Sunday, April 12, 2015

i certainly couldn't give it up altogether

When I was a little girl, my dad would empty his suit pockets when he got home from work and leave any change he had in his pockets on my dresser.  After dinner I would count the change, and if I counted correctly I got to keep it.

If I counted incorrectly, I had to donate the money to the poor.

More often than not the money was donated to the poor, because differentiating between a nickel and a quarter and their respective values is evidently a task that I've struggled with since I was six years old.

One of my very favorite things in the world is Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee.  There is a spring promotion going on at the DD stores around here and iced coffee is just 99 cents plus tax.   That brings the total to $1.05 and you better believe that I have been taking full advantage of that sale.

Matt and I collect our change to use for special treats, and since iced coffee definitely counts as a special treat, each morning I grab $1.05 from our coin jar and get my coffee.

One day last week, I rummaged through the change jar for my coffee money and grabbed two quarters and a nickel.

For those of you playing along at home, that is only fifty five cents.

I drove up the street to DD and marched inside with my three coins because I was feeling so confident and superior because HELLO, I COME BEARING EXACT CHANGE.  And my superior attitude and  I placed an order for "iced caramel coffee with skim milk, sugar, and extra ice please."

"That will be one oh five," said the woman behind the counter.

I handed over my three coins and waited while she looked at them and flipped them over and over in her hand a few times.  And then she slowly looked up at me and said, "One dollar and five cents.  This?  Only fifty five cents."

And I have no reasonable explanation for why I reacted the way that I did.  I can only imagine it came from a place of deep embarrassment.

But here is what I did.

I pretended that I did not understand English.


It must have slipped my mind that just seconds earlier I'd ordered an iced caramel coffee with skim milk, sugar, and extra ice please which is a very particular order for SOMEONE WHO ALLEGEDLY DOES NOT SPEAK ENGLISH.

I made a few gestures with my hands and pointed to the parking lot like a crazy person.  And then I made the walk of shame to my car to scrounge up two more quarters because I'd been so confident in my coin counting that I'd left my wallet in the car.

And to top things off, as I made my shameful exit, the wind caught the door and it flew into the glass window of the store next door, so I looked like a crazy person who knows just enough English to make a very specific coffee order and has an anger problem.

I returned with two more quarters and a red face and sheepishly handed the coins to the lady behind the counter.

Once I had that iced coffee in my hands I literally ran out of the store.

Never to return again.

Because that iced coffee may only be $1.05.

But my pride is worth more than that.

And by "more than that" I mean driving a quarter mile further to the next DD.

Monday, April 6, 2015

we also found a deer skeleton, but there are no pictures of that

Matt and I went geocaching for the first time on Saturday, and we found one!

Well, we didn't actually set out with the intention of finding a geocache.  It was more of a happy accident.  As we were walking along the trail Matt pointed at something off in the brush and said, "Hey what do you think that is?" and I said, "Looks to me like a piece of PVC pipe someone just littered" as I marched onward because I was ALL BUSINESS about our walk.

But Matt hiked in to investigate further and it turns out that it was a geocache with a notebook and pen and some little trinkets inside.  We walked for two more hours, and while we didn't find any other geocaches, we did find some beautiful scenery!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

north, south, east, and west, spin the wheel and hope for the best

Last night Matt and I each made a bowl of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and settled in for an episode of Brain Games.

I believe the words you're looking for are WILD AND CRAZY.

The episode theme was "Battle of the Sexes," and obviously I knew the ladies had this one in the bag but I humored Matt and agreed to play along with the scenarios.

First topic up was spacial reasoning.

Welp, Laura Darling, OUT.

The scenario was, "Which set of directions makes more sense to you? Drive north on main street for two miles.  Head west on Pine Street, and then drive southeast on Maple Street.  You will reach your destination in two thirds of a mile."  

OR "Drive out of the parking lot and turn left.  At the grocery store, make a right.  Stay on that road for three stoplights, and then make a right at the bank.  Your destination will be on the left, just past the pizza place."


Spatial reasoning has never been my wheelhouse.  However, I believe I come by it honestly because when my mom is using a map, she turns it so it's in the direction that she's going.  And a few years ago my family was driving down to visit my aunt in Virginia, and my Mommom mentioned that whenever she's driving downhill, she feels like she's going south, and when she is driving uphill she feels like she is going north.

And I knew what she meant because I automatically assume that whatever direction I am driving is is north.  South is behind me, east is to my right, and west to my left.

