Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snowflakes Make Lovely Accessories

This picture tells a beautiful story: of the sheer beauty, and improbable miracle moments, in the world we share.

...I guess it is a good thing I didn't scrape the ice off of my windshield this morning!

If I Were a Kid...I'd Already Have a Hummer!

I cannot in good conscience say that I would like to be a kid again. But I think about it.
Adult Barbie Salutes
My Logic

I think about it at Christmas. And no, not because I want to go back to the days where I got more presents. My parents are perpetually generous in that way, and I have been fortunate to never be without on Christmas morning. It is about the awe of discovering a new “toy.”
Despite my frequent complaints about the difficulties of being an adult, I adore so many of the freedoms that age has provided. I have gone through the pains of learning patience, and curbed my need for instant gratification (mothers call the final stage of resignation “maturity”). But one of the perks of adulthood, is the earned ability to revert back to our need for instant gratification whenever possible.
For example, I can do laundry at 2 AM in a panic because I just “have” to have that skirt clean before seeing handsome-guy-at-the-store tomorrow. No waiting for Mom’s traditional laundry day. I need it, I wash it, I pay the water bill and never complain about the “waste” of a small load size.
OR, in a more practical sense, I have the benefit of mobility as an adult. I have a new car—no she has not yet been lauded in the blog—but every little detail of that painfully-purchased symbol of adulthood makes me smile. I drive when I need to escape. I get in my lovely little Hyundai and cruise. Music pumping, street lights morph into tree lines, and I lose myself in the rhythm of the tapping my hands to the wheel in time to the music. It is the single most enjoyable thing you can do by yourself...remember, Santa is watching. Keep your thoughts pure guys…
Adulthood is worth it: I’ll take the career woes! Dead End Dating? Fine, I can conquer that too! Bills? No problem! I’ll make a spreadsheet.
And then, I go to Toys R Us.
I can’t even be angry at the semi-spoiled children  for their endless options: frankly, I still sort of want the Holiday Debbie Harry Barbie for 2011. I mean look at her!
"I make Barbie look like a steam punk."

Hybrid Hummer...WOW.

I would have never been able to choose.

But honestly, I love Christmas shopping—probably too much. Walking through the Toy Store inspires the same level of awe in me that it did as a child. Things are different: the technology/gaming department was half the size in my day as it is today. The Disney toys weren’t quite and gender neutral (i.e. Cars) as they are today. The most “universal” gift you would find in my day was a bike, or swing set, or maybe a walkie talkie. Man, Sisterita and I LOVED our walkie talkies.
There is something great about watching children discover the world around them through new toys, all while we usher in new family traditions and memories. And the children aren’t even aware it is happening at the time. When it comes down to it, I appreciate that our world has made it possible for children to learn and explore through so many different avenues: every sense is employed in today’s “playtime." The next generation will know how to: drive a Hummer, take for granted the GPS, kick my butt in Guitar Hero, all while subconsciously registering the impact that the band Blondie had on fashion and modern musical expression. Being a kid today...sounds way harder than being an adult. But I still want to play in the aisles! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Santa Baby...I want some Chalkboard Paint!

Today's post is brought to you out of absurdity. And tradition. Mostly absurdity.
You know how it is: you visit friends, speech gets twisted, things are said out of context, you say something horribly embarrassing and off color and it haunts you for a year. Which of course means your friends also coined some ridiculous phrases, but  YOU don't remember them. Why? Why so unprepared! I have a solution!

Need to write something down? Do it on the WALL!

Yeah, yeah. Quote boards are popular, and part of the tradition I mentioned earlier. I once bought a poster board on day #1 of a 2 week trip to Minnesota, and by the end we were cramming things to fit on there. Accidental innuendos spurred on by pulling all-night talk sessions ::cough, cough:: or wine....Anyways, it has since been laminated and is living in someone's closet. For a reunion maybe. Where we will laugh at ourselves. I heartily recommend the practice.

Well, fabulously creative phrases, and accidents, and sometimes poor comebacks just seem to "POOF!" into existence in my house. And I need a quote board. I know, "Don't you have an expo board for that!? I mean you are obsessed!" Well, no. Because, by definition Expo-topia is organized. And my quote wall should be anything but. ::petulantly sticks out her tongue::

When Sisterita and I were kids, my DAD actually brought home a 4x6 ft chalkboard. Sisterita loved it. I think she still laments its loss in the house sale. My point is, I got curious and decided to look into buying a chalkboard for capturing the quotes and fun and silly sayings! But...I discovered CHALKBOARD PAINT. The flexibility! The options! The stylish nature of it! I mean LOOK what I found!

Have a new obsession with Greek architecture? DONE.
Want to let your dinner party know the menu for the evening? Hell, they could rate it! 

Or, if you are a vampire and can't abide mirrors?
What if you have your own Wilson, you know from Home Improvement?
 Only your neighbor is mute. And mysterious... Probably anti-hero seductive. Well, now he can leave you notes. On the fence. In a gloomier garden, of course. More wild ivy, less sandalwood furniture.

The one I couldn't find: the one by the "facilities." I mean, how much easier would like for dive bar owners be if they painted stalls with chalk paint that they could wash, vs replacing metal doors vandalized by drunken, vindictive exes? You know I am right. I should invent that.

So, Santa...how about some Chalkboard Paint? I have been downright noble this year. Let's make it happen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Working Woman's Woes: Mentors

Feel like a post straight out of left field? Read the Overview here like a good reader! 

Best advice I was ever given: find a mentor. It isn't easy. I have not perfected the art by any means, and I wish I could have started at 17. Still, I have discussed the matter at length with friends all across the nation (and world), each in different professions. The need for a mentor never fluctuated in any of those situations. In several cases, the mentor presence made the difference between promotion at the 1 or 3 year mark. Same college pedigrees, same GPA profiles, similar college internships, often obsessive work ethics, similar corporate/non-profit cultures and still...different promotional timelines.

Seeking out that one great sounding board can be difficult for complicated reasons. There is the personality compatibility factor: you will not have success if you fail to identify with the person. There is the timing factor: sometimes there just isn't time to find one! We are busy proving ourselves! But find on you should. End of story.

Also, let us not forget the hard truth that not every industry has continuity: someone in hospitality can learn best practices for customer relations and apply them 80% of the time, while someone in public relations needs a mentor familiar with the regional and social markets that he/she is working in. Even more daunting, is the speed at which our communications are changing with the advent of social media. We may have constant access to knowledge, and the ability to share events and information, but there is still an etiquette of professionalism that applies to everyone...unless you are Perez Hilton. In which case, just stop reading. No, really. STOP.

