Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Goals in life

Today at a meeting, everyone was asked to introduce themselves and share something from their "bucket list" as an ice breaker. Lots of people wanted to travel somewhere beautiful before they died or take a cruise. Lots wanted to go skydiving. All I could think of was wanting to get married, have kids, get to be an aunt, buy a house with one of those "mother in law" apartments attached to it that my parents could live in...all nice and boring stuff. So I decided to share something from a list Heather and I made a long time ago.

"When I was younger I had a list of life goals. So I want to marry a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle." As the rest of the room laughed, I added "I'm still hoping Leonardo calls."

When I told Brian that story he made a face. "You can't leave me for Leonardo," he said. "Donatello was way cooler."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roadkill

Oh poor puppy,I thought. Then I looked over my shoulder as I drove past. God I hope that was a dog. How big do rats get?

Friday, September 17, 2010

"She was saying..."

Last night, Brian and I went to bed early. We had gotten up at 5 on Thursday and were going to do so again today. Brian's working on some crazy experiment that needs to be interacted with every 4 hours. He's broken it up with a lab mate, so one person stays until 2 and the other person starts at 6. Brian selected the early shift.

So we were bedding down around 9:30. And my cell phone started ringing. I'm generally wary of phone calls after 9pm. I've never actually gotten bad news after 9, but its just a cultural assumption that late night phone calls are either drunk calls, booty calls(and I don't get those), or bad news calls.

I got up and answered it. It was mom.

Mom: "You have a minute? I need a favor."
Me: "Sure, what's up?"
Mom: "I'm trying to figure out some slang"

Now this part would seem strange, but Mom's been an English as a Second Language teacher my whole life. Her students her slang terms, then they ask Mom what it means. If she doesn't know, she asks me and Maria.

Mom: "What does 'she ways saying' mean?"
Me: "What?"
Mom: "'She was saying' as like an sexual innuendo"
Me: "'That's what she said'?"
Mom: "Yeah."

I then had to explain to my mom the origin and use of "that's what she said"

Mom: "But I watched The Office! I never picked up on those jokes."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

not really a problem

Well, I've already used up my mulligan over Labor day, so not posting last night got me out of the blog challenge. But I'm going to keep trying to blog daily. Or maybe every other day. Often enough that I blog, but dispersed enough that I blog well.

Tonight's blog comes after much thought while driving.

I've run across a problem that's the best kind of problem. The best kind of problems are problems, but not really. Problems like "My apartment is so big, I can't keep it clean," or "I have so many friends, its hard to call them all frequently," or "there was so much chocolate cake, I couldn't finish it." These are problems. But they're the kind of problems that stem from something awesome.

So my best problem right now is my windshield. I always wash my car windows every time I get gas. Once I started working for United Way, this meant washing my windows at least twice a week. But now with my nice fuel efficient hybrid, it means about once a week. Which means that my windows are dirty and gross looking. Its a problem.

But not really.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No Hair!

Maria just did a post about hair and this is a bit of a response. That's the fun dynamic of a blog challenge.

I cut my hair when i was 18. Well really, I did the big ponytail cut off when I was 17, leaving me with a bob that should have been cute but mostly looked like a mushroom. So when I was 18, I finally went for the big drastic cut I had always dreamed of. I understood the Kate Gosselin hair long before she was Kate plus 8. And I loved it. I liked how it framed my face, I liked running my fingers through the short part in the back, I liked spiking it up, I liked getting away with out doing much to it, I liked being able to shower and just go (couldn't put the bob in a ponytail so I had already forgotten the convenience). After the cut my friend Tall Kelly said "I wish your hair had always looked like this. Now you look like you."

I loved having short hair.

When I was in high school and had the big long hair, I never actually wore it down. It was always in a ponytail. It was too voluminous to wear down, since it would balloon out around me and attack those who got too near.

Once when I was in grad school, I pulled my hair back as if I was going to put it in a ponytail. How your hair lays really does change the shape of your face. I looked at the girl with the high forehead and round cheeks staring at me in the mirror and said "Hi High School Jenny." And I also thought, "I don't miss you."

Then I got engaged. I had decided YEARS earlier that when I got married, I wanted to have long hair for the wedding so I would have lots of options for what to do with it. Brian likes this idea. He didn't hate the short hair, but he didn't like it either. Me growing out my hair is the best part of our engagement for him (until we go and taste test cakes). Its also why we need a long engagement. This hair has inches to grow!

But it feels weird. I mean really weird. When it was short, It felt very much a part of me. Like my fingernails or tongue. Now it feels like this separate thing attached to my body. Almost like a tick. Its there, but I have no feeling in it. Its just this strange growth that is unlike any other part of my body.

I do love the convenience of blowing off straightening my hair for 20 minutes and being able to grab a ponytail holder and some pins and just go. Brian thinks I look great with the ponytail. But I think I look 17 years old again, and while I had a good time, I'm over it.

I can't tell yet if I'll keep it long after the wedding or follow in my sister's footsteps. I just know that I'm envious of her freedom to cut it all off, grow it out and cut it again anytime she wants. So here we are, two sisters growing out their hair and jealous of each other.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You are how you eat:: Stubborn.

When i was a kid, there was food I did not like because it tasted bad, and there was food I did not like because other people liked it. My sister liked tacos. Therefore, I did not like tacos. My sister liked S'mores. I did not. I was pretty miffed when she started liking brussel sprouts. I thought i had pretty much covered the market on vegetables not commonly accepted as delicious. But then I decided that I only liked raw vegetables (and corn, you can't not like corn).

It wasn't just what Maria liked though, it was everyone. Everyone liked hot chocolate, so I did not. In fact chocolate was so popular, that i stopped eating it all together. I would even tell people I was allergic to it.

But then there were other foods that I just decided I didn't like. I'm not sure why, I just said "I don't like it" with out even trying it. Like chili. I think I really didn't like to have my food touch. Beans belong on one side of the plate (although i didn't like beans then) and meat on the other side. They should have no interactions. Even carrots in a salad interacted too much for me.

But now I like chili. A whole lot. Its one of my favorite cold-weather foods. And since I make it often enough, I now feel adventurous enough to eat other people's chili. This new interest came into play on Friday when we had a Chili Cookoff at work. I didn't enter a dish, but I happily took a spoonful of each entry to test. Once you've tasted a bit of all of them you could decide which one you wanted a whole bowl of. Several were tasty, but one had a nice kick to it. The label said "caution: hot hot hot" but it didn't taste so bad to me. I got a bowlful, a dollop of sour cream and sat down with my coworkers. And nearly died. Apparently my spoonful was the only non spicy part because this baby had 4 kinds of peppers as well as chili powder and other spiciness. It was hot alright.

I made it through the meal, but had chili-related digestive concerns the rest of the day. I'm thinking it might be time to go back to my less adventuresome ways.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Drink up Me Harties!

Today Brian and I went out to gather veggies from our garden. We got a tomato the size of two softballs fused together, a couple of zucchinis and a ton of carrots. Delicious evenings are ahead of us.

On the way out of the park we walked past an older man (early 60s) with headphones on going for a run. His music was turned up so high we could clearly hear what he was listening to. It was the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean. And I don't mean the inspiring orchestral soundtrack to the movie, I mean the lyrical soundtrack to the the ride at Disney.

