Friday, December 26, 2008

Highlights of Christmas in Montreal

1. Apparently on my iPhone I can only type in the HTML editing box. I wonder why that is. But I can type on the horizontal so that makes typing much easier.

2. Oh yeah, I got an iPhone. Last week I was on the PATH train on the way to work when I realized I was sitting in a puddle of water. I of course blamed the person who had been sitting there before me. I moved over one seat and went back to my book, only to feel a drip a minute later on my calf. I realized the water was coming from my purse, which of course meant an entire 12 oz bottle of water had leaked into my purse and then onto me. My Treo sputtered and popped when I tried to turn it on. 

When I got to the office, I called Jeff and said, "I'm going to buy an iPhone today" (we had agreed to buy them in January). He said I couldn't do that and I should just wait. I said, "but I need a phone!" He made me promise to wait and I said, "look, if you got me an iPhone, just tell me because otherwise I'm going to go buy one today." He finally caved and said okay but I had to guess which box it was in. 

3. But back to Montreal. On the 24th, we took the subway to the Marche Jean-Talon where we went the last time we were here, in the summertime. All the outdoor fruit and veg stands were closed this time, but there is still a whole inside market. My new favorite triple cream cheese might be this Quebecois one called Riopelle. The label says it is the only triple cream of Quebec. I also got these little cured meats called Grelots des Battures. Jeff says they look like cat turds. I say they are delicious. Per kilo, they cost twice as much as the triple cream. 

4. Jeff kicked over a cup of tea onto his laptop in the middle of the present unwrapping. He managed to wait 24 hours before trying to put it back together and it is more or less together and functional again now (aside from one screw that is stuck in the wrong hole and some warping at the front by where it should latch. 

5. When a lobster dinner for Christmas eve is not an option, fondue is an excellent alternative. We went all out at Fonduementale and got the Mentale selection, which is a 3-course deal starting with cheese fondue, followed by a seafood (scallops, shrimp, salmon, calamari) fondue in a broth, and finishing with a maple cream fondue served with fruit and tiny marshmallows. 

6. Jeff's big ticket item was meant to be a grey blazer he had been wanting. I could not find one anywhere in Manhattan (except for one cashmere one at Men's Wearhouse, which I knew he would not want because it would not be usable in the warmer months), so I printed out a certificate and listed some stores in Montreal where we might find him one. To throw him off, I wrapped up a box of the clothes I would be wearing to dinner last night. The look on his face when he pulled out my red skirt and fuzzy sweater was priceless.

7. Before dinner last night we went ice skating at an outdoor rink.

8. My French is abysmal. 

9. I bought Jeff the wrong Dr. Who calendar but he was nice about it even though I was not paying attention and should have known that of course he would not want the Dalekmania one again. I think his favorite gift was probably the Beedle book. 

10. I got three puzzles. Three! And a Kenneth the page talking bobble head. And a filled pancake pan and delicious peppermint bark, and pretty earrings (made by Jenn and which I picked out without even realizing it when selecting a pair to send to a friend). And the three Dexter books and a Phillip Pullman book and other stuff that I am forgetting but not also loving. Oh, and a baking book called Baked from John & Steve plus delicious baked goodies from them. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lift tab to open

I just kind of stopped blogging there. When I realized how many weeks it had been I was half considering giving it up altogether. Clearly I'm just not into it anymore. But I don't know if I'm really ready.

I will say this, though. At Target they not only sell tamales in the frozen food section that are delicious, but they also sell the big boxes of Nerds. This is great news because the big boxes of Nerds are so hard to find.

These Nerds are red, white and green and the box says they are FROSTY. I eagerly anticipated the frostiness of the Nerds when I tore open the box. As far as I can tell, they are regular Nerds without any sort of frosting. I know a lot of candy is packaged as the holiday version of itself and is actually the exact same product, but come on, you can't call something frosty and have it not be different somehow. I am let down.

On the back of the box is a trademarked Nutritional Compass. One of the directions (south) says "Good to remember: Have some now, and save some for later." That's good nutrition!

Since I bought two boxes (due to the big boxes being so hard to find), and since I am so let down, I will probably be gifting one of them. Just FYI. It might be you. Please contain your excitement.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Four years ago today...

I have written this story before, but it was on my old blog, which is now gone, so I'm writing it again, the highlights as they have remained in my brain 4 years later.

Four years ago today, I woke up on the pull-out sofa in the ante-room of my parents' hotel room, somewhat hung over from a great rehearsal dinner at this fabulous Italian restaurant in the theater district, the name of which I'm blanking on right now.

Everyone staying in the hotel gathered for brunch. I was not overly emotional until my grandma presented me with her own engagement ring that she had received in 1928. I started crying then and was on the verge of tears for the next 24 hours. In a good way, I assure you. I wear this ring every single day and I love it so much.

My bridesmaids and I went to get our hair and nails done. I had my heart set on having my hair down and curly, but the dude said that would not be advisable on a cold November day. I appreciate that it was out of my face, but I'm still a little sad that it was not down.

At Alger House (in the west village, best wedding venue ever), my mom showed us how to tie bows on the chairs and we all worked on those while her friends set up flowers around the room. A dear friend of the family showed up from Virginia, with the cake she had baked for us in her backseat. I always loved her desserts and her family, so it was a very wonderful gift and one of my favorites that we received.

The bridesmaids and I got dressed upstairs and the guests began to arrive. Lots of guests coming from NJ were stuck in tunnel traffic and missed the entire ceremony, especially because the ceremony was so short. Our minister forgot to call up my mom's oldest friend (who I call aunt) and my dad's youngest brother for the readings. We recessed to the Star Wars throne room song and went upstairs to sign the official stuff. We came back down and did the two readings plus a speech by my dad while the three of us stood on the stairs. I really liked doing it that way, actually. A lot of people assumed we'd planned it that way, which was just fine.

Our first dance was to All You Need Is Love. That was a damn difficult song to dance to, but we pulled it off. Whenever I hear it, I get a little misty-eyed. I never thought of it as an overly romantic song until we danced to it at our wedding.

Those are the main highlights. Click on the photo to see the rest of the set. Everyone looked so great and I honestly believe that everyone had a really good time, too. My mom looked gorgeous in her green dress. And all my bridesmaids looked fabulous in the black dresses of their choice. My dad and Jeff looked extra dapper in their tuxes.

Here's to four great years and to 40+ more! I love you, Ponty.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Catie

As soon as I published the last entry, I found out that my friend Catie's cat, Peter, had been hit by a car and was killed. Less than two weeks ago, another one of her cats, Roo, died of old age. I cannot even imagine what she must be going through right now. Even though I did not know these cats very well in person, I know that they meant everything to her. They were both gorgeous and full of personality and they will be very much missed by many, many people.

Elizabethan cat

The problem with not blogging for a month is good lord where do you even begin again. I don't have the slightest idea where I even left off. Hold on, let me go check...

Right. So, a month later and Booie is still wearing the collar. Well, for a week or two in there, she wore a black and white striped dog shirt. But that was not ideal as the issue was that one section of her incision, under her armpit, was remaining moist and not healing up properly. The shirt was just exacerbating that problem and making it even harder for the wound to breathe.

She's worn the collar ever since. She's gotten used to it, as much as she could. At one point, after most of the stitches had been removed, a small hole in the incision re-opened and fluid continued to dribble out, which was pretty gross. The vet assured me it was what her body wanted to do, so he allowed the hole to remain open for a week and then he put some little stitches in, which somehow got pulled out within 24 hours (or possibly they just disolved too quickly), so it stayed open another week. The vet said not to worry, it was all part of the process.

Last week he put in two staples. I have high hopes of them coming out this week and the cone coming off. The cat is getting rather greasy, as I'm sure she knows. She needs a bath. And I'm tired of being head butted at 3am by the cone. And I'm no longer laughing at the sound like whisking she makes when she scratches at the plastic cone with her hind leg.

Booie has never been one to appreciate being picked up. I pretty much never picked her up, except on the rare occasion after returning from a trip when I'd grab her and give her a hug and then she'd make a pitiful noise and I'd put her down. I've had to pick her up a bunch lately and have had to negotiate an open wound which I didn't want to touch if I didn't have to (so as not to hurt her). I have developed a technique of wrapping my arms around her and then sliding one underneath her so she's standing on it. This way I don't have to put any undue pressure on her underside. Surprisingly, she has gotten used to being picked up this way and doesn't really resist.

Otherwise, it has been 6 weeks since the surgery and there are no lumps that the vet can feel at this time.

I also turned 33. Jeff took me to Baltimore for an overnight and we saw The Decemberists and they were just as good as the last time we saw them. It was a few days after the election and same as the last time we saw them, they had the audience sing "hear all the bombs fade away" over and over and I don't know why, but that just really gets me, especially this time, when we were so full of new hope.

I haven't spent any quality time in Baltimore since approximately 1994. It's quite charming, actually. There is a good beer bar there called Brewer's Art.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

#58 Bruce

You were a chauvinist but you treated me kindly. I think you felt a little fatherly toward me. You probably thought I was without ambition. Really I just didn't belong in PR.

Monday, October 13, 2008

#56 Brian

You seemed so old when we met at my first real job. You were younger than I am now. I email you every few years. You write back excitedly once each time.

It's almost my birthday again and I didn't finish this yet. I guess I will keep going with 32 words to keep all the entries the same. Here's to finishing the list this year!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cat spit: not prescribed

Booie is the most pathetic looking creature right now. She has to wear an Elizabethan collar for a few days to allow her incision to heal without her "helping" by licking it. Her assistance was causing it to get all inflamed and irritated and the stitches were disolving sooner than they should have.

I took her to the vet last night for her 2 week check-up and the vet took out a few of the stitches, which lead to some bleeding. I'm not sure why exactly. I suppose because of her licking and not allowing the wound to heal properly.

