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10/31/08
A Quirk-less Halloween

I didn’t dress for Halloween this year. I know, I know. I ALWAYS dress up. I just couldn’t get into it this year though. And rather than cheapen the dress up experience with some polyester off-the-rack monstrosity, I just decided to forgo the entire event this year. And even though while Ye Ol Company encourages dressing up, I just decided to be one of the boring grown-ups instead. It’s not like anyone other than me would care, right?

Wrong.

I didn’t realize it, but all those other boring grown-ups that never wear costumes at work really really look forward to my costumes. All day long, everywhere I’ve gone, people are shocked that I didn’t dress up this year. Not just shocked, but crushed even.

“No costume this year?”
“No, not this year.”
“BUT WHY???? I’ve been looking forward to your costume all year!”
“Uhhhh…really?”YES! Why didn’t you dress up? Can you go home at lunch and change into one?”

I thought the first few times that this conversation took place that they were mocking me and my love for all things dress up. But I must have heard this 20 times now, from 20 different people, and I can’t imagine that such a large array of co-workers would take the time to plan a group mock like that. So I have to assume that they are sincere. And they really do miss my costumes. Which I think is rather bizarre.

But kinda sweet at the same time.

Just in case you also miss my costumes, here’s a recap of last year’s, and the year before, and the year before.



10/29/08
Seven (More?) Quirky Things Meme

Okay, so it’s meme time. Actually, it was meme time about a month ago when someone tagged me for this meme, but I haven’t gotten around to doing it before now, and I’m too lazy to go back and look up who tagged me for it in the first place. (If you tagged me, then thank you, and don’t worry that I can’t remember who you are because it is in no way a bad reflection on you. I’m just bad about stuff like that. And lazy. But you, you are awesome). Anyway, it’s the 7 Quirky things tag, which come to think of it, I may have done before already, but I’m not positive and I don’t see it in the archives, so maybe not. Again, too lazy to give it more than a cursory look. But even if I have done it before I don’t remember what I wrote, so I’m assuming that you don’t either. Okay, here we go:

One: I don’t eat jell-o. Not one bit. It all goes back to when I was small and accidentally choked on some jell-o. I know, I know, you can’t choke on jell-o. Well I did. And it wasn’t pleasant. And I haven’t eaten for like, 25 years because of it. Besides, food that is semi-transparent and wiggles is unnatural. Just say no to jell-o.

Two: You know what else I don’t eat? Waffles. Not because I choked on them once, but because once when my family was down visiting friends of ours in Savannah, they made us homemade Belgian waffles with their new waffle iron. And they were completely delicious, and I ate a ton of them. Unfortunately unbeknownst to me, I was also very quickly developing a nasty stomach flu, so those lovely waffles didn’t stay down for long. I was on my death bed for days. And I know it had nothing to do with the waffles, but they are now forever linked in my head with the stomach flu so I just can't bear to make myself eat them. That was about 18 years ago. I hold food grudges for a LONG time.

Three: I consider myself an excellent whistler. I can whistle along to any song. I have fabulous range too. I consider whistling to be genetic. My Dad and I can whistle. My mom and sister can not. (I’ve tried to teach the Seester off and on for years…it just doesn’t work). Tony can’t whistle either, so who knows if my children will be able to or not. I would hate to see my fantastic whistling abilities die out with me. I am reminded of an old boyfriend’s father who used to tell me that “a whistling woman and a crowing hen both will come to no good end”. I have no idea what that means except that I’m pretty sure he was jealous of my exceptional whistling ability.

Four: I have a thing for guys with glasses. It suddenly occurs to me that just about all the guys that I’ve ever dated have worn glasses. I seem to be attracted to genetically inferior eyesight. Tony is no exception. What is it about blind guys that makes my heart go pitter-pat?

Five: I’m a little mixed up on my condiments. Maybe not mixed up...just quirky. For instance, I never eat cocktail sauce with shrimp. I always eat my shrimp with ketchup. I never eat ketchup on French fries...I always eat my fries with ranch dressing. I never eat chicken nuggets with mustard...I eat them with with honey. I don't eat barbeque sandwiches with barbeque sauce...I eat mayonnaise on my barbeque. And I don't eat mayonnaise on my burgers at home...I eat it with ranch dressing. I like to think it keeps the condiments guessing.

