Thursday, August 31, 2006

Oops, I Did It Again, But Very Slowly And Intentionally This Time.

Sometime last year I may have briefly mentioned that I once flipped the bird at a cop in an unmarked police car. He waited until he could get behind me, then flipped his lights on and scared the shit out of me.

Then he let me go, and I vowed to relax already, no matter how hellish the DC are traffic may get.

And I did! Truly. For the past three years, commuting has been a much calmer exprerience. Sure, I still cried once or twice when people were nasty for no reason, but the general hatred was gone. And committing myself to books-on-CD really helped, I must say. Now when someone honks at me I'm all, "QUIET! Aron is just about to find out that his mother, Cathy/Catherine/Kate, is a total prostitute! And in despair he will join the army WITHOUT CAREFULLY THINKING ABOUT IT FIRST."*


But today, I slipped.


Time: 5:45 p.m.

Destination: Home sweet home.


I had just gotten off the highway. Soon after, I have to quickly merge two lanes to the left in order to make the next left turn. Traffic was backed up, but I saw an opportunity to merge. I put on my blinker, waved thanks to the guy who was letting me in, and started to move over.

But the traffic was backed up, and the car in front of me stopped two cars lengths away from the car in front of him, as many drivers inexplicably do.

(Why do they do this? WHY?)

(Oh, right. It's inexplicable.)

This meant that I couldn't complete my lane change. The rear of my car was partially blocking the right lane for oh, approximately three seconds, while the traffic up ahead started to move again.

One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three--

A huge SUV in the right lane hit the horn lengthily behind me. He whipped his car around mine, pulled up next to me, leaned out the window, and yelled,

"MOVE YOUR ASS!"

So undeserved was this verbal assault, I turned slowly toward him with my mouth open in suprise.

"WHAT THE FUCK?" he screamed.

He was old enough to be my father. Expensive, shiny SUV. Shirt and tie. Graying hair and wire-rimmed glasses. Screaming obscenities at a woman with a DOG IS LOVE bumper sticker on her car.

Huh?

Mouth still open, I very calmly cocked my head to the left, lifted my hand, and slowly extended my middle finger as far as it would go.

I thought his eyes were going to explode.

Traffic was moving again, so I again waved thanks to the car that let me in and continued down the road. This asshole crept along beside me so he could continue to scream at me, hanging out the window the entire time. Suffice it to say that the main themes were "fuck you" and "bitch".

Guess he wasn't in such a great big hurry after all.

Upon entering my neighborhood, even the sight of more young Mormons patrolling my street wasn't enough to wipe the grin off my face. I even hung around in front of the house for a few minutes, chatting with a neighbor and tempting fate, but the boys on bikes didn't approach me.

I took this as a sign.

A sign that God gave me a nice, long middle finger for a reason.


*one of my favorite books

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We Are Family

So M's baby sister, Laura, got married on Saturday. I cried most of the night. And most of Sunday, too. Oh, and during the toasts at the rehearsal dinner on Friday. Because she is a beautiful girl who deserves to be happy.

Have I ever mentioned that I cry a lot?

And there I was all weekend without my waterproof mascara! Luckily, I did remember to grab some Kleenex for the ceremony. And even luckier-- I remembered to pull it out of my bra just before I walked down the aisle in my periwinkle dress (I hear that groping yourself in church is frowned upon).

M's family is great. And huge. All the Italians from his dad's side were there, dancing the tarantella and bellowing "Salute!" after every toast. They're loud, vibrant people who would do anything for "the family," so long as you don't ask Mario what he does for a living.

Mom's side is... warm. That's the best word I can use to describe them. She and her sisters are close in a way that is rare and beautiful, despite many childhood hardships. Their mother is a doting grandmother who holds my face in her hands and calls me "My Liz".

I'm closer to all of them than I am to my own relatives.

However, things haven't always been great. These people I love have struggled. Hurt and heartbreak fell upon those who didn't deserve it. Cruelty was sometimes more convenient than kindness. Serious problems resulted, and some of them were life-threatening.

And that's all I can really say about it, because those stories aren't mine to share. And anyhow, how could I ever neatly sum up the history of a family that has been decades in the making?

