Currently: Dec. 17, 2013

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Obligatory #catsofinstagram pic.

Time: 9:10 a.m.

Place: The living room, in my jammies, watching the snow outside on my morning off.

Reading: Believe it or not, I’m about halfway done with A Game of Thrones and I’m loving it. Despite its bulk, it’s a surprisingly quick read – largely because of how plot-driven the story is, but oh what a plot! It’s so easy to zip along, taking in a few short chapters at a time; anyone who claims the book is confusing because every chapter changes perspective are just dumb because it’s really not that hard to follow along. I’m waiting for a little more magic and fantasy, but I’m still enjoying the political intrigue and character development, and will just hold out for more magic later in the series. I mean, there’s dragons somewhere, right?

Cooking: Last week was my Christmas baking extravaganza, in which I made cookies, peanut butter/chocolate/pretzel candies, and brown butter rice crispie treats. Of course, due to some liberal sharing, everything is gone except for some of the candies (don’t worry, I’ll take one for the team here and make sure they’re consumed in a timely manner). I want to make some traditional Christmas sugar cookies, but that might have to wait til the weekend. Can you believe Christmas is NEXT WEEK? wtf.

Exhausted: Despite its relaxing start, last week became emotionally and physically exhausting very quickly. After a lovely day off Monday, I learned my grandmother passed away. After some quick schedule changes, I 1) worked Thursday, 2) drove to Cincinnati Thursday night, 3) attended a funeral and wake on Friday, 4) drove home Friday night, 5) worked 7-4 Saturday, 6) played roller derby Saturday night (MVP jammer again – woo!), 7) worked 7-4 on Sunday. On top of all that, let’s add Detroit’s first major snow storm and terrible driving conditions for nearly all of this. Our roller derby holiday party was Sunday night and despite the fact that our white elephant gift exchange is one of my favorite parts of the season, I couldn’t find it in me to go out yet again and skipped the festivities.

Looking Forward To: What will hopefully be a relaxing next few weeks. Tomorrow I’ll be enjoying the massage I received for my birthday – s0 excited. Roller derby is also done for the year, meaning a few weeks without practice. This Friday, Joel and I are going to spend some time in Ann Arbor getting acquainted with the engineering department at the University of Michigan, ahead of Joel’s first day of grad school in January. We’ll be hitting one up of A2’s more famous eateries for lunch, and then spend the evening at Detroit’s historic Redford Theatre for a showing of my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. Sunday is for Christmas cookies and maybe hitting up a mall for some last-minute Christmas browsing. It’s going to be great. Oh, and seeing The Hobbit, whenever we get around to that.

Annoyed: That my parent’s Christmas gift has not yet shipped. Grrr. Also, I have to work both Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas this year, meaning only a quick visit home for the holidays. Sigh.

Thankful For: The snow tires Joel put on my car right before our drive to Ohio last week – just n time for a lot of crappy snow driving. Of course, they don’t have rims (Joel insists I chose this feature but of that decision I do not recall), so my new pretty Cruze looks a little ghetto.

Anxious About: The house-hunting process. We found a simply perfect home that isn’t yet for sale, but will be listed sometime early next year, in one of our choice neighborhoods – and in our price range – and while it’s exciting, it’s also nerve-wracking. I can see this entire house hunting process being completely emotionally exhausting, and I’m worried it will be filled with disappointment. Of course, that’s also balanced by the excitement of finding our first home and making it our own, plus finally having the money to do so. Oh what a year 2014 will be …

Currently: December 9, 2013

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Harper enjoying a lazy morning in bed, watching the snow (and the birds).

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Place: On the couch, listening to classical music and sipping coffee ahead of a very-much-appreciated day off.

Reading: I’m just about done with Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, which I am enjoying immensely more than I thought I would. I’m excited to finish, though, because next up: Game of Thrones! It’s a little nerve-wracking (Will it live up to all the hype and all my expectations? Will I be one of those who can’t stand George R.R. Martin?), but also exciting because I haven’t explored a new fantasy series in probably 10 or so years, when I first picked up the Lord of the Rings series.

