Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sharing a name is not necessarily a good thing

Growing up I was always a little peeved that my name was not really all that common. I mean it was not something strange and bizarre by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly wasn't on the list of top baby names in the early 80's when I was born. It was sort of just there.

The only problem I ever had with my first name was the over abundance of spellings available. I grew up with constant switching of vowels, adding of vowels, and adding of a rather superfluous 'h'. I once even had issues with people trying to add an accent mark.

Most of my name problems came from my last name. Campbell is not really the greatest surname to have in the world. It leaves itself far too wide open for jokes, and lets face it, when you are a kid the last thing you need is an easy opening for other kids to pick on you. I in turn rather despise the catch phrase for Campbell Soup.

It wasn't until I started dating the Husbeast that I realized that having a really common name might be more of a burden than a semi famous surname. Oddly while he hates his name simply for the spelling*, I hate his name for completely different reasons. Actually I love his name, I simply hate a song that shares it.

Jesse's Girl used to be a song I really enjoyed. It was catchy and fun to sing along with when the chorus came around. I never really paid too much attention to the lyrics until I started dating a guy named Jessie. People in all of there lack of cleverness love to jokingly sing that song at me. At first it was only mildly annoying. Then I sat down and listened to the lyrics and just got a little creeped out at the thought of it.

The song is about a guy who is lusting after his best friends girl. While I am sure I could come up with some sort of flattering thoughts at being called 'Jesse's Girl' really the only image I can muster up is one of the Husbeasts best friends lusting after me and that is just gross. His best friends are like brothers to him, and have through the years become like brothers to me.


So I have come to loathe that song the longer we are together, much in the way I loathe Campbell's Soup. Sure it is a little irrational, but we are all allowed such irrational feelings. I suppose what I would really like is for people to stop being so 'clever' so I can stop hating things I would probably like otherwise.

* His name is spelled with an 'ie' at the end which is according to him the feminine spelling of the name. I keep telling him to just go have the 'i' dropped from his name legally, but he doesn't really like that idea.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nothing extreme about it

Have you ever turned on the TV and gotten sucked into the show that just happens to be on even though you always swore you would never watch said show? This happens to me far too often. Most of the time the show is one on TLC I find. This phenomenon is to blame for an entire afternoon of my life lost to such vileness as Toddlers and Tiaras, or the rather horrifying experience of watching Hoarders which led to sudden fits of cleaning my house.

Wednesday night I had another one of these events happen to me. This time it was Extreme Couponing. I have seen the ads for this show for a while now, but I never really saw the appeal of it. I have never been a coupner, and the show isn't really highlighting some sort of disorder, so really it didn't interest me.

When I turned the TV on it was in the middle of an episode. I tried not to watch it. I was in fact scrolling through the channel guide looking for something else to watch when I just got sucked into the show. The next thing I know we were all sitting watching our fourth episode and are entirely enthralled by it.

Seriously the things these people were doing were amazing. It was a little crazy considering that they spend nearly as much time a week couponing as I spend in the office. I was also fairly certain that someday TLC will make a special entitled: Extreme Couponing: The gateway to hoarding. I would totally watch a show that went from these people making amazing deals and stockpiling things to becoming crazy hoarders that might die beneath there 100 year supply of rain scented deodorant.

After watching the show it became a topic of discussion though. Why not coupon? I mean obviously it can save you a ton of money. It also appeals to the part of me that likes to stockpile stuff. It could be a worthwhile endeavor.

The thing is I have never been good at couponing. I can find coupons for items I do not use, but never anything useful. I try not to be picky but some things I have to be picky on. I have horrible allergies and have to buy one certain brand of laundry detergent and soap and shampoo and conditioner. So buy one get one free of some random generic brand of soap does me absolutely no good.

Also couponing takes a lot of time. I don't really have a lot of free time. Between work and faire and normal daily chores and sleeping, I don't really have that much extra time. I suppose I could combine couponing with my TV time, but I feel that somewhere in there something would get neglected. Knowing me and my love for my shows, it would be the couponing that suffered.

The husbeast offered to try his hand at it since he has so much free time just now, what with being unemployed and all. It is a thought, but I do not foresee it going well. He has enough trouble going to the store with a list and coming back with all the items on the list. Add in coupons and very specific items and I think it might be a disaster.

I think in the end it comes down to the fact that I really just don't know how to coupon. I would need to be taken under the wing of a couponer to be taught what exactly it is I should be doing before I could accomplish anything.

So I suppose for now I will continue to shop as I always have and just dream of a day when I could buy $1000 worth of groceries for under $30. It certainly is an interesting dream to have.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Silent Sunday

I tried. I tried really hard to do this who write a blog entry every day in the month of November thing. At the time it seemed so much more doable than the idea of writing a 50k word novel in a month. I am a busy person after all. My weekends were completely booked with faire, I had a week long journey to New Orleans planned, as well as you know work and stuff. A novel seemed right out; but blogging everyday? Sure why not.

Yea that didn't work. I was doing fine until yesterday. Yesterday was the final day of faire. I spent all day working or packing the car in an effort to get home at a not too obnoxious hour. That hour ended up being 1am, so needless to say I got home and passed out. There simply were not enough hours in the day yesterday to do everything I had to do and write a blog post.

Honestly though I have been cheating. On more than one occasion I would write two and sometimes three blog posts a day and then just schedule them out. It only appeared like I was writing daily. What can I say I am not super human. I am just a normal frazzled person.

Seriously though, why November? Of all the months in the year to pick to do crazy marathon writing why November? I mean it is a month with a huge holiday that for many of us consumes four whole days. It seems like you would pick a month that is in some ways holiday free. Some month where you aren't obsessing over place settings, family visits, and avoiding riots at Best Buy.

How about June? I mean June is fairly event free. Lots of people have summer vacation going on then, but how is that more difficult to work around than holiday planning? Or if you are looking for an increased difficulty level pick February. February is a short month. That is an added layer of stress.

I think in the end this little experiment has just showed me that I have limits and I am not afraid to admit to them. I will keep up with the last few days of crazy make a post a day stuff because I told myself I would do this. After that though I am going back to writing a blog when I have something I really want to say.

Of course I pretty much always have something I want to say, so there should be no real worries about any long silent spells from me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some of my least favorite things

There are some things in life that is not pleasant but you can live with. We live with unpleasant things every single day and while we might complain about it, it is not that bad. There are some unpleasant things that are not able to live with.

For example, wet socks.
Today at faire it was both cold and rainy. I had to leave the safety of my nice dry booth and trek to the far side of faire. In my trek I managed to get water in my boots and get my socks soaked. Now normally I would just come back to the shop and change my socks. The problem is that once I am in my bodice I can not take my boots off. So pretty much I would have had to strip to my underwear to just change my socks.

Needless to say I went the rest of the day with wet socks. That is about 9 hours for those of you who are unfamiliar with the faire schedule. 9 whole hours with wet socks. Wet socks as the cold set in. It was miserable to say the least.

At the end of a faire day the best thing is normally taking off the bodice. Bodice-gasms are the greatest thing in the world followed closely by removal of boots at the end of a faire day. Today the best thing was taking off the cold wet socks and letting my feet thaw out.

I think next time I will take the time to strip and change my socks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Ren Faire style

Several years ago the owners of the Texas Renaissance Festival decided it would be a great idea, ie. lucrative, to run the faire the weekend after Thanksgiving as well as the Friday. I guess they thought somehow they could get in on some of the Black Friday insanity.

Mostly it is just incredibly annoying for those of us who have to be here and work it. We mostly can not have a Thanksgiving with our families because we have to be here for work on Friday. We also will never get to partake in the crazy Black Friday sales. I do not personally want to do that sort of shopping but I would like to see my family on Thanksgiving every once in a while.

Still I chose to do Faire and so I knew what I was signing up for. I grumbled a little as we mostly skipped Thursday festivities, and again this morning when I was awake at 7 am to work, but I was not too upset. I can deal with it, I am a big girl after all.

Actually the crowds were mostly calm. There were a lot of people but for the most part they didn't want anything from us. They spent just enough money to make being here today worth our while, but only barely. We of course have two more days and might not make out that well in the end. Only time will tell.

As I sit surrounded by my friends and faire family, laughing chatting, and eating as we relax I had to stop and think. If I was not doing faire I would have gone and had a nice dinner with my family but after that I would have probably spent the rest of the weekend watching TV and doing nothing else. If I was lucky I might have seen some family. Now I get to spend four days surrounded by people I love and basking in the wonderful camaraderie that comes with faire.

