Miz Shoes

Day Off

Working for the county has its advantages, now and then. Today I had off in honor of the generic presidential birthday celebration known as "President's Day." I took a nap.

Not just a nap, but the hallowed, mid-afternoon, workday couch nap.

There are just no words.

I also worked on a new quilt top and took the old cat to the vet to make sure he's just old and not old and sick. Old and sick seems to be a theme in my life, at least as far as the humans in it goes, so I was worried about the cat. He's 15 and a half. In cat years, that's um, 108.

The vet's prognosis: just old and he doesn't like his food.

There's only 24-ish hours left to vote in Blog Madness, Round Four. What are you waiting for? Follow the link, and vote for your favorite. That would be me, right? Right? RIGHT?!

Thank you. I promise to go back to my regular bitching and moaning tomorrow. But now, I'm going to bake chocolate chip cookies. With pecans. For the guy at the pharmacy who doesn't suck. He can rub it in and show them to the Insufferable Mr. Pimple, but no sharing.

And if you vote for me, maybe, just maybe, I'll bake some for you too.
Miz Shoes

Slow to Start

I don't know why I'm having such a hard time writing. Yes, I'm still annoyed by damn near everything. Yes, I am still surrounded by stupidity, incompetence and swine-like behavior. So why can't I rant? Have I lost the will to rant?

What a thought. Who would I be, if everything slid off me like water off a duck...

I entered a blog writing contest, the BlogMadness thingy, and, as my entry, submitted, not a rant, but my piece about death and the loss of friends.

And even as I did, the word came around about another college friend who has shuffled off this mortal coil. Bill Kelley, one of the biggest film junkies ever, and in a sorrowful coincidence, the best friend of the late and always lamented Leapin' Larry.

Which reminds me of a joke card about the good die young, and yet you, weenie boy, are still with us, celebrating another birthday. It was too cruel to send, and there was no way I could send it anonymously to the ex-husband, the Anti-Christ.

My good husband, the Renowned Local Artist, entered his first street show in years, and has decided to price to sell. If you are in Miami on February 21 and 22, stop by his booth at the South Miami Arts & Crafts Festival to pick up your own original work of art.

Finally, in this wandering entry, I leave you with a link to the Bush in 30 Seconds web site where you'll see some good ads. Too bad they'll never see the light of media play.
Miz Shoes

Foul Moods R Us

Today is one of those days when I would love to pick a fist fight with the first idiot to cross my path. Fortunately, there is a plethora of idiots available from which to choose. Even more fortunately, my meds are adjusted so that instead of taking a swing (or a swig, as the case may be) I'm only cursing like a longshoreman (and only in my head) and sticking very close to the computer.

But my mood is soooo black, so foul, so teeth-grindingly angry that I can't stand to be in my own company. Free-floating anxiety and anger.

And why? Who knows. My primary car is in the shop waiting for its brainbox to be replaced. The emergency back up car is idling hot and its radio (which was one of its finer points) decided yesterday morning to just up and die. I was listening to Public Radio and the story was about how America's foreign policy has placed us in the top five "most likely to be hit by terrorism" countries on the planet. I snapped the radio off with a pithy remark about the current occupant of the White House and how he helped us make that list. When I tried to pop a tape in the deck as an alternative listen, there was nothing but silence. The sound system had died.

So what? Really, these are all minor, petty annoyances, not life-altering problems. It is just that my tolerance is at an all-time low.


On go the headphones, and I am going to retreat to the black lagoon of my mind.
Miz Shoes

My Brain Hurts

Longtime readers may remember my posts from December, when I was in a crash course for ColdFusion. When the instructor asked what our expectations were, I said I expected to be reduced to tears at least three times.

That was then, this is now. The time has finally come for me to convert the hospital's web site from GoLive to Dreamweaver. I can't get the test server to run right. I can't get the text to line up right. I can't add line padding where I want it. I can't remember dick about what I learned in that class last December, except that I can calculate my age in dog years, and my instructor spoke with a very interesting Pakistani accent.

I'm fighting with the code. I'm fighting with the cascading style sheets. I'm fighting ennui. I'm staring out the window and wondering how I ended up designing web sites when all I ever wanted to do with my life was be an artist.

