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Name: Justine
Location: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Justine, is a little bit more than you'd expect. This is where you are supposed to put your "elevator speech". What you'd say if you were in the elevator with somebody you wanted to connect with. I don't have an "elevator speech". If I ran smack-dab into one of my "heroes" I'd just have to smile and be polite and keep my yipper shut and that's probably for the best anyway!

Monday, June 30, 2008
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
Saturday night I did something really silly. Not good silly, just “should have known better” silly.

I phoned up my ex.

When I say ex, I don’t mean ex-husband. Nobody has been insane enough to take that step with me. But “W” was as close as it gets. We were together for fifteen years. We suffered through times when we were so broke we couldn’t pay attention. At one point, even with both of us working full time, we lived in a house that the city wouldn’t condemn because they knew we didn’t have another roof to live under. In the winter time we kept from freezing by using a kerosene heater that we turned off when we turned in for the night. It took both of us, a pile of comforters and a Samoyed mixed breed dog to stay warm. “W”s mother kept us fed by inviting us over for dinner every night. Between the dog and “W”s mom, we stayed alive.

It sounds very Dickensian and horrible looking back. But it wasn’t. It was probably the happiest time of my life. I was young and strong and madly in love. If “W” had been in Minot North Dakota, I’d have been there with him. And I would have been just as happy. We would have had to buy a sled team of dogs to stay warm, but it would have been ok.

It’s that kind of love you can have only one time in your life. It was love before broken hearts, career decisions, mortgages, and thousands of traumas and decisions that rain down in life. For whatever it was, I remember that I went to sleep at night wrapped in the arms of someone that loved me. I can remember laying in the darkness of our tumbledown house with the dog and “W” snoring away on the bed beside me.

The wind would rattle the windows of the old farm house so hard, we’d have to chink them in place with folded food box cardboard. The snow would drift up in front of the door so we’d have to go out the back and come around and dig out.
For all the snow and cold weather, and the broiling hot summer days and nights, and all the peanut butter sandwiches and all the crazy check kiting to survive, I knew then that I had what I wanted most out of life. I loved and was loved.

Looking back I think sometimes I was crazy to have left. But I had to. “W” had family scattered close by, he had a support system to fall back. All I had to fall back on was “W” and he was struggling to stand himself. I had a college degree and couldn’t earn enough in our Podunk little town to keep a tiny Toyota on the road. I got a chance to work in a large computer center in a city 120 miles away. I took it. I took it before we both got exhausted. Exhausted of living below the poverty line, of living off his family, or struggling to keep the electric turned on.

I had hoped when I made the jump and got my own place in the city, he would follow. But he never did. He couldn’t find it in his heart to leave his family’s embrace. I couldn’t blame him and I couldn’t follow him.
That was twenty years ago last February. He and I have remained friends. When I bought my house a year ago January, he was the first person I called.
Last weekend I unpacked the last box and put the last item in place in my house. My home. The first real home I’ve had in all those twenty years. Without realizing I reached out for the other thing I haven’t had for real in twenty years, love. Somehow the hardscrabble college brat in me called up “W”s house looking for the guy he used to be. What happened is “now me” spoke with “now him”. I realized half way through the call, “We, of that time, are no longer.”

I’ve mourned that for the last three days. I sit here with tears in my eyes. I miss that crazy girl. I miss that Bantam Rooster guy. I miss what is gone and can never return again.

I look at the now uncertainly. I have central heating and air conditioning, a pension plan, a car, and a beautiful home. What I still don’t have is a companion in life, a lover, and someone to hold me tight when life scares the bejeezes out of me. I’m all grown up now, I’m supposed to be rational, but on this one I’m putting all my faith in heaven. Dating at my age is like a minefield. Everyone is so afraid of being blown to bits that they walk around in armor and make snap judgments. Nobody gets to really know anyone. Most just stay home. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life playing barstool roulette. I don’t want to spend the rest of it spending Saturday night watching Top Gear on television. (As much as I enjoy watching Mr. May, Mr. Hammond, and Mr. Clarkson drive cars that make me drool.) I have no clue what adults these days do. Like I said, on this issue I’m going to have to trust God. He sees what we need before we do, he moves the good things in life into our path. Years ago he introduced me to a guy in green OP corduroy board shorts and a fuzzy white dog. I’m holding on to see who he introduces me to next.

Apologies for the melancholy. I suspect I could have rendered some bone rattling essay out of this situation, but I’m way too close up to have any objectivity.
Below is a poem by Pablo Neruda that captures how I feel about “W” very well.

Tonight I Can Write
By Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

translated by W.S. Merwin

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Another Tricky Day
“This is no social crisis, just another tricky day for you.”
~The Who

“Down like a dog that’s been beat too much, till you spend half your life just covering up.” ~ Bruce Springsteen

Ok. I’m at a scratch point here. I’ve hit another grind. Writing about a grind is not fun, nor is it exciting to read about. All people can really agree on is that when you hit a point where you have to grind out work and hang on until you get to the next phase is that it sucks.

