT MIDNIGHT.

"Can you help me?" It's Julie, Crackhead Bob's girlfriend and cousin.

"Are you OK?" Me, and Jen is on the phone hearing it.

"Blur blurbuly slushher slur."

"Ah, Jen, can I call you right back?"

And of all the people in the nighborhood, I was the lucky one to be pulled into their vortex of crazy and I swear I do not know how I manged to get up this morning, seeing as I was up until two a.m. and we were thisclose to having to call the law. So, I will not go into long detail because really it is all sort of sad and unpleasant, but here is what I have discovered:

A: I always THINK I am crazy and eccentric and three and a half minutes from talking into my bra while directing traffic in my nightgown, but when you see real crazy it's kind of comforting. Because you realize that you, meaning me, maybe are a little off your rocker but hell. You are not standing at a stranger's door with your shorts half-unbuttoned and slurring into a can of Natural Light at midnight on a Tuesday.

B: Thank God.

C: And also maybe you realize that for all the California, wheatgrass, yoga, Starbucks and silicone of this city, THERE ARE REDNECKS EVERYWHERE. Next time someone wants to mock me for being a cracker, I plan to haul 'em over to Bob and Julie's house. COUSINS for chrissake. Makes me look practically genteel.

D: Friends like Jennifer are good to have in times of peril, and also of course in times of not-peril, but in this case we're in peril-ish, because she got on the horn and called 311 (the non-emergency 911) with something like, "Um, my friend? She had to go help this woman who was drunk and her boyfriend who is also her cousin set the house on fire once, have any 911 calls come in like that? From Encino? Because Laurie is not answering her cell!"

E: Isn't that the best friend EVER? I love you, Jen.

After this little story, you can see why the boringness of my early morning bus drive would appeal so to me. It may be the dullest damn thing on YouTube, but for that I am eternally grateful and even PROUD. It is not easy being a White Trash Drama Magnet. It does tax the strategic reserves.


Morning drive on the 101 in Hollywood:

Morning drive past the Capitol Records building:

Morning drive past the Cathedral in downtown:

Posted by laurie at 11:10 AM

August 8, 2006

TV is your friend

Yesterday I got a question from a reader, "Who is this Kitty Carlisle you speak of?"

I am so glad you asked! Long before Lorelai Gilmore showed up, I would face all crises both big and small by asking myself, "What Would Kitty Carlisle Do?" There's perhaps nothing more indicative of mental instability than taking all your social behavior clues from a group of cheery, chain-smoking 1950s game show celebrities.

But anyway. I REALLY wanted to be Kitty Carlisle.

I discovered Kitty on the Game Show Network when I was still married and living in an apartment with Mr. X in Studio City, and I was desperately unhappy with my job and my life and it was 1999, right before folks started telling us the world was gonna end (so go buy toilet paper! stock up on canned goods! the power grid will fail!) (I stocked up on wine and cheetos) and I would stay up late at night watching old game show re-runs on the TV.

My favorites were the really old episodes of "To Tell The Truth" and "What's My Line?" where Kitty Carlisle swooshed around in snazzy cocktail dresses and Soupy Sales made off-the-cuff remarks about his fabulous New York nightlife escapades. They appeared to have fantastic lives, with nothing but cocktail hour, seeing plays on Broadway, and guest-hosting on game shows. I imagined they probably had vodka tonics and ham-and-cheese pinwheels in their dressing rooms. They wore a lot of flammable materials. They spoke eloquently, had high-falutin' accents and sometimes Kitty even wore elbow-length gloves or a tiara.

Interjection Of Necessary Factual Information:
A few weeks ago, I made a Kitty Carlisle reference when I was out on a first date. The guy I was with proudly told me that he does not own a television and (insert snotty tone of voice here) had not watched TV in over a year. Looked at me with one eyebrow arched.

Good grief. I mean it's fine if you don't watch TV, in fact I'd probably have a much smaller ass if I myself got out more, but I have about a real short fuse for people puffing up on Holier Than Thou, especially on a first date.

I guess I was supposed to recognize his utter superiority over those of us too weak and shallow to abstain from the TV, but all I just drawled out my best hillbilly accent to inform him, "You know they have them thar TV sets real cheap at The WalMart!"

