Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Epic Fail

When I was pathetic and sick the week before Christmas, I caught a bit of Oprah between naps. It was her "favorite things" episode. This year, instead of extravagant gifts, Oprah suggested gifts that cost next to nothing. So I was primed when the boy came to me and suggested that perhaps this would not be an extravagant Christmas.

Let me back up a little bit. We are all well aware that tuition payments suck out my soul a little at a time. Additionally, I've alluded to the fact that the boy used to have a job that he hated. He quit that job August-ish and is now much (much much) happier, but also on a much tighter budget. This doesn't matter to me at all, and I've never been one to equate money to happiness, but it seems to be a tender subject for him so I try not to focus on it much. Thus, when he came to me about Christmas, I didn't bat an eye and asked him for a gift that didn't cost a thing.

"Write me a letter," I said.

"A letter?" He responded doubtfully.

"Yes. A letter. Oprah said that some of her most meaningful gifts have been little notes that she received where people said nice things about her. I think that's a nice gesture, and how often do we really do things like that? I've been trying to do it more often, but it occurs to me that I've never given you anything like that."


(In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned Oprah. This immediately caused the boy to dismiss my request as he and I both share similiar views on her show and I think he thought I was still sick and that the sickness was affecting my brain.*)

As Christmas approached, he commented several times that he couldn't think of what to get me that was affordable. "I want to give you the world," he said. I remained resolute in my request for a letter and I warmed to it more each time I brought it up. Eventually, the boy just stopped wondering what to get for me, and the subject was dropped. In the end, I assumed that he didn't want to write the letter (what boy is really anxious to put his feelings down on paper?) and that this request would die a quiet death like others I've made and the boy didn't want to fulfill. When we went to our respective families for Christmas with the implicit promise to have our Christmas when we got back, I didn't even remind him about the letter. In fact, so sure was I that we would just end up doing a dinner together or something of that nature, I didn't even bother to write my letter to him.

I'll bet you all know where this story is going.

When I returned home on Sunday, exhausted and frazzled, the boy called and offered to bring dinner, and I immediately accepted. It was great to not have to make dinner, but even greater to see him and completely relax. After the hellos (both of us) and inhaling of food (me) we settled down to watch some TV and chill. We discussed our Christmases (both fabulous) and eventually the subject got around to our presents for each other.

"So where's my letter?" I teased.

"I dropped it there on the table for you to read later. Didn't you see?"

"..." (Internally there were alarm bells ringing and sirens sounding and a repeating chorus of variations of "Holy Shit!") "Ha ha. You must be joking," is what I eventually managed to force out.

"Nope. It's right there." In disbelief, I got up to see it for myself. The boy, smelling blood on the water, moved in for the kill. "Where's MY letter."


"You DID write me a letter, right? That was our agreement?"


"Yes you have my letter? Can I have it now please?"

"No, I meant 'yes that was our agreement.'"

"Oh. So where's my letter?"


Eventually I was forced to admit that I had not, in fact, written him a letter. That I had assumed that he would not fulfill my Christmas request. That I sucked as a girlfriend.** That I was horrible for underestimating him. And that I was indeed a bad dog. Bad dog!! Tail tucked and eyes downward, I was the picture of remorse. Because the boy is a bigger person than I am, and because he's strong enough to admit that perhaps I had a bit of past behavior to make me doubt him, he laughed it off after making me feel (appropriately) guilty for about ninety minutes.

Still, I continued to feel guilty on my own. EPIC FAIL BY EMILY. Seriously. What on EARTH came over me? I am the worst person in the whole world! I suck. I should STILL be in time out. Bad Emily.***

The only upside to this is that it took me MUCH less time to write my letter as it took him to write his (Apparently I have a bit more practice putting my feelings on paper screen...) so he got his letter last night (after editing and re-editing until I couldn't re-edit any more.) I did NOT read his letter until mine was completed and in a sealed envelope. I didn't want any guidance because he didn't have any when he wrote his. Fair is fair.

His letter? It was fabulous. Better than I had any right to hope for. If I were a girl, I would say that it renewed my faith in fairytales and romance and happily ever after. Since I'm not I'll just say that apparently, even on a tight budget, it's possible to afford the finer things in life. I hope we do this again next year, and I would suggest it as a gift idea for anyone who wants to give a gift that will be remembered for a long time****.

*At that point, you thought this blog was about the BOY'S epic failure, weren't you? Admit it...
**Yes, I had to break out the girlfriend word. Again. Shut it. You all knew it was coming. I was groveling. I had no choice. Damn.
***J, this blog only made it to the light of day because of you and your eternal quest to have me be fair and balanced in my portrayal of the boy. I, too, am capable of royal screw ups.
****When I asked him what his favorite part of MY letter was, he said, "The part where you point out your flaws." I could feel the romance. Seriously, folks. I can't make this stuff up.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's what Grandchildren do...

...they screw the grandparents.

That, my friends, is a direct quote from my mother. This after I broke down in tears because Casey had destroyed the gift I gave my father for Christmas. My mom was laughing when she said this, but still, it only made me feel marginally better.

It turns out that only one of my predictions was correct. I returned home frazzled and exhausted. I mean, it really was a great Christmas. One of the best ever, really. But boy was I glad to get home.

So, it seems, was Casey who slept through the night like an angel (even though I put her to bed at 7:45pm) after being the biggest brat all weekend long. Blue was, of course, perfect.

No meals were disrupted by Casey's crying. Apparently the fact that I give my dogs scraps when I'm eating (judge me all you want, but if french fries taste good to me, I want to share with my two favorite dogs) actually worked in my favor when I went home. Since they get scraps, my dogs know how to beg politely (sitting at least a foot away like good dogs) and only took a couple of reminders for them to behave when they got pushy with the noses in the laps and such. (I will note that they are more aggressive with my father, which he complains about and then proceeds to give them snacks all. the. time. These dogs, they aren't dumb. They know where to get the good stuff.)

And, though I predicted only one, two things were broken by Casey while we were home, though not when she was chasing the cats (who remained safely confined in the basement throughout our visit.) The first was an innocent screen door (think Marley) that was in Casey's way when she decided that she had been outside long enough. (I went outside to survey the damage and found Blue patiently sitting on the other side of the broken door waiting for me to open it and let him in. Suchagoodboy.) The second was my father's Christmas present and the source of the tears immediately before I left to return home.

