Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Five, or, more evidence that I could probably use some new hobbies

Despite possible evidence to the contrary (see: sidebar category and multiple posts devoted solely to bizarre search engine hits), I really don't think I check my blog stats in Sitemeter all that obsessively. Or, if I do, it is not over any true concern about the numbers but because of a paranoid need to see where people are coming from and to possibly identify any suspicious activity that may be attributed to family members, co-workers, or prospective meMarmony dates lurking on my blog.

Moreover, however, I check my stats just because there is so damn much amusing stuff in there. Here are five examples--five things in my Sitemeter listings that have entertained me of late.

  1. The fact that someone recently visited my blog from a company called [some name I forget] Nationwide Ho Network. I had no idea there was a nationwide Ho Network... Do you suppose it's a union or benefits plan, or more like some sort of support group?

  2. The frequency with which I see search engine hits for phrases such as "stowaway gecko Jamaica" and "brought gecko home in suitcase." Apparently this happens far more often than I realized. Nice to know it's not just me.

  3. The number of people out there trying to remember the name of the sitcom where Evie the half-alien girl stopped time by touching her fingertips together. A tip for everyone searching for this: it was called Out of This World. Now, could someone please tell me if this show's made some sort of resurgence across the pond? Because a whole lot of you looking for this are in Great Britain, which makes it even more puzzling to me.

  4. The growing evidence that Google is, in fact the new Magic 8 Ball. It's almost sad, actually, thinking of all the lonely, broken-hearted people out there, turning to their computer for the answers no computer can provide. "First date he didn't call," they type. Or "What does it mean when he says he just wants to be friends?" Some type simple but agonizing questions, like, "Should I cut my hair?" I am not an authority on any of these matters, and I'm guessing Google is not either, but I am sort of fascinated by the idea of tossing life's most nagging questions out there to the Internet for comfort or solace.

  5. The number of regular readers I have in Ohio. I don't know anyone in Ohio, and yet, there you all are! I have actually been thinking that if I ever decide to add a tag line on my masthead, one of the front-runners for said tag line will surely be, "I'm big in Ohio." Anyway, here's a friendly shout-out to Ohio. Hello, whoever you all are!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The best parts of Tolstoy Lied

Several weeks ago I got an e-mail from Maliavale containing a book recommendation. For Christmas, a friend of hers had sent her Rachel Kadish's Tolstoy Lied, claiming it was her favorite of 2006. "I'm only 100 pages into it," Malia wrote, "but this book is blowing me away, and for some reason, I keep thinking you'd like it as I read it."

She typed out a passage to demonstrate...

The more things you care about, the more vulnerable you are. If you are part of that epicurean minority in this country that is still offended by violations of the English language, you will be slapped in the face every time you stand in line at the market. Fifteen items or less. Caring passionately about grammar--caring passionately about anything most of humanity doesn't care about--is like poking a giant hole in your life and letting the wind blow everything around. It's like walking out your door with a big sign that says PLEASE FUCK WITH ME. The villain will seize the advantage, take hostages. For every single new thing or person you love, your vulnerability increases by a factor of precisely three billion. Falling in love is absurd. I am an absurd person.

I really can't imagine why Malia read that particular passage and thought of me. Oh yeah. I take that back. I guess can think of a few reasons.

Anyway, I requested Tolstoy Lied from my library, and, as has become my new habit this year, I started flagging passages I loved as I read. When I got to the page containing the passage Malia sent, I flagged it. I also flagged a ridiculous number of other passages. In fact, I wanted to flag the first forty pages of the damn book. Coincidentally, the cover art on Tolstoy Lied depicts a leather-bound book with approximately 35 Post-it flags protruding from its pages...

When I finished this book on Sunday night, I noticed that my borrowed copy looked much like the image on its cover.

I loved this book for a lot of reasons. The writing was smart and well-crafted, and the characters were relatable and real. What sticks with me the most, though, was how Kadish conveyed a love story that is intelligent and rational instead of just fluffy and trite. In the opening sections, she somehow manages to channel the exact thought process of the perpetually single girl (looking in with confusion and distrust at the Marriage Mafia and deciding it's not for her), and yet, by the end, she shows an equally convincing portrait of love the way it's supposed to be--true and comfortable, challenging and changing, without any loss of self.

It would be ridiculous to type out every passage I flagged as I read, but here's a sampling anyway...

Dating emptied me out. One evening, returning from a tepid dinner with a perfectly nice man ("perfectly": adverb of dating doom), I turned on my TV and stared bleary-eyed at a nature special about the tropical rainforest. There, amid platter-sized dasheen leaves and aerial roots... were the hunter vines: stout branches that sprouted from the forest floor, hitched onto the nearest tree, spiraled halfway up its trunk, then--a dozen feet up--groped out into open air to find another, likelier trunk, around which they grew for a dozen months or years until switching to another tree and then, finally, up in the canopy, leafing out into golden sunlight. I thought: I know people like that.

Long ago I came to the conclusion that all married people are with the CIA. Once, they were truthful women and men; friends I understood and knew intimately; people like me, whose every up and down was acknowledged and evaluated in the company of confidants. Then came the wedding... During the ceremony brides and grooms take a vow of secrecy. Afterward, they could tell you what makes their marriage tick; they could explain how they manage day to day without throttling one another; whether they have regrets; and why, in fact, the institution of marriage is desirable in the first place. But then they'd have to kill you.

My fascination with love goes deeper than sex. Love is the channel of mysteries. The unlocker of secrets, decoder ring of souls. People are ciphers until you love them. The prosecutor whose underlings tremble at his command? Love this man and he will show you his Giant Killer Gecko imitation. His hidden fear of drowning. His single childhood memory of his grandfather. Love is a window, and in this city of facades we lone pedestrians can't help trying to warm ourselves by its light.

