Thursday, July 30, 2009


I know most of you don't know my good friend Carrie, but is anyone curious how she fared in the Julie & Julia cooking contest I mentioned? She won! Well, she won second place, which is still awesome, of course (she got to take home an excellent set of brand-new cookware), but honestly, I was so shocked she did not win the grand prize that I almost forgot to clap when they announced her name as the runner-up. No, seriously. Whoops. It's times like that when I fear I would be a terrible parent. Or an excellent one, I suppose, depending on your perspective.

I am fairly certain it was the first place winner's sparkling Rachel Ray smile and gaggle of small, seemingly adorable children and not her any-more-stellar-than-Carrie's chicken salad that secured her the grand prize. Which, incidentally, trust me: if the judges had been sitting directly in front of those children, they would not have been deemed so precious. Little treasures, I am sure, but they could not get their high-pitched squeals and their grabby little hands away from me quickly enough. But that is neither here nor there. I wish the winner and her enormous family all the best, and I shall move on before I say anything else that would put me squarely back in that "terrible parent" camp.

After the contest, I got to accompany Carrie to an advance screening of Julie & Julia, which you really must see as soon as you are able, because it is beautiful and charming and might make even the likes of ME think it's a good idea to try my hand at French cooking. (Definitely not aspics or some crazy pastry-wrapped deboned duck, but perhaps a beef stew or pear tart. Maybe.) Meryl Streep is radiant, of course, and Amy Adams is adorable as always, and I almost don't even want to paste in the link for this movie that I just went to find, because I cannot believe Rotten Tomatoes currently deems it worthy of only a 20% rating. 20% means it is "Rotten," and that I simply do not understand. Granted, only five reviews have been counted thus far, but did those five reviewers see the same movie I did?? I'm perplexed.

In other food news, I have a post up at Allie's Answers today. That shouldn't be food news, since my assigned beat on that site is environmentally friendly cleaning products, but rules were meant to be broken and beats were meant to be veered from. Or so I decided after I got a tour and a free meal at a nearby Chipotle recently and felt compelled to write about it. Yes, my guest post is about Chipotle. I should warn you that if you click over, you may be unable to avoid taking yourself to Chipotle for lunch. Don't blame me; blame the accompanying photo Courtney found. Seriously, I need to close that Firefox tab immediately because if I look at that delicious burrito one more time there is no way I'm getting to bed without a snack. Yum.

And finally, this has nothing to do with food, but I found out today that I will be working on a short-term project with a former co-worker for the next two weeks. This project involves pretending I know how to use a tool I last saw three years and probably two software versions ago, but I am a professional! I can DO this, right? Wish me luck. This also means that instead of pulling on a pair of jeans and driving across the suburbs to my very far away office tomorrow morning, I shall be putting on a dress and going downtown! Just like a real grown-up. Actually, this means that my commute will be an awesome 4.1 miles instead of the usual 25, but given that it's 4.1 miles of stop lights and downtown rush hour traffic, I'm unsure whether the time savings will be at all notable. I shall see.

And with that, I should get myself to bed, so that I can actually be a responsible and professional grown-up in the bright and early morning hours. Is it me, or does it feel like Monday was somehow simultaneously just a moment ago and also a hundred years ago right now? This week has been a blur, and I don't even have alcohol or an unusual flurry of activity to blame. Go figure. Happy weekend, all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


* (Not to be confused with Post-its, which are both trademarked and not particularly relevant here.)

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Trading Places

Yesterday I started my lawn mower on the FIRST PULL for quite likely the very first time ever. This victory comes on the tails of my excitement over free wine and free concert tickets, and I am convinced it is a sign that good things are afoot. Not just for me, either, but for those around me, too. My pal Carrie is a finalist in a cooking contest this week, and even my friend Eeyore (not his real name, of course, but a nickname given due to the gray rain cloud of misfortune that persistently follows him) is feeling convinced that his luck is turning. More specifically, he is convinced that his bad luck somehow transferred to the roofer who fell off his house while working on it recently. I saw this happen in a movie once, so obviously it must be possible in real life, too. Of course, in the movie, Lindsay Lohan's luck changed for the worse when she kissed a masked stranger, and as Eeyore assures me he did not make out with his roofer, some other mystical switcheroo must have transpired. Regardless, it's a lovely thing to feel the universe is giving me and mine a gentle pat on the shoulder rather than a swift kick in the rear, and I am hoping it means this August will be decidedly less craptastic and sucktacular than usual. One can dream.