I have foot-high stack of books and I'm trying to figure out how to do everything I knew how to do in GoLive. This is why I'm such a huge fan of Adobe products. The interface is easy and intuitive. Things work. Drop and drag is active across the board. There are no unexpected results like an "onmouseover" command when you want it to be an "onmouseclick" command. Adobe makes sense to me, because whoever writes their programming code does so using the same logic I would use if I were writing it.

Macromedia seems to be written in another language and then translated to English and then to code. I just don't get it. But I will. I have to.

Did I mention that a friend gave me a hip flask? It's really more of a garter flask from the Roaring Twenties. I may have to start wearing garters to work.
Miz Shoes

Can I have Some Cheese With my Whine?

Short answer: no. Unless it's low-fat cheese, because I'm on a mission to lower my cholesterol. This is karma for telling my father-in-law (OBM) not to worry, but to just eat the damn onion ring, because, trust me, something OTHER than his cholesterol was going to kill him first. For the record, I was right, and also for the record, he started enjoying his food again after I told him that. And he did eat the onion rings. But for the first however many years I knew him, his mantra was "Cholesterol, cholesterol, cholesterol." He worried about that like politicians worry about approval ratings. If I used a tablespoon of butter in a recipe that made 12 servings, he got on my case that I was trying to kill him. So I'd break it down: one tablespoon is three teaspoons and that means each serving has only a quarter of a teaspoon of butter in it. Give it a rest. He wouldn't. But there were things he couldn't identify in my cooking, and I never told him that the reason he loved my matzoh balls was because I used freshly rendered goose fat in them. Bwa-ha-ha.

Right. Now, despite the fact that I only make goose-fat laden matzoh balls once a year, and then only eat one, I have been told I have high cholesterol. Since wagging fingers at my gene pool won't do me any good, my doctor has determined that I need to change my diet and exercise more. The biggest change in the old diet is that I have to eat constantly, or so it seems to me.

My idea of a big breakfast is three cups of coffee. I now start each day with a bowl of McCann's oatmeal and a cup of fresh fruit. Then there's a midmorning snack, a protein-rich lunch, a midafternoon snack, dinner and a little something to tide me over until the next day. This is to keep my metabolism busy. It's keeping me crazy. I don't snack. I don't eat lunch. Except, well, now I do. And you know what? It's working. At least, I'm losing weight. I hope that my cholesterol levels are dropping as well as my jean size, but I won't know for another two months.

Wish me luck.
Miz Shoes

Not Dark Yet

My mentor, Eugene Massin, has died. I am, of course, consumed by guilt for not having visited him at his studio for a couple of years. I am, of course, consumed by guilt for not having called him lately, either. This was the man who taught me, well, frankly, he taught me everything that was ever of use to me after I got out of art school.* He taught me the difference between looking and seeing, and I don't believe that there is a more essential skill. He taught me how to draw. Really draw. How to make a line that was lush and delicate at the same time. How to lay a pencil mark on paper that spoke volumes about light and shadow and texture and skin. How to draw.

He taught my husband how to teach art, although neither of them knew it at the time. He taught us all to respect our work, to see the majesty in our calling. The first time I told him to keep his marks off my drawing, he tousled my hair and told me I was going to be an artist, after all. He taught us to question everything, to absorb it and to process it and to put it back out with the marks of our own hands, our own souls.

He was a giant. He truly loved to teach and to be surrounded by his students. They kept him vital. And he gave us something that cannot be put in words.

Physically, he was huge, or seemed to be. If Michelangelo was around the Grove in the 70s and had needed a model for Moses, he would have chosen Gene. He was patriarchal in the biblical sense of the word. His presence was such that it filled any space he happened to occupy.

And now, there is a vacuum. We, his students, must strive to fill that void with our own works, in Gene's memory and honor.

Another memorial service. Crap.

* OK, I learned one other thing of value in college, and this from my film professor: The action goes where the interest lies. Yeah. That'll straighten everything in life out, if you just think about it and follow it.
Miz Shoes

Aerobics Still Suck

My sistagirl dragged my sorry ass to an aerobics class Saturday morning. Early morning. 8:30 in the morning, to be exact. She got me by telling me about the music: "It's all, like, BeeGees, and disco and totally '80s. Just twist a bandana around your forehead and find some spandex and it'll be great." And I was all, like, yeah! That WILL be fun.

