Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why yes, I DO need an extra set of steak knives

Dear Etiquette Expert,

What is the polite way to tell a friend, "no thanks, but I don't think I'd like to attend an -ahem!- "adult" party for XYZ Pyramid Scheme, where a pushy saleswoman will attempt to pressure me into buying crap I don't need (or at the very least, giving her my contact information so that she can spam me for the rest of my life)"?

Love,
Jane

Dear Jane,

How about, "Friends don't let friends pressure them with direct sales" or "I will only voluntarily subject myself to guilt trips given by elderly family members (and sometimes Al Gore), not those given by a type A suburban soccer mom and a room full of my so-called friends"?

Another tactic would be to start an urban legend. For example, you could try the old "A friend of a friend told me that direct home sales parties are just fronts for helping drug dealers and thieves launder money. I heard that at one party, a gang of bandits bust in and stole everyone's identities. With guns."

Or you could just say no, firmly but politely.

It's up to you.

Love,
Etiquette Expert

Armpit of Texas

Dear Houston,

Every so often, a storm will come into the Gulf, and we'll get a strong wind from the southeast.

"Ugh," people will say. "It smells like Houston."

Now it's beginning to make sense why Houston smells so bad. According to the New York Times, Houston is trashy.

Houstonians may say they're too "independent" to recycle; I think they're just too lazy.

In addition to citing a backwards mentality for the city's poor recycling rates, Houston blames lack of money due to the expense of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the logistical difficulties of trying to coordinate recycling programs in a sprawling city with no zoning laws. Considering that (according to Wikipedia) the Houston area has a bigger economy than Austria, Poland or Saudi Arabia, I have my doubts that Houston is truly hurting that badly for cash (or, for that matter, civil engineers to figure out a way to work around the zoning issues).

C'mon, Houston. If you were really of the "Old West" mentality, you wouldn't whine so much. Reduce already.

Your friend,
Jane

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend Weirdness Rambling

Dear Internets,

Oh, the weekend, it was weird.

Friday, my mom called me and told me that I'd gotten a package in the mail. I hadn't been expecting anything (especially not delivered to my parents' house) so I asked her to open it.

It was a cell phone.

I immediately started getting visions of getting one of those phone calls that starts with a vague threat and ends with me running across the city with 20,000 deutschmarks in a desperate attempt to stop my boyfriend/a madman/a disgruntled former employee of my workplace from getting himself arrested/kidnapping a family member/blowing up the city, all while dramatic music plays in the background. I didn't even have my running shoes on!

Fortunately, it turned out to be some weird marketing ploy, so the only dramatic decision I'll have to make is whether or not to sell the phone on eBay.

Saturday morning, I was running late for my training group, and ended up getting a speeding ticket. The ticket said I was going 70 in a 60, but I later re-drove the route and realized it was really 70 in a 65. It's tempting to attempt to contest the ticket on those grounds, but really, I was speeding and deserved to get pulled over. While I can definitely think of many MANY ways I'd rather spend $150, I have no one to blame for the expense but myself and my lead foot.

After my lonely run (the group was gone by the time I finally arrived) I headed to work at the second job for a few hours. Thankfully, the morning at work passed without any major snafus. After work, we took Bailey out to the lake (he loved the water, hated actually swimming) and then met a friend out for dinner. My friend has just finished student teaching, and had awesome stories to tell.

Sunday, I took Bailey on a walk, read a magazine out by the pool for a couple of hours, went to work yet again, bought groceries for the week, and then split a pitcher of beer with a friend at a local pub.

I took Bailey with me to the pub. I used to brag that I had exposed him to almost everything recommended by his puppy kindergarten teacher as part of his puppy socialization. However, last night I realized I'd missed at least one thing: cigarettes. A lady was smoking outside the entrance (the smoking ban really just moves smokers out to the sidewalks), and wanted to discuss how much her dog looked like Bailey. Bailey found her absolutely terrifying, and hid behind my legs until she went away. I found the whole situation amusing in a kind of "wow, what a sheltered life we lead, Bales and I," kind of way.

I think that's enough rambling for now, Internets. I hope your weekend was enjoyable.

Love,
Jane

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sometimes you feel like a nut

Dear Internets,

I just finished a breakfast of peanut butter crackers and a mini Almond Joy bar. (Note to self: consider possibility that poor eating habits could have something to do with the lack of energy and motivation you've been complaining about lately...)(Response to self: quit nagging and pass me a diet soda.)

