Monday, December 28, 2009

Something akin to conscience

This weekend I experienced something that I think is what people mean by 'a fit of conscience'. Actually, it was more a surge of fear of getting busted, but that's close enough, isn't it?

The Good Liz thinks it's mean-spirited to post the Ultimate Letters of Obscene Oversharing for humorous purposes. The Bad Liz is too busy laughing her ass off at the sheer genius of it to care.

As always, I have strong feelings both ways.

So, a compromise: I am going to post them, because I can't not, but I will take them down before I leave work on Dec. 31st. That will give us all time to delight in their beauty, but will significantly lessen the probability that another recipient (and why do I think there may be numerous recipients?) will stumble across it and rat me out to the author.

So enjoy the season, my twelves of readers! For this, like Russian Tea Cakes and Christmas bonuses, shall not last.

Also, I may have another letter for you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chillaxmas to the max

You thought Ides of Meatloaf was fun? Dude, you gotta try Chillaxmas!

Assemble in advance:
  • New, festive pajamas for each attendee, washed and dried. Gift wrapping is optional.

  • Six to eight (or ten?) hours worth of snacks, goodies, finger foods, appetizers, desserts, candy, and beverages; ideally foods that don't require cutlery. Pot luck is awesome if you can get away with it.

  • Six/eight/ten hours of group activities. Ideally this would be a movie or TV series marathon, but a new game system will work. TiVo-ed TV episodes and/or old-school board and card games can also be employed.

  • Comfortable (nap-capable?) seating for all attendees in communal entertainment space, with adequate table space for snacks/games.

Chillaxmas Day:
  • Festivities begin around noon on December 25th, after those who celebrate Christmas have done their thing.

  • Pajamas are distributed as attendees arrive and immediately donned.

  • First round of treats are made available in the communal entertainment space.

  • Optional gift exchange.

  • Movie/show/games begin.

  • Treats are replenished regularly.

  • Adult beverages can be included as appropriate.

  • A nap break is optional, but it shouldn't disrupt the flow of the day. The goal is to chillax en masse.

The celebration is over when it's over. Hey, man, no pressure.

Chillaxmas? WTF is that?

It was originally conceived (by me) as a pseudo-Christmas celebration for those (me) who are no longer into the church thing or the Santa thing. It might also be fun to celebrate it on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Or whenever the hell you feel like it, really.

This will be our second Chillaxmas, although last year it didn't have a name. Next year I'm thinking of adding a Festivus Pole. It would be awesome to make Sandra Lee's Kwanzaa Cake* a centerpiece of the celebration, but I would never expect anyone to actually eat it. Plus, I don't think I could bring myself to do that to an innocent angel food cake.

So go forth and Chillaxmas, my friends. You've earned it!

* Oh yes she did!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Longest hour of my life

Or 'Baking cookies with a short attention span'

Christmas! Cookies! Yay! Gonna make the cookies, gonna make the cookies. Cookies!

Dig recipe out of three ring binder stuffed with clippings from newspapers, handwritten index cards, and tons of recipes printed out from online. Finally find the one clipped from the back of the bag of chips. Nothing beats the original. How many times have I made this recipe? Can't even begin to count.

Check recipe for wet ingredients. Butter, eggs, equal amounts of each sugar, vanilla... cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then add vanilla. Got it. Done this a bazillion times.

Go to pantry, get white sugar. Walk back to kitchen. Get brown sugar from cupboard.

Retrieve two eggs from fridge. How much butter? Check recipe. Oh that's right, one cup. That's two sticks, right? Check butter wrapper. Yep, each stick is half a cup. OK. Grab two sticks. Damn, that's a lot of butter. But it makes sixty cookies, so that's like just over an eighth of an ounce per cookie. Not so bad.

Go to auxiliary appliance storage on sun porch, retrieve stand mixer, bowl, and paddle. Unplug coffee maker and plug in mixer.

Gotta cream butter and sugar, right? Check recipe. Shit, butter has to be room temp. Cut butter into small chunks into mixing bowl to increase surface area. Find something else to do while it warms up. Didn't someone have a trick for softening the butter? What was it? Crap, can't remember. Oh well.

Check recipe for dry ingredients. Two and a quarter cups of flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt. Got it.

Go back to the pantry, pull out the flour, carry it back to the kitchen. Get mixing bowl from cupboard. Dig out measuring cups and spoons.

OK, how much flour again? Check recipe. Two and a quarter cups, then one teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Right. No problem. Got it.

Pull baking soda from cupboard. Two and a quarter cups of flour, right? Check recipe. Right. Not supposed to fluff the flour before measuring. Well, maybe just a little fluff. Measure and dump.

How much baking soda again? Check recipe. One teaspoon. Measure and dump.

Salt... how much? I just had it. Check recipe. Oh yeah, one teaspoon, same as the soda. I should have remembered that. Measure and dump.

OK. Whisk dry stuff together because sifting is for pussies.

Check butter. Still really cold. Shit.

OK, white sugar. Check recipe. Measure three-fourths cup onto paper plate.

Brown sugar? Check recipe. Same as white sugar, should have remembered that. Add brown sugar to paper plate. Try to scoop it into a pile so it doesn't overflow.

Check butter. Still cold. hold hands against side of mixer bowl to help warm it up. This is going to take forever.

How about the oven? Need to get that started. Check recipe. 375 degrees, of course. Turn on oven. Oven runs hot, so dial it back to 350 degrees. Maybe that's too much? Move it up a little. Then back a little. There, that should do it.

Pull out cookie sheets. Walk back to sun porch and retrieve parchment sheet. Fold sheet in half and cut with a knife while holding in mid-air. Love that trick! Line pans with parchment.

Check butter. Shit. Maybe beating it would warm it up. Was that the trick? Turn on mixer, watch butter chunks get massacred. Mess around with mixer speed. Hey, it's working. I think that was the trick.

Dump sugars from paper plate into mixer bowl, scoop up the tablespoon or so that ended up on the counter. Examine for coffee grounds and toast crumbs. Clean enough; add to mixer bowl.

Let butter and sugar get busy. Didn't America's Test Kitchen say that you really had to beat the crap out of it for it to do any good? Somebody said that. Better let it go for awhile. Mess around with mixer speed. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Start mixer again.

What's next? Check recipe. Vanilla. Pull vanilla from cupboard. Does vanilla go bad? I've had that huge bottle from Costco forever... did I move it from the old house? I think so. Was that really three years ago? Damn. No, it can't go bad. it's mostly alcohol. Smells OK.

Is it done creaming yet? Hmmm... better let it go a little longer. What does 'creamy' look like, anyway? Wish they would be more specific. I think someone said it had to be 'fluffy'. Is it fluffy?

Stare at mixer bowl for awhile. Mess with the mixing speed. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Start mixer again. Just leave it alone, for chrissake!

Wander into living room to bother spouse who is busy killing aliens.

Wander back to kitchen. OK, that's close enough. Add one egg. Watch it incorporate. Mess with mixer speed. Add other egg. Mess with mixer speed some more. Stop and scrape sides of bowl. Lick fingers. Scoff at salmonella.

Beep! Oven's ready.

Sheesh, this is taking forever. Turn mixer on slow and add flour mixture. Pat self on back for not making a huge mess. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Lick spatula.

Shit! Forgot vanilla. How much vanilla? Check recipe. One teaspoon. Add vanilla, turn mixer back on really high; really gotta get it mixed in well. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Lick spatula.

OK, something's missing. Chips! How many? Check recipe. Two cups. OK.

Walk back to pantry for chips. Return to kitchen. How many chips? Check recipe. Two cups, stir in by hand... ummmm, no.

Add chips to mixer bowl, turn mixer back on really high but just for a few seconds. There. Close enough.

Turn off mixer, remove bowl. Scrape down bowl, stir by hand for a few seconds. Lick fingers. Lick spatula. Lick paddle.

