piffle

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Movin’ Right Along

I know, it’s practically unheard of for me to update twice in one week, but with the sense of accomplishment that I’m feeling today, I figured why not add one more thing to the list of things I’ve done.

The crux (rock climbing pun intended) occurred on Sunday when I went climbing. I made it to the top of my first rock at Cliff Drive. It was a little easier than others that I’ve tried, but it was 50ft high.

This morning I got up early, went to the DMV, got the license, and made it home by 9:00am. I’ve been putting off this license adventure for some time (since my birthday in January when it expired), and I figured if I wanted to help Joe on the 20hr round trip drive without staying at the speed limit and in constant fear of being pulled over, I should attempt to follow the law.

As soon as I got home I called our Car Talk approved mechanic and arranged to have our car in the shop tomorrow so we won’t break down on the road.

And finally, just now, to top it all off, I taught myself the basics of HTML*. Right now my computer says 10:01 am. BAM! (that was the sound of me putting the smack-down on my to do list)

*i.e. I made it through the first few web tutorials for my summer classes, so don’t call me and ask me to design your web page unless you want it in one font, all black and white, and aligned to the left. Oh yeah, and I still haven’t really learned how to actually post it on the net. Baby steps.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


6/10/06
Climbing Fool or Foolishly Climbing

With summer officially in full swing a new hobby seems to have lassoed my interest and is conspiring to keep me out of doors and away from nagging responsibilities (like groceries, cleaning the house, work necessary to my fast-encroaching graduate student status). While I can’t really claim to be a rock climber yet, seeing as I have never really climbed farther than 20 ft up*, I can for sure claim the title of wannabe.

The bug first bit in April, and I was moderately taken. I was interested, but not ecstatic. I refrained from joining Joe on his outings for the next few weeks, preferring instead to flexercise safely on my yoga mat at home. In mid-May us and three other friends (two of which are climbers and the other is married to one of the climbers) decided to venture south-east of KC to Truman Lake.

Maybe I’ve been in the city for a little too long and any halfway decent natural area would have seemed just as lavish, but to my recently deprived self, Truman Lake was dazzling. In the middle of practically nowhere (we passed Tightwad, Missouri, population 500ish on the way) we hiked a short distance from the car to a 40ft high rock where we could repel directly down to the lake. Thankfully there were small ledges where we could stand at the water’s edge and go swimming in between climbs, then sunbathe on the rock like lizards to dry off.

Repelling down to a new area is always a little scary, but it’s one of my favorite parts of rock climbing. You don’t have to think about falling off the rock because you’re not on it. Just keep your feet out in front of you; your hand on the brake and it’s a gentle glide down to the edge.

Climbing is an entirely different story. In the two trips that we’ve made to climb at Truman so far, I’ve nearly died both times. (Of course that last statement is a wild exaggeration, nobody dies climbing, do they?) On my first attempt I chose to go up a route significantly to the left of our anchor. Of course I almost immediately fell off and swung, “matrix style” to use the terminology of the boys, and spun a few times before catching myself. I managed to squeak by with just a minor-but-impressive looking cut in my knee-pit.

My second scary climbing moment resulted in a bum bum. The first bum meaning disabled or malfunctioning, the second meaning my rear-end. To be more succinct: my butt was fetching combination of blue, purple, and black. This accident happened in the exact same place on the exact same rock as my last mishap. Well, in reality I was a little lower when I fell this time, but I took to heart the advice that I had been given in order to avoid a repeat matrix. I kept my feet out in front, between the wall and me. I remember thinking, “Yes! I caught myself,” right as my bum swung into the rock. The reason my butt hit rather than my feet is too complicated to describe here. It involves dynamic ropes, the amount of slack I had, how far I was from the direct route up, the levels of the ground, etc. Perhaps the best part of the whole ordeal was getting to blame my belay, who also happens to be my boss at the library. I do feel obligated to say that it wasn’t really his fault, but he did ask me to pull down my pants to see if I was OK. Now I don’t know which point to bring up during my 6-month evaluation: the fact that I nearly died when my life was in his hands or the sexual harassment card. Either should be able to get me a nice raise. I have since taken to calling this place Mount Nemesis, and I have vowed not to attempt to climb it again until my skills are up to par.

