Wednesday, January 31, 2007

4, 3, 2, 1... ElimiDATE.*

Earlier today, Liz left a comment on my blog seemingly implying that I was holding out on her--being stingy with the details about my adventures with meMarmony Search 2.0. The truth is, sadly, that I've had no particularly interesting details thus far. Wait a minute. I take that back. The fact that a friend and I recently discovered we were both in "Open Communication" with the same guy was pretty interesting... as was the profile I received for a man listing his occupation as Superhero.** Aside from those little tidbits, however, nothing too interesting to note. I haven't even met a single one of these men yet. This seems a little strange to me... maybe I'm remembering things through the same rose-colored glasses that made me re-join meMarmony in the first place, but I swear the invites came earlier and the activity was more regular the last time I played this little game.

Perhaps there's simply a three-week incubation period on dates this time around, however, because in the past few days, I have had two invitations for the standard introductory coffee-date and one suggestion that I let a guy buy me "a coffee, a Greenie, or a gyro at Holy Land." Add in the upcoming dinner with Index Card Guy, and suddenly it seems entirely feasible that I may have four dates with four different men in the same one-week span. (Again, in case it isn't clear, no, I'm not a whore. But thanks for asking.)

This is all very unique and potentially interesting, but mainly I just keep wondering how on earth I'm going to squeeze all these dates into my schedule and still have time for important things like finally replying to long-neglected e-mails and watching the many fine television programs to which I'm addicted. I need my requisite amount of sitting-around time, after all. Dating has this annoying way of cutting into that at times.

I was pondering this in a message to GG and Darren earlier today... I was telling them that four men want to meet me all at once, and suddenly it dawned on me that perhaps I really should meet them all at once. It would be like my own personal episode of ElimiDATE, and it could be an entirely amusing (and ego-boosting) experiment. (It would also save me a whole lot of time.) Of course, with my luck, the four eligible bachelors would not be clamoring for my attention and performing bizarre feats of strength to impress me in absurd ways... instead, two of them would bond over some shared appreciation for the Vikings or Nintendo Wii or the latest developments on 24 and would thereafter ignore me the rest of the night, and another one would find himself rightfully above the foolish game of competitive dating, leaving me with only the most fawning and desperate of the bunch. There was a reason I never applied to be a participant on ElimiDATE, after all, and it didn't entirely have to do with not wanting to be filmed in a bikini entering a hot tub on national TV. Still, it's an amusing idea nonetheless...

* Please tell me at least one of you got the reference in this subject line (and actually heard the guy's voice saying it in your head as you read it). I cannot be at peace thinking I am the only one who actually got sucked into the trainwreck that was ElimiDATE more than thrice.

** This is actually sort of a genius move, I think, if you're looking to give the ladies an easy lead-in to all sorts of borderline-suggestive questions... you know, like, "So what kind of outfit do you wear?" and "Do you look good in tights?" and, of course, "What sorts of special powers do you have?" Surely I wouldn't be the first woman to go down that route, however, so I wouldn't even gain any points for creativity with any of those.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What about Who now?

It's been a while since I documented any of the bizarre little scenes my subconscious cooks up while I'm asleep. In case anyone was thinking that was because I'd actually started having nothing but normal and sensical dreams, let me tell you about last night.

Last night, I dreamt I was sitting around a large, circular table on a warm sunny patio with the cast of What about Brian. We were enjoying drinks and light snacks, and I was chatting with them about how I'm the only one I know who's actually watching their show.

I told them about how excited I was when one of the Fug girls also claimed to be the only person in America who's even aware of the show and about how frustrating it is to have no one to complain to about how very annoying and vile Brian's new girlfriend is (not to mention how creepy and unsettling it is for him to be routinely having sex with someone his father "bagged" as well).

I also told the girl who used to be Felicity's roommate how strange I thought it was that the cast was culled so heavily from the WB's pool of stock actors. She just sneered at me in reply, perhaps rightfully peeved that I referred to her as "the girl who used to be Felicity's roommate" instead of by her proper name. (Which is Amanda Foreman. Happy now, Meghan? I looked it up.)

I am pretty sure I can attribute this dream to the fact that I stayed up well past my intended bedtime watching last night's episode on tape, because I was detained in small-talk with a meMarmony match during the 9:00-10:00 slot when it originally aired. I've already realized I need to put a curfew on my Internet time, because when there is no buffer between when I turn off my computer and when I head to bed, somehow bloggers and e-mail friends inevitably creep into my dreams shortly thereafter. Apparently the same holds true for TV characters as well.

Of course, the other possibility is not just that I need some buffer time between TV and bed, but that I simply need a life as well. Let's just go with the former, though, OK?

Edited to add: By the way, I swear this post was neither endorsed nor paid for by ABC. You know, just in case that somehow wasn't abundantly clear.


Monday, January 29, 2007

The worst parts of The Good Earth

I finished The Good Earth last night. My ten-words-or-less review is as follows:
Sweet Lord I'm glad I wasn't born in pre-revolution China!

I can't really list the passages I loved, because I didn't necessarily love any part of this book. I know it's a classic; I know Oprah loves it; but still, I would rank this just slightly above an "eating my vegetables" book (i.e., one I read because I think it's good for me, even though I'm not necessarily enjoying it at all)... I actually did get wrapped up in the story and the characters, and it provided a window into a place and time I know very little about. But the prose was pretty simple and straightforward, so I wasn't marveling at the beauty of any particular sentence or paragraph. Instead, my 21st century sensibilities just kept dropping my jaw at parts like these:

"When the rich are too rich there are ways, and when the poor are too poor there are ways. Last winter we sold two girls and endured, and this winter, if this one my woman bears is a girl, we will sell again. One slave I have kept--the first. The others it is better to sell than to kill, although there are those who prefer to kill them before they draw breath."

"You are a foolish child to be forever thinking of this. You have grown fond and too fond of your wife and it is not seemly, for a man ought not to care for his wife that his parents gave him above all else in the world. It is not meet for a man to love his wife with a foolish and overweening love, as though she were a harlot."

"And what if it be not a grandson but a girl!"

"Well, and if it is a grandson I will pay for a new red robe for the goddess, but nothing will I do if it is a girl!"

Sheesh. And some people think merely being the middle child is bad...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Call me

In case anyone is wondering, Index Card Guy did call, and we are currently engaged in the ever-popular game of phone tag. Apparently he adheres not to that three-day rule made maddeningly standard by the film Swingers, but to an even more casual five-day rule instead. This is all good and fine; five days is still well within the realm of acceptable follow-up time as far as I'm concerned, but in discussing the unwritten standards and usual patterns for this sort of thing with some friends this week, I got to thinking about other first phone calls in my dating life and the timeline, script, and circumstances of each. Here are five of them... the good, the bad, and the absurd.

Five memorable first (and, in some cases, last) calls from men

  1. Troy (March 1999) - Even though I just said that five days post-meeting is a perfectly reasonable time to call a woman, I still can't help feeling it is on the outer edge of acceptable, just barely on this side of "disinterested and lazy." Back in 1999, however, with much less dating experience to my name, my standards were maybe a bit looser. Had that not been the case, I am not sure I would have accepted a date from a guy who called me three months after receiving my number. If he hadn't been a friend of my sister's, I sort of doubt I would even have remembered who he was. As it turns out, it wouldn't have been a great loss. My one (two-part) date with Troy is documented here, by the way. Our one uneventful phone call is not.