For my husband and I, this weekend was the culmination and celebration of years of healing and growth. At the end of the night we joined the crowd on the dance floor for a serious boogie to We Are Family.

This is the thing about M's family. They've been through shit, but they've gotten past it. They've let go of it. People who might have hated and despised each other were dancing and embracing. "We put the fun in dysfunctional," M's family likes to joke. But at least it's out there. It's out there for everyone to see.

I turned to my right and waved my arms around with M's Italian dad and his Irish wife. I spun to the left and laughed out loud with M and his brother. There was Mom with her fiance. There was Laura with her new husband and his entire family. The aunts and uncles. The cousins-- first, second, and twice-removed. The family friends from New York. It was so crowded, there was no room for grudges.

We are family.

And I welled up one last time, while Aunt Barbara and Uncle Marco shouted across the dance floor, "GET THE MOP!"

God, I love them.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Alex is the only one enjoying leisurely days in this house.

He so wants to kill the geese in our backyard,
and he has plenty of time to think about how he'll do it.
M and I haven't had much time to plot against the nasty geese, so thank goodness Alex is on top of it.
Work has been insane for both of us. In fact, right now M is preparing for a marathon meeting in which he knows he'll be a target of hostility (read: glaring, yelling, and cursing). It's all part of being a social worker. And they don't even let him drink on the job!
I forgot to eat lunch at work yesterday, which I didn't realize until I got a pounding headache around five o'clock (see below). We're also gearing up for M's sister's wedding this weekend. We'll be heading out of town on Friday morning with the periwinkle dress, dyed-to-match shoes, tuxedo, camera, and plenty of Kleenex.
(Note to self: You are going to forget to pack the periwinkle shoes, you moron. Put them in the suitcase NOW or you will ruin the wedding.)
(Self: Hey, Project Runway is on!)
I can only take craziness for so long, and then I break down. It all came to a head last Friday.
Arriving at work that morning, I told my boss that I wasn't sure I'd last the day because I had a massive headache. This was rather upsetting, seeing as I had about 500 things to do that day.
I'm headache-prone in general. I get them if I don't drink enough water, if I get too hungry, if I'm too tired, if I bend down to pick something up and forget that my filing cabinet is open over my head, et cetera.
Tylenol usually works for me, but the pills I took that morning didn't help. In fact, the pain got worse. I turned my monitor off because it seemed to be glaring at me. People stopped by to say hello and I couldn't muster up the energy to converse.
And then it hit me. That feeling.
You know what I'm talking about, right? Suddenly, you're light-headed. Your mouth salivates and your hands get clammy. A woozy wave of dread washes over you.
It's the feeling that you are most definitely going to vomit.
I clamped my hand over my mouth and raced back to my office, making it to my plastic-lined trash can just in time. No small feat considering that I was wearing 3-inch heels. I would have been proud if I hadn't felt so completely miserable.
I went to tell my boss that I had to leave. She took one look at my green face and wanted to call me a taxi.
"I can't take a taxi right now," I exclaimed deliriously. "I have to wash out my trash can!"
Which I did. I just couldn't leave it for the janitor.
In the end, I drove myself home. Pay for a taxi when I have a perfectly good car in the parking garage? Madness!
I had to pull over three times on the side of the road.
That night I had a dream that I was puking all over my periwinkle dress in front of 200 guests, all of whom had burning reference questions.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Time for something serious.

Enough with the heart-wrenching tales. An important function is fast-approaching, and I need shoe advice.

I have a dress! And I also have some shoes. But I'm not so very certain about the shoes.

But first, here's the dress:



It's a strapless, navy blue a-line with silver thread in the design across the bottom. I looked for navy strappy sandals for four months, and guess what?

They don't exist.

So I decided to go with silver. And here's where I need some help.

I already bought these:



But I saved the receipt, because these are coming in the mail tomorrow:




Don't worry, I get free return shipping if I choose to send them back. (confidential to Zappos.com: Liz + Zappos = LOVE 4 EVA) (+ BFF!!!!!)

So, whaddayathink? I realize that to give you a truly accurate picture of the ensemble I should take pictures of myself wearing the dress and both pairs of shoes, but my husband isn't here to play photographer and I don't have any full-length mirrors.

