Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More things that make sense only when I'm half asleep

I've said before that I really ought to give myself a curfew for my night-time computer use, because invariably, if I write a post directly before I go to bed, my mind will continue to write and rewrite that post when I'm trying to be all Zen quiet-like and get some sleep. I'm all warm and relaxed under my comforter, and yet I need to fight the urge to get up, restart my computer, and make a quick edit (or, at the very least, scribble a new line or two on a notepad before I forget).

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I was suddenly convinced I needed to add another joke to that last post--specifically to the imaginary conversation with my imaginary future husband. Instead of just "I was busy! I had work!" I wanted my fake husband to add, "Science doesn't 'tist' itself!" See... because he's a scientist? And he's all, adding the "-tist" to "science"?

Yeah. Not funny. Insert pause for crickets here. But these are the things that make sense when I'm only half awake.

Mental post editing wasn't the only thing keeping me awake last night, though. I very rarely have nightmares, but last night, for some reason, there was a sort of horror movie playing in my head. I wasn't actually in the scenes; no monster was really coming at me with any nefarious intent. But since I'm never a fan of scary things, even watching grisly scenes on my in-brain movie screen was unsettling enough.

The in-head movie featured some sort of Hannibal Lector-like vampire monster... he was decked out like Dracula, but instead of just sticking his teeth in peoples' necks and sucking their blood, he was taking full bites out of his victims--ripping into their skin and pulling away with large chunks of their neck still lodged between his pointy teeth.* Which tells me he was not just a vampire, but some sort of weird, extra-scary zombie vampire. And WHY would I be dreaming about zombies, when zombies are something that rarely, rarely (if ever) cross my mind? Well, I think it's pretty obvious I have Aaron to thank for that. You and your damn Diary of the Dead countdown, Cochrane. Clearly your blog should come with some kind of warning: PG-13 (not for the extremely impressionable or easily frightened). Sheesh.

* For that visual, I do apologize. Even Aaron doesn't traumatize us quite like that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Heavens to Betsy, has it been four days already?

Thank you all very much for your contributions to last week's interactive Friday Five. As it's now Tuesday, it's as good a time as any to post a roundup, don't you think? I asked for your favorite words or phrases that have long been forgotten in the lexicon--words we haven't heard since Jimmy Stewart uttered them in a talkie that our grandparents saw on their first date. In case you didn't have the patience to wade through the comments, here's what the lot of you came up with.

  • Willy-nilly
  • In the family way
  • Setting up housekeeping
  • Breaking bread
  • Gay (as in happy, you fool, as in "we'll have a gay ol' time")
  • I doth protest
  • Wanna flap?
  • The Middle West (where Fitzgerald knows we Minnesotans live)
  • Woe is me
  • Dumb dora
  • The bee's knees
  • Dagnabbit
  • Heavens to Betsy
  • Knickerbocker
  • Pitching woo
  • Hold your horses
  • Chap
  • Don't take any wooden nickels
  • What a fat pig that William Howard Taft is (you're right, Aaron; that never gets old)
  • Insolent
  • Reticent
  • Expectorate (and micturate)
  • The depths of despair (thank you, Cookie, and Anne of Green Gables)
  • Sot (so much better and more high-brow than "drunken fool")
  • Egad
  • Bee in her bonnet
  • Lollygagger

Not to play favorites, of course, as you all had fine things to say, but I think I'm particularly fond of dagnabbit, ol' chap, the bee's knees, pitching woo, and lollygag. Oh, and "heavens to Betsy," which I'll admit I actually added myself. I'd also like to add "davenport" to the list, because you know what? Sometimes "sofa" or "couch" just doesn't suffice.

Also, I cannot believe that Erikka (at comment #33) was the first person to ask just what on earth this list had to do with a boy. The fact is there is a boy on an increasingly lame personals site who mentioned a penchant for obscure words and phrases that were last fashionable in the 1920s, and I thought perhaps I might impress him with just the right long-forgotten phrase. After researching the definition of "pitching woo," however, I didn't really have the nerve to use it as the subject of an email. Also, it turns out that this perfect-for-me-on-paper boy might actually be a bit of a tool. I mentioned that my shoes were sensible enough to be preferred by librarians the world over, but I never said I was a librarian. Still, he followed up with, "So you're an honest-to-goodness librarian? Public or research?" Um, NO. I am not a librarian. Never claimed to be, in fact. But since you're calling up all sorts of sexy librarian fantasies right now, there's really no winning you back from that, is there?

The fading optimist in me--the part of me that still wants to believe that psychic was right when she said 2008 would be my year--would like to think there's still some great story in the works here. Years from now, we'll be telling our "how we met" story to friends or grandchildren...

Me: I read his profile and then posted one of my own just so I could have a way to contact him.
Him: Oh, you did not. You were all over the Internet, weren't you?
Me: No. In fact, I was not. Not online really anywhere at the time.
Him: Except that blog of yours, which you did not tell me about for months.
Me: Oh. Right. Except for that, of course.
Him: And Friendster, which for some reason you still had a profile on, even though you eschewed MySpace and Facebook.
Me: Right. And that. I swear I almost never logged on.
Him: [eye roll]
Me: I didn't! Anyway, so, I added him to my "Hotlist," in the hopes that he would see my interest and step up.
Him: I was busy! I had work!
Me: Then why were you online?
Him: ...
Me: And I finally broke down and emailed him, with a cute little list of all the commonalities we had.
Him: It was cute. I'll give you that.
Me: But you still didn't take the bait. You thought I was a librarian. You didn't even READ my profile, did you?? Admit it. You had written me off.
Him: I hadn't met you yet! I had no idea of all your charms!

