Saturday, July 26


I've discovered the best website in the world: Just as it sounds, Unclutterer is a website devoted to helping people declutter things in their lives--at home, at work, on your computer.

I spent last weekend decluttering my apartment. I cleaned some stuff out of my front closet, got rid of extra and unneccesary furniture, and rearranged my "work area" where my computer sits. I had it facing out a window where all I could see were tree leaves or insane squirrels. Now I put it in the corner facing into the living room, (and the TV): my chair is next to the window with a view of the mountains--at least, the smidgeon of mountains I can see through the trees. My living room is so pretty that I like being able to see it, (and the TV), over my computer screen.

Anyone who knows me knows how much junk I have, (or, should I say had), lying around my house:

  • Stuffed animals.
  • Millions upon millions of unwanted diet books received from my parents.
  • Clothes I've owned since high school which are no longer in style or in my size.
  • Half-finished craft projects and craft "supplies" consisting of loose magazine pages, bits of ribbon, several types of tape, old jewelry, doll heads, origami paper, foil, fabric, thread, any and all things plastic and name it, if it's not biodegradable and should have been tossed/recycled years ago, I had it in my closet until Saturday.
  • So many plates and cups and glasses that they wouldn't fit into a reasonable-sized cupboard AND they don't match my set of dishes.
  • Duplicates and triplicates of kitchen things I only need one of (if that), such as measuring cup sets, collanders, pastry brushes, plastic strainers (for canned food) that break upon first use, half-melted get the point.
  • Ugly, cheap, broken-down furniture that came from former apartments (I've lived here for 3 years).
  • Socks, gloves, and earrings that I don't have pairs for.
  • Bottle upon bottle of nearly-empty hair product.
  • Tea boxes with only 1 or 2 teabags left in them.
  • Nearly empty pens.
  • At least 10 pairs of sunglasses missing a screw to attach the arm.
  • Shoes that I bought because they were on clearance and will never wear because they are uncomfortable.
Bear in mind, this was just the unneeded stuff in my kitchen cabinets, bathroom and 1/2 of my front closet. I still have my bedroom closet, dressers, hall closet, laundry closet, living room media storage, and the storage area on my deck.

Now I feel I must continue the decluttering, but I don't know which area to hit today. I hate feeling restless.

Sunday, July 20

I Love Cheese

I posted this a year ago on Myspace:

Every summer I become really obsessed with cheese. And not the kind of nice cheese you'd see featured in Wine Spectator magazine or anything. Gross cheese. Cheese that is the culinary equivalent of making out with Larry the Cable Guy. I'm talking the plastic-y yellow Velveeta cheese whose natural best friend is Spam. In fact, I think the first place I encountered the stuff was in cheese dogs (hot dogs filled with cheese) that my grandma used to serve me when I was about 10.

I'm not sure what the allure is or why it's mostly in summer. All I know is that I find myself thinking endlessly about Tostitos Queso dip and Tostitos Scoops chips and before I know what's happening, I'm at the Jackson's above my house spending $7 for both. Or at Fred Meyer buying Velveeta Shells & Cheese.

Then I get home and I just shovel the stuff into my mouth mindlessly and I'm not sure I even totally enjoy it. I just know that I have to have it and I will obsess about it for days and days and then go crazy and the Queso and Chips will be my entire dinner except for a few strawberries or a nectarine (the macaroni is usually reserved for special occasions). Last week I went to the Spaghetti Factory (I know, but the mizithra cheese is awesome) and had the insanely delicious mizithra cheese entree, but I was distracted the whole time by the macaroni & cheese my friend's 3-year-old daughter was eating.

After I go on a cheese binge I feel disgusted with myself and like I need to purge or at least take a shower. It's like having repeated one-night-stands with someone who you tell yourself is repugnant but they must not be or you wouldn't keep sleeping with them. So, then, trashy cheese is like the person I'm embarrassed to say I'm sleeping with.

