Don’t Wake Up In Kansas

My mother lives on Long Island (My accent changes when I speak to her but that may be another post.)

Last week, she said ‘a storm is brewing, but it won’t be as bad as a hurricane.’  Today, I awoke to news reports of the East Coast closing off and shutting down.  I got worried.  Part of me wanted to be back there (it happens occasionally), stocking up on batteries and board games like everyone else.

As a kid, storms and power-outages were fun for me.   A break from routine.  The radio and ghost stories.  In shadows, but happy.  Even my parents were nice to each other, as I went from one house to the other during a particularly bad storm.  I remember Dad had electricity, Mom didn’t.

Anyway, good times.

Now, I worry a little more.

I called my mother earlier tonight, to see if she was prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

‘They closed the roads, the tunnels, everything.  The lights are flickering.  But I’ve got the flashlight and the radio.  I’m good.  If it gets wild up here, I can go downstairs.  Or I’ll go to bed.’

‘Just don’t wake up in Kansas,’ I said.

‘That’ll be one way to fix up the house.’

And so, dear readers, don’t wake up in Kansas.  Unless you live there.  East coasters, stay there and stay safe.  And play a board game for me.

Please Stay Tuned

Some of you may remember Coffeegate 2011.  Well, it’s become an annual event.  Earlier this week, I picked up my coffee with my left hand.  And promptly dropped it.  On my computer.  Again.  Maybe it was the weight of my engagement ring.  Or maybe it’s because I am seriously not left-handed.  At all.  Ever.

Anyway, the screen went black and coffee seeped between the keys before I could switch it off and flip it upside down.  I know what to do.  I’m a pro.  Obviously not.

I even tried to pull the battery out.  But it was stuck.  Probably held there by the left-over sugar from last time.  It was then I realised we’d run out of paper-towels, and so I had to use a touristy dish-towel.  It was decidedly non-absorbent and had a touristy poem on it.  Fail.

I then texted Sarge.  Not because I needed help.  But because he needed to know that his future wife is a moron.  He didn’t get the message.  I heard his phone go off in the bedroom.  He was at work.  Maybe he’s a moron sometimes, too.  We’re good for each other.

I updated Facebook on my phone, babbling about how much I need my own working laptop at the moment.  Because I do.  NaNoWriMo is coming up, the OU is online.  And then there’s the job-hunt.  Did I mention I was working on an application when The Dump happened?  I was.

Hemingway is drying out.  Again.   He’s still isn’t speaking to me.  I don’t blame him.  I haven’t been very good to him.  And now I’m going to replace him.

I’ve told Sarge I’m too embarrassed to take Hem anywhere to get fixed.  Again.  Especially not Sarge’s parents’ house.  No one else needs to know I’m a moron.  But now all of you do.  So, hi.

I’m writing this on Sarge’s laptop.  Which does not have a name.  I’m trying not to spend too much time on here.  I feel like a guest.

I’ve managed to read ahead in my counselling course-book and I’ve finished a few library books.  I submitted the application I was working on when The Dump happened.  Offline life is good.  More on that later.

Sarge is going to rescue everything on my hard-drive.  Tomorrow I’m going to smile sweetly and hope the gadget gods honour my insurance.  And I’d like one of these for Christmas.

What should I name the next computer?  I have an idea, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

I hope to have the new one up and running soon.  Until then, stay tuned and talk amongst yourselves.  The bar is still open.

On my Christmas list!

Little Boxes

I don’t have a day-job at the moment.  Every Monday, I have to go to down to the Jobcentre and report on what I’ve done to ‘look for work’.  Last week, my ‘activity’ equaled 36 hours.  This week’s projection is also 36.  That’s a full-time job.

For me, this involves drinking coffee while clicking through more than 6 job-sites, looking for the magic words, ‘please send CV and cover letter to’: someone who is probably younger than me at Shehasajobandyoudon’tdotcom.

