Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to Make Your Cats Unhappy Without Getting in Range of Their Claws

Step one: Have cats. A clowder is best.

Step Two: Clean your house.  This alone should accomplish your purpose, but to really make them miserable, go on to the next steps.

Step three: Rearrange the furniture.  Really, just shifting a table six or so inches will do.

Step four: Find the cats' hidden secret poo corner in some obscure and hard to reach place. Clean it.

**pro tip: this may signal to your cat(s) that you actually want him/her/them to poo there. At least you know where the smell is coming from now.**

Step five: Allow the water bowls to be any more than a millimeter from overflowing.

Step six: Do not refresh the cat bowls when you come downstairs, even if it is three in the afternoon and you only went up to change your socks that were covered in slimy cat puke the cats left for you to find in a poorly lit but commonly used walkway, like the laundry room doorway.

Step seven: Put knick-knacks on the piano in such a way that the cats cannot use it as a napping area. 

Warning: the cats may see this as a game wherein their job is to clear enough space to nap. I recommend using heavy, oddly-shaped books.

Step eight: Put your folded laundry away instead of leaving it to line the plastic cat-nap boxes you foolishly refer to as laundry baskets.

Bonus seasonal step: Add Christmas decorations to your house.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Down the Cleaning Rabbit Hole

Have you ever done this?  Started cleaning one small mess that made you realize how dirty everything else around it was, and then you get into this cycle of trying to make everything equally clean?

This is similar to the phenomenon of the endless bowl of cereal - you eat the cereal, have too much milk, so add a little more cereal, but then you need just a little more milk to try and achieve the perfect milk-to-cereal ratio... you see where this is going.  This is why I don't buy Fruity Pebbles anymore.

It's a quick path from there to throwing up your hands and deciding never to clean anything again.

Today I picked up my cordless mouse and went to switch it on - and realized that the tiny switch cavity area was partially obscured by some sort of filth collected from the mouse pad.

Listen, I don't know where mousepad grime comes from.  More importantly, I don't think I want to know.

I used a little straight pin - okay, I'm lying, I really used an earring that I lost the back to and have been too lazy to put away.  Anyway.  I gently scraped away the surprising amount of grime and thought, "let me just run this earring along the other little crevices on the mouse."  Mistake.  Apparently, there is either a wad of cat fur that worked it's way inside the mouse or the plastic exterior of the mouse is the exoskeletal armor of an actual mouse.

I feel like there is a moral to the story here.  Something about how if you go looking for dirt, you are going to find it.  Or maybe that just because something looks clean on the outside doesn't mean it isn't full of dead skin cells and feline fur on the inside.  But really, it just reminded me that cats are gross.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Stuck Doing Important Things

I didn't want to wait until the last minute today. But I somewhat inadvertantly ended up in a conversation that was a long time in coming, was really important, and lasted quite a while.

It can be a little disconcerting to find yourself in a conversation that turns a trite-sounding old saw  into honest-to-goodness good advice. Confession really IS good for the soul.

The key, I guess, is to talk to someone that you genuinely trust..

Anyway, what I'm really trying to say is I ran out of time to blog. But it was worth it.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

My Funny Hunny

My husband and I have many a hilarious conversation.  I generally make it a policy not to record the ones where I'm the one who says something goofy.  Here are a few of his gems over the last few years of our marriage.

Hubby (describing making fun of one of his professors from LonGuyLand): I knew he would get the New York personality.
Me: New York personality? In other places, we call that being a jerk.

Hubby: Isn't he the Secretary of Justice? 
Me: *long stare* That's not a thing... You mean the Attorney General?
Hubby: Well, to be fair, it's a weird one.

Hubby: The twins [my sister's two daughters] are God's way of tricking people into thinking that kids aren't so bad.

Hubby - Knock knock!
Me - Who's there?
Hubby - Cthul.
Me - Did you just sit there for the last five minutes thinking up that joke? 

Me: Huh, China is planning to be the second country to put a man on the moon. They are scheduled to launch this year.
Hubby - North Korea would have bragged about already doing it.