For my parents, conversation is not a set of exotic pigments. Conversation is house paint. Apply enough to cover the subject. Store the rest in the basement.

...My parents, like a lot of people, successfully raised their child to be an adult they can't understand, in a city they find alarming, in a profession they find impenetrable.

I'm sure there's a lot to be gained from religion... Sometimes I suspect the difference between someone without a clear faith and someone with may be the difference between a stick of wood and a cello. But I can't overlook all the harm religion does. And I don't think we need some big structured community to have meaningful lives.

Here is my recollection of adolescence: You grow breasts (even if they are not particularly significant breasts), and everyone changes overnight. People you used to count on suddenly find you uninteresting. Other people--ones who never had much to say to you--are abruptly unshakable.

Engagement, I am coming to believe, is a second set of breasts.

I sleep fitfully, waking to dial George's number and leave another rambling message. Rising to go to the bathroom, I bump into walls... Proportions confound me. My body is undergoing a transformation, turning foreign. Like Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider only in reverse: a night of nausea, dizziness, flashbacks... I think of my undergraduate Women's Studies professor and briefly consider looking her up, to inform her. To accuse her. To tell her that evidently those women's studies courses were like vocational training in technical support for Betamax. Teaching me the perfect skills to navigate a system that never took hold.

So now I'm culturally irrelevant, on top of everything? My thoughts scatter. Then, at length, regroup: Literary criticism matters. It's like the computer code behind a program everybody uses. Only a few people care enough to work on the code, but it keeps the program of cultural transmission on course.

I was wrong... Love isn't rest. Love requires you, from time to time, to rip up your soul and replant it. To dare your lover to do the same. To muster sympathy where it seemed impossible. To be, perpetually, two kids joining hands, drawing breath, and deep-diving.

The work of repair is not interesting. It's hours when you expected to be finishing the roof tiles but you're stuck laying foundation -- miles of it. There is, of course, a CIA directive against discussing this part. Love--this is what they don't want you to know--isn't for the faint of heart; it requires modern skepticism as well as an anachronistic gameness for hard labor... Hollywood shows sex because it's easier than showing love. Love--real love--is not cinematic... It's the stuff no one talks about: How trust grows rootlets. How two people who start as lovers become custodians of each other's well-being.

People misunderstand happiness. They think it's the absence of trouble. That's not happiness, that's luck. Happiness is the ability to live well alongside trouble... Every day brilliant people, people smarter than I, wallow in safe tragedy and pessimism, shying from what really takes guts: recognizing how much courage and labor happiness demands.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. My fewer-than-ten-words review. I didn't really think about that much as I read this one, but how about this, OK?

Literary criticism + intelligent love story = perfect nerdy-girl book

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I am kayak; hear me roar

I don't always think of this blog as a chronological sort of thing with an ongoing story line, so when 3carnations mentioned in my comments the other day that she was still pulling for Index Card Guy, I wasn't sure whether that was worthy of an in-post update or not. In case anyone else is curious, the story is thus: after a relatively sincere and enthusiastic request for a second date (at the end of our first date), Index Card Guy waited a full week to call. In the voicemail he left, he explained all the reasons he would not be able to get together in the next few days, but said he wanted to call to say hello anyway. Calling on a Thursday (immediately pre-weekend) I think puts a little crimp in the usually acceptable time frame for a callback, so I'll admit I did not return his call until Sunday night. By Tuesday, I decided that, should he call again, I would not be home. I was tired of the ridiculous game of phone tag and wholly underwhelmed by his non-efforts to woo me. Either he wasn't particularly interested or he's just plain bad at dating. Whichever the case, I felt writing him off was no great loss. Judging by the comments some of you left on my date recap post, you won't be too appalled by that decision. "Index Card Guy needs to be shown the door," Darren wrote. Well OK then. As you wish. Moving on.

Truth be told, I have quickly grown tired of the ridiculous dating game yet again. I honestly am fine on my own, so I don't know why I feel compelled to go through the absurd social experiment that is meMarmony. On tonight's Gilmore Girls, Emily shocked both Lorelei and me by acknowledging that Lorelei doesn't really need a husband at all. Emily is in a canoe, paddling wildly on only one side and getting exhausted and dizzy without a partner, while Lorelei is in a kayak, balanced and productive all on her own. I'm in a kayak, too, I think. As Lorelei responded, "I am kayak; hear me roar."

I keep thinking of a Josh Ritter song containing a line that's always resonated with me. "I'm alone, but I'm not lonely," he sings in California. I relate completely. Still, I can't help feeling it would be, at times, better, to have a partner. Trips are being planned--"couple" trips where I will be the odd woman out. Before I know it, summer will be here, and the canoe metaphor will be a reality: I'll find myself on camping excursions, paddling partner nowhere in sight. Or worse, it will be December again, and I'll be back at my company's holiday party, dateless once more, watching my ex-boyfriend with not only a new girlfriend this time, but a fiance'--even worse. Yes, last week my ex-boyfriend (the ex-boyfriend, the only one who's really mattered thus far, the one where, upon our breakup, I rightly predicted, "That one's gonna leave a mark") got engaged. I have been mentally preparing for this news for a while now, and yet I still fully expected it would unhinge me when it became real. I am sort of still waiting for the knot in my stomach to form, the breakdown to begin. But as yet, I am somehow thankfully in large part unaffected. I rolled my eyes and recalled all the reasons his new relationship annoys and confounds me and all the things I'd like to say to him, but I realized also that holding on to all of that serves no purpose, that I somehow need to learn how to let go. I told my friends that I reserve the right to have a breakdown a bit later (healing and moving on is seldom a linear process, after all), but for now, I am pushing it out of my brain and holding fast to the knowledge that we were not right together, that we broke up for a reason, and that it doesn't really matter what he's doing with his life now. And also that the ring he purchased is hideous and that I'm better off without someone with such poor taste. (What? I am a bitter spinster! I have the right to an unfair comment every now and then, have I not?)