"Would You Be My Mentor?"  

Initiating the conversation that leads to the non-verbal "yes, I will be your mentor" should not be nerve racking. You do not have to deliver an evite equivalent to the "Be Mine" hearts of February. I mean you are not approaching anyone for a date. And if you are (mainly the sisters out there) you should seriously reconsider your intentions! Rejection should not be the greatest fear in this case. If you just don't know where to begin, try this:
  • Build a list of people whose work you respect, perhaps they are co-workers or superiors, but they might also be at another firm or organization. They might be in another career field.
  • Use networking events for easy initial meetings, or leverage your personal and professional relationships to score a one-on-one introduction.
  • Do not barrage anyone with 21 questions about work mere moments after learning his or her name; sometimes the most important lessons are in the personal details of someone's story. I.E. Why this area to work? Where was their start? So, listen. Find personal commonalities, like hiking or restaurants. The thing to remember is that GENUINE interactions should always be valued. You may be on an active search for a mentor, but you are also looking for a friend in this professional Yoda character.
  • Never underestimate the value of your friends and family; sometimes, they can identify more readily than you why an obstacle at work is standing in your way. After all, they are stuck with your personal and professional eccentricities. 
"I Got an Email BACK! Now what?"

Professional courtesy dictates that you be the available one, as you are the one who needs something. Be patient. Do coffee whenever possible. Keep in touch with emails, or whatever mode of communication is best suited to the person you feel you can learn from. The reality is, unless you are the incorrigible Jeremy Piven on Entourage, most colleagues want to foster new talent in their field. That said, those professionals have lives outside of their careers: they paid their dues, found their niches, and deserve to ignore you during an 8 week period in the summer. Use that time to beef up your resume, or hell, improve your golf game. Something!

The key to making the most of a mentor relationship is to be appreciative of any advice or time you are given. And to maintain (a non obsessive level of) contact. Learn what you can. Life will always be the best teacher, so you are going to figure out just what not to say to the client whose marketing account you are courting the hard way. It is going to happen: you will make a mistake and have no one to blame but yourself. The beauty is that your mentor will help out once you have made the faux pas, since more than likely, he or she can tell you how to pick yourself up and move on...or, if you are lucky, just how to fix it.

One last thing: never presume to use the advice or connections of your mentor without permission. You have been given a gift in his or her knowledge. Respect that. If your mentor is with a competing firm or agency, under no situation should you scalp their professional plans. I have seen it ruin careers and reputations. Do NOT do it. Success almost always follows the ambitious, but respect in your professional circle follows integrity.

When One Person Is Not Enough~

I mentioned earlier that sometimes a field is complex. How can an architect, or construction site manager, do his job without knowledge of the topography, current technologies available, or personality of the target audience or construction crew? Well, I never said you should stop at one mentor. You didn't stop at Psychology 101 did you, Mr. Psychiatrist?  No, I didn't think so!

Lists! (You know I love those.) What what help you? If you are in media, maybe you need to have a seasoned journalist in your friend set...but would it hurt to have someone who can walk you through the ins and outs of the local industry issues? After all, if presenting a sensitive labor issue how do you navigate relationships between plant managers and the unions without alienating either? Or maybe a situation calls for some marketing expertise: if you are writing a column or preparing a human interest piece, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have someone advise you on the way to brand a story, pictorially and semantically

Ultimately, the community or market that you are working in has a personality. It has quirks, preferences, a type of audience. They all affect your professional success, and a mentor is able to share the tips and experiences that helped him or her assimilate and prosper. 

Build a network of confidantes around yourself that will allow you to serve your employer first, development your career second, and serve your community always

Feel like a post straight out of left field? Read the Overview here like a good reader! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Working Woman's Woes: An Overview

Why Such a Serious Series?!
Melanie, I feel your working woes.
But I don't endorse the cigarette.
After recognizing just how often my friends and I debate career matters, it became obvious that  a "how to get by when getting by is unforeseeable" series just might be in order. Eh voila. This career thing was born.
This is potentially the most sensitive topical area that the blog will ever cover: the workplace. Yes, I know. Some might argue that relationships are more dangerous to speculate online about, but Sex and the City removed any concessions for privacy in that arena. Tweens now sit around and discuss the proper way of "dumping a boyfriend"; i.e. "can you text him if you have only hung out twice?". Or if you are older (mature? debatable...) the questions are more suited to general romantic rules, such as "under no situation should you buy pets together", or "do not forget a birthday, no matter HOW much he/she protests a celebration."
No instead, I tackle relevant workplace generalities. We should be sharing the pain of career development, no? The scenarios from which these lessons are taken, hail from various personal experiences, those of close acquaintances, and the often-revisited "coming of age" tales of my mentors.

Some of the stories that I have learned from came to me objectively: I was data mining, and asked specific questions or advice about specific situations. Other stories that corroborate some of my soon-to-be-shared claims came from a more "informal" manner. Translation: wine and food opened the venting flood gates in college, during unemployment (the wine was of a lesser caliber then), and while holding the long vied for career positions. Years of informal research! Friend sharing over meals just tends to happen--and can be a grand source for vicarious learning! And all of my research leads me to highlight the following commonalities of career development:
  1. Mentors: Get one. 
  2. Navigating buy outs, mergers, and restructures.
  3. Navigating sudden increases in work load. When there might not be an end in sight.
  4. Navigating dress, drama and the deadly gossip chain.
  5. Networking is not socializing. It just looks like it. 
  6. Bills, bills, bills.  Yes, you have to pay them. On your own.
All of the issues above are important to me and to my friend set. So, I can only assume they bear some degree of relevancy for a professional class still working their way toward the "10 years in the field" mark. In my first installment, and in what is sure to be a revisited topic, I will be addressing Mentors. I can only hope that something will be useful, or at the very least, foster some conversation with whoever is reading this verbose little blog!

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Navigating...ack, what AREN'T we navigating? Part I

    The following scenarios are real. They happened. In this order. Some are ongoing. Bah, stupid twenties.

