Sunday, August 24, 2008

this post contains little msg and is a good source of lycopene

it's sunday again, and during my current 10-hour stint at the radio station, i've got three major projects to tackle, but the junk food i grabbed on the way in from a restaurant i won't name, except to say that they looked at me really funny when i asked for a paper crown*, has left me feeling bloated and a bit sluggish.

obviously, i'm in no condition to tackle anything serious, like scribbling on avon brochures or pondering the meaning of life.

so, instead you're stuck with ruminations on food and frugality.

as i waited for my meal this afternoon, i camped out by the soda fountain (which, sadly, lacked cherry coke. what is this world coming to?), and made friends with the napkin dispenser. as i grabbed enough napkins for a small third world nation, i found myself reminded of my family's weekly dinners out during our time in baltimore.

you read that right- we ate out roughly weekly. i assume that was the norm back in the 80s, whereas nowadays it seems rare for a family to actually eat at home five or six nights a week. homecooked meals rarely start from scratch, and 9 times out of 10, if you see a family eating together at the table and having an actual conversation, it's because you're sitting in the theater (or your living room, with tv trays), watching a movie.

but i digress....

anyway, our meals out centered around a few restaurants, and only now do i realize why.

surely, in my last 3 1/2 years of blogging, i've mentioned before that i don't come from money. i mean, we weren't living in a mud hut or out of our car or anything like that, but we certainly weren't rich, either. i clearly recall asking my parents how much money my dad made (mama stayed home with us until my sister was in kindergarten or first grade, then worked part time as a substitute teacher before going back to grad school), and being told that he made $32,000 a year. it seemed like a lot of money at the time.

heck, it may have been a lot of money at the time- back when gas was around a buck a gallon and you could still make a call from a pay phone for only 25 cents.

comparatively, between all of my jobs, i think i cleared somewhere around $30,000 last year, and i think if i had even one other person depending upon me, we might well have to check into whether or not bob vila offers any free tips on DIY mud hut construction.**

anyway, in the blissful ignorance of youth, i hadn't caught on to the little ways we stretched the money we had, including our weekly "eating out".

a couple of the restaurants we frequented were actually "sit down" establishments. our favorite chinese restaurant (the "double dragon", where we used to rub the buddha belly on our way to the table) offered those little crispy noodles on every table. we'd dip them into sweet and sour sauce while waiting for whichever entrees mama and daddy had ordered to split amongst the four of us. sibling and i usually got the free ice cream at the end of the meal (to this day, i find mint chocolate chip hard to resist), and we'd each get a mint on the way out. when we were roughly middle-school age (i went to middle school in baltimore; my sibling did not), we also stuck a couple of sugar packets in each of our pockets, because sibling and i figured we could use them to refill the sugar bowl at home.

come to think of it, whether we ate chinese, italian, or mexican, if we were at a sit-down restaurant, we filled up on the freebies (crispy noodles/breadsticks/chips and salsa), and then split two entrees between the four of us.

fast food was a slightly different beast. generally, we each had our own entrees, but a large drink was always ordered, and three straws were stuffed into the plastic lid on the cup. (sibling and i didn't share, but mama and daddy were still on decent enough terms that they did....though that may be because trying to fit four straws into the opening would've been kind of like trying to fit a sumo wrestler into a wetsuit.) leftover ketchup packets were taken home, as well as spare napkins...hence my little flashback this afternoon.

we were in baltimore for a few years before a subway franchise moved in at the bottom of our hill and was added to our dining repertoire. i no longer remember what sort of subs we ordered, but we always split a footlong between the four of us.

remember chicken littles?

on occasion, sibling and i would pile into the car and daddy would drive us across the pennsylvania border to this huge playground (think swings, slides, and not one, not two, but three of those merry-go round things that i can no longer ride without winding up a little queasy), where sibling and i would wear ourselves out running between pieces of equipment. on the way to the playground, we'd stop and grab fast food to take with us to the park. before the days of chicken littles, i conned daddy into splurging on a mc dlt for me, and life was good.

life got better when chicken littles came on the scene. at 39 cents each, i was allowed to get more than one. plus, since kfc offered little packets of lemon juice, my usual water could be turned into lemonade!