  2. Jimmy (March 2001) - If Troy wins the award for most belated phone call, Jimmy without a doubt gets the award for promptest call. Something clicked between us immediately while chatting in the coat check line after a concert. Only later did he tell me that his friends had actually handed him his coat about four minutes into our conversation but that he had stayed in line all the way to the front anyway, just to keep talking to me. He called me the next day, approximately ten hours after our meeting, and left what I still think was a ridiculously sweet message [in a tone of voice that I wish I could convey properly in print], saying, "I know I just met you, like... ten hours ago, and I probably should have waited a while to call you, but... I just really wanted to call you, so, um, I hope you want to call me back..." It really is a shame that he was a pothead with a Peter Pan complex, because I still sometimes think that one should have worked out differently than it did.

  3. Brian (January 2001) - Brian was a one-date boy documented here as well, but what I didn't talk about in that post was his first phone call to me. He called me at work (since, as I mentioned last week, handing out business cards to potential suitors was at one point my norm), but when he did so, he pretended to be a recruiter who had found my resume online. Points for originality, I suppose, but frankly, it annoyed me more than it charmed me (which, now that I think about it, sort of sums up my thoughts about him after our one date as well).

  4. Kris (December 1999) - I'll admit that sometimes, when I call someone, I am hoping for voicemail. This is generally the rule when I have some quick info to convey or some sort of brief response to provide. When I'm looking to get to know someone and make plans, however, I recognize fully that it's better just to reach the person live. Kris must not have thought so, however, as his first phone call (to what he knew was my home number) came at 2:00 in the afternoon, despite the fact that he was well aware I had a day job. Apparently he wanted to toss the proverbial ball directly into my court. What he forgot was that I had a roommate who was in grad school (and therefore home at sporadic hours during the day), and that my roommate would tell me exactly what time he called and exactly how surprised and thrown off guard he was when someone actually answered the phone. I later realized that Kris was an idiot in many, many ways. I didn't even need the first phone call as a cue.

  5. What's-his-name (sometime in 1999 or 2000) - I don't remember this guy's name, and since we didn't ever go on a date, I probably needn't include him in the list. The details are still funny to me, though, so I'm including him anyway. I met this guy at a friend's bachelorette party in a city five hours from my home. I do not remember why I gave him my card except that he had given me his (and had been swapping cards with others in our group, too, seemingly for no other reason than that we were all relatively new to professional business card-toting positions and it therefore was for some reason the thing to do). He didn't call me after that event (I never expected him to), but he did call about five months later, with a line that went something like this, "I found your card in my wallet, and I see that you work in St. Paul, and I'm just trying to figure out who you are or how I know you..." He told me that he was planning to move to the Twin Cities so when he found my card he figured he'd get in touch with someone living in the area. After a few details about himself, I finally figured out who he was and how he had my card, but I didn't let on to him that I remembered. My foolish pride decided, I guess, that if I weren't worth remembering to him, he should be similarly unmemorable to me. I basically said, "Sorry, dude; I don't know why you have my card," and I never heard from him again.

You know, when I started this list, I really thought more than one of them might be a nice memory. I have been called by men I liked; really I swear I have. I guess that, as with so many dating-related tales, however, the bad ones are almost invariably more interesting.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Because there's safety in numbers and mob mentality's the way to go

First off, I need to admit that I am not the politically active and aware person that I occasionally like to think I am. Wait. Scratch that. First off, I need to tell you that I've had some wine tonight. The wine is, perhaps, the reason that I thought that opening sentence might actually be an appropriate and sensible lead-in. The only reason I brought it up, actually, was that it is currently 9:17 p.m. Central Standard Time, and it only now occurred to me that I completely forgot to watch the State of the Union address tonight. It wasn't that I realized it was on but decided I couldn't handle listening to our man/ape-hybrid of a world leader give his sixth pointless pep talk to the nation and promptly turned my TV off. No, it was because I honestly forgot it was on and neglected to tune my television to any station with a modicum of reputable news coverage of sorts. Oh well. I'm sure John Stewart's recap will be entirely more fulfilling anyway, so I will just have to watch that in its stead.

Now, for the real reason I am here. Last weekend was apparently "Buy things people on the Internet told me to buy" weekend, as, in one shopping excursion, I unexpectedly purchased the Bare Escentuals "Get Started" kit, a ridiculously expensive tube of deodorant, some Neutrogena lip gloss, Downy Simple Pleasures Vanilla and Lavender fabric softener (in liquid and sheet form because, hell, I had a "buy two, save $1 coupon", plus the Tide-with-Downy combo, because I had a coupon for that too and because apparently I thought it would be amusing in an almost eerie way to have a threesome of purple laundry products simultaneously grace the conveyor belt at the SuperTarget checkout), and three Lean Cuisine Chicken Club Paninis. (GG is right--they are tasty, but everyone else knows about them, too, and therefore they are damn-near impossible to find. They are, it would seem, the Holy Grail of frozen lunches... so much so that the Target lady, while ringing up my purchases, actually said, "These must be good; we sure do sell a lot of them.")

Anyway, so my point is that, as I've mentioned before, the people out there on the Internet seem to be affecting my thoughts and buying patterns in some way, and while it is a bit alarming in a "Come-and-drink-my-Kool-Aid" sense, it is also kind of nice, in a happy, helpful community, "it's a small world" kind of way. People love recommendations from seemingly reputable and objective sources, right? And yet, I think my own "super consumer" posts have been sporadic if at all existent. I have tips to offer, too! Maybe some of you might want to hear them?

So with that, I thought I would share with you some of the products I am currently addicted or not addicted to, as the case may be for each.

Let's start with what I had for dinner last night. If you haven't yet tried Campbell's Select Butternut Squash soup, I assure you, you are missing out. My friend Lisa may disagree, as she was disheartened, during our entire long weekend in New York, to find that the only soup she could find was pumpkin or squash soup of some sort. Apparently I actually like gourd-centric soups, so this was not a drawback in my book. That said, Campbell's Butternut Squash soup is like a perfect fall day in a bowl. It's golden and sweet and delicious, even on its own. My sister likes to float some crispy bagel chips in hers, but I've recently found an even more perfect pairing for this soup. Have you ever bought those frozen pierogies you can find in boxes in the freezer case? They come in a few different flavors, but I typically go for the cheddar and potato ones. These are basically ravioli stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese, and I'd be hard pressed to come up with a more exciting combo than that. Pasta? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Cheese? Check. Really, what more do you need? What more you need, it seems, is some butternut squash soup. What I've been doing lately is boiling a few pierogies in the microwave for five minutes, then heating the soup and dropping the pierogies right in. It's comfort food and convenience, all in one bowl of warm and starchy heaven. I heartily recommend you try it yourself one of these cold, harsh winter days.

You can get each of these items at Target (or possibly just SuperTarget), and you know what else you can get there? A whole aisle of deceivingly-healthy-looking Archer Farms snacks, in handy mid-sized, keep-in-your-desk-drawer-type bags. I first became addicted to the Honey Cashew Crunch ("They're nuts!," I thought. "It's protein!" I rationalized. Never mind that it's protein coated in a crunchy glaze of crystallized syrup and sugar that may in fact be more habit-forming than heroin), and I quickly moved on to other varieties from there. I bought the fun-sounding "Zen Party Mix" a few times, before I realized that what I liked best in there was the Asian Rice Crackers, and I could buy a whole bag of just Rice Crackers in the Archer Farms snacks aisle as well. My latest discovery, however, is the Cranberry Nut Trail Mix. It boasts cranberries, white chocolate-flavored drops (i.e., chips), almonds, and pecans, and although I am not traditionally a fan of white chocolate, this stuff was sincerely addictive nonetheless. The label says there are eleven servings in each bag, but people, I did not see eleven servings in there. That is, of course, unless my problem with restaurant math has somehow extended to all food-math as well and in my frail and addled brain, eleven is suddenly now the number that comes after three.

