Thursday, August 31, 2006

not quite

Ernesto was nothing to be worried about. By the time it reached most of Florida, not only was it not a hurricane, but it had actually dropped down from a tropical storm to a tropical depression, a term that makes me laugh. In my neighborhood, the electricity goes out ridiculously frequently, if there is any wind or rain. So, even without a full-blown hurricane, we were prepared to lose power for a few days. But it never happened. Thankfully.

Starbucks had planned to be closed yesterday but by mid-morning we opened, and I was called in to work last night. We were super busy, since most people weren't at work or school.

And, of course, this means I can go to the Rams/Dolphins game tonight! Yay! I know it's only pre-season, but it's going to be fun anyway. This will be my first football game in an open stadium, as opposed to the dome in St. Louis. You know what would make that even better? If it was snowing during the game, and we had to wear scarves and hats and mittens and all that...and still drink cold beer. (Ok, maybe hot chocolate.) On the other hand, it'll be nice to not get frostbite.

Well, I do have to work for a few hours today, so I better get going for now. I'm sleepy, though, and the only thing motivating me to get into work is fixing myself a perfect cappucino. For free. This is my perfect starbucks drink: double tall, non-fat, one raw sugar, dry cappucino. Dry is the important thing here. That and the double-shot part.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Nothing yet. Ernesto has arrived in Florida and is still a tropical storm, though his plans are still a mystery to everyone and could yet turn into a hurricane (but probably not). He's still southwest of West Palm and may only brush past us, which is good. However, the sky is getting a little darker and the winds are picking up. Nobody really seems to think it's going to turn into anything major, but everyone is taking all precautions just in case. Most businesses are closed. Nobody has to work tomorrow. There isn't much regular television or radio, just reports from local and state administrators and meteorologists. Palm Beach County schools are closed today and tomorrow. Kids are all excited about it, while adults are frantically putting up shutters and planning to hole up for a day or two. It's like a snow day for those of us from the north. But a tropical storm instead of a blizzard. I'd rather have the blizzard, but this is all pretty interesting to me, the relative new-comer to all this.

My book group was supposed to meet to discuss Confederacy of Dunces tomorrow night, but we've postponed that until next Wednesday. This is good since I still have a couple hundred pages left.

I'm supposed to go to a Rams/Dolphins pre-season game down in Miami on Thursday. I hope Ernesto doesn't mess up those plans. Well, and of course I also hope that nobody gets hurt or loses their home or anything like that because of the storm.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I knew it would happen eventually

Right now, this is what everyone in the city is thinking about and preparing for. While all the meteorologists and news channels are speculating, the truth is nobody knows for sure what Ernesto will do next. Most are predicting that he'll upgrade to a hurricane once he hits the warm waters north of Cuba and then head right for the West Palm, Lauderdale, Miami areas. Right where I am!! So the next few days should be interesting.

I stopped for gas on my way home from work this afternoon, and this is what the gas station looked like:

Most gas stations I have seen today look like this. I only stopped for gas because I was getting low and needed some, but everyone else there appeared to be preparing for the apocalypse. One guy had the entire back of his pickup truck full of dozens of gas containers, and he filled each one. I suspect that the weasel plans to sell these for lots of money if a hurricane knocks out the power to such a degree that businesses--gas stations--close for a number of days, or if the gas stations run out of gas.

If Ernesto does become a hurricane, and if he does hit my area, I'll try to get some pictures and post them up here.

Also if this happens, I may be without power and, thus, the ability to update my blog for a number of days.

In the meantime, I have a couple new books to sink my teeth into--and a flashlight to read by.

this one doesn't shed as much

Check it out: a virtual Murphy! How cute is this?! You can give him a cookie by clicking on the box of treats (but we call them cookies--that's the word Murphy recognizes). He'll even jump for his cookie. Ok, no, the real Murphy has never jumped for anything, nor do I think he ever will. But he can do it vicariously through his virtual twin!

adopt your own virtual pet!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

lots of random movies

Absolutely nothing interesting has happened in the past couple days. I haven't had to work since Thursday, and I didn't take a road trip up to St. Augustine but I did sit around and read a lot and watch a bunch of movies on TV. It's actually been quite lovely, as it was the first time I think since I moved down here that I have really let myself do nothing for a couple days. Lately, I feel guilty if I don't accomplish something and get out into the world each day, even if it's only trivial. But not this weekend. Here are some movies I watched on cable this weekend (mostly because I just happened to come across them while flipping through the channels): Friday Night Lights (surprisingly terrific movie; I was impressed and moved), Dave (love it!), Blast from the Past, Soapdish (funnier than you might expect, thanks to Robert Downey Jr. and Kevin Kline), Joe Versus the Volcano (one of my favorites), So I Married an Axe Murderer (funny as hell and one my sister and I quote to each other in conversation constantly), Two Weeks Notice (I don't know why, but I love Hugh Grant), Raising Helen (I didn't want to get any pleasure from this, but it was slightly more entertaining than I thought it would be, despite the intolerable Kate Hudson ), Moulin Rouge (I love Baz Luhrmann, but after several tries, all I can say about this movie is, "eh." Visually, it's beautiful, but that's all it does for me. I still like his Romeo + Juliet way better). I'm sure I watched one or maybe two others that I'm forgetting. Regardless, the point is that I've watched a lot of movies the past couple days, ranging from great to barely tolerable. But I watched them anyway. In my pjs. On the couch. Next to my dog. Totally relaxed.

Also, my mom and I are thinking about going to a movie later this afternoon. Don't know yet what we're going to see, though.