Um, yeah. And... scene. Clearly I've got a bit too much time on my hands. I'll keep you posted if any of this pans out, of course. At the moment, I'm pretty much feeling like my dating life is just an example of bad, bad karma of some sort. Strangely, though, I'm not sure if I'm creating the bad karma or paying for it. Time will tell, I guess.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I’m being whiny AND vague! Lucky you!

I know I'm supposed to be a mature grown-up and act like the alarmingly honest, direct person I've so often been told I am. Dating in the Internet age has made it entirely too easy to avoid uncomfortable conversations through a quick email rather than an awkward conversation, and I often justify going this route by claiming it's easier for both of us, not just for me. I'm aware that's often a cop-out, however, and I'm trying to be braver and more considerate. When someone sends an email himself, though, saying, "I can't tell for sure if you want to go out again; would you be interested or not?" then it's entirely OK for me to answer that honestly via an email reply rather than waiting for an in-person talk, right? Right? RIGHT? Sigh. Three dates back out there and already I just want to stay home by myself again for all eternity. Please, somebody tell me that when it's right, I will know it and I will stop with the irrationally heightened flight reflexes. Please tell me that that's how it works and not that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. Because at the moment, I'm in one of those spots where it definitely feels like the latter.

But enough with the vague and pointless navel-gazing. How about an interactive Friday Five? Do you have a favorite word or phrase that hasn't been in regular rotation in the lexicon since the early 20th Century? An obscure or forgotten phrase that it's time we rally to bring back? Let's make a list of five (or 55) of them, shall we? I should add that ironically, the reason I want to compile this list has to do with a boy. Guess I haven't given up again entirely quite yet.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More proof that I don't have a lot going on

Last week, my favorite co-worker won a Chipotle office party, meaning she gets to treat herself and four co-workers (yours truly included, of course) to a free burrito lunch on the day of her choice.

The day she chose is today, and this morning, when I awoke all groggy and reluctant to pry myself out from my warm covers and into the cold, dark morning, the thing that made my eyes pop open and helped me drag myself out of bed was this single thought: "It's free Chipotle Day!!"

That's totally normal, right? OK; just checking.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life lint

You may recall I'm on a bit of a mission at the moment--a mission to bring some semblance of order and organization to my house, to find a home for all the stray bits and pieces that sit in cluttered piles in my office or kitchen or bedroom simply because I've neglected to find any better place to put them. I'm also trying to thwart the pack-rat gene and purge the things taking up space in my surroundings for no good reason. It's not even just the usual suspects--the brown dress shoes in my closet that I'm certain I'll never wear again or the CDs I haven't listened to since the week I bought them. No, it's also the little things--the bits of lint from my life that I didn't even know I still had.

Case in point: while cleaning out the decorative box in which I keep stationery and spare cards and such, I found not just the pads of Mickey Mouse and Garfield paper that I will surely never find cause to use; I also found a name and phone number scribbled on a piece of scratch paper from lord only knows how long ago.

Because my mind is like a steel trap for the things I'll never need to recall (and like a sieve for the things it would actually be useful to remember), it actually took only several seconds for me to remember who Kirk was. Kirk was a guy I worked with shortly after I moved to the Twin Cities (a full ten years ago at this point--back when we had only one area code instead of four and therefore a seven-digit phone number was actually useful). Kirk was, by nearly all definitions, an idiot. I had nothing in common with him save the same mail stop address in our building. But I also had few friends in town (at work or otherwise), and since I had rarely been mistaken for pretty or popular at that point in my life, the attention he paid me was fairly new. I went to lunch with him a couple of times... I don't remember where we went, but I do remember that he tried to impress me by popping into his CD player a supposedly brand new band he was into at the moment (a band that had already been receiving loads of radio play for months... you may have heard their big hit a thousand times or so).

I never called Kirk (never even had any intention of calling him), so I cannot explain why his phone number came with me from apartment to apartment to apartment to current house. It's in my recycling bin now, but just the fact that I unknowingly held onto that scrap of paper for so long made the amateur archivist in me pause at least a second or two before I tossed it.

I can't explain where it comes from--this need to save the unimportant or useless. But then again, maybe I can. It's that aforementioned pack-rat gene, of course.

My grandma has been in a nursing home since shortly after her stroke, and since it doesn't look likely she'll return to her own house, my mom and little sister have been preemptively cleaning and organizing the place a little bit. Recently my sister sent me an online album of photos--various still lifes and objects around my grandma's house. Looking through those photos, I had one of those enlightening, self-awareness-building moments, an "it all makes sense now" light bulb of "Oh yeah--this is where I came from."

I know now that writing reminder notes to oneself must be hereditary (even if I haven't resorted to "Lights off; lock door" reminders just yet).

Lights. Lock on. is the hope of saving the possibly unsaveable. I still have, for some reason, the tie-on towel I was unable to replace; my grandma still has a pile of stained, old towels she was unable to get clean.

Not clean yet but can't get clean

And those too-tight and also hopelessly out of style brown shoes in my closet? My grandma holds on to that sort of thing as well. At least I haven't labeled my old brown shoes "too tight." Also, I know how to spell "waist." Yay for that, anyway.

Tight waste

Hands down my favorite photo in the collection, though, came from my grandma's freezer. What do you do when you open a can that you hope is peas, only to find lima beans instead? Well, obviously, you freeze them in Tupperware to annoy yourself for all eternity, with a note in permanent marker on the lid:

Lima beans. Dammit.

In case you can't read that, it says, "Lima Beans. Dammit."

Sweet Jesus, I love that crazy old broad.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Can I hear that word in a sentence?

