Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Putting the "Oh, Hey!" in Ohio

Because I am sometimes wander-y & inefficient, one Macy's trip resulted in my making purchases at three separate Macy's counters. Because I was sans Macy's card, I asked all three employees who helped me to look up my account number, which required me to hand them my driver's license - which is still an Ohio license, though I'm told I have to get a New Hampshire license within 60 days of registering my car here, which is another story altogether & one that makes me very angry...

ANYWAY, I digress. Upon receipt of my driver's license, all three Macy's employes commented on my Ohioness. It went something like this:

  • Employee #1 marveled at seeing an Ohio driver's license, telling me I was her first. Yes, Ohio is the far, far away land that you only hear about in movies when a character moves across the country, never to be heard from again. I'm practically a unicorn!

  • Employee #2 asked me what the abbreviation is for Ohio. Lady, the state name only has four letters in it, & two of them are O's. Clearly she's not familiar with the old Buckeye State cheer that begins, "O-H!" Someone finish it off for me, willya?

  • Employee #3 was my favorite."Is your hometown near Brunswick?" she asked me. "My oldest daughter lives in Brunswick, & it's beautiful up there, just beautiful. I love that area!" (It's true, apparently! See beautiful Brunswick, to the right. Who knew?) The best part came next: "Everyone I've ever met from Ohio has just been the absolute nicest. There must be something in the water there! People across the whole state are so nice. I've heard that New Englanders are cold - sometimes I think about the people in Ohio, & I try to be more like them."

Hear that, guys? I AM THE ABSOLUTE NICEST. Also, I'll tell you what's in our water, ma'am. Oil & debris:

Oh, hey, I know that river. That's where I'm from! Gulp, gulp.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    "There is a land called Passive Aggressiva & I am their queen."

    I've had some awesome apartment living experiences in the past, & by "awesome" I mean "the opposite of awesome." The most notable incident that comes to mind is the time I asked my neighbors to stop having such appallingly loud sex, & there's also that damn dog down the hall, which, I should note, has begun barking much less frequently following our complaint to the landlords.

    But as my friend Sarah noted,


    Oh, indeed. After waiting patiently as neighbors did their laundry - even getting shut out a few times when I didn't make it to the laundry room in the small window of time before someone else beat me to it - I filled both washers with dirties. When I returned to the laundry room at the end of the cycle, I discovered that the dryers still had 10 minutes left on someone else's cycle. But another neighbor, too impatient to wait the 1/6 of an hour for me to move my clothes into an available dryer, did this:


    In my humble & neighborly opinion, this is one of the crummiest things a fellow apartment-dweller could do. Whatever happened to "Love thy neighbor"? Or even "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor his washing machine, nor anything that is your neighbor's"?

    In his or her haste to launder, this person clearly failed to realize that (s)he was still going to have to wait for me to dry my clothes, so I put a little Post-It note on my the washer as a reminder:


    ZOOM:

    Except then I chickened out & took it off. I mean, what if I accidentally bumped into this individual during the course of my laundering? I'm notoriously awful with face-to-face confrontations (for proof, please refer back to the first link in this post). So instead, I plotted a more subtle revenge: I doubled my drying time from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

    Shortly after this silent exchange, I lost my brand new laundry card, perhaps as a karmic reminder that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, or some shiz. All I know is that there are 21 minutes left on my dry cycle, & my neighbor's clothes are still marinating in their own dampness. So it seems like I win.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Live Free or Die (And Other New England Oddities)

    I've been keeping a running mental list that I thought it was time to put to paper blog. I like to call it "Reasons Why New England is Really Freaking Weird."
    1. When you order from a Starbucks, the barista asks if it's "for here or to take away." This seriously happens at nearly all coffee shops, as far as I can tell, & it isn't limited to one or two employees. I'd like to note that "to go" is a full two syllables shorter. And also way more normal.

    2. Billboards are illegal in Maine. Don't get me wrong, I'm no slave to the advertiser, but... dude, illegal? Not just... regulated, or something? It seems Maine is quite insistent on reminding you that they really are stuck in times past.

