Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spam, Scams, Fiddles & Chairs

So I may be just a little bit impulsive.....maybe....sometimes....well, just a bit.

There was a time when I was so unhappy about my job that the thought of quitting and working at a Trader Joe's for the sake of my sanity was the only option.   With my grad school boyfriend still on student salary, I openly embraced my impending poverty. 

On my next trip to the grocery store I bought only items that were on sale.  I used coupons.  I bought canned food.  I bought things off the clearance rack...yup, that home-depot-style cabinet over by the bathroom where everything is marked with bright orange stickers "50% off!" because it's nearly expired and no longer suitable for human consumption.  But what drew the line for Trevor was when I came home with a can of SPAM....

"What the hell is this?!  Why would you buy this?"

"I dunno it was on sale......and, well,  I'm trying to get used to living on a budget."

"Budget or no budget, we should eat the same rich or poor. And I will not eat SPAM!"

"Ok, point taken.  No more spam."

I still keep that can of SPAM in my kitchen cupboard though... just as a reminder... to not be crazy.  Plus it makes me smile.  The day I have to eat that SPAM will be a very sad day....but that day is not today....today I'm eating turkey surprise!

Around the same time we were also looking for places to live in Montana.  Again in my must-conserve-all-finances frame of mind, I start looking for a  one bedroom in a 4-5 bedroom place.  sharing a house with 6 undergrads....living the student life... we can't afford a place of our own. 

Trevor says no.

Any who, as it turns out I could keep my job and my salary and still go to Montana.  Hooray!  We don't have to eat SPAM!!!  But we still need to find a place to live.  But now that we have the money, hey here's a 2 bedroom, furnished place!! Stand-alone house! Utilities included!  Hey, they just need $4000 up front for 2 months.  Ya know what Trev?  We should just do it!  We can afford it!  And then we don't need to worry about it!  We'll have a place... with furniture...we can just move right in!

Trev says "what are you crazy?! No we're not doing that.  That's too expensive"

And probably better off, it would have been a waste of money... mostly because it was a 100% scam!

Life in the bare bear canyon was much more worth it.  And the cabin actually existed  and we didn't have to live with a bunch 18-year-old stoners. 

Not all of my impulse-driven decisions have been a fluke though.  Recently, while in San Diego for Trevor's job market conference, I had a nice 5 hour chunk of time to myself.  So I thought "I'm going to go out and buy something really nice for Trevor.  He's worked so hard in school, and putting up with me, and the fruits of his labor are finally starting to pay off.  Wouldn't he like to come home from 6 hours of interviewing in a business suit with a brief case and uncomfortable shiny black shoes and have a nice unexpected present waiting for him?"

So I hit the town on a mission...hmm what to get him, what to get him.... A coozie?  no... t-shirt?  no.... hey there's a pawn shop!  I've never been to a pawn shop before so I head on in to see if there treasures will spark any ideas.  A guitar?  hmmmm, hey do you have a violin?  The guy behind he counter says "no, but the pawn shop a couple blocks up probably will."

Lately I have been on a violin kick.  I don't know why.  It was recently Christmas.  And last Christmas, we didn't buy each other presents, but instead bought a piano that we could both use.  I thought maybe each year we could get a new instrument?  Except this Christmas came and went and I got him the game "Pass the pigs" and he got me Stephen Colbert's book "America Again... Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't." 

I highly recommend it

So I find a violin in the second pawn shop.  It's expensive enough that I second guess myself.  I leave the shop and call a couple sisters...

"Should I do this?  Is this a good idea?"

"Well do you really want one?"


"Are you even going to play it?"

"I will! I will!"

"Does Trevor want one?"

"I don't know if he wants one, but I think he'd think it's cool...."

"Can you afford it?"


"Then just get it!"

Sold!  I go back into the pawn shop, thinking "Alright, hand it over!" But as I pass through the door, my voice of reason (yes, I have one and I can sometimes hear it) says "you cannot buy this without first making sure that it works."

So after talking prices and makes and models, I ask the guy if I can try it.  The curious bum at the stand next to me puts his elbows up on the counter and sits his chin in his hands, posting up for a show.

I take the violin from the clerk and I ask him if it's a righty or lefty (trying to sound as if I know anything about the violin,  while searching for any clue from him as to what to do).  He has no idea, and goes back to look in the book.  While he's away I give it a quick shreek-ety-do-da.  The anxious bum instantly pops up out of his stance with big exclamation of "What the hell is that?! I thought I was gonna get a free show!?"

I laugh.  The clerk comes back..

"Soooo do you even know how to play?"

