Thursday, October 29, 2009
This is a book that so engages me I can actually read it WHILE listening to my Ipod. Of course I have no idea what is playing but at least it drowns out the random noises of the train..and the people on it.
Seriously, I had to stop reading to cross the street and Islands in the Stream by Kenny Roger and Dolly Parton was playing. WTH is that about?
Anyway, Bon Temps is French for "good times". And this book is good times. Indeed.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
By and large cover songs can be a tricky thing. When done well they elevate the original tune; when done poorly they can ruin the song forever.
So, here are a few of my favorite covers, and why they've earned this distinction. Please note this is an organic list that will change as I hear new covers yet to be done and discover others I've not yet heard.
Free Fallin' by John Mayer.
No one was more reluctant to hop aboard the John Mayer train than me. I'd avoided drinking that particular flavor of Kool-Aid until I stumbled upon his version of this Tom Petty classic. My aversion wasn't to Mr. Mayer's musical stylings, which I neither liked or disliked. It stemmed more from my perception that he gets more a$$ than a public toilet...which kinda turned me off. But his acoustic take on the song converted me and opened my ears (and mind) and I must say the more I listen to him, the more I like him. His song Say is not only musically terrific, the lyrics are downright wrenching. So, please pass the Kool- Aid.
To Make You Feel My Love by Adele.
Written by Bob Dylan (who I can't stand at all) this often covered ditty gets its just due when Adele belts it out. Lyrically a strong strong song...and this particular version just resonates even after it is over. Genius. And way better than the Garth Brooks version.
I Will Survive by Cake.
Ah yes, the single woman's anthem. I've sung this after many a break up in order to calm my own fears that I just won't make it through the pain. Sadly, John McCrea, Cake's lead singer, can be kind of a drag at live shows. He tends to yell at the crowd if they aren't, in his perception, hyped up enough. But still, this is a cool spin on an old classic. Well done.
Country Roads by Rednex.
The most well known song in the World (if you don't believe me, Google it), Country Roads was possibly John Denver's signature tune. (Although Annie's Song could also be a contender for that title.) One of the few regrets I have in life is that I never got to hear him perform it in person. This cover by the popular Swedish techno/folk/bluegrass band Rednex has all the sentimentality of the original with a dance floor feel. Equally usable at a tailgate or a rave, this inspired version can get the party started...or keep it going a little longer.
Sweet Jane by The Cowboy Junkies.
This song so struck me that I can tell you where I was and who I was with the first time I heard it. So enamored was I with this tune I worked it into my Jukebox rotation at one of my favorite college bars....determined to share this jewel with all the other patrons in the joint. For a long time I didn't even know this was a remake. As a result, I've never enjoyed the original by The Velvet Underground. But I do have to be in a particular mood to listen to it..it's too powerful for a casual play IMO.
How Deep is Your Love by The Bird and the Bee.
All of the soul of the 70s version with out the Velveeta. Understated, gentle and smooth. I immediately fell in love with this version and suggested my niece use it as her first dance song at her wedding. She didn't...but I very well might if I can sell the groom on it...provided I ever find him.
Anyone out there have any cover songs they love and want to turn me on to? Let me know in the COMMENTS section.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Rain again. Nothing new there.
To cap it off, three of my coworkers were laid off today. It was horrible. And sad. And very upsetting. All three are great people and great workers and we are surely worse off without them. This was our fourth round of layoffs in the last 12 months. This "rebound" everyone is trying to sell to the America public just isn't happening. At least not in the engineering world.
Having been in their exact shoes following my layoff in 2002 I know firsthand the fear/anger/disillusionment all three are now feeling. All I can say is that when they come out on the other side of this nightmare they will all land in a better place confident in the knowledge they survived one of the most terrifying experience anyone can face. I say to them the same thing my brother told me back in 02, "tough times don't last, but tough people do."
