Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eat Me.

New "Foods" I've Tried Lately (some delightful, others not so much):
1. Fried Lemon ... surprisingly delightful.
2. Braunschweiger ... also known as "liver sausage." I didn't know about this alternate description when someone told me it was delicious. So I tried it. Then they told me what it was made of (liver, milk, and eggs). Then I was unhappy that it was in my mouth. It most closely resembles cat food. Not so delightful.
3. Pumpkin Ale ... I've actually had this from two different breweries. One was amazingly delightful, the other, not so much.
4. Fish Tacos ... stop laughing. These were made with swordfish. Delightful.
5. Cheese Curds ... made of magic and happiness held together by algebra. They squeak against your teeth when you chew them and it's neat! Also delicious fried. Very Delightful.
6. Skate Wing ... I was tricked into eating this. They told me it was "just a kind of fish." It looked like a huge ear on the plate, but I ate it anyway. It was tasty and delightful. But then I made the mistake of looking this thing up on the information superhighway. I threw up in my mouth a little when I saw it. I had nightmares last night. I'm still a little queasy this morning. I mean, seriously ... look at this thing!

Not so delightful.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Thing That Makes Me Smile:

Actually, this makes me laugh out loud with a sinister tone in my voice.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why America is Fat.

I once read an article about the top five reasons women don't go to the gym regularly. According to the author, a number of women cited the awkwardness of the locker room as a major concern. I can see how women might be intimidated by the idea of getting naked in front of complete strangers. I, however, am not afraid of such a thing. It doesn't really bother me to change in the locker room. I may or may not wrap myself in a towel to walk to the shower. I doubt anyone is looking at me, and I don't care what they think anyway. I've never really been embarrassed in the locker room … until tonight.

After I ran and lifted, I sat in the hot tub for a while, then it was back into the locker room to shower and change. It was around 7, which is just about the time that everyone else is in the locker room too. The after work crowd is leaving and the later crowd is just coming in. I was drying off as I was walking back to my locker, so needless to say, I didn't have the towel covering all of me. There were probably 15 people in the immediate vicinity of my locker, all changing, brushing their hair, or tying their shoes or whatever. So I was standing at my locker opening my lock when I experienced one of the top ten most awkward moments of my life. This was easily my most awkward locker room moment ever.

First, a bit of background information. How many of you have ever seen me moon anyone? That’s right … none of you. Little known fact: I’ve got a birthmark on each butt cheek. No. Seriously. And they’re symmetrically placed. Given that I’m prone to humorous and/or unusual situations, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’ve never really been embarrassed by this, but I don’t exactly go around showing everyone either.

I’m sure I don’t really have to tell you what happened while I was standing there naked opening my locker. Water aerobics had just ended and this little old lady was changing across the bench from me. I was standing there minding my own business, as one should in the locker room, when this creepy old lady says (loudly enough for everyone to hear), "My, aren’t those cute little birthmarks." … … and another very large old lady added, "That’s interesting." What the hell lady? Why are looking at my butt? And why are you POINTING IT OUT TO EVERYONE? Those of you who know me well can imagine the look on my face as I turned around, smirked at everyone looking at me, and hurriedly put my pants on.

As I stood there and finished changing, I realized that this little old lady could be directly responsible for the growing obesity epidemic. She is the reason women feel awkward in the locker room. She is the reason women who don’t go to the gym choose not to. Fat people of America, point your chubby fingers at her.

And when did Desperate Housewives get so violent?

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm Mad As Hell ...

... And I'm not gonna take it anymore. This is different than the rollerbladers or CP2. Those people are just irritating. This is not irritation. This is severe blinding rage.

I've always been pretty happy with Arvest, but Arvest does not exist here. I figured long distance banking would be much like long distance relationships. A lot of unnecessary hassle and inconvenience. So I opened an account with Park Bank. I chose this bank because they have 11 locations in the Madison area and one of these locations happens to be right between my house and my office.This bank was a mistake.When I set up my account, my paycheck still had my Arkansas address on it since I was still living at StudioPlus when I filled out my payroll paperwork. The guuy at the bank needed something with my Madison address printed on it. I told him I had changed my address at work and so my next paycheck would have my address, which I would bring in on Friday. Good enough. So that Friday, I go in to deposit my check and I tell the teller to please make a copy of it and give it to Tim. Seems easy enough. Apparently not.

