Friday, February 29, 2008

work in progress

Managing the "Debt"

Oopsie Daisy crops up with budget tracking everyoncenwhile which inspires me to keep an eye on mine, or procrastinate about it, whatev. And one thing we know is that your budget can blow away from you and spiral really really quickly. Because of the high apr's or I don't know, rampant eating out, gym memberships, netflix, buying new workout pants, shoes, gas, dental cleaning, trips to SF... Anyway, I rue the year 2000 when I moved to Chicago and life as I know it aka. free of debt, departed forever. Part of my subconscious desire to clean house is financial. Weirdly. A few months ago I downgraded my cellphone plan and started paying $5 for texts/and multi-media. Saved me $25 a month. Then my eyes blurred and I managed to not depress myself with the enormity of it (surprising), having doled it out in small non-scary digits... but I've spent the last month shuffling my creditcard debt to: citi 0%apr for one year then 10%. amex 5% for the entire time, and finally discover 5.9% until 2010. You can usually call them and ask if they can lower it, or just move it and the offers come pouring in bcs they want your money back- the devils. Wamu sucks the biggest ass. And I don't want to think about the transfer fees bcs I must tell myself that it's going to get lower and better and um, lower. Right? Ugh. Anyway, the last thing I've been hanging onto is my 24f gym membership. My monthly plan of $41.99 for the last 3 years, which I uh, charged to my card when I was $200 from max, and only partly employed. It was optimistic on my part. This rash though health inducing act has apparently wasted me $1600. Awesome. So today I charged $900 to my citi card with the 0%apr and started all over again- I got a new towel, and a new membership card, a tri-tiered box of vitamins and various nutritional bars, drinks and 4 free training sessions... and of course after 3 years @ roughly $25amonth. It goes to $50 annually ever there after. It's like a new day already. Sort of like when I took my ch5 test yesterday in French and true to the procrastinators code, once I faced failure I had only up to go, and it was as the cliche goes a silly refreshing breath of cool minty breeze. I even decided to apply for a fellowship. Sure it's due on the 7th but you already know why I haven't turned it in yet.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Procrastinators 101

There's lots of things I know and lots of things I don't know and as Confucious says: to know what you know and to not know what you do not know is the mark of true wisdom... or something. One of them is that I know I'm a procrastinator. While I was avoiding or rather um, "taking a break" from FrenchII I decided to look up and know what I did not know was: why do people procrastinate? And I was surprised to find via the magic of the internet that procrastinators aren't born but they are made. A certain proclivity here, a circumstance there and thus time wasters are born. Which I was happy to note was not because we're lazy, but perhaps depressed or paralyzed by a heightened sense of perfection. Which is something I don't normally accuse myself of. But it's totally true. Also I often feel overwhelmed by tasks, and am plagued with all-or-nothing thinking, and apparently secretly concerned about failing to met my own standards. Which are high-high-high. Sometimes. Also I don't take time to enjoy the process and am thus consumed with the end result. And also according to another article I don't want to face the feelings I experience when confronted with a particular task and I look for ways to avoid (netflix-watchnow feature) or distract (hello email). I now regret that I didnot place myself in cognitive behavioral therapy years ago...

I wish I procrastinated about things like: okay I tried to think of things but it's a hard trade off. So scratch that. I wish I didn't procrastinate about things that were important to me like: the blog book, my writing, my art, and various other awesome projects like weight loss, french and quilt making. Things I'm good at not procrastinating about: throwing away things, organization, bill paying (weirdly). Things I procrastinate about that I still don't care about: putting away dishes which is somewhat oxymoronic given my proclivity to organization.

Anyway things that help procrastinators stop procrastinating: lists, making small tasks out of the bigger more intimidating ones, change negative assertions into positive ones, aka just fucking do it already, dammit- or hurray I get to write from my soul today!

But anyway I write this because, hello, my name is Mendacious, and I totally procrastinate. Things I'm doing to cope: I write lists, I check things off my list, I'm list tastic. Things I need to improve on: being more positive, taking it one step at a time and not looking at the whole thing and freaking the fuck out, and as Pen might say, buck up little camper! Tomorrow is another day! And being okay with taking time to smell the roses. It's totally necessary.

So I've made my list for tomorrow and now I'm going to go watch Southpark and not even feel a bit bad about it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

nature vs. energy

Now that I have children (yes mendacious, you must accept it finally), I find myself thinking a lot about the issue of patience. I think that possibly I am a very impatient person by nature, and that it takes a certain level of energy and conscious (and conscientious) choice to act patient, which I am trying to do as much as possible, for the children. And me. And society. But I find it all very unfair that I have to try so hard. Why can't it just come naturally? Or why can't the person I really am, the person I am without trying, be good enough. I guess it's all about showing your kids you have a choice on how to act, which of course I'm very big on, and that in life they're going to be faced with negative emotions, and they must choose how they will handle them, blah blah blah. But it just makes me tired, keeping up that front, modeling all that annoyingly Good Behavior. Pretending that the moods and tantrums of other people don't phase or affect me. Remaining all upbeat. Why wasn't I born chipper? Why can't that be me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ah Ha! Watson.

oh thou beautiful oranges. i must quit you. i won't completely. i can't. but you according to the magic tooth cleaner (visited today, post dentist) is the why of the pitting and the erosion of the enamel. tragic. your acidic delicious bite. oh why must excess in everything little thing lead to unfavorable results. she said, cut back, but the eating away is still there nonetheless. and for that you'll always be tainted. sniff.


