(parenthetically speaking)

a random gal’s random thoughts about nothing and everything in general

When I Check Out, I Like to Check In July 19, 2009

I love hotels. Love, love, love them. Like Tiny Tim—who I had the pleasure of interviewing from his Des Moines hotel domicile back in 1994—I think I could even live in a hotel.

Just think, they’d be no bed to make and there’d always be someone to pick up after you. You could crank the AC down as low as you like and use all the hot water you want and not have to worry about huge electric bills. And room service when you get the munchies at 1 a.m.? Hello! Not to mention all the free ice you want.

To me, there’s just something exotic about staying in a hotel. Even in the most rinky-dink, cookie-cutter chain hotels. It somehow makes me feel, um, international. Even when I’m just shacking up for the night in some hole-in-the-wall along an isolated stretch of interstate in Winnemucca, Nevada.

For one thing, I always sleep better in hotels. Maybe it’s those dark, heavy drapes they always seem to have that block out even the slightest hint of daylight—so much so that if you didn’t know better, you’d think the sun had exploded, enveloping the planet in a veil of black while you were busy dreaming about lollipops and unicorns.

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Here's hoping there's room at the inn.

The best I can recollect, my love affair with hotels started when I was 16, when my brother and I were driving in my old brown Toyota Tercel from Texas to Arizona to visit my aunt. I’d drive until I couldn’t drive anymore and then we’d stop at some cheap motel called the All-Nighter or something like that, and then start all over again the next day. Being that it was just the two of us, I felt like such a grown-up walking up to the clerk and saying, “I’d like a room for the night.” Actually, I can’t believe they didn’t look at the two of us and ask us where our parents were and refuse to rent us a room. Because, trust me, I didn’t look then like most 16-year-olds do today—like they’re 18 going on 25. I was lucky if I passed for 13.

In the years since, I’ve stayed in some really nice hotels. The Fairmont in Banff, the Peabody in Memphis, the Owners Suites at Signature in Vegas, to name a few. I’ve also stayed at some real fleabags. Like the time when my mom and sister and I had to scramble to find a room in Galveston, Texas, in the middle of the night after our tent blew down in a storm. I can still picture that tacky red velvet bedspread, the nasty, dingy brown shag carpet, and the live wires coming out of the wall. It was not in the least what you’d call exotic, but it did keep us from having to sleep in the women’s bathroom at our campground all night, where we had retreated after our Coleman SunDome took off in a whirlwind like Dorothy’s house in a Kansas tornado. It was such a pit, the three of us still laugh about to this day. So see, even the crappiest hotels can create lasting memories.

Another reason I love hotels is that they, at least for me, serve as a much-needed escape from the ordinary. I mean, don’t you ever get tired of sleeping in your same old bed night after night? Staring at those faded paisley sheets with the burgundy trim that you’ve had since your thirties?

Sometimes when I’m particularly down or stressed, or some frightening combination of the two, I want nothing more than to check into a hotel, pull the covers up over my head, and get away from the realities of the world. I did that very thing when my precious cat Harold, whom I’d had for 20 long years, got sick and had to be put down. I left the vet’s office, got in my car, and just started driving. I didn’t know, or care, where I was going. I just needed to get away. And rather than turning around and heading home at some point, I simply checked into a hotel for the night. No toothbrush, no night clothes, no nothing. And I think in some small way it may have actually helped start the healing process. (Now some of you will call me crazy for having such an intense reaction to my cat dying, but that’s another blog for another day. Besides, you never met Harold. If you had, you would have done the same thing.)

Anyway, the point is, that when it comes to hotels, it’s like Martha Stewart says: “It’s a good thing.” Of course, Martha would never be caught dead in a beat-up old motel room in Galveston, Texas, with a red velvet bedspread and brown shag carpeting. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.

To further prove I love hotels, check out the column I write about them at Examiner.com.

 

The Cat With No Name February 21, 2009

Okay, people, it’s been 10 days since I took home the stray kitten I told you about, and she still doesn’t have a name.

Why can’t I do this? What is it so hard for me to do something as simple as assign a name to a furry little pet?

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have children, huh? Heck, the poor kid would probably be walking before I came up with something to write down on its birth certificate. I think I need an intervention.