Cooking: Since I don’t have much to do today, but every other evening is busy this week, I’m planning on getting a lot of cooking done today. I’m thinking: homemade chicken noodle soup, sausage stuffed shells and a gnnochi bake for tonight. So delicious.

Excited About: The Hobbit premiere this Friday! It’s going to be rough, because I have to work at the store at 7 a.m. Friday morning, but still, so totally worth it because it’s The Hobbit and The Hobbit is awesome.

Anticipating: The arrival of all the Christmas presents I ordered! I have a few more things to pick up tomorrow, but then I’m ALL DONE. I did most of my shopping online this year, as opposed to previous years when I made my way to the shops and bought gifts in short bursts. However, that method always results in me procrastinating because, really, who wants to drive to the mall on an errand when that’s what 10,000 other people are doing on a Saturday afternoon? Also, working retail has left me jaded about the whole “Christmas shopping experience,” particularly my desire to deal with other shoppers. Shopping online gives you the freedom to browse and make decisions whenever you want – mall traffic free. There’s also incentives to buy a bunch of things at the same time to save on shipping. Anyway, I’m very satisfied with my gift-buying-decisions this year, and hope everyone loves them. I spent more than I anticipated, but then, that’s life.

Impatiently Waiting: For the arrival of my new Columbia coat! The tracking says it might arrive tomorrow, though it’s waiting at a post office a mere 5 miles away, so I’m hoping it comes today!

Looking Forward: To a day in my jammies and socks, hanging out at home. I am never off on Mondays (I usually close), so I’m not sure what to do with myself. The big thing is, I don’t have roller derby tonight, so I literally have the whole day free. This is a luxury of which I am unaccustomed to. The good news? Even though it’s the last week of the semester, I am THIS CLOSE to being done with all my finals, and so I reallhave nothing to do today. I’m thinking: 1) finishing the programs for the roller derby bout this weekend; 2) cooking; 3) exercising; 4) a long, hot shower; 5) coffee-sipping; 6) reading; 7) watching the goldfinches enjoy the birdfeeders outside our living room window; 8) root for more snow. I mean, what good is a day off with nowhere to go if you can’t be pleasantly snowed in?

Monday Update: Dec. 2, 2013

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Our Christmas tree is up!

Time: 4:45 p.m.

Place: In my living room, chilling with some hot apple cider after a long, long day.

Reason for the long day: Two words: jury duty. I was first called for jury duty back in August, but I was able to snag a postponement because I was just about to start my job with 2nd & Charles and needed to fly to Alabama for training. When they postponed to Dec. 2, I thought, “Eh, whatever.” Not thinking that, hey, Dec. 2 begins the two weeks before the end of the fall semester. It also marks the busiest time of the year for the retail season. Anyway, I was not able to postpone again so I showed up, hoping for a boring day of reading and not being picked for a jury. But oh, lucky me, I was part of the very first group taken to a trial, and was the second juror selected for that jury! Yay! Anyway, it’s (hopefully) a short civil trial so I figure it’s the best I could hope for (other than not being selected at all). It’s better than being stuck on a criminal trial during finals week – eek!

Reading: So, I was hoping to get some serious reading done today but alas, that was not in the cards. And so, I have still not finished The Razor’s Edge, although I should be doing so very, very soon. Then, it’s the beginning of my winter reading list, which I’ll discuss in depth later.

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Mr. B relishing the fact that he is a cat, and holiday stress, for him, is minimal.

Cooking: Last night, we made the World’s Best Lasagna (named so because it is), though I had the heat up a little too high while simmering the sauce, so it burned a little. Oops! Tonight, I’m making sesame chicken in the crockpot and tomorrow, some cheesy vegetable soup. That’s because between derby and closing shifts, the rest of the week is too BUSY for cooking and is just screaming for a boatload of leftovers.

