Monday, September 23, 2002

The quiet of it all

For the last month or so I’ve been TV-less. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy television and the escapism that it allows me to enjoy on a regular basis. What I’ve noticed in the past year is that it’s not so much the programming as it is the background noise and distraction that seems to compel me to turn the damn thing on and leave it on for good chunks of my awake time.

I know it makes me feel connected to the world. On September 11th I was getting up around 6:20 or so when Becky called and told me to go turn on the television. I was unemployed at the time and was going to spend a few days visiting my parents in New York before they went on their vacation to Italy. Well, it’s probably no surprise that neither of our trips took place as planned. I also found myself glued to the TV to catch anything new they might have to say about the events as they unfolded. After about 4 days of mostly repetitive stuff, I finally ended up having to get out of the house to keep myself from becoming one with the couch.

I also found that whenever I was alone, I would turn on the TV for companionship. There are, as you might surmise, good shows that lend themselves to background noise. These can be caught at any time and watched or not watched. News programs are good for this. Others are good distractions that suck you in and get you involved. I love cooking and home improvement shows, like Trading Spaces and practically anything that is not Emeril on the FoodTV channel. I usually come away charged with neat things I could do, or thoughts like, ‘hay as a decoration is bad’ and ‘there is no way I can be compelled to cook a goose in my own home.’

I don’t really have a ton of programs that I must watch on a regular basis. Granted I would want to watch the last season of Buffy’s now that Di has gotten me all caught up with the first 6 seasons. But mostly I want to be entertained. I don’t do a lot of thinking with the TV. That is what concerns me.

I’ve had times in my life when I wanted to avoid thinking about things, because then I’d have to start doing something about my life. So being TV-less has given me plenty of quiet contemplative time. As I type this I can hear the whoosh of cars driving past the apartment and the whir of the computer fan. That’s it.

In a recent post, Spinny’s thoughts made me think about how we fill our lives with noise and don’t make time for the quiet. To think and to not think. To lose ourselves in a world that is much bigger than us, but to feel a connection to it and not feel alone.

Next Friday I will finally be pulling the rest of my stuff out of storage. My TV will emerge. I will hook it up and watch programs that will entertain me and allow me to escape, but I will make the time and effort to escape from it’s pull to enjoy the quiet and listen to the real world around me.

Tell me about your quiet times.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Furniture Envy

Yeah, stranger things have happened, but I’ve come to the realization that I’ve got furniture envy. I’ve been here for about a month now and still I’m mostly sitting on the floor (or on the bed on the floor) when I’m in my room. I’ve been thinking about my furniture a lot more than before. This morning I was sitting on the edge of the bed, contemplating clothes for the day when I got distracted by where I think things will go. That is as soon as I haul them across the bay and lug them up the stairs into my lithesome blue room. Timing seems to be everything. I’ve been busy during the day with a ton of other projects that need to get done. I also need to enlist some help to help with the half dozen bulky items and the multitude of little boxes of clothes and whatnot. I appear to have quite a lot of whatnot. With any luck I’ll be trimming it down a bit, but it seems to act like weeds, growing out of control when you look away.

I will be getting one piece of furniture on Saturday. I broke down and bought a loft bed. While contemplating furniture placement this morning, I also questioned the wisdom of a not quite-in-shape, short, 35 year old climbing in and more importantly, out of a loft bed on a regular basis. I actually thought about how and when I would admit to you that something stupid/funny/dangerous had occurred and if I would get a decent price on craig’s list for it. The allure of having a place to paint and sleep without taking up any extra space was just too great to ignore. Only time will tell if this was as good an idea in reality as it was in my head.

So, I’ve been enviously eyeing other people’s furniture. Even a crappy chair or table is better than propping myself up with pillows and using boxes as nightstands and table tops. I'm thinking that I will get a little couch of sorts for my cool window area. Something cheap or free would be nice, but maybe something that can fold out to a bed. I'm pretty sure that house guests will not be likely to be happy sleeping in a loft. This couch idea is still pretty loose, but I've noticed that there are quite a few people offering their truck to move things around the area. Very good to know especially when the sofa of my dreams appears.

This morning while I waited for my coffee to drip into my cup, I flipped through a Hold Everything catalog. My God, how extraordinarily overpriced this stuff was. Granted they are not marketing to me, but to the wealthy people looking to better organize their casual button-down blue shirts, their shoes of every color and their out of season garments in a timeless classic way. My budget is more comfortable with my plastic containers with p-touch labels rather than the discrete beige canvas with matching leather tags. It’s just stuff to store my whatnots and as I mentioned before I’m looking to reduce the whatnots in my life anyway.

