Monday, March 31, 2008

I must be better

Must be. Because today I made it to Ann Taylor.

I still feel light-headed, lacking energy, not quite myself. But tomorrow I will look fantastic.


I ended my girls' punishment and turned text messaging back on. I'm nice that way.

I'll probably have to mean again soon enough.


It is sooo muggy here - my hair is a frizzy mess. Yuck.


I am going to take a nap.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I feel as if I have had mono. Or as if I'm pregnant.

Neither one is true, mercifully. I'm just getting over what is the worst illness I've had in some time. My friend (she is a nurse) says it sounds as if it were the real flu - aches, fever, headache (the headache was the worst). I'm just glad it's going away - though it would be nice my energy and appetite would return.

I've done very little this weekend - cleaned up the family room, so that the view from my repose on the sofa would be somewhat more attractive. (The clutter on the table - my clutter - was sort of getting to me.) Watched move TV than I care to admit. Talked on the phone. Read e-mail. Bleah - exciting. But it's about all I can muster.

I'm heading back to lie down some more, or finish some laundry - which I can do simultaneously.

Here's hoping next week looks up.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

And just because I'm in one of my ever-changing moods ...

Death's Door

I have been sick since Monday - I don't even remember the last time I felt this bad. I have every symptom under the sun - runny nose, congestion, fever, aches/chills, you name it. I have barely been out of bed. And today, my middle daughter stayed home with me. She lay down in bed with me this morning, and I did not need a thermometer to tell me her fever was over 100.

So, basically, I've lost a whole week. I am only today feeling slightly better - no longer do I feel as if a sharp dagger is piercing my skull.

Had an interesting e-mail regarding a former colleague this week .... I feel totally validated, completely vindicated. That sounds like a strange reaction, but if you knew all the details, you would understand.

Must feel better tomorrow ...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Home again

Nothing like pulling up in your own driveway. It's fun to go away, but always nice to return.

Even when coming home means there is work waiting ... but that's how it is, you know?

The beach was nice. I love the smell of the ocean, of the sand, the salt water, the breeze. Unfortunately for us, there was a little too much breeze - it was probably 75 degrees, but the wind made it feel a lot chillier. I kept my windbreaker on the entire time. But Gary and the girls flew a kite, built a sandcastle, and in general, had a great day. As did I - I just didn't get a tan.

I did enjoy my book. And we all enjoyed our dinner at the little seafood place up the beach, where some of us enjoyed margaritas on the patio; others of us just enjoyed the shrimp.

Now we're back, home to the doggy who missed us. I am glad to hang my clothes in the closet, to eat here at home, and to be able to sit on the bedspread.

It's all about the little things that make you happy ...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A case of wow

I let my husband choose our hotel in Corpus Christi. It is heavy on the retro-motel-karma.

To be fair, I did notice this earlier; I did comment. The other hotels he was finding were not right on the beach. This one is, and it is AAA recommended.

It is also a dump. (Well, by my standards. Which, I have to say, have gotten higher.) He thinks the location is great. Which it is. But I am afraid to touch anything. The walls are an unpleasant shade of green; the picture frames are painted to match. I told the girls not to touch the bedspreads. The bathroom is creeping me out.

Of course, I exaggerate. But next time, I am choosing the hotel.


I called Idol so wrong - I was just sure Cheater Girl/Kristy Lee was going. She was in the bottom three, then bottom two. We cannot stand here. Yet there she is, Top 10.

But I'm kind of glad Amanda is gone. Yuck.

Beach tomorrow - yay!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The wind blows hard in west Texas.

It shrieks and it wails, pounding in full gale force power. It blew so hard Monday night that I barely slept. We have an outside room on the second story, and I heard the glass in our 75-year-old windows shaking the entire night; I half expected to feel the walls of the hotel quaking. It was during one of my many waking moments that I realized why the ear plugs were included in our hospitality basket.

It turned out to be a fluke - the gusting winds were a one-night storm. But they made for a chilly, rainy Tuesday. We drove to Big Bend anyway, figuring that a little cold and rain wouldn't ruin the views.

