Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's...Goals

Though New Year’s has never been my favorite holiday, I still can admit that there’s something exciting about it. It’s the opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to reflect on the coming year (while also wondering how Dick Clark manages to look so ridiculously young for his age).

I used to torture myself, writing lofty New Year’s Resolutions year after year only to be met with mixed results. Yet, I’m too sentimental to give them up entirely.

So, I’m not calling them resolutions this year. Instead, I call them “New Year’s Goals,” which seem much more tangible.

Goal #1: Running a marathon (aka "Proof that I am crazy") There’s always been a part of me that wanted to run a marathon, but I always dismissed it as something I could never do. Well, this is the year! And I’m determined to finish it, whether that means running across the finish line or crawling across it.

Goal #2: Finish my Master’s degree Even though I’m enjoying the program, it will be SO nice to finish. If all goes as planned, I will graduate at the end of July. And then I can erase phrases like “I would, but I have a paper for my Master’s class” from my everyday conversation.

I think that Goal #1 and #2 are quite ambitious enough and will keep me busy. But, when I’m tired from Goal #1 and #2, then I should focus on Goal #3…

Goal #3: Enjoy life. I think I do this most of the time already, but it never hurts to remember to relax, laugh, and enjoy the journey.

So, I think I’m in for a year of running, learning, and enjoying. Sounds like a great year to me!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


There are a few members of my family (extended family, of course) that I’ve heard say outright that they just don’t eat leftovers.

I’m not even sure how that’s entirely possible. My mind still races with unanswered questions: Are they gourmet cooks? Do they order take-out every night? And, more importantly, what happens to the remaining slices of pizza if they aren’t eaten for breakfast the next morning??

Husband and I are firmly planted on the side of leftover fans. In fact, we’ve eaten delicious leftovers two nights in a row: the first night was spicy chilli and the second night was a full turkey dinner. We might even continue on our gluttony for leftover goodness and eat leftover soup for dinner tonight, making it straight three days of no cooking and tasty homemade food - a tempting combo.

All the leftovers were courtesy of our recent visit home for Christmas. Besides the leftover dinners, we have a yummy assortment of cookies, pastries, and candy.

I still puzzle over the select members in my family with their no-leftover policy. They have no idea what they’re missing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Best Gift of All

It’s not even Christmas yet, but I’ve already received the best gift I’ve ever gotten.

It’s not a new kitchen gadget or clothes or the perfume I wanted. It’s a gift that you can’t find at any store.

More specifically, the gift is a “he” - the tall, lanky goof of a husband that fills my life with love and laughter (and the occasional teasing about my near-obsessive cleaning habits).

And I’m so convinced that this is the best gift that I’m putting him on my wish list for next year, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Skip the Figs

Curiosity got the best of me. I’ve heard for years about this mysterious “figgy pudding” in the popular Christmas song. I figured it must be amazing, if a whole crowd sings: “we won’t go until we get some…”

I couldn’t remember ever eating a fig, except in a Newton. So, on a recent trip to the commissary, I decided to buy at least a small pack of dried figs.

Husband and I both tried them at home, looking at each other as we were chewing this infamous fruit, trying to decide what to make of it.

Husband’s verdict? “Eh, not so bad.”

My verdict? “Ew, not so good.”

Either way, I think you can safely skip the figs this year. And as for the people in the song and their figgy pudding? I guess that’ll be just another mystery of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Husband and Holiday Shopping, Part II

[Note: What you are about to read is written from the perspective of Husband. It was not, in fact, written by Husband, so the perspective might not be 100% authentic.]

I thought we had come to an agreement. We’d get each other just one gift this year, making this crazy ritual called “Christmas gift-giving” finally simple for once. I already knew what I would get Wife. She asked specifically for Ralph Lauren perfume. Or was it Calvin Klein? Anyway, I can’t remember the exact name, but I know she said it was in a purple box. Works for me.

So I hadn’t given much thought to it all. I’d go out in advance (the day before Christmas – why rush?) and get the perfume, and it would all be done.

Except Wife, the overachiever that she is, had to do something horrible and ruin it all!

She came home one day from a shopping session and proudly announced that she had gotten 4 gifts for me. Yes, 4 gifts, which clearly violates our “one gift” policy. I did some quick math and figured that meant I had 3 (!) more gifts to buy her! I can’t be outdone by Wife for Christmas. That would break all the rules in the Guy Rulebook (2007 edition), not to mention it would probably leave her disappointed.

I mean, 4 gifts? [%$^*!] How am I going to come up with the remaining (and now required) 3 gifts?

I decided I might try to feel out the situation to come up with some gift ideas. (Heh…she’d never figure out what I was up to…) So I casually told her in the car one night that I had thought of a gift for her but it might be too practical.

And she says, “well as long as it’s not a vacuum.”

Well crap! There goes that idea. I don’t understand it. She salivates every time she sees a commercial for a Dyson. She herself even said how wonderful Dyson vacuums are (she borrowed a friend’s once) and she even did a pretend demonstration of her vacuuming with her invisible Dyson. And, what’s more, I know she hates our current vacuum. I’ve heard her complain about it almost every time she vacuums. So, the Dyson would have been a perfect gift! Why wouldn’t she want it?

Thankfully, the other night she took me shopping, and she actually pointed to the exact items that she wanted me to buy. Finally, I’m seeing some logic here in this gift-giving situation. She tells me what she wants, so I don’t have to hunt around for a gift she won’t like, and she ends up with the gift she wants. It’s perfect!

Oh. And she mentioned nonchalantly, after our shopping trip, that her mom used to buy herself her own Christmas gifts and wrap them up as if they were from her dad. This idea is genius! Her dad is one brilliant man for somehow ending up with this scenario. I’m going to push for this set-up next year.

Anyway, so I have a few gifts already. I’m still trying to think of one more gift idea, and I’m wondering - is it too late to convert to Judaism?

