Saturday, March 31, 2007

Me + wine + complicated electronics. No good can come of this.

Translation? The box in which my much-mentioned birthday printer/scanner thingie came is now open. It has yet to leap out on its own, however, to connect and install itself. I can only assume this is because it is a refurbished model rather than a brand new one, since surely science and technology has advanced in this direction by now; has it not?

Incidentally, I have not told you this, Internets, but in the past month, I have gone on approximately eight dates with the same person. I know! Shocking, right? Unfortunately, when he asked what I was doing this weekend, I explained my plans for last night and then fabricated some imaginary plans for tonight.* In other words, I decided I would rather drink Cotes du Rhone alone in my yoga pants and gray hoodie and work on my instruction manual-reading skills than spend another evening with this man. That's not good, right? That's probably a clear-cut sign that I'm not feelin' it? I have problems, people. I just need to better pinpoint what they are.

[Note to any would-be helpful advice-givers out there: You really don't need to tell me what my problems are. Trust me; I have a rather lengthy list going on my own.]

OK, there is really no particular point to this post other than to procrastinate even longer on this likely very simple task--a task I should actually want to complete, as it benefits only me. Well, me and anyone just dying to see the much-hyped artist's rendering of my unfortunate blue satin discount prom dress from Deb. I will really have to find some excuse to visit my parents sometime before Thanksgiving. I highly doubt I can do justice to such things on my own.

Who was it who said staying in on Saturday night is the new Going Out? I'm so all over that, obviously.


* In truth, I had some tentative maybe-plans for this evening, but rainy weather and my sporadically antisocial nature made me decide to skip out on those.

Friday, March 30, 2007

And the hits just keep on coming

Man, I don't know where all this uncharacteristic positivity came from, but somehow the good week just keeps on going... Don't worry; I'm sure my usual cynicism and surliness will return next week, when MnDOT will be shutting down and ripping apart a crucial and hard-to-detour-around portion of my daily commute... and keeping it shut down and ripped apart until 2008!!! Because I am an entirely present-oriented person who rarely looks ahead or worries much about the future, I put all notices about this planned construction out of my mind, as if failing to acknowledge it would somehow make it go away. You know the drill: insert fingers in ears, close your eyes, and chant, "Nah nah nah; I can't hear you!" Apparently this avoidance tactic does not work with the Department of Transportation, unfortunately. The big orange barrels have been laid on the shoulder of the road, just waiting to step into position... lurking there as a menacing and taunting reminder of what's soon to come. Send good vibes of inner peace for me, OK? It's going to be a rough ten months or so.

That's next week, however. This week I am still feeling strangely Zen and decidedly upbeat. I've actually even found a few more things to add to the growing list of reasons life does not suck. Yesterday, for example, I realized that the one portion of my usual responsibilities at That Place About Which We Do Not Blog that aggravates me the most--the one putsy and annoying task I do each week that should in no way be particularly odious or annoying and yet for some reason antagonizes me no end--is something I do not have to do for this upcoming week. I consulted my schedule, and for once, for this next week, that task does not apply. Whoo! This just means, of course, more time spent idling away on the Internet (read: remaining wholly productive and on-task with entirely more important things), but that is OK with me.

I also discovered yesterday that not only do I get to see the handsome and talented Mason Jennings perform tonight, but his opening act is one Mr. Alexi Murdoch, whom I tried to see last month but did not get myself in gear for soon enough and hence, found myself ticketless for an unexpectedly sold-out show. So, bonus! Double-bill! I could not be more pleased about this.

And finally, last night I had a lovely time on my "blate" with -R-. Our flighty and distracted waitress (whom I'll call Ursula, even though she was a tiny, near-elderly Japanese lady instead of a 20-something played by Lisa Kudrow) may have shorted us on a soup and appetizer, but we still had plenty of sushi and green tea ice cream anyway. And then we went down the street for an after-dinner drink, where we were jointly hit on by a socially awkward middle-aged man who said we were both "very attractive girls." Wait. Scratch that. I wouldn't say he exactly "hit on" us. Essentially, he asked permission to hit on us (we declined the offer, explaining that we were just about to leave). He may have been slightly smarmy and lecherous, but at least he was considerate and polite. Have to give him credit for that, wouldn't you agree?

On the way back to our cars, I turned to -R- and said, "I need a Friday Five topic for tomorrow! Give me a category, -R-!" To which -R- replied, ever-so-helpfully, "You should do Five reasons -R- is awesome."

OK, she didn't say "-R-," of course. (In particular, she did not pronounce the hyphens.) But I am not sure she wants me to out her by real name on my blog, so we'll just pretend I call her by blog alias in person as well. Considering I continually have to resist the urge to refer to her husband as "H" (despite the fact that his real name does not even start with an H), this really isn't so far-fetched an idea. Anyway, so I won't quote -R- directly and repeat her name here, but I will take her suggestion, because... well, why not? -R- is, in fact, awesome. And here are five reasons why.

  1. She has all sorts of cute shoes.

  2. She's not above making fun of people. Particularly when they deserve it.

  3. She said I can borrow her husband any time I need to have the illusion of having a man in my life. I just can't borrow him for "making-out purposes." (I am OK with that extra qualifier. It's only fair, I think.)

  4. She is a blog rock star who successfully launched an awesomely amusing Internet phenomenon. Just look at all the people willingly posting photos of themselves in all their sequined and crinolined and Aqua-netted glory!

  5. She's all about putting people in a box. No, really. (Sometimes don't we all just need to be categorized?)

OK, I just re-read that list and realized it probably does not adequately or accurately summarize -R- in any particularly flattering sort of way. You will just have to trust me that in person, she is fun and smart and nice and has plenty of other fine attributes (beyond generic one-syllable adjectives) as well... like the fact that she routinely makes use of public transport. And that she impressively knows her way around the Minneapolis skyways. And that she has lived in approximately 17 different states. And that she likes libraries almost as much as I do. So. -R- is cool. (-R-, feel free to tell -H- I said so.) And this concludes my Friday Five for the week.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's the little things

This week has actually been a pretty excellent week...

On Monday's season finale of that show no one but me is watching, Brian for once kissed a perfectly nice, well-mannered, and smart girl, instead of a flighty or infuriating one. Yay! I don't care if current-girlfriend has the same name as me; I still cannot stand that woman.

On Tuesday, I had a lovely home-cooked dinner without actually having to do any cooking myself. (The Magical Boy's got some serious mad culinary skillz... I believe he wants me to mention that publicly in the hopes that "[his] stock," as he calls it, will climb).

Last night, I saw the Guthrie's production of The Merchant of Venice (por gratis, no less, courtesy of a boy who has twice now shared the other half of his season tickets with me).

And yesterday when I returned from lunch, there was a package from Amazon waiting on my desk--a belated birthday gift from Poppy, who scouted out my wish list and decided to send a surprise. She is awesome; is she not? (Thanks, Poppy!)

Whee! Presents!

I will NOT, in fact, beat your ass.

Incidentally, is it a sign that you've "made it" as a blogger when you start receiving "blifts"?* Actually, no, that's getting ahead of myself more than a bit. I think you've "made it" as a blogger when your blog starts paying your mortgage, and that's not something that's bound to occur at any point in my life.

The good week will presumably continue tonight, as I have a "blate" with -R- for a movable feast at the sushi-boat buffet. And then tomorrow it's off to see Minnesota boy Mason Jennings** at First Avenue with my good pal Lisa.

All in all an excellent week, right?

And yet, despite all those very good things going on, do you know what made me the most happy of all this week? The thing that sent joy and relief to the core of my soul for more than a brief moment or two? That'd be the fact that the left shoe in my beloved pair of brown Danskos, which has been making a bothersome and embarrassing squeaking noise with each step ever since approximately the third week I owned these shoes (shoes that were far too expensive to stop wearing simply because they make me feel like an old lady in orthopedic footwear... or worse, a mild-mannered psychopath hiding out at a photo-mat), finally and suddenly stopped squeaking!

