Friday, December 9, 2011

for you, at work

Dear sister,

Here's a round-up of things that made me think of you this week.

These, originally from my friend Martha's blog:

I've been playing this game a lot, thanks to the online word game you showed me but I couldn't remember the name of so I found this instead:

And finally, something for the scientist in you:

your does-checking-my-email-at-the-bakery-count-as-being-social? sister

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the challenge returns

Dear sister,

Just a reminder that the Element's birthday is coming up at the end of this month. And that reminds me that it's once again time for our now-annual "Gifting the Element" challenge. The rules are that the gift must be under $20 (preferably cheaper, since we're both trying to feed ourselves AND pay off student loans), and it must be at once considered completely useless to us and yet seen as intrinsically vital to life by the Element. You won last year, I'll admit. But I've got some ideas for this year.

Oh, it's on.

your sister

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

um ... what?

Dear sister,

You know I'm no good at math. I even make my students double-check their grades on tests and essays, to make sure I haven't accidentally mis-added their points and given them the wrong grade. Sometimes I even write tests that don't add up to 100 points. And it takes me about 40 minutes to balance my checkbook - which is bad if you consider I've got an excel doc that supposedly does all the calculating for me.

But here's my thoughts on your formula, regardless.

First, I think you need some kind of factor to take into account the decreased efficacy of coffee relative to the increased number of cups consumed.

Second, you might need to take into account the increased efficacy of coffee relative to the decreased amount of sleep. I mean, I know that the longer I haven't slept, the more one cup of coffee here and there does wonders.

Third, what about additives? The more milk I put in coffee, the more I can drink (the thicker the lining of my stomach, thus the more acids I can feed it).

And what about coffee taken in conjunction with food? Does that increase or decrease the efficacy?

So, I guess all my factors relate to efficacy of coffee. But you know, having worked many, many years on and off in bakeries, I can attest to the fact that not all coffee cups are created equal. No matter what the government may say.

your I'm-sitting-at-HDC-because-I-don't-have-internet-at-home-and-this-probably-could-have-been-a-longer-post-but-I-want-to-go-home-and-go-to-sleep-and-thus-decrease-the-number-of-cups-of-coffee-I-drink-tomorrow sister

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Dear Sister,

I've been thinking...

Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, so lets go with 8 as an average.

Most adults drink a cup of coffee in the morning, right? (Limit the subject pool to those who do because people who don't need coffee are freaks and ought to be weeded out of society, or at the very least my group of friends.)

So it's basically 8 hours of sleep and 1 cup of coffee, on a normal day.

8hours:1cup. It follows that 1hour:8cups.

Let x= 8-actual amount of sleep, or the lack of sleep based on an 8 hour sleep requirement.

Then, c=(1+x)(t-1) where c is coffee intake, t is time, and x is the lack of sleep.

If you slept for 7 hours:

the second day it would be c=(2)(1)= 2 cups, because lets be honest, two days of 7 hours would be GLORIOUS.
the third day it would be c=(2)(2)=4 cups.

Originally I had (t-1) as an exponent, but even Koshka the caffeine addict says 16 cups of coffee in one day is unreasonable. There are some other kinks to be worked out. It probably should also be the total amount of coffee you should have, in cups, over the time period, t, but that only works for t>2.

In short, it is totally acceptable for me to have 4 cups of coffee today.

your someone-give-me-a-caffiene-IV-drip-please sister

Saturday, October 1, 2011

query: does this crack us both up?

Dear sister,

I overheard the following conversation yesterday, when we were on a field trip to Goodwill Park. (Don't get me started on the merits-v-losses of a day-long field trip to play tag football and eat hamburgers instead of spending more productive time in the classroom and yes I know it's team building but the idea that that can only be done outside of the classroom is one with which I vehemently disagree and while I do find it enormously helpful for us teachers to see our students outside of the usual context from time to time because yes it does help us remember they are full human beings and not just "struggling readers" or "strong writers" nevertheless my predominant problem with this kind of thing can best be summed up by one of my fellow team teachers saying to me at the end of the day, "hey, this is way better than a day spent teaching" ... oh. Wait. Sorry. Um ... hand me a chair.)

Anyway, I overheard this conversation, and I found it hilarious but had trouble conveying why I thought it was so funny to my fellow teachers. So I thought I should check with you and see what you thought. Because generally, you know, we crack us up.

8th grade girl: Oooh, look, I found a grasshopper! He's my new friend.
8th grade boy: Cool.
girl: What should I name you, little grasshopper?
boy: Barry.
girl: (stares at him in disbelief) Barry is the name of my dead grandfather.
boy: Um, I didn't say Barry. Gary. I said Gary.
girl: Oh, ok! Hello, little Gary ...

I mean ... right? The number of things that is funny about that just overwhelms me.

Also, yesterday we played duck-duck-goose with the 8th graders, but when it was our newly-arrived-doesn't-speak-English-yet student's turn, we played duck ... duck ... duck ... SHOES!

I almost fell over laughing.