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Analog Girl in a Digital World

That cooking contest Carrie's in? It also includes an appearance on the local news tomorrow morning. I'll be at work by the time it airs, so I set my VCR to capture her TV debut. Yes, I said VCR, which I know is a foreign and archaic gadget to most of you but which still works just fine for me. I didn't even realize until recently how few people still use VCRs, so oblivious and ambivalent am I about acquiring new technologies. Tonight, I had dinner with Steve (you know--my laptop benefactor and car repair consultant) and his lovely girlfriend, and she laughed and said, "You're kidding, right?" when I mentioned programming the VCR. No, I was not kidding, though Steve's girlfriend isn't the only one who thinks VCRs have long gone the way of the laserdisc. I texted Carrie earlier to let her know I'd be taping the show, and it turns out "VCR" isn't in the T9 texting dictionary, either. Of course, the T9 texting dictionary is also missing other key words in my lexicon ("fucking" becomes "ducking" and "Stef" becomes "Puff," to name just two key examples), so maybe T9's vocabulary is what's lacking and not my home technology. Or so I shall tell myself while I'm winding my clocks and hand-wringing my laundry.

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Must Love Dogs (or Rather, the Dog Must Love ME)

I am a huge fan neither of children nor of dogs, and yet, I get an instant warm, happy feeling when someone tells me that their child or their dog likes me. Why? I don't know. Because people who do like dogs and children have told me that dogs and children are excellent judges of character and I want to believe that the dog or child is right? Because I believe that if someone's child or dog likes me, that person is more apt to like me as well? I do not know, but there you go. Thing that makes me smile for no real reason #142. "Stuff you never knew about Stefanie for $200, Alex." Moving on now. Right.

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Backhanded Compliments

Tonight when I ordered my tiki drink, the waitress carded me, which isn't so strange, given that lots of places have a "We card everyone" policy. Hence, no commentary was needed, and yet? The waitress looked at my ID, handed it back to me, and said, "You must have really good skin care. You look a lot younger than you are!" Which, OK, thanks. Lovely of you to say so, miss. Except wait a minute. Did you just call me old? I sort of think she did. Sigh.

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I also like "Interplanetary" and "Poughkeepsie," but those are probably harder to work into a name

In the past year or so, I've noticed a number of bands with one word in their name in common become a band-of-the-moment at essentially the same time. Eagles of Death Metal got fairly frequent airplay around the same time as Department of Eagles entered the scene. Ladytron, Lady Sovereign, and Ladyhawke have all had hits in simultaneous rotation. And lately, I thought I'd found another one: Animal Collective showing up at the same time as Cage the Animals. Except I realized this evening that it's not actually Cage the Animals; it's Cage the Elephant. Regardless, if this isn't a deliberate marketing tactic, then perhaps it should be. It seems to be working quite well. I am wondering what the next word to link two or more band names might be. I am sort of hoping for "Yeti." Record executives, take note.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm not dead, but apparently I want to talk about what would happen if I were

Seeing as I'm single, I live alone, and I am occasionally morbid, I sometimes wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice and investigate if I went missing or broke my neck going down my stairs. If it happened on a week night, there is a good chance my boss would notice my absence within a day and track down my sister or my parents to investigate. I say merely "good chance" because my boss and I work in offices that are only approximately 30 feet away from one another, but as neither of us is exactly a wandering social butterfly at work, those 30 feet are apparently an insurmountable distance to cross unless absolutely necessary, and we often go full days without actually seeing each other's face. If I went missing or dead on one of those days, or perhaps over a long weekend, it is a bit unsettling to me to think how long it might go unnoticed. I can't decide if I should feel lucky I do not have any pets, as it ensures no animal (save maybe Samsa) will eat my face off before the medical examiner arrives, or if I should run out and acquire a pet post haste, knowing said pet might be so helpful as to do away with my remains in a tidy manner before any truly vile decomposition sets in.