I'm sure you'll all be disappointed that I have no mullet sightings to relay, but with's "feels like" temperature for Minneapolis hitting 20 below zero, attending a pond hockey tournament just didn't seem like a reasonable plan. Carrie kept talking about the beer and brats in the warming tent, but I think she forgot that my aversion to both beer and brats is why I left Wisconsin in the first place. Kidding, of course, but I do think not enjoying either of those Wisconsin favorites might be grounds for excommunication under some archaic law still buried somewhere in the books. So it's lucky I left of my own accord before they had a chance to kick me out. (Or, left of my own Corsica, as was actually the case at the time... Am I the only one who can't hear that phrase without wanting to make a lame Honda joke as a follow up? I am? I thought so. Moving on.)

So. We didn't scope for any boys on frozen lakes this weekend, but we did venture out to three different bars on Washington Avenue in the hopes of feeling social-type Girls About Town. By the time we reached the third bar, the wind chill had dropped noticeably, from "Goddamn, it's more than a bit chilly out here" to a painful "Holy fuck; I do believe my face might crack in two if I don't get inside immediately or sooner." Apparently everyone else got the memo and smartly stayed home, because there were all of maybe eight people in that establishment when we walked in, and six of them were either with the band or working behind the bar. Incidentally, in case you are wondering, sharing the exact same birthday with the bartender who cards you does not earn you a free drink, even on the slowest and most chatty of nights. It'll earn you a smile and a bit of chit-chat about the celebrities also born on that same day (Dane Cook and Queen Latifah, in our case), but you will still have to shell out eight dollars for your Malbec. Lesson learned.

The rest of my weekend was fairly low-key... I ventured to Target yesterday, mainly just to make sure my car would still start, but other than that, I spent the day wanting nothing more than to curl up on the floor directly beside the heat register, not unlike the cat my little sister had years ago. (Sidenote: One benefit to running my Target errands in this weather is that it is cold enough to warrant wearing a hat! Guess what? I can go to Target with unwashed hair in a greasy ponytail if it is hidden under a smart, seasonably appropriate-looking hat! I didn't actually run into any former meMarmony matches on this particular Target outing, but I was ready for them, showered or not, even if I had! Whoo.) Finally, today, I went to an arty documentary with a boy I might be friends with but have decided not to date, and that about wraps up my weekend, I guess.

So, in short, I regret that I have nothing particularly exciting to report to those of you who like to live vicariously through my ever-exciting single-girl life. I will try to make it up to you eventually, though. I'm sure someday I'll experience some blog-worthy antics once again. Case in point: consider the following message, which I received from my good friend Michael on Friday:

From: Michael
To: Stefanie
Subject: Drunken Spelling Bee


I'll sponsor you and give you a ride home if you play.
It's time to redeem yourself after your failure as a child.


Sadly, pre-registration is full, so I actually can't sign up anymore. I do plan to show up early enough for a potential overflow/walk-on spot, though, and maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get a chance to make an ass of myself in front of a live, drunk audience. Let's all cross our fingers for that.

The "failure" he refers to, by the way, is my performance in my county's regional spelling bee in 1986. Oddly, I cannot tell you the winning word responsible for my victory in my grade school's local contest that year, but I do remember the word that ousted me (with only five pre-teens remaining on the stage) in the regional bee that followed. I went out on the word pejorative. (I know how to spell it now, even without Firefox's spell checker as a guide.)

Somehow I doubt the word pejorative will come up in the drunken spelling bee contest. In fact, the promotional information says the bee will feature "themed spelling rounds, including topics such as celebrity phraseology, alcoholic beverages, and naughty words."

I know how to spell "slippery nipple" and "dirty sanchez" (and plenty of other words I really shouldn't be typing on the Internet right now). Perhaps I'd best research how many Ts Paris Hilton includes in "That's hottt," though. I'd really hate to have Ms. Hilton be the fool who does me in. Don't you agree?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Business in the front, party in the back

Tell me, where's a Blog Share when you need one? I was going to tell you a boy story, but it really is the sort of story I should not publish on the Internet. It would be mean and premature and would do nothing whatsoever to help me resolve the dilemma I'm in right now. So instead I will just say that I'm coming to fear I'm that stereotypical terminally single girl in every movie and sitcom you've ever seen--the one who's never happy and always finds one little thing wrong with every person she dates... a crooked earlobe, or a stray eyebrow hair, or some other heinous offense that she can't possibly get past.

Except that that's not me. Really, I swear that it's not. After all, my longest relationship to date has been with a guy whose stomach is so large and round, it looks like he's smuggling Humpty Dumpty around under his shirt. The dude actually named his ample gut (named it after his skinny old uncle, no less), and I found it charming, not revolting. Really. So yeah. I have my reservations. Everybody does, I think. But I can get past them, when all else is well aligned and feeling promising. Or, I hope so, anyway.

Jury is still out on my dates this week. I guess that's what I'm saying with all this.

Meanwhile, I have very little else on my mind to write about, which is the only reason I just spent three paragraphs telling you absolutely nothing. Sorry about that. It is colder than the proverbial witch's tit here at the moment (I despise that phrase, so please take my use with irony), and perhaps it's affecting my brain. It's also affecting my social calendar, unfortunately. My friend Carrie and I discussed venturing to a pond hockey tournament on a local lake this weekend, but I doubt either one of us even owns the appropriate layers to make that a reasonable plan. Incidentally, no, I'm not generally much for pond hockey (or any hockey, except maybe the tonsil variety, with the right partner), but we were going on a tip from a girl at Carrie's gym who assured us it was a fine place to find some single men. In Minnesota, I'm hoping that sort of event draws the general rugged, outdoorsy type and not strictly the Slap Shot-worthy, hockey hair type, as a mullet would most definitely fall under that category of one little thing wrong that could turn me off, and if I'm going to spend any more time than necessary outdoors when the wind chill is thirty below, it damn well better be for a guy with a proper haircut.

