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February 2005

Friday nothingness

***Yo Lieutenant Pincus. I finally set up that page just for you.

The End of Conversation over Lunch at the Bay Cafe:

Maggie: Did you tip him?

Phillip: Yeah, I tipped him.

Maggie: Did you give him a good tip?

Phillip: Good enough.

Maggie: narrows eyes in suspicion

Maggie: I want you to give him a good tip.

Phillip: Why?

Maggie: I don't know. I liked him.

Phillip: How come?

Maggie: He... emanated kindness.

Phillip: raises eyebrows

Phillip: He what?

Maggie: He was nice.

Phillip: He emanated kindness?

Maggie: Shut up.

Phillip: snickers

Maggie: He was just NICE!

Phillip: Maybe there's a comment card we can fill out. "Our waiter emanated kindness."

Maggie: scowls

Phillip: "Service: it was very kind."

Maggie: I have to go back to work now.


How to Spend the Third Day of Your Three-Day Weekend

1. The night before, ask God pretty please for beautiful sunny weather, the kind that shines through your bedroom window and gently wakes you up. Don't forget to say thank you in the morning.

2. Try to act appropriately sorrowful when your husband has to get out of bed, take a shower and go to WORK.

3. Get up anyway and design campaign flyer for your ambitious relative which you promised to do last week. Convert to PDF and hit "Send" without freaking out, even though you now work with Real Live Graphic Designers and therefore have even higher standards for Printed Material than before. Congratulate self on taking this small step away from Perfectionistic Neuroses.

4. Kiss husband goodbye. Try not to smirk. It's not nice.

5. Start laundry.

6. Take shower.

7. Strip bed. Do more laundry. Feel extremely accomplished. Reward self by eating gigantic bowl of cereal and reading new copy of InStyle.

8. Invite friend over for some therapeutic TV viewing. Watch Valentine's Day episode of The O.C. Discuss finer points of the Cohens' marriage. Verbally annihilate That Other Woman. Draft letter to Josh Schwartz requesting permanent removal of Marissa, for the love of GOD.

9. Leave friend at home to watch Newlyweds, rush out to brow wax appointment. That's right. Have tiny eyebrow hairs unceremoniously ripped out by stout woman named Margaret. Which is my name. Feel warm, cozy and pampered during 10 minutes in waxing room, reveling in the only spa experience you can afford.

10. Purchase lunch ingredients. Go home. Prepare lunch. Discuss possible relocation of dear friend to Spokane. SPOKANE. Might as well be TIBET, okay? Watch SECOND episode of The O.C. Bite me, Phillip.

11. After friend goes home, fold the rest of the laundry. Decide to Take Advantage of the Weather by going for walk. Become inspired and jog a few blocks. Okay, not consecutive blocks, but Internet, I haven't jogged since my evil sixth grade gym teacher made us run the mile.

12. Reward self by reading the rest of InStyle.

13. Put in ANOTHER load of laundry. Prance around in spring/summer clothes while waiting for the dryer because, hello, it is GORGEOUS outside. A girl can dream.

14. Fire up computer, set iTunes to random, type out blog post to Cake and Ani DiFranco. Awesome. Send seemingly sympathetic instant message to husband. Who is at work. And you are not.

15. Plan to spend your last hours of paid vacation napping, washing the lunch dishes and getting your friend to invite you to dinner. Do happy dance of free-afternoon-ness.


Dress Recap

First, Internet, I've been remiss in claiming that bridal store harpies are ancient women with frizzy hair and poor choices of lipstick. Sometimes they are college age girls who are a lot like the cute ones who run Victoria's Secret, except for the whole annoying let-me-help-you-please-please-please attitude that makes you think Victoria's Secret clerks are secretly Victoria's Slaves and only get their daily ration of carb-free bread and water if they score at least 5 bra fittings per day. It went something like this:

JEN, SUPER CUTE BRIDAL SHOP ASSISTANT: hovering near the dressing room Maggie? How are you doing?

