Tag Archives: nesting

For the Love of a Storm

The Pacific is a vast and daunting thing. All the world’s continents can fit inside it with more room leftover for an extra Africa. 99% of the Pacific is water. 1% is land.
Living on its edge means a constant barrage of weather rolling in over the winter, all that turmoil brewing over those high seas. Today we’re warned of an “incredible series” of subtropical storms that have set sail and will land here shortly, the first of which is expected dump within the hour.
The novelty of incoming storms never grows old for me. Inside, I completely understand the unbridled rage and joy with which Lieutenant Dan screamed into the hurricane from the crow’s nest of that Bubba Gump shrimping boat.
There’s a primal sense felt by those of us who are storm fanatics. We feel a storm brewing on the wind. We can read it in the ripples on the water. We smell rain on the breeze. The stormfront’s pressure throbs behind our eyes as the changing, charged airmass nears us. In the day leading up to it, a dull pain hits the joints and we creak like the Tin Man before he got his oil.
It comes. Slowly, but it comes. The skies are blackening and a strange eerie calm has descended. These are the moments when one turns and sees a spider scurrying up a wall. Nature understands nature. Even dogs can feel an earthquake before it comes.
We humans, not so much. We invented clocks and then we let machines do our natural thinking for us.
Still, there are those who do feel and see nature like the animal world does. Like natives who listen to the wind and smell the earth. They can tell you when a storm comes. We can see it in nature — the bugs skitter, squirrels panic about nut-gathering, birds seem to vanish from the skies. Nature knows when the skies are due to unleash fury.
Us, we fall into ruts of Westernized life. Clock-watchers, weather-forecast-readers. So plugged into the digital world that we’re not in tune with things from nature that our forebears could read for generations before us.
So few people notice when a first gust of wind rises, signalling a shift in climate. They don’t see when clouds appear menacing all of a sudden or their direction seems to change. They don’t feel a sudden drop or rise in temperature that signals an onslaught of wind or rain.
But some of us do.
Weather, for me, is something I feel in my bones. My head throbs, my throat gets scratchy, my eyes grow heavy and pained. And yet I watch out my window like a kid on Christmas, for I know, when that storm hits peak and rages like a woman scorned, I’ll feel an utter release of all those barometric head systems and I’ll be sharp and alert and happy again.
“Weather migraines” are a curse for some folks. I’m usually not fond of them myself, but I am deeply grateful to be one of those people who “feels” the climate.
It’s satisfying when I feel like I’m of the Earth and privy to what it’s going through. I love this bursting sense of anxiety that pulsates under my skin as a storm draws near. I understand the skittishness and apprehension of the natural world — the squirrels who panic, the birds who take cover, and the ants running for their hills — because I feel it too.
Unlike them, I have the luxury of knowing my phone and flashlights are all charged up, and the noodle house is a short walk away. I have a nice comfortable home and warm socks and blankets. For me, a storm is a chance to bundle up and be witness to something greater than us.
And so, like Lieutenant Dan, I say bring it. I promise you, at least once tonight, I will shout out my window into the wind and rain, “IS THIS ALL YOU’VE GOT?”
Then, like a pussy, I’ll batten down the hatches, bundle up, pour a whiskey, and watch Netflix until the power craps out. If it does. And then it’s book time.
Because: Storms.

What In The Hell Does THIS Button Do?

Geez. New technology around the home is such a love-hate thing. It’s so wonky adjusting to new things.
I remember the old days of the ’70s, when you’d walk into someone’s home, there was ONE TV, if any, and that TV had a few dials and knobs you could turn, and that’s that.
You just flipped past three channels.
The “tint” dial you only used as your tube was about to die, to adjust the red/greeny-ness of it until you could take it to an actual repairman.
Not rocket science to watch anything. Click, crank, click. And you got exercise doing it, too. If you didn’t like the show, you had to actually walk eight feet to do something, AND walk BACK.
Now, you need a fucking degree to figure out which remote does what and your back gets sore from sitting so long while you’re doing it.
Don’t worry, kids. Granny Steff will figure it out.
I got the PVR thingiemajobber, it plugs into the fancy hi-def TV doohickety-theatre thingie, and then the theatre thingie plugs into the humongogianticus TV screen. Right. There you go. THAT’s simple.
That took a while to figure out, and I had to ask for advice on the interwebs, but five hours later I had sound.
Today, I’ve figured out how to play music. How exciting. I’m finally in 2012 after 18 years with the same stereo.

