Little Black Backpack

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I've been in the new job for 2 full months now.  It's going really well.  Love where I work; really enjoy what I do; great co-workers; an easy, unoffensive commute; and to top it all off, the company looks great on resumes.  Work life is good these days.

My company is large and so is the campus where my office is located.  This means lots of co-workers and lots of diversity.  Awesome, cool, whatever.  I've never worked in an office of this size or one that required suits on men most days (which is hands-down a great look on most men).  Women wear typical business casual attire, although it's definitely a step up from what my friends and I wore in Austin on a regular basis (see just about any post on Capital Hill Style).  Anyway, so everyone rolls in looking nice every day.  But what absolutely KILLS the look is when a co-worker passes you in the lobby and you see that they are wearing A BACKPACK. 

Seriously??  You have a job.  You're not a teenager.  You're not on your way to class.  You're on your way to your office.  WHY DO YOU HAVE A BACKPACK?? 

My team has a new-hire this week.  (I get to train her.  Do not be jealous.  Seriously.)  She arrived looking very nice in a dress... and then immediately she looked less professional because she had a black Jansport backpack with her (that ended up all over the place... tangled under my feet multiple times, caught up in computer cables... it was ridiculous.  The lesson here is DON'T BRING A FREAKING BACKPACK TO WORK.)  I don't care that she's riding a shuttle from another nearby state.  That's no excuse. 

I'm not saying we need to wander down the garden path of brief cases.  I think brief cases are a thing of the past.  Relics of days gone by when laptops weren't around (I can remember my dad's briefcase from when he had a portable computer- not a laptop, but a portable computer.  There's a difference.  It was not awesome) and you had to carry paper files around.  There are plenty of totes out there now that will hold a massive amount of crap- everything from laptops to notepads to magazines to books.  You can even fit clothes and snacks in them if you pack them right.  Totes not your style?  WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE MESSENGER BAG.  Where totes tend to be more feminine, messenger bags can have a mass appeal due to a variety of styles that allow them to run the gamut from sporty to chic.  And if it's a change of clothes that you require, for, say, an extra-curricular workout, just bring your freaking gym bag!  Just make sure it's in good shape and clean. 

All this is to say that I simply don't understand how people put in so much effort to look nice for work but then kill it with the backpack.  So if you're one of these people, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a nice, new bag that looks professional.  You don't have to spend an arm and a leg.  Go to Target.  Go to Marshall's.  Hit up sales at any store.  Whatever.  Find something you like and make the purchase.  People will take you more seriously.  I promise.

Stepping off my soapbox now.  Thankyouverymuch.

Forever Young

Monday, August 30, 2010

Original artwork by L, circa 1986, and recently bestowed on us by L's grandmother.  Even then he was exactly the same: if he was going to draw a random "community service building" or city hall right now, I can almost guarantee he'd call the town Scribble Town.  Thirty-one year old L doesn't know why Scribble Town City Hall and Community Service Building has ears, though.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

When L left for Phoenix on Monday morning (the first time, right before I locked myself out of the house), I stood in the doorway with a pang in my heart and watched him walk down the front walk to the cab that was waiting for him.  “I’ll see you in 96 hours!” he said. 

Well we now know that obviously it was only about 10 minutes later that I saw him again, but then he was off for real.  And then the wonder set it: 96 hours is 4 days.  But when would he actually be returning?  Thursday night?  Friday sometime during the workday?  I had no clue.  I’m sure many couples would get these details hammered out before the trip starts, but honestly, as much as I miss him when he’s gone, it just makes no difference to me if my options are that he might arrive home after midnight on Thursday or sometime during the day on Friday because I know what I’ll be doing during both of those times: sleeping and working.  Plus, this way it keeps the marriage fresh and exciting.

