Gaga Wha?

My tongue is bleeding – from biting it…..

Just wanted to be sure you knew that when I referenced “La Vie en Rose” in my post yesterday, I was thinking of Edith Piaf. I hadn’t seen the Cooper-Gaga version of “A Star is Born,” where the song, and it’s title, in neon lights, are featured.

Watched it last night.

Let’s just say I’m very relieved that the Oscar Lady Gaga won was for best original song, and that it was the only Oscar the film was awarded. If it had been otherwise, I’m afraid we’d be spending a lot of time together over in the Snark Tank.

Whew. That was a close one.

Trying to observe the Thumper rule (but still snickering about its double negative) I remain,

Your biting-my-tongue-but-damn-I’d-really-love-to-dish-on-this-one,

Ridiculouswoman

Passion vs. Practicality; or, Is That A Burning Heart, or Just Heartburn?

My redecorating has taken on an aura of set design – creating spaces for an imaginary life.

(Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t watched all four seasons of “Mozart in the Jungle.”)

They play “with the blood.”

They drink, do drugs, and jump into bed with each other spontaneously, joyfully, seamlessly.

No fumbling around with condoms, no awkward conversations about past sexual and health history, no qualms, no jealousy, no regrets. Coitus with no consequences.

Artistic lives. Hollywood sex.

Passion unfettered with practical concerns.

Oh, except the first violinist/concert master with three daughters in college who tried to run an insurance scam by faking the theft of his priceless instrument.

By now, you will have figured out that I have been binge-watching “Mozart in the Jungle,” and getting a vicarious thrill out of the character’s lives in classical music. Who knew these longhairs (that’s what classical musicians were called when the cool kids were sporting crew cuts – before beatniks, before hippies, before I was born) were so lusty, so wanton, so drunk, so high?

They live with no boundaries, other than the demands of their art. Their hearts burn for music, for love. They play “with the blood.”

I finished season four last night.

Only then did I discover that the series has been cancelled.

Mozart disappeared. Rodrigo got fired and doesn’t know what’s next. Hai-lai (Hayley) seems to have taken over the symphony, based on Rodrigo’s faith in her, plus an unrealistically small amount of training and practice as a conductor and a second place finish in a major competition.

We’ll never know what happens next.

Bwaaaah! Curse you, Amazon! Why?

Back to the real world, where I impulsively signed up to go to the Midwest Writer’s Conference “agent fest” in early May (go for it, Annie! pursue your passion for writing! maybe you’ll meet someone! burn for love!) while worrying about spending the money on it (did I say money? I meant credit) and about how I’m going to manage care for my daughter for the one night I’ll be away.

What’s that pain in my chest?

The musicians in the show travel internationally on someone else’s dime and never seem to worry about who is taking care of the kids, if they have any.

Meanwhile back in heartburn land I watch my funds dwindle and frantically apply for jobs. Had two interviews, both went well, but I’m not hopeful. Even if I’m offered the weekend job I don’t think I can take it – two hour commute each way, on the weekends, when the trains and buses run slower and less frequently. The other is temp and part time, but it’s close to home and would bring in some funds, for a little while, anyway.

My redecorating has taken on an aura of set design – I seem to be creating spaces for an imaginary life.  I set up my “boudoir:” the little fantasy I created in my bedroom, which should have had that very expensive art-deco-y mauve chaise, but instead has an oddly oversized, mid-century style, eggplant-colored fake velvet chair, and a weird little round Moroccan leather footstool that’s just a bit too low and a bit too blue, purchased from a warehouse full of unsold, unwanted items crammed in long dark aisles under a crumbling, water-stained ceiling.  Together they cost a tenth of what the chaise alone would have cost.

Across from the chair is the TV with the Roku stick, connected to a network that has, oddly, gotten slower and weaker after the fraught installation of a new router, even with the signal booster.

There’s a chrome and glass bar cart, optimistically (who am I kidding, more like ludicrously) supplied with two champagne glasses, two cordial glasses, two cocktail glasses.  I sit alone in the cheap purple fake velvet chair, next to the cheap (but really cute) glass and chrome side table, watching stories on the cheap TV of people who live brave, passionate, unfettered lives, with hearts aflame, mysteriously available funds and few regrets.

