Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Taking my business elsewhere

My sister made an odd request for her Christmas gift this year: a fuzzy steering wheel cover. "The fuzzier, the better," she instructed me.

Amazon.com had a disappointing selection, so after consulting my pal Google, I landed on a website called prankplace.com. The website refers to itself as "the fun and outrageous place to shop!" Well, they definitely have the outrageous covered. And not in the fun "Jem" kind of way. More on that in a second.

I was quite pleased with the level of fuzz provided by their Shag Steering Wheel Cover. I was deliberating between which color to order when the "Funny Bumper Stickers" category caught my eye on the sidebar. My sister has a silly sense of humor, so I thought I'd look for a bumper sticker to slip in her automotive-themed gift. After clicking through a few pages, I was bored. Oh, but what is this? "Embarrassing Fake Bumper Stickers" on the sidebar. What could a "fake" bumper sticker be, I wondered.

Holy. Hell.





Apparently this website considers gay pride to be "embarrassing" and "fake." This alone is a disgusting display of homophobic hatred and prejudice. But to add insult to injury, these gay pride stickers are displayed alongside these class acts:





Needless to say, this company has lost my business. Fuzzy steering wheel cover be damned!

I encourage you to join me in boycotting this company. I sent the company a message earlier today informing them that they disgust me. Won't you join me? Contact them here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Living in fear of the synth

Confession: I really like the synth. For me, it doesn't get much better than the 2:05 mark on Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

However, there is one time of year when I live in fear of the synth. And that time is nigh, my friends. Radio stations in Pittsburgh have already started incorporating Christmas music into their rotations (some exclusively, God help us all). This means one thing: at any given moment, my ears could be assaulted with the sound of my synth nightmare... "Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney... aka Sir Paul McHatesMe.


Click at your own risk.


This song. THIS SONG. I can't come up with the words that would accurately convey to you the way the first few notes of that song make my insides recoil in disgust. I am sure there was a time when this song did not cause such a visceral reaction--but that was a very long time ago. That was before I spent three holiday seasons working retail at Toys "R" Us, where they assault their employees and customers with the same dozen "upbeat" Christmas tunes nonstop. I believe I speak for everyone, frazzled employees and disgruntled customers alike, when I say:

Go to hell, Geoffrey.


After hearing "Wonderful Christmas Time" approximately 1.47 million times throughout my collective three months at Toys "R" Us, I could frankly stab a unicorn if I have to hear that song one more time. This is why those opening synth notes are a signal to my brain to SWITCH THE STATION! TURN OFF THE RADIO! RAM THE CAR INTO THE ONCOMING SEMI! ANYTHING TO MAKE IT STOP! PLEASE, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!

And don't worry, if I happen to be unlucky enough to hear this song while doing holiday gift shopping at the mall, I have an emergency plan in tact. It involves carrying a fog horn and very discrete cymbals...


... not unlike this little fella's...


The catch is, of course, you have to be willing to be escorted from the mall by a very huffy security guard, who has already had to stop eight goth teenagers from trying to cram HotTopic's body jewelry and Twilight paraphernalia down their skinny jeans... and that was only 45 minutes into the poor guy's shift.

I think we all have Christmas songs that rub us the wrong way. For example, my mother-in-law loves Christmas music more than any other person on this planet. I'm not sure how she feels about "Wonderful Christmas Time." However, I am VERY SURE that she hates "Christmas Shoes" with the intensity of a thousand suns. But really, who doesn't? And why is that boy so dirty? ("... his clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe...") It just doesn't add up. (Side note: Andrew, being the sweet son that he is, suggested that he and his mother dance to "Christmas Shoes" as their mother-son dance at our wedding. Not sure why she didn't go for it...)

So tell me, which songs make you want to risk being banned for life from The Gap?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Well-Fed, Well-Loved

Our little Tommy seems to be enjoying his new home. Visit Michelle's blog to see him chowing down on a tasty treat. (She's a creep... but it's totally awesome.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkins

Happy Halloween! What is up with all the kids who came to my door saying "Happy Hanukkah" and "Merry Christmas"? Seriously, at least ten kids said some variation of this to me tonight. GET OFF MY LAWN!

Anyhow, check out these sweet pumpkins Andrew carved up last night.


Greyhound



Steelers Pride

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Q&A on Yinzpiration

I'm honored to be the first Q&A on the lovely Kate Showalter Stoltzfus' new blog, Yinzpiration. (Burghers, how adorable is that blog name?) You can check out the post here.

Oh, and be sure yinz guys add the blog to your readers!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have you cried over a bad haircut?

I hadn't shed a tear over my hair since an unfortunate situation with my bangs in high school. My streak of good haircuts came to a crashing end on Saturday when, desperate for a haircut, I tried a new salon because my usual stylist was traveling abroad.

I brought a picture of a sleek shoulder-length bob with long swoopy side bangs. That was the haircut I wanted. The haircut I received was a choppy mess of extremely short layers and blunt bangs. Holy hell. Not at all what I wanted. An entire chunk of my hair was just sitting lifeless on top of my head--not at all blended into the rest of my hair. The hair stylist knew he messed me up big time. However, he did try to blame the awful bangs on a previous haircut. "Are you sure the last person who cut your hair didn't mess them up?" Um. Dude. My "bangs" were at my chin when I came to you this morning. I was very vocal about how unhappy I was, and he didn't let me pay for the monstrosity. (He honestly looked like he was going to cry as I left the salon.) As soon as I got into the car, I called Andrew in hysterics. I was crying so much that he thought I had been in a car accident.

