Friday, August 17, 2012

Adapt or die...

So I joined ye olde tumblr...

I figured that so much of the time that I think about posting, I am generally at work, or out and about and can't manage a long, drawn-out post... I really just want to give you more of a "status update" level post. This is made exponentially easier by the fact that tumblr has a very user-friendly app for just that purpose, unlike blogger which still requires a web login and copious typing on a tiny keyboard for a more blogger-friendly post.

I can't say don't worry, because I don't know how all this is going to pan out, but much like Jay over at and, I hope to RELATIVELY maintain both, opting for blogger when in the mood for long, drawn out posts that require deluxe elaboration for the full effect of a story, but leaning toward tumblr when doing the mere day-to-day update of awesomeness.

No, I still don't live in a fancy city full of interesting goings-on, but I'm working on it... Much like so many things in my life.

Basically, while this is my first home, I want to play this by ear and see how things go, and while I intend to maintain a presence here, I will also be posting to, which I have also added to the sidebar for your convenience.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Long overdue updates...

Recently, I have busied myself with rejuvenating the ridiculous disaster areas that are the flower beds in front of my house.

...Yeah, it's still six thousand degrees outside, and we've had very little rainfall for months, so the soil is dry as a bone and hard as a rock, but I needed the project to burn off some frustration, pent up aggression, and otherwise misspent calories, and frankly, it was a helpful diversion from other things I've been focusing too much on lately.

So I raked and weeded those bitches like nobody's business, pulled up and reset all of the brick edging, planted six little boxwood shrubs, lined every square inch of that nonsense and then put down some mulch. (Ordinarily I am not a fan of mulch, because I hate how it smells when it gets wet, but I wasn't about to put down rock because that shit is a nightmare if you change your mind about the look you're shooting for later... Mulch was pretty much the only option, because SOMETHING had to be done!)

In the process, I managed to wrangle myself a mean case of poison ivy despite all of my best efforts at avoidance, prevention, protective clothing, (which was bonkers considering the heat index,) and treatment immediately after exposure. I have a stunning display of Satan's itchy devil rash behind both knees, (how I managed that while wearing long pants, I'll never know,) along the side of my left ring finger, and I think I even found a tiny bit in my belly button of all places!

I also cut out an obscenely large clematis, (which was so ridiculous and dense that I actually broke my "bolt-cutter style" ratcheting clippers... Again, don't ask me how the hell I managed that!) And after all that was said and done, I wanted to show off my accomplishments, so I put in a dozen or so new solar path lights so that the magnificence of my achievement can even be observed by the late-night-passerby-crowd.

Of course, not wanting to do all of this in the most intense heat of the day, I took to working on it in the late afternoon and evening hours for a few days, (because I currently have ZERO social life,) and of course that means I was also essentially offering myself as a delicious snack food item for what seems like every mosquito in a ten mile radius... Between those lovely bug bite welts, (scabs where I have scratched like a mad woman,) the lovely and ferocious poison ivy rash, and the dirt which now seems to be permanently embedded under my fingernails despite copious amounts of scrubbing, it's probably best that I don't have a social life at the moment, because I am not fit to make an appearance much of anywhere other than a crack house or maybe a meth lab... If I were about 150 lbs heavier, had nearly visible cartoon-style stink lines emanating up from my body, and had a menagerie of cats and small yappy dogs, I would at least LOOK like I fit right in at a poop house. (I swear, I will finish recounting all of that nonsense someday soon... I recently recovered several unpublished installments of that harrowing tale off an old flash drive, so I think it was a sign that I should probably jump back into that mess for your entertainment.)

Outside of that, I have been remarkably idle at the office... The boss actually told me he didn't have my next big projects organized enough to hand over just yet, forgetting that organizing his utter nonsense into a cogent system or meaningful end is kind of what I do most of the time... He's funny like that.

My basement makeover is on hold temporarily... I've painted the walls and most of the trim work, but can't really do much else until I get the carpet laid, and that's not happening just yet.

The guys who are supposed to be redoing the screens for my back porch should be getting that shit underway in the next week or so, and once that's done I can finish painting the porch soffits, the porch floor, and the front stoop and focus most of the rest of my time and efforts indoors until next spring... I still have a couple more outdoor projects after that, but I'm trying to be realistic about my timelines.

That really just leaves me with cataloging my receipts so as to ease the process of squeezing every last dime out of my insurance settlement as we approach the one-year anniversary of that fiasco, and thus, hopefully closing the books on that debacle for good!

I will say, I am looking forward to the idle time known as the Olympics, because let's be honest, the summer games are really the ONLY games, and once every four years just isn't enough when it comes to international sporting madness taking over 6 channels of my cable lineup and filling up my DVR for two weeks. Seriously... I love that shit, and this year, the games end the same day that Shark Week starts, so basically, nothing is getting done for almost the entire month of August.

That's all you get for now... I hope you enjoyed yourselves, my little jellybeans!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Some people have REAL problems.

So I have been working on updates for here and elsewhere, trying to get caught up with the work I missed with my multiple recent ventures out of town, trying to collect and catalog all of my receipts for the past year to give to the insurance adjuster so that we can wrap up that ugly business, (can you believe it's almost been a year already!?!) and then this evening while I was in the midst of working on some nonsense that seemed important at the time, I got some awful news.

One of my dear friends, (really, family by marriage,) went into labor and delivered her second child. She was a little ahead of schedule with this delivery, but not alarmingly so. This would obviously be considered good news, but then it was coupled with the horrific detail that the baby did not survive. 

...So there's that.

My heart breaks for her and her husband and first child. This is an unfathomably awful thing for anyone to experience, and I can't begin to wrap my head around how awful the experience must be for all involved parties. I feel utterly impotent and have no idea what I can do to help in such an immensely awful time.

I'll get around to more cheerful and amusing updates, including pictures and maybe even video from my trip to see The Admiral, her son, (The Captain) and attending his first birthday party, but now seems like the wrong time to go running with that idea...

Back soon, my little doves.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why are the weekends so short when the weeks are so long?

So I got back from my little mini-vacation. Upon getting home I dove right back into the pile of work that heaped up while I was away. Then I ran errands and attended my cousin's wedding over the weekend... Since then it's been work, work, work, and preparing for another weekend getaway, this time for the annual family reunion.

Post reunion it will be another week of work followed by another trip out of town, this time for the Admiral's son's 1st birthday party. Of course, this conflicts with my plans to spend that particular weekend watching the Walking Dead marathon... Thank goodness we live in the digital age, complete with modern conveniences like DVR!

I still have yet to complete the promised updates on the other blog, and such, but I will get to them sooner or later.

Just letting you know that things are fine and that you are still my little turtle turds!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I've been busy trying to wrap up a lot around the ol' homestead and at the office in preparation for an overdue mini-vacation. (Despite the fact that I love my job, and my boss is great, sometimes it's nice to have a little getaway that doesn't involve staying home and working on my to-do list.) I'll be back probably around the middle of next week, and will update things then... Also, there will be an update to the "secret" blog, and I will update the permissions for the additional readers who have requested access at that time.

Until then, be good my little turkeys!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A turn-around...

So I know I've had my bouts of self-indulgent "woe-is-me" I hate being single and childless moments in the past... And I know that there is probably more of that to come in my future, but today I came to a realization...

There are days when pushing 30, and being unwed and childless can be TOTALLY AWESOME.

What brought me to this conclusion?

Well, you see, the other night after downing a bottle of wine, (over the course of a few hours, it wasn't a wino-chug-fest,) I checked my email and saw that there was "secret sale" going on for one of my FAVORITE girlie things... Luxury handbags. (Yes, I own my own cordless drill, and miter saw, and a bad-ass grill, and I'm still into girlie things like fancy purses... I am an odd amalgamation of traits, but I embrace it, because it makes me a unicorn among women.)

So feeling pretty good, thanks to the wine, I perused the items up for purchase and found two purses and a wallet that EASILY topped $1000 when found at full retail price. I paid a fraction of that... FAR LESS than half. And I got them direct from the company website, so I know they are legit.

And when I got home from work today, there was an inconspicuous cardboard box on my porch... But I knew what was in there, and it made me smile before I was even out of the car.