MAGGIE & FELLOW BRIDESMAID: rustle rustle snort giggle whisper rustle shriek

MAGGIE: Fine! Thanks!

JEN: Can I get anything for you?

MAGGIE & FELLOW BRIDESMAID: snort cackle rustle

MAGGIE: We're fine! Thanks!

three minutes pass

JEN: Maggie? Still in there?

MAGGIE: Yep! We're fine!

JEN: Just checking! Let me know if you need anything!

MAGGIE: Will do!

MAGGIE & FELLOW BRIDESMAID: howling with silent laughter

two minutes later

JEN: Maggie?

MAGGIE & FELLOW BRIDESMAID: rustle rustle rip snort shriek

JEN: Maggie?

JEN: How are you doing?

MAGGIE & FELLOW BRIDESMAID: laaaaaaaauuuuuuuggggghhhhhhhiiiinnnnnggg

THE OTHER SUPER CUTE BRIDAL SHOP ASSISTANT: I'm doing just fine, Jen, thanks.

After the fifth or sixth time Jen flitted by the dressing room and timidly asked us if we needed anything, I finally made it clear that Fellow Bridesmaid and I were happy to be left alone, thanks, and we'd call if we needed anything. And the one time we did call? They were completely useless. What do they mean, all the dresses in that style are at the seamstress? Still, I vastly prefer the inept college girl assistant to the crotchety old ladies who think it's totally fine to adjust your boobs without asking first.

Of course, it is COMPLETELY POINTLESS to go try on dresses when the dresses are all ONE SIZE. I am not going to tell you what size this is because, well, I know some shame. Suffice to say that the sample size was much too large for Fellow Bridesmaid and much too small for me, hence the small tears of pained laughter that now stain every sample dress in the store. Not only that, we were crammed into one tiny dressing room made of two walls and two curtains, so that every time we moved, someone's butt was sticking out past the curtain into the store. I ended up liking this one and this one (which, strangely enough, was recommended to me by one of my Dear Readers (and not at all the Dear Reader who lived with me for two years and therefore truly understands the dearth of style and svelteness.)) Anyway, when you are tired, sore, standing around in your underwear and you have to put the dress over your head because you can't pull it up around your butt, everything suddenly becomes sadly and pathetically hilarious.


In which I manage to make someone else's wedding all about ME

A large portion of today has been spent in Abject Fear. For today is the day I hand myself over to the bridal shop harpies for fittings and tryings on of The Bridesmaid Dress. Much has been written about this abomination to girlkind, the poofy, the puffy, the irridescent, the fuschia satin on the redhead, the strapless on the shy, the sheath dress on the pleasingly plump, the plunging neckline on the flat-chested. How many wedding photos feature a line of tall and short, fat and skinny girls, struggling to smile while stuffed into the same satin horror?

Fortunately I am working for a bride who cares much more about whether we, her bridesmaids, will still like her after the wedding than the style of the dress. She picked the brand (After Six), the color (purple, I mean, aubergine) and the length (long)- the rest is up to us. I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, but Internet? I am not known for my fashion sense, nor my svelte figure. I fear that in allowing me to pick the dress, the bride has made a dismal decision, one that will doom her wedding photos forevermore to the dustbin of Oh Good God Your Bridesmaid Looks Like My Grandmother's Furniture. And She Owned A Bordello.

Not only must I choose a dress tonight, I must do so in the presence of the bridal shop harpies, the scary women with blue eyeliner and acrylic nails who own the keys to the dressing rooms. We had to make an appointment to try on these dresses. Now, I have heard that this is standard practice. In fact, I know many a former bride who made several such appointments during her quest for the Perfect Gown, often bringing her mother and her sisters and her friends along. I'm assuming they all sat in quaint Victorian settees drinking tea while the bride tried on the 897 versions of Strapless and Poofy and stood on the Raised Platform of Holy Brideness for their yea or nay.

