I know I declared romance to be all but dead just last week, but I wanted to share a recent text exchange between myself and my spousal equivalent, XFE. I think it perfectly highlights how love (and concern for your partner’s welfare) can continue to bloom despite distance, bad dining choices, and self-inflicted injuries.
Sure, it’s not the passionate stuff we used to send each other 10 or so years ago, but just knowing I can inadvertently scare the bejesus out of XFE on a moment’s notice is it’s own kind of small thrill.
Let me set the scene: XFE was hundreds of miles away on a mid-week work trip in a town with limited dining options. I have made dinner for myself at home, courtesy of Blue Apron.
This fairly typical, totally normal text exchange illustrates a couple of things:
Fried sage is a lovely and tasty garnish, but deceptively dangerous.
I am prone to choking (true.)
XFE is a very tolerant boyfriend who is used to high drama and hyperbole.
Cats are horrible EMTs; ergo:
I will probably die at home alone from a freak choking incident only to be found by XFE days later with a cat nibbling on my toe. (My biggest fear).
XFE: Took the crew to Ruby Tuesday for dinner tonight.
Me: Nice. Did you get fries?
XFE: No, I am having a salad, fish tacos and ice t
Me: If you come home and I’m dead, it’s because I have a piece of fried sage lodged in my throat. On the left hand side. Just scratching and stuck.
Me: Thanks, Blue Apron.
XFE: Try some water.
XFE: R u going to be ok?
Me: It’s just annoying. I’m not coughing or choking or anything.
XFE: Well, the “I’m dead” might have indicated it could have been more serious.
Me: Sorry. It was really annoying.
XFE: Glad ur ok
Me: I think I’m gonna make it. Call off the 911. Petunia finally showed up to seek her dinner, so I feel like I’m in good hands.
XFE: Glad to hear HR has u covered.
Me: You know it. Whew.
Me: Also, I burned my thumb. Knew I shoulda ordered pizza.
XFE: Sorry to hear. R u ok?
Me: Yes, it was actually really good. Now I’m watching a documentary with Toons. Bye.
To quote some crazy dude in Japan’s Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Woman Are Not Attracted To: “The blood-soaked conspiracy of Valentine’s Day, driven by the oppressive chocolate capitalists, has arrived once again.”
I really couldn’t have said it better myself. Although, I do confess a certain fondness for chocolate capitalists.
I’m not sure where The Broken Cookie Bakery and Coffee House is located, but I dig their “No Thanks” Valentine’s Day cookies. I especially like the “You’ll Do,” one. Also, obviously, the “Future Cat Lady” ones.
I’m not sure if this “36 Things I Know After 36 Years of Marriage,” will convince anyone that marriage is fun. Sounds like a hell of a lot of work. But anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship already knows that. There are some good relationship truths in here, whether you’re married or not.
Let’s end on a non-bitter note. This Android commercial of unlikely animal friends made me pretty gushy the other night. The bird feeding pasta to the dog? I mean.
It’s been a busy week here at Poe Communications and Heavy Manufacturing, Inc. Getting back in the freelance grind after the extended holiday, meeting with clients on the coldest day of the year, and assembling a cat scratch post can really take a lot out of a girl. Heck, I even hurt myself at the gym yesterday. Not by over-extending myself or anything, but by just working out at all. It had been a while.
It’s supposed to still be freezing this weekend, so I predict lots of pasta eating, wine drinking and Pinteresting, although I’m sure my head el jefe, XFE is going to try to make me do the gym thing again at least once. Brrr.
Disco clams are a thing and they lure their prey with a fantastic light show before killing them. Or, maybe, they warn their predators away with their light show. It’s still not clear. Thanks, science, for not clearing that up at all. Scientists did, however, rule out lighting-show-as-conducive-to-mating-ritual, which goes against everything I learned back in my clubbing days.
Speaking of snow, this MentalFloss list of obscure regional terms to describe snow will come in handy. The “hinges of hell” one threw me, since I’d always thought that was describing heat. My personal favorite: “Colder than a witches’ teat,” doesn’t seem to have made the cut.