Regardless, the meMarmony game grows more depressing with each day. There are exactly two men in my list at the moment who look remotely appealing to me at all, and neither one seems interested in responding to me right now. Meanwhile, the matches who are showing some degree of interest are either wholly unattractive or seemingly just plain weird. Consider this example from one guy's "The one thing I am most passionate about" box:

Life! Wine, passion, the thrill of speed, and travel to trails that are crooked, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. mountains that rise into and above the clouds. rivers that flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys past temples and castles and poet's towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers & monkeys howl, down into deserts of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, deep vast ancient unknown chasms where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, places where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning crashed overhead.

I have no idea where this guy lives, as his city says "Null" on the profile, but I know of no place in the greater metropolitan area where tigers and monkeys howl in primeval forests. Most guys write something like "travel," "friends," or "family" in that box. This guy's into crooked, lonesome trails and unknown chasms alongside cliffs. I suppose it could be worse. He's not confessing a love for cross-dressing, after all. Still, a bit of normalcy (with a healthy and appealing side of quirky) would be refreshing at this point.

I do realize, by the way, that the problem could quite likely be me. A good friend told me the other night that her sort-of boyfriend mentioned, in conversation, that I'm probably compatible with only a fraction of the number of people with whom most women could be happy. If the average person could be comfortably matched with approximately 25,000 people in the world, I'm well suited for only 2,500 of those, he said. I'm not sure what he's basing this on, but considering this guy said most men would like only about 70% of who I am, he may be on to something, I guess. (That guy, by the way, tried to counter that statement by saying he liked 90% of who I am, but considering his goal was to work on and improve the 10% he was not OK with, I wasn't particularly flattered by that claim.)

I'm not sure what is so fundamentally unmatchable about me, but even Dr. Warren (the mysterious wizard behind the curtain at meMarmony) seems baffled at this point. The past few days, I've been repeatedly unable to log in, due to the supposed "recent membership surge" that's bogging down their site. And yet? No new matches for me. It's as though Dr. Warren and his band of yentas have thrown up their hands and said, "Sorry; you're on your own. I can't help you anymore." I've heard tales of people being rejected from meMarmony from the start because the system felt it could find no one worth matching them with at all. Me they happily accepted, but apparently I worked my way through their few prospects all too quick.

I am trying to maintain a sense of humor, as with all things in life. A meMarmony match recently asked me what five songs would be on the soundtrack for the movie of my life, and, unable to commit to five solid and meaningful selections, I actually included the Dresden Dolls' Coin-Operated Boy as my final song, with the explanation that "I totally want one of those." The man for me would understand that was a joke and appreciate the snark behind the lie. This guy? Time will tell if he's amused, I suppose.

Even my behavior on dates has been a bit questionable of late. I've often chided men for their lack of social skills, and yet, on my last date (Date #4 in my ElimiDATE game, the one date I didn't include in my recap that week), I was the one who'd seemingly not been let out in public in some time. I don't even remember all of the details at this point, but I may or may not have responded to a comment about his body size with the line, "Well, you are sort of burly, I suppose." I attribute the big ball of awkwardness that was that night to the fact that my date was a mute; he was entirely too comfortable with uncomfortable silence, which led me to fill the silence with any rambling thought that entered my head. Since I have, as I've mentioned before, no mental goalie whatsoever, at the end of that date, I actually said out loud, "I have been on four dates this week, and this is the first one where I've felt like the freak." I am not shocked that he closed the match two days later. I am only shocked I did not do so myself first to save my dignity.

All of this is telling me that perhaps it's time for a break from this nonsense yet again. Of course, I haven't yet told that to the guy I'm supposed to meet this weekend. I'd like to think that, just like in the movies, it's when you've written off all hope for love that the right one comes into view, but I'm far too cynical to truly believe that yet, I guess. As such, I'll likely have another awkward coffee date to relay come Sunday evening. I'm sure you're looking forward to it, right?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Does this mean Target is no longer my happy place?

OK, this is getting ridiculous. I do not live in Stars Hollow, for fuck sake. I live in Minneapolis, a city that, according to Wikipedia, covers over 58 square miles and houses close to 400,000 people. Add in the rest of the surrounding metro area and the population swells to nearly three million. Within that metro area are no fewer than 35 separate Target stores. All of this means that the likelihood of me running into anyone I know while doing my weekly shopping should be remarkably slim. The likelihood of me running into any of the mere handful of people I really don't want to run into should be even slimmer. And yet, in my life, apparently Target is Doose's Market. Lucky me.

Remember my near-miss with a former meMarmony match at a Target store back in December? Well, it happened again. Different Target store, different guy, but just as awkward in my mind. Today I crossed paths with the off-center soul patch guy you may remember as David McLikeshimself. This time I inadvertently made eye contact before I realized who he was... and then was promptly blocked and detained by a palett-dragging Target employee before I could make a swift and prompt getaway. As an added bonus, I was sporting the unshowered greasy ponytail look yet again, just as I was last time this happened. I could run into these guys when I'm out at an event and in "looking-good" mode, but no. The universe clearly has more humbling plans than that in store for me.

Luckily, either Soul Patch didn't actually notice and recognize me or he had just as little interest in chatting as I did, because he kept on walking down the aisle. Mild crisis averted yet again, I suppose. The universe likes messing with me, but only to a minor degree, it seems.

I haven't done the math lately, but I remain confident that the number of men I have dated in the Twin Cities still remains well under 30 or 40. I really shouldn't have to consider moving just to put myself in a new dating pool (or to avoid further awkward encounters), should I?