Needless to say, he was not amused.
Needless to add, it was our first and last date.
End Factual Interlude

So anyway. I like TV. I like watching Brenda Lee on "The Closer" drawl out something to a bunch of citified Los Angeles cops (makes me feel like Yes, ya'll, The Southern Woman Can Kick Your Butt!) And when a shirtless Sayid went to fetch water for Shannon (pre-death) on LOST, I thought I myself had died and gone to heaven. I even watch the news sometimes, Anderson Cooper.

Even when TV is bad, it’s still so very, very good.

My entire family is kind of off-kilter with the TV love. I called my mom and dad once, just to check in.

"Hi, what are you guys up to?" I asked.

"Oh, your dad and I are just sitting here in the kitchen, shelling black-eyed peas," said my mom.

"Ooooh, fun," I said. "You two crazy kids."

"Well, your father bought a bushel of black-eyed peas. Do you know how many pounds that is? That’s 28 pounds of black-eyed peas."

"Oh. My. Gawd. What would anyone on the face of this earth need with 28 pounds of black-eyed peas?"

"He’s going to vacuum-seal them and freeze them."

Ah. The light had dawned upon me. My dad doesn’t need 28 pounds of black-eyed peas. My dad wants to use his new toy, the Super Dooper Vacuum Sealer Thingamajig!

My dad is the coolest guy on the face of the earth. But he has this, um, little problem. He loves infomercials. And I inherited that trait from him, it’s right there on my DNA strand next to the newspaper-loving gene and the smartass gene. I love to stay up late at night and watch infomercials, marvel in their chipper craftiness, bask in the light of only four easy payments! And the free gifts! It’s enough to make one salivate on the way to the telephone -- hurry! Operators are standing by!

I have seen the vacuum-pack thingamajig infomercial once or twice. It’s that device that not only stores food in airtight freshness, it also sucks the air out of bulky linens and comforters for convenient wintertime storage. It’s a miracle of modern science, in perfect plasticine containers.

According to my mom, Dad went a little wild with the vacuum sealing when his new toy, er, much-needed household implement, arrived.

"He ‘tested’ the vacuum sealer on the TV Guide, he shrink-wrapped an umbrella, two sets of bath towels, our entire collection of steak knives and an egg."

"So," I said, "Did you get the free super-whirl hand mixer with purchase?"

"Yes, I think so," she said, "but your dad vacuum sealed it and now we can’t use it."

Just think, with a gadget like that, you could make literally hundreds of canapes and finger-foods and ham-and-cheese pinwheels and seal 'em up ready and waiting for their next Kitty Carlisle dress-up party.

Flammable fabrics and elbow-length gloves optional, of course.

Posted by laurie at 11:37 AM

August 7, 2006

Hey, we need more people in matador costumes.

And people say I have too much time on my hands, I cannot imagine why.

(Do you like how we started this column today as if I was already at the end of telling ya'll some fascinating story about the time someone did such and such, and with much dramatic hand gesturing have concluded with, "Well! I cannot imagine why!" and now ya'll are just sitting there wondering if maybe I have finally done it, gone over the deep end of crazy into Really, Someone Should Phone Her Folks. Because now she's writing backwards. That cannot be a good sign.)


But people say I have too much time on my hands, not because I actually have a lot of free time to sit aound and ponder my bellybutton. It's because I'm always thinking up crazy shit that apparently normal folks don't say out loud. I can be right in the middle of a movie or a presentation at work or driving in real bad traffic and these thoughts just come to me, as if they were perfectly logical.

Such as: Why don't cats have bellybuttons?

And also: How do you become a blimp driver?

The blimp driver thing was on my mind this morning as I drove into work. Now, in my defense I had been at the dentist so perhaps some of the funny gas was working its magic on me, but since I myself was not the recipient of any actual funny gas, I'm not sure. Crazy by proxy, perhaps. The blimp driver credentialing question led me to thinking up a whole list of jobs that I might like to have.

Professions I Think I Might Like:

-- Hurricane Hunter
-- Ice Cream Tester
-- Matador Costume Wearer
-- Visionary
-- Game Show Host
-- Yarn Shopper
-- Homemade Bread Baker
-- Herb Gardener
-- Did I already say Yarn Shopper?
-- Roller Skater
-- Party Planner
-- Kitty Carlisle-esque TV Personality
-- Cat Psychologist

Huh, well what do you know, blimp driver did not even make it on the list. Truly, I'd never really thought about being a Matador before, but the costumes are so cool and I really do think you should get paid just for wearing something so ridiculous. Just show up in line at the grocery with a buggy full of cat food and beer and frozen Lean Cuisines, and check out while folks admire your Matadorness.

