Monday, December 15, 2008

I mean it, lady. I'm not messing around.

There is a ladybug in my office. And she is driving me crazy. She snuck in a crack in the window and she canNOT figure out how to get back out. But she keeps slamming her bug body against the window in an attempt to osmote through the glass or something. How does she be so noisy?

I've been out sick since Wednesday. I don't often get sick, and when I do it isn't usually a debilitating kind of sick. Just a mild cold where my throat is scratchy and all that makes it feel better is eating. Your garden variety winter cold. With a funny twist. Which is that I always develop these awful sore places all over the roof of my mouth that feel like the top layer of has been scraped off. Like tiny cuts or blisters. And OH do they hurt. The only relief I can get is to breathe warm air, so I spend a lot of time in the shower or with a scarf or blanket over my face. And those things pretty much limit me to my house, on account of there not being steam showers in my office building. So I squandered away my sick days getting all pruny and watching HGTV with a scarf over my face. And I don't know, but I'm getting the feeling that you might ought to declutter before you try and sell your home.

I've only got to finish out this week before Christmas break. We're going to the beach with my family for New Year's. It is going to be magical. We love the beach. Also eating and shopping. Lots of both are in store. And if that bug is still here when I get back, well. One of us will be sorry. And I'm resolving not to be sorry in 2009.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Those glasses were so awful

I don't know about you all, but in my family, we are a real-live-Christmas-tree people. Well. My immediate family, anyway. So yesterday we went and fetched our Christmas tree. My parents and my sister and I have always gone to Hollow Creek Tree Farm for our trees. And in recent years, sometime around Thanksgiving, Daddy has tried to make a case for Making the Switch. He is ready for us to be a fake tree family. He's the one who gets to cut down our tree and lug it in and out of the house every year, and I guess it doesn't put him in the holiday spirit to get hay and pine needles all down his britches like that. But Mama always gives him the whatfor and we get a live tree and Christmas is saved. This year, though, it seemed like he had finally dampened her spirit. He said he'd do the whole tree thing IF the tree was for me and Mike, and they could finally convert and maybe just get a nice live wreath for the smell. And he almost had her. Until we cut down our tree and sent it off, along with that scary, scary saw they give you. And then Mama spotted a sweet little baby tree. And it was really sincere. So we trekked back for another saw, which was a little awkward. "So, we were just here, with the guy that made you pose for that goofy picture where we all look at the Tree Map and point in different directions, you remember, and you gave us that saw? Even though you were worried that we maybe shouldn't be trusted to operate sharp cutty things? Well, we are kind of going to need another saw. Heh heh. We just love trees!"

Then of course we had to go to Target for new ornaments, since the tree was so much smaller than Mama's usual ones and couldn't stand the weight of the 95 popsicle stick snowflakes and clothespin reindeer Emily and I made in 1st grade. It is here that I must admit that I do not derive any Christmas Joy from all those dang ornaments. Our tree is always beautiful, and I know Mama loves to have the ornaments that we all picked or made over the years, and that is what makes her love the tree so much. Still, I have made it clear to my family: Erin is not an ornament person. I will not be one of those moms who treasures every sweet ornamenty keepsake my children assemble. I cannot deal with the delicate wrapping in tissue paper of one million ornaments, each of which represents some special memory like the time I had to go first in that stupid gift swap or when Granny told me to pick out an ornament at the Dollar Tree when what I really wanted was those colorful plastic rocks you put in the bottom of a fishtank. (As a kid, I really loved small, brightly colored things that were completely useless and made a big mess. Also I used to collect pencil points. Why?) I don't want to sound scroogy, but I want my ornaments to match. I want them to come in those easy plastic trays with the indentions. Better yet, I want to just fling them all into a tub and not have to worry about precious things getting broken. If a shiny red ball breaks to bits, I can just go out and get another one at ANY STORE for next year. Is that wrong? Am I being an ornament snob?

I don't know. Maybe after I have kids it'll change. Surely my mama didn't grow up thinking "I can't wait to hang goofy, mismatched ornaments all over my tree." But I can tell you right now, I will never be one of those parents who lets their kid choose gigantic, hideous red-framed Nintendo glasses at the optometrist, no matter how much she insists that she'll never get tired of them. And it only took two years of looking utterly ridiculous to figure that one out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Mike. He is not going to like this one bit.

I'm not a low-maintenance sleeper. I have a variety of really adorable sleep quirks that my husband just could not be happier about. It's sort of takes the same amount of time to get ready for bed each night as it does to get ready for work each day. Except longer at night. Getting ready for bed involves several trips to the bathroom, ear plugs, 5 pillows, my own sheets and blankets, curtains and blankets to block out every conceivable speck of light, Special Prescription Strength Lotion (thanks for all the dry skin, daddy!), temperature requirements... it's a special time.

