Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread (TGTSSB)

I already knew that Greg was fantastic, but recent events merely confirm that he is The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread (TGTSSB):

- Given my major deadlines and stressful work life going on at the moment, I declared no more cooking or other hobby-ing for two weeks until all of my deadlines have cleared
- He replied that he would take care of it
- I said thanks, we'll have fun eating out more
- He said, no, he'll cook. And shop. And take care of the dogs. And do all of the cleaning. And basically just let me sit in the office for two weeks and work without having a single responsibility, stopping in every once and a while to give me a hug and ask me how it's going

Not only did he say he would do this...but he actually has done all of the things listed above. Everything. Cleaning, shopping, everything. He's not just cooking, but he's cooking* the way I like to cook so that I can get the food that I enjoy (and boy am I a foodie): healthy, nutritious, mind motivating food. I am currently enjoying a fantastic packed lunch.

Gosh I love TGTSSB. Thanks to Greg for being awesomely supportive.

*also occasionally bringing me fresh glasses of water with sliced lemon. He's a keeper.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I am a mean, lean...err, blogging? machine!

Okay, so I've had a little trouble lately. Well, a lot of trouble. Between the wedding, some general meloncholy, PMS, other sorts of "women troubles", and I don't know what else...I have been completely and utterly unable to concentrate.

Normally this would not be such a terrible thing. I blessed with a fairly flexible, albeit extremely low paying, job that I can make my own hours in and get work done when I want to. That's all great. Except for now. When I have a huge deadline. A major, major, gigantic deadline. Something unavoidable. Something that I am entirely and singularly responsible for.

So I started early. Real early. I was quite proud of myself. I got a good running jump into the project, hit brick wall, sat back for a minute and decided that, hmm, what I really need is some perspective. I'll take a few weeks (2) to do some other things, return to this, and bang the whole thing out in no time at all.

Yeah right.

2 weeks turned into 3 weeks. I returned to the project, expecting it all to fly by so quickly... and realized that I am just as burned out now as I was 3 weeks ago, only now I have 3 less weeks with which I can make this all come together.

I have been struggling to say the least. And I have been in a terribly mood as a result. And I have also been succeptible to all sorts of distractions.

Until now: this lovely saturday morning, where I am sitting holed up in my office with ~100 journal articles categorized in neat little piles on the table in front of me and a 20 page report that needs about 10 more pages and all-of-the-figures-completely-reworked like a blinking little reminder on my laptop.

I am doing fantastic. I am a mean, lean, writing machine.......


I am a mean, lean, keeping on task machine......



I admit it.

I'm a mean, lean, blogging machine!

(Somebody save me!!!)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sam The Fish: RIP

Just recently I mentioned that one of the things that I love about Greg is how he insists on keeping the one tiny fish alive that we have sitting in a huge 50 gallon tank (all of the other fish got The Ick and died several months ago). This tiny little thing, no more than a few cm's in length, had a tremendously traumatic day... which ended by his eventual demise in a much smaller (but better decorated) home.

Here's how the day proceeded.

8:00am Humans feed fish. Best Part of Day.
8:50am Humans gone for the day. Swimming, swimming, swimming . . .
1:00pm (Approximately) Strange splitting noise... that's odd. Swimming, swimming, swiming . . .
1:10pm Sound of dropping water. Where's that coming from?
2:00pm Volume of house appears to be decreasing slowly.
3:00pm Rapidly losing water!!
4:00pm Water everywhere! Dogs confused! Nowhere left to swim!
4:30pm Somebody come home! Situation getting dire! Fish can't swim around anymore!
5:30pm Humans return. Mop up water. Can't find fish. Tank is ruined, almost no water left.
5:45pm Humans locate fish! Save little critter (now named Sam) in small glass jar.
6:20pm Human female delights in locating larger glass house for fish: decorates with pretty clean pebbles and lush green plants. Smaller house, but nicer! Better real estate too.
6:30pm Human conditions water, tests for pH and ammonia. Looks good! Pours little Sam into his new home
6:40pm Sam free to swim around in new home
7:00pm Following apparent suicide attempt, new home is covered with heavy book.
9:00pm Humans return to check on Sam, find him Belly Up at the bottom of his new clean house.

