Monday, November 29, 2010

Red light, green light, brake light, crunch

So, I ruined a 10 year streak today.

For the first time in 10 years, I was involved in a car accident while I was behind the wheel—though it wasn’t my fault. I got rear-ended at a stop light. It wasn’t a big deal, or at high speed. I honestly thought there wouldn’t be any damage. But when I got out of my car and looked at my rear bumper, a piece of the other car’s license plate frame was embedded into it. The offending screw had poked right through the flimsy fiberglass and left a finger-sized hole. It was almost comical. Almost.

Oh well, exchange information, get insurance reference numbers, and go about my day.

Still, I couldn’t help thinking about my other accidents. See, having a spotless record for 10 years is nice and all—I haven’t even gotten a ticket in that time, though I have been towed once for parking where I wasn’t supposed to—but it doesn’t automagically mean that I’m a better driver than the rest of the world. I like to think that it does. I like to think that I’m situationally aware, conscientious, responsible, cautious and yet decisive when needed. I fancy myself a better-than-average driver, but I’m sure that most of the population feels the same way.

I wasn’t always a safe and responsible driver. 10 years ago I had 2 major accidents and 2 tickets in the space of 4 years, so that wasn’t such a good time for me. I’m a bit of a local legend around my high school as the idiot that crashed into the Mariner’s Cove sign… and part of the reason that there are now 2 Mariner’s Cove signs on either side of the entrance instead of one in the middle. Infamy, in this case, is not better than obscurity.

The last time I seriously rear-ended someone was in my 2000 Plymouth Neon—and I didn’t so much rear-end as try to put the hood of my car underneath the bed of the truck in front of me. Not, you know, on purpose, but that’s what happened. Same situation as today actually. Sitting at a light, a few cars back. The light turns green, traffic starts to move, I hit the gas, gently, but just as we’re getting up to speed something happens up ahead & everyone stops… well, everyone but me that is. I didn’t see all the red lights, and so had less time, and space, in which to stop, and that’s how I wound up totaling a brand-new car and being so very thankful for insurance, because a $250 deductible was much preferable to the $10,000 repair bill.

I suppose I learned my lesson. I think I’ve just been lucky, and today, a little of that luck ran out. Let’s see if I can manage another 10 years without incident. If all the other drivers on the road will agree to help me out here, I think I might just make it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I see a red door and I want to paint it black

I will not talk about Black Friday.  Too many years working retail.  Last year, I was up at 3 am, to go to an outdoor strip mall in 40° weather, which was actually fun and resulted in some great deals before the sun even got up, but I think I used up all my Black Friday mojo out there in San Marcos.  I'm done with the day.

Instead, I shall talk about bunnies.  Because it was the first thing to pop into my head.

I typed "bunny" into Google, and this is what I got.  The epitome of bunny-ness: little and fluffy, with big eyes, an adorable nose... and not biting me.

See, in real life, bunnies are soft and look snuggly and wonderful... but they're... they're... squirmy and sometimes smelly, and their little back feet scratch you in very un-lucky ways.  I've never had a pet bunny, so I don't know if they ever settle down and snuggle like my beloved kitties, but I like to think they do.  I mean, what's the point of so obviously adorable pet that begs to be held and petted and snuggled (and called George) if it's just going to freak out and run away when you try to hold it and squeeze it?  Aren't all domesticated animals simply around for my amusement?  Why don't the squirrels outside my house want to come eat from my hand, and wash their little faces on my windowsill while I watch (and my dog goes not-so-quietly crazy)?  And they never offer to come in and do chores for me, which is really disappointing, because as we all know, fairy tales and the movies are actual representations of life and can be used as templates for building our hopes and dreams.

See, I have this very non-specific memory of going to some friend's house somewhere in Texas when I was about 10 years old, and she had bunnies... lots of them.  Like a farm of them, but maybe just a little Mom-and-Pop farm... run by her Mom and Pop... So there were all these long-eared bunnies... floppy ears and soft fur and little cottony tails and claws!  Bunnies have claws and those little buck teeth are sharp and they bite!

So just a warning to all those out there who are enamored with the soft, squishable, squeezable, snuggable bunnyness of bunnies.  They have teeth and claws.