Husband and Holiday Shopping, Part I

I had almost become convinced that Husband wasn’t really afraid of anything. After all, his chosen profession is that of a fighter pilot. And if doing near-death stunts in the sky doesn’t scare him, then I would have never thought anything else would. Especially something that seems benign to me…like Christmas shopping.

I realized it one night last week when we were in the car, driving to a nearby restaurant.

I hadn’t given much thought to what he might be considering for Christmas gifts for me. I’m the overachiever that had all our Christmas shopping done over a week ago. Gifts for parents, grandparents, friends, other relatives – all done. So I figured that his part – picking up a couple things for me – would be easy. Not so fast, I learned in the car.

“So, I thought of a gift idea for you, but I figured it might be too practical,” he started.

He was evidently fishing for some approval for his potential gift idea, without wanting to reveal the gift.

“What’s too practical?” I asked him. “Like clothes?”

“Nope, not clothes,” he replied. “Something…else.” I guessed a few other things, to which he replied no to all.

Then, finally understanding his nervousness about gift-giving, I tried to console him. “Well, as long as it’s not something like a vacuum, I think you’re fine.”

He laughed nervously and I noticed his face getting red.

“You were going to buy me a vacuum??”


Oh boy.

This guy is in some serious gift-giving trouble. And, not just that, he is scared. I never noticed it before, but whenever we would talk about exchanging gifts, he’d get a strange look of dread, like he was about to undergo surgery to save his life.

I talked to him later, offering some ideas that might help. I listed a few things that I could always use, like pajamas or stationery. I even named a few of my favorite stores, including Border’s and Kohl’s. They were all great suggestions, except that it only generated more confusion for him, requiring me to explain exactly what stationery is (matching envelopes and paper for letters) and give both the definition (the greatest discount haven on earth) and location (just down the road) of Kohl’s.

But, not to worry. I actually took Husband to a couple stores last night to show him specific items that I might like. And then he made a trip to the checkout to purchase said items while I looked at other things, pretending not to notice.

So I offer my final gift-giving advice to Husband here:

- Being my husband is gift enough. Please don’t worry about gift giving. Honest.

And, to the ladies, I offer this:

- You might get something from your husband this Christmas that you're not crazy about. It might be something like a deep fryer, when fried foods usually make your stomach sick. [Hypothetically, this might have happened to me for my past birthday.] But, be grateful for the gift, knowing that he probably agonized over it and spent a lot of time thinking about it. And, if you do end up with something “too practical,” like my husband’s first idea, at least you can get rid of your old vacuum!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dumpster Diving

I’ve always considered myself to be frugal. But, the realization that I was, in fact, really cheap didn’t come until one day last week when I found myself head first, nearly diving into a dumpster.

There’s a good reason for my dumpster-diving adventure, though. And yes, it involved saving money - $6.99 to be exact. Most people probably wouldn’t even venture near a dumpster for less than 10 bucks. [Hence, the “I’m-really-cheap” realization.]

I decided that our too-small dwelling had no place for the small box of Christmas lights that I had bought a couple weeks earlier. I figured I might as well return them.

So I set off to return the lights to the store and run a few other errands. I threw a couple bags of trash into the dumpster before I proceeded on my way.

I got into the car and looked around to make sure I had the bag with the box of Christmas lights that I wanted to return.

No bag.

I thought maybe I had forgotten it in our room, but I clearly remembered bringing it with me, along with the bags of trash.

And that’s when I realized. I inadvertently threw it in the dumpster!

For some reason, I felt a frantic sense of urgency to snag the bag out of the dumpster as quickly as possible. There really was no hurry since I knew that the truck had already arrived that day to empty it. (It served as our too-early wake-up call at the crack of dawn.) And there was really no danger of anyone “stealing” my bag of Christmas lights, since no one else was around. And besides, who else would be crazy enough to jump in the dumpster to take it?

But none of these rational thoughts occurred to me, since I was focused on saving my bag of Christmas lights - and the subsequent $6.99 in refund money.

I tried to reach down into the dumpster to take the bag of lights, going even as far as leaning half-way in, head first, reaching for the bag. But the bag sat innocently, too far below for me to reach.

I raced to my car, opening the trunk, looking for something to stand on to rescue the bag. I found a small box that looked like it might work. I brought it back over to the dumpster, standing on it, still too far away to grab the bag.

So I thought for a moment, and then I ran upstairs to our room, taking a wire hangar. I ran back downstairs to the dumpster in the parking lot, twisting the wire hangar into some sort of crude bag-grabbing device to aid in the rescue effort. And it actually worked!

I pulled up the bag, complete with the box of Christmas lights and the receipt still safely inside. I returned the lights to the store, which was much more uneventful than the preceding.

And what confirms that I’m really that cheap? I’d do it all again, if I had to. Although, to be on the safe side, I’m thinking that it might be better to make the trip to the dumpster next time with nothing else in hand but the trash.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dinner Invitation

Sometimes inspiration for good stories seems to just show up. Like at our doorstep. Literally.

We had just finished eating, and we heard a knock at the door. I was over by the sink doing dishes, and Husband went over to answer it.

I glanced over and saw a tall guy at the door, and I went back to doing the dishes. I figured it was a friend from Husband’s class that lives in the building.

I heard only small bits of the conversation, which sounded like talk about a dinner. But, I then clearly heard Husband say: “Well, this is awkward.”

There was some nervous laughter, the conversation abruptly ended, and Husband closed the door.

“Was that a friend from your class? Did he want you to go to dinner?” I asked Husband, curious about the encounter.

“Nope, he wanted to ask YOU to dinner.” He said, laughing.

“What??” I asked, confused.

Then I finally understood. That guy wanted to ask me out on a date! And, what’s more, he inadvertently asked me on a date – through my Husband!

We laughed for a few solid minutes about it at Random Guy’s expense.

Husband recounted the conversation to me, and I guess it went something like this.

- Random Guy: “Oh, I was going to ask her to dinner [pointing at me], but I didn’t realize you were here.” (Translation: “I think your wife’s a babe and I wanted to ask her out, but I didn’t realize she was married.” Ok, so, I’m embellishing a bit, but bear with me… :)

- Husband: “Well, this is awkward.”

