how to be aleta*

1. Buy awesome military-style hoodie on deal-of-the-day discount site. Like so:

what I lost, but then gained back with preserverence.

2. Love it so much that you decide to hibernate in it for the winter.

3. Lose it, probably the night you kicked over a bottle of champagne AND broke a glass independently at the Alamo Drafthouse, but maybe you are not sure. Maybe you remember having it before then, but not after then, but maybe you lost it before everyone showed up because it is so awesome that they should have noticed it, and you don’t remember anyone mentioning it. You remember your mom admiring it two weeks prior, for example, and she hates everything you wear.

4. Wait 3 weeks.

5. Finally notice it is actually missing. You fucking spacecase.

6. Do extensive research on discount site to identify the maker and style, then more extensive research to buy it a second time from Amazon. Maybe even debate buying a spare. Or two. (it really is a totally amazing hoodie)

7. (projected) Locate it tonight in a place you swear you already checked like, six times.

* Note that there are a million other ways to be Aleta, most of which are significantly less self-deprecating, but this is the kind of shit that really stands out.

fate

Five years ago two days from now, I failed miserably at making this recipe in a tiny, hot kitchen above a vintage shop in Brookline, after spending about two hours insistently steaming, cooling and scraping a very annoying pumpkin instead of just using a $1 can.

 

My muffins came out sad and dense and wet, and on my way to work there was a guy asking for change on the median, so I gave him a sack of about a half dozen. I left a comment on the recipe post, have not made them since, and will never substitute the real deal for canned pumpkin ever again.

Apparently, 45 minutes later, my very good friend (and maid of honor) Heather commented on the same blog post, except I didn’t realize that until just now because it was a month before we met. *dun*dun*DUNNNNN*

 

Fate is luck, I guess.

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biggest loser

I have never been very good at keeping track of my shit, and as a result, I have become really obsessive with keeping track of my shit. Every time I leave a place I have to make a conscious effort to recall and locate everything I have arrived with, and as a result I cannot even remember the last time in my adult life that I have forgotten something somewhere.

 

But that is not to say that I have not lost anything in my adult life. No. Far from it, in fact. Instead I have this embarrassing tendency to lose things in my own home. Important things, particularly keys and credit cards and so forth. Now, when most people lose things in their home, they figure it’ll show up sooner or later, and as far as I can tell this is usually the case for Other People. But for me, if I am not able to locate my Something Important within a couple days’ time, it is forever lost.

 

I like to pretend I am haunted by imps or some other fantastical magpie, because the alternative is that I am really REALLY stupid. So stupid I could lose my own car keys in my house without ever leaving it. So stupid that I lost Dano’s car keys *in a completely empty house*, and did they appear when we unpacked everything we owned? They did not. Nor were they discovered by the landlord, nor were they in the car when we got it detailed several months later. Vanished. Or the $50 bill I lost somewhere between my car and my backyard (specifically, my apartment I walked through to the get to the backyard), where my neighbors and I were hosting a barbecue/jello-shot-a-thon. And actually, that one is yes, the least surprising of circumstances, but does not make me sound any less stupid.

 

Most recently I have managed to lose my wallet at our house, which is a real shame because I liked that wallet (I got it on my last trip to Chicago and it had Frankenstein on it, teehee), and also because, you know, it contained my license and medical benefits card and credit card and some ca$h. We had our garage sale yesterday, and I remember putting it in my back pocket right next to my phone, and I remember discovering it was gone a couple hours later, but I figured I had simply left it on my bureau or something, perhaps having removed it when I realized it was too bulky in the pocket. And we had shoppers I was distracted and awkward. Later, upon concluding that it was not actually on my bureau nor in my bag, or anywhere else reasonable, I thought perhaps I had left it in the garage. But now our garage is empty, and wallet? No wallet.

