Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Points for creativity anyway?

Excerpt from the profile of the latest guy to "Hotlist" me (provided in the Why You Should Get to Know Me box)...

You know, I think that of all the monster cereal mascots, Frankenberry is the most difficult to explain. BooBerry's backstory is pretty easy to figure out: He was a man out picking blueberries for his morning breakfast and got mauled to death by a grizzly bear. Now his ghost is carrying out his unfinished business by infusing the blueberries INTO the cereal so others won't befall the same fate. That's quite altruistic for a spirit who died a violent death, you must admit. Not like those catty Japanese ghosts with the unkempt hair.

Count Chocula is clearly a reformed vampire who joined a 12-step group like Blood Drinkers Anonymous and was taught that it was OK to replace one crippling addiction with another. Hey, whatever works for him.

But Frankenberry, my GOD. So we're to assume that a mad scientist dug up some graves, stole several corpses, stitched various body parts together, then reanimated dead flesh so his unholy creation......... could hock strawberry cereal? And if that's the case, why the HELL did the scientist feel the need to attach a steam whistle to his head? I mean, does this make sense to ANY of you??

So ladies, if you think I'm compelling now, just wait 'til you get some liquor in me.

Oh, I almost forgot. I'm looking for a woman to date and stuff. So write me and maybe we can discuss deep meaningful issues over a nice bottle of, um, chianti.

I do realize, by the way, that posting this on the Internet is very likely a bad, bad idea. But is Bachelor #347 really going to Google his profile responses to see if his words have been published anywhere else? Let's hope not. If nothing else, I will find out if my two friends who are lurking on the same site have been Hotlisted or winked at Mr. Big Questions as well. It's important to know these things, after all. If someone's going to Hotlist me, I'd like to know that it means something, that I'm special in some way. (You know, in as much as receiving a pre-approved credit card offer from Chase makes me feel special, or being called for a donation from the Minneapolis Fireman's Ball does. It's all about the small things, isn't it?)

I can say this for sure: I never saw this sort of originality on meMarmony. (Wait. Scratch that. I never saw originality that didn't frighten or entirely confuse me.) Of course, meMarmony guys actually EMAILED me rather than just passively Hotlisting me and waiting for ME to step up. It's a trade-off, I suppose.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh good! More complaining. And also, a riddle. Yay.

I fear I have hit a bit of a bump in this new healthy living plan of mine. Last night, I had planned to make a Spicy Shrink Yer Butt Salad* for dinner, but instead was so hungry (and OK, lazy) that I made and ate the better part of a Freschetta pizza instead. By "better part" I mean not that there was a good part and a bad part and I ate the more favorable one. No, I mean that I cut that full-sized pizza into eight slices and I ate six of them. SIX. On the plus side, it was a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza. Pineapple counts as fruit, right? Even if it's just in tiny, tiny shards atop a bed of melted cheese? I thought so.

* Response from my amateur chef friend when I shared this link with her? "Ha. I make salads like that all the time. Seems hard to believe that anyone would need a recipe for that!" (Response from me if said chef weren't one of my closest friends? "Bite me. We can't all be Martha, you know.")

Moreover, thanks to last week's death cold, I have not been to the gym in over a week. And I was doing so well, too! The post-it in my Outlook Notes component showed I was easily on my way to another 17-visit month. Alas, it will have to be a measly 9 to 12 as per usual instead.

So I have not done any sort of proper exercise lately--that is, unless coughing and blowing my nose counts as an abdominal workout. (You laugh, but -R- threw her back out during a coughing fit, so obviously either being sick involves more physical exertion than you remember or we are both shamefully old and feeble. If you are going to vote for the latter, I really don't need to hear from you, thanks.) Despite my having done no proper exercise, however, every part of my body hurts today. Why? Because I spent the day yesterday turning this...


...into this.


All right, so obviously not all of that happened yesterday. I have been whining and bragging about this basement project for months. The majority of the carpet part happened yesterday, though, and it was entirely more strenuous than the "just peel and stick" instructions would have you believe. Clearly laying carpet tile is a valid physical activity worthy of being featured on one of those "Do" billboards I'm seeing all over the place. I had no idea spending six hours laying carpet tile would make every muscle in my body cry, "I'm here! Did you forget about me? HERE I AM, friend!"? People, it hurts to drive. Even the most brutal kickboxing or yoga class doesn't leave my palms too bruised to grab the steering wheel. I wasn't really shooting for stronger palms, but I say sore body = exercise. And a six-hour workout more than justifies six slices of pizza. See how nicely I rationalized that?

By the way, I know you're beyond jealous of that couch. You're wishing YOUR house had come with one of those. Strangely, it almost sort of matches the new color scheme, but I'll be covering it with a slip cover soon anyway. I've decided that if nothing has crawled out of that couch in the four years I've lived here, it's probably safe to use, but I still don't want to rest my head directly on the ancient "who knows what's been here" fabric.

On an entirely different note, here's a puzzle for you. When you decide a late-night cup of herbal tea might be nice, but the Sleepytime tea in your cupboard says it was best before August of 2002, what do you do? The correct answer, of course, is to drink the free sample bag of Tazo resting against the Sleepytime box, which you are sure has been around for just as long, but which conveniently bears no expiration date. Denial is a handy tool, my friends. Words to live by, I say.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Also, I just realized Jeopardy! is on at 3:00*

Well, I fought a good fight for a while, but the cold was winning, so I finally gave in and left work early yesterday and also stayed home from work today. And while that whole "when life hands you lemons" mindset tells me to enjoy an excuse to relax without guilt, to realize that an aching head and a fever are perfectly good reasons to spend an entire day alternating between my couch and my bed, I still fear an intervention may be in order. Why?

Five reasons it's a good thing I'm not home during the day every day.

1. Ellen
2. Gilmore Girls and Full House reruns on ABC Family
3. Little House on the Prairie on the Hallmark channel
5. Oprah

People, I didn't even remember I had ABC Family or the Hallmark channel. I have got to rally myself into an upright position and leave the house soon.

On the up and productive side, I have finally almost finished hand-stitching the binding on my quilt. If this cold doesn't let up soon, I may even finish those damn socks as well. We shall see.

* Ooh! But it's on opposite back-to-back episodes of What I Like About You! I really, really shouldn't have consulted the Yahoo TV listings today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If this post is insufferable, I blame the meds.

It seems my body has decided to celebrate the much-anticipated onset of spring by infecting itself with the sort of fantastic virus that makes me want to curl up in bed with my stuffy, sniffly, achy-headed self rather than go outside to run through the tulips and make wishes on puppies or whatever the hell all those healthy people who can still breathe through their noses are doing out there tonight. It seems a bit suspicious to me that just when I start trying to eat healthy, my immune system revolts. "Where are my processed, refined carbs!?" my blood cells seem to say. "Why haven't we had chocolate in over a week!?" I've said before that my poor diet was apparently defying science and somehow magically helping to maintain the delicate balance that generally keeps me superhumanly impervious to cold and flu. It's like the crayon lodged in Homer's brain that kept him from being a genius, except that really it's not like that at all.

