January 31, 2013

Dumber than advertised...

And with that title, I am of course referring to... myself.

Every now and then, life has a way of teaching you that you're not as smart as you thought you were.

We got a new stackable washer/dryer unit in December (after our last one croaked on day 31 of the 30 day warranty). After examining it extensively, the Old Curmudgeon and I came to the conclusion that new dryer did not have a lint trap. It seemed odd to both of us... don't they have to have those? But no, we (two former TAG kids, mind you) could not find it, thus it did not have one.

Over the last few weeks of steadily decreasing dryer performance, today I resolved to look up the user guide on the internet. Sure enough, there's a lint trap. Right there in the back of the dryer. Old Curmudgeon and I had looked right at it and passed over it, not realizing that those two little holes there were intended to stick fingers in for the purpose of removing said lint trap from the rest of the dryer. I guess we thought they were just vent holes.

Anyway, I cleaned out the trap and this is what I turned up:

The larger chunk of lint on the left, by the way, is almost two inches thick, about nine inches long, four inches wide and fairly solid. That's what was in the trap itself. The rest I cleaned off of around where the trap is supposed to go. It is an absolute miracle that we morons have not burned the place down around ourselves in the last month of not cleaning out the lint trap because we didn't believe it existed.

I submit this experience as proof that something you don't think exists can still affect you. Or even kill you.

Oh, and for those that care, we're slowly feeling better. I made it through a whole two hours at work yesterday... gonna shoot for three today. ;-)

Song o' the Day: "Rain Over Me" - Pitbull featuring Marc Anthony. Why, you ask? Because Zumba class has gotten it stuck in my head, that's why.

UPDATE, 11:50 AM 1/31/13: The next load of clothes I put in the dryer after cleaning the lint trap got dry on the first go. The dryer wasn't malfunctioning after all... we're just morons.

January 30, 2013

Mongolian Death Flu...

My household has been suffering the Mongolian Death Flu for almost two weeks now. (Please note, "Mongolian Death Flu" is just a name I made up and is not the name of an actual epidemic as far as I am aware. Please do not panic and/or call the CDC.) We're being a good family and taking turns with it, but at least one of us has been sick at all times since January 18th. It's a lovely virus that starts with fever/chills and lack of appetite/energy and then transitions seamlessly into coughing up various internal organs while not being able to breathe or speak. It's also a deceptive little virus, as we've recently learned, because just when we thought we were shaking it off, we all relapsed back to square one (fever/chills, etc.).

I'm planning on going to work today for the first time this week, and honestly I have no idea how good of an idea that is. I'm feeling about 60% of normal capacity today, which is the highest I've been since Friday evening (today is Wednesday, by the way). Sunday I was at about 10-15%. What that means is that I slept all night Saturday night, slept almost all of the day Sunday (I was awake maybe 5-6 hours total, but not all at once... my longest stretch of consciousness was 3 hours between 8 and 11 PM), and then slept all night Sunday night. I texted the Old Curmudgeon this morning to see how he's doing, and he told me he had given up on work today and was going home. Already. At 8:30 AM. Not encouraging.

So if anyone has been wondering why you haven't seen us out and about for the last couple of weeks, this is why. We're all over here trying not to die, with varying degrees of success. The Chamaco has been going to school, albeit with a bad cough, and he's doing the best so far. I'm going to leave and have a go at the going to work thing in about ten minutes here, so wish me luck...

Song o' the Day: "Sick" by Evanescence (relevant in title only, given that it's not actually about disease)

January 19, 2013

Yesterday... (a reflection on 2012 inspired by my boss)

(Today all songs included in the blog post will be by Lacuna Coil in honor of 1.19.)

(Swamped - Lacuna Coil) Yesterday I got one of those lovely visits from my boss at work. Something about my office sliding down the hill thanks to TriMet. (Ramon jokes that I should tie a rope around my waist and tie it to something in the main office just in case... such a kidder!) This has happened before, mind you. (My boss visiting me, not my office sliding down the hill.) Usually it's an unremarkable occasion... she usually finds at least one or two things she wants done this week, I write it down, and done... she goes back to the corporate office. I made two mistakes yesterday, though. I did my hair and wore makeup.

