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September 2006

Sleeping on a planter at the port authority

You know how, after you have given your two weeks' notice or, perhaps, have plotted a Scene in which you will march into your boss's office, scream "YOU CAN'T FIRE ME- I QUIT!" at the top of your lungs and flounce out of the building with your coworkers' mouths agape in awe, you are still stuck at your desk and expected to perform your duties? But really, you can't be bothered to care whether the museum receives their shipment or whether the boss has the correct numbers or whether the ten-page piece on the history of the industry is relieved of its extra spaces and extraneous "that"s and is actually published next month? Sadly, this is where I find myself lately, in between "reliable" and "take this job and shove it", a place of "almost not my problem anymore".

The transition to The Perfect Day Job is in full swing and yes, this accounts for all the dancing I've done on the bed to 'Blister In The Sun' a'la Angela Chase, but unfortunately I'm responsible for the whole 'transition' part. Which sucks. While I understand I can't exactly be all, "Transition be damned!" and take myself out for three-cosmo lunches every day, I don't quite see why they think I still care about these things. Because I so. don't. care.

AND no one is quite ready for me to care about the things I'm ready to start caring about! If that makes sense. So while I am bursting to give my oh-so-valuable input on this, that and the other thing, no one is going to pay attention until I am Officially That Person.

So whatever. I've chosen to go the sullen teenager-ish route and just have a Bad Attitude until all of this is taken care of. The Bad Attitude, at least it is familiar to everyone. And I think it is the reason why Fountains of Wayne's Welcome Interstate Managers is on constant replay in my car. Those are some excellent hating-your-job songs. It's also probably why I glance every so often at my Dwight K. Schrute bobblehead and sigh loudly enough for everyone to hear.

(My Dwight K. Schrute bobblehead inspired two conversations about The Office yesterday, one with Mr. Random Dude who happened to walk in and the second with our FedEx guy, who we love and adore and who looks exactly like the Joe Boxer dancer. The Office: Bringing People Together.)

In other news, I think my new neighbors are going to be pretty cool. (Even though Phillip's new excuse for washing everything except the dirty pots and pans is: "The neighbor was washing dishes right across from me with his shirt off. I had to stop and go somewhere else!") The other day I actually sliced up one of the zucchini breads and wrote a nice little "welcome to the neighborhood" note and left it on their doorstep. Then I went home and wondered why I did such a thing, because now the neighbors might feel obligated to wave while we're washing dishes or now we won't be able to just ignore people as we are accustomed to doing. Blast.

But this morning there was a card on our doorstep. And even though it had a cutesy barfy picture of a kittycat on the front, the note inside was super nice and written in perfect elementary school teacher cursive and the new neighbors have promised to have us over for a drink once their boxes are unpacked. So shoot. I can't turn that down.

Of course, that doesn't mean we're not putting up a curtain. I don't want my husband being traumatized by shirtless men washing dishes nor do I want him to have another reason not to finish cleaning up. (I'm not saying that I clean up the kitchen every time I dirty a dish, but when I do the dishes, I DO THE DISHES. I don't do HALF the dishes and leave the greasy burned-things-stuck-to-the-sides dishes or the hard-to-wash oddly-shaped dishes on the side to "soak" or because I'm going to do them "later". Give me a break.) I was thankful for all of your suggestions, but some of them just weren't very practical. Like purchasing a curtain in Massachusetts. I think we would all like to borrow Maureen's mother, but while the curtains are cheap, the plane tickets won't be. I looked at the frosted film, but that would require ordering online and have I told you about how I can't order anything online because I have a negative amount of patience? Right. And while there IS an Ikea nearby, I try not to go to Ikea unless I am 1) drunk 2) desperate or 3) in possession of many many Ikea gift cards, the free-ness of which would make up for the fact that you have to actually go to Ikea to get the new things. As I hadn't quite reached desperation, I picked up a filmy white sheer panel at Fred Meyer and a roll of hemming tape. I'd prefer a RED curtain and one that I didn't have to hack into a cafe curtain, but for now, this will do. The curtain looks an awful lot like my wedding dress and the aunt who made my wedding dress would be horrified that I plan to use hemming tape, but I am desperate enough to not borrow and deal with a sewing machine. I just need to chop it in half, iron in a hem and ta-da! My husband will wash the dishes again.

Hmm. A lot of you don't have websites, but oh, I highly recommend them. You can complain about your job, your husband and your shirtless neighbors all at once, in an unedited incoherent jumble of whiny. You understand the therapeutic value, right?

Your daily dose of random

I heard a new [to me] song on [country] radio as I was driving in today that I just loved. I even thought to myself that the woman singing it sounded as if her man actually cheated, like it wasn't a song written by a hitmaker performed by a teenager wanting to top the charts. I thought her voice sounded low and smoky, I loved the lyrics and I couldn't wait to google the title so I could find out who sings it.


