Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

how to do a friday

1. Wake up and immediately snap at your boyfriend for not setting your alarm clock.

And then feel bad as soon as he walks out the door.

2. Have a mimosa to drown your sorrows.

Drinking before 8 a.m. is not standard procedure, but I was having a rough morning!

3. Try not to make too many snarky comments and alienate your friends.

Just kidding about the alcoholism. It was a Royal Holiday so my roommate and friend-in-Children’s-Lit were having a Royal Slumber Party/Breakfast Celebration.

I mostly just felt bad for the poor kids. Who wants their (somewhat boring) wedding watched by ALL OF THE FREAKING WORLD?

They probably wanted to elope.

And no, I cannot say no to a mimosa.

4. Explore the myriad of reasons you will never be a professional photographer.

This thing keeps happening to me and I do not know why:

People keep thinking that I am a qualified photographer and ask me to take pictures of events.

It’s not that I don’t want to take pictures of events! I work for free, out of the goodness of my own heart, and I’m glad to do it.

I just don’t know why they keep asking.

This has been going on since high school.

Anyway, today, I realized that I am, perhaps, fundamentally incapable of:

A) being subtle

B) asking people for their names

C) staying on my feet for extended periods of time without contracting severe shoulder pain

(complicated by a heavy camera hanging from the neck)

However, I took pictures of an event for 4 hours or so today. It was a scream.

5. Come home and promptly procrastinate everything that needs to be done

Namely, reading, cleaning, errand-running, and paper-writing.

6. Clean apartment madly for an hour when boyfriend’s parents declare their eminent arrival at your pigsty apartment.

Madness. Madness!

Side effect: the apartment now looks really nice.

My desk hasn’t been this clean in months!

Assuming you ignore the heaping piles of schoolwork.

7. When parents fail to arrive, drink wine and read books.

this one is the most important.

if you don’t do it, it’s probably not Friday.


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April 27, 2011

me+him

Me: Ugh! The bus driver almost didn’t let me off at my stop again!

Him: Why not?

Me: I pushed the thingy but she didn’t open the back-back door, just the regular back door, so I had to like, barrel up there and shove my way out.

Him: Did the driver make you pay in the front but enter through the back door, and then while you were walking to the back door, did the bus driver drive away?

Me: Um. No?

Him: Oh. Then you probably had a good bus ride.

Me: You need to stop reading so much children’s literature. It’s warping your brain….

Me: …. also, shut up.

Boyfriend’s Latest Read:

Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Phillip Hoose

You can read my review here

April 23, 2011

hot date

My boyfriend asks me things like this:

“Sooo…. would you be interested in playing beer pong and going to a bar with Dave and Lisa and [insert other people I don’t know] tonight?”

And I say things like:

“Um, I have to work tomorrow,

and Dave and Lisa probably are going to a bar by their place (and therefore barely accessible to us, by public transport),

and there’s laundry downstairs,

and I have homework/reading to do that simply MUST do tonight! There’s NO OTHER TIME!”

On Saturday nights, I am usually a dirty liar.

Things I Accomplished On This Average Saturday Evening:

– Rearranging (i.e. making a complete mess of) all of my books

– Updating all of the blogs-that-I-follow bookmarks

– Watching episodes of My Drunk Kitchen

– Stuffing myself silly on homemade pizza, garlic bread, salad, and Disaranno & Fancy, Local Sodas

– Browsing food blogs for tasty recipes to cook next month

But at about 9:01, my boyfriend left the apartment to catch a couple of buses and be a social beer-pong-butterfly.

At about 9:02, I turned on an episode of Mad Men and poured myself another glass of wine.

At about 9:03, my boyfriend reappeared, announcing that the trip was canceled, Dave&Lisa&co were staying in with takeout instead.

The Moral of the Story?

I did homework on a Saturday night as to not shame myself.

Lance watched a great deal of overtime hockey,

and read one of those books I left lying around.


April 20, 2011

final countdown

Four Classes

Two Mondays, two Tuesdays

One Project

Pick 4 to 5 young adult books and present them to the class as a booktalk. Make a snazzy flier to accompany. Must have a theme!

One Paper

Write 6-7 pages on any topic of young adult literature that interests you. Yowza.

Eight Books

Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Looking for Alaska by John Green

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Scrawl by Mark Schulman

Nineteen Days

until this semester is officially

kicked.



