Friday, July 31, 2009

License to ill, or why I've been exhausted for five days without doing anything.

My niece turned one on the 29th. It's a big deal to my family, which is why we had a birthday blowout at my sister's house on th 26th, last Sunday. It was a huge affair and all the family attended and then some. There was booze, kiddie pools and handknitted gifts. It was really great!

But let's backtrack. Dave and I left Dallas on Thursday, leaving the House of England in the able hands of our house-sitter, Steve. Our first stop was College Station. That's right, Aggieland. Dave and I both graduated from Texas A&M, albeit ten years apart, and we rarely take trips to visit our old college haunts. How rarely, you ask? This was my first trip back to college station after moving to Dallas, or four years and a month. Dave has been back a couple of times before this most recent trip.

Not much has changed about College Station. There is still an abundance of bad drivers and silly haircuts (most notably the Corps of Cadets members). There's always a new building going up on campus it seems, usually in place of a parking lot. If I thought it was hard to find a parking spot four years ago, I bet it's hell now.

Anyway, we started at one of our favorite bars on Northgate: Duddley's Draw. It's right next to the Dixie Chicken and Fitzwilly's, and also super close to the Dry Bean Saloon. Basically, Northgate is the place to party on Thursday through Sunday. Or anyday. The beer is still relatively cheap and cold, which is good because College Station had been unseasonably hot and dry.

We then had dinner at one of my old friend's house. It was great, and I really appreciate her hospitality (and her puppies!). We then stayed the night at another friend's house.

Some time during that evening, though, I managed to skin my knee into a terrible pulp and twist my left ankle. Good job.

The next morning we had migas and fresh tortillas and coffe at Los Nortenos in downtown Bryan. Then it was off to Conroe. I used to make this drive, from College Station to Conroe, all the time. I didn't realize how beautiful the scenery is on the two-lane Highway 105, just South of College Station via Highway 6. It's absolutely serene and pastoral. I was having a hard time not imagining myself buying up one of the picturesque ranchettes and settling down to a simpler life.

We made it to Conroe to drop our stuff off at my sister's place and then head to Downtown Houston for an Astros game. The 'stros perfectly pummeled the Mets. It was beautiful!

We then went over to my sister's place and stayed the night. Not much happened on Saturday except for some shopping. Blah, blah, blah. I did get to hang out with my niece plenty. She's so freaking adorable.

Sunday was the party. Check out the photo set here.

That night I finished my stealth knitting and put the socks on makeshift blockers so that my sister could wrap them up and take them to Scotland for her mother in law. I can't wait to get a photo of them on her!

But on Monday I woke up with a terrible sore throat. It was so dry and painful that I took some Tylenol PM so that I could sleep through the drive home. I've been battling this funk for five days now, and I finally feel like I'm winning. From what I can tell it's been going around, which speaks volumes of it's crappiness.

So, here we are, it's Friday, and I'm still tired, but hey, last weekend was worth it.

The End.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Life, flashing before your eyes.

I love a good baseball game. Especially one in which you root for the underdog and the underdog gives the mighty opponent a thrashing within an inch of your memory. We went to The Ballpark in Arlington last night and watched Your Texas Rangers beat the ever-loving snot out of the Boston Red Sox, not to mention the fact that the starting pitcher for the Sox was none other than Josh Beckett, the Savior of Spring, Texas. I watched him pitch in high school. He is greased lightening.

I like to knit during the first several innings of a night game. We usually have sandwiches, I knit and digest and then when it gets too dark or difficult to pass stitches from one needle to the next, I put it down, grab a beverage and root with real gusto. Makes being at the ballpark with my love a bit sweeter.

So, we were pretty pumped headed home last night. A great win against the BoSox will do that to you. Since I-30 takes you straight from our corner of East Dallas to Arlington, we stick with the Interstate for the entire trip. We were almost home last night, just past downtown Dallas on I-30, when a semi (tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler, for those of a different vernacular) decided that we didn't exist and almost took off the front end of Honda Solo as it made it's way from right to left into our lane.

Never before had I been so genuinely afraid for my life. I screamed, grabbed the "Oh Shit!" handle that usually clings to the headliner of the car, and braced myself for impact. Dave hit the brakes and laid on the horn, the truck swerved and we lived.

The whole thing made me realize that this life could be over in an instant. Our lives could end because of a careless semi driver with the license X01-004 decided that he could squeeze into our lane despite the fact that doing so would have killed us. And I can't reconcile that. It makes me angry and it makes me feel helpless at the same time.

But then again, one of the most beautiful things about life is the unpredictable. The things that you cannot control often end up showing you scenes from a reality with which you might otherwise never meet.

Here's hoping we all live through it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Semantics. Or girls do not poop or sweat: they eliminate and perspire.

When Dave and I moved in together he was still on the fence when it came to whether or not girls (and by association, women, including the woman he was moving in with, meaning me) had bowel movements.

Just recently have we both become comfortable with the topic enough to discuss them openly. We are coming up on our 3-year anniversary.

My family is the opposite of Dave's in many ways. Dave's family doesn't openly drink alcohol, no one smokes, they do not cuss or take the Lord's name in vain and they do not talk about bodily functions or sex. Of course, my family does all of these, mostly in moderation but often in excess.

And, just to clarify, I come from a family with a predominance of women. We talk about shit. Literally. And often.

