Thursday, March 30, 2006

Since apparently this recently became a dating blog...

I'm sure I'll have more stories about bad dates and uneventful dates and, quite possibly, brokenheartedness, soon. Lately, however, I've been taking a break from the sport of Practice Dating. I've still been hearing plenty of advice from what our friend Bridget Jones referred to as Smug Marrieds, however, and it's occurred to me how much of it is actually quite contradictory.

For example, for every person who says, "You find it when you're not looking for it," I get the completely opposite (and rather accusatory) advice of "Well, are you getting out there? Are you trying to meet people??"

Likewise, for everyone who says, "When it's right you'll know it" or "It's good that you're not going to settle for just anyone," I hear the ever-so-helpful suggestion that "Maybe you're just too picky."

I'm not really sure what to do with these conflicting words of wisdom. All I have to say is thank god my friends are all smart enough not to find a counter-point for the age-old standard recommendation to "Just be yourself." Because, "Um, maybe talk less?" or "Maybe you should work on that" are really not things I need to hear as a means of bolstering my self-esteem.

Just a tip for all you non-singletons out there. Consider it my PSA for the week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm sure my Mensa membership card is just lost in the mail

For months now, I've been baffled by the logo on the cartons of non-dairy creamer and artificial sweetener in the kitchen at work. The brand logo reads "N[heart]Joy," but it's unclear to me whether the heart is supposed to be an apostrophe, a hyphen, a letter "o," or just a meaningless bullet of some sort. For whatever reason, I've been leaning towards "letter o," which means the brand name, as far as I can tell, is "No Joy."

True, I thought--dry powdered particles of partially hydrogenated oils and corn syrup solids aren't particularly healthy or joyful, but to point that out seems an odd sales tactic nonetheless.

Only today did I actually sound the logo out in my head and realize they probably mean "Enjoy."

Yeah, I'm pretty quick sometimes. Obviously I'm a marketing director's worst nightmare.

Friday, March 24, 2006

This isn't much of an entry, so I'm not trying too hard on the title

I've started at least three entries in the past two days, and each time, I get about two sentences down before I say, "Hmm. Yeah, that's not very interesting."

In short, I got nothing. I'm just not feelin' it. Occasionally, turning to other blogs will somehow inspire me and prompt some unexpected but welcome wave of something or other. In this particular case, all it's done is remind me how much more clever other people are than me (More clever other people are than I? More clever than I other people are? For fuck's sake I can't even put a proper sentence together anymore. I'm a sham, and someone's going to revoke my English degree.)

In the midst of all these feelings of fraudery, however (Fraudery? Is that even a word? Seriously, where's my diploma?), I did have one terrifying moment this morning when I felt like a real blogger (whatever that means).

It seems that everybody who puts themselves out on the Internet in this manner has some horror story of the moment they discovered that someone they never thought would read their blog had, in fact, read their blog. The few real-life friends* of mine who've actually taken any interest in following this little writing project of mine have asked me about this in varying ways--e.g., Who have you told about the site? Who deliberately haven't you told? Are there things that you want to write but don't because you're worried about who might read it?**

So far I've felt pretty in the clear and not terribly worried that, for instance, my boss might inadvertently stumble across this URL. That is until today, anyway.

My boss and I had a conference call with a client this morning, and following that call, we sat talking about various other projects and such. When it felt like wrap-up time, I asked, "Anything else?" and started pushing out my chair to leave, when she said, "Actually, I do have one other question for you. How did you learn how to blog?"

My heart stopped for a moment as I wondered what she'd read and how she found it and why she was addressing the topic with that particular, unusual question. So I asked her to repeat herself.

"Block," she said. "Didn't you say you blocked that sweater you made?"

She was asking me a knitting question. Not a blogging question. I am officially a paranoid freak. And on top of that, my hearing's shot, too. Man, do I feel like a winner.

* You know--as opposed to all my imaginary Internet friends who I feel like I know remarkably well despite the fact that we've never met. If I've ever commented on your site (and maybe even if I haven't), you're probably in that group.

** The answers to these, if you care, are "Not all that many people, directly"; "My family, my co-workers, and my ex-boyfriend (who is, incidentally, already covered in the 'co-workers' group)"; and "Yes, but not as many things as you might think."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My pothead boyfriend

It's funny the things that can prompt an obscure memory...

When I hear anything off of 10,000 Maniacs' Our Time in Eden, it instantly reminds me of my freshman year of college--taking walks with my best friend Jenne, trying to synchronize our copies of the cassette on our walkmen so we could sing along together to "My How You've Grown."