End of conversation.

I’m not sure who was more shocked about the whole thing. This poor guy who had probably worked up his courage to ask who he thought was a single gal for a date. Or us, who found a random dude at our doorstep asking me out for dinner, after I clearly already had both a Husband and a dinner.

I realized later that I had seen this guy exactly once before. It was in the parking lot earlier in the day. I was getting out of my car, and he passed by me as he was taking out his trash. The ultra-brief conversation sounded something like this.

- Me: “Hi, how are you?”

- Random Guy: “Good, how are you?”

End of conversation.

[Side note: I’ve never considered myself good at small talk, but maybe I need to reconsider after inspiring a date offer from such a brief exchange…]

Now, I don’t know anything about this guy, but this has got to rank as his worst pick-up attempt ever. And it might even be a strong contender for his most embarrassing moment ever, too. Asking out a marriage gal is never good for your dating life. But, asking her out through her husband is infinitely worse!

So, I think this scenario leaves a couple of life lessons.

Lesson for me: Appear less-enthused while making small talk with strange men in a parking lot. Better yet, think twice about making random small talk with strange men in a parking lot.

Lesson for Random Guy: If you do happen to show up on a married couple’s door looking for a date, for goodness sake, LIE and say that you have the wrong door! Honesty will only get you embarrassment - and a secured spot for your story on a blog.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holiday Heat

We are having a most unusual dilemma this Christmas season.

We are hot!

I’m not talking about the slang meaning of “extremely attractive.” (We only wish that was our dilemma…) The hot I’m referring to the “I’m-so-hot-I’m-sweating” sense of the word.

Outside temperatures reach 80+ degrees during the day, which is certainly welcome and preferred over anything below zero or with a wind chill factor. We certainly would be rejoicing about our good fortune, if it weren’t for the archaic heating/cooling system in our room.

Like most government buildings, the system is either on “heat” or “cool” and never the two shall meet. Our system is now stuck on the heat cycle, leaving us broiling in our tiny oven of a room. [I think that, perhaps in a weird foretelling of the future, Nat King Cole was referring to us as the holiday chestnuts roasting on an open fire in his famous song.]

The thermostat has no functional purpose except to taunt us. Even if we set if for 45 degrees, the system does not have the cooling power to inch below the balmy 85 degrees that it is now.

And, in a way that defies science, our room is hotter than the outside temperature, even when we open all the windows. We do have a floor fan, but it’s high-maintenance tendencies require us to run over and pick it up every hour when it decides to tip over.

But, perhaps the most amusing part of this “too hot” scenario came from an innovative solution from Husband. I heard him in the bathroom last night fumbling around, as he was getting ready for bed. He then announced with pride, “I found the solution for the heat!”

He emerged from the bathroom, hair and body completely drenched, with his white t-shirt and shorts clinging to his body. He announced, “I’m ready for bed!”

“I’m going to be so cool tonight!” he said, smiling to himself.

There are probably a lot of really good reasons why he shouldn’t have done this (the sheets will get drenched, he might actually get sick from this), but for some reason I didn’t say anything. Perhaps I was too hot and tired to object.

We know that in a few days the temperatures will drop. We might actually feel reminiscent about our holiday heat wave when we’re bundled up in winter coats. In the meantime, we’ll be figuring out new ways to stay cool and puzzling over how “Baby, it’s cold outside” could be written about the same (hot) season we’re in…

Thursday, December 6, 2007

O (Charlie Brown) Christmas Tree

We have a Christmas tree this year that is highly reminiscent of the one featured in the Charlie Brown Christmas movie.

It’s actually a real tree, and yes, it’s incredibly small. [The above picture is the proof.] But it definitely adds a touch of Christmas in our equally small place, so we are perfectly content with it.

When I went to purchase it, the cashier said to me: “Is this all?” in a tone that implied “Is this really all you’re buying for Christmas decor?”

“Yes, that’s all,” I told him.

Then he said, “Please tell me that this isn’t your only Christmas tree.”

I hesitated for a second, “well, actually…” and I started to say no, but then settled on confident “…yes, it is.” Then I explained that my husband and I were living in a small apartment.

“But we have other Christmas trees. Did you see the 4-foot ones?”

“Yes, I saw those….but you don’t understand, it’s a really small apartment,” I explained. He laughed and so did the lady behind me in line.

I can’t imagine the image that left him with of an actual apartment that was large enough to hold two people, but somehow didn’t have any place (not even on a table?) for a 4-foot Christmas tree.

Sure, our place could hold a larger tree, but I didn’t want to explain the much-too-long real explanation of how we were only living there temporarily, and we weren’t sure (at the time) where we were spending Christmas, and this small one would suffice just fine, etc.

So he wished me a Merry Christmas and I took my little tree home.

It’s definitely a humble tree. But isn’t that what Christmas is about? A humble beginning.

And just like for Charlie Brown, for us our tree is just right.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Running in ‘08

I’ve decided to run in 2008.

No, not for political office. (That’s not such a stretch, since one member of my family has already run for office in the past year.) But the running I’m talking about is in the literal sense.

Running a marathon.

It’s a big deal – for me, at least. I know that people run marathons every day, and I once met a lady that ran a 50-miler. Even though she seemed nice and normal, I secretly wondered if she needed psychiatric attention for willingly putting herself through such physical torture. She said her motivation was for a cheeseburger. Now that must be the most amazing cheeseburger on the planet to inspire that kind of workout.

I digress. Back to the marathon. There are a million reasons why it’s crazy for me to run a marathon, but here are the top few:

1) I hate running. I’ve complained to everyone I know (and even people I don’t know) at some point about how I just hate to run. Some people mention a “runner’s high.” I think those people either must be lying or on drugs when they run. Though I have run at various points in my life, I’ve certainly never ran for more than 4 miles at one time, not even close to 26.2.

2) I’m not athletic. I’ve always considered myself more brains (read: geek) than brawn.