Since I didn't want this to be all about food, I thought perhaps I'd also give you a lip balm recommendation as well, but I think I've mentioned this stuff enough times already that I've recommended it far more than might ever be necessary. So let's consider other things in my bathroom and medicine cabinet, OK? If you are a boy (or a non-makeup-wearing girl), this will be meaningless to you, but if you ever wear mascara, I should tell you that Almay's Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover Gel might actually be worth its label of "#1 eye makeup remover brand." It goes on easily with just your fingers (no cotton balls necessary for this), and with a slide of some tissue, your mascara wipes right off. It does leave a bit of greasy film, but it doesn't burn my eyes thereafter like so many other brands have. And if you wash your face directly afterwards, your mascara (and the greasy film) will all but disappear.

Returning back to food for a moment, I thought I might shift away from the recommendations and close with an item you should not, under any circumstances, buy. Have you ever thought, "Hey, I'll buy some carrots... or maybe some cucumbers or broccoli... but I need something to dip them in, because veggies on their own are just not appealing enough to me"? If so, you have likely encountered the T. Marzetti brand of veggie dips in your grocer's produce section. I do hate to cancel out any health benefits of raw vegetables by dousing them in fats and artificial flavors, so I thought I might try the fat-free variety of T. Marzetti's Ranch-style dip. I am here to help, so I urge you, please don't make this same mistake. I have had the full-fat and the low-fat variety of this dip, and they were tasty and quite palatable, respectively. The fat-free version, however? Stay away from that. I should have known, when I opened it and saw the disturbing color and texture, that it was not something worth investigating further. The gray, cloudy sheen was not unlike swamp water, which is presumably also fat free but which I also would not ever eat by choice. Consider this your public service message for the day. T. Marzetti's Fat-Free dip. Just say no, OK?

And that about wraps up my super-consumer post for this evening. I do enjoy this trend, so feel free to leave your own recommendations in reply. In particular, I'm in the market for a new mascara. Obviously I've already got the goo to remove it, but tell me, what brand and variety should I be removing? (My apologies to my five male readers out there for steering things in this direction. If you want to talk about your favorite video game or the best variety of Ace or Tag deodorant spray, by all means have at that as well.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sparty on

I have a story that I think warrants telling, but my attempts to craft some clever intro to lead into it are falling pretty flat. So I will just jump right in and say that what I want to talk about is what I did Friday night, and what I did Friday night was go to a Singles Party.

Maybe that doesn't actually sound as absurd as I think it does. Maybe you aren't actually scrunching your eyebrows into your Confused face and wondering if I've lost my mind. Maybe to you (or to a previously single version of you), a Singles Party sounds like an excellent idea. I'll admit it sounded like a pretty reasonable idea to me... Or, it did when I got the widely distributed Evite announcing the event, an Evite that didn't just call it a Singles-Only Party, but used the more clever hybrid term Sparty.

A Sparty sounds just quirky and offbeat enough to be fun, I thought. A Singles Party sounds like something from another decade. I mean, do we really use the word Singles anymore? Maybe we do, but do we put the word Party behind it? Doesn't that combination of words just beg to have the word Swingin' inserted in front as well? To me, the phrase Singles Party calls up a weird 1970s vibe. It sounds like something Mary and Rhoda would have gone to and had some amusing misadventure at. It would have been Rhoda's idea to go, of course, but all the polyester suit-wearing guys with thick, bushy hair would have clamored for Mary's attention instead.

I honestly have no idea who's the Mary or the Rhoda in our group, but four of us joined up on Friday to check out the Sparty nonetheless. We were intrigued and trying to be optimistic, but our sense of humor was in check. At the very least, we would have an interesting Girls Night Out. Plus, the drinks were cheap. It's hard to beat $2 gin and tonics, so that alone seemed to make it worth the trip.

The Sparty was held at a downtown club I'd never been to before but which, in a former life with a different name, was one of the most prominent meat markets for 21-year-olds in backless tops and micro-minis. It may actually still be the place for 21-year-olds in micro-minis, but the 21-year-olds don't come out to scope and grope until after 10:00, I think. The Sparty started a bit earlier than that, which means when we walked into the club, the only portion of it that was widely populated was the penned-off raised area in the corner prominently labeled "SPARTY: Singles Party." I know that corralling the party was necessary to differentiate participants from non-, but I couldn't help thinking we were being quarantined from the rest of the bar simply because, as Bridget Jones noted, underneath our clothes, we Singletons are covered with scales.

Once we got over our initial hesitance and edged our way into the crowd, it really wasn't that absurd or humiliating, but there was definitely a weird dynamic nonetheless. I won't go so far as to say it was like locking a bunch of foxes in a hen house, but I was very aware that everyone surrounding me had one supposed thing in common, and that was that we all had a large "S" on our forehead advertising ourselves as single and accepting offers.

I can't say that the crop of potential dates was so appealing overall, but it wasn't a total bust, at least. In addition to enjoying the cheap drinks, I did give my number to a seemingly nice (and tall--6'5"!) guy who I wouldn't be opposed to going on a date with to investigate whether any potential is there. In my early 20s, I typically made sure I had a few business cards with me when I hit the bars on weekends. I treated them like the calling cards ladies in Jane Austen's day used to provide contact information to potential suitors. Since then, men have taken to plugging womens' digits into their cell phones, but apparently Tall Guy hasn't gotten the memo yet about that. Perhaps it's because he's a bit older than me (39); he's not aware of this semi-new trend. Instead, he pulled a blank index card and a pen out of his pocket to make note of my name and number. "I came prepared!" he replied, when I asked if he had any number-noting tools. The index card was not suave enough to be smarmy, and just dorky enough to be endearing, so I'm not going to fault him for this at all. And in case you're wondering, yes, I did check to see if the index card was still blank when he pulled it out. I did not, I just realized, consider the fact that he might have had several additional cards still tucked within his pocket. Live and learn, I guess.

Eventually, a loud band started playing old Bon Jovi covers, and we figured that was our cue to leave. We had one more drink in a more conventional bar in the area and then finished the night with a slice at Pizza Lucé. Frankly, a slice at Pizza Lucé is such a perfect way to end any evening that it can all but erase any bad times and ugliness that came before. I have a feeling at least one of my Sparty-going friends wishes we had just fast-forwarded to the pizza part immediately, but all in all, I'd say it was a successful Girls Night nonetheless.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Let's pretend it's February and call it Sweeps Week, 'cause here's a Friday Fourteen

Wow. You guys really came through on the questions this time. Thank you all for saving my poor topic-less self today. And saving I apparently need, because let me tell you just how lame I am. 3Carnations came through right away with five questions for me, but I decided to wait for ten more and make it a Friday Fifteen instead. (I am all about the alliteration, it seems. Friday Nine just wouldn't have worked.) At thirteen, I was starting to think I might need to make up two more questions to ask myself, but when number fourteen came in (with a question from L Sass) it finally occurred to me to realize, "Um, fourteen starts with F as well. I could just stop right here." I'm quick, you know. Rhodes Scholars clearly have nothin' on me.

