Monday, December 31, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?

Search terms that have led people here:

Treen Crack Whores Movies. You know what? I've met her in person now. And she's not a crack whore at all and I haven't seen her in any movies. So go away.

What's Got Two Thumbs? Me. You. Pretty much everybody.

Snow Fall In Celebration. Um, I think it's more about moisture in the atmosphere, and some other things I don't know anything about, and not so much about a celebration.

Snow Hot-Tub. If you're bald, like my husband is, it does actually get a little chilly.

Mom and Virgin. Well, according to some accounts that get some pretty weighty consideration, it happened once, so it's not, like, totally out of the realm of possibility.

If You Smell What the Dan is Cooking. Well, tonight he's cooking salad and I'm making braised short ribs, so you probably smell the ribs, but he's not exactly cooking.

Illegal to Give Massages. Hope not.

Convince Mom to let me go to Pensacola. If it's for some guy who's in the Air Force there, you probably shouldn't go anyway. You'll regret it.

Area of Inaccessability. Yeah, like that spot between my shoulderblades that always seems to itch. Or the backseat of a Volkswagen.

Baby name that sounds like Asshole. I...really don't have any suggestions in this regard, but I have to know what you come up with. And maybe why.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


We're back. And it's my birthday.

This is not how I expected to spend this birthday. Had you asked me back last summer, I'd have told you I intended to be in a house that I owned for Christmas, six months pregnant. Instead, I'm in a condo that I don't own, and not pregnant. Still. Getting closer, optimistically, but not pregnant.

Christmas was...well, it was good. Really great. I have a thoroughly hideous cold with a dry, hacking cough and pretty much the worst sore throat I've ever had in my life, which started on Christmas night. Even that couldn't ruin a totally...I don't know, serendipitous holiday.

I had this great conversation with my adorable step-cousin, who has been a family friend since forever, long before my mother ever thought of marrying his uncle, at my mother's Christmas Eve party. He got divorced this year and I can't imagine him being single for more than about a minute, so he has a new girlfriend, who I know a little--I know her younger brothers better, they're closer to my age and I went to high school with them. He is an almost frighteningly nice guy, much nicer than when I was in second grade and he tried to feed my Cabbage Patch Kid to a seagull at Hilton Head Island, and we had a couple of glasses of champagne and made a little fun of his older sister, a PhD psychologist in Key West who is incurably neurotic and loony.

Mom's whole party was just really great. The food was, as usual, delicious and accessible and elegant. My mother has really amazing friends, smart and fun and funny and with great stories. Max was an adorable little peach throughout the party, not getting flustered by the attention, and telling people, "I Max. I two now."

There's just something about a place that you don't go often, or people that you don't see enough of. Dan and I spent a whole day just driving around Kalamazoo. We drove past the apartment that we lived in when we got married. We had lunch at a campus dive that we used to live near when we first got together, that was open until the bars closed every night, where we could get dinner after Dan closed the restaurant or got out of class. We went to a movie and out for dinner--by ourselves--and there was something magic about being alone together. It doesn't happen that often. It felt like when we first got together, nothing to do but talk to each other.

I got my hair cut and colored and I feel like a new woman. I had forgotten what a new haircut can do for me. It's short--boy is it--but I feel good in it.

Thursday night Dan and I drove up to Lansing and met Gerry and Trina for dinner. Gerry is one of my oldest friends and Treen is his fiance, and I hadn't seen Gerry since maybe 1998. Trina and I have been exchanging emails for a year at least, but I remember looking at Gerry's MySpace page for the first time, before G and Trina had even gotten together, and seeing the girl at the top of his friends list and thinking, "Wow, she's like the perfect girl for him. I bet he's got a huge crush on her and he's really freaking her out." Then they got together and it turned out that she was perfect for him and he was perfect for her and watching them together is really just pretty great. I love seeing two people--one of whom has been a friend for years and the other of which has become a friend only just in the last year--be so right for each other. And I love that they remind me a little of Dan and me--they met at work, he was her boss, she had a bad boyfriend when they met. We closed the restaurant down and I even choked up a little when we left and I'm not really emotional like that, because I have lots of acquaintences and quite a few close acquaintences but I just don't have that many people who I really think of as friends. I love them and I miss them already. I missed them before we even drove out of the parking lot.

On Friday we dropped Max off at my mother-in-law's house and drove up to Saugutuck. When Dan and I were sneaking around and trying to keep people from finding out that we were dating, we used to drive up to Saugutuck, a resort town on Lake Michigan. It's gorgeous and charming and adorable and I love it. It's full of art galleries and cute tiny little restaurants and in the summer there are film festivals and art shows. On Water Street there is the greatest place on earth, a store called the Saugutuck Spice Merchant, where I generally spend the equivalent of two months' cell phone bill on things like raspberry chipotle spice rub and Northwest alder smoked sea salt, and a roasted garlic-wild mushroom seasoning that I'm already planning on working into fresh egg pasta for lasagna for New Year's Eve dinner. It is paradise for a food nerd, and despite the fact that I have this god-awful cold and couldn't stop sneezing and I could barely smell anything in there, I once again spent a small fortune. Dan and I split an order of portabello fries in Phil's, a bar halfway down the main drag, where we ducked in to get out of a driving snowstorm, and drank coffee and ate really good, really spicy chili at the bar at The Butler, down by the marina, surrounded by locals. In the summer, it's hard to get a table there, like it's hard to get a parking spot anywhere in town, when it fills up with rich people from Chicago. Saugutuck's charms aren't lost on anyone really. There was so much snow that the drive back to my in-laws' house was really a little bit exciting, especially because we hadn't driven in that much snow in awhile. We went out with them to Su Casa, a Mexican restaurant in a town mostly populated by migrant workers. It used to be in the back of a tiny, grungy Mexican grocery store, but now it's big and bright and has a bar and a mariachi band. Max couldn't get enough of the band, and I have it on video. I'll post it tomorrow--it's the cutest thing I've ever seen. The food there, incidentally, is what I'd choose for my last meal if I were on death row--the carnitas tacos are something I dream about occasionally. When I do, I know it's time to get back to Michigan for a few days.

We're back home again in Maryland, and in an hour, it won't be my birthday anymore, it'll be New Year's Eve. Before Dan and I got together, I had a really lame and crappy boyfriend who I don't think was actually cheating on me, but I would be surprised if the thought didn't occur to him. He was a total dud, as it turned out, but he did make the same New Year's resolution every year, and it was a pretty good one. His resolution was More. You know--more. More sex, more fun, more money. And so I'm making the same resolution this year for myself. More great food. More fun with friends. More family. More writing. More reading. More knitting. More love. With luck and the right combination of drugs, accupuncture and well-timed nookie with my loveable geek of a husband, more baby. More More.

Happy New Year, Internet. Be sure to check me out at A Year In The Kitchen, my new project in 2008. Here's to More.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Baby Mama

Apparently, Britney Spears' little sister is some kind of television star on a show for 8-year-olds, I guess. I mean, I'm not familiar, but she's famous enough to be on the news this morning.

She's sixteen. And she's pregnant.

Britney, when asked, said, "Ding dang, y'all, Jamie-Lynn's pregnant! I'ms gonna be an aunt, or maybe an uncle. We don't know if she's havin' a boy or a girl yet."

You know, I'm not, like, all weird and judgey about teenage pregnancy. My husband's a high school teacher, and I got over being shocked his first year teaching, when he had four students who were knocked up. One was even due at the same time I was, with the same obstetrician and at the same hospital--Dan and I kept imagining awkward scenarios where she and I ended up as roommates in the postpartum ward.

But this seems just so weird to me. I mean, sixteen-year-olds get pregnant all the time, I get it. But she seems really excited about it. She's planning to move back to Louisiana to raise the baby with "a normal family life."

I wonder where she's going to find a normal family. I mean, her mother was writing a parenting book when this happened. Seriously? A parenting book? From Britney Spears' mother? Did I hear that right? We're not talking about a children's book, something about, I don't know, pigs and tractors and hootch stills?

Same news program: kids who have sex education are statistically less likely to have sex before age 15. 79% and 59% less likely for boys and girls respectively. I mean, that's, you know, fairly significant.

So look, say you've got a swimming pool. You can tell your kids that the pool is dangerous. You can tell them to stay away from it. You can put a fence around the pool with a locked gate. But whatever you do to keep your kid out, this is a fact: your kid is going to get into that pool. Sooner or later, your kid is going swimming. Do you not think that you should maybe get your kid some swimming lessons? How is that not the responsible thing to do?

I really just can't fathom how this is even a question anymore. Sex education for Max? Yes please. Whatever it takes to keep him out of the pool as long as we can, we'll do it. But we've got no illusions about the fact that it's a decision he will make for himself, regardless of what we want. Did no one tell this kid, this Jamie-Lynn Spears, about where babies come from?

She seems to think that this will all be some kind of kick, some kind of good time. Look at me, I've got an expensive handbag and a nice car and a baby, y'all! Like I said, I'm trying to not be judgey, but give me a break. Parenthood is tough. It's hard work. I'm not saying a sixteen-year-old doesn't know how to work hard, but how is this something that a kid, and she is still a kid, could possibly be ready for?

And she has the audacity to tell other kids that they shouldn't have premarital sex. Really? No premarital sex? Well, I'm pretty sure you've lost all your credibility with anybody who was listening to begin with, and you really sound like a hypocrite, but definitely tell your own kid that too. I'm sure it'll work out for her as well as it did for you. Jamie-Lynn, 30-year-old grandmother.