    3. New Hampshire's state motto is "Live free or die." While I'm told this is an abbreviated version of Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death," I find it to also be the tackier, more hillbilly version, perhaps because the license plates that bear it are so often attached to cars bearing gun racks & Truck Nuts.

    4. The accents, you guys. OH, GOD, THE ACCENTS. I know I've said it before, but I have a new observation: It seems particularly cruel/questionable that the MBTA named its quick-fare card the CharlieCard, as both of these words exemplify the best/worst (depending on your perspective) of Boston-area accents. Say it out loud. Yeah, I told you so.

    5. I live down the road from a place called Carl's Meat Market. And really, I think this point stands alone.

    6. The art of taxidermy is alive & well here. I swear a full post is coming on the bizarre glory that is the Kittery Trading Post, but for now, this picture should give you a feel for what that post will entail:


    7. My Congressional Representative sucks. I was so happy living in BettySuttonLand, a bastion of longtime allegiance to the Democratic party. I could count on the reliably progressive Rep. Sutton to regularly vote in alignment with my decidedly liberal views. But now? Now I get Rep. Frank Guinta, a virulent anti-choicer who supports extending Bush-era tax cuts & the U.S. pulling out on the United Nations. Oh, hey, crazy.

    8. Everyone is a terrible driver. Yes, everyone. But no, not me. Like today: I drove past a parked car whose driver decided to pull out right then but lay on the horn at me for having the audacity to, like, be driving. And then she followed me & gave me the finger for a good 15 seconds. I repeat: Oh, hey, crazy.
    I wanted to come up with 10, but these eight feel pretty solid. Plus, I plan to do a "Things That Don't Necessarily Suck About New England" post sometime in the near future, too, & God knows I won't be able to come up with 10 for that one, so I'll keep it fair & balanced. I am the Fox News of blogging, I know.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Rethinking My Taste for Japanese Food, One Shocking Dish at a Time

    The night before Nathan got underway, we went out for a pre-deployment feast. "Let's go all out!" I declared. "Let's try new things!" We've fallen into a routine, always ordering the same four or five things, so we decided to get a little bit culinarily adventurous. Here is where I should note two things about our ordering decisions:
    1. We usually order veggie tempura, but I've gotten a bit New Englandy & discovered a like (I wouldn't call it a love yet) of crab & lobster, so I suggested we go with the soft-shell crab tempura this time. He agreed.

    2. Nathan became excited about the idea of knocking something off of his 101 in 1,001 List (see mine here), which was "Eat an animal I've never tried before." Because I told him trout didn't count, he went with sea urchin sushi. When the waiter asked if he'd like egg atop it, he expected tamago, a sweet egg made with suga - so he said yes.
    When our appetizer showed up, it looked like this:

    Yeah, that's not what I had in mind. While I blubbered on & on about OH MY GOD, THAT IS AN ENTIRE DEEP-FRIED CRAB all while doing my best not to make A Huge Scene (capital letters required because this was a feat), Nathan bravely ripped off & ingested a leg. And then another. He eventually convinced me to - very hesitantly - do the same, though I neither of us could bring ourselves to eat very much of it, & we were so, so relieved when the busboy finally whisked it away.

    Except then our meal came:

    Yes, ABOMINATION. That's the sea urchin nigiri with raw quail eggs atop it - because sea urchin alone wasn't bad enough. Remember the time Nathan drank a Longshoreman? Yeah, it's sort of like he has a salmonella death wish. Hey, did you want a close-up of that sushi disaster? I thought you might:

     

    I'll wait while you struggle to keep your last meal down. And in case you were wondering whether this little gem of a dish went down smoothly (uh, the answer is obviously that it didn't), I caught it on tape for you...
    video

    ...except that I felt so bad for him that I turned the camera off after only a few seconds. And he dry heaved half of the way home.

