Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving....and for those of you who may not be American, I hope you had a wonderful November 25.

I had a great gluttonous weekend and will be catching up on some of the mess for the next few days or so.

However, I did want to stop and say Thanks to all of you who stop by every now and then and read my little space of the internet, especially since my posting has been so spotty for the past few months.  Trust me when I say that your readership and comments are much appreciated and frequently make my day.

So, most sincerely, Thank you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Jane Austen

Dear Ms. Austen,

Over the past two weeks I have been listening to all your major novels while at work.  I must admit that your books are really a guilty pleasure of mine.  I generally don't love things that might be categorized under "chick lit" but your books have always been an exception.  I have always loved your heroines.  They are frequently some combination of smart, resourceful, and plucky.  There is the witty Elizabeth Bennet, the introspective Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood who is so cool tempered and diplomatic she could probably run a country.  Even Catherine Moreland, who is, for all intent and purpose, quite obnoxious and immature, is at least well-read and imaginative.  So seriously, what happened with Fanny Price?  She is feeble, not particularly educated or curious, and is the first to jump on any social grenade that comes her way and play the part of the martyr.  Now, I can respect the fact that perhaps you were trying to impress upon the reader the importance of being kind and moral through the actions of Fanny but I challenge that all your other characters accomplished the same.....and had grown pair.  So I would like to suggest a few possible rewrites that might help Fanny in her fictitious journey.

1.  After visiting her poor family Fanny's eyes are opened to the condescending nature of her two aunts.  As a result, her self worth builds proportionally to her indignation, and as a form of subversive vengeance she returns to Mansfield Park where she begins to raid the servants closet, stop fixing her hair and start drinking excessively (all in the name of irony).  All the while reading and educating herself (primarily in the counter culture movements of the day) that way she could outsmart her aunts while looking and acting socially beneath them.  This movement would catch on.  Later, these same people will go a little too far, stop showering, get whiny, and become too self-involved.  This group will henceforth be known as hipsters.

2.  A mystery package shows up for Fanny one day.  She opens it. The package contains a copy of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique."  She learns about the "problem with no name".  Fanny suddenly starts speaking up.  She develops enough self esteem to not only notice that Henry Crawford has the hots for her but that he is primarily attracted to her because she is so submissive and "well-behaved".  In response, she proceeds to give Mr. Crawford a tongue lashing the likes of England has never seen.  She then moves to London to pursue a career as a motivational speaker.

3.  One day while out riding her horse she runs into a gentleman making soap in a field.  Turns out, his name is Tyler Durden.  Hijinks ensues.  Mansfield Park ends up as a pile or rubble and Edmund Bertram leads a battered, but finally clear headed, Fanny to the family apothecary.

Please consider the previous three items as I believe they would add a new, and much needed, dimension to one, Fanny Price.

Thank you for your time.

Most Sincerely,
Erika

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, Monday.

Tomorrow begins another Monday.  And I am feeling a little more prepared than last week at this time.  I just hope I don't have a repeat of last Monday.

Last week on Monday I had gotten up with the intention of getting to work earlier than usual.  I woke right up to my alarm was out of bed and on schedule.  As I was making my way around our kitchen eating breakfast and putting together a lunch I noticed that a small packet of Neosporin that had been left on the counter after I had sliced a finger the night prior, was now on the floor.  Upon further inspection I found that there were tiny puncture marks, just the size of cat teeth, which left the remaining contents of the packet oozing through the holes.  I checked the ingredients....primarily petroleum jelly.  But there is a warning saying if it is ingested one should call poison control.  So I get a little panicky and wake up my husband and track down the number for the emergency vet clinic to see what they can tell us.  All in all, it took us about 20 minutes to figure out, thanks to the interwebs, that our kitten was totally fine.

So now I am behind schedule, rushing around the house to finish up and make my way out the door.  I hop in my car.  Open the garage door.  Start pulling out of the garage and...thunk!  I couldn't see anything outside my rear window so my initial thought was that I hit a dog or a child.  That's not good.  I rush out of the car to find that my husband had left our grill in the driveway the night before and now it had toppled and spilled spent charcoal all over our drive way.  As I was already frazzled from all the other drama my brain just stopped working.  I could not get from point A to point B.  Do I throw the grill in the bushes and simply drive over all the charcoal ultimately making a bigger mess?  Or do I wake up my husband and make him help me clean this all up now?  My brain kept flipping between to options while my body was frantically pacing back and forth between the front door and the mess in our driveway.  The entire time I am muttering to myself and gesticulating like George Costanza.

I finally make it to work only to realize that there is about a 1/2" split in the seam of my skirt right at my hip.  Hmmm.  So I think, you know, I am a desk monkey now.  It's not like I am running laps around a store like I used to.  Perhaps I can just discreetly cover the split with my arm whenever I end up standing up.  It takes me about 30 minutes to realize that this plan is going to end up as an epic failure as every time I shift in my chair the split gets a little bigger.  If left to it's own devices my skirt was going to have a major wardrobe malfunction by the end of the day.  Now, I am not sure if you are all aware of this but I am NOT the type of girl to keep any sort of sewing kit on my person.  In fact, my ability to quite feebly mend any piece of clothing is just shy of miraculous.  So it should be noted that I had no needle, no thread, and no safety pin.  After searching my wallet for anything I might be able to McGuyver into repairing my skirt I realized what I had to do.  I grabbed my stapler and as surreptitiously made my way into the lobby, past security and into the bathroom.  Me, my ripped skirt and stapler.  Why yes, I AM the epitome of class.

That was last Monday morning.....here's hopin' tomorrow goes a little smoother.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato....

....That line doesn't work as well written down.

You know what is crazy?  The disturbing lack of knowledge I have when it comes to produce.  I do a fair amount of cooking and baking, but I am intimidated by all the weird green and yellow and orange things at the grocery store.  It's not that I don't like them.  I LOVE fruits and veggies.  But basically, if you aren't getting it from a can or the freezer aisle and you can't just toss it in a salad, I am, more or less, at a total loss for what to do with it.

Remember Sunday's late night post?  All that random veggie based food I made?  That feast o' produce was born from this intimidation.

We started doing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through a local farm.  This Friday will be our third pick up in a 12-week season.  This entire program is awesome.  I love that it is local, sustainable, and transitioning to organic.  I love that giving me a weekly copy paper size box packed full of veggies and herbs is encouraging me to eat more produce.  However, it has also been a serious educational experience.

The first box we received I had to do a lot of googling.  There was lots of Wikipedia reading and serious scrutinizing over google image search results.  I had no idea what a fresh beet looked like.  I don't think I had eaten beets since I was like 7, and they were from a can, and I didn't like them.  (I like them now, though.) Broccoli Rabe, no clue that was even a thing.  You say Swiss Chard and I instantly think of Swiss Cheese and Chardonnay.  And all these random winter squashes which I still don't know what they are.  All those things have just always fallen into the general category of "winter squashes" aka cute things my mom buys at the grocery store to put out on the front porch with the pumpkins around Halloween.  Yeah, NO clue how to prepare those guys.  That will be another date for me and the internet later this week.

So yeah, I am open for suggestions.....

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Late

I had an insanely productive day including making a feast of a dinner from all the fresh produce we have in our fridge from the local farm.  The husband and I made a beet salad, radish dip, Caprese salad, grilled filet mignon, and homemade butternut squash soup.  It was stupid amounts of good.  But now it is late and tomorrow is Monday.  So allow me to cheat a little and merely send you over to my photo blog with a few photos from our recent trip to Prince Edward Island.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the Road

Remember last week when I was all optimistic about the weather and the seasons changing.  Yeah.  Temperatures are back up into the mid to upper 80s and flipped my air conditioning back on today.  No good.  I fought it, I really did.  Thankfully, I believe that out little vacation was just what I needed to ground myself again.

