Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shelf life.

I still don't have bookshelves in my office.

Leopold does...and they're really quite handsome.

We have a beautiful pair of shelves that we hope will be delivered any day now for the family room.

But the floor of my office is currently playing host to several large stacks of books, comics and a really snazzy wireless printer.

The issue is that I can't find anything that I really like because what I want is something that is unique. That makes a statement. And, of course, that will fit up the awkward staircase that wraps its way up to this here attic.

I've spent some time poking around the Internet...trying to find interesting DIY bookshelf projects that pique my interest and enthusiasm. Most, unfortunately, involve woodworking.

Which I'm not opposed to in theory. I will note here that there are actually tools in the toolboxes on the worktable in our basement. Three-dimensional design was one of my favorite classes in art school. I did metalwork and casting and built frames. I earned my work study money doing maintenance and repair on the equipment in my department's shop. In our old house I did some amount of home repair (1) and continue to wander through hardware stores just to see what might be on the shelves.

And this has largely been my approach to the shelf quandary...walking through our neighborhood hardware store looking for things that look like they want to be bookshelves. So far, nothing has really caught my eye.

The bigger issue is that I'm kind of seeing the bookshelves as step one in an attic desktop for the desk. Some kind of chair perhaps. Something to make this room of my own feel a bit more like a creative space and a bit less plagued by cardboard boxes (2).

A BIG training is forcing me back into the air and back into a cubicle next week...this is to say nothing of the freelance jobs that are crowding my schedule with things that, unfortunately, all have to be done sooner than later. So, digging deeper into kitting out this space will have to wait.

Hopefully, inspiration will not.

1. Though I always left the electrical stuff to Leopold. I know my limits.
2. Most of which are filled with games and craft supplies that are waiting to be moved to their new location in the family room closet which is currently filled with boxes of books and DVDs that will be moved to the family room bookshelves when they arrive. It's all about the domino effect.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just dessert.

Among my list of favorite books is Steve Almond's high-fructose road trip Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America. For me, the book was as much wish list as memoir...a book about Almond's journey to track down small batch and independent candymakers all around the country. 

It was my own, private, chocolate-coated On the Road.

My own sweet tooth didn't come into full force until I was an adult and, while it is does not always lead me to the most discerning of choices (1), my favorite sugar high inducers are not found on the average checkout display rack.

Aero bars (2). Skybars. Idaho Spuds. Homemade whoopie pies. 

Now that I work from home, however, my mid-afternoon sugar hit has been replaced with, at most, a high-fiber granola bar.

Yeah. I know. Not really the same.

We're continuing to spend a little bit extra to stock organic vegetables. Our milk is soy, our flour is unbleached whole wheat and our meats are from an actual butcher. This summer a large chunk of our food will be coming from our brand spanking new farm share.

While we were always big on eating at home we've probably upped the ante on that count. Lunch, for me, is now always eaten at home. Due largely to their refusal to put a shop in our side yard there is no Starbuck's runs during the day. Leopold isn't big on desserts and, while appreciative when I do, is just as happy when I'm not baking cookies or brownies or other things that he doesn't feel we need to have free access to all the time.

In other words, we're eating even better than we were...and we were doing pretty good before.

What I keep wondering, however, is if I'll reach a point where I don't crave that 3pm cookie? It seems in poor taste to compare the situation to having a phantom limb...but I might have to do that anyway.

That absent cookie is like a phantom limb.

How's that for the first line of a memoir?

1. Hello Twinkies.
2. The original...not the mint ones.

Monday, March 7, 2011

One leg at a time.

If you're a fan of the Weather Channel you know that it has (1) a long winter here in the frozen north.

Truth be told, I love this weather so I have very little to complain about (2). 

But talking to The Mum the other day (4) I had one of those instances that some would take as a "you can't go home again" moment. We were in the middle of another snowstorm, this one mixed with ice, and she was hoping that no one would later regret the decision not to cancel that evening's high school basketball tournament games. The state tournaments exceed all reason here so there was very little chance that anyone - particularly those under the age of 17 - would look at the road conditions before making a sound and careful decision about the wisdom of heading into the dark, icy night. They were going.

My response was to agree with her and say, "It's true. I remember days like this when I would spend all of five minutes wondering whether I could get to the mall and back."

I was a mall kid. I loved shopping. I loved clothes. I went through all of high school without wearing a pair of jeans. I wore oversized sweaters with dress shirt tails hanging out. I wore baggy cargo pants with the cuffs pegged. I loved thrift stores and the Salvation Army and St. Mary's "fill a bag for a dollar" policy at the used clothing shop. I did my very best to look like an extra from a Brat Pack movie.

And then, somewhere during those early years of college, I fell from fashionista grace. Or, more accurately, I became exhausted. Today, when I see kids going to school or church or walking down the street in planned-to-look-unplanned outfits I think, "You're going to burn out. Wait and see."

Jeans and t-shirts became my uniform. V-neck sweaters and hoodie sweatshirts. A supervisor once observed of a class I was teaching that it was hard to determine where I left off and the students began. 

I have systematically dismantled every dress code I have ever encountered. Slyly at first, and then with full intention and vigor. 

But now, even with a freshly purchased batch of ApeSnort t-shirts folded and in the clothes basket (5), I am encountering another one of those moments. Leopold and I have an event to attend this weekend...and I have nothing to wear. My suits their youngest...four years old. The new sweaters that I do have are carefully oversized to look smart with a pair of jeans and my fake Vans. 

And the thing is, this is an event where I should be going, ready to work my butt off, ready to start to get the word out that I'm a professional writer that folks should know and trust. I've even started work on a personal website for that very reason.

But, like the website, I'm just not sure what it all should look like. The fact of the matter is, I'm a jeans and baggy cargo pants guy. I love my t-shirts and love that there are so many cool, upstart t-shirt artists out there (6). I dig a good hoodie.

Trust me, I'm not looking for a What Not to Wear moment. Leopold, while he has always cheered those times when a suit has been mandatory dress for me, has always had to admit that I've never looked quite bad enough for an ambush makeover. 

Not long ago my cousin's five-year old daughter was spinning in front of the mirror, delighted with the new dress she got to wear to a father-daughter dance. "My friends are going to love me in this dress," she said, causing my cousin to try to explain to her that your real friends will always like you for who you are, not what you wear. 

Which is true.

It's not going to save me a trip to the mall of course, but it's true.

1. And continues to be...
2. And we'll note that I'm saying this with the pre-frozen makings of a decent ice skating rink in our basement...something about the slow melt of eight or so feet of snow and three solid days of rain showers. My aunt refers to her basement as her "cement pond"...Leopold is simply mourning the reality that ours will never include a "fancy eatin' table" (3).
3. Beverly Hillbillies reference for those wondering why we would put a dining room table in our basement. Hint: It's not really a dining room table. Hint Number 2: Leopold was being funny. He doesn't really want one.
4. Leopold and I have now reduced the distance between us and my parents from 600 miles to something like 8 minutes.
5. I did not buy the Mickey Mao t-shirt...though now I think I should have. I did by the Meat Emporium t-shirt...which I will not be bringing with me next time I visit BIG.
6. Did you see the Babe Lincoln shirt? Babe. Lincoln. Genius.