I'm not going to dwell on the bad haircut. Instead, I am going to thank the powers that be for my stylist returning to the states and taking pity upon me last night. She heard about my unfortunate situation and told me to come in so she could fix it. The result is a fabulous haircut, though I'll admit it is MUCH shorter than I had hoped for.

It's funny... I initially was considering going for a short cut so I could finally donate my hair to locks of love. I ultimately decided I didn't want to lose that much hair and set my sights on a shoulder length cut--about five inches shorter than the style I had at the time. In the end, I definitely lost enough hair to donate to the organization. Oh, well.


My new 'do, after my saint of a hair stylist fixed me up

Friday, September 17, 2010

You should not have to know a guy to get home at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night...

This weekend, I was stranded in the Penn Ave. Subway (irony, foreshadowing) in Wilkinsburg. My husband and I had planned on catching a ride home with our designated driver (my mother-in-law) after the Big Pour on Saturday. Last minute, we decided to walk to a nearby party with some friends, thinking we could just catch a ride home with friends, or worst case scenario, catch the 69 (there is no irony here) to Forest Hills, where we call home. (MISTAKE #1)

During our walk to the party, the skies opened and we were drenched in no time. I have a fondness for NOT sitting around in wet clothes. So upon arriving at said party, we quickly decided to catch a bus home instead. I called up the Port Authority website on my iphone, and saw a bus was coming to a stop about a mile away in 20 minutes. The party had not yet begun, so the host graciously drove us to the bus stop, saving us from trudging through the rain again. (MISTAKE #2)

We are now at the bus stop. Huddled under trees for shelter. Waiting. WAITING. WAAIITTTING. Our Big Pour buzzes are now completely gone. I am cold. My husband is hungry. And we are both going to have to pee again. I check the bus schedule again, all like, "WTF. Where is this freaking bus!?" Guess what? I was reading a WEEKDAY schedule. You apparently are not allowed to ride public transit on weekends.

Desperate for a way home, I call a friend who lives nearby. They were out for the evening.

Not sure what else to do, we look up taxi services on our phones and begin calling each one. Between the four cab companies, they all either had busy signals, no answer, or said they were out of cabs. This is where I notice a 67A approaching the bus stop. Thinking only of getting out of the rain, we board without hesitation. This bus does not go through Forest Hills, so we planned to ride until Wilkinsburg.

On the way to Wilkinsburg, I called the host of the party were supposed to go to earlier that night. I was hoping my friend would come rescue us. Unfortunately, by that time, he had already started drinking pretty heavily and was in no condition to drive.

We got off the bus at Penn and Braddock and attempted to seek shelter in Wendy's. It was closed. Not sure what else to do, we make our way towards Subway, which appeared to be open. I think I heard angels singing when we saw it was open until midnight.

I walk inside, so relieved to be out of the rain, but still unsure of how I would get home. I am not proud of this, my dear readers. I began to weep in Subway. The kindly sandwich artisan (or whatever the hell they call those people) took pity upon me and my husband and said we could hang out in there until we could figure out a way home. I explained our situation and said we couldn't even get a cab. The kindly sandwich people then told us, "You can't wait for a cab! You'll be here for hours! You gotta call a jitney! I know a guy. He'll definitely be able to get you to Forest Hills."

I may be a lil' white girl, but I was ready to call that jitney. I have to pause and reflect on this for a moment, though. Why do I need to KNOW A GUY to get home at 10 p.m. on a Saturday? Is this Mayberry? What is going on with this city and the transit situation?

Back to our story, my husband decided to call his mom and tell her what was going down. She much preferred to drive out to get us than have us call a jitney, so we waited the 45 minutes for her to drive in from the North Hills, (all the while eating BMTs and relieving our tired bladders at Subway).

We finally got home around 11:30 p.m. soaked, forlorn, and sure as hell we will never make the mistake of counting on bus or taxi service on a weekend EVER AGAIN. Pittsburgh, is a great city, that is for sure. But "gettin' around" is the Burgh's biggest blemish, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tommy has a new mommy...

Michelle of Burgh Baby took pity upon Tommy and snagged him right before the auction ended for a whooping 99 cents!

(Michelle, please tell me that Tommy won't end up in a "Toys for Tots" collection box this winter! That would be traumatic for everyone involved.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tommy Needs A New Home

I found a terrifying artifact from my childhood this weekend.

Brace yourselves.



Yeah. I keep putting it in the trash, but it keeps crawling back out but I keep pulling it out to show him off to friends and family. What can I say? He's a looker.

And today is your lucky day. Tommy is looking for a new home on Ebay. All profits benefit Burgh Baby's Christmas Crazy, which helps provide toys to children in need during the holidays. Read about the success she had last year here.

Happy bidding.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A moment of self-pity

If you have been a long-time reader, you know that I am constantly fighting a battle against unexplained fatigue. No matter how much sleep I get each night, I wake up feeling unrefreshed and unprepared to tackle the day.

Doctors have misdiagnosed me with narcolepsy. I've seen neurologists who have suspected M.S. My primary care doctor has screened me for anemia, Lyme disease, thyroid disease, and treated me for a B12 deficiency. No luck.

After feeling like I've been given up on, I took matters into my own hands and scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist. (Why my doctor never suggested this to me years ago, I have no idea.)