I suppose in the end when I think about it this is not such a bad deal after all.
Life is good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not your obligatory Thanksgiving post

I pondered long and hard over what I should write here today. It is Thanksgiving so it seemed appropriate that I write some sort of obligatory "I'm thankful for" sort of post. Somehow though that seems to cheapen the sentiment.

I mean yes it is what you do today. You sit down and you make a list of all the things you are thankful for. You say how thankful you are that you have a job, and a house, and loving friends and family, and a wonderful significant other, and fluffy pets, and cool toys, and good health, and so on and so forth. I am thankful for all of those things, but I say that most days. This is not a surprise to anyone. I really don't feel that this needs to be reemphasized.

So as I sat on my couch this morning, wrapped snuggly in my fuzzy red blanket, watching the fog on the golf course as my cats snuggled close and purred loudly, I thought on what exactly is it that I am thankful for that I don't actively admit to most every day. This seemed like a task that was going to be more difficult than it should be. I did manage to come up with several things.

I am thankful that the husbeast is unemployed. I am not really thankful for the loss of income or the queasy uncertainty that fills our future from the lack of employment. I am however thankful for the freedom of burden he feels. I am thankful that the almost debilitating stress that has plagued him the last six months is now gone. I am thankful that he smiles with more ease now. I am thankful that his future is open again to better opportunities. I am thankful that he has the chance to grow.

I am thankful that my kid is pursuing her dreams. I am not really thankful that she is possibly going very far away for a very long time. I am however thankful that she is being brave and going after things she loves. I am thankful that she is tapping into her vast potential. I am thankful that she is reaching for all the things she so richly deserves. Most of all I am thankful at how happy she is.

I am thankful that my brother and his wife are back in Texas. I am not thankful for the fact that he still travels so much that we never see him despite him living only 30 minutes away. I am however thankful that should the need arise he is right here again. I am thankful that they are not trapped in Atlanta with no one near by. I am thankful that we can visit just because we want to and not have to make some crazed elaborate plan to make it happen. I am thankful that they feel at home at last.

I am thankful for terrifying new opportunities in life. I am not thankful that I lose sleep over the ideas in my head or the thought of leaving everything I know and love behind. I am however thankful that I can still dream. I am thankful that my goals and aspirations can grow and change. I am thankful that I have the support of amazing loved ones to pursue things even if they were to take me away from them. I am thankful for the courage to try even if things never come to fruition.

I am thankful for so many other things in my life that I do not have the time to write them all down. While I am thankful for this blog and all of you who read it, I am also thankful for everything in the here and now. With that thought I have to go bake some banana nut bread so that the husbeast can have a warm slice when he finally wakes up.

Happy Thanksgiving, and may you all have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Memory

This was an event that happened to me last Thanksgiving when I attempted to go grocery shopping the day before. I posted this in my LJ at the time. I was re reading it and decided that it was worthy of posting here.

November 29th 2010:

I discovered this past week that if you wish to lose faith in humanity that all you need to do is go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

Typically I am a smart human and do all of my Thanksgiving shopping well in advance. If the item is not perishable it is at the latest purchased the Friday before the big day. If it is fresh produce or the like, I try and get it as early as possible, so as to avoid the crazed crowds in the store.

This year I was not making Thanksgiving dinner. The plan was to head down to my parents house for the first time in forever. My mother left me a slightly incoherent text on Wednesday afternoon which said she had forgotten cool whip and bell peppers at the store, but there was no way in hell she was going back there, and we would suffer without. Me being the good daughter I told her I would grab some before we left Dallas.

Good intentions make me a foolish mortal.

So after I got out of the office early I headed to my local Kroger, and while the parking lot was a little full for 3:30 on a Wednesday, it was not too bad. I found a decent parking spot and hurried in. There were no hand baskets, only one lonely cart, so I snatched it up. Sure I was only there for bell peppers and cool whip, but at the last moment I decided to get stuff for Jessie to make crawfish pie for my parents as well, so I needed something.

The produce and bread section were almost empty of people, so I swooped in and grabbed my bell peppers without any incident at all. It was like any other grocery trip really. I was starting to think the pre Thanksgiving grocery hysteria had somehow magically missed my Kroger.

Then I tried to go further into the store. The top end of the aisles was blocked completely. Our Kroger is set up with the dairy section at the end of the aisles of canned food, and apparently everyone was needing something there. It was intimidating just looking at it, so I hooked down the chip aisle intent on using the short cut though to get across to pasta and back up to the end section to get down to frozen foods.
It was a good plan until I got blocked in by a man who had half parked his cart in the middle of the aisle while he stood looking intently at a display of stuffing. His feet were spread, his arms to his side and slightly elevated, his shoulders rolled forward, a look of intense concentration on his face; I honestly thought at any moment he was going to tackle the wild Stove Top Stuffing before it escaped.

I tried to back up but there was suddenly a backflow of shoppers from the canned vegetable aisle, and so I was stuck until someone moved so I patiently waited.

That is when I heard it.

"Those are MY french fried onions!"
The woman's voice was irate and she was not being quiet at all. I turned over my shoulder to see what was happening.

Two women stood at the end of the canned food aisle, both with carts overflowing with their shopping bounty. The woman who had spoken was standing with one hand gesturing wildly, the other planted on her hip. The second woman was standing, protectively clutching a can of French's French Fried Onion's to her chest, you know the fried oniony bits you put in green bean casserole.

Apparently woman A had been standing in front of the onions, and woman B grabbed the can first. Also this was the last can in the store.
The conversation, or argument as it turned into quickly went like this:

Woman A: Those are MY french fried onions.

Woman B: No they are mine, I got to them first.

Woman A: I was about to take that can, you cut in front of me!

Woman B: You were just standing there. You weren't reaching for them or anything. How was I supposed to know you wanted them?

Woman A: Well I was looking for other things too, I have a lot of things on my list. I was going to get those.

Woman B: Well you should have gotten them faster then.

Woman A: But I NEED those onions.

Woman B: Well so do I.

Woman A: But they are on my list (thrusts list at Woman B)

Woman B: They are on my list too (thrusts her list toward Woman A)

Woman A (Voice getting much louder) : I NEED those. They are MY French Fried Onions!!

Woman B (also getting louder): No they are mine!

Woman A: Those are the last french fried onions in the store, maybe the city and I need them.

Random shopper A: You know you don't need those. Just go over to the frozen food section, buy frozen onion rings, cook them until they are really dry and use them instead. They are actually better.

Random shopper B: Or Funyons work too. Sounds gross but it works.

Woman A (Now practically shouting): NO!! My recipe calls for french fried onions and that is what I need. THOSE ARE MY ONIONS!!!

That was about the time the fearless Stuffing hunter in front of me had managed to wrestle down his prey and move his cart enough so I could scoot by, so I hauled out of there before things got really ugly. In my mind after I left, the other holiday shoppers made a makeshift ring with their carts, and an angry housewife cage fight took place, to which the winner took the french fried onions, and the loser was relegated to finding Funyons.

And people wonder why holidays get to me.

I found it a sad state of affairs that people would almost come to blows, and hysterical public displays over something as silly as french fried onions. I mean I know Thanksgiving is a big deal, and bigger to some than others, but it is just dinner. The day is not about the food. I mean don't get me wrong, it is about gorging yourself on tasty tasty morsels, but the ACTUAL point of the day is the people and things you are thankful for. Spending time with loved ones and all that jazz. The food is a pleasant bonus. And while we all like things to be just right, and as we pictured, sometimes you have to make the Funyons work for you.

This is how our society is going to end. Not from weapons of mass destruction, or form terrorists, or disease.
No the end of our society is going to be angry housewives and there blood lust for French Fried Onions.

I love you, I hate you

10 random stupid things that piss me off:

1. Leaving a wet sponge in the sink. Seriously how much effort does it take to squeeze it out and put it on the edge. Soppy sponges get really gross really fast. Not to mention when you leave them in the sink they have a tendency to get covered in all manner of things which in turn make them fairly useless in the whole cleaning process.

2. Leaving cabinet doors or drawers open. Again, how hard is it to just close them?

3. Leaving the TV on when you leave the house. No one is there to watch it, turn it off. In fact if you leave the room for any length of time with no intention of coming back to watch the thing, turn it off.

4. Riding the elevator to the second floor in a three story building. This one especially gets me when they are going downstairs. It is even worse when they are obviously in perfectly good shape to walk the stairs and are unencumbered.

5. Standing in the middle of an aisle at the story making it impossible for anyone to get around you. Step to the side and be aware of your surroundings people. You aren't the only people in the world.

6. People who obviously have no idea what the difference between an outside and an inside voice are. How did they not flunk out of kindergarten?

