Friday, June 29, 2007

different day, sentiment the same

"Did you hear that the power is out in New York?"


"Yeah, Highcon's office is on backup power and they've shut down the subways."

"Ugh, they finally do something right, BUT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE COUNTRY! I could have used a break from work today."

"Well, maybe you can hope for a brownout or something."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

fashion-impaired in the a.m.

One definite downside to this whole working-days concept is that for years, my brain learned to shut itself off between the hours of five and nine in the morning, which is exactly when some key daily decisions need to be made. Mission Critical choices, such as what I'm going to wear.

These days I need to be up at 5:45 a.m. at the latest to make the carpool to get me to the train by 6:45. The express is so packed, I usually have to stand and wobble around in the aisle,walk, then wait at least 20 minutes for the bus before riding to my stop between 7:45 and 8 a.m., from which I walk four blocks to the office. It's a trip with quite a few stops, and a lot of in-the-public facetime.

That's cool with me, because I like the tranquility of getting to the office an hour early and organizing my day. And I don't mind the standing around and watching people. But it also means that people can stand around and watch me, too. So imagine my dismay when, as I stood on the platform waiting for the train and taking note of all the cute clothes my co-commuters wore, I look down at my own ensemble and realize that it's hideous.

I must have been half asleep when I decided the gray herringbone trousers perfectly complement my purple-and-gray patterned silk blouse. Except at 5:30 a.m., the tungsten light of the closet can be deceiving; my shirt is actually brown and purple. So I was people-watched during the train ride, the walk to the bus stop, the wait at the bus stop, the bus ride, the walk to work, all day at work and the reverse home in an outfit that didn't really match.

Of course I exaggerate. The brown is only readily apparent when you're within fifteen feet. But just like in that generic sidewalk footage of "Americans" that nightly news often runs with a voiceover about obesity or heart-attack statistics, there are A LOT of people walking around downtown in Chicago close enough to have noticed how badly I see color in the morning.

But I was fine; I don't know any of those people anyway. I buttoned up the black sweater I keep in the office for chills and kept it on all day, even though it was 91 degrees F today and so humid we were practically swimming around outside. I was even feeling pretty good about it until I caught sight of an old Dungeon colleague on the bus to the train. I gave her a hug and found out she takes the same train to suburbia, so we sat together and caught up on gossip and she told me she's taking classes at the community college to pursue a degree in--wait for it--fashion design. I was mortified. Especially after we had a lengthy discussion about how hard it is to find pants that fit, and how much harder it is to draft patterns that flatter your figure. I am fairly certain she has now deemed me a coordination cretin who puts together not only unmatched ensembles, but ill-fitting ones as well.

Something has to be done about brain dysfunction in the a.m. Perhaps I should have pp come over every weekend and set my clothes out for the week, because getting up earlier is definitely out of the question and I cannot be trusted to dress myself.

Friday, June 22, 2007

cut to the chase, people

Ever notice that when someone opens a conversation with, "Hey, you got a minute?" they don't really care whether you actually have a minute?

Monday, June 18, 2007

like finding out they used a dance double for Flashdance

Hollywood is making an American version of this German movie I've been recommending for months-- Bella Martha or Mostly Martha-- starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, the guy from Thank You for Smoking and the kid from Little Miss Sunshine. And while that's a lovely cast, I liked the original just fine, even if I had to read the dialogue. They're also supposedly making an English version of the French movie I enjoyed-- Le Dîner de cons or The Dinner Game-- to be called Dinner for Schmucks.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but what IS up with all the remakes? Not only are they biting off films from other countries (The Last Kiss, Vanilla Sky, Shall We Dance?), they're remaking some of their own that aren't even that old and were good to begin with (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bad News Bears). There's even been talk about remaking Casablanca.

I understand that coming up with creative and appealing ideas all the time is really challenging. There's a reason that people who work in advertising have a surprisingly high rate of heart attack and that the divorce rate for journalists is sky-high. But I'm guessing all those people who move out to L.A. to try and "make it" probably have an idea or two that came to mind on the long bus ride in from Kansas or wherever. How about we give some of them a shot?

Okay, even if we do continue ripping off others, how about giving them a little mainstream credit? I found this list, and while I don't know how credible it is, I was surprised to learn some old-time faves were remakes, some of which I had thought seemed really very American. Twelve Monkeys? The Departed? Three Men and a Baby?!?