Tim calls me on the following Tuesday reminding me that I need to bring in proof of address. I tell him I did that on Friday. He apologizes and says he'll find it. About a week later, he calls again telling me they can't find the copy and that I need to have them make a copy of my next paycheck that I deposit. Fine. Stuff happens. Stuff gets lost. Whatever.So the following Friday was the Bike Fed party, so I didn't make it to the bank to deposit my check. I also didn't make it the following Friday (I get paid weekly) because Beer Friday got out of hand. So I go to the bank on Monday. I prefer to go into the lobby, but the doors are locked. I look at the hours, and this godforsaken place closes the lobby at 5. What the hell? So I go through the drive thru. I am the only car in the drive thru. I tell the lady that I need her to look up my account number and that I need her to make a copy of one of the checks and give it to Tim. She bluntly informs me that I should conduct transactions like this in the lobby. What the hell lady? Your shitty lobby closes at 5! And besides, it's not like there are people waiting. So she says she'll take care of it this time. How gracious.So I thought everything was cool.

But nooo .... On Tuesday, the HR guy comes by and says, "Hey, just a heads up, Park Bank called to verify your employment." I tell him that's cool. But no, nothing involving Park Bank is cool. Yesterday I went to a bike shop to get some parts swapped from one wheel to another wheel. The charge was five bucks. So I give him my debit card, and it's DECLINED. Maybe it's just a freak deal. So I go to get gas and guess what? DECLINED. So I come home and sign on to my account and they've put a hold on my account! So I call the bank today and the person says they are still waiting for verification of my address! I resisted the urge to tell this person how fucking ridiculous this is. I ask to speak with Tim, who put the hold on my account, but he wasn't available.

Park Bank has succeeding in offering the crappiest, most inconvenient banking experience possible. I'm having trouble understanding how they can suck so much. They've proven their inability to handle anything well by failing to get this copy in the right hands not once, but twice. They know I'm a real person and not just some transient since they called to check my employment. And regardless, it's my money! It's not like I'm wanting a loan or anything. I can't believe they're punishing me for their sheer lack of competence. They are clearly not capable of handling my three hundred dollars and I will let them know this by taking my three hundred dollars elsewhere. That'll show em.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Welcome To MadCity.

I’d like to think that some of you out there are wondering how the big move went. I’d like to be able to say that everything went according to plan. However, as I stumble through life, it becomes increasingly apparent that things do not, as a general rule, go according to plan for me. On with the story … from the top:

The pre-moving days went pretty much as one would expect. I packed, put stuff in the u-Haul, and got to hang with some cool friends one last time. Helen and I left town Thursday evening, stopped in Springfield to see my uncle, and arrived in St. Louis in the middle of the night. After a brief stay with our friend Hux, we continued on our way Friday morning. We arrived in Madison, as planned, at around 6pm on Friday. This is where plans changed.

Okay, so I took a gamble. I found a place online. I spent about a week online searching various websites and communicating via e-mail with potential roommates. It was a hassle. Most of these people wanted security deposits, leases, references, interviews and stuff like that. I realize these are common practices, but still, it was a hassle. So then I find this dude whose ad specifically stated "no hassle." A flat six bills a month, everything included. I e-mail back and forth with the guy a couple times. He tells me it’s several male grad students sharing the house. He says women have lived there with no problems. They’re all laid back and friendly and all that stuff. He describes the house as nice, clean, and spacious. This house was also only a mile from work. It really did sound like a pretty good deal. And besides, if I didn’t like it, I could just move out after a month, since there was no lease. In retrospect, I really should have asked more questions.

