Monday, May 31, 2010

Tucson: Day 6

This is what I love about Tucson - a random mosaic wall in front of a convenience store. It's not anyplace special, but the owners have created art on an ordinary wall where you can sit and drink your 20 oz. soda. It would give the city council in Newport the vapours, the black horrors, and three other kinds of hysteria-induced archaic ailments. I think it's great.

Lynette and I slept late on my last day in Tucson while the Army Dude and his sister Penny went to an appointment with the doctor. We two sat around in our pajamas and chatted while she took her osteoporosis meds and I checked my email (we are amazing multi-taskers). Later, Lynette, the Army Dude, and I went back to The Lost Barrio to look around a bit more. We followed this up with a trip back to 4th Street, where we had cold drinks and pastries at our favorite coffee shop. It's funny - I've been to Tucson often enough to have a favorite coffee shop. I am amazed by that.

Another very cool thing about Tucson is that "horse country" begins inside the city limits. Barely a ten-minute drive from an area with supermarkets and a Walgreens, you can find this. If you know where to look. Some friends of Penny live in an old adobe ranch house surrounded by horse paddocks and mesquite trees, and this is the view from their backyard. It's a little patch of heaven that's about ten degrees cooler than just a few miles up the road.

It would have been slightly more heavenly if the owner didn't keep talking about Rattlesnake Encounters Right Here In My Yard. I think she was doing it to scare the greenhorns from back east (which worked on me but not the Army Dude - apparently, rattlesnakes are no big deal when you've encountered camel spiders), but it just goes to show you that in this life you can't have everything. In Tucson, though, you get pretty darn close.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tucson: Day 5

In the morning, we went to The Lost Barrio, a fantastic shopping area with stores containing home furnishings to die for (if you live in a Tucson hacienda, and not a small New England apartment like I do), vintage bric-a-brac and clothing, garden decorations - you name it.

One of the things I love about Tucson is the exuberant decorating on the exteriors of buildings. Back in Newport, the neighbors would go absolutely apeshit over something like this and the tenants would be forced to remove everything that gives the street character and make it as boring and homogenous and the rest of the shopping district. Not in Tucson. Individuality and artistic expression are expected and encouraged.

Speaking of artistic expression, I loved these illuminated paintings by a local artist, who is also the owner of the shop. She has a little painting studio in one corner, so I imagine she works on her art between customers. So much for my therapist's theory that you can't schedule creativity and that you have to wait for the muse to come knocking. A girl's got to make a living - and she does, in fine and creative style.

It was 100 degrees for the first time this year in Tucson yesterday, and I was feeling it by the time we got back to the house. Lynette and I had a lunchtime snack of ice cream with chocolate sauce and we took naps while we waited for the Army Dude and his sister to come back from an appointment with the doctor. They brought us Indian food from the New Delhi Palace and we ate again. Yes, technically we had two lunches. Then we lounged around all afternoon. She watched her favorite game shows while I read Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love and occasionally shouted out answers to questions on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Lynette is 88 and I'm on vacation, and that's how we roll.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tucson: Day 4

The Army Dude, my friend Lynette and I visited Old Tucson Studios in the middle of the Saguaro National Park . It's a little bit of Hollywood in the middle of the desert, which was a lot of fun for an old movie buff like me. Our tour guide, pictured above - a nice guy from Cape Cod - told us tales of the heyday of Old Tucson Studios, when John Wayne and Clint Eastwood made movies there. It's still a working studio, but not as many movies are made there nowadays.

I was concerned that the Army Dude and his mother, being fair-skinned Irish/English people, would get sunburnt, so I fussed over them and lectured them on the use of sunscreen. Of course, you know what's coming. The only one who got burnt was the brown person - me. The sunburn is really only on my shoulders, but I didn't hear the end of it for the rest of the day.

I bought this awesome necklace at a shop at the studio. I met, the artist, an Apache guy who was super nice. Next thing I knew, I had the necklace on and I was in love. Yes, I spent too much money on it, and yes, I will be an old lady pushing my shopping cart down the road, but I will be doing it in a fabulous necklace and that's what matters.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tucson: Days 1-3

I'm spending a week in Tucson visiting two members of my family of choice, one of whom had surgery last week. She's doing well, and we're all having a good time.

