Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On this heat

  • Nothing.
  • Alternate plans that are acceptable:
    • Eat ice cream. Maybe some potato salad. Drink an iced chai.
    • Give your dogs ice cubes.
    • Sit in the basement in your underwear. (True story: our basement is so much cooler than the rest of the house that we slept down there the first few nights we owned the house, because it was August and the air conditioner wasn't installed yet.)
  • Cook. Anything.
  • Do anything strenuous, like biking or jogging or sexing or watching shows with complicated plotlines.
  • Be outside for more than three minutes in a row.
  • Drink warm beverages.
  • Yardwork.
  • Let any patch of skin remain in contact with any other patch of skin for more than a few seconds (this is best managed by laying like a starfish on a blanket on the basement floor. Bonus points if you moan dramatically while doing it. Double-bonus points if you didn't bother to bring down any of the four loads of laundry you should be doing.)
EFF THIS HEAT. What would you add to either list?

Monday, May 30, 2011

On the outdoors

I am, and always have been, an indoor kid. There is a picture of me at just over a year old, sitting at my grandparents' dining room table, that illustrates pretty clearly my feelings on heat. It's Thanksgiving in the picture, and we had just traveled from already-freezing upstate New York to seventy-degree Virginia for the holiday. I didn't react well to the change, and in the picture everyone around me is clearly having a great time, chatting and laughing, and I'm sitting there, mouth open, looking startled, staring at my mom. Apparently that look stayed on my face most of the trip.

I don't deal well with heat. I get heat exhaustion easier than most, and one of the symptoms is that I don't actually feel all that hot, per se: I just feel really shitty. I feel grumpy, and sticky, and miserable, and my head and stomach probably aren't thrilled with me, but I don't usually feel like it's necessary to take a cold shower or swim or pack myself in ice, when really that's the thing my body needs most.

I've gotten much better about being self-aware with this in recent years. That means that on a day like today, when it was 85°, I did my best to take care of myself even while working on a big project out in the sun.

Here's some shit that helps me keep a handle on heat exhaustion and not confine myself to the indoors.
  • Take breaks when I need to. Andy doesn't seem to notice the heat at all, so this means taking more frequent breaks than he takes. I'm okay with that.
  •  Drink a lot of water. I drank a ton of water but didn't have to pee much - which means I should have been drinking even more.
  • Own the fact that I can be outdoors, and I can be helpful, but I probably can't be cheerful about it. The work needs to get done, and I'll help get it done, but I don't have any energy to spare to pretend that I don't hate every fucking second of it.
  • Keep good supplies on hand. Today, that meant yellow jacket spray. Fuck those guys. Any time one came near me, it got shot in the face with a steady stream of Raid.
  • Make sure I have proper sun protection. The garden I spent most of the day working on gets full sun, and I foolishly left my giant ridiculous sun hat at work. Andy noted that I was looking extra hot and miserable, disappeared for a minute, and came back out with a ladder, umbrella, and bungee cord, which he rigged together to provide me some shade to work in. It was so incredibly sweet of him.
  • Take a shower after sun exposure. I start out at lukewarm,  because diving right into cold is too much of a shock and makes me feel shitty. I usually end up turning the water pretty chilly by the end of it, as my body acclimates.
  • Sometimes I shower again right before bed, if there's still a lot of residual heat happening. It cools me down more and makes it possible for me to fall asleep. Bonus if there are nice clean sheets!
How do you handle the heat? Do you love autumn and winter, or are you one of those "the hotter the better!" kind of crazies? Any tips for those of us who are total heat-sissies?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Holiday weekend yeah yeah

Gardening is the worst, isn't it? I really like flowers and plants, but I really hate having to mess with them. My end goal is that my gardens will be sort of self-sustaining. I don't want to have to water them, much, or weed them, or do extensive pruning sorts of things all the time. So to make that work, we're re-doing our front garden.

When we bought the house, we put in a lilac shoot from the house I grew up in, two small rose of sharon bushes, a bunch of tulip bulbs, and some hens and chicks. We covered all of the bare dirt with a layer of red rubber mulch, so we wouldn't have to re-mulch every year. Since then, the rose of sharon bushes have quadrupled in size, the lilac is much bigger but still looks a little like we stuck a stick in the dirt, and the rubber mulch has mostly sunk into the sandy soil and has done precisely nothing to keep the grass and weeds from taking over.

Today we pulled out the two rose of sharon bushes and sent them over to live in my parents' yard, where they will thrive. I spent several hours (and several fingernails) pulling up as much of the rubber mulch as I could, so we can put it on Craigslist and try to get rid of it. Over the next days and weeks, we are planning to relocate the lilac, lay down landscaping fabric, and add several varieties of native-type flowering perennials that won't require too much maintenance. We're going to get some landscaping stone to border the whole garden thing, so we won't have to spend so much time cutting the grass that always creeps up around the edge (which right now just lines up near the front walk.

I'm going to go relocate the hens and chicks to the backyard (we have this weird gap between the house and the patio that we filled in with flagstone, and the hens and chicks are going to fill in the cracks), then I'm going to take a shower, then probably a nap. Because it's a holiday weekend, damn it.

Are you with me that gardening is the stupidest of chores??

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Two good things and two irritating things.