What drugs were flowing through my bloodstream? I hated aerobics classes in the 80s when I could still do them, before my knees just crumbled into bone meal inside some post-sell-date cartilage. I hated disco. I still hate disco. I spent the late 70s and early 80s pogoing at punk bars, and to this day have never once, not even for a minute done the Hustle.

And I went to an 80s revival aerobics class. Somewhere in the middle, as I was blowing like a aged cart horse trying to run the Preakness, and folding up with my head between my knees so I didn't pass out, I started cursing my friend. The disgustingly skinny, cute and preternaturally perky instructress kept bouncing past me and saying things like "Keepin' it movin', good work there in the back."

If I'd have been able, I would have cursed her, too. As it was I could barely lift my hands to shoulder lever to flip her the bird when her back was turned.

I'm going back tomorrow. But that class will be yoga. I am a master at the corpse pose.
Miz Shoes

Only the Good Die Young

I seem to remember that this was a snotty English poet's way of dissing the religious of his era, implying that the virtuous suffered from a particular type of sexual dysfunction. Popular usage, however, refers to an early or untimely death. Right-o.

I am so angry and so saddened by the news I received last night, that my friend Joy was found dead of no apparent cause. She who had finally begun to live as her name implied. And then that got me thinking about all my other friends who are no longer with us. I'm not yet 50 years old and I have more dead friends than living ones. There aren't enough fingers and toes to count them all. Anger and sadness.
Scotty, Richard, Rick, John, Nick, Ken, Shel: AIDS. Sharon, Gary, Carol, Jeannie: Cancer. Sherri: survived cancer, died of a brain embolism. Leapin': helicopter crash in Bahrain. Chip, Joy, Bob: causes unknown. Jay: suicide. Bill: pneumonia.

Anger, pain, and sadness. Fuck it. Fuck it all.

"I got your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke,
when you asked how I was doing, was that some kind of joke.
Yes, these people that you mention, I know them they're quite lame.
I had to rearrange their faces, and give them all another name.
Right now I don't read too good, don't send me no more letters, no,
not unless you mail them from Desolation Row."
Miz Shoes

I Loathe Computers

I really, truly do. I hate what they have done to my profession. I hate what they have done to human discourse. Most of all, I hate that they have become so insidiously necessary to all aspects of human endevour, and when they fail, they take with it all ability to function. Case(s) in point: last night I attempted to order groceries on line. It took two and a half hours to do something that, had I gotten out of my bathrobe and into the car, I could have accomplished in 45 minutes with much less aggrevation. But it was 9 at night, I'd worked a full day and then endured a homeowner's association meeting that would have driven a sober man to drink, much less a lush like me, and there was no way I was going to drive to the nearest Publix and roll a wobbly-wheeled cart through the Muzak-filled aisles as I searched for a decent head of lettuce.

Instead, I spent two frustrating hours having my laptop time out and refuse to accept input, only to discover as I attempted to check out that I had 5 heads of lettuce and other mistaken multiples. Which I then could not edit out of my basket. It took so long to navigate through this morass that I lost my original delivery time. And ground about a quarter of an inch of enamel off my back molars.

Today, my e-mail has disappeared from register.com. But so has Register.com, it would seem. No matter what you type in, no matter what you click you get the same frustrating screen of this domain has just been registered, and information will be coming soon. As fucking if. I have tried to link to their help page, their manage my account page, their search for a domain name page, and two separate e-mail accounts. All I get is this lame "soon come" crap.

I don't have much more enamel on those back teeth. Can something get fixed? Anything?
Miz Shoes

Crazy. But That’s How it Goes.

The other day I was sitting in the train across the aisle from a couple of young female students. They were talking about high school life and the attendant traumas. The gossip. The backstabbing. The malice. And I tried to hide my smiles, but they saw me and said "Oh, we were just talking about school." I said "Yeah. How sad that you could just as easily have been talking about where I work. It never changes." That got them a little saddened, I think. Contemplating that pettiness continuing until retirement or death. It certainly saddens me.

One of them was telling the other how she hated her nickname: Crazy Natalie. I gave them my card with this website address on it. I don't know if they've ever come to read the blog, but this is for Natalie.

That's always been my nickname too. Not Natalie, just crazy. People are afraid of things and people who are different, and they will always label you in an effort to make themselves feel better. You told me you are a design student. Well, then, embrace the label of crazy, because no true change, no true art has ever been created by people who are safe and think the same as the rest of the sheep.