After a mostly-uneventful seven hours of travel (the shortest trip I've ever taken from Rhode Island to Arizona) I arrived hungry, cold, and not fully awake. After breakfast at the Waffle House and a nap, I managed a visit with my friends and to eat Chicken Marsala, one of the Army Dude's specialties. I staggered off to bed at 9:00, completely forgetting to take my meds. Good news, though: it turns out that if I miss one dose of my anti-depressant, I don't have a psychotic break. Not that I'm in any danger of becoming psychotic (that I know of) but there are dire warnings on the literature that comes with the medication that says "very bad things can happen if you stop taking this abruptly. Including, but not limited to psychotic breaks and feeling like dogshit." Or something similar. So no psychotic break. Yay!

On the morning of Day Two, we visited and chatted, then the Army Dude and I went to some consignment shops. One of the really cool things about Tucson is that it's an artistic hippie community, so there are all kinds of consignment and thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, and stores that specialize in recycled items. One consignment shop we went to was approximately the size of the Walmart store back home, and contained about ten times the merchandise. We have to go back there, since after I saw the left-handed boomerang, I was totally confused.

That night we went to see Robert Cray at the Historic Rialto Theatre, which is across the street from the Hotel Congress, where John Dillinger once stayed. The hotel is also reputed to be haunted. All I can tell you for sure is that the food was great at the hotel's Cup Cafe, and that Robert Cray rocked the house. It was a great show. We also really enjoyed the warmup band, Bad News Blues.

Day 3 started with a walk in the morning sunshine, which I followed with a two-hour nap (I was still a bit jet-lagged after being up late the night before). After lunch, the Army Dude and I headed to 4th Street (pictured above). It's an area with quirky shops and tattoo parlors and vintage clothing stores. I found a couple of gifts for folks back home, and bought myself a handmade bracelet of turquiose and copper beads and rattlesnake vertebrae. Which is the closest I ever want to get to a rattlesnake, even if it does taste like chicken.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tucson Travelogue

Behold the room where I'm staying in Tucson, AZ. It is made entirely out of awesome.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Today's Outfit

I've been following some fashion blogs by real people who wear fabulous clothes and search for great vintage pieces, such as Karla's Closet, Va-Voom Vintage, Refashion, Recycle, Reuse, and Fidget Finds. It's fun to get a peek at what other people are wearing and how they put it all together.

This week, I've been amusing myself as I drive to work in the mornings by listing each item I'm wearing and where I bought it. It's entertaining because the girls mentioned above are wearing awesome finds and designer pieces and I'm wearing things that are far less fabulous.

So I thought I'd share:

The first thing I notice as I look at this picture is that I am really not photogenic - which is a polite way of saying I firmly believe I am much better looking than all photographic evidence has shown thus far.

The second thing I notice is how completely exhausted I look after 6 hours of praying for the sweet release of death work. My eyes aren't even all the way open. Maybe it's because the picture was taken on my phone. Yeah, that must be it.

Anyway, the clothes:
Black long-sleeved tee shirt: Walmart
Sweater: Kenneth Cole, from a consignment shop
Pants: New York & Company.
Trouser socks (yes, it's cold enough for socks here, dammit): Walmart
Shoes: Aerosoles, bought to wear to my sister's college graduation; she is about to turn 33
Flower pin: came pinned to a Body Shop gift bag I got a few years ago
Pearl stud earrings: were my grandma's
Freshwater and coin pearl necklace: a gift from a boyfriend before we started hating each other
Belt: Target

See what I mean?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Don't Like Thursdays

Thursday is my least favorite day of the week.

I know a lot of people disagree with me and can wax poetic in their dislike of Mondays. I understand where they're coming from, but on Mondays the freedom of the weekend has usually left me feeling rested, refreshed, and ready to kick some administrative butt. Sure, I often feel that "scratched record" moment where I pause and remind myself that it's no longer the weekend and I must endeavor to fit my very square peg personality into the round hole that is my job. But I adjust, and I am okay with having to do so.

