Wednesday, December 29, 2010


With the exception of that hateful holiday kissing plant, I love everything about Christmas. I love that everyone comes back into town and I get to drink margaritas with my partner-in-crime. I love the many delicious foods. I love having two weeks off to see everyone and recharge my batteries...and log some extra time on the treadmill due to aforementioned treats.

And I love Christmas presents. Of course I do. I won't lie to you. (You wouldn't believe me anyway.) There is something deeply satisfying in choosing a gift for someone. But also? Opening a gift is a whole other delight. It's a very telling thing, to see what someone chose for you. What object made someone in your life say, "Hey now, there's something Amanda should have." (And in some cases, "Amanda will not hate this and I drew her name for Secret Santa.")

Which...makes Twin's present to me this year a bit puzzling. Twin regularly goes to the local antique store for my gifts--I have some sweet pink elephant bar glasses from one year. She selects awesome things, knowing my penchant for anything your average grandmother might have lying around. This year, she got me an awesome fortune teacup--it's covered in various symbols for reading tea leaves. This perfect. Well done, Twin.

But she also got me...this.

I will let you be the judge as to what this says about our relationship. For the record, we don't know these children. We only know this is from a Detroit-based photographer. I will go on a limb and suggest that these empty-eyed children are not, in fact, near the water watching sailboats. This was probably the most popular background for photos. Similar to the lasers for anyone in elementary school during the 90s. If you do know these children and are offended by my liberal use of the word "creepy"...sorry but seriously these kids freak me out.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weddings and whatnot.

So we all know I'm not a big fan of weddings, yes? (This is despite the fact that I'm pretty much a career bridesmaid at this point in my life.) Weddings are all about a lot of stuff that I find...irritating. They're basically one big public display of affection.
I'm less annoyed by marriage itself, if one can find someone tolerable enough to spend a lifetime with. Which is the part that becomes most problematic. But for people who find someone to settle for? I'm all for it! Do your thing. (And apparently I'm happy to stand up in your wedding.)

As you might have heard, Hugh Hefner is engaged. That's. Fine. I guess. Hugh, you're an adult and your ladyfriend tells you she's over 18 and that's good enough. I'm sure that once she picks slutty bridesmaid dresses for 15 blonde friends and moves her Barbie Dream House into the main bedroom at the mansion, you'll have 3-5 really happy years together. And then you'll get a timely divorce so she can move on and find a legitimate relationship.
But don't think, Hugh, that I'm forgetting about Holly. I watched multiple seasons of Girls Next Door and watched Holly devote herself to your relationship while she not-so-secretly hoped you'd marry her. Which you never did. You were Classic Male and Weren't Looking to Get Married. You never deserved her. She had visions of babies and marriage and A Life Together. Say what you want about Playboy bunnies but nobody deserves to be the only one invested in a relationship. I'm glad Holly got out.

I don't have a clever segue here and in fact was just telling Twin I'd have to throw in an awkward transition. Because that's what my seven readers have come to expect around here, dammit!

Not long ago, I was having a casual conversation with someone, probably about something boring like the weather or my job. This person ended up letting me know how they felt about gay marriage. I don't know how the conversation got there, but the moral here is that this person was pretty much 100% against gay marriage. They told me it was offensive to the sanctity of marriage. I'm going to leave this other person out of it now. Let's just say that I do not agree.
I would like to know when we as a population are going to stop assuming every straight marriage is a sacred thing. Hugh Hefner is just a very public example of something that happens in this country all too often--marriage as a joke. It is to this generation what dating was to previous generations. Something you do that can easily be undone if things don't go as you'd like.

And there's sanctity in that?

Supporting gay marriage does not mean you personally want in on that. (I certainly wouldn't want to marry a woman...they're crazy. At least men are a kind of crazy I can deal with. But plenty of women would like to, and good for them.) When I say I support gay marriage, I support the idea that every person gets to choose who to love and have the freedom to commit on any level they want. Being in a successful relationship has nothing to do with gender. It has to do with love, lowering your standards, and ignoring the nagging feeling that you're making a mistake.

So sure. Let Hugh Hefner and Miss December get married. I wish them luck. But let's not pretend that their marriage will be automatically successful because it's between one man and one woman.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Monday!

My brother texted me a strange picture on Friday. Something floating in a glass bowl? After squinting at it, holding it upside down and sideways, and generally wondering out loud what the hell I was looking at, I took the bait and asked.
"What am I looking at?"
"More to the point, what is looking back at you?"
I looked at the picture once again.

No. No, no, no. He did not. He did not text that. That is not what I'm looking at. That is disgusting, even by big brother standards. There is no way he would OH MY GOD HE TEXTED ME AN EYEBALL.

I should clarify, as he did for me--it was a cornea and some surrounding conjuctiva. I never got the full story as to what they were DOING at work (in a lab...I assume there was some medical reason for this scenario) but Brother apparently decided it would be one of my more unusual texts.

He wins the prize, there.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pre-weekend update.

So. Job. Yeah, that's pretty much consuming my life. Don't get me wrong--I love it! But it's totally taking over everything while I get settled in and find a routine.

But before I get back to that...a story in three acts.

1. Went to a family Christmas party last weekend. Quite a good time--ate, drank, made merry, etc. I also played Greedy Guts which is, apparently, a family tradition. Only among the women, though! I asked the men how they felt, having been shut out of this long-standing game. My answer was a resounding, "Why the hell would we want to play the women's game??" Hmm.
Greedy Guts, for those not related to me, is basically a white elephant gift exchange after half a dozen vodka and Red Bulls. Totally insane. AND AWESOME.
Walked away with quite a few gifts. Some good (The Italian Job on DVD), some lame (corn cob holders?). Some awesome (Fossil sunglasses!) and some totally annoying. (See photo.)