In a different vein, I've added a couple new links to my sidebar here. One is for FOUND Magazine. If you haven't heard of it or been to that site, you must check it out. It's basically a collection of mostly notes and also pictures and such that people have found on the street, in the garbage, in returned library books, etc. Most are hilarious. Some are alarming and a little frightening. Some are sad. Others make no sense at all. But they're all fascinating, and the site (and books/magazines) are addictive.

Well, Murphy needs a walk and I need a diet coke. More later...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

the freezer

So I'm reading a book right now called Marley and Me, which is a memoir about a guy and his dog. It's been a fun, quick read. The narrative starts when the author, John Grogan, and his wife adopt a puppy Labrador, and the book follows their lives together--through three children and different homes and careers, though it focuses on their experiences with Marley. I'm getting close to the end of the book; about 20 minutes with it, and I'll finish. But Marley is very old and not terribly healthy at this point, and I know what's going to happen soon. The problem is that I don't think I can finish. I'm certain it's about to get really sad, and I don't think I want to deal with that since nothing is sadder than the terrible thing I know is about to happen. In junior-high I had to do that terrible thing to my beloved cat, Mr. Pet (yes, that was her name, the name I gave her when I got her for my 2nd birthday), and it was awful. So like Joey on Friends did, when he read Little Women and got too sad to keep reading after Beth got sick, I might have to put this book in the freezer and just assume Marley stays happy and healthy forever.

There are many things in the metaphorical freezer for me. It's sort of the place where I retire movies or books when I either can't finish them for the above-mentioned reasons or if I've finished it a few times before but know better than to try again, as it will make a mess of me. This book is about to go there, next to The Blair Witch Project (which, laugh all you want, scared the shit out of me even though I loved it), Terms of Endearment (yes, it's a total 80s movie, but if I watch it, I'm ruined for the day, hence it's place in the freezer), and most recently, Eight Below, which played on the plane trip from Rome to New York so I had little choice but to watch it, even though I'd been warned it would kill me. Holy crap, I cried like a baby. There are lots of other items in there, but you get the point.

I don't know. Maybe I should go ahead and plow through Marley and Me, just so I know I've finished it. And then I'll immediately relegate it to the freezer.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A note from Kathy, care of Samuel L. Jackson

Kathy emailed this to me the other day. It cracks me up. (You'll need volume to appreciate it.)

Someone please give the woman in this picture a drink

I recently received this in an email being passed around as a joke. Wow. It's funny, but only until you think about the fact that at one point it wasn't meant to be a joke. But since my blog has been a tad cranky lately, let's go with the funny option here. The image here is too small to read, but if you click on it, you should get an enlarged view so you can actually read it. By the way, the underlines and circles are not mine, in case that wasn't obvious. Personally, I think the first part of the third pointer here is hilarious. Yes, I know it meant something else back in the day, but it still makes me giggle a little.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


When we were preparing for the trip to Italy, we all packed lightly enough that we wouldn't have to check any luggage. We each had a couple small-ish bags that we carried on the plane with us. It was lovely and eliminated the time spent waiting around for luggage once we landed, and it also eliminated the fear of lost luggage. However, after several days in Italy, we had accumulated a bunch of things--souvenirs and such--that wouldn't fit in the bags we carried on the way over. So we were forced to purchase a bag which we would have to check for the flight home. We didn't want to spend much money on it, as we had plenty of luggage at home, and we only needed this to get us from Point A to Point B. So we found ourselves a fun little suitcase on wheels for $10 from a street merchant near the Florence train station. It looked large and sturdy enough to carry anything we couldn't fit in our original bags.

However, once we got it back to the hotel, we realized the bag was much larger than it appeared on the street and would fit much more than just the souvenirs we'd purchased. So we each put a few other things in there to make our carry-on a little more comfortable. The next morning, when it was time to catch our train to Rome, where we would spend one day and one night before heading to the Rome airport, we quickly discovered that this $10 bag bought on the street was just that: a $10 dollar bag bought on the street. In other words, it was a huge piece of crap.

Amy somehow drew the short straw and had to drag it from the hotel to the Florence train station, and we would take turns with it from there. But before we even got outside the hotel lobby, the wheels on this suitcase completely caved in and the whole thing went lopsided. She "fixed" the wheels and dragged it another few feet, but they caved again. Without the wheels, this thing was insanely heavy and awkward (among other items, my mom had purchased five, yes five, World Cup commemorative soccer balls for my brother, niece, and some neighbors). It took less than three minutes trying to transport this thing before we realized it was going to make the trip to Rome and to the airport totally miserable.

Guess what. We were right!

Fortunately, it was so miserable that it became funny. For starters, we paid extra for a direct train from Florence to Rome, which meant we had assigned seats in an assigned car (as opposed to the rail passes we had which got us on to any other train without assigned seats, but which stopped every few miles and takes much longer). And of course, our seats were in the very last car of the train, and since we got there without any time to spare, we had to get on the train in the front and walk through the 2-inch aisle all the way to our car, as the train pulled out and headed south. This wouldn't be a problem, had we not been dragging the world's heaviest, cheapest, most awkward, and most poorly contructed suitcase. By now, Amy had passed it to me, so I was the one dragging it down the aisle of the train, running over people's feet, waking sleeping babies, bumping into shoulders and elbows. Amy was behind me, to make sure the suitcase wasn't ripping, as by now the wheels were totally useless, and I was really just dragging it. Mom, on the other hand, had no idea what we were dealing with, as she had somehow freed herself of any obligations toward this thing, even though it was mostly her stuff inside it. So she was way ahead of us, a full car ahead, strolling along at a nice pleasant pace, while Amy and I were sweating like pigs in the Italian heat and dragging the worst suitcase ever behind us, stirring hatred among the Italians we ran over in the process. Amy and I both were so angry at this damn thing, we wanted to just chuck it out the window and be done with it. And Mom wasn't our favorite person at the time.