April 19, 2011

turn and face the strain

Among my nastier personality predilections is the terrible combination of being both

almost completely resistant to any kind of change

and

unusually pessimistic about a perfectly good life.

So basically, it’s a chronic case of

Life sucks but I don’t want to do anything about it because nothing would help anyway.

(I am being dramatic. My personality is not that terrible. In fact, the above statement is not often true: usually I vacillate wildly between being ecstatic about my life and being despondent. Which is another sort of unpleasant, but I’m not walking around with a storm cloud over my head 24/7.)

Anyway. My little crisis last week led me to a few days of deep thinking. I was thinking about ANOTHER annoying personality duality that I possess, one that is definitely related to the first:

1) I am a creature of habit.

I’d always suspected this of myself, but it became glaringly obvious when my Lance and I moved in together last fall. Take, for instance, a random Sunday. It’s time to do some grocery shopping…. but Lance doesn’t want to go. “I’m too tired.” “Maybe this afternoon.” “In an hour.” That kind of thing. I want to go because I am hungry and want to have time to cook something that evening, but mostly I just want to know that it is Sunday at xxx o’clock and that is when we buy food.

And I’m sure Lance remembers fondly one afternoon when he pulled out of his parallel parking spot and went straight through Bynner and Huntington rather than turning right… I probably screamed. He thought we could just go to the Stop and Shop in JP rather than truck it out to the Trader Joe’s, but failed to inform me that what I thought was a carefully laid routine was about to crumble.

Ahem.

2) I am a constant self-evaluator, lifestyle-manipulator, dreamy-dreamer.

I want a lot of things for myself, for my life, and I spend a lot of time trying to make them happen.

However, here lies the conflict:

I shy away from any change that threatens my routine.

I know, this is such a White Girl Problem, but it’s getting to the point of silliness.

Let’s say I read an article saying that eating a giant bowl of oatmeal is the Best Breakfast.

I like oatmeal. I can make oatmeal. I would like to eat the Best Breakfast.

But I probably won’t do it because if I ate oatmeal for breakfast, then I wouldn’t be able to eat any eggs for breakfast. And I love my breakfast eggs.

I love them so much, in fact, I’ve been eating eggs for breakfast practically every day for a year and a half.

I can’t even change what I eat for breakfast because I am such a mother$#&^ing STICK IN THE MUD!

It makes me kind of mad at myself.

But then, yesterday, while I was tidying up my kitchen, I had one of those still, small voice moments, when my best self – the self who is immune to personality dualities and other terrifying deficiencies – said to me:

You keep thinking that you will wake up one day and be changed, that it will suddenly be easy to be the person you want to be, to do the things you want to do, to make those hard decisions. You’ve got it backwards, my friend. If you just do the things you want to do, the doing will change you. The discipline gained, the results observed… the change will be your new routine.

Whenever I’m mired in that state of Life-Sucks-and-I-Can’t-Do-Anything pessimism, I feel like I’m waiting for a cognitive leap, for something to click in my mind that will make me understand my situation and what I need to do.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever received one, until now.

So my first battle,

Jessica vs. Her Crippling, American Sugar Addiction

Take a look at this cake.

I MADE that cake!

But I don’t need to be a SLAVE to that cake.

I’ve taken notice of how excessive sugar effects my mood and physical well-being for quite some time now, but some of my “routines” have been standing in my way to making any significant changes.

Then I read this article about how sugar is, apparently, going to kill me.

This may or may not be true, but I am still a hopeless slave and would like to be released from my shackles.

So here’s my game plan to, over time, shift away from these routines and maintain a more-or-less sugar-free lifestyle.

~

Routine #1: Breakfast

It’s my favorite meal of the day. I’m attached to my eggs… but I’m also attached to something sugary:

cereal, honey, preserves, maple syrup, that cinnamon-raisin bread from Trader Joe’s that’s so good it makes my teeth hurt.

I’ll even munch on a cookie or a leftover dessert. If I have to.

Changes:

Appeasing morning sweet tooth with fruit. This morning, I had a half a banana with a little peanut butter for protein and flair. It was completely satisfactory

Sticking to natural sugars, like honey, if they are absolutely needed. Honey is still as sugary as white/brown sugar or maple syrup of my favorite raspberry preserves, but if I limit myself, then I’ll have have less opportunities to sweeten things up. Plus, it’s easy to drizzle just a little bit over something I would otherwise not want to eat, like boring old peanut butter.

