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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not that I mind Halloween, but when there are grown people at stores waiting on you with dog noses on...I don't know what to do. Acknowledge it, avoid eye contact, snicker, what?

Halloween fashion has gotten so bloody and life-like these days, the more rotting corpse-like, the better.

In the old days Trick or Treat was at night in the dark. We either wore improvisational sheets or a mask, because we were bundled up in winter coats and those (ewww) scarves we had to wear in the sixties before hats were in. All the girls looked like they just got off the boat from the old country.

"If it's good enough for your grandma to wear....."

The Richard Nixon mask era, that was a good time.
We were all so pumped he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar. We put so much energy into hating that guy.

Then I saw him cry on television when he resigned, and I realized he was somebody's dad.

Neil Young sang: "even Richard Nixon has got soul."

My friend Gail said after Nixon, she can never hate another president again. It was too painful.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

P.S. Hugh Laurie hosted SNL.
A lesson in acting excellence, as in trained in the old Shakespearean school.
My, my my
OK, I know, I'm on vacation, I should not be here.
Could the sun at this time of year feel any better??
Coupled with a quick wind whirling bunches of brittle leaves, Heaven on earth.
One exception: Who spread the pig manure so thick last week all of Fond du Lac reeked? That's one big pig farm.
Colleen, you have an in to the farm world, what the heck was that all about?
Step forward if you are the culprit.
And I thought the lake smelled putrid on hot days.....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I only have one minute because I'm at the library, which doesn't even have a science fiction section. Whoever heard of such a thing.

If I'm on vacation, for God's sake, I need some Arthurian legend books. I'm addicted. Where are they? I have to skim though each fiction shelf?

I can no longer stand how they shelve books - it kills my neck. Why can't they stack them so titles are readable? Please, someone out there invent something.

Geez, do I sound like my mother? Everything used to bother her.

"You are so intolerant Mother!!!"

"Don't you roll you eyes at me like that."

Now I am that woman.

More on that, things that drive me nuts, another day, and hopefully by then I've become Zen enough to have "let it all go."

It started, this irritability over unchangable things, when I was getting ready this morning and noticed, for the first time, I no longer have definite lip lines. They just sort of meld into the skin around them, which is completely off topic but bothered me because then how do you stop the lipstick from running into the rest of your face? I don't get this. I tried to use some lip liner but it looked like a four-year-old had a field day with a red crayon.

I should have left it that way.

Just like the blood-curdling scream fantasy, I thought of a new one. Put lipstick wherever it goes, what the hell, then go to the grocery store like that and see how many people try to avoid staring.

The key is, of course, to act perfectly normal.

I have no access to a phone or Internet until Nov. 2. There are those who say this will do me good. I'm skeptical.

I also missed The Office, David, but I'm not about to miss House next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I will try to remain calm as I say this.
I have almost TWO WEEKS OF VACATION!!!!
Anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom knows what this means.
I think it's safe to say that being a reporter is a type A job for a type A personality.
I, unfortunately, am way down the alphabet, probably Q for "quasi," as the dictionary defines "a prefix,implying appearance, without reality." That or quagmire," which is how the newsroom feels at times: "a boggy land."
It takes about three days into vacation for nerve endings to stop vibrating as they realize there really is no deadline.
I don't have to tell you what kind of grin I had on my face the last few hours at work. I told David I want to stand up and let out a blood-curdling scream, just once in my life, at an inappropriate moment. You know, like they do in the movies.
"Now's a good time," he said.
You would have liked that wouldn't you David, To see me in trouble again!
Alas, I contained myself. Suffice to activate my out of office e-mail and change the phone message.
Michelle the Web-slave-master at work said I had to keep blogging while on vacation so people will keep reading. Get real Clark, no one reads this stuff. Put that whip down!
I don't know... maybe if I can find the strength to come out of the bubble bath and cross the room to the computer...............
I can hear my son's words right now "Oh, God mom, please, now I'm blind..."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I am the Saturday reporter because the rest of the crew is young and vibrant and lives for weekends.

Me, I'm just trying to avoid cleaning the house and grocery shopping. Muzak freaks me out. Hearing Neil's "Heart of Gold" in Pick 'n Save... sick and demented.

The newsroom is quieter on Saturdays. We wear old jeans and sweatshirts, eat those big, hard pretzels that crack fillings and swear out loud, if we had to I mean, which hasn't been the case so far. ( ;-D ).

