Thursday, March 29, 2007

Things

Things that are making me sneeze:
Cedars, elms, junipers, Timothy grass, dust mites, etc etc etc and my own beloved dog, but NOT cockroaches. Thank God for the small gifts in life.


Things that are making me anxious:
We’re going to a dinner party on Friday night at a neighbor’s house. We don’t know the couple very well, and there will be two other couples from his street that we don’t know at all. I’m not sure if they realize that I don’t eat meat, and they didn’t ask when they invited us. I had a dream last night that we sat down to eat, wine in hand, and there was a huge, bloody roast smack dab in the middle of the table. No salad. No potatoes or carrots or ANY SIDE DISHES OF ANY KIND. There was no way to inconspicuously avoid eating the bloody roast.


Things that are making me laugh:
This is old, but it still makes me laugh whenever I think about it.

The food critic at the Washington Post does a live chat once a week. Last year some guy wrote in about how he and his wife had enjoyed dinner at a local fine dining establishment and really liked the meal, but were shocked that the bill came to more than they had ever spent in a restaurant before (he went on to name a couple of places he'd been to that are excellent, but also very pricey). This led to a pissing contest of sorts among the chatters, many of whom wrote in to brag about the most expensive item/meal they’d ever eaten and to admonish the original poster for not eating at home if he can’t swing with the Big Boys.

Obnoxious! I thought.

Then a chatter wrote in with: “Oh yeah? Well I have spent 50,000 dollars on a single appetizer. Marinated unicorn belly, it was fantastic. Looks like I am the most experienced reading today. Take that.”

And I didn’t breathe again for twenty minutes, so enjoyable was my belly laugh.

(if the person who wrote that ever reads this post, please email me. I think I'd really love to be best friends with you.)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Grocery Shopping: The Continuing Drama

Here's the grocery list I gave my husband this Sunday. If you're like me, you'll be really interested in finding out what we bought. Whenever I see an abandoned grocery receipt on the ground I pick it up to see what that shopper bought, mostly because I'm obsessed with food and I like to imagine what they might be cooking.

Imagine my disappointment when the receipt says:

Marlbro Lts
Budwser 24pk
Hustler
KY lube lrg


If you're not nosy like me, you can skip my list:

Apples (Braeburn or Pink Lady)
Scallions (1 bunch)
Avocados (x2)
Eggplant (1 medium)
Shallots (x2)
Onions (2)
Broccoli
Carrots (large, 1 bag)
Baby Spinach- organic
Cilantro (2 bunches)
Mint (1 bunch)
Baguette (1)
Milk
Bread
Saltine crackers (fat-free)
Raisins
Total cereal
Fiber One
Jam- raspberry
Tomato paste (organic x2)
Jar roasted red peppers (1)
Chunky mild salsa (12 oz jar, organic)
Lentils (regular)
Garbanzo beans (x3)
Black beans (x2)
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Orange juice
Frozen raspberries
Veggie burgers
Wine- chardonnay


Sorry, no Hustler. Check back later when I publish our receipt from Borders (ours is offering a special educator discount this week!).

So here are transcripts of the calls I received this time. You will note that we have reduced the number of calls to nearly FIFTY PERCENT. I think this is largely due to the fact that M now fears this public broadcasting of our discussions and he's convinced that the Internet believes him to be a typical, bumbling male idiot when it comes to grocery shopping.

This is not even remotely the case. This boy even knows the produce code for Brussels sprouts! We buy them regularly and for some reason the cashiers never know it, so M memorized it to help them out.

All together now: Awww.

On with the public broadcasting!


Call #1: Don't you want salad?

M: Hey, it's me.
Liz: I know.
M:
Liz: Caller ID.
M: Oh. I thought you were making fun of me again for calling from the food store.
Liz: I would never.
M: Right.
Liz: What's up?
M: Don't you want salad?
Liz: I didn't put it on the list?
M: You wrote Baby Spinach- organic, but not Mixed Greens.
Liz: Well, I still have some leftover greens, so just get the spinach.
M: Okay.



Call #2: In which we cannot fathom a meal without garlic.

M: Hi.
Liz: Hi.
M: NO GARLIC?
Liz: NO.
M: Wow.
Liz: I know. This must be a first.
M: It's too weird. It's like the garlic is pulling me over, calling my name...
Liz: RESIST THE GARLIC.
M: I'll try. By the way, the avocados are rock-hard. They don't have any ripe ones.
Liz: Bummer. Well, just get those and I'll stick them on the window sill for a couple days.
M: Poor Alex.
Liz: I know.


Call #3: PRAISE JESUS!

M: I found some ripe avocados in the organic section!
Liz: Score!


Call #4: I'll take Genetically Modified for $500, Alex.

