Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Frantic Wednesday

Recently, I was placed on a project that involves developing internal software. I was identified as the best person to be the Requirements Expert (doesn’t that sound smart?) and I was told that I would need to fly out to San Francisco to spend some time with the guy who is doing the actual developing. So, here is my itinerary for the next few days:


  • 11:15am: get picked up to go the airport
  • 2:30pm: flight takes off (hopefully)
  • 5:30pm (Pacific time): flight lands
  • 7pm: I call a co-worker to meet for dinner


  • 8am: arrive at the office so the tech guys can fix my computer
  • 9am: get locked in a windowless room called the Bat Cave – seriously – with my development buddy
  • 12pm: get released for lunch
  • 1pm: back to the grindstone
  • 5pm: out for happy hour (amen!) and dinner


  • 9am-5pm: repeat Thursday’s schedule
  • 5pm: coerce some co-workers to spend their Friday evening with me
  • 10pm: take off on a red-eye flight back to the east coast


  • 6am (Eastern time): flight lands in Philadelphia
  • 7am: arrive back home, most likely an attractive combination of disheveled and disgruntled
  • 7:02am: fall into bed for a couple of hours of non-plane sleep

Doesn’t that sound great?!

As of this morning, I hadn’t packed at all, unless you count a chicken-scratch list on the refrigerator white board, so if you had had the misfortune of being at my house this morning, you would have seen me running around and muttering things like:

Don’t forget the phone charger! And those materials that consultant asked me to bring along! Wait, what’s the weather like in San Francisco? Do I need a heavy coat? What time is my ride coming? Oh, no, I forgot to run those reports from Monday! Can I finish twelve of them before 11? Will I have internet access at the airport? How many pairs of shoes do I need?

I’m happy to report that I was packed and showered before I logged on to my computer at 8:30, I sent out all twelve reports before 10, and I remembered to record an out-of-office voicemail on my work phone. Even though I ate Thin Mints for breakfast, I consider this morning a success.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Unrequited Girliness (and Cupcakes)

Last week, I received an e-vite for a girls-only Oscars party:

Come in your PJs and watch the stars! We’ll make popcorn, have some snacks and drinks and keep tabs on who is a Do and who is a Don’t! Who needs boyfriends/husbands when you’ve got Jake, George, Brad, and the rest of the Hollywood hotties in tuxes!

I wasn’t sure. I’m not very invested in awards shows – I usually skim the summary lists the day after – and the invitation came from one of JG’s teacher friends. We’ve hung out in groups for game nights, but I’ve never gone to a function by myself. Still, the idea of genuine girl time was attractive, since I don’t naturally seek out that type of company on my own. I’m no tomboy, but for whatever reason, girls were never my closest friends. This invitation intrigued me, and despite a little nervousness, I clicked the button indicating, “I can handle the red carpet!”

The party planner instructed us to “bring whatever” so I decided to make the girliest dessert I could think of that would be easy to transport. Eager to use up my superfluous valentine cupcake liners, I whipped up two dozen strawberry cupcakes, topped them with vanilla icing, and scattered the caps with pink sugar crystals. With my box full of sugary, glittery, all-girl treats, I felt ready. JG and I even watched Little Miss Sunshine yesterday so that I would know at least one of the nominees for Best Picture. I was all set. Here I come, Girl Time.

And then we got another storm.

Three inches of snow with sleet and rain for dessert mean that I’m watching the show on my couch, with no one to admire or eat my cupcakes. Well, that’s not exactly true. JG “took one for the team,” even though it was more like two or three. Even though I like being home when it’s snowing and I feel all cozy, I was really looking forward to dishing about the red carpet. I have no one to discuss with me how amazing Helen Mirren looked, what in the world Jessica Biel was thinking, or how many times Ryan Seacrest complained about being behind an azalea bush. Oh, well. I know I would have hated to be out on the roads in bad weather even more. It really was for the best, but I’m still kind of disappointed.