(I know! How do I ever know that I look okay from the waist down?)

(my dog tells me. he's generous with the compliments and harsh when he needs to be, and I love him for it.)

So help me out. Please. It has to be one or the other, due to fast-approaching deadline, and I'm at a total loss. The rejected pair will be returned immediately, because I also bought these totally unnecessary black heels just because my husband loves high heels that have ankle straps and a tiny little back to them. And because he's a good man, I like to surprise him:



And now, friends, it's time for the Little Shoe of Horrors. Avert your eyes if you have a weak stomach.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased this velvet blazer in chocolate brown from a catalog:



I bought a pair of matching shoes from the same catalog, because they looked adorable on the model.

Looked.

Okay, here are the shoes:



Not so bad, right? A 2-inch wedge heel with a faux flower on the toe. Cute!

Not so much:

What the hell IS that? This doesn't look like any flower I've ever seen in nature. And what's with the enormous stamen protruding from the center? You could hit golf balls off that thing.

(is it just me?)

Alex goes in for a closer look and almost impales his eyeball on the gigantic, phallic stamen:

"BUTT UGLY. Not to mention dangerous."


Thanks, Boo. I'm sending them back tomorrow, minus free return shipping. Bah.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Please call collect.

The phone rang last night as M and I were eating dinner. We looked at each other with matching expressions: Ugh, telemarketers!

“Let the machine get it,” I urged.

We returned to our meal as the machine picked up.

“Hello?”

The voice was thin and wavery; uncertain. An elderly woman.

“Hello. My name is Fran. You might not know me. Or perhaps you do. I’m looking for a man who has the same name as you."

I glanced at M. He shrugged.

"He was a doctor at the Veterans Administration hospital in Salem. I've been trying to find him. If you are the same man who worked at the Veterans Administration hospital, can you please call me back? Or even if you're not him. Please... please call collect. My phone number is—“

M leapt out of his chair to grab the phone.

“Hello? Yes, hello."

He listened intently.

"Yes ma’am, that’s my name, but I’m not a doctor and I never worked at a VA hospital… oh? Oh no, I’m so sorry. No, I’m not a doctor. I’m a social worker. Yes… well, my brother is a doctor, but he never worked in Salem...."

He disappeared into the living room.

Five long minutes passed.

Then he returned, still talking. "I'm sorry to hear that. Uh-huh… yes, I know. Of course. I’m very sorry for your loss. I wish I could help. Yes. Okay, you take care. Goodbye.”

He placed the phone back in its cradle.

“Who was that?”

M sighed. “Her husband just died of cancer a couple days ago. Apparently one of his doctors had the same name as me.”

“And she’s trying to find him?”

M nodded. “She’s been going through every possible listing in the country, practically. I guess he's no longer with the Veterans hospital.”

“Why does she want to find him?”

“They had an appointment with him last year. As they were leaving, he squeezed her arm and told her that her husband would probably die soon, that she should prepare herself. She wanted to call and tell him that he was right.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. She just kept saying, ‘Fifty-six years. Fifty-six years we were married.’ I really think she just needed someone to talk to.”

We were silent.

My mind sketched a picture of this woman. I tried to imagine being so grief-stricken that I would call strangers from a phone book.

Dinner was getting cold, but the lump in my throat wouldn't let me eat it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

And Venus was her name

Most of you guessed correctly in the Guess The Phallic Object Contest. Beth was spot-on. And not because of personal experience with lint fires, mind you. Yes, the item in the pictures was a dryer vent lint brush. Sort of like this one.

I took those pictures because I had written a lame post about awesome and stupid things I've gotten on eBay. Guess which category the lint brush is in?

Stupid. You stick it down in the dryer vent, swirl it around a bit, and it comes out covered in all kinds of prime fire-starting material.

But then what? HOW DO YOU GET THE BRUSH CLEAN?

The first time I spent an hour picking the lint off with my fingers. The second time I tried to rinse it in the bathtub. Fear of clogged drains put a quick stop to that. Finally I tossed it on the driveway and shot it with the hose for a while, but it kept sliding into the street. It kind of looked like I was walking a fuzzy snake on a water leash.

Now it lives in the laundry room trash can.