There was a fair bit of fluid build-up underneath the skin as well. The vet stuck in a syringe and sucked it out. Two vials full. I was not grossed out at all. I was actually quite fascinated. But around that time, the room got very hot, my face got sweaty, and I really needed to sit down.

The vet said the cavity would most likely fill up with fluid again because that's what a body does if a lot of flesh is removed. I wonder how come he didn't put in a drain, although I'm sure if she had a drain, she would really have been messing with that. As long as her skin does not balloon up, he said it's fine. He can drain it again next week, if need be, when we go back again.

Thankfully, this awesome vet does not charge for the check-up visits, only for the meds. Have I mentioned how much I love Dr. Mammas and the Bayonne clinic? I love them so much.

With the collar on, she can't go under the bed or under her favorite wing chair or get in the litter box (I took off the cover). Last night, she ignored me when I said, "bedtime!" to her. She always follows me when I say that and comes for her few minutes of snuzzling up under my chin and then she curls up at the end of the bed until morning when she comes for more snuzzling right before my alarm goes off.

She sat on the couch last night, looking very dejected, and not looking at me when I called. I suppose she eventually laid down and went to sleep. She appeared on the bed at 6am wanting to snuzzle and she clocked me in the face with her collar.

My poor baby. When I saw how pathetic she looked with the collar on, I took it off, but when Jeff heard the diagnosis, he said she has to wear it. He's a strict cat dad. I hope to find a soft version at the pet store tonight so she's not so incapacitated and is able to eat with it on. She barely ate anything this morning before we put it back on her and had to leave for work.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Booie comes home

Breaking the rules
Booie is so stoic. When I took off the bandage on her foot, she did not complain. The tape pulled on her skin and she let me do it with hardly any resistence. Maybe she was just glad to have it off.

Her signature mrt is gone for now and all that's left is a faint coo like a dove makes. It sounds pretty pathetic. Used to be when I would surprise her by touching her she would mrt loudly. Now, it's just a soft mrtle.

The crate did not work out. I put her in it when we got home and she howled and paced. She was still wobbly from the meds. I let her out and figured she could walk around if I could keep an eye on her. I put a step in front of our bed (which is low to begin with), that she ignored and jumped right up. She then konked out on the floor but then woke up and jumped on the couch before I could stop her.

When I headed out to Target a few hours later, I picked her sleepy self up and put her gently into the cage. She went berserk, sticking her paws out as far as she could, climbing up the sides, stretching out and pushing on the top of the crate. That was no good. So, I let her out and she ran under the bed.

I guess I can assume she won't do what hurts, although I worry that the pain meds hide the pain and she will do internal damage while she's on them. I thought she was asleep under a chair this evening and I heard a noise in the kitchen. She had jumped up on the radiator to look out the window. She loves sitting in that window, so no wonder, but I really didn't think she'd go for that yet.

She's asleep now, so it's probably time to attempt to administer the anti-inflammatory meds. It's a liquid and I have had baaaad luck giving her anything orally in the past.

Friday, September 26, 2008

When instinct is all you have

It seems strange to be home and not have Booie here. She's spending the night at the vet's while she recuperates from the surgery she had this morning.

I wound up taking her to a different vet -- Dr. Mammas in Bayonne. I probably would have been fine with the vet we had in JC, despite the slight feeling we had that that office was a bit too impersonal. And it bugged me that every time I needed to get results from them, I was told to call and ask for my vet by name and then the person answering the phone would take down all my info every time and then the vet would call me back when she could. Since she's away from the phone for so much of the day, wouldn't it just be easier for her to call everyone up who needs calling, without making them call and leave messages first?

The Bayonne vet office called me today to tell me Booie's surgery had gone fine and that I could come and see her this evening if I wanted to. I couldn't leave work early enough to do that, but I do appreciate the offer. I pick her up at 11am tomorrow.

What really cinched it for me as far as knowing this vet was the right one was last weekend when I posted a message on FreeCycle about wanting to borrow a large dog crate to put my cat in while she recovers from surgery. I receive a response from a woman named Silvia who said she is the manager at the Bayonne clinic and I could borrow one they have. I wrote back and said how weird, because I was going to be in the following day for an appointment. She said it must be fate and I have to agree.

When I brought Booie in that evening Silvia chatted with me while I filled out the paperwork. And when I took Booie into the exam room, she came, too. She was hugging Booie and whispering in her ears that she was going to be fine. Silvia told the vet assistant she was taking care of this one and she held Booie while the vet examined her.

The clinic is not nearly as pristine looking as the ones in JC and Hoboken run by Dr. Tudor. It has a much homier feel to it. The door to the exam room was open the entire time we were in it and people walked through to say hi and check on things. When I came back this morning to drop her off for the surgery, two Pugs were behind the counter with the two women working there.

The best news I got was from the vet this morning. I asked him if he'd be around tomorrow to fill me in on how to take care of Booie during her recovery. I said, "For example, do I really need to keep her in the crate for 2 weeks?" He said, "What? No! One or two days at most." I said, "Because if it hurts her to jump on things, she won't do it?" He said, "Of course." Catie was right about that. Even with walnut-sized brains, they aren't THAT dumb (cats, not Catie).

And yes, it's true, they're not that dumb. The last two times I took her to the vet, I tricked her by throwing a towel over her and grabbing her that way. She really despises being picked up, so grabbing her was always a chore. Well, not so much the grabbing as the getting her into the bag without her clawing whatever is in reach (usually my belly). Couple that with the fact that for the past few years, when she realizes she's about to be put in The Bag, she pees.

This morning I was supposed to drop her off at 8:30, but at 8, as soon as she saw me walking toward her with a towel, she ran and hid under the bed for 20 minutes. I took off my work clothes since I knew the towel was a lost cause. When she did eventually come out of the bedroom and I grabbed her, I scooped her up and flipped her on her back and somehow the pee managed to shoot over my arm and onto the kitchen floor.

I can't wait to see that furball tomorrow. I hope she's not in too much pain and doesn't think I did this to her just to be cruel.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Howl

The good news is that Booie's cancer appears, based on the tests the vet ran, to not have spread. The bad news is that regardless the surgery will cost 2 grand.

I called a vet in Bayonne who said they would charge around $800 and a vet in Hoboken who said they would charge around a thousand. But those are really just estimates, since they haven't seen Booie or the tests.

The vet we have seems really competent and caring and she answered all my questions last night at 6:30 pm. Yet at the same time, I felt as if she were giving a sales pitch. She explained that a team of 3 will work on the patient and they do an EKG, etc. etc.

She also said this cancer will kill her eventually, although in rare cases they are able to cure cats of cancer, if it's caught early enough. I guess she wants to prepare me for the worst so that she is not blamed when Booie dies anyway before too long.

And then she mentioned off handedly that the patient will need to be prevented from jumping on anything for 2 weeks. So, that is what I laid in bed until after 2am last night worrying about. Maybe we take apart our bed and put the mattress on the floor and keep her in the bedroom! And build a ramp up to the radiatior! So that she can look outside! Yes, it's brilliant!

No, no it's not. The best option is probably a large dog crate. Oh my god, the howling is going to be horrible. And then can we take her out for supervised rambles around the apartment? Or will she hide under the bed that we unwisely did not take apart?

There are no other rooms in our aparment that can be closed off besides the bedroom and the bathroom and the bathroom has 2 built in things to jump onto/into, so that's a no go.

Now maybe I figure out a way to put the crate on top of a table that is positioned in front of a window so that she can at least look outside. Maybe that will keep the howling down a little bit.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Freshly chopped tomato and a little lemon

I'm on the Caltrain on my way back to San Francisco from San Jose, where I spent a lovely afternoon with Catie. It's a double-decker train. If I lived where there were double-decker trains, I don't think I'd ever take them for granted.

I have a new book to start (Niccolo Rising). At the beginning are several pages of characters and looking at that made starting the novel seem way too daunting right now. I feel headachy, which I think is due to treating a mild hangover with caffeine instead of water because I woke up feeling fine.

Sometimes the jostling of a train can cause my iPod volume to turn all the way up. Dave Brubeck at higest volume definitely did not help the situation.

This morning on my way to San Jose I was marveling at how I'm now friends with this wonderful person (Catie) who I haven't known well for all that long (maybe 2 years). We've known each other peripherally for at least 7 years.

It is certainly not strange to become better friends with someone, except that for 5 of those years neither of us gave the other much thought (there may even have been some slight dislike by both parties). And then circumstances changed and now I consider her a close friend. At this point, I can't imagine not having Catie in my life.

I marvel at the reverse, too. How quickly circumstances can change and bad blood can congeal. It makes me feel weary to contemplate.

I'm just thankful that my relationship with Jeff is excluded from these trials. Any ebbing and waning I'm going through is that much easier to weather with him around.

I just can't believe I gave up an opportunity to go with him to Iceland is all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fabulous food, fabulous friends

Catie and Andy took us to such a wonderful restaurant last night. Jeff and I keep saying things like, "remember how great that food was?" and "why can't we have places like Bar Crudo at home?"

It was raw fish but not Japanese. Most everything comes on small plates, perfect for sharing with fellow fish lovers. My fave was the lobster and heirloom salad. And the extra amazing thing was that they have an extensive beer list.

The waitress was extra attentive and patient and adorable to boot. She saw me taking a photo on our way out and asked, "are you Yelping me?" Catie had mentioned that Yelp is big out here. Otherwise I would not have had any idea what she was talking about.

I told her the photos were just for me, but if I do Yelp the restaurant (I guess that's the right terminology), I'll give it a great review because it was a wonderful experience and she was great, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Booie update

There's not much to update. On Wednesday, the vet called and gave me the report on Booie's pathology. She said it is not certain but probable that she has mammary cancer. She said it's definitely fatal and she has three to six months if we do nothing.

If it's not certain, how is it definite?

The next step was to get bloodwork and x-rays. After that glowing fatality report, I couldn't do any more work anyway, so I went home, collected Booie, and took her back to the vet.

