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!