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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!

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Give Us A Kiss!
Kees Me!

Cute Overload is a must! Can't start the day without some serious cute! Click here to see the scoop on this kissy "raff"!

There aren't enough good things to say about the smiles and cuddly animals at Cute Overload. It's a pinch of pixie dust on the old workhouse computer screen!

As for a James May reference. . . hmmmmm. James May went to Africa with Top Gear and drove a Mad Merc across the salt flats. He was not attacked by a "Kissing Raff" in the show. No footage was shown of him being attacked by a "Kissing Clarkson" either.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
J2 Drops the Gauntlet
J2 has smacked me upside the digital head with a challenge.

He's challenged me to write a coherent, intelligent, and honest bit on exactly what got me started writing again.

He has accused me of being obtuse, diversionary, disingenuous, morose, evasive, untrue, inky, and "not at all myself". He's jabbed me where it hurts with a hatpin.

He's also given me permission to refer to him by his Christian name, Jeremy. I've never noticed Jeremy to be too far off in his appraisal of a situation. To be less obtuse, and I hate to admit this, Jeremy knows me better then I know myself. That's what makes him so damn aggravating. If he lived closer he'd probably stand over me and smack me with a yardstick until every word I put down was so true it made blood run out of my eyes.

Somehow he sees the stripping away of all that is not true in a written piece as a simple one step process. Since this is a blog and this is me I'm trying to be truthful about, I see it a bit more as walking down the middle of the road naked and half flayed alive. It's a bit more painful from my point of view.

I have no doubt we will engage in a running gun battle via email and I will loose because Jeremy will be right. Even more I will have to admit that I am the better for it.
Spinning Wheel
Victorian Tarot 7 of Cups

Your Card: Seven of Cups

Too much information! Sometimes everything is muddled and confused and it's at times like that the Seven of Cups is at play in your life. It may be that you need to delay making any important decisions until things are clearer.

The Seven of Cups can be a card of confusion and delusion. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice says "it seems to fill my head with ideas only I don't exactly know what they are." On the other hand, our fantasy life can be a source of inspiration, if we can keep it , if not in control, at least from controlling us. Since your imagination seems to be working overtime, perhaps you ought to take advantage of it. As Hunter Thompson said, "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."


7 of Cups is my card today from the Victorian Tarot Card site. Click here to visit their website.

Hunter Thompson is just about my all time favorite author. I wish he'd stayed with us a while longer. I'd love to hear what he'd have to say about the current presidential race.

The smooth cool water of his prose and his sharp focus on the inanity we accept as the substance of society are spectacular to behold. Between the drug fueled antics in his books there is more to the story than the oblivion of the characters. Thompson's willingness to walk out of the framework of acceptable behavior resonates with the bloody knuckled desparation clawing away in most of us.

"He'll see those bats soon enough. Poor f**k**." Dr. Gonzo laments for his lawyer companion in the opening sequence.

Today I'm seeing the bats.

Wonder if the highly esteemed Mr. May has ever seen them in his wing mirror?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"J2" is giving me an Aston Martin!!!!!
I hate this f***ing job. I’ve never felt so *uc***g useless in my whole life. I sit here in my little box. The expectation swings between that I only run once job every three months or that I come in and re-write a system I’ve never seen before.

I signed on to do this on a trial basis and nine months later I’m still on this project and still struggling for all I’m worth. It’s going on * years since I left the systems programming field and I haven’t felt comfortable at work a day since then.

I’ve got my “Glory Days” goggles on this morning I guess. Today I’m cleaning up a mess I made accidentally yesterday while I was rushing to update something that I did two months ago. Of course two months ago I put an applet in and nobody tested it until yesterday. Do you think I remember jack about what I did two months ago?

There’s only so much feeling like a “total spanner” that I can take.

Last night I watched James May give up the only “win” he’s ever had on Top Gear. I wanted to chuck a tomato at the screen. Richard and Jeremy heaped abuse on top of abuse on James and I don’t know how he stood it. He didn’t very much look like it was “all in good fun”, not by the look in his eyes. Every dog has his day, every dog except James. Unless he’s a very good actor it appears that he makes his living by being a whipping boy. Maybe I’m too American. Americans would say I’m too Irish. But either way I wouldn’t be surprised to see James draw back and cold cock Jeremy Clarkson. I’d put it on live-rewind and watch it twice!

Maybe that’s just the grief he has to eat to get to drive exotic cars. Seems they give him the clunkers more than not as well.

Maybe he reminds me too much of “T”. “T” is currently not talking to me . I had the nerve to invite him to a dinner party and apparently that has crossed some boundary that he holds sacred. I’ve only been acquainted with him for twenty years. I invited him to a small dinner get together with friends. He showed up, we all had a wonderful mellow time. He carried on throughout the evening looking as though he’d eaten a bug. Then he stopped talking to me, to all of us in the group really.

It’s taken me two weeks to figure out this latest aberration in his behavior. We made the mistake of including him in a group of close friends. We got too close and “T” makes a point of never getting close to anyone or anything. He’s walking around in a self-imposed bubble with the idea that if he doesn’t get close to anyone he can’t get hurt. He watched his mother get hurt and he watched her suffer. He is not going to go down the same road. “T” is worse then I am at cutting himself off from the fullness of life.

If I’m a cagey animal, he is Sasquatch. You have to know him a good ten years before you can see him smile. At my former “hell hole” work place he is regarded as “Stone Mountain”. Technically he’s the best in the business. Attitude wise he acts like a stereotypical British butler with a stick up his arse.

When we invited him to drive-in night with the gang, he let it be known that his mother had told him “bad things” happen at drive-ins. He was offended when we all laughed till we cried at the though of us dragging him into the back seat of the Sable to snatch his fifty year old “chezza”. As one of the ladies said, “Honey my teachin’ days are over!”

So perhaps we abuse “T” the way Jeremy abuses James. I sincerely hope that James has more of a life than “T”. By evidence of him being on Top Gear and having his own columns, he must have.

As for me, they say the faults you find in others are the one’s you need to see in yourself. I haven’t had much of a life for the last * years. I don’t even like to say how many. Before I left the “hell hole” I worked all the time. Now I split my time between work and working on the house. Since the house has finished up things have freed up considerably. I’ve got things so I can take care of mom, take care of the house, work and have time left over to do some other things.

That brings me back to where I intended to start. I am registered for dance classes starting in September. I’ve selected a school and talked to a teacher. Classes are out for summer but I’m all set for fall. Thursday nights from 9 to 10 p.m. for six weeks starting September 11th.

For the month of August it’s remedial exercises. Time to reconnect my feet with my head. It’s been a long time and I have to think about making parts move in the right directions. It used to be more automatic. “D” got me jump started though. It’s been decades since my last lessons. I’m hoping I can get it all working in the right direction again! I hope I won’t just scream and run away!

Which leads me to an important announcement:

“J2” is giving me an Aston Martin!

Said Aston Martin will arrive in my driveway the morning after my first “On Pointe” dance recital.

Since I’m not going to be taking ballet lessons it’s a dead cert that my driveway will remain conspicuously populated by Fords.

“J2” however is still magnanimous in his offer. He also has no respect for the navigationally challenged Captain Slow. He has made unkind remarks about my ability to get hit while sitting still at stop lights. He has even suggested several possible nicknames for himself, but he wishes a rank greater then that of Captain. I will suggest Commander Upatree Inaditch Inthewall.

“J2” bless his little cotton socks, crashes everything he drives. He can’t make a hill start with a manual transmission. He always parks across two spaces, even when he’s trying not to. He’s worked hard in life, been successful in business, and has a few fancy cars for play toys. He makes me jealous as hell.

The only Range Rover I’ll probably ever drive was “J2”s. It was too big and too much for the roads around this area. It died a horrible death on an icy road with “J2” behind the wheel. The Rover slid a wheel into a deep drainage channel on the side of a back road and flipped over. It died keeping “J2” from getting his head bashed in by a tree.

For all his automotive fortune, “J2” has never driven a Bugatti Veyron.

Which leads me back to the belief that James May has more fun then “J2” and I combined. Despite James being brow beat by Jeremy Clarkson and teased by Richard Hammond, he gets to drive mouth watering cars and travel around the world.

James May definitely has more fun. With a little luck, I’ll catch him up.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Monday, July 28, 2008
XM Radio is playing “Sara” by Starship.

This song always makes me want to cry. Today for some reason it’s stabbing me with needles. Why? I’ve never had a love affair with anyone named Sara. My name isn’t Sara. "D" and I watched every Sarah Brightman DVD I had several times last week. I'm stunned by her beauty and her voice but there's no jealousy there.

I think some of my exes have found that they’ve never “found another girl like you” as far as I was concerned. They all seem to pop up after a while and tell me how sorry they were that they married the women they left me for. They always say that “At least you were honest. You were what you showed yourself to be.” They complain about how the lights have all gone out on them. If they’d stayed with me they would have had other complaints I suspect. I have the ability to drive men mad and not in a good way. My mother once told “M”, “If you think you’ll change her, do her a favor and leave her alone. “M” thought he’d “break me” like you would a saddle horse. It was his fatal mistake. As “W” says I’m Irish enough to fight, Scottish enough to never give up, and English enough to believe it’s my God given right to fight and never give up.

It’s an ingrained survival technique; part genetics and part environment. If I had been a shrinking violet I’d have gone to a madhouse or died years ago.

“W” once commented that what I’d seen in my life would have put most people in the fetal position in a padded room.

I know there a lot of others just like me. It isn’t right but it is what it is.

It leads me back to the dream I had in 2000 where I rode the Nefud with ‘Aurenze’. If T.E. Laurence could survive, so can I. Nothing is written for he whom nothing is written.

Don’t ask me why I’ve spun off in this direction this morning all over a song on the radio. Sometimes it just happens that way. I “Notes From The Hard Shoulder”, James May does an entire essay on hearing an ELO tune on the radio at night. I thought I was the only one over the age of 25 who would cruise the extra mile at sunset to finish a song on the radio. Looks like I’m in good company. He was driving a piece of Detroit Iron. I realized today I’m driving a Georgia Peach. The Sables all rolled off assembly lines in Atlanta.

I was born in the Deep South. You’d never know it by my accent. I’ve developed that hideous Baltimore area hard edged nasally accent. I have to watch myself or I sound like my head is thick as a brick. When I lived 150 miles south of here, I had more of a Southern twinge.

When I used to call Cousin Tuesday the secretary would put me on hold and tell him he had a call from that “phone sex girl”. When I’d call they’d deliberately transfer me around the shop so they could here me speak. By the end of it I’d phone up in my best sleepy kitten voice with a “Jeremy Irons” accent. It’s still the best voice for getting an appliance repairman out to the house.

Sara, Exes, Georgia, and regional dialects. Yep this post is out of control as yesterday.

Summer dizziness. The world is hot, lush, green, and it spins, spins, spins.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
London By Night
Sunday. This morning was a total loss. Benadryl and Meclizine wiped out my dreams until daybreak. From then on it was a Technicolor hell fest. Woke up screaming the last two mornings. Delightful.

Staggered out the bagel emporium to find they were out of sesame seed bagels. With the wheat price increase they’ve introduced a tiered pricing plan. Plain and sesame bagels are 99 cents. The fancy ones like Cinnamon Crunch and Apple Chocolate Chip are 1.19$. Looks like everybody went for cheap this morning. I got one of the last plain bagels. I don’t like the others because they burn in the toaster and don’t serve their purpose as a divine container to deliver sesame seeds and butter to my confused head.

The tea was still plentiful and untainted. Most places brew their tea in the coffee maker. Then it tastes like Cea or Toffea or dog whiz or something else. My local shop brews a nice stiff dark blend. Not fancy or expensive, but it catapults my eyelids open and gives me the strength to do the marketing.

The marketing didn’t get done today. I was too dizzy. The new Sudafed PE may not be able to be used to make” ice” but it also doesn’t work for unclogging your ears. Tomorrow I’ll go through the rigmarole to buy real Sudafed at the pharmacy. I can go into a store and buy the makings of a Molotov cocktail and pay for it with a check without showing ID but heaven forbid I buy Sudafed.