And people say I have too much time on my hands, I cannot imagine why!


Posted by laurie at 1:24 PM

August 4, 2006

It's Q&A, much like T&A but with 100% fewer boobs.

Well, ya'll were not kidding around with the questions and I love it! I hope I got them all. Also, holla (you know it's bad when I bust out the ghetto slang), today it is FRIDAY and the wine and happiness which is WEEKEND will be here in mere hours. Hours! My entire weekend plans are the following: clean my house to a somewhat respectable level so that my company next weekend doesn't make snarky comments about trying to crochet me a Mr. Clean of my own. Ya'll know.

Let the Q&A begin!

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Q: From Cookie, "How is it August already? Where did the summer go?"

A: Ha! I got a better one for you! Christmas? The one at the end of the year that it feels like I just lived through with a glass of wine or four? It will be here in 142 DAYS.

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Q: From Bertha, "Do you find knitting in LA impractical? I live in New England (Boston-adjacent) so there is a never a lack of knitted things for me to produce. If I lived somewhere it rarely got below 70 degrees, I can't imagine I'd be inspired to knit thick hats and scarves and such...what do you do with all the knitted stuff? Send it to friends in colder regions? Or do you just knit for the process, rather than the product?" (Sabeine asked this, too, later.)

A: Excellent question!
I give away almost every thing I knit. I love to knit scarves, but how many scarves can one person own? Mostly, I love the process, and only sometimes do I develop a crazy love affair with an actual object off my needles. I make gifts and hats and weird stuff for my cats, but I do think the lack of any real winter has seriously dampened my desires to ever make a sweater. Maybe one day I'll move to Boston or Iceland, and I'll be gripped with sweater-knitting fever!

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Q How do you come up with the Hor-o-scopes? asks reader Hunny.
A: Ancient redneck secret!

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Q: "Can you recommend a good red wine? Not too dry!" asks psychomom.

A: Ooooh!
Under $10: Guenoc Petite Sirah Lake County '02
From $10 - $20: Beaulieu Cabernet Rutherford '03

I'm not a wine snob by any stretch of the imagination. I think you start out at a place like Trader Joe's, picking wines in your price range and sampling them to see what you like. Or ask for a glass of wine next time you're at dinner, and let the waiter pick what goes best with your meal. Or hell, just start with the Cabernets and work your way down the aisle!

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Q: By Drew Smartypants, "How/when did The Soba achieve levitation? And will she be publishing her antigravitational discovery?"

A: When Drew was last here on vacation, he was "visited in the night" by an eerie spectre, the Levitating Sobakowa. Because she is rather short in stature, and the fluffy comforter is rather, uh, fluffy, The Great Sobakowa appears to somehow hover across the bed. It's fascinating really. She also growls when you try to move. And she can control the weather.

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Reader CutePinkGal wants to know:
"Is it ever okay for a guy to tell you that he can't date you because 'you remind him too much of his ex-wife' and then to offer no additional explanation as to why that is? and then for any or all of your friends to wonder why you've been obsessing over this statement for damn near a week? seriously - who says these things?"

My Answer, which I would like to preface with WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU TAKE RELATIONSHIP ADVICE FROM ME, because I AM A CAUTIONARY TALE:
I have no idea what he meant by that statement. He could be saying, "I met someone else," or "I don't want a relationship," or "I'm gay," or "I'm thinking of moving to Vegas and becoming a professional poker player." I have no idea what he means deep-down inside.

All we know is that he is saying "I do not want to date you." And that sucks and yes, of course you'll obsess over it, why on earth do you think I started going to get my nails done like a crazyperson, obsessing over nail polish and stuff? I needed a bait and switch. And it worked! Now I can barely remember Frog #3's name. Well, at least not while I'm getting my manicure on!

[EDITED to add: Aria, who is much better at giving relationship advice than I am, has a great answer! She says, "It could simply mean you've lucked out - that the guy is really not someone whom you would have wanted, and his ex-wife might be a completely normal wonderful person, and thats why you remind him of her..." and I agree! -- laurie]

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Q: From Beth, who did not leave an email address or webpage because she must have thought I would staple her for asking, "I've got a question - thus far have you succeeded in quitting smoking or have you gone back to smoking cigarettes?"

