Watching: Chicago on DVD. And let me tell you something. If you don't think that Queen Latifah doing "When You're Good to Mama" is about a thousand times sexier than Renee Zellweger doing anything in that movie, then you're just crazy.

Listening: To the new John Mayer CD. And it's actually very good! Come back, Eliza, come back! It's good! And the liner notes are very clever.

see, i refuse to believe
that my life's gonna be
just some string of incompletes
never to lead me to anything
remotely close to a home life
been holding out for the home life
my whole life

Wondering: How a copy of the Flashdance soundtrack CD came to be in my possession. I found it when I was cleaning the other day. I did not purchase it. I have never listened to it. I don't know why I have it. Did one of you give it to me? Did I ask for it? I am baffled about this.

Transcribed from a piece of paper:

I am writing this on the back of a piece of paper that has nothing on it but a few lines of directions. [I don't know why I thought you needed to know this.] I am sitting in my car, in line at the Shell station up the street from me, waiting to get my annual safety inspection, one of approximately 43 hoops the state of Virginia requires you to jump through in order to drive a legal automobile. I already have my license plates, and they are the coolest plates Virginia has to offer, and that is saying something, as there are (and I am not exaggerating) over 180 designs you can choose from. Mine is this one, Virginians for the Arts, as I am indeed a Virginian and I am all about the arts. And I think it must be brand new, because I haven't seen a single other car with it yet. I feel very special.

[I don't believe I regaled you with the story of my trip to the DMV a couple of weeks ago, but it was as big a pain in the ass as you might imagine. I wasn't able to get my driver's license because the website that explained what you needed to bring, like two forms of ID, didn't explain that they had to be two different kinds of ID, so my unexpired Kansas driver's license and my expired Pennsylvania driver's license were technically not two different forms of ID. But they did give me license plates, so I was happy. I was also happy because I went in at lunch and got my number and then went back to work for nearly two hours before returning to the DMV and waiting another 45 minutes for my number to be called. I think that if I had been sitting in that room the entire time, I would have lost my entire mind. I don't know where all the non-crazies go to take care of their DMV business, but it clearly wasn't this branch.]

Also, my plates are good for two years, which is pretty good for me, considering my history of these things.

So I am sitting in my car, listening to the new John Mayer, it is 12:52 and I have been here ten minutes already, and there are four cars ahead of me, so we will just see how long this takes. I also have my new Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair, in case I get tired of all this writing by hand.

I took my cat to the vet this morning, as it was time for her to be shot again. I just decided to go back to the Old Town veterinary, because that's where we took my dog when I lived here in high school, and we really liked them. But what I wasn't expecting was to walk in, give my name to the girl at the desk, have her pull up a record on the computer and say, "Wait, is this Katie?"

Katie was my dog. They still have her records on the computer. The last time she had been in was January 3, 1991. I could not believe they still had her in there!

"Home Life" is a fine, fine song. [I am listening to it again as I type this, actually.] I want to live in the center of a circle. I want to live on the side of a square.

It is now 1:35. I have read the entire EW magazine, or at least all the parts that interest me, and I have to say that I am going to stop reading Stephen King's column because I want to like him and these columns of his are making me not like him a lot.

We've moved up one car. Now there are three cars in front of me. The guy directly in front of me is in a BMW, and has a Virginia Tech plate that says "HKY PKY." Hanky panky? Hokey pokey? Whatever, it looks kind of silly on a BMW.

I wish I had bought food before I came here.

I just took a picture of myself. I'm sure the woman in the Jaguar behind me must think I'm insane. And this is clearly where all the swanky people come to get their state inspections, since there's a Beemer in front of me and a Jag behind me. JagLady is probably all annoyed that she has to stare at the back of my Civic for two hours.

I am actually quite sad about John Ritter. He died on September 11, which, in addition to being, you know, September 11, was also his daughter's 5th birthday. Just how many different ways can your birthday suck?