7. Assuming I am a secretary for anyone. I have no idea where the guy who sits behind me went or when he will get back or what he has been doing. In fact I try not to even look at him so no I will not deliver him a message. Send him an email or a text or an inter office IM like a normal person would.

8. Treating people in the service industry poorly. Be mean to a waitress and I hope that they spit in your food. These people are working for a living and you know most of the time when I see someone treating them badly, they are being mean to the good ones. These are human beings. Try a little respect.

9. Service people who treat you customers like crap. It is a two way street here people. Yea your job probably sucks and people treat you poorly, but it is your job. If you hate working with the public that much try and find another job and don't take it out on your customers.

10. People who say the phrase 'Suck it up'. It makes me want to kick them in the teeth. Find a more diplomatic way to get that sentiment across.

And now 10 random things that make me happy:

1. Warm socks out of the dryer.

2. The smell of a fabric store.

3. Swimming in a summer rain shower. I know that is dangerous but I still like it.

4. Brand new notebooks and pens.

5. Baking.

6. Snuggling.

7. Laying on my back in the grass staring at the blue sky through the branches of a shade tree.

8. The husbeast acting silly just to make me smile.

9. Laughter of loved ones across a dinner table.

10. Good cheese.

I was much more verbose about things that piss me off than things that make me happy. I suppose happiness really doesn't need explanation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pre game preperation

With Thanksgiving only days away people everywhere are preparing themselves to cook and consume copious amounts of food. That is what this holiday is about right; gorging yourself on tasty tasty foods until you pass out in a turkey induced coma while watching a football game on tv.

All kidding aside, this is supposed to be a holiday about family and thankfulness that happens to center around food. Conveniently enough, in my family, food is sort of central to our lives. We don't live for food, but we use food to bring us closer together. We didn't need a day like Thanksgiving to bring us together over delicious vittles. That was pretty much an every day experience.

Food is often times the center of Southern culture. We do so much that revolves around eating; from large Sunday family meals, to picnics and barbecues, to every day meal time. It is just a thing. It is how I grew up and it is not unusual at all. Might help explain my weight.

Still Thanksgiving is a special day with some fairly specific requirements. I was raised a traditionalist. Every year we had the exact same menu. Every year. When I got to college and started celebrating Thanksgiving twice, once with my family of choice and once with my family, I started to experiment. One year we had the blackened chickens of doom*, one year we did ham, and we have had a whole slew of different and unusual side dishes.

This year we actually have no Thanksgiving plans. We have to be down at faire on Friday to work, so we can't really go anywhere. Everyone we know is already heading somewhere, so it will be a quiet day of me the husbeast and the kid puttering around until we decide to drive down to faire.

I did buy a turkey, however the husbeast decided he wanted to cook it. The thing is, as amazing a cook as he is, he has never cooked a turkey before. So we decided this would be a test turkey. If he screwed it up then I would just make a better one on the day of.

He fretted over this bird. He wasn't sure how to go about it or what to do to it. I got about half a dozen calls at work yesterday as he worked on the thing. He had trouble finding the giblet bag as he forgot to search the neck cavity. I told him the necks are stored up the butt and the guts in the neck. He wanted to make sure his seasoning was good; butter, Chululah (hot sauce), and some Tony Chachere seasoning. I kept assuring him it would be fine.

I got home and the house smelled amazing. We decided to serve the bird with collard greens, mashed potatoes, green beans, and some stove top stuffing**. I checked on the turkey and it was looking beautiful, and the smell made my mouth water. I wasn't sure I would be able to wait another hour to eat.

Finally the time of truth came. I was sitting in the living room watching tv while the husbeast and a friend of ours carved the turkey. I could hear them making nummy sounds as they carved. I think they were eating more than they were carving. I went in and pulled off a piece of skin to try. It was amazing. the seasoning was perfect, the bird was juicy and tender, it was beautiful.

So our test meal went amazingly well. I feel that either one of us could successfully make our Thanksgiving meal. The question now is this; do we want another turkey so close to this one, or do we want to do something completely different? Either way we go, I am certain we will be more than satisfied with the results.

*Turned out they were not completely thawed and my oven was broken and only cooked at like 9 million degrees. I sat with the oven cracked open, billowing out black smoke, and basting the damn things about every 2 minutes. I was assuming they were done when I pulled them out. They were two black husks. I was so embarrassed and was sure we were heading to Denny's for Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone decided to be polite and try the chicken first. We had to use the handle of the knife to crack the shell open. I couldn't even look at anyone I was so mortified. Then I realized no one was talking. I looked up to find them practically inhaling the chicken. It seems that the constant basting and super high temperatures had created a protective shell around the birds. They happily cooked inside the shells soaking up all the spices and butter. They were the most delicious and tender chickens I have ever made, and ones I can probably never duplicate.

**He chose the stuffing not me. I don't eat stuffing. He loves it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cube sweet Cube

When you spend eight hours a day five days a week in one place, it becomes rather important to make that space comfortable and welcoming. I find for sanity reasons that my cube can not simply be gray walls to stare at all day long.

Since I started working in the office I am currently at I have worked very hard to make my cube into a space I am comfortable in. I have tried to surround myself with things I find interesting and distracting from the drabness of the cube. Mostly it is cartoons that most of my coworkers don't understand along with some fun kitche I have collected over the years. It is uniquely me.

We moved to a new building over the weekend. I had to carefully take down all of my things and box them up so they could move with me. Our new cubes are different than the old ones. They are much more open which is not pleasing anyone. We are a bunch of QA and developers, we like our privacy it turns out. The walls are an off white color with some strange white design that makes me think of bacteria that I had to examine under a microscope in 9th grade biology.

I took almost 2 hours this morning fixing my cube. I had actually taken pictures with my phone of my old cube so that I knew where to put things. I spent a long time getting them where I liked, I really wasn't about to go and change everything up. Consistency is something I find comforting. It is a little less jarring being in a new place when everything looks mostly the same.

It is still new and foreign to me. I keep banging my knee into the filing cabinet because it is on the left instead of the right. I keep missing the trash can because it is a few feet further away than it was before. I keep getting distracted because there is no longer a bookshelf over my monitor.

Still I am surrounded by my familiar things. The bunnies and camels are all still around me and that is comforting. I think this will work out nicely.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adventures in Ikea

I have just a small DVD problem. By small I mean well over 300 DVDs. What? I like movies.

Sadly this proves to be a problem when it comes to storage. At first our entertainment center was fine, but then I found that the small amount of space was not nearly enough. I bought a couple or little storage units from Target which were adequate for my needs. Then Christmas came around that year. I added in two more of the little storage shelves and again had enough room. For a while this situation worked.

The problem I had mostly was that the units I bought were not meant for DVDs. They fit in there but the amount of extra space was a bit silly. As my collection grew I found I needed to shove DVDs in a odd angels. Since the shelf space was really deep I kept losing DVDs to the space behind the other DVDs. It was an issue.

Then I started running out of space again.
Like I said, a small problem.

I have been looking around trying to find a better solution. Sadly for the space we have there isn't a good solution. All the DVD shelves are either too big, or won't come close to holding all of my DVDs. So I did the only thing I could do. I went to Ikea.

I find Ikea to be a very strange place. I mean for one it is HUGE. I mean seriously they have a restaurant, a day care, and arrows on the floor to lead you out in case you get lost. That is far too big really. Then you have to write down the item number and where to find it in the warehouse like some sort of secret code.

Honestly I think the furniture at Ikea is, well crap. I mean it is high end crap, but it is just barely real furniture. Particle board is not real wood. It is not too expensive, but it is not cheap by any means. It is not going to fall apart in six months, but it is not going to last forever.

In the end though all I am looking for is something to hold my DVDs that doesn't look like it belongs in a college apartment. Ikea furniture fits all of those requirements.

We spent the better part of an hour navigating through the mega complex. There was an over abundance of families with small children running around screaming. There seemed to be a large number of older people looking at furniture and standing about in the aisles blocking the way. I also noted that most everyone we came across was not speaking English. It was very odd.

In the end we walked away with 3 DVD cases for me and a bookshelf for the kid. She and I spent an hour and half putting them together and then I spent nearly as long trying to reorganize my collection.

It looks very nice and it fulfills my needs. For now.
But not for long.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And they lived happily ever after...with dinosaurs

For a very long time after I got married I had trouble going to weddings. My own wedding was more like a horror story and less like the fairy tale I had envisioned since I was a little girl. I had, and probably still have, a lot of tulle and fondant fueled bitterness.

