Friday, November 30, 2007

Motivational Plan! Regarding Fiscal Responsibility! Woot woot!

So about an hour ago I was pretending to be an adult and I Reviewed My Finances. And now I've hatched a harebrained scheme that I am going to publicly commit to ("publicly" as in, "here on my blog, because it is so highly-trafficked, clearly"). Ready? Okay:

I, Kate, do hereby proclaim that I will pay off my credit card before my next birthday.

My next birthday is three (3) months or six (6) paychecks away. So this is going to be hard. But, according to my calculations (which I made in a fancy Excel doc with formulas and stuff), if I limit my non-fixed expenses (which include groceries, toiletries, household goods, gas, car maintenance, dining out, entertainment, gifts, and clothing) to $100 a week, I can reach my goal. And after I do that, I can start doing the other money stuff I'm supposed to be doing, like, umm... saving it.

And if any of you legions of readers out there want to be all, "Well, what do you even do to run up a bill like that? Everyone knows you're not supposed to carry a balance on your card. Neener neener nee," you can just zip it! I am well aware of The Rules when it comes to credit. However, stuff happens in life. In my case, a car happened, and cars need tires and alternators and stuff, and these are hard costs to absorb when you're Just Starting Out and don't like the idea of leaning on your parents for help all the time. Geez! Take off, eh?!

So... if I don't get you an awesome gift this year, or if you notice me drinking a lot of Diet Coke next time we go to happy hour, you'll know why. BUT, if you want to party once I'm retired, I'll be ready to rip it up with my healthy and responsible nest egg. See you in Boca.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If you're like me, and you have a giant glass of wine or two at book club, then arrive home at 10:00 on a Wednesday night, it might seem like the ideal time to make a quintuple batch of veggie burgers. And, because you're feeling just swell and invincible from the wine, you might start boldly substituting when it turns out you don't have exactly the right amounts of spices. You might use Thai chili paste, for instance. This would be bad. This would result in you having 20 rather funky veggie burgers on your hands, after staying up until 12:30 to finish baking them. And what are you going to do with that quantity of funk burgers?

This is twice in one week that alcohol has interfered with my prowess in the kitchen. Let's all hope that I've learned my lesson. Let's also be thankful that I haven't lost a finger.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Herrs are a small tribe, which makes our holidays pretty low key compared to those of other families. The most notable event this year was probably on Friday, when my grandma forgot she was supposed to be tailing my mother back to the highway, and randomly turned down an exit to god-knows-where. It all worked out; my mom found her again and set her on the right path home, and once she'd called to confirm she'd made it all right, our psyches were clear to go to the bar for five hours.

I'm hoping this becomes a Black Friday tradition, and knowing the family's universal aversion to crowds, noise, and shopping, I think there's a good chance. Honestly, I'll take a bottomless vodka tonic over some stupid bargain on a down comforter any day. Especially when Dad is paying.

There were a few years when I wondered how long our family could remain a foursome; Jon and I both had stretches with significant others when it seemed possible that someone might be joining us for the holidays. Thankfully, we both proved incapable of sustaining a serious relationship, and our family gatherings remain comfortable, insular affairs. So we had a lovely time at the bar- I'm making it sound like we're a bunch of drunks, but we paced ourselves, and my dad, on DD duty, was just there to smoke cigars.

I made cookies when we got home. Giant, misshapen, delicious cookies. And my mom sent Jon and I away on Saturday with a giant batch of Chex mix to split between ourselves. My half is already gone, and now, considering the salt content, I think I know why I had a headache all weekend. Will have to tell Mom that I can't be trusted alone with Chex mix in the future. I feel gross. I'm definitely going to the gym tonight. We shall never speak of the Chex incident again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Umm... a postcard is a piece of paper that you mail without an envelope...

Question of the day from a 10-year-old: "What's a postcard?"

Man alive, this kid has a way of making me feel old. We also had a conversation about Raven Symone, and how I know her as "that annoying kid from the Cosby Show," while the Little knows her as "Raven, of 'That's So Raven,' a.k.a. the coolest girl alive." (Okay, she didn't say it exactly like that, but that was the gist.) Ah, generational differences.

