Thursday, July 27, 2006

How You Say...?

I had one of those “am I speaking a different language?” moments this week when I went to pick up my guitar from the music store after some repairs. I gave my name to the guy at the counter, who seemed to recognize it, which I admit was slightly eerie, and he laid my guitar on the counter, saying, “You’re all set.”

RA: (internally) I know I didn’t pay for this yet. Maybe he didn’t do a good job. I’d better check. (out loud, after checking) Well, it looks good to me. What do I owe you?
Guy: Nothing, you’re all set.
RA: When I brought this in, I wasn’t charged for anything, and I assumed that I would just pay when I picked it up.
Guy: Nope, you’re all set. No charge.
RA: Um, I’m pretty sure that I should be charged for this. I haven’t paid for anything yet.
Guy: You’re…all…set…

And so I left, guitar in hand, bewildered and baffled. What in the world just happened back there? Isn't it customary in this country to pay for repairs and/or materials? How did I not have to pay after I practically begged the guy to charge me?

The strangest part was the whole wink-wink-nudge-nudge aspect. Whatever was going on, I so did not get the code. Maybe to this guitar guy, I was saying, “You’re really hot,” or “I’ll come back with baked goods,” and he decided to let me go without charging me the forty bucks. For all I know, I uttered the secret code to sign on for some mob operation, and I’ll miss out on the job we’re pulling this weekend. I hope that’s not the case. Even when I think about it in hindsight, it is just plain weird. I have no idea what happened.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Afternoon Craving

It’s about that time in the afternoon when I get restlessly hungry. I can’t focus well on whatever spreadsheet or presentation is currently at hand, and I keep watching the clock to see if I can go home to dinner yet. My stomach growls and I wander into the office kitchen to see if anything has magically added to the supply of Wheat Thins, tootsie rolls, or pretzel stubs. Or whatever they’re called. No, nothing new! I’ve already had a handful and a half of Wheat Thins, and the rest doesn’t appeal to me. So far today, I’ve had some grapes, watermelon, and salad… How herbivore of me. Not that I want meat… No, I want carbs, glorious carbs! And not in the form of some dried-out pretzel/cheese ball variety! I want mac and cheese or a Cup of Noodles, carryovers from my hot pot-inspired diet of college days. Comfort to me is a Styrofoam cup of tangled-up yellow noodles (chicken flavored, please), with the gratuitous sprinkling of mixed, dehydrated veggies. I’m all about a balanced diet.

But I know that the drugstore down the way doesn’t even carry Cup of Noodles. It was a sad day when I made that realization on just such an afternoon. I'd have to get Easy Mac, another college revelation that was advertised toward 8-year-olds, but is actually most applicable for students, especially in its new handy packs. If I had had this in college, the number orange-encrusted dollar store bowls on top of my microwave would have greatly decreased.

Did I mention that my mom is the Queen of Making Things from Scratch? We absolutely never had mac and cheese out of a box, and I didn’t even know what Bisquick was until college. Forget about bottled pasta sauce, without which my baked ziti habit could not be fulfilled. I’ve quietly slunk over to the dark side. She would be mortified at my now-dependence on pre-packaged pasta-type products, but I can still make a mean pumpkin cheesecake from scratch. Doesn’t that count for something?

Mm, cheesecake.

That’s it. I have to go get a snack.

Sorry, Mom.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Quick Facts about RA

  • I work at a small consulting firm that lends itself to my quirks, like my affinity for making lists and Excel spreadsheets.
  • I am a proud Fightin’ Blue Hen and I love that we live only 20 minutes from campus.
  • There is a 15-inch height difference between JG and me, and yes, he is the tall one.
  • I am always reading and I enjoy any new book recommendations.
  • I’m kind of a geek, especially when it comes to punctuation and the periodic table.
  • I am startled easily.
  • I love candy, with the exception of chocolate, and I know that’s strange when I’m not even allergic. If it’s there, I’ll eat it, but I could really go to town with a bag of something red, like Twizzlers or Swedish fish.
  • In my spare time, and when I'm not reading, I work on this blog, knit scarves because they’re all I know how to make, watch more TV than is probably necessary, and try to learn how to play the guitar.