During the trip, I started realizing that maybe I should have researched this a little more. So I was pretty nervous and hoping my new home wouldn’t suck. So we pull up to the house at 6pm on Friday. Dude comes walking down the driveway. The first thing out of my mouth was "Uh … he’s old and looks like a douchebag." Helen says we should have just driven away right then. But we didn’t. Dave (from here on out, we’ll be referring to him as The Sex Offender because that’s what he reminds me of) takes us in to show us the place. And he is indeed a douchebag. The first thing I noticed about the place is that it smelled and looked like a place where someone’s crazy old aunt might live with her two poodles that died a long time ago but she had them stuffed by her nephew/roommate who is an amateur taxidermist on parole for aggravated assault with a lawnmower blade. The Sex Offender walks into what is obviously the living room (but it’s empty) and says, "This is your room." I thought he was joking. But he wasn’t. Then he shows us the rest of the house. At this point, I’ve gone into shock and I don’t know what to do. So then we start unloading my stuff and I want to cry. There are no grad students here. This house is not nice. This house is not clean. This house is not spacious. This guy is WEIRD and CREEPY. The Sex Offender ordered two of the roommates to help unload, so that got done pretty quickly. So then Helen and I leave to go eat. We are freaking out. Helen is betting that there are no churches or schools within a mile of this place, otherwise they wouldn’t let the guy live there. We find the nearest Starbucks so we can have Internet access to find another place to live. We calm down a little and go back to the house to get my stuff. No way in hell are we staying there. I tell Sex Offender my made up excuse. I tell him that my dad didn’t know I was staying in a house with a bunch of dudes and that he is really mad and says I can’t stay there. Sex Offender isn’t happy, but doesn’t put up a fight. One of the roommates helps us load the stuff back up. We think he seems like a normal person. He starts talking to us and telling us he hates it there and that it’s weird and depressing. We decide to try to rescue him. Helen tells him we’re going to look at a place that has two rooms available (Helen has been on the phone most of the night talking to potential roommates). We give him our number and leave.

We find a Holiday Inn Express and decide to stay there. As we’re checking in, the normal guy from the house (from here on, we refer to him as The Failure, you’ll see why) calls. Actually, it wasn’t the Failure himself, but a friend. She says he doesn’t have his phone and so he’s on Instant Messenger with her telling her what to say. So she’s relaying this conversation and it’s just like I’m talking to my parents on the phone. For those who either don’t know or have forgotten, my parents are both deaf, so they have to use a relay service to make phone calls. The Failure wants us to come get him since his car is out of commission from a recent accident. Helen and I decide that the guy could be a huge loser, but he’s not creepy, so he deserves a chance. Also, we are too nice. We pick up The Failure and head toward downtown to look at this guy’s flat with two rooms available. The place is really cool and so is the guy who lives there. Since it’s Friday night and all, he has friends over. So he shows us around, we have some drinks, and we go on our merry way. Helen and I want to walk around downtown and we want to go to the Great Dane Pub. The Failure says he knows how to get to the Great Dane. We walked for what seemed like miles and then we realize that the Failure doesn’t actually know where he’s going. So we ask some people and they tell us where it is, which happens to be very close to where we started, which is now very far away. We are unhappy about this. So we finally get to the Great Dane and we’re happy that they are still serving food. We’re showing the bouncer our ID’s when The Failure tells us he doesn’t have his. Helen and I are hungry, tired, and somewhat pissed off. We have realized that this guy is living in the Sex Offender’s house still because he’s obviously too stupid to help himself get out of a shitty situation. I mean, this guy was industrial-strength stupid. He is clearly destined to be a failure at life, hence the nickname. So we get some food at Burger King and then we drop The Failure off at the Sex Offender’s house. We get back to our hotel and promptly pass out.