The train on the way home was super packed again. I guess the rising gas prices have many people returning to mass transit to save a few pennies. I had every intention of standing for the ride home until a nice guy offered me his seat. And so I took it and for the first time in a long time I simply rode home and listened to my music, trying to shut my brain off...to not think about anything; not read anything to distract me.
Some days you just have to stop running and moving and worrying and just be. And today was that day for me.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I am really bummed about this. Besides paying full price for a hardback, I am truly disappointed that I just didn't really seem to care what happened this go around with Robert Langdon. In retrospect I guess I could have waited for it to come to the library after all. I've since passed it onto Katie. I'll be interested to hear her take on it.
Anyway, this morning I started the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series...Dead Until Dawn. For those of you that aren't familiar with these books you might be interested to know these are the novels that serve as the basis for the HBO series True Blood. And I must say, so far I am WAY more into it than I ever thought I would be.
Maybe I've outgrown conspiracy theory thrillers...or maybe it is that I've reverted back to my girlhood attraction to vampires. They are the original bad boys.
Whatever the case I am just glad I once again have a book I enjoy reading on my daily commute. It really does make the time on the train fly by.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Really, the whole car thing radiated from my father. He didn't trust anyone I might ride with and thus decreed that if I didn't drive, I didn't go. So not only did I always have a car, I always had to drive (sidebar - it would take me 15 years to finally feel comfortable as the passenger in a car driven by a friend). Two days after I got my license, he and I were on the road from DC to America's Dairyland, and I was zipping around Chicago on the right of passage trip made so many times before my older siblings. Everyone did this drive at least once in our family; there was no way around it. Some people have sweet 16 parties, others have bar mitvahs...the Gerrits family had the annual trip to Wisconsin. My dad, God love him, makes Clark Griswold look like Magellan, but I digress.
Cut to August 2009. The economy is in a tailspin. My company is downsizing and I've made it through three rounds of RIFs. I am not sure I am going to make it through the next round, which I fear is not too far off! Our pay has been cut by 10%, my 401k has tanked and my condo can't be refinanced as all of the sudden I don't have enough square footage (please note that it is the exact same SF I had when I purchased it in 2002. WTF?) and this is the time Pumpkin (my beloved and "trusty" car) decides to become an unruly pre-teen. Not to mention I am going through Gossip Girl withdrawl. Chuck Bass, where are you???? Ahem.
Pumpkin is my 2000 Mazda 626. She's been with me through various moves, job changes and several boyfriends. She ferried me to weddings, funerals, baby showers and more than one concert. She is almost 10. In the midst of this firestorm fo uncertainty, she has decide to commit suicide (a little dramatic Pumpkin!). It started slow...a new starter here, a new battery there. In two week's time, I've spent $1,019.06. Yesterday was the coup de grace...she overheated on the way into work...exactly one week to the day after I picked her up at the shop. Let me tell you, broken down under the Buford Connector in Industrial Atlanta is not a good look for me.
Knowing when to say when has never been my strong suit. I am a Taurus. I don't like to admit defeat. I don't like to give up, ask for help or generally fail. I have no problem fishing, it's the cutting the bait part that I struggle with.
But Pumpkin has gone too far this time. Now it's a cracked radiator, a leaking water pump and a new thermostat she needs...costing the equivalent of a short trip to Disney World. And this is the start. Coming soon to a theater near me will be a new timing belt ($1,200) and then brakes...and the list goes on. All this for a car with a Blue Book value of $3,000.
This is what I like to call easy math.
I can't keep Pumpkin going at this level of car; I accept this easier than I imagined I would. I am selling her at auction for $1.250 as is - tonight...which makes me happy as that covers the cost of the previous two weeks of repairs and leaves enough left over for some beers for me and my friend Katie, who is giving me a ride back from the sale site.
But what I can't wrap my head around is getting a car loan given all the uncertainty stated above. It just doesn't make sense. Pay goes down, bills go up? Doesn't sound like a plan to me.
