Thursday, June 30, 2011

Work!

I am such a neurotic mess. My last job did such a freaking doozy on my at-work confidence that I am a serious ball of anxiety for the days leading up to any meeting with my boss. I had my annual review today, and despite not having had any flat-out bad meetings with the boss in the last year, I have been stressed about it since Monday.

Last night at our friends’ going-away party, I knocked over three different drinks because I was so tense and clumsy. Three delicious homebrewed beers were lost to this damn review. It was criminal. Then, of course, I had a hard time falling asleep (no joke, at the old job I started having to take Nyquil to fall asleep the night before a meeting with the Horrible Boss. Then I started taking a combo antidepressant/antianxiety pill, and it turns out that was a much better idea.), so I made Andy snuggle me extra-well and play with my hair, which I’ve found soothing since I was a baby. (Please note that “play with” here means “run his fingers through it repeatedly,” not “french-braid it and add ribbons” or some such shit.)

This morning, I made Andy take care of the garbage (we take it over to his parents’ house five minutes away instead of paying for pickup, because we’re cheap), even though I usually handle it, hollered at the dogs who were being their usual doggish selves, and knocked my knuckles really hard against a wall by being clumsy again. In the two and a half hours I had at work before my meeting, I did the following things:
·         Tried to meditate at my desk while the woman who sits in the cubicle next to mine ate Cracker Jack with her mouth open.
·         Listened to “No Woman, No Cry” on my reggae Pandora station and imagined that the Wailers were telling me, specifically, that everything gonna be alright.
·         Read the Stuart Smalley Wikipedia page and reminded myself that I, too, was good enough, and smart enough, and that doggone it, people like me to.
·         Repeated “competent and confident” as a sort of mantra to myself every time my heart started to pound. (I started doing this when things were at their worst at the old job, and can’t say whether or not it does a damn thing. It’s just sort of a habit now.)
·         Reviewed my notes to myself about why I deserved a bigger raise this year than I got last year for the seventeenth time this week.
·         Reminded myself that I haven’t gotten any negative feedback from my boss since January, when she suggested double-checking a few small things, but that the mistakes I had made were typically the sort that got caught before the work went out to customers, so, you know, not that big a deal. Still felt panicked.
·         Played the “What’s the worst that could happen?” game, which some therapists suggest as a way to come to grips with the idea that you can live through a bad situation. It went like this: “Okay, the worst that could happen is that I don’t get the raise. No, the worst is that she’ll tell me that I’m terrible at my job and that they’re firing me. Okay, so getting fired is the worst that could happen. So what? So what if I get fired? What’s the worst that could happen? IN THIS ECONOMY? I’d lose my house! We’d have to move in with my parents! I have an ENGLISH DEGREE, I’d never find another job!” So I guess you could say it backfired.
·         Pretended that I was as confident as some of my idiot coworkers, who make bizarre mistakes and never hit their numbers but still walk around like they own the joint.
·         Noted with dismay that my hands were trembling like crazy.

So then I had the actual meeting, and, no exaggeration, my boss didn’t have a single piece of criticism. I have made way more money for the company in the last year than anyone else in my department, and at first she thought that would mean that if I were working that much more quickly than other editors, I’d likely be making more mistakes, but that hasn’t been the case. We went over the stupid self-evaluation form I had to submit, and she agreed with all of my answers, commended me on an idea I had to make the company look better to our customers, and told me she already had some other (more advanced/I’m the only one working on them) projects in mind for me. Then she told me the average raise at our company this year was about 2.5%, but that she had requested (from her boss, our division manager, or whatever, I’m not up on my corporate lingo) that they give me a 9% raise. I had planned to ask for 10.5%, but reassessed – by which I mean, I pussied out – and happily took the 9%.

I texted Andy that the review went fine and the info about the raise, and he texted back, “See? You are as great as everyone tells you you are!” which naturally made me tear up at my desk (not hard, as I was still shaking like a leaf) and suggested we get sushi tonight to celebrate.

I must be freaking tiresome to deal with around these things every year. My husband has the patience of a goddamn saint.

P.S. Is it bad form to share the percentage of the raise? I seriously hate evasive language like "I was going to ask for a healthy raise, but they offered me a pretty great one, so I took it, even though it wasn't as good as the healthy one, because everyone else is apparently getting a low-but-kind-of-standard raise..." It's so much more work that way! If anyone in HR reads this, let me know if your company would want me to take any of this shit out. I'M STILL PARANOID ABOUT GETTING FIRED OH MY GOD I'M A FUCKING MESS.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What to make with your strawberries

We got a bunch of strawberries yesterday, and they were so ripe that a lot of them looked like they were about twelve minutes away from going bad. So, to use them up, I made this:

Strawberry clafoutis

We're bringing it with us to our friends' going-away party. I fully intend to upstage the guests of honor with how wonderful a baker I am.

