The "New and Improved!" Meme

I'm taking a few minutes of downtime before I go water plants for my mentor-of-sorts. The clouds seemed to have started lifting a bit yesterday, so thanks for your well wishes. I've got more anxiety-inducing stuff to deal with, but one day at a time.

WordGirl wrote this one--go here for the original blank one, with video--and it's a doozy. If I didn't know better I'd suspect she's writing a psychological observation paper on us or something. But ignorance is bliss, and so is this fun meme--my answers and commentary in bold.

1) The correct ratio of milk to cereal is:
a) 1 to 1 -- with exactly the same amount of milk and cereal left at the end of the bowl
b) 2 to 1 -- with a puddle of cereal-flavored milk left to slurp at the end of the bowl
c) [blank stare]
d) 1.5 to 1 in favor of cereal. In the pre-milk-allergy days, it was 1.5 to 1 in favor of milk. Haven’t quite warmed up to drinking leftover almond milk yet.

2) Bread crumbs in the butter is:
a) nasty
b) normal (and it’s toast or Wasa crackers)

3) Correct toilet paper installation requires that the paper emerge from the roll:
a) over the top -- it's more convenient (small hands, poor eyesight, esp. at 2 a.m.)
b) underneath -- it looks tidier when not in use
c) whichever way it can get to your posterior and/or naughty bits to do the job

4) Is the following an actual DeForest Kelly line? "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not an escalator!"
a) Yes
b) No
c) I think I've seen a total of one-half of a Star Trek episode, so. . . I'll take a zero, please, ma'am.

5) The best name for a dog is:

a) Bruiser
b) Neville
c) Foxy Brown
d) Kevin
e) I’d have to meet the dog first.

6) Stick shift or automatic?
a) Manual baby!
b) Automatic, all the way. (For driving in the ‘burbs, anyway.)

7) Michael Bolton is:
a) awesome
b) a hack (I believe the actual line is “no-talent a** clown”)
c) going to have to work on Saturday because his TPS reports are incorrect

8) You have ridden public transit in your home town:

a) a couple of times to avoid paying for parking when you party (go to doctor, same thing)
b) never -- that's why you have a car
c) almost every day since you've had a choice

9) Foods touching each other on your plate is:
b) irrelevant (Get over it, French people.)
c) Plate? You typically eat from something Styrofoam/paper that has a lid or handle

10) You read ____ books per month:
a) 0
b) 1-2
c) 3-4 (Needs little explanation, right?)

11) Pancakes or waffles should:
a) be swimming in syrup -- you like it sweet and sloppy
b) be barely kissed by syrup -- you like it subtle and nuanced
c) naked -- you're a purist
d) be slathered in butter and grape jelly
(Anybody else need a cold shower right about now? Just me? O.K.)

12) You have ____ close friends (with whom you regularly visit/chat) of differing ethnicity:
a) 0
b) 1-2
c) more than 3
d) define "close." I work in the most diverse department in my entire office.

13) "Intelligent alien life has visited and is now visiting our planet," is:
a) true
b) false
c) too scary to think about.

14) Your favorite ice cream flavor is:
a) chocolate
b) vanilla
c) other
d) You can't eat ice cream
(Does soy ice cream count? If so, my current favorite is cherry chocolate chip.)

15) Popcorn-flavored jelly beans are:
a) yummy
b) gross (not to mention a crime against nature)

16) Camping out in the summertime sounds:
a) awesome! Where's the tent?
b) disgusting! Can't we just hike and then check in to a B&B?
c) like dredging up the memories of too many camping trips from hell with my cousins.

17) At a weekend dinner party with close friends, you typically consume ___ alcoholic drinks:
a) 0
b) 1-2 -- it doesn't take much for you to get your buzz on and then you're set (I like staying in control of my faculties)
c) 3-4 -- you like to have fun but you chill out for awhile until you're ready to drive home
d) more than 4 -- you like to get your party on!

18) At a drive-through burger joint, you order:
a) a combo meal -- sandwich with fries and a drink
b) just a sandwich and a drink
c) an entree salad with a drink
d) a side item with a calorie-free beverage
e) (a) or (c) alternately

19) Kissing your sweetheart is:
a) essential -- it's one of the best parts about being in a relationship
b) overrated -- you can take it or leave it
c) something you miss
d) both (a) and (c)

20) You have been convicted of a capital crime (unjustly of course) and the guard has come to take your order for your last meal. You can have anything you want. What do you order?

Oh, heck, screw the allergies—give me a pan of tiramisu and a pot of coffee. And a soundproof room so no one can hear our joyous reunion.


Friday Five: A Preview

It occurred to me that I had meant to blog about my 15 year high school reunion from April, but that got a bit waylaid. I'm working on a few separate posts, so here are the reunion recaps' working titles, as this week's Friday Five.

1. Old and New Faces

2. Good Old "Liturgy"

3. Not the Good Old Art Room

4. Same Personalities, Different Reactions (to Me)

5. A Forgotten Tour

Sorry to be phoning it in somewhat today--work was especially trying this week and dealing with Princess Shortcut the Slacker had me near tears just about every night. But hopefully these posts will be interesting reads.

Alphabet Meme

I'm probably the last person on the WWW to do this, but I saw it at Amy G's and stole it (gasp!).