The day has barely started, but I can't wait for it to be over so that I can go back to bed. I am working all weekend, so I don't know why I'm so glad that it's Friday. The bad thing about working on weekends is that it has fueled my tendency to procrastinate. Monday through Friday, I'll look at my to-do list and think, "Oh, most of those things take too long. I'll wait until the weekend to tackle them, when I'm not so tired." Then the weekend comes along, I end up working more hours than I do during the week, and I put things off until the next week. It's a vicious cycle. (Note to self: consider possibility that working too many hours could have something to do with the aforementioned energy and motivation issues.)(Response to self: wouldn't Jane and the Vicious Cycles be a great band name?)

I don't think I'll have time to do much this weekend, but I do the afternoon off tomorrow, so I think I'm going to take Bailey out to the lake. He hasn't really been out to the lake since he was a puppy, so I'm curious to see what he thinks about it.

Anyhoo, it should be interesting. I hope your weekend is delightful Internets.

Love,
Jane

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow

Dear Hairstylists of the World,

Why do you compliment my thick hair in one breath, and then come at me with thinning shears in the next? Especially after I've insisted that I like my cut and the relative lengths of all of the layers, and really (no, REALLY) just want you to trim up the ends?

Thinning shears terrify me. They remind me of the Achy Breaky Mistakey incident. Also, I think all the different lengths of individual hairs result in more frizz when I wear my hair curly.

Thankfully, I'm fairly certain that the stylist who cut my hair yesterday did not work herself into a mullet-inducing frenzy with the thinning shears. She straightened my hair, though, so I'll have to see what happens when I let it dry curly.

Yours (with some trepidation),
Jane

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From L. privatus "set apart, belonging to oneself"

Dear Internets,

Is it weird to google perform a search using the wonderful search engine Google on yourself and be relieved when nothing pops up?

A few days ago, I got an email asking me to follow up on a comment I left on a blog. A writer wanted to use my comment, full name, and photo in an article that she was writing in a weekly business journal.

Oh dear.

I was flattered that the writer had actually thought something I said was even semi-worthy of being published in a magazine. (After all, most of my ramblings revolve around things like cute-ening up my cubicle.)

But any self-indulgent thoughts about voicing my thoughts non-anonymously on the Internets immediately gave way to worries about potential future bosses googling performing a search using the wonderful search engine Google on me, and thinking that I'm a crazy person, with a glue gun in one hand and a Beadazzler in the other. (I mean before the interview, when I wouldn't have even had the chance to present them with a rhinestone-encrusted thank-you card.)

I feel guilty, Internets. I mean, I guess it maybe makes me think that it's a bit hypocritical of me to want privacy online yet maintain a blog?

Anyhoo Internets, I think that's enough self-absorbed worrying. I'm off to go find myself a Snickers.

XOXO,
Jane

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mundane

Dear Self,

Your to-do list for the week:
  • email tutoring student.
  • finish writing and testing modules at work.
  • wrap T's birthday present.
  • run.
  • clean fish tank.
  • turn in time sheets for 2nd job.
  • get haircut.
  • grade essays.
  • buy stamps.
  • do laundry/drop off dry cleaning.
  • stop falling asleep by 9:00 p.m. every night.
I don't know how you handle this constant excitement. Please, tone it down a bit.

Yours (with only a little sarcasm),
Jane

Friday, July 18, 2008

Energy Expenditures

Dear Internets,

Sometimes, I think I have less energy than most of my friends. Well, not less energy, exactly. I think it's a different type of energy.

We all like bar trivia, Rock Band/Trivial Pursuit nights, and in general, being giant nerds. But sometimes, they're a little more "let's go see the Batman movie on opening weekend," while I'm a little more "that sounds kind of exhausting, let's do a road trip to watch baby sea turtles be released instead."

Some of the other things I've suggested we do lately:

Chicken Sh*t Bingo. (I call it "Chicken Poo Bingo," because I'm not cool enough to pull off using curse words.) There's a bar here where every Sunday, they put a chicken on a giant "bingo board" (aka, a table with a grid of numbers on it) and people make bets on where the chicken will do its business. Cock fighting would never have become popular if someone had just thought of this first, let me tell you.

Topaz hunting or berry picking. Although it is about a zillion degrees outside, I think these are both activities I'd brave the heat for. It's like socially-acceptable treasure hunting! We'd be like the Goonies (or the Goonies of increasing your fiber intake, depending).