Maybe I’ll help myself to a cupcake.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Toy for Me

I pulled up the confirmation e-mail, clicked the handy Gmail link to track my UPS package, and waited for the page to load with bated breath. I scanned quickly. Out for delivery! Woo hoo!

My company has a fabulous perk where each employee gets a yearly allowance to spend on a hobby or outside interest of some sort. People buy craft supplies, golf equipment, or even small kitchen appliances. My first year, my funds went toward a historic tour and snorkeling on my honeymoon, books, and a whole slew of camping stuff. Last year, I invested in a hangboard and a cute PDA. Last week, I blew this year’s money on a little something that was on track to be delivered right into my hot little hands.

My new camera came today!

I waited until I got home to explore the new features with JG, since he was just as excited about the newest addition to our household. We followed the directions in the manual labeled, “Read this first,” and attached the neck strap and lens cap, inserted the batteries, and slid in the memory card. I flicked the On switch and suddenly, everything had potential to be artistic. My guitar! Our UD afghan! Garlic sizzling in a saucepan! Cracked pepper! Oh, the possibilities.

Of course, there’s the minor detail that, when it comes to photography, I am definitely a novice. I sort of have an eye for composition, but I’m looking forward to learning much more as I figure out everything I can do with this newfangled machine. Watch out, world.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Writing It Out

Last night, I was a lovely combination of pathetic and resigned. When I reflected on the letters and spaces that made up my tired mindset, I realized that writing it out had two effects. On the one hand, writing un-frazzled me. I was able to distill all of my frayed nerves into coherent thoughts. It was soothing.

On the other, unexpected hand, once I’d written everything out, I could see my discontent for what it was, which was pretty silly. I can only wallow for so long and last night was the limit. I saw my complaints out in the open, condensed into letters and spaces, and I had an overwhelming sense akin to “What the heck is the big deal?”

I sat back and realized that I didn’t want to miss a major portion of my life because I was so busy wishing that I was somewhere else. I didn’t want to look back at this period and wonder why I felt so occupied and stressed but not recall what I was actually doing. I may not remember my commute some mornings, but I really want to remember my actual life. If nothing else, my post was a big smack across the head with a ringing “Pay attention!” attached to it.

I can’t promise to be an ever-shining beacon of optimism; in fact, it’s a safe bet that I will hardly ever be that. But I can make a greater effort to be more present and aware of what I’m going through, not just dazing off into a dream world where things are automatically easier, more attractive, or faster. It’s the difference between being an active participant in my own life – as corny as that sounds – and being an observer. Simply observing isn’t fair to my friends, JG, or myself. If I’m tired, I don’t want the fatigue that comes from being beaten into submission by the daily grind. I want the tiredness that comes from having a full day behind me. A full life.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's Only Tuesday

… and I feel like my brain is fried. I’m in the midst of a streak where I wake up tired in the mornings, wanting to succumb to the pull of gravity on my body and the lure of soft t-shirt sheets on my skin. I’m unable to resist dozing past my alarm. I dread the inevitable moment when I need to fling the covers off and trudge to the shower, where the water wakes me up, but not in a way that stops me from leaning against the acrylic, off-white wall with my eyes closed. It’s a temporary escape from the world of neon-green, digital numbers and the countdown to when I need to leave the house, but time doesn’t stand still, not even in the bathroom. I blink my contacts into place and try to settle on an outfit for the day before blasting my hair with the hair dryer and trying to hide my fatigue with makeup.

I drive to work and realize that after 25 minutes, I’ve arrived at the office and I don’t remember the ride at all. It bothers me a bit because I know I should be more aware. While my computer boots up, I hang up my coat, put my lunch in the fridge, peel an orange. My co-workers float in as the next half hour goes by and I offer them a cheerful face and a hi-how-are-you-how-was-your-night. I try not to seem tired, but my office mate can’t help but notice my frequent yawns and eagerness to eat lunch. Work keeps me busy, but not interested. I guess one out of two isn’t bad.