Wanna know what parenthood is really like, Jamie-Lynn? Why don't you ask your big sister? I hear she's a shoo-in for mother of the year, y'all.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Things I Should Have Learned To Do

1. Play the French Horn. I like music, but it's not anything I'm particularly talented at. I can pick out a few bars on the piano here and there, and I played the flute in 6th grade but never got very good at it. But one of the first pieces of classical music I can remember hearing, and loving, was the wolf's theme from Prokofiev's "Peter And The Wolf." I would love to be able to play that.

2. Paint. I've taken...oh, dozens of art classes since childhood, including pottery, sculpture, photography, and graphic design. But anything 2-dimensional doesn't seem to be within my realm.

3. Make puff pastry from scratch. Mmmmmm, puff pastry. Making it from scratch is a skill that pastry chefs really need, and it involves a lot of butter and rolling and turning and flipping and more rolling, and I just don't have the patience for it, especially when I can just run to the store and buy a box. Still, it's one of those things I wish I'd learned to do.

4. Cartwheels. I am tall and semi-awkward and as a child I was even more awkward than I am now, and when my tiny 4'3" friends were all learning to do cartwheels in gym class, I was still trying to keep from falling off the balance beam.

5. Excel spreadsheets. There is a surprising call for me to do these in my current job, which I don't understand, given that I'm a writer/editor. I can muddle my way through one, mostly, but occasionally I am felled totally by my inability to make a column of numbers behave the way I want them to behave.

6. Get through a marketing meeting without rolling my eyes. Luckily, my boss travels most of the time and dials in from wherever she happens to be.

7. Put on eye makeup without either blinding myself with eyeliner or making myself look like someone has punched me.

8. Read a map. I mean, I can read a map, but generally speaking, I don't have a great sense of direction and I almost never know what direction I'm facing without the assistance of the little digital compass readout in my car.

9. Write like Aaron Sorkin.

10. Golf. Everyone in my family plays but me, and I swear to God, they use that time out on the golf course to talk about me behind my back.

11. Walk in high heels. I look like a drunk when I try.

12. Properly blow my hair out straight once it's grown past my shoulders. It's too long now, and I look like I gave up halfway through every time.

13. Iron. My clothes look worse when I'm done than when I started.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I am starting a new project as of January 1st. It's a blog called A Year In The Kitchen.

I did NaBloPoMo and it felt like a terrible effort at the time to come up with something to say every day. Lots of people do it, and they do it well--much better than I did.

I have a number of small obsessions, not the least of which is food. I like cooking, eating, cookbooks, reading about cooking, watching TV about cooking, watching movies where people cook and eat and entertain people with cooking and eating. Being a diabetic, and a little lazy, and also sort of fat, I don't get to eat as much as I'd like to, and so not being able to do that translates into me spending a lot of time thinking about food and eating.

For example, right now I'm thinking about lunch, and running across the street to get some soup from the salad bar at Giant. I think it's Chicken Noodle day. Just thought you might like to know.

A Year In The Kitchen is going to be about food mostly, with bits and pieces. I'll post a recipe every day. Sometimes I'll post a restaurant review. Sometimes I might talk about some celebrity chef whose name rhymes with Fachel Fay and how much I think she really shouldn't be called a chef and how much I don't want to eat what she cooks just because the sound of her voice makes my skin crawl.

No Hipsters will continue to be my chief effort, where most of my creative energy is focused, but A Year In The Kitchen will be my ongoing exercise project, where I have a daily deadline and regular expectations. Discipline is good for people, I think, and particularly for me, as it doesn't come naturally to me.

So please come and read me at my new blog A Year In The Kitchen, starting January 1. Send me ideas and feedback and recipes. I am excited about this new thing I'm trying.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Series of Unfortunate Events, and an Aborted Afghan

Two items:

1. In the past several weeks, I have managed to hurt myself, or be hurt by members of my household, so many times that I now look like a field of bruises, scrapes, and general awfulness. It started two weeks ago, when I lopped the tip of my left thumb off with a 6 1/2" santoku knife while chopping onions. Entirely my fault: Max came to the kitchen door and asked me a question, and instead of doing what I know I should do, which is to put the damn knife down, I instead lost about half a pint of blood into my kitchen sink while I stammered to my husband, "Dan...Sweetie? I think I...I think I might need some...something." Since then, I have broken a toe, bruised my right hand knuckles so badly it looks like I punched someone, fallen down the stairs from our loft, been scratched deeply across the right ankle by our cat jumping over the ottoman, and developed bruises all over my shins from our son being a 2-year-old roughneck. I've also hit my head, twice, on the towel bar in our bathroom. Don't ask. I look like a domestic abuse survivor.

2. Remember this afghan?

I'm making one just like it, only in kind of a wheat color instead of the sickening green. Yeah, well, what a pain in the ass that thing turned into. The directions call for it to be knit in panels, five of them. Interestingly enough, I knit three and none of them were the same length, me with my elite knitting skills and all. So I unraveled all three panels and did what I should have done to begin with, which is to knit them as one piece. It's probably going to take a long time, and be incredibly heavy to lug around. I should really learn how to knit for real.

And a bonus Thing: I like the chicken sandwiches from Chik-Fil-A, and I like that they give Max a kid's book as a prize instead of a piece of plastic crap from a Disney film, but I am a little weirded out by a chicken restaurant run by Jesus freaks.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Roadmap Into The Heart of Darkness

The search terms that people use to find my blog just really crack me up. As my Grans would have said, "It takes all kinds." But honestly, this list gets longer, and weirder, all the time, and I feel like I must be nothing but a big disappointment to people who come here looking for "toothless faces" and "naughty Potter." I wish, more than anything, I'd called that entry something else. Anything else.

The big winner this month: Thanksgiving Dip. Hmm. I have to say that I am thankful without fail for almost all dip. Do you have something specific in mind? I can probably help you out, fan of dip that I am and all.

Oh Brother Where Art Thou and Brands of Car. Not really having any idea what those two things have in common, I can only assume that whoever this person was made it here a few times, then forgot my name and searched the only two things that stuck in their head to try to find me. Congratulations, and welcome back.

Is Owen A Trendy Baby Name. A little. Trina's on board but Kimberly says it sounds nerdy and Dan just generally hates it, so I guess it doesn't matter since I'm not pregnant anyway and the first kid's already got a name that's ended up being a hair too popular for my tastes anyway.

Heroine Uses. 1. Saving speeding passenger trains headed toward a cliff. 2. Being faster than a speeding bullet. 3. Gratuitous use of blue and red spandex. 4. Leaping tall buildings in a single bound. 5. Required componant of superhero eight-ball.

How To Convince Your Mom To Put Up The Tree. Put up the tree yourself and decorate it in the middle of the night while she's sleeping. She probably won't take it down once it's already up.

Bilbo's Dressing. Mmmmmm. It's got anchovies in it, and I don't care. Delicious. Also, for future reference, Google searchers, it actually comes from Gordon's Food Service and it's called "White French Dressing." Bilbo's re-packages it into their own jars. Just a little former-food-service-employee knowledge for you there.

Closing on a house is... Stressful. Terrifying. Ultimately incredibly disappointing. Wait, I don't know. My house never closed. Never mind. Seek answer elsewhere.

Carving the roast beast lyrics. Seriously, that's a song? Is it from the "High School Musical II" soundtrack?

Mom six sons. Two words for you: surgical sterilization.

Naughty Naked Thirteens. Step away from your keyboard and seek help. I recommend chemical castration. I am so not kidding.

Pizza Hut Commercial Mom I Love You Filmography. ...Wha?

Suburban Mom Hairstyle. Goes with high-waisted tapered-leg jeans, Crocs, and Christmas sweater.

There are others, but these are my favorite--or at least my favorite things to say sarcastic things about. Yay for Google Analytics and their keyword drilldown.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

In Celebration of the First Snowfall of the Year

Several years ago, my parents added a section to their back deck, including a large hot tub. Every year at Christmas, I insist on spending several hours a day simmering away in their hot tub in the Michigan snow, and every night, I insist that Dan perform Eddie Murphy's "Celebrity Hot Tub" routine before I allow him in the hot tub.

One of the great things about my husband: he indulges me to a really absurd degree.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let Me Make A Few Things Perfectly Clear

There is a blogger (who I will not name for fear of sending traffic her way, so let's just call her Bad Blogger) who is notorious on the Internet when it comes to being a troll. She is critical, nasty, and doesn't bother to actually understand what she's reading most of the time. This isn't really about the fact that she's a big, sucky uber-troll in my opinion and generally detracts from any discussion she joins, but about the fact that she's sort of a bad human being.

Her blog today criticizes a New England charitable organization that, among other things, supplies aid to Jewish families who apply for it. She evidently gets food from this organization each month, and applied to them for assistance with buying her children Chanukah gifts this year.

She's unhappy with the gifts that they bought her children and complaining that Russian Immigrants who "know how to work the system" get so much more than her.

I cannot tell you how much this bothers me. This bothers me more than I am even capable of expressing, and I'm pretty good at expressing.

Listen, I get it. I want to buy Max nice Christmas presents too. I wish that we could afford to get him a nice new big-boy bed. It's what he's said he wants. But we can't really afford it, and we don't have space to store his toddler bed and mattress, and it's just not a priority at this point, when the toddler bed is still functioning just fine and house prices are still as high as they are.

We would honestly rather get him out of this tiny little shoebox of a condo and into a place with a yard to play in and some room to spread out. That's for us too, but being a parent means that when you want, you want mostly for what it would mean to your child. Dan and I aren't thrilled with the condo, but if it were what was best for our family, we would stay indefinitely. Because that's what's best for our family. Get it? It's not about me. It doesn't have to be about me. I have a kid, so it's almost always about him. And I'm good with that.

