Monday, June 01, 2009

The Opposite of Good is Bad

I had to leave Brent (or he had to leave me, technically, at the airport) this morning on our second anniversary, which sucked, but at least we got to spend four whole days and change together doing mostly just whatever we felt like doing. That involved a lot of sleeping (until after 4 p.m. one day) and a lot of coconut sorbet, coffee, frozen custard, and Oreos, but there was also some walking in his new, very walkable neighborhood, two movies in real theaters (a luxury for me- Pixar's UP and The Brothers Bloom, both of which were genius and highly entertaining), a few DVRed episodes of What Not to Wear and the whole hilarious Kung Fu Panda, hanging out at the coffee shop where B. proofread pages for Kansas City's weekly alternative The Pitch and I surfed on his Mac and read a Michael Ondaatje novel, two delightful evenings with assorted excellent friends and dinner and a very nice visit with his parents.

We delve into our time together with very little consideration of the past or future and manage to wring the most happiness possible out of it, and we adjust to being apart altogether too quickly and too well for either of our tastes. It can't possibly frustrate anyone else more than it frustrates us that we still live a thousand miles apart, but we deal with it better than most people do in our situation, maybe because we don't know anything different, maybe because we're certain we'll figure it out soon, maybe because we're excellent communicators on many different levels. Or a combination of all these things.

As usual my life is a tumbling act from season into season, but every time I think I'm out of luck and optimism, something happens to blow my gloom out of the water. After 12 years of marriage and doing half the raising of a very good and special boy who turned 15 Saturday, Morgan and Kelly are expecting spawn of their own. I am going to be an aunt. I am already an aunt to the aforementioned good boy, Cordale Colton (who by all accounts took the news rather well despite having expressed apprehension about the possibility in the past), but this time I get to be around from the beginning. I don't know anybody who's not ridiculously excited about this, but nobody more than the two of them. They're going to be such excellent parents.

I was very grateful, too, because it was great fun to be present when they told the grandmas, who both freaked out in their own charming ways. At first I had this sense that my big sister, my only sister (and only sibling), who has always shared her experiences with me, and vice versa, was going very quickly to a place I couldn't follow, and I felt that distance like a cold wind, a rock wall. But somehow it got righted almost immediately -- because she immediately shared and confided, as she always has, even though she had every right to keep her secret for a while (as if she could stand to!) -- and now it seems like the most natural and simply perfect thing in the world, and I can't wait for the adventure to really get going. It feels now like I've been waiting impatiently all these years.

So, on to a secret of my own. A few months ago I took the very terrifying plunge and started a store on, the website to buy and sell all things handmade, selling crocheted items, some crafty things, and prints of some of the art I've posted on this blog. I got several orders right away and felt that the hardest part -- just getting started -- was already over. I was just getting ready to share the link with everybody when I had the epiphany that, even though it's what got me going creatively in the first place, the crafts and crochet aren't really doing it for me (or anyone else for that matter; I've sold numerous prints and gotten a custom order all without any advertising at all, but only one hat and a pair of earrings have gone), so I'm in the process of morphing the store again and I'll share it when I'm ready. But I'm excited about my art again because of the positive response, and I'm going to take it easy; I don't expect the store to take off and enable me to quit my job in a matter of months (although, wouldn't that be nice?), but I do expect it to be incentive enough to create consistently that I manage to put a good portfolio together and take it to the next step, whatever that may be.

Thursday when I checked my e-mail on Brent's Mac I noticed some charges to my bank account (they send me an account update daily) that I didn't make and called quickly to cancel my debit card. I've submitted claims on the three charges that went through and I think I know how the thief got my information; at Christmas I ordered several things online (OK, that's a daily thing for me) and a while later I got a letter from one of the merchants stating that their financial files had been hacked and my account information was probably among the data stolen. I flagged my credit accounts for fraud but completely blanked about my bank account, so I sort of deserved a little wake-up call, and if they get away with less than $50, I'm prepared to be philosophical and sage about the whole thing. I'm ordering a new Mac laptop soon and I want to save up for a stand-up paddleboard, so this is a bad time for a financial snafu, but I have a lot of confidence in Wells Fargo. They've been good to me and handled similar situations very well.

But there's something puzzling about the whole thing. One of the charges was for an herbal weight-loss supplement called Xanithin; the perpetrator had the sample mailed to my address. There were also charges for something called the National Alert Registry and one to, both of which are online information banks on private individuals. Probably the culprit was looking for more information on me in order to perpetrate a more complete identity theft, but why the skinny pills? Nothing makes sense anymore. Not even crime. Morons. (Lenny had an interesting theory, though; possibly the culprit "runs" those online businesses and that's what he or she does, charges products and services to stolen accounts, perpetuating the charges if possible. For instance, the herbal supplement was a trial that led into a monthly auto-ship plan, which I cancelled.) Live and learn in modern times, I guess. Next time I get a warning like that I'm going to be more proactive, that's for sure.

There's a lot of joyful shrieking coming in through my open kitchen window and earlier the town buzzed with lawnmowers. The lilacs I left barely leafing Wednesday night are bursting into fragrant bloom today. I stopped at the bakery next to my favorite Thai place in downtown Salt Lake and picked up kouing-aman, a flaky caramel/butter pastry I tried to create sometime before Christmas from a recipe I found online, and it turns out I did pretty good; in fact, I almost prefer the texture of mine. The bakery's version had a caramel armor that hurt my teeth and was doughy in the middle; mine was crispy but not hard on the outside, and the inside was flaky and chewy in a dryer, less oozy way. But I won't be making it again anytime soon, because it requires a pound (yes, an entire POUND) of butter, several cups of sugar, and more patience and time chilling between foldings and rollings than I care to spend. Besides, it's spring, and I feel like it's really time to just buckle down and lose that last fifteen or twenty pounds I've been talking about forever and be done with the diet thing, at least for a while. I've maintained this weight for three years without really obsessing over it (or even thinking about it too much) and I'm sure I've for the most part settled into a healthier lifestyle, no matter what my weight is. And no matter what Brent feeds me when we're together, although I'll have to watch myself closely if we ever live together, because he can eat a whole tub of frozen yogurt in a sitting.

And no, I'm not going to try the Xanithin.

Puck finally came home with new blocker rings, a new main shaft, bearing, and seal, and a new clutch after a lengthy three-week stay at the shop. First there were problems with the replacement parts -- one flimsy plastic piece arrived broken -- and then the new main shaft came without a bearing, but the mechanic didn't notice that until he had test-driven it after reassembly, which messed up the slave cylinder and saturated the clutch with transmission fluid, hence the new clutch, which I would have had to pay for if it was the original problem. My lifetime powertrain warranty doesn't cover the clutch but since it was the poor mechanic's error -- I like the guy and his wife gave birth to their first child while Puck was in the shop, so he had to be a bit distracted -- we got a bit of a rewind on the clock, Puck and I. I'm not hard on the manual clutch -- I finesse -- but they are designed to wear out, after all, and I've got an extra 19,000 potential miles now before this one does. And Puck's driving like a dream, tight and smooth and reliable. And LOUD. But that's another post altogether.

We got about three hours of sleep -- never put us in front of a Futurama marathon after midnight -- before getting up at 5:30 to get me to the airport and Brent back to town and to work on time, and despite nodding off on the plane and a brief power nap when I got home, I'm jet-lagged and fried and bereft. Sleep is a welcome prospect tonight, and I haven't even begun to think about returning to work tomorrow, which will come as a rude awakening at 7 a.m., especially since I know Jeff will have been plotting projects the whole time I've been gone, and there's really a lot to do without those extra operations. But nevermind. I can sleep first.


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