Monday, August 29, 2011

- Post-Vaca Funk

Returning to the Minnie from a 6 day vaca in North Carolina put me in a bit of a lingering funk over the fact that these two places are way far away from each other.  That the people I miss everyday while living here are only part of my actual life a few days a year now.  I mean that is not a new realization, I have had nearly 9 months to come to terms with it, but it still doesn't sting any less.  Especially after such an extreme level of saturation, like this past trip home.  And even though I've been back for a week and a half now...I'm still having a hard time shaking this funky haze of just downright missing people. 

Peeps like my family...
Surrounded by brotards; officially the shortest Steedlet

We haven't even all 5 been in the same place at the same time since Christmas.  There was much eating, talking about fecally-focused topics and not showering and wearing pj's for inordinately long amounts of time together.  Okay well that last part was mostly just me.  Harry Potter was watched, games were played, silly songs were created and sang, accents were spoken in and subsequently butchered, and as always, many Lord of the Rings quotes were applied in modern day situations.  In short...my cup was filled, and I hadn't realized how empty it had gotten. 

The main reason I went home was for my Grandfather's 90th birthday.  90 years - can you imagine?  And he's spent the majority of it married to the love of his life. The family made tee shirts for the event and I have spent almost every night sleeping in that shirt because I just like the reminder..even if the the P of Pawpaw was drawn into a B with permanent marker to correct a printing mistake and make it read Bawpaw.  True to Bawpaw form - it was his birthday, but there he was giving me my graduation present.  A necklace that has become so much of one of my favorites that I keep on my bedside table with other special trinkets...alwasy in sight. 

Then there's this little bug:
Hi!  I'm adorable!

G Baby is 6 months old and I have seen him three times since he was born.  That kills me.  I want him to know me and know that he loves me and think that I'm awesome - because I have loved him since I knew he was there.  Luckily, he seems to kind of instantly like me - obviously a good judge of character.  I got to see him more on this trip than any other and every hair pull, scarf chew and baby cuddle was pure magic.  I need a lot more of this little guy in my life.
The only photographic evidence that we have ever been in the same place at the same time.  

And don't even get me started on his parents.  One of the best nights I've had this year was drinking margaritas and sitting out in their driveway laughing about nonsense and watching Matteo fall over in his chair.  Jaclyn and I got to spend lots of bff time together at the spa and on my last day in town we met for lunch.  Which was awesome, yet frustrating because it would be such a great thing to do regularly except for the fact that we don't work in the same city or even state.  Geography can be a downright cruel bitch. 

Karen flew in this past weekend and I was hoping her visit would push me out of this funk but I think it might just prolong it for a bit.  Which is really just silly because I'll be in NC in September, October and December - I'm barely gone in between trips long enough to appropriately miss it.  And the thing is I've done a really great job at creating an awesome new life here in Minnesoooooooota (you betcha!) and I really do love it here...but some days it all falls apart a little bit and I still feel inbetween.  The simple truth is some days I would just like to be there instead of here

Even if there does have hurricanes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

- The One Upper

We all know someone like this:

Whatever you did, they did it better.  And more times.  Imagine spending two consecutive 8 hour days with someone like this.  Someone who has already done all the science and saved all the money and innovated all of the things.

Whatever you did that you think is cool - isn't.  Whenever you did something, this person did it 30 years before you.  If you got married, this person's daughter got married better than you ever thought about getting married.  If you walked down the hallway, you didn't do it right.  And if you had an idea, it's crap because this person thought of it 20 years ago and hasn't had time to think of it since because they've been thinking about other way more important things.  Throughout this person's life everyone has told them how great they are and if you don't believe them they will tell you a story about how people have told them how great they are.

To put it lightly, I reach a certain saturation point with the One Upper.   A point where if I don't get myself out of that situation some serious shit is going to go down.  It takes a lot to put me in a place where I start to feel mentally unhinged.  Where I roll my eyes in plain sight.  Where I cannot even pretend to act civil.  I was there at 2 pm today and I have NO idea how I made it to 4:30.  I think I just had an out of body experience where I sent my brain elsewhere and my body carried on...like a zombie.