How big should the scoops be? Check recipe. Heaping tablespoons. Oh that will never fly around here. Dig dishers out of gadget drawer. The yellow one is way too big. The purple (plum?) one or the black one? The purple one is probably a tablespoon. The black one is probably twice as big.

Return purple disher to gadget drawer.

How far apart? Check recipe. Doesn't specify. Portion cookie dough onto cookie sheet, fitting them in as close as possible while maintaining just enough distance to avoid threat of them melting into one giant cookie. Why is it that they never taste the same when you bake them in bar form? Doesn't make any sense, but it's true.

Lick fingers frequently, pick up and eat any stray bits that fall on the counter. Remove and eat build-up of dough around the end of the disher.

Slide first cookie sheet into oven. How long to cook? Nine to eleven minutes. Set timer for ten minutes.

Fill second cookie sheet, trying not to lick fingers quite so often. Try to ensure that there are no cookies with too many or too few chips.

Finish filling second sheet. Eight minutes left.

Tidy up counters, put away ingredients, throw out trash, rinse out mixing bowls.

Three minutes left.

Wander out to bother spouse again. Settle in on the couch.

Beep! First batch is done. Finally!

Open over door. Hmmm... are they brown enough? Maybe another minute? Set oven timer for two minutes to compensate for temperature drop caused by standing there with the door open.

Pull out cooling racks and arrange on dining room table. Return to kitchen and watch timer count down the last 0:43.


Open door. Close enough. Pull out hot cookies, slide in cold cookies. Carry hot cookie sheet to dining room table. Cookie sheet won't sit flat on one trivet. Try to snag another trivet without dropping the cookie sheet or burning self.

Slide parchment from sheet pan to cooling rack. Damn, those smell good!

Return to kitchen. Put sheet pan in sink. Run cold water on it and watch it steam. Check timer.

Shit, forgot to set timer. How long has it been? Five minutes? Three minutes? Hmmm.... ten minutes plus two minus one... oven is hotter now, second batch always cooks quicker....

Set timer for six minutes.

Wander out to dining room to poke at hot cookies. Still too hot to mess with. Wander into living room. Spouse is still killing aliens. Settle in to watch five minutes of something stupid on TV.

Beep! About friggin' time.

Open oven door. Cookies are a little on the brown side, but not burnt. Oh well. Carry hot sheet pan to dining room table. Slide parchment onto empty cooling rack.

Hey, first batch is cool enough to handle! Peel off two cookies. Stuff one in mouth. Cookie dough, hot cookies, and cooled cookies are three completely different sensory experiences. How awesome is that? Eye cookie in other hand. Walk into living room and hand other cookie to spouse. Feel virtuous.

Walk back to kitchen through dining room. Oops, that one's broken. Better put it out of its misery.

How many was this supposed to make? Check recipe. Sixty? Are you kidding me? I got what? Forty? Almost?

Grab glass of water and Tums for stomach ache.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Halfway there

I was born in the last half of the last month of the Fifties. It doesn't take much math to figure out what that means. I am now officially old, and have the AARP application in hand to prove it.

Here's how old I am:
  • I remember when JFK was shot. I was three.

  • I remember getting our first color TV.

  • I remember the first manned moon landing.

  • When I was in sixth grade, we lobbied to be allowed to wear pants under our dresses in the winter. Indiana winters are cold, and most of us had to walk to school. Although it wasn't uphill both ways because there are no hills in central Indiana. We were eventually allowed to wear pantsuits. PANT SUITS! They only come in polyester, you know.

  • In high school, my class was the first to be allowed to use calculators instead of being taught the slide rule.

  • I bought into the disco craze. Sorry.

Physically, I feel fifty; no doubt about that. The betrayal that started at forty has picked up steam, and my body is now constantly finding new and creative ways to mess with me. None of the things I took for granted in decades past still hold.

Oh, and I now have my grandmother's body from the waist down. And not the skinny grandmother, either. Thanks, Dad.

But inside, although I am wa-a-ay more battle-scarred and weather-worn than ten years ago, I don't feel grown up yet. I feel I'm not qualified to be fifty. I swear too much and am not nearly serious enough. I am way too silly to be an adult.

Plus, I'm a newlywed! By definition, newlyweds aren't supposed to be old. They're supposed to be young and have way too much sex, which is another thing fifty-year-olds aren't supposed to do.

The only thing that is really bugging me about this major milestone is despite my bravado, I have to accept I'm already more than halfway 'there', wherever 'there' is. And that kind of blows.

While I await the inevitable, AARP has my back. Did you know has an awesome Games section? You think I'm bullshitting? Check this out:

That's hours of amusement, folks. Mmrrroww!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guilty Pleasures III: What the frak?

I'm almost there! I'm almost through Battlestar Galactica. This week I started Season 4.5, the last ten episodes. It's been a bittersweet journey, knowing it was ending just as I was getting into it, especially when the final episode aired this spring around the time I hit Season 3. The finale is still sitting on my TiVo and it's taken every gram of willpower to not watch it, which probably explains why I gained ten pounds this year.

Yeah, yeah, I know. You don't get it. Why all the fuss? What if I told you it was packed full of sheer, unadulterated awesomeness? No? You need proof? I got your proof right here (heh, heh). This helpful video from Disc 1 of Season 4.5 will take you up through Season 3 (I think) in just over eight minutes.

Be forewarned, though; you'll never look at your toaster the same way again.

OK, so I lied about the toaster thing. It's still frakkin' awesome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Paved with good intentions

Got this in yesterday's mail*. Glanced at it and tossed it in the discard pile.

On the way to the recycling bin, I flipped it over.

The photo isn't clear and I really want you to get the full effect so here are the last two paragraphs of qualifiers and disclaimers for your viewing pleasure.
To qualify, you must be the primary source of income for your household and have lost your primary employment between the period of September 2008 and November 2009, OR the primary residence in which your household resides has been the subject of mortgage foreclosure on the first mortgage and foreclosure is still in effect as of claim date.

Please contact store for additional details. Proof of job loss or foreclosure must be presented when claiming free necklace. Limit one per household. Necklace provided on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last. Limited to residents of
[this] County.

Really, Mr. High-end Jeweler? Members of the community struggling in this "downturn economy" can come to your fancy pants jewelry showroom, show your salespeople documentation containing highly-sensitive personal information proving that they are out of work, can't support their families, and/or are about to be kicked out of "the primary residence in which [their] household resides".... and you'll give them a fucking NECKLACE!?

That's swell. I'm all choked up. Seriously, dude, you rock. Although next time, consider giving away 95 necklaces and using the money from the other five to hire a copywriter and proofreader. Please.

One of my favorite parts is the name of the free gift event. I don't want to open myself to allegations of trademark violation, but it describes a specific type of winged heavenly being with, as Merriam-Webster Online puts it, "a cool, cocky, defiant, or arrogant manner."

Oh! Now I get it, the connection between being jobless and potentially homeless and... wait. No I don't. I don't get it at all. Have I gone completely over to the bitter, sarcastic side, or is this one of the most ridiculous marketing gimmicks of all time?

You know me well enough to know I would never, ever do this, but there is a wee, small part of me that is dying to go stand out front of their showroom and scream "WTF were you thinking?!?"

(In case you're curious, the necklace is rather... feminine looking in an, ahem, organic sort of way, IYKWIM. That might just be me, though.)

* Yes, I sanitized it for my your protection. Because I am a pussy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Simple pleasures

Kifed this from Facebook, I think. Had to share.

I fucking love it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Get off me now, I'm done

It was tough there for a spell, but I am now two for two in the NaNoWriMo department. I finished up Sunday night with just over 50,000 words. Sure, I could have written more today, but I am so toasted you can probably smell it from there.

The good news is that once I got around the roadblock, I ended up not hating the story after all. Considering where I was a week ago, I call that a rousing success.

The next decision is whether to partake of the CreateSpace coupon code for a free proof copy. That would give me through June to edit the thing. Sounds like plenty of time, but I've never edited anything longer than a blog post, and it's a little intimidating.