Relieved: That Black Friday at the store wasn’t a total disaster. I was the closing manager, and we managed to keep things together most of the day, so it felt simply like a busy Saturday. Of course, I had some…difficult…customers who wouldn’t. leave. the. store. after we announced that we were CLOSED. Ugh. I don’t care, sir, if you just bought $300 worth of stuff. You chose to check out 1 minute before we closed our doors, you insisted our cashier read your entire order to you multiple times, and then you loitered while your wife answered a phone call. Unless you plan on paying for our payroll, get your butt OUTSIDE so that I can count the money and get everyone out of here when they’re supposed to.

Excited For: This coat! (http://www.columbia.com/Women%E2%80%99s-Mighty-Lite%E2%84%A2-Hooded-Jacket/WL5033,default,pd.html) I’ve been mulling a new coat purchase for a while now, after realizing that I’m tired of being cold during Michigan winters, and while my pea coats are cute, they’re not made for horizontal snow and 10 degree mornings when I have to dig out my car. I bought the coat from Columbia last night when it was discounted $35, so how could I say no? Just call it my end-of-the-semester present to myself.

Speaking of Christmas Presents: I gotta get on that. I have ideas for just about everyone, though my brothers presents a perennial challenge.

Still Amazed: That not only did I finish a 10K last week, but I actually did a good job! Joel, my brother and I participated in the 104th annual Turkey Trot in downtown Cincinnati, and I was dreading it. I didn’t train beforehand, and I hadn’t been running in awhile. However, not only did I survive, but I managed to run the entire 6.2 miles (the first time I’ve done that…ever), and I finished in 1 hour and 6 minutes, not far behind Joel and my brother! Of course, my legs were INFURIATED with me the next few days.

Monday Update: Nov. 25, 2013

Time: 8:53 a.m. – ah! I have to leave for work in 30 minutes! Boo!

Place: The living room couch, hanging out with the husband because he’s OFF work this week. How lame.

Consuming: Some coffee. Since I last posted one of these, I have become (gasp!) a home coffee drinker. I know, the end of the world must be nigh. I mix a little bit of sugarless caramel syrup and milk into my coffee, and bam! Drinkable coffee at home! I used to pride myself on not needing caffeine in the morning, but now I look forward to my small cup of coffee in the morning. And it is a small cup, not a mug. I can’t take all that coffee yet.

Reading: I managed to finish three books since I last wrote an update, including The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a few days ago. Now I’m onto The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham, which I picked up at the library on a whim, rearranging my reading schedule yet again. This will be the last book I read during my “fall” reading list, though who knows when I’ll be finished.

Stressed About: Why might I not finish a book soon? Grad school, that’s why. I have a paper and presentation due in a week, plus a group project due in another class, and when do I have to work on it? Oh, only the week of Thanksgiving (when we travel) and Black Friday (when I have to work). Every day of my life is meticulously planned out for the next three weeks, but it’s still stressful.

Dreading: Black Friday and this Saturday. Ugh. Working in retail during the holidays is a sure-fire way to lose faith in humanity, and I’m already tired of mean, angry, impatient shoppers. Also, I’m still annoyed my store is open ON Thanksgiving…during the DAY. And so, yeah, If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem. And I hate you.

Really Dreading: Jury duty during the first week of December, also known as finals week. I mean, are you serious?? Hopefully I’ll get some reading done.

Excited About: As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am very happy with my time not owning a smartphone, but I have finally re-joined the world of smartphone ownership. We were finally able to activate my new iPhone 4s (which was free with my husband’s upgrade) yesterday, and I’ve been busy remembering which apps I like and playing with ringtones. The problem is, I can’t really remember the apps I like and I’ve been so technologically un-hip for so long, I can’t remember how to integrate the phone into my life again. Joel was surprised I hadn’t bragged on Facebook or Twitter about having an iPhone again, but I can’t see why it’s a big deal. Now, I need a case.

Not Looking Forward To: I naively offered to run the Cincinnati Turkey Trot, a 10K, this Thanksgiving and I’m already cold just thinking about it. OMG guys, it’s soooooo cold out there. What was I thinking??

Monday Notes: Nov. 11, 2013

Time: 11:40 a.m.

Place: The dining room table, where I’ve been taking lecture notes and making soup all morning.