By the time we FINALLY got to our car, and I could drop the suitcase in a cubby near our seats, I was certain Mom had stolen Michelangelo's David and stuffed it inside this bag. It was that heavy. I was actually out of breath and dripping with sweat, and Amy commiserated. After we plopped down for the ride, we decided we had to give the suitcase a name, because it clearly had a most hateful personality. What was an appropriate name for something hideous, not fully functional, life-sucking, anger-inducing, and which just wouldn't go away? George. We named it after the president, as he embodies all the same characteristics of that god-forsaken suitcase.

Later on that train ride, Amy and I walked back several cars to get some coffee and in the process had to pass many of the people George had run over while we tried to get to our seats earlier. The looks of hate and disgust were alarming. Everyone remembered us and our suitcase, and although George wasn't with us at the time, they all pulled their limbs as close to their bodies as possible for fear that we'd find some other way to torture them as we passed. I wanted to personally apologize to everyone there and tell them to blame George, not us.

So for the next day and a half, as we traveled the rest of the way to Rome, from the Rome train station to our hotel, and then the next morning from the hotel back to the train station and then to the airport, we argued about George. Whose turn was it to drag him (strangely, it was never Mom's)? Why the hell was he so heavy? Whose bright idea was it to buy a suitcase from a street vendor anyway? Why was George so intent upon making our last day in Italy pure torture? We talked about George as if he was an actual person. We referred to him by name. We hated George.

George was always funniest when you weren't the one dragging him. For example, when we checked into our hotel in Rome, Amy had George. We took the TINY elevator up to our floor and tried to navigate the winding hallways to find out room. The hotel was like a maze, and our room was deeply hidden. We were single-file, as the halls were too narrow for anything else. Mom was in front, Amy and George were behind her, and I was behind them (whichever of us didn't have George at the time always had to be in back to make sure he didn't split wide open and spill everything). Somehow we got lost trying to find where the hell they put our room, as it wasn't where one would logically assume it to be (room 33 would normally be somewhere between 32 and 34, right? Wrong). We stopped, got our bearings, Amy set George down for a second, and then we saw a sign pointing to our room number, so we walked in that direction. Mom and I got into the room and realized Amy wasn't with us. I went out into the hallway. Nothing. I went to where we were standing when we first figured out where our room would be. Nothing. Somehow Amy and George had both disappeared. Had George finally sprouted arms and kidnapped Amy? It wouldn't have been that unbelievable. So I called, "Amy?" Nothing. Again, "AMY??" Finally, I heard a distant and exasperated, "Where the hell are you guys? Mom? Heather? God damnit. I hate this fucking George." Or something like that. I don't know how, but she had gotten turned around and went in a different direction and ended up on the other end of our floor in the hotel, dragging George the whole way, and she couldn't find us. In the meantime, she kept passing some poor woman who was just trying to do her job and clean the floors, but Amy lugged George back and forth over her floors about three times before she found us again. She says the woman grumbled in Italian and sighed loudly every time George slid over her newly cleaned floor. By now, I was dying. The sound of Amy's totally frustrated, at-the-end-of-her-rope voice off in the distance while she dragged George cracked me up. Maybe I was just tired and slap-happy, but it did me in and I couldn't stop lauging. Amy wasn't so amused.

The next morning, we had to get ourselves and George to the train station again so that we could get to the airport. There is a special train that goes directly from the train station to the airport, and they couldn't have put that bastard further from the main part of the station. It honestly seems like we walked a couple miles to get to it. In the meantime, George was my responsibility and although it was still early and I had just showered, the heat was insane and I was already sweaty and enraged. George was in rare form that morning, and I was openly cursing him as we walked to the train. He kept twisting and flipping over, so I had to contstanly stop and use all my strength to flip him back over. At one point, a British couple was ahead of us and I guess could hear me bitching, so they kept turning around to glare at me. I am not a violent person, but I've never been so close to hitting people. I think I even said something like, "If you're so freaking interested, why don't YOU carry the damn thing, assholes." Nothing induced anger quite like dragging George, and it was a special kind of irrational anger that made you hate everyone around you simply because they didn't have to drag George and you did.

This time, Amy was the one laughing. I let her laugh, since I had laughed at her the night before in the hotel. But Mom knew better than to laugh at any of it, as she hadn't once personally dealt with George. Anytime we bitched about this fact, she reminded us that she had paid for the trip. Frustratingly, she had us there.

Finally, we got to the airport and happily handed George over to the luggage attendants. Part of me was almost hoping he'd get lost or stolen during the trip back to the states. But no such luck. When we landed in Miami and went to the luggage claim, there he was waiting for us. He just wouldn't go away.

When we got home, we each retrieved any belongings we'd stowed in George, but I'm not sure where he is now. Unbelievably, I think my mom might have put him in the closet, though he was totally destroyed by the time we got home and was definitely ready for the dumpster, and even if he wasn't destroyed, there's no way in hell any of us would ever try to take George on another trip.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

getting there

Yes, I suck because my blog updates have been completely lame lately. I know. It's not laziness or lack of things to say. Rather, it's because of a genuinely shitty mood, and maybe I don't want all my readers to know just how insane and moody I am. However, I'm starting to pull out of this funk and promise to post a real blog update either later tonight or tomorrow morning. In the meantime, there is a martini waiting for me and I must go find it.

By the way...not ONE of you out there wants to answer those book questions???

