Progress, whining and no, I still don't know

Another weekend spent immersed in home improvement: I obliterated the aggressive yellow in our kitchen and replaced it with a nice, neutral earth tone/stone color, while Monk helped our brother-in-law install a new fence around the backyard. The fence is nearly completed- a bigger, better version of what we had that will encompass the driveway (rear entry house that backs onto an alley) and make our little postage stamp of a yard seem twice as large. The new fence is so formidable in appearance already, that every time I step outside I hear a low, gravelly voice murmur in my ear, “Welcome to the Compound.”

Last night we painted some cabinets in the kitchen; eventually we will screw in the new hardware, whip off the masking tape and reveal the results of the facelift. Should be a smarter, sharper-looking space. Painting cabinets and re-hanging the doors is slow work, people. Our kitchen is small and I’ve always thought the cabinet allotment a bit ridiculous (and by “ridiculous,” I mean “unbelievably stingy”), until I had to prime and paint each one. Now I’m convinced we have an Overabundance of Cabinet in there.

I’m not sure where else to take this home improvement summary, and as we don’t have any finished project to triumph over just yet, I’ll let the previous paragraphs stand as a testament to how very exciting our life continues to be.


Tonight I will head over to Sister’s place to admire the Niece in her Tinkerbell costume, while Monk stays home and divides his time between more cabinet priming and handing out candy to the local hoodlums. I assured him (hopefully, wistfully) that I wouldn’t be gone very long, but Sister hinted yesterday that she might hand Niece off to me and “let” me lead the toddler from door-to-door while she and her husband relax at home and dole out treats to their neighborhood punks. I’m not sure I see the logic in this, and while my inner bitch yells “that’s not fair! I’m not the parent! And after working all day and dealing with traffic the LAST thing I want to do is play babysitter!” the outer One Who Plays Nicely will probably just smile and nod, and quietly add another brick to her Mud Hut of Resentment.

I'd better - at the very least - get some candy out of the deal, or heads are gonna roll.


STATUS: I just don't know

I’d love to tell you that I passed the practical exam with flying colors. I’d love to, but I can’t. You see, I botched one part of the demonstration and re-demonstrated it (not sure we were allowed a do-over) after everything else had been completed, which might have been no big deal, or it might have been a big enough deal to merit a failing score. Obviously I did not walk out of there as confident in my success as I had hoped I would be. Unfortunately, the results aren’t posted until at least 9 days after the exam date. This means I get to spend the next week or so stuck in the quiet little hell we call Limbo.

Monk and I at least scored an overnight stay and room service at a nice hotel in Austin, in any case. And by "scored," I mean "paid for, in full." We didn’t get too wild the night before the exam, however, since we hit the road from Dallas about 2 hours later than planned, and arrived in Austin close to 11 p.m.

Why, you ask? Because plans are for idiots, apparently. Friday morning I woke up cheerfully to a Day Off stuffed to the gills with Things to Do (but remember how things don’t go the way we plan?). Friday's To Do List:

1) Bring car in for a vehicle inspection so as not to get pulled over again because Texas kind of sucks sometimes.
STATUS: You know what else sucks? Failing said vehicle inspection because the tires are so worn the car doesn’t even make it through the Safety portion of the vehicle inspection, and since the ’06 inspection sticker expires in about a week, I guess we should SEE TASK # 2.5b

2) Wait for countertop installer people to show up with shiny new laminate wonderfulness.
STATUS: Oh, guess what? The countertop people are completely different from the plumber that will show up sometime later today (much later, by the way) to make sure you can actually use the new sink, faucet and garbage disposal, so I guess we’ll SEE TASK # 2.5a but meanwhile, look how pretty your new countertop is!

(Also: I don’t really want to talk about what the countertop people found AND THEN SHOWED ME when they moved the oven away from the wall. There may or may not have been something the pest control people put under there over a year ago. And there may or may not have been four semi-decomposed/semi-preserved... somethings on it. I may or may not have been able to get that number by counting their petrified and blackened little tails. I may or may not have shrieked and melted a little, a la the Wicked Witch of the West, when I saw it. And I may or may not have nearly passed out when I had to make my trembly hands work to get it all into a bag and out to the trash. The countertop people may or may not have laughed their not-in-my-job-description asses off at me. I’d write more, but my fingers are shaking too much to keep typing. Give me a minute.)

2.5a) Call plumber, get ETA.
STATUS: Find out we are not next on the list for the plumber. He should be on his way to us in oh, about 3 hours.