"We're rascals, scoundrels, villains, and knaves, Drink up, me hearties, yo ho. We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs, Drink up, me hearties, yo ho. Yo ho yo ho a pirate's life for me"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Dress Part 2: Return of gorgeous

This one is a follow up to the post about the dress. Sometimes the universe is on your side and things happen just the best way possible. That's how this story ends, but for a few minutes, i was ready to implode, black out and throw up.

After I left the dress shop on Thursday, I was still a little worried about what would happen to the dress. What would I do if it was discontinued? The shop girl and I had talked about buying the floor sample they had there, but it was still more expensive than if I bought it new in MN (no sales tax and apparently just $400 cheaper). So I went home, told Brian it was beautiful and made plans to find a shop in MN that I wanted to give my money to.

Today, I woke up, attempted to shower (broken shower--will post about that one later), and got my stuff together to go to the dentist. I had heard my phone beep during my process, but figured it was just a text from someone.

Side bar: I've gotten to a point in life where I assume all text messages at odd times are someone announcing their engagement. So I always wait until I have enough time for a freak out before I read my texts.

It wasn't a text. It was a message from the Ann Arbor bridal shop. The saleswoman had left me a message that she had "good and bad news." I had to be at the dentist in 10 minutes, so I hoped it would be that they had a sale coming up and not that my dress was discontinued. I figured I'd follow up once someone was done poking my mouth with sharp instruments.

But I get by with a little help from my friends. Apparently the saleswoman (Amanda) had remembered how much I loved my gown and when hearing big news about it, attempted to call me. But since I had not given them my number, she found the number for Melissa the Texan and called her instead. She told Melissa the news and then got my number as well. So while I was waiting for the dentist, Melissa called.

"The dress has been discontinued as of yesterday."

Crap.

I sat through my appointment, and rushed home to call the dress shop, Micaela who has connections in the dress community and any other dress shop who could tell me what was going on.

Amanda from the dress shop explained that the dress was discontinued, but that meant that the floor sample was now $700 off. Which was now firmly in my price range. She had hidden it in the backroom and was keeping the other sales people away from it, but she could only manage that for a day. Already she'd had to yell at a few coworkers looking to make an easy sale. I promised to come in and see if it was in good enough condition for me to buy.

For those of you who have not experienced wedding dress shopping--purchasing a floor sample is an exciting gamble. Floor samples get treated poorly. People get make up on them, rip them, and sweat in them. They often have loose beading or seams. But they're often very cheap and the store does what they can to make the dress "like new."

So I called my parents (hoping to get mom, talked to dad instead), my sister, and Heather. Everyone told me to go for the sample dress. If it was in a good condition and so cheap, it was okay to try.

Melissa the Texan and I trekked out to the store and spent an hour with Amanda going over the dress. There were some spots and some loose beads, and two small rips along seams, but otherwise it was in great condition. You'd only notice the problems if you're painstakingly reviewing the dress as we were.

So I put the dress on, walked in circles around the store and made up my mind. This is MY DRESS.

So now I have a dress.

And Amanda is going to get a rave review on google.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rough drive

Sometimes you go on auto pilot. You drive the same roads every day, walk the same sidewalks, pass through the same halls, and don't really need to think about where you're going in order to get there.

I apparently have a malfunction in my auto pilot.

Today I got on the highway to go to work. After 10 minutes, I realized I had gotten on the wrong direction and was driving AWAY from work. So instead of getting into the office before traffic gets bad, I added an extra 40 minutes to my commute by backtracking and hitting the bussiest roads at the worst time.

Anyone have an autopilot tuner?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Dress

A few months ago, my friend the Texan and I celebrated her new engagement by going to try on wedding dresses. I wasn't really looking for the perfect dress, just doing some bonding and excited giggling about the upcoming nuptials.

But dress love is like true love, it happens when you least expect it.

So I tried on a dress without looking at the price tag, just because it looked fun. Not even that it looked like what I wanted. And it turns out it was exactly perfect for me. It had all the elements I've been looking for in a wedding dress. Its sophisticated and yet has the childhood fantasy about it. My favorite part is that when i crouch on the ground, the dress poofs out around me like in the King and I.

There's a humorous story that I'll post another time about me mixing up the price tags when I told Brian about the dress, but this post is about today's encounter with The Dress.

I had tried to find The Dress to try on while I was in Minneapolis so Momma and other friends/future family could see it. But there wasn't a single store within 50 miles that carried it. They could order it for $50, but no one already had it in stock. So I continued to think about it, but didn't try it on again personally.

I'd been wanting to go try it on again, and had pretty much convinced myself that it wasn't as good as I remembered it. Today I left work at a decent time and went to the dress store with my Texan friend again. The Dress was everything I remembered it to be and so much more. It was beautiful and the longer I wore it, the more I loved it.

Then the salesgirl, in a mixture of helpfulness and desire to sell the gown told me that it was one of the designer's "older" styles and had a good chance of being discontinued some time in October. She explained that the designing company is really tight mouthed about what dress will stay and what will go. After they discontinue the dress, you have about a week to order one. After that, they're gone forever.

I think she thought I would lay some money down on the spot. Instead she has sentenced herself to a daily call from me wondering what dresses were discontinued this year...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to school

Today was the first day of school for my friend Heather. She is going back to grad school for her master's and I'm so proud of her.

My sister once blogged that she didn't know how on earth I could stand to stay in school another two years for a master's degree. I think even worse would be getting a taste of the real world and deciding to go back to school anyway. I don't think I would have done it except for the fact that I didn't know what else to do with a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies.

But here my Heather goes. She's smart, she's a hard worker, she's anxious and she's done all 500 pages of reading before her first class. I know she'll shine.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Split

When you read my blog yesterday, you might have thought to yourself "If this is the second split, when was the first?"

Ah gentle reader, that is a good question.

When Brian and I were first getting excited about our move to Paradise, we agreed that we would no longer live like college students. It was fine for Madison and for Purgatory, but in Paradise, we would live like adults. That meant no more futon in the living room. It was time for a couch.

So we moved in, got happily unpacked, and stared sadly at the open part of our living room where a couch belonged. The next weekend--when every single person we knew in Ann Arbor was out of town--we decided to buy a vacuum and look at couches.

It turns out that a vacuum cleaner was too big of an investment for us to do on our own and we decided to wait for Brian's mom to visit before buying one. But a $500 couch we were able to pick out and purchase in 45 minutes. Then came the dilemma. Do we pay $80 for delivery?

No. We pay $20 for a U-Haul and deliver it ourselves. It wasn't too scary getting the couch from the store to the van, but from the van to the apartment was another story. First we tried bringing the couch in the front door--but a staircase right inside the door would have required lifting the couch six feet in the air to get it in the building. So Brian eyeballed the back door of our building and decided we could fit the couch in that way. We hauled the couch out and around...only to find out that the door way was 1/2 an inch too small.

We put the couch down. Debated. And resigned ourselves to having to lift the couch up the stairs to make it to our apartment. We had a plan. It was time to ennact. I bent down to lift the couch with my knees, and suddenly there was a breeze where there was no breeze before. I said "Oh my god." Brian looked at me with an expression of pure joy and asked breathlessly "Did you just rip your pants?"

Six inches. Straight up the middle.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Second Split

I've started jogging again. I've never really cared for it, although it seems the easiest way to exercise. I know a lot of people love it, but I see it as a horrid necessity. Before my legs feel tired, my lungs are burning and my stomach hurts. There have been a few times when I've felt good as i finish, but I've never gotten a "runner's high" and have rarely felt better after running than I did before.

