Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All right fine. Pictures!

You know what's all sorts of fun? Looking at pictures of other people's drunk coworkers! No? That's not your idea of a good use of Web space? It's also maybe not a good idea at all, libel/slander-wise? Yeah. That's what I thought. Hence, my full set of Mexico photos is hiding out elsewhere, in a slightly less public space. The abridged set I'm pretty fine with any of you seeing is over here.

I'll be the first to admit it's not a terribly exciting collection. Truly, I did essentially nothing on this trip except lay in the sun with a book during the day and have a beverage or five at night. Still, how about some highlights?

Like the liquor dispensers(!) in my room (which might have been more exciting had it been higher quality liquor or had the mini-fridge been stocked with more suitable mixers for said liquor). Still. Liquor! On tap! I would like a similar setup at both home and work, please.

The much-talked-about liquor dispensers

And how about some towel animals? Word has it that some people on the trip got the very same creature each day, but look how ambitious my housekeeping staff member was! (I probably should have tipped him despite the hotel's instructions not to, eh?)




Name that animal

Please tell me I am not the only one who thinks that last one looks a wee bit vulgar. After much examination and discussion, I think I have finally decided it was supposed to be a lobster, but no one I showed this picture to thought that was obvious on first glance.

And speaking of animals, there were several around our hotel. Namely, lizards, noisy blackbirds, strange unidentified furry rodents, and monkeys. The monkeys probably would have made for the best photo opportunity, right? So of course, I got no pictures of them.


Blackbird singing in the dead of day

Rodents in residence

This dude isn't alive, but they were all over the place, too.


I did on occasion leave the compound... Here is some proof of that.




Tequila IS medicinal, right?

My ex-boyfriend's chest

Jumbo skill crane lobster tank?


Why would I need to leave the hotel, though, with swim-up bars and banana hammock sitings and weird desserts at my ready disposal?

Lounge pool



Oh yeah. And the beach, too. That was the best part, of course.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm tempted to use that famous Go-Go's line as a title, but "Had to get away" is less relevant when you're not getting away from much.

Hello! I am back. Did you miss me? (Please, don't answer that.) To answer the question that really only one of my friends was asking (hi, Ang), Yes! I am home. Have been for a full 26 hours now. And what have I done in those intervening hours? Let's see...

  • Nearly fully unpacked (within two hours of my return--surely that is a new record for me).
  • Had a particularly unproductive day at work.
  • Had one of my most prolific Facebook days to date. (No, that last item isn't necessarily related to this one; I'm just surprised to notice that today's Wall activities take up a full screen length.)
  • Went grocery shopping to ensure that a meal encompassing more than just the Refined Carbs and Processed Foods group might again be possible in my home.
  • Shoveled the snow Mother Nature was rude enough to leave for me in my absence.
  • Watched another Presidential address without heckling. (Seriously, when will this start to feel commonplace to me rather than make me smile involuntarily in relief and hope?)

What I have NOT done is even open my feed reader. I am far too scared to do that without a few free hours in front of me. Have I missed anything particularly notable? Well of course I did. Blog Share was the day after my last Bloglines check-in. I'll catch up eventually, I suppose. Meanwhile, if anything of particularly notable import happened in the past several days, feel free to fill me in.

So. Mexico. Honestly, I don't have a whole lot to tell you about that. Nothing about it was so exciting as to warrant an enthusiastic "It was FUN!!" summary, but it would be awfully lame and ungrateful of me not to appreciate the mere fact that I spent three and a half days basking in the sunshine (sans any sort of layers) in the middle of February.

As you may recall, this trip was with my coworkers, so perhaps the weirdest part was being away from work for several days, only to come in this morning and think, "Huh. Haven't been here in a while, and yet, I just saw you yesterday!" Strange. In a way, it was a long weekend without a weekend, but since that weekend included free drinks and the aforementioned sunshine, I suppose I can't complain too much.

It seems I really should have some sort of recap, however, but as 9:00 p.m. has somehow quickly become 10:56, I'm afraid that recap is going to happen in quick and lazy bullet-point form. Let's see. Some high and low lights...

  • Yes, there were liquor dispensers in my room. I thought about providing a photo as evidence, but I fear that doing so might only remind us of the cold, sad reality that there aren't liquor dispensers everywhere in life. You say I'm too lazy to upload a photo; I say I'm just helping you out. (Disclaimer: If you are my Flickr friend, you'll probably see photos within the next day or so, actually. I'm just not getting to it quite yet.)

