Monday, June 30, 2008

Because it's been a while since I polled the Internet on how to live my life

Hello, friends. If there is one thing I have learned since starting a blog, it is that the Internet loves to help. OK, that's not entirely true. I have actually learned lots of things, and "People type some weird ass shit into search engines" might actually rank significantly higher than that whole "helping" thing on any sort of scale.

Regardless, I know you like to help. I also know you like to talk about yourself. (It's OK; we all do. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here, right?) So this post is sort of a twofer. You get to share your own life experience, and you maybe even get to help me in the process. Deal? I thought so.

My question today is for all of you happily coupled folks out there, and for all of you who have ever been happily coupled (for however brief or lengthy a period) in the past. Tell me: at what point in the pre-coupled, getting-to-know-you process did you decide that the person sitting across the table from you on those early dates was someone you wanted to continue getting to know? Were you pretty sure from the start? Were you ever not sure and decided you were later? I'm not even asking when did you know you wanted to marry the guy (or girl). I'm just asking when you knew that another date (and another, and another) was something you were definitely interested in.

I am certain I have asked variations on this same question before (and I remember some of your answers*), but obviously I've still yet to figure out what seems like should be a fairly simple formula. Am I making this too hard? Am I making it not hard enough? Am I wrong to think a small spark or connection of some sort (be it physical, conversational, or intellectual) has to be there very early on or it won't develop at all?

Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll probably follow up with the context behind the question tomorrow. And as usual, thanks in advance for your undoubtedly witty and helpful insights.

* Yes, 3Cs, I'm talking to you. I know you've said you weren't particularly interested in your husband when you first met him. What I'm wondering is how you knew you should keep going out with him.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I promise I will find something to write about other than my own ineptitude soon.

Seriously, people. Did I recently somehow quietly swap fortunes with some even less coordinated soul than myself, ala Lindsay Lohan circa 2006? I'm sure there's a more mundane explanation than that, but there has to be some reason I'm so much more accident prone than usual lately. If I have switched cosmic places with someone, however, I hope he is cute. Also, I hope he isn't turned off by my current collection of bruises and battle scars. To recap, at the moment I am sporting the following:

  • A scab on my big toe from when I got rear-ended last week. (Sidenote: No word yet from the kid in the Civic's insurance company, which means either he is very slow with the estimate-getting or my own agent was correct when she said Ms. Leadfoot behind me would have to pay for his damages. Let's hope for the latter. Whoo!)

  • Three small red scars on my inner wrist and forearm from my bathroom-cleaning mishap.

  • A rather persistent bruise on my right arm, of long-forgotten origin.

  • A red scuff to the left of my lower lip--the remains of Monday's Lean Cuisine flatbread burn.

  • And finally, the latest evidence of my undying poise: a bruise on my upper thigh and rug burns on my foot and thumb, acquired when I somehow fell out of my shoe on my way out of the office and lurched and stumbled all the way to the floor.

Luckily, I am absurdly busy at work at the moment, so when I made this graceless exit at 6:30 this evening, the office was nearly empty. Nearly. From two rooms away, I heard the owner of the company call out, "What was that??" To which I had to call back, "Oh nothing. Apparently I can no longer walk; therefore it is time for me to go home."

From two rooms further away, my own boss said, "Stef? Was that you??" Obviously I should have said, "No worries. This sort of thing happens all the time." Honestly, by this point it didn't even faze me. Of course I tripped on my own feet and hopped and skidded to the ground with a thud. Who here is really surprised about this by now?

I watched a movie last week in which Ione Skye claimed that what every woman is looking for is a man who makes her feel like the movie version of herself. I thought that was a charming and accurate sentiment. I just hope that when the right man finally comes along and meets Movie Me, what he sees is not a slapstick-prone Amanda Bynes.

On a related note, I hope this evening's fall has convinced my boss that I am not the most appropriate person to keep her company at our gym's new "Stiletto Strength" class after all. If I can fall and hurt myself while walking on carpet in Birkenstocks, should I really be exercising on a wood floor in heels?? I'm gonna go with NO on that.