I spent the afternoon in a Meclizine haze trying to get the room to stop spinning. By nightfall I’d gotten my hands on the fresh bottle of Meclizine I bought yesterday and some leftover real Sudafed tablets from the back of the medicine cabinet. It’s just about bedtime and I’m feeling well enough to sit up and want a piece of toast.
“D” has had a terrifying return home. Before she left for vacation she reported a broken pipe in her apartment. During the time she was gone, her daughter twice reported the problem with water running under the building. When “D” got done unpacking this morning she opened the cupboard doors to find mold growing in them. There’s also mold growing under every picture hanging on the walls. She had to phone the corporate property director and plead for help. Local management claimed they were not allowed to authorize repairs. Corporate is all the way up in Utah. They will be arriving tomorrow during the day. Tonight she has been moved to another apartment in her complex. Friends took her bed and television to a mold free apartment in another building. The rest of her possessions are in question.
“D” is severely allergic to mold. I’ve seen her carried out by paramedics after encounters with mold and mildew. It’s one of the reasons she had to leave work at our former “hell hole”. That old place had mold growing between the walls and floor because of unrepaired leaking pipes and drains.

Tomorrow I have to get on the phone to mom’s doctors and try and get an answer out of them. In five weeks she’s gone from spry to unable to get dressed alone or get into a car. I foresee me missing work to take her for a second opinion.

May God guide me in all things and strengthen me to do his will.
It may sound hokey to some but all I’ve been running on for the last three years is the love of God. God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost have been holding me up by the scruff of the neck and walking me through the world.
I can’t quote chapter and verse. I know a few favorite passages. I won’t argue the bible or one translation versus another. Mine has been a more mystical deepening in the faith.

I have seen things, experienced things, felt things, been told things, and known things that could have only stemmed from God.

One of the great physicists of our time sat down on the “Nova” program and explained string theory by saying “The universe and everything that is exists in ten dimensions as music in the mind of God.”

My answer to that was “Duh! Didn’t you already know that? Haven’t you known it all your life?”

The world isn’t some black and white drivel printed in a book by humans. It isn’t the issue of creationism versus Darwinism. It isn’t arguing over the meaning of a word translated by religious scholars from Greek to Latin to Middle English and originally spoken in Aramaic and kept in memory for over one hundred years.
God isn’t some video poker machine you can manipulate by practicing a “secret”.
Because God called you with one voice and called me with another is no reason for us to try and wipe each other from the face of the planet.

I spoke with “W” for three hours last night. Over the years we haven’t lost the ability to talk all night. I remember nights when we sat down and poured over stacks of Encyclopedia Britannica trying to figure some crazy thing out. Now he likes to quote chapter and verse from the Bible. He runs a religion online group. He spends time refereeing fights between factions.

I walked away from a great deal of organized religion. On Sunday mornings they’d have me singing praise and thanks for my life and body. Then on Wednesday night in bible study they’d tell me what a worthless, sinful, piece of crap I was because I had been born female. According to their texts God had picked one species on earth and created better than half of them to be evil incarnate. These evil ones were evil at birth by virtue of their flesh, they had no free will to be evil or not and they were required to spend their lives as slaves, concubines, and drudges in the vain hope they could make up for being born. Dogma barked that God had made one worthless thing on earth and I was it.

The God I’d seen didn’t look like he’d do something like that.

I was informed that I had never seen God, it was impossible. I was informed that unless I came into a church building God was not in my life.

I decided we weren’t talking about the same God. I saw God all the time. I talked to him. He answered back. God was in my home at three in the morning, he was in the car on the way to work. The God I heard from didn’t bust my chops for being female. He made me that way on purpose.

I suppose if “W” reads this blog, and he might, he will think me at risk of needing a burning at the stake. I hope not.

I told him I’d written about him. That caught his interest and perhaps will get him to read my little experiment in cyber space. Hard to tell.

This afternoon, in between being unconscious and doing laundry, I tried to watch the Top Gear DVD that J2 sent to me. This video includes James May in the Aston Martin toaster. I saw the first part of the episode and then had to turn it off. The road cams made my head swim. Aston Martins and Meclizine are too much together.

I’m going to go swirl off and take a Benadryl to get me through the night.

P.S. As I put this posting up I see that I titled it "London By Night". When I started it I had been going to write about emails with J2. I can see my mind spun off someplace else and the whole post is as dizzy as I am. :)

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Biplanes and Sail Boats
Saturday morning. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Ok, maybe not a truck, maybe just a big guy on a Honda Goldwing. Benadryl and Meclezine have done a bang up job on my head. Of course I was in worse straights before I imbibed, on Doctor’s orders, last night. The goldenrod threat has arrived on the scene early this year. Half acre beds of it are in full bloom on either side of the motorway. Combine that with the broiling heat and “Bingo!” I have a racked up inner ear.

It’s part of the fun little twenty syllable syndrome I inherited. The inner ear goes on the fritz easily. Sailing is now completely out of reach for me. I can handle about half an hour before the sea and sky start twirling around. There are meds I can take; I won’t be dizzy but I will think the channel markers look like dancing bunnies.

I suspect this little defect will also prevent me from being a stunt pilot. That’s all right really the most I’d want to do is fly a biplane and do a bit of crop dusting. (Yes they still do it that way around here.) No, I don’t have my eye on flying lessons, yet. I’m thinking that this is the day that I take “D” to the airport and send her back to Colorado.

It’s been a quick two and a half weeks. We started out with a full checklist of stuff to do and we’ve finished most of it. Last night “D” thanked me for showing her that she could do more then she thought she could. I’m glad I could give something back. In another five minutes I’ll go rouse her out of bed. We’ll go to her favorite diner for breakfast and off we’ll go. I’ll take her to curbside check in and make sure her bags get tagged to the right place. Then I’ll make sure they’ve got a wheel chair to take her to the gate. I’ll miss her just like I missed her when she went out to Colorado. I’m trying to talk her into coming back at Christmas time. I don’t think she’s bought it.

As the esteemed Mr. May has said in “James' May’s 20th Century”, commercial air travel is a wonderful thing. It’s also a heart wrenching thing. For everyone running down a gangway to say hello, there is someone going up a gangway waving goodbye.

When I was a kid I did the summertime shuffle between my divorced parents. I learned to hate airports and flying all together. Airports joined the other war zones in my life. Now I drive past the airport on the way home from work every night. No matter how much sense I talk to myself, I still feel that pang of pain every time I drive by. I’ll get another bad memory this afternoon.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Friday, July 25, 2008
NASCAR or Touring Car Racing?
Friday. I have a layer of cinnamon and sugar crumbs in my t-shirt pocket. The route guy put cinnamon cakes in the vending machine for breakfast. It’s a good day.

The hundred degree heat has broken. This morning was cool and dry. Traffic was bizarre for a Friday, way too heavy. I hate rolling out of bed and jumping straight into a NASCAR race before breakfast. I did manage to hang onto the left hand outside lane though. There’s too much jockeying around in the three inside lanes. It’s too easy to get whapped by somebody who’s not checking their blind spot. I don’t drop out of hyper drive until the exit before mine. The beltway widens at that point and in the two mile gap between exits I drop four lanes to get in the slot. The exit is tricky because there is always a line of cars coming on in the collect-disperse lane. Everybody does the zipper merge going in and out. Sometimes you have to slam on the brakes because somebody is slow on the throttle.

It’s not driving a Bugatti but it’s necessary. I’d hate to think of trying to drive a Bugatti in all that traffic. I could accidentally put myself all the way around the beltway before I got the hang of it. It would be nice to try though.

Then I could go out to the parking lot behind the building and park sideways across three spaces like the moron with the twenty year old Camaro and the dink with the black Mercedes.

I wonder if James May’s Fiat Panda would be at home on the beltway. I don’t know what kind of acceleration a Panda has. The trickiest part of driving a small car on the beltway, besides not being squashed by a truck, is having enough acceleration to merge in and shift lanes.

I had a teeny tiny Fiat once; I won it on a bet. It was a lemon yellow and black sports model. It looked like a motorized block of cheese. There was something wonky with the clutch. I didn’t have it long. I offloaded it for cash to keep my Toyota on the road. I drove a Renault some too back then but it wasn’t mine.

In more recent time, when I switched out of “Christine” I went for an automatic Thunderbird. For the first year I drove that car I put my hand down for the shift at stop lights.

I tried to teach “W” how to drive stick with the Toyota, he didn’t really get the hang of it until I bought a sports car. Then he wanted to drive stick with a passion. He had a tougher time with “Christine” because she had a turbo. He was either stalling out or rocketing out of control. “Christine” was a beauty, champagne color with black trim. She had beautiful hips, a determined looking grill, and sleek lines. When she was running she could zoom from zero to sixty fast enough to smack you back in the seat.

It’s the “when she was running” part that was a problem. The car came out of the factory with substandard parts. In the first year it broke the timing belt and trashed the engine. The car company had a stack of cars in similar straights lined up waiting for rebuilds at dealerships across the country. Instead of dropping new engines in them, they did rebuilds. During the process of rolling the car in and out of the garage they trashed the clutch and twisted up the four wheel drive. The final straw was the power steering system failure.

I switched to the Thunderbird. It had a timing chain, not a rubber band. It also had a chassis, engine, and drive train that had been in production for over a decade. I bought the big six instead of the SHO option. It was enough to make the car zoom along at ridiculous speeds. The T-Bird had such a smooth and quiet ride it was terrifyingly easily to look at the speedo and see I was going ninety. The T-Bird’s predecessor, “Christine”, had a design flaw that made the transmission housing ring like a bell between 50 and sixty. It was like driving in a singing bowl. “Chrisinte”s ilk is still being made but they’ve been redesigned entirely.

I like all wheel drive. It’s a good choice for the area. We don’t get that much snow but get ice, slush, and torrential rains. The roads are slick more than anything else. All wheel drive does a good job. When there’s enough snow to require a Jeepie-Truckie-Thingie I stay home. When there’s a hurricane on the prowl, I evacuate early and get out of the way.

I don’t need a Hummer; I’m not in the National Guard. I don’t need a pick up truck; I don’t have a farm. I don’t need a 1968 Pontiac GTO in very cherry condition but I want one.

The new-to-me car search has stopped. I can’t bear the thought of going through buying a car right now. Car salesmen are lesser demons sent from hell to torment people who just want to get on with it and get a car. CarMax touts a no-haggle price, but I’ll bet they pull the same old trade in yickty yack bull crap, that makes them evil like the rest.

I may have to talk “W” into going car shopping with me. He’s a salesman from way back and he likes to play all the games. If they think they’re selling “W”, they’ll leave me to look in peace.

The trouble is that I can only afford to keep one car. I have two now but the second one was mom's and it's up for sale. I know I need a sturdy, five star crash rated, practical car to drive to work. But I've got the raging desire for a performance car that makes me happy every time I get behind the wheel. Finding a combo is proving impractical. I can't quite talk myself into owning two.

IF I could convince myself that the Sable will run out the other 5 years of its lifespan perhaps I would feel ok about having a weekend car. Practicality makes me miserable. At the root it hasn't really got anything to do with cars. It has to do with my entire lifestyle. I'm so ruddy tired of having to be practical, solid, and trusthworthy.

When I look in the mirror in the morning I see the eyes of my own personal Raul Duke. I want to be out the front door and into my convertible caddy. I want to give up on the stupidity of life in the civilized world in general.

My mom used to remind me that we all have feet of clay and live lives of quiet desparation. My feet have blue polished toenails and my desperation isn't quiet.

My friend "S" would suggest I sit with the desparation and the discontent and see what it's telling me.

I know she's right. If I don't listen now, it will get louder. It will carry on until I listen and change.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Now That's A Flying Fortress!
Several of my blog entries haven’t made it to the “screen”. I’ve had to be careful switching over from journaling to blogging. A private journal gets tossed out unread after your dead. A blog is open to reading by anybody, including those you are writing about. I’ve been careful to say nothing about anyone that I wouldn’t say to them directly. I’ve caught myself being honest, blunt, and brutal. Brutal especially to myself.

I’ve said things here in the last month that I’m not sure I consciously knew before I wrote them down. If nobody reads a letter of this train wreck, it has served a good purpose for me.

The one thing I’d like to mention here is my “James May Silliness”. It is just that, silliness. I’ve enjoyed reading Mr. May’s books and columns. I’ve enjoyed watching him drive fabulous and not so fabulous autos on Top Gear. The book on tape that “J2” sent me is off to a good start. Mr. May has a very nice reading voice. At last reading we were up to the section about Zeppelins.

The book delves into the kind of detail that a lot of my male friends put into describing war machinery and airplanes. I’m nutty enough to always pick up their scale models or look closely at pictures and ask “why”. They always tell me. I learn a lot that way. I’ve watched my friends play role playing games. I had a very successful bomber named after me in one of them. Whenever I’m included in the game, my strategies don’t line up with the rules. I was banned from the games after an incident where I fell into a trap and was about to be executed by my own side. I summarily exploded the reactor on a nuclear sub and sank a good chunk of “our” navy on my way out. Since it was all on paper, I had no problem taking out all my shipmates and tossing the victory to the opposition. If I remember correctly, thanks to me, the German navy landed in North Carolina. They were then killed by the locals after they interrupted a large moonshine distributors meeting.