Then, later tonight, to calm myself down before my annual review at work tomorrow, I'll make this:

Strawberry margarita

And tomorrow I'll make this:


Tender shortcakes

Those will likely be carefully packed up, frozen, and brought with us when we go see the Kid and Brian and the new baby. Because we're thoughtful.

What strawberry recipes do you love?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's happening right now chez moi

Andy and I just made a huge, awesome salad, mostly out of CSA stuff, for dinner. It was lovely. We topped it with tuna and hard-boiled eggs, so it was filling and full of protein and made us feel delightfully virtuous.

Our CSA share today came with six gherkin cucumbers and a bunch of beets. I'm looking up recipes for refrigerator pickles (I am not ready to invest the time in actual canning of pickles) and for interesting things to do with beets, as I'll have the whole bunch to myself. Wonder if Andy will try beet greens. I hope so, because that recipe looks great.

We're spending the evening watching Public Enemies, chilling with the dogs and drinking Pimm's Cup, and I'm going to shell our CSA peas when I'm done writing this.

Tomorrow evening we're going to a goodbye party for some very good friends (part of the group we camped with, in fact), who are leaving for a two-month-long travel across the country next week. I'm going to think about what small token we can bring to their party that will be thoughtful without getting in the way or being overly sappy. Any thoughts?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting old?

I got a new computer at work today, and I keep thinking it's not as good as the old one. Except the part that the new one doesn't sound like an airplane, which the old one did. I have to keep reconfiguring settings - things like, in Outlook, instead of getting a little envelope in my task bar to notify me that I have a new email, a "preview" would pop up, telling me who the email was from and showing the first line or two, then disappearing completely. What? How is that helpful? And considering the amount of off-color jokes my work friends and I send, I think it is a much better system to NOT have parts of a message splashed on my screen. Why can't the new computer be more like the old computer? The old system was fine. Why is my "home" button way the hell over there? MAKE IT LIKE IT USED TO BE.

I also lent the flip-flops I keep at work for our fifteen-minute walks to a coworker who had dropped a shelf on her foot, and took our walk in heels. Now my right heel bed feels funny, like there's a long blister down the side of it, even though it looks fine, and I have two blisters on my left toes. I wear these shoes all the time!

My posture at work isn't great, because I am not average height and therefore my cubicle and chair are not optimal, which means for the last month or so, I've had shooting pains under my right shoulder blade. They're not bad enough to have seen a doctor (or a masseuse), but they woke me up last night! Earlier I googled "how to sit properly at work" and all the advice basically boils down to "be taller and sit like a robot in an ergonomically correct workspace," which isn't exactly an option. I have to get a physical in the next few months, so if this shoulder thing doesn't quit, I'll mention it then. Aren't "unexplained body aches" one of the symptoms of old age?

Andy and I had a conversation the other night about my low levels of energy. When we started dating, I was a little ball of go-go-go! all the time. Now, I skip the after party and still sleep late. It made sense that I had less energy in my earlier, shittier job, because a) teaching is physically exhausting, and b) so is depression, but now I'm not teaching and I'm not depressed, so Andy worries about me. It's endearing, but also I feel sad for him that he worries when I just want to go to bed early sometimes, and maybe we could catch a matinee movie and eat dinner at 4:30 beforehand.

I'm living the life of a fifty-eight-year-old, I think.

How old does your life indicate that you are?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wedding Saturday!

Today Andy and I are attending a wedding. It's sort of a weird situation, as we don't know the couple very well. I knew the bride as a good friend of one of my best friends, but the two of us never hung out without the other friend present. Andy hung out with the groom at my best friend's wedding, because the girl getting married today and I were both bridesmaids, but I am 98% sure Andy and the groom haven't spoken since. BUT: my best friend and her dude are in from out of town, and I think we were invited as their pity-date. The bride knows our friend hasn't kept in touch with most people from school, and knew she'd be more likely to attend if there was someone she wanted to hang out with at the reception. In fact, we both consulted the other before sending in our RSVP cards, so I guess it was a clever move by the bride.

The happy couple are, shall we say, country folk. The bride's first job was mucking stables, and I'm pretty sure she has a college degree in something called Equestrian Management. The ceremony and reception are at a "party house" of questionable classiness not too far from the city's most well-known prostitution area. It's going to be so awesome.

We got them the tupperware set they were registered for. If we're going to a wedding and the couple is registered for tupperware, I will ALWAYS get it for them, because then I think it's hilarious to write in the card, "Hope this helps you keep things FRESH!" with a winking face or something else ridiculous, and then I hope they're opening the presents in front of, like, great-aunts with dirty minds who think I'm giving them marital aids of some sort. It's the small things that bring me joy, really.

So. I am paying $24 (for the tupperware, which I used a coupon for) to spend six hours hanging out eating and drinking on someone else's dime with a friend I haven't seen since my last trip to New York. I can think of several worse ways to spend a Saturday. For example, camping springs readily to mind.