But today, I got off the couch and went for a short jog. Felt horrible during and after. Was glad it was over.

This evening, I played ultimate Frisbee with some friends from Brian's department. I was running up and down all over the field, barefoot with my jeans rolled up, and I loved it. There were times when I was tired, but it felt good. I felt good.

On the way to the car, I talked with one of the other players about making it a regular occurrence. I could get in shape and maybe enjoy myself a bit.

This fun idea seemed more like a necessity as I sat down in the car and felt my pants split open.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday's post

Brian and I were at a wedding this weekend. It was a lovely outdoor ceremony (my first outdoor wedding). The Bride looked stunning, the Groom looked excited, and the whole ceremony was over in less than 15 minutes. I was glad we weren't stuck in the wind and sun for hours, but I was a little sad that it was over so fast. I have a perverse love of getting all choked up at weddings.

Not just weddings, most things.

Brian has already found that I cry when watching TV or movies, as well as when reading or listening to music. Sometimes things just move me. Sometimes they don't. But when they get me to cry, I end up stuffy nosed, a little nauseous and completely satisfied. I've shared in a human experience with others, and it feels right.

So this weekend, even though the wedding was over in less time than it takes Domino's to deliver, I still shed a tear or two, despite the hurry.

Saturday's belated post

I had plans for posting on Saturday morning before Brian and I left for a wedding. We had a carpool of friends picking us up at 9am, so we figured we'd have plenty of time to get up at 7, get ready, pack and feed the Bride and Groom's cats. And I would have time to blog.

The best laid plans of mice and men...

When we were packing, I told Brian to grab his khakis and the dark blue dress shirt I had bought him last year. He found the shirt, but not the khakis. Where were they? Were they in the dresser? No. Were they in the closet? No. Were they in my closet? No. Finally we realized that before we moved, we had gone through all of Brian's clothes and gotten rid of the ones we thought were ugly or didn't fit him right. The khakis fell into both categories and were exiled to goodwill.

This led to a 8am run to Target in frantic search for new khakis. Brian found a lovely pair and looked fantastic for the wedding. But I didn't get to blog.

Friday, September 3, 2010

TGFBV

When I was growing up, I envied christian girls. They had the one thing I didn't--an excuse for awesome jewelry. Beautiful crosses go with any outfit, and while I enjoyed the political button, you can't throw them on with a dress for a fancy party. But then! Life changed. My church put a little book shop in the basement that sold, along with books, bumper stickers and political buttons--Unitarian jewelry. Now I could have a lovely, religiously significant necklace that went with everything. My parents bought me a sweet silver chalice necklace for my 18th birthday. Its in high rotation now that I'm a working professional.

But the first thing that I do when i come home, is take off the necklace and either put it in my jewelry box, or leave it on top of the microwave. This microwave thing works out well, since I usually forget about jewlery until my hand is on the door nob in the morning. Instead of having to run all the way back to my closet, i can just reach over and nab the necklace and go.

But with great convenience comes great pit falls. Today while I was cleaning the apartment, i accidentally sucked the necklace up with the vacuum (yes, i vacuum on top of my microwave, doesn't everyone?). "AAAAHHH!" I said. But then, I remembered the ease and convenience of my bag-less vacuum. I snapped open the dirt container and abracadabra there's my necklace, unharmed but a little dusty.

Thank God For Bag-less Vacuums.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

lame blog

Again, tonight wont be a well crafted blog. I think if I'm going to blog every day, i need to put time aside to blog well. Its not something that I just want to do off the cuff. But, since I entered a blog challenge, today you get a lame blog.

Today when I was driving home, I took advantage of my new car's CD player (good bye old cassette tapes) to listen to some old CDs. Including a mix that a friend had made me back in 03. I was tired. I was grumpy, but listening to that CD made me energetic and happy. You can see the music video to one of the songs here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0aXY2pM2sA

After dancing around in my car for 20 miles, I wondered why anyone was friend with me in 03.

I also decided that my favorite thing Queen ever did, was the soundtrack to Highlander.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to blog basics

If you hadn't noticed, i haven't blogged in a while. I'll probably have to put it on Facebook that I'm blogging again. I didn't mean to stop, but it seems like in the summer time, there's so many other things to do (or to think about doing) instead of blogging. But Sister has challenged me to blog every day, so as long as she does it, I'll do it.

But i am already lazy and wanting to sleep soon. I will say that I signed up for an online health program. I told it about my habits and why I'm having trouble loosing weight. It at one point came back with the response "We're confused. You say you don't have time to exercise, but you spend two hours a night on the computer or watching TV."

Caught in the act.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bad Mans!

Brian left last week for a two week trip to Arizona and Portland. I have all sorts of fun things planned with Melissa the Texan for Girls Fortnight, but tonight fun was put on hold. Because the last time i heard from Brian was the 26th. He told me that he probably wouldn't call on Saturday. Fine, I can handle that. But I thought it was odd when he didn't call Sunday. And when he hadn't called or answered my emails by 10:30pm on Monday, I was really worried. I tried calling the friend who he was visiting in Portland, but he didn't answer.

So then I googled "violent crime portland". All I got were stories about Al Gore and a massage therapist.

Then, joy of joys, Brian's friend called back.

Me: "I'm worried. I haven't heard from Brian since he left Arizona. Have you talked to him."
Friend: "Yeah, he's staying at my house. I can definately vouch that he is alive."
Me: "That's good. He might not stay alive when he gets home."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Society Forum

Earlier this week, my boss offered to send anyone interested to the United States Social Forum. Despite the fact that it was being held less than 8 blocks away, we hadn’t known about the conference until the week it was happening. It sounded like a good chance for me to interact with more community members, so I signed up.

I should have realized from the title “US Social Forum” that not too many Detroiters should be in attendance. After all, the problems of Detroit aren’t replicated anywhere else (or at least that’s how Detroit feels). But I figured it would still be an opportunity to learn and dialogue about social problems.

Walking into the main hall, I felt one hundred percent out of place. I was dressed down for work, just khakis and a white shirt, but I was way too dressed up. I was also probably in the older half of the crowd.

My impression of the crowd got much worse when I went to my first workshop: Community Bike Co-ops as a Resource for Community Empowerment and Innovation. If I had known what the dress code was, I could have worn my cut off corduroys (or cut off dress pants) and paint smeared social justice graphic t-shirts too. And I hadn’t realized before the workshop that both shoes and bras were optional. I could have also worn my Birkenstocks as I knitted with tree branches instead of needles.

The content of the workshop was a bummer, as it was more about making “the most awesomest co-op possible” rather than improving transportation options for low income individuals.

But my favorite part of the workshop was the little old Pakistani man with a dyed orange beard, twelve necklaces and a variety of wooden jingling bracelets named Avatar. He kept complaining that no one was speaking loud enough. I thought it was probably because his bracelets drowned out all other noises.

At the end of the day, on the way home, I was followed by a homeless man who apparently holds degrees from UCLA, UNLV, lives in a penthouse with a pool downtown and is friends with "lots of movie stars." After two blocks i pretended my phone was ringing and answered my quiet cell phone. He asked for my number, but i was too busy talking to my phone to answer....