That is all I have to say about that.

In other news, actual neighbors have replaced the day laborers inside the new house next door to me. And while I'm used to looking into the living rooms and yards of the people who live across from me, and the kitchen of the people who live directly opposite, I am not used to this new living room view, which is better than all the others combined. I can see: the kitchen, the washer and dryer, the stairs, the fireplace and probably any furniture they put in their living room. I assume they'll get shades or curtains soon, but I have shades too, and I don't keep them down all the time. Welcome to cramped, tight, close, intimate city dwelling, where neighbors become intricately familiar with each other's pajamas, parties and choice of television shows.

What I will not be able to handle is washing dishes. There's about one Phillip-length of space between our two kitchen windows and I do not want to look up from my sink to see my neighbor standing in front of her sink washing her dishes. What are we supposed to do? Wave? We'll just be standing there knowing each other is RIGHT THERE, but never looking up because that might mean eye contact and hello, awkward! What I need is a sheer little cafe curtain, but I've been to Target and all sorts of kitchen/linen stores and I haven't been able to find one. They are too big or too thick or funny looking when I string them on a tension rod. I fear I'm going to have to MAKE a curtain, which means learning how to thread a sewing machine, which means we'll have to hope my neighbors string up a curtain soon because mine is never going to happen.

Is that unfriendly? I don't want to be unfriendly. I have about fourteen loaves of zucchini bread lying around my kitchen counter and I'm thinking I might leave a loaf for them. That's neighborly! Maybe if I leave them sugary baked goods they won't think so badly of me when I finally put up my don't-want-to-look-at-you-anymore kitchen curtain.

Okay. I am sitting here thinking: Dear God. My website is the dullest thing on the internet. But! We are saved! I have just received an email from my mother (who just received an email from me about how it is only TUESDAY and I'm BORED and GAH and CAN I GO HOME YET) and my mother wants me to know, in the tone of voice one would use to announce Rex Manning Day, that today?


If your mother is not a lifelong elementary school teacher, you may not know this important date. (Look! My mother IS a lifelong elementary school teacher and I FORGOT!) (Do you even know who Johnny Appleseed IS?) My mother will have you know that Johnny Appleseed's birthday is a major holiday in elementaryschoolland and her 19 third graders celebrated appropriately: cutting, cooking, eating and acting in a play about apple slices escaping from the apple pie. I am sort of wishing I could go back to third grade.

So! In honor of Johnny Appleseed I will share with you all this extremely easy recipe for an apple dip, which, I believe, would go rather well with WASHINGTON apples:

16 ounces of cream cheese (the fattening kind)
1 cup of brown sugar
Lots of walnuts. Or other nuts. Or no nuts at all if you are one of THOSE people.

Mix! Dip! Eat! Thank Johnny Appleseed!

And I promise not to write anymore until I have something worthwhile to say. So... see you next year.

The best reason to get married

So here is a word to wise for those of you interested in Alternative! Fuel! Vehicles! After you have filled up your car with B99 biodiesel at the little shed over there in Ballard, you will need to put down a beach towel over your nice new bucket seat, hurry yourself home and throw all of your clothes in the wash. Although before you do that you might want to take Spray 'n Wash to every inch of said clothes because the biodiesel will be EVERYWHERE. I'm not exactly sure how this happens. It's not like the gas is spilling out of the car or anything. And after the first time it dripped everywhere, I remembered to let it drip a bit in the nozzle before taking it out the second time. But still! GREASE EVERYWHERE. It must be coated on the nozzle handle. The station even has these weird rag things that look more like the foam pads on the sides of the space shuttle to mop up any extra fuel that dribbles down the side of your car, but I don't think they help either. Maybe next time I should hold the nozzle using one of those rag things. And remember not to wipe my hands on my jeans.

I have yet to smell french fries when I drive. I'm a little disappointed, but on the plus side, you don't reek of McDonalds when you get biodiesel all over yourself while filling up.

We had a Big Day on Saturday so it made the most sense for me to fill up after work on Friday. Not that I didn't try to figure out how I could put it off till Saturday. We could just jaunt over to Ballard and then, you know, take 99 down to Phillip's mom's house! THAT'S not inconvenient at ALL! I also rationalized that we didn't really NEED to fill up as we have a terribly fuel efficient car whose gas needle does not visibly move after every mile like my old car. Basically I entertained every possible scenario in which I, myself, would not have to fill up my own car. Because, Internet, I don't know about you, but filling up the car is one of the most vile things in the world.

It's just dirty! It smells! Getting gas is a BOY job! Why do I, a helpless girl, have to get OUT of the car and work the little machine and hold the nozzle and risk dripping gasoline on my shoes? I pretty much only filled up my Explorer if I were in danger of stalling in the middle of the road on my next trip to the grocery store AND if Phillip was on a business trip in Timbuktu. If there was any possible way of getting my husband to put gas in the car FOR me, I would drive past 10 straight gas stations on my way home without a second thought.