Anyway, here you are: the answers to all your burning questions. Or, more likely, the answers to the questions you've actually never wondered about before but asked just to humor me and appease my lame plea. Either way works for me. Away we go.

1. What is the most shallow reason you ever didn't want to date a particular guy?
I am pretty sure "his looks" is the only answer I can come up with here. I am remembering in particular the guy I referred to as "Jody," because of his uncanny resemblance to Johnny Whitaker, who played one half of the twin-team "Buffy and Jody" on TV's Family Affair. Jody (whose real name was Russ, actually) was very nice and smart and seemed to like me a great deal, but I can't just will chemistry to happen. Attraction can grow, yes, if important other attributes are there. With him, though, I just didn't see it happening.

2. Have you ever had to almost literally bite your tongue to keep from correcting somone's terrible grammar faux-pas?
Come on, of course not. What kind of nit-picky grammar geek do you think I am? Oh. Right. This is me you're talking to. OK, fine. Maybe once or twice. Three times, tops. Um, I'm just going to move along to the next question now, all right?

3. What's the worst thing you've ever done/said to get out of a date?
Well, with "Jody," I told him I was just really busy with work for the next few months. It was sort of true, really; I was traveling a lot at the time and was home only a few days a week. Still, he wouldn't have been out of line to give me a disappointed, disbelieving look and say, as Lloyd Dobler did, "So, you're... monumentally busy?" The truth is, if I'd wanted to see him again, I could have found the time. I was just too lame to tell him that.

As I was typing that, though, I realized that is not actually the worst thing I have ever done to avoid a date. Probably worse was the time I agreed to have drinks with a guy I met on a canoe trip, who was going to be in the Twin Cities visiting his sister for the weekend. Initially, he seemed nice, but after a few more phone calls, I got more and more creeped out and annoyed by him, and when the night of the date came and he still hadn't confirmed any definite meeting plans (place and time and such), I left to go shopping so I would deliberately miss his call. I know. Bad. But wait. It gets worse. He finally did call, when he got into town, and he left a message on my machine rightfully wondering where I was and what happened to our plans. At that point, I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to call the local number he had given me. No, I called his home number, back in Milwaukee, where I knew he would not answer, and I left a half-assed apology and wholly improbable excuse as to my whereabouts. I'm not proud. Don't hate me. Moving on, OK?...

4. What is the last movie you saw (theater or DVD)?
The last movie I saw in the theater was The Holiday, right before Christmas. Last one on DVD was Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Or maybe it was Kids. I had both from Netflix last weekend, and I don't really remember which I watched first.

5. What is your absolute favorite food?
This is way too hard to narrow down without any sort of category or qualifications. I refer you to question 6, which lists several favorite foods.

6. What would your last meal be, if you were allowed to choose? And if you were allowed a dining companion for that meal, anyone living or dead, who would you choose?
I'm assuming you mean this is my last meal because I'm going to be prematurely put to death, right? Not just that I'm old and gray and it's my natural time to go? Because if it's the latter, I'm guessing I'll be toothless and have weak, old taste buds, so some strawberry Jello will likely suffice. If it's the former, I would like to know what I did that resulted in my death sentence, but then I would like some combination of the following: mashed potatoes (definitely mashed potatoes), pasta, pizza (preferably the Siciliana from Pizza Nea in Minneapolis), cheesecake, fudge brownies, and wine. Mustn't forget the wine.

As for who my companion would be? Oh, I don't know. I suppose whoever is my best friend or partner at the time. Or maybe Jon Stewart or David Sedaris, because it'd be best to go out laughing.

7. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I ever remember really wanting to be was a children's book illustrator. Oddly enough, I came back to that and thought that's what I wanted to be when I graduated high school and went off to college, too. And then I decided I would never make it as an artist and didn't take even a single art class (aside from Art History, as a general education course) while in college. Go figure.

8. Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
For some reason, I often dream that I'm in high school or college and can't remember my schedule, so I keep ending up late to class or in the wrong class or in class with the wrong book or notebook. I also frequently dream I've forgotten my locker combination, which is weird because for some inexplicable reason my brain actually has retained that number sequence.

9. Is there one specific personality trait that you wish you could adopt?
I sometimes wish I were more of a risk-taker and a more frequent adventure-seeker. I also could stand to deal with change a lot better than I do.

10. If someone was going to give you a whopping gift certificate, what store would you want it to be to?
Easy. Target. They have everything, after all. Or wait. Amazon. They have even more "everything"! Ooh! Or Everything, but cheaper, so, more stuff for the money. Decisions, decisions.

11. If you could change one thing about your house, what would it be?
Just one? I'd redo my bathroom. Every element in it seems to be falling apart day by day, and I have this terrible fear that so much water has creeped into the walls through the cracks in the sub-par fake shower tile that the whole stall is going to give way and fall into the basement some day and I'll end up standing naked in my furnace room, wet and covered in plaster. (I have mentioned my overactive imagination before, right? Oh good. I thought so.)

If I could pick more than one thing, I'd request more closet space. Particularly on the ground floor. Do you know I have only one closet on my main level? That's just wrong, I say. I don't know what they were thinking in the '50s.

12. What is your favorite alcoholic drink?
Lately I've been on a gin and tonic kick (I started drinking those when I decided I had outgrown my previous standby drink, Captain and Coke). I am also, however, partial to White Russians, Cosmopolitans, Vodka and Cranberry, and of course wine. Usually red.

13. What is your ideal cake/frosting combo?
Chocolate on chocolate, of course. Runners-up would be yellow cake with chocolate frosting, followed by carrot cake (or, hell, any cake) with cream cheese frosting. Mmmm... cream cheese frosting. Maybe I should reconsider and bump that up to first place.

14. What is your favorite bar in Minneapolis?
L Sass is looking for some ideas for when she's home visiting the 'rents. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much I can help, as I suspect that if she's from here, she already knows about any place I might suggest. I am actually trying to discover just where the 30-somethings in my town go myself. The places I went in my 20s are not so appealing anymore, and I don't know where the people my age are hiding out. My guess is "at home in the suburbs with their kids," which does not really help me a whole lot. Anyway, my answer... I do still like Nye's on occasion (it is, after all, the Best Bar in America, according to Esquire), and I've already decided that Psycho Suzi's (with its tiki drinks and all-season cheese curds and fake wood-printed carpet) will be the official place-to-take-visiting-bloggers (should any visiting bloggers actually ever venture to the frigid north). So there are two suggestions. Do with them what you will.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks again for playing along, everyone (and for helping me avoid a default on today's Friday Five). What I should have done, of course, was ask for topics for Friday Fives from each of you! But if you have topics to spare, you likely want them for your own blog, so that would be just plain selfish, wouldn't it?

Friday Five: I got nothin'. How about you?

I thought about skipping my Friday Five this week because, frankly, I just don't have a good topic idea today. Not that I am convinced all my other ideas were so good, mind you, but today I don't even feel inspired enough for a lame one. I shall blame it on the fact that my head is in a stuffed-up fog due to the cold I managed to pick up (which, in turn, I blame on my own dumb self for arrogantly stating, "I have not been sick at all yet this year!" more than two times right out loud).