All in all, November has been a month full of Very Important and Memorable Events, but I'm ready to move on now, thanks. I'm eager to think about something other than wedding-ing and novel-ing.

(Did I mention we're getting a Wii for Christmas?? Wheeeee!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm a donkey on the edge

As I just whined to Evil Twin, I came this close to abandoning NaNoWriMo last night. Why would I choose to bail out with only a week left?

For one, I got cocky this time (I know, you're surprised) and didn't spend hardly any time thinking about my plot. Last year I lucked out, falling into a storyline with a fair amount of action, and it was pretty easy to follow it to the end. This year, about 30K in, I had to toss in one of the moldiest old plot devices of all time just to stop my character from sitting on the couch weeping and eating Thai take-out. Then I discovered it's really hard to work on something I know is lame. Surprise!

Also, as you know, Mr. B is also NaNo-ing this year. Truth is, his story is more interesting than mine and that makes me pout.

It all boiled down to a bruised ego, which decided to explode right around bedtime. Mr. B fulfilled his husbandly duties admirably by talking me into backing away from the delete key and even got me to agree to forge ahead.

So, in the true spirit of NaNoWriMo, I'm going to step back and try to plot out a story arc that will get me through to the end without too much humiliation. Maybe I should have stuck with the WoW concept after all.

Oh well. No guts, no glory; no blood, no band-aid.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Could you do me a favor?

A while back I was pondering various story arcs for my upcoming NaNo project. I had a couple of characters and a basic premise, but wasn't sure exactly where to take them*.

At one point I decided my main character, a middle aged woman**, would be intrigued by the Mr. T Night Elf Mohawk commercials and get sucked into playing World of Warcraft. That would be cool because it would distract her from her goal and seriously upset the other character.

(Not that Mr. B and I have any personal experience with that sort of thing. Nope, none whatsoever.)

In the name of research, I thought I should install the free trial of WoW so I could document the experience of a noob with authority. Mr. B was completely supportive and very generously offered to help, but we had to wait for a couple of nights when Young Son was not around since there is not enough Nickelodeon in the world to distract a ten year old boy from those sorts of graphics. They can smell them, you know. So on a non-Young-Son weekend, with Mr. B at my side, I downloaded and installed the game and went about setting up a character.

It was pretty fun, especially with Mr. B there to fill me in on the important details as I stumbled along. See, even though I fly my geek flag with pride, I never got into the whole role playing game thing because of my pesky short attention span. Wasting time thrashing around trying to figure things out is just way too frustrating. Don't sit there watching me flail, just tell me how to freaking do it already! But with the assistance of my highly experienced guide, it was a downright pleasant experience.

Even with Mr. B acting as my personal cheat code, I noticed warning signs early on, as soon as my character took to the streets... er, forests. I had to approach people with exclamation points over their head, and they would tell me a little story then task me with collecting a million venom sacs or sparkly flowers or pelts, which I would have to run around and deliver to characters with questions marks over their heads, who would invariably give me another list of stuff to find. Once I figured out how to walk and turn around, it seemed a little repetitive.

Sure, there was some sweet swag to be had - I was especially thrilled when I got some rad chain mail pants, only to discover I couldn't wear metal - and looting the corpses of the spiders and wildcats was entertaining, but around day three when I found myself running up the same damned ramp to the top floor of the same damned treehouse to hand over some venom sacs, only to be told I had to run to the next village and deliver some other shit there, well, I hit the wall.

That's when it all became clear. I realized the game consisted mainly of doing fucking chores, and as a veteran mom, wife, and general admin chief of the household, the last thing I want to do in my spare time is play a game that consists of being tasked with a never-ending shopping list, even if I do get to slay various creatures with spells and swords and look exceptionally fabulous doing so. It was a tough call, though; my boobs and thighs were incredible.

Mr. B tried to explain that as one progressed in the game, the errand-running quotient decreased, hunt-and-fetch being replaced by more complicated, interesting problems to solve.

Ummmm, no thanks. I have plenty of complicated, interesting problems to solve.

And that was the end of that. From that night on, my Night Elf (or whatever the hell I was) languished, untouched. The free trial expired. My NaNo character had to settle for an addiction to romance novels.

As for games, screw the MMOPRGs. Just leave me to my Freecell and Spider Solitaire and I'll be happy. I'll just have to make do with my own boobs and thighs.

* Despite the past tense, three weeks in that's still pretty much the case.

** OK, so I write what I know. Sue me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Guys and Gals

Mr. B and I are still slogging through our individual NaNoWriMo projects. Evil Twin is one of a very few people allowed to read our unedited crap work, mainly because she is on the Other Coast and we don't have to see her face as she tells us how well we're doing.

We did, however, see her face in Las Vegas last week for the wedding. I didn't want to put her on the spot by asking what she thought, but she did volunteer that she was enjoying reading both projects. She especially appreciated our different styles; in fact, that difference brought a particular email forward to mind.

I knew exactly the one she was thinking of. It took awhile to find it, but as I never throw anything out, it was just a matter of time.

Here it is, just as I received it from the Ex almost exactly two years ago.

This came from an English professor at the University of Colorado*, from an actual class assignment.

The professor told his class one day: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right or left. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph, and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on, back-and-forth."

"Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails, and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students: Rebecca and Gary.


(First paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(Second paragraph by Gary )
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said, into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far." But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel", Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anudrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dimwitted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through the Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty, the Anudrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F--KING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!"




In your dreams, Ho. Go drink some tea.

A+ - I really liked this one!

You know what? Evil Twin was right. Mr. B and I had talked about working on a joint project someday. Suddenly, I'm thinking not so much...

* Call me irresponsible, but I didn't verify the veracity of this claim. If it's fake, I don't want to know. La-la-laaaa I can't hear youuuuu!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's official

What's a wedding without a crappy cell phone portrait?


Friday, November 6, 2009

Initial conditions

Chatting with Sister today:
S: "What did you decide about the name thing?"

L: "Oh, I'm just going with Mr. B's. I was tired last week and decided that writing out both last names was just too much hassle. Besides, if I stick with his name, my initials will be E.A.T. How can I pass that up?"

S: "That's priceless! Too bad you're not a medical examiner."

L: "Why?"

S: "Then you'd be E.A.T., M.E."

Oh yeah.

In 48 hours I'll be en route to Las Vegas. I'll be out all next week, but will probably poke my head in here to post something for you.

In the meantime, have fun with it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More pre-wedding porn

The wedding goodness just keeps on a'coming. I've added a few new pix to the slideshow on the left for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

As for NaNoWriMo, there's a good chance I'll break 10K today... if I can think of something to write about. But no pressure, right?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Running in place

Five days till we catch a plane... huff, huff week till the wedding... gasp ...NaNoWriMo in full swing... cough, cough ...who said this was a good idea? I should kick their ass.

Broke 6000 today. Not quite the wild ride I experienced last year, but it's coming along. Three days down, twenty-seven to go....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Speaking of public restrooms

Here's something I've been curious about for awhile and I need to know what you think.

OK, say you have to pee. You approach a toilet that obviously has been recently cleaned. You know it's been cleaned because the the water is still tinged with blue, indicating the person responsible neglected to give that final flush to clear the last traces of the toilet bowl cleaner.

Do you sit and do your business, or do you flush first?

I know it's a dreadful waste of water, but I must flush first. I am afraid that a) there might be splashback, causing traces of the cleaning solution to come in contact with my, uh, lady parts, which can't be good, and/or b) the ammonia in the urine will react in some violent manner with the chemicals in the cleanser and release a toxic gas that will knock me out. And wouldn't that be embarrassing? Perhaps even more embarrassing than flooding the joint with one's coat.

But what about toilets with water colored blue on purpose, with those giant Sweetart-looking things? Well, I'm not a fan, but I figure it must be fairly safe to pee in that water. I haven't seen Mythbusters tackle any myths on hazardous blue potty water so it must be OK.

Go ahead and laugh, but I'm not as bad as Young Son, though. If he enters the bathroom to find a tissue floating in an apparently clean bowl, he must flush before proceeding.