What's the most bizarre wedding situation you've been involved in? Do you have a go-to wedding gift?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Storms are so great!

It is about to storm in a pretty serious way. Not, like, buildings coming down and people losing everything they own serious. Just "did you see that one?" kind of thunderstorm awesomeness. I'm even considering washing dog snot off my front window so I can watch it better. (What? I didn't mention that the dogs spend the day with their noses pressed against the front window, protecting the house against intruders like squirrels and leaves and ladies with strollers, and thus my window has a film of dog snot on it? I'm sorry you didn't get the memo, but I live a really glamorous life.)

We're going over to my folks' house for dinner, which will be lovely as always, and then I'm planning to start the baby sweater I was supposed to have finished for the shower on Monday. As in, three days ago. Oops.

If this storm lasts, though, I'm going to have a hard time doing anything but staring out the window. The bizarre National Geographic specials I like to watch while knitting can wait. (True story: Someone found my blog once by searching for "MS-13 Netflix." I'm guessing this wasn't really what they were looking for.)

Do you love watching thunderstorms and weird documentaries, too?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Three true things about today

1. I am in the process of making my first-ever strawberry-rhubarb pie. I have less rhubarb than the recipe calls for, so I stopped at Wegmans to see if they happened to have any left. While a bemoustached teen named Anthony checked in the back for me, I wandered around the produce section, looking for weird stuff. I found some of these beauties:
Intrigued, I picked one up, pressing my thumb against those interesting bumps. As I did that, I read the little sign and felt a shooting tingle in my thumb: They are prickly pear, and those little bumps have little spiny hairs sticking out of them, happy to imbed themselves in your thumb and then in your forefinger when you automatically try to wipe them away. Cool.

2. I use up the "ugly" stamps when I have to mail things like bills. All of my stamps right now feature pine cones (no idea why), so the weird flat knobby pine cone stamp is meant to imply a "fuck you" to Citibank. I realize this is illogical at best, and flat-out contradictory at best. What if the poor asshole opening mail secretly loves those pine cones? What then??

3. Have you heard about What Should I Read Next? It's a website that provides recommendations based on you plugging in a book title or author you like. No idea how it works, but I plugged in Random Family, which I just finished and very much enjoyed, and had already read something like a third of the books it recommended, so I guess that works! TRY IT!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where I've been

I just spent four days camping.

One of my goals for the year was to find a way to enjoy camping. I have confirmed, through four days of camping with some of the best human beings ever, that I just plain fucking hate camping.

It actually feels good to know that I did my very best and it still sucked. It is okay for me to not like something, even if everyone else loves it. It confuses my friends that I wasn't having a great time, as they all had the time of their lives, but I'm coming to terms with that. I am not being bitchy or pouty or ruining everyone's time if I don't pretend to love sitting in a teeny boat with a finicky engine in the middle of really fucking deep water in the glaring sun for four hours. Also, it's okay if I disagree that in retrospect it was really fun when the boat almost tipped over. Twice.

I honestly tried to have fun, you guys. I really like the friends we were with, and things would be so much easier if I agreed that camping was fun. But I don't. So I have announced that I will camp for up to two nights a year, with a good attitude, but never, ever more than that. I did okay with not whining and complaining and stuff for that long, but three nights was way too many. As we were eating lunch after having packed up on our fourth day, our friends started planning our return trip next year, and I honest-to-God had to stop myself from crying.

I'm going to go ahead and say that I've accomplished Goal #9, even though I didn't enjoy it, because I tried so hard to make it work. Hooray for giving it my best! Hooray for not camping anymore!

Have you tried your best to enjoy something and still managed to hate it? Reassure me here!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Things I will always hate

An update.

1. Being able to recognize that my worrying is pointless but unable to stop worrying anyway.
2. Commercials that use well-known songs or rhymes but fuck up the rhyme scheme or meter.
3. Waiting in line for more than, say, forty seconds.
4. Racism.
5. Anise-flavored anything, including fennel and sambuca.
6. Spending money on things I'm going to throw away, like napkins and tampons.
7. Cockroaches. Just the thought of them makes my skin crawl.
8. The fact that I almost always think it will take me less time to get ready than it actually does, leading to the fact that I am often late.
9. The texture of a banana smoothie.
10. Being woken up by a phone call from a solicitor. Makes me murderous.

What do you hate?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Exciting! Mostly!

You guys? My sister's in labor as I'm writing this. She's six hours away, with Brian and a whole bunch of doctors who don't know her well. They've only lived there for a few months, so they don't have friends close enough to visit them at the hospital. I'm dying that I'm not there.

You might have noticed that the Kid and I are pretty close. I've always been protective of her - I remember crying more than she did once when she got a spanking (which I'm sure she fully deserved), and the only "fight" I've ever had with my best friend was when we were six and our brothers were picking on the Kid, as older brothers do, and my friend didn't stick up for my sister enough.