Much love,
your I-made-every-class-take-a-unit-test-first-period-before-they-could-go-on-the-field-trip-because-I'm-a-mean-teacher-who-refuses-to-lose-an-entire-day-to-duck-duck-goose-and-hot-dogs sister

Friday, September 23, 2011

and what did I do today?

Dear sister,

Just a quick post to update you on how my first month of teaching is going.

One of my high school classmates just won a Pulitzer.

Another one of my other high school classmates was just on Jeopardy.

And I spend my days reminding 8th grade students that it is inappropriate to try to hide behind the radiator during English class.

Much love,
your sister

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

my life is complete

Dear Sister,

I met Wally.

And I sat on the Green Monster.

That is all.

your can-now-die-happy sister

Monday, September 5, 2011

shhh ...

Dear sister,

So, a few things have happened of late, all of which you know about, and all of which have kept me from remembering to blog to you. I mean, I remembered, but never at opportune times. It was always when I was doing something like sitting through new teacher orientations, signing up for my first-ever union card, working overnight shifts at PitS during the advent of a hurricane, lighting candles with Grandma during and after afore-mentioned hurricane, sitting through more teacher orientations, setting up my classroom, celebrating my 28th birthday and my godson's 1st, and/or listening to StrongDad and BeachMom's fret about Super Tiger. All of which has happened in the past two weeks (except for that last one which, as I know you know, has happened pretty much every day).

But since you already know about all of that, I thought I should tell you a few things that you didn't know. About me. That's right - there are things you don't know about me.

For instance, I am a gardener. I know, I didn't know it either, but the brothers at the monastery thought it was true and, as it turns out, I was pretty good at keeping the vegetable gardens growing. I even managed to keep some of the flowers alive, after diagnosing them with things like leaf miners and lily beetles and black spot mold. I tried to explain to the brothers that my success therein wasn't due to any inherent knowledge on my part but a somewhat haphazard combination of common sense, general information collected from the internet and the local greenhouses in town, and dumb luck. They were duly unimpressed by my confessions, and continued to refer to me as their "master gardener." Eventually I kind of gave up professing my innocence, and figured that even real "master gardeners" must have started somewhere.

I will take absolutely no credit for the zucchini growing rampant in the compost pile, though - that is obviously a force of nature unto itself.

Second, I am an adventurer. Stop laughing. Clean up the wine you just spat out all over your laptop. (Sorry for making you do that; I hope the keys are still all ok.) But seriously, someone said this to me recently. I went in to fill out all my paperwork with HR and they actually said, regarding summer paychecks, that I might want to take them all in one lump sum at the beginning in the summer, "so that I don't have to worry about them when I go off on another one of my adventures."

All this time I've found it funny when people are astonished to learn I was born in Kalamazoo, but let me tell you -- casually mentioning that I lived for a time in Alaska is an even better game. Never mind that it was only for five months, and that, obviously, I came home instead of sticking it out for the long haul. I am now the kind of person who goes on "adventures." And none of the people who have known me as a child can hear me say that and keep a straight face. (When I told Rolo about this, she laughed for a good five minutes and then giggled for another ten.)

So. There's that.

The last thing I would like to tell you is that starting tomorrow, roughly 85 or so eighth graders will take their turns walking into my classroom. Because I am now their competent, qualified, and generally all-around-respectable English teacher. I'm relying on your discretion and undying admiration of me to keep your mouth shut about this one as well. As this summer has shown, "fake it til you make it" can sometimes lead to hilariously successful results.

your tone deaf (as in, dammit-I-still-can't-tune-a-guitar-no-matter-how-many-times-I-try-to-pretend-like-I-can) sister

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Business Casual for 300

Dear Sister,

Let's play a Jeopardy-style game. Since you already know the question, I'm instead going to give you the answers, and you can guess who gave me what answer. (Or, at least, what gender gave what answer. I don't think you know all the Answerers.)

A1: No.
A2: With a low key outfit, they could work.
A3: Only in Oz.
A4: How am I the appropriate person to respond?! You know I don't know these things!
A5: And what stopped you?! [from getting them]
A6: Does toto come with them?
A1 cont: [after learning they were bright pink] Well, in that case.

Q: Do these count as business casual?

And yes, this is relevant because I GOT A JOB. I think. Final details to come tomorrow, so cross your fingers!

your finally-maybe-out-of-cover-writing-hell sister

PS: Answer Key
A1: Mr. Practical
A2: MerSister
A3: You. (I hope you got this one right)
A4: JT(aka the boy who can't even remember to zip his fly on a consistant basis at the age of 25)
A5: E channeling Z
A6: The One From High School
A7: Girl from work.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

Dear Sister,

I am excited to contact you regarding the program assistant position-- oh. Wait. What's that you say? This isn't a cover letter? I'm sorry, I think I may have forgotten how to write anything else since it is all I've done for the past four months. Seriously, you should see the "Resumes and Cover Letter" folder on my desk top. I'm surprised it hasn't overflowed (overflown?) yet.