Things are going well, despite the fact that I'll never be as cool as Raven. We went to The Bad Waitress last night because it was our last chance to hang out pre-Thanksgiving. She ordered the Buckaroo Burger and a hot chocolate, and I think she liked the whole "write your order and your superhero name on the memo pad" concept. She kept taking these weird steps when she got up for things, and then I realized that she was trying to only step on certain colors of floor tiles. She's pretty much the most adorable kid ever.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fictitious Crush: Steve Dunne

Back in the day before Cameron Crowe made crappy movies that unintentionally parodied his earlier, better movies, there was Singles. In Steve, Crowe (master of the Highly Evolved Male Character) gave us an outgoing, articulate, gridlock-fighting audiophile, who won our hearts by overthinking the significance of Linda unlocking his car door, and by dubbing her ex “Mr. Sensitive Ponytail Man.” He thinks of Xavier McDaniel to distract himself at critical moments. He takes a brave leap when Linda delivers unexpected news. And his post-breakup phone call to her answering machine from a rock club phone booth (“I was just having many beers…”) stands as one of the greatest drunk dials in cinema history. Steve’s descent into madness after Linda never gets the message finds him living as a hermit among mountains of pizza boxes and unopened mail, yet somehow we still love him in the dirty t-shirt and scruffy facial hair. In fact, we may even love him more once it dawns on us that he’s Mr. Sensitive Unshaven Man.

What took us so long, Steve Dunne? We were stuck in traffic. Let's get an apartment together to avoid future separations.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Karl Rove to Become Newsweek Contributor

Oh. My. God. Bitches, if I had not already let my subscription lapse due to your innumerable other sucky editorial decisions, you can bet your asses it would be canceled now.

Newsweek's crappiness of late actually makes me sad. It was a real institution in my house when I was growing up. I used to read it every week when I got home from school, and I can remember my dad getting annoyed with me when he would try to start a conversation and I'd just murmur "mmm-hmm," because I was reading. I even got my own subscription when I went to college. I defended it when an Economist-reader friend called it pap. I read it on the T on my way to class. It was just a ritual.

Maybe I've changed more than the magazine has, but it's really felt like hooey lately. Meacham sure does love his Jesus coverage, and the addition of Markos Moulitsas, as well as Rove, will only make for more shrill partisan debate. That's not what I want to read over dinner. In fact, it's not what I want to read... ever.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This just in

Mattel Introduces Barbie-Inspired Clothing Line

Blah blah blah... "The collection, which includes sportswear, vintage-inspired dresses, signature jewelry and handbags, has been designed to combine [the designer’s] inventive, often outrageous style with Barbie’s sophisticated style... The line is ... targeted toward older teens and young adults. “The Barbie by Patricia Field collection is an unapologetically fun and stylish way for girls of all ages to indulge their Barbie fantasy,” [Mattel spokesman] said.

As someone who is not that far removed from young adulthood, and who could conceivably go looking for "vintage-inspired dresses and signature handbags" at my friendly neighborhood Macy's, I took some time to consider what my "Barbie fantasy" might be. Thoughts:

* I'm not sure that I fantasize about being so disproportionately top-heavy that it's physically impossible to stand upright.
* Also, having feet that can only wear heels: not a fantasy.
* Cheesy beefcake boyfriend? Meh.

Nope, my only "Barbie fantasy" turns out to be seeing what happens when you put Barbie in an industrial strength paper shredder.
Patrick sent a note about the last entry that made me realize I need to clear something up: "I love that you've concluded that there's no hope for you because you're too smart for all the guys you've met/will meet."

It's not that I think I'm too smart for them. But, according to the Columbia study, the ones that I actually am smarter than will avoid me. And, because of my freakish need to win at everything, I will avoid the men who are smarter than me. I can't take it. In fact, Patrick's superiority at Scrabble is probably half the reason we broke up.

So, you see, it's not that there's no hope for me because I'm too smart. There's no hope for me because I'm insecure and crazy. And really stupid, actually.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So this economist did a study on speed daters and found that "men avoided women whom they perceived to be smarter than themselves." Maybe I shouldn't have kicked that guy's ass at trivia last week? But kicking ass at trivia is one of my favorite things to do! It satisfies my need for meaningless intellectual validation, as well as my freaky competitive streak! This is terrible, disheartening news.

Though maybe this study is flawed in that it only examines speed daters. Speed daters, as a group, might be a little stupid and easily threatened, right? Oh... they were Columbia students.

Dammit, there's no hope for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nine Good Things

I had a problem with pessimism when I was little. It got to the point where my mother used to tuck me into bed and make me list three good things that had happened every day. Wow, I haven't thought about this for a long time. I was one dour kid for a while there. Anyway, in honor of my mother, and as penance for the recent spate of mopey/furious entries, I present the following list of Nine Good Things:

1. The Omnivore's Dilemma. I cannot recommend this book enough. While you've probably heard some fringe arguments for mass changes in our diets and food policy, it takes a journalist like Michael Pollan to credibly explain how we've gotten to where we are, what's wrong with the choices we've been making, and some possible paths for moving forward. You might be able to ignore your hippie neighbor when she starts spouting off about the virtues of non processed foods, but you can't ignore this book.