2.5b) Get new tires for car because ohmygod who knew our tires were this bad and what if something had happened on our way to Austin? Not that I’m worried about someone getting hurt, more like what a pain in the ass it would be to have to get to the spare tire in the trunk since the massage table will be wedged in back there.
STATUS: Nothing like showing up at the tire place, still grossly not-showered, planning to spend an incognito hour there before getting on with your day, and running into your brother-in-law... then finding out how much the tire people oversimplify when they tell you one-hour-to-new-tires, and therefore being forced to engage in awkward conversation for two hours with someone you usually feel like smacking.

3) Shower (an hour ago).

4) Go to the only place within 10 miles of us (apparently) that replaces hot tubs and their enclosures to get a quote regarding the safety hazard (formerly known as a "spa") in our backyard.
STATUS: Nope, not since the plumber will now be at the house in 30 minutes and I'm just now leaving the tire place. Good idea, though, since here in the South businesses don’t like to be open past 5 p.m. on weeknights and not at all on the weekends. I guess we’ll look into this again sometime next year when I can take another Personal Day.

5) Take Boomba to the vet (must keep this appointment, have rescheduled twice).
STATUS: Turns out Monk’s leaving his office early and will take care of this, since the plumber will most likely be at the house at this point, which is great because then we’ll still be able to hit the road kind of on time. Hmmm... Plumber will be here soon, but maybe we have time to revisit #3.

3 revisited) Shower.
STATUS: 5 minutes of bliss. Wait, did I use any soap? Oh, fuck it.

2.5a revisited) Plumber here.
STATUS: Where's the goddamned plumber?! Shows up 90 minutes later than the ETA. About 30 minutes before we plan to hit the road for Austin. Spends 2 hours at the house to hook up what we thought was a relatively simple sink setup. Turns out, NASA could use our plumbing design to forever stump the Russians.

(Wait, what?)

Plumber spends two hours at the house, sweating and breathing as though at any minute he’s going to have a heart attack AND DUDE, THAT IS NOT ON THE TO DO LIST. Monk and I keep popping back in, as though we can be of any help, which is awesome because IF WE KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT PLUMBING THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN CARE OF HOURS AGO. Finally it seems like the plumber’s finished. He starts messing with the garbage disposal. Garbage disposal seems fine. Messes with it again. Garbage disposal starts making horribly loud grinding noises and the sink is shaking, counter's vibrating. Messes with it again. Better now. Plumber says “huh, I wonder why it did that.” Monk and I go outside so we can yell YOU’RE THE PLUMBER YOU SHOULD NOT BE WONDERING WHY IT DID THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. Plumber finally leaves. Hopefully to go learn more about plumbing.

6) Leave for Austin.
STATUS: As I said, two hours later than planned. Rand McNally directions are terrible, of course we haven’t brought a map, and why wouldn’t there be a mess of construction when we are so close to the exit we can almost taste the beer we bought when we stopped for directions earlier and jesuschristarewethereyet and how strict do you think Austin really is about that open container thing?

So you see, I wasn’t in the most… peaceful frame of mind for the exam. I may have to head back to Austin in a few weeks to take the exam again. And I keep telling myself that I’ll be okay with that. I’m putting my career change daydreams on hold for now, as well as my plans for networking, the new business telephone number, business cards and gift certificates. Because I just have this feeling that Going According to Plan isn’t the best way to describe my life right now.


Cold Feet

Just wanted to take a moment to thank all 4.5 of my readers for your concern about my recent stupid-induced injuries. Rest assured, I am recovering quickly, and the bruise on my thigh really only bothers me when I try to sit all ladylike by crossing my legs. Which, you might have guessed, is not really a problem since we all know by now that I ain't no lady.


You know your body has finally adjusted to the Texas climate when you wake up to a morning in the 50s, and the 10 second (but windy. Cripes, so windy) walk from the car to the office has you so chilled you find yourself sitting in front of the computer sporting a dead sexy layered look: Long sleeve fleece shirt, zip up sweater, heavy sweatshirt jacket, with a blanket wrapped around your legs as though someone will come in to wheel you back to the nursing home any moment now.

In my defense, there's a draft coming from the window. The big, floor to ceiling window in my office on the twelfth floor of this office building. I'm thinking there shouldn't actually be a BREEZE coming at me from this structure, but hey, what do I know about buildings and sealing giant panes of glass properly and all that.


Tomorrow I'm taking the day off from work to supervise our countertop installation (an earth tone faux quartz pattern to replace the white which, considering we haven't done any painting or preparation for this, will look fantastic with the bright yellow walls of the kitchen), squeeze too many errands into too little time after that, and of course freak out regarding the massage therapy practical exam (scheduled for Saturday morning in Austin). My run-through with a former teacher last night confirmed my ineptitude with the spiel and demo: I am indeed afraid, very afraid. I will return to Dallas Saturday evening and begin drinking heavily- whether in celebration or mourning, only time will tell.