Consuming: I just finished lunching on some leftover ribs and mac & cheese from our favorite local restaurant, where we ate out on Saturday night. I’m feeling a little bit like a fatty, but that’s OK. Does it help that I’ve drank like 10 glasses of water this morning?

Reading: I’m about three-quarters of the way through Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love, and I’m enjoying myself though I’m a little anxious to be done. As I’ll discuss later, the writing style is highly skilled and lovely, but it gets a little tedious at times. Plus, I recently got the itch to read ALL THE THINGS, and so I’m impatient to burn my way through my TBR pile. Oh, if only I didn’t work…or go to grad school…or have a life…

Celebrating: Joel was recently accepted to grad school…HOORAY! That was the reason for our celebration dinner Saturday night, and I couldn’t be more pumped. He was actually accepted to two programs, including the one program he really had his heart set on. He starts in January and oh, I can already see it: the snow lightly falling outside, the cats snuggling on the couch, and both of us stressing out over homework. Ah, we certainly live the life.

Semi-Disappointed Over: My library’s book sale this weekend. I know, I know – how can I say that?? But when Joel and I headed over there yesterday afternoon, I was a little put off by how crowded the place was (the sale is in a basement space that’s already cramped). Plus, while I’ve scored some excellent finds over the years, I now notice the same titles over and over again, and this year, there didn’t seem to be anything but the old standards. Plus, everything seemed very picked over and while that was partly my fault – we completely forgot about the sale on Saturday – I still wasn’t psyched. I did bring home some winners, though: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (a find that made the whole sale worth it), The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank, and Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. The good news: I think the woman checking us out made a mistake giving back our change, because I’m pretty sure we only paid $2 for four, $1-paperbacks and one $2 DVD. Whoops!

Homemaking: I just finished making a huge pot of this soup for dinner tonight, and for the rest of the week. Meanwhile, last night, Joel made some very manly banana bread (which I love even though I hate bananas), and I made a batch of ginger snaps because, well, we had molasses and a good spicy cookie seemed like a good idea with the weather getting chillier.

Still Can’t Believe: I finished my first 5K last weekend. We ran in the Mustache Dache in downtown Detroit Saturday morning, and I’m happy to say I finished in just over 30 minutes running the entire time! Woo!  OK, I know I’m not that fast but consider: I hate running and it was my first, ever official race. Joel and I also dressed up like Finn and Fionna from Adventure Time just cuz. Good times.

Not Looking Forward to: Finishing the programs for this weekend’s roller derby bout. They are always 100 times more work than I anticipate and really, I don’t have the time to work on them. But then, I said I would, and I can’t go back on my promises. Sigh.

Monday Update: Nov. 4, 2013

Time: 7:30 a.m.

Place: Where else? Still laying in bed, in my jammies. In my defense, I woke up 30 minutes ago.

Consuming: I’m not sure of what I’ll be eating for breakfast or for dinners this week, but I I know what I should NOT be consuming: the bag of discounted Halloween candy we bought on Friday. But there’s Reese’s! And Kit Kat bars! And Whoppers! How can you not eat all your favorites when they’re in one unhealthy bag?

Reading: I finished Dracula yesterday….yes! I’m going to try to write a review of that today before work, as well as start my next book: Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love. Another Pulitzer Prize winner – so excited! Plus, hopefully there will be NO vampires, which is a good thing.

Avoiding: Making all those doctor’s appointments, including some check-ups for the cats. Man, taking both cats to the vets is such an ordeal. However, our boy cat has been snoring a lot lately, and I need to make sure he’s just being adorable and not, you know, sick or something.

Loving: The leaves are PEAKING right now, with my commute lined with the most intense reds, yellows and oranges I’ve seen in awhile.

Not Loving: The cold. It was 34 degrees yesterday at 8 a.m. when I left for work, and 40 degrees when I left at 5:30. Scraping ice off my car in the morning = not cool. In fact, I constantly have this song in my head now:

Constantly Thinking About: School, school, school. On Friday, I spent three hours at a local university library “observing” at the reference desk. It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought, though the desk wasn’t busy and I know the librarians felt the need to talk to me the entire time. Which was fine, because I had some wonderful, informative conversations! But at the same time, the worst thing for this introvert is to feel that others have an obligation to talk to you, which just heightens the awkwardness. Three hours down, though, six more to go.

