Wednesday, May 30, 2012

- Spring is a 4 Letter Word

I hesitate to write what I'm about to write because it pretty much solidifies me as a Minnesotan because y'all...I'm about to write a whole post complaining about The Weather.  

If you're in Minnesota and you're not talking about The Weather then you're doing it wrong.  I can't remember a day that has gone by where I haven't had at least one conversation about The Weather.  I am one of those people who normally spends a lot of time monitoring the weather (this probably stems from my deep rooted fear of thunderstorms which I used to handle by following the radar maps on the Weather Channel obsessively to see where the storm was, when it would be moving through my part of town, when it would be over - and yes, occasionally turning the volume down on the TV and pretending to be the meteorologist standing in front of the map - don't judge) and even I think we talk about it way too much up in here.

When I told people I was moving up here pretty much everyone one in NC was like "Ew why?" except for the supportive friends and family who were thrilled that I got a job and were actually excited.  Most comments were something like "OMG it's so cold there - you'll die!" "I would die if I had to live there" "Aaaahhhhhhh so much snow!" or just the basic "Minnesota = death".  The people who lived up here were pretty much like "Yes, winter is cold.  It snows more here than it does in NC.  It is colder for longer.  Buy a good coat and pair of snow boots and find something you like to do in the cold and you'll be fine".  None of these statements is groundbreaking.  You don't need to hear any of those things from Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory to know they're true.  Why, yes that is one of my current TV show obsessions.  Although as much as I love it, what I feel for that show is a distant second to how I feel about Sons of Anarchy because y'all I am totally down with the SAMCRO.  I'm that show's Old Lady.

And guess what?  I'm totally FINE with Winter here.  I would even say that Winter and I are good friends.  I looked forward to Winter last year and was actually kind of disappointed that it was one of the mildest winters ever.  But just kind of, because I plan to be here a while and I know that Winter will eventually slap me in the face with a coldness that I never knew existed...but for now Winter and I are chill. Yep, I totally just used that pun.

But let me tell you who I would gladly talk some schmack about behind their back on the playground?  SPRING.  Spring is like the biggest beotch I've met up here.  She's all "Look!  It looks like it's warm outside because it's May and sunny!" And then I go outside wearing something summery like shorts and she gives me a huge wedgie filled with 50 degree temps and goosebumps.  Then sometimes I check the weather app on my phone and she's all "Oooooohhhhhhh look temperatures in the high 70's for Monday - Friday" but Saturday and Sunday will be cold and rainy.  That stunt single-handedly ruined the local spring rugby season for me...and when you start messing with my ability to enjoy watching rugby you better hope you don't come across me in a deserted place with no witnesses.  Another Spring stunt is when she throws a really big curve ball and is like "90 degrees - outside is like Heaven on Earth!"  And it will be.  It will be SO glorious and I'll just sit on my balcony and bask in the fact that merely the ambient temperature can make me sweat.  But then by 7pm The Weather has started and I have to barricade myself in my closet because the storms are scary and are those tornado sirens I hear?

So, if you're going to move to Minnesota and you want to ask me about The Weather I'm not even going to talk about old man Winter.  Instead, I will tell you the 3 things that I wish had been told to me.
  1. Spring is a beotch
  2. Minneapolis could easily give Chicago a run for it's money when it comes to "windiest city"
  3. It's drier here than my sense of humor
The only other shortcoming of Spring that we haven't discussed is how long it lasts.  Today is May 30th and I haven't taken my jacket or scarf off all day...granted I am wearing lightweight versions of both but STILL.  The high is 60 degrees.  I remember at the beginning of Spring (which was late March this year) when 60 was OMG so warm and felt glorious.  Two months later 60 has lost all appeal and is pretty much freezing.  The warmest part of my day (because for some reason work establishments seem to think that copious amounts of air conditioning are necessary) is when I get in my car that has been sitting in the sun for 8 hours.

