Friday, February 29, 2008

Spanglish Karaoke

In lieu of kuchen, I went to Pancho Villa last night and had 2-for-1 margaritas, which are just like kuchen, only liquid and with tequila.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Well, I feel reassured that this is apparently just a "slowdown."

The agency announced 14 layoffs today. Thankfully (in purely selfish terms) my little group does its own thing with its own clients and has been insulated from this, and we've been assured that we shouldn't worry, but it's impossible to not worry when something like this happens. It wasn't just 14 junior nobodies, either. There were some serious veterans in the group, and a lot of jaws dropping when the names were read. Bad meeting. Bad, bad meeting.

I kinda want to go home and eat an entire cheese kuchen. Do they sell those anywhere here?

Monday, February 25, 2008

I feel better now, thanks.

Jeff the Super Mechanic says my transmission is mostly fine, but does need a routine service. This will cost me far less a brand new transmission, and also less than an auxiliary cooling kit, which Jeff the Super Mechanic does not recommend, as it may "overcool" in our lovely Minnesotan climate. And as much as I would like to be too cool, I will take his word for it.

Laying out the cash for the service will mean that I won't quite make the b-day cutoff for paying off my credit card, but I am still counting this project as a success, as I would have made it without this last expense. Also, as Johm the auto mechanics instructor taught us in class last week, proper care and feeding of a transmission is very financially responsible. (As previously mentioned, Johm also taught us that Henry Ford "really really really hated the Jews." He's a Renaissance man. Johm, that is, not Henry Ford.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Peanut at the Pool

A few weeks ago, Big Brothers/Big Sisters organized a pool and waterslide activity at the Holiday Inn in Lakeville, which I knew my Little would be really excited about because her summer plans to go to a waterslide with her family had never worked out. So I was all gung-ho about it, and really pleased when we got to the hotel because it's kind of the perfect mini-waterpark- not too big or crazy, but with enough stuff to keep the kids interested. We got all ready to jump in and I asked the Little if she wanted to start with the slide, but then she said, "Is it deep at the end? I'll just watch you come down." At first I thought she was just wanted to see someone else go first, but she still didn't want to go after I did. So we started at the shallow end. And as I watched her hesitate to get her head wet, and then awkwardly dog paddle a few strokes before standing up again, I felt like a complete ass. The kid can't swim.

I never realized that I took it for granted that every kid knows how to swim. Obviously, that's not true, because people drown, duh, but it never crossed my mind to even ask my Little in advance. I knew she'd wanted to go to the slide last summer, and she had a bathing suit, so the thought never entered my head. But having a bathing suit is not the same thing as having spent a zillion hours at the Y as a guppy, and then a minnow, and on and on through all the silly levels like I did when I was little. I just... forgot. I forgot the process of learning to swim.

I didn't know until a few years ago that at the same time my brother and I started swimming lessons (which was probably shortly after we were out of diapers), my mom took lessons too. She grew up on a farm where swimming opportunities were rare, and she had a bit of a water phobia. But after Jon and I came along, she knew that she had to get over it because she didn't want us to pick up the same fear. (I learned all of this from my dad, who loves to talk about how proud he is that my mom did it. She would never volunteer this information.) And swimming turned out to be one of my favorite-favorite-most-favoritist things to do as a kid, and I was on the swim team in grade school, and every summer my brother and I got season passes to Southside pool and I swam so much that my hair turned green and I wore out my bathing suits.

So I'm grateful to my parents for taking me to lessons, and it's sad to me that it's not that way for every kid. And I know that swimming is not a written-in-stone requirement for a happy childhood, but it's such a simple pleasure, and I worry sometimes that the Little is not allowed to be a real kid as much as she should be. Example: In the five months that I've known her, two of her neighbors have been murdered. When I think about what her worldview must be, compared to mine when I was her age, I feel guilty. I never knew I had the world by the tail.

In Big training, they tell you not to think about these things on such a grand scale, or you'll feel like you're never doing enough to make a difference in your Little's life. You're supposed to just be a friend. A friend who doesn't smoke crack and has never been incarcerated. So that's what I keep coming back to.

The Little ended up having a great time at the pool, which had a maximum depth of four feet, so it didn't take much coaxing to get her to go down the slide. But she's a brave peanut. She would have done it regardless.
My mom just called with an urgent matter. "This won't take long but it's very important," she said. (Pause.) "Do you want any Girl Scout cookies?"

Clearly, a very busy day at the office.

1. Dara is up and running with her new blog at Minnesota Monthly.

2. I've been reading a lot lately about people picking up MRSA at the gym. I was already a little freaked out, and then I read this story about a lady who had an outbreak on her lady bits. I might develop an ulcer now, in addition to MRSA.

