Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The De-Chompinator

So now I know why this thing is so expensive. The temptation to take it out and leave it in it's handy case is hooooge. But you don't spend this kind of money on something and then not use it. The price isn't for the materials or expertise it takes to make it. It's a deterrent.

The very nice technician ground away at the acrylic in the areas that were crowding my tongue and making me feel gaggy. Several times until she couldn't shave away any more and I could bear to have the thing in my mouth.

Although I've known for a while that I was getting a thingy to put in my mouth for a few months, this appears to be news to my mouth.

The first few hours went thusly:

Thing in my mouth, thing in my mouth, thing in my mouth. Thing in my mouth!

Where do I put my tongue? How about here? No, maybe here. Or over there. Or, gah! How am I not going to gag nonstop for the next 8 weeks?!

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. No, that's just making me more nervous.

This thing tastes terrible. Space-age monomers are not pleasing to the palate.

Thing in my mouth, thing in my mouth, thing in my mouth. Can't take it anymore!

Pop it out.

Gag.

Put it back in.

Gag twice.

Take it out and store in handy hot pink carry case until gag reflex chills the fuck out.

Put it back in.

Maybe a lollipop would help the taste. The thing has got to start tasting like my mouth eventually, right?

I'm not entirely certain that's there's room in this mouth for a lollipop and the de-chompinator.

Sigh.

At least trying to keep the lollipop in my mouth is distracting me from the big plastic thing in my mouth.

Hey, if I put my tongue there, I can pop this thing out of place.

Nien! Behave!

Oh great, when I've partially dislodged it with my tongue, I start to gag.

Pop it out. Put it back in.

Repeat.

Two days later, I can tolerate the thing and it does taste more like my mouth than space-age monomers.

In other news, I have a new post up at ad lag.

Also, I was shocked and horrified to discover that Easter and Passover are next week. Thanks to the migraines, the past couple of years are a blur, but it still feels like Mardi Gras was just last week. Lent just flies by now that I don't give anything up.

While there's still time to order them, I wanted to tell you about these biodegradable reusable easter eggs. Refill them and reuse them all you want and then compost them. I read about them in a magazine and thought there were brilliant.* If things work out with our potential kid, I don't know if we'll hide eggs for her to find next year since she'll be a bit old for that, but maybe we'll buy some and she can hide them and HA & I will hunt for them. I'd definitely be happier using these than the plastic ones that never get put way for next year and keep turning up in the weirdest places.

(*Do I even have to mention that no one is paying me to promote this product to my tens of readers?)

Chomp, Chomp

TeethI'm getting my new dental appliance today, which is super exciting, because it's the first step to not getting migraines all the fucking time. Which would be awesome. Even though it would diminish my super power.*


(*Speaking of which, kudos to PammieJR for someone up with the vaguely dirty-sounding superhero name, The Masticator. I've also been referring to myself as The Chompinator because HA and I have been watching Phineas and Ferb** on Netflix Watch Instantly and evil scientist Doctor Doofenshmirtz relies heavily on the -inator suffix when naming his inventions.)


(**Is that not the catchiest theme song? I don't even mind when it gets stuck in my head. Unlike Zou Bisou Bisou, featured in last weekend's Mad Men episode. That song stopped being amusing two days ago. I'm in serious need of a Zou Bisou Bisou-ectomy.)


Anyhoodles, new dental appliance. I'm a little nervous about the not losing or breaking it thing since it costs way more than my bite plate did back when I had braces, even when you adjust for inflation. Which I'm so not going to do because I really can't manage to care about the cost of a loaf of bread in 1982 or now. There's a bakery on the corner and a break machine in the kitchen, so neener.


Fortunately, I'm an adult who has managed to hold on to her purse, keys, cell phone, Kindle, hat, gloves and scarves for years, so I think I'll be able to avoid the exorbitant replacement fee. I may sew a special pocket into my purse lining to hold the handy plastic carrying case I assume they'll be providing. Also, health insurance actually covers some of the cost and less migraines means I'll be able to work more, so this doodad will be paying for itself several times over. I hope.


Until then, I'll continue to compile my list of people to bite with my super-strength jaws.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Open Letter to the People in the Atrium

#nyc2600 meeting part oneWe have this awesome rule in NYC that requires certain buildings to have public areas. This is very convenient if you need to find a restroom, or someplace to sit for a few minutes before a meeting or job interview. It's awesome if you're homeless because if you're not disruptive, you can hang out someplace safe, warm and dry all day.


But if you're looking for a place to get some work done, say after leaving the office and before yoga, or between a doctor's appointment and meeting friends for dinner, the experience can be mixed.