  • My ex-boyfriend who is also my coworker is in seemingly a really not very good place right now. To everyone who for some reason keeps asking, "So, now that he's divorced, do you think you two will get back together?" I say again, "NO!! What am I, some kind of masochist??" The most important fact is that his ex-wife was in no part any of the reason he and I broke up. He did not meet her until over a full year after we parted ways. Yes, I think his divorce somehow helped me to finally let that wall of bitterness fall down. I can say in some lame, karmic way, "OK, we're even now." I might venture so far as to say enough time has passed that we could maybe even be friends again. (We were extremely close friends before, and the fact that our romance didn't end badly should have meant we could be friends after as well.) But does that mean I want it to be my turn again relationship-wise? Hell to the no. I still feel that it was largely me who helped him pick up the pieces after his first divorce. Damned if I want any part of that role a second time. Besides that, I am already possibly making the same mistakes I made once before with one ex-boyfriend. Why would I add another one to the list?

  • You don't have to go on a Carnival cruise to have a different animal-shaped towel sculpture in your room every day. Again, if I had actually visited Flickr before I started this post, perhaps I'd have photographic evidence of this.

  • Yes, I realize I again made allusion to The Buddhist in that second-to-last item without actually telling you anything, and also wrangled what could possibly be a post in and of itself about an ex-boyfriend into a poorly summarized bullet point. You're just going to have to accept that for now.

  • The food at an all-inclusive resort isn't always awful. It's still nothing to write home about, however.

  • When you're gone only three (plus two travel) days, there really isn't much to write home about at all, actually. Or so is the story for those of you who might be expecting post cards. (i.e., Don't hold your breath for those.)

And honestly, that about wraps it up. I ate too much, drank almost too much, read a book and a half, and came back with what I'm certain will be a sadly short-lived sunny souvenir vacation glow.

So. What have you been up to since I heard from you last?

Monday, February 16, 2009

If I keep this up, I may find myself becoming one of those people who uses "party" as a verb.

My weekends are starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. You know... drink some wine, watch a couple get engaged... same old, same old.

Yes folks, I actually witnessed two engagements in one week. Tis the season, I suppose? This time, it was some friends of The Buddhist, the female half of which proposed at the Art Institute and then dragged her new fiance' over to a local wine shop, where thirty or so of their closest friends and friends-of-friends were waiting for a surprise congratulations party. I fall into that latter category, of course, the friends-of-friends category, although I must say that the friends of The Buddhist whom I have met thus far are so tremendously kind and fun and flattering that I may just start collectively dating all of them instead. I'm not sure of the specifics in making that happen, but I'm sure we can work out the details.

The engagement party was the first of four parties I attended this weekend, because clearly I am just that busy and popular. I've been told that I cannot actually count the baby shower I attended Saturday afternoon as a party, given that it took place in a community center and included parents and grandparents but no alcohol, but I care not. I received an invitation and I brought a gift. Also, there was cake. It may not have been a particularly raucous party, but I say that qualifies it as a party nonetheless. After all, how many times do I get invited to four parties in one weekend? I'm not going to let some killjoy take that claim from me.

I am invited to another party this coming weekend... This one is an Oscars party, but I will not be attending, as A) I will be in Mexico at the time, and B) I do not actually know the people who sent the invitation. Because I feel it might be rude to reply to the Evite with an, "I'm sorry, but... WHO are you??" I have instead used my powers of deductive reasoning to determine which friends the party hosts are associated to me through and conclude with approximately 96% certainty who those hosts are. I am all for making new friends through existing friends, but I still think it's a little weird to mine a past Evite to round out your guest list. Or maybe that's just me.

In any case, as I said, my primary conflict is that I will be in Mexico, which I tell all of you on the Internet with the express instructions that you please NOT find and burglarize my house while I'm gone. I promise you, the booty you would gather would not be worth the trouble. Unless! Wait! Perhaps one of you could engineer a reverse-burglary instead? I will even save you the effort of breaking in and possibly alarming my neighbors. I will leave a key under the mat, and you can just come right in and replace my ailing, stuffed-to-capacity Dell desktop with a shiny new laptop. If you'd like to take care of that whole "holes and duct tape in the shower" mess while you're here too, I'd be much appreciative. It'll be just like one of those surprise home makeover reality shows, except that I haven't actually suffered a near-fatal disease or saved a litter of kittens from a burning building as a means of deserving said makeover. Details.

