tiaras optional

"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Saturday, April 28, 2007

This Whole Getting Old Thing Sucks

I spent the last few days taking care of my grandmother while my mother was out of town. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s. It’s in the early stages, mostly just short-term memory loss. She still knows us all. She can remember the past, she just can’t remember what she was talking about 10 minutes ago or if she took her drugs this morning. She also has severe osteoporosis, which has left her somewhat immobile. She can get around with the help of a walker or cane, but she’s in danger of falling at any time and in bad pain. She’s also about six inches shorter than she used to be. (Excuse while I go take a calcium supplement.).

Taking care of my grandmother is a lot like taking care of a small child. Endless confusion and endless questions (except the small child will hopefully remember the answer you gave them five minutes ago and not keep asking the same question). But with a small child, no matter how frustrating they can be, there is at least the knowledge that in a few more years, they’ll be capable of real conversation. And with my grandmother, if she’s still around in a few years, she’ll be in even worse shape and remember even less.

Perhaps because caring for a Alzheimer’s-stricken elderly woman is rather stressful and also because I was in a strange bed, I had trouble sleeping. Of course, it’s sort of hard to sleep when an elderly woman wanders into your room at the crack of dawn and says, “Oh, I thought you were someone else.” I almost asked her who she thought I was, but I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know the answer. During the hours that I did sleep, my subconscious decided to go into overdrive, resulting in a bunch of weird dreams. The highlights (or perhaps lowlights): I was trapped in some sort of glitzy shopping mall with an ex-boyfriend, unable to get back to Lord Kissington. People lived in the mall in these weird sort of pod apartments, that although small, were quite moderne and chic except that everyone in the mall could see into you apartment. The ex lived in one of these apartments, and his place freaked me out because there was a mouse running around that had a crazy huge fluffy tale that was sort of like a feather boa. It was fierce, but creepy. The next night I had a dream about a different ex. He had discovered my blog and thought that every post was about him, and I kept trying to explain that nothing was about him and that he didn’t matter enough for me to even blog about (mattering enough to dream about is apparently another matter entirely).

While staying with my grandmother, I watched a lot of shows that I never watch, stuff aimed toward the old folks like Wheel of Fortune and Live with Regis and Kelly. These shows made me want to rip the hair out of my head just to have something else to focus on. My grandmother doesn’t even seem to particularly like these shows, although she never misses them. Actually, the only thing she likes is The Sopranos, except that sometimes she can’t remember the name of it and calls it “that show with Tony.” I don’t think she really gets the concept of DVDs, so I had a lot of trouble explaining to her that no new episodes had arrived from Netflix. She will also sit through Law and Order. I think she enjoys stuff about people getting killed.

The last few days were incredibly draining, and I’m beyond glad that it’s the weekend and I don’t have to do anything. I plan on a lot of sitting around. And a lot of TV watching that doesn’t involve any programs geared at old people. And feeling really awful for my mother, who has to do this every day.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

So Boring

It’s been very hard for me to post at all lately, mainly because my life has been so fucking boring for the past couple of weeks. For example, I was home sick last Friday with a migraine, and I did pretty much nothing but lie in bed moaning (and not in the good way) all day.

I spent last weekend not doing much of anything, feeling totally blah. I made it to work on Monday, but stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday with a cold (which is like my 42nd cold of the season; my immune system decided to take winter off it seems). During all this time spent at home, I was in my pajamas more than regular clothes. Also, my insomnia is back with a vengeance, so I’ve been pretty much braindead for days. Sleeping only 4 or 5 hours a night will do that to you.

I watched a couple of movies, several episodes of Twin Peaks, several episodes of Gilmore Girls, and approximately 25 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I sat around on the couch. I read US Weekly. I avoided most coverage of the Tech shooting, because the situation is depressing enough without having to watch exploitative reports that make me want to throw things at the TV.

So, I’ve been at a loss for blog topics. What can I write about?