Sucking and Fluid Dynamics were mastered by Bernoulli. My old buddy Bernoulli, who explained what gazillions of Ocean City tourists couldn’t figure out. (Especially when rainwater flooded the streets of my home town at the beach.) When a volume of fluid is forced through a smaller diameter pipe, it must speed up. Bernoulli didn’t explain tides, somebody beat him to it. During rainstorms of a hometown long ago, tourists would go berserk when rain would flood the streets. Baltimore newscasters would be on television predicting the apocalypse.

We locals knew that the storm drains rain directly into the ocean. We knew when the tide went out, the ocean would suck everything down the drain. It would suck like a champion. It would suck cans, trash, bottles, coolers, small dogs, and anything else it could get hold of into the concrete drains and out to sea.

Tides, being what they are, locals would wade down to the corner bar and have a few beers until the tide turned. Tourists would start demanding hotel refunds that they weren’t going to get.

Of course, we were less upset then the tourists because our cars weren’t flooded to midway up the doors. We’d planned ahead and put our cars up out of the street onto high ground. .

Bernoulli being as he may, I’m hoping that this beastly sucking section of work I’m doing now will speed up and get down the drain.

I found out on Friday that it may be weeks before I get an interview for the job over at NCC. I’ve also found that after that it may take several months before I get an offer or get a turn down notice.

Since I am, metaphorically, flooded with run off up to midway my doors, I’m finding this very hard to wait out.

That is not the fun, frolic, and silliness I had intended for the blog these days.

However, coincidence will out. This afternoon as I cracked open my copy of “Notes From The Hard Shoulder” what should appear beneath my thumb but an essay by the esteemed James May on roadways and the Bernoulli principal.

Mr. May believes that when one lane of traffic is closed for repairs, the other lanes must speed up to maintain the flow. This is a practice we observe on the beltway, even though it is illegal. Road work is done at night, but the barricades are left up during the day. So rush hour, rushes through the empty worksites.

No those are not blaze orange scuffs on my front bumper!

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I Was Born To Cruise
Me! One long ago summer, strapped in and ready to take a drive. I had on shoes! That's all Maryland state law requires. Who cares if I couldn't see out the windshield?

Toasty Warm

I found this photo the other day while I was getting the guest room ready for company. If you've got a photo of you in a car with only your panties on, you should post it. Right?

Below: A naked James May drives an air conditioner-less Aston Martin through Europe in the summer. (The windows didn't fully open either!)

Toasty Warm

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Saturday Night Playlist Playing Around
Click on the Rhapsody Playlist below and get a sample of tonight's musical selections at the Tuxedo Inn.

You need a Rhapsody account to listen. Rhapsody offers a free account so you can listen to playlists posted here. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!

1. Perfume - Sparks
2. Brand New Cadillac - The Clash
3. Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream
4. Adagio for Strings - Samuel Barber

"Perfume" is a catchy ditty I heard for the first time this week.

"Sunshine of Your Love" is dedicated to "You Know Who You Are".

None of these songs is dedicated to the esteemed Mr. James May. (You didn't think I'd give up on that so soon did you?)

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Crinkly Adaptor Plugs & Cherries
It’s Friday again. Praise to the almighty creator.

I need this Friday like I need air.

It’s been a bumpy seven days at the Tuxedo Inn. Last night I had to call in the big guns and get a shamanic whack-o’-energy to get out of the funk. This morning, I suspect I’m still a few gigawatts low on power.

At work, the gentleman in the next cubicle is a wonderful, gentle spirit. We always exchange garden updates and “Happy Friday” smiles. This morning he shook my hand in congratulations for toughing out another week. When our palms met, a dry-hot bolt of energy shot from his hand to mine. Unintentional Reiki. At least unintentional on my part. A universal jump start.

I needed it too.

I suspect the oft mentioned and highly esteemed Mr. James May would think Reiki a “great load of tommyrot”. A great many people do. If I were to have to defend my stance on Reiki, I would say that it is like plugging your cell phone into the charger. Except it is done without the “crinkly” transformer wires that Mr. May despises.

Thinking of the body as a great machine, like a Rolls Royce, I surmise there are times when the electrics are on the fritz. Sometimes the alternator isn’t working right, or the battery is low on water, or perhaps you’ve just left the parking lights on for six hours. Perchance that person you just broke up with has had their “sociopathic behavior generator” plugged into your auxiliary power. Whatever the cause, your own electrical system hasn’t charged you up.

Some helpful people in this world are like giant trickle chargers. They have the knack for putting their minds or their hands on you and passing along current from the great generator of the universe.

Everybody has met somebody who sucks the life out of them. Bosses, coworkers, former lovers, and the list goes on. What most people don’t get to find out is there are people who put some of that life back in you.

Now for an abrupt transition.

As I write this, I have just sampled the first cherries of summer. Each year they seem darker, sweeter then the year before. I bought cherries when I went out for lunch. The line at the fast food drive through was so long, it was easier to go into the grocery store next door. I came back with a sack of groceries and cherries. Five dollar a pound cherries. They are worth every penny.