Internet, the mere thought gives me the vapors.

When Phillip and I finally had the argument that ended with "Fine! Let's get married," I immediately began thinking of ways to avoid the whole dress thing. Seriously. I have Saleslady Rage. No, I don't need any help. No, I do not want you to start a room for me. I'm just looking, thanks. Please don't ask me about opening an account. And NO, I am not interested in a bra fitting, THANKS. Gah. Does a girl like me want to walk into a froofy bridal store and spend the next three hours trying on rack after rack of white lace confections? No. We are not all Star Jones. Internet, this is just a prime setting for a panic attack of the worst kind. I may be a drama queen attention princess on my website, but if you try on a dress at David's Bridal, you can't look at yourself unless you leave the dressing room. Because all the mirrors are on the OUTSIDE. Where everyone can SEE YOU. AND WHY, UNIVERSE, IS IT SO???

This is why the good Lord saw fit to give me an aunt who not only can sew, but was crazy enough to be honored when I asked her to make me a dress. I know. She soooo did not know what she was getting into.

But ANYWAY. This isn't MY wedding we're talking about. Although the point remains. Any fellow haters out there? I am not kidding. I am thrilled beyond measure that a Fellow Bridesmaid, one with GOBS of Bridesmaid Experience, is coming along. And she has a heck of a lot more backbone than I do and could be quite useful in telling a saleslady to lay off, should the need arise. Send happy purple thoughts my way, Internet, in hopes that I will find a dress that will not embarrass me, the bride or the populace at large. You can check out your options here, and don't be like my sister and preface every recommendation with "Oooh, this would look good on ME." That just wouldn't be helping now, would it?


Hugs & Kisses

It's Valentine's Day and I totally forgot to bring in my tub of heart-shaped sugar cookies I made with my grandmother this weekend. I hate it when I forget things. But it may be just as well because the frosting tasted funny. I don't know how you go wrong with butter, condensed milk, powdered sugar and vanilla, but my sister and I were both giving each other the "this tastes like butt" face and plotting to distribute cookies to various enemies and evil roommates. And then my grandma was all, "Just give them to Phillip. He'll eat them." And my grandmother? IS ALWAYS RIGHT. She also said that my coworkers wouldn't notice anything either (which is true, because something just has to LOOK like sugar and these people will suck it down), so I'll be bringing my cookies tomorrow.

I called my folks this weekend to say hello.

ME: Are you having a Valentine's Day party for your class?

DAD: No. I hate Valentine's Day.

ME: You do understand that receiving Valentines is VERY IMPORTANT to eleven-year-old girls.

DAD: I don't care. You think I care? I don't care. Twits. All of 'em.

ME: What if they show up with Valentines? Are you going to let them pass them out?

DAD: Maybe if they bring me candy. I do accept bribes.

ME: Are you doing anything for Mom?

DAD: I never do anything for Valentine's Day.

ME: DAAAAAD! You can't even get her some CHOCOLATE?

DAD: Valentine's Day is a stupid holiday. Why should I give Hallmark more money?

ME: It doesn't matter what YOU think. You're supposed to make Mom feel SPECIAL.

DAD: I make her feel special every day of the year.

ME: *silence*

ME: SNORT. SNORT. *FREAKISHLY LOUD GALES OF LAUGHTER*

DAD: I'm hanging up now.

There are no Valentine plans, as the Archdiocese of Seattle in its glorious wisdom has scheduled the Rite of Election tonight at the cathedral. Sounds intimidating, huh? Phillip and I have been RCIA sponsors since September and we still can't figure out the distinctions between the catechumenate, the candidates, the Elect, the catechists and what happens to you if you've been baptized, but you didn't have your First Communion and then you got divorced now you're 47 years old. Anyway, we'll be there to stand up with our respective candidates and whisper the right answers in their ears when the bishop starts grilling them on medieval Catholic history. Because if you want to be a Catholic you totally have to know which Pope canonized which Saint in 1354. Otherwise they won't let you into church. Didn't you know? That's what the sponsors are for. I've been training my candidate to read my lips, just in case.