But back to the highly esteemed Mr. May, henceforth referred to as HEMM. Watching him zip about the countryside in a broiling hot Aston Martin gave me a springboard. The whole situation was silly and wonderful.

I am not writing some kind of weird open love letter to the man. I’m not speculating on if he ever trims his toenails, snores, or hangs out in schoolyards in the afternoon. That’s not what this is about. It’s about using his publicly available work as a jumping off point for my own silly blog! I’m not a stalker. I don’t have the “hots”, as “W” calls them. To have the “hots” I’d have to actually know the person.

That said, I will get back to the silliness.

I had to take the Sable back in for problems from the accident. My tech thinks there is something loose in the sway bar assembly. As I sat in the customer holding pen, a salesman came in and struck up a conversation. He asked me what new Ford/Linconln/Mercury car interested me the most. Thanks to HEMM and his cohorts I was ready with my answer.

“I’d like to test drive a Mondeo.”

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, Tuesday
This post is for my Cousin Tuesday. Not to be confused with Wednesday Addams or Tuesday Weld or James May.

First off, cousin Tuesday is a man and not a television presenter. We've been buddies for-evah. We'll leave the "years" out of it!

"CT" sometimes worries I may be including him as one of the other "initials" in my post. I may write about "J", "W", "J2", or "EvilM" but there is only one cousin Tuesday. I don't use the initial of his Christian name because Mrs. CT already thinks we are engaged in incest. Even though we only see each other once a year or less, she thinks we're having a torrid and twisted fling. She doesn't understand that cousins of the opposite sex can be friends and not love monkeys. No sense in throwing kerosene on the fire!

"CT"s life is already stressful enough. He's been stuck for years as the sole household wage earner. No matter how he trieds to convince his kids that they need to get a life, they all stay home and stare at him like they're baby birds.

When he was within breathing distance of retirement, the company he worked for shut down his division. He started over, taking part time jobs and spending his retirement nest egg to keep a family that was sucking the life out of him.

He finally found a permanent job but had to take a pay cut and a demotion. A short time ago he collapsed at work. What looked like dehydration turned out to be his heart going out of rhythm.

He's spent so many years in a joyless existence, keeping promises he was forced to make decades ago, and his heart is finally giving way.

I'm afraid that if he doesn't do something to make his life a lot more "happy" he's going to keel over and not get back up.

My mom used to talk about women of her generation dropping dead and leaving a housefull of children and a philandering spouse. She'd say they "died in self defense". I'm afraid this is the fate that awaits "CT" if he can't find some relief.

You can see I'm not impartial on this issue. Perhaps Cousin Tuesday will read this and know that I care. Maybe he'll just get supremely pissed off. It's hard to tell.

"Here's to you, here's to me, and for what we foresee. . . "

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Work That Silver!
“D” is on day 3 of her campaign to jumpstart me.

I left the house this morning with my hair done, nails tidy, and jewelry on. The jewelry wound up in the car ashtray, but I had it when I left the house.

The catch on my charm bracelet is loose; I left it in the car before I lost it. I need to take the pliers to it and rework part of the catch link.

Yes I made my own bracelet. I can’t resist any type of art class. I took a silver working class and worked with precious metals clay to create the silver charms. I took a silversmithing class and learned to make links and chain from straights of wire. I stopped before I took the lamp wicking class and learned to make the glass beads.

That was a lifetime ago, before mom got sick. The bench block, silver straights, bead trays, and tools are all neatly lined up in the studio I finished setting up for myself July 4th weekend.

There’s a shelf of book binding supplies, a shelf of painting supplies, a set of shelves for graphic arts, and a marbled worktable. I haven’t sat down to work on anything in months. My sketchbooks, chapbooks, pencils, inks, and pens are all neatly lined up. Projects in mid-flight are neatly stored in oversized Ziploc bags. Completed projects are wrapped in cling film to keep them dust free until they go on display. It all looks like some organized, creative, vibrant person just walked out of the room.

Well where the hell has she gone?

I’ve searched the house and I can’t find her. I want to see how she’s going to finish binding that book with the desert scene on the front, the one with the sunset red pages. I’d forgotten about the mixed media collage she worked in and out of a copy of “The Private Life of the Marquis De Sade”. That girl didn’t mince words with the dark. She didn’t need a roadmap, she knew all the landmarks.

I haven’t seen her in a while. The backpack with her navigation books and tools are still here so she hasn’t gone to sea. There’s an unopened copy of the text for Celestial Navigation, her coast guard certification, and a compass. Wonder when she’ll acquire a sextant,wrangle the math and learn to navigate by the sun ?

Somebody tossed out the basket of sample paint chips she had piled up by her desk. I guess she’s done painting the house. It looks good. Her bedroom still has that tired Van Gogh print on the wall. I’ll bet she’s gone out to the frame store to buy some framing straights so she can hang some of the prints rolled up in the cardboard tubes stacked by door.

Maybe she’s down at the Michael’s store buying prints of exotic cars. Maybe she’s at the bookstore buying a book by James May. Maybe I just caught a glimpse of her in the rearview mirror.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Jagg You Are!
Last night was the Can Can.

Today my head is going to fall off. Not to mention all the other parts dancing lessons have “limbered” up.

“D” and I had our second dance lesson yesterday. She remembered learning to do the Can Can from a teacher who had once trained Fred Astaire. This led to me digging out a DVD of “Moulin Rouge” and flipping straight through to the dance scenes.

The movie is visually stunning. The color palette is amazingly bright and beautiful. The dancers are incarnations of the dancers captured in Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. I recognized them by name as they spun through frame. Nicole Kidman is stunning. Had this movie been made in another time I could have seen Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire in the leads. Of course back then they would have played hell getting around the “Courtesan” plot line. But they would have made it some how.

I’m always amazed when I see “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Butterfield 8” at how filmmakers had to tiptoe around. But those movies would not have been as spellbinding as they were if they were made today. The conventions and restrictions of the time kept them from descending into graphic images that would have distracted from the story line. As it is with the shower scene in “Psycho”. It never shows an actual stabbing but it conveys one with more impact then today’s special effects slashings ever do.

“D” watched the dances and got interested in the movie. We were almost to the end when I fell asleep.

I’d forgotten how dismal that movie was. Or more accurately how dismal I’ve become.

The swirling love story, the sugary pie crust promises, the angst, the tragedy. Oh gag me with a fork! As Christian pleaded for a slice of sack time with Satine, the chanteuse, I had dark thoughts.

“I’d like to find a guy who would keep his promise not to stick his tadger in other people.” I remarked to Dione.

“Ain’t that the truth.” She replied.

When the movie ended we went back to broadcast television and caught the end of a new episode of “Top Gear”. “D” and I whooped with joy when Mr. May won a race against his co-presenters. It was a nice moment to see James laugh.

The local cable company cut in with a commercial spot for an online matchmaking service. A happily matched pair was making promises to each other on how they would keep their relationship alive. They spouted the usual bullstuff about “I’ll never wear a nightgown.” And “I’ll never choose the super bowl over you.”

I hit the live TV rewind. We watched James use a Jaguar to body slam Jeremy Clarkson off the track. In fact we watched it three times. We’ve got our priorities straight.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Pensylvania 65000

Is there a gentler way to put that?

Perhaps. “Yes what do you want?” or “Yes I hear you, please continue with what you want to say.”

Maybe, “Yes I hear you. Please continue.”

Is there a gentle way to respond when someone calls you?

What do they say in the UK? I’ve noticed the guys on Top Gear, including the highly esteemed Mr. May, use phrases like “fell over”, “that’s not gone well”, or “that’s rubbish”. I wonder if they have a catchy phrase for answering when called. It seems the Brits use “Oi” when they scream at each other from distances.

My girlfriends and I use the phrase “Yo Mama!”. The correct response is either, “Yo Mama!”, “Hey hot mama!”, or “Hey Chickee Doodle”.

I can’t quite use either of those phrases here. I’m not sure who is calling me.

It’s like the feeling of being in a crowded room and knowing someone is staring at you. I know, since I publish a blog, I should hope somebody is looking at my page!

All this rummaging around looking for long lost friends kicked off something.

So, if you’re reading and you want to say “Hello”, click on the “Email Justine” button by my profile and drop me a line.

This includes you Cousin Monday! Let me know how you're doing, I'm worried about you.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
You are not going out of the house like that!
My houseguest, Dione, was at the ready when I crept towards the door to leave for work this morning. She stood in front of the door with a hair brush in her hand.

“You are not going out of this house this morning with your hair like that. You look like James May!”

The highly esteemed Mr. May is charming as a man but, as a woman, I don’t think his is a look I should aspire to.

I am not six foot tall, British, dark haired, or a man. I’m short, American to a fault, blonde, and definitely a woman.

I do, however, have the shoulder length curly hair that goes “mad scientist” on me in humid weather. Since it’s July in Maryland, it is by definition, humid.

This morning I was working that long haired James May wild native look for all it was worth. I’d brushed the tangles out of my hair, threw on the ubiquitous fashion faux pas scrunchie and headed for the door. Until Dione stopped me.

Under the threat of a hairbrush beating I sat down on a footstool and held still so Dione could work her magic. Ten minutes later I had a lovely curly up-do in all its stately, civilized glory. The hairbrush pointed down the hallway and I was sent to put on jewelry and perfume. Last night I had been held at the point of a wicked emery board and had my toenails and finger nails painted with two coats of OPI “See Ya’ Later Sailor” polish.

I left the house this morning assembled, polished, and contrite. Ms. Dione is throwing down tough love.

Yesterday she put me through my paces in my first dance lesson of the week. When my legs started to cramp up we switched the music over to “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Live” and jitterbugged for an hour.

Then we made a raid on my shoe stash. I had shoe boxes in the closet that had come in the moving van and hadn’t been opened since. To my great sorrow a number of my favorites had to go into the “donate” bag. My broken foot has healed nicely but it’s not the same size as before. It’s also going to be a while before I can stalk around in anything over a one inch heel.

Then we moved the furniture in the bedroom, ran cable TV cables, and put everything back that the painters had displaced.

By 5:30 I was in a coma. This morning I’m a bit stiff in muscles I haven’t noticed in years. Tonight will be another dance lesson. Tonight will hanging pictures on the freshly painted walls. Tonight I will be threatened with more tough love.

Dione will never know how much I appreciate it.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I've Hacked The DVD Player
I’ve hacked the DVD player. I feel a sense of pride and ingenuity at saying that.

I’ve hacked a 1.5 million dollar piece of software on a 2 million dollar piece of hardware but that didn’t give me this much satisfaction.

Hacking the DVD player makes me giddy with glee. I can liberate a short stack of DVDs that have been limited to play on the PC. Now they can splash themselves on the flat panel television in the living room. More importantly they can blast through the Bose surround system. I love that surround sound. It may be wrong to love inanimate objects, but I love that thing. It plays live performance DVDs with pep and zest. Opera comes off as best it can off of disk. (Nothing can match the visceral zang of watching a person in the same room open their mouth and produce that sound.)

There has only been one place that system has let me down. That has been with Region 2 DVDs.

The “industry”, whatever they are, decided that DVDs should be coded by country. Region 1 is the US and Canada. Region 2 is the UK and Australia. This might never have been a problem except for Amazon.

Amazon.Com is the place to get hard to find CD’s. A lot of these CD’s wing their way to my door from Amazon and many of them have bonus DVDs tucked inside. Since Amazon brings in this cache of goodies from the UK, they are coded for Region 2.
I had been getting around this by using the VLC Player software on my PC. Then the package from the UK arrived with DVDs inside. The time had come to quest for a region free DVD player.

My Phillips DVD player is less than a year old. Its instruction manual touts that it “plays anything”. For the most part it does. It plays CD photo discs, DIVX Codex, and funky things that friends burn to disc for me. It doesn’t play Region 2.
I phoned Phillips to ask them since when was Region 2 not included in “anything”. The tech was very helpful. She read me the legal disclaimer then dropped her voice to a conspiratorial tone.

“Of course, we don’t guarantee that this will work but you can go out to the internet and find hacks to turn the region off. “

Ah. Thank you Phillips!

Within 15 minutes I had the region parm off and a shiny new disc queued up in the player.

