I meant to write this post days ago, but it's been one of those weeks where I just couldn't convince myself to do the things I should. But I wanted to talk for just a minute about the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee that was on TV this week. The first thing I want to say is that I am an abysmal speller (and don't think I didn't get a little help on the spelling of 'abysmal.')* When I lived in Austin, I applied for some jobs with UT, and they required a spelling test. I took the test twice and never scored high enough to apply for a secretarial position with the school. So, I was never a viable spelling bee candidate. But there's a documentary about students participating in the National Spelling Bee called Spellbound that I am in love with. I'm actually watching it as I type this.
My parents called this morning and wanted to come up for a few hours to spend Memorial Day with me. It was a nice surprise--although if I'd had a little more notice I would have vacuumed, but dirty carpet is what they get for giving me little advanced warning--because my parents are kind of awesome.Mom mentioned that they'd thought we might cook out, but since it was rainy and I don't own a grill, I didn't give much credence to that idea. I was surprised, then, when my parents came up to my place carrying bags of groceries and a grill in a box. A tiny grill. One might even go so far as to call it cute, but the punishment for undermining the grill might mean one doesn't get to partake in the delicious charbroiled food cooked upon it. So, I didn't call it cute.I let them in, and since it was close to lunchtime, Dad started prepping the food while Mom and I sat on the couch and got caught up on the latest news. It took me a while to realize we weren't having hamburgers. Or hot dogs. We were having kabobs.Generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with kabobs, it's just that it wasn't what I was expecting. He got this idea and wanted to try it out, and that's the sometimes weird but often wonderful thing about my dad. He and my mother live in the small town where I grew up, and I sometimes used to joke that it was a town that almost forcibly resists culture. But sometimes major trends and fads make it all the way to our little corner of the state, and people like my dad find out about them. Five years after I tried my first mojito, he heard about the drink and decided he'd like to try one. He grew his own mint for the mojitos, and the thing you should know is that my father is a much better gardener than he is a bartender. We had an abundance of mint, and the result was that he became very generous with it in order to prevent waste. The first time he handed me a glass, I stared at the veritable forest floating amidst the liquid ingredients."Next, time, I don't want a salad at the bottom of my drink," I teased him.When the mint started to overrun the place, he put it in the iced tea as well, and insisted on calling it "mohi-tea." Because while he is often a really, truly funny man, my father sometimes cannot resist the siren call of a cheesy joke.I like the fact that my father is curious and willing to try new things. Sure, I wasn't thrilled when he commandeered a bottle of my wine to try his hand at French cooking, and we have actually had an argument about what truly makes a sandwich a panini, but generally I think it's an admirable quality. It's one that I think I've inherited in small ways--I prefer to sample pop culture more than food, but I can be persuaded to try a new drink now and again. The kabobs were good, even the slices of grilled pineapple that I pooh-poohed early on turned out to be delicious, and I was glad Dad decided to try something different. I did have hot dogs for dinner, though. You know, just to be patriotic and all.
I am off today, and I am sitting at home in what, sadly, might be my favorite pair of jeans. I say "sadly" because after close to five years of denim-y good times, they need to be retired. They were a gift from someone who couldn't wear them for some reason, but they fit me perfectly.
I've been running on fumes all week. My best friend came into town this weekend and stayed through Wednesday morning, so we'd been staying up late catching up, sometimes over pomegranate martinis. Wednesday afternoon, I should have come home and taken a nap, but instead, I changed and headed out to the Little Rock Film Festival. I didn't make it in time to get into the movie, and could have gone home and taken a nap, done a quick workout, and gone to bed. Instead, I drank a beer and read a book called Rapture Ready, which is about Christian pop culture. I skipped getting caught up on sleep in order to learn about Christian stand up comedy and Christian wrestling. I don't exactly regret making that choice because the book is really interesting, but this morning, I drank as much coffee as I could stand, edging towards the early stages of caffeine poisoning where I buzz around like a hummingbird and start to think I can actually feel my hair growing before falling asleep on the nearest flat surface. Still a little draggy, I went to work.