A. Attached or Single? “Attached” sounds so. . . surgical. Um, single, I guess.
B. Best Friend? Applications are being accepted at present. . .
C. Cake or pie? Pie, because it’s usually safer allergy-wise and not as sweet as cake. I like it when my mom makes apple or blueberry.
D. Day of choice? Yak Shaving Day.
E. Essential item? Bottle of water. I have one with me almost all the time.
F. Favorite color? Depends on the context but sky blue is nice.
G. Gummy bears or worms? Worms. When I was a kid a friend got a gummy bear stuck up her nose. Not sure how it got there, but the memory is off-putting.
H. Home town? I’m living in it.
I. Favorite indulgence? Salon pedicure. Not too bank-breaking.
J. January or July? Neither.
K. Kids? Not yet.
L. Life isn’t complete without? The silent e?
M. Marriage date? TBD!
N. Number of brothers and sisters? One of each.
O. Oranges or Apples? Oranges make better juice, apples make better pies. Tie.
P. Phobias? Balloons. Don’t ask.
Q. Quotes? One of my favorites: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
R. Reasons to smile? Too random to list, but a consistent one is when I’m on the road and I see a car with a dog sticking its head out the window.
S. Season of choice? Autumn
T. Tag 5 people: No thanks, not into pressuring my blogfriends.
U. Unknown fact about me? I had the lead in my third grade play. I was Miss Louisa who taught in a one-room schoolhouse and foiled some train robbers via a spelling bee.
V. Vegetable? Just about any of them as long as they’re not overcooked.
W. Worst habit? Staying up late when I know I'm tired.
X. X-ray or Ultrasound? (reaching, aren’t we?) Most recent was x-rays at my dental check-up. No cavities!
Y. Your favorite food? Too hard to settle on one, but Christmas Eve is one of my favorite dinners.
Z. Zodiac sign? Libra. Yeah, like you couldn’t tell.


Marking My Calendar

I have a student membership to the state's division of the ALA, and they sent around an e-mail saying that there will be a local screening of this movie in the Fall. Looks interesting. And, hey, if the audience is all library people, maybe I might actually be able to pay attention to it!

So Much for "Smart"

It already wasn't a great day--wasn't feeling well when I got up, but I went to work because the I.T. people had asked me to test a program they wanted to move to an upgraded server. It turned out that one of the I.T. people was out, and she was the one who had to turn off some e-mail notifications for the test (otherwise we get irate calls from management/lease people about fake deals). Add one slacker co-worker who was getting on my last nerve, and I was ready to go home. So I bailed around lunchtime, got stuck in construction traffic on my way to the post office to mail a Half.com sale (business is surprising brisk but darn it cost me $8 to ship a hardback priority to CA), ran into someone who knew my dad and asked why I wasn't singing at the other church site anymore (just when I'd stopped feeling guilty about not doing it anymore), and finally made it home. Ate lunch and conked out on the sofa.

I didn't even realize I'd fallen asleep until the cat woke me up with a loud demand at 4:30 for dinner. At which point I realized I'd planned to stop to get more cat food on my lunch hour, had I stayed at work. So I ignored and then avoided her as I mentally prepared myself to deal with the horrible pet supply store near me. I do not understand how one location can suck so badly when the one by my work (my usual one) is fantastic.

Tonight's experience convinced me that it will take a dire emergency for me to go back there ever again. Short version: their customer service is horrible.

Long version: I bought about 40-some cans of cat food and two non-food items. In the middle of ringing up the cans, the cashier scanned one of the non-food items and I noticed that the price did not appear on the screen. So I said, "I don't think that scanned right." She said yes, it did. As she was dropping the cans into the bag. I asked her to please be careful with those and her response was, "What do you mean?" I said I don't want to go home with a bunch of dented cans. She said they were fine. Yeah, fine--just like my blood pressure.

When I got to the car, I looked at the receipt, and sure enough, the one item wasn't there. It was a $10 item, and I briefly was tempted to just drive off. But I went back because (A) I couldn't live with myself if I let it go, and (B) I figured if stuff like this happens often enough the prices will go sky-high. So I walked back in with my bags and let the cashier know what happened.

Her response: "So, what do you want to do? Do you want to pay for it?"
Oh, for the love of- No, you crazy woman, I'm just coming back in to tell you so it's officially shoplifting. (Something I haven't done since I was three but that's another story for another time.)

So I paid for the item and hauled everything back out to the car. I looked at the second receipt, and I couldn't help my wicked grin.

I had been randomly selected for a phone survey about my "experience" today.

I've never dialed "1" (for bad, terrible, would-not-recommend) so much in my life as I did after dinner.


Your Daily Dose of Non-Profundity

Anybody else having trouble with comments on Blogger yesterday? I promise I was reading everybody's posts, but by the time I could comment today I couldn't recall what I'd wanted to say. (Probably no loss, really. . . not feeling very prolific or profound lately.)

Work continues to wear me down. Heck, the anxiety of whatever's coming with my field experience is wearing me down. Not being able to talk about it? Almost feeling like a fraud? At the place where I spend most of my day? Yeah, this isn't fun. Vacation in a week and a half cannot come soon enough, I tell you.

But one thing I did to cheer myself up at work--and to give myself a break from staring at the lovely Access-based program I manage and have been updating nonstop for two weeks--was visiting here. Younger Sister gave me a framed (her handiwork) comic involving the beloved "little pink sock" one Christmas. (If you click on the "comics" icons beneath the profile you'll get the idea.) I haven't decided which wall it's going on yet. I probably have about half a dozen or so more things to hang up. After I do that, and file away all the school stuff (and it seems to be scattered everywhere right now), maybe I can start thinking about inviting some guests. I'm not much of a party-planner. Well, let's say I have my doubts about my ability in that area, but maybe it's just lack of experience and nerves. There are good reasons for the capital I leading off my Myers-Briggs temperament.

Speaking of Myers-Briggs, I came across some funny (but accurate) prayers for each type, courtesy of Julie D. at Happy Catholic. Perfectionist--my parents noticed it when I was five or six! Hey, I'll take all the grace I can get this week.


The Fuzzy-Headed Friday Five

Thanks, A-Girls (Ashley and ArcheryChic22) for your well wishes. . . today was, well, a little better once I left work. My dad invited me to come to his office (and sometimes I feel so weird that I know hardly anyone whose parents haven't retired yet) and have lunch with him, so he could introduce me to the people at work. A lot of them already know Younger Sister because she went with him on their company trip in March to a nice tropical island. (Mom stuck around to help Older Brother's family with the arrival of the new baby.) Everyone I met was nice*, and yeah, I met Dad's boss--not as young as I'd thought he was, but his personality was exactly what I'd expected given the stories Dad tells. Not bad, just really straight-and-narrow.

The campus where Dad's office is located is interesting because it used to be a tire factory. Nope, I'm not kidding. In fact, prior to a fairly recent change in ownership, its name contained part of the factory's name. I still forget and refer to it by that name sometimes. The best thing is that it is very close to my parents' house, a major change from my dad's former commute to Delaware. Fewer tax headaches, too.