This year, I've managed to stay away from the nasty Tostitos Queso. However, I am helpless against my cheese addiction. I have at my house Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, which I make with heavy cream and butter. Yum. Also, I found the recipe for the ever-so-delicious Browned Butter & Mizithra from Old Spaghetti Factory on this website. If you make it, make sure to use salted butter and DO eat the residue at the bottom of the pan. It's where all the flavor of the dish comes from.

Don't, however, buy Mizithra cheese from the Fred Meyer deli. I usually buy a Greek brand from the Albertsons on Park Center because they didn't carry Mizithra at Freddy's before--at least not the one on Federal Way. I was pretty excited to find it there the last time I went shopping. When I got it home, it was not as I expected. It's spongy and watery and utterly flavorless. It resembles the palm of my hand if I got it wet and tried to eat it. Actually my hand would be more flavorful.

Sunday, July 13

Lessons on the River of Life

I have bad luck on the river. Last year, I ruined my brand-new cell phone and my (to date) most favorite purse that I’ve ever owned. The cell phone got ruined becaue I was dumb enough to believe it would survive in our raft in a zippered sandwich baggie. Not true! Your raft will get completely inundated with water, and nothing inside the raft will remain dry. Especially if you happen to be using a cheap, knock-off brand of zippered baggie.

Though I was dumb enough to take my phone in the raft, I was not dumb enough to take my purse. My purse was locked safely in the trunk of my car. However, inside my purse there was a container of Band-Aid Blister Blocker, which is a fantastic product. A fantastic product made of corn oil which has been made waxy through some chemical process. What this means is that, though it’s a solid, it is just barely a solid and has a VERY low melting point. A melting point much lower than the 110° it was in my trunk. Needless to say, it melted all over my purse and soaked through the leather from the inside, leaving a big wet-looking stain on the outside that will never come out. The woman at Baird’s was a huge bitch to me when I took it in to see if it could be cleaned. She told me I should have brought it in immediately when the stain happened. I did, but she was on a two-week vacation.

I learned not to take anything valuable on the river and to make sure there’s no Blister Blocker in my purse if it is to be left in my car. But you know, any time is a good time for another lesson. I floated the river again a few days ago. I stupidly brought my keychain and attached it to the tote bag I brought in the raft. Except for the moment we got stuck in an eddy near a beach occupied by beer-swilling, shirtless gentlemen of low moral fiber, and getting attacked by a huge horsefly and some overhanging tree branches we couldn’t steer away from, the trip was pretty uneventful. That is, it was uneventful up to the point when the wind blew my $18 Target hat off my head and into the swiftest part of the river. It was starting to sink, and my friend said, “Do you want to get your hat?” I did want my hat, so I careened out of the boat and grabbed it. Then I heard, “OHMYGOOOOOOD!”

Turns out, I tipped the raft over by jumping out of it head first rather than legs or butt first. We watched our tote bags sail down the river and out of sight with our key chains, our snacks and my friend’s $90 hat. She climbed up the bank and ran down the greenbelt to see if she could catch up with them, but it was pointless. The best part was when all of our empty beer cans washed ashore at the exact beach where people normally get off the river. A little boy picked them all up and threw them away just before a cop drove by in a golf cart.

Moral: parents, if you don’t do any outdoors activities with your children, they will grow up to become $90 hat murderers by not knowing the proper way to get out of a Coleman raft.

Tuesday, July 8

Part two of a very long discourse

(Link to Part One of a Very Long Discourse and Part Three of a Very Long Discourse)

Occasionally, I become infatuated with fictional characters. Pathetic, I know. The most significant was Holden Caulfield; the result of reading The Catcher in the Rye as an impressionable young seventeen-year-old.

Catcher in the Rye is a novel that should never be read by anyone over the age of 18.

The first time I read it, I embraced Holden Caulfield’s cynicism with relish and tried to convince every living human that it was the greatest book ever written. I wrote research papers about it, I wrote stories in Salinger’s/Holden’s cynical style of narration, and when I got to college I spent time with my friends arguing over which people on campus seemed accurate personifications of Holden (usually based on the presence of a hunting cap with earflaps). I cheered any references to Catcher I read or saw on television or in movies. I wanted to marry Holden Caulfield, to tell the truth, despite the fact that he would probably ultimately find marriage squalid and depressing.