A few months ago I popped "Anne of Green Gables" into the DVD player.  A perfect movie for an afternoon by myself, when I am feeling particularly girly and want to multi-task and get some cleaning done at the same time.  As I watched Anne with and "e" get melodramatic and run through fields and stand at the edge of red cliffs overlooking the sea I had this vague memory of someone saying that the story took place on Prince Edward Island (and, indeed, much of the movie was filmed there as well).  Then, I vaguely remembered that the island was near Nova Scotia on the East Coast.  The wheels kept turning and I had the realization that I now lived on the East Coast.  Henceforth and thusly, an excursion to the island really wouldn't be that difficult.  I dropped everything, did a little internet research, made a call to my husband at work, and within 20 minutes we had planned to go (pending approval from both of our employers).

Normally, I have at least a tentative itinerary for all of our trips.  However, this time, we were both so swamped that there was barely anything planned at all.  We made requisite reservations (plane tickets, hotel, car rental) and bought a travel book.  I remember reading enough of the book at one point to find out exactly how small the island is and thought, "Good, I won't need to plan anything, we will just wing it."  And that is exactly what we did.  

We went to a winery and went to the Anne of Green Gables heritage center.  (Of course I had to drag my husband to that.)  Primarily, though, we just drove.  We drove to the eastern coast of the Island and saw the lighthouse where one of the first SOS calls from the Titanic was received.  Then North to walk along the Singing Sand beach.  The sand does, in fact, squeak and it is a little bizarre.  Another day we drove West out to the furthest tip of the island where there is a wind farm and a restaurant with plenty of windows so that you can watch for seals in the ocean.  Then quibble with your husband over whether they were actually seals or just ducks making up the little dark spots on the water's surface.  Then you can bring the waitress in on the argument.  Then you can win that argument.  There were totally seals.

The peak season for tourism (which is a MAJOR industry on the island) ends in Sept.  So we traveled  just off peak enough for the island to be fairly quiet and for many of the shops and restaurants outside Charlottetown to be closed.  For me, this only added to the charm.  Little traffic on the roads. Spotting many little shops with handmade signs saying "Closed for the Season" or "We'll see you next June!" And watching field, after field, followed by fishing village pass my window.  It was very much like being allowed into a shop after hours.  Everything staged for the following business day and only the employees bustling about doing their own behind-the-scenes work without any regard for you.  We were able to simply soak it all in.  No agenda.  No place to be.  Simply driving.  

Perhaps I have a few wires crossed, but this is when I am most content.  In a car, with my husband (and the pets too when the occasion calls for it).  The rearview reflecting all that we have left behind the road ahead leading to infinite possibilities and nothing holding us in one place.  Just constant momentum.  Constant forward motion.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Turning a Corner

Back in town after a week in Canada.  Swimming through a sea of laundry, trying to settle back into a routine and I couldn't be more excited about it.  The weather has FINALLY turned here in South Carolina and it FINALLY feels a little like fall.

 I have quite recently discovered I am not one of these "warm weather/beach" people that so many people claim to be.  I NEED my four seasons, especially spring and fall.  This whole breaking into the upper 80's and 90's through the end of September is for the birds.  This morning I had to wear a jacket to work and then on the way home I was able to roll down the windows and blast the radio.  FINALLY.      

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Power Curve-1, Erika-0

I would like to know who these proverbial self-made accomplished people are.  You know the ones.  The ones that work highly-competitive jobs, are in a constant cycle of training for their next marathon or triathlon or iron man or climb to the summit of whatever peak is trending this month, stay well-versed in current events and actually work through their reading list.  Then get inspired by a fellow athlete, news story, or child they mentor and start some epic non-profit that is eventually featured in an American Express commercial.  I would like to know who these people are because today, oh, today, I would consider hunting them down and water boarding them until they tell me their secret.  Except I am too tired.

The black hole that is the end of the calendar year has started for me.  Right now I am up to my eyeballs trying to play catch up after a truly fantastic weekend with a visiting friend, while at the same time working a couple extra hours every day to build up some extra comp time because next week "pterodactyl" and I leave for a small vacation in Canada.  (WooHoo!)  Then, whatever reprieve we have between that and the holidays will be filled holiday shopping, home improvement projects, and whatever other crazy stuff we get ourselves into.

In the mean time I am painting rooms, desperately trying to keep up with some reading (and failing miserably), and continuing trying to maintain some habitual running, and going to yoga as frequently as I can (ideally three times a week).  Although this week the working out is going to be a major fail too.  Last night we had a dinner date with friends and tomorrow we are going to see Jason Mraz in concert so you know what?  I am going to take my crankiness as a win and say that I am officially now one of those people that gets all cranky when they can't work out.  Yeah, we'll go with that.

Oh and remember how much I adore TV?  I am sort of in crisis mode right now cause this week and next week are all my premiers and I have no idea how that is going to work out for me.  I have strictly regimented afternoons already.....but I do have my dear friend TiVo.  He is a life-saver.

And with that, off I go so that I can, again, greet the morning at 4:30 AM.  It is a great time to greet from the backside but and unholy one at which to be jumping out of bed.  It truly sickens me that there was a time in my life when I though 6:30 AM was really early, and now, it is sleeping in.  Hope you are all having a good week, take a nap for me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

West Virginia, Mountain Mama, Take Me Home.......

This past weekend was the 9th year since Sept 11, 2001.  Now instead of giving you all a story about where I was when the planes hit the towers I wanted to do something a little different.  As our country goes through some growing pains (after all, in the grand scheme of things America is the global equivalent of a teenager) I wanted to tell you a different sort of story.

A few years ago "pterodactyl" and I went on a trip with a couple of friends we knew through the Navy.  We flew space available (a.k.a- on a military cargo flight, by the seat of our pants) out to Germany.  After we landed we promptly grabbed a beer and a brat at some random train station vendor then we went our respective ways with the plan to meet back in Fussen to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, spend a night in Munich then make our way back to the air base in Ramstein to wait for a flight back.

Now this was back in the day when I panicked about vacations.  My parents are not huge travelers so I always grew up with the assumption that the opportunity to travel only came along once or twice, so when I got the chance to go somewhere I adopted a "you can sleep when you are dead" philosophy.  This was no exception and I over scheduled our trip.  So by the time we met up with our friends towards the end of our vacation we were delirious and exhausted, but, in the best way possible.

The four of us went and saw the castle that inspired Disney and it was great.  Then, we all headed back to Munich, found a tidy little hostel where all four of us could share a room, and promptly made the requisite trip out to the Hofbrauhaus.  We settled into a giant table and ordered beers and let the night begin.  Eventually we started chatting with the group of guys that sat at our table, all friends from random places in northern Europe who played cards together.  As the night wore on and the beer hall got louder we started to pay attention to the polka band that was playing.

I have known various people who have done an extensive amount of traveling and say that one of the best moments in your travels is the moment you get back, get your passport stamped, and the employee stamping your passport says, "Welcome home."  And that is a really damn good moment.  However, sitting in the beer hall in Munich, I believe, will forever be imprinted in my brain in a way that outshines that moment you leave the international terminal at the airport.

As we sat there in Munich, in the giant beer hall full of drunk folks from all over the world we heard a familiar tune.  The polka band had started playing "Country Roads" by John Denver.  And even better, the entire beer hall started singing along.  I can't exactly explain why or how, but hearing couple hundred  intoxicated Europeans sing a song, heavily accented, about West Virginia made me really happy.  Happy that I was there witnessing a positive and unifying American mark on the world (however small and trivial it might be) and happy that, out of all the places in the world, I got to come home to here.


In other news:

New photo post here.

Also, I will be taking the rest of this week off and should be putting up my next post next Tuesday.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I am the Chicken Little of Home Ownership

One of the most super-awesome things about home ownership is the unholy amount of paranoia that takes over.  On any given day I am convinced there is going to be a major home disaster.  Not like a major act of god that takes out an entire city block sort of disaster, (at least then I would know it was entirely been out of my hands) but a disaster that would be the home-buying equivalent of using a pay day loan to buy a Rolex off a street vendor.