Year of the Rooster: A Photo Essay

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Let the madness begin! After stuffing ourselves silly, we holed up in Phillip's uncle's condo for some all-night mah jongg. I mean, the older people huddled around the mah jongg table and the younger people slouched on the couches and made fun of all the people playing mah jongg. Not that they noticed. These people are SERIOUS about their mah jongg. They did not notice when I took pictures, they did not pay any attention when my mother-in-law stuck her fingers into the fray to try to explain the game to me (and good luck with THAT one) and my father-in-law did not even blink an eye when I asked what he was going to buy for me with his first and second round winnings. And I was so not kidding. Anyway, my mother-in-law says it's like gin rummy, except for the east/west/north/south tile that lives in the corners and oh the flower tile and then there's that extra suit and then those suits where there's only three of each and don't forget that you can only pick your tiles from the left and OH MY GOD MY BRAIN IS EXPLODING.

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"Young people should not play this gambling game! But I don't mind sharing a few strategies with you. They might let you play one day. But not your wife- I can tell she has the learning curve of a two by four. Also, how come you are twice as tall as the rest of your family? Mutant genes?"

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"No no no! Say it again! More respectful this time. I'm your ELDER. If you want this red envelope full of money my own parents put inside for me to give to you, you must GROVEL AT YOUR OLD MARRIED COUSIN'S FEET."

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What I did AFTER the mah jongg. Bubbles, Dorothy Sayers, and a view of Saturday Night Live from the bathroom. Perfection.

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Packing the requisite trunkload of duty-free liquor. Party at my house!

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SNOW! DO YOU SEE THE SNOW? IN MY HAIR? THE SLUSHINESS IN THE STREETS? IT IS SNOWING, PEOPLE! MUST! ENJOY! SNOW! (And I want you all to know that I am posting this at the risk of the email my mother will send me in five minutes with a subject header of "Did you cut your hair YOURSELF or do you always go out like that?" THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU, INTERNET.)

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DO YOU SEE THE SNOW? SNOW! SNOW! ON THE GROUND!

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Phillip: It's snowing! What a great weekend! I ate fish lip soup, cold jellyfish, and had all the beef to myself because all those shorter smaller people were full, can you believe it! And then I got to eat SUSHI the next day! Maggie NEVER goes out for sushi with me! And now it's SNOWING? Could there possibly be a more perfect weekend? I think NOT!

Maggie: If I don't try really hard to suck my nose into my face, it will turn black and fall off. Can we go home now? And can you please try not to kill me with all your "driving in snow is cool!"?

Happy New Year!


Gung Hay Fat Choy

I had an awesome photo essay going last night until the Internet ate my post. Die, Local ISP.

Phillip and I kicked off the Year of the Rooster up in Vancouver this weekend- okay, so the new year doesn't actually start till Wednesday, but the feasting was done Saturday night and everyone knows that that's what REALLY counts. And Phillip's family? Knows how to eat. In fact, any trip to Vancouver involves enough food to feed the entire North American continent. And this is not the Chinese food you have when you're too tired to cook and order take out. This is not the sweet-and-sour chicken that Phillip's cousin cooked for me at his restaurant because "that's what Americans like!" If taking one's rather conspicuous digital camera into a fancy restaurant to take pictures of lobster and jellyfish and little shrimps and scallops artfully arranged inside deep-fried noodle 'baskets' didn't rank in the upper echelons of Unspeakably Rude, I would have totally done it. And now I'm sitting here trying to think of all the other things we ate, but I can't because there were SO MANY THINGS.