Unfortunately! Of the two places to get biodiesel in town (that we know of, and not counting crazy hippies with homebrews), one is really super duper inconvenient and the other is right on my way to and from work. On the surface I am all, "Excellent! It will be so easy for us to rely on alternative fuel!" but underneath I am all, "SUCKS TO BE ME."

I hate getting gas and yet, Friday afternoon as I crossed the bridge and gazed sullenly at Dr. Dan's general direction, I made myself pull off the main drag and zig zag through the neighborhood to, SIGH, fill up. Like a grown up. And then? I put gas in the car ALL BY MYSELF. I made all the right notations on the logs, I didn't forget my key, I didn't hit anything when I backed up to the pump and I smiled sweetly at the crazy lady with the Passat who wouldn't get out of my way, because we're all in this alternative fuel thing together, right? I did get grease all over my pants and the steering wheel and one of Dr. Dan's subordinates called me later to say that I left my log on top of the pump and I might want to come back and get it, but I was exceptionally pleased with myself.

Not to say that I want to do it again. I'd rather not make this a habit.

Next weekend we are going on a road trip (road trip!) to visit Blondie. Okay, so we'll be driving as far as Portland, but still! Gas will probably be required. I may suggest we stop at the pump on our way home to get ready for the next week. You know. It won't really be on the way, but one must make sacrifices for alternative fuel, don't you think?

A night at the fair

Way to make me BLUSH, Internet. You guys are so nice. You are all invited to come over for TV. Just don't expect me to start entertaining you or anything.

On to the topic at hand, which is that I think I lost a little TV cred last night. I was doing the ten-minute cleaning spree I do before we have friends over when Phillip called. Our friends the Neighbors had extra tickets to see Third Day at the fair and did we want to go? I had to think about this. Jim Halpert? Or my old friend Spontaneity? Phillip sounded like he really wanted to go to the concert so I said, "Finnnne", and sat down to double check that TiVo would catch The Office. (Which I watched this morning before work, so that when people asked me if I saw it, I could say I did, instead of saying, no, I went to see a Christian band play at the fair an hour away and have them look at me like I am Hmm, Interesting.) (And I had to hide behind my cereal bowl the whole time because ohmygoodness AWKWARD. Seriously. What does Michael have to do to get FIRED?)

The Neighbors, incidentally, were supposed to have a baby on Wednesday. I kept wondering what we would do if the baby suddenly decided to make her entrance next to the ferris wheel, or the hamburger line, or the main stage in the middle of the concert. I am highly unskilled at this kind of crisis management. After a while I decided that the Neighbors would simply speed their way back to the city and Phillip and I would hike up the hill to my sister's house and beg for a ride home. Satisfied with this course of action, I was able to turn my attention back to eating as many fair scones as humanly possible. (We are going back to the fair on Saturday, because Phillip and my sister want to ride the rides, and I just want to eat more scones. I am not kidding about these scones, people.)

Anyway. I have actually seen Third Day before. I was (I think) a junior in college and the freshmen in my bible study were all, "OOH, they are the BEST." So they dragged me off to the little Christian college down the road where Third Day was playing in a big gym. (This is also where I saw Ani DiFranco for the first time and totally cried my eyes out when she sang 'Angry Anymore' with Julie Wolf. That was a different kind of religious experience.) I had never been to a Christian music concert, mostly likely because I never listened to Christian music. I'm a Catholic! I didn't grow up going to Young Life or any of that stuff- how was I supposed to know who Rich Mullins was? But there was one freshman in particular who was determined to find at least some Christian music I would listen to, and it turned out that Third Day was a relatively consistent winner in my CD player (and I actually still listen to the compilation CD he made for me). (Ah, CDs! I am so old!) Off I went to the concert where we had pretty close seats and an excellent view of six hipster boys with electric guitars attempting to turn the concert into a "worship service".

I don't know what other Christian music concerts are like (I am still not a fan, sorry!), but one thing I really like about Third Day is that they are almost leading a sing-along instead of performing. They're leading worship. (And maybe that's the hangup I have with Christian music- I don't know how to listen to it and I don't know how to think of the people who sing it. Are they performers? I don't get it. I infinitely prefer straight up worship music to Christian versions of rock and pop.) But at a Third Day concert you are expected to stand up and sing and dance around. Last night was FREEZING (people threw sweatshirts on stage because Mac Powell was shivering) and I decided I might be warmer if I stood up and bopped up and down. And I am pretty much a fan of any live performance, no matter what it is. They had a pretty cool set, a lot of energy and a lot of that "feeling" you get in a huge crazy worship service, the kind that people complain isn't present at Catholic churches, the kind that Catholic converts claim doesn't matter and isn't what's real. I'm in the "it's not what's important" camp, but that doesn't mean I don't love it. And what's there not to love about hipster boys with guitars? NOTHING.

