“It is folly to punish your neighbor by fire when you live next door.”
– Publilius Syrus
Those of you who remember this little fiend, will be happy to know that he has departed for grimmer and more diabolic realms. Alternatively, you will be saddened to know that he has been replaced with something far, far worse:
Our new upstairs neighbors.
Not only do they fight, constantly, at the top of their lungs, specifically at ridiculous hours of the the night, but they are also completely incapable of walking. No, no. They stomp. Which makes our ceiling shake. And they throw parties with loud friends in which they, as far as we can tell, practice riverdancing. Or dropping bowling balls.
The other night, when we were watching a movie, we heard the door above us slam and moments later the light fixture started rattling around.
“Ah good,” J. said, “Lord and Lady Stompington are home.”
Obviously all this PBS watching is starting to rub off on him!
“Good God, woman, where have you been?” he cried furiously.
A morbid lunacy overtook her. She smiled fiercely and held up the bag.
“Shopping. Want to see what I bought?”
– Lois McMaster Bujold
My wallet is now under permanent lock-down. Because of going to That Show, I bought this and this (the latter for my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding), but unfortunately not this because it did not look at all good on a less-than-five-foot woman. I looked a frilly mess.
Then, the other day, Venice called me (from two doors down in her flat) and said I had to come over right now. I obligingly threw on some basketball shorts and scampered on over only to behold this.
“Where did you get that?!” I screeched in excitement.
“From that place we hate,” she triumphed.
“Nope. For $87.00!”
“I NEED THAT!”
The next step was to get J. to agree. I pitched it as the perfect solution to this problem, which has been exacerbated since getting married as the only time I really get to see my husband is the time I used to go to the gym. I pinky-promised my way through the usual litany of bargains (to use it everyday, not to be a little grump when he reminds me that I haven’t worked out that day, etc.) and expounded its virtues (it’s cheap, it’s nice and small – C. sized! – it’s light, and it’s portable for future moves).
If anything else, the sheer guilt that would come from having that sitting in my house (staring at me) will motivate me to use it. It’s easy to ignore the gym when it’s not sitting in your living room! So, with J.’s consent, I bought it.
I really think this could be a solution to my exercise problem. After coming home from work in the evening to feed this guy, coupled with the desire to enjoy this, and the lack of desire to drive back to campus to deal with this, the idea that I could work out in my own home sounds pretty darn good.
What do you think of this plan, darlings?
**And by the way, if I start talking about buying anything else in the near future, jump me, steal and hide my wallet, and under no circumstances return it to me.
“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”
– Oscar Wilde.
I haven’t complained about work in a while, and there is a very simple reason for that. I had a rage stroke. Seriously. I got so angry that the rage literally had nowhere to go so it just retreated to a corner of my brain and fizzled. Between what I consider to be bad management with our pet project (which is still giving us a ridiculous amount of grief), and ego running our office in terms of funding, personnel relations, and department communication and day-to-day running, I was just FED UP.
Then, suddenly and blissfully, I just didn’t care anymore. Of course I’m not so foolish as to think the apathy is permanent. Just a few days later our copy machine threw up its metaphoric hands and said, “To hell with it,” Hennessy and I got so stressed that she had a minor meltdown and I spent a cathartic ten minutes kicking a brick wall before I went home, and self-entitled people began pouring out the woodwork (think they’ve been hibernating?).
To top it off, Dilbert™ for the past couple of days has been frighteningly like our department. Either Scott Adams secretly works here, or my worst fears have been confirmed and every job in the world is exactly the same.
“The list of Irish saints is past counting; but in it all no other figure is so human, friendly, and loveable than St. Patrick – who was an Irishman only by adoption.”
– Stephen Gwynn
For some reason, come St. Patrick’s Day every single person in the US seems to acquire Irish geneology, even where previously there was none before. And everyone gets wildly protective of their geneology and suspicious of others. I overheard a loud girl on her cell phone while walking from car to office today, “Yeah, I don’t know where she gets off saying she’s Irish! She just dyes her hair red. I mean, my family, we’re Irish…”
This is particularly funny to me these days because the state I live in is notoriously English and Scandinavian in terms of population. Blonde hair and blues eyes abound and names ending -son/sen are very much the majority. (Note: mobile phone girl was a Viking’s daughter if ever I saw one!)
Now, we do know we have some Irish ancestry because we have family records detailing which of them got gruesomely killed in the battle of Boyne, but I digress. The point is that my father is…wait for it…half Slovak. So my Dad has darker skin and tans wonderfully, as do all my siblings, and don’t get me started on my fantastically beautiful black-haired, blue-eyed, dark-skinned cousins!
And me? I’m short, brunette, green-eyed, incredibly pale (un-tan-able) and bad-tempered. That’s right: a leprechaun.
“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about Rock’n’Roll.”