(to this day, that "eureka!" moment still ranks just below the day i realized why a fast food joint specializing in roast beef would plausibly be named "arby's")

i don't know that my ice water/lemon juice/sugar concoctions ever had the proper ratio of lemon to sugar and water, but perhaps that's why i still prefer my water with a little lemon to this day.

given my more advanced cooking skills, i could probably get the balance right were i to give it a shot, but although i still grab an extra napkin or two when i pick up my food, and i know for a fact that i have three packets of hot sauce in my backpack (because you never know when you might come upon a half-naked taco), i haven't had a pocketful of sugar in years- probably around the last time i walked out of burger king wearing a paper crown.

*and no, they didn't look at me funny because i was standing in taco bell. i was actually in a restaurant known for giving kids such "royal" treatment. unfortunately, either they've ceased such practices, or the folks working there this afternoon mistook me for an adult.

**i'd suggest an igloo, as my sibling and i have experience in that field, due to the tendency for mother nature to dump a heaping helping of snow upon baltimore's suburbs in the middle of winter. however, if you count only our successful attempts resulting in structurally sound snow dwellings, then we have nothing to brag about.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

drama! suspense! floral arrangements!

when i get around to finally penning (or, more precisely, pounding out) my best-selling autobiography, i don't anticipate it turning out as one of those "mystery/suspense" tomes. i mean, my life certainly isn't boring (though my friday and saturday nights usually are), but i don't generally have or want that sort of excitement.

that said, when i wrote my springsteen post, i left out the entire sideplot. i did so on purpose, out of respect for matthew mcconaughey, who i thought might have finally responded to my repeated calls and felt the need to confirm his affection. (this, of course, would have to be despite the fact that he just had a kid with that model girlfriend chick he's been seeing.)

i'm getting ahead of myself. let me back up for a moment......

so saturday, there we were. SO and i were in the car, headed for the concert in charleston. we were running later than expected. (i considered introducing myself to his friends with an apology for our tardiness. something along the lines of:

"hi. i'm duff. sorry we're late, but you've met my boyfriend, and i'm sure it was about half an hour after you thought you were going to meet him."

thankfully, it didn't come to that- but i digress.......)

i grabbed the cell phone to call a friend at the radio station to ask him to check on something for me, and when i opened it up to dial, i noticed i'd missed a call. this, of course, is not unheard of, since my phone's set to "vibrate", and even when it's on my person, i don't always notice that it's going off. (is that a valid argument for wanting to buy tighter jeans?)

the number on the caller id was nothing i recognized, so i listened to the voicemail and would up rather perplexed by what i heard:

"this is elgin flowers and gifts. we just made a delivery here. it's about 4:01. since you weren't home, we left it at apartment 536."

uh. uhm. what?

a return call was required on two counts:

1. as you may recall (at least, i think i posted about it), a couple of months ago, i had an avon shipment disappear completely off of my doorstep. actually, i take that back. the perpitrators left my two small, heavy boxes of brochures. the other stuff, however, was gone. i still haven't worked out who took it, and since i live on the third floor, my prime suspects are actually my neighbors. i mean, who would make the effort to climb up and down two flights of stairs? anyway, as a result, i don't trust my neighbors as far as i can throw them, and the chick next door is kind of big.

2. flowers? are you kidding? i've never gotten flowers. in fact, it was the unwritten 30th item on my "to do before 30" list. obviously, there's been a mistake.

so, i returned the call....and left a voicemail that in retrospect, may have been a little crankier than usual. i believe i pointed out that standard procedure for deliveries is generally to leave the items in the office, and quite frankly i didn't trust my neighbors, so i was unsure as to whether i'd ever actually receive the delivery. i apologized when the deliveryperson rang my cell at work sunday morning and explained my concerns. i was told if i had any problems, i could call on monday.

alrighty then.

that matter taken care of, i began making calls. keep in mind that the intended call which led to my picking up the phone in the first place, wound up being call #6 or so. suddenly, i had a more pressing matter on my hands: trying to figure out who on earth was behind this, especially since "receive flowers" could only be crossed off of my list under a strict set of conditions.

five calls later, i'd eliminated five suspects. (well, seven, if you count mama saying that my sister, a notorious flower-bestower, was too broke to buy anyone flowers, and SO didn't require a phone call, as he was in the car with me.) the call i finally made to the radio station took care of my eighth suspect, and i was officially stumped.

here's what i'd figured out:

1. the sender knew my address. (with a holiday card list over 100 people, this wasn't much help.)

2. the sender knew my cell phone number. (this narrows things down considerably, as only maybe 20 people have my cell phone number.)