Then I went home and checked my email and saw that I had all these lovely people leaving me notes on my website and I got really embarrassed and told Phillip that now I had to be INTERESTING and I am so NOT INTERESTING and EEK. Then he reminded me that you were all reading this tripe before, so quit freaking out. And I did. And now I have written a post about Christian music, of all mind-numbing not-interesting things. Oh, I apologize. Although, much like other things I am taking suggestions for (what to see in London's West End in November? what book to read next?) I am open to music recommendations. Maybe. I'm not promising anything.

Have a good weekend! I will eat a scone for all of you!

Hello, my name is

Yesterday I signed up for this free stat counting service. It only tracks so many hits per day, but since I have all of four readers (and one of you is my mom, hi Mom!) I didn't think that was a big deal. I copied the code to the site and obsessively watched my stats page to see if anything happened. Turns out my free stat counting service is WAY COOLER than the measy information doled out by Typepad, if and when the Typepad hamsters feel like telling you about your stats. For one thing, there is a MAP. I can MAP you people! It gives me a nice (yet freakish) list of google search strings. It tells me what pages you visit, it tells me how long you stay, it tells me your IP address and better yet, it tells me who has that IP address REGISTERED. I have all the tools I need to become a Bona Fide Stalker. I know where you live, suckers!

However! All this information has made me a teensy weensy bit uncomfortable.

For example, I now know where you people are coming from. I could have found out this information before my free stat service, but frankly, I'm too lazy to go about hunting down every single IP address. Believe it or not, I DO have other things to do. Also, who cares! Apparently, I SHOULD CARE. A frightening amount of you are IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. Like, DOWN THE STREET. You people are making me nervous. Do I know you? Also, there are quite a lot of you in places I have never visited. Where did you people come from? You can't ALL have found my website via some bizarro search engine hit. Why are you reading some dorky website written by a nerdy neurotic girl in the Pacific Northwest? I sincerely question your choice of online content.

When I started this website I didn't give a lot of thought to anonymity. For one thing, it was mostly just to write home and post pictures while I was on a trip. I figured I would probably want to have a Real Blog like all the cool ones that occupied my brain at work, but I didn't set it up to keep any secrets or vent about real people. My IN-LAWS know about my website. I will be hanging out with some friends and telling them some story when they start telling me the end and I realize they have already read the entire thing on my blog. (Which is very very embarrassing.)  My family and nearly all of my friends know about this place and there's nothing on here that I wouldn't tell them in person anyway. (And not that they actually come here. Some of them are all, "Website? Internet? Friends in the computer? ARE YOU DATING ONLINE?") But! There is this thing called Work and whatever semblance of a Professional Life I may possess. I might die a trillion deaths were someone from the work section of my life to discover this thing. And why have I been gallivanting about the Internet thinking that that will never happen? I write very specifically about my city. All that has to happen is for my old boss to type in some city-specific search string and TA-DA! He will spend the rest of his afternoon reading about how I could not sleep for six months in 2002.

I got so obsessive yesterday I began to think YOU were tracking me down. Here is what I was thinking: If one had a lot of time on her hands, she could use her stat service to see MY IP host, and then, assuming my IP address is registered to my company name (is it? ACK!), she could find out where I work and know exactly what I'm talking about whenever I write a thinly veiled work post. Horrors!

But today? Meh. I may have to go through and delete a couple of the truly irascible work posts, but I'm not sure I care so much about everything else. Really. An anonymous blog would be nice for the times I'd like to use a choice curse word or two or let the neurotic demons go wild, but that feels kind of secretive and alter-ego-ish to me. Of course, I'm lucky enough that the people I know in Real Life are nice enough to keep their ridicule and scorn to themselves. Although I take comfort in my name being someone else's name and therefore un-google-able, I don't have any important identity to hide or protect and I can't think of a whole lot I need to keep secret anyway. If I think of anything, I have my new Nancy Drew journal to hold it for me. (My new Nancy Drew journal is awesome. I love Nancy Drew almost as much as I love TV.) If you have an anonymous or anonymous-ish blog, why did you choose to go that route? (A perfectly acceptable answer is, "Because I don't want the entire world knowing where I live, like you do MORON." I can see how that makes excellent sense.) If you don't have an anonymous blog and you have more readers than your mother, does it ever make you feel Weird?

Actually, I think the most offensive part of the whole stat counting thing is seeing how many people are visiting and NOT TELLING ME THEY STOPPED BY. The lost opportunities to inflate my ego just really bug me.

So, all of that is to say: Yikes! Public! But! Whatever! I still don't care! Back to regularly scheduled programming. (Which would be The Office. Don't tell me you're doing anything ELSE tonight.)