Eventually, I ran out of books I hadn’t read (obviously, this was before I discovered the Russians) and decided to read good old Catcher in the Rye again. Bad idea. The saying goes that you can’t step in the same river twice, and you definitely can’t read the same story twice, especially if it happens to be written by JD Salinger. Upon second reading, I was about 20, past high school and on hiatus from college. I found Salinger’s language still to be poignant and sarcastic and funny: “I don’t much like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway. Their bumpy old chests are always showing,” and “Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head,” are passages that cracked me up when I first read it and they still crack me up now.

But there was something missing the second time I read it. Holden annoyed the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. He just complained too damn much! It had been the basis of his charm before, but not now. It had something to do with the fact that you don’t possess the same innocence and wonder at 20 as you do at 17. Or the fact that all you want at 20 is to be 21 and party. Or that once you encounter real people who are as depressed or complain as much as Holden, it's hard to deal with. There’s also the fact that I read all of JD Salinger’s short stories that I could get my hands on, and I simply didn’t like them as well. Then there’s the fact that Salinger seems to feel, as Steven King put it, that his writing is too good for anyone to read. It just seemed…I don’t know, overrated, somehow.

Yeah, not somehow overrated, but totally overrated. I'm convinced that the enduring popularity of this book is owed solely to the fact that it's a banned book. I'm pretty sure old JD sold his soul to the devil to get noticed. Some words of wisdom: ladies, if you meet a guy who has read this book since turning 19 and considers it one of his faves, run for your fucking life, because you can be sure that guy is a great big mopey bore. The sick thing is that now I have a Lit-major-y urge to look up scholarly articles about Catcher to see what the scholars have to say. I suppose it might mean more to give it another read with an eye to Modernism, now that I know more about it, but blehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

If I want some late-Modernist reading I'll just stick with Camus. His characters don't mope.

Saturday, July 5

Part one of a very long discourse

(Link to Part Two of a Very Long Discourse, and Part Three of a Very Long Discourse)

The first thing I noticed was the Expedition's California plate with a heart where the first letter should be, followed by "4 RLS." "Whatever," I thought. I always try to figure out vanity plates, even though I think they're kind of stupid. Centered in the rear window with geometric precision was an Obama bumper sticker with a peace sign in the O and the remaining letters in a hippy-dippy font and color scheme. To the left of this, a John Mayer sticker, placed in the left corner of the rear window so that it called to mind the Fibonacci spiral. The right of the Expedition's rear window was lettered with the words "Rick Springfield," again very thoughtfully placed. I glanced past the peace symbol covering the trailer hitch to the license plate frame, which read, "Jessie's girl made a BIG mistake!" This is not the sort of thing you see every day.

My eyes wandered onto the license plate again: "(heart) 4 RLS." Obviously, Rick Springfield's middle name begins with the letter "L." Also obviously, the middle-aged dude driving the Expedition is obsessed with a pop-culture icon I thought had fallen off the face of the planet, (how wrong I was; according to Wikipedia, Mr. Springfield reprised his early 80's General Hospital role from 2005 to 2007). The question foremost in my mind whilst contemplating all of this was, "So, is a heart a valid character on a California vanity plate?"

Obsession is such a strange thing. I've been obsessed with many things in my lifetime. Not in a creepy stalker sort of way, just in a thinking-about-X-is-more-fun-than-thinking-about-other-things sort of way. When I was little, I was totally obsessed with Atreyu from "The Neverending Story," then Sean Astin in "The Goonies." When I was a little older I moved on to the film "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (I still imagine Alan Rickman's voice when I read an evil character in a novel; he is the perfect Professor Snape), then "Terminator 2," which I watched every single Saturday for a whole year after it came out on video. I was infatuated with Edward Furlong as the young John Connor, I think primarily because he resembled my sixth grade boyfriend:Little did I know EF would turn into some sort of giant loser.