Consequently, the thing that made my heart sink and hit me with a shot of disappointment unparalleled in my life of late? When that damn shoe started squeaking yet again.

Sigh. I should have known it couldn't last, right?


* That'd be "blog gifts," for those of you who haven't yet incorporated this whole "merge the bl- prefix" thing into your lexicon.

** Who I recently learned is married to a girl from a neighboring hometown, who I actually met at several parties in 12th grade but who I'm sure has no recollection whatsoever of having any idea who I am.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Apparently I'm so desperate for a topic that I'm posting other people's baby photos. (I promise I won't make a habit of this.)

Hey there! How are you? Guess what I have still not done yet? If you guessed "Hooked up your new scanner?" then you are smart. Or I am predictably lazy. Frankly, both are quite good possibilities, I must say. Is anyone still actually waiting for the inevitably disappointing artist's rendering of my royal blue Hee-Haw dress or Miss Prom Pants's triangle hair? I didn't think so. Moving on then.

In lieu of any prom-related photos or drawings, how about we take a decidedly different turn and pretend this is a knitting blog again for a bit? GG showed off her baby-blanket-in-progress yesterday, so I think I will just pretend that was a meme and show you the one I recently finished as well. Here it is:

I started this a couple months ago and actually completed the bulk of it while watching some very inappropriate-for-small-children things on DVD. If you consult my movie list for early January, you'll see that during the time I was knitting this, I watched Pulp Fiction, The Last Kiss, the Enron documentary, and Kids. I sincerely hope that this blanket is in no way now tainted by its unintentional association with extreme violence, infidelity, corporate greed and corruption, rampant drug abuse, and loose sexual morals as a result.

I shared this concern with Darren a few weeks ago, and he offered the very good suggestion that I wrap the blanket around my TV and leave it on PBS all day while I'm at work in the hopes that some wholesome programming would somehow set things right. Instead, I guess I am just going to trust that the sweetness that is the tiny recipient of the blanket will overcome its shady beginnings. I mean, just look at this little guy. He could warn off all bad blanket juju, don't you think?

I handed over the blanket at a party held in this little man's honor Sunday. Can you believe he didn't even have the decency to stay awake for it? The nerve. He did wake up eventually, however... just in time for his Barynya practice.

(FYI: No, I did not know the word "Barynya" on my own. I'll admit I looked it up. Surprisingly, it's not as easy as you might think to find the proper name for "Russian dance with lots of squatting and jumping." Luckily, I've got mad Google skillz.)

In this one, I'm pretty sure little Will is saying, "Hey dude, got some spare change? Come on, help a brother out." (I guess Barynya doesn't really pay the bills, after all.)

And in this one, it seems he's saying, "Gah! Get me away from this lady!" Or possibly, "Hey, is that a cookie you've got back there? A Tagalong, perhaps? Can I have me some of that?"

OK, frankly I'm not all that great at putting words in infants' mouths, so I'll stop this nonsense now. There's a reason I wasn't a co-writer on Look Who's Talking, after all (and that reason wasn't only the fact that it was a dreadful and mind-numbing movie... nor that I was only 15 when it came out and, believe it or not, was not any sort of child screen-writing genius in demand by TriStar and all its subsidiaries).

Anyway, the shower was lovely, with fine snacks and only two silly games--neither of which I won, thankfully (the enormous canisters of Kahlua- and Baileys-filled chocolates looked like an awesomely tasty prize, but me and the extra eight pounds I'm carrying around lately really don't need that sort of temptation in our home). And little Will is pretty much near perfect, I guess, which seems only fitting considering what cool parents he's got. Congratulations, J and D. I'm sure you've lots of fun times with him ahead.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Potato is an entree?

Those of you coming in through Bloglines or Google Reader, do you actually pay attention when the "Movies I've seen this year" list displays as an updated post? If not, that's cool; I'm tracking that more for my own neurotic love of lists than anything else. On the off chance that any of you do peruse it, however, I feel compelled to clarify that the Kicking and Screaming I watched on Friday night was not this one from last year, starring the one and only Will Ferrell. Not that there'd be anything to be ashamed of if I had spent one of my four precious Netflix rentals for the month on a simple-minded slapstick movie to which Rotten Tomatoes gives a whopping 44% Rotten rating... After all, I apparently had few qualms with admitting I'd used a Netflix choice to see High School Musical, so obviously it's not like I have much pride.

In any case, the Kicking and Screaming I did see this weekend was this one, from 1995. To be fair, the Rotten Tomatoes critics didn't like this film by the same name much better (it pulled in a mere 53% rating on the site), but if they'd asked me to weigh in, it would have a much higher ranking than that.

So anyway, I'm wondering now... has everybody but me already seen this movie? If so, why didn't anyone tell me about it? If not, why didn't we know about it twelve years ago when it was released? Why didn't it fall into the canon of classic young adult slacker angst movies, alongside Reality Bites, Singles, Say Anything, Dazed and Confused, and Empire Records? Why didn't I watch it over and over with my friends, until it became one of those endlessly quotable movies that inexplicably bonds the people who've seen and related to it and perpetually annoys the people who haven't? I mean, come on... consider the evidence...

Oh! I'll tell you the worst thing about losing a foot... Hey, man!

- Is that a pajama top?
- No! ... Yes.

Oh, I've been to Prague. Well, I haven't been to Prague, "been to Prague," but I know that thing... That "stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, fall in love with a sculptor, now I realize how bad American coffee is" thing.

- How about worst case scenarios after graduation?
- Heart attack.
- Live in Milwaukee.

Go away, Cookie Man.

Oh great! A dictionary! I'm gonna look up "blowjob."

I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I've begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I'm reminiscing this right now. I can't go to the bar because I've already looked back on it in my memory, and I didn't have a good time.

Look at this. There's like... food in here. There's food in the beer... It looks like a chicken wing, or a cheese fry.

- I hope you don't mind that I took my shirt off.
- Well, maybe just this once.

Potato is an entree?

I like that you drink. I like a bartender who drinks. Otherwise, I feel like I'm being poisoned.

Hold it. I'm having one of those times when my name sounds weird to me.

And my personal favorite...

- I gotta go. I gotta sleep with a freshman.
- OK, me too. Bye-bye.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Five: Five songs I cannot stop listening to*

There's a music meme going around lately, wherein you're supposed to list seven (or more, if you're Poppy) songs that you're particularly into right now. I honestly cannot think of seven songs on my must-hear list, mostly because aside from when I'm at the gym, I am primarily a radio gal, and the radio station I listen to** makes a deep and concerted effort to avoid frequent repetition of the same songs multiple times a day (or even a week). With that sort of variety, it's hard to fixate on any one thing too much. That said, however, here are five songs to which I currently cannot stop listening.

  1. Another Train (The Poozies) - I had never heard of The Poozies (They do not even have a Wikipedia page! Even my neighbor has a Wikipedia page! But that's a story for a different time...), but my good friend Guinness Girl included this song as the lead track on the famous GG mix she wrote about a while back, and I immediately fell in love with it. I have memorized all but approximately three words of the lyrics (which are awesome, by the way... not just the three words I keep forgetting, I mean, but all of the lyrics combined), and I routinely belt them out in my car, onlookers be-damned. I am a terrible singer, and yet, this is such an easy song to sing along with, I can actually fancy myself (briefly, anyway) a pitch-perfect harmonizer. Also, I cannot listen to this song just one time through. I am entirely incapable of that sort of moderation. Instead, I wait for the final note and then immediately hit the "Back" button on my CD player to start it over again. Yes, I drive alone 99% of the time. Why do you ask?

