Friday, April 28, 2006

It's not you; it's me.

Who else remembers an old Seinfeld episode where Elaine breaks up with a guy because she doesn't agree with his punctuation use? While she's out, she gets a call letting her know that a friend had a baby, and the guy, jotting the message on a post-it note, neglects to add an exclamation point to the news. Elaine thinks it's worthy of an exclamation point; he argues that he doesn't just toss exclamation points out willy-nilly; so clearly the relationship is doomed to fail.

I'd like to think I'm more open minded than this. Really I would. And yet, reading an email from a guy who apparently wants to go on a date with me, all I can think is, "Seven exclamation points? In three paragraphs? Is that really necessary?"

Bear in mind that this was little more than a small-talk message, where the topics ranged from the Guthrie Theater's latest production to the guy's plans to visit his parents this weekend. I simply see no reason to punctuate excitement or urgency on any of these matters.

And this is why the Internet is maybe not the best place for an overanalytical dork like me to find my mate. At least I'm aware that the problem is, mostly likely, me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Actually, I identify more with a well-placed semi-colon

I've seen this quiz all over the dang place lately, but I was hesitant to be a joiner and take it because, frankly, I sleep alone, and I don't need to be reminded that a big chunk of the rest of the population doesn't. I don't need to see a line drawing assessment of the ideal pose for me and my honey because honey, it's just me in the bed.

Still, eventually I got curious (and bored), so I clicked the link. Turns out I'm a colon.

I am a colon!
Find your own pose!

I'm going to assume that's colon as in punctuation and not colon as in large intestines because, well, even if neither makes a particular amount of sense, the latter is just a bit gross.

In any case, while I don't really grasp the relevance of most of the quirky questions in this quiz, I'm almost convinced Evany is onto something, because this? This is pretty much spot-on.

Colon Traits and Tendencies: The Colon is the chosen pose of individuals who, on their own, seem awkward or remote. They may be the sort who responds to telephone messages with email, or spends their lunchtimes quietly pedometer-walking in lieu of socializing with coworkers. But when a Colonist finds its mate, together they acquire a grace and ease that surprises friends and family.

In addition, I do, incidentally, often curl up much like the lady on the left in that picture, but I had no idea it said something about me as a person. Seriously, this is a little creepy. I'm starting to wonder again if I'm being watched.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stamp collecting

This weekend, I somehow managed to forget or ignore the fact that I am old and antisocial and actually went out three nights in a row. I don't remember the last time I did that, and I'm considering the faded black smudge on the back of my hand a bizarre badge of honor for this accomplishment.

The smudge is, of course, the remains of the stamps that three separate burly men in doorways pressed onto my skin in that semi-permanent ink of which bars and concert venues are so fond. Three showers and multiple handwashings are no match for that stuff; I'll be showing traces of my weekend tomorrow still , I'm sure.

Stamp #1 - Thursday, Northrup Auditorium
Thursday night, six friends and I went to see Franz Ferdinand & Death Cab for Cutie on the U of M campus, where we were pleased to see we were not the oldest people in attendance after all. I was cracking jokes about finding a place to stash our walkers, but as it turned out, another distinct demographic was bringing up the curve: the parents who came accompanying their teenagers. I may have been one of the few people at that show without a Myspace page, but at least I'm not sporting the Mom Hair just yet. There's some small comfort in that, I suppose.

Stamp #2 - Friday, First Avenue
Friday I was at First Ave. for Rhett Miller's show, where I was too transfixed on the impossibly energetic Rhett, with his free-swaying ever-bendable hips and his shiny tousled rock star hair to pay much attention to anyone else. Few artists make me swoon like the giddy teenagers I've seen on old Beatles concert footage, but Rhett has a strange power over me that actually made me flutter my hands in front of me involuntarily more than once. He appeals to the good-girl geek in me. Sure, it's nearly a given that any man who's reasonably attractive becomes instantly sexier when he picks up a guitar, but the fact that this one has worked Kafka and Salinger and long division into his lyrics only adds to his charismatic appeal. I'm convinced that when Rhett introes the song Four-Eyed Girl with "This one's for nerdy girls everywhere!" he's speaking directly to me, of course. (I'm fully aware that he's got a wife and two small children who I'm sure he's loyal to completely, but let me have this one small fantasy for just a moment, OK?)