So I went out to the porch to collect my box, and got giddy with excitement as I brought it to the kitchen to cut it open. And they are BEAUTIFUL bags. I realize that there are starving villages in Africa that could feed everyone for a month on what I spent, but frankly they were the last thing on my mind... Because it was at that moment that I realized that many of my friends and peers have settled for what they thought they wanted. Some are enviably happy, sure, but many of them hate their spouses, or in some cases former spouses... And while I'm not discounting the rewarding nature of parenting for most people, I even know some who resent their children, and that makes me so sad for them.

You see, today was one of those days where a little self-indulgent consumerism taught me a valuable lesson. Those people who got married and/or had children now have other people to consider first. Their spouse's needs, their children's needs... "We need to pay tuition, and the kids need new shoes." Or, "Honey, I am buying a new lawnmower..." or something similar; whereas I only have myself to please. Sometimes I forget that fact. I forget that I have absolutely nothing to tie me down. I have a great job that is super-flexible, and a boss who is convinced I can walk on water, so he lets me do as I please. I can take the projects I want, I can turn projects down if I want. I can work from home in my pajamas, or I can get dressed up and sashay into the office if I feel like it, and through it all, I collect my paycheck, put it in the bank, pay my relatively minor bills, and have the freedom to do and buy whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want it because I only have to worry about me.

It really is amazing that it took me this long to come to this conclusion. I'm kind of ashamed of that. But today, I recognized that I actually have it pretty great and I'm going to go on celebrating me for a while... Just because I can!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Moving on...

Ok, so after much discussion with multiple parties, the big story seems to be a bit of a non-starter. It was a big deal to me, but the general consensus is just, "Well, that shit happens." So I'm moving on to other things.

My boss has been out of town this week, and that thrills me to no end because in my particular office, I am known as something of a "fixer." Basically, what that boils down to is this; any time my boss has something that he lacks the time or inclination to do, it falls to me. This has included, but not been limited to anything from preparing legal briefs, balancing the books, verifying transactions, and cross-checking receipts on expense accounts, to painting walls and assembling office furniture, and preparing lecture materials when he needs to go teach a seminar... My work varies wildly from day to day, and I've learned to embrace a very casual wardrobe that can easily be changed around as the need arises... But since the boss is out of town, he saddled me with a sizable project suited to my particular skill set. Essentially, I was responsible for the repainting and design overhaul of his library... Yeah. HIS library. He doesn't share.

Knowing the type of grunt work involved, and the OCD level of perfection/cleanliness of my boss, I was dreading the idea of having him running in and out and checking on everything repeatedly while I was undertaking a task as unwieldy as painting can sometimes be, and redesigning a room, which under ordinary circumstances would dovetail quite nicely with my particular skill set and recent remodeling expertise... But then he said he would be out of town for a week. SCORE! That frees me up to do things as I see fit, (the right way!) working the big picture first and then sweating the details at the end. (Which is completely backwards from how he would have me doing it if he had his way.)

Well, I accomplished my goals at work, and even won a side wager, because there was a bet in place that the rub marks on the walls left by the book cases wouldn't cover using only paint... Someone was convinced that they would need an additional layer of primer and then paint, but having painted as many walls as I've painted recently, I knew that there was not going to be any problem with coverage.

As if I didn't get enough of this nonsense while at work this week, I took it upon myself to get my basement repainted and prepped for further minor remodeling efforts so that I can host overnight guests without having to set up an air mattress in my home office... I would much prefer just to have a standard setup of normal furniture at the ready as the need arises... And post-fire, I'm not short of furniture, because while some stuff went straight into the dumpster, a lot of really great stuff got relegated to the basement because I made the executive decision to convert two tiny guest bedrooms into one BIG guest room that is closer in size to the master, and convert what was a large walk-in closet into a great little office nook that offers more privacy for office mess than the primary home-office on the main floor... (When your house is gutted by fire, water, and insurance-paid contractors, you can get away with making those kinds of changes without worry of busting the budget!)

So I painted in the basement... Initially I used a paint sprayer. And while the claims show it to be all smooth and simple and fast, none of that could be further from the truth! I gave it a fair shake... It took forever, because the sprayers available to the commercial masses apparently SUCK ASS, but I wanted to give it all a complete coat with the sprayer to ensure that there wasn't just some mental retardation happening on my part and that I just jacked up one wall or something... Nope. The process was painstakingly slow, the coverage was spotty at best, even going super slow, and I still had to take a brush and roller to every wall to correct all the light spots. (I was not pleased with my purchase, and despite the fact that it is now used and covered with speckles of paint, I will be taking it back to the store and demanding my money back.) But after round two of painting, taking a more standard approach with brushes and rollers, the walls look great, the color is fantastic (Behr, French Lilac - a lovely light greyish purple) And so now I just have the trim to paint which won't even take a day, including the time to tape it all out, and then I'll be ready for new carpet (Which, yes, I will be installing myself...) and then I can get everything else set up so that my family and/or drunk friends have a soft place to crash.

I also got most of the weather stripping hung after work today... So that leaves only some pretty minor stuff left on my home improvement punch list. (There are a couple of larger projects too, though... Let's see...)

  1. Paint the front storm door. Just a fresh coat of white!
  2. Paint the exterior trim around the front and back doors, including the cornices and all that nonsense.
  3. Paint the front stoop... The current paint is all chipped and weird, and a horrid shade of red.
  4. Paint the floor of the back screened porch. (I'm having new screens put in professionally, even though I know I could totally do it myself... Some things are worth paying the pros to tackle for you!)
  5. Paint the garage... I would prefer to just knock it down, but unfortunately, my lawn grooming implements and my grill need a home, and so a coat of paint is the cheapest solution to the problem at the moment.
  6. Fill cracks in the brick work with tuckpointing mortar material... (This is not as big a deal as it sounds.)
  7. Till the mound in the back yard where the garden used to be and spread the dirt around so as to eliminate the bulk of the mound.
  8. Purchase and plant some new shrubs in the front of the house. 
That about covers what I have planned this summer. Personally, I think it is all rather doable...  But then again, I know I'm awesome, so maybe I'm biased.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ok, so I've posted it...

I have posted the story I was wrestling with. It is on a private blog that you will need to log into in order to read. That requires that you email me at All I ask is that you somewhat identify yourself, (if you prefer to maintain your anonymity by identifying yourself using your known pseudonym, that's fine, but I need some kind of identifier,) and providing me with an email address so that I can add you to a list of approved readers. I will then add you and email you back with the address for the post and you should be able to read it as a guest.

So there you go.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I have a story... A real doozy of a story, in fact. All true stuff as always. But I am wrestling with whether or not to tell it.

You see, in the grand scheme of things, I have relatively little shame. (I mean I told you all about how I puked so hard I peed on myself the last time I was sick, so you know that there is little I won't come clean about.) The thing is, while I have almost no shame, the same can't necessarily be said for other folks who are lucky enough to share time with me in person. And while my inclination has always been to keep a policy of full disclosure here, I also understand that this is a very public forum, and even if not that many people come here to read, or even remember that this blog exists, if I put it out there, it's out there... And I'm not the kind of person to go airing other people's dirty laundry, even if it does include me in a VERY significant way.

So I think I'm probably going to keep wrestling with this for a while, and do a little homework to see what I can do about posting it in a more controlled (read: "password protected private post" kind of way... I know this can be done, but I've never had to do it here, so I'll have to look into it a little further.) If I can make it work, I'll post it, but if I can't, then you'll just have to chalk this one up to, "every girl has her secrets," and let that be the end of it.

Just know I haven't forgotten about you, my little corn muffins!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Let's get some shit done...

So I've been busy... We know this.

I painted the front door, (it looks awesome). I painted the outside of the french doors to the patio, (they look a little less awesome because I still need to give them another finish coat to smooth out some uneven areas, but they will look awesome.) I've purchased the trim paint to refresh the look of the exterior door frames, the eaves over the front and back doors, and the storm door out front. Also kind of semi-impulse-purchased a new storm door for the back door...(the old one is crappy and awful, and while I was out getting paint and supplies, it was noted that storm doors were on sale, so even though it wasn't necessarily on the docket, I had taken measurements so I could get it when it was time...)

 So I've got another weekend of DIY activity ahead of me. I've already taken the old storm door off the back, (necessary just to get the correct measurements) and done a rough fit of the new door... Tomorrow's activities will be almost entirely back door oriented. (And no, I am not talking about THAT back door... Get your mind out of the gutter!) Basically, I've got to cut the trim rails, do a dry fit of the new storm door with rails, paint the door frame, hang the new storm door, take the actual back door off the hinges remove the old door sweep because it's kind of bent and threatening to damage the new kitchen floor, sand out some problem areas, and paint the back door, let it sufficiently dry, rehang it, and then do some touch ups which will undoubtedly be necessary. (I am just hoping that the weather cooperates.)

