Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Getting Serious About Suburban Living

As promised, I got a car. Helloooooo, beautiful 2008 Honda Civic that is not at (as great of a) risk of breaking down mid-highway!


Also, I got a cat. Meet Stringer Bell, originally named George (we can't decide), age 10, adopted from our local SPCA. He likes cuddling, sleeping in bed with me & sneezing in my face; he does not like catnip, responding to our calls or, it seems, eating his food.

Following announcement of my two new acquisitions, my boss sent me a concerned email: "First a car and now a cat? This suburban thing is getting out of hand."

Ain't that the truth! He made me promise I wouldn't "lose [my] edge." I promised, of course, but this cat in my lap seems to have other plans for me.

I also promise not to become one of those simpering, obnoxious pet owners who constantly talks about & posts photos of my cat. Then again, I once promised not to be a douchey, Apple-worshiping iPhone owner who Googles things mid-conversation, either - and just look at me now.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Something Fishy

I do not like fish. I don't like fish in the water, possibly swimming next to my feet, & I don't like fish in my mouth, tasting all fishy & disgusting. In no circumstances are fish & I friends.

But then I found Sake. Let's be clear, Sake is not a miracle worker - it hasn't bridged the gap between fish & me. What is has done is welcome me into the Wonderful World of Sushi (capitalized as though it's a real place) without forcing me to reconcile my relationship with the little swimmers that skeeve me so.

In short, I have Americanized my sushi experience as much as humanly possible by capitalizing on Sake's many creatively fish-free menu items, including:

  • Idaho Maki: Fried sweet potato roll

  • Tempura California Maki: A California roll (crab stick, cucumber & avocado) deep-fried in tempura batter

  • Crispy Spicy Chicken Maki: Fried chicken, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayonnaise roll

  • Volcano Maki: Baked avocado & melted cheese roll topped with spicy mayonnaise crab

  • Pizza Maki: Baked avocado, crab stick & spicy mayonnaise roll covered with melted cheese

That's right, I'm eating sushi with melted cheese on top & potatoes inside, smothered in mayo. I'm pretty sure this is not what the venerable ancient Japanese had in mind long ago, when sushi first came to be. And I'm pretty sure I should be ashamed of turning the healthiest gourmet food experience into one that is likely making my arteries cry out in pain.

I'm pretty sure I cannot, with any credibility, say, "I now like sushi!" if I still refuse to eat anything that contains raw fish. But my taste buds are happy. And I'm trying new things! And, and... well, who said small towns don't know good food?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Seven Deadly Facebook Sins

It's no secret that I keep a mental laundry list of pet peeves. I try not to be one of those people who yammers on about all the things I hate, but if you ask me, or if they somehow come up, you'd better believe I'm going to tell you. Recently, I realized that approximately 70% of this list comprises Facebook grievances, which I've kindly compiled for you today. Without further ado, I present to you a list of Things That Are Not OK:
  1. "Signing" all comments/status updates with your name
    We know who you are. That's how this thing works.

  2. Making your sonogram your profile photo
    Plenty of people I like very much have done this or are currently doing it, & I would like to note that I have no less love for them because of it - but frankly, the world does not need to see your wee one's first-ever photograph. Also, as a bonus - 2A, if you will - you know what's worse than posting sonogram photos as your profile pic? Posting photos of your C-section. Period. Wait, wait, who was in the room taking pictures of this? And why do you want me to see them? And in case you're wondering, yes, this actually happened. And yes, I reported it to Facebook for pornography. Mean? Maybe. But my eyes were angry.

  3. Having a joint Facebook account
    Guys. I get that you are madly in love & attached at the hip & perhaaaaps not all that trusting of one another. Maybe, if you're that nervous, you can give one another your account passwords or something. (This is a whole other issue, obviously.) But when you create a joint JaneandJohn Jackson account, I am forced to forever address you as a singular unit, losing all sense of your individuality, if it even exists. And I'm also forced to hate you a little bit, even if I really like you.

  4. Keeping your baby journal online
    There was a day, long ago, when proud parents kept baby books that were - gasp! - written by hand, complete with little tiny handprints & locks of hair, noting baby's first words & baby's first steps & baby's first experience with solid foods, both coming in & going out. Now, proud exhibitionist parents post status updates about everything from baby colic to baby crap. You wouldn't tell me when you've pooped - why would you tell me when your child has?! Some family milestones are best kept within the family.