On a completely different note, I wanted to wish Cat a very Happy Birthday today. With any luck she was the recipient of a German Chocolate Cherry Bundt Birthday Cake after mentioning to her roomies via IM that she loves this cake most of all.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Getting Lost

I’ll be taking a road trip this weekend to visit Cat for her birthday. It’ll be the first time I’ve driven down from Northern California to Southern California. It seems a little weird that I’ve lived in California for years and yet haven’t gone from one end to the other by car yet. Okay, I’ll just admit here that I’ve never really been to the northern tip of Northern California or anywhere in the North West part of the country either. It’s on my list of things to do and see at some point. In any case, it’ll be a trip of note (then again anything outside of a 50 mile radius of San Francisco is a trip of note) and preparations have been taken. I’ve packed, checked out the car, and through the wonders of the Internet, printed out a copy of my route to take with me.

I like knowing where I’m going most of the time. I prefer to travel efficiently, when I know the destination will be a lot more fun than the actual journey. This is different from the time-to-spare travel mode, where there often isn’t a particular destination, just lots of time to waste and taking a road just to see where it goes is a standard procedure.

It makes me think about when I was younger and we’d be sitting around the house and Mom or Dad would tell us to get our shoes on. Inevitably someone would ask where we were going. Sometimes it would be the store or to someone’s house, but every once in a while, the answer would be To Get Lost. So all four kids plus Mom and Dad would pile into the station wagon and we’d be off. We’d drive around for a while and inevitably end up at an ice cream parlor. It was good to get to the ice cream portion of this ritual. I would always be worried that we wouldn’t make it back, because getting lost was a scary thing for me when I was little. I had this na├»ve notion that my father knew his way home from every ice cream shop, so that all he had to do was find one and then we’d be able to get back home.

Even when I was older and could drive myself, I would worry that I’d run out of gas and get stuck some place or be late for something important. So getting lost still retained that element of fear. I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction. I know how many turns I can make before I lose my ability to backtrack to some place familiar. Maps of all shapes and sorts are a source of comfort and security for me.

I still remember my first big solo road-trip adventure. It was Columbus Day Weekend and my parents were away on vacation. I was living at home that semester and going to a local college and my brother Bill was a senior in high school. My friend Karin invited me down to visit her at GWU, where we met our freshman year. I was bored and looking for adventure, so I started making plans. I drove our family station wagon down from New York to Washington, DC. I don’t remember getting lost or making a wrong turn anywhere. I do remember driving around and realizing how insanely difficult it was finding parking in DC. But it was a fun and tiring weekend.

I’ve taken dozens of road trips since then. Most of them were uneventful, nothing important or expensive broke on the car, no one was hurt and no one was lost along the way. A few years back I was taking a walk with my Mom and we somehow got onto the subject of getting lost. I asked her where we were going those times we would ‘get lost’. As it turns out I come by my fear of getting lost naturally. Whenever she needed to go some place she’d never been before, she would ask Dad to do a dry run with her the night before. We were too young to leave home alone, so we’d get dragged along. And if you’ve ever spent any time with a child under the age of 8, you learn ways to reduce the number of questions you have to answer. Getting lost was the best way to avoid the barrage of questions we would have asked if the destination was known. We laughed as I shared my memories of getting lost.

Tell me about your memories of getting lost.

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

100 Random Bits

An email list I belong to got us all listing 100 random things about each other. I found it facinating how much information you can learn from a person through these random facts. Equally fascinating how much there still is to learn about them. Here's my list:

