And the winners are…

Because I know everyone is dying to hear how my shopping expedition went, I thought I’d share the stores where I had luck findings some things.

First off, I went to the Green Hills Mall to check out JCrew, Macy’s, Express and Banana Republic. They all let me down horribly. Express is my go-to place for work clothes, but the Express at this mall is so awful I left after one lap around the store. It’s crowded and loud, with racks in random places making it impossible to reach certain shelf areas. I’ll stick to the location in Murfreesboro, thanks. It’s bigger, anyway.

I went to JCrew and Banana Republic specifically looking for sale pieces or khaki and utility pants, and honestly I was surprised they didn’t have anything worth looking at. All of their khakis and utility pants were the skinny style, which I get is in right now but WTF am I going to do with tapered-leg cargo pants? That’s just stupid.

So I left that mall and headed down to The Avenue in Murfreesboro where I had much, much better luck. I found several cute things at Ann Taylor Loft, which seems to be a place that I can only shop at every other year. Last year they were full of pastels and old lady clothes, this year it’s earth tones and better-fitting items. I also found a few tops at New York & Co., which I’ve never really been able to shop at before. I used to think their materials looked cheap, but they seem to have improved. I got a few things on sale there that I think will be good for either work or a weekend. Oh! And I found a button-up shirt at American Eagle, which I used to love in college but always assume I’m too old for now since they tend to specialize in daisy dukes and shirts that look like bras.

I still hadn’t found the pants that I was looking for, though, so Monday night after work I headed over to Old Navy. Now, I’ll admit that I’ve never been able to wear their pants unless they were lounge pants, but my sister sent me a 30 percent off coupon so I decided to try my luck. Their pants still don’t fit me for shit, but I ended up buying four tops and two pairs of lounge pants for a really decent price.

Now I just need to find some damn non-denim, non-skinny-leg pants and I’ll be set through the spring and the summer. I guess I’m going to have to head to REI or order online to get the kind of pant I’m looking for, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Except for the whole returning crap that doesn’t fit right thing with online shopping. These are the style of pants I’m looking for, if you’re curious.

Oh, and I still plan to stop by Forever 21 and The Gap at some point since I can usually count on them for inexpensive tops and accessories.

God, how girly was this post?!

It’s coming

We’ve had a week of nice weather here. Last week it took me five hours to get home because of snow and ice; this week it’s been in the upper-50s, mid-60s. Welcome to Tennessee, I guess.

But like any Tennessean knows in the back of his or her mind, nice weather in February means tornadoes are just around the corner. It’s inevitable; you just have to wait to find out if your house was picked in the lottery of “shit that will get effed up by wind” that happens every spring here. And as part of my usual spring ritual I’m hoping that being afraid of the tornadoes will be enough to keep them away from my house. I don’t even really like discussing them.

I’ve said too much already.

Getting myself together

I hate shopping for clothes. Hate, hate, hate it. I suppose if I had an endless supply of money and any kind of fashion sense it wouldn’t be so bad, but even then I’d probably still dread the mall. I don’t care which mall you go to in the entire country, it will feature the worst of humanity.

Over the past couple of years, a lot of my once-nice work clothes have faded, worn out or somehow—and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies for breakfast today—don’t fit anymore. I woke up this morning and realized that despite doing laundry this weekend, I literally have nothing to wear to work except t-shirts and a few other raggedy tops.

And while at my best I know I’m no trend-setter, I also know I can do better. I promise I don’t enjoy looking like a slob. It just comes naturally, and I don’t have the energy to shop for new clothes that aren’t Threadless t-shirts more than a couple times a year. But I decided that this weekend I’m going to have to suck it up and venture out into the world of jeggings and vests to try to find a few pieces that don’t make me look like a mentally challenged platypus on stilts while simultaneously making sure I retain the ability to pay my bills.

Some friends have given me tips on places that I’ll be most likely to find what I’m looking for, and thank god my sister Emily always has her cellphone on her because like every other time I’m in a clothing store I’ll be frantically texting her pictures of me making weird faces in random outfits to determine if I’m on the right track or need to just give up and head for the nearest bar.

This is going to be interesting.

Almost

This morning before I left for work I made the first of my spring smoothies. I don’t know why, but I only like smoothies in the spring and summer. I put frozen blueberries, yogurt and a banana in the blender, and then cussed because our blender sucks and I had to add some milk to get it to blend.

I can feel spring coming. Usually I am afraid this time of year, because in Tennessee spring means tornadoes. Mother Nature is a bitch around these parts, bringing death and destruction in the same suitcase with which she carries the new life of spring. But just like this past winter, I am not dreading the spring this time, either. I’m sure once the first tornado warning sends me, Ian and the cats into our downstairs half-bath I’ll change my mind, but for now I’m looking forward to growth and warmth.

Happy birthday, BK!

