Monday, January 31, 2011

Quick post because I'm an exciting lady.

Delicious-looking picture via
I went to work early, left early, went to the bank, went to the garage where my poor car is resting, and in three minutes we're off to dinner with some friends. Without knowing we already had a corned beef feast this week, they offered us a second one - how could we say no?

Also, I thought you should know that I'm in the process of pioneering a new look: sweaters over sweaters. It's inspired by the early settlers of this country and the fact that my office is fucking cold. Look for it on the runways next fall.

To make up for this being a short post, here's a present: Hyperbole and a Half. If you don't already read this, go do so. You'll spend a few hours reading all the archives, at least. Just do yourself a favor and don't try to read them on the sly in a quiet office, because the snorting gets really obvious pretty quickly. And the more you try to squash the guffaws, the more you sound like you're birthing a water buffalo in your cubicle. Or maybe that's just me.

What busy and important things are you up to?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On why I hate driving stick

Or, In which I sound conceited and maybe sort of bitchy

I had my first lesson in how to drive a standard yesterday. When I first started driving, I learned on a standard, but then haven't driven one in eight years. But now my lovely little car is gone and Andy's truck is a manual, so it's time for me to relearn. It doesn't hurt that it's one of my goals for the year, either.

Here's why I really don't like driving stick: I'M NOT GOOD AT IT. I know that this applies to pretty much anyone who doesn't know how, but the thing is, I'm usually pretty good at whatever I try to do. I know my strengths, and I tend to stick to them. I'm an educated, intelligent person, so I can usually figure new stuff out pretty well. But I'm not great at physical/spatial stuff, so learning standard is like asking me to learn Irish dancing in a few hours. I can get the car to start moving from a stop maybe an eighth of the time, but it feels like I'm doing the same thing both when I'm successful and when I'm unsuccessful. I can't just feel it a few times and then know what I'm doing right or wrong.

I also don't typically stick to doing stuff I'm not good at. I can do easy-level sudoku, but I can't do the really hard ones, so I don't bother trying. But with this, I have to stick with it, and I have to keep failing, over and over again. I really hate it every single time I stall the car out, but I can't just be like, okay, tell me the secret, and I'll get it right every time. It's something I have to learn slowly and painfully.

Add to this the complicated emotional issues that came with learning it the first time from my mom. My mom is a lovely lady, and a lot of fun to hang out with, but I have no idea what made my parents decide she should be the one to teach us to drive. Often she would wait till the last second to give an instruction, then yell it, so the whole time I was behind the wheel I felt nervous, waiting for Andy to yell something, even though he's not that kind of communicator. The only huge, blow-up, multiday fight I got in with my mother was a direct result of her teaching me to drive. So I hate feeling like every time I stall the car (which was a lot, you guys), I failed a little more, and I feel anxious on top of it because of bad memories.

But! I'm smart and I'm strong and I'm going to get the hang of it! We're going back out later for another lesson, and I'm hoping that by the end of the week, with a few more practice sessions, I'll be good to go.

Can you drive a standard? Who taught you? Please share any secrets you may have that will lead to my success.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On making it up as you go

Picture via
I spent last evening knitting with some friends. One of these friends in particular is a fairly ambitious but relatively new knitter. She also is one of the most interesting, dynamic people I've ever met, so it doesn't surprise me that she's not interested in starting with a garter stitch scarf. She knit one of those big enough for a doll, announced that she knew the basics, and demanded to be taught the next step. When I'm not around and she decides she wants to move on, she spends hours on YouTube watching tutorials, trying, ripping out, and trying again. She has decided she needs a pair of wristwarmers, but most of the patterns out there are too advanced for her, so she figured she'd just knit some and figure it out as she went.

WHAT? I totally love this about her. She is fearless. She has just about finished her first wristwarmer, including a somewhat-improvised thumb gusset that she sort of made up as she went along. (For those of you who don't knit or crochet or sew or whatever, thumb gussets are the sort of thing that scare people away from knitting mittens for a long time.)

There are a group of people out there, crafters who don't follow patterns and who feel that trying to follow a pattern restricts one's creativity. Sometimes this results in really bizarre things that you might see while tripping on acid (I'm not even trying to be mean here - Google-search "freeform knitting" and you will see what I mean), but every once in a while you'll find something so stunning that of course it was made up on the spot by a brilliant, inspired mind. That's pretty much happening with my friend's wristwarmers. They're stunning.

I am the kind of knitter who follows a pattern (even if it's one I made up) 96% of the time. I always have an idea what the end result will look like before I even pick up my needles.

This girl is four years my junior, but I want to be like her when I grow up.