In fact, as I was writing this post in my head while driving, I came to an intersection with this sign.

And to me, that just does not make sense.  If I am turning left, I am turning west.

I scheduled a meeting with coworkers this week and I sent an email out with directions to the office and the most convenient parking garage.  People were driving in from all over, but in my mind I assumed that they were all coming via the exact route I take.  And so I said, "When you're on 69th Street, turn left onto Chestnut Street (just past the Foot Locker) and the parking lot will be on the left."

And a (male) coworker emailed me back and said, "Assuming we're driving which direction on 69th Street?"



My sub par spatial reasoning skillz do not stop with driving.  When I was in college, I had a terrible ear infection and called home for medical advice and a healthy dose of sympathy.  I talked to my mom, and I presumed that she was in the living room.  When she asked me which ear hurt, I said, "Well, I guess it depends which couch you're sitting on."

Yes, because that would make a difference.

So all that to say Matt won spatial reasoning.

The second section was all about following directions and Matt and I are both Big Time Rule Followers.  If there is a rule, we follow it.  But I edged him out in the scenarios, so the game was tied up.

The third and final section was about memory.  I hate to brag but I am a memory WHIZ.  I remember everything, so it came as no surprise that I won each and every memory quiz and then gloated about how girls are the best and my fantastic memory put me over the edge.

Notably, there was no section on humility.

And then, because today is Thrifty Thursday, Matt decided to set up automatic payments for my student loan.  I prefer to go to the student loan website and pay my loan manually each month, because then I know it was done, and done correctly.  I don't trust automatic payments for the same reason I don't trust the check deposit app on my phone, and still prefer to take my checks to the bank and hand them to the teller like it's 2003.

Anyway, it turns out you get a discount for automatic payments so I agreed that we should give it a go because somebody's gotta put the thrifty in Thrifty Thursday.  And when I got out of the shower this morning I had a text from Matt that said, "What's your six digit pin for your student loan?"

"I don't use a pin," I said, "I just log in with my username and password."

"You should have an account pin too though.  It's six digits.  You probably picked it when you filled out your FAFSA form."

As a lady I hate to give away my age, but let's just say that FAFSA form was filled out NINE YEARS AGO.


It failed me.  I had no idea what my pin was so I had to call and reset it.

Pride comes before the fall.

I'm holding out hope that maybe someone will ask me for directions this week, and I will have the opportunity to redeem myself.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

i feel like i'm being watched

There are days when I have no idea what to write about.

And then there are days when inspiration literally lands on my doorstep.

Let me provide some background.

Matt is an Amazon fanatic.  Over the past year, I cannot even count the number of Amazon boxes that have been delivered to our house, and they've been filled with everything from khaki pants to Planter's Peanuts to water filters to engine gaskets to a case of organic white chocolate bars, even though we don't really eat organic white chocolate bars.

I was working from home one day a few weeks ago when I heard a knock on the door, and I opened it to find a delivery man holding an ENORMOUS Amazon box.  It was addressed to Matt, but I texted him to ask if he'd mind if I opened it, because is there anything better than opening a package?  I think not.  However, in the event that Matt had ordered a present for me, I didn't want to ruin his surprise.

It was not a present for me, so major bummer there.

But Matt told me to knock myself out and go ahead and open it, and when I opened the box that giant, plastic, freaky looking hawk was staring out at me.

And I almost had a heart attack.


The woman in the apartment below us has a lot of bird feeders on her balcony, which means that the birds sit on our balcony railing, and leave behind...well...what it is that birds leave behind.

It's not pleasant.

And they're not dainty, pretty, little birds.  They're enormous, gross pigeons that Matt calls rats with wings.

So this giant plastic bird creature was Matt's first move in a strategy to keep the pigeon-rats off of our balcony.  When he got home from work that night I told him very dramatically that, "THIS THING HAS TO GO OUTSIDE IMMEDIATELY.  IT CANNOT LIVE IN OUR APARTMENT.  IT DOES NOT MATCH THE DECOR AT ALL AND IT FREAKS ME OUT.  THOSE EYES FOLLOW ME."

Matt said he'd get a few bungee cords to fasten it to the railing and get it outside right away.  But not before he played a trick on me because the next morning I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped the light switch and this is what I saw.

I almost had a heart attack.

Mr. Hawk was in his new home on our balcony railing by that evening.

Except, instead of deterring the pigeons, he attracted them.  Like they were all old buddies.  Sitting on the railing.  Chatting about the snow and their wives and the stock market.

