Friday, November 12, 2010

Project: Organization

Yes, it's been a while since I last posted. I'm not even going to go into that.

I'm instead going to try and attempt a LARGE-scale project. I don't even know if it's completely possible, but I'll try. No, I'm not going to run another marathon - I did that already, and I don't even know where my running shoes are anyway. I'm not going to go try and learn Spanish, become a better cook, find a man, write the Great American Novel, or start a business.

I'm going to get organized.

I've always had a bit of an issue with clutter. I keep things clean in the sanitation sense, and I do a once-over on the house once a week or so. I could have company over and have the place presentable in an hour or so, but I've found that what used to be a junk drawer has become every empty container and room in my entire house. Mail piles up til I throw it all away (thank God for automatic bill-pay), magazines and electronics cords/accessories multiply like the Duggar family, and I now own 5 pairs of tweezers because I end up buying another pair when I can't locate the others. Most of my storage space (the attic, interiors of chests, the crawlspace, and various other locations) has a "I need to go through that" label on it in my head.

What do normal, Type-A, or people born without this clutter-bug gene do? A day/weekend of cleaning. Go through it and purge, start over. I think I'm beyond that. No, I'm not a hoarder, at least not to where you need to call A&E documentary crews over.

I have what Drena calls "sentimental clutter" - things that I keep because they remind me of someone or a happy time. Cards I've received. Ticket stubs. Stuffed animals won for me by ex-boyfriends. Bouquets I've caught at weddings - I've caught NINE. Sketches of paintings. Every note written to me in high school. Happy meal toys.

I have "future-use clutter" - things that I might have a need for at one time or another in the future. Magazines containing one pretty picture I wanted to keep. Hardware for IKEA furniture. Warranty cards for the dishwasher.

I have "supply clutter" - supplies purchased for projects, art supplies, office supplies, beauty supplies, multiples of tools, leftover interior paint, cleaning supplies.

Finally, I have "investment clutter" - stuff that I can't get rid of because I spent money on it. Clothes with the tags still on them because I haven't gotten them tailored. Wrong-color makeup. Broken electronics that I need to fix or get rid of. Decor that doesn't match my new place.

The list is endless.

So I'm giving myself one mess at a time. Hopefully one a day, but let's be honest, it may be a bit much at times. Every day, I want to clean one box, one drawer, one "dump spot", one group of things, and purge the clutter and find everything I keep in a place. I have given up on consigning/ebaying/selling things I'm purging - either donate, give away, or toss.

Hope to do one soon - I worked on something today, but I can't find my camera to document it. Maybe that's item 1...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

largely just a vent.

I decided to start writing on this thing again, though I don't think anyone's really paying attention anymore. I don't even think this feeds into people's readers, which I could take the time to update and problem-solve, but frankly, I don't really care. Read it if you want. Don't if you don't.

Good pieces of news:
1. Dan gets home soon. Can't believe it's been seven months, give or take.
2. I have mostly finished decorating the house. Screw that, I've gotten two and a half rooms done. But I do have a comfy new bed that I got for about 10% of the price. and I just came together at the right time and the right place.
3. I have REALLY blonde hair again.
4. I like my job for the most part, and at this rate, I couldn't get laid off - there is ALWAYS plenty for me to do.
5. It's almost summer. It has been a long, cold, rainy winter.

Things that are currently driving me up a wall:
1. The lovely military can't seem to nail down a date. This is not my favorite topic.
2. My lawn looks like shit. And the gutters are clogged. And I have a big ass oak tree in my backyard that's inevitably going to cost me a ton of money to remove. Awesome.
3. Our company lost about 24 hours to this crazy McAfee corporate update that shut down mine and thousands of other computers - no access to anything, just the blue screen of death. While I took it in stride and realized that when that happens, there's nothing I can do, I had everything pile back up today when we were able to get it all fixed. One of my analysts had the foresight to unplug from the network as soon as they heard people were having problems, allowing him to work offline through the outage. Now I REALLY wish I had done that - man, what I would give now for 24 hours of offline productivity where no one is able to email me.
4. In general, work is insane. My latest insanity-driver is the fact that I need to find the building age for 200 commercial properties in four western states. I found a lot through tax assessor websites, but more than half these counties have either nothing online or they charge for the parcel maps, which they won't even promise has the age of the structure. Since my job is all about centralizing efforts to streamline costs, I don't exactly have funding to pay these government agencies to tell me the age of structures that my client ALREADY OWNS. It's like this most days...I'm just chasing my tail to find a needle in a that's been found several times before, but should have been saved somewhere.