Increase non-sugar breakfast foods to make up for lost calories. I’m not trying to diet here, and cutting out my bowl of yogurt (with jam and honey and fruit) is going to create a serious calorie deficit. I don’t want to fall prey to the perpetual box of cookies in my office because I didn’t eat hearty enough in the a.m. So where I was eating 2 fried eggs with cheese for the past few weeks, I am now eating an egg sandwich – three scrambled eggs, cheese, and two slices of sprouted whole grain toast.

Routine #2: My On-The-Go Lifestyle

This isn’t so much of a routine as a condition… but my techniques for feeding myself during the day often falls back on sugar, sugar, SUGAR.

Changes:

Evaluate those “healthy” snack bars you are always eating. I can eat 2-4 “health bars” a week, depending on how busy I am. I like to toss them in my bag in case of a low-blood-sugar emergency in class or on my long days at work. However,
I noticed last week that my Odwalla Bar had a first ingredient of ORGANIC CANE JUICE and had too many grams of sugar for comfort. I will be trying not to rely so heavily on these guys for regular sustenance and making sure that the ones I choose are natural and fairly sugar-free.

Resist the Siren Call of the Diet Coke (or, who are we kidding, The Afternoon Energy Drink). I’ve been getting tired lately around 2 or 3 p.m. This is unfortunate, since three days a week, I have either class or 7 more hours of work ahead of me at that time of day. I need to stop indulging my urges. Energy Drinks – especially those emergency cans of high-fructose-corn-syrupy Monster – are not necessary, and Diet Coke supposedly makes you crave sugar more. Plus aspartame is bad for me/makes me feel kind of crappy, and Lance is worried it might kill me.

Be adequately prepared for the day. The days I’m sneaking cookies from the box or Riesens from the basket (that is currently 2 feet from my head… yuumm) are the days I forgot my lunch, didn’t pack enough food, or don’t want to eat the food I packed. Try to avoid the office-sugar-pitfalls by packing that lunchbox full of tastier, healthier options.

Routine #3: Sweet, Sweet Caffeine

This has been the big problem keeping me from quitting sugar altogether. I have a major caffeine addiction, fueled entirely by Starbucks mochas, Doubleshots in a can, and the occasional fruit-juice based (but still hella sugary) energy drink from Whole Foods.

I haven’t felt prepared to battle two major addictions at once.

But I’m trusting that the doing will make me change my mind about my worries, and maybe I’ll find a compromise along the way.

Changes:

Learn to love the latte. Today, I skipped my usual mocha and ordered a double-shot latte. I sprinkled it with cinnamon for flavor and grabbed a Sugar in the Raw packet in case it was totally undrinkable. It wasn’t… but I’m still working on it, two hours later. Not delicious, but not totally disgusting.

Mix it up. I also bought a Doubleshot. I will drink it tomorrow. I don’t want to rock the boat too hard. I will probably alternate these two for a few weeks, then maybe try making coffee myself at home.

Get more sleep… drink more water, eat healthier, etc. Basically, consider kicking the caffeine habit to the curb. Maybe I’ll try after finals are over, and I have a month or so without academic pressures. Although we’ll see how this goes as I will also be spending a week with my Caffeine-Fueled-Family in May…

~

So cheers to readjusting your baseline,

building new routines,

and cognitive leaps.

I’ll be posting about this more in the coming weeks.

April 17, 2011

running through my dreams all night

Tomorrow is Marathon Monday, and I think all the hubbub accidentally made me crazy.

Yesterday, I was eating some nachos and reading Going Bovine at a sports bar when I overheard a guy at the table next to me chatting up the waitress.

“I wanted to come see the Red Sox game, while I’m in Boston” he said. “But it was too cold. I’m running a marathon in two days! I can’t sit outside in the cold for hours!”

This conversation went on a little too long and I became a bit annoyed by Mister “I’m running a MARATHON! in TWO DAYS!” Man, but I did notice his stylish black and green jacket.

When we attempted to go bowling later in the evening, we missed our stop because the bus didn’t do its usual turn-around thing because everything on Boylston was set up for the MARATHON. We avoided the rain by ducking into those skywalks that connect random Boston hotels with stores and malls, hoping to hit the Prudential eventually and come out the other side, next to the bowling alley.

The hotels that were jam-packed with MARATHONers, looking slim and fit and sporting their MARATHON jackets.