Sadly, I don't have much to report. The job is not going partcularly well, as you can tell by the eight thousand cover letters I've written. Actually, the hunt is going fine, its the actual getting a job that's not going so well. Or at all, really. And everyone seems to have jumped shipped and headed to the beach for the summer, so the job I do have is also not going so fantastically. It's pretty hard to make money waitressing when no one is in the city. Or when it's too hot too leave your AC even for ten minutes to walk to a restaurant.

In case you were wondering, though, so far summer in Boston does beat NYC. Sure, I got an AC earlier this year which could affect my preference, but I don't actually get to spend all that much time in my room. It just seems like Boston doesn't absorb the heat quite the way NYC does, so it actually cools off at night. The T doesn't get as sauna-like as the subway, there is a breeze that doesn't get blocked by the buildings, there are sprinklers in the parks for little kids (and maybe, possibly, me too) and the beach isn't nearly as far away. Although, to be honest, I've barely been this year. (Just more proof that being a grown up is over rated. So over rated.)

And last but not least...I can actually run outside. Most of the time. As long as its not a heat wave.

Which reminds me, that is why I got up early in the first place. (Early being 8am, which I think counts when you work until midnight or 1am on a regular basis.) Let's be clear, though. I got up early to run because I have to go baby sit the coolest two year old in town (I'd post pictures if that wasn't a violation of his privacy so you'll have to take my word for it) and then go straight to work.

Thank you for your time and atten- oh, right. NOT a cover letter.


Your in-cover-writing-hell-please-get-me-out! sister

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

open letter to adulthood

Dear sister,

As you know, these past few weeks have been pretty hard. The odd thing is that the pain and drama of my own day-to-day is now largely in the immediate past (thank goodness). What has hit me so hard this month is the pain of some of my closest friends who themselves are fine, but worry and grieve for their own loved ones. In the concentric circle diagram of my life, the central dot (me) is (finally) doing well, but the next few layers pulse with the pain of lived, and living, life.

On the phone with L the other day, we were thinking aloud about we feel a longing for childhood. Was the pain of the world less real to us then? Was it farther away? Or was it simply that, knowing less people, we therefore knew a relatively smaller amount of pain? As the circle of my world grows, the concentric layers of my relationships grow thicker. In times like these past few weeks have brought, it is hard to remember that adulthood promises to bring increased joy along with the increase of pain.

Dear adulthood,

I'm not so sure about you, these past few weeks. The father of a close friend beats cancer and then, three weeks later, dies of lung failure. Another close friend finishes grad school and moves across the country to be with her boyfriend and, one week later, he is hospitalized and fighting for his life. Another friend's elderly mother is dying. Someone else is in the hospital for surgery. And on. And on.

I know there are silver linings in all that has happened. That the father could have died last fall but lived to put his affairs in order, see his children come home, and arrange his goodbyes. That the diagnosis could have come while she was still living on the East Coast, unable to be at his side. That illness comes in the summer, when teachers are on vacation. That we have each other to lean on. That we still have laughter, light, and love to keep us going. That we know that this, too, shall pass.

But underneath all this turmoil I still have to deal with the mundane necessities of adulthood - finding an apartment, completing health insurance paperwork, worrying about rent and utilities and year-long leases with no job security, watching my parents grow old and even older, watching my friends get married and start families while I remain alone. I can handle all this, I know, for the joys of adulthood far outweigh the pains. After all, I willingly gave up the security of my parent's roof over my head and their food on the table, the relative ease of the daily high school routine, the freedom of the summer months and the luxury of regular week-long vacations.

It's just that I thought - nay, was promised - that the skin breakouts would go away as well.

It really seems like I shouldn't have to deal with that anymore.


I'm relying on routine and work to get me through the day, and the beauty of life and the love of friendship to get me through the week. Some days I look for creative things, to put something together in the face of all that has fallen apart. Decorations for Rolo's wedding. Cookies to send in care packages. Fresh bread. And some days I aim for the destructive, to feel some sense of order and control in all the unstable insecurity of the real world. Weeding becomes cathartic. Kneading becomes a release. Cleaning offers healing.

And when I am too tired to keep my eyes open anymore, I am finally able to get some sleep.

Much love,
your sister

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

open letter to the people who ride horses down Emery Lane

Dear sister,

I've been thinking about you all day, because it's been 95 degrees up here - in the shade - and when it's hot enough up here that the brothers call off work for the day, well ... it must be bloody unbearable in the city. I hope you haven't melted away on me. Even with the sun down it's still too hot to do much else but sit in front of a fan and read, so I'll make this one quick:

Dear Horse-Riders,

I understand that Emery Lane is picturesque, quiet, and well-shaded. And that it links up to Maudsley State Park, so we're bound to get some foot (and hoof) traffic from those paths. And that it is, technically, a town road, even though the monastery is the only thing on it. So all that put together, I do admit that you have every right to take your horses out for a nice trot at the end of the day.