The contractions woke the Kid up at 4 am yesterday. She's been in labor for almost thirty-six hours as of this writing. Things are progressing, but slowly - her cervix is apparently not as excited as the rest of us about this kid showing up, so it took its sweet time getting ready. Now the cervix is cooperating, I guess, but the baby has rotated during the wait and is now face-up, so they're trying to wiggle her back around. The Kid had an epidural late last night, so she's as comfortable as she can be, for having regular contractions and being awake for two days.

Brian and the Kid announced a while ago that they were reserving the first two weeks of the baby's life for just them. They want to settle into a rhythm on their own, without people coming and going and bossing and being in their shit. I think this is a good idea, but that means I am not there right now, holding the Kid's hand when she needs it, getting her a cold washcloth (she said the epidural makes her feel really warm, even though Brian is shivering), reminding her how strong and brave she is.

She said in the time since she was admitted, they've had something like ten other deliveries. She can hear them, and she heard a baby cry as she was texting me that. I teared up at my desk at work, because I'm not there telling her it's her turn soon! I have to keep reminding myself that if either the Kid or the baby were in any danger, they'd do a c-section, so things are still just fine. Humans have been doing this for a long freaking time, and mostly it all works out the way it's supposed to.

You guys? The baby's middle name is Rachael.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On helping other people accept who you are

That's a pretty lofty title for a post about politely telling people to fuck off.

My parents were at a festival yesterday and ran into the friends we're camping with soon. Apparently, the friends were all, "Oh my gosh, Rachael is going to have so much fun hiking and stuff!" and my mom was all, "Yeah? Good luck with that."

My mom knows I'm an indoor kid. The things I do in my leisure time - reading, knitting, baking, dying my hair - those things are best done indoors. That's where I'm happiest. But every time I agree to go on a trip like this, well-meaning friends decide that if I just knew better, I'd love hiking, or camping in general, or Frisbee, or fishing, or whatever stupid thing they want to do. It's not like I'm a huge Debbie Downer, complaining the whole time, but I also don't pretend that HIKING IS SO FUCKING COOL YOU GUYS when seriously, looking at rocks is pretty boring, and I could be back at the campsite getting drunk.

This happens a lot with sports, too. I'm one of the least competitive people alive (at this point, some asshole always says, "I bet I'm less competitive than you are!" and I always agree that it's probably true.), which means I don't really enjoy most sports, including bar-type sports like pool or darts. Friends always assume this means I'm not GOOD at these things, and if they just show me how to do it well, I'll suddenly appreciate it and want to spend my free time doing it. This theory is dead wrong. I'm actually pretty good at darts, in fact, but I just don't like playing. That's all.

So. I was going to ask this question then try to answer it, but then I realized that that anecdote about camping happened yesterday, so apparently I don't have any answers about this. I turn to you, O Internet:

How do I politely reassure my friends that I'm having a fine time, and also that nothing they do or say is going to convince me that the last 26 years have been a farce and I secretly love the things I know I hate?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CSA bounty

Today is the second day I got to go pick up my half-share of produce from the farm we're using for our CSA program. Here's last week's haul:

That's seven stalks of rhubarb (each over a foot in length), thirty-two stalks of asparagus, a big ol' bag of spinach (probably over a pound, but I didn't weigh it), five Empire apples, and six Granny Smith. The asparagus and spinach went into the quiches, half of the rhubarb into the blueberry-rhubarb sauce for ice cream, the apples went to Andy's lunches, and the rest of the rhubarb is waiting to be turned into strawberry rhubarb pie. All of this cost about $12, when you do the math. No joke.

Here's week two:
The picture is crappier (that's the cord for my coffee pot to the left, and the top of the garbage can to the right. I live a glamorous life.) but the haul is even better. We've got spinach again, more than last week, in the back right; some variety of lovely-looking lettuce in the back left; peas with edible pods (Andy's favorite!) in the glass bowl; a yellow sweet Hungarian pepper, which I don't even want to look at; a pint of delicious, sweet, teeny strawberries; and that weird twisty stuff in the middle are something called garlic scapes. Seriously: $12.

Please note that the pea pod bowl and the strawberry dish are significantly less full than they were when I took the picture ten minutes ago.

Each week, they've sent a sheet about how to care for, store, and cook with the stuff in the bin, and a recipe or two. I am not yet over how awesome this is.

Do any of you belong to a CSA thing? Are you reveling in fresh produce wherever you are? Can you please share a no-fail recipe for garlic scapes? Those things look a little weird.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fostering: first meeting

We just had our first meeting with our homefinding caseworker. I'm psyched, so I'm pretty much going to only write about that right now.

The lady came to our house and was here for two and a half hours. Mostly we talked, but she also did the initial walk-through of our house to give us a general "your home is not an immediate danger to children" pass.