Today has been an interesting balance. My allergies are acting up hard, helped along by the shifts in weather, leading to a pounding headache and a general sense of stupidity all day. This made it very hard to do more than sit at my desk and stare blankly at the stack of work waiting for me. I also couldn't help checking the clock over and over, and I'm confident that it was 3:19 p.m. for at least fifteen minutes.

Work finally ended, obviously, and on my way home I was tailgated for several minutes by a total douchebag. I watched him in my rearview mirror from the time he swooped in behind me, cutting off the person who had foolishly left more than a car length's distance between us. This douchebag was a king among douchebags, and honked at me twice in the space of a mile. First, I had the audacity to stop at a red light. Even if I had chosen to run the light, traffic was backed up enough that I only would have made it to the opposite side of the intersection. Then, since traffic was so slow anyway, as I crept past a daycare I slowed down a little extra to let a lady out in front of me. King Douche laid on his horn, so I flicked him off in a pretty obvious manner (not my proudest moment, but this headache!). He rolled his eyes, then made a snap decision and pulled into the shoulder and sped past a lane of traffic. I am not proud of thinking that I hoped he crashed and was fine but effectively subdued.

I decided that a little caffeine might help the headache and the cranky, so that brings us to good thing number one: the mocha-coconut frappucino from Starbucks. Have you tried this yet? It was so good! I usually think that mocha frapuccinos are kind of wimpy, not enough coffee or chocolate, but the coconut was lovely. I am one of those people who firmly believes in the glory of chocolate plus coconut. My head feels a teeny bit better, too.

And finally, good thing number two: Tonight Andy and I are going to our first information session on becoming foster parents. I promise I am not going to turn this into a bizarre family-friendly lovefest or anything, but this is something I've wanted to do for a long time, and Andy is finally there with me. Mostly my reason is this: I worked at that shelter for eight years, and a whole lot of the kids I worked with had been in and out of foster care. If I can provide a safe place for one of those kids - who I know to be sweet, loving, funny things - instead of them being sent to some shithole with junkies who pocket the checks, then I feel obligated to do that.

We haven't really told anyone about this whole "maybe being a foster parent" thing yet, because we're so early in the whole thing, but if I can't be excited about shit like this on my own personal blog, where I am mostly anonymous, where can I? If you feel like I'm not cussing enough and talking enough about being hungover or whatever, feel free to let me know.

How is your day? Have you tried that coconut thing? (You should.) Any foster parents or kids out there?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let's make this an official trend.

Here are several more unrelated things, so we can call this "the week where Rachael wrote all disjointed nonsense entries, as opposed to her carefully planned, powerful writing the rest of the time."

Today's post, in a special tribute to "cleaning out my email inbox, which is where I send stuff to myself so I don't forget about it," will be a series of snippets of stuff I have emailed to myself or others.

First: a single-line email to my work best friend, regarding a coworker who is very smug about the way she lives her life. Said coworker does not seem to realize that several of the main tenets in her life scheme outright contradict each other. She also is the kind of human who would get very, very unpleasant if anyone were to suggest this to her. The single line was quite poetic, though: "MY CHOICES DEFINE WHAT I AM AND BY EXCLUSION WHAT YOU ARE NOT. LET ME SHARE THEM WITH YOU AT LENGTH."

Second: a seriously old entry by Mimi Smartypants, whose archives I have been slowly perusing for weeks because I am a creep (I am back in 2004 right now, no joke), in which she describes her aversion to showering. Reproduced here because it captures pretty neatly the inconvenient mess that is actually taking a shower: "I bathe every day, barring an episode of suicidal despair or the occasional housebound Sunday (provided my head does not stink like an ashtray from the night before). But I do not enjoy bathing. Or showering. Many times I have expressed the wish that there was a magical way to be shiny soap-smelling clean without all the nudity, water, and washing. I find it tedious and I would rather not. But I don't like being dirty or smelling bad, so until that magical non-shower is invented it looks like I am screwed. I guess I could develop a heroin problem, since heroin addicts also find showering unpleasant but they are too messed up (on the heroin!) to care what they smell like. I am an expert at finding big, messy, dangerous solutions to tiny problems, as anyone who has ever watched me try to kill a spider or unclog a drain can attest. Maybe I should get a government job."

I agree fully, except the suggestion that nudity is a pain. I would so much rather hang out in my undies - as in, just briefs - than be fully clothed, any day. And the whole not-fully-naked is mostly due to a combination of hygiene (who'd want to sit on the couch after a naked person?) and stubble-itching.

Third, two recipes via V-Neck and a Cardigan, both of which look amazing, and which I emailed myself so I wouldn't forget about them:
Cocoa brownies with browned butter
Funfetti sandwich cookies

Fourth, I am running the new version of Firefox at home and the old one at work, and what the fuck, Firefox? Why did you move the home button way the fuck over there, away from the back-and-forth buttons? And because the little right-click menu is slightly different, I keep opening neat stuff in new windows instead of new tabs, the way God intended. It is mildly irritating! By golly, I intend to do absolutely nothing about it!

So there, internet! I'll be better next week, or something.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Titles are hard when nothing's connected.

1. I went running again. I realize that there are people who do this, every day, on purpose, without making a big deal out of it. I am not yet one of those people. I seriously was such a wimp about it, too. I was out for about twenty minutes, and I'm sure more than half was walking. But! You have to start somewhere, and other positive things!
1a. I am pretty sure the whole "runner's high" thing happens because if it didn't you would straight-up either murder someone or collapse in a sobbing heap. Running is the fucking worst, and it really really sucks right up until that split second where you go, "Oh wait. I could keep going, I guess. Maybe I won't firebomb this whole block after all."