Then I came home...and I wanted to go to yoga because I thought sweating it out with my favorite instructive would be all therapeutic and leave me all zen, but I really wanted to drink a bottle of wine more.  And while I was drinking this wine I saw a toad on the outside of my sliding glass door and decided to see what Emma thought about toads.  I like to point to things outside and see if Emma realizes what they are.  Bunnies.  Birds.  Toads.  The last time I was with her when she saw one it jumped towards her and that Bear nearly lost her shit.  And since she's perfectly adorable when cautious...here's what happened:
Seriously ya'll, my dog is ridiculously cute.

She never made it any closer than that.  Bear immediately backed off because she was so scared and excited about what could happen she just couldn't handle it.  All the pics of her backing away are blurry because she retreated so quickly.
And that my friends is why dogs are magic.  Because no matter what your day was like, you can come home, and find something new, and watch it through the eyes of your dog and laugh so hard you nearly spill you glass of wine.  Especially when the toad decides to make a break for it - into my apartment and under my couch.

Sometimes, cuteness is the most perfect cure for the common day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

- Confessions of an Addict

I think it's time I come clean about something.  I've allueded to it a few times on here, and told a few people in person about this "problem" that I have...but it's time to just really put it out there...

I am unequivocally addicted to Pocket Frogs.

Oh you don't know what Pocket Frogs is?  Well it's pretty much the best game ever.  See when I won my iPad at IFT I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  It was something I wasn't exactly planning on purchasing for myself as I didn't think I really had a need for it.  So with the amount of internet left to surf running low, I started looking around for some free games.  You know, crossword puzzles, sudoku...something classy like that.  I glossed right over Angry Birds because being addicted to that is so mainstream.  Plus, I like totally suck at that game.  I am seriously bad at lining up those birds and then I get all angry because I can't play angry birds well and the whole process is counterproductive. 

But, not to worry, because I found Pocket Frogs and from the moment I opened the game and started playing, it was like hearing a chorus of angels singing. 

Let me be frank: I love this game, but it's really not that special.  You breed frogs and try to get different color combinations for money, points or prizes.  You have to have so many points to move up to the next level, which unlocks new frog breeds.  That's pretty much it.  Want to know what my biggest accomplishment yesterday was?  Becoming a level 14.  Now I can finally breed my Pingo that I got like 10 levels ago but haven't been able to do anything with.  Sweet Jebus!

If you doubt my addiction level let me make it crystal clear for you.  Pocket Frogs is a part of my routine.  I come home from work, change into my leggings, walk the Ems, then cuddle up in bed with her and check my game.  I do a round of breeding, selling, moving and taming then surf the internet.  Depending on how fast the frogs grow, I will check a few more times throughout my late afternoon/early night, or not at all.  I will do another round of all that before bed then usually find something on Netflix to fall asleep to (lately it's Camelot/reading because I should probably try to offset this addiction with culture).  When I wake up I will check my Frogs, if it's not pressing for me to be at work at 8.  Sometimes I even take my iPad to work - granted it's also an iPod, so that's kind of a legitimate excuse...kind of.  What I'm saying is there are several times a day I think about my Frogs.  It's a problem.  And yes, I am 150% aware of how incredibly sad this addiction is. 

But now that I've stressed how much this game means to me, you will understand the level of utter devastation the following story brought me.  One time, a week and a half ago, I opened up my iPad to check in on my nursery and see what frogs I'd gotten out of my last round of breeding.  Except when the game loaded, I couldn't see anything.  The screen went black.  There was still the menu at the top and the big red x in the corner, but no frogs.  And none of the buttons were working.  No matter what I tried, I just had a black rectangle and no playing capabilities.  It was probably one of the saddest days of my life this year.  After much googling I really didn't have an idea of how to fix the problem and of course found many people who had found a "glitch" in level 12 where they just lost their whole game.  Of course, I was a level 12, and it had taken me a month and a half to get there because I'm a Pocket Frogs purist and I don't cheat.  The idea of starting over was earth shattering.  Would I ever get a white chroma Magus again?  What about the 58 awards I'd worked so hard to win?  It was just too much to bear. 