The conversation seemed pretty useful, and the lady clearly has a lot of experience with this. She had us both tell her about our childhoods, our high school and college experiences, how we were disciplined as kids, our current relationships with both sets of parents and our siblings, whether we thought our families would accept a foster kid with love. We talked about how much we can tell people about the situation a foster kid comes from - very little, and only what they need to know - and when we can hit a child - never, ever, ever - and how the process is different if we end up with a foster kid who's part of any American Indian nation. She met the dogs and liked our habit of keeping the dogs outside when people are entering the house and only letting the dogs back in after things are more calm, because that's how they recommend people do it anyway.

We have fourteen pages of things to fill out and compile. We have a sixty-page packet to read. We have to buy a crib and a carseat. We have to move the carbon monoxide detector upstairs, and we have to put a cap over a pipe in the basement, and we have to scrape the peeling paint in the sunroom and then repaint it. I am so psyched.

She already signed us up for the ten-week classes starting in July. They end the last week in September, so we should be certified by October. You guys! This is so exciting!

Do you want to know more about the process? I'll answer any questions you have, if I can!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Too early.

Andy's car had to be at the shop at 8 this morning. The shop is half an hour from our house. That means that we had to leave at 7:30, for those of you too sleepy to do the math.

Luckily, I had remembered my patent-pending hangover remedy before going to bed. What's my patent-pending hangover remedy? Well, because I care about you and because I don't wish hangovers on anyone, here it is: Before retiring for the evening, take a Vitamin B Complex with a huge glass of water. I cannot tell you how much better this makes those mornings-after. I mean, you won't wake up feeling like going for a run (who does?), but you'll feel significantly more human than you might otherwise.

So I'm only mildly hungover, and Andy isn't at all, so he's outside working on our big ol' gardening project while I'm inside blogging and drinking coffee. I brought him a cup, too, so I think we're even.

Up next, I'm searching out multifamily and neighborhood yard sales going on today (Craigslist is so awesome for this). I offered to go by myself while Andy gardens, but he actually wants to go with me! Hooray!

I guess it's shaping up to be a nice little Saturday. What are your plans? Share!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday!

Y'all, I had an awesome day! Work was decent - there is lots of hullabaloo because the company is relocating in a few weeks, so I have a built-in excuse to do slightly less work - and I got out on time.

After work, I made two quiches (one for us, one to share) with the spinach and asparagus from our CSA share, and invented a lovely ice-cream sauce with CSA rhubarb and wild blueberries our neighbor gave us. It was my first attempt at cooking with rhubarb, and it came out SO DELICIOUS. For some reason, the chunks of rhubarb all sort of shredded themselves and disappeared into the sauce. Anyone out there know rhubarb? Is that normal, or does it mean I cooked it too long?

We took the ice cream, sauce, and the bigger quiche over for dinner with our friends with the new-ish baby, and had a great time hanging out. The only mishap was when we were on our way out the door - their three-year-old ran in to give Andy a serious hug, and managed to smash him right in the nuts. So Andy is recuperating on the couch (don't worry, he didn't let the kid know he was hurt, because the kid was seriously trying to be sweet) and I'm doing a half-assed job of maintaining this blog.

We're having friends to our house for dinner tomorrow, so I'm going to go put away that laundry and then head to bed a little early!

What's up with y'all? Anyone know about rhubarb? You want the recipe?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just the facts.

Here is some shit about me:
  • I don't particularly like apples. I'll eat one now and then, but I never really enjoy 'em. I do enjoy apple pies and apple crisp, because those are full of butter and sugar, which have saved worse fruits than apples.
  • I am an awesome baker, but I think those "...and it's good for you, too, because we subbed in millet for flour and carob for chocolate and applesauce and agave for the butter and sugar!" recipes can suck balls. Full-fat (salted) butter and brown sugar win every time.
  • I don't like cream cheese in my baked goods. No cream-cheese frosting, even. The exception, of course, is plain cheesecake. Not with fruit or anything.
  • Despite owning two dogs, I am not a dog person. I like mine okay, usually, and a few other dogs have won me over, but I pretty much have no interest in your dog, or anyone else's. 
  • I absolutely love the show Cops. I wish they had it on Netflix. I'd watch it all the time.
  • I am becoming significantly more organized as I get older. My desk at work is organized logically and files I need are in file folders and labelled in order in my drawer. This is a total departure from my previous systems, which included "just put that shit anywhere" and "four of us share our lockers, so there's always a math book to grab, even if it's not for the right class".
  • Being an editor for my job makes it really hard to enjoy a book that hasn't been proofread well. This is irritating, because I really can't enjoy a story, no matter how interesting, if I'm spending the whole time with my mental-red-pen poised.
  • I am not overly "girly," I guess. I wear skirts and dresses a lot, but that's mostly because some days I cannot stand the thought of wearing pants. I wear at least a little makeup most days, but I paint my nails maybe five times a year, and I have had one pedicure in my entire life. On the other hand, I have no interest in sports or wearing athletic sneakers, ever, or baseball caps, so maybe I am a little girly after all. Or maybe I'm not really comfortable with labeling myself! Resist!
  • I have a magical ability to ignore messes if they stay there long enough, for weeks at a time, until suddenly they drive me insane. For example, I folded a load of laundry three days ago, and it has stayed on the couch since then. It's fine for at least two more days, at which point a switch will flip in my brain and I will be so irritated I have to put it away immediately, even if it makes us late for something.
  • I do not like 90% of romantic comedies. I enjoy 40% of shitty action movies.
Phew. Glad I got that off my chest.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In which I come through, sort of.