Six: I don’t like spiders. I don’t know many people who do, but I really don’t like them. Whenever one gets into the house, Tony tries to make it less scary by giving the spider a name. (“Oh that little guy over there? That’s just Frank. He won’t hurt you”). I’m not buying it. It didn’t work with Charlotte’s web, and it isn’t working now. It does, however, make the neighbors wonder when they see me through the window, standing on the couch, banging a shoe up against the wall and screaming “DIE FRANK DIE!” It especially bothers our neighbor Frank.

Seven: Sometimes when I’m reading, I’ll unthinkingly act out the faces that the characters are supposed to be making to get a better idea of what they look like. So when the book says, “Confusion clouded his features for a moment before morphing into hysterical laughter”, I’ll try to look confused before suddenly laughing hysterically. This wouldn’t be so bad except that I tend to read in public places, such as on the square and at the gym. Sometimes I’ll run through the sentence 4 or 5 times before I feel like I understand exactly what the character is doing. Frown. Laugh. Frown. Laugh. Frown. Laugh. I’m sure it looks very disturbing to the casual observer. (Come to think of it, this may be why no one ever gets on the elliptical machine next to me).

Okay, that’s seven completely pointless quirky bits about me. Technically, I think I’m supposed to tag people to do this also, but since I can’t find the person who tagged me, I’m going to pretend that I don’t remember that part. If you want to do it, feel free.

*I just realized as I published this that this is post 450. Oh my goodness people! I've been talking about myself for 450 posts! Not parenting! Not politics! Not celebrities! Just Me! And you're still here! And sending me Quirky memes! Aren't you sick of hearing about me yet? I'm not that exciting. No wonder we're down to discussing my irrational fear of jell-o.

10/27/08
Olive Oil: Your Skin Never Had It So Good

Good afternoon internets, and welcome to today’s edition of Quirky Beauty Tips, also known as Unrelated Household Items That I Allowed Myself To Use As Beauty Aids Based On Untested Advice From The Internet. Today’s hot beauty item: Olive Oil.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but there’s just something exhilarating about finding a new use for something that you already had around the house. It doesn’t matter if you have 50 things that can already do this desired action…the fact that you found something else that can do it too just makes it all worthwhile. So in honor of this, I have decided to pass along my newfound love of olive oil.

Like you, I kept my olive oil in the kitchen because of its main accepted use is as a cooking item. (Not that I cook with mine…that would require, well, actual cooking, and Heaven knows that anything beyond toasting Poptarts exceeds my level of culinary comprehension). But I keep olive oil anyway, because I have this lovely blue oil container thingie that matches my kitchen d├ęcor, and I needed something to put inside. I guess you could say that my olive oil’s main job was to sit there and look pretty.

But then, one day not too long ago, I came across a website that mentioned how beneficial it was to slather your feet in Olive Oil to soften them. (Honestly, I do not remember the exact website where I found this, but I do remember it saying that it softened hard feet better than lotion or baby oil). And since my olive oil wasn’t serving any other purpose, I decided that it was high time that it pulled its weight around here. So I oiled up my feet, ignored Tony’s raised eyebrows, put some socks on and went to bed. Then, the next morning, OH MY GOODNESS my feet were so soft! Baby soft tootsies! And that is really saying something since my feet are not in the best shape anyway. (My idea of proper foot care is spraying them down with the hose after running around barefoot outside all day). Olive Oil on the feet: very good. It forgives a multitude of foot-related sins.

Anyway, as excited as I was about my new olive oil foot rub, I needed more. So I went back to the internet, where I discovered several one accredited random scientifically controlled blog where someone said that it would make a great natural makeup remover and moisturizer for your face without clogging your pores. And even though I have makeup removers and moisturizers that don’t clog my pores, I ran back to my kitchen and smeared olive oil all over my face. And Tony took one look at my shiny cheeks and forehead and said, “What the heck is on your face woman?!” But you know what? It WORKED! The olive oil isn’t greasy at all, and it soaked right into my skin, and it made my skin so soft and smooth and even takes off waterproof eye makeup. I don’t use it every night, but I have used it several times when my skin just felt a little dry. And I love it.