Bad Blogger wants for her kids too, but the fact that she is angry enough to write about this agency and what they're not doing for her and for her kids--you know, there's a line. There's a line between loving your babies and wanting to see them light up on Christmas morning, and nothing ever being enough and taking aid from people who really need the roof somebody's putting over their head so that you can buy your kid an I-Phone or an I-Pod or a frickin' pony. Come the fuck on.

Bad Blogger claims to be poor, and yet her blog is literally plastered with ads, so many that it generally freezes my computer up every time the blog loads. She doesn't work for health reasons, and yet she manages to write for several different blogs and spend the rest of her day trolling for easy prey on the internet.

Bad Blogger subjects her readers to lectures about her liberal pet causes--she alternates them with posts about her Amazon Wish Lists and things that she'd like all her readers to buy for her. Sorry, Bad Blogger. No leopard high-heel boots from me this year.

And yes, I told her all of this (anonymously) in her comments. Why anonymously? Because I can live without her boring, pointless vitriol that way, way, way too many of her critics have been subject to. But you know what? I'd say it right to her face too, and she's clearly smart enough to come looking for me if she feels like it. So, my name is Molly and I think you suck a lot. I think you're a bad human being and a boring writer and I don't judge how other people parent but I think you enable your clearly spoiled-rotten children beyond all belief. You are the kind of person most people are thinking of when they say "crazy knee-jerk dumb-ass liberal," and that's coming from a liberal. I'm done reading your lame blog, even for the train-wreck value it had for me.

Bring it on, Bad Blogger. I will leave the light on for you.

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 30: The End

NaBloPoMo is almost over. I have successfully posted every day, even if it was some seriously stupid crap that I'm sure made you all stupider. November turned out to be a really rough month for me, what with three straight weeks of mother-in-law, a house deal falling apart four days before closing, losing our daycare spot and our apartment, and having to find and move to another apartment on a moment's notice. Also, I'm trying to get pregnant, as if anyone hadn't heard, and five negative pregnancy tests are a bit much to take, especially when I haven't seen hide nor hair of my period since September. Inexplicably missing.

To sum it up, this month I have:

  • Found out that my best friend has never had a snow-cone.
  • Had "attitude--like the firmest of melons" as the top search term on my blog for about three days.
  • Discovered that my husband thinks that monkeys are an acceptable form of dietary protein.
  • Ruminated on the lack of public domestic violence in my new neighborhood
  • Confessed to my old-lady addiction to knitting.
  • Watched a lot of Teen Girl Squad on YouTube.
  • Published my chili recipe.
  • Read about George Wallace, who was shot in a parking lot a few blocks from my home in 1972.
  • Was a total poop about Christmas. A Christmas Poop.
  • Published my 100th blog, learned cable stitch, and hated all over Pizza Hut.
  • Learned that my husband thinks I am not always full of wit and significance.
  • Got married to dip.
  • Was referred to as "iron chef" by my son.
  • Admitted to all of my guilty pleasures.
  • Watched my favorite baseball movie on TV.
  • Developed a number of brands of car that will probably never see the light of day.
  • Joined Cosco.
  • Fell in lust all over again with young Val Kilmer.
  • Realized that I could never be married to Will Farrell, because I don't think he has an off switch.
  • Became frustrated with my lack of anything to say about anything during a month in which I committed to saying something every day.
  • Made crabcakes, as well as the best cocktail sauce I have ever eaten.
  • Tried to figure out what "Boo boo chicken butt" means. Answer=nothing.
  • Discussed my hatred of non-multi-tasking kitchen tools.
  • Struggled with a decision of whether to watch a movie written by an author I don't like.
  • Searched the D.C. area for a dive bar with fried pickles. I did find one, incidentally, right down the street from my house, although it's not a dive bar and I'm really almost too embarassed to admit that Dan, Max and I had dinner last night at Hooters, and I am a little bothered by what that says about me and my feminist principles. But the pickles were great.
  • Put ads on my blog.
  • Hoped that I would never have the occasion to use the knowledge that sex with porcupines is illegal in Florida.
  • Made a Christmas list. But not really. But yeah, I really do want my boss to stop mis-pronouncing the word "ideas," so yeah, really.
  • Made this list.

NaBloPoMo is over as of midnight tonight, and I am glad, because now I can be reasoned and measured and sensible again, not just talking to hear my own voice. Please forgive me if you don't hear from me for a few days. I just really need a rest.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Things I Want From Santa Claus

1. The entire series of "The West Wing" on DVD. Or else some good TV to watch.

2. A tutorial on Excel spreadsheets, and why exactly a journalism major is considered to be "a pro" at them, as my boss intimated this morning before delivering a doozy of one for me to work on.

3. A house. After the big burn back in October, I'm starting to get house fever again. We'll start looking again after the holidays.

4. For "Entourage" to start running again on HBO. Sort of falls under number one.

5. New jeans. For some reason, none of my jeans are fitting. The pre-baby ones are too tight, the post-baby ones are too loose, and ironically, too short at the same time.

6. Some real winter weather. Our condo has a fireplace. Now if we could just get some snow.

7. A couple more pairs of Crocs, because you can never have too many. I just bought these for Max:

8. Dinner that I don't have to make tonight.

9. A vacation to look forward to sometime in the next few months. All I've got is President's Day weekend in Ocean City or maybe Rehoboth.

10. More yarn, and more skill at using it.

11. For my boss to stop saying "eye deers" when what she really means is ideas. Drives me nuts.

12. A better, smarter president in 2008, and more of a backbone for Congress.

13. A new matress and boxspring. We bought this one cheap right after we moved here, and boy did we get what we paid for. Which is to say that we paid for stiff necks, sproingy-sounding springs, and sagging in the middle of the mattress that means that Dan and I wake up piled all over each other in the middle of the bed every morning. Merry Christmas to all, and to me, a good night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 28: Prohibited

Did you know that...

  • In Belvedere, California, one City Council order reads: "No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash."
  • In Long Beach, California, it is illegal to curse on a mini-golf course.
  • The city of San Francisco is the only city in the nation to have ordinances guaranteeing sunshine to the masses.
  • In Denver, Colorado, it is illegal to drive a black car on Sundays.
  • It is illegal for barbers to give massages to nude customers unless they are for "instructional purposes" anywhere in Colorado.
  • Clamming at night is illegal in Connecticut.
  • In D.C., the federal government says that it is illegal to give false weather reports.
  • The following things are illegal in Florida: unmarried women parachuting on Sunday, farting in public after 6 p.m. on a Thursday, oral sex, having less than $10 on your person (but only in Pensacola), and sex with porcupines.
  • In Georgia, you are permitted to commit simple battery but only if provoked by "fighting words", but it is illegal to change the clothes on a mannequin unless the windowshades are lowered.
  • In Hawaii, you may be fined for not owning a boat.
  • In Boise, Idaho, it is illegal to fish from a giraffe's back.
  • Should you be overcome by an urge to copulate in your car in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, you needn't worry. Police officers aren't allowed to walk up and knock on the window. Any suspicious officer who thinks that sex is taking place must drive up from behind, honk his horn three times and wait approximately two minutes before getting out of his car to investigate.
  • Chicago law forbids eating in any establishment that is on fire.
  • In Normal, Illinois, it is against the law to make faces at dogs.
  • Also in Illinois, it is legal to protest naked in front of City Hall as long as you are under the age of seventeen and have the proper permit.
  • All males aged 18-50 must work six days per year on public roads.
  • The following things are illegal in Indiana: passing a horse on the street, a liquor store selling cold soft drinks, for a man to be sexually aroused in public, for barbers to threaten to cut off kid's ears, to sell cars on Sunday.
  • You can, however, satisfy any obligation to pay for a dependant's medical care in Indiana by praying for him/her.
  • In Marshaltown, Iowa, it is illegal for horses to eat fire hydrants.
  • There is an ordinance prohibiting whale hunting in Kansas.
  • It is illegal in Kentucky to marry the same man more than three times.
  • In Lexington, it is illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket.
  • By law, anyone who has been drinking in Kentucky is "sober" until he or she "cannot hold onto the ground."
  • Also in Kentucky: "No person shall sell, exchange, offer to sell or exchange, display or possess living baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits which have been dyed or colored; nor dye or color any baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl or rabbits; nor sell, exchange, offer to sell or exchange or to give away baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl or rabbits, under two months of age in any quantity less than six, except that any rabbit weighing three pounds or more may be sold at an age of six weeks. Any person who violates this section shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500." (Did that remind anyone of Lloyd's speech from "Say Anything" about not wanting to buy, sell, or process anything?)
  • Mourners at a wake in Louisiana may not eat more than three sandwiches.
  • In Maryland, it is illegal to sell condoms from vending machines with one exception: prophylactics may be dispensed from a vending machine only "in places where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises."
  • Also in Maryland, it is illegal to give or receive oral sex.
  • In Massachusetts, bullets may not be used as currency.

You know, I'm going to stop right there. You never know when I might be short a blog post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 27: It's Not What You Think

So I agreed, sort of against my will, to add Google AdSense ads to our work website. Maybe it'll generate some something, maybe not, I have no idea. But because it's free and fairly user-friendly, and as sort of a training exercise, I've added an ad banner to this page.

No, I'm not looking to make money off this blog. I have no illusions about this at all. My twenty-odd readers a day will probably generate me a grand total of $.30 over the next five years. But I need to get it figured out to make it work for my job, and this is as good a place as any to go ahead and work it out.

I hope it's not too offensive to you for me to run a few ads on here. It may not last, but I'm trying it out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 26: So Much Better Than it Sounds

Attention all Washington D.C.-area lurkers: I need you to throw off the veil of silence. I am of course assuming that I have any Washington D.C.-area readers, other than the ones I already know about.