Last week, after waiting three months for an appointment, I finally saw the endocrinologist. She studied my previous blood work and medical history. She told me she suspected I had one of two things. One thing--Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia-- would explain the fatigue. The other--Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome--would not.

She ordered the appropriate blood work that was needed for a diagnosis. I crossed my fingers that this was it. This would finally give me an answer I've been waiting for for ten years.

The blood test results are in. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. I am really disappointed that my fatigue remains a medical mystery. Actually, "devastated" is the word I would like to use--but I'm afraid it's a little too dramatic for some people. I know people are going through much worse. But I can't help but shed a few tears today in frustration for what I guess could be a lifetime of unexplained exhaustion.

I guess there is still a chance that the PCOS is causing the fatigue... but my endocrinologist does not think so. She was pretty quick to rush me off the phone when she called with my results. I need to see her "in three months if I wish to discuss in detail." Great. I seem to be the only one in a hurry to get this all figured out. It is INCREDIBLY frustrating.

The icing on the cake is that PCOS is linked to infertility issues. As someone who wants to be a mother one day, that's something I cannot even wrap my head around just yet.

To treat PCOS, my endocrinologist suggested that I go back on birth control pills. I stopped them four months ago to see if my fatigue lessened at all off Yasmin (actually the generic: Ocella), a pill which I've heard terrible things about. Not sure which pill I will try next. Waiting to consult my gynecologist before I start taking the one my endocrinologist recommended.

Stay tuned.

Related Posts:
Finally!
That Explains Everything.
It's not all flowers, squirrels, and gingerbread...
Dear Doctor, Fix Me

Monday, August 23, 2010

My dog is kind of an a**hole

You know how Romeo felt about Juliet? Well, that's pretty much how Luke feels about the trash. There is nothing stopping him from being with (read: eating) the trash. We tried everything. Not even a trash can with a locking mechanism could get between this canine and his love for eating grotesque leftovers and other putrid artifacts.

We thought we had foiled Luke's lust for trash eating when we installed an under-cabinet trash mount system this winter. On Saturday, we discovered that after more than six months of basking in the bliss of not cleaning trash off the floor every other day, Luke had taught himself how to OPEN THE KITCHEN CABINETS. If you have a dog, you might realize that this is the equivalent of Armageddon.

After we made this discovery, we did what any sane people would do. We barricaded the trashcan with a heavy chair and went to the home improvement store--making a beeline to the childproofing aisle. We considered all of our options and realized that the layout of our cabinets seriously limited what would work for us. We ended up leaving with a carabiner bungee cord. Upon returning home, Andrew worked his magic, looping the bungee into a configuration that would surely keep Luke from feasting upon our trash for--oh--the bazillionth time.

Yeah. Right.



As you can see in the above photo, Luke is a bona fide a**hole. Not sure what is next for us. I know installing a garbage disposal is a step in the right direction, and we can hopefully do that within the next year. Temporary solution recommendations are welcome, nay, encouraged.

P.S. I know I fell off the blogging truck for a while, but I am ready to make my comeback. I feel a reinvigorated desire to post here again regularly. I have missed you. *hugs*

What do you say? Will you take me back?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unsteady footing

Just when you think you have it all figured out, a little voice inside gradually grows louder until you find it hard to hear much else.

Today, after a month of deliberation, I withdrew from my graduate program. I can explain my reasoning. But I need some time first.

In other news, why is it almost Labor Day? I feel like this summer went by so incredibly fast. I have not made it to the pool once this summer. And my yard. Oh, my yard! There were so many big ideas for this summer. A fire pit. A garden. A Japanese maple. Planting grass in the giant hole, where there once stood a gigantic ugly tree stump. Pressure washing the stone facade. Installing house numbers. None of these things happened. I am waist-high in weeds--trying to let go of my inner perfectionist as I learn to be content with the chaos that surrounds me. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hubby Birthday To You!

Happy 29th birthday to my sweet husband Andrew. You make me laugh with your childlike vigor for life. You fill my belly with delicious and nutritious noms with minimal bloodshed in the kitchen. And you are always up for an adventure. (The horribly frightening warehouse in Homewood full of overturned/damaged furniture comes to mind...)



I am so happy to have you by my side for the rest of my life, as I continue to gamble away all of our stimulus money on the "Deal or No Deal" penny slot machine. (When are we going to the casino? Does tonight work for you?)

You rock. (Literally.) Speaking of rocks, you are also a very worthy rock, scissors, paper opponent. Actually, you should probably try to let me win from time to time to keep my interest. Getting my scissors constantly crushed to bits by your massive boulder is only fun for so long.

Anyhow, love you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Promotions and "Underage" Drinking

Well, folks. It's official. You may have already heard this if we're friends on Facebook or Twitter but in case you missed it... my suspicions are confirmed. I look 12. I just got back from a family vacation cruise and, boy, am I steamed. It was all fun and games until the last day of the trip. I had been working up quite a thirst, relaxing on the deck, when I decided it was strawberry daiquiri o'clock. I marched up to the pool bar and placed my order. Instead of my drink, I received scorn. Lucio the bartender was very skeptical of my age, despite the fact that I presented my seapass to pay. (The seapass is the official form of ID on the cruise, and minors get holes punched through theirs so they can't drink.)

Lucio looked me in the eye and said, "You have some ID?"

Confused because I just gave him my seapass, I said, "Um. I have my drivers license but it's all the way up in my room."