I always check eBay before I buy anything in a store. Some of my friends think this is funny, which I don't get. If I can get my favorite lipstick on eBay for ten bucks, why pay Estee Lauder $25 for it? Similarly, if my husband can buy Jimi Hendrix dolls on eBay, why waste gas driving to Toys R Us?

I’ve gotten some exciting things on eBay. For example, two antique stained glass windows, one of which came from an old pub in England. I sniped this one out from under another bidder named Nana Rose. (for non-eBayers: ‘sniping’ is placing a bid at the very end of an auction in hopes that other bidders won’t have time to counter)

My husband: You just stole a window from some kid’s grandmother! Don’t you feel terrible?

Me: No.

I don’t buy tons of stuff on eBay, but I like it for certain things. For example, razor cartridges. Do you know how expensive those Venus cartridges are? Yikes. And yet I buy them, I MUST, because I like to sing Bananarama in the shower and pretend like I’m in the commercial. So I find someone on eBay who’s selling a 10-box lot, and suddenly I have a year’s supply for nearly half the cost of buying them in the store!

REMEMBER: You have to include the shipping price when you calculate the cost per cartridge. Sometimes the shipping can blow the entire deal. And then? You'll have to live with the fact that you could have saved money if you had just gone to the drugstore. BUT YOU DIDN'T.

ALSO: I never buy shipping insurance, because I'm wild and dangerous. Don't tell my mother.

AND: I'd better not catch you guys trying to buy Venus razors on eBay now. I really don't need additional competition.

Okay. This is the part where I brag about my latest eBay find. This one goes in the 'Awesome' category. Are you ready?

Two Ann Taylor shirts and a coordinating purse, all brand-new with tags, for SIX DOLLARS.

[APPLAUSE!]

I know! I can hardly contain myself!

Although really, it's amazing that I ever make it through the bidding process for any of these things. I'm completely distraught in the last minutes of an auction. My heart races and I feel sick with dread. In the final 60 seconds I type in my bid with one shaking finger, then feverishly hit Refresh so I can see if anyone is outbidding me.

If I win, I promptly collapse on the floor.

If I lose, I say Fuck!. Then I collapse on the floor.

You can see why I work in a library and not on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, which is my number one nightmare work environment. I'd be a spectacular, convulsing failure. I'd lie twitching on the floor, and all the shouting, besuited people would crush me with their stilettos and... whatever shoes men like to wear.

But I'd feel somewhat better knowing that they probably paid way too much for them.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

You'll never guess. Okay, maybe you will.


After tonight's dinner I took some pictures for a post I wrote earlier today. Unfortunately, none of them came out very well. Then I had the revelation that it might be fun to invite you to guess what this is (a la Vernicious) since I wasn't sure I would've ever figured it out if I didn't own one.

Featured: random rooms in my house, since I stupidly thought that changing rooms would make the picture come out better.

p.s. This is somewhat embarrassing, but I'm willing to suffer for your entertainment.

p.p.s. Please try to ignore the phallic nature of this object.

p.p.p.s. Or don't ignore it.

p.p.p.p.s. It is not a light saber.

p.p.p.p.p.s. However, it is kind of phallic.

p.p.p.p.p.p.s. The phallic nature cannot be denied.

p.p.p.p.p.p.p.s. You can go ahead and notice the phallic nature if you want to.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

home sick...


...and not feeling especially colorful.





Hey! Just because I'm black and white doesn't
mean I don't feel colorful.


(don't argue with the one who keeps your feet warm)


Monday, August 07, 2006

Adventures in Curry

On Saturday night I wanted to make this “quick and easy!” curry recipe that I’d seen in the food section of the Washington Post. The “quick and easy” part involves using a jar of simmering sauce instead of making it from scratch. And having admired many jars of exotic-looking sauces in the past, I thought this was the perfect time to shoot the bird at my prideful need to cook everything from scratch and just be QUICK and easy.

Plus, the less time I spend saucing, the more time I can spend getting sauced.

(I know. You’re all about to suggest that I find a 12-step meeting like, tonight, aren’t you?)

(Rest assured—there is no problem here.)

(OMG! Total denial!)

So anyway, M and I head to my favorite grocery store and start tossing the ingredients into the basket.