First she wanted to look at me, which involved staring pretty intently at my general head area for a long moment, then she had to feel my hair, comment on my new haircut (thanks Adrianne!), comment on my new highlights (thanks me!), and then commence the gushing.

"You're just a knockout! A knockout! You've just blossomed since you've been working here!"

"Well yeah," I said. "That's because I had to get an entirely new wardrobe after I started working here. This time last year I was auditioning for rock bands and most of the clothes I had were more suitable for that than this."

"WHAT?! You never told me about that before! What do you play?" (Senzafine - Lacuna Coil)

"Actually I was auditioning to be the vocalist."

"WHAT?! (If you knew my boss, you would recognize this noise, BTW.) You can sing??"

I shrugged. "Well, I'm not 'operatically trained' like Christine but I do what I do pretty well."

"But that's a totally different thing!"

And just when I was beginning to think she might make me sing something one of the machines outside my office window started violently shaking the office and she got distracted and apparently forgot all about me ever being anything but her employee. Fair enough. But it was enough to get me thinking about it.

A year ago Monday I did something I'd always wanted to do but had always been too scared to do... I auditioned to be the vocalist in a rock band. Some of you may remember my post about that (or you can go back and find it if you want). (Cirle - Lacuna Coil) I'd actually made the appointment to do it sometime in late December and actually managed to forget about it for nearly a month, then about two days before I remembered and commenced to freak out. I almost thought I was still too scared to do it, but I did it anyway.

For those of you who don't remember, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Even though I wasn't chosen, I had done something I'd always been too chicken to do even though I really wanted to do it, and the outcome had been pretty positive. One of the guys in the band told me that I definitely had talent and even if they decided to go with someone else I should "definitely keep doing what I'm doing". And they gave me a bunch of the band's stickers and a demo CD and a t-shirt for the Chamaco (this was a band that had actually been offered a record deal before with their previous vocalist, who I think is actually back with the band now after the band had a brief run with the guy who got picked over me). (Aeon - Lacuna Coil) Overall, though, it was a really positive experience for me and got me thinking... if I can do this thing that scared the crap out of me and have it turn out so well, what else that scares me might I be able to do?

I was pretty much feeling invincible after that, and I remember trying to explain the feeling to my mom on the phone. And it was that feeling of power following that experience that led me to audition for a couple more bands and start throwing out job applications left and right, for once sure that someone would give me a chance to prove that I could be something more than I was currently being. (I Don't Believe in Tomorrow - Lacuna Coil)

One of those applications led to me to be hired as an apartment manager, which caused me to leave behind all that had been familiar for the past 19 years. So if you think about it, really, much of what I am and what I have today can be directly linked to the fact that at this time last year, I auditioned for a rock band. (My Spirit - Lacuna Coil) So I still have a special place in my heart (and my iTunes) for Still Measure, even though my only connection with the band now is that I'm friends with the lead guitarist on Facebook.

These thoughts have led me to think about where I was a year ago. I was still working for Head Start, still living in a HUD subsidized apartment in Molalla, still living paycheck to paycheck, had just about given up on men entirely (except as potential bandmates, naturally) and was spending more time in the stories I was writing than in my real life because the stories were way more interesting. Fast forward to now... I have a totally different career, am living in the second new apartment I've had within the last 12 months, I generally have $300-400 still left in my bank account when I get my next paycheck (this is unheard of... I used to be vigilantly trying not to overdraw my account), (Comalies - Lacuna Coil) I have a boyfriend who I'm pretty sure will be around long-term because he was/is my best friend, and I don't have time to write anymore! (Aside from the occasional blog post, of course.)