Sometimes, the book is better than the movie, and sometimes the movie is better than the book. I just Netflixed "The Nanny Diaries," and hmmm, yeah, the book and the movie were like, the same. I didn't finish either. I was jazzed about both initially, got a little way through each, felt increasingly icky about all the characters, and then couldn't force myself to go on. I'm not even sure why. With the book, I think I felt too much of a distance with the narrator? With the movie, though, you'd think having Scarlett Johansson as the main character would have helped a little, even if to make the movie a fluffy, enjoyable little chick flick. Not so much, though, and I have to say: vastly disappointed. Especially since the beginning was so promising, clever and energetic and colorful. Then that little kid started to get on my nerves, the parents behaved abominably, and Scarlett got a lot less quippy. Maybe the energy just fell flat in the middle, and I should have stuck it out to the end? But I've got a whole queue of stuff that looks so much more interesting, and I've got to move on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Well Anywayz, by M

There's nothing at all wrong with my teeth. Whatev. In fact he was impressed that my teeth were in such good condition after 7+ years of neglect. I have a no soda/coffee free habit, but what about this one right here?! The dentist said, well maybe it's your diet or you have a weak tooth. As if, I said. Then I said, little pits and missing tooth for no reason is freaking me out. He says, no don't freak out. Deadpan and could care less. But please do get xrays ($120) and a cleaning ($90)... sure I said, figuring that even though nothing at all was wrong with me, it was preventative maintenance and I totally had no desire to spend the rest of my refund on shoes or a new outfit. Then somehow the day sped by with a trip to Trader Joes, lunch with a fearless friend, yet another trip to the wee airport for another friend and then I went swimming... it felt decadent to be swimming at 11pm. But I loved it. The water was clear, and it was quiet, the silence deep down overwhelmed and maybe I thought I might dream tonight in French. It must be like a form of studying. The other night, in my dream, a prepatory boy spoke to me and I understood him perfectly. He said something about going somewhere- aller, (alleigh) (alleigh)... I answered back and he said, geesh you are just learning the learning the language. Uh yah, I said, I totally told you that already!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

HellstotheYah! LA PRIDE...

And the best tap water goes to ... L.A.?!
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

BERKELEY SPRINGS, West Virginia -- Their air might bring pollution complaints, but residents of Los Angeles drink the nation's tastiest tap water, according to the judges of an international competition.

International judges say L.A.'s tap water is the tastiest.

More than 120 water sources competed in the 18th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, held Saturday.A panel of 10 journalists and food critics sampled sparkling, tap and bottled water from 19 states and other countries, including New Zealand, Romania, Macedonia and the Philippines.

The title of best municipal water was shared by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves Los Angeles, and the town of Clearbrook, British Columbia.
Los Angeles won a gold medal in 1998 and has been in the top five in four other competitions since then, according to the competition organizers. "It means they give special care and attention to their water and how it is processed," said event producer Jill Klein Rone.The bottled-water trophy went to Tumai Water of Martinsburg, West Virginia, which donates profits to AIDS relief and water needs in Africa. Best sparkling-water honors went to Slavus Mineralwasser Medium of Emsdetten, Germany. Berkeley Springs, in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, is known for its own spring water. George Washington was among visitors in the Colonial era.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Wah, you guys. So you know my obsession with plucking my chin hair. It like, won't stop growing you guys... while I was on the phone hearing how my friend Kerry had some hellish tooth pulling, capping and crowning at her dentist, I rather fortuitously flashed my mirror over my not so pearly whites and I observed like a little bit of my tooth missing. It's not black or gruesome looking but just looks like pitting on my incisor and little bits of my tooth missing near the gum and other tooth, and not at the bottom either, and what's with it being in the front? I mean those are cavities right? Or rather thank god it was in the front? I don't even drink soda... okay except for the diet kind and I stay pretty clear of candy...

There goes my refund except I already spent it, but whatever. Unless it's nothing. You guys, tell me it's nothing. I totally floss! Like all the time! Okay not so good on the tooth brushing but stilllll. Come on. Why can't a girl avoid the dentist and no insurance for 7 years and something life like popup spontaneouly to foil her? I do NOT understand it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

girl scout cookies: issues

1. I swear they aren't as many in the box this year, especially the Thin Mints.
2. The Peanut Butter Patties seem smaller.
3. They don't last long enough in our house.
4. I forgot to order Caramel Delights.
5. I'll have to go to the table outside Wal-Mart to buy more.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

world's ugliest countertops: a photo salute

This post serves to both honor the world's ugliest countertop, and to bid it farewell. Within the next two weeks, it will be obliterated and refaced with granite tile. BLACK granite tile, which I believe is going to look super cool: glossy, starry, sharp. And I won't for a second miss the Emerald City countertop, the Green Mistake, the Vomitous Laminate Ode to the 70s or 80s or Plain Bad Sense. I invite you to look closely, not just at the hideous brushes of color, the smudges that won't go away, or the big and little cracks in the surface. Try and imagine the texture. Take in the places where it's worn away to leave patches of white. Behold its full, unsightly glory.

For the effect of a true Before Photo, just like the shabby clothes and bad makeup people wear before their makeover, I've left all our usual crap out on the counters, the dishes and the dirt and the pacifiers and the little plastic baby I found in a cake that's supposed to bring me good luck for a year. And the candy. Don't you think that candy's going to look so much better against a black granite backdrop? I think so.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

m's on a whim

so i was going to do all these arrows and diagrams akin to some enraged coach trying to explain the futility of his coming plays. but i got lazy and it would take too long in photoshop. this is the companion post of pen's on a whim. bcs not unlike cleaning out my closet, attic and artroom and burning all my unused candles the garden got its yearly freshener upper. except this time it seemed to take me weeks. and my knees started aching and my foot was complaining... and i had no desire to go all day until it was finished. i repotted things that weren't doing well, swept all the leaves and dirt blown inbtw the pots, drilled drainage holes in some pots, transfered plants here, there, everywhere, lugged them across the pavement, spinned, shuffled, chucked, and rolled my eyes at them. cut back the roses, turned the soil, planted all the bulbs and each day watched to see if they were sprouting, planted seeds, put up support wires, pulled weeds, moved rocks, reinforced the tool shed, bought more pots, 4 bags of soil.... and on and on and on. i don't know if lately i've ever been so traumatized at my need for an ordered world. sure the toil come spring will be worth it, when the grass is green and all the blooms are a'bloomin but good lord. i've got other things to do! i'm sure i'll be more impressed with my effort then. or at least thats what i'm going to tell myself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the last of the great candles

here we are. i found this candle in the closet. he'd been broken in half, and lived for over 12 years unappreciated. this weekend he finally lived up to his purpose though it was not without complaining and slight trepidation...

