Monday, March 29, 2010

Neil Armstrong is my uncle

I am currently not reading Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino because it was so good I finished it already. It has 154 pages and took me approximately 5 hours. Which, you know, caused me to do some math to figure out my reading rate, and it took me basically 2 minutes per page. Which is slow. But then I figure I should account for how much I re-read because the language really caught my eye. When I'm reading a good book, I go fast at first but then I want to mull it over, so I slow down so the words can really sink in.

The books starts out like this:

Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrely runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year-old. The problem is that no one on Ramble Street knows it but me. In the entire town of Massapequa Park, only I see him for what he really is. A phony. 

I got tricked at first into thinking the main character was a boy, because I just assumed that it would be. But she's not. She's a spunky tomboy who is the pitcher of the neighborhood kickball team, and who sneaks out at night to sit on top of the garage roof. She's full of snarky comments and during the whole of the book she's calling Muscle Man McGinty out on his bald faced lies.

Read it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

1950s Throwback

Last Tuesday I kicked it old-school style and went to Sears Roebuck in search of a 1950s style grass cutter. We're not talking gas powered, self-propelled lawn mower with a bag. Oh no, we're talking old-school spinning blades on wheels. Much like this.

I don't have a white farm house or a dog, but I do have grass that needs to be cut. My neighbor, Handy Dan, has always mowed my lawn for free after he mows his own yard. I used to feel guilty about it, but then I realized it only took him 4 minutes, because my lawn is that tiny. That was last summer.

The second weekend in February was sunny, and I noticed my lawn was getting a bit tall. I didn't sweat it, then two more weekends passed and all my other neighbors were mowing their lawns. Conveniently, Handy Dan's grass hadn't gotten out of control, so he didn't.

All this to say it ended up being March 20th and my lawn was turning into a jungle. I am not going to walk over to Handy Dan's house and ask to borrow his lawn mower, nor am I going to wait around and expect him to do it. It's not his job, and I am fully capable. I just hadn't bought a lawn mower because he had done it all last summer, and like I said, it's a 4 minute lawn.

Because my lawn is so very miniscule, I decided the old-school grass cutter, hereafter known as a "push reel mower," might be ideal as it is small (better to fit in the garage), doesn't need gas (environmentally friendly), and is cheaper than a gas-powered mower.

I went to Sears with all this in mind, tried to talk to a sales associated but they were all a pain in the butt and were trying to convince me to buy a gas-mower, and finally ended up leaving with a push reel mower. Some assembly was required.

I'll spare you the details of that, but just know the instructions were not that helpful. In the end, my grass cutter was assembled, and I labored over my lawn for about three days. I had to cut it at the high setting because like I said, it was a jungle. Then I went to the medium setting. Yesterday I chopped it down at the low setting, so next time I cut it I only have to do it once. If you have a push reel mower, you can't let your green blades get out of control, or it will be very difficult to cut it the next time. The push reel mower is not for the lazy-I-cut-my-grass-once-a-month person (who I was before), and it is only good for people who have small, flat yards (which I do). So well, I'll let you know how it goes.

Now I am like this man, cutting my grass independently in an earth friendly way.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Smash that piggy bank

When you were a kid, did you ever pull up the orange-and-avocado-flower-print-70s-style couch cushions in order to look for loose change? Because you really needed that My Little Pony and had no money?

Well, since feeding the ATM machine my debit card, I am currently looking for cash money so that I can go to the grocery store. I've managed with (non)-essential* purchases with my credit card so far, but while I wait upon the arrival of my new debit card, it is essential to go grocery shopping. And Winco doesn't take credit. Because, you know, they are really awesome and high class and turn their nose down at that sort of thing.

So here I am, making my minimal list, trying to see what I can buy with $8.49. Or whatever. I didn't really count the cash in my wallet yet, but I am guessing it is around there. I do have a jar full of quarters though, and I might just take that with me to the grocery store. Then I can be that person whom everybody groans about. You know, the one that takes 17 minutes in line.

In the meantime, I've been really domestic around the house. Like, I scrubbed my shower with Fiber-Fab and then I even sealed it with white goop. I scrubbed the tile of my bathroom because I wanted to seal it too, but I'm still trying to get those dumb white grit marks out of the indentations. And I washed my rug. And potted some (fake) plants that look super real, because I tricked Kaitlynn with them yesterday. They were the expensive fake kind that look really real. Like you could almost pretend they smell like tulips and not some sort of polyurethane. I also hung a clock in the living room and a fancy shmancy mirror in the dining area. What I really need to do today is plant some grass seed outside, because I've been putting it off since approximately September 22nd, 2009. Since it just rained it is probably a really excellent time to plant some grass seed.