A: Quitting smoking is the hardest thing on earth for me. I have had great success followed by even greater failure. Right now, my main goal is to not smoke daily, or weekly, or even monthly, but to give myself a break when I'm on vacation to ... say ... Paris, so that when I'm there I don't over-smoke in compensation which leads to months and months of being right back where I started. Yup.

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Q: From Roggey, "Alright... you've given us fried green tomatoes and fried okra ...now, what about fried chicken? Recipe? Tips? Fried chicken porn?"

A: AHA!!!! I got your fried chicken right here, my friend, from a Q&A column on July 12 of last year, proving that I was just as insane last summer as I am this summer. I need to apply for a sugar daddy, stat! Or maybe just make some fried chicken. Mmmmmmmmm. Fried chicken.

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Q: Colleen wants to know,
"I've got a question for ya, Laurie! I believe you're a graphic designer? I am too, and my question is, do you draw or paint?"

A: I used to paint a lot, but like you I find that doing design all day makes me loathe to run home and be creative. But I do miss painting. I wasn't a good painter, but I was... uh, colorful.

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Q: Kate (K8) has a two-parter.
1) What are you doing at work that is requiring all the extra hours? and 2) And why would you live in LA and buy a car with NO AIR CONDITIONING??

A: 1) We're redesigning all kinds of stuff. Also, in the summer you work hard to complete all your projects before the end of the year which is good because when the holidays come we're less stressed out. It's all fine. Just super busy! Where is my stapler? and 2) Good Lord, I must have been asleep when I made that decision. I have no idea. Probably because I was desperate when I bought that Jeep and it was the best I could do, and now it's paid off so I'm making it last as long as possible. See what The Budget has done to me! I'm like... frugal and stuff! (My parents are wondering right now who I am and where their real, albeit irresponsible, daughter has gone.)

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Q: From SomokyJoe, "What kind of software are you using in your artistic endeavors?"

A: I use Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash. But mainly I'm a photoshop girl.

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Q: Hey Laurie, have you heard of/tasted/fried breaded pickles? -- from Helen

A: I fairly LIVED on fried pickes in college, and the best ones on the planet are served at Toot's in Murfreesboro, TN. I can eat the hell outta some fried pickles! I found them out here at B.B. King's Blues Club, and they aren't like back home but they're not too bad.

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Q: Stephanie wants to know if I am secretly having an affair with Francisco.

A: No.

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Q: Risha's kidlet and Drew both want to know where babies come from.

A: They come from Babies 'R Us. Duh. Why do ya'll think I refuse to shop there!

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Q: My question is: When will the travel site be up? From reader Stacey.

A: Tricky one. On the one hand, I loved posting travel pics like nobody's business. On the other hand, I can't really look at a bunch of pics of me and Mr. X without going to the Patsy Cline place where I am eating cheetos off my chest.

But! Maybe after I go on another vacation (Please dear Lord hear my beggin' for vacation, and also world peace, and an end to spam) then I will have enough new pics (and memories) so I don't feel sad about that website. You know?

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Q: What's your favorite food?
Asked by Finance Girl, whose recent post on "walk me through it" was a must-read.

A: My dad's homemade cornbread dressing. TO. DIE. FOR.

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Q: My question is: what do you love to write about? from Miss Brianne.

A: Oh gosh. I'll write about any old mundane thing if there's a story-telling opportunity in it. Poop? check! Grocery shopping? check! Traffic? check check check!

But there is one sort of writing I do, 99.9999% of which will never get read by anyone, it's not meant to be read, really. I have notebooks full of it, pages and pages on my laptop, it's on post-its and the backs of menus and receipts and when I get desperate it's scrawled on napkins or whatever is handy. I call it "landscape painting." Just a bunch of emotional muck all sketched out in words.

It's like I get all twisted up inside over a thing, anything, and I have to write it down, fully describe the feel of it and once it's pinned down in so many words I feel calm like nothing else. Clean and untangled inside. My daddy says I have been like that since I was six years old, toting around a little notebook for my "thoughts." I was strange kid. I am maybe crazy.

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Q: I have a question...what happened to your p.o. box? I've had this f'n Christmas ornament for you for eight months now! Snakes on a plane, girl! One day I'd like to get it out of my possession! from Kim

A: Argh. I only check my mail once in a REAL blue moon, seeing as it might as well be on a different planet for as convenient as it is (when I lived in Studio City, it was on my way home. Now? Pluto is closer.) But I do go there from time to time. I am horrible at getting my act together and one day soon someone will receive a CD from me and go, "Crazy Aunt Who?" because it's been so long since they sent me something that getting a thank-you CD sixteen months later is a little weird. I am sorry in advance. This is my one real serious fatal flaw. I'm polite in real life and suck at correspondence. But after all that if you still want my addy, it's 12400 Ventura Blvd., #206, Studio City CA 91604. P.S. Dear Stalker Guy, that is not my home address.

