Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Some lists

Products I would like to endorse

I'll endorse them for free, but if you want to pay me money, by all means.

1. Downy Wrinkle Release. I know, it sounds like a scam, but it is the BEST THING EVER. Spray your crushed-by-the-cat-in-the-worst-possible-way shirt, hang it up, and go to sleep. When you get up in the morning, ta-da! Unwrinkled shirt.* Cat hair will still be affixed, however, because it is Downy Wrinkle Release and not Downy Total Miracle.

2. Progresso Soup. So much better than Campbell's. Still tastes like it came from a can, but that's better than tasting like a can is one of the major ingredients (mmm, tin). I enjoyed the Sirloin Steak and Vegetable, and the Chicken Herb Dumpling flavors.

3. Those liquidy highlighters. Perfect for articles and various other sorts of academic drivel that students are made to read. I stole one from my roommate in college and was hooked from there. At that point they only made pink and yellow, so I hope they've expanded their spectrum now that I'm getting ready to go back to school and will need highlighters again.

4. Garner's Modern American Usage The usage Bible. Get one and stop irritating me with your grammatical incompetence.

5. Aussie Leave-In Conditioning Spray. After I ruined my hair with ill-advised dye attempts, this gem of a product went a long way toward keeping my hair on my head. Bonus: I got it on close-out at Walgreens for half price.

6. Target. I realize that this is not so much a product as an entire store, but I love Target, and have on several occasions stated my desire to marry Target. (It is at the top of my "To Be Proposed To" list, right before "Jon Stewart" and "Nit Noi's Padd Thai.") If I got married, I would live in the laundry aisle (best-smelling place in the entire world) and subsist entirely on candy. It's like the ideal life. If I ever had to divorce Target, I would demand half its assets, which is a tidy sum. I might be willing to settle for the entire Issac Mizrahi clothing line and my weight in jelly beans.

*Presuming you haven't hung it somewhere that the cats could reach it and pull it off the hanger to re-crush it. True story.

The Dr. N.N. Mind Food Reference Guide

Foods I won't eat
raw tomatoes
anything cherry-flavored
hot dogs
most kinds of nuts
maple syrup
cheese blintzes
bacon (breakfast can be quite difficult for me)
black jelly beans
Soda that isn't brown
Fig Newtons
dried pineapple or papaya

Foods I don't like, but will tolerate if you're nice to me
Tex-Mex (particularly beans and rice)
most cheese

Foods that, based on the previous two lists, you wouldn't think I would like, but which I actually quite enjoy
tomato soup (particularly with grilled cheese sandwiches)
corn dogs

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Although the Diamond Shamrock All-Stars might suggest otherwise

I think I'm not really attractive enough to live in my neighborhood.

I went to the laundromat tonight, where Tuesday is evidently Hot Guys Night. Multiple hot guys came into the laundromat while I was there, some to pick up dry cleaning, some to do eight bazillion loads of indeterminate color. (Is this a guy thing, the not sorting?) There was even a quasi-striptease, as one of the hot guys decided his shirt was dirty and needed to go into the wash, as well. He was wearing an undershirt underneath, much to the disappointment of everyone in the room. (Yeah, I'm pretty sure the other Hot Guy was actually a Hot Gay, but whatever.) I had a few nice little fantasies that generally ended with imagining myself saying, "Yes, I met your father at the laundromat—we were both using Cheer Dark, you see...." I stress fantasy, though, because these guys were far too good-looking to even contemplate talking to.

After I finished my laundry, I stopped off at the nearest Kroger, which my friend H. calls the "Beautiful People" Kroger. She's not wrong. It's constantly full of people that are above-average attractive. And I would say the demographic skews young, too, so there's always the potential of bumping into a looker while you're both reaching for the instant breakfast or Ramen or whatever. Unfortunately this has never happened to me, and not because my spatial perception is particularly acute. The only time I've been stopped in Kroger was because some guy wanted to ask about my T-shirt. (It was for my brother's alma mater and he had evidently played college there back in the day...yeah, I don't know).

I don't know what the situation is in the neighborhood bars, but I suspect it's more of the same. I know the restaurant across the street from my house is constantly full of gorgeous guys, because I can see them going in and out from my front windows. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in this lease, so I can't move to somewhere where people are of comparable cuteness. Like Hoboken.