  5. Airing your dirty laundry in comment wars
    There are things I don't even know about my very best friends that I am privy to knowing about my furthest acquaintances, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg's genius. You boyfriend cheated on you & then you had great make-up sex but then he cheated on you again? You think your ex-husband is a piece of trash who doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as amoebas on fleas on rats? You're anti-welfare & want to tell a friend who relies on it that you think she's a lazy waste of space? There are better places to have all of these conversations - like with one another or, in some cases, not at all.

  6. Creating an account for your unborn baby and/or pet
    This should be self-explanatory. Your cat can't talk, & neither can your kid. It should be obvious that neither one deserves a Facebook account.

  7. Tagging your children as yourself
    Yes, you made them. But you are NOT THEM, you crazy helicopter-parents-in-waiting! While I understand that you want to be able to keep track of the photos of your kids posted by others, there's gotta be a less weird way to go about it than mixing their baby pics with four-year-old photos of you doing keg stands. And no, number five is not the answer. Something else is. Figure it out. You're a parent, aren't you supposed to be supersmart now? Isn't that how that works?
Honorable mentions go to:
  • Using any third-party app that publishes quiz results directly to your wall
  • Automatically updating your status messages via tweet, @ & all.
  • Making real-life plans via extended wall conversation
  • Status updates about what you're eating (exceptions can be made if, say, you are particularly hilarious or eating a five-course meal cooked for you by a famous chef)
  • Quoting Train lyrics

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Doing My Civic Duty

    There was regret in his voice as he handed down the official diagnosis: "It's terminal," he told me. Shock & sadness washed over me; is this really the end?

    The "doctor" in this true-life scenario is my mechanic. The patient? My 1993 Toyota Camry. And as of last Monday, it's official: She's a goner.

    I knew when I - errr, my mom - bought a 1993 Camry last October that it wasn't going to be the start of a particularly long-term relationship, though I'd hoped we'd be together a bit longer. Maybe she got angry with me because I somewhat cruelly nicknamed her The Time Machine, an ode to her long-ago birthdate. Or maybe she was just plain tired, a result of her advanced age & the fact that I drove her from Ohio to New Hampshire in the snow & ice at 120k+ miles. Regardless, she's now dead, stuck on the mechanic's lot as she awaits a tow truck to take her to her final resting place.

    The event that led to her death was truly traumatic: It involved a harrowing roadside breakdown, both physically (her) & emotionally (me), on a highway drive back from Boston. The phone calls that came afterward mostly involved me crying, especially to my mother (hey, I never claimed to be a real adult). "I JUST WANT A CIVIC!" I screamed. "How about an Accord?" she asked patiently. "I JUST WANT A CIVICCC!" I repeated, this time with extra oomph in the form of added whininess.

    After a week of carlessness-induced despair, Nathan & I today made our way out to the Honda Barn - used car dealerships always aim to be classy! - where I stuck to my very particular, somewhat stubborn guns & refused to look at anything that wasn't a late-model Civic... & took the requisite steps toward purchasing my first car. It's not mine yet (credit check pending!), but my fingers are crossed & my thumbs are up.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Making Friends in Real Life is HARD, Yo.

    Thank you to P&G’s Have You Tried This Yet? program and Kroger for sponsoring my writing about trying new things and breaking out of my everyday routine. Click here to find great savings on high-performing P&G products at a Kroger store near you. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

    In case I forgot to mention it, I moved. To New Hampshire. I know, I know, WHAT? I'd been waiting to move back to the Buckeye State, for-ev-er! (Spoken in a Sandlot voice, if you please) So what happened? Well, life happened - I got an awesome job that requires me to live in New England, & it just so happens that my boyfriend (pictured to the left, just for fun) lives in New England, so I made a logical leap: I moved in with him.

    So here I am, in New Hampshire, where I know exactly one person. And did I mention that I work from home? Waking up every morning & wandering into my living room isn't the best way to meet new people. My daily routine goes something like this: Wake up, shower, work, eat lunch, work, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed, rinse & repeat.