The view of a camera mounted to the front bumper of a Lamborghini going down a winding road on the Riviera splashed onto the screen. The Bose filled with the sound of the engine and the road. No talking. No visible humans. Just the road.
A lightening zap to the nerves pranged down every chakra in my body then rocketed out my feet. Excitement charged. Good God I was excited.

The scene faded out at the bottom of the road.

A through the windshield view of The Stig running a Koenigsegg around a track faded in. I was paralyzed in transcendence.

Electrical charges arced through me. Every nerve lit up.

I made little squeaking noises I don’t usually make with my clothes on. A fine trail of drool slipped the corner of my lips. I was pretty sure I was going to have a sticky spot on the sofa.

The sequence ran through three more times.

My houseguest popped out of her room and announced she was ready to go to our luncheon party.

I turned the television off. Dazed, confused, and still in the ether I made it out to the car and took a few extra minutes fiddling with the things we put into the trunk.

I hadn’t felt joy and excitement like that in a decade at least. It was good excitement, Christmas morning excitement, or “He popped the question” excitement. My life has spun down into a place where excitement was novel.

I shook it off and put my head into driving to meet our former work crew. At lunch I wound up sandwiched between our motor cycle rider and where he stacked his jacket and cap. He wasn’t talking too much. I found myself staring at his Joe Rocket Ballistic jacket. Everybody tittered about the demise of Enterprise Cobol and the upgrades to make ZOS spin Unix logical partitions. I stared at the jacket. It’s a sort of mesh with protective plates slid into pockets. I had helped “T” learn how to wash it. Now I wanted one of my own. I wanted a motorbike. I’ve wanted one on and off for years, it’s back “on”.

Heaven knows if I can get up the courage to drive one in heavy traffic around here but I want to go for my training and try for my license. The next open classes are in the spring. The fall classes are full. Registration starts January 2009. The only pre-requisite is that I know how to ride a bicycle. That I do. I will have to do some strength training to make sure the foot I broke is back up to par. The class provides the bike. I need to wear my own boots and helmet.
“T” will choke to death laughing when I ask him to go with me to pick out a helmet. Maybe I should ask “W”, he works at a bike dealership now and they stock all the accoutrements.

It’s been odd trying to write about this. I never thought of myself as a gear head. I haven’t been out in the garage tinkering with a car since I was with “R”. He was working on a GTO and nobody he didn’t have hands small enough to reach down to a set of the bolts. He and his buddy balanced me on a blanket wrapped board across the open engine and held me by my feet while I wiggled my hand and wrangled the bolts.

Normally I wasn’t allowed to touch the car. I got to stand to the side in the garage and go make coffee or bring out beer. I was a girl, I was an accessory to put in the car on Saturday night so “R” and his best buddy didn’t look gay when they went to the car get together. It was very disappointing.

My grandfather had owned his own brake and front end business. I have a sneaking suspicion that if his health had stayed good longer I would have worked in the family business in my teens. By the time I was old enough to work, grandfather was dying of emphysema. He was a devout man, good, kind, and gentle. He loved me just the way I was. It’s odd to say I felt safe and loved in a six bay auto shop with the noise and the oil and the radio screaming but I did. Grandfather made me feel like nothing would ever happen to me while he was standing by. My father didn’t.

I have a better than average suspicion that my father tried to kill me. I know for a fact he tried to kill my mother.

No wonder I’m fascinated with cars.

If a piece of machinery spins you off a curve and into a tree it’s nothing personal. It’s a matter of physics and metallurgy. It’s you doing it to yourself.

All that said, my recent experience under the hood is limited to checking the fluids and changing the air filter. When I had my Toyota I was able to change the fuel filter and spark plugs as well. It was a simpler car in an earlier time. It had no computers. I’m hell with computers.

Right now the laundry is finished and I need to go fold it. Instead of clearing my head and drawing me into focus, writing this has made me even more addled. I’m suspended in a place of not knowing. I want more of that toe curling excitement in my life. Disaster and despair excitement I’m bored with. Possibilities are popping up. I am opening up to the past and the future all at once, sliding down the continuum from the desert to the oasis.

The DVD that “J2” sent me from the UK was “Top Gear The Challenges 2”. It features the “Search for the best driving road” adventure where Mr. May was broiled alive in an Aston Martin.

I knew “J2” was living in the UK again. I thought him lost to the distance, not lurking on the internet. I’m rather glad he was.
If you will excuse me, I have to go write a proper “Thank You” letter.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Oh God. Not Another Wedding.
Oh God not another wedding. Please no. Mercy.

This is one of those nights when I am positive that there are more than two sexes of human beings. There are men and there are women who are into weddings and those who are not.

I am not. My houseguest is. She is watching the characters of her favorite drama get married. Watching weddings makes her happy. She even enjoys going to the real thing.

I always feel like they should take the bride outside, tie her to a tree and set her ablaze.

It would be the merciful thing to do really.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been tempted down that wayward path towards insanity. A few weeks ago when I assembled all my sewing patterns into a neat folder box I found a pattern for a wedding dress. My wedding dress.

It’s out of style now so there’s no need to describe it, it would sound hideous. For its day it was the stuff that young women went googey over.

I did have two patterns. The first one has been tossed out. The first one was a slim fitting “white shoulders” dress. It had not been designed to be a wedding dress. Simple lines, no lace, no fru fru, no ruffles. It would have been a beautiful evening dress made up in sapphire blue. I never got around to buying the material in any color. I walked in on my fiancé cheating on me. He had the Bill Clinton sensibility on what constituted infidelity. We’d been dating seven years more or less; it all went up in a rather sudden fireball.

Mother always said all men were either womanizers or alcoholics and I had to choose which one I could stand the best. It turns out I could stand neither.

The second pattern, the one that remains, was purchased a decade later during my last go round with a “nice guy”. God save me from “nice guys”. An axe murder that tells you he enjoys being an axe murder is honest. I’d even dare to say he’s well adjusted. “Nice Guys” are not honest or well adjusted.

“M”, the nice guy, was a church board member. He took care of his elderly mother, he even bought her a new car. He had a master’s degree, was bright, clean cut, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, and didn’t have a rap sheet. He could discuss Viking literature, computer networking, and the selections from the great books reading list. He was a "real find" during the first year we dated. When I got to meet the family, the veneer peeled off like sandwich paper.

He had a duplex but he didn’t live there. He lived at his parent’s house with his mother, presumably to help with his terminally ill father. During my first dinner with the “family” I discovered his father was in the throes of a degenerative nerve disease and dementia. Since he couldn’t be trusted not to bash family members in the head as they slept, he was kept locked in the basement. Meals were carried down to him with all the food pre-cut.

During my visit the electricity went off because the father, a former electrician, was dismantling the household wiring from beneath. When “M” went down to repair the damage, the father slipped out the back door of the house. Once on the loose “M”s father fired up the family riding lawn mower and made good his escape from the neighborhood and onto the expressway two blocks away.

Once the escapee was corralled back into his holding cellar, I was informed that the family was not going to stand for their patriarch to be in “one of those places” and that was why they kept him at home. They thought keeping him locked in a basement was preferable to him being in locked door dementia housing where he’d have constant care and companionship.

I should have run like hell. But, in for a penny in for a pound, I stayed.

A second family dinner was planned. I showed up early. “M” was helping his mother set the table and put the last minute touches on the cooking. As they bustled about the kitchen I saw his mother give him “the look”.
“M”s mother watched him with a look in her eye that mothers should not have for sons. It wasn’t motherly love and pride. It was the “I want to bear your children” look. I shook my head twice and looked again. It was clear as a bell.

I was sick, heartsick and physically sick, when one of “M”s older brothers hustled me out of the kitchen into the foyer.

“You’ve got to get him away from her.” He whispered in my ear. “You’re the only chance he has.”

He broke away as the rest of the family filed through. Of the six children, only one stayed at home. Only one kept in daily contact with the parents. The rest, along with their spouses, looked at me like I was a sacrificial lamb.

Before my visit with the family was over I came to understand that only bedroom in the house was in use.

The nice boy was part of the sickest, most twisted, truly evil family I have ever met.

I ran like hell.

So here I am, convinced that bad boys are just bad and nice guys are all secretly f***ing their mothers.

I’m not totally bitter, just gun shy. I’m still open to the possibility of there being more than two types of guys. If there are at least two types of women perhaps there is an third type of guy, a “just average” type, out there.

Up to this point in this entry I haven’t made my James May reference. I respect Mr. May and admire his writing. I don’t want to be associated with this whole creepy story myself, let alone drag Mr. May into the picture. For my reference let’s just suffice it to say that this afternoon I loaded my new spoken word copy of his book into the CD player in my car.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Beneath the Stars
It’s Saturday morning. The sun is broiling bright just like it does in July in my lat-long. The Rhapsody player is burbling an odd combination of Jesse Cook and Crowded House. My house guest is asleep and breathing nicely now.

At three thirty this morning I woke up to the sound of her strangling with an asthma attack. It was a scary few minutes before the inhalers kicked in. She was huffing albuterol and I was scrambling for a pair of shorts and the car keys. I prepped for the mile drive to the hospital. She sat calmly on the edge of the bed waiting for the adrenaline to slam her back to life. It’s a whole lot easier to have an asthma attack then it is to watch one.

She did exactly what you’re supposed to do. She remained calm.

I had flashbacks. I’ve seen her blue and unconscious being hauled off by paramedics.

The albuterol did its work. After a bit we trundled back off to bed. All the Whos down in Whoville finally got some rest.

I’m so very good at taking care of my friends. I ought to apply the practice to myself.

Dionne has been chasing me around the house with a pair of hair cutting scissors. She has noticed that I’ve neglected to have my hair trimmed and it’s half an inch longer on one side in the back then the other. I need to pull the straight backed chair into the kitchen and let her even me up. When we worked together she would drag me into the ladie’s room yelling, “I’ve had it with those bangs. “ She kept my hair on straight even when my head was crooked.
Dionne and I both got ill about the same time. We became fast friends forever when we discovered we were both on the same experimental medicine. The vile stuff had just been FDA approved and doctors were throwing it at anything they couldn’t control. It worked for both of us for a while. However, the side effects were legendary.

We’d go out for dinner after work and share “Does it make you . . .?” conversations. The stuff was pretty rotten but it kept us on our feet and paying our insurance premiums. Sometimes the best you can do it to stay on your feet and keep you job and have faith.

It was like crossing a desert. Lawrence of Arabia became my hero. I was crossing my own Nefud desert; I had to hang onto that camel. My nightstand shelf had a copy of the Bible and a copy of “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. I kept telling myself that he wasn’t any taller then I was, he probably weighed less, and he managed to shiny up telegraph poles and blow up rail ways. (True or not this was my rallying cry.) I did not have the warring Arab tribes to unite but I did work with four “Good Old Boys” who were alcoholics and womanizers whose looks had gone.
To them women were less than human and nothing would earn their respect. Their own laziness had led to me being saddled with most of the hard core technical installations. That suited them fine until they realized that I was the only one in the shop could fix the high profile applications when they went down. I had been handed a bucket load of high profile recognition and commendations from upper management. It made the Good Old Boys hate me.

I had one co-worker who got looped at lunch and chased me through the building’s stariwell with his tadger waving about. He only did that until he discovered I kept a five inch Chef’s Knife at my desk for cutting up fruits and he was looking pretty fruity to me.

Dionne worked with the same group. We were part of a circle of women techs who watched each other’s backs.

Dionne’s and my drug stopped working for me about a year before it stopped working for her. By the Grace of God another new drug has just hit the market. It worked with no noticeable side effects. It got easier to stay on the camel. A short while later I was diagnosed with a multi-syllable genetic endocrine syndrome. Once I started taking the proper meds, life was a whole lot better. My camel arrived at the coast. We waded along the beach in celebration. A still frame of Peter O’Toole as Lawrence riding his camel along the beach became my PC wallpaper for a long time.

Dionne was diagnosed with a wicked form of arthritis. She’s retired on disability now. I can only imagine how bad the pain is some days. We take it slow. We giggle a lot.

Last night we went to Bengies Drive In for the triple feature of “Kung Fu Panda”, “The Dark Knight”, and “Get Smart”. Yesterday’s temp was up in the high 90’s but after the sunset a breeze came up and it dropped down to the low eighties. We sat in our lawn chairs in front of the car and soaked up the moonbeams. The moon was full and the grounds were lit up in a wonderful pale light. I found myself looking up from the movie screen and tracking the stars as the slid across the sky. Only the brightest ones were visible against the full moon. I picked out part of Orion, a planet I couldn’t name sparkling directly over the screen, and what I thought were some of the Seven Sisters.