Course 1: This is always the same. Cold jellyfish masquerading as noodles. I am all about the way food LOOKS, so I was seriously surprised the first time I tried this and the noodles turned out to be cold, rubbery and slightly spicy JELLYFISH. Yeah, I haven't fallen for that again. There are some other cold dishes and I usually head for the mushrooms wrapped in tofu lest someone tries to get me to eat the jellyfish. (Tip #1 for eating with a Big Chinese Family: Do not sit next to elderly relatives. They will ignore you every time you say "No thanks." They do not care. You can tell them you're going to be ill, but they'll probably just hand you an empty rice bowl, politely wait for you to be sick, and then heap more food on your plate now that you have room.)

Course 2-9: Chunks of lobster. Chunks of fried chicken. Shrimp and scallops surrounded by steamed broccoli. Chinese spinach. The crab meat soup that has something else in it besides crab meat, but no one will tell you what it is because then the kids won't eat it. (But I know what it is: FISH LIPS. I am so not kidding.) The fish that was deboned in front of me. Sticky rice with tiny shrimp. A mountain of beef that no one can eat because did you read about all the food that came before it? (Tip #2: It helps to sit next to someone who eats a lot and totally does not mind finishing off your fish lips for you.)

Course 10: The dreaded Red Bean Goop. I don't know what this is, really, but it is always dessert and I always have to figure out how to act so incredibly stuffed that I cannot possibly force a spoonful of Red Bean Goop down my throat.

Then, the Bonus Course I've Never Had Before, Maybe Because My Mother-In-Law Told The Waiter We Didn't Like Red Bean Goop: little lime and coconut jello thingies that looked like big mah jongg tiles. There was a thin layer of lime on top with a big section of not-at-all-transparent white on the bottom. It was a lot like jello with a bit more substance.

And because we apparently didn't eat enough Saturday night, half of the family came back for sushi on Sunday. The thing that always amazes me about these Vancouver trips is that the food is small: little shrimps, little scallops, little spoonfuls of rice and noodles, little bits and pieces to dip in the little bowls of sauces. But when the meal is over, the diners have gained a collective 387 pounds. And when you have a ten course dinner and all-you-can-eat sushi for lunch, you have NO IDEA HOW MUCH FOOD YOU HAVE EATEN.

Anyway, welcome to Monday, the day where the crap you ate over the weekend comes back to haunt you. Tomorrow: Mah Jongg! Bubble Bath! Red Envelopes! It's Gung Hay Fat Choy, The Photo Essay.


Longest week ever, so step off

It's been a crummy week. Why? Oh, sorta because of that thing I'm not allowed to talk about here, the thing that occupies 90 gazillion percent of my time during the week, the thing that totally made me cry two (TWO) embarrassed tears of frustration yesterday morning after reading an email. AN EMAIL. That did not use any capital letters or boldface or ANYTHING that could be construed as YELLING but totally made me me want to curl up into a little ball and slide under my desk. (And I was ALL ALONE, so shut it.) There are some days when it doesn't matter how smart or prepared or capable or organized you are- people are still not going to GET IT.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

On those days I tend to come home and go straight to bed. I just lie there for a few minutes until my stomach starts to growl or the TV beckons. I can usually snap out of it pretty fast, especially if there's someone one around to spew on. Last night I walked in, dropped the mail on the counter, gave Phillip a look that said "I might not feel like talking right now, but beware because the spleen? Must be vented" and Phillip gave me the look that said "Greaaaaaat", but he followed me into the bedroom anyway and patiently waited for the Eruption. Because he is wonderful. Sigh. I whined. He listened. I ranted. He listened. I plotted revenge. He listened without believing me.

And a few minutes later he cocked his head and said, "You know, it'd be a lot easier if you had a little Sims meter above your head. Then I'd know exactly what to do."