    Needless to say, I'm desperate for a break from my regularly scheduled program, preferably in a way that helps me make real-life friends instead of just the online kind (oh, I'm creepy). I hate sports & I can't knit, which most of the activities I've found in the area seem centered around, so I'm trying to get creative. Currently, my List of Possible Ways to Break From the Routine looks like this:
    • Take guitar lessons. I've had a guitar for five years now, & I can't play a single note. My 101 in 1,001 List challenges me to learn at least one song, no matter how simple, on my acoustic Fender, & maybe now is the perfect time! But... well, this won't help me meet anyone, will it? Just a guitar teacher. And then I'll spend all my time holed up in my apartment trying to get the notes right, & I'll never go outside again, & maybe guitar-playing will actually make me more of a hermit, after all.

    • Join Weight Watchers. I like to eat. I also like having friends. I thought that by joining WW, I could make friends with people who also like to eat but who, like me, are trying to eat less. Then, I'll have killed two birds with one stone by befriending folks who can also serve as a support system. Is that selfish of me? Or just super-savvy? You be the judge.

    • Try yoga. I am not particularly flexible, due in part to the fact that I have two stainless steel rods along my spine. It follows, then, that yoga is probably a stupid idea. But after reading about Julie's Bikram adventure, I'm tempted to give it a shot. I found this Yoga By Donation studio nearby, which means I could afford a class or two or 10, but I'm wary of being the sweaty, farty, totally unbendy kid in the class. I don't know that that's the best way to make new friends.

    • Join a book club. I found one in the area via Meetup.com, & as I followed along with their monthly picks before moving into the area, I grew more & more excited to join them. Until the month I actually moved here, when their book of choice was"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." This month? "Ireland: A Novel." Now, I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I can't help judging books by their titles & descriptions & the general boredom & apathy I feel toward them. Should I try anyway, if the pay-out may be book-loving friends? What a novel idea!

    • Attend a Unitarian church. This is also on 101 in 1,001 List. And yes, I'm still Jewish - so Jewish, in fact, that I work for a Jewish non-profit. But my grandmother, who is also quite Jewish, attends a Unitarian church; she & her Unitarian friends call themselves the Jewnitarians. If my family matriarch can get away with this, so can I. There's a Unitarian church down the road from my new home, but there's no indication that anyone under the age of 50 attends it, so perhaps this isn't my best bet, either... Sigh.

    • Volunteer. Somewhere. Clearly, I've not thought this one through, but I like the idea of making friends while doing good. Now if only I could figure out how to go about it. Or where. Or doing what. Who knew making friends involved making so many gosh-darn decisions?

    There you have it, my not-all-that-comprehensive list of ways to try new things while meeting new people. Basically, it comes down to this: Much as I love him, I'm tired of only ever talking to my boyfriend. And the jerk across the hall. And the occasional WalMart employee. I took a huge leap in moving here, & now it's time to take some smaller leaps that will help make this one all the better.

    So how do you make friends when you're not sitting next to them in sociology class or one cubicle apart? I'm ready to try (more) new things. As soon as I figure out how.

      Sunday, March 6, 2011

      Paul Newman: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

      A couple months ago, I blogged about the joy & confusion I experienced while shopping in the tomato sauce aisle of my local grocery store. After reading it, my mom quite hilariously explained to me, using her own cheek-pinching visuals, what the Tomato & Basil Bombolina sauce illustration means, & she renacted it for me today via Skype, right.

      That first glorious day of pasta sauce discoveries, I didn't fully explore the joy of Paul Newman's legacy, the other half of which lies in the salad-dressing-slash-salsa aisle. (Why all condiments are not stocked in the same aisle together is beyond me. This seems to be common sense 101, but apparently 100% of grocery store managers disagree on this point.) In recent trips to the supermarket, though, I found some previously undiscovered gems that I couldn't resist reporting on here.

      For starters, as if you're surprised, the Tequila Lima Salsa version of illustrated Paul Newman is wearing a giant sombrero, as all Mexicans do. Obviously. But don't worry. Lest you think there was some all-Mexicans-drink-copious-amounts-of-tequila joke hidden in there, the Farmer's Garden Salsa version of illustrated Paul Newman is also wearing a sombrero, evening the sombrero score. This indicates either that all farmers are Mexican or that all Mexicans are farmers or a Venn Diagram representing some combination of those two options.

      I struggled with which photo to show you next, only because they other two are equal levels of awesome. Rather than just dropping an ivy crown atop the head of the Creamy Caesar version of illustrated Paul Newman, which would have been apropos but not all that shockingly creative, the good folks at Newman's Own took it a step further & actually turned their founder into a statue. Well-played, design team, & bonus points for Romanesque creativity.