While the dancing popcorn carton countdown commercial played at intermission, I noodled describing the sky and the night. The words “velvet”, “soft”, “breath”, “cotton”, “sparkle”, “wink”, and “touch” came to mind. They were all totally inadequate. What can you compare a summer’s night to? Nothing. It is the original article, the thing from which all other descriptions drip like honey. Everybody who lives near my lat-long knows the experience. People from Nefud have their own unique sensations to remember. We are all out under the same sky, the same moon, and the same stars. We are all together and all flung wide apart at the same time.

Last night I think I caught a sliver of a sideways glance at what the Shamans call the “Dreamtime”. I’ve had friends give me short explanations, but they all agree it can’t be explained. It moves into the realm where the power or archetype and story move in unison to chip away at the gap in understanding from my mind to yours.
I am nocturnal. I come alive when the sun goes down. It defies explanation and still I write about it anyway. It my landscape and that is where my stories must occur.

We wandered home at the start of the third movie and rambled in at two thirty a.m. I love the contented exhaustion that comes from drive-in nights.
This is the point, that since I have forgotten to mention him, I usually throw in the James May reference. Truth be told I have a valid reference for yesterday. I just have no graceful transition.

Thursday a package arrived for me from the U.K. It was from a friends I haven’t heard from in a long time. I didn’t even know they knew I kept a website.
Tucked inside a padded parcel stamped with “Royal Mail” I found a four disc CD set of “James’ May’s 20th Century” as read by the author. The note attached read, “You must have mellowed. I’m surprised the clerk’s still alive.” It said a few other things but no need to go into them here. Ahem.

I’m beginning to think I need a public image coach. I don’t think I’m a battleaxe, but apparently my friends do. What does that say about them?

There was a DVD in the package too. I won’t say what that was. That is another tale for another time. It’s somehow suddenly become 12:44 in the afternoon and I need to go wake Dionne. We’ve got a lunch date with our former coworkers.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Drag Out Your Tiara
My “books in play” shelf is loaded up with essays these days. Brilliant, bright prose is a succulent indulgence. It has the quiet, intimate feeling of having a conversation with the author or perhaps reading their journal. However, I’m noticing a good portion of them are negative. It’s “I crashed my Aston Martin” style stuff. I’m trying to puzzle out why. I think it’s because that's how people bond.

At the workplace we start out with the unpredictability of the weather and talk our way through the way the office refrigerator smells like a dump. If we go on long enough, our common frustrations make us comrades in arms. We smile and speak in the hallways; we go out to lunch together.

Being negative is the easy laugh. It’s easier to rant, rave, and complain; we’ve had more experience at it. Sad but true.

Today I am in a calm, beautiful spot of anticipation and hope. It’s a bit disorienting to try and write about it.

When I arrived home last evening, my bedroom had been painted a luscious and unusual shade of blue. The sweet reddish mahogany furniture “popped” with life against the walls. The dowdy old drapes were gone. For the first time I really noticed the number of roses in the pattern on the duvet and sheets. It all came together in a balanced and serene visual.

The painting portion of the remodel is finished with the exception of the great room ceiling. But that’s it isn’t it? It’s always the one thing left that draws your eye.

We live our lives always looking for what stands out. As children we pencil through dozens of workbooks where we circle what doesn't belong.

Like computers we live our life by “exception report”. It’s the overdue account that gets the nasty phone call.

That’s how we’re made really. It’s a survival skill from way back. The pre-historic woman who noticed the odd movement in the underbrush first kept her babies the safest.

In this day and time the keenest observers are said to be those who grew up in abusive homes. It’s a handy skill, being able to pick up on the subtle change in another’s mood and movements that signal that you are about to be beaten senseless. But, it’s really only successful when you can get away. Otherwise it just helps intensify the fear and the torment. Like in car accidents where the officials say you are much more likely to survive if you don’t see it coming and you don’t tense up.

See? I’ve done it again. I started to write about hope and joy and I’ve wound up on child beating. Perhaps my memories of Mr. Petty and I hiding in the attic are too fresh. Being only memories of a dream they are still stronger then the actual experience of sinking down into a freshly made bed in a newly painted room in a safe and peaceful home.

Last night’s dreams were soft and warm. I vaguely remember them being about lazy Sunday mornings in the eiderdown. Peaceful. Tranquil. When the alarm went off this morning I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in. The television remote was still in my hand. A very rare occurrence indeed.

I want to hold on to that memory. It’s the screaming nightmares when I wake up standing on the bed and smashing the ceiling fan with my fists that I remember most.

Today is bright and sunny. We’ve having temps near one hundred. The new central air conditioner at the house is running like a champ. I’m working a half day and I get to go home and go shopping with my best friend Dionne. This evening we are packing our lawn chairs and cooler and going to the Bengies Drive In Theater. We’ve been talking about going to the drive-in for months. Tonight is fun and frolic night.

We even have “tiaras” to wear for the festivities. When we my gang of friends all worked together in the same office, we decided that we needed royal names. Upper management had selected names like “King”, “Lord High Executioner”, and “Royal Exchequer”. We decided to follow suit.

Dionne is “Queen Ethel Naomi”, Cheryl is “Her Royal Highness Queen Aunt Cheryl”, and I am the “Duchess of Gilbert”. I used to be “Duchess of Severn” but I’ve moved since then and my title has been updated. I picked duchess because I didn’t want all the fiddle-de-foolery that goes with being a queen or princess.

When I worked in that office I often did my best to convince the visiting IBM techs that I was only delivering print outs and not doing systems programming. I never wanted them to connect that “phone sex” voice that called the help desk at three in the morning with an actual person.

I found out about the “phone sex voice” by accident. One morning I was on my way through the tunnels that connected the complex and I heard two techs talking about the woman who phoned the help desk the night before. Since I had been the only one working on the disaster they were chatting about, I knew it was me. What I considered to be my “It’s three in the morning for the love of God fix this” voice was what they called “sexy”.

My alter ego was born. Whenever I called the help line again I did my best to sound like I was out of breath and ten seconds away from a very public ecstasy. The help line was more helpful and I got back to sleep a whole lot faster.

Back to tiaras. Dionne and I are going to nap this afternoon and then load up the car with the cooler and traverse the night time beltway to the drive-in. Tonight will be a full moon so at some point the theater owner will come on the speakers and point out the moon at its apex. On a clear night there are fifteen or so minutes when the picture is almost impossible to see.

Martin State Airport is next door to the drive in. Light aircraft fly over as they approach the runway. Sometimes they circle around the drive-in as if they don’t believe what they see. Bengies is the last drive in theater in Maryland.

This morning I am happy and excited. It’s a rare and wondrous thing. The weekend spans out before me as a block of anticipated fun and parties.

This is the point in the riff where I stuff in the James May reference. Perhaps I could reference that he has a pilots license. I could make some snarky remark about his lamented sense of direction. I could speculate on whether or not he has ever been to a drive-in movie. But I’m not going to.

Happy Friday!

Take a look at the Bengies Drive In Theater home page! Click here.

For a look at the unusual shade of blue I selected, take a peek at Behr's paint website. I picked "Coastal Blue" for the walls and "Icing Rose" for the ceiling. Click here.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
BABCO Billy & The Paint Roller of Doom
I found out yesterday afternoon at four fifteen that the painters were arriving at the house this morning at eight a.m. And by-the-way I needed to have the furniture moved out of my bedroom so they could plaster.

BABCO Billy was not amused when I laughed at him.

“Exactly how do you think I’m going to get that big mahogany bed out of that room by myself?”

“Well we’ll put a drop cloth over it that’s all.” He was huffy.

Seriously. I can wrangle the mattress and box springs, but I can’t get the bedstead apart by myself. It’s a two person job and one of those people better be taller than five foot five.

The whole bedstead comes to pieces with the turns of a few screws and clips. The trick is to have someone who can hold the headboard up while the side rails are taken off. The headboard has large finials on the posts and the center board rises in a curlicue arc to a six foot height at the center. A single, sturdy deliveryman can carry the headboard. It’s heavy and ungainly for anybody much under six feet tall. It’s not the kind of thing you can flip over flat and disassemble.

This morning BABCO Billy came through the door with a snort and draped the bed with drop cloths. Dusty, narky drop cloths, but drop cloths none the less.

“You might want to change your sheets tonight” He said.

“That’s an old sheet on there to protect the mattress.” I lied. I had vacated the bed only fifteen minutes earlier. My houseguest “D” and I had scrambled out of our respective beds to get dressed and get my room emptied out in time.

We had forgotten to cover the mattress with plastic.

Of course they are plastering today so the first thing I get to do when I get home is vacuum the mattress and box springs.

Thank God this is the end of the plastering. I can finally get the carpets cleaned.

I’d really like to get the carpet to go into the trash dumpster. It’s a hideous, cheap oatmeal colored short loop slap dash disaster. The last owners of the house had put an over inflated price on it and ,as their price crept downwards over the course of a year, they slapped a thin coat of white paint on the walls and replaced their wild 1980’s carpet with a neutral shade.

I’ve found chunks of teal and electric blue carpet still wedged under thresholds and baseboard moldings. It probably came in at the same time as the foam resin fake beams I had pulled down from the dining room ceiling. Based on the mauve colored bathroom fittings and the brass and cheesy cut glass dining room light, I’d say the whole house got its last makeover in the 1980s.

I’ve been in the house a year and six months on the 29th. It’s finished with its update. “D” and I are looking forward to going on a wild shopping spree this weekend for curtains and material for the canopy for my bed. Ok, it’s not a complete canopy. I’m not going for the Disney Princess look. Being a Victorian style, this bed has a square canopy that goes over the head board. Based on a Southern Plantation Bed from the late 1800’s , there are slots in the footboard to accept dowel rods to run mosquito netting from the headboard. Since I just forked out a gazillion dollars for new heating and air conditioning, no mosquito netting is needed.

Fascinating as all this is it doesn’t explain why I dreamed Tom Petty was in the attic. Tom and I were together in the attic actually. The house attic has a string of lights like a used car lot. Everything is arranged in quadrants so it can be located and pulled down.

The attic Mr. Petty and I were in had no floor. We were balanced on a few planks stuck across the rafters. We’d pulled ourselves up through a trap door in the floor. The attic had three levels, like behind the façade of a commercial building. We climbed higher on rickety ladders. We moved back into the darkness under the eaves. My late stepfather was following us with a 44 caliber.

We popped out the roof trap door and slid down onto the overhang roof and onto the storage tanks in the back. We made our way over the backyard fence out of the way of the streetlights and ran for safety in the crowds on the street.

I have a cousin who always reminded me of Tom Petty and I’ve had the new Mudcrutch album on the MP3 player. Perhaps Tom was standing in for cousin Tuesday.

When I get home tonight the painting and plastering will be over. I hope the nightmares will be too.

Hmm, I've neglected to put in the James May reference. I'll just mention that the esteemed Mr. May has reported on his home improvement struggles in his columns. He selected orgage and yellow stair carpet. I respect anyone who goes for color over the sea of beige.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Send A Fool to School
My toes are tingling.

This morning I went online to open the DB2 for ZOS Version 8 Installation guide. Instead I wound up on the home page for the Bob Bondurant Performance Driving School. I haven’t done that in a couple of years.

I had a vacation retreatin Taos New Mexico scheduled for next week. I’m not going. I don’t have any leave. Six months ago I scheduled a spot in the same workshop that brought me back to life seven years ago. It isn't to be.

I’m looking at vacations for next year. Sometime this September I will get a three week break before I start over at the NCC. After I go on staff I will accrue three weeks of vacation a year and I’ll have separate sick leave. All those little trips to the emergency room with mom can be shifted over to sick leave so they won’t burn my vacation.

In September I hope to get in a week at the beach. I’d like to go to Tybee Island and scout out cottages. I want to buy a house in Savannah or on Tybee in the next few years. I don’t plan on staying in Maryland. I don’t want to have to apply for a permit to carry concealed. With the way this area is going, in a decade I’ll need to pack a gun and contract a security company.

But back to Mr. Bondurant and his promise of “going entirely too fast”. I’m balanced between the thoughts “that way madness lies” and “exactly when did you die?”.

The class schedule promises all forms of delight. The most likely place for me to start is with something along the lines of “How not to get run over on the beltway.” After ten years behind the wheel of a Thunderbird, I’m familiar with spinning, skidding, drifting, and sliding around corners in controlled chaos. It might be nice to find out what I was supposed to be doing all those times I missed plowing into a tree when there were eight drops of water on the road.