"I can't give you rum without an ID." SINCE WHEN, LUCIO? SINCE WHEN? I had been drinking all week on the damned boat. Oh, and here's the kicker. The drinking age in international waters is 18. Eighteen! I am nearly 27. There is a time when looking young is flattering and then there is a time when it keeps me from fruity rum drinks. And that, my friends, is a problem.

"HE WON'T SERVE ME ALCOHOL!" I cried as I sulked back to my beach chair. "I should have showed him my wedding ring!"

Woulda coulda shoulda. Lucio, you are dead to me.

Don't worry, the story has a happy ending. Approximately ten seconds after returning drinkless to my seat, a waiter came by asking if anyone needed a drink. Ding! Ding!

"She's 40," offered my father-in-law.

"I swear I am not 12!" I promised the kind soul.

He brought me a drink. And I cowered, sipping it in secret, afraid Lucio would spy my fruity beverage and assume I was trying to get away with something.

Anyhow, my loves. I received a promotion at work a few weeks ago and I am quite pleased. However, the fact that the word "senior" is in my new title does not mesh well with my girlish appearance. I need help looking my age. Now, pay no attention to the fact that I don't think I've ever looked my age. People always assumed I was many years younger than reality.

I remember one especially painful instance when I was home from college for the summer running errands. I believe I was 21. I walked in to the bank and the teller squealed, "SOMEONE'S GOING TO BE DRIVING SOON!"

I gave her the dirtiest look I could muster and sheepishly admitted that I had been driving for years and that I was in fact, in my 20s.

Okay. So, your mission, if you choose to accept it:

Send me suggestions for how I can look more polished and professional. I'm 26. Maybe with some help I can at least pass for an 18-year-old on some godforsaken ship where you are deprived of rum.


I made a friend


Formal night


Sassy senior pic pose


I know I could use a new haircut, so send me some inspiration. Makeup tricks. Links to hot business suits. Please. Anything. I'm begging you.

(Someone already suggested that I start smoking meth. This is an example of bad advice. Please and thank you.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Date Night (with my sister-in-law!)

I'm giddy today because I'm going out on a date tonight. With my sister-in-law! Somehow in the four years I have been with Andrew, I have never hung out with my lovely sister-in-law Jessica one-on-one. Her silly brother always seems to be around, eating all the cheese and messing up the table cloth. (Okay, I usually help him with both of those things.)


Me and Jess at my bridal shower last year


Anyhow, tonight Jess and I are going to stuff our faces full of cheeseburgers and milkshakes and see Eclipse. (Did you know Taylor Lautner is in Pittsburgh filming a new movie? Maybe we could add "werewolf stalking" to our itinerary for the evening.)


I am not a dwarf. I am crouching. Like a hidden tiger or dragon or something like that.


Love you, Jess!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Because i know how it feels

*Update: Sadly, the vets decided Fritz's chance at a long healthy life was slim, and was put down this afternoon. All donations already received are being refunded by request or donated to the Dachshund Rescue of North America in Fritz memory.


A little dachshund named Fritz was rescued recently from a possible life of abuse, only to show signs of paralysis days after finding his "forever home." The chance of recovery is very good, but comes with a $7,000 surgery.



When I read about Fritz this morning, a lump rose in my throat for his owners. It is such a gut-wrenching feeling to know something is wrong with your dog and not knowing if you can financially make him better. I've been there. I get it.

You were all there for me during that scary time in February, and now I want to return the favor and be there for Fritz. If you too would like to chip in to the "Fix Fritz" fund, visit Who's Your Dachshund? Every dollar counts. It would also be very appreciated if you could help spread the word about this cause.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Floofiversary!

One year ago today we brought home a certain floofus.



Dear Luke,

Thanks for a year of...


sitting funny...



playing dress up...



shadow puppets...



celebrity impersonations...



being generally weird...




and partying like a rockstar.



Love,
Your adoring humans

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thanks, I guess?

Yesterday, Luke and I walked past a yard full of young children. They were all cooing over the "big doggy" so I brought him over to say hi. One particularly rambunctious girl with short wispy blond hair was quite the chatterbox with us.

"Are you on a walk?"

"Yes, we're on a walk."
"What's his name?"
"His name is Luke."
"Is he a boy?"
"Yes, he is a boy."
A woman who was maybe her mom or babysitter interrupted, "What does the name Luke sound like? Of course it's a boy. But... I guess you never know these days. I mean, we know a girl named Mikey."
"How old is he?"
"Four. How old are you?"
"I'm FIVE!" she proudly proclaimed as she held up only four fingers.
The woman interrupted again, "You are not five. You are four."
The girl seemed unfazed by the correction. She was quiet for a moment as the other children surrounding Luke continued to carefully pet him.
"IFYOUWEREADOGGYIDPETYOU!" she screamed to me so quickly that I honestly had not one clue what she was trying to say.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. What did you say?"
"IF YOU WERE A DOGGY, I'D PET YOU!"
"Oh...?"
The woman interrupts again, "You apologize to her! I'm sorry, she's in a very weird mood today."
"Sorry."



I really didn't understand what about her comment was an insult, but I smiled and told her we'd visit again. Luke was growing nervous as more and more children crowded around us. We continued our walk as I laughed silently to myself and pondered if I should be offended.

Why does it have to be this way?