It made it very hard to go to other peoples lovely picturesque weddings and not feel somewhat indignant. That is not how you are supposed to be on the happiest day of your loved ones lives. I would be angry and bitter which in turn made me feel incredibly guilty.

Then one day it stopped. I was part of my wonderful Toni's wedding, and somehow things were different. I was lost in the magic and the happiness of it all. I found their joy and could be nothing but happy for them. Since then I found the joy again.

Today was the wedding of two very dear friends of mine. The wedding was lovely. There was laughter and there were tears of joy and dinosaurs which caused us to laugh and to cry. It was a union of two wonderful people, and a reaffirmation of the love that so many of us share with another.

I am so amazingly happy for my friends. I am happy that they found one another, I am happy that they can share their love forever, and I am happy I got to share that moment with them.

I hope that they live happily ever after to become old dinosaurs together.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I am a creature of habit. I wouldn't say I am so mired down in my routine that I can not change things up without things coming crashing down around me. Still I like things to happen in a particular order. Once I get it into my system to do things a certain way, I want to do them in that way.

This weekend two very dear friends of mine are getting married. I am so very excited for them, and so very happy to be able to attend their wedding to help celebrate this moment in their lives. That is what weddings are about for me, sharing that moment with those closest to you.

Attending the wedding throws off my normal routine in a big way. We are still in the middle of the run of faire but I will not be going this weekend at all. My brain both knows this fact and can not accept this fact at the same time. It is like there is a mini war happening inside my head.

On one hand I am making lists and plans for tomorrows event. I keep reminding myself I need to try and find cream colored tights, I need to see what happened to my flattening iron after the trip last week, I need to make sure the husbeasts clothes are all together, I need to pick up the gift, I need to get directions, coordinate with our kid for the carpool, figure out where we are going to dinner later (it is an early afternoon wedding), and all sorts of other last minute details.

At the same time my brain keeps running through the faire prep checklist. I have moments of panic when I realize that I haven't finished doing the faire laundry and costume repairs. I keep trying to write a grocery list for faire food. I keep looking at the clock wondering if I can get out a few minutes early so we can leave town earlier.

I don't know how to make my brain focus on what is actually happening this weekend instead of what normally would be happening this weekend. My routine is broken, and my brain won't stop panicking from it. Stupid brain.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


One of the biggest problems with having a lovely vacation is that eventually you have to return to reality. You have to come back to your real life and your job and somehow everything seems to be a little more muted a little more gray and dingy. Compared to the euphoric high of your vacation, everything else sort of sucks.

It is not that I am displeased with my life...
Have you noticed I seem to say that a lot? I just realized if I went back and read past posts I would find that phrase at least half a dozen times. I wonder what that really says about me. And I all that satisfied if I have to keep pointing out that I am satisfied?

You see this is the danger. All of that wonderful happy vacation time makes everything you are used to look harsh in the light of reality as you still are looking through the rose tinted glasses of time off. Work seems that much more annoying. Daily tasks seem that much more tedious. Normal happenings seem that much more mundane.

It is easy to get lost in fantasy and pipe dreams when you are sitting in your cold gray cube thinking about warm river air and bright neon light. It is hard not to let yourself get sucked back into the memories that are still so fresh in your mind.

But it is not that I am displeased with my life...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

This is a phrase I really shouldn't live by, but I sort of do. I am really sort of notorious for putting things off as long as possible. I am a master at finding something to do other than what I am supposed to be doing. I like to tell myself it is because I work so much better under pressure. In reality I am just a bit on the lazy side.

Don't get me wrong, when I do my work I do it very well and I always strive to do it right the first time. The latter comes from my hate for doing things twice. Even if someone else did it the first time, I still hate having to come back and do something that was simply done poorly or flat out wrong the first time.

Of late my main mode of procrastination has been blogging. This post is a prime example. It is eviction* day in the office, and I really loathe doing evictions. I could be sorting through the database right now, I should be anyways. Instead I decided now was the perfect time to write a blog entry for today.

This is at least productive procrastination. Right?

I know it is an awful thing to do. Procrastinators run the risk of not getting the job done, or doing it poorly because they are in a rush, or simply doing it wrong. I don't normally have those problems but I am aware of the distinct possibility that someday I won't be on the winning side of the procrastination game.

With that in mind, I suppose I should work now.
Or not.

* I don't actually evict anyone, that is not what my company does. I am simply going through already processed eviction files and making sure the addresses are entered in a standard excepted form so that they will hit in the database when a search is run on them. It is mind numbingly boring and sort of makes my eyes want to bleed since I have to hand scrub 70,000 to 120,000 records in a batch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Get your hands out of my mouth

I am not afraid of dentists, and in that fact I am thankful. I wouldn't even say I hate the dentist. I think my feelings for the dental profession would best be characterized as mild distaste.

I am not certain I have ever had a friend who was in the dental profession so my interactions with dentists have been confined to actual dental work. Considering dental work is rarely a pleasant experience it is unfair for me to really judge a dentist as a person on such experiences. I am certain dentists are lovely people.

That being said, I still do not enjoy them sticking their hands in my mouth. I had 9 years worth of orthodontics. 9 years of wearing braces and head gears and retainers. 9 years of monthly visits to have things twisted and tightened and adjusted. That is a lot of time to build up some animosity towards dentists.

For the most part though I escaped just disliking having my teeth worked on. I suppose it shows in the fact that I haven't seen a dentist really since I had my braces off when I was 17. I am 30 now. That might be a bit excessive an amount of time between checkups.

I have actually been a few times for wisdom teeth issues. Two of those annoying teeth have been removed, but the other two plague me to this day. Seriously they are problems. I will spare you the details, but you can rest assured that they have caused me a lot of pain and money already and still haven't been through the extraction process.

As I lay in the chair today staring up at the light, feeling the sharp jabs from the dentists tools, little puffs of air as she dried my teeth, my cheeks and lips being stretched unreasonably far by the little mirror, I was really reminded how much I disliked this process. One would think I would keep regular maintenance done so nothing catastrophic happened requiring more frequent and expensive procedures. Of course that goes into the realm of common sense, and we do not use that here.

In the end you will probably be hearing more dentistry woes from me. The list of things that need to be done is a little dizzying. Words like scaling, deep cleaning, root canals, extractions, crowns, fillings, and periodontal disease were thrown around today. Also words like financing and payment plans were circulating around.

Painful for my mouth, and painful for my pocket. Yup must be the dentist.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I went away for a week which is a great thing and also a not so great thing. Being away from work for a week means a weeks worth of work will pile up. It means that all of the things I normally do have to be done by other people. It means I have to figure out how they jacked up my stuff and fix it.

Or not.

I came back to work this morning to find three things:

1) They did some construction while I was gone and my area is now almost completely walled in. I had to search for a way to get to my cube. I feel like I am in some sort of corporate Edgar Allen Poe story. This construction crew was not as concerned about covering our stuff in drywall dust as the last crew was. Everything on my desk is now white. I wish I had thought to put my water cup away before I left

B) The break room is still not completely operational after the water heater exploded two weeks ago. I also am not completely sure how to get there now with this new construction.

Thing the final) NOTHING GOT DONE!!

No really nothing was done. My manager is not in yet for me to confirm, but it pretty much looks like nothing happened. The new tracking spreadsheets were not made last week, the new download wasn't processed in any of the spreadsheets or databases, nothing got updated, and I am not even sure we released what the other DA's processed.

I can't decide if it is more frustrating to come back and have nothing done or have to come back and fix someones poor attempt to do my job. I hate doing something twice, so I suppose we will go with it is better that they did nothing at all.

Still if my job is something that no one else can do, I am obviously more of an asset than they think I am. I so deserve a raise.

Oh well, back to the salt mines.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I need a vacation from my vacation

Every time I take a vacation I think to myself that I really need to take a couple extra days off after the actual vacation, only I never do. Stay with me for a moment while I explain.

You go and you take a vacation. You do whatever it is you go to do, be it fun, be it boring, but it is a thing to do. Vacations are time consuming and if you do it right it is exhausting. I tend to do it right, or even if I do it wrong I do a lot of it. Any way you look at it I end a vacation feeling exhausted.

Too little sleep, strange eating habits, being far more active in a short amount of time than I would be in an entire month, and you end up in not a great place. I like to think of it as a vacation hangover. Only there usually is no vertigo with vacation hangover.

If I was smart I would take a couple of extra days to lay in my house and do nothing. Perhaps some light laundry and housework, but otherwise a simple vegetative state in which to recover from my vacation.