See, the gift to my father was sort of a joke. Over Thanksgiving, my father was telling us the story of how he sanded and repainted the basketball goal over his garage. The very same basketball goal that hasn't been used in approximately, oh, twelve years. Still, he spent all day sanding the back board, repainting the lines, and then bought a new net that glows in the dark. He was very proud of his work. Afterwards, upon realizing that the basketball had gone flat, (again, unused for twelve years) he went to Target and purchased a brand new basketball and pump.

Which my mother promptly returned the next day.

See, now that they are retired, my mother has very stict rules for what purchases are "within budget" and "not within budget." It turns out that she did not approve the purchase of the basketball and pump. A fact that was repeatedly lamented by my father over Thanksgiving while he wondered when, exactly, she had gotten control of the household budget and why, exactly, he couldn't buy a thirteen dollar basketball when he wanted to. "It's just thirteen dollars!!"

Here's a tip, dad. She's always had control. It's just that before, she was a bit more flexible. Your budget wasn't as tight. Retirement does that, remember?

He made such a fuss, in fact, that I immediately decided he would get a basketball for Christmas. And he did. And he laughed. And I laughed. And all the friends who came for Thanksgiving (and again for Christmas) laughed. It was fun, my mother threatened to return it (we called her Scrooge) and in the end, my father had his basketball.

Which Casey promptly destroyed two days after Christmas. See, my brother was shooting hoops, and Casey was outside, and I was throwing frisbees, and then Casey saw the basketball. I warned my little brother that Casey destroys balls. She just does. I told him that. But I don't think he entirely believed me since there was no way that a basketball fits within Casey's jaws. Being my brother he should have known that where there's a will, there's a way, and with Casey there's no shortage of will. It just took one missed shot and Casey opening her mouth as wide as possible to dig her teeth in the side of the basketball as she danced merrily just outside of my grasp in a fun game of keep away.

One Christmas gift - destroyed. Thankyouverymuch.

My mother cracked up. She called it a sign from above and was just tickled to death that she had ultimately gotten her way. I think, in a funny way, it made her like her grand-dog-ter that much more even as I was about to kill her.

So the trek with the two dogs wasn't great, but it probably wasn't as bad as it could have been. Two days with temperatures above 50 allowed me to have the dogs outside much of the time and they wore each other out with the provided toys. My father bought them pig ears and rawhides that they merrily chewed when in the house. They terrorized the racoon that has been plaguing my father, and they slept soundly at night next to me.

But still, next year? Next year I think a pet sitter will be in the budget as a necessary expense. (Unless I can find a nice volunteer? Anyone? Anyone??) I think Casey's antics were mostly caused by anxiety as she does like her routines (surely she didn't get that from me? No...surely not*) and I don't need the stress of removing her from her environment. Blue is beloved, and Casey is merely tolerated. No need to subject anyone to that again.**

"Real" Christmas recap coming tomorrow.

**She's lucky she was the first, or else she might have been returned.***
***Okay, not really, but still. I must apologize again if I caused my mother this much stress as the firstborn and more willful child.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It's always very surreal to me when I have to work on Christmas eve. I mean, it's Christmas eve!! Am I not supposed to be with family right now? Sleeping in and baking things and preparing for Santa?

Instead I am at work wrapping up some mundane items that don't even matter because the rest of the world is already gone for the holiday. Sigh. It's enough to depress a girl.

So what I do to combat this is deck myself out in tacky Christmas jewelry...complete with sleigh bell around my neck. Every time I move, I sound like a damn reindeer, but I figure it's helping my boss get into the Christmas spirit, no? To remind my boss that it's Christmas eve, and I'm at the office, I've currently got on Christmas socks (that play music,) about five Christmas bracelets that jingle, the aforementioned sleigh bell, and small(ish) Christmas ornaments (that light up) as earrings. The Santa hat was too warm, so I had to take it off. (I would post pictures if I had one.)

I think he's getting the point. But then, I think that every year, and every year I'm here on Christmas eve. Sigh. Well, at least it's a half day.

I hope you all have a great Christmas with family all around you. Celebrate in the tackiest way possible! (alcohol is great for accomplishing that.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Couldn't Help It

So I went to Carrie's blog and then couldn't help myself. Apparently you can input a picture of yourself and your significant other and make a cyber baby. Too tempting to pass up.

Create Your OwnMake a Routan Baby

All I want for Christmas is...a visit from two dogs pit bulls?

I don't know what to do with my dogs for Christmas.

I mean, since my free dog sitter (ahem, the boy, ahem) is callously heading out of town to spend time with his family for the holidays instead of spending Christmas with Casey, I have this problem of two pit bulls that need to be taken care of while I'm supposed to be spending time with my family approximately 200 miles away. I'm distraught. I mean, how could the boy leave this cuteness?? For what? Family time? Pshaw. (Awesome pictures by Ann.)

Realistically, I probably knew this would happen eventually...I just didn't think it through all the way to the end. "Eventually" remained a fuzzy idea next to "never gonna happen." I mean, who says I can't stagger all my visits home with the boy's. There is no reason that we ever had to be gone at the same time. Well, except for major holidays like Christmas. But really. Christmas isn't that important. Surely we could find some sort of compromise.

Interestingly, the boy isn't really up for compromising when he's giving up family time and I'm leaving him my dog to watch. Funny. But when I'm making baked goods for Christmas presents (with a distinct lack of baking skills) paying a pet sitter $15 per visit to watch my dog for five days doesn't quite work. So I'm left with the following options.

1. Take both dogs home for Christmas.

Part of me doesn't think it's fair to subject my cat-loving-no-dog-owning family to two pit bulls for their Christmas holiday. The other part of me doesn't really want to travel with both dogs. Especially after two trips with Blue flying solo. Blue who's so easy and laid back and calm and actually made the following words come out of my (strictly cat loving) mother's mouth, "If I had a dog, I would want one like Blue." So basically, no part of me wanted to make the call to my father on Monday asking how much of a pain it would be if I had to bring both dogs. (And keep in mind, after the calm demeanor of Blue, my parents have not rushed to re-invite Casey to their home...)