You know, it's actually even sort of picturesque for us, to be sitting at supper and hear the clomp-clomp of horse hoofs. It adds to the slow-life mentality and the late 1800s countryside idyll of this place. (Though when we look out and see you on your cell phone as you ride by, that does kind of kill the illusion just a tad.)

You're not alone, anyway. Plenty of people go by during the day - cyclists and runners, dog-walkers and tourists taking photos, and once those adorable pre-teens who were trying to out-dare each other by taking their skateboards down our (admittedly not very steep) hill.

The thing is, and I'm not saying anything, but all I'm saying is, none of those sets of people leave enormous piles of horse dung in the middle of our otherwise calm and peaceful lane.


So yeah. I'm going to bed now. I hope you are too.

your sister

Friday, July 8, 2011

open letter to the gender police

Dear sister,

Part of my daily chores - a part I quite like, I must confess - is helping Br James to care for the chickens. We have 13 "layers" -- I put that in quotation marks because, though they are all purported to be laying hens, we are finding a suspiciously small enough number of eggs per day to make one believe that not all of the hens are pulling their own weight in the coop, so to speak. (Or that they are laying eggs where we cannot find them, but given the hens' proclivity to eating all the grass in their pen faster than we can move said pen around the field, this does seem unlikely.)

To replace our insufficient layers, we have 30 new hens, almost fully grown now, and separated from the adult hens for their own safety and our own ease in caring for them. Did I say 30 hens? I'm sorry. I meant 29 hens, and one emerging rooster.

Earlier in the month we began noticing strange, not-quite-clucking noises coming from the pen of new hens, but it took a few weeks - and a few increasingly confident, courageous attempts at crowing - for Br James to sigh, shake his head, and admit that one of our 30 to-be-laying hens was not, well, going to be doing any laying in terms of producing eggs. (Get the double entendre there?)

Actually, this was good news. Roosters will not only keep the hens from pecking at each other (a probable reason behind our current slim laying production) but also help protect their flock from intruders and invaders. In fact, that's how last year's rooster was killed - defending the flock against an incoming hawk. (The hawk didn't take any hens, but the rooster didn't live through his wounds. He ended up as soup.)

The problem has been determining which of our thirty new additions is the rooster. We hear him all the time now - at 5am as the sun rises, after breakfast when the dog makes his first rounds in the fields, whenever anything that smells un-chicken-like gets too close or sounds too noisy because really, this rooster seems to so enjoy his developing voice that he'll crow at anything, at any time -- except when we're watching.

We've tried various tricks, usually involving either me or Br James standing by the coop making all manner of animal noises, crows and clucks and cackles and even howls and barks. To no avail. We've mentally tagged the one we suspect - the largest one, with the most pronounced tail feathers - and have been waiting for any display of aggressive behavior, or hormonal attraction to his fellow coopmates. Nothing. Until today, that is, when Br James happened to wander close enough, and quietly enough, to catch him in the act. And that is what leads me to today's open letter, an apology which will, as I've gone on long enough up here, be as short as I can make it.

Dear Gender Police,

On the slim chance that you are as concerned with the gender politics of barnyard fowl as you are of the humans who care for them, please accept my apologies for the extreme and austere gender normative assumptions that we made in attempting to identify our rogue rooster. We were wrong to use overall size, development of tail feathers, and coloring of neck and gobble to divide between the sexes. That chicken appears to be, in fact, a hen.


The question remains, of course, which of the three look-a-like red chickens is the rooster. Br James saw one of them crowing, but which was it?

("Saw" is a relative term, of course. It's not like they have lips or anything. You just have to wait for one to open its beak slightly more than the others, and then you can isolate the noise-maker from the crowd. Which is why it took us so long to finally figure out.)

your chicken-feeding, rooster-watching, grain-dispensing sister

Thursday, July 7, 2011

open letter to the sun

Dear sister,

You know, I'm a careful person. I pay my bills on time each month. I always wear my seat belt when I'm in a car. I don't sleep with my hand touching the wall so that a spider can't be crawling up the wall and accidentally use my arm as a bridge to my face. Normal stuff like that.

And I wear sunscreen. SPF-55, in fact, which is about SPF-30 of an overkill for people with our skin type. Mom bought it "by accident" (not sure what she meant by that - it fell into her cart and she didn't realize until she got it home, maybe) and so I've been using it. Very carefully. Every day when I'm in the gardens between the hours of 12pm and 5pm. I even wear a hat to protect my face and give a little extra shading to my shoulders.

You know what happened today? Here, I'll tell you.

Dear Sun,

That. Was. Not. Very. Nice. I'm only human, after all. I've been so appreciative of your presence, loving the warmth you provide, never once complaining about the sweat you cause me to produce nor the hour I spend each morning watering the garden because your persistent appearance quickly dries out the morning's dew. I am not one of the ones who hides inside the kitchen with its dark, cool floor and air conditioner and endless glasses of ice water. No, no. I'm out there every day in you, weeding and mowing and sweating and sweating and sweating and every so often, pausing to enjoy your summery, sunny presence.