Poe Industries HR President Milady Petunia Potpie is worth approximately -$29.99. Yes, that would be a negative sign. Still, I don’t think I would trade her for the unimaginatively named “Blackie,” a cat worth $25 million, according to this list of the world’s six richest pets. That rooster seems nice, though.
I’m back from the non-stop holidaying extravaganza! As, I suppose, we all are, regrettably. Oh well. #TheStruggleIsReal
My main man-panion XFE took some time off during the holidays so we ate many, many great, decadent, meaty things, and drank many a delicious wine and cocktail (mostly made with gins-of-the-world, a current XFE obsession), and just generally loafed around competing with the cat on who could be more sloth-like.
You know who else loafs (loaves?) around? Sharks! Those guys are totally lazy.
You see, I spent an inordinate amount of 2012deathlyafraidof sharks. I thought they were these ferocious, teeth-grinding, people-killing machines. But through scuba diving the last couple of years, I’ve actually discovered that they’re kinda wimpy, and not really all that scary. (Ssshhh. Don’t tell them I said that?)
Because….Christmas, y’all. In Vegas. So….of course.
We had been on an aquarium dive before. In October, we went up to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and did the Atlantic Coral Reef tank dive there. It was….meh. We had to arrange and pick up our own gear (wetsuits, masks, booties, flippers), we did not actually get to see any of the aquarium (entry tickets had to be purchased separately for around $35 per adult), and the tank, while certainly nice, was a bit small. Plus, there was only one or two flesh-tearing aquatic creatures about, so it lacked a bit of pizzazz. (Actually, I don’t remember seeing any sharks, but the National Aquarium website says there are some, so I guess there were.)
But Mandalay Bay, my sweeties, is in Las Vegas and they bring a whole showmanship to their tank dives.
First, they take you and up to four guests on a tour of the Shark Reef Aquarium, which features over 2,000 animals. Our guide, Janna, showed us around the 14 exhibits, including jelly fish, piranhas, and a Komodo dragon. And of course, the shark tank, formally known as the Shipwreck Exhibit. The 1.3 million gallon tank has around 30 sharks, including sandtiger sharks, a couple of types of reef sharks, zebra sharks, and a Galapagos shark. The tank also has stingrays, sea turtles, a moray eel, and some crazy-looking sawfish.
Then they give you all the backstage tour, including and explanation of the filtration system and a stroll along the feeding platform that runs all above the shark tank. It’s very James Bond-ish.
Then Janna whisked away our loved ones (in our case, XFE’s parents) to go back inside the main shark exhibit while you (the divers) get geared up in the locker rooms. And by geared up, I mean, wedge into the wetsuit and booties they provided and then shimmy into a 14-pound suit of chain mail. Yes. Chain mail. Because they want you to think there’s an element of danger here. Pretty crafty.
Once we were suitable geared up, the incredibly patient and kind team helped us wade into the small holding pool near the exhibit and we did a buoyancy check to make sure everything was working. We also had these ear pieces that were supposed to help us hear our diving guide but really just sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. They did help grab our attention when she (I think her name was April?) was trying to point out something to us.
Meanwhile, they have a videographer recording the whole thing: the divers gearing up (luckily, they don’t include audio so you don’t hear our grunts and cussing), getting in the water, and the view of us from inside the exhibit. In addition, the dive guide had a Go-Pro which she used to record us in the water.
(And I WOULD have posted clips from the final video except WordPress wants me to upgrade my blog plan to $100 a year in order to do that, to which I must say, “hellz no.” Sorry, kids. No MP4 videos on the scrub version of WordPress.)
And, as you can seeby the bits of video I’ve posted, the sharks do not give a shit. They couldn’t have been less interested in us. I feel fairly certain there was a greater chance of one of us divers getting some sort of uncontrollable sushi craving all of a sudden and biting one of them than any of us even getting a tiny head nudge from any of the 30 sharks in that tank.
Here’s how the imaginary shark discussion goes in my mind:
Zebra Shark: “Ugh, these guys again.”
Sandtiger Shark: “I know, right?”