You know what else makes 60 degrees suck?  Wind.  Wind is like the bane of my existence.  Spring makes me angry but it's usually slow to build.  Like I'm really only just now getting fed up with Spring and it's been 2 months.  I would say that I've exercised some pretty good patience there.  But  the exact same second Wind starts to literally push on me I am immediately pissed.  The kind of pissed that causes me to creatively string 4 letter words together in a loud voice outside, in front of strangers.  Like, when I'm walking Emma in the morning and I decide to look nice and wear a dress to work and Wind is all "Oh who is that walking over there?  I don't think you've flashed them yet" because in the year and a half I've lived here I've flashed more people than in the rest of my life.  Or when I'm going out and I've put major effort into what my hair looks like and Wind notices by blowing my bangs so far out of place that everything is ruined and now I'll never meet a cute guy and get married and have kids because He'll see me and be all "Wow she'd be cute except her bangs look terrible" and so he won't come up and talk to me and therefore will never learn that I'm an awesome person who normally has great hair.  Or when I'm trying to run an errand quickly an don't wear a coat and Wind reminds me "Hey it's actually freezing out here because I'm gusting at 20 mph today".  I'm not exaggerating.  Wind at 20 mph is not uncommon.  Even today it's at 7 mph and guess what?  That is WAY past a gentle breeze.  Last week when it was 92, there was a wind chill that only made it feel like 89.  Seriously.  Wind chill in May = Whisky Tango Foxtrot.

The last thing - and hardest thing for me to adjust to year round - is that the air does not usually carry any moisture in it.  I miss good old fashioned North Carolinian humidity almost every day.  It's weird to say that because when I lived in NC I thought that was the worst part, but I have to wonder if my move to a drier climate has made my skin and scalp conditions present when they would have stayed hidden in NC.  Here I apply baby oil, Vaseline or Aquaphor Healing Ointment, Eucerin + Intensive Repair lotion and prescription medications in some combination at least once a day and usually twice.  That's not even counting the several medicated shampoos I use in rotation and the many anti-aging lotions I use on my face - at least two of which are moisturizers.  Plus, I make a point to drink AT LEAST 64 ounces of water and usually I'm in excess of 80 per day.  That's a lot of time, effort, and money that I devote every day to trying to make sure my skin doesn't hightail it back to NC and leave me here defenseless.

Of course the locals like to think that it's humid - which by this point I don't think I have to tell you, is complete hogwash.  Last year was apparently especially bad and "OMG it was SO humid and hot!" according to them.  I remember loving and appreciating every minute the thermometer spent above 80 degrees and in my honest opinion there were 4 days last year that qualified as humid.  Although that's probably a good thing because on 2 of those days we had tornadoes, so if it is NC humid up here all hell breaks loose in numerous ways.  And 4 days of legit humidity is all well and good but that still leaves a lot of days in the year to shove Vaseline up your nose so it stops cracking and you don't get a nosebleed at an inopportune time.  Is there ever a good time for a nosebleed?

On that note, I have to go to the dermatologist and get a prescription that hopefully doesn't cost $450+ like my others because in case you were wondering - Psoriasis is the best life partner ever because he likes to surprise you with "gifts" year round.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

- Chevron

Ever since I found this tutorial online I've known that the curtains I hung in the living room would get chevron stripes painted on them.  Which is why I was so excited to find the exact same white curtains used in the tutorial in Ikea for $25 per 2 panels.

I hung those curtains in February so that everything was in place for my birthday party with the thought that I would paint them later.  You know later, it's some time after now.  It could have been closer to February but I was busy sitting around watching rugby and working on a massive peanut butter addiction.  But most of the rugby is over for the season.  And peanut butter and I needed a break according to the waistband on every single pair of pants I own.

So last Sunday I went into Home Depot and ordered up a quart of Glidden's Granite Grey determined to get this party started.  But then I decided I should really drive out to my favorite Home Goods and one thing lead to another and I managed to take all of the curtains off the rod.  Then I looked at the tutorial and started thinking about the math involved because I didn't want to copy her stripe placement and I got tired and had to go to bed.

Monday I tried again.  But then there was something on TV - I don't even remember what...maybe America's Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - and it took me a long time to do THE math and I measured on one of the curtain panels and hated the placement and had to draw up another diagram.

I finally landed on this:
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What that nonsense basically means is that I placed the stripes the same distance from the bottom of the top.  I like things symmetrical.  But finally figuring this out took way longer than I'd like to admit...so again I was sleepy.

Last night I decided I was ready.  I used my reference sheet and an hour later (not an exaggeration) I had this taped up:
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Then I moved it over to a different section where I'd put down a drop cloth.  But I couldn't just go ahead and get my paint on.  Because I have a dog.  A black dog.  That sheds.  Using a lint roller was an important step in this process.  Unless you like a bunch of hair all stuck in your paint.
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Gah-ross.  What a hobag.