In case you were wondering, (and even if you weren't, I will bore you anyway,) it has been like 90 degrees around here lately, which is common for May, but we've also have had a rash of ridiculous storms the last several days. Even on days when we weren't supposed to have rain, as soon as I had/have the time and inclination to get something done, BOOM! Thunder, lightning, hail, frogs, locusts... So I am trying to work it out so that I can do the doors one at a time so that there is at least one layer of something to keep bugs/ heat/ stormy weather/ killer bees/ herpes/ etc. outside while I work on other things.

Incidentally, I am also finally getting rid of an old washing machine that has been sitting in the basement for a long time, and I sold it via a craigslist ad, and the guy is supposed to be coming to get it Saturday afternoon, so if you see a blurb on the CNN homepage talking about a killer who finds victims via month-old craigslist ads for major appliances on the cheap, and I haven't posted in a while, well... you'll know what happened. I am just hoping that his murdering and appliance pick-up don't interfere with my plans. I have shit to do! (I do have plans to have someone else here at pickup time so I'm not home alone with some strange dude and his burly buddy who is supposed to help haul a washing machine out of the basement just show up at my house, so please don't think I'm a total idiot who doesn't plan for the worst case scenario.)

But it's going to be a long and laborious weekend, so I've got to get some sleep so I can get things poppin' early before the weather ruins everything... because between that and being garotted with the cord of the washing machine I was trying to unload, it's all bound to go horribly wrong.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

No rest for the wicked... Still.

(This post will be entirely in third person. Get used to it, or get over it. The choice is yours.)

Ok, so since we last checked in on the Lizzle, she was bitching about something trivial like changes to the blogger dashboard. She has since gotten over it, though she is still not a fan...

She is still not finished with the large project for her real job, though the boss is pretty much convinced that she can walk on water, so he is willing to wait until she is damn good and ready to submit the final product.

In the meantime, she has busied herself with other far more trivial projects for the boss, largely because the smaller projects are far more amusing for her to undertake, and have the added benefit of playing into her unique skill set... These projects include but are not limited to: room design consultation for a home office, furniture shopping for said home office, assembling bookshelves, painting walls, and rolling her eyes rather cavalierly as the boss rambles on about something before offering her own opinion rather than being a "yes-man" to the guy that signs the paychecks... And all at her regular pay rate! Awesome, Possum!

On the home front, she has installed a new door lock on the patio door, removed the old raggedy looking house numbers and installed shiny, pretty, new numbers in a new more prominent location, selected paint and carpet for the basement guest room area, selected paint for the exterior doors, bought new weather stripping and door sweeps to be installed after the doors are painted, pressure washed the driveway, expanded the herb garden, purchased a wine fridge, purchased and hung new accessories in the kitchen and breakfast rooms, cleared stored items out of the basement guest room area in preparation for new carpet and paint, patched basement walls in preparation for the paint, and all the while, she has managed to keep up with basic lawn care, daily meal preparation, and all of the boss' random requests, and submit a loving tribute to her college employer who is receiving a very special honor this weekend.

Basically, Lizzle has been a busy bee. You'll have to forgive her for not posting more. Clearly, there is a lot on her plate.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I hate the new blogspot updates.

The other day I logged into the blogger website to compose a post. The website told me that they were instituting changes. They didn't really give me an option to say that I was ok with the old system, and that I didn't want the "upgrades." I should note that I haven't really used the new system much, at least not enough to know the ins and outs of what has been updated, but I do know that the dashboard that I have to navigate in order to compose a new post is now really cluttered with all kinds of crap I don't want or need.

I am not a fan of the clutter. I liked the old system and not because of any issues with change, but because they have just gone all hog wild with extra buttons and widgets and constantly pushing me to sell advertising on a blog that might get 3 user hits a day. I don't need all that crap, and there doesn't seem to be any way to opt out of it...

I was going to spend my writing time griping about being under deadline for a big work project and yet spending my weekend running errands that do nothing to further my progress on the project that I desperately needed to spend the bulk of my weekend focused on completing.

I would keep griping about this nonsense, but sleep and project work are both far more pressing at this point.

Keep it real.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

An uber-productive weekend...

I'm a little odd, I know. And while I take great pride in getting things done on a daily basis, I also allow certain projects to amass into a small heap until I just know I that if I don't get most or all of them done, I'm bound for a minor meltdown... This was one of those weekends where certain odd little home improvement tasks reached critical mass in my head and I knew I was going to be a busy bee in order get a little relief mentally. A rare weekend of total solitude lent itself particularly nicely to the high level of achievement for which I was aiming.

Given that I knocked them out with time to spare, I'm particularly proud of this weekend's accomplishments, I'm going to enumerate them for you now... Not the most riveting reading, I know, but I just want to be able to look back at this some day in the not too distant future and be able to say to myself, "Damn, I got a lot done in a relatively short period of time. I need another weekend of productivity!"

So here's what I did, roughly in the order that I did it:

First, I changed my sheets and did a couple loads of laundry. This was pretty basic stuff, no need for explanation.

Then I removed all of the vent covers from the vents, marking their location on them so that I could be sure to get them back to their proper places after I was finished... You see, after the fire, the contractors and construction crews ripped out most of the walls, replaced them with new walls, cleaned out the vents put the vent covers back on, and installed the new baseboards around them... But as a result of all the work that had gone on around them, and the fact that they are 70+ years old to begin with, they all ended up looking rather dingy and in need of a little rehab. So I hauled all 20+ of them down to the basement... ("Hauled" is an accurate term here because they are heavy iron things that weigh about 8 lbs each.) I then hand rinsed them of dirt and debris and used pliers to straighten a few bent parts of the grates. I folded my laundry while they dried off and then I proceeded to spray paint them all. Then, I watched a little TV while I waited for them to dry.

Once they were dry, I hauled them all back to their original locations and reinstalled all but one. The reinstallation process sounds simple enough, but since the new trim was installed around them, the fit was quite snug, and so several of them had to be beaten back into place using a process involving a hammer and a hockey puck. We'll get back to that lone cover that wasn't reinstalled momentarily.

I then took a few of the doors off the kitchen cabinets so that I could tweak the hinges a bit for a smoother closing action. I did my tweaking, and rehung them, but noticed in the process that I had slightly damaged the finish in a few places... So touch-ups got added to the list.

At that point, I called it a night and went to bed.

When I got up, I went to pick up business cards for my boss from the printer's. While I was out I shopped for the other items I knew I would need to bang out my list. I picked up a new mirror, some plaster, some herb plants, some topsoil, a few pavers, and a few flowering plants... Saturday's list would take me outdoors, fortunately, the weather was cooperative.

Upon getting home, I unloaded the car, and got back to work. I mowed the lawn, I planted the flowers in a spot near my back door, and I proceeded to dig up the weird non-flowering bulbs in a small patch next to the driveway and moved them out of the way. I then proceeded to set the pavers as edging, planted my herbs, added the topsoil and watered all of my new plantings.

Then I broke down some boxes that were lingering around, and loaded them into the car for recycling later.

That one errant vent cover was why I needed the plaster... You see, when the contractors were installing new drywall, they cut one opening a bit too big and the ragged edge had been peeking out and making me nuts, so I plugged the gap and plastered it so that it looks normal... It still needs to be painted, because I thought I had the right paint in the basement, but I was wrong... So that's another task for another day, after another trip to the home depot.

Moving along with my day, I removed the hardware from the cabinets in the upstairs bath, drilled new holes to accommodate the different handles I'd planned to install, puttied, sanded, and painted over the old holes. While I waited for that to dry, I touched up paint and plaster in the kitchen. Once everything was dry, I put the new hardware on in the bathroom.

Then I hung the new mirror, moved a little furniture around, hung another mirror in the front hallway, hung a few errant things which needed an obscene amount of careful measurement in order to look right on the wall, and called it a day for Saturday. And then I wrote this meandering post which is entirely too long, given its lack of genuine interest or substance.

Sunday holds little more activity than fetching the needed paint for that patch job, painting it, and then sitting on my ass, being awesome.

In the words of the fictional Dr. Sheldon Cooper, "BAZINGA."

