Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Adventures in Driving

Hello, Ethics? Compassion? Golden Rule?

Anyone?

This morning my brother was riding his bike in NYC when he was hit by a cab. The driver fled the scene.

Nice.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Jealous

Things that are Not Fair:
Right now I'm at work while my husband is at home with the super-hot electrician who's installing our attic fan.

This morning I was in the kitchen making my lunch when Mike and the electrician walked through on their way to the deck.

"Ted, this is my wife, Liz," Mike said.

Ted smiled and nodded at me. "Hello."

Mama said that it's impolite to stare. "Harrrrrr," I mumbled. "I mean, hi."

He nodded again, then disappeared out the back door.

"Close your mouth," Mike said.

I chose this electrician because he was highly rated in the Washington DC Consumers' Checkbook, and you know how I love to research and check references. He'd already captured my heart by promptly returning our call when we first contacted him, by being very polite, and then by calling last night to confirm this morning's appointment. I mean, hello! This is the stuff my dreams are made of!

But the fact that he's also a long-haired, rugged hunk who rides a Harley? Doesn't hurt.

Alas. He is there, and I am here. Our love was not meant to be.

(if you live in the DC area and need a good electrician, this guy is awesome, and not just in the looks department. Email me if you need contact info.)

(Edited to add: Ted played with Alex and told Mike that he has a dog, a dog he loves so much that he's broken up with women over him. SWOON.)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Good things

I have some good things to share. But first, Alex wants to say hi:


ME! Look at ME! Still cute! Scratch my belly!



There's something about Alex's face that makes him look very young. He's only four, not an old dog by any means, but every time we walk him someone inevitably asks, "Aww! Is he a puppy?"

And we say no, he's four, actually; he just looks like a baby. And then the person cooes and loves him up and Alex grins and looks at me as if to say, "See? I bet this lady would let me steal Kleenex from the trash."

On with the other good things.

See these boots?


Cute, huh? I saw them in a catalog a few months ago and was immediately smitten. But alas, they were too expensive, and even though I've been known to be generous in my support of the shoe industry, that's a thing of the past. So I ripped the page out and kept it hidden in a drawer so I could sneak lusty peeks at them every so often.

Think of it as my shoe porn.

Fast-forward to two weeks ago, when Mike and I were driving down to Georgia with Mike's sister. She was talking about the discounts she gets through her job, and when she mentioned the maker of my dream boots, I gasped and dropped my ten-pound novel on my flip-flopped foot.

Turns out she could get them for me wholesale, plus her employee discount.

Can you believe it? Some of Mike's relatives can get incredible discounts without breaking any kneecaps. I'm already fantasizing about pulling them on in the morning before I walk through the dewey grass to feed my Pygmy goats, my five dogs bounding alongside me.

(someday)

The next thing may be good, but I won't know until I try it.

Have you ever heard of a neti pot? It works like this:

Picture from this website.

I know! That made you laugh, didn't it? But supposedly it can be really helpful for people who suffer from assorted allergies, sinus, and respiratory problems (neon sign flashes LIZ! LIZ! LIZ!) and because it's all-natural, I'm willing to try it.

You fill it with a warm saline solution, then pour it in one nostril and let the water flow through the nasal passages and out the other side. I heard about it after it was featured on an Oprah show and I'll soon be a hopeful owner. If you're lucky, I'll do a photo essay. Except that I'm just kidding about the photo essay.

I think we have time for one more good thing. It's a crostini recipe from my beloved At Home With Magnolia cookbook. I've made them as an appetizer for the last four dinner parties we've hosted, and everyone loves them.

Guess what you're getting if you come to my house?