For example, I am scared that our home might have secret infestations of any and all sorts insects.  Today my husband replaced the weather stripping on our exterior doors.  There were a couple spots that were big enough to let random insects into our downstairs foyer.  We had been finding all sorts of spiders that had wandered in ranging in size from barely visible to "holy crap if I squish that it will leave a sizable stain on the carpet" big.  And, as previously discussed, I am generally convinced that all these spiders are lethal, compounding the general sense of impending doom and the belief we will need to hire and exterminator.  Last week, we started seeing these mammoth centipedes find their way in, much to the delight of our kitten who spent some quality time batting at them and watching them coil up and slide across the tiles like gross little hockey pucks.  For me, it is a logical progression to think that all these insects have formed a union and are amassing forces within the walls of our home, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

I am also scared of mold and water damage.  That stuff could be anywhere.  There could be one little spot in our shower that isn't sealed off well enough and then black mold will eat away at the structure and weaken the wall.  Then one day I will be showering, minding my own business and the walls will fall in on themselves exposing all sorts of mold and giving me life-long respiratory issues and a paralyzing fear of bathrooms.

Or,  there is my general fear that the entire unit will just fall in on us and kill us while we sleep.  As we have started painting some of the rooms we are noticing tiny cracks in the dry wall, which is natural.  This is a brand new unit, we are the first people to live here, it makes sense for the building to settle a little.  But I can't help but obsess a little.  I will call my husband into the room and look at him with a haggard face and ask if he sees that crack?  Does he think that it effects the structural integrity of the home?

And those are just a few of the home-related things.  There is always the silly fear looming in the back of my mind about, I don't know, someone robbing the Home Depot down the street or the sushi place turning into a strip club overnight and the property values in the neighborhood plummeting.  What happens then?  What do we do with our insect and mold infested condo that is 2 seconds from falling in on itself and now located in the combat zone?  Do we develop and elaborate insurance fraud scheme, route the claim money to the Caymans and hope for the best?  I don't know!

So, I do what any intelligent person would do.  I remind myself that I am over reacting (good idea), force myself to examine how unfounded my fears are to begin with (good idea), then I educate myself my turning on HGTV (bad idea).  Watching HGTV (I sort of love "Income Property" and "Holmes on Homes") is a lot like researching an ailment on WebMD.  You get just enough knowledge to make you dangerously stupid.  I have all the same concerns, plus a few extra.  Now I just get to sound a little smarter when freaking out about them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Opps!

Yikes!  The husband had today and tomorrow morning off so he sorta hijacked my whole evening.  (Went and saw Scott Pilgrim for the second time....LOVE IT, then ended up watching loads of movie trailers on the Apple TV.)

Will post tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We Used to Write Letters.....

I am not a particularly sensitive person.  I like to think I have a pretty thick-skin.  My feathers don't ruffle easily.  Except when it comes to.....well, I guess, art in general.  Photos and illustrations that are particularly moving will get me misty eyed.  I have already discussed the ability for books to make me weepy.  Movies and certain TV episodes will cause me to break down in such away that "pterodactyl" will look at me, half smiling, and ask "are you okay?"  I tell him to shut up and usually throw a pillow at him.  (Though I am pretty sure he finds the whole scenario endearing.)

In any case,  I am not sure I can put my thumb on it.

Maybe I am just having an emotional little day for no real reason.

Maybe it is because I am just the right age to barely remember when there was no internet and this is so advanced it is mind blowing.

Maybe it is because I grew up with a father that holds a true reverence for childhood and that was passed on to me even while I was just a kid.

Maybe it is because since graduating high school I have moved 7 times (well 8 if you count the month I was in Germany for school) so I have a lot of "I used to"s in my life and my definition of "home" gets hazier and more all-encompassing every year (both a good and a bad thing).

I am not totally sure what it was but this seriously moved me to tears, like REALLY moved me to tears, and I thought I would pass it on..... 


(Note:  There will be lots of windows that pop up on your desktop.  They aren't ads or anything.  Leave your cursor alone and just sit back and enjoy the show.  Also, NPR tells me it must be viewed in Safari or Google Chrome.  The linked article also has some more info about the project - but watch the video first.)

P.S.  This week's photo is here...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Post

Hey all!

I just wrote a guest post over at Ramblings of a Singleton, a great little blog about relationships.  So if you ever had any questions about how me and the pterodactyl got to be me and the pterodactyl, go here and check it out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Basements don't fix everything.

I never thought I would say this.........but I really miss Midwest weather.  It is a thought that has crossed my mind over the past few weeks when I would briefly step outside to go to the car and would feel like I was drowning due to the humidity.  It was like atmospheric water boarding.  But this week is for an entirely different reason.

There is a hurricane scheduled to make it's way up the coast towards the end of the week.  I should say up front that by all accounts of every forecast I have seen (and there have been several), right now Charleston does not appear to be in the path of this thing.  Which is super awesome.  To say the least.  I have to admit though, I am both super annoyed and fairly confused about the whole hurricane process.

I grew up in tornado alley so every spring there would be epic thunderstorms that shook the entire house and they actually grew to be fairly endearing.  Sometimes they would get super nasty and you would have to keep an eye out your window and check for hail.  If things REALLY went down hill you would pack everyone up head to the basement for like an hour or so and hope there would still be an upstairs when you emerged.  But you were comforted to know that the sheer probability of that amount of destruction is, on the whole, quite unlikely.  That's it.  No preparation.  The entire thing is over in a matter of a few hours.  Wham.  Bam.  Thank you ma'am.

But I have been glued to the weather for the past few days on this thing.  Will it change course?  Could I ride it out?  Will I have to hightail it out of town?  (Which let's just all pause and recognize that there is the possibility that I could get run out of an uber southern city by a storm named Earl.  That is far to Dixie Chicks for me to even handle.  Totally ludicrous.)

Then I get on the computer cause I have heard that there are emergency kits we are supposed to make up for just such things as hurricanes.  We are supposed to have extra water etc. etc.  The list, or should I say booklet, made me even more confused cause the emergency item list was like 5 pages long.  All of a sudden I am envisioning this bomb shelter we are going to have to build to contain all this emergency stuff, 90% of which we have floating around the house already. (You know, things like: salt, sugar, flour--they were on the list).  But the bomb shelter idea is totally counter intuitive cause it would be underground and that would be the first thing to flood.  So scratch that plan.  This led to more questions: If I have it in my house right now, do I need to buy extra to fulfill this kit?  (I am just type "A" enough to be compelled to do something like that)  Do I need to stash all of this together in a safe place like the basement (no Erika, no basement, I need to break that instinct)?  If I have to evacuate, surely I shouldn't have to bring my salt and sugar with me right?  Or will there be a shortage in the Western portion of the state, or wherever I end up?  I don't even know!!!  

Don't get me wrong we are prepared, well, as prepared as one can really be.  It is just the whole experience is really foreign to me.  Like I said, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms involved no preparation and had the same rules as the cold war, stay away from windows, duck and cover.  I miss that simplicity

The whole thing made me think of the "Slap bet" on "How I Met Your Mother" and the discussion on whether it is worse to get slapped out of the blue, or to know when you will get slapped so you can prepare/agonize to ridiculous lengths over it.  I have discovered I prefer the first.  This whole, having time to prepare a.k.a having a whole week to spas out, is for the birds.

I hear there is another tropical storm forming that should be moving toward land like next week?  So I have to deal with this whole will it/won't it thing again?  Cause I needed something else in my life to senselessly obsess over.  I can just feel my hair turning even more gray as I type this.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I don't think there is a 12-step for this.

This past week I developed an addiction to audio books.  It's bad.  Really bad.

Audio books are not totally new to me.  In fact they have frequently been a source of annoyance between pterodactyl an I on road trips.  We will pick up a good one before a long trip and no matter how much I like the book I am just not mentally stimulated enough to stay awake.  So within about 20 minutes of hitting play I am passed out in the car, mouth hanging open, most likely drooling.  I will stay like this for another half hour.  When I come to I promptly hit the power button on the radio and ask pterodactyl to summarize what I have missed.  Understandably this makes him crazy.

However, a few weeks ago I thought maybe I should try listening to a book while running.  I don't like talking to anyone while running but sometimes music makes me a little bored, so an audiobook made sense.  So I bought "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", threw it on my ipod and it was really good.  So I thought I would try listening at work being that the projects I have prioritized on my desk right now are little more than glorified data entry.

The workday just flew by.  My eyes and fingers and one tiny portion of my brain went on auto pilot while the rest of my brain and my ears took in the story.  At one point I had to run to the bathroom so I paused the book, pulled the earbuds out of my head, and then had to remember where I was.  It was AWESOME!