3) Most of my embarrassing moments involve some sort of running blunder. I once lost my balance once on a treadmill after closing my eyes for a brief moment (don’t ever do that, and please don’t ask me why I did), creating a commotion loud enough to command the attention of every person in the gym who stared in disbelief of my klutziness. Another running classic involved me actually vomiting after a run for a required fitness test in college, horrifying and grossing out a track full of people that I had just met. But the vomiting occurrences became a frequent part of running of these tests, so much so that my family would ask me: “Did you throw up after that one??” And then they would congratulate me if I hadn’t.

But for whatever reason, in the past couple months I’ve thought about running a marathon, and it somehow has become a goal that I can’t shake.

I thought about it a lot during our move throughout the many days of driving. At the precise moment I was wondering if I should run one, I saw a billboard advertising a local marathon. It was, quite literally, a sign. I took that to be my nudge to make it a real goal. (And thank goodness the sign wasn’t advertising a “gentleman’s club,” or my goal for 2008 might have turned out altogether different…)

So a marathon it is. I don’t plan to run it until next fall, giving myself plenty of time to train. Perhaps by the next presidential election I’ll have completed my goal!

[By the way, I’m Tootie, and I approve this message.]

Sunday, December 2, 2007

house shopping

This weekend confirmed it. Buying a house is a lot more fun than selling a house.

We got the royal treatment. The realtor chauffeured us from house to house in hopes of finding one we’d like. The sellers, if present, greeted us warmly and invited us to look around. One overly ambitious seller, an older man dressed in a too-tight shirt and jeans, gave us a personal tour of the entire home highlighting all the details. “How nice,” we said, when really we were thinking, “it smells like smoke in here!”

One house, with fresh vacuum tracks and fragrant candles lit throughout the home, reminded me all too much of the hard work and desperation involved when we were selling our condo. In that moment, I felt bad for strolling around and ogling their home, especially since they would realize later with disappointment that we were not their buyers. For other sellers, I didn’t feel as much pity. Like the ones that for whatever reason decided it was not important to leave the electricity on in their home, which left us with a tour experience similar to one that Stevie Wonder might have.

Our home shopping experience yielded us with one questionably-acquired orange. [“Please take one,” the realtor insisted, pointing to the orange tree in the back of one home. “They’re just going to go to waste,” she added.] But more importantly, it ended with us putting an offer for a just-built home. It’s exciting. And humbling, too, since it is nicer than anything I thought we would get.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

new place, new winter gear

I’m really starting to like this place. But what's not to like when it’s nearly December and you still don’t need to wear a coat outside? Better than that, I actually wore a t-shirt and shorts today. Now that’s my kind of winter gear!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I’ve been waiting a long time to write the following words…

Our condo sold!!

After about 128 days, 80 e-mails, 25 showings, 2 bogus offers and 1 near-nervous breakdown, it finally sold. In fact, it closed today!

We are ecstatic, relieved, and just plain thankful.

I’m not sure our old neighbors will share the same enthusiasm if what their new neighbor says is true on his myspace page…that he spends “countless hours” on his “drum set.” Whoops. But on the positive side, he has nearly 300 myspace friends, so maybe he’s not such a bad guy.

Regardless, we are ecstatic. And did I mention relieved and thankful?

Happy early thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2007

going overboard

Boat outings are always the highlight of any trip to visit my parents, and a recent trip was no exception.

My mom announced as soon as we arrived that her and my dad were planning a special cook-out for us on the boat, complete with hot dogs. Husband, who would happily eat hot dogs at every meal for the rest of his life, was excited at the offer.

So we set out on our boating expedition. The weather was perfect - breezy and sunny. We spent a couple hours on the boat, and my dad fired up the small grill attached to a rung on the side of the boat.

The hot dogs were reaching peak readiness with the tinge of black crispiness starting to appear. Meanwhile, we had reached our peak hunger, with salivation probably starting to appear, as we smelled them cooking. Each one of us was probably imagining how we would top our dog (Husband – ketchup only; Mom – mustard and relish; Me – ketchup and mustard; Dad – all of the above).

I handed my dad the plate for the dogs. He held it in his hands, reaching for the dogs. And before I could realize what happened (the grill tipped over), I saw the hot dogs floating in the water below us. All 8 of the hot dogs. Every hot dog that we had on the boat. Our only lunch, floating further and further away from the boat and us.

In my brain, I screamed! “NOOO! The hot dogs! Please, someone save them!”

But there was silence. No one said a word, as we all struggled to understand and accept that our hot dog lunch would be without, well, hot dogs.

In just a few seconds, I ran through all the emotions associated with the grieving process of losing your hot dog. Disbelief. Anger. Disappointment. Frustration. Hunger. Until I settled on laughter.

I started a few chuckles, and soon I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak and tears were streaming down my face. We all started laughing because there was nothing else we could do.

So we salvaged the lunch as best we could. Thankfully, my mom had brought a variety of sides that then became the main course. I munched on the solo hot dog bun (not so tasty), some cucumbers, chips, and brownies. Husband got creative and put the cucumbers in the hot dog bun, making some sort of cucumber sandwich. We would chew in silence, and then one of us would think of the humor of the situation, and start the laughter again. We made a variety of hot-dog related jokes:

- “Who let the dogs out?” (Horrible, I know)

- “So, I guess hot dogs can float!”

- “Hey, Dad, maybe you can throw our dinner in the pool tonight, too!”

And then we came up with a variety of “lessons learned” for the next trip:

- “Maybe we should have the net handy in case anything else falls over again.”

- “Let’s only cook 4 hot dogs at a time, that way we still have 4 left if the first batch falls over.”

- “We should stabilize the grill better next time.”

The lunch itself turned out to be ok. We had enough food to ward off our hunger, although we still pined for our lost dogs.

This event happened only a couple weeks ago, and we’ve already made reference to the “hot dog incident” countless times, telling (and re-telling) the story to friends and family.