Needless to say, this camaraderie drove Matt crazy.  Now that the weather is (very, very, VERY slowly) warming up and we plan to spend lots of time on the balcony, Matt decided that today would be the day he'd throw down the decoy gauntlet.  While I washed the dishes, he went out on the balcony to fix things once and for all.  And he came back inside a few minutes later and triumphantly proclaimed, "He's like a real bird now! I rigged it so it looks like he's flying.  No pigeons will be coming to this balcony!"

"Woohoo!" I said, "that's awesome,"  and I continued on with the dishes. 

And then I finished the dishes and walked out of the kitchen and saw this.


That was not the solution that I expected.  And then Matt then taped tin foil all around the railing to deter the pigeons even more and I CANNOT EVEN TALK ABOUT THAT.

I had grand plans for the balcony this summer.  Some colorful Adirondack chairs and plenty of flowers and a nice citronella candle and maybe even some wind chimes.

And now I'll be working around our freaky hanging hawk and tin foil railing.

But at least there won't be any pigeons.

And that is, literally, a silver lining.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

i hope this post doesn't embarrass my parents

I woke up on the first Saturday morning of spring and saw this out my window.  I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  Come on, spring, get a move on.

I cheered up a little bit and then Matt asked if I'd like to go to the mall with him because he found himself in the market for some sunglasses.  I never turn down a trip to the mall, so off we went.  We wandered through Macy's and Matt said, "I wonder if I could get some cologne while we're here.  I've been thinking of getting some.  A nice musk."

Well, I couldn't have been more shocked if I'd see an elephant.

We got to the sunglasses and I immediately remembered that Matt has issues with sunglasses.  And those issues run deep.

Here's how I buy sunglasses.  I walk up to the $3.00 rack in Wal Mart and pick the pair with the most rhinestones.

Here's how Matt buys sunglasses.  He identifies a pair and then proceeds through a checklist that includes but is not limited to the following specifications:  They can't be too tight.  The arms have to be thin because he doesn't want to lose any peripheral vision.  They must have a very dark tint.  No aviators.  The nose pads must be comfortable, but not too thick so his nose doesn't get sweaty.  The tops of the glasses cannot touch his eyebrows.

He is like the Goldilocks of sunglasses.

After about fifteen pairs failed his test, I said, "Matt, what is it that you are envisioning?"

"Well," he said, "I basically just want to look tricked out."

Tricked out and smelling like musk.  He is full of surprises.

We left the mall an hour later without sunglasses or musk cologne and while the sunglasses search will continue, I think we may have dodged a bullet with the musk.

On Saturday evening we went out with friends, and I threw caution to the wind and had a giant iced coffee at 5:00 p.m.  So when we got home, sleep was the last thing on my mind and I decided to clean instead.

Matt turned on some music, specifically patriotic instrumental bagpipe music.  It's a long story, but basically thanks to St. Patrick's Day he is on a bagpipes kick.  

After a while we decided to take a little bagpipes break, and when I turned on the Eagles Pandora station, this song came on.  

My parents love Steely Dan, and growing up I bet I heard this song five hundred times.  I sang my little heart out and then pulled up my Pandora app so I could give the song a thumbs up, when much to my surprise I saw the title was "Reelin' in the Years."

I always thought it was "Reelin' in the East."

As in- I don't know what they're doing over in the west, but we're reeling here in the east.

You learn something new every day.  And on Saturday I learned I should verify song lyrics before I belt them out with confidence.  Who knows what else I'm singing incorrectly. 

Maybe Matt's onto something with the bagpipe music.

Friday, March 13, 2015

well, i won't be cooking lentils again

My sister was home for spring break this week, so I took a few days off work and we did all the important things like going to the mall and out to lunch and Sonic and Michael's Arts and Crafts.


It was back to reality today and I will admit, it was not my favorite Thursday.  Not only did I have to return to work after five glorious days of freedom, but I also cooked lentil curry soup for dinner.

As it turns out, I don't like lentils.

Or curry.

And most especially, I don't like the two of them combined in a soup.

All I have to say is thank goodness for that bag of chicken nuggets hiding in the back of the freezer.

It was my first foray into Indian food after quite a hiatus.  The last time I ate Indian food was sophomore year of college, when I went to an Indian restaurant with some friends and our waitress dropped an entire plate of tikka masala on me and my brand new cream colored sweater.

It was a bad night.

After my lentil curry disaster, I headed out for a walk around our apartment complex because HELLO, FORTY NINE DEGREES AND A 7:05 SUNSET.