Speaking of headaches, that's part of what I'm dealing with lately. I think I'm just frustrated with work (I resent having a ton to do while the slackers cavort around, and the PTB's don't notice), and anxious about the (unsettled) future. (Not to mention that fantastic monthly occurrence which tends to make me a bit flaky/clumsy/moody.) So I'm trying to take it easy and do some things that might help me relax, such as. . .

1. (As I did last night) curl up with a good book. Finished that one and will be moving on to this which arrived today.

2. Exercise (but nothing crazy). Will be dragging myself out of bed tomorrow morning for yoga. This will be the first time I've been able to make it in a month. That will be good--I've known the teacher for a while and she has a very upbeat (but not goofy) personality. Just have to remember quarters for the parking meter--that tripped me up last time.

3. Play with the cat. Her new perch arrived today. It's interesting that she was all over it while I was assembling it, but now she seems a bit ambivalent. Maybe when I take away the old destroyed one, she'll warm up to the new one. A sprinkle of catnip probably wouldn't hurt, either.

4. Hang out with good people. I'll be getting together with a couple of former co-workers (L. and J.) tomorrow to see Get Smart. L.'s mom has been in the hospital this past week, and finally starting to do much better, so L.'s looking forward to some de-stressing laughs, too.

5. Go to bed early, and maybe dig out some alternative prayers/meditations before bedtime. I keep a few in my nightstand drawer so I can pick out something that suits my state of mind. I also have a journal in the drawer and sometimes I can scribble something out so it's not turning over and over in my mind while I'm struggling to fall asleep. (Did that last night, too.)

Hope everyone else has a relaxing weekend!

*As a side note, when we were eating lunch in the office's kitchen area, a fellow (young and good-looking) with a Slavic name and a slight accent came in with his lunch to watch the soccer/football highlights (there's a cable TV in the kitchen!). He sat with us while we ate, and the company trip came up, which led to talking about my sister who was remembered for her shoes (she brought the Fendi ones she bought in Rome in January) and how crazy it was that they were originally 800-some euros (not what she paid). Then he said it: "I would kill my girlfriend if she ever spent that much on shoes." Well, that figures.


Too Irritated/Irritable to Post

I'm going to go curl up with this book (funny stuff) and try to be thankful it's a short day at work tomorrow.


Even If I Cook in My PJ's

(Saw this over at Nina's.)


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

See? I'm a catch. . . for men in the 1930s. That explains a lot, doesn't it?

Actually, I just guessed at some of them--what I think I'd be like as a wife. I did check off the box that I tell risque/vulgar stories (but yes I do know the proper time and place). It's funny; even though I'm an introvert, when I get to my comfortable point in a group I can take risks. Like tonight in Pilates class. The instructor had this Morcheeba CD on, and for some reason the second track really grabbed my attention. The CD is short, so it repeats toward the end of class, and when the second track came up, I blurted it out.

Me: Does anybody else imagine drag queens lip-synching to this song?
Woman to my left: All of the songs!
Instructor: (face lights up) That would be awesome!
She then explained to us that she lived in New York for four years, and there was a restaurant/club called Lucky Chang's, where the "waitresses" really were drag queens. And she found some of them very convincing. Annnnd apparently they offered lapdances in addition to chinese cuisine. Huh. I don't think that's good for the digestion.

I might not be any slimmer but I definitely learned something tonight.


Meme: 20 Questions

WordGirl say we could play along with her game!

1) If you could choose one career, regardless of your natural-born talents/station in life, what would it be?

Bestselling novelist.

2) Do you have a tattoo? If so, what is it? If not, would you get one? What would you get?

I do not have a tattoo. At this point I don’t think I want one, but I don’t think the door’s completely closed on the option. It would have to be really small and really meaningful, though.

3) Movie theater or DVD rental?

Depends on what the movie is, but honestly there are few I’d deliberately pay to see in the theater. It’s good in the context of dating and socializing—I’m meeting some former co-workers on Saturday for movies and dinner, in fact. But I also like the advantages that being at home gives me, like backing a scene up, putting on subtitles if I don’t catch the lines—watching the movie (digesting it) at my pace. I’ve been watching portions of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont for the past three days. (Oh, all right, you caught me—it’s something I recorded on VHS. Might as well be an honest meme-er.)

4) What's your current pet peeve?

Oh, I’ve been stewing about this one for weeks now: “In Loving Memory Of.” Attached to a freaking car or posted on a firehouse sign or wherever it should not be. I could be way off, but I think the more appropriate phrase is “R.I.P.," or "Gone but not forgotten," even. You didn’t dedicate your ’89 Shadow or your firehouse sign to the person who died last week. I blame television shows where a cast member or staff member passed away during production, and the credits would have in the “in memory of” on there—they dedicated the show to the person. How hard is that to understand?

5) Fiction or non-fiction?

I have been reading way too much non-fiction lately, and serious stuff at that, so I’ve switched to humorous non-fiction. Fiction can be tough for me. I’m picky and I have a hard time suspending my disbelief and finding authors who write well about things and people I’m interested in (although I have read three in the Shopaholic series). As a teen I gave up on science fiction/fantasy and started writing my own, but now I realize I’d just rather be reading the YA subset—easier on the nerves.

6) What's your typical breakfast?

If I’ve made muffins (and I did last night—rhubarb!), then one of those and coffee at work. Otherwise, either a fruit and nut bar or (if time) cereal and almond milk. But regardless I always eat breakfast.

7) Vegetable you hate?

Cooked peppers—they don’t agree with me.

8) If you could magically play a musical instrument as well as a professional, what would it be?


9) Do you believe in luck?

I’ll use the word “luck” but most times I mean “providence.”

10)Are you overly concerned about your physique?

Probably more concerned than I should be. I was heavy most of my life, and while I'm not in terrible shape I’m not at my healthiest weight right now thanks to work and school, but I do feel self-conscious sometimes. I get a strong sense that people at work treat the better-looking people differently.

11)Cat or dog?

Cat overall, but love making a fuss over other people’s dogs.

12)Do you like manual labor?

I don’t mind it but darn I wish I could lift really heavy things.

13)If you are female, do you wear makeup?