Friday, June 25, 2010

I should always listen to my mother

Brian’s coworkers had the idea to have a party in which we eat White Castle sliders and watch the Predator movies. I told my mom. She said that sliders are disgusting. I said I had never tried them and thus would ignore her advice to avoid them.

I should never ignore her advice.

Brian and I ate 10 sliders, then came home to a stinky death. I could feel sliders coming out my pores.

Side note—when I’m not feeling well, I’m like a cat. I want to be away from my usual space. So, instead of sleeping in my bed, I prefer to sleep on the floor near the bathroom. It doesn’t matter if I think I need to throw up or not, it’s just where I prefer to sleep when sick. It might have something to do with feeling like my bed is my only space that I can keep clean (remember freshman year?). But none the less, a sick Jenny is a Jenny near the bathroom. Here in Paradise, my closet is the room next to the bathroom. So I can curl up on clean carpets and still be less than 15 inches from the toilet.

After I woke up on the closet floor the next morning, all I wanted was fruit and vegetables. And only fresh versions of each. So we spent the day eating salad, strawberries and peaches. Brian tried to convince me to have chicken for dinner, but I was thoroughly uninterested.

I should always listen to mom.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Like Fergie, I don't want no drama

So softball has continued to be interesting. After Roz’s jaw was broken (had to be wired shut, which made her lose her job), we had lots fewer team members.

Brian and I had joined the team because a friend from college asked us to. He and I had met while working together over a summer and had become friends through a mutual appreciation of how awesome I am. We moved to Ann Arbor at about the same time as the friend moved back in with his parents in neighboring Ypsi.

We were unaware that the rest of our team members know each other either through this friend of mine (2 other people) or because they have bought from, sold to or smoked with other team members (rest of the team). So while I was excited to be on the “High Life” softball team, it led to the rude realization that no one else is interested in having a Miller after the games.

This is not the source of the drama.

The drama centers around one little sect of our team. This group was headed by Billy and Chase. Other folks in the group who are also team members included Ken, Taylor and Amanda, Billy’s girlfriend. Since our team had a high attrition rate at the beginning of the season (one injured and one scared off), it’s really important that everyone attend and participate. It is also really important that Amanda be on the team, because without her, we will face games where we lose points for having too few girls. So while these 5 aren’t all great at softball, they all are good and are necessary for our team.

But, Billy and Chase are annoying. Chase slept half way through a game, arrived late and almost got us disqualified by adding himself to the roster after the game started. Chase also is loud. So loud that I can hear him heckling from the dugout while I’m in right field. But he doesn’t usually heckle the other team. He just heckles our own players.

Billy is more subtle. Apparently he and Chase objected to the skill level of one of our team members, Scott. Since Scott comes to practice and shows up on time to games, he gets one of the first picks for what position he plays. And even though he knows he’s not great, he wants to have fun and play second base.

Billy and Chad didn’t think he should. And so they heckled him. And pestered our coach to move him from second base. Constantly. Our coach apparently received 40 texts in a single day on the topic.

Our coach had gotten fed up and planned how to deal with this problem. Unfortunately before that happened, Amanda injured her knee badly while batting and left for the hospital with Billy. Now we are permanently down one girl.

In what may have been a poor political choice, our coach decided to call a team meeting. In the team meeting, he specifically called out Billy (absent due to hospital trip) and Chase for their annoying behavior. He cited their constant whining about the way things were run and noted that Chase had threatened to leave the team and take Billy, Amanda, Ken and Taylor with him. This was about the time that Chase freaked out.

There was screaming, cursing and at one point, almost a fist fight. The meeting ended with Chase taking off his jersey and throwing at our coach before stomping off to the parking lot. I would have taken it more seriously if there wasn’t 2 inches of butt crack showing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Think on your feet

Part of my job means that I work directly with 17 agencies that do social justice work in the area. So to further that work, I go and do site visits. I drive my little car out to where the good things happen, get a tour and chat about what’s being done.

I made plans with one of my agencies to come out and see their annual job fair. I’d get the tour, see the speaker and eat a free lunch. This was a good plan.

Plans rarely survive the first engagement.
I got to the agency, walked around a bit and then was ushered into the ballroom for lunch. I was all ready to sit in the back of the room, when the guy in charge informed me I’d be sitting at the head table. In the front of the 200 person room.

“Don’t worry, you won’t have to speak,” quickly became “You can just say hello, how you doing and a few words about United Way.”

Crap! I went from happy anonymity to sitting in the front with the executive directors (one of whom is having a little fight with United Way over a quarter of a million dollars) and needing to speak.

The session began with me quietly freaking out, sipping lemonade and texting a dozen people. I was introduced and tried to get away with just waving my hand. Nope, they gestured to the mic and I was forced to give an awkward 30 second “Hi and happy to be here.” Then I sat down and thought of all the other things I could have said.

It was a 15 on the awkward scale.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Return of the Blog

So I’ve been told by just about everyone to start blogging again. So I’m ready to start.

Today, there roof of my car was covered with incapacitated flying ants. The whole roof and much of the trunk was just a field of ants with wings, laying on their backs and kicking their little legs impotently.

I bet you were hoping for something more impressive. I’ll try to do better.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Softball Scare

Last night was my softball team's first game. I had to miss our one and only practice the week before because of work, so i was a little nervous to start playing the game again after 15 years. Brian has joined the team with me, but had to miss the first night because of exams.

I arrived to the field and was greeted with the news that our opponents were not going to come. But since everyone needed the practice, the team playing before us stuck around for a scrimmage. The first inning went well, and we switched to being the team in the field just as it was my turn to bat (SAVED! was my response). I played a mean right field, and showed a great deal of team spirit by running quickly from the dugout to my position, and back again.

The second inning started with me batting. Since it was only a scrimmage, each batter started with one strike and one ball. The first pitch, i swung and missed entirely. At the second pitch, the umpire behind me yelled "illegal pitch" as i swung my bat. Apparently if i hadn't swung it wouldn't have counted against me, but since i did swing, it was a strike. I went back to the dug out to chat with a friendly girl named Roz.

Midway through the inning, Roz was up to bat. She hit the ball right to second base, where the basewoman caught it off the ground and LAUNCHED it to first. The ball, the baseman and Roz were all zeroing in on the same target. THWACK went the ball into the baseman's glove...and Roz's head. In an awful moment of alignment, the glove and ball were right in front of Roz's left jaw, and the huge momentum of the ball sent Roz sliding 3 feet past first base, to lay sobbing and spitting blood.

The other team supplied her with clean wash cloths and water, as the umpires and middle aged mom/softball players assessed the damage. It was decided that she might have a concussion, might have injured a bone in her face and might need stitches for where she bit her lip open. Two of our players drove her to the emergency room.

I figured, once someone needs medical care, the scrimmage ends. Right? Wrong. We kept going. My next run up at bat i thought, "no way am i getting any where near this ball. When it comes at me, i'm moving out of the way." So when my bat connected to the ball and sent it flying towards third base, you can imagine my shock. I stood there for a moment wondering where the ball was going, before i made a mad dash to first. I didn't make it that time, but did later in the game.

My team also saw fit to make me catcher, despite my fear of the ball, the bat and other players running towards me. Since the job mostly consisted of chasing bad pitches after they had bounced off the ground, i did pretty well. At one point, there was a runner on third and first. The batter hit the ball to the infield. The player on third was headed home, but i was ready. I stood with one foot on the base and my glove ready, shouting for the ball. Which i caught. Unfortunately, my knowledge of softball comes from "A League of their Own," which is of course about Baseball. In softball, you can't just stand on home base, you need to tag the runner. Which I did not.

