Donuts and milkshakes and (maybe) Italian food, oh my!

It is John’s birthday!  For Birthday Breakfast, I brought home Dunkin Donuts AND Starbucks because I am a devoted wife, and also because I can easily pass by both places on my way home from running, but definitely more because I am a devoted wife.

Dunkin Donuts has renamed all of their donuts for Halloween, and I am totally here for that.  I got the Wicked Chocolate for John and the Boston Scream for me.  I was tempted by the Ghoulish Glazed, but I saved my extra sweet calories for my ridiculous Starbucks coffee.  John also went ridiculous for coffee today – I got him a white chocolate frappucino, which was made even more of a milkshake than usual because I think they forgot to put any coffee in it.  Milkshakes and donuts for Birthday Breakfast!

Birthday lunch was brilliant blissful buttery birthday banana bread, although that was a near no-show last night.  I got all the ingredients out, realized I didn’t have brown sugar, threw a tantrum inside my head because I REALLY didn’t want to go to the store for the 39th time this week, and figured out that we barely had enough normal sugar to make it work as long as we didn’t need it for tea or coffee today AND (pause while I breathe) I knew we wouldn’t need it because I had the Birthday Breakfast plans all figured out.

Dinner tonight is still TBD, since John is still working, but we’re thinking some Italian place in Federal Hill.  Or, if he works too much later, we’ll abandon the silly idea of going outside (which, let’s face it, is crazy talk), order in something delicious and stupid, and try again tomorrow night.  WE’LL SEE.

Definitely not talking about work. Nope, no sir.

Someone I work with is thinking about moving and asked me about working from home.  She’s done it for a day here and there over the years, but now she wants to move out of state.  She was wondering if it was hard to get answers from people or if I went nuts if I didn’t get out of the house every day or if I ever regret not coming in to the office and seeing everyone.

After I stopped laughing at that last part, I could truthfully say that the only issues I have with work are about the work sometimes, not the working from home.  And for the record, it’s no harder to get answers from people than it is in the office when they disappear from their desks and you can’t find them, and I mostly DO get out of the house every day, so that’s not an issue, either.  It’s really helpful to be able to walk away from the computer sometimes – I needed a lunchtime walk outside to recover from some of the things that happened this morning.  It’s all fine, all taken care of, and it had nothing to do with where I was, which is nice to know.  I mean, it sucks that the same annoying thing would have happened no matter what, but it’s also reassuring to know that I would have gotten the same response face to face.  I’m not being treated differently because I’m not in the office.  John wasn’t able to say the same thing about his last job.

Pesky pedestrian pickles

The most recent two pictures on my phone right now are of pickle jars.  I accidentally bought sweet bread and butter pickles the other day, but I didn’t realize it until I took a bite of one at lunch today.  I don’t hate them, but I MUCH prefer dill pickles, and when you’re expecting to taste dill and you get whatever that sweet taste is instead?  SUPER disappointing.  (My Twitter world agrees.)  So I went back to the store today, the third day in a row, but not for that.  Well, not only for that.  Friday is John’s birthday, so I needed wrapping paper, a card, and, most importantly, a Carvel ice cream cake.  He LOVES Carvel ice cream cakes, so I’m off the hook for baking every year.

I also bought bread and pickles.  Dill pickles.  Aaaannd that’s my new secret agent name.

Speaking of baking, I have two overripe bananas, so during one of my 16 trips to the store this week, I picked up flour and baking soda, and now I need to make banana bread.  Maybe I can convince John it’s birthday banana bread.  Buttery birthday banana bread.  Blissful buttery birthday banana bread.  Brilliant blissful buttery birthday banana bread.

Owning a cat

I made John watch the videos of The Bloggess putting her cats in this astronaut backpack thingy, and he was like, “Isn’t that kind of cruel, to force them into the backpack?”, and I was like, “Dude, that’s what you do when you have a cat.  You dress it up in clothes, you drape it around your neck like a stole, you sit it in your lap and pretend it’s a drummer, you laugh when it sits in the kitchen chair and looks like it’s ready to eat dinner with you, and you hope it doesn’t claw you when you try to scratch its tummy.”  That’s cat ownership in a nutshell.

