Thursday, September 18, 2014

this is the most i will ever have to say about a car

Mark Twain said that humor is tragedy plus time.  If that's true, then the events of the last week will be funny in, oh, six months or so.

Let me back up.

The oil in my car was changed on Saturday.  On Sunday, my new oil and I drove to my parents' house, a bridal shower, and back.  On Monday, I drove to and from work, and on Tuesday, I hit the road bright and early for a work meeting two hours away.

I wanted to be at the meeting early, so I left the house at 6:30, when it was still dark and a little bit rainy.  The weather cleared up as soon as I got on the highway, and for the rest of the drive I sang my heart out Carrie Underwood style and marveled over the beauty of both the sun and early morning fog rising over the miles and miles of farms I passed.

The training was actually taking place at a tiny church in a little town along the river, and as I pulled into the parking lot I was shocked at how much foggier it was in town than it had been on the highway.  I attributed the fog to the town being situated right on the river, and I sat in the car and did a quick email check and lip gloss reapplication before I got out.

And then I opened my car door and smelled a terrible burning smell.

That's when I put two and two together, and realized that the fog was actually smoke.

And it was coming from THE HOOD OF MY CAR.

So, I did what I do in questionable mechanical situations, and called Matt.  "Goooooood morning, you've reached Bill Clinton," he said.

(Here is where I should mention that nine out of ten times I call Matt, he answers as either a pizza place or a president.  One time he even sent me flowers at work and signed the card "Love, George Bush.")

"MATT, NO TIME FOR JOKES," I said, "I just got to my meeting, and there is smoke POURING out of my hood, yellowish-brown liquid spilling out of the grill, and it smells like something is burning."

"Uh-oh.  I hope your oil cap is on,"  said Bill Clinton.

My oil cap was not on.

And had not been since Saturday.
I had to go into the meeting so I asked Matt/Bill to text me directions on how to proceed and told him that I'd call him at lunch.  He sent me a list of things to do, and then I called my dad to make sure I was doing the right thing and also get his perspective on the over/under of my car catching on fire when I drove home, because sometimes a girl just needs to hear her dad say, "Laura, if you were going to combust, you would've combusted already."

When the meeting ended, a co-worker and I wiped oil off of the engine and other important looking mechanical parts with some towels that the town tax collector, who lives next to the church, brought over for me when he saw my hood up.

I like you, small town living.

Let me tell you, you know you have found a true friend when she stands in an oil covered parking space with you in her VERY FANCY Christian Louboutin red soled pumps that were a law school graduation present and wipes oil off of your car engine.

And then drives you to the Napa Auto Parts store in the next town so you can buy more oil, and laughs when you buy a funnel so you don't make a mess because HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR CAR?  IT IS ALREADY COVERED IN OIL.  WHAT ARE A FEW MORE DROPS?

When we got back to the parking lot, our administrative assistant, Betty, had called her husband, who works on cars, to drive down to check things out for me. And then his brother-in-law came by the church to see what was happening and I realized I HAD OFFICIALLY BECAME THE TALK OF MARIONSVILLE.

Betty even said, "When you girls went to the store, all the old biddies came out to see what was going on."

I think it was the most excitement Marionsville had seen in weeks.

It was a big relief to have an actual mechanical look at my car, and when I asked him if there was any chance the engine would catch on fire as I drove home, he said, "I think you will be fine.  The oil needs to burn off though, so if you see a little smoke, you're fine.  If you see a lot of smoke, you're on fire."

Words to live by.

I am happy to report that I made it home safe and sound, and my car appears to be none the worse for wear.

And tonight, I can even laugh about it a little bit.

Turns out Mark Twain knew what he was talking about after all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

on the plus side, at least i know she will always be honest with me about my wardrobe

Two years ago my sister was a junior in high school, which meant PROM.  Even though the prom wasn't until the spring, she started talking about it in the fall, and got a beautiful dress and finalized all of the standard prom-related plans well in advance.

And then, about three weeks before the prom, the school principal called all of the upperclassmen into the auditorium and announced that there had been a terrible oversight, and that the prom wasn't actually scheduled on the date they thought it was.   They had called around to all of the local venues, but there were none still available on that date, so the prom was postponed for a few weeks.