In the final inning, I was catcher again as a runner was headed toward me from third. The one really hard core guy launched the ball towards home base, and it could either be caught by me, or by the pitcher, who was standing 3 feet in front of me. Watching the velocity of the ball as it headed towards my face, I made the decision that i believed in the athletic abilities of my teammate, and stepped out of the way to the right. He caught the ball, then had difficulty keeping it in his glove. The runner was safe at home, and nothing hit me in the face.

We still won the game.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Financial Illiteracy

Today I went to a meeting on financial education. It was for United Way staff and it was billed as "not just the basics but moderate to advanced learning as well." I should have waited for a program that had just the basics. We discussed available credit versus credit scores, fixed rate mortgages versus APR rates for purchasing a car. I was so very lost. We were working in small groups and at one point a group member asked if i had anything to add to the discussion. I told him that i was so confused about what was going on, I wasn't sure where i was anymore. Eventually I gave up and started singing Journey songs go myself. Half way through "Lights" i decided that i really should take a beginners level class, because if something happens to Brian or my Dad, I'll be financially screwed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I don'ta think'em is what you think'em is

Now that I am a professional, I find myself working hard to fit into the norms of United Way life. I try to dress better, work long hours, and generally fit into the business culture. By in large, its going well. But part of culture is language.

I make a lot of jokes about Michigan being another planet, but its a planet where most people still speak the same language that I do. Mostly.

After my first two weeks of hearing people constantly talk about "Leveraging our work," I finally sat my boss down and told her that I didn't know what they were talking about. Leverage to me meant finding a crowbar to open something, or perhaps a show on TNT, or even a finance term I looked up on Wikipedia. None of these things fit the context. It turns out that in United Way-Speak, leverage means to coordinate efforts to produce better outcomes, especially meaning that the different types of work compliment each other. So that was my first United Way language lesson.

My second lesson was about tickling and Rocks.
Each quarter, our various business units set goals for ourselves. But we don't call them goals, we call them rocks. At each staff meeting, we set an agenda to discuss our rocks, and any other non-rock topic. It took a whole "rock setting" meeting to figure out what was happening.

One of our rocks is always about making sure we are entering our contacts into the database. Most of this is to help fund development, so they know who has strong relationships with potential donors. But it also helps to know who else is talking to an agency before you go out for a site visit. So, after each contact with individuals or agency, you put a note in their data base file. But on that note you can "tickle' other staff persons, to make sure they see the note. Tickling is very important.

So i find myself at staff meetings trying not to laugh as we discuss leveraging food, carrying and trading rocks and tickling at least 15 people a month.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My coworkers' lunch

Lots of people in my office are on Weight Watchers. Of my team of six, three are on Weight Watchers. They're all really supportive of each other, and talk about it a lot of the time. I'm feeling like I should join too. I do want to loose weight before the wedding and, mostly, I want to be part of the group. I want people be interested in my lunch too.

Friday, April 2, 2010

my coworkers

A friend asked me what my coworkers are like. Most of them are in their 30s or 40s. I’ve seen some other folks that might be close to my age around the office, but I think most of them are in different departments, like fund raising, marketing or 211 (where folks can call in and get information about how to access resources). I think I’m really proud to be the youngest person in my department, if only because it means that they thought I could hold my own in a group of experienced workers.

About half the staff at United Way is African American and a little less than half is white. A friend of mine once worked at an agency that explicitly hired staff so that their staff matched the racial composition of the people they served. Since we serve Detroit which is 90% African American and 3 counties that are a bit more diverse, I think the staff probably reflects the area well. It’s definitely the most racially diverse place that I’ve ever worked and I’m really glad that it is. I would have been disappointed with anything less.

Since most of the staff is older and we’re often meeting with very important people, everyone dresses really nicely. I mean really. I used to think a nice sweater and dress pants were enough. Now I find myself looking for blazers and accessories to dress up my limited clothes selection. Hopefully there’s a sale at Macy’s soon.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My office

Also before my computer died I had started writing a whole string of blogs that were "my ___" themed (like Scrubs episodes). So here's one of them:

I figured I’d start telling y’all about my new work life in installments. Today I’ll tell you about the building I work in. I work in a BIIIIIG old building. It’s the First National Building in downtown Detroit. The building itself has a website! It’s just off a little “park” which is mostly concrete but has ice skating in the winter time. The space United Way has looks out on to the park and I can see the Hard Rock CafĂ© (the epitome of class!).

Inside my building is…weird. If you keep your eyes level, you see an open and airy office building. Very modern and chic. Lots of new equipment and desks. New clean carpets. If you look up, you’ll see old plaster molding from what I assume to be the 1920s that is falling apart and exposed metal pipes and beams. In some parts of the office, the floor is bare concrete.

United Way of Southeastern Michigan is also a pioneer of something called free-range or hotelling in an office. Only about 30 staff out of 100 have their own desks. The rest of us pick somewhere different to sit every day. Most staff have laptops and so set up shop wherever they’d like. There’s about 10 desks with desktops where I usually set up camp as well. Interspersed throughout the 3 floors of our space are little glass cubicles called “fish bowls” that fit a desk, chair and book case. The glass cubicles have 2 walls that are opaque, one wall that is glass and a fourth glass wall that has a sliding glass door as well. The walls go up about 10 feet and then are open to the air again so you don’t get claustrophobic. If you have your own office (like 3 of the Vice Presidents do), that’s what your office looks like.

There’s a whole article on the office here:
http://www.freep.com/article/20100118/COL35/100118027/1005/NEWS03/Detroit-and-the-office-of-the-future

Apparently it saves lots of money for the United Way. I like not being tied down. I don’t like that I haven’t been assigned a filing drawer yet so I carry around a stack of paper 8 inches tall in my backpack.

The cold

This is a post I wrote back in January before my computer died. Now that I have a new computer, I finally found the file and can post.

I’m learning all sorts of information about Michigan with my new job. I didn’t know that Detroit had the largest Middle Eastern population out side the Middle East. I was unaware that most of the abandoned buildings in Detroit have been abandoned since the 60s. And I was unaware that it’s legal for energy companies to turn off the heat in winter. In Wisconsin, or at least in Madison area, no energy company can legally turn off heat in winter. Sometimes this can be a problem for folks who don’t pay their heat from November to March and rack up huge bills that they have no hope of paying off, but at least these people survived.

I read a report while I was at work one day that folks could loose heat over the winter due to an inability to pay their bills and I was sure it wasn’t true. How could you do that in the Midwest? So I called one of the agencies I work with. Apparently in Michigan, although the utility companies have policies against doing something as horrible as turning off heat, it still happens. My agency told me that a senior citizen freezes to death in their own home almost every winter in the Detroit area.

Agencies like those I fund or even the ones I work for don’t want to attack the companies because they are valuable partners to us in our work. So when someone dies in the cold no existing agency feels capable of addressing the problem, and public outrage dies after a few weeks.

That’s just wrong.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welcome Spring

Every year, my church back home has a fantastic celebration to welcome the Spring Equinox. It involves the choral reading group, small children dancing with scarves and the song "Calypso Alleluia."