Truer words were never spoken. The park was - is - magnificent; the views are phenomenal. We drove through, stopping here and there to check out canyons and vistas. It's a not a National Park that gets a lot of press - not like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon. But it is really stunning. Our favorite spot was at Canyon Santa Elena, where you are actually at the Rio Grande. We hiked back into the canyon, where the sheer rock walls climb up a steep 500 feet from the river.

We ate lunch at the lodge up in the mountains, the three glass walls exposing us to a breathtaking view of the mountain pass, including the snow. The girls, who had been somewhat lukewarm on this trip, all agreed that the views were breathtaking. Much of the day was spent just driving, enjoying the park, feeling close to nature.

This is why we need to protect the environment, to make sure places like these national parks are preserved for future generations.

Today we drove to Fort Davis. On the way we visited a small ranch where you can collect souvenir rocks. I had a book with me - I'm not too into collecting buckets full of rocks. Lunch was at the drugstore in Fort Davis (the town), which was fun, as the girls got to order actual fountain-made vanilla cokes and cherry Dr. Peppers. Then we headed over to take a trail ride - once again, I pulled out my book - it's my vacation, too, and I'd rather read a book than ride a horse. Checked out the Davis Observatory, then went to the actual Fort Davis, which, apparently, is the best preserved of the old cavalry forts in west Texas. It was home to the first all-black regiment (Buffalo soldiers, they were called). So we crammed the requisite history lesson into our girls' vacation ...

We've arrived at the most important part of our day: the hour when we commandeer the television lounge at the Gage so we can catch American Idol results. We want to see Kristy Lee Cook go (cheater girl), but we'll see what happens. We love David Cook (Emo), Jason Castro (Dreads), and Syesha. I like Chikezie, don't mind Michael Johns and Brooke (Two-Shoes). I'm lukewarm on Carly (Tattoo) and David Archuleta (Kid); Ramiele has become boring. Cannot stand Amanda (Nurse Wretched). Wonder if we'll be disappointed.

I had a little accident in my suitcase - as Sylvia put it, it looked as if something "blew up." Luckily, no casualties. I have this sort of stuff happen on occasion when I fly - and you'd think I would know by know how to prevent these calamities - but driving? Such a pain. As I said, no real loss.

Tomorrow we spend a little more time here in Big Bend Country before hitting the beach in Corpus - the beach! I cannot wait.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What a difference a day makes

We are all settled in West Texas, feeling very cowboy.

Sea World was ... well, it was OK. The kids wanted to go; Gary wanted to go. So we went. It was sort of overcast and high 60s - cool enough that Gary and Sylvia changed out of shorts - so I was sort of dreading it. But it never rained and warmed up a fair amount, so the weather was actually great. But the park itself? It was an amusement park - overpriced food and drinks, rides and roller coasters, vast areas of blacktop, and amusement park-quality shows. The girls wanted to see the Shamu show. Let me say first of all that whales are amazing creatures - they are truly fascinating. But the show was a bit much, titled "Believe," with this sappy story of how one of the trainers dreamed her whole life of working with dolphins and, thanks to the power of positive thinking, here she is. This is all told to the tune of a soundtrack that was a combination of John Williams and Celine Dion.


They also wanted to see the Beluga show, which was marginally - and I do mean marginally - better. Once again, the whales do no disappoint. But they were combined with diving, music, and costumes that were clearly choreographed by a European, all to the tune of some European techno-pop score. (If you wonder what I'm describing, tune in the next time the Olympic opening ceremonies are in Europe, and you'll see what I mean.) On a brighter note, I now know what mid-level divers do with their skills ....

Keep in mind that I am not against big-time entertainment - I love the Opera, the circus, and the Broadway (LOVE the Broadway). But these shows were a bit much - waaay over-produced.

Can you tell that amusement parks don't really do it for me? Ever since a disastrous trip to Six Flags (well, disastrous might be a stong word) and a four-day stay at Disneyworld (about three days too many), I've not been that into them - give me a day at a museum anytime.

This morning started rough. Last night's hotel was nice, but it had one small elevator, which was always crowded. The breakfast room had very few tables, all of which were full this morning. We finally asked a guy who was sitting alone at a table for four if he minded if we joined him - I think he kind of did, but too bad, as the place was packed. They were constantly out of everything, and the staff was a little slow to respond. And to top it off, my cup bent as I tried to put a lid on it, so I spilled hot tea all down my leg, all over my clean jeans, all over my Juicy Couture shirt with the necessary green frog.