2. My mom loves Christmas. She also loves holiday decorations and/or seasonal decorations of any kind. So naturally, when the two come together...let's just say that our halls are decked. But this year, she's put some things in different places. And our bathroom counter is apparently now "where all the fake greenery shall live." And that's fine, except for it's not a very big counter and I put my curling iron there every morning. When I walked in that first morning, I looked from the crowded countertop to my curling iron and back again. It's not that I think she shouldn't be allowed to decorate however she sees fit, but I think maybe we need to evergreen it down before I set the house on fire because my hair needs a little body.

You should be concerned, bird.

3. Yesterday my classroom was the scene of an epic meltdown. Upon hearing the announcement that recess would be inside, one of my students began shrieking about Republicans. "WE CAN'T HAVE OUTDOOR RECESS BECAUSE THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR WON'T LET US!"


I...I don't even know what to tell you. I could not believe what was happening. I sent him down to the office to have his meltdown because he would not stop yelling about the Republican governor. Apparently he thinks that the governor sits up in Lansing and evilly ponders whether or not elementary school students will have to suffer the horrors of inside recess. As if the state of Michigan would bump that to the top of the agenda. The Republican governor who, by the way, has not yet taken office. Maybe that's the biggest decision they'll let him make pre-inauguration?

You cannot make this stuff up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Working hard.

As I write lesson plans today, I have on SoapNet to watch old episodes of One Tree Hill. (Judge me all you want, but that show is good.) But the episode that just ended, from season 5 in case you also enjoy One Tree Hill and would like to follow along with my rant, contains a major relationship mistake. (Ok, probably more than that but let's stay focused.)
Background: In an earlier episode, Lucas proposed to Peyton and she freaked out at the commitment involved. (Nothing wrong with that!) They stopped seeing each other and he got involved with another girl. (I don't want to talk about that.)
Anyway. In this episode, we learn that Lucas has proposed to New Girl! (Blech.) Using Peyton's engagement ring. Seriously. He proposed to a second girl using the first ring. Which, sure, he already had it and blah blah THAT IS NOT THE DREAM. Gentlemen, take note. If we have put up with you long enough to consider marrying you, we want our own ring! We don't want the She Said No ring from your past. We don't want the Well I Have This Ring So Maybe I Will Propose ring. We. Want. Our. Own. Ring. I think that should be very clear, in case anyone was hesitant.

Bonus: this season gets into the psycho nanny storyline.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No seriously, I'm not done with this topic.

Recently saw a commercial for the Glade motion sensor unit which terrorized my house for quite some time. (A Google search tells me this is called the Sense and Spray. Do your best to avoid it.) It featured happy family members milling around a living room while the Glade hisses like mad.

I see what you're doing here, Glade. Obviously you've read my blog. And it must hurt to learn that not everybody loves your precious little Sense and Destroy. But this blatant personal attack? Is not cute. Or classy. Your unrealistic depiction of a family under the iron rule of your little minion is wholly misleading to the general public. Like I'm supposed to believe that this family isn't startled by the sudden output of noxious fumes? Like they don't mind the scent overtaking their home and threatening their safety? As if they actually ENJOY what is going on around them??

RIGHT. Better luck next time, Glade.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Impressions!

Our school calendar for the week is stupid.

I guess I should preface that. I love days off, particularly when they aren't days everybody gets off--they feel more special--and I love them even more since I have a real job now. But this week? Was stupid. Students Monday morning, then teacher duty day in the afternoon. No school Tuesday-Thursday, and back for Friday.

Like I said...stupid.

However, having students in the morning only gave us the opportunity to go out for lunch. One of the teachers called me and asked if I wanted to go with some of them. I'm excited about the idea of making new friends, so of course I said yes. Panera was crowded, so we headed to On the Border. (Love it there.) The other teachers wanted to know my backstory, so I tried to make myself sound interesting and relatively normal and cool enough that they might continue to invite me to socialize. (Tough work, let me say.) Getting their life stories, I began to feel confident that these were people I could bond with! Coworkers I could sit with at meetings and CAN YOU TELL I'M EXCITED ABOUT NEW FRIENDS?
As I tried to hide my desperation for female friends and/or possible counselors for when I inevitably make bad personal choices, our waiter brought our drinks. Listening to a story, I felt a shock of cold water on my back. The table looked stunned and I tried to process what was happening. In what was a total accident, the waiter lost balance of his tray and a water and pop chose to show me some love.

So. Trying to play it cool? I should have known my coworkers would soon enough get to know me and realize that I can't really play it cool. We all had a good laugh and honestly, it could have been so so so much worse.

It could have been hot coffee. Or someone else's margarita so I spent the rest of the day reeking of tequila in my elementary school classroom. I could have been wearing white. Or on a date. Or wearing a material that required dry cleaning. (Alright let's not kid ourselves with those last two, hm?) I could have been with my boss, or heading back to teach instead of spending my afternoon alone in my classroom. The waiter could have been a douchebag. But once the floor was mopped and I began to laugh, the other ladies laughed with me and welcomed me to the staff. It was memorable, to say the least.

And so it was reinforced that I really, really cannot be taken anywhere. My favorite part was calling my mother once we got back to school. "Hey Mom..." "Hi...." she said, knowing full well that it was not a social call since I was at work. "So...I went to lunch with some of the other teachers today!" "Oh, that's nice. How was it?" "It was great! But...can you bring me some dry pants? I had an accident."

*Before I head off to get some work done today (and by get some work done I mean drink more tea, bake cookies, and then consider my lesson plans), I have to say how impressed I was with the people at On the Border. The waiter and manager, both clearly embarrassed, stopped by our table numerous times. They took good care of us, paying for my meal and bringing a couple desserts for the table. (And a voucher for a future visit! Score!) It was the best possible dining experience I can imagine after getting drenched by beverages. Thanks, OTB!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two days late, but still.