Stamp #3 - Saturday, Mario's Keller Bar
I haven't been to this place (or any loud crowded place with hundreds of young singles in scope 'n hope mode) in probably over a year, but I went there last night for a going away party for the last guy I mentioned in this post, who's taking a job in China for a year. I'm not sure what to consider the highpoint of the night... hearing an accordian-fueled polka version of "Love Me Do"? Jumping on a bandwagon about four years late and ordering my first vodka & Red Bull? No, I think it was being told by a 26-year-old guy that I have "a great body for a 32-year-old." Thanks for the twisted half-compliment, buddy. I'm sure he gets all the ladies with gems like that. Clearly if I were 27, he'd deem me a bit flabby, but since I'm 32, his expectations are lower and it ups my rating a bit? I shouldn't be so harsh, I suppose; he seemed like a nice guy (more or less), and he did at one point turn to his friend to say, "I like this girl; she's smart." Still, between the body comment and his friend's repeated request to make out with me, I'm really torn over which of the two wins the award for most charming and eligible bachelor. I'll admit the whole scenario was entertaining, though I can't decide if the experience means I should hit the bars again more often or less.

Stamp #4 - Tonight, my living room
No, I'm not inking up a rubber stamp and charging a cover for friends entering my home. What I'm referring to here is the checkerboard impression that my couch cushion made on my face when I dozed off for a bit just now. I may occasionally still try to party like a 22-year-old, but the bounceback will just never be as quick.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How's it going to end?

You know that scene in The Truman Show when the producers are trying to keep Truman from seeing the... guy? who's in that... building?... where... something is going on, and...

OK, so I haven't seen that movie in forever, and therefore the details are a little hazy, but I remember all sorts of complicated and carefully planned obstacles to thwart Jim Carrey's access to something or other... Cars veer out in front of him; women rush into the elevator and refuse to hold the door... Truman's onto them, however, because he heard the director's audio accidentally broadcast over his car radio, and he saw inside the fake elevator that's not actually equipped with any mechanism to go up or down, and he knows that something's up.

That's kind of how my commute feels some days. I'm just trying to get myself to work in time to avoid any disapproving glares from the few people who actually care what time I arrive, and yet, the world around me has other plans. Annoying drivers in enormous SUVs pull out into my lane and then proceed to go the exact same speed as the car beside them, boxing me out from any hope of passing. Elderly men in dark, wraparound glasses turn onto the street in front of me and then coast along at 10 mph below the speed limit. Every traffic light mysteriously turns red just as I approach. Families of ducks waddle slowly across my path. The UPS guy steps into the crosswalk with a teetering stack of packages. Two men lift a huge pane of glass from a truck and carry it across the street. You know--the usual. Just like in the movies. And all of these suspicious obstacles are orchestrated for one purpose only: to make. me. late.

OK, so it's really just the SUVs and the traffic lights (and occasionally, I guess, the elderly folk), and I'm sure there's no mastermind (or TV director) behind it. Clearly none of this would even be a concern if I could just drag my sorry self out of bed the first (or even the third) time my alarm goes off, therefore allowing more than three minutes of leeway in my routine.

It's really nothing new for me to momentarily entertain the possibility that the world revolves around me. To think my every move is being recorded for an always-on reality TV program, however? That's far-fetched even for my overactive imagination. I don't care how bad TV has gotten; no one would watch that show. It would be kind of fun to see what the editors would splice together to make it passable, however.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sacrilege and Laziness (i.e., just my average Sunday)

Once again, I decided to skip the trip back to Wisconsin for Easter and spent the weekend with my urban family instead. For the second year in a row, my sister and I gathered a group of friends at Nye's for a Heathens and Easter Orphans Brunch. There were, I'm sure, several differences between our Easter buffet and the one my parents and grandmother likely had at a supper club back home. Nye's per-person price is twice as high (and I had to pay my share out of my own wallet rather than letting my dad foot the bill), but the food was immeasurably better, and I saw no diners whose idea of Easter Sunday Best was Packer sweats or a flannel shirt. It's probably also a fair guess that the conversation at my parents' table didn't turn to someone's former employment as a phone sex actress, nor that my very Catholic mother would have appreciated my sister's boyfriend's Jewish humor as he explained how he likes to watch The Ten Commandments because "Every year, my people win!"

I'm sure the Catholic people who raised me would also be disappointed that on this holiest of all days, my closest brush with anything Biblical was an adherence to that "On the seventh day, He rested" bit. Good idea with that one, God; I'm totally with you on that. After stuffing myself at brunch, I spent the next four hours parked near-immobile on my couch. It's now been five hours since my last feeding, and my stomach is feeling only the slightest twinge of wanting me to add anything to it to possibly top it off.