2. Whenever anyone, including me, says "[such-and-such] is the worst," I immediately think, "Worse than genocide?" The answer is always "No, not worse than genocide" Really puts things in perspective: Running is awful, but I don't fear for my life because of the condition of my birth. Sweet potatoes suck, but having to eat them is better than watching all of my loved ones be ethnically cleansed! Coworkers with compromised digestive systems are still preferable to the systematic murder of a people! Be warned, though: If you point this out to someone who is complaining, it will pretty much kill a conversation dead.

3. Something new for me to feel self-conscious about: I cannot draw a reasonable arrow. I always end up blocking them out to make them look more even so you can tell it's actually an arrow and not just a stray mark or evidence of the palsy or something. Isn't this a bizarre thing for me to worry about?

4. My sister-in-law (Andy's younger sister) is recovering from some crappy health issues, so today I mailed her a sudoku book, a crossword book, and the trashiest, most ridiculous (and cheapest) housewife porn I could find at Wal-Mart. I just google-searched to find out if "housewife porn" is the phrase everyone uses to describe romance novels of a certain caliber, and it turns out that no, people in general do not. Turns out also that you maybe shouldn't google that phrase from work. Anyway, I'm hoping the stuff I sent helps her recovery process which is mostly just boring at this point. Also, the novel I got involved a police chief of some sort, but if I had had my wits about me, I would have tried to find one with a male nurse, so as to relate more to her situation.

5. This book looks really awesome. Via A Cup of Jo.

That's all I got! Whatchu got today?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hooray for festival season!

I went to the first of the season's many warm-weather-type festivals on Saturday. I love crowds - I even like Christmas shopping in December - so obviously festivals are a great thing to me. The best part is, I get to feel incredibly smug about the choices I've made in my life while simultaneously judging hundreds of strangers!

We had to park about half a mile away and walk to the festival, which gave us plenty of time to discuss how we're apparently not going to come in first in this years Most Dandelions in Your Front Lawn Contest, and how just because it was finally warm out it doesn't mean you should walk around barefoot in the city, and we played several rounds of What Exactly Is That Smell?

The location of this particular festival is smack-dab in the middle of some seriously-not-good neighborhoods, some gentrified areas, and a whole den of hippie weirdos, so I got to judge strangers to my heart's content. There was the hugely fat white-trash guy in the three-toned pickup truck, wearing what might originally have been a white t-shirt but was now the same shade of beige as his flabby self and also missing its sleeves; more than one girl wearing a halter or strapless dress with a regular bra; a fierce-looking ghetto princess wearing leggings and a midriff-baring shirt (so much skin!); and bunches of granola-loving hippies wearing those ridiculous dip-dyed dresses you can only get at festivals like this one (or apparently on Etsy, of course).

Really, one of my main goals was to get frozen yogurt for the first time this year, but the crowds were insane. The festival lasts ten days, and Saturday was the ninth day and the only day of the nine that it didn't rain, so everyone in the entire city had the same idea I did. This festival takes place in a giant park, so the foot-traffic of hundreds on rain-soaked turf meant there was sticky, stinky, disgusting-lose-your-shoe-in-it mud everywhere. So we bailed on the frozen yogurt and walked half a mile back to the car, then drove to Lugia's ice cream for some of the best ice cream around. These people do not mess around: I got a kiddie cone (two scoops) and couldn't finish it. A small there is three full-size, not-skimpy scoops. I love it.

I think my favorite part of festivals is that glorious conflict between appreciating being a part of a huge joyful mess of people, and being a total misanthrope at the same time.

What's your take on festivals? Do you love them? Hate them? Avoid them at all costs?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On pajamas

What is she wearing?? via
So a few nights ago Andy and I were settled on the couch, watching Spider-Man. This is the sort of thing that occasionally happens in our house, and it's because of Andy that I know how to punctuate Spider-Man properly.

ANYWAY. There's a scene at the end of the first Spider-Man movie where the Green Goblin kidnaps Mary Jane and makes Spider-Man choose between saving her and saving a bunch of school kids, because he is a bad guy. The thing that gets me is that Mary Jane, dangling from a bridge and waiting to be saved, is wearing pajamas, slippers, and a bathrobe. Do people actually wear that stuff??

I asked Andy if he thought the Green Goblin busted into her apartment, told her her doom was imminent, and waited for her to find matching pajamas and a robe and her slippers before setting off into the night. Andy pointed out that most people wear more clothes than I do when I'm home, particularly to bed.

I am not at all abashed: I sleep in my undies. I roll around a lot in my sleep, and I despise the feeling of my clothes getting all twisted up around me. So uncomfortable! I also am always cold, and I believe, as the Eskimos do, that the best way to get warm is to get naked and under a lot of blankets. If I'm sleeping at someone else's house and there's a chance they'll see me before I'm up and dressed, I wear what are basically booty shorts and a t-shirt. I haven't owned a matched set of pajamas in years - I have some flannel pants and stuff, but they're used as loungewear and removed before bed. I sort of forget sometimes that not everyone has the same weird habits as I do, so I was genuinely confused as to why MJ would be wearing full-on jammies with a bathrobe.