Best text of the week, from my partner-in-crime:

"So I just saw thieves steal toilet paper at target."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A solid good choice.

I got a job. As in, a real, full-time, salaried, benefits job. It has been a huge challenge. I've been putting in a lot of hours just trying to find my footing. That will take a while, I'm sure. Despite feeling totally overwhelmed, it's the best thing that's happened to me in a long time. (Sorry boys...the truth hurts.) It's an exciting change.

It also means that until I can catch my breath at work, new posts will continue to be a little unreliable. Just like your boyfriend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

School of Shame.

I took my new class to gym today. As I walked by, I heard music playing and wondered what they were listening to. I stopped by the door and thought, "Oh, it's the Camp Rock 2 soundtrack."

And then I realized how entirely shameful it is that I should be able to correctly** identify the Camp Rock 2 soundtrack after a moment's listening.

I have no excuse for this one, guys.

**I confirmed this with my class once we got back to the room.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Just like Michael Scott.

While flipping through People Magazine, I noticed a piece about the cast of Twilight settling into Baton Rouge while they film Breaking Dawn (or as I like to call it since reading the book, Breaking Awkward). Apparently, these stars have been frequenting their favorite places for pizza and coffee, California Pizza Kitchen and Barnes and Noble, respectively.

Seriously? CPK and Starbucks? This is news? Two things about this caused enough wrath to merit a blog post. First of all, this is a headline? Twilight Cast Likes Starbucks Coffee? Because this is a rare celebrity fact? As if People isn't littered with pictures of famous people holding Starbucks cups? That should be their new name, for heaven's sake! Thanks for the info, People!
Second of all...Twilight cast, I'm disappointed in you. Way to be so neophobic, guys. You can't stretch from the comfortable bubble long enough to find local places? At least that would be worth hearing. You know, something I can't find in the freezer section at Target? (Which, I'm willing to bet, is their favorite shopping haunt in Louisiana!)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Progress? Maybe not.

Alright, I understand that we're living in a pretty good time, technologically speaking. Cell phones do pretty much everything except hug you when you're sad (I would totally use that app) and you can connect to the internet on airplanes now.

Whatever. (And as far as I'm concerned, technology is basically at a stand-still until I have my hoverboard.) From where I'm sitting, all this "progress" is giving our youth a grossly unfair advantage in life--for two big reasons.

1. School pictures. This week we had picture day at school. You all remember picture day, don't you? Big build up, painstakingly choosing your outfit to match whatever background color your parents had agreed to. (Bonus points if you got the lasers.) And then the prints arrived. How many years would you say you were satisfied with what came back? Because I would say there were...3 years? Maybe? This is 3 out of 14 years in public school. Your yearbook fate was in the hands of a 35 mm camera and a bored photographer.

But now? DIGITAL. Freaking digital cameras. If a kid makes a weird face, the (still sort of bored, let's be honest) photographer knows right away--and they can take another one. The number of unfortunate looking youth in a yearbook is significantly decreased. The pictures come back looking nice! What kind of character is that building, I ask you?

2. Cell phones. I'm not going to go all "why does a kindergarten student need a cell phone blah blah overprivileged youth" on you. I mean, no, I don't think a 10 year old needs a phone because come on how many people do they know? And I don't understand spending that much money on a kid.
But. These are not the reasons for my rant.
(Here is the part where, apparently, I fully transform into my grandmother. I'll put on the Johnny Mathis record and the tea kettle.) Kids today will not know the phone-related horrors that those of us old enough to order a drink in public have repressed.

Children, gather round as I tell you a tale. A long time ago, when someone asked for your number, you would recite the number your parents taught you in kindergarten. Your household phone number. A landline. And they would take out a pen and paper and write it down. Then you had to also find paper and write down their number!
Then...then things got ugly. Let's say you were going to call up this cute boy. You checked to make sure no one else in your house was using the phone and you dialed his number. (Better not lose that scrap of paper because there is no way you're going to program that number where ANYONE can dial it.) And then....


"Oh...hi, Mrs. Mom...this is Boy there?" And sometimes, he was not readily available. So let's say that maybe Mrs. Mom wasn't really a fan of yours, or maybe she wasn't really a chatty woman. So you had to make awkward small talk until Boy could get his ass to the phone.

The other dream scenario here is when someone would call your house looking for you. Let me share a true story with you. Brace yourselves.

I was brushing my teeth one day when I heard the phone ring. Moments later, I heard my father outside the bathroom door. "No, she's in the bathroom right now. She'll have to call you back." *Click*


I quickly rinsed my mouth out and opened the door. "Dad, was that for me? Who was on the phone?"
"Oh, it was a boy. I told him you were in the bathroom." He said this nonchalantly, as if every teenage girl is comfortable with boys knowing about mystery bathroom trips.
"YOU DID WHAT?" I screeched. Maybe a bit dramatic? Whatever.
"Oh calm down. He doesn't know what you're doing in there."
"BUT YOU SAID BATHROOM. JUST TELL HIM I'M BUSY NEXT TIME. OR DEAD!" (I don't think I cliched it with a "why do you ruin everything" but you never know.)

This new generation? They won't have to do that. And for that, I hate them a little bit. Because you don't know awkward, kids, until you've called a boy and tried to casually slip in something about brushing your teeth, just so he wouldn't think you were doing anything unladylike. Especially knowing that he's seen all your tragic yearbook photos.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a quick one. (That's not what she said.)

Unacceptable parts of my day, in no particular order:

1. This is day two of not having my regular voice. It peaced out sometime yesterday morning and our relationship has been on-again, off-again since then. (Mostly off.) Teaching first grade has been a blast...except not really. Mug of tea was attached to my hand all day. Oh, you want your shoe tied? Sorry, I can't do that with one hand. Hold my steaming hot beverage. (Safety first!) Man voice is a totally unfortunate side effect.

