Saturday, December 23, 2006

it's a wonderful life

It has been a long week, mostly fun.
I’m the first to admit that I live a fascinating life, and no one is more surprised than me.
Here is a snapshot of the last five days (and the reason why I’m sitting on my sofa on a Friday night—willingly missing two parties).
Pop some corn and hunker down—it’s long.

Monday, December 18th.
I arrived at Second Helpings at 8:00. The Indiana Lt. Governor and her staff came at 10:00 to volunteer in our production kitchen. Her staff decided to volunteer at Second Helpings instead of going out for a holiday lunch. They did not let any media know, but our Marketing Department sure did. It turned out well and two stations showed a clip on the 6:00 news. Lt. Governor Skillman was charming and rolled up her sleeves and made meatballs for two hours. I think she’s been our only volunteer to wear pearls in the kitchen.
I left work at 5:00 and went to work some more—at the Red Key. It is hard to have a big head about being on the news with the Lt. Governor when you’re watching the broadcast while serving PBR and making tenderloin sandwiches. It was a late night. The Indianapolis Colts were on Monday Night Football. The bar was pretty full. Guys would sit at a table, I’d take their order, serve their drinks, cook their food and then a seat would open up at the bar—they’d pay their tab and tip at the bar. Quite frankly, I was feeling a little cranky (and poor) by the time I got home at 2:00.

Tuesday, December 19th.
I only slept for four hours and that was not nearly enough. I make a real effort not to complain at work. First of all, no one really cares. It’s my choice to work at the Red Key (well, maybe if I was paid a little more…) and I’m aware that some of our students live in shelters and would be thrilled to get four hours of sleep in an actual bed. It was the typically busy day. I wound up giving several tours and we had more group volunteers in the kitchen.
I was taking a nap by 6:30 with the intention of getting up and going to a birthday party. I couldn’t manage to get motivated. Marty said that he had a bottle of Irish whiskey just for me. I think it’s just as well that I missed it. I did wind up meeting DM for dinner. He’s a great friend and I’ve cried on his shoulder many times, so I was happy to listen to him talk about his current relationship. We exchanged gifts. He gave me three kinds of homemade cookies, a restaurant gift certificate and a great book (Reading Like A Writer). I gave him a box of my famous toffee, homemade vanilla extract and a measuring cup.

Wednesday, December 20th
My Dad and two of his grade school friends were hanging out on December 20th when they were 19 years old. They were having so much fun that Dad declared they should meet every December 20th. And for the last 53 years they have. John Dunn became my godfather and an Illinois state legislator. Jack Richason stayed in Logansport in the agriculture business. Between them they had 14 children and just as many grandchildren. Mr. Richason died four years ago. Richard Corso, another classmate has taken his place on December 20th. I was teasing Mr. Corso that he’d been on the waiting list for 49 years. I was honored that they choose to volunteer at Second Helpings this year. They do admit that a good number of the early reunions they saw the inside of a few bars.
I was able to surprise Dad by having one of his godchildren, Michael Carroll Jr. volunteer also. Michael is home from the Army for a few weeks before he ships to Afghanistan. I invited both of my sisters (Annie is visiting from Phoenix), Mom, my sister-in-law Anna, nephew John (celebrating his 4th birthday) and long time family friends Ann Mitchell and Fran Herr for lunch. It was a wonderful day, and I admit to walking around with happy tears in my eyes. I think Dad had a blast—at least I hope so, ‘cause that and a jar of peanuts is his Christmas gift.

I had an appointment for a haircut and color (big emphasis on the color) at 5:00. Michael made my hair look a shiny and straight, and making my hair straight takes a village and several products and tools.
I had not seen any music to write about for my Broad Ripple Gazette column. I went to the Red Key first. There was a band called The Three Wise Guys. They play Christmas songs with a bluesy slant. I’m not a fan of the blues. I can say that here, but not in my music column. I felt like they were playing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in actual time.
I ran in to a college roommate and his son. Rick was telling his son how wild I was in college. Which is funny. I was a punk-rock chick, but I barely drank, didn’t smoke or do drugs and certainly missed out on the whole sex thing. I’m guessing I was the only punk rocker that worked in a nursing home.
From there I went to Birdy’s, a music venue, for their Christmas party. It is one of my favorite traditions for the year (note to Mom: except for family gatherings, I promise). The fabulous musician Otis Gibbs dresses up as Santa each year. I love hanging out upstairs by Santa Otis and his girlfriend Amy Lashley (also an amazing musician) and the buffet (not necessarily in the order). I get my photo snapped with Otis each year. I keep looking older and Otis looks exactly the same, must be that Santa magic at work. It is also a chance to catch up with old friends. All of the bands play Christmas music. It ain’t Christmas until you’ve seen four guys in their forties performing the Chipmunk’s Christmas Song. It is a helium-helped masterpiece.
I stopped at the Jazz Kitchen on the way home (it really is on the way home). DJ Rusty was spinning to a full house. I ran in to lots of friends. Believe it or not, I hadn’t had a cocktail yet. A Jamison Irish whiskey appeared before me. And I drank it, ‘cause that is always a good idea at midnight.
I also allowed myself a moment of nostalgia. The Jazz Kitchen is across the street from the coffeehouse I managed for 8 years. A fence was put up around the CATH property that day. The site is being prepared for the arrival of Fresh Market grocery next year. The fence means that the buildings will be demolished soon. Standing in the rain, on the other side of the fence seemed like a good time to finally say good-bye to the CATH. I can’t believe how much of my identity is in that building.