Another one for the "I Have No Life" file

Dear readers: This is just a small announcement letting you know that unless you love your television, and I mean really love your television, we cannot be friends. For the fall television premiere season is upon us and my entire social life revolves around the primetime schedule. You may wonder how one person can put in an average of 80 hours of television per week, and all I have to say to that is: Thank God for TiVo.

Last night I put on my pajamas and made myself a little snack and settled in for a comfy night with my boyfriend, TiVo. Phillip has been making some disturbing statements over the last couple of days, statements involving his commitment to television this year, how he doesn't want to get "sucked into" any new shows, how he has "things to do" and can't sit in front of the TV all night. Unfortunately for him, he lives with me. I don't make him watch Project Runway or my new favorite junk show Two-A-Days (how do I love shows about high school? Let me count the ways! Now throw in some high school sports and I am OBSESSED.) But I had the first episode of The Amazing Race on TiVo! And it started off in SEATTLE. Phillip was SO watching that with me.

We laughed through the first twenty minutes because seriously: how in the world would you find I-5 from Gasworks Park if you are not from Seattle? I have no clue. And had one of the Racers accosted me on the sidewalk and asked me for directions, I would have had to get in the car WITH them to show them the way. Finding the freeway in Seattle is rather like taking off one of your shoes and thwacking yourself about the head and shoulders while operating a moving vehicle. And then? When you get there? You sit in traffic. Welcome to the ugliest traffic mess in the United States. But we let out a distraught wail when some do-gooder told some Racers to take 99 to the airport, because how are the Racers going to find 99 from Gasworks! (Although they somehow found it AND got there before everyone else, even though the Coalminer's Wife has some major insecurity issues and seems to be terrified that America is looking at her as some toothless and barefoot West Virginia housewife and I wasn't particularly pleased that she got there before most everyone else.) Anyway, we felt instant empathy for all of the Racers, because we recently got lost in the Sea-Tac parking area ourselves, and  we're rather thankful it wasn't captured on film. I'm fans of all the Racers, except for the couple who said they were deciding whether or not to get married and proceeded to be wretchedly hateful to each other for the rest of the episode. (Why do The Amazing Race producers insist on putting awful "dating" couples on this show? No one likes them. No one roots for them. They just make us sick having to watch them.) (Not like I'll stop watching The Amazing Race. As if!) And of course it was ugly and gray and rainy in Seattle and I'd like to know when they started filming, because it did not rain ALL SUMMER. I kid you not. I guess we just like to be predictable on national television. Also, I'm kind of bummed I did not know the Racers were starting off here. You'd think I'd notice if Phil had reserved a ferry for his personal use, or ten Kenmore seaplanes flying in formation over Lake Union. My boss says he saw a clue box and talked to a Clue Box Guard on the waterfront this summer, so apparently the Racers are returning to Seattle? We shall see.

And then I watched Studio 60 because this show stars Chandler and Josh Lyman- SWOON! And it was pretty good, even considering it's one of those earnest and pretentious and better-than-everyone-else Aaron Sorkin shows that wants to be Important. (Whatever. I love Important!) I'm curious about the character who is supposedly a Christian AND a normal person. Interesting combination, television! Although the whole deal with her and Chandler breaking up because she sang "spiritual songs" on Pat Robertson's show struck me as False, Profoundly Weird and a smidge of Trying A Bit Too Hard, Aaron.

Then I watched How I Met Your Mother, because I am a sucker for twenty-something sitcoms and anything that claims to be the next Friends. Too bad for me, everyone on that show is ten kinds of annoying except Marshall, whom I adore, and will take home with me if Lily never comes back. (And wouldn't that be a boon to the show? If Lily never came back? Then all they'd have to do is get rid of Robin and confine Barney to the bar and it could be a really good show!)

That was about as much as my eyeballs could handle last night (you gotta work up to full viewing potential, the season has just begun), but I've been practicing. I watched the first disc of 24 Season 2 this weekend. Man, I love Jack Bauer. Talk about a Ridiculous Show, but dude! It's JACK BAUER! He's, like, Superman! I keep waiting for someone to shoot Kim already, but it's an even crazier story than the first season and we are, as Phillip would sadly say, Sucked Into It. (And does anyone else want to say "on the day of the California Presidential Primary" every time Jack Bauer says "The following takes place between eight am and nine am" before the episode? Or is it just people like me, who watched the first season in one weekend and cannot hear the time stamp without adding on the presidential primary bit? I think it's just me. Because isn't Jack Bauer on his eighth or ninth attempt to save the world? Moving on.)