Or, even worse, I shouldn't have to start shopping at Wal-Mart instead, right? (Given that solution, moving may actually be the better plan, I think.)

Can I get a "Whoo!" (or maybe some equivalent though nerdier exclamation)?

It seems my shameless campaigning paid off, as I have been granted the 2007 Poppy Award for Grammar and Spelling. Yay!!

I would like to thank the academy, except, um, there is no academy. There is only Poppy and you guys. Oh, and my 12th grade English teacher Mrs. Millmans, who taught me more about proper grammar than any other teacher or professor I've ever had and whose name I just spelled incorrectly on purpose to avoid having anyone connected with my old high school inadvertently Google upon my blog. Ah, the irony of a deliberate spelling error in a post celebrating my spelling prowess. I hope my award isn't revoked for such an offense.

I am pleased to report that I actually won two Poppy awards. The other was a category I suggested myself, knowing I'd be a shoe-in to win. Since Poppy is all secret and anonymous, though, I didn't think she'd actually post such an award. Since she did, I think I can safely mention it here as well.

Poppy is one of at least three Stefanie-with-an-F's who has come to and commented on my blog seemingly solely because of our uncommon name. Clearly we're not quite as rare and original as I thought. It might be a depressing thought if I weren't in such fine company.

Congrats also to Maliavale, Nabbalicious, and Darren for their well-deserved recognition in the "Best Music Reviews" and "Best Photos" categories. And a special shout-out to Liz, who took away the "Most Feral Cat Posts in a Single Blog" award, a category that I'm pretty sure came straight from a suggestion in my comments. Liz, it really is too bad that the Poppy Awards don't come with a trophy, because this has "Year of Liz" written all over it, don't you think?

Friday, February 16, 2007

You know I love a list, but is posting a list of lists going just a bit too far?

If you're just tuning in, I should explain that I'm running reruns this week, for no better reason than that I haven't felt particularly inspired to write anything new lately and that I had this possibly egomaniacal idea that perhaps there was some good stuff in the archives that no one had yet stumbled across. I promise I will get back to my irregularly scheduled ramblings about more current things soon, but meanwhile, I thought I'd use this week's Friday Five to highlight five of my favorite lists-of-five thus far. I am fully aware, by the way, that my blog is suddenly starting to feel like a clip show, and I've never even particularly liked clip shows. Let's just go with it for one more day, though, OK?

Five Friday Fives that you may or may not have already read:

  1. Five things I have learned from TV (Television isn't just for entertainment, after all... it's also "teacher, mother, secret lover"*)

  2. Five food-related things you will never hear me say (Also on the list? "No olives for me, thanks.")

  3. Five crappy little non-posts does not a proper post make (I really don't think I was drunk when I wrote this one, though in retrospect I'm not so sure.)

  4. Five ways to make me quickly dismiss your online profile (Just in case I haven't complained about the men on meMarmony quite enough lately...)

  5. Five things I do not understand (This could also be "Five things that annoy me no end," but I already have at least three lists centered on annoyance.)

* I am hoping Metalia and Darren got that reference, though I don't know how many of the rest of you did.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A shameless plug (plus your regularly scheduled reruns during this ongoing flashback week)

Poppy is giving out some awards, and while I haven't actually voted yet (Sorry, Poppy!) nor nominated myself, I would like to think I am a shoe-in for at least one category. Does anyone want to guess which one? Go ahead, take a look at the list and then come back. I'll wait.

Well? What do you think?

I'll give you a hint. It is not the Best Use of Cheese, and I am not proposing that the one and only recipe I ever posted is worthy of a prize. No, it is the Grammar and Spelling Award in particular that I would like to win. Why? Simple. Because I am a huge nerd and therefore that sort of thing would actually be exciting to me.*

In reality, I am sort of disturbed that something like "Grammar and Spelling" is actually notable enough to be worthy of a category. I would like to think proper grammar and spelling should be a given, and as such, I'm sure most of you out there would be fine candidates for this award as well. All it takes is few clicks of that "Next Blog" button, however, to prove that we are not the majority we should be. It's a sad realization, really. Coca-Cola wanted to teach the world to sing; I want to teach the Internet the difference between its and it's.** (See? Huge nerd! I totally deserve this award.)

Anyway, I do not have any particular and specific post in mind that demonstrates my superb grammar and spelling skills and thereby qualifies me above all others for this award. The mere fact that I have written about spelling and punctuation on no fewer than ten occasions, however, ought to be worth something, don't you think?

Here is just a sampling... various bits of proof that I probably care way too much about this sort of thing. Check any of these out as your encore episode for today.

  • Speaking Volumes - The one in which one of the nation's premier public library systems lets me down with the abomination of a simple typo.

  • It's not you; it's me - The one in which I suggest that superfluous and unwarranted punctuation might actually be grounds for disqualification in the dating game.

  • I am the keeper of the semicolon - The one in which I show I am such a nerd about punctuation that I actually wear it around my neck.

  • Because I just never get sick of talking about punctuation (and plagiary) - The one that explains just when and how I realized the semicolon is my trademark. (This one is just as much about bad dates as it is about punctuation, so if you've come here for that sort of story, it's good for that, too.)

All right then. Have I proven my point? Then go vote for nominate me, OK? :-)

* I am well aware, by the way, that typing three sentence fragments in a row does not do much to champion my claim on this award, but I would like to think there is a difference between breaking grammar rules on purpose for conversational effect and ignoring them willy-nilly simply because I'm unaware of any such rules. Agree? OK. (There, I did it again.)