Shakespeare at Winedale. Students from UT perform Shakespeare in a barn near Round Top, Texas. It's Shakespeare! In the country! Plus, I think you can bring your own wine.

Baseball Game. Sure, not everyone likes baseball. In fact some people seriously hate it. But you can carry on a whole conversation, drink a beer and eat artery-clogging food, and still follow the game. Plus, it's the Minor League, so it doesn't all cost $792. What's not to like?

My friends just think I'm crazy, I think. Of course, I do sometimes suggest normal activities, like doing mini spa days, taking cooking classes, watching musical theater in the park, touring one of the nearby vineyards, or going cliff diving. And sometimes I can get them to go along with my plans. But more often than not, it's "Barn Dancing? You must be crazy."

Oh well, Internets. One day they'll come around.

Love ya,
Jane

P.S. I've worked a lot of extra hours this week. I'm really tempted to ask to leave 30 minutes early tonight so that I can drive out to see the Old 97's play in some place called Helote, TX. I need some Rhett Miller time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mmmm.... Donuts...

Dear Blog,

I am going to take the day off*. And possibly eat a dang donut. And there's nothing you can do to stop me. Muahahahaha....

Love,
Jane

*Take the day off from blogging. After several days of working 8 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., I wish I could take the day off entirely... Le sigh.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh dear...

Dear Media,

Dumb people say dumb things on the internet all the time. This doesn't mean that you should report them in the news. Yes, James Conradt put silly things on the internet. It would have been wrong to spread untruths about the OU players regardless of whether or not the news media picked up on them. To paraphrase Mike Gundy, these guys are just kids.

But if you're so upset by false media reports, please stop saying Al Gore invented the internet. Yes, you are sports journalists, and thus, not naturally inclined to do things like fact check (see above), but that is just annoying, even if you thought you were being ironic.

Love,
Jane

Roommates

Dear Internets,

What are your thoughts on roommates? I have lived alone by choice since college graduation. Despite a sometimes tight budget, I haven't really considered getting a roommate. But... a friend just asked me if she could stay with me for three or four months until she can move into a house with another friend.

I am wary of roommates, mostly because I'm terrible at living with other people. During college, I tried living with a roommate three times. My first roommate was essentially a stranger (we technically met each other while visiting the college as high school seniors, but didn't really get to know each other until we lived together our freshman year in the dorm). The roommate relationship was OK, mostly because she was super easygoing. (I was a terrible roommate - somewhat messy, depressed and weird, boyfriend around all the time, etc.) We kept in touch off and on after we moved out of the dorm, but lost touch after I transferred to a different school.

My second roommate was my high school best friend (now forever known as Psycho Ex-Roommate). She was bipolar/borderline personality with a boyfriend who was over all the time; I was stubborn yet conflict-avoidant and going through a messy breakup. The living situation (and the last remaining shreds of our friendship) ended with her throwing a rock through my living room window. We don't speak.

My third roommate was a coworker. She was a neat freak, so I did my absolute best to curb my messy tendencies. She was mostly good-natured about my few lapses (including unknowingly tracking tar all over the apartment), and I did my best to be a considerate roommate. She did have a lot of friends stay over on our couch (including my ex-boyfriend), but overall, we got along OK. Although neither one of us wanted to renew our lease, we're still friendly.

I thought I was done with my roommate days, but I guess I'm considering it again. I don't know if I want to live with another roommate, though, even for a few months. My friend has cats; I'm allergic. She has told me more than once how annoyed she gets by roommates with boyfriends; I have one of those as well. I'm fairly sure her clothes collection (she has more than will fit into her 10'X6' walk-in closet) will not fit into the tiny closets in my condo. While I like fish, I'm not sure her 100 gallon aquarium will fit in my tiny living room, and it's definitely too heavy for the flooring upstairs. Also, I have a history of alienating roommates, and don't want to jeopardize our friendship.

On the other hand, I don't want her to be in a tight spot, and I wouldn't mind a little more flexibility in my budget for a few months. But I think I still have to tell her no. Does that make me a terrible person? Be honest, Internets.

Love ya,
Jane

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Unintentionally Funny

Dear Internets,

On my way home from my run this morning, I passed a sign inviting kids to sign up for youth cheerleading.

The name of the cheerleading squad?