3. the sender most likely sent flowers because they knew i'd never been given flowers. (most people assume that, by the tender age of 30, a chick's been given flowers at some point. if we eliminate a pair of gas station carnations left on my car by a listener in my early days of radio in columbia, which i feel should count about as much as the calories in an unsweetened packet of kool aid, then i had yet to be flowered.)

this left me with an extremely short list of about three. (matthew mcconaughey was the most plausible of the three, which tells you something about the list.)

i actually lost sleep after the concert over this.

well, actually, most of the sleep i lost was because i was still wound up from the concert, and i was waiting for the tinnitus to quiet down a little, but while laying in bed, i pondered the likelihood that this was all a weird mistake and the flowers were really intended for someone else.

the mystery was solved early sunday afternoon, after i returned home from work for my inter-shift nap. i threw everything i'd taken to work onto the couch, brushed my teeth (nothing like teastains to make a great first impression), and knocked on the door of my old apartment.

just as i was turning around to head back to my apartment, i heard locks unlocking (he uses that chain lock, in addition to the knob lock, which is twice as much locking as i ever did, though that could've been because i'm lazy.), and was greeted by an indian fellow (complete with full traditional attire) who informed me that he'd knocked on my door several times the day before.

i looked around the open door, and partially in awe of how clean his apartment was (and you know, i just now realized that i forgot to look and see if he'd replaced the ceiling fan i took with me when i moved), and partially in awe of the fact that here in front of me was a vase of flowers....for me.

it was another half hour before i came out of shock enough to realize, whilst trying to nap, that perhaps my probable exclamation of "holy shit!" may have offended him.*

anyway, for posterity's sake, here's my bouquet. please disregard the cart full of culinary stuff in the background. unlike the neighbor who babysat my bouquet, my apartment is decorated in a style that's a little more "modern chaos" than it is "peaceful calm":

i thought about copying the message, but i think it's still pretty legible in this photo. the backstory, in case you missed my alaskan post, is that i met the guy who sent these to me on the train between anchorage and denali national park. when we parted ways, i headed south to anchorage, and he headed north to fairbanks. i gave him all of my contact info, along with the request that he send me a postcard from fairbanks. apparently, he remembered that i'd rattled "receive flowers" off when listing the unfinished items on my list, and decided to go that route instead.

needless to say, i was more than a little surprised.

mcconaughey's off the hook for now, but i still have space left on my list to add "receive flowers from a celebrity"........

*i say "probable" because there's a slim chance i may have said "holy crap" or "holy cow", but knowing myself the way i do, i'm thinking i went with the big one. at least i avoided the most serious of exclamations (which would involve the f-bomb), so maybe i wasn't in complete and total shock.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

in which i meet someone famous, and have the picture to prove it

i was going to get a head start on the weekend- had a post on the olympics half-finished yesterday and everything. unfortunately, i got stuck and my shift was over before i could get unstuck.....and now you're getting a mostly non-olympic post instead.

sorry. maybe i can make it up to you later.

yesterday, i had my first backstage experience. SO called me at work friday to tell me he'd been offered a pair of tickets and backstage passes to see bruce springsteen and the e street band in charleston and ask if i was interested. considering that i'd asked him if he wanted to go with me back when i found out the tickets were going on sale, it was pretty much a no brainer.

naturally, i was a little nervous, especially since i'm not exactly known for being able to say intelligent things to celebrities...which is why i've sent bodhi to meet and greets in my place in the past. (yes, i know his website is in sore need of an update. as soon as i remember what i switched his login to during the blogger/google transtition, we'll work on getting things updated.)

so, given that bodhi has far more experience in these sorts of situations, i smuggled him into the venue, along with my camera. (SO didn't mind the camera, but i think he was maybe a wee bit embarrassed about the gnome's presence. i think he was worried his coworkers (whom i'd never met before) might think he was dating a 12 year old. i'm sure there's nothing like wondering whether your coworkers are whispering "pedophile" behind your back.)*

anyway, as you can see (sort of), here we are with "little" steven van zandt:

(bodhi is convinced the blurriness is because the photographer was quaking with excitement upon finally meeting his 4" tall idol.)

i can also present you with this much clearer photo of steven's shoulder:

(unfortunately, bodhi was making a second pass at the buffet at this time (there was gouda- who could resist that?) and the moment passed before he made it back to me.)

mark bryan, of hootie & the blowfish, was also in the backstage crowd, and i thought about trying to get a picture of him with bodhi, but decided that discretion was the better part of valor and we headed up to our seats instead.

here was the view from section 109, row g:

this was during one of their better lit moments (during "born to run", or was it "dancing in the dark"? i didn't take many notes, as i was trying to conserve my battery so i could get olympic results from my sibling). most of the other pictures i took are a little...well....blurry.