    Property Manager is Missing in Action
    You might recall the previous blog post about our fire-storm escapades. Well, during that rather tense moment standing on the sidewalk and watching the firemen storm through the house, we were educated on kitchen safety. By which I simply mean, our oven is dangerous. And not working. To catch you up, Gentle Reader, about one month after moving in we had some difficulty with the heating element. After about 4 attempts over two weeks to get a response, the property manager finally called the property owner and the element was replaced. That lasted...one day. It all came crashing to a halt when we realized that not only had the owner deliberately replaced the element and left the unit unplugged, but that the oven wouldn't STOP heating. ::sigh::

    Fast forward 4 weeks: between Sisterita and myself, 6 aggressive emails and countless phone calls to every imaginable source had been completed. No word. Not from the property manager. We had no way to reach the owner. Dining out was getting expensive. And with the temperatures dropping, cold salad every night was not cutting it. At that point, we sent a nasty correspondence. I mean aggressive: demanding fixed equipment or back compensation for the 5 weeks of incurred dining bills. Not a proud moment, but it was a HELPLESS feeling 

    When I finally reached the manager's wife, it was to discover that he was out of the country. 
    On a mission's trip. Serving humanity. 

    At what point are we allowed to be self-centered and rate our kitchen needs higher than that of mankind?

    Mowing. Muscles. Mayhem.
    Little to say: one of us (what is the point at utter humiliation?) tried to start the push mower. The pulley got caught, wrenched back, and caused some very serious tearing in the muscle region. Minor panic ensued after a short call to Dr. Dad hinted at orthopedic surgery. Fortunately, that passed. But we were down one dominant arm.

    Two days after the pain and agony of trying to set up internet and cable (moving on up!), we had a minor setback. One day we woke up (cold, not able to make breakfast) and both laptops were dead. One personal, one belonging to the workplace.
    It took two days to figure out, but apparently both power converters were fried during a power outage. Some semblance of order has since been restored. Post 5 days with limited technology access.

    Frost Bitten
    It is 34 degrees outside. Coats have been pulled from the abyss of boxes. Sisterita and I have fought the necessity of finding windshield scrapers. Satin shoes have been put away, and boots have been pulled out. All of this is trivial compared to the real problem: it is 34 degrees and we have no heat. None.

    Apparently, we missed the memo that we have a dual electric/gas heating. So, with several appointments with the gas company made, missed, rescheduled and anxiously anticipated, we did they only thing we could: we put on hoodies and wrapped ourselves into a single multi-blanket cocoon on the couch.

    Disheartened over being successful 20 somethings with no heat, we were in emotional turmoil. The obvious answer was to have bowls of ice cream to numb our "pain".
    While shivering.
    Wrapped in quilts.
    The coup d'etat, the final blow to dignity, came abruptly when Sisterita yelled, "These sprinkles are the only things that make me happy anymore!" ::commence hysterical, dramatic giggles::

    And then we ran out of sprinkles. And the tenuous grip on sanity was broken. No system is perfect. 

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Oh to "Big Rock Candy Mountain"!

    New adventures! I might not be able to leap from a high travel bridge and bungee jump (not for lack of trying), but I can discover open air trains in the wilds of West Virginia!

    Don't laugh. It's a commitment people.

    In the charming town of Cass, West Virginia, time seems to have slowed. Not stopped exactly, but moving with the sort of lethargy and contented quiet found only at historical landmarks and inside quaint little museums. I offer as an example the home of Earnest Hemingway in Key West. But with fewer felines. Or perhaps the lighthouse museums of the Chesapeake Bay area.  But with fewer sea gulls (thank goodness! hate those things). Or any other little topical structure that shares stone/ivy/assorted greenery creeping up its stone steps and wooden lattice work.

    The object of the day trip to Cass is very simple: you are there to take a nice little open air train ride. Simply walk into the recreated train depot, chat briefly with the costumed attendant, wait for the whistles to sound, and climb on board the open air cabins for a little coal-engine trek through the woods. And if you are a member of my family, a.k.a. very very friendly, you befriend the adorable sister-brother twin toddlers peeking through the wooden slats as the tracks rush beneath our feet. And you might also feel compelled to learn the life story of the quiet Park Ranger assigned to your caboose. Who, as it turns out, is a native of the area and very knowledgeable about logging camps (even if he knows nothing about trains).

    Granny, Mom, Aunt Connie and I were very excited. Despite the fact that I was on one of those senior bus tours (Abbott Tours, thank you for my name tag), and that our trip was sure to be a fast one, I was ready! Trains! Let's get into character!

    Purchase conductor's hat. Check.
    Bring licorice and coffee onto the train for sharing. Check.
    Keep your ticket handy. Check....we wouldn't want to be "off boarded", now would we?
    Offer seat to kind grandparents with the twin toddler set. Check.
    Check your pocket watch for the time as the whistles blows.
    ...........ok, I forgot that accessory...

    I also forgot thermal underwear. It was FREEZING. By the time we made it up the mountain, with the train backing its way up and Mom and I breaking the wind from our perch on the caboose, I was a pop sickle. And not cherry flavored. I was one of those Americana striped ones that has melted and then been refrozen, sticking to the paper in uneven, oddly colored clumps: I walked as if my knees were locked, my legs were gnarly branches, and my teeth chattered in time with the whistle blowing. Unattractive, I assure you. But I kept on talking to strangers!

    All in all it was worth the cold: not only do I think that the quaint little town (it had a numbered map showing were the loggers lodged, where the post office was, etc.) was picturesque, but I befriended every Park Ranger on that train. The best of which let me, through some very persuasive wheedling, to climb over the railings with Mom's camera and capture some footage of an approaching train in the "switchback."

    For those of you who aren't familiar with this term, it is a clever and simple section of track that is laid to avoid trains circling around a mountain in its attempt to ascend. We simply trekked along an extra 1000 ft of track, laid in a large Y fashion with the left fork descending and the right ascending the mountain, and reversed course. We paused in our descent to allow for an oncoming train to use the Y in wait, and allow us room to pass. It was curious. I wouldn't want to be the one who had to manually operate the "switch" on the ground. Apparently, they get left behind once a week. And, much as I enjoyed the day, West Virginia is not my future home!

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Burning Down the House

    I have a GREAT one for you today. So many other cute little episodes are in the running for publishing, but this one…well, this one takes Humiliation and Error to new heights in the sister household.

    Sunday afternoon started a bit lazy; dinner with Dad and some Viking football in the background. A small turkey taco dinner, followed by a whirlwind cleaning spree and yard mowing frenzy. Very Sunday-esque. Very calm. Almost boring, but exactly what the doctor ordered.

    [Insert the increasingly predictable twist].