Yes, but not a ton. At the very least I need undereye concealer or people will ask if I’m tired, no matter how well-rested I am. And playing with makeup can be fun sometimes.

14)(Male or female) Do you pluck or wax your eyebrows?

Pluck, sparingly. Mine are on the fuller side. I’ve had people fawn over my brows and say they wish they’d never plucked all theirs out. I have to thank one of my aunts for scaring me and my sister straight when we were kids.

15)What's your ultimate vacation?

Time spent in Barcelona, Rome and other parts of Italy, maybe Paris or London if I wasn’t homesick by then.

16)If you could retire to anyplace, regardless of money, where would you spend your twilight years?

Haven’t given any thought to that yet. Ask again later.

17)Who do you envy?

I have moments where I envy my sister—she’s taller, thinner, has more friends, makes more money, takes more trips—but at the end of the day, I can still beat her at Scrabble. Most of the time.

18)Do you wish you were filthy rich?

Only when the interest bill on my student loans comes (like yesterday) and when I see some of the elderly people at my church struggle to get up the stairs (wish I had money to install a lift or something).

19)Is your house clean and tidy or dirty and disorganized?

I’m going to save face and claim I can skip this on a technicality (no house). Seriously, I’m not a slob but finals time can render my place a study in entropy.

20)What do you miss about your twenties?

Probably only a few things: my first cat, (edit: she passed away) when I was 21; my friend who passed away when I was 26; my college mates who got married, started families, and fell off the face of the earth. And maybe having a LTR—haven’t really had anything like that since 29 and a half. That’s about it.

Have at it, if you like!


The Weekend, and Where I Am Now

Saturday night I cantored for Mass. It's not my parish but they are really nice. I mean, I lost my place twice during the Communion hymn (I think I got thrown off--my dad said he made a mistake while he was playing), but the people kept singing. And some people came up afterwards and said I did a good job. I know I'm hard on myself, but it is a paid job and I just know I usually do better. I just felt "off." (Residual creep jitters from the previous night?) My mom also came, so we went to dinner afterwards here. My dad had never been there before. He enjoyed his mushroom pizza very much.

Sunday was a catch-up day at home, including an added chore of cleaning up about a cup of oatmeal that spilled out when the lid came off as I took the container from the cabinet. I'm never buying store brand again. Took a card and some presents (aftershave, honey roasted peanuts) over to my parents' and had burgers with them.

In the middle of all that, my aunt (yes, that aunt) was going manic cleaning out her closets in anticipation of a house guest and made several phone calls demanding I come over that evening to try on clothes she was giving away. O.K., I did want to see the clothes, and I understand Father's Day doesn't mean anything to her (I'm guessing she didn't call my grandfather), but could I please watch my dad open his presents and finish my coffee, woman???

It was a sweltering 100 degrees in the upstairs hallway where I had to try on the clothes (full length mirror is there), and she doesn't know I'm trying to lose the "grad school ten"--but I held my own and fit into quite a few things (phew). At one point she said, "You're not as small as I thought you were." THANKS. The thing is, I'm petite; she's not. I'm broad shouldered; she's broad hipped. We're not even the same body type. So anything long in the waist is not gonna zip, and a lot of sleeves/hems are too long. And then there's the stuff that has been around for a couple decades now and should just be retired. In the end, though, I came away with three dresses, some sweaters, a pair of pants, a purse to match one of the dresses, and this amazing never worn blue top and skirt that have some sort of embroidered organza overlay or something. It was a shock to be able to zip the skirt, and the top--well, of course my aunt said it "always had been too big" for her. . . but no tailor would touch it. Score. They were originally over $100 each and she got them on clearance. I can't wait for the occasion to wear them. And if I can maintain some semblance of my resolve to get the grad school ten off, they will look even better.

Tonight I got my final grades for the quarter--A's in both courses. Yay! My GPA went up an entire one-hundredth of a point. Beyond that. . . I don't know. I feel a bit in-between right now. It's weird not to have to submit a paper or comment on a mountainload of reading. I haven't heard back from Prof. D. about my field experience for the Fall. Trying not to think about it but I really would like it settled. I'm still working on a major (but tedious) project at work and don't get vacation until July 4. But I'm looking forward to that.

In the meantime, there are some little things to settle. My apartment hasn't recovered from finals yet. . . but I am just too weary to tackle it. I don't know what it will take to recharge, but I think I need to. Any suggestions to tide me over until vacation?


Maiden Moment #701

Remember, dear blogreaders, when I told you about the exchange I had with my friend regarding the "short, blond hair, kinda dumpy" fellow who wanted to know if I was available? I hadn't given another thought to it after that, until tonight. When I was meeting my friend and his fiancee again at the same bar for dinner. And about 2/3 of the way through dinner, my friend did the thing with his hands that people do when they don't want to point--you know, that point-with-index-finger-of-one-hand, into palm-of-other-hand.
I leaned forward.
Me: What's up?
Friend: Remember my friend Dan who was asking about you?
Me: (eyebrow cocked) Yeah? (To myself: Ohhhhhh, Lord.)
Friend: He's walked by at least twice and hasn't stopped here. (This is strange because people who know my friend come up to him all the time to say hi, wherever we go.)
Me: (not sure whether to be relieved or weirded out) Uh, O.K.
Friend: Don't turn your head ninety degrees--he's sitting right there at the bar.
Me: Great. (To myself, sarcastically: SO glad I'm sitting on the outside of the booth with the bar directly to my right.)
Friend: I told him you were in a casual relationship right now [that would be the guy who stopped calling when baseball season started] and weren't looking to meet anybody.

For those who are fortunate not to have experienced the "creepy crush" phenomenon, those words aren't sufficient to deter the creepy crush guy. I would've had to be sitting there with a male companion, practically slobbering over each other, for him to get the message. Look, I understand that it seems hard to believe that the other person doesn't feel that same tingly feeling--I've been there, more than once. But how one responds to it determines the creepy factor and boy, was it up there tonight. No sparks, dude. I'm sorry. Get it?

The remaining third of my dinner, I felt extremely self-conscious. I also was annoyed because I couldn't turn my head to see the ballgame, which was shaping up to be a serious blowout. When my dining companions were ready to roll, my friend asked where I parked. In the back on the other side. He wisely took us ladies out the door going away from creepy crush guy so I wouldn't have to walk past him. They both offered to walk me to my car, a courtesy for which I was very grateful.