I wore a bathrobe this morning, but it was because I had to go outside to get the newspaper and I wasn't wearing a shirt. I kept it on while I ate breakfast because the chair in the kitchen was cold on my legs and the bathrobe took care of that. In my world, a bathrobe is a tool to keep people from seeing your business and to keep you from actually having to get dressed. It also is handy for freaking out Jehovah's Witnesses who come to the door, if you forget to tie it well. I know this from experience.

What say you, internet? Are you pro-pajama, or anti like I am? We could start a "sleep in your undies" club!

Friday, May 20, 2011

On uncomfortable conversations

So I just initiated an awkward and uncomfortable conversation with my husband. Let me tell the internet about it!

About a week and a half ago, my phone was dead so Andy handed me his so I could text his sister. While I was searching in his inbox for her name, I found some texts from a girl I didn't know. This in and of itself is not a problem: Andy has friends I don't know, I haven't met most of his colleagues, and so on. The problem was the text from the girl that said something like, "Keep me in mind if you ever get divorced!" and some small part of my brain went OH WHAT THE FUCK I WILL CUT A BITCH WHO IS SHE. Out loud, I said to my husband, "Who is [whatever her name is]?" in an incredibly calm manner. Totally reasonable answer: she's a coworker of his from a different branch, who had interrogated him about his weekend plans and then responded with much cooing to Andy's answers about our little getaway trip. She did that horrible thing where she asked if he has a brother, he doesn't, she giggled. She asked him about wine, and asked Andy to text her if he found any wines that were (in essence) the equivalent of drinking Kool-Aid in terms of sweetness.

So all of this makes sense, and my husband's response was a polite brush-off, I guess, but ever since then, that teeny little part of my brain has essentially become one of those women on Maury yelling, "AND WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU WERE THREE MINUTES LATE THE OTHER NIGHT? HMMMMMMM? AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT FOUR DOLLARS YOU HAD IN YOUR WALLET ON THURSDAY? WHY YOU GOTTA DO ME LIKE THIS?" It's embarrassing and horrible and I honestly feel guilty about it, because Andy and I don't have secrets, really, and are really and truly happily married. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he isn't cheating on me, and wouldn't cheat on me, and that he would be horrified to know I was even thinking these things.

But he has a much busier weekend than I do: Tonight we're going out for dinner with a friend, then they're dropping me off at home and going together to play in a euchre tournament. Andy's working tomorrow morning, then going to the gym. Sunday morning he's golfing with his boss (tee time is at 7 a.m.! How is that fun??), then Sunday night he has his once-a-month poker game.

And I don't know if it's the fact that it has rained for all of the last eight days, or if it's allergies, or whatever, but I have been a little down this week and every time I think about Andy being out and about without me that same part of my brain goes OH REALLY NOW. And that isn't okay.

So I told him about it. I knew it might hurt his feelings but it seemed better to be honest, even about a bizarre and unfounded and stupid thing, than to keep it inside and just tell myself firmly to shut the fuck up whenever my brain brings it up. Andy, of course, was understanding and sweet and incredibly reassuring, and asked what he could do to help and stuff. I think that telling him about it was a huge step in not being so fucking paranoid about it, even though all the while I know that it absolutely isn't happening, and that now that he knows he will be extra sure about letting me know where he is and stuff.

So that is the probably-boring story about how I confided in my husband about my bizarre paranoia and got some mid-afternoon snuggles out of it. I guess.

I will try to post something that isn't bizarre introspection tomorrow! Really!

Any of you ever get bizarre unfounded suspicions that you know aren't true? Reassure me I'm not going to end up monitoring his emails or anything.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What I've been googling

Things in my recent searches on Google:
  • Revetments
  • Adoption forum (we're considering maybe starting to look into finding out about adoption) (you come across a lot of crazy pretty quickly when you search for this, by the way)
  • $65000 canadian to usd
  • how to buy an island
  • what are oat groats
  • sushi tomago
  • "pete doherty"
  • "this property is within wyoming county"
  • adverbial phrase
  • oregon trail diseases
  • "all traps must be examined and checked"
  • Chicago-style preferred spellings
  • how much is a peck
  • Edward Lear's siblings
  • vectomega
  • "Life is very short and there's no time"
I will leave it to you to guess which of those are work-related and which are not. Also, I don't have $65,000 in either US or Canadian money, but if I did, I could buy an island with it. And oat groats sound kind of good, but also like a lot of work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On personality

Have you ever thought hard about the personality traits that make you who you are? It's an odd experience. For example, I know that I am an extrovert, and that I do significant amounts of processing-of-life-shit externally. For this, I really appreciate having a husband who is also an extrovert (although less extremely so) (I was going to just put "less extreme" but that makes it sound like he wouldn't skydive if given a chance, whereas I'm a sissy baby) and several close friends and relatives with whom I can do that. (FLAWLESS WRITING.)

I have a friend who has an Aunt Katie. At all family parties Aunt Katie is the one telling a long involved story involving disparate things like mud puddles and the title of a friend's car and baking soda and they all seem to end with, "Well, we'll pray about it and see where things end up!" She is always cheerful but oh my god, the woman has the most insane stories that manage to be totally nutso and really boring at the same time.

After the last party where we saw Aunt Katie, I asked Andy flat-out if I'm actually just like her. He paused for a minute, then told me, "Your stories aren't boring. And usually they make sense."