2. Ate the last of my summer Kinder Eggs brought home from European Adventure. I was planning on saving it for something special, but Tuesdays can be special too. Special because I ate a Kinder Egg and then constructed a tiny plastic sailboat! (So, really, this is unacceptable with a totally acceptable ending. Glass half full!)

3. Glee was a rerun.

4. Wondering if a boy will text a "disappointed in self" kind of feeling.

5. Work has felt slightly overwhelming lately as I tally up all the things I should be doing and what should be covered. There just isn't enough time in my day or space in my classroom.

However...acceptable parts of my day include:

1. Aforementioned Kinder Egg toy.

2. Dance break in my class today...played a CD of piano music. My kids are hilarious and adorable and freaking awesome.

Blog life has been put on hold until Thursday afternoon. Real life prevails, once again.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

All aboard.

Anyone who ever watched Schoolhouse Rock in school learned about the importance of conjunctions. And while I agree that hooking up words and phrases and clauses is a very important grammatical function, Conjunction Junction is just no place for relationships.

I'm talking about the I Like You train. Recent events in my life have led me to the conclusion that the I Like You train really ought to be a single car operation. Adding other cars on gets to be a dangerous endeavor. The Schoolhouse Rock conductor taught us that his favorite conjunctions are
and, but, and or.

Let's start with I Like You
And. This should be used very judiciously. I suppose I Like You And I Would Like to Go Out Sometime would be an okay train to conduct. I Like You And I'm Wondering If You Feel the Same? That could be acceptable. That's about it, though. Better to play it safe and not crowd I Like You. I once had a man get overzealous and decided to be the engineer of I Like You And I Like Your Sister. Very, very poor usage of the conjunction car. Poor life choice right there. Nobody was particularly pleased with how that interaction went down, I have to tell you.

I Like You
Or? That's just stupid and doesn't make any sense. Avoid this to avoid sounding like an idiot. (Which, of course, means I Like You Nor ought to be firmly ignored as an option.)
And of course, there is
the worst conjunction for relationships: but. I Like You But is not, I repeat NOT going to go well. Nooooobody wants to ride that train. Let's all reflect on times we've heard that phrase uttered.

Not good, right? Nothing good ever comes after I Like You
But. But is the harbinger of doom for any relationship, be it established or blossoming. (Perhaps the aforementioned gentleman should have used this one: I Like You But I Like Your Sister ALSO.) But crushes dreams and leads to changes in facebook relationship statuses--and not in a positive direction. But drinks too much and bitches with her girlfriends.

There are, of course, other conjunctions out there, but that gets us into the complicated issue of Yet or So, among others. That's really more for Advanced Railroad Theory so let's just focus on the Conjunction Junction favorites for the moment. Which is to say: When you're in control of the I Like You train, just leave your conjunctions at home, packed up next to your adjectives.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lies NASA told me.

As I got ready for work yesterday morning, I put on the Weather Channel to plan my attire. (Also, to answer the all-important question: Can I take my class outside for recess today?) They were interviewing some woman from NASA--I caught the end of it and they were discussing the budget cuts and upcoming projects. Apparently, NASA is very excited about the possibility of sending the first humans to an asteroid.

What?! NASA, who do you think you're fooling?? The first humans to visit an asteroid? Don't hand me that bunch of lies, I saw Armageddon. You and I (and millions of others!) know you sent plenty of people to an asteroid back in '98. Or did you forget about the sacrifice Bruce Willis made?

Well. I, for one, did not.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Now with 100% more Jonas brother references.

Twin works in a library, so frequently brings home oddities she has checked in or out that I might enjoy. (Right now, for example, I have a book on drumstick spinning and an etiquette book by Emily Post's daughter--begging for a blog post.) Enter Disneymania. I don't know how many volumes of this exist, but they're essentially compilations of classic Disney songs reimagined by whatever artists are currently popular with the kids. It was Volume 3 that Twin delivered to me, along with the cryptic message, "You'll figure out why I got it."

Track 3. Ohhhh, track 3. "A Whole New World" from
Aladdin...sung by Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. What a glorious example of Poor Life Choices in action. This album is from 2005, back when they were still together and we could watch their tv show about married life. Hearing them sing about love, knowing that things ended, was wonderfully uncomfortable. It reminds me of a phrase we used in college whenever people talked about hooking up with housemates: House booty is bad booty. We always encouraged people to look elsewhere, the idea being that you keep roommates separate from bedmates. "It will be super awkward," we used to say. "What if you break up? You still have to see her in the community bathroom!" This wisdom was handed down to the first years every September.

I think it's time to start passing this wisdom onto Hollywood. A duet with your boyfriend might seem super romantic and cute (but hello, obviously gross, stop bragging), but how will you feel once you break up? (Which, let's be will.) Sure, you can delete that song from your collection, you can throw away the CD. But what about everyone else who has it? That's on the internet forever. And it's not just music! My first graders were just talking about
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam. They always refer to it by the full name, never a shortened version, which is why I know the full name without any help from google. (Thank you, first grade friends.) And that movie is another good example of this! That Jonas brother and his ex play the male and female lead, who happen to be dating. And now, post-breakup, that must not feel like the good decision they thought it was. Hollywood, I caution you: keep your on-screen bedmates separate from your off-screen bedmates! Let Nick and Jessica be a cautionary tale for all of us. (In oh so many ways...)

PS: In other Jonas brother news, I love those waterproof tattoo band-aids that Nexcare makes. Seriously, you can take a shower and they don't move at all. I usually have non-traditional band-aids hanging around, and last summer I found the tattoo ones on clearance at Target--Camp Rock band-aids. (Who would pass that up??) Today I got to lunch and realized I spent all morning teaching with a Jonas brother on my hand. Not my finest moment.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sometimes love is creepy.