 

To Shred Or Not To Shred, That is the Question

Off the top of my head, I know I have at least four of them: bins scattered around my house that are full of papers that need to be shredded. They’re not all just my papers, but a combination of mine and my mother’s (all her mail comes to me). Which doubles the amount of credit card offers, old bills, and other crap that needs to be shredded to avoid any chance of identity theft. paper-shredder

Truth be told, I’m probably overly cautious about what does and doesn’t need to be shredded. But I figure if there’s any question whatsoever, then it’s probably safer to err on the side of caution. Because while the thought of someone stealing my possessions—like my TV, my digital camera, my jewelry (not that I have any), or even my car—is frightening, the thought of someone stealing my identity is absolutely horrifying. Talk about feeling violated! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to know someone is out there pretending to be me—even if it’s just in name in order to charge up my credit cards. Then there’s the monster hassle of having to cancel and replace everything, and repair any damage they may have done to the good credit score it took so long to build up.

So at least twice a week, as I go through the latest stack of mail, I sit there and contemplate, “Should I shred this one or not?” And the to-be-shredded pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

It wouldn’t be so bad if shredding wasn’t such a pain. But the cheapest shredders only take one or two pieces of paper at a time, plus the bin fills up so fast that you have to stop every so often to empty it, inevitably getting a handful of errant shreddings all over the place (especially if you have a cat who thinks they’re fun to play in). Shredding might not be so bad if you could sit there and watch TV while you were doing it, but the darn things are so loud that you have to crank up the volume on your TV so high that, at least for me, it takes the enjoyment out of it (I’m not keen on loud noises).

The other thing that gets me about shredding is that it’s just another reminder of how wasteful our society is. As I’m doing it, I always feel a little angry about all the trees that died in vein for something I didn’t even want in the first place and which I then have to take time out of my day to dispose of.

At this point, my to-be-shredded pile is so huge that I might have to call in the pros, with their high-speed, high-capacity manglers, to do it for me. The ironic thing is that once they’re done, they’ll no doubt send me an invoice—which I’ll just have to add to the shredding pile a month or two down the road.

 

Name that Kitty February 14, 2009

I have a new kitten. But poor little kitty needs a name. Everything I’ve thought of so far or that’s been suggested sounds either too silly, too girly, too sad, or just plain doesn’t fit.

I’ve had this problem before. Back in my 20s, I adopted these two kittens from a woman at work. One was an adorable little boy who could almost pass for a Maine Coon and the other was a beautiful baby girl who was all white except for a spot of gray on the top of her head. As cute and wonderful as they were, you’d think it would have been easy to find names for them, but I could never make anything stick. They were almost six months old before everyone started threatening to name them for me and out of desperation I came up with Harold and Maude. They had those names for 20 and 21 years respectively.

My other cat, Man-Man, already had his name when I adopted him from the Humane Society two years ago. I thought it was kind of weird at the time and thought about changing it for a second, but now I can’t imagine calling him anything else.

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New kitty at work with me on Friday.

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New kitty photographs looking mean but isn't.

Maybe that’s what I should do with this new kitten. Just pick something and go with it. But I can’t seem to make myself do it. I’d rather wait to see if something great comes along. And that’s where maybe you can help me. Maybe you’ll take one look at her and the perfect name will pop into your head. Or maybe you’ll be inspired to come up with something after you hear the story of how I came to be her new mom. However you come to it, I’d love it if you share your suggested names with me, so I don’t have to keep referring to her as “new kitty.”

“New kitty” had just been rescued from being stuck in a storm drain when I found her. It was in the Publix parking lot over by my mom’s apartment complex, where this colony of feral cats has taken up residence in the adjoining wooded area. The cats are all wild, but survive because this nice woman comes regularly and leaves food out for them. Which is why I was so surprised when this little kitten didn’t immediately run off after being set free; she let the men pick her up and then as I started walking over to see what was going on, she ran right up to me and even starting playing with the bottom of my skirt.

Hey, maybe Skirt would be a good name for her. Or maybe Squirt, since she only weighs 4 pounds. I don’t know, I just can’t decide. What do you think?