Passion! Music! Bubbly! Wealthy patrons! La vie en rose!

In between job applications and query letters, I’ll keep writing, imagining that before I die I will add the words “author of….” after my name on Linkedin (in lieu of “non-profit/higher education administrator” and “certified forklift/electric pallet jack operator.”)

I’ll go to that “agent fest” I can’t really afford, pitch my book and dream of a deal, but happily settle for some good advice.

As the money dwindles, I’ll wear a name tag and clean toilets if I have to.

But I’m damned if I’ll drive a forklift again.

Pinballing between dreams and reality, with heart occasionally aflame but mostly just with heartburn, I remain,

Your occasionally optimistic, frequently floating in fantasy,  but mostly moored in the mundane,

Ridiculouswoman

How Not to Fix A Router; or, How Many Expletives Does It Take to Connect?

Maybe if I had just changed the name of my network in the first place….

Late Monday night, after choir practice, I was looking forward to settling in with my new binge-watching obsession, “Mozart in the Jungle” (how did I miss this one before? – blog post on it coming soon). I turned on the Roku and found it was disconnected from its network.

Thus began a three-day saga of unplugging, plugging back in, disconnecting, reconnecting, losing my network, finding my network, connecting to my network, getting no internet on my network, followed by phone calls to Linksys and Comcast (and good the support from both – yes, you read that right,I got good support from Comcast – pigs were flying and hell was freezing over, but yes, I got good service) that didn’t solve the problem.

Through trial and error (“maybe if I unplug this or shut that device off or switch to that network and then back to this one”) I got the high-throughput network that feeds my Roku stick back, so I could watch the ongoing story of Rodrigo and Hai-lai (Hayley never corrects him, I think that’s sweet) without calling support, but I couldn’t get my regular network back.

It’s times like these that make me long for a much larger repertoire of expletives.

The modem was fine. The router was working. I could connect to the internet on one of my networks, but not the other. WTF?

Something the Linksys guy said, that neighbor networks could be causing interference, caught my attention. There are a ridiculous number of networks in range around me. (Don’t people know that other people can see the names of their networks, whether or not they are secured? I have neighbors who don’t change the name of their networks from whatever their provider called it, and some who don’t even secure theirs. I have  other neighbors who named their networks something cutesy. Or weird. Or scary. Don’t look through the list of available networks when you connect at home. You will discover things about your neighbors you don’t want to know.)

Back to the old router: based on that idea of interference from nearby networks, I Googled around and found that 2.4ghz is the frequency most commonly used by everything from garage door openers to microwaves to all my neighbor’s networks, but I could change the channel I used to try to minimize interference.

Didn’t work.

Drat.

Expletives.

Surrender.

Go to Best Buy. Purchase new router.

Set it up.

Re-establish my networks with the same names and passwords I had before. That way, I thought, I wouldn’t have to tour the house redoing all the networks and passwords on all the devices (a ridiculous number of devices for only two people. “What an amazing modern age we live in.”) Brilliant!

Didn’t work. Devices could connect to one network, but not the other.

We’re a good 12 hours into all this now.

Oh fuck it. Rename the networks, deploy new passwords.

Success!

Which is when I realized maybe I could have saved more than $100 by just changing the name of my network in the first place.

Expletives.

Oops, forgot the signal booster. Need to reconfigure that.

Can’t I find its signal.

Reset.

Wrong button.

Oh, there it is.

Reset.

Move closer to new router.

SSID appears!

Configure signal booster.

Success! I am genius, dahlink! (in fake Russian accent, a la Natasha. You know, Boris and Natasha? Rocky and Bullwinkle? If you don’t know, you led a deprived (and much more recent) childhood.

Smugly settle in to check email.

Oh, I should print that document I’ve been sent.

Oops, forgot wireless printer.

Configure. Printer says “connected” but laptop can’t find printer.

Call Brother support.

Refrain from swearing when they told me to redo everything I had already done.

But, discover I connected the printer to the range extender, not the underlying network.

Redo.