  2. Pull Shapes (The Pipettes) - This one was also on the GG mix, but it's in regular rotation on the radio now as well. Each time I hear it, I feel like teasing my hair into a bouffant and going to a sock hop, and for some reason, that makes me smile.

  3. Party Hard (Andrew W.K.) - I know. I KNOW! Andrew W.K.? Really?? Yes, really. I am not a 19-year-old frat boy, and I wouldn't ordinarily pay any attention to someone who names his album I Get Wet (Ewww!) nor who includes on that album three (yes, three!) songs with the word "Party" in the title (one of which also includes the word "Puke," no less... again, ewww). But this song? How can you listen to this song and not move your body immediately? I am not a runner... If I go for the treadmill rather than the elliptical at the gym, it's generally for a brisk walk with maybe some brief jogging intervals mixed in (no more than four minutes at a time, and no faster than 5.2 mph). With this song on my not-iPod last week, though, I made it up to 5.8 mph, just so I could pound my feet with the fast and steady beat of the song, and I kept it at that pace for the full duration of the track. This is seriously my new favorite workout song. I don't care what anyone else says. Also, the fact that I am currently in love with this ridiculous song brings me peace in some strange way... It's a song I completely forgot about, because it's included on a "Rock mix" that I stopped listening to because my ex-boyfriend made it for me. That I can now listen to that mix without any hard feelings or sad associations is progress, I believe. And the fact that Andrew W.K. is who got me thinking about this? Well, hey, maybe he is a deep and serious thinker after all.*** Who knew?

  4. How to Save a Life (The Fray) - I hadn't listened to this album in a while, but when I called it up again the other day, I found that, much like the song in #1 above, I can't listen to this track just once without immediately backing up and hearing it over again. Yes, it's a little old by now. Yes, I still love it. So what.

  5. LDN (Lily Allen) - I don't even know what the hell "LDN" means (someone fill me in, please?), but every time this song comes on when I'm at home, I have to stop whatever I'm doing and dance around my living room. And not even good dancing. Not dancing that is in any way fit for public viewing. It involves a lot of ridiculous bopping. There may even be some kicking and leaping. Remember the infamous Elaine dance on Seinfeld? Yeah, she's got nothing on me.

    Edit: OK, apparently I should do some research before I ask questions for which the answers are readily available. LDN = London. Duh.

OK, now it's your turn... What song do you have on constant rewind/loop these days?


* Yes, I know I am risking having my Poppy Award revoked for ending a post title with a preposition, but we'll call it artistic license, OK? (Much like the topic itself is artistic license, as I am not literally playing any of these songs over and over with the sort of irrational insistence on repetition usually reserved for three-year-olds...)

** Oh, how I heart you, The Current. Whatever did I do before you came along? Please don't ever leave me.

*** Credit to Malia for pointing me to this in her sidebar-blog a while back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This time, when I say "prom," I really MEAN prom.*

So my buddy -R- posted a challenge earlier today. The mission (if you choose to accept it) is to post a photo of yourself at your high school prom. I do enjoy a challenge free blog topic, and since I have a brand-new (or rather, refurbished--presumably good as new at half the price) printer/scanner contraption thingie, this seems like an excellent bandwagon on which to jump. But you see, here is the problem with that plan. I am far too lazy busy and popular to have actually unboxed and set up my new printer/scanner thingie just yet. And since I rarely have a problem without also enumerating several subproblems, I should also note that I was disappointed to discover this evening that the bulk of my youth and embarrassing formative years are woefully underrepresented in the photo albums within my home. On my bookshelves at the moment, I have one baby album that my mother passed along to me a few years ago, but the next most recent photos are from my college years. Short of my high school yearbooks, the big-banged teenage years do not exist anywhere in my home, nor do the awkward, gangly-kneed, brace-faced years of junior high. I'm sure you are heartily disappointed. I am as well; I swear. I shall have to remedy this situation the next time I'm at my parents' house.

Just because I can't show you a picture of prom, however, doesn't mean I can't tell you about it, right? I did go to my high school's prom (twice, actually), but I'm fairly certain my prom experience was decidedly unlike the typical teenager's. A few people in -R-'s comments objected to the prom photo challenge on the grounds that they were dateless for prom and therefore did not go. I was dateless as well, but I went anyway (with some equally dateless friends), due to some likely ridiculous and unfounded fear that I might regret it someday if I did not. I hated every aspect of prom planning, and yet somehow I was not reckless and indie enough to proclaim, proudly and resolutely, "I will not go!"

I have various memories of my prom... memories I'm having a hard time crafting into any sort of cohesive narrative, and therefore I will resort to the convention of the lazy--the bullet-point list.

  • The dress--I went dress-shopping with my mother, who took me not just to the mall, but to several popular bridal shoppes** in the area as well. In retrospect, I think perhaps my hesitance and aversion to commitment possibly stems from a goal to avoid the sort of uncomfortable experiences I had in the fitting rooms at these ever-so-helpful bridal shoppes. I was used to taking items off the rack and into a fitting room to decide the suitability of an outfit myself. Having a nosy, commissioned bridal shoppe lady barge in and hoist my breasts into position was not something I felt prepared for in any way. Equally unprepared was I for the woman with the clipboard at the sales counter, asking, "Now, what school do you go to? And what is your date's name?" Apparently they had some sort of arrangement that aimed to prevent any two girls in the same school from showing up in the same dress. As I had no date (and didn't really care if one other girl in my class chose the same dress), I was entirely mortified by this clipboard and the permanent documentation of my datelessness it implied. "Maybe she just doesn't want to go to prom," the sales lady suggested to my mother in the face of my reticence. "Oh, how right you are," I remember thinking in reply. In the end, I chose a hideous royal blue satin number from Deb, of all places. Ever practical even as a teenager, I saw no need to spend $200+ on a dress I was not crazy about, when a $50 dress I hated would serve the purpose just as well. The dress I chose I called my "Hee-Haw dress" because of its ruffled off-the-shoulder design and unflattering drop-waist. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure I have any photos of me in this dress in my personal photo collection; that is how insignificant it truly was to me at the time.

  • The date--I've already established that I went stag, but let's review my path to choosing that route, shall we? I actually was asked to prom... by two different guys, no less. Date prospect #1 was a good friend of mine with whom I had a long-forgotten arrangement to attend prom with, should we both be dateless at the time. He called me one night, saying, "So... I know you said you were going to go to prom with [insert names of various single friends with whom I'd formed a collective here], but I was just thinking... would you want to go with me instead?" I remember stammering and coming up with some completely ludicrous reason to get off the phone. (I actually think I used the excuse that the ice cream I'd just dished out for myself was melting--that was how lame I was at that moment.) From what I heard, this perfectly nice guy asked no fewer than five other girls to prom before finally finding a date. It became sort of a cruel and twisted joke among my friends, and yet, I held some absurd pride in the fact that he asked me first!

    The second boy to ask was a pimply-face nobody with whom I shared a homeroom class. In the interest of fairness, I'll say that I was, at the time, at least 20 pounds heavier than I am now, even with the slowing metabolism of my mid-30s clearly staring me in the face, and yet, I still say to this guy that I was clearly and entirely well out of his league. The fact that he had no right to ask me was compounded by the way he asked... "I'd take you, if you want," he said in homeroom one day. As if it was a favor to me... as if it was an offer I couldn't possibly hope to match. I may be being cruel, but bruised egos have a way of doing that, I think. If I were truly cruel, I'd post his full name here, for all the Internet to see. I'm not doing that, however. But I still say, what the fuck?

  • The not-my-date--There actually was someone who I wanted to go to prom with, above all others, and, deciding I could be a modern woman who goes after what she wants, I got uncharacteristically bold and actually asked him myself. Unfortunately, I couldn't do so without first running the idea past a few of our mutual friends... friends who were not the gate-keepers to sensitive information that I might obviously have hoped they'd be. When I finally got around to asking this guy to prom, here's how the conversation basically went...