There are too many things to learn

I want to do too much.  We went to see Against Me! – I came home wishing I still had my drumset so I could practice.  We went to see Colin Hay – I spent the evening planning to come home and play my ukulele.  I saw a poster for a dance school – I want to find adult tap classes.  We saw horses over the weekend – I want to find a new barn to pick up my lessons.  I want to learn French.  I want to learn Welsh.  I want to learn sign language.  I want to take piano lessons.

I’m a little overwhelmed by the number of things I want to do, so I retreat into reading.  That’s easy.  I already have books.

Another concert surprise!

John is lucking out this year for his birthday.  How likely is it that this many bands he likes are nearby right now?  AND, lucky for me and our budget, these are bands it’s cheap to see, not like giant rock bands who sell out stadiums and whose cheap tickets are $100 each.  We’re going to see Colin Hay (for the second time) tonight, again as a surprise for him.  (It’s not exactly a hardship for me – I really enjoyed it last time.)  The show is in a town south of Boston, so it’ll be a little easier to get to, and the vibe is going to be COMPLETELY different.  For one, it’s in a theater, not a club.  Second, we’ll have seats that we’ll actually be sitting in, and third, the crowd is likely to be a lot older.  More sedate.  Not that the crowd for Against Me! was young, exactly, but I do expect the number of piercings and mohawks to be lower.  And probably no shouting.  And I think moshing is highly unlikely.  But you never know!

I wanna rock and roll all night and part of every day

This is not how weather is supposed to work, Providence.

Weekends are for sunny days so we can enjoy them!  Get it together, RI!

In other news, the concert last night was a LOT of fun.  Against Me! was fantastic, and I would see them again any day.  They need to choose better opening acts, but oh well.  It was a small club, and it wasn’t packed, but most of the audience were serious fans who pushed in close and sang every word.  (I only knew a couple of songs that well, but give me time.)  I like being packed in with a ton of people all focused on the stage, all singing together, but we ditched the crowded floor after a few too many close encounters with moshing idiots.  Who knew punk fans would ignore the big NO MOSHING signs?  Silly me for assuming they’d be rule followers.  The balcony was much safer but it had zero energy.  I brought my own, of course, and they played my favorite song, and hey – it took us less than an hour to get home in the middle of the night.  We were totally exhausted this morning, naturally.  I was actually dizzy for a few seconds when I got up, but an early bedtime tonight ought to fix that.  We are party animals, yes we are.

The revolution was a lie

Tonight, we will test just how convenient it is for us to live approximately an hour from Boston. And we will test if we’re really approximately an hour from Boston.  I’m willing to bet we’re not, at least not around 4:30/5pm on a weekday.  But still!  We should get there quicker than we were able to get to Portland.

Why are we going to Boston on a Wednesday night?  It’s a surprise!  But it’s a surprise for John, not you, and by the time I publish this, he’ll already know why we’re going, so it’s safe to tell you.  I mean, he knows we’re going to Boston tonight already.  It’s not THAT much of a surprise.

I’m pretty confident he’ll be happy when he figures out who we’re going to see.  Sort of an early birthday present, I guess.

It’s not you, it’s me. Except it’s totally you.

I’m in a bad book mood again, and (again) I can’t decide if it’s me or the books.  On Saturday, I finished A Taste of Marrow, a novella, the sequel to the hippo cowboy novella I read and loved a few months ago.  Still happy with those books.  So then I started Mariana, a recommendation from Chastity.  It’s sort of a cross between Anya Seton and Rosamunde Pilcher, and I enjoyed it enough (I wasn’t sure I liked it, but then I kept asking John to delay dinner so I could read more of it, so I suppose I did like it.  The very end cheated, though.)  I finished Mariana Sunday night, so it was time to pick my next book.  And that’s when the problem started.