Luckily, I may not have to worry about any of these scenarios, because lo, I have the Internets. And the Neighborhood Watch Group in my corner of the Internets (by which I mean 3Carnations) totally has my back. It took a mere week of no Internet activity this time for 3Carnations to send me an email making sure I'm still alive. I could survive a week with no food or water lying on my basement floor with a broken neck, right? She could totally have sent help in time? What's that? No? Well then. 3Cs, maybe this is the reason you should join Facebook: the ability to keep closer tabs on me and provide more prompt follow-up in case of my demise.

At any rate, I am fine. I always think I will have more time for blog reading and writing in the summer, given that there is nothing good on TV to distract me, but I forget that in the summer, I am much less averse to leaving my house in the evening hours, what with the lack of total darkness and bitter cold that thwarts any ambition to combat hermitude during winter months.

So I have simply been busy lately. What have I been up to? Well, let's see.

I picked up and thereafter sampled my free wine. I will say, for Chardonnay, it is not half bad. I might even go so far as to say that for Chardonnay, it is delicious. It was also free, and it's hard to argue with that.

Of course, it would have been far too fiscally responsible of me to walk out with my 12 free bottles of white wine without also spending some money on red. The summer wine sale is in progress, and I cannot see my favorites priced at $6, $7, and $8 a bottle and not do some stocking up. I bought six bottles and yet, I sort of want to go back and buy six more. People, there are BARGAINS in store! It pays to buy in bulk! I have never once felt the urge to acquire a Costco or Sam's Club membership in order to stockpile toilet paper or Ramen noodles, but where alcohol is concerned, apparently I am all about economies of scale. My logic knows no bounds. My priorities not remotely flawed.

Moving on. What else has happened recently? Well, it finally rained. It rained right in the middle of the outdoor viewing of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that I attended, but it rained nonetheless. Also, one (just one!) of my cherry tomatoes has turned nearly red. I think that had more to do with luck or fertilizer than with rain, but the rain is welcome in any case. Neither the rain nor the fertilizer has saved my Big Beef tomatoes, unfortunately. Today, the most promising-looking one of those somehow entirely disappeared. I stared at my tomato plants for a full two minutes pondering its sudden absence. Whatever animal, neighbor, or lawn gnome took off with it was probably watching me, laughing, the whole time.

In more interesting news, I attended four shows in six days. I am totally a Girl About Town. The last of those was a semi-secret, semi-private Jenny Lewis show that I scored free tickets to on my way out of another show. It was sponsored by Target and Converse, meaning it was very corporatey and logo-laden, but we had a lovely time nonetheless. Plus, I got a free girly red martini in a blinking martini glass, and nothing says "Fun" like a blinking martini, no? You like blinking lights, don't you? (Like the one on the waffle iron. Or the little guy on the Don't Walk sign. I may be tired and losing my focus here, but somebody please get that reference.)

Also, I planned two vacations. Actually, not so much "planned" as "committed to." And this may have happened before my last post and I just neglected to mention it until now. I did say I was overdue for a vacation. Apparently my remedy for that is to take two. Hurrah! First up is a week-long road trip to the Badlands, etc. (South Dakota tips, anyone?) Then in September it's a long weekend in L.A. Unlike my last trip out of the state, neither of these will be with my coworkers. Mexico may beat South Dakota on most people's list of hot spots worth visiting, but being able to return from vacation without saying, "Huh. Haven't been in this office for a while, and yet, I just saw YOU yesterday!" ranks pretty high on my list. I can't wait.