So this morning, I woke up with the very determined idea that I WAS GOING RUNNING BEFORE WORK. I had been considering this the day before, since I didn’t get out for a run on Saturday because I was busy trying-hard-not-to-watch-sports-at-a-sports-bar and trying to bowl. But there was an urgency here. I rocketed out of bed and ate something with protein and got dressed and out the door.

It took me awhile to remember the dream I had the night before that woke me up in a sheer panic.

Someone had asked me to run in the Boston Marathon on Monday. I had to do it. I had to get ready to do it. I didn’t have any of those Gu-things that marathoners need to keep their fuel up, but I figured if I went to the expo, I could pocket some samples. I needed that Gu! And also, I’d never run that far before, but it was only five miles… I can run 2 miles (code for: I HAVE run 2 miles in the past. like once. maybe twice), so it’s only twice that and another mile….

and then someone in my dream told me, as I was on a mad Gu dash, that a marathon wasn’t 5 miles. It was 26.2.

I woke up in a complete panic.

Somehow that translated into:

“Jessica, you need to go running in the morning before work because it is entirely possible that someone, at any moment, could ask you to run the Boston Marathon and you will have to say yes, so you should at LEAST figure out how to run 5 miles.”

Okay, then.

Well at least it got me out of bed with enough vim and vigor to

* Run/walk a mile and a half

* Bake a coffeecake

* Trash the kitchen and half clean it up again

* Call in a prescription

* Scramble some eggs

* Run to CVS

and, most importantly

* Make it to work on time.

Which, in case you are keeping track at home, is more than I did all day on Friday and Saturday, combined.

Maybe when I’m done here I’ll tackle 26.2.

April 14, 2011

we interrupt this regularly scheduled equilibrium

Life is best when it has a rhythm. It doesn’t have to be totally predictable, completely scheduled, planned to a tee… I just need there to be an ebb and flow. Underneath the every day happenings, there has to be something rolling forward, a subtle momentum, a slow beat.

After almost five semesters, I’m beginning to wonder if the song that is Graduate School involves a complete disruption of any kind of rhythmic peace every so often.

That I should probably stop getting so bent out of shape and just see it as part of the game.

I was there in May. I was there in November. And now, when I really should be gearing up for finals, I am back here for a third time.

This time it feels worse.

I don’t even want to get into specifics because they are too confusing for written words, and my possible choices only analyzed by painstakingly complicated schedules typed up in Excel.

The main players have returned:

A) A potentially lost source of income

B)  A potentially time-sucking but definitely fun and maybe career-valuable (and, of course, unpaid) internship

C) A few potentially pocketbook lining options

D) Two definitely time consuming and stressful summer courses

E) A financially insecure near-future

If A falls through for sure then I would have time to manage B and maybe C, but what if A comes back and I’m tied to B and C and can’t handle D? What if A falls through and I say no to C and then E screws me over for the foreseeable future?

It’s like someone’s asking me to create this delicately balance of Money, Career Preparation, Academics, and My Own Sanity,

but without any indication of what I can and cannot count on.

It  be easier if I could choose.

If I knew for sure that I wanted to be a rockstar, career-ladder-climbing, children’s lit glitterati Big City Girl, then the choice would be easy (B above all else).

If I wanted to pursue teaching/writing/scholaring/learning, I would make sure as hell I was well-rested and attentive enough for D, even if that meant financial sacrifice.

If I just wanted to breeze through the program, get a job wherever, but be solvent, as debt-free as possible, and ready for the next step, whatever it may be, then C would be the most prudent choice to focus on.

~

But every day I feel differently.

Every day, things shift under my skin.

~

My gut sounds like this:

“Be prepared for emergencies, for your next step, which doesn’t have anything to do with what career you choose, but with the cultivation of your personal life, your home life. Your schooling only serves your future earning ability, so treat it as such. A shiny career is not going to make you happy. A big city lifestyle is not going to make you happy. You don’t need to do everything to be happy. You don’t need to do everything to be successful.”

But I’ve often suspected my gut of underestimating my own abilities.

So now the problem isn’t crafting the right schedule or making the best budget or planning for every possible option, but questioning my internal compass and therefore every decision I ever make.

Maybe these intermittent moments of crises are not just part of the rhythm of grad school, but moments in which the internal conflicts I work REALLY HARD at avoiding and the crucial choices I fail to make in favor of doingeverything suddenly demand my attention.

