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March 31, 2008

Parking is like, a talent, dude.

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An early April fool,perhaps?

Posted by laurie at 12:06 PM

March 27, 2008

Franklin Delano Cutiecat

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Posted by laurie at 10:59 AM

March 26, 2008

At long last....

At last ..... my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
At last ..... the skies above are blue
And my heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I can speak to
A dream that I could call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
You smiled, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
And you are mine .....at last

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Frankie adorns the table. It's a Noguchi knockoff, but she doesn't mind...

Yes, at last, I have a coffee table!

Back in early January when Drew was here visiting, he and I let Faith introduce us to the amazing H.D. Buttercup. It's a big fabulous furniture mart in Culver City, and they were having some kind of crazy new year sale and I finally found it, AT LAST, my true north, my true love: my coffee table.

And apparently buying new furniture is time consuming as well as tree-consuming, because it took three months for my purchase to arrive but last week the store called and said my little table was in and so Faith and I went to pick it up just a few days ago. Faith's car is kind of amazing with the holding of weirdly-shaped items. Her car has a fourth dimension. Anyway, the cats love the new table, something new to conquer and recline upon.

As I was admiring it the other day I realized that this is the very first brand-new coffee table I have ever owned. I've always been a fan of vintage (read: "thrift store") finds, but I searched forever for a coffee table and couldn't find one I liked. Finding furniture that fits well into a very small space is challenging, so I have been sans coffee table since The Great Decluttering of 2006.

Not anymore! Let the surface clutter begin!

P.S. Frankie is not considered surface clutter.

Posted by laurie at 10:17 AM

March 25, 2008

Photogenic

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Toes!


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Paw!


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I love you this much!

- - - -

And my favorite picture of all time...

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Smiling Bob

Posted by laurie at 10:30 AM

March 24, 2008

Green and mean, with a side of beans

After all that talk of smoothies last week, I decided to try some variation of Green Lemonade over the weekend. I've known about Green Lemonade for a long while, it's a juicer recipe originally from the Raw Food Detox Diet. I usually try to eat one raw food meal a day (like a smoothie or a fruit salad or a regular green salad) but I have never been a big greens eater, even at my most neurotically health-conscious. I tend to be a little schizophrenic about meals, sometimes all I eat is junk and more junk with a helping of wine, and sometimes I won't let anything pass my lips unless it's organic and made of nutrients. This used to drive my poor parents crazy, they'd never be able to tell if I was coming to dinner for a whole cow with a side of butter or if my dad would be rustling through the cabinets to find something with no oil, salt, additives ("or taste," my brother would say.) Once after I was being particularly difficult during a summer break in Mississippi, my father sighed and then handed me a carrot on a plate. "It's completely additive-free," he said. And laughed. And laughed.

My poor father. Between me and my brothers and our assorted tomfoolery it is a wonder he didn't run off and join the circus.

ANYWAY. Yesterday morning I took Bevvy's Green Lemonade recipe from the comments and made it into a smoothie. My variation used:

2 apples, cored and cut into pieces
4-5 leaves of Kale (I chopped them up a little beforehand, too. My mixer is good but not great.)
1 whole Meyer lemon, peeled but some of the white pithy stuff was still on it, sectioned into pieces
About a tablespoon of chopped up ginger
a handful of spinach leaves
some water
a few ice cubes

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And I blended it all up for this:

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I thought it would taste awful, to be honest. Even as I was making it I wondered why on earth I was wasting a whole Meyer lemon. Yet I soldiered on because I am nothing if not adventurous when it comes to health nuttiness. And you know what? It didn't taste as bad as it looked. IT TASTED WORSE.

It was just like drinking up a pre-digested salad with some stringy lawn clippings thrown in.

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Things that make you go, "eeeewwww."