While watching a previous season of Doctor Who late at night:

Me: I'm going to skip that episode (Doctor Who: Angels Take Manhattan).
Hubby: You can't. You can watch it tomorrow, but you can't skip it.
Me: Why not?
Hubby: It's a fixed point in time.
....
Me: I am not watching weeping angels at midnight.

I skipped it.

Me: "What time do we need to leave?"
Mostly sleeping Hubby: "Potato."

Hubby, dancing around the living room, hands in the air, yelling, "He's giving them the safety? Really?!? THAT'S GENIUS! GENIUS!!!"

Hubby - "I'm always right."
Me - Except when you're wrong.
Hubby - "When I'm wrong, it's reality that needs to change."

Hubby - That moment when you pull up to a red light in the 'hood, windows down and bagpipes blaring.

Me - Huh, they are cancelling Encyclopedia Britannica.
Hubby - The whole thing?!?

Me - Well, it’s not like they are just going to stop printing "C!"

Saturday, November 01, 2014

That Time I Forgot How Numbers Worked

Every time I think, okay, life has settled down, maybe I can be a regular blogger again, something happens.  The pendulum swings back and I end up being so busy just living that I don't have the time to be as introspective as I would like.  I've written a host of blog posts in my head that never made it onto the page over the last 10 months.  I got a new job, one I love more than I can say.  I studied for and took the bar exam and spent the last three months dreading Halloween, knowing that it was going to be the day that I found out that I had failed yet again at something everyone else assumed I would succeed at.

I was sitting in my office, surrounded by my attorney colleagues and my fellow admin, my manager on the phone (she left early to do trick-or-treating with her kids) and my husband on speaker phone.

(It wasn't my idea to be surrounded by people - my manager bribed me with "I'll give you a hundred dollars if you don't pass, as long as you check the results at work."  I figured, well, at least I would have a hundred dollars.)

The results would be up at 4:30.  As the clocked ticked down from 4:25, I felt time shift.  Everything was happening in slow motion.  My hands were shaking, my heart was in my throat.  People were talking to me, and I know I responded, but I have no idea what we were talking about.

I loaded up the web page, and the internet was slow - SO SLOW.  This slow:



I was trying to figure out where the button was for the bar results - my eyes couldn't focus on the screen.  One of my colleagues pointed out the link probably three times before my brain registered her words.  A screen filled with thousands of numbers followed by the words "pass" or "fail" came up.  That was it - just "pass" or "fail."

I started to scroll - but I still couldn't focus.  I couldn't remember what numbers were or how to count.  I kept staring at the screen, trying to remember what to do next.  "HOW ARE NUMBERS ORDERED?" I asked myself... repeatedly.

I decided to ctrl+f (search and find) but out of habit, I hit ctrl+shift+c... which locks your computer!  After a moment of panic and hyperventilating, I was back at the page.  I entered my number in the search box, found it highlighted on the page.  The room was completely silent.  

Stunned, despite my preparations and expectations of this day, despite the fact that I told myself I was going to be fine NO MATTER WHAT the screen said, I could barely choke out the words, "I passed...."

The whole room erupted in a pandemonium of hugs and congratulations and I told you so's.  Meanwhile, I kept looking back and forth from the page with my seat number to the webpage, trying to convince myself that I wasn't dreaming.

It has been such a long, long road.  There is no way I could have ever walked it alone.  I'm so incredibly grateful for the support I have received from my family, friends, and colleagues. More than anything else, I am grateful to the God who gave me the strength to do something I genuinely didn't think I could do.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I Survived the Polar Vortex

Like many people in the United States, my friends, my family, and myself have all been coming up with innovative ways to stay warm.

Some people hang curtains in strategic places:


FROGS!!



Some people bundle up:
Face changed to protect the innocent.
And some people stay warm by posting complaints on Facebook about how cold they are.  Especially the ones who live in Florida.

The following is a conversation I had with one such relative who shall remain faceless:

ME:  This is dedicated to my poor cousin "ETHYL."* She is trapped and suffering in Florida's frigid 50 degree weather. She had to wear REAL SHOES today, shoes that neither flipped nor flopped. I don't know how she did it. She is so brave. Please, join me in celebrating her courage and willingness to KEEP FIGHTING despite these dreadful circumstances. #polarvortex


ETHYL:
Face changed to protect the guilty.
ETHYL:Also, this is hilarious and you are the BEST and have given me the strength to carry on.