      And now for my favorite. Here, Newman's Own strays from stereotypes & instead goes the Halloween costume route, confirming once & for all that the late Mr. Newman, may he rest in peace, was, indeed, the bee's knees.
       

      I can't get enough of these. Who would've thought that Cool Hand Luke himself could make me wish I liked condiments?

      Thursday, March 3, 2011

      Giving New Meaning to the Phrase "Two Left Feet"

      I don't wear heels. Like, ever. I used to, mainly because Cosmopolitan had convinced post-collegiate me that being professional meant towering & teetering - that I would somehow be taken less seriously in the office if I were wearing shoes I could walk in.

      My favorite pair of heels, though, comes from Nine West. I like them so much, in fact, that in my heel heyday, I went through a whopping four pairs of them. When I moved out of my mom's house last month, though, I decided I certainly didn't need the two pairs I was still hanging on to - but that I should probably hang onto one, in case I ever wanted to practice twisting an ankle a la Amanda Seyfried on the Vanity Fair red carpet.

      Wanting to ensure that I took only the highest quality footwear with me to New Hampshire (snort), I took the most in-tact shoe from each of the two remaining pairs, forming a sort of heel supergroup of sorts, & tossing their shabbier mates into the Goodwill bag.

      You know where this is going, don't you?

      Tuesday, March 1, 2011

      One-Upping My Mother


      Yeah, Mom, I bought you an iPod, so there. How's that for ruining a surprise? HA.

      (Also, I love you. Enjoy.)

      An Open Letter to the Barkingest Dog in the World

      To the Dog in Apartment #5,

      I couldn't even begin this letter with "dear." You are not dear; nothing about you is dear, despite the fact that you come in a deceptively cuddly, furry package. Now that I think about it, not-dear dog in apartment #5, I don't know whether I've ever even seen you. For all I know, you could be the cutest dog there ever was - or the ugliest. But for now, you remain something of a Wizard of Oz-like character, except that you cannot grant me wishes & you don't care a wink about my personal welfare, like how much I sleep or whether, when I do sleep, I hear your big, woofing canine voice in my dreams.

      I've stopped keeping track of the things that set you off: the whirring of the driers in the laundry room next door, the sound of feet scuffling as neighbors walk past, the voices of handymen, the falling of a silent piece of dust outside your door. I know dogs have super-sensitive hearing, but you must have superpowers, dog, because you can pick up on a car door slamming miles away. That, or you don't care whether there's anything bark-worthy going on & you bark just to keep busy instead of, say, to alert people to potential dangers - thereby using your dog powers for evil rather than for good.

      I confess, dog, that I have daydreamed on more than one occasion about how to best silence you. I'm afraid, though, that all of these solutions involve slipping rat poison under your door & hoping you're hungry for a powdery, mid-afternoon snack. The preferred daydream, of course, is that someone just trains you. Or moves you to a bigger apartment, or a house even, where you belong & which you deserve. I've even considered offering to walk you myself, just in case no one else has taken on the role, but this would mean, you know, walking a dog, & I don't really like dogs, all because a poodle once chased bicycle-riding, pre-pubescent me into a ditch. Sorry.

      Here's what I don't get, dog. If you want to bark at the requisite barkable things - someone knocking on your door, for example, or people being really loud in the hallway (which, I should not, never happens) - I wouldn't give you any much flack about it. After all, you're a dog. You're supposed to bark; it's your God-given right & duty.

      But here's the thing: You are the dog who cried wolf. Someday, God forbid, if there's ever a real problem - your owner has been dead inside the apartment for days, your kitchen is on fire, a burglar has hazarded to break into our little apartment complex - no one is going to believe you. I'm They're going to say, "There's that damn dog, barking again. Must be a Tuesday." And then your owner will continue to rot or your kitchen will continue to burn or the burglar will continue to burgle.

      So you see, dog, you're really putting us all in danger with your constant, maddening, unrelenting, incessant - get the picture? - barking. Your credibility is totally shot.



      *Blogger's Note: I want to make clear that I would never, never, never harm an animal & am mostly just angry with this dog's owners for not taking proper care of him. And I may indeed consider speaking with the owners if it keeps up. For now, though, I hope you'll appreciate the frustration expressed in my open letter & not take me for an animal hater or abuser!
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