I have in my time embarked upon all sorts of oddball "cleansing" diets. One time many many moons ago I was reading the National Enquirer (don't ask) and I noticed a little blurb on a purifying diet that called for mung beans and clarified butter. I don't know about you, but any "purifying" diet that calls for butter is worth a try. This was in 1999 just a few months before we all perished -- possibly -- at the turn of the new Millennium. People were stockpiling toilet paper like nobody's business. Remember how much fun that time was? Doesn't it seem so innocent compared to now?

So I had never heard of mung beans and I went online to read more about them and how to cook them. As I searched the web it seemed I'd found myself in some underworld of Y2K bunker-ese preparation for the end of the world and mung beans were THE food to have on hand. Apparently they were Y2K compliant! There were entire message boards devoted to storing mung beans and using them for sprouts when the world stopped spinning on its axis and chaos ensued.

All that talk of stockpiling appealed to my little hoarding soul, and I do remember buying a little extra wine and rum and diet coke and cat litter for the impending end of humanity. And a really cute pair of heels that had a ribbon bow on the back (everyone needs cute shoes for the apocalypse.) And after all that necessary stockpiling, I went to the market and bought me some mung beans. I found a package in the health foods aisle at Ralph's and I tried cooking them and eating them for purification (clarified butter! yum!) except soggy mung beans + butter = deesgusting. I did not feel pure at all. I could actually feel them cementing to my intestines. If I recall correctly, I think I had to have a cheeseburger to purify myself from the purification. Then I believe had a cold drink and called it a day.

Not all healthy nut food forays go well, you know. It is part of the adventure of living.

And then of course we all survived Y2K and to this day I still wonder if there are people out there with stockpiles of mung beans just waiting for the day when they can use them. All those folks who were well and very prepared for The End may have gone through their hoard of toilet paper by now, but I am willing to bet someone out there somewhere is still hanging on to those ol' mung beans.

My advice: skip the beans and go right for the clarified butter. Trust me on that one.

Posted by laurie at 10:25 AM

March 20, 2008

Bliss with blueberries on top

Breakfast and I were strangers for years and years, then I discovered toast. I LOVE TOAST. I love it slathered with butter and accompanied by hash browns and bacon. However, I don't cook (or have arteries made of steel.) I especially do not cook in the pre-dawn hours before work and coffee. Sometimes I have just toast for breakfast, or Cheerios, but my favorite no-cook breakfast is just heaven and healthy all at the same time:

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The smoothie.

This little smoothie packs three (or sometimes four, depending on how I make it) servings of fruits in one single meal. Three servings of fruit! And it tastes great! For someone like me, that is miraculous.

I took this smoothie recipe from "You On A Diet" by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, and I modified it over time to suit my tastes. You can find the original recipe for free on Oprah.com [click here for that.]

My Smoothies, more or less:

Note: This is the order I add the stuff to the blender, which keeps the protein powder from flying everywhere or clumping up too much. See "trial and error."

• About 1/3 to 3/4 cup Kefir
["Kefir" is a yogurty-like drink, I found it in the milk and yogurt section of Whole Foods. It's a thicker consistency than milk, but a little thinner than yogurt and I like the taste. I use the lowfat organic kind because that's how I roll. I forgot to put the Kefir in the picture because I'd already put it back in the fridge but that's just as well -- you can use anything as a base, like milk or soymilk or yogurt or even ice cream!]

• About 3/4 a scoop of Whole Foods soy protein powder in Vanilla

• 1 tablespoon psyllium husks **** Start out with 1/2 a teaspoon!!! Trust me! You need to work up to this amount of fiber over time or else, you know. Consequences.****

• A little flaxseed oil, maybe about 2 teaspoons, I just eyeball it

• 2 smallish bananas, peeled and broken into pieces

• about 3/4 cup frozen blueberries. The package says there are two servings to a bag, so I use half the bag for each smoothie.

• Or any other frozen fruit on hand -- I buy the bags of frozen organic fruit when they go on sale and keep the freezer stocked. I have peaches (YUM), strawberries and cherries, too. Frozen fruit gives this a nice cold smoothie texture.

Blend it all up and drink!