The service always goes the same way. The head of the service reads about the East, the congregation does a responsive reading that ends with "Welcome Spring! Welcome the season of new life and new possibilities!" Then a group of children walk in carrying little suns on a stick and the whole congregation sings "Calypso Alleluia". In case you don't know the words, the song goes "Ahhhhhh-leluia sing ahhh-luia. Ahhhhhh-leluia sing ahhh-luia. Alleluia, Alleluia, Ahhhhh-leluia. Ahhhhhh-leluia sing ahhh-luia. Ahhhhhh-leluia sing ahhh-luia."

And then, we welcome the South. The congregation does a responsive reading that ends with "Welcome Spring! Welcome the season of new life and new possibilities!" and a group of children parade in with birds on sticks. The congregation sings "Calypso Alleluia."

We welcome the West. The congregation welcomes spring, children parade in with watering cans and umbrellas and everyone sings "Calypso Alleluia."

Then we welcome the North (or rather, my dad leads the welcoming of the north, as he is a very important person at the church). The congregation welcomes spring, the children parade in with colored scarves and everyone sings "Calypso Alleluia."

And then they sing Calypso Alleluia as a round.

This was the first year that I couldn't be home for the celebration. So my mom called me just as the service started so I could listen in (and sing along). Brian had no idea what was happening as i answered my phone, laughed hysterically, laughed a bit like Bevis and Butthead and sang "Calypso Alleluia" four times...

It was the most awesome phone call ever.

Tootin

Today was a beautiful day in Michigan. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and we had our windows open to soak up springtime. I kept thinking I could hear some sort of brass instrument, but chalked it up to the neighbors listening to music. Eventually, I looked outside to see a man standing in the middle of a field, playing trombone with a small child playing in the dirt at his feet.

The sounds of spring.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Water water everywhere

Yesterday I took a much needed afternoon off. Turns out, more than two 12 hour days in a row will tire you out. So Brian and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Badgers win at basketball and then attended the customary Bio Bev in the Ecology building. I haven't been able to make it to bio bev in a few weeks because of work and volunteering, so it was nice to be back, enjoying a Woodchuck and pretending to know what people are talking about.

*Fun fact: A Puma is a Cougar is a Mountain Lion is a Panther; A Woodchuck is a Groundhog is a Whistle Pig.

During this discussion of Pumas and Woodchucks, a strange alarm went off. I call it strange because it was just a very loud, constant buzzing. Tornado sirens and fire alarms all have varying sounds and loudness. And fire alarms usually have blinking lights inside a public building too.

So where was the noise coming from. I, with Melissa the Texan and Dan the child of Hippies went to investigate. Turns out, someone had activated the emergency eyewash station in the hallway and it was now spewing water everywhere. Dan ran through the sprinkler to go call Facilities Management. I ran through the sprinkler to go to the bathroom (alcohol+a sprinkler, of course i have go). On the way back, i saw the sprinkles which had before been creating a neat little stream were now attempting to create Lake Michigan in the hallway. I took action, got wet and figured out how to stop the sprinkler.

I was damp for a while, but satisfied with myself.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lessons

Brian has now built me a beautiful beast of a computer. I will post pictures as soon as i install the right software. But for now, I get to blog about the posts I've been saving up!

With my long commute(at least 6 hours a week in the car), I've turned to books on tape as an entertaining alternative to music. I really am enjoying being able to read a book and drive a car at the same time without worrying about running off the road. And I get to listen to books that I can't seem to get through reading on my own. Someone asked me what I've learned from listening to books. I'm glad you've asked:

"The Man Who Fell to Earth"
-If your planet's fate rests on the shoulders of one man, you might want to make sure he's not a crabby, crazy asshole first.
-If you are an alien trying to pass as human, say you are from Kentucky.

"Fahrenheit 451"
-If a mechanical dog is suspicious of you, its because it knows what you've done wrong.

"On a Pale Horse"
-If your dad sets you up on a date with the Grim Reaper, your life is about to take a turn for the worse.
-Don't offer to take someone else's sins on your soul. Especially if you have recently been intimate with a demon.

"The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin"
-Tom Sawyer is an asshole. Don't listen to him, even if it sounds like he is trying to help you.

"Short stories of Sherlock Holmes"
-If you plan to kill someone with a snake, make sure it can't slither back through a hole in the wall and kill you.
-Don't trust people who reward you for having red hair.

"Gulliver's Travels"
-Always make sure all the tapes for a book on tape are functional before beginning. Otherwise, you will have to actually read the book to find out what happened.

"Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
-When traveling through middle earth, you will probably fall asleep a lot. Even if it seems like a bad idea, totally random, or entirely suspicious, its not a big deal.

Friday, March 12, 2010

STAY AL

Like alot of highways, the road I drive on has the electronic signs that can be used to alert drivers to accidents that have occurred on the road ahead, or the amount of time it will take to reach a particular exit.

But sometimes these signs are for advice.

ON ICE AND SNOW
TAKE IT SLOW

ARRIVE ALIVE
DONT TEXT AND DRIVE

I like that its not just advice, its rhyming advice. Like "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" or "liquor before beer you're in the clear." I imagine while I'm driving a group of miniature cheerleaders in blue and yellow (Michigan colors) chanting my advice. And maybe end with "GO TEAM!" What team that would be, i'm not sure but it makes me smile in the mornings.

Yesterday I had to drive out to another city for work. As I drove, I discovered that not all Michigan is so big on Rhyming

STAY ALERT
STAY AWAKE
STAY AL

I hope Al's okay.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Importance of communication

As i posted before, my computer met with an untimely demise and I am still sharing Brian's desktop. But! My own new computer parts have arrived and are patiently waiting for Brian to have 20 or 30 hours in which to assemble them. In the meantime, i think of blogs I will post soon and try to snatch a few stolen minutes on a computer.

An unrelated story that will make perfect sense when I'm done with this post: Once in college I was sitting around with a group of my coworkers from PAVE. It was during a marathon session of facilitation for incoming members of the Greek system and five of us had an hour break. We were sitting around chatting, accompanied by the representative from the Fraternity Council. The conversation, of course, turned to poop. We were discussing the frequency and our feelings about privacy and the importance of location when one poops. The Fraternity representative finally asked, "Do all girls talk about poop so much?" My coworker responded: "No, almost never. But I do talk about it alot when Jenny is around." End of that story.

Today I watched an episode of House MD that was all about a blogger who shared everything about her life. The foods she ate, her opinions on her neighbors and her sex life. She even asked her blog to help her decide what kind of arterial replacement she should use. Since it was House, she was dying of something random and obscure and the problem was solved in the nick of time by using clues that had seemed unimportant before. The key to her illness was poop. She blogged about everything, so her doctors thought they knew everything about her. Except she never talked about poop. And it almost killed her.

I don't know if I'll start to blog about poop, but this definitely reinforced my belief that I am right, it is very important to talk about poo.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sometimes, life stinks

You would think from the title, this post is going to be cranky. Sure my laptop died and sharing a computer is tough. Sure I need to read 178 FEMA applications in a week.

But that's pretty much all there is to complain about in my life. Life is good! I just got to see my sister and her new husband and had an awesome time hanging out with them. I spent time with my fantastic parents, whom i adore. My boss let me make up the hours i lost by going home for the weekend so i don't even have to expect a pay cut on the next paycheck. I am having such a good time at my job--it really is what i would have described if anyone in the world asked me what i wanted to do. Brian and I are doing great and I am quietly planning our wedding (which always makes me happy). We've made good friends here and its only 4 more months until we move to Paradise.