I'm not proud of it. I don't want to be one of those fussy people with a 42 Point Perfect Sleep Environment Checklist. But there you have it. I am one of those people. Luckily Mike is great about it. Plus he's not the one who has to wake up at 6:48 every morning. Although technically he is, since he always fixes my breakfast and packs my lunch for me and starts my car when it's cold. Basically he's a saint, and I'm making his life impossibly hard. But he gets to go back to bed when I leave. So it evens out. Anyway the point is, I get pretty angry if I ever have to get out of bed in the middle of the night, because it was so much work to go to sleep in the first place, and I hate to have it all undone just because I drank a 40 oz. diet coke a couple hours ago. So I've managed to master waking up just enough to make it to the bathroom and back. It's not a good time for, say, logical thought.

Well last night I woke up in the middle of the night because Mike was growling or mumbling something in his sleep. And I saw this creepy greenish light appear on his side of the room. I figured maybe he had been using his laptop before he went to sleep and just forgotten to close it or something. So I got up to go to the bathroom (where I have to keep my eyes shut, lest the seemingly constant brightness coming in the window wake me up to such a degree that falling back asleep is hopeless), and when I came back out I went to turn off his laptop. Only there WAS no laptop. So in my winning state of mental clarity and alertness, I started freaking out thinking I was dealing with some sort of ghost situation. Great. I'm going to die, and my pajamas don't even match, and I have no idea how to fight or defend myself, and Mike is going to sleep through the whole thing. (Which reminds me of another time I was half-awake and convinced I was going to die. We were in Mexico in this fancy 4-star hotel and early one morning I heard, like, seriously 300 gun shots. They went on forever and I just knew Mexican killers were running rampant through the hotel killing every American they saw. Lord was I panicked. I seriously thought it was going to be the end of me. And my dang roommate never even woke up! Hours later, somebody on the bus was like "Man, did you guys hear all those fireworks this morning?" Ha ha. Fireworks? It is funny you should say that, you know I thought I heard something. I just figured it was imminent death at the hands of ruthless killers in a foreign country.)

Well it turns out the green light was just the dang smoke detector. Low battery! ::blink:: Get up, people! ::blink:: I am going to die! ::blink:: What if there's a fire? ::blink:: Get me more batteries!

At least this time I didn't have to lay in my death bed panicked and sweaty for hours before I figured it out. And it didn't even take that long to go back to sleep. Where I dreamed that I was cheating on Mike. With my best friend from elementary school. Who is a girl. And her mom was like "Now, we're open about this. But I know your Granny would never go for gay marriage. Is there anybody else in your family we have to worry about?" Um, yes, just one other person.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving Miracle Complete with Unicorns

Oh brother. It's a dead zone around this office.

Ordinarily, there are 9 people here. Yesterday there were 6. Today, 3. I hate to see what tomorrow will look like.

So what I'm saying is, it's quiet. And boring. Because there is nothing to do. For the most part, my job is to do the research my boss asks me to, make the charts he needs, tweak the charts he needs, invert the axes, no switch them back, but now add footnotes and a trend line and do something about that yellow because you can hardly see it. But he's been out all week. Sooo.... ::shrug:: What am I supposed to do but watch episodes of Planet Unicorn and online shop?

Tomorrow it's Thanksgiving, and my mama and daddy, granny and sister, aunt and uncle, girl cousin and boy cousin, and mom and dad-in law are coming to eat All The Food There Is. We will have a deep fried turkey, a ham, dressing (baked in a casserole dish and cut in squares), homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh green beans, cornbread casserole, baked macaroni and cheese, broccoli casserole, sweet potato... something, cran-apple cobbler, cranberry salad, homemade pumpkin bread, homemade pie, homemade cheesecake, homemade pie and also some pie. And I think my mother-in-law is bringing some pie. We are a hungry hungry people. And guess what's the only part I'll be making. The cranberry salad! Oh people. This stuff is all right. And I'm going to tell you how it's made.

Grandmama mixes up some ingredients and then everyone dies of cranberry perfection.

Just playing. Some of them die from sheer amazement.