Monday, April 09, 2012


So you already know, I lived in a hotel for five months while my house was being fixed. And the hotel that the insurance company sprang for was fine and all, complete with a kitchenette, but it was hardly the kitchen I have here at the house. It really just consisted of a smallish fridge, a microwave and a 2 coil hotplate. Yeah... When you care about food and food prep, that doesn't really cut it.

There was no oven. The burners were electric. The pans were cheap, cruddy teflon-coated nightmares. There was nothing sharper than a butter knife for any kind of cutting or chopping. There was no food processor, no blender, no juicer, and while they did have a toaster, it wasn't anything I was interested in consuming food from. Unfortunately, this lack of a proper kitchen translated to eating out a lot... Too much, in fact. I know that there are plenty of people out there who would say, "Eating out every day, never having to cook anything? That sounds amazing!" Trust me, the novelty wears off after about a week, especially when you actually enjoy cooking, and prefer to know what goes into the food that goes into you. Sure, you can pick a restaurant that sounds good that night, but you can't really control the contents of whatever dish you pick off the menu and around these parts, 99% of what is on the menu has been frozen and shipped in weeks or months in advance. And you would probably be astonished at how few restaurants actually know how to cook broccoli. Unfortunately, this lack of control led to some really unfortunate weight gain... And I'm working on undoing the damage at this point.

I had to complete the kitchen overhaul before I could really comfortably settle into things the way I wanted to, so that also meant a little extra time eating around the work zone to prevent problems with finishes and stuff...

Since being reinstalled in my own home with my own appliances and my own tools, I admit to not only relishing my time in the kitchen, and the fruits of my labors, but also to transitioning into something of a food snob. I'm not saying that I'm going all-organic-locally grown-vegan or anything like that... I'm just saying that I have a much deeper appreciation for quality ingredients and things being fresh and relatively natural. I don't mind standing and chopping vegetables and fruit if it means I don't have to swallow over-soaked mushy crap from a can. I take the time to seek out fresh ingredients and spend more of my time in the produce section for seasonal fruits and veggies, and at the proper butcher shop for minimally processed meats. I admit that it costs a little more, and it takes a little more time, but it is worth it, and I feel better knowing what I'm putting in my body.

The addition of the new grill has also been helpful to the cause.

I admit that there are some exceptions to the rule... I still drink diet Dr Pepper more than I should, and I do occasionally eat some crappy fast food when I'm in a pinch. (And I admit to having indulged in a trip or two to the local cupcakery, which I justified by saying that if I baked my own, I would just end up with a great deal more cupcakes on hand to tempt me, rather than overpaying for a single cupcake that is distinctly sinful and over-indulgent.)

I don't anticipate this page becoming a "foodie blog" or anything like that, but the transition in my kitchen is what's going on for me, and I have little else to report.

The conclusion of this post is unsatisfying, but that's really all I've got. But since I've got your attention, I would like to issue a special birthday shout out to The Admiral. All the best to the very best friend a misanthrope like me could ever hope for.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New toys...

So, I got myself a new toy.

It hangs out in my garage, but it's not a new car.

It runs on gas, but it's not a new lawn mower, weed whacker, or chain saw.

It's this little beauty:

Isn't it pretty? And to boot, it's pretty badass! I've already made kebabs, pork chops, chicken, rotisserie cooked pork tenderloin with a homemade sauce. And while charcoal lends a certain flavor that gas can't deliver, I'll exchange that for the convenience of being able to just get this beauty fired up, cook, and put it away before the neighbors even have the coals heated... And it does offer a smoking tray for wood chips so I can get that smokiness if I want.

I was amazed to find that when I was cooking up some oven-roasted asparagus that just the roasting time for the veggies took longer than every part of the meat cooking process combined.

So, for the remainder of my spring and summer, if you can't find me around mealtime, I'm probably out in the driveway playing with the grill!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


So you asked for pictures of my project... Here we go.

This is a view of the steps leading down to my back door... See that horrid paneling? Yeah, that was the first thing that absolutely had to go.

Here's the main spread of cabinets. They were awful, but simple enough in design that I figured that something could still be done with them... Oh, and see that horrendous formica backsplash? Yeah, that had to go too.

TA-DA! A little blood, sweat, and a day or two later, that shit is toast!

Oh, fear not, I ripped out the continuation of both paneling and nasty backsplash on the other side of the kitchen too!

What was that? You said you want to know what was under the paneling? And you're laying even money on the option that it was commercially adhered to a mega-high-gloss fire engine red paint? DING DING DING, WE HAVE A WINNER!

And with that, the demolition work was complete... (This is roughly when the fire happened so we had a five month hiatus in the process...) Once all the other restoration work was complete, that kitchen looked extra raggedy by comparison, but the contractor did make sure that the walls were sanded flat, primed, and painted... But that was really the least of my worries. There was still plenty to do, and that wall paint would need some touch-ups before all of this was said and done anyway. So I proceeded to take the cabinet doors off the hinges, scrubbed those bad boys down, used wood filler to fill the holes from the old hardware, pre-drilled new holes for the new hardware... Then I sanded out the worst ridges in the doors, and on the frames, de-glossed them all over, primed them, painted them, re-hung them... did minor touch-up work, and BIBBITY-BOBBITY-BOO!

This is what you get!

Get ready, because here's where you find out for just a couple hundred bucks, and a lot of personal patience, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!

Sink and dishwasher area:

Lower cabinets and new floor:

Fridge and bar station area:

Down the back steps to the back door:

And the main spread of cabinets near the stove and sink:

And with that, I patted myself on the back, because THAT--my friends, is what a job well done looks like.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Home improvement never really ends...

So, after five months of hotel living, during which time my house was full of various contractors, construction workers, and carpenters, you would think that there was nothing left to do with regard to home improvement. You'd think that once we had the leak in the breakfast nook under the bathroom and another month and a half of contractors in and out re-plumbing, dry walling, plastering, and painting would REALLY have knocked everything out and left me with no projects to tackle... WRONG.

You see, the kitchen had just been replastered the week before the fire. I had ripped out the horrid paneling and stripped out old wallpaper, and the plasterer had been finished with his gig less than a week before all hell broke loose. No kidding. It was still freshly primed and awaiting paint, I had planned on painting it that weekend, but the fire was on a Thursday afternoon... And firemen with all their equipment and such were not expected to be particularly careful while running in and out to deal with the problem that was my burning house.

The contractor who saw that the fire damage was repaired also made sure that the kitchen got repainted, so that was a nice little bonus. But when all was said and done, the cabinets were as old and shabby looking as ever, because they weren't damaged enough by smoke to warrant replacing. And so I have done my homework and figured out what I want done, and purchased some supplies so that I can make my kitchen as sexy and sleek as the rest of the house.

For the record, the prep work (arguably the most important part) has been a HUGE pain in the ass but I'm hoping that the results justify the leg work in the end... We should know for sure in a little over a week or so.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

A new obsession...

Ok, so let me tell you about my latest obsession... Aside from playing a dozen or more games of Words With Friends at any given time, and every episode from the series "House" (regardless of the fact that I own all the seasons on dvd and have seen all of them multiple times...)

This is an obsession of the nerdy sort... (My favorite brand of obsession, really.) And no, I am not about to launch into a dispassionate argument on the merits of "Star Wars" or announce that I am becoming a "Trekkie." (That is just a little too nerdy for my particular tastes... But I still love many people who love them, so I try not to frown on either too harshly.)


I don't think it is a secret that the best writers are avid readers. So many authors give interviews that will tell you just that... They dive into the written words of others, and that assists them with knowing how to tell the story they want to tell... Or how not to tell it. (I am sure I've read an interview or two where an author implied that they don't generally enjoy reading other people's work because they don't like how the style of others then creeps into their own work, or that they are so often annoyed by the way other writers don't tell the story the way that the author/reader thinks they should.... But for the most part, the best writers are hardcore readers too.) I don't labor under the delusion that anyone puts me in a category with "the best writers." I do, however, contend that I know how to paint a specific picture using the written word. (I've been told I am a glorious verbal story teller, because I have the added benefit of intonation and flailing hands and bodily gestures, but I digress...) I attribute whatever skill I have in either capacity to the fact that under normal circumstances, I am a voracious reader. (I read too slowly for my own liking, but it's only because I take a certain kind of joy in absorbing every word and turn of phrase, and I know that the writers and editors who had a hand in the final product I get my hands on carefully chose specific words and phrases for specific reasons, and frankly, seeing the intertwining threads come together to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts is just awesome... I also make notes in the margins of books I read multiple times, much to the dismay and disapproval of the few people to whom I trust enough to lend said books... But that's a whole other can of worms.)