    But as I was contemplating the daring idea of a facial mask, a strange thing happened: my nose started twitching. My knees got a little bit weak, and for some reason an alarm started sounding in my head. If I were the Oracle of Delphi, and you were the pilgrim on a mission, then we would both be feeling the stirrings of some horrible news on the horizon (imagine Oedipus and his family’s misfortunes…). Yes, that serious ladies and gents.

    I have not been around fire very often. In fact, my only incident outside of a way word tea light candle was a rather explosive gasoline fueled bonfire—which ended very badly. SOn this particular occasion I smelled something like “electrical fire.” Honestly, I am not even sure how I know what that smells like, but I do. Sisterita and I descended the stairs with growing alarm. Wrapped in a towel, with wet hair, and my companion still covered in grass clippings, things were a little chaotic. We ran from outlet to outlet. Checked the air conditioning unit. Looked for smoke. Unplugged every wire we could find. Turned off the lights and flipped the breakers. Even checked the lawn mower quietly resting outside from his backbreaking work of cutting down an inch of greenery.

    No smoke. No fire. No explanations.
    But the smell wafted through the hallway like a 90 year old’s over-used Red Door. 
    It. Just. Would. Not. Leave.

    So, we convinced ourselves it was a fluke. Something wafting through the vents but coming from the neighboring duplex. Life returned to normal. For 20 minutes.

    After 20 minutes, I headed to ask the neighbors if something was up. Maybe they were burning microphone cords? I would have settled for the most bizarre of explanations—anything to convince me that our house was not, in fact, burning from inside of the walls. Nothing. Very obvious confusion. So, I did what anyone would do… I begged for advice on Facebook?

    Yes, I admit it: not my brightest idea. Especially when the ensuing advice put us more on edge. Finally, through a series of very logical suggestions, we decided to call 911.The municipality that I am currently living in has EXCELLENT response time. Sisterita and I were prepared for a landscape of serious civil servants and no nonsense. But, oh Gentle Reader! We could not have known. One minute we were standing outside talking to a police officer and the next we were surrounded.

    Seven emergency vehicles responded.

    Sirens BLARED, lights whirled, as we struggled to decide whether the humiliation or the prospect of a serious electrical fire was worse. The EMTs were at the ready with a gurney…because I apparently gave the dispatcher the impression that there were charred limbs to be treated?!

    Heavily protected men stomped into the house. Rubberneckers looked on—and we ALL know they were hoping the house went up in flames, as then something would have actually happened in our quaint, sleepy little town.

    Five minutes pass. Radio static.
    Ten minutes pass. We get a few more questions, i.e. “Basement? Um, no.”
    Fifteen minutes pass by. At this point, I have had time to take stock of our appearance. Still with wet hair, Sisterita was channeling some Eddie Vetter jeans-and-comfy-flannel style, and I ended up in gold, sparkle ballet flats looking like a drowned rat. We could not have appeared more clueless if we had tried. When the trio of seasoned firefighters finally emerged, there was a sense of relief (both because soon we might finally solve the riddle and hide behind closed doors).

    Wait…he was carrying something! Something was found! We were not crazy! Yes! Justified call to the noble 911 line! ::fist pump::

    And then he showed us this:


    Apparently, the plastic fell onto the heating coils in the dishwasher. So, we have melting and flame repeatedly put OUT by the water of the dishwasher. We also learned that our stove is a danger to all mankind and we should look into that. Um, ok…Sisterita actually contemplated killing me for calling. I know it.

    The kind firemen were incredibly tolerant and understanding: they maintained that residents should always err on the side of caution in situations like these. In fact, entire HOUSES have gone up in flame over a dishwasher! But, the full weight of our folly came raining down with one final, kindly meant inquiry:

    "So, are you girls students at the college?"
     Um, no sir. We are grown women. We just cannot operate dishwashers. Thanks. Please take the sirens and go. 

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Recipe for Recovery: Overcoming the Funk

    I am not sure how most people deal with, what I call, the "uninspired" periods. 

    Most of the time, I tolerate very little negativity or excuses for inactivity. But every now and then the funk creeps in. You know...when everything is going wrong, but in such rapid succession that the final straw is when ::gasp!:: your bobby pin falls down the sink drain!

    Or you can't get the CD player to work.
    Or you forget to check the mail.
    Or you discover that TBS isn't going to play a Gary Marshall film, and your weekend plans are derailed.
    Or you realize that you need to retie your shoelaces. Because, well, they aren't tied anymore?!
    Or your phone rings and it is a telemarketer. Not your future spouse. Not your future dream boss. Not even the local radio station telling you that you have won lifetime tickets to see any artist of your choosing. 
    Or you can't find a pen. Or you find one but want a pencil.
    Or you just get irritated that there are people in the world breathing YOUR air!

    And for any or all of these reasons, you immediately decide that you might as well buy 26 cats and start clipping coupons in an attempt to distract yourself from the failures of life. I mean, isn't that the obvious next step? Yes, very dramatic. Quite possibly very unstable. But everyone has that day and at least once a year.  

    I combat this phenomenon in the most simple way you can imagine. I revert to teenage me activities and go back to an inspired time!
    A:I start reading through all of my favorite novels from high school (890 pg in 3 days!). B: I start watching favorite film clips on Youtube (during my reading breaks). C: Generally, I also start planning European vacations. D: I begin practicing French sporadically and with gusto! E: Maroon 5 and KT Tunstall begin a repeat performance pattern on my iPod.
    Recipe for Battling Malaise & Apathy (a.k.a.What I have been doing the last 3 days...)

    A        Archangel - My single exception to the no-sci fy rule! I can't help it!
    B       I have rediscovered pirate treasure in The Goonies and relearned Ariel's "Ode to Hoarding" song.
    C       I have charted trains and hostels through Prague, Budapest and Berlin. Must learn German...
    D       Francophones and anglophiles please treat yourself to Mr. Eddie Izzard's brilliance HERE!
    E       I now constantly hum "Sunday Morning", which really IS an amazing song. ::sigh::

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Metafiction & gChat

    One of my typical (no really) gChat conversations ~

    Friend:  dude g'day!!
    Me:  alllo!!! I was so about to send you an email; metafiction ring a bell?
    Friend:  vaguely
    Me:  I question its definition...broadest set of criteria ever, with the most convoluted definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metafiction. How can strains of Chaucer be present in Vonnegut? Or Stephen King's Secret Window?
    Friend:  yeahhhh...so!  fun story!
    Me:  More than that, how can such a label exist, refuse to assert itself as a criticism style, and yet NOT allow itself to be read through the lens of another style?
    Oh. You aren't interested.
    where is my dorky friend when I need her? hahaha
    story! go!
    Really. Why do people put up with me?
    In the end, the non-chatting Third Party that had originally asked me about the phenom known as "metafiction" really just wanted me to comment, and then use my piqued interest to share this picture. So, I'm guessing she didn't really care about metafiction either???