One might think that all this death defying might lead me to reconsider climbing, and it did. I decided to take it more seriously. Joe and I had our third anniversary this week, and how did we celebrate? We bought our own rope and all the necessary equipment we need to climb on our own, and now we have taken to going out to a small local rock three or four times a week. I love it because it really challenges me; it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I’m also really bad at it, which I’m hoping translates into a lot of improvement, and if not, I can always assume the handle Rocksmacked.



* In all fairness to myself, I am climbing with others much more advanced than me, and therefore I feel confident stating that I could climb much higher than 20 feet, given a rock of my level. Or a nearly level rock. By level I mean in comparison to the ground.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter

This year we did absolutely nothing for Easter. I did harbor some ambitions of coloring eggs, especially since Joe’s been eating so many of the hard-boiled variety, but our eggs are brown and come from a local farm that readily offers pictures of its chickens frolicking in their expansive fields. (They don’t yet have a website, so I can’t share the chicken love). Anyways, buying eggs from another source seemed like evil betrayal, and Joe didn’t really seem to be too much into colored eggs for breakfast. I did get an Easter basket in the mail from my parents, but the chocolate was all melted, rendering “Sunny” the hollow bunny into a likeness more reminiscent of the ghost of Easters past.

We did find the time on Sunday to go rock climbing, a new-ish hobby of Joe’s. It was my first time trying it, and I must say that I had my doubts. Especially when we first got there and we had to climb the “not steep” part of the cliff without a harness in order to attach a rope to a tree at the top. When we reached the top we had to basically jump backwards off of the completely vertical edge of the cliff to repel ourselves back down to safety. After all that, mustering up the courage to actually climb with a harness was easy, and mostly successful, by my standards at least. I think I’ll probably try it again, but not with the two time a week fervor with which Joe has embraced the sport.

Otherwise life has been nothing by lovely normalcy. I sent in my acceptance to Syracuse a few weeks ago (with an advance on tuition, how can they make you begin to pay for school before they even evaluate you for financial aid?)

Self-esteem boost of the week: last Friday my boss (at the health center) confirms that I will be leaving at the end of June and informs me that she will be replacing me with a full-timer. Nothing says, “I knew I was overworked” like that kind of news. In reality I know it has more to do with the fact that the other full time person can’t (or doesn’t want to) handle her own workload, but I can still bask in the glow a little, can’t I?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

4/4/06
Stripping

A patron tried to slip a few dollars into my pants Friday afternoon. This was accompanied by the phrase “Go get yourself an ice-cream cone!” Was I offended? Naw, not since it was a little old lady. You see, Missouri has made it impossible for people to find hard copy versions of the state tax forms. The library is not carrying them this year because apparently it’s “more of a hassle than it’s worth.” What’s also a hassle (more like torture for my little bleeding heart) is seeing the disappointment and frustration in patron’s eyes when they realize that the library will not be able to supply them with the paperwork to qualify them for the rank of Law Abiding Citizens for another year. So back to money in my pants…

This sweet little lady came to the front desk and inquired about tax forms. When I informed her of our lack, I looked into her weary eyes and took pity (hyperbole intended). I decided that this patron would not leave our library without her tax forms. Forms can be obtained from the library, but it takes significant knowledge of
1. Computers
2. The Internet
3. The library's computer and printing policies.
Needless to say, she possessed none of the above. I walked her through the whole process, and when I placed the tax forms into her hands, she was so excited, she tried to toss a few Washingtons my way. As I threw up my hands in protest, she proceeded to stuff them into my front pant pockets. Of course I returned them, insisting that I was already being paid. Then I proceeded to show her how to use the copy machine.