    Yes, it seems I got a little too big for my britches when I bragged in this post that I'd dramatically expanded my palate. Perhaps I'll stick to good old grilled cheese for a bit while I recover from this one.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Kate & the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week

    I'm having a bad week. Like, really, it's just not a good one. My recent tweets are testament to this:

     

    and 


     Oh, & this one, which I particularly like:


    Yes, I seem to be suffering from an ongoing case of the Mondays that began on Saturday. And while I recognize that this is not the kind of thing people want to read about in their social networks, I think it's pretty forgivable, on the whole. And pretty human. No one can be sunshine & unicorns all the time; hell, I'm not sunshine & unicorns half the time. But it's not like I'm a perma-moper, either. No, seriously, I'm not a perma-moper.

    Wait, am I?! Oh, God, I might be a perma-moper.

    Today, I was really caught off guard when a friend (I'm using that term loosely, as Socialmedialand is a fickle, fickle place) implied that she is no longer interested in associating with me because she wants to surround herself with positivity - and apparently, I no longer fit the bill.

    I confess to being particularly prickly about friends changing their minds about me. More than once, I've found myself looking around with eyes wide & mouth open in confusion, wondering when the people I liked stopped liking me back. For a long, long time, I was convinced that my friends did not actually like me - & more than once, I was proven correct. I've yet to shake this insecurity, that the people who claim to care about me will soon change their minds & run screaming in the other direction without ever telling me why.

    In this realm, blogging has done weird things for me. I've made friends, absolutely. I text with some of them, I meet them for dinner or coffee when we're in the same cities, & I have their home addresses when I want to send them Christmas cards or "Congrats on your engagement!" cards. They're quick to hone in on both the bad & the good, to offer sympathy or support or sarcasm, whichever is most situationally appropriate. But I see other bloggers becoming real-life besties with the people they've met through blogging, & I'm just baffled. I value my online community very, very much, but for the most part, they're just that - an online community. My online friendships have not translated into much more than online friendships.

    But online or off, that's not why I started this blog. I started it because I love to write, love to talk, love to tell stories & turn the mundane into the magical. I began this blog as a fun creative outlet, not as a personal journal or a networking tool. I did not start blogging because I needed or wanted more friends. But still, I find myself a little bit jealous of the cohorts of blogger BFFs I see emerging from the depths of Socialmedialand, while I reside on some outer island, relevant but not requisite.

    Am I doing something wrong? Am I defective? Am I too negative, too mopey? Does it matter? I have plenty of friends, both online & off, & a blog I love, regardless of whether it results in friendships. Shouldn't that be enough? And when the hell will this week be over?

    Now I'm just whining. That, too, is specifically not the point of this blog. Damn it.

    Back to your regularly scheduled program soon. I hope.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Potty Humor. No, REALLY.

    A few weeks ago, Nathan & I were driving through Maine looking for a store called the Kittery Trading Post, which I promise to cover in another post. Along the way, I complained that I had to use the facilities (I have a bladder the size of a small child's on a road trip). As we wandered through podunk Kittery, I shouted for Nathan to stop the car. For this.

    video

    In case you're not inclined to watch this very short video of me panning through someone's snowy yard, I took a still photo for you.


    Someone has pointed out to me that in the summer, these lawn ornaments might serve as planters. But that doesn't change the fact that they are toilets.

    This gives a whole new meaning to the word "flowerpots." Get it? Pots? Oh, crap, I'm funny.

    Get it? CRAP?

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    The World Spins Madly On

    I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head for funny posts: the, uh, alternative picket fence I drove past in weirder-than-weird Maine (you'll love it); the "trading post" a few towns over with more taxidermied animals than you've ever seen in your whole life, combined; the time I accidentally ordered - & ate - a whole, deep-fried crab... Yes, there are lots of things to say, but today, I'm not feeling funny.

    Nathan deployed yesterday. He never calls it "deployment," but it's the easiest word for me to use, because others understand it. In the Coast Guard, they call it "getting underway," & it means he's on a boat for the next two months, floating down the Atlantic & toward South America, where he'll help intercept drug boats.

    I was a military girlfriend once before, in college. My boyfriend at the time, Scott, was in the army, & he left college after our freshman year to be full-time military. I wrote him a letter every day he was gone, & I attended his boot camp graduation in South Carolina with his family, swelling with pride & feeling somewhat smug that my boyfriend was a defender of freedom. When you're 19, these things feel very cool, I guess.