Grumble.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drooling

I am in trouble. I can't seem to stop coming across things on the Internet that make my heart stop from their unadulterated perfection. Allow me to wipe the drool from my chin for a moment to share these lust-worthy items with you...


Large Jade Bird Bowl by Jonathan Adler



Clock Sweet Tweet Clock with Bird by AtlasSigns

Imagine this clock in the Copper Verdi (blue/green patina) finish. Want.

And to demonstrate that my interests are diverse and I'm capable of liking things that are not birds...


Snake Corset T by Thief&Bandit



Oh, here's a tissue. You have a little slobber on your chin...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Final Plea

I marching for Maddie again this year at the March of Dimes' March for Babies. The walk is this weekend and I'm $160 short of my goal. Please donate in Maddie's honor if you can.




March for Maddie '09


XOXO

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Does PostSecret Ever Make You Cry?

This secret from last week's PostSecret post broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes:



I don't want to think about living in a world where either of my parents does not exist... but when their time comes, I hope we will have many adventures in my dreams and that I will never be truly without them.


<3

Friday, May 7, 2010

Emo ghosts?

The other day I had the urge to put on some music while we were in the midst of our usual rush-around-to-get-out-door morning routine. I opened i-tunes and put on something lively (Miley Cyrus may have been involved. Oh, the shame!) and continued getting ready for work. Right before the song ended, the sounds of Dashboard Confessional flooded my home. I froze with makeup brush in hand. Of course, I immediately jump to the conclusion that there is a very emo ghost around determined to impose its musical tastes upon me. Now, I wasn't all that concerned because there are worst kinds of ghosts you could have--like maybe a ghosts who like to listen to Danny Gokey, The Beastie Boys, or Creed. Still, I had to investigate.

Andrew was downstairs (ironing! yes, my husband does that) and as far as I can tell, Luke hasn't figured out how to manipulate the computer yet. I was befuddled and slightly freaked out.

Relief rushed over me when I realized the song had been changed with Andrew's remote feature on his iphone from the basement. And yes, he was trying to scare me intentionally. (Because that's what people who love each other do, right? At least, that's what we do in our house. I don't know how you people express your affections, but would love to be enlightened.)







BOO!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's official

I'm in! :D

I won't be taking any graduate level courses until the fall semester begins. Though I am enrolled to take a prerequisite course this summer, which starts in two weeks. So I guess it's time to buy some notebooks. I'm a student again. Wow!

Monday, April 26, 2010

You need to read this

I come to you today with something very important to share. What I am about to show you might change your life. So if you aren't prepared for something so drastic, please avert your eyes.

I present to you: the weirdest looking fish ever.


Ohai! I iz a cowfish.



My flesh is poisonous! I kiss you!



I have weird horns so you can't swallow me!


We spotted this thing in an aquarium in a bar downtown last night. It left big smooch marks on the side of the tank in the algae. After asking the bartender what kind of fish it was, I began researching it. I learned that if you stress the fish too much, it will release a poison that can kill all of the other fish in the tank.

Also, if you look closely, you'll see it has some kind of leg-like limbs sticking out of the back of its body... almost like it started to evolve but then was like, "Wait. You know what? Being a fish is cool. Nevermind."

That's all for now. Thanks for your vegetarian recipe/cookbook suggestions! We're going to order one soon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remember me?

Geeze, doesn't anyone take care of this blog anymore? Look at all of these weeds! Total dilapidation. (Hey, isn't that a dinosaur?)

I can't say that I'm back for good, but it's time to check in. Who left all of these lights on? Were you people raised in a barn? (I never really understood that saying. Do barns have a lot of lights in them or something?)

I'm still waiting for my official acceptance letter from the graduate program. I know the director told me I'm in, but when you are as good at worrying as I am, you don't let something like that stop you.

Since the last time I've updated, my home has become overrun with spiders. Andrew refuses to kill them because he apparently only kills "gross" bugs. Therefore, if the spider doesn't look like it has fur or enough guts to audibly crunch when stepped on, he lets it live on our ceilings in perpetuity. I hate it. So out of necessity, I've had to take on the role of Spider Evictor Extraordinaire. Using empty yogurt cups or the lids from Chinese takeout, I scrape the little bastards from the walls and ceilings (if I can reach) and then throw the entire contraption outside while screaming. I've really perfected the process. (Now is the time for you to verbally lash my husband for leaving me to the bug removal duties. Thanks.)

Let's see... what else. What else...

Oh! After watching only 5 seconds of Food Inc. (a film that exposes America's industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers' rights) I decided I can no longer consume food that was once a tortured animal. Andrew and I are not going full vegetarian/vegan, but we are going to cut back on meat and buy locally, organically raised products exclusively. Also, as much as it pains me to admit this, I don't think I will ever be able to enjoy a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's again.

I will never give up sushi... so my goal is to one day be a pescatarian--eliminating all meat and poultry from my diet.

Andrew would like to buy a vegetarian cookbook but isn't sure what is out there. I know I have some veggie readers out there, so please chime in if there are any books or tips you would like to share/suggest.

XOXO

Friday, April 2, 2010

A few steps closer

Oh my gosh! I am just so excited right now. Things are falling exactly into place.

I met with the director of the program to which I applied and she told me that I'm in. It's not official yet, but I'm taking her word for it! :D

This afternoon I talked to my boss about the program and she shares my excitement. She said she will be as flexible with me as possible to help me complete the degree. (Classes start at 4:30 p.m., so with her blessing I can leave work 45 minutes early two days per week. That's a big deal!)