Alas, we may have to find another venue for our socializing and sport-flirting this week. We're trying this new thing, you see, where we actively attempt to put ourselves in situations where we're more likely to meet new people. This plan also involves going for drinks at a new-to-us bar at least once every two weeks in '08. I fear that plan might simultaneously conflict with our half-assed and insincere goal to drink less, but I like to rationalize potentially unhealthy behavior in the name of research and social experiment, don't you?

And with that, I'm going to quit digging this hole in front of me any deeper and work on that other goal that's not going so well: the "get to bed at a reasonable hour on week nights" one. Goals, schmoals. It is the Year of Stef! It'll all work out somehow, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Isn't that what we're all asking in our own lives: "Where's my elephant?"

Happy Tuesday, friends. Or, er, Wednesday, by the time any of you likely read this. I should probably just leave day of the week out of this, I suppose. Frankly, I am stalling because I am trying to decide whether or not I should write about a boy. Maybe even two boys. Or hell, possibly three. But probably only two. It is the Year of Stef, however. If ever there were a time to write about three boys, it would be now, don't you agree?

I can think of a few very good reasons not to write about boys, though, some of which I also shouldn't write about, despite the fact that all this self-censorship and crypticness is not my norm. By tomorrow at this time, I might know whether one of these boys is a story worth telling, but right now, he is still a big question mark. At the moment, he's just a face I've met only once, a name in my Inbox that makes me smile, but in another day it could be all deflated hope and awkwardness, an uncomfortable "Oh. Shit." when I hit "Check Mail" and see the line refresh. So much for my new-found optimism. Year of Stef indeed.

As usual, though, Lara's got my back, and she and Franny (the decision-making Unazukin I sent her for Christmas, which she did not write about, I might add!) have decided to be optimistic on my behalf. She'll let you know how that works out, perhaps. Maybe even a video post of Lara conversting with Franny should be in order. (Lara, you're set up for a vBlog, aren't you? No? OK, forget I said that.)

In the mean time, then, how about something obviously equally important and interesting? That's right: an update on my Chia Elephant's progress.

People, I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I read the fine print on my new toy. I foolishly assumed a Chia Pet was like a cuddly and cute little houseplant--something that would keep growing provided I didn't subject it to total neglect. It turns out it requires near constant care, what with all the refilling through the little hole on top and the dumping of water from the plastic tray as that water seeps right through Stampy's feet and sides. (Of course I named him Stampy. There wasn't really any doubt, was there?) And for all this work, my Chia seeds are estimated to grow only for a month or so. A month! Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Stampy. Old time is still a-flyin'. Once he's had his hey-day (or, I suppose, its Salvia hispanica day), I'll have to leave him scraped bare and stark terra cotta naked or start the whole process once more. I am more than a bit disappointed by this news. It's like Sea Monkeys all over again, I fear.

But still--for even a brief while, it's been a fun experiment. Dare I say Stampy's even added a wee bit of companionship to my little spinster life. I may not have a living, breathing, furry pet, but when the maybe-date I had last night asked me if I had any pets, I said, "Um, well, I have a Chia Pet..." And maybe the best part? A Chia doesn't try to bat around the yarn while you're knitting. If you ask me, this has been a major design flaw in the cat-spinster pairing all along.

So have you ever actually seen a Chia Pet go through its grow cycle yourself? If not, then you're in for a treat, folks. A little time lapse action for you.

Here's our friend Stampy approximately a day and a half after I spread the gelatinous seed paste on him. I neglected to take a picture initially. Surely I've had a blog long enough to have known a project would be in the works, but half-assed and late to the game is my typical mode of operation, so really this should be no great surprise.

Kinda seedy

Here you can see he's starting to grow some slimy little white roots. The packaging didn't warn me about this, and frankly it eeked me out more than a little bit. We all go through our awkward stages during adolescence, though. Why should a Chia Pet be any different?

And finally the white slime gives way to some green. There's hope for you yet, Stampy.

Still sort of gross, though. Let's capture a close-up just to be sure. Ew.


A few days later, he's looking a little less scary.

A little. Not entirely, mind you.

A few days later yet, and we have this. Looking more and more like the jingle-worthy commercial pic every day.

Note to self: Next time, skip spreading the seed paste on the legs. No one needs to see a hairy-legged elephant.

Finally! A coat to inspire the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia jingle we know so well!

Speaking of said jingle, I cannot believe I forgot to tell you about the bonus gift that accompanied my pet. This one needs only batteries, not water or pasty chia seeds.

And it sings the Chia jingle--sings it in a way that is so campy and enthusiastic and fabulous, I actually need to do a Chia jig around my living room every time I press the right-most button. Maybe I'm the one who should be working on the technology for that vBlog, not Lara. Or then again, maybe not.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Five reasons I know movies and television are embedded irreversibly in my brain

  1. I first forced myself to remember which direction the sun rises and sets by singing in my head the lyrics to Movin' Right Along from The Muppet Movie. (Fozzie: "Hey, I've never seen the sun come up in the west!")

  2. Every time I apply mascara, I remember Blossom talking about some of life's great mysteries... "like why women open their mouths when they put on mascara."

  3. Whenever I use vanilla extract, I remember the Very Special Episode of Family Ties in which Tom Hanks played alcoholic Uncle Ned--so hard up for a drink that he downed a whole bottle of the stuff.

  4. Nearly every day when I step out of the shower and the floor in my very old bathroom makes an ominous creaking, cracking sound, I think of Carol Seaver falling through the floor of her bedroom and into the living room because of a termite infestation and crying, "I am willing to get on a scale right now and prove this was not my fault!"