In any case, in my mind's foggy and self-pitying state, I can't possibly be expected to form logical transitions in a coherent and well-flowing post. You know what that means, right? Bullet points it is! Yay for lazy under-the-weather blogging! Away we go.

  • Around my birthday, I thought it was about time to revisit those New Year's resolutions of mine to see how I'm doing. I always find it hard to think of starting over and new-leaf-turning in the gray bleak of winter anyway (when there are no actual new leaves to turn). Spring seems the more logical time for shaking off the dust in my life and making changes, and since spring's when I mark another year since my birth, that feels like a good time to think about resolutions for the still large chunk of the year ahead. When I looked back at my resolutions this time, I realized I wasn't doing all that well... The vitamin one's going great (seriously? marking this off on my kitchen calendar was all I had to do to make it stick??), the "get fucking organized" one is in some slow but steady progress, and I finally (finally!) met Lara (along with NPW, Red, and once again, Noelle). But the budget? Haven't touched it. I am excellent at running out of money before pay day. I am not so excellent at figuring out just why. And finally, as for the more-sleep-on-weeknights goal? Well, one benefit of this cold is that I went to bed at 9:30 last night. I don't remember the last time I did that. It was remarkable! I told myself I would go to bed by 9:30, and I did exactly that! I have nine minutes to hit "Publish" and make that happen again this evening. We'll see how that goes tonight.

  • Speaking (again) of my cold (because, hello, no one else has ever suffered a cold before, so I must milk as much sympathy as possible for the cross obviously I alone have to bear), I know exactly from which coworker I acquired this bug, and when she came to my desk to apologize for sharing, I accused her of licking my keyboard. The look of unparalleled disgust on her face was understandable, given that this particular woman is so prim and tidy that she probably lays toilet paper squares down in her own bathroom before she'll sit. Still, I thought it was funny, anyway. (But then, we've already established that my humor isn't for everyone, right?)

  • I didn't really intend for the first two bullets to be about my cold. Perhaps I didn't need the bullets of not-so-randomness after all.

  • I also didn't intend to be so linky-here, linky-there tonight. Are any of you really going to click through and read the cross-referenced material? It's OK if you don't. I just like to be thorough and precise.

  • On my way home from work tonight, I saw a group of twenty-somethings teaching themselves to tightrope-walk across a red rope rigged up between two trees in a park. This park is, by the way, the same forest of whimsy near my house where I saw the motley crew of mismatched half-Renaissance men having a photo shoot last year. (And there I go with the links again. Whoopsie.) This begs a multitude of questions (or, three, at least, anyway). Does a troupe of circus and festival performers live nearby? Do they actually live next door? And if so, do I want to be invited to their parties, or not so much? Or, alternately, are they a group of mythical nymphs or fairies who actually live in those woods and come out only... er, only in broad daylight, it seems? I do not know, but I can't wait to see who I drive past in that park next time.

  • Since I'm sure at least two of you are curious, I did email the Hotlist tag guy, the English professor. For those of you who were unclear, by the way, a Hotlist is not the same as a wink, although both can be equally maddening in their passive, er... what's the opposite of passive-aggressive? Passive-friendly? Just plain passive? Moving on. Both are equally maddening, as both imply that the guy viewing my profile is expecting me to step up, and that is not how I roll. OK, it is sometimes how I roll, but in my many years of dating trials and failures, it is rarely the route to success. In any case, I emailed him. The deciding factor was his answer to the "If I was given a million dollars" question (or rather, non-question, as it's stated in that format exactly--a question mark-less sentence fragment). His answer to the non-question was, and I quote, "That should be 'If I *were* given a million dollars,' by the way. Hooray for the subjunctive!" Clearly that is a man after my own heart. My profile may as well say "Word nerd seeks same," it seems.

  • The Neighborhood Giant? Apparently not a man after my own heart, as it's now eight days post-date and still no word from him. The man baffles me. BAFFLES. And that's hard for anyone to accomplish at this point. Moving on.

  • Did you know that if you peel a banana from the bottom rather than the top, those little stringy bits don't stick? No? You didn't know that? That's because it's not true. I have tried this at least five times since I saw this supposedly handy tip in an email my mother forwarded, and it has yet to work even once. This should not surprise me, given the reliability (or rather, lack thereof) of the other information she's forwarded over the years. Microsoft is not giving away money, mother. Barack Obama is not a closet Muslim. Now I just need to find the Snopes.com page to dispel this banana myth.
And that's about enough Wednesday randomness*, I think. It's off to bed (20 minutes late, but still better than usual) for me.

* TM Funky Carter

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

At my office, we celebrated by turning on the air conditioner. In April. In Minnesota. When it's 64 degrees outside.

The environment is overrated anyway, right?

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm (cough) fine. How are you?

A friend I hadn't seen in a while recently asked, "So how's your dating life going?" Reasonable question, I guess, and since I haven't written about any dates in quite some time, perhaps you're wondering as well.

So how is my dating life going? Well, let's see.

  • The other day I logged on to the site where I currently have a profile posted for the first time in a couple of weeks, and I saw that the most recent guy to view my profile has a tagline that says, "It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose." Really, dude? Really? This is the guy you want to call to mind when trying to gain a woman's trust and interest? I don't know how that's working out for you, but I won't be finding out myself. As a sidenote, remind me not to go out with anyone driving a white cargo van or citing a penchant for at-home taxidermy in his list of interests.

  • I've also been viewed by an English professor whose vocabulary and presumed grammar prowess might make up for his geographic undesirability, but I may never find that out for sure because we are too busy engaged in a ridiculous Hotlist standoff to actually correspond directly. He "Hotlisted" me on April 8. I saw that note in my "Who's viewing me" list, looked at his profile, and thought, "Eh. He could be interesting... Maybe I'll send him a message later... Or maybe I'll just put him in MY Hotlist, too, so he sees it as a green light to step up and contact me." He did not contact me. He did, however, re-Hotlist me the following day. Apparently he'd rather play Hotlist tag than actually spend precious points to email me. This "post-for-free, pay-to-email" system has some flaws, obviously. At meMarmony, the men may be lazy, but on this site, they're lazy and cheap! Methinks it's time to change venues again.