To the guy to kept trying to talk to me while I was working on my novel WHILE WEARING HEADPHONES:
Dude, I have no interest in talking to you. I'm not here for you to hit on. I know you think that's what all women are for, but you're mistaken. Fuck off.


To the group of people sitting behind me as I try to work on my netbook:
Hold it the fuck down. You are clearly in your 40s. Why are you louder than the high school kids that come here after school? Thanks for yelling to your friends as they walk down the stairs 30 feet away like you're in a high school cafeteria. Thanks for making me have to move and lose my free wifi connection and have to reboot. Thanks for making me overhear conversation that was less intelligent that that of the high school kids that come in here. 


To the smelly guy wandering around talking to himself:
Thanks for sitting down at a table near me. It's been ages since I've had to put Tiger Balm under my nose to mask a stank. I know Grand Central has bathroom attendants making sure people don't bathe themselves in the sink, but they don't have them here. I won't tell. With the new superfast handdryers, you'll be clean and dry in no time.


To the high school kids who come and hang out here after school:
I don't know what school you're coming here from, but you're all so considerate and polite, I wish I could write to you principal and parents and let them know how awesome you are. You do not suck at all, giving me hope for humanity. Now, if you could only give some lessons to the adults to the next table on how to behave in public.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cool Stuff

Cool Thing the First:
These guys have invented a super-green alternative to styrofoam. Not only does it biodegrade, but it's made from mushrooms, and cornhusks, and other inedible byproducts of farming. I read about them in the Oprah magazine. Right now they seem to be providing packaging, but I look forward to being eating out of one of their containers at a salad bar someday.


Cool Thing the Second:
An essay I wrote ran on YourTango.com. Squee! Now that it looks like I'll be teaching Hector the Migraine Fairy who's boss, I look forward to this sort of thing happening more often.


Cool Thing the Third:
I wrote a post for this cool new blog, Ad Lag. They feature clever, well-designed advertisements from around the world. Worth a look if you're into that sort of thing.

I also posted on Skirt! this week about how celebrities are stealing our jobs.Because they totally are.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Knit a Sweater