  5. Whenever I see an oncoming car that should have its headlights on, I hear Julia Roberts, saying "Lights! Lights would be good here."

That's five, but honestly, I could keep right on going... When I pee for an unusually long time, I think of Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, and how the women on his team counted the seconds he was in the bathroom, waiting to see if it was a new record. When I wash my hands, I think of Bill Nye explaining the science behind the lather: "Soap makes water wetter!" And whenever I walk past the unusually large, gaping street drain in a gutter near my office, I expect to see the demonic clown from IT peering out at me from beneath the concrete.

That last image in particular is one I wish I could shake from the movie screen in my mind. My sincerest apologies for reminding you of the horror that was Pennywise as well. (Seriously, I am warning you. Don't click that last link. Aagh!)

Please, please tell me I'm not the only one whose brain works this way.

Shut up, please. I am very busy and important.*

I'm feeling a bit mad with power at the moment. I have been called "Boss" by my coworkers no fewer than five times this week, and I have to say, I'm really not used to that sort of thing. Generally speaking, I have very little authority over anything or anyone. Our real boss is on vacation, however, and before she left, she pointed at me and told my four coworkers, "She's in charge!" So whoo--I am in charge. I'd say it's going reasonably well so far. Frankly, I have been delegating and authoritating like I've had minions for years. Yes, I know "authoritating" is not a word. That's how much power I have; I'm wantonly adding words to the lexicon. Go me.

I actually considered testing the limits of my authority and in-chargeness this morning by giving us all the day (or at least the morning) off, but I decided that is probably not the best way to prove I am a trustworthy and business-minded fort holder-downer. Know what is also not the best way to prove myself a reliable fort holder-downer, though? Saying "Sure; thanks!" to that fourth drink when I am already out far past my bedtime on a Thursday night. Not a smart move, Stef. I think the Bad Idea Bears played a part in that one.

If anyone's looking for me, I'll be taking a nap in my car, OK?


* Reference, anyone?
Anyone?? Bueller?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I hear those Latins also made a mean martini

So am I the last person to hear about Zabasearch, or is this nifty little search tool new to you, too? A friend of mine introduced me to that site last weekend, and I quickly decided it's a fine and valuable supplement to Google for routine, recreational sleuthing. Want the last recorded address for any person you've ever known? Want a birth year along with that info as well? Zabasearch likely has it for you. Zabasearch even knows where I could stalk the "bird" half of The Bird and the Bee when she wraps up the tour she's now on. Incidentally, if her "people" are reading this, please know I'm just kidding. I promise I am not the stalking type. Had I not been listening to an archived in-studio performance on MPR's web site while I was Zabasearching (in preparation for the show I'm attending this week), it never even would have occurred to me to check that name. Since I did find her, however, I have to wonder how many other famous and semi-famous names might be on public record. Not that I tried to find any. Of course not. I have better things to do with my time. (Riiiiight. Moving on.)

I actually think it's much more fun to web-stalk non-famous people whom I know than famous people whom I don't, so naturally, I also asked Zaba about some long-lost names from my past, including my old friend Craig, on whom I had a recurring crush back in college. I've Googled Craig periodically over the years, just out of curiosity, wondering where he ended up, and I've never found any particularly informative results. Zabasearch knows where he is, though, and the Google link from that search actually led to a new, recent, relevant result: a wedding announcement from late last summer.

For some absurd reason, my heart actually sank a tiny bit when I read that announcement and saw the photo of my old friend with his smiling new bride. Did I think I was actually ever going to reconnect with him? Of course not. But there's something to be said for far-off silly fantasies tucked deep (or even not-so-deep) within your mind. They're harmless, if you ask me. Most of the time, anyway.

The last time I saw Craig was the weekend he graduated from college. I was in town visiting some friends (having graduated the previous year myself), and I ran into him on Water Street, the street-of-many-college-bars in my former college town. I hugged him, said "Happy Graduation," and asked what he was going to do next in life. "I'm gonna find you, and MARRY YOU!!" he slurred, with a dopey but charming smile on his face. Sigh. He was a drunken fool, but he was adorable. Unfortunately, that's not the sort of marriage proposal you can hold anyone to, so I just have to wish him and his little blond* wife well.

* This has nothing to do with the rest of my post, but I have to ask it anyway. Am I the only one who apparently learned the word
blond as blonde and still prefers to spell it that way? and Merriam-Webster both indicate that blonde is an acceptable variant, but Firefox's red dotted lines disagree with me. But then, I am the girl who sometimes types her list parentheses backwards, so what the hell do I know, right? Still. Blond looks wrong to me. I much prefer the spelling with the "e."

I don't think of Craig all that often, but it's funny the things that still always remind me of him. Someone utters the phrase "lactose intolerant," for instance, and I'll remember Craig trying to put a bad ass, powerful spin on a generally wussy-sounding affliction. "I will not TOLERATE lactose!" he once shouted with conviction, calling up the same spirit as political revolutionaries the world over.

And last week, when I was moving books from my tiny, old, inadequate particle board bookcases onto the larger, only slightly better quality ones I bought to replace them (as part of Operation Get Fucking Organized Already), I came across this, which was a gift from Craig on the occasion of my own college graduation (upon which I did not propose to him--either drunk or sober).

The Latin Poets

It looks like just an ordinary used book of Latin poetry--presumably a fine gift for a graduating English major. You have to check out the inscription inside, however, to see it was actually two, two gifts in one...

All right, so he couldn't remember how to spell my name, and I've known third graders with better penmanship. But let's look at page 115, as he requested, shall we?...

The dude made me my very own booksafe. And I have kept it, to this day.