Then I painted.  It became immediately obvious that this material was going to suck up a lot of paint.  I have no idea where it all went, because it didn't soak through the cloth at all.  Things would look great and then 5 minutes later there would be all of these white spots appearing where it looked like I didn't even paint.  Also - even painting 2 simple stripes will take longer than you think it might.  After all of that and some drying time I had this one panel:
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And I was sleepy again.  
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Pro-tip from Fahtar: if you put your roller (all the way) in a ziploc bag and seal it up it won't dry up.  Meaning you can paint something over the course of days and only use one roller.  

I woke up this morning excited to see what the curtain looked like in the day light but found this instead:
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Let's check that out up close...
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So...yeah.  I didn't exactly get even coverage.  This becomes pretty darn obvious when light shines through the panel.  I actually don't mind the unexpected textured look so much except for those circles which are a direct result of my equipment:
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Also, yes I am painting my table also right now.  More on that later.

Here's the thing...at this point you either stop, or you keep going.  I decided I liked the textured chevron enough to see the project all the way through but I did add one modification.  I used a brush to smooth out all of the circles on the roller after getting rid of the excess paint.  Tonight with the 2012 National Geography Bee on (those are some SUPER smart middle schoolers) I finished up the other 3 panels.  I have never had a project almost use all of the paint I bought.  If I had to guess which project would use the most paint, I NEVER would have picked this one.  This is all I have left:
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This is what the wall of chevron looks like presently:
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Emma is just sitting there.  Shedding all over my couch.  

So far I love it.  We'll see what I think tomorrow.  If it bothers me enough I think the easiest fix will be to add a lining to the curtains to block the light.

Oh the rest of the room is a mess?  I hadn't noticed.  

Probably because all of this measuring and taping and painting while crawling around on the floor has made it totally obvious that I am totally old and I'm currently laying here dying from back pain.  Not really but kind of.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

- Lay Offs

I said in the beginning that I wouldn't use this forum to talk about my job.  Meaning that I didn't want it to be a common subject that somehow started to define my personality.  Plus, I like to keep the divide between my professional and personal life, and this place is all about the personal.  I do not tell people at work that I do this.  Just like I don't come on here and talk about how to make Hamburger Helper.  This is not the place for such things.

But, I feel the need to make a quick comment based on recent events.  Depending on how tuned in you are you already know what I'm about to say or it will be news to you: General Mills announced yesterday that there will be lay offs.  There will be about 850 worldwide, half of which will come from the Twin Cities...which is about 8% of our local staff.

General Mills is not a company that does the whole "lay off" thing very commonly.  The last time it happened was (I think) back in 2004 after the Pillsbury acquisition and that was probably to eliminate redundancies.  Now it's about the bottom line.  We've done quite well to stay afloat despite some very tough years in a poor economic climate with ingredient, transportation, and every other kind of cost skyrocketing.  But looking forward we have to make some changes.  Along with the lay offs comes probably the biggest re-organization of R&D in the last decade.  

We have no idea who will be laid off.  Every single employee will have a face to face meeting that reveals their status by June 28th.

So you might wonder how I feel about all this and I have 3 words for you: I ain't skeered.

You heard me!

I refuse to live my life in a constant state of worry or fear.  Since I started this job I have looked for every opportunity to show them what I'm capable of and had I known that I would be in this position a year and a half after I started...I wouldn't have done a damn thing differently.  I also still would have chosen to work at General Mills because I firmly believe that they are the best of the best.  There is no other company I want to work for at this time.  I am confident that I can gracefully handle whatever the next month brings - and will probably come out better for it.

That is all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

- Mother's Day

Every time I venture home Mamsie puts me through the dreaded task of listening to all of the music she's recently discovered.  I say dreaded because I always huff and puff about it but between you and me...when it's not Taylor Swift - Mamsie picks out some pretty good stuff.

Like this gem from the Zac Brown Band & Jimmy Buffet featuring one of my all time favorite songs (from cmt.com):
This song makes me emotional for some reason.

And even though I'd already fallen in love with the Avett Brothers, I think over Christmas we listened to this at least 3 times a day.  And it wasn't too much.  I always think of Mams when I hear the lyric "And you were sick like Audrey Hepburn".
I think this was back in the early days...