On the weekends I might make a smoothie for breakfast and then have one for dinner, too, thereby getting six servings of fruit in my body. On those days my body is like, "Where the hell did all this nutrition come from??? Why aren't we having microwave popcorn again?" At first when I started making these I just assumed I'd be hungry again in five minutes but the combination of foods plus the protein powder keeps me full for way longer than I expected. I love my breakfast smoothies, they make mornings happy.

It doesn't seem like something as simple and mundane as breakfast can change your life, does it?

Sometimes when you line up your life on a ruler (and by "your" life, I mean "my" life), it can look like "Wake up, rush, feed cats, late, shower, don't forget the so-and-so, blow-dry hair, where is other shoe?, morning commute, morning commute, rush, late, work work work, etc., work all day, deadlines, hurry up, where is that memo?, more commute, many cars, late getting home, dry cleaners closed? no... open, feed cats, tired, go to bed do it all again tomorrow..."

I don't know when it happened that I became someone who lived for the future. Maybe it started back when things were unpleasant, or maybe it was my lifelong dieting mentality ("I'll be ten pounds thinner in eight weeks, so then I can do X, and I'll be down 20 by my birthday so I can fit into X...") But however it started, it became habitual and before long I was someone who saved all her nice things for "one day" and lived for tomorrow, next month, next vacation. But when next month arrived, I was already living for the next one. I mentioned that a little a while back, about my mental checklist and my life map. And even last summer when it dawned on me that life has already started. This movie is already in progress.

But it's one thing to know and understand your habits and it's a whole nother thing to break away from them. Little tiny things, like waking up and making a smoothie and drinking it before work and really enjoying it -- it's something that small and mundane that makes me happy and makes me happy NOW, not in the future or two months from now or someday when I am skinny enough/financially stable enough/accomplished enough/rested enough/whatever enough. Because what if that day never comes, anyway?

I always thought it would be the big events, the high points in my life, that would make me happy. And they do make me happy maybe for a few moments, but sometimes they're also stressful. As it turns out it's the small, seemingly insignificant things that are helping me find contentedness in my day-to-day life. Petting the cats before bedtime when everyone piles on the bed at once. A really good book. Soba sitting on the fresh laundry. Blueberry smoothies for breakfast.

Not bad for breakfast philosophizing, anyway.

Posted by laurie at 9:08 AM

March 19, 2008

Very mysterious

On Monday at 3:40 a.m. I was jolted out of bed. Literally. I thought it was an earthquake -- it felt like the bed was violently pushed away from the wall with one huge shove. I got up (jolted!) and turned all the lights on in the whole damn house, as if that would help, but we weren't having an earthquake. Nothing else was moving. The cats were pissed off for being disturbed during their beauty sleep and it was all very mysterious so I promptly went back to bed and forgot about it. It was 3:40 in the morning after all.

Then I noticed yesterday that the bed had actually moved away from the wall -- by about six inches. WEIRD. So it really had happened, whatever it was that jolted me out of slumber also pushed the bed away from the side of the house in the middle of the night and disturbed the beauty sleep of three felines. Et moi.

I decided to go round the side of the house and have a look in case the neighbors had a rowdy St. Paddy's Day and drove into my house. Listen, stranger things have happened. It was already dark outside so I can't be certain my CSI efforts were 100% perfect but there didn't appear to be any damage to the bushes or the plaster on that side of the house. The box shrubs did seem a little dry, but I seriously doubt a state of parchedness in the hedge area would case the house to tremble.

So after much chin scratching and carrying on, it is clear that there is only one possible logical and clear explanation:

My house is haunted.

On the plus side, I'm from a part of the country where we have haunted crap everywhere. In fact you are not even really considered Southern unless you yourself have lived in a haunted house, or you are related to someone with an apparition, and/or you have been intimate with OR gone to school with OR attended church with someone who has at some time lived in or next door to a haunted house. Bonus points if your church itself was haunted or you ever went looking for the Bell Witch.