    Hot Professor Michael, of the Neon Nation 80s Band
    Photo courtesy of Neon Nation: The Ultimate Live 80s Experience
    Oh, and Third Part Friend probably did also care about metafiction...but the story was better if she didn't. ;)

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Brain Explosion

    I really don't have much to say. Two things really:

    For some inexplicable reason I find myself wanting to have dinner and chat with Piers Morgan. Because, well, why not? There has to be something interesting to uncover in that head of his.

    And, while I have always hated the show "America's Got Talent" the performance by Team Illuminate just BLEW my mind. (Not a link to tonight's performance, but you will definitely see my point)

    I might have clapped. Out loud.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    To Ache or Not to Ache: A Tale of Mountains & Muscle Pain

    The Knob. Elevation 3100+
     I. Love. Hiking.

    Virginia is too beautiful not to enjoy every season outdoors. Spring is full of honseysuckle and birdsong. Summer is lesson in adventure and fragrant foods on the grill. Winter carries a pristine costume of snow and stillness. And Fall. Well, Fall is fiery, alive, and in a state of rebellion against all of the other seasons. It just wants to be special and incomparable. It usually succeeds. Ok, enough of the over-the-top embellishments.

    While Virginia is not yet in a fall state of mind, the weather has recently been quite confused. I do not know if I should be blaming freak weather patterns, or accept the mild temperatures as a grand gift! But I plan to take advantage of any accidental "cool and breezy" summer days that happen by. And so, we hiked McAffee's Knob.

    8.4 miles of incline and brush. Countless dogs greeting us as parties made their way past. Chirping birds. The constant fear of snakes. Ah! Exhilarating!

    But aside from that feeling of victory you have when you climb that last rise, or push past that ache in your calves, there are the people. Hikers are friendly. They are the closest "kin" to the backpackers making their way across Europe that I have encountered stateside. A few factors are probably to blame:
    1. Endorphins a happy hiker makes. Who is going to be truly grumpy (short of having fallen and broken something) on a simple day hike? Energies are high, and everyone is predisposed to be pleasant.
    2. We are in God country. How can you climb a rise and not feel a sense of awe at the creative power displayed in the wilds? Every leaf you pass is unique, and every rock you step over has been trampled by generations of other adventurers. We are all connected in that miracle of existence and shared panorama.
    3. I am usually directing a 160 WATT smile at everyone I pass. More than likely, I am scaring every stranger into compliance with my facial insistence so that they return my addresses. I smile at you, and you smile back. If you don't...well, we are  in the wilderness. It might take the authorities a while to find you. I'm just sayin'.... [note: this is meant with all attempts at histrionics and jest!]
    So, there you have it. My theory on hiking friendliness. I can not even begin to comment on hiking etiquette: like, should we feel badly that we don't wear "toe shoes"? Or did that elderly woman get irritated that we passed her on the first summit (when she quite purposely raced us for the front slot)? OR, even though the party descending should be the ones to step aside and let others pass, HOW do you navigate the trickery that is the slit party of XX kids?!

    Now, for my list of approved hiking provisions and activities (for the descent):
    • Slim Fast bars (surprisingly perfect if you can't get your hands on some Chip or LARAbars)
    • A spare pair of sunglasses...for those mishaps.
    • A horribly harmonized rendition of "Last Kiss" (imitating Pearl Jam, of course)
    • Some in-the-moment dance creations for various occurrences; i.e., my legs hurt, so do the wobbily wobbily knees move
    But most importantly, you need a great hiking partner.* Mine was fantastic. Was our ascent at an adequate pace? Well, yes. Did she pack the perfect amount of water? Absolutely. But I am referencing neither of those top assets. No, my partner was entertaining.

    The Summit, aka Lion King Rock
     Example #1: Brief tripping move on the way down so startled her that she gasped, flailed her arms, and screeched for someone to, "Hold Me!!!!" Shaken by poor footing, she nearly tore my right arm from its moorings (...because, well, don't you compare your arm to a ship?). And all in full view of passer-bys.  ::sigh:: A-mazing.

    Example #2: EPIC. Not only does she question the usefulness of small dogs, but she continually makes fun of me for once admiring a mix-breed Yorki-Poo. But on this trip, a small white fluff ball excited her--maybe it was the endorphin rush, or maybe it was the post-high of seeing the summit--and so she inexplicably and joyfully yelled, "Yorki Poo!!!" and started mock-jogging down the ridge. Until......

    Arms rush to protect her face in a futile last-minute move.
    A body crashes into large tree, failing to bounce off in jog-halting contact.
    The body then ricochets off the tree and butt-plants on a large, limestone rock face.

    Yes, yes I do love hiking.

    *I am taking reservations for the described hiking partner. She is an excellent companion and will add enjoyment to any family outing. She is both well versed in mountain slang (for those Yanks that think we talk funny down here), and frequently shouts little messages of encouragement, "You are awesome. And we are climbing a mountain. Yeah! And we are awwwwesome!" As she (and I) are both nursing sore quads and rock scrapes, she will not be available until early Fall--please arrange your requests for her involvement in your next outing accordingly.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Don't Bet on Philip Seymour Hoffman

    "I own every soundtrack EVER made! Mwua-haha!"
    I believe that any movie, regardless of its plot lines or the quality of acting, can be tolerated or celebrated if there is an intriguing soundtrack. Among the  universally acknowledged  "great" or "generation defining" films, I doubt many people will disagree.

    Look at Forrest Gump--I would categorize this as one of the "greats". It is brilliant period film, with good acting, eccentric and impossible characters, and yet what most people love are not those very "critically hailed" qualities*, but the grand scenes accompanied by music; Forrest runs across the nation to "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne, Jenny perches dangerously on the edge of her hotel balcony to Skynrd's southern anthem "Freebird", CCR's "Fortunate Son" growls and strains as the helicopter lands Forrest and Bubba in the Vietnamese landscape.  So many memories for the viewing audience! I anticipate the music and the moments every time I watch it, even getting mildly upset if I ralize I have missed one of my favorite transitional music moments.