Do I think I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing now forever? No. But I definitely will keep doing it until the next better thing comes along. I think actually Lacuna Coil is saying it best in the song that just came on:

Today I'm gonna fly
There's nothing that can keep me on the ground
Touch the sky
I'm free inside

I'm free to do what I like, I'm celebrating my life
I'm free to be what I like, I'm celebrating my life
I'm gonna get what I like, I'm celebrating my life
(I Like It - Lacuna Coil)

And for those that wonder, Lacuna Coil has a song from one of their earlier albums called "1.19". Why on earth it's called that I don't know (I'm sure the story is out there if you care enough to dig for it, but I don't), but now 1.19 (January 19th) is Lacuna Coil day. : )

Song o' the Day: I Like It by Lacuna Coil. See/hear it here. It's a pretty funny video, actually. Watch it.

January 12, 2013

Panda Epiphany....

I had an epiphany last night. At the Panda Express on McLoughlin. And yes, it was slightly painful. But let me explain first how I wound up at Panda having epiphanies in the first place.

See, Friday night is usually date night for me and the Old Curmudgeon (which is my new blog name for my significant other... he'd get a kick out of that, trust me. Also "Mr. Cranky-Pants", which is what I usually call him to his face, is harder to type for some reason). The reason date night is on Friday is that the Chamaco generally spends Friday nights at my mom's house, and it's cheaper to eat out when there are only two of us as opposed to three. Yes, we are jerks like that, thank you.

Anyway, the Old Curmudgeon had a burning desire to go to Panda. Something about Shanghai steak. Me, I can take or leave steak, and I was sort of "meh" about the idea of going to Panda, but I didn't have a strong inclination to go much of anywhere else either so I figured I'd humor him and went along. This is called "keeping the peace", and I don't think I had much of a knack for that a decade or so ago when I was last in a serious relationship. Of course, I was 19/20 then as opposed to 29/30 too.

So anyway, back to Panda with a minimum of side trips now. (Hopefully.) I got the 2 entree platter, and I had fried rice, mandarin chicken, and honey-walnut shrimp. Anyone who has been to Panda ever can now probably picture exactly what was on my plate. On a whim, I got 3 potstickers as well. (Usually I get the chow mein instead of the fried rice, but I was feeling a little weird last night anyway, which maybe should have been a warning about the epiphany.) We filled up our drinks, sat down at a table, and started eating.

I compartmentalize, and tend to eat one food at a time for some reason. So I polished off the mandarin chicken and was probably about halfway through the honey-walnut shrimp when I had the epiphany. I felt a slight nudging in my cerebral cortex (or somewhere in my brain anyway) and looked around to see what was going on. My digestive system timidly raised its hand and cleared its throat. "Excuse me, Lord Brain," it said hesitantly. "We're... we're all full down here. We actually sort of don't need to eat the rest of that."

I paused in my eating to listen in on the conversation as my brain sputtered about in surprise for a moment, took a quick peep out through the eyeballs to survey the contents of the plate, then bellowed, "Nonsense! The shrimp isn't gone yet! That stuff costs an extra dollar, you know!"

"But... but... there's... no more room in the stomach!" my digestive system stammered. Clearly it was terrified of incurring my brain's wrath but for once had decided to stand up for itself.

"We haven't even touched the potstickers yet! And the shrimp's not gone!" the brain said firmly. And it ruthlessly shoved my digestive system's voice back to wherever it had come from. And just to spite the little upstart for daring to speak out of turn,we finished the shrimp. And the potstickers. And the fried rice. Because we are a fat slob, that's why. And no, we didn't feel too great about it afterward.

I bet you're wondering where the epiphany was in that. Well, I don't know if conversation was just sparse since the Old Curmudgeon was busy filling his face with Shanghai steak or what, but this was the first time I'd actually heard that conversation take place between my brain and my digestive system. And yes, I dramatized it, but that's what they would have been saying had they been speaking with words. I assume this conversation happens pretty much every time I eat a meal and I never do hear that voice, which is why I'm as big as I am. It wasn't until I was lying in bed last night reviewing the day's events in my mind that I thought, "You know, if I paid more attention to that voice, I might not be as fat as I am." (This was ephiphany #2.) And I resolved to start trying to listen for that voice.

