Wednesday, June 27, 2012

99 problems...

But you know what isn't one? Crumbs in my non-self-cleaning oven!

Step One: crank the oven to 450 for 20 minutes.

And OK, sure, sure, it MAY be a problem that I keep a dustbuster under the shit table in the entry way, and it MAY be a problem should anyone catch me vacuuming the inside of my oven (it's now off, for Pete's sake, that is Step Two!)... but I have a sparkling clean oven now, free from crumbs, easily vacuumed up, having lost their substance in the aforementioned 450 degrees.

Step Three: cheers for cleanliness!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2 more.

You know YUPpies... you know DINKs... you probably even know BOBOs... Young Urban Professionals, Dual Incomes No Kids, and the paradise-dwelling Bohemian-Bourgeois.

But let's all add two more, learned this week on NPR: HENRYs and SITKOMs.

High Earners; Not Rich Yet.

Single Income, Two Kids, Oppressive Mortgage.

I'm not sure the last one is real. Was it a joke stuck on the end of the story by the reporter? Either way, I know some STIKOMs and some HENRYs and will happily toss these terms in next round of banter in which I find myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

20, 19, 18, 17...

I tip 20% without thinking. It is my standard. I may even tell you I think it should be your standard. In fact, I typically round up, so that depending on the size of the bill, I usually end up tipping 21% to 25%.

This is why I am truly sad, and sorry to relate, that as the years away from waiting tables increase, I find myself stopping to consider this tipping practice.

It's lame to bitch about bad service. It's for cheap bastards, it's for old people, it's for judgmental office automatons who have never worked a double shift on cement floors on Mardi Gras in a New Orleans themed restaurant. I don't like the idea of joining the leagues of these types of assholes.

So am I becoming an old curmudgeon who yells at the kids on my lawn? Or is it that I keep running into bad, bad, BAD service?

This past week: brunch in a very un-busy place where 25 minutes passed without a server checking in with me. And I define "checking in" as including a slow walk-by, where I can choose (or not) to seek eye contact. If I don't make it or don't need you, that's OK; you've checked in. You've made yourself available. The 25 minutes of side work you just did about 15 yards away was the 25 minutes in which I decided I needed neither dessert NOR another drink (both of which I would have ordered) and asked for my check instead.

On which I rounded down, to 17.02% as a tip. I felt awful about it.

But I didn't feel awful enough to not do it.

So should I tell servers to watch out? The times they are a-changin'? Or was this a one-time-super-cranky-weekend kind of thing?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top of the list; bottom of the list.

I wake up every day, and do three things even before I get up to pee. First, I check my work BlackBerry with one eye open. Then I check my personal email with both eyes open but unfocused. Then I look at the Top Ten news stories at New York, as ranked on the iPhone app, and sometimes take the full articles - not just headlines - with me for breakfast and during the morning routine.

The Top Ten on the iPhone is a blend of stories from different news sections - mostly "Top News" but a little bit of Style section, New York Regional headlines and even a Dining + Wine well-read selection from time to time.

The other morning, the first story on the list was about how the United States' military branches have had an average of one suicide per day among currently enlisted folks in 2012. That is, by the way, more than the number of people lost in combat in 2012 so far. They're killing themselves faster than they're being killed by enemy fire.

The story at the very bottom of the list was about high-end real estate agents in New York City, and what apartments they would recommend - and why - in the $30 million-and-up-price-range.

Sometimes I hate my own country. Sometimes I really, REALLY hate it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Forewarned is forearmed.

I have planted some bright red geraniums and little purple-flowered ground cover in the parking strip. (Do you know about the parking strip? It is apparently the bane of many gardeners' existences.) But we live in a skinny house, so with only 25 feet of property facing the street - including a driveway! - I have but a tiny bit of land to work with. The parking strip is the only place for me to show neighborhood pride!

But I'm warning myself - and you - now. The beautiful geraniums, they're tempting. They're a shiny, candy red and blooming away happily, with more buds already to be seen, and part of me wonders, "Are they begging to be picked?"