I pretty much ignored my iPad for like a whole week.  If I couldn't play Pocket Frogs I didn't really want to surf the internet or watch stuff on Netflix any more.  Side note: Netflix's price increase slotted for September really irritates me.  The few times I did open my iPad, I always checked Pocket Frogs first...hoping for a miracle.  Then, I started to accept that my game was really lost and since I couldn't imagine NOT playing Pocket Frogs any longer, I went in one day with the intention of deleting the program and re-installing it.  I had even begun to convince myself that maybe the second time around could be better because I'd learned so much about "strategy" this first time around.  I wasn't going to check to see if my game had bounced back because I was sure it was lost forever, but I figured "oh what the heck" and...

Miracle of miracles!  It popped up fully functional.  All of my frogs were in their habitats and I'd even won like 4 more awards.  I cannot begin to express how happy I was in that moment.

Like really people, it's the little things in life. 

I might have taken a small break from my game but I'm back and better than ever.  There are only 16 levels, and I've gotten 90% of the awards so I'm pretty much about to just win the heck out of this game.  I haven't given much thought to what I'll do post-Pocket Frogs...but I will say that I've been thinking a lot more about Mario and re-discovering my Wii...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

- How to Read a Book in 24 Hours

In my effort to continually increase my culture I decided a while ago to participate in a Book Club.  Before you know it I'll be hosting a Supper Club and Down Doggie charity events.

Let's not get carried away here...this Book Club is called "Books and Bars" because it's always held at a (wait for it) bar.  Because let's face it, pretty much everything is better with alcohol.

Anyways I decide to do this Books and Bars thing.  And then I just completely forget about it...until my friend texts me last Friday to remind me.  I planned to pick up the book over the weekend and get to reading because I'm a fast reader and I want to win at Book Club, so I have to finish the book before the discussion on Tuesday.  But then I spend the weekend living it up, eating biscuits and gravy, and taking 5 hour naps during the day.

I buy the book Monday night at 8pm.  No big deal, right?  I mean how many books have I read in a 24 hour period?  How many times did I do this in highschool?

By the time I finish my nightly chores (I'm like so responsible) and settle in with the book it's 11pm and I am getting quite sleepy.  I make it 50 pages and realize that there is no test.  No one is checking on my homework.  No one at Book Club is going to care if I didn't finish the book because we will all be drinking and cheers to Room by Emma Donaghue, which I didn't finish, but I'm sure is awesome.

And that is how you read a book in 24 hours...and by that I mean, that is how you decide that your life does not hinge on reading a book in 24 hours and so you go to sleep instead.

Room is actually quite good.  I managed to read another 50 pages before tonight and even after all of the spoilers I am invested and must see this through until the end.  The Lonely Polygamist is next month's book and I'm actually quite excited about it.  I might even start it like 48 hours in advance...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

- Those Asians

Heard tonight:
"There are 360,000 kids in China learning to play the piano right now.  There are only 60,000 in the US.  Those 360,000 kids will go on to be scientists.  And while they're learning to play the piano their parents are at work making TV's that most other American children sit and watch.  This is a problem"
- Greg Yep, SVP of Long Term R&D - PepsiCo

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

- Mil-to-the-Waukee

I made my first trip to Wisconsin this weekend.   I drove straight through on 94 all the way to the shores of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee.  I was only there for 24 hours, but it was pretty flippin' awesome.  Which was surprising, because I really didn't think Milwaukee would be anything to write home about.  But oh snap!  Here I am - writing about it.

Side note: Up until my trip this weekend, I never realized that Milwaukee is just barely north of Chicago.  Like only 90 miles north.  Sometimes geography just really kind of blows my mind.  