    Nathan's job is cool - but now that I'm a real, bona fide adult (EEK!), his job feels a lot less like a novelty & a lot more, well, real. I'm relieved that he never deploys to Afghanistan or Iraq, like some of my friends & my friends' significant others. He's never gone for longer than two months, & he's never in the line of fire, per se, though the idea of pissing off Colombian drug lords makes me a liiiiittle nervous. He looks hot in uniform, & most importantly, he really loves his job. He's takes college classes while he's underway, which he likes, too, & he's trying to get his degree despite the fact that he'll likely reenlist when his initial six years are up next spring.

    Don't get me wrong: There's still a great amount of pride - he is a defender of freedom, after all. But it's difficult. It's difficult to date someone who's gone every two months for two months; it makes it nearly impossible to establish any sort of a reliable routine. It means that when he's here, we spend as much time as possible together - and when he's gone, we spend none at all together. All or nothing, every two months, from one extreme to the other.

    And this time, its even more difficult than before. I live in New Hampshire now, in his apartment. I left everything I knew - and everyone I knew - to move to the city where he's stationed, in a part of the country I'd never even visited, much less lived in. In the last two months, we put together a life here, a life that includes our new cat & geocaching & many a dinner at Sake, my new favorite Japanese restaurant. We decorated our place & bought a Keurig & watched an entire season of "Top Chef."

    And now he's gone. It's just me & the cat, who pooped on the couch today in protest of Nathan's absence, I suspect. I drove him to the base at 8:30 yesterday morning, donning my Coast Guard sweatshirt (see photo), & then I returned home & shopped my melancholy away at the local outlet mall. Today, I woke up sort of confused - what do I do now? I miss him. And I miss the company, too, in a related but separate sort of way. I haven't made enough effort to meet people here - I've made no effort at all, in fact - and as a result, I don't know a soul in town, save maybe the sort-of-douchey guy across the hall who plays his guitar all the livelong day. If I wanted to go grab dinner with a friend, I would have no one to call. If something were to happen to me, I would have no one to call. In fact, I could be dead on the living room floor with my cat picking at my innards & no one would ever know.

    Today, I'm sitting at a Starbucks downtown, facing the window & watching everyone else's lives. A car that drives by leaves a trail of bubbles in its wake. A group of high school girls giggles & points at a group of older boys on the opposite corner. A woman walking a bear-sized dog (no, really - see photo) can hardly get down the block without being mobbed by curious & adoring animal-lovers. And me? I've spoken to three people today - two baristas & the woman sitting next to me, who I asked to keep an eye on my things while I made a phone call.

    I miss my boyfriend. But perhaps just as importantly, I miss my friends. And I miss my old lives. I don't want them back, necessarily, but I'd like to be able to recreate aspects of them here - for example, the part where I have friends. The part where I don't devolve into a lonely, devastated cat lady when my boyfriend leaves town. The part where I don't have to drive an hour into Boston & pay $12 to park my car just for to have a meaningful interaction with a friend.

    Maybe it would help if I got off my arse & out of this Starbucks...?

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    I Bought WHAT?

    Something I do very rarely is clean out my wallet. I save receipts like technology doesn't exist, & then I never do a damn thing with them. Case in point is the receipt below, which I recently discovered lurking in the dusty corners of my wallet:

    Wait, let's take a closer look. SAY WHAT?

    Things I could've purchased that would've shown up on a receipt with this heading include:
    • A disco ball
    • A KC & the Sunshine Band album
    • Some sort of '80s or Beyonce-themed workout tape
    Do you know which of these things I bought at the Hudson News in Penn Station? If you guessed "none of the above," you're correct. Unfortunately, I can come up with no thoughts on what I actually purchased.

    But that's not all! Let's take an even closer look:

    Yeah, now I'm really confused. Based on this, it seems I purchased a few old women - and what a deal I got on them! How I managed to fit them in my small, roll-on suitcase, I cannot say. But elderly ladies are usually small & hunched, right? So I bet it wasn't too tough for them. The only question is, where are they now?! I seem to have misplaced my four elderly ladies....

    And just for good measure, a bonus buy:

    It seems I was imbibing, too! Maybe that's why I can't remember what I bought...