Incidentally, the crazy stiletto class just further proves to me that the town where my office is located is the closest thing to Stars Hollow I've seen in real life. Can't you just see Miss Patty
standing in the doorway of her studio calling out instructions to a group of random townie women in sweats and heels? I sure can.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And I wasn't even at Target this time

So apparently this blog is now primarily a chronicle of all the ridiculous ways in which I hurt myself. In my latest triumph, today I burned my face on my Lean Cuisine. Not my tongue. Not the roof of my mouth. Not even my lips. Nope, my face. Yay, me.

Also of note? I'm ate a damn Lean Cuisine. So much for my Healthy Eating, No Chemicals and Such new leaf turning. Truth be told, I do still think I'm eating a bit better than I was six months ago (or the 358 months prior), but as with so many things in life, it ebbs and flows, I guess. This evening, for example, I made linguine alfredo with fake crab meat. I cut up and tossed in a few cherry tomatoes for color and the illusion of nutritional merit, but I'm not fooling even myself with that. Perhaps if I had eaten only the portion I originally dished out for my dinner, I might be able to cut myself some slack, but since I also went back for the portion I had intended to save for lunch tomorrow, I really should just accept the fact that there's a very good reason several of my summer skirts and pants don't fit. Sigh. Moving on.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Summer officially arrived in Minnesota last Thursday, and I say that not just because that was the night I saw a bunch of spandex-clad hippies doing a Solstice dance along the banks of the Mississippi, but because it was the first day that I was officially too damn hot in jeans and decided it was officially skirt weather. (Apparently I am all about being "official" this evening. Perhaps I should consider a thesaurus.) And if the suddenly summer-like weather wasn't enough to point out that summer is, in fact, well in progress, I went to my first loud, overcrowded, outdoor event of the year on Saturday, which means I also had my first corn dog of the season. Yay for small milestones and pleasures.

On my way to purchase said corn dog, I wedged my way through the line of people waiting to purchase beer tickets (damn you, ticket currency system--scourge of the outdoor concert event), and I found myself face to face directly in front of the guy I went on eight dates with last year, before deciding that if I would rather spend a Saturday night drinking alone in my yoga pants while hooking up computer peripherals than hanging out with him, then surely he was not the man for me. Seriously: EIGHT THOUSAND PEOPLE at Rock the Garden and I end up not just ten feet away and in view of but directly face to face with a former almost-boyfriend? This city is officially shrinking. (And there I go again. No idea where all this resolute "official"-ing is coming from tonight.)

That said, it really wasn't all that particularly awkward an encounter. I think we were both too surprised to run into each other to even remember much of what we said (beyond "Hi; how are you? Good; how are YOU?") I have to keep reminding myself that I ended things with that guy for a reason, though, because since Saturday, I've been remembering how completely perfect for me on paper he was. Unfortunately, we don't live in an "on paper" world. He may have been a member of MPR with season tickets to the Guthrie. He may have been so tall that I could wear my very highest boots and still look up at him. He may have been driven and financially sound and also the perfect mix of hip Uptowner and down-to-earth, roots-in-a-small-town guy. But I could not have a conversation with the man that didn't feel like mere small talk. There was a reason I called things off, aside from my formulaic romantic comedy-esque fear of commitment. Or so I keep telling myself, anyway.

And on that note, how was YOUR weekend? Do tell.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And I swore comparing myself to Gwyneth Paltrow would most certainly be a one-time thing*

I think it's official: I have forgotten how to blog. Ordinarily, when something relatively notable happens (like, I don't know, I get rear-ended on my way home from work), it is only a rather brief journey from "Well, this sucks" to "Hey, I can blog about that." Today, however, it took a full four hours from time of incident to time when I realized misfortune could be blog fodder. I'm not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of that.

In reality, the event wasn't even particularly notable. I could go on with the silly fate arguments... "If only I'd left work two minutes later." "If only I hadn't stopped at the Saturn dealership to get my oil topped off." "If only I hadn't exited the highway earlier than usual in an attempt to avoid the latest round of road construction." But all of that is pointless "What if"-ing. It's been too long since I've seen Sliding Doors to remember all the details, but didn't Gwyneth Paltrow actually fare better when she missed the train than when she caught it? Maybe I dodged a worse bullet by getting rear-ended by a different one. Who knows.