Summertime, sunlight, beach days, oscilating fans murmuring, the smell of the ocean, the sound of the sea gulls, lush green leaves on a thunderstorm breeze, all these things are distilled into the dark sweet cherry. They wait for me to taste them and be recharged with the joy that is summer.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Head Games, JuJubes, Car Crashes & James May
Jeremy Clarkson wouldn’t like me. I’m endowed will all his un-favorite American things. I have “American Teeth”, crowns abound after a nasty little accident that took out my fronters a while back. I am technically old enough to be Kiera Knightly’s mother. I drive on the wrong side of the road.

To my credit I do not have “ridiculous plastic tits” or wear “ill chosen g-string “ swimsuits.

But, to my utmost detriment, I do drive a very average American car.

Yesterday’s post brought me my copy of “The World According to Clarkson”. His writing is as brash as his television persona. He’s painfully honest and funny. But he seems to hate Americans. Luckily for him, he lives in the U.K. and doesn’t have to suffer us everyday.

That is a real shame though. Jeremy would fit in at any group lunch my friends and I have. He’d be popular, if not pretty. But, when he told us we were all rubbish, we might be forced to “shiv” him with the dull steak knives that our favorite gathering place uses.

Jeremy Clarkson is the most American of all three of the Top Gear presenters. He’s paunchy, he collects “vulgar” over the top cars, he smokes, he screams and jumps up and down when he’s excited, he suffers from malfunctioning household technology, and most importantly he thinks the politically correct ultra anything pundits are total jackasses. Jeremy is what the American middle class is at their best.

Poor Jeremy. Self hatred is a sad thing.

His attitude has made me glad I bought his book second hand. I’d hate Jezza to have to suffer through spending filthy devalued American royalties.

I would however like to set him on the body shop manager where my car was repaired. Thanks to bodyshop folly, what was supposed to be a 2 day job took a week. Jezza would have the bloke know what a little crotch crawling crab he was.

When Jeeza was done my friends and I would have to stuff him back into a crate. We’d have to treat him the way they do The Stig. He’d be our tamed ferocious Britt.

Once Mr. Clarkson was done with the automotive fiends, we’d have to send James May in and have him talk the repair shop into giving me the car back at all.

You didn’t honestly think I was going to give up on the James May posts so soon did you?

James claims to be the great persuader of the group. His columns have mentioned how he’s talked Richard Hammond out of a beating by half a dozen marines in a pub. Nice to know.

I think my pub brawl days are behind me now.

After the last two days I’ve begun to think all my days are behind me now.

It’s not that, should I ever meet him, Jezza Clarkson would give me a verbal drubbing. It isn’t even that grizzly thought that I’m doing a job I was set up to fail at. It’s not the way the numbers are spinning by on the calendar. It’s more the way that, despite my strongest struggles, I am living a life bereft of much of what I hold to be the “valuable” things. No, strike that, it’s the burning stench of the idea that I am living in such a depraved and deprived state because I bloody well did it to myself all by myself. It’s the black dog barking the Morse code message, “You are a great big fat failure and you are doomed. And it’s all your fault you piece or worthless shite.”

I have a gentle and kind friend, “J” and she always starts with the prod “How would it feel to have what you want?” She gently intones for her students to try on the feelings of what they desire. So instead of picturing my red Aston Martin shimmering in the driveway, I would tune my nerves to imagine the feeling of the engine rumbling and the steering wheel turning and the car moving down the highway. Similarly, instead of constructing a mental image of a companion, I would try to imagine what it would feel like to have one. Then the devil pops up and stabs me through the cerebral cortex.

When I close my eyes and try to imagine the mellow of a quiet Sunday morning sharing the papers, or the laughter on a cruise down the bike path, or the tingling of a sweaty cross-eyed evening; something in the back of my mind fires up the disk packs. I get a file dump of all the emotions joined to walking in on a betrayal, being dumped, being beaten, being abandoned, arguments, verbal abuse, the face of a beloved stilled in death, the sucking drain of emotional vampires, the head games, and the head cases.

In the flash of an eye, I go from fuzzy and bucolic satisfaction to tears. From the lump in my throat the emotions rip down until my belly is cold with pain and fear.

That’s what my mind knows about companionship. That’s what my mind knows about love. That’s what my mind knows about relationships.

At this point I’m about to go Jeremy Clarkson on myself. The lather about “relationships” and “feelings” is enough to make my nose turn up at my own blog.

It’s all too girly, it’s all too weak. It’s all too ancient and pathetic.

Byron blabbered “And love itself must have a rest” in his “On This Day I Complete My 36th Year”. If he thought he was old and jaded, he’d have a field day with me. Although I’m probably more “low mileage” than Byron. At least I have sense enough not to think war is romantic and go get myself killed by fighting in a war without being trained as a soldier. No, I’m sensible enough to work a job I hate, live on fast food, and run myself into the ground trying to keep a roof over my head.

Maybe Byron was more tired and jaded then he let on and the cannonade looked like a respectable way to go. Maybe he was right.