It is worth nothing that Emily attended an all girls high school, so please imagine the drama that followed a crisis of such proportions.  Emily remained remarkably calm about the whole situation, but things at school were operating at a LEVEL TEN on the drama scale.  She said that the entire auditorium cried when the announcement was made.

Faculty and students alike.

I do not miss high school.

It turns out that the rescheduled date was also the day of my cousin's wedding, so Emily went to the fancy wedding in the city instead of to the prom.  However, since she had the dress, she wore it to the wedding and looked beautiful.  It's one of my favorites ever.

This past year, the senior prom was scheduled (and confirmed, well in advance), and she wore this pink dress.

We have another family wedding in October, and the other day Em and I were talking about what we were going to wear.  I was in the middle of telling her that I hadn't decided on a dress yet, when her navy prom dress popped into my head.

"Hey," I said, "would you mind if I borrowed that prom dress of yours for the wedding?"


"What do you mean?" I asked.  "You wore it to a wedding!"


And all weekend it has made me laugh to picture my twenty six year old self wearing that frilly pink prom dress to a church wedding and country club reception.  The other guests would really think I'd gone off the deep end.

And evidently, Emily thinks I already have.

Friday, September 12, 2014

people have been mistaking me for a princess all week

When I got out of the shower on Monday morning, I saw that I had this message from Matt.

I'm not sure what makes me happier- the news of another royal baby, or the fact that Matt simply used "Kate," knowing that I'd know exactly who he meant.  We are both on a first name basis with the duchess.

Speaking of Kate, my engagement and weddings rings are at the jeweler for their six month check-up, and they may not be ready until SEPTEMBER 26TH!

It's a good thing I have this to wear in the meantime.


Monday, September 8, 2014

pinterest...i'm going there

Back in ye olden days of 2010 when Pinterest was invented, I created an account.  And then I proceeded to use it approximately never because if I needed a recipe I would Google it, just like the cavemen used to, and also I possess no desire to paint anything with chalkboard paint or complete a month of squats.  I even got engaged, planned a wedding, and got married in the year 2014 all without using Pinterest.

And then last weekend I went shopping with my mom and bought a chambray shirt at Kohl’s.  When I got home I started looking in my closet for things I could pair with it, and then I decided to turn to Pinterest for some other ideas and see if it lived up to the hype that you can find anything on Pinterest.

I sat on the couch and scrolled through page after page after page after page…after page… of ways to style chambray shirts.  I couldn't stop.  Matt was sitting next to me and after about fifteen minutes he said, “What are you looking at? The denim channel?”

All I’ll say is that twenty four hours later I was sitting at our picnic table hot gluing sticks that I collected from the yard to a glass candle holder. 

You could say I was bitten by the Pinterest bug. 

Not only has Pinterest provided me with three hundred and forty seven ways to style a chambray shirt, it has also inspired me to become more organized.  The other day I cleaned off the front of our fridge because it was covered in so many pictures and invitations and coupons and appointment cards and score sheets from the shooting range (don’t ask) that I was going a bit crazy.  I moved the invitations to the side of the fridge and organized the appointment cards on the front in date order (this is fascinating, I know), and THEN, I told Matt that he could expect a calendar to appear on the fridge in the next few days so that we always know what’s coming up. 

He mentioned that he’d made a dentist appointment for next week (COMING SOON TO THE FAMILY CALENDAR) because his tooth was bothering him.
It’s a tooth that has given him some trouble in the past, and since Matt doesn’t go to the doctor for ANYTHING EVER I knew it must be pretty bad. 

On the other hand, if I sneeze more than twice a day or think I feel a slight twinge of discomfort or anything out of the ordinary, I’m self-diagnosing myself via the internet with some terrible affliction and calling the doctor’s office requesting an immediate appointment.

Matt told me his dental symptoms and then he said, “I mean, I’ve been thinking about it and I decided I’m just going to tell them to take it out.  It’s in the very back of my mouth.  No one will ever know.”

Oh my.

Well, I’m going to need some time to chew on that. 

(I couldn’t resist.)