Although I have discovered a few flaws in this my new metaphorical workplace heroine.  First, it can get a little awkward when the book suddenly takes a turn in a racy direction.  "Dragon Tattoo" gets a little messed up at times and I found myself remembering where I was and start looking around to make sure no one was standing behind me, only to remember that I am wearing headphones and no one else can hear what I am listening to.  Second, when it comes to books and movies I am kind of a sensitive little snowflake.  Last week I also listened to "Water for Elephants" which is the perfect flavor of melancholy to entice the most bitter of sobs from me.  So here I am, at work,  trying to be all professional and what not, typing away at the keyboard, looking straight at the computer screen, hoping against all odds that my cube-mate will not need to grab my attention for at least another 5 minutes cause I am choking back tears like a champ.  I am prying my eyelids open and wide as I can and looking through my top lashes so the tears won't actually leave my eyes.  I am carefully controlling my breathing through my mouth so no one will hear how sniffly I have suddenly become.  It was truly pathetic.

Now running out of audio book at work is like the worst thing that can happen to me.  I get bored and drowsy immediately.  I get super distractible.    All of a sudden I need to check my email and my calendar every five minutes for NO REAL REASON.  I also get so anxious to go home that my skin begins to crawl.

So I did the only thing I could do.  I got a library card (I buy lots of books instead of borrowing, hence not having one previously).  Sadly, the closest branch of the library does not have a very good selection so I am going to have to relearn how to request book transfers etc.  But that also means I need to develop a list of books to "read."  So I am open for suggestions.  Right now I have some random FBI thriller and "Light on Snow" by Anita Shreve.  So that should get me through this week.  Any other suggestions?  Please pass them on......

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Diversion

We had good friends come into town early today!!!!  So instead of writing a post I would like to divert you to my photo blog and a photo of my husband looking all badass.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Who killed Laura Palmer?

NOTE:  My husband started reading one of my posts over my shoulder the other day and decided he didn't like me using his first name in this blog.  He said, "Don't you call yourself 'the fish'?"  (I don't, I use my first name.) "So why don't you call me, like, I dunno, the pterodactyl."  To which I promptly responded with, "Ok, yes, yes I will."  To which, he winced and said, "Oh shit."  So from henceforth my husband will be referred to as pterodactyl.....well, at least for the next couple weeks.



I think I have previously mentioned how exhausting pterodactyl's work schedule is.  It sucks, it really does.  Out of every month, he has two legit weekends off.  And by that I mean, not only are his days off actually on Sat and Sun, they are also days where his primary goal isn't to shift his sleep cycle to accommodate his next rotation.  So every couple weeks, like clockwork, two days before his first weekend off, he gets exuberant.  There really is not other word for it.  It is just like the most ornery, sugar coated, high-as-a-kite optimism one could ever have.  You could probably punch pterodactyl square in the mouth on that one Thursday every month and he would thank you, hug you, and tell you how good it feels to be alive.  It's ridiculous.  

As a result, he takes all this joy out on me.  Which, if that meant he cleaned the house, cooked me dinner, learned various DIY projects, developed a 12-step plan for world peace, or found a cure for diabetes....that would be super.  Instead, like a kid that pulls the hair of the girl he has a crush on, he develops the quickest and most efficient ways to get under my skin.  This past week, that included trying to scare me.  (It should be noted, I grew up with a father who was a notorious prankster as a child, and would frequently jump out from behind open doors to scare me when I was about 3 years old.  To this day, when coming home late in the evening, I steal a peek in that small crevice between the door and the hinge to make sure no one is waiting for me......I do not scare easy.) 

So let me paint a scene for you.......

On Thursday I came home late in the evening, fairly-zened out after yoga.  We eat dinner and I want to hit the rack early.  As per usual Nick beelines it upstairs while I buzz around playing slave to what constitutes my late night, borderline ADD and OCD.  (Is the stove off?  Where are my glasses?  Did the dog go out?  Is there water in the Brita filter?  Is there still wet laundry in the washer?)  After running around the main floor of the house for 10 minutes I round up the 2 cats and one dog to make our way upstairs.  I walk into our bedroom and out of the corner of my eye I see pterodactyl, standing stalk still in the corner behind a dresser, eyes like that of a deer caught in headlights, eating a drumstick ice cream cone.  After quickly checking over my shoulder to make sure there were no red curtains or little people speaking backwards, I critically looked at him, "What the hell?  It's like a freaking David Lynch film in here."

"I was gonna try and scare you....."

*sigh*  He's going to have to try harder than that.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I know I won't, I know I won't, I know I won't.......

My husband Nick finally broke down and joined the gym that our good friends go to.  It is a CrossFit gym, and for those of you who may be unfamiliar with that particular line of gyms you will generally get two responses from people who go or know someone that goes.  1.  "Oh my gosh, it is so awesome.  Just incredible, you wanna go?" or 2.  "Oh my gosh, that shit is crazy."  And on occasion you find someone who will combine both of those responses into one like, "It is totally awesome.  I almost die every week." 

The gyms, from what I gather, are designed around minimal equipment, a good deal of personal training and developing a social culture and a healthy competition between the people that work out there.  Which is awesome, totally up Nick's alley.  The second workout he attended caused him stumble out of the car once he parked outside our place and promptly vomit.  I called him from work later that afternoon and he was an odd blend of super pumped (that he worked so hard) but also really embarrassed (that he puked in our parking lot in broad daylight).

So now that he has joined I have had to dodge another round of "So when you joining the gym?"  Which I just can't make myself do.  I could barely get up the guts to use the YMCA membership we had a few years ago and work out in front of the overworked moms and senior citizens.  Can you imagine me trying to saunter in and count out loud the number of squats, push ups, dead lifts, or whatever I manager to do in the allotted amount of time?  Hardly.  I once looked Nick dead in the eye and said, "Nick if I ever went I would stop half way through and run out crying."  He laughed, cause he knew I was right. 

But that is really only half of it.  As I have gotten older I have realized that I kind of have an issue with authority.  Not across the board, just in particular circumstances.  For example, if you are paying my salary, hand me an assignment and say have this done by next week and then leave me the hell alone,  we are fine.  In fact you might become my favorite boss ever.  However, if you in any way shape or form make things personal, as in you presume to know and understand exactly what I am capable or incapable of doing, I don't handle that well.  It doesn't even matter if you are yelling at me or cheering me on, the second I hear "You can...." and the sentence doesn't end with permission to get a piece of cake, then I start putting forth less effort on purpose.  It is like my basic mode of operation is, "Oh you think know I can do what?  I'll show you what I can do, I can stop" and then, in the most passive way possible, regain control and authority over any situation. 

Moral of the story.  Any sort of boot camp would be the end of me.  I would get pissed and just to be spiteful go home, eat everything in my freezer, and not leave my couch for 3 weeks.  Basically, I would turn into a Cathy cartoon and no one wants that.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stop what you are doing, read this book.

I grew up in the Midwest.  Well, in the Kansas City area to be specific.  Growing up I really did not like it.  It wasn't cool, there wasn't anything to do, it was totally lame.....insert generic whining of a 15 year old here. 

Then I attended college at a small liberal arts college in Northern Iowa (Wartburg, for those of you who care to stalk me later) which was in a pretty college town surrounded by farm communities and the fairly, industrial city of Waterloo 20 minutes away.  When I attended school, the town had a 24 hour Hy-Vee and a WalMart that closed at (I think) 11pm, maybe 10pm.  I became the girl that came from a city to many of the kids who grew up on a farm or perhaps one generation away from one.  I occasionally went home with them on weekends and learned how to catch chickens and run in cornfields (which, if you have never wandered in a cornfield in the fall, I highly recommend it).

Then I got married and moved away.  Since then, my husband and I have buzzed up and down both coasts like a 5 year old that has had too much soda.  Some places we have fallen in love with and have landed on our "let's consider retiring here" list. Other places have made us angry, subversively, hostile individuals that will fantasize about shanking you bic pen should you rub us the wrong way. 

