Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A matter of perspective

Happiness really is all in your mind. For example, I was stuck behind a logging truck on my way to work last week. I was already late, and now I was stuck going less than the speed limit down a winding, two-lane country road that took half an hour to drive under the best of circumstances. It’s times like that when one is well served by cultivating a near psychotic detachment from reality, so that previously serious problems become trivial, or even helpful.

I realized that the logging truck was actually doing me a favor. After all, I could get in a fatal accident at any speed above 20 MPH, but thanks to his inability to make it up steep hills, there would be no danger of that. And, it gave me time to practice my Queen Elizabeth wave (you know the one, it goes elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, etc.) in case I ever find myself in a parade.

It worked so well that I tried to change my perspective on other issues in my life:

-Our well pump was supposed to break. If we had a reliable source of clean water, I wouldn’t have been forced to meet my next door neighbors, who are really great people (as evidenced by the fact that they ran over 300 feet of hose from their house to ours). It also helped to teach me about the importance of water conservation. It’s NOT a renewable resource, people!

-All these bills help me to “keep it real.” Money would just go to my head. And this way, I can really be sure that I’ve got my priorities in order. Who needs both clean clothes AND a hot meal, right? Because that’s just getting greedy.

-Yeah, our heat pump doesn’t cool our house at all, and may even be broken. But I could stand to sweat off some unwanted pounds; I stopped being able to see my ribs, and it made me feel totally chubby. Also, this solves our problem of not having any hot meals.

-These ants aren’t infesting our house. They’re graciously sacrificing themselves to keep the hordes of spiders around here well fed. As long as there are plenty of ants blundering around and walking into the spider webs hidden in the walls and behind the furniture, the spiders won’t go back to roaming the halls where I can see them.

-And we need a lot of hulking spiders looming in the dark corners of the house. If anything, they have to be BIGGER, because at their current, half-the-size-of-my-fist stature, they can barely hold their own against all the wasps that set up shop outside.

-And those wasps. Thank god the wasps are here because—

You know what? I can’t do this anymore. If I keep this up, I’d have to give myself a wedgie and shove my head in the toilet, because I’d be completely insufferable.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This Will Not Become a Blog of Fear

I’m undecided as to whether “growing up” is something that happens in one pivotal moment (“Congratulations, today, you have become a man/woman (as applicable)”), or something that happens so gradually that you don’t even notice.

Okay, that’s a lie. Only a complete moron or someone in need of a cheap rhetorical device would think that growing up is anything other than the sum of the hundreds of small moments in our lifetimes that shape who we are and what we value.

Unless you define “growing up” as “being recognized as legally able to drink.” That’s pretty important, but also centered around one specific point in time.

However it happened, I have grown up, and my fears have grown up with me. For example:

Attics. Yes, they still make spooky noises, but I’m not as worried about vampires. Was that thump just the house settling, or a family of squirrels moving in? What if it’s something bigger, like raccoons? Or buffalo?

Faucets. The irregular flow isn’t caused by demonic possession. It’s our well. Is it going to run dry for the fourth time? Are we going to need another new pump? Will we be forced to filter and drink our own pee?

Cars. Evil cars won’t run me down while I cross the street. But is the car I’m driving about to fail? Why hasn’t it shifted to the next gear? Is that smell coming from my car, or the one in front of me? Was that noise always there? Can I fix it by turning up the radio?

Closed doors. My boss isn’t conducting satanic rituals behind her closed office door. And I’m reasonably certain she’s not shedding her human disguise so that her gills can air out properly. But what is she discussing in there? Raising insurance co-pays? Freezing salary increases? Firing me because of that time I wore white pants after labor day?

Coughs. It may have taken me over ten years, but I’m not afraid of Captain Tripps anymore. But does that cough mean a trip to the emergency room? Or billing disputes? Why do all the really scary symptoms develop outside of the doctor’s normal office hours?

Ground cover. The undead hands of the vengeful dead aren’t going to erupt from the ground to rip at my flesh, but what is lurking in those leaves? We picked up six ticks in our backyard last season, how many are waiting for us this summer? Isn’t there an effective lawn treatment that will drive them off? Will napalm work?

Sure, I might have scoffed at this list when I was younger, but that’s because I had some growing up to do.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

So, Citizen of the Month is doing a thing called the Great Interview Experiment. It's about bloggers interviewing bloggers to make the world a better place. Or shameless self-promotion. Or both.

I signed up, and interviewed Bzzzzgrrrl, of the blog City Mouse Country. It went something like this:

What’s your story?
I lived in D.C. for a year after college, moved to New Hampshire (which is where I sometimes grew up) for several years, and left in my late twenties because I was bored. I moved back to D.C. because I think it's a fantastic city and because I still have friends there, but after eight years, I was looking for a job and found myself increasingly drawn back north. I don't mind "bored" as much as I mind "shoved," and maybe that is the difference between my twenties and my thirties.