Want to know more? It is a master's of education degree--but I won't be a teacher. The degree will allow me work in the homes of very young children with autism--equipping the kids and their families with skills they need to confront day to day challenges. I'll also help them navigate the myriad of services available to them.

This is exactly the kind of work I've felt led to do for a few years. I'm so happy that I found a program so aligned with my interests. And the cherry on top is that through my benefits at work, I will only have to pay 10 percent of the tuition. A master's degree student-loan-free. Can you believe this? Ahhhh!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cat's outta the bag

I am thinking about going back to school for my master's degree. I've already missed the application deadline but I've made a good impression with someone influential in the program and I'm being encouraged to apply despite the deadline of March 1.

Because I'm already late I've been scrambling for letters of recommendation, requesting transcripts, and getting information regarding program prerequisites and trying to figure out how I can fulfill them as quickly as possible.

I don't want to give too much away at this time--but this would be something entirely new for me. I currently work as a publicist and though I don't hate the work, I feel like I'm supposed to be doing something else with my short time here on Earth. Life is too short to spend it doing something that leaves me unfulfilled. Applying to this master's program is my first step in rectifying that.

So wish me luck and please pardon my void here on the interwebz.

XOXO

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ohai

I have been MIA on these here Internets for quite a while. Just checking in to say, "Hi! I like you!"

I am in the midst of some big things and I don't have much bloggy time right now. I hope to resume our regularly scheduled nonsense soon.

Love,
Mermanda

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I've got the itch

Never have I been one of those people with an endless list of allergies. Since I was a child I've had an allergy to dust and pollen. As a teen I discovered I was allergic to sulfa drugs. I learned that one the hard way. I took Bactrim, a regularly prescribed antibiotic. My lips swelled. My back broke out in a rash. And I had never been itchier in my life. I would have crawled out of my skin to escape the discomfort if it was possible.

Without further boring you with my medical history, I am going to cut to the chase. Things are getting a little carried away.

Now I can't eat certain raw fruits and vegetables without my entire mouth and throat bursting into an itchy fury. This is commonly referred to as oral allergy syndrome or OAS. My offenders include:

  • bananas *sob*

  • sugar snap peas

  • black berries

  • strawberries

I also discovered this week that I can no longer consume dried apricots... and... this pains me very much... wine! WINE! Why have you forsaken me, Baccus?

Anyone have any crazy food allergies they'd like to share with me?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My astute observation

When you see American Idol Season 9 contestant Casey James...




...Does a certain Sex and the City hunk* come to mind?




Or is it just me?

*You're welcome.

March for Maddie

I'm joining the March for Maddie again this year. You can support the March of Dimes by donating below. Or visit www.marchforbabies.org and start your own team today!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Something new: "Have A Good Sandwich" in the spotlight

I'm contemplating starting a regular feature where I give props to one blog post per week that I find to be especially intelligent, funny, and/or memorable. My track record with keeping up with regular features is shaky at best. So I'll be mulling this over. But in the meantime... consider this to be the pilot post of such a feature.

The first blog in the Cusp of Normal spotlight is Have A Good Sandwich by Pittsburgher Mike Woycheck. I have known of Mike for many years, as he's the "butler" behind That's Church, formerly The Burgh Blog. However, it wasn't until he started following me on Twitter in the past month or two that we have gotten to know each other... at least as well as you can get to know someone through their tweets and blogs.

It hasn't taken me long to realize Mike is good people. Of course, anyone in Virginia Montanez' entourage has to be Very Good People.

On Monday, Mike published a very entertaining post about his young daughter's future career... as a coroner! It's both adorable and creepy. Please pay him and his crime scene a visit.

Thanks for being a pillar of the Pittsburgh social media family, Mike!

UPDATE: I should have also mentioned that Mike is the co-founder of Pittsburgh Bloggers, runs local T-shirt business Wear Pittsburgh, and has helped to organize Podcamp Pittsburgh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why do they call it a "turkey," anyhow?

Andrew and I are in a bowling league. (I know, I know...) I thought it would be a good way to force ourselves out of our hermit-like existence and allow us to spend some quality time with friends a few nights each month. (Yeah, we don't get out much in the winter.)

Some things I should have considered before joining our friend's league:
1. I hate bowling.
2. I am REALLY bad at bowling.
3. Rushing around after work in order to get to the bowling alley SUCKS.
4. The league is approximately 1 million weeks long. Seriously. It NEVER ends.
5. It is expensive. When the whole thing is said and done, we'll have spent about $500 on BOWLING. What. The. Ferret.
6. See #1.
7. Bowling alley food does not a dinner make.
8. Bowling shoes. Gross.
9. See #1.
10. My team has lost twice as many times as the other teams in the league.

Yesterday was easily the most painful night yet.

First, our bowling lane was apparently having some kind of mental breakdown because we would need to call an employee over after almost every frame because the pins would not re-rack themselves correctly.

Second, two of our teammates were on call for their jobs and kept getting paged/called, leaving us waiting ten minutes at a time for them to bowl their turn. (I am sure the team we bowled against was equally amused by this.)

Third, our sad malfunctioning lane was next to the lane of another league's team. This team was actually pretty hardcore. Matching t-shirts. Company sponsor. The whole shebang. That in itself isn't a bad thing. The bad thing was that they told my team off for "having no lane etiquette."