2. Homemade veggie burgers. (Inspired by #1.) I just added a Williams-Sonoma patty press to my Festivus wish list, because I've got big dreams for mass producing these little babies. And by "mass," I mean "enough to fill my freezer," because they're just for me, I'm not sharing, and if you want some you'll have to make your own.

3. Working Girl. This movie gets no respect from people my age. (Probably because we were 7 when it was released, and unless you secretly watched your mom's VHS copy in the basement after school like I did, you may not have seen it.) Allow me to direct your attention to its IMDB Awards Page. It was nominated for Best Picture. Deservedly so. And Joan Cusack was robbed, by the way.

4. Gilmore Girls. Season 7 was released today, and I don't even care that Amy Sherman-Palladino has left. It might suck, but it's at the top of my Netflix queue and you know there's a marathon weekend in my future. A pathetic, pajama-clad, man-free marathon weekend.

5. Friday Night Lights. My friendship with Braden requires me to recommend this show, but having recently watched all of season 1, I can honestly tell you that it is superb, even if you have no interest in football. Stay home on Fridays and watch it. Tell your friends. Invite them over, if the idea of staying home on Friday bugs you.

6. The Oceanaire. I don't know what got into my dad's head, but we've got a Saturday dinner reservation. Fancy!

7. Free tickets to Sunday's Vikings game. Thanks, office business card drawing!

8. $100 gift certificate to 20.21. Thanks, Frida Kahlo party drawing! Plus, now that I don't have any pesky date possibilities, I can go by myself and get a super nice bottle of wine!

9. The Daily Mole. Still in beta. Go see. This site, plus the more staid MinnPost, proves that when you eff with real journalists, they will find a way to out-create and out-class you. Then all you'll have left is a bunch of 22-year-old cub reporters with no mentors, and an asinine business plan for digging yourself out of the poo. (coughcoughVita.mncough!)

There. Nine good things. I feel better already.
And just like that, my short-lived term of popularity with the menfolk seems to have expired. Do you think it's the haircut?

It's fine, really. I may or may not have walked to work this morning with the same Ryan Adams song on constant repeat, but it's really fine.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Rate Your Recent Return," says the recommendation gizmo on Netflix. So I do. I give one star ("Hated It") to St. Elmo's Fire. And somehow, based on my hatred for St. Elmo's Fire, Netflix helpfully informs me that I will LOVE both The Natural and A Time To Kill.

Umm... somewhere in there is an algorithm that needs perfecting.
Dear Au Bon Pain,
Bitches, I will cut you if you have discontinued the steak and cranberry salad. I don't know why there was masking tape blocking it off the menu today, but I was so discombobulated that I walked out and wandered into CHIPOTLE, and, as we all know, Chipotle is not the answer to any question.

Great, it's not on the website either. Why would you do this to me? Are you not aware that this salad is referred to in my office as "the magic salad"? Do you not know that when I order this salad with no steak, as I've done for the last year of vegetarian experimentation, that the friendly downtown ABP staff only charges me for a garden salad, thus making my lunch both healthy and affordable? DO YOU KNOW HOW LITTLE MONEY I MAKE, YOU JERKS? DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND GOOD VEGETARIAN LUNCHES DOWNTOWN? DO YOU THINK YOUR DISGUSTING CARROT GINGER SOUP IS ANY SUBSTITUTE???

We're over. You're dead to me. You can keep your damn Asiago bagels, too; I will most certainly NOT be bringing them to the office staff meeting the next time I'm on treat duty. So eff off, you pretentious, un-American, steak-and-cranberry hating, faux-gourmet, money-grubbing, disgusting-soup-making corporate entity. An e. coli plague upon your house.

That is all,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes, please.

Thoughts upon being asked by very talented, very good-looking, not at all Sandler-esque wedding singer, "Hey, can I give you my number?":

1. Seriously? You just had a front-row ticket to my absurd dance moves for the past three hours, and you'd still be interested in associating with me?
2. Are you drunk? I mean, I didn't see you drinking up there... but are you drunk?
3. Is this a ploy to increase your number of MySpace friends?

My actual, super-cool response to the question: "Yes, please."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Last night brought another freaky reminder of how small this city is. An acquaintance at Nikki's birthday party told me, "You should meet my friend Justin. He goes to your gym and you guys would totally hit it off."