These decisions get buried in the day-to-day busy-ness of being a working grad student; it’s easy to put off major life choices when you have somewhere to be, something to do, something to read, something to write….

and at the junctures, when it comes time to shed one semester and fit the next, I pay for my neglect. I have no idea which choice to make, I panic, I say “yes” to everything and sacrifice my time/health/sanity time after time because I just don’t want to think about it.

So here we are again.

It would be helpful if I wasn’t so happy.

(It’s easy to pretend that saying yes to something new will change your life when you are gloomy, but I’m not. I don’t want to break things. I am terrified of breaking things.)

It would be helpful if I would make these realizations with more than a day left

to decide where my future is heading.

April 10, 2011

My College Library Gig (and other tales of nostalgia)

In my short 26 years of life on this earth, I have had the good fortune of landing myself some really lovely library jobs.

My first semester of college, I chanced into a 1-credit course called LIB 197. “Chanced” because I received a scholarship from my school’s Honors Program with some fairly strict requirements…. some of which I was not fully aware of. In the middle of Learning to Live On My Own, Being Homesick, Meeting New People Anxiety and the like, I realized that I needed an extra Honors course into my already tenderly arranged schedule.

So a one credit library course it was.

The class was fine. Fairly low stress. Taught by one of the school’s Reference librarians, who was cool  and had a nifty Canadian accent…. who also gave me my only A-minus of the semester, thus ruining what would be my only chance at a 4.0 semester for the rest of my college career.

But shortly before the end of the semester, that same professor dropped me an email. The Reference department of my school’s library was hiring for the next semester. In order to get the job, you have to have taken LIB 197. If I wanted to apply, she would put my application on the top of the stack.

I hadn’t even thought about getting a job at that point, but, when you put it that way…

I started training a few weeks later, shadowing reference librarians and other student workers, learning how to call in printer jams and develop an inner clock that reminded me to get up and copy down the gate count numbers on the hour, every hour. When classes recommenced in January, I would start spending 15-20 hours at the Charles V. Park library every week, and I didn’t stop until I graduated three and a half years later.

While I was a student worker, I really enjoyed my coworkers and the work I did on the job. We were primarily “desk sitters,” answering questions at both the reference desk as well as the weird information desk at the bottom of four-stories of balconies. We were also Library Drink Nazis; it took me a semester, but after that point I harassed those stealthy patrons, smuggling their Java City cups under their coats, with gusto. Sitting downstairs meant less involved questions – Where’s the bathroom? (behind you) Where’s the Writing Center? (third floor) How do I get your job? (You can’t! I’m never leaving! Ha!) – but relative isolation. No back-up person to handle weird questions (or patrons), sole responsibility for drink Nazi-ing as well as figuring out if people were stealing library books when the alarm went off (most of the time no, but some of the time, yes). And there was a draft. A very drafty draft. But the Reference Desk came with its quirks as well – lots and LOTS of printing problems, which were tedious and sometimes involved enraged patrons or rude maintenance people, or when printing goes down for an entire four story facility with over 400 computers? Complete mayhem. But the questions were more engaging – “Welcome to the Wide and Wonderful World of DATABASES!” –  But there were librarians to chat with and when they went home at 9, a coworker would arrive to double-staff the desk.

And we liked each other, let me tell you. One time, I wanted out of a crappy shift during finals week so I could go eat dinner at a friend’s house. I emailed the listserv of my coworkers that very afternoon and asked if anyone wanted to work 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. that night. Within an hour, I had a reply – “You work with So-and-so tonight, right? If you do, I will totally take your shift.” The schedule was designed around our classwork and was fairly flexible, and people were generally willing to step in and help each other out.

This last phenomenon (and the fact that everyone who walked by me wanted my job) was probably due to the fact that we were allowed and encouraged to do our homework while on the desk. I covered shifts all the time with the idea that I could either A) spend three hours at home trying to do my homework but really end up watching TV marathons on my laptop or B) go to the library, trap myself behind a desk with my homework, and get paid.

Now, looking back on my experiences with a few years of library school and other library working experience under my belt, I can see that the reference department really landed on a great system for a number of reasons:

1) If you require students to have taken a specific course in order to apply for the job – and, in turn, promote students who do well in the course to apply – you are more likely to employ (and keep) better (and smarter) workers.

Better workers will work harder on the job, will learn faster, will be more invested in their job performance.

But also…

if you tell a bunch of overachieving college kids that they can do their homework at work?  They will do anything to keep that job. Even work 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. shifts at the last minute.