Here I have written myself into a corner. This is not amusing to write. Nor do I think it is amusing to read someone discuss how their life is off the rails.

At this point I am going to fall back on a James May reference to pull me out. This one comes from YouTube. I followed a link on Cute Overload to some extraordinarily cute something. When the video finished up, I couldn’t resist typing “James May” into the search box.

Up came a clip of James discussing a car that changes colors with a driver’s moods. He asks a fateful question along the lines of , “What color does it turn when you’re in a black dog mood? When you think your whole life has been for nothing?”

Richard Hammond replies “That’s pretty dark mate.” Jeremy Clarkson polls the audience and finds no one will admit to that feeling.

Out in the virtual audience I will raise my hand. I’ll ask the same question James asks. I already know the answer. The color is gray, dark gray. Just like the Sable waiting for me out in the car park.

Below: At least I didn't wreck my Aston Martin.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The Black Pearl Is Homeward Bound
The Black Pearl has been recalled to her home port at the car service center.

I have been told that the electronic controller and "Smart Module" in my Sable have been replaced and all is well. I've also been told that my car keys will no longer work. Neither will my keyless entry password.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to combat rush hour and drive into downtown Annapolis to return the flagship of the pirate fleet. I'm to bring my useless car keys so they can be reprogrammed. I am leery of this "reprogramming" owning to the fact that two years ago all my car keys stopped working at once. When I phoned the car service center for help,they recommended a modern version of the hokey pokey. It involved me, keys in hand, getting close to the car and backing away and then getting into the car until one of the keys would work.

Now it seems as though the "Smart Module” has been continually trotting down the road to dementia since then. It finally completed its journey last week.

There is a bitter irony in the "practical car' that I bought to taxi my mom around being afflicted with the same disease that is slowly erasing me from her knowledge. It's one of those things that I may be able to laugh about some day. It ought to be funny. It just breaks my heart again.

Last night I dreamed that I was living on a houseboat in Paris with my formerly affianced "W". He was expounding on the responsibility of family and how, as you age, your family clusters close for your protection. He likened it to an oak clustering close and protecting the forest floor below. My dream addled mind replied with "I don't have squirrels living in my head." He lit up a Camel cigarette and smiled patronizingly. I pointed out, "But my family is all dead, except for mom." He blew a smoke cloud around my head and said, "You must have done something wrong then."

In my dream I fled our houseboat and ran to my car parked on the embankment. It was a dark red Aston Martin. Before I got behind the wheel it started to rain. The paint melted in the rain and ran in rivulets down to the river like old blood being washed off the sidewalk after a beating. I knew, by instinct, the Aston was painted with my blood. Every drop spilled when I'd given in, stopped fighting for myself, or took abuse instead of fighting back. Every inch of that fat and sassy body was painted with my struggles. I'd paid a dear price for the ability to drive away, to be free.

There was no blood inside the car. The keys were in my hand. I throttled the engine and sped through the streets in the falling dusk. The rain spit at me. I took a set of streets that looked familiar and wound up on a two lane into the countryside. In minutes I'd driven out of sight of Paris in my rear view mirror.

Just when I thought I was safe and away, the car began to slide. All four wheels felt like they were moving sideways on a layer of ice. I turned, I clutched, I braked, and I tried to stop. Instead I hurtled off the road and into a ditch. The car rocked to a stop in the mud. The car stalled out. I sat there for a few minutes until I realized I was only stuck in the mud on the slope. I started the car again and tried to get it out of the mud.

A side by side set of headlights appeared on the road. I heard a motorcycle. It stopped behind me and I recognized my friend "T" in the rearview mirror. He was wearing his black riding leathers and a white full face helmet.

The driver's side door wouldn't come open; the car was leaning at too much of an angle. He walked up to the door. I put the window down.

He pulled off his helmet to talk to me. The person who emerged from the Shoei was James May.

"Don't you know you're too short to drive the Aston?" He was miffed. "You might be ok in the Bugatti, I've been in that and the leg room is pokey."

The magic word "Butgatti" must have shorted out my nervous system.

I woke up surprised and confused to be in my "pokey" bedroom in my big mahogany bed.

Below: "T" on his Goldwing
TT Thunders Along

Below: James on his Moto Guzzi
James looking perky!

Below: Bugatti Veyron

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Midnight Pomegranate
Today’s post should start with something dear or dire.

I should note that my mom is a classically trained pianist, as is James May. Mom doesn’t remember she even knows how to play the piano. Alzheimer’s is a dark and insidious thing.

I might also add that being a classically trained musician in no way trained James to be a writer. It’s just like Alton Brown’s acting degree and culinary certification don’t make him a writer either. But, there they both are on the shelf. Both are witty, nerd-y, and conveying the details that go unnoticed by most of the world.

My practical and pragmatic friend "S" says that "Writers are those that write.".

Today I’m not perky enough to want to make an angel food cake or even drive an Aston Martin. But, I am staggering around on the page. I guess that puts me in the company of Mr. May and Mr. Brown, even if remotely.