M: What's the deal with those numbers again?
Liz: What numbers?
M: The numbers on the produce stickers.
Liz: Let me see... okay, if it's 5 digits, starting with an 8, it's genetically modified. Five digits starting with a 9 means that it's organic. And 4 digits means that it was grown conventionally, neither organic nor genetically modified.
M: I knew you would have that information handy.
Liz: Of course.
M: I love being married to a librarian.


Call #5: A man who loves to save 35 cents? Priceless.

M: I remember seeing cupcake papers on the list on the fridge, but they're not written on this list.
Liz: Yeah, I need them, but not this week. I was trying to trim the list down a bit.
M: Well, they're only 65 cents, so I'll go ahead and get them.
Liz: Okay.
M: I'll get the multicolored ones.
Liz: Oh, baby! Multicolored? Nothing's too expensive for your woman!
M: Actually, they're the cheapest. The foil ones cost 99 cents.
Liz:
M:
Liz: Never talk to me again!
M: (snickering) Okay, goodbye.
Liz: YOU OBVIOUSLY DO NOT TAKE ME SERIOUSLY.


Tune in next weekend when I will simply write Cheddar Cheese on the list without specifying Wisconsin, New York, block, shredded, mild, or sharp.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Crap

Yesterday I found a note on my desk that reads:




I'm certain I wrote it, because it's my handwriting and it's written on one of my special pink Post-Its. It's clearly meant to be a reminder of something important, seeing as I openly abused both exclamation points and underscores.

I'm just can't remember what the important thing is.

What am I supposed to be doing at 9:30 a.m. in Room 169? Monday is rapidly approaching and I'm starting to panic.

Any guesses? I'll go with the best one, as long as it won't get me fired. Of course, that might happen anyway.


Edited to add:
I'm wearing the cute shoes with stripey socks. Aren't stripey socks supposed to be good memory-boosters? Or is that gingko biloba?


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

“I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.”

~James Thurber


Hey, guess what I did yesterday? I put a big, fat checkmark next to my one and only New Year’s resolution: I went to see an allergist.

(You can all still scream “FUCKING GOLF!” and backhand me if you want, for not doing this YEARS ago.)

“Okay!” the cheery receptionist had said in a sing-song voice. “We’ll see you at 8:00 on Monday morning!”

“Great!” I said.

And as soon as I hung up I wanted to backhand myself, because what in the world was I thinking?

  1. I don’t live near the office.
  2. I have to take one highway and several busy roads to get there.
  3. During rush hour.
  4. On a Monday morning.
  5. Ick.

I called back.

“Listen,” I said. “Can I reschedule my appointment for later in the morning?”

“Oh,” the receptionist said. “Well, the doctor really likes to see patients with your symptoms first thing in the morning.”

“How about 9:00?” I asked. “Even one hour later would be better.”

“She’s really pretty adamant about having you here at 8:00,” she said apologetically.

“8:30?”

Silence.

“Um, okay!” I said. “See you at 8:00!”

I was there by 7:45, with all my New Patient forms already completed. I’m such a model patient.

I saw a nurse and the doctor. I answered many questions, blew into some contraption until I was light-headed and seeing small, sparkly stars, and sat patiently as I was poked, prodded, and evaluated. I tried to describe my allergy woes without sounding like a complete wuss. The doctor was great, I have to say. I was there for three hours and she didn’t once make me feel rushed.

Then it was time for the prick test. They wrote numbers on my forearms, one through thirty-five.

“Sometimes we don’t get good results from the prick test,” the doctor warned. “If that’s the case, we may want to discuss doing intradermal testing.”

Turns out that she needn’t have worried. Within seconds of being punctured, huge welts were rising on my arms and my skin went fiery red from palms to elbows. The waiting period was almost unbearable, so badly did I want to claw at my arms and plunge them into a bucket of ice water.

“Don’t scratch!” the nurse warned. “Hang in there just a few more minutes!”

I tried to pretend that I was in labor and took some deep breaths.

The doctor furrowed her brow. “You poor thing. We haven’t had anyone with such a severe reaction in a long time!”

Other nurses were called in to observe the freak of nature in Exam Room #2. The moment the timer went off, they wiped my arms down and measured the welts. A spackle-like layer of cortisone cream was applied to my arms and they brought me an Allegra & Benadryl cocktail.

I sat sniffling at the table with my cortisone-caked arms extended, palms up, a human sacrifice to the allergy gods.

“Well,” the doctor said, “You’re allergic to pretty much everything known to man.”

“Look!” I said hopefully, pointing to a tiny area that was not inflamed. “I didn’t react to the dog test!”

She peered at my arm. “Actually, that’s cockroach.”

Hallelujah! I’m allergic to everything but cockroaches!

My follow-up appointment is in three weeks. In the meantime, I have a variety of medications to test and a strange apparatus that I’m supposed to breathe into twice a day so I can chart the results. Special dust mite-proof covers for our pillows are on order.