Why I have spent more time sick than healthy lately.
How I had forgotten just how fucking weird Twin Peaks is (and how it makes me yearn for a good slice of cherry pie).
Why all the people who inhabit the town in Gilmore Girls are so darn precious (seriously, have they ever explained why the next door neighbor lives in a house designed for midgets?)
US Weekly: Is it just me or is the “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” feature becoming increasingly lame?
Bride and Prejudice versus Pride and Prejudice: The guy who plays Will in B&P is no Colin Firth. He’s no Matthew MacFadeyn either.
How I’m really sick of movies arriving from Netflix that I have no memory of having put on the list. Since we’re now getting movies I added to the list in a burst of enthusiasm in 2005, this is a recurring problem.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Angel or Spike? (This would be a short post since the answer is clearly Spike. ).

Here’s hoping things get more interesting soon.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Day All Gone to Hell

I took Wednesday off from work, because I haven’t taken a day off in ages and because I wanted to do my taxes. My taxes aren’t really that complicated, I just like to have a day to do them with nothing else hanging over my head. I had big plans: do my taxes, run some errands, and go to the gym. The day didn’t turn out quite as well I had hoped.

*Get up, eat breakfast, and do the federal taxes. Am getting money back for the first time in 10 years. Woo hoo.
*Call Lord Kissington to tell him the good news.
*Consider running errands, but need to check work email first.
*Check work email.
*Discover crisis.
*Spend next two hours working.
*Grumble for 10 minutes about having to work on my day off.
*Do DC taxes.
*Discover that we owe $900.
*Hysterically call Lord Kissington.
*Redo DC taxes as married filing separately to bring that total down to under $200.
*Breathe sigh of relief, as we are still getting more than that back from the feds, so we’re coming out ahead.
*Call Lord Kissington yet again with the good news.
*Check work email again to see that crisis has been averted.
*Debate going to the gym, but decide to watch General Hospital instead.
*Wonder who the hell all these new characters are and why they are ruining my stories.
*Again debate going to the gym, but decide to watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer instead.
*Ponder some huge holes in the plot but decide they don’t matter because this episode is about Spike and storyline inconsistencies seem unimportant before the awesomeness that is Spike.
*Consider running errands again, but realize that it’s cold and gross out and LK will be home from work at any minute.
*Accept that my day off is basically shot and pour myself a glass of wine.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hug Your Mom

I was working on this rather long involved post about some draining family drama involving my aunt and her Easter-related behavior, but I was having a lot of issues with it and was very undecided about actually posting it. And then I found out that, over the weekend, two mothers of friends of mine died. One mom had been sick for a while, but the other death was completely unexpected. One of the moms I had never met; the other I’d known since childhood.

So, I’ve scrapped that post entirely, because the antics of an aging drama queen seem rather silly in the face of death. And trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. And being momless. So, I’m going to ignore my aunt and hug my mom. I encourage you to do the same.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

I've Totally Got "in the Navy" Stuck in My Head These Days

I was working on a spring-related post, but on a day when I spent 15 minutes searching for the gloves I thought I was done with, such a post no longer feels appropriate. At first, I felt sort of bad for all the underdressed tourists I saw today, but they kept blocking the sidewalk, so I got over that pretty quickly. Besides, anyone who had done a little research before their trip would have learned that spring temperatures in DC are unreliable at best.


Is it just me, or are those recently released British sailors mostly all teh hot? Especially the one in the front of all the group shots and the one that kind of looks like Prince William except less balding. In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the naval men are treated like rockstars. Now I see why. I do feel for the lone female sailor. All the male sailors are given suits, and she gets stuck with the frumpy denim and unflattering horizontal stripes.


My apartment building got a new management company last year, and they make me long for the days of the old, half-assed managerial team. The new group is very rules-oriented, and they release a lot of memos and statements, 98% of which are completely pointless. They’re posted a new set of rules for our roof deck, which ban parties, illegal substances (I really would have thought this one was a given, being that they’re, you know, illegal. Besides, anyone consuming illegal substances isn’t likely to be the rules-oriented type.), and alcohol, thereby making the roof deck completely worthless. If I can’t have a glass of wine with my sunset, what’s the point?