I also learned how to make these whimsical flower decorations. Is any one having a party soon? Can I make some for you?

Today reality needs to give me a good slap in the face, because I haven't done any school stuff and I need to teach the little buggers in 4 days, counting today. Boo.

You know the whole cash problem? I suppose I could pay with a check, but who does that anymore? And that wouldn't be as fun as digging through the couch cushions. Because hey, I found the remote.

*non-essential credit card purchases include things like t-shirts from Forever 21 and organizational structures from Ikea.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How brilliant I am, (in a sarcastic sort of way)

I'm at Home Depot, buying some Insta-Grass-Magic* and some nuts/bolts to fix my brand-new lawn mower, when I open up my purse to take out my silver debit card. The pocket of my wallet that it usually nests in is decidedly empty. It's then that I think oh shit. Because I was at the drive-through ATM about two hours ago, making a deposit. And I don't remember getting my card back.

I quickly hand the cashier my credit card, trying to wrap my head around this thing. After getting my receipt, I walk out of the store, rummaging through my purse some more. No transaction receipt from the ATM either. I probably just stuck in that deposit envelope and drove away, sunglasses on and hair flying in the breeze. Idiot.

I easily peel out of the parking lot, like an over-ripe banana. Only you know, if the banana were silver-gray and had four wheels. I'm crossing the overpass near the freeway when this bare-footed goon slowly crosses in front of me. To be completely non PC, he's probably homeless and missing some nuts and bolts. Unfortunately, the ones I bought at Home Depot earlier won't do him any good. He finally gets across to the sidewalk, completely oblivious to the fact that nine cars in either lane have piled up, waiting for his idiotic crossing. Meanwhile, I'm trying to remember how much money I have in my checking account that I could be getting robbed out of right now. Somewhere, someone could be racking up dollars worth of expensive pink lingerie or plasma TVs.

As soon as I get home I rush to my computer to Dex online to look up the number of the bank I was at. It's past 6, so they're probably closed. I call anyway. Lame message of some mortgage agent. Instead I dial the customer service number on the back of my credit card, hoping it's the same number needed for a misplaced debit card. The automated voice wants me to punch in my card number. I want to punch the automated voice in the face. I don't know what the card number is because I don't have it anymore. Brilliant. I'm on my on-line banking, seeing if my card number is on there anywhere. It's not. There's just a bunch of Xs and then four digits. I punch in the four digits anyway. We're sorry, this number is un-recognizable. 

After some waiting, I get connected with a real person. I think his name was Michael, and he had really poor enunciation. I could barely make out what he was saying. I explained the problem, and he said that he needed my bank number in order to cancel the card. BUT I DON'T KNOW IT. That's the problem. The card is missing and I bloody well don't know anything but the last four digits. Michael asks me if I have online statements. I do. Through his mumbling he advises me to open one and look in the top right corner for my number. I do. I stare at the number. Idiot.

It's a very familiar number. It's friendly, almost smiling at me. I know it better than my sister's cell phone number. I easily memorized it years ago. It's my stupid checking account number. I knew that. Somehow, in my panic, I didn't realize he needed my account number. I thought he needed the card number.

Michael, me, and his low quality speech patterns get everything squared away. He checks my account and assures me the last transaction was the deposit I made. He cancels my card and orders a new one. Then he's all I have a few questions about your other accounts, which kind of freaks me out, because I'm worried something is wrong. But instead he asks me questions about if I'm happy with my mortgage and do I want to open up a different sort of savings account? since CD rates are basically $h!t right now. I say no, but thanks for asking.

Then I re-look up the bank's number on Dex Online and get a different number. I call and Kelly answers and I tell her I left my ATM card in the machine but I already called customer service and had them cancel it. She checks the vault anyway to see if some really honest Samaritan returned my card. There isn't any. (debit cards or honest Samaritans). But Kelly tells me how if you don't say I want my card back within like, 5 minutes of your ATM transaction, the machine sucks your card back in and instantly shreds it. So you know, that's taken care of.

The short of it is I'm utterly brilliant.