This morning, Matt mentioned having a Thrifty Thursday meeting after dinner tonight.

Yes, that is a thing.  Matt coined the term "Thrifty Thursdays" a few months back and he likes to rendezvous each Thursday evening to discuss savings and stocks and insurance and budgets and make sure that we're both on the same page.

And I like to discuss the chances of me being able to to go into early retirement.  And by early, I mean sometime in the next 6-12 months.

Spoiler alert: it's not looking good.

Matt didn't mention our Thrifty Thursday meeting after work so I was secretly hoping he'd forgotten since I don't know how many times I can use the story that there was a sale I couldn't possibly pass up at Target/Macy's/Ikea/the nail salon before we have a needs vs. wants conversation.


He called the meeting to order (actually he didn't, but how funny would that be?) and 1.5 hours later I took it upon myself as co-president to adjourn the meeting.

I was experiencing information overload.

But speaking of thrifty, I bought a shelf at the thrift store last weekend for $2.00.  I got some paint at one of our many trips to Michael's this week, and for a novice painter I think the transformation was pretty impressive.

 (Emily helped.)

As far thriftiness goes, I think I have the arts and crafts department down.

Cuisine?  Not so much.

There are some areas of the budget where you should splurge.

And dinner is one of them.

Monday, March 9, 2015

i suppose you could make a writing/paper connection

Well, it’s officially been one year since Matt and I tied the knot.

We’ve come a long way in the last twelve months.  For example, I am now comfortable referring to Matt as “my husband.”  A year ago those words felt strange coming out of my mouth, which is why when I went to the doctor a few weeks after returning from our honeymoon and she asked me if anyone close to me was also sick, I said, “Well, no, not my…household member.”

Yes.  Because that’s so much less awkward than saying husband.

On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to take Matt’s car to the mechanic for an inspection.  It was ready a few hours later, so we went back to the garage to pick it up.  I stopped at my parents’ on my way home to pick up the top layer of our wedding cake, and when I got back to the apartment Matt still wasn't home.

How mysterious.

He walked in a few minutes later with two sandwiches from Heavenly Ham, and M&M luggage tags.

Because of course.

We had 7:00 dinner reservations, so we got all dressed up and then utilized the self-timer feature on the phone that I have just discovered because apparently, I am behind the times.

We were eating dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse.  I’d never been before, but Matt had been to a similar restaurant in the city for a work function and knew the ropes.  The first course was buffet style, and Matt cautioned me to save plenty of room for the meat that is served at the table, but a girl can’t resist potatoes and rice and sauteed mushrooms and tortellini.

In a moment of bravery I also put a quail egg on my plate which was a decision I’d come to regret.

If I never eat a quail egg again, it will be too soon. 

We went back to our table, and turned our cards to green, signifying the waiters walking around with gigantic meat skewers (I wish there was a more eloquent way to describe them) that we were ready for them.  There were 21 types of meat and over the course of the next few hours I bet we tried at least 15 of them.  After filet mignon and sirloin and bacon wrapped chicken and parmesan pork and salmon and leg of lamb I turned my card over from green to red because I’d eaten so much I could hardly breathe.

Matt kept his card turned to green, but gave himself periodic pep talks all revolving around the same theme of “pace yourself Matt, just slow down and enjoy.”

When Matt finally turned his card to red, we talked about how delicious everything was and how we’d absolutely, positively never been fuller in our entire lives than we were at that moment.

And then our waiter came back and asked if we needed anything and Matt promptly requested another round of drinks and the dessert menu.

I've never loved him more.

When we got home, we decided to keep the celebration going and exchange presents.  Matt told me that my present was so big he had to keep it in the downstairs storage unit, so while he carried it up I waited in the bedroom absolutely convinced I was going to walk into the living room and see a reclining chair.

I have no explanation.

I don’t even want a reclining chair.

As it turns out, it was a desk.  

Specifically, a "premium writing desk" so that I can be a premium writer.

I have been talking about getting a desk since we got married.  We didn't really have room in our first place, and since we moved here I have gone desk shopping about twelve times but haven’t purchased anything.

However, that doesn't stop me from frequently proclaiming "I WISH I HAD A DESK.  I JUST LOVE A DESK.  MY LIFE IS NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT A DESK."

A few weeks ago I told Matt that the traditional first year gift was paper.  And he said, “Well, okay, but do I look like a traditional type of guy to you?”

I am so glad Matt broke the tradition.  

Here's to year two.

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