When I was home in March it was the Civil Wars.
My current fave
A fantastic cover

I listened to all of the above songs and played the Civil Wars all day today in my car in honor of the best damn Mamsie in the world.

If she ever comes and visits me maybe I'll sit her down and force her to listen to some of my favorites...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

- Lamby

There once was a Lamby.
photo-4
He was handpicked from a PetSmart somewhere in Raleigh by a girl who was preparing for a dog she very much wanted to bring home, despite what her Mamsie thought.  A dog that she was told loved squeaky toys and Lamby was not only adorable, but also had a fun squeaker is his belly.  Other toys were bought, but Lamby is the only one that rode with the girl to Spartanburg, SC to meet a dog.

The dog met Lamby in the car on the way home but it was not the love at first sight the girl had imagined.  Granted, on the ride home in a new car with a new person, a new squeaky toy was one of the least interesting things.  After all, there were lots of new car windows to leave new nose prints on.  Once home, the dog broke his squeaker relatively quickly and he lost his appeal.  But, to the girl, Lamby was always a symbol of their first meeting and the day they became a family.  Lamby stayed in the dog's crate no matter where they went so that there was always something familiar.  Even if the dog didn't notice.  Every now and then the dog would play with Lamby and during one bout an arm was lost.  Other dog friends loved to play with Lamby and eventually his chest stitches were ripped so that he lost stuffing from from two places.  Lamby was worse for wear but has lived a loved life.  Even if it was more by the girl than the dog.  

Replacing Lamby has never been something that crossed the girl's mind.  He was to stay in the dog's crate as long as he could be pieced together to do so.  Even if the dog rarely used the crate anymore.  

But then one day, when the girl walked through the dog aisle at Target on the way to pick up some food for the dog, this new Lamby was spotted:

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Lamby v2.0

The girl used to love watching Lambchop and still can easily sing "The Song That Doesn't End" for minutes on end.  If ever there was a lamb to replace the original Lamby...the girl knew that this would be the one.  
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Napping with Lamby v2.0 in a sunny spot.

After 4.5 years, there is a new Lamby in town.  With a squeaker in her belly and one in each paw.  She is loved.  Even if it's mostly by the girl. 

Lamby v1.0 is still in the dog's crate.  Because some things to some people are too special for a trash can.  

:)




Monday, May 7, 2012

- The End of an Era

A few days ago my Minnesota license arrived in the mail.  None of the DMV's print them onsite anymore so even though I took the knowledge test and squared it away forever ago it took about 4 weeks to show up.  Until it arrives, you're supposed to carry your old ID that they clip the corner off of and your yellow receipt from the DMV.  Super fun to present at bars.

I resisted this change for so long because one of my last physical ties to North Carolina was carrying my license.  It made me feel like I was still me.  The old me.  The one that lived in NC for nearly 28 years of her life.  I felt like carrying my old license meant "You can take the girl out of North Carolina but you can never take the North Carolina out of the girl".

In reality, I waited WAY too long to make this happen.  When I got pulled for accidentally driving in the HOV lane I was warned that I had already worn out my 60 day "grace period" of not having the right license or plates.  But I didn't get my plates until October when I was faced with a ticket for expired NC plates and rather than paying it - it was cheaper to register the car here and get the ticket dropped.  I was reminded again at that point about my license.  But still, I just couldn't.  I wouldn't.  When I was home in March Mams broke the news that my car insurance had gone up as a result of the ticket and that the insurance agent said it was time to kick me off.  "If the car is in Minnesota, she should get her own insurance policy".

What a hussy!  How dare her kick me off my parent's insurance policy?!  At first I was pretty angry about this news but the more I thought about it I saw she kind of had a point.  At 29 years old and with a steady big girl job, I couldn't argue that the time hadn't come to finally take all of MY responsibilities and put them on MY plate.  I guess I only grow up when forced to.

I can't help but feel that it's officially the end of an era.  For 13 years I carried a NC license.  Now, I have a ridiculously lame Minnesota one with a terrible picture in which I look sort of like a boy and sort of like I have a mullet.

But don't let my license mislead you, I'm still ALL North Carolinian.
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The old license is all framed up and part of my gallery wall now.