Tuesday and Wednesday tend to pass by in a blur - sometimes a painful blur, but a blur nonetheless. By the time Thursday gets here, I'm exhausted and there are two whole days left in the work week. I wake up feeling as tired as I went to bed and the feeling doesn't go away all day. There is some kind of bend in the space-time continuum that makes Thursday seem four times as long as any other day of the week, and I resent it.

Thursday mocks me by not being Friday. On Friday I can at least grin and bear it. I think about what I'm going to do on the weekend and which classic movie I'm going to watch that night. I tell myself work will be over in a few hours and I can go home singing I Don't Have To Be Me 'Til Monday. But on Thursday, that is a whole day away.

So here is what we've learned: Maria has her cranky pants on this morning and the video for I Don't Have To Be Me 'Til Monday is actually kind of awesome. Click on the link if you haven't already. I'm fantasizing right now about that portal and wearing the red can-can dress someplace where a red can-can dress would be perfectly appropriate. And not having to be me until Monday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Letter To Army Dude

Dear Army Dude,

I know I promised not to post anything embarassing about you on my blog. However, yesterday at Barnes & Noble, you looked at this product and said "Oh cool! That one has cavemen and dinosaurs!"

I'm sorry, but you leave me no choice.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Who Knew?

Damn. It turns out I've been sitting on a goldmine all these years.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I Don't Heart "Horizon Tireless"

I've mentioned previously that my internet access is unreliable. I finally got sick of it a week or so ago and made another call to "Horizon Tireless" to have them do some troubleshooting. The nice young man on the phone told me that there is a coverage problem where I live, which might be solved if I bought a booster to help my aircard pick up the signal. I accepted this answer - despite the fact that I live in Newport, Rhode Island, and not, for instance, at a research station in the Antarctic - and told him I wanted to think about it.

I had made the call early in the morning, and after a little caffeine, I began to question what had been said. My aircard has a phone number and uses a dialup connection. I was sitting in front of my computer talking to customer service on my "Horizon Tireless" cell phone. My understanding of how these things work is pretty sketchy, but logic seemed to tell me that both devices were probably getting similar, if not identical, signals from the same tower - yet I had no internet access.

The representative had suggested I move my computer around the house to see if I could get access in a different spot, so today I unplugged the aircard from my fancy new Gateway All-In-One and turned the hand crank on my old laptop. Would you like to know where I am right now? Am I sitting on the edge of the tub in the upstairs bathroom with a tinfoil hat on my head? No (not today, anyway). I am sitting at my desk on the first floor, with my laptop right next to my desktop.

Yesterday, I had to call "Horizon Tireless" for the third month in a row because one of the work cell phones keeps getting charged for their Navigator software, and the user has never downloaded it. Customer service explained to me that the phone gets sent a text, sort of like telemarketing, and when you click "OK" just to make it go away so you can use your damn phone, you've downloaded it. When I said that I'd like to express my view that this is not the most upfront way for the company to deal with its customers and I expected something better from "Horizon Tireless" (seriously, those were my exact words), I was treated to a lecture on the constitution protecting free enterprise.

I'm just not feeling the love for "Horizon Tireless" right now - and neither is my cat because I've commandeered her favorite napping spot on the lid of the laptop. I'm mostly harmless, but they should watch out for her. When she's annoyed, she says it with poop.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy May Day!

It's a glorious day here in Newport, Rhode Island. I've already managed to get outside for a walk and to do a few pastoral dances without being hauled off to the loony bin. So far, it's a good day.

I haven't really thought much about May Day since I was a Girl Scout and we used to make gift baskets out of paper plates and yarn and slip a package of seeds into each one. May Day feels like the first day of spring. I know that technically spring begins around March 21st at the Vernal Equinox, but where I live March is really the end of winter and there is a lot more cold, wet, windy weather to come. Despite the cold, the birds return from warmer climates and begin chirping, the plants and trees bravely bud and blossom.

There's a lesson in that somewhere.

By May, however, spring is really here. The cold weather has gradually given way to warmth. The sun feels hot on my face and it's a great day to be alive. I can't help thinking back to a time, not that all that long ago, when I didn't want to be alive and I honestly could not imagine ever being happy again. I am very, very grateful to have been wrong, and delighted to be here to admit it.

Happy May Day. I hope that wherever you are, the sun is shining on your face - and more importantly, in your heart.