I recently received a belated birthday package from Lisa, a friend who is both awesome and insanely talented. To find a present from Lisa on my doorstep is one of the more exciting things in my life. This one contained, among other surprises, an ice cube tray that makes princess wands and dinosaur shaped silly bandz. At the bottom of the box, I found a cellophane wrapped item with a note for Bitter Amanda.
Oh my.

Lisa found these while out shopping and couldn't decide whether these were a gift for someone you loved or someone you loathed. She bought these marshmallow friends and the dilemma was passed on to me. a challenge. I can see how the hearts would sway one into thinking they were a little "I love you" gift. Cute animals usually suggest love to poor saps looking to convince everyone of their feelings. (For the bargain price of $1.29.)
However. Let's take a closer look here. These animals all have crazy eyes--which comes across, let's face it, as creepy. These are creepy animals. And the pink and orange monkey (?) has a totally lopsided smile. Something about the way his gaze won't meet mine suggests a lazy eye or something. At least the bear and frog are making eye contact. Also, the monkey's heart? Isn't quite up to par. That amorphous red sugary blog looks more like a human heart than a valentine heart. Which. Is. Creepy. But allow me to direct your attention to the body language here. (Yes, I realize that "body language" is a bit of a stretch but go with me on this.) Those hearts? Are not a gift. Those squishy animals are clutching their hearts to their little corn syrup chests. They're saying, "This is mine thank you very much. Get your own!" And that's the kind of message you want to present to your beloved? Creepy, selfish love? I don't think so.

This, readers, is a gift for someone you loathe. Perhaps a breakup gift? (You can ask one of my readers about that idea.) Lisa, thanks for sending this mystery my way.
I ripped this out of my ex's chest...just for you.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Needs some work.

My BFF and her husband love to cook. I’ll tell you right now that they are good cooks. I was inspired by this on my recent visit to them…I want to be a good cook too! So when my BFF was getting rid of seldom-used cookbooks, I took her up on the offer. I came home with something called 20-Minute Meals. I thought to myself smugly, I have 20 minutes! Let’s do this!

Let’s see…what to make?
Sweet-and-Sour Chicken and Rice. Meat and Potatoes Skillet Dinner. Sure, ok. Those are options. Let's keep looking.

Dinner with Sand Between Your Toes…wait, what? Do I…have to…literally have sand between my toes to eat this? And what about my meal companions? Should I provide the sand, or tell them in advance that sand is a necessary component, according to my menu for the evening? This is complicated. Keep looking.

Supper for New Neighbors
. This won’t do at all! I don’t HAVE any new neighbors, cookbook! Just the same neighbors I have had for years! And what if the next ones are weird or crazy and I don't want to have them over for dinner? I guess your cauliflower soup will remain a mystery to me.

Romantic Celebration. Oh shut up.

Twilight Supper under Swaying Palm Trees
…twilight as in the time of day? Or twilight like...Twilight?
Ouch. Never mind. I can’t bring myself to set that table. And as for swaying palm trees? I live in Michigan, for heaven’s sake! Palm trees? This is the best I can do.
Uh...let’s move on. 2o Minutes ‘til Cocktails? I understand that the whole idea of this book is meals in 20 minutes, but this seems kind of specific. Let’s say I’m having cocktails at 7pm. Is it necessary that I wait until 6:40 to begin this meal? If I’m not ready to start until 6:45, will I be penalized? What about starting early? Will my food still be ok once my guests arrive at 7? And what if they are late and it ends up being 27 minutes until cocktails? What then, cookbook?? And that’s not even taking early guests into consideration. Doesn’t a party start when the first guest arrives? So if my first guest shows up at 6:56, that means I will have spent sixteen minutes on my meal and YOU TOLD ME TO ALLOT TWENTY. Should I keep the door locked and lights out until 7 sharp? Seems a little rude to me, and more than a little pompous to keep my friends waiting outside like my house is some exclusive destination.

Too much stress. I can’t make this meal! And
Dinner with Elbows on the Table seems like an odd request of my guests. And—I’ll say it—a boring theme! What about “dinner like t-rexes”? That might be more fun, anyway. Maybe the next edition?

Grecian Quail Fit for the Gods. Well..that’s a little confusing. Must my quail be Grecian? Do they even have quail in Greece? Will the poultry guy at the store know the roots of my quail? Can I maybe use the Grecian thing for myself and my guests? If we dress like gods/goddesses, can the quail be Grecian by association?
This seems like a fun theme! But I must say…the idea of quail…isn’t so appetizing. Also, seems tough for a beginner. Maybe I’ll keep looking?
Fireside High Tea. Hey, now there’s an idea! I think a high tea would be a lovely little thing to do. I love tea! Tea usually includes baked goods, which happen to be a specialty of mine. (I do not want to brag here but my baking? Is damn good.) These Welsh griddle cakes look like they might be yummy. But…hmm. I don’t have a fireplace or anything like that. Damn, and that sounded good.
I wonder…
Uh…that might get me gossiped about later. Too eccentric? Maybe.

Midsummer Sunday Lunch? No, I missed midsummer! I’ll mark the calendar for next year. Breakfast for Weekend Guests. I seldom have weekend guests..and have no plans to host them in the forseeable future. Man, this is bad luck! Menu for “Falling in Love Again” over Veal Cutlets…oh screw you cookbook. I don’t like veal anyway! KEEP LOOKING.
Trophy Winners’ Celebration Feast. I don't really have anything to celebrate at the moment. Hey, wait a second! There’s no reason that is has to be a NEW trophy! I won a trophy once…kindergarten ballet, you know that is where it’s at.
That’s not sad, is it? …It’s not not sad…

Oh, here we go! Bingo!
Mardi Gras Dinner Party. Everybody loves Mardi Gras! Party!! My guests will have an amazing time if I throw a dinner party like this!
Oh. Hmm.
You know what? Whatever. I’ll just watch Top Chef or something.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Because it's been a while.

