Sunday, November 16, 2008

Endeavour launch | Between bites, some lights

Endeavour, as seen from a Longwood parking lot.

While enjoying a meal of veal and authentic north Italian lasagna, I stepped outside to watch shuttle Endeavour's liftoff at 7:55 p.m. Friday. I hadn't missed a launch since moving to Florida, and I wouldn't let a wedding rehearsal dinner put a cork in that.

I stood by the curb. I looked around. I needed to face east, but I didn't know which way was east. I had left the restaurant two minutes before launch time. I knew that if I didn't see the shuttle, there was something wrong or there were too many clouds.

A waitress at Mona Lisa Ristorante in Longwood used a smoke break as excuse to watch one of the greatest shows on Earth. Between drags, she yelled to me as I looked up, down, side to side.

"You out here for the shuttle launch?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said. "But I don't know where to look."

"Oh. ... Oh, oh. Look behind you," she said.

I turned around and saw the glow. Someone had just lit a big candle above Kennedy Space Center. It was the sun in the night sky.

I was 60 miles from KSC, but NASA's performance again did not disappoint. Endeavour was a backward shooting star as it made its way toward space. It arched over the moon and separated from its twin solid rocket boosters. Then it was a twinkling star still moving into the distance.

Like a good joke, the launch was something you would only understand if you were there. I wasn't close - say, in Titusville or Cape Canaveral - so it didn't translate well through photography. I had to snap a shot, though, just to add to my collection.

Two minutes later, I again was eating lasagna made with crepes instead of pasta.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I just might be crazy

My ceiling fan was an epiphany this morning: I'm messed up.

I wake up and look up. There's a giant five-legged asterisk above me. It's ready to pounce. Bright House Networks' commercials make me fear such things. Beware of the fine print of phone-company advertising, they say. As if my ceiling fan presents a danger.

In low light, I see something coiled on the floor. It's a snake! I like snakes at the zoo. I don't like them on my floor. But it's just my belt.

I think I'm crazy.

I'm obsessed with punctuation. I used to be strict with its use. Comma can't go here, exclamation mark isn't necessary, don't use a question mark with a statement. Now, punctuation is as interpretive as the words it's used with?

Fonts irritate me. I decided not to buy a greeting card because of its font. The inscription was good. But the font hurt my eyes. Too much serif, curve, glitter. I was repulsed.

I eat things other people wouldn't. It's genetics, from Dad. Parmesan cheese goes well with grainy cereals, particularly bran flakes, sometimes with raisins. It's a reliable substitute during a milk shortage. They're both dairy.

Maple syrup and yogurt go with cereal, too. Yogurt's a go-to breakfast food. I scramble eggs with yogurt and sugar, sometimes raisins. Yogurt is good in pancake and French toast batter.

Black tea and hot chocolate is my autumn drink. I mix them.

Sometimes, I drink hot chocolaty tea from a cup but forget to finish off the last few ounces. I never used to do that. My mind is going. Deteriorating. Rotting. Possibly early-stage Alzheimer's.

I microwaved a mug once. I forgot to put water in it.

I bought canned sardines. People with taste buy sardines. They're gross, so only sophisticates consume them, as with caviar, foie gras and Dr. Pepper. I tell myself these things. I think sardines on matzos would be classier than sardines on saltines. Ritz are the middle class. But I've never eaten sardines; they're still in my pantry.

I bought shrimp, pork chops and flour. They're still in my kitchen.

Peanut butter is good. I think my co-workers feel sorry for me when I eat crackers and peanut butter, carrots and peanut butter, apple slices and peanut butter, or just peanut butter. But it's healthier than Reese's peanut butter cups left over from trick-or-treating.

PB&J pancakes are good.

I was addicted to "Guitar Hero" for a week after I bought a used PlayStation 2. I haven't touched it since.

I was addicted to Starbucks for a week. Not the coffee; it's overroasted. I craved hits of the atmosphere: classical music, whirl of the blender, young people like me.

I'm forever addicted to coffee. I go through stages when I pledge caffeine sobriety, and my teeth get whiter. Then I don't sleep one night, and I relapse in the morning. I'm like an alcoholic: once a coffee drinker, always a coffee drinker. Do they have Coffee Anonymous meetings?

My addiction to work won't go away either. But at least I'm not alone. Staff meetings are like group therapy. And doughnut day is medicine day.

I like fine wine. I've developed a collection because I don't have the social life that would justify me opening a bottle. Doing it alone would lead to real alcoholism and real AA meetings.

Sometimes I buy ginger ale and pour it into a glass flute. It looks like real Champagne: a tinge of amber, a squiggly line of bubbles streaming to the surface.

Cranberry ginger ale looks like rose brut.

My neighbor is a sex offender. I haven't slept well since I discovered this, which explains my perpetual coffee drinking. Where's my coupon for Dunkin' Donuts? Where's my handgun? But a Web site says my neighbor likes girls. And that puts me at ease because I'm not a girl.

I write too much, but not frequently enough. So, this felt good. I needed to share. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

My latest addiction is reading. Five books - all memoirs - in five days. Six trips to the library. Good thing gas is cheap, $2.17 a gallon. Cheaper than milk. And Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's the best thing about being a journalist on Election Day?


Pizza. Specifically, free pizza. And doughnuts.

As for the election itself, no comment.