The T-Bird required “driving gently”. The Sable requires beating about the head with a fish billy. Front wheel drive and power steering are incompatible terms.

The driving schools make a big deal out of what cars you’ll be driving during training. Some even let you have an in car video of your track time. I’ve seen Top Gear; I don’t want documentation of me screaming obscenities at an inanimate object. Or worse yet I don’t want them to send the tape to the executor of my will with a note, “This was the look of absolute confusion on her face right before she hit the wall.”

On Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson frequently laughs about the idea of going through the Pearly Gates backwards and on fire. He has a point. It beats the hell out of having a heart attack during Monday morning rush hour. Or going out terrified and screaming with a brain fried by Alzheimer's.

Google and Yahoo are not yielding anything in searches for local performance driving schools. It looks like it might be time to call my source for all things automotive, Cliff. This is about the time of day he takes his phone outside for a lengthy smoke break and returns his calls. If I catch him right he might even be in a compassionate mood and not laugh himself to death when I broach the subject.

James May has been to "Rover School". In this area it's a big deal to buy a Range Rover and go to Rover training. I just wish they'd add "how to park like a civil human being" and "no the price doesn't include the whole road" to the curiculum.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Gatsby is dead.

It always happens that way; it’s the way the book ends. Still, I’m shaken; there is a pang of grief. His lonely, rainy funeral looks like one I will soon be orchestrating.

Gatsby’s dreams burst into flame. Daisy was useless, shallow, a paper flower disintegrating in a rain of time. It is the same every time. Like Madame Butterfly.

I leave Madame Butterfly before the third act, always. I want Butterfly to rise up and behead Pinkerton. I need her to triumph. She never can. In my mind Butterfly is permanently twined with my mother. I remember mom singing “Un Bel Di” as she packed the dining room of our home on a summer afternoon. Father had abandoned us. The house was sold. Mother and I were moving in with her sister. For our family there would never be “Un Bel Di”. I was nine years old; I’d heard the music countless times before. I didn’t know what the words meant.

The first time I saw Madame Butterfly and read the translation, I wept so hard that the lady next to me handed me tissues and patted my back.

Mother is Butterfly. Perhaps I am Gatsby. But if I’m Gatsby, what is behind the green light on the dock across the channel? It isn’t any one man from the past. I’ve turned that stone over and over in my hands and never found it a be-all answer. It would be easy to say it was “to be loved”. But if that were completely true I would have married “J” when I was twenty one.

It’s something more. It’s something subtle that I’ve only teased out recently. My little green light across the channel is the overarching desire to go back to the day in 1971 when my father walked out on me. I want, obsessively need, to go back to that day and do something, anything to make him stay.

It can never happen.

Time can never run backwards. A truce can never be reached. My father is twenty five years in his grave. My mother may soon not even know my name. I am a grown woman with her eyes and his smile, forever melded.

The Gatsby inside me howls and pounds his fists. It is his sole intent to shred me fiber from bone and rend me into someone, anyone who can make my family whole again. There are a good many days that he doesn’t care if he has to kill me to do it.

There is a more reasonable side in my inner chorus; its needs are similar but not as absolute and violent. That section of the entourage wants to feel “whole”. That’s the optimistic side, the force that gets me out of bed in the morning, and what keeps me standing still and breathing deep when mom is throwing cans of dog food at me. That inner incarnation of me I will call Vianne. She is practical, pragmatic, and calm. In the back of her mind is a plan to put all the pieces together and come out with a vivacious, complete, and at peace person. She, perhaps, is closest to my heart. She’s given me the strength to buy and renovate the house, change jobs, close up mom’s house, and wade through a coursing tide of dammed up grief.

Some things I will never write about. Suffice it to say that when I saw my stepfather in his coffin, my first thought was “You can never hurt me again.”

Vianne is having trouble convincing Gatsby to come in out of the dark and join the twenty first century. Perhaps we’ll win him over. The important thing is we know he’s there. We’re on watch for one of his opulent parties of self-destruction. We know his heart is broken and we’ll be patient and hope he can mend it now.

James May has a new piece on the TopGear.Com He writes about driving tricky old cars. I'm sure I could have a great time thinking about the things I've adapted to but somehow I'm not quite up to it this minute.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Deliver Us From Evil?
James May does not always have move fun than I do.

This has become clear in his column this week. At some point last year Mr. May was stuffed into expedition clothes and trussed into a Toyota pick up truck to drive to the North Pole with Jeremy Clarkson. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he is being publicly flogged for having the presence of mind to take along a bottle of Gin.

The BBC and the general public have been having a narkfest about Mr. May and Mr. Clarkson having a gin and tonic while driving across the frozen frontier.

Jeremy Clarkson’s column this week responded by saying that on their next expedition Mr. May will mainline heroin and Mr. Clarkson will shoot a baby polar bear in the face.

Mr. May’s column has been a bit more sedate and claims that it was in the interest of safety that he asked Mr. Clarkson to slow down while he was cutting the lemon.

I’m having trouble seeing how two men, who are nigh on to freezing to death, having a drink is a television obscenity.

Over the weekend in a two hour block of television I was subjected to much worse. There were women in g-strings playing “professional” volley ball for the “world championship”, bloody and battered animals in cages at the ASPCA, and screen after screen of dead and dying children that I can do nothing to help. Those are obscenities.

Those are obscenities with rich and powerful sponsorship. Just like the anti-drink-drive lobby.

Clarkson and May were not sopping drunk mowing down seals and polar bears with their reinforced bumpers. They were not slurry speaking and blurry eyed espousing jumping ice crevasses as a new children’s sport. They had a single drink.

As they faced the life threatening perils of an ambient temperature of 30 degrees below zero, an exploding paraffin stove, sleeping in a tent in polar bear territory, carrying a loaded fire arm to go drop trou, and being in a vehicle with Jeremy Clarkson at the wheel, the "politically correct" lobby sees the worst thing they came up against as a few onces of gin?

I'm glad the "politically correct" weren't on the stand by rescue team. They might have shown up in bikinnis with a quart of milk.

Read Jeremy Clarkson's opion piece on the need to "behave badly". Click Here.

Read James May's request for Jeremy to slow down while he slices the lemon. Click Here.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Handy Dandy
Jeremy Clarkson is in my bathroom. He’s on the floor, behind the toilet and he’s going to stay there. At least until my house guest wakes up.

Sometime last week I wandered in with my copy of “The World According to Clarkson” and it got tossed on the shelf and fell off. Since Jeremy Clarkson wouldn’t like me anyway, I consider this turn-about-fair-play. His book, which is as funny and pointed as early Whoopie Goldberg routines, is worth the read. But right now he's wedged up against the bathroom wall where the plumbing leaks have been. Probably suits him just fine.

I read three or four books at a time anyway. If I can’t lay hands on one, I pick up another. Right now I’m resuming Clarkson, reading “Bloody Bones” from Laurell K. Hamilton, and “Spider Dance” from someone else. Of the three Clarkson is the current leader. If “Bloody Bones” doesn’t pick up the pace in the next ten pages it goes back on the shelf. I’ve got a stack of things to read that look more interesting.

Books are why my handbags always look like “mom bags”. My purses are oversized, wracked out of shape, and scratched up because I must be able to tuck a paperback book and a full sized hair brush in them. If I’m traveling, I stuff in my Sennheiser noise cancelling headphones and an MP3 player. The Sennheiser’s fold until they are the size of sunglasses and come in a zip case that wrangles the batteries and the wires but they still give the purse snap a fit to cram them in.

No matter how much of my sanity and my hearing the Sennheiser’s save, the book is still the key. In the fast paced world of computers the one thing you can count on is waiting for hours while some masterpiece of computer code lumbers its way through a terabyte of data. Fabulous opportunities to count the holes in the ceiling tiles usually spring themselves on you on Friday nights at five p.m. or when you’ve gone to a client site for an "hour" to help with a “small glitch”. You are usually left alone with nothing but a can of Pepsi and a pencil for amusement while you wait. In the “heightened security” climate you are not permitted a personal laptop, a blackberry, an IPOD, or anything else you can electronically nick data with. Paperback novel to the rescue.

This handy dandy device runs without batteries, doesn’t set off metal detectors, and comes complete with instant pause, rewind, fast forward, and chapter skip. All that’s required is a sufficient quantity of visible light and you are immersed instantly in a full blown story driven experience.

If you’re inclined, you can get all your books for free from the public library. Our local library prides itself on buying gazillions of copies of anything that gets banned. It makes them look adventurous and progressive and it’s always the first thing the rooty-snooty come looking for. Our library even has a guide on “What to read next” with suggestions on what books you’ll like if you’ve read everything by your favorite author. I miss the card catalog for that. I’ve found many wonderful books by accident while I was thumbing through those low tech index cards looking for something else. Now you’ve got to use a computer with an internet browser to search the library stock. The librarians have to run teens off the computers with a stopwatch and a broom so that anybody over the age of fifteen stands a chance of looking anything up.

I stopped using the library last year. My new house has one of the county’s largest library branches across the street and I’ve only been in it once since I moved in. I had to quit the library because I never remember to get all the books back on time. Also, my reading habits have wandered out of the mainstream. For all the political essays, environmental tomes, romance novels, and courtroom dramas our libraries stock, they don’t have much science fiction. They carry all the Star Wars and Star Trek novels and they have Harry Potter by the truckload and that’s about it.

Science Fiction has gotten to be tough to find even in the large Barnes & Noble bookstore. Not because nobody’s writing it, but because somebody in marketing has reclassified it. It used to be that any book that dealt with beings commonly agreed upon not to exist went in “Sci Fi”. Now they string the stuff out all over the place.

Let’s take the example of books with Vampires in them. The two novels from Andrew Fox, “Fat White Vampire” and “Bride of the Fat White Vampire” wound up in Literature. MaryJanice Davidson’s bright, breezy, and spoofy Queen Betsy series is in Romance. Charlaine Harris’ page turning mystery series is filed under Science Fiction. Laurell K. Hamilton’s dark and erotic Anita Blake series winds up under Science Fiction, Mystery, and Horror depending on who is shelving books that day.

Amazon and BN online come into their own here with their databases, search engines and suggested companion books. In online bookstores, computers do what they are best at – compiling lists.

Even when I go into a bookstore with a written list of books I want to purchase, things go chaotic. I was in the bookstore snob’s bookstore, Borders, a few weeks ago. I had found my Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher. But then I looked in their in-store computer for a copy of “James May’s 20th Century”. The computer pointed me at an in-stock copy of the book in the technology section.

The technology section required a Voodoo Priestess with a set of chicken bones to navigate. It had been carved up into five aisles of books with single shelf subsections for physics, engineering, individual computer languages, architecture, auto repair, home appliance repair, and building Lego mansions. I part timed as a librarian in school, but this defied the Dewey decimal system.

I trundled up to the “help desk”; a book store with a “help desk” instead of customer service clerk should have warned me off. The associate looked up the title and gave me the glaring eye.

“This is in physics are you sure you want it?”

The counter was narrow, he was short, I had a clean line for a sock in his snout. I hesistate, it wouldn’t have been worth the kerfuffle. Staring him straight in the eye, I put on my softest telephone sex voice, dialed up my best received pronunciation and panted back at him, “Well if Quantum didn’t make my head pop off at university I’ll take my chances with this thank you.”

He rattled a bit then popped out from behind the counter and headed for the stacks in a run. I followed at a leisurely pace.

For fifteen minutes he popped up ladders, searched floor level shelves, and wandered, disguised with purpose, through the “Technology” Section.

“It looks like someone has mis-shelved it. Would a similar text by someone else do?”

Bookboy was not going to admit defeat easily.

“No thank you. I really wanted the text by Mr. May. I’m looking for his ideas on the subject.” I smiled and sauntered off with my hand basket full of old fashioned Science Fiction.

The trade press says that Borders is in trouble. No wonder.

The local Barnes & Noble is staffed by new style hippies and Rastafarians, but at least they can find a book.

I came home and ordered the book through Barnes & Noble online. They gave me free shipping and my frequent shopper’s discount.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Born Toulouse?
Friday morning, a bastion of hope. Sparkling promise of fair skies and leisure. In your sweet daybreak arms I softly forget that the laundry hamper is full.

In this Friday’s daybreak arms I woke up with a pounding headache. I took two Advil and went back to sleep right through the alarm.

Luckily I worked late Wednesday night and I’ve got some time off to use this afternoon. Otherwise I’d be here half the flippin’ night.