Well, hell.

I need to go grocery shopping.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I guess you can tell I moved in, but unfortunately, my first post since then isn't a happy one.

I moved in on November 6, and I've LOVED my new house. The Colonel settled in well, I got great deals on furniture and Ikea-hacked myself into a decently-decorated house. I was planning on buying a new bed (mine is a queen, and it looks TINY in my HUGE bedroom), and was THIS close from splurging on a nearly $2,000 bed and mattress.

Until December 29.

I came home late from work, and was so worried that the Colonel had an accident because I had left so early that morning and couldn't make it home for lunch. I opened the door, which was sticking a bit - I assumed the cold was making the door and new lock settle a little oddly. I looked up, saw the empty television stand. In my naivete, I assumed the dog had gotten curious behind the TV stand and knocked the flat-screen over. I freaked out, thinking I'd find a squashed beagle under a 50" plasma. I ran over, looked down, and the carpet never seemed so...barren. No television. I looked to the kitchen, the dining room, and the rest of the main area...

And I swear, it was like it was in the movies, where everything comes into focus. My entire house was ransacked. The back doors were basically destroyed, having been kicked/battering-rammed in - through a deadbolt. The trash can was on its side, having been thrown across the room. The dog food container lay on its side, and I noticed I was walking on dog food. A heavy can of peanuts, a hammer, a rubber mallet, and several other throwable, heavy objects were on opposite sides of the room from where I had placed them before. I looked in my bedroom, saw my bedroom door destroyed as well. The entire time, I called for the Colonel - nothing. I looked to the guest bedrooms, saw the doors were closed, and suddenly realized it was possible I wasn't actually alone in the house.

I literally dropped my purse and work computer on the floor, left my keys in the door, and took off for the neighbors two doors down, as the next-door neighbor's light wasn't on.

I interrupted their late-Christmas dinner. I was hysterical, said I had JUST moved in, and I was sorry I hadn't introduced myself yet, but that I needed to use their phone because I had been robbed and everything looks gone worth any value and I CAN'T FIND MY DOG AND IT'S TEN DEGREES OUT...

We called 911, and an officer took my statement and said it would be a little while before the Crime Scene unit came, but to NOT. TOUCH. ANYTHING. The neighbors scoured the neighborhood all they could for the Colonel, and found nothing. I sent them home and thanked them, and that I was very sorry to have disturbed their dinner. I called Meghan, and asked if I could stay with her - I couldn't sleep at my own house that night. Of course, she said yes. I called the insurance company, who dispatched an emergency reconstruction contractor to repair my recently-painted dining room wall and door. I stood in my house, not touching anything - just...staring - for three hours while I waited. I called my parents and one friend from home, who started the Lynchburg Rumor Mill, which truly runs at a speed greater than any force EVER. I texted a few random people. I called for the dog. Nothing. My mother offered to drive down immediately, as did more than a few friends both locally and otherwise, but I felt like even though I wanted the company...for once, there was nothing she nor anyone else could do.

It was freezing.

The Crime Scene Unit came, and I tried to at least make conversation with the officers. We discovered that the theives had driven around the back of my house - and just loaded right up. I remembered turning the lights on when I came home, so it was obvious they hit in broad daylight. The Crime Scene investigator covered almost every inch of my house in fingerprint dust...and apologized that it's hell to clean up. I said it was ok. He took about 10,000 pictures, and then said that the only fingerprints he was able to lift - from the entire house - was one palm print on a closet. He took my palm prints as elimination prints - because he couldn't rule mine out as being the one he found. I guess that means I really am a good housekeeper if he couldn't find one other print - even from me. He apologized for having to take mine twice...because he'd "never done it on anyone alive before..."