You should see the other guy

Picture it: Saturday afternoon in a little suburb just outside of Dallas. The breeze is crisp, the sun is bright, the conditions are perfect for a reasonably intelligent woman to set her brains aside, grab the (foster) dog’s leash and head outside.

What a great idea, you’re thinking, give both bitches some exercise! What is not-so-reasonably-intelligent about that?

Well, if you’d let me finish the story (good lord, eager much?) you’d find out: This (previously) reasonably intelligent woman did indeed head outside with the (hyper) dog on a leash. Instead of leaving the yard however, she first took a detour to the shed, brushed aside 12 layers of dust and cobwebs, and dragged her bicycle into the sunlight. “What a wonderful day to get on the bike and have BabyGirl run alongside me, thereby giving her twice the workout in half the time!” It truly was a brilliant idea.*

*If “brilliant idea” is synonymous with “death wish.”

Unfortunately, as the dust and cobwebs would indicate, it had been quite some since the woman had been on her bike. She had forgotten little things like:

  1. Just because your right arm is stronger than your left, does not mean the large dog attached to it can be controlled with ease. You’re balanced on two wheels, for Christ’s sake.
  2. Oh, we’ve done this before with the other two dogs back in the Albuquerque days, remember? And with disastrous results. Mainly because:
  3. Dogs don’t naturally understand that they should run ALONGSIDE the bike. Zigzagging in front of it or trying madly to get away from it are the most commonly chosen routes. And also:
  4. The left brake stops the FRONT wheel, idiot. Do not, under any circumstances, clamp down on that one without applying the one on the right as well, unless you want a concrete sandwich.

Eventually** the woman and the dog worked it out and had a pleasant, if tentative, bike ride/walk.

**“Eventually” in this case denotes “after the damn dog lunged away from the bike, the left brake was clamped in a panic, the front of the bike turned sharply backwards, the right hand let go of the dog, the left handlebar shot into an unsuspecting thigh, then served as a post and pivot point for launching the rider up and over the front wheel and depositing her messily on the pavement (the scrapes on the knee and hands are nice, but what’s really pretty is that, upon closer inspection, one can make out the rubber grip pattern of the handlebar amidst the swirl of purple, green, yellow and red on the woman’s upper thigh).”

The dog was mellow and well-behaved etc. for the rest of the afternoon, which made the effort (and pain) absolutely worth it. There would have been more practice (and possibly higher speeds) the following day, if it hadn’t rained nonstop for the next 36 hours. As it stands, when free time and good weather coincide again the woman, the (damn) dog and the bicycle will be stopping and starting at various wobbly speeds around the neighborhood once more. Because mad spills notwithstanding, she may be on to something.***

***If “on to something” means “persistently stupid.”


Happy Boss's Day!

Or is the non-possessive "Boss Day" the way to say it? That doesn't sound right.

Speaking of not right: How bad would it be if an employee bought three huge fancy cookies for her boss in honor of this silly Hallmark-created day (and maybe also to spread a little cheer before her performance review is written up), but instead of giving the boss all three cookies, the employee kept one for herself?

Just a hypothetical question, mind you. Not that anyone would dream of being so rude as to play takesies-backsies with a bunch of fancy cookies... Especially if the cookie the employee kept for herself was the largest one of the bunch. Deplorable, is what that would be.

On a completely unrelated note, my lunch today was colorful and delicious.



I might have missed my true calling in this life: Sister's baby shower was a big success. Such a success, in fact, that three hours after it started I was trying to figure out a polite way to say "get the hell out of my house, people, I have Work in the morning." I only zoned out a few times, during such conversations like When to Potty Train Your Child (sorry, don't have one) and Show Me What's in Your Purse (sorry, don't own one). One woman showed up with her toddler, which wasn't such a big deal once I realized the child was so timid she'd be super-glued to mommy's lap the whole time.

[Note to parents: Children are absolutely welcome in my home, as long as you give me enough notice so I can attempt to create a safer environment amidst the metal furniture, tile floors and exposed-because-we're-about-to-update-the-kitchen electrical outlets. Also? If I have three dogs and will be hosting an event with food: A dog phobia + PEANUT ALLERGY heads up before you just stroll in with your fragile baby would be much appreciated.]