My father handled it with his usual calm manner and mentioned the issues I would face, but ultimately said I should bring them both in leiu of paying tons of money to keep one in Indy. I think I was kind of hoping he would say no so that I would be forced to board one of the dogs at the vet where I volunteer. For free.

Oh, did I not mention that as an option?

That's because, um, no. Like, no. Think about leaving your child at a daycare that is adequate in every respect. Just... adequate. It's clean-ish. Clean enough, anyway. They will feed the child, and give the child toys and keep the child clean...ish. The child will be alive when you return, but really, what sort of emotional scarring went on when you weren't there? I volunteer there and it's a perfectly acceptable kennel for $10/day. But you get what you pay for. And, um, if I have any other options, um.....no.

So we're goin' over the river and through the woods. All three of us*. Can't wait to see how THIS is gonna turn out. I'm gonna go conservative and say that I think only one thing will get broken while my dogs chase my parents' cats, only one meal will be disrupted by Casey's crying, and Emily will return frazzled and exhausted. Any other predictions? I'm taking a camera, so I'll post pictures. Winner gets free dog kisses.

*Laney has a guardian angel who will keep her fed and loved in Indy while I am out of town**
**This is the biggest plus in the column of "Cat" when attempting to decide to adopt a pet. There are millions of people/friends/acquaintances who will watch your cat for little more than a dinner out (or merely the promise of a dinner out someday...) But try to find a dog sitter and you hear crickets chirping in the distance.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Old Dog, New Tricks

Once upon a time, my friend Kat(i)e said to me, "Emily, I got new mixing bowls, and I don't need the ones I have. They're perfectly good, do you want them?"

"Sure!" I said, not really knowing what on earth I would ever need mixing bowls for. I figured that at worst they would be a couple more things to throw on my Goodwill pile. At best, I might use them for....something. When I saw the mixing bowls (as she threw them in my trunk when I left her apartment after a fun weekend together) I noted that one of them was the perfect size for eating popcorn, so I was at peace with my decision to take the bowls.*

I later found out though the bowl was the perfect size for popcorn, it had these rubber things on the bottom that were somewhat heavy and awkward when sitting the bowl on your lap. So the bowls were relegated to a high shelf in my cupboard where I rarely (if ever) reached for them.

Last Tuesday night (in my new "baked goods as presents" idea for Christmas on a student-making-soul-sucking-tuition-payments budget) I decided to make biscotti from this recipe. Yum. I exchanged the pistachios for almonds, but otherwise left the recipe intact. And the instructions on that recipe are AWESOME. They spell out absolutely everything, so I followed them to the letter (and the biscotti turned out awesome. Funny how that happens.) I was pretty psyched to get started, but I will admit that I almost didn't when the first step referenced a hand mixer. Though I have one, I don't have an outlet in my kitchen to plug it into. (My kitchen is TINY.) I mentioned this issue to the boy and he said, "Do you have an extension cord?" And just like that, my problem was solved. (I have no excuse for not realizing this myself except that I was getting sick.)

So to use the hand mixer, I decided to pull out one of my mixing bowls. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for even remembering that I had them. And then I congratulated myself on my incredible intelligence when, while beating together the eggs and sugar, the necessity of the rubber feet on the bottom of the bowl immediately became apparent. Look at me! I'm a real baker!! I made biscotti and I used a hand mixer and a mixing bowl to do it! I rock!

And then last night, reality reasserted itself when I made key lime bars out of a mix that comes in a box. They were burned so badly they are inedible save for the three in the middle that I was able to salvage. Merry Christmas zlionsfan!! (Round two will be delivered - hopefully unburned - after the holidays.)

*And this is a big deal. Seriously. I am a black belt in popcorn eating. I take my popcorn very very seriously with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Finding the perfectly sized bowl to eat popcorn out of is my life long quest. It can't be too big, or it's too cumbersome. It can't be too small or you have popcorn spillage. It can't be too deep or you can't get the parmesan cheese out of the bottom when you're done. My parents have one that is absolutely perfect, but refuse to part with it because, let's face it, I didn't just pick this popcorn insanity up on the street. My father is also a popcorn fanatic, and no amount of pleading by his only daughter will make him give up the sacred bowl.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Death Becomes Her

I feel like I'm generally pretty healthy. I don't get sick often at all. In fact, I'll stand by that and say that 2008 was an anomaly. What with knocking on death's door in September, and then spending 24 hours in bed yesterday. I've been more sick this year than any other in recent memory. It's not fun. (But I will say that brief visits from boys bearing V-8 juice and cough drops are definite bright spots in the midst of sick.)

I'm back into work today, though I don't feel 100%. My head still feels like it's going to explode, and my throat still hurts, but at least I can swallow, move around, and somewhat concentrate today - unlike yesterday. My boss commented that I'm lucky that my body beat the sickness so fast and that it would take him at least three days. I wanted to tell him that it's merely my overdeveloped sense of responsibility that drags me into work today. If I thought I could, I would be back in bed with my flannel sheets and canine body warmers. Instead I just smiled and told him that I'm not yet all better, but I'm getting there.

The cruel irony of the situation is that after waiting for days for my grade after taking my final last Friday, it was posted at 8:00am yesterday. I got a text message from one of the guys in my class alerting me that grades were finally up and I could go online anytime to check them out.

Um, I don't have internet access at home.

So I just buried my head under my pillow and went back to sleep.

But I have no excuse for the fact that it's now 9:30am and I haven't yet checked to see how I did. Okay, I do have an excuse and it's that I'm a complete chicken shit.

So I'm sorry for the lack of posting. I was tired, and then I was sick. Let me get healthy and I'll be right back to posting...regularly.

Oh, and if you happen to get sick in the near future, I would recommend Blue as a great remedy. He doesn't actually make you feel any better, but he sure is cute to snuggle with.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Only My Future...

I looked over at my archives yesterday and saw that I already had ten posts for December. I thought, "That's about average for me. Maybe this month I'll be above average. What day is it?" When I saw that it was December 10th I was all, "Wait, what?"