    Me: Hey. Can I talk to you a minute? There's something I want to ask you.
    Him: Oh boy. I think I know what this is about.
    Me: You do? Um, what do you think I'm going to ask you?
    Him: You want me to go with you to prom?
    Me: Uh... Yeah. But... um, you don't have to say "yes" if you don't want to... and it doesn't have to be a real date. We can say it's just as friends...
    Him: Well, can I say "maybe"?
    Me: Sure. You can say "maybe." You know... yeah... whatever...

    He never mentioned it again, and on prom night, he showed up with a girl from the class below ours, who had triangular-shaped hair and who wore some sort of weird dress pants beneath her skirt. But I somehow feel I've already written about this at some point. Oh yeah. I guess I have.

So that's basically prom in a nutshell for me, minus the reporting on the colors and the theme (which I'll readily admit I could not remember if someone placed a gun to my head to recall) and the listing of the court members and my thoughts on each of them. If I had my new scanner up and running, I might actually attempt an artistic rendering of my hideous dress (or of the dreamy boy who refused my frail wallflower's invitation to be my date), but as that new toy is still sitting in my living room sealed tightly within its box, that sort of creative expression will simply have to wait. If you're up for -R-'s photodocumenting challenge, however, leave a note in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

* I thought this warranted clarification, considering "prom" is now code-word for something entirely different as well.

** Note the "two-p's-and-an-e" spelling... ever important for every reputable participant in this racket.

Monday, March 19, 2007

33rd and 2nd

As you may recall, yesterday was my birthday. It was also Queen Latifah's birthday and Dane Cook's birthday and Bonnie Blair's birthday as well. I don't know any of them, however, so let's just focus on me. Unless you'd rather focus on gay prom* star Brandon Lee, with whom Wikipedia tells me I also share my day. If you'd rather focus on him, however, then frankly this probably isn't the blog for you, so move along then; on your way.

My birthday wasn't all that different from any other Sunday... I slept in, fed my Internet addiction for a while, took a walk, did some laundry... you know, the usual. Unlike the average Sunday, however, I ended the day by rounding up ten friends for dinner. If you're surprised I managed to rally that large a group on a Sunday night (particularly the Sunday immediately following St. Patrick's Day), then you're not alone. I was pretty surprised by the turnout myself. Unfortunately, although I had my camera with me, I entirely forgot to remove it from my purse, so you'll just have to take my word on this even without any photodocumentation.

Despite the indisputable fact that birthdays get less and less eventful every year, I still had a fine evening and received some lovely gifts. (Note to the "real-lifers" reading: Big thank you to everyone who attended for your company and for all the fun treats, cards, and presents you brought.) As suspected, I got a new printer/scanner contraption from my family, which means that on the rare occasion that I decide to print something at home, I can now do so in presumably true-to-life, non-distorted colors and without unpredictable streaks across each page. More important, with my new scanner, I can maybe start posting fun and revealing things like embarrassing photos from my youth--something that seems to be popular around the blogosphere. Really you can't wait, I'm sure.

From my good friend Jamie, I received a Choose Your Own Adventure book that for some reason apparently made her think of me. I didn't even know anyone was still publishing Choose Your Own Adventure books; did you? But look! Here it is. Who knew.

24 different endings!

Jamie also took the hints I blatantly dropped and got me an adorable little Unazukin doll just like the one pictured here...

Cuter than a Magic 8 ball

She may be less reliable than The Google, but she's certainly cuter as well. I've named her Clara, mainly because she said she didn't like my first suggestion (Brigita) nor my second one (Annika), but when I asked if she'd like to be called Clara, she nodded twice enthusiastically. OK then, little one. Clara it is.

Frankly I think I'm going to like having Clara around. She's already helping me make some all-important life decisions. She decided, for example, that I should have a baked potato for dinner tonight, but more notably, she provided her obviously sage insight on a little dilemma I've had stewing in my brain...**

Me: Does [redacted] still like me?
Clara: [nods twice]
Me: Really? Even though I acted like an idiot yesterday?
Clara: [nods once]
Me: Does [redacted #2] still like me?
Clara: [nods twice]
Me: You're saying they both like me?
Clara: [nods]
Me: Should I date [redacted]?
Clara: [nods]
Me: Should I date [redacted #2]?
Clara: [nods]
Me: You're saying I should date both of them?
Clara: [nods twice]
Me: Well, OK then...

I realize that is a suspicious amount of nodding, so you are right to suspect that perhaps all Clara can do is agree. To test her further, however, I asked if I should have gone out with "Med" one more time, and I got a resolute double head shake on that. So nope; she's working. And she's got some interesting advice.

Anyway, all in all it was a fine birthday. While I'm not crazy about the knowledge that I'm quickly approaching middle age, I actually feel better and happier than I did last year at this time, or the year before that as well, so I really can't complain too much.

While doing my laundry yesterday, I popped in my well-worn VHS of Bridget Jones's Diary. I remembered that when I first saw that movie (and when I first read the book), I was years younger than Bridget, and I took some small comfort in the thought that I had plenty of time before I would be deemed a "tragic spinster" like her. Yesterday, as I waited for the scene where a depressed and down-trodden Bridget recites her birthday entry ("Weight: 135 pounds***. Birthday: 33"), I fully expected to feel depressed along with her for a bit. But you know what? I didn't. Life's more or less pretty good. In the past year, I have made some excellent new friends (and held on to plenty of fabulous old ones as well). I finally let go of and made peace with some things I should have let go of and made peace with a long, long time ago. I've learned a lot. I've laughed a lot. And, if I am to believe Clara, I have two boys who like me. Maybe I'm just catching the unexpected optimism spreading around the Internet, but really, at the moment, I am feeling finally more than just OK.

I said in my New Year's entry that I wished the new year would start in the spring, when it's easier to think of a better life and new beginnings because we're not trapped in the gray bleakness of January. It didn't occur to me at the time, I guess, that my birthday starts a new year, too. So happy new year to me. Here's hoping 33 has all sorts of good things in store.

Know who else has a birthday this week (today, actually, if my post-dating and record-keeping can be deemed reliable)? My blog. Yep, Stefanie Says turned two today. Like any two-year-old, she throws the occasional tantrum (which, frankly, could have more to do with being hosted on Blogger than with being two years old) and like any two-year-old, she's occasionally silent and occasionally rambles on and on nonsensically for her own amusement. I could take this analogy further, but Red already did that a few months back, and did so in more clever words than mine. So I'll just stop here and say thanks for reading and thanks for all your support and fun comments the past year. As always, you guys are the best.

* Code word to deter unscrupulous Googlers. Thanks, Metalia.

** Intentionally cryptic conversation. Sorry, but at the moment you'll get no more details from me than this.

*** This may be the wrong number, as despite how many times I've seen this movie, I'll admit I don't have the full text committed to memory. But I'm far too lazy to fast forward through the tape again to ensure full accuracy here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

We can't work it out

When I was a kid, my grandmother volunteered two days a week at her local St. Vincent de Paul store. Do they have St. Vincent de Paul stores everywhere? Maybe not. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, think Goodwill or Salvation Army. Same basic idea, I believe.

Anyway, my grandmother and her sister, my great-aunt, volunteered there two days a week, which meant they were supposed to go through the giant bins of clothing and toys and household items that people had donated, weed out anything not worth selling, and organize and price the remaining stuff for display on the sales floor.

What they actually did was raid and pilfer the bins for things that caught their eye and then burrow those items away before their volunteer supervisor could see. Not because the supervisor frowned on petty theft from charity organizations, mind you, but because (the way my grandma told it), she was a mean old biddy who wanted all the best stuff for herself.