Who knew that by age 49 something as mundane as running Saturday morning errands before work would be a highlight of the week.
Pitiful, really, but not without some indulgence.

Cranking a CD Katie at work burned for me. The windows on the Vibe rattle to Godsmack's "Voodoo" while I take my life into my own hands crossing Highway 151 at V, a debauchery (I love that word) of lanes and barrels and cars trying to avoid collision. Extreme bumper cars. I am terrified of 151 and haven't the courage to get on it. I am clueless as to where it goes.

Some worthwhile side trips along the way to work: Jitters, Act II Resale Shop, the Fond du Lac Public Library, Lakeside Park (just to measure how high the waves are) and the new gelato place at Forest Mall.

It is so worth skipping breakfast and lunch for a caramel gelato.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whenever I meet a Brit I thank their country for Hugh Laurie.
They know the now middle-aged actor for his quick-witted, comedic talent in British shows like "Jeeves and Wooster," "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" and "Blackadder."

We know him as the tortured genius, Dr. Greg House.

One of my no-guilt-whatsoever pleasures is watching Laurie in "House" on Tuesday nights. Grizzled, with a permanent stumble (is it hot in here?) and wrinkled shirts, the sarcastic, sacriligious neurosurgeon (one of the world's leading, of course) is emotionally damaged by the betrayal of a lover and physically suffering with a crippled leg. The pain forces him to pop vicodin, like candy.

He is often cruel, shocking even, in his maniacal pursuit of the truth and a diagnosis.

Me, as in among thousands of women, are smitten with him. We can't help ourselves, it's an actual medical condition, or mental illness, known as as the "Only I can save this guy from his demons" phenomenon.

Several "House" yahoo lists boast a female membership numbering in the thousands. The meaner House is, the more pills he ingests,the more we love him, not to mention his outstanding "philtrum."

I feel sorry for Jared. He sits next to me at work, and is, the world's greatest baseball fan.

Unfortunately, House has been postponed a month because of this (alleged)great American past time.

Jared's punishment for his guilt by association is checking and rechecking air times for House and any spoilers revealing tidbits about upcoming episodes.

Tony Blair and the Queen, please let us keep Hugh.
Trade you for Dr. McDreamy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This is what my younger sister in Washington wrote to me the other day when I inquired if she STILL had my Neil Young song book, after stealing it from my room 30 years ago:

"YES, I HAVE your damn Neil Young guitar book. Don't you have enough stuff in regards to him???? I will have to look for it. It is in my music box. I played a lot of that stuff on my guitar.....still do sometimes.....Needle and the Damage Done, Old Man, a lot of them. I think that is why I never gave it back. I will find it and make copies of those songs then send it to you."

I've heard this story before.
There's also some old record albums in question, but when I bring them up she changes the subject.

"This is why there are wars, because you two fight," my mother would say to the two of us, threatening to send us to the "Naughty Girl's Home," a ugly, forboding brick building located along Bluemound Road in Wauwatosa. I think it's a college now.

Old-timers say that it once, really was, a "Home for Wayward Girls."

My mother actually got on the telephone, which was at that time a party line, and pretended to call.
"Yes, Naughty Girls Home? I have two girls for you ready for pick up They can't seem to behave."

It's only slighty funny now.

Enough Diane. Give me my book back. Or I'm making a call..........

Monday, October 16, 2006

I have to go to the dentist and prepare for the bridge I've been putting off for years.
I kind of liked being gape-toothed in a professional setting. It it just one small way to, once again, stick it to the man.

You know, not having that blinding white smile which is the trend with everyone bleaching their teeth.

My middle-aged friends consider it a "miracle breakthrough" in retaining a semblance of oral youth. I tried it once. It burned and felt like I was doing laundry in my mouth.

My dentist said she has had countless women my age in her office with eroded tooth enamel from the constant bleaching of their teeth.

I've learned to live with mine.

"Try not to smile or laugh," my kids would tell me.

Then they tried a subtler approach.

"Mom, your teeth are hideous."

My dentist is a goddess, truly, because she helped me overcome my fear of dentists, which dates back to 1976. I was living in Italy and had a tooth infection. Held down by two attendants a dentist with very hairy arms burned away my gums with a hot wire. Smoke poured out of my mouth and I passed out.

I am not one for altered states anymore. I don't even like cold medicine. First, everything makes me tired. Second, I have a hard enough time living in the reality as we know it. I don't need any setbacks.

