Tuesday, November 30, 2010

They fired someone at work today.

This is the third person in my department to be fired since I started there less than two years ago. Each time, the reason given was "It wasn't the right fit."

So I spent my day trying to buckle down and work, but instead I posted some videos on my blog about Alec Baldwin and Wegmans. Oops.

Unrelated: I know it's not a new thing or anything, but leggings without long shirts are still not cute. I saw a girl at the mall wearing super-tight leggings and a short-ish coat, and I could see every lump in her butt flesh. Not appealing.

Why I love Alec Baldwin and also Wegmans.

How do you all feel about grocery shopping? I am lucky enough to have been raised near Wegmans. Everyone loves Wegmans. I'm not kidding. When my grandparents come visit from Maine, they go to Wegmans to stock up; friends who have moved away request that visitors bring Wegmans-brand cereal and pasta sauce. Even Alec Baldwin's mom loves Wegmans (the relevant store stuff starts at 2:00):

So Wegmans, of course, contacted Baldwin, who agreed to do a series of commercials for Wegmans! It's pretty great.

How do you feel about your grocery store? Are you passionate about Stop-and-Shop or Meijer or whatever?
P.S. I have no idea why the videos seem extra wide. Any blog-nerds want to tell me how to make them the right size? Thanks!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What the Chief Enthusiasm Officer taught me

This could be my office if we were made into legos. Image via

In order, here are the jobs I've held:
1. Babysitter. Regular gig for two kids, plus lots of occasional jobs.
2. Receptionist at a gym (this is hysterically funny for people who know me). The gym was owned by the father of the two kids I regularly sat for. It was a very small, shitty gym. One of our regular customers often used our phone to order pizza to pick up on her way home.
3. Receptionist at a hair salon. Owned by a client at the gym. I wasn't old enough to drive, so I rode with her the forty minutes each way. This was a bad idea. I also once had to pick out an anniversary card for her husband, whom she did not like. Also a bad idea. Benefit: free haircuts and dyes.
4. Playgroup facilitator at a shelter for victims of domestic violence. "Playgroup facilitator" is a fancy way of saying I made decent money (I was paid out of a grant) to play with kids. The facility was chronically understaffed, which led to a lot of burnout, but kids are pretty great no matter what they've been through. Benefits: I left each day appreciating that, no matter how shitty things were going, I was not in fear of my life at any point during my day; I got to play with a lot of babies.
5. English teacher for high school, then middle school (the move to middle school was not voluntary). Overall exactly what you'd expect. The district I worked in is on its sixth superintendent in six years. The principal had a habit of "making an example" of teachers who didn't toe the line she wanted them to. Guess who her "example" was my last year there? I quit. Benefits: I got to talk about metaphors and Oxford commas; I discovered that middle schoolers are in fact human, mostly. [Note: yes, I write like this, and yes, I taught English. I know.]
6. Editor. Basically, I edit laws to get them ready for publication. It is not an exciting job, at all, but I'm pretty good at it and we have internet access, so that's nice. Benefits: pretty decent salary; no real dress code; I'm paid to read stuff all day, even if it's stuff I wouldn't read by choice.

So on my way home every day, I pass a Little Ceasars pizza place on a busy intersection. They pay some teenage dude to stand at the intersection and act like a maniac to get attention for the business. We refer to this kid as the Chief Enthusiasm Officer, because he seriously seems like he has never had more fun in his life than standing in the cold with a boombox and a pizza sign. In the summer, he played a cardboard guitar with their slogan on it, and I once watched him pause in rocking out really hard to pretend to tune the cardboard guitar. Genius. Sometimes he wears a mullet wig; once he wore a werewolf costume. Today he was wearing a Santa hat and beard, and gesticulating, opera-singer-style, to Christmas carols. And I thought, I have not been that excited about my job since I quit teaching.

I guess it's time to start looking into getting another teaching gig, huh?

What jobs have you loved? Hated? Been really enthusiastic about?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On holiday shopping

Image via

How do you handle holiday shopping? I've already talked about the great deals I got yesterday, but I wonder how other people go about giving and getting gifts.

What do you do about getting gifts you don't like? Do you keep them, in case the giver ever asks about them? Or do you regift unabashedly? I have gotten some doozies of weird gifts - like last year's kitty stationary (I'm SO not a cat person), or the jello-for-every-holiday cookbook I know I'm getting this year - that just begged to be regifted.

I'm trying a new thing this year: asking specifically for particular items. It's a little weird at first, and it will mean fewer surprises on Christmas morning, but I think perhaps it's worth it if I end up getting presents I won't either donate or be confused about.