Unfortunately, the only possibly claim-worthy damage in this little mishap was to the bumper of the car in front of me, which I hit when the woman behind me hit me. And since I'm pretty sure insurance company logic states that each driver is responsible for any rear-ending damage to the car in front of them (even if the rear-ending occurs only because someone behind pushed them there), I'm pretty sure I'll be paying for that kid's new bumper. Bugger. Happy birthday, little man in the red Civic. (No, really. It was the dude's birthday today. A car accident--however minor--might beat a snowstorm. I'm not sure. Poor kid.) Also, is it just a coincidence that the Saturn behind me did no damage to my car and my own Saturn did no damage to hers? It's like the sometimes magical, self-healing Saturns know their own kind and wouldn't possibly do the discourtesy of inflicting any damage to one of their own. When a Civic is in the picture, though? All bets are off, clearly.

The good news, of course, is that no one was hurt. Well, no one unless you count me, and my mysteriously scuffed toe. When the woman behind me slammed into my bumper, my foot slipped off the pedal and my sandal fell off, and somehow in that process (be it in scraping against the edge of my shoe or against some part of the pedal), I managed to scrape up the top of my big toe such that it actually bled for a few minutes and still hurts a bit now. That's right: true to form, I injured myself in the stupidest way imaginable given the circumstance at hand. I injured my toe in a minor car accident. Seriously, that would only happen to me, right? (Well, me and Abbersnail, maybe. Oh, come on, Abbers; you know it's true.)

On an entirely unrelated note, I remain amused by everyone's enthusiasm to weigh in on my first ramen noodle experiment. I am also amused that the day after I posted that, Natalie Dee weighed in as well. Check it out:

natalie dee

Mmmm... Fried noodles... you know you want some again now...

* A one-time thing that I've now done twice. Please, please let it end here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In which I draw perhaps the first comparison ever between a successful modern author and Top Ramen

Back when I was still dating my last boyfriend, I had a dream about him one night in which he told me he'd taken up smoking. In the dream, I was not so much angry as baffled. "Who takes up smoking at 34?!?" I asked (ever the logical realist that I am). Smoking is something you try out in high school or college, and if you're still doing it at 34, it's because of a habit formed long, long ago. Nobody starts smoking at 34, right?

I feel like I'm in a similar spot myself at the moment. Tonight, at age 34, I had Ramen noodles for the first time.

Don't ask me how I got through four+ years of college and all of my 20s without ever dropping ten-cent packets of Top Ramen in my grocery cart. Apparently I was far too fixated on 69-cent Kraft Macaroni & Cheese or the delicacy that were the English Muffin pizzas my senior year roommate introduced into my life. In any case, for whatever reason (Fear of poverty? Devil-may-care attitude toward my slightly elevated blood pressure? Fondness for Noelle?), I bought Ramen for the first time ever last week.

Newsflash, in case you weren't aware: a valid student ID is not required to purchase Ramen noodles. Who knew? Oh, right. Most of you, I guess.

I know there are a hundred different ways to eat Ramen, and maybe I need to look into them to understand all the hype. Because to me, it was just noodles in a salty broth. Tasty enough, sure, and well worth the mere 20 cents I paid for that meal, but frankly, nothing special, I have to say. Either people speak so highly of Ramen because of their long-term emotional attachment to it, or I am doing something very wrong. If you've got any suggestions, feel free to weigh in, because I've still got forty cents worth of noodles in my cupboard to experiment with.

Let's see. What else have I been up to lately, aside from experimenting with mundane groceries? It has been a stupidly busy couple of weeks, and I considered compiling a bulleted list of everything I've done post-work-hours in the past 15 days or so, but I fall back on the bulleted list post of laziness far too often, so let's just fast forward to this weekend, shall we?

This weekend, I went to the fourth annual Twin Cities-area Lebowskifest, which is not so much a full-blown "fest" as a modest gathering of fewer than 20 people in a west suburban home, but it was a fun time anyway. I will probably eventually post my photos from the night on Flickr, though I'm uncertain whether I should make them all public or not. It was a The Big Lebowski-themed costume party, of course, and I decided to go as a White Russian, which means I showed up in white pants and a white t-shirt on which I used iron-on transfer paper to affix bright red and gold hammer and sickle symbols that were appropriate enough for the evening's festivities but might be taken out of context if posted on these here interwebs. I'd hate to have my hopes for public office dashed by the unfortunate surfacing of photos of me in Communist garb. Then again, the likelihood of my running for public office is probably just about as high as the likelihood of my becoming a card-carrying Communist, so I suppose I'm probably safe. My late-night costume change into a t-shirt bearing Jackie Treehorn's obscene doodle (the hostess's boyfriend brought a stack of said shirts to distribute to anyone willing to wear them) might actually conflict with Flickr's terms of use, however, so maybe at least that photo should remain private.