"...uhh..nope...but I'd like to learn!  How much did you say it was?"

"I'll knock $35 off the price."

"I'll take it!"

And Trevor likes it!

What good is a fancy violin without a comfortable, fashionable place to strum it's strings?   No good.

With that I would like to introduce you to the grand finale of my recent impulsions...... my new chair:

Sit on me.  Take me home.  You know you want to..... I'm clean... I don't smell.

I was at the thrift store dropping off a couple bags of blankets and pillows (pillows from a previous impulse to buy Trevor 12 large bed pillows because he once said "I wish my bed was made of pillows" and I tried to make that happen).  No need for 12 pillows and excessive amounts of blankets when you can really only fit 4 people max comfortably inside the apartment at any one time and it is definitely time to down-size...clutter-free is the way to be!....Oh HELLOooooo sassy yellow chair for $29.99!!!!

Well he wasn't able to help me bring it up the stairs just yet...because after I bought it, I realized it didn't fit in the car...and the thrift store doesn't deliver...and Kevin's car's in San Francisco and none of my other 5 friends in town have a truck... and well I sort of just want it now..... and so...after about the same price of the chair paid in U-haul fees, that baby is mine!!!!!!!

You better believe it is my new favorite chair!  Come sit on it!

And now I finally have a place to sit a play our beautiful violin in my spam-free affordable housing:

BONUS: it also doubles as a blogging chair:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To Hug or Not To Hug?....When in Doubt, Don't

Once upon a time, in a mountainous land far far way.... (in between Idaho and North Dakota to be exact) I found myself having a lovely dinner party with some locals who worked with Trevor during the summer.  One person in particular, who I met on this very brief single occasion and talked to maybe not at all directly, had come back into my life five months later in the form of the head of the search committee for a job that Trevor has applied to...

I am on my way down to San Diego to meet Trevor at the infamous "job market conference."  I'm running late because to get to San Diego from Santa Barbara I have to drive through the hell on earth that is Los Angeles rush hour traffic.

I arrive about half past nine at the Ol' Spaghetti Factory in the Gas Lamp District of the sunny city that births the best people on Earth (myself included along with fellow model citizens: Nick Cannon, Ted Danson, Wyatt Earp, Aaron Rodgers, and Frank Zappa). 

Trevor texts me that the gang is at the bar on the top floor, so I zip past the hostess, and trot up the stairs, on the way recognizing and catching the eye of the economics department search committee chairman sitting alone at a table as I pass.  I look away.  He looks away.  I run up the rest of the stairs to the bar...

"Well hello Trevor darling! I'll take a Blue Moon please!"  As I wait for my blood-pressure-reducing beverage to arrive I peak over the railing, down the staircase to see if that really was that guy from the dinner party this summer?....hmmm... yea I think it is himmmm... dangit...eye contact...... After  seemingly avoiding him on the way in, and now having been caught blatantly stalking him from above... I am really not doing Trevor any favors in the non-socially awkward department.

I tell Trevor that his "friend" is downstairs and I tell him what I've embarrassingly done.  He says "it's fine, it's fine..let's go say hi!"  Ok, fine, but you first.  We go down to introduce ourselves... or more accurately, for Trevor to introduce me.  I am feeling slightly dumb, but whatever, here we go. 

"Oh hello again!  You remember my fiance, Julie?!" 

We are standing right next to this man's solo dinner party table.  He cannot offer us to have a seat since there is only one extra chair.  So the gracious, non-awkward thing for him to do is stand up, so we are all talking and shaking hands on the same level.  However, me and my expert social cue interpretation skills deduce that this series of events (first the introduction of me by Trevor, followed by the movement and standing up of this professor) can only possibly lead to one thing...

We are going to hug.

I realize after it is too late...right at that mid-hug point where you are just far enough into it that you can no longer see the others' face...but that last glimpse of his wide-eyed face a millisecond prior to this point of no return confirmed my uncomfortable fears....This was not expected.  This may not even be appropriate.   This is weird.  What is wrong with me?! 

The rest of the external conversation was in all honesty a blur... 

The internal conversation went something like this:

"Damnit Julie, why do you always think people want to hug you?!"

"That hug could have cost Trevor a job!"

"I will never hug anyone outside of my immediate family again!!"

"Ok some friends I can hug.  BUT for the love of life, Julie, remember that not everyone is your friend.  Not everyone is huggable."

"New life rule: If you don't have that person's cell phone number, you cannot hug them."

--- Resume external dialogue---

"Yes it was nice meeting you again too!  Bye bye! Have a good night!"