So why does life stink? Because I am a very gassy person. I've got two gassy stories to tell, but I'll tell the less funny one first.

We're hosting a student who is considering Ann Arbor for his own graduate studies. He's a Korean-Canadian named Jay and is very nice. Since its recruitment weekend, most of the first year students are hosting candidates. Part of hosting means that everyone had to go to an awkward party at the department chair's house. She doesn't have enough seating for everyone, so people end up standing and trying to eat Lasagna. Kevin the Texan and I did not want to go, despite the fact that our partners had to. So Kevin the Texan and I instead decided to get Qdoba, have a beer and watch movies. It was fantastic...until i remembered that we were sitting on the futon, which was where Jay was going to sleep...and Qdoba gives me gas. Hopefully it had enough time to air out before Jay went to sleep. Whoops.

Another funny but still gross story is about work. I haven't posted yet describing my office (i wrote a whole post that got eaten by my laptop when it died, so i'm waiting to get the data back first), but I'll summarize the important part. We have a few cubicles called "fish-bowls." They are glass on two sides, have walls and a sliding door that go up about 10 feet. I have been deemed temporarily important, so I have an assistant from February 15 to March 5. She does the paperwork and answers the phone for me. Its nice. She's very nice. But every morning, she wants to ask me a quick question while I'm on the way to the bathroom. I can't help it, I try to keep in the gas, but it needs to come out. I try to stand outside her cubicle, but she always wants to show me something on the computer or on the paperwork. So i always leave her in a fishbowl o' stink.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let it snow

As a social worker, I'm pretty much trained to give folks the benefit of the doubt. When most folks would look at a person who is facing difficulties and say that they brought it on themselves, I'm supposed to (and usually do) say that there's other causes of hardship. You never know what someone's life has been like or what their options where when they made what we now know is a very bad choice.

But sometimes, I'm not such a good social worker.

Take the city of Detroit for example. The social work part of me says that Detroit current problems have less to do with mismanagement than they have to do with the effects of racial tensions that have never been addressed, a reliance on a single industry rather than a diversity of economic options and a lack of funding for education--significantly impacted by the aforementioned problems.

But today as i drove to work, i found myself blocked from the main road in front of my building. By a snow machine. Pumping out snow all over the park in front of the office.

There's apparently some sort of winter carnival in this park every year in the last weeks of February. There's ice skating and some sort of snow hill situation (despite the fact that the park is literally flat cement). Perhaps I could understand making artificial snow to help stimulate the business of local shops and restaurants. But with a forecast of 6-8 inches of snow over the next two days, spending thousands of dollars on artificial snow just makes me think that Detroit has brought at least some of its problems on itself.

Up chuck

I haven't posted much lately because my computer has given up on me. It no longer wants anything to do with turning on or even lighting up. As a result, Brian and I are attempting to share his computer. Its not easy, especially because the computer is used for work, school and his main source of gaming recreation. But last night I had a few hours to myself on the computer.

Because Brian was throwing up.

He must've eaten something at the Superbowl party we went to that made him sick and his face all puffy and red. There wasn't much I could do other than get him glasses of water and work on the computer in the next room.

Listening to him being sick.

In five years, I have never been in the same building as Brian when he was vomiting. Usually it only happened when he went home to visit his folks or when I was out of town. So now we've broken what probably is the final barrier of personal space between us.

I'm not that excited.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The haunting of Ann Arbor

This past weekend, Heather and John came for a visit. It was fantastic to have them here. We played games, watched almost a whole season of Weeds and at one point spent 5 hours in a bar in the middle of the day.

Heather and John both said that they were shocked by how not awful our place was. They had listened to me griping and were happy to assure me that our apartment was not the worst place in the world, or even the worst place they had ever lived. They’re very sweet like that.

At one point, each one of them heard the moaning next door and asked me what it was. I told them it was a ghost.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fractions

I'm big on numbers. Anyone who has ever talked to me about my job for the past 5 years has heard me talk about 1 in 4, the number of women who will be sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetimes or 1 in 8, the number of men who will experience the same. Today i heard a new number. 1 in 5. That's the number of people (adults and children) who only know where one meal a day (or less) is coming from in South Eastern Michigan. 1 in 5 people in my area are going hungry. United Way has started some work to address that need, and I hope we can meet it soon. In the meantime, I’ll do the math and be glad that I know where 3 meals a day are coming from.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Busy Busy

I haven’t posted much lately because things have been hectic. Since starting the new job with United Way, I’ve quit the old job at Kroger’s, been visited by Mr. and Mrs. Stinky, started volunteering again and generally filled up my time. It’s very different from unemployment. I’ll try to post more soon about the job and the new things in my life. I hope folks are still reading the blog, cause I’ll keep trying to write it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Conspiricies

Brian and I are paranoid people. He says it’s because the human mind is wired to see patterns, even when there aren’t any. I think it’s because we don’t like people, and so are inclined to assume the worst of them. And that he’s read “1984” too many times.

But we’ve both developed our own pet conspiracy theories lately.

I think that Kroger’s purposefully makes the break room so cold because they want to encourage us not to take any breaks, or to spend our break time on the grocery store floor, so that customers can still ask us questions during our breaks.

Brian thinks that because Michigan is the home to so much of the auto industry, the state has a vested interest in making sure that residents are forced to purchase new cars regularly. This explains why Michigan does not plow snow, but instead just dumps copious amounts of salt on the roads after every snow fall. And why the roads are in such poor conditions, including the purposefully created potholes (not kidding) on the highways that go on for miles. These potholes resemble the divots created on the side of highways that are designed to keep drivers from accidentally drifting off the road and into a ditch. But instead these indents occur every five feet for stretches of miles along the main highway to Detroit.

He also thinks that’s why Michigan is a no-fault accident state---if your car hits another car in Michigan, no matter whose fault it was, you both have to pay for the repairs on your own cars. Thus, people don’t care whether or not they cause accidents and don’t do much to avoid them. The crazy driving that results leads to more people wrecking cars and more people having to buy new ones.

Most people would call us paranoid. But you’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Familiar

Today, there was a man talking by my desk at work. His vice wasn’t familiar, and neither was his face, but there was something very familiar about the way he talked. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I recognized it. Then he started talking about cars, and I realized I’ve found my Uncle G’s speech twin!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The first day

I went to my first day at my new job today. The United Way is located in a big, old building. It’s a tall building and is surrounded by other big tall buildings. The offices themselves are very modern and well kept. Everyone was dressed nicely and looked very professional.

While I was waiting for my new boss, I felt very alone and insignificant. I seemed so small in such a big place.

Then I remembered that I was wearing the necklace my aunt bought me for Christmas this year. And a sweater from my sister. Brian gave me my ring, my dad had given me my socks and my mom had bought me the shoes before my first grown up job two years ago. It was like I could feel my whole family around me, wishing me good luck. I didn’t feel so small after that.

The day went wonderfully, aside from a gentleman offering for “us to be together” and inquiring if I had jungle fever. I’m off to a great start!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good news to share

After a very long wait, I have some great news to share.

First of all, Brian and I have been approved to move to what we call Paradise. Paradise is a lovely apartment complex located near campus. It has a pool, and communal grills to enjoy during the summer. We would have a spacious kitchen, living room and a dining room for the first time. Paradise also features TWO walk-in closets, and a bathroom the size of our current kitchen. And Paradise costs about $200 less a month than Purgatory (our current apartment, where we pay for our sins).