The downside is that right now I just do not have time to add anyone new to my life, phantasm or no. I AM BUSY OKAY. There is a lot going on in my life (aside from laundry which is an other-worldy issue of its own) and I am just far too harried at this time to entertain a specter, people. I barely have time to clean up after myself and the aforementioned annoyed felines so having to pick up plates off the floor and constantly shut mysteriously opening cabinet doors and see stuff floating mid-air is just not in my planbook. Not to mention being shoved awake at 3:40 a.m. That is just RUDE.

I can however recommend one or three excellent houses on my street that would be perfectly ripe for a good haunting. I'm neighborly that way.

Posted by laurie at 9:09 AM

March 14, 2008

Hand knit Beret modification for smaller needle sizes!

The easy big old chunky handknit beret pattern is great for a fast knit with big ol' huge needles. I am usually able to get a beret finished in just a few hours using that pattern (my favorite yarn for that pattern is a tie between the JoAnn's Sensations yarn in Licorice and the Lion Brand wool ease chunky in heathered grey, which turned out so nice and I wore it all over Rome.)

But a lot of folks emailed or commented to see if there was a modification of this pattern to use smaller needles (and less chunky yarn) -- apparently not everyone loves using size 13 double-pointed needles! Go figure!

Awesome reader Alicia offered to try out the beret using a very easy-to-find (and super-soft!) yarn, Patons Rumor. I am forever indebted to Alicia, not just for the modification but also for taking such awesome pictures!

Here is Alicia's beret pattern:

Alicia says, "I'm in love with this hat. It turned out great! I cast on 66 stitches on #9 circulars and worked in 1x1 rib for one and a half inches, then increased by k1, kfb, then switched over to #11 circular needles for the rest of the hat."

That's...

• Cast on 66 stitches using a size 9 (16") circular needle
• Work in Knit-1-Purl-1 ribbing all the way across each row until the brim measues about 1.5 inches
• Increase stitches for the body of hat by knitting one stitch, then knit into the front and back of the next stitch. Repeat all the way across the row. (You will end up with 99 stitches.)
• Switch to size 11 (16" circular) needles

[Read the original pattern for more explanation.]

Alicia wrote, "I was worried that the giant change in needle size would make the hat turn out all wonky, but it actually made it just the perfect slouchiness! I started the decreases at about 6" into the hat, and began with k13, k2tog (you have one extra stitch on the last set, but I just chalked it up to imperfection and said "SCREW IT!" you just have to knit one more regular stitch on that set every time. but it works out just fine.)"

[Note from Laurie here: You could also knit 9, knit 2 together all the way across the row to decrease.
• Then knit one plain row, no decreasing.
• Then knit 8, knit 2 together all the way across.
• Knit one row with no decreasing.
• Knit 7, knit 2 together... and so on!

I got this by finding the shoe number of 99 stitches... it's 11. Then 11 minus 2 (one pair of shoes!) leaves 9 stitches. But Alicia's pattern proves there are no real mistakes in fun knitting, especially when you say, screw it! It's yarn ya'll!]

Back to Alicia now...

"In between the decrease rows I knitted one regular round, until about the sevens....when I started to think that this hat might very well be the cause of my early demise, so I started to decrease on every row after that."

"I ended up with either 14 or 7 stitches to choose from at the very end and I went with the 7, probably should have chosen 14, it would have been more flat on the top. But I love it anyway! I will wear it in sickness and in health.....the sickness comes in when I am wearing it in our 110 degree weather this summer!"

Here are pictures of Alicia in her Patons Rumor hand knit beret:

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And with adorable kiddo Judah:
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Thank you so much, Alicia, your beret looks amazing and so do you!

And thank you to every single person who has offered up knitting tips and advice and modifications. I never really think of myself as a particularly great knitter -- I just like knitting -- and it always surprises me and makes me happy that people find these wordy recipes appealing and usable. I post them up because I figure there have to be other folks out there who also want to try the occasional easy and lazy and quick (and free!) pattern. It's gravy on top when they work out, and this one was gravy. Thank you!!