At the end of the day, I’m glad to push my chair back into place and tie a scarf around my neck. I notice that my shoulders relax as soon as I get into the car and pull out. My grip on the wheel is looser than in the morning. I’m much more energetic during my commute back home. I sing along to the radio and look forward to being home, a comforting haven where my husband and a good dinner are bound to show up; seeing JG is the first thing I’ve looked forward to all day. After giving my mind a break during an hour of primetime television, I head down to bed after JG – we operate on teacher time. I reverse my morning routine, donning pajamas and glasses to read a couple of chapters. JG turns in before I do and we exchange a good-night hug and kiss. When I can’t hold up the book any longer, I turn off my bedside lamp and burrow down into the covers. The morning comes far too soon.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe I need more sleep or less sleep. JG says I need to drink more water. I know I should do yoga in the mornings. Maybe that’s it. Common sense tells me that it’s too early to be yearning for the weekend, but my tired mind and body don’t agree.

Friday, February 16, 2007

An Oldie, but Goodie

Those leftover marshmallows were annoying me. They’d been sitting by the microwave for months, holdovers from the chocolate fountain dipping bonanza at our New Year’s Eve party. Marshmallows don’t go bad, right? I didn’t know what to do with them, other than make s’mores, but it’s hardly campfire season. And then I bought a box of Rice Krispies. Oh, yeah.

It had been way too long since I made Rice Krispie treats and I can’t let myself forget their high ease-to-yumminess ratio. I watched the marshmallows melt into the yellow puddle of melted butter and suddenly, I was back in my parents’ kitchen. I was wearing a striped apron with sundry kitchen utensils poking out of the top of a big front pocket, standing on a footstool, and dumping cupfuls of Rice Krispies that my mother had measured into the mixture of butter and marshmallow. This time around, my arm ached a little as I folded in the cereal and I regarded it fondly, remembering how I never could incorporate it fully. Mom always had to finish it up for me. Then, we’d push it into a baking dish and it was cruel punishment to wait until it was solid enough to cut into bars. Why not just eat it gooey and warm, straight out of the pot? I would pull at the stubborn, stuck clusters of puffed rice on the side of the pot, stretching marshmallow strings until they gave way and that sweetened clump was all mine.

In preparation for baking cupcakes earlier in the week, I had inadvertently bought a package of no less than seventy-five valentine-themed cupcake wrappers (who needs that many?!). The stack of remaining cups inspired a stroke of genius around this particular project, if I do say so myself. Why make regular Rice Krispie treats when you can make cupcake ones? I lined a muffin tin with a dozen cupcake wrappers and used soup spoons to drop in chunky dollops. I topped them off with red, white, and pink sprinkles, which made for quite festive Rice Krispie treats. My co-workers were very pleased and not one of the snacks came home with me at the end of the day.

Fortunately, I had enough leftover “batter” to fill up two mini loaf pans, so now we have own stash at home. JG was also very pleased.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cold Outside, Warm Inside

We have harsh weather today. The neighborhood is blanketed with a quiet layer of snow, but pellets of ice are raining on the windows, as though someone is tossing small marbles against the house. Thankfully, I’m able to work at home, so I’m sitting in the living room, typing away on my laptop, wrapped in a blanket. There was no way I was going to brave those slippery roads just to sit at my desk in the office.

Even better, the school where JG teaches closed for today! Along with the excitement of the first snow day of this school year, it’s such a bonus that we’re home together and on Valentine’s Day. It’s certainly a far cry from last year, when we were apart for the entire day and only managed to have dessert together. Despite the icy, rattling weather, we’re making today a day for hot beverages, dark chocolate cupcakes, and gifts tied with red ribbons. Being snowed in has never had better timing.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shameless Plug

Guess what! I’m writing a column!