And then I realized that I have a final on Friday. As in tomorrow. As in, approximately 24 hours from now. Ah yes. I wasn't kidding when I named this blog about procrastination. All that studying time? Used for blogging.

Well, blogging and MarioKart. See, I've been running the time trials on the Game Cube and trying to hit that shortcut on Bowser's Castle... Um, wait. You don't care. Right. But I will mention that I unlocked a developer's ghost on one track last night and I was inordinately proud of myself. This was at 11:08pm or so. I went to bed around midnight. Apparently studying isn't all that important to me.

I can't explain this study-avoidance anymore than I can explain why I have spent hours on this site or why it makes me giggle like a three-year-old. I guess this is more important than, you know, MY FUTURE.

So I then head over to this site. Each time I think of a drink that I order (no matter how sporadically,) I must go back to that site and see what it says about me. Apparently I am lame. (and not only because that site tells me so.)

I think I've reached the end of the internets. So I'm going to go study and prepare for my final that's TOMORROW. (yikes!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And Then There Were Cookies

After finally having all the necessary ingredients in my kitchen, I set about making pumpkin cookies that Molly so thoughtfully gave me the recipe for. To give you a clear picture of how I proceeded, I should explain how I bake.

Generally in life I'm pretty control freak efficient. In fact, I get irritated when I have to back track or do something twice. I block off a certain amount of time to accomplish a task and I generally get it done when planned. That is NOT how I bake. Since I have very little experience baking, I tend to block off entire afternoons or entire evenings to bake. I have no idea how long it will take, so I over-plan and build it up to a huge and monumental task that then, of course, never gets done because it's too frightening.

To combat this, what I do is TELL the recipient about the baked goods that they will receive at some point in the future. That puts pressure on me to not let them down and actually get down to baking. So that's how I get started. (It still takes a couple of weeks, but eventually I do actually bake.)

Once I'm in the kitchen with the ingredients, my baking process is something like this:

(Emily reads recipe)
"Okay. 2 1/2 cups flour. Got it." (Emily gets flour from cupboard and measuring cup from drawer)
"Wait, did that say 2 1/2 cups?" (checks recipe)
"Yes. Great." (measures out one cup)
"Um, What was I supposed to do with the flour again?" (checks recipe)
"Right. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl." (gets bowl from cupboard and dumps flour in)
"How much flour did I need again?" (check recipe)
"Okay. 2 1/2 cups. Right. I dumped in one cup, right?" (looks in bowl to gauge how much flour is in there.)
"That looks like about one cup. I need another cup and a half. Right?" (check recipe)
"Okay. Good. Wait - I am looking at the right amount of FLOUR, right? This is supposed to be flour?" (checks recipe [that now has flour all over it] again)
"Flour, check. What's next? Shoot! Wasn't I supposed to be pre-heating the oven?"

And the process repeats for each ingredient.

I wish I were kidding. I am obsessively checking and re-checking ingredients and sometimes STILL dumping in a teaspoon of nutmeg where there's only supposed to be a half teaspoon. (So if the cookies taste a bit, um, nutmeggy, that's why.)

Surprisingly, I don't freak out when I dump in the incorrect amounts of things. Unless it's a huge difference (like two cups of sugar instead of flour - THIS DID NOT HAPPEN) I tend to think it will be okay. A little of this, a little of that. Meh. If a little bit of vanilla is good, a little bit more must be GOOD. Based on the reaction to my cookies, I don't think the extra nutmeg really mattered. However, apparently I should have gone for a cup of chocolate chips instead of a half cup. (Note: I had some trouble mixing in the chocolate chips, so Chris may find that some cookies have the perfect amount of chocolate, and other cookies have, well, none.)

I also didn't know what it meant to "cream together" the butter and sugar. I ended up just mixing them into this weird consistency, and then calling to confirm that I wasn't doing something crazy. Turns out I wasn't. (Note to bakers - stop using weird words that mean "mix." You're confusing the laymen. And if "cream" doesn't mean "mix" then I don't really want to know what I did wrong. The cookies were fine. So there.)

Once I get to the mixing, I relax. That's the easy part. I'm always fascinated when the dough appears. Like I didn't entirely believe that it was going to happen. I have a hand mixer (I know. I don't know why I have one, but I do) that I generally don't use. After several experiences where various batters ended up on my ceiling, I prefer to mix by hand. I'm always so proud when the dough turns out. I feel like I should take a picture or something. Like I need a wall of framed dough pictures that I can title, "What I've made."

My first batch of cookies ended up gooey in the middle. I baked them until they turned a shade of brown that I was comfortable with, and then removed them. I noted the time so that the second batch would match, put the second batch in, and then began to obsess about how gooey was "too gooey." I think zlionsfan almost hung up on me. Here's a sample of our conversation:

"How gooey are they?"
"I don't know. But they're gooey."
"Are they still warm?"
"Well, they'll probably be fine when they cool off. You know, you can leave the cookies on the baking sheet and they'll cook a while longer, even when taken out of..."
"I know that. I know. But they're really gooey. Like, soft."
"Oh my God. They're probably fine."
"But they're really gooey. Like, not uncooked, but maybe they weren't done?"
"I don't know, really. Have you ever had gooey cookies? I mean, chocolate chip cookies are good when they're soft. But these are pumpkin cookies. What if they're too gooey?"
"They're fine. Just... They're fine."

What ended up happening was that the second, third and fourth batches of cookies ended up looking exactly like Molly's picture, while the first batch just seemed sad by comparison. When delivering the cookies, I made sure to put the first batch on the bottom so the good cookies had to be eaten first. Maybe they'll be full by the time they get to the sad cookies.

Once the cookies were done, and they looked okay, I was absolutely ecstatic. (I didn't taste one. Again, not so big on sweets, and definitely not so big on pumpkin.) But still, I told everyone that I made cookies (from scratch.) I was over the moon about it. My FedEx guy knows, the UPS guy knows...the boy got to hear it at least a dozen times ("Good for you, sweetie!") I was pretty excited. I mean, there was flour, there was sugar, there were other items, and then "poof!" there were cookies. I'm still amazed. I might try it again. After all, the boy did mention that he likes butterscotch. Any recipe suggestions?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Baking 101

It's funny what touches you, right? This is why I try to compliment as often as the thought pops in my head. Because you never know when one little comment will make a difference.