So then I went back to the internet, and I found more olive oil converts who were not only using it on their faces and feet but all over, as a fabulous full body moisturizer. It soaks in better than lotion, and doesn’t get on your clothes and sheets. And I was like, if my face feels this good, and my feet feel this good, then why not? So I rolled around in my olive oil, which makes your skin very shiny and healthy looking, by the way, and feel just wonderful. And Tony called the men in white coats to tell them that his wife obviously believed that she had turned into a tossed salad. Albeit one with very smooth legs and elbows.

All this is to say that, after strenuous product testing, I have confirmed that olive oil makes a fabulous foot bath, lotion, face wash and makeup remover. Maybe even better than my actual beauty products. Unfortunately, that leaves all these existing products without much to do since they didn’t taste nearly as good on the crusty Italian bread loaf.

**Note: It is true that there can be too much of a good thing in the case of olive oil. Use it all you want as a lotion, but despite what the Internet tells you, do NOT put it in your hair. Some websites will have you believe that putting it in your hair will make your hair feel thick and shiny and take care of the frizz. And it does, trust me. But also trust me that you will never get all that olive oil washed out again. You think you have right up until you try to dry your hair and it just won’t dry. I washed my hair a dozen times trying to get it out. Then had no choice but to go work sporting the “wet look”. Think Michael Jackson ala Thriller hair. Short of that, go nuts. Your husband will believe that you are anyway.

10/24/08
Voting: Truth, Happiness, and the American Sticker

Well, I did my civic duty today and voted. I’m very proud of myself for voting early too. I’d like to claim it was because I’m a patriotic American who still believes in safeguarding the rights to our democracy, but mostly it was because I was bored at work and looking for an excuse to escape the building for a few minutes. I wasn’t 100% sure that they’d let me vote downtown at the courthouse since technically my district is supposed to vote at the elementary school instead, but I took the chance and headed to the courthouse anyway. I figure that while the basement of the courthouse smells like musty old person and newspaper, it was still better than the school, which lingers of Elmer’s glue, fish sticks and sweaty child. (These are important things to consider when deciding to vote…who knows how long the line will be?)

Anyway, I walked down to the courthouse. I always get a kick out of the 600 million candidate signs all jammed together right up until you get to the “No campaign signs beyond this point” sign. Do they think that I managed to wander down here without knowing who was running? Or that I had been undecided up until the point that I saw that last “Vote for me!” sign stuck in the ground? Or maybe that I’d base my vote on who had the most signs? (Actually, I think I’d go the opposite direction. If you think buying 50 campaign signs to cover approximately 1 square foot of land is a good use of money, then I don’t want you near my tax dollars).

Once I was inside, it was fairly easy to figure out where to go to vote. The election commission has apparently raided several senior citizens homes to work as voter helpers, so I just followed the smell of arthritis cream. (I’m not sure why they choose such “mature” volunteers. My guess is this is because they have the most experience with voting, seeing how they were around for the very first election also).

Surprisingly, there’s not much of a line at 10:30 on a Friday for early voting, so the masses of little blue haired ladies were very excited to see me. This is both good and bad because while they were very friendly, none of them could read the small print on my driver’s license to verify my address. They get around this by passing the license from person to person down a long table. Everybody squints at it and passes it on. The theory is that between them all, they’ve managed to read enough of it to verify that I am who I say I am.

The voting itself wasn’t that exciting. I stood in my little booth and cast my vote on a machine that looked like it would have been very high-tech in 1945. Like maybe one of those old-fashioned arcade games and an adding machine had a love child. It took me a second to adjust to the idea of using a toggle switch instead of a touch screen, but you do what you can.

The whole thing took about two minutes, which was unfortunate because I had really wanted to stretch this out until at least lunch. I was also looking forward to getting my “I voted” sticker, but the blue hairs informed me that they didn’t have any yet. I guess they wait until closer to actual Election Day to do that. (I’m sure this is just a conspiracy to keep all the stickers to themselves. I was all set to demand my sticker, but I figured that it would have ended in a brawl, and all that Aspercream makes them too slippery hang on to, so I let it go).

All in all however, I had a good time and encourage each of you to go out and do your civic duty by voting also. It helps your country, your local government, and the little blue haired ladies who would otherwise have nothing to do. Except hoard “I voted” stickers, of course.