Andy's younger sister has been dealing with some pretty serious health issues. I mentioned that a while ago. She got better, then got kind of worse, there was an allergic reaction, and she spent several more days in the hospital. She's out now, thankfully, but with instructions to take it easy or else. The "or else" here is "or else you'll end up back in the goddamn hospital, so seriously maybe take some more naps and do nothing strenuous."

I asked her if some more ridiculous books would help her recovery. She decided, hey, they couldn't hurt, right? What followed was this series of texts:

Me: Do you need more trashy novels to help your recovery? I recently discovered a "Christian fiction" section at Wal-Mart. There were bonnets.
SIL: Haha! Couldn't hurt I suppose. Trashy passes the time.
Me: Deal. I was scared to look too closely, but I'll see if I can find anything about the Amish.
SIL: LOL You're too funny
Me: If they don't have Amish stuff, I'll try to find one involving a gruff policeman with a heart of gold, or a female attorney who realizes she's missing out on all life has to offer so she becomes a slut.
SIL: Sounds good.

I popped over to Wal-Mart on my lunch break, and managed to find these two gems:
Abby and the Bachelor Cop, AND Hannah's Journey.

Turns out, romance novels really are that formulaic.

WHICH COMES IN HANDY, AS I'VE HAD A REQUEST THAT I WRITE ONE. Not kidding. Some good friends of ours host art shows in their home, and they're having one at the end of summer entitled "In the Garden." Seeing as how I'm the only one of the group who does not create art (unless you count knitting, which I don't know, maybe counts or something, I'm good at it and all and I AM NOT DEFENSIVE ABOUT MY NON-ARTISTIC NATURE), they suggested that I write something. I can handle a few haiku, maybe knock out a tortured sonnet, but my English degree is the other sort, the kind where you get to discuss shit other people wrote. But a friend of the friend hosting the show has a secret, quite lucrative career writing weird, fetishistic romance novels. We died laughing about how funny it would be for us to write a garden-themed romance short story ("he gently pulled back the petals of her most delicate flower" OH MY GOD IT'S SO EASY), and somehow by the time we left, many beers later, I had been elected the author.

A. Please, for the love of god, help me out with this. Suggest your most ridiculous garden-ish romance novel clich├ęs and phrases. B. Please don't call the foster care people about this. Thanks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday: A Review

I wore a maxi-dress today (I cannot ever type that phrase without thinking "maxi-pad") because I had a meeting, so I didn't want to wear jeans, it was too hot for pants anyway, and I didn't have time to shave my legs. [Note: I didn't have time to shave my legs because I hit snooze three times, so I have NO ONE BUT MYSELF TO BLAME.] Anyway. I get to work, I'm working, and I discover that the meeting is cancelled. I then spend the entire day managing to roll my chair onto the hem of my dress, which is very disorienting. Suddenly I'd find I couldn't roll, and also my clothes felt weird, and OH LOOK I WAS ON MY DRESS AGAIN.

After work I stopped by my parents' house to pick up part of Andy's birthday present: all their old camping shit! This is directly related to my goal of enjoying camping, but even more related to the fact that I don't have much extra dough right now, and it'll make Andy happy. So now I have to figure out which of it is usable and in good shape, and how to make me not seem like the cheapest wife ever. The great thing about Andy, though, is that I could give him some socks in a size that won't fit either of us, and as long as they were cheap or free, he'll be thrilled!

Then I went to the library, where I accidentally managed to find myself in the Christian fiction section, and shit got weird quick. Have you looked at that stuff? (Also, where are the biographies now??) The covers look like housewife porn for the Amish. Bonnets were involved in more than one. I was scared to actually read the blurbs on the back of them. I also saw a woman snap, "Let's go!" at a kid who was in fact ahead of her, so that was interesting.

While I was there, I got Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which so far is interesting, but I'm only like fourteen minutes into the first CD. I listen to books on CD in the car because sometimes it helps me hate everyone less, plus I have to drive half an hour each way once a week to get our CSA share. The books help pass the time, I assure you, with the added benefit of not having to hear any commercials for car dealerships.

Andy's out golfing right now, and I'm sitting in the living room with Pancakes curled up next to me and Rooster at my feet and a headache starting. This sounds like a perfect recipe for watching Bones!