Like when I was moving. I enlisted the help of my single male friends well in advance. My thinking was simple - single male friends are strong, they are more likely to have weekend days free of commitments (sorry guys,) and they can be easily bought with promises of free food (and a healthy dose of "poor little me. The single girl with all this furniture to move...") I didn't ask anyone else for help because, well....moving sucks. One day about a week before the move, one of my married male friends (let's call him....well, how about "Brad"... because that's his real name and if I use a pseudonym I'll probably screw up and call him Brad anyway) nearly brought me to tears when he found out when I was moving (I thought he was asking out of idle curiosity) and said, "I'm free that day." I was almost speechless. I think I may have even stuttered in response. This was an offer that I totally didn't expect since he has a wife and a child and myriad other responsibilities that I'm sure take up plenty of his time, and again, let's face it, moving furniture is no party.

That sort of thing sticks with me.

So Brad has this particular obsession with all things pumpkin. In keeping with this "buy presents when they make you think of people" thing my mother raised me on, I tend to see a lot of recipes in the fall that involve pumpkin and immediately think of Brad. Last year it was actually a decadent "ooey gooey pumpkin cake" that my mother made that I just HAD to make for Brad. I don't even LIKE pumpkin and I thought this cake was excellent. (The reviews on the cake that I made were favorable as well. Woo Hoo!)

After the help with moving, well, I decided that the pumpkin treats will be an annual tradition. He made an impression on me, the LEAST I can do is bake him something to help curb the pumpkin craving. He seems uncomfortable with it (in that, "don't go to trouble for me" kind of way,) but he really gets no choice in the matter. His wife knows and likes me and doesn't seem to mind the treats (because, DUH, a single girl could get into trouble making baked goods for a married man without permission) so really, Brad is going to have to come to terms with the fact that if you're a good person, good things happen to you, even if you don't expect them, so just accept the damn pumpkin treats.

The problem is that I'm not a baker.

I come from a long line of non-bakers. My mother famously purchased the refrigerated batter from which one merely needs to cut off slices and bake to form cookes, and she ended up with one big pancake-cookie type thing. My mother cooks. She doesn't bake. I don't spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen, but I have definitely had more success cooking than baking. It also helps that I don't really have a sweet tooth, so really, unless someone can teach me to make fabulous sour cream and onion potato chips from scratch, I don't have the need to make my own snacks.

I decided that since I have a gas stove that is entirely new to me, I would start slow. The boy and I were going to dinner at my little brother's house this past weekend, and I decided to make cookies that I could take for desert. (Partially to practice, and partially because I think they need more refined sugar in their diet. ahem.) Since I was starting off slow I purchased the refrigerated batter, and just decided to add my own decorations so it was a little more than putting pre-made batter on a cookie sheet and baking for 20 minutes. Still. Easy peasy. They turned out tasting okay. (But apparently I needed to wait longer to put the icing on the warm cookies since it sort of ran everywhere and made a mess, and the cookies didn't LOOK as pretty as they could have. Meh. I never put a lot of stock in appearances anyway.)

While the Emily-proof cookies were baking, thoughts of my friend J popped in my head. She bakes. A lot. Specifically, she bakes for the person she's dating. Because, um, apparently that's what people do. (Oh shut up. Do I seem domestic to you?) So I decided to make some blueberry muffins for the boy (his favorite, apparently. Who knew?) These still weren't from scratch, but they involved mixing things in a box and then baking so I considered it one step up from the refrigerated dough cookies.

While the muffins didn't come out looking very pretty - they weren't rounded on top... they were more pointed... and not all of them pointed up. (Again with the ugliness of my baked goods. What is UP with that?) They apparently tasted fine since the boy shoved two in his mouth as we ran out the door, late of course, to get to my brother's for dinner. (And then he took the rest home the next day.)

So after two dubious successes, I decided to tackle the problem of Brad's cookies. They were from scratch (dun dun duuuuuuunnnn.) I had seen the recipe here and it didn't seem all that difficult other than it being from, you know, scratch. I had already mentioned the cookies to Brad, and his wife had said "yes" to the chocolate chips, so I had all the ingredients and prepared to get started.

Until I went to get the flour and realized that I had a bag of sugar, but no flour. Sigh.

(To be continued tomorrow...)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Coin Operated Laundry, Chubbiness, and no TP

I don't miss scrounging for quarters. I don't miss having to lug my laundry out of my house. I don't miss having to wait for the dryer. There is not one thing I miss about not having my own washer and dryer. Not one. A fact of which I was reminded this past Saturday when I lugged my bedspread to the laundromat to wash it.

I had to wash it because it was getting dirty, and I'm a little bit, um.... particular...about my bed. As in, it always has to be made, the sheets have to be just so, no one can make it but me, and I don't do dirty bedclothes.

Which is sort of a problem because, my dogs? They are so very warm in the winter. And also? So much cheaper than natural gas. So they snuggle with me and make an "Emily sandwich" and despite regular baths and generally keeping the dogs as clean as dogs can be, I am forced to regularly wash my bedspread (that does not fit into my washer.)

The boy pointed out the obvious dilemma here. Hate going to the laundromat, but keep allowing the dogs in the bed? To me, the solution seems obvious. When I find my permanent residence (and apparently this will be when I'm 50), I have to purchase a washing machine in which anything in my house, regardless of size, can be washed.

Apparently there is no end to the number of accomodations I will make to live with my dogs. I can't figure out how to get the boy and I to live together in harmony, but I'll bend over backwards to make my dogs comfortable. I think that says something bad about me. Meh. I'll think about it later.

Speaking of the boy, after having lived together and now living apart, I will say that though I complained (and complained) of his non-willingness to help me out around the house, now that he's not around I definitely notice the things that he DID used to do which I apparently never noticed nor gave him credit for. (This is for J and her relentless pursuit of making me see things in a fair and balanced manner.)

One of those things was replacing the toilet paper in the bathroom.