  • Do you remember The Neighborhood Giant? He mysteriously popped back into my Inbox last week just as unexpectedly as he vanished from it nearly two months ago. I briefly considered holding a little poll to let you guys decide whether I should take him up on his invitation and see him again. (Remember how fun that was with the meMarmony guy known as "Med"? Was that really only a year ago now?? Dang, it seems like way more bad dates ago than that.) I decided against the poll pretty quickly, though--partly because that's just the sort of seemingly harmless little game that got Noelle in trouble last week and I'm maybe a little gun shy because of that, but also because I knew I'd already made up my mind. Yes, the guy vanished with no warning or excuse after a seemingly good second date. Yes, he has the annoying habit of emailing as though he's Twittering--like he's adhering to a self-imposed max number of characters per message and couldn't possibly type more than two lines. But despite any annoying habits and fuckwittery, we actually did have a good time on those two prior dates. The more I date, the more I realize what a rare stroke of luck it is to meet someone with whom I have any connection or chemistry at all... someone I feel I'm actually conversing with, not just talking at and listening to. And if that isn't enough reason to give TNG another chance, need I remind you that the man is 6'7" (six-foot-SEVEN!) and lives a mere two miles from my house? Do not underestimate the appeal of height and proximity when you are a taller than average girl and gas is well over $3 a gallon. I am nothing if not practical, as we all know.

    Unfortunately, it seems I may be in one of those "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" situations, because it's been six days since our seemingly good third date and I've yet to hear from the man at all. Since TNG has established a history of being less than ambitious with the follow-up, I suppose it may be a few days too early to assume myself a fool just yet, but the Magic 8 Ball I shook in my head reads "Outlook not good" anyway.

All of that aside, I had a mostly fun weekend. Fun = a Friday night chatting with a few good friends old and new and a Saturday night of too much wine and cheese followed by too many gin & tonics at a bar with an alarming amount of bad hair. Not-so-fun = The sore throat I'm rocking after several hours spent shouting over the noise in the bad hair bar and several more inhaling possibly carcinogenic dust while laying carpet tile in my basement yesterday afternoon. (I WILL finish that half-assed remodeling project eventually... presumably just in time to enjoy the cool, naturally air-conditioned comfort of those concrete block walls during the ungodly heat of an August night.)

On top of all that, it is finally spring, which I know not because I did anything crazy like go outside on what was purportedly a downright lovely day yesterday, but because the panel on the video billboard on my way to work that indicates the current temperature now features a picture of a robin in the grass, rather than a worried-looking melting snowman. Whoo. Thank you, Clear Channel, for that helpful visual aid.

Friday, April 18, 2008

We get by with a little help from our friends

A dear blog friend of mine (actually, scratch that "blog" qualifier; she's totally a real friend by now) had a bit of a rough week, for ridiculous reasons that I still can't quite wrap my head around. Anyone who reads Noelle's blog already knows all the nonsense she's had to put up with the past few days, all because a bunch of people with no sense of humor or perspective couldn't tell the difference between a sarcastic, self-deprecating post and a sincere, shallow jab at a nameless man, and they decided that disagreeing with a couple hundred words on a stranger's personal blog (a couple hundred words that weren't even written to be taken seriously or literally by any means) was cause to spew hate and judgment and in some cases, actual calls for bodily harm. It was absurd. And although I'm sure Noelle herself knows it was absurd and would probably much rather just move on and forget about all this than have any of us dwell on it any longer, I'd still like her to know that the people who actually know her and have read more than that one isolated (And also? Hilarious.) post know that there are plenty of reasons every rude, thoughtless word typed about her is entirely wrong.

So with that, today’s Friday Five is for you, my friend.

Five reasons Noelle is awesome
  1. She had the strength to end a relationship with a man whom she loved but couldn't give her what she needs. A whole lot of us know how easy it is to make excuses, to tell yourself things are "good enough," to coast along in a situation that's comfortable but not entirely fulfilling because it's easier than acknowledging that something important is missing and having the guts to break away and start over again from scratch. Knowing what's best for yourself in the long run is one thing. Having the strength to do what's best even when it's scary and sad and lonely is quite another.

  2. She gets to work with books every day of her life, and she spends her weekends working with books some more. Also, in an age when so many people assume the independent bookseller is doomed, she makes her living getting books to them.

  3. She managed to post every day of NaBloPoMo, despite landing in the hospital with a broken ankle on the very first day of the challenge and being laid up with (one would think) little to write about for several weeks thereafter.

  4. She has more discipline than I can comprehend or relate to in any way. Getting up two hours before the sun in the cold dead of winter to shiver her way to a swim workout? Eschewing cheese and ice cream for an entire month and all forms of pasta for the following one? I cry a little bit inside just thinking about it. Noelle, you’re some kind of superhero as far as I'm concerned. Go you.

  5. She created a brilliant recap of The Ruins that by several accounts is far more entertaining than the film itself. If ever a post of Noelle’s deserved a flurry of 136 lively comments, it was this one, not the one that proved to us that the Internet is not always the warm, happy supportive place we've grown to love. I am telling you, if you have not yet seen Noelle’s Dollar Store doll reenactment of The Ruins, you must click over immediately. I promise it's the funniest thing you will read all week.

On top of all that, she is smart and clever and pretty and she lives on a Christmas Tree farm! What's not to like about any of that? I could go on, but you get the point. Noelle is the proverbial cat's pajamas, the bee's knees, and all sorts of other non-animal-related superlatives as well. Show her some love in the comments, if you'd like. And happy Friday, all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This just in: fruits and vegetables are GOOD for you.

People. I have been eating REAL food for eleven days now. No. Seriously! I am eating fruit! AND vegetables! And not just one or the other, but both on the same day! Often even multiple times in the same day! I will stop with the exclamation points eventually, I promise. It's just that I don't remember the last time I routinely consumed all portions of the food pyramid in anywhere close to their recommended amounts.

Do you know what is even more remarkable, though? I think this eating healthier thing is actually working. Within days, I started feeling better than I've felt at any point in recent (or not-so-recent) history. My perpetually sore hamstrings aren't always so sore. I don't feel like a creaky old senior citizen when I climb the stairs to my desk every morning. I've had no, er, stomach issues. (Don't worry; I wasn't going to write about those.) I have more energy and feel less sluggish. I no longer feel like my limbs and torso are filled with bags of sand and molasses. (I know--"Sand and molasses?" Yes. That's the analogy I've had in my head. Cancer victims visualize their good cells growing strong enough to overtake the bad. Poorly nourished women with overactive imaginations envision their insides clogged up with sticky, heavy goo. Or, this one does, apparently.)

I sound ridiculous, I know. This is not rocket surgery. My entire life I've heard "You are what you eat," and therefore, if I am eating crap, it should not surprise me that I feel like crap. But... who knew all that goody-goody USDA marketing and public service nonsense was actually true??