When I drink Earl Grey tea, I think of my semester in Scotland, and I remember sitting in a makeshift classroom in a drafty old palace, clasping my fingers around the teacup to stay warm during Detective Fiction or British Civ. class.

And today, when I ran out of toilet paper (for the first time ever and through no fault but my own), I thought of my ex-boyfriend Jimmy and his "not a boy, not yet a man" rental house in Uptown.

Gilmore Girls fans might remember an episode a season or two ago when Doyle made himself a little too comfortable in Rory and Paris's suite (eating Rory's chips, resting his feet on the fancy coffee table Emily bought, etc.), and Rory's outburst left Doyle feeling banished and afraid to return. Paris, suddenly forced to go to Doyle's place instead (and not happy about it), left the room in a huff, grabbing a toilet roll and complaining that "I have to bring my own toilet paper, because it is a third-world country!" It was one of Paris's better rants, but mostly I just enjoyed it because I could relate. I had to bring my own toilet paper to Jimmy's more than once.

Jimmy was all wrong for me for many, many reasons. I knew this from the beginning; really I did. On our very first date, the smart girl inside me was waving red flags frantically again and again, saying "Stay away! Cut your losses! This one will never work!" But I liked him. And he liked me. And that first date was and still remains my best first date ever. So I set down the red flags and chose to proceed with caution. I knew full well it wouldn't last, but I was 26. I wasn't looking to get married. I didn't care if he wasn't The One. I decided to have fun with whatever time we had together, and to try best I could not to get too attached.

When I knew Jimmy, he was 28, but his inner 22-year-old ran the show. He spent most of his free time challenging his roommate to PlayStation hockey, and the trace amounts of expendable income he scraped together generally went towards liquor and bad takeout. His house was furnished with ratty mismatched couches and beer cases as end tables. I affectionately referred to him as "my pothead boyfriend," but despite that whole "munchies" thing I'd heard about so often, his kitchen cupboards were nearly bare. In the fridge, the closest thing to food was the previous night's bong water.

I'm a reasonably intelligent and mature and responsible person, so I should have run away from the health code violations and never looked back. But I think the fact that I am so damn mature and responsible was part of the draw. I need someone who nudges me out of my comfort zone a bit, who respects who I am but also encourages me occasionally to try on some other persona for size. Plus, Jimmy was smart. He made questionable and immature choices, yes, but he could hold an intelligent and witty conversation as well as anyone I've known. And he was good to me (or, as good as a lazy pothead with a Peter Pan complex can be, anyway). He called when he said he would. He laughed at my jokes. He told me I was beautiful. Better than that, he told me I was beautiful but he said, tapping my forehead, that what was up there was what really turned him on. In short, he made me fall for him, despite my best efforts and better judgment.

We made it about four months before we hit the inevitable point where it started feeling more like a relationship than he was comfortable with and he quickly grew more distant. It was a remarkably amicable breakup, however. He pulled me towards him and he kissed me and he said in all earnestness, "I just know someday I'm going to look back on this and ask, 'Why'd I fuck that one up?'"

It was what I wanted to hear, but I have serious doubts about whether it proved true. Some innocent Googling a couple years ago turned up evidence that he's apparently married now, so I feel it's unlikely I'm in his thoughts terribly often. I still think of him from time to time, though. Particularly when there's no toilet paper.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Birthday Schmirthday

If you happened to see Queen Latifah yesterday, I hope you wished her a happy birthday. I wonder if she finds March 18 to be less eventful every year the same way I do. I suppose when you're rich and famous, maybe birthdays continue to be a big deal. When you're middle class and anonymous, you can't even get a free drink anymore.

No matter. I had a pretty good birthday anyway. From my Grandma, I got the usual five dollar bill stapled inside a letter. From my dear friend Lisa (who apparently chose to abandon the wish list idea after all), I got my very own copy of the book I'm already reading. (Well done on her part for remembering I wanted to read it. I can't blame her for not keeping tabs on my position in queue within the library's hold list.) I also had a nice, fancy dinner at a very grown-up establishment, like the proper 32-year-old adult I'm supposed to be. Since we're not really proper adults, however, we still put away two bottles of overpriced wine and found ourselves openly mocking the wardrobe choices of Nachito Herrera's teenaged daughter's young boyfriend. Apparently when you're dating Nachito's daughter, you get to take your high school show choir skills downtown and showcase them on stage. You also apparently get to wear the red and black sequined t-shirt and glove from your show choir costume when you find yourself on that stage. Nachito's set last night was actually a tribute to Earth, Wind, & Fire, but as our waiter so aptly observed, "Someone needs to tell that guy that Michael Jackson was never part of Earth, Wind, & Fire."