  • I appreciate comments very much and I try my best to respond via email.
  • I can be contacted at definitelyra[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blinking Myself Awake

I watched the neon green numbers of my giant digital clock progress slowly and steadily, with each change confirming that yes, I was going to be tired in the morning. I watched the dot that designates PM hours disappear, and then started the ever-depressing calculations of how much sleep I would get. It's not so bad, I'd mutter, I can still get 5 hours and 45 minutes... or 5 hours...

And so it went. I basked in the eerie glow of my clock, chosen for its 4-inch numbers - visible from a small distance when I am without my contacts and therefore, as blind as a bat - and its irresistible, foghorn-like blast of an alarm. A conveyor belt of a to-do list cycled through my head, despite the fact that I had no way of chipping away at it. "E-mail Amy," it hummed, "Call about the guitar ... Call Dad to wish him a happy birthday - " Oh, crap! I forgot to call my dad! I rummaged on my crowded nightstand for a pen to scrawl Call Dad on my palm with thoughts of being The Bad Daughter flitting across the to-do list. Better late than never, right? Like sleep?

Come morning, after I somehow exhausted myself to sleep and had stressful dreams involving being late for flights and not wearing the right shoes for running, I woke up to the insistent blare of my alarm. I managed to rise eventually, but I did not shine.

I need a nap.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


We had a little get-together this past weekend, partially because we hadn't seen our camp friends in a while, but mostly because JG would get a chance to fire up the new toy. We made a list of all the stuff we had to do in preparation, like clean off lawn furniture, buy meat, set out towels for overnighters, make pasta salad, and get beverages. That last one really had me stumped.

Together, JG and I make up a terrible gauge of what people drink. I happen to be married to He Who Drinks Only Water (And the Occasional Beer), while I am a largeish hummingbird in the amount of sugary liquid I consume. I do love me some root beer. But what to buy for our more normal friends? And then, what if we don't finish everything? Who wants to be stuck with 2/3 of a case of orange soda? Not this girl.

We ended up with beer for the boys, Smirnoff for the girls, soda for the others, and water for the virtuous. There was nothing that JG or I wouldn't drink on our own, so I thought we'd be fine if there were leftovers. I'm always in the camp that overpacks "just in case," so the visually startling quantities were okay with me. After all, I thought, people will drink it, so it's no big deal.

Cut to after the party.

Our once-cavernous fridge has been taken over by leftover drinks. I swear they multiplied in there. As it turns out, we purchased enough of each beverage to account for the highly improbable occasion that everyone would want the same thing at the same time for the entirety of his or her stay. Which totally didn't happen. I estimate that 1-3 of each item was consumed, leaving behind the vast majority. To make things worse, JG decided that my college mini-fridge was using up too much extra energy cooling off the sodas, and all of those were packed in, too. I'm pretty sure that we have no room for any solid food in our fridge now, unless you include condiments in that category.

The plan now is to have more people come to our house so that we can make a dent in the aluminum and glass fortress that used to be a regular fridge. So far, we've lined up two people tomorrow and three more on the next night, but I'm not sure that only five people will help that much... Maybe they can give us a clue as to how to estimate this kind of thing more accurately. At least I'm not stuck with orange soda, right?

Thursday, July 13, 2006


That’s what I’ve been lately. Unfortunately, I am not a delicious seafood patty for which the mid-Atlantic region prides itself – I’ve just been all-around grumpy. I use the crabcake label to make it sound cuter and more attractive, like I’m not a borderline jerk for no apparent reason.

I realized that I was irate last night. JG mentioned ice makers in refrigerators, and because it was SO not my idea of fun to discuss the pros and cons of appliances, I snapped, “I don’t really want to talk about this right now, so why don’t we just figure it out when we actually need to buy a fridge.” It’s phrased like a question, but I wasn’t exactly asking, and I tend to have a certain, uh, edge when I get like this. Needless to say, that shut JG up pretty quickly, and I felt like a jerk for the rest of the night. And also a raving lunatic. Who else flips out over an ice maker?

When I woke up this morning, I was still slightly nettled at nothing in particular, and I thought that maybe doing yoga might calm me down and knock me out of this funk. I do yoga because I really like stretching, and while the New Age-yness isn’t exactly for me, I usually get something out of it and end up feeling relatively relaxed and ready for the day. I went through my usual 40-minute routine, only to find that I was rusty from being on vacation, and that left me supremely annoyed by all of the meditation talk. I kept wanted to shout at the partially bald but still long-haired instructor, “Will you just shut up about your stupid inner power?! I just want to be TONED!” ... Yeah, there's that raving thing again.

