Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hold Back The Flood Of Fear

This afternoon, friends, I decided it would be a good time to scrub down the goldfish.  I upgraded a year or so ago from my "fill a bucket, empty a bucket, fill a bucket, empty a bucket" method of fishtank cleaning to a Python, which is this siphon thingy that lets you attach a hose directly to your bathroom sink, so you never have to use a bucket ever again.  Ever.

Anyway!  So there I was, humming to myself and sucking all the gross crud out of my tank, and I hear Erik the Swede coming upstairs.  You guys, this will surprise not a one of you, but EtS is a pretty calm human being.  Not very shouty.  Which is why I almost had a heart attack when he yelled from the bathroom for me to TURN OFF THE WATER.

Oh.  God. 

The sink had backed up.

And there was a waterfall cascading down the side of the vanity into a two-inch-deep pond on my bathroom floor.

Luckily for me, EtS is a pretty useful person to have around in the middle of a DISASTER HOLY SHIT THE ENTIRE HOUSE IS GOING TO FLOOD-type emergency.

So while I was having a heart attack and sloshing around the bathroom ruining my shoes, he was soaking up all the water with our eight hundred and fifty bath towels.

And while I was staring at the kitchen ceiling and shrieking as water poured down from our light fixture, he was laying even more towels on the kitchen table and moving the mail out of the way.

And while I stood on a kitchen chair, holding our now semi-disassembled light and weeping uncontrollably, he was busily turning off fuses and stripping wires and occasionally handing me a tissue.

...

Sigh.

Everyone has to have a house disaster now and then, right? 

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Truth In Distant Places

On Friday night I was consumed with the completely bizarre desire to make stuffed shells with ricotta and eggplant and zucchini, which is just insane, you guys.  If you know anything about me, it's that given the choice between Cooking and Doing Anything Else, I'm going to pick the latter.  Unless the latter involves eggplant, in which case I won't do that either.  Ugh.

So basically I have no idea what came over me... I blame my co-workers, all of whom are very adult and very vegetarian and very dedicated to Age-Appropriate Behavior and who do shit like make stuffed shells and then bring them to work the next day and lording them over those of us who are hiding in a corner eating ramen for the fifth day in a row.

But anyway, what it MEANS is that I made this freaking delicious dinner on Friday, and was left with half an eggplant in my fridge. 

There it's sitting, staring at me with its creepy rubber skin and its weird seeds. 

And Erik the Swede and I were staring back, very much "What the hell does one do with this?"  It makes me feel sort of better, really, that EtS doesn't know either -- I tend to think of him as knowing everything related to Healthy Eating, and it's reassuring to know that he's clueless too when it comes to aubergines.

Luckily I knew what to do:



Oh, Google.

Always you come to my rescue.

Anyway, now I'm apparently going to have to learn how to make baba ganoush to use up the rest of the damn eggplant, which also means I'm going to have to finally break down and purchase a food processor, but I think I'm willing to live with that.  Success!

(I recognize that this is sort of an apropos of nothing post, friends, but hell, I've been posting nothing, so I figured if the urge suddenly seized me to blog, I should probably follow through with it!

Right?

Right!)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Simmer Down, My Pot Of Clay

Well, my friends, zero hour is fast approaching.  The movers are coming at 9am Saturday, and I'd say as of this evening we are maybe... 58% packed.

Maybe.

It's a little hard to tell, because the process of packing inherently makes everything else way more goddamn messy, so the place still looks freaking PACKED even though I know with absolute certainty that at least a portion of my belongings have switched locations.  (My closet is actually scaring me a little, though.  It's like Strega Nona's magic pasta pot--shit just keeps multiplying.  How can I have so many shoes?)

Even Erik the Swede is starting to look a little frazzled, which is rare for him.  He had this entire move planned out by the car load.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were spreadsheets and Excel charts involved.  But I think his years of relatively austere bachelor living didn't equip him for the sheer amount of crap his wife could pack into an apartment.

Luckily college prepared me for this sort of thing, and by tomorrow night I'll have fully slipped into "You Procrastinated And Now It's 4:52pm And The Dorms Close For The Year In Eight Minutes" mode, which any of my former roommates will be all too familiar with. 

"PACK FASTER," I'll howl at EtS, inexplicably wasting my time loading all of our eight thousand empty cottage cheese bowls (which I saved because someday we might have people over for dinner and I'll need to send them home with leftovers in containers that I don't particularly care if I get back) into a box marked Misc Proofreading Supplies.  "DON'T BOTHER WITH THAT FLOOR LAMP!  OR THE KITCHEN TABLE!  WE CAN BUY NEW ONES!  JUST HURL IT ALL IN THE DUMPSTER!"

Yup.  It's... going to be something.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

For All Living Things Were Her Food

Hey, my friends!  Long time no blog, right?  But I can explain... sort of. 