Oh, and it looks like I should never, ever leave the air-conditioned house during the seasons of spring, summer, or fall. That’s only eight months out of the year, right?

I could be a professional hermit!

Either that or move to the desert and start a cockroach farm.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Handy

My right arm, wrist, and hand are feeling carpal-tunnelish. I’ve been trying not to type unless absolutely necessary, but I think blogging is absolutely necessary if you’re afraid that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t you? How else can I solicit medical advice from non-medically trained strangers?

My computer use at work is pretty much constant, so some kind of repetitive motion injury seems likely. On the other hand (HA!), the numbness and tingling and general discomfort may be from making 300 potato dumplings. Twice.

I'm becoming more aware of my horrible posture and the way I’m always contorting my body into unhealthy positions. For example, I’ll think, “Ouch! My neck and lower back really hurt!” Then I realize that I’ve been sitting two feet from my desk, straining toward the keyboard with Go-Go Gadget arms and holding my head at a near-90 degree angle for two hours. Oh, and I’m usually sitting on one of my legs.

Why do I do this? I really couldn’t tell you.

The mouse is now living to the left of my keyboard so my left hand can do all the pointing and clicking, and I’m feeling like I did in seventh grade when I sprained my right wrist and had to take an algebra test, showing all my work, with my left hand. I had to use a fat green marker, since my left hand was so weak that I couldn’t properly grip a pencil. In other words, it’s taking me twice as long to do everything.

Looking on the bright side: if I ever lose my right arm in an accident, I’ll be prepared.

This makes me curious. Do any of you lefties out there drive a manual car? Was it weird learning to shift gears with your right hand? Man, I never realized the privileges that we right-handed people enjoy. There are probably all kind of things that I’ve been taking for granted!

Glimpse into Liz’s head:
What about zippers? OMG, how do left-handed people ever zip their coats? Do they put them on backwards, then turn them around? Maybe they just buy coats with buttons…

It’s like this whole other species that I’ve never considered before! I really apologize for my ignorance. Consider me your adopted sister in left-handedness.

Would it be really obnoxious of me to buy a coffee mug that says Lefties are All Right?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Gnocchi and Guinness

Recently I made homemade gnocchi for the first time. Normally I shy away from trying something brand new when unsuspecting dinner guests are involved, but I really wanted to use my new potato ricer. It has pot-gripping ridges and a specially designed angle for maximum leverage!

(I get giddy over kitchen gadgets the way some people get giddy over fast cars or designer handbags)

So I washed the potatoes, peeled the potatoes, cubed the potatoes, boiled the potatoes, and then finally put them through the ricer. It's extremely satisfying, this ricing business. If you liked this when you were a kid, you’d love playing with a potato ricer. Or if the Play-Doh Fun Factory hadn’t been invented yet when you were Age 3 & Up, you might like a potato ricer if you used to enjoy squishing mud through your fingers, or pressing toothpaste into the bathroom window screen to watch it emerge as tiny white worms on the other side.

Not that I did that.

Anyhow, once the potatoes were sufficiently “riced” I added the olive oil, egg yolk, and salt, ending with the flour. I spent a good while forming approximately 300 tiny, perfectly-shaped dumplings, which I lovingly set at appropriate intervals on parchment-lined baking sheets. The trays were placed in the fridge for a couple of hours, until it was time to drop the gnocchi into boiling water.

As I attempted to lift the first dumpling from the tray, it suddenly morphed into a gluey, defiant blob. You know how screaming toddlers seem to go boneless in your arms? That is what my ungrateful gnocchi were doing. THEY WERE HAVING TANTRUMS.

I couldn’t believe it. All that time I spent, molding and patting them and tending to their every need? And THIS is how they repaid me?

Flour to the rescue! I floured my hands, and re-rolled every single dumpling. Every. Single. One.

I have no idea why they revolted in this way. The dough was perfect when I rolled them the first time. Perhaps the kitchen was too warm, and they softened? Should I not have put the trays in the fridge? If you are an experienced gnocchi maker, PLEASE ADVISE.

They still tasted great, by the way, served with Alyssa Torey’s tomato cream sauce. I was just too tired to enjoy them much.


Saturday night M and I went to an Irish pub to build up our Guinness tolerance for the forthcoming Ireland trip. As we grasped our first cold pints we tried to think of an appropriate Irish toast.

“ARRRR, matey!” I finally growled, lifting my glass.

M gave me a strange look and laughed.

“That’s pirate!”

“Blimey!” I tried again.

“British,” he said.

“THEY’LL NEVER TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOM!”

“Braveheart. In Scotland.”

“I’ll be schnookered!”

“Just because you say something with a bad Irish accent doesn’t make it Irish.”