Actually, those are easy.  Because I have a CV and can write damn good letters.  It’s the forms that get me.  Especially the ones online where you get timed out after let’s see, 6 minutes and thirty nine seconds.  That doesn’t even cover my email address.  Because it’s really long.  I also have a long employment history.  Because I’m older than some of the people hopefully reading my application.  And I’ve worked at a lot of places for little or no money.  Yes, that counts.

I could copy and paste.  But the only thing I hate more than full online applications is screwy formatting.  This over here is bold, this is in 8point and this is text-wrapped.  Obviously not too tight.  Cover it up.  Go away.  This is the point where I step away from the computer and watch Modern Family.  Or a movie with lots of hyphenated curses in it.

Sometimes, like today, I’m able to get my hands on a printed application.  They still exist.  The only thing I hate more than online applications and screwy formatting is BLOCK capitals.   And those little boxes.

I’m looking into some volunteer work.  This involves three forms.  My advisor looked them over.  And I tried to answer the questions in her eyes.

Yes, I’m aware I have a long email address.  Yes, that is my mother’s maiden name.   No, it isn’t German.  Yes, I have lived in 6 places in the last five years.  Yes, really.

After signing my name 8 times, I gathered up my passport and two other forms of ID and I left.

I still have to do a few hours of work to find work today.  After that, I may watch Pulp Fiction.

Oh, really?

Do You Read Naked?

On Monday, I finished Where’d You Go Bernadette, which was my 43rd book of the year and my 701st listed  on Goodreads.  And it really needs a question mark at the end.  Because questions without question marks annoy me.

As well as a grammatically incorrect title, it was the first hardcover book I’ve read in a while.  I read it naked.  Smooth and unadorned.  The book, not me.  I find book jackets flappy and useless, and lose them quickly.  On purpose.

Nobody trusts me with book jackets.  Which is why I prefer paperbacks.  Less fuss.

Anyway, I was online a few weeks ago, looking to order the book group book.  Which I already own, but can’t find.  I’ve moved seven times since I read Ask the Dust for the first time.  It isn’t in a our sixty-four book shelves/two cases in the living room.  It isn’t in the hallway with my old textbooks.  So, I bought it.  I might have bought Bernadette, too.  Because online shopping isn’t really shopping.

Lately, I read in bed at night.  Sometimes, I get to the middle of a book and read right to the end.  If not, I must have a spent train ticket to use as a bookmark.  I used to have real bookmarks, but then I got beyond the age of ten.  And I don’t have kids yet, so I won’t be seeing real bookmarks until they make me ones for Christmas.  And so, while I am in this limbo between ten and motherhood, I’m using train tickets.  I hope books exist when my kids do, I hope their parents aren’t the last people on earth to buy real books.  I hope books don’t shrink to band-aids on people’s foreheads like the remote-control thing called Samantha 2 in Bernadette.

While reading Bernadette, I did not read the last page first, as I sometimes do.  One of my old (and favourite) English teachers said reading the last page first puts the whole book in context and changes the way you read it.  Sometimes I start with the last page and sometimes I don’t.  It depends on what kind of experience/relationship I want to have with the book.

What are some of your reading habits?

Do you read naked?

Do  you read the last page first?

As for me, I’m now reading The Interrogative Mood.  Which more than satisfies my need for question marks.

Have you read it?

Naked and beautiful. See?

Back To School. In My Pajamas.

In an effort to get a little closer to the dream described in this post, I’m going back to school.  Well, I’m not actually going anywhere.  The course is online.  But I will be reading, studying, using highlighters, making notes, writing essays, drinking coffee and possibly pulling my hair out like any other student.  The difference is, I can do it all in my pajamas.

I will carry this through to certification, but it remains to be seen whether or not I’ll do the whole thing online.  I know I’ll have to get dressed at some point, unless I want to be one of those therapists that specialise in cuddle parties.  Which I don’t.

But for now, I’ll be doing an Introduction to Counselling course with the Open University.  In my house.