EtS and I have been very, very very very busy recently, due to the way that we're buying a new house!  LIKE ADULTS!  And between signing up for trash removal and repainting bedrooms and cleaning carpets, I just haven't had time to blog.

("But Monica," you might say, "surely this hasn't been going on since February, which is when you last posted."  Shut up.  Is my answer to that.)

Anyway, this past weekend we decided to bite the bullet and approach the task I have been second-most dreading: cleaning out the garage.  The attic was already spotless, but the garage needed some help.  Due to a slight problem.

I... do not understand how a space the size of two mini-vans could support that large of a population of spiders.  They must have been feeding on each other.  It's the only possible explanation.

But my husband really wanted to be able to park his car in the garage without getting a face full of arachnid, so EtS and I armed ourselves with brooms and sticks and rags and a Shop Vac, and went into battle. 

Holy shit, my friends.  I have seen things that I cannot unsee. 

Webs everywhere.  Everywhere.  The walls were coated in hanging, drifting insect carcasses.  The ceiling, when a breeze would blow through, looked like it was moving.  We'd run a broom across the top of a high shelf, and spiders would pour off the far end and race in all directions.

Erik the Swede thought the windows were frosted, for privacy.  But no!  They were just covered in layers of cobwebs!  I opened a door that had probably not been opened in twenty years, and for a moment had the wild thought, "Why would anyone use this door to store cotton balls in?"  BUT NO!  IT WAS JUST FILLED WITH EGG SACS.

It was like being in Shelob's lair.  Absolutely the worst.

But!  It only took fifteen or so hours, and we got the damn place pretty well cleaned up.  I'm not saying that there are zero insects left, but at least I'm comfortable  that if I walk out the door or brush up against a wall I'm not going to be attacked by vengeful arthropods intent on reclaiming their homeland.

Next up... the basement.

God help us all. 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Horse Is At Least Human


As you may or may not know, friends, my husband has kind of an obsession with cars.  More importantly, he has an obsession with making his car the most fuel-economic, money-saving, high-tech vehicle it can be, which is especially funny when you remember that his car is an adorably tiny little red something or other that answers to the name "Mr. Bork."

(EtS will pretend he did not name his car this.)

(I think you know who to believe.)

What this means is that practically every time I hop into the passenger seat--because I'm absolute shit at driving a stick--there's been some new addition.  Last month, for example, right next to the previously-installed dash cam, he'd hooked up a device that looks like something you'd see in a hospital.  I kid you not, there's a little heartbeat icon that pulses in time to the car's engine.  I'm not sure... what its purpose is... but it's really cool looking.

I tell you this story because the other day, Erik the Swede came up to me and said, "Now... how embarrassed would you be to be seen in a car that had vent insulation installed all across the front of it?"

Me:  "No."

EtS, totally unperturbed:  "And keep in mind, if I am busy installing the vent insulation, I will not be able to build myself a homemade boat tail, which I've been considering because of the way it would majorly improve my fuel economy."

Me:  "That's cheating!  That's... that's blackmail!  You should be ashamed of yourself!"

EtS:  "Don't worry, I already bought the foam tubing, so I can start work on it tomorrow.  I'm glad you approve."

Awful.  Absolutely awful.  Although I do plan on using this entire thing for leverage if I ever decide to install, for example, a rotating R2D2 model on the top of my car.  It's probably good for wind resistance, right?  Like a spoiler! Yes.

("Are you blogging about my car?  Right now?  You're actually blogging the conversation we just had?"

"Maybe?"

"That's it.  I'm putting a boat tail on your car.")

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Sense Of Superiority To The Sleeping World

Well, guys, it was touch and go for a while where, but I survived my all-night teen lock-in at the library with my sanity--if not my voice--intact. 

The whole shebang was way more fun than I would have expected a 5pm to 9am shift would be, in part because the kids were completely fantastic, and in part because I managed to rope a number of Wonderful and Amazing People into "volunteering," meaning that the building was littered with my incredibly patient friends and family.  Mom, bless her heart, even went so far as to cut out 150 gingerbread people for a program I have going on next month.  This delighted one of my teen volunteers who was attending the program; those stupid gingerbread men have been the bane of her existence for the past couple of weeks, and I'm starting to get a little worried the whole box of them will suffer an unfortunate accident involving a bucket of water.  Or a lighter.

Anyway, we played Ultimate Spoons ("Miss Monica?  Somehow a spoon ended up in the light."  "The 20-foot-high runner light?  That one?"  "... yes.") and Sardines ("WHERE IS HE HIDING?  YOU HAD BETTER NOT BE IN THE CEILING TILES, MARKUS!") and had a scavenger hunt ("Miss, I can't even find Waldo, and this is waaaaay harder.").  We worked our way through thirty pizzas and about that many 2-liters of Mountain Dew, and danced awkwardly to Adele, and by the end my little darlings were collapsed in a heap on the floor of the community room looking like death could not come fast enough. 

