Sunday, August 31, 2008

the long weekend

My grandmother's mind is going. It has been for a while, so last weekend, when her right hip went too, the news brought a combination of concern and relief. Concern for the obvious reasons, but relief because this is finally the thing that's going to bring about the changes that we've all been dancing around for a few years- specifically, that it's probably time for Grandma to move out of the farmhouse and to stop driving herself all over Aurora County to outdoor auctions with uneven grounds on which she might fall and break her hip. So.

Our little clan is gathered in Sioux Falls this weekend to visit her in her temporary nursing home- temporary because as soon as the hip is better we hope to move her to an assisted living facility, which I am assured is much nicer than the nursing home, which is good because oh my god the nursing home is not all that nice.

She's having a hard time remembering what's going on, where she is and why. My mom brought her a bright pink post-it pad to write notes on, such as, "Pat and kids are coming for lunch at 11:30 tomorrow," or, "Staff will pick you up for church service at 10:00," or- and this is the one that perfectly encapsulates her sense of humor, practicality, and self-awareness, despite everything- "Don't go running away."

She can still do a crossword puzzle like nobody's business, and today when my dad asked her a question that had stumped the contestants on Jeopardy (this is the profession named in the first line of the 23rd Psalm), she answered without batting an eye (shepherd). So I guess some things don't get erased. I am told that my great-grandmother spent her last months in bed staring blindly at the ceiling, reciting text from newspapers that she'd read decades before. Word for word. It seems this fun runs in the family.

I am starting on a gingko supplement when I get home.

More to come on all of this, including the as yet unscheduled world's shittiest trip to Grandma's house, the trip in which we clean it out and try to determine what to do with a lifetime's accumulation of pie birds and pretty serving dishes.

In other cheerful news, a rather significant hurricane is headed for New Orleans, and my favorite Times-Pic reporter seems to think it best that he ignore evacuation orders and stay to cover the story. Pulitzer-chasing jackass.

Everything's coming up roses.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

But they look *fierce.*

Here in Minnesota, we're proud to be home to all kinds of companies that reflect our salt-of-the-earth Midwestern values. Among them: Red Wing Shoes. Made with care in in the lovely riverside town of Red Wing, a pair of Red Wing work boots will set you back about $175. Steep, but a fair price for a good steel-toed, leather boot that will keep you in one piece, should you drop a chainsaw on your foot or something.

The 616 9-inch Logger. Full grain, waterproof leather with Thinsulate lining. Badass!

But what if you're not the type of guy who would ever have an opportunity to drop a chainsaw on your foot? What if you're, like, an east coast ad exec who would like to dress like you know your way around a worksite, but you actually wouldn't know a socket wrench from a crescent wrench from a hole in the ground? Fear not, you big candyass: J. Crew has introduced its own line of Red Wing boots.

The Red Wing Classic Irish Setter. Unlined, unreinforced, but with groovy broken-in looking leather and antique-brass colored eyelets. The price of poseurdom: $325.

Sigh. A fool, his money, yada yada yada.

Monday, August 25, 2008

In all Rene Russo movies, the men come to regret when they don't appreciate her.

I have a song from Major League stuck in my head. It's the one that's playing when Tom Berenger is sad that Rene Russo has left him, and it sounds like Joe Cocker or someone very manly, and it goes: (I will do my best here to convey the intense emotion of the song with caps, bolding and italicization. (Real word? Don't know.))

Sometimes you're just so busy CHASING
[now sadder, forlornly] you look around your life and find no one's there

No idea what that's all about. Haven't seen Major League in probably 10 to 12 years. One of Charlie Sheen's finer films, though; I think we can all agree. Also, Dennis Haysbert's.

Friday, August 22, 2008

We're in a fight.

Dear Minneapolis Central Public Library,
Some suggestions:
TRY SOME LARGER SIGNAGE, JERKWADS. If you insist on keeping your impossibly small call number labels on the ends of the shelves, some bigger signs hanging overhead would be lovely and would prevent people from wandering aimlessly around the aisles for 20 minutes.

YOUR CARPET IS SO B'FUGLY. I guess that is more of an observation than a suggestion.