Anyway, rather than tarnishing my perfect record of 29 consecutive weeks of fives (Really! I just counted! Can you believe I've been doing this for 29 weeks already? I can't.), I thought I would steal the idea 3Carnations used for her Thursday Thirteen yesterday and do a Q&A Friday Five.

Yes, yes, I know I already did a Q&A a few months ago (a two-part one, no less), and there's been a resurgence of this form elsewhere lately as well. I don't care. Head fog, remember? You can't possibly expect creative and unique ideas from me in this state.

So. My Friday Five is up to you folks today. Ask me something. Anything. The top five things you don't know about me but want to. (Or the top one thing, as my hope is that four more people will come along with a question shortly after you.) I will answer the first five I receive or the first five that amuse me in some way. Just kidding. I'll probably answer damn-near anything, and if you ask me more than five, I'll just file them for a later post. Sound OK? Thanks.

And... go!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Quick question

Say you just bought a new canister of Hills Bros. French Vanilla flavored instant cappuccino drink mix, which you like to keep in your desk to fulfill your morning cravings for sweet, hot beverages at a fraction of the price of (and without the added drive to) Starbucks or Caribou or a less-well-known local brew shop.

Say that when you lifted the plastic lid off the canister, you saw that the edge of the foil safety seal was bent back, leaving about a quarter inch of open and easy access to the powdered mix inside.

Would you...

A. Toss the entire canister and settle for a cup of the green tea that the company president keeps stashed in the kitchen instead? (Note that while green tea is undoubtedly a much healthier choice than instant cappuccino, it is also wholly revolting.)

B. Set the canister aside, fully intending to dig up the receipt and take it back to Target to exchange for a new canister with safety seal intact?


C. Figure, "Eh. I'm sure it's fine" and make your syrupy fake coffee beverage as planned?

Keep in mind when answering that, (1. I purchased this canister at a clean and quiet Target store in a virtually crime-free Midwest suburb, and not in a shady corner mini-mart in Queens, and (2. The foil was bent back firmly and evenly, as if stamped improperly by the machine that was supposed to seal it, not peeled back manually by some meddling miscreant.

If you don't hear from me again, you'll know I chose wrong.

And yes, by the way, I know that [even when properly sealed], this stuff can likely kill me (what with being chock full of preservatives and partially hydrogenated oils and so forth). I just hope it doesn't do so today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The best parts of Why Moms Are Weird

A couple weeks ago, Maliavale posted her Year in Books, complete with the passages she loved in each. I've seen this format elsewhere, too, and it makes me realize that I'd like to keep better tabs on not just what I've read, but what I liked about it as well. (Assuming, of course, that I liked something about it. I'm sorry, Neil, but if I'd cooked up this plan around this time last year, you'd have gotten no love from me.)

I would also like to do something clever like M. Kennedy does with her reviews-in-five-words-or-less. But we all know I'm a habitually verbose and rambly gal, so five words is likely never going to be enough for me. My less-than-ten-word synopsis of Pamela Ribon's Why Moms Are Weird, however? That would go something like this:

Not as hilarious as Girls, but amused me nonetheless.

Here are a few passages I loved. You know, in case you might love them too.

In the end, he didn't miss me enough. He didn't say that, not exactly. But that's what it means. I thought he needed me more than he did. I don't know where he is now. I don't even look him up, even in my most depressing moments in the middle of the night when I'm drunk and alone with the Internet. I failed at making someone love me like I loved him, and I don't need a reminder that life goes on for other people. I don't want to think of anyone surviving me.

* * * *

Jane sits up and claps her hands, bouncing in her seat. "Let's make a list!"
"No, Jane. We aren't making a list."
She pouts. "Lists are important. We'll find out if you love him."

* * * *

There is a difference between a house that's gone a little messy and cluttered and this. My mother's house looks like the inside of a disturbed mind. This is beyond unsettling.

My mother is a woman who used to walk around her house Saturday mornings with gym socks on her hands, dusting every wooden surface. Her idea of a relaxing day was settling down with a good junk drawer and getting it inventoried.

* * * *

My spoon is stuck in my hardened oatmeal, but I've liquefied. If Zack wanted to, he could drag a finger down my arm and leave a mark, forever, on my body.

* * * *

This feeling I have, this yearning and sorrow, this is the exact feeling I don't want to call love. Because if it is? Why the hell do we do this? This doesn't make any sense.

Why has evolution let us down? Thousands of years ago if something was dangerous to our bodies, we'd find a way to change our instincts, our bodies, our language, to keep each other and ourselves safe. We stand upright. We have thumbs. We have eyelashes and eyebrows. Human beings change their internal and external structure to shelter themselves from harm. So why do we still let ourselves feel this misery?

I am constantly nauseated. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I am aging years by the second. This isn't love. This is serious illness. This is when I should see a doctor. Or, at the very least, a therapist.

* * * *

I considered also typing out the entire chapter titled Decisions (it's only a single page), because it documents basically the exact same thought process I agonize over myself every time the airport counter lady asks, "Window or aisle?" But it is a whole page (and a whole chapter, after all), so I probably shouldn't do it. If you read this book, however, when you get to that part, feel free to think of me and think, "Oh. So that's what it's like to be inside Stefanie's brain? Man, that's sort of exhausting..."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Rollin' with my homies*

I know you're probably all anxious to hear about my exciting roller skating adventures, but first, I have a little housekeeping matter to grumble about a bit. Could someone please tell me how all the rest of you with Blogger accounts managed to switch over to the new version with seemingly no issue at all, but when I finally sucked it up and made the change myself, Blogger decided to turn half of your comments into "Anonymous" ones? We all know I fear change, so I ignored all those "Come on over to the new version! It's a party! All the cool people are here, and we're serving up drinks and snacks!" messages and stuck to the old version for weeks. I finally figure it's safe to hop over, and Blogger does me wrong like that? I am not pleased.

If anyone has any tips as to what I might have done to create this small yet annoying conundrum, please do fill me in. I suspect that it is not my fault, but given my lapses in tech savviness of late, I cannot be too sure. Case in point? I finally got on the ball and got myself a Bloglines account today (you know--so I can keep better track of all the clever and interesting things you're all saying in presumably a more timely manner). I managed to get all my favorite folks in my list, despite having no idea which feed to pick when presented with three or more similar options (RSS? Atom? What the hell is the difference, I ask? I went with the very scientific method of choosing the one with the largest number of existing subscribers, because, you know, when in doubt, mob mentality's the way to go). But when I went to log in again later, I actually sat in front of my computer, mind-blank, thinking, "What was that site again?" People, I forgot the word "Bloglines." There is no hope for me.

So now I am cranky and more annoyed than I should be (perspective is not always a strong suit of mine either, it seems), but luckily I know how to lift myself out of that annoyance, and that is by talking about roller skating. As I told a few people last week, I have not been roller skating in at least 13 years (and probably have been only two times total in the last 20 years), but yet, I was ridiculously excited about my Friday night plans, because I was operating on the theory that roller skating always = fun, no matter what the age or year or situation.

Friends, I am happy to report that my theory held true. I can't speak for any of my companions, but I know that I had a blast. There was skating, yes (in the same tan skates with brown laces and orange wheels and stoppers that I grew up with at Big Wheel Skate Center in Sheboygan**). But in addition to the skating, there was Skee-Ball and Pop-a-Shot with tickets redeemable for prizes. There was also a snack counter with nachos and slushies and a DJ propped up in a high, carpeted-wall booth. There was even a Chicken-lays-an-egg machine, the likes of which I haven't seen since the days my sisters and I traipsed to the ABC Grocer near my grandma's house on weekends when my parents were away. In short, I was on nostalgia overload, and I loved every minute of it.