Today I finally saw the much-hyped Sex & the City movie, and, formulaic and predictable as it was, I still enjoyed it more than this evening's Top Ramen. People, I actually teared up no fewer than three times in the course of that movie. Please tell me I'm not the only one who did so, OK?

Oh, and in far more notable news, I finally finished the book that has been sitting in my sidebar for no fewer than two months. Long ago, I started (and then just as suddenly stopped) doing this thing where I posted less-than-ten-word reviews of the books I had read. I think I'll pick that up again for Bel Canto, except I'll provide my review in just one word:


It may have won an Orange Prize and a Pen/Faulkner Award, but I still don't understand all the fuss. I suppose you could say Bel Canto is like Ramen noodles: beloved by many; misunderstood and underappreciated by me.

And finally, I'd be much remiss in failing to follow up on that quasi-contest I held last week. Thank you all for sharing your tales of kindred spirit-esque ineptitude and alarming gracelessness. It is a tough call which one of you had the best injury to beat my balloon-incident and bathroom-cleaning woes. So many of you had such very excellent stories, but I'm going to have to say the three-way-tie prize goes to the following:

  1. Liz, who tripped on her lawn mower and ended up with $16,000 worth of surgery to insert a plate into her arm,
  2. Poppy, who set herself on fire while making tea (apparently not even using a gas burner with an open flame),
  3. Metalia, who recently gashed her leg with a vegetable. (Note to self: Consider this one more reason you've never actually had an artichoke.)

Unfortunately, there are no real prizes in this little contest, aside from my sincere amusement and gratitude. So thanks for that, friends. So nice to know we klutzes aren't alone.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm not dead

I'm still here, but apparently I'm on summer hours--at least through this week yet for sure. You would think that after the dates I've gone on, the concerts I've been to, and the weekend trips I've taken recently, I would have plenty of stories to share. Unfortunately, after an unusually strenuous few hours of much-overdue yard work tonight, all I can do is stare at my screen and sigh, "Dang. I'm TIRED."

This just in: mowing takes a lot longer when you let your lawn grow to damn-near prairie grass height. That's Basic Home Ownership 101 right there. Also, wearing gloves is a good idea when pulling the two-foot long weeds and grasses and other assorted wildlife that sprout up when you're not looking.

The brand new scrape across my gloveless knuckles reminds me of a fun little game Liz suggested in my comments a while back. In lieu of any sort of proper post, would you care to tell me about the stupidest way you've ever hurt yourself? I'm sure someone out there has done something more ridiculous than put a gash in their wrist while cleaning the bathroom or tear a ligament tripping on a balloon. Anyone? Bueller? Do tell.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Everybody's doing it; why can't I?

You may have seen this over at Bleeding Espresso or various other spots in the blog and Flickr 'hood. I'm not one to turn down a good bandwagon, so ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my Flickr "About Me" mosaic:

You should play, too! Here's how it works.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

I would like to note that I have #5 to thank for my groggy head and burning, red, tired eyes today. (I love you, Rhett, but I would love you more if you could figure out a way to start earlier if you're going to keep your hips swinging and your arm spinning through two encores.) Secondly, I would like to add that Flickr's pool of mashed potato pictures is sadly disappointing.

That is all.

Oh. Except that also, no, the word I typed to describe me was not "thick calved." I'm really not supposed to provide commentary on every one of these, am I? Surely by now you know that's simply not the way I roll.

All right then. That is all. Carry on.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In which I prove once again that being Home Alone is not so bad

Don't you love it when I'm all timely-like and write a weekend update post that most of you won't read until Wednesday? That's good blogging, isn't it? I thought so.

That disclaimer out of the way, how about I tell you about my weekend? (Wait! Where are you going? This post involves Yoda! And pants! Maybe even Yoda's pants! Maybe not.) Anyway...