3. Nikki surprised me yesterday by posting a picture of me on Myspace that I'd never seen before. It's from high school, but I have no memory of it being taken or what the hell I was doing. I thought it was hilaaaarious, so I made it my profile photo on Myspace and Facebook. But last night Braden called from California, specifically to say that it was horrific and I look fat in it. "I was fatter in college," I reminded him. "I must have been blinded by love," he said. Anyway, I'm going to leave it up to torment him until he pays me a visit. We can't all be California girls.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Well. I might have seen this coming.

Hey, guess what? Something financially bad is probably going to happen! To my car! I have no professional confirmation of this just yet, but last night we talked transmissions in my auto class (we also talked about Henry Ford's anti-semitism), so today I did a little Googling to see where my transmission fluid goes, and as it turns out, 626s have notoriously sheisty transmissions! And this might explain the herky-jerky dance my car has been doing for the past while! Super! I'm so excited about it I can't even tell you! (I should note that Andy borrowed my car several months ago and told me to check my transmission fluid, and I did not, mostly because I couldn't bear the thought of Andy being right.)

I don't know why I didn't discover this information when I was considering buying the car. I did my homework. I swear. I had it inspected. I kind of hate the world right now. Maybe Jeff the Super Mechanic will tell me it's okay. Or maybe it will cost $3,000 and I will never be out of debt, ever, and I will never get to go on a real vacation, ever. Such exciting possibilities!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Strategies for Surviving Until February 29 on Approximately $68

1. Go to the gym. All the time. Get my money's worth out of membership, for once. Make the time I spend at the gym time that I'm not spending money anywhere else.

I made a visit to the fitness center at The Ivy last week, and though they do have individual TV monitors on every cardio machine there, I decided not to convert. It would have been $15 more per month than Lifetime (and that is for the cheapest, you're-really-too-poor-to-be-a-member-here package), and though I initially thought it would be nice to rub elbows with the fancy types that the spa seems intent on attracting, a tour of the facilities highlighted just how close those elbows would be rubbing. Very close. Too close- particularly in the co-ed whirlpool/sauna area. The upside is that I have a new appreciation for the downtown Lifetime, with its ginormous locker rooms and all-girls sauna, steamroom and whirlpool. I love the steamroom; there's nothing like a good schvitz after a workout! Feels very European! (So does poverty, coincidentally... Maybe I can pretend to be Russian for the next few weeks. Poor, but somehow still glamorous! And deep, very deep!)

2. Cash in the change jar.

Did this yesterday. Turned out I only had about $4, which did help defray the grocery bill, but uhh... yeah, it was only $4.

3. Rely on Netflix for entertainment.

Except that Netflix has been sucking real hard lately, customer-service wise. When they're not sending me TV series discs out of order, they're sending me Pirates of the Caribbean in the sleeve for The Tudors. Hey, thanks Netflix. Guess they're both period pieces with British people, so it's practically the same. Argh.

4. Clean out closet and sell fug castaways to new Buffalo Exchange.

I have to call them and find out if they want my fancy dresses, which would probably be the most valuable items. Note to self: Stop buying holiday party dresses from J. Crew, unless I get so carried away with step #1 that boobs disappear entirely. J. Crew dresses are really only suited for the gangly and flat-chested.

Umm. That's all I've thought of for now. Knock knock knock on wood that nothing financially bad happens for the next few weeks, and I think that I will meet my credit card b-day goal. And then all the baked potatoes will be worth it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It’s perhaps telling of my mental state regarding this day that, upon receiving a note from the receptionist informing me that I have a package from “Blooming Cookies,” my first thought is not, Oh, golly, who would’ve thought to send me something? How exciting! but rather, Jesus H. Christ. What the hell sort of awkward misunderstanding is this?

It's from a vendor, though. All is well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Seven Facts Learned from Warwick Davis Commentary on Willow DVD!

1. Warwick Davis was only 17 when he was cast as Willow!
2. The preferred term is "short actor."
3. The twins who played Elora Danan did not have full heads of curly red hair; that was a wig glued on with syrup.
4. Speaking of hair, Ron Howard rocked a pretty radical combover in the late 80s.*
6. Bavmorda's freaky dogs were actually Rottweilers wearing fur suits.
7. Warwick Davis takes Willow very, very seriously. As everyone should.

Thank you, downtown Borders, for closing and discounting your entire inventory, allowing me to purchase the special edition DVD of Willow. Thank you.