There's one exception.
Nitrous oxide.
It's difficult to explain in words how it works. Suffice to say there's a six inch needle being plunged through your gums up into the mjaor nerve that runs under your cheekbone and for some reason, it's extremely funny.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My son is out of the woods!
Back in June he left to find his way in life. Not his fortune, mind you - that would be, in his words, capitalism.
So off he headed to live in the forests of Oregon.
"Lots of people are doing it, mom." he said.
All I could think of was the movie "Deliverance."
The neccesity to survive is a driving force. He found a job at a telephone survey place, which I find strange. Ever since he was a teen his phone conversations amounted to little more than the words "OK," "Fine," and "I don't know." That has changed little.
"Why don't you call your mother?"
"You know I hate talking on the phone, mom."
His girlfriend met him out there a month ago, convinced he had become responsible enough for her to join him.
She certainly inspired him to become self-sufficient.
Now they found a little place to stay. Thankfully they won't be living in the woods through winter.
He did need money from his mother for the deposit on the rental property. I contemplated tough love, until his father said to me "I know you. Would you rather part with the money, curse for an hour (with that creative license you so aptly apply in cases like this) and sleep at night, or say no and lay awake thinking he's been abducted by some organic vegetable-growing, indentured slave type cult, who chant in long, nasal syllables, eat bulgar wheat, grow Rip van Winkle beards and have group sex?"
Well, that was simple.
I did remind my son of all the jobs he could do to make more money. He knows how to weld, do carpentry, work in a factory, sell tires, work fast food.
"Mom," he said with that patient sigh of his, knowing I had to be explained to again, because I am so dense. "I've come to realize that all those things do not cultivate my own, personal happiness."
He sent pictures. He cut off his dreadlocks and his hair is a short, ratty mess, but in a trendy, tousled way. He still has big ear plugs and a beard.
He and his girl are going to make jewelry, candles, and tie-dye shirts. He asked our sizes for Christmas.
Whenever I lament about him to someone who knows me well, they respond "Boy, which non-conformist in life does that sound like?"
Me, I answer sheepishly.
He's followed the road less traveled and I am proud of his gentle, loving spirit.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I weep thinking we can't eat fresh greens.
The news this morning said the e-coli tainting of California spinach has been traced to cattle manure. Now, there's warnings about lettuce.
How long must I eat chocolate as a vitamin replacement? How long can we suffer like this? ;-D

The death of my iPod
(I told you Rust Nver Sleeps)

In the great scheme of things, some entity exits just to smite me every time I think I know something.
This is not to be confused with being smitten. Far from it.
I am smote every time I try to use a piece of technology. Cursed.
I thought (my first mistake) I could master an iPod. No more fast forwarding through cassettes, skipping through CDs, and yes, repositioning the needle on the record player.
Now a person, like me, even at my advanced age, could just purchase one song at a time, the song that sticks in your mind so you can't sleep at night, but that's another story (There is a level of hell in which Abba sings "Take a Chance on Me" over and over again, without end).

It was a seven-month love affair. It was worth the partial hearing loss to blast Harry Nilsson's "Jump into the Fire (thanks T) ;" "Conquistador" by Procol Harem; The Byrd's "Eight Miles High;" "Warrior" by Wishbone Ash; John Mayall's incredible "Room to Move," the Dead's sing-a-long "Uncle John's Band;" Bruce's ode "Candy's Room;" and the haunting, slow version of Neil's "Mr. Soul," to name just a few.

I swear I didn't break it. It just stopped working. It died in my hands.

What ensued in trying to get the damn thing fixed by Apple was a nightmare that still haunts me. The first step was a hellish visit to the iPod on-line diagnostic center (Mordor) where this already traumatized iPod owner was tortured through a series of maniacal manipulations. Do this, do that, try this, press that, unload it, then load it again, change stuff on your own computer while chanting unintelligible computer geek jargon words, like "power source," "battery," "power up," "on switch" and "plug."

It took what seemed like hours to find out nothing, which then allowed me to move on to the next step: sending it to the Apple iPod place where technicians with names like "Igor" and "Damien" laugh hideously as they grab the special shipping box I had to order for $30 from the heaping mountain of dead iPods.