The next morning we wake up and start trying to come up with a plan of action. My first thought, upon waking, was "Fuck this. I’m going back to Arkansas." Then I decide that The Failure would do something like that. So I booked myself a week at an extended stay hotel, which pissed me off because it’s not cheap. I called the u-Haul place and ascertained that they did have storage available. Sweet. We had a plan. We would go to the u-Haul place and put my stuff in storage and return the trailer. We would eat lunch and then head to Chicago so Helen could make her flight home. We wouldn’t have time to go to Ikea like we had originally planned, but I was okay with that. We get in the truck and we’re ready to go. When we got to the hotel the night before, parking was limited, so I had pulled into this space knowing I would have to back out in the morning. Knowing that I am an excellent driver, this had not concerned me in the least. But I had forgotten that this was not a trip where things go smoothly. I start my truck and take my foot off the gas to put it in reverse. The engine stalls. It’s early, it’s kinda chilly, and I try again. Same thing. My truck WON’T IDLE. Now, I’ve had this problem before. Usually I just perform this tricky maneuver where I rev the engine a little and then really quickly take my foot off the gas, put the truck in gear, and put my foot back on the gas before it stalls. Then once I drive it a ways, it’s fine. But try doing this tricky maneuver while backing a trailer. A lesser woman would have had a nervous breakdown. I just cussed a lot. After a lot more cussing, some banging on the steering wheel in frustration, and some encouragement from Helen, I managed to get out of the parking lot and on the road. We get to the u-Haul place and the guys there are the nicest people you could ever expect to deal with at a u-Haul place. Then the guy tells me that since I had used the reservation system to get the trailer, I was entitled to get my first month of storage for FREE instead of having to pay $80. I wanted to hug that man. I told him this was the first thing that had gone well on this trip. I literally start tearing up. The rest of the process was pretty painless. We got my stuff put in the FREE storage unit, returned the trailer, and headed out of town. We got to Chicago with no major hurdles except when we got lost trying to find the Phillips 66 station we saw from the highway. I dropped Helen off at the airport and headed back to Madison knowing that if anything else went wrong, I would for sure have a nervous breakdown without her there.

I made it to my hotel, no thanks to the receptionist who had her head up her ass. I called for directions and she couldn’t really tell me. She was basically like "I don’t know." So I had to stop at Starbucks and MapQuest it. Then I got here and guess who was behind the desk! I told her I had a reservation, but she couldn’t find it. I told her I just made the reservation that morning. She stared at me with a vacant expression normally associated with fish. I gave her my confirmation number. She finally figured it out. She moved at the speed of a brontosaurus and clearly had to put in some effort to construct coherent sentences. When I got to my room, I checked my e-mail and passed out from the sheer exhaustion that results from having narrowly escaped the Sex Offender, having put up with and subsequently ditched The Failure, and having to deal with other fun little "obstacles."

Welcome to Madison.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Revenue Office ... Yay!

The last time I renewed my driver's license, I was in Oklahoma and it was before they switched to the new ones. So for a couple years I've had this ID that you could swear was made in someone's basement. I'd had it a couple years, so it was starting to look even worse. So I decided to go get a new license.

I'm one of those people whose whole perception of life has been heavily influenced by TV. I actually believe infomercials and I have been known to get up immediately after a Sonic commercial to go get a cheeseburger. So this seems odd coming from me, but I really thought they were exaggerating when they showed people at the DMV or the Revenue Office on TV. They always show these terribly sad places where lines don't move and people never smile. I thought, "Surely it's not that bad."

I was SO wrong. I went to the Springdale Revenue Office, which is in a crappy little shopping center on 412. Walking in, I was greeted by one of those machines where you take a number. This machine had clearly seen years of faithful service, telling thousands of people "You're going to be here awhile and we don't really care." The panels covering the flourescent lights were dingy and some of them were home to various insects. In the rows of chairs sat the best of Springdale. Most of them sat hunched over, resigned to their fate of treading through an unavoidably tedious process for something as simple as a car tag. I think I actually saw cobwebs on some of them; though based on their apparently cavalier approach to hygiene, I'm not certain they didn't bring those in with them.

I was instantly dismayed upon seeing the number machine. Then after surveying the situation a little more, I saw the "express line" for renewals and for ID's. Score! But there were seven people already in the "express line." Regardless, it had to be a better option than the godforsaken number machine. After standing in the "express line" for almost half an hour, I realized that it wasn't actually any faster than the take-a-number approach. Once again, I had been fooled by the system. At least those who had opted for a number got to sit down.