This wasn't really a review of the day as much as a summary, but let's not split hairs, shall we?

How is your day? Have you read that book? Tell me I'll like the other ten hours and forty-six minutes!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Foster care questions I have been asked

Out of respect for your right to give zero fucks about this whole foster care thing, I'll do my best to remember to put the word "foster" in the title of posts about it. Feel free to skip those. But come back and read the other ones, or go through my archives or something. I love you. I NEED YOU.

What?

Anyway. Here are the questions I get asked when I reveal (usually in a dramatic way, like through a puppet show) that Andy and I have started this progress, with the answers:

Q1. WHY?!
A1. Because we can. Nyah, nyah. Better answer: We are at that stage where kids aren't out of the question, and this is a way to try out parenting without developing cankles and stretch marks and crying about ice cream, or whatever pregnant ladies do. Even better answer: The work I did at the shelter alerted me to the fact that there are some fucking awful foster homes (that's four links, but I suck at internetting and am lazy) out there. We can provide a safe, loving home for a kid who needs it, so they don't have to be in a horrible foster home.  That's all.

Q1b. Why not have one of you own? (I'M NOT KIDDING, SOMEONE ASKED ME THIS.)
 A1b. Not that it's any of your fucking business, family friend who asked, but we haven't ruled that out as a possibility. We both like the idea of helping kids who need it more than we like the idea of a little Rachael-Andy hybrid, so we're doing this to start out. Idon't know what will happen later. Because I haven't perfected my psychic abilities yet.

Q2. Won't you have to give the kid back?
A2. It depends on a whole lot of different factors, but probably. We can specify (eventually, much later in the process) that we only want kids who are more likely to be adoptable, but we haven't decided if we want to do that or not.

Q3. Won't it suck to give back a kid you've had for a long time?
A3. Yes, asshole. Of course it will.

Q4. How will you deal with giving a kid back?
A4. The average placement in our county is a year. Having to give a kid back, possibly to a less-than-ideal-but-no-longer-technically-dangerous situation, after raising him or her for a year? I would predict (COME ON, PSYCHIC ABILITIES) that I will deal with that with a combination of crying and alcohol. Probably gin, because that goes so well with salty tears.

Q5. When will they give you a kid?
A5. Whoa, there, cowboy. Slow it down. It's a lengthy certification process:
  • Initial informational meeting [CHECK]
  • Application [CHECK]
  • First home visit with assigned caseworker [SHE LEFT ME A VOICEMAIL YESTERDAY AND THEN I LEFT HER ONE AND NOW I AM WAITING FOR HER TO CALL ME BACK SO NOT QUITE A CHECK YET]
  • Weird combination of paperwork and other stuff like fingerprinting, background checks, physicals, and probably a metric ton of forms to fill out (which we'll learn more about at our home visit)
  • Ten weeks of three-hour-long classes
  • Home study (mostly to ensure that you lock up things like guns, chainsaws, and medications. Looks like I need to rethink my nursery theme)
This means we need to get everything else lined up if we want to start our ten weeks of classes with the next session, which starts in July. If that all happens (fingers crossed) we'll be done with the classes and eligible for certification in September.

Q6. How do you know what to buy, if you don't know what age/sex(/location) the kid you get will be?
A6. Short answer: we don't. We already have a bed and a dresser, and we'll get a crib before the end of the certification process; we have smoke alarms and a first aid kit and fire extinguisher. We have friends with kids and know about Craigslist, so we're pretty confident we'll be able to get our hands on stuff we need after we end up with a kid.

Q7. How will you feel about getting a kid who doesn't "look like you"?
A7. I have a tattoo and am a fully developed woman, so no baby I ever have, biological or not, will look exactly like me. But we both know the actual question here, you pussy, is "What if you get a non-white??" To which I say: seriously. A kid in need is a kid in need. If we end up adopting a kid who isn't Caucasian, we're willing to do the extra work to help that kid know his or her background as he or she grows up without making it into some sort of obsession or fetishistic game. I'm willing to learn how to style black hair, if needed (this is a big deal, as I was unwilling to deal with spending ten minutes a day on my own mohawk and left it down as often as I put it up). Other than that, really, mostly, kids are kids. Apparently you can specify if you'd rather have a kid who matches your race, but neither of us feel that we're ill-equipped to help a child based on our color. FEEL FREE TO TELL ME ALL THE REASONS THIS IS NAIVE, THOUGH.

What questions do you have? Promise I'll answer them! Probably without cussing at you!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Two lists.

Movies Andy and I have watched in the last week-ish.
1. Spider-Man.
2. Little Shop of Horrors. I have had "Suddenly Seymour" stuck in my head since Tuesday night. Andy was amazed that Bill Murray and Steve Martin were in it.
3. Terminator. I had never seen the original! It was laughably awful, but we really enjoyed imagining people coming out of the theater the year we were born, exclaiming about how awesome the graphics were.
4. Spider-Man 2. I'm betting Andy will insist on watching the third sometime soon, too.
5. Blazing Saddles. We're planning to watch this tonight, to make up for the gaping lack of having-seen-it in our lives.