What options do I have? Drain my meager savings to buy a car, lose my job and end up screwed? Or suck it up, use mass transit, carpools, my feet and my bike to get hither and yon?
Really, I have no choice at all.
But can I do it? Can I make it a year without a car in Atlanta? A city that is known for its transportation nightmares and general disdain for MARTA? Will I still be able to make work meetings out of the office? What about getting to the grocery store...or more importantly, geting HOME from the store with all the stuff? How will I see my friends that aren't on the MARTA lines? And most importanly, will not being able to go on random road trips at the spur of the moment be my final undoing?
We'll find out together...because as of tonight at 6 PM, I became car-less....for the first time in 20 years...
And my trials and tribulations will all be chronicled right here.
I don’t know if in my post-illness haze I somehow messed up the clocks in my house…all I know is I got the bus stop at 10 after the hour and the bus never showed…until 35 after the hour. And of course today I have suitcase as I am heading to out of town for work this afternoon…so walking a mile dragging a bag is not how I am starting my day.
Why does this sort of thing never happened on days where I have nothing to carry/drag?
Bottom line, door to door time in today took 1 hour 35 minutes…of which 25 minutes was spent by me reading Sports Illustrated at the bus stop. And even that wasn’t that great…it was the stupid NBA preview. Boooring!
Note - This is the last post of the week….I am off to Houston for work and some R & R. Catch you next week…
It was the onset of a 24 hour stomach bug that came on with such vengeance it felt like Bruce Lee was in my tummy leading a cardio-kickboxing class. I guess the out of character headaches should have tipped me off that something was brew…or spewing, as it were.
Needless to say, I didn’t venture into the office Wednesday. I would have never made it without “an incident” and no one in the office wanted my germs.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Something is fishy. In the last three days I have had two headaches. I rarely fall victim to headaches at all...let alone at this frequency. My back has been killing me too...so I took more pain medicine this afternoon than I probably should have. But until I can get to the chiropractor I don't really have too much choice in the matter.
Those of you that know me IRL know my issues with motion sickness. It is no laughing matter. Back in 1999 I went on a first date and we went to see The Blair Witch project. It was very hard for me to watch it due to the herky-jerky nature of the filming. I got through it but as soon as we exited the theater I threw up in a trash can. Talk about leaving an impression. Fortunately, the guy was very sweet about the whole thing...and my antics didn't upset him too much.
Until today, I really hadn't been struggling with motion issues in terms of my commute. Not the case this evening. While on the train I almost bolted off at the Buckhead station to visit the closest trash can. I was able to power through it but wow, it was a close call.
Then the same wave of nauseousness hit me while on the bus. I warned the bus driver and he just said if I couldn't make it to let him know and he'd pull over. I found this statement oddly comforting.
I am hopeful that if I get some food on my stomach it will counter balance all the pain medication I took and I'll be feeling better shortly.
In the meantime, I think I will be taking my own barf bag with me on the train from now on. Precautionary measure to make sure I don't spew on the bus or the train. (Now there is a graphic no one needs to see!)
I think some organization is missing a great marketing opportunity...imagine your logo on the Marta barf bags...think of all the publicity you'd get out of that!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Let me guess, the cheese stands alone on this one?
For the record, no one on the train wanted to hear my version of Jump Jive and Wail by Brian Setzer and his Orchestra this evening. Mores the pity I say...it's a killer tune.
I am just glad I wasn't singing along with New Jack Hustler by Ice-T...cuz that would have been really awkward.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tonight it was a fast trip home but I couldn't get here soon enough. Other than the unibomber-esq dude on the train it was an uneventful day on Marta. Dude had the hoodie, the dark glasses and a mask you see people wearing when either a) they don't want to get sick or b) they are sick and don't want to infect anyone else.
If the former, I am sorry he was so concerned about illness. If the later, I thank him for taking steps to keep the rest of us healthy.
And now, I am going to kick back in my favorite pjs and partake of a Sam Adams lager and put this hellish week behind me.