10/22/08
Chilly Mornings and Other Blue Things

Well, it’s officially cold. I had to wear a jacket this morning. (Sigh). I knew this would happen…it happens every year. You think I would have come to expect it by now, but it always surprises me. So much of the time, Knoxville is hot. It starts about late March and ends around late October. I love the warmth. I’m a warm weather girl, and the thought of waking up to cold weather makes me groan. Reason number 1 why we don’t live above the Mason Dixon line.

As a matter of fact, I was late to work today because it was toasty warm under the covers and the slightest bit chilly outside. I hate that part. It’s hard enough rolling out of bed anyway, but to do it knowing that it’s going to be cold? No thank you. So I burrowed in deeper instead of getting up, and it made me a couple minutes late. The temperature was one in the low 40s this morning when I finally staggered out of my comforter cocoon, and while that may not seem cold to you Northerners, it was brisk enough to get me grumbling. Maybe I’m part bear. I certainly seem to have the hibernation instincts. And no one would expect a bear to get up and brave the cold to come to work. Or at least, no one would have the guts to tell that to a bear anyway.

It’s also my first hot chocolate day of the year today. I’m not a coffee drinker, so in the summer months I usually just stick to water or milk for breakfast. But it’s cold today, and I just can’t seem to get my fingers warm, so I made hot chocolate. Mostly so that I could just hold on to the cup. I’m going to have to pick up some fat free instant mix though. What with the increased chocolate intake and the desire to hibernate, the winter padding sneaks its way back onto my thighs in record time.

On the flip side, the sudden change in temperature has me giddy with anticipation of Christmas lights. At the end of the season last year, I picked up several strands of practically free Christmas lights, and I’m excited about getting the decorations up this year. This year’s Christmas theme will be (of course) blue and the bluer the better. We will once again, be the blue house with the blue lights and the blue wreath and the blue giant ornaments. I CANNOT wait.

Just call me Bear in the Big Blue House.

10/17/08
Economic Reduction

I know everyone’s been talking about the economy lately, but in truth, it hasn’t really affected my day to day life. Sure, gas prices are a pain, and groceries have gotten more expensive, but I still have my home, and my job, and enough money that I don’t have to worry about going without. My stocks are all over the place, but I’m not anywhere close to retirement, so I figured that they would level out and return to normal long before I needed them. The economy is one of those things you hear about but didn’t really hit that close to home.

It hit today.

One of my good friends has just been downsized out of a job. They told her this morning. She’s hurt, and she’s scared, and she’s a single-income household, so she needs to find a new job fast before she loses everything. I hurt for her.

I guess what surprised me was the shock that in an instant, she went from secure in riding out this recession to suddenly very in danger. And if it can turn that fast for her, it can for anyone. I’m not going to worry about losing my job…it’s a possibility, but worrying wouldn’t change anything. What will be will be and all that. But it does make me suddenly very aware that nothing is guaranteed.

If ya’ll get a chance, throw some prayer my friend’s way. She’s strong, so she’ll bounce back, but it’s scary for her right now.

10/15/08
The Booklist

I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one who book binges. I knew you guys were awesome! My coworkers know that I read roughly 6 books a week (usually one a night when they’re less than 300 pages), but when I told them that I went through 3000 pages in two days and a half days without pause, they thought I was a little nuts. (To be honest, Tony thought so too, but he’s been through my book binges before. He tries to distract me, but it never works). This binge was a little rougher than most because the Twilight series have such emotionally complex characters. (Which sounds stupid to say about books that are technically geared towards young adults, but there you are). And I seemed to be stuck in there with them, feeling everything that they did, jammed into a 48 hour period. I probably could have ended the binge after those four, but I needed Daughter of York (Anne Easter Smith, 2008) to “rebalance my humors”, as they said in her time.