Thursday, December 21.
Back at work at 8:00. I am the Director of Volunteers/ Building Maintenance. It always makes for an interesting day. After work I did some Christmas shopping. It feels odd to do last minute shopping in the Spring-like weather. After that I went to cover another concert.
This one was a holiday party for a record label. They seem to specialize in young angst-ridden bands. I won a raffle prize and the emcee called me “m’am” when I went to fetch it. The Birdy’s party felt like a family reunion to me. The Standard Recording party was like looking at the next generation of nieces and nephews. All of the cool kids were there, and I am old enough to be their mother. The editor of the Gazette was there and he had saved us a table. I typically don’t sit down at shows. I get too antsy and sitting down makes you an easy target for the weirdoes. Which is kind of what happened. After AVS (see October 29 post) and I broke up he dated Stacy. I run in to her occasionally and it is always fairly awkward. I’m guessing she is at least 10 years younger than me (AVS is 8 years younger). I literally bumped in to her a few weeks ago and we had a conversation that did not involve me turning red and clenching my fists. This night she plopped down at our table and started writing in my little notebook. You could have knocked me over with a feather. She was acting like we were best friends, which I’m not comfortable with. I walked away for a bit (I’m lying—I headed straight to the bar) when I came back she was asking me about TC, a guy I had been talking to at the bar. She told me I should ask him out. I said I was not comfortable with that. She said that if I didn’t she was going to tell him I liked him. It was all very junior-high like. I was chatting with TC later and she handed me a note that said “Ask TC out.” Ugggh. That and all of the shoe-gazing music wore me out. TC did text message me with a review of the last two bands. “Arrah & and the Ferns—disturbingly tiny banjo. Everthus the Deadbeats—circusy.” Those are the kind of reviews I like.

Friday, December 22.
I woke up at 6:00 to write my column. The deadline was earlier than usual because of Christmas and I had been given an extension already. I was talking to another columnist last week. She writes about birds. She was telling me that she has her articles done through April. She was suggesting to me that I do the same thing. I was telling her that was not possible reviewing music. I’m not sure that she understood why, of course I'm not sure how she manages to come up with something abut her backyard twice a month.... The BRG crew is very quirky; it is the first time that I’ve been the sanest member of any group.
Second Helpings was pretty quiet today. We prepare food that we send to other social-service agencies. A good number of the agencies are closed next week (day cares and senior centers) and there are groups that feed people just twice a year (Thanksgiving and Christmas), so the shelters do not need our food.

I’m glad I stayed home tonight. I’m wondering if AVS is in town..not that I’m afraid to run in to him. Okay, I am leery of running in to him. I’ve the difficult decision not to be in contact. Typically he would stay with me. I’m not sure how I’d react seeing him somewhere. And if he’s with a date—Ugh.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

lazy days and sundays

I should be writing my Broad Ripple Gazette column, working on the piece I’m assigned for NUVO’s year in review issue, cleaning the house, doing laundry, writing Christmas cards, shopping for gifts, working out or cleaning the basement. Instead I’m taking procrastination to a new level.

I’m lying in bed, “Googling”. That is not as perverted as it sounds. I need to backup at bit, start with a confession. I did not have Internet access at home until last week. Yes, it’s true. I was loath to admit it. Write for two publications, book music and maintain a Web site? No DSL or wireless? Not even dial-up?

I had dial-up for years, and it was a pain. My house is pretty old with the standard one closet, four electrical outlets (some of my wiring is “tube and knob”—when the clothes washer is spinning, the lights dim) and one phone line jack. I purchased my beloved Apple iBook G4 in March. Dial-up did not work well and it seemed such a shame to have a mobile computer but be chained to the phone line. I do not have cable television and the heavily advertised AT&T/Yahoo high-speed access was not available in my neighborhood. How about spending a little less in advertising and bring cheap access to the poor folks AT&T? Cable access would have cost at least $50/month. I also dislike how the cable folks want to sell everything as a package. “It’s less expensive if you also get basic cable and cellular service only $99/ month." Huhh?

My favorite newsstand has wireless access, as does Indy Hostel down the street. I soon discovered that you could park outside of those businesses and still access the signal. Which came in handy when I was e-mailing a column in at 2:00 am. The owners of both businesses knew I was doing it, and found it funny. Matt (from the newsstand and my black-tie date) scared me a few time by knocking on my truck window as I was hurriedly typing away). Northside Newsstand is next to a bar popular with people who like to drink pitchers of beer (not that there is anything wrong with that) and watch the 82 televisions in the joint. I’m not kidding about the TV’s. I might be off by a couple, I get mixed up when counting—and that has nothing to do with the beer. I swear. I saw lots of fun/sad things sitting outside of there doing work in my truck. Once the signal was too weak to send the document, so I had do stand in the rain mashed up against the newsstand window to transmit it. I can only wonder what people leaving the bar were thinking about me.

All of this kept my Internet time pretty focused. Until last week. I got a new neighbor on the other side of the double. Matt is a full time writer and is 30 years old. I cannot describe the look of pity he gave me when I told him I did not have access at home. I think that gist of it was “poor clueless old woman”. Actually Matt is great. He wrote the piece profiling me as a community volunteer. We are now sharing the cost of wireless. The signal is strong enough for both of us.

Which is why I’m lying in bed Googling. I searched for “Nora Leona,” couldn’t find any born before 1882. And it’s not lost on Nora Leona Spitznogle (born 1961) that the time I took to write this I could have finished my column, started a load of laundry and walked to the Newsstand to get coffee.