Please recommend somewhere to me where I can get fried dill pickles--good ones too, not those boring crusty things served with "a light remoulade" in a restaurant with tablecloths. Nowhere on this menu should the words "Market Price" appear. I'm thinking dive bar here, people, I'm thinking beer-battered dill pickles and Miller Genuine Draft.

Don't worry, I'm not about to break out into, I don't know, karaoke, or start a bar fight or something. I've just been thinking about the fried dill pickles all day, and wondering where I can find them outside of the state of Michigan.

I bet the bar around the corner from my in-laws' house serves them. They serve deep-fried duck tenders. We'll be in Michigan over Christmas, maybe I should wait. Nah, why wait? I should have listed fried pickles on my guilty pleasures list a few weeks ago.

Who thinks I'm writing about food too much lately? Me too. Luckily, NaBloPoMo is almost over, and I can take a break. I'm starting to think the Internet might be getting full, and it might be my fault.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 25: Choking Down My Vegetables

We just watched "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" on Encore. I had forgotten how smart and funny and good that movie is. I do love the Coen Brothers, as misanthropic as they are sometimes. It makes me want to go see "No Country for Old Men," and not just because Javier Bardem has those eyes. You know.

It's just Cormac McCarthy that I'm not crazy about. I read "All the Pretty Horses" and it was like eating my lima beans: not at all to my liking, but I'm aware that it was very popular and stylish and all the cool kids were eating lima beans at the time. But oh Madonna Penn Ritchie, the book had no quotation marks! I freakin' hate that! I actually started putting them into the book with a pen as I read, just because it was unbearable. No quotation marks!

Well, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke is what I always say. I just can't stomach what doesn't appeal. The movie Lost In Translation was excruciating for me--just genuinely awful, despite the wonderful acting and the critical success. I feel like Elaine on Seinfeld, when she admitted that she hated The English Patient. Am I remembering that right? Jerry made out with a girl during Schindler's List...I don't know. Maybe I'm imagining all of that.

Do you have one of those books or movies that people insisted you had to read, and you found distateful, uninteresting, badly-crafted, against all other popular reviews?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 24: Kitchen Prejudice

I have something against kitchen things that only do one, very limited thing. My mother-in-law bought me an avacado slicer for Christmas a few years ago. I have an avacado slicer already--it's called a knife. It also doubles as a tomato slicer, a mushroom slicer, a chicken breast golly, it really slices just about anything. The avacado slicer slices just avacados, and from the looks of it, it doesn't really perform that one single task that well.

Alton Brown annoys me a little bit, but he is just really right about kitchen gadgets. I believe in tools that multi-task. An olive pitter? No thanks; my meat mallet and a clean kitchen towel do the same thing in a lot less time. Lemon zester? Nope, microplane. Did you know that there's a tool that forms cute little butter balls? Dear God, why? I am prone to putting the butter on the table on a plain old ordinary plate. If I like you, I'll unwrap it from the paper wrapper. Just lop off whatever you like.

Since moving out of my parents' home, I've never had a huge kitchen, the kind of food that a food nerd like me really wants. The one I have now is perhaps the most sensibly-designed that I've ever had, and I am still short on space. If you had no limit on space in your kitchen and you didn't have to worry about things like multi-tasking kitchen tools, what's the kitchen tool you wouldn't ever have to live without?

I am ridiculously practical. Mine is my Cuisinart Classic Food Processor, with the 14-cup bowl. I use it almost every day for everything from making salsa to shredding cheese to chopping vegetables to making bread dough. It is obscenely versatile, can do just about anything, and works like a champ. A close second would be my 6-quart cast iron enameled Dutch oven. It's not an Emile Henry or anything. It came from Target, and cost, I think, somewhere around $40. But this particular one was Chef's Illustrated's runner up, right behind the Le Crueset one that cost something like $315. It's oven-safe to something like 500 degrees, tough as nails, perfectly even when browning meat, with a tight-fitting lid that rarely lets a drop of braising liquid get away. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking about what I need to buy for carbonnade a la flamande, a Belgian beef stew made with dark beer and onions that comes out perfectly in this pot. My mother-in-law gave me one for Christmas last year, but I actually already owned it, so it's still sitting in its box in my pantry, waiting for me to remember to give it to Kimberly next time I see her (I've now forgotten three different times).

Friday, November 23, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 23: BooBoo Chicken Butt

BooBoo Chicken Butt is what Max has been saying all day. Usually when addressing me.

(During breakfast)
Me: Max, do you want scrambled eggs or yogurt?
Max: Yogurt, BooBoo Chicken Butt, please.

(When being tucked into bed at bedtime by Dan and I)
Dan: Good night, Max. I love you.
Max: Night-night, Daddy.
Me: Night-night, Max. Sleep tight.
Max: Night-night, BooBoo Chicken Butt.

And so on. My only question is, Max gets the words "chicken" and "kitchen" mixed up, so is it possible that he is calling me "BooBoo Kitchen Butt?" Does that make any more sense than the other thing?

Also possible: I occasionally refer to Max as "Booboo." When Dan's mother and nephew were here last month, Justin taught Max to say "Guess what? Chicken butt." It's possible that he's combined the two seemingly unconnected things in his head, I guess.

Sometimes I look at this kid and I can't figure out what I'm looking at. By which I mean, not in some kind of existential, metaphorical way, but sometimes I really can't understand a fucking thing he says to me. And I'm aware that it will probably only get worse.
Yesterday's alternative Thanksgiving dinner was a qualified success. The shrimp and cocktail sauce were absolutely delicious, as were the sausage poppers (I'm sorry, Kimberly, I just can't call them sausage balls--at least not without laughing). The water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and glazed with teriyaki were good, but I didn't care for that particular kind of teriyaki sauce--it tasted vaguely burned. The crab cakes were good, not great, but the homemade tartar sauce was delicious. The crab and artichoke dip--well, that's one of my specialties, and in my opinion, it can't be beat. The clam dip with bacon and scallions is also very good, but I'm not quite sure what to do with it. It was okay with veggies, but left something to be desired. Potato chips, I think, maybe? Or crackers of some kind. Triscuits. I have piles of everything leftover, except the shrimp which we ate all of, thanks to BooBoo Chicken Butt, who ate about twenty of them all by himself. He kept asking for them by name, except coming from him, "shrimps" sounds just like "shits."

Dan and I did not shop this morning. We went out to Target this afternoon and picked up a few presents, but the crowds had thinned considerably by then. Other than that, we are laying low this weekend. Hope everyone had a good holiday. Enjoy the long weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 22: Turkey Lurkey Dee

Happy Thanksgiving. I gotta go make some crabcakes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 21: Not Really Saying Anything At All

I have really been struggling the last couple of days. For one thing, I'm in a bit of a funk. Tuesday, during our staff meeting, when the CEO asked me what I was thankful for, I managed to squeak out "I'm just thankful," without bursting into totally inexplicable tears. I think it's all the change lately, all the fucking change with which I am just no good at all and never have been. I will adjust, and I will almost certainly be fine, but I am just a disaster this week, a much too emotional pile of raw nerves and over-sensitivity and general dysfunction. Please bear with me.

Also, Eden over at Fussy put it this way:

"Posting this much has forced me to admit to myself that I put things up on
this site so that I can hold them away from myself and admire them, and it takes
a tremendous ego to invite you to admire them, too, whether it's some little
truth I've realized, or another web site I've found, or a picture of my dog, or
for heaven's sake I try to sell you a t-shirt.

The crushing weight of this realization has humbled me to the point where
I'd certainly like to erase this whole sordid mess and that, of course, is the
point one reaches in any creative endeavor, when your homemade little boat is
becalmed in the middle of an ancient sea, the shore is days (years/a lifetime)
away, you're out of good snacks and nothing fun's on TV so why not just lie down
quietly and wait for your whole personality to disintegrate.

But instead? You post until you find something to say, you write your way
out of your personal abyss, or you knit one more row or run one more mile,
whatever it is you love doing so much that sometimes you hate it."

Oh my goodness, yes. You've hit the nail right on the head, Eden, beacause I am just so unimpressed with all of the vanity and froth that I've posted over the last three weeks. I've been concentrating so hard on putting something, anything, on this website, that I have really given little thought to what it was that I was posting, and I am really disappointed in myself.

I had a dream when I was in college that I was a writer and I woke up and realized that all of my boring posturing when it came to other pursuits were really just so much screwing around for no real purpose whatsoever, and I decided that whatever else I did with my life, it would always involve me writing somehow, because it was at the core of me somehow, the language I was fluent in. I write for a living now, boring things that I trained for like media releases and articles on debt and credit and foreclosure and grant proposals. I love my job and I am really becoming excellent at it, but it doesn't satisfy this itch, this bug to create something more interesting than most of what else I read on a daily basis. And so, I do this.

I have a collection of bloggers, most of whom are women and all of whom are brilliant, that I read regularly, and because they are just so good and are publishing some of the smartest, funniest, most remarkable writing I have seen in a long time. People say that blogging makes tripe widely accessable, and in a lot of cases that is true. But if you think that's the only product of blogging, I defy you to find anything more lovely and tender than this. I defy you to not let this move you, to ever forget what these people saw and experienced and are living through. I defy you not to laugh out loud at this, and lots of what else she's written, and find yourself coming back every day to read about the Science Babies.

There is great writing on the internet. There really is. I am disappointed in my contribution to it lately, but don't stop reading, because there is genius out there and it can move you and make you laugh and make you think about it long after you turned off the computer. It can make you feel like you know someone you've never met, and it can make you cross your fingers for them or sit in your office and cry or laugh out loud until you cry.

I am a better writer because I read blogs. I am a better writer than the uninteresting drivel I've put up the last three weeks. I assure you that I am a better writer than this, and I apologize for letting you down, especially if you were here hoping I was going to be interesting or topical or pithy. I have no excuse for how bad I've been recently, but I pledge to you, internet, and to myself, to do better.