After this recent vacation I am not only tired, but I am ridiculously sore. Walking 300+ blocks in a matter of four days will do that to a person. I am not nearly as young as I used to be. I am also wildly aware of how out of shape I really am. I can really feel the fact that it has been 6 weeks since I was at the gym.

I had one day off between the vacation and faire, only really it didn't count. I still got up relatively early, and then I spent most of my day doing faire prep. I then got into a car for 4 hours in order to work all weekend. On my feet.

Yea I am not the brightest crayon in the box.

So come Monday I will go back to work and be exhausted and incredibly sore. When you add this into the fact that I am probably going into the office to discover a ridiculous amount of work, Monday should be a pretty nice nightmare.

I think I will just try and enjoy, and survive, faire this weekend. I am pretty sure my vacation hangover will be the least of my problems come Monday morning.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


In the midst of my travel diaries I realize I passed my 100th post. It was on Thursday to be exact, but I didn't want to interrupt the flow by making note of the fact that I had made 100 posts. I think really I am the only one who cares, but I do.

I have a couple posts in the works on the food of New Orleans, but it turned out to be a lot more than I thought it was going to be. I mean we ate a lot while we were there and it turns out I really like talking about food. Anyways, you can expect those posts probably starting on Monday.

For now I am just trying to recover from the vacation without having any time to recover. We are heading out to faire shortly and will work all weekend. It is nice though because my family will be there and I haven't seen them in a while.

This post was supposed to be about my 100th post, but it seems that it apparently really isn't all that important to me since I don't seem to have anything to say about it. It is pretty cool though. So here is to my 100th post, come and gone, and here is to many many more.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Diary of a Vacation: New Orleans - Not with a Bang but a Whimper

When I planned this vacation I never would have thought of it as a high impact or strenuous vacation. We were going to eat a lot, and do some sightseeing, and listen to jazz; nothing to indicate that I would be completely exhausted and ridiculously sore come Thursday morning. I was apparently wildly misinformed about what this vacation would hold. We both were.
Thursday morning when we awoke we were both exhausted. The feel of a well earned tired radiated through us despite having just had a good nights sleep. Our limbs ached, throbbed even. Turns out that while we are in better shape than we have been in a while, we are not really in good enough shape to walk over 300 blocks in three days.
Honestly we were feeling it Wednesday night. As we got ready for our big fancy romantic dinner I realized I wasn’t sure I could walk in my heels because my shins were having spasms of pain. After we ate we wanted to run out to pick up a CD from a local jazz group and I had to change shoes before I could even think about it.
A good nights sleep did nothing but allow the pain to sink in more. We roused ourselves early not wanting to waste any of our last day, but we were moving much slower than we would have liked. We simply didn’t have the energy to go at anything but half speed.
We still managed to make it to Café du Monde by 9:30 and were enjoying our beignets in the rather cold morning in no time. It turns out that 60 degrees in New Orleans is really rather cold thanks to the very cold wind rolling in off of the Mississippi. We were determined to not let the cold or the sore stop us though.
After breakfast we went to Jackson Square to look for a local artist we had seen Tuesday, only there were almost no artists set up yet. We were up before the artists. So we turned our feet toward the open air French Market to do some last minute shopping. They were also empty. We were apparently up before everyone but Café du Monde.
This put a bit of a damper on our plans. We had no choice but to mill about the general area while waiting for shops to start opening. Sitting still was also not an option as it was unpleasantly cold if you stopped moving. Our legs protested greatly but we pushed on.
Eventually the markets all opened and we began our shopping in earnest. We found fun trinkets and tokens for a number of people, and almost none of it was crappy import kitsch. Hooray for supporting local artists. We even found the artist we had been so excited about and bought a painting. The husbeast took me to Central Grocery and had me try a muffolata*. I might despise olives, but this was damn tasty. Well it was great except for the moment when I got a whole olive in my mouth; that sort of sucked.
We took some more pictures and talked to some locals about different things and whiled away the time in a pleasant fashion. Then the sore started to creep in again. We had taken several lengthy rest breaks to allow our legs and feet an opportunity to relax, but after each break the amount of time we could stay on our feet shortened. Soon we found ourselves sitting in the car wondering what to do.
It was 1pm and our flight was not until 7pm. Roughly five hours were left until it was time for us to leave. We had finished all of our shopping, we were full of tasty sandwiches, we were short on cash, and we couldn’t walk one more step if we wanted to.
So it was with exhausted resignation that we headed to the airport stupidly early. I checked for an earlier flight but they were all full, so it was going to be a four hour wait inside the airport. We also discovered that once on the terminal side of security there were almost no food options. Our decadent food adventure was going to end with crappy cardboard tasting pizza.
We sat in a small food court taking advantage of the free wifi and allowing our exhausted bodies an opportunity to rest. The husbeast looked over at me and apologized for our trip ending so anti climactically. I told him that I didn’t mind I had a wonderful time. He agreed.
He pointed out that he couldn’t pick a best moment because there were too many, but he couldn’t pick out a worst moment either, because there really were none.  Well except maybe the crappy airport pizza.

* The husbeast swears that the muffolatas at Central Grocery are the best in the world, and he wouldn't let me sample any others as he was afraid it would taint my view. Now sadly I am afraid I will never find one that I enjoy as much.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Diary of a Vacation: New Orleans - You can't always go home

As I have mentioned in the past the husbeast is from New Orleans. His being from the city was one of the main reasons we chose this as our destination for this vacation. Of course it has been in the plans for many years, but still it was for him. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to come too. I mean come on it is New Orleans. who in their right mind wouldn't want to come here for a visit.

Anyways, since this is the husbeasts home town, it was inevitable that we would go ona nostalgic tour of his childhood. I have heard these stories since we met, and honestly I was looking forward to putting actual places to the tales that have been filling mhy mind for so many years.

We started out by driving down to his old neighborhood. Now he already knew that his grandmothers house had been destroyed in Katrina, but I am not certain he was really prepared to see that it was gone. He said his grandmother would not have approved of the large sllightly gaudy house that now stood on the large double lot. Mostly though he was sad that the giant magnolia tree was gone. I tried to tell him it was probably damaged in the storm as well, but I doubt that held little comfort.

It is hard to see your childhood memories gone. Blame a storm or blame strangers, but either way it doesn't bring them back. Looking at the empty lots and unfamiliar houses only seemed to make certain that his memories were all that were left.

We drove by an old snowball stand which had been his favorite. Every snow cone he eats he compares to this one stand. It is almost legendary in his mind. While it was still a snowball shop, it was not the same one. It was also closed. He pouted a little.

The next stop on memory lane was City Park which was huge. I had not expected for it to be quite on the grand scale that it was. We snuck into a fountain that was closed which was fun, and then made it over to the sculpture gardens and art museum. I am not certain that any of this was as he remembered but he seemed to enjoy it greatly.

The one thing he really wanted to show me was a hill. He alwasy said New Orleans was naturally flat, and so in the park they had a small manmade hill that was labeled 'Hill'. It makes playing King of the Hill so much more meaningful when you think about it.

It was actually called Monkey Hill. We searched for it for a long time before we found a grounds worker to ask about it. She knew what we were talking about, but informed us it was in an entirely different park. The husbeast had no idea where it was and so he had to resign himself to not showing me the Hill this visit.

Our final goal for the day, and one of the biggest goals for the trip, was to find his grandmothers grave and visit it. Now New Orleans cemeteries are huge. Giant even. They are mazes of mausoleums and statues. It isn't like a normal cemetery where you can see where you are going. Oh no, the buildings are entriely too tall for that. We were going to have to ask at the cemetery office for the plot location.

It took us a good twenty minutes just to find the entrance to the cemetery we thought she was in and then another ten minutes of driving around to find the office. The woman at the desk was very nice as she attempted to look up the family plot. She told us it might be listed only under the name of the plot owner which would have been his great grandfather, or so we hoped.

After a short wait we were told they couldn't locate the grave. A little disheartened we headed out into the cemetery so that I could take pictures. It was beautiful and breathtaking really. There were some impressive tombs. Still we aimed to find his grandmother, so it was back into the car and to the next cemetery over.

This time we were in luck. It only took a minute before we were being handed a map, a printout of everyone buried in the lot, and a picture of what the lot looked like. This cemetery was less grandious than the one we had just come from. The rows of tombs were more sedate and more identical to one another. It was a much simpler cemetery.

We drove down little named streets looking for the correct row. Locust was the one we were looking for. Sure enough it was right where the map said it was, and soon we were walking down the row looking for the right plot.