Well now I’ve figured out that he will arrive home tonight.  Just minutes after midnight.  I’ve had fun flying solo this week but I’m ready for him to come home.  Why?  Well, aside from the fact that he's my husband and I like particularly enjoy his company, take a look at my post-work activities this week:
Monday- workout and chips and homemade guac for dinner (which I argue is totally healthy because the chips were corn chips and guac is nothing but fruit and vegetables mashed together with a pinch of salt)
Tuesday- 4 ½ hour long happy hour with my favorite friend here
Wednesday- another workout, followed by bad TV and some writing
Thursday- attempted yoga (unsuccessful due to traffic and a realization that my wallet went missing); intended trips to Target, Home Depot, and Babies R Us (for the baby gifts we didn’t manage to get last weekend) that also got scrapped in favor of catching up with a dear friend whom I hadn't talked to since my wedding; and scheduling plans with friends for the weekend

Not exactly super exciting, is it?  What I've noticed this summer is that my/our life here is not exactly filled with excitement.  It wasn't always in Austin, either, but it's really become dull here.  I've been contemplating all of this in L's absence and trying to remember how I infused more life into my life when it got boring before.  Because when I lived in Austin, if I didn't have anything to do, I found something to do.  When L first moved, I felt completely lost and honestly, a bit heartbroken.  He'd picked a job over me and his friends and left us.  Even worse: prior to his move, we spent the better part of every weekend during the 6 months leading up to his move with his friends ALLTHETIME (an unwise decision in a lot of ways that resulted in a lot of frustrated discussions between me and L after he moved).  That left me with very little once L left.  So what's a girl to do in that situation?  Obviously the answer is join a kickball team, a bowling team, take sewing lessons, start a (now defunct) book club, and reinvest in my dear friends who had put up with only seeing me during the weeks for so many months.  So I've been trying to figure out what to do on similar levels here.  Part of my/our problem is not having the extensive social network that I had built in Austin (I miss all of you a LOT).  Another part of it is that we have a smaller budget for "fun" stuff because 1) we are constantly trying to save so we can buy a house at some point down the road (it's going to be a long and most likely winding road at this point), 2) we are always having to save to buy tickets to go home for Thanksgiving (just bought those tickets... all I can say is... OUCH.  But at least we're able to come home and be there the whole week) and Christmas (purchase still looming) and weddings (found a good deal today- going to try and get the day off for it tomorrow!  Fingers crossed!), and 3) our rent is just so much higher here.  It's just harder.  And don't get me wrong- we do stuff, usually together and sometimes with friends (and I realize I need to post about some of these things... all in good time), but the evites don't come in with the frequency of my days in the 512. 

This is suddenly sounding like a pity party.  That's not what my original intention was.  MY POINT: it's time to find more stuff to fill my/our free time.  Not sure what exactly that will be, but I want to make this happen.  Step 1 was getting the gym membership up and running.  Step 2 is TBD while I explore my options.  I have some ideas, but we'll see what happens. 

P.S.- Right now I'm wishing I had direct and immediate access to Guero's.  I would love me a margarita and some fajitas tonight!!

'Cause I Want It All or Nothing At All

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Excerpt from our dinner conversation last Friday night:

L: "I remembered what I want to get up early tomorrow morning and do: go to the gym"

Me: "That's fine.  I was already planning going to yoga."

L: "Okay good"

Me: "The other thing we need to do is get that wedding gift and 2 baby gifts for your friends.  We HAVE to do that this weekend.  The babies are both like a month old and the wedding already happened."

L: "Whose wedding gift is this?"

Me (said with an eye roll): "Adam's!!"

L: "Oh yeah.  (brief pause)  Where do we need to go for all these?"

Me: "Bed, Bath, & Beyond for the wedding gift.  I'll have to look up store locations for the baby gifts"

L: "Then we'll have to get up super early to do all that."

Me: "Really?  Why?"

L: "Because I'm going to use the smoker like we'd talked about a few days ago and I'm starting it at 11 because it needs to go all day."

Me, bewildered: "11!  What are you smoking?!?!"

L: "The pork shoulder and the ribs we bought on Sunday"
Me, in a very alarmed/panicked tone (I couldn't help it): "What?!  Why are you smoking ALL of it??"

L: "It takes SO LONG to smoke anything.  It's so annoying to set it up AND you have to be there the whole time the thing is going.  If I'm going to have to be at the house all day, I just want to do it all at once and get it overwith."