I never really appreciated the importance of this task, having never been stuck in my own bathroom with no toilet paper. Since it's now happened dozens of times in the six short months I've lived on my own, I can say that this is one thing I wish I could train myself to do. Either CHECK to see if I have any before sitting on the toilet, (how hard is that? WHY can't I get that through my thick head?!) or getting a new roll from the hall closet immediately after tossing the last used roll. Sigh.

Another one of those things the boy used to take care of was eating all the ice cream before I had a chance to do more than taste it.

Needless to say, the absence of that is severely affecting my chances of winning familial respect since I seem to be unable to resist the pull of my friends Ben & Jerry when I'm at the grocery store.

I have been seeing Jillian regularly, though. And I'm just going to say that her workout doesn't get any easier. At least the soreness has subsided. The first two days were the worst. Since then I've been feeling that tired-but-satisfied, sort of "watery" feeling in my muscles. You know, when they've been worked, but they're too tired to complain any longer. And even though I routinely refer to her as a bitch, I would recommend her workout to anyone. This week will be my first attempt to see her every day. (Last week was roughly every other day with the weekend taken off for good behavior. Obviously, Emily is lazy and this competition is not the motivator she was hoping it would be.)

I think that my weight complaints are beginning to fall on deaf ears, though. This means that I either need to do something about it, or stop expecting sympathy and "you're fine just the way you are" comments. Exhibit A used for drawing that conclusion is a text message exchange with the boy this morning.

Boy: "Good Morning"
Me: "Morning"
Boy: "How's your day going?"
Me: "Slowly. Oh yes, and I'm a cow."
Boy: "Mmmmmm.....steak."
Me: "Nice."

Tomorrow I'll post about my baking adventures over the weekend. I had mixed results. I can't post yet because Chris is a direct beneficiary of these adventures, and I know she reads this blog. Can't have her seeing her (husband's) baked goods before they're delivered...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Frigging Winter

I went out to my car Thursday morning and it was frozen shut. Literally. Like can't open the doors frozen shut. Like can't see in the windows or windshield through the sheet of ice frozen shut. Silly me hadn't put together how a light mist the night before and an overnight drop in temperatures MIGHT result in a car that's frozen shut. Especially if the owner of the car had been too lazy to put the car in the garage the night before.

I'm so glad it's winter. I mean, everything in my life is easier now that it's cold.

I have to wear more clothing, which means more laundry, I can only let my (short haired) dogs out for 2-3 minutes at a time when they do their business and immediately return for entry back into the warm house, and walks are pointless because it's basically me forcing the dogs away from the house as they try with all their might not to leave the warmth and comfort inside. Oh yes, and did I mention that since I'm all of five feet tall, I can't reach my entire windsheild to scrape the ice off? This isn't even considering the increased gas bill from heating my little home, the fact that my over-energized dogs are driving me insane, and the fact that once I've placed my butt on my couch under a blanket, it takes an act of God to get me to move back into the cold so I'm neglecting my friends.

That's it. I'm moving to California. I've got family there. I'm sure one of them would let me sleep on their couch (with my two pit bulls and a cat) until I get on my feet. Right? RIGHT??

Someone call the wahhhhhmbulance.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing to complain about. I've still got my health, my home, my friends, my family....etc. I know. I know. If this is the biggest thing I have to complain about, I live a charmed life.

But still.

I really hate winter. I just wanted to go ahead and get that on record before I start really seriously considering random places (that have so far been a pipe dream) for vet school (should I get in, which is a long shot...) A girl's got to aim high, right? But still...if I hate THIS winter, can you even imagine??

Boo. Dear May - hurry up and get here. The temperatures are only going to get worse, and I'm impatient.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Two posts in one day! I know. It's extraordinary. But then again, what just happened is so awesome that I want to make sure the company gets the proper good publicity...or at least all the good publicity that I can offer.

I had a nasty surprise at the end of November when I went to pay my cell bill for October. Since the car accident made me freak out I cried on the phone to my parents, my friends, complete strangers... And on top of that, I had to talk to the insurance company several times, not to mention the phone calls to lawyers... In all, I incurred $184.57 in overage fees on my cell plan. It was fabulous. My already tight budget was very upset with me.

I would have thought that I had no alternatives, and that sucks. But thanks to Candy's post earlier this year, I called AT&T and explained what had happened.

They waived ALL of the overage costs.

Now, granted, I've been a customer of AT&T for years. And when I incur overages that are completely my fault (ahem, text messages, ahem) I pay with no complaints. But since these charges were under extenuating circumstances, I thought that I would at least explain myself and see if anything could be done. Even if they had reduced the overages by half, I would have been happy.

I'm so grateful for both their assistance and Candy's advice to speak up. AT&T has a loyal customer in me for at least another contract term (and I even upgraded to the next text message package.)


When I was little, my mother would call me a lobster when I wouldn't share with my little brother. A lobster because I was "shellfish."

I'll admit it, my nature is to be selfish. I don't really like to share. But those early days of being mercilessly teased for being a lobster made an impression on me (because my brother was anything BUT shellfish - he'll still give you the shirt off his back) and now I try my best to go against that impulse whenever I can. I give as much as I can and as often as I can. There are just some things, though...

For example, remember when I was about to die earlier this year? Well, I have a friend who's taking the bio class I took last semester. His finals (there are two) for that class are coming up. He would like to borrow my flashcards for the lab practical. You know, the flashcards that I spent all that time making? There are permanent glue stick marks on my coffee table from those flashcards.

Additionally, the instructor for that class gives the students a packet of 260 multiple choice questions to study for her lecture final. The student has to look up all of the answers, but she pulls the 90 questions for the final directly from that packet. If you look up the answers, and learn the questions (like I did) you'll ace the final (like I did.) Of course, looking up all those answers makes your eyes bleed.

My friend would also like to have a copy of my packet. You know, the one with all the answers?

And I should just give all that stuff to him, right? I should just do it. I've passed the class, I don't need any of that stuff, and the only reason why I kept it is because I'm slightly OCD. The class isn't graded on a curve, so giving him my stuff isn't going to hurt anyone else. My friend is intelligent, so I'm sure he'll still study the material, I'm just helping him out. If I ever need a return favor, I'm sure he would help me out.... I should just give the stuff to him.

But I don't WANNA. That was a lot of work last semester.