And finally, in less exciting news, I have developed an awesome case of insomnia. Oh man, it is the best. Know what's even better than feeling tired and headachey and nauseated all day because you have a hangover? Feeling tired and headachey and nauseated all day without even having had the fun of an irresponsible bender the night before to warrant it. As I type away right now, my head is heavy, my eyelids are drooping, and yet, like magic, I am certain the moment my head hits my pillow, I will be wide awake, ready to tackle all the world's problems (or at least, ponder incessantly the most trivial of my own). If you have any remedies or suggestions for this dilemma, I would love to hear them. Partying like a rock star is one thing. Looking and feeling as though I've partied like one without having done any actual partying is quite another. Yawn.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just doing my part to give the last Facebook holdouts one more reason to join

First up, a few updates, because giving you even more information about things you probably weren't riveted by the first time sounds like an excellent idea, no? Some people tell worthwhile, NEW stories! That is not how I roll.

So, shockingly, I have yet to hear anything from the charming Josh Ritter, despite how many times I included his name in that last post for the Google-bots to find. I did not even see any Ritter-related search activity in my referrals list this week. It seems I have overestimated the appeal that vanity-Googling holds for celebrities. Maybe stars really aren't just like us after all.

While Josh Ritter hasn't found his way to my blog in search of a new girlfriend, however, it seems other people think I may be some sort of authority on celebrity relationships. (Hint: I am not.) I do not know if Martin Zellar is still married, nor do I have any idea if Alanis Morissette and Jim Creegan have been romantically linked. (I do know they are both Canadian, but nobody is Googling that today.) I hope those particular searchers found what they were looking for, because I am certain they did not find it here.

In other news, I am pleased to report that the dead squirrel count, for now, still rests at two. I remain suspicious, however, as does my neighbor, who is just as baffled as I am why two squirrels would go belly-up within a ten-foot radius of one another in the same month. His first theory was that some plant in his yard might be poisoning them. This is not the first time he's proven to be a more rational thinker than I am, because my first theory was that my yard is, for some reason, the squirrel population's answer to Topper's House. Poor, down-on-their luck squirrels are coming from all corners of the neighborhood just to off themselves in my yard. Why? I cannot say. But in lieu of my sprinkling squirrel-sized portions of Prozac in the vicinity, I do hope they find an alternate suicide spot soon.

I realize this is an unlikely explanation, of course, but it is no more absurd than the one I came up with the following day. Looking out my kitchen window, I noticed that the rabbit who lives in my yard was eyeing a squirrel with more focused malevolence than seemed normal or warranted, and I decided perhaps Thumper (as the elderly woman next door calls him) was to blame for the squirrel carnage. It's probably ridiculous to theorize that a descendant of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog might be living in my backyard, but that explanation would help me feel a bit less guilty about occasionally wanting to pour cement into the two large holes he's dug in my lawn.

Next up, more about my yard. Or rather, the things growing in and near it. (Wait! Where are you going?? I need your help here!) Do you remember how excited I was when I saw little green balls of promise pop up on the tomato plants I bought? I should have known it would not be that easy. Given that nearly every plant that's ever been entrusted to me has at least half-withered under my care, it should have been obvious that my optimism about those tomatoes was entirely premature. Look at my sad tomato plants now! The leaves at the bottom keep turning yellow! The leaves at the top have all but disappeared! People, what has happened to my tomato-related hopes and dreams?!

I have asked my friend Google what causes yellowing of tomato plant leaves, and shockingly, Google was of exactly zero help. Yellow leaves could mean that I am overwatering or that I am underwatering. They could be a sign that the soil doesn't have enough nitrogen, or enough calcium, or that my poor plants have fallen to some insect or disease.

Surely several of you know more about gardening than I do. Tell me, how do I know which is to blame?!? With all of those options, I have no clue how to troubleshoot. I feel like Rick Moranis in Little Shop of Horrors, pleading in song for sickly little Audrey 2 to grow. (Come on, you remember that one: "I've tried you in levels of moisture from desert to mud! I've given you grow-lights and mineral supplements; what do you want from me, blood?!?") I do want results from these tomato plants, but at what price? I draw the line at opening a vein for them.

