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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

at least if i get lost in may, it will be warm outside

On Wednesday I had to go to a meeting in Center City, Philadelphia.

I considered taking the train, and even looked at the train schedule and consulted Matt about the location of the train station, the meeting, and the complexity of the navigation in between the two.

In the end, I decided to drive because I figured that at least if/when I got lost I’d be sitting in my warm car instead of wandering around in the cold, windy air.

I am all about comfort.

However, I was still a bit of a nervous wreck because if there is one thing I hate, it’s driving in the city. 

I prefer driving in the suburbs. 

With light to moderate traffic.

And no adverse weather conditions.

The meeting was at 1:00, and just 18 miles from my office.  Naturally, I left at 11:15, automatically factoring in an extra hour or so for the lovely combo of traffic and mistakes.   

Much to my delight, I made it to the city and parked in a Philadelphia Parking Authority garage with no trouble at all.  The meeting went even better than expected, and I walked out of that office building feeling like I was on top of the world.  

Unfortunately, things took a turn about ten minutes later when I realized the parking garage was undergoing major construction and the lanes were all mixed up.  I pulled out of my spot and promptly misinterpreted the lane to which the “EXIT” sign was pointing, and wound up driving the wrong way in a one way parking garage.

People were honking at me.  And flashing their lights.  And I just wanted to scream “I KNOW.  I REALIZE THAT I AM DRIVING THE WRONG DIRECTION.”

Eventually, and I do meant EVENTUALLY, I turned myself around.  It took a little while and a lot of maneuvering because the parking spaces were slanted so that they were aimed at people driving the correct way. 

I was never more thankful for my tiny Ford Focus and my sweet steering wheel agility.

Last night I got an email about the next meeting.

It’s scheduled for May, so I guess I better buy my train ticket.

(P.S. The meeting was in the same building as this one was a few years ago.  I am happy to report that I did not have any trouble with the elevators this time around.) 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

if i saw a penguin on the african savannah, i'd say more than oh my gosh

When Michelle and I we were roommates, we watched the show Shark Tank on a regular basis while lying around on the couch and going on and on about inventions that could have caused us to strike gold if only we'd pursued them and/or had an original idea that wasn't already in existence.

Like Michelle's idea for the iPod.

And the plot line for the TV show 24.

And the automatic card shuffler.

Basically, if it weren't for Steve Jobs, the Fox television network, and casinos, Michelle could be retired and a living a life of leisure by now.

Our favorite shark was Robert Herjavec, because of his blue eyes and wisdom and way of being kind but honest with contestants.  He also had a way with words, and our absolute favorite line was, "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness."  To this day, it's one of our favorite phrases.  We can find a way to humorously work it into any situation and text it to each other at least once a week.

Well, I am watching the Grammy's and during their duet, Rihanna and Kanye West just sang, "All of my kindness, is taken for weakness."

All I have to say is that clearly Michelle and I know genius when we hear it.

Also, hope you copyrighted that phrase, Bob.

On a Grammy related note, Sam Smith has just made his way to the stage to accept his fourth award of the evening and this is the first I'm hearing of him.  I've never felt more out of touch.

Perhaps that has a little something to do with the fact that I strictly listen to Pandora, and my stations consist of the following:

Those stations pretty much sum me up, from Dan Fogelberg to Disney classics.

Matt and I babysat our friends' little boy, Leo, this weekend, and last night at about 6:30 we were suffering from a case of "there's still HOW LONG until bedtime?" So Matt told Leo he'd turn on the happy song so he could dance.

Naturally, I was expecting "If You're Happy and You Know It" because, HELLO, OUT OF TOUCH, but Matt turned on Pharrell Williams' "Happy" since it's 2015 and evidently, he's in tune with pop culture.

And it was a crowd pleaser.

So much so that after about twelve times I suggested we give something else a try and Matt turned on a medley of the top ten Disney songs of all times.

That was also a crowd pleaser, if by crowd, you mean me and Matt.  Leo had zero interest.  But the two of us we paid close attention to that countdown and when number one came on the screen, we were both so thrilled that it was Circle of Life from The Lion King that we broke into song.