Because of this ethically questionable racket, I did not receive any new (brand-new, from-a-proper-retail-establishment-new) clothing from the time shortly after I was born until I reached the fifth grade. Everyone with an older sister had hand-me-downs, but my hand-me-downs weren't just passed on from my sister; they were first worn by some other girl I'd never met, a girl whose grandmother presumably bought her pretty dresses instead of just stuffing them in her big purse alongside the sugar packets she'd snagged during lunch. Not that I minded, I suppose. At the time, it actually didn't even occur to me that this arrangement was in any way abnormal. New clothes were new clothes, and these were new-to-me, anyway. (Is this what it's like to be part of a crime family? Did A.J. Soprano grow up thinking his home life was mundane? Food for thought, I suppose, isn't it?)

Eventually, as I got older, I realized that it was actually possible to pick and choose your outfits from racks and racks of current styles. I did not have to cross my fingers and pray that someone would grow prematurely tired of her lilac-colored stirrup pants and toss them in a donation bin while they were still fully in style. No, I just had to convince my mother to take me to Kohl's or JC Penney instead of waiting for a bounty from my grandma. Easier said than done, of course.

How I felt about St. Vincent de Paul during my early years is basically how I feel about my gym right now. It has never really occurred to me to complain about my gym. The membership is free, courtesy of my employer, provided I go eight or more times a month. It's reasonably clean, reasonably well-equipped, and the number of meatheads and Barbie dolls there is minimal. It's the only gym I've ever attended, and with nothing to compare it to, I thought I had it OK. Until lately. Lately, lots of people have been writing about the little perks of their gyms, and I'm more than a bit aghast by what I'm hearing. Seriously... Movie theaters? Free pizza night? Your own personal TV?? Oh, the humanity. The injustice. I have none of these things. Is this how the other half lives, or is it actually how everyone but me lives? I have seen a glimpse of a better life (or, a better gym, anyway), and frankly, my gym now sucks by comparison.

My annoyance started with the towels, I think. I know in that pile behind the front desk are a number of thick, fluffy, bright-white towels large enough to cover all my most sensitive parts. Receiving one of those is like winning some small-scale lottery, however, because for every day I am lucky enough to wind up a proper and respectable towel I also have to endure six more days with a shrunken, threadbare, dingy gray towel that requires some possibly unintentionally alluring maneuvers in order to simultaneously cover both my knockers* and my ass.

Then there are the showers. At some point in the past few months, something seems to have happened with the showers (or with the water heaters that fuel the showers), because suddenly the hot water that should be a given is instead a rare commodity. Nearly all the women who shower there have figured out that the second stall from the left is the only one to reliably provide hot water, and as such, that stall is nearly always occupied. I now find myself hurrying through lukewarm showers actually praying for someone to flush a toilet, because the flushes that used to subsequently scald me are now the only thing that makes hot water flow from the showerhead for a bit.

My main complaint is the TVs, however. Have I mentioned the TVs before? Oh yes. It seems I have. To recap, however, at my gym, we have no personal televisions on each machine. If you want to watch something to pass the time while on the treadmill or elliptical, you have exactly five choices: CNN, Fox News, NBC, CBS, or ESPN. No Comedy Central. No Lifetime Movie Network. No All-Friends channel. None of that. Since I generally work out over lunch or after work, this limits my choices to news, fake propaganda news, talk shows, soap operas, or sports. I'm not proud to admit that I actually have a working understanding of the current plot lines on Days of Our Lives, but given those options, can you blame me?

So. Inferior towels, lukewarm showers, and a sadly limited TV channel selection. These are three things currently making me somewhat unhappy with my gym. Since it is Friday, how about I rattle on with five more?

Five things that have annoyed me lately at my gym
  1. Although this shouldn't really affect me, it somehow bothers me just on principle that any woman would pay as much for a lovely pair of Danskos as I paid for mine and then would leave them atop the locker room coat rack for six full weeks or more. I have been tempted (embarrassingly tempted) to snag these abandoned Danskos for myself (as their rightful owner clearly wouldn't miss them by this point), but unfortunately, (A. They are one size too big for me and (B. Last week, I noticed a similarly abandoned pair of purple underwear resting atop them for several days. Oddly, the underwear are now gone. The Danskos, though? Still there. My memory of the underwear, however, remains, and if my scruples won't prevent me from stealing someone else's shoes, the thought of underwear contamination surely will.

  2. I'm not honestly in any sort of scoping mode while working out, and I don't really think the gym is where I'm going to meet the man for me. Still, why are the cool hipster guys with the nice hair and the retro t-shirts always the ones with the wedding bands? And why are the balding men with the "egg on legs" physique**, wearing the tapered-cut running pants and baggy long-sleeved t-shirts always the ring-less guys whose eyes wander over to me?

  3. Yet another of life's pressing questions is this: when the gym provides free childcare during your workout, why wouldn't you just leave your kids there another 15 minutes while you change and get ready to leave? I really don't want my breasts to be the first ones not attached to a blood relative that any child sees, but the slack-jawed gawking by toddlers isn't even what really annoys me in the locker room. Far worse are the kids playing tag around the benches while their mother idly turns the other way. I'm not a parent, of course, so maybe I'm more easily annoyed than is necessary or warranted. But still. Free nursery! Use it, please!

  4. Since this list has suddenly taken on a question format, I'd like to ask one of the woman who came late into the step class the other night. Why, ma'am, when there are numerous wide-open spaces for you in any of a number of locations around the aerobics studio, why would you pick the approximately 36-inch space between my step and the one to my right and position yourself there, wedged in between the two of us? Why? No, really, WHY? You're in my dance space, sister, and I was here first. Step off and move elsewhere, OK?

  5. I ain't no Hollaback Girl, and I'm really not a fan of having "Go! Bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!" in my head on constant loop after each aerobics class I attend. In other words, the instructors at my gym need a new CD. Prefererably one with nothing recognizable nor catchy on it at all. (And by the way, if I just implanted that refrain in someone else's head as well, I do apologize. Really I do. Welcome to my brain, though. Fun, isn't it?)

* No, I can't believe I just typed this either, but I stared at the screen for a full 30 seconds trying to decide just which word to use, and for some reason this one seemed both the least clinical and least offensive. Substitute some other euphemism if you prefer; we all have our favorites, I'm sure.

** "Egg on legs"= round, egg-shaped torso with skinny chicken legs. Surely you know the look to which I refer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This book is better than my half-assed review of it. You'll just have to trust me on that.

I finished The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters last weekend. I enjoyed it enough to mark it with a "~" on my Books page, but here is where I prove myself unworthy of my English degree (much less my occasional fantasy of a career as a book or movie critic) because now that I'm sitting down to try to convey why I liked it, I'm pretty much coming up blank.

The book is a series of letters*, and I'm sort of fascinated by that form, by how Robinson managed to tell a cohesive story (or rather, set of stories) through a series of one-sided letters to a handful of people. For me, it got a little tedious by the end, but I'll admit that likely had more to do with my slow pace in reading it than with any flaw in the book itself.

I marked the passages I liked as I read, but I quickly realized that most of those passages have little impact out of context. Here's a brief sampling, though, anyway.

My mother actually thinks she's an authority on parenting. Can you believe that? Look at me! Look at Jim! ... Maybe we're all born with a protective mental coating like a pomegranate seed has, an invisible placenta that prevents reality from piercing our tender brains, that allows us to fool ourselves until our last breath, that lets us actually believe that one day we'll be discovered and one day we'll be rich, one day the world will see our hidden genius, that lets me believe that somewhere in the recesses of your sweet heart and hard head you still care for me.

I was arguing with my mother about false hope the other day. I said hope is neither false nor true but a kind of happiness in itself, a fuel that carries us toward our dreams. You feel better when you're knee-deep in hope for something, whether it's for the love of someone, for a promotion, for a baby, for a clean bill of health...