Kitteh blow-out

This is BK. She is a purebred Maine Coon, and yesterday she turned seven years old.

A little less than seven years ago, Ian and I drove to a town outside of Greenville, S.C., to meet her. Her breeder said that she was a “social butterfly,” and was the smartest and most adventuresome kitten in her litter. We immediately fell in love with her, as kitty kissshe did with us. We returned a month later to pick her up and take her home.

The first night we had her, I set her up with some toys and food in the bathroom of my tiny one-bedroom apartment so she wouldn’t get into anything during the night. But when Ian and I went to bed she started to cry, so he suggested that we bring her into the room with us. I went and got her, put her in the bed with us, and she started purring. When we woke up the next morning, she was still purring. She’s slept in the bed with us almost every night since then, although now she generally prefers to take over Ian’s pillow.

She missed himShe is the sweetest, sassiest, smartest, prettiest, most demanding cat I have ever known. She knows how to turn on my closet light, how the faucets work, and can distinguish Ian’s or my car before we pull up to the house. She knows when one of us is feeling down or sick and comforts us. She is rarely in a different room than us, and she loves laying on Ian more than anything. She taught Gordo how to drink water from the sink, King Boo how to meow and Evil Twin how to play. They all want to be like her.

Those of you reading this who don’t have pets probably think I’m crazy. I mean, I am. I’m totally a crazy cat lady. But our cats are our kids, whether or not anyone thinks that’s OK.

So happy birthday, BK! Hope you enjoyed your birthday tuna.

A five-hour tour. IN HELL!!!!

Yesterday morning, all I heard was that “the big one” was coming. People were yammering on and on about how it was going to start snowing at noon and it was going to be crazy. But noon came and went, and no snow. Sweet, I thought, maybe it’s passed us by and I can stay here and get more work done.

But then Ian called me a little after 3 p.m. and started singing “Let It Snow,” which I took as my cue to look outside. It had started snowing big fat white flakes. Fast flakes. We debated whether we should stay or go home, and he told me to make the call. Nobody was leaving at work, and only a couple people on my Twitter stream were talking about heading out, so I thought we could just stay put.

And then 10 minutes later, I looked out the window. And almost had a heart attack. Everything was covered in white. The cars, the ground, the trees, the grass. Everything. In 10 minutes. A few coworkers and I gathered around a table in the office discussing commuting, and the decision quickly was made that people should leave. I grabbed my things (including crackers, just in case I got stranded) and headed for my car at 3:45 p.m., but apparently so did a lot of other people in my 11-story office building. I didn’t get out of the garage until after 4 p.m.

I got to the on-ramp of I-440West, which is maybe a block from my building, an hour later. Yes, it took me an hour to go one block on West End.

My first mistake was taking the safe route to 440. There is a very difficult-but-shortcut left you can make across Murphy Road to get to West End, but people were not moving and I can barely make that turn with regular traffic. So, I went around the side of our building out to the light. In hindsight I probably should have gone another back way through a neighborhood near our building, but whatever. Too late now.

Once on 440, I had a little less than a half tank of gas, which I was trying to conserve by not running the defrost too much, but my front and back windshields were constantly filling with snow that was quickly turning to ice. People were abandoning cars on the side of the interstate, there were several wrecks, and I started to worry that I wouldn’t make it up the somewhat steep hill before the I-65 interchange. I stayed in the right lane, which proved to be the right choice as several people in the lane next to me spun out repeatedly. I saw two plows, only one of which was putting out salt behind it.

I had to make it seven miles to the Murfreesboro Road exit to pick up Ian. That took me another hour and a half. Yes, people: It took me two and a half hours to go nearly seven miles. When I finally got to the Murfreesboro Road exit, I discovered that it was not plowed. It was after dark by then, and everything was beginning to freeze. I freestyled it down the exit and was greeted by several cops working a wreck on the ramp back onto 24/440. I saw someone slide down the very steep hill at Fessler’s Lane, and the guy driving next to me kept trying to slide into me. Partly because he was a moron and wouldn’t just drive in the tire tracks.

When I got to Ian’s office, I was greeted by him and a circle of state troopers (he works in the Office of Research and Statistical Analysis for the Department of Safety). After relaying the hell I had just driven through, the troopers began debating how they were going to make it home. Ian and I hung around for a few minutes and talked with the troopers, and then headed back out and up the hill to the lot where I had to park my car. (But before we left, I grabbed some more crackers from his desk. At this point I was starting to believe that we really might not make it home. I mean, if it took two and a half hours to go a little more than six miles, how long would it take to go 34 more?)

The car was down to about a quarter tank of gas by then, too, and we knew we needed to stop to fill up. The only problem? Ian’s office is basically at the bottom of a valley. Hills all around leading back to the interstate, and all of the gas stations were at the bottoms of hills. But we needed gas, so we stopped, I got more food rations (Coke, Gatorade, a PayDay and candy cigarettes because I know how to prepare for disaster), and we pulled out the side entrance of the gas station so we could build momentum to get up the hill.