And she even included a cute pic of her puppies:
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Perfect way to end the week. Thank you!

Posted by laurie at 10:39 AM

March 13, 2008

Yawn

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Those teeth could use a brushing.

Do you brush your teeth at work?

People do this, you know. They bring brush and assorted accouterments into the shared ladies room at work and scrub-a-dub dub away. I don't know why, but the smell seems oddly incompatible and dare I say just plain gross. Maybe it's the locale. Maybe it's the sharedness of the space. For some reason it just icks me out.

I once saw a guy flossing on the bus, though. That was FAR ICKIER.

Speaking of the bus or any public transportation including subway, train and airplane.... you know those rolly bags people carry around? Wouldn't it be nice if instead of departing from chosen method of transport with rolly bag in tow and stopping to drop the case, extend the handle and get case in rolling direction thereby blocking the flow of traffic and making people in line behind Rolly Bag Commuter want to kill him or her, wouldn't it be nice if RBC either A) moved aside to get their luggage under control and allow people to pass or B) carry their rolly bag out of the way of foot traffic and then do all the finagling their little hearts desire without impeding the flow of traffic?

Also, hi long sentence!

Friday yet?


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La Soba avec le teddy bear.

Posted by laurie at 10:27 AM

March 12, 2008

A little complaining, a little swatching

The time change has not been easy on this old gal, my body does not want to eject from the warm bed each morning. That is how I ended up on the bus with wet hair and two different colored socks on, luckily my pants cover the latter issue.

I am really very professional. Obviously.

Speaking of socks, even though I have two scarves I really need to finish up before starting any new projects I made a little teetiny swatch of that cool sock yarn I got from SuperCrafty over the weekend. I cannot believe I am knitting anything on a size four needle! Crazytalk!

This yarn really rolls in stockinette, I had to use tape to get my swatch to lie semi-flat for measuring (and picture-taking.) So whatever shape this alleged hat of mine takes, it will definitely need a treatment on the brim to keep it from rolling. I looked through a few books last night for ideas but I couldn't find exactly what I'm looking for. I want to do something easy enough that even a beginner can make, so I may fall back on Ye Olde Ribbing but we'll see.

It looks like I'm getting seven stitches to the inch with this yarn. I can't tell what the ball band says you're supposed to get since it's all in metric and yo! yo! word to your metric! I only do inches and feet yo!

Oh wow, that was cheesy. It was like I was overtaken by Yo! MTV Knits! for a second. If I start doing the cabbage patch, call security. Or send wine.

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Posted by laurie at 10:17 AM

March 11, 2008

Why do I feel like... somebody's watching me?

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Posted by laurie at 9:12 AM

March 10, 2008

Mmmm, yarn.

Over the weekend, Faith and I went to Allison's house to hang out and eat Greek food and chitchat. Did I take any pictures of the food? No. Did I take any pictures of Allison's adorable child? No. Did I take any pictures of the three of us goofing off? No.

The only thing I brought out my camera for? YARN.

I am a sad, pathetic human.

I had no intention of drooling longingly over the SuperCrafty yarn room, but alas. We can only hope I didn't drool on anything 100% wool....

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Just a tee-tiny glimpse of the Fantastic Yarn Room Of Loveliness.

Allison has tons of new yarn in, including a pretty hand-dyed hank I got a preview look at (it's not online yet, but will be soon!):

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Gorgeosity!

I've been doing so well budgeting my money and not buying extraneous magazines at the market and not doing retail therapy when I'm stressed out (gotta save those pennies and dimes for cheap airfares, you know...) so I swear all Scarlett-style as God is my witness that I diligently tried very, very hard not to indulge my inner yarn hoarder, but I couldn't help it. MY INNER YARN HOARDER IS REALLY BOSSY. I ended up with some Misti Alpaca chunky in this lovely blue color. But look at it, how can you resist? I think Misti Alpaca may be the softest yarn I have ever touched, I love it. I'm going to make a seed-stitch scarf out of it, Allison was making one while I was at her house and it looked so pretty and classic. (She was using a size 11 needle, knowing me I'll be knitting it on a 19 or something.) (Whatevs.)