Monday, February 14, 2005

"Happy Valentine's Day and all that MUSHY [crap]."

What the Oscar-the-Grouch Valentine set my boss brought in today said. More or less.

Just a quick note obliquely related to Valentine's Day:

If you know me, and you think you might ever, at some misty point in the future, have cause to get me flowers, let me assure you: you don't.

I can't think of a more pointless gift than flowers, unless it's, I really can't think of anything.

Don't get me wrong; I love flowers. I think they're gorgeous and frequently I wear a ring with my favorite flower, the calla lily, on it. However, if you're going to spend money on me, which I thoroughly encourage, make it something that I'll actually like. Namely, cash. (My mother got on this bandwagon this year—she sent me $10 and a baffling cartoon of two toasterheads from the New Yorker. I bought a shirt. And just to prove I'm not a total V-Day hater, I'll tell you that it was pink, and I wore it today.)

Or, you know, a nice gift certificate. Or a book if you must. Something along those lines. Not something that's going to die in a week, leaving me with a mess of dry petals and a cheap vase. If you insist on being pedestrian, I like chocolates, but no nuts.
You know who else better not hold their collective breath? The cats.

Most bizzare feeling ever: being offered over a quarter of a million dollars in two weeks but knowing that it assures your poverty for the next five years. It just doesn't quite add up.

I applied to nine graduate schools, including one school that I was almost sure would reject me and two that would certainly accept me, no matter what. The other six are solid, if not Ivy League, and they have good matches in my interest area (psychoanalytic criticism/memoir). So far, I've heard back from four (Mizzou, Wash U, and Iowa), and they've combined to offer me over $250,000. Well, Kansas offered me diddly squat, so they can probably just not hold their collective breath. But the rest of them are solidly in the running, at least until I hear back from the other five (Cornell, SUNY Buffalo, Vanderbilt, Kent State, and University of Washington).

The thing is, though, that no matter where I go, my salary is going to be cut in half, and I'm not living large now, although I'm certainly not poverty stricken. But if I accept, for example, Wash U's offer, I'll be living on less than $1,000 a month, which could be a challenge. Although maybe it won't be so bad, as I'll also have no friends and thousands of pages of reading to do. I'll spend $600 on rent, $100 on transportation, and the rest on chocolates until I'm so fat I can't leave the apartment anymore and the cats eventually eat my face. These are the things I think about when I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and have two pairs of slitty eyes staring at me. Sometimes it's unclear why I'm going to graduate school and not a mental institution.

Really, my big question is this: I don't know if it would be better to know that by the time this is all over, I could have $500K or $750K in offers and pick whatever school I want, or to have one $100,000 offer and be grateful that somebody wanted me and that I'll be able to become Dr. N.N. Mind without filing a Chapter 11.

In other news, I spent the weekend looking gift horses in the mouth. They have big sharp teeth.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Proof that the internet is, in fact, an addictive substance

As I write, at this very moment, I am walking on my treadmill.

I know. I'm the coolest person ever.

The story of me and the computer and the treadmill isn't particularly interesting; it just involves extreme boredom while exercising on my part and an excess of loose lumber on my apartment's, plus inspiration from this article that my mother sent me. See, my father built me a makeshift bookshelf a few years ago that was dismantled when I moved and never reassembled because my current apartment has built-in bookshelves. So I have five damn heavy pieces of six-foot particleboard just lying around. Plus, I own a handsaw.

So, I sawed a piece of particle board in half and laid it across the hand-holds of my treadmill. Okay, that's simplifying a bit to make myself look less stupid. What I actually did was lay the six-foot piece of particleboard across the hand-holds and kind of let that sit for a couple of days because I was lazy, but I was mildly afraid that one of the cats was going to jump up on it, walk out to the unsupported end, and then kill herself by tipping it over, concussing her head on the nearby doorknob, and then being decapitated by the end of falling board. So I decided to cut the particleboard. That was an adventure in itself, as I'd never actually sawed anything, but I managed to get it done and retain possession of all my fingers. I decided that sawing things is far easier than nailing them, so I'm going to do it more often. Look out coffeetable.

After that, it was just a matter of buying a longer LAN cable (we're not all fancy and wireless around here) and going to it, which is, as I said, what I'm doing right now. I'm going a little over two miles an hour, which surprisingly has little effect on my (already questionable) typing. The mouse skills are suffering a bit, but it's not like my every click might launch a bomb. I'm not playing Minesweeper.