Aaaand cue the jackholes that don’t know how to drive. Four people inching up a hill. GAH. We watched them get stuck, back up, and try to inch back up it again. We circled the gas station three times trying to wait for those morons to either give up or grow a brain, but neither happened and we had to abandon that plan. We then tried to drive down Glenrose and make a left on Nolensville, but that wasn’t happening. That road wasn’t moving at all. So we headed back toward the Department of Safety to try our hand at the hill again, and on our way we saw a broken-down semi, a couple of abandoned cars, and a fucking snow plow NOT DOING ANYTHING.

We got back to the hill and got a good running start, and despite being behind another slow-going asswipe, we made it. Of course, once we finally got to I-24 it was like driving on a frozen tundra. A crunchy, unplowed, unsalted tundra where you just grip the steering wheel and hope nobody rams into you. For the most part, traffic moved between zero and 15 miles per hour with the occasional sprint up to 30 until we got almost to Smyrna. By then the interstate was still horrible, and some geniuses flew by going 80mph despite the cars in ditches on either side of the road, but Ian stayed in the carved-out path made by the cars before us and we were able to get up to about 40 mph.

We made it home at 9 p.m. Five hours after I left work at 4 p.m.

I had never been so happy to see my cats, my couch, my Slanket and a bottle of wine before in my life.

Women’s lib my ass

Last year after all of the misogynistic GoDaddy commercials during the Super Bowl, I transferred all of my domains from them over to BlueHost, where I host this blog. I have about 10 domains, which I realize is not even enough for GoDaddy to notice. But it made me feel better to not support a company that obviously doesn’t mind alienating its female customer base. This year, GoDaddy’s overplayed and tired “look at Danica Patrick’s b00bz and hey! maybe she’ll make out with this other chick” commercials confirmed that I made the right move by severing all ties with the company last year.

But one thing keeps sticking in my craw: So Danica Patrick is a woman succeeding in a field that is obviously dominated by males, right? She’s doing this awesome thing—playing the boys’ game and winning, right?

And how does she celebrate her badassery? By signing on with GoDaddy to make commercials that ensure she’s only seen as a pair of tits. Instead of being seen as a woman kicking the boys’ asses and taking their names, she’s allowing herself to be devalued and objectified. If this really is the only avenue she thought she could take to build her brand, I’m sad for her. And for our society as a whole.

I don’t watch Nascar or the Indy races, but if I ever hear her talk about how it’s hard for a woman to be taken seriously in a man’s field I will laugh so, so hard. And then cry. Like a girl, right?

But what kind of sign?

I just read this post over at Aunt B.’s, and while I don’t necessarily know if I can articulate the difference between the three words any more eloquently as she does, something struck me. She mentions that to her, seeing three crows could mean car trouble, something bad.

I’ve been seeing three crows for a little more than six months now, in various locations and at various times. At first I was a bit unsettled by them, but I am starting to think that now when I see them I am comforted by them in a sense. Every time I see them I will call them out (“Look, three crows again!”), but it’s more a proclamation of an expectation realized than a surprise. I like seeing them, and if I don’t see them for a while I feel relieved when they finally do show back up.

So now Aunt B.’s post has got me thinking: If we agree that something (in this case, three crows) is a sign, can that same sign have different applications for different people?

Moving on



Last Thursday, I helped move our office from the 7th floor down to a new space on the 1st floor. Our company had occupied the previous space for 15 years, I believe, so there was a lot to organize, sort through, pack and then move. Luckily we had movers to take care of the really heavy stuff, but as with any move, there was still a ton left to be done. I was mainly in charge of moving computers, monitors, phones and peripherals, and then setting up everyone’s phones and computers. Well, and any other random things that needed setting up, moving, or throwing away.

But as for the picture above: For the last five years, this is the view I saw when I looked out the window in the kitchen. At some point during my first week here, I looked out the window while I was microwaving my lunch and noticed what I thought was a paint can left on the roof of the apartment building below. Soon I came to realize that it was a can of tar.

And almost every day since, over the past five years, I have looked out that kitchen window down onto the top of this apartment building. Onto that can of tar. Or whatever it is. And it’s probably really silly and weird, but it’s been a constant in my work life, something I can count on being there every day. And now I’m not going to see it anymore.

I guess that sounds melodramatic. I’m not really upset; just nostalgic a bit, I guess. I’ve been at this job a long time, and although it’s changed a lot since the first day I started, it’s helped define a big part of who I am. In a good way.

So goodbye, tar can. Goodbye views of 440E that allowed me to see just how shitty my commute home was going to be. Goodbye 7th story view of the sky that scared the shit out of me when storms were coming, or that inspired me on clear days when I could see for miles out over treetops.

And hello new beginning.