Zebra Shark: “I don’t know why they come down here and bother us if they’re not going to even bring us some tasty chum, like a fisherman’s hand or a small child or something. They’re really just wasting our time.”
Galapagos Shark: “And did you see that chick with the googly eyes? What’s her problem? Did you see how she was looking at me, all terrified and whatnot? As if. I can totally tell by that wetsuit that that girl has been eating way to much cheese and everybody knows I’m lactose intolerant.”
White-Tip Reef Shark: “Yeah, and did you see that one dude go right up to Larry’s face when he was trying to sleep? All he wants to do is take a little nap after swimming around in endless circles and what does that moron do? Swim right up and insist on getting his picture taken with him. Geeze.”
Sandtiger Shark: “Alright, I’m out of here. I’m going to go hide out at the top of this ship bow thing until they’re gone. By my limited edition shark Swatch watch, they’ll probably be in here about another 40 minutes, which gives me just enough time to watch an episode of Shark Tank OnDemand. Get it? See what I did there? Shark Tank? That’s comedy gold.”
All told, we were in the shark exhibit for around 45 minutes. It was pretty great. Unlike the National Aquarium where we were allowed to swim around on our own in pairs, we had to stick with our dive guide, but that was no big deal. We got to hunt in the sand for sharks’ teeth, get up close to a sleeping (resting?) reef shark, dodge sea turtles, and wave to the kids inside the exhibit.
When we got out, we unloaded our gear, hit the showers, and met our guests out by the aquarium store.
Even though I didn’t exactly test my mettle or stare down danger, I can’t say enough great things about the fine folks at Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. It was first-class attentiveness from start to finish. The very thoughtful aquarium staff even had snacks and water set out for you in the locker rooms, which was a nice touch. They also gave us little glass vials of the shark teeth we’d collected (or, in my case, coral because I apparently cannot tell the difference underwater), and certificates to commemorate the day. And, about a week later, an awesome 15 minute video, which includes a very soothing-spa-music-soundtrack.
Maybe that’s why the sharks are so docile. Nonstop soothing spa music.
I got back from Naples, Italy very late last Wednesday and I’m suffering from carb withdrawals. A pasta depression, if you will.
For example, when I walk downstairs for breakfast in the mornings now, there is no artful display of delicious Italian pastries and nobody brings me a frothy cappuccino. There are no royal apartments to tour and gawk at. No afternoon arancini or cone of misto mare eaten while strolling the quaint little streets and washed down with a Nastro Azzurro. It’s all very, very sad.
My re-introduction into American-style domestic responsibility was a bit bumpy. I had to get up very early on Thursday morning to meet the gutters guy from We Get High Roofing and Gutters. Yes, that’s the company’s name. Which made it an easy name to remember, even though I had gotten the recommendation during a very drinky Thanksgiving event.
Anyway, last Thursday’s meeting was early and it was freezing and I felt bad sending Martin up his ladder to our roof, but our gutters and downspout needed cleaning. And I wasn’t about to do it.
Plus we were particularly interested in getting some of those screens put on the gutters to keep the leaves out so we wouldn’t have to get the gutters cleaned out every fall. Martin quickly burst my bubble.
“You have janky gutters,” he informed me.
“Yes, I know, they’re very dirty. Lot’s of leaves. But if we can put those screens on, I think it will help,” I countered.
“Sure, I can clean them, but you have janky gutters,” he replied.
“OK, I get it. The gutters are janky. That’s why you’re here. So just clean them and install the screens and that will be great,” I reiterate. My man-boss, XFE (who was still in Italy for work) had been pretty adamant about getting the screens installed. I really didn’t want to mess this directive up.
Also, as this point I’m thinking, “dude, you’re being awfully judgmental about my gutters. I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen worse.”
“I cannot put the screens on because you have janky gutters,” Martin informed me.
What the hell? I’m thinking, is this guy trying to upsell me into installing totally new gutters or something? What’s his game?
“Janky gutters are very nice, very authentic, very popular in this area, all the houses have them. They’re historic,” Martin tries to reassure me. “But you can’t put the screens on them because they lay flat. That’s why you can’t see them at the roofline. See?” Martin shows me pictures of our roof that he took on his phone.