Me: "But L, WHO IS GOING TO EAT ALL THAT?  We are TWO PEOPLE.  There is NO. WAY. we need that much food OR that we can eat that much food."

L: "We'll eat the ribs tomorrow night and then figure it out with the shoulder.  We'll just eat it for the whole week."

Me, thinking: There is no way I want this much pork.  How am I here again dealing with the mass meat fetish???  How did I honestly not see this coming?  Doesn't he realize we STILL have leftovers in the fridge from THIS week even though I've been eating them for lunch every day?  So many thoughts.  So many thoughts RIGHT NOW about how much I dislike this plan.

L: "Fine.  FINE.  Whatever."

Me: "Oh my gosh, don't be mad about this.  We do not need to make this. much. food.  Definitely use the smoker, but this just seems ridiculous!"


Yeah.  L's plan for Saturday was to go work out and then come home and smoke everything in the freezer (okay not everything, just everything that we'd bought for future use with the smoker).  We bought a pork shoulder and ribs last weekend at the store, but I was still so thrown off by the broccoli attack that it literally NEVER occurred to me that he would think about making both items at the same time.  NEVER.  I had a small hand in selecting the meat, but again, I was so thrown off by the broccoli incident that of course we came home with a 5-pound shoulder.  I remember making a point to tell him at the store that when we smoked the shoulder, we should have people over and hang out.  Like, during football season.  Because we'd already be home all day anyway watching games and people like to eat while they watch.  He was on board at the time.  I woke up earlier than him on Saturday morning and looked at how much the pork shoulder weighed (5 1/2 pounds) and resolved that a multi-meat smoking session just would not happen.  Especially since he wouldn't be here this week to eat whatever leftovers we had because he had to go to Phoenix for work.  Luckily, once L got up he recognized the error of his ways and agreed to hold off on the should and just do ribs and 4 chicken wings that were in the freezer.  This was extra good because the ribs were much bigger than either of us remembered.

The end result: L has stumbled into a dry rub recipe that can only be described as magical.  We're talking freaking DE.LISH.OUS.  The smoked chicken was just so good.  I wanted a whole meal of just the chicken, but unfortunately we only had 4 wings, so that was really more of a hint of the future chickens we'll smoke.  It was all so good that it didn't need sauce.  And best of all: I wasn't left to eat pulled pork all by myself for the entire week.  WOO HOO!!!

Locked Out

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guess who locked herself out of her house this morning, not 5 minutes after L left in a cab to the airport?

Nothing will make you panic more than knowing you might not be able to get into your house or car for 4 days without the aid of a locksmith, and you don't know of a locksmith to call.

We have a front door that automatically locks when you close it.  You have to have a key to open it when you’re outside.  In the 10 months I’ve lived in our house and the 11 months that L has lived there, neither of us has done this before.  Luckily, I did manage to grab my cell phone on my way out the door (I’ve been accidentally leaving it at home a lot recently, which sounds scary but seriously- who do you talk to on your cell while you’re at work?) so I was able to call L and ask him to turn around and come back and let me in the house so I could drive to work instead of being stuck outside for 4 days.  L really is my knight in shining armour.

Pretty sure we'll be hiding a spare key somewhere outside the house for future lock-out emergencies.


Monday, August 16, 2010

You know that whole storyline in You've Got Mail where Meg Ryan's character never gets to say what she wishes she could say in the heat of the moment? 

I have the same problem.  I'm always just so taken aback by the situation that I can't process what is seriously happening in the moment.  Two very specific instances come to mind: The Time I Went Grocery Shopping With L After a Nationals Game and The Time I Was in a Non-Collision Car Accident.  We'll be focusing on The Time I Went Grocery Shopping With L After a Nationals Game for the purposes of this post.