ME: No, Ethyl, YOU are the best. Your bravery inspires me. Sniff.  I had to walk over a large snow drift to get to my mailbox today. Seems that the snow plow people thought that putting all the snow from the entire subdivision in front of my mailbox was the best idea ever. I don't know how I would have gained the courage to collect my circulars and water bill from the mailbox if it wasn't for your example.

ETHYL: Well, I had to wait like 2 WHOLE MINUTES for my car to warm up this morning. It was really hard.

ME: That's the kind of thing that keeps me warm as I use a bucket to scoop giant piles of snow off of my car.

ETHYL: I am here to inspire others.

MATILDA: Real shoes?! Whatever shall she do?!

ME: She soldiers on, Mat. She soldiers on.

ETHYL: Thank you it is SO HARD.

FONZIE: THEY NEITHER FLIP NOR FLOP!
Editor's note:  Fonzie is the spouse of the very bundled friend pictured previously.

ME: I know, Fonzie. Doesn't her suffering put your burned out furnace and frozen sump pump lines in perspective?

*Names changed to protect the posters' privacy.  And/or make me laugh.

Wherever you are my friends, stay warm.



Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The One About The Tire

An interesting phenomenon I have discovered since moving to Maryland:  a lot of people do not pull over for emergency vehicles!  I just don't understand this:  if it was you or your loved one that the emergency vehicle was responding to, would YOU want them delayed because some jerk who could get out of the way chose not to?

/rant

As I mentioned a few days ago, we recently had to deal with a flat tire.  We were slowing down for a red light at a busy intersection when we heard a siren blare, and in the rear view mirror,  see a police car speeding down the road behind us, blue and red lights flashing.  The Hubs, not a Maryland native, attempts to pull over to let the police car pass.  On this one way, two lane road, there wasn't a LOT of room to pull over without pulling into a ditch.  If the cars on both sides pull over, there is JUST enough room to make a third lane in the middle.

Anyway, the police car very aggressively nosed its way through the sort-of path created by the reluctant drivers - most of whom did not or barely moved their vehicles.  We ended up pulling off the road more than would have been safe had the ground not been frozen.

The police car passed, we pulled back into our lane.  Seconds later, another set of lights and sirens.  Fewer drivers were willing to get out of the way, so we actually changed lanes and pulled off on the other side of the road.  This time, the police car barely  managed to squeeze past.  When we pulled back onto the road, the light was green and we proceeded forward.

It was immediately apparent that there was a problem.

thump smack thump smack thump smack

The car was shaking.

thump smack thump smack thump smack

"I think there is something wrong with our car," I observed quietly.

I saw the Hub's hands tighten on the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white.

"I think we have a flat tire," I continued.

He didn't say anything.  I pointed ahead to the entrance of a subdivision on the right where we could safely pull over.

"We could pull over there to ch...." I began.

His voice curt, stern, emotionless, the Hubs replied, "I am making a U-Turn."

As he said this, he flicked the blinker on aggressively (he's from New Jersey, he can do anything aggressively if he wants to), changed lanes, and pulled into the left turn lane at the next intersection.

Stung by his curt response, I replied crossly, "Hey.  Don't take it out on me.  I didn't make the tire flat."

He didn't respond.  His knuckles on the steering wheel grew a little whiter.

I knew what was going through his head.  He wasn't really mad at me.  He was replaying the memory of the pothole, the loud metallic thunk as the right front tire dropped and rose a dramatic six inches.  The money spent at Firestone trying to assess and repair the damage.  The discovery that the car now shakes at 65 mph.  The additional money we were going to have to pay to fix a mistake that wasn't our fault.  And on top of that, everything else that has happened in the past year.

He still didn't say anything.

"Where are we going?" I asked, timidly.

The light turned green and he made a U-Turn.  After a moment, he replied, "To the gas station."  His voice was still curt, devoid of emotion.  In a word, terrifying.

See, the Hubs is generally a pretty jovial guy.  He tends to take things in stride and find the humor in situations that make me panic.