Since I'm speaking of birthdays, I should also note that Stefanie Says turns one today. I don't really remember starting this thing on the day after my birthday, but that's what the first post date says, so who am I to argue with my own record keeping? Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.

Friday, March 17, 2006

When friends are like family

Lisa: So, what do you want for your birthday?

Me: Um, I don't know... You don't have to get me anything.

Lisa: Oh, shut up. I'm getting you something. Is there anything in particular you need? I mean, I know I can always get you a book or a CD, but that seems so boring.

Me: ...

Lisa: Do you still have your Amazon wish list? I guess I could check that...
[audible typing as she goes to]
So, this is the stuff you want? What is... These are all CDs. Don't you have anything but CDs on this list? Aren't there any movies you want or something?

Me: Um, I think there are a couple movies on there, aren't there?

Lisa: Gigantic? That's a movie? What's that about?

Me: It's a documentary about...

Lisa: Pasta straining pot? You want a pasta pot??

Me: Well,...

Lisa: Oh, Beth Orton. You don't have that one? Hmmm...
Yarn Girls? Eh; you already have a yarn book. You don't need that.

Me: ...

Lisa: Suf... Somebody Stevens? Who is that? I don't even know any of these CDs. Why haven't I heard of any of these bands? The Postal Service? Are they good?

Me: You haven't heard of The Postal Service? And you make fun of me for not knowing some Kanye West song?

Lisa: Heh. Dawson's Creek? O-K...

Me: Are you really critiquing my wish list?

Lisa is one of those friends who often feels more like a sister, in that we're sometimes painfully honest and occasionally careless with each other because we know we can get away with it. In this particular instance, however, I feel like I just had a conversation with my mother (that is, if my mother were just a tiny bit snarkier).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In my head today...

This song.

Partly because it was on my not-iPod at the health club over lunch, and partly because it's just how I'm feeling.

In this world I can see
Many billions waiting in the sun
So I'd love to believe
There'd be one of us for everyone
One of us for everyone
Enough to go around
But that's not what I've found

On a related note, this is my favorite search engine hit this week: "I hate dating so much."

You and me both, honey. You and me both.

Monday, March 13, 2006

One Date Boys

Here is, as promised, the continuation of this post the other day. If you haven't yet read about the original One Date Boy, perhaps you'll want to do that first. (Or not. It's not really a prerequisite to the sequel; I just thought I'd mention it is all.)


I've been dating sort of a lot lately (for me, anyway), as part of the Great Date Experiment of 2006 that I've mentioned once or thrice. While this does make for some amusing blog-fodder, it also presents a challenge for my usually fairly clear and well-compartmentalized memory. The older I get, the less astute I feel, and I've realized recently that I've actually forgotten the names (and, in some cases, even the circumstances under which I met) several of the One Date Boys of my past.

There really aren't so terribly many of them, I think. I'm definitely not the girl who gets noticed in any crowd, and I had possibly three "real" dates in all of high school and college combined, so truly I'm not any kind of record setter in this area at all. Still, even if I've averaged only 3 or 4 dates with strangers annually for every post-college year I've been single, the number has to be in the low 20s at least.

When I look at it that way, I guess it's not so surprising that my memory is fading a bit. Before too many more of them slip out of my mind, therefore, here's my list as I can remember it right now. Oh, One Date Boys, I hardly knew ye. Yet let's review, OK?
  • Steve - I met Steve at a bar downtown not that long after I moved to the Twin Cities. I was new here; I had very little dating experience; and I somehow felt willing to give a chance to dang near any guy who asked for my number. Steve was a perfectly nice man, I'm sure, and we must have gotten along well enough under the influence of alcohol and ABBA music in the Warehouse District bar where we met. In the sober light of early evening at an Italian restaurant in the Mall of America, however, it was an entirely different story.

    The main problem was likely that we were simply at totally different places in our lives. I was 25; he was 34. I was losing all my friends to newly married lives; he was suddenly regaining single friends due to their divorces. We also had very little in common, I think. I actually cared about education and the environment and the state of the world today; he was a Republican. (OK, that was unfair, I know. I was kidding, really.) My date with Steve was one of the longest dinners I've had in a restaurant, and it wasn't because we were having such a great time and such an engrossing conversation, but because I think neither of us knew how to end it gracefully. When we finally left, we said a quick goodbye at the entrance to the parking ramp, and--shockingly--I didn't hear from him again.