This, until recently, was a taboo with Dave. It still makes him uncomfortable when the talk moves to bowel-related issues and why eating plenty of fiber is important among my family and relations.

I, however, grew up in a family where a good fart joke was almost guaranteed to make my oldest sister tinkle in her pants and where a decent bowel movement was celebrated by loud exclamations and wild gestures.

I cannot help but giggle when I imagine having these discussions with Dave's family.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three months, eight pounds

When I was met with the prospect of having my days completely open and to myself for a while, otherwise known as unemployment, I figured that keeping my old routine would keep me from going stir crazy. Also, it would keep me on track. Also, it would keep my waistline on track.

Old routine:

Go to work at 9 a.m. or so, answer phones and edit and blog until 5:30 some days, but usually until about 6 p.m. Head to the gym for cardio and yoga on Monday through Thursday. Friday I'd bust a move home to get liquored up ASAP. Cook dinner, shower, bed.

New routine:

Wake up at 9 a.m. or so, check e-mail, feed chickens, water plants, have coffee and maybe breakfast but usually juice because, hey, who wants to dirty more dishes? Read blogs, dick around on facebook and twitter. Once completely bored and desperate for amusement, check job listings. Apply when necessary. Eat lunch, watch some TV and wait for the husband to come home. Do chores, knit.

Notice how the gym is absent from the new routine?

I didn't either, at first. Now that all of my pants fit a little tight, I'm beginning to take stock.

So, I figured I'd start out slow, maybe do a few exercise videos at home in between meals and get back to doing my regular cardio/yoga routine. I considered going on walks during the day here, but since it's hotter than the surface of the sun in Dallas right now, I think I'll pass. The high is 104F today with a heat index of 115F. Um. Screw that.

Also, I suppose I need to lay off the ice cream for a while. I've been using Chocolate Almond Fudge as my preferred anti-depressant lately. I think I'm better off switching to post-workout endorphins.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thirty-minute whirlwind

I just got off the phone from my first-ever phone interview. Was it bizarre? A little. I think phone interviews are a lot like that first call after making a match on an internet dating site. You both know a little bit about the other and small talk comes easy because you don't know too much, but it's awkward. You don't know that person's timing, and you can't tell when they're pausing or when they're ready for you to talk.

In all, I think it went pretty well. Here's hoping I get the in-person interview. There were almost 100 candidates for this job, and I made it through the first couple of rounds. I'll know in a couple of weeks if I make it to the next.

So, like I said, we got a new chicken coop. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm really excited about our future chickens, but the coop is pretty much just a frame and a roof right now. We still need to cut a trap door in the flooring so that the gals can go into the run. We also need to fit it with doors, a ladder for the chickens, nest boxes, roosts, insulation and siding. It's got a great roof though. And I think I'm going to keep the corrugated tin siding that's on it currently. It has a pretty wicked cool patina on it.

I'm also doing a bit of stealth knitting right now. It's for a certain relation that lives abroad, and I'm pretty excited about it.

Also, I went mattress shopping last night, and I am so freaking excited, because we will have a new mattress delivered TONIGHT. OMG. Most people my age are excited about new clothes or vacations, I'm excited about getting a good night's sleep for once. This sucker is a pretty swanky luxury pillowtop. My only concern is that I won't want to share it with Dave. And that our comfy sheets won't fit over it because this sucker is THICK!!!

It's Friday, and I'm sipping coffee and cruising job listings, and I hope you guys have fun weekends ahead of you. I'll be knitting and comfortably sleeping in! Oh, and delivering manicotti to friends with a new baby!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Plenty of time to ponder

I was talking to my mom last night about a bank screw-up that Dave and I had suffered through recently, and after my angry tirade my mother said, "Well, at least you have plenty of time on your hands to sort it all out, right?"

Yes. And no.

A lot of the time I've been unemployed has been spent on the hobbies and interests I've put aside to focus on my job at the newspaper. Most of my time is spent on writing (not here, obviously) and tweaking my resume and portfolio, and generally applying for positions. The rest is housework.

Although I can list these things and prove that every day that has passed since losing my job has been a full day, it seems like everyone just assumes that I'm sitting around in my husband's boxers and an oversized T-shirt, sipping coffee and munching on things, watching movies and generally being a slob.

OK, maybe that happened the first few days of unemployment, but I've been better about the depression thing.

It's been three months, as of today, that I have been unemployed.

And I can't wait to have a job again.

A lot of folks that were laid off with me are looking into retraining, and I think that's great. In fact, like I mentioned in this post, I have given it some serious thought. But I feel like writing and outreach and communications is my calling, and I hope to do it for an organization that makes me as excited about going to work everyday as working for The Dallas Morning News did. I knew that every day was going to be unique and challenging, and I hate that it ended.

So, I have a phone interview on Friday, and I'm really excited since this has pretty much been the only nibble I've had since casting my lure about two and a half months ago. Not only that, but it's an opportunity to work for an organization that I really believe in. So, if you wouldn't mind, I could use a few good vibes sent my way at 9 a.m. on Friday morning, I'd appreciate it.

In other news, we should be getting a new chicken coop delivered this afternoon. I am so thrilled! I've already started thinking about what new chickens we'd get. Probably some bantams, since the actual nesting area is rather small. The top five I have in mind:

From top to bottom: Splash Frizzle Cochin, Buff Bantam Silkies, Bantam Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Laced Polish, Bantam Buff Orpington. All photos are from MyPetChicken.