To Joan, free-spirited, laid-back, eclectic-color-loving dancer friend extraordinaire. (I realized today that I don't really have a good full-color picture of her; hope this one doesn't seem too drab for a birthday.) Happy birthday! :)
My first Halloween party actually came to fruition this year. After a day of decorating and baking (spiderwebs and jack-o-lanterns and skull-shaped candles, oh my!), we started the party a little after 7 p.m. A total of six guests were entreated to my performance of "The Raven" (complete with a little raven decoration), which I'd spent the drives to and from work for the last month or so memorizing, and then we played the "Death of a Vampire" murder mystery, which, unfortunately, was a little lacking (the game was far too short, the clues too vague and the amount of participation per character too little). Everyone had a "wait, that's it?" expression when I announced it was time (40 minutes in to what was supposed to be an hour-and-a-half game) to guess the killer, and the "every character has motive; just guess" situation led to no one guessing the right killer. In the future I may have to look at different game publishers, or find one that is more in-depth.
Jamie wins the "Most Into Her Character" award for being the only player to maintain accent and roleplaying throughout the entire game (go Jamie!).
We spent the remaining hour I'd assumed the game would take just chatting and enjoying the snacks my mother and sister had made. Everyone laughed when I announced that my overzealousness with the dry ice (in retrospect, two pounds in a punch bowl might be too much) led to the punch freezing solid (whoops). We also did an impromptu tour of the house improvements I've done in the last few weeks.
I think everyone had a good time. I guess the real trick will be to see who volunteers the next time I host one. ;)
Posted at 10:44:00 PM. |
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Monday, July 23
The office move is progressing in tolerable fashion, festooned with only the occasional glitches (on my shifts, anyway). What was projected to be about 24 hours a weekend has distilled into a measly 4 (way to overcalculate, people), so the overtime pay won't be what I was expecting, but it's also far less stress. My "second shift" has already set up shop in the new building, and my "primary shift" moves tomorrow, so by Wednesday I should be permanently in my original (yet more grandiose) office building.
Jamie and I saw "A . . . My Name Is Alice" on Saturday. Fantastic show. I chastise all of you for not attending (except Cris and Mark, who attended on a different night). My favorite skit involved a secretary projecting her romance novels on her real life; Jamie favored one involving a strip club. I will refrain from psychoanalysis on those choices. Cris was at least mildly concerned about how aggressive the play might be (it being loosely affiliated with the Vagina Monologues). Having seen the Vagina Monologues (twice), I can say without hesitation they weren't comparable (or perhaps comparable in the way apples and pineapples are both fruits); it wasn't really a "for women" show as it was an "about women" show. Granted I wasn't really uncomfortable at the Vagina Monologues, either, so I may not be unbiased. In any case, it was, as noted above, fantastic.
We stuck around for a bit afterward to chat with the numerous members of the crew Jamie knew from her own theater experience (including the musical director who played the piano onstage in a wig to fit in with the "women" theme). Jamie knows a lot of theater people . . .
I spent Sunday in photography mode (to the extent permitted by 90-degree temperatures). The infrared photos appeared in my blog yesterday; the cemetery photos will likely show up tomorrow.
I also epoxied the lid onto that bird feeder (which means I have to take it apart to refill it, which is a pain); I noticed the squirrel perched below it today, but I haven't seen him actually try to open it yet.
I've been collecting a few choice trinkets from friends over the last few weeks:
From Mull comes this fantastic artist who creates sculptures representing mathematical constructs and etchings of DNA and other biological components. Make sure you click a couple of the links (the Sculpture and Math Models ones, at least). Wow.
When I heard it on the radio today, I decided that, to participate in the campaign, I'm going to start calling him whenever I hear the song and leave him a voicemail by holding the phone up to the speakers. ;) (Yes, I was parked.)
A grand gathering of friends helped me mourn my 30th birthday this evening. Thanks to everyone for showing up. :)
My mom sent me a link to this site, which has pictures from the fantastic ice storm that crippled some of the counties in central Nebraska last week. I drove that route just a few days earlier, so I'm glad I missed it (although the pictures would have been cool).
Although hardly a revelation to certain people, I've been out of sorts lately. I don't think "combative" is the right term, but perhaps the shoe labelled "less understanding" would fit; I've been told what I call an "argument" is to most people a "squabble," but the fact remains that I've been in three of them lately, a bellwether of my recent petulance. To put it in better context, one of them was with Lisa. Lisa, the person with whom I have not seriously argued in 8 years. Over, of all things, a newspaper article of no importance to either of us. Said arguments have not been an active pursuit on my part, but rather an uncharacteristic unwillingness to be sympathetic when challenged (and all other abandoned traits aside, I certainly inherited the stubbornness that characterizes so many of my family). In any case, I've apologized in person and offered recognition of my childishness, and submit this as a public apology to anyone else with whom I've been short.