Who is inspiring you lately? What lessons are you absorbing?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What it's like to be me today

Hello, beautiful
Here's what's going on in my head right now:

The insurance company has decided that my car is totaled. This means that the whole process is going to take longer than the week or so we planned for. We have to find out exactly why they totaled it, because if there's nothing structurally wrong with the car we'll probably buy it back from them and get it fixed. Either way, we decided it's smarter to stop paying for the rental I've been using all week, so it looks like this weekend will be spent learning to drive standard. That way I can drop Andy off at work and pick him up (he works longer days than I do) or, if I'm not confident enough to face rush hour on the highway yet, he can drop me off and pick me up, and I can work four ten-hour days next week. Hassle.

I need a haircut. And some dye. I dyed it black for Halloween but don't want to commit to black hair full time, so I've been rocking several inches of brownish roots for a while now. I can't decide what I want to do with it right now, but this website will make deciding really easy or a lot harder.

Thursdays have become Knitting Night for me and some friends. Tonight we're taking a field trip to the other side of the city so I can get more lovely, lovely Baby Alpaca Grande, which is pictured above. I'm halfway done with a gorgeous seed-stitch cowl in the softest coral yarn ever (that's it second from the right in the picture). I'll try to post a picture of the finished thing, because I made up the pattern because I'm a badass knitter like that.

I'm hungry.

What's it like to be you today?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Jamaica

Pretty image via
I realized after I posted yesterday that I haven't shared anything else about my trip to Jamaica with you dudes. If you get the chance, you should go there. Here are a few reasons why:
  • They give you rum. Lots and lots of rum.
  • You can win even more rum. It's given out as a prize.
  • I may be misremembering, but I think the winner of the kid's volleyball tournament got rum.
  • The entertainment provided by the resort was terrifically bad. 
    • The first night we went to the show (the second night there) was the all-Jamaican cast's rendition of scenes from Grease. The guy playing Danny Zuko had a very limited command of a) his lines and b) English.
    • They had a Lavar Burton look-alike MCing everything.
    • They had a dance contest one night. An eight-year-old girl performed a dance called the dirty wine. Lavar told her, "You need Jesus."
  • If it rained, we went inside and watched part of National Treasure, which was always on tv.
  • I won some rum. And they gave us two bottles of rum in our room, with a coconut with the top lopped off, for being newlyweds.
  • The food was pretty good for being buffet-style. Andy particularly liked that there was a jerk chicken hut on the beach. I particularly liked that there was a bar on the beach.
  • We didn't know the names of any of the staff, so we nicknamed them. We were particularly fond of Sideburns, Bossy, and Crazy Thumbs Murphy.
  •  There was enough to do at or through the resort that we didn't feel weird about not leaving much. We went parasailing and snorkeling and on a sunset cruise thing, which involved a pirate hideout which is now a bar.
In the interest of full disclosure, I can tell you that the good people of RIU resorts do not know who I am, and that we paid them a lot of money to hang out there and drink their rum. I'll also add that Andy has an aunt who's a travel agent, so we could afford a decent trip.

Have you ever been to Jamaica? Was it awesome? If not, where else have you been that you think I'd like?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On travel

Where we stayed; image via
Andy and I got married in July of 2008. We honeymooned for a week in Jamaica, which was awesome. And since I have nothing to talk about today (to type about?), I'm going to share the oh-so-charming story of the first day of our honeymoon. Don't worry, it's not any weird sex story or anything. Promise.

Our flight left somewhere around 6 in the morning. Which meant getting to the airport around 4:30. Which meant waking up at 4. Which is not so good for me. I have two possible emotions upon waking: confusion or rage. Thankfully, that morning, my body went with "confusion," and we were both totally packed so we got out the door without much incident.

In the airport, Andy's bag set off one of the detectors, necessitating a search by hand. The offending item: a full-size tube of sunscreen, grabbed at the last second by Andy in a thoughtful moment. He knows I burn easily and saw the sunscreen sitting on the shelf in the bathroom, so he assumed I had forgotten it. (He didn't know I had two different kinds of sunscreen in my packed luggage.) Because it was still before five in the morning, I stared at him, incredulous, and demanded to know why he had packed more than three ounces of liquid in his carry-on. He paused, and said, "Well, I didn't memorize the TSA guidelines like you did, and I didn't want you to burn." So then I felt like an asshole for a while.

The flights were fine, customs was a pain, someone on the shuttle to the resort stole my glasses. I am not kidding. Apparently health care in Jamaica is really expensive so there's a big market for stuff like that. (Don't worry, I had my contacts.)

When we arrived at the resort, the room wasn't ready yet. We left our stuff in a locked room, changed into suits, and headed for the beach. On the way we stopped by the waterfront bar. Many bartenders at all-inclusive resorts are coached to pour lightly; I can assure you that if such a direction was given to our bartenders, they roundly ignored it. I spent my first three hours at the resort drinking a lot of rum and laying in the sun.