But I got about halfway home and still couldn't shake the feeling I was being followed. I'm back in my hometown and I take a lot of side roads even though the main roads are pretty much a straight shot. It's primarily to save me the trouble of having to make a left turn across a lot of traffic. But the SUV behind me kept taking the same roads I did, and I got a little unnerved. So I went past the turn for my pad and figured I would wander the mile and a half down the main road towards the township building that houses police headquarters. I was about two lights away and waiting to make a left. The car I thought might be following me went straight.

As I got clear of the intersection and cut up yet another side road so I could head back, I just thought to myself, I don't want to do this anymore. I can't do this much longer. It's really not good for me to be alone. But what can I do?

This whole event made me think back to Thursday morning, when I was starting on my commute to work, I was doing my usual morning prayers, trying to remember everybody who had asked me to pray for them, and for the millionth time I just lapsed into the whole tired "God please let me meet my future husband soon" path--but this time it abruptly went into a different direction: "God, please prepare me to meet him. Prepare my heart to be with him." I don't know where that came from, but I remember that someone I know likes to advise us single people not to pray for a new relationship, but rather pray that we be prepared for a new relationship. So maybe, in spite of having to deal with yet another creepy crush guy, something new is happening. That kind of surprise would be very welcome. Until then, though, I might just go hide behind the curtains.

It's a little safer there.

Friday Five: the Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything Edition

That's right, I went through with it! Here's what you wanted to know:

1. (from Nightfly) Do you find that it’s harder to post rather than simply commenting at all your regular stops—coming up with ideas and such? Or, do you find that posting keeps you from “IRL” writing (essays, fiction, etc.)?

That’s a very thoughtful question. As a new blogger, I’m not finding posting hard, I think part of the reason for that is the intent behind my blogging is not one of duress. I’m not pressuring myself to come up with a killer post, day after day. I mean, if stuff’s going on IRL or I just don’t feel I have anything substantive to communicate to my (tiny but wonderful) readership, I will refrain from posting. The real intent behind my blog is to talk about myself a little and express my ideas (in the hopes of being heard, and possibly understood). Rather than risk dominating or going off topic in someone else’s combox, I have my own space to use my voice.
Interestingly enough, and I may be an exception for bloggers, having a space for my voice has reawakened the more creative writing side of me—or at least given it a place to work while I’ve been drawing too heavily on the academic side for research papers and the like for grad school. I’m seeing an increase in writing ideas and a more writer-ly frame of mind, more frequently. So instead of sapping my inspiration, blogging has been fueling it. Also, as I go along and keep discussing my writing on my blog, there might be an opportunity to garner a little encouragement and support for my writing by others who enjoy writing and/or reading.

2. (from Ashley) How did you decide to go back to school?

Some days I’m still asking myself that question! Well, the short version comes down to the circumstances in my life at the time, my state of mind, and the grace of God. The long version: The circumstances were that in April 2005 I suffered my first and only really bad breakup of a long term relationship (post college), and it was extremely protracted and difficult to get over, especially because we had a ton of friends in common (not to mention he continued to behave like a jerk even though he chose to end things). My roommate didn’t like that I was grieving and staying home more often, and she claimed my cat bit her and tried to evict me—so I moved. Then the ex started dating someone I’d thought was my friend, not even six months later. So a majority of my friends who were better friends with the new girlfriend (and did not seem to comprehend how she had basically let me cry on her shoulder and had helped me move—yup, saw everything I owned!--to justify and help her go after him), left me for her.
On top of that, the workload at my job had become absolutely unmanageable and they wouldn’t hire anybody to help. I was barely allowed to take off for Christmas in 2005, and I didn’t see any way to get promoted and be treated better. So no friends, no love, and a difficult job all made me miserable. By January or February 2006, I thought, well, I have an English degree, and people always asked me about being a teacher or told me I’d make a good teacher—why not see what the requirements are to get certified? I asked my mom to ask her next-door-neighbors, a couple who I knew were teachers, about it. The wife asked, “Why not be a school librarian?” She herself had tried teaching English for a year, decided it wasn’t for her, and went back to school for master’s degree in Library Science.
When I spent a day with her, in her library at school, I felt comfortable and I thought, “This isn’t like standing up in front of a classroom”—which had not appealed to me all—“I could do this.” So I applied to school. And I prayed. One of my intentions in a novena for St. Rita’s intercession was that if was meant to go to school, that there would be a way to pay for it.
Not only was I accepted (without having to take the GRE), I was offered a fellowship that took care of about 25% of my tuition. Mom found a laptop on sale, and I said to myself, “I guess I’m going to school.” Maybe if I hadn’t lost just about everything, and felt I had so little to lose, I might not have taken the plunge. But now that I’ve done it, and done really well in it (we’ll see how much I’ve learned!), I think I am closer to where my talents lie, and hopefully happier times in my life.

3. (also from Ashley) How does your faith affect your life?

It may sound weird, but faith informs my life. It’s like an undercurrent going behind what I do, how I act, how I feel, how I respond to things. I pray several times a day, but not really as a routine (except the Morning Offering and prayers before sleep)—sometimes I pray behind the wheel (that commute is good for something), but it’s more like a conversation from the heart.
I wasn’t always strong in my faith all my life, and in fact I had a hard time as a teenager believing that God loved me. Today, I don’t doubt that—my struggles these days are refraining from telling God what to do for me and when, and trusting that God wants to give me good things.
My faith probably has cost me some friendships, and definitely some dates. I’ll never forget the time I hit it off with the friend of a good friend while a bunch of us were at dinner together, and the next day my friend said she’d check things out for me. When the report came back, it was not good. Why? “Because you want to raise your kids Catholic.” Meaning I go to church, I’m not going to do what’s expected on the third date, I won’t move in with someone, etc. I know, his loss. I can’t compromise. I’m not perfect, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I compromised what I believe.

4. (from WordGirl) How about something/someone totally out of character that you secretly like?