In all seriousness. What you do is:

Boil 1 cup of water. While you're waiting, open up a can of jellied cranberry sauce, dump it in a bowl and mash it to smithereens with a fork. Then stir a 3 oz. box of (sugar free!) cherry jello into the boiled water. Pour this over the mashed up cranberry sauce. Mix some more. Then add a drained (small/regular sized) can of crushed pineapple and 8 oz. sour cream and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. Mix all this together and put it in a (wideish, shallowish) pretty dish and stick that bad boy in the fridge till it sets. Overnight is good, since it takes a while. Then take it out and slather a container of (fat free!) Cool Whip all over the top. And stick it back in the fridge. Or serve it right up. It is sweet and tart and has nuts so you're getting a fine combination of flavors, and it works as a side dish OR a dessert. It's the cranberry dish that keeps on giving.

So. There you go. Make it and watch 'em die. Except no one should really die.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I so picked the right person

Did you ever do these in school? What fun.

Today it is rainy and blah, and I am again freezing cold. Being so cold causes my rings not to fit as snugly, which tricks me into thinking I'm losing weight. And I am okay with that kind of trick.

My husband went out this afternoon to pick up a couple things for the Birthday Weekend, including birthday cards for his dad and his brother-in-law. He called me to ok the birthday purchase (fancy new space heater for his dad's office/shed) and to ask if I needed him to get anything from Wal Mart since he had to go there for cards. Whereupon we agreed that we really hate card shopping. All that rhyming nonsense is just a crock. But you can't not get a card. I also asked him to get some chocolate and a couple zucchinis, and he just sent me a message to say that shopping for two good-looking zucchinis was like deciding which cripples he wanted on his football team. He cracks me up. I mean you just can't buy a sentiment like that in the card section.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Really all I care about is the parade

Right now I am typing whilst wearing one glove, on account of it is freezing here, but only my right hand is affected by the cold. Bionic left hand, perhaps? Odds are low. I can't even open tamper-resistant pill bottles. So you can rest assured, I'll never be falsely accused of waging biological warfare.

I had an extended weekend that lasted until this morning at 6:49. Which is the time I'm most likely to want to wage any kind of warfare. The long weekend was a magical time. My husband is working from home for the time being, so we got to spend a lots of extra time together. We saw Appaloosa, which was actually pretty all right, despite my initial misgivings that it was just going to be a boring old western. A good movie made better by the absence of obnoxious movie patrons, which we can all agree is an exceedingly rare blessing. And we went shopping and out to eat (my choices) and watched all manner of sports coverage (his). And now I only have to make it three more days until another weekend! This one will see us travelling 1.5 hours north for Mike's dad's birthday. We are delighted to be so close to our families, but we know it might not be like this forever. When Mike goes on the job market in a year or two, we'll have to move out of state, so we're soaking up the closeness while we can. Which contributed to the decision to host Thanksgiving at our house this year. I'm not nervous or anything. We don't have crazy families, and everybody's pitching in with cooking. So nothing can go wrong, really. We just have to obtain a dining room table and suitable seating for more than 2 people. Or enough sedatives that nobody cares that they have to eat on the floor. That's probably how the Pilgrims did it anyway.

Closer to Thanksgiving, maybe I'll make a list of All Which I Am So Thankful To Have and it can be a fun way to disguise me just talking more about myself. Or maybe I'll post a cranberry salad recipe that no holiday food arsenal is complete without. Or maybe I'll skip posting for several days in a row, tell a story about my weekend, and then hypothesize about posts to come. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last night Mike and I met my parents for dinner at a restaurant where I used to work. It was a good place to work, despite bad management and several unpleasant coworkers. Several of the other employees were in the same boat as me, working while they were in high school or college to earn money for clothes and food and entertainment and Christmas presents. Luxuries. So I made friends, and we had fun. And the money was pretty good. But there were also several employees with kids to feed and bills to pay. So there were two pretty clearly-defined groups. And the manager knew it, and played into the dichotomy. The 'front' manager, the one who interacted with us day-to-day, assigning sections and side work and end-of-the-night work, was especially bad about it. She generally gave the best sections to the people with kids and bills, leaving the less desirable sections for those of us who didn't 'need' the money as badly. She would give them easy work like restocking the beer cooler and wiping down high chairs, while the rest of us got stuck hauling massive trash bags outside to the dumpster or vacuuming the entire floor. It was infuriating and completely unfair. Who is she to decide who 'needs' the money more? Why am I working in a restaurant that rewards bad choices and punishes me for making good ones?

In many ways, I perceive the general principles and beliefs of the Democratic Party to be similar to that manager's. It's my understanding that one of the chief tennants of the party is that people should be equal. And I agree. Nobody should be considered any less valuable than anybody else. But I disagree with some of the ways the party works to equalize people. Progressive taxes. Subsidies. Affirmative action. Certain publicly owned and/or funded entities. Various trade restrictions. So I am anxious about the direction in which Obama will take our country. But it's hard for me to get really worked up about it. Because God is still God, even if the guy I voted for didn't win.