Some part of me is pointing out that if I struggled my way into bed for one a.m. I’d be able to get up in the morning. But I beg to argue with this helpful fairy of conscience. In my life, not much good happens before it gets dark. Daytime is for work, careening around the beltway, trimming the front hedges, and dragging the trash cans out to the curb.

When the sun sets I come alive. My eyes pop open, my nerves revive, and I’m ready to go. If somebody would kindly cobble the National Gallery of Art onto my house, I think I’d be good to go. I could stay up all night rambling around staring at the Tintorettos, Goyas, Tissot ( the gallery only has one) and Renoirs. On demand I can parrot back the canon of agreed upon opinion on each artist. But at night, with only the guards for company, perhaps I could get back to enjoying the art.

That’s why I stopped going to the National, really. The last exhibit I went to was their big festival of Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre. The special exhibits galleries in the West Gallery were arranged with ephemera and art to give the flavor of the era. They included club invitations, a wall mural from “Le Chat Noir”, and a recoding of Aristide Bruant. This wasn’t a few restored Toulouse-Lautrec posters and a can can girl mannequin.

The galleries were crowded to capacity that was nothing new. I had checked my coat in the cloakroom so I wasn’t roasting from the heat. The NGA had even banned strollers from the exhibit. I should have been contentedly wondering about staring for hours. There was no reason for me to be miserable. But I was and I didn’t know why. In the Chat Noir gallery, bathed in dim light and packed with huge graphics, I realized the problem. I was reading.

I was reading the descriptions of each item. I was reading the organizers’ statements printed on the walls. I was trying to make sense of things, put them in a category, and to learn what was proper to know about the bohemian flurry. I’d turned my favorite pastime into work.

I had unwittingly abandoned my general practice of seeing a major exhibit twice. My first pass through and exhibition was always the best. I made a habit of reading nothing, except the names of pictures I wanted to find prints of. On the first go round I would let my eye discern what had impact, what told the tale, what knocked my socks off. In every exhibition I would find at least one painting that I could stand and stare at. The first pass was for the visceral joy of the art. The second pass through was for second impressions, listening to the tour, and reading things that caught my interest.

This sounds intensely, uncharacteristically nerdy for a girl who dreams of sports cars and owns a pinball machine. Trust me though; it’s all part and parcel. My credo says that any human creative work tells its story as a discrete singular object. Whether it’s a three foot long painting of the Creature from the Black Lagoon on the side of a pinball machine, the undulating body of an Aston Martin, or Toulouse-Lautrec’s Portrait of Aristide Bruant; each of these things jumps into you consciousness as a complete whole. Analysis, debate, and scholarly learning take each object and smashes it to bits for the sake of argument. Once it’s been smashed the joy is gone.

The same goes for written works as well. College literature courses always felt like vivisectioning a family pet, ignoring its affection and sparkling eyes in favor of seeing what its liver looked like. I changed majors from literature to computers. Computers have always been a learning curve and a pain in an inconvenient location. There was no joy to ruin.

There still is no joy to ruin. Making terabytes of accumulated facts and figures jump through hoops and turn into invoices and checks is not my idea of a good time. If I stop and think about the volume and scale of what my company does, it’s impressive. If I think about the people who benefit from the checks we send out, I’m assuaged. Perhaps I do some good in this world. If I think about doing this every day for the rest of my life, I’m suicidal.

I’ve been told this the prime time for a “second career”. I’ve had friends suggest I use my bookbinding skills, or love of art, or some other hobby as a springboard. When they speak it all sounds very logical. But when I try to form a plan it turns into goo. My fairy voice of conscience is joined by its bar brawling cousin Mr. Reality Check.

RC, as I call him, is burnt, broken, bitter, cynical, and has the gift of frighteningly accurate insight. He hands me a smoke and a beer. He reminds me about the mortgage, comparative salaries for other careers, and the full laundry hamper. I’m balanced between members of my inner entourage and trying to chart a course out of the “slough of despair”.

Experience is an unprincipled teacher and memory is a big ugly brute that takes your lunch money and gives you a wedgie. Toss that toxic twosome in with the inner chorus and it’s easy to wind up paralyzed.

If somebody would just attach the National Gallery to the back of my house, then I could go out there tonight and seek Rembrandt’s counsel.

I could stare into Rembrandt's grey-green eyes and feel like he understood. He has before. I could ask him my questions. I already know his answer “ You already know what to do. F*** them if they can’t take a joke.”

You may be wondering how I'm going to work a James May reference into this post. Well, I'm going to cheat. This is my James May refernce. I told you, I'm not giving up no matter how cheesy this gets. Rembrandt told me not to!

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
High Spirits
“I merely wanted to be happily useless, you made me completely useless.”
- - “Peter Plunkett” in “High Spirits”

I’m feeling very Peter Plunkett today at work. There is a 150 line SQL sitting in the work queue for me to untangle. They sprang it on me today from a new system that nobody’s heard of before. They had migrated the thing straight from development into production but decided to back up into validation when their new star program took five minutes to return a single name and address.

I’m the information technology equivalent of a tow truck driver. When you see me at the auto shop in town I remind you to wear you seat belts and don’t drive drunk. You ignore me. You crash your expensive sports car into a ditch at full speed. Then you phone me up and scream at me because the tires I put on your car wouldn’t hold a 90 degree turn at 140 mph.

It’s my job to bring my tow truck out and pick up your wrecked masterpiece of code and fix it. Not just fix it back to how it was when you crashed it. I’m supposed to fix it back to better then before so that you can now take your Bugatti around a ninety degree turn at 200 miles an hour.

If I get you up to cornering at an amazing 35 miles an hour, you bitch and moan. If we just keep you out of the ditch at 25, you call our supervisors and threaten our jobs. If we have the nerve to reproach you for driving stone blind drunk and with your teeth, you threaten our families with violence.

Last November I was offered this particular task because nobody else would take it. I was also low girl on the assignments list. When I met the principles , I neglected to notice that one of them was an egomaniac and the other was a born worshipper. After I landed on the team the egomaniac, who was supposed to be training us, decided to leave for more cash. The worshipper fell apart. The political waters grew fetid. Piranha and box jellyfish circled. We all found out how much “Mr. Ego” had berated his customers. He had them all convinced they couldn’t code for themselves. He had written most of their code for them. Oh joy.

I am on the way to a transfer out of this little slice of madness. But that won’t be for a few months yet. Today I am looking at a car crash SQL that looks like somebody drove a formula one car through a cheese grater. I have no idea how to do anything with it that won’t bring down the sword upon my head. Mind you, I have ideas to improve this dog, but I’m not permitted to carry out any of them.

So at this point I feel very Peter Plunkett.

Contractors are notorious for being useless. I could deal with chipping in a limited input to the great Rube Goldberg contraption that is my workplace. But I want to contribute something. Instead I sit here blankly doodling and weighing the political implications of any move I make.

I hate playing head games.

In “Notes From The Hard Shoulder”, James May writes about his love of manipulating his traveling companions into buying hideous sunglasses and daft t-shirts at airports. He might even enjoy figuring out how to fox the folks around here. Perhaps he could talk them into writing their own code, or fixing their own design flaws. Maybe he could convince me that I don’t hate this assignment with a burning passion.

Better still, perhaps he could convince the personnel office to speed my transfer up.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Dancing In The Moonlight
The MP3 Playlist for the Car This Week. . . .

I'm posting this to see if Cousin Tuesday can pick it up and listen to it in his little corner of the world!

Dancing In The Moonlight:

1. Dancing in the Moonlight - King Harvest
2. I'm On Fire - Bruce Springsteen
3. Something In The Night - Bruce Springsteen
4. Racing In The Street - Bruce Springsteen
5. Darkness On The Edge Of Town - Bruce Springsteen
6. Scare Easy - Mudcrutch
7. Crystal River - Mudcrutch
8. Tango De Los Exilados - Vanessa Mae
9. The Havana Slide - Vanessa Mae
10. Moroccan Roll - Vanessa Mae
11. Raga's Dance - Vanessa Mae
12. Handel's Minuet - Vanessa Mae
13. Perfume - Sparks

FYI: Top Gear's website posts weekly playlists of songs from its shows. These shows also include the Esteemed Mr. May. :) No, I'm not going to give up, no matter how lame it gets.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Fog On The Road
I should stop staying up half the night.

Or at least, that’s what my overbearing conscience says. I know it’s wrong. I’ve been up half the night for the last five nights running and I feel the better for it. I’ve spent my evenings out cruising, not in an Aston Martin but in a reasonable 200 bhp moderately priced car. I’ve been out to the drive in movies. I’ve been writing. I’ve been listening to music. I’ve been talking to my ex.

Yes I spent three hours on the phone last night with “W”. He was only mildly mind boggled that I had dropped out of the sky again. We saw each other in May when he was in the area for classes for his company’s new POS system.

What I remember as a contented and romantic time in my life, he seems to remember as a Texas cage match. I only remember a few choice routs; times when he thought he’d bowl me over and get his own way and failed. He struck me once in anger. It was a near fatal mistake for him. We were in the grocery store and I was armed with a large can of sauce tomatoes. I drew back but stopped before I smashed him in the head. Somebody had to be the bigger man and at that moment it was me. Until now, that incident had been buried in memory.

“W” updated me on the status of the flock of elderly relatives he is taking care of. I know them all well. He also let me know that his church buddies have signed him up for a dating service. The service has matched him up with women in New Jersey.

I surprised myself when I said, “Rather then drive to New Jersey why don’t you get your backside in the car and drive here instead?”

That one mind boggled both of us. After all, if he remembers me as some kind of female “Rick Flair” mangling him with a relationship version of the figure four leg lock, why would he want to drive one jot in my direction?

Why indeed when faced with the prospect of a Jersey Girl?

Fifteen years of nebulous alliance will do that to you. Make you feel you always will have “dibs”, prior claim, a right to be jealous.

The conversation slid around the corners for a few minutes until it found traction again. We left it with a date to go to the drive in movies sometime after my houseguests leave.

We said goodnight just as my telephone was giving its “battery low” warning beep.

The television was on, Top Gear started its late night second run. They were racing a 24 hour endurance at Silverston. The cameras showed the night time road from Richard Hammond’s viewpoint. The corners flew up faster then the headlights could uncover them. He was trying to remember the sequence and direction of corners, but to no avail. I knew how he felt.

As the race went deeper into the night, James May took a turn behind the wheel. Fog settled onto the track. He was coping nicely until Jezza Clarkson made some smart remark in his ear; James flinched and went off the pavement into the gravel. I had a feeling I had done something very similar in the hour before.

He righted the car and went on into the fog. So did I.

Foggy Night Ahead

James Saddles Up

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Monday, July 07, 2008
The Great Gatsby
"He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was."

The Great Gatsby
F.Scott Fitzgerald

XM Radio has begun playing "The Great Gatsby". I'd forgotten how much I loved Fitzgerald.

I'd actually seen the movie of Gatsby before I read the book. Robert Redford is forever in my mind as Gatsby. The beautiful butter colored car covered in chrome gleams in my memory. A few years ago I bought a Dept 56 Great Gatsby set with Gatsby's house, a fountain, Gatsby, Daisy, and the butter colored car.

In my minds eye I can see James May driving the infamous car through the badlands. But I can't imagine him taking the blame for someone else, even Daisy. The esteemed Mr. May doesn't write like a Gatsby type. Who knows? Perhaps he stares at the proverbial far shore with regrets himself. His essays do not say.

When I first saw "The Great Gatsby" years ago I was fascinated with the swimming pool and summer house, with the image of Gatsby gone to ruin in the water. Burning everything in his life for Daisy alone. Then there was Daisy, that "other breed" of girl who made no sense to us children of the sixties. We lived in an age of unbridled optimism. We had the sense of certainty that all tyranny was behind us. We were allowed to wear pantsuits. We could vote and own property. We were truly the blessed who benefitted from our Grandmother's suffrage marches.

Daisy was an odd thing. She fluttered aimlessly as wronged and wrong herself. Gatsby was all about Daisy and totally unaware of her at the same time.

I am still unsure of Daisy. I do a better job of grasping her inability to run her own life, but she still strikes me as vorpal. Gatsby still looms large. He is more tragic now then ever. I have stood on the dock at West Egg myself a few times.

Today was another set back in my quest for a transfer. The applications all had to be thrown out and redone. There will be another posting. I will need to sharpen up my essay answers. It is a matter of waiting and being calm. Another lesson in patience and persistence. I come to the page to make the time go and make me feel less useless where I am now. I look forward to going back to things that make sense, that I can do and know when I'm done. I'm going to flutter off now and take to the beltway. I have errands to run and promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
O' Say Can You See?
Caffeine, I need caffeine. I need a pair of Anacin too.