This was a toughie. It seems to me that I have pretty eclectic and off-the-beaten-path tastes, so one “popular” thing was surprised to find that I like is the TV show Ugly Betty. My parents like to watch it, so one night I decided to see what it’s about. Granted I think some of the storylines are downright silly, but the characters are interesting. I also can’t wait to see what dreadful costume Betty has on!
I still can’t watch more than thirty seconds of Gray’s Anatomy without getting hives, though. It was up against The O.C. (the fourth season never existed!!!) for a while anyway. (Uh. . . is being a fan of The O.C. out of character too?)

5. (also from WordGirl) [How about] if you would ever get a tattoo (if you don’t have one. . .)?

Like you, WG, I am “uninked.” Although it’s funny you should mention it, because I noticed in Pilates class on Wednesday night that my instructor has one on her back behind her shoulder, and for a brief moment I confess I did fantasize about getting one. But the desire passed. It’s not so much the pain but rather the permanence (in spite of what lasers promise) and the change in color (and possibly shape, ha ha) over time. I don’t think tattoos indicate a bad reputation or anything—although excessive ones seem counterintuitive to me in terms of enhancing someone’s appearance. One of the nicest people in my college dorm (at my second undergrad college) was a young woman who dyed her hair jet black and sported several tattoos. I always knew that when a convention was going on downtown she’d come back with a new one, usually small. My older brother has a larger one—comic book related—in a really dumb place that's hard to cover. I suspect he did it just to get a reaction out of our mom. (Too bad that wasn’t the worst thing he ever did!)

Thank you all for some very thought-provoking questions, and I hope the answers were at least half as interesting! That was fun to do, so maybe this Special Edition will make another appearance in the future.

On a more serious note, I got some bad news this morning about my great-uncle. Granted, he's 90, but he had been managing amazingly well (with the help of my cousins) in spite of the loss of my great-aunt (my late grandmother's sister) a few years back and not being able to see or hear very well. But he wasn't feeling well lately, and my cousin said the doctor thinks it's a recurrence of cancer and looking really bad. As in "maybe a month" bad. Cancer sucks. I am so bummed out--he's an awesome person. He often would bring us bread from his half-brother's Italian bakery. Such a personality--and he's seen a lot in his lifetime, too. Until about a year or two ago, he would travel annually to Holland to visit the families in the town his squadron helped liberate in WWII. Right now he's staying with my cousin and her family, and I guess we just keep enjoying our time with him for now (I bought him fancy chocolates--he's a chocoholic). And praying.


Nobody Made Her Move to Virginia

Younger Sister is a bit envious right now because she would have to drive a bit to get to a Wawa for this event. (Catchy songs, aren't they?) Something tells me the sandwiches down south aren't quite in line with her standards. Of all the things she left behind, I'd say Wawa ranks right behind her kitty.

I don't want to be mean, so I won't be telling her that's what I got for dinner on the way home from my doctor's appointment today. (Just wanted to make sure everything's fine before I leave my job and who knows what kind of health insurance I'll have after that. Everything's fine. Actually, he even said I look really healthy. Yeah, I'm just exhausted.)

Well, I'm off to work on those questions for tomorrow's Friday Five. It's gonna be fun.


Good News and Bad News

The Good News: After receiving the thank-you e-mail I sent, the high school librarian wrote me back and said she was looking forward to having me--and that she had big plans for me. I guess I'd better not let my brain atrophy over the summer.

The Bad News: We had a really bad thunderstorm last night in this area--trees down and power out for some homes. This morning they had a little graduation ceremony for the fourth graders at my nephew's elementary school (I guess it's good news that he passed fourth grade, so yay! to that), but his Social Studies teacher didn't show up. The principal immediately knew something was wrong and he called the police.

Apparently, when the power went out last night, the teacher and her husband started a generator, but for some reason they had it inside their home. (My dad guessed it was to run the air conditioning.) The husband died from CO2 inhalation and the teacher was airlifted to the hospital. The school is upset, the students are upset, the parents are upset. It's really sad. So if you could just say a prayer/have good thoughts for the family and the school, I'm sure they'd appreciate it.


Right Place, Right Time.

If my mom hadn't invited me to stop by for dinner after my haircut, and if I hadn't accepted the invite, I wouldn't have run into my mentor-of-sorts (who lives next door to my parents). She told me that the problems with the placement for my field experience (which seemed doooooomed last Friday) are on their way to being resolved and we're back on course. Yay. And yay that it reminded me I hadn't sent a thank-you note to the high school librarian from Friday, which I did tonight--and copied Prof. D. (in hopes she will realize she did not call me yesterday as promised. . . ). Is it just me, or is everybody a day behind in trying to get things done?

Don't forget--get in your questions before Friday if you'd like to get in on the Friday Five Special Edition. I've got two so far thanks to Nightfly and Ashley, so if you'd rather find out what you wanna know instead of what I'm gonna tell you, post or e-mail me.

Edited 06/11/2008 to add: Technically, Ashley left me two, and now WordGirl has left two--so come on and mess with this Libra--give me a serious case of indecision with all your questions.


The C-Note

In other words, the 100th post has arrived! Ashley just commemorated hers over at her little apartment by posting 100 things about herself. Wow. Um, I wouldn't know where to start. (And I did not know there were Catholic preschools around twenty-some years ago--mine was Lutheran.)

However, I would like to do something significant to mark this blogging milestone, so I have an idea. I'm going to loosen up the controls a little bit and let my blogfriends determine this week's Friday Five. And while I don't think people want to know 100 things about me, maybe there are at least a few things they wonder about.

So, how about it? This week's Friday Five will be the "Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything edition." From tonight until Thursday at 10:00 p.m. (Eastern), you the blogreaders can post a question here in the combox or e-mail a question to me (see sidebar for address). Anything relating to me or about me or anything I've talked about on this blog, or whatever. The usual rules of decency and confidentiality (e.g. no asking me stuff like what my real name is, or where I live, or what am I wearing--ew!) apply.

I will choose five questions and post the answers sometime on Friday, so get your thinking caps on and start typing out your wonderings. Please don't be shy--go for it!


Making up for Not Being "Angelic"?

You Are a White Rose

You represent youthfulness and purity.