** Its is possessive. It's means it is. Can we all please just learn this already? Thanks.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    This is the way it all began (not with a bang, but a whimper)

    So apparently today is some sort of holiday? A fake one, of course, but clearly a widely acknowledged holiday nonetheless. Honestly, Valentine's Day is barely a blip on my radar, so I'm not even sure why I'd mention it. The guys on the radio this morning, however, mentioned it no less than 27 times, so I'm guessing the day actually is important to some people. Bear in mind this was Public radio. Yeah, I'm as suprised as you are.

    Anyway, in light of it being the 14th of February (and in light of so many of my posts being date-centered of late), I thought today's reruns should be date-related as well. Perhaps you weren't around last winter. Perhaps you didn't catch just how the whole meMarmony saga started way back then. No? Well OK then; allow me to fill you in...

    The story of my very first meMarmony date

    That date led me to the brilliant idea of post-date performance reviews, which later led to a few other bits of supporting evidence that dating is an awful lot like work. As such, letters of recommendation and formal rejection letters seemed like fine ideas as well.

    Are any of you actually wondering by this point why I'm still single? Um, yeah. I thought not. Carry on.

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Don't call them "reruns"; call them "encore presentations"

    It seems a lot of my favorite bloggers are taking an official or unofficial hiatus lately. Perhaps there's something in the air (or rather, the series of tubes that is the Internet), because I'm not feeling too inspired this week myself. Rather than just post nothing, though, I have an alternate plan in mind.

    I was not one of those lucky bloggers who somehow garnered a readership almost instantly after my first post. This could, of course, have something to do with the fact that I didn't actually tell anyone about my blog until I had been writing in it for at least three months, and that I didn't start freely commenting on other people's blogs (thereby getting links out there where people might decide to click over and pop in) for a long time after that. Of course, it could also be that everything I wrote in those first several months was utter crap. Considering I still write entries that I think likely qualify as utter crap, however, I sort of doubt that was entirely the case.

    Know what that means? That means there's actually a chance there is a "lost episode" of Stefanie Says that might possibly be interesting or amusing, but that quite likely no more than seven people ever read. I am going to try to identify some of these and post them this week. If you actually have been here for a while and you do remember some of these, I do apologize. (I apologize in particular if you already read them once and didn't enjoy them the first time. Don't you hate it when a rerun is an episode you didn't even like?)

    I'll start with one that I'll admit wasn't hilarious or anything, but that is resonating with me pretty strongly lately, as it seems everyone on every road in my usual route has completely forgotten how to drive. Here's my public service message response: My own personal traffic school

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    What? It's still Friday...

    On my way to work this morning, I was thinking, "Maybe I won't post a Friday Five today. Maybe the Friday Five has seen its day and is ready to retire." Thinking of retirement made me think of canasta and shuffleboard and black socks with sandals, and then made me think of my 401K plan, which reminded me of the credit card company I need to write to dispute the ridiculous and unfounded "returned check" fee on my statement, and pretty soon my brain was meandering all the way to hockey puck , rattlesnake, monkey monkey underpants, and still I had no Friday Five in mind.

    "No one will miss it," I thought. "Who really cares?"

    Well, my friend Simone cares, apparently. This afternoon I received an e-mail from her... The message primarily concerned unrelated topics, but in the P.S. she wrote, "Where is your Friday Five? I'm waiting..."

    All righty then. What I learned today is that at least one person comes here on Fridays looking for an idle list of things in five-point form. Here are a few other things I've learned this week as well.

    1. The woman who processed my first mortgage really does not understand me. I am actually on my third mortgage in one house, for reasons I won't bother documenting, mainly because they are uninteresting and also do little more than prove that I am not very financially savvy and that I apparently like wasting large sums of money rather than doing proper up-front research like the smart girl I'd like to think I am should. Anyway. The first mortgage for which I signed many, many papers was overseen by a woman named Brenda with a mousy persona and very bad hair. I have no intention whatsoever of doing business with Brenda again, but that does not stop Brenda from sending helpful tips and recipes and rate notice memos to me approximately four to six times a year.

      I shouldn't imply that everything Brenda has sent has been worthless... One of her mailed recipe cards was for some caramel-chocolate-oatmeal bars that I actually made for two different gatherings and gained widespread praise for on both counts. Still. Most of the stuff she sends me? Utterly worthless, in my opinion. I do not care when the Vikings and the Gophers are playing, so the handy wallet-sized schedules are not so handy in my life. I do not have a husband or family, so household chore charts really don't serve much purpose for me. Today's mailing was equally useless... so much so that I actually considered calling Brenda, to say, "Save yourself a stamp. Please take me off your list."

      What Brenda sent today was a 4"x6" magnet containing "Emergency Baking Substitution" tips. These tips were about as helpful as the one on that birthday card my sister sent me a couple years ago (the one that said, "My cookbook says if I don't have two eggs I can substitute three egg yolks... I don't think my cookbook understands my problems"). The magnet contains eight different tips, only one of which might feasibly be useful to me in any scenario in my home. That one tip, in case it's of interest, is that if you don't have a tablespoon of cornstarch, two tablespoons of all-purpose flour should do just fine. OK, so I generally do have all-purpose flour, but I can't remember a time when I made anything requiring cornstarch, so really this tip is not apt to prove necessary any time soon. Equally unhandy are the suggestions to substitute milk with lemon juice or vinegar if I don't have buttermilk, or to use baking soda and cream of tartar if I don't have baking powder. I have heard of cream of tartar, but I've never even considered purchasing it. If I am in need of baking powder, I'll be more likely to substitute baking soda and hope for the best. Brenda has no idea who she's dealing with, obviously.