It's not just the binging that spawned my laziness today, though. I don't know what's wrong with me, but the past few days, despite the lovely spring weather, I've been feeling like a sloth. When I left the restaurant after brunch, I was actually glad to see that the sky was cloudy and there were rain drops on my car. I figured rain gave me a free pass to stay in and do nothing, guilt-free. Now, however, the clouds have cleared and the wind has died down, and it looks by all signs to be a gorgeous, sunny day. I'm still not outside breathing fresh air into my lungs, however. Instead, I'm sitting at my computer and I'm staring out my window, thinking "I should build a patio."

The patio idea wasn't prompted by any urge to entertain; I'm not suddenly envisioning fabulous barbecues and lively summer get-togethers with intimate groups of friends. No, like so many ideas I conjure up and then abandon, this one follows a progressive string from Thought A. to Thought E. that is logical, likely, to no one but me. In this case, it went something like this: (A. It's such a nice day. I should really get outside and do something to enjoy it. (B. But what am I going to do out there? I don't feel like taking a walk; I don't want to clean the dust off my bike and pump the tires for a ride. I can't just sit out there, can I? Don't only old people do that? (C. If I had some proper lawn furniture, I could sit out there without feeling like a fool. If I had a real patio table and actual patio chairs, rather than the sad little cheap and uncomfortable green plastic chairs I've had since my "apartments with balconies" days, then I could sit outside and have a drink and do nothing, and it would look totally normal. (D. But if I had proper lawn furniture, I'd have to drag every heavy piece of it out of the way each time I mow. That would be a pain in the ass. That would be no fun. (E. If only I had a patio... The proper furniture could stay there, out of the way of the mower, off the grass where the bugs live... That would be an excellent solution. I should build a patio.

Does anyone else see a problem with this plan? I want a place to sit and do nothing, and I want to have this place while also avoiding any unnecessary additional effort when doing yard work. Obviously, the core driver in this patio idea is laziness. But building a patio is hard work. Hard work that the frugal (i.e., poor) girl I am would feel compelled to take on herself rather than hire someone more qualified to do. Laziness and patio-building do not go hand in hand. Hence, the patio idea will likely end here. It was a lovely thought while it lasted, however. Maybe a hammock is a more appropriate option to pursue. Do hammocks come with cupholders? I think further investigation is in order...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I'm going to go out on a not-so-shocking limb here and admit something that probably everyone who knows me has already figured out. Despite the fact that I am, inarguably, a full-grown and mostly responsible adult, my diet is not unlike that of a twelve-year-old who has foolishly and inexplicably been left to her own devices.

I don't mean to imply that I eat ice cream as a meal or consider ketchup a vegetable. (Not usually, anyway.) But I do somewhat routinely have cereal for dinner, and it has occurred to me to wonder how long one can subsist solely on the grains and starches slice of the food pyramid before showing early signs of scurvy. Does red wine count as a fruit serving? If so, that could bide me some time.

If I were truly a mature and self-reliant adult, I would understand that my eating habits are my own responsibility and that it's up to me to realize nutrients are important, buy the proper groceries, and learn to cook regular and reasonable meals. Since I'm lazy and I love a scapegoat, however, I'm going to blame my parents.

Don't get me wrong. My parents are good people. I may not agree with their politics, and I may find myself baffled by the quirks they acquire as they age, but I don't have a whole lot of qualms with how they raised me. I really do think they did a reasonably fine job of teaching me the sorts of things it's important to know to function as a productive adult. I can tie my shoes, match my clothes, ride a bike, drive a car, and balance my checkbook all because of the useful knowledge they bestowed. Unfortunately, it seems they skipped the chapter in the parenting handbook that deals with food and cooking. As a result, I have no idea what "normal" grown-ups eat, and I'd have little idea how to prepare things if I did.

I've said for years that it's not that I can't cook, but rather that I choose not to. That's really only half true, I guess. I can follow a recipe with fairly reliable success, but I have no idea how to whimsically toss things together to make a meal out of what's on hand. I never learned the importance of having the right things on hand to even attempt such a feat if I so chose. I think people pass on to their children the things that are meaningful and enjoyable to them. Since my mother didn't cook any more than absolutely necessary, she was never particularly concerned if I did either. As a result, I really never learned the basics. I can boil water, sure, and even bake a potato just fine, but I couldn't even make corn on the cob last summer without consulting the Internet for instructions. (Does it go in the water for two minutes or twenty? If I want to grill it, do I soak it first or not?) It's ludicrous, I realize, but this isn't innate knowledge. Someone has to teach you. In my case, no one did. Or, if they did, I had so little interest that the knowledge didn't stick, kind of like the way I never really learned the "right way" to fold sheets. (The fitted sheet is always a lumpy mess, and I can't help but imagine my mother's disappointment each time I try to smooth it out.)