 

After some brainstorming with Dano and Lacey and Jim, the most logical conclusion I can draw is that it must have dropped out of my pocket in the garage, and it either found its way into a box and wasn’t noticed, or more likely, it was pinched by am opportunistic customer when it fell on the floor. As as humanist at heart, I really REALLY do not want to believe this, but so far nobody has swung by to return it.

 

Worst of all, if I had venture a guess, it would probably be our first customer. She was this older lady who took a bunch of stuff off our hands and sat down for awhile on a for-sale chair to rest before returning to her car, which had a handicapped license plate. I was running the show alone at that point, and it was a bit chaotic with stuff kind of all over the place, and if there was ever a opportunity, that’d be it, particularly since I may have sat in that chair while I still had it. But then she even returned later to catch the dregs, and if she were the culprit, I assume she would not really expect a second windfall wallet that was so easy to snatch and would more wisely opt to stay the fuck away.

 

My second guess would be this family, presumably an aunt and grandmother with two little boys, one of whom found their way into nooks of our garage, an incident that I can assure required a rather forced smile on my part when they came to extract the little shit. But what makes that such a shitty thought is that one of the little boys (maybe 10?) sat down next to Lacey and told her that his mom had died of a heart attack and was in heaven now.

 

So basically, the best accusation I can manage is an at-least-half-orphan and his cousin, or a handicapped old woman. With no actual evidence of any kind, and no detailed description, I can’t in good conscience file a police report since they may have been just two of the more memorable crews to swing through. Couple that with my well-documented history of losing things in my home when no strangers are around, or even that it’s possible it may just turn up somewhere bizarre in a few months, like a coat pocket.

 

Doesn’t really matter though, because no matter how long I wait to replace my ID and credit card, it is certainly impossible that it will turn up in advance of canceling the old numbers. So in a way, having an itchy trigger finger on replacing my identity enhances the likelihood that it will turn up sometime between tomorrow morning when I haul my ass out of bed 2.5 hours early to make it to the DMV before it opens, and the 4-6 annoying-ass weeks it will take for my new license to come in. And all my auto-pays will fail because the account will be closed. Fuckin. Awesome. Great.

 

Mostly, I’m just really pissed off and annoyed with myself because regardless of whether someone actually did nab it or I threw it away in a box or something, it was my responsibility to keep track of my shit. Had I done so effectively, I would still have my fucking wallet, but more importantly to my vanity, I wouldn’t be reminded of what an unbelievable moron I am when it comes to keeping track of shit.

 

9/26 – update


Yup, literally ten minutes after calling my credit card company to cancel the card, I found the wallet in our laundry room.  I am a ridiculous person.

perfectionist

I attended the latter half of grammar school at  St. Casimir’s, a not-very-prestigious Catholic school that was so poor that (as far as I can tell) it was run almost entirely on the take of a weekly bingo night at St. Hedwig’s. And as you might have already guessed, the first time I heard about Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I got a good chuckle at the expense of my old alma mater.

Anyhow, one of the ways the school saved money was by having teams of four 6th graders do the dishes at lunch time. We rotated through weekly and were forced to sacrifice our half hour lunchtime recess to scrape plates, soak silverware, fill the dishwasher and put them away, like some kind of fucking orphanage. My mother was not thrilled with this arrangement, and was even decidedly vocal on the subject at home, but she wished us to have a private education and this was the best she and my father could afford. So every few weeks I was on dish detail, but then the health inspector came through on my off week, and the lunch ladies sent up the kids scheduled that week to trade them for the best dishwashers that week so the kitchen would pass inspection.

As it turned out, I was a crack Dish Rinser, so I was sent down with the other future bus boys. And that day I came home beaming and boasting about what a great sink operator I was. My mom listens, has a short quiet think and says to me “Well listen, if you want to go to recess instead of doing dishes, here’s what you do: just don’t do a very good job of the dishes.”

I paused, which did not happen often to Little Aleta. “But . . . I’m really good at doing dishes.”