Pam asked for book suggestions, and while I’ve thought about keeping a “what I’m currently reading” on the sidebar, I didn’t think it would work because 1) it would change daily, and 2) my interests are so scattered that I’m sure that they wouldn’t appeal to anyone else. I never go into the library looking for anything specific; I wander the aisles, randomly picking whatever catches my eye. Sometimes that backfires, but most of the time I enjoy the different styles and voices (of the authors…not the ones in my head). Regardless, and just for Pam, here’s what I’ve been reading (other than the Twilight series and Daughter of York, since I’ve already mentioned them):

Beating the babushka by Tim Maleeny is your good old fashioned PI mystery, but he has a quick wit and interesting plot twists.
Stealing the Dragon, by Tim Maleeny. This is the continuation to Beating the babushka, where he gets further into his character’s back stories. His one-liners and interesting observations will keep you chuckling.
Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front Line Employee by Alex Frankel. This is actually non-fiction, and it was REALLY good. Alex goes undercover at companies like UPS, Starbucks, The Gap, and Enterprise Rent-a-car to examine their company culture and discover what its like being “on the front line”. Made me look at companies (including my own) in a new light.
The James Boys: a novel account of four desperate brothers by Richard Liebmann-Smith- this was really well written also. Very fast paced and lots of fun.
Whatever Makes You Happy by William Sutcliffe- This one threw me for a second because it’s the story of four mothers who are trying to reconnect with their adult sons, which is a position that I rarely think about. But it was good. I enjoyed it, and the different perspective was interesting.
How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin- this is the first in a series about the Blackbird sisters, which is another series of fun whodunits that read quickly and don’t make you think too much. I call them bathtub books since they are short enough to read in the bathtub/hot tub. I find the titles a little cheesy, but she has crazy characters, so they’re fun if you just need an easy read. The others in the series are Murder Melts in your Mouth, A crazy little thing called death, Have your cake and kill him too, Cross your heart and hope to die, Some like it Lethal, and Dead girls don’t wear diamonds. Again, cheesy titles, but cute stories.

So there you have it. I only read of enjoyment, so you'll rarely find a self-help or educational book in that list (although I did check out some gardening books last spring). They're most just some light reading, some mystery, a (slightly) historical fiction, a mother-son relationship story, and the views on current workplace culture. All currently residing in my library, waiting for the next person to wander along and find them.

But now I’m curious…What are you reading?

10/14/08
My Confession

My apologies for my absence. I’m on a book binge and it doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon. I’m not sure if this happens for other people, but every now and then, I book binge. Sure, I’ve always got a book with me, and I read almost every day. A couple hours here, a couple there. Lots of people do that. But sometimes, out of the blue, I’ll hit a bender that totally consumes me. Especially when I’m in the middle of a good series. Then it’s all I do. I’m a bookaholic.

I went through 4 books this weekend. It started Friday night and is still going. This current book stash averages about 600 pages, so it takes me about 10 hours a book when I really savor the passages. I read in marathon blocks. I forgot to eat lunch AND dinner on Saturday because I was so caught up in the stories. I read all genres, although mostly fiction or historical fiction. I love a good story. I cover all kinds of themes. (I seem to be in a sci-fi mood at the moment). I like to read entire series at one time to really get in touch with the characters, so some binges last longer than others.

I try to schedule around book binges. I don’t have the willpower to put a book down and go to sleep before I finish, so I try to only start books that I know I can finish before 2am. And only towards the end of the workweek so that I can make up the sleep over the weekend. (I’m not doing so well with that this week…it’s only Tuesday and I’m seriously sleep deprived). Although I confess that in past binges, I’ve read straight through the entire night and then just went to work the next day, but I can only manage that for so long. (Stupid need for sleep). Work is harder. I read during lunch, but for the rest of the day, the book just sits here on the corner of my desk- singing its siren song. The story lines run through my head all day. I find it very hard to concentrate on anything else. I’m obsessed.

Another day or two ought to do it. The book I’m in right now isn’t as compelling, (still good but not as good as the others), which is probably why I was able to come to work mid-chapter. Still, I know it’s going to be another long night before the fever breaks. Thank goodness the library is so close that I can stock up whenever I need a hit. I’d be in the poor house if I were buying all these books. Some people need alcohol, or drugs, or caffeine. I need books. And sometimes, a whole lot of them at once.

But at least now you know what I've been up to. I'm feeding my addiction.

10/8/08
Candle Critiques

Has anyone seen the newest series of Glade commercials? Like the one where a woman lights a Glade candle, rips the label off, and tries to convince her newly arrived friends that the candle is a fancy French version while unaware that the label has accidentally affixed itself to her rump? The friends see the label and, being the good friends they are, mock her for being caught in a fib while the woman stands there, mortified. Or how about the similar spot where the woman pops in a Glade plug-in and tells her yoga buddies that the scent is really an expensive one that helps her “plug in”; only to be outed when the pesky Glade is spotted from the downward dog?