What a sad day for that little fish!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mind Mush Madness

Dear someone please save me from this mind-mush-madness.

My mind is total mush. Completely and utter mud. I can't think, analyze, or write. I am quite able to waste hours upon hours of time surfing the net, looking at Italian villas, or cooking way too fancy meals that are quickly consumed and require cleaning up after . . . but I seem to be incapable of work. Any kind of work. Even knowing that I have a very serious deadline rapidly approaching - knowing that I am reaching the point of no return, when there's literally not enough time to prepare the things to have them finished in time for the deadline - even then, I can't seem to focus.

Is this a function of the wedding planning? The bad weather? My almost always varying mood? Maybe I'm just burned out or something... I did work really hard in the weeks leading up to my currently general malaise. Or is just PMS?! (something I think all women recognize, but hate to admit)

Whateva' it is, I don't like it!

(P.S. I think my MMM title is fantastic. I've always appreciated strings of words that all start with the same letter)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mangled Apple Pie

OH MY GOD. She's smashing up a store bought apple pie and layering it with carved out baked phillo dough shells and cool whip / cream cheese / powdered sugar cream filling.


Have I ever mentioned that I dislike the cooking show, Semi Homemade by Sandra Lee?

I am really into cooking. Cooking relaxes me and eating fulfills me. It's a great little cycle that keeps me happy and busy, something I am, I dare say, quite good at. It is an artistic endeavor at its best, with roots to be respected and admired. The little content noises that Greg makes as he enjoys my hobby make it even better. I hardly watch any TV, but when I do watch it, it is always Food TV (I don't think I can emphasize how much always that always is). I learned to cook from my favorites on Food TV: Michael, Giada, Rachael, and Ina. If you watch Food TV, you know instantly who I am talking. I appreciate Michael and Giada for their Simple Italian. I like that Rachael makes 30 minutes meals (good, healthy 30 minute meals) accessible to housewives around the country, and I really appreciate the incredible care and attention that goes into Ina's french cuisine.

But here's the catch. I cannot stand Sandra Lee. She does none of the following:
  1. shorten the cooking time
  2. be sensitive to essential components of ethnic cuisine
  3. reduce the number or cost of ingredients
  4. decrease calorie content, fat content, carb content, or meat content
  5. make things easier or less complicated
  6. make things wholesome or healthy
  7. make things that taste good

The worst part of it is that they (the producers?) dress her up in cleavage revealing tops and theatrical props (hats, bracelets, Other Weird Stuff, etc) that always coordinate with the color of that show's theme (or, horror, maybe she does it herself?!), be it orange for "Mexicano!" or pink for "Girls Night In!". It reminds me of "Better Homes and Gardens" housewife material from the 50s. She'll spend 30 minutes describing how to make something that actually takes several hours to prepare - and what it is a almost-pure-sugar cake to give to a group of 5 year olds that pairs well with the Pigs in a Blanket, doctored Mac N Cheese, homemade-ish Mashed Potatoes, and All Other Things Of A Homogeneous Color.

But I'll be damned if the cake isn't covered red sprinkles and lit sparklers, sitting on a magical "Tablescape" that matches the color of the birthday candles - which oh so coincidentally coordinates with the "Mixed Fruit Punch" cocktail drink and her very own red v-neck cashmere sweater (matching scrunchie)

I once saw a whole show of hers on semi-homemade deserts, and literally all 5 recipes involved at least one package of instant pudding. Together, we discovered the wonders of banana instant pudding, raspberry instant pudding, and strawberry instant pudding, all used in interesting and creative ways to produce something that tastes exactly the same: terrible artificial confection

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rhetorical Questions and Crying

I knew this was coming. I knew it had to happen.