I mean, so do most pets... like my cats, and guinea pigs and hamsters and squirrels...

So, you know... most cute animals also have some sort of protective parts too.  Which isn't to say that they aren't also nice and kind and good... just don't forget that bunnies have claws.  Which isn't their fault if they get scared and use them... I mean, after all, their natural instinct is to get away from things bigger than them and higher on the food chain, which we are.

This pointless PSA brought to you by my avoidance of shopping until the crazy is gone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When did I become one of "those people"?

Alright, it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that I'm not exactly cool. I wasn't one of the cool kids growing up. I worked at the college radio station because I had to for my degree, and while it was fun, I really just wanted to get back to my Avid and make movies. So, new music has always been forced upon me by kind friends and unwitting strangers, and I usually have to be dragged to concerts.

Or at least, that's how it used to be. I'm still pretty bad at finding new music by myself, because I like listening to the music I already have... all 362 hours of it, or something like that. I'm not really great at knowing who is playing where or when, but if I find out someone I like is playing near, I go. I don't even have to have a date. It's one of the things I've learned to do as I got older--go places and do things I like without having to be accompanied. I still like it better with friends, but I don't let that stop me.

But this isn't a post about my new-found independence. This is a post about getting old... sort of.

See, when I first started going to concerts, I was 16, and that was U2 at a stadium in Chicago, and doesn't really count in terms of "shows". It was a concert, and it was amazing, but "shows" are a different breed. I don't know what my first "show" was, but I'm going to guess something at the Sokol Underground with Andrew. And we saw lots of shows there.

(A side note: one of my favorite things Andrew has ever said about me is that I'm the most low maintenance high-maintenance girl he knows. I don't remember all the exact reasons why, but listed among them were the desire to go to shows and sit on a dirty concrete floor in jeans and sneakers and drink whiskey, but love lipstick and care about wearing matching accessories and still need reassurance that I'm a worthwhile human and stuff like that.)

So, this spring, Alkaline Trio came to Dallas, and I wanted to go. I didn't know anyone else* in 500 mile radius who liked them enough to go with me, especially since the concert fell on the same night as another social event that 93% of my friends were attending. I, forgetting that I was no longer 21, decided that I could do everything! I would put in a full day of work outdoors, attend Social Function A, then drive 45 minutes to the concert, stay up until it was tomorrow, sleep a pitifully small number of hours, then get up and do another full day of work outdoors again.

But again, this isn't really a post about the foolish choices I make to enjoy good music.

See, while I was at the show, I realized something.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mo, renamed Rocco, from Wylie, found in Dallas

So, Friday was sort of an odd day for me.  I got a late start to my day because of some appointments, so when I got to the office, things weren't in their normal state of slightly dysfunctional flow.  I was helping a co-worker with some stuff and after going over the overview, she says to me, "Ok I have a random question for you."  To which I of course replied, "I have some random answers."

But before I could start listing off some random trivia, she asked if I liked cats.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Perception vs. Reality

Perception is a mighty super-hero.  Perception wears a cape, has laser vision, super-strength, the ability to change shape and be invisible.  Perception can fly.  Perception wears spandex well and is charming enough to get away with being kinda jerky at times. Perception shakes babies and kisses hands and signs autographs for swooning, pimply faced fans of all ages.  Perception brings home the bacon, does her own taxes, sets tables like Martha Stewart, cooks like Alton Brown, cleans like a Merry Maid and does it all with Donna Reed style, by which I obviously mean in pearls, heels and perfectly straight stockings, probably with a frilly little apron she made herself.

Reality is a frumpy accountant.  In a suit.  With an attaché case and loafers.

As far as showdowns go, it's easy to see this one isn't really even a fair fight.  It's not an exciting duel between equals.  It's a merciless slaughter.  No epic battle to the death, just a swift death with no pomp or circumstance, no weeping maidens, no brave men enduring with stoic dignity.  No ticker tape parade for the victor.  Not even a congratulatory handshake from a grateful public official. 

See, it goes like this:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's 6 times 7? How many roads must a man walk down?

The number 42.  Much like exclaiming "37!?" will make Kevin Smith fans snicker, this number has special geeky significance to those of us who enjoyed "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

This isn't not about the secret meaning of life, the universe, and everything.  It's not even really about Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  It just happens to be my 42nd post, so I thought the intro relevant.