Your vibe: Sweet and heavenly

Falling in love with you: is like falling in love for the first time

The beach quiz Nina did was a bit frustrating--I put people on the beach in the first question because I like people-watching, but that shouldn't indicate I'm a social butterfly. I like this quiz way more.
(Edited to add a hyphen between "people" and "watching"--I'm no exhibitionist!)


Evening Procrastination- I Mean, Reflection

I'm nursing a little bit of a sunburn (legs! forgot sunscreen on my legs! idiot!) after this morning's roasting hot yard sale at the local Episcopalian church. I netted around $35--not much, I know, but ultimately I'm happy that the stuff taking up space in my dining room/office is gone, and my mom's happy that a bunch of stuff taking up space in my parents' cellar is gone, too.

After having to get up early this morning, and cooking in the sun for a while, I'm taking it easy for a little bit. Not quite ready to go empty the dishwasher, or start on what very possibly might be the last paper I ever submit for grad school. (Yeah, wow.)

I might have mentioned that I recently switched cable providers--now my TV comes from my phone company, with a free movie channel package through the end of the year. Since I don't know the specific channels in the package, I haven't discovered them all yet. The surprise discovery this early evening was the channel that had a film (documentary, I guess) by Stewart Copeland (of The Police) from 2006 called Everyone Stares, and I thought it was fairly well done. As I was starting high school, I "found" The Police's music and was a big fan during my high school years (pretty much still am).

As the film was wrapping up, it occurred to me that around this time last year, I was seeing someone, the first person I'd really started seeing since a horrible breakup two years prior, and he happened to be a fan of The Police as well. I had a lot of fun riding in his car while listening to the box set, and singing along. I loved that we had this common bond. Unfortunately, that was pretty much all we shared, and I should have figured that out when he returned the copy of Rolling Stone featuring the band (on their reunion) that I'd given him, even though I'd said he could keep it. He also returned one of my CD's that I thought he'd enjoy while he was driving to his one-week trip to the Outer Banks.

He gave them back because there was only thing he wanted me to give him. In spite of the fact that I had been up front about my principles, and he'd acted accepting of it (as well he should have been, teaching at a Catholic school and claiming to be a practicing Catholic), it later came out that when he returned from the aforementioned vacation, he had made up his mind to look for someone else. And not mention it to me, and just stop asking me out and calling me once he'd found someone to "scratch an itch" (his words, not mine). After his "apology" (read: confession to make himself feel better and the source of the "scratch" quote), I reflected on the time we'd spent together, and I realized that he had made several attempts to get from me what he'd wanted--as if he could "convert" me somehow to his point of view by being aggressive, even at one point kissing me so hard that he'd knocked the back of my head into the wall. I'd chalked it up as an accident at the time--and stupidly even felt flattered that he'd gotten that excited by my hotness--but really he had been ready to do anything to get me through the bedroom door that was but a short distance from the hallway wall where we stood.

Now that I have some distance from the experience, I find it interesting that as a teacher he was uncomfortable with "Don't Stand So Close to Me," but he had no qualms wanting to take advantage of my inexperience just to deal with his own "temptation/frustration" (as the song goes). He didn't want to seem the "bad guy" by breaking it off, but really there was no avoiding it once he'd just dropped contact with me. He was fooling himself then, and subsequently when he thought he was redeeming himself by coming clean and listing all the horrible things he'd done. And had the nerve to tell me about the great new person he was seeing.

I'm glad to be away from that silliness, that immaturity, that selfishness. But it still haunts me a little. I lamented to my mom the other night that "I'm not 'dirty' enough for the guys who want to sleep with me after a couple dates, but I'm not 'good' enough for the really Catholic ones, either. I can't win." (To which a friend who is a marriage counselor says, "It only takes one.") Last night when we were sorting things in my parents' cellar, we came across some baby toys with which my sibs and I had played, and I knew that as much as Mom wanted to reduce the amount of storage, she couldn't bring herself to give them to my brother, because they'd be destroyed by his kids and/or sold on eBay by my SIL. It was hard to ask, but I did it. I asked if maybe she could hold on to them for my kids. She said she'd be happy to.

After her response, I apologized for not being married by now. That's what I feel like some days--regretful that I started dating later than most people my age. Thankfully I have a few supportive family and friends (including the dear WG who called the idiot that dropped me for baseball season "STUPID") to remind me that I don't have to apologize and should instead remain hopeful. And that it only takes one.


The Friday Five Tells a Tale (Tail)

On Wednesday night, we had quite a bit of rain, and although it was pretty humid it was still rather cool as well. Cool weather makes the cat whiny. She whines at me to go sit on the sofa, so she can curl up in my lap and sleep cozily. Well, this week did not give me many opportunities to lounge on the sofa, and that night she was out of luck.

So she climbed on top of the kitchen cabinets, where she could look down on me as I sat working on the laptop in the dining room/office. . .

. . . and she sulked, in "loaf formation," with her feet tucked beneath her.

She realized she could see out the patio door a little bit from her vantage point. . .

. . . but the hard work of sulking and craning her neck was making her a bit tired.

Zzzzz. . .


Hope you have a restful weekend!

Meeting Accomplished

Holy cow—the high school librarian’s intense, but in a good way. It's a striking contrast because I come from such a low-energy, PO'd workplace. Oh, yeah, and she's super smart. We'll skip over the fact that it took me an HOUR to get there from work (at least I won't have to do that again). . . I have to thank Lizzie for her prayers—I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was able to snag the only open visitor parking space, right next to a little red car with a bumper sticker that read, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you—God”! I guess the Lord knew I was coming.

The library is beautiful. Along with the standard library fare/stacks and computer rooms, there is a student art gallery and it is decorated throughout with students' work. (This appeals to me because art was the dominating force in my high school experience.) There's a lot of technology that I'd have to get up to speed on, but I'm a pretty quick learner with that stuff.

So I got about 25 minutes with her--she had to run at 3:00. I think I did O.K.—Prof. D. had told me to be myself, so I pretty much was. She said I should just let her know if it's something I want to do. . . which seemed weird to me. (Why would I have asked in the first place?) It's obvious she's been burned before by personality conflicts with student teachers—she asked me if I was scared of teenagers. Without missing a beat, I replied, “I don’t see any reason I would have to be.” Right answer. That’s one of those times I did O.K. just being myself and saying what I thought, without censoring myself. Whew. I think she's also concerned because she has a speaking/writing gig on the side. She mentioned she might be out pretty much every Friday on that front. But there's other staff in the library so it's not as if I'd be left to run it. She also mentioned a guest blog (Oo! Oo!).

