Fine, Fine.

Because I'm obviously driving at least two people crazy with my nebulousness (is that a word?):

Nothing earth-shattering or life-changing happened this weekend (translation for the curious: no marriage proposal, at least not yet). But we had one of those nights where everything just seemed to happen perfectly, and one of the reasons it was so nice is because of how miserable I was a few weeks ago. During those moments, I felt like things would never be good again, which I realize sounds horribly angsty and juvenile, but even people suffering from the mildest of depressions probably understand this. (The cold weather and shorter days are almost entirely to blame.)

That said, something as simple as seeing a good movie together ("Walk the Line" is highly recommended, even if it's about 20 minutes too long), having a quiet dinner at an almost empty Olive Garden (where he ordered me chocolate lasagna to go, and where I characteristically stole the alfredo container) and coming back to our apartment, turning on the Christmas tree lights, turning off all the others and enjoying each other's company, was unexpectedly wonderful.

I think he's trying very hard to make this winter a warm one for me. We picked out ornaments this weekend and lit pine-scented candles to compensate for the fact that our tree, though delightful, was made in a Chinese sweatshop. We had Greek tapas on Wednesday (followed by karaoke with Sally, who isn't lying when she says her rendition of "Baby Got Back" is awesome. My version of "Hollaback Girl" may be less awesome), a perfectly unusual Thanksgiving on Thursday with his lovely family, two Mario Kart tournaments, grocery shopping in tandem, lots of Food Network-watching (and subsequent cooking all weekend) and, well, other benefits of being in a relationship.

Enough talk of boys. Let's talk about food. And let this also serve as your proof that I should be on a strict water-only diet this week.

Wednesday night: Greek tapas at Momos in University City. We each ordered the lamb gyros and split a baked feta appetizer. I also branched out and tried a Greek white wine, which wasn't bad. Service was slow, but the food and decor made up for it. (Remind me to tell you about our experience at Boogaloo, the new Jamaican/Cuban/Creole tapas place in Maplewood.)

Thursday: IHOP for breakfast (which Michael and I are making a Thanksgiving day tradition) and the usual suspects for dinner at his aunt and uncle's almost-obscenely gigantic house somewhere near St. Charles. I really don't know if it's in St. Charles or somewhere else; I got lost both coming and going.

Friday: Steak queso burrito at Qdoba for lunch; mozzarella fonduta, chicken alfredo pizza for dinner

Saturday: Chocolate lasagna for a snack; grilled T-bone steaks and sauteed mushrooms and peppers with chipotle-lime butter and mashed baby Yukon gold potatoes with cheddar cheese, chives and sour cream for dinner (I made this Rachael Ray favorite of ours)

Sunday: Italian breakfast strata, which is layers of cubed Italian bread and sauteed pancetta, onion, garlic and spinach, all covered with an egg-milk mixture. Dinner was fettuccine in a pepper-butter-pecorino romano cheese sauce with homemade pesto and sauteed jumbo shrimp. These recipes both came from watching Giada de Laurentiis' "Everyday Italian" show, which is basically hardcore porn for softcore foodies. I would have liked the second dish more, but the peeling and deveining process grossed me out, which may have spoiled my dinner.

Oh, and we ate like 10 bags of Sour Patch Kids. Best weekend ever.

11-28-2005 12:22 PM - comments (4)

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

I'll write more later, but I just wanted to say what a terrific weekend I had. Michael and I had four amazing days to spend together, and I think Friday night may have been one of the best nights of my life. Thanksgiving may be over, but I'm very thankful for him. Not so thankful for my cat at the moment. More to come.

11-28-2005 7:57 AM - comments (2)

No Partner Needed.

I'm dancing with myself to "Dare" by the Gorillaz.

11-19-2005 8:23 PM - comments (1)

Never Say Never.

Gas is less than $2 again in St. Louis.

11-16-2005 8:27 PM - comments (2)

Oh, Gawker.

Citing this person's excitement over "Rent," the film: "Oh, yay! A chance to relive being 14: You can wait out all night for Rent tickets. And then you can write in your diary about how you really really really want to be a Broadway star when you grow up."

I know a lot of my beloved readers are musicalphiles, but even they have to admit the truth in that Gawker gem.

11-16-2005 4:56 PM - comments (1)

I Never Hope to be Corrigible.

I blew a fuse today in my colder-than-thou office when I turned the space heater on. The power was out in my building for an hour, and I tried to hide from the person whose computer was being backed up while it happened. But he found me, despite my best efforts (let it be known that listening to your iPod doesn't count as hiding, even if you have an unwavering conviction that it ought to), and decided to flirt with me rather than chide me for my misdeed. I think, in terms of age, < 55 years old = incorrigible flirts and > 55 years old = beastly detractors. But that might just be my ageism talking.

The university president suggests that because they're turning the heat down this winter (increased energy costs) and because space heaters are the devil (see above), we should simply dress appropriately for the impending four-month cold spell. I sincerely hope this does not mean I will have to go the way of the Wash U sorority girls who shop at Schnucks in their head-to-toe North Face gear (save for the New Balances or, mysteriously, flip flops) to brave the horrors of the frozen food aisle, because that, my friends, would be an egregious display of fashion recklessness.