Of course, with that thought, it suddenly occurs to me that my tomato plants are actually rather close to where the last squirrel was attacked. Maybe these tomato plants ARE blood thirsty. That would solve two mysteries in one! My sometimes flimsy grasp on reality hasn't failed me entirely, however. So who has a more likely explanation for me?

And finally, on a happier, more pleasant note, I am a winner! A few weeks ago, I entered a contest that my favorite liquor store held on their Facebook page. Their fans were to each leave a comment saying what they love about the store, and there would later be a drawing to award someone a free case of Chardonnay. This afternoon, I received an email from the store. Hurrah; I WON! Whee! Ideally, the prize would be a case of Folie à Deux Menage a Trois Red rather than Finnegan's Lake Chardonnay, but winners can't be choosers, after all. (Wait. That's not how the saying goes...) So I will have to have a Chardonnay party. Or, perhaps, all of my friends will be getting Chardonnay for Christmas. Or, you know, I could just accept that it is summer and be a more frequent friend to whites. In any case, there is a lesson here: lead with your strengths and stick with what you know. My gardening attempts = epic fail. With liquor (and Facebook), I win!

Friday, July 10, 2009

And I thought the last one would have made a good imaginary "How we met" story...

People, I have a situation. It's not a pretty one. I am typing at the moment from a chair in my front yard, not because I enjoy putting myself on display for my neighborhood, all, "Hey, look at me! I am a single woman with nothing better to do on a Friday night than sit outside with a glass of wine and a laptop!" but because I am too horrified to tuck myself away unnoticed in my backyard.

It seems having a squirrel give up the ghost in my backyard wasn't a one-time thing. There must be some sort of anti-squirrel predator or force field in the area between my neighbor's fence and my back walkway, because another dead squirrel is now lying only about five feet away from where the previous one went belly up. This one is on my property, so I don't feel particularly right asking my neighbor to remove it for me. Unfortunately, it's also much more vile than the previous one. Suddenly I'm not sure why I was so terrified to deal with that first squirrel, because I realize now that I would have rather touched that one with my bare hands than scoop the scattered remains of this one up even with a ten-foot-long shovel. I'm really trying to spare you the graphic details. I'm failing, so I'd better just move on.

And oh, look at that. I left my post for five minutes to duck back in my house, and now there is a bug in my wine glass. Fantastic. Bugs in my wine, crows circling overhead, flies swarming in on a revolting target a mere 30 feet away... Perhaps outdoor blogging isn't as appealing as I thought it might be. Think I'll move this party back inside after all.

So then. Focusing on more pleasant thoughts. Last night Josh Ritter was in town, so Carrie and I went to the Varsity Theater to see one of our favorite (Carrie went so far as to say "the original") Boy Meets Guitar. Our pal Lisa was supposed to join us, but unfortunately she had a doctor's appointment earlier in the day that unexpectedly ended with a staple being deliberately put in her head (ouch), and I can't particularly blame her for not feeling up to a concert night after that. (Look at me; I have finally veered away from dead rodents and now I am talking about surgical staples. Aren't you glad you clicked this link in your feed reader today?)

ANYWAY, as usual, Josh did not disappoint. I've already told this story once, but it was two years ago, so allow me to tell you again what's so very special about this boy. The first time I saw him, it was amid a crowd of fewer than 40 people, many of whom had probably wandered into the club having no idea who they were going to see, taking the chance that their $5 cover charge would not be a bust. Lisa and I were there on Carrie's recommendation. She was living in Chicago at the time, and she emailed us to say that a dude worth seeing was coming to our town, and we should go to his show. So we went, and we liked what we heard, and after the show, Josh milled about selling CDs and handing out promotional postcards, so we talked to him for a bit. Despite the small crowd, Josh was thrilled that we were there. "Thank you SO MUCH for coming!" he gushed. "How did you hear about the show?" When we told him our friend in Chicago had recommended it, he wanted to sign a postcard for her. But he didn't just sign it; he thanked her for sending us, and he wrote, "Stefanie is gorgeous, and Lisa is the belle of the ball!" We were both smitten. "I've never been the belle of the ball before!" Lisa said. The boy was just a young pup at the time, but he knew how to charm the ladies.