Hot Balls.

No, I'm not kidding.

Shaking my head,
Jane

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hook 'em?

Dear Random Horn on the Highway,

What were you doing on the highway this morning, random horn?

You looked like one half of a set of those Cadillac horns people used to (supposedly) drive around with. (I've never seen any on a car in real life, except at Texas football games and amusement parks. And possibly once at a Hard Rock Cafe. On a school trip. Don't judge us. We were in middle school.)

If that is where you came from, where's your other half? Why were you out there all alone?

You were such a strange combination of loneliness, mysteriousness and danger. (If you were a man, I probably would have fallen in love immediately.)

I spent most of the rest of my drive trying to decide what would be a more random sight on the highway: half of a set of longhorn horns (like you) or some sort of brass horn, like a trumpet. On the one hand, a brass horn could easily fall out of a moving truck unnoticed.

On the other hand, this is Texas...

Yours bemusedly,
Jane

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Unmotivated, pt. 2

Dear Motivational Speakers,

You are really, I suppose, not all that bad. You give people hope that they can turn things around, be better people, and live the life of their dreams. Have confidence! Believe in yourself! Doors (or windows!) will surely open!

Whee! Sounds like fun.

Unfortunately, some of us (ahem, me) are somewhat lazy, marginally attractive people with liberal arts degrees. Doors are not exactly going to start flying open for us just because we get some self-confidence. In fact, we (ahem, I) might just need to suck it up and stop whining. The odds that we're going to find our dream jobs (or rather, realize our dreams of somehow becoming independently wealthy) are slim at this point.

What I think we (ahem, I) need is demotivational speakers. We need someone to say, "Hey kiddo, it could be a lot worse. Most people never find their 'life's passion.' And you know what? That's OK. Things can get a lot worse than 'vaguely dissatisfied.' Most people have average lives. Start expecting mediocrity from yourself, and you won't be disappointed."

Hmmm... Maybe I do have a calling after all...

XOXO,
Jane

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Impulse Runner

Dear Endorphins,

I signed up for the half marathon. I blame it on your influence - I got excited about running again after my lunchtime jog around the lake. Here goes nothing...

Jane

To Half or Not to Half

Dear Internets,

The deadline is fast approaching for me to decide whether or not I want to train for a half marathon in November. On one hand it's hooooooooot outside, so I'd have to start long runs around 7:00 a.m. on weekends. I'd also probably need new running shoes before the race. And I don't exactly have hours of extra time on my hands (see 2nd job).

On the other hand, I know I need something to push me to get up and move. I love training with a group, I love pushing my limits, and I love having an excuse to have a second helping of dessert. Also, my sister and brother-in-law offered to run the race with me for support, which would probably be really fun (and motivating - they're FAST).

It'll probably end up being a question of whether or not I wake up in time Saturday morning to meet with the training group. I guess we'll see...

Love ya,
Jane

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wordplay, pt. 2

Dear Fellow Trivia Buffs,

About a week ago, I challenged the Internets to a game of trivia. Here are the answers to the questions I posted, just in case Google is broken or something.

-What city was originally named Lutetia?
Paris


-What country's Latin name is Helvetica?
Switzerland

-What is the only winning poker hand that requires at least one wild card?
Five of a Kind

I promised to write a poem about anyone who gave the correct answers in the comments. Perhaps wisely, no one responded. However, I decided not to let you get out of hearing my bad poetry that easily. Here are poems for my two commenters on that post.
Saving Diva Haiku.

Diva of Finance
I wonder if her first name
is really "Saving"?

Still here? Yay! Here's more:
Talking Cupcake Double Take.

In a land where dorks defend their chairs
With baked-goods slander and awkward stares
And skirts are made of human hair

Mermaids swim by on roller skates
Cupcakes converse on gilded plates
and lady lawyers emigrate

You may learn a thing or two
like owl pellets are not poo
And things taste better with tofu

Cupcake photos tempt your eyes
(and stomachs, and perhaps your thighs)
But basil might just steal the prize
OK... I am going to stop now, before you pull an Oedipus on me and gouge out your eyes. If you are celebrating the 4th of July this weekend, have fun and be safe!

Love always,
Jane

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wordplay, pt. 1

Dear Words,

You can be lovely, sometimes.

Love,
Jane

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unmotivated

Dear Ability to Self-Motivate,

Please come back to me. I miss you.

Love,
Jane