The Mexico trip is one I mentioned a while ago. It's a company trip, making it a wholly mixed blessing, I say. On the one hand, it's a free (or, almost free... the details of the "almost" part are something I've ranted about to nearly everyone who'll listen, but I don't feel at liberty to publish them here) trip to a very warm place in the middle of February. I could certainly use a vacation, and I would certainly enjoy wearing sandals comfortably for four days or so. On the other hand, I usually take vacations to get away from everything that reminds me of work, and having all of my coworkers there with me will sort of make that impossible. It's a bit like a four-day company holiday party. I usually cut out of the holiday parties right after dessert. Staying for four days is a foreign idea to me.

Regardless, I plan to make the best of it. We're staying at an all-inclusive resort, so I intend to sip my weight in margaritas while I soak up some sun and blow through a couple books. Today I even found a swimsuit that I can almost bear to wear in front of my coworkers, so that's one less thing to worry about as well. I stopped short of one of these wholesome numbers, but managed to find a modest yet not matronly, reasonably cute one-piece that will not result in the middle-aged men I see every day staring at my cleavage or abdomen, and really that's about all I can ask for in a swimsuit for this particular trip, so, yay.

With that trip to plan for, I suspect my posting will be even more sporadic than usual this week (which actually probably means business as usual, and yet I felt the need to warn you anyway). It's just as well, as later this week you'll all be busy reading the posts in R's next Blog Share. No anonypost from me this time. (Mexico, remember? Too much to do, folks. Or so is my excuse.) I'm sure it'll be as entertaining and heart-wrenching as the last three. Someone make note of the highlights for me, OK?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weekend update on a Tuesday (but fully bullet-free!)

So it seems I'm on the one-post-a-week plan now, which I suppose would be fine, if I were spending those several days between posts mulling over amusing little anecdotes to share on my next login. Instead, in the intervening time it seems I not only forget I have a blog, but also forget how to write. Maybe it's not entirely my fault. I am still reading that damn Twilight series, after all, so maybe Stephenie Meyer is to blame. Maybe I could craft clever, poignant sentences, but thanks to Bella Swan, the only adjectives in my head are "impossibly beautiful" and "dazzling," and unless I am writing about eternally 17-year-old vampires or Julia Roberts's teeth, neither of those do me much good.

Fear not, however. I am a mere 200 pages away from saying goodbye to the Cullens for good, at which point I plan to cleanse my mental palate with something of substance. Or at least something more charged with the pointless, light-hearted frivolity we've come to expect around here. Maybe some Jane Austen, so I can have my light-hearted frivolity under the guise of heady literature. Win-win!

Meanwhile, I could at least try to tell you what I've been up to lately without resorting to the quick and lazy bullet-point form... Let's see. Last night, I listened to a Presidential address without heckling for the first time in eight years. The night before that, I scored a prime, two-feet-from-the-stage spot at a surprisingly sparse Rhett Miller show, putting me in clear, up-close view of one of my very favorite imaginary boyfriends and his not-so-imaginary shiny rock star hair and ever-bendy rock star hips. We were close enough for him to sweat on us (though if you've ever seen Rhett perform, you know that you could probably be a good fifteen feet from the stage and still make that same claim). It would have been even better if the very sloshed girl and her even more sloshed husband in front of us hadn't thought the fact that they got engaged at a Rhett show two years ago entitled them the right to command Rhett's attention for the duration of his set, but hey, there's one of those at every concert, is there not?

Working backwards, that brings us to Saturday. And what did I do Saturday? Oh, nothing special. Just watched a couple of dear friends get engaged in a snowy, candle-lit downtown park. In all seriousness, it was magical, which is only fitting given that the man who was doing the proposing is the one I long ago referred to as The Magical Boy. He wanted to propose to his lovely girlfriend at Peavey Plaza on Nicollet Mall, and he enlisted me and Carrie to set the scene for him while they were at dinner. We arranged ice luminaries around the frozen fountain and placed flickering candles inside, then queued up a stereo to play a love song from La Boheme when the couple arrived. She said yes, of course, after which Carrie and I (and The Buddhist, who, though he'd never met The Magical Boy, was happy to come along for the ride anyway) popped out of our hiding spots on the other end of the park and joined in an impromptu dance party on the skating rink.

If we are keeping track of checkmarks in The Buddhist's "plus" column, by the way, we can add two more to the list. First, that he was fully OK with changing our plans for the evening when I told him this very special task had come up, and second, that, after meeting The Magical Boy and his new fiance', he summed up his first impressions with, "It's hard to say which one of those two is cuter." My thoughts exactly. They truly are the most non-sickeningly adorable couple I know. So congrats, Aaron and Colleen. Can't wait to attend the undoubtedly fun, creative, and uniquely environmentally friendly and socially responsible party you're sure to throw when you tie that knot.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What did I do for paranoia BEFORE I joined Facebook?