So. The eating better thing is going well for now, for the first time ever, I think. I'm still skeptical about how long it will last. (Until my stomach turns at the thought of another salad or fruit smoothie, I predict.) But for now, I am ridiculously proud of myself, and I can't stop talking about this to anyone who will listen. I'm all, "Have you heard about this thing called nutrition? It actually works! Yes! I'm as surprised as you!"

(Now might be a good time to point out how very lucky you are if you do not know me in real life. I promise I am more interesting than this, at least on occasion. I hope.)

In addition to feeling loads better, I'm also already noticing a wee bit less of the extra padding around my midsection that's been growing steadily for the past year or two. If the happier muscles and digestive tract aren't enough to keep me eating like a normal person (or, like a normal person is supposed to eat), then I'm hoping the prospect of weight loss will motivate me as well.

With that part in mind, I've also been trying to step up the exercise routine a bit. Long-time readers who are extra good at remembering everything I ever write will recall that my company pays for my gym membership, provided I go at least eight times a month. This has never been a problem for me; I rarely have a month where I'm there only eight times. Usually it's in the ten to twelve range... sometimes as high as seventeen (though admittedly, that month was a fluke). The problem is that in the past year or two, nearly all of those workouts have been over my lunch break, meaning they're often quite short and not particularly strenuous. I rationalize this by saying that doing half-assed workouts twice as often equals the same results as a proper workout the standard three or so times a week. Unfortunately, the full of my ass (and the muffin top above my waist band) disagree. So I've been trying to pick up the intensity.

Part of this has just been varying my routine at the gym. Instead of just alternating between the treadmill and the elliptical (followed by a few quick reps on the weight machines to finish), I've branched out and tried the rowing machine and the behemoth stair climber. I'm not talking about the traditional Stairmaster, where you lean on a set of upright handles and tap delicately away on dainty little pedals. No, I mean the massive and imposing machine that stands above all other machines in the line of cardio equipment... the one that looks like someone broke a chunk off of an escalator and placed it in a room as a sort of perverse Sisyphean punishment for all who step upon it. I've never had an inclination to even try the stairway to nowhere, until -R- spoke highly of it. Like -R-, my gauge of a good workout is something that "makes me really sweaty but does not make me want to die." With that ringing endorsement, I had to give the thing a try.

The other reason I've avoided the mega-Stairmaster is that it is situated directly in line with the television that's tuned to ESPN. You probably know by now (by the complete absence of any professional sports-related posts on this blog) that I could not care less about ESPN. I would much rather wile away my 25 minutes of lunchtime cardio letting my brain deteriorate in front of the closed-captioned TV airing Days of Our Lives. (Shut up; it is just a diversion. I swear I can quit any time.) As it turns out, the ESPN zone is the place to be. Not only do they have the crazy stair climber, but they have much fancier treadmills as well. People, did you know there are treadmills with built-in fan vents?? And fun little blinking lights that indicate where you are along an imaginary track?? Of course you knew that. Your gym probably has personal TVs in every machine and free pizza once a month. Mine does not. Let me take my small pleasures where I can.

So that is what I am up to lately. Blending up fruits and making lots of salads like Montel told me to, and speed-walking around an imaginary track. All of this should make for riveting conversation on my date tomorrow, obviously. What have you been doing lately?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm not The Luckiest

Well. That was fun, wasn't it? Thank you to everyone who played my little guessing game on Friday. I suppose I've kept you waiting long enough. Here's the follow-up to my "Four mini claims to fame and one great big ol' lie" post.

  1. My friend Amy designed the Summit beer label.
    True. I actually meant logo, not label, but whatever. Close enough. Amy is a graphic designer for a local advertising agency, and Summit is just one of the many brands she's worked on. She got married last fall, but in her online dating days, this tidbit proved an excellent fun fact to share in early emails and first dates. Oddly, the men I date aren't nearly as impressed or interested when I talk about my job. Go figure.

  2. My friend Carrie once had a poem published in Sassy.
    True. When I learned this about a year ago, I was sure I likely still had the issue in my old bedroom at my parents' house, and I was excited to go look for it the next time I went home. As it turns out, my old Sassy issues must have ended up in the same black hole that my prom pictures did. I have three years of Seventeen (in all their stirrup panted, blue eye shadowed, mall haired glory), but any evidence that I ever subscribed to a more reputable teen mag is entirely missing. Oddly, though, when Carrie mailed me the poem to share with all of you, I honestly thought I remembered reading it years ago. Maybe I do.

    I missed the inauguration
    while I was studying
    war was declared
    I'm not sure why
    I was studying
    during a breathtaking sunset
    I was in my room
    when the wall fell
    I was studying.

    Carrie also shared with me her thought process behind the poem. She says, "I have a weird memory of studying for a biology exam when the Gulf War was declared. Things felt disjointed because I was just a teenager and biology was supposed to be important, not war, and I couldn’t study for the exam. I wrote this poem, which I loved at the time because you could back up and repeat the line you just read along with the next one and string full sentences together."

    I remember writing my concerns about the war in my journal instead of studying the week the first Gulf War began, too, but my thoughts never got published in a magazine. Or anywhere, obviously. I am a poster child for mediocrity. Moving on...

  3. My friend Tina's brother had a brief role on the WB gem What I Like About You.
    True. I learned this when I stayed at her apartment in Seattle a few months ago. Flipping through her DVDs, I came across a few currently unreleased DVDs from the last season of the show. Obviously she had no idea What I Like About You was a guilty pleasure of mine when it was on the air, because she rushed to defend and explain herself. "Hey, I actually liked that show," I reassured her. "Really?" she replied. And then, "Yeah, I guess it wasn't so bad." Regardless, I do not remember her brother's character, so I'll have to borrow those discs (or wait for them to show up on Netflix) to see him.

  4. I once got to join Ben Folds on the piano at First Avenue (in a lucky "volunteer from the audience" moment).
    False. As soon as I clicked "Publish," I thought I'd made this game entirely too easy and surely all of you would know this was not true. (3Carnations guessing this one right out of the gate only reinforced that suspicion.) So I was glad to see that at least not all of you immediately thought this was obviously and ridiculously untrue. I maintain that it is not entirely absurd an idea... I've been to two Better than Ezra shows where they took a volunteer from the audience to accompany them on guitar, so I say it could just as easily happen with Ben and the piano. I played piano for several years, so technically I'd be qualified to volunteer, but I haven't practiced in years, so I'd surely make much more a fool of myself than the Better than Ezra groupie kid did. I'd probably struggle with the notes just as woefully as Kerri Green in Goonies. Being booed at every wrong note is probably a more favorable fate than having portions of the ledge I'm on fall beneath me with each mistake, but it would be no less nerve wracking, I imagine.