Book 1: John Dies At The End.  This is a book I should like.  Normal (okay, “normal”) guys fighting monsters, saving people, lots of action, lots of humor…no.  It felt like it was trying too hard, the humor felt slapsticky, and I didn’t want to put forth the effort to stay interested.  They made it into a movie, and I can see how it would be a fun movie, so maybe I’ll watch it first (keep your shock to yourself) and then decide if I want to go back and read it.  Maybe it’s me.

Book 2: The Palace Job. I don’t feel so bad about putting this one down.  It’s a heist novel, and I like those, but no.  The writing sucks.  Definitely not me.

Book 3: A Handful of Stars. After giving up on two books in the space of one hour, I figured I’d pick something safe.  This is the sequel to Second Star, a book I liked, so this should be a no-brainer, right?  And yet…no.  I haven’t put it down yet, but it’s not working for me.  Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since I read the first one (I read it nearly two years ago), but I feel like I’m being asked too much as a reader.  It’s either that, or there really are gaps here.  So we’re in space, which of course is fine, since the first book was about the population of a space station declaring their independence, and this book starts with a mission to an asteroid belt to start a mining operation, and oh wait – our main character went on this expedition eight months pregnant?  With twins?  And just as she’s about to give birth (early), her mother shows up out of nowhere, no warning, with main character’s 10-year-old child that her mother created from a donor egg and didn’t tell her about, and she just goes with it?  No fights?  No discussions?  And the 10-year-old is cool with meeting his mother like that?  And her husband is totally cool with it all because he’s perfect, naturally.  And she goes running around a lawless mining asteroid with her infant twins strapped to her a month after the birth.  Of course.  And I have to assume she (main character) isn’t upset about any of this because the story is told from her point of view and I’m in her head and she’s not thinking about it aside from some initial confusion…well, this is ridiculous.

Yeah, I think I just talked myself out of this one, too.  And maybe it’s NOT me.  I am going to fix this by reading short stories by Robin McKinley.  If I don’t like those, it’s definitely me, but I’m not worried.  Really.  I’m not.  It’ll be fine.

Focus Shmocus

Neither of us felt great this weekend, but we picked a good weekend for it since it was mostly overcast and rainy.  We’re better today, kind of.  It probably didn’t help that we got caught out in it yesterday.  We walked to the nearest grocery store to pick up a few essentials (and breakfast), thinking we’d detour a little to Starbucks on the way home.  The rain wasn’t supposed to start until closer to noon, so naturally, since we were walking, it started early.  It was just sprinkling when we left the grocery store, but it was raining outright two blocks later.  It wasn’t all that unpleasant.  It was a nice change to be out in warm rain.  In Oregon, it only rains when it’s cold out.  And luckily for us, the downpour didn’t start until we got home (barely).  We had to dry all the groceries as we put them away, which was weird, but then we decided we weren’t going to do anything else.  We watched all six episodes of the second season of Happy Valley (NOT a happy show), and I finished my book, and that was it.  Weekend over.  I sat in one chair for about eight hours.

I no longer get Columbus Day off, so today is a workday. Kind of a weird one, since plenty of people took the day off anyway.  Hard to focus.

The Good Place

I can’t remember if I talked about The Good Place when we watched the first season (which I think was just earlier this year), but it’s a half-hour show on Hulu starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, and it’s SO GREAT.  We’ve been watching the first season over again this past week because I was sick and the show makes me happy.  Second season is starting soon, if it hasn’t already.

Love it!  Go!  Watch and love it with me!

I can breathe again

I feel so much better today!  Also, apparently I have named blog posts “So much better” twice already, so I will not name this one that.  I took most of Wednesday off from work to lay on the loveseat and read (I finished one book, started and finished a second, and started a third), had a ridiculously bad night for sleeping that night (congested, coughing, hot, cold, uncomfortable), suffered through work on Thursday, slept on the loveseat last night (I propped myself up in a corner and didn’t have to worry about keeping John up), and went for a run when I woke up this morning because I could breathe!  Mostly.  Enough.  No extra cold medicine needed today, and the only thing I’m fighting is a headache.  And a desire to not work anymore, but that’s every day.