We have a date to watch The Office later this week (with other PEOPLE, people who love TV) and I don't know about you, but I'm dying to see what happens with Jim and Pam. I'm kind of hoping Jim calls me instead, but that's probably not very likely. Plus, the Gilmores are coming back soon (although, does anyone care at this point? I'm not sure I do.) but best of all, Veronica Mars shall be gracing my television in the very near future. Are you people watching Veronica Mars? You need to be watching Veronica Mars! Have you MET Logan Echolls?

I love TV. I KNOW what that makes me, but I don't care. Do you love TV too? You can totally come over and put on my extra 'Shut Up, Rory' t-shirt and help me finish off the Ben & Jerry's. Sigh. It's times like these that I really start to miss Amy Abbott.

Lament of the spoiled American girl

What is it about the change in seasons that always makes you feel like you have nothing to wear? Even though you have several plastic storage boxes under your bed full of colder weather clothes from last year, a stack of sweaters you haven't touched in months on the closet shelf and an entire rack of work-appropriate pants, you stare at these things despondently and think: there is STILL nothing to wear. In fact, you can't imagine what you wore the last time it was cold and rainy because you couldn't possibly have worn those things.

It took me an hour to get dressed for church yesterday because I was also getting dressed for the baby shower I'd have later that afternoon at my house. With people from church. Which means those girls would see me at church AND at my house. You can see the difficulty? Or maybe you are like my husband, who is stymied every time he gets out of the shower and finds me standing in front of the closet, where I have been for fifteen minutes, rejecting every item inside and making plans to go to the mall.

To my credit, I rarely ask his opinion. And to his credit, when I do ask, he actually tries to have an opinion. Too bad it is always the wrong opinion.

There are just so many facets to Getting Dressed! What am I doing today? Sitting at a desk? Walking around? Who will I be seeing today? Do I want this person to think I am Put Together or has this person seen me with bed head and hairy legs? Do I want to be Breezy? Do I want to be Professional? How comfortable do I need to be today? What if I can't walk too far in the shoes that go with those pants? If I can't wear those shoes I can't wear those pants and I have to start ALL OVER AGAIN.

Several summers ago my sister Becca lived with me in my scary tiny studio apartment for a month or two. After just a few days into this sharing-a-room project (which I never had to do growing up, except for that one time when my mother was so scandalized by my filthy room that she made me switch with Becca and I had to live with Katie and let's just say that THAT didn't go over well AT ALL) I realized that I had a built-in opinion maker. And Becca is of the discriminating sort. My sister owns as many shoes as Nordstrom. When I said, "Does this look okay? Or maybe I should wear this instead?" not only did she have an opinion, it was RIGHT. Rebecca would never let me out of the house looking as I do today.
Today I am wearing:

  • Barely work-appropriate khaki pants that are sort of falling down because I cannot find my belt anywhere in my house, even when I cleaned it and looked in all the possible hiding places, like the refrigerator and the filing cabinet.
  • A hideously lime green sweater that is shaped funny and makes me look like a Granny Smith. (WHY do I buy clothes from J. Crew, the fashion house of six-foot-tall women shaped like thirteen-year-old boys?)
  • A t-shirt under the sweater because my boss thinks 49 degrees is a pleasant working environment, creating a lovely lumpy effect.
  • Shoes from Target.
  • Gray socks. Because they are the only pair that do not have holes.
  • Poorly styled third grader hair.

I was thinking that I would really like to be Nina Garcia. Do you think Nina Garcia ever stands in front of her closet and laments the fact that she has nothing to wear? Perish the thought! First of all, Nina Garcia must have fifteen closets full of designer castoffs, not to mention the heaps of clothes she'd have access to at work. Nina Garcia would never have to wear the same thing twice. Also, Nina Garcia is a Fashion Director. A Stylist. She knows what works and what doesn't! Do you think Nina Garcia stands in front of her closet(s) fretting about what to wear to a baby shower? No. Nina Garcia calls up Michael Kors and dictates exactly what kind of look she's going for, and a handmade original Michael Kors arrives on her doorstep the next morning. Oh, to be Nina Garcia.

Eiscreme bitte

My parents sent Phillip a box full of travelers' necessities for his birthday. I waited patiently for him to open it with a pair of scissors and an exacto knife and a stud finder and a level and a razor blade so heaven forbid he wouldn't make a mess of the box, then he started pulling things out one by one. "An alarm clock!" he cried. "Luggage tags! A guide book! Learn German from a tape!" He looked at me with a frown. "Do we even have a tape player anymore?"

My little late summer Italian vacation has turned into a full-fledged Whirlwind Trip for the last two weeks of November. Alaska Airlines couldn't stop me from finding a way to use my gadzillion frequent flyer miles, so we've got a direct flight in and out of London. From London we fly to Venice. We'll hang with my parents (and by "hang" I mean "recuperate from our transatlantic flight with many many cappuccinos") for a few days, then we'll fly up to Germany and spend the holiday plus a few days with my aunt. (I have MORE relatives in Europe! Lucky duck=me.) We'll go back to Italy for a day or two before heading back to London where I intend to stay in a swank hotel and see a show (suggestions? I want to see 'Wicked', I think.) before heading home on the 30th.