She also had all this crazy sock yarn and I couldn't help it, I succumbed. I have never purchased sock yarn in my life, and here I am now the proud owner of two skeins of this pretty string. I say "string" because wow, it's really way smaller than my normal monster-chunky yarns. But I think it may be a good change for me, especially since the weather has warmed up and this is the time of year when I can't bear to touch wool (I sadly have two scarves languishing, waiting for me to finish... but the sun came out! How can I knit big scarves when it's 85 degrees and sunny?) (I know, it's a tragedy.)

ANYWAY. This sock yarn stuff doesn't just make stripes, it makes stripes interspersed with a pattern, how cool is that! I toyed briefly with the idea of making my first ever pair of socks, but I am much more likely to use this yarn to try creating a hat that looks like one I saw on a complete stranger a few months ago and still I can't stop thinking about that damn hat. It was like a tobaggon, but longer and slouchy and so cute. I even bought teetiny size 3 and size 4 needles!! I normally would have capped my budget on the yarn spending alone, but SuperCrafty has the best price on Addi needles ever, so I splurged. I can't tell if this column is turning into a SuperCrafty ad or a mea culpa for yarn shopping but I'm so excited about my new purchases, this is the first yarn I've bought in three or four months. So that's not too bad, is it?

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Posted by laurie at 10:15 AM

March 7, 2008

A love note for Patrick Swayze

Today I had planned to share with you some more misheard song lyrics, but I am pre-empting that delightful flashback with this one:

When I was in high school, me and all my friends were obsessed -- OBSESSED, I tell you -- with Dirty Dancing. We all cut our jeans off and rolled them at the knee just like the long knee-shorts Baby wore in the carrying-the-watermelons scene and we all sang "Love is Strange" to each other ("Oh Sylvia... Yes Mickey? How do you call your lover boy? Come here, lover boy!")

And later, when I was a grown woman living in California I stood in line with another completely different group of girlfriends reminiscing about "Dirty Dancing" -- this time all of us were older and wearing Ugg boots and all us gals had grown up in different parts of the country and met as adults living in Los Angeles. But we were first in line for the opening night of Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights. The movie theater was packed that night with hundreds of other women our age, hoping it would recapture some of the magic we all carried around from the first movie.

While it didn't quite measure up, I would like to inform you that when Patrick Swayze made his cameo appearance on the screen in that sequel all two hundred or so women in the audience stood up and CHEERED. We hooted and hollered and carried on in some sort of crazy tribal nobody-puts-Baby-in-the-corner frenzy.

And then there was that scene from Roadhouse, where he's doing some kind of martial arts without his shirt on? Or pretty much any scene from Roadhouse? And remember back pre-Dirty Dancing and he was in that movie Red Dawn and me and all my friends would yell, "Wolverines!"

I love you, Patrick Swayze. Get well soon.

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Posted by laurie at 10:30 AM

March 6, 2008

Katie & Armando

On an ordinary Tuesday they met for coffee. He stood in line ahead of her waiting for their order and his back was to her, brown and smooth. He was wearing a white tank top and his profile was perfect, tan, weathered by the sun. Katie moved closer to his back and stood close behind him, placing her hands just where his waist began to taper. He was almost six inches taller than her, and she rested her head in the space between his shoulders and inhaled. He smelled male, like sun and warmth, and his shirt smelled faintly like washing powder. He reached for her hands and pulled her arms around his chest. She could not ever remember being so high. This was the drug. The one fix she had been searching for.

The flip side of her addiction was just as strong, the withdrawal. When he wasn’t around her, when her telephone didn’t ring, she began to doubt not only their attraction but the whole of herself. The hours when she wasn’t with him -- and there were so many! -- made her slip into an uneasy depression, anxiety, mistrust, fear. It was a powerful combination of intense anticipation and dread all at once.