Once they notified us that our room was ready, we moved our stuff and decided to take a nap in the nice, cool sheets. We were, by four in the afternoon, drunk enough that we didn't even want to use the bed for other purposes. We just wanted a nap.

When I woke up, I had that awful, groggy, hungover feeling that comes from too much sun and rum and sleeping. I had napped for over two hours. I felt terrible. We decided to go see if dinner would help settle my stomach. We were on our honeymoon! I couldn't feel crappy!

Dinner was fine, except our seat: we were directly under a ceiling fan, which was directly under a light. Which meant the whole table was treated to a strobe-light effect. Ever feel hungover and nauseous and then sit under a strobe light?

Which is how I spent the first night of my honeymoon puking over a fence into the bushes outside the dining room, then going to bed at eight. I win at romance.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Imagine this sweater but with a plain front, no buttons, no belt.
I'm going to let you in on a secret. The sweater I'm wearing today (see above) is usually worn as a bathrobe-type thing. It's from L.L. Bean, approximately eight years old, it's enormous and kind of shapeless and 100% wool, and I've used it so much around the house that until last night it was covered in pills.

But it's FREAKING COLD here right now, so while we watched a movie yesterday I de-pilled it, and threw it on this morning over some jeggings and two shirts. You do what you have to to stay warm. Plus, it actually looks pretty cute. I'm kind of sad that this is maybe the third time I've worn this thing out of the house.

So tonight we're going to eat leftover corned beef and all the fixings - because I made a freaking amazing dinner yesterday - and watch movies and curl up on the couch. Did you know that a dog makes an even better blanket than a blanket does?

What are you doing to keep warm? If it's not icy where you are, please send me warm thoughts!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Late post, but with good reason.

That's my car.
Sooooooooo we were supposed to go out for Mexican food yesterday. Instead, we got in an accident (everyone was fine) and spent three hours in a crappy restaurant waiting for 1) the cops, 2) the tow truck, and 3) our friends, who we insisted get dinner and stuff first, to fucking come get us already.

We were across the city from our usual hangouts, so we were looking for the street names (in a really poorly marked intersection, I MIGHT ADD) and the car in front of us stopped short to turn left. Andy tried to stop (couldn't go around her, as there were cars in all the other lanes), but hit slush/ice and slid into her. There was almost no damage to her car (like, a scratch on her bumper) but that's an actual picture of my car up there.

And I don't know if this is a thing, but please don't blow up the picture, find my VIN, and use it to somehow steal my identity.

It's pretty awesome that no one was hurt - not so much as a scratch on anyone - and we have collision insurance on that bad boy, so it could have been so, so much worse. But I'm still without a car for a few days, so to cheer myself up I spent my day baking cookies (don't bother with any other recipe) and watching movies with my friends. Then tonight we're going to try to go out for Mexican again. Wish us luck!

Friday, January 21, 2011

When donuts go wrong

Yo, it's hard to find a picture of the right kind of donut online. This will have to do.

Today didn't start out so awesome. I was running late (Note: I'm almost always running late or just-barely-on-time in the mornings. I hate mornings so much.) and didn't have time for breakfast at home, so I swung through Dunkin Donuts for a Manager's Special and a black coffee. For those of you not in the know, "Manager's Special" is Dunkin-speak for a cream-filled donut with chocolate stuff on top, and usually sprinkles (which I flick off, because sprinkles are weird and get stuck in my teeth).

Now, for some reason, the morning manager there hates me. She has made this quite clear, although I seriously have never given her any reason; in fact, I make sure to be extra careful about politeness in the mornings, because surliness is my default state. This woman - her name is Rose - does things like take care of the four people in line ahead of me, then decide to switch out all the coffee and make fresh as soon as I reach the counter, even if there's no one in line behind me. Or she walks away from the counter to check on cups or something when I'm the only person in the store. Things like that. The only time she's ever smiled at me (she smiles at other people all the time) was when she got to tell me they were out of the kind of donut I wanted.

So Rose and I have a history, but usually things work out okay and I get my coffee and my donut and move along. Today I went through the drive-through, ordered my shit, and went to work. When I eventually got around to eating the donut, as I went in for that first awesome bite, I realized that bitch Rose had snuck me a custard-filled instead of a cream-filled. I hate custard-filled donuts. Hate them. They are at the very bottom of my "list of donuts in order of delicousness." After breaking the donut in half to confirm my suspicions, I emailed some work friends who were already there to see if they wanted the monstrosity. Of course, because custard is gross, none of them did.

So I left it on the desk of a coworker who wasn't there yet, with this note: "You missed the story about why I won't eat this donut, but anyway, I guess it's yours now. Enjoy. From [work nickname]."