My car is still in the shop. I’ve had the loaner so long that I’ve named it “The Black Pearl”. It’s costing me about 12 dollars a day, or 24 pounds U.K. , to commute to and from work. Tonight I will sidle up to the gas pump and put another twelve into the tank. The “car place” phoned today to say that central parts sent them the wrong part to fix the windows that broke while they were painting the bumper.

It’s only Tuesday and I’m tired beyond belief. In the tarot, it’s a ten of wands kind of day. Burdens, Struggle, and Overextending. It’s followed up today by the Prince of Pentacles, a card listed as “placid dependability” and recommending the slow and steady approach. It’s James May trying to put a door on a transit van. It's me applying for a federal job.

I may not be sparkling today, but I will admit my thoughts are churning.

Eight months ago my boss talked me into a DB2 tuning position. The promise was that I would get training from an expert senior DBA and classes. I had the class and I’ve had it with the expert senior DBA. As soon as I signed up, the “expert” took off for another job. He then wailed and cried until the company hired him back in a different position. Now that he’s back all the customers go around those of us hired for the work and go to him. For me, weeks of work, have been destroyed thanks to the ‘expert’ whom my team leader now refers to, literally, as God.

I'm tempted to point out what happened to God incarnate in the Christian tradition, but I don't want to jump on the blasphemy bandwagon.

After busting my hump for the better part of a year, it’s come out that the whole purpose for switching me onto the team was to put a “novice” into the position so the “expert” could come back with a large raise. I was set up to fail.

Granted, the checks don’t bounce, but my self-worth has taken a nose dive into bankruptcy. Two weeks ago Mr. Manipulator offered me a different job in the company. I worked the grapevine a bit and found out I had been fourth choice and I would be used again to get “experts” at a higher rate.


I am not without skills or friends, however. I have twenty years in the computer field and a few years inside the computer center as well. People who do the mainframe voodoo that I’ve mastered are hard to locate. People who do what I do and are more then ten years away from retirement are even harder to find. I am uniquely qualified. My friends at another company have walked my resume through for a job that, should I survive long enough, will hit six figures in six years.

The problem isn’t doing the job, or appearing capable in the interview. The problem is filling out the online application and navigating the automated job skills screener then waiting four weeks for the humans at the end of the process to schedule an interview. With help from “those in the know”, I was able to get through the mechanized part of the protocol. I am in the waiting part.

Combine waiting with a nervousness about the interview and a daily soul sucking paycheck and I’m frazzled.

Notice how all my sentences are conjoined ad infinitum with “and”s like rabbits running a train on keg night in the warren?

I wonder if James May has ever had a pet rabbit? Doesn’t strike me as the type. I do not even want to add keg or train into the equation.

I’ve also noticed that Spell Czech has started making Mr. May’s name plural.

To my relief, in 45 more minutes I will have made up the time I missed yesterday while waiting for the car mechanics. Also, my “backup” stereo receiver has been hooked up at home to my sound system. Tonight there will be music, beer, and pinball. Remember I bought a pinball machine for my home office?

I might even snap apart the pieces of my old stereo receiver and rescue the circuit boards for use in a collage or two. I hate to see the old Pioneer finally short out. It’s been running with a blip in the power supply for fifteen years. A gentle “thwack” on the top has always brought it back online. After twenty five years, it was due to evaporate from the physical plane. My dual cassette deck went berserk a few months ago.

Yes I have a manual typewriter too. Its enameled black splendor holds the place of honor on the breakfast bar next to the candles.

My Sable has a cassette deck. My best buddy has a cassette deck boom box in her kitchen; she hasn’t gotten to CDs yet. I send her tapes of whatever I’ve been playing lately.

Tonight I’ll probably phone up my buddy on the west coast and she’ll “talk me down” from this over wound funk.

Oh For Heaven's Sake! Mr. May wrote about his portable typewriter in his column in March 2008. Click the pic above to read his take on the experience.

TEMPLATE NOTE: Yes, yes I know I've had this template for a while and haven't customized it yet. I've been experimenting with a better template but when I switch over to XML, I get bot-crawl-spammed to pieces. Another update should happen soon. I'm too busy with DB2 ZOS Version 9 to unmangle Blog Templates right now. ok? :)
Monday, June 23, 2008
You May Have Noticed A Pattern
You may have noticed a pattern in my blog this week. I may say that I noticed it too and have come to the decision I am going to try and see how many posts I can work references to James May into.

The reason is not that I am smitten and googly eyed over James May. No, the reason is, I need to be more silly.

If you read this blog, you know that if I don’t start laughing it up, I will most surely drive my loaner car over an embankment and into the bay.

Speaking of which, on last week’s Top Gear show, James May raced around an estuary in an Alfa Romeo. He was racing against a man who was wading across. Mr. May made no comments about being naked, nor was he naked during the race. Instead he wore a fuchsia and plum colored rugby shirt that made him look like the Cheshire Cat’s second cousin. He did claim that he was not going to be beaten in a car race by a man on foot and wearing “giant condom”. He lost the race by a few steps.