  5. My friend Jenny's grandpa named Rocky Road ice cream.
    True. Her grandpa owned an ice cream company in St. Paul, and apparently one day he decided that Chocolate Marshmallow Nut Swirl was "too damn long," so he decided to call it Rocky Road instead. The name stuck. Or so the story goes. Wikipedia doesn't corroborate the story, but I believe her anyway. Wouldn't you?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Almost Famous

I was thinking the other day about what an unlikely (but fantastic) claim to fame NPW's friends have gained on their cross-country typo hunt. (Yeah, did you miss the fact that NPW actually knows those guys? She totally does.) It never occurred to me that being a stickler for spelling and grammar could get me on TV. Now that that's been done, however, I'll have to find my 15 minutes elsewhere.

This got me thinking about tiny claims to fame or almost-fame, and I decided that a "brush with greatness" list would make a good Friday Five. (Remember when I used to do those every week? Yeah, so do I. It's hard to come up with a new list topic every week! YOU try it for 94 weeks in a row!)

Anyway, so I decided to make a list. Unfortunately, I came up with only four items to put on it. Know what that means? One of these is a lie. Can you guess which one? There will be no prizes, but feel free to guess your little hearts out anyway.

Four Mini Claims to Fame (and one that's just great ol' big lie)
  1. My friend Amy designed the Summit beer label.
  2. My friend Carrie once had a poem published in Sassy.
  3. My friend Tina's brother had a brief role on the WB gem What I Like About You.
  4. I once got to join Ben Folds on the piano at First Avenue (in a lucky "volunteer from the audience" moment).
  5. My friend Jenny's grandpa named Rocky Road ice cream.

It's an interactive Friday Five! Let's play!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Scratch what I said the other day about my future as a pioneer woman. Not gonna happen, obviously. When I pulled into my driveway tonight, my garage door opener wouldn't work. I thought maybe the clicker had died (which would be no great surprise, given that the Scotch tape holding it together may actually be older than I am). I got out of my car, unlocked the side door, and pressed the opener button inside. Still no luck. At this point, it occurred to me not that my ancient garage door opener was broken, but that my power might be out. I plugged in the work light above the table at which I do no work. No light. Yep, no power.

At this point, my thoughts went as follows:

  1. Crap. I have to leave my car outside, tonight, of all nights? Tonight, when it's already rainy and blustery and unpleasant and when the "wintry mix" in the air is sure to turn into solid ice on my windshield, which I'll have to get up early to scrape, if I can even get out of my driveway anyway after the six inches of spring snow the weather people are predicting? I have a garage for a reason, and I'd like my car in it, thank you!

  2. Crap. No power means no TV! And The Office is finally new again tonight! Nooooooooooooooo!!!

  3. Crap. I just went grocery shopping yesterday. (Yes. Again. Eating healthy is expensive, dammit.) I wonder how long that chicken will be safe in my fridge.

And then I got inside and remembered something else that's rather important relies on electricity as well. My furnace. It may be "spring" (ha), but it was 56 degrees in my house. Brr.

I called the power company to report the outage. While I waited for the automated voice named Amy to confirm she had entered my complaint, I thought about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I considered that I might have to spend an entire lonely evening with no TV, no Internet, no furnace or microwave. I wondered "What would Half Pint do?" I was quietly resigning myself to a night reading by candles or flashlight, telling myself stories to pass the time, and going to bed at a reasonable hour for once, for lack of anything better to do. And then Automated Amy came back to inform me that my power would be back by 7:20. The one analog clock in my house said it was currently 6:15. I would have to live in a simpler age of no electrical conveniences for a mere hour and five minutes. And all I would miss was 20 minutes of My Name is Earl.

Five minutes later, just as I was pulling on a polar fleece and digging up a pair of gloves appropriately thin enough for indoor wear, my microwave started blinking its "Power Failure" light and my refrigerator started whirring again.

Five minutes. How did they even do that? Is there a little red "Reset" switch for my address on a wall in an Xcel Energy building somewhere? Is there an emergency team of electric company superheros who were able to whisk themselves to the power lines behind my house at a moment's notice? I do not know, but I do know that my car is safety stored out of the elements, I can still eat the chicken in my fridge likely without acquiring a bout of food poisoning, and I was able to see Michael and Jan's disastrous dinner party in real-time. And for all of those, I am rather grateful.

The simple life is overrated, I say.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I'm not as funny as I think I am

Apparently in some future life I intend to be a pioneer woman. I've not yet finished hand-stitching the binding on my quilt and already I'm in another crafty grandmotherly class. This time I'm learning to knit socks--something I've not yet attempted in all of my knitting thus far. (Note: Those photos do not represent all of my knitting. They represent only the knitting that I've completed since I bought a digital camera and that I was able to find on my hard drive the day I uploaded that album. I don't know why I feel compelled to clarify this, but obviously being generous with the details is my thing, so it shouldn't really surprise either of us, should it?)

ANYWAY... So I'm taking a sock knitting class. And it's not at all a grandmotherly sock knitting class; it's a pretty hipster-heavy group and it takes place in a very hipster-friendly shop. I wasn't at a Quaker knitting bee; I wasn't in a church basement with a group of mild-mannered lady parishioners. Know your audience, right? And that's why I'm still surprised this joke went so awry.

Instructor: My dad can knit two mittens at the same time, one inside the other. I'm pretty sure he's the only person who can do that.

Me: Your dad knits? Wow. My dad reads the paper and drinks. I suppose we all have our hobbies.

Crickets. Slight nervous laughter.

Seriously, people? Nothing?

Tough crowd.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

If you weren't hungry before you started reading this, you will be by the time you're done. I'm sorry.

First off, how about a hearty round of applause for NPW on last week's Choose Your Own Blogventure game? Wasn't that fun? I know it was no small feat organizing all of us wily bloggers into formation for such an undertaking, but NPDubs did it presumably with all fingernails still intact. Well done, my friend. I won't dare ask you when the next CYOB will be, but I do believe you have started something that must happen again. Good luck with that. And by the way, as a brief side note, is it just me, or do the rest of you see "CYOB" and want to turn those letters into "Carry Your Own Booze" or "Cover Your Own Butt" or some other similar distortion of another semi-well-known acronym? No? That's just me? I thought so. Moving on.

Friday after work I spent an absurd amount of money on groceries. ("Absurd" = $161, which, eerily, is the same amount that Poppy spent on groceries this weekend as well. As we both live alone, we were equally dismayed we managed to rack up that total.) In my defense, I had not gone shopping for weeks, and I was essentially down to spaghetti sauce, Kraft singles, pudding cups, and Triscuits. Sometimes I think it would be fun to host an Iron Chef-esque reality show in my home. In my version, though, there would be no secret ingredient. Instead, the catch would be that the chefs have to make a delicious meal using only ingredients I have on hand. I would love to see what inventive and remarkable things could be accomplished with no staples such as bread, eggs, or vegetables. Don't worry, chefs... I have flour! And condiments! Surely you can do something with those! (Incidentally, have I already written about this idea before? It's entirely possible I have. Carry on.)