As it should be.

Of course, now I'm collapsed in a heap on the floor, but I made it to my actual bedtime (basically... nine is a little early but we won't judge) so I'm pretty satisfied. 

So who wants to put in their name for volunteering next year?!?!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Indistinguishable From Magic

Friends, I want you all to brace, because this is going to shock you.

Only fourteen years late, I have fully embraced this new century and all the technology contained therein.

Namely, I... I have... I am now the proud new owner of...

A smart phone.

::: GASP :::

I know, guys.  I know.

It's blowing my mind

But look how pretty he is!


Baaaaaaaw!  Thanks Daddy!  It's the purplest birthday present EVER!

His name is Hydrophobia, because the person at Verizon said I should probably name him "Do Not Ever Drop Me In Water Ever, No Seriously," but that seemed a little over the top, so I shortened it.

(Our Verizon seller was a very pleasant gentleman who demonstrated extreme patience at my weeping as I realized that they just do not make smart phones with slide-out qwerty keyboards anymore, and who also demonstrated extreme horror when I may have accidentally mentioned how accident prone I am with my possessions.)

("How do you even drop your phone in the toilet once, much less four times?")

("What do you mean you dropped it in a lake, too?  Why were you... why did you even have your phone in a lake in the first place?")

("Look, I'm going to recommend you get an Otterbox case, and I'll even give you a discount on it, but I'm telling you right now that it's not going to help if you throw your phone in the bathtub.  So don't.")

It was very very very very very sad to say goodbye to my old phone, with its compact size and its aforementioned perfect slide-out qwerty keyboard and also its Rugged Durability which allowed me to do things like drop it in lakes and sit on it and toss it to people across rooms without worrying about what would happen if it hit the floor, but I was very brave and didn't cry at all.

Erik the Swede has also been very brave, because ever since we got home from dinner I've been hunched over my laptop, cursing under my breath and making abortive gestures in the direction of Hydrophobia, for whom I apparently don't have the technical know-how to actually use.  How do I restrict background data usage on the stupid preinstalled undeletable apps?  Which doodad is the proximity sensor and why doesn't it appear to be responding when I take the phone away from my face?  WHERE IS MY ALARM CLOCK!?

I called Kiker in the hopes that she'd picked up some support tips from her incredibly tech-savvy boyfriend, and whilst making the call, I realized that I could not hang up the phone because the power button wasn't activating and the screen wouldn't stop being blank and useless, leaving me trapped in this endless, albeit pleasant, conversation with her while we both Googled things like "Why The Hell Won't My Droid Mini Stop Being In Sleep Mode During Phone Calls, Jesus Christ" and wailed in frustration.

Okay, I wailed in frustration.

Kiker mostly just made sympathetic clucking noises.

"I use a track phone!" EtS caroled helpfully from the kitchen.  "It's so simple and intuitive!"

Ugh.

If you need me, I'll be here, shaking my fist at technology and wondering when I became such a dinosaur.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What Kind Of House Doesn't Have Salt?

I just had the following text conversation with XPhile!Kaye regarding my newest demonic acquisition:

XPhile!Kaye:  GIRL.  That freaky ass ornament you got at your Christmas party is amazing!  Its EYES!!  JESUS CHRIST!!

Me:  I KNOW AND NOW IT IS IN MY HOUSE!!

XPK:  What are you going to do with it?!

Me:  It's on our wall tree right now.  When I box everything up tomorrow, I guess it's also going in the box?

XPK:  You'll probably find it somewhere weird after you were sure it was in the box

XPK:  Like, in your bed.

XPK:  Sitting on the couch.

XPK:  On the kitchen counter.

XPK:  Erik asks, "I thought you put that thing away?"

XPK:  *gasp* "...but I did!

XPK:  Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

XPK:  If the two of you end up dead or vanished, I'll be sure to burn it and throw its ashes in the river.

Well.

It's official. 

I'm afraid to go to sleep.

Maybe I'll just... dip it in some holy water or something... before it devours our souls.

For The Pleasure Of Who Gives Them


So this past Friday was my work Christmas party!  I actually enjoy hanging out with my co-workers, and as someone who is very nosy, I appreciate having the opportunity to meet everyone's spouses.  So it was tons of fun.

Until, you know, we got to the silent auction.  Which, as you'll remember from last time, is not so much a festive exchange of bids for wrapped items as it is a "Dear God Dear God PLEASE Do Not Let Me Get The Partial Plate This Time, Lord, I Cannot Keep It In My House It'll Scare The Children" sort of thing.

I was in a position of power, though, y'all.  Because I had the teeth.  I knew which package they were in.  There is another yearly creepy item--a disgusting mink stole--but you can only compress it so much, so I knew I'd be safe as long as I bid on smaller items.