New error message:  “Print unable.”

Run through troubleshooting protocol three more times.

New error message: “Clean unable.”

Call by-the-book Brother support people again.

Repeat everything I had already done, three more times.

Swallow expletives and go with it.

“Clean unable.”

“Requires maintenance.”

Oh, fuck it. That will cost as much as a new printer.

So, this network genius gets to go spend MORE money (did I say money? I meant credit) at Best Buy on a new wireless printer.

And bonus, while angelic daughter (who endured, with spectacular equanimity, my full day and a half of expletive riddled fury, running up and downstairs to modem and router and back to devices  “not mad at you, sweets, just venting frustration, I’ll be done soon!”) is out at her dance-exercise class, I get to spend my free evening configuring a new wireless printer.

Something tells me my vocabulary is about to expand.

Marveling at technology and while simultaneously cursing it, I remain,

Your digitized, encrypted, dual-networked, wireless and nearly broke,

Ridiculouswoman

We Interrupt This Program To Redecorate

Pardon our dust….

Pardon our dust – just trying out a new look – partly because I’m too sore from returning to fitness class after a two-month recovery from a weird-boot-pulling-on-injury and and wisdom-tooth extraction to paint the front room but I wanted to change something.

You know how that is.

I think I’m done but I may change my mind and keep messing around with the look of the blog for a few days.

Thanks for your patience while we create a fabulous new blogging environment etc. blah blah blah hahahahha.

Back soon with an actual post about something actual (as opposed to virtual.)

Until then I remain,

Your that-looks-pretty-good-but-hey-what’s-this-button-do?

Ridiculouswoman

 

 

God Help Me, I’m Making Grandma Noises

Not ready to fade…but I’ll take the senior discounts!

Grammie had a distinctive way of clearing her throat.

“Eh-ehehehehehehhh-eh-eh-eh-eh.”

As if she was trying to clear phlegm discreetly.

But there wasn’t really any way to be discreet about it.

That sound drove me nuts, and she did it a lot.

I was sure I would never, ever make that sound.

You know where this is going.

I caught myself doing it the other day, while looking in the mirror at my Mother’s face looking back at me.

I had been so determined not to turn into my Mother, or my Grammie.

And I have been unkind to them both in my writing and my mind, remembering only the annoying stuff (Grandma) and the painful stuff (Mom, a lot of it.)

Yeah, so, Karma’s a bitch, right?

Since Christmas, my daughter and I have been sitting together in the evening for our “music time,” listening to something soothing, and chatting, or just sitting together, until she decides she wants “quiet time,” and turns off the stereo, so we can just sit in companionable silence together.

That’s when I notice I have begun to resemble a slightly more colorful Whistler’s Mother – rocking in my 5-generation rocking chair, the one that started with Great-great Grandma, then Great Grandma, and then came to Grammie, then Mom, then me.

Wearing a flannel nightie, a shaker cardigan,  (not getting paid for those links, just wanted to give you an image of what I’m talking about) a wide plaid shawl on top of the sweater, around my shoulders, and a hat.

God, help me – I don’t want to be a docile, rocking-chair, throat-clearing granny, or a  crotchety Mom, fussing over my daughter’s hair or clothing choices. Not yet, anyway.

I have no intention of going gently into “seniorland.” (Oh, but I’ll take the discounts, thank you very much!) I will reveal my age only so others may marvel at it – “impossible! You don’t look a day over (insert highly unlikely much younger comparison here.)”

This year is a big one for me – when a certain date rolls around, my life as any kind of woman (as opposed to bent, chin-hairy crone) hits the “sell by” date.  I am scheduled to dry up, turn grey, and stop expecting much, especially not love, from life. I am expected to fade uncomplainingly into invisibility, and generally get out of the way.

Hell with that.

You may find me improperly dressed for a woman of my age, singing too loudly at inopportune moments, using foul language when inspired to do so, and generally making a spectacle of myself.

Because if you ask me, as Margo was asked, “is it over, or is it just beginning?” I’d reply:

Enjoy the ride, bumps and all!

(Now if I can just clear my throat….)