Two weeks ago, I started to write at a site focused on long relationships, like dating and marriage. The plan is to share my reflections on my married life so far, give suggestions to couples out there, and comment on relevant articles and the like. I would love for folks to hop on over, check out the site, and offer any comments or feedback. I hope to have content that’s helpful and entertaining, so suggestions are always welcome.

The blog is part of the 451 Press network, which publishes websites on all sorts of topics, like entertainment, hobbies, and parenting, so click around and check out what’s available! 451 Press is always looking for new talent, so if you’re interested in writing about a specific topic, I encourage you to apply and see if it’s a good fit.

Of course, I’ll still post about life in general over here. If you have a spare second or a glimmer of curiosity, click on the link in my sidebar - there will be something new to read over there every weekday morning. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Goodness

“How do you feel about pancakes this morning?”

JG wanted pancakes, partially because we had a carton of buttermilk in the fridge. I agreed enthusiastically and he got to work, mixing up batter and heating up a griddle. We usually cheat our way past buying buttermilk (mixing a tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of milk) and it usually works, but lately, we’ve had a rash of runny, floppy, pancakes of disappointment. Having the buttermilk around gave us the first opportunity to actually follow the recipe.

“Your pancakes are almost ready,” JG called from the kitchen. “I think these are the best ones I’ve ever made.”

Well! This should be good.

I sat down at the table with a glass of orange juice and JG set down a plate stacked with four fluffy, steaming pancakes. “Ooh,” I breathed. The aroma alone indicated superior pancakes and I inhaled deeply. Following my usual procedure, I buttered between each layer and then spangled maple syrup over the whole stack. I’m a minimalist when it comes to syrup. I cut a wedge out of the quivering tower and steam wafted up. I admired the distinct strata of golden-brown-deliciousness, glistening butter, and gooey syrup. I speared the top two layers for my first bite. Each piece had absorbed a touch of butter and sweet syrup, but not too much so that the cake itself was overwhelmed. Puffy enough for a good bite but tender so as to melt in one’s mouth, the pancake was exactly the right answer on a Sunday morning.

“So, how is it?” he asked.

Oh, my.

“I think we should buy buttermilk from now on.”

Sunday Scribblings #46: Yummy

Friday, February 9, 2007

Puns Intended

Evidently, I am not the only person who enjoys a good pun! When I was a kid, I had a whole shelf full of joke books: 101 Dinosaur / Hamburger / Vampire / etc. Jokes, The Biggest Riddle Book Ever, and 1,001 Knock-Knock Jokes. I knew them all, but the ones with puns were my favorites. I mean, how great is, “Orange you glad you didn’t say banana?” It’s a classic!

Unfortunately, JG does not share this opinion; even worse, he insists on calling puns “the lowest form of humor”! I always respond, “But it’s okay because I’m a low person,” emphasizing my shortness and – ha! – slipping in a pun, kind of, for good measure. When I told him over dinner that I was going to post my 21-Pun Salute, he groaned dramatically.

Hey! My mom gave me that card and I love it!"

Another groan.

I narrowed my eyes and pointed my fork at him. “Your bad attitude will be properly documented, mister.”

I had to dig out the card from a shoebox of old birthday cards, postcards from friends, and mementos from studying abroad. Being a pack rat does pay off at times! I thought I would simply transcribe everything, but the illustrations added so much. I’m uncertain of the copyright situation, so here is a disclaimer: this card was manufactured by Ambassador Cards, a Hallmark brand.

Lastly, I have to give a big shout-out to my mom for sending me this awesome card back in the day. It still makes me laugh out loud, especially #6 and 20, but I will understand if some people can’t help but groan. Meanwhile, JG will be writhing around in pain if he happens to read this post. Heh.

(click for a super-zoomed-in version)


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

100 for the Hundredth

In honor of my centennial entry, I present 100 things about me, including some I’ve already revealed around here. I’ll try and elaborate on some of these in the future, too.

Let me know if you make to end of the list!