That made me feel better.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On not really bragging

I was thinking about my post the other day, which really wasn't bragging. I've lost somewhere in the neighborhood of eight pounds in the last, like, three months. Not exactly a huge accomplishment, right? But the title of the post stuck with me: what else would be an appropriate non-bragging end to that sentence? So  I spent today developing a list of great phrases that a normal person wouldn't brag about. Feel free to sprinkle these into your conversations:

I don't mean to brag, but...
  • I'm really good at picking my nose.
  • I've been potty-trained since the age of five.
  • I make a really good Hamburger Helper.
  • I got out a little early for good behavior.
  • As a senior in high school, I was captain of the JV Bowling team.
  • I've gone four days without showering.
  • I own nineteen cats.
  • Odor-Eaters don't touch my foot odors.
  • I can do basic addition and subtraction.
  • I drive better drunk.
  • I can fit all of my clothes into dresser drawers and closet space.
  • I lead a really intense intervention.
  • I've seen every episode of Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.
  • I own a watch.
  • I can run a ten-minute mile.
  • I'm working on a tattoo sleeve dedicated to great cartoons of the 1980s.
I could pretty much go on forever. (Note: the first one is true.)

What aren't you bragging about? Please add to the list!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On sending food back

Our food didn't look this good
So I'm curious about how other people handle this shit. Andy and I went out to dinner with some friends of ours tonight, and we ended up sending back our whole platter of sushi. This makes the third time in my life I've sent back food, and I feel conflicted about it.

The reason we sent it back was that two of our three rolls had hair on them. With my hamachi maki, the hair was just on the top, which is gross but not the end of the world - it could have happened on the way to our table or whatever. But Andy's BBT roll had one under the barbecue sauce, caught just in time by the friend we were dining with. So back the whole thing went. And when it came back, they had apparently remade the eel roll with recently-cooked eel, because it was warm. Turns out warm sushi is not awesome. But we didn't send it back a second time, because we didn't want to be jerks.

The first time I sent something back was when I ordered tiramisu (which is pretty much my fave) and got what was clearly the end of a pan, scraped into a heap and covered with some more cocoa powder. Awful. The second was about a year ago, right after I started eating beef again after a ten-year break, and I ordered a filet medium-well and it came out pretty close to rare. The idea of eating something that was still bleeding was not sitting well with me, so I had them toss it back on the grill for a while.

Now, I know there are plenty of people who send stuff back all the time. These people say things like, "You're paying for the service! You're paying them to make things the way you like (and without hair)!" And there are people who seriously wouldn't think twice about keeping something that wasn't perfect - of course it gets sent back! But for some reason I always feel like I'm being really inconsiderate whenever I have something sent back. Or even sometimes if I have to bug the waiter for something like another glass of water. Like they don't have enough to worry about, and making shitty wages to boot, and I can't shut up about the glass of water, or something.

What say you, blog world? Do you send food back? Do you feel guilty when you do it? I can't be the only one out there who's weird about this stuff.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I don't mean to brag, but...

Thinking about ordering one of these

...depending where on the bathroom floor I place the scale, I have lost between five and ten pounds.

Obviously, I am certain the tile that makes me lightest is the right one.

I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad. On the contrary, I'm inviting you to laugh at me. Here's how that goes:

I've lost the weight by modifying portion sizes. Over the last three years, somehow, Andy and I started serving us equal portions of food. I don't need as much food as he does, as he's more than a foot taller than me, so naturally this didn't work out so hot for me. In addition to being more active, I've trained myself to eat reasonable portions for someone who's five feet tall. In part I did this by reading portion sizes, but mostly I did it by thinking about the fact that the adult human stomach is roughly the size of a closed fist, and can comfortably expand to hold 1.5 liters. So my goal was to not put more than that in there. It's working okay, as evidenced by my loss of five to ten pounds.

The problem, and the part where you get to laugh at me, is that when I eat more than I'm used to eating now, I feel crappy for, like, three hours until I digest some of it.  So I hung out with a friend today and had a frozen blended drink thing from Gloria Jean's, which was delicious, then our menfolk joined us and we all got dinner, and I ate more than I usually do. So now I'm uncomfortable and have indigestion because I overate. Not awesome.

This post is a decent example of how un-exciting my daily life is.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scorecard: Monday

Not-really-relevant picture via

Good things:
+ Got up ten minutes early (read: on time instead of hitting snooze twice), so I had time for an everything bagel with cream cheese and a glass of orange juice for breakfast (typical breakfast is cereal if I have time, or a donut if I don't).
+ Instead of coffee, brought some fucking awesome homemade chai to work.
+ It was too cold to dress like a normal human being, so I'm wearing a ridiculous wool sweater. It's one of those sweaters knit somewhere like the Andes by some indigenous people, and it features whales apparently drawn by people with a very limited knowledge of aquatic life. The artist seems to have though that whales expel air bubbles (or smoke?) like cartoon trains do.
+ My work best friend left an excellent chocolate bar on my desk before I got in.
+ Several people took today off, so my usual Monday meeting was cancelled.
+ Date night (events TBA) with Andy tonight!