After spending the hours leading up to the first guest's arrival with my mother helping out (anyone else with a mother whose "help" somehow doubles the time it take you to get anything done?), hosting the Energizer Baby Shower, and then more family time afterwards, I was more than ready for my free massage last night. Which is why it was that much more fantastic when I showed up at the clinic to "oh, you didn't get my email?" and the news that I could turn around and go home, as the class would not be having a demonstration after all. I'd go into more detail here, but I'm still sobbing which makes it difficult to type.


Tonight I get to meet a massage colleague (that was so pretentious and obnoxious-sounding that I just threw up a little) at his house to work on him for an hour. For free. Supposedly we'll then arrange a time for him to reciprocate the free rub-down on me, but as I'm a little scared of the dude's technique I don't think that'll happen anytime soon. Because I can't show up until after his kids are in bed, I won't be getting home until 11-ish and I know, I know, it's so unhip of me to admit it, but good lord, that is too late for me to be out on a work night. I lost the ability to function decently at the office on too little sleep about 7 years ago. Maybe I should get reacquainted with that old jerk Exercise and see if he knows where my energy went. Or switch up my vitamin medley. Or add a fiber supplement.

Getting off track here. Better go.


Learning about carpet and also that I'm easy

So, bet you didn't know that new carpet can shed for up to 120 days after installation. Neither did we. And there's a good chance that the Empire rep was lying through his teeth just to get me off the phone, promising they'd "absolutely fix it" if it didn't stop by the 121st day (I also have a sneaking suspicion that the fine print of the contract grants us an after-install warranty for... oh, exactly 120 days). We'll see, I guess. In the meantime, should you ever come over to my house and want to lay down on the carpet for a while (as I'm sure all houseguests do, but I can't really remember that far back to when we actually had friends that wanted to come over), just know that you may head down to the ground in a black t-shirt or red pants for example, but you'll be coming up beige. And fuzzy. Which, let's face it, if you ARE wearing red pants, might be an improvement.

Two evenings ago as I bid goodnight to my one massage appointment, I ran into one of my former teachers and was persuaded to come back to the classroom to be a practice dummy for a student. The massage was... not too bad overall, except for the part where the student leaned in and swallowed the top of my head with her belly (although I think this was unavoidable, as the student was a bit... bulky), pressed her crotch up to the face cradle, and everything went urine-smelly for a minute. Wow. I should have warned you I'd be getting disgusting with that sentence, and quickly.

So. Personal hygiene. Something to think about.

The teacher mentioned she'd be bringing someone in to be a demo dummy for a full body massage on Monday, but she hadn't found that someone just yet. I took a deep, calm breath, then yelled up from the massage table "I'll do it! What time do you need me to show up?! For REALS?!!!" Just wanted to be sure she knew I'd be okay with helping out, you know, if she really needed me.

I'll get a free full body massage from a damn good massage therapist Monday night, and all I have to do is take off my clothes and let a roomful of people watch for an hour. Am such a whore.

I have to say, however, that after a weekend of family fun plus hosting a baby shower (that has grown so big and so out of my control, so quickly), I'll be naked before the teacher can say "here we go." Hell, I'll probably show up an hour early, waiting like a vulture for the class to start. Draped in the sheet. Having applied the oil myself. Just to save us all some time.


Icing on the cake

When one of the dogs ralphed on the new carpet, not 24 hours after its installation, I'm sure Monk breathed a sigh of relief, glad he was not the first one to "christen" it. I'm just as sure that his sighs were not of the relieved variety when he came home yesterday to find that one of the dogs (different one this time- they enjoy tormenting us on a rotating schedule), suffering from some unknown digestive issue, had decorated the edges of her crate, creating a rather unpleasant border which had taken full advantage of the hours we were at work to sink deep into the carpet and the padding beneath it. And no, we're not talking vomit. So yes, it really was that bad. At least, so Monk tells me. I suppose we've found the one advantage to my long commute.

I did help scrub the carpet later and most of the nasty came out. Along with a layer of carpet fibers. I don't know too much about carpet, but I do know that if the carpet sample you pull and poke during the estimate doesn't produce little tufts of beige, and the carpet installed in your living room does, chances are you received the wrong carpet. I have less of a problem with the carpet falling apart than I do with the fact that we overpaid to such moronic proportions. There's Reasonably Overpaying (paying for convenience, which we expected to do) and then there's Sucker-y Overpaying (paying what we did and being able to pull the carpet up by the handful two weeks later). Now I get to call Empire and probably be told there is nothing they can do, that one of the tiny-print sentences on the contract we signed noted that we are pathetic suckers and should be treated as such, and that's what you get when you find yourself in an emergency carpet replacement situation, and you'll enjoy your new crappy [no pun intended] carpet and you'll like it, or at least you'll shut the hell up about it. Suckers.

The dog seems to be feeling better though, so that's something.