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

It’ll take me a month or so to make peace with how COMPLICATED it needs to be to listen to music and shit now, BUT I’ll be fine.
Because it looks pretty and sounds good, right? That’s how we think. We sit on the “how frustrating it is” to operate the digital world because once it gets going, it’s awesome(ish) [if graded on a curve].
But all new technology is an adjustment, and our feeble human minds don’t always adjust as quickly as we’d like. And what’s different from our expectations is often voted disappointing before we give it a big chance.
As much as I grumble about the learning curve with my fancy new shit, I think it’s amazing how far we’ve come since my childhood.
We were the first kids on the block with an Atari game system. My parents did up the guest room at the same time and picked out this wicked green carpet that felt like velvet. I remember the kids coming over to play the ONLY SYSTEM ON THE BLOCK and how we’d all park our asses on that velvetty carpet and the tweed sofa-sleeper and crowd around the Atari, playing Asteroids until the end of time.
Pew! Pew! Pow! Whizz! Pew! You’re dead. Crushed by space rock! SUCKER.
I love the tech I’ve picked up and can’t wait to master it all. I just figured out another thing with listening to music on my phone docked to my stereo. How exciting! Maybe I’m not pushing 80 after all.
I suspect I’ll be living with my new purchases for five years or more. Except the laptop. But the rest, probably a good long haul. I’m not married to the newness. I just want a stereo that works, a way to enjoy all my music in one place, and a TV that doesn’t take five minutes to warm up to a picture.
Pretty simple. It’ll be great for my new nesting life across the pond. Less of the restaurant scene, more of the hanging at home. I’d like to entertain more. Friends over for dinner, movie, chatting. I think everything I’ve got is conducive to that.

A Brave New Fiscal Entertainer’s World

Everyone’s making a fuss about the restaurant scene and griping about how expensive it’s become, and, OH, the horrors of cutting back, and the punishment it is to stay home with a movie.
When I grew up, going to a restaurant was a special occasion. We only did it once or twice a month as a family, if that. Having a movie night at home was exciting. We’d do that weekly. Popcorn! Mom’s brown sugar candy! Extra milk to drink! SKOOKUM.
Somewhere along the way, we as a society started feeling entitled to eating out and seeing movies and all that. For a while, it became kind of affordable. Then we got hooked, and then we fell for the lie that life was better with it all.
Not as many people cook as there used to be. You can get by without those basic skills now, since food’s omnipresent at stupid prices.
But once upon a time, you cooked for your friends, you watched a movie, you hung out with a bottle of cheap wine, laughed till 2 in the morning, and enjoyed the simple things with others.
There’s getting to be a return to this, but I see some people acting like it’s some kind of penalty for life choices or something. Restaurants are a status symbol now. The hipper it is, the pricier it is, the more cachet you pack for having been a part of that scene.
Me, I’m excited. I’ll make new friends soon, live in a nice central place for entertaining, and hopefully I’ll get back to the way I used to be — a host for fun nights of food and chatter, which is how I lived my first three years in this apartment.
I feel fortunate I could make these purchases and capitalize on sick sales for decent quality. I’m looking forward to a return to the kind of lifestyle my parents raised me with — friends and family over, great food, tunes, and entertainment, wonderful hosting, and real engaging with others.
This is the first step in my throwing on the brakes and doing a 180 in life. What fun.
What does THIS button do?