I'd include more, but to set up the quote with the explanation of why I appreciated it would take more energy than my tired head is feeling able to muster at the moment. If you you want to know more about this one (and you can ignore the rampant misuse of "it's" vs. "its" and the occasional comment from a lunatic nitpicking against small offenses of artistic license and the like), then the reviews at Amazon might be immeasurably more helpful than I.

Two more thoughts, though, before I quit my babbling and just call it a night. First, if you have any intention of reading this book and you haven't read Don Quixote, you might want to do that first. No, I take that back. I haven't actually read Don Quixote myself, and as it's one of those books deemed among the "most important works of influential literature," it may actually be painful and tediously boring.** Instead then, you might want to read the Wikipedia recap of Don Quixote. It didn't occur to me to seek this out until I was nearly finished with The Hunt Sisters, and I really think I could have glossed over a little less of the "shop talk" if I had. (Throughout the novel, the narrator is trying to get a film production of Quixote made, and all the discussions of script re-writes and plot revisions would have made a lot more sense to me had I actually been familiar with that story in any way.)

I said there were two thoughts, didn't I? Oh yeah. Here's the second. I'd like to thank -R- for the additional subtext inadvertently contributed to the story as I read pages 67-69***, during which the narrator gets serenaded by an actor and his banjo as a precursor to... she knows not what. I read that, and, thanks to a story -R- told a few months back, all I could think was "Banjo Sex!" So thanks, -R-, for that. No really; thanks a lot. Incidentally, can you believe you are not the #1 Google hit for the search term "banjo sex"? That's gotta be disappointing, I have to say. I wonder how many times I would have to type that to make myself the #1 hit instead...

Banjo sex. Banjo sex. Banjo sex.

That oughta do it, don't you think?

* Which those of you smarter (and more worthy of your English degrees) than I might know is called an epistolary novel. (I'll admit I just learned that word myself shortly after starting this example of the form.)

** I've already admitted twice in one post that I might need to surrender my English degree. Might as well go one further by claiming that not everything in the canon is in any way actually enjoyable to read.

*** Of the hard-bound first edition; my apologies if page numbers don't correlate in other versions.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Saturday night

Him: I hope that's your lip balm in your pocket.

Me (noticing a similar firm but tiny object in the same place on his hip as well): I was thinking the same thing.

It was (and it was), of course.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Quite possibly my most self-absorbed Friday Five to date, as it's all about things people should BUY FOR ME

My birthday is coming up soon, a fact that didn't really occur to me until I turned the calendar page late last week and realized it is March already. March, people. How did that happen? Wow.

I realize that birthdays get less and less eventful every year, but still... if forgetting your own birthday is approaching isn't a sign of old age, I'm really not sure what is. At least I'm not yet doing the math from my birth year to figure out how old I am. When that happens, you might as well get yourself a pair of comfort sandals and a Hoveround, because there is no turning back from there.

Most years, I am reminded it's my birth month the same way I'm reminded that the Christmas season is upon me. No, Target doesn't tailor their seasonal aisles to a "Celebrate Stefanie" theme. I mean that I start getting e-mails from my family members demanding gift suggestions from me.

This seems only fair, I think. If I have to get older, I should at least get some new stuff, right? Sadly, (A. my family didn't think to ask about birthday gift ideas until a few short days ago, and (B. when they did finally ask, I came up almost entirely blank.

I finally decided that a new printer (perhaps with a bonus scanner) would be a fine gift for my mom and sisters to contribute towards together, so I'm pretty sure that's what I'll find beneath the, um, birthday tree. Since then, however, I have come up with several fine ideas of excellent birthday gifts for me. I honestly don't expect gifts from anyone but family members and maybe a select few devoted friends, but still, it's fun to write a wish list, is it not? Frankly, once you start thinking about this sort of thing, it's actually hard to narrow it down to just five. I am, however, trying to slide this in as my Friday Five for the week, so a mere five will simply have to do.

Here we go, then. Five gifts I would enjoy for my birthday this year...

  1. A Chia Elephant. Shockingly, no one got this for me when I dropped a hint about it right before Christmas. Can you even buy Chia Pets outside of the holiday season? I have no idea. Anyone want to find out?

  2. A little Unazukin girl. Yes, yes, I know we're all using Google as our Magic 8 ball these days, but isn't this an entirely more adorable solution?

  3. Fancy schmancy calling cards for my secret inner Victorian lady self. I mentioned once that I used to hand out my business cards to prospective suitors in bars (because cell phones weren't yet so prevalent and we didn't all carry pens and index cards in our pockets). I totally should have thought to print out something like these lovely cards instead.

  4. One charming little garden gnome (conveniently available at Target, the place where all things happen and worlds frequently collide). I have a friend who is very fond of gnomes, but hesitates to share this fact with friends and family for fear that her home and yard will thereafter be filled with various and sundry gnomes received as gifts. Like her, I want just one gnome, which would live happily in the bed of perennials I planted last year (upon Poppy's advice)--a bed of flowers that I can only hope and assume will return brightly and happily again this summer. Time will tell on that, unfortunately.

  5. A t-shirt with a tag-line that succinctly and effectively encapsulates me in some way. I am not actually serious about this one, as I'm not really the novelty t-shirt-wearing type. (I wasn't serious about the $189 calling cards, either, of course; I just thought they were lovely and charming is all.) Still, wouldn't a Good Grammar Costs Nothing shirt be perfect for my one-woman crusade? Then again, it's hard to commit to that one confidently when there are so many other fine choices as well. For that matter, why should I focus solely and exclusively on grammar? Is that really all that I am about? Perhaps my new tag-line is actually a better choice. I'm entirely amused imagining all the looks I would get wearing an "I am kayak; hear me roar" shirt about town. Much as I'd like to think the whole world gets every Gilmore Girls reference, I'm well aware that's simply not the case.

OK, that's already five, but you know what else I recently realized I need? More Tagalongs. What was I thinking buying only one box?? I was thinking surely other little Girl Scouts in my life would emerge and beg for cookie business, but clearly that was not the case. So now I've got to get by on a frighteningly small hit of the heroin that is the Tagalong, with no hope of more until next year. It is a travesty, I must say. And to think I wasted one of my box purchases on the new sugar-free brownie bit cookies. They sounded tasty in the description, but you know what? Cookies need sugar. It's a simple and likely indisputable fact. I should never have swayed from the Tagalong. A travesty, indeed, I say.

Know what else is a travesty? These particular gift items, courtesy of the Casual Living catalog I for some reason received the other day. Take this as a list of items I do not want as birthday gifts, OK? I do not want a pair of "Go Tropical" sunglasses, nor a "celebrate-the-flamingo" sort of Feather in your cap cap. I am all for a bit of whimsy, but not in my accessories, you hear? I also do not want a Beaded water bottle holder, as I simply can't imagine any scenario in which my water would need to be this, um, fancy. And, much as I realized the helpful multifunctionality of my comfy new yoga pants Swiffering my floors as I move about, I'm still not ready to don a pair of slippers designed with this express purpose in mind. Multi-tasking is one thing. Those absurd and nasty slippers are quite another.

Goodbye, Med

I don't generally document any one specific meMarmony match to this degree, but since so many of you were so invested in this one, I thought I should tell you that I clicked the infamous "Close" button on the man we call "Med" this morning.

Bu-Bye, Med. I hardly knew ye. Best of luck and all that.

Bye-bye, Med

Note #1: Before anyone gets all excited by the "Reason for closing" box I checked, no I do not have a new boyfriend I've not told you about. I am pursuing another relationship; I just don't know yet with whom it will be!

Note #2: Friday Five will be coming later today. Likely much later. I should get some work done first, unfortunately.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The votes are in

See, now, I knew you people would have much to say about this whole to-call or not-to-call dilemma. Who needs Google to answer life's most pressing questions; I can just ask all of you!