And guys.  Clearly I have some skill at judging, from the outside of a box, what treasures rest concealed within.  Because look at this haul, all of which were purchased for a mere pittance totaling less than $40:

A 2-pound Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, perfect for those of us who started dieting at New Years.

Rare vintage VHS-tape copies of The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, which as everyone knows, are both classic Disney Renaissance films.

A lovely half-burned candle in a seasonal peppermint-stripe theme.

Six--count them, six--beautiful antique 8-tracks, including "Whoopee John: 20 Greatest Hits" and "Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles."

And last but not least... this:



I was told by the woman who brought it that they'd picked it up at an estate sale in a box of a hundred other antique Christmas ornaments.  They kept almost all of them for their booth... and then they came to Mr. Angel. 

And felt 100% sure that they would be unable to sell him.


It's pretty clear that he's either cursed, and directly responsible for the deaths of his previous owners... or possibly that there's a screaming soul trapped within his painted wooden head, begging for release from behind off-kilter eyes.

I'm not completely sure.

Either way, he appears to have come straight out of an episode of Supernatural.

...


Erik the Swede may never let me go to the auction again.

Although, as I pointed out to him, if he had only agreed to attend the staff party with me instead of actually booking a dentist appointment so that he'd have an excuse to be busy, then he could have monitored my behavior better.

Lesson learned, EtS.  Lesson learned.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Good We Oft Might Win

Okay, I admit that I loved Pomme's suggestion of Eight Million New Year's Resolutions, because why disappoint yourself on one front when you can do it from every direction possible, right? 

RIGHT!

So with that in mind, here's what we've got for 2014.  Some of them are one-shots, some are designed to allow me to fail slowly over the course of a year. 

I mean, spectacularly succeed. 

There we go.

1)  Take down the Christmas decorations.  First things first.  Let's start the year off right by not, as EtS suggested, leaving our wall-tree hanging from Command Strips for the next eleven months.
2)  Write a poem.  I'm aiming low here, friends, and just going for one single poem.  Just one.  Come on Monica, just because you don't have school deadlines anymore doesn't mean you have lost this ability. 
3)  Bake something spectacular.  I am emboldened, y'all, by having successfully made a batch of Nuernbergers this past Christmas, despite my grandma's recipe containing absolutely inexplicable instructions like, "Boil glaze until it spins a hair."  Grandma, that... that's really not helpful.  At all.  But anyway!  This may be the sort of thing that requires outside assistance.  Suggestions are welcome.
4)  Attend church weekly--or at least more often than I don't.  This is trickier than you'd think due to the way I work some Sundays, and also by the way that my non-church-loving husband is frequently like, "Waffles?"  And I can't say no to waffles.  But I shall try my best to resist their syrupy siren call.
5)  Write two letters a month.  Hand-written.  Pomme mentioned this and I love it.  Bam!  Resolved!  Expect frantic, end-of-the-month notes to be arriving in your mailboxes shortly, friends.
6)  Pay attention to what I'm eating.  That's not exactly a diet, per se, but more like a life goal.  I reminded myself of this just a little while ago, as I was laying on the couch watching This Is What Love In Action Looks Like and contemplating eating half a bag of cotton candy that Sarah brought me from Disney World.  I still ate it, don't get me wrong, but I thought about it first.
7)  Read 175 books.  At least ten of them should be silly children's picture books, another ten should be graphic novels, and honestly, this year is the year that I promise to read My Life In France.  No, really.  It's happening.
8)  Visit my siblings.  This is actually pretty tricky given my absolutely nonexistent vacation time, but I might as well aim high!  Bee won't be as hard, although she might draw the line at me actually sleeping over at her place, but Baby!Bro is, like, hours and hours away!  I shall do my best, though. 
9)  Finish Battlestar GalacticaI've got half a season left, the show has been over for five years, and it's just embarrassing at this point.  Holly's going to disown me as a friend if we don't get this done.
10)  Blog more often.  There, I said it.  We'll see how long it lasts, especially now that no one reads this any more.  Alas, the problems inherent in spotty posting.

In other news... I'm going to bed.  I have this built-in creepy body early-warning-system that allows me to know when my immune system is otherwise engaged fighting off a cold, or whatever, and it reared its ugly head yesterday.  I'm still feeling okay today, aside from just ungodly fatigue (EtS has tucked me into bed twice already today, covering me in stuffed animals and making no attempt not to laugh as I feebly bat him away and curse that "I'm not tired, dammit!"), but I know that Illness Is Coming.  Ugh.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflection Makes A Liar

Gah, how can it almost be 2014!?  I feel like I accomplished basically nothing with my life... which means, of course, it's clearly time to start thinking about New Year's Resolutions!

I have no idea what I'm going to try and do this year, y'all.