Thursday, August 17, 2006

more of the same

Well, my mood hasn't improved much over the past few days, so I'm reluctant to write a lot here, for fear that I'll scare away all my readers. Work is good, as always, and I'm fairly certain that our "secret shopper" person (though that isn't what we actually call it at Starbucks) came in today while I was working the espresso bar. I hope so, because everything was perfect: the store was spotless, a few of our chatty regulars were hanging out, and I made a fabulous drink for this person. If this was one of our big tests (we have several each year), I am certain that we scored perfectly. It's a huge deal at Starbucks that we do well on these, and so far--possibly until today--I have not been on duty for any of them.

Honestly, that is the most exciting and positive thing I have to say right now. I'm still cranky and still feel like everything is going to suck forever and I'll end up staying in my parents' spare room until I'm 98 and am wheeled off to a retirement home.

I have a couple days off at the end of next week. Perhaps I'll take a road trip up to St. Augustine. Been meaning to check it out. Lots of history there.

Sigh...that is all for now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Christ, I am so grumpy tonight. Actually, I have been for a couple weeks now. Really bitchy. It's a charming combination of bitchy and depressed. I don't know where this mood came from, but I hope it goes away soon. The other night, I sent this email to my friend Kathy. Well, this is only a portion of it, as there were some things in the original that are not fit for public viewing. ;) But this portion looks exactly as it did in that email:

Damn it. I can't sleep. It's after 3 am, and I have to get up at 9 to get ready for work, and I have been lying in bed for at least an hour and a half now, but I can't go to sleep. I hate that. Even if my alarm wasn't set to go off at some point, I'd hate this because it's just annoying. I can't stop thinking about a million things all at once. You know, the usual shit I bitch about these days: I hate Florida. I'm homesick for Cincinnati and--unbelievably--St. Louis. I'm pissy that it's going to be fall soon, the time of year I live for, but I have to miss it this year. I think Murphy is also unhappy. I hate the president. I hate the vice-president. I don't believe there were terrorist attacks plotted from heathrow airport the other day---I think it's a conspiracy to scare us all back into submission. Even though he's a democrat, I hate Joe Lieberman and I'm glad the connecticut dems see him for the weasel he is and didn't want him anymore either. I need to exercise. I need to do laundry. I hate that my weird neuroses and apparent inability to lead a normal stable life also make it hard for me to get enough time with the people I really want and need in my life. I need to get my oil changed asap. I'm getting a pimple on my jaw.

That pretty acurately summed up my state of mind then and now. Oh, and this evening I sent a rather snarky email to my ex, essentially reminding her of how unhappy she made me when she dumped me. There was no reason for me to do that, especially since I'm really ok about all that now. We've been getting along so well lately and being very mature in our correspondence, but for some reason, tonight I was rather unpleasant to her in an email. Guess I'm just not in the mood to take that high road.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

lefties of the world, unite!

Apparently today, August 13, is International Left Handers Day. How have I managed to live for 31 years as a left-handed person and never know about this holiday? I've always loved being left handed because it has tradionally been associated with subversion and is something that makes me a little different from many of the people around me, and few things thrill me more than being different or subversive in any way. The only thing I hated about being left handed as a kid is the stupid lefties' scissors in grade school. For some reason they were always blunt, uncomfortable, and useless. And my entire life, I've always had ink stains on the side of my left hand, from the tip of my left pinky finger all the way to my left wrist---sometimes even further up my arm and on my sleeve---and my homework was always smudged. (For you righties out there who didn't realize this, as a lefty, when you write, your hand drags across the ink on the page before it's had a chance to dry, hence the ink-stained skin and smudged papers.)

Other than those minor annoyances, I'm glad I'm a lefty. It's likely one of the reasons I can play the violin; years ago, one of my violin teachers told me that a relatively high percentage of violinists---or fiddlers, for us folk-music lovers---are left handed. Of course, being a lefty also fits perfectly with my political and social beliefs. And if it's true that lefties are right-brained, well, then that explains a lot of why I love creativity and storytelling, but also why my life is sometimes a trainwreck and why I don't deal well with deadlines or too much structure.

Here are some of my famous fellow lefties. Yay for left-handed people!

P.S. I've broken two fingers on my left hand: my pinky when I was in kindergarten and horsing around in my bedroom when I was supposed to be asleep, and my middle finger a few years ago when I was trying to open a package of hot dogs (?!?!).

Saturday, August 12, 2006


1. One book that changed your life?
Whatever was the first book my parents ever read to me. It shaped me more than they ever could have guessed.

The book that changed my life that I consciously remember is To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the book with which I first learned about literary analysis. The first book in whose margins I jotted notes. The first time I learned how deeply a book can affect me. Also, it was the first experience, aside from my parents, that began to shape my social consciousness. And it made me want to be a lawyer for many years. Until my 2nd year in college, when I realized I love literature way more than law and politics.

2. One book you have read more than once?
There are many. To Kill a Mockingbird of course. I practically have it memorized. Same goes for The Great Gatsby. It's a very close second behind Mockingbird as far as most influential in my life. It moves me just as much as Mockingbird, but in a different way. Actually, I've read everything by Fitzgerald several times. Same goes for much of Faulkner's work. There are also a couple young-adult books I still go back and read regularly. My favorite from that category is The Witch of Blackbird Pond. First read that in 7th grade and fell in love with it. I still read it about once a year, and it's still one of my favorites.

My answers here, of course, do not include the many books I read over and over again in college and grad school. I usually read a book several times when working on a paper about it.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
The blog from which I stole this questionaire mentioned a survival guidebook, which is a brilliant answer. But aside from that, I think I'd want the Riverside Shakespeare. It's only one book, but has all his works in it and would provide years' worth of reading and thinking. Plus, I could always read The Tempest repeatedly for commiseration.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Right now I'm reading Confederacy of Dunces, which consistently cracks me up. Everytime I open it, I read something that makes me laugh out loud. Also, Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger, though it's been about 12 years since I read that. I just remember it made me laugh. Also, for a fun, feminist retort to all that annoying "gotta-get-married" chick writing, Kiss My Tiara cracked me the hell up.