While we waited in the exam room for the vet, Booie stopped howling if I petted her constantly. The vet and the tech took her away from me for the bloodwork and x-rays. She was howling. The receptionist suggested I take a walk for 20 minutes. This was a good idea. No way I could have sat there for 20 minutes listening to her howl.

The vet showed me the x-rays when I got back. She pointed out that she could not see any white dots, which usually indicate cancer. The x-rays would still be sent off to the radiologist for more exact results.

Yesterday I spoke to the vet about the bloodwork results. She said her bloodwork "looks good" although I'm not sure what that means. Does she not actually have cancer? Or for a dying cancer patient, her bloodwork isn't that bad? The bloodwork indicated possible lymph node cancer, the vet said.

Next steps: The vet gets a FLIV test added on to the tests that were already done. Why, I don't know. And I call her on Monday to find out what the radiologist had to say.

Booie seems absolutely fine. It doesn't seem to hurt her when I touch the lump. But she's not wild about having her belly touched in the first place, so I can't tell if she's moving away when I touch it because it's uncomfortable or because she's just ornery.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fatty lump

I am a bad cat owner. I noticed a lump under Booie's armpit maybe two months ago. There were Saturdays when we could have gone to the vet, but we would forget and go do other things. Then I realized it had grown a bit. And so this morning, first thing, we took her to the vet.

"Oh, that's not good," the vet said, as soon as she felt the lump. Probably mammary cancer, she said. But maybe a benign cyst, she added, probably because tears sprung to my eyes and I said pitifully, "Ohhhh Booie..."

The vet then whisked Booie off to a back room to biopsy the lump. We find out on Wednesday or Thursday what plagues her.

The vet also said Booie's fur looks slightly matted. I know already that letting up on the grooming is a bad sign, but I do not believe she has let up on the grooming. She said because she sees 2 dozen cats a day she knows cats. But she has never met Booie.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Super delicious

Do you want to know what is super delicious? I'll tell you.

It's this for lunch:

Whip up tuna salad real quick in the morning (with not too much mayo, but the real stuff, no fat free crap) with diced scallions mixed in (I would have added relish, but I couldn't find it in the fridge).

Boil a cup and a half (a cup seemed like too little and two cups seemed like too much) of whole wheat pasta. Drain, run cold water over. Put in Tupperware container.

Go outside into your yard and snip some parsley and some chives. Cut these into tiny bits and add to the tuna salad.

While outside, pick any ripe cherry tomatoes. Be sad that there are only four today. Examine pepper plant and be tempted to pick one. But be strong! It's turning red, but it's not there yet. Patience is a virtue.

Mix herbs into salad and then spoon salad onto pasta. Place tomatoes on top.

Bring in to the office and enjoy audibly (ie, lots of saying "mmmmm!" and "your lunch sucks compared to mine!")

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The big dilemma

This is a dilemma that occupies too much of my brain, often when I'm walking by myself.

I fear that I'm going to be saying this too much nowadays, but, once again, "as Elizabeth Gilber wrote"... now that I'm in my early 30s, it seems like having a child soon is the prudent thing to do, mainly because now is the right time, biologically. I don't even know if this is the same thing as a biological clock. Isn't the biological clock the irrational feeling that you desperately want a baby, no matter if your life is ready?

I know, I know. My life is as ready as it absolutely needs to be. I'm happily married. We are both employed, etc. etc.

But we are so not ready!!! Maybe a few more, just to get the point across:!!!!!

But then I second guess myself and I think, well, maybe I think I'm not ready, but really that's just fear. But I'm not supposed to be afraid of the things I'm afraid of. Aside from the normal fear of pushing a slippery bag of cat food out my hoohoo (give or take a few pounds, hopefully take), I am seriously afraid of not getting enough sleep, having to get up really early after not having gotten enough sleep, falling asleep in my soup because of being overly tired, being way more cranky than I already am, due to extreme fatigue.

Aside from the sleep deprivation (a very real fear, I'm not making this up), there is the one about having to be on a strict schedule. Currently, I leave work when I feel like it. If I slack off a little bit during the day, I simply stay an extra hour. My job is not geared toward leaving work at 5 o'clock on the dot to rush home to pick up Junior at daycare. I've never had a job like that, actually. How does that even work? I guess one has to start the workday much earlier. And give up exercising in the morning, for sure. People with kids, it seems, go to the gym at lunch or take their kids with them to the gym, if they are so lucky as to belong to a gym with a daycare. That right there is depressing enough. I hate gyms.

And then there is this. I spend how many hours at home awake during the work week? Three per night, maybe? Assuming I did change my schedule so that I'm home at 6, then there are maybe 4 hours in the evening before I crash because presumably I'll be getting up before dawn in this wonderful babyful fantasy world.

Four hours per night is not a lot. And it's less than four hours spent with the kid, since the kid presumably will not go to bed at 10, although I guess you never know. Why do we want to throw our lives into chaos, just so that we can shuffle the kid off to daycare?

Of course I don't want to quit my job to have a kid. I haven't accomplished anything of note in my "career" yet, so why would I give it all up now? I say, oh well all I have to do is get a freelance gig going so that I can still work. Oh sure, easy enough. And people at work are always lobbying to get the one day a week where they work from home. As if that makes it all worthwhile! So one day a week the person is not giving work or the kid their full attention. Perfect situation!

Jeff and I don't want to give up traveling or eating out at nice restaurants. And I don't want to be the person who hasn't bought new shoes in years because all the money goes toward the kid.

So, does this all add up to our not really wanting kids??? Aren't we supposed to feel this incredible pang to give up everything we hold dear now so that we can instead hold dear a little mewling, puking, shitting infant?

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm not listening

I'm finally reading Eat, Pray, Love. You know, the book that everyone was reading last year. While many people seem to have very strong opinions on it (including some who haven't read it, ahem, you know who you are), I find it incredibly heart-warming and all those naysayers can go bleat elsewhere. There is absolutely nothing to dislike about this book, except maybe that it reminds you that you are unable to take off for a year and travel around the world. Also, it reminds me of a blog. A really well-written and funny blog.

I would have read it before, but I don't like paying full-price for books. I don't like paying full-price for anything, so it's not something I have against books. Yes, yes, I want the authors to get the money they are due, just like I want the musicians to receive the money they are due. I just don't want to be the one to pay them upwards of $20 for something I will most likely read once and then pass on to someone else. And I definitely do not feel the need to be the first one in my circle of friends to read a book. In fact, I prefer for everyone else to preview it for me. And then I'll get a cast-off copy of it and read it later, after I've heard enough people say it was worthwhile.

I am pretty certain that in no other country besides the US will you see a person carrying a canvas bag that says, "This is my plastic bag," or "I'm saving the Earth" or whatever. I want to go up to those people and give them a pat on the back and a "yay for you." Wouldn't they rather carry a bag with a pretty design?

Finally, I would like to point out that K-mart has once again introduced me to a fabulous new candy product: the dark chocolate mint Three Muskateers. It is lighter than a Peppermint Patty and less like brushing your teeth followed by eating chocolate (not that that is a bad thing, in fact, I'm all for it). The mint is more of a hint. All in all, two chocolatey thumbs up.

Also, I have taken up uttering again.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Three for Saturday

I ran for 40 minutes this morning and it felt great. I didn't know if I'd make it, but I did and I didn't even feel that tired afterward. I don't remember the last time I ran for that long. Every time I start running again, I seem to level out at 30 minutes and then keep with that time until I get out of the habit of running again. Earlier in the week I went for 35 minutes and it seemed like no big deal, so I figured I would up my time again and see how it went. The only problem with running longer is that I'll have to get up earlier on the weekdays.

I'm not saying that I'm breaking any records here. My speed is only a 9.5 min. mile. It wound up being 4.2 miles.

We had cherry tomatoes from our garden with our lunch and they were so super delicious. I have been trying the Andy Anchev method of not watering the plant very much so that it produces more intensely flavorful tomatoes. It must be working because they are incredible tasting. Of course, the fact that we grew them ourselves makes them that much more delicious.

Also, the plant is about 7 feet tall. It keeps growing and growing. It is taking over the herb/veggie patch. There are some chives that I planted next to the tiny tomato plant back in May or April or whenever it was and they are completely hidden. They don't sweem to mind, however.

Peppers (sweet ones) are growing and growing, too, but they refuse to change from pale yellow. I don't know what their deal is.

We are off to Sugarloaf and to the drive-in tonight. Double feature of Step Brothers and Pineapple Express.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New drink

There is a restaurant in Jersey City that advertises $4 Margheritas during happy hour. Have they invented a new drink or are they just not good at spelling?

If they haven't invented this drink, I think someone should try it. It would be made with tomato juice and basil and the alcohol would presumably be vodka. Would little mozzarella balls be overkill?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where are all the hats?

Firstly: I got my hair cut short. I cannot say enough how much I love it. Okay, it's not super short, but it's above my shoulders. It's just longer than my chin, I'd say. It curls up great and it dries super fast. The real test was taking my hair with me on a flight to Texas. Both coming and going, when I got off the plane, my hair STILL looked great. This is not usually the case for me. The dry airplane air tends to cause all the curl to fall out and my hair to go completely flat and limp. But my shorter hair can withstand the power of the plane air! Now I just need to get a tattoo on my forehead that says DON'T GROW OUT YOUR HAIR because I tend to forget these things because it is tempting to want to be able to put it into a ponytail.

As for Texas, I was not impressed. Well, all I saw was Houston. I did not see a single cowboy. Not even a 10-gallon hat or even any cowboy boots with a suit. I also did not get any good Tex-Mex.