The Breakdown.

The Loosing-It.

The Planning-a-wedding-really-sucks-and-why-do-I-have-to-do-this Bratty Complaining Fit.

Here's the thing. I'm not really into the whole wedding thing. I never pictured it. I never thought about it. All I wanted was an amazing man - and that I actually have. The rest of it? Bah. I can do this all myself - who on earth would ever hire a wedding planner? JCew wedding dress, it is! No flowers, no decorations - yes I can do this! Getting married in a far away location, certainly! All if I can avoid this hassle of a I- don't- like- planning- but- I'm- doing- it- for- my- mother event!


Still, there's something to be said about the traditional wedding - the self-centered, over-priced, super-hyped 6-hour event. There's something to be said about having the opportunity to have a fuss made over oneself. When else will other women bake me penis-shaped cookies and adorn themselves in toilet paper wedding dresses? I mean, come on - this is important fuss-making!

A few congratulatory calls people? Maybe an engagement gift? Anyone wanna' throw me a party?

Such rhetorical questions actually led tears, great upsetness, and much comforting on the part of Greg... concluded by the equivalent of make up sex, except that I wasn't angry with him - just the rest of the world. Doesn't it know I'm getting married soon?!

All sarcasm aside, I find myself hoping for just a tiny amount of fuss-making - some small level of This is My Day and I am a Princess feeling. There are a couple of things about my life at the moment that complicate that from ever happening:
  1. 2 years ago I moved 2000 miles away, taking only my dog and way too much shipped via FedEx with me
  2. I met The Boy (TB) at the dog park 7 days after moving to The New Location (TNL) (at the dog park, can you believe it?)
  3. TB and I were successfully dating in TNL within a week after I met him
  4. TNL seems to be particularly void of other interesting people. Who wants to go out with other people when there's the possibility of hanging with TB?
  5. TNL is also filled with an extremely busy job and all sorts of hobbies that cropped up to compensate for the utter lack of other people in my life. Thus, the mercilessly self perpetuating cycle.
  6. The Old Location (TOL) seems to be particularly filled with very good friends that are very terrible at keeping in touch
Thus the dilemma. It's been two years, and TNL is mostly characterized by a lack of other people. Not that I don't have friends - I do have plenty of people to talk to and hang out with - but somebody who wants to go dress shopping with me? Who wants to agonize over details of sage vs. powder green wedding invitations? Who will watch me try on the 11th pair of strappy white shoes and still exclaim, "They Look Fantastic!". This I do not have. Normally such a gaping hole in my otherwise acceptable social life would be no problem (as it hasn't been for the last two years), but there a few things that make it particularly obvious at the moment:

  1. By choosing to get married in Italy with only our immediate family present, we are foregoing a lot of fuss-making and planning, but part of the reason for forgoing it is the...lack of other people to participate in the fuss-making and planning. Thus, with each mention of "italy", there's some reminder of the social aspects of my life I've been totally neglecting in the TNL...which somehow, in my PMS induced state, leads me to conclude that I am friendless hag (obviously not so, thanks blue pill for twisting my emotions to this point)
  2. I may be an independent gal, but I am not about to go try on wedding dresses alone
  3. TB can't go try on wedding dresses with me
  4. I am not getting married in the TNL or TOL, or really anywhere within driving distance or decent internet surfing access.... so basically, I won't know where I'm getting married at, what flowers are available, or who's going to take photos of the event until the week that I actually get there
  5. I forgot #5, but remind me again why this whole Italy thing was a good idea?
I mean, we decided to get hitched in Italy precisely to avoid all of the fuss-making. But I just can't help missing it a teensy bit, especially because under different circumstances I would enjoy some of this. Double especially, my mind is completely consumed by wedding planning, even though I don't... really... have... that... much... to... plan. Given a lack of variety of things to plan, I have found myself planning one thing very, very carefully. And that can get a little intense sometimes. Which leads to much self-pitying and falling asleep with every good intention to wake up in a bad, self-centered mood once again.