Crostini with Goat Cheese, Beefsteak Tomatoes, & Red Onion

tomato and red onion topping:

2 cups diced, seeded beefsteak tomatoes (I often used canned petite diced)

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or more if you're a basil junkie like me)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

crostini:

24 or so 1/3-inch-thick slices of French-bread baguette

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 1/2 ounces soft fresh plain goat cheese, at room temperature

Place all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix together until well-blended. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (I skip the foil for less waste). In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with the garlic (I like to heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds). Brush the top side of each baguette with the oil and garlic mixture. Bake until crisp but just lightly golden, about 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer baguette slices to a large platter. Spread about one teaspoon of the goat cheese onto each slice and them top with about a tablespoon of the tomato-onion topping.

Serve immediately while warm.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Adventures in Customer Service


Phone Call to Company #1:

This call may be recorded for quality assurance!

Representative: *yawn*

Liz: Hello?

Representative: Oh, sorry. Can I help you?

Liz: Uh, yes. I just placed an order on your website and it was supposed to be a gift for my sister, but I accidentally entered my own address for the shipping address.

Representative: So...

Liz: So I want to change the shipping address, please.

Representative: Does your sister live close to you?

Liz: That depends on your definition of 'close'. I'm in the DC area and she's in Brooklyn.

Representative: Brooklyn, New York?

Liz: That's the one.

Representative: That's not very close.

Liz: No, but they're both on the East coast. It's not like she's in California and I'm in Maine, or something.

Representative: But it's not like you can just walk over to her house and give it to her.

Liz: Right. That's why I want to change the shipping address.

Representative: Well, when did you place the order?

Liz: About two seconds before I called you.

Representative: Hmm.... Well, I can't promise anything. We might have to ship it to you and then you'd have to ship it to Brooklyn.

Liz: But I just placed the order. Literally, less than two minutes ago!

Representative: We're pretty quick.




Phone Call to Company #2:

This call may be recorded for quality assurance!

"Hello! Welcome to our automated system! I'm here to help! I'm going to read a list of options! When you hear the option you want, just say it!"

"Operator."

"I'm sorry! Please repeat your request!"

"I want to speak to an operator."

"I'm sorry! I did not understand your request!"

"OPERATOR!"

"I'm sorry! That is not an option!"

"Jesus."

"I'm sorry! That is not an option!"



Phone Call to Company #3:

This call may be recorded for quality assurance!

Associate: Hello, my name is Bill. How may I assist you?

Liz: Bill! A real, awake person!

Bill: What?

Liz: Bill, can you tell me when my credit card will switch to the next cycle?

Bill: Sure. First I just need to get some information from you.

Liz: Okay.

Bill: Can I get your account number?

Liz: 739874923.

Bill: And your husband's name?

Liz: Mike.

Bill: And your mother's maiden name?

Liz: Smith.

Bill: And can you tell us the make and model of one of the cars you have insured with us?

Liz: '65 cherry red Ford Mustang Convertible in mint condition.

Bill: Uh...

Liz: Just kidding. '98 Toyota Corolla.

Bill: That's what I thought.

Liz: So now can you tell me when my credit card is going to switch to the next cycle?

Bill: Yes. Your last statement date was April 13.

Liz: Right.

Bill: And your current balance is $532.37.

Liz: Right, but I want to know on which date I'll be moving into the next cycle. Does that make sense?

Bill: Yes. Your last statement date was April 13.

Liz: Yes, we've established that. Here's what I want to know: if I make a purchase right now, will that charge be added to my current statement balance of $532.37, or will it go on the next one?

Bill: Well, you really don't have to worry. I mean, you don't have to pay anything on your balance if you don't want to.

Liz: I pay off my balance every month, so that's why I want to know.

Bill: Oh, I see. Okay, purchases made as of the 14th will go on the last statement balance.

Liz: So.... purchases made today, May 14th, will be added to the current statement balance, and purchases made tomorrow, May 15th, will be added to the next statement balance.

Bill: Yes. Purchases made as of midnight today will go on the current statement balance.

Liz: Midnight tonight?

Bill: No. Midnight this morning.

Liz: You mean, midnight that already happened?

Bill: Yes.

Liz: So if I make a purchase right now, since it's after midnight this morning, the charge will be added to the next statement balance.