Monday, February 18, 2008

on a whim

I guess sometimes I don't even know I'm antsy until I take action. Today I rearranged our kitchen during naptime, but it wasn't at all premeditated. I couldn't have told you when I woke up this morning that today would include the following: Kitchen Rearrangement. Probably it won't stay that way too long, because we'll be adding a new cabinet in sometime this year, getting rid of the industrial-ish baker's rack, and it will all have to change again. But for now, the kitchen table has changed its orientation so that it's perpendicular to the deck doors, or I guess they're called "French doors," but that sounds so fancy for our house. Also, K.Lo's kitchen has been relegated to the downstairs play area, the butcher block has moved back to its original home, and K.Lo's table and chair set sits next to the counter. Unexpectedly, it opens up the room quite a bit, just like our recent living room rearrangement. To me, the rearrangement is successful if you look around and wonder how you lived up until that point, how your life wasn't utter chaos with your furniture arranged as such. Not that it won't change again, and give you the same feeling, rendering your former logic illogical.

I'm not even sure what overtakes me, or why. I've always been this way, always thinking in the back of my mind of how to improve? Or how to "settle" a space, iron out its uncomfortable quirks. And then suddenly I leap into action. Probably there is no "perfect" arrangement, just a better arrangement, or an arrangement with a different set of positives and negatives, and maybe at certain points in your life one arrangement will match better with what you require. I did this spontaneous rearranging with my bedroom growing up, with dorm rooms, and now with our own house, although I try to keep it to a minimum because unless it's something like the kitchen, where I can plausibly move the furniture myself, it becomes J.Lo's problem, not mine. Particularly where electronics and wiring are involved. And God forbid I change my mind again.

And then, I also do it on the blog, move the "furniture" around, i.e. the colors and layout, and drive mendacious nuts. Of course, after last month's mishap where I lost the entire sidebar in my Overzealous Quest for A Badass Template, I was self-banned from messing with it for a long time. Not that I care to, because um, look at it. It's awesome. And it was all done by m. The art, the colors and everything. Maybe someday soon she will come to my house and tell me what she thinks of my kitchen. That would be like, neat.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

attack geese of balboa lake

Okay, so I know we lost our super cool rythmn. Stella is going to get her groove back, it's just that writing in caps is fucking me up. So rather than archive talk I'll talk about yesterday. As you know I'm on a fitness kick, but meanwhile I have my friend Joanna handing me candybars, most likely so she won't ruin her svelte self and then another friend baking cookies. And then Danica promised to make me dessert, which among my favorites is this chocolate tort or tart? To die for. I had to tell her at church today, no. Sorry no. We at FatCamp Mendacious cannot take home an entire whatever it is because you don't want the whole thing in your house because you'll just eat it, either. Stop sabotaging me people. That's all I'm saying. So yesterday, I went to Balboa Lake. Any lake within the greater LA basin is not really a lake but a water resoivor. Some in use, some totally not, but either way. Anyway this one lays in a lovely flood plain, in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, and is flanked by the Sepulveda Dam, a Japanese Garden, an army reserve, a sports facility and an actual location to fly remote controlled planes and kites. It pretty much, almost has everything. It also has a slew of birds. And in particular a gaggle gang of killer geese. They were totally hissing at us and kicking a ton of people off the sidewalk until this old Asian lady took this book she had and gently hurded them off the sidewalk with a shushing, tsk sounding shuffle thing. It was awesome. Everyone else was just wide eyed and what the fuck are those birds hissing?! I can't believe they can hiss?! Why are they hissing. So the Asian lady shooed them and they just waddled and strutted back to the water. Meanwhile after meandering 2miles my left foot threatened to exile itself and I was like, whatever, I'm done- and my dogs were all panting and dehydrated and Bodo was all mad because he couldn't chase the birds or jump in the water. Though like, the geese, he was totally scared of the geese. And Zeppelin was like where the hell are we and who are these people and why can't I go back and sleep on the couch. Next time, I must try and get footage of the geese... and wear pants so I'm not secretly afraid that they'll bite me and make me bleed.

It Happens, Sometimes

Today, I stepped in dog shit, which I haven't done in a really long time. I hate it. I mean, who enjoys it, really, but considering we have two dogs and a fenced-in backyard, I am considered a High Risk for stepping in dog shit. It's a miracle I went as long as I did. I'm usually very careful, but there's all these leaves, and pine straw, and dried-out grass, and it's really hard to tell where the lawn ends and the shit begins. I was trying to clean it up with the scooper, so K.Lo and I could play in a larger area, but honestly, the amount of shit was just overwhelming, and so I stopped. Anyway, my biggest problem with stepping in dog shit is that it is so difficult to clean off the bottoms of one's shoes. I mean, do they put bubble gum in the dog food? Why is it so sticky? I was going to let the shit dry out in the sun so I could bang most of it off and move on with my life, but then the sky darkened and it looked like rain, and so I brought the sneakers in to clean off in the sink. I had to use a sponge, and a bamboo skewer. Probably I could have looked for an old sponge, but the kitchen sponge was right in front of me, so I used that. Don't worry, I threw it out. And even though I am fairly frugal, and that's a big waste of a sponge, I do shop at Costco for kitchen sponges, and I figure it was better to waste one of them rather than a pair of shoes. I'm glad they didn't have a deeper tread.

In other shit-related news, we bought a new baby swing today for N.Lo, and he blew out his diaper within 10 minutes of sitting in it. So I had to clean shit out of a baby swing today, too. And also off of N.Lo, who has a talent for filling diapers with copious amounts of the stuff. We don't even bother with wipes, he just goes right into the sink for a bath. Which can sometimes be difficult to manage, setting up the bath and stripping the child of clothes and messy diaper, all one-handed.

Other than that, it was a pretty good day! I'd tell you what I ate, but it doesn't seem appropriate in this context. At least I didn't have any run-ins with attack geese, which by the way, also have giant, unsightly shit.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The things I've been watching lately besides Weeds, SixFeetUnder, and stupid movies like Eagle vs. Shark is- I've been watching Jane Austen. It started innocently with the Masterpiece Theatre retinue of all Austen sundays. Which started with a charming and achingly lovely Persuasion, followed by less apt and too brief Mansfield Park, Northanger, the Firth version of Pride/Prejudice which I love the brooding Firth but Elizabeth? ehh, and of course the Thompson version of Sense/Sensibility (which I watched on AMC or something). Emma might be coming up next after the 2nd part of P/P tomorrow night... then of course maybe 6months before all of this was that silly movie called "The Jane Austen BookClub" and I hit it on the head then, how terrible all these couples coming together when in fact Jane was stricken in all her books of unrequiet. But then I thought maybe that's my issue... And then the BBC biopic of Jane Austens life which I thought heartaching and played well by Olivia Williams and to complete the cressendo Becoming Jane which was too long and lacking even if Anne Hathaway is idyllic. The whole time I'm thinking, oh, god but I know this one doesn't end happily! I don't know why the fuck all these movies have banned together to attack us now. It's a deluge. Surely there are other female authors we could learn about, come to celebrate?