Turns out that her friend Justin is the same Justin that I already have a date with tonight. He's a friend of my coworker, who has no connection to the people at the birthday party.

If I were really into "signs," I'd probably be all aflutter about this. I'm taking a wait-and-see approach though, since the last time I thought the universe was trying to tell me something, I ended up getting dropped like a bad habit.

Also, in the past I've found it problematic to date men who frequent my usual haunts (see: Barista Debacle of 2003, also: Barista Debacle of 2004, also: Bookstore Debacle of 2006). In the event that things go badly, I'll feel obligated to switch my routine at the gym, and I think we all know how unlikely it is that I'll be successful at morning workouts. Although, I'm the more long-standing member of the gym, so he's really the one who should have to switch.

Maybe I'll draw up a document outlining this contingency plan and make him sign it before the appetizers. That would be quite winning, I'm sure.

This entire entry is like something out of Sex and the City. Apparently I've been lobotomized without my knowledge.

Monday, November 5, 2007

So I'm driving my Little home after Bee Movie on Saturday afternoon (skip it, by the way), and a block away from her house I notice a teddy bear sitting on the curb, with a heart-shaped balloon tied to its teddy bear arm, surrounded by empty beer bottles. Because I'm a MORON, I chuckle and say, "Why is there a bear sitting on the curb?" And she- totally nonchalant- says, "Somebody got shot there last night. They moved the body though. He lived right there."


When I told Brendan this story, he knew what was coming as soon as I got to the teddy bear. He's got this annoying (and correct, thus far) theory that I'm going to learn more in this relationship than she is. So far, we've covered:
* how to flee Chicago because Dad beats Mom
* how, sometimes, your birthday trip to the water park gets repeatedly postponed because "your sister's check didn't come," and
* Sometimes your neighbors get shot.

And I asked for an easy case.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I've definitely got a cold or something. Probably shouldn't have gone spinning last night. Will probably use this as an excuse to not go to the gym all week, and will look like an overstuffed sausage at Emily's wedding. Perfect.

Well, the good news is that I canceled my appointment to donate platelets on Sunday, so I've just gotten 3 hours back for myself in a very busy weekend. (Never mind the platelet shortage.) That extra time on Sunday will be spent in the kitchen, as I stupidly signed up for the agency bake sale on Monday. I don't know what I was thinking. The Herrs are not a baking people. I certainly don't have any recipe worthy of entering in a contest, much less asking people to pay money for. I get the impression that my paternal grandmother knew what she was up to in the kitchen, but unfortunately she died before I was born. My other grandmother, bless her, is Dutch, and the only thing Dutch people are known to bake is rusks, and "rusk" sounds like some kind of skin rash, so clearly I am not making rusks for the bake sale.

That is all.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I neglected to mention in my last post that a friend of mine was admitted to the ICU yesterday due to complications of his cancer treatment. And this is another thing that's making me crazy today, because (to state the obvious) it's so, so unfair when terrible things happen to good people. And cancer is pretty terrible. Especially when you're 30, and there's no cure for what you have.

Why don't I just cry at my desk now. That's great.

Childen: Why don't they watch where they're going?

I made the mistake of going to the Mall of America last night. I didn't even consider the fact that it was Halloween. I should have, because it turns out that the MOA hosts trick-or-treating, which is crap for so many reasons. Here are a few:

1. Going to the MOA is a harrowing enough experience even with normal traffic levels, so when you add to the mix several thousand short people who can't walk, the suck level increases exponentially.
2. I have no respect for indoor trick-or-treating. I don't care what kind of neighborhoods those kids live in; they should be out freezing their diapers off and working for that candy, just like the other Midwestern kids have done for decades. In my day, we wore parkas over our costumes, and no one could tell what we were actually dressed up as, and we LIKED IT.
3. PARENTS. It's bad enough that you let your toddlers wander aimlessly into the paths of people who are actually at the mall for legitimate reasons. Don't make it worse by stopping dead in the middle of a busy walkway and repeating, "Whitney! Look at Minnie Mouse! Whitney! Lookit Minnie Mouse! WhitneylookitMinnieMouse!" over and over and over. I'M WALKING HERE.
4. Macy's was playing a special Halloween soundtrack, which, if I'm not mistaken, actually featured a Chipmunks rendition of "People Are Strange."

Umm. I think that's all I've got for now. I also couldn't find a reasonably priced black shrug to wear to Em's wedding, which was the whole stinking reason I went to the mall, but that irritation was not Halloween-related. Also, I'm so broke that it's not even depressing, it's just infuriating.

I pretty much hate everything today.