HOW DO I HAVE $30 IN LATE FEES??????? I understand that you're a little strapped for cash, but don't take it out on well intentioned readers like me. Okay, so I kept a few knitting books a few months after the due date. But 30 cents per item, per day? This would never happen at the Alexander Mitchell Public Library in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where the nice librarian was just, like, aware that my family's books would be late, but that we would eventually return them in perfect condition. That is how libraries should work. Due dates should be approximate, within a month or two. I mean, really, what harm is done if the book is returned? But now I'm mad, see, and maybe I won't take such good care of your books. Maybe I'll bend the covers, just to subvert your punitive fine system. (Actually, I could never intentionally do that, but the example is for illustrative purposes.)


Thank you for allowing me to use your equipment to post this,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Endorsement: Freeloading

When too poor to take a real vacation, there is an important question one must ask oneself: Do I know anyone with a lake home in his or her family?

If so, you may be fortunate enough to do what I did this weekend: spend a few days lying on the end of a dock, frozen drink in hand, merrily waving at other people on the lake whom you do not know, but who all seem very keen on waving. All this, for the price of a tank of gas. Oh, and a bottle of tequila to replace the one that you depleted in the making of the frozen drinks.

If it is "kids weekend," you and your friend may turn out to be the oldest people there, a fact that you will illustrate by going to bed at 12:30 and refusing to ride on the jet ski in anything but a straight line, but the "kids" (who are actually 18-26) will very kindly overlook these things, and will be so amiable in general that you will think to yourself that there is a lot to be said for a suburban Catholic upbringing. I mean, these people do charity right.

It will dawn on you that you haven't taken a trip for fun in almost two years. You will wish that you could reciprocate your friend's generosity, but somehow a trip to Sioux Falls and a spin on the back of your dad's Harley just don't hold the same appeal.

Knitting, then? Can you reciprocate in knitting?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

$700 office chair, I'ma spill coffee all over you.

Well, tonight is my last class at the Loft. Until I take another one, that is, because I'm all about the lifelong learning, as long as it doesn't cost very much and I don't have to write anything over 1,000 words. Word count of final article: 750. Score!

Because I know you'll be RIVETED, here is a Q&A excerpt I was sorry I couldn't fit in:

There are actually a lot of credit card companies that work out of South Dakota, right? More than anywhere else in the country, and that’s because we have no regulations in terms of interest rates. So what we have is a lot of high-risk credit cards. And some companies like Citibank and even Wells have special divisions just for high risk cards, and that’s what they do here. And who can blame them? If I had a credit card company, I would have it here. Why not? You can just charge all the money you want, or charge for interest fees and penalties and it’s not regulated by the state. The upside of that is that it’s provided thousands of jobs here- decent paying jobs, not great paying jobs for South Dakotans, for regional people. And it has built this city up considerably and put a lot of people to work. That’s the upside. The downside of it is people are getting gouged.

Man, my dad's so smart.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Out of context Gmail chat; reason #64 I'm not friends with that many women; names redacted to protect the innocent

Party One: she recently started selling that stupid fucking jewelry with the parties and shit.
Party Two: oh noooo
Party One: i KNOW.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I gotta wear shades.

This week, Brendan talks shop with the Columbia Journalism Review. I myself have been busy chatting with the crazy cat lady a few doors down from my apartment. So see, we're both in high demand.

On a related note, here's a pretty-close-to-actual conversation I had with my Loft instructor last week:
Kate: How should I submit clips if they're articles I've ghostwritten?
Holly: Like... they actually have someone else's name on them?
Kate: Yeah. And a headshot.
Holly: Umm... I wouldn't do that.

So clearly, my career as a writer is seriously going places.

Friday, August 1, 2008

In which I am selfishly thankful for my own laziness.

One year ago, I took a few days off to move and paint my new apartment. On August 1, late in the afternoon, I ran out of Apricot Dream or whatever the hell shade it was and thought to myself, "Well, shit. Now I have to drive back to the Quarry for a damn quart of paint." But then I thought, "You know what? It's hot; I'm tired; I'm going to take a break for a while and wait until after rush hour."

And that is how laziness saved my ass.

Incidentally, I can't remember what radio station I was listening to when I first heard the news, but the DJ said something like this: "We're receiving reports that the I-35W bridge has collapsed over the Mississippi. And now here's something from the Red Hot Chili Peppers." Good work, DJ!