So, the topic of statistical probability came up the other day... maybe while I was watching House.  And given the fact that I actually do believe in some things that are statistically improbable and mathmatically unlikely, I still find this song by Tim Minchin to be quite funny and thought-provoking.

So for the lack of something else witty, profound, personable and engaging to say, I leave you with these lyrics to ponder.

If I Didn't Have You

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh! That reminds me

I have the somewhat dubious honor of having had my... unusual style of verbal communication diagrammed by a very smart man whose job it is to analyze and explain data.

Now, if you've ever had a conversation with a talkative 4 year old, then you're somewhat familiar with my way of speaking.

"Tangential" is a bit of an understatement.  So, this man, who thankfully is a dear friend, so I don't have to be quite so embarassed or harrass him until he retracts the diagram, was sitting in a meeting one day at the office, and decided that the best use of his considerable intellect was to diagram a recent conversation, which was fairly typical of most conversations.

Now, as he is smarter than me in a number of different areas, I can't quite recreate what he came up with, but I'm going to try to at least outline what I remember of his explaination.  And if you don't think that it's a surreal, enlightening, humbling and awkward experience to have someone explain you to yourself, then you live in a world where the sky is perhaps a different color...

So, the base line in this example will be that thing that I started talking about, the story I set out to tell.  For today, we'll use the color purple, and why it's my favorite.

Now, imagine that as a straight line.  Everytime I remember something else I want to say, or get reminded of anther story, that creates a line that branches off from the main line, and if while telling a side story, I think of another story, then that story is added on to the branch, sort of like a wonky family tree of stories...

Now, this smart man who is my friend went a step further, and identified the most common phrases that indicate a branch is about to begin.  From what I can recall, and in thinking of the way I speak, here's an abbreviated list:
Oh! That reminds me...
And another thing...
And one time...
Which is funny because...

Of course, if I ever remember my original intent, there is often the utterance of:
What was I talking about?
How did we get here?
Um... where was I?
Which is followed by "Oh! right..."

So in the end, you wind up with something like this, for the following conversation:

So, purple is my favorite color, as I've said lots before, and it's been my favorite color as long as I can remember.  Purple and pink were my favorites when I was little, which is funny because when I was little I called it "purkle" and now my whole family still pronounces it that way when talking to me, Oh! That reminds me, my friend's mom used to say it "permple" like her whole life, not just as a kid... what was I talking about? Oh, right...  so, I always said I had two favorite colors, because I have a hard time making decisions, but purple was always one of them.  Purple and pink, then purple and blue, then purple and green, which is eventually what I had for my wedding, although it's strange to me that even though it's my favorite color, none of my formal dresses were ever purple.  I wore black, navy, red, ivory, navy again, but not purple.  I think it's because I got teased in middle school for wearing purple all the time, so I stopped wearing it.  I even had these purple acid wash Wranglers.  And another thing, I mean I grew nearly 10 inches in 3 years, so it's not like any of my clothes fit well to begin with, so I got teased about always having high-waters because my pants weren't long enough, and we all know that being a tall girl is hard enough especially in the pants department, because finding pants that are long enough is hard, but finding stylish pants that are long enough is impossible.  And I didn't even have to worry about hips back then.  How did I get here?  Oh! right... so, yeah, I eventually got over being teased and now most of my closet is purple, because it's my favorite color.

All facts represented above are true and acurate. I don't think I've ever had exactly that conversation before... because it isn't really a conversation here, it's more of a rambly monologue... I can't account for the tangents that would be sparked by the introduction of outside information from the people I would share such an innane tale with, so this is a fairly mild example.  Typical true conversations might look more like this:

So, that's a conversation with me... as far as I can remember from the telling from my very smart, wonderful friend.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What a crock!

I'm having a love affair with my crock pot this fall. Now, to be fair, I've always loved my crock pot, but I'm finally putting the little guy to good use!

Last night, I had some girlfriends over for dinner, and like a little cluck of hens, we ate and talked and drank wine.  It was glorious.

The original plan was to put spaghetti sauce on to simmer all day.  Forgetting that, I made spaghetti last week, so spaghetti sauce turned into chili in a hurry.  Really, it's just a matter of switching the spices, as all the rest of the ingredients are the same.