    *[Ok, and we also love the one liners delivered earnestly by Forrest, with that adorable charm that only Tom Hanks can channel. And Lieutenant Dan! But none of this is relevant to my argument!]

    In the second category, or the "generation defining" group, I am going to pay homage to a John Hughes project: Pretty in Pink. Predictable? Well, maybe. Thought I would choose The Breakfast Club? I thought about it. But I can easily and concisely demonstrate my point with PIP. Hughes, more so in his post-mortem acclaim than ever before, has been hailed as the visionary who understood the psyche of high school youth living in 80s America. I won't speak to that--I just know that everyone of my friends who were old enough to see the film back in the day still stop on TBS when it is running! When I watch Two and a Half Men, Alan is not Alan; he is Ducky and he is seeking "Tenderness" in a small little record store, to the subject of his unrequited love. When I think 80s prom, I see Molly Ringwald and James Spader is completely different scenarios, one terrified the other brooding, as OMD's "If You Leave" strikes its infectious melody. So, there you have it--two examples of my grand point!
    ::ends with a grand flourish of gestures, fairly similar to that of a circus ringmaster::

    Examples of tolerance for the simple sake of music? Um, Anchorman? I hate that movie, but "Afternoon Delight" was a genius selection! Just as genius as the instrumental compliment to that scene in The Patriot, where Mel returns to his unit flying the American flag repaired by his recently fallen son? I struggle to admit it, but I cry everytime. Sap. Ugh.

    Disagree with everything so far? Well, then stop reading, because frankly I don't feel like addressing any comments about the soundness of my logic. This is subjective and you need not feel an obligation to agree; but that obligatory comment is now made, and I am still right. So, let's move on.

    One of my all time favorite films is Almost Famous. I can't even tell you why. Do I love faux bio-pics, and watching rock n' roll musicians engage in all their glorious shenanigans? Of course! Who doesn't?! And is Billy Crudup beautiful in the movie, despite his attempts to ugly it up with that beaver growing on his upper lip? Um, yes. Um, correction: absolutely yes. Is the writing fast, tense, witty, and the direction/cinematography nearly perfect? Yes. But all that together would only put the film in my top 20. And Jane Campion's The Piano, in which music replaces language as the primary mode of communication as well as currency (uh...a bit scandalous, fair warning), would be ranked higher. The thing that sends Almost Famous over the bar and into "fantastic" is the relationship developed between the storyline and the MUSIC. Remember the scene in which the band mates of Stillwater are fighting (yet again), and the tension on the tour bus becomes so palpable that silence seems a secondary character? Then, in spontaneity and genuine appreciation, the  groups begins to slowly harmonize the lyrics of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer"? The first time I saw that scene, I just smiled. Widely, unapologetically, and with honest sympathy--we have all been there. In the right setting, a song can change our perspective on a situation and set its tone. I saw the characters, who were so in love with the lifestyle of the musician, and fully participating in a culture of changing attitudes and inclusion within America (also, debauchery, but that is another mini-essay), as realistic. That was the only moment in the whole film, where I completely forgot about the storyline and yet somehow still felt connected with the personalities and emotions of the characters.

    Obviously, this is an easy movie to target: it is a film about musicians, caught in the process of making music, and relying on historical music tracks to supplement the story. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays an enigmatic Lester Bangs, and his love letter to rock n'roll is so earnestly delivered, you have to wonder if the actor wishes he were Lester Bangs. So, yes I am cheating. But my point stands!

    All of this is culminating in a very silly, simple observation. [What do you want from me? The disclaimer to the right TELLS you I am verbose!] I rented Pirate Radio, another film with Phillip Seymour Hoffman--the surly, hairy version...not to be confused with the Capote verison. In my head, I recognized a vibe that I thought would be similar to AF: it focused on the musical decade just before AF, and contained some very odd actors (Bill Nyhe, anyone?). I wanted to watch, enjoy some tunes, hope for something cathartic in the storyline, and just have a night in. Well...

    The soundtrack is fantastic. A perfect compliment to the tale, which follows a ship-bound radio crew of the coast of the UK, playing rock n' roll and pushing the on-air censor limits during the mid 1960s. In fact, it would be easier to count the actors' lines than it would be to count the number of songs featured. Again, easy target. A film about the genesis of rock radio made for music lovers?! This is too easy! BUT, here is the major deviation point! Are you paying attention again?! Here comes the point (you knew if you kept reading that it would show up eventually):

    This movie wasn't really good.  It didn't really hold my attention. It had some very funny moments, a la groupies and inexperienced ship mates, and when I looked up to find a Titanic-esque SINKING scene, I had to do a double take and get reinvested! Unfortunately, Hoffman, you are no DiCaprio. Or Billy Zane for that matter. But you are a hero in this one! And I cheered when [SPOILER] you made it to the surface in a rush! of waves and the roaring of various percussion instruments! Ha!

    No, what it had was good listening. I could blog, work on some plans for future internships, think about grant deadlines, think about fundraising strategies...and so on, and so forth. I was multi-tasking. And yet I never turned the film off. It was tolerable because it had such a great soundtrack. A story was being communicated without even watching the film.


    Monday, August 29, 2011

    Australians Make Bluegrass...well, that is new?

    I consider myself mildly cultured; I don't assume that stereotypes are always accurate (i.e. that people who like country ARE country), but I respect the fact that they exist for a reason. If it didn't have a high prevalence rate, then it probably wouldn't be a part of the collective set of "probable truths." An example: techies are smart. When was the last time you met someone who has attended a LAN party in his youth, and that person wasn't a competent sort of fellow? Point made.

    Back to the topic at hand: I have traveled; I have a nice array of books (stop snickering friends: understatement is necessary here!), and I think they provide some insight into the world we live in, and the diverse people and attitudes that make it up. All of this together makes me feel pretty good about myself! ::little grin of contentment:: But then, a new combination of characteristics pops up and surprises you! And it forces you to recognize how very little you can predict the ebb and flow of popular culture.