After my first year at a women's college, I found that I was acutely aware of the scent of boys...a talent which has stayed with me. I'm frequently overheard saying things like, "A boy was in this room." Initially, my coed college friends found this quirky ability to be bizarre; I was a detective for non-mysteries involving the whereabouts of men. (Mainly along the lines of "There has/has not been a man present recently." It's not a terribly useful skill.)

Ever since the Christmas Miracle of 2009, I have coexisted quite happily with the reed diffuser air freshening system in our bathroom. It has been blissfully calm in there ever since I banished the "clean linen" spewing dragon to the abyss of the under-the-sink cabinet. (It was heroic...epic poems should be written in my honor.)
Because of all that, I am understandably picky when it comes to replacing the scent of our reed diffuser. I stand in the store, cautiously approaching any scent that sounds tolerable. Pretty much anything floral is generally out, as well as anything claiming to have something to do with a bonfire. It's a long process and God forbid I ever find/remember the same kind I previously purchased.

A couple days ago, as I brushed my teeth, my Axe-senses kicked in. ...Man? After 11pm? In my bathroom? Confused, I pulled back the shower curtain. (No man inside.) I checked all the bottles, finding nothing new which might result in a man-smell. Curious. Assuming it was all in my head, I went to bed.
Yesterday, I experienced the same phenomenon. "Something in here smells like a man, dammit!" I announced to no one in particular. I began my investigation in earnest. Feeling about three times crazier than I'm comfortable with, I poked around the whole room. Picking up bottles, opening up cabinets. I caught sight of the reed diffuser. I eyeballed it suspiciously. "...Are you new here?" I asked. (Yes, I did say that out loud.) Approaching slowly, I picked it up. I sniffed hesitantly. "YOU ARE! YOU SMELL LIKE A BOY!"

Moral of the story: if you're ever in my bathroom and think there might be a man nearby, don't worry. That's just the air freshener.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things you never thought you'd hear.

Alright, so here's a topic we haven't covered yet: Justin Bieber. I heard this story on the news one night...and I'll say it. Well played, Bieber. Well freaking played. I'm impressed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Watch out nature: this isn't over yet.

Regular readers are no doubt aware that I have been on the warpath recently, removing myself from the mailing lists of nonprofit organizations. For those who haven't heard about my crusade, this might sound like a hateful, heartless act. It's not that I hate the trees, endangered animals, wounded veterans, children suffering from any number of ailments, or anything else soliciting my donation. But I hate needless paperwork in my life and am really, really over finding a mailbox full of address labels, notecards, stickers, totebag offers, and other assorted crap. It's wasteful and ecologically irresponsible. (Plus: seriously, the clutter! I can't handle it!) And so, the emails have been piling up. My outbox reads like a list of "People Who Will Not Be Receiving a Donation."
Enter the huge envelope I received from The Nature Conservancy the other day. It contained, among many other things, a calendar.

Photo copyright of Scott Anderson, the second runner-up in The Nature Conservancy's 4th Annual Digital Photo Contest. It really is an awesome picture, I must say.

I feel you, Owl. That's the face I made when I opened the envelope. You don't even have a tree to live in**--it was probably knocked down to make the very calendar pages you're gracing. Not a lot of nature being conserved here, huh?
Nature Conservancy, I'm unimpressed with you. Stop spending all this money on stuff people don't want--sell the calendars on your website instead! Use the money to fulfill your mission statement or pay your interns or something. Anything.

It should also be noted, readers, that in order to email The Nature Conservancy about removing myself from their mailing list, I had to create an online account. Not really the point, is it?

**This type of owl does not actually live in a tree, but that doesn't really support my point so I'm taking a little creative license.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I got a penguin pair and a Red Sox pair.

I toured a sock factory.

Don't hear that one every day, do you? But there you have it; I toured a sock factory. For Bare Feet is an Indiana-based company with several stores near my BFF. (And they actually make really great socks...well worth checking out!) As we wandered around one of them, we heard people talking about a tour. When we checked out, we asked for more information. Were we interested in touring the sock factory, we were asked? Were we ever! There's no reason not to tour a sock factory! It would be $6, an hour of our lives, and we would walk away with a free pair of socks--along with, hopefully, a wealth of wisdom about the sock-making process.

Sign us up.

The next day, waiting outside the factory felt like waiting for Willy Wonka to appear.
I will admit, though--they were punctual! The door opened at 12:50 on the dot. The BFF and I learned a great deal about the history of the company (the building used to be an elementary school!) and the steps involved in making socks. Based on the reactions of her husband and others, I will not go into detail about these things. Apparently not everyone wants to learn about the wonder of cotton footwear? (Even though some of their socks are made of recycled cotton? Or soy? Or recycled plastic bottles? ...Come on guys, that is cool!)

Whatever, it was awesome. You guys suck.

But yesterday I promised you a particular anecdote from my adventure. And even though nobody wants to hear my Sock Factory Fun Facts, --This company makes the licensed socks for pro teams! Such as my beloved Boston Red Sox, which are the socks we saw them ironing!

Come on, your life is better for knowing that.-- I will not deny you an amusing anecdote.
During our tour, we learned that (seriously stop rolling your eyes this is PART OF THE STORY, not another Fun Fact!) this company makes custom order socks. (And I can promise you that someday, for some occasion, my friends will be getting socks with my face on them.) Our tour guide picked up a pair from the nearby shelf, saying it was an example of a custom order. Those socks? Had Barack Obama's face on them. And I smiled because it's quirky and eccentric and hello I love that sort of thing.
"A group ordered these," she explained. Her tone turned snarky, her smile tighter. "I'll keep my thoughts to myself."

And everyone else in our tour group laughed. Not awkward pity laughter for our red state tour guide. Real, appreciative laughter. I froze in horror. Really? Was I...the only one in the room...who voted for that guy? Wellllll ok then.