After we toured Paradise, were hoping to break our contract in Purgatory and move in early. We figured there would be a monetary penalty for doing so, but that it could be offset by how much we were saving. Unfortunately, we have found that our contract specifically states that we cannot end the contract early to move to another apartment in Ann Arbor.

Despite how long our stay in Purgatory will last, we’ve been approved by Paradise and are all set to be assigned an apartment for June!

But the upgrade to Paradise is just icing on the cake for our good news. I’ve been offered a contract position at United Way of Detroit. They had asked me to apply for a position earlier, but had decided I wasn’t quite qualified to hold the position. Now they’re offering me something else. I’ll be working full time with their financial allocations and their food surplus programs. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’ll get experience, will finally get to put my degree to good use, and will do the kind of work that will make a difference. HURRAH.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The happy couple

My friends Katie and Zhexin are getting married this weekend. They’re the first couple of all my college friends to tie the knot, and I find it rather fitting, since they really are the couple that seemed like they were headed for the alter from the start. Here are my favorite Katie and Z moments (feel free to add your own too):

5. Katie made a pair of boxers for Zhexin that said “Calipigious” on the back. She wanted to show them to her friends, so asked Zhexin to stand with his back to us. Katie then planned to yank his sweatpants down to show off the gift. She grabbed more just the sweatpants, and we got to see a full moon. I remember falling down like a stone because I was laughing so hard. When I finally pulled myself together, everyone involved was still on the floor and Katie was attempting to apologize while laughing. And Zhexin was trying to accept her apology, while laughing.
4. They were always a weird couple, but being together allowed them to explore their weirdness. One night, they bought baby food, just because they both wondered what it tasted like.
3. Once when I was in Zhexin and Matt’s room, Matt started complaining that all Zhexin and Katie did was lay around and giggle together. At that moment, the happy couple appeared and proceeded to giggle. For a long time.
2. When we were roommates, Kate and Z would lay around our room thinking of what they would name their future dogs. And occasionally children. At the time, I’m sure I thought it was disgustingly cute. Now I just think it’s cute.
1. Our freshman year, Katie still had her old job in Waunakee. She’d go home on the weekend once a month and be back in time for classes Monday. The first time that she did this, right around the time she and Z started dating, he bought her flowers. He conspired with her roommate to have the flower sitting on her desk when she came home. He originally wrote a very friendship style, non-committal note saying that “we” had all missed her. Kelly and I convinced him to be a bit more romantic. I thought it was so sweet that he got her flowers, and so endearing how nervous he was to make it clear that he liked her.


Congratulations! I know you two will continue to make each other so happy.

A short story

I’m going to a wedding this weekend. I’ve never been to a winter wedding, so all my usual wedding dress options are out. I had considered looking for a new dress, and then instead made the decision to wear a dress I bought a LONG time ago. It looked great on me then, and I figured it would be a coup if it still looked good on me now.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, I decided to try the dress on today so I’d have plenty of time for last minute shopping.

I discovered:
A. Putting on Spanx is a ridiculous process. If anyone has seen a YouTube video of this, send it to me, because I almost had to stop because I was laughing so hard at myself.
B. Yeah, I still look good in the dress. Damn good.

Grumpy and groceries

I’ve extra hated the grocery store lately. Part of this is because I’ve been routinely scheduled to work 16-20 hours a week, but then end up working close to 40. I don’t know why they don’t just schedule everyone for the number of hours they’ll want us to work, but many of the other junior employees have had similar problems with being called in early or asked to come in on our days off. The store calls and asks us no earlier than 8am the day they want us to come in, so you’ve got no time to change your plans or do things the day before instead. Hrumph.

Also, despite the fact that the break room has a poster which outlines the break schedule (example, if you work 6.5 hours, you get a 15 minute break and a 30 minute lunch; or if you work 8 hours you are supposed to get two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch), I have been told by three different managers that I am not eligible to take a 30 minute unpaid break unless I work 8.5 hours. Which of course no one is scheduled for…

So yesterday, I was pretty frustrated. The store was packed; customers were grouch because we ran out of shopping carts (ridiculous, I know) and the music playing was what I like to call “Angry Teenage Rock.” I realized why so many people go crazy at jobs like this.

And then there was a simple change of music. The power ballads of the 80s and 90s filled the air. Van Halen. Whitesnake. Poison. Bonnie Tyler. I felt at peace.

Now I just hope they play that music every time I’m there. I can work all day as long as someone’s playing “Don’t Stop Believing”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A quiet New Year

My friend Greg has told me many times not to become a boring couple. He tells me that being in a long term relationship doesn’t make me old, and I shouldn’t act like it does. The epitome of this to him has been New Year’s Eve. I think I let him down this year.

We spent the day shopping (because Brian apparently only buys clothes once a year—in the sales between Christmas and New Year’s eve), and then both went in to our respective jobs for four hours. Coming home, I drank too much as we sat in our living room at watched Alien 3. I was briefly giddy and started doing the running man around 11, but by the time we watched the ball drop, I was ready for bed.

We were out by 12:30, too early to even wish the Central Time Zone a Happy New Year.

It was a perfect night.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Two Solstices

I’ve been remiss in my posting lately, the hustle and bustle of the season and all. But I’ve saved up some stories.

Anyone who has talked to me this time of year knows that I love Christmas. And I love Solstice. It’s an occupational hazard of being a Unitarian. I planned my vacation home to make sure that I would be there for the Winter Solstice celebration at FUS (my home church). But before I left, Brian and I had the chance to celebrate Solstice at UUAA, my Ann Arbor church. I was stoked. Two solstices! That’s like being told that Christmas will come three times or Hanukah was going to last for 20 nights! Right?

Not quite. After hearing all my tales of FUS solstice, our Texas friends wanted to come with to experience UUAA solstice. I prepared our dishes for the potluck, packed up the hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps and set off towards awesomeness. First let down: the way the potluck works in Ann Arbor is that everyone not only brings their own dish to share, you also bring your own DISHES, as in limited plates and cutlery. I happily began to eat my meal off the lid of a Tupperware container, when it was announced that food was limited, so everyone should take small-ish portions, or not come for seconds at all. I was bummed, but told myself that things would still pick up. And then in walked Drunk Santa.

Now, I’ve come to associate Solstice with the eschewing of Christmas glamour, leaving behind our materialism and capitalism in a celebration of older traditions and simpler joys. Drunk Santa has no place at such an event.

He wished us all a Merry Solstice as he bumped into the walls, interrupted several announcements with announcements of his own, and offered each little child who refused to sit on his lap a coffee maker. I was happy to see him leave and the caroling begin.

Unfortunately, in Ann Arbor, caroling music is accompanied not by a piano, but instead with drums and an out of tune trombone. After the trombonist played “Frosty the Snow Man” so poorly that the carolers couldn’t follow the tune anymore, we left.

But solstice at FUS was everything I had hoped it would be, even without my big sister there. We ate until we were stuffed, we sang our solstice songs (including the solar power carol), listened to the choir and the choral readers and watched a mummers play that starred Old Man Winter, a jester, a single mom, a doctor and gay robin hood. We rounded out the night singing the twelve nights of solstice and folk dancing.

I think solstice is something that should perhaps only come once a year.