    2. People drive even slower in cold weather than they do during mild temps, and they seem even more oblivious to their left-lane-hogging offense than they do on less-cold days. Listen. I totally understand that cars are fickle and you need to be good to them when the air is sub-zero six days in a row. My own car was acting fluky and temperamental the other day as well. But I promise you that once you get going, 62 mph will be no less traumatic for your vehicle than 53 is, OK? If you don't believe me, fine, but move your ass on over to the right lane and get the hell out of my way then, would you?

    3. Six days of sub-zero weather apparently makes me cranky. And impatient. See above.

    4. Despite the fact that half the people I know have never heard of him, it seems my boyfriend Rhett is capable of selling out a show in my hometown. I was going to gush on about all the ways I love this man, but then I remembered that I already did that a while back. Rhett, I know you will not read this, but I just have to say I am sorry I underestimated your apparently recent widespread appeal, and I'm sorry I will not be there for your show at the Turf Club tomorrow night. Can I still be your Four-Eyed Girl? Yes? OK, good.

    5. I really need to invest in some cold-weather date clothes. It seems all of my reasonably cute date-tops are made of unfortunately thin fabrics and/or involve mere 3/4-length sleeves, neither of which is acceptable when the temperature is in the aforementioned sub-zero range. I have exactly one date-appropriate wool-blend sweater... one sweater that is the ideal balance between too-casual and almost-dressy... one sweater that is clingy enough to be potentially alluring without crossing the line over to slutty and inappropriate. Unfortunately, I realized this week, after wearing it on two of my four dates*, that I have had no good dates in that particular sweater at all. Because I am a lunatic with widely misused space in my brain, I can actually remember wearing that sweater on four specific dates in the past few years. They are documented here (see "Greg #1"), here, and now here. Date #4 was last night's, which, despite 3Carnations's kind request in my last post's comments, I really don't feel like writing about right now.** So. No more dates in my gray sweater. I do believe that sweater may be jinxed.

    Another thing I learned this week? Four dates in one week is probably never a good idea. Live and learn, as they say, right?

    * What? Date #3 lasted less than two hours! Don't you agree a sweater is re-wearable after only two hours in the field?

    ** 3Cs, if you really want to know why "weird" was my only assessment of that date, send me an e-mail and I'll fill you in. For now, I think I've written about my pathetic dating life quite enough for one week, don't you agree?

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Two hours of my life that I cannot get back

    I was thinking I probably shouldn't write about my date last night. As I mentioned Monday, a suspicious search engine hit in my Sitemeter log had me paranoid that perhaps one of my prospective dates had found my blog, and if it was yesterday's guy, then it seems a bit rude to publish details about him on the Internet for anyone to read. I know it's my blog, but still. Last night was a particularly bad date, however. Mind-numbingly dull and even worse in retrospect, and as such, it hardly seems reasonable not to document it.

    Besides that, I am pretty sure last night's guy has not found this site. Last night's guy has a computer-related job title, so presumably he should be savvy enough to Google a user name or an e-mail address in the interest of research. Despite whatever professional expertise he may claim, however, I have a hard time believing this particular man could navigate his way out of a walk-in closet without help, so I am just going to hope and guess he's none the wiser about this entry. Dude-who-shall-remain-nameless, if I'm wrong on this and you are actually reading this post, well then I'm sorry for taking the moral low ground. Feel free to tell all your friends about the classy girl who went out with you and then bad-mouthed you on the Internet. Or, you know, quietly internalize this, maybe take a few tips about social interaction, and buck up and move on with your life. Your way means admitting to your friends and loved ones that some girl you met on meMarmony ranked you in her top-five worst dates ever. My way lets you slink away anonymously with few identifying details. The choice is yours, OK?

    I've probably set this up a tad too dramatically. It actually wasn't all that bad a date, I suppose. I mean, no one stole my purse, after all, and no one fell asleep (though it did occur to me more than once that a nap might be more fun). Still, when you're sitting in a coffee shop thinking, "I'm missing Gilmore Girls for this?" you know it's not a good sign. Keep in mind I'm talking about a seventh-season Gilmore Girls episode. Even the most devout fans (i.e., me) will admit the show's gone downhill. And yet? In front of my TV watching Lorelei and Rory (and even the maddeningly smarmy Logan) was an entirely more appealing place to be. Hell, being outside shoveling newly fallen snow on a -10 degree night was a more appealing place to be, and considering how much I truly hate being cold, that's really no small feat, I must say.

    Bachelor #3 (we'll call him that because he's third of four this week, and because I really am all about limiting the personal details as much as possible) was a perfectly nice guy, I suppose. But when the "what's the most important quality you're looking for?" box on my profile clearly states I want someone smart and funny, I would like to think slack-jawed dull-wits need not apply.

    I shouldn't have been expecting any mental giant, I suppose. The dude cannot spell, after all. Unfortunately, he's not even the type of bad speller who's just too lazy to run himself through spell check. Instead, he's the sort of bad speller who needs a yet-to-be-invented homophone-checker, as the little squiggly red lines won't suffice. You all know I am a word nerd and a grammar geek, so imagine the restraint it took not to correct his continued use of "collage" instead of "college." Or to refrain from pointing out that he probably meant "secret" instead of "secrete" in the last box of his profile. Still, I resolved to keep an open mind and to hope that someone who doesn't present well via e-mail can still be intelligent and interesting in person. I hope not to make that mistake again.

    The whole date felt more like an interview than an actual normal, adult conversation. And I'm not even talking about an interview for some reputable, thought-provoking publication for clever, sharp-minded readers. No, this was more like an interview for Tiger Beat, given the mindless and trivial questions Bachelor #3 thought to ask. The conversation, for much of the date, went something like this:

    Him: So, what's your favorite color?
    Me: Um... purple?
    Him: Really?
    Me: Uh, I guess.