I'm not one to bring politics into this blog much. Your decisions are just that--yours. I'm happy to judge your relationship decisions, but I'll stay out of your voting booth. However. Didn't my guide realize that by saying she'd keep her thoughts to herself...she really spoke volumes? And that she was, at that moment, a mouthpiece for this company? This proud to be an American company, welcoming visitors from all over? Guys, it was super uncomfortable. It was like witnessing a married couple fight during a dinner party. Like, sure, they're allowed to disagree and they should absolutely have that conversation. But...the timing? Is a little inappropriate? And you're forced to awkwardly drink your wine and exchange glances with the other guests until one of the contenders suggests that they are being rude to our guests now would you please go get the apple crumble, which is when you assure them that Hey, don't worry, we're not feeling weird here or anything! Yeah sure, put ice cream with mine.

I guess politics and socks don't mix. Lesson learned.

...But you know what does mix? Socks and craft projects! Did you ever make those potholders when you were--ok fine fine I get it! Nobody wants to hear Fun Facts. Losers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crossroads of America

I love traveling. Not just going on vacation--I mean, I love the act of traveling. I find it calming to sit at an airport gate or pass hours on a train. And the people watching? It's top-notch. Especially on a bus.
Which is exactly where I found myself recently...on a bus bound for Indianapolis. At a particularly middle-of-nowhere gas station, the gentleman in front of me turned around, catching my eye. I leave my headphones on, even when not listening to music--it lets you control who you talk to. Well, this guy caught me during the only minute I had them off during the entire journey. He had just returned from buying road snacks inside, and turned to me. "Oh, did you want something to drink?" he asked, sounding a bit concerned. His tone suggested that we were friends out at the bar, rather than two strangers on a bus in middle America. "No, thanks..." I said cautiously. What, was he going to dash back inside and get me something if I said yes? I'm not ending up on the news tonight, sir!
He tried to strike up a conversation after that, and even the super sketchy guy across the aisle from him was shaking his head, as if to say, "No man, that is not happening." And when sketchy bus people think you're making a bad choice? Well, it's time to reevaluate some things.

As we made our way through Indiana, I saw a billboard advertising a casino somewhere in the state. It boldly claimed to have "
Indiana's loosest slots!" ...Really? Hey, you stay classy Indiana.

I've made several trips to Indiana. My BFF resides there, and my visits have always been awesome. One nice afternoon, we headed to a nearby lake for a cookout. We were a bit crowded at our table, and saw another picnic table nearby, empty. Someone suggested we could pull it over and use both.

Ohh, the value of hindsight.
We should have taken that bit of advice. Instead, we decided to work with what we had and get cozy. We're all friends here!

Then our neighbors showed up. Our formerly empty backup table was then populated by...oh god.

I can't even put it into words. Guys, I saw things that I can't unsee! These people...they were a hot mess**. There were a lot of bad decisions going on. They were loud and the women were wearing bikinis and they were not the kind of women who should wear bikinis. (There's a line between being comfortable with your body and being
too comfortable with your body.) The men weren't wearing shirts and they prooooobaby should have been. One of the men was...older. And should not have been making out with that one girl quite so publicly or so fervently. And that girl should definitely have decided against dancing on their picnic table. She should have passed on letting him put his face anywhere near her breasts and she ABSOLUTELY should not have been sitting there in a way that made it look like her face was in his crotch. Because that shit was not okay. Not. Okay.
The worst decision of them all, though? That unfortunate award goes to us. My friends and I, who could not stop looking away, despite all our intentions not to. Despite logic and reasoning and good taste all telling us to turn our frigging backs to it. Ohhh no. It was a train wreck and we had to know what was happening. At least it made me feel better about my decisions in life, I guess. There's a new standard on the Poor Life Choice meter.

Indiana, it was a pleasure. See you next time!

PS: Tune in next time to hear about being the only Democrat at the sock factory!

**In defense of the state of Indiana, they did shout (to us? to the state of Indiana? to the world?) that they were from Kentucky. Not your finest representatives, Kentucky. Better luck next time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Open Letter

To the Women Who Have a Need and/or Desire for the As-Seen-On-TV "Booty Pop" Padded Underwear, Because Apparently They Don't Have Enough Ass and Would Inexplicably Like More:

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

Shut up.
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

Friday, August 13, 2010

Banking IS exciting!

Can we talk for a second, friends? I just saw a commercial for Chase's new app that allows you to take pictures of your checks to deposit them? I guess? (Really?! The future is now, guys.)
The purpose of the app isn't really my point here. It's the commercial I'm concerned with.
It's a couple who have clearly come straight from their wedding, unless she's one of those crazy women who wears a wedding dress for kicks. (I'm sure that happens--people are weird.) They're all sprawled out on a bed and the groom is talking about how he's waited all day to try this. And just when you think you've stumbled onto some painfully sappy Hallmark learn that he's ready to try his new banking app.

What?? Are you freaking kidding me, Chase? I get it...your new deposit method is awesome and high-tech. Well done, or whatever. But I'm supposed to believe it's so cool that a newlywed couple would put "deposit checks with new app!!!" on the top of their to do list? Really? Have you ever met anyone getting married, Chase? Because I have. And I must say...they were not concerned with banking.

No. Not only do I call shenanigans on what you're trying to pull, but I call super lame.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Feel the love.

A common activity at my summer camps is to have a secret friend...a bit like Secret Santa, but...not. You leave anonymous notes and gifts and it's all warm and fuzzy. (Blech, right? But there's usually chocolate involved, so it's not all bad.) At the end, when everyone reveals their secret friends, you sit in a circle and sing a cute little song and you hug and it's all well and good. Except that by "cute" I mean that it's super high on the annoying scale and it stays in your head for-freaking-ever.
Well. This summer was different. Oh sure, we did the activity and the notes and the singing. But to combat the saccharine activity, our staff planned a separate adult activity: Hate-O.
How can I describe Hate-O? I suppose
secret enemy does it best.