Here is another thing: I made two kinds of dip last night. One is crab-artichoke dip, and the other is clam dip with bacon and scallions. They are both delicious. Tonight: chipotle tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. I'm just really quite pleased with myself in that regard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Gold Plated Diapers

Goddammit, this week is too busy and I'm too sapped to write anything.

This is really comedy genius, though. Watch Jimmy Fallon as the drummer lose it totally at 4:20.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 19: It is possible to synthesize excited bromide in an argon matrix.

In 1985, I was in fourth grade. Val Kilmer was my first real crush. This is why.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 18: Almost Certainly Too Much Information

I am on day number 47 of this absolutely interminable cycle, and except for three days of barely discernable spotting last week, there is nary a sign of my period.

I have taken three extremely sensitive pregnancy tests and they are all negative.

I know, without a doubt, that we have only the very slimmest chance of being pregnant this time around--what with all the stress and the moving and the poorly timed science-based sex. I really should have just given up the ghost this month and not kept track. All it does is make me crazy, crazier than usual.

Okay, this is me shutting up about all of this. I'm tiresome even to myself.

Dan and I joined Cosco yesterday, because Sam's Club is an hour away now. It seems basically the same, only without Pampers. What the fuck? Why don't you carry Pampers, Cosco?

I'm watching "Mission Impossible" on AMC. Is this seriously considered an American Movie Classic? Why is this movie so freaking awful? Is it because I loathe Tom Cruise so much?

Remember a week ago, when I was mad at Pizza Hut? We ordered pizza from Papa John's tonight, and it arrived in a timely manner, hot, fresh, and perfectly made. It was delicious and cost less than Pizza Hut and we are perfectly pleased. When ordering pizza in the Laurel, Maryland, area, take my advice, internet, and order not from Pizza Hut.

Pardon this less-than-totally-interesting post. I am slightly obsessed with my absent period and I promise to make it up to you tomorrow, maybe with some dancing midgets on YouTube or something.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 17: No Possible Marketing Campaign Will Ever Make This Okay

I was thinking on the way to work yesterday about car make/model combinations that would never work. What got me thinking about it was the Chevy Avalanche, and the realization that the name was based on something potentially disasterous.

Dan and I used to stay up late at night thinking about things like this. When we were first dating, we once stayed up half the night making up haiku about people we worked with. He has helped me come up with the following:

  • The Subaru Tsunami
  • The Chevrolet Cholera
  • The Cadillac Coitus, and the sub-compact model Cadillac Coitus Interruptus
  • The Mercury Mulatto
  • The Toyota Tourette
  • The Saab FU69
  • The Chrysler Chlamydia
  • The Suzuki Smegma
  • The Ford F-Word
  • The Volkswagon Vulva (Brings new meaning to the words "New car smell.")
  • The Lincoln Lethargy
  • The Izuzu Impotence
  • The Acura Alzheimer (Comes standard with built-in navigational device)
  • The Pontiac Prioprism
  • The Mercedes Mathausen (Just because a joke is never funny if you have to explain it, Mathausen was a Nazi forced labor camp in Austria from 1938-1945.) Built to compete for the same market as the BMW Buchenwald.

I could go on and on, but, as usual, I'm not sure if I'm being funny or just juvenile, but we had lots of fun making the list. Any suggestions, besides "Stop eating lead paint chips?"

Friday, November 16, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 16: This Post Brought to you by the Letter B

Dan and I (and Max) had dinner tonight at a restaurant called The Greene Turtle. It was delicious, exactly the kind of neighborhood bar we've been trying to find since we left Michigan and the Main Street Pub, where Dan proposed to me (with a napkin ring initially, given the impromptu nature of the proposal), and where we used to eat a couple of nights a week--Dan was working in the restaurant in the evenings and taking a grad class and most nights not getting home until after 11. The Greene Turtle is maybe half a mile from our condo, reasonably priced, and with excellent wings and drink specials. Just one more reason why our old neighborhood sorta sucks, and our new one really is just awesome.

"Bull Durham" is on AMC tonight. This is one of my very favorite baseball movies of all time, even if Kevin Costner is a self-indulgent jackass in real life.

Michigan!! For Christmas!! Trina and Gerry and Joy and Kyle!! There's something great about friends that knew you before you were a reasonable and responsible grownup. By far some of my favorite people. I'm starting to feel a little less meh about Christmas.

Max just got out of his big boy bed and came out to the living room. It's the first time he's done it, and he's been sleeping in it for three weeks. I walked him back to bed and tucked him back in without a word except "Night-night." He's back in bed now, but I have a sinking dread that this isn't going to be the last time we put him to bed more than once in a night. Anybody have any advice on how you convince a toddler that he wants to stay in bed?

I watched "The Departed" last weekend, and I have a wee crush on all of the following: Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. I also sort of love The Dropkick Murpheys. Yes indeed, Irish punk seems like just the thing to get sloppy drunk to. It could be because I am related to a number of Irish punks.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Guilty Pleasures

I seldom feel a lot of guilt over things that I enjoy. I mean, if it's really that bad for me, chances are I'm avoiding it. I'm sort of practical and dull that way. But, that being said, I do have some guilty pleasures.

1. Fabulous food. I am not really that picky an eater, and in fact, I will eat just about anything as long as it's not Doritos or fish. But I love really great, fattening, decadent food, like seared diver scallops with beurre blanc or osso bucco or some $40 a pound bleu cheese with toasted walnuts and dried figs and honey and fresh fall Asian pears. I'm talking total once-in-a-blue-moon food.

2. My couch. Almost everyone hates my couch but me. It is deep, really deep, so deep that my feet don't touch the floor when I sit all the way back. It's so long I can lie on it and neither my head or my feet touch the arms. It is big, soft, a perfect curling-up-and-settling-in couch.

3. Art projects. I love being creative. I have a million knitting projects going, I have decoupage materials in a box on my bookshelves upstairs, and I have a great idea for Christmas presents that I need to get down to business with this weekend. Dan is in a mild state of despair at the state of our home as it's taken over by my creative pursuits, but even he likes the final product.

4. Bad TV. Like Trina, I don't limit myself to awful television. I like lots of good stuff, including my current obsession with "The West Wing." But I also am a big fan of "Dawson's Creek." It's such shlock, it really is. But it's the very best shlock out there.

5. Ice cream. Being diabetic, I rarely eat ice cream, and when I do, I only have a little. But oh, ice cream. I love it. All kinds.

6. Oversized sweatshirts. There is just something about snuggling into a shirt that needs its own zip code. I am such a fall person, if just for the clothes.

7. Crocs. I have a whole bunch of them, and I'm ordering more. My boss loathes them--she wears pointy-toed death stilletos from the 80's--so I ordered her a pair too.

8. Blogs. I found a new one today, called "New and Improved Stereotypes." There are so many great ideas out there. Without the internet, there is so much smart and funny and sad and beautiful I would have missed out on.

9. Christmas Eve. I vastly prefer it to Christmas.

10. Target. Target has everything, and at reasonable prices, and it is always in a convenient and accessable place.

11. My son's kisses. I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about the fact that I would, without hesitation, wake him up give him kisses, and he loves giving them almost as much as I love the fact that I created this adorable little person.

12. Hot Tubs. My parents, a few years ago, put on an addition to their deck and added a six-person hot tub. It is the one thing that is making me look forward to Christmas at their house--the thought that I can go and sit in the hot tub in the snow every night for a couple hours.

13. My car. I drive a Chrysler Town & Country minivan, after always having tiny little cars my whole life. I will never go back.. The T&C is tall and spacious and convenient. Like me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Tonight, while watching me make dinner (pattymelts and salad), Max called me "Iron Chef." Hilarious.

If I were one of the Iron Chefs, I would probably be Bobby Flay. I like his whole southwestern aesthetic. Mario Batali looks rotund and friendly and you gotta love a guy who is so loyal to his Crocs, but he's always cooking up slices of calf brains or something that is totally unappealing to me. Masuhirohitohashidashi Morimoto...well, I can't pronounce his name, and I'm really not that into Asian food, so that's not really me. And Cat Cora...I've seen her lose more Iron Chef battles than she's won, and I would totally be in it to win it.

The best part about Iron Chef is the beginning. I can't remember if it's the original Japanese one or Iron Chef America, but in one of them, the chairman takes a giant bite out of a yellow bell pepper, and then gets this very strange expression on his face...I would describe it as smug satisfaction. The guy is kinda loony, I think, but I really enjoy his sense of drama.

Thursday Thirteen tomorrow. Kimberly says it's not her turn to pick, and I can't remember if it's me or Trina, so my thought is Thursday Thirteen Guilty Pleasures, and if Trina's got a better idea, I am totally open to it.

Dan is sick and I am taking Max to daycare in the morning and picking him up at night. It adds around four hours to my day and it's kicking my ass, so forgive me if I am less than totally full of good ideas right now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 13: Announcing my Upcoming Nuptuals

I have made a decision: this year we are going to be alone for Thanksgiving, and I do not feel obliged to make a big traditional meal that I don't care about. I don't particularly want to make a whole turkey, or any part of a turkey's anatomy. I'm not good at it, for starters. I do all the things you're supposed to do: I brine, I turn, I baste, and I even put the little cheesecloth sweater on the turkey to help keep it moist. I ignore the pop-out timer and I use my brain-surgeon-precise meat thermometer (although why a brain surgeon needs a meat thermometer, I do not know.) I rest under loosely tented foil. And whatever I do, my turkey is dry and dull and not at all appealing. There's too much leftover, and I feel obligated to try to use it all up. And I didn't like it that much to start with.