I went to a place called Cabo near my hotel that the concierge recommended (bad choice, I know). The salsa was great and the bartender was nice (he told me his life story and I barely got a word in edgewise). But the chicken tamale was the worst I've ever had. It was dry and did not have chunks of chicken. It was like a chicken roll wrapped in a leaf. I can get a way better tamale right here in Jersey City at Taqueria. And the tortilla soup was greasy. Maybe I just ordered wrong? The Shiner Bock amber was on tap for $3.75, so I drank two of those. It was a little tasteless for an amber, though.

Houston has tunnels underneath the downtown area so that you can avoid the heat. Although when you come out and have to still walk 3 blocks to reach your destination, you get just as sweaty.

I was in Houston for a training along with another department. It made me realize how nice it would be to be part of a department that is in this country. Only so much comraderie can be created over email.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Amtrak again

I'm heading back to DC on Amtrak for the second time this week. This time it's to pick up furniture from my granddad's estate.

Things that are of interest:

- the number of people who use a thin plastic sac for an overnight bag

- the number of women who wear painted-on denim shorts that don't use much more fabric than underwears

- the number of Wachovia ads in the Newark station and the complete lack of Wachovia ATMs

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quiet car

Thirty seconds after getting on Amtrak's quiet car, a suit was on his cellphone. The conversation concerned a good deal on a $100 watch and the fact that his had cost much more than that.

The conductor made an announcement over the intercom that in the quiet car no cell phones or loud conversations are permitted.

The man sitting across the aisle from me leaned in my direction and said in a stage whisper, "this car is a godsend!"

As the ticket agent passed through the aisle collecting tickets, a man could be heard from the other end of the car, possibly $100 watch man. He was leaving someone a message, stating the time and requesting the person call him back.

"I hear a voice!" the ticket agent said in an upbeat manner while walking toward the voice. "Sorry," the man said. "I had my headphones on when the announcement was made."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Toronto time

In the Pantages hotel where we are staying in Toronto:

-there is an incredibly long sink in the bathroom but only a tiny bit of counter space
-there is a fountain inside a tall pot of sticks
-there is an air cleaning machine
-the hallways are very dimly lit, like a club
-there are no free outlets except behind the TV

We thought the fountain would be distracting as we slept. Jeff thought it also might make him have to get up and pee a lot. But in fact, it's incredibly relaxing and we both fell asleep in record time. I thought fountains were tacky, but now I kind of want one.

Our only real plans while we are here are to eat and drink, to see Kate Musgrove, and walk around. Any specific recommendations?

ps: The Oasis restaurant has been renovated and is now tan on the outside, not that lovely blue. It was an unfortunate decision on their part.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Best for last


I took a break from the albums project due to forgetfulness more than anything. Although the week before father's day, when I stayed up until 3am one weeknight creating a scrapbook to give to my dad, I plowed through plenty of albums. I am totally over Chris Isaak, I'll tell you that much. I know this will sound blasphemous to some, but I'm saying it anyway. I used to love him so, so, so much. And now, just not so much. Now he sounds whiny to me. It kind of makes me sad to have come to this realization because I remember how much I used to savor him. And it also makes me sad because I shelled out so much dough on his albums. Oh well. More room on my iPod for new stuff.

Here are some things that are delicious that I did not previously eat:

- 3 blueberries speared on a fork and swept through a little Cool Whip
- Laughing Cow cheese spread on Wasa crackers (okay, calling that delicious is going a little far, but it's not as bad as I would have thought, by any means)
- carrot sticks. Yes, I had eaten carrot sticks before, but not very often and I kept forgetting how good they are. I need to specify that baby carrots are gross. I'm talking about big carrots cut into smaller pieces or even just one big carrot, gnawed on, bunny-style. (That sounds dirty.)
- turkey pastrami

This is by no means the least important thing I have to tell you. I don't know why I saved it for last. This morning we discovered cat pee coming through our ceiling from the condo above us. How fun is that? Not very fun at all! Booie was howling and she tracked it around before we realized what was going on. Then we thought she had made the puddle we saw on the floor. And then Jeff spotted yellow droplets way up by the ceiling on the heating pipes. I am just thankful that a) Booie didn't do it and b) that Booie does not have another UTI and c) if repairs need to be made, we will not be responsible for paying for them. Otherwise, I am enjoying telling people about this and seeing their reaction. And I'm not going to worry at this time about what our apartment may smell like come winter if it is not properly cleaned up. There is very likely cat pee inside our walls.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Entertaining

I just remembered that I have to be on a conference call at 9:30 tomorrow morning and I usually roll in at 9:45. I was planning to run before work, but that will mean getting up extra early and it's already midnight. Crap. What to do. Even if I go to bed right now, I will only get 6 hours of sleep.

Jen came over after work tonight. She finally saw our place. She said she's realizing Jersey City has its charms. I'm glad she's finally noticing. That's what happens when you work in the financial district. You don't see the charm.

On Monday a coworker asked me what I had done over the weekend. I said we'd gotten brunch. He said, "Really? In Jersey City?"

I said, "yes, why?"

He said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but I didn't realize there were places to get brunch in Jersey City." I did, in fact, take it the wrong way. What a jerky thing to say. I said, "at least my town is diverse, unlike the upper west side." He said there is a project near him, but that's not the same. My whole town is mixed.

Anyway, Jen and I picked up pho from Nha Trang (the authentic place, not the fancy one). While we waited for our food, we went into the Thai/Vietnamese grocery store next door and picked up things we don't need, such as a can of mock duck and a can of mock popk. This has to be mock pork, but who knows? It was only $1.40. It was spelled that way in two places on the can.

We tried one of the drinks on my Mr. Boston list: the Amaretto Rose. The recipe called for 1.5 oz of Amaretto, 1/2 oz. of Rose's lime and ice and seltzer to the top of a Collins glass. We determined that much less seltzer and way more Amaretto make a much better drink.

Status of the albums project:
All of this and nothing (The Psychadelic Furs)
All that you can't leave behind (U2)
Alligator (The National)
Always got tonight (Chris Isaak)
Armchair Apocrypha (Andrew Bird)
B-sides 1980-1990 (U2)

I'm already feeling like I've had enough U2 for a while.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How long will this take?

I'm taking a cue from my friend Step and listening to all of my albums in alphabetical order. I have 11.7 days of songs. How long will this take? Whose albums will I have the hardest time getting through?

First up was Accelerate by R.E.M. Oddly, Jeff just burned that one for me today. Now I'm onto Achtung Baby (U2, obviously).

I have the headphones plugged into my laptop because for some annoying reason, the volume doesn't go very high on here. My computer plays a loud tone if I accidentally hit two keys at once. And let me tell you, that tone in my ears is very alarming indeed. (I have tried and tried to turn off this tone but to no avail.)

------

Corie and her Polaroid and the kids who joined the BBQYesterday we went to two BBQs. It was in the mid-90s, but we rallied. We drove to Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the first one and we got there in 20 mins. I am not going to question the lack of traffic in the tunnels (Holland and Battery). But I will thank the gods for it.

A guy from my year of college was there. He walked right up to me and said something like, "Hi! How are you!" I don't know if he recognized me right away or had been prompted to expect me there or thought I was someone else. I definitely recognized him and when I heard the hosts saying his name before he arrived it sounded familiar, but it didn't click. It had been 11 years after all. The first time he and I met was also at a BBQ, the summer before freshman year started, for people from the DC area.

The photos pretty much sum up the fun time we had.

The 2nd BBQ was in suburban NJ at Jenn and Geoff's. We were a little late to that one, or one might say we were right on time, since as soon as we walked in the yard, various grilled items were being served up.

Today we laid low in front of the a/c. Despite the fabulous blowing power of our a/c, it's still quite hot in here. That does not stop Booie from lying lengthwise right next to my leg, however.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I want tasty drinks

I spent an hour this morning going through Mr. Boston. I made a list of every drink that can be made using ingredients we already have (not including fresh lemons and limes, which can be purchased for cheap at any time).

Sadly, we have no Bourbon, so I can't make mint juleps. But I might need to break down and buy some, since I have the appropriate pewter glassware and everything and have never once put them to use.

I hate gin and whiskey and drinks with egg sound gross, although I'm sure I've had them and enjoyed them (fizzes), but I still don't want to be bothered to whip or separate any eggs at cocktail time, so those are all out.

I'm now confused by Kirshwasser vs. cherry-flavored Brandy. My little bottle of Kirshwasser says it is cherry-flavored Brandy, but different recipes in the book call for one or the other and one even calls for both. I think I will ignore this information and pretend like they are the same thing.

I'm also confused by a note in the back of the book saying Cointreau - a triple sec (see below) and it's at the bottom of the page. The next page doesn't mention triple sec and I don't see a separate section on it later in the book. What's the deal here?? My bottle of Cointrea doesn't say it's triple sec and my bottle of (cheap) triple sec doesn't say anything about being imitation Cointreau. They do smell similar, but it was too early in the day when I examined them to do an actual taste test.

I didn't see a single recipe for a drink calling for Grand Marnier. What's that all about? I keep it on hand for rum cakes, but it would be nice to enjoy it in a glass once in a while.

Same with the Kirshwasser/cherry-flavored Brandy (purchased for making cheese fondue). But I did find some good recipes calling for it. One is a Cherie: juice of one lime, 1/2 oz. triple sec, 1 oz. light rum, 1/2 oz. cherry-flavored Brandy. Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.

We also have numerous bottles of Curacao (one large, several petite). There is a drink called a Marmalade which is just Curacao and tonic.

Others I look forward to trying: Fireman's Sour (lime, sugar, Grenadine, light rum), Polynesian cocktail (vodka, cherry-flavored Brandy, lime), and a Hot Buttered Rum, which I've never had. That will have to wait a few months though.

No recipes called for either strawberry or watermelon vodka. I have got to get rid of those two bottles some day. Much of what Jeff brings home from work in the way of alcohol is plenty useful and delicious, but those two not so much. And I'm not going to drink them just to drink them. I want tasty drinks.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thank you, universe

I sent the universe a jumbled message about needing help figuring out my so-called career path, and the universe sent me an email from someone I know, offering career coaching services.