But things could only get better.

We spent most of the day in the car, heading to West Texas. We arrived around 4 p.m. in Marathon, after a day spent driving through countryside that looks exactly like you think West Texas should - think Giant, No Country for Old Men, Bonnie & Clyde. Marathon is a stretch of about two blocks on one street, but it is home to The Gage Hotel, which is wonderful - it was built in the 1920s but fully restored just a few years ago. The entire decor is very cowboy-chic, with saddles placed strategically around, animal skulls on the wall. I am loving it ... though the girls were skeptical. (I can even handle the fact that we have no private bath; I'm a sucker for a historic location.) But they're loving it now.

Tomorrow we head to Big Band National Park - the photos we've seen are lovely, so we are looking forward to it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

On the road

Spring break. Day one.

We hit the road, later than one of us would have liked. Perhaps next time one of us should print the Seaworld tickets the night before. Or gather CDs. Or be more specific about what time he wants to leave. So we are all on the same page about getting to Seaworld plenty early.

Sigh. Will five hours not be enough punishment - entertainment at Seaworld?

Save me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Three dresses x three girls = Frustration

On my list of things to do today was dress shopping.

Not for me. For the girls.

This summer, my in-laws will celebrate their 50th anniversary with a party. So the girls need something to wear. And let's face it, we're not the dressiest people. (Well, I am, but we're talking about my girls.) We live in Texas, where "dressy" means khakis and golf shirt for men, capris with heels for women. Panty hose are declassé - thank goodness - and my girls are seriously lacking in anything other than school clothes. Which, most of the time, doesn't matter - even for church, jeans are considered acceptable.

But not for this event. And I figured since it was the week before Easter, we would get something that would pull double duty.

And we would not be shopping at Hollister, Abercrombie, or American Eagle.

Alison was more than willing. She actually does own several dresses and skirts and is happy to wear them (on the days when she isn't wearing jeans, T-shirt, and Chuck Taylors). But as this little soirée will be to honor her grandparents, and will be in mid-Missouri (actually, eastern Missouri, but mid-Missouri just sounds more provincial), then I have veto power over what is acceptable. Nothing over the top or garish, I told her.

What do you mean? Alison asked. Trust me, I said; I'll know it when I see it.

No, she said. What do those words mean?!!

Garish: obtrusively bright and showy; lurid

I needn't have worried. When we entered the mall and headed toward the juniors, Alison gravitated immediately toward dresses that were entirely appropriate. And very cute - she found several right away. We put two on hold, then headed up to the girls' section, where Sylvia, too, had good luck.

Poor Maddie. She's the tough one. She is 13, thin as a rail, but tall. She is too small for most of the juniors, but too short for a size 12, too small for a 14. And most of the dresses in 12-14 really are too juvenile for her - they make her look like a little girl.

We hit every store in the mall. And I do mean every store. At one store, we found the perfect dress. But they had only one left, and the zipper tab was broken in half - we could not get the zipper to lie down, lock in place, and stay up. And as the dress was strapless, this was of major concern

On we foraged ... every dress she saw had some issue. Wrong color. Wrong style. Little jewels. Bow at waist. Bow on neck. Too many pleats on skirt.

(I know, I know - trust me, I was forcing myself to remain calm.)

Thank goodness for Dillard's. Thank goodness for small junior sizes. We - she - found the perfect dress. As did Sylvia - she opted out of the Macy's dress and chose instead a classy little Jessica McClintock number - ! - which was darling, but wow, pricey.

But I was too weak to argue. What's the difference - she can have an expensive dress. No, it will never be handed down. No, no other daughter of ours will ever wear it. But she loves it. And shouldn't every girl get the dress of her dreams on occasion?

All in all, success, including shoes for Maddie and Sylvia. Maddie would like a shrug to go with hers (which I think I can handle), and Alison needs shoes.

And I even managed to find a dress and two pair of sandals. Not for the anniversary party, just because ... because I dragged three girls around the mall for three hours. That is deserving of a reward. Trust me.

But they do look cute. And they're happy. And that alone is worth the time, and money, spent.

Laundry. Corruption. Hookers. Egads.