Hartman was emblazed on a small marble marker on the front of the plot, turning slightly green from time and neglect. The white pebbles that covered the top were thin in places and the entire thing needed a neww coat of whitewash. A marker at the back listed his grandfather, great grandmother, and great grandfather, but not his mother his half brother, or the two other men buried in the grave. There were urns for flowers with names on them, one his great grandmother, the other read George, but it was hard to tell if that was his grandfather or the other George that was buried there.

Slowly he knelt down in front of the grave, and with tears in his voice he introduced his grandmother to me. I can't help but to cry now thinking about it. It was so sweet and so sad as he spoke to the woman who meant everything to him in the world. He always says she would have loved me, and I so wish I could have met her at least once in life. At least now we have been introduced.

We had gotten there late in the afternoon and the cemetery was about to close, so our visit was brief. He promised to make sure a stone was placed with her name on it, and then bid her goodbye again. It was almost heartbreaking to watch.

I am not certain if he got what he wanted out of this trip. So much of what he remembered is no longer here, and he now only has his memories to live with. Still his memories are strong, and the powerful emotions they evoke are still running strong within him. His moment at the graveside proves that no hurricane nor the progress of time can rob him of those.

Sometimes you can't go home, but home can never be taken from you when it resides in your heart.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Diary of a Vacation: New Orleans - Finding the Charm

The first night in New Orleans passed and soon we found ourselves waking up at a leisurely late hour of nearly eight thirty in the morning. We debated about what we wanted to do. We wanted to go to some cemetaries and to the zoo as well as some museums before we leave on Thursday. With rain in the forecast for tomorrow we decided to take on the more outdoor adventures today.

First though we had to have breakfast. Of course we had to go to Cafe du Monde for beignets. I mean we are in New Orleans after all, it only made sense. We decided to walk since it was only about 7 blocks away, and honestly after our 30+ some odd treck the day before that seemed easy.

When we hit Jackson square I was immediately struck by how lovely it was. I mean it was really more what I was expecting out of New Orleans. There was a sense of ease and charm that I had been looking for. Honestly it sort of reminded me of New York in that good way.

Jackson square and the market had not been on our list of things to do, but we figured since we were there we might as well look around for a while. We are on vacation so there is no real set thing we have to do. So we just started walking around.

Four hours and eighty blocks later we collapsed in the hotel. We wondered up and down the streets of New Orleans taking pictures, stopping in shops, and roaming through St Louis cemetery #1. Somewhere between the powdered sugar covered pigeons at Cafe du Monde, the impromptu concerts in Jackson square, and an old rare book store I fell in love with the city.

I  can not really say what it is about it that I found so endearing about it. Perhaps it was the fact that it became incredibly familiar so fast. Perhaps it was because I felt like it all seemed so natural. All I know is I had this strange sense of being at home.

We went out for lunch and ended up past Jackson Square again even though we had only meant to go up a couple of blocks. We just kept going and didn't seem to notice. We came across young boys tap dancing in the street with bottle caps on their shoes. We passed a group of dredlocked guys playing banjos while sitting on paint buckets. We watched locals chat with each other easily as though they were all familiar. We saw a group of young men walking through the streets with stringed insturments in cases, two carrying a standing base.

We had to come back to the hotel and shower befor even considering going out to dinner. We were fairly well exhausted but had managed to walk off lunch easily. Plans for a casual dinner went by the wayside as we decided to try a nicer restaurant that had been suggested to us. It was incredibly satisfying, but afterwards I wanted to avoid the crazyness of Bourbon street so opted to wonder down Royal instead. It was quieter and a pleasant stroll.

As we made our way down the street we wondered into the sound of a quartet playing some old timey blue grass music. I think it was the same four boys I saw walking through the streets earlier in the day. They looked to be 20 something white boys in suspenders, bow ties, and flip flops. They were incredibly good, and I found that I was reluctant to move on without listening.

They had taken a request and were in the middle of a slower song when a car pulled to a stop just in front of them. An elderly woman with a cane got out and immediately began to scold the musicians who seem to have set up in the doorway of her shop. She demanded that they get out of her doorway despite the fact that her shop was closed.

I wanted to drop something in their tip jar but we realized we had no cash on us. The husbeast called across the road to see if they were going to just move one store front down to continue and for a moment the guys got scared we owned the next shop and were going to run them off as well. We told them we just wanted to make sure they were not going anywhere while we went to the ATM.

In the end we bought a CD from them and talked to them for a little while. Tricky Britches was their name, and they had come all the way from Maine to spend a week playing in New Orleans. They were pretty cool, and their music was good. I liked them a lot. Plus they gave me a sticker.

As we made our way back to the hotel to make it an early evening I realized that New Orleans has a feel to it that lives somewhere between the eclectic artist free spirit of Austin that I love so, and the old world community of New York, with all the charm and slow ease of the deep south.

Yea I think it is safe to say that I have fallen in love with the city.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Diary of a Vacation: New Orleans - Bourbon street

If there is one thing about New Orleans that everyone in the world could identify I think it would be Bourbon street. In all the movies you always see drunk people stumbling down the middle of a crowd full of other drunk people in the middle of Bourbon street. It is iconic.

When we decided to take this trip I was left to choose the hotel. I figured since we were planning on being touristy that Bourbon street was the place to stay. I scoured through my travel sights looking for a hotel that was a deal in price and still had the romantic charm I was looking for. I amazingly found one that fit all my criteria and excitedly booked it.

I can say the bed is comfy, it is clean, and the wi-fi is free. I can not however say that the hotel lives up to the romantic idea I had set in my head. By romantic I don't mean romance in the brown-chicken-brown-cow sort of way, but more in the idealized romantic sense of things. Lets just say the pictures on the hotels websight are not the pictures of the room we got. It is rather generic and small. Still it is all we really need, and we are happy.

After a long walk down St Charles street* during the afternoon we decided to eat dinner and walk around Bourbon street in the evening. It seemed like a good idea. I had all these images in my head about what Bourbon street would be like. It is sort of a defining point to New Orleans so I had given it a good deal of thought.

As we walked down the street I started to realize that it, like our hotel room, was not living up to the idea I hadin my head about it. I am not sure if I had romanticized it or if I was simply naieve in my thoughts, but this was not what I was expecting in the least.

First it smells. I mean it smells really bad, like the inside of a dirty wet dumpster. That is just really off putting. I have a really sensitive sense of smell, and the entire street sort of made me want to hurl.

Then there was the over abundance of strip joints. I mean I am not a prude or anything, I don't mind strip joints, but it seemed like every other door was either a brightly lit daqueri bar or a cabaret with an almost naked girl standing in the door calling out to guys in the street. Well that certainly was not what I expected.

All of the bars were completely open to the street, which reminded me a lot of Vegas. Saddly they somehow lacked the charm that all the open Vegas doors seemed to offer and gave more of the impression of an over sized frat party. The abundance of bad karaoke and Tom Petty cover bands was also not really inviting. When I think of New Orleans I think of really good jazz or even zidaco, but not bad cover bands.

I knew I sghould have expected drunk people, people yelling from balconies with beads, and a certain level of debauchery, but this sort of exceeded it. The people on the street were not helping either. If it was not large groups of older people standing in a cluster looking mortified, it was a group of drunk frat guys/business men trying to decide if they wanted to go in the stirp joint or not. Then there were the seemingly homeless dredlocked hippies and the drug dealers. I suppose I am not really a big crowd person, but it was making me over anxious. The big Easy was making me uneasy.

The husbeast kept tugging me by the hand further down the street and I just wanted to go back to the hotel and hide. I told him this wasn't what I was expecting and I could tell he knew I was not happy. I was trying really hard for him, but I was failing miserably to see the appeal of this supposedly amazing place.

Then we heard it. Seeping out of an open bar door, carrying over the chatter of the crowd, the canned electronic music in the club across the street, and the bad metal cover band a few doors down; it was the sound of jazz. Good jazz.

We stopped and peered into this tiny little pub and through the crowd we could see a jazz quartet just going to town. The place was packed which was understandable because the music was amazing. The hostess saw us lurking and pulled us in to sit and listen. There was no cover but we had to order something to stay. I got water and the husbeast got an over priced Sazarac. As the set was drawing to a close he leaned into me and said, I over paid for this Sazarac, but severely underpaid for the concert.

We ended up staying through the second set and ordering another drink. The band appears to be the house band and we intend to go back to purchase a CD. I mean it when I say they were really good.

The bar was good too. The drinks were strong and tasty, the atmosphere was nice and inviting while still being really interesting. It was a German bar which was attracting a lot of German tourists; I couldn't understand anything anyone sitting around me was saying. There was also a large crowd of patrons in their 70's and above, all wearing name tags. The band seemed to know some of them which led me to believe it was a group being bussed in from an assisted living community.