That's hardly the problem though. I'm twitching with it. Why I've drawn them all into my circumfrence? God, I have no idea. It didn't finally hit me until watching Becoming Jane tonight. I had to remove the '95 v. of Persuasion from my cue. It's those fucking happy endings in all her books. The actual real brilliantly tangible unrequitted love that all her heroines suffer with. And then couple that with the actual facts about her life- marry Becoming Jane with the Austen Bio pic and we've got her 17-41... and she dies alone and by all biopic accounts though gutsy, independent and funny and sarcastic, even though she never traveled or saw anything of the world- she also dies sort of tortured and poor and hello ALONE, even if not full of regret and man. Fuck. And then her sister torches her letters. And each of these movies has just left me with a twinge of there is no happy ending and what we, I love about the books is the possibility of all well that ends well, and then yet no. You see that was her hope and love also as a writer- and it didn't happen. How can her books not echo both courses in her life. And maybe that's the disease of it. This indulgence in happily ever after, when in reality if we could face singleness here and now, today- it certainly isn't so life and death, even if it may or may not have been then- and might we, I face it better if we, I didn't have these books and things and movies to tell us otherwise. That to end up alone as the credits close is sad, so of course the more satisfying course is the wedding. Wouldn't we all pen it so?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Jumping back on

the blogwagon is hard.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Okay, so per my New Year's resolution, I do plan on having a large yard sale this year. I'm thinking late March, early April, I haven't really decided yet. The accumulation of crap for this yard sale is tucked in every spare corner of the guest bedroom and the laundry room, and also the shed. It's starting to make me tweaky, and I need to organize it better. I really just want it all gone. Last night, I had this random inspiration that I should just take the big bags of clothes I have and donate them. It's kind of a pain to sell clothes at a yard sale, to organize them and price them out and all, find a way to display them, etc. So I decide to take care of this, pronto, and last night I load up the three large, heavy trash bags into the car for this morning's errand run. In an even bigger flash of inspiration, I remember the clothes recycle bins that sit in the far, far corner of the Target parking lot. I don't know much about them--does anyone know where these clothes go? I probably should have looked into this further, but frankly these days, I don't have time to mess around. I figure whether they're actually donated to a good cause of shreded into bits and literally recycled, it's not a bad thing. The most appealing part of using the bins is convenience; not only are they right by Target, but I don't have to talk to anyone. Just drive up, drop off, and go. Leave the kids in the car. No dirty looks and bullshit, like they tend to give you at the ILM GCF.

The bins look harmless enough, just two giant blue metal boxes with pretty large openings. One bin's opening was larger than the other, and in fact it was kind of bent up, like someone had been extremely determined to cram something in there. I take the heaviest bag first and drop it into the bin with the bent-up opening, because I don't think it will fit in the other one. So I drop in the bag, and someone speaks. A man, with a deep voice, says OUCH!


There's someone in the bin! Sleeping? Homeless? Unfortunate frat boy? I mean, on a cold day, if there's nowhere else in the world for you to go for a nap, I would imagine a bin full of clothes wouldn't be a bad idea. Except that people do deposit there. And I had just done so, with a really heavy bag. My adrenaline kicked right in, not knowing what the hell might happen next. What if he started throwing shoes at me? Or even just shouting more at me. I'd probably pee my pants. I ran and grabbed the other two bags, managed to shove them in the other bin with the smaller opening, got in the car and booked it to Target. Laughing a little hysterically, of course. What would you have done?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

House Haze

So I was in an illogoical dark place for most of the day. A little too cold to work in the yard, nothing more to throw away or sort or organize, only a few more candles to burn. I did. Nothing to watch. That didn't stop me. The book we're writing didn't make sense, the words actually I couldn't even comprehend. There was lots of staring involved and muttering pointlessness and feeling bad about neglecting fiction. So then sometime around 4 of literally a day come and gone, I jumped up to go workout. I made my way to 24f and things seemed to make sense there. I read my book. I pedaled and ellipticaled, took a long hot shower and then came back to the house. All re-energized and ...

Why didn't I start my day this way? Can I have a do over? Even now I can feel the room sucking me back into an impenetrable fortress of gloom. Where the lists won't get done. Where the lists in fact become unimportant. And I spend much too much time staring out the window watching the mocking bird collect nest materials and the grass grow. And all the time in the world seems to be an insignificant thing. Or that it means too much, or not enough but either way I can't decide and I feel bad about both. Having it. Not having it. Too desireous to be productive but utterly unmotivated and feeling ruined and wasted as each day goes by and not capitilizing on the good fortune I find myself in. Not living mylife, spending too much time looking at it. When I need to start taking delight in things like the Millard Filmore soap commerical, or the scent of Fressia flowers in the morning, or the strike being over or the titillating end of Weeds:II, or my awesome car, or my awesomely organized room. And that it's okay to let go and watch the clouds. It's not a waste of time. Just-let-it-go. Let the breeze take you. For now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

move on, pen

I have plenty to blog about, but seem to be stuck in this inertia of trying to get whatever I need to be "settled," settled, before I do anything else. Except that it's never going to happen, so I just need to accept the fact and move on. There's a baby and a little person, and they're messy and they cry a lot. I need to clean them up and address whatever it is they need and not feel like it's a boulder I'm trying to climb out from under. I need to make lists and check items off the lists if that's what will keep me on track. Or forget lists, maybe I need a day, or every day, where I jump from life topic to life topic and just do what I can, start what I can, finish what I can. And hopefully not feel too scattered. Or maybe I just need to embrace "scattered."

Must: answer so many emails, read and comment on blogs, either clean up the dust in the cabinets, or forget about the dust in the cabinets until the kitchen's all done. Read my book, sort through pictures, catch up on magazines. Continue quest to watch one Gilmore a day. Exercise, maybe. Get in a shower. Say no to some things and yes to others. Reschedule appointments when the time alone stresses me out. Breathe a little. Change the channel. Focus on the moment rather than what's ahead.