So it was NOT very nice to go and give me a bright, painful sunburn on the one place I forgot to put sunscreen. That tiny two inch sliver of my back that peeks out between where my skirt ends and my shirt begins? The one that only shows up when I bend over to weed the garden? The one I sleep on, hit against the back of the chair when I sit down, and can't avoid putting directly under the stream of the shower's water pressure? Seriously. You could have left it alone.

But thanks for making the flowers grow so nicely, I guess.


So, yeah. I think we should add "remembers to put sunscreen on our back" to the list of qualities our future boyfriends need to possess.

your slightly-pained, definitely-red-but-only-in-one-awkward-stripe-oh-well-no-one-will-see-it-at-least sister

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

open letter to the earwig in my bed

Dear sister,

I like to dry my laundry on the line. It's not because I actually believe that the energy savings could somehow make a difference on the overall global effect (but sh, don't tell Grandma about that). I just like it. It makes me feel crisp and clean. And I like the way it looks when I have several pairs of bloomers hanging in a row. (Hehe.)

The one thing I don't like is when I accidentally bring bugs in with my laundry, and then they are in my clothes. Or worse - my bed. Now, the truth is, I spend a good enough portion of my day out in the fields so, in all reality, most of the bugs (and spiders) (and beetles) (and everything else) in my cabin are coming in on my clothing. (I shower a lot these days.) So it's much more likely that any bug in my bed got there via me, and not because I hung my sheets on the line several days ago.

It's not enough to make me stop hanging my laundry out to dry, but it is enough to make me consider writing a strongly worded letter. And so, another open letter is born.

Dear the earwig,

I know it looks spacious, but this bed is just not big enough for the two of us. I'm sorry. It's not you, it's just ... no, yeah, it's you.

the giant fleshy creature who selfishly wants the bed (and its clean sheets) all to herself

As a side note, in case you were wondering, though I'm sure you weren't, I dry my towels and my underwear in the dryer. The former because I like fluffy towels and the latter because, well, I live at a monastery.

your sister

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

open letters

Dear sister,

There was a vlogbrothers video, a while ago, in which one of the brothers read aloud a series of open letters he had written to various people, and things, in his life. It made me laugh.

Lately I've been thinking of the open letters that I would like to write. Today, while weeding, I wrote a few in my head, and then I laughed at them, and then I thought ... hey, Ella would probably laugh at these too. So, here you go.

Open letter to the 12 million and ten (approx) alfalfa plants I pulled out of the strawberry patch today:

Dear Alfalfa plants,

It's not that I don't like the way you grow up so straight and tall, or the way you roll in gentle waves as the wind passes over you. I don't even mind the seed pods you've grown ever so carefully, and abundantly, and which you so freely share with the world whenever anything wanders, or blows, your way. And I'm sure that I would greatly appreciate the satisfying crunch of your grains in my mouth, if I were a horse.

But the thing is, I'm not. We don't actually have one, either, and, try as I might, the dog is not interested in eating your seeds. (He prefers dandylions.) And the other thing is, you're growing in the strawberry patch. And you're scattering your seeds all over the place. So, it's nothing personal, but you had to go.

I bet you're sorry about this, but trust me - not as sorry as I am.

Best wishes,

Open letter to my back:

Dear my back,

I'm so sorry about today. Let's get a good night's sleep and talk about this again in the morning. Ok?


I've got some more coming, but don't hold your breath too eagerly, because, well, my back hurts and I'm going to lie down.

your I-weed-like-it's-my-job-oh-wait-it-is-right-now sister

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Out with old...

Dear Sister,

Your recounting of How (Not) to Have A Conversation got me thinking about the conversations in my life lately, and how they've changed. It seems that after six years of on and off waitressing, I may have lost some of my patience.

Me: Hi folks, how are you doing? My name is Ella, I'll be your server.
Guest (we aren't supposed to call them customers): **No acknowledgment of my existence**
Old Me: **Stands awkwardly** Do you folks need a moment? I don't want to interrupt...
New Me: Okay, I'll be back in a couple minutes then. Amazingly, I don't have time to stand here while you ignore me. Have you been to a restaurant before? I can't serve you if you don't order.

Me: Can I get you guys something to drink?
Guest: Oh, no, no. Just a water.
Old Me: Absolutely.
New Me: Yeah, I'll be back with that in a minute. Because it's still a drink that I get for you. Unless you were planning on showering in it, but again, I still have to go get it for you.

Me: Are you folks all set to order?
Guest: Oh, we haven't even looked!
Old Me: No problem, take your time.
New Me: I'll be back in a few minutes. Again, have you been to a restaurant before? What have you been doing for the past five minutes? I was under the impression you were here to order food, my bad.

Me: Are you folks all set to order?
Guest: Yes, I think so. Are you?
Guest 2: Um, I can be. Are you?
Guest 3: Yeah, you go first though.
Guest 1: Oh, okay, um...where was it...well...
Old Me: **Stands patiently, smiling**
New Me: Why don't I give you another minute. **Walks away.**

Guest: Which is better, the Tuna or the burger?
Old Me: Well, the tuna is a little lighter, etc. The burger is heftier, but really good, etc, etc.
New Me: Well, do you like fish or burgers? The tuna is fishier, the burger is cow-y-er.