Oddly enough, this was not the only incident reminiscent of seedy nightspots this past weekend. On Saturday night Joe and I chaperoned a teen lock-in for 50+ pre-adults at the library. Let me rephrase: on Saturday night Joe and I chaperoned a teen lock-in WITH NO RULES at the library. On top of the lack of regulations, several of the chaperones were between the ages of 18 and 22. Let me rephrase: several of the RINGLEADERS were between the ages of 18 and 22. They were trading shirts with female members of the herd before even one hour of the 12-hour event was up. My favorite incident of insubordination was when they decided to go “cow-tipping.” The Kid’s Corner has one of those artist-embellished sculptures of animals (usually cows, at least in KC and Chicago) that they spent mucho-money to purchase for the library after the cows were removed from the public space. The library executives obviously did not take into account the grand Midwestern tradition of cow-tipping (which is actually impossible with real cows, so the teens took out their stereotypical angst on the poor counterfeit.) The cow had to be confiscated. It was not all torture however. Cool moments included a spelling bee (that the teens requested), a semi-successful murder mystery, and a several fiercely competitive games of Sorry!

Sunday was spent sleeping. All day. As was Monday morning.

Friday, March 03, 2006

3/3/06
LIT: Librarian in Training

It is official: I will be going to graduate school. Yesterday I got the news from Syracuse and now I’m just waiting to hear from U of Illinois. I really have no idea where I will go if I get into both places, they are tied in the distance-learning rankings. UofI is higher in the regular rankings, but I’m thinking I might want to diversify and move out of the midwestern state-school category. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself; maybe Illinois will go ahead and make that decision for me. Either way, both colleges have orange as a school color, so how can I go wrong? Joe and I celebrated with double olive pizza from d’Bronx ‘cause college students eat lots of pizza.

In other news, I’ve developed quite an aversion to my home computer (which is why the posts have been even more scant as of late). I think it’s because I spend all day at my jobs behind a monitor, and when I get home I want nothing more than to curl up with a book or lie out the old yoga mat and commence recirculation. I finally finished Kafka on the Shore, and man it was not only amazing, but also right up my alley with characters that can talk to cats, cozy little libraries and many spontaneous and intelligent conversations about literature and music. The trend of death and cross-dressing did continue, and I’m wondering if this is a Japanese lit thing or if it’s just the books that are translated or maybe just the ones I happen to read, maybe I’ll investigate later. Small parts of the narrative were also written in second person and it worked. How cool is that?

If the last few weeks were about waiting, I feel that right now I’m starting to move on. Like Stewie, our baby cactus who sprouted a new section and is rapidly doubling his height, my life feels like it’s budding again. I’m not quite ready to be uprooted and repotted, but that’s just fine, as long as I’m growin’.
Note to reader: the following unfinished post was written almost two weeks ago, but while writing I was interrupted with news of an unexpected visitor and a strong desire to bake cookies (which turned out deliciously and were worth the delay). Don’t ask why it remained unfinished or why it took my sorry ass two weeks to publish it; there is no good reason. Feel free to make up your own reason for me if you really need one.

2/20/06
Vampires in Waiting

In true February form, much of the month thus far has been spent just waiting for spring. Although winter hardly gave whimper this year, I nonetheless feel a restlessness that must mean spring is not far on the horizon. Contributing to this sentiment are the grad school apps waiting for (dare I hope) approval or (gasp) denial.

Three-fourths of the Fields Family Unit (plus Joe the somewhat-reluctant) gathered in KC this past weekend to make-merry for mom’s b-day. We celebrated in grand midwestern tradition: the women shopped and the men sat around. Indian food, followed by euchre and a grand finale of cannoli cake hit the spot. We also took a field trip to my library where we all bore witness to the giant multi-story close up of what looks to be a vampire with the caption “put your Lance face on.” Let me explain.

Our library has a glorious view of the plaza as nearly all of the walls are floor to ceiling windows. There is one main seating area, and if you sit in any of the seats facing said view, your attention is strangely drawn to a giant close up of Lance Armstrong’s face. Lance, aka vampire is staring at you, violently lusting after your soul, and there is nothing you can do about it. I’ve noticed several patrons turning their backs to the windows, which is a damn shame. Our manager decided the best way to cope was to gather all the lance books and make a display. I prefer to stare defiantly back.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

2/4/06
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Note: This blog was originally supposed to appear on 2/4/06, as it was written and (I thought) posted on that date. When I checked to ensure that the latest entry (now previous entry) made it to the web, I noticed that THIS entry was MIA. How very appropriate given its subject matter.

