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Monday, January 13, 2003


There's this thing I do that I kind of hate in myself: I develop an interest in something and I go totally rabid, full-out batshit. I want to know everything there is to know about the subject. And I want to know it all as of yesterday, if not before. I'll buy as many books and/or magazines as I can find and I'll immerse myself in the subject. I dream about it. I talk about it as much as I can to people without, I hope, conveying to them that I've gone totally insane about something. Again.

And then, sometimes a few months later and sometimes years later, I lose all interest. I get bored. I move on. I'm stuck with loads of books on a subject that no longer interests me, and sometimes I'm stuck with more if the subject or hobby involved the buying of lots of things.

I've gotten acutely aware of it as I've gotten older and now I'm at the point where even as I'm wandering the aisles of the bookstore searching for things on the subject of (Insert Current Mania Here), I'm already planning for the time when I won't care about it anymore. "Don't pile on the books, Nicole. In a while, they'll just be cast aside next to all the Barbie-collecting books. What's the point?" It seems self-defeating, as if I'm conceding failure before I've even given something a chance to bloom.

I guess that brings me to this shamefully-neglected blog. Sometime in the last year I developed a major aversion to sitting in front of the computer all night the way I used to, and this site has been the victim of that. (Not just this site. My mother still hasn't realized that if she sends me an urgent e-mail on Friday night, I may not see it until Monday morning. I've gotten that bad.)

I don't know. I'm going to try to do better. The urge to write, to expound on my boring life at length, is still there. I like to write. I always have. Dredging up the discipline? Not so easy anymore.

I guess I'll start trying to get back into the groove by listing some of my most recent obsessions. Here's what I've been doing while I haven't been writing here:

*Watching Birds. We have a big tree in our backyard that overlooks our deck, and a few months ago I thought it would be cute to hang a bird feeder in the tree and see what showed up to eat. I got sparrows and doves at first, but the occasional glimpse of a cardinal spurred me to buy more and more feeders: special sunflower feeders; a suet feeder; two different kinds of platform feeders for birds who didn't like to cling to the hanging kind.

I hung the feeders and they came: pigeons, doves, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, and the occasional bluejay. I even made peace with the neighborhood squirrels who'd help themselves to my expensive black sunflower seed. Squirrels are the bane of birdfeeders everywhere but when my in-laws visited and thought the squirrel was hands-down the neatest thing visiting our feeders, I looked at him in a new light and decided he wasn't so bad after all. For a while I was going through huge sackfuls of birdseed every week and refilling feeders more than once a day.

And then a hawk heard all about the great new happening Birdie Buffet over in Centreville, and that was the end of all that. I glanced out the kitchen window one afternoon and saw this impressively large and mean-looking brown and white bird stalking up and down our deck rail, and I understood why I'd seen a big pile of dove feathers in my backyard the day before.

I still get some birds, especially on snowy days, but for the most part our tree is a ghost town now. It's depressing.

*HBO: I really didn't want this to happen because I know it will ultimately lead to me sitting on the couch in a Jabba-the-Hutt-like state and never moving unless it's to threaten a pizza delivery guy into feeding slices directly into my gaping maw, but we got a SuperMegaTimeSucker digital cable package when Centreville upgraded last fall. We went from having no HBO at all to having multiple incarnations of HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, and a passle of other networks I would have been a much more productive person for not having.

Which meant that I could finally find out what all this fuss about "The Sopranos" was and if it was deserved. I've always had a feeling about this show, always sensed that I'd really like it, but couldn't see shelling out money for the expensive DVD sets to find out. So I started watching the most recent season and in the second episode I saw, something terrible happened to a character who apparently really had it coming (though I didn't know it then), played by an actor I adore. Is that non-spoilerish enough? It was riveting, and I was hooked. And then I got hooked on "Oz," which I didn't expect but should have given my love of "Homicide."

They're both TV dramas as they should be, made without worry that the almighty 18-to-34-year-old demographic will tune out en masse if the show's writers don't beef up the romance between Furio and Carmela or hire some super-modelish types to pretty up the landscape of the Oswald Correctional Facility. And thank god for that. As always I've come in hopelessly late, long after everyone else already knew how good they were, and both shows are in their waning seasons. I'm not telling most of you anything you didn't already know. But coming in late is better than never seeing them at all.

*Cooking: Or trying to. After my in-laws visited the day after Thanksgiving and I tried to serve them a simple turkey breast that refused to cook and refused to cook and refused to cook and then carbonized (thank god we had a lot of side dishes), I decided it was high time I learned how to cook something more than frozen pizza and the occasional lasagna. I tried making tollhouse cookies from scratch over Christmas, and they weren't bad. Even not-so-great cookies tend to get a free pass from people, I've noticed, especially if they have big chunks of chocolate in them.

I've also made biscuits; a simple pasta dish with a sauce I improvised from olive oil, black beans, red pepper and oregano; Mexican Lentil Soup; and baked ziti (that last one being entirely the fault of "The Sopranos." It's truly great to see a show where people actually eat. They eat all the time, in fact). I haven't tried anything overly demanding yet, but it's been fun.

That's probably more than enough for now, assuming anyone actually shows up to read this.

But I'm still keeping up with at least one of my old obsessions: Planet Feedback letters. They all start to sound the same after a while, but today I found one of the kind that makes keeping up with the site worthwhile because you can't believe people like this exist or worse yet, that they advertise:

"Dear Outback Steakhouse: My wife went into labor in your restaurant and I made her wait in agony in the bathroom while I waited for our food, which you never brought me and then didn't even save for us when I sent an envoy back a few hours later to try to retrieve it. You inconsiderate and self-centered bastards. And oh yeah -- we had a boy."

People, man. God.

Posted by Insomniac @ 09:00 PM EST [Link] [866 comments]


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