    Appreciation of Lady Gaga's Meat Dress
    Cowboy Madonna
    The phenomenon that is Dancing with the Stars
    The effects of Space Jam on an entire generation of my peers (I still have that soundtrack on tape...)
    Japanese culture's obsession with Paris Hilton

    Ok, these are admittedly very extreme examples. But they explain the "idea" of what I am getting at. Smoosh two things that you think are in direct opposition with one another together...and you get something that has some incredible lasting power. As it turns out, I was just WAY out of the loop and there is a whole culture dedicated to "newgrass". Both in the States and among the Aussies ::sheepish blush of ignorance::

    I was the very appreciative recipient of some comp tickets to see a recent performance by the Australian native band, The Greencards. They were free, it was at an adorable outdoor venue (interpret as tiny), and I thought, "Sure. I never go to concerts anymore. It could be fun! And because I am always working, let's network!" How silly of me. I was not prepared  for the musicianship that confronted me; the trio of Aussies and an American (the fiddler was MIA!) controlled their instruments with an incomparable grace and competency. Not only were the strains haunting, lively, and impossibly complex by turns, but the band members were so well synced that the impromptu "battles" between guitar and mandolin seemed a natural extension of the melodies. It wasn't until the sweat was dripping from foreheads and the mandolin player cursed at a missed chord that anyone in the audience knew that we were privy to a friendly display of competition.

    Mandolin, Kym Warner; Bass, Carol Young; Guitar, Carl Miner; Fiddle, Tylar Andal (missing)
    The venue was intimate, and so the performance was intimate. But the lead singer was a dear, and she quite literally fostered a conversation with the audience. I think the die hard supporters were actually directing the song choice at one point (but as a new listener to the progressive blue grass and observer of the band's kinetic energy, I just can't be sure). The Greencards are now independent artists; once supported by a label that helped foster their popularity, the band apparently chose to seek fan support and creative license in order to make the music they so loved. And while I cannot support the idea of a "lonely island" all of the time--after all, the desire to stand alone or defend one's territory in my professional field is the quickest way to lose a war by "attrition"--in this case, I am thrilled with their decision. Sisterita and I have listened to the album 3 times in quick succession. And when payday comes...can we say purchase plan?

    Highlights of the Brick by Brick album:
    Tale of Kangario, Loving You is the Only Way to Fly, Heart Fixer

    Help support this talented ensemble, and connect with them on Facebook or by their website.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    The Inaugural "A's & B's of Brunch"

    Let's get the requisite mention of today's grand episode out of the way--after all, I was probably the only blogger on the east coast time who skipped mentioning the 5.8 earthquake. Today, Hurricane Irene attacked the Eastern seaboard, stretching her winds and sleeting rain from Carolinas to Massachusetts. Were the skies ominous and black over our mountains? Yes. Did the mum topple from its new hanging post (we JUST bought the thing, bah!) and bust its pot? Yes. Did some rain drops "SPLAT!" their way across our car windshields. Why, yes, yes they did.

    But that did not stop life from continuing on. I PLANNED the inaugural A's & B's of Brunch! and we were going to honor it!!! Sisterita even agreed to contribute with a flourish of enthusiasm, by cooking some incredible fare! So, a stupid weather system was not going to threaten my plans. That's right Irene: you just mosey on along. Flooding? You take that right on back to the Atlantic! (But seriously, prayers for those experiencing flooding!)

    Dollar Store Flutes!!!
     Sisterita and I did not intentionally try to honor our Floridian upbringing--but I think the mimosas and self-made home fries we supplied may have inched our gathering into the realm of "a hurricane party." We didn't have Cheetos--an essential to most hurricane parties, but by that logic Mom should have been electrocuted again. And, well, I don't think I am open to the latter event...I mean can a woman have lightening come after her FOUR times in one life?!? Frankly, best pre-planned hurricane shindig I have ever been responsible for!

    [To be fair, my first attempt was my first weekend as a freshmen in the USF dorms, in the wake of Charlie and in anticipation of Ivan...and well, a third system. The name escapes me. The point is that I was armed with nothing more than goldfish, LOTS of toilet paper thanks to Mom's Sams's card, and some diet coke. Oh, and I was trapped with strangers. Yeah, it was fantastic. ]

    I had two reasons for throwing the brunch: first, because I am obsessed with cutesy, girly domestics. But we all knew that. The second was to sort of "close out" a chapter in the lives of some of my dear friends. I have never mentioned it here before, but last year I held a position as an AmeriCorps*VISTA supervisor. Well, three of the ladies recruited for that program have now finished their first full year of volunteer service. With that achievement (people, you have no idea the sacrifices the AmeriCorps volunteers, through whatever branch they serve, make in order to improve the nation. Official shout out HERE!!!), we don't rightly know what is next for everyone. So, it seemed only fitting that the inaugural brunch at Chez Sandidge double as a reunion of faces and friends. And there was the added benefit of being able to pilot our official "brunch fare" to a friendly group not prone to judgement!


    The FAMOUS, FABULOUS homefries. Sisterita is a genius. All I had to do, Gentle Reader, was monitor over and stove temperatures! Culinary brilliance....
    I think Sisterita and I had a pretty successful affair! We had some easy listening/old rock'n'roll playing on the speaker system, a veritable FEAST of food, lovely company and some sparkling mimosas. Laughter, stories, catching up. It was a pleasure! Books were even exchanged! I can't tell you if they were the highlights, but a clarinet that haven't played in about 8 years was given new life, as was our keyboard...and the afternoon culminated in the inexplicable doning of various sized hats--Kentucky-derby-worthy floppiness to a Blossom-esque feather-adorned dome top--by three complete silly ladies. We just...well...we...oh, we just liked them!

    Things we learned for the future:
    • Must find a more efficient buffet style; this is tricky, young 20-something. You need to create "flow". Now, what that is exactly, I still don't know.
    • Have the cream and sugar in small serving tins. Bah! Hostess-ing 101!
    • Have a playlist ready to roll before the guests arrive. Dur!
    • Wake up an extra 30 minutes early to get to the Farmer's Market (not because you necessarily need to buy anything, but simply because carrying that little "green friendly" shopping bag around will make you feel more accomplished about the coming event...as if it was an essential bit of multi-tasking.)
    • Do not begin pre-heating the oil too early...uncommon mistake, but in an effort to be efficient, these sorts of mishaps happen.
    • Pre-route the natural, "let's move to the living room" moment. You would think this would just happen. But sometimes you still need to make that announcement of sorts. Who knew?
    • Buy Sisterita flowers for being an awesome cook!!!
    [I feel that some of you may be disappointed that this post will in no way humiliate Sisterita or I...sorry? I am sure that we will make up for that in NO TIME.] 

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Can we say overkill?

    I realized this morning that one should never try to write when at the mercy of a migraine. Why? Well, if you count--and I did--I made 11 various literary and pop culture references in one post. ELEVEN.