That said, I have a decent sized personal library. It has been a big problem every time I've moved, because boxes of books are generally pretty damn heavy. It was heart-wrenching to have to throw out many of my books after the fire because they were just beyond salvaging because fire, smoke, and water are not friends with books.

I generally have a pretty steady lineup of books waiting in the wings for ready consumption when need of a new tome arises, but occasionally I do run dry, and while I love rereading books, more often than not, I just crave new input. In those instances, I turn to my friends, peers, family, whomever I trust as far as being a bankable opinion on things they think I'll like, and I ask for suggestions.

I admit that occasionally that I have been steered wrong, and I've found that even among books that somehow mysteriously land on the bestseller list, not all of the suggestions are my cup of tea... But those instances of misdirection are rare. For the most part, my trusted resources give me a push in the right direction.

The last time I put out a call for suggestions, I got a suggestion that I was a little leery to invest my time and money into pursuing. Among other suggestions that I took under advisement, a friend of mine recommended "The Hunger Games" trilogy.

For those of you not familiar with this selection, it is a trilogy of books primarily marketed to the "tween," teen, and young adult demographics. This alone had me worried. (I have had too many people tell me that I "NEEDED" to read the Twilight books with such fervent ardor even when I wasn't asking for suggestions that it was more than a little annoying. I still have people stare back at me with their mouths agape when I say that I haven't read the Harry Potter books. I just wasn't interested in either one, and then my best friend, and most trusted resource told me that her sister had cajoled her into reading one of the twilight books, and my theory was confirmed. She reported back that despite all the hormonal teenage adoration, they were poorly written, and bordered on intolerable. The titles of the trilogy, "The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire," and "Mockingjay" further concerned me. I was underwhelmed with the idea of reading fictional a book about teenagers and hunger. I had seen the titles on the shelves at the book store, and had been so underwhelmed with my mental concept of them that I never even bothered to pick them up to read a dust jacket to see what the fuss was about, even though they were on the shelves reserved for best sellers for quite some time. Pursuing the issue further by asking my friend about the initial premise and finding out that it was about a girl who volunteers to take her sister's place in the literal death match known as "the hunger games" had me ready to write off the suggestion as just ludicrous and banish the suggester to the reject pile, never to be heard from again... But then I decided that since I had the book budget to replace those lost in the fire, and I could always pass it off to my kid sister who is a full decade younger than I am, I might as well give it a shot, if only so I know for sure whether or not to trust that particular person's suggestions ever again.

I am pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised. I started the first book on Wednesday and finished it Thursday night. Friday night and Saturday morning were spent on the second book. Sunday was the third book... (Mind you, these books are about 400 pages a pop, and I am not a speed reader.) I just couldn't put them down! They were simply irresistible! I admit to being shocked at how well written they were. They were interesting without being overly complicated. They were exquisitely paced and suspenseful. I just couldn't believe how engrossing they were. I barely moved all weekend aside from eating, breathing, and turning pages. (And when you've got things to accomplish on the weekends, spending a whole one in a stationary position, reading books marketed to teenagers is really indicative that they are something special.)

So nearly 1200 pages and an otherwise wasted weekend later, I loaned the books to my mother, and she has found herself equally engrossed. She has told me that she is mad at me because now she can't get anything done in her downtime either, and she finds herself fighting sleep to squeeze in one more chapter.

The first book has been turned into a movie that comes out later this month. While I admit to being obsessed enough to lose a whole weekend to the books, I won't be one of those silly folks standing in line waiting for a midnight showing. I won't be in costume when I do eventually go see it, and I ardently hope the movie lives up to the image I created in my head as I was reading... Though based on the previews, I don't think it will disappoint... But then again, many movies do no justice to the books that they are supposed to be based on. So many of my favorite books have been absolutely AWFUL movies, despite stellar casting, properly sized budgets, and best intentions, so I know it is in the realm of possibility.

We'll see.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dropping like flies

In the wee morning hours on Sunday, my grandmother bought the farm... And no, I'm not getting a pony.

If any readers, (I know I've got a couple of stalker readers who loom in the shadows, in addition to my one bread-based commenter,) know about or share in my love of the show "The Walking Dead" then you know what I'm talking about when I say we are not planning on keeping her in the barn. I know my jokes come off as callous, and that I am trivializing the demise of someone who was very dear to me, but but please don't misunderstand. In addition to the fact that humor is how I cope with unpleasant situations, she had been very very ill for a long time, so I've had some time to come to grips with the fact that this day was coming, and frankly, I am grateful that she is no longer suffering, because that is what her life had devolved to.

I feel like all I seem to do around here anymore is report bad news and unfortunate circumstances. And as such, I admit to thinking about hanging it up and calling it a day here at the happy hour. I haven't come to a final conclusion yet, but I feel like I owe it to the few people who still read this garbage to admit that it has at least crossed my mind.

So there's that...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

How is that karma thing supposed to work?

So after the plumber left the other day, I figured I might as well go ahead and get the hardware on the windows in the breakfast room. While I was up on a chair, working on my pilot holes, I noticed a moth trying to get out.

Trying to be karmically proactive, I cupped one hand over him against the window pane, and used the other hand to unlock the window so I could let it out... Little did I know that during the extensive construction that has gone on at my house, someone manipulated that window so that if you unlatch it, the top half slams down to meet up with the bottom half, rather than hanging out up top, waiting for the bottom half to be lifted. Of course, seeing as I had my hand on the latch to unlock it, the top half of the window slammed down and crushed one of my precious digits... I'm pretty sure that If I hadn't been wearing a ring, I would have a seriously broken finger, because it is still pretty painful to move, and very swollen, and my ring was mangled.

And as I freed my hand from between the top and bottom halves of the window, I watched that little moth fly out into the beautiful sunny day... And then I cursed profusely.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Proving "Normal" is just a setting on the washing machine...

Remember back on new year's eve, when I discovered leaky plumbing? Well, we found the source of the problem after ripping out the ceiling of the breakfast room. It was thought to be a bad overflow valve on the bathtub. Well this week, we had the plumber out to fix the problem. He was here for a few hours, he replaced the valve, and re-plumbed the tub drain while he was at it, and in the process he cut out an old, arbitrary drain trap. It seemed like a pretty straightforward job. And it was... Provided that it had been done correctly and completely.

Needless to say, it would not even be worth mentioning if "correctly" and "completely" were adjectives achieved during the course of the work. Of course, following my life as a grand cosmic experiment in the exercise of Murphy's Law, we know that it didn't go down as it should.

When the plumber cut the drain line to remove the arbitrary drain trap, he left the end of the old drain line open and used new pipe to connect the new tub work to the line down the wall... But here's the thing... The tub isn't the only thing that fed into that drain line. (A fact I discovered the next day upon heading to the basement to work on refinishing a chair.) Yeah... I discovered water in the basement from a pipe that was cut off above the main floor of the house. So, I turned off the water supply to the whole house and called the plumbers.

As it turns out, the bathroom sink also feeds into that drain line, or at least it did, until the plumber cut it off. I waited for the plumber to call back... He didn't. I shut off the lines that feed that bathroom sink, turned the water to the rest of the house back on, in order to minimize the amount which I was doomed to be inconvenienced, and waited... Still the plumber didn't call back.

Knowing that the plumbers are known for charging extra to come out on a weekend call, (a charge that most likely applies regardless of whether or not the problem is related to shoddy work that they did in the first place) and that I'd already wasted a whole day waiting on them anyway, I called back, stating that I had isolated the problem, and that they could wait until Monday to send out someone to fix the line correctly.

So we wait... And carry on about our business, knowing that some other problem is lurking just around the corner.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Waiting for magic...

I have been out of the hotel and back in the house for just about a month now, and while some progress is made every day, I have to say that while progress is made most days, I just keep waiting for some magical wizard to come along and wave his magical wand and everything will suddenly be unpacked and where it needs to be... But I'm not 5, and so I know that wizard is a work of fiction and won't be coming to my door any time soon.

So I continue another grand excavation of the nonsense, trying to figure out why half of it was ever acquired and retained in the first place. Hauling boxes of books up three flights of stairs isn't enjoyable either.

And while I do still have a gaping hole in the ceiling of my breakfast room, the leak hasn't shown up again, so I haven't had another midnight emergency clean-up, and I'm hoping the plumbers will be out to redo the pipes in the next week or two, and then my contractor can come and close up the ceiling shortly thereafter, so I am optimistic and looking forward to the day when it is all settled and back to normal!