I wonder if H&M has furry skirts to match their parkas.

11-16-2005 4:09 PM - comments (1)

Split-Second Review.

I actually heard a cool song on 105.7 last night: "Hide and Seek," by Imogen Heap (of Frou Frou fame). I also heard a song by Rogue Wave that was good enough to inspire me to buy their new album from iTunes. Highly recommended.

(Editor's note: I just found out both Imogen Heap and Rogue Wave are featured on the fifth O.C. compilation. I swear to high heaven that's not how I found out about them.)

11-14-2005 6:00 PM - comments (2)

They Only Come Out at Night.

I've gotten a taste of what it's going to be like married to an academic researcher. Michael was asked on Saturday to be a co-author on a paper (originally) due this afternoon. He worked Saturday night until 4 a.m., most of yesterday until 12:30 a.m. and will continue to do so all day today because the deadline has been extended (nice, huh?).

I've already written about my irrational worrying over the boy, but even I have to admit that I set new records for the amount of craziness taking place in a single evening on Saturday night. I had gone out with Monika, Ryan and his new lady friend (the evening, besides the company, was a bust -- let's just say the next time I'm hoping for sustenance in Soulard, I'll double-check that the bars, you know, actually serve food. Venice Cafe, I'm looking at you), and Michael was dutifully checking in every hour or so to let me know of his progress.

I came home to an empty apartment, which, despite my independent nature, is depressing when you're in a decidedly affectionate mood. Being alone also primes you for the universal feeling of Totally and Completely Petrified of the Tiny Minority of Homicidal Lunatics Who Pass Up Relatives and Former Lovers in Favor of Killing People They Don't Know, And Yes, That Means You. I settled in with some Burger King -- which has to be the best feeling-sorry-for-yourself food ever -- and watched the TiVoed SNL. I'm an unapologetic giggler, even by myself, so the sight of me laughing at Kenan Thompson channeling Donovan McNabb's mother while salting my fries every five seconds and checking my phone for messages from Michael every 10 seconds must have been amusing to the killer watching from the shadows. The terrifying shadows of Brentwood Forest Condominiums, where it is advised that you stop for ducks crossing the cobblestone road. (Oh, and don't forget to throw your fish back into the pond after you catch it; that one's a bylaw.)

When the show was over, I crawled into bed, started reading a new mystery ("In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner" by Elizabeth George, an American novelist who writes about Scotland Yard cases rather convincingly) and waited for Michael. And waited. And became convinced that the murderer was now outside my door and waiting for the right time to knife me to shreds.

This, not coincidentally, is why I went to bed wearing more layers than a hypochondriac Eskimo visiting Antarctica for a midnight swim. You don't want murderous burglars thinking you're attractive, and you certainly don't want the forensic pathologists to see your bloody corpse scantily clad in a Victoria's Secret black lace tank top and matching G-string, lest your sad story be mischaracterized in the annual "Ripped From the Headlines" murdered-prostitute episode of "Law & Order." Corpses, as everyone knows, should be dressed for the occasion, and that entails comically large grey sweatpants, one of your dad's old T-shirts, ridiculous knee-high socks and a ponytail for good measure.

I had followed this protocol to some success during the Brown Recluse Scare of '01, when I had read an article on the omniprescence of the deadly arachnids. Every house in Missouri has an average of 40 recluses, and like most creatures smaller than a quarter, they're eerily smart, like Washington-University-computer-science-doctoral-candidate smart. And unlike Washington University computer science doctoral candidates, they make it a point to crawl into bed with you right before you go to sleep on a Saturday night. They wait until you are asleep and bite you on your hands and feet and try to kill you. The spiders are not much better. (Da-da-DUM. I'll be here all week, folks. Be sure to tip your waitress.) I wore long underwear and mittens to bed for a week after that story was published. I would have worn those one-piece zip-up pajamas with feet had they sold them in my size, which they do not, because they are fascists.

When I got up to brush my teeth and wash my face, I decided to check the bathtub because I had heard noises and was worried the psychokiller would be lying there in wait. I secretly hoped he'd take it upon himself to spritz some of the Method daily shower spray -- because Jesus, that soap scum is hard to keep up with -- and fix my ShowerBug so I could get in better stations than the soft rock one, but if I've learned anything in my 24 years, it is that you do not want to be beholden to a psychokiller. They call in favors all too readily.

I gingerly pushed the curtain all the way back and found that it was only Elliott, trying to drink water from the faucet. Most likely he was hiding and thought it would be a good idea to stay hydrated in case of a disaster, and he wisely thought he'd do it in a place other than where his bowl containing actually drinkable quantities of water sits, because it's so out in the open and it puts you in the line of fire. Elliott and I have one thing in common, and that is that we're both experts at emergency preparedness.