Guest: Is the Cape Codder good?
Old Me: It is, its sort of like Fish N Chips but a sandwich, it comes with fries, people really like it.
New Me: No, it's terrible, that's why its on our menu. People really like it, as long as you like fried fish.

Guest: What's your favorite thing?
Old Me: I always used to get the Cobb Sandwich, now I eat here all the time so I usually just get plain things.
New Me: Nothing, it's all gross, I've eaten it all 800 times. The Citrus Tuna is what a lot of servers get. I don't, because I don't trust our kitchen not to give me food poisoning.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Clearly, the italics are things I think, don't say at the table, wander off and mutter to my friends. But, by far, the thing that annoys me the most is this interaction:

Me: Hey, guys, do you want to order/want another drink/are you all set?
New Me: What, am I supposed to read your mind? Are you telepathically trying to tell me what you want?

And finally, I leave you with an actual conversation. Now, I can't say how I would have responded five years ago, but I think its safe to say I would have been slightly more reserved in my response than this:

Me: If you're sitting at my table, please just order your drinks from me.
Guest: Why?
Me: Why? WHY? BECAUSE THIS IS MY JOB, I'm not here for fun, I'm here so I can pay my student loans. Because this is my job, this is how I pay my bills.
Guest: Oh, is that like, the rule?
Me: Yup, in pretty much every restaurant.
Guest: Oh. Really?
Me: Yes, really. That's how it works. These are my tables, this is my section, if you order from the bar and sit here, I don't get paid and no one else can sit here and pay me.

And so, the moral of the story is, I need a new job. Spread the word. I'll do anything, honestly. Well, anything except take people's orders, bring them food, and rely on them for my income.

your so-excited-to-see-you sister

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Effectively (Not) Have a Conversation: A Play in Three Acts

Dear sister,

One thing I will take away from this experience is the ability to end conversations without (seemingly) meaning to. Observe:

Act I, scene 1. Interior.
person: Did you hear, another one of those big shots - a news anchor or something - has come out and said that he's gay?
me: I know, isn't it ridiculous? As though I should somehow care about his sexuality, like it made some kind of difference to what kind of news reporter he is or something.
person: (no response)

Act II, scene 1. Interior.
person: Oh man, school today was SO GAY.
me: That's kind of weird, cuz I thought your (private conservative Christian) school would, like, discourage homosexuality, not encourage it.
person: (blank stare)

Act III, scene 1. Interior.
person: And all these blacks came over from Africa, and now they're all 'woe is me' about everything.
me: I don't think very many blacks "came" over. (pause) There were a lot who were brought over, though.

So yeah, apparently I'm now a conversation killer. Mea culpa. (And I swear, all three of those conversations actually happened like that - and all within one weekend, too.)

Much love,
your am-I-home-yet?-sister

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Dear sister,

Um ... I'm still alive. Sorry. A little stressed out with job searching and health insurance and all the other fun things that come with being adults. Remember when we thought being an adult meant eating ice cream for dinner and playing with Barbie dolls whenever we wanted?

But I thought I should share with you one of the things that has at least made me feel like I have a tiny, minute, wee bit of control over the chaos of my life. With no further ado, allow me to introduce you to ... the Strategic Plan for Happiness, 2011 (spf-11, for short).

The SPF-11 is split into categories, each with its own sub-headings of long-term goals. Long-term goals are then split into monthly short-term steps, with a column that should read "met...met...met...met...met" by the end of the month. So far, I have about a 40-60% success rate on this column.

Sometimes goals from one month end up getting met in another month; sometimes goals simply get moved on into the next month with no progress whatsoever. And sometimes short-term goals get met and I get to add another step to be completed in the next month! (That's always an exciting moment.)

The real point, though, is to sit down at the end of the month not only to take stock of what I did/didn't accomplish on my list of goals, but also to realize just how much I'm trying to get done. And how much else I did do, that wasn't on my list. To push myself further in some areas (that have consistently blank "met?" columns) and to ease up on myself in others. And to relax, in general, about the need to fixeverythingrightnowohmygoshnothingisworkingoutitallmustbesolvedimmediately.

One category at a time. One month at a time. One step here, one step there ... and eventually it all adds up.

your list-loving-i'll-send-you-the-document-if-you-want-to-adapt-it-for-yourself-since-i-know-how-much-you-love-lists-too sister

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Things I've learned

Dear Sister,

I've been sitting at the hospital all day, waiting for StrongDad, and I finally got the wireless to work (woohoo!) so I thought I'd blog you a post of the things I've been thinking about.

1. 9 to 5s really aren't that bad, especially when you have a cubicle with a window.
2. 9 to 5s really aren't that bad, especially when you have a computer that works at an efficient speed.
3. 9 to 5s really aren't that bad when you are getting paid for them.
4. Do not put a wad of cash in your back pocket, because $60 will fall out between your apartment and the bank. And it will suck. A lot.
5. Do put wads of cash in a container in your room, or the bank, because the disappear a lot slower that way.