I am happy to report that I did not fall once. I am less happy to report that the aforementioned DJ did not play Beat it, nor did he play the Ghostbusters theme or that other song -R- was pulling for last week. In other words, the music pretty much sucked ("Old School and Funk" apparently means heavy on the "Funk," not-so-much on the "Old School"). In addition, there were creepy loner guys a-plenty, so for any of you hoping I'd find an interesting couple-skate partner, I have to disappoint you by saying that I pretty much avoided eye contact with all single-looking men on the floor. In an e-mail last week, The Magical Boy warned me that if I see any slightly burly and shady-looking blond women, I should get the hell out of there. I'll have to tell him that wife-beater-wearing, slicked-back-hair-sporting guys were a much bigger concern for me, but I avoided them nonetheless. Frankly, creepy, greasy guys are actually a pretty familiar aspect of roller skating that I'd somehow all but forgotten about, so I'll chalk that up to nostalgia as well and take no bad memories from it nonetheless.

Anyway, you asked for photos, and I do aim to please, so here are a few pictures from the evening...

Here -R- and I are, getting ready to hit the rink...

R and me

And here's -R- and the Incredible H, looking adorable as usual...

R and H

Incidentally, -H- has a real name, and it does not even start with the letter "H," and yet, I cannot help calling him "H" in person nonetheless. It's a drawback of web aliases, I have to say. He'll just have to deal with it, I think.

Here are some of my friends skating, proving that roller skating really is like riding a bicycle, i.e., you never quite forget how to do it...

Jamie and Lisa


Go Carrie

I got very few pictures of myself in action, what with being in control of only my own camera and all. I have to say I'm impressed I didn't drop and roll over the damn thing, pulling it out of my pocket repeatedly throughout the night. In any case, here are my feet on skates, the only photo-evidence I have of my being out there and upright on the rink.

my feet

Here I am playing Skee-Ball, however, in case that's a consolation of any sort.

Skee-ball... check out that form

This is apparently the face I make when I'm disturbed that the newfangled balls are made of plastic instead of wood.

Plastic? WTF?

And this is the face I make when I retrieve my tickets from the machine after a reasonably admirable showing in the game.


My ticket-gaining was nothing, however, in comparison to Lisa and Ryan's efforts at Pop-a-Shot...

They took home a Whoopie Cushion and several stickers and temporary tattoos. I traded my tickets for a blue, irridescent dinosaur who's currently monitoring my, er, monitor...

Grrrr well as a shiny ring that was, unfortunately, so uncomfortable that I've already misplaced the damn thing somehow. It matched the one Jamie cashed in her tickets for, however, so we had a "Wonder Twin Powers Activate" moment to commemorate the whole event:

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate

-R- and -H- are Wonder Twins as well, though they went the less girly and shiny route and chose creepy black spider rings instead. (I didn't get a close-up, so you'll just have to trust me on the details in both cases.)

Spidey powers, activate

And that about wraps things up, I think. I hope your weekend involved bad oldies and plastic spiders and chicken vending machines as well, but if you weren't so lucky, I hope you had a fine time nonetheless.



* I know, I know: that subject line was cheap and predictable, but what would you have titled this one? "Roll with it, baby"? "Roll on"? "On a Roll"? Frankly, this is just one of those times where the cliched and predictable subject lines are the only ones coming to mind.

** I mean same as in same style, but frankly, they were quite likely the same exact skates that have been on the shelves since 1984 as well, given the amount of wear the poor skates showed.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Five: Kickin' it Old School

OK, so... given the comments on that last post (and on the follow-up -R- posted on her own blog), I am guessing I am not the only one for whom kickball brings up childhood scars and social traumas. Again, this is what I love about the Internet: kindred spirits all around.

Know what I have virtually no bad memories of, however? Roller-skating. OK, well, there was that time when I decided to organize a skating party at an age when it was entirely not-too-acceptable to do so, but even that turned out surprisingly well, considering the circumstances, I think. And sure, my first memory of a guy I didn't know showing some smidge of interest in me in some way was a greasy, slightly scary, much-older (he was probably 15; I was maybe 12) guy in a Def Leppard t-shirt asking me to couple-skate with him at the Big Wheel in Sheboygan. Other than that, though, pretty much good memories all around.

It is with this fond view of the past that some friends and I have decided to go roller-skating tonight. I had no idea there was an area rink that had skate times specifically slotted for nostalgic full-fledged grown-ups like ourselves, but what do you know--there is. From 8:30-11:00 on Friday nights, the rink is reserved for those 25 and up, and the music piped in is of the "Old school and funk" variety. I am totally holding out for Beat it, and I truly hope the rink-side DJ doesn't disappoint. -R- and her man -H- are actually meeting me and a few others from my crew there, and I am very much hoping a good time will be had by all.

I am a little nervous that roller-skating will not be quite as fun as I remember. Lots of things aren't, after all. Memory clouds reality, and things that seemed ever-so-cool in childhood somehow just don't hold up years later.

Here are just a few examples... Five things that aren't nearly as great as I remember:

  1. Punky Brewster. I actually added the full first season to my Netflix queue after some Punky Brewster-related talk filled the blog neighborhood a while back. A few days later, I saw a Soleil Moon Frye feature on E! that featured clips from the show and quickly realized, "Um, there's really no sense wasting my four rentals a month on that." Punky and Cherie and Margeaux were all fine when I was ten, but nowadays? Not so much.

  2. Snowdays. Not that we've had much snow yet this year, but memories of last year haunt me nonetheless.

  3. Staying up until dawn. This was fun at slumber parties back in junior high, and maybe even on select intense-conversation-filled nights back in college. Now, though? It messes up my sleep schedule for the next two days, and it really isn't worth it, in most cases.

  4. The game Payday. My sisters and I used to play this all the time, but the last time we pulled it out (last Christmas, at my parents' house), it just didn't have the same draw. Were there always so many rules?? Was it always quite so tedious? It is amusing, I'll admit, to draw the dreaded card reading "Daughter's wedding: Pay $800" and laugh at what a bargain that would be. Beyond that, though? I have no use for the game anymore.

  5. Pixie Stix. I'll take my flavor-laced sugar around the rims of martini glasses these days, thank you. In pure form, I will pass, I think.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

This is not about kickball, but I suppose it still involves balls, if we want to get all inappropriate, anyway

A few years ago, two very dear friends of mine got married, and as part of the wedding weekend festivities, they planned a Bride's-side vs. Groom's-side kickball game. They sent out a card a few weeks before the wedding, inviting family and close friends to participate. The front of the card featured a black-and-white vintage-looking drawing of a young woman kicking a ball, and floating above her was the the headline, "Know what's missing from most weddings?" The answer was printed on the inside. It said, simply, "Kickball."

At the time, I thought, "Awesome! What a fabulous idea! How fun will that be?!" It took until about five minutes into the game for me to remember something very important that probably should have occurred to me much earlier. Kickball is an organized sport. Never, under no circumstance, do I ever consider organized sports fun. It doesn't matter how many times people say, "Don't worry about it! You're among friends! It's just for fun!" I am tremendously uncoordinated and athletically under-confident, and even "Oh, it's just for fun!" games make me a ball of paranoid, nervously displaced energy. I do not do organized sports. End of story. That is all. And yet, I was lured and romanced into the whimsical idea of wedding-weekend kickball and actually thought, for more than just a brief moment, that I could overcome 30 years of being kinesthetically challenged and somehow enjoy a game like that. Ha. My team won, sure, but that had everything to do with my fellow teammates and nothing to do with me. My big contribution was getting pegged in the head with the ball by the bride's father, something that apparently remains a fun family anecdote to this day. Glad to be of service, I suppose.