Finally, it occurs to me: Martin is explaining that we have YANKEE gutters. Yankee. Not janky. I mean, they were janky, as in dirty and filled with leaves, but they didn’t need to be replaced. And you couldn’t put screens on them.
Martin’s accent and my still-on-Italian-focused ear were not getting along that morning. So, I let Martin get on with his excellent work (I really do recommend them. He did a great job for a reasonable price and provided lots of before and after pictures.)
Meanwhile, I slunk inside, made some non-frothy, non-cappuccino coffee, and wondered if the Royal Palace in Naples had Yankee or janky gutters.
Despite having family and friends who are into hunting for both sport and sustenance, I am not a fan of guns. Like, at all.
I’ve seen firsthand how guns can be used as weapons of intimidation in domestic abuse situations. There’s nothing that will cool your feelings on guns like seeing a supposed “head of household” brandishing a deadly weapon when he feels he’s been disrespected by his minions who were putting away the dishes too noisily.
Or, let’s say you’re a young girl and your primary caregiver keeps lamenting she doesn’t want to live anymore and you know for a fact that she has a gun stored under her bed (for safety, of course, although who would have wanted to break into our crappy trailer and what the hell would they have stolen? That horrible collection of dreamcatchers purchased at truck stops on Mother’s Day and birthdays? I think we’d all would have been better off if those would have disappeared.)
Anyway, scenarios like that will give you a lot of sleepless and insecure nights, let me tell you.
So yeah…me and guns? No thanks.
Therefore, it is with GREAT interest that I peruse a particular catalog we receive around here at Christmas every year.
Behold: The National Rifle Association Store Catalog.
It obviously is not addressed to me. But another person in our household is a lifetime NRA member, thanks to a grandparent, I think.
There is major theme I noticed in the 2014 catalog: concealment. Weapon holders feel very insecure about their weapons. They want to hide them, conceal them and transport them. A lot.
They want to hide guns in their homes.
They want to hide guns in their briefcases and iPad cases. In clocks and in fake books.
They want to hide guns on their bodies. And on their ladies’ bodies.
They want to hide guns in their cars.
And they want to take all of them, all of the guns, ALL OF THEM, to the shooting range. In disguise as a backpack of course.
I’m actually surprised and maybe a teeny bit disappointed that they didn’t have any pet holsters available.
(How are you going to say this item is “remarkably versatile” when it has a foam core in the shape of a gun? Remarkably versatile provided you are trying to transport a large shotgun and/or rifle. Transporting soccer balls? Not so much.)
I also noticed that the NRA isn’t just for gun lovers. Oh no, no, no. It’s for historians and interior decorators. Who want to store and hide their guns.
And doomsday preppers. Or other people concerned about water quality.
The NRA Store is also seeking to appeal to fashionable ladies. Particularly fashionable ladies that need to conceal their weapons. Apparently, a regular purse just won’t do. Because I absolutely hate it when I reach into my regular purse for my gun and come out with just a tube of lipstick. Uuuuugggghhh. Am I right, ladies?
So really, there’s something for everyone at the NRA store. Yep, one-stop Christmas shopping at its finest.
While it’s generally well known that I have a very handsome in-house personal-chef-for-life, I too, can combine raw ingredients into something passably edible. Or, at least not poisonous. (I just scoured this website for a picture of me cooking and found nothing. NOTHING. I was sure there was a picture of me stirring a pot somewhere, but no.)
And, now that I work from the spacious Poe Industries World Headquarters (ie: home), I’ve been stepping up and cooking more often.
Truth be told, I tend to lean towards large, stick-to-your-ribs meals that would feed a small yet hungry army, with a particular tendency towards casseroles smothered in cheese until unrecognizable. This weekend’s offering definitely falls in that category.
I saw this eggplant parmigiana on some Food Network show. Something along the lines of “Best Cheese-Covered Mess I’ve Ever Eaten/Made.” (Actually, here it is, and it was called “Best Thing I Ever Made – Fry It Up”) Alex Guarnaschelli, who has the most impossible last name ever, was raving about it. Seriously, I almost gave up on trying to find the recipe because of typing in that last name.