Okay, so, clearly, the first three and the last two are in reference to different episodes from my recent life. The first three I realized last week when I was filling in for a producer at LOE, and the latter I realized after, well, it's pretty self explanatory.

Some other things I've learned (relatively) recently? Well, for one thing, "kill 'em with kindness" really is the best approach. I mean, you can (and should) still stick up for yourself, but people have one of two responses when you're just respond with super niceness: they either can't be mad at you, or it makes them super mad. And I consider either of those a win. (This piece of wisdom has gotten me through 6 years of waitressing.)

Also, a sense of humor makes all the difference. Think PecanMama and her health humor, the Gparents not buying green bananas and finally, the most recent example:

(this was found attached to his health proxy form, which appoints BeachMom as his health proxy).

I'll run the possible new names by him later (my vote is for DarthDad).


your sister

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dear Sister,

This is going to be short, as I am currently doing an impression of Rudolf while simultaneously hacking up my lungs. (Translation: I have a head cold, and I'm not happy about it.)

I was going to write to you about chicken guts, and find some sort of website the determines once and for all if those organs of question in your chicken roasting adventure were the kidneys or the gullet cut in two, but...Well, I can't find anything straight forward and quite frankly I can't stomach any more chicken gut images. And so, I will let you duke it out with Grandma. Good luck.

I think that's it for now. My brain isn't really functioning properly (point in case: I just wrote probably instead of properly and then fixed it). Back to bed-- er, sleep, for me. I haven't really been out of bed much except to go to work.

It snowed again here this week. I'm just saying, this is not funny anymore. Why am I getting all the snow?

your red-nosed sister

Thursday, February 3, 2011

rules for the road

Dear sister,
After much brave and often harrowing experimentation, I have been able to ascertain the following set of rules for driving in this, my new state of residence (not that I've changed my license yet or anything, though).

1. Plowing is a process, not an end goal. Don’t expect to see tar or pavement until, roughly, June.

2. Therefore, silly things like lane markings and turn-only arrows aren’t to be followed. Instead, follow the ice-ruts.

3. Also due to the omnipresent layer of ice on the roads, stopping for a red light is encouraged but not expected. Slowing down for a yellow light is more or less a ridiculous idea.

While fairly widely followed, none of the above driving rules explain these people's near-ubiquitous preference for:
1. passing on the right
2. drive-through espresso huts
3. vanity plates

And don’t even get me started on the “choose-your-adventure” ice arenas that qualify as parking lots.

A list of top 10 vanity plate sightings to follow soon.

your white-knuckled, that’s-ok-I’ll-just-stay-at-home-today sister

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A List of Lists

(as in, literally a list of lists, not as in the best list that ever was list to end all lists)

Dear Sister,

Err...Hi? Long time no blog? *Sheepish smile*

I don't have a good excuse for my lack of presence on the blogosphere. I've been getting two, that's right two whole days off a week. Can you believe it? I basically don't know what to do with myself, which I realize is an incriminating thing to say since your answer will be "post me a blog!" or "blog me a post!" (Both of which, as we've discussed, are accurate and acceptable uses of both post and blog.)

What I've actually been doing with my time off is trying to figure out what to do with my life. It's a rather daunting task, and leaves me overwhelmed and, as you witnessed the other day, somewhat panicky. Okay, true, somewhat is an understatement. Although, I'm happy to report, I have yet to have a panic attack today. So, go me!

How do I deal with said panic attacks, you ask? (After I call you, I mean.) Well, KA1 (as I have three good friends with those initials and cannot think of a better pseudonym but will edit this later when I have thought of one) asked me what I was panicking about and I replied: job, making rent, student loans, friends, new city, boyfriends (or lack thereof and confusion about)-- this is the point at which she stopped me, and pointed out an obvious fact: that would give anyone a panic attack.

Oh, right, duh. Thinking about everything at once does induce panic attacks in even the saniest of the sane. So, I need to focus on one thing at a time. How did I do this? Lists! (Again, duh).

And because you like lists, I like lists-- we all scream for lists-- here they are:

To Do List (comprehensive, ongoing).

Job-related To Do List
(you'll notice, "find one" is not on there. Hey, I can only control so much.)

Writing Sample Blog To Do List

Places to Apply To List
(The blank space after each--that's for writing details and updates about. Err..Haven't gotten that far, is all).

Things Not To Worry About Yet List
(AKA Things That Give Me Panic Attacks List)

Things To Blog To Aila About
(Editor's note: For video of apartment please see "I've Been Busy")

There are more (Apartment Wish List, Non-Apartment Wish List, Things To Get Done Before DC Trip, Things To Clean), but they are mostly in my head and I'll spare you (sorta). You probably noticed, most of the To Do lists are, well, mostly un-done. But the thing is, just getting it out of my head and onto paper actually does quite a bit to calm me down. Which leads me to the conclusion that there is just too much going on in my head. Also, I really like checking things off and crossing things out. Sometimes I even make lists of mostly things I've already accomplished, just so I can cross them off.