But then, I don't want to be a lobster, either. Last semester was last semester and it's over now.

But - I suffered! He should suffer! No pain no gain, right?!

But I HATE the concept of hazing. That whole, "I'm going to make you suffer as I have suffered" thing bugs the heck out of me. Why would I subscribe to it?

Ack! I'm obviously driving myself insane. I'm just going to give him the notes and flashcards. Right? Thoughts?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I don't even like the Bears

So. That last blog post. Man. It was sort of a deviation from the norm, eh? I'm not quite sure if I should pretend like it never happened, or offer an explanation. I feel like I should react like a guy and change the subject abruptly by saying something like, "Hrumph... Well... How about those Bears?"

To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure what came over me. I was trying to explain to my friend...let's call her "Schmiane," that I generally don't feel comfortable posting "personal stuff" in my blogs. She protested that I do, indeed, post personal stuff. But I guess the difference is that I view what I post as anecdotal, not personal. Sure, you know that I'm going back to school, that I have a little brother, that I love my dogs, that I have a boy in my life, etc. But I try to make the stories entertaining and fun. I guess I don't generally feel like I'm giving you a commentary on what I feel about stuff that's personal to me. I mean, even when I was feeling the first signs of frustration in my relationship, I tried to give it a humorous spin. And when I post about my nemesis...well, I don't think it's PC for me to actually tell you the level of hatred I feel for that dog. Instead, I try to make it funny. So feelings, for me, are taboo. (As my other friend, "Schmeelionsfan" stated, "You have no problem discussing feelings, you just don't like to admit to having them." That pretty much hits the nail on the head.)

Unless, of course, it's jubilation over the outcome of a recent election. (Sorry Schmandy)

Immediately after I posted that last blog, I felt a bit uncomfortable. I considered taking it down immediately, but I had already left the immediate vicinity of the computer. I continued to internally debate about it when I went to book club and ultimately decided that it was done, and I would leave it. Then I got a call from a well meaning friend who had read the blog and was just checking in. This was exactly the sort of reaction that I had feared. I didn't want people to think I was wounded and bleeding and rushing to help me. I was all SORTS of uncomfortable with that scenario. So I made the biggest mistake of the night decided to discuss my predicament with friends in book club. Of course they all immediately wanted to read the blog and no amount of begging on my part could stop them. Since I had no way to delete it BEFORE they read it, I was sort of kicking myself for opening my big mouth.

I braced myself for teasing and planned on taking the post down in the morning. Instead what I found were cautious words of support. (Cautious because they knew that I was afraid of.) As the day went on, more comments appeared, and emails in response to my post poured in.

I began to readjust my thinking. These phone calls, emails, comments and offers to talk weren't pity, and they weren't bad. They were from friends who probably had some idea of what I was going through, but since I generally shut off the conversation with "I'm fine" or "We're fine" didn't have a way to offer support. The blog offered an opening, and I'm surprised and humbled by the number of responses I got. Apparently everyone already knows that Emily has feelings, whether or not she likes to admit it.

So, for better or worse, I'll leave it up. As one commenter said, should someone going through the same thing happen to stumble upon it, and it helps them, so much the better. I just hope that that person has as many great friends as I do.

So....Hrumph.... How about those Bears?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Mothers Do

Um, this is a bit long. Sorry. I'm wordy.

It's not rare that you would hear the words, "My mother's crazy" come out of my mouth. That's just frustration. A way to flippantly express the angst that most daughters feel for their mothers at one point or another. I don't really mean she's crazy. At least, not in the sense that she should be locked up or anything. Or that she's a danger to society. She's just sometimes a danger to me. (and as an extension sometimes a danger to my friends because I am in one FINE mood after she and I have a disagreement.)

It's just that she always has an opinion about everything. And once she had that opinion firmly in her mind (based on whatever facts seem to be very clear to her at the time) it is impossible to change. (Pot, meet Kettle. I know. I know.) The thing is, her opinions tend to be based on only a few insignificant facts.

But then, that's because a few insignificant facts about my life are all I will usually give to her. I mean, after one or two thousand fights, I tend to want to avoid such confrontations with her. So I just tell her as little as possible. Fool me once, and all that... I mean, I've got a temper, and the apple doesn't usually fall far from the tree. When my mother and I go at it, my father and brother usually leave the room and make sure a soundproof door is between us. My cousin usually gets a long day on yahoo messenger the next day as I try to figure out how to cope with full blooded Peruvians who are directly related to me.

So in the spirit of trying to grow, I opened up and talked to my mother when I was home for Thanksgiving about the whole story behind the boy (tears and all.) She's been cool (as in "distant," not "down wit dat") on the subject of the boy ever since I moved out. I know she doesn't quite get what's going on, and I KNOW she tends to see me as a weak victim (but I can't figure out wtf that's all about. Seriously? Does anyone else ever see me as a victim??) so I thought we would talk.

And talk we did. I poured it all out. (Warning: intimate details about Emily's relationship ahead.)

How he was a jerk when we lived together and I really needed him to step up. How he's since apologized and quit the job he hated. How he's making much less money, but he's so much happier. How we're talking through things much more thoroughly now. How I still don't know what the future holds, but I'm in no rush to the altar, and for now I'm happy that we're happy when we're together more often than we're miserable when we're together. (For a while it was a toss up.) I told her that what I love most about him is (at the risk of sounding cliche) that he gets me. He doesn't see my outgoing nature as flirting and doesn't get jealous, he knows that I'm hyper competitive and he's resigned to it, he knows that I spend twice as much time talking to my best male friend as I do all of my other friends combined and he's okay with that, and he knows that I'm insane but he's willing to work with it. He sees all of me, and he loves me the way I am, and I never knew how comforting/relieving/awesome that could be. Apparently all the things I see as flaws can't really be flaws because someone loves me completely despite all of them.

The things I question are, why are we happier now? Is it because we live apart? I mean, he helps me out more now than he ever did when we lived together. Why is that? Is it because he's out of that job he hated? Was he depressed in that job? Is it because my moving out frightened the heck out of him? Is he really growing up? Or do I just not see the issues that I saw so clearly when we saw each other all the time? Is he just putting forth effort now when he's afraid he's going to lose me, and if we move in together, will everything go back to how it was?? I think about these things. I really do. It's not like I'm thinking we're going to live happily ever after. I know we've got a mountain of problems to work through, and I know that if we can't live together, that throws a huge roadblock on any future I may be considering.