Okay, I'm the first to admit that no one ever taught me "the law of the lanes." Basic common sense has told me to wait for the bowler next to me to throw his ball before approaching to throw mine. But what I did not know is that it is considered rude to be anywhere on the lane at all when the bowler in the lane next to you is bowling. Even if you are extremely tiny and leaning against your ball return, waiting for your filthy 8-pounder to roll back to you. I mean, I don't even understand how he could have seen me out of the very corners of his peripheral vision. But he definitely DID see me. Because he gave me hateful eyes and said to me gruffly, "Would you mind stepping off the lane?"

I don't know how me standing six feet from him was impeding his bowling concentration, but I silently stepped off the lane.... as I mentally stuck out my tongue out at him.

Is there some kind of bowling cotillion I can sign up for? I don't want to disgrace myself with poor bowling manners ever again. I have far too much humility for such things. Should I hold out my pinky when I throw my ball? I have no idea what other bowling offenses I have committed.

And the final nail in the coffin was when one teammate who was on call had to actually leave the third (yes, THIRD!) game early when a work emergency arose. In order to figure out how to keep the game moving with her gone, we called over our friend Chris who is the bowling league commissioner. Chris was three sheets to the wind* and had no idea what he was doing as he pressed a clusterferret of buttons on the screen. Whatever he did resulted in two of our teammates being on their 8th frame while I had yet to bowl my third frame. And the other team? The other team had nary thrown a ball.

All of these factors contributed to us not getting home until almost 11 p.m. Oh, bowling night. Thank God there are only 73 more of you.

*Early yesterday morning, Chris swore he saw a ghost. In a bathrobe. At his inlaws' house, which his wife has sworn for years is haunted by ghosts who make much use of the pool table. Chris decided to get obliterated at the bowling alley so he would be drunk enough to fall asleep--instead of shaking in fear of the robed ghost all night long. True story.

Monday, February 22, 2010

New expletive of choice

This weekend, wanting to share with Twitter my disdain for my recent experience at the DMV, I typed "Grrrrr!" Except, my phone immediately changed this to "Ferret!" And you know what? In retrospect, I'm okay with that.

Here's to embracing "Ferret!" as the new F-word.


The Official Easter Ferret. Coming to a mall to terrify children near you.


Fun fact: Did you know that Pittsburgh is home to the Three Rivers Ferret Council?


You really can't make this stuff up. I wonder what goes on at a Ferret Council meeting? Weasel war dance, anyone?

Now, back to work...

...Ferret.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Look at Cusp of Normal!

Andrew has been wanting to create a new banner for my blog for quite some time. And tonight he hunkered down and made this darling little thing. What do you think?

Photo by Sandy Yetter with Red Lotus Photography.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lukey Gosselin

My mom and I took Luke to the vet on Friday for yet another blood and urine test. Yes, urine test. I had to take a sample with us to the visit. Which means I had to catch Luke's pee in a yogurt cup. I was not very confident about my pee catching abilities so I consulted Google. I read that I should tape a ruler or yard stick to the cup and stick it in beneath him mid-stream. I did. And it worked. Score.

I was praying that the vet would relieve me of my worries and tell me he's going to be fine with no long term damage from eating the raisins. And that's exactly what she told me. :D

Luke has been getting extra cuddles lately. And believe me, he's enjoying it.

But I think all the pampering is going to his head... what do you think?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wanting permission to stop worrying

Yesterday, Luke's follow-up blood work revealed that his creatinine levels continue to slowly rise. He was at 2.4 yesterday, up from 2.1 Sunday and 2.2 Monday. I wish someone would just tell me that I can stop worrying about him. Instead they told me to keep him drinking water, as he's dehydrated and that can be contributing to the rising creatinine level.

I found that mixing yogurt with his water will get him to lap it up with vigor. In fact, he drank so much so quickly that he immediately threw most of it back up. That's helpful, Luke. Thanks.

I had all of his records for the past three days sent to his regular vet for review. They are on the opposite end of the city so we haven't been able to make it there with all this freaking snow. But maybe she'll have some ideas about how to monitor him for the next week or two. Or even better, maybe she'll say the magic words... "He's going to be fine. Stop worrying." Ah, that would be music to my ears.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

He's home

We brought Luke home from the animal hospital this afternoon. His creatinine level was a little higher than normal, but not high enough to put him in danger. He will have one more blood test tomorrow as an outpatient. As long as that one is near the normal range, we should be home free.

He isn't himself right now. The past few days have obviously taken their toll on all of us. His collar was covered in a black tar substance when we picked him up. It took me a few minutes to realize it is the remnants of the activated charcoal they gave him on Sunday.

His collar and dog bed cover are in the washing machine. And he's getting some much needed rest in his favorite spot on the couch. Hopefully after the blood test tomorrow (if we can make it there... #snomg2), things will quickly get back to normal around here.

Andrew and I thank all of you for your prayers/good thoughts/crossed fingers and paws. And to those of you who donated to the Luke Recovery Fund, you are amazing. I'm taking down the donate button this evening, but all of the donations we have received in the past 24 hours are going towards the hefty bill for his hospitalization. We can't thank you enough. I am thinking about ways that I can express our thanks... so be on the lookout for that in the future.

Oh, and one more thing... Luke says "thank u" too...