    Repeat about 47 times, with 47 equally meaningless questions, and you about have the gist of the night. Bear in mind that each "Really?" was delivered with the same dumb, vacant tone, a response that got so tiresome that by this question, I'd nearly had enough...

    Him: So, you went to Jamaica? Did you like it?
    Me: No, it totally sucked.
    Him: Really?
    Me: No, you idiot, it was Jamaica. Of course I liked it, you fool. And can you maybe muster a response other than "Really?" for just one of these, you think??

    OK, so I didn't actually say that. But I wanted to, of course.

    I know that conversation is a two-way street, so I am not attempting to absolve myself of all blame. When the question-asker leaves no room for follow-up before launching into the next query, however, it's hard to steer things into any meaningful, deeper conversation on your own.

    We actually did touch briefly on some more interesting topics, I guess. We managed to get to books and politics, after all, both fine topics on which I'd ordinarily have much to say. Since this wasn't an ordinary conversation, however, the exchange didn't go very far. Case in point:

    Him: I think the next president is going to be either a woman or a black man.
    Me: Hillary is unelectable. I'm not saying I don't like her or I wouldn't vote for her; I'm just saying, she's too polarizing. Too many people hate her. It makes her unelectable. Don't you think?
    Him: Really? I didn't know people hated her... Why do they hate her?
    Me: ... [trying to decide how to explain Republicans and conservative-minded women in a way that would make sense to a second-grader]
    Him: OK, well then it's going to be a black man. You know... that one guy...?
    Me: Barack Obama.
    Him: Is that his name?
    Me: Kill me now. Please.

    OK, so I may be paraphrasing on that last part. Close enough, though, I say.

    When he turned things to books, it wasn't any better, unfortunately. I hadn't read most of the titles he cited, but I'd at least heard of a few, anyway. That should have been a good start, until he mentioned some book about a bunch of guys trapped on an ice shelf somewhere...

    Me: Was it fiction or nonfiction?
    Uh... nonfiction. Or. Wait. Nonfiction means "not true"? No, nonfiction is true, right?
    Me: Um... yeah. Nonfiction means true story.
    Him: Fiction then. It was fiction.

    I guess I shouldn't judge, considering I'm the girl who just last week admitted she's incapable of remembering the temperature at which freezing occurs. We all have our Achilles' heel, after all. (I'm actually hoping that by admitting that weakness to the Internet, I have finally somehow locked it in memory and I will hereafter have no trouble retaining the fact that 32 is the number of degrees in question. Time will tell, though, I suppose.)

    Usually after a pleasant though uneventful date, I'll send a niceties type e-mail thanking the guy for his time before clicking that fateful "Close Match" button and vanquishing him from my list. I'll tell him how nice it was to meet him and say that I really think he has fine qualities that are undoubtedly well suited for some woman who isn't me, but that chemistry is a strange, unpredictable thing, and I'm unfortunately just not feeling it with him. With this guy, though, I couldn't say any of that with any sort of honesty at all. I wish him well, sure, but I can't say, "it was a pleasure" with even a virtual poker face. So I boldly clicked that "Close" button with no explanation aside from a Dr. Warren-sanctioned checkbox on the page.

    I am truly hoping tomorrow's date is far less painful, but given my track record this week, it's hard to muster too much optimism. At least tomorrow is a drinks date rather than coffee, however. I'm all for incorporating alcohol into all dates, actually. Alcohol gives even the most boring guys at least a fighting chance. Unfortunately, it also makes me prone to the idle nonsensical rambling of which I'm apparently so fond, meaning Tomorrow Dude might be writing about me on his own blog come Friday morning, but that's a risk I'll have to take, I suppose.

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Mid-marathon update

    Blogging is, by its nature, at least somewhat self-indulgent, and yet somehow it still surprises me when I write about the idle, trivial goings-on in my life and people actually seem to want a follow-up. Today, for example, I received four e-mail messages (some of which were from people I have never met in person) asking me how my marathon date week is going. You guys want updates, apparently. It's not more fun just to wonder?

    I do hate to disappoint, so if it's an update you want, an update you shall have. I'm here for you, after all. I may be here for you mainly because ABC decided to air Celebrity In-Style Weddings tonight instead of What about Brian, leaving me with an extra hour I wasn't planning to have, but I'm here for you nonetheless. Therefore I might as well fill you in.

    Friday night's dinner with Index Card Guy went fine. On a first-date scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it about a 7.5. It had its awkward moments, of course, but considering I'm someone who frequently says unintentionally inappropriate and awkward things myself, I feel I could maybe cut him some slack. I should, for example, just forget about that moment when I offered to split the check and he actually pointed out that I'd had one more glass of wine than he did*. I should also probably forget about the point where he said that the reason he's still single might be that he has a bit of a problem with commitment. Those were, after all, really the only two noticeably low points of the evening, so it's not really fair to focus on those. (Incidentally, if it somehow turns out that against whatever odds this guy actually stays in the picture, I will, of course, have to edit those details out of this entry at some time in the next month or so. Someone remind me to do that, OK?) In any case, aside from a few minor hiccups, it was for the most part, a reasonably good date, and I am therefore in a "maybe-proceed-with-caution" mindset with this guy.

    Sunday was my coffee date with the first of the meMarmony guys to click that "Start Communication" button this time around. Somehow I found it very hard to get through the whole date without mentioning that my pal Guinness Girl had seen his profile and dubbed him a shorter, slightly doughier version of Lance Bass,** but I managed to restrain myself nonetheless. In truth, this guy was perfectly nice and smart and reasonably attractive, and we had a completely comfortable and normal conversation. I felt not one smidge of chemistry, but that is neither his fault nor mine. It is what it is; that's all. (Next!)