So in the end, we just toasted to Guinness. And foam mustaches.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

All the world's a stage

Last night my husband and I went to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants with my parents, who have been visiting this week. The transportation arrangements left M and I with two cars to drive home. After filling our bellies with vegetable goodness and saying goodbye to my parents, we hit the road.

We just happened to stop next to each other at the first red light, M’s car on the left and mine on the right. He smiled mischievously at me, waved, and motioned for me to roll down my window.

I rolled down my window.

“HEY!” he called, suggestively.

The man in the car behind M’s looked interested. I faced forward with both hands on the wheel.

“HEY, BABY!” M tried again.

I whipped my head around.

“WHAT?”

M grinned. “YOU’RE CUTE!”

The man behind him strained forward against his seatbelt, trying to get a better look at me.

“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?” I shouted.

“I SAID, YOU’RE CUTE!”

I scowled at him.

“LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU JERK!”

The man snapped back in his seat.

M made an exaggerated writing motion with his hand. “CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER?”

“PISS OFF!” I shrieked. M was laughing as the light turned green and the line of cars moved forward.

The other driver crept up on my left. He made only fleeting eye contact before looking away, stricken.

Ridding the world of would-be rush hour pick-up artists, one traffic jam at a time. We consider this a public service.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

If you're missing something important, you should probably check my pockets


Hi. Guess what? I did another stupid thing at work!

I was at an off-site training yesterday. As the instructor talked, I sneakily checked my work email.

As my inbox pops up I see a long line of urgent emails trailing down the screen. I know they are Urgent because each of them has a ! in front of it. I’ve never seen so many ! emails in my life!

Hm. The reason for all the !!! is that an Object of Extreme Importance (OEI) has gone missing in the library. The OEI is so important and its unexplained absence so alarming that a police report will be filed if it is not located within a couple of hours. Also, the library will be held financially responsible, which is really worrisome because the OEI is apparently worth a lot of money.

(No, I’m not going to tell you what the OEI is, but you can have fun guessing)

As I read the emails I feel a twinge of nausea.

! Attention! OEI is missing! MISSING!

Next comes a dull pain in my right temple.

! Please look EVERYWHERE. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH how IMPORTANT it is to FIND THE OEI.

And finally:

! We have narrowed the window of possible theft to between 2:00 and 4:00 yesterday.

Huh. That's funny. The only person in the library between 2:00 and 4:00 yesterday was... ME.

(I am the rat! I AM THE RAT!)

And now that I think about it, I distinctly remember handling the OEI several times. I do not, however, remember putting it back.
I start shooting off quick, furtive emails when the workshop instructor isn’t looking. I can type amazingly well without looking at the keyboard.


Dear Boss,
I thnk I am the one whi lost the OEI. I am sorrt. You can tell eervyone that it was mee.


Dear Boss,
More specificslly, I think I lost the OEI in the pockrt of my brown pants. Unfonrtunaly, the brwon pants are at home.



Dear Boss/

Do you want me fo drive home right now to check? I would be happy to.



It was indeed in the back pocket of my brown pants, which were in the hamper, tangled up in dirty gym socks. That’s not a suitable place for an Object of Extreme Importance. Seriously.

The OEI was returned to it's proper location this morning, as soon as I arrived. I heard a rumor that they're going to attach it to a hubcap, kind of like a gas station bathroom key. I have no idea why they would do such a thing.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

I haven't written about shoes in a while, right?

Recently I spotted these here Mary Janes and fell in love. So cute! So retro! And it looks like I could totally tango in them, if only I knew how to tango.



I mulled it over for a couple of days. Yes, they were cute. I loved them. They would go with lots of my outfits. They were well-made. So finally, I decided I would buy them.

Imagine my distress when I went back to the web site, only to discover the words SOLD OUT next to size 8. And size 7, and size 7.5, and size 9. Apparently I was not the only one who found them irresistibly adorable.

I briefly considered buying the 8.5 and stuffing the toes with cotton, but decided I was being stupid (even though it said LESS THAN FIVE LEFT next to size 8.5 and the pressure was indescribable). An extensive Internet search revealed that no one else sold this particular shoe in this particular color. Of course.

So I was a little sad, and continued to visit the site. You know, just to say hi.


Me: Hi, shoes. How are you? I really like you.

Shoes: SOLD OUT, bitch!

Me: I'm sorry.


I nearly stopped breathing this morning when I checked the site before work. There, next to size 8, were the words LESS THAN FIVE LEFT. Yippee!

My fingers flew so fast they seemed not to be my own as I typed in my MasterCard number and clicked FINISH.

After I'd reveled in my good fortune for a few minutes and the adrenaline had been reabsorbed by my body, it occurred to me to wonder how they could have been SOLD OUT one day, and have LESS THAN FIVE LEFT the next.

And is it really five, or are they just saying that? What if it's really 200?

And the final irritation: shouldn't they say FEWER, rather than LESS?

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