But as usual, my mood would not cooperate. Instead of waking up in a bad, self-centered mood like I fully intended to, I woke up with some sense of perspective: it's not that important. I have friends. I have loved ones. There are plenty of people to share in my life, and one particular person that I am particularly grateful for. Yes, it is true, that a suitable girl to go wedding dress shopping with is not located in this particular place (TNL), but there are several such people back in TOL. And when I go visit TOL over thanksgiving, I will have every opportunity to try on 11 pairs of strappy sandals, cursing the fact that I have to plan a wedding all the while with people who can sympathize.

Cuz, you know...strappy white sandals are really important

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Love me, love my fiance

Reasons I am way un-cool:
  1. When I'm grumpy, I'm grumpy. Don't talk to me when I'm grumpy
  2. I'm grumpy anytime before 9am
  3. My dog hasn't had a bath in 4 months
  4. I always wear white socks, even if the pants are dark
  5. I don't like eating out all the time: I'd almost always rather cook it myself
Why you would love me:
  1. I am a spectacular cook
  2. I'm really into photography
  3. I'm Jewish, vegetarian, and very politically active, but I'm not going to shove it down your throat
  4. I love our two dogs more than life itself (no, there are no dogs out there any cuter. We've already decided this. Ours are the cutest. End of story. Except, if they weren't both fixed, their puppies would be even cuter)
  5. I am one of the most loyal friends you'd ever have, and I'm there whenever or however you need me

Why you would love Greg:
  1. Favorite line: "Welcome to the Krusty Krab! Arrrrr!"
  2. He does laundry like a madman
  3. He always lets the dogs out. Even at 1am, he gets up and lets the dogs out
  4. He's Italian, and thus makes fantastic eggplant parm, pasta sauce, and homemade pizza. Yumyum.
  5. There's one tiny little fish swimming in a 50 gallon tank next to me, and he insists we keep it alive. (Eventually we'll get the fish some friends, I swear)

Best Day Ever

My fiance Greg and I have a little weekly tradition. My claim to fame in our relationship is that I did indeed get him addicted to highly over-priced, over-caffinated and over-indulged-in espresso. Myself, I used to be a flavored latte girl (almond please), but now I have switched to the closest I can get to a purists' espresso: cafe americano (espresso + water). He will probably always be a cappuchino man. We like to go to this fantastic independent coffeeshop, Fuel, every Saturday moning. Aside from the perfectly brewed cappuchino's and americano's, we always order the same thing: egg sandwiches. My favorite is a rosemary bagel, smothered in butter, egg, and a slice of american cheese.

Yummy, calorie-indulging fantasy breakfast. It's the kind of breakfast where you won't want lunch until 4pm.

Thus was our morning. We sat there for more than an hour, enjoying the breakfast, people watching and learning Italian in preparation for our wedding-to-be in Umbria this spring. Not that we actually need to know Italian, but what better excuse to learn something?

Could this day get any better? Why yes it could. After breakfast, I persuaded Greg to follow me to Ann Taylor Loft. Do they have the most imaginative clothes ever? Not exactly. But at The Loft, I am able to afford the basic business attire that my tiny tiny salary can ever deal with. This day was his treat. I had been worrying about what to wear at an upcoming conference, and we decided it was time to buy me a suit. It was to be a matching suit so that I could stop trying to assemble the weirdly uncoordinating pieces I already own.

I spent 30 minutes trying on various sizes and shapes. I walked out with my brand new outfit, $250 in the hole - ouch. But, I have a suit, and better yet, a guy who thinks I look hot in it.