His ability to find amusement in not-amusing situations may or may not have resulted, at times in the distant past, in me stamping my foot and demanding that he "take me seriously right now, I mean it!  Stop laughing.  It's not funny.  NOT FUNNY!"

With the exception of his curt replies to my questions, my husband was silent.  I use that word because there isn't a word to describe a void of silence.  All sound was sucked into a joy-less vortex, the atmosphere a vaccuum.  The only sound that could withstand the black hole of his anger was the

thump smack thump smack thump smack

of the tire on the pavement.

A minute and a century later, we pulled into the gas station.  The clock said only sixty seconds had passed, but my soul lived 100 years in that moment.  100 years of

thump smack thump smack thump smack

and the sound-eating vortex that was the white-knuckled Puerto Rican sitting next to me.

In most situations where life deals us the two of clubs, I am the panicker, the anxious

nothing-will-ever-go-right-again-where-is-my-paper-bag
arm waving
sky falling
chaos predicting

partner in this marriage.  The Hubs is my rock.  He keeps me level-headed(ish) and tells me everything is going to be okay.

Sometimes, very rarely, I am the sane one.  Usually, this happens when I realize that the Hubs is the one about to lose it.  During the drive to the gas station, I texted my mother-in-law to tell her what had happened.  She knows me so well, so she just reminded me to calm down, to trust, and that was it.  So by the time the Hubs stopped the car, I knew everything was going to be okay.

When his voice - rusty with a century of disuse - broke the dreadful silence, I jumped.

"Do you have change."

It wasn't a question.  It was a statement couched in a slightly-polite format, as if he were trying to remember the niceties of a more civilized age.  An awkward attempt to avoid my snappish demand for civility.

"Yes."  I replied.  "I have a dollar fifty in quarters."

Before I had completed my sentence, he was out of the car, standing next to my door.  The look on his face said his foot would have been tapping impatiently if he wasn't attempting to be polite.  It was clear that he was waiting for me to get out.  As I exited the car, he tilted his head to indicate the tire.

A visual inspection did not reveal any obvious tears or holes.  We couldn't even see the tire bulge that had been obvious for months.  A very brief discussion (I use that word loosely, it was more like a half a sentence and a grunt) saw him back in the driver's seat, backing up slowly, so I could inspect the part of the tire concealed by the ground and slushy snow.  I still didn't see anything.  He pulled forward.

I shrugged at him as he stepped around to my side of the car.  "I didn't see anything.  Do you want me to put the air in it?"

Having imagined the worst (both in my reaction and in the state of the tire), the Hubs seemed slightly puzzled for a moment.  Apparently, the universe was not actually crashing around our ears.  Gruffly, he replied,

"I'm going to go buy you something to drink in the store."

I had mentioned being thirsty much earlier, before the sirens, before the tire, actually, about five seconds after leaving the house.

It's a thing I do.

"Okay," I thought, "apparently, his humanity is returning."  Oh good.  No more crazy husband.

Well, almost.

It turns out that the tire had a leak.  I added air to the tire, we waited for five minutes, and then we drove around the parking lot once.

Unfortunately, a lady had the nerve to pull into the gas station to put gas in her car, which briefly delayed our return to the air pump as she had the right of way.

She even made eye contact with the Hubs.  It was a tense .2 seconds.

When we checked, the pressure in the tire had dropped from 44 psi to 35 psi.  His eyes briefly glowed red (normally, a delicious chocolate brown).  That's when I suggested fix-a-flat.  His agreement obtained, I went and purchased a can from the gas station.

Then I tried adding it to the tire.

I should mention here that I was wearing a knee-length dress, that the ground was covered with an icy-snowy-slush, and that there was a bitterly cold wind blowing.  I couldn't get the angle on the can right.  I made a mess.  The Hubs was not amused.  His silence speaking volumes, he added the fix-a-flat.  I chattered nervously in the background.  We got back in the car, and he asked me what we were doing next.

"Uh, the can says to 'drive slowly for three-to-four miles.'"

"What does 'slowly' mean?"

"I don't know, that's what the can says."

"Five miles an hour? Ten? Thirty-five?  How slow?"

"I don't know!"