Since I don't cook, I'm entirely confused by people who do, and who do so not just out of necessity but because they actually enjoy the process and not just the result. I'm awed when my friends describe meals that incorporate all major food groups--meals they created in their own home from reasonably fresh meat and whole, actual vegetables. Meals where the majority of the ingredients did not come from a box, can, or freezer package. Meals that involved slicing and dicing and at least four kitchen gadgets or appliances that I myself do not own. To me, preparing a meal like this on an average Tuesday (with no special occasion or visitor prompting it) is akin to churning my own butter in my backyard. It's simply an archaic and unnecessary concept I just cannot understand. Why would I go through all that work when I can just rip open a pack of Easy Mac or microwave a can of soup? Why should I buy fresh vegetables when they're just going to go bad before I can use them?

Some people, upon visiting friends' homes, like to peek in the medicine cabinet to see what's inside. Me--I'm more interested in the refrigerator. When a friend tells me to help myself to a drink, I can't help but quickly scan the contents of the fridge, and I'm often amazed by the wonders it holds. Ooh--polenta... what are you going to do with that? Really?--Edamame? You can buy that in a store? Hmm... Actual lettuce. Isn't it easier to get a bag of it, pre-chopped? Sprouts? You really like those? No one's forcing you to eat that? Wait, are those actual leftovers? You mean, you have a lunch to bring to work that's not frozen in a non-recyclable plastic tray?

It's amazing, really. A parallel universe, in a way.

Unfortunately, the older I get, the less acceptable it feels to be a kitchen incompetent, to shun broccoli like a child. In college, piling a stack of frozen pizzas in your grocery cart was the norm; now it's a little embarrassing. These days, every time I head to the grocery store, I tell myself, "I am going to buy real food." I swear I will do my shopping around the perimeter of the store, avoiding my usual stand-bys in the inner aisles and freezer cases. But every time, I wander the produce department thinking, "But I don't like any of this stuff." I stroll through the meat department and think, "What would I do with that?" Clearly the answer is to do my research ahead of time--to consult menus and web sites and make a proper list as a guide. Planning is rarely my strong point, it seems. So instead, each time, I find myself wanting to hide behind dark glasses as I shamefully pile box after box of processed, preservative-filled convenience foods on the conveyor belt at the register. And the whole process starts over again.

I have made some small steps to improve in specific areas. I buy my cereal from the organic & natural aisle, because the ingredients list on those varieties is generally just a few items long and consists of items I can actually pronounce and even identify. I try to avoid transfats, since I heard a nutritionist on NPR explain that they're just one molecule away from a plastic. (Even with my limited knowledge of nutrition, I know that can't be good.) I do wonder how much better I'd feel if I actually ate a real vegetable more than a couple times a month, if I got more of my nutrients from food instead of from the multivitamins I too often forget to take. But then, as in so many scenarios in life, I recall the proper Simpsons reference for the situation, and I remember everyone but Lisa doubling over in pain after a healthy and vegetable-heavy meal. And I think, maybe I've simply evolved. My body now relies on the preservatives... is in fact using them to morph me into some indestructible super-human with a rock-solid immune system. I actually haven't had a cold in well over a year; maybe I have the Freschettas and Easy Mac to thank.

It's a stretch, I realize. Just go with it, OK?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Will the real Miss Wisconsin please stand up?

You have no idea how amused I was to see I'm the only result in this search.

Yes, I do realize I should probably get out more.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Clearly no one consulted me about this

Really, Ethan? Really?? Didn't we already talk about this?*

I know I'm not an agent or a studio exec or anyone else with any sort of valid credentials about this sort of thing, but I just can't help having some reservations about this particular move.

I really, really don't want to give up on you, Ethan. But the choices you're making lately... Frankly, you're just not making it very easy to love you anymore. That's all I'm saying.

* Scroll down to letter #2 here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


In case you aren't aware, today is Tartan Day in the U.S. Apparently, Tartan Day is a day officially dedicated to celebrating the Scottish influence on America. Sadly, much as I'm fond of Scotland, I'm really not aware of that many particularly notable influences the Scots have had on this country. I mean, aside from plaid. And Ewan McGregor. Oh, and golf. I forgot about golf. And obviously without the Scots, we would not have Groundskeeper Willie, so maybe I need to rethink my hasty disregard for all things Scottish. The Scots' cuisine may never have been a big hit on this side of the pond, but clearly they've provided some fine contributions nonetheless.