See now, how my silliness game will be played?

Since Mr. May is on Top Gear, writes a weekly newspaper column, and has books in print, I will have a good amount of material for a while. I may even have to break down and make up flights of fancy to work the good Mr. May into the conversation.

One of my friends said I should skip over James and go on to Jeremy Clarkson. Jeremy being their favorite presenter of the three. But I will steadfastly stick with James for no other reason than I started with James and I shall work my way along with him.

If by some terrifying Google search, James May ever finds my silly blog, let me apologize to his esteemed person in advance. Apologies for anything taken out of context, keyed in wrong, or totally misunderstood on my part. Apologies for any offense that may occur.
Long Legs, Monsters, and James May Really Does Have More Fun Than I Do.
Last week I was nosing through some used books up for sale from a charity. What to my wondering eyes should appear but a copy of “Tales From the Hard Shoulder” by James May. Curiosity and three dollars put the book in my shopping basket.

I went home and kicked back with a glass of iced tea and my stack of new books. May’s was the first I picked up. It’s a collection of delicious bite sized columns from his newspaper work. I flipped through the book, pulling out pieces with catchy titles. Then I came across the title “Naked Motorcycle Porn Now Showing”. What is it with me finding references to James May and naked in the same sentence?

Fortunately May had written about naked motorcycles. The beautiful, spine tingling Ducati Monster in particular.

My heart was once again filled with longing. (For a Ducati) and envy (For James May’s long legs). It struck me once again that James May has a hell of a lot more fun in life than I do. No matter what I do, my legs will never be long enough for me to ride the coveted Duc Monster.

I’m not unusually short for the average human female. But that’s just the point; I don’t have the long legs that a man James’ height would have.

One of my best friends, Terry took me motorcycle shopping last summer. Every bike that called me with the siren song of strong, lanky beauty was too tall or too heavy. I was still optimistic.

Three days later as Terry and I left work, in side by side lanes, I watched a breeder van run directly into the spot where Terry’s motorcycle was motoring along. I slammed on my brakes and he was able to cut over into my lane. It was a close thing. For a horrible half second, I thought one of my friends was going to die smashed into the side of my car.

After that I quit looking at motorcycles. If six foot two inch Terry, riding a ginormous Honda Gold Wing in Candy Red was having trouble, my chancesof suvival were nil. In the last five years Terry’s been hit once on his motorcycle while stopped at a light. In that same time I’ve been hit four times. Neither time was I the first up at the light either. I was in the middle of a pack of stopped cars. Now I’m afraid to drive the Baltimore/ Annapolis corridor in anything smaller then a dump truck.

But, I still have Ducati lust. Two decades ago, I burst into flame at the sight of a Ferrari with Pininfarina styling. Now I’ve mellowed to being bonkers about Aston Martins.

Of course Hertz doesn't rent Ferraris or Aston Martins on their "Weekend Fun" program, so I’ve never driven one. They may be like driving a hay wagon off a cliff. But I don’t think so. I have a mortgage and a mother in assisted living, so I don’t think I’m going to be finding out for sure in this life time.

My trusty Sable is still in the shop today. The bodyshop manager said it would be done this morning. As I arrived at the shop the first words out of his mouth were, “It won’t be ready until after noon.”

He was flabbergasted when I went to the complex manager and asked him to personally inspect the job and phone me when it was finished. I also pointed out that with lost wages and gasoline, my futile trip there this morning had cost me over a hundred dollars.

This afternoon the complex manager called me and said that after they finished painting my car, they discovered the power windows were broken. All 4 of them. Again. These are the same 4 power windows they fixed last Thursday under warranty. All shorted out, again, from their capable mending. They have to order parts. God moves in mysterious ways.

I might get the car back Tuesday or Wednesday.

I have a sneaking suspicion when you are on a television car program, the cars they bring to you are fully functioning and perfumed like vestal virgins. If they’re smart they send along a staff of mechanics as well. If you’re one of the shows’s presenters the show probably gives you a minion. You can send them to the garage with your own personal car, so you never have to fight that battle directly yourself. Another way in which I am coming to envy the man I’ve never met, James May.

The extended warranty on my Sable will be up in another few months. I’m looking at buying something else, in used condition, from Carmax. I’ve browsed through Cadillacs, Toyotas, and Ford Mustangs. Whatever fits my budget, however, will still not be an Aston Martin or even anything that remotely makes my toes tingle with near sexual excitement.

In fact, I’d hoped I could hold onto the Sable another five years and switch to an alternative fuel based model. With the government taxing the life out of bio-diesel in my state and banning vegetable oil powered cars as unsafe, it may be a while before Maryland backs off of gasoline powered cars.

I’m trying to relax and adjust my frame of mind. I need to go back to studying up for a job interview I have in the next two weeks. It’s for a more highly paid position. Good thing. Since I’m still paying for the new HVAC on the house and anticipating paying for another little fuel tank to feed.