Finally, I made it to the front of the "express line." Without really looking at the lady, I hand her my old ID and my passport and my $20 and I tell her I need an Arkansas driver's license. Then I looked at her and had one of those moments where I hoped my sudden displeasure had not registered on my face. I know, I know, the words "displeasure" and "revenue office" pretty much go together, but I was taken aback at her eyes. She had googly eyes! If you're not familiar with googly eyes then a) where the hell have you been? and b) see the artist's rendering at the top of this post.

I don't care who you are, googly eyes will catch you off guard and at least some degree of shock will come across you. I find it extremely difficult to take anyone with googly eyes seriously. Do they know they have googly eyes?

Anyway, as if that weren't enough, she was kind enough to provide a running commentary on the entire process. Also, she apparently had not yet grasped the concept of compound sentences. It went something like this:

COOKIE MONSTER: Oklahoma ... expires February 2007.
ME: Sure does.
COOKIE MONSTER: Passport ... expires May 2009.
ME: Sounds right.
COOKIE MONSTER: Went to El Salvador.
ME: That is correct.
COOKIE MONSTER: Got blonde hair. Wear corrective lenses. Born in '83.
ME: Yeah.
COOKIE MONSTER: Lived on Birkenhead. Middle name is Marie. Birthday in January. You're an organ donor.
ME: Yeah ... I know.
COOKIE MONSTER: I'll fill out this information here. I'll put this stamp here. I'll tear on this dotted line. Sign right here.
ME (under my breath as I sign): You gotta be kidding me.
COOKIE MONSTER: Sit down right there. Gonna take your picture here. Gonna focus the camera. Okay, took your picture. Gonna push this little button. I'll put this piece onto this other piece. I have googly eyes. (she didn't really say that last part)

After she finished with the play-by-play on making my new license, I gave the number machine one last scornful look and hightailed it out of there. I had to get far away fast from the most effective reminder yet that hell is probably just a huge waiting room where your number never gets called.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fear of Facebook

As some of you have probably noticed, I have recently joined the Facebook world. For those of you who don't know about Facebook, let me just give you this description directly from Facebook: "People with a valid e-mail address from a supported high school, college, or company can register for Facebook and create a profile to share information, photos, and interests with their friends."

Seems harmless. Actually, seems useful, and in some ways, it is. I probably won't have to go to my 10-year high school reunion since I can just see what everyone is doing on Facebook. On the other hand, Facebook has created much unforseen social anxiety for me. I start finding people I know and then I see that "Jon Jon has 497 friends." Then I start to get a little concerned. I look at my puny little list of friends. Granted, it's a damn good list of people, but what if people think I'm a loser because I don't have eleven thousand Facebook friends? Then, what if people laugh at me for being friends with certain people? No, Leah, it's not you.

So then I start the quest to get more Facebook friends. What are the guidelines for Facebook friends? What qualifies someone to be your friend? Obviously the people I would consider friends in real life qualify. Even people I only consider aquaintances qualify, for the most part. People I was friends with in high school, they qualify. Even Trey Featherly, who was my boyfriend in Kindergarten and later took all my Pogs in 7th grade qualifies (I want my Pogs back, you bastard). But then what? What if I went to high school with someone, but we weren't really friends? Or what if I don't really know someone, but I've met them because they are friends with one of my friends? Or what if I had a class with someone and maybe borrowed his or her notes once, but that's the extent of our relationship? Do they qualify? Will they chuckle condescendingly at me for being foolish enough to think they would be my Facebook Friend? So then as if I don't fear rejection enough in real life, here I am fearing ... get this, it's pretty lame ... Facebook rejection.

Just when I sit back and really think about this and really start to get worried that I'll get voted "Biggest Facebook Loser" at my high school reunion (man I hope I'm cool by then), I have a revelation. I think to myself, "Who gives a damn?" I also have a new slogan for Facebook.

Facebook ... the online pissing contest.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Which fruit is that?

I really like the Fruit of the Loom commercials that have been on lately. I especially like the country music one.

There's only one thing that bothers me: what the hell is the guy on the far right supposed to be?
I don't know of any fruit that looks like that. If I did, I probably wouldn't eat it.