Since the first thirty seconds or so are sung in an African language, I usually just do my best to mimic the words as best I can until we can get to the English part.  And as I did that last night, I looked over at Matt on the couch, chanting with all the seriousness in the world,

"Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama."
"Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama."
"Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama."

Because for his whole life, that's what he thought they were singing.  And we laughed until I could hardly catch my breath and all day today Matt would look at me and sing "Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama," and it would crack me up all over again.

So maybe I'm not as out of touch as I thought.

And if I am, I'm in good company.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ice ice maybe

Well, I had plans to meet my friend Rose for lunch today, but woke up to an unexpected ice storm and all of the news stations were warning viewers to STAY HOME! DO NOT DRIVE ON THE TREACHEROUS ROADS!  After a few phone calls Rose and I decided that as delicious as the P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps are, they weren't worth the risky driving.  So we postponed our lunch date until next weekend and Matt I hunkered down all day.  It was the kind of day when I showered and got right back into pajamas, and the only reason to get up from the couch was to walk to the kitchen for a snack.

(Update: We were going a little crazy by mid-afternoon, so we drove to Sam's Club since it had warmed up outside.  We bought sandwich bags, two bottles of V-8 Splash, coffee creamer, and a broom.  I don't know how we were surviving without those items.

((Don't worry, I did change out of my pajamas for the outing.))

Speaking of ice, Matt and I went ice skating with my brother and his wife a few weeks ago.  That is remarkable because one of my biggest fears in life is maneuvering on ice.  Either on my feet or in my car.  I hate it all.  I am a girl who prefers dry surfaces and plenty of reliable traction.

Michelle loves to tell the story about how I left for class one morning during our junior year of college and she left our apartment a good twenty minutes later.  And who did she pass on College Avenue but ME.  I guess you could say that I was TAKING.  MY.  TIME.

Matt and I arrived at the skating rink first, and as we laced up I wondered aloud about who the first person was to say, "Hey, I've got a jackpot idea.  Why don't I attach a very thin blade to the bottom of my shoe and then slide around on this ice?"

Matt listened and then said, "I'm not sure, but right now I'm really wishing I didn't get rid of my skate hook."

I'm sorry, your what?

Evidently, Matt was quite the ice skater back in his youth and even had his own skates and a hook to lace them up nice and tight.  He would lace those skates up on Friday nights in 2001 and rule the rink.

This was all BREAKING NEWS to me, and suddenly I felt even more self-conscious about my atrocious skating skills because even though I told Matt to set his expectations for my skating abilities pretty low, I wasn't sure he was prepared for quite how horrendous I was going to be.

As the clock struck 7:40, the gates opened up for free skate and I managed to get myself from the floor onto the ice all while staying upright.

My sister in law was a figure skater back in the day, so she glided out of that gate and around the ice so effortlessly that it was like Michelle Kwan herself had graced us with her presence.  My brother was surprisingly coordinated on the ice for being a six foot seven guy who, on the ordinary day, is marginally to exceptionally clumsy.  And Matt was shaky for the first few seconds but then his skills from 2001 came right back to him because off he skated.

And then there was me, propelling myself around the rink by cautiously pulling myself along the boards.  After he finished his first lap, my brother skated up to me and said, "Laur! You're ice skating with your arms!"

As Matt approached, I push myself off the boards and right into him.  And I did not let go for the rest of the night.  I gained some confidence after a few laps (aka I was moving my feet a little here and there instead of just having Matt pull me along), and Matt said, "Now that we're going a little faster, make sure that if you fall, you clench your hands into fists so that your fingers don't get sliced off by the blade of a passing skater."


Just as he shared that positive little gem, we came upon a man pulling himself on his stomach to the exit gate with a trail of blood behind him.

Matt shook his head and said, "...and that's why you need to clench your fist..."

The good news is that I managed to stay upright the entire evening and left with all ten fingers!

Today's ice/rain storm has created a pond behind our apartment.  When I looked out the window a little bit ago, I saw two ducks swimming around.  Once Matt learned about our new neighbors he headed out onto the balcony with his new duck call and had himself a little practice session.

It's supposed to get very cold tonight, so the "pond" will likely be a sheet of ice by tomorrow morning.  Perhaps I should go buy a pair of skates and get myself out there for a practice session too.

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