Like I said, he was adorable. I only hope Blondy appreciates my almost-husband's fabulously dorky wit.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Because giving advice and instilling paranoia is what the Internet (and television) does best...

The other day I realized my mortgage company never sent me my statement and payment coupon for this month. Since I am actually a dark ages sort of girl who pays bills on paper by writing a check and stamping an envelope, I went to my account online, printed a PDF of this month's statement, and sent it in that way. Yes, I realize that once I was in my account, I could have transferred funds to pay instantly. But I also still receive calls on a land line and I walk to work in the snow uphill both ways. Do not question my set-in-my-ways old ladydom, OK?

Today, I received an envelope in the mail from a guy I'll call Randy Jackson in City-I've-Never-Heard-of, Michigan. Inside was my December statement from Homecomings Financial, with a note saying, "This was sent in MY envelope from Homecomings!"

So. First off, kudos to Mr. Jackson for taking the time and the stamp to solve this where's-my-statement mystery for me. Good people over in Michigan, I can only presume. (Shout-out to 3Cs and to Stacey and to former resident JN, obviously.) Here is my question for you, Internets, however. Do I take this goodwill gesture to mean Randy intends me no harm? Can I assume anyone willing to give me his full name and mailing address wouldn't possibly use the private financial information presumably accessible from my mortgage statement for any nefarious purpose or gain? Or should I be canceling or shifting my account immediately to avoid becoming a cautionary identify theft tale? Have I been watching too much Dateline if I think you can even get any private and beneficial information from a stranger's mortgage statement?

For the record, I do not even watch Dateline. But I am, quite obviously, an old lady, and being suspicious is traditionally our way. Also, good work, Homecomings billings representatives. Gold star on that attention to detail, I say.

Friday, January 04, 2008

More than a day late, more than a dollar short

I am well aware that all my end-of-year sum-it-up posting should have been done last week. Christmas trees are down (well, mine isn't, but I am a week behind, after all*) and we are solidly into January, so I really should move on to 2008 already. But since last week was one of those spans where I temporarily forgot I had a blog (and also because CenterPoint Energy actually came early for my scheduled meter inspection today, meaning I really should do a very brief post and get myself to work rather than leisurely wile away what I thought would be a few hours waiting for them), I am going to do one more end-of-'07 post anyway. And then maybe I'll talk about something equally timely--you know, like LiLo's** stint in rehab or Paris Hilton crying on her way to the pokey.

That said, on to a one-week-late Friday Five.

My top five movies of 2007
(in no real particular order and bearing in mind that I didn't see half the movies I should have seen in '07, so Oscar will most certainly disagree with me on these)
  1. Once
  2. Juno
  3. Waitress
  4. Knocked up
  5. The Simpsons Movie
  6. Superbad
OK, that is actually six, but I can't decide which of those last four to switch to a tie or honorable mention spot, so six it is, I guess.

Next up, I was going to list my top five books of 2007, but I actually only read a sad, measly 11 books during the year, so it hardly seems fair to highlight damn-near half of them. So I'll just say the top spots go easily to Eat Pray Love and Tolstoy Lied and leave it at that. (Incidentally, I realize neither of those books were actually published in 2007. Everything about this post is late, so why should that matter?)

And finally, let's talk music. I could spend hours agonizing over my top five songs of the year, but that would defeat the purpose of knocking out a quick post and getting my ass to the office already. Also, it would put me in the same sad category as that guy in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, and really, nobody wants to be that guy. So off the top of my head, with the request that you please not hold me to all of these indefinitely, here are...

Maybe my top five songs of 2007
  1. Band of Horses, No One's Gonna Love You
  2. Feist, 1234
  3. The National, Start a War
  4. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (from the Once soundtrack), Falling Slowly
  5. Lily Allen, LDN

See, now I'm already trying to revise my list, because frankly, much as I loved Lily Allen earlier this year, I'm feeling sort of done with her now, and I just heard Gomez's See the World on the radio and remembered how much I really, really liked that one, too (even if it did maybe come out in 2006 and not 2007, actually). And Rilo Kiley! Breaking up! I still dance around my living room whenever that one comes on, so how can I leave that out? Sigh. This is why I don't make Top Five lists. I give up.

All right then. Off to work. Happy Friday (and, of course, again, Happy 2008) to you all.

* Also, I was raised Catholic, which means I can leave the little tree up until the Epiphany on January 6 and say it's for religious reasons.

** Note to Carrie, Jamie, and anyone else who lives in a world void of trash pop culture: LiLo = Lindsay Lohan. You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I don't need permission, make my own decisions. That's my prerogative.

I think it is safe to say this will be the only time I ever take a post title (much less any life advice or inspiration) from a Bobby Brown lyric. Unfortunately, when I decided to ignore what I wrote yesterday about not making any silly resolutions, that old late 80s gem was the first thing to come to mind.

The thing is, when I perused my archives to recap what I did in 2007, I realized just how much I've come to rely on this blog to keep track of what I'm thinking or struggling with or enjoying at any given time. I haven't written in an old fashioned paper journal more than a handful of times since I started blogging, so if there's something I want to remember, this is probably the place to put it. So for my benefit and reference, if not for yours, here is my list. Shit I need to do, dammit, New Year or not. Wish me luck.

  • Get fucking organized already. Banish the clutter I am drowning in throughout my house and purge the crap I really no longer need. I think there may be something to those claims that a cluttered space creates a cluttered mind and a cluttered life, and my head could definitely use some clarity and clean-sweeping. So I'll start with my home and hopefully peace of mind will follow.

  • Revisit the budget I created (and subsequently mostly ignored) three years ago. Figure out how much money I'm supposed to have left after all my bills are paid each month and where the hell that money is actually going. Make sincere (sincere!) efforts to spend and not-spend accordingly.