My mood didn't go unpredicted. I can't go so far as to lay claim to phrases like "I hate Christmas" or "holidays suck," but those of the inner circle are well-aware that this is not my favorite time of the year. Lisa expects the malaise like clockwork, although it has seemed in recent years to be cumulative rather than episodic, something I admit concerns me. Christmas lost any religious significance to me a decade ago, and quite honestly that aspect doesn't even register with me except when chastised for using "holidays" instead of "Christmas" (as has been done once this week), so I'll admit up front I don't have any serious attachment to these holidays. But on top of that, I think there is a handful of ingredients that bake up into the Fruitcake of Despondency(tm).
The first ingredient requires a mild disclaimer. If you feel the holiday spirit, I'm happy for you. :) This isn't meant to bring you down and don't take it as criticism. I hope to be there someday. For the time being, though, I find myself increasingly annoyed at the commercialization that seems to paradoxically bring out the worst in people in what is supposed to be the brightest season. Irritability and short tempers draped on shoppers looking for $600 gaming systems for 10-year-olds who equate Christmas with "I want it and if I don't get it I'm going to pout." For that matter, the whole idea that a 10-year-old needs a $600 gaming system more than he needs a $200 gaming system and $400 to give to a coat drive for underprivileged children. The perception that asking someone exactly what they want, going out and buying it and giving it to them somehow shows thoughtfulness, when in reality it's merely the fastest way to comply with a social expectation. The universal condemnation of anyone who points out that a great many people treat Christmas shopping as an unpleasant chore rather than a free act of love. (Cris and I had it out over this topic last week; I concede I may tilt toward "grinch" due to my mood, but really, I can't help but see the web of obligation and commercial pressure that underlies what should be a celebration of sharing and togetherness. In all seriousness, I'd be thrilled if my Christmas consisted of a peaceful dinner and an exchange of cards showing which charities we donated to in each other's names.)
The second major stressor for me is the fact that, though I dearly love my family, I am woefully unprepared to spend time with them en masse, a consequence of being out of sync with them (case in point, I'm used as the "it could be worse" example when someone is disapproving of someone else in the family; e.g., "Well, it could be worse. At least he's not an atheist/liberal/pavement head* like Jay."). There is a, shall we say, tendency toward displaying affection through criticism, amplified by the pack mentality, that is incompatible with me. I make an effort not to be overtly displeased about it, and in fact usually graciously decline to participate rather than take the bait, out of deference to family peace, but it's emotionally taxing nonetheless.
The final stressor, familiar to anyone single through the holidays, has its own shelf in the "self-help" section of the bookstore. I suppose (and in fact hope) that a few more attachments around this time of the year will eventually change my mood about it. Although I'm still not buying my kids a $600 gaming system.
------------------ *"Pavement head," for those curious, is my brother's term of faux affection, a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that I have defected from my agrarian heritage to the great land of street lights and parking lots. It's usually accompanied with something of a chortle.
Posted at 12:55:00 AM. |
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Sunday, October 15
Walking on Sunshine . . . Almost
Cris and I attended the Nebraska Aids Project 2006 Charity Walk today, a worthwhile event that had somewhat lackluster attendance (due mostly to the unplanned cold drizzle, I imagine). Sign-in took only a few minutes, then we sat on the curb of the parking lot for almost an hour, shivering like pirates, as people slowly filtered in. There was an impromptu dog fight, two "mock walks" for a local tv station that wanted to stage us walking thirty yards to splice into their news story rather than wait until the walk actually started, a mariachi band, a pair of talented salsa dancers and a couple of famous names (famous in Omaha, anyway). There was a fair degree of scoffing from half the assembled walkers when a trio from Gold's Gym tried to lead a cardio-boxing warmup (those expressing disdain included Cris and yours truly). The walk itself was quite short (I joked that the cardio warmup took longer), which was just as well since it was drizzling off and on and we were both cold and wet.
I was disappointed that the turnout wasn't bigger; I have no idea how it compares to a normal turn out, but I'm sure it was impacted by the less-than-pleasant weather. I'm sure Cris will have a write-up later. After he stops trying to steal my papaya bodyscrub (one of the goodies in the bag that came with the t-shirt).