Clearly some crack addict traffic engineer had a field day designing this gem.
Anyway, as I waited for the walk signal to cross this cluster(*ck of an intersection, some no talent ass clown in a Mercedes decides that he’s going to shoot through the yellow light onto the ramp and wedge himself between the two lanes coming from the East.
Home skillet almost crashed into three different cars pulling this stunt. Hard to say, but he made Cruella DeVil look like a model driver. I actually BACKED down the sidewalk so that if he did crash into anyone I wouldn’t get hit by the debris…or an actual car. After witnessing this a guy in a pickup and I actually looked at each other and said in unison, “What the (*&#?”
And by the way, where is Bill Engvall and his sign for a stupid person when you need him?
Once the one-man wrecking machine inched past the crosswalk I made my way across the ramp.
And let the record show I was actually glad I was on foot rather than on the road with this menace.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I shoot out of bed at warp speed only to discover I forgot to switch what I had planned to wear from the washer to the dryer the night before. Stupid Biggest Loser and its distractive effect. PS - They TOTALLY should have sent Tracey home. I'd call for a soap party if I was in the house with her.
So I find something else to wear and hop to it. I am still hopeful I can make the 7:15 bus. I shower, eat breakfast, cram my stuff into my backpack and plan to head out.
Then I look in the mirror and realize I've forgotten to put on my make up. So long 7:15. Hello 7:45.
At 7:30 I head out and realize it's raining. Again. Head back into the house to dig out the raincoat I just crammed into my bag, put it on, restuff all the other gear back into the bag, find the umbrella and again I head out. It's so dark that once the door shuts I can't even see the keyhole to lock the damn door. I fumbled with it for a few minutes muttering various words of discontent and finally get it locked. At long last I am on the move to the bus stop.
While on the bus I see a car with a "too blessed to be stressed" bumper sticker. Really. What I want to know is who is this person with this mantra attached to their car. Clearly s/he works from home and has no timetable to keep or s/he is heavily medicated. Because those of us in the real world might disagree with them on occassion.
On the way home I go to pull the chime so the driver knows to stop and I yanked the entire chain out of the metal holder. I pulled the coiled wire so hard that I actually BROKE the metal fastener that held it in place.
I am out.
Or rather in for the night...lest I damage any more government property.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
A woman was plucking her eyebrows. I'm pretty much scared to do that at home let alone on a moving bus that is traveling on a bumpy road.
Plus, some things should just be done at home.
Once I saw the tweezers I had to look away. All I could envision was an eyeball kabob on her plucking instrument.
A little decorum people. Please.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Another rainy Monday. With the added bonus of being pitch black outside as I run across four lanes of traffic to get to my bus stop. In rain boots that provide no support or traction. Because today, of all days, I decide I need to come in early.
Cold, rainy and dark. How’s that for pay back for getting a jump on the new week? Yeah, Universe - 1, Cari – 0.
I get to the station just as the train pulls in, I hop on and off we go. It’s so early/cold/dark/rainy all I want to do is close my eyes and go back to sleep. I am so MEH this morning I didn’t even bring a book to read.
And then I notice a lady on the other side of the train car applying her makeup. She even had the wear-with-all to apply EYE LINER. On a moving train!
Well, I was about eight shade of jealous when I saw this. I mean if I even attempted something like that I’d look similar to the Eva painting by Picasso. http://www.sapergalleries.com/PicassoEva.jpg
For real, I was once reprimanded in 10th grade English because my lines for sentence diagramming were so poorly drawn. And this was done on a stable surface WITH the use of a ruler. Of course that teacher was a total bitch so I think she was just looking for opportunities to pounce on me. She was so bad my friend Ginger actually called a spade a spade, (or rather a bitch a bitch) during class one cold November day. Ginger was lucky…she got transferred out...the rest of us weren’t so fortunate...we had to deal with her for the rest of the year. Oh, and she made us read The Good Earth too. Worst.Book.Ever! It’s hard to believe that was 20 years ago.