  • Troy - Troy was a guy my sister met through work, back when she was still married and living as a perfect Stepford Wife in a model home in Oakdale. After trying for months to come up with a casual and feasible way to introduce us, she finally decided to have a party at her house and include both of us among the guests. I felt more chemistry with a different acquaintance who showed up, but I gave Troy my number anyway, and he used it to call me--three months later. We went on one lunch date, which he expensed to his company, followed by a Pat McCurdy show during which he paid more attention to his cousin than to me. I actually saw his profile online recently. Attentiveness and business ethics were not listed as his strong points.

  • What's His Name - I didn't officially go on a date with this one, but the fact that he crashed my surprise birthday party (where he met and conversed with at least 15 of my friends and family members) before even properly asking me out makes him worth mentioning, I think. What's His Name and I met near the bar at Brother's one night (back when I still went to bars like Brother's fairly regularly). A few minutes into the conversation, I was pretty sure I had no interest in the guy, and I proceeded to enact the nonverbal communication part of the Girlfriend Code, where you make expressive eye contact with your friend to indicate "It's time to move along elsewhere now." Unfortunately, on the receiving end of this eye contact was my friend Julie, who was too busy flirting with a forest ranger in a barn jacket to notice or take my plea seriously. (Since she later married the forest ranger, I guess I have to forgive her for that.)

    While I was in the bathroom, Julie for some reason mentioned to What's His Name that a surprise birthday party was in the works for me the following night. He must have asked about the details and she, never thinking he planned to do anything with the information, told him where and when the party was to occur. When I showed up at the restaurant the next night for what I thought was just a small get-together with my roommate and some friends, I was completely surprised to see over a dozen friends, co-workers, and family members in attendance. I was beyond surprised to see What's His Name from the night before. He came, and he brought a friend. He then spent no less than two hours discussing sports and insurance with my father, and I spent the rest of the night explaining to everyone who the strange guy was who no one knew.

    What's His Name called me three times in the subsequent week, each time rattling onto my voicemail a long explanation reminding me who he was and how and where we met. Some women might find that sort of persistence endearing and cute. I found it desperate and uncomfortable. I'm only slightly ashamed to admit I never called him back. I'm far more ashamed I ever gave him my number. With What's His Name, I learned an important lesson, however, and that lesson is this: Sometimes, when you give a guy your number, he actually calls. And if you don't want that to happen, perhaps you should take his number instead.

  • Amoco Boy - I didn't actually go out with this one, either, but again, he makes for a good story. Amoco Boy is what I called the guy who worked at the service station near my apartment. I liked taking my car there because it was close and convenient; I could drive over and then walk home if I needed to leave my car for any extended period of time. For oil changes and minor repairs, however, I'd just sit in the waiting area while the mechanics did their work. Amoco Boy, when he was manning the service desk instead of doing the greasy work, would ask me questions about myself or comment on whatever book I was reading. He seemed nice, and he gave me several bits of free automotive advice, so I didn't mind the company at all.

    One night I ran into Amoco Boy at a now-defunct suburban bar, and he strangely asked me why I'd never called him. Deciding that was a clear green light indicating interest of some sort, I figured, "OK, I'll play along," and I pointed out that it was him who had access to my number, what with my being in his computer system at work and all. His response is something I remember every time I feel pessimistic about men's intentions or the elusiveness of true and monogamous love. Amoco Boy looked at me, leaned down, cocked his head to the side, and said, "You know, I thought about calling you, and I wanted to call you. I really, really did. But I figured I probably shouldn't, because I'm getting married in three months." He then turned and pointed to his fiance', cutting it up on the dance floor about 30 feet away. And I died a little bit inside. Or, at least, my faith in romance did.