(I'm not sticking to this 'one book' part of these questions, am I?)

5. One book that made you cry?
Oh hell, a lot of them make me cry. Some make me cry not because of anything emotional in the story, but simply because of something beautiful about the way it was written. And some make me cry for both reasons: story and aesthetics. For example, the last 20 or so pages of Lolita made me cry like a baby. The story is tragic and the writing is unbelievably was an overwhelmingly emotional reading experience.

6. One book you wish had been written?
Can't answer that question. I'm still trying to get through all the books that HAVE been written. If there's a book that should be written and hasn't yet, perhaps I'll write it myself.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
Lord. Many of them. Pretty much anything by Nicholas Sparks. Or that guy who wrote the Mars/Venus books. And Ann Coulter.

8. One book you are currently reading?
See answer to question 4.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Many. Still haven't read Ulysses. My stack of 'To Read' books is neverending, not that I would want it to end.

10. Now tag five people:
I don't know what the hell this means. Does 'tag' mean to tell people to answer this survey? If anyone wants to give their own answers, I'd truly love to read them. Post them as a comment here, or leave a comment with a link to your own blog where you've posted your answers.


I just took an online personality test (because I am that busy right now) and thought I'd share the results. Although this wasn't officially the Myers-Briggs test, I can see that it's based on it--and is much shorter. And although I don't put too much faith into these types of things, I do find it interesting that I have taken the M-B and other similar tests a few times since college and always get the same results, which are quite accurate. This is what it told me today, which is what it always tells me: I am an introvert/intuitive/perceiving/feeling person. Here are the details it gave me:

INTROVERT: While you may not be anti-social, you do need (and deserve) your private time and space to retreat from the world. Unlike extroverts, you need to develop a concept of the world or some aspect of it before experiencing it. Too much socializing may sap your energies. Your energies are derived from exploring the inner world of ideas, impressions and pure thought.

INTUITIVE: While you do process information through your senses you add a twist to your processing by relying on intuition and serendipity. You look for undercurrents of meaning and abstractions in what you experience physically. You do not just see things just as they are, but as what they could be. While you may rely on common sense at times, you trust inspiration far more.

PERCEIVING: You like to have as much information as possible before making a decision. Putting off a final decision until the last moment does not make you uncomfortable. Indeed once a decision is made, a course plotted, you may feel a bit uneasy, because you feel bound to a certain course of action. You would much prefer to wait and see what happens. You enjoy the opportunity to improvise. Commitments are not etched in stone to you, and are changeable.

FEELING: You make decisions subjectively based upon your values and what is important to you. How people will be affected by your decisions is important to you. You are likely to make decisions based upon what you feel is acceptable and agreeable rather than what is logical. Your truths are founded in your values and those of the society you live in. It is important to remember that we are discussing how you evaluate data and make decisions, and that you rely on your feelings to do so in no way implies you are overly emotional.

Your Personality Type

You are devoted and compassionate. You have a well-developed distaste for rules, orders and schedules. You are a natural born learner and can get so absorbed in your projects that you forget those around you. You are passionate about your beliefs and love ideals. You have very high standards for yourself. You are very creative, sensitive, reserved, and introspective. You respect the values of others and expect them to respect yours.In relationships you are loyal and totally committed. You prefer a few deep relationships over a horde of acquaintances. Because you are somewhat reserved, you do best in one on one and small group situations. When you feel comfortable, you can be very entertaining and capricious. You are nurturing and supportive by nature. Your greatest social challenge is to balance your need to withdraw into your inner-world with your need to keep a strong connection with those you care for.

Occupations Suited to Your Type Include: Actor, architect, artist, composer, editor, translator, journalist, librarian, musician, occupational therapist, psychotherapist, educator, researcher, scientist, and writer.

P.S. I think my favorite line in this personality evaluation is, "You have a well developed distaste for rules, orders, and schedules." ;)

Friday, August 11, 2006


Ok, so I just deleted my last post because it was lots of bitching and whining, and nobody wants to read that.

Anyway, I feel a tiny bit better because it's almost football time, and my dad and I are going down to Miami to watch a Dolphins/Rams pre-season game in a couple weeks. Hope he doesn't mind being with the only person in the stadium wearing a Rams jersey.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

horror movies, coffee master, and Maggie

Just got home from work and I can't decide whether I want to take a nap, sit by the pool and read, sit on the beach and read, or do something totally different. In the meantime, I'll blog a bit about the past couple days.

Ok, well, for starters I watched a couple cool horror flicks the other night: High Tension and Hostel. Hostel was definitely disturbing, and not just because of the amount of blood. It showed a pure hatred for Americans oversees, as it also mocked--in a horrific way--the hedonistic sex industry certain Americans look to patronize when they visit other countries. And yeah, of course there were gratuitous blood and slashing and torture tools, along with a somewhat weak ending (as if the writer got tired and didn't want to finish). But it was interesting and sufficiently frightening. I liked High Tension better, though. Lots of fascinating social implications and sub-plots, also with some predictable horror conventions, but the main character was super interesting. Would love to have a gender- and sexuality-based discussion about this movie.

Good stuff.