Bill: Precisely.

Liz:

Bill: Can I assist you with anything else?

Liz: What?

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Operation Mother's Ring

So my brother, sister and I decided to go in on a mother's ring for our mom. If you haven't heard of them before, mother's rings come in all different styles, and are set with the birthstones of the children.

In our case, the three birthstones are Blue Zircon, Diamond, and Emerald.


Luckily, the three colors coordinate nicely and are (conveniently) our mom's favorite combination: blue, white, and green. The colors of the ocean! They live in Florida! How considerate of us to be born in those months!

For causing minor fuck-ups you can either blame a) my brother, for having diamond as his birthstone (typical of the middle child to seek attention by being born in the most expensive birthstone month) or b) my sister, for having a birthstone that is so much darker than the other two.

I, as the eldest child, am of course blameless (although I do suffer from an overwhelming need to organize my closet and do everything first, so I guess we're even).


The real blame lies with c) My father, but you'll find out why in a minute.


As the coordinator of the ring-buying effort, I was responsible for choosing the ring, but I had no idea on which finger my mom would want to wear this ring, or what size to buy.

So, I turned to the man who knows her best. My pop.

"Hey, pop!

"Hi, Liz!"

"So Chad, Kim and I were planning to buy a mother's ring for mom."

"Oh! She'll love that!

"I'm just not sure what size to get."

"Oh! Uh...I have no idea what her ring size is."

"Could you find out? I know all the fingers are different sizes, but if you can give me a ballpark idea..."


"..."


"Hello?"


"How do I find out what her size is?"


"I don't know... maybe tell her you want to get her shoe, bra, and ring sizes for future gift-buying. Then she won't know which one you're focusing on."


"I know what her bra size is."


"Um. Right. Well... maybe you could get a ring from her jewelry box and find out what size it is."


"What if she sees me?"


"Right. Well, I'm not sure, then. I guess we could go ahead and order a larger size, and she can get it sized down after we give it to her."

"No, don't worry. I'll figure out a way to get it!"

"Okay."

"Yep, I'll think of a way."


"Great! Just be sure she doesn't get suspicious, okay?"


"Roger that."



Fast-forward a couple of days later...


Dad: Liz! I got the ring size. It's 6 and 3/4.


Liz: Awesome. How did you find out?


Dad: I told her I was thinking about getting her a mother's ring and I wanted to know which finger she would wear it on.


Liz:


Dad:


Liz: Dad.


Dad: What?


Liz: YOU JUST TOLD HER THE SURPRISE.


Dad: No, I didn't!


Liz: Yes, you did! You told her she's getting a mother's ring!


Dad: I just said I was thinking about it, and I didn't say it was coming from you guys!


Liz: Well, that will throw her off for sure.


Dad: She'll be surprised, I know it.


Liz: (sigh)


Dad: What?


Liz: I'm really glad you were in the Air Force and not the FBI.


We decided to wait and give her the ring in person during our family vacation at the end of June. She'll have forgotten all about it by then.


Right?

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Friday, May 11, 2007

TGIF

You've just taken a big mouthful of delicious coffee when a small trickle escapes down the back of your throat. A violent coughing fit is imminent.

Do you:

a) try to swallow anyway, resulting in an unfortunate coffee explosion via the nasal passages?

b) cough and spray coffee across your desk and computer?

c) quickly spit the mouthful back into the mug (along with a healthy serving of saliva) before hacking away?


And if you chose C, do you go ahead and drink the coffee afterward?

Right. Me neither.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Still alive! Sort of.

We drove to Georgia on Saturday and came back Monday, after which work proceeded to kick me around for a few days.

I'm taking tomorrow off. Don't call me. Alex and I will be sleeping in a cozy knot until a ridiculously late hour. Like 9 a.m., even.