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Q: I know you have the knitting recipes up, but since the okra post (lurve fried okra), I've been wondering if you'd make a sidebar space for food patterns? from M

A: Yes! That is an excellent idea.

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Q: You're an artist, why don't you show any of your art? asks Guy Real.

A: Maybe one day when I move to a house with more space, I'll paint more and have enough for a show. When that day comes, you are all invited. Bring wine! And cheese! And a sense of humor! Because ya'll really, I paint just like I talk.

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Q: Denny Mcmillan asks, "How are your new neighbours?"

A: No one has bought that empty house yet. Surprisingly!

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Q: Maryse, who has one of my favorite websites on the innernets, asks, "What's it like to get thousands of comments a day? and how do you keep up?"

A: Honestly, sometimes the comments here are way funnier than anything I could think up myself! I read them all, and I wonder when ya'll will please move to Los Angeles, although sometimes I think about moving to Boston to stalk you, Maryse, quietly in your mini Cooper. heh.

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Q: Does Mr. X know about Crazy Aunt Purl? If he doesn't - do you ever worry he'll find out? from Kelly B.

A: I don't know if he knows. I doubt very much he'd even be interested. I do wonder if maybe his new wife will take up knitting one day though ;)

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Q: What's the meaning of 42? (Risha Moonshadow) What is the meaning of life? (Jeannie) Are we there yet? (K8, again) Why is the sky blue? (Sue F.)

A: Sobakowa!

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Q: Neil, who is currently in Freudian therapy online, asks: I wanted to send you a photo of myself, but I wanted to first use Photoshop to airbrush some blemishes. As a graphic designer, would you be able to notice the changes?

A: Send it to me and I'll let you know. Ok, that will be $150 for this session!

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Q: (more of a demand, really) Give us more kitty pics!
A: Oh, ask and you shall receive. Here are some baby Bob & Frankie pics, and this weekend when the light is good and the cats are calm, I'll 'neak up on them and go all paparazzi on their furry butts.

Bob attacks Bubbles.

Remote control to show scale of The Frankie.

Notice the hot boys of 98degrees in the back there. I am about as uncool as they come.

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That was fun, thanks ya'll! Have a good weekend ... I'll be doing exciting glamorous things like "cleaning the toilet" and "eliminating fur tumbleweeds" and "watching Tivo." Bye!

Posted by laurie at 10:04 AM

August 3, 2006

Ya'll are curious and curioser. THANK GOD.

Hello! I have been having one of those weeks (plural) where even though a person may love their family and friends and job and adore their coworkers and want to come in each morning with group hugs and cheers of Cumbaya and happy thoughts about Los Angelenos and traffic and life in general, you maybe -- just maybe -- for a few days want to vigorously staple the hand of the next person who comes near you.

Hi! I am grumpy!

And so there has not been a lot of time for funny har-har stories and knitting tutorials which take time and patience and how can I do that when I have one hand always on my stapler, ready and waiting for you to CROSS ME. Which I know you are JUST ABOUT TO DO.

So that is why I am very fortunate and also lucky to have folks ask me questions because then I did not have to sit down and face a blank screen while I try to write something coherent while also planning out my World Domination Plan Using Weapons Of Mass Stapling.

These are some questions I have been asked recently, and the answers, and if you have more burning questions just ask away in the comments (because you will soon understand about the email problem) and I will answer what I can tomorrow, except if it's a grumpy question and then I will probably try to staple you to something.

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Question: What ever happened to the knitted ugly mystery cat thing?
Answer: Technically, it's completed. However, I am sort of using the pattern as a submission to something so I'm trying to see if that works out (har har) and then when it doesn't, I will put it online. Always the optimist!

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Q: Have you talked to Mr. X at all?
A: Nope. Last time we talked was the day of the divorce hearing, last summer.