On a totally different note, yesterday I hosted a coffee tasting/seminar in the cafe at work, which was open to the public and any other employees (from my store or any others). It's one of the final steps in being a certified Coffee Master at Starbucks. Ok, yes, you may chuckle and say it's cheesy, but I am excited about it. Just as passing my barista certification when I first started took way more training than one might expect, becoming a Coffee Master isn't a token thing, nor is the training merely a formality. My task yesterday was to prepare on my own some sort of seminar to present--about pretty much whatever I wanted--with the objective of educating attendees about some aspect of coffee, coffee growing, roasting, brewing, anything like that. So I decided to talk about the language of coffee, since customers so frequently want to know about certain coffees, how they taste, what's bold, what's mild, etc. I always get the feeling that when we answer them, they still aren't sure what we've just said, because there's a certain vocabulary used to describe coffee and we aren't always very good at translating it. In my seminar, I talked about the four main aspects we evaluate in coffee: aroma, acidity, body, and flavor. First, I taught everyone how to do a real coffee tasting (much like wine tasting). Then, I went into detail about each of these four aspects and how they affect the different roasts (or rather, how the different roasts affect them). For each one, we sampled a different coffee that highlights each respective aspect. Then I also explained some of the adjectives that are often used for each of these aspects. For example, exotic, floral, bright, earthy, etc. Personally, I find it all fascinating as hell, and as it turns out, so did the customers who took part in the seminar. They loved learning how to sample coffee and how to identify different elements in the flavor. It lasted a little over an hour and went incredibly well. I was so happy. (Ok, so I have to brag and say that my manager said it was one of the best Coffee Master seminars she's ever seen!) Anyway, all I have to do is pass a quick oral test on Monday to check my knowledge on some other things relating to the growers themselves, their communities, and the Starbucks procedure from harvest to delivery. Once I pass that, I am officially a certified Coffee Master and will get to wear the special coffee master black apron.

Today, however, I am in major pain. I took the dogs out for a walk before bed last night, and they were both in playful moods so I ran around with them for a while. Tails were wagging, we were all running and jumping, and acting goofy. Good times. Until, while the dogs and I were running down the sidewalk, Maggie who was in front of me on her leash, decided to suddenly take a sharp left turn. Out of nowhere, going nowhere. Of course, I was still running straight ahead. When Maggie crossed my path so suddenly, I actually ran into her, flipped over her, hit the sidewalk (at a fast pace), rolled, and skidded several feet. My shoes flew off, the leashes went all over, and I was in pain. When I finally stopped skidding down the cement, both the dogs were just standing there staring down at me, smiling, wagging, and wondering what the hell I was doing. If I had witnessed this happen to someone else, I'd have been on my ass laughing. I'm certain it was hilarious to see, but fortunately no one did see. Maggie had no idea she had almost killed me. I scraped up my hands, knees, elbows, feet, and back, but what's really painful are my muscles today. I guess I tensed up during the fall, and apparently I'm really old. Because today it feels like I lifted weights for about 12 hours yesterday.

Thanks, Maggie! Good thing you are incredibly cute.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dante, David, the Duomo, and some Medicis

The Dante house/museum is in Florence of course, and I knew that before going on this trip. So I can't understand why, when I stumbled across it while wandering the city in the second or third day there, I was surprised. And awestruck. It actually brought a couple unexpected tears to my eyes, and the woman working there surely thought I was insane.

Yes, this is the actual David (in the Galleria dell'Accademia), and no, I wasn't really allowed to take this picture. I respected this rule everywhere else we went, but since this is made of unpainted marble which isn't susceptible to damage from camera flashes, I cheated. And just for added safety, I didn't have my flash on anyway. (By the way, even though I used my real camera, there were an awful lot of people in the gallery "looking" at their cell phones. You know, the kind that coincidentally have cameras...) Anyway, I honestly wasn't foaming at the mouth to see David. It was one of the things I wanted to get to, but figured it wouldn't be tragic if I ran out of time first. My mom had been dying to see David, so it was no surprise when she was rendered speechless. But he really go to me as well. He's breathtaking and had a much deeper impact on me than I ever expected, mostly because of what the statue says about humanity. For example, I learned that during WWII, people built a huge, casket-like structure immediately surrounding David, so as to protect him from the bombs and raids, which I find fascinating. Most people weren't that well guarded during the war (that one or any other, for that matter), but I guess everyone knew that regardless of war or peace, David could outlive any human, and they were going to do everything possible to make sure that happened. I wonder what we in America would go to such lengths to protect for the pure beauty of it.

The Duomo (cathedral) is enormous and beautiful. It's also damn near impossible to get inside. Daily, the line for the entrance wraps around the building and people wait for hours. Amy and I innocently thought that if we got there before it opened one morning, we might stand a chance of getting in without having to pitch a tent outside and wait all day. But no such luck. Apparently, that's everyone else's thought as well. Ultimately, we did not wait in line and go inside, because as amazing as I'm sure it is, we weren't willing to give up an entire day of being in Florence to standing around in one place. Besides, the outside was quite remarkable itself.

The entrance to the Medici Chapel (including a statue of Anna Maria de Medici, below) is amazing, aesthetically and historically. Much of it is covered with scaffolding right now, but there is no hiding its beauty. Again, I was only allowed to take pictures on the outside, and I fully repsected that rule here, as the color on the inside is gorgeous and rare. I'd never do anything to potentially damage it. By far the most frustrating and exciting thing about visiting the Medici Chapel is that they were in the process of excavating one of the tombs while we were inside. There was a curtain drawn over one of the rooms, where a Medici (though I don't know which one) is buried, and all through the chapel, we could hear the machinery, cranking and pulling. The marble had been broken to pieces, and I could see shadows and silhouettes of all this taking place--of something (someone?) actually being lifted mechanically from beneath the marble slab. It was killing me. Absolutely killing me that I couldn't watch, and I did all I could to sneak a peek without getting kicked out--which almost happened I think when I actually had my hand on the curtain about to lift it back and one of the docents yelled something in Italian at me. Don't know what she said, but it was probably something like "Get the hell away from there, you stupid American!"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

random assortment from Florence

I love the doorway to this shop:

Perhaps the happiest horse I've ever seen. This guy was seriously grubbing.