Its a process.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Here it is! The long awaited Vegas spectacular(-ish)

(This is going to get fairly long and complex... maybe even a little rant-y, so go potty, grab a drink and come back to me when you're ready for a novella on these shenanigans.)


Really? Last chance to go take a lap before we get this cookin' with gas.

Ok... So the last trip to Vegas was just over the top and ridiculous, and frankly the bar was set obscenely high. This trip did not live up to its predecessor, but like any respectable Vegas trip was still a pretty damn good time... Especially considering that we are in a recession, and the lifestyle experienced during this trip is not something experienced by 99% of folks even during the best of times.

First off, please let me say, that given my personal budgetary constraints, this trip is one of those magical events that takes years of careful planning. From my perspective, it is never taken lightly and critical decision making processes are crucial.

Let's begin with a little backstory so you know how all of this works:

I have a wealthy cousin who regularly entertains clients in Vegas, the combination of his wealth and regular visits to Vegas with clients means that when he deems me worthy of the table scraps of what he considers a throw-away Vegas weekend, I know going in that it is going to be one of those few rare rockstar-style events in my life. (I should note that not all of the cousins in the family get those throw-away weekends of VIP awesomeness, I get it because I am awesome, hilarious, and intelligent enough to keep the wit coming even after we're several drinks in... Also because I am untethered by a spouse or children, and I have friends who have a similar lifestyle and mindset.)

So the last time we went to Sin City, I had no idea what I was in for. I had no concept of what this trip entailed, or how incredible it would be. I was simply told, "Hey, you want to go to Vegas? Grab a fun friend. Touch base with me to pick a weekend. You and your friend will need to purchase your airfare and either be on the same flight as I am, or land before me, because once I get there, this show is getting on the road."

I did exactly as I was told. I grabbed the one friend who I knew would be up for anything, my bestie since college, The Admiral, and we got it all set up. --Now there are many reasons that The Admiral is my best friend, and these are coincidentally are some of the same reasons that I knew she was going to be the perfect selection for this new adventure... For starters, the girl is smart, but not just in a bookish way. She is book smart, witty, quick as a whip, and socially aware. She is adaptable and generally ready for anything, because like me, she usually has to plan for the worst case scenario. Also, girl can party. There was no question that she was going to be an all-around, homerun-hitting all-star on this trip. NONE. But that first trip was more than three years ago... She now has a husband and a child, so she was not as readily available this time around.

We got there, we had an over-the-top obscenely good time. We rode around the strip in limousines, we shopped, we gambled, we ate gourmet meals, we drank with reckless abandon, we lounged by the pool, we were massaged by masters of the trade, we danced, we laughed until we cried, and then we got up and did it all over again the next day. And again the day after that... And when it came time to rejoin reality, we became indignant at the idea of having to wait in line at the airport because we'd had VIP access to everything and that level of treatment goes to your head remarkably fast.

Knowing the intense awesomeness of what had transpired, when my cousin asked me if I was ready to go back I leaped at the opportunity and began sorting through suitable travel companions to make this trip as awesome as the first... It was a remarkably short list, made ever shorter by friends who neglected to call me back to take me up on the offer, or declined on the basis that they were in relationships and were uncomfortable going on a trip to the city of sin that was bankrolled by a man that they weren't dating. That list was dwindling to a tiny little handful of elite candidates. Those candidates were carefully vetted on multiple salient criteria until only one remained.

It was a girl that I had worked with during my poorly-chronicled adventures in the Deep South. She was adorable and sweet, but with an unconventional wild streak, and she had gotten divorced from her douche nozzle husband only a few months ago, so by my calculations she was pretty much fully primed for a wild weekend in Vegas. I gave her the primer for this trip, telling her that copious amounts of alcohol were the status quo, so if she wasn't already drinking regularly to get her liver ready for the abuse it was about to take, she needed to train up. I told her to bring clothes suitable for running around in the casinos during the day, and hot party clothes for gourmet dinners and ass-shakin' in the clubs at night. I recounted detailed stories of the previous Vegas trip so she would know what to expect... And I told her in no uncertain terms that there were certainly expectations that needed to be met. She agreed to come in hot and heavy and ready for action. (I should note that the expectations were pretty low. Drink like a fish, flirt harmlessly with the guy footing the bill, and have a great time living like a rockstar.)

... And then we got down to the day before the trip.

I touched base with her to make sure she was really ready, and gauging her excitement level from our phone conversation, she seemed to be chomping at the bit. She was packed and ready to catch her plane and meet us in Vegas.

So I drove to the airport to meet up with my cousin. Our flight was canceled so we were bumped to the next direct flight. In addition to giving me a feeling of impending doom, this delay gave us a few hours to kill and we were arriving a couple hours later than initially planned, but in the grand scheme of things it was a minor adjustment. Her flight went off as scheduled, so she was going to be waiting for us to arrive for about an hour and a half... A really small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things when you know what this weekend really entails. So during our downtime, I gave my cousin the basics on my friend. So far so good.

So we caught our later flight, and sat behind a bachelorette party of girls who thought they belonged on some reality show about spoiled housewives who complain about how horrible their lives of leisure really are... There was an obnoxious dude who hung out in the aisle hitting on all of them during the whole flight while mentioning his 4 children. Basically, the guy had no game, and no chance, but he was trying anyway and while I would've been really annoyed under other circumstances, I was headed to Vegas, and nothing was going to rain on my parade.

We landed, collected our luggage, I found my friend, made introductions, and we found our limo driver who was already waiting for us. Everybody was all smiles and ready for action.

We arrived at our fancy hotel, and checked into the penthouse suite. Keep in mind that this is probably a $2000 a night suite in a brand new NINE BILLION dollar hotel and casino. This is one of those ridiculously posh rooms that you see on travel channel shows featuring the best of the best. The curtains, the TVs, the lighting, the temperature, the sound systems, hell... even housekeeping and other hotel services were all controllable from a little bedside touch panel. And that's not mentioning the fabulous appointments of the bathrooms, or the actual beds. (During the trip, I think I actually described the bed as being like, "...sleeping on a cloud, while being softly serenaded by choirs of sweet cherubs, as unicorns frolic in the meadows..." (Yeah, it was that good... But we've got a lot of ground to cover, so enough about the room and the beds!)

So we quickly changed clothes and went down to dinner at an Asian-fusion restaurant in the hotel. We had a couple of mojitos, and dined with a little friendly getting-to-know-you chatter, with me as a helpful facilitator during any lulls in the conversation, and everything was proceeding exactly as it should.

And then we went out to one of the ridiculously-long-line-ridden hot nightclubs of the moment, where we were rapidly escorted directly around the long line to the VIP area for bottle service and the royal treatment... This is roughly where things started to go off the rails a little bit.

We were seated in a great little VIP nook with two other tables, and initially we were the only VIPs in this particular little section in the otherwise packed club, but that wasn't to last. We got situated with our table, our cursory alcohol in obscene quantities for a three person party, and we chatted a bit while techno-heavy club music pounded around us. The club was already pretty full considering we had gotten such a late start, but since we were alone in the VIP nook so far, we had personal security escorts to the ladies room which my friend needed to use roughly every 10 minutes, much to my annoyance, since she seemed incapable of going alone even with the benefit of the security escort... But again, I tried not to be too put out, because it was her first time there, and her first night, and after all, I was in Vegas, what was an extra trip or two to the restroom when everything else was so awesome.

Throughout the night, the trips to the restroom got a little ridiculous though, seeing as my friend was scarcely drinking at all, meanwhile my cousin and I were both knocking back drinks and doing the shots placed in front of us like we were had just spent a week lost in the Mojave. Of course, as far as my friend was concerned, she was nursing her one drink like she could only get grey goose on war ration coupons and any time there was a shot put in front of her, she not-so-subtly dumped it into the cocktail she had barely put a dent in and proceeded to ignore the task of consuming it like it was her job. (Really, that was her only job during this trip... Drink like a fish and flirt a little bit with the guy who is footing the bill. That's it, and neither one was done.) It should further be noted that she wasn't abstaining because she doesn't drink, I've seen this girl put it away and need to be carried home... She just wasn't drinking.