If you didn't hear about Tartan Day, I'm sure you're not alone. I heard about it only because a DJ on The Current mentioned it this morning on my way to work. He then proceeded to play my favorite bagpipe song in honor of the day.

What? Stop looking at me that way. You mean to tell me you don't have a favorite bagpipe song? Come on.

I've probably mentioned once or twice that in college, I studied abroad for one semester in a town just outside Edinburgh. I'd know very little about Scotland myself if not for those five months there. But thanks to that trip, I know exactly what neeps and tatties are. (Hint: It has nothing to do with anything a stripper does or wears.) I've actually tried haggis. (It's really not that bad.) I can translate fun little phrases like "I dinna ken what to do with a wee Highland coo." I know all the words to Auld Lang Syne. I've seen Loch Ness. (Nessie wasn't out that day.) And, perhaps most impressive, I was able to comprehend nearly every word of dialogue in Trainspotting without the aid of subtitles.

Anyway, I bring all of this up not because I think we all need a lesson in Scottish culture, but because I think this Tartan Day thing could really catch on. If Halloween, Mardi Gras, New Year's, St. Patrick's Day, and even Cinco de Mayo are any indication, Americans love any excuse to put on a silly outfit or some tacky accessories and get shamelessly drunk in public. I went out on St. Patrick's Day; I know what I'm talking about. Why should the Irish (and Irish-wannabes) have all the fun?

I predict that it won't be long before drunken frat boys are donning kilts and tam-o'-shanters and cramming into bars each April 6 to down some Scotch whisky or throw back a few pints. Maybe the day just needs a less formal and dignified name and the endorsement of a major beer company. Of course, a bit of grass roots campaigning in the pubs across America won't hurt, either. I'm free tonight if anyone wants to help me get started on that.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You people make it look so easy

So, I know a bit of HTML... more than a bit, actually. I can customize my sidebar, I thought. No problem.


There's a reason it took me months to get around to doing that. As with most projects I innocently and confidently attempt, I ended up spending three times as long as I expected, only to achieve less-than-expected results.

Clearly I am not a rocket scientist. Or a web developer. Right now, the two seem equally unachievable.

If anyone can tell me why the hell the first item in the first list on the right is covering up its bullet, I'd be much appreciative. If you can tell me how the heck to modify or add to the text in the "About Me" box, that'd be fabulous, too. The mysterious code that lies behind that box is one I just can't seem to crack.

I'll tinker with it more later. Right now it's entirely past my bedtime. Grrr.

Edited to add:
Hmmm. From my work computer, that bullet (on "100 Things") looks fine. Maybe it's just a Firefox issue? I'm confused.

Seriously, if anyone has any advice about the "About me" box, though, let me know. Drop a note in the comments or send me an email (stefanie1874 AT yahoo DOT com). Thanks!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Rodgers & Hammerstein would not be happy about this

I can't believe I'm actually number two in this search.


Like sand through the hourglass...

I work for small company (which will remain nameless because thou shalt not blog about work), and in a small company, I think somewhat less-than-stellar benefits are likely the norm. If I want dental insurance, I pay for it myself. I have a 401k, but no one matches my contributions to it. We are provided a fridge full of soda at no cost to us, but as I rarely drink Coke without a shot of Captain mixed in, that's not all that meaningful a bonus for me.

One perk that I do quite appreciate, however, is the free health club membership. I have an all-access pass to the gym of my employer's choice, on one condition only: I have to go eight times a month.

I actually think this is a very fair rule, so it doesn't bother me one bit. Besides that, money is an excellent motivator. Some people need a workout buddy to get them to the gym. Me, I just remember that I'll have $50 docked from my paycheck if I don't drag my ass to the club, and that's all the catalyst I need.

To make sure I get my eight times in each month, I created a little note in Outlook to track my attendance. (Clearly I'm not only scattered, forgetful, and paranoid; I'm also a huge nerd as well.) Each month, I type the current month's name in the note, and then before or after each workout, I open the note and add the date to the list.

Usually, the list of dates for the month is about nine numbers long. (As with so many things in life, I do the bare minimum and maybe just a little bit more.) In a particularly ambitious month, I might have ten or eleven numbers in the list, but rarely (very rarely) have I gotten above twelve. Until March. I don't know what happened to me in March, but check out my list for the month.