Blogging More Often is so done, plus clearly I suck at it, and why set myself up for failure?  The same goes for Exercising Five Times A Week, because even though that would indeed make me very happy, after the first two weeks of doing nothing but playing on Tumblr and eating cookie dough with a spoon, I'd probably give up completely.  I could... try to get to church every week, despite the siren call of Sleeping In?  I could read 200 books?  I could do what romance!reader is doing--like, a 100% total person makeover, complete with Getting Lots Of Rest and Eating Superfoods and Drinking Gallons Of Water Every Day and Staying Above A Resting Heartrate, or whatever?

Ugh.  What do you think, friends?  Suggestions?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Pat Of Butter In A Hot Frying Pan

Well, friends, the holidays are drawing to a close, and Erik the Swede is breathing a huge freaking sigh of relief.  He has navigated the Festive Christmas Waters with his usual combination of agility and desperate panic, resulting in a number of conversations that, if overheard by a casual observer, would sound like the world's most awkward hostage negotiation. 

Me:  Okay.  This week we have the party with Lizzie and LB, and then romance!reader's evening get-together.  You should show up at both of them for at least a little bit.

EtS:  I will attend one of them, for no more than two hours.  As the first party does not include a cat, that is the one I choose.

Me:  If you're going to skip romance!reader's party, then you need to come over to Anna and Jeffiner's on Saturday, because everyone is going to be there.

EtS:  Negative.  Everyone is going to be there next Tuesday.  I will see everyone then, for a maximum of a four hour period.

Me:  Five hours.

EtS:  Four.  As you'll recall, I was only supposed to stay at your family's White Elephant exchange for three hours, but it turned into seven.

Me:  Point taken.  All right, in that case, two hours with Lizzie and LB, you have to show up next Tuesday, and also I just made those damn cookies and cannot eat them all myself, so you're responsible for at least half the batch.

EtS:  I find your terms acceptable.

The holidays are hard on those who are not holiday-inclined.  Aw.  Poor EtS.

Friday, December 20, 2013

One Is Paperwork, And The Other Is Nostalgia

While "Freezing rain half-day!  Freezing rain half-daaaaaay!!" doesn't have quite the same shouted effect as just a good old fashioned "Snow Day!" I'm doing my best to make it work through sheer volume and gestures alone.



Erik the Swede is unimpressed.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Truly Songs And Tales Fall Utterly Short Of Your Enormity

Sometimes, friends, I say to myself, “Self, you’re not some nerdy high school kid anymore, or a college student prone to making bad life choices. You’re a goddamn adult, with a job and insurance and shit like that. At some point, you should probably stop going to midnight shows of ridiculous movies. You definitely should stop going to back-to-back double features that last seven hours and don’t get you home until 4am on a morning you have to be up at seven for work. Look at your life, self.”

And then I laugh hysterically, because who am I kidding, I’ll be going to midnight shows until I am literally too feeble to drive myself home alone in the dark.

Or, you know, until n00bie!r00mie abandons me for some cushy university job on the other side of the country and I have no one to drag along to the theater.

I really should probably start training a replacement, sooner rather than later.

So… um… anyone want to volunteer as tribute?

Anna?

Anna this could be our new thing.

You just think about it.

I’ll be over here, on the floor, slipping into a sugar-crash coma.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sharpening the Axe

Frequently, friends, I am told that I would be a terrifying and exhausting sort of person to live with.  Erik the Swede, of course, has signed up for the long haul, but sometimes he gets a sort of look in his eyes a la Oh God Oh God What Have I Done, and I like to remind him that sorry, I'm for keepsies.

So today, as I was dancing around the kitchen attempting to chop pecans for our Thanksgiving salad whilst also singing Banana Man, and he started getting the Look, I mentioned as usual that there were No Takebacks.

To which he unexpectedly replied, "Oh, didn't I tell you about the two-year limited warranty and replacement guarantee?"

Me:  Wait, what?

EtS:  Well, you know...

Me:  What??

EtS:  I like to be prepared, so....

Me:  WHAT???

EtS:  No, it's decided.  Now dear, run and get your Blankie and stuffed leopard.  I'll be returning you to your father this afternoon.

Such a bully.  See if I share any Thanksgiving pie with him today.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Would You Like To Order Some Alimentos Now?

Well, as usually happens, I have once again fallen off the Blogging Wagon.

You know how it goes, friends.

I post for a while.  I'm really diligent about it.

Inevitably, the posts slide off in frequency.  Finally they stop altogether. 

For a while, it doesn't matter.  I have shit to do guys, I can't be posting all the freaking time!

Then I start thinking that I really do need to post, but I should make sure that the post is something amazing to compensate for the wait.

I have nothing amazing to post.  So I do not write anything.