What about you guys? Is it just me?

Maybe next time we can discuss leaving the faucet on while brushing one's teeth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When it rains...

Look, a missive from Evil Twin! And it's a good one, too.
Hubby’s high school reunion was weekend before last. I am a dutiful wife, so when he asked me to go with him, I agreed. It’s always a good thing to get extra wife points.

He went to a private school which bears a remarkable resemblance to Hogwarts School of Wizardry.

The weather forecast for the weekend was grim. Temperatures in the low 40s with high winds and 2 inches of rain predicted. I packed accordingly. Saturday morning was just miserable. We left the hotel for the school to attend all the stuff Hubby signed up for. Which was everything.

We began to run into members of his old crowd, and after lunch, we all headed to the homecoming game. Fortunately, there was a break in the rain, but it was still cold and windy. The football field was behind the school, up a winding road through the woods at the top of a hill. It was a ten-minute walk, but they had provided shuttle buses for the old and infirm, which I guess we are, now.

We found seats in the bleachers, and Hubby kept bringing me large cups of coffee to keep me warm. Of course, after an hour, nature was calling my name, and it was beginning to rain again. There were two port-a-potties at the end of the field, with long lines. The thought of resting my ass on cold plastic, with my coat bunched up around my middle, and then not being able to wash my hands was all it took for me to hail a shuttle going down to the school.

"Take me to the closest ladies’ room, if you please," I said to the driver, and she did.

I found it down a long, dark hallway. When I got inside, I locked the door. It was the handicapped toilet – a one-seater. My coat was wet, and I don’t pee very well while wearing a coat, so I took it off. There was no place to hang it. No hook, nothing. So, carefully placing the wet side down, I draped it across the sink. I was seriously running out of time, and ran over to the john to do my thing.

Finished, straightening my clothes, zipping zippers, tucking things in, I sashay over to the sink to find my wool-lined raincoat filling up with water. The goddamned sink had a motion detector, and the coat had set it off. The entire basin, lined with the raincoat, was full, and now, water was pouring onto the floor.
CRAP! CrapCrapCrapCrap! The only way to stop it was to remove the coat. About two gallons of water poured out of my coat onto the floor. My pockets were full. The cuffs were full. The woolen lining was completely soaked. The damn coat now weighs 20 pounds.

Rattle. Rattlerattle. Someone is at the door, and wants to use the bathroom. "I guess it’s locked," says one woman to another. "Excuse us, is anyone in there?" I froze, keeping my mouth shut. "I guess this one is closed off. I know where another one is." And they left.

I surveyed the damage. There was about half an inch of water on the floor, with no floor drain. My coat was sopping wet. I began pumping the paper towel dispenser. You know the kind where you push down on the knob, and it dispenses about 12 inches of paper. Yep, that one.
Pump. Pump, pumppump. Pumpumpumpumpumpumpumpumpumpumpump!!

I threw the paper on the floor, and the only thing that happened was I ended up with 15 feet of sodden paper floating in a sea of bathroom water. I was going to have to cut my losses. I scooped up the paper, threw it in the trash bin, and carefully unlocked the door. I peeked my head out and saw the coast was clear. I grabbed the 20-pound coat and dashed down the hallway, leaving a trail of water. Once I got outside, I was safe, because no one could follow the trail of water since it was raining. I ran the two blocks to the parking lot, and got into our car. I was freezing and wet, my hair plastered against my head, my makeup gone.

I spent the next hour trying to warm up and get dry. The inside of the car fogged up.

My phone rang. Hubby asks, "Where ARE you?"

"I’m in the car trying to get warmed up."

"What happened?"

"It’s a long story."

"Well the reception is beginning in the main hall, and everyone is asking where you are."

And so I went.

Could there possibly be enough Wife Points in the world to make that all better? I'm guessing she enjoyed an adult beverage or two at the reception. What do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And the winner is....

According to the fine folks at, Virg is our lucky winner!

So Virg, go ahead and email me at anywayiwasjustthinking -at- gmail -dot- com with your mailing address and Amazon will have a package headed your way pronto. And if you get it to me by Monday, you could have your prize in hand before NaNoWriMo starts.

OMG - is it really only a week away? I think I just peed a little....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Last chance (and bonus track)

First a reminder that this is your last chance to enter my totally spontaneous and un-sponsored giveaway. It's easy! All you gotta do is click on the link and leave a comment to enter. I'll do the drawing and post the results tomorrow morning. If you want to comment anonymously, that's cool too. Just be sure to check back tomorrow for instructions on how to get your contact info to me.

Anyway, sorry for the overall lack of light-hearted-osity lately, but it's been weird around here. I'm totally stoked for the wedding, yet for some reason I'm drag-assing around like it's February. I did just up my meds this week so hopefully sometime next week I'll be able to approximate normal.

But enough about my medicine cabinet. This song seemed to capture my mood this week. I can't say it's a Friday Rocker, but it sure is a Friday Groover. What do you think?

Actually, Charlie, that sounds like a damned fine plan. I'll be right over.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Please Enter My First Giveaway!

Wow! Only 16 days until NaNoWriMo and I'm getting psyched. A few weeks back I was concerned I wouldn't be able to get fired up in time, what with the WEDDING and all, but lately I can feel myself starting to slip into 'story space' -- almost a trance/daydream state where bits of the story seem to play in my mind like a YouTube video.

Like the other day after work. I was cruising along letting the car drive itself home when I realized my secondary main character was sitting at a desk handwriting a report to headquarters. He shoved back his paper and pen, rose, and shuffled across the dingy room to a battered wooden armoire. He pulled open the door and surveyed the selection of outfits available for that night's mission. With a sigh, he reached up and pulled out the leopard-print thong and the black leather vest with matching assless chaps. He suited up, resigned to another night of indignity.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked. I wouldn't have taken him for the type.

Also, I've learned my main character gets sucked into playing World of Warcraft after she gets laid off. As I am more of a Freecell/Minesweeper type, I've never played any such online games (MMORPG? Is that right?) but Mr. B has, uh, dabbled a bit in the past and generously offered to be my mentor. I downloaded the ten day free trial and am working my way though the noob experience, strictly for research purposes, of course.

Oh yeah, this is going to be fun.

I really do have to hit the ground running because I don't know how much writing I'm going to be able to do during the four says we'll be in LAS VEGAS getting MARRIED. I'd like to build up a good cushion before we leave town for the festivities.

But why should I have all the fun? In honor of my second NaNo -- and Mr. B's first, I hope -- I'm going to give away a copy of the official NaNoWriMo guide, No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, the guy who started it all ten years ago.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post before midnight Friday, October 23rd. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner and post the results on Saturday, October 24th. Be sure to check back so we can make arrangements to ship the prize to the lucky winner.

Even if you aren't interested in doing NaNoWriMo, please go ahead and enter 'cause otherwise I'll end up giving it to Mr. B and we already have a copy at home. You can always re-gift it to a potential novelist. I won't mind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Name Game

One of the benefits of getting married is getting that Free Name Change card. I get to change my last name, just because! How cool is that? Should be simple enough, but is anything I do ever simple, really?

I did think about taking back my maiden name, but I really want to have Mr B's last name. You know, so everyone knows we're part of the same unit and all that*. But... I could take this opportunity to officially include my maiden name somehow.

His name, my name, middle name... what to do? Hey, I smell a spreadsheet!

(What? You thought I was kidding?)

Oddly enough, my maiden name really is the same length as 'Maidenname'. Mr B's last name is only six letters long, but if I go the double-barreled route, that's 16 letters! I just don't know.

The other issue -- and probably more distressing -- is that I will need to change my signature, the one I developed decades ago and now have perfected to a unique and easily identifiable-yet-illegible scrawl. It's almost more of a logo than a signature, really. The thought of actually having to write out my name is really bothering me. It took me probably ten years to come up with my current scribble and I'm not at all excited about repeating that process. Although I could get myself some notebook paper and have at it, middle-school style.