Not-as-good things:
- I had to work on a legal holiday. Again. Still getting used to being at work when banks and libraries are closed.
- I used Andy's travel mug for my chai (my travel mug is FOR BLACK COFFEE ONLY), and right towards the end of my delicious drink, some weird particle ended up in my mouth. Most likely it was just orange zest, but Andy is slightly less fanatical than I am about cleanliness, so I spent the morning imagining the normal digestion sounds coming from my abdomen were food poisoning and imminent vomit. 

How is your day measuring up? Did you have to work? 

P.S. You can use "Imminent Vomit" for a band name if you want.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I hate it when that happens.

So I went to the public market this morning, by myself because Andy was doing something fancy to his mom's car. I loaded up my reusable shopping bag with all sorts of awesome produce, and I had an empanada, and I headed home to work on some of that stuff I wanted to get done today.

On the way home, I hit a bump (not even a big one!) and my goddamn muffler fell off. The bracket or whatever that holds it on snapped, and when it fell it twisted funny and cracked the seal where it connects up near the engine. I was about three miles from home and it seemed to drag less when I went faster, so I decided to try to make it home.

Then I got pulled over by a cop, who was quite nice about it but told me I couldn't drive the car like that. So I called AAA, then sat on the side of the road for a fucking hour in 19° weather waiting for the tow truck (without the car running, because of the cracked seal that made me pretty sure my car was filling with exhaust and I was going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning). Then we dropped the car off and Andy and I spent six hours in strip-mall heaven waiting for the car guys to charge us $430.

 I did read through all the posts in my Google reader, though. Glad I've got a smartphone. My fingers were numb by the end of it.

Brb, drinking all the beers in the world.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hooray for weekends!

Photograph by Igor Sinitsyn
Yay! Another weekend! I have from now until Sunday night to accomplish the following tasks:

1. Make this amazing spiced chai concentrate. Really. That's its name. I need to get cardamom and star anise  and then I am good to go. I loved chai so much!
2. Find out the name of the stain our friend used on the dresser she refinished for us. We are one step closer to having new bedroom furniture (see Numbers 2 and 3), in that we have a new-to-us sleigh bedframe and two nightstands in the garage, waiting for us to get the right color!
3. Waterproof my new boots to make them more wearable in upstate New York winters. Correction: ask Andy to waterproof them for me.
4. Read through Brave New Knits and decide what to make next. After I rip out the wrap I'm making and start over without the yarn doubled, and after my tennis elbow dies down. In the three weeks before it has to be back at the library. Totally reasonable.
5. Make and eat some delicious pancakes.
6. Spend, like, two hours reading through the thirty-nine entries in my Google Reader (I just started following some new blogs, so I have to see if they're worth staying subscribed to!).
7. Spend the Gap/Old Navy gift card I got for Christmas.

I know it seems grueling, but I think I'm up to it!

What are your big plans? Anyone else make a list of things to accomplish this weekend?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Assorted thoughts for Thursday

Instead of a long, maybe-coherent post, here are some things that have been on my mind today:

  1. We keep the dog's food in the same cupboard where we keep paper bags, which we fill with recyclables. Every time I open the door to get out a bag, the dog gets psyched. I pretend he's really into nature and the earth and shit, and is all, "Yeah! Recycling!"
  2. These arrived on my doorstep today. Looks like I'll be wearing my new jeggings soon!
  3. I'm eating leftover guacamole (oh, did I forget to tell you I make the best guacamole in the world? Not bragging - just facts), but we only had the shattered remains of a bag of tortilla chips to eat it with. Soon I will abandon the chips-as-vehicle and use a spoon, dipping it first into the guac and then into the chip crumbs, like you do with mashed potatoes and corn.
  4. Each week my local newspaper publishes the names of babies born in area hospitals. To help inspire the Kid and Brian, I've been reading this section and highlighting some great choices for them to consider. This week's favorites include:
    • Da'Mark
    • Jaycub
    • MicKaylah Jewelle
    • Haze
    • Nik'Kole
    • Antwan De'Antoney (I especially like that this is two versions of the same name)
    •  For twins: Lamari Bra'janique and Lamar Bry'Shon
    • Jo'nalys
    • Shawnbrielle Elegence
    • A'Mari Janae'
    • Kyn'lee
4B. Now, I love the idea of a unique name, but I absolutely hate the idea of misspelling your kid's name. Like Jaycub up there. Poor kid will never have his name spelled right on the first try, and it makes his parents look illiterate. Similarly, it's rare that an apostrophe belongs in a name. There are a very few examples - I knew a kid named Jamez, pronounced "JAH-mezzzzz," and an apostrophe might have helped there (maybe not) - but usually it is just another thing to be messed up by anyone trying to spell the name FOREVER. Oh, and in Janae' up there, I think the parents thought an apostrophe is the same thing as an accent-aigu (é).