Anyway, I watched her with rapt attention and when she exited the train I have to say she looked fabulous! This lady should consider being a surgeon…cuz with hands that steady I am sure the likes of Grady or Northside could use her skills. I can only image what masterpieces she’d come up with on an Etch-a-Sketch.
308 - SW Georgia and Daisy
Spent the better part of the day traveling to SW Georgia for a meeting. 400 miles roundtrip in less than 10 hours. Needless to say, when I turned the rental car in Friday afternoon I was happy to be rid of it.
After leaving Enterprise, I skipped across Roswell Road and waited for the bus to carry me to my hair guy (hi John!) for a much needed TLC and a cut. Let me tell you, Friday it was about 92 with 412% humidity…so even though all I did was sit at the bus stop I was sweating bullets by the time the number 5 showed. But alas traffic cooperated and I had no trouble getting to the hair studio in a timely fashion. In fact I was very early…but this is part of the adventure of riding Marta. Having no control over the schedule one often arrives either very early or very late at the intended destination. Apparently right on time isn’t an option.
Sidebar – why is it that you get your hair washed at the salon it feels so magnificent? When I wash my hair at home I get none of the relaxation affect I get when at the salon. Hell, I’ve even recruited people to wash my hair for me in the shower on occasion and even they can’t match the magic of a salon wash. Do stylists take a special class in hair washing? Does it just feel better since all I have to do is sit in the chair? Do they have special soap? Inquiring mind wants to know.
Anyway, I had planned to bus back home (or roughly a mile away from home and then walk the remainder of the way) but both John and his final client of the evening were kind enough to offer me a ride home.
Which made me think of the quote from A Streetcar Named Desire, “…I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Not that I have much in common with Blanche DuBois. Or that I really do depend on the kindness of strangers. Nevertheless, it was very sweet that they offered their assistance.
After I was assured it was no inconvenience to her, I accepted a ride from Daisy (or what her code name will be on here). And in the 15 minutes it took to get to my house I heard a very romantic and wonderful story about how she met her husband. It was a blind date that she never intended to go on. But for some reason she ended up going, they ended up connecting and five months later they were married. And nine months after that they had their daughter. They spent 8 years together before he passed away.
Well, I loved hearing this because A) I could see how much she enjoyed telling it; B) I thought it was wonderful how rather than be upset he was gone she reveled in the time they had shared; and C) it assuaged some of my fears about blind dates. Which I hate and avoid at all costs. Which led me to believe this whole scenario unfolded this way to get me to be more open to possibilities, dating and otherwise.
My motto has always been that strangers are just friends I’ve not yet met. Maybe I need to put this to practice on the dating front too?
Couldn’t hurt, might help.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Part 1 - So THIS is what the 7th Level of Hell Feels Like.
While waiting for a North Springs train two Southbound trains rumbled through the station. As did a Doraville train.
When the North Spring train finally arrived it was uber packed and super hot. Standing room only in a train car that felt like what I imagine a stand up sauna would feel like. Without the aromatherapy. I think I speak for all riders when I say, "hurry up fall temperatures." This is for the birds.
Part 2 - A Much Better Trip with Some Good Sights to Boot.
After PT I hustled to the Buckhead station and as luck would have it, the train was just pulling into the station. I hopped into the last car and settled in for the ride homeward.
A few minutes into the ride I noticed a very cute, married guy. Looked young to me but I imagine he's maybe around 30. Regardless of his age, he was a cutie and he had great hair. He will never have to worry about going bald. I hope his wife realizes her good fortune. I hope one day I'll be as lucky as she is!
A special shout out to the folks at Neurosport PT in Buckhead. I appreciate all your hard work to get me on the mend. And while I am glad to officially be released from PT, I am sad I won't get to see you all anymore. Of course at the rate I am falling apart, I might be back sooner than any of us hope.