  1. I was born and raised in southeastern Connecticut.
  2. My dad is a civil engineer and my mom is a teacher.
  3. I have one sister who is four years older than I am. She and I are eerily similar in regard to mannerisms but vastly different in terms of taste.
  4. I am Asian, but when someone asks me where I’m from, I automatically say Connecticut.
  5. I like to think that I’m a good source on how to be respectful when discussing race. I have a few really good examples up my sleeve of when people were not tactful. Or I guess they could be really bad, depending on how you look at them.
  6. It was my parents’ intention that I would play classical piano, so I started taking lessons when I was 7. Today, I am grateful that I can read music pretty fluently.
  7. My future as a pianist was sidelined by competitive gymnastics. Three years after I started taking classes, I began competing at the age of 9.
  8. I trained for 30-40 hours a week, depending on the time of year, in the hopes of making it to the Sydney Olympics.
  9. I didn’t make it. I chose to quit gymnastics at the age of 13 because I was very stressed out.
  10. A down side to the gymnastics was that I was never allowed to do any other kind of physical activity due to the risk of being injured. I’m glad that I learned how to swim before all of that. I learned how to jump rope in high school; as a result, I am terrible at it.
  11. An up side to the gymnastics career was that I discovered an awesome human trick that has trumped all others I’ve encountered. I can lie on the floor on my stomach and arch my back so that my feet go over my head and land on the floor. Then I can stand up.
  12. I was in practically every club in high school except for a sport. My favorites were colorguard in the marching band and drama club.
  13. I never paid attention to the football games; they were just an arena for band performances.
  14. My colorguard friends started calling me RA and it has stuck ever since.
  15. Variations have included Amon-Ra and RaRa.
  16. In my junior year, I played mean people in both of the plays: Juror #4 in Twelve Angry Jurors and Baroness Elsa Schräder in The Sound of Music. It was so much fun.
  17. I applied to seven colleges during my senior year. I don’t recommend that to anyone.
  18. I went to the University of Delaware for chemistry because I wanted to become a brilliant pharmaceutical chemist and get a PhD.
  19. I took two semesters of only math and science and realized that I missed reading and writing. So I switched my major to English and kept a chemistry minor. I’m fairly certain that I am in the very small minority of English majors who also took Instrumental Methods of Analysis and Intro to Biochemistry.
  20. I had a concentration in Business/Technical Writing, which can cover anything from writing instructions for machinery to writing advertising copy. I enjoy organizing information, doing layout, and proofreading, so it was a perfect fit for me.
  21. People assume that, since I was an English major, I have a complete hold on the English language. Even though I loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves, I do not wholly grasp all of the nuances. English is hard.
  22. What I do know (how to use apostrophes correctly, the difference between lie/lay and that/which, when to use objective vs. subjective pronouns) I know very well.
  23. I am trying to become a better writer, by which I mean a communicator through the written word. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but I want to see what I can do with a thousand words.
  24. I love to read and I love getting book recommendations almost as much.
  25. My favorite author is Madeleine L’Engle and I have a running list of her books that I do not currently own in case I run into them somewhere.
  26. I am addicted to used book stores; it’s almost impossible for me to pass one without at least going inside.
  27. My favorite Madeleine L’Engle book is A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I have three different copies and I read it probably every other year just because I miss it.
  28. I still really enjoy chemistry, especially the periodic table. It’s a thing of beauty.
  29. If you accidentally get me started, I will pontificate on the wondrous properties of water. It is amazing, amazing stuff.
  30. I will celebrate Mole Day with anyone will will celebrate it with me. Experience has taught me that Mole Day is not as much endearing to people as it is annoying. I’ve been forced to repress jokes about avocados and molasses.