...That's all I got, y'all. Not an exciting day, really.

Thoughts on "unique" spellings/weird names? Examples of real-life people you have met with bizarre names or spellings? Please share!

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    It's snowing.

    If you live on the East Coast, you'll already know that. We have a plow service (it's been Andy's dad's Christmas present for us for the last two years) but this year the guy decides not to show up sometimes. Like today. When we got six inches of snow after I left for work.

    BUT I am dealing with this in a healthy way: I have chicken defrosting to make fajitas, I'm going to drink a few beers, and Andy and I are having a movie night. We borrowed In Bruges and The Professional from friends, and we got Dinner for Schmucks from Blockbuster, so I'd say we're all set.

    I hope it snows all goddamn night and I get a snowday from work tomorrow. Miss that, for real. Snowdays are the best.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    On stuff

    Tidy home office, nothing like my own, via

    I just opened the mail and it got me thinking. I need to figure out a way for us to keep our mail under control.

    Now, I am by no means a Type-A, super-organized lady. The two exceptions to this:
    • My library. I can tell you exactly where any book is at any given time. Andy once moved a book, told me he moved a book, and then watched with amazement as I scanned the shelves, found it, and reshelved it correctly. (Oh, and I counted the other day: I own somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 books.)
    • At work. I know where things belong and that's where they go, and I know what order I do things in and that's how they'll get done. Otherwise I'm worried I'll lose something important (like, you know, a law), or forget to do something important, and the world will end and I'll get fired.
    I've always considered myself more of a piler than a filer, but my dedication to sites like Unclutterer and my discomfort with the state of my office at home seems to indicate a shift. The biggest source of my stuff-related stress is paperwork. We don't have a "staging area" to put stuff until it gets handled, so it gets left on the counter or table until we take care of it. I have a filing system for my financial paperwork, but most other stuff gets tossed on the desk in the office indefinitely.

    I'm thinking of getting some of these desk trays for an open spot on the kitchen counter to corral shit-in-process, but I'm at a loss on how to sort all the weird stuff in the office. There's stuff from my college(s), Andy's college(s), paperwork on a car we sold a month ago, and so much more.

    How the hell do you handle your paper? How do you decide what goes where and what to keep?

    Monday, January 10, 2011


    I applied for a job in New York City yesterday. This confused Andy, as we both know we don't want to live in New York City. But with my recent work-related malaise, I've decided to get some resumes out there, and there really isn't anything in my city, so why not start big?

    My plan through high school and most of college was to stay kind-of-near where I grew up, get my Bachelor's degree here, then move to Boston for grad school and whatever came next. But then I met Andy, and we dated, then I got offered a teaching job here (they actually called me for an interview before I even submitted an application), then we got engaged, and then we bought a house. Note that nowhere in there does it say "then I/we moved to Boston." Because I didn't. And I really like my life here, but I never imagined I'd spend forever twenty minutes from the town I grew up in. (Note: the jobs I'm looking for aren't really available in Boston right now either. I've been looking.)

    On the other hand, there's Andy. He is not the kind of guy who likes to disrupt the status quo. He lived with his folks until we bought our house; he spent years working at a terrible job because the known evil was better than the unknown-evil-plus-$1-an-hour-more. Neither of us are super psyched about our jobs every day, but also neither of us hate them, so why change? He also is close to his mom (have I mentioned his dad's not exactly helpful?) and still does a lot of handyman-type stuff for them that they couldn't really afford to pay someone else to do, so he feels a lot of responsibility that I think is not his to bear.

    I think what we have is an opportunity to see what else we could be doing and where else we could be doing it; Andy thinks we have a lot tying us here. Both of us are right, I guess. Help give me some perspective here:

    Did you grow up and move away? Do you live down the street from the house you grew up in? What is the best and worst thing about your choice?

    P.S. This post makes my husband sound kind of loser-y. Like Dante from Clerks or something. Please know that his preference to stay where he knows the scene and everything does not mean that he is Dante from Clerks. Because he really isn't.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Grabby hands

    Because I'm not interested in thinking right now (thanks, hangover!), here is a list of shit that I am interested in owning, particularly SOON.

    1. The Fisticup. How much more badass would I look in my department meetings if my mug were also a weapon? Andy and I both almost got this for the other for Christmas.

    2. Knitting 24/7 by Veronik Avery. I've mentioned this before, asked for it for Christmas, and am going to end up buying it for myself.

    3. Target's faux-Frye Katherine boots in black. I've worn my brown ones until the heels wore down, I love them so much. But the brown ones do not go with my black jeggings (yes, I have a pair of jeggings; no, black and brown do not match, thank you very much), so this is a perfect excuse to get a new pair of boots!