  • Brian - Brian was beside me at a Martin Zellar show at The Fine Line one night. We were dancing and drinking, and somehow, by the end of the set, we managed to transition pretty smoothly from conversation to kissing. Brian was a couple years younger than I, and he later explained that he was just home from college for a week's spring break. He e-mailed me from Michigan Tech several times in the following weeks, and we made plans to get together the next time he was in town. He signed each e-mail with a different last name (Brian Iglesious, Brian Diggler, Brian Cruise...) I don't even remember what his real last name was, but I suppose it's not terribly important at this point. He canceled plans with me twice--once telling me that he'd decided not to return for the weekend after all, and the next time choosing some friend or family event instead of the date with me. When we finally did get together, it was for drinks and uncomfortably gropey dancing at the Mall of America's nightclub. He may have been only two years younger than me in calendar age, but he was definitely still in college, and I was definitely not. As we walked towards our cars, he tried to convince me to come home with him, but "home" was actually his parents' house, where he was staying for the weekend. I'm not one to get lured back for some action after a first date anyway, but when that action's set to occur in the guy's childhood twin bed, it's even less appealing to me somehow. Call me crazy; it's just how it is.

  • Mike - Mike was another Fine Line find--this time during one of the weekly shows the then-popular retro cover band Boogie Wonderland played each week. I'm not sure what sort of connection I felt he and I might have, but I expect that (like too many of the men in this list) it had something to do with alcohol and loud live music. Mike was the gruff and burly "man's man" sort of guy... not generally my "type," but I do try to keep an open mind. He picked me up in an Oldsmobile with a frat decal on the window, something I still find funny though I can't really explain why. Our date was a dinner at a place in Uptown that serves enormous bowls of pasta--portions so generous that no one, no one attempts to finish the whole thing. No one, that is, except Mike. (And maybe a Minnesota Viking.) Not only did Mike finish his pasta, but when the waitress reached to remove his clearly empty plate, asking just out of politeness, "Are you done with this?" he snapped at her with a mouth full of bread, "No! I'm dipping." The poor waitress cowered away, returning for his plate only after our bread basket was empty and all traces of sauce had been wiped from his dish.

    I've mentioned before that I've never really mastered the polite and graceful way to decline a second date offer at the end of the first date. At my doorstep that night, when Mike asked what the next step would be ("So... should I call you, or do you want to call me?"), I didn't know what to say. I think I responded with a lame and feeble, "Um, how 'bout we just play that by ear?" He apparently took the hint, because he simply said, "Oh." I didn't hear from him again, and I'm really OK with that.

  • Lawyer Guy - The mystery to me on this one is that I don't remember either his name or the time or place where we met. I remember a phone conversation, during which I'm pretty sure we talked about REM and other musical interests, but I don't remember anything before that conversation, nor do I remember why we didn't just go on a normal and proper sort of date as a follow-up. For whatever reason, I must have wanted to fabricate some sort of casual and non-threatening group get-together of sorts, so I invited him for drinks after work one night with me and a couple of friends. That wouldn't be so odd, I suppose, if it was an organized (and co-ed) work happy hour that was already planned in advance, or if I'd suggested that perhaps he bring a friend or two as well. Instead, it was just me and two girlfriends, apparently screening him in some absurd way. I can't really blame him for taking a cell phone call and abruptly leaving after an hour or so in the bar. Maybe the whole situation made more sense at the time, but in retrospect, this was definitely among my more dysfunctional attempts at dating.

  • Russ - Russ worked in my building at a previous job in the Twin Cities. My friend Angela and I used to see him around fairly regularly, and since we didn't know his name, we referred to him as--alternately--either Jody or Johnny Whitaker, because of his resemblance to the young boy on Family Affair. I really wasn't looking to actually meet Russ; he wasn't someone I had my eye on with any sort of interest at all. One day, I was talking to another co-worker in the hallway, though, and the guy I knew only as "Jody" stopped to talk. Apparently my co-worker and him were friends, and when he realized that she knew me, he inquired about my status and followed up by e-mail to ask me out. I'll admit Russ was interesting and very, very nice. It was a little weird to receive an e-mail listing "Top Ten Great Things about Russ" as a way of introducing himself, but I really don't think he was any sort of egocentric jerk, so I chose to think he was being clever or charming instead of absurdly arrogant. We had one date for drinks after work, and he followed up persistently during what was an unusually busy and travel-filled couple of months at my job. In the end, I have to admit that my only reason for rejecting him was that I simply wasn't attracted to him. It's shallow, but it's a fact. You can't just will chemistry to happen. He's probably married by now, to a much nicer and more open-minded woman than I. I wish him all the best.

  • Greg #1 - I really wanted to like Greg. Really I did. He was a former mechanic who'd recently quit his job to pursue a nursing degree. All I could think was what a useful combination of skills that could be, and how convenient it would be to have him around. He could fix my car AND tell me whether my cough requires a doctor! Just imagine all the money I'd save! Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. I think he was just as lukewarm about me as I was about him, as neither of us followed up terribly aggressively. Plus, he liked sauerkraut on his pizza, and really, how could I live with that?