Phew.  At least I'm not alone in the awkward hug department...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Don't Cry When You're Hoppy

It has been 2 weeks into the new year and I have already stuck my hand into the toilet twice as many times as last year.... Lessons learned:
  • Close the toilet seat when handling droppable objects in the bathroom, and
  • Nothing in the back pocket, folks.
Besides the decline in motor skills and the irresponsible bathroom behavior, I'm feeling positive about the new year.  Why? You may ask.  Mainly because during my first week back at work I was given a "hoptimist" from my project manager:

Sad?  Frustrated? Stressed?.... Hop to Optimism!

What is a hoptimist?  It is what it looks like: a spring-necked, bobble headed plastic toy that sits on my cubicle shelf and keeps my other work friends happy:

The geisha was a gift from the administrative assistant at work. She said her son's girlfriend broke up with him and the ex had given him this asian statue.  My co-worker thought it was worth a lot of money so she didn't want her son to throw it out.  I was the only one she could think to give it to.... 

I thanked my project manager for the thoughtful, kind, hoptimistic gesture and said something along the lines of "it's nice to get something back from the company even if it is in the form of a cheap little toy..." to which she replied something like "oh good!! I'm glad you like it, because they really are quite expensive!"   40 bucks these things are going for!  That's almost equal to my annual pay increase! 

But I do love it... makes me hoppy...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

This Blog is Like This Title...Not All That Funny...Probably Too Long.....But You'll Read It Till the End, Won't You?

I really thought this past year was a bust... What did I even do with myself for the last 12 months?!   I sat on the couch a lot...I watched TV a lot... I complained about my job a lot....I worked out not a lot... overall I didn't do too much.... Then I started looking through pictures from 2012, and maybe I wasn't as boring and lazy as I thought I was.  Time flies until you actually look back at dated pictures.

In 2012, I made:
  • 5 trips to NJ
  • 2 trips to Florida
  • 2 trips to Chicago
  • 1 trip to Scotland
  • 1 trip to Germany
  • 1 trip to Rochester
  • 1 trip to Canada 
  • I lived in Montana for 3 months
  • I attended 4 weddings
  • and was in the house while my friend was birthing her baby upstairs (true story)
I heard his first cry...the baby, not the Dad

 Here is the highlight reel:

January 2012 ringing in the new year on the ostrich farm
Trevor's conference in Chicago where he was getting a taste for the job market

January 2012 the bean

Me and Marie at the bean

February 2012 I found a stray dog

Lloyd and Amy's wedding; Newark, NJ Feb. 2012

February 2012 Edinburgh, Scotland

Loch Ness, Scotland

Feb 2012 Frankfurt, Germany with Robert Becker


March 2012 Laura K. came to visit!

March 2012, In Florida for Nancy's 30th

snailhouse buds

fly much?

May 2012 New Jersey for Dolan's wedding

June 2012 New Jersey for Lexine's wedding

Hanging with Gwen

June 2012 Florida for family reunion

June 2012, Crater Lake, Oregon...on the way to Montana

June 2012-September 2012 Life in Montana

The library where I worked from home

The bears that haunted my dreams

The cabin where the haunted dreams happened

Music on Main
Skakespeare in the Park

Yellowstone National Park:

Summer 2012, we watched friend and fellow Rutgers alumn, Julie Culley, qualify for and run in the Summer Olympics

4th of July at the rodeo:

July 2012 slipped a rib

July 2012 Lewis and Clark Caverns
Lewis and Clark Caverns

Summer 2012 Hanging with Boscoe

Trevor's summer office

August 2012 A visit from the South Dakotans

August 2012 hiking

August 2012 Back to NJ

Aug 2012 Matt and Renata get married!

My last catch

Aug 2012 Kevin comes to visit!

Aug 2012 Lexine and Brian come to visit

Aug 26 It's official

Aug 2012 Mom comes to visit

Sept 2012 we head for home passing through Leavenworth, WA

Sept 2012 Meet Ginger's newest family members in Seattle

Sept 2012 Stop by the other Ericksons' place

Sept 2012 more friend stops in Seattle

Sept 2012 Sequoia National Park

Then more friends in Sacramento

and more friends in San Francisco

and good-bye to friends in LA...
...(or more like 'see ya later dudes')...

and hello to wedding dresses....
throw in some camping...

...then the worst storm ever...

....followed by the best Thanksgiving ever...

...add some knitted hats...

...more hats...

...more engagements....

Then the holidays......!!!!

And before you know what hit you... BAM it's a new year!!!  Thank goodness because after last year, I think I need a break....  I don't feel so guilty about sitting on the couch after reading that blog post.  You shouldn't either.