Because of that, I can’t say that I would change the incident, even if I could have. But only because I finally got my hot dog on the next boating trip!

[This story is dedicated to my mom, who asked recently as a gentle reminder: “When are you going to write that story about the hot dogs?”]

Saturday, November 17, 2007

casualty of our new place

[Disclaimer: What you are about to read is slightly disturbing and downright gross. Proceed with caution before reading, especially if you are eating.]

The first casualty of our new place was actually an air freshener dispenser. Well, more specifically, it was 6 small bugs, but followed soon after by the air freshener in its surprising demise.

I know, it doesn’t seem possible for anything to actually happen to it since it’s only job is to sit in one place, passively releasing its smell. And it wasn’t even a fancy plug-in type (since we have a shortage of outlets in the joint). It was the most basic type that you place on a table. We bought it soon after we got here to mask the mustiness of this place, certainly a tall order for a small air freshener.

So, the other morning when I woke up, Husband announces in a quiet voice:

“Something’s happened to the air freshener.”


He continued: “It fell in the toilet.”

I thought I maybe misunderstood him in my semi-awake state, especially when said the next part, in an even quieter tone.

”And you peed on it.”

Yikes! As if it wasn’t hard enough to believe that it 1) fell in the toilet, I somehow strained to comprehend how 2) I actually urinated on it!

He then offered an explanation. Since the location of the air freshener was on the too-tiny counter of our bathroom, Husband decided before we went to bed to move it to help save space. Husband then placed it on its new location on top of the wall-mounted hair dryer. About an hour after we went to sleep, in its apparent suicide attempt, the air freshener jumped off the blow dryer and landed, with a crash, into the toilet. Plunk.

I wasn’t aware of any of this, as I was enjoying some beauty sleep. I then got up in the night for one of my ritual nightly bathroom trips, unknowingly contaminating the water for the air freshener that lurked below.

Husband didn’t realize that the air freshener actually fell into the toilet, until he saw it in the morning bobbing like a buoy in a sea of pee.

I still couldn’t believe the situation and started a line of questioning that sounded like this…

“But why did you move it?” (Husband answer: “To conserve space”)

“But why on top of the hair dryer? That surface isn’t even flat.” (Husband answer: “But it fit on top of there and seemed like it would stay.”)

“But why didn’t you let me know it fell in the toilet before I peed on it?” (Husband answer: “I didn’t know it fell in the toilet. I just heard a crash and thought it fell on the floor.”)

“So…um, where is the air freshener now?” (Husband answer: “I took it out of the toilet.”)

“Ewww! Did you wash your hands??” (Husband answer: “No.”)

Don’t worry, Husband was being sarcastic in the last answer and did, in fact, wash his hands.

Though not an expert on air fresheners, I figured that its pee bath would not render it capable of doing its job of emitting a good smell and I deposited it in the trash.

We have not found a replacement for the air freshener yet. But when we do, I can guarantee that we will put it in any location except on the mounted hair dryer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

hello to our new home

After 3-days of driving in separate cars (and a lot of calls between on the walkie-talkies), we have arrived at the new place we’ll call home. For just the next 4 months, that is. (Thankfully!)

The first day that we arrived I was speechless. Literally. I knew that our living space (a one-bedroom studio-type apartment) would be rustic, but I wasn’t totally prepared these rustic proportions. (Think camping out, except not as fun and indoors.)

Husband, noticing my unusual silence and shock, was trying to be the energetic optimist. He pointed out any positive attributes with energy that would rival any used car salesman.

“Wow! Look…not one, but TWO TVs!”

“Ooh…what a nice big desk for your computer!”

“Cool, a four-slot toaster!”

He then got so desperate to cheer me up that he resorted to pointing out even the most basic items with the same enthusiasm.

“Wow, a closet!”

“It has a refrigerator, too!”

“Check out the table!”

I moped for a day, and then got over it. Sure, this place wouldn’t be my first choice (or even second choice) for a living space, but it’ll do. I’m grateful that we’re together and we have a safe place to live. (And that there’s internet in the room!)

So my gloomy mood faded and I became the “it’s-not-so-bad” cheerleader for the both of us. That’s when Husband caught the gloomy blues. After all his initial enthusiasm (and after nearly 72 hours of living here), he finally looked around, as if he just saw the place for the first time, and frowned saying: “this place is a dump!”

He’s right. It’s sort of a dump. But we are laughing at all the quirks of the place. (Trust me – there’s plenty, so we’re doing a lot of laughing.) Like the bed that seems to be only slightly larger than a twin bed, fit more for a small child than two adults. Or the overhead fluorescent lights that cast a yellow-ish haze over the room. Or, the kitchen sink that isn’t big enough for more than one dish at a time. And, last but not least, the invisible stove and non-existent oven that’s made the microwave our best friend.

Regardless, I know that we’ll survive…and we’ll have many more laughs at the expense of our poor little place.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

farewell to the condo

It’s finally time to say goodbye to our condo.

No, it hasn’t sold yet. (Unfortunately!) But we have to leave tomorrow anyway.

I’m surprised at how sad I am to leave the condo. Sure, it has its quirks…like the old washer (that sounds like it’s going to explode when I overfill it), the nail that perpetually sticks out on the deck, and a slightly “spotty” paint job (brought to my attention by a Realtor yesterday – thanks for that). But, it’s ours, and it’s been a good home over the past 4 years.

I’ve never been one to get too attached to things, but somehow leaving the condo feels like saying goodbye to a friend. A quiet, slightly musty-smelling friend, that is – but a friend, nonetheless.

Regardless, it’s both exciting and sad to leave. We’ll spend our last night here in our sleeping bags, watching the 13” TV that Husband insisted we keep with us. (I’m grateful for that now, since the rest of our belongings were whisked off by the movers yesterday!)