I had the second meeting with my coach today. It's only for a half hour, so it flies by. I think I wasted perhaps the first 10 minutes at least telling her about a victory I had at work this week, but it was something I was proud of, so I wanted to share. And she seemed genuinely interested and she said it gave her some insight into how I handle situations. So, perhaps it was not a complete waste.

I had some action steps from our first meeting, which I had worked on, but had not completed to the best of my ability. And now I have two more steps to work on for our meeting next week. She is holding me accountable for things that I should be doing anyway.

But really, some of the things I have decided to work on were things that I wasn't sure are valid goals. Once she assured me they were and suggested I get working on them, the goals seemed much more possible to achieve.

I'm not making any major decisions here. I may not be actually making any changes at all, outwardly that is. But this coaching is a great exercise. I give it my stamp of approval.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shoulda kept my mouth shut

Second time today that I probably should have kept my mouth shut. Really should have kept it shut this time, though.

We were walking home after dinner and passed a young woman leaning against a car. She seemed very annoyed, banging her umbrella against the car while she leaned on it or pulling the handle of the umbrella in and out.

Shortly after we passed her I realized I'd left my umbrella at the restaurant, so we turned around and went back.

When we passed by the same way again, the young woman was still leaning against the car, banging her umbrella against it. It seemed like the kind of thing someone would do if they were upset, so I opened my big mouth and said, "are you okay?" She mumbled something and I tried to explain that I wanted to make sure she wasn't stranded or something but all that I managed to say was that since we'd walked by twice and she was still there I was worried.

She mumbled something else and looked the other way, so we kept going. Jeff then told me that what he heard her say was, "It's my car. I'm allowed to be here."

Dude! It was dark. I thought she looked young, maybe not even old enough to drive. She could have been stranded and forgotten her phone. She could have lost her car keys and forgotten her phone. Who knows!

I was only offering to help, although really what could I have done? Nothing probably. I shoulda kept my mouth shut and minded my own business.

Littering is still littering

As Jeff and I walked down Newark Ave., we passed a man who was tossing a paper coffee cup into the street. "That's not cool!!" I said to Jeff. Jeff, knowing me a little too well, warned, "okay, don't start anything..."

But I was too enraged. "Hey, that's not the trashcan!" I called out to him, just as he was entering a store.

He looked back in surprise. "Well... uh..." he stammered. "It wasn't my cup! These people! They leave their trash in front of my store!"

I immediately backed down and said, "Sorry! Sorry! I thought it was yours."

If only I'd had 10 more seconds to collect my thoughts, though, because no, he was not at all justified, even if Newark Ave. does seem to be a trash magnet and it must be frustrating having a business there. I should have replied, "As unpleasant as it may be, when I find litter in front of my building, I pick it up and put it in the TRASH, not in the street."

Instead I ranted at poor Jeff the whole rest of our walk. "Hey wait," I said to him. "Why did you tell me not to start anything? Do I embarrass you?" He said that no, he was afraid I might get into a confrontation I didn't want to be in. I do admit that I felt a little more ballsy about yelling at a man with Jeff by my side.

(Business starts with a B and is between Coles and Jersey.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Remembering with food

grillin
A sizable little crowd came over on Memorial Day, including four kids and a dog. The following items were grilled: hotdogs, veggie dogs of various flavors, Bratwursts, veggie patties of various flavors, turkey burger sliders and hamburger sliders, corn on the cob, onion slices, sauerkraut (on a piece of tin foil).

I decided to do sliders because the problem at BBQs is often that I want to try different things, but one burger fills me all the way up. My dad advised cooking them over a high flame (not that we are skilled enough in the grilling arts to control the flame or the height thereof), but I attempted to follow his advice.

My mom advised adding to the turkey burgers: mayo, finely chopped onion, and herbs. I added oregano and parsley flakes. She warned me that turkey burgers are bland, but I have to say that with her additions, they were delicious. Cheddar cheese and mustard help, too.

Our guests seemed impressed by the fact that I had made the burgers "by hand," ie, not bought the pre-formed disks. My dad makes the best burgers, hands down, and he makes them by hand, so I feel that is the only way to go if you're serious about burgers. To the hamburgers, he adds Worsestershire (or however you spell it), lemon juice, salt and pepper. I forgot the lemon juice this time, but it is a good thing to add.

We were a wee bit pressed for time before this party, as we often are before our parties, so some things got left by the wayside that we should have done, such as cutting up a pineapple and cutting the grass. I hope no one got any ticks or anything.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Treasures

things found in my old room
This past weekend we were in Alexandria visiting my parents. I know my mom wants me to go through the junk (I mean, treasures) that fills the dresser in my old bedroom. One whole drawer is mostly photos and most of those are crap. Any of the decent or funny ones I have scanned into flickr already. But what do I do with the originals? They are all stored in the photo store envelopes or boxes. (Ritz was giving out boxes for a while. Do they still do that?)

I can't believe it never occured to me to scan some of my earliest diary pages. According to some people, the old entries are clearly written by me, but I'm pretty sure they sound like the rantings of any annoying kid.

I also found my mother's old Konica. I have no recollection of her giving it to me, but somehow it wound up in that drawer. Sadly, a battery was left in it and it corroded. I picked up a new one, but the meter only jumps a tiny bit. I did read something online about how it takes a 1.4v battery, not a 1.5v, except that 1.4 is not readily available at Radio Shack after all. I was hoping 1.5v would make do. So now I don't know if it's just the wrong battery or if the corrosion affected it.

Both my parents instilled in me a (debatably) great habit of meticulously saving all manuals. Sure enough, the manual on the Konica was in another drawer in the same dresser. Unfortunately, it is totally unhelpful. It goes into great detail on how to use the camera on the automatic setting, but doesn't explain at all how to use the manual settings. And it's kind of hard to mess with it when the light meter isn't working properly.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What then?

You know it's a low point when you come out of a great, funny movie (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and you immediately are filled with dread.

You know it's a low point when you read most of the 81 comments about regrets and although they are fascinating, you have to stop reading them because they are too damn depressing.

Why have I sat on the couch since the moment I woke up this morning and now it's afternoon?

It's a beautiful day outside and I could/should go for a walk, but it's easier to stay here on the couch.

It's not so much the regrets about the past as about my inability to make a change now. (Or is it unwillingness? Or maybe fear?)

What got this whole meladrama ball rolling was hearing a speaker at work talking about how a successful person has a 5-year plan. And a successful person has a dream job in mind that she strives for in everything she does. And a succesful person is not me.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pretty pink and black

I failed to mention in my post about packing another essential I took with me to Europe: a reversible cloth bag made by my friend Mim. She has a few on sale right now, too.

I am tempted to buy more, especially because when I go grocery shopping, I am still usually a few cloth bags short of being able to use zero plastic bags. I have the one Mim made me plus two Jeff got for free at work.

The ones sold at A&P are only a dollar, but they are so ugly. I suppose I could use them just for groceries, but to be ugly they need to also be free.

I have noticed lately that a lot more people are bringing their own bags or using the ones sold at the grocery store. I wonder what caused this shift to finally happen? I admit that I am a bit late to the game. Before, I always used sturdy paper bags (the ones with string handles) to carry more than would fit in my purse. But those are no good in the rain. And they are not classy. And they don't hold that much.

Frankly I'm shocked at my former self for not realizing that I could skip getting a bag entirely when shopping if only I had a cloth one with me. It still seems a little strange to be buying clothing, especially, and say I don't need a bag because I have my own. Considering the change at the grocery store, though, I bet it won't take long for more people to start carrying their own sacs where ever they go.

I sure am glad I had my pretty black with pink polka dots one in Europe. (It reverses to black and white check, which is good for when I make Jeff carry it.) No stores offered bags. If I wanted one, I had to ask. And at one grocery store I noticed each plastic bag cost 5 eurocents.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seems disgusting

I amaze myself multiple times per week by how disgusting my lunch looks. And then I gobble it up, thinking the whole time, Oh my god, this is delicious. One of the more amazing aspects to this salad is the fact that I like it all mixed up. And I was one of those kids who refused to let each food item touch the other food items on my plate.

The contents of my delicious salad from the company cafeteria where I can select my own ingredients and pay by weight, not by some arcane system of number of ingredients:

-no lettuce, seeing as how I'm in the Beth school of lettuce-free salads. It's extraneous. (Note: I will gladly eat lettuce on any occasion and I often have it at home because Jeff is not in this club and I don't dislike it. I just find it to be extraneous.)
-turkey cubes
-tofu cubes
-edamame (a LOT)
-avocado (one quarter, if they have it, which they don't always)
-quinoa
-bulgar wheat
-tomato
-cucumber
-corn
-blue cheese
-sunflower seeds
-green beans
-egg white (just a little)
-one scoop of Italian dressing
-one small scoop of a composed pasta salad, if they have it and it's one I like (tuna and pasta: yes. anything with olives: NO).

Before consumption, the salad has to be thoroughly stirred and all the large pieces (cucumbers, tomotoes) have to be cut into smaller pieces. This is because when I eat it, as many different kinds of things need to be in each bite as possible. This ensures maximum satisfaction.