There are four or five different commercials in all, and every time I see them, I’m basically left with the same question: Why would a company make commercials depicting people who are embarrassed to use their product? Maybe this is all my marketing classes coming through, but people pretending that they wouldn’t be caught dead with a Glade candle in their homes doesn’t seem like a very good way to sell them. As a matter of fact, the first time I saw the commercials, I turned to Tony and asked him if Glade had become one of those “uncool” brands, like knockoff bags of cereal or fake Rolexes. We have a Glade candle in the bathroom. Should I be hiding it? Is Glade unfashionable now? And why the heck is Glade the one alerting me to this?!?

I tried to figure out what kind of message Glade meant to send…assuming that “you shouldn’t admit to buying Glade” wasn’t it. Maybe the women being mocked for trying to hide their Glade candles were the dorks. Maybe all their friends were supposed to be like, “We love Glade, and we mock you for being so uncool that you deny having one”. Maybe the message is that if you pretend not to like Glade, your friends will expose you for the loser that you are. If so, it might help if the friends actually mentioned liking Glade. Or displaying theirs proudly. Instead, it sounds like they ridicule her for cheaping out with a crappy Glade candle and posing it a good French one. (Speaking of, is there really a candle pecking order? Are French candles supposed to be superior? Am I showing my candle cluelessness by thinking that all candle brands basically smell the same?) Rather than wanting to buy Glade, I’m left wondering if everyone else knows something about my candles that I don’t know.

I’m not sure what the marketing team was going for here, but I’m pretty confident that they missed it. If you ask me, instead of the marketing people pretending that that they’ve never used Glade, Glade should be pretending that they’ve never used those marketing people.

10/6/08
Google

So here’s something. Just for fun, I googled myself, both with my maiden name and my married name, to see what good ol’ Google knows about me. As it turns out, nothing. It’s like I don’t exist. Sure, Google brought up a bunch of other people that have my same name(s), but I couldn’t find anything about me personally. An entire world of information, and not one iota that I’m here. At least not on the first three pages anyway. I find that kinda sad.

The other people sharing my name seem to be much better represented. It looks like one is a professional cyclist (bicycle, not Harley), one appears to be a high school basketball player, one lives in Colorado, and one plays volleyball. (Now we know where my athletic talent went…the “other me’s” took it all). As for my married name, one lived in the 1700’s, one is married to a guy named Paul, one is a widow, and one teaches science and is in desperate need of a nose job (bless her heart).

It suddenly occurs to me that there doesn’t seem to be any record of the leap from my old to new name either. Google does not recognize my marriage anywhere, and there is no way for anyone to be able to track me from my past to my new name. Good for avoiding my college alumni donation letters, bad for old friends trying to reconnect. (Note to the old friends: Ignore the picture of the blond with the bad nose. That is not me). I’m hoping that in light of my Internet disappearing act, they’ll just assume that I because the world famous cyclist. I’m cool with that. She has awesome calves.

I guess I should be happy that there’s no easy way to steal my identity or cyber-stalk me. I’m all “off the grid”, like James Bond or Will Smith in that movie where he has the top secret thing and the government is after him. A good thing to know if I ever need to outwit the CIA.

My initial thought was a good dose of self-pity. In a world where the Internet knows something about everything, it felt a little weird to be a nobody. Where are my fifteen minutes of fame? But then I got to thinking about it, and when it is all said and done, all the people that I care about knowing me already do. They make the effort to know me without having to resort to Google. And I feel good about that.

9/2/08
Rafting Pictures

I finally got the Whitewater rafting pictures back! There are a ton of them so I put them in slideshow form, but I wanted to put some on here as teasers.


Here's our motley crew: Me, Tony, two friends from work, and their significant others. Also a significant other's mother and sister. A valiant group if ever I've seen one.

Here I am sitting in the back, apparently singing. Or screaming. It's hard to tell really.

Also, see those feet stuck up in the air? Yeah, that's Tony. See how much fun he's having?
All this and more on the slideshow.