Dear authors of the label on the fix-a-flat we used - I promise he didn't mean what he said next.  I'm sure you didn't hit every branch of the stupid tree on the way down.  And some rocks are really smart.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Still Not Done

I had a meeting this morning and a long afternoon.  My medicine wore off just about the time I sat down to finish the blog post I have been working on for three days.  I am finding this a little frustrating - I have something to write about, but I can't seem to finish it before the end of the day rolls around.

So I end up writing a little nothing post just to meet my commitment to blog every day this month.

I feel like I'm cheating.

I'm not, though.  I am building new habits by making myself work on this even though it frustrates me.  I am not giving up.  I am not throwing my hands up in the air and giving up.

I will do this.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

What Happens At Dennys

I am not going to fail on day 5 of the new year!  I am disappointed that I didn't finish the post I've been working on, but I've been sick for the last week and this morning was really bad.  I didn't get out of bed until 2:30 p.m., and I had other things that HAD to be done.  So, without further ado:  a picture and a quick story:

Recently, the Hubs and I decided to act like college kids and make a midnight dessert trip to Denny's with our friend Saige.  The waitress was not terribly attentive, leaving us alone for more than an hour before she brought the check.  This is the result of our boredom.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Story Before The Other Story About The Tire

I'm really bad at knowing at what point in the story one ought to start a tale.  Maybe it is a remainder from those tort classes about proximate cause, but I often seem to find myself saying, "But wait, for you to understand this, I have to go back to that one time...."

Today we got a flat tire.  I have a funny story about this flat tire. In order to tell you about it, I first need to explain why this tire went flat. The beginning of that story is in March 2013.  At least.

The first story isn't really funny, it's just background.  So we can credit the flat tire to 2013's account.  And also so you can fully comprehend why my husband turned to color of a boiled lobster.

Round about March 2013, Firestone received lots and lots of money to replace our worn-out brakes and tires. Shortly after that, I went into the hospital for a week, and then onto short-term disability for the next seven-ish weeks.  (I had mono and gastroenteritis, the exact dates are fuzzy.)  Right after that, we discovered an unfortunately placed pothole in the middle of the road.  It was not as cute as this pothole, but was just as large and almost as destructive:


We did not immediately notice any damage, and, with relief, we went on our merry way.

Awhile later (later enough that it was near to being autumn), I noticed a blister on the same (brand new) tire that was eaten by the giant pothole.  That same day, the heater got stuck on defrost.  The Hubs decided to take the car to Firestone to have it checked out.

After replacing some random part on the heater, the folks at Firestone told the Hubs that we had a bent rim, but that the blister wasn't anything to worry about.  The rim was (supposedly) fixed.  The next day, we started noticing the car shaking a bit when we hit 65.

We probably should have taken the car back to Firestone at that point, but life was crazy and we aren't made of money.  Honestly, we didn't really think it was related to the tire thing, we just thought it was yet another annoying problem with our car.

When we visited my in-laws recently, we mentioned the shaking thing.  My father-in-law took the car to his "guy,"  who informed us that Firestone had not properly aligned something-or-other, blah blah blah, car talk.  This was right after I lost my job, so it was kind of one of those moments where you say, "Alas.  That stinketh" and go on with your life because you don't have money to fix it.

Towards the end of November, I had to put air in that tire.  This isn't uncommon with the advent of winter so I didn't really think anything of it.  Unbeknownst to me, in December, the Hubs ALSO had to put air in the tire.

And then today, in the middle of crazy traffic, we realized we had a flat tire.  For real-thunk smack thunk smack-look for a place to pull over-flat.


Friday, January 03, 2014

Cathartic Retrospection

2012 was the best of times and the worst of times.  2013 just felt like the worst of times and even now I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  Without regard to MY feelings in this matter, Facebook keeps encouraging me to create my "year in review" to "celebrate the highlights of 2013."  The thing is, a few pictures from our family vacation and some posts about my cats an ongoing source of misery and humor don't really make up a picture of my year.  If you ask Facebook, my "word of the year" for 2013 was "glubs." I have no explanation for this.

Also, Facebook keeps recommending that I like the page "Duke Athletics."

DEAR FACEBOOK: STOP RECOMMENDING THAT I LIKE DUKE ATHLETICS. LIKE FETCH, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  Sincerely, every UK fan ever.