I paid the rent on Monday. They recently raised the rent, starting last month. I couldn’t remember the new amount (it not being a nice round number), so I looked at last month’s check and wrote it for the same amount. Last night, when I got home, they had dropped off a letter, with my uncashed check attached. It spelled my last name wrong, told me that my check was too high by $3, and said that they do not accept overpayments and that I needed to drop off a new check. It also attached a copy of the rent payment rules, with the following rule highlighted in yellow: “We do not accept partial payments.”

I thought of writing them a response along the lines of:

Dear Fascist Manager,

I would like to point out that the partial payment rule does not apply in this case, as the word partial means a part of a whole, and I paid the whole amount, plus $3. This is an overpayment, about which your rules remain silent. Also, last month, I paid this same amount and was not informed that I had overpaid. I expect a refund check in the amount of $3 to be given to me in a prompt manner.

Very sincerely yours,
Lady Tiara

But then I realized that I might end up having to deal with the fascists in person or on the phone over the matter, and it’s worth $3 not to have to do that.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

You Liked Me I Like

I don’t post much about the weird searches that directed people to my blog, since the vast majority of people who end up here were looking for info on “shrinking breasts.” That’s right, I’m number 1 on google for “shrinking breasts.” Which is actually pretty sad if you think about it, since I assume people who are googling shrinking breasts are actually looking for medical advice, which they sure as hell aren’t getting here.

Lately, though, I’ve had a few interesting searches.

Someone got here by searching for "you liked me I like." I liked you? Really? But I hardly know you.

I think someone is planning an emo wedding, because I’ve gotten two related searches: “emo wedding first dance songs” and “girl emo tiaras.”

I obsessed over the first dance for my wedding, so I have some experience here. The problem with choosing an emo song for your wedding is twofold: 1) Most emo songs are fast and thus not really appropriate for the traditional slow first dance, and 2) although many emo songs are about love, they are generally of the “my girlfriend dumped me and I totally miss her and now I just get drunk a lot” variety, making many of them not the best choice for a wedding. That said, I do have a couple of suggestions:

“Hear You Me” or “23” by Jimmy Eat World
“I’ll Catch You” by the Get Up Kids
And if you don’t mind not having a slow song, “Skips a Beat (Over You)” by the Promise Ring would work well.

Although it’s not exactly what I would call emo, “Heaven” by the Fire Theft is an awesome song, and it’s by the guys from Sunny Day Real Estate, and they totally qualify as emo.

As for girl emo tiaras, although I know way too much about tiaras, I don’t think I can help you with this one. Because you know what’s not very emo? Tiaras.

I got two people searching for the meaning of the lyrics of “Blue Skies” by Strays Don’t Sleep. Actually, maybe it was the same person phrasing their query slightly differently. I’m too lazy to try to match the search up with an IP or location. From the first verse it seems like it’s about someone thinking about their ex (“It’s been a long year since we last spoke”) and forgiving them for whatever went wrong in the relationship. The second verse hints that the ex in question is now dead (“Could I have saved you?”), perhaps from suicide (“You alone with those pills”). It’s all about forgiveness and shit. I know this because they played it on One Tree Hill during a scene where Nathan forgave Haley for leaving him to become a rock star and Lucas forgave Brooke for sleeping with Chris Keller (which was far less forgivable in my opinion, since Chris is a douchebag who refers to himself in the third person. But I digress.). Yeah, I need to get out more.

Someone asked “is it ok to send mass card to family after the funeral?” Yes, it’s absolutely fine to send a mass card after the funeral. This is what people who can’t make it to the funeral generally do. It’s what I did recently when my uncle in another country died. Please stop by Tiaras Optional for all your funeral etiquette questions.