But rest assured that the appointment will be on the calendar.  And in the meantime, I’ll be searching Pinterest for home remedies.  You really can find anything on there.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

all in all, it was a good one

This weekend started out on a high note because on Friday morning, Matt was offered a new job.  It was wonderful, long-awaited news, so we decided to go out to dinner to celebrate.  He asked where I’d like to eat, but I told him that since it was his big day, he should pick.  After going back and forth between a few possibilities, he chose Applebee’s, which thrilled me because Applebee’s is one of my favorite places.  

I am very fancy.

We had a great time and a delicious dinner and were even feeling so philanthropic and flying high on the idea of a bigger paycheck that when we left the restaurant we decided to buy a bag of popcorn from the Cub Scouts who were sitting outside.  We selected a nine ounce bag of chocolate drizzled popcorn from the table and the little boy said, “Thank you.  That’ll be eighteen dollars.”


Matt was a cub scout and a boy scout, and to this day he recites that scout law on a very regular basis.

(A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.)

I’m not sure what is thrifty about spending eighteen dollars for a small bag of popcorn, but we handed over our cash and headed home with our popcorn that was most certainly made from the FINEST POPCORN KERNELS IN ALL THE WORLD.  We started talking about our weekend plans as we walked to our apartment, and Matt mentioned that he wanted to call and see if he could get in for a haircut the next morning. 

We were almost to our door when we heard our neighbor Carol scream, “MATT!! LAURA!!”

(Actually, she yelled, “MORT!” but I hesitated writing that lest you think I was returning home with a man other than my husband.  She calls Matt ‘Mort’ for reasons unknown, but we have been here for almost seven months now so it feels like it’s too late in the game to tell her his name is actually Matt.)

((That reminds me of a time in sixth grade when my math teacher, an Catholic nun named Sister Solange, would make the whole class go to the chalkboard to do our math problems, sign our names at the bottom, and then return to our seats so she could check them.  One of my classmates was named Stanley, but one day when he signed his name below his math problem, he made the mistake of writing the ‘l’ and the ‘e’ too close together so that it looked like a ‘k.’  And Sister Solange read it as “Stanky.”  She thought that was just the cleverest nickname and she called poor Stanley “Stanky” the rest of the year.))
Anyway, Carol is elderly so we thought she may have fallen or something had gone terribly wrong so we rushed back to her door.  She was coming outside and said, “I have just been waiting for you two to get home!! Your air conditioner made the biggest bang while you were gone!! It scared me!!   It was the loudest bang I’ve ever heard!!”

That was unfortunate news to hear since it was 91 degrees outside with approximately 110% humidity.  Matt briefly investigated things and sure enough, the fan was blowing but there was no cold air to speak of.  We called the landlord and then Matt immediately went into survival mode, and by that I mean he turned off all the lights, lit one small candle, and got out his flashlight and ham radio.

We hadn’t lost electricity, but he was so excited about the drama I didn’t say anything.  It was like his inner boy scout came out again.

The next morning, the HVAC guy showed up at the crack of 8:00 and informed us that the capacitor had indeed exploded.  He was able to go to the warehouse and get a new one which was a relief because the temperature was hovering somewhere around eighty five degrees and the surface of the sun.

Once the capacitor was fixed and the repairman and our landlord left, Matt picked up the phone to see if he could get in for a haircut.

Except the phone didn’t work.

And then we turned on the TV.  And it didn’t work either. 

All of our Comcast services were out, and since our cell phones don’t work in our apartment (hello cement walls), you could say there was some TROUBLE RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY.

Matt looked around and said, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to do some electrical work.”   It was at that moment that I decided to head to Kohl’s.

When I returned home, everything was back in working order.  The UPS man had even stopped by to deliver Matt’s benefits information for his new job, so I sat with him while he went through it and planned our next vacation in my head because TWO WEEKS, HOLLA. 

And then Matt got to the part about health insurance.  Let me just say that health insurance is not my wheelhouse.  In fact, when I was hired for my first real job, I received my paperwork and saw there was an option for a “cafeteria plan.”  And I brought that paperwork home to my father and told him I was so excited that my job included the option of lunch.

So I’m going to trust Matt to make the decisions in that department.

And I will stick to packing his lunches in my very own version of a cafeteria plan.  