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Q: Why haven't you been to Stitch 'n Bitch in a month!?
A: I've been working a lot, and some late hours. I'm hoping it calms down soon. I'm also trying to talk people into picking me up and chauffering me there and then home to the Valley since I have no A/C in the Jeep, I'll let you know how it works out. I'm also trying to talk people into believing that monkeys rule the earth, I'll let you know how that works out, too.

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Q: Will Drew be staying with you while he's in LA?
A: Heck yeah! Sobakowa is already plotting her takeover of The Visitor.

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Q: How is Roy?
A: He's all right. He takes medicine twice a day, which he hates, and I myself am not real fond of the process, but it keeps him pretty stable for now and he's as ornery and complainy as ever. That cat will knock every item off every surface in the house to wake you up if his bowl is empty. He also did not die from eating those flowers, or get sick, or suffer liver/kidney/heart failure and die later from delayed symptoms of death. (You, Internet, scared me shitless for nothing, but I love you anyway.)

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Q: Will you go out with me/be my pen-pal/email me pictures of yourself?
A: No. But thanks for asking!

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Q: What is UP with your email?
A: I've always had trouble keeping up with the volume of email, but lately there has been a huge new hellish email problem in crazyland.

Some spammer sent out email using my address faked in as the sender and I got over 6,000 returned emails from people I never even contacted. Magic! Gnomes! Of course the server admin shut my entire mailbox down to investigate and also because the whole electronic thingy do-bob was clogged. Nice! (Me = "not caring or knowning about the email technology.")

So, finally we get to the bottom of that little shenanigan, and what do you know! I am beginning to make headway in my email! When I get inundated all at once by the wily spammers who send me emails by the HUNDREDS each day cleverly entitled "Califlower Exemptions" and "Jibe Prophet" and one particularly cruel, evil spammer who sent me a message entitled simply, "Gumbo!" Imagine my disappointment to find yet another weird "Buy this bizarre stock..." spam. Gumbo indeed.

I do check my email, but sometimes I get so lost and exasperated by all the junk (these subject lines really are entertaining, though, "Cannibal Teethe" and "Bottom Mayo" hee hee!) A few days ago, Drew finally sent me a gmail account invitation and I promise the moment I have a spare thirteen minutes to tinker with YET ANOTHER STUPID EMAIL THINGAMABOB, I will set up this so-called gmail account and we'll be cooking with gas.

Also, I would like to vote for whichever politician outlaws spam.

I do not care if you are Crazy McDumbass, I will vote for you if your sole platform is JAILING SPAMMERS.

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Q: Are you ever going to write a book?
A: Yeah, OK!

Q: When?
A: DO NOT PRESSURE ME OR I WILL STAPLE YOUR HAND TO YOUR OWN HEAD. Also, however, wouldn't it be funny to have to edit any book I wrote because me with the comma splicing and run-on sentences and strange way you can actually sort of hear the way I talk because I write as if I were chattering on aimlessly? Wouldn't it suck to have that job?

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Q: Do you ever come to Michigan?
A: I have never been to Michigan, actually, but I'm going to come there one day and I want to walk around the Great Lakes and do my best Beavis & Butt-head impression: "Uh, I'm looking for the GREAT lake? Has anyone seen a really GREAT lake? This is a GOOD lake, but can you tell me where I can find the GREAT lake?" hehehehehe. I did this at the Grand Canyon once. BECAUSE I AM NINE YEARS OLD.

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Q: Are you dating anyone?
A: Eh.

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Q: How is the most recent kitty pi coming along?

A: Pretty well! I made a detour to do some swatching this past weekend (I do love to swatch, it's a sickness really) and then I was working all day Sunday so there was no knitting for the wicked. But I'm planning to take the bus tomorrow, if the freeway is OPEN, jesuschristonthecross. (All lanes of the 101 southbound were closed this morning. If you would like to know what this means, exactly, here's what you can do to replicate the experience: go get in your car and drive it to the grocery store parking lot, pull in behind a parked car, and idle in that same exact spot for two and a half hours. Voila! You could be in Los Angeles!)

So, anyway, if I take the bus tomorrow I'll be able to get a good two hours of knitting accomplished on the pi. This time I'm making it with TWO strands of UpCountry held together for a very dense felt, and I'm doing some wacky stuff with the colors, I hope it comes out OK. Will it meet the Soba's expectations? Only time will tell!

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So that's all for today, but if you have any burning questions, post them here and I will answer with even more Califlower Exemptions tomorrow. Bon voyage, and Bottom Mayo!