I managed to snag Prof. D. when I got home (she just got into TX for a conference) and she was glad I went (and that I thought to call her afterwards). She's going to call me on Monday to go over in more detail what exactly is going down with the Field Study. She also mentioned that the school district for my elem. experience was giving her a hard time about setting it up, but she seems pretty sure it will get straightened out. I'll have whatever confidence/optimism drugs she's having.

So, I survived the meeting--the nervousness is starting to dissipate. Now I'm off to prepare for tomorrow's yard sale, and I am dreading the sizzle factor tomorrow. Stupid June. But it'll probably be fun anyway.


Chained to the Desk, Phone, Laptop. . .

I've had a lot on my mind lately--and it didn't help that this week my office started summer hours, where I go in earlier in the mornings (but we get to leave early on Fridays). It started with an e-mail last Friday from the fairly new director of my program at school. That would be the woman who refuses to talk to me on the phone and at the same time is not good with e-mail communication. Her e-mail told me that the school librarian at the high school where I applied for my field experience asked that I call her, presumably just to speak with me prior to accepting me for placement. Fine, I was expecting that from the discussion I'd had in late November with the professor who is the placement coordinator (Prof. D.).

So I called her at the beginning of this week, and it turned out she hadn't received any of the materials I'd done for my application, and that she wanted to meet with me in person. Once I finally got her e-mail right, I sent those out and crossed my fingers hoping that my intro letter played up my strengths and downplayed my lack of experience (something that makes me feel very insecure). I followed up with her about meeting her because I wanted to do that while she was still in school.

I will be flying out of the parking lot when work is over tomorrow, so I can meet with her. She said she has about a 40 minute window (which IMO should be plenty of time) to talk because she plans to be done at 3:00. O.K. with me. I'm having the usual interview-type anxiety, and on top of that, what am I going to wear??? I had a credit at one of the stores in the mall, so I went over on my lunch hour and picked out a pair of pretty earrings I'm hoping scream, "Responsible, intelligent, teacher material, right here." Or just make me look gorgeous--I'd settle for that. I just have to be careful that my entire outfit doesn't scream, "Interview!!!" because I have to go to work first.

At the same time, my mentor-of-sorts, who has not had a student placed with her before, has been playing phone tag with Prof. D.--who in turn sent me an e-mail that hints at "gloom-and-doom" regarding the viability of this placement. I guess she's concerned about the fact that I would be the first student placed there. I think it could be a great opportunity for both of us, but I just kept it neutral and encouraged Prof. D. to make the phone call happen.

In the meantime, speaking of making phone calls happen, Prof. D. asked for my number so she could go over with me what the field experience entails. 'Cause I don't know what my requirements will be at all. Will I be graded? On what? I had been planning to go to the local art-movie theater because they're showing Hitchcock on Thursdays this month, but I had the feeling that if I left home she'd call. Additionally, my group project is due tonight. I think it's done, but not everyone has reviewed it yet, meaning there's no consensus. So I'm monitoring the discussion board on that, waiting for a phone call that might not happen, and fretting about what I'll be wearing tomorrow.

And did I mention that after I'm done meeting with High School Librarian, I'm going to my parents' to help get things together for the yard sale I'm doing Saturday? And I don't know if anyone can lend me a table (or two) yet? And it's supposed to top 90 degrees on Saturday? (That's ten whole degrees hotter than today!) Man, I hope I sell out by noon.

Well, I didn't get to the movies tonight, but maybe next week I will. Luckily, I have a back-up plan to stimulate my mind: writing. Yup, I got a little more done (at the office--it's the calm before next week's storm) and I'm going to transfer it over to the iMac and expand it. Right after I decide on my outfit and check the discussion board for the millionth time.


More Reasons I'm Not "Angelic"

I found this story pretty funny.

I was fully prepared to make a subordinate--who totally screwed up a document's tables and insisted she "didn't click anything" when the safeguard warning requires a user to click yes--spend hours restoring said document's tables. (She lucked out and we were able to finish the document in another application.)

Friday after work I will be peeling out of the office parking lot to meet with the high school librarian who might accept me for my field experience in the Fall. And I can't tell anybody why I'm speeding past them.

I'm a meanie for chasing the cat back into my apartment after she bolted down the hallway when I came back in from putting laundry in the dryers. (When will she realize that the apartment door does not lead to what's outside the patio door?)

It's the last official week of classes and I have a really bad case of senioritis (at least I think that's what it is--I'm done with lectures and tests after this!).

Edited to add: And I just agreed to join a bunch of my high school classmates in going to a very expensive downtown restaurant (where one of our classmates is executive chef) next month. I guess all of Saturday's yard sale proceeds will be reserved for that purpo$e.


On Second Thought

Maybe I am a little evil for ticking off a seller at this site, where I buy most of my schoolbooks (yeah, stick it to the overpriced school bookstore!) and the occasional light reading. I had purchased a used non-fiction book recommended by Arwen that contained some recipes referenced in the chapters, and when I received it I realized that the former owner had brought the book into the kitchen to try them out, because the cover was a little cruddy and some pages were dog-eared. It wasn't in the condition promised.

So I left a neutral rating and said the book was grungy and needed to be wiped off. It’s the only non-positive rating I’ve ever left, and I didn’t do it lightly--I was specific about what I was unhappy about. I rated it neutral, not negative. So what does the seller do? Leave whiny, untrue feedback for me (claiming I was unfair and didn’t read that they said “as-is”--uh, no, actually, the description said “like new” and “excellent condition.” Baloney)--but gave me a positive rating! No damage done to me!

Whatever. (Or "whatevs," as tracey is wont to say.) You got paid your five bucks, you lying seller, so be on your merry way. Or sour way, if you want. And clean your darn books off before you ship them next time.

Not Evil. . .

. . . but apparently I need to hang around Nina more for her angelic influence.

How evil are you?