Finally, he left, I called Meghan and said I was going to be LATE, called a coworker and asked her to look up my boss' phone number (my internet was out because they'd stolen my router), and she was extremely sweet in offering to call me in on PTO and offering me a place to stay. The contractor finally got there and boarded up my looks like a railroad got laid over them. I still called for Colonel Mustard. I drove through the neighborhood until at least 2 am. Nothing. I finally drove over to Meghan's and got in her guest bed, exhausted. I sent Dan an email, saying only "I have bad house got robbed. They took a lot, and the Colonel is missing. I'm safe, I'm fine, and I'm sleeping at Meghan's. I'm sorry, I know you're busy and can't deal with me, I'm just...lost." He called five minutes later from Afghanistan, and for the first time that night, I burst into tears.

I woke up to a friend's call - he wanted to know HOW to help. He offered to come over and help find the Colonel, to help me clean, a place to stay, guns, anything - and again, I felt so awful, I couldn't tell people HOW to help. Nothing helped. I got up, sat with Meghan and Matt and the kids, had a BIG cup of coffee, and ate a couple of donuts while Caroline drew me a picture of "Miss Molly and her Doggie", because she was worried about him. I'm still crying thinking about it when I write this - a week later!

I finally decided to go home and have a hard look for the Colonel. When I got home, I tore through the woods, calling him, and finally, when I got back up to the house...there was this little beagle, curled up on the blanket from my bed that I had left out for him on the back porch. He was a little lame on a leg, and shaking, but not bleeding or broken. I don't think I've ever hugged him so much or apologized so much - I kept thinking he'd run away, believing I had put him through that experience - getting hammers and trash cans thrown at him by scary people, when all he was doing was barking his head off trying to protect me. I thanked my lucky stars.

Then I came in, and for the first time, I understood why people coming back after hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires burst into tears. Because I did. The house was still a wreck. Fingerprint dust was everywhere. I didn't even know where to start. I tried cleaning the dust, and realized I needed professionals, and called the first licensed maid team I could find. They had no availability, but called a COMPETITOR when they heard my story, they came that day. $150 for 1300 square feet of solid MESS. Worth every penny, even if the insurance refused to pay.

My cousin came that day and stayed for three days, and we drank like sailors. That's about all we could do - nothing else works. I went to Ikea and replaced some of the broken stuff. I rang in the New Year, and tried to remember that 2009, and the decade that no one wants to properly name, was actually pretty good to me. I drank a lot of champagne and egg nog and danced like an idiot, remembering that exactly ten years before, Meghan and I were standing in NoWhere Bar in Athens. I won't elaborate on the trouble we got into the first hours of 2000. I couldn't believe where she - and I - have gotten since then.

My stepdad and brother spent the night this past Sunday, and I've slowly been piecing my life together since. I can't sleep, not more than 2 hours a night. I'm scared of the bad guys coming back, and that I'll be there. I got a security system and am protecting myself even further. The detective has taken my case and said she might actually be able to track it down since I had pretty good documentation, but...90% are unsolved.

Overall, how do I feel?
Frantic until I found the dog.
Elated once I did.
Now...I'm terrified, violated, and mostly, ANGRY.

I'm terrified that someone staked out my house and knew three things - that I lived alone, I worked long hours, and the dog was all bark and no bite. I'm terrified they'll come back and that I won't be able to protect myself. I'm terrified that they might somehow be connected with me and I don't know that I'm walking among them. I'm terrified that I'll never be able to sell the house. I'm terrified that I'm never going to get the fingerprint dust out of the carpet - by the way, there's no hint from Heloise on that. I'm terrified that they stole my credit card statement and other pieces of mail that I had assumed were just lost. I'm terrified about it turning into an identity theft nightmare. I'm terrified that they've seen pictures of me. I'm terrified that the Colonel will get scared in public and bite someone if they happen to be the same size, shape, race or smell of the thieves.