  • Take a vitamin and a calcium supplement EVERY day. I did better at this after resolving to do it last year, but the result still probably averaged out to only once every three or four days. Starting now, I'm going to take my friend Jamie's advice and implement a calendar marking-off system to remind me, and I am going to finally DO this simple thing, dammit. It's that or start eating my vegetables, and frankly, we all know that's not going to happen.

  • Meet Lara in real life and in person. Of course, I would also love to meet all my other fabulous real and semi-imaginary blog friends, but Lara is the one I've been in contact with most closely and consistently, so she's the one I'll specify. There are some weeks when Lara actually knows more about what's going on in my life than the good friends in my own area code do, and while that means many things, one important thing it means is that we really must share a bottle (or two) of wine and play Boggle together. Soon.

  • Get more sleep. This one will be particularly laughable to any of my aforementioned real-life, same-area-code friends--the people who know better than to call me before 10:00 on weekend mornings because they know sleeping late (very late, by most of their standards) is the one thing that reliably makes me happier than any other thing in my life. The fact is I do not get enough sleep, though... not on weeknights, anyway, and if I actually turned off my TV or computer or put down my book at a reasonable hour on nights when I have to set an alarm, I'd probably be much more likely to get up when the hour's in the single digits on days when I don't.

It seems I'm already off to a bad start on that last one, as it's creeping up towards midnight, and putting on my flannel pants when I got home from work several hours ago is the only thing I've done that qualifies as getting ready for bed at this point. Better luck on that tomorrow, I suppose. Yawn.

Shows I've seen in 2008

  • Avenue Q - January 6 (State Theater)

  • The Bird and the Bee - January 10 (Varsity Theater)

  • Super Diamond - January 24 (Fine Line)

  • Bell X1 - March 20 (Varsity Theater)

  • Bob Schneider - May 2 (Fine Line)

  • Devotchka - May 7 (First Avenue)

  • Old 97s - June 4 (First Avenue)

  • Iron & Wine - June 11 (First Avenue)

  • Aimee Mann & Ben Kweller - June 12 (MN Zoo)

  • Romantica - June 19 (Mill City Museum)

  • Rock the Garden (Bon Iver, Cloud Cult, New Pornographers, and Andrew Bird) - June 21 (Walker Art Center)

  • She & Him - August 7 (First Avenue)

  • Romantica & Haley Bonar- September 5 (Mears Park - Concrete and Grass Festival)

  • Chris Koza - September 5 (Mears Park - Concrete and Grass Festival)

  • They Might Be Giants - September 12 (First Avenue)

  • Dar Williams (and Shawn Mullins) - September 22 (Guthrie Theater)

  • Mason Jennings - October 18 (The Orpheum)

  • David Sedaris - October 19 (State Theater)

  • Ingrid Michaelson w/David Ford and Newton Faulker - November 17 (Pantages)

  • Dan Wilson - December 13 (Pantages)

Books I've Read in 2008

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


  1. Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry
  2. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
  3. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
  4. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss ~/*
  5. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  6. Driving Sideways by Jess Riley ~
  7. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer ~
  8. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer ~
  9. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  10. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson ^
  11. Lamb by Christopher Moore ~
  12. The Stranger by Albert Camus

Movies I've seen in 2008

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

January 11 - Paris Je T'aime (2007)
January 12 - Across the Universe (2007) *
January 20 - A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory (2007)
January 27 - A Knight's Tale (2001) (RIP, Heath)
February 9 - The Ten (2007) ^
February 22 - Feast of Love (2007)
February 23 - Ratatouille (2007)
March 2 - Charlie Wilson's War (2007) *
March 4 - 2 Days in Paris (2007) ~
March 9 - Becoming Jane (2007) *
March 14 - Into the Wild (2007) *
March 22 - No Country for Old Men
April 4 - Dream for an Insomniac (1997) * (not the first time I've seen it; I own it now, actually)
April 8 - Two Weeks (2007)
April 11 - Atonement (2007) *
April 13 - Sweeney Todd (2007)
April 16 - Michael Clayton (2007)
April 20 - Lars and the Real Girl (2007) *
April 25 - Blindsight (2008) *
April 25 - Irina Palm (2008) *
April 26 - There Will Be Blood (2007)
May 3 - Planet of the Apes (1968)
May 8 - The Hagstone Demon (2008)
May 17 - The Big Lebowski (1998)
May 17 - 27 Dresses (2008)
May 22 - Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) *
May 23 - The Station Agent (2003) *
May 24 - The Savages (2007) *
May 25 - What America Needs (2003) * (I know the filmmaker, but I still think it's worthy of the "thumbs up" star) :-)
May 29 - No End in Sight (2007) *
May 31 - Made of Honor (2008) * (Shut up; I liked it, OK?)
June 15 - Sex & the City (2008) *
June 20 - The Lather Effect (2006) *
June 26 - 48 Hour Film Project (best of)
June 27 - The Rage in Placid Lake (2003) *
June 27 - The Darjeeling Limited (2007) *
June 28 - Je Ne Sais Quoi (2008) ~
July 4 - Ten Second Film Fest
July 5 - Definitely, Maybe (2008) *
July 5 - Charlie Bartlett (2007) *
July 18 - Big Eden (2001)
July 23 - Mamma Mia (2008) *
July 26 - P.S. I Love You (2007) *
August 3 - The Dark Knight (2008)
August 4 - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
August 15 - Starter for 10 (2007) ~
August 22 - In the Realms of the Unreal (2004) *
August 22 - Lucky 7 (2003)
August 23 - Pineapple Express (2008)
August 24 - Conventioneers (2006) *
August 28 - The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008) *
September 14 - Just Friends (2005)
September 14 - Waiting ^ (apparently it was Ryan Reynolds Day on Comedy Central, and I had nothing better to do)
September 19 - A Very Long Engagement (2004) ~
September 20 - The Visitor (2008) *
September 29 - Burn After Reading (2008) *
October 12 - Wall-E (2008) *
October 17 - The Band's Visit (2007) *
October 17 - Then She Found Me (2008) ~
October 22 - W. (2008)
October 23 - Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes (2008)
October 25 - L'Enfant (2006) ^
November 1 - Penelope (2008) *
November 15 - Smart People (2008) ^
November 21 - Twilight (2008)
November 22 - Yesterday (2004)
November 28 - Baby Mama (2008) * (Yes, yes, I know everyone else thought this was terrible. I laughed a lot, OK?)
December 3 - Australia (2008) ~
December 6 - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
December 24 - Dan in Real Life (2007) *
December 24 - The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
December 25 - Doubt (2008) *
December 25 - State and Main (2000) *
December 28 - Broken English (2007) ^
December 29 - Milk (2007) *