I have a week's worth of stuff to get done in one day - we're leaving on vacation tomorrow, so I'm at the point of no return. And most of last week, I did nothing. Not a thing. Other than lie on the couch, something I do not have time for.

But it's done. And now it is get busy time.

Which begs the obvious question: What am I doing here on the computer? But I do have legitimate business here, so I'm truly not just flaking off.

Well, not completely, anyway. The clothes are in the washer, I've been to the post office, and I've recruited the kids to help, which they can when under pressure. It will all get done ... in due time. I have til tomorrow morning - I'm good.


Poor Alison - she had her friends had a sudden inspiration. Wouldn't it be great, they thought, to invent a car that had both automatic transmission AND could convert to standard? Wouldn't that be fun?

Her dad broke it to her: Check out the car in our driveway - it is such a car.

Drat. I'm guessing she'll have another moment such as this - she's young. But props to her for such a great idea, anyway!


Enough with the Eliot Spitzer jokes. They've become old.

Plus - and I'm really going out on a limb here, but it has to be said - what he did? Not that big a deal.

I know, I know - he cavorted with a prostitute - or call girl, and I suspect there a is a difference (to the the tune of $4000). But honestly, I don't know that hiring a hooker should be considered an impeachable offense.

It really is just about sex. Lots and lots of men - and women - have done stupid things for sex. Just check down the ranks of our nation's leaders - I don't have to tell you the names. It doesn't necessarily show great judgment or restraint, but when you're dealing with powerful people, they didn't get there - and they don't get things done - by exercising caution with their every move.

And frankly, hiring a hooker is very different than having an affair (there's no hope of a relationship, which, to me, is a bigger betrayal). It is also very different than using illegal means to subvert the political process, or using subterfuge to mislead the United Nations, and the American people, into an unjust war.

Should government officials be above this? Maybe. But time and time again, they've shown that they are not. I'm willing to get incensed about illegal activity that damages the country, its people, or the political process. But I cannot get indignant over a few sessions with a call girl.

I've read a lot this week about whether prostitution is a victimless crime, and I have not made up my mind. Some argue that it gives women some power over their lives; others argue that the women who choose this field were victims of abuse. I do know this: Making it illegal has not made it go away. And won't. Much like the war on drugs, it seems a little pointless to keep going after people for acts that are, frankly, natural.

And I can't believe that Laura Schlesinger is blaming the wife, saying that these men are searching for something they aren't getting at home. It's just not true - this is about power, plain and simple.

Spitzer went after a lot of legitimate corruption during his time as attorney general. He took on cases involving securities fraud, Internet fraud; he sued the chairman of the NYSE for not fully disclosing his deferred compensation, and he exposed much of the current mortgage crisis. He did a lot of good, and he is going down in flames for what? Illicit sex? With a hooker?

Bill Clinton used a subordinate, which amounts to sexual harassment; Jim McGreevy gave a job to his paramour, a job for which the man was unqualified. This is not the same thing as hiring a hooker. While Spitzer is guilty of bad judgment, I don't honestly think he should have had to resign. Foolishness is not corruption.


The laundry calls ...

Thursday, March 13, 2008


We've lived here in Houston for - sigh - two years. And in those two years, I had yet to make it to he Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (or whatever it's official name is). Gary and the girls have been, but the year they went - a week after we had moved in - I was up to my eyeballs in boxes. So I let them go while I tidied out house. No regrets, but I did want to go.

Unfortunately, it always happens right around spring break. And we tend to be out of town. So, this year we sucked it up and went on a weeknight. Also unfortunately, when we made these plans I had no idea I would feel like hell. But I took one for the team, drugged up, and figured I may as well feel miserable at the rodeo - how can that be different than misery on my couch?

It was fun, in a different sort of way. While I am an urban woman at heart, my roots lie in small-town Nebraska. Not that I remember living there - and truth be told, I actually lived in Lincoln, which is not a small town - but I always a felt a strong connection to the small town from which my parents hail. So rodeos and the like are not new to me.

Plus, I saw Brokeback Mountain - how you could not romanticize the rodeo just a little bit after seeing that movie?