Low energy

This past weekend was nice and relaxing (we went to visit my friend Chastity), but we came back to real fall weather, and apparently, I’m allergic to fall in Providence.  Yesterday was Sore Throat Day, and today is Congestion Day with a special appearance by Do I Have a Fever? I Might Have A Mild Fever (I Probably Don’t Have A Mild Fever).

My point is that I’m tired and being a whiny baby about it.  I’m not very much fun right now.

Les Mis! Again! And alone!

I just saw Les Mis for the 7th or 8th time, and it’s bothering me that I can’t remember if I’ve seen it 7 or 8 times.  Family?  Can you help me out here?

  • I saw it twice before college, both times in Louisville.  One of those times Mario and Dennis came with us.
  • I saw it once in college with John, which was the first time he saw it.
  • I saw it once at Wolf Trap with John, in 2008, the second time for him and so far the last for him.
  • I saw it at the Kennedy Center with Mel, Jess, Margaret, and Amanda in 2011.
  • I saw it at the Warner Theatre with Brynn (former coworker) in 2012.  I think it was 2012.
  • I just saw it last night in Providence ALL BY MYSELF.* More on that in a bit.

That’s seven times, but I feel like I’m missing one.  An early one.  And I can’t believe it’s been five years since I saw it last (although it was more like nine years between the two times I saw it with John).

Hm.  Maybe it’s another DC one.  Did I see it once with Adam and Simone?  At the National Theatre?  That’s ringing a bell, actually.

So, yeah, I went alone for two very good reasons.  No, three.

  1. John’s not a fan.  He would certainly come with me, but I don’t see the point of buying him a ticket so he can accompany me to something he won’t enjoy, when he’s only going so I don’t have to go alone (which is a lovely reason), and since I know he won’t like it, it takes my enjoyment down a notch.  A teensy notch, but a notch.  Anyone else would have had to travel, and while that would have been fun (it has been in the past), see points 2 and 3.
  2. It’s kinda fun to go to things by myself.  Other people (other people I like, I should say) are hardly a burden (I can’t say the same about people I don’t like, obvs), but sometimes it’s nice to do whatever I want to do, however I want to do it, without worrying about whoever is with me.
  3. I GOT THE GREATEST SEAT EVER because I was only buying ONE ticket.  It was one seat, by itself, front row, six seats off the center aisle.  If I’d been looking for two tickets, I would have been way off to the side and further back or WAY further back.

I have NEVER had this good of a seat to see Les Mis, and it was AWESOME.  No kidding, I was so close it felt almost like a private performance, and this performance was SO GOOD.  This was the first stop of this season’s national tour.  The schedule is here.  You should go.

I miss the revolving stage, though.

I decided not to say anything

I was going to comment on how the mugginess of late summer/early fall here in a house without air conditioning means that gear that gets sweaty and, like, towels don’t always feel completely dry after 24 hours, but I decided that it would sound like I’m complaining, and I’m not, so I won’t.

I was going to say something about how our bedroom is set up in a weird way so that our bed either goes under windows, leaving no room for a dresser (not if we want to be able to open the drawers) or against a wall between two doors, leaving no room for bedside tables so there’s no place for reading lights or glasses of water or even our phones except to put them on the floor, but really that’s an opportunity for us to go find a headboard that has a shelf on it, which we’ve wanted for a long time, so it’s not even a complaint and it’s not worth mentioning.

I was going to mention that I’m not crazy about working until 5pm again – what happened to my afternoons? – but it’s the end of the government fiscal year right now and everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, so long (or at least normal) hours are to be expected, and then I remembered that starting work at 9 instead of 6 means I can exercise in the morning again, which I LOVE, so this is a schedule change I can live with.  Especially since I think I can shift back to earlier hours (maybe 7 to 3?) once it starts getting dark and cold in the early mornings, and then I’ll prefer to run later anyway, so it all works out, and I don’t see the point of bringing it up.

I guess I don’t have anything to say.