Going shopping for a dress like that, I remain,

Your non-smoking, sans diamonds but rockin’ the Bette-Davis attitude,

Ridiculouswoman

Caffeine and Cabin Fever

Clearly, too much coffee causes excessive italicizing.

That’s it. I’m cutting myself off.

Two cups of coffee and I’m a jangly bag of nerves.

Turns out OCD, caffeine and cabin fever don’t mix. Who knew?

We’ll be stuck in the house for at least another 24 hours.

Hours that will be spent listening to and worrying about the loudest popping and creaking sounds this house has made in the almost 20 years we’ve lived here.

Is that a joist cracking? Seventy-year-old nails popping? Window frames warping? Subfloors bending? Hot-water heat pipes pinging, over-expanding under the strain of the boiler (the thank-God-it’s-a-brand-new-boiler, but still) running non-stop?

I am probably the only person caught in the polar vortex who could find so many things to worry about when I am safe and warm inside a house with heat, running water, internet access and hot soup.

If I were Charlie Brown, I’d be the Charlie Browniest.

Climate change is killing coffee, did you know that? So in another few years I might not be able to do this to myself even if I wanted to.

There’s always chocolate. Until there isn’t. Because climate change is screwing with cocoa beans, too, apparently.

Coffee I can do without, but chocolate? Are you kidding?

OK, I’m on a roll here! Let’s find more stuff to worry about!

That steam blowing by outside the window by my desk, from the stove hood fan vent? Is that adding to the icicles dangling from the new gutters? How much can the gutters take, before they give?

There is ice on the inside of the new-ish windows.

There has always been condensation on the windows, old and new, but the only time I have ever seen ice on the inside of the house (windows and wash basin, to be exact) was in my third floor “digs” in a drafty, uninsulated (I’m assuming the UK has advanced considerably since 1980 in the area of home insulation) Victorian town home in Oxford. I’m from Chicago, and up to and including today, I have never been colder indoors in my life than when I lived in England. Perfect storm of dampness, lack of insulation and a laughable appliance called an “electric fire,” which was about a quarter-inch thick piece of “al-you-min-ee-um”,  about 17 by 24 inches with a too-wide loop of electric coil inside, that stood in front of an old coal-burning fireplace that had been half-heartedly stuffed up with newspaper, which didn’t stop its iron flap front from going “tink, tink, tink” all night when it was windy, and which heated a space approximately two inches around its surface, and no further. I slept with a shirt, flannel nightgown, scarf, hat and socks on, under a “duvet” filled with inadequate synthetic something or other and covered in damp cotton. GAAAA!

It was kind of charming when I could see my breath while (“whilst”) studying in the RadCam, but in my bedroom at night? Not so much.

My Mom, a former nurse, used to open the window in my bedroom in the winter, even in subzero temperatures. She was raised by Mainers (“Maine-uhs” a/k/a “ha-dee New England-uhs”) who allegedly put infants outside in the winter, wrapped in blankets in their baby buggies, for their naps, on the theory that “fresh ay-yuh is good for you, dee-yuh.” Sure, as long as you don’t get pneumonia or get eaten by a bear (hey but let’s hear it for the bear who kept that three-year-old kid company until he was rescued, uneaten and apparently pneumonia free).

The floors in my room were wood, not entirely covered by braided rugs. Awesome on bare feet on a winter morning with the window open. Builds character! That’s how we did it back in the day! “We’re getting soft, right?

But I digress. We’re worrying about here and now, OK?

Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t use my functioning, recently chimney swept wood burning fireplace today, because opening the flue would allow a blast of arctic vortex to roar down the chimney and freeze us in our tracks.

Did you know in the 18th century there was a sea captain found frozen in his cabin at his desk, pen in hand? So it’s not like it couldn’t happen. Even though the story of the Octavius is now regarded as a myth. But still.

Through the kitchen window I can see two sets of animal tracks heading straight under the back deck.

I don’t begrudge the woodland creatures some shelter (temporary shelter) but please, let those tracks be from a rabbit, not a skunk (does the cold obliterate the smell?) or a raccoon or a possum. Or a coyote or a musky fox.