So anyway, I went grocery shopping so that I wouldn't resort to having Kellogg's All Bran crackers dipped in cream cheese for dinner (or, to be more honest, resort to having Kellogg's All Bran crackers dipped in cream cheese for dinner a second night in a row). Rather than filling my cart with my usual boxes of carb-heavy, preservative-laden frozen and packaged foods, however, I did what the experts have been telling me to do for years: I focused nearly all my shopping in the outer areas of the store--the produce, dairy, and fresh foods area--and made only a few forays into the inner aisles. I bought fruit! And not just bananas! I bought a papaya and a mango and a bag of oranges! I bought lettuce! And jicama! And cherry tomatoes! I am entirely more proud of myself for this than I should be. I felt like the cashier should have given me a gold star when I piled my selections on the conveyor belt.

I've tried this "I'm going to eat real food" thing before... several times, in fact. It never sticks, largely because I am lazy and I do not like going to the grocery store as regularly as is required when the food you're buying is food that can't be stockpiled for weeks. Also, real food requires assembly and preparation. Theoretically, I'd love to bring a healthy snack such as baby carrots and hummus to work, but that requires divvying the carrots up into a little bag and finding a handy travel-sized container to hold a serving or so of dip, and making time for these bothersome tasks in my morning routine would require that I hit the snooze button a time or two less, and that, friends, is a battle I just can't seem to win. So we'll see how long this healthy eating kick lasts this time. I did rather well all weekend, if you don't count the many pumpkin oatmeal cookies I have eaten (Did anyone else make these after Noelle posted the recipe? If not, why not?? They are damn tasty.) or the three spoonfuls of peanut butter that I for some reason ate straight out of the jar, drizzled with honey, about a half hour ago. Oh, and also, the ridiculously over-the-top dinner I had last night. So really, I suppose I didn't actually do so well at all. Baby steps, as they say. Baby steps indeed.

Last night's dinner was, however, delicious. I don't know why I haven't been here before, it being rather conveniently located for me and having gained rave reviews in several publications around town. I am glad I finally went, though, if for no other reason than I now have a perfect "date place" in mind, should I ever actually go on a date again. Or, more specifically, should I go on a date with a rugged man's-man sort of guy who thinks dinner isn't dinner without a big slab of meat involved. (A note to my vegetarian friends: You might want to avert your eyes through this paragraph. Think fond thoughts of tofu and move along.) This restaurant is like a classier, urban, foodie-friendly version of our famous local barbecue chain. Their chicken is so juicy, their pork so perfectly seasoned that it makes me think those redneck bumper stickers have a point: if God didn't want me to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them so damn tasty. This place is so serious about their meat that they even put it in their vegetables. Yams topped with chorizo... collard greens with turkey. You can have your meat with a side of meat. I am telling you, boys would love this place. Or, many of the boys I've known would, anyway. I'll test this theory out eventually and report back.

But back to my grocery adventure. I mentioned listening to the "experts" and shopping primarily in the produce section. I haven't admitted that the "expert," in this case, is Montel Williams. Yes, that Montel Williams. Did you know he wrote a book? He wrote a few of them, actually. The one I have from the library at the moment, however, is this one. I don't even remember how I came across it, but I read the summary and somehow got sucked in. I do want to transform my life and feel spectacular! I do want to look better, feel better, have more energy and fewer aches and pains. But can Montel really make that happen? Maybe he can and maybe he can't. I'm only about a third of the way through the book, and so far I can sum it up thusly: "Vegetables are good for you! Eat more of them! Fish is good, too! I'm 51 years old and I look and feel great! I can wear a Speedo if I want to! Vegetables! Yay, vegetables! Superfoods!"

I may have taken a few liberties with the exclamation points, but I think you get the point. In any case, he does offer some fairly useful advice for incorporating those pesky vegetables into my life by encouraging me to blend them up into tasty drinks. I haven't yet tossed a head of Romaine in the blender with an orange and some ice cubes, as he recommended, but I did make a tropical fruit smoothie yesterday that was so good I almost forgot it was good for me.

So anyway. Healthy eating. Routine consumption of fruits and vegetables. It's my new (old) goal right now. I give it until Wednesday before I'm baking a frozen pizza again, but at the moment, I have high hopes, anyway. Wish me luck, because I will need it. Luck, and tips, actually. Have you figured out a way for complicated salads to miraculously make themselves? How about a way to make broccoli or cauliflower taste good without being slathered with cheese or salt? Anyone? Anything? I'm all ears.

Friday, April 04, 2008

It's Choose Your Own Blogventure Day!

Note: This post is my portion of NPW's soon-to-be-famous Choose Your Own Blogventure game, which I mentioned last week. What follows won't make much sense unless you end up here from the segments that precede it. So don't read this just yet. Instead, head over to NPW's blog to see how it all begins. If you make the right choices, hopefully I'll see you back here again soon.


Click here to start the story.

(If you've ended up here, you likely came from here. The story proceeds as follows.)

Emma considered turning back. How badly did she really need those cupcakes, anyway? Besides that, even if she got past this zombie, who knew what awaited her inside? Maybe behind the front doors to that convenience store was a whole pack of zombies shuffling their way through the aisles, seeking brains but settling for beef jerky and pork rinds?

"NO," resolved Emma. "I am going in. I will have my disgusting orange cupcakes, and I will have them now."

As Emma walked towards the groaning man, she grasped her keys tightly, wondering if a sharp blow to the forehead with her long, pointy ignition key would be enough to do the creature in. After a few more steps, she raised the key in her hand, ready to strike with all the force her malnourished arms could muster.

"Woah!" the zombie cried. Except it wasn't a zombie. Emma could see at this range that what she thought was a member of the living dead was really just an unusually pale and slightly doughy kid whom she remembered from her freshman year psychology class. She took a closer look at the would-be blood stains smeared across his face and shirt.

"Is that... cherry pie filling?" Emma asked.

"Um... yeah," the not-zombie replied. "I know they're revolting, but I can't get enough Hostess Fruit Pies." He sheepishly reached his hands in his pockets and pulled out several crumpled red and white wax paper wrappers.

Emma smiled. "I understand. No one understands why I like orange Hostess cupcakes. Everyone says..."

"...that the chocolate ones are better," the not-zombie finished.

"Yes!" Emma replied. "You too?"

"Me too," he smiled.

Emma softened a bit. It wasn't every day she found a kindred spirit, even one who thus far shared only a penchant for late night snacking on convenience store foods. But there was still the matter of the strange groaning, the shuffling, the inability for a grown man to eat a neatly contained, hand-held snack without requiring a bib or drop cloth.