Sometimes I get insecure about how much I talk. I'm not one of those ditzy girls who talks through movies or funerals or anything, and I really do ask a lot of questions about people and life and stuff, but I genuinely enjoy sharing parts of my life with the people around me. I also am (apparently) approachable, as I would say way more than half of my conversations with strangers are started by the stranger. But I still occasionally worry about if I'm coming across as overbearing or a know-it-all or just OH MY GOD RACHAEL SHUT UP ALREADY.

A few weeks ago I asked Andy, on our way to bed after a party (possibly while in a slightly blurry state of mind) if I talked too much. He reminded me that my outgoing-ness is part of what makes me who I am, and he had married me because of who I am. So, really, in retrospect it was sort of a non-answer, but damn, that night I felt reassured. I wonder sometimes about what it would be like to be an introvert, but I try to remember that I don't need to do any weird personality experiments to try to make myself one or anything.

Damn, this post was sort of boring. Sorry about that. A teaser for tomorrow: A list of weird shit I have been googling lately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On luck

Okay, so I had a cheerful little post planned for today. The main factor in this is as follows:

First, on Monday I got an email from Megan at NotMartha, telling me I had won her giveaway of The Wilder Life. No way! I have been using the internet for a long time now and have entered approximately one fuckton of giveaways and this was the first time I have been selected to win anything. Not to mention, the book looks totally awesome and I own copies of the whole Little House series but one (I got it at a yard sale, and one of them is missing and I always forget which when I see other copies for sale cheap).

Then yesterday the book arrived (what? Less than a week later? No way!) with a sweet little note for the marketing manager who worked on it (who, somehow between yesterday and today my brain transformed into the editor) with an invitation to let her know what I think, with her email address and stuff. Cool. (This was cooler when I thought the editor was writing to me, but still. Cool.)

This morning I checked my email before work, and I won Knitty's ridiculously awesome fiber-for-spinning giveaway. I am such a novice at handspinning that I probably can't even appreciate how awesome this is. I will be consulting with my friend's mom who spins and seeing what she can teach me about how to deal with this. I was one of 391 people who tried to win that shit, and I won it within a week of winning something from the internet for the first time in my life. Crazy. The fiber itself is worth almost $100. I can't believe it.

Then Andy was all, "Hey, want to go out to get sushi tonight instead of Friday?" and I was extra-psyched because I didn't have to think about making dinner and I could just get a fucking crawdad bowl (SO GOOD) and some hamachi maki instead! THIS IS WHAT CHARLIE SHEEN THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE MUST HAVE MEANT ABOUT WINNING AT EVERYTHING OR WHATEVER.

So I came home, super cheerful despite my job running a secret study on the long-term effects of severe boredom, and played some awesome raucous indoor fetch with my fetch-challenged dogs. In a move I would really like to be able to blame on the dogs, I somehow managed to hit a framed piece of art with one of those rag dogbone things, knocking said art off the wall, whereupon it bounced off the coffee table and broke apart. It's a cheap reproduction of Starry Night that my parents inexplicably bought Andy for Christmas a year after we started dating, but it worked fine on the wall there and didn't deserve to die. Cool.

Then I went pee and as I was peeing (bathroom talk two days in a row! You guys are the lucky ones, I guess!) I realized my gum was an almost-flavorless nub of hard shit that was starting to hurt my jaw, so as I was zipping up I spit the gum out, aiming for the toilet. I missed. I spit gum onto my bathroom floor, like a heathen or some shit. Sighing dramatically (so the dogs would know I was no longer the happy-go-lucky spirit I had been four minutes before, when I had arrived home), I bent over to pick it up (before flushing, so I didn't get a facefull of pee-mist) and dunked the end of my favorite, it-was-a-present-from-Andy, wear-only-rarely-so-as-not-to-diminish-its-specialness scarf into the fucking pee water. I stood up, gasping, and realized I had just dripped the pee water from the scarf onto my cashmere sweater.

So I hand-washed the sweater and the scarf in the bathtub and while I was doing that, Andy texted me that no, we were going to do the sushi thing on Friday after all because the friend couldn't switch. So I am home, wearing a tanktop in my fucking cold house, hand-washing pee water out of two of my favorite items of clothing, and realize this means I should have stopped for dinner ingredients after all. It is cold and raining and I am not leaving the house again, so it looks like we are having canned soup and fish sticks for dinner. Almost as good as spicy crawdads with rice and fresh sushi, right?

This post has no real conclusion. I'm just hoping the universe is done trying to even shit out and will let me watch Bones in peace for a little while. Christ.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two thoughts on work and one on dogs.

1a. What do you wear to work? My office is what I suppose we'd call "business casual," in that the owner of the company typically wears a button-down and chinos and I have never seen him wearing a tie. Pretty much the only people who wear ties are our outside sales people, but everyone else is an interesting mix. I had a meeting this morning, and in between paying attention I noted that eleven of the twenty-six people were wearing jeans. My boss was wearing flip-flops. I have a work friend (in a different department) who wears jeans every single day. I have a hard time trying to decide how to work this whole thing. I wear dark-rinse, dressy-ish jeans once or twice during the week and more casual jeans on Fridays, but I also have been known to dress the hell up and wear things like sequined dresses and heels on a Tuesday.  If you're supposed to "dress for the job you want" but your boss's boss wears cargo pants, and they aren't flattering on you, what then?