How did you find the Great Interview Experiment?
Through She Just Walks Around With It. She apparently did this experiment a long time ago, but just got around to posting the results.

How did you choose your screen name? How does it fit in with the theme of your blog? Are you using that spelling of "girl" ironically?
Not ironically, but maybe nostalgically. That screenname dates way, way back, to maybe 1997, when I was director of a day camp called Hornets' Nest, which allowed me to simultaneously be a camp director (which I loved) and feel like a badass (which I craved). That wasn't so long after I'd been sort of tangentially into the whole riotgrrl thing in college. I just sort of kept using it. So, you know, hornets, feminism, summer camp, badassery. All of that probably fits in with the theme of the blog, but only because it fits in with the theme of my life.

Why did you decide to start a blog?
The idea for the blog came up when I moved. My D.C. friends got very wide-eyed, asking me about all the things I'd surely miss and how cold it would surely be. I found myself e-mailing mobs of people about what it was actually like once I got here, and a blog seemed easier.

What would you say is the single greatest challenge about moving to the country?
Not knowing anything. It makes for funny stories, which is good for the blog, but the sheer amount of stuff I don't know is overwhelming. I need a roof rake? Really?
Oh, and also the move itself was a tremendous challenge. Because I hired the worst moving company ever, and the owner, who is oldish, and his daughter, who is pregnant, showed up to move me. I am not sure I am ready to blog about that experience, even yet.

How did you get such a hefty blogroll in just six months of posting?
The big honkin' blogroll is largely blogs I was reading before I was blogging (bloggin'?). And now, of course, Google tells me what to read.

How do you feel about Google, and their sinister Google Everything(tm) project?
Now you're gonna get us both killed.
I am, unfortunately, exactly the kind of person Google dreams of (That is not anthropomorphism. I actually believe that Google has a brain, and it frightens me.). I dislike everything this giantness stands for, and yet, it's so eeeeeeeeeeeasy. And yeah, parts of it suck, but, well, I'd rather do something else than think too hard. Do you hear me, overlords? I WELCOME YOUR TELLING ME WHAT TO THINK. Plus, the maps are excellent, I find.

Do you hate technorati nearly as much as I hate technorati?
I do.
As do all right-thinking folk.

Between your posts and your links to sites like the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks, you appear to be a fan of punctuation and correctly written words. Do you have a literary background?
"Literary" may be pushing it. I am a writer and editor, and I'm a former copy editor. I like my language and communication fairly precise.

Are emoticons in fact ruining America?
I think it is both lazy and useful to have something to indicate, in writing, that you're kidding. I have little use for emoticons with devil horns and sunglasses, but I use smileys probably too much. Actually, now that I think about it, it strikes me that smileys are OK, but probably winks are ridiculously lazy. How little game do you have if you need a symbol to say "I'm flirting with you"?

What do you miss most about moving to the city (besides the May Day dancing)?
Specific people. I was there eight years, I made friends, and I miss them, often. But really, that's about it. Also, this is where I totally reveal my blog for the sham that it is, but country folks know that there are lots and lots of degrees of country-ness, and I am in one of the easier types to move to: the college town. So there are still lectures and sports and arts, just in a town of many fewer people (about 23,000). So that eases the transition some.

Would you describe your neighbors as hicks, hillbillies, hayseeds, or bumpkins?
Mostly, I would describe them as "professors." I might also describe them as "uninterested in meeting me."

Did it turn out that those were mice making noise in your house, or were the Agatha Christie books actually preparing you to deal with a real, honest-to-god serial killer who happened to be lurking around your house?
Oh, the mice are real, which does not mean the serial killer isn't. The problem with Agatha Christie is that all she really prepares you for is solving the murder after it happens. If you're a victim, you're doomed, and nothing can prevent that. All I can hope for is that the serial killer waits until after The Wedding.

[As bzzzzgrrrl is still alive, and The Wedding concluded successfully, we can assume that the killer is either nonexistent, or very considerate.]

Pimp your blog in 25 words or less.
Mostly, I tell stories at my own expense. Also, I'm hilarious. And in general, things are spelled right.

No, I mean really pimp your blog. Pretend you have a gold tooth, and a diamond-headed cane, if it helps. Right now that description could apply just as easily to She Just Walks Around With It as it could to yours. Make me want to pay money to sleep with your blog.
OK, first of all, I would pay money to sleep with Kristy's blog, if it wouldn't create complications with my existing relationships, so if I've given the impression that my little fish-in-different-water story is anything like that, I'm good with it.

But I'll try again, anyway:
• Hot lettuce
• David Gregory
• Cheap drinks
• Pregnant movers
• Hippie Birkenstock Silver Jewelry Guy
• Squirrel-wrangling
• Candidate spouses
• Contra dancing
• Explosive dust evaluation
• and very many bulleted lists.