I think the hiring librarians caught on to this – halfway through my time at the library, LIB 197H became a required course for all incoming students with my particular Honors scholarship.

Sure, research skills are super important to learn and the class was totally valuable, but the reference department also now had a built in pool of 60 or so of the school’s smartest, hardest working kids to choose from each semester.

I worked with a disproportionate amount of Honors and Centralis students over my 3 and a half years on the job.

2) We were given a lot of responsibility and a lot of respect… for undergraduates.

Now that I am a high-and-mighty graduate student, I tend to look down my nose at the 19-year-olds that work around my campus. They are not very…. helpful, I would say. And when I tell people that I work with at my current library job that I used to sit at the Reference desk and answer questions without a librarian on hand, they drop their jaws.

This could the culture of my particular institution. I did used to be one of those 19-year-old undergraduate underlings, and I essentially did the same job I am doing now, and I did it well.

I think that we all stepped up to the responsibility we were given. We learned on the job, handled the occasional crises without anyone stepping in to help, answered the phones, called in emergencies, chased down the occasional drink-sneaker.

And there was room for advancement in the job, as well: certain students were singled out for a “promotion” to Advanced student worker. As an Advanced student worker, I was then occasionally asked to lead library tours and give short bibliographic instruction to small groups from outside the college.

The librarians we worked with respected us and were very nurturing, both on the job and in encouraging us all to drop our career trajectories and be librarians.

Annie, Maria, Lauren, Emily, Jenny, and me? We did.

3) We were very well trained

Yes, we were undergraduates, but we had two supervisors who made sure we knew what the hell we were doing.

We had that LIB 197 under our belts, which basically covered everything you should know about doing academic research.

Before starting on the desk by ourselves, we had something like 20 or 30 hours of official training, including a 6-hours-on-Saturday training day, shadowing librarians and our coworkers, filling out questionnaires with sample reference and information questions, etc.

Sure, I was scared shitless the first time I showed up to work and had to sit by myself downstairs at the desk, but I did have the knowhow at that point to at least be somewhat useful to our patrons.

We also had monthly staff meetings for all the student workers, and our supervisors always included a little bit of “continuing education,” usually focusing on something that we weren’t doing too well (finding Government Documents for example), or some new database or feature in the catalog.

With a little more experience under my belt, I can say that this whole system was very well executed and led to highly skilled reference workers and happy, enthusiastic employees.

~

On a personal note, my college library job

– kept me busy

– kept me solvent

– kept me honest (regarding my studies)

– let me watch librarians at work, 20 hours a week

– introduced me to some great people who I enjoy running into at conferences and who supported me in undergrad and support me now with references and other encouragements.

I liked my job a lot. I was sad to leave. Without it, I would probably not be getting my MLS today.

And sometimes, I even miss staring at these elevator doors for 2-6 hours a day.

 

P.S.! I forgot the best part of this story:

I didn’t draw that picture.

I came into work one day, sat down at the computer,

and this was the desktop wallpaper.

Courtesy of one of my ever-amusing coworkers.

But even in MSPaint, it just brings it alll back.

April 7, 2011

serendipity

I love when things fall into place, when the answer is something you already knew, when fate hands you a freebie.

Example #1: The Hard Question

So trivia. Again. There are normal questions for most of the game, but “half-time” is this really annoying kind of question that we always mess up. Usually the answer is the name of a celebrity – actor, actress, musician, director, etc – and clues as to the person’s identity are revealed one at a time. The clues move from obscure to obvious, usually starting with “This actor was born in Scarsdale, New York on March 15th, 1933” and ending with “This actor was most recently in this movie that came out yesterday and you’d be an idiot not to know it by now.” The sooner you turn in your answer, the more points you get.

We usually get 2 points, or 4 if we are having a phenomenally good game.

Those are the two lowest possible scores.

Or we just get it wrong.

Anyway, so last night, the first question was “This actor was born on November 17, 1944, in Neptune, New Jersey. Following graduation in 1962, he took a job as a cosmetician at his sister’s beauty salon. A year later, he enrolled at New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts so he could learn more about cosmetology. While at the academy, he fell in love with acting and decided to further pursue an acting career”

(I can repeat this question because they lift the stuff directly from imdb)

(And we didn’t know the answer at this point. Duh.)

Clue #2: In 1968, this actor landed his first part in a movie when he appeared as a thug in Dreams of Glass, but became discouraged with the film industry and decided to focus on stage productions. He starred in Off-Broadway stage productions until 1975 when he returned to film to take his break-out role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Hold up.