So, L and I went to the grocery store after the Nats game.  We're perusing the produce section and we decide that broccoli is going to be on this week's menu.  L immediately escapes to the front of the cheesecake factory that was the produce section on a late Sunday afternoon while I saunter over to the broccoli.  There's a teenage girl with her younger sister already looking at the broccoli and debating what size meets their mom's instructions of "not too big".  I reach the display case and start debating crowns versus stems (that were bundled 3 to a bunch), right as the girls pick up a head of broccoli that starts a broccoli avalanche.  I had a cookbook in my hands (Peace Meals, in case you're wondering, and I have absolutely no idea why I didn't leave it in the cart with L) so I could only catch one head of broccoli.  That leaves one bundle of broccoli that flies by my side on the left (the girls were to my right) and hit the floor.  The girls grabbed their broccoli and took off, and I gingerly replaced the broccoli that I'd managed to catch on the pile.  As I was putting that broccoli crown up, I saw two others that I wanted to get, so I started to pick them up.  That's when an elderly man charges at me out of nowhere and gets right up next to me and very loudly says, "YOU THINK YOU CAN'T PICK UP THE BROCCOLI YOU THREW ON THE FLOOR, LADY???" and then angrily puts the broccoli back on the pile in the case.  I was so taken aback- I'd just walked up and caught falling broccoli and then gotten blamed for the whole thing and then berated for not picking it up within 30 seconds.  I didn't know how to react.  And this is where I wish I could have said something different.  If I'd had my wits about me, I would have nicely but firmly explained that I didn't throw anything on the floor and that I wasn't just not picking it up, but I hadn't gotten to it yet.  Clearly my hands were full with the cookbook and broccoli.  So what did I say instead, "Oh- uh- wow- uh... I'm really sorry!"  Yeah, I apologized.  For something I didn't do.  That man made me feel like I had really done something wrong.  He was seriously so mean about it.  There was absolutely no need for that.  But the fact that I was so surprised by the whole incident, start to finish, AND the fact that my very southern, very non-confrontational mom ingrained it in me at a very early age to respect my elders, get along with everyone, and not ruffle feathers resulted in me apologizing.  If I'd been Mrs. FBI or SRG, I would've said exactly what I only wish I'd said and probably asked him not to speak to me that way, particularly since he didn't know me or what kind of person I am.  For the record, I'm totally that person that picks up after myself at movie theaters, concerts, and sporting events (this annoys L because he, on the other hand, thinks it's okay to leave the trash at our seats because the venue has staff to clean it.  My argument?  Those people have one less mound of trash to pick up and can maybe go home a little earlier.  Who doesn't like getting to go home early from work?  It's just being considerate).  If I'm shopping in a store and decide I don't want one of the items I have in my hand, I refuse to just put it down wherever I am- I take it back to where I found it.  I hang my clothes up in dressing rooms and take them to the "reject" counter if the store I'm in has one.  Basically it comes down to this: I am a considerate person and I don't like some old man making a false assumption about me and then being mean to me as a result.  And ultimately he got away with it because he's old and I don't want to be disrespectful to an old person.  Grr. 

I told L what happened and he immediately wanted to give the man a piece of his mind.  While very nice and chivalrous, I insisted that he not make a scene by saying anything. 

I've said enough on this subject for one evening.  I'll tell the tale of The Time I Was in a Non-Collision Car Accident another time.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

L and I had quite the little weekend!  I finally decided to go see the doctor on Saturday morning to see if there was a reason why I've had headaches all week and why my teeth hurt.  I was pretty sure it was a sinus infection, and I was right.  Rest assured that I'm on on antibiotics and Mucinex (how gross is that name?) and I am now the proud owner of a nettie pot, but I've been too afraid to use it so far.  I'm thinking tomorrow morning may be the right time.

After a serious nap, we headed up to the Merriweather Post Pavillion to see MGMT perform.    It was a good show, but I'll behonest, I'm a fan of the big hits.  The rest of it doesn't have the same energy.  I'd hoped it might have more at a live show, but it just didn't.  But we still had a good time.  Some of the good: our seats were close and we were on the far side, so we caught a nice breeze the whole time.  Also I can't remember the last time I saw an outdoor show when it was only about 80 degrees outside.  So nice!  Some of the bad: we were definitely some of the oldest people there.  Between the opening bands and MGMT, you could text messages to some number and they would get displayed on the screens around the venue.  Basically, this was the 2010 version of an overpass.  All of the messages were in text lingo and I swear to you, all of them were declarations of love for different people in that I can only assume were also in the audience, presumably next to the person who sent the messages.  This actually prompted a discussion between me and L of proper grammar (L was wrong about something and refused to admit it).  Anyway, the best text message of the night on the screen appeared about 10 minutes before MGMT took the stage.  What did it say?  "Good luck on the SATs, kids!"  So great.  I'm sure it went right over the heads of many, but it was funny to the non-teenagers.