Today I: got my haircut but haven't even looked in the mirror yet, not really. Took half a nap with K.Lo. Possibly resolved an irritating seller issue on ebay. Read through m's (exciting) first draft. Went to make potato soup and discovered I am lacking ingredients. Made pancakes and sausage for dinner instead. Thought maybe I should vacuum but didn't. Thought maybe the fish tank walls should be cleaned, but I didn't do that either. Received the new printer, but it's still sitting in the box. Revised a gift plan. Shut down my CafePress store because I can tell it's not going to work out. Fed the children. Diapered the children, made K.Lo sit on the potty a few times. Wondered when m might come to visit. Intended to look up skybus tickets, but haven't yet. Folded the world's most ginormous pile of laundry, ran another batch. Started reading EW. Ate some M&Ms. How anyone could see this day as unproductive, I don't know.

Monday, February 11, 2008

move on, m

Today I: am a small tin of slightly used lipbalm that has been dropped in a field recently, just slightly to the left of the path, in a mix of green and dry grass. A lady bug is crawling over the letter A.

Besides that- I totally have nothing to blog about. Like at all. I mean my keyboard letters are still worn away even though i've tried: white out, sharpie and silver permanent marker. Goodbye dear: E, A, S, I, O, L, M, N. Runners up are: K, D. But otherwise not a lot going on. I've hit on one of those strides where I'm tired of the things that are going on in my mind, so I'd rather ignore them. Clearly, the splinter I accidentally shoved into my nail bed is important or the fact that I looked really cute at church yesterday, but still, what my mind keeps playing over and over is: must escape country, must transfer balances, get shots for international travel, must escape country, look for job, don't look for job, find no jobs, get excited about the prospect of looking for jobs and finding jobs, find nothing, regret the need to work, regret the fact that i'm regretting the need to work, think about things to do in the yard, find things to throw away, burn more candles, eat right, go have a snack, go workout, study french, watch tv instead, make more lists, repeat process, think about friends and how they bug me, think about friends and how they make me happy, have a slice of crumbcake, eat orange, watch tv. Repeat process. Vow to stop thinking. Go work on blog book.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Contrary to all appearances, we have not gone mad over here at the Lo. household. Over the next few weeks, all kitchen cabinets will be refaced, the countertops and backsplash will be tiled, and the Lo. kitchen will become a whole new world. We owe it all to my parents (who made and painted the cabinet doors and will help install the tile), and our tax refund. So far: top cabinet doors ripped down, crown molding and cornice ripped down, horrible buzzy florescent light taken down, old crappy range hood taken down, cabinet trim sanded, fine layer of dust everywhere, cabinet trim painted, new cabinet doors installed, rad new pendant light installed, sparkly new range hood installed. Oh, and cleanup. I'm still working on that.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Minuit Thoughts

  1. I feel unemployable, right at this moment. There isn't a job I've searched on the boards that I've felt qualified for, enthusiastic about or slightly envious over. Surely there must be something.
  2. My skin is dry.
  3. I found another thing to give away.
  4. I flossed.
  5. Melting chocolate in hottea is great.
  6. Rain is wonderful.
  7. Stop me from things I don't need.
  8. Things I want to start: Read the Bible in chronological order (for kicks). Why it is not already in order I don't know. Study for French II. Sell R2D2. Shots for International travel. Check thyroid. Transfer balances. Go to zoo.
  9. My hair in curls with nowhere to go.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Considering what a wasteland TV is these days, J.Lo and I were especially excited for this new season of Survivor, Fans vs. Favorites. I kind of love the premise, for as much as it rips off the RW/RR Challenge's Fresh Meat. Ten fans vs. ten favorites, which, let's be honest, aren't really favorites. I mean, some of them are great, including JAMES and Yau-Man, and maybe even Ozzy if we're feeling charitable. But they were kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel with some of the others, maybe it's just me.

Jonny Fairplay is on this season as well, except that he's not anymore, because he was already voted out. I'm so disappointed. I most looked forward to seeing what sort of shit he'd stir up, and also his interactions with Jeff during challenges and tribal council. Maybe Jeff has some level of affection for JF by now, but mostly, I think he hates him. And I love that he hates him. My favorite part of tonight's episode was at the beginning, when JF acknowledged that he was trying to dress like Jeff (awesome), and Jeff snarked back how he understands that Jonny would want to win some money and (burn) move on from his current life situation. Which is that...

JF is reproducing. Or has already reproduced. No wait, it gets better!! ANTM fans, note! He is having or has already had a baby with Michelle from Cycle 3! Flesh-eaten Michelle! It's craziness! Although they do both have an affinity for wrestling, so maybe it's not that much of a stretch.

Anyway, Jonny, in his "my teeth aren't really fixed yet from my recent body-slam incident with Danny Bonaduce" glory, played the "I'm worried about my unborn child" card. Except it wasn't really clear whether he was playing the card to throw certain alliances for a loop and get someone else voted out, or if he was being genuine and really wanted to leave the game. I think probably he himself didn't know until he actually got voted out, and then he decided to go with genuine. Whatever. Who can really get an accurate read of JF. I just hope the rest of the season will be interesting, which it seems to have much potential for, with all these weird love connections heating up.

Will Amanda and Ozzy be the next Amber and Boston Rob? Or what about Parvati and James. Is James just having a good time, because seriously, Parvati seems like a bit of a flake for him to seriously consider her. And who will cram their foot further down their throat, Eliza, or that crazy new lady with the pigtails. So many pressing issues, so few episodes to address them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Arizona in my Mind