Upon arriving at the office, my calendar dictated that I would get almost nothing done, because I had a total of five meetings scheduled, plus a working lunch. Getting very little accomplished is kind of inconvenient when you have at least five hours of actual work that has to get done in the day, and even more so when not one single appointment started or ended on time or even stayed remotely on task. So after this marathon of meetings, during which I kept thinking about the things I had to do (“Crap, I have to do that!” was the catchphrase of the day), I finally settled down to crank through a whole lot of work that turned out to be suitable for a trained monkey, which was, of course, yours truly. You know it’s been a long day when you affix sticky notes to your monitor and phone so that you can’t see how late you are staying at the office. I even considered leaving and finishing up at home, but I couldn’t bear to pack up my computer, run an errand that involved driving on one of the busiest roads in the area, get home, eat dinner, and still have a couple of hours of work to do. No! I was powering through!

When the work was finally done and I had schlepped my guitar to the music store, I was on my way home at last, a mere 12 hours after I first got to work. Ugh. Along the way, I was lucky to encounter drivers with either excessively bright headlights or the need to take their half of the road out of the middle, and that was FABULOUS.

But there were some of my actual favorite things, too. The roads were gloriously empty, and the woods smelled like pine and grass all mixed up, with flashes of fireflies scattered around. I followed the twilight home, and best of all, as I reached the top of the hill in our neighborhood, I saw a gorgeous hot pink cloud, tinted from what must have been a sweet sunset. By the time I pulled into the driveway, I was basically back to normal, and maybe even happy. To top it all off, JG had turkey sausage ready for dinner, and a cold root beer for me in the (non-ice-making) fridge. I was a crabcake no longer, and I was actually fun to be around tonight.

Thank goodness for a great sunset, a fast drive home, and good company. The fact that tomorrow is Friday doesn’t hurt, either.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Vacation: The Numbers

So! JG and I are back from our vacation in Ocean City, NJ, more tan than when we left, and definitely rested. I am so glad to be home again, but it was great to have a real break from work and normal life.

Here’s the round-up of my beach experience:
  • People staying in our house, maximum: 20
  • People staying in our house, minimum: 15
  • Books read: 4
    - Sense and Sensibility (okay, I was already reading this, but I finished it), The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, and The Joy Luck Club
  • Games played: 7
    - Apples to Apples, Dutch Blitz, Sorry!, Outburst, Blackjack, Guesstures, and Dance Dance Revolution
  • Trips to the boardwalk taken: 2
  • Slices of Mack & Manco’s pizza eaten: 4 (in two sittings, don't worry)
  • Holes-in-one made in mini-golf: 6!!!
    - This is an all-time, never-before, unheard-of record for me. I can’t even remember the last time I played mini-golf, much less got a hole-in-one. Plus, our team won overall, in a field of four teams. I can't believe that I helped a team win at something! Involving a ball! I can never play again – quit while you’re ahead, right?
  • Shells collected along the shoreline: 67
  • Souvenirs bought: 8, I think
    - Salt-water taffy for my office, a big red bucket for collecting shells, a beach hat that made me look senior citizen-like, a beach chair with optional canopy that added to the senior citizen impression, pretty shells that I couldn’t find on the beach, postcards, an Ocean City t-shirt, and cotton candy (but I ate it – does it count as a souvenir?)
  • Occasions actually spent in the ocean: 1
  • Sunrises watched: 0
    - Okay, we all knew how unrealistic that one was, especially since one of my major objectives for this week was to wake up sans alarm clock everyday.
  • Pictures taken on our camera: 293
  • Pictures taken of me: 17

All in all, I’m glad I went, and I am definitely rested up. I was able to try and experience a lot of new things, some of which I wouldn’t mind doing again (rocking the house in mini-golf) and others that I will do my best to never to repeat (going into ocean water that is higher than my knees). Best of all, this experience was a new window into JG’s childhood, and I really enjoyed watching him reclaim a part of it in an environment where I’d never seen him. My favorite pictures are of him running full-force into the ocean, washing up on the shore after bodysurfing, and going all-out in a game of four-square. Maybe that’s why I stayed behind the camera so much; I just liked observing. Who knows – maybe next time, there will be a lot more pictures of me. For now, I’m content to archive my hundreds of photos into albums, figure out which ones make the cut for framing, and recall the salty smell of my first beach vacation.