So. That little interview game was fun while it lasted. Questions have been sent to Steve, Liz, Courtney, and Sauntering Soul. (Clarification: Questions for Sauntering Soul have been saved in my Drafts folder and will be sent just as soon as I track down her address. Details, details.)

Unfortunately, with that out of the way, I'm left to come up with my own blog topics again. Hmmm. Sure there's nothing else you guys want to know about me? If so, speak up and I'll do my best to oblige (maybe even within a week).

Meanwhile, let's talk about Facebook again, shall we? (3Carnations, you might as well just stop reading here and go get yourself a snack. You don't need any more reasons not to join us on "the Book," right?) I am seriously considering changing my privacy settings to prevent that little "Add as Friend" link from popping up next to my name when people search for me. I honestly didn't think this would be a problem, as I tend to assume I am entirely forgettable and somehow never considered for a moment that anyone from my past would ever even think to search for me, much less take that search one step further and decide they want to put me in their little box of online pseudo-friends. In the past four days, however, I have gotten friend requests from 1. a cousin who lives several states away and whom I have not seen nor talked to directly since I was fourteen, 2. a college friend I lost touch with several years ago, after she decided she was too busy to return letters or phone calls anymore, and 3. a friend of The Buddhist's whom I met on Saturday and who seemed rather nice and even fun until a few drinks later, when she walked in on me in the bathroom while I was peeing and told me it was a waste of my time to be dating him. Hrmm.

I have accepted the cousin request (because whatever; she's family, and you can't very well click "Ignore" on them, can you?). I even accepted the request from the long-lost college friend, admittedly at least in part because she actually included a note with her friend request, and that note said, "Holy crap are you looking good!" Flattery may not get you everywhere, but apparently it will get me to click that "Confirm" button. I haven't yet decided what to do with that third request. I suppose I will just confirm. The path of least resistance is likely best; is it not? But why did she click that "Add as friend" link? Is there a motive here, or is she just an "I'll friend anyone I've met once" sort of girl? Facebook is not the place for over-analyzers. I really ought to know this by now. My point is I doubt any of these requests would have come through if people were forced to send a message to me rather than just being able to click that "Add as friend" link. Of course, if I had my settings set as such, I wouldn't have connected with plenty of people I am happy to have in my little Friends box. Oh, the back and forth. The madness. I am starting to think Facebook was created by a subversive anti-establishment group who knew that unleashing such a beast onto society would keep us all sufficiently distracted with mind games (not to mention real games--cough; Scrabble addiction; cough) that they could quickly carry out their plan for world domination without anyone noticing.

If that's the case, those last holdouts on the Facebook front are our only hope, I suppose. 3Cs, are you still here? You'll keep an eye out for us, for the good of humanity, won't you? (If you're not going to join and play Scramble with us, it does seem it's the least you can do.)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ask and answer

So last week, our pal 3Carnations answered a few questions she received and in turn offered to interview anyone else who was interested as well. Rarely one to pass up a free and presumably easy blog topic, I said, "Hit me, lady." All right. I didn't really say "Hit me," nor am I usually one to call anybody "lady." Regardless, 3Cs sent me some questions... which I promptly ignored for damn near a solid week. Whatever; there's a reason we use the phrase "fashionably late." I am totally delaying on purpose here, folks. It's all about the mystery and intrigue.

Moving along, though. Questions! Answers! I trust you can figure which is which in the list below.

  1. How long have you been knitting? Will you make me a hat? (Just joking about the hat, but seriously - Did you learn this as a child from your Grandma, or pick it up as an adult...?)

    Hmm. When did I take that up? Five? Six? Seven years ago? Something like that, I'm sure. Back in the dawn of the new crafting revolution, when knitting was still "the new yoga," my friend Lisa decided she wanted to learn, so she asked me to take a community ed knitting class with her. We learned in the after-hours classroom of a high school in St. Paul, from a pair of old ladies who were somebody's grandmas, though not either of my grandmas, obviously. The funny thing is, it was Lisa who wanted to take the knitting class, but it's me who's stuck with it since then. Correct me if I'm wrong, Lisa, but I'm not sure she actually ever finished a single project.

    As for the hat, you do realize, 3Cs, that giving you a hand-knit hat would require me to learn both your real full name AND your address? We all know that is not going to happen. Maybe I'll just make a hat and email you a picture of it and say it's yours. Sound good?

  2. Imagine some type of cheese martial law has been enforced. You may have only three different types of cheese from now on, and one must be permanently banned from your life. What are your choices?