I feel a little cheated about that last one.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

i can get back to inhaling now

Ri once described my appetite for books not in terms of reading, but "inhaling." It's always been that way, ever since I sounded out the adventures of The Poky Little Puppy for myself. Recently she asked me for a recommendation and I consulted my notebook (I list ones I've heard about and then when I've read them, I give each a two-line review and a grade. Shut up.), only to realize I hadn't read anything new since last October. That's a really long time for me, especially if you consider how many precious commuting hours I've saved by working from home this year. Unfortunately, I've spent most of that extra time on the world's worst hobby: worrying.

Approaching the end of year two on the dungeon contract, it became very clear that I didn't really want to work erratic night hours much longer. What with the fact that I interacted with my boyfriend more than I would have if he lived in my own time zone and my mother breathing down my neck to procreate, it seemed the grandchildren of her dreams just might stay there if I didn't join the land of the living. But I didn't know what I wanted: another great opportunity with night hours or a less interesting gig with a schedule that allowed me to see the sun?

For months I freelanced, working from home and paying out-of-pocket health insurance. I transitioned back to being awake during the day, talked to people in other states and different industries and tried to figure out where I belonged. And all that time I worried. So much that I didn't sleep well, wasn't productive, didn't follow through as thoroughly as I should have. And I rarely did anything fun because I couldn't allow myself to relax.

I went to Miami. Then Detroit. I courted people in New York. I e-mailed companies all over the place and called people who knew people. And suddenly some big-time decisions had to be made. I obsessed. I asked for more time. I obsessed some more. I ran it by my friends and family. Repeatedly. Some told me I'd be stupid if I did one thing. Some said I'd be nuts to go with another. I was paralyzed with indecision.

Right around then, Rolling Stone published its 40th anniversary issue. It was shiny and red and I read it cover to cover. I don't know if the discussion of the turbulent Sixties resonated with my turbulent state of mind, but I couldn't put that thing down. And then, on page 132, I got my answer. In an interview with Rolling Stone's Keith Richards, Kurt Loder asks, Any life lessons you'd like to pass on to that younger generation?

"First off, don't do anything if there's not joy in it, a sense of exhilaration. A day is a day, and each one is going bye-bye, and you've only got so many more in front of you. Friendship is probably one of the most important things in life. Apart from your immediate family, it's about friends -- the ability to make friends, the ability to forgive friends. And their ability to forgive you. It's just the ability to enjoy other people's company, really. Then you've got it all, man. The rest of it's gravy."

Right then I knew I'd have to turn down a wonderful job opportunity because if I had to work odd hours in a strange city where I didn't know anyone, at this point in my life it wouldn't matter how great the gig was. I decided to take my chances in limbo a little longer rather than be stuck and unhappy far away. And it worked out for me: A few days later I got an offer from one of the places I've been freelancing. They created a permanent position for me. Working during the day! Not on weekends! Not on HOLIDAYS, either! And I can take the train, which means no more parking!

I don't have to be able to see cc to know she's reading this and rolling her eyes that I got inspiration from a man who allegedly snorted his father's ashes, but someone who's been rocking as hard and as long as he has must know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Even though it's not a book, I decided that because of its heft, the front-to-back way I tackled it and what it did for me, Rolling Stone's The Fortieth Anniversary deserves an entry in my notebook right under the scathing review of Atonement:


The Fortieth Anniversary
Rolling Stone

Interview issue; what the greats went through in the Sixties is still relevant. Eye opening.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

what hurts more than the pain

is knowing that I'm old.

I strained or pulled a muscle in my back this morning. This incident is beyond ridiculous, because it didn't happen climbing trees, roto-tilling, digging holes in the back yard or sleeping in an awkward position. I just leaned over in my office chair and reached for my purse. Now I can barely move and the drugs aren't working.

This does not bode well for my first day at the new gig tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2007

difficulty rating of 5/5 on first attempt? it's the cadiz way

"If I can't figure this out, I'm going to die."

"Uh, I did NOT spend all that time and money raising you just to die because you can't do a puzzle.*"

"Money? Since when do parents tally up the money?"

"Cadiz, nobody does anything without expecting a return."

"And that is?"

"To see you grow up and get your life established."

"You mean get some children."


*I'm sure I should have made my first try with Sudoku with an easier puzzle. And yes, the fact that the paper said a Seventh Grader completed it in NINE MINUTES has nothing to do with why I tried it.

Okay, not really.