One thing: I feel a little strange about eating the edamame along with the tofu (although this feeling is not stopping me). It seems as if different types of the same thing are weird to eat together. Like, chicken with egg on it? That just seems creepy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

#57 Bruce

Because of your warmth we felt confident in choosing to become Unitarian Universalists, despite the broccoli god bit. You married us, forgetting the reading and the song. You sweat an awful lot.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Perfect vs. Pointless (packing)

Perfect: taking 2 pairs of my super comfy Eddie Bauer pants on our trip
Pointless: taking my new pair of black capris, which I was pretty sure it would not be warm enough for, but which I was eager to wear and did not wear once

Perfect: taking my new Privos, despite their only being a week old (they remained super comfy, with or without socks, until the very last day, at which time my right foot got sore underneath one of the straps, but no blisters ever appeared)
Pointless: taking my dressier kitten heels for wearing out at night (I wore them the first night and on those cobblestones I about killed myself)

Perfect: taking my brand new 6 million dollar home Crumpler bag to use as a purse and a camera bag
Pointless: taking a little purse to use when going out at night (well, it was perfect for keeping all of my various cords and chargers in, anyway

Perfect: taking a small notebook for writing what we eat, drink, and see, and also taking a glue stick for pasting in ticket stubs, etc.
Pointless: hauling the dead weight of a 2-year-old and already outdated guidebook on Germany and Austria when we were going to only be in one or two cities in one area of Germany. I'm over guidebooks. From now on, I do internet research, print stuff out, write stuff down. There's so much in those books that I don't need! When is someone going to put out a guidebook version that has no accomodations listed? I don't need this, ever. We always book our hotels before we go. I'm sure we're not the only ones.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Germany: pro/con

I am fairly certain now that German fashion (at least in Cologne & Dusseldorf) is hideous. The good news about that is that I did not spend any money frivolously.

The best outfit I have seen was a woman wearing minuscule hot pants with a garter and stockings under them. Second best was a 2-piece midriff-baring leopard print affair. I got a photo of that one.

The one thing I do appreciate here is the gelato stands everywhere. Everyone eats it out of sugar cones so I don't have to feel like a kid asking for one. I'm not even sure they have cups. You probably have to ask for those. I don't understand why anyone would prefer a cup when walking anyway. Also they sell an honest to goodness single scoop for a euro or even 80 eurocents. I hate how in the US a single not only costs about $4 but is really 3 scoops. A single scoop is often just what I need.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Germany makes nice

Okay. One bartender is possibly redeeming my annoyance today with Germany not being Belgium.

When I asked for more hot water for my tea, she scowled and then brought me new tea bag, new cup. She kept asking if I wanted more and said "no charge! No charge!"

As I was getting ready to go, she saw me take out a half empty bottle of sparkling water from my bag. She took it out of my hand, set it on the table, and said "no, wait." She brought me a glass of water with lemon and ice and said it was free for me and was I sure I didn't want anything else?

Vacation meals

Eating alone is tricky under the best circumstances. But when you have already burst into tears once that morning, taking the plunge and staking out a table alone is not so easy.

Also not helping -- I left my sunglasses in the room. So I can't sit facing the sun or directly in it. But I must sit outdoors where there is a breeze.

This morning I avoided all awkwardness by eating breakfast at a gas station. There were 2 tables and dishes and everything. Very civilized.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bye Brugge

On our way out of Brugge we made two final stops: chocolate and de Bier Temple.

We have no idea how come the Good Beer Guide to Belgium didn't mention the Temple, but it was well worth a stop. We procured two Westvleteren 12s for a hefty 6.50 euros each. But considering how much harder it is to buy a case now, we were happy to pay it. When we were in Belgium 2.5 years ago, we just drove up to the abbey and bought. Now you have to make an appt. and you're lucky if you can get through when calling.

We are now sitting in a beer hall in Koln, drinking Kolsch. It's no Belgian ale, but they do have a wonderful white asparagus soup. Oop! Here is my crispy pig!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bruges Beertje gives us the royal treatment

On our last night in Brugge we had multiple bars we wanted to visit. But one after the other we found to be closed (a party, renovation, day off, etc.). I was getting more and more depressed and the 10 miles we walked today was not helping me feel any more excited about going to one more.

So instead of walking to any more probably closed places, we went back to Bruges Beertje and got a fabulous interview with the darling owner.

And then, oh what a way to end our stay. She brought out a sherry glass of 20-year-old Gouden Carolus, which had aged so incredibly well. And THEN a 20-year-old Westmalle tripel, also aged to perfection, like a white port. Both were found in her colleague's grandfather's cellar. Finally, they shared with us a '91 Guiness. If only all Guiness tasted that good -- chocolatey and robust. Such a treat. I was almost teary eyed when we left.

Day trip to Gent

Belgian cheese, Belgian Parma-type ham, beers that don't export and fantastic house beers, sitting by a canal on an unexpectedly 70 degree day. What more could I want?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beertje

We are back at Beertje for the 2nd time today. The smoke is getting to me and it's full of foreigners again. But I guess that's not a crime at a famous beer bar. I'm ending the day with a fruit beer called Passion Max -- "new taste, even more fruity." It smells divine and tastes like juice + beer.

When we were here earlier, we met a beer-loving couple from NJ and a group of loud Brits who work for the railroad. Although I pre-judged them all harshly, all were enjoyable to chat with. And what? It's not like we're the only ones allowed to be in a foreign city.

from Brugge

The stairs in our hotel are so narrow. We have to hang on for dear life going up and down. There is no running back up if we forgot something.

Last night we splurged and went to a fancy place called den Dijver where they cook with beer and do tasting menus with beer pairings. Only one of the beers was new to us, but having a beer and food tasting combo alone was excitement enough. I started with a Champagne and hops cocktail (the hops were very light). I loved the ingenuity of that mix. The best part of the meal, in my opinon, was the white asparagus with a diced egg sauce and smoked salmon (very traditional and the asparagus was so succulent).

We also decided that on every trip from now on we should research and book reservations at an upscale restaurant that specializes in local cuisine.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

#55 Brian

For the cover photo of the one Van Go album you set a guitar on fire in your driveway. You had a loft in your bedroom that smelled too much of boy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hardly an authority

Skidmore invited me to come be on a panel talking about new media/publishing jobs this past Sunday. I admit, I probably would not have done it except that they offered to put us up. The Adirondack Inn is definitely no frills, but it was fine. They had wifi and cable and the bathroom was gigantic. What more does a person really need?

The panel took place in the "new dining hall," I was told in an email beforehand. When we arrived, I had Jeff stop the car in front of the map at the top of the main drive. I was leaning in, squinting at the map, trying to find the location of this new dining hall. A student walked up and asked if I needed help. I said, "I can't seem to find the new dining hall," I said. "Oh..." she started and then stopped. "Um, the new dining hall is the old dining hall. It's just been rebuilt." Oh. If we had driven onto campus and gotten a look at the new/old dining hall, this would have been readily apparent. It looks much different. It's cozier and there's a 2nd floor with meeting spaces and cozy nooks.

I don't think I gave any terrible advice per se, but I do marvel at me giving advice to these students. When they asked me questions afterward, they eagerly awaited my responses, looking expectantly into my eyes. I wanted to say, "I have no idea! Do you realize I still have no idea?!" But I did the best I could and they seemed satisfied. All I could do was tell them what I had done and how it worked out for me. Not necessarily the best "advice," but at least I wasn't fudging that part.

There were a good number of sophomores present, even. The ones who asked what I think they should do to prepare for getting jobs in a few years I told, "the fact that you are here and you are applying for internships is huge. I think you are incredibly well prepared!" That's probably not what they were looking to hear, but maybe just being told they are doing the right thing is helpful. If it is even the right thing. Who knows!

I wish there had been panels like this when I was still in college. Of course, whether or not I would have attended is another story.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

#54 Brent

You wouldn't divulge your contact prescription or how you knew to ask at the deli for cheese ends. When I left, you wouldn't let me have my bike. You needed it more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A drink I now love: Gin Genie

1.5 parts Gin
1 part Sloe Gin
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 part simple syrup
8 whole mint leaves

Shake and pour over ice. Garnish with more mint.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

#53 Brent

You never remembered who I was, even though we were introduced at least three times. For that I did not like you. Also, because you were a hipster. Plus you're probably needy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

#52 Bonnie

You have beautiful long hair that you unfortunately almost always wear in a ponytail. We lived on the same block in Hoboken. I think you liked it better there than we did.

Friday, April 11, 2008

#51 Bob

You proudly show off your newest farm equipment when we visit. You were excited to see NYC but couldn't come to our wedding because of fear that a corn crop would rot.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

#50 Blythe (Buffy)

We were tent mates for six weeks. You were a little older than the rest of us hikers and seemed years more mature. You weren't bothered by the cliques like I was.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

#49 Bill

At your Christmas party you would point out you had made chili just for me. I never saw the side of you that drove your children away, but I heard about it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ode to alcohol

Rum and coke at the party my whole class attended a few months before high school graduation. I didn't know what to drink, so someone offered it to me because it's what one drank. I didn't like it.

Sips of my mom's vodka & tonics that she trusted me to make for her. I didn't really like the taste, but in college, this was my drink of choice for a while, for lack of knowing any other drinks and because it seemed classy.

Straight vodka from a plastic water bottle while sitting on the Exorcist steps with Emmy, shortly after high school graduation.

Fancy, fancy Champagne at a fancy, fancy venue in DC, dancing and dancing and spinning and spinning. Age 18.

Stocking my freshman dorm fridge with Zima for a party with my then best friend Stephen.

A very minty and delicious $12 Mojito in a hotel bar with Jen. Thinking I had crossed a threshold into adult drinks that cost twice as much as a decent lunch.

Blind taste testing Proseccos with my parents and Kate, several months before my wedding, in my parents' kitchen.

Sharing our first batch of homemade beer with my parents on the dock at the creek, watching the sun go down.

First taste of Westvletern with Beth, New Year's Eve several years ago. And Jeff with the book open on how to savor it.

Saying to each other, what the hell, let's get the one called "end of the world" and in that first sip, experiencing a whole new world that would, not to be trite, lead us around the world in search of many, many more amazing beers.

Happy 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Craving satisfied

Most everything I bought

I had a notion to make pad thai from scratch. I figured easy, I'd go to Mitsuwa (Japanese market in Edgewater) and pick up the ingredients. They would surely have what I needed.