But I digress. Last night we were treated to calf roping, barrel racing, bucking broncos, steer riding, and the calf scramble. And it was ... well, entertaining, if not tons o' fun. I enjoyed people watching - the 250-pound woman in front of me, who needs to be told that pulling her thin hair back into a lank ponytail does nothing for her (though the pink bluetooth piece in her ear was a lovely accessory - and you'd hat to miss an important call). Equally fascinating was the Orthodox family, all duded up, but wearing their yarmulkes. Some people get way into rodeo attire; others (like me) just show up.

We also like the cowboy names: Bud. Spud. Cameron. Colton. Dusty. Lefty. I kid you not.

It was all so Urban Cowboy - what more can I say? Add the Mickey Gilley soundrack, and you could have just seen Bud and Sissy, right there with you.

We even scored two free tickets - could have had three more had we communicated better, but no biggie - we were prepared to pay for five.

And the highlight of the evening: the music. We chose which night to attend based on the musical offerings, and we chose John Fogerty. We knew we could not stay for the entire show, it being a weeknight and all, but we watch 10 songs or so, and we heard several of his big ones: Who Will Stop the Rain, Down on the Corner, Born on the Bayou, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Centerfield, Midnight Special, and even a couple more that I've forgotten. He did save all the best for last.

(But I did think wow, back in the 80s when he refused to play any CCR stuff, his shows must have been a d-u-d.)

We passed on deep-fried oreos, but we had some fun. Now I feel that I have nearly done Houston - as long as I get to the Funeral Home Museum, then I will feel that I have gotten everything out of Houston that one should.

That and the beer can house. OK, and Port Arthur, birthplace of Janis Joplin. They're on the agenda, believe me. I hate to miss out on cultural opportunities when they are oh, so close ...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Memories of a lovely weekend

I love a good weekend.

Right now, I am especially reveling in having had a good weekend, because I feel wretched.

It was a weekend where, yet again, Gary returned from a business trip. So, Friday night we did our favorite Friday night thing - went to Shogun for sushi and the Friday-night jazz and '70s cover band (I always like a little Steely Dan with my mercury-laden tuna). And a cosmo (martini for Gary).

But even better - we had Sylvia with us. It's often just us, but we got to take Sylvia with us - Alison was babysitting and Maddie was at a party. So we got to enjoy some time with our youngest duaghter.

Saturday I got Gary to go to Best Buy with me to look at washers and dryers. I have a desire for a new washing machine. Partly because I loved my front-loader when we lived in Europe; partly because my 17-year-old washer has a tendency to leak. Partly because I love to have new things.

We didn't buy. But we did see some options. Including one washer and dryer, a lovely little stainless steel ensemble, that, together, runs about $5000.

Somehow, that seems like a lot of money for washing machine. Even though that includes the dryer. I'll be looking to spend slightly less when the time comes.

Saturday night, I planned a movie night with the entire family. My movie of choice was Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day. Alison then got a call to babysit; Sylvia got invited to her friend's house (much as she does every weekend - either Isabelle sleeps here or Sylvia is there). But we still had Maddie; she invited a friend, so the four of us went to dinner (Cajun - one of my favorites) and the to the movies (Miss Pettigrew for us, some other movie for the tween set).

I loved Miss Pettigrew. Not the greatest movie I've ever seen, but I loved it. And I loved it for these reasons (though not necessarily in this order): Amy Adams. Frances McDormand. London. 1930s. Cole Porter and George Gershwin tunes. Fashions of the '30s. Art Deco. Snappy dialogue. And a devastatingly handsome actor whom I could not place for the entire movie - Lee Pace, he of Pushing Daisies. He was drop-dead gorgeous in this film.

Oh - and a happy ending. Which was just what I needed.

Now flashing forward to the present: Gary is gone (again - apparently he came home to drop off his dirty clothes and re-pack his suitcase - but he comes home tonight), and I had a little medical procedure done yesterday. I feel better today, though I am in some discomfort. But the pain pills made me sick - to be fair, they have that warning on them, but I thought it might be better than the pain yesterday. Now I'm not so sure - they made me really sick. But my girls - my wonderful, fantastic girls - took excellent care of me, making me soup, getting me just what I needed to stay as comfortable as possible.