But one thing I never expected was how terribly defensive I would get about home.  And not home, as in tarnishing the good name of Kansas City, truth be told it is a GREAT city and all but we have the Royals and the Chiefs, that doesn't leave much room for bragging rights.  I mean home in terms of the Midwest as a whole.  Cause, well, I am just going to say it.  To many people on the coast the Midwest is America's redheaded step child.  Seriously. 

I once had a janitor in Waterford, Connecticut condescendingly say to me upon finding out that I was (at the time) 23 and married, "Oh, God bless you, they do marry young out there."  You know, cause apparently no one in Connecticut gets married until they are like 35 even though there is a GIANT MILITARY BASE in Groton which means several married 18 year-olds? 


Or, my fave, a gentleman in Seattle that found out I was 25 and married (maybe I need to start lying about my age, seriously, what is it with guys asking how old I am because I wear a ring?) who said, "Oh well you are from a small town, right?"--"Well I grew up in Kansas City"--"Well that's a small town"--"No, not, really"--"Yeah, it is."  On the off chance that you are laughing at me and agreeing with the numb nuts that argued with me in Seattle, I would like to refer you to this Wikipedia entry.  No, we are not New York, LA, or Chicago, but you can hardly refer to us as a "small" "town". 

So here's my point.  Despite the fact that the first time I was ever on a working farm was in 6th grade on a field trip, despite the fact that any goat or sheep I ever touched before that field trip was at the zoo, despite the fact that I grew up within walking distance of a sizable mall, and despite the fact that my parents can barely grow the most low maintenance of house plants much less anything resembling actual agriculture, I am still lumped in with a whole small town, farming culture that was never my own.  Why?  Because I grew up in fly-over country.  I grew up in a part of the country that is frequently dismissed as a bunch of undereducated, under cultured, hicks that should be hidden away in the prairie and forgotten about.  And frankly, it pisses me off.

And FINALLY, here is a book that stands up for us.  In addition, to being super interesting, probably one of the creepiest (not like Stephen King creepy but more like they blended the movie Traffic and The Green Zone creepy) books I have read in a long time.  The author, Mr. Nick Reding, is and incredible writer who seamlessly weaves the argument that what happens to middle America happens to the rest of America and as such the Midwest and it's problems shouldn't be swept under the rug.

So do me a solid.  Check out this book!   
  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

LOS LINKS!

While I was on hiatus from writing we accidently got another cat.  This is him. 
We named him Bingley.  Which, naturally, has been shortened to Bing when we are yelling at him not to scratch the couch, jump on the kitchen counter, scale the curtains like a ninja, or blitzkrieg our other cat, Lizzy.  "Bing" in turn, then lead us to calling him "Los Links" due to this commercial...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33FVUJJyJqA 

So please, go ahead, imagine my husband and I shaking our fists in the air, exclaiming, "LOS LINKS!!!!" while this tiny little orange cat immediately drops what he is doing, gives us a WTF look, then prances off.  Never a dull moment here I tell ya.

I say we accidently got him cause, in classic Nick and Erika fashion, we never intended to look for another cat.  In fact, we had talked about how we had the freedom to get another pet, now that we owned the condo, but maybe it would be best to simply leave it at two.  So much for that.

I had taken our cat, Lizzy, to the vet and here was this little orange cat in a cage behind reception.  In passing I asked about him fully expecting him to be waiting to be picked up by owners or some such thing when the receptionist said that he was the last in a litter of strays that was adopted out and that he had been the last little guy for a few weeks.  Cue the sound of shattering glass that was my heart falling to my feet. 

Ever the rationalist, though, I left him there only to immediately put on pouty face and little kid voice (you know the one, every girl has her own version) when Nick got home.  And how does Nick respond when I tell him about this cute little kitten?  Does he reinforce my mature decision?  No.  He looked at me with a great deal of scrutiny and said, "Well, why didn't you bring him home?  Major fail, Erika."  The next morning, he looked at me and said, "What was the name of the other guy in 'Pride and Prejudice' cause you know the new cat will have to stay in theme with the pet names.  Oh!  It was Bingley, wasn't it?  So when we going to go get him?"  And as soon as Nick had named the cat it was only a matter of hours until we were back at the vets office filling out adoption paperwork.

And that is why my husband and I might be good people, but really shouldn't be taken seriously as adults.   

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today I am cheating.....

Today, in lieu of a new post I would like to redirect you all to a new blog I am starting.  I will still be writing this one, however, I am also adding a photo blog to the mix. 

Please stop by and let me know what you think!

http://thefishalsoshoots.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

They are testing the perimeter.....

This is our first full summer living here in Charleston part deux and I have clearly forgotten what summers here are like.  To give you a bit of an idea my runs are miserable due to the fact that I just plain over heat.  My legs are fine, my lungs are fine and I am sweating like a pig but it doesn't help because running in South Carolina during the summer is like trying to run through a steam dryer.  It is so stupid humid that my little herb garden is getting mildew and I am hoping against all odds that my little basil and rosemary will pull through.  But as cranky as the heat and humidity makes me that is not my biggest issue.

I had sort of forgotten what it is like to live in both a part of the country and a part of town that facilitates the growth of devil spawn, mutant-sized insects.  Seriously.  We live right off protected wetlands.  And when I say we live right off of them I don't mean that they are like across the highway, I mean you head to the back of our building and there is 4 ft of grass then, BAM!  Trees, brush and, presumably swamp, or something, I don't really know, you won't catch me heading back there.  My friend, Amy, as nicknamed our complex Jurassic Park.  If you hang out at the pool (which faces the wetlands) it doesn't take much imagination to see the trees shake a little then T-Rex spring from the woods with Laura Dern in his mouth or something.

Needless to say, this whole situation has turned me into a giant moron.  I look like a fugitive every time I step out my front door.  Eyes darting everywhere, hyper alert, doing everything but carrying a mirror on a stick to peer around corners.  I took the dog out a few days ago and a frog jumped on my (oh yeah, there are frogs and lizards too but they don't gross me out as much) and I just assumed the frog was a moth (basically my kryptonite) and I screamed, loudly, at like 11 pm.  That wasn't the first time something like that has happened either.

This has also caused several odd phone calls to my dad.  Growing up in the Midwest I have a very justified paranoia of spiders.  Not scared of them in principal, but convinced that each and everyone I see is a brown recluse.  Some of you out there should be familiar with that.  The ritual of shaking out your boots the first time you pull them out of the closet each season to make sure there weren't any recluse spiders hiding in there waiting to take off your foot.

There have been two great variations of these phone calls.  The first where I wouldn't get out of the car due to the fact that there was an unrecognized (and still unknown) spider the size of a damn golf ball in my garage.  Car door open, pulled in the garage, totally hot outside and I freeze.  You know cause spiders are like T-Rexes, their vision is based on movement.  And with my eyes not leaving the spider I reach for my phone. 

Then, after meeting up with the Andre the Giant of spiders in my garage the smaller ones that made it into my house lost some of their intimidation so I now whack them with shoes.  But I am still convinced that they might be poisonous so I do they only sensible thing and carefully collect the little spider corpse in a bag so that I can text a photo to my dad and/or save it till my husband gets home to verify that no, it is not full of deadly venom and no, we do not need to have the condo fumigated.

Oh, I am so, so ready for fall....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Crime Report

I had planned to pretty much never write about my job, but this was too good to pass up. 

Now, it should be noted that I really like my job.  It is flexible, low key and frequently challenging in one way or another.  One thing it is not, though, is exciting and ripe with great stories the way it was working in retail.  So when I stumbled across this little gem last week it pretty much made my day.

Last week my boss had asked me to poke around on our server at work and search out a document that he needed and had trouble finding.  Now the server is frequently cleaned out with the exception of a few folders, our tech writing folder being one of those.  So I am running all sorts of searches in one window and in another window I am absent mindedly sifting through the titles of documents when I come across a document titled "Crime Report" which has been stashed away on the server since like 1999....this is obviously not what I am looking for but my interest is piqued nonetheless.  I open it up to find a short anecdote written by, what I can only imagine, is a former employee.

I quickly minimize the window and glance around making sure that no one is lurking in the aisle behind me. Instantly became thankful that my cube mate was out that day. I then pulled the window back up and began reading as quickly as I could.