I was going to hold off until I got a better scan of it but this will have to do for now. I love this photo. It is currently my most favoritist photo of right this moment. And it's even better cuz i'm in it. There are surprisingly not many photos of my brother and I together and even less where we are so epically posed. I found it while I was going through a trunk full of photos from 1977 onward, that my mom has NEVER put in albums, and is only because of me that they are now centrally located and NOT dispersed thru the house in various drawers, stacks, dusty boxes and bundles. If you are this person, stop immediately. Either honor your memories or stop the pretense. Digital files are even worse because who ever looks at those and are they organized by year and month and outing?!. Sure it's cute and like loose, devil may care, when you're in your 20's but not unlike hanging on to vesitages of youth into your 40's and 50's it's seriously just irritating. Okay, I'm cranky. It took me 2 years to organize my grandmothers photos and she had over 20ALBUMS. (aka not thrown in a box disorganized)... So in my last organizational fit (they occur very often) I began to go thru the photos because why not start now opposed to when I'm medicated and single and old and my mom isn't there anymore. You don't need photos of car shows or flower shows or faded zoo photos. Is all I'm saying.
It's beginning to effect my own photo efforts as now I am slowly behind- I can see it happening to me. I know I'm not immune. And I appreciate that my family loves to take pictures and I also take pictures of zoo animals and flowers and sunsets and trees and my cats- I can't stop myself. So maybe this post is a word of warning to me. But also an encouragement. There is after all a story you're creating. Photos are not idle. They're interpreted. They radiate impressions, and eras and class and disposition and you can only hope that when you die somebody might look on an album or a particular photo as something like personal and historical archeology- something that makes you laugh or cry or any myriad of human emotions I haven't the inclination to describe.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

about the cataracts

So last week, J.Lo found out he has cataracts. Frankly, I thought he was joking when he told me, because although he IS ancient, 36 years years of age and cataracts seems unheard of, right? I've looked into it just to make sure, and it kind of is.

While I am virtually blind without my contact lenses, J.Lo has had no eye problems his whole life, has never had to wear glasses or have regular eye exams. The children should hope that they get his genes for eyesight, except not really, because now he has cataracts. Recently, he has had a lot of headaches over his left eye, which we simply chalked up as The Tumor, and/or K.Lo's tendency toward high-pitched, incessant repitition. But then it started to make sense that someone who looks at a computer all day and reads a lot and has gone over 30 years without glasses might need to make an eye appointment. So he did, and he does need glasses, but he also has, freakishly, cataracts in his right eye. Or is it "cataract," if we're talking about just one eye.

Cataracts progress quickly, and once they occur in one eye, the other usually is soon to follow. So eventually, he will need surgery for both eyes, have both lenses replaced. The surgery sounds scary and grotesque and, to a person such as myself who is completely sensitive about eye issues and formerly traumatized from having to play Bombardment in gym class without glasses, like a true nightmare. J.Lo is generally unphased, to which I say, Better him than me. They'd have to knock me with a baseball bat out if they wanted to stick a needle in my eye and shatter my lens with ultrasonic waves. Or whatever it is they do. It's something like that. The very thought of it makes me hyperventilate a little.

This surgery is pretty common at this point, and I'm not too worried about the results, other than that my father had a similar surgery once to replace his eye lens, and they messed it up, and now he has permanent glaucoma. I can't really worry too much about that, I just have to hope to hell they know what they are doing and they do it right. What bothers me more is that the surgery is commonplace, yes, but it's commonplace for OLD PEOPLE. And J.Lo is not old. So this leads me to the real issue, the question of why. Why does he have cataracts now, at this age. It could be in his family history, some long-lost relative with thirtysomething cataracts. It wasn't an eye injury, it wasn't all those steroids he took back in the 90s. Sometimes things just happen, but with something so odd, I can't help but think about it and obsessively research it until I settle on an answer. Probably I won't get one.

The other thing that bothers me is that yes, there is a relatively simple solution to this problem, one that will be obtained once the problem gets bad enough for insurance to cover. (A note to Swing State: Which candidate is going to come up with a health care plan that doesn't require people to wait until they are half blind before getting surgery? Please advise.) But I get all panicky considering that if we didn't happen to be living in this day and age and time and place, there wouldn't be a solution, and then J.Lo would go quickly blind, and wouldn't be able to drive, work, or just plain SEE. See me, our kids, our dogs, nature, TV, EVERYTHING. Mendacious has pointed out that I shouldn't be so fatalistic, that obviously blindness is commonplace enough and I should know his and our lives would not be over. But still. It makes me tear up just a little. Then again, if we weren't living in this time and place and day and age, I too would be walking around blind, or even just having to wear the most hideous glasses on the planet, instead of contact lenses, which for some of us can be emotionally traumatizing.

Clearly, I just need to accept the circumstances as they are in front of us: it is what it is, and there is a solution. And I should be--I am--grateful for that. But still. CATARACTS.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

hello new day, by m

In a rare show of family solidarity I dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly hour and voted. My mom handed me the ballot measures, bubbled in yes/no for how they would be voting, whispered that she disagreed with my father on one of them. Check. Duly noted. I scanned them over, mumbled a few questions and only felt slightly bad i was not informed going into primary like i should be, because I have parents who will tell me what's what. Sure it was light out and normal people might be getting up for work but man... I got back in the car, whining, oh god, as mom clapped, literally, and said, Yea! Family outing! We all voted! Hurray!! (Oh god mom, stop.) She walked out of the place with 3 stickers. (Roll eyes). Then I mercilessly dismissed her outfit and told her she needed a new celebratory dance. I am an awful cranky person. But my mom, she was surprised that someone so sleepy could pull together a coordinated outfit. Thanks mom. Even so early she couldn't be the least bit snarky only gleeful and complimentary. And then I told my dad I was voting for the would be destroyer of the conservative movement... nah, just joshing i'm totally going for the "mormon"I said. I'm waiting for Swing State to tell me more about him so I will feel either a. validated by my decision or b. horrified, though his nickname of Count Chocula seems a bit biased.

Of course in our blog book our political voices... um, get deleted. Since this is something Pen and I rarely talk about and if only very politely. Pen is consiliatory and I am musing which is a testament to how much we write to each other with TenderLovingCare. But we can take it, our more brazen grr feelings. But then it's like watching the news and neither of us like our blood pressure raised or our anxiety levels. Which is why I'm not totally shocked when after posting about my ennui she posts about tv. Though reading them out of context it's actually quite abrupt and shocking. Like woh what. it's like a dose of buckuplittlecamper. But then I remind myself we're really not one brain even though reading the mass of pages it seemed to me we were. And I still sort of forget/am freaked out by the fact she has kids. I saw a picture of her on her "other blog" and I squinted and went do I know her? There she is, having all these life experiences without me. The nerve!

So now i'm up waiting for the sun to reach the garden bed where i'll be working. And I start French II TODAY.

(The caps thing is still a serious problem. I had to correct the entire paragraph above. And my spell check is totally NOT working.)

well, damn.