And tomorrow begins a new adventure. The first part will be deciding which car (and which lucky driver!) will carry all the leftover Halloween candy… :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

rain, part II: something to be thankful for

I was caught in a torrential downpour (second one this week!) while running some errands. But, I am thankful that, for once, I was not wearing a white t-shirt! It almost doesn’t matter that the end result was me resembling a drenched rat. At least I did not resemble a drenched rat participating in a wet t-shirt contest!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

rain and an open house

I love the rain. Except when I’m held hostage by it in a near-monsoon, huddled under a small shelter in the park.

I had been reading there, eyeing the looming storm clouds and hoping that they would pass quickly. I would have been reading comfortably in my own home, but Realtor was showing it as an “open house” this afternoon. [The irony of an “open house” is that it is open to everyone except its very owners! But I much prefer it that way, avoiding all awkward conversation between the desperate home-seller (me) and the potential buyers.]

All my frustration – about the rain and about our hasn’t-sold-yet condo - melted when I came home. Waiting for me were 7 business cards of interested Realtors, 3 balloons, a container of chicken noodle soup, and a loaf of fresh bread. The numerous business cards were a hopeful sign and should have been the focus of my delight. But I have no shame in admitting that I was won over more by the balloons and the food. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for both!)

Tonight I will enjoy every spoonful of the chicken noodle soup, which seems like a perfect meal in the backdrop of a rainy day. And I will hope that on some sunny day in the future (hopefully soon!) we can finally celebrate the sale of our home…

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

what I learned during my final exam

Round one of my finals started this morning at the library for a proctored essay exam for my national security class.

I sat quietly at a computer station with a laptop in front of me, and a sign beside me that read “proctored exam in progress.”

My stomach was a bundle of nerves, and I fidgeted as I read the print-out of the essay questions, wondering how to even begin. My mind raced, trying to summarize large concepts like homeland security, terrorism, and….divorce?

That last topic was a contribution to the woman next to me, also seated at a computer, but definitely not working on an exam.

“So what are you working on?” She asked in a friendly tone, as she peered over at my computer.


I looked at her, surprised, wondering if I should respond, since I was clearly in the middle of an exam. A timed exam. Although I don’t usually mind small chit-chat with a stranger, I didn’t think the testing process allowed me to talk to anyone. (Although I don’t think I was in any danger of this lady “revealing” any secrets of national security that might give me an unfair advantage on the test.)

“It’s an exam for my class. A proctored exam.”

“Oh.” I thought she’d stop there, allowing me the necessary time to complete the task at hand. “So what’s it for?”

“Um…my Master’s class.” I said, glancing at her, then returning my eyes to my computer screen.

“Oh yeah? What program?”

The conversation continued, since I was too darn polite to ask her to stop talking. And I didn’t want to ignore her questions, which would have been rude - though the rules of manners might change when conversation is attempted during exam-taking. Either way, I wasn’t sure and erred on the side of being polite.

“That sounds cool. I want to go back to school, too. Just as soon as my divorce is final.”

From this point, I learned things about this woman that I shouldn’t have, especially during a final exam.

She’s getting divorced. She has a 8-year-old son. (I saw photographic evidence, when she turned her computer screen toward me so I could see a picture.) She’s dating someone else. He went through a divorce, too. And isn’t that ex-wife of his so terrible? That lady actually signed the rights to their daughter away - what kind of heartless woman would do that? Anyway, she is going to adopt the girl, assuming that things go well with her and the boyfriend.

Finally, she stopped talking. I felt relief and proceeded on with the exam, focusing again on national security and not on this lady’s unfortunate divorce.

She sat next to me for an hour and a half longer, surfing the internet and showing signs of her cold through occasional sniffles and deep breathing.

Finally, she left. “Good luck on the exam!” she announced.

Lady – good luck to you, too.

Monday, October 8, 2007

the offer

I turned down perhaps the most enticing offer I’ve had all week. It was just a simple question that Husband asked:

“Do you want to go to Barnes and Noble?”

That’s like asking a starving child if she wants to go to the candy store. Almost all of my being wanted to jump and shout “Yes!” – just like I normally do. But, somehow the rational side of me prevailed. You know, the annoying, adult-minded side that says: “you can’t read for fun when you have finals in just 2 days.”


I’m telling myself it’s not rejection – just postponement – of the offer. So, I’ll be there…on Friday.

In the meantime, I'll be studying for finals (hopefully), anticipating my trip to Barnes and Noble (most definitely), and figuring out how to silence the "adult-minded side" of my brain for next time.... Any ideas??

Sunday, October 7, 2007

my little secrets

Here are a couple things that I'm not embarrassed to admit that I did today: 1) I ate a peanut butter cracker after I accidentally dropped it on the ground in a parking lot this afternoon. 2) I teared up at Extreme Home Makeover tonight. But, I have good excuses for both... 1) I ate the cracker within 5 seconds, clearly within the bounds of the 5-second rule. 2) The show was about a young girl battling cancer for a second time, which is well worth my tears. And I'd do them both again. In fact, I'll probably do #2 again next Sunday night!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rainy Days

I adore sunny days – the warmth, the bright sun, and the invitation to play outside. But there’s something equally charming about rainy days. They offer a permission slip to sleep in and relax indoors. For me, that means curling up and reading a good book; for Husband, that means curling up and playing a good video game.

We started our rainy day with burritos for breakfast. With a start like that, I think today has all the markings of a good day...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Condo Craziness, Part II

We had another showing on our condo today.

I fulfilled my end of the bargain, going into the normal cleaning fury and completing all bizarre rituals to cleanse the condo of any signs of filth. [Reference previous post for all the sorry details.]

I planned with military precision. Candle lighting would begin upon first waking to purify the condo of any odors, allowing the vanilla scent to sweeten the air for hours. The wipe-down of all sinks and counters would begin soon after, followed by the opening of all windows to let in the fresh fall breeze. Then, I would vacuum 40 minutes before they arrived to minimize any footprints on the unspoiled vacuum tracks. Finally, I would spray some air freshener and leave the premise exactly 20 minutes before their arrival, to avoid the awkward “um, hi…here’s the condo” conversation between me and Potential Buyer and Realtor of Potential Buyer.