I bring this up not because I want to talk some more about my athletic shortcomings, but because that story kind of sums up how I feel about my recent decision to put myself back in the matching database at meMarmony.

Yes, yes, I know. Don't even start with me. Guinness Girl wrote me a Match profile for a reason, and that reason was to get me on some other site instead of taking the easy way out and playing the ridiculous "guided communication" game with the trolls and the boring guys on meMarmony again. But see now, here's the thing. I actually sort of like that whole back-and-forth, ease-into-it-gradually meMarmony process. Some of you may not understand that, but some of you also like mushrooms on your pizza, so clearly this is not the only thing on which we don't see eye to eye.

meMarmony appeals to the lazy side of me (the side that wins out in probably nine out of ten scenarios in my life). With meMarmony, I'm not sitting there wading through pages and pages of profiles, then tweaking my search criteria to see how the results differ, trying to find someone worthy of contacting and then figuring out what to say in an e-mail to sound all clever and witty and interesting. That all takes time... time I'd apparently much rather spend reading blogs and knitting afghans and watching bad TV. So instead, I let the people at meMarmony be my personal shoppers, presenting me with a few matches at a time, as if to say, "What about these guys? Do you like any of these?" If not, I click that handy "Close" button and make them go away. If so, I have a few rounds of cursory Q&As and what-not before I actually have to think of something freeform to say.

I guess I've also gotten sucked into the mystery of the limited-access meMarmony database. Unlike Match and other sites, I can't see everyone who's out there before I sign on and pay for membership. Somehow there's always this hope that the smart, dreamy, hilarious guy who's meant for me is hidden somewhere in that database and will be delivered to me by surprise when I open my e-mail some day. Unfortunately, mystery and surprises are not always good. Sometimes, the contestants on "Let's Make a Deal" found a new car behind Door #3, but just as often it was a goat or a rusty tire iron as well. In this respect, meMarmony is no different from Match. There are a whole lot of rusty tire irons out there, so seeing four of them at a time rather than forty really isn't any less disheartening, I suppose.

It's probably not a good sign that I'm feeling so pessimistic a mere 49 hours after signing on to Dr. Warren's services again, but considering the crop of matches I've received thus far, I do think it is justified. I'll admit, though, that it's not just the matches that have me feeling a bit dejected. It's the lack of communication as well. I am trying to keep an open mind here, to not close a match immediately because he is geographically undesirable or isn't six feet tall or included "reruns of The Rockford Files" among the list of five things he can't live without. But with my last run on meMarmony, a good percentage of those "meh" guys clicked that "Start Communication" button and contacted me anyway. This time, not the case. Of the 19 matches Dr. Warren has sent me thus far, I have closed only three of them, and of those remaining 16, only one has clicked that button to say I might be worth getting to know. That one is cute and possibly interesting, but he's also 5'7" (Five-foot-seven! Could I really get used to that?) and lives in an area of the metro that I try to avoid at all costs, as going there makes me want to veer my car off into the median or ram it straight into a guard rail just to end the madness and suffering. Yet, he is the only one interested in me? I'll admit, my ego is a bit bruised.

I did make some changes to my profile before reposting it this week. My photos were a bit old, so despite the fact that three separate men referred the version of me in those pictures as "striking," I still thought it best to replace them with newer pics. My hair's a bit longer now; I've got new glasses; it seems only right to present a more accurate representation, I suppose. But is this me...

Really so much more hideous than this me... to account for the difference in response? It's hard for me to be objective about this, so I'll leave it for you to judge, I suppose.

If I can't blame the photos, then the problem is my text, of course, as I made a few changes there as well. I thought I was adding some more personality, tweaking answers to give a bit more insight into who I am and what I like. But what I like includes NPR and public libraries, so I mentioned both of those. I claim to be embracing my nerdery, after all, and how better to attract a fellow nerd than to out myself as one as well? I fear this plan has backfired, however. Clearly the men of the Twin Cities aren't ready for a woman with a girl-crush on Sarah Vowell*. And maybe it's best not to mention that the thing supposedly "only my best friends know about me" is that I'm entirely more bothered than I should be by spelling errors and misused apostrophes on menus and commercial signage.**

It's all a crapshoot, I suppose. That seems to be my motto the past year. That diamond-in-the-rough could be hiding anywhere, regardless of where exactly I'm posting or just what my profile says. I promised you some stories, however, so for your entertainment, if nothing else, I hope the tide starts turning soon.


* I didn't actually use the phrase "girl crush," but I did call her my "nerd hero."

** Before you go criticizing this one, I'd like to note that I had this answer during Round 1 of meMarmony as well, and I got plenty of responses nonetheless.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Check out my mad skillz

I know I've been light on the stories and heavy on the lists and assorted what-not lately. Fear not. As of this afternoon, I am officially back on the online dating market, which means I'm sure I'll have plenty of pathetic tales about awkward social encounters and improperly punctuated e-mail messages soon enough. Meanwhile, I thought I would pretend for just a minute that I am a domestic type girl with the traditionally valued lady-like skills and that this blog is aimed at showcasing my handiwork.

Really I just need to show more than the four people who've seen it already the lovely afghan that I finally (finally, finally) finished... a mere four months after the wedding for which it is a gift. Check it out. I made this. Out of two sticks and a whole lot of yarn. Aren't you impressed? Oh, come on. Humor me. That sucker took ages to make. (You can click for larger, by the way. If I'm going to subject the Internet to my braggery, you might as well see the focus of my bragging in detail.)

And while I'm pretending to be Martha Stewart, I thought I would tell you all that I used my oven tonight. No, really! And not even for a Freschetta pizza or the frozen egg rolls and cream cheese puffs of which I am recently so fond. No, I made what I'd quite possibly consider a real and proper meal, using fresh, antibiotic-free chicken and something actually resembling a full-fledged recipe. OK, so the mashed potatoes are from a box and the photo looks like some weird steaming turd next to a blob of white, but I assure you, my pesto chicken roll was quite tasty.

The recipe, by the way, came from Metalia, who read Resolution #2 in my New Year's post and decided to try to help out my laughable, non-cooking self by sending me a few quick and easy meal ideas. I've said it before and I'll say it again: sweet Lord I love the Internet. Where else would I find strangers willing to provide landscape designs for my yard, pimp for dates for me, send me cool music, and make sure I'm eating properly? My, but you people are helpful and awesome. You are the proverbial bomb.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Five, or The Strange Ways My Brain Proves to be a Sponge

I often marvel at the incredible network of witty and clever and helpful people I've found through the wonder that is the blog neighborhood. Although I don't know most of you in what we call "real life," it's funny the ways you creep into my daily consciousness nonetheless. Case(s) in point?

Five things I would never think or do, if not for the Internets

  1. It would never occur to me to wonder, when opening the oven door, if the rush of heat blasting at me could actually melt my glasses.

  2. I would never see a cryptic personalized license plate and think, "BYMKRS? What the hell does that mean? I wonder if Malia would know." (In case you're curious, she didn't.)