So today I am taking it easy. And reveling in the memories of what was, as well as plans for what will be - vacation, next week. I hope I am feeling better - I really had no idea of what kind of recovery I was in for. Hoping for speedy healing ... and a speedy return to the other parent of my children. That would help, too.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Day In the Life

It's March in Texas. Last weekend, the weather was perfect. I wore sandals, leading me to think it was time to head over and get the first pedicure of the season - it will soon be time for sandals every day.

Good thing I didn't rush - the weather has turned chilly. All week it has been cool-ish (this is Texas). And tomorrow it will be very cold. It is rainy and windy now, but it will get down in the 30s tonight, and there is talk of snow in Oklahoma and northern Texas - maybe even as far south as College Station. It's probably the same cold front that has swept through the midwest.

Texans are wimps about the weather, but 30 is actually cold.

Today I had Maddie home with me, not feeling well. She's doing better now, but much of the day she spent on the couch, watching the Food Network. She took notes, coming up with great ideas for me on what we should try. I made a run to the supermarket, and she called me to share some ideas she was getting. Just in case I wanted to pick up a few items.

Which all reminds me of how lucky I am to have the girls I have. I'm sure if I had had sons I would feel just the same. But as it is, I have three daughters. And I love that they share my love of watching House Hunters, of checking out the Food Network, of Broadway musicals and shopping. A son might have shared these things, too, but more than likely, he would have enjoyed sports and jokes that deal with bodily functions. So I'm reveling in the joy of the children I have.

Yesterday was TAKS day, our day of state-mandated testing. Don't even get me started .... their teachers give them a talk about getting enough sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, all that good stuff. So, being the good parent I am (or strive to be), I was up at 6, cooking eggs for breakfast, just as my daughter requested. If this is what it takes to make her feel secure about testing, then I can get up and scramble some eggs.

(Another daughter woke up and said, almost apologetically, I don't want a special breakfast - so she had what she usually has - no problem.)

The rain is falling outside. We have nowhere to go. It's a good night to be snug inside, safe and warm, with my girls.

Oh yes, it's '80s Night

I always look back on music from the 1980s with great fondness. I actually thought that music I listened to in high school and college had some redeeming qualities.

Then I tuned into American Idol on '80s night. And learned I was wrong.

I listened to two hours of mostly crap music. I knew there would be some, but wow, I had no idea just how craptastic it would be. I had to listen to:

• Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds
As sung by Aussie guy
• Tainted Love - Soft Cell
As sung by the very gay boy
• Unknown Don Henley son
As sung by the Kid
• Hello - Lionel Richie
A sung by Emo guy
• Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Wham
As sung by Luke
• Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley
As sung by Dreads
• Unknown Whitney Houston song
As sung by Chikezie
• Unknown song
As sung by Stripper boy

I didn't mind the Simple Minds, Soft Cell, or Leonard Cohen. During the first strains of that Lionel Richie song, I was struggling, wondering what it was. Then I realized - good god - that it was by Lionel Richie, and I wanted to run screaming from the room - this was the best you could come up with? But when I listened, I gave him some credit - he kind of did a cool take on it. Or as cool as you can get with, well, Lionel Richie.

Then the girls sang. And I have to say, the song selection was no better. We were treated to not one, but two Whitney Houston songs, Journey, Phil Collins, and Pat Benatar.

I am losing faith in my coming-of-age music.

I heard a commentary on NPR one day, and it described how you set the soundtrack of your life based on the music you listen to, the music you love, between the ages of 14 and 21. After that, you are less likely to be open to new music. For me, this puts my soundtrack-setting years right smack in the 1980s. A decade where, apparently, all the tunes that made the charts were non-imaginative, techno-pop-dance numbers with sappy lyrics.

Which left me wondering, what would I have sung? Had I had to choose? I started trying to remember what my favorites were, what albums (transferred to cassette) did I play? I immediately settled on The Bangles first LP, All Over the Place, with the song Going Down to Liverpool. Then it was Sweet, Sweet Baby Mine by Lone Justice, fronted by Maria McKee. Great songs.

And it all came coming back - all the music I loved about the '80s. From new-waveish bands like The Human League, Kajagoogoo, Flock of Seagulls, Talk Talk, to better alternative fare like The Smiths, Game Theory, Aztec Camera, the Replacements, They Might Be Giants, Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, the Cure. Singers like Suzanne Vega and Kate Bush. Big-name acts like Elvis Costello and The Police (who started in the 70s, but they carried over). XTC, INXS, Bruce Springsteen, and U2. MTV-only bands like Roman Holiday.