If they had everything, I have no idea. I spent an hour there, wandering the aisles, trying to make out labels. I felt like I was in a foreign country, just trying to find something, anything familiar. Although in this case I was seeking things I had never seen before, so I didn't even know how to recognize them. What the hell does a tamarind look like? I maybe could have looked up a photo of it before going.

According to my recipe, tamarind is essential for pad thai. I managed to find about half the ingredients at Mitsuwa, so I couldn't give up.

Today, I went to A&P and got a few more things, but no tamarind. I went to Basic Food in Hoboken (and got blocked in by a jerk double-parker in the process) and they didn't have it. The Asians running that store told me to go to Summit and Newark to Little Five Points area or something. I had melting ice cream in the car from A&P, so that was not an option.

My last hope was the Vietnamese market on Newark and Monmouth, near home. I didn't go there in the first place because I thought they would only have a small selection of Vietnamese food. Of course they had everything I needed for the recipe and for very cheap. I was so thrilled with the find, I went ahead and got everything the recipe called for, even though I probably did not need turtle food, I mean, dried shrimp. I probably could have skipped palm sugar, too, and just used regular sugar.

All in all, it was super easy to prepare, no more difficult than a regular stir-fry. Now that I have all these unusual ingredients, I will be making lots more of it in the future.

Ready to go

Know-nothing

We've had two bamboo shades for five years. I bought them early on in Hoboken, but they were not dark enough for our bedroom, said Jeff. So, under the bed they went. They transferred nicely to under the bed in our new place.

We've lived here 8 months now, so I figured it was high time I hung a shade or two. I located the electric drill and the box of drill bits. That was after locating another box of ratchety things. After examining them I determined that they were not drill bits nor were they for use with the drill. This was not readily apparent to me.

I could not figure out how to get a bit into the drill. I called my dad; no answer. So, I asked an upstairs neighbor. He wasn't sure either, but some sixth sense told him to twist and sure enough, that was the trick.

"I feel so handy now!" he said. Ha. The tenant between him and us has piles of tile in front of his apartment door. He moved in 3 months ago and he's already re-doing the tile. Show off. I'm glad I asked the top floor neighbor. Handy neighbor probably would have laughed at me.

I successfully hung one bamboo shade in the kitchen and then stood back to admire my work. I lowered and raised the shade.

Whew. That's enough work for today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

#48 Bill

You claim to this day that you single-handedly taught me how to swim one afternoon. We used to see a lot more of you when we shared a beach house every summer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

#47 Andrea

Going back to the beginning of the alphabet to add in someone who I met in person after I started this project.

You are gentle and accomodating. I wonder if sometimes people take advantage of your generosity. You are taller than I am, and very bendy. You are exceedingly brave for moving cross country.

Monday, March 31, 2008

#46 Bill

I only met you once, but I feel I have a bond with you. My online friend, who also escaped a bad relationship, met you online just before I met Jeff online.

Home improvement

Good lord, I have so many projects that I need to do. Here are just a few of them:

1. Move bowls off of rack that is next to garbage can and into pantry and move things we don't eat off of onto rack (or things kept in boxes). Having to wash a bowl before using it is tiresome. That area is exceedingly dusty for some reason.

2. Paint dining room slash dressing room slash library room the lovely shade of blue for which we bought paint in July and which is sitting in our basement. Although we can hold off on this for a while since Jeff expertly covered up our paint test area with a Rogue sign yesterday. Now we will no longer be reminded on a daily basis what color that room ought to be (which is not actually that particular shade of blue, either).

3. Hang curtains (Ha! This is amusing. We have lived there for 8 months and we still only have one curtain, which is in the bathroom.)

4. Hang poster that is over the sink higher and then hang shelf thing underneath is. Put spices on shelf thing.

5. Switch location of pepper and artichoke paintings with location of old timey ads (in kitchen).

6. Drill some holes in the wall beneath pass-thru to figure out where the studs are.

7. Find drill.

8. Hang more shelves all around apt., esp. in bedroom. My plan is to do away with the bedside bookcase I have currently and instead just have some shelves next to the bed (Since the room is very small, I expect this will look good. But ref. #5 re: what I am able to envision before doing something and how it actually turns out. A: not well.)

9. Procure more shelves.

10. Take ill-fitting clothes to Goodwill.

11. Watch TV.

Things which absolutely must be accomplished before my parents come over on Friday, May 9:
3, 4, 5

Things which absolutely have to be accomplished this weekend because my dad needs that info ASAP:
6, 7

Things which I have full intention of doing this weekend:
1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10. But most likely, a lot of #11.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Goodbye, ugly and unflattering clothes

Items in my closet/drawers that I have finally decided it is time to part with:

-turtleneck sweaters (most of them, anyway)
-the older versions of the items which I have bought to replace older versions
-black boots with 2-inch heel that I no longer wear because I have a flat version (see previous)
-brown boots (same case as above)
-pale yellow silk flats with embroidered butterflies from Chinatown (cute but don't match a single thing I have owned in the several years I have owned them)
-wooly white sweaters (Two of them! They were presents, as if that excuses hideous fashion.)
-a few pairs of black shoes (namely ones I have not worn this year or last year. See note above about getting rid of former versions of replaced items. No longer need older versions! Very unlikely I will need less nice black flats for traipsing through a mud-slide when, if there were no mud, I'd be wearing the nicer pair.)
-as much as possible of the items which I classify as "to be worn on the weekend" (but which are in fact ugly). Unless they are items to be worn to bed (those get a pass), these items need to GO.
-I'm on the fence about shirts that are too tight or have a stain but which are good for wearing under sweaters. Because, what if I get hot? Then I'm stuck. I need new t-shirts -- ones that fit and ones that are stain-free.

I declare this spring the season of dressing with more pizazz.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tea, not Kool-aid

Just to clarify, yesterday when I was referring to there being liquor stores inside of grocery stores in NJ, I did not mean all NJ grocery stores and I did not mean that you can pick up a bottle of wine along with your lettuce. The stores that do have the liquor stores have them attached. In all the ones I have seen, you can enter the liquor store via the regular store, but they have a different cash register you must use. And they keep separate hours, usually closing earlier than the grocery store, and not being open on Sundays.

How much tea is too much tea? Today I felt groggy from the moment I woke up and so I drank 2 mugs of hot tea before noon. Then I had a cup of iced tea in the middle of the afternoon and now I'm having another. I feel as if I am thwarting the rule of one or two cups of caffeine per day. But it's just tea! It's not like it's coffee. I clearly drink more of both the hot and cold varieties now that I have an electric kettle on my desk and a huge stash of tea in my desk (thanks to Jeff).

The thing is, I really love the taste of tea. And I don't see the point of drinking caffeine-free anything.

I got a new camera! I got an unexpected bonus at work, so I spent all of it right away on a fancy new camera. What? No judging. Especially not the fact that I spent it before I even got it and I asked Jeff to figure out how much I would get after they took out the taxes and he over-estimated by $150 and I spent the amount he guessed I would get. Oh well! I can pretend that I got a fancy new camera for $150, right? Right. I went out on Saturday and played with it while Jeff stayed home reading that Potter stuff.

Speaking of that Potter stuff, should I read it? I feel like at this point I should just wait until our future kid is old enough and I'll read it out loud then. Jeff was always in that camp with me until, for some reason, he decided to go ahead and read them. And then he got all Potterfied and did nothing but read for over a week. He even stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last Saturday night, finishing the last book, which is totally unlike him. (Normally, if he reads in bed, his eyes are closed within 20 minutes.) And now he's trying to get me to drink the Kool-aid, but I'm still not sure I'm going to buy into this cult. I just don't want to invest my time reading 2-3 books that are guaranteed to be especially childish. And I do recall rolling my eyes a lot at the first movie. And then of course, there's that part of me that rebels against reading what everyone else is reading.

For the record, reading in bed does not put me to sleep. I suppose I could read the dictionary in bed. That might do the trick...

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Jersey love/hate

Things I love about New Jersey:
-Jeff
-the kitschy boardwalks
-Jersey City
-my in-laws
-my in-laws' pool
-my in-laws' snack pantry
-the beauty of the refineries, especially at night
-how easy it is to get to EWR from Penn station
-that the smoking ban was passed several years ago
-the Italian food (both made by my extended family and in restaurants)
-that anti-pasto is a staple at every gathering of more than 4 people (maybe that's just my extended family and not all of NJ, though)
-that you can buy liquor in the grocery store

Things I hate about New Jersey:
-the way you have to turn right to turn left and vice versa
-all the mall traffic
-the PATH train
-Bergen county being closed on Sundays
-having to pay to go to the beach and it still being really crowded
-only being allowed to put my first and last name on my drivers' license
-the stench of the refineries
-that a taxi from EWR to home costs $35, even though it's only a 15 minute drive
-the St. Patrick's Day parade in Hoboken

And last, but not at all least, I hate its horrible reputation. Don't knock it until you've tried it!

I reserve the right to add to this list.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Heimlich?

There is a restaurant in our town that we frequent fairly often. We go there because the food is cheap, but good, and they have craft beers.

The down side is that the wait staff does not seem to have a clue about serving food. They are very nice, but all they seem to know is standing behind a bar and uncapping Heinekens for people sitting at the bar.

Couple that with the fact that the owner seems to think that the bar is running itself nicely enough without him ever seeming to be there any more. And what you get is really lousy service.

Wednesday nights you get a small order of cheese with a select few beers, of which of course we always partake. And pretty much every time, the cheese comes out 15 minutes after we order our beers, along with our meals. Not exactly when we'd prefer to have it.

Then there is the matter of our never being offered glassware of any kind with our beers. I do not understand how you could own a bar and offer up all sorts of craft beers and seemingly not have a clue that good beer is intended to be drunk from a glass. Not to mention, its flavor comes out more when it's poured into a glass and then drunk. Would you want to drink wine out of its bottle? No. Of course not. Anyway, that's a different rant for a different day.