Seventeen days. Seventeen. Did you count them? For those of you who are somewhat math-challenged (or who've forgotten that helpful little rhyme that reminds you how many days are in each month), let me clue you in to something. Seventeen means that in a 31-day month, I went to the gym more days than I didn't. I went enough times to warrant two employees' memberships. A lazier co-worker could have hired me as a workout surrogate. And considering I live 20+ miles from the city where both my office and my gym are located, and I therefore never ever go on weekends, I think seventeen times is particularly impressive.

On the one hand, my back fat has almost entirely vanished. No more muffin top on me. My weight, last time I stepped on the scale, was actually two pounds lower than what's indicated on my driver's license. My stomach is still annoyingly squashy, but I think maybe I need to make peace with that as a side effect of the fact that the first digit in my age is a 3, so I'm not going to focus on that right now.

On the other hand, many of these workouts occurred over the lunch hour. The elliptical trainers and treadmills I often use when I'm there at that time of day are situated directly below the TV that's tuned to NBC. Perhaps you know where I'm going with this. I started watching Days of Our Lives again.

I remember three periods in my life when I watched Days with some sort of regularity. The summer after eighth grade, I got hooked because my sister started watching. I remember how annoyed we were when we couldn't watch for weeks because the Oliver North Iran-Contra trials preempted that daytime programming slot. Eventually the start of a new school year forced me off the addiction for a while, and the following summer, I had a daily babysitting job, so I didn't get sucked back in. But a few years later, bored in my parents' house all summer yet again, I returned to the Salem lot almost daily. And then a few years after that, in college, Days was almost impossible to avoid, as the TV in nearly all my friends' dorm rooms (and the one in the TV lounge in the student union, where people crammed in over the lunch hour) was always tuned to NBC from noon to 1:00.

I haven't watched the drivel that is Days of Our Lives since I became gainfully employed in a grown-up 8-5 job over eight years ago. I certainly never expected to get sucked in again. But on the health club TVs, my choices are limited. It's ESPN, Fox News (ugh.), CNN, or NBC. Given these options (or the even less appealing choice to simply stare into space or at my fellow exercisers), I somehow found myself drawn back to Days.

I want to say that I'm not really watching; that it's just on in front of me, and I'm bored, so I glance at it from time to time. I don't even listen to the dialogue, actually; my not-iPod plays my workout music while I read the subtitles on screen. I realized recently I was kidding myself, however, the day the closed captioning was turned off and I had to make a choice: music or Days audio. People, I am not proud; I tuned my radio to Days.

Hello. My name is Stefanie, and I watch very bad TV on purpose.

At first, it was simply fun to realize how little had changed in the eight years since I'd last watched. I was amazed how many of the story lines I was able to follow immediately, because the characters were the same and the rivalries were, too. Sure, the Belle who was merely a toddler the last time I saw her is now a 20-something with an infant of her own, and the woman I knew as Adrienne has somehow morphed into an entirely different character named Bonnie, but it's remarkable how much else is unchanged. Marlena is still being brainwashed by an evil madman; it's just a madman named Alex instead of Stefano. Kate is still taking an unhealthy and manipulative interest in the lives of her sons and their girlfriends, instead of getting a useful or productive hobby of her own. Jennifer is still an annoying twit who can't think for herself or buy a clue. People are still being drugged and fathering children they don't know they have, and the reasons someone is doing the drugging are still somewhat unclear. And Sami is still alternating between being obsessed with Austin and being obsessed with Lucus, while both of them are still in love with her prettier, sweeter, but personality-deficient sister Carrie.

I actually have to thank the writers of Days for that last one, I think, because I believe it's that particular story line that's going to rid me of this habit once and for all. It's bad enough that they're drawing out the same love quadrangle for 15+ years, having us believe that there are no other men and women in the greater Salem area who might catch the eye of one of these four so they can move on and finally forget about their unrequited obsession for good. No, instead, they keep shuffling these four around, letting something almost happen, letting a decision almost be made, before something jerks them back again. It's infuriating, and I really don't need to watch it. I have enough indecision and inertia in my own life; I don't need to see it on the small screen as well.

My options, then, as I see it, are as follows. Let's pick the most appealing:
  1. Take an interest in sports, so I can stand to work out below ESPN.
  2. Become a Republican (or an imbecile), so I can tolerate Fox News.
  3. Take up stationary biking, so I can watch CNN. (Alternately, I suppose I could stick to the ellipticals but somehow just improve my eyesight so I can see the CNN TV from that position, but that's even less likely to occur.)
Hmmm. Tricky.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

100 Things

Everything you've never wanted to know about me, and so much more...