Craziness, just craziness is all I can say about yesterday, and here those events I will relate:

One particular member of the SHWS staff has been pushing me closer and closer to jumping off a not-just-metaphorical cliff. It seems in bad taste to retell those tales here, but just know that they do factor in the first part of the day’s events, particularly in the advice that joe gave me as we sped off to work. “Any time she says or does something illogical,” he says, “just imagine a little monkey in your head playing the cymbals to this (insert Joe humming circus organ grinder music).” I laughed, and I thought that was the end, I expected the morning to be nutty, but that’s how life has been lately at the health center. Four boring, non-eventful hours later, I left. This may not sound crazy, but having a sane day at that office has not happened since November. NOVEMBER! Little did I know what the rest of the day had in store for me.

Normally the library is a tame and jolly place where people get books, which it was on 2/3/06. It is not always quiet. Why? Two reasons: concrete and children.

The library was opened last April with carpeting only in select regions, leaving messy, industrial-esque unfinished grey concrete for most of the floor. Every woman who dares click-clack her heels is instantly stared down by patrons trying to read. Forget about the noise made by book carts driven by poor library aids. Every day I have to try to explain to fed-up patrons why it has taken nearly a year to choose and install something that Empire can deliver “next day.” Now I know why: I met the design-ahhs. (Their pronunciation)

Sitting in the back room cataloguing magazines, I overheard an hour and a half of discussion in which nothing was decided. Here are a few choice tid-bits:

- “We absolutely cannot use purple flooring. Did you know that in France until very recently purple was not used in the home because it was the color of funerals? Of course we’re over that now, but I still don’t think we should use it. Well, this shade isn’t so bad…” (I seem to remember quite a lot of purple in Paris, but then again, I’m no a design-ahh.)
- “Oooooh, I like that, it’ll be like we’re looking at plaid through holes!!” (What the hell? What does that even mean? I’m pretty sure library patrons don’t want to look “at plaid through holes.”)
- “We really need carpet by the coffee stand. I mean, there’s no seating, but I know that if patrons are going to stand around and drink coffee, they will really need that extra padding.” (So many obvious things wrong with this statement, I don’t even feel the need to comment. Although when he said it I did have to struggle pretty hard to stifle a giggle.)

My prediction: If they really push themselves, maybe we’ll have carpet in time for the holidays next year. Maybe.

Reason number two why our library is not the epitome of tranquility: the children’s department’s no-hush policy. “We’re just not that kind of library,” which I think is kind cool, within reason. However last night, as I was covering for a bed-ridden kid’s corner guru, irony laughed in my face. I could only laugh back.

Friday is Family Fun Night, and I was not looking forward to coming up with a last-minute activity suitable for family fun when I was informed that I wouldn’t have to. An outside group was going to be “performing” Shel Silverstein poems. The wee ones not only recited poetry, but also performed a hula-hoop dance that could rival the hippest of hips in the 70’s and executed quite a dance to none other than the ORGAN GRINDER SONG that Joe had so thoughtfully put in my head that morning. This time I couldn’t help but let out a chortle (and get a few disapproving stares from the parents of those kids).

All this absurdity was not limited places of employment. My life is saturated too. Yesterday as I began to read the second of two stories in Banana Yoshimoto’s “Kitchen” a theme emerged: death and cross-dressing (although not necessarily death to those who cross-dress), how weird is that? I’m questioning whether her name is really Banana.

Walking home I pondered the days events, almost not noticing that my ass was becoming practically glacial in the sub-freezing wind. Wasn’t it in the 60’s yesterday? Yes it was.
More than a woman’s name…

Says the back of the bottle of Jose Cuervo’s Margarita mix, and I must agree, there is no better way to end a perfectly relaxing weekend than with a glass of the good stuff. And for you who turn your culinary noses up at those who do not make from scratch, I say boo (and I also say that I made perfectly lovely muffins from scratch this morning that Joe deemed more than sufficient, thereby meeting my “from scratch” quota for the day).