I sprinted back to bed and then realized I had no good weapon with which to ward off the killer, whom I now knew was named Benny and also had an extensively scarred face and a greasy mullet. And believe me, there's nothing in my nightstand that would scare away an escaped convict of Benny's sort. (Then again, I guess it kind of depends on what he was put away for.) So I kept my phone out, ready to dial 911, and kept reading because it is a well-known fact that I can't sleep unless I've stopped on a non-scary part, but they were all scary parts, so I ended up reading until 3 a.m. I didn't realize I had fallen asleep until Michael quietly climbed into bed at 4. Which makes me feel really dumb, because what if he had been Benny "The Mid-County (St. Louis) Murderous Masochist" Jones? I'd be so dead right now.

11-14-2005 2:06 PM - comments (3)

A Bit Overdue.

Michael was still not feeling great last night, so we stayed in last night for a wonderful low-key evening and watched "The Office" special. (Lauren, I'm sorry I wasn't able to come to your party; I hope it was lots of fun.) Has anyone else seen it? We're both big fans of the show (the American version is really pretty good as well), and we really enjoyed it. David Brent is so hard to watch; I'm kind of glad Steve Carrell has made his version a little more sympathetic. That said, I was so happy with how David's story turned out.

Also, I'm pleased with how the Tim/Dawn storyline wrapped up, but I was surprised by how much I like the American counterparts in comparison.

Oh, and David Brent's single, "If You Don't Know Me By Now"? The video was the funniest thing ever.

Also, we played Soul Calibur, and I discovered I don't totally suck. I refuse to play the female characters, though. I wonder if I'm sexist.

11-12-2005 9:36 AM - comments (0)

Correction: Subtext is Dead.

It's been a terrific Friday, maybe because what I was going through has now been sufficiently gone through. It's become cliched to say people beat themselves up, especially because most of us don't engage in nearly enough self-criticism, but I did a number on myself after this weekend, and, yeah, I'm done with the flagellation.

I can't tell all my stories here, but I will say that my life has been shaken up in the last few weeks, and maybe all that shaking forced a baby volcano to erupt. It erupted with some bad feelings instead of red-hot lava, and I gotta say, lava is definitely better, and probably sexier. I'm a problem solver, and this problem has no solution, at least not one I like. I like to read about shades of grey, maybe even fantasize about them a little, but it's definitely one of those "better-in-theory-than-it-is-in-practice" concepts.

So today! Today was all sun and light and compliments on the red hair and the green peacoat and the combination thereof and shy microbiologists telling me they want to work with me and allergists telling me I am a star and cardiologists asking me to serve on public relations committees of boards they preside over and returning an overdue favor for a friend and hearing Michael's voice on my phone and feeling his arms around me and bubbly Diet Pepsi and feeling hot, like "let's go out tonight and make eyes at each other while someone lies in bed late at night darkly wishing the circumstances were different" hot. (My favorite kind.)

And every song, every song on the iPod sounds good again, and my chest doesn't tighten when I hear this song like it did earlier this week, a song from the "Veronica Mars" soundtrack that you (you know who you are, and if you don't, you'll know by the end of the song) need to listen to because it's that good. It is called "Dakota" by the Stereophonics, and now I can enjoy it like a normal person, finally:

Thinking back, thinking of you
Summertime, think it was June
Yeah, think it was June
Laying back, head on the grass
Chewing gum, having some laughs
Yeah, having some laughs

You made me feel like the one
You made me feel like the one

Drinking back, drinking for two
Drinking with you
When drinking was new

Sleeping in the back of my car
We never went far
Didn't need to go far

You made me feel like the one
You made me feel like the one
I don't know where we are going now

Wake up call, coffee and juice
Remembering you
What happened to you?

I wonder if we we'll meet again
Talking about life since then
Talk about why did it end

You made me feel like the one
You made me feel like the one
So take a look at me now.

11-11-2005 3:59 PM - comments (4)

"And Once You've Seen, It's Hard to Hide."

It may be an astonishing 81 degrees outside, but something inside me is fully aware that the cold is coming.

I had an anxiety attack this morning. It's a scary thing to be out of control, but it's even scarier when you have no idea what prompted your brain to rebel so violently. I was relearning the symptoms and causes of these episodes, and yes, I feel like I'm going crazy. My heart still won't stop pounding. Logically, it's tied to a rough weekend, characterized by the gnawing pits in my stomach and snapshots of flashbacks, all reminding me of my failures and my flaws and hinting at some mistake I've newly made but haven't yet had the courage to process. But it's not one mistake; it's many. I'm trying to be brave.

For the last couple of days, Bill O'Reilly has been my methadone. His self-righteous indignation and blue-collar Boston piety remind me there's a world outside the one I'm currently miserable in, and maybe it's better I'm miserable here than there. But the show only lasts a few hours, and I found myself frantic for a substitute, wishing I could distract myself forever.

And this too shall pass, but it's the waiting that's killing me.

11-08-2005 1:45 PM - comments (3)


I don't say this enough: I am so grateful to have Michael in my life. Four and a half years later, and there's no one I'd rather hold hands with at the movies, no one I'd rather gaze at from across the table at dinner and no one I'd rather have tuck me in and kiss me goodnight.

11-07-2005 7:45 AM - comments (0)