The Monday afternoon sunlight is burning my eyes. They feel like they’re going to fall out of my head.

I shouldn’t feel this way when I haven’t had any alcohol in days. Ugh.

I’m staggering around at work like I’m coming in off a three day bender. I’m looking at yesterday’s blog entry and it looks like it was written by somebody who was seriously in the bag. I’m going to need to rewrite it if I’m going to keep it posted. I try to be honest in my postings, since nobody reads them anyway, but in that one I sound down right demented. Trust me; I know what demented looks like.

Over the weekend Mom hit a new low. I don’t think I’ll be able to take her out of the facility much longer. In the last three weeks she’s deteriorated to the point where I can’t take her out of the car. So for Fourth of July we went out for a take out picnic in the car. We did the same on Saturday afternoon. Neither day was she making any sense at all. More alarmingly she is not eating enough. I had to coax her like a toddler to get her through the beef on her sandwich. Secretly I know that unless her heart fails first, she will continue to go down the hill into the darkness of dementia until her life is a nonsensical terrifying nightmare or a drugged stupor. She spent the last twenty years of her nursing career working with the aged and those with Alzheimer’s. Since the beginning stages of her disease, she has been horrifyingly aware of what is happening to her. Current anti-anxiety meds holding her together enough that she’s not terrified every moment of the day. Alzheimer’s is a horrible way to die. I wonder what brightly named meds I’ll have to take to avoid going stark raving mad as I watch her go.

I could go on here about “unfair” or some such. I’m a big girl now; I know that fair hasn’t got anything to do with anything except the television publicity for state lotteries.

I have distinct, long ago, memories of my father singing along with Kenny Rodgers’ “The Gambler” on the radio. His voice took on a wistful tone when he hit the line “And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

Dad died in his sleep. His heart quietly stopped after cancer had mangled his liver and bone marrow so that there were no red blood cells carrying oxygen to it. For whatever it looked like, I never thought suffocating was a peaceful way to go.

But this is the way of the world, non? I have visions of Pepe LePew looking sage and sardonic on the drive in movie screen dispensing the question.

It all tumbles together after a while, the horror and the humor and the absolute bits of truth wedged in strange places for your eye to catch on like sparkling stars on a cold night.

It was a long hard Fourth of July weekend.

Something snapped and broke. Something in me transcended. I tried to write about it yesterday, but I missed the mark. It’s like love or country, you can only write about those things when you are far away. You can’t speak of them when you are too close, the truth and the illusion hang to tightly around you. It’s like the ex-pat writers stacking up in Paris in the last century. It’s like the disillusioned and broken hearted writing their great love stories after the last embers of the conflagration have left them cold and scarred in the light of morning.

I have been on a journey that started in the Taos high mesa desert in 2001. It ended Friday night as I drove across the Frances Scott Key Bridge, watching fireworks in the rear view mirror. I had sensed when it began. I didn’t know that I be able to feel when it ended. It didn’t realize there would be a satisfied sigh and the soft settling of the shoulders like when you come through the door at the end of they day. As I watched the green and red of a chrysanthemum blast fade in the rearview mirror, I caught a glimpse of my own green eyes. A woman was looking back at me that I hadn’t seen since my college days. She was certain. She was exactly as and where she was supposed to be. She regarded last week’s updates on “W” and “J” with a slow blink that let me know that she would have done nothing differently. She had always been true to herself. She had no regrets.

I didn’t weep. There was no reason to. My life has righted itself.

You may be wondering where my James May reference is in this post. Well here it is! James May, James May, James May. :)

A new season of top gear starts next week. More fast cars. Goody.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Dancin' In The Moonlight
It’s been a strange weekend at the Tuxedo Inn. Very strange.
I sit here on a Sunday night with squeaky clean soaking wet hair and tomorrow’s clothes not picked out. After 3 days I need to hit the key board. I need to report that something has changed.

Yesterday morning I woke up in a strange woman’s bed.

When I opened my eyes the sun was halfway up the sky. I was alone in a room that was as odd and uneasy as the home of a dead person when you come to empty it out.

No sisters of Sappho were waiting for my trembling hands. No unnamed bar room boy was frantically chewing off his arm on the right hand side of the sheets.

The ceiling looked familiar. There was that spot where somebody never plastered evenly. The Victorian Mahogany headboard still towered up over my head. That much was still the same. The room was familiar but it wasn't comfortable.

The lingerie chest still stood against the wall by the closet. The mirrored tray full of perfume still sat on top. Il Baccio, Knowing, Beautiful, L’Heure Bleue, L’air Du Temps, Shalimar shoved in with others. “W”s favorite was Beautiful. “M”s favorite was Shalimar. I wore L’air Du Temps for “R”. L’Heure Bleue I wore for myself.

It took me a moment to realize all of that was in the last century and the first blinding year of this one. I used to wash my hair and touch it with perfume as it dried.

The bottom drawer of the chest still held my stockings. They were still arranged by color and texture. Summer and winter shades. The beautiful silky textures of dress and the heavier weight of everyday. The garters were still neatly folded beside them. White, beige, black, light blue.

If you want white fabric to look white, put the palest blue beneath it and it will shimmer the blinding white of summer sunshine. I used to buy my stockings from a fabulous hosiery store that sold dancewear too. It was pure luxury to wear comfortable stockings instead of pantyhose.

I no longer even own a dress. The last one I had I bought for a funeral. I gave it away immediately afterwards. I never keep funeral clothes.

I opened the closet door for a robe. Apparently I no longer own one.

I remember a beautiful silk robe that, when worn to the breakfast table with “W”, lead to a great deal of Sunday afternoon being spent in bed not reading the papers.

When “W” and I called it quits, I sent the robe to the curb in a black trash bag.

On the shelf in the closet, where my robe no longer was, I saw my makeup case. It had a thick layer of dust on top. It had stopped making the daily trip to the bathroom mirror. But when?

The last seven years spanned out behind me like an uninterrupted nightmare.

In 2001 I was seriously ill. It's boring and tiresome to write and read about illness. I'll just say that it wasn't an addiction or mental disorder and that my doctors wanted me admitted to hospital. I had a vacation scheduled and, against their orders, went to Taos New Mexico. I traveled up into the high mesa altitude for a women's only retreat. I wanted rest more then any more hospital tests.

In the “Ansel Adams” room at the Mable Dodge Luhann House I lay under the sage laced ceiling timbers and listened to spring thunderstorms rattle the windows. Sitting at the small desk in that room, looking out at the sacred moutain, I started my long strange trip. I’ve plodded every inch. Last weekend I crawled out of the rubble at the end of the journey. It was time to wake up and walk out and see where I had arrived.

Somewhere along the line I would up sleeping alone, unperfumed, and in a cotton night shirt. I don’t know when it happened but someplace along that journey the woman I remember blinked out of existence.

I miss her.

Parts of her still live in what remains. I want to invite her back out to play. She had fun. She was fun.

I don’t know that I’ll run right out and buy a rack of dresses and heels. I’m not even saying I’ll give up wearing my Crocs on casual Fridays. But tonight I laced my hair with L’Heure Bleue again. As it dries I smell the bergamot and neroli.

Fourth of July night I went dancin’ in the moonlight and took the car for a late night drive with the moon roof and windows wide open. It cleared my head.

I wonder if James May has a favorite perfume. Perhaps men, don't remember perfume names at all. Did you think I was going to stop with the James May references after only 2 weeks. Not Likely!!!!

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Captains Slow & Invisible
Pardon me but I’m going to go by a green mustang. I’m having a midlife crisis and I think I deserve a sports car now.

I mean it must be a midlife crisis. Or is that only for men? Women get the flying banner “peri-menopausal”. Sounds too much like Perry Mason to me. Of all the many things I am, a tubby gay male lawyer is not one of them.

Men are accorded the privilege of going bonkers, buying a sports car, and taking up with a mistress three years younger then their youngest daughter. Women are accorded the expectation of injecting botulism toxin into their faces and bemoaning infertility.

I’m choosing the “go bonkers and get a sports car” option. Since I have no kidletts of either variety, I don’t have to worry about dating the college roommate of my offspring. But really, why would I want a 21 year old guy? I thought they were proper wankers when I was 21. I’ve always been prone to men in their 40’s. My inscrutable mother always said it took the male that long to get his head out of his arse.

This contrasts sharply with the midlife crisis model. My dad went for the midlife crisis model and shoved his head farther up his backside. But that was dear old dad.

When I turned twenty one he had a dyspeptic fit as I tired to leave the house in a camisole top and a pair of jeans shorts. I was forced to go back to my room and put on jeans and a t-shirt or my date would be shot in the leg with a large caliber semi-automatic hand gun.

My date at the time had a slow and deliberate air about him, much like the highly esteemed Captain Slow. The biggest similarity though was the hair style. The biggest difference was that my date had no concept of the Bernoulli principle or much of anything else. Yep, slow and thick as a plank.

Dad should have lived longer and sorted out a number of my other beaus. But, he smoked himself to death at the ripe old age of 49.

As the song goes “When he died all he left me was alone.”

I’m still a good clip under Dad’s terminal velocity on the calendar. But, I am entitled, I believe, to take a break from drudgery and do something fun for myself. I need to poke myself with a proverbial sharp stick and see if I’m still alive.

There are plenty of folks who are chanting the Prozac prose of “The Secret”, tugging God’s sleeve like he’s a cosmic slot machine dumping out tokens. There are those who espouse the “simple” life where material possessions are not the source of happiness.

Me, on the third hand, I love sports cars. I’m also poor enough I can only support one hungry gas tank at a time. Any car I have will be plowing the beltway five days a week to earn its petrol.

I have been lured by the siren song of “sport” before. I had a “shall remain nameless” piece of technological cyanide. At 4 thousand miles it snapped the timing belt. Apparently many of that model did. They rebuilt the engine instead of replacing it. I drove a rental Toyota for six months while I made car payments on a sports car. "Christine", as I affectionately nicknamed her was not trouble free after her first stint at the garage. The transmission went wonky. The power steering took to leaking like a sieve before I traded it in. I had it 16 months before I crawled to a Ford dealership and bought a Thunderbird.

Not an SHO Thunderbird, but a large V6. A production car that had been chugging out of Ford plants unchanged for a decade. It was a car with all the “bugs” worked out. Bugs no, bad body welds, yes. It leaked rain water like a sieve for the first year until Ford re-assembled it for me. (Their were a lot of sieve like aggravations in my life those two years.)

I drove the Thunderbird for over a decade. I drove it until the alternator and fuel pump simultaneously expired. I grieved when I discovered some genius, probably a former beau, had designed the fuel pump to live in the fuel tank. It was game over.

I bought the Sable. For some reason I loved the gunmetal gray. In advertantly I bought a car that looked like a mortician’s everyday run about.

At stop lights up and down the main route between Annapolis and Baltimore, the poor Sable has been in five separate accidents. Four of them while sitting at red lights. One while pulling into the intersection on a fresh green light. All of them caused by males between the age of sixteen and twenty five. One of them was trying to commit suicide and picked my car to try it with. I have walked away screaming and crying from everyone of them. God bless that Sable!

The poor Sable has just come back from a session in the body shop caused by the last teeny bopper who borrowed my brakes.

Practically speaking I should select a hybrid or keep what I’ve got. From a safety standpoint, I should trade up to a dump truck. Ideally I should get another job and cut out the commute. But Options 2 and 3 are not likely.

I don’t want a hybrid really. His Top Gear co-presenters lament that James May has no sense of direction. I have a sense of direction, but I have the other much lamented motoring skill. I can break anything mechanical or electrical by just being in the vicinity.

When I arrive on the scene, computer monitors snap to black lines, hard drives wail into oblivion, clocks slip time, and cars go wonky. It’s my unique talent. I keep trying to market myself as a “tester” for software releases. My employer refuses because I don’t fit the profile. I’m not minority or disadvantaged or whatever fits their quota.

They should count me towards their federal mandate, I’m the biggest of all the minorities. I’m invisible. I’m a woman over thirty. I’m white. I’m fair haired. I’m everything it’s ok to abuse and ignore in the U.S. today.

I have the temerity to want a sports car, and to not want plastic surgery, and to refuse to marry any clot who comes along. I make my own money and I spend it. I don’t fit any of the demographic trends, so manufacturers and television programmers don’t want to know me. They keep trying to pander to my non-existent children.

James May will always be Captain Slow. I am Captain Inivisble.

Wonder where all this James May silliness started? Click here to see where it began on June 19th.