6 3 _ | _ 8 _ | _ _ _
_ _ 9 | _ _ 7 | 3 _ _
_ 2 _ | 6 1 _ | _ 4 _
_ 9 _ | _ _ 5 | _ _ _
4 _ _ | _ _ _ | _ _ 8
_ _ _ | 4 _ _ | _ 3 _
_ 7 _ | _ 6 4 | _ 1 _
_ _ 3 | 7 _ _ | 6 _ _
_ _ _ | _ 9 _ | _ 8 5

Sunday, June 10, 2007

the juiciest fruit: some hooking required

The cherry tree has worked overtime this year. In the last two decades, we have been able to gather fruit only a handful of times. That is mostly because the tree doubles as a meeting space for the local branch of the squawky bird club, whose members congregate every year at cherry time for a convention of gorging themselves and catching up on gossip. They often clean out the place before we even realize it’s that time of year, and by the time we get out there all that’s left are a bunch of hanging pits.

Fortunately, they must have found a better spot this year, or maybe our “Shut-up-and-get-the-hell-out-of-here” vibes actually worked, because it's quieter and they actually left a decent amount of fruit on the tree. Of course just to spite us, it’s all at the top, tauntingly out of reach. I’m talking 40 feet up and on the flimsy extremities, where even I won't venture for fear of falling with enough force to halve myself on the fence.

Never fear, the Cadiz clan is smarter than those birdbrains. My parents rigged a system with a hooked 13-foot pole, some kind of basket and a ladder, and have been winning friends and influencing people with fruit all week. My mom actually heard the curmudgeon across the street speak and got the teenagers (my how they’ve grown!) in the corner house to stop and chat. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the neighbor next door will bring over a pie as a thank-you for our acrobatic efforts to procure the filling.

Of course, I took some for the road. Ri, Kaiya and I chilled at the Chicago Blues Fest, listening to music and spitting pits at each other. For the record, covering your mouth and making it look like you shot a cherry pit out your nose is still funny, even if you’re turning 30 soon. Or maybe it's especially funny because you’re turning 30 soon. I can’t decide.

It's only a matter of time before the cherry craze is over. It's been a tasty bonding experience, no doubt, but the end will probably be for the best. Sadly, it'll be a long while before I can fully enjoy the taste of artificial cherry flavoring again.

Friday, June 08, 2007

just wait one cherry-picking second

Today I received a message on my cellphone that consisted of something to the effect of:


While this person is a close friend whom I love very much, I couldn't help but bristle. Sure, it was the third in a series of unanswered calls about making plans for meeting up tomorrow night, but DUDE

a) While most of those calls were placed, I was in my parents' back yard about 16 feet up in a tree picking cherries with my father
b) I was incapable of hearing the phone
c) Even if i did hear it, I wasn't about to climb down to answer it
d) I had already planned to return the earlier call I missed, you know, when I got down out of the tree and washed the cherry juice off my hands.

This is the type of incident--very similar to situations when I'm in the bathroom taking care of business and hear the phone ring, hear the house phone ring directly afterward, and then hear my cell phone ring again, all within two minutes--when one thing is abundantly clear:


Back in the day, I was the first to have a cellphone. However, it was one I was not allowed to use outside of emergencies or to inform my mother that I didn't end up in a three-car pileup on I-57 on the way back to college (yet somehow I still forgot and constantly got in big trouble). It was also one that took up almost half of my automobile's glove compartment. In terms of getting a minute-racking cellphone I could use to actually converse with my friends, I was the last to get one of those. And even though I withstood a lot of exasperated pleas to get myself into the new century, making that leap gave me great pause. Because frankly, I do not like to be trackable.

This mentality probably stems from Mickey Mouse Tie giving me a hot-pink pager in high school and demanding to know why it took me 20 minutes to call back when I was in class. His homing tactics went on to include driving three hours to sit outside my college dormitory and interrogate my friends, who feigned ignorance about how I was sneaking into the building through the the back basement laundry room as they spoke. I believe that pager ended up at the bottom of a lake, to be joined by the relationship shortly thereafter.

Maybe this is why I don't risk neck breakage to answer the phone. And often when I get non-message calls, I assume they are shooting-the shit type timefillers and don't always call back. (Btw, I do not buy into the b.s. reason, "you should see 'missed call' and call me back." Also, the house phone is strictly reserved for telemarketers or blood banks seeking donations.) Nope. Today's lesson kids, is: Leave a message and maybe I'll call you back.

If you want some sweet cherries, that is.

The bounty. This, largest mixing bowl has a 13-inch diameter and a 6-inch depth. (sorry a little blurry)

The artsy shot.

Monday, June 04, 2007

catching up with my queue

H has seen a lot of movies. Seriously, a lot. One night when I admitted I hadn’t seen any of the Terminator movies or (at that time) any of the Die Hards or Rockys, either, he seemed to be infected with a touch of cinematic superiority. He’ll deny it, but I could hear it in his voice. However, that was strictly Hollywood. As soon as we compared our numbers to incorporate Bollywood, my cumulative digits became a whole lot more competitive.