*There is no such thing as Insta-Grass-Magic, but whatever I bought basically assures me that it includes a magic formula of mulch, fertilizer, and grass seed and will repair my lawn instantly.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What I think I will buy with my tax return

Although I owe the lovely state a wad of cash, I will still be getting some back from federal, and this is what I think I will buy:

1) A new interior door handle for the passenger side of my car. Because you know, it broke off. Like the other one. Here's the story in case you forgot. So once again my car is a death trap.

2) A lawn mower. Just a dinky one most likely, because I only have a few scraps of grass around my house. But they are getting out of control. It's like a jungle out there.

3) Those nice wooden bookshelves I've been talking about since moving into my new house. I want three. Six feet high, about three feet wide, with adjustable shelves. Real wood, not laminate.

4) Perhaps some plants/shrubs/flowers for outside. But I probably shouldn't because I just kill everything.

5) And the rest I will put in my savings account for when I get my act together and decide to start my master's degree.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Library Lovers

 (This is a re-post/revise of a January 2009 posting).

On my way home I stopped at the library to return the crate of books I had (yes, a crate full). Upon my entrance, I noticed a girl aged about 17 who was crying. She was totally wiping her eyes, sniffling, and clutching a cell phone. I can understand. I myself have received some very upsetting news at the library. For example, the three men that I am sure I could have married had we actually carried on a conversation both left me there, broken hearted. All of them were quite mysterious.

I saw the first one when I was in seventh grade. He was wearing a baseball camp, sitting in a big, comfy chair, reading the newspaper. We smiled at each other, and then I swear I saw him at Rite Aid six days later. I don't know who he was.

The second guy I saw my jr. year of high school. I was at a table doing homework by the magazines when he walked in. He was dressed all in black, but not in a creepy goth way. More like a bad-ass, mysterious hunk sort of way. He had flip flops on, though, which caught my attention, because it was like February. He looked about my age, and I was really confused why he was at the library because he definitely didn't go to my high school. It was a small town, so if he lived in it, I would have known. While staring at him (he was choosing a magazine), I came up with this whole story about how he must be here visiting an aunt or something. Foreign and mysterious.

The third guy was a total dream doll. He was Italian, with this beautiful dark skin and gorgeous face. This was while I had my internship in the children's section of the public library. This one actually talked to me. I was behind the desk, checking in some books, when he came up to me and asked if we had a foreign language section for kids. He spoke with an accent, and when I asked him what language he was looking for, he didn't surprise me by saying Italian. This seemed to be going well, but then a toddler popped out from behind a shelf and I realized it was his son. So hunky library patron number three was out of the question.

Back to the initial statement: I've experienced upsetting circumstances while at the library, just like the crying girl I saw. Not only did I lose my three true loves, but I also opened up an envelope that held some very disappointing news in it. I'm not going to talk about that, though. Most people don't open their mail up while at the library, but I needed to. It was the only place I could be alone, and I wanted to be alone when I found out the news. I think the library is a very relaxing place, and I find a lot of comfort in visiting it. Also, by going to Borders and spending money on clean pages.
So I told you about my upsetting intimate moments in various libraries, whereupon three very attractive yet mysterious men abandoned our future of love together, and whereupon I opened some upsetting mail. I totally forgot about the pivotal moment in my life whereupon I bawled my eyes out in the third floor bathroom of Hamersley. It was rough getting to the third floor before anyone saw me. I had to go up all those stairs. But I had to go to the third floor, not the second floor, because the top floor is pretty much abandoned. You are looking for some really boring books if you have to go to the third floor. So I went into the biggest stall, locked the door, and cried enough tears to fill the watertank of a toilet. Also, dried my eyes with toilet paper. And it was Charmin.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Family Photos, a priceless memory

I sarcastically love those photos of families where everyone wears khakis and a blue shirt, or like jeans and a white shirt, or maybe black pants with matching red shirts. They all pose, putting their hands on each others shoulders and whatnot.

Like this

or this

It's important that the backdrop is one of those roll down scenes or neutrals.

I totally have one of my extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles) and I, circa 1998. We were rocking the jean/white tee combo. Grey background, I think.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting Ripped Update

Remember how I lied about two weeks ago describing how I was giving up carbs and sugar in order to get ripped? Okay, so you probably didn't know I was lying. I didn't either. See, after the first week everything has gone to shambles. I do not think it is physically possible for me to give up bread and chocolate simultaneously. In fact, I ate some chocolate while at work and I am eating a very small amount of pasta right now. So suck it Tim Ferriss and your bean/egg white diet.

On the bright side, my mouth totally tolerates the strange consistency and flavor that is cottage cheese. I can fully eat it for breakfast now.