    This is a terribly mean question, though I can't decide if it is mean primarily because of the implied stereotype about my Wisconsin roots or because the mere thought of a world in which only three cheeses are allowed is simply too terrible to bear. Alas, it is thankfully a mere hypothetical, and as such, I'll answer it as best I can.

    First off, we must keep mozzarella, because without mozzarella, there would be no pizza, not to mention no caprese salad, which is a summertime staple, if you ask me. Also, we must have cream cheese, because without cream cheese, there is little point to a bagel. Plus, do we want to live in a world with no cheesecake? I think not. That leaves only one slot for the more traditional slice-and-eat or melt-in-food varieties, and for those, I'm gonna have to go with Swiss. Wait. Saying "Swiss" entitles me to Gruyere as well, right? And Jarlsberg? Those fall under that same umbrella; do they not? Whew.

    Now for the tough part. Which of our lovely cheese friends would I ban? Strangely, I think I'd have to go with cheddar. Yes, yes, cheddar is traditionally responsible for the cheesy goodness in mac and cheese, but I'm pretty sure there's a loophole that would allow me a "cheese food" (i.e., not-quite-cheese chemical substitutes) to enjoy in mac and cheese (as well as cheesy potatoes) instead, and as I'm apt to grab a slice of cold, plain cheddar only if there's no other option nearby, I really don't think I'd miss the real thing all that much.

  3. What was the first concert you attended?

    I had rather strict parents, and as such, I have no memories of piling in a car with a group of high school friends to drive to Milwaukee or Green Bay for any shows. I did try to see the Violent Femmes at Summerfest once, but my terribly supportive older sister nixed that plan for me by telling my mother that my friends were all druggies and I would get trampled at that show. (Thanks, sis! It's a wonder we weren't closer back then, isn't it?)

    Hence, the first show I attended that I actively really wanted to see was REM, summer after my junior year of college. It was an excellent first "real" concert, mind you, but the fact that it happened so late in my life only serves to support the "late bloomer" thing I've mentioned more than once.

    That said, I do recall seeing various shows pretty much not on purpose. My dad was a member of the local Jaycees, and they brought a "big-name" musical act to the high school gym in our town at least once or twice during my youth. My parents still have a signed poster in their basement from the Billy "Crash" Craddock show, and from a Sha Na Na one as well. And I do remember seeing a band called the Jack D'Johns with my parents at the State Fair and various other family-friendly events numerous times as a kid. I am guessing none of you have ever heard of them, but look! They are still around! And they have a Web page! Who knew.

  4. If you participated in a white elephant exchange tomorrow, what random, unusual item in your home would you give up?

    Hmm. I have a particle board dresser I bought in college that I've been meaning to Craig's List, but I think that exceeds the usual acceptable size for white elephant gifts. I could give up Paco, the brightly colored paper-mâché rabbit I bought at Goodwill a few years ago, who now lives in my newly renovated basement... But if I did that, I wouldn't have a fun conversation piece or a photo prop for parties. Obviously I'd have to think on this.

  5. Imagine that the year of Stef (the sequel: 2009: Victory is Mine) culminates in finding the man of your dreams. A wedding is being planned. Do you envision a big "Oh my gosh am I really spending this much on something that lasts only a few hours" wedding, or would you be more likely to keep it simple?

    Honestly, I have never been one of those girls who had her wedding planned since her pre-teen years. The rare times I think about the specifics of such an event, I tend to completely forget about rather obvious details... you know, like the fact that my family would be there and not just my friends, and that I'd actually have to live my personal nightmare and repeatedly call numerous strangers at various places of business to secure quotes and garner buckets of details. Perish the thought.

    If I were to get married, though, I think it would be something in between the "keep it simple" and the "oh my gosh" plan. My goal would be "keep it simple," but I'd also want to throw a big, fun party. Hence, I doubt I'd spend a fortune on a fancy white dress (and I doubt even more that any church would be getting any cash from me to host the ceremony), but I do know I'd want to make sure my friends were happily liquored up and the surroundings were at amply lovely. Oh, and I'd want to have Nabbalicious there to take photos, because seriously, have you seen her work? So I'd spend a bit flying her in and paying her for her trouble. And then I'd take whatever other cash we might have squandered on such an event and use it for a fantastic honeymoon, of course.

All right. I'm pretty sure the follow-up part of this interview game requires me to interview some of you as well. I can't promise any particularly excellent questions, nor can I guarantee (based on the time line it took me to answer these) that you will receive them as promptly as you should. But if you want to play along, speak up in the comments, and I'll see what I can do for you. Just say "Interview me!"