  • Greg #2 - Perhaps you've heard that urban myth that weddings are a great place to meet dates. I personally think this theory is entirely flawed. Men go to weddings with dates; they don't go expecting to meet dates. Still, at a friend's wedding a few years ago, I met Greg, who was there as the platonic "safety date" of a mutual friend of the couple. He seemed nice; he asked me out; he cooked me dinner at his house. It was all fine; it was just a little... awkward. I don't think Greg had dated much before. I'm not sure he'd ever even had a woman (other than his mother) in his house before. It apparently hadn't occurred to him that dainty porcelain figurines of birds and other animals might not be the most manly and modern choice with which to adorn his dining room curio shelves. I also don't think he realized the odd boundary he was crossing by sharing with a near-stranger his very personal (and almost creepy) album of thank you notes and fan letters from his current and former students. I'm sure he was just trying to demonstrate that he's a good teacher and well-liked in the hope that it might make me like him as well. I did like him, I suppose, just not in "that way." (Since we're talking about high school kids, I might as well talk like one myself, I figure.) Again, he's probably married by now, to a very sweet and kind woman who's not me. That or he was the model for Steve Carell's character in that movie we all know.

  • Aaron - I met Aaron about a month after I broke up with my last boyfriend (you know--the one who was supposed to be The One). He was a friend of my sister's who I met at a happy hour she organized. We had a great conversation and seemed to have a lot in common, and it was the kind of encounter that, just weeks earlier, would have made me think, "Huh. If I were single, he might be a promising guy to go on a date with." Except I suddenly realized that now I was single, and I could go on a date with him. And we did go on a date--a couple weeks later, after a few clever e-mails back and forth. And it went fine, more or less. Good conversation, many things in common, no terribly awkward moments... In all, though, it felt more like a "friend thing" than a date. Maybe that's because we had no chemistry or maybe it had something to do with it being my first first date in nearly three years. The fact that I cried both before and after the date (for reasons that had nothing to do with the person who'd asked me on the date) was probably a pretty clear indication that I just wasn't ready. Regardless, things remain thankfully unawkward on the rare occasions I still see Aaron. I actually invited him to a party at my house last fall, and he and three of his friends all arrived wearing "I [heart] Hooters" stickers on their shirts. So maybe the one date limit was a good call after all. Incidentally, I still have one of the stickers affixed to my fridge. (Don't ask me why... I'm lazy? It's an interesting conversation piece? Probably a bit of both, I suppose.)

There are more, of course, like this guy, and this guy, and I'm sure several others that I've either completely forgotten by this point or still remember but just offered no bizarre or amusing details to relay. Regardless, I do believe I've earned my merit badge by now; wouldn't you agree?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Shouldn't I have a cake or something?

I just realized that that last item was actually my 100th post to Stefanie Says. If this were The Simpsons or Family Ties or something, I'm sure we would have done a clip show and had a "bring the cast out to parade in front of the studio audience" moment of some sort. Instead, I just wrote a letter I have no intention of sending. Yeah, I'm all about the fanfare here.

Also, considering I started this thing nearly a year ago, perhaps I should be a bit ashamed of myself for taking so very dang long to get to 100. Prolific I am not, clearly. Drunk a little bit I am, however. This makes typing a tad more difficult. It also makes me talk a bit like Yoda, apparently, as well.

The next time I raise a glass to toast some minor milestone, I should really have a proper drink in hand. A White Russian with skim milk instead of cream is really just not the same. Cue the "The More You Know" PSA ditty on that, I say.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Continuing my theory that dating is an awful lot like work

Dear [latest guy to be eliminated from the My Matches list],

Thank you for applying for the position of Stefanie's new boyfriend. We appreciate your time and interest during the screening and interview process.

I'm sure you understand that we are currently evaluating several qualified candidates for this position. While we believe you may have a number of worthy credentials (including your respect for proper grammar, your interest in art, and your affinity for online library reservation systems), we've determined that your actual personality is not a good fit for Stefanie at this time.

Please accept our best wishes, and good luck in your continued search.

The Search Committee Management

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Proofreading: It's not just for English majors

What's the appropriate thing to do when a co-worker includes an unintentionally hilarious typo in an e-mail message to the company's tech support personnel? Forward it to half the rest of the company, of course. And what's the appropriate thing for someone within that "half the rest of the company" to do if that someone happens to have a blog? Post it on the Internet for the rest of you to enjoy, of course.