"Crime Report" is a simply story.  It is a narration of an employee (the author) who is clearly disgruntled, going out to eat Chinese food and then upon return finding the project manager's car parked illegally and then somehow running into the car!  The rest of the "story" is diatribe on how worthless and out of touch the author thinks said project manager is.  And the best part?  Names were named, kids!  There is a byline for the story, the project manager is called out by name, and then it was saved on the networked work server.  Seriously?  Has anyone else ever stumbled across something like this at work?  I couldn't even believe it.  How dumb can you be?

Needless to say I did what anyone would do. I very quietly closed the document and kept it on the server.  It is always good to know that it is there in case I have a bad day and need a laugh.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Home

For the past few weeks I have wanted to post.  Thought of posting.  Planned out topics to write about and noted them in my planner.  But I haven't been able to actually make myself sit down and write on this blog.  If you had asked my why not a few weeks ago all I would have been able to give you is a vague, "Ehh, I don't really feel like it."  Truth is I have been feeling like anything I would end up writing would be disingenuous.  Like I was forcing someone else to write an anecdote I quickly related.  That seemed so silly though, until last week. 

Last week my husband hit the nail on the head.  (This is why I married the guy.)  Out of the blue he looked at me and said, "You know, we have been living in this place [the new condo] for a couple months now and I still don't feel at home."  Then clouds parted, there was lighting striking a light bulb above my head, a big booming voice, the pets started talking the whole nine yards and I knew he was right.  We are still barely unpacked and for two people who know, maybe enough people in town to count on two hands, we are stupidly busy.  For crying out loud we somehow were socially double booked this past Saturday evening.  Which sounds like it should be awesome, right?  Not particularly, friends.

Little known fact, I am a pretty closeted introvert.  If given the choice of going out in a large group or going out with one trusted friend I will always choose the one friend.  If invited on an outing with several people, I will probably go, cause I feel socially obligated to.  I will very likely have a good time.  I may even be with people I adore and I may have a great time, but secretly I will also be thinking of how nice it would have been to spend the afternoon at home doing whatever I want.  (There are a few exceptions to that rule.)  So with the bombardment of summer activities, cause Charleston just rolls like that, I am beginning to feel like I am a double agent in my own life.  I don't even know who I am working for at the moment.  I have just kept going through the motions to avoid getting caught in my own lie and it is making me a very cranky and unhappy individual.

But things are on upswing.  My brother-in-law just moved into his own place after staying with us for a month.  While I adore the boy and he was the best house guest ever, you never stop playing hostess no matter how long someone stays in your home, and that is exhausting.  Plus, you never realize how much you love time on your own and the independence to walk around your own home in your undies until you can't do that anymore.

In addition, I am taking serious ownership of my own time.  I am now going to yoga three times a week and I have started running again.  The running is miserable, thanks to the 90 degree weather combined with the like 3,000% humidity down here but I figure that starting to run in this crap will set me up with a solid base for fall.  I have also started cooking again.  Which for those of you who know me or have been following this blog for any decent amount of time, you probably understand how insane things must have been around here for me to stop cooking.  I still haven't started all the reading I used to do but I think tonight might be the night for that too.

Right now I am planning on trying to set a blogging schedule for Tue and Sun evenings.  We will see how that works out.  I am also considering putting together a photo-a-day blog. Perhaps next week.  So here we go.  Charleston part 2 subpoint B: Life as Homeowners and both employed full-time.  Ready, go.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Because I like TV a little too much....

It is that time of year again.  All my season finale's have aired and now the weather is nice, so I will  probably end up being a better person for the next few months, maybe.  Nonetheless, I miss my TV friends.  Although, to truly be honest, several of this years finales were missed due to my lack of cable and total distraction with things like employment and home owning.  But I was able to watch the REALLY important ones.  (Was it just me or was the "How I Met Your Mother" finale a little weak?  Not bad, just weak.)

I did want to share some thoughts on one show in particular, and that is Glee. 

Glee shares a very special spot in my heart for reasons that I could not fully describe to most of my close friends, let alone, a blog (but I will try).  I am sure everyone has had a show like Glee.  A show that appears when you need it to. 

For me, Glee's pilot teaser was aired right about the time my husband moved to San Diego with the Navy before I joined him there a few months later.  At this point I was 100% burnt out at my job and to be frank, was barely going through the motions at work.  And anyone who knows me will tell you I am happiest when I am working and feeling productive.  Being as such, I knew I was moving to a temporary situation where I would definitely be unemployed for about 3 months (and for an undetermined amount of time after that, once we made our move to our new duty station).  I found the prospect of having zero commitments both relieving and daunting at the same time.  The most daunting part being that I had no direction for what I wanted to do with all that time and in what direction I was going to steer my life once we had settled down a little.

Then along came this show.  It made me think about the crazy, relentless, optimistic, fearless, can-do (if not frequently angsty) kid I was in high school and in college.  You know, back in the days when we did what we were supposed to do AND what we wanted to do.  And, for me at least, many times those things were one in the same.  It really made me wonder where that girl had wondered off....I needed to find her number again. 

She was the girl that if she wanted write, she wrote, she had a computer, right?  Or if she wanted to sew, she would try and sew, after all, her best friend had a sewing machine.  Instead of this adult who got totally emotionally winded by the end of the day by a job that made her feel two inches tall and whose logic was, writing would be such a waste of time, no one would read it.  Or I can't do (fill in the blank with virtually anything) because it would: cost too much money, take to much time to learn, or clearly if I can hire someone to do it for me then that means you need to have a skill set I don't have and then I'll screw the whole thing up.

Then, I realized, that I actually had it better than the sleep deprived high school kid I was cause I was making way more money than I was in high school, I was legal, and I didn't have my parents around to subversively influence every decision I made (look up overachiever in the dictionary and I will be pictured in my high school cheerleading uniform, National Honor Society pin, speech trophies, play programs, etc. etc. etc.).  I could actually do whatever I wanted to do.

So the short end to all that is, yes, Glee has a special place in my heart.  It had me at the show choir version of "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.  Which, when pressed, I would have to say if Nick and I had a song, it would be that one.  I can hear my mom rolling her eyes from half way across the country.  Yeah, I realize it isn't romantic, but we are kinda ornery like that.

With that being the longest intro to what I really wanted to get at with this post some thoughts (I will try to remain spoiler-free) on Glee.

1.  My biggest concern is that this is going to jump the shark soon.  One of the most charming things about the show for me was that while there is a lot of exaggeration the show is fairly down-to-earth which I saw it start to lose and go the route of "Ugly Betty" towards the end of this season.  In the same way that "Ugly Betty" started out as a cute fish out of water story then turned a little to telenovella with everyone in and out of prison or comas, the bit with Rachel Berry and her mom, toed that soap opera line a little close.  And while I really appreciate the fantastic little bits of really solid dramatic acting (that usually end up in Kurt story lines) I really hope the show lays off of some of the Public Service Announcement themes and lofty mature speeches made by high schoolers.  That only worked once and it was on Dawson's Creek.  Those kids could wax philosophically, but they weren't funny, I can tell you that.

2.  I really hope they keep Idina Menzel as a recurring character....and make her sing more.

3.  High school girl Erika has a major crush on Phinn.  Could you pass him this note and have him check yes, no, or maybe?

4.  Can someone let the kid who plays Puck sing more?  That guy has a voice.

5.  How has Josh Groban guested on this show twice now and "acted" (which, god bless him, he just can't do) but not sung.  How is that even possible?

6.  I heart every scathing and wonderful line that leaves Sue Sylvestor's mouth.

7.  Can Neil Patrick Harris come back too?

And on a final, totally tangential note.....

Dear Matt Damon,
If you are the type of celebrity to randomly google your own name and sift through references for hours and hours and finally arrive on my blog, I implore you, come back to 30 Rock.  That half hour season finale of 30 Rock was simply not enough wacky, airline pilot, Damon for me. 

Much appreciated,
Erika

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A little like the prodigal son....only not as epic.

You all like how last time I mentioned that I was going to get back into the routine of posting regularly?  Well joke was on you all....and me.  Cause I meant it, but that didn't happen.