1. I love making lists – they make me feel good especially when I’m really stressed out.
2. If I won a million dollars I would quit my job and paint.
3. I’ve only painted for the last 7 years so I still have a lot to learn.
4. I love driving cars with stick shifts.
5. When I drive automatic cars, I spend half the time stomping the floor
board looking for the clutch.
6. I’m the only left-handed person in my family.
7. I love cheese, but life has cruelly made me lactose intolerant.
8. I’ve been laid off three times in the past 15 months.
9. I hate being bored.
10. I’m easily amused.
11. I often enjoy commercials more than the TV show I am watching.
12. I always sing in the car.
13. I’ve worn glasses since I was 10.
14. I started my period when I was 10 and didn’t know what it was until it.
happened the second time.
15. I am the third of four children.
16. I learned to smoke in the girl scouts when I was 13.
17. I don’t normally smoke but really want one after I have 5 or more beers.
18. I don’t drink that much anymore.
19. I drink decaf coffee and have since May 2000.
20. 3 of the 4 cars I have owned have been blue.
21. I have 4 nieces.
22. I’m looking forward to being cool Aunt Stephanie.
23. I like brussel sprouts.
24. I’m an Oakland A’s fan.
25. I’m half-Italian and half-German.
26. I love to cook and LOVE to eat.
27. For as long as I can remember, I have gotten these odd body aches but they aren’t as bad since I’ve stopped drinking caffeine.
28. I love playing board and card games.
29. I used to have a black thumb, but have three plants that are still alive and make me think that it was just a phase.
30. My mother thinks that my bisexuality is a phase.
31. I was seduced by my first female lover.
32. My mother thinks that my last lover seduced me. She was wrong.
33. I was born and raised in NY.
34. I do not have a New York accent.
35. I love books of all sorts and love libraries because there, books are
36. I like to sleep with the window open.
37. I love limes, especially in sparkling water.
38. I used to be a lifeguard and had the best tan for 6 years.
39. My astrological sign is Scorpio with Aquarius rising as well as Aquarius moon.
40. I love listening to people’s stories.
41. I have 4 computers (2 Pcs and 2 Macs).
42. A friend told me that statistically there is one computer and one gun for every household in the US. I am obviously hording some gun collectors' computers.
43. I made a website to learn how to do HTML because all my friends were doing it – four o'
44. I got kicked out of college twice.
45. My favorite playstation game is Bust-A-Move 4.
46. I have always lived close to water.
47. I was supposed to fly to NY on September 11th.
48. I don’t have any tattoos or piercings, but keep thinking I will at some point if I could only decide what I would still think is cool when I'm old and wrinkly.
49. I puff my cheeks when I drink and got the nickname Cheeks and Puffer from my family when I was a kid.
50. A squirrel bit me when I was 12.
51. I love going to the movies.
52. I played goalie on my high school soccer team.
53. I’m a closeted pack rat.
54. When I moved to California, I devised a color-coded system and database to keep track of my possessions in my storage locker.
55. I used this same system when I pack up my stuff and moved this past summer.
56. I’m a bit of a pyromaniac and love to play with candles, campfires, fireplaces and stuff.
57. I love sensual things, rich colors, the way things feel, smell, sound
and taste.
58. I’m allergic to cats, dust, olive trees, and most grasses.
59. I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate and don’t like white chocolate at all.
60. I’ve traveled to 12 different countries and to or through all but 11 of
the 50 states.
61. I hated vegetables as a kid, but really like them now.
62. I started getting grey hair in my early 20s and I dye my hair to hide
this fact.
63. I was raised Catholic and still know a lot of the mass by heart.
64. I’ve been in the hospital twice, once when I was five to have my tonsils and adenoids removed and again when I was 27 to remove a bunch of fibroid tumors from my uterus.
65. When I was in college I sold Cutco knives.
66. I love gadgets and technical doodads and I've got a bunch of them that I really don't need.
67. My last partner had a liver transplant last year.
68. I actually like liver. I figure it’s because I was never forced to eat it.
69. I pretend that I’m not a morning person, but am usually happiest in the morning.
70. I prefer morning sex to nighttime sex.
71. I went to my high school prom with my best friend Christopher who also happens to be gay.
72. When we went back to our 10 year reunion, we were one of 4 people who were not wearing black outfits.
73. I was editor-in-chief of my high school yearbook.
74. The first time I was ever home sick I was 20.
75. I like giraffes.
76. I’ve never had a surprise party.
77. I love guacamole.
78. I tore the ACL in my left knee playing in a squash tournament and
strangely enough I was actually winning for the first time.
79. I hate being too hot, especially if my eyelids get sweaty.
80. I’ll be 36 this year.
81. I’ve never dreaded getting older and have never lied about my age.
82. I used to play French Horn and always assumed that I’d have one when I was older.
83. I don’t have a French horn.
84. I love shoes and hate when you have to break them in. Almost all of my shoes are extremely comfortable.
85. I want to learn Spanish.
86. Sometimes I talk too much.
87. When I catch myself talking too much, I will consciously try to listen
more than I talk. When I do this, my silence seems to freak out my friends.
88. I hate it when people who know it all spend all their time telling
people what to do, whether anyone wants to hear it or not.
89. I am guilty of retail therapy.
90. I miss my grandmother.
91. I’m 5”1’ 1/2 but always tell people I am 5”2’.
92. I lost about 50 lbs in the past year.
93. I learn from my mistakes and I make a lot of mistakes.
94. I collect state quarters from both the Denver and Philadelphia mints.
95. I didn’t talk until I was almost 4 years old.
96. I drive much faster than I should when I’m by myself.
97. I’ve driven in NYC enough that I can be an aggressive driver when I need to be.
98. I think I’ve got sexy ankles.
99. I’ve been told I make little noises when I’m reading or watching TV.
100. Even when I’m in a really foul mood, music always makes me feel better.

Tell me a random bit about you