My cousin tried to loosen things up by periodically throwing bottle-service chocolates at us, aiming either for our mouths or cleavage, (aim was debatable). And that provided a few laughs, as did the giant electronic glow sticks that were distributed into the crowd by the club staff... And the rest of our laughs came at the expense of the other two parties who were seated on either side of us now in our little nook.

To the left was a group of about 7 twenty-something European men who had NO GAME WHATSOEVER, (more on that in a moment,) and to the right was a group of roughly 5 standard American douches who CLEARLY were in over their heads financially when it came to the commitment involved with being in VIP. (This was indicated by lower-level alcohol selections on their table, the fact that they tore through them, and then sat with a dry table, periodically passing out on the bench seating, before stiffing the waitress... And the fact that at one point they actually told my cousin that they were strapped for cash just to get the table and tried begging him to keep them supplied with alcohol.) The European contingent tried using the VIP seating to their advantage, as is customary for a grouping of men in VIP... So they lured in a bevvy of hoochies and club rats with the promise of a free drink. They danced with the girls and apparently within about 15 minutes of hooking them in, directly asked for blowjobs and other sexual favors... Not even the Vegas club rats were falling for that nonsense, so the ladies cycled in and out fairly rapidly with their free drinks and that put a rather sizable dent in their limited table service supply, so they were out fairly quickly as well. (I should note that at some point during all of this, it was noted in our conversation over the thumping club music that it takes genuine effort to get arrested in Vegas... For real. You have to try hard to end up being arrested... This isn't so important now, but it becomes important later.)

After they were through, a gentleman in early fifties and his twenty-something companion in a sequined getup were seated in their place... They alternated between sucking face, and her intensely ignoring him while perusing the club, presumably for more age-appropriate companionship. But by the time they were seated, we were winding our party down. My cousin and I were drunk and my friend had done little more than make unnecessary bathroom runs watch the ice in her drink melt, so I assume she was still sober.

We headed back up to the suite with our glow sticks and our inebriation and called it a night. I had a long steam in my fancy shower, and crawled into the cloud bed to sleep it off until morning.

Saturday morning rolled around, and I was a little hungover, but not unbearably so... and after a fantastic room-service breakfast in the cloud bed, we decided to do a little shopping since my friend, (henceforth to be known as the wet blanket,) determined that the clothes she brought were not sufficient for the level of party we had going on... This despite my directly telling her what she needed to bring. So we dressed, got in a limo, and headed out to the forum shops at Cesar's Palace to see what we could find. She spent more money than she wanted to (and she wasn't shy about letting me know it) on a dress and shoes that were club-appropriate, --a completely avoidable expense if she had bothered to listen to me when I had told her in advance what she needed to pack... Once that was done, we met up with my cousin for a late lunch at KGB where I had what was probably the single most delicious burger I've ever had, even though I could only eat half of it. We walked around on the strip for a little bit, so that the wet blanket could get a feel for the real grit of the Vegas strip. (I was hoping that this might inspire a little gratitude by showing her just how good we really had it on this trip... As compared to a trip spent playing the nickel slots eating bad 4.99 rib-eye at the cheapest all you can eat buffet we can find, while constantly having flyers for hookers and a free lapdance at the Spearmint Rhino thrust at us from all directions as we walk to and from a tiny single room at a Holiday Inn... You know, just for the sake of argument.)

So we got back to the hotel, put away our shopping bags and started planning our evening and had a quick little nap. Dinner was to be at Shibuya at the MGM Grand. (Keep in mind, the EPIC trip to Vegas we had the last time, we stayed at the MGM, and the casino host who handles my cousin for the MGM took a shine to me, so any venture over to the MGM meant we would be seeing said casino host, who still has the hots for me.) Dinner consisted of a 7 course gourmet sushi and Kobe beef tasting menu that was just insanely good... I would try to explain it course by course, but it was all just melt in your mouth little bites of heaven that defy description.

After dinner, we went to Studio 54 and were seated in an odd little setup in the VIP section that was away from all of the other tables and right ON the dance floor and roped off from the rest of the public. (Trust me when I tell you, this was not what I would consider an ideal setup when dealing with the dance-floor-going public of Las Vegas, Nevada... But I wasn't the one sponsoring this shindig, so far be it from me to complain.) So we were dancing, my cousin and I were drinking, and the wet blanket was continuing her ridiculous sobriety challenge in typical wet blanket fashion.

Being that we were only separated from the main dance floor by a thin black rope on three sides, we had people pretty consistently leaning over trying to get the invite to sit with us and have a drink. I was repeatedly approached by the same skeezy creeper and I continually gave him the brush off, (not because I felt superior at all, but because he gave me the creeps and again, I wasn't paying for this shindig, so it wasn't my place to go inviting people in). The guy tried me repeatedly, tried the wet blanket a couple times, and even tried to get in good with my cousin, perhaps hoping for a male-bonding moment. Fortunately, my cousin wasn't buying into that creeper's creepiness either, so he took to kind of dancing off to one side hoping another opportunity to get in would present itself. So we kept dancing and drinking, and the wet blanket danced a little in the outfit that she had spent too much on earlier in the day, and continued avoiding consuming much alcohol at all... (Seriously, if I'd had a baby bottle, I'd have just poured her drink in with no qualms whatsoever.)

So while my attention is focused on the non-drinking efforts of the wet blanket, I see that my cousin is in something off an across-the-VIP-rope-tussle with creepy guy and what seems to be creepy guy's friend. In a surprising turn of events my cousin went into super-alpha-dog-if-someone-doesn't-stop-me-I'm-gonna-rip-your-face-off-mode... (It should be noted that while my cousin has what I would categorize as a large and colorful personality that occasionally rubs some people the wrong way, the vast majority of the time, he is a very mild mannered guy. He is not one to get into fights or start up drama that is unnecessary. He keeps his cool better than I do, and I'm not known to fly off the handle without REALLY significant provocation.)

Seeing as we were in VIP, our account of the events apparently carried more credence with the club security who was on the scene in no time flat and promptly put creepy guy's friend in cuffs and escorted him out of the club with no questions asked... Or at least that's how it seemed from my side of the table...

I had no clue what had just happened... We went from zero to 6 security guards in no time flat and within a couple of minutes we were back to enjoying ourselves and the two creepers were gone, so I carried on, completely unconcerned with what had just transpired.

(For the sake of continuity, I will go ahead and tell you now what happened, even though I didn't get all the facts for another 24 hours)

Apparently the creepy guy and his friend were trying to get into VIP by chatting up my cousin, and he was being fairly cordial until the creepy guy's friend (Creeper #2) decided to make a statement that upped the ante, so to speak. Apparently Creeper #2 decided to tell my cousin, "I'm going to fuck your friend." To which my cousin replied, "Oh, really, which one? Because I haven't seen either of them talking to you." And Creeper #2 pointed to me and said, "Her, and it doesn't matter that we haven't talked... I'm still going to fuck her."


So now we know why my cousin went all alpha dog and didn't tell me until WAY after the fact. He was being all protective of me, and didn't want me to worry because he wanted me to enjoy my evening. (While the rape threat is certainly concerning, the protectiveness and concern for my enjoyment of the night out certainly gave me a big ol' case of the AWWWWWWs!)

So after more ridiculous dancing and drinking for my cousin and I, and more mysterious non-drinking from the wet blanket, we pretty much closed down the club and then headed back to our hotel to crash for the night.

The next morning my cousin and I were pretty hung over, and so room service breakfast was really all we could muster the energy for... He went back to bed, and proceeded to spend his Sunday betting on the NFL games from bed. Meanwhile, the wet blanket and I went in search of souvenirs for all the suckers back home. We were gone for most of the day, but upon our return, I was not surprised to see my cousin still in bed, nursing that hangover and streaming two games to his computer with another 2 games on the TV. We chatted for a bit, he mentioned that he had a 90-minute "man facial" down at the spa later, and that we should plan on dinner after that.

So the wet blanket and I got a quick nap in, cousin got his "man facial" at the spa, and we got ready for another night out.