Posted by laurie at 9:28 AM

August 2, 2006

August 2006 Hor-O-Scopes

Is it really August already?

Every day I look up from a pile of work and suddenly it's already 2 p.m. and WHERE IS THE SUMMER GOING? Not that I mind the passing of the hottest months of the year, of course, what with my thick Nordic-Germanic blood making me predisposed on a genetic level to sit on an iceberg swathed in furs and drinking vodka, but it's more that I need a vacation because ya'll I am tired. I visit travel websites and pray for "Cheap Flight To Anywhere." When one cannot feasibly take a vacation, one plans phantom getaways online. It's like porn, really, as secretive and guilty as I feel about it, always going online to get a quick fix (Dubai! Prague! Boston!) and then after I get my fix, I feel calm, transported, even if just for a minute.

What does this have to do with Astrology, you may ask? Nothing.


AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Home repair, car repair, footwear malfunctioning, even the sunglasses/handbag/new thing you just bought is askew. Fun, eh? How's it going over there, Aquarius? What's broken today in your world? I know it feels like it won't stop (oh, and by the way, for those of you who are not experiencing any technical difficulties at all, ah. yes. Well, sorry to break the news to you. August is "Stuff Breaks" month.) but it will stop, it will! even though it feels like the world has conspired against you. It hasn't ... it's just something in Uranus. Besides, whatever breaks can be replaced, and maybe you'll find something better anyway ... next month, of course, when it's likely to last longer than a day and a half.

PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
Now would be a really good time to start some sort of art project. There's a wide variety of really artsy rivers running through the Pisces world: the obvious painting, drawing, scrapbooking, knitting, crochet, etc. But Pisces has a real artistic-crazy streak this month, that extends to designing items from scratch, cooking up gourmet creations, making cakes shaped like Monopoly games. Don't rule out the more adventurous art-crazy, either, like carving stuff with power tools or making electronic devices, or building a car from scratch. It's your month to go a little nutty in the creative realm, and you should take advantage of it before your inspiration diminishes with the end of summer.

ARIES (March 21- April 19)
The good thing about you Aries folks is that you really don't hold life-long grudges. It's kind of nice to see someone forget (forgive?) past transgressions. Oh, ya'll may think I am smoking the astro-weed, but if you had any idea what real grudge-holding was you'd realize what a fine specimen of forgiveness you can be (ask a Scorpio or a Cancer, we'll tell you who wronged us back in third grade, I kid you not.) The only problem with your approach to past wrongs, and wrong-doers, is that often you give people a little too much leeway, and a chance to re-wrong you. This month, particularly between the full moon on the 9th and the new moon on the 23rd, watch out for backstabbers who are going in for Kill Number Two. I don't trust them, and neither should you.

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
Everyone gets these weird financial ripples from time to time, where they either feel surprisingly on top of the money issue or surprisingly (and woefully) behind the curve. You've been in both of those places, and obviously it's better on your psyche if you are moneyful instead of moneyless. This month you might find that you're moneyful for a short while, and moneyless for what feels like forever. The good news: there's a planetary accountant who likes you and September will bring a real relief to some particularly unexpected money issue you've had. The bad news is that apparently the good planetary accountant is on vacay in August.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
No matter how many vacations you take, or adventures you have, there's always a desire in you to see more, do more, know more. Know-It-All-Ism is a real Gemini trait, but because you're so likable nobody really minds letting you pontificate and excitedly explain things. The problem comes when you get bored, and need new inspiration, and you're stuck without a vacation to plan or anyplace at all to roam. In these times, like, say... August, you have to get creative with your escapism and take a new look at your home, your own city, the people around you who might Know It All about something you'd find totally fascinating. Then of course you can pick their brain for info, and you'll Know It All. As it should be.

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Ya'll, what the HELL has happened to the romance sector of our astrological lives? Is someone up there just MAD at us? Have we offended the Gods, bringing about a kind of planetary hokey-pokey where every single romantic possibility is one foot in, one foot out, try to shake it off but don't fall down! Because then you will cry! And if you get us crying this month, we're likely to never stop. It's been romance-free over here in Chez Spinster, I don't know how ya'll are making out. (hah. making out.) But this entire situation caused me to do some long-range astrological planning for us crabs. As it turns out, when the cold weather returns and the nesting urge is strongest, things will make a slight turnaround in the Love House. There's going to be some kind of odd late-November love vive around the last new moon and if this falls through, I am going to sue the Astrology. And then I will cry.