I had no e-mail from anyone this morning, it kind of bummed me out. What is everyone up to today? Why are they not at their computers, writing to me, or at least updating so I have a notify or two? [It's now 10:50 p.m., and I had no e-mail from anyone the entire freaking day, except myself, checking to make sure my e-mail was working. How pathetic am I looking to you now? And where are all you people? Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Send me your e-mail!]

It is now 2:50. My hand got tired, so I read several articles in Vanity Fair, about George Clooney, who I have grown to like very much, and one about the Monaco princesses, who are two of the screwiest women ever, and one about the extraordinary tackiness of Las Vegas. I also put the seat back and rested my eyes.

But I'm next in line now, so I should be out of here soon.

This is now.

I did finally get out of there. When you get your safety inspection, they put stickers in the windshield of your car, and everyone else has two different stickers, but I now only have the one. So apparently there is yet another step I have to take (and, in all likelihood, some other fee I will have to pay) before the car is fully legal, and then I have to go back and spend another three hours at the DMV getting a driver's license so I personally can be fully legal. What the hell ever, state of Virginia. When this is all done, you are cordially invited to kiss my legal ass.

Anyway, after the lovely two and a half hours of sitting in my car, I then went to work. (I still haven't told you anything about what I've been doing, have I? I'm working for the largest missing children's agency in the country, in their international department. I am working on cases where one parent has abducted their children from some other country and brought them into the U.S. There is an international treaty that governs the process of determining whether the children should be returned, and we help the "left-behind" parent in the foreign country with that process. That's the short version.) So anyway, I went in because I've been covering for a girl who has been away on her honeymoon, and I wanted to make sure everything was as organized as possible before she gets back, so she doesn't freak out Monday morning.

I then came home and slept, talked to Michelle, talked to my cousin, watched a piece on CNBC about the downfall of WorldCom, talked to my friend Sally, with whom I am going to the Renaissance Festival tomorrow, and now I'm here, writing to you all.

I had an entirely different entry started, about last weekend, my grandmother's 90th birthday party. It was about the most emotionally taxing weekend I've had in a long time, which is saying something, considering the amount of emotional taxation I've been feeling lately.

I realized that my relationship with my mother is stronger and deeper and more important to me than I ever thought it was. I realized that my relationship with my father is more precarious than either of us wants to admit. And that's hard, because I love him very much and I know he loves me with his life, and we always think (or we are raised to believe) that if love exists between two people then everything else will be okay, and it's demoralizing to think that sometimes love isn't enough, but I'm starting to see that maybe, sometimes, it just isn't, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. That lesson is not easy for me.

But the truth is, despite all of that, I have been feeling good this week. In spite of my grandmother's party, in spite of the 9/11 anniversary, in spite of everything that has been cluttering my brain all summer, I have been feeling positive, optimistic even. I have no reason for it, everything that was chasing me last week is still back there, just at my heels. So we probably do need to consider the possibility that I'm simply delusional.

It also could be nothing more than the approaching fall. I love this time of year, it is my favorite season, without question. I love air you can feel, just brisk enough to let you know it isn't summer anymore. I love that I am sitting here in my old, comfortable, worn out, frayed-sleeves college sweatshirt. I love that I will go to bed in rag socks, with the windows thrown open. I love no more air conditioning. I love that I will soon unpack my sweaters. I love that the great many trees behind my house, throughout my neighborhood, will soon be turning colors and dropping their leaves onto the path I walk to the bus every morning.

And yes, I do appreciate the note of melancholy that comes along with it. The quieting down, the settling in. It's like summer isn't real, but fall is. June is carefree childhood, September is grown-up responsibility. June is fun. September is life.

When autumn comes
it doesn't ask
it just walks in where it left you last
you never know when it starts
until there's fog inside the glass
around your summer heart

Today, for now, I'm fine with it all. I am at one with the fog around my summer heart. It's going to be okay.

...aren't you ever going to understand?

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