Monday, July 31, 2006

Happy Birthday, Harry

Revealing my total inner-dork, I give you this happy birthday post for Harry Potter. And for all you Potterphiles out there, I ask you a few of the magical world's most burning questions:
* Who else was in Godric's Hollow the night James & Lily died?
* Will we see Sirius's motorcycle again - perhaps with Harry riding it?
* Snape - good or evil?
* Harry - dead or alive?
* How many copies will Bloomsbury run on the initial print of book 7?
* When will they find a way to work Colin Firth into one of these movies?
* Am I too old for this?

(Don't answer that last question.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Somber Post

As most of you know, I have a cat - a long-haired black & grey cat who eats all plants and J. Crew sweaters. And Kudzu, whose name I stole for my blog, is first and foremost family. And in my sister's family, there is her husband, one cat and two dogs, after having just lost one of her cats to old age and cancer in early June. The remaining cat, Oreo, is a cat rescued from a homeless existence outside the school where she and her husband teach. The dogs, Jake and Ben, are two lively little fellows - a pom-poo (pomeranian/poodle mix) and a schipperke. They are the loves of her life.

Ben is the schipperke, a breed known for its curiosity and intense loyalty. Truly, I have never seen an animal so devoted to its owner as Ben to my sister. So we were all unnerved when he started having trouble with his legs late last week. It's amazing how you can know sometimes that one time a pet or friend or family member isn't feeling well that it's more ominous than another time. This was one of those times - an instinctual knowing that this time was going to be more dire, more severe.

And so when the phone rang before seven this morning, I knew that it was bad news. I wasn't suprised when Mom told me that he had a seizure in the night and that he had died in the car before they could get him to the emergency vet. My sister is devastated, and it was hard to see her and know that there was nothing to be done. And so, I'm putting up a little post here in memory of Ben. We'll miss you.

Yard Art On A Whole New Level

On my drive out of town down Highway 74, I don't see much except for a few small houses here and there and a lot of pine trees. But about 30 or 40 minutes out of town, there is one point of interest - a place where yard art has run amok. And not just any yard art. There is a full potpourri of life-size statuary: horses, flamingos, bears, dinosaurs. Some of it's amusing. Some of it is downright frightening. Like the bear reared on its hind legs, fangs bared. Or the rearing horse attaching to a carriage. Or the bizarre looking barrels with animal heads - elephants, tigers, alligators. The photo here was the best I could find but certainly doesn't do it justice.

Today, I drove back into town after dark, so I was afraid I would miss it. But luckily, there was full-size polar bear on an ice flo reclining against a well-lit palm tree in the middle of the pond out front, lighting my way.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Make It Longer

My mother is a very accomplished seamstress. She made me dresses when I was a little girl, and she does all my tailoring now. Because I have short stubby legs, she often hems pants for me. She'll sit in the floor with her pink hat-shaped pin cushion and turn up the cuffs. And I stand back from the mirror and try determine if it's the length I want. When I decide, she says, "Are you sure? Cause I can always make it shorter, but I can't make it longer."

In my ecstasy over being reunited with Crazy J. on Thursday, I allowed him to lop off a significant amount of my hair. And it looked fabulous as promised when he styled it for me. But in the shower the last couple of days, I find myself looking for the mass of inches of hair swept into the trashcan. I wonder if I got carried away. Is there any way to make it longer? Without consulting Ken Paves for Jessica Simpson extensions?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's All About Great Hair

I grew up in small town Georgia just two counties over from an area populated by women with what we called "radar bangs" - the towers of teased bangs that could pick up a radio single. I had my hair cut by the same woman for years until she retired, and then I shifted to another in the same salon. So as of moving to W-Town, I had had two hairstylists and my hair colored at home or with one of those really tight plastic caps and the pseudo-knitting hook. Not exactly Jonathan Salon.

When I called the salons here, you would've thought I was asking them to use a combination of peroxide and Sun-In on my hair for the response I got for asking about "cap highlights." The stylist I finally settled on was at a salon about 25 minutes from my apartment and about 5 feet tall. Every time I had my hair cut, I'd ponder whether or not a) he was gay b) subtly hitting on me or c) possibly making fun of me. I followed him to three different salons before he disappeared one day with no warning. I was utterly at a loss.

I asked for recommendations from friends, one of which led me to a very chic beach salon and outed me about $140 from a very severe stylist. Then, I found Crazy J. Crazy J. is the gay hair stylist of my dreams. I'd never looked better - from cut to color and the endless flattery about how fabulous I looked. And while his stories about past loves and life adventures seemed a wee tad exaggerated, I could overlook them. I was in love. Did I mention that he gave incredible head massages during the shampoo portion of the experience?