When I got a subscription to a mail-in DVD service, I felt like I could finally begin to keep up with everyone else in my demographic. Also, the "magic" mailbox in the lobby of my dungeon office made for a very fast turnaround. Back when I worked those crazy night hours, there were weeks where I'd put away a movie a day. As the statistics below show, I have used Netflix to regain the street cred I missed out on during all those formative years when I was forced to live without cable-- all the movies I'd only heard about. But really, those little red envelopes kept me sane while I couldn't hang out with any friends or family. Here’s the breakdown:

Movies that have come to my house, were seen and returned since December 6, 2004: 184

Movies to which I have awarded five stars (out of five): 20

Movies to which I have awarded 1 star: 12

Movies to which I wish I could have awarded zero or fewer stars: 1 (I'm looking at you, The Puffy Chair)

Sets of DVDS of television shows on this list (at least one season): 5

Movies that were actually released between December 6, 2004 and June 1, 2007 that I watched within that time period via Netflix: 12

Movies I watched not in English: 24

Movies I watched not in color: 16

Movies I watched that were musicals: 21

Movies I watched that were musicals not in English or in color: 6

I would sit there in the dungeon, browsing movies, rating ones I'd seen (currently at 836) and adding interesting recommendations to the queue to be sent to my house. I spent a lot of downtime doing this, which is probably why there are so many. But looking at the list, I felt guilty about having 317. So I vowed to keep it to no more than 3oo and I have culled the queue down to 294 upcoming and six that are saved for when they will be released on DVD.

I gladly work days now, but that means that my free time isn't all mine. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to pick up the phone and talk to people when they are actually awake, but it also means I have to share the remote control and must watch such interesting-but-not-what-I-would-have-chosen treats like a National Geographic's Dangerous World episode on lethal roads. Or cricket. Plus, with my hefty nightly Hindi soap-opera schedule, these days those little envelopes collect quite a bit of dust before I get to them.

But I'm not worried. Watching movies that have been out for a really long time puts distance between myself and the hype and often I've forgotten what I'd heard about them when they came out. Several old movies with twists have been killed by people because they assume everybody's already in the know. Citizen Kane is a fine example, but the worst was Chinatown, which I had to take off the list hoping that in ten years I'll have forgotten what I couldn't help but read on accident. (Putting SPOILER ALERT at the top of a list in small type isn't enough of a warning,
Wired Magazine.)

Perhaps one of these days I'll sit down and take off all the movies that aren't readily recognizable to really cut into my list. Actually, probably not. There will have been so much time between when I made the picks and when I get the films that each envelope becomes a lovely surprise-- sort of like flipping through the channels late at night and catching a cool movie I'd only heard about right at the beginning. You know, except without the threat of getting sucked into an infomercial.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

by the flickering light of my teevee

I am not ashamed to say that I multitask. I've always done mindless tasks like paint my toenails or arrange my sock drawer while I'm on the phone and I'm sure I would have tried to do my homework while watching Duck Tales after school if my mother would have allowed it. But these days I knit while I watch primetime soap operas.

Unfortunately, I might have to rethink that system. I spent the last couple weeks making a baby-bag jumper (a one-piece hooded suit thing with no feet) for my mom's friend's daughter's baby shower this weekend, and it took considerably more yarn than I estimated along the way.

After the initial two skeins I had to go back for a third and then a fourth. I thought I was in the clear because I got the same brand and color, but I didn't think twice about the little serial number on each one referencing "dye lot." Meaning different batches are dyed at different times, so if you don't get ones within the same batch, the colors don't always match. I'm already disappointed with the colorscheme on this thing--the yarn seemed a whole lot prettier wrapped up in a ball than it does to me in the finished product. But now I have a much bigger problem: Because I didn't check the dye lots (and waited so long between buying different skeins), the left side is slightly darker than the majority of the right side.

I didn't notice until I sewed in the zipper at the very end. What to do? Go to the baby store and get something else to save face? Try to pass it off as a "now-you-know-it's-handmade" quirk? Keep it on my teddy bear (though mintgreen/pink/purple really doesn't suit his coloring and he most certainly won't grow into it). Give it to them anyway because it'll probably get washed until it's all the same shade of faded, which is the purpose after all? My mother says you can't really tell unless you know what you're looking for, but I have a feeling that's because she knows how long it took to complete.

I'd rather have the unbiased opinion of the Internet. Thoughts?


My mom told me to shut up and took it to the baby shower. I missed the unwrapping, but was told that everyone passed it around and tried the zipper, flipped around the tassels (added later) and complimented it without even noticing the color difference. Phew!