And Internet, WOULDN'T THAT BE FANTASTIC? Seriously, the whole male-female relationship thing would improve SO MUCH if guys could just SEE when you are worn out and hungry and desperately low on Fun. When I walk in the door, Phillip would take note of the floating diamond above my head ("Hmm, green, today's a good day!") and go from there ("I think I'll wait until she gets a few more Hunger bars until I ask about buying those new speakers.")

I have a lot more to say on that topic, but I'll save it for later. My energy meter is seriously low.

I'll be bringing the camera to Canada this weekend so look out for some photo essays on How To Avoid Eating Sea Cucumber and How To Take Extreme Advantage of the Beautiful Hotel Room Secured For You by Your Lovely In-Laws.

And don't forget to ask Alex...


The state of our union is strong

So continues the week so boring that nothing seems post-worthy. We could talk about how revolting it is that Rebecca and Adam weren't booted off The Amazing Race last night. Or how I get sucked into Judging Amy every week after The Amazing Race. Which is not good, because, dude, I already have an unhealthy amount of free time committed to television.

My days begin with cable news. I used to turn on Channel 13 as soon as I woke up to check the weather and the overnight crime stats, but ever since the obligatory cute female Asian anchorette, Christine Chen, and the obligatory chipper weatherman, Walter Whatshisname, got shipped down to the 10 o'clock news, it's just not the same. Now I wake up with an assortment of CNN, MSNBC and Fox, depending on who's got the best stories and/or bottom-of-the-screen news tickers. I still click over to Channel 13 for the local stuff and the Getaway Guy, but my anchorette loyalty now lies with Daryn and Bridget. And Bridget, THANK GOD you finally did something with that HAIR.

I turn on the TV when I get home from work for background noise. And once again I opt for cable news, mainly because there's nothing like some good after-hours punditry. Then we enter the happy and fluffy Primetime World and Whatever Goodies TiVo Saved For Me Last Week. 

We are, however, pondering a dilemma right now, that dilemma being What Do We Do When Scrubs is on at the Same Time as The Amazing Race? My ideas consisted of sending anthrax-laced nastygrams to network executives as punishment for their evil scheduling or, if that didn't work, using the VCR. (I know. Like, how 90's of us.) But Phillip, as the bigger thinker, the outside-of-the-box guy, the man wedded to Best Buy, proclaimed that we should, instead, purchase a Second Tuner.

A SECOND TUNER!

What this means, Internet, is that I'm going to become even MORE addicted to TV. Whereas I must thoughtfully arrange my TV viewing schedule on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, days when I am usually Out and About (I want to watch Lost, but Katie wants us to TiVo the West Wing! Gilmore Girls and Scrubs? Or The Amazing Race? And if TiVo catches The Apprentice instead of The O.C. one more time there will be no end to the weeping and gnashing of teeth.), a second tuner would free me from the neverending squabbling with Recording Priorities. Internet, I could TiVo EVERYTHING. Eat your heart out, Nielsens.

A second tuner's kinda pricey, but Phillip and I know what's important. When you're busy four nights out of five, there's nothing more lovely than collapsing in front of your best friend, TV, on that fifth night and finding that you have hours and hours of commercial-free entertainment at your fingertips. A Good Eats on cheesecake? AWESOME!

Tonight, however, Lost takes a back seat to Our Nation's President and the State of the Union address. Will he wear a red or blue tie? I can barely contain my excitement. I'm going to make some popcorn, bust out the laptop and watch with Alex, a Proud Supporter and Possible Member of Right-Wing Nut Jobs and their Nefarious Ilk. It's going to be awesome. Alex and I may not agree on everything (whether or not Tucker Carlson rocks the bow tie, for example, is still unsettled), but we shall quite enjoy watching Teddy Kennedy turn dangerously blue and playing the State of the Union Drinking Game. And just a warning, Internet: I may do you all a grand disservice and allow Alex to unleash his biting political snark as a (gasp!) guest blogger. And now YOU can barely contain YOURSELVES. I KNOW.

Alex, direct your libel suit to mightymaggie AT gmail DOT com