I’ll bet James May doesn’t know diddly about Parallel Sysplex for ZOS. But then again, he doesn’t need to.

You're Torturing Me Man!
Friday, June 20, 2008
I've got to face it, James May does have more fun.
‘The only time I feel the pain
Is in the sunshine or the rain.
And I don’t feel no hurt at all
Unless you count when teardrops fall.
I tell the truth
‘Cept when I lie.
It only hurts me when I cry.”
~ Dwight Yoakam song

Today, the panoply of disaster has lifted.

The plumber finished his wicked work last night at 9. The body shop hasn’t called to tell me the Sable will need frame work. The low fuel light is lit on the Police cruiser, but I made it to work anyway.

The sun is shining. The birds are singing

I have a crib sheet for my upcoming job interview and a whole day to study.

My Blogger website has photos of an Aston Martin and a Rolls Royce. My Blogger website even has photos of James May in an Aston Martin on a beautiful summer’s day and wearing only a 5 point safety harness. My patio has a copy of “Girl With A Pearl Earring” aging in the sun. ( The “Diary of Frans Hals” is much better. “Girl” nods me off to sleep in moments. Perhaps the porch is a better place for Hunter S. Thompson.) My purse has a copy of “Circus of the Damned” tucked in the pocket and when all have fled the office early, I shall indulge in some reading. My SanDisk is full of calypso music, Kentucky Headhunters, Dwight Yoakam, and a steel drum rendition of Eine Kleine Nacht Music. (This is my special, I hate this job mix.) Even now I’m listening to the Steel Drums of The Caribbean play “Kingston Town”.

I’ve ordered my contractor/plumber/electrician a Tiki Bar warming present and it should arrive tomorrow. I’ll be able to forward it along before he totals out the bill for last night’s fiasco. I bought him a 19 inch tall Captain Jack Sparrow figure. It has a motion sensor and chats away to anyone who comes near it. Bill, my honey-do-for-hire, admired mine so much, I ordered him one of his own.

Tonight I can look forward to gassing up the police cruiser, rocketing home to my pinball machine, a six pack of Schlitz beer, and my rhapsody music account hooked to my lease breaker speakers.

For all this beauty and anticipation of luxurious conviviality I am at odds with Joy today. I am fueled by Divine Discontent. I still long for giddy road tests of quarter million dollar cars. I hunger for the dark magic of a new love affair. A love affair with a man who will sparkle and shine with me. Wit, humor, a craving for new knowledge, a love of Art Galleries on Sunday afternoons, someone who will read to me, someone who will share “toe curling exercises” with abandon.

Tonight I will go home and take out my Dept 56 model of Gatsby’s summer house and put it on the bar that links the kitchen and great room. I will carefully pose the house and Gatsby and Daisy and the fatal yellow car. I will drink my nostalgic beer and put my mind on Gatsby and his staring at the green light on the end of the doc at West Egg. I will remember where it got him.

That won’t supplant my longing. It may induce ennui. It may make me numb again to all the delights that many take for granted and my life has been so bereft of. Or perhaps, again tonight in dreams, I will drive an electric yellow Vantage N24 through the Alps.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
How Could James May Possibly Have More Fun?
I could start off today's panoply of disaster by saying that I wrapped my Aston Martin around a light pole. But I don't have one, an Aston Martin that is. I have a light pole. It sits lamely in the front yard and gives the neighborhood twits something to aim their basketballs at. The lenses and light bulbs on that lamp pole are so frequently broken, the lawn service routinely rakes that area before they mow.

Today my 2003 Mercury Sable is in for an electronics controller module replacement. With all their mightly diagnostic computers the great Ford/Lincoln/Mercury motor company has not until today, been able to find the source of 5 years of shorted out air conditioner controls, jammed moon roof, or stalled electric windows. They have chalked it up to fate. But they have made a critical mistake. They have neglected to remember that I have an extended warranty. They have lost money on it mightily. Between the electrics and the other problems, I have had new controllers for heating and ventilation. I've had loaner cars, snapped suspension components, recalled oil pans, defective oil gaskets, berserker rages by the moon roof motor, and all of this has cost Ford money.

But the Sable hasn't always been a bother. It only went raggedy after 3 years.
My Sable is the first car I've had that didn't spend every holiday in the shop the first two years I owned it. This includes my previous Mighty Toyota and my Honda from Hell. Even the Fabulous Thunderbird had bad body welds that had to be fixed on three separate occasions the first year out. Ford replaced the interior carpet three times and the driver's seat once on that one!

Sometimes I miss the grand T-bird. I enjoyed roaring through the night on my 200 mile weekly commute back to home and hearth from my job in the "big city". The T-bird, lounged as it hovered over the roadway. Ninety miles and hour was as unassuming as twenty. The big white T-bird with 1980's appropriate burgundy velour interior, also gained me many admirers from parking attendants. They always treated my tamed bird daintily. I also tipped well, but who says that always helps?