We thought about going straight from Germany to somewhere in France before we go home (Phillip is rather distraught over the fact that I have been to Paris and he has not), but to be honest, I am missing Italy with every little piece of me that still remembers living there. Which is mostly my tongue. I have already informed my parents that we shall spend most of our time dining out. It's not that I want to spend more time with my folks (GOD, they're already coming back for CHRISTMAS, how much family time do we NEED?)- I just really really really miss Italy. You know how you remember something from being five or six years old? Like, you just loved that toy or your Grandma made amazing cookie dough or you had the best time in your backyard? That is how I miss Italy. It's not necessarily realistic, but it doesn't matter at this point. I just need some pizza margherita.

Phillip, however, wants to go somewhere DIFFERENT. Germany is different, all right. Can you say: 100 different kinds of schnitzel? My aunt lives very close to France and Switzerland and the Rhine River whose banks are dotted up and down with castles. We'll have a load of sights to pick from, although I'm imagining a lot of World War venues with my dad and Christmas markets with my mom. It will be fun to be there with Phillip. The last time I went on an actual European sight-seeing trip I was alone, and everything seemed so lacking because Phillip wasn't there. And after seeing him speechless in the most average of European cathedrals, I can't wait for him to see a German castle.

The German tapes made me laugh. When I was nine and my parents were psychologically preparing their five children for great upheaval in the form of moving across the world, they told us we were going to Germany. Later I found out they said this because they planned to turn down any teaching assignment that was not in Germany; England maybe, Spain possibly, but they would not even consider southern Italy as they'd had to pay protection money and live in flooded run down apartments during their last southern Italy experience. My dad bought me a how-to-learn-German book at Costco. It had a bunch of stickers in the back that you could put on things in your house. Soon my room was covered in stickers: the German words for door, lamp, closet, bed, desk, chair, book, wall, bratty little brother, doll. I learned how to say "I want an ice cream cone" and, when I found out we were moving, was terribly and prematurely proud of the conversations I would have with my new neighbors. We were not going to Germany, however, we were (surprise!) going to southern Italy. But learning all that German was hard work and I had no intention of learning an entirely new language. I'd have to wait for awful Mr. Gravina, the mean and boring host nation teacher, to fill up his eight (eight!) blackboards with notes about Italian agriculture and Roman ruins to start learning anything new. (Although I'm sure we all learned "gelato" right away.)

I will not be re-learning any German this time around. I barely know any Italian. And is it terrible that 99% of the things I want to do involve eating? I would kill for a big ole pizza margherita right about now. With a half liter of wine and a side of french fries and chocolate profiteroles for dessert. Auuuggghhhh I am killing me. Must go eat lunch.

(This is the second post I have ended with me going off to find something to eat. Read nothing into this. It's just inopportune posting timing, not the fact that I am so far from The Beach I am in the Alps.)

While I'm deciding if I should eat the last cupcake

I said I hoped the church meeting would provide some juicy blog fodder and it did not disappoint. Last night I learned that in the Days of Yore, it was a MORTAL SIN to read a Protestant bible! Can you believe that? The nun was looking for a bible in the meeting room and she found the kind that puts everything Jesus says in red. She said "Oh! I just don't like those red letters!" and picked up another one. Which reminded her of the time when she was a girl in Catholic school and she had an assignment to read a bible passage. But the only bible she had at home was her father's Protestant bible. And she didn't know what to do! Because doing her assignment would mean committing a mortal sin!

I laughed so hard, you guys. The nun just sat quietly next to me shaking her head. "Yes," she said, "the theology was shaky. The theology was not so good." And I said, "Oh, but Catholics don't read the bible anyway, so it probably wasn't a big deal." If she'd had a habit and a ruler she probably would have smacked me.

Okay maybe that is not so much "juicy" as "hmm, interesting!" but I thought it was hysterical. And the scones were a hit! See? Everybody likes scones. They ate all the fruit too. It was like they had never seen fruit. Or baked goods. Maybe they aren't so different from my scavenging starving office mates. Also, I'll have you know that I opened my mouth at my church meeting and actual sensical words came out. Fancy that!

And because I still have nothing to write about, I will share with you the Story Of The Locked Database, the moral of which is Do Not Put Shortcuts To Your Work On Other People's Desktops, What Are You, Insane? So yesterday I tried to open one of my databases, which I use every day and had most recently used, oh, an hour before. It would not open. I got weird error messages. And because I am married to Phillip and also because I once worked for the most helplessly computer-illiterate man on the planet, I have learned a Thing or Two about how to get your computer to ackrite. ('Ackrite' along with 'Y'all' are the two things I would consider becoming Southern for.) I saw that I had the phantom "working" database file open somewhere, so I got into the Task Manager (which I think the Vista OS should rename Task Master, as it is much funnier), but lo, there was no phantom application running in the background. "Hmm," I murmured to myself thoughtfully, stroking my nonexistent goatee.