For the record, the kitty stationary was a top gift at last year's white elephant gift exchange. And the jello book is looking like a strong contender for this year!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Do you all do the Black Friday thing? We do. If I am willing to get my butt out of bed early enough, I can get twice as much awesome stuff for people I love! It seems worth it to me, but then, I am one of those people who actually love the mall this time of year, so your mileage may vary on this one.

I spent a total of $207.96 and got:
  • A Samsung Fascinate for myself (it's a $500 phone, and I paid $0.96 for it. That is not a typo.)
  • New sheets and pillows for our bed (I napped with these after I got home)
  • The sweater my sister-in-law asked for at 60% off
  • Two baby-bump-friendly shirts for my sister at 50% off (The whole Gap was 50% off! Everything!)
  • Smart-touch gloves for my brother
  • Two shirts and a sweater for my mom at 50% off
  • A few nice things for Andy on sale
  • Several pine-scented candles to help me pretend our fake tree (which goes up on Wednesday!) is real
  • And a wool-blend and two wool v-neck sweaters and a silver belt for myself!
I mean, it's obviously about me a little bit, too.

Did you hit the stores this morning? Any great finds??

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Obligatory Holiday Post

I really like roasted marshmallows. Always have. So about seven years ago, Andy's grandma made sweet potatoes with pineapple and other stuff, topped with marshmallows, especially for me at Thanksgiving. The thing is, I hate sweet potatoes. They are the worst. And to me, pineapple is not a food that belongs on the holiday table. But Grandma was old, and it was nice of her to remember I liked marshmallows, so I pretended I loved 'em, and always thanked her and everything.

Every year for the last seven years, there have been fucking sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pineapple on the table for EVERY HOLIDAY. Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year's. And every year, I've pretended to like them. My trick is to take a big scoop that's mostly marshmallow, with a thin layer of sweet potato, then flip it onto my plate so it looks like a big scoop of potato, then eat from the bottom and get mostly mallow.

So Andy's grandma passed away last year, and I thought I'd finally be free of the sweet potatoes.

We went to Andy's uncle's house for Thanksgiving dinner today, and his uncle's girlfriend made me sweet potatoes, because she knew how much I loved them when Grandma made them. She even spent half an hour at the store trying to find the mini-marshmallows for the top.

So this year, I'm thankful for being honest and admitting that I hate sweet potatoes, and for hopefully never having to pretend to like another sweet potato.

Although it did mean that I had Andy's mom and his uncle's girlfriend razz me ALL EVENING about the goddamn sweet potatoes. If I don't have to see them next month, it'll all be worth it.

What're you grateful for this year?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-holiday festivites

Image via

So yesterday I had a nice, quiet evening of pie-baking and sweater-knitting planned. Instead, I got the pies made then went to a bar to hear my friend's band play (I didn't know about the show until very last minute). I brought my knitting with me and made the bouncer* hold it while I looked for my ID, which was terrific. While we were there, a whole bunch of my "group" from high school** arrived from out of town. They were too late for the band, but not too late for beers and catching up! It was great, despite being very unexpected.

 Tonight we're going to a dessert party at Andy's cousin's new house***, then probably stopping at the bars in my hometown on the way back to our house. So Andy's sweater isn't going to be done to wear to dinner tomorrow, but we are going to have fun and see people we don't see very often. I guess it's a satisfactory trade-off!

*Picture a skinny Hells Angel. He just looked at it, confused, while I dug through my purse.
**Full disclosure: I was not an integral member of said group, really.
***I baked a coconut cream pie!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday travel

Warning: This post is probably pretty boring.

I'm planning a trip to New York City next month, so I can pretend I'm in Home Alone 2, and I'm wondering about this whole new scanning/pat-down thing. The airports I'll be flying in AND out of have the new machines, and I'm pretty sure I'm not cool signing off on the government seeing me naked. (Find out if your airport has a backscatter full-body scanner here.)

I do have the option of taking a train for slightly less money, but that takes six hours or more, and I'm only going for a few days, so I can't decide if it's the trade-off in time.

The options, as far as I can tell, are:
A. Fly ($158 round trip if I buy right now). Take three hours each way, at most, not including airport time. Either let someone see an image of my naked body or have an invasive physical pat-down.
B. Take a train ($138 round trip). Take seven hours each way, at least.
C. Take a Greyhound bus ($100 round trip). Take eight hours or leave before 5am.