In fact, my favorite things to eat on Thanksgiving are the munchies that always get put out to stave off starvation. My mother has a tendency to go overboard and take forever to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which means more munchies than actual food. Maybe that's why I'm not that interested in Thanksgiving dinner: by the time it finally rolls around, I've filled up on an entire afternoon's worth of nibbles.

I've already declared my love of dip here. This year, on Thanksgiving, dip and I will be getting married in an intimate, romantic, and extremely joyful ceremony. Maybe on a boat. Among other things, this year I am giving thanks for dip.

So, here's my menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Also known as my wedding reception:

  • Homemade mini crabcakes with Creole remoulade
  • Chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Tomato-basil bruschetta with balsalmic reduction
  • Water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and tossed with teriyaki
  • Hot crab and artichoke dip with homemade pita chips
  • Crudite with garlic-dill dip
  • A big-ass salad with black olive-thyme vinaigrette

I can't tell you how excited I am by this menu. It is not traditional or well-balanced or particularly nutritious, and I could not possibly eat this way every day. But, that being said, I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, and it's been awhile since I did for any kind of culinary reason.

Monday, November 12, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 12: According to Dan: Inspired

Tonight, while making dinner:

Molly: Do me a favor? Turn on the TV and try to find me something to blog about tonight.

Dan: (Flipping through the channels) I got it. A family of midgets on vacation in a giant RV at the Grand Canyon.

Molly: Yeah, I can't really write about that.

Dan: Are you kidding me? That's wrought with significance.

Molly: To whom?

Dan: Well, to the midgets at the Grand Canyon, for starters.

Molly: I don't really have anything to say about that.

Dan: Never stopped you before.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 11: Two Items

Item Number One: Yesterday was my 100th blog entry. Sorry about all the emo. I'm just feeling not so hippity-hoppity about Christmas this year. I'll come about.

Item Number Two: I've started another afghan. It's made with leftover wool from what was supposed to be Gerry and Trina's wedding present, an afghan that Max has taken an extremely strong liking to and which, regrettably, I doubt I'll be able to give away. This new one is made up of panels of cables in Lion's Pride Thick 'n' Quick Wool-Ease Wheat color. It looks like this:

I am actually quite pleased with myself for having gotten the hang of doing cables, what with being self-taught and all. This was a pretty good project to learn on. If you want it, the pattern is here.

Oh, and one last thing: Dear Pizza Hut, go eat a bag of dicks. No, when you order a cheese lover's pizza, you shouldn't be able to see more of the crust than you can of the toppings. I don't need to work at Pizza Hut to know that. I also don't need to work for a credit card company to know that I can dispute the charges. I took pictures and everything, losers, so get ready to lose this little skirmish in your war on pizza-eating America. This whole thing is so far beneath me, I can't believe I'm even talking about you, except to tell everyone with an internet connection: AVOID THE BALTIMORE AVENUE PIZZA HUT IN LAUREL, you worthless bunch of feckless thugs. Love, Molly.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 10: Carving The Roast Beast

I really know that I should love Christmas more than I do. I love parts of it. I love being around my family. I love Christmas food. I love the party my mother has every year on Christmas Eve, where all of my parents' friends come over when they feel like it and stay as long as they feel like staying. There is just something hilarious to me about all those geriatrics drinking all my parents' good booze. I love being a parent on Christmas. That is by far the best part.

But as I get older, Christmas seems to be more and more annoyingly commercial, and I feel more and more like the Grinch--the original one, not Jim Carrey in that sponsored-by-Pepsi-Cola hot mess that came out a few years ago. Trina's annual rant about inflatable Christmas yard decorations hit home today when Dan and I went to Lowe's looking for a new showerhead and were greeted by a gigantic aisle full of inflatables. It was tacky times infinity, commercial, and plastic. It was everything that sort of makes me dread this time of year.

I wish it could be just the fun parts, you know? I wish it could be the good stuff, without worrying about last-minute trips to the mall and the traffic. Three years ago, Dan and I flew back to Michigan on the 23rd. Our plane out of Detroit was cancelled, as was every other flight. I was thirteen weeks pregnant and queasy, and there were 14,000 people stranded in the airport without a hotel room or rental car or a flight. To make matters worse, they lost our luggage, and we were without any clothes, our presents, or anything else for four days. It made me wish I had never left my house.

I must be a glutton for punishment, because we're doing it again this year, this time with a two-year-old. My mother wasn't really up for taking no for an answer, and she bought plane tickets to Michigan before we really could tell her that we just weren't up for it after all we'vebeen through this fall. I hope I won't be too big a pain in anybody's ass, and I hope by time Christmas rolls around, I've gotten myself together a little, because I'm wishing again I had a good excuse never to leave my house.

Friday, November 9, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Six Degrees of Segregation

Arthur Bremer was released from a medium-security prison in Hagerstown, Maryland this morning.

Who's Arthur Bremer? He shot Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1972, in my newly adopted hometown of Laurel, Maryland, during a campaign stop for Wallace's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for President.

Governor Wallace is famous (or perhaps infamous) for having stood in the schoolhouse door in 1963 to keep black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama. A fiery segregationist who once vowed "Segregation forever," Wallace had backed away from his racist views by 1972, although he continued to denounce busing of children to integrate schools and pledged to "restore law and order." That phrase is regarded as a coded appeal to white racists.

According to the diary of Arthur Bremer, which was found in a landfill in 1980, his attempted assassination of the governor was motivated by a desire for attention, not a response to Wallace's political views. Bremer also stalked President Nixon.

Here's what interesting to me, though: the character of deranged Travis Bickle in the movie "Taxi Driver" was based in part on Arthur Bremer. John Hinkley was obsessed with "Taxi Driver," and in 1981 shot President Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress Jodi Foster, who co-starred in the film.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Things I'm Grateful For

1. Dan. Like Kimberly and Trina, I am so grateful to the person in my life who loves me unconditionally and whole-heartedly, who wants to be next to me forever, who laughs at my jokes (and frequently laughs at me), who holds my hand in the grocery store. I am so thankful to have him for a partner.

2. Max. Dan is my partner and my best friend and the love of my life, but I am increasingly convinced that Max is the reason I was born. Grateful is exactly what I am to be raising this sweet boy.

3. Central air conditioning. Not so much now, but come August, spend a little time with me someplace without air conditioning and find out how mean I am when I'm too hot. You'll be grateful for central air conditioning too.

4. High speed internet. I don't know. I think I could live with dial-up again. I hope I won't have to.

5. Injectable insulin. Mmm, yeah. Without it, pretty much everything is a moot point for me.

6. "Friends" re-runs. The scene where Joey tries to teach Ross to talk dirty is maybe one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

7. My job. I have a great job with smart people where I have a chance to perform at the top of my game and be recognized for what I accomplish. I know not a lot of people have a chance to feel as fulfilled by their job as I do.

8. My family. Oh, they drive me crazy, but they are mine. They love me and support me and they're there when I need them. Frequently, they're there when I don't want them to see me looking stupid too, but it's okay. I'll take it all.

9. My friends. The people who have known me a long time know all my layers, and there is great security in knowing that someone knows you well, and gets it.

10. My washer and drier. To follow with Kimberly's indoor plumbing theme, I don't see myself pounding my clothes on a rock. I would have invent disposable clothing, and then I would have to be grateful for disposable clothing.

11. Williams & Sonoma. I will eventually not be poor and starved for kitchen storage space, and when I am, I am going to Williams & Sonoma and I am going to just lose my mind.

12. Talent. I have a few things I can do. I can write. I can knit. I can cook. I can do crossword puzzles. I am glad I can do them, because they allow me to make a living, create things, feed and amuse myself.

13. My home. Throughout the chaos over the last few weeks, I have become increasingly grateful for the fact that I have a roof over my head. There are a lot of people who get painted into a corner much the same as Dan and I did, and there isn't anyone to help them or any opportunities left. I am thankful that I've had that, that people have helped us, and that we're now comfortable and settled in a condo that, while not officially ours, feels like home in a way that our apartment never did.

I love NaBloPoMo! Having no excuse not to write something or at least find something interesting to show people is great for me. I can't guarantee I'll always be interesting, or relevant, or not thoroughly inappropriate, but I am really enjoying it. I'd love suggestions on what to write, or if you'd like to ask me some sort of question or know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 7: In Which Our Heroine Uses The Word "Tomatoey" Twice In Two Sentences

Last night for dinner, I had a cheese sandwich. Blah. I really like to eat better than this, but we just moved and before that we were trying to whittle down our pantry, so we have really only done minimal grocery shopping since this weekend. I announced after my cheese sandwich last night, however, that this situation was unacceptable.

Dan and I both have a sizable commute now, and cooking elaborate meals on a weeknight has become considerably less feasable. I think that we're going to come to rely rather heavily on our crockpot.

When I bought this crockpot, I was replacing one that had served me faithfully through three relationships, a move to another state, and lots of chili, spaghetti sauce, pot roast, corned beef and cabbage, and vegetable soup. The old one was becoming inconsistent, occasionally burning the bottom of the pot, and was really too small to leave us with good portions of leftovers.

I had a couple of requirements for a new crockpot: I wanted one with an automatic timer, so things wouldn't cook to a fair-thee-well while I was at work all day, and a warm setting to hold things for a few hours. I wanted the biggest one I could reasonably store. The one I found is all of these things and it's terrific.

After I finished my cheese sandwich, I went grocery shopping. The temperature has really dropped in the last few days, and I'm wearing a wool coat to work again. When I walked in the door, I wanted a big pot of chili to be bubbling away waiting for me.