Panic sets in.  It has been too long since my last post.  How can I start up again now?  I hate doing that "Sorry it has been so long, guys!" thing.  Probably I should just never post again.

I miss my blog. So I post anything random just to get something up there.

And voila!  We  have nonsensical babbly entries like this one Right Here!  Whoo!!

So.

We DID, in fact, have a wonderful time on Monica And EtS's End Of Summer Roadtrip Of Amazingness And Responsible Life Choices.  We've got family who lives down south-east-ish who we NEVER GET TO SEE, so getting to spend multiple days in a row hanging out with them was amazing.  Their property is freaking gorgeous, and if I had any desire at all to live anywhere other than the state I currently live in, I'd consider moving there.

EtS and I saw a number of Important Historical Monuments that my relatives--especially Grandpa--had suggested were fucking essential to life and definitely worth driving way out of the way to see.  (And which upon viewing, luckily, actually were reasonably cool.)  Like the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower, which was (wait for it) a really boring-looking square tower in the middle of a farmer's field in the middle of nowhere.  But historically it was awesome, because it's the first mass-production weapons manufacturing location in the country!  Employees who probably needed to be paid more would climb all the way to the top and drop buckets of molten lead mixed with arsenic down into a pool of water at the bottom, and the fall would shape the lead into individual perfect shot balls, which would then be dragged through a tunnel and dropped at the river so that they could be picked up and shipped off to their shotgun destinations!  Yay history!

It probably was a good thing that we were driving a rental, though, because we definitely had to drive through the farmer's field to get there, and I'm not sure my car would have made it.  Erik the Swede's would have given out halfway up the first bend of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  (The downside to our rental, of course, was that it was a Super Fancy Car that required not a normal key, but one of those keys that doesn't actually go into the car in any way, and rather turns it on by mere presence alone when you push a button near the steering wheel, which was creepy as hell for the uninitiated.  Plus, it made it super difficult for me to take over driving responsibilities, since EtS kept the key on him at all times, and on one memorable occasion when I slipped into the driver's seat and turned the car on, he actually leaped out of the slowly moving vehicle like he thought he was goddamn Jason Bourne, which of course immediately turned the engine off because the key had exited the car.  Crazy.)

We also saw a lot of Historical Markers, an old racetrack, coal, a monstrosity of hysterically racist and sexist tobacco ads, more coal, a dramatic gold-domed capitol building, several dozen Scenic Views of Mountains, the Garden of Eden complete with penguins and velociraptors, a museum dedicated entirely to the ugliest modern art we'd ever seen, a clock tower, thirty-six coffee shops, a monument to human consumption in the form of Biltmore, a monument to Things Monica Needs in the form of Biltmore's library, even more coal, and a Waffle House. 

We did not, of course, eat only at Waffle Houses.  At one restaurant we visited, the tiny perky super-white waitress apparently decided that EtS spoke Spanish, and more importantly decided that this was the moment she could practice her language skills and show him that she was totally okay with his being foreign.  The whole thing was made more hysterical by the fact that apparently those skills were few and far between.  I don't speak any Spanish at all, and even I could probably have gotten out more phrases than she managed.

Waitress:  "Can I get you folks anything to drink before you order?"

Me:  "Sweet tea!"  (I never drink sweet tea, friends, but I had been told by the aforementioned relatives that it was a cultural experience.  Nom nom nom.  My teeth may never recover, but mmmmm.)

EtS:  "I'd like a large coffee."

Waitress:  "Okay, a sweet tea, and a coffee.  A grande coffee.  Is that what you wanted?"

EtS:  "... yes."

Waitress:  "Bueno.  I will be right out with those."

EtS, to me:  "Is she speaking Spanish?"

Me:  "I am so confused."

Waitress, returning with coffee:  "Careful!  It's very caliente.  Very hot."

It was surreal, friends.  Or, in the language of EtS's people, bizarro.

Anyway, lovely trip, we'll have to do it again sometime, and maybe I'll write about it sooner than three months later.

Now friends, I'm off!  Seeing as it snowed last night and temperatures are currently hovering right around freezing, my husband has decided it is the perfect day to head to the beach and walk out to the lighthouse.  As one does.  Swedes, am I right?

Saturday, September 07, 2013

But The Map Never Showed The Danger Down The Road

By the time this posts, friends, Erik the Swede and I will be solidly off on our Monica And EtS's End Of Summer Roadtrip Of Amazingness And Responsible Life Choices, which was planned after I realized how super sad it was that I had already had one adventure this summer (See: Roadtripping Roommate Adventuretime Extravaganzaaaaaa Destination Colorado) but my poor husband had been forced to stay home and do crappy things like to go work and not white-water raft.

Ugh.

So off we are going!  We have maps!  We have three separate GPS systems, because it's always good to have a back-up plan for the back-up plan!  We have 198 oz. of water and enough trail mix to feed a small country!  And best of all, we have a very nice rental car booked that should be large enough to hold EtS's single duffel bag and my Suitcase The Size Of A Smart Car!