Can you blame me?

From: [devious co-worker]
To: Stefanie; [miscellaneous other co-workers]
Subject: FW: Help with my computer

Look what kind of software [name redacted] wants installed on his computer.

----------[forwarded message]----------

From: [name redacted]
To: [tech support guy]
CC: [devious co-worker]; [company president]
Subject: Help with my computer

[tech support guy],

As I indicated yesterday, I need your help with the following things:

1. Install dick burning software on my computer.
2. Install software that will convert documents to PDF format.
3. Adjust the sensitivity of the mouse pad on my notebook.

Ouch. Somehow I think that once he's accomplished #1, the sensitivity of his mouse pad is likely to be the least of his problems.

On a brighter note (grammar geek-wise), at least he used a colon correctly.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

One Date Girl

During my first senior year of college (yes, I had two of them; the five-year plan was almost the norm at my school), I went out with someone my friends later came to know as "One Date Boy." The source of the nickname is pretty obvious: we had one date and no more. It was actually a two-part date--we went to lunch one Friday before his shift at the movie theater, and then after work he picked me up for drinks at a bar downtown--but still, cumulatively, I consider it a single date.

One Date Boy (whose name was actually Patrick) was a perfectly nice boy, and we got along fine, so I'm not entirely sure why we didn't bother going out again. He definitely had a few unexpected quirks, but none of them were really deal-breakers, I suppose. Still, the odd moments of our single date made for some good stories where I probably presented Patrick in less favorable a light than necessary. For example, there's possibly nothing wrong with taking a date to a restaurant with a large fiberglass chicken on the roof. The city where I went to college actually has several restaurants that feature fiberglass animals and other mascots in the parking lot or on the roof. To eliminate all of them just on some aversion to the tackiness of the decor would possibly be a bit rash.

And maybe it's not so odd that he chose to order gizzards as his side dish at said restaurant. Plenty of people like gizzards, I bet. So what if even the waitress was a bit disturbed by his choice? ("Don't let him make you try those," she said, with a very serious look on her face.) I was thinking that "I'm a guy who likes gizzards" was maybe not the message one would want to present on a first date, but perhaps I'm looking at that all wrong. Maybe it's a fun quirk that makes him interesting and unique, and surely that's the image he was trying to convey.

Patrick had a few other interesting and unique quirks as well. He liked The Cranberries, for instance. No, I mean, really liked The Cranberries. So much so that, when one of their hits came on the juke box, he felt compelled to throw his head back and shout "Sing it, Dolores!" Um, yeah. So he was a music fan. That's not so bad, right?

And then there was the Babylon 5 obsession. Maybe it's just because the Internet was fairly new at that point and I wasn't really used to message boards and mailing lists and such, but it seemed a little strange to me that anyone would want to receive upwards of 500 e-mail messages each day concerning a science fiction show I'd never even seen. Again, quite possibly that was more my problem than his. I'm really trying to be fair in retrospect.

Most of my friends at the time heard these stories about Patrick, and since I didn't date much in college (at least not in the standard, textbook Date Protocol manner of 1. Meet brand-new guy, 2. Exchange numbers with brand-new guy, and 3. Go on date to get to know brand-new guy), his designation as "One Date Boy" didn't create a lot of confusion. When I graduated from college and moved to the Twin Cities, however, and started meeting and going on dates with strangers more regularly, I needed to find new reference points. That's when I realized maybe it's not the guys who have the one-date limit. Maybe it's me. I'm One Date Girl.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that someday I would write a post listing all of the One Date Boys I could remember. My friends, that day is today. Or, it was supposed to be today, but it's taking me longer to compile the list than I thought. So consider this Part One of the story. To be continued soon...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lonely Planet says there are twice as many goats as people in Jamaica*

Forgive the absence, but it's been a slow and resistant transition for me back into normal life. I'm not sure if this means I should go on vacation more often or less. I'm leaning towards the former.

I've been back since Wednesday night, and I've only now put the last load of laundry in the dryer. My suitcase is still on my bedroom floor, waiting for me to take it outside and shake out the sand into the snow. The delay on this is equal parts procrastination and paranoia... I'm actually leery of investigating too deeply into the pockets and crevices of my bag, for fear of what might be inside. I had a stowaway, you see, and I'm still pretty creeped out about it.