No commuting tales for Tuesday. Was out sick and didn’t partake of the MARTA shuffle.
Side note – 311 was one of my favorite bands back in the day. Was always amazed that such a great band came out of Nebraska. That said, I never really felt “cool” enough to be a fan. Might need to dust of my old disks and get some of their tunes on my Ipod.
We've changed a lot and then some – some
You know that we have always been down - down
And if I ever didn't thank you - you
Then just let me do it now.
Good times, the 90s. And to think I never thought I’d miss them…I was very wrong about that.
Monday, October 5, 2009
As soon as I found out about it I planned to attend. Since the museum is less than a block from my office, how can I resist? That, coupled with the fact that the fee for the museum has been waived for today only, how could I pass it up?
As a DC native it still weirds me out when I have to pay to go to into museums. Growing up on the Smithsonian system of free knowledge I have gone through considerable culture shock as an adult. Really, in high school I’d sometime bail on school and head down to The Mall and stroll in and out of the various facilities. I’d venture to guess I learned just as much there (if not more) than I would have had I gone to class.
And don’t even get me started on zoos that charge entry fees. To this day I have been to exactly ONE zoo that had a cover charge..and it was by far the WORST ZOO I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. Even the animals looked bored…like being there was a total waste of their time too.
Anyway, kudos to The High for offering the free preview day. In this climate it’s the only way a lot of folks will get to see DaVinci’s sculptures. And BRILLANT idea to station a High employee (ie a worker from the Museum, not someone who is actually high) at the Arts Center Station during rush hour this morning to get the word out. In the words of Judge Smails, TOP NOTCH!
WL update: down 2.4 pounds
Friday, October 2, 2009
Of course it was a "good" lunch. Lasagna.
Why can't I ever leave the "bad" lunches on the train? Really, no one wants tuna fish...not even me and I packed it!
So, if you see some lasagna headed Southbound, you now know why.
And if you see a jaded soul in the Colony Square food court long about lunchtime frantically trying to find something to eat, you'll know it's me.
Anyway, Thursday means kickball. In addition to playing this evening, I also have to officiate another game. So my Thursday night homeward commute consisted of me reading the rules I’d have to enforce come game time.
Fear not fellow kickers, I am now down with the rules, such as:
- If a team has a 12 run advantage the losing team can request the mercy rule, which ends the slaughter.
- All ties between the runner and the fielder go to the runner. No duh.
- If a kicker kicks 4 foul balls he/she is automatically out. And finally,
- Advil should be taken early and often on games days. This is my own personal rule but given that all players appear to be in their late 20s to mid 30s, it is sound advice.
Now, let's cut to the action.
Our game was at 6:30. We got beat like a piñata. But we do seem to be getting better every game. BASKET CATCH!
I co-officiated the 7:30 game between Where's My Pitches At? and Extreme Misfits Predators. The game went fast, the teams were nice and Where’s My Pitches At? walked away with a big W…their 14 game losing streak now a thing of the past!
Our post-game/post-officiating outing at Charlie Mopps provided a rousing game of Flip Cup, good camaraderie between the teams, and a super cute waiter named Kevin who looks like Cappie’s (from Greek) older brother.
All in all, it was an awesome evening. I can’t wait for next week. Maybe we’ll even score this time!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
You know someone is wearing too much perfume when the entire train car is filled with the fragrance. I’m not sure which lady it was that bathed in her favorite scent and I didn’t really want to find out. I am just thankful we weren’t in an elevator. Or a Fiat. And that I was close to the train door so every once and awhile I got some fresh air. Let’s remember, sometimes less is more.
Sinatra songs always make me weepy. Why is that? Is it because the words speak to my heart on such a personal level? Is it the loveliness of his voice? Is it because they remind me of a long ago life with another big Sinatra fan? Is it because I‘ve never experienced the level of love, devotion and romance Frank sings about? I don’t think I’ll ever really know the reason…but this much I do know: tears won’t stop me from listening.