  31. I love puns more than anyone probably should. My mom gave me a 21-pun salute for my 21st birthday and I still have it. I’m one in a bullion!
  32. During my freshman year, I went to Trinidad for a missions trip and it was amazing. It wasn’t a bad way to spend two weeks in January, either.
  33. I met my husband, JG, in our first week at UD.
  34. JG and RA are the nicknames we use for each other. When we’d meet for brunch on weekends, we called it “JARG time” because it’s an anagram of our “initials”. We call our inside jokes JARGon because we are that cool.
  35. JG and I started dating in the beginning of sophomore year. If you ask him, JG will not hesitate to tell you how I reacted when he brought me flowers on our first date.
  36. We both worked at a summer camp for a few years (2 for me, 3 for him) as lifeguards and program facilitators.
  37. It was probably the most thankless work I ever did, but I made some of the best friends of my life. It was a good life experience to do thankless work, too.
  38. JG and I learned how to climb and belay at camp. I still really like to climb, but we don’t get out nearly as much as we’d like.
  39. I studied abroad in London during our five-week winter session. I loved that I could walk everywhere, do my reading in the British Museum, and see plays all the time.
  40. While overseas, I spent a weekend in Scotland. It was gorgeous and freezing cold in the highlands.
  41. Much to my parents’ relief, in the summer before senior year, I finally got an internship that could actually go on my résumé. I was a technical writer for research students in UD’s civil engineering program.
  42. I knew nothing about structures but I learned to love bridges with the sort of affection that most people lavish on houses or gardens.
  43. My favorite bridges are the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. So far.
  44. During my internship, we all took the Myers-Briggs type indicator and I was an ISTJ. When I read the description, it was scary-accurate.
  45. JG proposed the day we moved in to college for our senior year. I said yes.
  46. Finishing school, finding a job, and planning a wedding were a bit too much for me. I think I could have handled two out of the three things, but all three made for a lot of stress.
  47. We were married in June 2005. We loved every minute of our budget wedding and wouldn’t have changed a thing.
  48. I experienced my first no-stress vacation during our honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean and I would recommend it to anyone.
  49. On the first anniversary of our engagement, JG and I found out that the offer we made on the house we wanted was accepted!
  50. In October 2005, we moved out of our apartment into a house in the Mushroom Capital of the World. Veggie mushrooms, not druggie ones.
  51. I am at my most geeky when I’m using Excel. I try to incorporate it into as many aspects of my life as possible, like wedding planning, Christmas shopping, and blogging.
  52. I get unnecessarily excited when I put together a formula and workbook that just plain work.
  53. I’m also really geeky when I subconsciously anagram words or try to make up palindromes.
  54. Anagramming makes me pretty good at playing Scrabble, which is one of my favorite games. It also has fun derivatives that I love to share with people.
  55. I love to play games in general, especially Cranium, Catch Phrase, and Apples to Apples.
  56. It’s disappointing to JG that I don’t like cards very much, but I don’t mind dealing for Texas Hold ’Em.
  57. We’ve discovered that I’m a good teacher for Texas Hold ’Em for girls who might be intimidated. I think the key is a list of the hands in order of “value” and then playing as a team with whispered commentary.
  58. I’m not as proficient a cook as I would aspire to be. Hot oil and flame generally freak me out.
  59. I really enjoy baking, especially if it requires the use of my mixer. When I make dinner, it’s usually a casserole so that I can bake it.
  60. JG and I watch our TV shows religiously. My favorites are How I Met Your Mother, Gilmore Girls, CSI, and Best Week Ever.
  61. I watch the Food Network compulsively. I hang on every word from Alton Brown, but Emeril makes me want to claw my eyes out.
  62. I also watch HGTV all the time. I think it’s gotten worse since I have a home I can decorate with something other than posters and putty.