Then, as we're driving away from afforemented Loft, he gets a call. It was the jeweler! Calling about my engagement ring being almost ready (the diamond is not yet set). Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have been engaged for over four months and there is still no ring. The engagement itself was more a mutal decision making process, and I definitely wanted us to decide on a ring together without feeling rushed. So we designed a beaut and found a jeweler who could make it. Today, it was all ready and cast in white gold. He just wanted me to try it on before setting the stone.

We went from coffee/italian --> buying me a suit --> putting a diamond sparkly thing on my left hand. How self centered and fantastic is that?

On this particular morning, I am consumed by my absolute puppy dog love for Greg. I am consumed by the happiness that I am so fortunate to have love, to have such an amazing, wonderful, perfect guy. Thanks world, for letting me be so lucky.

It is only 11:37, and already it is The Best Day Ever.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Judging People In Relationships (JPIR)

This morning I hate people I think. We were up very late last night. Greg realized what he did was wrong - what he should have done is stayed dead silent, just like T did. To clarify, Greg absolutely thought what K said was wrong and a terrible thing to say - he just saw it in a larger context. He saw it as a poorly worded comment, not something indicative of prejudice on her part.

That clarified, he still handled the situation really poorly. I am always JPIR. Sometimes I realize that I am engaged to someone who is not as mature as I am. And then I think about it in a different way - that he knows how to handle some situations and I know how to handle others. Is that accurate? I think so. Does it make my frustration go away? Unfortunately not.

Maybe the problem is my problem. That's what the big debate is in relationships: is it me, or him, or us? I spent 5 months convincing myself that I was the problem in my awful, argumentative relationship with my ex. I spent another five months convincing myself it was us, then it was him, and now I realize that it's a little of everything.

Are some people just inherently better or worse than others?

Do you compare yourself to your SO?

I am guilty of that: JPIR. It is unavoidable: every little mistake, every little slip-up... it all feels so important and significant. It all feels like it speaks so much to his personality, even when logically I know that people are complicated things with good days and bad days and nobody will be 100% perfect all of the time. I am a forgiving person under the right circumstances, but oftentimes I am harshest on Greg. I have no tolerance for the fact that he was not as offended as I was about what K said - even knowing that he sees something less black and white than me, sees that she is a good person, a liberal, politically correct journalist, and sees that she said something before thinking about whether she said it right. Even though I know he was trying to diffuse things, even though I know he thought his participation would benefit me, it still angers me. I often just don't care. I see it as a fault. And faults are unacceptable.


Greg and I own a house near the University that we spent about a year completely gutting and renovating. It's a two family place, and we rent the upstairs to some friends/tennants of ours, T (guy) and K (girl). We're sitting around our little fire in the backyard tonight and talking about dogs / taking dogs overseas, etc. Somehow we got onto the topic of the fact that I knew someone whose dog got eaten by his next door neighbors while they were in China. To this, K replies, "Those Chinese are so dirty". I just stared at her, and asked, "what did you say?", and she said, "the Chinese. They're just dirty."

That really offended me. Really. Now if there's one thing you would quickly come to learn about me, it is that I am very politically correct and just don't have tolerance for racial or cultural jokes. So I said, "You know, that actually... that really offends me". Thus follows...



awkard justification ("well I didn't mean it like that" - then how did she mean it?)

followed by my explaining that I dated a Chinese guy, which I regret even saying because regardless of that fact, what she said was terrible and completely inappropriate. Followed by Greg backing K up by saying, "Well, just look at Main Garden" (a Chinese restaurant near us that has a reputation for being unclean)

And I was too pissed for words. And I mouthed a few things to him, like "stick up for me!"

So then I indicated to Greg that I would apologize, because clearly she wasn't going to, and I did. And I blamed it on the fact that someone had said something similar earlier in the week and that it upset me as well. And then, do you know what he said? "Well don't take it out on us just because you were mad at someone else"

Was that fair? Am I crazy? Shouldn't he stick up for me? Wasn't I reasonable? What she said was horribly offensive and completely inappropriate.

He later said he was just trying to diffuse the tension, and I think that is a horrible way to diffuse tension.