– Shigeru Miyamoto
Last Friday, J. and I headed north to the city to play with Angel and her husband Hotty. Both of the men lived/worked in Korea at some point and converted their respective wives to the cuisine so we went to Angel’s favorite restaurant, got ice cream, and retired to their basement flat to play Rock Band.
Growing up we didn’t have gaming systems and to this day they remain verboten at Chez Parents, so I have never developed the necessary finger-eye coordination and thumb dexterity required by video games. My gaming experience was limited to watching Peregrine playing Final Fantasy back in the day, and trying Spyro The Dragon (exactly two times) while babysitting. And since I didn’t know what the point of the game was or how to achieve it, I mostly just scampered around whatever level I was on blowing fire and falling off things into oblivion while evil signs flashed “GAME OVER,” or something of the sort.
So, Beatles Rock Band went about as I expected. They started me on the drums which was manageable on the easiest level, but still confusing as I couldn’t get the timing of my whacks on the drum set vs. the scrolling instructions right until J. told me to ignore it and go along with the beat instead (oOOOoohhhh. Rhythm. Right).
At some point I graduated to guitar and luckily we set it to “impossible to fail” because I proceeded to slaughter the music. Then I got really ambitious and went from “Easy” to “Medium” and discovered my lack of hand-eye coordination is not just limited to sports. And I must be mildly dyslexic because for the life of me I couldn’t manage to match my fingers with their assigned keys, much less with the dots of color that wouldn’t stop rolling towards me. And chords! Impossible!
I think I’ll be settling back into video game retirement now, thanks.
“Julius Caesar was killed for one reason,
the Senators decided to accuse him of treason,
the day was the Ides and March was the season,
he wanted to be king, they wanted his head.”
– stanza of a poem I wrote ten years ago. Won me a school competition.
Monday feels a bit, appropriately, like this today:
“Not for all the money in the world would I let any children of mine develop into Pendletons!”
– Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs
Dear un-named child of an extremely generous university alumni: I am very grateful for your father’s contributions and service. I am sure that the whole school thanks him for his patronage. You, on the other hand, are not your father and are not entitled to his privileges. He has given us a lifetime of service and hard work, you have give us a series of debilitating migraines because of your rude, unbelievable behavior. I do not care how much money another person has donated, you are an insufferable ass and no amount of money will make you less responsible for your actions.
Wealth doth not a gentleman make.
I got home yesterday absolutely burning with rage after dealing with this boy.
“If,” I snarled at J., “we ever become as successful as we hope, we are donating everything to PBS and cancer research. I’ll be damned before I see any of our family act like that! The things I wish I could have said!”
“You don’t have to take apart every jerk that you deal with you know.”
“But I want to. It would make the world a better place!”
I come from some WASP stock myself, but if I ever behaved the way this kid does, my parents would gleefully disown me!
“At least she’s eating better things than macaroni and cheese.”
– Heidi Klum
Throughout my life my mother has been in school, in some capacity or another. When I was about three or four, she had to leave Dad and I for a few weeks to finish up something or other with one of her degrees (I misremember which. Which isn’t me being a bad daughter, it’s her having one in Asian Studies, one in American History, and now another in Classical Studies from Cambridge because she decided to learn Greek and Latin. In other words, my mother is exceptionally awesome). Time has blurred the details a bit but as I recall, this was an absolute highlight of my short life because Dad and I subsisted on mainly pizza.
I didn’t realize this during the Great Pizza Blitz, but it turned out that my Dad hated cooking. Really hated it. He encouraged my Mum to go to school, continue her education throughout her life, and work if she wanted, but by golly the one thing he wanted was dinner to be on the table, because left up to him, dinner would come grudgingly from a frozen package.
So, a few years down the road when she decided to teach for a semester or two at a local university, I thought the Pizza Affair would be reborn. I was sadly, terrifyingly mistaken.
Mac and Cheese. From a box. Every night. Some days even for lunch. Sometimes we varied it up with chunks of hotdog, but mostly not. Again, I’m sure both time and horror have worked their magic on me and the vile orange sludge was not as prolific as I remember, but it sure seemed like it at the time. When my mother’s teaching finished, I refused to eat another disgusting, processed bite, and I’ve never touched it since. Once when shopping J. picked up a box for himself on days when I’d be at school late or he needed a lunch, I had to swallow escaping bile.
However, watching Food Network the other day, I saw a recipe for ‘Grown Up Mac And Cheese’ and thought suddenly to myself, “That doesn’t look so bad.” It sounded pretentious enough that I could assure myself that it would be as un-Kraft-like as possible, but looked really easy to make. So, on Sunday I girded my loins and made Mac and Cheese for the first time in years.
And you know what? It was pretty darned tasty!
**I’ll still never make the packaged stuff again. My children will not be subjected to this powdered cheese monstrosity, except to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. And even then, I might choose death.