Erik the Swede continues to be baffled by my packing choices.

I told him it's partly the fact that I'm a girl, and girls have this tendency to be like, "What if I'm cold?  Better pack a sweat shirt and long pants!  What if I'm hot?  Better pack a tank top and a swim suit!  What if we go out?  Better pack a nice clubbing outfit and at least two sets of heels!  What if I get married?  Better bring a wedding dress!"  And then the next thing you know you've got six suitcases packed and still aren't entirely sure you brought enough pairs of shoes.

But my problem really has much less to do with the fact that I'm a girl, and much more to do with the fact that my parents allowed me to watch endless episodes of Land of the Lost during my formative years.

Did any of you watch Land of the Lost as children?  No?  Guys, I studied that show the way Thermians from the Klaatu Nebula studied Gilligan's Island, and I sure as hell learned from Kevin and Annie's mistakes

So now, whenever I'm going on a trip, I have to be like:

Clothes?  Check.
Shoes?  Check.
Glasses and contacts?  Check.
Numerous books?  Check.
Matches?  Check.
Tarp?  Check.
Water purifier?  Check.
Portable generator?  Check.
Enough tampons to last me until menopause?  Check and check.

It's exhausting to be so prepared for my inevitable drop through a crack in the road and subsequent abandonment in a prehistoric world, but needs must.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"EtS, Look! The Struggles And Triumphs Of Your People!"

As Friday rolls around, Erik the Swede and I have mostly recovered from our last-weekend frolics with Toi and Pomme.  Poor EtS.  He normally really enjoys visits to that particular city, but this time the four of us were DETERMINED that he would get to see HIS CULTURAL HERITAGE, in the form of "Little Sweden."

I didn't have high hopes for Little Sweden, to be honest.  I was pretty sure it was going to consist of a church, and maybe some flags, as is frequently the case with Large Hubs Of One Particular Culture That Used To Exist In The Early 1900s But Have Subsequently Over Time Been Merged With The Rest Of The City.  But surprise!  There actually were legitimately some Swedish-type buildings!  A Lutheran church, obviously, where apparently every Swedish-speaking person in the area was married, a Swedish bakery, a Swedish tavern, two Swedish breakfast places, a Swedish sort-of-grocery-store-sort-of-tourist-shop, and a museum dedicated entirely to the immigration of Swedes to America! 

Clearly it all needed to be investigated!

Have you ever heard three girls loudly trying to convince someone that they really want to do something?

"ERIK THE SWEDE!  WE ARE OFF TO LITTLE SWEDEN FOR ADVENTURES!!"

"Oh, isn't this... nice," said Erik the Swede.  "And small.  Wasn't there a boat tour we were thinking of--"

"NO!  LET'S GO TO THIS AUTHENTIC SWEDISH RESTAURANT SO YOU CAN EAT THE FOOD OF YOUR HOMELAND!!"

"Ah," said Erik the Swede.  "Now that we have eaten not-particularly-authentic Swedish food, why don't we head downtown and maybe--"

"NO!  WE HAVE TO GO TO THE SWEDISH MUSEUM AND LEARN ABOUT YOUR CULTURE!!"

"Hmm," said Erik the Swede.  "Now that we have learned about a culture that's totally removed from mine, since as you will recall I did not travel to America on a steamer ship in 1890, I was thinking that we could check out that sculpture of--"

"NO!  WE HAVE TO PLAY IN THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM!  COME INSIDE THIS STUGA, ETS!  AND LOOK THERE IS A LIFE-SIZED DALA HORSE YOU CAN RIDE!!"

"No."

Aaaaand, that's how we learned what EtS's limits were, aha.

He was actually very brave, especially given that we manged to spend probably four hours at the museum--although he did not, as noted, ride the life-sized dala horse, and also refused to row the Viking longship with me and Pomme, and didn't want to help Toi in the garden outside the pioneer house.  Psh. 

On our way out we stopped by the gift shop, where, to my unending and all-encompassing delight, the owner proceeded to have a spirited conversation in Swedish with my husband.  While they chatted (about God knows what--unfortunately my sole Swedish word, polkagris, did not come in handy here) I did a little bit of shopping. 

Apparently EtS has been running a lucrative soap-making business on the side:


Birch essential oil is a very common ingredient in Nordic soaps since the birch tree is so plentiful in the forests of northern Europe, cheers the website. We blend this soap with ground oatmeal, and Birch and Anise essential oils to create a soap with a hint of wintergreen and licorice...very Scandinavian! 

Sounds authentic to me!!