"I’m dying," she thought. "I will never hear from him again, and I will wither up and die without ever having been loved."

It was dramatic. The beginning of something new is always heightened and extreme but this was taking place under the guise of her real life -- marriage and a husband and a house. She was unable to control her emotions, and when the days would stretch out without a call from him and with no opportunity to see him, she would feel like she was drowning. Drowning while picking up the dry cleaning. Drowning while driving to the post office. Drowning under the weight of the grocery shopping, the vacuuming, the dusting.

"Oh don’t worry," her husband Ernie would say. "You’ll find a job, you’ll see. Something will come up." And he would turn on the TV and she would pour another glass of wine and wait for the weekend to end, for Monday to come, for Armando to call and ask to see her. Ernie was oblivious. Ernie had always been oblivious, but for the first time Katie wasn't resentful. His disinterest in her life and in their marriage made her secret that much more delicious and awful.

And it was awful, she knew that. It was awful and she could not stop herself.

It became harder and harder not to tell anyone. She would scribble in her notebooks and wish for a confidante, but in the end Katie stayed silent and her days would fluctuate wildly between abject depression and total euphoria. Love had made her bipolar, she told to herself.

Oh God, I'm in love? I'm in love.

Telling Armando how she felt seemed out of the question. She didn’t ask him where he went during the long weekends when he didn’t call or make overtures to see her. It was her ultimate test of willpower. There is in all of us a woman who wants to know the truth, and one who is scared that the truth will be too hurtful to live with.

Not knowing was better. For now, anyway.


Yep, that's Katie & Armando, all right ... circa 2001. The cheese is palpable. You can practically taste it.

It was a powerful combination of intense anticipation and dread all at once.

At all the book signing events for Drunk Cat Hair Stuff, there was a big chunk of time devoted to Q & A. (I was terrible at it in the beginning, but I got better as time wore on. Once I got so comfortable that as I was talking animatedly with my hands I knocked over the entire floral topiary thingy on the table. And I once accidentally said a very sweary swear word in front of my grandmother. At an event. Very comfortable indeed!)

Occasionally during Q & A, someone in the audience would ask if I had always planned to write a book and I would answer yes, yes I always knew I wanted to write a book. I just assumed I would be in my fifties when I wrote it and the book would be about Katie and Armando and there would be a scene where they have sex in the movie theater and later something scandalous would happen and probably someone gets naked. Or shipwrecked. Or both!

And even though I was half-joking, I was half serious, too. Years ago I started making up a story in my head about Katie & Armando and from time to time I'd try to write it all down but later I'd re-read my silly paragraphs and all my words seemed sophomoric and dumb. Like I was pretending to write a book. So I stopped. I decided I would revisit it all one day when I was finally good enough.

I'd find other things to focus on (being married was an excellent distraction) and I would tell myself that one day, some time far off in the future, I would have the time and the skill and the energy to write a whole book. Like a lot of folks, I bought into the idea that one day I would have the life I wanted, and when that time came I would then do all the things I dreamed about.

It's so ridiculous now, even to me. But as time passed Katie & Armando became synonymous in my life with "One day.... one day far off in the future, I will be happy. I will know what it's all about. One day I will really be living my life! One day!" It was just one more way of waiting until conditions were right to finally enjoy the moment.

As if conditions are ever right for anything.

In more ways than one knitting has been a metaphor for good changes in my life. After all, we get better at stuff (gardening, knitting, speaking Spanish, writing) from just doing it. Lord knows I sucked at knitting from the get-go. Certainly I'm a better knitter now than I used to be and there is a lot of room for further improvement, but because I liked knitting I just kept at it even when I was bad at it. I learned to let go of trying to be Instantly Great! at it, instead I just wanted to knit a damn scarf -- any scarf -- simply for the sheer pleasure of knitting it, knots and all.