UGH. Anyone have to get one of those pat-downs? Do you think it's a violation of your right to avoid unreasonable search, or are people just making a big fuss over nothing?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 gift guides

The husband and I like to spend Sunday mornings in our pjs eating pancakes and reading the paper. This week we started trying to figure out Christmas presents for family: his parents, my parents, my siblings and their spouses, his sister, his other sister and her boyfriend. So far, we have all of one present purchased! Andy hates going to the mall and wandering around without specific items in mind, so I'm spending some time looking at gift guides online today for inspiration. Here are a few I've found helpful:

1. Karmaloop Women's Holiday 2010 Gift Guide. Really, this one's for me. None of the ladies I'm related to are overly girly, so I'm left coveting the Triangle Ring from the "Jingle Bell Rock" guide and half the stuff on the pink one.

2. Treehugger's 2010 Guides. Ten different guides to choose from with at least ten items per list - that's over 100 ideas! I'm thinking I'll find something appropriate for almost everyone on my list, and every item is earth-friendly.

3. 8 Etsy Shops With Great Gift Ideas. One of Real Simple's holiday guides. Hooray for supporting independent artisans!

4. Design Mom's Gift Guide: Cozy. Two of our sets of recipients have moved or will move recently, so what better to give than a nice, cozy make-it-feel-like home gift? (I can't wait for the rest of Gabrielle's guides!)

What gift guides do you get inspired by? Please share, so I can start crossing names off this list!

Friday, November 19, 2010


 Image via

This was a weird week for me. Monday and Tuesday were grumpy, Wednesday was great, yesterday and today were somewhere in between. Most of it boils down to a situation at work that I'm stressing over: it seems a customer was taken to task by her supervisor and tried to blame mistakes she made on me (when my work was 100% accurate). This means I've spent lots of time explaining the situation to senior employees in my department and my boss, and I'll be "sitting in on" a meeting with the customer (and the person who did the taking-to-task) in a few weeks. But I'm a worrier, to put it very mildly, so every I email I send about this stupid thing makes me more and more anxious.

So! Super glad to be done with that nonsense for a few days, and that next week is a short week with a lovely holiday.

Tonight we're going out to dinner with good friends, and Google has me pretty well convinced that the restaurant we're planning to go to is closed. So it looks like we'll be having an adventure this evening!

What are your tricks to defeat a week like that? How do you handle stress at work?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A list for Thursday

I've been knitting like a maniac on a sweater for my husband, because I've decided that if I can finish the sweater by Thanksgiving, I can knit the pair of socks he's requested by Christmas. Never mind that I have a week to do most of both sleeves, all the blocking, and all the seaming, or that I've never knit a sock before, or that he has size 13 feet. If I believe, anything can happen, right??

So here's a list of books that I currently have checked out of the library, which will be languishing in neglect for at least another week:
1. My Booky Wook by Russell Brand. Borrowed entirely on the strength of an interview with brand that was surprisingly funny, and which mentioned that he's in two projects with Helen Mirren. Turns out Brand is funny and intelligent. Whether he is a good writer remains to be seen.
2. Classy by Derek Blasberg. I'm a huge fan of etiquette (my bridesmaids wore tea-length dresses because the wedding was before noon) and etiquette books, and this looked like it might be an amusing rehashing or reimagining of etiquette for modern-day issues. From the little I've read, it's also an excuse for the author to name-drop all the famous people he's ever met, ever, in his famous-person-filled life.
3. Knitting 24/7 by Veronik Avery, who is one of my favorite knitwear designers. I have flipped through this book, picked out about a dozen patterns I'd love to start, and added it to my Christmas list. There's no way I'll just be able to check this out whenever I want to: I was ninth in the holds list when I first tried to get it.
4. Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule. I didn't realize this was all sewing patterns, and some of the projects are far too granola-earth-mother-nonsense for me (there are patterns for both cloth diapers and a "women's cloth," which is a reusable, washable pad. Not my style), but the styling and photography are lovely.
5. Greetings from Knit Cafe by Suzan Mischer. Another one added to the Christmas list! I like that it includes little side-note things, like recipes and tips on proper technique, mixed in with the patterns. I must add, though, that I am certain that the world didn't need yet another pattern for a knitted bikini.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

True Life episodes in which I could star

True Life: My Husband Gets Annoyed When I Don't Wear Pants But Leave the Blinds Open
True Life: I'm a Middle Child 
True Life: I'm Not Very Good At Loading the Dishwasher

True Life: I Have a Boring Job But It's Okay, I Guess
True Life: I Pay a Mortgage
True Life: I Am a Female Who Typically Prefers Beer to Wine, As Long As It's Not an IPA
True Life: I'm More Than a Foot Shorter Than My Husband
True Life: I Read Really Fast, But Not Like Speedreaders Or Whatever
True Life: I'm In a Really Happy Marriage
True Life: I Could Stand To Lose Some Weight, But Come On, Who Couldn't?
True Life: I Use My Local Library So Much, I Have My Card Number Memorized
True Life: I Really Like Christmas Movies
True Life: My Dog Keeps Sniffing the Same Spot on the Garage Floor In A Way That Makes Me Suspicious
True Life: I Watched Six Episodes of 30 Rock Online Today

Pretty much just waiting for the call to make one or all of these.