Now, I don’t find Chef Alex particularly enchanting. Her delivery is pretty boring actually, and she looks just like a former friend who literally just up and stopped talking to me right around the time I met XFE – never did solve that particular issue/mystery, but I’m sure my happiness was totally annoying to her.
But, Chef Alex does have some meat on her bones, and I tend to trust chefs that actually look like they eat. Never trust a skinny chef is one of my life mantras.
This recipe was fine. I wouldn’t say it was easy. And, you will use every damn cooking utensil in your house. At one point, I had four cookie sheets at play, and three pie plates that I was using as a dipping/breading station.
There are also a lot of steps that I think could be skipped. For example, making your own sauce. Yeah, it’s not like that’s a hard thing to do, but probably not necessary. In our case, one of the reasons we were making eggplant parmigiana is that we had some crushed tomatoes in the freezer from last year’s amazing tomato crop. So I swapped those out for two of the three cans of whole tomatoes the recipe called for, and just used one can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. If I made this again, I’d just buy a good, premade sauce and save myself some time.
Also: in the recipe, Alex says you don’t have to salt the eggplant and let them sit for an hour, but really, who wants bitter eggplant?
My other quibble is that we were told to use a 9 x 13 casserole dish, which I did. However, in the recipe, she suggests you can get three layers in that thing, which was not the case in our house. We used two medium-sized eggplants and got two generous, overflowing layers in the pan, so it worked out fine, but definitely not three layers.
Ours was a bit watery at the end. Some moisture on the bottom of the casserole dish. XFE noticed it when he was wrapping the leftovers to put them in the fridge. I don’t know if it was because I used too much sauce or because of the tomato swap out, and it wasn’t a ton, but maybe more than we expected(?).
I also question the necessity of breading and frying the eggplant. I’m not a big fan of frying in general (not for health reasons or anything. It just makes the house stink, in my opinion), and the final product was really a cheesy mess. You definitely don’t get any fried crispiness. But again, maybe that was because of the tomato/watery situation. Hard to tell. After dinner, XFE pointed out that Trader Joe’s has fried eggplant slices in the freezer section, so if I made this again, I might use that short cut as well, since home frying didn’t seem to make a discernible improvement to the final product.
However, with all that being said, this eggplant parmigiana was really, really good. Downright delicious. I mean, how could it not be? It had like a couple of pounds of cheese. It was basically an ooey, gooey Italian cheese delivery system, which is just fine by me. And our tomatoes tasted amazing, really bright and summery, so it was a good use of those.
Can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch this week. Maybe with a side of cheese, eaten Bleona style.
A male TV host wore the same suit every day for a year and no one noticed. I’ve conducted a similar experiment here at Poe Industries during this week’s artic asskicking. I’ve worn the same Uggs-yoga-pants-woolly-cardigan combo every day and so far, my co-worker and head of HR Petunia Potpie seems not to really care.
As someone who lives only one metro stop from Reagan National Airport right outside Washington D.C., I was aware of some of the air restrictions that exist over D.C., but a nuclear facility near Amarillo, Texas. Who knew?? The fine folks at Mentalfloss, that’s who.
OK, fine, that’s a bit dramatic, I suppose. He’s travelling for work this week.
It’s actually been several months since XFE has been a work-road-warrior. I’d gotten pretty comfortable with him around all the time.
Which is why it feels like total desertion.
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s leaving the frigid Arctic of D.C. for the sunny shores of California this week.
I’m more than a bit jealous. But I do have to admit, sometimes having perspective on these things is a bit difficult.
For example, there’s what I imagine his flight and arrival are like:
After five hours of guzzling champagne and imbibing in warm macadamia nuts, XFE lands in California, picks up his convertible, and armed with a miraculously traffic-avoiding GPS, arrives minutes later at his luxury hotel, where check in is immediate and completely painless and includes an upgrade to a top floor suite complete with a 1,000-foot deck overlooking ocean waves.