And then one day, his edgy lifestyle landed him in jail after three DUIs and a missed court date. I was devastated, wandering around town with roots and split ends. I found another hairstylist...nice, a little less expensive, easy to be with and chatty. It's been working out okay, but it just wasn't the same.

Not too long ago, I heard through the grapevine that Crazy J. had served out his time and was back on the W-Town hair circuit. But how to approach? Cheating on stylists is a serious offense. And would he welcome me back? Would it be weird? I talked about calling him, but then I couldn't bring myself to do it. And then my opportunity came when the new stylist went on maternity leave in July.

I threw caution to the wind, tracked him down and made an appointment. I drove to the salon today, feeling as though I were going to see a long-lost friend. And there he was, tall, thin and flamboyant. He took me in his arms, told me I looked as fabulous as ever and got to work on my long-overdue-for-a-haircut tresses. It took me half a shampoo, one head massage and 10 minutes of his delighted snipping and cutting to fall in love all over again.

All I can say is: reunited and it feels so good.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

She's Guilty, Part II

I was supposed to watch She's the Man last week with Mel & Penelope. But we were unavoidably detained by wine and blue corn tortilla chips and discussing the devil at the office and the decline in good shows on HBO these days. So anyway, sorry, ladies, but I couldn't wait. And I'd just like to say: I wanna be Amanda Bynes when I grow up.

An Impooptant Matter

Dear Neighbor Man With Dog (And Bad Hair),

I know that the strip of grass between the sidewalk and our street is not really technically anyone’s yard. But I walk through that grass everyday to get to my car. I sort of think of it as my yard annex.

I’ve noticed in the time I’ve been living in my apartment that you generally walk your dog right before I leave for work, often in my yard annex. And I also notice that you don’t pick up after the dog. Now, I don’t blame this on the dog. She can’t help your lack of manners. But truly, this is your responsibility.

I know it’s unpleasant to handle the poo. I know because I stepped in it this morning and got it on my open-toed heels, my car and most dreadfully my foot. I had to be late for work because of scrubbing my carpet and shampooing my heel and fully disinfecting my foot.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. And please don’t think it’s because I have a cat and don’t like dogs. I love dogs. Really I do. But I don’t love your dog’s poo. So please – scoop the poop. Or you may find some kitty treats on your front lawn.

Poo Shoe

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Blogs seem the appropriate place for confessing guilty pleasures. The celebrity gossip sites listed to the right already indicate one of my guilty pleasures. And I feel guilty both because of the insignificance of the information (i.e. where Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minillo were last spotted) and because of the incriminating evidence that I'm not spending my time in more productive ways (i.e. writing the Great American Novel or writing letters to politicians about the state of the world). But nonetheless, there are the undeniable little joys in life we take in while in our pajamas, safe in our little apartments or when we think no one is looking (or won't notice, like that the cover of Time has been carefully wrapped around an US Weekly). Unfortunatley for J., he has to endure some of those embarassing little pleasures - like my viewing of the new Justin Timberlake video for "Sexy Back" on YouTube. Check it out! Oh, come on, you know you like it, too!!

Other guilty pleasures: trashy romance novels (with titles like Guilty Pleasures), country-style buffets (thanks for the Casey's recommendation, Pen!), sleeping ridiculously late on Saturday mornings, my love of Disney World, Hallmark movies, movies starring Amanda Bynes, and maybe, possibly, watching the Concert for America while drinking Arbor Mist.

Anyone else needing to confess a guilty pleasure? Of the PG-13 nature, please. People might be reading at work while pretending to review a very important memo.

Great Balls of Fire

According to the official website, the Atomic Fireball was invented in 1954 by Nello Ferrara, son of Salvatore Ferrara, founder of Ferrara Pan candies. (Lemonheads! Cherryheads! Boston Baked Beans!) The Atomic Fireball starts as a single grain of sugar that is "panned" over a two week period until it is the right size, then flavored, colored and packaged. About 15 million are eaten each week worldwide. And thanks to the cravings of the pregnant lady in the office, who went to four stores and bought five pounds, I'm eating about 10 percent of those. Seriously. I'm pretty sure I'm working toward an atomic hole in my stomach.

What Is Biting The Hand That Feeds You?

In this article, we find out that Ken Jennings has been posting nasty things about Jeopardy! and its host Alex Trebek on his personal website. While I admit that I sometimes hate the way Alex says, "OH NO, I'm sorry. That's incorrect.", I personally haven't won $2.5 million from him and his game show. Or gotten endorsement deals and endless publicity. If I had done those things, I probably could overlook the "sorry" comments and play nice. In fact, I could be best friends with Alex if he gave me $2.5 million. So Ken, if you're going with PR Perspective for $1,000, I have to say: "What is a bad move, Alex?"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stressed to the Nines

Today, I ran around the office like a chicken with my head cut off trying to put out one fire and then another and feeling like I was never really getting something done. I found myself saying, "If I just get through this job, I can relax." But it's not true. After that job, there will be another. And then another.