Still. Some people, from both parties, are going to be pretty insufferable for a few days. Or years.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, friends!

We've been trying to scope out how many kids live in our neighborhood. Which sounds creepy. But we just want to know how many trick-or-treaters to expect. It's a fairly new subdivision, and I think this will be the first year that there are more houses than empty lots, so it's hard to know whether parents are accustomed to taking their kids to church or grandma's, or whether they'll trapse them through the neighborhood in their light up sneakers wearing sweatshirts under their costumes thanks to the glorious 45 degree Fall weather we've been having, braving the construction debris in hopes of neighbors who buy the good candy. Raisins may be nature's candy but this is Industrialized Civilization, people, and the children want their processed sugars. So the cone of uncertainty persists. Will we get trick-or-treaters? Or can we eat all the candy we bought? Mike seems to be banking on a low turnout, as evidenced by the reeses wrappers in the trash.

Tonight we're having a few friends over to carve pumpkins and eat tacos. Mike and I are fairly laid-back, and one of the friends who's coming tonight is a bit of a Party Controller, so she's taken the reins and mandated that we all wear costumes. My sister and her friend (who's flying in tonight from Virginia) have come up with a stellar costume idea, further proving to me that she got all the genes that make you clever and hilarious. They're going as passengers from the Titanic: fancy gowns, pearls, and pincurls, topped with life jackets. Pretty dang clever, right?

So we're all going to go pick up the friend at the airport. In our costumes. Which are the same as disguises. To mask our real identities.

It promises to be a real Homeland Security Hootenanny.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Relatively speaking, I had a great day

This morning I heard a wreck happen outside my window. By the time I looked to see what had happened, one driver was out of her car, kind of stumbling around with her hands on her head. I could see that her airbag had deployed, but she was walking around and not visibly injured, so it was hard to tell if she was in pain or really upset about smashing up her SUV. Several people were close when it happened, so they rushed to help and make sure everyone was okay. The other driver, a younger girl who was probably on her way to class, seemend fine and was out of her small car making calls on her cell phone. (Sidenote: If I were in a wreck, I'd probably call my husband and my dad first. Is that wrong? Then I'd think "...911? I call 911 for a wreck, right? It's not really an emergency. But surely they'd have taught me if there was some other number. Are they going to send all the emergency vehicles as a precaution, or do I have to tell them if we need them? Do we need the ambulance? Maybe I'm bleeding internally. Is the car going to catch on fire? Do I have to pay if they come? No, that's what taxes do. What about a tow truck? Do I need a tow truck? I should call Daddy back and ask.") Lots of drivers honked when they drove past, as if the wreck was an unthinkable inconvenience to them.

A cop arrived, then a firetruck and an ambulance, then another cop and some wreckers. Several guys looked at, and into, both cars, examining the damage. The tow truck workers swept the road to clean up all the bits of plastic and glass and metal. Within an hour of it happening, everything was gone and back to normal. Except for the drivers in the wreck. I prayed that they wouldn't be injured, that they wouldn't stress about money or getting in trouble with their parents or being yelled at and that they weren't missing out on or running late for something important. It's hard not to be disappointed and angry when something like that happens. But it's even harder to have someone disappointed with and angry at you for getting into a wreck. Which is something I'll try to remember, hoping I'll never need to remember.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Because I likes to win

When I'd study about sunk costs in my economics courses, there was always some example about a nonrefundable expense. You pay for something in advance and then some conflict arises. People often decide to keep the (original) commitment because otherwise they'll have wasted their money (so the text reports). In economics you learn that one of the dumb things people who don't study economics do is look to the past to make decisions about the future, incorrectly drawing conclusions about getting their money's worth or believing that if they cut their losses, all will have been for naught. Morons.

So economists came up with a fancy name for teaching their moron friends to make a rational decision at a time when it might be hard to make a rational decision. Mostly they did it because they operate under the impression that people are rational, and when they aren't, it really throws a kink in the works. When other losers act irrationally and negate economists' very existence and basic principles, it gets 'em all worked up. Or they just have a good laugh at lesser humans' feeble minds. Either way, what they named the principle is sunk costs. What I like about sunk costs is that it's simple. In theory. When you can't recover costs you've already incurred, don't get all emotional about it and dwell on what could have been. You have to make your brain forget about the sunk costs you've incurred. Because the cost is sunk. Deciding to pay the cost was a different decision. You have to make a completely independent, different, new, unrelated decision about what to do next. The two decisions aren't linked. Nothing complicated about that idea.