Sometimes, gravity just wins? I mean, this shelf has been up for man, I don't know, a year and a half? I can't even remember when we put it up, and J.Lo is pretty darn methodical with hanging things on the wall. Minutes after lunch today, there's this big crash and the sound of glass shattering. N.Lo is down in the den in his swing, and all I can think is please whatever is, don't let it have landed on the baby?! It didn't, thank heaven, but I can't tell you how much this couch, in all of its ghetto glory, gets used during the day. Mostly by the dogs, but J.Lo plays video games there, K.Lo watches movies there, I've been known to nurse the baby there. It just would have been bad, had any of us been there at that moment.

It was a cool purple vase that was shattered to bits and pieces, as well as a big globe-y candle holder filled with red hots for V-Day. There's my Martha Stewartness being smashed to pieces. And can I also just thank Baby Jesus that I recently purchased a dustbuster to try and clean up all this mess? Although I think I have glass in my hand, and I worry about errant shards being discovered months later in a most unsurreptitious manner. That happened to me once. I'm glad I haven't been feeling very symbolic lately; otherwise, this incident might have bothered me more.

Monday, February 4, 2008

true to form

But mendacious, I'm so proud of you for using the caps. It will help us in the long-run, and save us from any capitalization-related tantrums.

Okay, so another one of our findings while on hiatus is that I, Penelope, tend to shy away from Serious Life Matters and blog about TV instead. I hide behind reality TV in the face of what's really happening. I know. It's shocking. In fact, I have even "responded" to some of mendacious's more serious posts with TV posts, maybe to lighten the mood, or to passive-aggressively protest the discussion of real life issues?

On the other hand, mixing fluffy pop culture items in with more serious tidbits is (I think) part of what makes our blog interesting and fun. So I don't plan on stopping with the Survivor assessments, the ANTM recaps, the Penelope Must Lists. We certainly don't want to be All Maudlin, All the Time, now do we?

Case in point: I found out last week that my husband, J.Lo, has cataracts in his right eye, probably soon to be followed by the left eye. Cataracts! Surgery and everything. In the past, I might have totally foregone a thoughtful post on the matter, completely leaving Blogdom in the dark and saving nothing at all for posterity. I probably would just blogged about the ridiculous and yet highly entertaining episode of Celebrity Apprentice that we watched over the weekend. But now, all the wiser to my defense mechanisms and seeing the error of my ways, I will blog about BOTH. Soon. Give me a break, I've got two very high-maintenance children to attend to at the moment.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Spare Time

This is what I mean when I claim I haven't been productive. Over the last 2 months I've been systematically melting down all the candles I haven't used for years and I melted them all over the living room table. I've gotten good at making wicks out of matchsticks, pine, and general debris like magazines and matchstick covers. It's amazing how wax feeds and subdues the flame. And all the candles passing in and out of existence... There has been some flooding... onto my sweatpants, mostly the floor, once my dog Bodo. He was sleeping, didn't sense the wax flood starting at his chest hair. I finally just a few days ago was able to break it down to the last white candle- a small island, and throw the rest away. Hours upon hours, movie after movie, obssesively directing the rivers and building up the bonfires. I can't tell if this exercise was beneficial or destructive when the time produced something so intensely brief and temporal. There is after all very little left.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


You think just because we come back on a friday means were going to blog on the weekend?! I guess. Sure okay. For you guys- since we've been gone so long. Currently the Mariachi music is blaring and mom has called the opcays. You see going through (It's murder trying to write with caps by the way.) the blogs has taught me that somethings never change. Other things, god i can't fucking concentrate. It's too much. Who cares really. Pen needs to finish her edit and I need to finish my website and I've already gone through all the boxes in the attic, which seems to have developed into an annual tradition. I got rid of one box, have a giant poster of darth maul and a life sized carboard replica of r2-d2 which need a home. Anyone? I'll take pics later. I don't know why but i'm compelled to go through every box i have and look for things to throw away or put back out. Thrown: red pants, a fake street sign "merecedes strasse", a plate with embossed angels on it, 2 empty lemonade bottles, a hideous sweater from "your parent's 80's christmas party", hideous plate from turkey, beach mat, old brown box alarm and radio... Kept out: small basket, chinese balancing balls, guatamalan coin. Now i can get back to more serious things like complaining about my sore foot, and charging up my credit card and boring you with pictures of hikes and goodness knows what, maybe tea or old BBC shows like Sapphirre and Steel and the fact that the letters on my keyboard are wearing away.

Friday, February 1, 2008

findings, by m

Good Afternoon. We apologize for deluging you with words after a month gone. And with no flashy new spins or whistles. The second week we were gone my heart got all achy for the blog. But then as with most neglected things I upped my netflix que, started drinking and tried to fill the hole with anything but words. By now I'd been so long away that I couldn't remember what it was to blog or why and I drank less and started working out more. Then I started getting twitchy and as pen and I phrase it "spirally" as in downward because having now been out of work for a month not all my problems were spontaneously fixed, not all the things on my list were crossed off, and things were stacked up high in my mind and i couldn't quite see my way clear to be excited about the blog or to study for french and all i watched was MurderSheWrote. Pen insists my malaise might be due to watching copious amounts of SixFeetUnder but I insist that my mom not having life insurance is up there along with my dad being an asshole along with the kitchen and the bathroom being a shithole along with it being winter along with our book not being finished or me not wanting to work or my waistline or my age or my single status or well just about everything i could suck into the dark matter vortex. Because one thing like not working might be the event but all these other things become echoes until the horizon is chalk full of a whiny gooey mass. Though the upside of rain is that the drought is over and that the paint that got into my hair is water soluble, i think... and that the sun is out before you know it and Spring around the corner. Just writing that in this little form makes me feel all sorts of grounded and normal. I can feel myself being more productive already.

january, by pen

Someday, I may or may not blog about the following. It's some of what I would have blogged about in January. Maybe someday you'll be treated to an explanation, maybe you will not.

-One day while it was raining, a teenaged boy, possibly deranged, likely just stupid and teenaged, walked backward down the street for several long paces until I could see him no more. Our corner is apparently a magnet for crazies.

-I wear socks inside the house with no slippers or shoes. Does anyone else do this and also, as a result, have exceptionally dirty-bottomed/holey socks? What is acceptable Sock Protocol. Or am I a total Sock Slob.