“Yes, but wouldn’t you rather have recess?”

“I mean, yeah, but otherwise who is going to do a good job of the dishes?”

I (obviously) did not get it and was so good at a shit job that I got to do it all the time. Lucky me.

The school also saved money by having their 8th graders monitor the other grades on both recesses, because you know, teachers need breaks more than 13-year-olds, so two years later I was monitoring the 7th grade. Having 7th grader duty was kind of a treat because they were more or less my age, so I basically got to hang out with them AND be in charge. Rock star for an 8th grader. But after a small, rather bland act of rebellion, my teacher decided that I was not going to be monitoring at all any more because of the discord I had sown with my charges. So instead I had to stay in the empty 8th grade classroom all by myself at recesses as a punishment.

This time I came home, dejected, and explained to my mother what happened, all the while cringing at her inevitable condemnation of my misbehavior.  She blinks and says, “So you don’t have to monitor any more? That’s great, now you don’t have to!”

“But! I’m in trouble!”

“I mean, I guess, except you got what you wanted. Is that the only punishment?”

“Well yeah, but…”

 

A few weeks later that same teacher, probably just then realizing what an idiotic punishment that is, started having me correct my classmates’ homework. She would correct mine and then I would use it as the key to grade everybody else’s.

This time I came home groaning. “Ugh, now I have to correct papers.”

“You know what you do, if you don’t want to correct papers…?”

 

I recalled this tale to my mom in a phone call the other night, and she said, laughing, “Well, you’re just such a perfectionist that you couldn’t imagine doing a bad job of anything!”

And that, there, was the moment of realization. Finally. I’m . . . a perfectionist? I mean, I knew I was an overachiever, but perfectionist?? I prefer to look a little messy, my car always needs to be vacuumed, and I don’t even understand why one would bother to make their bed, so this came as quite a surprise. But as it turns out, I am as much a perfectionist as ever, and now that I actually realize that I’ve been seeing my life through a different lens. Instead of feeling guilty for all the things I don’t get to because I have to do everything I actually get to exactly right, maybe I can just send that care package even though the box isn’t quite full, and that way I will have time to pick up some pastries rather than making them, but at least I brought something to the party instead of skipping it because I was out all night filling up a box.

Just gotta remember to slow down a little bit, breathe a little more, not read that email a fourth time before sending it just to make sure I didn’t reference the wrong person. Nothing wrong with doing a job right, but not every job requires the same level of energy.

 

 

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mama’s girl

My mom is visiting next week, and I’m super thrilled. It’s a relatively new development, but I have become a giant mama’s girl in the last few years, so when I say that “October will be full of all my favorite ladies,” I don’t have to add “…oh, and my mom,” no, she is in fact one of my very favorite ladies.

Affection aside, my mother share some significant differences (share? Is that the word for that? I don’t know what else to use). Where I revel in being weird, she just wants to be normal. Like normal people or something, I don’t know whatever. I am obnoxious and flamboyant, she is polite and quiet. I have enjoyed a healthy dose of cocktails, and she is a lifelong teetotaler.  She has had the same sparkling grout for almost 20 years now, and I have never quite mastered cleaning grout much at all. She is great with money, and actually so am I . . . except she is great at saving it, whereas I am great at spending it on things like specialty jams just for cheese platters.  And speaking of that, I love to entertain in my home whereas she kind of hates it.

But then other differences are kind of just not differences at all. For example, where I like to cook, she’s more of a baker. I crocheted doilies for her, and she knit me socks. She will strip an old piece of furniture, sand and reassemble it, varnish over the course of several weekends, and use it for the rest of her life. I prefer to buy older furniture that doesn’t require that kind of commitment, and then hold onto it until I find older or better old furniture to replace it.