I don't want you to think I've given up, because I haven't. I'm trying really, really hard, actually. But I'll be honest. I slip. I want nothing more than a big fresh loaf of french bread dipped in melted chocolate. But I'm trying not to succumb.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sometimes Mildly Awsome Things Happen Without You Expecting It

Setting: My classroom, Thursday morning. I had a sub the day before, so my room was messy and I was a bit unsure of what I'd be teaching in the morning. Plus, I had an IEP meeting that morning at 8, so I didn't even have a chance to re-group myself.

Students are coming into class, it's five till nine, and I'm trying to scarf down some breakfast before meeting with my word study group.

Enter: 30ish woman wheeling a cart with various doo-dads on it. She looks a bit unsure of herself, eyes me, I look back at her, and then finally...

Woman: Are you the teacher? (because you know, I look so young that she thinks maybe I'm just a helping hand or something. But I try not to be offended).

Me: Yes, I am. Can I help you?

Woman: I'm here to replace your computer.

Me: Really? (because no one had mentioned anything about this to me) Awesome! (scrambles to close e-mail and programs so the process can begin).

Woman: Tell me what programs you use.

Me: Umm...SRI, SAM, Novell, and Microsoft Office. Nothing fancy. Oh, and Read-About.

Woman: Do your students use Read-About on your computer?

Me: Yeah, sometimes they do, because our student computer doesn't work. It takes like 38 minutes just to start up, and then it won't let you access any programs once you're logged in.

Woman: Well, your old computer is actually going to become the student computer. We are taking out your current student computer. 

Me: So, essentially, I am getting two new computers?

Woman: If you want to think about it like that.

Me: Cool. This is so great.

Woman: I'm also going to wipe off all the things you don't use so everything will run much faster.

Me: Fantastic.

I meet with students and start teaching while helpful-tech-lady dismantles everything, cleans it, and then sets up my new computer at my desk. She also moves my old computer over to the student computer area and sets it up. It actually works.

One hour passes, I take my students to PE and then come back. I test everything out. It's awesome. And she also repaired Class XP, so I can actually access SASI now to look up student phone numbers and information.

Spent some time on Friday selecting a new background, screen saver for student computer (C6 Students Rock), and uploading Mavis Beacon typing program onto student computer because now it has enough memory to support such a thing. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dusty's Cupcakes

Amy Sedaris, cup cakes, rabbits, computers. How could it get better?

Monday, March 8, 2010

He's getting married

Oh my gatos they would air Jason and Molly's wedding on ABC. And even though I was really good about not watching the recent season of The Bachelor with Jake (didn't watch any episodes, didn't google news it, didn't read blogs about it, etc), I so totally have to watch Jason tie the knot. Even if he was an ass to poor Melissa.

So once again, ABC is going to suck up my time. Two whole hours. I swear to you, this is it. No more. I better get in the shower because it starts in 28 minutes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Drive-Up Window

It was like I was thrown into the depths of the dragon's lair, the spitfire of the broiler, the screams, the heat of the flames, and then, the cool breeze of the open window.

I worked the drive through window of McDonald's.

Never thought I'd write the above sentence. But I had to. My school had a fundraiser, and since I did not participate in McTeacher's night last year, my guilt swallowed me whole, like how a ravishing man might eat a McChicken burger in one bite.

I showed up for my shift at 5 o'clock, and the place was packed, like a Styrofoam peanut in a UPS box. But I guess it should have been, considering half the school's students and their parents were there. I just opened the staff door and went behind the counter. Nobody asked who I was. Within five minutes I was yelling out names with the gusto of a circus ringmaster. Here's your fries, here's your shake, here's your single serving of chicken nuggets, your double cheeseburger, and your triple bi-pass ticket. Here's 650 mg of sodium and 274 fat calories. Here's a bunch of mashed cow bits shaped into a patty.

Then who appeared to be the manager walked up to me and said, "do you feel comfortable asking for money?" I eyed him suspiciously and then said, "what do I have to do?" feeling a bit dirty. But to hell with everything, right? I'm working behind the counter of McDonald's for god's sake.

I follow him into the pit. Where the truth is being microwaved and the lies are being shoved into a paper sack with a happy face on it. He explained how I would stand at the window where people paid and ask them if they wanted to make a donation. If they did, I'd write their name on a little flier saying they contributed. Easy enough. I stood next to Bea, the drive through girl wearing the headset. I plastered on a smile and was ready to hit up anybody who drove by.