I can joke about Katie & Armando now because I'm not waiting anymore to live my life, most of the time. It's a hard habit to break. But when I do catch myself thinking "I'll do that next year, maybe..." I try to look inside and see if it's laziness or fear or just habit in me trying to postpone my life away. Like knitting, it gets easier the more you do it. I'm discovering it's always best to just begin where you are and trust you get better as you go along.

As far as poor old Katie and Armando go, I don't know if I'll ever write their story. Their tangled little web doesn't have a happy ending no matter how many times I try to spin it, so I think those poor star-crossed lovers may be better off in theory than on paper. They feel like part of the past, and they are cheeseballs. Plus they have some serious plot issues, I'm not going to lie. SERIOUS PLOT ISSUES, YA'LL. But I do know I'm going to finish some story this year, something that's more about where I am than where I was, and I'm not waiting for a mysterious date in the future when I'm finally "qualified" to do it. The time is now. It's the only time we get! And perhaps you improve with practice. My scarves have definitely improved over time ... remember this gem?

Lately I've been looking around at people and wondering what their own personal "Katie & Armando" is. Are they waiting until they lose weight to go on that fantasy vacation? Are they waiting until the kids are grown before they get the new sofa/visit those friends in Australia/take guitar lessons? Are they waiting until they have more money, less work, fewer obligations, a new car, a new haircut, a new boyfriend?

I bet lots of people have a Katie & Armando of their own. How about you? Are you waiting for something? Are you also waiting until one day? What is it you're waiting for? Can I end a sentence with a preposition?


Manny, do you like me? Do you want me? Do you love me? But instead what she said out loud was, "Manny, will you kidnap me? Take me away and keep me forever?"

He laughed and wrapped his thick arms around her and kissed her mouth and neck and ran his tongue along her bottom lip. She leaned into him and inhaled deeply.

"Yes, querida. I'll kidnap you all for myself."

And that was how it started, then. First as a joke, a wish, a way to say I want to be with you. Be with me. She could not pinpoint exactly when it became real. But that was how she found herself on this day, exactly five months and eight days since they met, putting things in a small black duffel bag. It was more difficult than she'd imagined, selecting only items her husband would never notice missing. How do you know what to keep? How do you take along some of your old life without anyone suspecting?

She dug her toes into the thick wool rug in the living room. She had picked this rug out when they bought the house, Ernie hated it at first but she had promised him it would grow on him. It had been expensive and she'd refused to take it back and they fought over it. It seemed so long ago, that argument. It was before she lost her job, when the money was still coming in and she thought he was overreacting about the stupid living room rug. Did he still hate it? She had no idea.

Ernie. Will he miss me? What the hell am I doing?

Her phone rang.

"Are you ready?" asked Armando. "It's time."

Katie zipped up the duffel bag. It was time to go. She took one last look at the house, her house, each picture on each wall carefully selected and hung up by her own hand, each piece of furniture picked out methodically over the nine years they'd lived here together. Her entire life was neatly summed up in one ranch-style corner lot in the suburbs.

She walked through the door and shut it behind her, knowing she would never see anything in that house again.

It was time.


Posted by laurie at 11:11 AM

March 5, 2008

Making faces

frankie-making-a-face.jpg

1) Apparently my new camera is too powerful for me. I can't get it to take a blur-free picture to save my life.

2) Work is hard.

3) I spilled coffee on my sweater.

4) This sweater is only necessary because the office A/C is on overdrive. It's springtime outside!

5) And springtime is too pretty out my window to focus properly on tasks.

6) Making work even harder.

7) Are we already moving the clocks around? So soon? I'm fine with arriving home in the waning daylight instead of the pitch dark night, but if daylight savings/standard/whatever the hell we're on only lasts two and a half weeks, why even bother?

8) Need more coffee. Sweater is startlingly absorbent.

Posted by laurie at 8:44 AM

March 3, 2008

Is that cat sticking his tongue out at me?

bobtongue.jpg

Indeed!

Posted by laurie at 10:18 AM