I have no idea what I'm going to do. I suppose I'll find out when I show up at the Social Security office sometime after November tenth.

You think this is bad? You should see me in restaurants. And just imagine what could be accomplished if I ever manage to turn my mental energy toward something productive.

* Hands off, ladies!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Even Harder

I've found some more Daft-mania for your enjoyment. I know, I already posted my favorite "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" vids, but I just saw these and had to share. 'Cause I'm like that.

((Don't worry, these are both Safe For Work)

First, one for those who appreciate the male form:

Like? I think you should watch it a few more times to see if they made any mistakes.

There's even a version for those of us who have embraced the prime of life:

And this one is pretty awesome as well:

I don't know why, but I just love that damned song! I can't remember the last time I danced in public but this song almost makes me want to do it again.

Strange but true: You know what? Mr. B and I have never danced together. I do remember vaguely an event Back In The Day (perhaps my 26th birthday?) where Evil Twin, Mr. B and I may have been on a dance floor at the same time, but there was no actual 'together' involved.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Want Me to Put What? Where?

I get a huge kick from some of the old, whack print ads that can be found in the intertubes. I especially enjoy the ones I actually remember seeing back in the day when we all thought they were completely normal and appropriate. The Tareyton ads always weirded me out, though; as a very young and extremely literal child, I couldn't make the connection between the black shoe polish under the eye and a real black eye.

There's one particular 'vintage' ad I just can't let it pass without comment, even though I am blessed not to have been exposed to it at an impressionable age. I know it's been blogged to death, but every time I see it, or one of its variations, I have to read it again. It holds a horrible fascination for me. Surely I misread it last time. They really can't be suggesting what I think they're suggesting.

You tell me.

I think we can all agree that this is wrong on every level, so I won't bother to expound. However, I would like to take this opportunity to point out to the youngsters out there that as fetching as the styles of the day were, overall it was not a good time to be a female. Consider that your PSA for the day.

Anyway, dysfunctional culture aside, the main reason this ad has a particularly horrific hold on my imagination is because I have an eye-watering, gut-wrenching, drool-producing aversion to the smell of Lysol. And I'm guessing that right about now you're bouncing in your seats, simply dying to know why.

When I was a teen, we moved into a four bedroom house. I immediately claimed a miniscule -- maybe 8' by 8' max? -- office in the corner of the partially-finished basement as my bedroom so I wouldn't have to share a room with any of my three younger siblings. I loved my little hole in the corner, even though it had sheets hanging where two doors should be and all I could fit in there was a cot, a chair, an armoire, and a TV tray to hold my turntable. What else could I possibly need?

We almost always had pets. At that point we had one (maybe even two) dogs and at least one cat. The dog(s) decided they preferred to do their business in the basement. Luckily, the few square feet of floor space I had was usually buried under at least a foot of clothing so my little slice of heaven was spared.

Well, my family of origin was/is full of, uh, colorful and strong-willed characters. It didn't take but no time at all for everyone to decide that it was not his/her job to pick up the fucking poop. Instead, someone would spray the newest pile of warm, fragrant, rust-covered soft-serve with Lysol and drape a paper towel over it. Because, obviously, a pile of shit that reeks of Lysol and is obscured by a paper towel is much less offensive than a plain pile of shit. And there would sit until the smell has dissipated and the mass had dessicated to where it could be handled with, theoretically, less grossitude.

And, because of this very important curing process, the atmosphere in my magical subterranean hideout of teen-aged angst was, at any given moment, positively redolent of aging canine feces and Lysol spray. Even though I only lived in that house for maybe five years, that odor became imprinted on my brain, and not in a good way. Even now, 35 years later, a whiff of Lysol can take me right back.

Mmmmm. Good times. Anyone have a mint?

Hey, if you too enjoy seeing how fucked up the early/mid-20th century was, check out these babies. Then tell me how much better things were in the Olden Tymes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pre-Wedding Porn

Hey, Look! Over in the left sidebar is a slideshow of wedding-y stuff. My dress, shoes, and other random bits are now available for your viewing pleasure. I have a few more pix to add, as soon as I get a few more things bought/made.

Friday, October 2, 2009

You Have No ID

How do you replace your ID if all your ID is expired?

Short answer? Um, sorry, in this post-911 world, there is no short answer. It's every bit as complicated as one might suspect. Let me tell you how I know that.

About six months ago, Lovely Daughter had her purse stolen. We panicked, then she went about getting her debit card replaced which solved the immediate crisis. Since she's not currently driving, the driver's license wasn't an issue. We looked into replacing her stolen ID anyway, since it was all expired, but there was no easy answer and it didn't seem to be an urgent problem. So we blew it off.

A couple of weeks later she got a call from someone who had found her wallet, seemingly intact. O, glorious day! Unfortunately, what followed was an unending tragicomedy of months of missed communications, culminating recently with the news that the finder had taken the address off "one of the cards inside" and mailed the wallet.

Mailed it where? We have no idea. The one address not in the wallet was the current address. I'm guessing we can officially color it lost.

Now what? Shit, it's October! The wedding is coming up in six weeks -- she'll need ID to join us in Vegas. OK, now we can panic. Options? She should probably get a New York State ID. Oops - need a social security card for that. Where is hers? In the wallet. OK, so how do you get a social security card? Oops - requires an unexpired photo ID, like, say a New York State ID. Sorry, expired passports don't count.

So... can't get a social security card without an ID, can't get an ID without a social security card. I'm sensing a slight problem.

Then, in the darkness, a light dawns... what about the expired passport? Can it be renewed? As a matter of fact, it can be renewed by mail, as long as it was issued on or after the age of 16. SCHWEEET!

Wait, when was Lovely Daughter's issued? Age 15 years, 10 months.

Options! I need options, people!

Hey, look, she can re-apply in person. I found the list of required documents on the State Dept site and read it between the fingers clamped over my eyes. I didn't want confirmation that we were officially fucked, even though I was sure we were. Pleaseohpleaseohpleeeeeze, let them not require a social security card....
  1. Undamaged passport? Check.

  2. Birth Certificate? Check

  3. Large chunk of cash? Check! I'll pay whatever you want, just make it stop!
All she has to do is fill out the magic application form, get the photos taken, grab the large chunk of (my) cash and find her way to a (deceptively-optimistically-named) Passport Acceptance Center. In approximately three weeks she may actually have an unexpired ID in hand which will qualify her to start jumping through the SSA and NYS DMV hoops. All will finally be right in the world.

Lesson learned? Aside from the obvious one (Don't ever leave your wallet in your unattended purse slung on the back of a chair in a bar in Manhattan,) do not, under any circumstances, carry your social security card in your wallet. And don't let your passport expire.

Mama needs a drink.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo Essentials for Noob Pantsers I

In approximately 4.5 weeks I'm going to do NaNoWriMo again, even though we're going to VEGAS to get MARRIED after the first week. Even better, I think I've got Mr. B primed to give NaNo a go as well.

It's crazy talk, and I know it.

Problem is, crisis of confidence aside, NaNo is just plain fun. NaNo doesn't care how you do it; all NaNo wants you to do is sit down, shut up, and write 1667 words per day for 30 days. For no good reason, other than at the end you get to say you've written a novel.

How can that not be fun?

Last year, pre-NaNo, I went looking for guidance. Hell, I had never written anything even remotely like a novel before and I had no idea how to approach it. I found blogs and sites where writers had very generously offered up spreadsheets and forms and guidelines about what needed to be done in preparation. Perfect! All I would have to do is fill out the forms and follow the instructions, and I would have my story laid out for me.

Not surprisingly, it didn't quite work out that way. Really, there's no way it could have worked for me. As much as I am drawn to forms and guidelines and the order they promise to bring to my chaotic existence, I am almost always disappointed by them because there is usually no option for 'it depends', my default answer to almost any question. So I cobbled together what I could and winged it.