My Dance With Consumerism: The Christmas Schwag

About That Other Thing, A Steff Note:
My Christmas eve posting was cryptic because sometimes we need the light of day before fear goes away. I’d gotten a call 10 minutes before I served Christmas dinner saying my late-ass brother wasn’t late — he was hit by a car and being taken by ambulance to emergency, with a definite head injury albeit the severity unknown. He’s doing very well, and is lucky to be alive. It was a pretty wrenching evening at times, and I wrote that post with him groaning in light pain while sleeping on my sofa, 10 feet away. Daylight made things better, as it often does.


It’s the calm between the storm fronts as my coffee reaches its bitter end.
I’m wishing I had another day of Nothing Doing after yesterday’s utter embrace of sloth, but I’m sadly headed into the world for acupuncture, shopping, lunch, and the like.
It’s half-way through my Christmas vacation. I’ve been on a shopping tear — all online — in doing the once-almost-every-decade shopping for electronics and things to make my life nicer on the homefront, signalling what will surely be a year of much belt-tightening and budget-respecting to follow. My last two such splurges took place in 2003 and 1994. Clearly, I’m due.
It’s the best kind of consumerism — the kind that enriches one’s life with careful choice-making before the splurging.

Oh, Glowing Picture On The Wall, Who’s the TVest of Them All?

For instance, I’m cutting my cable enough to compensate within one year for my splurge for a new TV and home theatre system. Thanks to sales, I got components worth $1300+ for under $600 after taxes. The amount I’ll save in 12 months for going to basic cable and using the one year of Netflix my friend gifted me? $588. Cha-ching!
My huge tube TV’s on its deathbed, taking as much as 6 minutes to just warm up and give me a picture upon start-up, and even when it’s warmed up, the input jacks are loose and just walking across the floor can cause me to lose picture. That’s been happening for three years, and was a real drag back when I was dating and watching something romantic or fun, and sucked even more with a back problem.
My stereo was from 1994, almost dead, and couldn’t even play my iPod, let alone play nicely with my out-of-date TV. My new dealio was 45% off, can play with iPod, is Netflix & web-ready, and will offer surround sound for those moments I give in to The Big Shiny Movies.

A Writer Needs What A Writer Needs

I picked up a new laptop, intended to make me work on my own writing more, and get out into the world to see people whilst I do so. My computer’s from 2006 and I suspect also similarly not long for this world. I saved another 40% on the laptop. Soon, I’ll get my office equipment, so I can have a healthier work environment. It’ll include an ergonomic keyboard & mouse tray, a back-friendly chair, a new desk, and other fixings, making for a more comfortable home office environment, since I’ll now be spending up to 40 hours a week there on just the “day job,” let alone writing for myself.
So, I’ll have a completely-new, ergo-friendly, and sexy office for only $550, because I’m getting things for up to 76% off, thanks to my smart deal-finding ways.
I did blow my wad on one treat that’s like a bottomless-refill cup of goodness for my soul — a new camera. I didn’t have a working one, and photography has been a love of mine for 20 years. It’s profoundly inspiring for my writing to spend a day shooting pictures, and there once was a time I’d write stories based on what I’d snapped. I long for those days. Nothing will make me get out and explore my new home more than having a great camera to record it with, like my new Nikon D3100.

Simply Gift-tacular!

There’s one new belonging I didn’t have to splurge on, and I can’t wait to have it in my life (it needs to be driven in from the Valley still). The Santa-Folks gave me a new KitchenAid Stand Mixer that will be incredible for homemade bread-baking and other things. This has been something on my wish-list for a very long time. I’ve still been using the hand-mixer I bought for $15 more than 10 years ago.

Barbara Krueger's iconic image.