  63. If I were on What Not to Wear, they would take away my collection of v-neck cardigans. And then my drawer of funny socks.
  64. If I were a Friend, I’m afraid that I would be Monica.
  65. I am terrible at anything involving hitting, catching, throwing, or kicking a ball.
  66. I am a very good spectator and cheerleader as long as I know what side I’m on and what they’re trying to do. Sometimes I need a quick tutorial, but after that, I’m good.
  67. When I was a child, I constructed my opinion of football from beer commercials, which made me think that it was only for overweight, body-painted men who liked their cheerleaders buxom and blonde. I’ve since learned that it’s not just for them.
  68. Watching UD football has helped to broaden my view of the game, but my tolerance for sports is still relatively low.
  69. I love comfort food. Give me pasta or meatloaf over dessert any day.
  70. To go carb-free would be a form of torture for me.
  71. I don’t really enjoy chocolate even though I’m not allergic to it. I know that it’s kind of unfeminine of me, but there it is.
  72. I highly prefer fruity candy to chocolate, especially Swedish fish or Twizzlers.
  73. I love root beer and my favorite dessert is a root beer float.
  74. My favorite color is green, but not in sickly shades. You know which ones I mean.
  75. I have a very weak stomach. I need to avert my eyes whenever those dive-in shots come up in CSI. I can’t really handle any scene with the coroner.
  76. I love to ride roller coasters, which is surprising to most people.
  77. I’m petite in every way; there are 15 inches between JG and me. He would like to clarify that he is “not not petite”, from a chubbiness perspective. He is a beanpole, if you really wanted to know.
  78. My most frequent facial tics are raising my right eyebrow and rolling my eyes.
  79. I type from the home row and very quickly.
  80. JG and I prefer to host the party rather than be guests because cooking and cleaning up is a fair trade for not having to drive.
  81. I would rather be a passenger in any vehicle than drive. I’m a good co-pilot; I’ll hand you money for tolls, hold a soda, change CDs, and look for street signs or house numbers.
  82. I still drive the car in which I passed my driver’s test. I’m afraid that whenever it dies, I’m going to have to relearn everything.
  83. I am terrible with directions and spatial reasoning in general.
  84. I am, however, very good at loading the dishwasher to maximum capacity, which doesn’t really make sense.
  85. I would love to be a backup singer for someone. I enjoy singing harmony much more than the melody.
  86. My favorite movie is The Emperor’s New Groove and I have seen it over 35 times.
  87. If I had my way, I would buy everything online.
  88. I am a very good bargain shopper. JG says I can sniff the air and know whether something is on sale. I love to display my purchases and say, “Originally priced at X, but I got it for Y!”
  89. This pride spills over into everyday conversation when, instead of thanking someone in response to a comment like, “Nice sweater,” I say something bizarre like, “Ann Taylor Loft, ten bucks!”
  90. I feel uneasy if I don’t have anything to write on and with.
  91. I take notes in bullet form, with dashes.
  92. I kept a journal faithfully from the age of 8 to 18. I’m glad that moving out of my parents’ house has forced me to stop looking back at the stack of journals because, clearly, I was a raving lunatic.
  93. I love learning new words and trying to incorporate them into my conversations.
  94. For the most part, I am a very good speller, except for a few recalcitrant words that always seem to end up with red, squiggly lines underneath them.
  95. When I was in fifth grade, I was buzzed out of the state spelling bee because I misspelled “plethora”. You can bet that I know how to spell it now.
  96. I am not a morning person and I emerge from bed very, very grumpy.
  97. I love stationery and I have a habit of hoarding blank cards. You never know when you can use them!
  98. I am startled very easily, but I don’t readily admit to being tense or uptight.
  99. I hate surprises, especially ones that involve people jumping out of dark places and yelling at me. Please don’t do that to me. I’m more likely to burst into tears than to be glad to see you.
  100. I am horribly nearsighted.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Power Puff Girls