I feel violated that I had to watch police officers take pictures of my underwear, because the thieves tossed everything out of my drawers. I feel violated because my laptop was in my bed. THEY WERE IN MY BED. I feel violated because it's the ONLY place I NEED to feel safe. I know it sounds crass, but it really feels one male organ short of rape. I'm absolutely shocked at how violated I've felt - I was once mugged, and never felt violated. My car has been broken into, my bike has been stolen, and someone TRIED to break in when I lived in Philly while we were actually in the house, but they got chased off by police. I was a little aggravated and saddened by all situations...but I never felt like my very personality had been stolen. Not like this.

And I'm angry. Angry that they made me lose a general sense of pacifism and faith in human nature. I had grown up in two houses where we NEVER locked the doors, and even though all my doors were locked and deadbolted, they got in. I'm angry that no one saw anything. I'm angry that Dan wasn't there. I'm angry that someone raised their children and didn't set the example of forcing their 5-year-old to take back the pack of gum they had stolen and apologize, and those kids grew up to rob my house. I'm angry that Samsung doesn't print their serial numbers anywhere permanent on their televisions, just on a label that's easily peeled off by thieves. I'm angry at my original home security people for not being able to install until January because of the first-time homebuyers program pushed them to a backlog. And I'm angry at those ass-clown scumbag cowards who had to admit to each other that they were ass-clown scumbag cowards in order to carry a 50" television out of the house. Angry as hell. For breaking my new doors, for tearing up my back lawn, for making a mess in my FINALLY-cleaned up house, for two televisions, for my laptop, for my hard drive, for a DVD player that wasn't worth jack, for every piece of jewelry I'd ever received from a boyfriend, from my dad, from my grandmother who had received them from her husband and unbelievable people while working for the state department, and every other piece of jewelry I've ever owned except a few minor pieces I was wearing or in a shoebox about to give away to goodwill. I'm SUPER-angry that they hurt my dog and might have to be restrained if they ever are caught. I'm angry that CMPD doesn't have the resources to track them down, and that even if they did, Mecklenburg County won't prosecute unless it's ironclad more than freaking Law & Order cases. I'm angry that I couldn't figure out ways for my friends to help when they offered. I'm angry that I have to suck it up when I get scared, because I HAVE to get back to normal sometime. And finally, I'm angry that it made me this angry. I never wanted to be a victim, and I hate being one.

If you come over to visit, do me a favor - come in the front door, and ring the doorbell. Don't surprise me around back - because I'm not necessarily waiting for the ADT panic signal to get to police. I'll be relying on a more traditional system of home defense if I get an intruder, and I'm not going to be asking questions first.

Friday, September 18, 2009

House hunting - over?

I've survived. That's all I can say. I've had a few posts ready to go about this , but I haven't said anything because:
a) I don't want to jinx it.
b) Every time I feel one way, another thing changes.
c) I've been worried about who reads this. Yes, I've been a little paranoid that maybe a seller would see me get excited about a house and then try to take me for more money. Whatever, no one reads this thing anymore (I've seen readership, let's say...FALL...since I left Philadelphia, but I don't care), but it still freaked me out.

So. I'll try to post these in the order in which they were written. Forgive me if I leave anything out or if I forget to post anything. Just ask me and I'll fill you if you see a gap in the storyline.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"And now," Max cried, "Let the wild rumpus start"

I'm inherently a bit wary of movie adaptations of books that I've loved since childhood. I think Hollywood ruined James and the Giant Peach and The Witches, two of my favorite Roald Dahl books. Charlotte's Web - sorry Dakota Fanning, but you are NO Fern. I'm going to pass on Tim Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland because I'm convinced that it's one of the few stories in which a darker Burtonesque adaptation is just...well, passe. Burton has done it before and ruined Willy Wonka, I'd love it if he'd just lay off my childhood and find a new story to tell. So help me God, if they ever turn Goodnight Moon into a box-office extravaganza, I might join a protest.