1b. Warning: bathroom-related discussion ahead. There really isn't a polite way to bring this up, so here goes: Sometimes it smells like poop at my desk. I sit close to a bathroom, and I have coworkers who have no problem taking care of bodily business at work. One person went so far as to bring in Oust spray to leave in the bathroom. Now, I understand that people poop. Everybody poops - in fact, they wrote a book about that. But I seriously disagree with people blowing up the bathroom so bad that I have to use my shirt as an air filter, and I have an even bigger problem with people spraying twenty-second bursts of toxic phthalates into my air. Coworkers of mine complained and we got the cleaning people to stock Method-brand air freshener instead, but that product was discontinued, and every time the Oust is removed from the bathroom, Madam Poops-A-Lot replaces it.

I'm not saying people shouldn't poop at work. I'm saying that if you get to work at 8:15 and have destroyed the air quality up to four cubicles away from the bathroom by 8:40, maybe you should examine your diet. Because I'm really grossed out by it. Our company is moving to a new building next month, and as much as it will be a giant pain to have to leave our part of the building to use the public bathroom (and to have to use our official swipe card to get back in, every single time), I'm really excited about not having to smell poop or cancer-causing chemicals several times a day.

2. I have somehow managed to pick not one but TWO dogs who don't really understand the idea of "fetch." Both dogs get really excited about having toys thrown and about bringing them back towards the thrower, but neither Rooster nor Pancakes have a single fuck about tennis balls or frisbees, and neither will fetch more than twice while outdoors. That means that any and all games of fetch (and remember, Pancakes is a maniac, so when we can't walk we need to get her exercise somehow) take place in our too-small living room with things like rope bones. Also, both dogs firmly believe that the thrower must be standing to play correctly, and will not ever bring a toy back to someone seated on the couch. I do not know who taught them these rules, but according to the dogs they are immutable.

How do you handle work clothes? How do you handle work bathroom situations? How would you handle my two duds of dogs?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Crazy there for a minute!

You guys! Blogger had a mini-meltdown and did a shitty job telling people about it, and an email I sent myself containing a nice long post straight-up disappeared, so you get some awful dreck today! Sorry!

Today we got our ID pictures taken for work, and it is widely agreed that mine is "not that bad, actually!". I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this has something to do with me taking exactly 0% of the experience seriously. I asked the guy if I could turn my head sideways so you could see the full effect of my mohawk, he said I had to have at least part of my face showing, I turned my head somewhat at the last second and ended up in three-quarters profile, security guy laughed and now we're friends I think.

I stopped at the library on my way home and got out a bunch of books, including one I picked for its title as much as its subject: Simple Heraldry, Cheerfully Illustrated by Iain Moncreiffe and Don Pottinger. It is cheerfully illustrated, too, except that the very last image in the book is a hanging dude, cheerfully colored, above the word Finis.

We have been super-busy all week, so it's Friday and I have absolutely no idea what we are doing tonight, or tomorrow, or Sunday. I'm waiting for Andy to get home to see if he knows. Maybe we'll just sit on the couch and stare at nothing for several hours. Beer will be involved.

Text message conversations!
Me: [WorkBFF] and I got to take [Head of IT Department]'s Porsche to Starbucks today. It was pretty awesome, even though we went the speed limit because we are pussies.
Andy:  Did you drive it?
Me: No, Sarah did. She's braver than me.
Andy: That's good.
[Ed. note: Thanks for that vote of confidence! Also, I made Sarah drive because I would have driven on the shoulder with the flashers on!]

Me (to the Kid): Too bad there isn't a prize for surviving the most boring job ever every single day. Oh wait, there is, it's called "blackout drunk by 6 p.m. on Friday."

Off to get started!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On fiction for adolescents

So I stayed home sick yesterday, and mostly I sat on the couch feeling crappy and read 600 pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This is my least favorite of the HP series, and if you don't care about YA fiction, this would be a good post to skip, as I plan to elucidate my reasons in a very convincing manner.

HP5 kind of sucks because Harry spends the entire book being a whiny prick.

I get that Harry is 15, and that's prime angst time, but come on. I worked with fifteen-year-olds and even was one once, and I can assure you that very few teenagers are that whiny, especially to their friends, that much of the time.

First Harry is pissed that he is stuck in Privet Drive while his friends hang out together. Then he's pissed that Dumbledore doesn't pay more attention to him.  He's pissed that Sirius is feeling the same way he is and he has to pretend it's okay. He hides from everyone after he has the snake-and-Mr.-Weasley dream, then gets mad for talking about him when he's not there. He spends huge sections of the book bickering with his best friends and Cho. It's irritating, and frankly it's just plain boring.

I know huge amounts of time in adolescence are spent agonizing over every miniscule detail of your life, but it doesn't make for interesting reading. Part of what I hated about the writing of Twilight (the writing, here, not the phenomenally shitty and misogynistic storyline) was that it was all from the perspective of a self-absorbed and rather boring teenage girl.

Fiction for teenagers doesn't have to be like this! Thankfully, Harry's angst disappears (mostly) after Order of the Phoenix, and there are terrific books like the Hunger Games trilogy that involve intelligent main characters. And of course there will always be The Giver, to reread a million times.

What adolescent fiction without whiny characters can you recommend?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Food Thing = Success!