Friday, September 5, 2014

i am still slightly concerned about the laptop

Emily is now two weeks into her college career, and I am here to report that we are all surviving.  For the first three or four days I texted her multiple times with various pieces of completely unsolicited advice.  When I sent her a message telling her not to leave her laptop on her windowsill if she goes out just in case it rains while she’s gone and some rain blows in, I realized it may be time to REIGN IT ON IN.

In addition to my completely rational concern about her technological equipment and its proximity to the windowsill in a rainstorm, I was anxious about her navigating that huge campus on her first day of class, and having approachable professors and someone to eat with in the dining commons.  

But the thing I was most nervous about?  Her first party.  She’s not a big party girl, but I know it’s only a matter of time until she goes to her first apartment soiree, and I just remember me my friends who spent a Saturday night here and there believing that there was no finer beverage than a plastic cup of jungle juice that was scooped out of a large Rubbermaid container of questionable history and cleanliness.


The other night I was lying on the sofa when got a text from Emily that said, “Hey, I’ll call you later tonight after I get home from the party.”  I flew off that sofa and tossed my phone to Matt and said, “Look. Em just texted me.  She’s going to call after the party.  SHE’S GOING TO A PARTY.”

And Matt smiled and said she’d be fine and that he hoped she knew to steer clear of the jungle juice.  A few hours later my phone rang.  “You were at a party?!” I said.  She cracked up.  “No! I was at the poster sale in the HUB!  Matt texted me and said to tell you I was at a party.  We thought it would be funny to trick you.”

They are a riot.

We were talking a few nights later and Em said she’d done four hours of chemistry homework that afternoon.  Matt asked her what a covalent bond is, and she responded with some scientific mumbo jumbo.  “She’s right,” he said.   “That’s a covalent bond.  It’s the strongest type of bond there is.”

Ok, now we’re talking.

In the last week I have told Matt no less than fifty times I’m so glad that we have a covalent bond.  He loves it, obviously.

I think this college thing is going to be good, for all three of us.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

i'm like the girl who cried snake

One of the tasks on my to-do list for this past weekend was to pull the dead plants out of the rest of our garden.  I got a lot done last weekend, but I jumped ship after my disgusting discovery of the herd of worms residing in it.  However, as Mark Twain says, “Humor is tragedy plus time,” so I figured it was time to crack a few jokes and get back in the game.

Or back in the garden, as it were.

Thankfully the worm situation was not as bad as it had been the weekend before, and in no time at all I had the rest of the dead plants torn out and the dirt and mulch overturned.  When I was finished I sat at the picnic table admiring my handiwork, and considered buying some mums for the fall to jazz the patio up a little bit.

A little later Matt asked if I would like to accompany him on a drive to a state gameland about 45 minutes from our house so that he could do some research for the upcoming hunting season. 

Let me take a moment to explain that this is my first hunting season actually living with a hunter, and I am quickly learning that the preparation to hunt is almost as great a joy as the actual hunting is.  Over the past few weeks, there have been hunting magazines arriving in our mailbox, detailed online research being conducted, and many a phone call between Matt and his dad planning their strategy.
I knew excitement had hit level 10 when I came home from work on Friday afternoon and Matt was sitting on the couch arranging his bullets in what appeared to be the male equivalent of a makeup case.

Since I love a good ride through the country, I was all in for the hunting recon trip.  After I showered and got ready, I walked into the living room wearing cute black shorts and a white blouse and a pair of turquoise sandals whose time to be worn is limited because HELLO SEPTEMBER.

You may want to bring some shoes and socks,” Matt said, “We might have to walk through cornfields.

I went back to our room and got my feet properly outfitted while I told Matt I had no idea how much preparation was involving in hunting.  “It’s like when you want to buy a new pair of shoes,” he said. “You go to the mall and look at all of the various possibilities, and then you go home and think about what you saw, and then you go back and make the commitment.”

Well now you’re speaking my language.

We set off on our adventure, but I had no idea the wilderness part of the journey was going to begin so soon.  As we walked down the sidewalk to our parking lot, you will never guess what slithered across our path.

A snake.

A real, live, not-a-worm, giant, long, scaly SNAKE.

I shrieked and jumped and watched it slither into our neighbor’s garden while Matt followed it saying, “now THAT is a snake!”

All I can say is that I guess my decision has been made about the mums.  

My gardening career is over.

And now I'm wondering if Matt could hunt this snake as well.