It was all going according to plan…until the vacuum unleashed a foul stench in what could be described only as burnt rubber. Drat! It must have been from the last vacuuming, when the vacuum tried to devour a backpack strap.

From there, the plan unraveled. Potential Buyer and Realtor of Potential Buyer arrived 30 minutes early! The vacuum stench was at its strongest, and worse, I had no time to use the air freshener. Plus, all of my items that I was taking to occupy myself at a nearby park were strewn around the entryway. So instead of walking into an immaculate condo smelling of vanilla, they walked into a nose full of burnt rubber, nearly tripping over my belongings.

I struggled to act calm, offering: “Oh hello. Take a look around. I was just about to leave.”

I left hoping that maybe the smell wasn’t as bad as I thought, but all hopes were dashed when I returned later and got a whiff of the stench. But, perhaps they didn’t notice?

They did. A couple hours later, an e-mail from my Realtor was waiting for me in my inbox, with their feedback on the showing:

They loved the condo but indicated that there was a very strong 'burnt rubber' smell.”


I was horrified and called Husband in a fit of frustration. The conversation - or monologue of my ranting - sounded something like this: “and I cleaned for hours..and the vacuum…and there was this smell….it’s like burnt rubber..and they noticed…it’s in the e-mail…might have ruined the sale...we need to get rid of that stupid vacuum!”

Husband assured me that everything was fine. We then played the it-could-have-been-worse game, coming up with the following scenarios that beat burnt rubber any day:

1) An overflowing toilet, with sewage and the associated stench overtaking the condo. 2) A cockroach – or a herd of cockroaches – making an appearance for the showing. 3) A toilet overflowing of both sewage and cockroaches.

Everything is cleared up now – both the condo smell (which I doused with air freshener) and the misunderstanding, as I explained the story to my Realtor. She laughed and told me not to worry.

I’m not sure what will come of this showing, but I’m considering this story my consolation prize if it doesn’t sell.

Oh – and Goodwill just got themselves an extra vacuum.

Monday, October 1, 2007

selling our house, and losing my mind

I’ve been dreading writing this post. I knew the topic was too good to pass up, but somehow putting it down in words seemed to admit what I knew was already true.

I’m going nuts.

It's true. Selling our house has made me crazy. Husband would wholeheartedly agree. (Although he wouldn’t in front of me to spare my feelings and whatever self-respect I might have left.)

It started slowly over time, so that we both barely noticed the insanity creeping upon me. But when Husband asked yesterday – “where are we putting our recyclables now?” and I responded “in the freezer” with a tone of “duh.” Well, there’s just no getting around that. I’ve gone nuts.

We’ve had our condo on the market for a few months now. It started with a For Sale By Owner effort for about a month that only yielded interest from 1 nosy neighbor, 2 crazies, and 3 cheapos.

Next came the Realtor phase, which we’re still in. I happily passed the buck to her, thinking of her as my home-selling savior and worshiping her advice.

But exactly 2 months later, we still have no offers. I’ve chalked it up as out of my hands, and started focusing on the only thing I could control: cleaning.

I figured that we could at least keep the house neat and tidy, it might entice any home-lookers. So that’s what I told myself – “neat and tidy” - but somehow my warped brain translated that into “nuts and nuttier.”

It started innocently, liking making sure the house was vacuumed, the beds were made, and the blinds were open. Then it moved into making sure the counters and sinks were clean, starting a horrible requirement for us to “wipe down” our sinks after each use. Then it moved into smoothing out the wrinkles in our futon (our poor substitute for a couch).

The list of tasks got longer and crazier.

*Lighting a candle – not for romance, of course, but to give a better fragrance throughout the house.

*Putting what I deemed as “smelly” trash in a bag in the freezer until trash pick-up day. (We don’t own a garage, and it seemed like a “logical” place to contain the smell that’s out of sight of any potential buyers. Yes, further evidence of my craziness.)

*Storing our recyclables in the freezer or the refrigerator. (Our recycling bin was stolen last week - that’s a story for another post.)

*Putting a Hawaiian-print beach towel over our laundry basket to hide any dirty clothes. (Heaven forbid if any potential buyers knew that we – gasp! – kept dirty clothes in a dirty clothes hamper!)

*Keeping a variety of “show” items around the house, with the real ones hidden and inconvenient for actual use. Like our “show” rolls of toilet paper that are large and plump on display, with the real raggedy small rolls hidden under the sink. Or like the “show” toothbrush that’s displayed – white and crisp – with my real imperfect purple one concealed under the sink in a cup, next to the imperfect toilet paper roll.

*Hiding bills and other papers in the junk drawer we never had, leaving little room for the silverware and items that actually belong there.

* Avoiding or jumping over carpeted areas after a fresh vacuuming to preserve the "vacuum tracks." The list goes on and on, but I think I’ll stop before I further embarrass myself. I know – it’s all sick and sad.

I tried to shield Husband from my bizarre practices, preferring to keep them as the weird things I did while he was gone. But, he noticed them over time, especially if we got a call that potential buyers were on their way. I’d morph into a tornado of cleanliness, rushing around the house, wiping and cleaning everything in sight, muttering under my breath about the “filth” in the house.

With every new scheme to somehow add more cleanliness (and inconvenience) to our house, I tried to excuse it, by saying “I know this is crazy, but…”

But, there’s no excuse.

It’s all making the temporary studio apartment that we’ll live in when we move look better and better. Sure, it’s only one real room and a bathroom, but think of the joy we’ll have when we finally get to put trash in the trashcan!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Like Father, Like...Daughter?

There are times when I lament that I’ve never had that one specific calling in life. Like my Dad. He knew probably by age 3 that he wanted to fly, so he went to college, joined the Air Force, and then became a pilot. He had a love and passion for his job that most people would envy – including me!

My interests, over my life, have been so varied that I’ve never had that one specific career in mind.

The first answer that my parents remember me voicing to the all important “what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up” question was a cook, which I supposedly announced with pride at my pre-school graduation. The reason I gave for that profession was simple yet rational: “because I like to eat!”