More possible names for my band.
Shitty Antics
Meat Sprinkles
Chief Matthew McDonut
The Main Fat Guy
Do Your Thing, Rhino
Generally Accepted
Shaft of Death
I've Had It With This Yak Carcass
Contact Meat
Iceborn
The Fish House
Nutmeg Vehicle
It Happened to Dickie Sanders (so indie)
Lost Souls and Butt Holes (possibly my favorite!)
Winged Pheasant
Drowning Drowning Pussies
Love Robot vs. Murder Robot
Dripping Slit (this would have to be a metal band.)
Disgruntled Transient Postal Workers
Rotting Miasma

You're welcome to any of those, by the way. Consider it a public service.

Any movie recommendations? Judging from the list, I'd say our tastes are pretty broad. Any band name suggestions?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

So busy and important.

It's a little cooler today, in the sixties instead of the nineties, so I'm celebrating with my first bike ride of the season! I can't seem to find my bike online, but it's pretty close to this one (same company, similar design) but mine has three speeds and foot breaks and it is PINK. I love it a lot. I'm waiting for this helmet which matches it to be back in stock in my size, but currently I ride around helmet-less like the badass I am. On my pink beach cruiser. Totally B.A.

Here's some shit to keep you busy:
Top 10 Blogs to Learn Something New. Via a link from something Mighty Girl wrote.
Funny parenting-focused blog The Daddy Complex. I may have been creeping on his archives pretty hard.
Pinterest. If you've got nothing to do for four hours, that time just filled up. Try searching for a color. Damn.
Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals. This never fails to make me laugh. "Did you see The Perfect Storm, Goat?"

Do you have an awesome bike? Can you recommend an alternate helmet that is equally cute, equally not-covered-in-designs-or-flowers-or-shit, and equally life-saving? What links can you share?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Awkward things I have done in the last three days

  • Dropped my card out the window at the Starbucks drive-through.
  • Opened my car door to retrieve the card from the ground without remembering to unbuckle first.
  • Dripped full-fat whipped cream on my bright-pink shirt, which means it now joins the ranks of the 40% of my shirts that have a grease-splotch on them.
  • Paid for my Chinese-take-out lunch, then stood awkwardly at the counter in front of the register instead of sitting at any of the four available tables until it was ready.
  • Over-caffeinated myself, then tried to read Village Board Meeting minutes to look for very specific information.
  • Told other people about my levels of urine production.
  • Tickled a toddler who was really cool with me pretending to tickle him, but who stopped smiling completely the second I made contact.
  • Tried to drink a twenty-ounce soda with a straw. The straw was regular size so it would have slipped down inside the bottle if I let it, which I didn't by clever means of removing it and licking it off and placing it on my coaster on my desk after every sip. It was not the best process.
  • Bathed both dogs with anti-fungal shampoo, after discovering what appeared to be ringworm on Pancakes. I bathed them after working in the garden for hours, which means I got big muddy splotches all over the bathroom.
  • Rubbed anti-fungal cream into my dog's soft pink belly.
  • Used the word "splotch" twice in this post.
  • Hogged all the water in the shower, then did a "too bad for you" dance that mostly consisted of pelvic thrusts when Andy pointed out that I was hogging all the water.
  • Wondered if I have been talking too much about this whole foster care thing to my work friends (two of whom are married to dudes who have had vasectomies, one of whom is a lesbian and childless, and one of whom is a married dude with two small kids). Then felt defiant, because it is a big deal and I shouldn't have to feel weird about talking too much about a life-changing thing. Then still thought maybe I shouldn't mention it for a while, or at least until something new happens, or whatever.
  • Filled out part of my annual employee self-evaluation, which is one of those totally forced, not-really-useful-to-anyone fill-in-the-box forms that everyone despises, and tried really hard to not just regurgitate the answers I put last year, because I have the same job, so how are my answers going to be different?
  • Realized that my boss had requested that I return the form "as close to [date] as possible" and wondered if it was some sort of test, like maybe I shouldn't send it early like I was planning to so I don't have it sitting in my inbox staring at me. Like maybe too early is as bad as too late. Then I remembered that my boss didn't hold my annual evaluation (originally scheduled for June) until October last year, so it's unlikely she's being devious with her instructions here.
  • Managed to elbow Andy in the head twice while we snuggled on the couch.
  • Tripped on Pancakes at least three times.
  • Thought I heard my work best friend walking by, so whipped around in my chair and gave her my best ridiculous bland smile with half-closed eyes. Opened them to see someone who is totally not the work best friend staring at me, disconcerted.
Any of you have any awkward to share?