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
Happy birthday! Leo and Virgo are two of my favorite signs, aside from my obvious soft spot for all things Cancerian. Leo is so unlike Cancer in so many ways: feisty, fast-moving, always on to a new exciting thing, and good-naturedly lazy when you're comfortable (actually, we have that in common, too, except that Cancers begin to worry incessantly when they feel their lazybones, whereas Leo just stretches out and relaxes. We could maybe learn a thing or two from each other.) This August is a good time to focus on the lazybones and relaxing, it's been an exhausting few weeks (have you had a lot of unexpected commitments come up? too many missed connections to count them all?) Everyone needs an emotional nap from time to time, and your time is right now.

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
Hello Virgo! Happy birthday and birthday-to-be from me, a Cancer who always seems to get your chart wrong. I can't help it. Ya'll are so mysterious to me, you're particular without being really finicky, you're organized but sometimes no one can tell that but you, and you have a real system for evaluating the world whereas I proceed emotionally on every issue. I like the way you Virgo folks do things, it's just a real hard pattern for me to understand. Perhaps that's what's the new moon right on the 23rd is all about, letting folks inside, letting us crazy non-Virgo types have a little insight on why you are the way you are. Don't be afraid to confide a little this month, to let down the Virgo walls a tiny bit, let someone get to know you, the inside-you. It's a good (if somewhat scary) way to start a new birthday-year, wouldn't you agree?

LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
Dear Libra, Do not go careening down winding roads in a fast car while under the influence of alcohol and then get arrested and say nasty things to the police because it may end up ruining the great image people had of you from your "Mad Max" and "Patriot" days. Whoops, sorry, that was my Hollywood Big Shot forecast. I got it confused with Libra because ya'll are thinking about going a little buckwild crazy right now, and not always looking ahead to the consequences. It's OK, though, because after the full moon next week your impulse to pack your bags and head off to ANYWHERE BUT HERE will subside, and you probably won't have to issue an apology that's printed in Variety or the Times. Luckily. Too bad Hollywood Big Shot couldn't have heard this advice about a week ago, eh?

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
All work and no play makes Scorpio so irritated and tired and annoyed that at any minute ya'll are about to fling off and snatch someone baldheaded. I know that the work you're doing is VERY good, and this whole period from about March onward has been exhausting, and kind of rewarding but still, you're tired, and why can't you just get some peace and quiet already! but you just have to endure a few more weeks of nose-to-grindstone and then you can take a much needed rest. If it's any consolation, this entire Jupiter-infused period of your life has been really excellent for your future financial picture. Does that help? A little?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
My best friend from college is a Sag, and she always told me that this last part of summer seemed a bit sad and nostalgic. I can see that whole swirl of memories-of-summers-past piling up on you around the full moon next week. Next weekend and the ten days after that in particular are going to be kind of maudlin and "remember when...?" I'm warning ya'll right now, because although you aren't the sad sack romantics that Cancers are, or the prone-to-wistful Pisces, ya'll still have a tendency to get soft about the past at unexpected moments, and it creeps up on you and makes you feel dissatisfied with your present life, or sends you into a tailspin wondering WHY ON EARTH AM I THINKING OF THIS STUFF RIGHT NOW? So I felt it my duty to warn you, so you can see it's just normal, and not an indicator that your present-day life is off-track. It's just nostalgia, and it might make you want to call folks you haven't talked to in a while, or check in on your far-flung family. It's not an existential crisis. It's just the full moon.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
If you are any kind of Capricorn at all, you have spent at least one day this week doing the following: thinking obsessively about your finances, thinking obsessively about your housing situation, thinking obsessively about your transportation situation, thinking obsessively about your love life. Or, perhaps, you have done ALL THESE THINGS and still, you have arrived at no solution at all, and you are ready to do any of the following: change your hairstyle, go on a crazy shopping spree, move to (insert city), change your career, smack someone upside the head when they look at you even a teensy bit crossways. I would say that Capricorns are maybe not to be messed with this month. Ya'll are maybe a wee bit on the tense side. HOWEVER. Might I point out (before you smack me upside the head) that August brings with it a lot of actual logistical change in your life, and planning for the future is a good thing, and you'll be more relaxed at month's end than you can even envision right now. Once the new moon on the 23rd passes, you'll be ready for September and ready for fall without all the obsessive worrying. Try not to assault too many people between now and then.

Posted by laurie at 11:38 AM