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Because I'm a nerd who needs to archive this sort of thing...

Previous years' book lists
2009 Books 
2008 Books
2007 Books
2006 Books

Previous years' movie lists
2009 Movies 
2008 Movies
2007 Movies

Previous years' show lists
2009 Shows 
2008 Shows
2007 Shows

The year in links

Hello, Internets. Did you miss me? When I said "See you later," I didn't really expect it to be this much later, but so it goes sometimes. I was enjoying offline life. I hope all of you did some of that this holiday season as well.

Christmas seems like a month ago at this point, so I won't bore you with a recap of that, except to say that I am finally the proud owner of a ridiculous gift I campaigned for ages ago... The seeds are spread on my new Chia Elephant, and I expect it to start sprouting a leafy green coat any day now. Jealous, aren't you? Yeah, I know. I also discovered that my friend Carrie and I are apparently more in sync than I realized, because we got each other the same damn gift. It wasn't even anything either of us had ever mentioned or talked about before. Apparently Vinotagz just said "Perfect present for my wino friend" to each of us in two different stores. Frankly, I'm still shaking my head over that one. Spooky.

While Christmas may be long gone, I don't think it's too late for a New Year's post. Making a few public resolutions last year didn't necessarily help me accomplish them, so I think I'll skip that this time around. I know what I need to do and why I need to do it, and I shouldn't need the turn of a calendar year to tell me when to start. Instead, then, how about a year-in-review, month by month, NPW style.

January: Rejoined meMarmony, with less than auspicious results. Went rollerskating for the first time in at least a decade and a half. Despite my advanced age, did not fall once, and did not break a hip. Attended a ridiculous singles party. (Gained blog fodder and a bit of humility, but little else.)

February: Went on the worst date of my life. ("Nonfiction means not true, right?" Sigh.) Won two (two!) Poppy Awards. Realized it is never safe to enter Target with greasy hair. Read my second favorite book of the year.

March: Survived two formidable blizzards (and another run-in with a former meMarmony match). Realized my gym sucks. Celebrated my 33rd birthday and my 2nd blogiversary.

April: In lieu of any photos documenting the event, drew for you an approximation of me in my junior prom dress. Learned how to be a liquorologist. Avoided becoming Stefanie Tanner. Read my favorite book of the year.

May: Napped in a public park, like a common urban hobo. Said goodbye to my friends in Stars Hollow. Wrote a post that a certain someone is still a little pissed about (only semi-rightfully). Saw my favorite movie of the year. Realized I own way too many lip products. Went to Texas all by myself.

June: Discovered the scariest dolls on earth. Learned there is a right way to dice a tomato. Road-tripped to Ohio with three friends. Met the lovely and charming Noelle. Bought and played with a woefully inaccurate breathalyzer.

July: Reveled in everything I love about Minneapolis in the summertime. Ran into a meMarmony match at Target--AGAIN. Realized blueberries taste better when you pick them yourself.

August: Developed an understandable fear of bridges. Did not attend my high school reunion.

September: Walked across the Mississippi River headwaters. Pilgrimaged to a pizza farm. Made my own oat flour. (Four months later, and I'm still beyond impressed with myself for that.) Grew increasingly distrustful of the Saturn service center goblins.

October: Participated in the Great Mofo Delurk. Read something I wrote at the most original wedding ceremony I've ever attended. Dated the same person for over a month. Helped turn all our attention to the environment on Blog Action Day. Realized I should probably be more diligent about taking my calcium supplement. Met Crazy Aunt Purl. Ran my first blog contest.

November: Posted every damn day for a month. (Yes, I know I still have X, Y, and Z to do in my Encyclopedia of Me.) Participated in the first (and hopefully not last) Blog Swap. Overshared with my new doctor. Partied like it was 1899 at an absinthe-centered event.

December: Met one of my favorite imaginary boyfriends in real life. Went to Seattle for a brief getaway. Won the "tackiest holiday flair" prize at a Christmas cocktail party. And of course, rang in the new year with good friends and too much wine.

All in all, it was a fine year, but I'm hoping for even better things in 2008. The psychic I saw last January declared that this coming year is my year romance-wise, and if she's right, maybe things in the rest of my life will follow suit, too. Our friend Liz had her turn in 2007 (Year of Liz! I swear the trophy helped...); I think it's only fair we decree it my turn in 2008. Mark my words: Year of Stef! Please inform the universe on my behalf.

And with that, I'm going to put my hungover self to bed. Year of Stef starts tomorrow, perhaps.

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and a safe and fabulous New Year's Eve. Happy new year, friends!