We moved on the 14th and the actual moving process too like two weeks.  It was finally on the 25th of May that we got the last box of stuff out of our old apartment.  I guess that is what happens when you move yourself.  And we are still unpacking and shuffling a few pieces of furniture around, but everything is actually functional.  However, it took like two weeks to get our cable and internet transferred.  I REALLY hate our provider but we live in a one provider neighborhood and I just refuse to buy any sort of mini satellite dish....doesn't really jive with someone that moves every 2 - 3 years.  So we had no choice but to wait.  (We did however go out and buy an HD antenna so that I could catch the finale of LOST....if anyone wants to chat about it I will be more than happy too.  It is one of those things that I sit around and just hope someone brings it up in any conversation.)

All that being said, I am finally in a place that I can start developing a routine again.  So bear with me, I will be back, I promise.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The past few weeks have somehow felt like a primetime office sitcom, only not as funny, and more me pulling out my hair.

Here I am, kids!  Alive and well.  I apologize for my sudden, unexplained hiatus.  The past few weeks have been wacky to say the least so I want to try fill you in a little before I try and resume a regular posting schedule.

Let's start on April 8.  That is the day my husband and I decided to impulse buy a condo.  I really wish there were a way to say that without making us sound like we have more money than sense (which, believe me, we don't) or like we are just total idiots.  But when push comes to shove, by definition, I guess it is an impulse buy.  The way Nick and I have adapted to the military lifestyle of moving with the frequency nomads and orders changing at the midnight hour has been to simply fly by the seat of your pants and always keep an eye out for opportunity.  Then, be ready to make the plunge cause you never know when you will get a second chance.  So when we found out that we could by a really nice and super affordable townhome, essentially across the street, have the builder's pay our lease break and foot the bill for a large portion of closing, in a town that has a large transitional population that would lend itself well to keeping property as a rental once we move, and at a time in our life when our family unit plus possessions is small enough to fit in a space that is both small enough AND big enough to be super desirable to future renters.  Well, you see how it would have been hard to say no to such a proposition.  So there has been lots of phone calls, emails, and paperwork with that.

Skip to April 11 (mind you, 3 days after the decision to purchase the townhome) we get a random letter in the mail from a collection agency saying we owe about $1000 in back taxes for property tax on our car from the state of Connecticut for 2007 and 2008.  Which is odd because we lived in CT for 3 months in 2006.....hmmmmm.  I did a little google search and found out that this particular collection agency is known for being rather harassing too......super.  I won't bore you all with tax law info from the state of CT, but I will tell you we were right and they were wrong (HA! Triumph!).  But nevertheless, that meant ANOTHER round of panicked phone calls and emails to our lawyer friend, an official visit to the legal office on the airforce base and ANOTHER dubious pile of paperwork.  (If anything can be said about me, it is that I am organized and diligent to the extreme when recording things.)

The following week my husband and I got the worst stomach flu I have had in YEARS.  Like I lost 7lbs in 4 days sort of sick.  Like I bunched up the rug on our bathroom floor and used it as a pillow while I covered up with a random dirty beach towel cause it was the closest thing sort of sick.

Then the following Tuesday I started my new job.  Which, by the way, is kinda freaking awesome.  But has also been a giant black hole for time even before I started working.  I am working as a technical writer for a big company you have probably never heard of that has their hands busy in a gazillion different things.  But the department I work in primarily deals with software development.  As such they are, like, break your kneecaps serious about nondisclosure....hence my super vague description.  And yes, I might be making the kneecap thing up.  It would really just be serious jail time and/or a heavy fine.  Either way, consequences serious enough to warrant 5 hours of background check paperwork and THAT is no exaggeration.  (What I say about eating up time?)

So, my friends, if you have been wondering where I was, fear not.  I had not forgotten about you.  I was merely in room somewhere with a pen and piece of paper filling out my last name, first name, middle initial, current address, current phone, social security number, addresses for the past 7 years (FYI - legally I have had 9), so on and so on and so on.......    

Monday, April 12, 2010

Twilight: A tale of love and ridicule

Ok, I can just hear some of you totally losing respect for me on the spot but hear me out. 

I am one of the millions that have gotten sucked into the Twilight book series.  I am not proud.  I am not going to try and argue the literary merit of books, cause let's face it, 50 years from now the Meyer estate will be lucky if the social phenomenon (much less the books themselves) are noted in history.

What I will say is Stephanie Meyer wrote some serious literary candy, made me read 4 somewhat lengthy books in record time, and probably tricked some little tweens out there into reading Romeo and Juliet and/or Wuthering Heights.  So good for her.  But this is only tangential to where I want to go with this post.  

 This is my husband's Kindle.  You know, the one he took with him on the sub when it was going out for sea trials.  

I can tell you that he hasn't read Moby Dick, that download was just a decoy.  The decoy didn't work.  He was still given an endless amount of shit by all the other members of the crew.

This is why I married the guy.  He never fails to surprise or amuse me.  

I started reading the books back in March of '09.  I remember the month I started reading them (and plowed through them faster than I thought I would)because it was right before Nick relocated from Seattle to San Diego.  I wasn't able to make the same move until three months later, so yes, I was looking for a little escapist literature.  And if you didn't know, Nick and I were high school sweethearts (pause for obligatory "awwww"...I know, it's cute, whatever).  So both of us have a soft spot for high school themed crap.  On top of that I am on a constant mission to try and get Nick to read, cause the guy just doesn't and it makes me sad.  So, after I finished the first installment I was all like, "Nick, I can't tell if you would love this or hate it so just read the first chapter."  This was the last we discussed Twilight....Until a couple weeks later, after he left with the boat.  Then, I started getting emails from him while he was underway, talking about the characters in the book as if he were 15 and they were kids in his class.   So crazy!

Now it's become like this bizarre bonding activity for us.  He'll make some reference to the books out of the blue (most likely just to get chuckle out of me).  And I will look at him sideways and all squinty-eyed and say, "Really?  That is really where your mind goes when you hear this Killers song?"  And in return I didn't have to drag him kicking and screaming to the midnight showing of New Moon.  (Oh, yeah, we are also avid people watchers and there is no better place to people watch than a midnight showing of some super hyped premier.)  We ordered tickets at the giant screen theater in Charleston, got a six-pack of beer at the concession stand, and sat back to watch all the people crazier than we were.  Great fun.

One of my more favorite moments happened last month when we went down to Target to procure our copy of New Moon....don't judge.....they are great movies to pop on while multi-tasking like a champ, plus we have developed drinking games around them (if you like I will post the rules later).  Target had conveniently placed several copies of the movie at the register.  Standing next to the display in line was some poor schmuck of a guy, clearly picking up a copy for his wife, girlfriend, niece, neighbor he wants to hook up with, or what have you.  Nick spots this guy and remembers that I am with him, so he has a scapegoat.  He shoots me a knowing look and quite firmly says, "Well go grab it, I'm not going to."  I roll my eyes and move the three feet over to the display and right as I start to stretch my arm out to grab the movie I hear another harsh, panicked whisper behind me, "Make sure to get the blu-ray!"  Which didn't help his cause as I immediately doubled over laughing at that comment.  Man, I adore that guy. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FINALLY!

This weekend we went to visit my in-laws in DC before they evacuate the east coast and head toward the Midwest and a better job for my father-in-law.  Which meant Nick and I made the drive up I 95 again.  Which also meant that for, like, the umpteenth million time in my life we passed this.  

I can't tell you why but I have always had a love for roadside attractions and the like.  (Need me to talk more on that?  Check out this OLD post from way back in the fetal days of this blog....I promise it is worth your time.  Or you can ask anyone on my college speech team that was with me when I coerced our coach to take us to the "World's Largest Frying Pan.")  So naturally every one of those umpteen times Nick and I have passed "South of the Border"  I have begged to go.  No dice.  

I don't know what was different about this time.  Maybe Nick felt like since his parents were moving we may not make this same trip again soon.  Maybe it was because we was rewarding me like a 3 year old for getting up in the morning and actually leaving the apartment before 8 AM.  Maybe he just thought I looked super cute while sleeping with my mouth hanging open in the car (as per usual).  All I know is after a nice snooze I was roused by the sensation that we were pulling off 95 and onto an exit, and I opened my eyes to pure joy.  