Much as I like the sound of my own voice nattering away here on the internet, I love my own cooking. I know everyone has a chili recipe that they like and are loyal to, but I've tasted some truly hideous chili. A friend of a friend has this foul concoction he makes that he calls "Male Chauvinist Chili." It involves a lot of different kinds of meat, including bacon, in a very thin, greasy, bland broth. And I fully respect the fact that my chili will not win any prizes with people who go for beans in their chili, because I think beans are bland, mushy islands of nothingness in chili. Be like the Cincinnatians, I always say: throw the beans on top if you really have to have them.

Here is my recipe for overnight, slow-cooker chili. I like it with cornbread when I have time to make cornbread and just regular bread when I don't have time to make cornbread, with shredded cheese, chopped onion, and diced tomato over top. Dan likes it with all of those things, plus some sour cream, but I think, why gild the lilly? It's not particularly tomatoey, but that's preference. You can add some additional diced tomatoes at the end, like another can or two, if you like really tomatoey chili

2-2 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
2 1/2 pounds lean (like 85% lean) ground beef (some grocery stores carry a "chili grind," which is a little coarser than regular ground beef. That's pretty good. Sometimes I grind my own beef: sirloin, in 2-inch cubes, in the freezer for about half an hour to firm it up, then pulsed in the food processor in one-second pulses, about fifteen or twenty times. It's leaner, and you get good irregular-sized chunks that are, I guess, more authentic than regular ground beef.)
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chili powder
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. ground chipotle chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne (or more if you like it hotter.)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (the little flakes that come in the shaker-top thing in pizza restaurants, this is very hot and you can leave it out if you're not into the spicy.)
1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt (this sounds like a lot, but remember that it's seasoning five pounds of meat and vegetables. Adjust as you see fit.)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (give or take) chicken or beef broth (really, it doesn't make a lot of difference. I've used both. Use whatever you've got on hand.)
1 can of tomato paste (whatever size those are, I can't remember. They're that little can.)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of masa, or corn flour (this is not the same as corn meal, and corn meal can't be substituted, unless you wants some seriously gritty chili.)

In a big skillet, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over high heat. Throw in the onions and the garlic and stir them. They shouldn't burn. When they're golden, turn on your kitchen fan and throw in all of the spices--the chili powders, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir everything around and let the spices toast up a little. Try not to breathe too deeply, or it'll be like pepper-gassing yourself.

Throw all of this into your crockpot or slow cooker and turn it on low. Put the pan back over medium heat and crumble the pork into the pan, and cook it until it's no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or a spatula or a whatever it is that you like to use for this kind of thing. Throw that in the crockpot too. Brown the beef. Stir in the tomato paste and work it in really well, let it cook for a few minutes in the skillet.

Throw the beef mixture into the crockpot. Stir everything together. Pour in the broth and mix it all up, put the lid on the crockpot, and let it cook for...well, as long as you can. Overnight is great. If you start it in the morning before you go to work, that's good too.

Maybe an hour or so before you're ready to eat, mix together the diced tomatoes and the masa, and stir all of this into the chili. I put the tomatoes in at the end so that they'll still taste nice and fresh, not cooked and decimated. The masa is corn flour. It does two things: it thickens the whole thing up a little, and it gives it this really yummy, corny, Mexican taste. You can usually find Masa in a grocery store that has a good-sized Latino crowd. I cannot emphasize to you how big a difference good-quality canned tomatoes make. I am a fan of Muir Glen Organic brand. They are pricy, but totally worth it. America's Test Kitchen, who does a lot of testing and recommending brands and products, is pushing Redpack now. They say not to use imported brands--something about food tariffs and tomatoes packed in puree versus juice...I don't know. I quit listening. Find a kind you like and be loyal. This makes a LOT of chili. I really mean it. You should maybe invite some friends over. Tell them to bring some beers.

I like stuff on top of my chili. Cheese: good. Chopped onion: good. If it's not particularly spicy chili, I like chopped jalapenos. Minced cilantro: if it's handy. Chopped fresh tomato: Yum.

With the leftovers, I like to make a chili-cheese omelet: microwave maybe 1/3 of a cup of the leftover in a micro-safe container to warm it up. Beat three eggs with a couple of tablespoons of water. Throw a teaspoon or so of butter into a nonstick (NONSTICK!! HEED MY ADVICE!!) frying pan over medium heat. When it melts, pour the eggs into the pan. Do not move them around, or you will have scrambled eggs. When they firm up so that they're really just wet, not runny at all, put the leftover chili on one half of the eggs. Sprinkle some cheese, some onion, whatever of those chili toppings turn you on, over the chili. Dramatically flip the omelet closed like a book with the chili inside, preferrably with someone watching you. This is actually quite a swell fix for a hangover.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 6: For Your Consideration

I am running a little low on clever today. Here's this instead.

Monday, November 5, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 5: Knit-Picky

When I was in high school and still lame enough to try to make people think I was cool (I fooled no one at all, just for the record), I would never have admitted to having a hobby so old-ladyish as knitting. Of course, when I was in high school, I didn't have a hobby that old-ladyish. I was too busy being on the ski team and being outdoorsy. Outdoorsy, yuck. Lame.

Of course, at my elevated age, I have given up all pretense of being cool and I am totally out of the closet as being a die-hard fan of knitting. One of the very best things about my new condo, the thing that made my husband say "Oh, Christ!" as soon as he saw it? It's the Michael's in the shopping center around the corner. I have become slightly critical of Michael's in the last few months, because I think they carry too much crappy yarn and not enough natural fiber in non-offensive colors. But they do carry a decent stock of soy-dyed wool and some nice 100% cotton yarn, so I won't complain too loudly. They've even started carrying a bamboo-acrylic blend, which, while it isn't as delicious as the bamboo silk that Kimberly was using the last time she was here, is pretty soft and cuddly.

I am working on several projects. I always have a baby blanket going, at least one, and more than one right now. My BFF is pregnant, (whoo hoo!!) so I have a little special something going on for her peanut. My office is seriously cold, so I'm working on a wrap in an indigo hand-dyed alpaca-wool blend. I would like to try socks again; I love to knit but I am self-taught; as a result I lack many of the necessary skills to make anything other than a glorified rectangle of some kind.

The attraction, for me, is that it not only satisfies my creative yen by producing something handmade and beautiful, it speaks to my practical, German-Dutch heritage by being productive and useful at the same time. Sadly, I'm also sort of an instant gratification junkie and that is tough, because I would really love to see everything come together all at once, not one row at a time.

I guess that there are knitting groups out there, but most of my friends don't knit. I maybe ought to try to find a knitting group somewhere near me. I have that whole only-child, sorta shy, sorta standoffish thing going, though. I picture a knitting group being full of either little old ladies with cats, or black-frame glasses-wearing coolsters with Belle & Sebastian playing in the background. I have no idea if either of those are accurate, but I am sure I'm not the only thirties suburban yuppie with yarn stuffed in the glove compartment of my car. Call me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 4: Life on the Other Side of the Tracks

When we moved to the D.C. area three years ago, we had one goal: to find an affordable apartment with a washer and dryer, as close as possible to Dan's new job. It made sense at the time: he was the only one who had a job.

What we found cost $1000 a month, had a barely functioning washer and a dryer that had to have a "rest" between loads or it would stop working altogether, and was located in what was by far the worst neighborhood that I had ever lived in. I was upper-middle class by birth and had grown up on a tree-lined street with white clapboard houses in a liberal University town. White-bread Democrat land.

Oxon Hill wasn't even that bad. Granted, I lived in a better part of Oxon Hill. But in the three years we lived on Livingston Road, I got to witness my first domestic assault. A man jumped out of the passenger side of a black Escalade with spinner rims, marched with great purpose over to his wife/girlfriend/accquaintence, who was walking down the sidewalk in front of her apartment with her son, who I would estimate to have been around four, and knocked her to the ground with one punch square to the face. With equal purpose he marched back to his car and got back in, and whoever was driving the car drove off. The little boy helped his mother off the ground without a word, as if he'd seen it every day for his whole life, and they went back into their apartment. I was nearly nine months pregnant at the time, and I was so petrified by the entire experience I can't believe that I didn't go into labor on the spot. It was the same month that a local woman and her ex-husband made the national news when he walked into the store where she worked, doused her with gasoline from a 20-ounce bottle of Sprite, and lit her on fire in front of a store full of customers. She eventually recovered from the third-degree burns on her face, upper body, and arms and went on Oprah. He received a life sentence for attempted murder.

Oxon Hill isn't really that bad, not when you compare it to the parts of Southeast Washington D.C. that it butts up against. But we live in Laurel now. It is up in the top corner of Prince George's County, wedged between the Howard and Montgomery County line. The median house price in Laurel is $640,000. There are restaurants, real restaurants, where you don't shout your order at a little Asian woman through three inches of plexiglass and push your money through a little drawer. Same with the gas stations: real people take your money. People here are less concerned with bus schedules: no real need for them here, where fewer people depend on public transportation.

It is clean and polished here in Laurel. I am not afraid to fill up my car with gas after dark here, like I was in Oxon Hill. The neighborhood kids don't look and act like they've been eating lead paint chips--and in fact, there are real neighborhood kids, not kids who will only be around for a month or two because their parents are unreliable and they are staying with an aunt or a grandmother or a friend until they're shuffled off to someone else. There are real neighborhoods, not just a bunch of apartment complexes.

The most ironic thing about it: we are actually priced out of buying in Oxon Hill, except in the worst areas, neighborhoods where I would actually fear for our safety. The National Harbor project is driving prices up so fast that a three-bedroom condo is going for $249,000, and a single-family home is considerably more.

But this condo in Laurel is $200 a month less than our old apartment. It is small--boy is it small--and it is at the top of a positively brutal set of stairs that made moving in feel like the Bataan Death March. But it is also quiet, populated with pleasant and considerate neighbors, and well-maintained, all things that set it apart from our old apartment complex.