How long does it take to come down from two cups of coffee? Coffee which clearly causes excessive italicizing?

At least there are no chickens in the back yard anymore to tend to, in this weather. Or more accurately, if there were, frozen chickens to dispose of. So there’s that, anyway.

Still rattled. I’m going to have to go clean something. Vigorously.

Stay warm, and stay off the caffeine. Unless it comes encased in chocolate. For as long as that lasts.

Wishing you a warm, calm, creaking-popping-pinging and indoor-ice free day and night, I remain,

Your over-caffeinated, under-productive, anxious, italicizing,

Ridiculouswoman

The Belated Obligatory New Year’s Post

Panic as a prompt…

We call them “revolutions,” not “resolutions.”

This year I’m thinking of doing two things that make me very anxious: first, opening up my Facebook page to “friends of friends” instead of just “friends.”

That might not sound like a big deal to you, but my brother is one of my “friends,” and he is one of those people who never ignores a friend request – he has over 1,300 friends on Facebook.

That’s a lot of aging hippies who love to argue about politics to contend with.

(Oh, alright already, “with which to contend.” Happy now, internal grammar bitch?)

Oy.

But my brother has 1300 friends because he courageously pursued his creative life from the tender age of 17, leaving college in the face of extreme maternal angst (but with paternal support, if not approval. And it was emotional support, not financial, as far as I know) and made quite a success of it. I’ve always admired him for that. Not sure I ever told him. I’ll do that today.

Which brings me to the other thing that scares me: posting the url for my blog on LinkedIn, and going all in on being the speaker, writer, blogger and singer (oh, and “aspiring professional party guest)” I want to be.

Oh, that’ll go over well among all those articles about how to improve teamwork and productivity and deliver deliverables, whatever the hell those are.

I’m supposed to be looking for a job. LinkedIn is one of the places I look. For a job job. You know, a day job. A real job. Something that might pay the health insurance and have a little left over for cat food.

But instead I’ve spent the last week designing products for an online store I intend to open to support my blogging habit, and emailing queries to literary agents who represent authors who are so, way, light years out of my league that I have a daily panic attack that goes something like this:

“Well, Annie, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Trading fear for flow, remember? Yeah, but look who she represents! I loved that book! I could never be that good! My God they turned that one into a movie! Who am I to be writing a memoir anyway? I didn’t grow up in a family of zealous religious survivalists (Educated) or dirt poor (The Glass Castle). The only group I might represent (see the interview with Stephanie Land, of Maid, who got an agent because she wrote an article that went viral – why didn’t you think of that, Annie, you dumbass? not that I could write anything that would go viral) is other widows in the US and there are about 11.75 million of them and 3.23 million widowers (oh, there’s some great odds for a date with a man who understands) and they’re all different from each other so no one person could be “representative” of them all and they’ll probably hate my story anyway because they are being good widow/widowers who don’t tell the world about the dark aspects of their marriages like I do in my book even though it is funny but also really sad and who wants to read that anyway? If I send it out there will be rooms full of snarky New York literary agents at conference tables laughing at me!”

Back here in reality, the second response I got, within two weeks of sending the query, was a request for the full manuscript. Rejected very politely after the read, but I got that far, anyway.  I’ve received two other polite rejections, one that even took the time to say “sorry for your loss,” and one that was probably canned (auto-reject), but it was a response, not a pocket veto.

Responses from four out of nine agents I’ve queried so far, in less than a month, and the other five are pending, still within the 6-8 week window.

So while I wait, I’m here blathering on about how I’m going to boldly pursue the creative life, when I should be putting all my effort into getting a job. Or at least getting something published.  Even if I do that, I’ll still need to get a job.

At my age, any job I’m able to land will likely involve a name tag, enforced cheerfulness and toilet cleaning. And still won’t pay the bills.

In the meantime I’m trying to work up the courage to do those things on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Facebook, maybe. I can handle aging hippies.

But LinkedIn? That’s my professional public face.

I’ll get another whole post out of that panic attack.

Losing my nerve, I remain,

Your shaky, anxious, fretful, stymied, what-the-hell-am-I-thinking?

Ridiculouswoman