-I haven't really been exercising consistently as I aspired to after having Baby 2. But, I don't feel like a complete lump, I'm not eating total crap (only intermittent crap with several bouts of fruit), and so I don't feel too terrible about it? I would like to tone up. I'd like to do more aerobics. But I read once that Kate Winslet, who is beautiful and lovely, is not consistent with her exercise either, that she just does it when she has the time/drive, and so at the moment I am content to subscribe to this same philosophy.

-I saw "27 Dresses" with Mel, incidentally while the boys went to see "Rambo," and I loved it. In one scene, Katherine Heigl is ferociously cleaning her dishes, and says something about harnessing her chi. Perhaps this is what I am going for when I clean to make myself feel better, to reestablish control in some twisted way? Maybe I can just euphemism it all and now say I am harnessing my chi. I've blogged about this topic before, but I can't find the post to link it. Probably you wouldn't have looked at it anyway.

-Heath Ledger died. Mendacious commented that this is a terrible waste of hotness, and I have to agree. It's also just a terrible waste of talent and life.

-We needed to replenish our fish population, as we were down to maybe 9 fish. I swear I don't even see them die anymore, they are just one day dead, eaten, obliterated, and recycled into fish poo. But whatever. Anyway, I bought 5 new sunfire or sunset or sun-something-whatever Platy-whatsits from this guy at Petco who talked exactly like Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock. I mean seriously, if Jack McBrayer had longer, darker hair and worked at Petco in ILM, he would have convinced me to buy all 4 of the one type of fish so one wouldn't be left behind--and then accidentally scoop up another variety and convince me it was entirely okay for that one to be in our tank all by himself. Does he get commission from fish sales? Does he know that he has completely contradicted himself on the subject of so-called fish loneliness? I know not. Anyway, the fourth Platy-whatsit that Kenneth the Petco Fishmonger made me buy died, but I can't even bring the body back for a refund because of course it has disappeared.

-Paige is coming back to "Trading Spaces." Fired 3 years ago, and then invited back by new execs. I never really was on Team Paige, but as I haven't watched "TS" in a long time and suddenly Paige is back, I'm feeling nostalgic and might reconsider.

-The Writer's Strike isn't over. There's a few new good shows on, such as "Breaking Bad," but mostly, TV is a wasteland. There was a really great Strike Survival Guide in EW Magazine. I would have talked about that, if we were still in January.

-Katie Holmes is a vapid, Stepford-wifey space cadet, as fully apparent in a YouTube clip mendacious sent me. I was in denial, hoping she'd snap out of it, but now I'm just completely disappointed and missing Katie of yesteryear.

-Mendacious told me at some point in our project discussions that I have true talent for repression. I'd like to discuss this someday... something about the duality of my snark. I have notes on the matter. But it's not January anymore. So all I can provide is a Maybe and a Someday and a We Will See.

It's good to be back.

findings, by pen

Hello BlogNation,

We're back. We missed you! I might have missed you more than mendacious, I can't be sure. My compulsion to share all the boring details of my life only increased over the past month, whereas mendacious still seems hesitant? But this yin-yang-i-ness is typical of what we found while kickstarting our book project(s). Rest assured that in a month's time, I won't be able to think of something to blog about for the life of me, and mendacious will be all about it.

What we did during our hiatus: mendacious compiled all of our brilliant blog posts from the past 3+ years and whittled them down to something readable. Which means she read it all and was able to get a sense of our progression, and note themes, threads, and startling facts such as my apparent absence during 2005. It's really not that startling to me, because I know where I was and what I was doing, mainly puking my green guts out while pregnant with K.Lo and working at the evil corporation of VZW. And buying a house, moving into that house, and not blogging. After initial edits, mendacious passed along the blog copy to me, so I can read it, and I'm still reading. I know, it's sad, but we're talking about nearly 600 pages here, and I'm a slow reader, and hello, I have an infant and a toddler and a husband to tend to. Excuses, excuses.

Here is what we have accomplished: I think there are a few long narrative projects hidden in our blog, and this year it is our goal to develop them. My personal opinion (please weigh in) is that mendacious' job saga in particular is worth persuing, and she needs to pluck all job posts, dump them in a Word document, and take a good look. Also, mendacious and I will be working on a project together, as we have always dreamed of doing (like for real), by creating sitcom-like episodics from our blog matter. Because we are TV junkies, this project truly matches with our sensibilities, and will in fact be an homage to our favorite show forms. Does that sound all full of hot air? But no, seriously, picture it: a book featuring the characters of mendacious and penelope, with their (mis)adventures presented like a TV show, a three-act structure, and then End Scene. The blog-matter will provide the material for these episodes. You're so jealous.

You can think it's stupid if you want to, or overly ambitious, or still lacking a hook. But really, it's going to be a lot of fun, in the way that it will play with form and also (most importantly) celebrate us and our lives and our friendship, and also you, our BlogNation.

Here's what else we found:

-In the old days, mendacious and I struggled a lot to find our blog voice. Many times, and still to this day, we wrote a lot of stream-of-consciousness mumbo-jumbo, oftentimes in all lowercase. We're going to try to quit that. For the masses' sake.

-We also struggled very much in the beginning, in our Post Grad-School Purgatory-Like Existence, with the legitimacy of blogging, and whether it really "counted" as writing. Or at least I struggled. By now we (I) know it does, at least the way we do it.

-Mendacious and I used to blog back and forth a lot, each with a different spin on the same topic, and/or like we were having a conversation. We'd like to try and do more of that, from here on out, because it's fun, and because we are co-bloggers, after all.

-Some of our early blog posts could have been written yesterday, and some of them seem 10 lifetimes ago. This realization was shocking, and kind of sad, and kind of comforting all at once.

-Especially in the beginning, but still to this day, hardly anyone comments, and we both find this frustrating, mainly because we are complete narcissists and attention whores. This lack of readership and appreciation is really beyond our control, however, and we realize we need to get over ourselves. To some extent. Not really.

There are more blanks to be filled in regarding our absence, what we did, where we went, what we learned, and where we are now. But I will leave those blanks to mendacious for her return post--mainly because it is late, and my mind is mushy. See how that works, though, setting up the perfect lead-in for m?

For now, we are back, we are refreshed, we are ready to go.

Now, who wants to talk about the Gauntlet? Yeeeow!