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    I'm No Superman

    This is the true story of how I became a Harry Potter villain.

    A couple weeks ago, I purchased a hefty Groupon for Send the Trend, "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano's online boutique for "personalized fashion accessories." Basically, you fill out a quiz about your style preferences, & Send the Trend curates a gallery of accessories available for purchase that are supposed to be up your alley. Needless to say, none of the accessories Send the Trend chose for me were things I wanted to wear. But, overeager as I sometimes am, that Groupon was burning a hole in my pocket! I figured out how to search for products that weren't recommended for me, & I ended up choosing two really cool pieces...
        

    ...and a cape:

    Yeah. Riddle me this: Why did I think a cape would be a good idea? Alas, I cannot say. I was excited for it, even. When it arrived this afternoon, I tore open the package with glee & discovered... a glorified Snuggie. With a toggle clasp & a hood & no armholes. I mean, it's just as advertised - a legitimate, bona fide, superhero-style cape - but because I'm not a lovely, leggy model, it doesn't exaaaactly look on me like it does in the site photo. Yes, I know: Duh.

    Because I truly have have no idea how to wear a cape, I mostly did this with it:


    But I think Nathan really got it right when he asked me: "So, what time are you meeting up with the other Death Eaters?"

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Grown Men in Great Garb

    Remember how much I love brunch? Since giving the District the old heave-ho, my life has been severely lacking in sufficiently delicious brunching. Luckily, there's a reasonable facsimile just down the road. The Golden Egg is the epitome of a local joint - we've only been there twice, & both times, we saw approximately 50% of the same people.

    How do I know that? Because some of the customers are characters. And you know what I like to do with characters: PHOTOGRAPH THEM WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE. This guy, in particular, stands out, perhaps because he's a middle-aged man wearing a bright yellow, crocheted hat with cat ears. That's right, a grown man in a cat hat. Ain't no shame.
     

    There's also the guy dressed in full Scottish gear, his wife in matching tartan duds. I wish this photo more clearly captured the glory of this guy's wardrobe, but alas, Nathan is not as adept at surreptitious photography as is yours truly. Hey, he tried.

    The best part of the afternoon was overhearing the Scottishman's wife poking fun at the guy in the cat hat. Honey, your husband is wearing a skirt. I think there's some sort of code binding you to unconditional acceptance of others' clothing choices when you're out in public with him.

    And speaking of cats...

    I suspect that the Wolf Lady would approve.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    The Kid's Still Got It

    Alone on the NYC subway? Sorrrrt of creepy.
    Six months & a handful of days ago, I packed my bags, loaded up an abductor van U-Haul & moved out of DC, which had been my home for three excellent years. In the past six months, I:
    • Moved in with my mom in Ohio
    • Freelanced for a hometown news outlet
    • Moved in with my boyfriend in New Hampshire,
    • Got a job that entails working from my living room

    All of these podunk-sounding life changes, combined with the fact that I own a cat & have begun geocaching in the woods, might lead one - one like you, let's say - to question whether I've lost my city smarts in favor of becoming a country mouse.

    The answer to that question is no, I haven't, & now I've got proof.

    I spent the last week in New York City, & I'm proud to announce that, as the title of this post suggests, there's no groove to get back. It was never lost, just temporarily shelved.

    While in New York this time around, I did a number of things I'm proud of. I:
    • Spent an evening in Harlem, which I accessed via subway & not cab - brave!
    • Slept in a hostel situated on a street corner rife with verbal disagreements that included lines like, "I AIN'T GONNA GET ARRESTED FOR THIS SHIT!"
    • Successfully navigated the subway from my friend's apartment on the Upper West Side to my office near Grand Central
    • Took a crosstown city bus from one friend's apartment to another, luggage in tow, then transferred to a nearby subway station
    • Only got stuck in the turnstiles with my luggage once, as opposed to the four times I got stuck on my last visit

      BONUS: In case you're wondering how can a suburbanite like myself makes her way in the big city, I come bearing guidance!
      • Don't hesitate. Look like you know what you're doing, even if you're not sure you so. If you walk a block in the wrong direction, you will live. Just turn around & fix your mistake. But if you look around nervously before you make turns, you will inevitably get flustered. And also annoy people.