Today, I needed to buy something train related for a work thing. I could explain why, but you'd stop caring well before I finished. The main thing is I kept putting it off until we've gotten to the point where I'm running out of time to purchase something train-ish. At first, I thought the idea of Hobo chalk would be funny but maybe that's because I'm a fan of John Hodgman and I saw that one episode of Mad Men. The thing is, my item will go into a basket of similarly themed items that will be auctioned off, and I thought sidewalk chalk with a shoddily made label proclaiming it "Hobo chalk" might not be a reference everyone would find as amusing as I do. I'm not even sure it would make sense.
At work today, a patron asked me how to spell a couple of words. I always think it’s funny when someone asks me to do that because for someone with a master’s degree in English, I’m a pretty terrible speller. I managed both of today’s words without having to look anything up, which is a nice ego boost, but I’m still surprised when I’m called upon to do it. A few months back, there was a man who used to fairly regularly approach me and ask how to spell different things. One afternoon, he asked how to spell ‘lettuce’ and later ‘cabbage,’ but then things took a darker turn as he asked how to spell ‘alcohol,’ ‘marijuana,’ ‘intoxicated,’ ‘assault,’ and ‘angrify.’ We spelled that last one E-N-R-A-G-E-D. On the one hand, I found this fascinating, like a reverse sort of Mad Lib. I spent most of the afternoon trying to come up with a story that contained all of those words. On the other hand, it would never occur to me to ask a librarian how to spell something. I would ask how to get online so I could look it up, or I would ask where I could find a dictionary, but I wouldn’t take the direct route and just ask the thing I really wanted to know.
My friend Sherry and I had a plan. Some people hope to make it rich by winning the lottery, but Sherry and I decided to write a series of mysteries. We both read them a lot, so we know the genre. For the type we're planning to write, the kind we've seen in dozens of incarnations all over the library, we need to have a few key things: a spunky heroine, a sassy sidekick (preferably a woman of color or an old lady although in a pinch a slutty friend will do. It helps if the friend in question is rich to finance the heroine's snooping.), at least one hunky love interest--although two is fairly common, and titles that are puns. But mostly, you gotta have a gimmick.
I went to Pub or Perish last night. I thought I was there early enough, but I didn't see any seats available. After loitering around for a few minutes, I saw some guys get up and leave, so I casually wandered over to their table. I put my hand on the back of one of the chairs at about the same time that an older lady came up and did the same thing. We smiled shyly at each other, and she asked, "Oh! Are you sitting here?" I admitted that I'd been thinking about it, but the lady, whose name is Ann, agreed that since we'd both come alone, we'd just sit together. We chatted a bit, and when another lady sidled up to our table, Ann asked if she was looking for a place to sit. She offered our extra seat, adding, "We just met!" When she said it, the arrangement seemed like a such a lark.
I love a festival, but a literary festival is particularly exciting for me because I studied creative writing in grad.
Reading a television blog, I found out the newest episode of the TBS comedy My Boys had a subplot that involved a mustache growing contest. Have you ever seen guys do this? I have. I met two guys at a party who were two weeks into just such a competition, and the results were fairly skeevy looking. Then again, if you’re the kind of guy who’s willing to competitively grow facial hair, I’m guessing you’re not terribly vain. I found the look distracting, but I talked to them both anyway because I found what they were doing completely fascinating.
I just finished an online class, so I've been giving my brain a much needed break. I picked up a stack of mysteries from work, and I've been making my way through those. When I want something light, I read "cozy mysteries," which are mysteries that frequently feature some sort of theme (coffee mysteries, Sudoku mysteries, gardening mysteries. One day we'll talk about the absurd number of hobbies and professions that have been the basis for a mystery series) and usually have titles that are puns on the chosen theme. In these books, somehow the dead people are almost never the point. Murder is mostly a puzzle to solve. I also only read mysteries written by women. I’ve made a few exceptions, but the last one I read is a pretty good example of why I tend to avoid the male authors.