This? Was an activity I could get behind.

Let me tell you--my camp friends EXCELLED at Hate-O. There were dead bugs left on pillows, voodoo dolls created, stalker notes written, and angry songs performed. Personal property was ruthlessly kidnapped. Each day brought new horrible little surprises.
What did my Hate-O do?
It started slowly. A "you suck" in my mailbox. "You're too old for this" on my pillow. Then, these tiny notes were everywhere. Multiple times each day. It was a barrage of notes intended to chip away at my self-esteem. (It takes more than that, Hate-O! I've been rejected by people I've never even met.) Some highlights?
The one about my "embarrassing drinking problem" delivered to me by a camper. (Accessory to the crime? Eh, I won't blame the kid too much.) The "you suck" covered entirely in clear tape and floating in my Nalgene. "I don't miss you at all" found back at home, tucked into my suitcase--long after the game had ended! And the best? The one suggesting I take a shower...which was thrown down my dress during a dance party. (Apparently a group effort...well played, you sneaky bastards.)
It was quite the campaign. That right there? That's dedication. I'm impressed.

This isn't all heartwarming, though. Despite the efforts of my Hate-O, the worst thing I was subjected to...wasn't even meant for me. I was INADVERTENTLY HATE-OED. How, you ask?

Well fine, I'll tell you.

I was going about my business, checking my paper Hate-O mailbox. From across the room, A asked if I would check hers. I stuck my hand into the envelope, expecting to find a note. Instead, I made contact with something slimy. Squishy. I quickly pulled my hand away, horrified. Figuring it was something juvenile, like chewed up food, I washed my hands in disgust.
Later in the day, we were all sitting in our meeting. A remembered her gift and our director volunteered to retrieve it. She stuck a pencil in to fish the grossness out.

CAUTION: What follows, dear readers, is maybe the grossest thing to ever happen in front of me. (And I sat next to a guy while he peed into beer cans once. That's a story for another day, though.)
YES, THAT IS A SLUG. A LIVE FREAKING SLUG. It popped its little disgusting head out, all "Hey guys...what's up?" I reacted gracefully. You know, just what you'd expect from me. With a hissy fit, rant, and just a hint of nausea. I TOUCHED THAT. It's probably crawling around the German forests with my fingerprints on it, for the love of God!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Full schedule.

Your dreams have come true--I'm home from summer camp! I just spent the past month staying up late, getting up early, gossiping, and having Nutella for breakfast. (That last one is directly related to me spending the rest of my summer working out.) Oh, and there was some learning. Some educational goals. Some brilliant and talented 15 year olds from around the world, proving to me that the next generation is doing something right. That maybe things will be ok when they're in charge. Until they drink curry sauce on a dare and remind me that oh yeah, they're 15.
But you don't want to hear about that sappy bright future garbage. Right?
I somehow managed to weasel my way into Man Talk, a daily gossip session between three 15 year old boys from the US, Germany, and Finland. For reasons still unknown to me, I was given a standing invitation to attend Man Talk. It was gossip gold; high security clearance into their inner circle.
Between Man Talk, the occasional girl talk sessions I sat in on, and then gossip circle with the adults at days were full. It's a wonder that I was able to fit in any activities.

I love camp. :)

Stay tuned for camp highlights, including my favorite new game...Hate-O.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Abandonment issues.

I have been really terrible about updating lately. Life has been...ridiculous. (In the busy way, not the story way. You'd have heard those.)
For the three of you left still checking for updates, I'll get back to writing in about a month. You know how sometimes I leave you for a month to work at summer camp? Yeah, that's happening again. Because my life is actually pretty awesome.
I'll try to live some good stories for you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Still making friends.

Readers might remember my recent quest to cut down on the junk mail (and paper) in my life. I've been shooting off emails about every catalog and donation request to find its way into my mailbox. I shop online; who needs the catalogs anyway? My sent folder is full of these emails. Including one to the National Wildlife Federation. (Their goal, you see, being to preserve nature and wildlife. A fine goal, admittedly. As previously stated, I love trees. And animals. Etc.) The automated responses always tell me they've removed my address, with the caveat that any mailings in process will still head my way. Ok. I can understand that. But how long does that take? Because I emailed the NWF around 2 months ago. And this weekend, received YET ANOTHER ENVELOPE.

This one was huge; it was the kind of envelope that suggests you've been accepted to a university. After reacting like a mature adult,** I opened it to find a wide variety of dead trees. Letters seeking my financial support, a return envelope, the ubiquitous address labels, and my personal favorite--a calendar. A freaking calendar! Are you kidding me with this, National Wildlife Federation? It's full of pictures of some of the wonders of nature we're all trying to protect. I get the idea...maybe I'm not inclined to donate money but then Wait polar bears?? OMG SO CUTE!!1! I see through your ploy, NWF.

Oh, you want to see the calendar? Ok.
Image by Tom & Pat Leeson
"Just try to cut down my tree and I will eat your face." Fair enough , Florida panther.

Image of Northern Gannett by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Sea otter image by Art Wolfe

Bobcat, Image by Jurgen & Christine Sohns/FLPA/Minden Pictures
Bobcats can be so self-centered.

Wow, animals are a lot surlier than I thought. Chill out guys. This kind of attitude might be why some of you are endangered. I'm just saying. Right duck?
Mallard duckling, Image by Tom & Pat Leeson


It's time for another email! Guys, the good news here is that I think summer vacation is coming at a really good time for me...clearly I need MORE free time.

**By "reacting like a mature adult," I clearly mean "yelled a little bit and proceeded to rant, including commentary on every calendar page, which may or may not have led to the above pictures."