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


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


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


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.