My gunmetal gray Sable is gashed like a Manatee that has spent its life in the power boat lanes. Shopping car scrapes, dents from a runaway car wash, door scrapes from a jackass Range Rover owner here at work, have all turned my Sable into what looks like a rolling hunk of wounded wildlife in the parking lot.

Today I am driving a police cruiser. At least it will be a police cruiser, when the car dealership sells it used to the local police department when it's life as a spanky new courtesy car is through. My car du jour is a 2007 Grand Marquis in silver. It screams, "Unmarked Car". On the drive to work today the beltway parted way for me like the Red Sea for Moses. I slipped into the left lane and pushed my foot to the carefully adjusted accelerator pedal. The Grand Marquis, like many of the Ford/Mercury lines, has adjustable foot pedals. Somebody at Ford finally noticed that not all women like to rend their nipples on the steering wheel every time they round a corner.

Today, my considerate Grand Marquis and I have given the corporate Range Rover owner his just desserts. I settled the bumper of the behemoth just so that the Rover driver, who shredded my passenger door with scrapes yesterday, can not open his driver's side door without gnashing the edge of it off on a steel police blockade bumper. In fact, the little twit can't get into the car without crawling through the back hatch or a patch of shrubbery. He's parked with his passenger side door against the curbing to protect his precious precocious import, but he's now blocked out of his own traveling paint scraper. Since this person already assumes that I , being female and past the age of 30, am a dolt, he will be doubly incensed at his inconvenience. He will chalk it up to my innate ineptitude and not see it for the payback it is. All the better for me, since it leaves me perfectly free to do it again tomorrow.

Maybe it’s the full moon. Maybe it’s summer’s impending heat wave. Perhaps it’s neep tide. Maybe I got the wrong prescription from the pharmacy. But I have the wild yearning to rip a Bugatti Veyron around the beltway in the late night hours. I want to take a Rolls Royce to the drive in. I want to drive some European super car with right hand drive and careen through the neighborhood like a demon possessed letter carrier.

I want that same summer-night-invincible feeling that I had when my buddies and I used to drive our Camaros to the country boat landing on the river on a Saturday night and drink Schlitz beer under the stars. I want that joy I had when I stole Kevin Layton’s black BMX leathers and wore them with platform heels and went out clubbing. I want to be able to walk in platform heels that high again.

I want to shake that dark gray Sable feeling. Shrug off the battered doors and bifocals malaise. I haven’t been reduced to a breeder van and soccer car pool, but I feel a million years old.

If James May can shine his blue eyes out over the steering wheel of millions of dollars worth of automotive ecstasy, how do I sign up? Why isn’t a Top Gear mentality possible in my chunk of the United States? Why can’t we adults, who can afford the payments and insurance, drive wonderful cars without feeling moronic or guilty? Why can’t American television, America in general, let the adults have some fun?

But why ask why? Why are some lives charmed with such joy and some belted in the teeth with mediocrity?

Why do I have to use two syllable words in conversation or be made to feel like some type of poseur? Why have we dumbed it all down, cranked it all down to an anticipated decade of stupidity, decadence, and happiness in our twenties? Stupidity lives forever. Decadence finds a way when it can. Why is happiness linked to a handful of driver’s license photos and a stingy flight of pages on the calendar?

Oh no, I’m asking why again. I better stop or I’ll have an aneurysm.

I’ve got to go pile into my police cruiser and rip down the highway. The plumber’s coming over at 7:30 tonight. It was his first available emergency appointment. My plumbing emergency launched itself last night. As I lay abed and watched DVR’d episodes of Top Gear, a pipe in the bathroom wall gave up its corporeal existence. Water soaked the drywall and laundry room. By this morning, a tide of gelatinous gypsum and bloated baseboard molding was sloshing for me. Before I could take the car to the shop I had to cut the water off to the house.

Really, it could have been worse. I could have crashed my Aston Martin into a light pole.

Below: A naked, 45 year old, James May drives an air conditioner-less Aston Martin through Europe in the summer. (The windows didn't fully open either!)

Reminds me of a vacation to Disney World in Floriday I took in the 1980s in a Toyota Carolla without air conditioning. We traversed Floriday by night wearing only t-shirts and panties.

Oh! James!

Below: James in happier days in a Rolls Royce Drophead Phantom and on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Friday, June 06, 2008
Betcha By Golly Wow . . . . .
The girl is on the interview circuit again.

Making the move back to systems programming. Installing systems software. Back to the comfortable skin.

It would be good to see QMFinstalls again. It would be good to feel useful. It would be good to come in, do my work, and go home.

Hey Cuz. Don't know where you are. Hope you're still out there. Drop me a line.

Got the house updated again this week. Had the dining room and kitchen painted. New lights in the dining room.

Had the wacky outside hose bibs fixed. The mysterious plumbing leaks have been headed off.

The organizers came last weekend and I sent a van full of stuff off to sale. The Christmas stuff is now in the storage room.

Next Christmas I can have a tree without having to scale the Alps to get to stuff.

The guest bedroom is almost complete. It is the ultimate in Dolls and lace.

What a concept, I'll soon have a house I can just go home and live in. Wow!