"Don't I know you from the U?" Emma asked. "Psych 101. Professor Taylor. I think you sat near me."

"Good memory," the man replied. "I'm Jake. Jake Ryan."

"Emma," Emma answered.

She looked the man in front of her up and down. "Jake Ryan??" she thought. "How did I sit two feet away from that guy for an entire semester and not know he shared a name with a man every girl in the 80s fantasized about?" Suddenly, in her mind, Emma was a 16-year-old Molly Ringwald, sitting face to face across from Jake in front of a picture window, a birthday cake with 16 burning candles placed between them.

"Do you bake, Jake?" Emma asked, a faint but wistful smile suddenly spreading across her face.

"What?" Jake looked confused, partly because of the abruptness of the question and partly because he hadn't realized they'd decided to start speaking only in rhyme.

Emma snapped out of the fantasy in her head and focused again on the cherry pie filling smeared across Jake's chest. Jake's suddenly very manly looking chest. She felt her face turn red.

"Look, I know it's late," Jake said, "But are you doing anything right now? I live just around the corner from here. I don't have any orange cupcakes, but I do have microwave popcorn and a bottle of wine. Care to keep a fellow insomniac company for a bit?"

If you think Emma should go with Jake, cupcakes and good sense be damned, click here.

If you think Emma should politely decline and proceed in to Store 24, click here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not everyone in Boston knows my name, and it is not always sunny in Philadelphia (but I had fun in both places anyway)

All right then. Spring vacation recap. I promised you one of those, didn't I? Of course, by now, NPW, Noelle, and Lara have it pretty well covered, but I'd feel remiss in not posting my version anyway.

I had a lovely long weekend, and I hope the lovely ladies and gentlemen with whom I spent it did as well. There are those who might say the Internet is not real life, that I'd be insane to plan an overnight visit at the home of a blogger I'd never met in person in real time (or moreover, that said blogger would have to be insane or downright foolish to provide her home address and invite me to fly to her city and stay with her). But as Lara, NPW, Noelle, and I chatted in NPW's living room in our pajamas Friday night, I looked at each one of them and couldn't help saying, "I don't feel at all like I just met any of you tonight!" In our case at least, who we are online translates quite accurately to who we are in real life, and I feel like crying "No fair" because I don't get to hang out with them again any time I like.

I have a hard time summing up the past few days in any sort of coherent narrative, so instead I'll recount the weekend photo essay style, with random and possibly incomplete and incohesive segues in between. Sound fun? I thought so. Let's go.

Lara and her husband Rob picked me up at the Philadelphia airport early Friday afternoon, and I got in their car to drive several hours to Boston with them immediately thereafter. One might think a road trip into New England rush hour might be a surefire way to unravel an Internet friendship in record time, but luckily, we made it to NPW and Chris's house in Boston still excited for the weekend of togetherness ahead. Unfortunately, Aaron bailed on our group dinner plans due to an alleged stomach bug, but the rest of us had a fine time enjoying noodles and ice cream anyway.

Chris and NPW

NPW and Noelle

Rob, Lara, and NPW

The next morning it was off to Harvard for Noelle's swim meet. After my brief visit to that campus, I'm pleased to think about how I can now casually drop the line "Yeah, I went to Harvard. No big deal, really..." into future conversations. Noelle, on the other hand, gets to say she not only went there, but swam there, so I'm very excited about that on her behalf.

Yeah, I went to Harvard.

Go, Christmas Christmas Tree!

We had our eye on lane 6

From there, we commenced our sightseeing adventures, but we didn't make it very far before we realized it was after NOON and we'd not yet had a drink, which, while on vacation is simply not right. So off to John Harvard's Brew Pub we went.

1:09 p.m.

You'll note that I had a cider rather than a beer, which I'm sure is some sort of travesty within spitting distance of Sam Adams's grave. Luckily, Lara and NPW had greeted Sam with a hearty "Thank you, Sam!" moments earlier, so I felt a bit better about betraying Boston with my beverage choice.

Thank you, Sam

Besides that, while Boston may be a notably beer-centric town, it is also home to the Omni Parker House, which, in addition to having invented the Boston Cream Pie, had the ingenuity to bring us the Boston Cream Pie martini as well. Should you make it to Boston at some point, I highly recommend you sample one of these.



Even the rim was tasty.

If you could also try the pumpkin martini and report back to me on your thoughts, that'd be great. We have a tendency to neglect the pumpkin from December through September, and I'd like to do whatever I can to remedy that.

Mmmm. Liquid pumpkin.

When NPW first pointed out the Omni Parker House (hereafter known to me as, simply, "the hotel with the delicious Boston Cream Pie martinis), it was actually too early for a drink. Not too early in our view, mind you (we did have our first drink of the day at 1:09, after all), but those crazy folks at the "the hotel with the delicious martinis" seemed to think a bar need not open until 4:30. To keep ourselves busy in the meantime, we walked to Mike's Pastry for Florentine cannolis--a detour I highly recommend should ever you find yourself in the area (or within reasonable distance of it) yourself. If you've read NPW's and Lara's recent posts, you may think the cannolis have already been well documented to an unnecessarily thorough degree, but you would be wrong, my friend. You know that guy in The Godfather? The guy who says, "Leave the gun; take the cannoli"? If that was a Florentine cannoli from Mike's Pastry, I can say with resolute certainty that he made the right choice.

Take the cannoli.

No. Seriously. TAKE the cannoli.

Once we started drinking and snacking, I had an even harder time than usual focusing with any sort of reverence on things of historical significance, so instead we just made friends with statues and curbside mascots around Boston.

Pleased to meet you, sir.

Walk with me.

Rumor has it she also licked a subway rail.

After our sightseeing eating and drinking adventures, we were a tad worn out, so we retired back to NPW's house to rest up for dinner. That is, if your definition of "rest up" means cracking open a bottle of wine and playing Wii tennis and bowling. Nothing says "down time" like getting your ass kicked in fake bowling; wouldn't you agree?

I suck at this, but I had fun anyway.

Lara is a ringer.

Even Chris's winning technique couldn't help me.

Eventually, we did tear ourselves away from Chris's giant TV long enough to walk to dinner, where we met up with the hilarious and charming Red of The Cupcake Tent fame (along with her lovely friend Carly) for late-night burritos and drinks. I think a fine time was had by all, even if the restaurant did run out of guacamole before we arrived. Seriously! A Mexican restaurant with no guacamole! I was at least as verklempt about the news as Red was, but no one captured a photo of it in my case.

I just don't know what I'll do with no guacamole.

Luckily, Red's friend Sam was there to soften the blow. And clearly the rest of us managed to cope as well. Lack of guac didn't prevent any of us from enjoying our fine meal.

Sam, Red, Sam


All in all, we had a lovely time together, as evidenced by this post-dinner group photo.