Knitting is Fun - and Easy Too!
  1. Select pattern.
  2. Get mom to take all my measurements so I can pick the right size to make.
  3. Discover that although I have a big rack, it's in proportion to the rest of me (at least according to the pattern schematics), so I should stop adding extra room in the busts of my sweaters.
  4. Select and order yarn.
  5. Knit a swatch. This is a magic knitting thing that allegedly tells the knitter how big their stitches are, the goal being to get the same size specified in the pattern. Swatches lie, because they are motherfuckers, but they still improve the chances of getting a sweater that fits.
  6. Measure swatch.
  7. Knit a second swatch with larger needles.
  8. Measure swatch.
  9. Nod to self knowingly.
  10. Measure swatches one last time before washing.
  11. Wonder what the hell I was thinking making a second swatch when the first swatch is the right size.
  12. Put swatches in the laundry.
  13. Discover that His Awesomeness has been drying our clothes on High when seeing how misshapen swatches are. (They shrank a little, which shouldn't happen to machine washable yarn.)
  14. Lecture HA on what high heat does to clothes (fades them and wears them out) and make him promise to stick to medium heat.
  15. Knit another swatch.
  16. Have HA wash swatch, but keep it out of dryer (along with hand knit socks and other items). (Note the first: He does the laundry because I can't handle the stress of a crowded laundromat. Now that we've found a much better and less crowded laundromat, I may step up a bit on that front. Note the second: Awesome tip--put everything that doesn't go in the dryer in a mesh bag, so there's no confusion about what goes in the dryer and what doesn't.)
  17. Discover that HA has laid swatch flat to dry on a dish towel.
  18. Sigh with love.
  19. Measure swatch.
  20. Do the math to compensate for the fact that my row gauge doesn't match what's specified in the pattern, and make notes on the pattern where to adjust so the whole thing doesn't end up too long.
  21. Cast on a sleeve.
  22. Knit 2 rows.
  23. Become completely flummoxed 6 stitches into the 3rd row.
  24. Check for pattern errata online, finding none.
  25. Check Ravelry for any comments relating to this pattern, none of which address this confusion.
  26. Try to send Ravelry email to sweater designer and discover that she doesn't have a Ravelry account.
  27. The hell?
  28. Who doesn't have a Ravelry account?
  29. Send Ravelry email to the last 3 people to finish this sweater and post the project on Ravelry, asking them for help.
  30. Discover that the person who asked me to send them a picture of the stand mixer cozy I knitted, did so in 2010. And I still haven't taken the picture, let alone sent it.
  31. Check Ravelry compulsively for an answer.
  32. Hear back from someone and realize that the stitch markers that I've placed to keep me from getting confused as I knit, are, in fact, confusing me.
  33. Knit on.
  34. Realize that I should've started the increase rows 4 rows ago.
  35. Put knitting aside.
  36. Eat a cookie.
  37. Decide that it's just 2 stitches, so it's OK to just skip the first increase row.
  38. Knit on.
  39. Wait, what's the gauge again? Am I losing a whole half an inch by skipping the increase row? Am I gonna get sausage sleeves out of this one little omission?
  40. No, it's 5 stitches to the inch, so the difference is less than half an inch.
  41. But not much less. About a millimeter less than half an inch.
  42. Get the hell over it.
  43. Decide to add an extra increase at the upper arm if necessary, knowing full well that I'll forget all about it when I get to that part.
  44. Decide not to care anyway.
  45. Knit on.
  46. Look at checkmarks next to pattern instructions and discover that I'm not sure if I really did skip that increase, or just did it later.
  47. Decide to measure when I'm getting close to the end of increases so I can stop the sleeve before it gets too long.
  48. Discover a mistake I made in the lace pattern about 10 rows back.
  49. Refuse to care because it's just not that obvious.
  50. Start to feel like this sleeve will never be finished and question the wisdom of knitting a sweater with a lace pattern/texture for my first sweater in ages.
  51. Discover that I'm at the end of the increases and I did do all of them after all and the sleeve is at the right length.
  52. Begin the decreases around the armhole.
  53. Wonder if I've inadequately compensated for the row gauge thing, which would lead to extra fabric around the shoulder, which could look godawful.
  54. Realize that I'll only discover this when I sew the whole thing up and reknitting part of a sleeve isn't the end of the world.
  55. Finish the decreases, discover that the sleeve appears to be the right length, but I have 6 extra stitches, which is more than an inch in width and will keep the sleeve from fitting into the armhole properly.
  56. Check the pattern to confirm that the stitch count in the pattern is correct. It is.
  57. Count the stitches before the decreases to confirm that I had the right number of stitches then. I did.
  58. Toss the whole thing aside until I have the time and emotional wherewithal to rip back part of the sleeve.
  59. Plan on ripping back the sleeve and putting it back on the needles while sitting on a table in a well-lit room to minimize room for error.
  60. Rip back the sleeve and put it back on the needles while sitting on the couch watching a movie.
  61. Knit on, actually counting the stitches after each set of decreases this time.
  62. Examine swatch that HA washed and sent through the dryer on medium. See that it has felted at that "super wash" is a fib. This sweater will never go in the dryer. Whatevs.
  63. Finish first sleeve, with the correct number of stitches this time.
  64. Knit second sleeve with considerably less mistakes and drama. When discovering I made a mistake in the lace, insist that "Only God is perfect," and stop thinking about it.
  65. Realize that blog post is way too long and decide to document the body of the sweater in Part 2.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cooking for One

My friend's wife died very suddenly last weekend and, among other things, now he has to learn how to cook for only one person. Since I was single for so very long, I became a bit of an expert in that subject. I figured since I was going to do a brain dump for his benefit anyway, I might as well post it here so you guys can pick up my helpful hints and possibly leave some of your own in the comments.


I am not being compensated to mention any of the products that I'm about to mention.


The Freezer is Your Friend


You can still cook a big batch of whatever if you're cooking for one. But that doesn't mean you have to spend the rest of the week eating the same thing. Put your soup, stew, casserole, whatever into individual plastic containers (freezer safe), let them cool for a while on the counter and then put them in the fridge overnight. It's OK if they're still a little warm when you put them in the fridge as long as you don't put them next to the dairy.


The next day, put some of the containers in the freezer for the coming weeks. (Cooling the food in the fridge first prevent ice crystals from forming in the food once it's in the freezer, which leads to mushy food.) Keep doing this and you'll have a variety of meals to reheat. It's healthier to put the food on a plate before putting it in the microwave--besides, you deserve nicely presented meal. I prefer to reheat soups and stews on the stovetop, over low heat. This ensures that the solids get heated thoroughly. 


HA and I do this so we have weekday lunches. Also, whenever we make rice, we make as much as the rice cooker can hold and freeze the leftovers in 1c portions so we can just pull it out whenever we need it.


Label the containers before you put them in the freezer. If you wash the containers by hand, you can just cross out what's written on the label and keep writing on it until you run out of room. If you put the containers in the dishwasher, the labels will disintegrate and you'll need a new one every time.