Keep those fingers and paws crossed for good results following Luke's final blood work tomorrow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Please pray for Luke


Last night we left the house for ten minutes to pick up wings for the Super Bowl. We came home to find Luke had gotten into some bread that was wrapped up and sitting on the kitchen counter. The problem is, the bread had raisins in it. As soon as I made this realization, I lost it. Panic mode set in and I could barely use the computer to search for an emergency vet. We loaded Luke in the car, as I cried not knowing what would happen to my pup.


For those of you who don't know, raisins and grapes are very deadly to dogs. They cause kidney failure. It isn't known how many are a cause for concern, and each dog reacts differently. We guess that he ate about 20 raisins.

The emergency vet made us wait an hour and a half before seeing him. If that is how you triage a dog who ate what is essentially poison, I'm shocked. I was ready to seriously lose it on the receptionist for making us wait so long (the other dogs being seen were not critical, some had arthritis, some needed stitches but were stable.)

They decided to induce vomiting. Except he wouldn't bring anything up. We decided to admit him to the hospital so they could give him activated charcoal to try to move everything through his system as quickly as possible, as well as keep him on fluids and monitor his vitals.

I called for an update this morning and his vitals are still good and he passed the charcoal. Today is the scariest day because it takes about 24 hours for the raisins to affect his kidneys. I've never been more scared in my life. I can't lose my buddy. :(

They quoted us $1,500 to keep him for three days. That is money we don't have, folks. We're trying to come up with what we can--today I'm going to try to sell my wedding dress. It's for a good cause. I'm not sad about it.

Please pray for him.

I thought about this for a few hours today... putting up a donate button on my blog. I hate asking for money--I know everyone is struggling in one way or another right now. So, please do not feel in any way obligated to give. But if you do want to help, the button is below. $1,500 is on the conservative end of what it could cost to save our boy. If his kidney levels do go up today, a much more aggressive treatment is in order. And that? We might have to refuse if we can't pay for it. It will break my heart but we just don't have many options.

[Removed paypal link for security reasons, but a gigantic thank you to those of you who donated.]

Thank you,
Amanda & Andrew

UPDATE: IF YOU DONATE THROUGH THE PAYPAL BUTTON, IT MAY TAKE FOUR DAYS TO SHOW UP ON YOUR ACCOUNT AS I'M IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING THE ACCOUNT VERIFIED.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Laughing at myself


Today I am home sick. When I finally made it out of the bedroom and into the living room, I sat down at my desk to use my computer.

After a few minutes, I saw a man crawling through the bushes towards the window. So, I did the first thing that entered my mind. I hid. I leapt from the chair and cowered in the corner just to the right of the window. My heart was racing. I wondered if he had seen me. And THEN I realized something. He wasn't crawling towards the window. He was crawling towards our gas meter. He was just the meter man.

At least, I hoped he was the meter man. Because no sooner than I had my epiphany, I saw the same man walking to our front door.

You guys? I was so brave. I answered the door. But had he been ten minutes earlier, he wouldn't have been so lucky. Because I would have still been wearing my teddy bear robe. Which means, I still would have been hiding in that same corner, praying he wouldn't peer in through the windows to see if anyone was home.

What am I going to do when I'm a mother? I'm supposed to be the brave one. But no, I'll probably just tell my kids to hide under the bed with me when we hear a scary noise. I mean, if dad's not around. Because if dad is around, he's getting the baseball bat. (Right, Andrew?)

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Say Hello Wave Goodbye"

Andrew and I commute to work together each morning. We are lucky because we save money on gas, parking, and other transportation costs. We also get to start our mornings singing along to the radio together and making fun of the morning show deejays. (God, are they awful!)

This morning, while belting out some Faith Hill...

"IF I COULD GRANT YOU ONE WISH, I WISH YOU COULD SEE THE WAY YOU KISS!"

(editor's note: corniest song ever?)


I saw one of the six or so crossing guards we pass during our morning commute. He waved, and I waved back eagerly.

Andrew interrupted our very spirited rendition of the song to ask, "Did you just wave to the crossing guard?"

"Uh, YEAH! He waved to ME! So I waved ba... ... ... ohh... He wasn't waving to me, was he? He was waving that car on... ..."

"Yeah. He wasn't waving to you."

Cue awkward silence.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'd be mad... if he wasn't so dang cute

Last night, beyond exhausted, I kissed my husband goodnight and walked to the bedroom--leaving him to have free reign of the TV. I put in my earplugs, turned off the light, and settled in for a solid eight hours of sleep. I was almost dancing with sugar plumb fairies when I heard a muffled shouting coming from the living room.

Andrew knew that I went to bed, so I assumed his shouting was for something important... there was possibly even an emergency.

I ran to the living room, pulling out my earplugs.

"Hey, I had my earplugs in, what's going on!?"

Andrew laughed at the urgency in my voice.

"Oh..." he said clearly amused. "I um... didn't mean for you to get out of bed... I uh... just wanted to tell you... that I'm watching this show about people who are allergic to semen..."

...

...

...

?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Torture? Or high fashion? You decide.


I present to you, Burberry Dog.


(And no, it's not really Burberry. Just a similar plaid pattern. Can you trademark plaid? I don't think that's fair. Then again, I don't think you can trademark freaking smiley face cookies either. Sorry, Pittsburgh. You're wrong on this one. It's just icing, people! Let's take our cookies a little less seriously. They are, afterall, cookies.)

Ahem. If you would like to humiliate suit up your pup, check out DOG-E-DESIGNS. Their website could use a little updating, but the products this Canadian duo produces are high-quality.