What True Life episodes could you star in?

P.S. Just read the Wikipedia page for this show, and it turns out pretty much any of these could legitimately be a topic. How strange.

Monday, November 15, 2010

If looks could really kill, then my profession would be staring

I'm grumpy today. I guess it's somewhere between the mean reds and a no-good, very bad day, except that my day wasn't really all that bad.

Annoying things that happened today:
1. Someone entered my husband's unlocked car and stole his iPod.
2. A customer responded to my "Ok, it's past the deadline and you haven't responded in four months!" email WITHIN TEN MINUTES to point out a typo and also to send me more materials.
3. I had a long, boring meeting. Maybe 3% of what we talked about applied to me.
4. I was informed that I made the same careless mistake in four places over the last week. Not really a huge deal, but irritating nonetheless.
5. Some jerk on a cellphone cut me off in order to slam on his brakes and then turn into a church. Seriously.
6. It was dark when I left work at 4:42.

Usually, I'd laugh this stuff off (okay, maybe not #1) but today I just stayed grumpy all day. But I've thought up some possible cures:
A. Stay home, eat some of my mom's homemade beef stew, watch a movie, and knit.
B. Go to the mall and window-shop (or actually shop). I am one of a select group of people who actually love the mall when it's full of Christmas hustle and bustle. I'm not kidding, and it's in a completely non-ironic way.
C. Go see The Other Guys, which we didn't see the other night.
D. Talk Andy into going for a walk with the dog, because it's supposed to rain for the rest of the week.

Any thoughts? What about you - do you have a sure-fire way to cheer yourself up?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Awkward and awesome: text messages

Original message from me to three friends: Plans tonight? Cancel them. We're having a bonfire.

Awesome reply from Friend #1: I'm in NYC. Be there in 8 hours. Keep my burger warm.

Reply from Friend #2: What time? I'm going out to dinner and that play I told you about, but I'll call you after.

My very awkward reply: We're going to dinner then lighting shit on fire afterward. Not sure of an exact time but maybe 8ish. Have fun slash see you later.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Five on Friday

I'm looking forward to this evening, as it will involve a trip to a bookstore and a second-run movie (do you all have a second-run theater? I think we're going to see The Other Guys.). It is unusual that we're doing anything on a Friday night. I think, in spite appearances to the contrary, we are in fact homebodies at heart.

For fun, here are five blogs I never miss:
1. Yes and Yes
2. Smaggle Style
3. Not That Kind of Girl
4. Hyperbole and a Half
5. KnittyBlog

Summary: I like funny, well-written blogs, mostly about being awesome in general. I can assure you that I do, in fact, read blogs by dudes, too - it's just that these five blogs always get it right.

Enjoy your Friday night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The only appropriate way to wear clogs

Until about four minutes ago, I was 100% anti-the return of clogs. Now I'm only 99% anti.

Via Kierstendarling, via 24 Free Dinners

First CD purchase in about two years.

Have you all been listening to Cee-Lo Green? His new CD came out yesterday, and it lives up to the hype created by his single "Fuck You." But my new favorite is the oh-so-subtle "Love Gun."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two dilemmas

1. On my lunch break today I ran errands: specifically, I had to get gas and go to the library. On my way to get gas, I passed a truck on the side of the road. About a quarter-mile further, I passed its owner, a 60-something-year-old man, trudging along with a gas can on a busy road, thumb stuck out hopefully.

I didn't stop for him. I still feel awful about this. The poor old guy. And I was literally on my way to a gas station, less than two miles down the road. I did see a cop heading his direction, and the truck wasn't there on my way back to work, so I hope everything worked out fine.

2. Everyone on my "team" at work has a goal of editing ten pages an hour on a good day. Obviously this doesn't always happen. Today I realized that I had already edited 80 pages for the day and still had 42 minutes. Should I have started a new task, raising the bar perhaps uncomfortably high? Or should I have spent the 42 minutes looking at the Talbots Holiday Look Book?

I guess only one of these stories had a happy ending. Since when does Talbots look really awesome? I would wear 70% of the stuff in there.


I've been commenting on other blogs lately more than ever before, and linking them back to this thing, because that's what the internets told me to do if I want people to read this thing.