It doesn't make it easier to hear. It doesn't make you feel better, either. But just know, that crazy isn't bad, necessarily. It is just different. I sit on a board of directors where I am valued for my ability to see outside the box. In fact, they tease me that I don't even see the box. What box. That's a kind way of calling me crazy. But a valued crazy.

Don't give up the crazy to be the same. It will only hurt you worse, in the long run, than the names people call you.

Crazy? But that's how it goes.
Miz Shoes

Raw Meat

Like every other sentient human in America, I've been hearing all about e-coli and samonella and how we need to eat our burgers and steaks well done. To which I have said: Feh. Well done meat ain't worth eating. And I have continued to eat my beef medium rare to rare. I even eat a lump of raw ground beef now and then, when I'm cooking something that uses ground beef. Which I did Tuesday night. And I spent the rest of the evening and Wednesday paying for it in ways that you truly do NOT want to hear about.

Today I'm a little less green. Will I stop eating raw meat? Um, yeah, probably. Will I start eating it well done? Never. I'd rather be a vegetarian. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Miz Shoes

Bah Fuckin Humbug

I'm not even a Christian and I'm having a typical Christmas.... I have injured myself in a kitchen accident while making a pie for the Christmas dinner we're going to. I'm depressed from talking to my parents. I'm depressed in general. I'm totally stressed out. There's nothing on TV or radio that ISN'T Christmas, so it makes me feel like a stranger in a strange land. Another one of my fish died. Not the koi. They're doing fine. But the twenty-four cent goldfish went one after the other. And one of the algae eaters died the first day I had him. Probably not enough algae for him to eat in a brand new pond. Not to mention that little bit of lime still leaching out of the concrete. I guess if you are sucking the walls, lime isn't a good thing for you.

Anyway. Bah humbug. I want to go back to bed and sleep through the whole damn thing.
Miz Shoes

Birthday After

Yesterday my husband treated me to the most wonderful birthday. He let me sleep in. He made me coffee. He took me to an afternoon movie (Star Trek: Nemesis, the best part of which was the lights coming on in the theater when it was over), and then out to dinner at Les Halles with a few of my best girlfriends. We drank, we smoked, we yapped like lap dogs and we ate divine food. And I got presents. It just doesn't get any better.

One of my presents was getting the koi pond finished and filled with water and fish. Another was a watch with Charles Demuth's "I Saw the Figure Five in Gold" as its face. And band. Only my favorite painting in the world.

I received several books yesterday. Nina gave me a Dr. Suess 4-pack which included another one of my favorite things: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Marc gave me two books, the latest one by Christopher Moore, and David Hockney's essay on Optics and Art in the Renaissance. Fabulous.

Yep. It was a great birthday. Wish me luck in my attempt to survive till the next one.
Miz Shoes

So my best friend’s brother

So my best friend's brother died in my hospital this morning. He had leukemia, had tried chemo in prep for bone marrow transplant, and instead of getting 10 good months extra, he crashed. Got about 10 good days. As if that doesn't just suck the big Lebowski, here's the part I really don't get. He had a DNR. He had a living will that said no machines, no drastic measures. For the past 10 days he's been in a coma: tubes, machines, pumps and drips. Because his wife couldn't accept it and wouldn't admit that Jimmy had made his choice about how to die.

Can you get any more selfish than this? I'm not ready, so I'm going to control your end. Promise me, when it comes to it, give me a major bolus of morphine and let me shuffle off this mortal coil. I am not so attached to life that I fear the next passage. I AM affraid of dragging it out.

When my grandmother died, she went at home. We all came around to say goodbye. I let her hold her diamond ring, one last time. Even put it on her tiny little bird-like finger. The weight spun it around. Then it wouldn't come off. "Ha Ha, Gramma, you can't take it with you. Dammit, give it back, you gave it to me!" And the nurse is looking at me like I'm nuts, but the ring would not BUDGE off her finger. Hey. The nurses here all tell stories about folks in comas can hear you. Tell stories about how the one guy woke up and said they remember hearing what the nurses were saying over their bodies.... more or less. So who's to say Gramma wasn't giving me the hose, one last time for old time's sake.

What's that old joke? When I die, I want to go like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

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