  3. I would never even consider spending $10 on a single tube of deodorant.* (Tube? I would not even use the word "tube" alongside "deodorant"!) Instead, I am not only considering it, but am annoyed that I was at one of the only three stores in the Twin Cities that carries it and I forgot to pick some up.

  4. I would never search four different grocery stores for a raved-about Lean Cuisine I'd not yet tried.**

  5. I would not, when trying to resist the urge to snack, touch my hand to my flabby midsection and chant, "Nothing ever tastes as good as being skinny feels."***

So what about the rest of you? Surely I'm not alone with things like this. Tell me, what has a blog made you do?


* Gah! Temporarily unavailable? Guinness Girl and Maliavale, you must be spreading the word like mad!

** I finally found that damn panini, and GG's right: it is tasty. Mainly what amused me, though, were the unusually complicated (for a frozen meal) cooking instructions, and the enthusiastic use within those instructions of the all-capitalized term "REVOLUTIONARY GRILLING TRAY!" (to describe a silver-lined circular piece of cardboard... revolutionary indeed).

*** Nabbs, I'm sure this was you, but I can't find the post in your archives. You had no idea you'd given me a personal mantra, did you?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This is my favorite search engine hit in weeks

And it even coordinates nicely with the related hits featured in my sidebar right now.

I would rather be making out with stefanie than searching the internet

Thank you, presumed stranger in Owings Mills, Maryland. Thank you very much for that.

Bands I've seen in 2007

  • Mates of State (w/Ira Glass This American Life tour) - February 28 (Orpheum Theatre)

  • Badly Drawn Boy - March 11 (Fine Line Music Cafe)

  • Mason Jennings & Alexi Murdoch - March 30 (First Avenue)

  • Bob Schneider - April 6 (Fine Line)

  • Neko Case - April 7 (First Avenue)

  • Peter Bjorn and John (w/Au Revoir Simone and Fujiya & Miyagi) - May 9 (First Avenue)

  • Andrew Bird - May 11 (First Avenue) (Does it still count if I missed almost all of it?)

  • The Pipettes - June 8 (7th Street Entry)

  • Rilo Kiley - September 14 (First Avenue)

  • The National - September 20 (Fine Line)

  • Ani DiFranco - September 21 (The State Theater)

  • Arcade Fire w/LCD Soundsystem - September 30 (Roy Wilkins Auditorium)

  • Josh Ritter - October 17 (Cedar Cultural Center)

  • Bob Schneider - December 2 (Varsity Theater)

Movies I've seen in 2007

* - My thumbs are up
^ - My thumbs are down
~ - At least one thumb is up, but maybe not super-enthusiastically

January 5 - Pulp Fiction (1994)
January 6 - The Last Kiss (2006) ^
January 13 - Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) ~
January 13 - Kids (1995)
January 21 - Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006) *
February 4 - Little Children (2006)
February 9 - Trust the Man (2006) *
February 9 - High School Musical (2006) ~ [Oh, shut up. I was curious! (And it was fun.)]
February 11 - The Queen (2006) *
February 24 - The Departed (2006) *
February 25 - Quinceanera (2006) ~
March 3 - Celebrity Mix: A Collection of Short Films (2005) ^
(includes Laud Weiner, House Hunting, Curiosity, DysEnchanted, Dependable People, Media Whore, Waking Dreams, and Mr. Dramatic)
March 9 - LolliLove (2004)
March 10 - Stranger than Fiction (2006) *
March 13 - Brigadoon (1954) ^
March 20 - Sophie's Choice (1982)
March 23 - Kicking and Screaming (1995) *
March 24 - The Namesake (2007) *
March 31 - Fast Food Nation (2006)
April 1 - Rhythm Is It! (2004) ^
April 8 - Babel (2006) *
April 8 - Puccini for Beginners (2007) ~
April 13 - The Shape of Things (2003)
April 14 - The Lives of Others (2006) *
April 21 - The Science of Sleep (2006)
April 23 - Minnesota Documentaries Program (MSP International Film Festival screening of eight short documentaries by Minnesota film makers -- one of whom I know! Whoo!)
April 24 - Eagle vs. Shark (2007)
April 25 - Warchild (2006) *
April 27 - Once (2007) **
April 28 - Snow Cake (2006) *
May 4 - Tully (2002) *
May 5 - Happenstance (2001) ^
May 13 - Always a Bridesmaid (2000)
May 18 - Ordinary People (1980) *
May 22 - Gone with the Wind (1939) *
May 27 - Roger Dodger (2002) ^
May 27 - The Last King of Scotland (2006) *
June 2 - Waitress (2007) **
June 3 - Knocked Up (2007) **
June 10 - Catch and Release (2006)
June 10 - The Girl Most Likely To (1973) ^
June 17 - Music and Lyrics (2007)
July 1 - The Yes Men (2003) ~
July 3 - Children of Men (2006)
July 6 - Idiocracy (2006) [Note: This movie is not billed as a horror film, and yet it terrified me.]
July 7 - Evening (2007)
July 8 - Wellstone! (2004)
July 14 - Sicko (2007) *
July 15 - Diggers (2007)
July 22 - Last Holiday (2006)
July 27 - Uptown Girls (2003)
July 28 - The Simpsons Movie (2007) **
July 29 - 10 Items or Less (2006)
August 4 - Two for the Road (1967)
August 4 - It Happened One Night (1934)
August 9 - Citizen Kane (1941)
August 11 - Sweet Land (2005)
August 24 - Blood Diamond (2006)
August 26 - The Oh in Ohio (2006)
September 3 - Logan's Run (1976)
September 9 - Once (2007) - again (still **)
September 12 - Soylent Green (1973)
September 16 - Rushmore (1998)
September 25 - Superbad (2007) **
September 28 - Year of the Dog (2007)
October 20 - Reservoir Dogs (1992)
October 20 - I'm Reed Fish (2007) ~
October 21 - Herman USA (2001) ^
October 21 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
November 4 - The Sound of Music (1965) - yes, of course I've seen this before, but still, *
November 9 - Stephanie Daley (2007)
November 10 - Pan's Labyrinth (2006) *
November 22 - Home for the Holidays (1995) * - (one of my favorite holiday-related movies)
November 23 - August Rush (2007)
December 7 - Love Actually (2003) * - (and another favorite holiday-type one)
December 8 - Hairspray (2007)
December 9 - Moulin Rouge (2001) *
December 16 - Helvetica (2007)
December 23 - Hairspray (1988)
December 26 - Contact (1997) ~
December 28 - Juno (2007) **
December 29 - Factory Girl (2006) ^
December 30 - Enchanted ~ (you have to check your cynicism at the door, but if you make it past the first few musical numbers, it just might win you over)

Books I've read in 2007

* = Loved it
^ = Hated it
~ = Enjoyed it enough to mark in some way, but "love" is such a very strong word


  1. ~ Why Moms Are Weird by Pamela Ribon (passages)
  2. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (passages)
  3. * Tolstoy Lied by Rachel Kadish (passages)
  4. ~ The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson (passages)
  5. ** Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (passages)
  6. ~ Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (passages)
  7. */~ The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (passages)
  8. ~ The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman
  9. ^ Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (passages and complaints)
  10. * Drunk, Divorced, & Covered in Cat Hair by Laurie Perry
  11. Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge (Cut me some slack; I got it for free from a friend and read it on a plane, so it doesn't count.)