We work in completely different industries with entirely different titles, but hold remarkably similar jobs in terms of day-to-day mechanics. She taught me how to make a pivot table and was always able to follow my convoluted tales of how I have to bring down all this data from disparate sources, paste them in a spreadsheet that is actually just a tab you hide that is a source for this other spreadsheet, which will dynamically adjust the number of rows on the report, which has a dropdown that contains each project, and when I sent it off to that VP he was like “Wow, this is great,” and I smiled goofily and said “Thanks! I am pretty proud of it.” And then she will tell me a similar story about how she completely reworked this process and now all you have to do is this easy thing, and ta-da! She just saved each manager at least ten hours a month.

So we are somewhat different and somewhat alike and I really enjoy the adult-child relationship I have with my mom. It will no doubt change, but I think our differences and similarities will not. We are accepting of the differences and are both (I hope, at least I am) very grateful for the similarities, and both of those give us continuity. It’s nice to know that I can always go back to teasing her by putting a matchbook with a picture of Barack Obama in the bathroom just because she is visiting, and she can go back to trying to convince me to just let my hair grow out because it is so pretty, and then we can laugh it off and maybe do some holiday crafts.

 

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large format picture

I have worked as a paid model on exactly two occasions for a boudoir photography class held at Austin Art Institute, and in one such session, the most glamourous picture anyone has ever (and probably will ever) take of me was created. It looks like this and was taken by Tea Eiland, who is fabulously talented…

…wouldn’t you say?

I cannot stress enough how very disingenuous of me this photograph is. I am not nearly so milky-skinned, nor have I such a refined air. In fact in color, this outfit was clownish–fluorescent red and blue and orange makeup. But this photograph here is the one that I envision showing some grandkids and saying “you know, your old memere wasn’t always an old biddy!”

One day I was visiting with my pal April and she interrupts me to say “Oh oh! I almost forgot I have to tell you! So I was at the Art Institute the other day, and I come around the corner, and there is this larger-than-life photograph in black and white. And suddenly it clicks that it’s you! There is this giant photograph of you on display as a final project!”

H-what? There is a giant picture of me. I mean, if there was ever a photograph of me that I would want blown up, that would be the one. However. It is a weird, but flattering, but weird thought. I am flattered, endlessly, that anybody I met once thought enough of a visual representation that was even a suggestion of what I look like to make it LARGE. If it had come up before, I would have described myself as a small photos kinda gal. “I look best in a locket,” I might say. And the value of the art has nothing to do with my contribution, I just sat there and tried not to smirk, and besides, it doesn’t really even look like me anyway. The true beauty is Tea’s fabulous eye and generous photoshoppery.

But it is still a picture of me, and that’s still weird to a girl raised in a household very disparaging of vanity. But because I know this exists, I wonder what will ever become of that giant picture of me. In the near term, it would remain in the possession of the photographer, but eventually . . . what? Will it be discarded in a move? Might somebody purchase a giant picture of me, and if so, what would they do with it?

The answer would appear to be “nobody really wants a giant picture of me,” because Tea posted on Facebook that she would be giving away her large prints to the models in them. Which means! I will soon be in possession of the giant picture of me. Which was very exciting for the first few minutes until I realized that there is nowhere to put a giant picture of anyone that isn’t a little weird, particularly if it is one of the hostess. Maybe if we had a mansion or some shit, I could put that thing in the foyer, but we don’t, so our options are limited. I could put it above the couch, but I can only imagine how I would feel if I walked into somebody’s house and the first thing I saw was this huge picture of the bitch, and it is not how I want somebody to feel about me.

Usually I relegate stuff I feel obligated to put out in the bathroom, but that’s probably the worst place for obvious reasons. Similarly, the guest room is straight out, and ugh, who wants to eat in the dining room while I watch them from two different angles? This is even WORSE than my Scary Clown painting, because at least that can go in the entry way or in the context of our weird stuff collection. This leaves only the master bedroom, and Dano did not have to think twice to say that would be way too weird.