i think we got up to our seats around 7:30, and the band took the stage about half an hour later, after the crowd got prematurely excited over house lighting coming up (which would be the reverse of what usually happens, but what can i say? the beer lines were long but moved quickly**) and roadies emerging with beverages in between tuning instruments.

preconcert, the head honcho from my clear channel cluster joined the charleston group for a few moments, during which he professed his admiration for the boss and showed off a couple of signs he'd made in his hotel room. previously unbeknownst to me, it is customary for fans, especially those in the pit, to make signs referring to springsteen tunes. springsteen will stand on platforms that jut out into the pit, and pick signs out of the crowd......and some of those songs get added to the evening's playlight. i will have to keep this in mind, because "pink cadillac" was nowhere to be heard last night, and while i can't draw a cadillac, i can draw a vw-ish bug, and the make a reference to cadillacs somehow.

i also learned last night that lil jon was not the originator of "YEA-AH!". i'm fairly certain clarence clemons got there first. furthermore, i think if challenged, clemons could take jon in a fight. he may be in his 60s, but the dude is big. i mean, really big. nils lofgren was hard to photograph last night, mostly because clarence clemons' shadow covered him completely. i've come to the conclusion that either lofgren is a gnome, or else clemons is a giant.

oh- and just in case you were wondering, my sibling is not a springsteen fan. found that out during the encores, as she was texting me with olympic updates. (i was finally able to see both dara torres and michael phelps swim friday night, and was curious to see whether she'd actually get and individual medal despite being "ancient" (when did 41 become old?) and if he'd manage to pull off gold medal #8 in beijing. (in case you've been under a rock, the answer to both questions is "yes".)) in between races, i got the distinct impression that she felt springsteen was overrated...perhaps because, in one of the messages, she wrote, "springsteen is overrated".

as is often the case with siblings and their opinions, i disagree.

*on a semirelated note, i admit i was somewhat checking out one of his coworkers, who, come to find out, is only nineteen. i inquired as to whether he was into older chicks, but SO declined to answer for some reason.

**since the age range of the crowd spanned multiple generations, witnessing someone's grandpa taking out a hip whilst flying down the stairs was also a minor concern. perhaps there should be an upper age limit on frosty beverages at these sorts of events- for safety's sake.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

newsflash: exercise may be fatal...oh- and the new kids are back

things i should probably be embarrassed to admit:

1. even at the tender age of thirty, i still eat all of my spaghetti o's first, and the meatballs or franks last- and preferably with my official spaghetti o's spoon.

2. i sleep with a fleece cookie monster blanket.

3. i have seriously contemplated going to see the new kids on the block when they come to a town near me. (perhaps this is partially because i still feel a little bit empty 16 years after they played in baltimore on my birthday...and i didn't get to go, because we moved to kansas city one week prior.)

3a. i still have both my jordan knight and pepsi magic summer t shirts, and i'm only mildly afraid to wear them.

i seem to be stuck on "summertime" by the new kids, (now short for "(not so) new(ly fully grown men with) kids"), and there's no end in sight. thankfully, it's in rotation in my mental jukebox with kid rock's latest and a rather infectious little tune by (stay with me here) miley cyrus' half-brother's band. (i'm sure he really digs being known as his little sister's brother... but the chances of trace cyrus stumbling upon my blog are- let's face it- slim. i'll apologize if necessary later.)

it's the sort of song that makes me want to hop on the treadmill, which may be a necessity now that i'm thirty and apparently since i'm not married (which the spammers have figured out, given that i now get daily junk mail with the subject line "over 30 and single? better click this link to find out what sort of men you can still attract...unless you're too busy picking up your first ten cats at the animal shelter, that is....."*) i should hurry up and get into shape so that when things start to droop (like my kneecaps) they won't go far. i mean, who wants a chick with droopy kneecaps? i like older men and all, but i don't want to raid retirement homes for a potential suitor who's too blind/senile to notice that i'm no longer the hot babe i was at 29....less than a month ago.

so, to the treadmill i shall go...or should, except for today's little news tidbit. it seems that hopping on the treadmill may be fatal....and that's not even taking into account the fact that i am a natural klutz and therefore am even more susceptible to a treadmill mishap than most.

perhaps my energies would be better spent rooting around in my closet, trying to locate some appropriately ripped jeans to go with that magic summer t shirt.....

*i'll admit it. perhaps i'm embellishing a little bit...but not by much.