I take it back. The 1980s did have great music. Those American Idol kids just aren't aware of what it was - after all, some of them weren't even born. There was a lot of throwaway crap, but there was a fair amount that was good. Or good at the time. And that's all that matters.

I'll leave you with a most entertaining, not to mention disturbing, video from the heyday of MTV videos:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Time, stress, cash, and new wheels

Check it out.

This is what has been making me - us - crazy for the last couple of weeks.

But it's pretty.

It all started on February 15, the day after Valentine's Day. It was Gary's first Friday off on the new 9/80 schedule. I blame his vanity - if he had not insisted on getting his hair cut at that particular time, he would never have encountered the residual boulder of concrete, a remnant of road construction near us. The car in front of him straddled it - with no shoulder and oncoming traffic, he was forced to do the same.

But our poor little VW Jetta could not handle it - the oil pan was taken out, and to make a long story short, this incident spelled disaster for the Jetta. We called the insurance agent, and the highly qualified receptionist informed us that it would have to be covered under comprehensive, something we do not carry on a 9-year-old car. Sigh.

We knew we'd be buying a new car eventually. But we had a plan. The plan was to buy a car when we were ready to hand the Jetta to the 16-year-old. We had considered it for this year, but decided we'd wait a bit - no need to spend the money right away.

All of these plans changed in a flash. As did all our spare time - not to mention our spare cash. Every minute we could spare was spent looking at cars. This is Gary's car (I get to drive the fancy minivan), so I let him call the shots. He looked at Audis and Toyotas, Volvos and Fords, Mercedes C Class. And kept returning to the Audi. The combination of German engineering and price drew him back - German engineering is available in the Mercedes, but it was tough to justify spending the money - our first house cost only slightly more than what we would spend on a car. We grappled with this issue when we bought our van two years ago - it truly did cost barely less than that first house. Wow.

So we finally made the call. We looked at one Audi on Friday and had decided to get it. Returned Saturday, and they refused to negotiate on price - at all. So we walked. And one of the upsides of living in Houston is the preponderance of car dealers - we visited a different Audi dealership and found the car we wanted at a better price.

Gary conveniently left town, leaving me to handle the final negotiations. Gulp - I am not good at these things. But I did it, and we are the proud owners of a brand new Audi A4. It is beautiful ... and it's mine! As he is not here and couldn't sign anything, it's all in my name. But if he's really good I'll let him drive it. Maybe.

Oh - and it gets better. We called the insurance agent back, and we can file a claim. The Jetta will be repaired, so Alison gets her car after all.

Sweet. Life is sweet.


My slow day

Today, I did exactly as I pleased.

I did not tidy up (beyond the bare minimum - even though I needed to). I did not take the car in. Nor did I grocery shop.

Instead, I did as I pleased.

Today was the first day for what feels like a while that I've had any time to myself. Due to any number of issues/challenges/problems around here, I've been busy with other matters. So today, I scheduled some down time.

I threw in a trip to Target - just because I felt like it. I as all set to have some fun, but there wasn't really any to be had. So I picked up shampoo for my husband and batteries for the Nintendo.

I even treated the girls to a shopping trip this weekend and came out empty-handed. The girls all found a little something, but I'm waiting ... not sure what for, but I didn't do any buying. Not even from the sale racks.

I voted early, so I have not been to the polls today. But I will go later tonight and participate in the Texas Two-Step, the convoluted process whereby we vote and caucus. Don't ask me how it all works - this process defies explanation. I know only that I am to turn up - something my many e-mails and phone calls each are reminding me. I tell you what, one donation to a candidate and they think you're theirs for life ... and I'm beginning to think they're only calling me because they want my vote ... it's all a little disillusioning - !

Gary is gone this week, so I am on my own, dealing with the many hassles that are our life. It is so crazy around here that he sent me a lengthy e-mail from the airport, detailing a bunch of details with which we have to contend - stuff we had discussed, but he included some after-thoughts so I could take care of all this nonsense while he's gone.


Spring break happens soon. Which means vacation. Which means time away. I am so ready.