Moments later it occurred to me that a Salesman had access to this database and surely he was to blame. I flounced into his office and demanded he exit! Immediately! Pronto! Which he did, but not without great amounts of whining and kvetching and general "everyone thinks I break things" mopiness, which I have no sympathy for, because it is true, he breaks things. MY THINGS.

So back I went to my desk to open up my database. But then? THEN? My database wanted a PASSWORD.

"SALESMAN!" I shrieked. "WTF!"

"What! Huh! I didn't do nuthin'! Why you always pickin' on me!"

At which point I hollered for the Operations Manager, who is also my boss and who is constantly getting into spitting matches with me to see who knows how to fix what. (He almost always wins, but the handful of times that I know more than he does REALLY grates on his nerves and OH the nerve-grating is SO ENJOYABLE.)

This was no regular old password box. This was the kind of box you have program into the database. The kind where you have to click on a menu, find the correct option, click another option and finally click "YES I WANT TO PASSWORD PROTECT MY DATA FROM IDIOTS WHO BREAK THINGS."

Let us all ask ourselves: How did our beloved Salesman do this? Why must tragedy befall every application I use? How in the world do you un-password protect your own database? After the boss and I argued about it at length, after he hurled many curse words at the server, after he attempted to log on from every computer in the office ("maybe a Mac will work!") we kicked the issue upstairs to our Tech Dude who answers phone calls at a rate of once every year around Christmastime. I am stumped, but on the other hand, guess I don't have to do THAT work now!

I have the munchies. I am off to look for snacks. Don't break anything while I'm gone.

So boring my eyes just rolled behind my brain

I'm a bit bereft of material lately. I have started about five different posts today, all to be chucked away within three or four paragraphs for the crimes of being Unfunny, Trite, Dull and Pretentious. Also Serious, which I really can't bear at the moment. Serious needs to get in line behind Hole In The Head for things I really need. I think of all of these bothersome attempts at Profoundity are the effect of the weather, which suddenly decided that today marks the first day of Fall, take that you wussy Seasonal Affective Disorderlies!

I went to the dentist yesterday because I need two crowns. No one bothered to tell me what that means and I was too stupid to ask. I spent three hours in the most uncomfortable chair in the world, had my dentist interrupted whilst drilling to work on the new paging system at least fourteen times, was repeatedly told to shut my eyes if I didn't want to see a syringe and nearly fainted when I got up from the chair, as my feet were elevated above my head and my bloodstream contained ten times its daily quota of recreational herbal substances. When it was over they turned me upside down and shook out my pockets till all the pennies clattered noisily to the floor. The good news is that the hygienist from hell was nowhere near my room.

Thinking about that hygienist reminds me to tell you about a rather old gentleman who called me up today and said the following item of interest: "You're Maggie Cheung? Are you from Hong Kong? You don't sound like an Oriental." People think I'm making it up when I say these things, but I'm most sincerely not. (That phone call made me think of the 'Diversity Day' episode of The Office. We watched it last night with our neighbors who kindly bought the first season DVD and didn't blink when we immediately invited ourselves over. Also, they served brownies and ice cream. We may have to move in.)

Also I am sort of panicking because I have to bring snacks to the church meeting tonight. Me and me alone. I am solely responsible for ensuring that the committee members do not keel over from hunger halfway through the meeting. Last night I made scones, because I had the extremely reasonable thought that: hey! everybody loves scones! They are FAIR scones, which are even better. Do you have fair scones? I was under the impression that fair scones are strictly the local fair thing, but for all I know you people have fair scones at your local fair and mine are nothing special. (But even if you do, I don't care, my fair's scones are the sublimest divinest yummiest scones in the history of scones. And you can buy a mix! Just add water!) Okay, so I made the scones, but then what? That can't be all. The last person who brought snacks brought, like, ten different things. So I stood uncertainly in the produce section today, staring at the strawberries and the nectarines and wondering if I should bake something else or make a cheese tray or OH GOD WHAT GOES WITH SCONES? I have a feeling these people are more choosy than the people in my office, who will unflinchingly eat the last week-old cut-in-half doughnut. I ended up buying fruit. I will make a little fruit tray and heat up the scones and make some coffee. /FREAKOUT

Dude. This is the lamest entry ever. Let's all hope the church meeting supplies me with some juicy blog fodder. Ha. Maybe I can write about how the nun reminds me of my great aunt with the magenta lipstick and the funny way of swallowing the ends of all her words. Won't THAT be interesting. I can't wait.