  1. Yes, Stefanie is my real name. Yes, it's really spelled with an "f."
  2. There were three Stefanies on my wing of my dorm sophomore year. Each of us spelled it differently. (I had the "f"; another one had two "ff"s; and the third one--incidentally, the bitchy one--had the regular "ph" version.)
  3. My blog's name comes from a Velvet Underground song--the only song I've ever heard that has my name in it. (Well, almost the only song.)
  4. I promise this entire list won't be name-related.
  5. I grew up one mile outside of a very small town in eastern Wisconsin. I had very few neighbors to play with and couldn't go anywhere without my parents driving me.
  6. I think that's why I value living in the city so much now, and why I'm not sure I ever want to move to the country again. Some people think it's not healthy to raise kids in the city; I think it's crueler to make them live in the middle of nowhere.
  7. I spent a semester in Scotland while in college. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
  8. I love board games. Even if I do get irrationally competitive sometimes.
  9. My favorite is Balderdash, but no one will ever play with me.
  10. I also love Catchphrase. It's much easier to find takers for that.
  11. I'm very good at Boggle, but I suck at Scrabble. People don't understand this, as though if you enjoy one letter/word game, you must enjoy all of them. I maintain that Boggle and Scrabble actually involve entirely different skills and strategies.
  12. I'm a terrible singer, and I'm very self-conscious about it. (I sing all the time, but only when I'm alone.)
  13. I'm also horribly uncoordinated. Team sports are not my thing.
  14. The first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was a children's book illustrator.
  15. I loved art (and thought I was fairly good at it) up until 12th grade, when I suddenly decided I'd never make it as an artist.
  16. I majored in English instead.
  17. I don't regret that choice, but I do still wish I'd minored in art, or at least stuck with it in some way on my own.
  18. I'm now a technical writer and editor.
  19. I still have no idea what I really want to be "when I grow up."
  20. I cannot help but be appalled by errant apostrophes and misused quotation marks on menus and commercial signage.
  21. This seems to indicate that I'm actually in the right career field already, but I still don't think it's my passion.
  22. I'm not good at maintaining a large group of casual acquaintances. Most of the time, I feel all I need are a few close friends.
  23. I worry, though, that when I make a new friend, someone else falls out of rotation. As though I can have only a finite number at any given time, like some card game where you must always hold seven cards--no more, no less.
  24. I feel like I need more alone time than most people seem to need. Sometimes I worry that I value my independence too much to ever live with or marry someone.
  25. You will never, ever hear me say, "Let's go dancing!"
  26. My favorite ice cream flavor might be mint chocolate chip. But I hate naming favorites. I like to keep my options open.
  27. My all-time favorite band might be They Might Be Giants. Or possibly Indigo Girls. Again, it's hard to commit.
  28. I think the term "alternative" has become entirely meaningless as a way to classify music.
  29. That said, most of my favorites fall into the categories generally given an "alt-" prefix (alt-rock, alt-country, alt-folk, etc.).
  30. I don't like anything artificially cherry-flavored.
  31. I'm pretty sure I can trace this to a very bad experience with some cherry-flavored liquid medicine as a child.
  32. I won the school spelling bee in sixth grade.
  33. At the subsequent regional competition, I came in seventh (I think). The word I went out on was pejorative.
  34. I know how to spell it now.
  35. I didn't hear that word again until college, when suddenly every one of my professors used it in their lectures. I was convinced they were all taunting me.
  36. I can be pretty paranoid sometimes.
  37. It bugs me when people say they "could care less" when they really mean they "couldn't care less."
  38. It also bugs me when people say "Have a good one."
  39. And when they put the toilet paper on the roll facing backwards.
  40. Apparently I'm easily annoyed by a lot of entirely inconsequential things.
  41. I think the Coca-Cola polar bears are kind of creepy.
  42. I really don't love Lucy. I don't even particularly like her much.
  43. I am not a morning person. I hate it when I can't sleep in on weekends. (And I don't understand people who think staying in bed until 8:00 is "sleeping in." It doesn't count as sleeping in until the hour is in double-digits.)
  44. Fall is my favorite time of year, though it also depresses me because it's so fleeting.
  45. I've been called "blunt" more times than I should probably be comfortable with. I'm very honest, but I could maybe try to temper it sometimes.
  46. When I start a book, I have to finish it, no matter how painful it is.
  47. The one exception that comes to mind is Atlas Shrugged. (Damn you, Ayn Rand; I'll finish that one someday!)