Speaking of soap, I must now leave to embark on what looks to be a HELLISH mission: Cleaning the shower.  Yes friends, this is what I do on my day off.  Blog and clean.  I've already got the shower head soaking in a water and vinegar mix, and have bleached the shit out of the creepy mildewy corners--now it's off to the store to purchase a bristle brush and gloves.  Shower, prepare to meet your match!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dressed In All Pink Except My Gator Shoes

(Note:  I’m writing this in Microsoft Word, because apparently our… IP address… is having a conflict… with another computer?  Or something?  Hell if I know.  But anyway, the internet is totally MIA right now, so I’m going to do a little copy/paste action when it returns.  I mention this because if there are any formatting issues that arise from the transfer… I was too lazy to go back and fix them.  Whee!)

So the other day, XPhile!Kaye and I were doing some incredibly necessary shopping, me because I needed ridiculously expensive hair care products that had better be made out of goddamn gold and unicorn tears, and her because she thought maybe she’d buy a hat.  It was whilst hat-shopping (at one of those classy mall establishments that sells brass knuckles, lucky bamboo plants, and Bob Marley-emblazoned grinders) that Kaye made a tragic discovery.

“Hey, look at this awesome necklace!”

::: pause :::

“Am I too old for this necklace?”

::: pause :::

“Oh my God.  I’m too old for this necklace.”

Now friends, I haven’t yet hit a point in my life when I realize I am too old for something I want to wear.  (Too old for something I want to read?  That shit happens every day.  It’s the great tragedy of my life.)  Maybe five years ago it would have been a different story, but I’m a youth librarian now, darn it, and on a standard work day I look something like:


But I sense it’s coming, slowly and inexorably, like… something slow and inexorable.  It’s eleven pm, I have no idea, an iceberg?  The 2016 presidential election?  Something, and I’ll be left staring at a pair of light-up Spider-man Converse sneakers and crying because I know deep in my heart that I just. Can’t. 

Ugh.

So depressing.

Oh well—at least I’m not about to hit THIRTY, amirite?

::: ducks and runs from my very-slightly-older-than-me friends :::

Friday, August 02, 2013

That's Where He Spends Most Of His Time

Well friends, as some of you may know... I made it back alive from the Roadtripping Roommate Adventuretime Extravaganzaaaaaa Destination Colorado trip.  It is super late right now (Baby!Bro came over this evening to watch a movie, and somehow I ended up at this complete hole in the wall bar on the other end of town playing trivia (poorly), and somehow after that I got trapped on Tumblr for an hour) so I cannot go into all the specifics, but let me attempt to note the most impressive bits:

I visited the birthplace of John Wayne, and one of the bridges of Madison County.  Just one.  One was enough.

I ate caviar!  It tasted like fish sprinkles!

I also ate king crab legs!  These were better than the caviar, but way more work--I felt a little bit like Julia Roberts in the Pretty Woman snail-eating scene, as I hacked away at my crab legs and desperately looked to my neighbors to see how the hell they were managing to eat so much more... delicately... than me.

I went to a Rockies game,which was my first ever major league baseball game!  We won, obviously--and I am allowed to say "we" in this case because if the Rockies scored more than seven runs everyone got free tacos.  That earns them my allegiance for at least the duration of a single game, don't you think? 

I climbed through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and successfully avoided being attacked by anything poisonous.

I visited the very room in the Stanley Hotel where Stephen King came up with the idea for The Shining.  I did not, tragically, see any ghosts.  Maybe next time.

I stared in horror as the beauty of the natural landscape of Colorado was marred by a metric fuckton of identical McMansion housing communities, which was just... seriously, Colorado?  How many million-dollar six-bedroom houses do you legitimately need?  Learn from the mistakes of the rest of the country!  Urban sprawl is a terrible thing!!

And of course I went white-water rafting (at the Clear Creek Rafting Company, which I highly endorse), which was just as thrilling as you'd expect.  Even though we were technically on the equivalent of bunny hills.  Honestly, though, we were super skilled--our guide told us more than once that we easily could have handled the intermediate course.


This was the most dangerous part of our rafting adventure, apparently, but don't be fooled!  If we'd fallen out, we were informed that under no circumstances were we to put our feet on the ground.  "You think you can easily walk in two feet of water," said our guide, ominously, "but get your foot stuck under a rock, and you can drown in two feet of water even more easily."  Good god, man!  Message received!

To be honest, we apparently were in more danger the night we went downtown barhopping... at least, if the front page article in the paper the next morning was anything to go by.  ("Some people are just trying to make it home safely — and some people won't make it home at all."  Bum bum buuuuuuuuum.)  Roomie!Ann and I were both like, Hey!  We saw those cop cars!  But... not the stabbings.  That's probably for the best.

There were so many more things to do, but tragically one can only fit so many adventures into a day.  Plus, Roomie!Ann and I both were suffering from fairly intense headaches the entire time we were there.  Apparently that altitude change thing isn't just a myth?  Go figure.