Lance has been contributing to the trivia team by memorizing Oscar winning movies, which led him to actually want to watch a number of these movies. I added what ones I could find to the Netflix queue awhile ago and we’ve been trying to watch them in 20 minute chunks while we eat dinner. So far, we’ve only made it through Rain Main, but the night before last, we started One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And of course, I had to open imdb and see if there were any breakout stars in this 1975 Oscar-winning film.

Why yes, that is Danny Devito!

We got an unprecedented 8 points.

(But we still got spanked.)

 

Example #2: Shameless


I have a new favorite television show.

It has a snappy theme song.

I wonder who it’s by?

I wonder why that band name sounds familiar?

OH! They are a Michigan band, and a few years ago they did a summer tour around Michigan performing at LIBRARIES including my MOTHER’S library!

How cool!

Example #3: Perpendicular Vehicular Homicide

This is a story that happened last summer, but I don’t think it’s one that I shared here.

If you recall, last summer we were in the market for a new car, whether or not I was aware of this fact.

Our old car wasn’t dead by any means. Sure, when the odometer rolled over 200,000 miles I started to feel nervous (which is code for “completely and offensively anxious”), but other than some manageable repairs, nothing was terribly broken about the car’s insides.

It was the car’s outsides that were the problem.

Last fall, Lance got into a bit of a fender bender (which is code for “a completely terrifying spin-out on the turnpike in which I almost died of anxiety”). The car obviously was in need of some body work after this, but we were/are not in the financial position to have extensive body work done on a car… much less a car that already has 200,000 miles on it.

If we lived in Michigan, or perhaps any other more personal freedom lovin’ state than Massachusetts, we would probably still be driving that heap of nonsense, blending in nicely with the other degenerate, winter-worn vehicles of the Motor City State.

However, after successfully avoiding the whole “transfer plates” and “change residency” and “get a new driver’s license” bit for an entire school year, Lance had a run-in with the local cops who police the small town where he works 40+ hours a week. They pulled him over for no real reason and told him that they’d seen him around and he really needed to change his plates otherwise they’d write him a ticket for 200 dollars.

HOWEVER! They won’t give you new plates if your car doesn’t pass state inspection.

And a car with a crushed in back corner and a trunk that doesn’t always want to close will certainly not pass state inspection.

So, with our budget that can’t afford to repair a car, or even pay for new plates and registration and such…. we needed to buy a car before Lance had to start driving back to work in the fall.

Conundrum.

But there wasn’t much time to spend thinking about the new car problem last summer, being as we launched quickly from school/work to a fairly significant road trip in said car.

First stop?

(Other than under an overpass in the Bronx with a blown-out tire and a Walmart in New Jersey getting said tire replaced)

A motel in Bethesda, Maryland.

We parked our car in the lot of the Day’s Inn and took to the Metro for our personal transportation needs. One day, we stopped by the car to get something out of the trunk before making our way back to our room, and a guy started hollering at us from the hotel’s front desk.

“Is that your car?” he said, summoning us over to his little front-desk-hut. “They left their insurance information. They hit your car. They’re staying in room 215.”

We had parked in an odd spot in a small lot, so it didn’t really surprise me that someone would have bumped up against us trying to turn around or back up, but I was surprised that while I was getting things out of the trunk, I’d missed this:

Whoa.

So we talked to the dude and his wife who backed into us with their bulldozer minivan, called their insurance company and our insurance company, etc. The whole process took a month or so, to get someone out from their insurance company to come take a look at the car and give us an estimate. But the car was still 100% driveable, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Until they finally made their final repair estimate….

and cut us a check for almost 2,000 dollars.

A month later, we were the proud owners of a brand new (code for “really old but with way less miles”) Saturn station wagon, paid for in cash, because our car had the good fortune to get hit in the parking lot while we were out walking around Washington, D.C.

Life can work out sometimes.

April 5, 2011

sunnier skies

I am having too much fun revisiting last summer.

It was a mess of class and interning and working and traveling,

but it was sunny,

and there was a significant amount of free time to be had,

a lot of weekend evenings observing Boston-area yuppies as they exposed their children to free classical music

and served elaborate picnic spreads.

Did I mention it was sunny?

It is gloomy gray and raining out today,

for the second day in a row,

and I would like to watch some yuppie parents slice cheeses on their little wooden cheese boards

in the park.