Will this mild bit of DIY genius actually contribute to any improvement in my health? I don't know, but if it can make me less resistant to the damnable treadmill, it's worth a shot. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get off this moving band and go saw myself a shorter bed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Nobody says "I love you"

My mother decided over Christmas that she had permanently ruined her children.

This idea is my sister's fault, and not just because this sister (E3) is intermittently insane. No, my sister informed my mother that we weren't affectionate enough as a family.

She has a point, especially if you're into attachment parenting or some other newfangled, New Age, non-Midwestern family reltionship fad. The six of us are not a very touchy group. I get a hug when I come home (sometimes; my sisters are hit-or-miss), a hug when I leave (again, sometimes my sisters can't be buggered to even GET OUT OF BED), and that satisfies the hug quotient for the year, really. And I'm fine with that. We've never been very openly affectionate, and to this day I don't really like to be touched. As I explained to my sister when we talked about it (we being the women of the family), it makes me feel squirmy inside.*

In fact, when I was younger, I used to think that some families were a little too much with the affection. On the rare occasions that I spent the night at my cousin's, I used to dread bedtime because I knew I was going to have to give my aunt a kiss, and it creeped me out. I mean, my aunt was a little off in other ways—who puts mayonnaise on a cheese sandwich, honestly?—but this was what bugged me the most. I didn't kiss my mother or my grandmother, and I actually liked them. I certainly didn't want give my aunt a kiss just because I was going to bed.

I watched other parents coddle and caress their children into rebellious hellions, and I just didn't get it. I preferred my parents' time-honored method of showing affection: buying me a book, making me dinner, and breaking a wooden spoon on my butt when I needed it. (All right, I admit I didn't appreciate this latter thing until a few years ago. And that it was my brother on whose butt the wooden spoon was originally broken. Aaaaand that it was probably because of a weak spot in the wood, and not because my mother was strong like bull. But still. It was a good system.) When my best friend's mother took every opportunity to kiss and hug her children, I was like, dude, lady, at least one of those kids is going to grow up to be a politician or a stoner. So far this hasn't come true, but there's time.

I've never doubted that my parents love and adore all four of us, even that time when I wasn't speaking to my mother and so my dad threw a glassful of water at me during dinner, but I don't really need them to tell me all the time. Like, I get it. Lay off. Fortunately, they also get it, and they lay off, except when my mother occasionally tells me on the phone. My father hasn't told me he loves me in recent memory. Instead he straightens out my insurance and builds me bookshelves, and really, which is more valuable? I can't get cavities filled with an "I love you," is all I'm saying.

My sisters and I have basically come to the realization that we aren't warped, although I don't know that my mother is convinced. Probably because my sisters are cruel and have run with the fact that I told them being hugged and saying "I love you" makes me squirmy, and they use it to torture me. I called home yesterday to tell my mother that the insurance company was still under the delusion that my first name is Lester (or that my father lives in Houston), and my sister (E4) walked in the door while she was talking to me. This is what I heard:

E4: Who is that?
Mom: It's your sister.
E4: [Unintelligible]
Mom: No, Erin.
E4: Oh! Make her say it.
Mom: (to me) Your sister wants you to say it.
Me: Say what?
E4: Make her say it!
Me: I don't know what she's talking about. [Because I didn't, at that point.]
Mom: (to E4) Do you want to talk to her?
At that point, my sister grabbed the phone.
E4: You have to say it.
Me: Say what? What are you talking about?
E4: (cloyingly) Oh, I think you know.
Me: Oh. No, I'm not going to say that.
E4: You have to say it.
Me: You know, I talked to E3 on IM the other day, and she didn't make me say it.
E4: You didn't say it? You don't mean it?
Me: I didn't say it. [At this point I start laughing because my sister is being faux pitiful and ridiculous. And stubborn.]
E4: You have to say it.
Me: Fine. I love you. Get off the phone.
E4: I love you tooooooo! Bye.

All right, we are warped. But none of us are politicians.

*I'm fine with some physical contact; I don't live in a bubble. I've had boyfriends and I occasionally hug my close friends. I just don't think it needs to be out of control. Personal space, people. I'm a Midwesterner.