Here’s the likely reality:
XFE arrives at Dulles at the crack of dawn, his wallet $100 lighter after his 45-minute cab ride. After a pre-dawn rubdown by TSA, he makes his way to the gate area, where he finds that his flight has been delayed. His breakfast options at this hour are Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. So he can have a scone with his coffee or a doughnut with his coffee. Did I mention that XFE doesn’t drink coffee?
Finally, his flight begins to board. Thanks to his ever-vigilant miles hoarding, he is upgraded and allowed to board in the first group. After wedging his suitcase in the overhead compartment, he settles in to his aisle seat, while the stewardess leans perilously over him and plays overhead Tetris with two other pieces of oversized luggage that ultimately will be gate-checked. Boarding continues, with XFE being whacked repeatedly by backpacks of disgruntled coach passengers passing him on their way to the back of the plane.
Upon landing, XFE will navigate the unknown airport to find the car rental garage and retrieve his lime green Chevy Spark which is a hybrid vehicle and as such, will shut off at every stop light. It also contains a GPS that is determined to drive XFE and his luggage into every available body of water along the route. There will, of course, be tons of traffic, lots of detours, and streets that are one-way between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 a.m. on all days ending with “y.”
XFE will arrive at the hotel where he will be told that yes, he has been upgraded to a suite, thanks to all his Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty, but his suite won’t be ready for another two hours. He’s welcome to wait at the bar. Or, check in to a smaller room and move all his stuff tomorrow morning before he starts his work day.
So let’s just have a little quick recap of this week, shall we? My sweet love petal XFE is out of town and my insomnia is in full force. I showed up a week early for a dental cleaning (they declined my offer to go ahead and just do it. They also didn’t appreciate it when I pointed out that since they charge me when I miss an appointment without calling, they should reward me the same amount when I show up for really, really early for appointments. )
The huge mirror over the sink in my bathroom decided it didn’t like my outfit and completely jumped off the wall (the wire holding it broke), cracking the left corner and ruining it.
I left my keys in the door overnight and had to force myself to be Secret Agent Ninja Poe the next morning looking for would-be murderers/rapists/robbers/cat hostage takers.
I finally broke down and got a work-issued phone that is about sixteen generations more advanced than my personal phone (the iLuddite, as one co-worker dubbed it) and has me totally confounded (where is the “dismiss appointment reminder button!”)
And, finally, it rained approximately 160 of the last 168 hours.
Let’s see what was on the Web this week.
I agree with ol’Tabitha or Marion or whatever Broderick up there. Fall sucks and leaves are mean.
It may seem kinda lame to say, but this risotto from Trader Joe’s was the highlight of my week. Lick-your-bowl phenomenal. It’s made with spelt. Spelt! I’m not even sure what that is! But I suspect it’s healthy! And nutritious!
I finished this book, about reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark and her fortune and the subsequent fight over that fortune, and yes, her empty mansions. Pretty sure ol’Huguette left the keys in the door, metaphorically speaking. It’s a good (ie: odd) story, if a little short on action. OK, a lot short on action.
I stayed up way too late the other night watching this HBO documentary on the murder of an openly gay teen by a classmate. Valentine Road is heartbreaking, in part because of all the ignorant, homophobic adults saying horrible things about the victim. It got me pretty fired up.
Man, I hope I never drive XFE to fake his own kidnapping in order to get some guilt-free party time away from me. My favorite quote from the Hidalgo County Sheriff: “”Well, he’s going to party in jail now.”
Do you know who or what an Absu is? IKEA or Death is an online game that challenges you to correctly label words as either an IKEA product or a death metal band. Even better, the game was created by a marketing agency.
Speaking of clever marketing agencies, this mobile ad firm Revolution Marketing has campaign called Drunk Dial Congress. Drunkdialcongress.org connects citizens fed up with the government shutdown to members of the House of Representatives.
Listen, I grew up around truckers, literally less than half a mile down the road from an actual truck stop. Hell, my mom even married a few of them. But truckers hijacking the roads around DC to protest congressional inaction is just not a good idea. Your cause may be noble (or, more probably, misguided), but you’re method would just punish the innocent citizens of this swampland. We’ve been throughenough lately.