Buy Smaller Cuts of Meat
Those family-sized packages of 10 pork chops? Not for single people. A big roast? See those freezing instructions above. If you have the time to cook something fresh after work, get the smallest package available. If this means 2 pork chops, either make them both and have leftovers, or wrap the second in Press and Seal and freeze it for another time. Press and Seal is the best in my experience for keeping out freezer burn, etc.


Jen's Super Genius Ways of Making Produce Last Longer
When there's only one person in the house, fruits and vegetables tend to go bad faster than you can keep up. Your first line of defense is what I call the Magic Tupperware. Tupperware calls them FridgeSmart. Things last way longer when stored in these things. There are ridges on the bottom so the condensation collects away from the food and there are vents to release some of the condensation as well. They're not cheap, but I've had mine for maybe 10 years now. Possibly longer. They've paid for themselves several times over in reduced food waste.


One person vs. a bunch of bananas usually ends up with half a bunch of black bananas. Once the bananas start to turn, peel them, wrap them in Press and Seal and throw them in the freezer. Then eat as a delicious frozen treat. I just hold the bottom in a cloth napkin while I unwrap and eat. You remove the peel because it will turn black in the fridge or freezer, which looks repulsive, even though the banana itself is fine.


If an apple gets a little too old, peel it, and cut it up. Melt a little butter in a saucepan that has a lid. Add the apple and some sugar. Cover and let cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. It's done when it resembles apple pie filling/compote. This is actually adapted from a recipe for french apple tarts. 


OK, your turn. What are your single person cooking/food storage tips?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Have a Superpower!

Teeth!The latest stop on my quest to get my migraines to fuck off already was a TMJ specialist. The TM joint (which I can't be bothered to spell out) is the hinge of the jaw. Thereabouts.


I clench my tech. This is no surprise. I started doing biofeedback which helped me stop clenching, which oddly made my jaw sore.


Well, ya know how your muscles ache AFTER a workout? This must be like that because I have freakishly overdeveloped jaw muscles. I can exert something like 250 pounds of force with my jaw. Which means that if I bit you, it would't hurt as much as if Superman bit you, but more than if Batman bit you because he doesn't have any actual superpowers. Unlike me.


The doctor said I have the strongest jaw he's ever seen and he's, like, THE guy for this sort of thing, so I'm feeling pretty damn special.


I have extra bone structure under my gums to support all that clenching. They call them buttresses. My mouth is a cathedral of chomping.


I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to use my powers for good or evil. Suggestions for my new superhero/supervillain name are welcome.


There's a plan of treatment and reason for hope. But I keep thinking about how this is the result of my response to years of stress. I kinda want to track down everyone who's ever pissed me off in a situation where I had to take it and then bite them.


Chomp. Chomp.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This Shit Just Got Real

stock78We heard back about one of the kids we applied for in November and between the holidays and administrative mishigoss, we finally have a meeting with the agency and the kid's caregivers about her this week. Whether things work out with this kid or not, this means that holy crap, we're going to be parents.

To someone old enough to start talking like us right away.

Fuuuuuuuuuu, I mean Fooey.

When you start with a baby, you can keep swearing for a while. The sleep deprivation probably increases the profanity usage around the house, but I imagine that you hit a point when you start to feel funny saying "Holy shit" while changing the impressively soiled diaper of an infant in a Winnie the Pooh t-shirt who's looking at you like, "dude, I don't even know, man. I really appreciate you getting those poopies offa me, tho." Which I assume makes it easier to stop cursing around the kids entirely when they're about to start talking and you really don't want their first word to be something you can't write in the baby book.*

(* My first word according to my mother: Cat. My actual first word, which my mother says doesn't count because it's not a real word: meow. I say it's a real word because why else do we keep asking kids what does the cat say? HA's first word was Bottle, which seems pretty advanced.)

Yeah, so I need to stop swearing so much. Not HERE obviously**, but around the apartment. Not that I don't think our child should ever swear. But because they shouldn't do it until they're old enough and legally mine enough that I don't get in trouble for it.

(**I may even increase the blog swearing to make up for the decrease in real world profanity, and also in solidarity with Queen of the Couch, who got major troll shit for pointing out the bullshit inherent in the whole "oh, if a boy hits you in the playground, that just means he likes you" thing. Because if random assholes think I'm unladylike, then that's one thing I can check off my To Do list for the day.)

This isn't the first time I've had to rein in my language. My profanity usage is nowhere near its lifetime high. That would've been in the late 80s/early 90s, when I was in college and listening to a lot of Guns 'n Roses.