Hmm...I think there was something else I wanted to tell you, that I thought of earlier but didn't write down because I had no pen near me...And now I've forgotten. Darn.


your list-happy, panic-prone, back-to-blogging sister

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

can I embed video into this blog?

Dear sister,

This is the short (15 seconds) video that, when I tried to email, turned out to be a huge file. The question is, can I figure out how to embed it here?

If the answer is yes, what you see is me learning a new skill, and then saying "I don't think I did that right" (which I hadn't - I raised it up too early), which is then why OAF starts laughing.

your sister

Friday, January 7, 2011

35 degrees? I thought it was supposed to be cold up here.

Dear sister,

Thanks for your response. As you already know, I told PecanMama to read it because I knew it would make her cry. I would tell StrongDad too, but I know he would repeat some variation on the age-old question, "Wait, you girls have a blog?" and I don't feel like answering again. It's not like it was his birthday present or anything. Sheesh. What good is a birthday present that is ostensibly for someone else even though it really serves to fulfill your own selfish purposes if that someone else doesn't even remember they were given it? (Guess that photo of Nancy Anderson just eclipsed all else.)

Speaking of presents, here's your long-awaited round-up of what was waiting for me at the apt when I arrived:

First, Teddy made some new friends:

Myles the Moose and a puppy! I haven't named her yet. Maybe something like Blacknose? Strongfoot? The husky-who-actually-looks-like-a-husky?

Various kitchen supplies:

A book on cheese making (because I want to learn how to make cheese), a thermos which has yet to, but will certainly soon, hold a lot of hot chocolate, and a cast-iron muffin tin (which I was too lazy to go get for the photo, because it's already upstairs in use).

Various snow supplies:

Snow overalls, long underwear (top and bottom!), head lamp (not for spelunking, I asked), and the infamous snow skirt - my new favorite piece of clothing. Missing from the picture: two left-handed gloves (OAF: "Oops.")

Not to be confused with, various emergency snow supplies:

Wool blanket, heat pads, and 5 (?) gloves.

And finally:

From OAF (well, plus all of the above): my very own poser sweatshirt. Now I just have to live up to the label. And from OAF's mother, a pair of warm slippers to keep my feet warm. They are cow hide with deer skin inserts, beaver fur tops, and wolverine/lynx ruffs. At first, based on my upside-down-chicken-roasting "experiment," I thought I should keep a list of "animals I've learned to cook." Then I thought I'd also have to keep a list of "animals I've seen (alive)" while out and about up here. I never thought of keeping an "animals I've worn" list, but ... so far that one is longer than either of the two above.

your sus-sister (As in, suspicious sister: why is it 35 degrees here?)

Monday, January 3, 2011


Dear Frister (that’s freezing sister, as I assume you must be),

You know what’s funny? I actually remember some of those too! I mean, clearly I don’t remember being in the car seat and grabbing your finger, but I think I might actually remember the seat belt excitement, or perhaps I was similarly allowed to unbuckle my seat belt to get Super Tiger his bottle at some point, and found it equally as astounding. But, I can say, quite certainly, that I do remember the kitchen story. And I remember thinking two things: 1) don’t be ridiculous, I have not replaced you and 2) huh, pretty cool, I’m being like Liz! Oh, and a third—3) here, have your spot back. These folks be crazy. You deal with ‘em.

I’ll be honest—I can’t think of an adequate response to your last post. The reason being, well…it was just an awesome post. I tried to brainstorm, but my thoughts kept going back to yours, and morphing themselves into something that would really just be a mimicry. And then I realized—oh, right, that’s what I do.

Here’s the thing—the best thing’s I’ve written are modeled after things you’ve written. 7 Miles to Manilow was the back-bone of both my funeral story and my leg story (hm, yes, I know my writing is somewhat morbid). I’ve had 7 Miles to Manilow stuck in my brain since I read it, and it’s probably somewhere in everything I’ve written. So is the purgatory story you wrote—that one just boggles my mind. I can’t think about it too much because it hurts my brain, and then I try to think about how your brain must work in order to have written that, and that hurts my brain even worse. I always assumed that you and I had the same brain, until I read that story. It was at that point that I realized that your brain does things that mine cannot. Crazy, cool, mind-boggling things.

There are other examples, but those two make my point. You told me that my leg story was a better version of your 7 Miles to Manilow, but you’re wrong. It’s not better, it’s just my version. And here is the thing, it’s only good because it’s based on you. And I think that’s sort of how it works in life. You do something, and then I use that as my outline, maybe make a few adjustments (like going abroad for a semester instead of a year) but basically just put my own spin on it. And I’m always, always trying to wrap my head around your cyclical double story and create something even half as, for lack of a better word, cool as that.

What I’m trying to say is it’s always easier to write from an outline than a blank piece of paper. So thanks.


Your can’t-wait-to-hear-all-about-the-igloos sister