I called my best friend today to find out where she would be doing her residency, but she reminded me that she finds out on Thursday, helpfully clueing me in that today was Wednesday. I felt bad until she reminded me that she never calls me on my birthday. We've known each other since we were 18, but she always thinks my birthday is the 7th instead of the 8th. The one time she called me on the day, she apologized for the late birthday wishes.
Sometimes I refer to myself as faux Irish. I'm pretty sure my last name is Irish, and I like their beer. Occasionally I refer to the Irish as "my people" because I think that's funny, but, I mean, that's a stretch. I have a fondness for Ireland, but that's mostly because I spent a semester in Cork. It's travel nostalgia.
Today is my birthday. Every year when my friends and family ask what I want for my birthday, I always think what I'd like is for someone who is not me to plan something and tell me when to show up. That's what happened last year, and it was AWESOME! I'm never quite prepared for my birthday, but his year I have an excuse. I got a bad case of food poisoning that's kept me out of it since Monday. By the time I felt better, I didn't have time to plan anything. Since I've done nothing since I got back from vacation except sleep and catch up on "General Hospital," I spent a lot of my birthday washing laundry and cleaning my apartment. Still, it was a beautiful day, so I did a little run outside. All of my friends contacted me to wish me a happy birthday. I'm going for coffee later and may buy myself a little something cake-like to celebrate. Come to think of it, the fact that I can hold down solid foods seems like a pretty fantastic gift considering the way the week started off.
New Orleans was amazing. My friends John and Randy were fantastic hosts, and they knew some of the best places to watch the parades. I discovered that I catch beads like someone who was traumatized by them as a child with a lot of flinching and looking away at the last minute. I got hit in the head more than once as a result of some long strands of beads and my overall poor form.
I'm going to New Orleans this weekend for Mardi Gras. There's a certain embarrassment that I feel about saying that, like maybe that's a ritual I'm too old for. As if I said I was going to spend my 31st birthday on Spring Break. So, I hasten to add that I will be going to stay with friends, check out some parades, and see the city. I've never been to New Orleans before, and I'm not planning to spend my first visit (or any subsequent ones) showing my breasts to strangers and trying not to get thrown up on amidst a crushing throng of drunk people.
Tonight my friend Jill and I went to a single mingle at our apartment complex. Single. Mingle. I can't stop saying it because I think it sounds hilarious. Lookit, I'm a bit of a commitment-phobe and like many members of my generation, I have trouble looking sincerity directly in the eye. I'm all about irony and things that are awesomely bad, so the idea of a "single mingle" is compelling because it promises to be deliciously awful.
For reasons that we'll get to in a minute, I decided to attend an improv class at The Public Theatre done by Josh and Matt, two of the guys from ImprovLittle Rock. I called Friday morning to see if I needed to sign up in advance and spoke with Josh, who nicely told me I could just show up and gave me directions. So, I didn't need to give him my name in advance, although he did point out that "If you tell me your name, then, we'll know who you are when you get here." True enough. Anything else I needed to know? "That's it. Just show up at three. Come dressed...in clothes, and yeah..."
I stole this format from Lindsey Millar, but I like it. Here are some of the weird things I've picked up from what I've been reading lately: "The Robber/Sanchez must be pure evil and inhuman [to make a joke about the death of Felix Leiter]. James Bond ought to kill them, preferably in a similar way or at least in some fashion equally, if not more, gruesome. Yet when Bond responds to the death of a villain with such nonchalance we laugh or giggle and generally take pleasure not only in the death but the way in which Bond responds to it, namely, with such lightheartedness that he might have just flushed a fish down the toilet instead of dropping a defenseless Blofeld wheelchair and all down a smoke stack." The essay "Don't You Men Know Any Other Way?" by Jacob M. Held from the book James Bond and Philosophy. There are some intriguing essays, although, one of the essays that addresses sexism in Bond films seems to conclude it's nothing to worry one's pretty little head about.
Some of us got together this weekend to play in a trivia contest/fundraiser, and we ended up winning the grand prize: $500. We split it 10 ways, and we each paid to sign up, but even so…YAY! It was maybe even more exciting than the time I won 750 nickels at a riverboat casino. Plus, one of the people on our team was having a birthday, so there was cake.