Now.  This is third time I  will be going for a degree/that damn piece of paper.

The first time, I had too much fun and the second time was no fun at all.  Well, maybe once or twice.

Safe to say, I wasn’t ready and my experiences back then will eventually make me a better counsellor when I get to be one.

Moving on.

Since I plan to succeed this time, I need a plan.

I got my course materials last week and since then I’ve been thinking about a few things.

I need a study space.  We live above a bus stop on a loud street.  Maybe because I’m older now, I can’t concentrate with noise happening.  I’ll be moving Hemingway into the office.  I may not have to leave the house, but it will be good for me to leave the livingroom.  It’s still noisy in the office, but less so than in the livingroom.

I need supplies.   Like highlighters and fresh notebooks and cheerful little post-its.  And Doritos.

I was recently on the phone with a friend from Uni number 1.  She is also going back to studying and she  asked me this, ‘Shit, do we need pencil cases?’  Maybe.  Maybe we do.

It really helps to have a super-supportive Senior Software geek fiancé.  Sarge has offered to get me noise-cancelling headphones, start me off with a new distraction-free user account on Hemingway and keep me in Zombie Coffee.  He is the best.

I need to stop being so hard on myself.  My Dad told me so last week.  So what if I’ve done this before?  The point is, I’m going to do it differently this time.  Dad is also the best.

No more feeding red goats.  This happened this morning:

Sarge:  What are you doing?

Me:  I’m reading.

Sarge:  Facebook just told me you fed a red goat.

Me:  I can multitask.

But seriously, no more robbing warehouses in Chicago, baking four pizzas in the brick oven, feeding red goats or any other Facebook game ‘action’.  Or at least less of it (see item three on this list).

There.  I’ve put it on paper/screen.  If I do/don’t do these things, I will be a success.  Now, I need to find a pencil case.

Are you/have you gone back to studying after a long break?  What helped you through?

Like this one.

Penguin On Board

Regular readers will know that Sarge likes to play Go. He plays it online and is also a member of a local club. Though I believe the first rule of Go club is you don’t talk about Go club.


We’ve traipsed around game shops looking for what Sarge calls ‘a real Go board’ and even the right wood so he can make his own. A few weeks ago, we sat down to watch The Go Master, a biopic of Go Seigen. Before I watched this beautiful film, I thought of Go as something like Chinese checkers. I was wrong. And now I want to learn to play.

Sarge has tried to talk me through moves. When I look at a board, I still don’t know what I’m looking at. Except maybe black and white stones that make me want to eat Junior Mints.

Last night Sarge came home with a board that he’d ordered.  I was writing, and he was on the couch.  I thought he was happily playing out moves, and I went over to see if he was winning.

This is what I found:

A penguin! That’s definitely a penguin.







*Penguin is not actual game play.

We may even play a real game.  When the penguin waddles off the board.

How Many Pillows Can You Fit In A Washing Machine?

This was going to be yesterday’s post, but all the fresh air from the weekend left me too tired to crank up the computer last night.


September’s book group selection was Pontypool Changes Everything. Since the Afterword basically states the movie is better, and people really shouldn’t have read the book, few of us did.

When we got together on Friday night to watch Pontypool, the warm-up act was this, from Even Stevens:

Don’t ask me why. I’m still not sure.

And this was our interpretation of it:

Good friends, good times, good cakes, good night.

On Saturday, Sarge and I went shopping. It looked a little something like this:

20 people have liked this on Facebook so far. Second only to the announcement of our engagement. I’m also getting a lot of compliments on my shoes. Before you ask, they are from here. I may also send this photo to This Is What Disability Looks Like.

When we got home, Sarge wondered aloud: how many pillows can you fit in a washing machine?

Two, apparently. We checked:

On Sunday, we went to a friend’s birthday party. Where I discovered another way to eat more vegetables. Pakora everything.

After that, on the way to my (almost) in-laws’ house for dinner, I looked up and found this:


How was your weekend?