All in all this little bar at the end of Bourbon street with their amazing little house jazz band saved the night. It was everything I had been expecting and a little more. So while for the most part I consider Bourbon street to be an overcrowded smelly den of debauchery no better than a frat party, there are small jewels in there thaat make wading through the unwashed masses completely worth it.

I am off to dream of that beautiful walking bass and a piano with a mirror over head so we could watch the cigar stub chewing pianist tickle the ivories.

* We walked a little over 30 blocks trying to hunt down a bar that his fathers best friend used to own. We ended up finding it only to discover it is now a different bar. The building is still owned by the man we were looking for, but it is not his bar anymore. The women who owned the bar said they would give him the message we were there. We took the trolley the 20 blocks back to our hotel.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Diary of a Vacation: New Orleans - The Departure

I am filled with an almost giddy sense of anticipation as I sit in the airport terminal awaiting my flight. My bags have been checked, my boarding pass is in hand, and my dose of Dramamine has been consumed; I am ready to go. Now all there is to do is wait.
The anticipation is killing me. This has been a trip 11 years in the making, that is a lot of time to build up expectations. Both of us are expecting so much that it would seem that it could so easily be crushed by the slightest fault in the trip. As we were getting ready to leave this morning the husbeast began to have small temper tantrums that I have come to associate with him while we travel or really prepare for any social engagement. He got tuna fish on fish Saints shirt and his tablet didn’t charge over night resulting in him ripping his shirt off and declaring he wouldn’t take his tablet at all. I had to use calm voice, but I soothed his momentary outlash of anger and got him redressed and his tablet and charger packed.
Now that we are at the airport, his tablet plugged in and happily charging, he is finding other things to fuss at. The coffee he got at the in terminal Starbucks is too strong. He has gone to make his second trip back for cream and sugar to try and salvage it. I on the other hand am sipping my hot chocolate and killing time in the near hour to our flight.
Now he has spilled his coffee all over his tablet and everything else. Twice. This is like a comedy of errors with him. All I can do is be the calm voice of reason and help him clean it up. I have to assume that it is nervous energy built up over the years while waiting to go home again.
For me this is just a vacation, for him this a homecoming 20 years in the making. I do not think vacation compares to that in any way. He also desperately wants me to love his home city as much as he does. He wants me to see the magic and fall in love with it in hopes that someday I will let him go home for good.
It is a lot to expect and a lot to anticipate. I am just hoping to have a good time and see the joy in his face as he gets to show me where he is from. Once the flight is over and we are in New Orleans it should be better.
For now it is just a matter of sitting back and relaxing and maybe trying to keep him from wearing any more of his coffee.

Fly me to the moon

The thought of flight always makes me a little uneasy. I am one of those people who has a whole lot working against them when it comes to flying. I truly envy people who can nonchalantly get on a plane and travel without all sorts of worries, fears and maladies that I am inflicted with.

I have been flying for most of my life. Piloting sort of runs in my family. I have several uncles who are pilots and my grandfather was a pilot. In fact my grandfather used to say that if he ever got a terminal disease, he would rent a little twin engine plane and fly it into the side of a mountain so he could die doing what he loved. Ironically he was killed in a car crash, but they had to take him on a medichopper to the hospital, and we all like to think he died during the flight.

Still with all this piloting in my blood, and probably 50 flights under my belt, I still do not fly easily. I fly very poorly. In fact flying for me is a rather unpleasant adventure any way you look at it.

First off I am terrified of heights. This is actually one of the more minor problems. If I can sit on the aisle it doesn't bother me as much, and once we hit a certain altitude I am alright with looking out the window. In fact as long as the plane isn't tilting to the side while I am looking, I am mostly alright with it. I have never had any sort of debilitating panic attack while flying. Thankfully.

My next issue is an issue of comfort. I am not a small woman. For starters I am 5'10" and am mostly made of leg. Long legs + airplane seats = cramped up. No tall person is ever comfortable on a plane. I think I was ten the last times my legs fit comfortably in that space. Of course I am also on the chunky side. Now granted I am significantly smaller than I was the last time I flew, but I am still not going to be comfortable.

Also the husbeast is huge. No seriously, he is huge. He stands 6'6" and is so broad at the shoulders that on a smaller plane, if he stands to his full height, he has to bend his head down to where his neck touches the ceiling, and his shoulders press in against the overhead compartments enough to make them bow in. I mean the man has a gut on him (because I am a good cook) but he is a power lifter people. His doctor even said that for him to hit his BMI he would have to amputate a leg. He has really big legs.

So needless to say that he does not quite fit in an airplane seat and never will. Typically we solve this issue by having him sit on the aisle and me next to him so I am the only person being crushed. Still riding for any length of time in whatever contortionist position we come up with, is super uncomfortable.

Thankfully flight attendants love the husbeast because he is so incredibly charismatic, and he makes them feel incredibly safe. Because of this we always get treated incredibly well while flying. It takes some of the stress off of the event.

Unfortunately there is one more thing that makes flying a nightmare for me. I suffer from vertigo. I can literally make myself motion sick in my desk chair. I am not even joking. I eat Dramamine like it is candy, and it does not always work. No one likes a sick person on a plane, but let me tell you, the sick person likes it even less.

Most of the time Dramamine, the air vents all on full blast on my face, and some water will keep me from losing my complimentary peanuts on someone. Most of the time is not all of the time sadly. Also, even if I don't yak up my guts, the general feeling of being motion sick is miserable. Feeling that bad, in a tiny medal tube, being crushed by the husbeast, and in general terrified of being so far from the ground makes for a not pleasant experience.

Thankfully this flight is a little less than an hour. I will have just enough time to get queasy and start to panic as my legs spasm before we land.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I started dating the husbeast in late October of 2000. We had known each other for a year, and after a very interesting party, we were a couple. So as of a few weeks ago we have been together for 11 years (married 7). This is a long time to be together. It is 1/3 of my life. In the last 11 years we have done a lot of things together. We have traveled some but not much.

One thing we have always wanted to do was go to New Orleans. You see the husbeast is from New Orleans and it has been a long time since he got to go home. He has been telling me stories about it since we started dating. Honestly the man has a passion for the city, and from what I understand, that is how all natives of the Big Easy are.

We have always talked about going, but things never worked out. Vacations are expensive and time off is precious. I once tried to plan a trip at Christmas to New Orleans. It was going to be a surprise. We were going to drive because gas was still more reasonable then and we would have had to drive to a city with an airport anyways if we wanted to fly. I was having some friends help me secretly plan it. I even started at the end of the summer so I would have plenty of time to save the money for it. I made the decision and set plans into motion and one week later Katrina hit.

Since then we have sort of put off the idea of a New Orleans vacation. For years now we have had our calendars full of weddings and family events that used all our PTO and vacation time. We have also been pretty broke.

Then this past summer Southwest was having a sale on tickets and I checked it out on a whim. To my surprise for the two of us to fly round trip from Dallas was going to be $200 with taxes and everything. That is cheap! I couldn't resist. We were going to have to go during the week, but we both had enough PTO to swing that. So we booked the plane tickets then and there. We were waiting to book hotel rooms until closer to the trip, mostly because we didn't have the money at that exact moment.

About three weeks later is when his work started to make noises like they were going to fire him, and he understandably freaked out. It was looking like this trip was cursed. First hurricanes, now unemployment. We decided to hold off on booking the hotel a little longer to see what happened. When the first 'fire' date came and went we decided we had to make the decision. After looking at finances we decided it was still feasible for us to go. I found a crazy sale on some travel sight and got us a really nice hotel right off Bourbon street for a song.

Since the flight hotel and rental car have been paid for already, him losing his job doesn't effect our plans at all. I had already put aside our spending money and budget, so we are all set to go. I think we have seen hell and high water in the 11 years it has taken to bring this trip to fruition, but we have done it.

Tomorrow at noon we take flight. We will be there four glorious days and three nights. The time has come to set off on adventure!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

That will wake you up in the morning

I am not really a cold sort of person. I was born and raised in Texas, tolerance for oppressive heat is in my DNA. Tolerance for cold however, not so much. Now I am a rational human and I like my temperatures in the mid 70's, but I can stand the heat if I have to, which, lets face it in Texas, you have to.

Tis the season though for the cold. Our temperatures started to drop last week, and we have now woken up to frosty rooftops on more than one occasion. I suppose winter is creeping in already. I am so not prepared for this sort of weather.