Potatoes: Check.

Shrimp: Check. (on sale! More money for wine!)

Sense of humor: Check.

Chickpeas, Basmati rice, and peas: Yup.

Wine: A couple of cases ought to do it.

Simmering sauce: Nowhere to be found.


Nooooooowheeeeeere. And I know, because I spent 20 minutes looking.

I have this thing about asking for help in the grocery store.

If a pleasant-looking employee happens to pass by, I’ll ask. But I won't go to the service desk. I CANNOT DO IT. I once nearly perished in the baking aisle because I wouldn’t ask anyone where the espresso powder was, so I’m definitely NOT about to ask where the curry sauce is. Because duh! It should be right down here, in the International Foods section! There’s plum sauce and duck sauce, enchilada sauce, hot sauce, and gourmet alfredo.

But no curry.

“Why don’t they have a directory of store items?” I whine to M. “Preferably offered both alphabetically and by food type?”

“Um, right.” M nods. “You work on that idea while I go to the service desk.”

“They could even have a photo directory of the produce!”

“Great!” M calls, speed-walking away from me.

“With scratch-n-sniff for the herbs!”

Within thirty seconds, M has the answer. The store does not carry jarred curry sauce.

“Well!” I huff. “This seems very discriminatory!”

“Against who?”

“People who want to make quick and easy curry!”

M offers to accompany me to a second grocery store, but I refuse. See, I also have this thing about making extra stops during an outing. If the store lacks a single needed ingredient, I'd rather change my entire menu than trek to another store.

"I’ll make my own sauce!” I announce. “Let’s buy this stuff and get out of here!”

Of course, once we get home I realize that I don’t have the ingredients I need to make curry sauce. But will I go to the store again?

No. NO I WILL NOT.

One hour later I have concocted a sauce from diced onion, coconut milk, vegetable broth, ketchup, curry powder, coriander, green chiles, hot sauce, and lemon juice. I think I also added some freshly-ground nutmeg with my favorite new toy. I’ve been putting nutmeg in everything lately.

It actually turned out pretty well, although M and I both blanched a bit as I added the ketchup to the saucepan.

Two hours later at 9:30 p.m., dinner is ready.

So much for quick and easy. (But hey-- ketchup! For the good times.)

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Don't drink and... do anything else.

I just did something really disgusting.

And stupid. Not as stupid as the time I acidentally sent a cheeky email to my company's president, but pretty close.

My husband was washing dishes. I picked up a wineglass from the counter, poured some Chardonnay, and went up to the office to get online. It's dark, as I usually prefer to keep the lights off while I surf the web. Don't tell my mother.

I take my glass in hand.

Sniff, sniff. Hmm... this wine smells... different.

I take a stronger sniff.

Do I detect hints of citrus?

Sniff.

Yes, definitely citrus.

Lemon, maybe? Pineapple?

Sniff.

Yes, definitely lemon. It's got a nice, golden hue. Maybe comes from a warmer climate? And... hmm. That's strange. It's a bit... foamy.

Just as I'm about to shoot an email to Robin Garr and tell him that he should totally hire me to write the 30 Second Wine Advisor, I take a sip.

GAAAAAAAAAAH!

Oh, ick! Ack! GACK!

My sophistcated palate detects the unmistakable flavor of lemon Joy dishwashing soap.

I race downstairs, gagging. M looks alarmed.

"AAAAAAAAA!!! Did you put soap in this glass?"

M nods. "I was washing it." He peers closely at the murky yellow contents. "Did you drink that? That's disgusting!"

"But... but... you saw me take the glass! You saw me pour wine in it!"

"No, I didn't."

"I did it right in front of you!"

He shakes his head. "I didn't see you."

I look at him in amazement. "But I was standing right here."

"I'm sorry," he says, and he really does look sorry. "I guess it didn't register."

After I gag over the bathroom sink, wipe my brow, and collect myself, I walk calmly back into the kitchen. As I reach into the cabinet for a new, decidedly clean wineglass, M shakes his head in amazement.

"I thought drinking dish soap chardonnay would have ruined you for at least 24 hours."

"You know what they say," I answer, filling my glass. "You have to get right back on the horse."

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