Though I still liked to eat (and still do), my interests and ideas for a profession changed throughout my childhood. For a while I wanted to be a librarian, playing for hours in front of the bookcase, pretending to check out books for my “clients” (all the stuffed animals I owned). Then I wanted to be a teacher, and later, a writer.

But, I changed my mind again and decided I wanted to be a newscaster. That potential job stuck the longest, as I eventually chose a college and a major based on that goal. It lasted exactly until my first broadcasting class, which I hated. I promptly changed my major and my career goal, which was a good thing because I can’t imagine myself now as a newscaster.

Even recently, I’ve toyed with new ideas for potential jobs. I'm even considering some of the ideas from my youth. So, one day I might actually be working as a cook or a teacher - or maybe even a writer.

I would often wonder why I wasn’t more like my Dad - someone that dreamed of his future profession at such an early age and fulfilled his goal in said profession.

But after talking to my Dad this weekend, I realize that I am like him. He spoke of a few things he was working on, and none of them were pilot-related.

Though he had one main job (a pilot) throughout his life, his interests were and are just as varied as mine.

In his free time, he creates a variety of artwork. (You only need to walk through my parents’ house to see his efforts hung all over the walls.)

And he likes finances and watching the stock market. I do, too.

Oh – and did I mention the book that he’s working on? He enjoys writing in his free time. I do, too.

And there’s a variety of other interests that he likes. Photography. Music – specifically, the piano. Swimming. Comedy. Business. Reading. Tennis. Cooking. He enjoys them all. I do, too.

From my Dad, I’ve learned that you can love your job - and a variety of hobbies, too. Though I never had that one single calling at a young age, I’ve had the adventure of trying a lot of different things - jobs and otherwise.

Sure, I’ll never be able to answer the “what are you?” question with a single word, like “nurse,” “accountant,” or “baker.” It makes small talk at dinner parties a little trickier, but it sure makes life a lot more fun. And if you don't believe me - just ask my Dad!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the surprise

Good idea: buying Husband a yellow, smiley balloon for no real reason, as a surprise.

Bad idea: letting the balloon escape while attempting to tie it down to a basket in the trunk of my car.

I had no choice but to stand and laugh in the parking lot of the Dollar Store, watching $1.05 and the only surprise I purchased for Husband quickly rise above me. The large yellow smiley on the balloon, only added to the humor of the situation, as it’s glowing yellow face seemed to be smiling as it found its freedom in the sky.

So my surprise for Husband was not the balloon I intended, but rather this simple, comic story that I relayed to him on the voicemail of his cell phone as I stood in the parking lot.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Meals (and smiles) on Wheels

All I need to know I learned from being a Meals on Wheels volunteer today....never underestimate the power of a warm smile and a hot meal to make someone's day!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

my addiction

They say that admitting your addiction is the first step. So, here goes... I'm addicted to eBay. There, I feel better already. It started a few weeks ago. My husband had a video game he hated, and we couldn't figure out to do with it, since it didn't fit any of the normal categories of donations for charity. (Clothes go to Disabled American Vets, appliances go to Goodwill, and CDs and DVDs go overseas to the troops.) But - what to do with a video game? A bad one, at that. And then it came to me... eBay. It seemed the perfect excuse to try a new life experience. I'd bought something once on it (a vintage Life magazine from 1943, for the low price of $3), but wanted to see what it was like to sell. Husband was skeptical ("what chump would actually buy this horrible game?"), but shrugged and let me continue on with my plan and excitement. So, on it went - the Bullet Witch video game for XBox 360 for a price of $7.99, and the first sweet taste of selling on eBay. I was hooked. The deal was overwhelming successful. We got rid of it - for a cool 20 bucks! I'm not sure what about selling on eBay is so enticing. Perhaps it's the novelty of knowing that someone actually wants to buy your junk. Not just buy, but bid on it to a near insane price. But like any addict, once the the Bullet Witch game was in the mail to its new owner (the poor sap), I needed my next fix. So on went another video game and a DVD. I'd rush to the computer to check the status at least twice a day and proudly announce any updates. ("Sweetie, your game is up to $9!") I also began look at my possessions differently. I'd see something in our house, admire it, and then think: "Hmm...I wonder what this would fetch on eBay..." Who knows if there's any 12-step program to shake off the eBay addiction. If there is, I'll skip it. I kinda like being an eBay addict. Besides, it's not really a problem. The only problem is.... what do I sell next??

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A bargain and a fortune (cookie)

I love good restaurants. And tonight, Wok N' Roll qualified as a good one - a Chinese buffet with its endless supply of fresh sushi. I was in a sushi mood, and you can't beat the 20 pieces I ate for a bargain price of $11.99. Plus, besides sushi - fresh fruit, yummy steamed rice, egg rolls, and, of course, the fortune cookies that signal the end of the dinner. Which brings me to the point of this post... These are the fortunes that awaited us tonight: "Today is a disastrous day. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Hmm... I did do some running today, which was pretty disastrous in itself, but I don't think that branded the whole day as such. And then: "We treat this world of ours as though we had a spare in the trunk." They do have a point. My trunk has some old books, boxes, a cooler, and a chair - but certainly no world. I don't think either of these qualify as a real 'fortune,' but they made me laugh. So for only $11.99, I got sushi and a laugh. Far from a disastrous day!

Friday, September 21, 2007

So here I am...

...with my own new blog. This is no small feat for me, considering I’m pretty technologically challenged.

One friend, when I generously offered to give him a ride a while ago, pointed out that my car was a time machine on wheels. He was right, since not many cars have nowadays have cassette tape players as their only source for playing music. But I’m proud to say that I invested in a CD player for my car last year, and I finally subscribed to cable internet last month. So what’s next for me – an I-Pod??

You’ll probably see some of my other quirks throughout my writings. Don’t worry – I don’t mind if you have a laugh or two at my expense. But more importantly, I hope my writings might inspire you in some small way. Thanks for reading!

All the best,