This morning I lay all snuggled up under our fluffy white down comforter that we unearthed from the top of the linen closet a couple of weeks ago, and all I could think was 'Don't wanna!'. I didn't want to get out of bed because I knew it would be cold. It was less than 40 outside and we have not turned on the heater yet. Add that to the husbeasts need to have the ceiling fan on full blast, and it is really damn chilly in our room.

The only small consolation to getting up is that we have carpet in the bedroom. I don't miss the hardwood laminate floors for a multitude of reasons, but I most certainly don't miss them at all on a cold morning. Floors and cold air against my bare skin are not the only downfalls to getting out of my snuggly warm bed.

Let us look at the bathroom. First there are no carpets in the bathroom, just cold tile across my bare feet. Then there is the toilet. Someday I want to be rich enough to have a heated toilet seat in the winter. I mean really, ice cold porcelain* on the tushy before you are full awake. Yea that will open your eyes.

Then you turn on the shower. Now we replaced the water heater back in July and we haven't gotten the temperature correctly adjusted yet. The water never gets as hot as I would like it to get. In fact this morning I had it turned all the way to the extreme side of hot, and it was completely tolerable. At that spot on the knob I should be scalding my flesh.

Eventually though you have to get out of the nice steamy warm shower and back into the cold bathroom. Our bathroom has no doors on it. It just leads directly into the bedroom, so there is no warm pocket of steamy air being produced while I shower. In fact that stupid ceiling fan sucks all the hot air out of the bathroom and destroys and vestiges of warmth I had. Wet + cold air = cranky me.

So while I don't particularly miss it being so hot outside that I can't get cold water out of my tap, or that it melts the glue that holds my sneakers together while my shoes sit in my gym bag in the car, I do miss being able to wake up in the morning and not being shocked awake by frigid air and cold porcelain.

*Lots of parks use stainless steel toilets. There is nothing more agonizing than sitting on one of those when it has been below freezing for over a week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We can't all be perfect

I have been thinking lately that I am really good at a lot of things. I don't normally say things like that. I normally fret over everything I do, convinced that it is utter rubbish, even as people tell me it is wonderful. This applies to pretty much everything I do; cooking, writing, sewing, designing, and anything else I do on a regular basis. I promise though, there are some things I just really do not excel at.

I come from a very hands on creative family. Growing up there was nothing we didn't try to do. Make homemade paper out of dryer lint? Easy. Make homemade candles? Not a problem. Build walls one afternoon? Nothing to it. Make flower arrangements that would shame Martha Stewart? Isn't that a typical Sunday for you?

Pick a craft project and my mother probably attempted to do it with me in tow. We made birdhouses, stained glass, glass etchings, decopage, paper mache, and all sorts of things that I can't even remember at this point. She was amazing at all of it. My mother is one of those crafty sort of people. It might take her a couple of tries, but eventually she always figures it out.

Me on the other hand, not so much. I have the vision, but I often times lack in the execution. For example mosaic. Yea that was an experiment that ended up with me having a lot of tiny glass tiles that went to waste. Anything that involves extensive sculpting has proven to be a particularly large downfall of mine, much to my own disappointment.  Knitting and crocheting were fairly unsuccessful as well.

It is not like I tried once, failed, and gave up. Oh no, not me. My mother didn't raise a quitter, especially in the realm of crafts. No I tried and tried. I got books, I had people show me, I made attempt after attempt, and in the end I always failed. My mosaic work looked like something a 6 year old would do with macaroni, my sculpting attempts look like misshapen replicas of the Elephant Man, and my knitting looks...well lumpy is a polite way to put it.

I am alright with my failures though. No one is perfect, including me. I will admit to my strengths; I can make beautiful clothes, I can cook you an amazing meal, and I can write you some entertaining stories. Just don't expect me to knit you a scarf to keep warm.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All roads lead to Palestine

Palestine, Tx that is.

I went to college in a small East Texas town. I was lost in the picturesque piny woods and frankly I loved it. It really was beautiful and almost serene. The one major drawback to the town was that it was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We had to drive nearly two hours to get anywhere that could be considered civilized.

It sort of goes without saying that I spent a lot of time in college driving to other places. I mean honestly there is only so much drinking you can do for entertainment. If we wanted a mall, a real restaurant, or controversial movies*, it called for a road trip. Plus there is nothing quite like a college road trip.

It was during all of this driving around East Texas that I noticed there was always a sign pointing you towards Palestine. Going to Tyler or Dallas there were turns to Palestine. Driving to Houston there were turns to Palestine. Going to Shreveport, you guessed it, Palestine. It seemed like there was no escape of the roads to Palestine. It was almost as though Palestine was the Sun of the East Texas solar system.

I only actually ended up in Palestine once in all my years of driving around those pine lined roads. We were heading back from Tyler and it was well after midnight, and we got lost. It only made sense that when you get lost in East Texas that eventually you will end up in Palestine. We spent some time in a very strange truck stop before an off duty state trooper kindly led us back to the road we wanted to be on to get home.

And then we ran over a couch.
In the fog.
On the highway.
But that is a story for another time.

So now every time I am driving towards East Texas, and I see a sign for Palestine I have this strange sense of comfort. In my mind I know that all roads will eventually lead me there, and if I can find Palestine, I am never truly lost.

* True story: When Dogma came out in theaters it was banned in my colleges town. We had to drive two hours to Tyler Tx to see it. Dogma? Really? But they showed Hostel which was practically soft core porn and gore. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The return of the house husband

As some of you may remember, my husbeast was in danger of losing his job. Well that fear finally manifested into reality, and as of last Friday he is unemployed. I am incredibly relieved. I know that relief is probably not the feeling I should be experiencing here, but it is. The last three or four months have been positive nightmares from the stress he was under. Now we can move on and find him a new job and get on with our lives.

In the meantime, while he searches for employment, the husbeast has dutifully taken on the role of house husband. Long ago, well before we were married, we established ground rules for our cohabitation.If we both were working (or at the time in school) we would share household responsibilities as equally as we could. I did most of the cooking and cleaning, he handles things like garbage and cat boxes. It might not seem like a fair division of labor, but I promise you it works for us.

If one of us should find ourselves unemployed though, their primary function turns to keeping the house clean. If you have nothing else productive to do with your day there is no reason that the chores should not all be done. For a while before we got married I was out of school and out of a job. During this period I made sure the house was always relatively clean and there was food on the table for him when he got home from work. It might sound like some antiquated 1950's idea, and I am sure feminists everywhere are crying out in agony at the idea, but it works for us.

Of course this is an equal expectation. When he is unemployed he takes on this responsibility. I get to make him honey-do lists, and he gets to complete them. I came home last night to some of the clutter cleaned up, a partially clean kitchen, and dinner on the stove. This morning the garbage was on the curb and he had grocery list in hand. I like not having to worry about these little things. I could use a little less stress in my life right now. I don't expect him to do everything, and in fact he is forbidden from doing some things*, but he is pulling his weight where he can.

In the end it is an arrangement that works out for all parties involved. He doesn't feel like he is a useless lump, and I don't have to stress about being the only income earner, and cleaning, and cooking, and going to the store, and keeping the books, and all my other normal day to day tasks.

Hopefully he will soon find a good paying job and things will revert back to the way they normally are. I am not going to lie though, I am enjoying having a house husband while it lasts.

*He is not allowed to really clean the kitchen because I can't stand the way he does things. In the end I always go back behind him and re-clean everything, and one of the things I hate most in this world is redoing something what wasn't done right in the first place.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thoughts on style

I really hope everyone enjoyed reading my true ghost stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. It was nice to stretch my story telling muscles, and I always enjoy writing something I am fairly certain will be entertaining. Over the course of the last week of posts I have stopped to think about the style of my blog.

When I started this blog I didn't really have any set goals as to what I was going to write. I read a lot of blogs that have a specific style; an accounting of day to day activities, strictly political/religious/topic oriented, funny, narrative, and how to among the long list of things you can write about.

I would like to say I have some sort of consistency to the content or style to which my posts are written, but that would be a damn lie. At first I thought that I was bothered by this lack of definition to my writing. I sat there telling myself that I needed to have some set form to what I do.

Then I asked myself, Why? Why do I need a set form? Why do I need to pigeonhole myself into one style? I am not in anyway a set style sort of person. I am random and eclectic. Hell turn on my iPod to shuffle and you will quickly learn that I fit into no mold musically, why should my writing be any different?

So I am going to continue on the way I have. I will post things as I see fit and as the muse dictates. Some of it may be funny, some may be poignant and thought provoking, some may make no sense at all, but it will all be purely me. I do hope you, my small but loyal group of readers, enjoy what I am writing. My ramblings aren't just for me anymore, they are for you as well.