And finally, today we went to a Nationals game, compliments of L's work.  We were late getting there because of the Metro but we got there in time to see the presidents race around the field.

Once again, Teddy lost (he's never won a race. Ever.  It's a thing now).  But it's always hilarious to see them run.  Huge heads on little legs are just funny.  Here's a shot of Teddy up close:

The seats were great, we saw the Nats score all of their runsand win the game, and we got to see Stephen Strasburg pitch (it's a big deal here). 

I tried a famous Ben's Chili Bowl half-smoke (without the onions):

And this guy was awesome at revving upthe crowd (you can't tell, but he's dancing):

MOST importantly, it didn't rain on us, as predicted by every meteorologist in the area.

Hooray for a good weekend!    What did YOU do??

Good Friday

Friday, August 13, 2010

Taking a page from one of the blogs I read, The Little Things We Do, (and also due to sheer boredom this afternoon) I've decided to start taking part in Fill in the Blank Friday. Here's today's:

1. Birthdays are: fun! I love making a big deal out of L’s birthday.

2. My favorite birthday memory was: Lots to pick from here. Being forced to dress as a pirate on my 21st birthday, the first year I lived in Austin when my sister and most of my bffs came in to play for the night, 2 years later when everyone came in again and we did sushi and went out, and then the trips L has surprised me with.

3. A birthday tradition I (or my family) has is: actually it’s not really so much about my birthday as it is about when my birthday falls. I love that I’m almost always able to spend the day with immediate family and sometimes (when my birthday falls the day before Thanksgiving) even with my whole extended family.

4. If I had to choose one birthday meal to eat for the rest of my birthdays hence forward, I would choose: My family has never had a traditional “birthday dinner” or anything. I think we’ve pretty much always eaten at home on my birthday, especially since I left for college and usually I’d drive home on whatever day my birthday was. I like 99% of what my mom cooks so and it was always just nice to have Mom cook something for dinner that wasn’t hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, or whatever other Kraft/Oscar Meyer foods WLM’s mom had stocked our kitchen with.

5. My birthday is on: November 21!
6. If I could take a birthday trip I would go: to Santa Fe. I have no real reasoning for this except that I’ve had it in my head for the past month or so that I want to go back sometime soon. So this year, that’s where I’d pick! Outside the U.S., I’d say anywhere in Greece.

7. The best gift I've ever received for my birthday was: a marriage proposal. Yep, it’s cheesy and I’m sure several of you will roll your eyes, but it’s true. The engagement ring wasn’t too bad, either. I’m trying to pick a regular gift and I am totally blanking out.

Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

L and I have both been feeling a little blah this week.  He's been having eye issues and I've been having sinus issues.  He went to the doctor today to find out what was up with his eye and found out the problems are just due to seasonal allergies, so hooray for that.  However, L also showed his doctor a spot on his right cheek that he thought was weird, and sure enough, it turns out it was a very small basal cell skin cancer.  The doctor froze it off and all is well- it just looks like L has a pimple forming where the cancerous cells were.

I bring this up not to be dramatic or all, "Woe is me!" or whatever because he is totally fine, but to remind everyone that in the remaining days of summer, WEAR SUNSCREEN!!  And be liberal with the SPF and the application. 

L never lays out (he is a guy, after all) and is really only in the sun for any extended period of time when he plays golf, which is about once every 4-6 weeks.  I, on the other hand, have spent many a weekend by the pool in years past and have always been known to burn if I've been in the sun for longer than 15 minutes.  Gotta love that fair skin!  I think this solidifies my new found love for airbrush tanning.  Get the look without the cancer (at least that we know of at this point; I'm sure there's carcinogens somewhere in the tanning spray).