Dudes, we had our parents over yesterday for a Mother's Day picnic-thing, and it was a resounding success. Possibly less-than-stellar moments: I drank four glasses of wine while sitting in the sun (then wisely switched to water!), I sat at such an angle that a large patch of my right boob got sunburned (but nowhere else got any sun at all), and I doubled what turned out to be an already-tripled frosting recipe, so now I have enough frosting for at least two more layer cakes. I made a lot of frosting, is what I'm saying.

I tried on bathing suits a little while ago and am now feeling self-critical in that special way that bathing-suit-trying-on can bring, so I'm going to eat some celery and then go for a bike ride.

The bike ride part is true, but the celery part isn't. We don't have any celery, and I'm hungry, so I think I'm going to have some scrambled eggs and marble rye toast. That's healthy, right? Lots of protein, and stuff?

And I'm giving the rest of the cake away to my neighbors, but that was part of the plan before the bathing suit thing.

How was your Mother's Day? Anyone else feeling spectacularly self-image-conscious, or just plain fat, this week?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring cleaning

Tomorrow we're hosting our Second Annual Mother's Day Food Thing! Last year we did brunch, but this year we're doing lunch, so I can't really give it a better name.

To get ready, I started cleaning my messy house. How do you all handle spring cleaning? Today I swept and washed the kitchen and bathroom floors, cleaned the bathroom, washed all the towels, and am going to vacuum and dust the living room after I eat some lunch. The house smells great, and it looks so much better already! I hate cleaning, but I really like having a clean house.

How do you handle division of labor? Andy and I basically take care of the things that bug us more. For example, I think he has cleaned the bathroom maybe four times since we moved in together three years ago, but I'm okay with that because I'm usually the one who thinks the bathroom is kind of getting gross and needs to be cleaned. I've mowed the lawn a comparable number of times, though I typically claim it's more, because I despise mowing the lawn and don't really notice that it needs it until a week after Andy does.

Basically, I know it's time for spring cleaning when I think my entire house is pretty gross. If possible, I get as much done on a weekend-day as I can, so I have an excuse to have people over. It works out pretty well.

Do you spring-clean? How do you tackle it?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Loving and loathing: springtime

  • Sunshine! But not too much!
  • The smell of fresh-cut lawns coming through my car windows as I drive home.
  •  It's getting warmer, but isn't yet unbearably hot and humid.
  • I had my first-ever Pimm's cup recently, and I'm 100% sure it will become an important part of my summer routine.
  • My tulips are blooming! They're pink! I haven't killed any plants in, like, months!
  • Napping on the couch in the afternoon with the sun streaming through the window is like a present from the universe just for me. That's how much I love it.
  • Summer food! Andy's family used their grill pretty much every single day all summer long, so he's an experienced grill master. I make a mean potato grill thing (complicated recipe: chuck some diced potatoes, a diced onion, minced garlic, a serious drizzle of olive oil and a knob or two of butter into some tinfoil; fold tinfoil into a packet; grill without flipping for like twenty minutes or until it smells amazing.) and some amazing crumbles and cobblers that will soon be reappearing on our menu.
  • Drinking outdoors is seasonally appropriate! Is there anything more relaxing than an afternoon barbecue with some lovely grilled food and some beers (or maybe a Pimm's cup)?
  • We've made plans for our first attempt at camping-I-won't-hate! It's back in the Thousand Islands, but the people we're going with have a Winnebago and are bringing some of their homebrewed beer, so I'm already feeling more optimistic.
  • The groggy, stupid feeling I get from seasonal allergies, and that it takes me a few days to realize it's allergies and start taking Claritin.
  • Yardwork. We have a lot of ambition, but I seriously despise yardwork more than any other chore. I'd rather clean forty toilets that mow the lawn. (Please note that I mean, like, household toilets used by me, and not any generic toilets. Or mall toilets. Or toilets at a homeless shelter or whatever. I'd rather clean, let's say, four or five of those than mow the lawn.)
  • Same category, but I despise it equally, so it gets its own entry: weed eradication. Our yard is a botanist's dream, as I'm pretty sure we have some species of dandelion that don't exist anywhere else. And we have a super-enthusiastic growth of Japanese knotweed, a horribly invasive piece of shit that sends out a million shoots that require cutting two inches above the ground then an application of Roundup. And no, you can't get the generic, cheaper kind of weed killer, because only certain things kill that shit. 
  • Driving with my windows open does crazy things to my mohawk, but I refuse to be one of those a-holes with the air conditioning on when it's 70° out.
  • The town's Public Works department came through and did something crazy to the sewers on my street recently, and now it appears that one of them is plugged. Every time it rains, which happens a lot in upstate New York in the spring, there's a huge puddle across the road I have to take to get to work.
  • Return of motorcycle season means the neighbor two houses down will once again spend four hours, three nights a week, fucking around with his motorcycle in the driveway (possibly in an attempt to make it louder, as this is the only effect I have been able to discern). The farthest he will ever drive it is around the block.
Conclusion: Hooray for spring, mostly! What are you loving and loathing lately?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to make dinner: pro edition

Start on Wednesday night by swearing you're going to go to bed early. Forget to do this, and stay up until 11:30 reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the bazillionth time.

Thursday morning, wake up groggy and a little sore from sleeping weird. Shower and get dressed and all that, put up your mohawk, then realize you only have time to brush your teeth or put on makeup. Decide on teeth.