And if they are, how angry will I be to come outside and see them ruthlessly chopped down or ripped out of the ground? Well, we all know the answer to that: really, really, really angry.

And if all I can control in the world is my reaction to things, then perhaps I shouldn't have set my self up, shouldn't have planted such lovely flowers for all passerby to see...

Only time will tell. But I'll be sure to report back with updates!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

215 minutes.

I've been struggling with life in the maintenance mode of Weight Watchers. I hit a very respectable weight, felt good, not quite to the goal number, but good enough - and frustrated enough about not reaching The Number that I decided to take a break from the "loss" mode and do "maintenance" for a bit, and return to that last 5 in the summer.

(Summer is here, ahem.)

Well... my version of maintenance mode ended up being that little extra food each day, as prescribed, plus whatever I want on Saturdays. And sometimes Fridays too. Turns out, that will put weight back on! Slowly but oh-so-surely.

So I am staring myself down, having gained back 6 or so pounds. Plus the 5 I wanted to lose, too. Sure, sure, it's nothing like starting at the beginning - but in many ways, it's harder.

And yet, I'm still going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, and I'm still going to Zumba 2 times a week, and it occurred to me that I'm also back to looking in the mirror and feeling crappy, ugly, fat. (Yes, I know fat is not a feeling.)

So why keep working out? Why bother?

But last week, in a Zumba class, stretching out my arms in what felt like a very elegant and alluringly exotic way, to the sound of a bhangra beat, I answered that why.

I might look in the mirror right now and feel frustrated. Might feel two steps back after one step forward, definitely feel undisciplined and annoyed with myself. But for about 215 minutes a week, when I am actually in the process of some type of working out, I am so powerfully grateful for this body and what it can do, is doing, has learned to do. And that's 215 minutes a week that wasn't being experienced a year ago, and that's 215 minutes a week that are a solid break from body-shaming. Said it before, and I'm sayin' it again: that gratitude game. It's a winner.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preach to the choir, reap the reward!

When you love to bake, you find other people who love to bake. And then you talk about baking. You IM about baking. You swap recipes and you leave Tupperware containers on each other's porches. And if you preach the great gospel of the Smitten Kitchen, you might get a container of rhubarb snacking cake, smack in the middle of rhubarb season!!

The only problem with this recipe was that the baker and so-called "friend" who left it on my stoop left FOUR giant squares of it. Scoff! Friend! No, not a friend. A temptress. Smitten Kitchen's recipes are not trifles; they prove any and all diet-preachers wrong who claim you can hope to break an addiction to sugar. Smitten Kitchen cackles with laughter at this idea. And to top it off... I, like this "friend", live with a person who inexplicably cares not for rhubarb and didn't eat a single bite!!

So I hope you agree that I consider it Herculean to only ate 60% of what she left for me and save 40% for my brunch guests the next day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just ignore that part.

Some people take a hot bath to relax. Some go for a long walk, take a nap, bake a cake or meditate. My escape, in times of stress, as you may already know, loyal reader, is to re-read the Anne of Green Gables series. 8 books, 8 great phases of a person's life, a romantic setting from the 1890s through the end of WWI.

The books are still a total escape for me - while also being completely memorized and comfortingly predictable. The world falls away and I'm simultaneously 10 years old, reading the story for the first time, and also 15, 17, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, and 29 - putting the stresses of those times on the back burner for the few minutes I have picked up the story that day, at whatever point I find myself.

Some of the religious overtones are neither for me, nor offend me - I read past calmly. But in the first, most famous book, one part gets me every time... Anne's best friend Diana has told her that Moody Spurgeon MacPherson told his mom she (Anne) is the smartest girl in school, and, Diana proclaims, "It's better to be clever than pretty." Anne retorts that is it not!, "feminine to her core."

Ten times? Twenty?... that I've read this book... and every time that line jolts the hell out of me!