So this morning after I climbed out of bed around 10:00 (hey, it's Saturday and I don't have to work until 1, so there), I took a bath (again, Saturday, don't judge) and wandered out into the kitchen to find foodstuffs. I am not real fond of breakfast foods in general, and I tend to have either fruit or something more lunchy for breakfast. Today it was the latter, as I settled upon a can of Campbells vegetable soup. Maybe you will all think I'm a disgusting fatso after reading this, but I generally have no trouble putting away an entire can by myself. With cheese and crackers. Today I heated up the soup, put some crackers in it (decided to skip cheese) and headed for the table.

I was eating in rather contemplative silence (Chamaco is at my mom's, remember?) and sure enough, just about halfway through the bowl of soup I get a weird sensation in my stomach and a little nudge in my brain again. "Hey... we're done down here. No more!"

I took one more bite, which I chewed very thoughtfully for longer than was probably necessary, and looked down into the bowl and contemplated the soup. No, I decided, it actually didn't look as appetizing as it had ten minutes ago. And if I really thought about it, it didn't quite taste as good either. I have read before that these are both signs that you're done with the eating thing, so I put the bowl off to the side and reached for my laptop.

And this is where I sit right now. At my kitchen table, half-eaten bowl of soup to my left, laptop directly in front, and glass of water to my right. (Glass of water, by the way, was refilled 3 times during the course of eating half a bowl of soup, for some reason. Am I dehydrated as well?) And I don't quite know what to do with said half-bowl of soup. No one else is around to offer it to. Throwing it out seems kind of wasteful, but I know that if I cover it and put it in the fridge, it will probably just grow mold and no one will eat it, and then I will throw it away. (The Chamaco, for whatever reason, does not like to eat leftover anything.) However, I do not really want to eat it just so it doesn't go to waste, because my stomach told me pretty clearly that it didn't want anything else. (Traitor.)

So maybe I've stumbled upon a breakthrough in my lifelong (and by "lifelong" I mean, "since I was about six") struggle with food and weight. Maybe I've just got to listen for the little voice that tells me, "Hey! No more of that, jerkface!"

The Old Curmudgeon and I have been spending some evenings lately watching a British TV show called Supersize vs. Superskinny. Basically the premise of the show is that they get one hugely obese person (usually close to 400 lbs. if we calculate out how many stone that is, because they do weight funny in Britain) and one underweight person (usually 110 lbs or less... lowest I've seen so far was 85), and they put them in a house together for five days. During those five days, the fat person can only eat everything the underweight person would normally eat (which is sometimes nothing at all for some meals), and the underweight person has to eat everything that the fat person normally eats at every meal (or give it their best go, anyway). It's sort of a mutual learning thing... usually by the end of the 5 days the fat person has learned that they can get hungry and they don't actually die, and they have learned by watching the skinny person attempt to choke down their meals that they have been eating WAY too much. The skinny person, meanwhile, usually learns to try new foods (the skinnies tend to have extremely limited diets like only fruit, or even in one case only chocolate... generally there is at least one food group they've eliminated completely) and eat somewhat larger portions. It's sort of weirdly fascinating, even though having watched most of two seasons now I'm sort of getting to the point where I want to see someone fail... come back after the 12 weeks of following the doctor's eating plan and not be fatter/skinnier than they were before and glowing with good health. Of course, I'm a jerk like that.

I'm also doing karate classes with my son on Tuesday nights and have finally found a Zumba class that mostly works within my schedule (I have to go there directly from work, but I can do it). I've already got the exercise piece falling into place nicely, so maybe if I can figure out the stupid food part, I might start seeing some changes. Who knows?

Song o' the Day: "End of Time" by Lacuna Coil. The video for which (viewable by clicking on the song title over there) was cleverly released right before December 21st, 2012. Not on the 21st, of course, because if the world had actually ended nobody would have seen it. Can't take that chance! This is a slower song for Lacuna, and definitely not their most exciting video, but I still like the song.