During my post-NaNo immersion in all things writerly, I learned about Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters are people who use spreadsheets and word counts per scene and index cards and maps and have the entire story figured out before they write the opening sentence. They have a method and a plan, and they stick to it. There is a LOT of information out there for Plotters because, predictably, Plotters like that kind of stuff.

Pantsers (aka seat-of-the-pants writers) tend to go with the flow. I had found my people! Unlike some brave souls, I couldn't quite bring myself to show up on 1 November completely empty-handed -- I do have an inconvenient aversion to failure -- but, being a non-writer, I couldn't find a lot of advice that I could relate to. It's a lot easier to 'pants it' if you already know something about writing fiction.

So with another NaNo staring me in the face and Mr. B wondering how to prepare, I got to thinking: What's the very least a hesitant, inexperienced, failure-adverse Pantser needs to do to have a chance at reaching the NaNo goal?

As a veteran of one whole successful* NaNoWriMo, I am eminently qualified to give absolutely no advice, but that's not going to stop me. Shut the door, pull up a chair, and I'll share with you my secrets, which have a proven track record of one for one.

NaNoWriMo Essentials for Noob Pantsers, Part I
The who, what, and where of it all
What are your favorite types books to read? You'll probably be happiest writing in that genre. I'm a hard-core contemporary fantasy girl -- I love stories set in the real world but with an element of magic mixed in, so that's what I'm sticking with.

Start with a main character and a main problem: What would happen to this type of person if this unexpected thing happened? Like, what would happen if a young actress discovered she could get any part she auditioned for by (fill in the blank) but eventually it starts backfiring? Would hilarity ensue, or tragedy? Your call.

Consider your character's history, physical appearance, goals, motivations, family, etc. Basing your character on people you know saves a lot of time. Pick a physical feature here, an annoying personality trait there, and you'll have it figured out in no time. There may be a sidekick and/or a nemesis involved and you'll want to know their story, too. Other characters can be created on the fly as long as you know who is going to be center stage.

Figuring out who your main character is and what makes him/her tick will make it easier to predict how s/he's going to react when the shit hits the fan. And the shit will hit the fan because, after all, that's really the point of a novel, isn't it?

Where/when does the story take place? Again, if the setting is real world, modeling it after an area you're familiar with eliminates a whole layer of work. Sounds silly, but it does help to have a rough mental map of where the character's apartment is in relation to the office, etc. Some people draw detailed maps, etc., but as a true Pantser, I don't want to have to work that hard if I'm not going to get graded on it.

If you're creating fantasy/science fiction worlds or beings, you'll probably want to spend a good portion of time thinking about the 'rules' of the planet/culture/beings you're creating. The further removed from our world/time, the more you'll need to think about. Again, it helps you to know what will happen next if you're already familiar with who/what/where/when they are and what they're about.

If you are lucky enough to have a sense of where the story is going to go once the main problem is laid out, even better. It's a bonus to have a rough idea of where you want to end up, even if the target changes as the story unfolds.

OK, you've got a character or two, a problem, a setting, and, if you're lucky, and idea of how it all might come out. Write it down, either by hand or on the computer.
And that's about it. For real. We're just doing this for fun, remember? It really doesn't have to get any more complicated than that.

Last year, once I gave up on the spreadsheets and forms, I ended up with three documents. One contained a brief summary of my main characters, one described the culture, history, and goals (and, curiously enough, the detailed reproductive habits) of the practically-immortal beings that were going to fuck up her life (literally and figuratively, as it turned out), and the third contained a very rough idea of how I thought the storyline might go down. I didn't know for sure how it was going to end, and that kind of freaked me out, but it turned out not to be a big deal. Once I got the story going it really only made sense for it to end one way.

Sure, lots (most) of the things I had figured out ended up changing, but that's OK. When 11/1/08 rolled around, at least I had a feel for who I was writing about and what was going to happen to her that day.

Do you have a story in you? Want to see if the NaNoWriMo thing works for you? Then your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to do a little pre-thinking, a little pre-writing, wait until November 1st, then let go and let your mind tell you a story. All you have to do is write it down.

Oh yeah, be sure to visit the NaNoWriMo site and sign up. They haven't quite fired it up for the 2009 season, but it gets busy towards the end of October so beating the rush is advised. Need encouragement from a master? Pick up No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. It's an excellent guide.

Be sure to let me know, too, and check back next week for Part II. Hopefully by then I'll have figured out what Part II is going to be about.

Sorry, I'm a Pantser.

* Success is defined as writing 50K words and completing the story before midnight November 30th. Quality is not a factor. ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

One hand clapping

I'm creeping up on the two-year anniversary of this here blog (I know!) and like most untrained hacks, I'm having trouble sustaining the, ahem, 'quality' of my, ahem, 'work'. I guess it's no surprise that I find it's getting harder to respond to "Why, exactly, am I doing this?" with something other than "Umm.....".

I suppose I have the option of calling it good as written and crossing blogging off my list of Shiny... or I can try something different.

Currently I have something close to a metric butt-ton of self-imposed parameters for the content of my posts. As in many situations in my past, my quest for consistent, repeatable results has resulted in a painstakingly constructed cage of rules that has me locked down to the point where I can't turn around without running into something like a brick wall. Only invisible and without quite as many bruises.

Many of these parameters revolve around what is or is not fair game for discussion. A lot of those rules can't really change* because, with the enumeration of my social circle easily managed on two hands and my readership not much more than that, it's easy to conclude that my main sources of material constitute the bulk of my readership. Offend the readership and listen to that lonely sound of one hand clapping, IYKWIM.

And also, did I mention I fear confrontation and am a pussy?

But... there are a few parameters that I am willing to toy around with, if you're game.

Posting won't be as regular, and I'll probably drop the Friday's Rock! feature unless we come upon a particular Friday in particular need of rocking. Also, I'll try to stick my fingers through the webbing of my playpen and see if I can't break down a few more of those barriers between what I'm thinking and what I'm writing.

Mmmm... less filtering. I'm sure you're all really really excited about that, huh?

And, despite my fear of overplaying the squee! factor, I probably will be talking more about my upcoming wedding, because, hey, I'm GETTING MARRIED AGAIN in approximately 45 days, 13 hours, and 30 minutes, give or take**.

Also, NaNoWriMo is coming up. That might be good for a laugh, as it starts less than two weeks before the aforementioned nuptials. And -- added bonus feature -- Mr. B has expressed interest in participating!

So yay, different! C'mon, it'll be fun. Hold my beer and watch this!

* To be more precise, my perception is that I can't change them, or I am unwilling to risk changing them. Did I get that right, Mr. B?

** If you don't already know what an incredible miracle that is, you might want to take a few minutes to read all about it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The agony of defeat

Will the Bride-anoia never cease? Now it's the US Postal Service that's fucking with me.

The Ecstacy and the Agony: A story in three acts.

Act I: For approximately the thirty-fifth time in the past forty-eight hours, Bridezilla logs into Yahoo! Mail and clicks on the link in her email to check the tracking info on the package containing her custom-made wedding bands. Bingo! Package was received at the post office at 6:34 a.m. It's now 11:55 a.m. Bridezilla must decide whether to blow her entire lunch hour driving the 28.5 minutes to the post office and back.

Act II: Bridezilla weaves in and out of traffic all the way down to the quaint little backwater post office where her golden prizes await. She can feel the latent Squee!! pressure building to dangerous levels as the odometer ticks off the miles. She pulls into the post office parking lot. It's suspiciously empty.


The quaint little motherfucking backwater post office is closed from noon till 1 o'clock.

Act III: Sullen and defeated, Bridezilla stops to get gas, having wasted the last gallon in her tank on the 20+ mile drive to the motherfucking back-ass-water post office. She races back to work. The clock reads 12:57 p.m. as she passes the turn-in to the strip mall. In an act of defiance, she pulls in and stomps into the grocery store to buy a Diet Coke, only because she doesn't have a corkscrew in her desk. She walks in the office door at 1:03 p.m. Her demeanor dares anyone to comment on her tardiness.

No one speaks.