Our last attempt to buy a house went horribly awry in every conceivable way, so much so that I am not really willing to try it again. We have a short-term lease with a really lovely woman who is the daughter of a woman I work with, who got married, built a house in Richmond, and moved there, and I can't imagine staying here a long time. I'm sure in the next few weeks, I'll be ready to start looking for something that is really ours. We won't be able to afford Laurel when we do,
and it's a forty-minute commute for Dan to get to work, which makes him just crazy.

But I will probably not see a woman get punched in the face in front of her son here. It's just not that kind of a place--not that domestic abuse doesn't occur everywhere, but this isn't the sort of place where it's likely to happen right in front of me. It's nice here, so nice that I'm forgetting from time to time that all we did was drive half an hour up the county.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 3: According to Dan: Life at the top of the food chain

While discussing our newly rented condo, which is at the top of two very long and steep flights of cement stairs.

Dan: "It could be worse."
Molly: "How?"
Dan: "Well, we could live in a treehouse."
Molly: "We'd still have crawl down to get food."
Dan: "We'd live in a tree and grow fruit."
Molly: "What would we do about protein?"
Dan: "Where there's fruit, there's monkeys."
Molly: I don't really want to eat monkeys."
Dan: "Are you sure? A little Howler Helper? No?"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 2: Only Gross People Read This Blog

Here are some search terms that have brought people here over the last month.

"Attitude - like the firmest of melons."
Is someone out there describing me like this? Because that's sort of awesome.

"Baby names that go with the name Wyatt."

"Is having a bath bad if you are trying to conceive?"
Let me just speak for your husband: No.

"Mean daughter"
Mom, stop reading my blog. Seriously.

"Ok to have a drink while trying to conceive?"
Sure, but don't blame me if your kid's got gills.

"Pink cell phone gay?"
My cell phone doesn't have a sexual preference, but it is pink--fuschia really--and I am straight.

Thursday Thirteen: Places To Go, Things To See

Evidently it was my turn to think of a Thursday Thirteen this week, and in the chaos that's been the last couple of weeks, I have had nary a thought cross my mind. My original suggestion was Thirteen Favorite Snow-Cone Flavors, but Kimberly told me she'd never had a Snow-Cone before. Never had a Snow-Cone? Kimberly, how have you reached the precipice of parenthood and never had a Snow-Cone?

Luckily, I did come up with this other idea. Once you have a baby, it gets harder to travel. For one thing, you have a lot less money. For another thing, you have to schlep all of the baby stuff with you when you do travel, which means precariously balancing your car seat on top of your stroller while balancing a crying, squirrelly toddler on your hip as you go through security at the airport. Nevertheless, I love to travel. Or think about traveling, as I don't have any money, but I have been a few places, and there's some I'd like to go back to and some that I'd still like to see.

1. Scotland. My psycho ex-roommate did her overseas year in Edinburgh, and loved it. Everything I've ever heard about traveling there sounds great, except the haggis. I will take a pass on the boiled sheep's intestines stuffed with oatmeal pudding.

2. Mexico. My parents have a timeshare, so this could conceivably happen. I know, it's not fashionable anymore to lay around on the beach until you are a leathery shade of bronze, but I love it.

3. The Pacific Northwest. Dan was stationed in Seattle in the mid-90's while he was in the army, and his brother lived in Portland for quite a while. I've seen quite a bit of the U.S., but not this area.

4. Southeast Asia. My boss and her husband frequently spend their vacations in Thailand. I understand that, as far as tony upscale beach vacations go, Thailand is quite the bargain. I think you all should know, however, that I just deleted a joke about 9-year-old male prostitutes that, in retrospect, was in very poor taste. I am maturing.

5. The Baltic. In 1992, I went to Finland, Russia and Estonia for two weeks. I loved everything about it. Helsinki is beautiful and clean and everything there looks like an Ikea catalogue. Moscow is grey and grim and standing in Red Square with Lenin's tomb on my right and St. Basil's cathedral in front of me gives me cold chills. St. Petersburg is full of beautiful churches and museums and great food. Tallin, Estonia, is full of the kindest, most lovely people I've ever met, in love with their country and incredibly excited to show it to you. I have beautiful memories of all of these places and I would go back in a heartbeat.

6. Italy. My father-in-law took a civilian Department of Defense post in Italy when my husband was in kindergarten, so he spent the year in southeastern Italy. I would love to do that--there are teaching posts with the DoD that my husband and I considered accepting--and I think it would be great to do so while Max is little and could pick up the accent.

7. San Diego. As a place to visit, I love San Diego. It is really just golden and full of sunshine and palm trees and fake boobs, just like San Diego should be. I could never live there, but all that great Mexican food...mmmmmm.

8. Canada. How weird is it, that, having grown up in Michigan, I have been to Canada a grand total of once?

9. South Carolina. I might just like Hilton Head Island, or I might be going to stalk Pat Conroy. Who knows?

10. Africa. I'm fascinated.

11. The Middle East. Not just now, please, but anyone who knows me knows that ancient history of all kinds is right up my alley.

12. Maine. I am attracted to writers who create a sense of place in what it is that they write, and one of the best at doing that happens to be Stephen King. In Bag of Bones, his character is living in a vacation home on a lakeshore in Eastern Maine. I could so get into that.

13. Colorado. My biological father lives there. In spite of that, it's been many years since I took a good ski vacation, the kind where you're up and waiting when the lifts start to run in the morning, so that you can catch fresh powder before the sun hits the bowls, actually having to stop to catch your breath halfway through a run because it's just so long and you've actually descended about 3500 vertical feet over the last hour and your legs are really, seriously burning, where the lifts close by four in the afternoon and by then you've had enough anyway, and parking it on a stool in one of the good local bars for a beer and a cheeseburger and a bowl of chili is really the only kind of luxury service you're interested in. I hope that there are still towns like this in Colorado, because the last time I was there, Vail looked like the kind of place where the guy who started Burger King went crazy.

There are others. Dan and I considered doing an el-cheapo vacation next spring in Europe somewhere, like Paris or Berlin or Amsterdam, all places that my ex-military husband knows well and that I've never been. All of those places still appeal, but that's my top thirteen for now.

November is NaBloPoMo, and I am going to attempt to post at least once a day for the next month. It may be just a link or something, depending on how horribly busy I am, but I will try to stay on top of it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

While in the Stirrups...

Kimberly had a thought this morning: they should combine going to the gynocologist with a visit to the aesthetician. That way, since you're already humiliated and naked from the waist down, that might be a good time to go ahead, put your feet in the air, and get that nicely finished product you've been considering.

I feel quite certain gynocologists and bikini waxers will both have a problem with this plan, but I think it's a great idea. And, as Kimberly has said, now that gynocologists are performing plastic surgery, even in the nether regions, that line is blurring a little.

Personally, I like to scream in agony in the privacy of my own home, but that's me. Also, were I to get plastic surgery, I would not waste it on an area of such visual inaccessability.

Happy Halloween, designers. Carry on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


So. Here's how it all went down.

Last Tuesday afternoon: Inspection. All is well. There are two short lists of minor repairs that need to be made on the house, our list, which is cosmetic, and the inspector's list. The seller signed off, agreeing that all repairs would be done to satisfaction at the final walk-through, which was to take place this morning.

Wednesday evening: our loan officer receives an email informing her that the mortgage lender would not approve the loan, because the co-op in which we were buying does not insure the full structure of the house, since it's been improved upon. We were aware of this and were prepared to buy additional insurance; however, the lender feels that the co-op is underinsured and therefore not eligible. In addition, there is a lien on the property for water improvements that the seller is liable for. Our loan officer calls our agent and our loan processor at home.

Thursday morning: I get up and discover that my apartment has gained an additional grandparent overnight--my father-in-law, who has driven from Michigan to help us move.

Later Thursday morning: I get a call from the agent, who informs me of the development with the lender.

Friday morning: I go to work trying to find another lender who will accept us. No one will close this loan, and Friday afternoon, Dan and I make the decision to walk away from the table.

Monday morning: Since we will not be moving, we will not be needing daycare in Indian Head. I call our previous daycare provider, and she informs me that she has, regrettably, filled our slot, and cannot take Max back.

Monday afternoon: Dan goes to the apartment complex office to inform them that we will not be moving out. We had been on a month-to-month lease at the bargain price of $1210 a month. The office informs him that we had told them a month ago that we would be closing on our house and moving out at the end of the month, and so they had rented the apartment. They are holding us to our end-of-the-month committment.

Monday evening: We meet with a new daycare provider. She is lovely, professional, charmed by Max, affordable, and very close to the school where Dan teaches. This is the first thing that has gone right in days.

Later Monday evening: I talk to the daughter of a consultant we use at work, who has moved out of her small condo and is willing to lease it to us. It is 30 miles from the school where Dan teaches, but we are out of options and out of time.

The house thing has been expensive, stressful, exhausting, and ultimately incredibly disappointing. The rest of it has been small potatoes indeed. As much as my in-laws drive me slightly crazy, they are making sure that we are okay and moved into a new apartment before they go back to Michigan, something for which I am very grateful.

I am grateful. I keep repeating that to myself. I have so much to be thankful for. We could be in Southern California, where the Santa Ana's are expected to pick up again this weekend. We could be in the Dominican Republic, under three feet of water yet again this year. Millions of families become homeless every year, for a million different reasons, and as lousy and difficult a situation as this all is, I am grateful. I am.

But this has all been excruciating. Words sort of fail me, and while I'm not generally a crier, this is all getting to me just a little bit. I am really quite at the end of my rope, and while I am tying a knot and holding on for dear life, this is really all I am capable of doing until I can go ahead, get my feet under me, and begin to move forward again.