Verily, no albatross has hung so heavy as That Giant Picture of Me.

 

 

i found: a dollhouse

Before Facebook, before blogs and rss feeds and everyone’s ideas being pushed out to you and then recycled in the artificially, eternally-sustained virility of reposts and social collectives centered around reposts (looking at you, Pinterest),* there was still Google. We didn’t have a computer until my freshman year of high school, but despite insisting to the contrary, my parents eventually reached into their impossibly tight pockets and pulled out a few bucks for high-speed cable internet. Most of my friends were still on dial-up, but there were significantly fewer pictures, and no such thing as image search, and the closest thing to youtube were animated gifs, so the only real benefit (to me) was not having to sacrifice my use of the phone. Because this was also before cell phones, you see.

Anyway, reading back through that I am starting to sound like a codger. Boo. But! That was not really the point of that exposition. While the internet has always been a pretty cushy little place, what seems to have changed the most in terms of delivery of content is that you used to have to find things on the internet. Now they find you, like Soviet Russia. But in my internet youth, I spent a lot of time googling hazy memories from my very young childhood, like “what songs are on the Ferris Bueller soundtrack” [total sidenote: none was published, so I located a track list then recreated it for myself], with mixed results.

In that spirit, I have googled every few years about this fantastic dollhouse my mom brought out of storage one year. All I remembered was that it had three stories and was super modern and the walls and floor were clear in this super-modular, but you’d be amazed at how hard it is to find when all you really have to search on is ‘dollhouse modern vintage clear floors.’ There are NO distinct words there! Then today, in a stubborn fit of “I’m going to dick around on the internet while I drink my coffee,” I found it. There. On the 28th page of google image results.

http://www.barbigirl.com/imagination.htm

2011 & its weather

2011 was no 2010, and it certainly was no 2006 (not enough karaoke), but there were celebrations had and opportunities seized and hard work done. It was also a year of weather. This weather tale begins when Ernst and Young acquired Dano’s company, and he was all like “no way” and I was all like “I crave temperance.” To be clear, I was referring to the weather, and had probably just dug my Miata out of a snow pile because it wasn’t yet May, so I was a little biased. But then Dano was like “yeah, and let’s drive with the top down year-round.”

 

So we packed up all of our stuff,
The big schlep - North Grafton to Austin

 

said goodbye to all of our friends,
(here are are saying goodbye to friends over hot dogs, like classy folk)
Old school dining.

 

assured mothers we’d still visit,

 

and drove a couple thousand miles. Not here, though. Our condo was extremely conveniently located just over a mile from the Pike.
The big schlep - North Grafton to Austin

 

Sammer came along for the drive, and took most of the pictures. Here she is demonstrating what the kids apparently call a “duck face” in a disappointing Calhoun’s in Nashville.
The big schlep - North Grafton to Austin

 

On the way out of state, Mass said goodbye with a sudden and relentless rain shower. But then it followed that up with a little rainbow dessert. Which is so tear-jerkingly bittersweet it embarrasses me every time I think of it.
The big schlep - North Grafton to Austin

 

We arrived to the beauty of months of cloudless skies, paired the longest 100o+ streak in Austin’s recorded history,which really interfered with fully embracing the glory of months of cloudless skies.

 

The big schlep - North Grafton to Austin

 

The yard doesn’t look like much in this shot, but this was after a scant month or so of triple digit highs. These were that lawn’s halcyon days, when, in its naive optimism, it dreamt of becoming a lush paradise upon next rainfall. After the several months of continued drought and outrageously hot temperatures even for Texas (I was assured by more tenured locals), any form of lawn maintenance resulted primarily in piles of dirt and pebbles and the bottom of a broken thermometer thrown onto the withered pyre like some kind of slap in the face to underline how fucked our lawn will remain until it is fully reseeded.

 

…reseeded by some other sucker. Heh.

 

Anyway, the weather has since improved, much to our delight.