Incidentally, I have realized recently that I am not alone in turning to the Internet for advice on matters such as this. In the past few days, presumably equally torn and confused people have found their way to my blog via a variety of similar quandaries. Here is just a sampling:

  • Calls five days after first date
  • First date waited week to call
  • First date call voicemail
  • When he says let's play it by ear after the first date

To that last person, I would like to say, "Sorry, honey; it doesn't look good." To the first two, I would like to say, "Five days? A week? That's nothing. Try ten days over here!" Also, to the person who found my blog by Googling Deep fried Wikipedia, I have no idea what you're looking for, but I sort of love the whimsy obviously brewing within your brain.

But back to my pressing question and your many thoughts on it. I didn't respond to your comments as they came in partly because I wanted to see where things went without any further input from me but also because it was the kind of day where I was actually very busy doing work while at work. Crazy, I know. You'd think they pay me to be there or something. Sheesh.

In any case, I thought I would summarize the results as they stand right now (as of 10:15 p.m. Tuesday). Not-so-shockingly, the majority of you are not feeling the love with "Med." Though, frankly, given the way I admittedly editorialized the question, I'm actually surprised it was this close.

The question, if you recall, was this: if a man waits ten days after a date to call me, should I actually call him back? Here is what the non-lurkers had to say.

The people have spoken

Many of you made some fine points. I respect 3Carnations' opinion that one offense doesn't justify writing someone off entirely and that people sometimes need to grow on you, that the chemistry and magic isn't always immediate. But I also agree with everyone who said that it's not wrong to want more enthusiasm, more respect, more consideration than this. Hence the dilemma, you see.

I could argue back and forth on what it's reasonable to expect when. Delayed follow-through after a very casual first pre-date maybe doesn't mean a guy won't step up later, once I matter to him in a more solid and real way. But I also agree with Stacy that being delinquent with personal contact translates into other relationships as well. I wouldn't tell a friend I'm going to call him in the next few days and then wait a week and a half. I certainly shouldn't think it's acceptable to do so with a dating prospect I'm presumably trying to impress either.

What's strange is I think I'm actually more demanding, more picky, more bothered by "rule-breaking" transgressions now, at 32, than I was at 23. I suspect some people's criteria loosen as they get older; they learn to settle for less to avoid being alone. It should be clear by now that I'm not the settling type (kayak hear me roar, remember?), but that's not even what I'm getting at here.

Maybe secretly and subconsciously I want to be alone; maybe I'm that cliched commitment-phobe in so many sitcoms and movies--the guy who breaks up with a girl because her earlobes are uneven or the girl who won't date a guy because his shoes just aren't right. Maybe that's all this hangup on the "when to call" question is. Maybe I'm just looking for reasons to avoid a second date.

I really don't think that's it, however. I think I am just tired beyond tired of letting bad behavior slide. These are 30-something-year-old men I'm dating. Shouldn't they know better by now? Shouldn't they have figured this stuff out? If they truly want a relationship, shouldn't they understand that a little effort would be nice? At 24, a guy could jerk me about, play hard-to-get, vanish inexplicably for days on end. It was part of the game, part of the learning process; I didn't know anything else. But somewhere along the line, most of those guys grew up. Presumably we women did, too. We realized that if you find a good thing, you don't let it trail along behind you by a thread; you hold it tight and treat it right and do what you can to make it last. I'm mixing my metaphors, I realize, and it's only going to get worse. I'm about to compare single men to the clothing racks at TJ Maxx.

I don't really believe that generalization that "all the good ones are gone." I'm also not immediately leery of divorced men because of some false assumption that they're "damaged goods." I honestly believe that every relationship teaches us something and that we're all likely better partner material the more life experience we have. That said, however, when I think about the men I've met lately, I can't help feeling like I'm looking at a clearance rack. I don't want to believe that all the good ones are gone, but the men I've met lately seem to come with some sort of sticker or warning. "Past Season," they say. "Irregular." "Missing Button." I know plenty of women who swear by the merits of these racks. TJ Maxx is a treasure trove if only you take the time to look. And it's true, I guess--I should possibly keep on hunting; try things on; realize I could find a great bargain in there somewhere. But I've never had much patience for the hit-or-miss adventure that is TJ Maxx, and dating often feels a lot like that.

Mind you, I am well aware that I've likely got my own label hanging from my wrist notifying prospective suitors of my own flaws as well. Surely I am "Irregular" in some way, so the analogy doesn't stop with the men. And that is why I did, in case you are wondering (and I'm sure many of you are) return Med's call earlier tonight. If his own call was just a late-made courtesy gesture and the voicemail tag ends with my message, I am completely fine with that. But at least now I can rest easy in the hopes that 3Carnations isn't tracking me down to beat some sense into me. And that's what really matters, is it not?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Show of hands

I know this is something we've talked about a bit in the comments recently, but let's take a formal poll, OK? Let's say, for example, that a woman (we'll call her Mefanie) goes on a date with a man (we'll call him... um, Med). Let's say it's actually just barely a date; it's one of those sort of "pre-dates" for a quick coffee, a date scheduled with the advance warning that "I can meet you at 11:00, but I need to be somewhere at 12:30." It's sort of a "go see," as I recently read someone call it--essentially an audition to see if you are, in fact, worthy of the role of a proper date.

Let's say that at the end of this pre-date, Med turns to Mefanie and says, "I've really enjoyed talking to you. Would you like to get together again? Can I give you a call this week?"

This is an entirely hypothetical situation, of course, and bears no solid similarity to any true and actual events, but let's assume for the sake of this example that Mefanie was not immediately smitten with Med, but found herself for once not entirely bored nor revolted, either. Trying to remain optimistic, she therefore replies, "Sure; that'd be great," and writes down her home number.

Given this scenario, how many days is too many days for Med to wait to call?

If I tell you the number of days he waited is nearly ten, does that appall you or not at all faze you? And given all of this information, should Mefanie actually return his call or click the handy "Close Match" button provided by meMarmony and make Med go away?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

A few additional notes, in case they affect your decisions...

1. Med called at 3:50 p.m. on a Monday, knowing full well that Mefanie has a day job at an office outside her home and that the number he was calling was not the number for that office.

2. The only excuse Med provided for his delayed follow-up communication was that he has been hit with some sort of bug and has been ill for several days. He did not specify whether said bug prevented him from reaching his keyboard to type a message or in some way impaired his memory or concept of time.

3. Mefanie is a worn-down and bitter girl who, once annoyed, has a hard time overlooking her annoyance and starting fresh with an open mind. Maintaining an open mind on a second date with someone whom she's already skeptical and less-than-genuinely-enthusiastic-about is hard enough. Maintaining an open mind on a second date with someone who's already annoyed her is even harder.


As always, thank you in advance for your undoubtedly wise words and sage advice. On this entirely hypothetical situation, I mean. Of course.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Snowpocalypse Wrap-up

Last Friday, when I posted a list of things I did during my unannounced hiatus from online life, I forgot one I very much meant to mention. That This American Life show I went to on Wednesday? The one where Sarah Vowell and I unfortunately did not become best friends? I forgot to report that the universe had a little fun with me that night by throwing a former meMarmony match in my path yet again. Remember the bad kisser who I ran into at Target a few months back? There he was again, at the Orpheum Theatre, walking right past me with a short blond woman who I can only assume has never emotionally wounded or insulted him by calling into question his make-out skills and prowess.

Apparently I was right when I said, last May, that this man and I must have been circling within 50 feet of each other for the past several years and that, post dating him, I was bound to run into him nearly every place I went. The fact that I have now spotted him twice (on two occasions where he presumably didn't spot me) makes me wonder how many times he's seen me while I've been unaware. It also makes me wonder where I can expect to see him next. This could actually be a fun game, I suppose. Like Where's Waldo (er, Where's Adam?) but without the stocking hat and thick-framed glasses. At least on Wednesday (unlike that day at Target), I was properly showered and lip-glossed. I can only hope the same holds true next time as well.