Last century

I met John 20 years ago today, thanks entirely to Erik, who invited lowly freshman me to join his pack of 6 or 8 friends for a movie in Arlington.  (Thanks, Erik!)  And it’s only thanks to John, who kept his ticket stub, that we know the exact date.  (Thanks, John!)

What movie?  The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman.  Not a memorable movie, barely a memorable night (I remember John’s hat, I remember everyone waiting for the metro, I might remember one scene from the movie – something to do with a missile on the road in the mountains?), but it had lasting consequences, thank goodness.

Tonight, we’re going out to dinner (I don’t think George Clooney or Nicole Kidman have a movie in the theater right now), where we will try not to feel too old.

Hee

The other morning I stopped to watch some rowers on the Seekonk River.  There was an 8-person shell out there, moving relatively slowly, while some guy, I presume the coach, was standing in a nearby launch, shouting at them through a bullhorn.  I couldn’t make out most of what he was saying, but it appears he enunciates more when he’s irritated.

“Mwah mwah mwah mwah except for Josh. LOOK AT ME, JOSH.  Mwah mwah mwah.”

A few minutes later, the launch went back to the boathouse and then came back out escorting another 8-person shell.

“Mwah-mwah-mwah wah.  Then Warwick will pick it up. WARWICK! DON’T STOP. Mwah mwah.”
I’m glad I’m not  Josh or Warwick.

Feeling at home

Mom bought me this book called This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, and it’s about someone who moves a lot and her attempts to feel at home in those places, either to make the stay more pleasant or to find that place that feels like home so the moving can stop.

I can’t help but feel Mom is trying to tell me something.  🙂

Anyway, early on, the author makes a list of things one should do to be active about feeling at home in the place you are, and as I read down the list, I was able to check off 8 out of the 10 things.

  1. Walk more.
  2. Buy local.
  3. Get to know my neighbors.
  4. Do fun stuff.
  5. Explore nature.
  6. Volunteer.
  7. Eat local.
  8. Become more political.
  9. Create something new.
  10. Stay loyal through hard times.

I did those things in Eugene, and I started many of them the first week we were there.  Those things were not enough to make me feel like Eugene was the place for me.  I did at least half of those things in Annapolis – again, not enough to make me feel like Annapolis was the place.  So either I’m difficult and really picky (possible, but I don’t think I’m that special) or those things aren’t enough.

I think it’s just about time spent in the same place.  We were ready to leave Ashburn for several years before we finally did, but it felt like home.  It still feels like home, sometimes, but it ought to after 10 years.  I don’t think having a place feel like home and feeling like you don’t belong there are mutually exclusive.

I spent most of the book disagreeing with the author and wondering why she was dumbing down the written version of herself.  Maybe it was supposed to make her relatable, but I found it irritating.  Those “insights” are obvious.

At the beginning, she talks about being excited to move to a new place right up until she gets there and then almost immediately feeling like it’s wrong.  I don’t feel that way – I keep the excitement of the new place for quite some time, I think, and I gotta say, I’m feeling pretty good about Providence.  Of course, I felt pretty good about Eugene, too, but I don’t think I ever really thought Eugene was going to be it.  For me, Eugene was always a fun experiment, but I didn’t expect to want to stay there (Eugene, or Oregon, or the west coast in general).  Maybe that’s why I didn’t, at least partially, but I don’t know.

I can understand the author’s urge to write this book, but I haven’t had any sleepless nights worrying about whether I’ll ever find THE PLACE.  I’m confident I can be happy in any place (and I’m certainly not miserable in the places we go or have been), but for now, I’m not ready to settle down.  That does not make me unhappy.

Watch me be all zen and stuff

The sky has been dropping quiet sheets of rain on us for the last hour or so.  It’s very soothing.  And yes, I know I just came from the Pacific Northwest, and I know I should be tired of rain, but it rains differently there.  And I know this rain isn’t the beginning of 7 months of nothing but rain.  And I have trees right outside my windows and they’re turning yellow and there’s a slate blue house across the street with a red-leafed tree in front and it has a stone chimney and behind that there’s a really tall oak tree whose leaves are still green so even though the sky is grey, everything I can see is full of peaceful colors.