Since then, I've seen Josh nearly every time he's come to town, and each time, the crowd is larger and more dedicated. He's now successful enough that there are Josh Ritter tribute bands (in Ireland, apparently), but he's still just as grateful someone's there to listen. That wide-eyed enthusiasm hasn't faded; the grin on his face has only grown wider. I suppose it's possible that underneath that stage presence, he is an insufferable diva, a volatile force I would never want to know in person, but I don't want to believe that is the case. As far as I am concerned, he is a nice boy from Idaho who says "Please" and "Thank you," who, despite his success, is still sort of awe-struck that people will actually pay money to come and hear him play, to see him do what presumably he loves best.

It's hard to watch him and not develop a bit of a crush, and Carrie and I are certainly not immune. Last night's show was at the same venue where I met the MPR reporter as a discussion panelist, so Carrie turned to me mid-set and said, "I think you should make a habit of picking up anyone you see on the stage at the Varsity."

It's a compelling suggestion, but somehow I think asking Josh Ritter out for a drink via email might be even less successful than asking an MPR reporter out turned out to be. Of course, I may not actually have to send such an email, as this is the information age, and I have had a blog and a Sitemeter account long enough to know that even on the smallest and least notable of web sites, any words you type about a celebrity do not go unnoticed. No, thanks to Google Alerts and Technorati, Josh Ritter's publicist, or perhaps even Josh Ritter himself, will likely read this within a few short days of my clicking that "Publish Post" button. I sure am glad I talked about inside-out squirrels and head staples in the same post as the lyrical genius of young Mr. Ritter. (Message to Josh: Hi there! Call me!) Sigh.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A meme in two parts, Part the Second

So hey. Remember this? I never did actually finish that, did I? Does anyone actually care that I didn't finish it? Don't answer that. The old adage says "Better late than never," but in this case, I'm pretty sure "never" would have been just as acceptable as "late." Regardless, here we go!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?

See, this is tough, because I'm more a "see lots of different places" kind of girl than a "vacation in the same place every year" one. Can I get a movable house? Yes! An RV! Can't you see me in a thoroughly obnoxious, tripped-out Winnebago that will take me any place where crossing an ocean is not required? I'd like a driver along with this, however, please. I'm not parallel parking that thing.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
For only an hour? How about Africa? I would love to see Africa first hand, but I am also not a fan of being hot and dusty and possibly contracting malaria. An hour sounds about right, I think.

What language do you want to learn?
I keep saying I want to take a French class, if for no other reason than to help me pronounce things on menus correctly. I know myself well enough to know I'd likely not have the stick-to-it-iveness to actually become fluent, however. So now I'm just thinking about Ricky's mom in Better Off Dead, and I want to answer, "The language of loooooove." (Lord knows I'm not fluent in that yet, either.)

What is your favorite color?
For what? Accessories? Red. Shirts? Black. Jeans? Very dark blue. Camping gear? Green. (Not really, but I've noticed that my decades-old duffel bag, my fold-up captain's chair, and my sleeping bag are all green, and I have no explanation for that.) Shall I go on? No, I'll stop now. Let's go with red, I guess.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
I have said more than once that I might marry my blue yoga pants, so that seems the best answer, I suppose (even if I never actually wear them outside of my house). I really should have bought three pairs of those when I found them. The day they become too threadbare to warrant keeping, I may have to have a memorial service to say farewell.

What is your dream job?
Here is where I prove just what a giant nerd I am, because when I think about places where it would be fun and exciting to work, I always think of Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. Yes, yes, I realize it is probably not all fun and word games and lively discussions about vocabulary and usage, even at the place where dictionaries live and grow, but I want to believe a dictionary company is a magical place anyway, much like how as a kid, I believed that the people who worked in the toy store had the best job ever because obviously they got to play with all the toys. In truth, I have no idea what my dream job is, and I think it's because my dream job is probably something I don't even know is a job. It probably won't show up in any "What Color is Your Parachute"-type quiz.