We headed out to Julian Serrano for a dinner of assorted exquisite tapas and the second best mojito I've ever had. Over dinner we discussed the plan for the rest of the evening. My cousin informed me that we were going to make a quick trip to a club which signified how the wet blanket felt about him... So we headed off to "-5" which is a club constructed entirely out of ice. (He and I thought it was quite funny... The wet blanket didn't seem too fond of the joke.) So we get to -5 and are instructed to check our shoes and evening bags, and suit up in big boots, gloves, huge fur coats, and we were given souvenir "trapper-style" hats to keep our ears warm. And then we went into this strangely small "club" where there was music playing, a bar made of ice where a bartender took our orders from a limited selection of over-sweetened drinks which were served in glasses made of ice... While we waited on our drinks, we were told to go ahead and have a look around at the rest of the place, which consisted of several ice sculptures, walls of ice that were lit from within, and, an ice luge for shooters if we were so inclined, and several seating areas all constructed from ice. It was neat, and it made for some really cool pictures, but it was clearly not someplace where anyone not on staff was intended to spend a large chunk of time... It was really more of a novelty bar than one designed to get you in and keep you there and spending money.

We took a few pictures, drank our overly sweet drinks and moved on.

At that point we went to the Cosmopolitan and did a little gambling at the blackjack tables. It would seem that luck was not with us, as we proceeded to watch our dealer turn more 20s and 21s than I ever would've believed possible. Shortly thereafter, my cousin left us to play the slots for about 45 minutes while he tried his luck in the high-roller section. After which time we regrouped and he sent the wet blanket and I off to the hotel while he sorted something out with his casino host at the Cosmopolitan, noting it shouldn't be long and we would decide what to do when he got back.

So the wet blanket and I took a cab back to our hotel... which was really within walking distance, but seeing as it required crossing several lanes of Vegas weekend traffic, we took a cab. The cabbie was pissed because apparently he had been waiting in the cab line for something like 20 minutes and since we weren't going far, we weren't going to be a big fare for him, so he audibly groused for the approximately 3 minutes we were in his cab. As we got out and I paid the fare, I told him he'd have gotten a real tip if he hadn't complained about doing his job, but since he made such a production of his displeasure, I was only giving him a minimal tip by rounding up to the nearest dollar. I probably didn't teach him a lesson, but at least he knows he cost himself a real tip (which would have been double the fare).

So the wet blanket and I are back at our hotel. She proceeds to go to bed because she's a wet blanket, and that's what we blankets do. I stayed up because my cousin was only about 30-45 minutes behind us and I was under the impression that we still had further plans... And had the wet blanket held out, we did, but since she went to bed early, when my cousin got back and he said he'd have felt bad about leaving her alone in the room, he and I just sat up and chatted for a while. (It was at this point he informed me about the tussle in the club the previous night.) We reminisced about how much more fun we'd had with The Admiral when she'd come along on the last trip. I repeatedly apologized for the Wet Blanket and he told me he would give me a mulligan on this one, and while there is still the possibility of future trips, a repeat of this shit show better not happen again... And since we weren't going anywhere with the wet blanket in bed for the night, we both decided to just call it a night so we would be minimally fresh for flights out the next day. He had an early flight, while the wet blanket and I were on afternoon flights. He left in the morning without a word, and after another room service breakfast, some gambling on the slots at the Aria, and packing our bags, the Wet Blanket and I checked out and headed to the airport.

Incidentally, the Wet Blanket and I were on separate flights about 30 minutes apart with a layover in Chicago. She asked the airline worker at the counter if it would be possible to put us both on the same flight but her flight was full so she wanted me to ask the same about my flight when I got to the counter. I told her I would, but I totally didn't because I admit to some seething irritation on my part, and frankly at that point I was ready to be rid of her... It didn't matter anyway. I was soon to learn that I was on a full flight as well, and that it was to be the worst flight I've ever taken... (And before you ask, it wasn't bad in the "Oh my god, this flight is going down, we're all going to die!" kind of way... Get ready for this.)

So after a long weekend of living it up like a rockstar in Vegas, (with my seething irritation for the Wet Blanket in tow,) I admit that I was tired and a three hour flight from the rockstar lifestyle back to reality was going to be less than awesome just on principle.

While boarding, the airline staff announced that the flight was going to be 100% full. Naturally, I figured since there was no chance of landing in a seat with an empty seat next to me, I figured I might as well just find a seat relatively close to the front of the plane where I would be able to get off the plane in a reasonable amount of time, and preferably not sit next to somebody who was going to drool on me, or talk my ear off, or otherwise be a bother... So I found a row occupied by what appeared to be a bitchy Jersey girl in yoga pants, with hair as fake as her busted up Louis Vuitton bag. Judging by the fact that she hadn't moved said bag into any kind of storage, rather than the seat next to her, she seemed more interested in her magazine than listening to the announcement that the flight would be full. Ok, so she's going to keep to herself... Good enough. I asked politely if the seat was open, already knowing the answer... But she was being every bit as bitchy as I pegged her to be, and trying to make a stink about having to put her fake-ass bag under the seat in front of her. But at least I had a seat pretty close to the front, and would be able to sleep during the flight... Or so I thought.


So about 5 minutes later, as boarding continued, some random couple asked her if she would move to the row in front of her so they could sit together. She pitched a fit for a few seconds and then moved. Since I was on the aisle, I had to move so she could move and they could get in, which made no sense at all, whatever...Ok, so now I'm sitting next to this random couple... WHATEVER. The couple gets situated, I sit back down, boarding continues, etc.

As the boarding line wraps up, some random businessman with an enormous carry-on bag full of what I assume to be very important files, a computer, some gold bricks, and maybe a Prius, saunters onto the plane and decides that even though there are no seats in my immediate area, he has to hoist this gigantic carry-on into the bin over the row in front of me. But maybe the balance and alignment on that Prius were all wonky because he lost his grip on the bag mid-way through stuffing it into the bin, and ended up dropping it directly on my head... And while I did suffer a blow to the head, I did recall the audible gasp from my fellow passengers as the Prius-laden bag tumbled onto me, and I do recall all the other folks asking me if I was all right, while the douche nozzle that dropped the damn thing just tapped my shoulder, said, "Oh, you're fine," before a second wobbly attempt at hoisting the bag, and then meandering down the aisle to wherever an available seat was located.


So I had boarded the plane just wanting to snooze, now my head is killing me, and every EMT school dropout on board thought they should give me a concussion exam before allowing me to have a nap. So that chews up the first 30-45 minutes of the taxi and flight. Once all of the other passengers in the seats around me were sufficiently convinced I didn't have any diagnosable concussion symptoms or brain hemorrhages, they left me alone. A short while later, I'm guessing about 15-20 minutes later, I finally fell asleep... Only to have that slumber interrupted when a flight attendant dropped a whole box of those little bags of peanuts in my lap. DAMMIT.

So, again I try to get a little nap in... Only now the random couple sitting next to me has decided to whip out the portable DVD player and a comedy flick, and proceeded to cackle obnoxiously at random intervals. Eventually, (I'm guessing about an hour in to their movie,) either the comedy fizzled, or I just got better at tuning it out because I was able to doze a little bit... Until the turbulence kicked in. So then I was awake again... With little hope of sleeping as there is continual jostling, I fruitlessly tried anyway.

Once the turbulence died down, there was about an hour left in the flight, and I finally dozed off one more time. (But don't worry, it didn't last!)

So I guess to signal the start of the final hour in flight, another flight attendant begins to tour the aisle with a tray of coffee. (The more perceptive readers out there can already see where this is going.)

I don't know if the flight attendant merely stumbled, or if there was an air pocket, or what, but as I am just sitting in my seat with my eyes closed, and suddenly there is hot coffee all over my lap and running down my leg... GOOD LORD.

"Oh, did I get you?"

"Uhh, yeah... A bit." (Please note this was DRIPPING with sarcasm, as it was abundantly clear that she had "gotten me")

"Oh sorry. I'll bring you something."


"Here is a towel... it just has sparkling water on it, but that should do it, right?"

"Whatever, fine... I can't catch a break on this flight anyway."

"What do you mean?"

"All I wanted was a nap, and all I've gotten was a giant bag dropped on my head, a box of peanuts in my lap, a whole lot of turbulence, and now hot coffee all over me."

"Oh. Well, um, sorry."


So the last 30 minutes or so of the flight was unremarkable, so nobody had to die, but of course, once we landed my fellow passengers thought it would be fun to razz me about how awful my experience was as we all waited to deplane.

"Heh heh, bet you can't wait to get off of here..."

"You think?"

"Yeah I hope nobody else drops another bag on you... Since they've put the coffee away."

"Man, you're hilarious."

Seriously, what ever happened to human compassion? When you see someone is already having a really hard time of it, it is considered kind of rude to give them a hard time over what a hard time they are having... Seems a little like kicking a man when he's down... But like I said at the outset, WORST. FLIGHT. EVER.