Buy U a Drank

According to the credit card and bank account statements that we keep getting, L and I either opened or are living in a bar called Bar Ninja. 

That is all.

Every day is a winding road

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

L and I took our first East Coast road trip this weekend. We left the house on Friday at 8 with the intention of getting to Princeton, NJ by 11:30ish. This plan was immediately de-railed by 1) the need for gas, 2) the need to put air in a tire (I officially have the WORST luck with tires), and 3) my desire to pick up food to eat in the car. So in reality, we probably didn't officially get on the road til around 9.

My thoughts on the drive:

• I still really enjoy road trips with L (which is fortunate since we're only 9 months in to the rest of our lives). I love that we make each other laugh so much about absolutely nothing and I also love that it's still fun to play the "First Dance" song game even though we're married.

• Much as I love road trips with L, we were both so frustrated by the time we got to the hotel on Friday night that we both swore up and down we would NEVER drive to New York again. Side note: HSG, be so glad that it didn’t work out for you take that trip last summer that would’ve involved driving from Boston to the Outer Banks or wherever last summer. It’s such a stupidly long drive, and I’ve only done a fraction of it now. Plus there's no excuse for not flying because there's a gazillion major airports between those two cities and when you drive, you have to drive through Pennsylvania and freaking Maryland. Geez. Maryland. Speaking of, here's a pic of the tunnel you have to go through north of Baltimore:
I really like how that picture turned out. Moving on.
Other roadtrip musings:

• My car really does get incredibly good gas mileage. I had forgotten this. Also I'm remembering I should've gotten gas after yoga tonight. I bet I have just enough get to work in the morning, though... I'm feeling lucky.

• Entirely too many people were on the road for a Friday night.

• I have no idea why there are SO MANY toll roads on I-95. This was also baffling because in Texas, it's free to drive on I-35 and I-45/75, I-20, and I-10. Never have I been asked to pay to drive on regular roads before. Only toll roads. And they're called toll roads because they have tolls. Very self-explanatory.

• I hate the bridge in Philadelphia. Apparently I may have a problem with driving on bridges now. This is new. Also I have no idea what the bridge is called or if it's the only one, so to be more specific, I hate the double-decker one that seems extra high and VERY long. It should be noted that I was too nervous to look to the sides to find out how high we actually were, so it's actually entirely possible we were only 20 feet off the water and that the incline and decline were just very gradual. Who knows. Also I don't know for sure that it was double-decker. L speculates that it was, though. Like I said, I was focused on just getting to the other side and not checking out the scenery.

• The roads in Pennsylvania = not cool. I drove through most of PA on Friday and my first thought was, "This feels like driving on I-20 into Shreveport." Love you, Louisiana, but you're not known for having the smoothest of roads. Let it be known henceforth that driving in PA is like driving over speed bumps at 70 mph. Wish I was exaggerating.

• The gps on my phone is quite the jokester. So is GoogleMaps. After slowing down to a mere 5 mph twice during our trip (north of Baltimore for about 25 minutes and north of Philadelphia for about 40 minutes), L and I particularly enjoyed making laps around Princeton while we first hunted for Alexander Road (thanks, GM) and then while we followed the directions that the gps gave us. It's always fun when you go down dark, creepy roads that lead to nowhere at 1:30 a.m. and then the gps tells you, upon "arrival" to your destination of nowhere that it has a new, completely different set of directions for you.

• It took us roughly 5 hours to get through 5 states. That was just a weird feeling.

• I really love the bath products that Doubletree Hotels give you. Hooray for Neutrogena!

• The same Doubletree also housed a restaurant called Off the Bone. This was simultaneously both hilarious and gross to me and L. Lots of jokes were made (think sexual innuendos), but seriously, I don't want to think about pulling meat off bones. I feel the same way about the term, "laser hair removal." Gross. Fine if you want to wax or whatever (that term allows me to mentally think about melted wax), but "hair removal" sounds so gross to me. It conjures images of the hair that has been removed. If your reaction to that was a full body shiver, then it was the right reaction.

More to come on the rest of the road trip... just give me time to upload the pics. 
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