Clearly, there is a lot about me Facebook doesn't know. The serious stuff, the scary stuff, the life-altering stuff.  I can't just put that kind of stuff "out there" on Facebook, I would sound like a hormonal tween.

That's why I blog instead.  It's, like, totally more mature.

Okay, it would be a lie to say that NOTHING GOOD AT ALL happened in 2013.  I mean, seriously, I have a roof over my head, I have family and friends, and I have cats.

Two out of three ain't bad.  

Initially, this post wasn't supposed to take two days to write.  I was just going to do a quick-and-dirty 2013 "highlight reel." In spite of my feelings about the year in general, I thought I could improve upon Facebook's efforts. Yes, I knew it was cheating - posting a bunch of random pictures is not stretching myself as a writer. I told myself that it was "just for one day.  I'll do something better tomorrow."

I started going through pictures yesterday and then... I just didn't stop.  I've spent the last two days combing through my photographs from the last year.

It turns out that I captured a lot of good little moments.  Things about this year that I don't want to forget - but in light of difficult situations we have dealt with, things that are so much harder to remember.

Ultimately, I created this slideshow as a memorial to 2013.  It might be premature to say I'm feeling better, but I think that, maybe, I am starting to.

So, these are the little things that made this year survivable. Except for that one hospital picture.  That one is just for the LOLZ.   


Before I close this post, let me pretend to accept an award for a second and say thank you to some not-so-little people.  The people with me in these photographs.  I have an amazing family and a small but wonderful group of friends.  Without them, I wouldn't have survived this year.  These are the people who let me stand under their umbrellas for a few minutes.  Thanks, Rihanna.  I am also so incredibly blessed to have a husband who stood next to me in the rain even though I couldn't always see him through the downpour.  Thank you, guys.

Okay, enough of the rain analogy.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Dodging Raindrops

For the last year and a half or so, I have been living my life like someone trying to dodge the raindrops.  Raindrops are the little things.  Laundry that goes sour too fast.  Cats that refuse to use the litterbox properly.  Related carpet stains.  Lost thread.  A sink full of dirty dishes.  Someone at work yells at you.  A driver on the interstate cuts you off, gives you the finger.  Spring termite swarm.  Late frost killing off your flowers.  An argument with a friend.

And in the middle of all that, you get lightening and golf-ball sized hail.

Unemployment.  Infertility.  Mono.  A spouse with kidney stones.  Medical bills.

In the end, you are standing in the rain, clothes plastered to your body, shoes squishing with every step.  Dreading the next hailstone or lightning bolt.

Sometimes I just want a moment to catch my breath.  Dry off a little.  Instead, I'm caught in the middle of an empty parking lot without an umbrella.

This year things are going to be different.  I'm gonna buy a raincoat.



Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Post For A New Year

2013 was a really tough year for me.  2012 was hard, but it had a lot of high points.  2013 felt like a lot of valleys that we never quite made it out of before sliding back down.  I had health problems throughout the year.  I had mono that went undiagnosed for a long enough period of time to do serious damage to my immune system and required more than eight weeks of recovery.  Probably due in large part to the mono, I have had some sort of antibiotic-requiring illness eight or nine times this year.  There have been a lot of other complications in my life due to my lovely bout with mono - but 2013 is over.  I am hopeful dare I say optimistic even, knock on wood that 2014 will be a better year.

On Facebook yesterday, I joked that I needed an "achievable" resolution for 2014.  I keep typing 2013.  Worst part of the new year, training my fingers not to type the old one.  I keep a running list of the usual "goals for being a better person" throughout the year each year:

1.  Eat better, exercise more, get healthy
2.  Become more disciplined in my spiritual life
3.  Working on overcoming bad habits
4.  Treat my family better
5.  Keep my house clean
6.  Put my laundry away more than once a quarter
7.  Blog more
8.  Learn to fly and/or turn invisible

Like many people, these have been ongoing goals in my life for years.  So I want a new goal.  Something realistic but meaningful.  My cousin Erin suggested that I resolve to "win 2014.  Now I just need to figure out what "winning" means.  I'll let you know if I think of anything.