When I got done explaining all of this, I was breathless and teary. My nose was all red and snotty. It wasn't pretty. And basically my mother had this to say, "Emily, I just think he's too comfortable in the relationship. He knows that you're never going to leave him, so he can do whatever he wants and you'll always come running back to him when he snaps his fingers."

In the spirit of growing, I didn't yell, I just let out a resigned sigh and ended the conversation.

But then I thought about what she was saying. It's almost like she was saying what I was thinking (the putting forth effort thing) from a different perspective. She just sort of tweaked it so that apparently I am the hapless victim and he's got all this power in the relationship.

Hmm. When I think of myself and the boy, I tend to think of us as equals. A relationship is all about give and take, and all about compromise. Something we're getting better and better at. Well, at least I thought we were. Until, you know, my mother planted ugly seeds of doubt in my head. But then again, SHE doesn't know the ins and outs of our relationship. After thinking on what my mother had said, (one might say I spent time to "think on these things") rejecting them outright, rethinking, and generally driving myself insane, I finally brought it up to the boy.

After some immediate anger towards my mother (understandable) I sort of calmed him down enough to get him to see why I even brought it up. She took the same facts I already knew and just came at them from a different (albeit uglier) angle. After he adamantly denied what she had said, I pointed out why she might have the idea she does. I asked him about what really HAD changed since we moved out. How was I ever going to know that we weren't doomed to repeat the same mistakes? It was a very very interesting discussion that has actually been tabled until the next time we see each other. (We ran out of time. I tend to talk. A lot. News flash.)

I don't know that anything has actually been resolved, but then, that's not the point right now. The conversation was the point. The moving forward. The possibility that maybe things will be figured out someday in the future.

And that's what mothers do. Apparently even crazy ones.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


You know that feeling you have sometimes like, "I can handle anything. I'm in reasonably good shape. I'm of sound mind. I've got my health. I've got a good support network. I'm tough. Pretty much any curve ball that life throws at me would be handled in some shape or form?"

You would think that I would stop thinking like that after the car accident that pushed me to the edge.

Still, that's how I approached Jillian and her Shred. I believe my exact train of thought was, "Pshaw. I'm in reasonably good shape. Level One? Bring it."

Apparently I had chosen to forget the last three months or so when I barely moved off the couch except to walk the dogs. Or perhaps I thought that just changing my eating habits slightly to lower my cholesterol magically put me in better shape. Either way, I was delusional.

I had to stop during the workout (the twenty minute workout) twice. TWICE. Of course, both breaks were for less than 5 seconds because Jillian yelling at you from a DVD is only marginally less intimidating than what I would imagine it would be like to have her in the room with you. She said breaks for no more than five seconds, and I had no choice but to obey. (After watching the Biggest Loser one night, I casually mentioned to the boy that I believed Jillian's sole reason for existing was to make overweight people cry. It's true. I cried.)

After the workout, I had difficulty going down to the basement to let the dogs out. I then immediately fell into a 20 minute nap. No joke. Like, I sat down to rest for a second before doing dishes, and woke up in the middle of Jeopardy. Today I'm sore. It's not awful soreness, I can lift my arms above my head with barely a grimace, and I can navigate stairs with only marginal pain. I've had worse from other various workouts. The thing is that the other various workouts were for an hour or more. This was twenty minutes. I can't stress that enough. Twenty. Minutes.

I dread tonight's workout. Still, I'm stubborn. If I don't actually finish level 1 tonight, it will be tomorrow. I may die trying, but I'll finish.

Stupid family weight loss competition.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Well, another Thanksgiving came and went. I am grateful for so many things that my poor tryptophan addled brain can't possibly come up with a list. Friends, family, dogs, health, (lack of) wealth. The list goes on and on. I am especially grateful for this fabulous Thanksgiving break.

I went to my parents house where I did the following (in no particular order):

1) Ate a LOT of turkey
2) Watched a Dog Whisperer Marathon
3) Watched Notting Hill
4) Watched a Deadliest Catch Marathon
5) Watched three episodes (per night) of the best network show on air
6) Went bowling
7) Dug through the remnants of my youth
8) Watched part of Bring it On (hangs head in shame)
9) Watched The Karate Kid

Basically, my time was divided like this.

I did not think that I missed Cable TV. I thought the antenna fixed it. Apparently I do not know myself very well. (But I DO know myself well enough to say that I don't miss it enough to re-add it to the budget)

It was a very good weekend.

However, when digging through the remnants of my youth (which included, but was not limited to, old journals (that should come with a warning label that reads "DO NOT READ,") old yearbooks, pictures, certificates for monumental achievements) I not only felt the need to contact people from my past that I have no business contacting, I was once again horrified by the amount of weight that I have gained in the past year. Luckily, this horror was overshadowed by the weight my father has gained in the past year. (Whew. That was a close one.)

I have not yet come to terms with the idea that my parents will not always be around. However, I have come to terms with the fact that they are getting older, and massive weight gains for someone who is older (and has high cholesterol) doesn't seem like a recipe for success. I mentioned it to my mother who immediately agreed that since retirement, my father has gained significant weight. So I set about finding a tactful way to motivate my father to lose weight.

Which is how I became involved in a friendly family competition. One month, highest percentage of weight loss wins. What does the winner get? Respect. (Oh yes, and money.)

Before you are fooled by the "friendly" part, let me explain that my mother took over (somehow. I'm hazy on the details) and not only made the three of us (wait, when was she invited again?) weigh-in in front of each other (horrifying) but also recorded what we were wearing to ensure that the final weigh-in would also be fair. My mother is not the competitive one.

So this morning, I set about to get up early and do the horrifying workout video that's been masquerading as a coaster in my house for the last month.

Of course, I didn't actually use the video, but I definitely thought about it. Ultimately, I got up and let the dogs sneak into the bed for that extra hour of snuggle time instead. That seemed healthier.

I'm sure this competition will turn out to be a great idea. I'll keep you updated.