Italian pulp fiction: Intrigo in Vaticano. And there's a picture of a nun holding a smoking gun. I'd love to know what happens in this book.

Cute older couple looking out their window. After I took this picture, they smiled and waved. Guess I was too early with the shot.

The Piggy Market (that's what it's actually called because of the statue of a pig at its entrance):

Inside the Piggy Market:

Roberto Benigni was scheduled to perform in Florence just a couple days after we left. He was going to recite from The Divine Comedy. I would love to have been there for that!

The Uffizi Gallery, from across the river.
It used to belong to the Medicis and is where they stored their art collection. It was also once an office building, hence the name Uffizi (which means offices). We saw original artwork from Botticelli, da Vinci, Durer, Giotto, and lots more. By the time we got into the courtyard, the batteries in my camera died, which sucked because the courtyard itself is quite a sight. Lots of spectacular statues and interesting live perfomance artists. Amy took some pictures with her camera, though, and once I get access to those, I'm going to put them up here. They're great. But of course, no pictures were allowed inside the gallery.

hiroshima day

Check this out. Make sure your volume is on.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

more fun ways to waste time

I recently discovered YouTube, which all you more internet-savvy folks have probably known about for ages. But it's new to me and completely addictive. I've found old tv, movie, and football clips that I haven't seen in years (because they aren't really available anywhere else). Strange little homemade clips. Internet pranks. All sorts of cool stuff. But my favorite so far has been old skits from The Kids in the Hall, which is one of my all-time favorite shows. Here are a couple of my favorites from them:

This second one is perhaps my favorite piece of sketch comedy ever, simply becuase they do a hilarious job of making fun of the corporate world.

Happy National Blackmail Day!

According to someone online, today is National Blackmail Day. I can't figure out what exactly this means. Are we supposed to go learn other people's deepest secrets to use for our own advantage? Or are we supposed to go ahead and cash in on the secrets we already know about other people? Holidays like this just give me a warm happy feeling, you know?

There are definitely one or two people out there I'm staying the hell away from today.

rambling without pictures

Blogger is pissing me off. I'm trying to upload some more pictures, and this damn website won't let me. Something isn't working right. Grumble.

For some reason, I'm still pretty cranky. I think it's the heat. Fortunately, I don't have to work until 7 this evening, so I have all day to get in a better mood, and that will most certainly require leaving the house unless I want to spend the afternoon listening to my dad's many conspiracy theories on 9/11. I'm glad for having liberal parents who despise this administration as much as I do, but dad doesn't always get that I agree with him so he doesn't actually need to spend his time passionately convincing me that the government is corrupt. Thinking about it too much puts me in a super bad mood, whereas he thrives on it. Love him dearly, but I prefer to avoid topics of conversation that make me angry but about which I can control very little.

Since I'm in my room right now, I'm so tempted to take a little mid-day nap. We had hurricane shutters installed on all the windows last week...the accordion kind which you just go outside and pull shut when the time comes. I discovered that my room is incredibly cozy when the shutters outside my window are closed. My room has a large, glass sliding door on one side, leading out to the patio. And because of this, it's almost never completely dark in here. But with the shutters closed, it's like a cave. Might sound creepy, but it has been so cozy and I have slept ridiculously late because of it. None of the other shutters on the house are closed, as there is no need for it right now, but I've kept mine closed since it was installed. It's making me drowsy right now. Or it could be that I was awake until almost 3 am. (I was at home reading, not out doing anything too wild.)

Ok, well, first another attempt at uploading some pics, and then I'm going to skip the nap and get out of here into the sunshine.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I am so cranky today. Don't know why, but I've been on the verge of yelling at everyone all day. I found a few minutes to write my previous post and now this one, but otherwise, I've spent all day dodging other people in order to avoiding being unfairly grumpy to people (though it wouldn't be totally unfair of me to be grumpy towards one or two of them).

It's hard to avoid all people when you've moved in with your parents. There are people everywhere. EVERYWHERE. So it's hard to get away from everyone without actually leaving the house, which I ultimately did for a while. I've even sort of avoided talking to any friends, as I know I'd end up saying something snarky to one of them at some point. Don't know why I'm so damn pissy today. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

my new book group and other things

As promised, I still have many many pictures from Italy to post here, but for now I'm going to write a regular post about this and that...stuff going on in the past few weeks. At the persistent request of my anonymous reader in Cincinnati, I'm now going to tell about the first meeting of the book club I organized. (By the way, Anonymous, I think I'm going to start calling you Ann for short, since I don't have a real name for you as of yet, even though you enjoy to read and comment on my blog. ;) I'm glad for that; I just wish I knew who you are!)

So anyway, last week was my first book club meeting. I started to put this club together as soon as I started at Starbucks because 1) there is ZERO intellectual/literary/creative life where I live right now, and I'm dying because of it. I figured that if I can't find it, I'm going to do my best to plant the seeds and create it myself. As I've said here before, if it works out, I'm next going to create an open-mic thing at my starbucks as well. 2) it's a great way for me to show my boss that I'm serious about digging my heels in and creating an awesome store here, one that is a little different from all the others and that works with the community in its own unique way. Might sound cheesy, I know, but I'm serious about it and about moving up in this job. And 3) it's just something fun to do with my time and a great way to continue meeting people---though that is connected to my first reason for starting the club.

Well, after I posted the notice on the bulletin board at the store and a couple other starbucks, I started to hear from lots of interested people about it, and we set the first meeting for last Wednesday. I choose the first book blindly, based on reviews and awards it was nominated for: The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss. Turned out to be an awesome books, which I recommend to anyone. It switches point of view and moves around in time and geography, but it ultimately all comes together at the end. It's heartbreaking and freaking hilarious at once. Read it.