I've used my last remaining energy droplets to take the Personal DNA test, based on Bearette's recommendation. If you're nosy or bored and you want to see my results, here they are:

My Personal Dna Report

I am a "Considerate Creator". I think this means that I don't hog the crayons.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

You know, it’s funny- I think we were on the same boat back in 1694.

~lyrics from Shame on You, by the Indigo Girls

After twice utilizing the heavenly option of renewing my driver’s license online, the Department of Motor Vehicles was demanding the pleasure of my non-virtual company. Looking at my old picture, I grudgingly agreed that I looked somewhat different (read: older) than when I’d had the last picture taken, and okay, it was probably time for a new one. Plus, I’d never really liked the old picture too much. Just as I was getting ready for the big moment, a guy behind the camera dropped a stack of manuals and scared the crap out of me.

Result: wide eyes, mouth slightly open, looking all-around below-average.

The DMV I chose is really big and has a mostly efficient system for getting people through as quickly as possible. You can even check online for the estimated wait time before you go.

So I arrive at a slow time, take a number, and have no sooner settled myself in a plastic chair than I am called to the counter. Awesome! No need to panic over the fact that I left my book in the car. I am going to be out of here in no time.

I pay the fee and am told to move to “another area” (vague gesturing) where I will have my picture taken.

So I move to the “other area”, where I find that I am in for a 35 minute wait.

See, here’s the thing: there were lots and lots of people to take your money at the main counter, but only ONE person taking pictures. I think the woman fancied herself to be Annie Leibovitz or something, so carefully did she position each of her subjects. Which, okay. The last thing I wanted was to look like I Am Sam again.

Bookless, I settle in for the boring wait.

Up near the photo counter I hear loud complaints. Oh, god. A woman wants to know WHY THIS IS TAKING SO LONG. CAN’T WE SPEED THINGS UP, HERE?

Apparently not. Defeated but still grumbling, the woman returns to the waiting area.

I do not look at her.

Despite the wide availability of seating options, she plops down right. next. to. me.

Of course she does.

What is it about me that attracts the moaners, the bitchers, the complainers? Why does any crazy person within a 5 mile radius want to talk to me? What could explain this unnatural magnetism?

Don’t make eye contact. Look busy.

I quickly rummage through my purse and pull out my cell phone. Immediately I spot a sign that says: Touch that cell phone and we will CUT YOU.

I put it back.

“CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?”

Oh, god. I take a deep breath and focus intently on the contents of my purse.

Don’t bother me! Can’t you see that I’m extremely preoccupied with trying to find this very important...thing?

The woman taps me on the arm. “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?”

“Urrrr?" I mumble. I decide this is a good time to learn how to remove the battery from my cell phone.

“I MEAN, JUST LOOK AT ALL OF THEM.”

Her hand flies in front of my face and my eyes follow the trajectory, coming to rest on a group of people standing near the camera booth. Normal people, waiting to get their licenses.

I turn back to look at her and holy god, the woman is wearing the thickest glasses I’ve ever seen in my life. Her eyes are like two green lentils, blinking out at me.

“What?” I'm just a bit startled by the tiny, far-away eyes.

“LOOK AT ALL OF THEM. THEY CAN’T EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH AND THEY WANT TO DRIVE CARS IN THIS COUNTRY!”

Still staring at the lentil eyes.

“IT’S DISGUSTING!” she announces. “AND DANGEROUS.”

“Well,” I finally say, “I guess it’s up to the DMV to decide who can get a license.”

“THEY SHOULDN’T BE GIVING OUT LICENSES TO FOREIGNERS!”

I am tempted to get up and move, humiliated by the mere possibility that I could appear to be with her.

“Just because they’re speaking Spanish doesn’t mean they’re foreigners ,” I say.

“IT’S JUST RIDICULOUS!” she continues, as if I haven’t spoken. “ALL THESE FOREIGNERS MAKING THE ROADS DANGEROUS.”

“What are you here for?” I ask.

“I’M GETTING MY LICENSE RENEWED.”

Blink, blink.

At least they can see the road, I think.

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