And as I was discussing with Penelope , who is a stay-at-home Wife/Mommy/Reality TV Connisseur, and Mel, who is a part-time professor, no matter what your "job" is, there will be stress. Even if you don't go somewhere to work and punch in with a boss. There will be the stress of a crying baby or a dirty bathroom or a dwindling bank account. Or, as I worried aloud to one of the women I work with the other day, retirement.

Stress is just one of those many-head monsters that has another head growing just after you've cut one off. And there's one at work and one at home. One for relationships and one for family. Stress, stress everywhere and not a drop to drink. And that's why there's beer.

Happily Ever After?

Okay. I admit it. Like a bad car accident, I watched the My Fair Brady finale last night. I've been sort of mesmerized by this oddly matched couple who lived their entire relationship on television (i.e. We'll get engaged because that's the next episode in the series) and alternately seem truly in love and truly disturbed. The whole final episode, I was thinking that someone would step in and offer them counseling as they disintegrated into yelling at each other and, in Adrienne's case, a sniveling mass of smudged mascara.

And at last, the day before the nuptials, "Joe the Wedding Planner" gallantly stepped forward to sort out the misunderstanding between Adrienne and Chris. Well. I certainly feel better. This deeply distressed, constantly fighting couple has been pronounced "okay" since neither of them caught the other in bed with someone else the day before the wedding. So it's not the worse he's seen. Does not being the worst the wedding planner has ever seen qualify you for a stable marriage? I'm not sure, but I bet it made a lovely toast at the reception. Here's to their bizarre affection overriding their urge to kill one another.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

This Old House

Four years ago this weekend, I was moving into my apartment in an almost 200-year-old house in the historic district. At the time, the air conditioner was broken; the cornering turns on the spiral staircase were back-breaking; and I was totally in love with everything about it. After living a year in a complex, there was something refreshing about living in a house - even if it wasn't my house.

These days, the air conditioner works (as the power bill will show), but I still get winded on the last turn on the stairs leading to the second floor landing. And there are still so many things I love about it. I love the huge oak tree that fills up the ten foot windows on two sides of the house. And the black wrought iron scrollwork on the porches. And the bright yellow-colored stucco and the red roof. I love my hardwood floors and the afternoon light on the westside of the house. I love the wide windowsills that my cat likes to lounge in all day long.

But there are other things - things I didn't notice on that day so many years ago when I was enamored with the space and the high ceilings and the two nonworking though aesthetically-pleasing fireplaces. Things like the strange goo that sometimes seems to settle over the dishes after they've been washed. The tiny bathroom with no ventilation that's like a sauna in the summer and an icebox in the winter. The perpetually leaking faucets that produce an almost maddening drip-drip-drip in the middle of the night. The impossibility of properly heating or cooling the expansive rooms. The lack of a proper closet - oh, how I miss a real closet. And there's no washer or dryer, meaning I've always got to lug my laundry up and down the dreaded stairs to get it clean. And lastly, but most dear to my heart, there is no dishwasher. NO DISHWASHER. With God as my witness, I will never go dishwasherless again.

Occasionally, I'm overcome with fear of ghosties in the darkness of my apartment in the wee hours. It's an old house, and I've noticed in the last year or two that the ghost walks they lead for tourists come by here. A former neighbor once told me that he woke up to find his bedroom filled with the ghost of ex-slaves. I've never had such a misfortune, although I find the kitchen particularly creepy late at night. But in the end, it's going without a dishwasher that's most frightening.

Holy Chad Michael Murray

J. and I were actually on time to church this morning and slipped into the balcony before the opening prayer. But just before the invocation someone, who was not so on time, opened the balcony door. I recognized him immediately - not so much from his current teen drama One Tree Hill, but from his stint on Dawson's Creek as Jen Linley's less-than-lovable boyfriend.

Chad Michael Murray was at church, suited up and wearing a bright pink shirt. (Actually, when searching for a photo of him, I think I found one of him in the pink shirt, but it seemed too much.) It was all highly out of order to me until he sat down beside a young blonde - his fiance. And on the other side of his recent high school graduate fiance was her father - and he looked like there were a few things he'd like to say to this spikey haired older recently-divorced guy sliding into the church pew late and wearing Pumas with his suit to boot.

I found it hard to pay attention to what was going on for paying attention to him and his finace and her poor distressed-looking father. Ah, young love. Heaven help them.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

One Saturday

I've been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now. The classic "everybody's doing it" reason. I kept thinking of all sorts of things that I needed to share with the world. And now I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

So here it is. My blog, the Kudzu Jungle, the result of a Saturday at home on the couch watching too much TBS.