    4. A fucking feather mohawk. I'm planning to go to a couple of shows this month - some bands I really like are playing in my city - and I would seriously love to wear this thing. Also, I haven't showered yet today, so my hair looks a little like this right now.

    5. Bones, Season Three (and Four!). I got Seasons One, Two, and Five for Christmas. What am I going to watch between Seasons Two and Five??

    Anything you've been lusting after lately?

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Hooray for weekends!

    Gorgeous oil painting by Johanna Logan
    Reasons I'm in a great mood:
     1. I'm feeling much better about work than I was yesterday, probably because I don't have to go there for two days!
    2. I'm very close to crossing off Numbers 2 and 3 on my list of things to do this year! Our good friends are getting rid of their sleigh bed and matching nightstands. We're going over to see if they'll work for our room on Sunday, I hope.
    3. We're going out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with good friends, then seeing a movie - either The Fighter (finally!) or renting a movie with my brother and his wife.
    4. I've been staring at these recipes for cupcakes for hours, trying to decide which one to make first. (I found them through Design Mom, who you know I love, and who found them through Stephmodo.) (Oh, and as a post-script to my love for Gabrielle, she has written sweet email responses to three of my comments since then. What a nice lady.)
    5. I'm really leaning towards the Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting (No. 24) or the Mango Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting and Coconut (No. 9). My mouth is watering about this.
    6. Andy's working tomorrow (boo!) but I'm going to spend the day cleaning (a little), watching Bones, and knitting in short bursts so as to not strain my elbows. And maybe making cupcakes.

    What about you? Good moods as well? Share!

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    In need of an attitude adjustment

    This is a little more realistic.

    I blame my parents and Sesame Street. My whole childhood I was told "You can be anything you want to be!" This statement was kind of true, in that my sights were set pretty low (English teacher? pretty much in the grasp of most literate people), but also was untrue, because "get paid to do nothing but read awesome books of your choosing and then hang out with reasonable people and talk about them" isn't actually a job that exists.

    The last few weeks I've been fighting a sort of job-related malaise. Actually, I've been fighting job-related malaise for a lot longer than that, but I've been thinking about it a lot for the last few weeks. I guess it boils down to the fact that, although I'm using my degree and editing and stuff, my job has nothing to do with my interests. I occasionally get to be passionate about punctuation, but the vast majority of my day is spent on stuff that just doesn't blow my skirt up.

    I think my generation has this idea that we all deserve jobs that make us happy. I feel like we expect to wake up and feel excited about going to work every morning. But in my experience, this is hardly ever the case. I don't hate my job, my boss isn't evil, I make decent money for what I do. I am working hard on being okay with having a job that isn't fun or wild or even particularly interesting, because there are hardly any other jobs out there that would even be this good a fit. Wish me luck on that shit.

    Man, this post is a downer, huh? Do you have a job you love? How do you cope with a job you don't?

    P.S. While it's probably true that most literate people could get certified to teach English, I feel obligated to point out that most people wouldn't have been as awesome a teacher as I was.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    A semi-open letter

    The evil.
    Dear good people of St. Ives,

    I just wanted to write a quick note to tell you how much I love one of your products: the Intensive Healing hand cream. In particular, I have the version shown here, but mine is in English. I have used this stuff for years, always with great results. The smell is nice, but not overpowering, which I love. The formula is rich enough to feel luxurious, but sinks in readily without leaving my hands greasy. I can use it at work, when I have my hands all over papers all day, or even right before knitting without worrying about what it might do to my yarn.

    So as you can imagine, I was pretty happy to find Intensive Healing lotion, which I'd only ever seen in two-ounce containers, for sale in a huge twenty-four-ounce pump bottle! I got this one. I brought it to work, where I had plans to go through it pretty quickly.

    Imagine my dismay when I realized that they are not the same goddamn lotion. The stuff in the big bottle is greasier and goopier and smells, for some reason, exactly like a Red-Hot candy (you know, the gross tiny cinnamon ones that no one actually eats but that your mom uses on her Christmas cookies) instead of like pretty flowers or whatever. So now I'm stuck with a huge bottle of lotion I don't particularly like, and also I'm nervous to buy a new small tube of the stuff, because what if you changed all of it and it's not really two different formulas, it's that I just have some of the last of the good stuff?

    What am I supposed to do now, St. Ives? What the hell am I supposed to do now?


    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Quick post because I'm an exciting lady.

    This is what I'm knitting. Image via
    This is going to be a short one, because I'm an important and busy person. I have a rushed schedule of watching Bones on DVD, working on my first knitting project for myself in months, and getting fancy to go out to a new restaurant (warning: sound!) for dinner with some awesome friends.