    Were they related artists or topics? No. Were they even in the same artistic field? No. In one post I managed to reference the Golden Age of Hollywood (twice), indie rock music, a cartoon character symbolizing the evils of capitalistic adulthood, and a much loved children's novel. And then there were the completely random (and fairly illogical) references to Austin Powers and exploding Elizabeth Hurley robots.

    So, new plan: don't write when: a) in pain, b) taking medicine, c) after a burglary scare, or d) if you have so many literary references floating in your head that a simple reading could turn into fodder for a drinking game. i.e. Oh look! Movie reference! Take a shot. Oh look! Book reference. Start the waterfall!


    ...I couldn't do it. I went back to clean up the post in question. It physically hurt to have it out there. So, now it is just long winded. But it won't cause alcohol poisoning. 

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Paranoia & Plastic

    I realize that most people who read the title are going to think I am about to start harping about recycling. Or start with a long list of the ills associated with plastic water bottles and their relationship to cancer. But no—that would be logical. And if you came HERE for that, I both pity you and think you are a dear for thinking me capable of such a thing!

    At approximately 5:33 PM, Sisterita began her tour-de-force! No, she didn’t start baking with frenzy or cleaning like a woman possessed. She didn’t even start with her fantastic humor that I adore so—no, her tour-de-force was a series of high adrenaline mishaps. A series of adorable, not terribly harmful, but incredibly ridiculous “huh?” moments. And because I don’t want to throw her under the bus…we both have these fits, but today it is hers that takes center stage. Sorry Sisterita: you’ll forgive me soon enough. Maybe I’ll have another wardrobe malfunction for you to guest blog about.

    ::sly smirk:: ::pauses: :::briefly contemplates another slit skirt:: ::begins hyperventilating:: ::small convulsions of terror begin and pass in quick succession::

    Ok! Enough of that. Moving on!

    No the tour-de-force refers to a-butcher-blade-of-death and flaming plastic rib eye steaks.
    Yes, I know. I want to read more too. Don’t worry, I took pictures.

    Incident One: Paranoia, Blades, and the history of the Corkscrew as a defensive tool

    My first glimpse of Sisterita today was the tip of her nose and some wide eyes. She was leaning into my bedroom. No, not in a Gene Kelly of Singing in the Rain kind of way. It was like one of those asses-out hugs: you lean with your chest toward the person, pat their shoulder awkwardly, and then SNAP! back to attention? Yes. That is it! That is the position.

    Let’s set the stage; apparently, I didn’t answer my phone. My migraine-ending nap is to blame—REM was happening. Phones be damned. But, after several unanswered calls and finding my car in the driveway, Sisterita assumed I was being a jerk. So, waltzing in and calling my name she is ready to give me a piece of her mind, “Why didn’t you answer? How am I supposed to plan dinner? What about the gym? You said you didn’t feel good, how I am supposed to know you didn’t lose consciousness???”

    Or something along those lines.

    See I was interrupted while seeking the comfort of the Sandman. She noticed me open my eyes—but she didn’t blink for a few seconds. Just stared at me with this owl-like patience. As if, what, I was a maniacal robot that just looked like me?! Yep, a self-detonating B-Verbose look-alike.

    After asking me a few questions about why I was lying in bed, she straightened up. Her hands were demurely resting behind her back. In true sister fashion, I communicated my confusion about her behavior through a series of facial expressions:

    Step 1 – B Verbose opens both yes. 
    Sisterita translates: she is alert.
    Step 2 – B Verbose lifts her head for a good view. 
    Sisterita translates: She has noticed that I am standing weird.
    Step 3 – B Verbose raises an eyebrow. 
    Sisterita translates: Ok, I am acting really weird and need to explain. 
    Here I go, in the most dramatic and flourishing wave of gestures possible.

    Ok, so you weren’t answering. And I was nervous. And you said you didn’t feel good, so I thought you were really sick. But then you didn’t say anything when I yelled from downstairs. And so I started thinking that you weren’t alone. And the chain on the door broke remember?! And then I started thinking someone was here who wasn’t invited. And so I grabbed the KNIFE to protect us!!!!


    At which point she raised this lovely, shiny blade from behind her back. Even paused in her super speed explanation for dramatic effect. If she wasn’t so adorably concerned for me and so very relieved, she might have looked like the next co-star on Dexter. As it was, I just giggled at her. Because she kept explaining…

    And, well, remember when we were little? And you would find the door unlocked when we got off the bus, and we would be scared, but I didn’t want to have the knife and check the closets first? So you would take the knife and then I would take the corkscrew? And we would go through the whole house?! Well, I couldn’t find a corkscrew but I found the butcher knife. Any guy burglar in here was going down!!! DOWN.

    Secretly, Gentle Reader, I kind of wished she had found both. Because who doesn’t want their own  knife-wielding champion waking them up from nap time in the supposed-defense of their honor?

    Non threatening Corkscrew
    Sisterita did prove, regardless of her intentions that we have evolved in our defense tactics. I have a feeling she “graduated” to the more grown up self-defense tool of the knife and tried to copy some gangster movie while stealthily climbing the stairs. Or at least I hope she did. 
     Corkscrew => Big Sister to Protect Her => Knife
     I should mention that if we actually had a burglar, there are strategically placed MACE sprayers….are you ready?…“big girl” firearms in the house. And yet, we still go for the butcher knife.

    ::sigh:: You just can’t fight years of training.

    Incident Two: How Paranoia Distracts and Results in the Burning of Plastic Rib Eye Steaks

    Ok, incident one navigated. I come downstairs, Sisterita is doing what she excels at: preparing steaks for dinner. Yum. I am glad she has this skill down, because I am still interviewing husband material to satisfy my need for well-grilled food in the summertime. And in the interim, she does a fine job!

    Scene shift: Well, the table is being set. We are humming along. We didn’t have to assassinate a burglar! Yes! All is well with the world. Oh, and there is the black cloud of smoke in the kitchen…

    WAIT! WHAT?! Why is there black smoke?!?!

    Commence panic. Sisterita screams (not hysterically, just sufficiently) and runs to find the source of the problem. It seems in the course of her kitchen prep, and possible post-non-burglar-scare she set the plastic wrapped rib eyes on the eye of the stove….and turned the wrong eye on. And our friend Kitchen Disaster came to visit.

    You know, we are fairly smart girls. She is probably the most possessed of common sense of anyone I know. But sometimes, we channel some Ramona and Beezus something FIERCE.

    Also, someone should probably tell me where to buy a fire extinguisher??? ASAP.