*Warwick Davis did not say this in the commentary; I discovered it in the making-of featurette, because yeah, I watched that too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dear Machu Picchu Restaurante

Dear Machu Picchu Restaurante,
It is somewhat deceptive to include a lunch menu on your website when you are not, in fact, open for lunch. This has the potential to cause problems for well meaning, ceviche-craving people, who make plans to meet friends at your restaurante for lunch on a Saturday, only to find that your restaurante does not open until 4:00, and maybe it's a Peruvian thing, but I assure you that 4:00 is well past lunchtime here in Los Estados Unidos. Furthermore, these well meaning, ceviche-craving people may be half-assed vegetarians, and when they find that your restaurante is not open to serve them ceviche at 12:30 on a Saturday, they may accept their friend's suggestion of meeting at Matt's Bar, which not only does not serve ceviche, but is rather famous for cheese-stuffed hamburgers, and half-assed vegetarians that they are, these well meaning people may decide that a cheese-stuffed hamburger sounds really really excellent, thus breaking their meatless streak.

Yes, I ate a Juicy Lucy this weekend and it is all your fault, Machu Picchu Restaurante.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Food is served and you're stone cold munchin'

So I have an iPod shuffle. It's not fancy. It's not new. But I usually only listen to it at the gym and it does the job just fine. Because I typically use it at the gym, most of the songs on it are of the upbeat, "if this came on while I was on the elliptical, I'd be so pumped" variety.

However, there are also probably ten to fifteen songs on it that I put there just because I love them, and these are more of the slow-paced, "I might take my toaster in the bathtub" variety. They're nice in the morning, before I've really come to terms with being awake and going to work. So sometimes I use my iPod on the bus ride/walk to work. But that's when the trouble starts. Because, inevitably, when what I really want to hear is The Sundays, or Ryan Adams, or something not too perky and not too upbeat, the shuffle serves up every ridiculous novelty song I've ever downloaded for use at the gym. These include the following hot hits:

"Bust a Move" by Young MC
"If You Leave" by OMD
"Love Train" by The O'Jays
"Barracuda" by Heart
"Don't Bring Me Down" by ELO
"Let's Hear It for the Boy" by Deniece Williams

I think you get the idea; there's probably no need for me to further humiliate myself with additional track listings. The point is, when it's 7:30 a.m. and you're not in the mood to bust a move, having to furiously skip past a long list of these songs on your headphones can just make things worse. Especially if you're on the 18 bus, and you've just seen a homeless guy's dime slot, then been sneezed on by the disheveled cat lady sitting way too close to you.

Which is probably why I barked at Emily in the kitchen this morning.

Maybe I should just get a real iPod.

Dear Government, please hurry up with that tax rebate.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Weekend Recappage

1. Friday night: Miranda and Scott's surprise going away party. Have fun in Sweden, you crazy kids. I would have had more to drink (vodka tonics for $3.50!) if only I didn't have to drive myself home. But, in light of the fact that there was karaoke going on, perhaps it was best I stayed sober. The Swedish fish were excellent.

2. Saturday afternoon: Obamarama. Other than the fact that we had to stand in line for an eternity before getting in, all was super. Surprise performance by Jeff Tweedy. Obama could talk about geometry proofs for three hours, and I would still be fascinated. (Not to diminish the fine speechwriting by one Jon Favreau, of course.) I was thinking I'd miss the caucus because of my class on Tuesday night, but now I'm thinking I'll miss my class because of the caucus. Yes we can, Scarlett Johansson. Yes we can, girl from Fresh Prince whom I once saw at the Paradise during a Phantom Planet show. Yes we can.

3. Saturday night: Nikki-rama. Went to a party where I randomly met another '04 Emerson grad. He did not seem as thrilled by this coincidence as I was. Then off to the Entry for Chooglin'. It seems that if you walk purposefully backstage and downstairs at the Entry, no one will question you. Of course, Nikki had reason to be there; I was just the blandly-dressed tagalong who leapt for the first open cushion on the sofa that became available. (Because I'm an old lady and my legs were sore from Obamarama.) The poor kid next to me kept trying to strike up a conversation ("Hey, do you have a lighter?" "Hey, that jacket is awesome; where'd you get it?"), but I was sort of kaput from the long day.

Dear Guy from the Band Downstairs at the Entry: I know that girls backstage are supposed to be into you people. Sorry I was such a dud. Perhaps our love could have defied the odds, but it was way past my bedtime.

Nikki, you looked hot, by the way, and I had a great time, despite my fatigue.

4. Sunday: Snoozer Bowl at Em's. Boring game (mostly). Boring commercials. Great snacks! I was the only one cheering for a particular team, and then the Pats went and made me look like an ass for picking the wrong side. Thanks a lot, Brady. Why don't you get sacked a few more times.

No, I take it back. I know it's not your fault, Tom. Maybe you can knock up a few more supermodels in the off season, and I'm sure you'll be back in top form next year. I have faith.