I was actually thinking about my first near run-in with that guy (and with the subsequent in-Target encounter with Crooked Soul Patch McLikeshimself a few weeks ago) before heading out to Target again today. As is my usual routine on a Sunday that involves no social plans, I spent a few minutes considering the To-Shower or Not To-Shower question. I wasn't planning to see anyone I knew or to be out for any length of time. A quick dab of powder and a ponytail seemed entirely sufficient for the day. I have learned my lesson now, however. I picked To-Shower this time.

This afternoon's Target outing marks only the third time I have left my house in the past four days. I stayed home from work on Thursday and Friday because I had no desire to spend three hours in traffic crawling my way through what I recently heard referred to as The Snowpocalypse, nor to spend the night in a motel somewhere off of Highway 36 due to an inability to make it the entire drive. Instead I gave myself an impromptu four-day weekend and took a work-from-home day followed by a self-proclaimed snow day.

You'd think I would get stir-crazy, cooped up alone for four consecutive days. (I did venture out for social outings a bit on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, but the majority of the past 96 hours were spent entirely on my own.) You'd think I'd be happy to go back to work tomorrow and rejoin humankind. Instead, I am dreading my 6:00 alarm the same way I do every Sunday around this time. I actually had a lovely four days of peaceful lounging about. I watched Ellen and Oprah two days in a row, which is two more days than I've seen either show in the past six months or more. I watched a mini-marathon of Gilmore Girls Season Three. I nearly finished the tiny baby sweater I am knitting for a friend's soon-to-be-born child. I got 140 or so pages closer to the end of the Hunt Sisters book I'm reading. And I realized, oddly and unsettlingly, that being homebound and anti-social is maybe a little too comfortable for me. It's a slippery slope, I think, between being content with a few days of mostly hermit-like solitude and suddenly seeing the appeal of unemployment and relishing the fantasy of life as a shut-in. I've said for years that I'm quite comfortable in my modern spinster role. Times like this, though, I realize I'm maybe just a few steps away from crazy old Cat Lady... minus the cats, of course.

I shouldn't say I spent the whole weekend lounging, however. I got plenty of exercise shoveling Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as well. I thought I was finally done for a while, so you can imagine how my heart sank when I went out to my car this afternoon and saw that a City plow had gone through my alley one more time and left another mini-wall of snow across my driveway. Unable to bring myself to haul out the shovel yet again, I decided to ignore the fact that I drive the vehicular equivalent of a 98-pound weakling and to try to charge on through the wall anyway. My wheels spun a bit and I thought I'd have to admit defeat, but eventually I made it past the obstacle. I should give my little Saturn a bit more credit, I suppose.

You know what else deserves more credit? That whole myth of "Minnesota Nice." Check it out: my next-door neighbor proving that Minnesotans actually are nice and that being on a speaking basis with your neighbors really isn't actually all bad. That is him with the snowblower; that is my driveway he's snowblowing. I really sort of love him right about now.

hell of a lot of snow

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hello? Is this thing on?

Hello, Internets! Remember me? Frankly I am not sure what is going on with me, but for some reason, I just decided to take a little impromptu hiatus from writing or reading blogs. Have you ever done that? If so, when you decided to re-emerge, did you actually read all the things you missed while you were gone? This is my dilemma, because after ignoring Bloglines for several days, it now says I have 220 unread posts waiting for me. 220! Poppy alone has published 40 of those. 40! Good lord, woman; take a break, I say. Anyway, so this is my dilemma: to read all or not to read all. I suppose if this is my biggest concern for the day, my life is going OK.

I surely don't fancy myself any sort of Internet celebrity, so perhaps many of you didn't even notice that I was neither posting to my own blog nor reading and commenting on yours. If you did, in fact, notice, however, and were even maybe considering sending out a search party, then I feel I owe you some explanation for my absence. Since it is Friday, my explanation will be in five-point form and serve as my Friday Five for the week.

Five possible answers for where I've been lately:

  1. I was kidnapped by one of the two dates I had this week, and had to use all of the escape and survival skills I've gleaned from five summers of Girl Scout camp and 32 years of television viewing to rescue myself from the depths of this horrible man's basement, where I was chained to a radiator ala Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci and guarded by a surprisingly ferocious toy poodle for a full five days and nights.

  2. I won the lottery, quit my job, and took off for Costa Rica for a week, where I had a lovely and exciting fling with Manuel the windsurfing instructor, until his mother discovered us sipping drinks in a cabana and reminded him it was time for school. To this I say only that I swear he looked at least 22, but obviously I should have asked. (Perhaps I was just taking some tips from -R- and testing out the benefits of dating a younger man.)

  3. I ran into Sarah Vowell on Hennepin Avenue after the This American Life show on Wednesday night and invited her to join me for a drink at nearby MacKenzie's pub. The two of us became instant best friends, and we thereafter took off on a fun and educational road trip together, touring all of the Puritan tourist attractions in New England.

  4. I was out shoveling some of the 127 inches of snow that Minneapolis has received this week when a City snowplow made one of its passes through my neighborhood and buried me under the massive spray of snow left in its wake. After burrowing for days, I have only recently dug my way out. Incidentally, Charles Schultz was wrong: you can survive by sucking the juice from a wet mitten. It's not pleasant, but it'll get you through.

  5. What, you didn't believe that last one either? Well how about that I suffered a heart attack while shoveling those 127 inches of snow and have been recovering in a hospital bed with no Internet access ever since?

No? You don't believe any of those? Well OK; you're right. I am, in fact, just lazy, and really have no good excuse for where I've been. Here are a few things I have done in the past week, however. No lies at all this time, OK?

  • Went on two mostly fine dates with two seemingly perfectly nice men. It's remotely possible I may even actually go out with one of them again, but just because that is a rarity does not mean it's time to start checking the Target gift registry for me. All it means is that they were mostly normal dates, which means I've got no particularly amusing or aggravating stories to share from either of them.

  • Re-wore an old bridesmaid dress, complete with the elbow-length gloves and Payless Dyeables shoes that were part of the original cornflower blue crepe-and-satin dream of an outfit six years ago. No, I didn't go to prom with my new teenaged boyfriend (though, again, -R- does make some fine points on that). I wore this ensemble to a fancy-dress Oscars party hosted by my friend Amy. A fine time was had by all. Or, a fine time was had by the six or seven people who actually made it. Damn Blizzard 1.0 did a bit of thwarting of those plans.

  • Actually WON the "most guesses correct" prize at the aforementioned Oscars party (despite having not seen half the movies on the ballot). The prize for this title was a lovely miniature trophy... a trophy that came without a label but that I'm considering modifying slightly to benefit a blog-friend who I think needs this trophy more than I do. Liz, I do not know where you live, so I cannot send this award to you, but I suggest you print out this artist's rendering and post it somewhere prominent as a reminder that 2007 is your year!

    Year of Liz!

  • Spent several hours shoveling my way out of Blizzard 1.0 (which arrived last Saturday) and Blizzard 2.0 (which is still on its last legs now, as I type). I was actually just planning to head outside in a few minutes to shovel the latest six or seven inches that have fallen (I am playing hooky from work due to the snow and therefore have all day to get that done), but I just looked out my window and saw that it is snowing yet again. Again! My street already looks like this; haven't we had enough?

    Snow... LOTS of snow.

And that about wraps up the highlights and lowlights of my week. I hope all of you are well and none of you are buried under 127 inches of snow nor chained to a radiator nor being arrested for statutory rape. Now if you'll excuse me, I have 220 unread blog posts to get through and eight more inches of snow to shovel from my walk. Happy Friday!