So, how was your day today?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brain drain

I admit it. I've been spending way too much time getting into this whole wedding thing. It's really hard not to -- it's a situation rife with opportunities to get run over by the Shiny bus. Viewing the wedding porn (their term, not mine) from the young whippersnappers on Offbeat Bride has not helped, either. It's been all I can do to stop myself from suggesting that we get matching wedding tattoos. I did get my nose pierced, but I can't blame that on them. That's just me, I'm afraid.

Since we're running off to Vegas, one could be forgiven for thinking there's not a whole lot of actual planning to be done, but somehow I am managing to spend a lot of time doing it. The easy stuff got done right away: Plane tickets and hotel reservations were easy-peasy, and I did a pre-screen of wedding chapels on the Strip. We'll pick the best one when we get there. I have my dress & shoes (less than $200 total - ha!) and Mr. B has picked out a suit (much, much more than $200).

What else could there possibly be to fuss over?

Well, I had to design the invitations for the ten people who are meeting us in Vegas. Then I had to set up a wedding blog to fill everyone in on the details, because simply sending out an email is just not cool enough. Someone asked me about a wedding registry (huh? we can do that?) so I set one up on We're certainly not expecting gifts, but who knows, we might score a few paperbacks off of it.

Rings! We need rings! And they have to be special rings. Had to set up a blog for Mr. B & I to keep track of the millions of interesting possibilities we found on the interwebs. Once we came to a decision, designing the final product and getting bids on etsy kept my lips moving for weeks.

OK, matching wedding tattoos may be out, but what about cool temporary wedding tattoos for the guests? Had to find images to pirate so I could design those, and since my ancient graphics program didn't allow me to curve the baseline for text, I had to go find one that did.

And then there are the flowers. At some point I decided I wanted to do origami flowers. I've identified the style, now I just have to figure out the materials and how to craft them into corsages and boutonnieres.

Dress and shoes are in hand, but what about a necklace? I decided that I must create a necklace out of a brooch Mr. B gave me early on in our relationship. And I must make cufflinks for him out of the matching earrings. Searching for a reliable source of supplies online for those projects has provided hours of amusement. Too bad I won't be able to actually make the thing at my desk. They're pretty lenient here but that might just push them over the edge.

One thing we haven't yet tackled is the ceremony itself. Aren't there are, like, vows or something that we are supposed to come up with? I had originally delegated it to Mr. B but it's safe to assume I am not going to be able to keep my fingers out of that particular pie. At some point we'll need to make an appointment with a bottle (OK, glass) of wine and wade into that one.

When all is said and done, I'm betting Mr. B is going to feel something like this.

Bridezilla. Rawr!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I just found out Lovely Daughter has another $26,000 in student loans that are now ready to begin repayment. I'm still paying her rent, and recently, her cell phone bill as well.

And here I was, concerned I didn't have nearly enough debt to manage.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tech support secrets revealed

This pretty much sums up my job.

I swear they made it just for me.

Like? View more geek humor at xkcd, which calls itself 'A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.' I don't see how it could possibly get any better than that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Contender for the World Record!

At some point last week I am pretty sure I broke my all time record for continuous employment by a single employer.

The sad part? I've been here three years. The sadder part? I am fifty fucking years old.

Before this, the longest job I held was my second civil service job, which I left three months shy of three years. As any good civil servant knows, at three years you achieve Career status, which makes it possible to actually get another civil service job in the future. No career status? Good luck, sucker. That was probably the stupidest career decision I ever made, meaning I fucked myself at the ripe old age of 27 years old.

I suppose the only longer period of time was the five years when I was 'self-employed', but I'm not sure that counts since I wasn't really earning anything. And even then, in those five years I started three businesses and toyed around with a couple more. The good news is that I didn't have to wear grownup clothes for five years straight.

But enough hindsight already. In honor of this most humiliating of milestones, I will attempt to list every single job I've ever had, without access to the moldering box of resumes in the basement.

Here we go!
- Dairy Queen: whatever
- An infamous portrait studio: phone sales
- Retail: cosmetics/jewelry sales
- Pizza place: waitress
- Chain restaurant: waitress
- Machine shop: assembler
- Bank: teller
- Savings & Loan: mortgage clerk (only job I was ever fired from)

- Credit Union A: teller
- Credit Union B: new accounts
- Military exchange: cash cage
- Civil service (USN): clerk/typist
- Civil Service (USCG): clerk/typist
- Weekly ad newspaper: ad layout (part-time, concurrent w/above)
- Oceanographic surveying company: data processor

- Full-time student (concurrent w/below)
- Contractor A (USCG): programmer
- Furniture refinisher
- Yarn store: sales
- Contractor B (USN): programmer/analyst
- Contractor C (USCG): programmer/analyst
Washington State
- Temp agency: QA web tester (@ Microsoft!)
- Website design company: QA web tester

- Software company A: programmer
- Self-employed: handmade soap, knitting catalog, soapmaking supplies, web design/hosting
- Bakery: production
- Grocery store A: cake decorator
- Grocery store B: cake decorator
- Software company B: software tech support
I may be missing a few (god, I certainly hope not!) but I think that's the bulk of it.

Now that I've achieved the pinnacle of my career, there's a very real chance that at some point my bosses are going to be looking to retire. They'll probably sell the company.

That means I'll have to find something else to do. Can you say 'disaster'?

Hey, anyone have a suggestion for a moderately interesting career I can get into that doesn't require years of school, will pay more than $15/hr, and will allow me to work from home?

... cue crickets ...

I thought not. I think I'm fucked. Let's just home I didn't burn my bridges with the WalMart, ahem, I mean 'Grocery store B'.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Everything goes better with squirrel

Just ask Crasher Squirrel.

Apparently my maternal grandparents knew this as far back as the 1960s.

In reviewing my archives, I was surprised to discover Crasher Squirrel was also present at my first wedding and Young Son's birth. Amazing.

Intrigued? Visit Buzzfeed to see where else Crasher Squirrel has popped up. You can also invite Crasher Squirrel to join your party by utilizing The Squirrelizer.

Yes, this is what I am doing instead of generating fresh content. It's vastly superior, trust me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Sorry, I seem to have slipped into the blogging doldrums this week. Truth be told, I'm feeling rather self-conscious about the fact that the tone of most of my recent posts seems a little... nasal. Wah-fucking-wah. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you could do with less of that.

So instead of whining about my whiny writing (uh oh... am I too late? did I already do it?) I'll share with you a couple of hopefully non-whiny tidbits that I just can't seem to shape into whole blog posts.
1. I got my nose pierced and it's sore, but it's so worth it. Now, instead of looking like a slightly-overweight, nondescript, middle-aged white female, I look like a slightly-overweight, nondescript, middle-aged white female with a swollen nose.


2. Young Son is taking part in a fun science program. The kids get to pick their call sign. Young Son has decided his is 'Pan Pan'.

No, I have no idea. Yes, I know he's going to get beat up in middle school, but we still have three years before we have to worry about that.

When my kids were little, I would pretend I couldn't hear them when they started in on me in that whiny voice. I would tell them that I couldn't hear them unless they talked in their regular voice.

I'll be back when I can talk in my regular voice, 'k?

Friday, September 4, 2009

If it's not one thing...

Welcome, my friendlings. It's been an odd week here in AIWJT-land, with much time spent pondering the Great Unponderable Questions of Life, such as 'Why Do I Blog, Anyway.'

Yes, it's not pretty, but rest easy; all that candy-assed introspection ain't gonna stop me from Rockin' my Friday!

Let's get right to it, shall we?

This classic from the early days of MTV has been in my mental iPod for so long that I don't even hardly hear it when it comes on the radio, but I'm surprised to find myself singing it. I heard it yesterday and realized that yeah, it may be over 25 years old, but it's still got it, baby!

Of course The Man has the official vid locked down tight, but you can see it here.

As for that other crap? We'll chat about that some other time, 'k?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Learning to embrace the dark side

It finally happened. This morning I reached over to slap off the alarm and realized it was still dark. The clock read 6:15 a.m. but the sun was not quite up yet.