You never knew who to expect. It might be a cheerful mom type who gladly donated, or maybe it would be a man with five teeth and a long orange beard. Maybe it'd be a muscle man wearing headphones while driving, and you'd have to repeat the question because he couldn't hear you. Perhaps it'd be a blond high school girl, or a skater boy who just wanted his McFlurry. Whoever it was, I asked them all. I mentally kept track in my head of how much I made in direct donations, and after standing at the window for 40 minutes, I raked in about 65 bucks.

While I was standing there, though, waiting for the next car, I started looking around. I read all the little secret notes McDonald's writes to its employees, like how they should never say "Is that all?" but instead should suggest another purchase. When someone asks for a shake, they are supposed to respond "is that a large chocolate shake?" I read about how you shouldn't make the customer wait, and instead you need to put the money on top of the register and give them their change ASAP, and then log in the exchange after they drive up to the next window to pick up their food. I saw nuggets coming out of giant plastic bags, and buns coming out of toasters like clockwork.

When my shift was over, I ran to my car in the opposite parking lot, hit the gas, and didn't look back.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Saturday Binge

Tomorrow I am eating anything I want. Specifically, french toast for breakfast, pizza for lunch, possibly fried rice for dinner, and some Ben and Jerry's fish food ice cream if I can get my hands on some. It's all part of my new diet. No, really.

My roommate Natalie and I are embarking on a journey to "get cut." Haha, the old me would think, because I eat chocolate and bread everyday of the week. As part of our high protein plan, the sugar and white carbs really needed to go. I'll be honest, I basically ate pasta every day for lunch. And not the home made kind, the frozen box kind with high sodium.

I know for sure Natalie is lifting and pressing and squatting more than me at this point, and we are taking a similar but varied approach in eating. Like, she forced me to buy and eat cottage cheese. Okay. So I lie. She totally didn't. She showed me how much protein was in it, and since I had no idea what I was going to be eating for breakfast on this plan of no bagels or cereal, I had to do something. I bought some and made myself eat it. Boy, I tell you, it worked. I ate it every morning for breakfast, and it really curbed my need for a morning snack. I'm not sure if this is because of the high protein, or because I was still feeling nauseous from swallowing the stuff down at such an early hour. I'm trying the same thing again next week, only I'm going to pretend like I like it.

I am semi-mostly following the diet plan of lifestyle design god Tim Ferris, who has a blog which he so cleverly titled The Blog of Tim Ferriss. For the nitty gritty details, you can read his meal plan post. And here is a link to all his body related posts. In short summary, this is what I am forcing myself to eat:

Instead of yogurt and a bagel for breakfast, cottage cheese and a bit of fruit.
Instead of a granola bar for a morning snack (which, btw, had more sugar than a rice crispy treat), some peanut butter.
Instead of yogurt, a fruit cup and a frozen microwaveable dinner compliments of Smart Ones, I am actually packing vegetables in my lunch, eating a lot of black beans and soy products, and mozzarella cheese.
Also, a lot of eggs.

In short, torture, really. No chocolate. No sugar. Blah. No really. Like, it hurts. Like, I stare into my cupboard and think "What the %&#@ am I going to eat?"

But there's this catch. You get to eat whatever you want on one day. It actually is supposed to trick your metabolism or whatever. Who knows if it really works. But I figured I'd try it for a month.

So you know, I'll let you know if I get ripped.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If I had it my way

This is what my work day would look like:

8:30 wake up
9:30 start work in my home office
9:31 check vital e-mails because that's important
9:40 read fan mail e-mail, because of course I'd get loads
9:55 work on drafting a novel
11:00 take a ten minute break to go pee and eat a snack, because a lot of people actually get breaks during their work day, not just a 20 minute lunch
11:10 do some research for whatever it is I'm writing about
11:40 draft some more on novel
12:00 read some of my favorite books for inspiration
1:00 eat lunch and mull over what I just read
1:30 be inspired and write some more
2:30 lay on couch and day dream, because that's where a lot of my ideas come from--making up scenarios in my head
3:30 jot down ideas
3:45 work on a short story, drafting or revising or editing
4:45 work on submissions (cover letters, going to the post office to mail things, inquiry letters, etc)
5:45 eat dinner and do whatever I want
9:00 ish write a blog post

Notice I would still work over 8 hours, because there is a lot to do, even if you're not a teacher.

I really need to work to actualize this dream. Because it sure sounds a whole heck of a lot better than what I did today.
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