What is your favorite magazine?
I don't have one, because I almost never read them. If I want to read in bits and pieces, I have the Internet. If I want to read for real, I grab a book. If I don't want to read at all, I turn on the TV. Pretty much the only time I read magazines is on trips, and I realized a few years ago that I don't leave town often enough to warrant letting several issues of a subscription pile up in between trips. This means that when I'm at my parents' house over holiday weekends, I'm forced to read the Us Weeklys that my sister brings along with her as I have no mindless reading material of my own, but that's fine, really. Someone has to witness the fact that stars really are just like us!

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?
This is where it becomes obvious that this meme came to us from across the pond, something you might not have suspected earlier given that I took the liberty of changing all instances of "favourite" to "favorite" on my own. According to Monkey, 100 pounds is currently $163 US, which I do have, and will probably spend either on necessary things that cost too much or things I shouldn't buy but want anyway. My favorite liquor store is having their summer sale, and I am contemplating purchasing a full case of my favorite wine for the first time ever. Would buying a case of wine make me a grown-up or a drunkard? Also, would that fall into the "necessary things that cost too much" category or the "things I shouldn't buy but want anyway" one? I had no idea $163 could be so stressful. I have money issues, obviously.

Describe your personal style.
Most of the things in my closet will never go out of style, because they were never actually in style to begin with. I wear a lot of basics. Solid colors. Simple cuts. I prefer to think of this approach as "classic" rather than "fashion challenged," but I'm not the one to judge that, I suppose.

What are you going to do after this?
Go to bed. On time, maybe? How many more questions are there here? Ack. Maybe not.

What are your favorite films?
Do you remember that episode of Friends where Chandler and Joey faced off against Rachel and Monica in a "who knows who best?" trivia game? One question was, "Rachel claims her favorite movie is this." (Answer: Dangerous Liaisons) The next question was, "Her actual favorite movie is..." (Answer: Weekend at Bernie's) I sort of think everyone has a dual answer like that. On the record, I might say The Philadelphia Story or The Sound of Music. Off the record, I totally love Never Been Kissed.

What's your favorite fruit?
OK, I should really know this, but are avocados a vegetable or a fruit? If they're a fruit, then I'll say avocados. If they're a vegetable, then I'll say nectarines, even though I hardly ever buy them because I'm always missing the seemingly only three-hour window during which they're ripe.

What inspires you?
Really, meme? You're going to make me be introspective and thoughtful when you just asked me about fruit and movies? I don't think so. Sorry.

Do you collect anything?
See, now this is just getting tedious. I collect magnets, from every city I visit. My fridge is getting mighty crowded.

Your favorite animal?
I think I might just start deleting questions I don't feel like answering. Like this one, for instance.

What are you currently reading?
I'm about 100 pages into Cloud Atlas, which I would have given up on nearly immediately if not for Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50 prodding me to stick it out a bit longer. (Also, the fact that David Sedaris once recommended this book enthusiastically at a reading I attended, and I don't want to believe David Sedaris could be wrong.) It's finally getting a bit better, but if I ever meet David Mitchell, I will be sure to ask him why he took what might actually be a brilliant book (verdict uncertain at this point) and stuck a dreadfully tedious 40-some page story at the very start of it.

Go to your book shelf, take down the first book with a red spine you see, turn to page 26 and type out the first line:
I am too lazy to do this, so I am going to decide that the orange spine on the copy of The Thorn Birds that has been sitting on my coffee table since my friend Jenny lent it to me a few weeks ago is close enough. In that case, "sails. When the longboat washed ashore on the wild." Fascinating, no? I'm sure if I'd only taken the time to get up and find an actually red spine, the result would have been far more riveting.

By what criteria do you judge a person?
I'm sure all of you assume I am going to say "their grammar," so I might as well say "their grammar." I live to be predictable, obviously.

What skill would you like to acquire immediately?
The skill to get myself to shut down my computer and get to bed at a reasonable hour on every week night? That's not exactly a skill, is it? Still, best work on that.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

More proof that I'm probably just well overdue for a proper VACATION.

Well, I don't know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy this long weekend thing, and I would very much like another, please. In fact, it occurs to me that we may just have found the issue that would get me to cross party lines in the next election. Promise me a standard four-day work week, and you have my vote, madam or sir. (I do realize that this is an unlikely platform, but a girl can dream, can't she?)

Speaking of votes, I finally found out this week how one of the ones I cast eight months ago panned out. I'm pretty sure that when votes were counted by hand and delivered to the precinct reporting place via Pony Express, the results still came in earlier than this, but hooray for democracy however it plays out, I suppose. The important thing is I have two senators again. I would hope this means Amy Klobuchar could take a well-earned day off, but when she chatted with Garrison Keillor on the stage of the Prairie Home Companion 35th anniversary show yesterday afternoon, she explained that it was actually her fifth public appearance of the day. Fifth. As if I didn't have enough reasons already why a life in politics is not the life for me, Senator Klobuchar has given me one more. At noon on this particular Independence Day, I was sitting in a townie bar with three excellent friends, enjoying cheap drinks and free chocolate peanut butter cake (courtesy of the star-spangled bartender who baked it herself in honor of the day's events), while we waited in air-conditioned comfort for the time when the Oklahoma Avon, MN land rush would allow us to claim our spots in the city park for the afternoon's free show. At that same time, my sole senator was marching in one of four parades, waving and kissing babies and sweating in the sun, her criss-crossing journey across the state likely having begun before I even got out of bed that lovely Saturday. Yes, my life is a humble, low profile one with occasional annoyances of the routine sort, but I'll take that over terminally lost summer holidays any day, thanks.

In addition to yesterday's public radio-related day trip, my social calendar for the weekend also included a screening of Food Matters in the parking lot of a local performing arts space and a 35-mile bike ride along Minneapolis's Grand Rounds (interspersed with stops for fresh tilapia tacos and ice cream, of course). Those 35 miles were hard fought, I should mention. A quick tip: if you have not gotten on a bike in over a year, it is maybe not the best idea for your first ride of the season to be a rather long one, accompanied by three friends who either bike to work nearly every day, attend spinning class routinely, or are, as far as you can tell, wired not unlike a tiny, fast-paced, never-tiring robot. Word to the wise, as it were. I'd best get in some more practice miles if I plan to bike with those particular friends any time again soon. Meanwhile, I can finally now sit in one place for more than a half hour and then arise again without any piercing pain in every muscle below my pelvis, so I am thankful for that, anyway.

Aside from the unexpected effort of that bike ride, however, my weekend involved no manual labor whatsoever. (That is, unless you count a few fairly painless loads of laundry and some dishes as well.) The important thing is I did no yard work, digging, or planting, and tackled no other projects or errands either. (I have not even driven my car since Thursday. Let's hope it still starts when I attempt to leave for work tomorrow.) Today was a lovely, largely leisurely day, and it pains me more than a bit to set my 6:30 alarm for tomorrow morning.

And that's about all I've got at the moment. I'm starting to think I should go on a date again one of these days, if for no other reason than the material. I rather enjoy having my evenings taken only by things I want to take them, however. Perhaps I should just fabricate a date story instead? Hmmm.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Three quick things

  1. I finally got my car's air conditioner fixed... and immediately thereafter, the temperature dropped and has stayed below 72 degrees since. To everyone in the Twin Cities who was tired of that heat wave, you're welcome.

  2. I got a hundred bucks knocked off that AC repair bill pretty much just by asking if they could do better than their seemingly unreasonable labor rate. Who knew I was a master negotiator? Not me! I already bragged about this on Facebook, but I am proud enough that I feel the need to mention it again anyway.

    And finally,

  3. I have a post up at Allie's Answers today. You should go read it.

That is all. Carry on. Happy long weekend, if you've got one coming. (My condolences to you if you don't.)