What I don't like about sunk costs is that in practice, it's not always so simple. Isn't that always the way. For me, the problem usually goes like so: I paid for this entire plate (okay, more like this entire bag) of food; I have to eat it all to get my money's worth. It's just going to sit on my plate (fine, more like someone else's plate) if I don't eat it. It's wasted food; therefore, wasted money. Somehow I forget to make an independent decision about when to stop eating, and I also forget about how food has calories. It's true for other decisions I make as well. It's easy not to make a rational decision when money, or some other valuable resource, is involved. But I am hoping to make sunk costs one of the basic principles in MY life, so that's the idear behind the blawg title. I strive to claim victories in the name of sunk costs. And also any other kinds of victories I can claim.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I don't intend to talk only about food

We've had dinner with my mama the past two nights. My daddy has been working late all week, so he's been scarce until bedtime, and my sister works until 8 most nights, so my husband and I feel obligated to go and keep Mama and Granny (daddy's mama, who lives there too) company until daddy and my sister get home. It's only right. And delicious. Monday she and I cooked up some winning jambalaya, and last night she offered us spaghetti when we called from the grocery section of wal-mart to ask for the number to a pizza place so we could call in our order and pick up dinner on the way home. And it has been supremely nice not to have a sink full of dirty pots and pans to scrub or ignore at the end of the night. Whenever we go to Mama's for a meal, Granny always does the dishes. This summer she fell and broke her elbow, and for weeks all she would say is "I can't wait to get better so I can wash dishes again." She stores canned goods in her dishwasher, so great is her love of handwashing the dishes. Or perhaps her love of green beans, very young early peas, and canned pink salmon. Anyway, for dessert both times we've had some really great/guilt-inducing cheesecake. Originally, we prepared the cheesecake for some relatives, but then Mama got busy scraping popcorn ceilings and priming walls all weekend, and I got busy forgetting all about our ailing family members. So instead we ate it in their honor and vowed to make them another. And to actually take it to them. But for what it's worth, that cheesecake is the tastiest memorial I've ever eaten. I believe my sister put it best when she said, "the miles between us (the relatives and us) taste so good with cherries on top."

The weather has been pretty ridiculous this week, going from 40 in the mornings to upwards of 70 in the afternoons. Apart from being fairly lovely and typical fall weather, it really confounds mealtimes. In the morning all you can think about is hot, heavy, wintery foods, and by the time evening rolls around you're so clammy from the warmth that you just want to stand in front of the fridge with the door wide open and eat grapes. Where's the happy medium? Sandwiches? Burgers? Every night is like Sophie's Choice. Except the foregone meal doesn't have to die at the hands of Nazis, and instead of poisoning ourselves at the end, we eat dinner. And sometimes we let Bojangles' or the Target Cafe make the decision for us. You can see the haunting similarities.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall has loosed my shackles. And rurnt my bread.

It's finally Fall! No better time to start a blog, that's what I always say. In honor of the season, and because we had some brown bananas, I made a banana bread yesterday morning. It smelled truly magical and autumnal, but a critical error at some point in the process resulted in more of a banana burnt-on-the-edges, mush-in-the-middle square-shaped concoction. My husband ate some anyway, because he was starving, masking his disappointment for my sake. He tried, for me, which I will remember come Christmas. So because I like to cover things up and hope they get better while I'm not looking, then I covered it up and we high-tailed it to Atlanta Bread Company. A guy behind me in line had never been before, and was discussing the menu with his girl friend (relationship unknown), questioning the concept of a loaf of soup. I wanted to turn around and impart my knowledge on the matter, which is that the loaf of soup is God's way of saying to me, "Erin, I know the desires of your heart." But I refrained, fearing that he might then decide to order one, and I'd rather not jeopardize my chances during a busy Sunday lunch rush. So yesterday, for the first time in months, I was able to order a loaf of frontier chicken chili without funny looks from all the other hot, sweaty patrons and employees. Not that the looks stopped me before, but there's only so much judgment one person can endure, and all the sweaty gawking really saps my joy when I'm trying to devour a gigantic hunk of toasted sourdough filled with chili in the heat of the August sun. As I got ready for work this morning, the weather man reported that it was 39 degrees outside, and if that's not God saying "Well done good and faithful one" on my soup pick, then I don't know what is.

And tonight we're having jambalaya. Which I will recruit my mama's help in making, so that it does not go the way of the season's first banana bread (attempt). Good riddance, Summer. I'm done with you and your flimsy salads. Bring on the hot and hearty Fall food.