I honestly can't tell you the last time I have been so giddy.  Nick said I looked like a kid on Christmas morning which I totally believe.  Rubbed my eyes, grinning ear to ear, bouncing up and down in my seat and talking about 2 octaves higher than normal, "Oh my gosh really, really?  You aren't joking?  Are we really going?"  So without further ado, some pictures from "South of the Border":

That's me standing between that mariachi's legs.
Look how excited I am!



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How did it get to be 1:30 AM.....I need to learn to sleep like a normal person.

In case you all were wondering....pending some paper work etc. I should be employed and working by the end of next week.  Woo Hoo!  And to add to the perks and excitement of this past week I was given the prolific blogger award by Patrick Tillett.  He appears to be quite the trouble maker (in the best way possible) and most certainly a great writer....always a good combination.  

Here are the rules:

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Include links to their blogs.

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she received the award. (That would be me.)

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add the links of those they awarded, so that we can get to know the other winners.

And here are the winners!

1.  TattyTiara - Always an interesting read.  She is a very clever writer.

2.  I blog your profile/I Read your blogs - Written by father/daughter team Aion and Nicole.  Probably some of the kindest and most supportive people out there AND their blogs are all about blogging, so if you are looking for more to read they are the people to go to.

3.  Lady of 'the Arts' - Lady Ren posts some really great stuff relating to 'The Arts' as a whole, which means there is always something different.

4.  Not Worth Mentioning - Copyboy consistently makes me laugh, or cringe, or laugh and cringe every time I stop by, and really, what more could you ask for?

5.  Sadie - I don't know where this girl gets her energy but she has her hand in so many cookie jars I don't know how she always manages to always have a new post on her blog.  She also has some fun themes for her posts, like touring her home or the menu for her evening meal.

6.  Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing - I am pretty sure this girl and I had the same sort of childhood.  And that really should speak less to our similarities and more to her ability to tell a great story and make you go, "Oh, something just like that happened to me!"

7.  Non-Review - I am pretty sure I have rewarded TS before for some random thing or other, but he totally deserves it.  His posts are smart, funny, AND 100% children of his own mind and I greatly respect that.

Enjoy the links!

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is longer and more profane than usual, but believe me, it is both justified and worth it.

Those of you who know me personally may already know this story, but it is a story that bares repeating.

When we first moved to Seattle back in December of 2006 I was desperate to leave the retail job I transferred with and find a job "within my field" (whatever the hell that actually means for a person who studied communications).  Now it should also be noted that as a military spouse the cards are sort of stacked against me.  First, I am dropped into cities where I don't know anyone or anything about the local economy and hence have no leads.  Second, my resume reads like that of a fugitive....3 months here, 6 months here, cross the country, cross back.  (Since July of 2005 I have worked on both coasts and in 3 different states, lived in 4 different states, and had 5 different addresses.)  

So when I landed an interview with a "marketing" company in March after the holidays had slowed and I had started searching in earnest, I was thrilled.  I went online and studied their website.  It was a little vague, but claimed they worked primarily in print-based marketing and boasted some heavy hitting clients including the local sports teams like the Seattle Mariners.  So it had to be legit, right?  

At this point my husband and I only had one car.  Being as his commute involved crossing the Puget Sound in a trip totaling about an hour and half, he got the car and I relied on public transit, which was great for downtown.  However, this place was in an industrial park south of the city.  So off I went on a bus with two transfers and a total transit time of about an hour to walk a few commercial blocks, trudging across parking lots and past several storage units until I finally reached this "marketing firm."  I sat down in the waiting room of a shockingly small office that hadn't been updated since about 1977.  But I was here for an interview, along with these other people wearing suits, so it was okay.  

My entire interview with the office manager, from beginning to end, went something like this:

Manager:  Do you see yourself as a self starter or someone that requires micro management?
Me:  Self Starter
Manager:  Do you see yourself working in an environment that is casual or competitive?
Me:  I can be competitive, but I also work very well with others.
Manager:  Would you prefer working for a small company or a larger one? 
Me: A smaller environment would be preferable.
Manager:  Do you see your self working best in an office, with people, or with computers?
Me:  All three together.

Fade to black.  End Scene.

I was invited back for an observation day.  Which, despite my confusion about the four question interview, I decided to accept.  I hadn't seen any reason NOT to go, no one at the office was wielding an axe or wearing pedophile glasses.  Plus, it would be a full day away from my current retail gig peddling lingerie and looking at the breasts of middle aged women.  
I showed up on time at 8 AM and was assigned to the account manager I would be shadowing.  For the sake of this story we will call him DB (as in douche bag).  DB was also training another account manager at the time who also joined us that day.  We will call him FM (as in freaking moron).  So DB and FM chat me up about how much they love their jobs and how we were going out "in the field" today and so on.  However, it was only after I was safely strapped into DB's totally shit-tastic Mitsubishi Eclipse (circa 1993) that it is explained to me that we are driving to Auburn (another industrial region south of Seattle) to sell coupons for a local garage.  Say what?!?  Isn't this something that should have been explained to me before I was driven away from the office in the personal automobile of an employee?  Being as we were already on the road, I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or how to find a bus back home, I figured I was in for the long haul.  

So before getting this totally stellar "marketing" job FM had been a used car salesman (and apparently a really crappy one at that).  And being as DB was itching to upgrade from the lady killer that was his dented up Eclipse, EVERY time we passed an auto dealership the conversation went something like this:

"Dude, bro!  Check it out! That's my car man, that's totally my ride, tell me about it!"

And then FM would respond by sauntering up to the car in question, reading the specs of the sticker in the car window and finishing with, "Now how about you and I go inside and work out the details."

And trust me, friends, there are a lot of mother 'effen car lots in Auburn, Washington.   

Once we ran out of businesses to hustle we started approaching apartment complexes and single family homes.  DB would douche his way through a pitch, then at the next house FM would stutter his way through the pitch.  Then DB thought he would try and put me in my place and let me pitch, which I did flawlessly.  So much for him trying to intimidate me by giving me the reigns...jackass.  

As it started to get dark we approached this darling little cookie cutter neighborhood and as I was getting sad that we were going to interrupt the dinners of so many innocent families, DB was getting frustrated that no one had purchased any booklets.  (Seriously, who buys a booklet of oil change coupons for like $100 at some random local garage no one has ever heard of?)  After several no thank yous, and a few unopened doors we hit two very special houses.

At the first house a woman tells us her husband handles all the money and he wasn't available. So DB explains to me, as if explaining a scientific fact like the process of photosynthesis, that she was a total COWS...for those of you wondering what that is, that would be "Can't Operate Without Spouse." This, in contrast to the man we ran into a few doors down who said his wife handled the money.  As we left DB says regretably "Man, I wish I had the balls Spence had (the boss and leader of this not so pyramid scheme), he would have said 'Bro, don't tell me you let your wife handle the money! You gonna let her tell you what to do?!'" A part of me died.  Perhaps I wasn't "held against my will" but there was certainly some coercion and deception on their part, and now I had to put up with this chauvinistic bullshit because these two bumblef*cks were my ride home!  REALLY?

Thankfully, this was also the last straw for DB.  We piled back into his car and started to make our way back to the office.  DB turned on the CD that was already in the player.  He and FM start jammin' out to the generic sound of boys and guitars.  Then FM pipes up from the back seat.  "Hey, guess who this is."  I name the first one-hit wonder, current top 40, guy band I could think of.  "No, not them, guess again."  I name someone else.  "No not them either, think really hard, they should sound familiar.  You should totally get this."  I gave up and stopped playing at this point.  FM gets all butt hurt I stopped guessing and blurts out "It's DB!"  Apparently, DB was in a band at some point during his recent history, according to him they got some "air play out east" and clearly he thought they were good enough to jam out to in his own damn car.  Who does that?

We finally rolled into the office park again at about 9:30 in the evening.  My husband was already waiting to pick me up.  They offered me the job on the spot and I turned it down as politely as I could, although I don't think I could totally hide the bitchy and triumphant edge in my voice that said, "Shit no, Morons.  Even my godless retail gig is better than this!"

On the way home I told Nick all about my day and couldn't decide if I should laugh because it was the most ridiculous day ever, or cry to mourn the 8 hours I would never get back.