  48. There are few things about which I have absolutely no opinion.
  49. I have very little patience for stupid people.
  50. I really, really don't understand why George W. Bush is president.
  51. I hate horror movies. I've always been a big 'fraidy-cat.
  52. I'm terrified of ghosts or anything in the supernatural realm of creepiness.
  53. I talk very quickly. I don't know why, and I can't seem to remedy it.
  54. I've owned my own house since the summer I was 29. (Well, technically a mortgage company somewhere in Arkansas owns it, but my name is on all the very serious and grown-up paperwork.)
  55. I don't cook.
  56. On rare and special occasions, however, I do make excellent chocolate chip cookies.
  57. My bowling name is Shaniqua. (Everyone should have a bowling name.)
  58. I hate mushrooms, and I love olives. Bear that in mind if you ever order pizza with me.
  59. E-mail is my preferred mode of communication in many, many scenarios.
  60. I routinely call myself lazy, but really I'm just unmotivated and procrastination-prone. (As if that's any better.)
  61. Maybe the fact that I'm a middle child has something to do with it.
  62. When I go on vacation, the only souvenirs I generally need are photos and a refrigerator magnet from the place I visited.
  63. I'm mostly cautious and don't seek out a lot of risks or adventures.
  64. Despite that, there are few things that I would never try. I'm not as conservative as people think.
  65. If I could pick any superhero or alien power, I'd pick the ability to stop time.
  66. Though flying would be pretty cool, too.
  67. I don't embrace change well at all.
  68. I like to attempt empowering and money-saving DIY craft and home improvement projects, but they often don't really go so well.
  69. That is, unless your idea of "going well" means lots of swearing and a time investment that's double what you originally estimated.
  70. I learned to knit in a community ed. class a few years ago. So far, that hasn't involved nearly as much swearing as some of my other endeavors.
  71. I was never quite sure if I was 5' 9" or 5' 10", so when anyone asked my height, I said I was 5' 9½".
  72. Now I'm pretty sure I'm 5'9", and I fear that the shrinking that occurs in old age has actually already begun.
  73. As a general rule, I don't like fish. I do enjoy a McDonald's Filet-o-Fish every now and then, however.
  74. I am also averse to eggs, but I actually like deviled eggs.
  75. Apparently only the most disgusting version of something is the version I will eat.
  76. I can say the alphabet backwards.
  77. I taught myself during a period of insomnia several years ago.
  78. My standby drink is a Captain & Coke or a cider.
  79. I've been feeling the need to pick a new (possibly more "grown-up") standby drink, but I have no idea what it should be. I routinely ask for suggestions, but I haven't found a winner yet.
  80. I don't like beer. I tried to acquire a taste for it the summer I was 21, but I quickly decided it just wasn't going to happen.
  81. I seem to have the misguided notion that thanks to Swiffer and Tilex Daily Shower Spray, I almost never have to clean my bathroom properly.
  82. I saw Say Anything approximately 117 times between 1989 and 1996. I haven't seen it in years, but I'm confident I still have large portions of it committed to memory.
  83. I once won a trivia question at my college's TV station for being the first to identify the line "I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen."
  84. The prize was 100 photocopies at Kinko's. It was a somewhat anticlimactic victory.
  85. The first album (on vinyl) I ever purchased was Tiffany's self-titled debut.
  86. The first CD I bought was one recorded by The Innocent Men, a six-member a cappella group that's a subset of my college's all-male chorus.
  87. I'm not particularly proud of either purchase.
  88. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was Snow White.
  89. The first movie I remember seeing on a VCR was Mask.
  90. I have no idea what the first movie I saw on DVD was.
  91. I think dark chocolate is always preferable to milk chocolate. Don't even talk to me about white chocolate.
  92. I am addicted to lip balm. My usual fix is Softlips (french vanilla or strawberry sherbet flavor), though as a lip balm enthusiast, I'm always interested in trying new varieties.
  93. I oftentimes feel entirely incapable of making decisions. It's really annoying.
  94. I hate shopping. I have a hard time finding things that fit right, and I never know what to wear with what.
  95. I've been taking yoga classes for five years.
  96. I should really be more bendy by now.
  97. I could spend hours in a library or a good book store without getting bored.
  98. Ditto for Target, though I feel that's not particularly admirable.
  99. In either case, I prefer to browse alone. I feel I can take more in, and I don't have to worry about timing my "ready to go" point to coincide with someone else's.
  100. Sometimes I fantasize about selling all my stuff and moving to London.