At work, spend time trying to figure out what to make for dinner, what with it being Cinco de Mayo and therefore an awesome excuse to make something themed. Look at approximately 16 fish taco recipes (because your husband likes fish tacos) before deciding you really don't like fish tacos that much and then look at seven beef taco recipes. Decide on this recipe. Text your husband to find out if you have any steak in the freezer (he'll respond, "Probably.") Make a store list on a Post-it. Rewrite it three times, first to make it neater, then to group things together by area of the store.

After work, stop at the store. Think about stopping at Aldi to see if they have cheap avocados, then remember the last time you did that they weren't that much cheaper and didn't have much taste. Go to Wegmans. Get everything on your list except cabbage (because they only have giant heads of it and you need, like, two cups for slaw), and also get some marshmallows and Hershey's bars and a Twix, because you have been dying for chocolate all day. Be outraged at how much avocados cost. Buy steak. Realize that the recipe calls for flank steak, but discover that the cheapest flank steak is $17. Get two strip steaks because they're reduced for quick sale to $11 and you don't really know the difference between cuts of steak anyway. Buy a six-pack of Tecate, which you've never heard of but which is Mexican and on sale and has to be better than Corona, right?

Devour the Twix on the drive home. When you get into the house, let the dogs out into the backyard. Pretend not to hear them barking at the mean dogs next door. Put the beer in the fridge wherever it'll fit. Do not bother to clean out any of the old, questionable food that is taking up so much damn space.

Make the marinade in a Ziploc bag, because you're smart enough not to mix it in a bowl then transfer it to a bag. Duh. Double the amount of garlic, and think derogatory thoughts about anyone who doesn't automatically double the amount of garlic in any recipe she makes. Put the steaks in with the marinade, shake it enthusiastically while doing some weird pelvic-thrust-heavy dance. Stick the bag in the fridge, wherever you can fit it. Think, "Someone ought to clean this fridge out." Remember it was garbage day this morning, so you probably should have cleaned it yesterday.

Start the guacamole. Be relieved that the two overpriced avocados are perfect inside. Make the guacamole. Let the dogs back inside because they're barking again. Try the guacamole. Do a dance of joy about how fucking good it is. Eat three chips covered in the stuff. Get a phone call from your husband that he has to go out for a drink with everyone from work for his boss's birthday. Console yourself with a beer (decent!) and more chips and guacamole. Realize this guac is in the top five guacs you've ever made. Be smug.

Google search "fresh corn salsa" because your husband recently told you he really likes that stuff. Realize that most of them are a combination of tomatoes, red onion, and corn. While your computer is running, blog for a while. Use the second person, so you sound like a tool.

Put the guacamole in the fridge, on top of the marinating meat because you can't find anywhere else to stick it. Drink some more beer. Make the corn salsa by chopping the other half of the onion you used for the guac and a tomato and mixing that with the kernels you cut off of two ears of corn. Sprinkle liberally with salt and add a splash of lime juice. Watch an episode of Bones while knitting.

When your husband gets home, have him grill the steak because you've never grilled anything in your life (being a vegetarian through your formative grilling years will do that to you). Let it set for a minute, slice on an angle, put some chunks of meat in the stupid six-inch tortillas you had to get because that's the only size the corn ones came in. Add a hearty blob of guacamole. Add a good sprinkling of the corn salsa stuff. Squeeze on some fresh lime juice if you have it (you don't.). Devour.

There you have it! Easy-peasy! Did you guys make anything special for Cinco de Mayo?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I don't have a single coherent thing to write about, so here's this instead:

1. I need to get some of this dog hair out of my life. Might just be an urge to spring-clean, but it seems that there is white dog hair on every surface of this house, including me. Gross.

2. Andy is in charge of our Blockbuster-by-mail program thing. I don't even know our login information, for some reason. Luckily, the man usually has awesome taste. I don't understand, however, why we got Tommy Boy in the mail today.

3. I had a super awesome panini for lunch today, but it's giving me indigestion. Not cool.

4. Is it appropriate for my inaugural wearing of my new leather jacket to be while I take the dogs for a walk in the midafternoon?

5. I'm taking the dogs for a walk instead of going for a run because I'm lazy, but I'll probably walk them farther than I would have run anyway, because I'm lazy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bragging a little

So I just got back from a sweet little getaway with Andy! We spent two nights at Belhurst Castle in the Finger Lakes. It was terrific.We drank wine, and got a massage, and hung out in a hot tub, and generally just relaxed and did nothing for three days. We also went to the outlet mall and dropped some serious money, the kind that makes your stomach hurt for a minute, except we didn't buy anything unless it was 60% off retail price or more, so I guess that helps.

Our second night we stayed in the castle's vineyard property, White Springs Manor, which is pretty cool too. The only thing is, I'm a giant sissy and it's a huge old building with hardly any people in it (you check in at their main property two miles away, so you could conceivably be the only people in the building, including staff). There were (we think) two other couples staying when we were, but we only know that because there were two cars in the lot and we saw someone close the drapes in one of the rooms. Because the building is so old, it doesn't have those hotel flip-lock thingies you use to make sure no one can get in. That means, right before we fell asleep, my brain was all, "You know, anyone could make a copy of that key and get in here. Anyone." So I woke up, like, six times during the night to make sure no one had broken into our room and murdered us. Also, whatever asshole had the room before us set the room's alarm clock for 6 a.m. That was not my favorite.

Because of my extreme vigilance, I'm tired now, so I'm going to take a nap. Win!