Apparently, all my posts about mixed tapes have made me a go-to girl for mixed tape suggestions. To the person searching for “make a mix tape, songs, he broke my heart,” first of all, I’m very sorry, but remember, there are lots of other fish in the sea and all those cliches. For an awesome breakup mix, try the following songs:

Yeah, Oh Yeah by Magnetic Fields
My Friend Peter by Alkaline Trio
Your Cheatin’ Heat by Hank Williams
Rootless Tree by Damien Rice
The Mixed Tape by Jack’s Mannequin
Breaking My Heart by Aqualung
Is She Really Going Out with Him by Joe Jackson
Goodbye Forever by Alkaline Trio
Fuck and Run by Liz Phair
This Is Getting Over You by Alkaline Trio (actually pretty much anything by Alkaline Trio will work. Those guys know breakups.)

Listen to the mix nonstop for two weeks. By the end of that time, you’ll be really sick of wallowing in misery. This is a crucial first step to moving on. Good luck.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rereading an Old Favorite

Last night, after being exhausted and sluggish all day, I crawled into bed around 11 and immediately woke up completely. This often happens to me. Somehow the act of getting into bed signals my insomnia to kick in. So, I figured I would read for a while. I’m in between books at the moment, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read next, so I decided to do one of my favorite things: rereading a favorite book.

I do this all the time, and I’ve realized over the years that most people find it a bit odd that I have read some books five times or more. For every book I reread, there’s a new book I haven’t read. But when I am feeling out of sorts or sleepless or sick, there’s something extremely comforting about reading something I know and love.

But not just any book will do. White Noise, Lolita, and Independent People are among my favorite books, and I’ve read them more than once, but if I’m feeling a little blue, they’re not the kind of book I turn to.

The classics that I reread on a regular basis include

Anything by Nancy Mitford, but preferably The Pursuit of Love
Anything by Jane Austen (but Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice top the list)
Generation X by Douglas Coupland
The Other Side of the Fire and Unexplained Laughter by Alice Thomas Ellis
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Lover by Marguerite Duras
The Daughter of Time, Brat Farrar, or anything else by Josephine Tey
Anything by Agatha Christie (particularly when I’m sick)

They’re comfortable and welcoming. In several cases, the covers are dog-eared and falling apart. These books have been well loved.

Last night, I chose The Pursuit of Love. Fifty pages in, I came to two realizations: (1) this was going to be a bad night in terms of sleep, and (2) I have read this book so many times that I could probably recite it. I am now qualified to write one of those annotated editions explaining all the obscure 1930s British cultural references and which friend or relative of Nancy Mitford each character was based on. This is either awesome or really scary. I actually used a quote from it on my wedding program. One of the guests told me he almost cried when he read it. I was extremely pleased.

When things are really bad, I’ve been know to turn to such childhood classics as

Little Women
Anne of Green Gables (or any of the other novels in the series)
The Secret Garden
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Anything by Enid Blyton

I’m not sure how well known Enid Blyton is to an American audience, but she is identified by the ever-reliable Wikipedia as the fifth most popular author in the world. This is quite plausible, since she wrote hundreds of books and they’ve been translated into dozens of languages. I know and love her from having spent part of my childhood in Ireland, where her books were everywhere. I read and reread her books throughout childhood (apparently, this habit started early for me). I would lend the books to friends, all of whom loved them as well. Lord Merlin loved them so much that he used to borrow my copies and write his name in them and insist they were his. Her mystery series (including the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, and the Five Find-Outers) are all delightful, as are the standalone books. I just found out that many of her books are available in fairly cheap new editions, so I may have to buy a few (although the newer editions have been altered to make them more PC. I can see the point of cutting the racist language, but is it really necessary to excise every use of the word queer or gay? I suppose it’s assumed that modern children are too stupid to know that these words might have other meanings). Is there something wrong with me that I would rather read books written over 50 years ago that I enjoyed from ages 5 to 11 (to be fair, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. I was an advanced reader—I was totally reading at a fourth-grade level in first grade. Everyone wanted to hang out with me.) than anything else on my shelves? I probably shouldn’t mention that Nancy Drew phase I went through a few years.

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