      • If you must hesitate, do it elsewhere. It's OK to not know what you're doing or to get turned around. As a master of getting lost, I'm constantly struggling to read Google Maps, pull up my subway app, figure out what the eff I'm doing, etc. But when I need to take a breather & reorient, I step to the side or duck into a corner, someplace where I'm not going to act as a roadblock to every busy, bustling New Yorker trying to go about his daily business. In other words, move over.

      • Look kind of angry. Angry people do not bite their lower lip in confusion. Angry people do not look doe-eyed at strangers hoping they'll stop & offer up directions unprovoked. Angry people do not get distracted by architecture or the height of the Chrysler Building. Walk with purpose, & even New Yorkers will believe that you're a New Yorker. Or... at least not a proud suburbanite with a crippling fear of public transportation.

      • Act kind of nice. Asking for directions is totally allowed, as long as you choose the right person to ask. Go for someone who looks A) trustworthy, B) knowledgeable, and C) not in a hurry. Nearly everyone who fits these criteria will be happy to point you in the right direction. Literally.
      Also? Keep your eyes open. There is much to be seen:

        Sunday, April 3, 2011

        Caching In On the Great Outdoors

        On my list of Things I Really Want to Do Because I Don't Have Any Hobbies & I Think I Should (this list exists solely in my mind) is geocaching, an activity that combines two of my least favorite things: directions & the wilderness. I have distressingly terrible directional capabilities, & as a result, I am always, always lost, forever wearing down the battery on my phone because I require the use of my map app so much.

        Still, I like scavenger hunts, & geocaching is basically a GPS-assisted scavenger hunt with strangers. So today, with the weather practically tropical at a balmy 50 degrees, Nathan & I set out geocaching near our apartment. We downloaded a handy app called Geocaching.com Intro, which looks like a distant relative of Geocities (may it rest in peace) & provides a vague visual guide to finding nearby caches. After eating a hearty brunch & choosing a little totem to leave behind once we found the cache, we began our adventure.

        (A note: I thought about touching up these photos a bit, maybe hipsterizing them with one of the many popular iPhone apps that makes everyday pictures look trendy & artsy & like I'm a real photographer. Instead, I chose to keep them as they are - I think they're pretty impressive alone.)

        This is where we started:

        And this is where we wandered:

        And this is how excited we were about it:
        (This is where Nathan would like me to point out that he doesn't have a weird trash-'stache; it's just an unfortunate trick of light.)

        And then we kept wandering...

        ...and wandering.

        We knew we were close when the app blinked & told us, "YOU'RE CLOSE!" because we're smart like that. Don't I look excited? And not at all cold? I told you it was tropical out today!

        And finally, after just .28 miles, THERE IT WAS, hidden between two big rocks, weathering the elements & just waiting to be found!

        Naturally, Nathan claimed victory...

        ...& dove in to retrieve the hidden treasure.

        We started digging through the sundry items left behind by the geocachers who came before us.

        I confess to being slightly disappointed that the booty wasn't cooler (TWSS?). It mostly consisted of the kind of plastic crap you get from quarter machines outside grocery stores - a bendable alien, a baseball beanbag, a kazoo.

        We debated what to leave behind & decided upon a small plastic penguin, in keeping with the rest of the cache's treasures. Perhaps we'll save the Coast Guard coin for something a bit fancier.

        The log book was nearly full, listing all the folks who'd adventured there in the past. Including... someone else who was there today? We were more than a little bit weirded out to realize that the cache had only been found a few times in the past year - and that one of them stopped by hours before we got to it.

        And finally, we left our mark. Can you read it? It says, "4/3/11, Nate & Kate - our first cache!"

        And then we packaged it up, stuck it back in the crevice, & headed along our merry way.

        Did I mention it's pretty beautiful here?


        And then we went shopping & saw the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie, which is a little bit like "Panic Room" meets "Groundhog Day" without the violence or the humor. So, you know, not everything I did today was terribly out of character.
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