When I finally started pulling stuff out of my suitcase Thursday after work, I noticed something I didn't recognize alongside it on the floor. Further examination revealed it to be a tiny gecko lying belly-up on my hardwood. Those little critters were cute as they were scurrying around outside our hotel in Negril, but finding one in my bedroom is another story. Jamaican field mice is what those things are, and exotic rodents aren't any more welcome in my home than domestic ones are.

Lucky for me, the little guy was dead. He actually looked a little flattened, so maybe the jostling of my shoes and my 20-pound toiletries bag during the trip from check-in to cargo hold to baggage claim had something to do with it. Regardless, I held my breath and quickly scooped him into a paper towel and tossed him in the trash. I shuddered a few times for good measure and spent the rest of the night feeling entirely more jumpy than usual, but after that, I put it out of my mind. Then I relayed the story to a friend via email and got this unwelcome theory in reply:

Um, not to freak you out, but that gecko might not have been dead. The cargo hold of a plane gets very cold and a gecko is a reptile, cold-blooded. Once he warms up he might revive. You took out your garbage, right?

I hadn't, but I probably don't have to tell you that's the first thing I did when I got home from work.

But enough about little dead lizards. Perhaps you'd like to hear about the rest of my trip.

Let's see. I could tell you about the taxi driver who was also a policeman and some sort of prostitute and ganja dealer. (Every taxi driver we had tried to give us his number to get return business from us; this was the only one who specified that we needed to call his "boss" instead of him directly. We met her, and she definitely had a pimp vibe going on... not that I would really know about such a thing.)

I could tell you about our tour of Mayfield Falls, where the brochure promised that a guide would "entertain [us] about the legend of the falls and its twenty-one natural pools, its underwater caves, its natural jacuzzis, and cliff jumping" and also "explain the many species of herbs used by locals for healing." We did have a guide, and he did point out a leaf or two, but moreover the whole experience felt like some bizarre low-budget photo shoot, with two guys ogling us in our swimsuits, snapping picture after picture that they later tried to sell to us on CD for the oh-so-reasonable price of $45 US.

I could tell you about our visit (on a day pass) to the notorious resort whose name starts with "Hed" and ends with "nism" and has an "o" in between.** But, as they say, what happens in Jamaica stays in Jamaica, and maybe it's better to leave to your imagination what we did or didn't witness and what we did or didn't do there. In truth, the overall atmosphere was decidedly more mellow than I expected, but I still can't think about that day without hearing a line from an old REM song: "I have seen things that you will never see."

I could tell you all of these stories and more in all sorts of tedious detail, but I do believe that sometimes random snippets presented out of context can actually be more amusing than complete and linear stories. In that vein, here are a few quotes recorded for posterity in my travel journal. Make of them what you will.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tyrone the taxi driver, explaining his "other" job(s): "If there's something you want, I get it for you; if there's something you want to try but don't know how to do, I show you..."

Stef (reading from the Lonely Planet guidebook): "There is a high prevalence of venereal disease in Jamaica."
Lisa: "Great. And I sat on all those toilet seats."

Stef, to Lisa, eating our hotel's takeout on the beach: "This is probably the worst pizza I've ever had."
Lisa: "Yeah; it's pretty bad."
Random lady walking by: "Good pizza, huh?"
Stef: [*Pause*] "Did you have it?"
Random lady: "Yep!"
Stef: "Hmm."

Lisa (at the mystery resort): "Nude means you can wear a hat."

New friend we made, talking about I don't even remember what: "That's not porn; that's sexual enlightenment."

Fruit bowl guy who wanted money for a photo with us: "Do you want the marijuana in the picture?"

Stef, watching the clock for the expiration of our day pass: "Our pumpkin turns into a carriage... I mean, our carriage turns into a pumpkin at 3:00 a.m."

Stef, at Mayfield Falls: "It feels like something bit my ass."
Lisa: "Just smell your leaf, Stef."

Lisa, recognizing at a bar the Slavic woman we'd met earlier in the week: "You remember her... you know those breasts... we're really familiar with those."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And I guess that about sums things up (at least, as thoroughly as I'm going to at the moment). All in all it was a great time, and I hope it was not the last of Lisa's and my "no-boys-allowed" trips together. No problem, mon.

* This is just a fun but inconsequential fact from our guidebook that I wanted to work in somewhere, but when I didn't manage to do so, I decided to put it here. Sometimes the titles come easily and sometimes they just don't.

** I'm not being cryptic and coy here; I just really don't want to start seeing search results for this in my Sitemeter referrals list!