And so the descent into darkness begins. Ohschweetbebejeebuz, help me.

I used to love fall, but the last decade of living at 47 deg N has overly sensitized me to The Dark Days. The first tint of color on maples and the smell of new pencils and denim now completely bums me out. Mr. B has tried making encouraging noises about soup and bread and rainy afternoons, but I'm just not feeling it. All I see is day after day of not being able to raise my head off the desk without a prop.

I must figure out a way to break this negative association. It's getting so I start hyperventilating at the Summer Solstice. That's just pathetic.

I'm hoping this year's slide will be a little easier to take since we have a Very Special Occasion coming up in a mere 67 days. And that's something to smile about, especially since I have confirmation that Evil Twin has purchased her plane ticket.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Krafty Korner 2

I've got female troubles. My ovaries feel like they are swollen to the size of Vidalia onions and I have a headache that is causing me to not be very patient with my tech support callers. But my buddy Galpal has saved my day! She sent me a link to what may possibly be the quintessential gift for women who have survived the, uh, best that mid-life has to offer.

Behold: The Golden Tampon Lifetime Achievement Award!

This is, in the words of the artist, Laura Mappin, "A decorative work of art to commemorate that you've done your Tampon Time and you're Free At Last!" And it can be yours for $59 plus shipping. I can't think of a better way to commemorate a loved one's graduation to cronehood.

I'll try to spare you TMI, but right now I can only dream of the day I qualify for this.

You should also check out Ms. Mappin's other products. My guess is that if you read this blog regularly, you probably have several people on your gift list who would love this stuff.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A way to skin a cat

Poor Mr. B. Because of the M-word, he has to go for a skin check every three months. That in itself is no big deal, but at his last appointment the dermatologist told him he had to shave.

(His beard, people.)

Even the beard is not that big of a deal. He only grew the beard at my request last year. It's the mustache, see? He really, really doesn't like not having a mustache. I don't know how long he's had a mustache, but it's been some years.

We had a little discussion about it when he first brought home the news. He was sure they wouldn't mind if he left the mustache. I voted for a clean shave; after all, it would be really embarrassing to end up with melanoma of upper lip because he didn't shave the mustache.

Last night, with a heavy sigh, he trudged upstairs to do the deed. When he came down and rejoined us in the living room, I'll admit it was a bit of a surprise. Young Son was completely taken aback and pretty much ordered him to grow it back immediately. I wracked my brain trying to remember if I had ever seen him IRL with out a mustache. Verdict: I don't think so. He's fortunate he is not one of those guys that has to wear facial hair to conceal some less-than-optimal facial structure, but it is definitely a different look.

He said it was no big deal -- that he was fine with it -- but his body language did not confirm that. He was not displaying a relaxed and happy demeanor last night.

In fact, this morning I realized that his expression reminded me of nothing so much as a dog wearing one of those plastic 'don't lick it' cones. You know, that "What did I ever do to you" look.

He's at his appointment even as we speak. In fact, I expect the beard-regrowing has already commenced. Young Son has decided it will be a science experiment: He wants to find out how long it will take to fully return. Current prediction is that by the end of September, Mr. B will no longer be wearing the plastic cone.

And let's hope that's the most we have to worry about.

Friday, August 28, 2009


No time for chit-chat, let's Rock this Friday!

This one got a lot of airplay when it first came out, but then it kind of fell off the radar until recently. I've heard it several times in the past few weeks. Jamiroquai must be coming to town or something.

p.s. I just looked it up: This song was released THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. Where-T-F have I been?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ten years ago today...

Ten years ago today, around 2:30 am, I half-roused from a deep sleep. I laid in bed for a few minutes, shifting around to find a comfortable position. Out of nowhere, I felt a POP from somewhere in the vicinity of my crotch. It was such a distinct POP that for a moment I thought I heard it.

My eyes few open and I clenched my knees together. I said "Pop." "Pop?" replied Hubby, whom I had thought was sound asleep."Yep," I said, as I rolled over onto my side and leapt out of bed with a speed and agility belying by 39 years and 205 pounds. I tiptoed the ten feet to the toilet, legs clamped firmly together, and dropped into place. A warm rush of fluid hit the water. I called out to Hubby "It's time!"

Hubby leapt from the bed and scurried down the hall. "It's time," I heard him holler downstairs to where 16 year old Lovely Daughter was sleeping. Surprisingly enough, she answered right away, which was a miracle in itself.

I called the labor deck at the hospital. Did I have time for a shower? I did, but was cautioned not to dawdle. I showered and dressed, walking around with a towel clamped between my thighs. We gathered our goods and headed out into the summer night, the sky lit only the full moon.

It was time.

So then some stuff happened, and some other stuff happened. At noon, he finally made his entrance. Lovely Daughter was there the whole time, which may explain why, at the age of 26, she has no desire to have babies quite yet.

But she was entranced by this little being, this baby brother whose appearance meant that she was no longer an only child. They spent a lot of time together in those early days.

Hubby was thrilled by his son. When Young Son wasn't physically attached to me, he could usually be found somewhere on Hubby's person. This continued for most of the first two years, as Young Son was a fussy baby who needed a lot on contact.

Hubby's a good dad, and was happy to have a chance to do it again. When Lovely Daughter was new, he was going out to sea for months at a time and missed quite a bit of the first few years. This time he would get the full experience.

The four-legged members of the household took to the little being right away. In the early days all three of them outweighed him by at least a factor of two. He seemed to like them well enough, too. As far as we could tell, anyway. He did develop allergies before he hit a year old, though, and we had to re-home all of the pets.

So there we were, in the 21st year of marriage, caring for a newborn. It was a very valuable learning experience. Probably the most important lesson I learned is that those things I used to feel badly about when Lovely Daughter was little -- all of those things I swore I'd do differently if I had it to do over again -- I didn't Sure, I was 16 years older and presumably a little wiser, but I found myself dealing with the same preferences, dislikes, and quirks I had in my twenties. In a way, it was kind of liberating.

The first year was incredibly rough. But time passed as it tends to do and it got a little easier, week by week.

Now, ten years later, we have this funny, quirky, gangly boy with these incredibly long arms and legs whom you can just tell is poised on the brink of puberty.

That's one consequence of having kids so far apart. I've already been down the road. I know what's ahead and I know how fast it happens. The joy of watching him grow has been coated in an extra layer of bittersweet. But better bittersweet than not having the joy at all.

Happy Double-Digit Day, Young Son!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aw, Mom!

Is it that time already?


Friday, August 21, 2009

Let's roll!

We were digging through boxes recently and found a few pix of Mr. B from Back In The Day, including a few from around the time we would have met. That got me thinking about the eighties, and when this song came on the radio this morning, I knew it was going to Rock my Friday just fine.

As cool as it was to see a photo of Mr. B the way I remembered him, back when he was a safe date for Evil Twin and my Girls' Nights Out, it's even cooler to look across the couch at him now and know he's mine.

Let the good times roll!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Good Wife

As you may know, I was married once, for oh, something like 28 years and I am getting married again in approximately 82 day, 0 hours, 25 minutes, and 32 seconds. I'd like to think that being a little older and wiser (and battle-scarred) might lead me to experience a little more success at wifehood this time around.

Well, color my high hopes all shades of dashed. According to The Good Wife's Guide, I am thoroughly fucked. And not in that good way, either.

The Good Wife's Guide*
from Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May 1955

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

  • During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

  • Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

  • Be happy to see him.

  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

  • Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

  • A good wife always knows her place.

  • It is obvious that I have learned absolutely nothing at all about husband-whispering from my three-decades-long relationship. Hell, I'll be lucky on any given day to check even three of these boxes. And that's on a good day.

    Although... I'm guessing if I was 'a little gay', it would indeed be a 'little more interesting' for him... ahem. I digress.

    What this really tells me is that what I used to tell the Ex is still as true today as it was ten or twenty years ago: I need a wife!

    * JFC! No wonder our mothers drank.