Another gift I was given for Christmas, and it’s funny, because it was likely only a $10-15 gift and isn’t earth-shattering, is a CUTE littlelunch bag that has gel-pack walls on four of six sides, which you just store in the freezer, then it keeps anything cold for up to 6 hours. It’s FUNNY to me because it’s such a small thing but it makes me so excited to think about taking lunch breaks from working at home and walking to the beach with a book or my laptop, and eating a bagged lunch with controlled calories and nutrition, and keeping both my budget in line and me in the sun. It’s a really thoughtful little gift I love. It’s cute, functional, quick to set up, and pretty to carry with me. Perfect! Now I can envision it happening — me and my little peach-polka-dotted bag, together on shorelines and in parks, soaking up the sun and enjoying the outdoor writer’s life.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

None of these purchases were spontaneous. They’ve all been on a wishlist for a year or more, and I budgeted carefully beforehand to make acquiring my whole list happen, and I try to buy what will last.
With only my office set-up left to purchase, I’m dead-on-track with my budget and it feels great to know I’ve bought better quality for every purchase than I expected I would find in my budget.
On Monday, I call and cancel all my cable add-ons. By then, I hope to have my new TV and stereo up and running. I see a future with less cable TV and more “deliberate choosing” of what to watch, either via the web or Netflix, rather than haphazard “what’s on?” channel-surfing that’s a bottomless pit for my time.

But Tomorrow’s Not Here Today

Then I’m looking forward to having a work desk at home that doesn’t leave my shoulders aching and my neck prone to starting headaches. It’s amazing how much that hampers one’s desire to sit and write for more than 40 minutes at a time. The desk won’t be a reality until I’m landed in my new home, come March, but my soul’s left wistfully wanting for that day.
While I’ll be thrilled to get out and meet new people on the Island when I move there, I’m making it very plain that my first motivation behind the move is to adopt the WRITER’S LIFE. This will mean a lot of time alone, and when I have a home that has a good entertainment system, lots of music to play, a camera to stoke my creativity, and a healthy writing environment with the right tools, I think the idea of being at home for all those long hours won’t feel like punishment anymore, especially when I’m so close to the city for quick escapes and refreshing The Little Grey Cells. I think those 15 hours I save on weekly “work” commutes via working from home will transform the way I work off-hours for me.
There’s still the mystery of where I’ll be. I’m prepared to compromise a little to get a two-bedroom (or one-plus-den) apartment in a neighbourhood I love. I want my work separate from my life, since it’ll be muddled together so much from working at home. I’m dying to know what I’ll be calling home for the next year or few, and I’m five weeks from knowing, eight weeks from going.

Buyer’s Remorse?

Absolutely not. With the holidays almost over and my budget intact, I feel great.
Unlike other people who buy new electronics every couple of years, when I buy things I have a tendency to use them until the end of their workhorse lives. I’m not about new or trendy, I’m about getting the best I can on a reasonable budget, of technology that’s been tested and true, and I’m big on not wasting my technology via replacing them for the “shiny” releases.
I’ve bought cheap-and-often in my youth, but I don’t do that now. When I replaced my sofa 3 years ago, I paid nearly 4 times what my friend did, but his will need replacing next year, and mine has a lifetime warranty on the frame and still has spots needing to be “broken in.” I have family members using the same brand of sofa from 20 years ago, because they bought smart with quality like me.
With a new home, a new town, new goals, new tech, new priorities, the coming year will be a really fun and exciting experience for me from day one to day done.
Sometimes, consumerism isn’t just empty acquisitions. Sometimes it’s about picking the things that really do let you be the best you. When I take breaks from writing, I love movies and drama. Always have. I love photography walks. I love writing in cafes and watching people. I haven’t been able to do these things for a long, long time. When my scooter died in late 2009, while my back was horribly injured, my life became more about commuting long-form through the city and surviving it, rather than living in it.
It’s sad it’ll take my leaving my hometown to get back to the smaller lifestyle I love, but it’s enthralling to know it’s closer every day. I’m 100% sure it’s the right direction, and with all the quality-of-life purchases I’ve made, and the things I’ll emotionally gain from the move, a part of me feels like there’ll be nothing left to want.
For now, I’m in a weird limbo between what I know is coming and what’s here today, but I’m soaking in every moment. What a ride.