    After the coffee date, I apparently decided it was time to converse with someone who already knows I am a babbling idiot and a socially incompetent fool seemingly most of the time, so I met up with The Magical Boy for a lovely lunch in Uptown, followed by my third in-theater movie in six months.*** This fake-date was, I think, actually more fun than any of my real dates this weekend, so maybe I should give up on meMarmony and just start dating my friends instead. Since most of my friends are women, that could be an interesting plan. Surely there's a lesbian blog-ring I could join, isn't there?

    So that is the ElimiDATE update as it stands this far. In the next three days, I have two more meMarmony dates, but I am hesitant to tell you anything about either of these men, as I have a sneaking hunch that one of them has been resourceful and has already found this blog and all of its potentially incriminating info on his own. A recent highly suspicious hit in my Sitemeter log has me thinking I'm not the only one who does some research before a date, and while I can't fault him for the investigative work, I also can't help but feel a bit violated nonetheless. Not because now I can't freely tell you that one of these guys is a terrible speller and the other looks sort of uncomfortably similar to my ex-boyfriend, but because if a prospective date has found this site, he's found essentially a manual to what makes me tick, and that's not only unfair, but actually takes away some of the fun of the early dates. It is my own fault, of course, for not writing under an alias all along (or for using the same semi-anonymous e-mail address for blog correspondence as I do for meMarmony messages), but I'm kicking myself anyway.

    All right. I don't want to end on some ominous low note, so while I haven't found the love of my life online just yet, let me tell you about something new that I do love, OK? My friend Amy recently told me how excited she was about her new yoga/lounging pants from Target, and since she is a tall girl like me with approximately the same build and what-not, I decided to look into this recommendation. People, she was not kidding. I. Love. These. Pants. I may not actually need a new boyfriend, as I think me and these pants are going to be really quite happy together. It was approximately -20 degrees here for much of the weekend, and the whole time I was foolishly out gallivanting around town, going on dates and getting psychic readings and running errands at the strip mall with the most infuriatingly crowded parking lot ever, all I could think about was how excited I was going to be to get home and change into my fabulously comfortable new lounge pants. Short girls, these pants are not for you, as the main draw of them for me (aside from the impossibly soft and just-stretchy-enough fabric from which they're made) was the fact that the hems actually graze the bottoms of my heels, instead of hovering somewhere mid-ankle. But if you're tall like me, I highly recommend you head to Target and seek out the Pro-Spirit yoga pants with the wide-band waist and the drawstring bottoms. You will not be disappointed. That is, unless, like me, you have not vacuumed or swept your floors in some time and you realize, like me, that the trailing bottoms of your pants are actually Swiffering your floors as you move about your home, picking up masses of hair and dust in a way that might be helpful and multi-functional if it weren't also pretty damn disgusting. So. Vacuum your floors. Then buy these pants. I assure you, you will be pleased.


    * This was particularly egregious since I had already paid for my first glass of wine at the bar myself, before he arrived. The smooth way I handled this, however (wherein I said, "Actually, I paid for my first glass at the bar, but big points to you for bringing that up"), was possibly just as blunt and awkward, so maybe we sort of came out even here.

    ** OK, in all fairness, she said "Lance Bass," and I pointed out that he's a bit shorter and doughier than any N'Sync boy, but I'd prefer to shirk the blame anyway. (Sorry, GG!) ;-)

    *** I
    am really behind in my current-movie viewing. Lisa, if you're reading this, I blame you. You are my favorite movie-going friend, but we have not been keeping up like we should the past few months! We need to get on that, OK?

    Friday, February 02, 2007


    Lately I've seen a resurrection of that "six weird things" meme. You know the one... You're supposed to list six weird things about yourself and then tag several other people to do the same? I'm sure you've seen it around. As far as I know, I did not personally get tagged for this, but just in case I haven't shared quite enough weird things about myself, I figured I might play along anyway and make it a Friday Five. Six was a random and arbitrary number anyway, right? Besides that, if five isn't enough, take a look at my "100 Things" list. I'm sure at least one of those is certifiably weird. Here we go then... Five weird things about me.

    1. I like to visit IMDB every day just to see whose birthday it is and how old various celebrities are. I can tell I have been doing this for over a year, because I am starting to see names in the birthday box that I remember seeing before and thinking, "Oh that's right. She's the same age as I am" or "I still can't believe he's five years younger than me. No way."

    2. When I put in a DVD, I like to check what the special features are before I actually watch the movie. I don't select any of the special features before watching (hell, much of the time I don't even select them after watching the movie). For some reason, though, I just want to know what's there.

    3. I cannot remember at what temperature Fahrenheit freezing occurs. I know this is a very basic piece of information that 90% of third graders know. For some reason, my brain is incapable of retaining the data.

    4. I frequently don't get my hair cut until I'm already at least three weeks overdue for a cut. It isn't the money; it isn't that I'm so in love with the straggly and frayed ends. It is that for some reason, I hate calling to make appointments for anything. If I could do these sorts of thing online without ever speaking to a human, I would be happy. I also hate making idle small-talk with the stylist. Somehow I doubt the Internet can do anything to help me with that.

    5. At least three times a week, usually while filling my water bottle, a song from an old Sesame Street clip pops into my head and stays there for a few minutes. It was a song all about the wonders and benefits of drinking water, and the clip featured all sorts of live-action footage of people enjoying water in various settings and forms. I have searched unsuccessfully for this clip online, but I can find no evidence that it ever existed. Does anyone but me remember this?

      When it's hot and you're thirsty
      And your throat is dry
      Reach for the refreshment
      That comes to you from the sky!
      Drink wa-terrrrrr! (Wa-terrrrrrrr!)
      Come on, give it a try!

      If I knew you in person, I would sing this for you to prove that I even remember the tune for this song no one else can recall. Aren't you glad you don't know me in person now?