I spent this past weekend back in "Wiscoe" (as my Minnesota friends have recently been calling my homeland--a name I'm not sure is any less offensive to me than "Sconnie," but is at least said without the same snide tone of voice that generally implies immediate insult). My sisters and I all went back to help my mom clean out my grandma's house and price items for an estate sale. On the up side, I returned to Minneapolis with a rolling pin, a cake pan with cover, two slotted spoons, yet another rotary phone I probably won't use, and various other bits of memorabilia that I would photograph and share with you if only I weren't so damn lazy tired right now. On the down side, I had to spend entirely more time with certain immediate family members than I'm used to spending, and it left me a little bit on edge. At the risk of typing something that I will someday regret (someday possibly even being today, if my worst fears are correct and the people I prefer not to know about this blog actually do know about and routinely read this blog), I will just say that said family member means well and that most people would probably deem him or her entirely pleasant. But said family member and I differ in one very important regard, that being that I very much savor and enjoy a possibly larger than usual amount of alone time while he or she seems not to need any alone time, and therefore, when the two of us are together for any length of time (and he or she is unable to stop talking and/or playing 20 Questions with my life), I find it very hard not to curl myself into a ball with my eyes squinched shut and my fingers jammed in my ears and say, "Enough! No more talking! I can't hear you I can't see you I am going to my happy place now!" Ahem. Or something like that.

Am I really this on edge two days after the maddening weekend with certain family members? Honestly, I felt every defense wall in my psyche rise up as I typed those last few lines, and such a visceral reaction hardly seems necessary. Surely something else is bothering me, too. Oh yes. Various work annoyances. And boys. But I'm not dumb enough to write about either of those. (Dumb enough to write about my older sister? Yes, apparently. But dumb enough to write about work or the boy I may or may not see again? Surely not.) I also can't stop focusing on the tiny but surprisingly painful gash I managed to poke in my knuckle today with my own fingernail. Apparently I got a little overzealous in kickboxing class, which is bad idea combined with my lack of coordination and my startling ability to hurt myself doing routine things. People, I drew blood stabbing my own finger with another of my fingers while punching at nothing but air. There is no hope for me.

So back to my weekend. In addition to the rolling pin, etc., I also brought back a few items that my younger sister tossed into the inventory for the estate/rummage sale. I passed on every one of the 23 pairs of khakis she boxed up and instructed me to rifle through (I know the girl used to work at Target, but she had more pairs of khakis than I have pants total, and that seems more than a little off to me. And these are just the pants she decided to get rid of, mind you. How big is her closet, I have to ask?? And why isn't mine so generous??). I did, however, bring home two pairs of jeans, a cutesy apple-printed hoodie that I'm probably entirely too old to wear, and a t-shirt featuring a picture of Yoda seemingly rendered by the cartoonists for Scooby Doo. Instead of his usual calm, sage countenance, this Yoda looks a little shifty and suspicious, the jagged lines of his cartoon face seemingly pursed to say, "And I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids!" Incidentally, I am not a Jedi Master (nor an inordinately enthusiastic Star Wars fan). There is no more reason for me to own a Yoda shirt than to own an inappropriately juvenile apple-printed hoodie. Pre-mid-life crisis, perhaps? No, maybe just a wardrobe one. In addition, one of the pairs of jeans I snagged from the rummage sale stash is identical to a pair I already own. This wouldn't be so absurd if not for the fact that I already own not one, but three pairs of said jeans. I fully endorse the idea of buying multiples of something you know you like so that you always have a spare (I am already cursing myself for not buying a lifetime supply of the infamous blue Target yoga pants I have written about more than once). But four pairs? Of the same jeans? This may require an intervention of some sort.

On a related note, why am I even acquiring clothes from my baby sister in the first place? Isn't this all a little backwards? These sort of things are called hand-me-downs, not hand-me-ups. It's bad enough that the coffee table in my living room followed a similarly backwards path (my aunt's long-ago newlywed living room, on to basement storage, then to my little sister's mismatched mish-mosh living room before arriving in my own... If it redeems me any, I did repaint it first, but still...). I am ridiculous, low class, and/or thrifty. Take your pick, I suppose.

All right. I was going to tell you about the latest developments with my father's mystery snack cabinet, but I think this is more than enough rambling miscellany for one night, and it is now well past my bed time anyway. Tomorrow night I am off to see one of my very favorite imaginary boyfriends swing his hips and do the strummy circle thing with his arm that makes me swoon like a girl young enough to wear an apple-printed hoodie after all, but as I am not actually that girl, I do need a bit of sleep to keep me alert during Rhett's show. Wish me luck.