What I’m Happy I’m Not Doing: Covering elections! This is the first fall since 2010 that I wont have spend driving from polling station to polling station in our small town, asking disinterested voters, “So, what do you really think about *insert random small town issue here*??”

Annoyed: That I was called to jury duty…again! In August, I was called the first week of September, but I was excused until December 2, they said, since I argued I was starting my new job and was traveling for on-the-job training, which was true. But then, ANOTHER district court called me to be “on call” for jury duty for two weeks in October. I was never officially called in, but I did call every few days to check my status. But now, that OTHER court is still calling me for my December 2 date, which is now even MORE inconvenient because it’s right in the middle of finals week. I wonder if they’ll excuse me again?

Looking Forward To: Being off ALL next weekend! On Satuday, Joel and I will be running in my first real 5K, the Mustache Dache in downtown Detroit. Then, I’m just going to enjoy the weekend because goddamit, I’ve worked 8-5 both Saturday and Sunday for two weekends now. The store can just deal without me this weekend.

REALLY Looking Forward To: My public library’s bi-annual book sale, which is THIS WEEKEND! Ah! This is the greatest library book sale I’ve ever seen, with legitimately good books all on sale for $1-$2. Seriously, $1 for a trade paperback! Even though I’ve still got a ton of books I haven’t read around here, I can’t wait to bring home 10-12 more. The question is: go once, or go twice? Monday is bag day, after all.  Here’s my haul from the spring sale in May.

Monday Notes: Oct. 28, 2013

carsTime: 8:30 a.m.

Place: My warm bed, still in my jammies. I love closing on Monday nights…no early Monday mornings!

Consuming: Some water at the moment, though I’m considering some oatmeal for breakfast this morning.

Reading: I’m almost halfway through Dracula and let me tell you: it’s already 100 percent better than The Historian. WAY WAY better. This is the perfect book with which to get in the Halloween spirit, and I can honestly say that parts have already creeped me out. You just can’t mess with the original.

Homemaking: After the fury of last weekend, my homemaking/baking/cooking craze has calmed down a bit, largely due to the fact that I worked all weekend and I’ve got another busy week ahead of me. However, I’m already looking ahead to November and at the list of chores I want to finish before the “fall season” unofficially ends. I need to make some doctor’s appointments and donate some stuff before we’re snowed in for winter. Because the snow is coming, folks. In fact, it’s already arrived. Just wait.

Can’t Believe: That I have a NEW CAR sitting in our parking spot! Last week, we bit the bullet and bought me a brand new 2013 Chevy Cruze Eco and I can’t be more excited.  I mean, it’s new. I’ve never had a new car. And it’s red, and shiny, and has lots of fancy buttons, and it drives perfectly, and there are no problems, and I get good gas mileage, and…and…and. We got it for a heck of a deal – essentially, we got $8,000 taken off the list price after Joel’s GM discounts and the trade-in value for my Malibu, so we would have been stupid not to buy.

Nervous About: I’ll be doing my first reference desk observation this Friday at a local university library – as part of a final project for one my MLIS classes – and I’m a little nervous. Here’s to hoping I don’t make a fool of myself.

Thankful For: Roller derby. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately with derby, what with everything going on last month and then trying to force myself into a normal, less-stressful routine. I let roller derby practice fall to the wayside, didn’t go to a tournament with my team, and the longer I stayed away, the harder it was to imagine going back. But after about two weeks of no practice, I forced myself to go last night and I’m so glad I did. I love those ladies like a second family, skating feels good, I laugh, I exercise and I feel better every time I hit the track. Granted, it’s tough balancing my schedule: roller derby takes a significant chunk of whatever free time I have between my full time job and grad school classes. And it takes a toll on my personal life and my relationships. I still have to cut back on some practices if I want to retain my sanity, but I’m definitely not ready to give it up altogether.