I remember the exact moment I realized that maybe I was using the four-letter words just a touch too often. It was at the beginning of my sophomore year of college. I was in my dorm room with my roomie. I picked up my newly purchased for theology class bible (every prof required a different edition--why the hell they couldn't coordinate and use the same edition so we only had to buy one for all our required theology classes was and is still beyond me). I flipped to the back in search of The Book of Revelations for some reason. But this edition included the apocryphal books of the bible, so Revelations wasn't at the very end, like I expected it to be. I expressed my confusion thusly:
What the fucking hell is the matter with this goddamn bible?
My roommate and I looked at each other and I decided that maybe, just maybe, I should tone down the language a touch. That was a bit too much blasphemy, even for me.

And, Internet, I was eighteen at the time. So bitching me out for saying it now, 22 years later isn't going to do either one of us any good. And if, for some wacky reason, anyone comes here (to the digital version of MY HOUSE) to tell me I'm going to hell or something--I'd like to suggest a more productive use of your time. Or, as a Rush Limbaugh-quoting Republican I used to work with said in response to my telling her that some conservative Christians picket pagan/new age bookstores: Some people need to go save a whale.

So the bar has been set at 3 swearwords in the same sentence as the word "bible." Any profanity usage lighter than that just isn't that bad as far as I'm concerned. Right?

(Longtime readers will remember the Google Ads are here for my own amusement because I am amused by things like context-sensitive ads. So please leave a comment if the ad accompanying this post is particularly entertaining or especially biblical or noteworthy.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Waiting for Frankie*


*aka The Window Guy

Written Wednesday:
So a couple of weeks ago, during a migraine-induced couch-fest, there was a Bang-Crash! And then there was a broken window in my living room.

"What the fuck?" I thought and got up to investigate. On the ground outside was a pink hand weight. Down the sidewalk a bit was a man walking a dog, looking at my window and clearly thinking the same thing I was. The best I could guess was that someone threw/dropped the weight out of their window (as one does), it bounced its way down through the branches of the pine tree in front of my window and made enough contact to break the outer glass on my double-paned window, but not the inner glass.

This is an important detail since it's still not fixed and it's been rainy and the lack of rain entering my home may be the only thing standing between me and a shabby rampage. Of course, I could always just stab what's left of the window in that case. It has to be replaced anyway.

On Frankie's first visit, he turned the knob of our BROKEN old-timey doorbell and chose not to knock despite the complete lack of noise caused by the doorbell. So we missed each other.

On Frankie's second visit, he knocked, came in, measured the window and said he'd be back on Wednesday when he was fixing 2 other windows in the building.

Two things about this puzzle me.

1. He's the only window guy our landlord uses. Doesn't he already know the measurements of all the windows?

2. Three broken windows at once? There's a sign in the lobby asking people to stop throwing garbage out of their windows and into the courtyard out back. Are we having a rash of people throwing objects out of windows? Is this a thing now?

The cool thing about renting is that the landlord has to pay for repairs. The extra cool thing about living in a building with a management company is that they hire professionals to do this. The downside is that everything is arranged through the management company. So if I don't hear Frankie at the door, he'll just go away. In a sane world, he'd have my phone number handy and call if I don't answer the door, but we don't live in that world.

This means I can't listen to music (might drown out the knocking), can't take a shower (because those will be the exact 5 minutes he comes, and even if he doesn't, I'll think I hear knocking) and feel like I'm taking a major risk every time I make a phone call. The silence makes everything I do feel so. fucking. somber.

During all this tense waiting, there is NO TRUCK outside. I have no reason to believe that Frankie is even in the building. But the second I jump in the shower, he'll arrive, knock on my door and leave, never to return.

Written Thursday:
I finally decided that he couldn't work because of the rain and no one was going to bother telling me, so I took a shower. I called the management company this morning, who called Frankie who said that he thought the appointment was for today (which, no, but fine)and he'll be here at 1. Which means 1 o'clock is when the silent vigil begins again. At least I was able to bathe first.

The client vigil becomes considerably less silent around 2:30 when construction noises ring out from either down the hall or down the block or both. I look out the window to see Frankie's truck and Frankie carrying what appears to be a couple of windows into the building.

Ten minutes later, Frankie knocks on my door and comes in--without a window. Because, obviously. He takes the old window out, gets the new window from the hallway, installs it and leaves TWELVE minutes after arriving.

Twelve minutes and two weeks after the initial mishap, I now have a shiny new window, so clean that I keep having to check that it's really there. And no, I will not be posting a picture because all it does is show how dirty my other windows are, and it's winter, and it's not like we get enough natural sunlight on this floor for clean windows to make a difference, and I bet your windows are dirty too, so there.