I don't usually comment because I never feel like my comments will get read by the person who posted, or nothing I say is going to make any difference, or I'm too shy (which, if you know me in real life, is a giant joke). So I commented on a post over at Design Mom today, and GABRIELLE COMMENTED BACK AND USED MY NAME.

I know this is the most ridiculous post in the world, but for four seconds, someone famous read something I wrote and responded to it, nicely.

If you want to see it, I'm Commenter No. 2.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why I stay inside on Halloween

Husband: I'm surprised you want a bedskirt so much. [Pause] Don't you know that'll hide the boogeyman?

Me: Psh. You're assuming I'd be brave enough to look under the bed, ever, instead of jumping in from several feet away. So I guess the joke's on you, isn't it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

"I know it's not Hoover Dam. The Puritans made that."

I just saw Due Date, and let me tell you, I have so much to learn about being awkward.

I wonder if Zach Galifianakis is taking apprentices.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hello there, weekend!

Pretty psyched about this evening: going to an awesome Mexican restaurant with my best friend, who is home from Boston, and my husband while my car - a super-sweet, no-power-anything 2002 Corolla - gets its windows tinted. So I can roll up on thirteens with some super-dark tint, blasting soft rock classics like "Tiny Dancer." Impresses the hell out of other drivers at red lights.

This'll make my cassette deck a little more gangster, no?

Well, probably not, but it does make it a little less obvious when I pick my nose while I'm driving.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pro tip for bakers

Don't grind up whole cloves in your mortar and pestle unless you want your kitchen to smell like Lilith Fair for several hours.

Things I am good at and also not so good at.

Things I am good at:
Eating more junk food than is appropriate
Telling long stories that sometimes have a point, but mostly don't
Memorizing chunks of  movie dialogue the first time I see a movie
Hanging out with kids - seriously, any gathering where there are children, they will find me and be ready to hang out within four minutes of my arrival.

Things I am not so good at:
Giving a shit if my lawn is 90% covered in leaves
Eating a balanced diet for more than three days in a row
Remembering that I've already told you that story. Twice. Since yesterday.

It's rainy outside, so my evening will be spent knitting and baking pumpkin-chocolate-chip cookies and watching Season 5 of The Office on DVD, instead of using a snow shovel to clear up some of the leaves in my backyard like I did yesterday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween highlights.

My husband's family gets really, really into Halloween. I don't. Neither does my father-in-law, Rodger, so instead of helping create a haunted house in the garage, I stayed inside. With Rodger. Here are my observations, as recorded by a series of real-time text messages I sent to my sister.
5:14. I've decided not to spend Halloween outdoors in the 40° weather, which means I'm spending it indoors with Rodger instead. New low: he just tried to talk to me from the bathroom. Important message that couldn't wait fifty seconds: There's some pumpkin pie by the stove there. It's pretty good.
5:25. He just literally tossed my birthday card at me.
5:30. He is eating chili in his recliner in the living room, and has newspaper spread across his lap. For the spills. It's like watching grandpa eat towards the end.
5:33. It is barely five thirty and he has already suggested twice that I can help myself to chili. He was very surprised when I suggested that people might not be hungry yet.
6:07. Reassuring fact: Rodger firmly believes that second-hand smoke is "a real thing".
6:35. Laughing out loud at [a text from my sister]. Which is convenient, as it downs out Rodger's "List of foods and drinks you can help yourself to". This is recitation number six.
6:43. And for the third time, he is listing all the recent vehicular deaths in the area, with speculation as to cause and/or the involvement of alcohol.
7:34. Rodger is now explaining to me how Rochester used to be a mini-Manhattan. I am fairly sure he's never seen Manhattan.
7:47. He just told me the dog, who is sleeping, knows we're talking about him (we weren't), then asked him if he did. The dog, obviously, said nothing.
8:26. Just treated to a second description of some big house he delivered to, including wild guesses as to cost and full description of the multiple garages. Theorized cost of a big house in [small upstate town]: "At least four million."
8:37. Now he's explaining how it's not worth "all the mess" to have Thanksgiving when the kids aren't home, but that Kathy wants to so he lets her have her way.
8:50. Kathy told him to "shove it" when he wouldn't stop talking about how much of a hassle Thanksgiving is. Very awkward for the six other people in the room.
9:29. Rodger: You should take that costume of the dog. You're taking away his manhood. Katie [Andy's little sister, who flew home for Halloween], loudly: You were in here watching figure skating! You can't talk about manhood. [Note: did not tell either of them that "manhood" often refers to anatomy.]
10:04. Home. THANK GOD.