So, chili simmering in the pot, a Tempranillo on the table, and my girlfriends arrive with cinnamon rolls.

Don't roll your eyes.  It's weird, but it's good!  I'd never heard of this odd-ball combination either until I attended the University of Nebraska, and then all the natives insisted that it was the only way to eat chili.  I'm not convinced of its superiority to things like a baked potato topped with chili, or just chili with cheese, onions and oyster crackers, but it is good.  It's not just the contrast of sweet with savory, which my brother strangely detests.  A pinch of cinnamon in a pot of chili just does something amazing to the spices.  Alton Brown could probably explain the chemistry behind it, but it makes the chili and cumin seem richer by comparison.  Like adding a little chili powder to hot chocolate...

Anyway, it's been a week full of soup-y goodness.  My husband made beer-cheese soup on Monday, and we both want to tweak the recipe a little, though not at all in the same way, so we'll wind up with two different versions of the soup before all is said and done.

And we recently acquired 10 lbs of fresh cow, so there's a rump roast just waiting for a date with the crock pot next week.  I've got a tortilla-type soup recipe that's sort of like Truvy's "a cup, a cup, a cup" recipe, only it's a can, a can, a can--black beans, corn, and tomatoes w/ green chilies.  Of course, then you pick a rotisserie chicken clean, cover it with broth & ignore it for a few hours.  Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream if you wish... mmmm... I'm making myself hungry (which is remarkable as I haven't been able to smell anything for 3 days, so nothing really sounds good.  Worst part about a cold really--it robs food of all it's fabulosity...).

I think my favorite thing about the crock pot isn't the convenience or the simplicity.  No, it's the smell.  You walk in to the house and everything smells good.  It reminds me of being young and coming home to find Mom cooking.  The smell is the invitation and anticipation.  It means you've made real food from real ingredients.  It's what makes a house a home... the smell of a good meal. 

So show your crock pot some love soon.  You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a cuppa tea

Alright, so not being English, or an avid tea drinker, I'm a little slow in jumping on the tea bandwagon. Mostly because tea is, in my mind, the thing you drink when you're cold or have a cold. This is not helped by the fact that my husband drinks some pretty foul concoctions.

Mom drank coffee black, Dad drank tea, sweet with milk. I like my tea black... or did, until I started creaming & sugaring it into submission, much the same way I do with coffee that isn't mixed in with my hot chocolate. That also might be because I started off drinking only fruit teas--mostly Lemon Zinger, and a peach something. Of course, there was green tea with Chinese food too.

Now I've branched out and drink all of the "regular" teas: Earl & Lady Gray, Irish & English Breakfast, Constant Comment and the rest of the standard Twinnings. I still don't care for chamomile or warm mint, but I'm usually game to try most of the other flavors.

See, my friends like tea. They like lots of tea. They like good tea, and they like a wide variety of tea. I'm still learning the language, so I don't always know just by the name whether a particular tea is black, green, white or red. I'm not sure what an Oolong is, but I like it. I don't yet own a tea ball or other method of preparing loose tea, but it's on my list.

My favorite tea is still a little gem from a place in San Jose called Lisa's Tea Treasures. My mom's friend Anne, who's been like an adopted aunt my whole life, took me to Lisa's one summer, and I bought this delicious vanilla jasmine tea. Fast forward ten years to the kitchen of my friend Kathleen, who is one of the many tea-lovers in my world, who introduced me to a beautiful vanilla caramel tea. So, we're standing there, and I'm browsing her teas, and I get a whiff of something deliciously familiar... I look and see the bag and think, "no... can't be!" But it is. There in her kitchen is my favorite tea... and I have no idea how she managed to get it all the way from California, but I'm intrigued and excited and want to do the same. Sadly, turns out it was nothing more than having a friend from the area bring some back for her.

This past weekend, Kathleen brought out another Lisa's gem... champagne raspberry oolong... with cream and sugar and a little 43, it was the perfect thing to take the edge off a chilly morning.

After throwing a tea and cake baby shower, I've got a craving to host another tea party. The last one I had was when I was about 13, and my mom was awesome enough to track down crumpets for my girlfriends and I.