There was some gnashing of teeth for a few days. I was terrified of the warning on the diagnostic site that stated if they find out there is really nothing wrong with your iPod, like you were just trying to mess with their minds for the fun of it, they can charge you a whopping $200, or the cost of a new one. If and when they deem your iPod worthy of fixing, they will send you back a refurbished one, not your own. Anyone's. Someone like Jeffrey Dahmer could have had it in their ear.

In the end, they refused to fix my iPod under warranty. They claim, and there's no disputing their claim, believe it, I tried, that there is a dent in the casing. I could pay to get it fixed, an estimate which totaled the original cost of the item.

There is no dent and my dead iPod sits in my top right desk drawer, with the lost souls of songs trapped inside it.

Are you in there Neil?
"Helpless, helpless, helpless."

Anyone have a transister radio?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I know this sounds demented.
The squeamish, those that say "this heat and humidity feels so good" may not want to read further.
When the news this morning said a storm was headed this way with snow and bitter cold I felt a sense of exhilaration.
I get to haul out my winter coats.
I'm a coat freak. Every closet in my house bears the bulk of an assemblage of coats, jackets, and zip up hooded sweatshirts from every era, beginning with the 1970s. That's not counting the green plaid "car coat" I have that was my fathers, maybe from the 60s, and my brother's bowling jacket with his name on the back.
I still have my fringed, leather jacket from high school and a swing coat; faux fur coats popular in the 1980s, dress coats inherited from my older sister who insisted on owning several church coats coinciding with the season (bright red for Christmas) , and some funky ponchos I was tempted to haul back out because they are back in style but haven't had the guts to after I saw a bumper sticker that read "Real friends don't let friends wear ponchos."
A hand-crocheted one made for me decades ago by my aunt is floor-length, white with gold sparkles in it, and weighs about 50 pounds.
My father was a softspoken man who never yelled, so when he did discipline any of his kids it was major. One of the few times I got in trouble was in junior high school when he found out I was wearing his army jacket from World War II around town. Army jackets were the rage amidst the anti-war sentiment.
"That jacket is something you earn," he said quietly.
I was 13 year old and thought "what does he know."
How things change.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

First post:

It's hard to be almost 50 and a woman reporter in the newsroom.Reporters are young and can still burn the candle at both ends. They absorb technology using some bizarre form of osmosis.Most people my age are editors by this time.It's hard to be an old hippie, at least people identify me as such. I think it's the hair. I just don't brush it. My daughter, age 22, says almost daily "What's nesting in there today? Do you know there are hair products that can help you?"I can't seem to move on beyond maybe, 1975. I still haul out old records and stare at album covers. Thank God there are people at work, a few, I can play "what three albums would you take to a desert island with you" to stay sane.Then there are the theme "days," that make no sense, like "Beatle/Apple Day" but more about that later.I have 31 ticket stubs to Neil Young concerts. What I don't understand is why he hasn't noticed me yet, sitting there in the crowd. I swear that our eyes lock, but people tell me I have an "overactive imagination" and also "overeact" all the time. I don't see this, but if I disagree, then I'm "overeacting again."Anyway,as you can see, I have not become a world-famous rock and roll journalist like Cameron Crowe in "Almost Famous."I'm still here covering school board meetings and writing this blog, and I have no clue what I am doing.Literally, at this age, I mean.Talk to me.

Extreme Makoever: Home Edition took over little Dundee, Wisconsin, last week, an Irish-settled berg nestled at the end of Long Lake in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest. And it took over a big chunk of my life, some 12 to 13 hours days reporting, in part, on what editors called the "Ty Pennington" sightings.

By Sunday I was so drained I was talking gibberish. The sad part was no one noticed. They said that was normal for me.

Talk about beautiful people - they were, the EXTREME stars, coiffured, tan in a California sense of tan, even and bronze, the sparkle of their teeth blinding, their clothing, albeit Ty's faded jeans with the knees out, still looking in some way like they came straight from a designer.

His presence sent crowds into a frenzy, girls screaming his name, some near tears, others dropping to their knees. Men in the newsroom wondered why women would like his crazy, tousled hair, carefully askew.

You tell me? I don't know, I haven't cried at the sight a man, since, maybe 1975. OK I'm lying.
Neil Young singing with his buds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "Find the Cost of Freedom." It was Sept. 6 at the Marcus Amphitheater in Milwaukee on the Lakefront. Full moon was rising.

Photos of all the U.S. dead since the Iraq war started flashed on screen, in rows like a checkerboard.

It's over two thousand now, and you couldn't help but be moved at all their young faces.