The past few days really have been lovely, and I will be sorry to go to work tomorrow. Friday was the typical 12-hour day (8-12 at the health center, 1-8 at the library), but who has a chance to get tired when being showered with compliments. Yes, I know I am about to sound conceited, but damn it, last week I made a kick-ass necklace (knitted copper wire with various green glass beads) and when I wore it on Friday it was oft appreciated. I was even given the number of a merchant in town who my co-worker was sure would buy the stuff from me to sell in her store. I don’t think I’d want to make them for money; deadlines and obligations zap the fun out of any hobby. As soon as I take the time to figure out how to post pictures, I’ll do so.

Saturday morning was all about sleeping in and going to the now compulsory Corner Restaurant for fried potatoes with cheddar, olives, and Joe (as in cup ‘o AND the person). As we relaxed in a booth watching huge snowflakes swirl around passing cars, life just seemed right.

Around noon we headed over to a Japanese culture festival organized by one of Joe’s co-workers (and former JET participant) to learn about our (hopefully) future home. Taiko drumming (so loud I could feel my pant legs vibrating around by legs) and Kendo sword fighting (Joe: “when he went for that guy’s throat, I could feel by balls retract”) were most impressive, but the symbolism of the tea ceremony really touched me. The slow, deliberate movements, with so much attention to intention: who couldn’t use a little more of that in her life?

Today was another day of lazing around and baking until we realized that the chocolate chip muffins I made were the only things we had to eat (not even enough coffee for both of us, the horror!!). Grocery shopping, an errand I hardly ever mind, followed the trip to the coffee shop and now a second night of the Olympics (Joe’s addicted, and it’s something I can watch and knit to so I don’t mind the tv being on so much). As the ice melts in the bottom of my margarita glass I’m faced with the toughest decision of the weekend. Do I dare have another?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In the Red

Last weekend I had a fling, and his name was Feng Shui. Don't ask me what the attraction was, in the past I've always peered haughtily down my nose at those who have fallen for his coy promise of not only a fabulous living space, but perfect equilibrium in every aspect of one's existence. After devoting over an hour of my Sunday internet surf time to the subject, I must say I am amongst the delusioned (which isn't really a word, but sounds so nice here). Of course on Monday morning when my alarm went off far too early reality informed me that all the balanced chi in the universe would not change the fact that work was calling. As I put on my jacket to leave the house, I couldn't help but notice that it is red.

"Hmmmmmm," I thought, "red's a pretty powerful color. I wonder if this coat's lucky?"

Really, I thought that. In reflection I'm now realizing that my brain is in most definite need of serious academic stimulation. But anyways, back to the coat.

Later, as I was running to the bank to get change for the library, I heard an awed voice say "Whoa lady, that's a cool coat." I turned to see a teenager way to young to not be in school at 10:00am on a Monday looking at me with admiration. I resisted the urge to ask him if he knew where he was supposed to be (damn those TFA reflexes), and just smiled and said thanks. Strange that I've had this coat for months and no one's ever noticed it before.

For all you skeptics, I realize that this is not yet a coincidence. At least not a strong enough coincidence to take note of or write a blog entry about. But before I get to the heart of this quirk, I must inform you of certain murmurs in my life as of late.

Joe and I have been thinking post KC, post MLIS, as we realize that in about a year and a half Decisions Will Need To Be Made. Most of said discussion involved whether we want to settle down and get real jobs that would hopefully lead to something that resembles a career or HAVE AN ADVENTURE. Now really, which one would you choose? After a few weeks of research and more talking, we're thinking about moving to Japan to teach for a few years. We haven't discussed it all that much, and it's still a long way off, but keep this in mind as the coincidence of the red coat continues...

So today after work I'm in the bathroom at the health center. (It is a definite necessity to wash your hands after being in the health center.) A woman, who I have never seen before, who is also washing her hands compliments me on my coat and asks where I got it. We got to talking as we realized that we were both former English teachers and that she taught in Japan. In other parts of the country, this would be nothing more than a mild happenstance, but for KC, heart 'o the midwest, it's pretty amazing. She gave me her card and we're going to have lunch sometime soon.

Now I just have this vague feeling I'm playing a bit part in "I heart Huckabees" and with it is this strange desire to festoon the central-rear wall of my living room with anything I can scrounge up that's red. While I'm at it maybe I should hang something blue in my knowledge corner, 'cause I could sure use a little help in that department.