Last Sunday, I fell upon a New York Times article about Spike Jonze's journey in making Where the Wild Things Are. I should say - I loved this book to pieces when I was a kid. Even with the bland color pallette, I loved the illustrations - Maurice Sendak became one of the first illustrators I could name off the top of my head. I understood the significance of Max as a character, as well as his relationship with his monsters - even at a really young age - and I just fell into the camp of people who just got it when it came to WTWTA. It's about imagination, about a child's discovery of the adult emotion of loneliness - and how children deal with it. And along with Christopher Robin, Holden Caulfield, and Scout Finch, Max was a key example I used for a senior Children's Lit paper in illustrating how books have best described the fragility of childhood itself. So when I saw the article, I instinctively built my wall up - I thought "my GOD they have ruined it all. Great, my kids will NEVER get it like I did. Another Shrek knockoff."

But after reading the article, I really was excited to at least give this movie a shot. Then I saw the trailer. And the other trailer. And the featurette about the making of the movie. And now I'm super-pumped to see this - I think Spike Jonze, for lack of a better term, GOT it. This is what film students should study to find out why we bother adapting books into movies in the first place.

So I have now found the perfect formula for convincing Molly to spend an actual $10 to end her 2-year absence from the theaters. Take one quality director who has made a career of using his overactive imagination. Add a classic story and hire a superb writer - say, Dave Eggers - to write the screenplay. Involve the original author and illustrator at every step of the process. Fight the studio to make a film that keeps true to the integrity of the original work. Refuse to dumb down a story for children. Also refuse bright lights, vivid colors, and other children-trapping visual tricks unless germaine to the story. Hold the impact of the original work on its audience dear, and don't release it until you feel it's ready for that audience. Finally, set the trailer to Arcade Fire.

And then you've got Molly in cinematic the TRAILER.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Cautionary Tale: Lessons learned the hard way. Or, Adventures in Myers Park.

Two little pieces of advice that I figured out the wrong way today:

1. Check what you're wearing before you go out in public. Beyond just covering the naughty bits, you might want to foresee who might look twice at your clothing. Because if you walk into the Myers Park Target wearing an old painting t-shirt, it looks a little odd to folks. Especially when it's covered in red paint splatters, and it makes you look like you're a serial killer.

2. If your caffeine addiction has grown to the point where the "Red Eye" (coffee plus a shot of Espresso) needs ANOTHER shot of Espresso, and you've learned that the Starbucks lingo for coffee-plus-two-shots is called a "Black Eye" (for it's strong punch), do yourself a favor and exercise restraint on the lingo. Just order like this: "Coffee with 2 shots of Espresso." Especially when in the often-crowded Dilworth Starbucks. Because when you place the order of "Can I get a tall Black Eye?" over the hiss of the machines, the baristas and everyone else in the crowded coffeehouse stop and stare. And you'll suddenly hear crickets. Because it sounds like you just asked loudly for a tall black guy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shameless begging for money - for a good cause!

One of the most frequent suggestions I got when I started training for the marathon was to tie it into raising money for a cause. Running has a way of getting that little devil in your head that says "WHY are you doing this? Your feet hurt, you're tired, you don't have the time, and God gave us horses and then cars so we WOULDN'T have to go far on foot. Why run unless being chased?". Raising money for a cause gives you motivation to get off your butt, ties you into a commitment greater than the $88 entry fee, and all that jazz. I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do, but the hands-down winner was the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. They're a great charity that spends over 93% of all their funds on research (some charities spend 93% on fundraising and administrative costs - I wanted something that actually DID things to make a difference!) and they don't have the benefit of a huge public celebrity to help them meet their goals. They're the little guy that's doing things the way that the big guys SHOULD!

Most of all, though, I picked the MMRF because my own Granddad died of the disease. I'm not here to give you a tearjerker campaign, but suffice it to say, I'd really love any support that's out there. Please visit my fundraising site and contribute anything you can - even if it's $10 or whatever - and it would really really mean a lot to me. All you anonymous blog-stalkers out there - you know who you are, I don't even have statcounter hooked up on this thing, so I can't single you out - but I know you're out there. You can make a donation anonymously if you like. The site is secure, it's quick, goes directly to the MMRF, and there's even a link on it to see if your employer matches charitable gifts. I found out that mine does by searching the database myself, and they even give the contact person of who to email for matching funds!

If you can't click on the link, here you go - no excuse!

If I get good response, I'll even post more often! See, two days in a row!