One of these things is not like the other.

(Sing it with me now: "One of these things is not like the oth-er"... Red, perhaps you'll want to invest in some eyewear before you hang out with us again. Obviously in this group, being a four-eyed brunette is the way to go.)

Sunday morning we had a lovely breakfast and said our goodbyes to Noelle, Chris, and NPW, and then Lara, Rob, and I headed off back to Philadelphia. It would be entirely too boring to go straight to Philly, however. Instead, we enjoyed a detour in Marblehead (where I bought a book, saw a lighthouse, and met Rob's mother) and another stop for dinner in Salem--home to the expected witch-related museums and trinket shops but also to a gem of a liquor store named "Bunghole." Seriously, I couldn't make a name like that up. (Or, I could, but I didn't. See?)

Would you drink something from a place called Bunghole??

Hence, we arrived at casa del Guinness Girl and Wilman well after midnight, a fact for which the "high-compliance" Rob (note: his word, not mine) apologized at least 17 times. For the record (even though I know he will not read this): Rob, I absolutely did not mind stopping in Marblehead so you could see your mom and grandfather, and I was not seething that you left me waiting at the airport for an extra 20 minutes earlier in the weekend either. Internets, I assure you: Rob is one of the nicest and most considerate men you will ever meet, but it is a good thing he did not accompany Lara and me on our rainy day adventures in Philly Monday, because I am 100% certain he would have spent the day apologizing for the weather on the city's behalf.


By this point, Lara had already figured out that I generally require little more in terms of a sightseeing plan than "let's just walk around and look at things (oh, and maybe stop for wine and snacks several times)," and she had no problem being my tour guide with that in mind.

I couldn't justify being in Philadelphia and not seeing the Liberty Bell, so we popped over for a quick photo there. In case you haven't heard, it's a big bell with a crack in it. And that's still just about all I know about that.

Yep. It's cracked.

We also tried to go to the U.S. Mint, for no other reason than it was right there and we'd both heard it was a worthwhile tour (and one Lara hadn't yet done). If ever you happen to attempt this yourself, here's a tip for you: the U.S. Mint does not allow cameras or camera phones carried anywhere on your person. The man at the door will be very official and adamant about that rule, but he will offer no solution as to where you might safely stow or check your camera, and he will act as if this is a problem that has never come up or occurred to him before. He will also not do much to sell you on the interestingness of the U.S. Mint tour, though (Us: "Well, what does the tour involve, anyway?" Him: "You see how money gets made."), so you could probably just do what we did, which was say "Screw you, Mint" and go get a Philly-style soft pretzel instead.

Fine print: No cameras allowed.

Apparently it did not occur to me to photodocument this until the very last bite.

From there, we went to the Mutter Museum, at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Although they did not confiscate our cameras nor force us to leave them on the street for a vagrant or hoodlum to walk off with, they also do not allow photography within the museum, so this is the most I can show you of our visit there.

Hello, Mutter.

Disturbing indeed.

Suffice it to say that "Disturbingly Informative" is an entirely apt tagline. I made it through the conjoined twins, the wall of skulls, the wax model samples of encephalitis and other infections, and the rows upon rows of babies in jars, but when we got to the tumors and skin diseases, Lara and I both agreed we'd seen about enough. Oh, and also, surprisingly, we said, "I'm hungry. How about lunch?" and we headed off for a cheesesteak at Jim's.

Don't worry; there is Cheese Whiz hidden on there.


Are you tired of my lengthy play-by-play yet? Don't worry. I assure you; I am almost done. Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent posing as and near statues and public art, because I am apparently six years old and that sort of thing is still amusing to me. Luckily Lara is still six years old as well, so we had great fun with it, obviously.

All you need is.






I don't know how to play chess either, Lara.

Games people play

Rocky and me

That last one, of course, is the Rocky statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I had to run the steps just like Rocky did. There are 72 of them, in case you are curious. Perhaps that will help you out in a game of bar trivia some day.

It doesn't look like it, but I promise I am running. It was the most exercise I got all day.

We finished off the day with a tasty Thai meal in Lara and Rob's neighborhood and then retired to their gorgeous old house in Manyunk, where I nearly died when I forgot Rob's warning that the bathroom is the BROWN door, not the GREEN one. "Be sure you don't open the green door!" he stressed when they first gave me the tour around their house. I thought maybe they just didn't want me to see that their basement was haunted (or possibly is where they store illicit substances), but it turns out it's just an abrupt and unexpected pit of death. So. Should ever you visit Rob and Lara, word to the wise: BROWN door, not green. Remember that.

Pick a door, any door (but beware the door on the left)

Pit of death

After my luckily not-fatal fall, we had some more wine and played some more games, which is when I discovered that Lara is not only a Wii bowling savant but an unbeatable Boggle pro as well. People, I swear to you, I am tremendous at Boggle. I think most of my real-life friends will attest to that. But Lara could beat Peggy Hill in Boggle tournament play. It was a humbling experience that was good for me, I suppose ("This must be what it's like for other people when they play Boggle with me," I said), but not so secretly I'm actually a little glad Lara lives so far away, so I don't have to face her as competition again any time soon.

And that about wraps up the trip, I think. I had a fantastic time meeting everybody and like I said, I am sad that I can't go hang out with them again next week. I very much hope this blogger meet-up was not the last. Meanwhile, I'll be brushing up on my skillz with my electronic Boggle and killing time reading all the books I acquired from my generous and bookwormy friends. When I left on Friday, I had one book with me (the one that's been in my sidebar entirely longer than it should be). When I returned yesterday, I had crammed ten more in my luggage and carry-on. I'd better get reading, hadn't I?

Good thing I checked my luggage on the return trip.

Thanks, Noelle and Lara, for giving me ten more reasons to stay up too late. Thank you NPW, Chris, Lara, and Rob for your generous hospitality in your fair cities. And thanks to all of you plus Red for being just as awesome in person as I'd hoped.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What I did on my spring vacation, minus all details about what I did on my spring vacation

Hello, friends. I thought I'd best pop in to let you know that I did, in fact, make the trip to and from New England without any adverse incidents, and while I'm working on a photo essay-style recap, it's taking a bit longer to assemble than I anticipated. So meanwhile, you can read NPW's, Noelle's, or Lara's follow-up posts on our excellent weekend (if you haven't already done so). Also, feel free to peruse my Boston/Philly photoset on Flickr, provided you promise to pretend all the photos are new to you when I include them in a post here later this week.

And with that, I'm off to bed in the hopes that my body will somehow recover from sleep-deprived, liver-soaked, stomach-stuffed vacation mode in time to return to real life bright and early tomorrow morning. Wish me luck on that, obviously.

I hope you all had as lovely a weekend (and start-of-week) as I did. More details (with pictures!) to follow shortly.