    Regarding the restaurant, you'd think that as someone who was a vegetarian for ten years (no joke), I'd appreciate all the vegetarian/vegan options on their menu. But you'd be wrong, because I'm in the top ten picky eaters I know, so I just look at things like buffalo-spiced tempeh and pickled onions and vanilla bean tofu pudding and go, "Oh, that's nasty."

    Also, sometimes I'm sad for you guys that this isn't a fashion blog, because I look awesome today. So, you know, too bad for you, or whatever.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    On camping

    Image via Keewaydin State Park, where we have camped.
    One of my goals for the year is to find a way to enjoy camping. Before I start planning this thing, I'm going to share why I hate camping.

    First, I pay a goddamn mortgage. I pay a lot of money every month in order to NOT have to sleep outside. I don't like being outside that much anyway, so sleeping in dirt near bugs and poisonous plants is not my idea of relaxing.

    Our first camping trip was probably formative in my hating the whole shebang. We got home from our honeymoon, wherein we had pools and maids and beaches and a maitre d' we called Sideburns, spent one night at home, then went to join some friends for a long weekend of camping. In tents. Near rock cliffs. With food in coolers. With no maids, or origami swans made from towels, or Sideburns. Really, camping didn't have a chance.

    The friends we camp with don't really help. The dude is a good friend of Andy's, but neither of us are crazy about his girl. She means well, usually, but she just isn't terribly easy to get along with. On more than one occasion, she has started fights with her fiance - yelling and crying fights - when the four of us were stuck in close quarters, like on a boat or in a car. She has particular ways she likes to do things when camping, which means that she spends large amounts of time bossing people around and acting put-upon because she insists on doing everything that needs doing because only she can do it right.

    I also don't like camping in the Thousand Islands, where we've gone. We always manage to set up our tent in a place that will get full sun starting at 7:00 am, so sleeping late is out. My first experience with snorkeling was in Jamaica, in 30 feet of crystal-clear water above a coral reef, so snorkeling in the cold, polluted St. Lawrence just isn't terribly appealing. There are no actual beaches, just rock cliffs and ledges. There are a lot of gorgeous mansions but they all come with snotty dudes zooming around on jet-skis. It's pretty, sure, but it could be better.

    But Andy really loves camping, and it bums him out when I have a miserable time. We also have lots of friends who swear up and down that they like it, so I assume there must be a way I can do it without hating every second of it. So to be able to cross this thing off for the year, I'm going to think about what it would take to help me like the outdoors. I could spend all day laying on a beach, but only if it's near the ocean, so maybe I'll start looking for sites on the Atlantic. I'll start talking to friends who have proven to be good company for multiple days. I'll start reading up on what makes for an awesome time camping. I'll borrow my parents' big tent (ours is a seven-foot square, with sides that start sloping immediately, which means that my tall husband has to sleep diagonally across the middle of the damn thing). And, possibly most important, I won't mention a word of it to the friends we usually go with.

    Do you camp? Any tips to help me learn to like it? Any readers out there agree that camping's the worst??

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Hello, 2011.

    As I discussed yesterday, we got a lot done around the house yesterday. I'd say the house is 80% tidier than it was when we got up yesterday morning, and the laundry is about 65% done. Because I'm sure you're wondering, we didn't end up going to see Marky Mark looking hot and shirtless, because while we were out to dinner the dog decided to eat 3/4 of a chocolate orange. This resulted in a panicked phone call to the Kid, who said he'd probably be fine (especially after considering that he ate a whole Easter basket one year with no ill effect), but if it made us feel better we could force-feed him a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to make him barf it up. We didn't go that route, but we stayed home and kept a close eye on him. He is 100% fine, but I"m glad we stayed home because I would have worried the whole time we were out.

    Today we made pancakes and bacon for breakfast and are sitting around reading the paper. This afternoon I'm planning to start scouring Craigslist so I can cross off Resolution #3. I really don't care if they match, as long as they're tall enough!

    Tonight we'll probably be going to dinner at Andy's parents' house, which is always a joy. If you want you can suggest new topics of conversation for me to introduce to Rodger.

    How's 2011 treating you so far? Are you going with "two-thousand-eleven" or "twenty-eleven"? (I think I'm a "twenty-eleven" kind of girl.)

    Saturday, January 1, 2011


    I wish I were doing this all day. Image via
    You guys. I got ten hours of sleep last night and I still want to take a nap. My day so far has been a weird mix of doing nothing and getting lots done - I slept till noon, but we also got the Christmas shit taken down and ready to put away. We just sat and watched The Hangover, but also we've done three loads of laundry (only like 20 left!). I haven't actually showered yet, but I vacuumed the living room and reorganized the closet in the office.

    I am planning to get it together and take a shower, so maybe the husband and I can go see my secret boyfriend in his new movie, The Fighter. Or maybe I'll just spend the evening reading magazines and eating cookies. Could go either way at this point.