My checklist for our Super Bowl party:
  • Steaming slow cookers of chili
  • Baked potatoes
  • Cheese and sour cream
  • Chips and salsa
  • Veggies and dip
  • Giant cookies
  • Puff-painted “I Heart Peyton” t-shirt

That’s right. Puff paint. Peyton. It was a fabulous combination.

Let me explain that I don’t know that much about professional football. I like watching college football, but to me, the professional version seems to have a lot of bells and whistles, plus a generous smattering of illegal and distasteful shenanigans going on, like with the Minnesota Vikings, for example. It’s safe to say that I can’t match the teams to their states with the exception of maybe three lucky teams. (I mean, which Carolina gets to claim the Panthers? It’s like saying something is from Dakota.) When Super Bowl comes around every year, it’s more an excuse to get together with friends than a serious sporting event for me. And I do enjoy a good commercial.

I really enjoy a commercial with Peyton Manning, especially the one when he puts accountants on his fantasy team. Ha. I like that he hasn’t been arrested. I enjoyed his tango in an 8th grade musical. I saw an endearing interview with his mom before the Colts-Giants game and she was so cute! And there we have my main reasons for liking Peyton even though I have no clue about the rest of the Colts. There was no better way to express this affection than with a puff-painted t-shirt.

Fortunately, I had an accomplice in this operation in a friend who was coming for our Super Bowl party. She loves Peyton with fervor approximating my own and also enjoys a good puff-painting session. Last Friday, during a game of Monopoly, I said jokingly, “I thought about doing this to surprise you, but would it have been scary or pathetic if I puff-painted Peyton t-shirts for us?”

She whipped her head around. “No! Let’s do it tomorrow!”


And so we did. Hunched over my kitchen table, we dressed up plain black t-shirts with sparkly puff paint in lopsided letters, footballs, horseshoes, tufts of grass, and lucky #18. JG noticed a strange lack of conversation between the two of us and remarked, “This is serious business, huh? No small talk, even. Wow.”

That’s right. The shirts were amazing. One of the other girls at our party took one look at the two of us and simply said, “Oh. My.” How about that for admiration?

Now that I’m no longer nine years old, jittery from soda at a slumber party, or lacking fine motor skills, I’m actually kind of good at puff-painting. If this skill were even slightly profitable I might try doing it more often. And look – the Colts won! That is what puff paint can do.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

French Fries for Lunch

Several weeks ago, a co-worker shared with us that she had resigned from her position. Unlike others in our office, I was not entirely surprised because I was listed a reference for her and I knew that it was a possibility. She’s moving on to a really great opportunity that is closer to her home and it makes sense in all sorts of ways, except in a way that makes me sigh. My small office is very tight-knit as a whole, but agreeing to be her reference made me realize that I would feel her absence more acutely than anyone else’s.

She mentioned at one time or another that her fantasy snack food would be “a whole bar of French fries, with all sorts of fixings to choose from”, so everyone helped to put together one last hurrah over the lunch hour. One of us went out to get ten side orders of fries while the rest of us assembled the condiment bar: ketchup, mayonnaise, honey mustard, Old Bay seasoning, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, chili, and cheese sauce.

Well, she loved it.

While reading through the thoughtful goodbye messages people had sent in, she drizzled cheese, swirled chili, and spattered vinegar over her stack of fries. I was pleased that she was enjoying the festivities, but it was bittersweet for me. I might otherwise have had a normal day, but a thought cloud hovered over me: She’s not coming in tomorrow. But I didn’t act differently, except to slip her a congratulations-and-good-luck card. I felt awkward, as though I inadvertently stumbled into a funeral. It’s an exciting opportunity for a new job and advancement, I reminded myself. It makes sense! It’s not personal, it’s business.

And yet, it is personal, at least a little bit. She was at this company when I started, so this workplace without her is colder, less forgiving, more severe. We partnered to cultivate new products and bring them to fruition; thought I manage them on my own now, I could always look to her if I need to bounce around new ideas. During a time when I seriously questioned what I was doing with my life, decided to take a leap, and then met disappointment, she was there with an understanding ear, practical advice, and radiant optimism. I will miss all of these things in her.

When we hugged goodbye after happy hour, I promised to come visit her so she could show me around her city. My stomach ached, deep in the pit. The French fries for lunch didn’t help at all.

Sunday Scribblings #45: Goodbyes