Once I discovered how good the book is, I became super excited for our first meeting, because I couldn't wait to discuss it with people and learn what they all thought of it. Unfortunately, most of them did not like it very well. There were 6 people, including myself, and the consensus was that it's "confusing" and a little "boring" which totally blows me away, as there wasn't a boring moment in my read and I found nothing to be confusing, once you grasped the alternating patterns between narrators. I wasn't the slightest bit dismayed that the other readers didn't like it; that's their own opinion. However, I was a little disappointed at why they didn't like it.

But, not to sound too elitist, I have to remind myself that this isn't a graduate literature course, and the purpose is to have fun and get people together and give them a place to talk about books. And that's exactly what happened last week. We still had a decent discussion, and most encouragingly, despite the common opinion of the book, everyone was very excited to be there and to be "founding members" of the group. That made me so happy.

So after our discussion of the book, we covered some logistics, settling on a standing monthly day and time for the meetings, as well as a system for choosing each book. Next, we're reading a Confederacy of Dunces, which I have been told many many times to read and never got around to. I started it today and it's killing me.

I look forward to a fabulous meeting at the end of this month, since I suspect this book will have a better reception, and also because I have heard from a handful of additional people who want to be part of the group. So we should have a more robust discussion, which excites me.

And then after our meeting last week, I went straight to a friend's house in Fort Lauderdale, as we had plans to hit one of the bars down there that I kept hearing about. We had a fabulous time, perhaps too good a time. As I mentioned in my brief post the next day, I drank way too much and had a rough next day because of it. However, it was worth it. This was a great club, and I had lots of fun with Roni and her friend George, who I met that night. The problem, though, is that Roni likes to buy jager bombs for people. Lots and lots of them. And I kept accepting them. But then at one point, I got very serious and responsible and said "no more jager bombs for me." I thought I'd downshift a tad and do a straight shot of jager instead, stupidly, drunkenly believing it was the less intoxicating choice (because of course, it's the Red Bull in jager bombs that causes all the problems, right?). Really, I know better, but when you've been drinking like that, all reason and common sense go running away. I stayed in Lauderdale that night because there was no way I could drive home in that condition. I was so ridiculously hung-over in the morning, and the worst part was that I was so hungry, even though most food sounded repugnant. And then I was struck with a thought: pepperoni-pizza flavored combos. I HAD to have them. They sounded so good, so I got some and it was all I could keep down all day. Unfortunately, I had to work that afternoon.

I've been back down to Lauderdale a couple times since then, and it seems to be a horrible influence on me, as I repeatedly end up drinking too much and staying out way too late. On the other hand, I have found much more interesting people and places there than here in West Palm. And it's not that long a drive. Maybe 30 to 40 minutes from work.

Maybe I'm too old for it, but I really don't care. If I had kids or even a spouse, it would be a different story, but I don't. I'm having fun, and that was sort of one of my reasons for moving down here: to stop taking everything so seriously to the point of constant stress, depression, and worry.

Well, anyway, that's been my existence since coming home from vacation. Reading group, work, and too much drinking.

Also, I got a whole bunch of my hair cut off yesterday. It was getting unmanageably long, so I had it cut to my jaw. Bob length. It's a good length for me and has always been my default haircut, when I just don't know what else to do with it. I think I'm pretty happy with it. If nothing else, I'm happy for a change in appearance. Gotta do that once in a while. I'll get a new picture up here when I get a chance to have someone take one of me.

Ok, I'm going to gather some more Italy pics and throw some up here. I realized that I still have so many I want to show people.


More pictures and posts are coming. I'm off today and will finally have a chance to finish them this afternoon. Yay! I have so many things to post here, and I just haven't had time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I encoutnered interesting people everywhere. Here are a few of them.

This guy was making and selling bracelets:

Accordion player outside the Galleria dell'Accademia:

Merchant taking a little nap:

Sidewalk artist at night:

These guys were awesome. They were playing on the Ponte Vecchio one evening, and they are really really good. They even covered a few Dylan songs. The fiddler was especially good and was used in some interesting ways in some of their covers.
I did not expect to see these guys in Florence, Italy:

Lots of these "moving statue" people there:

I bought a leather bag from this sweet man.

At and near our hotel

Breakfast was a big deal for us every morning. It got us up and out of the room early enough to get a great start on each day. Also, it was a fabulous chance to see the other people staying at the hotel...always interesting because of the handful of nationalities in one place. Unfortunately, though, there was a pervasive "UA" problem. UA? Ugly American. You know the type. The loud-mouth asshole who refuses to speak anything but English, and when someone doesn't understand, the UA's solution is to talk LOUDLY. The blithering idiot who travels to far-away places as a status thing, but gets pissy when everything isn't just as s/he is used to at home. There were a couple of these people at our hotel, and I hated them. Actually, I saw them all over Florence. It made me cringe and want to go around apologizing to everyone who fell victim to the UA's shitty attitude.

Anyway, back to the fun things. So as I was saying, breakfast was always fun. A pleasant, quiet way to start the day, and a couple times, I got down there long before Amy and Mom so I could have a few minutes of journal time before the day started. Oh, and my room overlooked the breakfast patio.

The view from my room of the hotel's outdoor breakfast area and surrounding buildings:

My window from the breakfast area:

The stray kitty who lived at the hotel and scored lots of great food every morning:

My perfect breakfast: kick-ass coffee, a pastry, and some journal time.

This is the hotel across the street from ours. I took this picture because of the flag, which isn't actually a pride flag as it might appear. It says "Pace" (Peace) and they are all over the place over there. Everywhere.

This is my mom at the cafe down the street from the hotel. She's buying some goodies for us to keep in our room: