Friday, February 24, 2006

Variety: It's the Bee's Knees!

Weekend, you are nearly in my clutches.

Man, I need this. Tonight a casual dinner with Hubster, a movie maybe, peace and quiet and a stiff drink. Tomorrow a reunion with a friend I have not seen in probably two years. And I get to meet her 13-month-old son for the first time. In DC, no less. Then Sunday I can sleep in because the choir doesn't have to participate in the service. Sunday afternoon? Reformat my faithful computer and put on Adobe CS2. That's what I call a red-letter day.

I like a life with seasons. You have the work week then the weekend, the Winter then the Spring, this holiday then that. Life certainly isn't as regimented as it was in college, but I am glad I still have a weekend. Of course this all goes to crap during the conference season, but then I get to play hooky, enjoying my "weekend" during the week. I take a subversive delight in that. All you out there working bizarro, unpredictable schedules? Mad props.

So what about you: got any plans for your weekend? Are you one of those folks I just mentioned who lacks one? Would you like to kvetch about that? Tell me a funny story? Have a good link to share? SHARE ALREADY.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Work, deconstructed

Ask and you shall receive. That is if you asked for more captioned images. Which you did. See, I'm not kidding! Someone LIKED them. SO HA!

Anyway, this one's about yours truly, besieged at my desk by numerous small but no less important and time-sensitive work projects to be completed today. And that's all you're getting because . . . (wait for it) . . . I have "numerous small but no less important and time-sensitive work projects to be completed today."

And I'm not above repeating myself to make a decently-sized entry. This blogging business is not for the faint of heart. Or the easily embarrassed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mawage is what bwings us togewah today.

When I first signed the contract for our wedding photographer, I didn't really care about my "11x14 Portrait." I was fairly certain I was going to hate it. Having no family mansion with accompanying portraiture to speak of, I didn't want a giant image of myself/my husband staring back at me through an oversized frame. I figured since this photographer did a lot of detail shots of the day, we'd be able to find some innocuous image of the bouquets or something that would work. I was somewhat surprised when we both wanted that upclose shot of us in the light of the church's stained glass. I mean, sure, WE LOOKED HOT, but there was the whole "Hello, almost life-sized younger self, what's up? I'm currently changing so would you mind looking away." Creepy.

Yet occasionally, I find myself staring at us. I'll go in to my dresser to swap out my jeans for the day's errands or something and I'll see it. It's always propped up on the dresser, but like anything else (including dust bunnies and cat hair) it can be quite invisible as the daily grind wears on. After this weekend, I saw it again. Maybe it's the nature of the beast; maybe it's just the nature of this beast; but I definitely got reflective as I stared at our slightly younger faces and realized how naive we must have looked as we processed down the aisle. Seriously, WHAT WERE WE THINKING? We really were in love. We'd been together for three-and-a-half years at that point, so this wasn't a fling we could write off. But you can't know how cold it is in the waters of Cape Cod until you step in. And let me tell you, it's #@$%^& ! cold.

The analogy breaks down there since you can't know how incredibly awesome it is to be married until you GET THEE HITCHED. It's all about the trade-off. Sure, it might be the good season talking, but I love being married to Hubster. The last few weeks have had their challenges, but our desire to set aside our pettiness and love each other fully and selflessly has made them the best of our relationship. [So far.] Hey, we've had our moments of unparalleled stupidity. We've both lashed out and been happy to be mad and determined to remain so. When we've "got it together" we're still whiny and needy and human. But I love this human, and he loves me. We love each other enough to respect each other and each other's desires, ambitions, dreams, and idiosyncracies. We love spending time with each other. At the end of the day, that's . . . GAH, WORDS . . . "superlative" about covers it like a miniskirt covers legs but it's the only thing that comes close.

With all the sweetness, it surprises me how the negative emotions of anger and discouragement that well up when we hit a wall would feel less gripping. It seems wrong that their force isn't attenuated at all. I refuse to believe some platitude about "not feeling as deeply positive without being able to feeling deeply negative" either. Shouldn't emotions be subject to context? If most of our life is great, then this one issue should be minor in comparison so that one emotion, though present, should not be A Presence in the circumstances. Maybe it's just that emotions are harder to trace through the labyrinth of memory, hormones, and subconscious realities. The anger and discouragement was there last night, in all its vicious glory. As we talked over the issue, it was hard not to feel permanently stymied - I mean, haven't we gotten further on the issue? Why did it have to feel like square one?

That may be one big part of why everyone prattles about how much WORK it is to be married. They're not just talking about running a household together because then you'd basically have the same problem as 20th-century roommates and 19th-century housekeepers. They're not just talking about working on a relationship because then you'd have the same problems as junior-highers going steady and you know, yourselves before you got married. It's not just the friendship, the sex, the mildew, and the scheduling conflicts - they're talking about the whole shebang rolled into one small word: marriage. I've thrown my lot in with you until I pass from this, the only life I know anything about. The impact of a shared future alone is enough to make me run screaming in the other direction from this man who insists, INSISTS, that washing pots in the dishwasher after they've been used to cooked rice will get the startch off even though it hasn't worked the last ten times he did it. Work is staying for the eleventh. And not braining him with the resultant startchy pan.

No matter how you come into the Holy Bonds of Matrimony, it's going to be different than what you imagined. With so many of my college friends engaged, it's hard not look at them the way I stare at that portrait, laughing to think of all that's happened and all that will happen. I'm sure I'll read over this entry in five years and think: "Wow, I was still naive a year and a half later." The joy of this life and my marriage to you, Hubster, is that I'm perfectly fine with that. Honestly, I can wish nothing finer for all my engaged friends everywhere.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mini-Vacas > Sliced Bread

[Aside: I used to say that all the time - "the greatest thing since sliced bread." Funny thing, though, I deeply love un-sliced bread and much prefer it because it's usually fresher and tastier and MUCH less healthy for me - pumpernickel loaves notwithstanding.]

Anyway, this weekend rocked. I always thought spending just a weekend away was stupid - save up your time and money and go whole-hog for a week. COME ON! I had no idea that having to travel less than two hours would be so enjoyable and worry-free. I didn't realize that if you're not gone for a long time, all those little things you forgot won't really matter to you. No hairbrush? Meh, I can finger-comb it for a couple of days, right? I also feel so much better about my fiscal responsibility, and going out to dinner with wine and steak? NO PROBLEM. If we can bust out a couple of these a year, I will have an EXCELLENT life. [Well, except for the whole "not being able to do Russia in a weekend bit. Someone get cracking on teleportation already!]

We stayed in a small town in Northern Maryland called Havre de Grace. We stayed a local B&B called the Vandiver Inn - a mansion formerly owned by a Dutchman. It was pretty true to its Victorian roots in decor, but you definitely wouldn't go nuts if you were doily-averse. It was tastefully done. Our room was large by most hotel standards, and we had a gas fireplace we enjoyed using. The other nice thing about staying there was the ample breakfast they provided - hot courses along with fruit salad, scones, bagels, cereal (Special K with Red Berries, mmmmm). Occasionally, a big old breakfast is just the ticket (speaking of clichés, what a weird one that is - the ticket to where?) Anyway, lovely place:

Except for the $6/head "Decoy Museum" - which made us think of all manner of amusing things it might mean until we asked and it turns out they just have a collection populated entirely of decoys of water fowl. Hobbies are weird. Museums based on hobbies are weirder.

We split a bottle of champagne (BYOB, baby!) Friday night. [Another Aside: Champagne may be my very favorite alcoholic drink. It's just so happy and delicious! If you didn't have to drink the whole bottle every time, I'd drink all the time. WAH.] We took three (very cold) long walks on Saturday throughout the town, which was easy since it was small and well-designed for that sort of thing. We went out to dinner Saturday night at the Laurrapin Grille, and it. was. awesome. I got the Chicken Saltimbocca - chicken smothered in provolone and prosciutto atop a bed of perfectly-prepared angel hair in butter with sundried tomatoes and delicious spinach galore. (I usually hate cooked spinach, but this was perfect - not overdone.) Hubster actually got a New York Strip steak (I'm usually the red-meat eater) smothered in gorgonzola with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. We split a dessert - a banana dipped in chocolate, rolled in filo and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Woh. We ordered it on a lark - somewhat in honor of our beloved Bluths - but it was amazing! Our whole bill was under $50. Seriously.

Sunday morning we ate a leisurely breakfast, packed up and headed home to two very hungry felines who, if their mews and crys of woe were any indication, had burned through their three-day supply of kibble within 20 minutes of our departure.

Yesterday we both took the day off and did a little stove shopping and a lot of nothing besides. Then we hit up a Lebanese Taverna - a not-at-all kitschy restaurant with Mr. T. We ate delicious food and then hung out with Mr. T and a friend to watch 24 and snark at the TV. It was a blast, and the perfect way to wrap up one doozy of a mini-vaca. Next weekend, anyone?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Picture Post Friday

Secondary Title: I'm going on vacation, you should be happy I even bothered.

This was our backyard last Saturday. The setting sun is gleaming off the road behind our house (a residential through-way, never very busy), but it almost looks like a river here. Lovely.

By Sunday, there was a lot more snow everywhere and I could barely restrain my trigger finger from snapping until I ran out of storage space. This shot has a lot of texture, I think, even though it's not that strong in composition.

But I know y'all come for the kitten snaps, anyway, so here goes:

You can't tell from this picture, but she was using the box as a sled to skid across the kitchen. Usually within striking range of Tiny. Also, t'would appear her expiration date is close at hand.

Relations between our Clashing Titans are improving, however, leading to occasional bouts of grooming each other. Yes, even feline dieties have their softer side.

Indeed, Persephone and Loki have grown so comfortable as to occasionally nap together on the couch, as well as occasionally being awakened by moi and together staring me down with disapprobation. Progress is a double-edged sword.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody! I'm off for a couple of days with Hubster and nothing to do. Thank you, LORD!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Math

My posting has been sparse and unreliable of late, and by way of explanation, I present this mathematical equation:

(Fashion Magazines)0 = (Posting)0

Obviously this requires a bit of description for the reader, so this post will be a treatise on the nature of that equation. Hang on to your hats, eggheads!

At Monday's counseling session I cried a lot. My therapist had mentioned at our previous session that this would be a session on self esteem. Why was I nervous? My inner voice should have been saying things like "DUDE, YOU GET TO TALK ABOUT HOW AWESOME YOU ARE!" Instead I had this low-level fear whenever I thought of it. What would I say? What did I really think of myself? Where did my impressions of myself come from? After the major work projects of previous weeks were finally done, there was nothing pressing to distract me. I missed distraction.

So back to the session. I realized that many of my personal struggles came through puberty. DUH, doesn't everyone hate it? What about my experience made it horrible? Before that event I had been a happy, normal kid. Perhaps I had a little TOO much self esteem. OKAY, I WAS A BOSSY LITTLE KNOW-IT-ALL. But after the advent of breasts (I SAID IT!) and torment over periods (I SAID THAT, TOO!) and strange stares from boys and men I was thoroughly disarmed - what was happening that people thought they could treat me like that? Why was my body both out to get me and the sum total of a stranger's interest in me? Why was having male best friends so suspicious (until that point all my best friends had been of the lad variety)? Suddenly I had to feel like being good in school was a problem. Later, when I was homeschooled during middle school, I had extremely conservative elements of the support groups (usually the majority or a vocal minority of any group) telling me how inferior my judgment was about life and romance and that I should leave my marriage decision to my father and not question his authority. WHAT? I mean, I loved my dad and I could almost trust him to do that for me, but why should I? Didn't I think and feel and reason, too? What, did estrogen destroy brain waves or something? The more I talked on Monday, the more I realized how betrayed I felt by my fellow Christians, by the faith I held dear. The people who had faith in me and my ability to learn and grow and pursue a calling were the "evil feminists" and the people telling my how incapable I was were "good Christians." I wanted to be close to God so I could hear his calling, but these believers thought like Henry Ford, "you can have any calling you like, as long as it's homemaking."

Fortunately, I had elements of my family, close friends, and my church that spoke a different gospel. Ironically, if I had grown up in one of the churches that think they're the only ones on the right path, I would probably have cared less about what these people think. But my church believed in ecumenical union with our fellow Christians so their opinions were to be carefully considered. But none of the women of my church seemed to take all that much issue with the other perspectives. So I felt alone outside wondering why my womb was such a problem.

But I grew wanting a life of my own, preparing for it, although thinking that if I ever found The One to marry, my life, not his, would go on hold and I would pick it up when the children (and there had to be children) were gone. I started college in Biochemistry with a view to a PhD and then first semester made me realize that though I was interested in science, I wasn't going to pursue every last equation with the vigor that I pursued their conceptual consequences. (Also, lab goggles sucked. Just saying.) When decision time came, I decided to enter the philosophy department because ideas made me giddy. Clearly, I was a metaphysical/epistemological/ethical/linguistic/übernerd. But I still thought, despite my good grades and my professors encouragement that I wasn't really very good at it. I was getting married (having found The One inconveniently early for a career track), and I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I mean, I guess I could rely on his income and get a TA position to supplement and make grad school less prohibitively expensive, but wouldn't that make our first year of marriage more stressful? I would ruin our marriage by my willfull pursuit of what I wanted! BAD GIRL.

It worked out well, in the end. My husband is even better for me than I thought he was back in the day. He is more fun, more supportive, more hot, and more brilliant than he seemed. The job that I took because it was "the best option without venturing out too far" has turned out to be quite good for me. It has allowed lots of growth and exploration, and it has opened me up to creative endeavors to a surprising (and delightful) degree. Despite arriving at it from perhaps unnecessary pressures, I lucked out because it's a good one. (Also making/spending money is nice.) But why did I have to feel inferior to my husband in my pursuit of my calling? Why was my life suspendable and not his?

But pressures remain on me that make me feel inferior and unimportant. Like staring at lovely, professionally made-up and airbrushed 15-year-old models in fashion magazines and reading articles about 30-year-olds who resort to Botox to keep their edge. 30. You know, as in 7 years older than I am right now? Yeah, that's not old enough to need it! Is it? In their "Fashion at Any Age" issues, they discuss how much more fearless 30 and 40 year-olds are about their fashion and life choices because they've overcome the indecisiveness and mistakes of their youth and are now confident to make bold steps - whether in color or career choices. I envy that confidence - I want to skip the torture of these intervening years and get right to that developed and happy self. But then on the next page, those same fearless women are unattractive and require Botox. So is their confidence more a resignation to the structure of life in this society and their dispensable nature? Does anyone ever win?

So that's it, that's why I can't read those things anymore. I feel really frail and immature admitting that to you or even to myself. If I really want to pursue a calling, how can I expect to do that when I'm so obviously weak? Maybe I can't. That's the problem with life - there are no guarantees and your reasoned opinion can be wrong, wrong, wrong. But I'm tired of telling myself I can't do it - I'm too weak, too stupid, too emotional, too fat, too ugly, to unworthy of work and its achievements. So I work for now. I might pursue grad school later. I might decide I really DO want to set it all aside for a time to have children and make my parents and in-laws happy grandparents. But no matter which "might" I go after, I'm going to take more care with my sense of self. I'm not going to allow myself the self-destructive tools with which to vivisect my sense of my own worth until it is dead on the table.

As the preceding paragraphs have shown, this pronouncement set off a firestorm of thought and evaluation. The leap to "(Posting)0" from another equation, then.

(Fashion Magazines)0 = (Thoughts)n, where n is a number >100

But as I've said before, as n approaches 100, it becomes pretty hard to distill any single thought into posts for this site. Thus:

(Thoughts)n = (Posting)0, where n is >100

And by substitution this becomes:

(Fashion Magazines)0 = (Posting)0.

Okay, Contrived Math Class is over. Don't forget your handouts are due Friday.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Today I bought new shoes. Today was a great day.

I would have gotten on the horse/keyboard earlier today, but it was a busy one. I woke up and drove K out to work so I could have the car and go to counseling later that morning. I had an unproductive, but still meaningful counseling session, in which I poor described my recent thought channels but I managed to feel hopeful of positive change. So it was miraculous, too. Then I created Draft 2 of the conference schedule for work with Bee and made some PDFs for Jefe. I picked K up after work and made a delicious stirfry for dinner. We watched some M*A*S*H wile we ate it. Speaking of, it might have been formulaic, but that show had a good thing going. Anyway, K dropped me off at Heaven (DSW) while he went to pick up TurboTax (GENDER TYPING!) and then I bought some awesome, comfortable shoes that, while not being the most stylish in my closer still happen to be awesome. Additionly, I finally own a pair of shoes from one of the most fabulously-monikered companies in the biz - Rocket Dog. Oh, and by the way, the Internet has failed me by not providing a single picture to share with you. YOU ARE DEAD TO ME, INTERNET.

Heh, who am I kidding?

Anyway, the new shoes will work well for conferences when I need to be able to accomplish things without feeling aches and pains or terrors of puddles. These have some patches of suede (which I'll treat) and then some mesh on the sides that should breath for all those days when sandals are a no-no on the plane and sneakers are a furnace once we land. These should do the trick whilst being cute (as I said) and not breaking the cardinal rule of the airport travel - AS A YOUNG WOMAN IN AN AIRPORT YOU WILL BE OGLED. Whoops, sorry, that's not so much a rule as an observation. The real rule is: IF IT LACES, YOU LOSE. Gotta love grown adults standing in lines in their stocking feet pretending they don't feel like Naptime was just called and they forgot to clean up the Duplos before they got their Blankies.

Today's Security Inspections brought to you by the letter N.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Not In My Country

Last night, after our date, K and I finally watched a movie we'd rented almost two weeks ago (ah, Blockbuster, how do we abuse thy trust). We kept remembering and not being in the mood for a serious flick, but last night we decided to just watch it already. And it was astonishing.

In My Country
is based on a book called Country of My Skull (the name of the movie in most countries). It explores the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, a post-apartheid airing of wrongs and a hope for bringing South Africans together after that horrific period ended in the nineties. The hearings sought to give the victims of apartheid a chance to tell their stories and face their tormentors. They also sought to give the wrongdoers amnesty of they were willing to give full confessions and could also prove that they were following orders from their superiors. K and I knew something of apartheid coming in, but not much. Both of us were blind-sided by the powerful message of the story.

The two lead characters in the film are a white Afrikaner woman (a poet turned journalist) and a black African-American man (a journalist) sent to cover the hearings. They have a lot of discussions about whether this amnesty is even right - shouldn't the blacks be given financial reparations and the whites all be implicated in the wrong done in their name by their peers? Here is a nation where the large majority of the people lived in fear (or worse actual conditions) of unprovoked incarceration and torture with no recourse provided to them under the law. FOR FORTY YEARS. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and they are willing, the vast majority of the country is willing to grant amnesty to their enemies.

As soon as the movie was over, we both turned to each other with the same thought at the forefront of our minds: This would never happen here. The concept of forgiving your accusers and not forcing them to face financial, social, and psychological ruin for what they did? Does not compute. And this in the vaunted "Christian Nation." We live by the majority here, and they had a majority - an overwhelming one, really - yet they abided by the rules of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, told their stories, and forgave the people who ruined their lives and those of their families. How brave. How unbelievably beautiful. How truly Christian of them.

Talk of virtue is seems so prevalent in contemporary American Christianity. I think if you just listened to the way we talked and preached, you'd think we had the corner on that market. Even when we're claiming we have a long way to go, we're still firmly convinced we know it better than anyone. So I ask, why is it that in a country where so many profess to be believing Christians that forgiveness seems so rare and definitely impossible in any arena of politics?

I'm sure that the movie took liberties with the real stories. I'm sure that some of the information I've found (in a cursory, one-day internet search, mind you) is flawed or downright wrong. But I want to know more. I want to learn from these amazing people whose voices the film tried to relay. And I want to know why my own people seems so unwilling to champion that virtue of forgiveness.

And I want you to watch that movie and read the following passage from a site on truth commissions throughout the world (including one conducted in Argentina in my short life there!). It's so noble, so beautiful that it makes me cry:

"Archbishop Tutu was the driving force behind the commissionÂ’s work. He created the framework through which the work of the TRC was understood. He made little attempt to separate his work on the commission from his spiritual beliefs, often referred to as Ubuntu theology. Ubuntu is the traditional African notion 'which affirms an organic wholeness of humanity, a wholeness realized in and through other people.' Desmond Tutu merged this traditional thought with Christian values of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. This ideology led to a subtle pressure on those who testified to forgive those who had committed crimes against them, as according to the ubuntu ideology it was only through forgiveness and the recognition of the humanity of the wrongdoer that testifiers could fully reclaim their own humanity. The driving philosophy behind the TRC was the idea that 'Reconciliation is only possible if we build on the foundation of truth. Amnesia may be comforting, but in the end it will prevent reconciliation rather than promoting it.' (Archbishop TutuÂ’s Pressclub speech, 21 October 1997). The creators of the TRC also believed that providing victims with the truth would facilitate the healing process." [Source]

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

So close I can taste it. It tastes like margaritas.

Today is the last day of the catalog project for me. Though a lot of celebratory margaritas might be the order of the day, I will put those off until a more responsible time and opt instead for a coffeehouse date, house tidying, tax preparation (that is, handing out stuff off to our TurboTax-wielding father-in-law), and perhaps a movie with Hubster. I really know how to live it up, don't I?

It's remarkably hard for me to do, though. I worry about financial, emotional, and physical consequences of cutting loose, so I end up with much milder versions of "acting out" than I would otherwise have. Let's put a couple of examples through the E.A.P Thought-Action Translator.

Thought: Splurge on something as a reward. You know you want some wedge heels.
Action: Get a grande instead of a tall house latte at Panera.

Thought: Blow off the entire night and go out on the town.
Action: Do a couple of chores (at least) and stay in for more affordable fun.

Thought: Take a Caribbean Freaking Vacation, girl!
Action: Give myself a pedicure at home because the Caribbean? Hello! Not in the budget!

Considering what a vivid imagination and drama-queen tendencies I can have, it's probably a good idea. We may worry about the debt, but Hubster and I are quite young and homeowners. Thriftiness and a hyper-developed sense of responsibility does have its upside. Still I sometimes suspect that depriving myself unnecessarily. Of course, admitting this in a public forum makes me feel even less like a real grown up than I usually do. That brings my perceived age down from 16 to, um, 3. WAH, I DON'T WANT TO TAKE BATH, I WANT TO WATCH NEMO 85 MORE TIMES!

We do own Finding Nemo . . . maybe . . .

Monday, February 06, 2006

Up For Air . . . And Posting

The weekend started off with a bang. Hubster decided to be spontaneous. 'BOUT DIED OF THE SHOCK.

While we ate dinner Friday night, we channel surfed a bit, and we saw an ad for The Matador - you know, the one where Pierce Brosnan is walking through a posh hotel lobby in nothing but a black speedo and old boots sipping from a beer and headed straight for the pool where he promptly jumps right in, beer in hand. Yeah, it's pretty amusing, but next thing I know, K's checking the times and planning out our evening. Crazy man!

The central character is a weathered-looking Pierce Brosnon with a flip-side-of-Bond persona, older and more honest. It was amusing and entertaining, even if it wasn't the most fantastic movie ever. The cinematography was good, especially some of the more interesting cuts of Mexico. My favorite moment by far was the end credits which began with The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" which I LOVE! Then as the song should have moved into the full gospel choir segment, it faded out and I heard whistles in a rhythm I knew well, but I couldn't place it. "WHAT IS IS THIS MUSIC?" I asked K, suspecting he won't know because it was buried pretty deep in my memory. I probably flailed around in my seat, trying desperately to get back to where I knew this. And then it hit me. "Matador" by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. My uncle showed it to us years ago and we all danced around the living room while it played that Christmas when they came to visit. Argentine ska, 10+ years later, in a Maryland movie theatre.

The whole movie was worth it just for that.

Saturday morning I worked a while on the big work project. In the evening, Mr. T came over again, and I made Beef Chow Mein for the three of us. It was awesome. I omitted some of the more rare ingredients (oyster sauce . . . um, no) but it was a great recipe, and a nice change of pace from some of the regular stir-frys I make. Plus, shitake mushrooms. Mmmmmmmm. We watched The Bourne Supremacy DVD that Mr. T brought and talked throuhgout since we'd all seen it. Much mirth, much mirth. We all got drowsy and went to bed at 1 am, far surpassing our time of about 10:30pm the last time we attempted this. WE'VE STILL GOT IT! Hoo-wah.

Sunday, we all got up and went to church together. We chatted over lunch at home, and then he split to get some stuff done before the Superbowl and Hubster and I decided to get a TON of house stuff done. We stripped the fronts of all the cabinet doors and got them done. (All that remains are the backs, and we should be able to paint and put them on the cabinets soon.) We also organized some of the china in the sideboard and hutch which FINALLY. Then we ordered Chinese takeout and watched the Superbowl with piss-poor excuses for attention levels. The Steelers won, so yay fellow alumni in the Black & Gold territory, but we're thinking "meh, whatever." Also in the "Meh, Whatever" category - this year's commercials. SERIOUSLY boring. Also also, we're not real Americans because LOOK AT THIS LAST, VERY UNPATRIOTIC PARAGRAPH. We should be exiled to Spain or something. SHEESH. (Also also also, fine by me.)

The excitement and happiness of the weekend dissolved in a puddle of misery because the gale-force storm that IS the catalog blew in at top speed yesterday morning. Still, with help from coworkers, I'm knocking it down, and I hope to be done in the next couple of days. In order to make me feel better, though, last night, K and I planned a weekend away at a cute B & B for later this month. Can't wait!

Friday, February 03, 2006


Yesterday I felt really tired and crampy. I couldn't very well sing with a pained abdomen, so I skipped choir practice. I was bummed about missing it, but I knew I would feel so much better if I could just stay home and relax. And whimper a little so Hubster would pamper me. Which he did.

He made one of our fav meals, Gee Chicken Wraps á la Erica, and then let me pick out a movie so we could cuddle and watch it. Having received it for Christmas, I picked Robin Hood, Disney's best movie of all time. Ever. Don't argue. We got through about 2/3 of it and both fell asleep only to awaken before midnight, trek upstairs and slumber peacefully for the rest of the night. Just what the doctor ordered. Mmmmm . . .

Oh, right, the recipe. For those of you who weren't privileged enough to witness their glory firsthand, the Grove City College Student Union (better known in my day as "The Gedunk" or just "Gee" for short) used to have the tastiest sandwich which they called a "Chicken Tender Wrap." It was made with the battered-and-fried variety of chicken tenders, among other key ingredients, and it. was. DELICIOUS. [I am informed by the classes who still attend the institution, that those wraps are no more. Freshmen, I weep for you.]

Having graduated, K missed them greatly and, being that I am the best wife ever (again, don't argue), I decided to mimic their gloriousness for home consumption. And a family favorite was born.

Gee Chicken Wraps á la Erica

1 chicken breast, sliced into stir-fry strips
2 wraps (preferably burrito-sized or larger)
1 package Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tomato, diced
1/2 c. chopped lettuce (green leaf or romaine are best, but whatever)
Ranch dressing to taste

1. Start the Rice-A-Roni first because it will take the longest to prepare. If you can't find the brand, use another one. Often they will call for stewed tomatoes but don't add them because the end result will be the wrong flavor and too mushy. You'll have left-overs, but it's delicious so you can just eat it later. Or make these again. The second option being the likelier of the two because, as I've mentioned before, YUM!
2. Once the rice is simmering, preheat a pan (non-stick if you've got one) to medium-high heat for the chicken. Add as much oil as you need (just a spritz or two of Pam for me, usually) and throw the chicken on to cook. Add some spices to taste. I prefer a dash of paprika, and then I use a spice mix that has salt, pepper, and garlic salt but you can use those seperately, too. Keep stirring occasionally till browned and cooked through.
3. You can grate the cheese, and chop up the veggies as you go. The amounts I gave you for those are approximate - there's no real science to it.
4. I usually zap my wraps in the microwave (why did that sound vaguely dirty?) so thay they're more flexible because it's hard not to overfill them with the ingredients. I usually like to melt the cheese, too, so I just plunk the cheddar on the wrap and heat for a minute or so until it's melted.
5. Assemble using half of the ingredients for each wrap and serve. Feeds 2, although the Rice-A-Roni box can feed up to four, so sizing for more is easy.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Antic Disposition

It's all cute, kitteny action today. This is a shot of Loki playing with shoe strings. I got several awesome pics of her, but her eyes are always closed and it's hard to see what's going on because her fur is so dark. Anyway, she's all about the strings!

Much to our glee, she also gets mirrors! Persephone doesn't really get them. I mean, she uses it to watch us sometimes, and she'll catch our eyes in the reflection, but she doesn't do the whole "OH MY GOSH, IT'S ANOTHER CAT!" thing. So I guess I should say that Loki DOESN'T get mirrors, and that's what's so amusing. This shot's a bit fuzzy, but I couldn't use the flash.

And now, this awesome, random shot. It's dumb luck, but I'm not looking a gift kitten in the mouth. Except I am because HA:

I HEART her! Oh, and on a related note, we think relations between our little deities are shaping up well enough, so we'll keep her. Huzzah!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SAA Meeting Notes

Stress-Avoiders Anonymous Chapter Leader: Today we're welcoming a new member to our circle. Care to introduce yourself?
Me: Hi, my name is Erica. I've been out of college for a year and a half, (pause, gulp) and I no longer know how to deal with prolonged stress. (sigh of relief)
All: (sympathetically) Hi, Erica.

I don't know how it's come to this. I've spent my entire life being driven and thus busy. I studied my derriere off in high school, participating in choirs, dramatic productions, clubs, and student government while maintaining a social life with friends who were usually a 20-minute drive away. I studied through college with a high-GPA-requiring scholarship, worked to pay for social, collegiate, and transportation costs throughout, took full class loads every single semester, and managed to participate in a few clubs and productions there, too.

I spend 18 months out of school, away from the bulk of my friends, and working just one 40-hour-a-week job and spending most of my time at home with my husband and I'm crying NO MAS after just one month of work stress. Seriously?

I had a similar experience with sleep schedules in college. I spent 3/4 of high school living on 4-6 hours of sleep. I was tired all the time, but I got everything done, so I thought it was fine. In college, after a killer first year, I decided that I HAD to make time for sleep, and I proceeded to do just that. I couldn't always stick to it, but I managed to get around 8 hours of sleep per night most of the time. In those times when I couldn't, I would find myself with the same dumbfounded feeling. How did I ever survive without sleep and why can I no longer do that? SERIOUSLY!

So, I'm not really complaining about the situation. As Hubster said on the phone today, "Into every life a little stress must fall." I'm just wondering why I can't handle it anymore - I'm not a disaster, but I'm not tolerating it well. Is it just that I never had anything to compare to my stressed-out self since I was stressed basically from the time I could be emotionally and socially mature enough to endure it? Perhaps that's it. It took me a long time to feel comfortable weaned from the constant activities and scheduling requirements of my collegiate life, but once I did, I was happier for it.

I recognize that's a luxury - CHOOSING a stress-free life. I'm not a mother, so I don't have tiny human beings relying on me for emotional and physical nourishment. I don't have a job which carries huge amounts of stress along with it normally. It's relatively low on that index, which I truly appreciate. I have a good marriage which brings with it stress (like any marriage), but no more than others. I have great families (immediate and in-law), and whether I get to see them often or not, I do have lots of friends who are really fabulous. I even have this great little forum in which you never fail to encourage and amuse me with your comments. But even with all that, I can be stressed. And I still have to deal with it, no matter how out-of-practice I happen to be at the time. Yay, even unto massive over-due projects and feline turf wars shall I deal with it.

But if anyone would like to give me a pass for the day, I'd take it faster than you can say "Vacation HO!"