So, next time I have a free weekend, I'm gonna gather some girlfriends, enable us all to wear frilly dresses, gloves and hats, and drink tea, eat tiny cakes and sandwiches, and talk about the weather.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thunderbolts and Lightning...

I actually like the rain. It makes me want to snuggle up and read, and anything that makes me want to do that is good in my book.

I don't like floods or leaky basements though. See, there was this house in Richardson, a quadplex thingy, with a basement.

I'll give it a minute to sink in. A basement. In North Texas.


Anyway, said basement had no sump pump, concrete floors, and a leak.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tony, Tony look around! Something's lost and must be found!

Alright, I lose stuff.

It happens to everyone sometime, but it happens to me more often that I'd like to admit. Most of the time I've just misplaced something and forgotten where I moved it to. Sometimes I just forget things at home, or at the office, or at a friend's house...anywhere but where I am when I need it.

On Saturday, I lost my keys. Very frustrating, as I can't drive without them. (I should really learn how to hot-wire a car for emergencies.) I went out to the car to look for something else I had misplaced (stop laughing!) and decided that since I was just going to be leaving in a few minutes, I would leave the stuff I needed to take to the place I was going in the car, but I made sure to keep my keys in my hand so as not to lock them in the car (see, I sometimes learn from my forgetfulness).

I took the stuff out of my car that wasn't what I needed for the evening. It was leftover stuff from the previous weekend's activities that had never made it back inside, including a pair of jeans that I had turned the house upside down (in an exaggerated, non-literal way) looking for, going so far as to accuse my poor, innocent husband of stealing, hiding, eating or otherwise destroying or removing from this plane of existence all my jeans.

Anyway, I took that stuff in, with my keys in my hand.

I set that stuff down, looking though it to try to find the other thing I had misplaced. I didn't find it. I kept looking, including places I'd already looked in twice before, and eventually found the long-lost hair schmutz. Hooray! Now, to go pick up my friend and get on with the evening's festivities.

Now, where did I put my keys?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Honey... where's the ______?

My husband hates it when I "pick up" because I move things that he knew the location of (the middle of the floor, on the counter, under the couch) and put them in other places that he doesn't know because he wasn't there and I won't remember in more than 5 minutes.

So, with that information, I present this e-mail conversation, circa yesterday:

Him: We didn't actually buy a wet-vac...
Me: We did to buy a wet vac... at the very end!  Didn't we?
Him: Nope. If we did, where'd it go?
Me: in the garage... with all the other stuff... the little red thing...
Him: Little red thing? What little red thing? Surely not the leafblower...
Me: No no no, looks like a bucket with a black lid... you know... like a wet vac...
Him: I have NO clue what you're talking about.
Me: This is what a wet vac looks like:

Him: I know what a wet-vac looks like.  I have no clue what, in our house, you think is a wet-vac. Where in the garage do you think this mystery sucker is?
Me: somewhere... under some stuff... maybe near the back...
Him: Define 'back'.
Me: where the door is... the garage door, not the... garage door.  Away from the house.
Him: I present to you, some things from our garage which are red...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Whistle while you work to a happy little working song

Chores.  We all have them.  We all do them.  There are some that are better than others.

The chores that I avoid at all costs (at this point in my life I relegate them to my husband):
  • sweeping/mopping
  • ironing
  • yard work of any kind
The chores I avoid or try to pass off to my husband as often as possible:
  • taking out the trash
  • cleaning litter boxes
  • cleaning the bathroom (especially sinks)
The chores I don't particularly like or mind:
  • dishes (though I like the emptying of the dishwasher more than the loading)
  • washing/drying laundry (by which I mean the taking of clothes to the washing maching & transfering to the dryer)
  • folding/hanging clothes (gives me an excuse to watch a movie)
The chores I really like to do:
  • vacuum!  It's fast, it makes noise, and it makes an immediate & noticable difference in the appearance of a room. 
  • Put the folded/hung clothes away.  It frees up so much space & makes me feel like I can go shopping in my own closet again.
  • Organizing the miscelaneous crud that accumulates on our horizontal surfaces.  I'm just weird like that.
The purpose of this is really to help me put off doing some chores right now actually. 
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