What happened tonight is that I started coughing as I do sometimes, where I cough really hard and then it sounds like I'm about to vomit. In the past few years this has only happened a few times, where I am coughing with such force that I then, I guess, start to hyperventilate? It's the only thing I can figure. At first I signalled to Jeff that I was fine. Because I was coughing after all, and that means air is coming in.

And then I couldn't cough any more and I think I got scared. I stood up and mouthed "Heimlich!" and he tried to do it, but he didn't do it hard enough. He said afterward that he was afraid he'd hurt me. Awww.

The waitress sauntered over from behind the bar, smiling. I didn't see any of that, but it royally pissed Jeff off. "Help!" he said, "she's fucking choking here!" The waitress clearly had no idea what to do and offered to call 911. Jeff yelled, "doesn't anyone know the Heimlich?!" No one stood up.

And then, all I can say is, it passed. I could breathe again, just like that. I was mortally embarressed and had lost my appetite. I think I was just hyperventilating, but it was scary. The same thing happened at work a few years ago and at least then a group of people gathered around and offered any help they could.

Afterward, the waitress offered me a glass of water with no ice. "This should help," she said. Thanks. My water glass was empty.

I feel bad bad-mouthing this place and that is why I'm not naming it by name. Because it's a good restaurant/bar to have in our town. It just pisses us off almost every time we go there, despite its good food and good beer.

We made a vow to make the effort to try more restaurants and stop defaulting to the places close to home. We paid a bundle on a mortgage to live right outside of Manhattan for a reason, dammit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A mystery

Things that are in my desk drawers at work, in no particular order (ie, that they are tossed in there all willy-nilly):

-mints
-multiple half-eaten gourmet chocolate bars (Don't ask. I tired of them for some reason. But you can't throw away a gourmet chocolate bar.)
-spoons
-lots and lots of tea, loose and pre-bagged (I don't mean loose in the drawer. Loose in their bags.)
-zinc tablets
-cookies that are more than a year old but which still are not in the least bit stale
-a caribeaner/flashlight
-a fortune cookie
-napkins (both sorts)
-photos of my parents' dogs
-chapsticks
-chopsticks
-cough drops
-a breakfast cookie
-a newspaper article on vegetarian travel tips from 2005 that seems to only cover rural VA
-a rock sugar-coated swizzle stick
-a piece of tinfoil, folded up (from a sandwich brought from home long, long ago)

Things that are supposed to be in my desk drawers at work, but for whatever reason, I cannot locate at this juncture:

-batteries for the podcast recorder

Being alone

I didn't plan to do anything in particular while Jeff was away and certainly not in particular anything that I enjoy doing specifically alone.

However, last night, I found myself reading while listening to the radio at 11pm. I turned it on at 9 because I remembered hearing on Morning Edition about the NY Philharmonic playing in N. Korea and then I just left it on. At 11 a program came on that I used to always listen to when I lived alone, New Sounds. Sometimes the music is pretty weird, but often it's great.

I relished listening to it. It's no fault of Jeff's that he doesn't enjoy listening to the radio the way I do. I'm sure he will say that he does too enjoy the radio. (But he never, ever turns it on himself, which, I repeat, is NOT a fault, just the way he is.) Alls I'm sayin is that I never ever would have been sitting in the living room at 11pm listening to WNYC if Jeff were home. And I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Not because Jeff was away. I just enjoyed it in and of itself. I hope that makes sense.

As for the concert in N. Korea, it was just like most any classical concert. What was more interesting was listening to interviews with the musicians this morning. One woman was moved to tears by the experience.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Drink this

I don't have anything significant to report aside from some drink suggestions. These are my two favorite non-alcoholic drinks right now.

1. Iced tea brewed with one Assam tea bag and one lemon tea bag. I got all this tea from Jeff for our anniversary in November. I'm not a huge fan of flavored black teas when they're hot, but combined with regular black tea and iced = super.

2. This one is not new, but I am still loving it as much as ever. Plain seltzer with a little bit of fruit concentrate added. I had been buying flavored seltzers, but then it turned out that some flavors taste like ass-perteme and that was no good, so I'm just sticking to the plain and flavoring it myself.

Here is a lesson in knowing what you can handle. I know my tummy usually rebels when I eat food from carts on the street. I don't know why this is. I don't actually think I want to know why this is. Today a coworker's meal from a cart smelled really good and he said it does not upset his tummy so I thought what the hell! That cart is right outside! How bad can it be? I need to get this on a cross-stitch to hang in my cubicle: Stay away from the cart food. What my tummy has to say about the cart food: gurgle, gurgle, gurgle.

Jeff is away for a few days. I can't say specifically what it is about his going away on business trips that I enjoy so much, just that I crave this time by myself. I don't even do anything that I wouldn't do while he's home. I just like it. It doesn't mean I wish he'd leave or anything like that. I just need the time alone. I can't explain it. It has nothing to do with him and everything to do with me.

A person might say, "but what is it that you can't do when he is home?" It's not that there is anything (except maybe reading in bed past 11pm). I just like the option every now and again, I guess? He comes home tomorrow, so I fully intend to read in bed until 11:30. I know, wild and crazy am I.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Whoopsie

Where did 10 days go? Aaaaanyway, I've been here, doing the usual. Where have you been?

I ordered these placemats yesterday. We could use something bright and cheerful on our table and also, I had been looking for some cork backed placemats for a while.

A tablecloth would probably be ideal, but the table gets moved around, leaves are put down, put up. Clothes are folded on the table, that sort of thing. So, it can't look like a dining room table at all times. And I can't be bothered with removing a tablecloth and then putting it back on at dinner time.

Plus, fear of stains. I have a lovely white linen tablecloth that I got when we got married. I have yet to use it. It might get stained! Some day maybe I'll use it when we are only eating water for dinner.

This is the way of the 740 square foot apartment. Rooms double and triple for multiple purposes. I don't even know what to call the middle room anymore. Dining room slash library slash dressing room?

The main problem now is that in the middle of that room is where the dining room table fits best, so there it stays. We said we'd put it in the corner of the TV slash workout slash crafting room after Christmas was over. And then we went and got a comfy chair and stuck that in the corner. So, now next Christmas we not only have to figure out where the comfy chair will go when we get a tree, but we still don't have any better place for the dining room table.

Also, Booie thinks we brought home for her a gigantic blue scratching post and matching scratching ottoman. So, our lovely new comfy chair and ottoman are always covered with a quilt a piece. For whatever reason, scratching the quilts does not appeal to her. Neither does the actual scratching thing we gave her for Christmas. Ingrate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No words

I am still in shock that this weekend I went to CA and met 11 women who I only knew via the internet (plus 2 I already know in person but who I originally met online). I kissed cats who I never thought I'd ever see except in photos. I ate at restaurants I thought I'd only ever read about. I spent time in houses I was sure I'd only ever hear about. It was an incredibly surreal feeling to walk into Catie and Tracy's houses and feel like I'd been there before, except only in a dream (or in photos, as the case may be).

I already was crazy about Catie, but to meet her husband was a treat. And I love him, too. He has that dry wit going on and he was totally not overwhelmed (at least as far as I could tell) by a room full of giggly broads.

The weekend started out as a suggestion tossed out as an idea for people to go to San Jose to celebrate Catie's 40th birthday with her. Within hours, people were purchasing their plane tickets and figuring out who would room with whom. I still get a little teary-eyed when I think about how excited everyone was about going and about seriously how much fun we all had.

Today is Catie's actual birthday. Happy birthday to my wonderful friend, Catie! You are truly an exceptional person and my life is so much richer with you in it. I hope you know how much we all appreciate all the trouble you went to this past weekend to put together an amazing mingling of some of the most awesome women in the universe.

ps - I turned off comment moderation, so no one should have trouble commenting now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

#45 Bill

I know it's trite, but when I shook your hand and you looked into my eyes I could see the power and the sexual energy. Also, your nose was red and veiny.

Monday, February 4, 2008

#44 Beverly

You hired me one summer to do odd jobs for you, which wound up mostly being chatting with you in your luxury condo that you were too infirm to leave every day.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

In a cafe in JC

Three kids are working the counter. And there are three customers in the cafe. So the workers don't exactly have a lot to do. From their giggly conversations:

She's dating a really old guy!
How old?
Like 30!

Can you believe we're almost two decades old??
Stop it! I don't want to think about that!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cheap tastes good

Sandwiches are ridiculously expensive in NYC. Even a simple turkey, Swiss, lettuce and tomato on a roll costs at least $6. At my company cafeteria, I can get the same for $3.50, but the rolls are always stale. I cannot enjoy this favorite sandwich of mine unless the roll is soft and squishy.

I was getting this sandwich several times a week from a deli near work and paying the approximately $6 price (it varied, depending on who made the sandwich).

And then one day, when walking home from the train in Jersey City, I stopped like I always do to give change to the homeless guy who stands in front of the Paradise Deli. (Jeff and I are his "favorite couple!!" or as we like to refer to us after we pass him, the people putting his son through college, most likely.

It was a particularly cold night and he asked for a sandwich, so I thought what the hell. "Turkey and cheese, please!" he said as I went inside. (He's the nicest homeless guy I have ever met.)

I watched the guy behind the counter pick out a nice squishy roll and slice some Boar's Head turkey. All the meats and salads were wrapped in plastic. I tried not to think about why they must be carefully wrapped, but wrapped they are.

The sandwich rung up at $3.50. Bargain! I took it to the homeless guy who thanked me profusely. I said, "that's my favorite sandwich, too" as I handed it to him. "Really??," he said, "turkey and cheese??" It then dawned on me that he probably prefers American cheese, not the Swiss that I selected for him, but oh well. Free is free, buddy.

And from that day on, I have been stopping at Paradise Deli a few mornings a week and picking up a turkey and Swiss to bring to work. I skip the tomatoes so that it won't get soggy. I look forward to it all morning and as soon as it's noon, I can't wait any longer. It's a damn good sandwich. And no, not just because it's cheap.