My first stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum because I like to get my culture did.  Plus it is a really cool building right on the lake, so if what was on the inside was utterly lame, I figured the outside would at least be a redeeming factor.
It's a pretty cool soleil design made to imitate the sail boats that are always on the water.  Walking into the main level and looking up is pretty amazing.
The big exhibit on display right now is a bunch of restored artifacts from the Emperor's secret garden of the Qianlong dynasty in the 1700's.  They were interesting to see and read about, but the modern art is what really got me.
Stalagmites made of of clear buttons glued into stacks.
This instillation was string dipped in glue and hung from hooks in the ceiling.  The shadows this cast were really neat to see and I spent a lot of time just walking around looking at how they changed due to vantage point.  I sound way too pretentious/artsy fartsy here.  Gross - I will lighten things up...

Then I went to space!
Just kidding.  Haven't you heard?  We don't send peeps to space anymore.  It was just an infinity room, which was something really popular in the 60's - go figure!  It was an 8 foot cube of glass with all these lights under the surface that you could walk into.  Because of all the reflection it was like the room of mirrors in a funhouse - it looked like it went on forever and OMG that's how they came up with the name infinity room.  Those hippies were so clever.  

I wanted to play around with moving the camera during the long exposure time necessary to capture the pics...but then some people walked in and totally rained on my parade, so this is the best one I got:
Then I found this case of mercury glassware and got to play with reflection all over again.  Well I mean I didn't find it like it was lost...but it was one of the things I noticed a lot of people just zoomed right by like it was nothing special.  Poor glass vases were all neglected.  They were one of my favorite things I saw that day.
And finally...chunks of chalk tied into lengths of wire and hung from the ceiling.
The thing I really enjoy about this kind of art is that it totally inspires me to see everyday objects in a completely different way.  A lot of people say "I could do that"...but the simple fact is - no one else thought to do it and actually executed it.  Except for the artist.  I could glue buttons into stacks, or hang things from the ceiling, but probably only after someone told me to.  I have never come up with an idea like this on my own, which is obvious because I don't have anything nearly that cool in mi apartamente.  

But maybe some day...

After getting my culture on it was time to undo all that good with free drinks at the welcome reception for a conference that I totally just crashed in on.  Conference crashing isn't as cool as wedding crashing, but they had these amazing pretzels and I hadn't eaten anything all day, so it was basically my version of heaven.

Here's another fun fact: Milwaukee is not only on Lake Michigan but also has a river running through downtown.  The Milwaukee river.  Cuh-razy.  So we decided to eat dinner on that river and watch the boats go by which just really made me want a boat.  Serious new life goal: get one of those things.  And someone else to drive it, so I can lay on it and drink beer all day.  

After dinner we took a picture: 
Newsflash: I am now side swooping my bangs.  Mostly because after 8 months of trimming them every 2 hours to keep them out of my eyes I'm bored with that and my laziness has won out.  I will now give you time to adjust to this shocking news.

Then we walked over to where all the happening bars were supposed to be...only to find out they weren't so happening.  So we used our phones to find a piano bar because I was with Jon and man!  Do we love a good piano bar.  It's probably good that we didn't take any more pictures because after a few rum and cokes, I'm not so sure that anyone really needs to witness me singing Backstreet Boys along with dueling pianos.  Ever.  And at least the people that did that night looked just as worse for wear as I did.

I finished up my trip with brunch at a way cute cafe downtown and here's where I went all out Wisconsin-esque with Breakfast Poutine (frites with gravy, fresh cheese curds, and a poached egg on top) and a Pannekoeken with pancetta, asparagus, fried eggs, and beer cheese sauce!  The pannekoeken, or love child of a pancake and crepe, is probably my new favorite thing to stuff in my mouth in massive quantities.  Also: it's a really fun word to say, which gives it bonus points.  And let me just say that ANY time you can combine beer and cheese together - I'll be there.  It's like one of the most fantastic flavor voyages EVER.

I'm just going to ahead and call it: my hot minute in Milwaukee = tremendous success.  

Can you tell that my new word obsession is "tremendous"?