Saturday, July 30, 2011

who says animals can't apply logic?

Spencer likes to chew clothes.

I like him to chew his bone.

So I give him his bone.

And he will ever-so-sneakily put the bone next to my shorts, all the while looking up at me innocently, as if to say, "What? I'm just chewing this bone you gave me."

And soon thereafter, he will transition from chewing the bone to chewing my shorts.

Repeat process. 

(OK, no more Spencer stories ... for at least another week.)

Your weekly dose of Spencer

I put this on my facebook and a friend wrote, "That's not a real puppy."

This is what pet ownership does to you, people -- my first thought was, "But he doesn't knooooow."

Like Samara.

From The Ring.

Don't talk smack on my puppy dog.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Two recommendations

1. I am not a great cook.  Fortunately, my cousin Ashlee is, and she blogs about it here.  Speaking as someone who is not great at anything beyond my staple four recipe rotation, her recipes range from super easy to moderately difficult, so anyone should be able to find something they can copy.

Last night I made peanut butter kiss cookies for all the neighbors who have helped me move in, and despite several mishaps (including realizing hmm, I guess I don't have vanilla, oh hey, maybe coconut extract will do! Also, no oven mitts, huh?  I better be quick!)* they turned out magnifique.  Go try them.  Enjoy them.  And then follow Ashlee's blog, because she's super nice on top of creative.

2. For anyone with fellow writey-pants aspirations, there is a pretty sweet pitch contest going on over here.  I am working up the courage to enter myself.

Let's make a contest pact!  It's like a suicide pact, but not so morbid, and if you fink out on me, I WILL be around to know.

* This willingness to just make things up may explain why I struggle in the kitchen.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who's a creepy weirdo? I am.

You know how facebook has that "people you may know" function?

Sometimes I search through it and randomly add people.  Usually it's friends from high school or college I hadn't known were on facebook.  Sometimes it's folks I met at a party.  It's almost always someone I'm pretty sure I know.

I used to have a goal of keeping my "friends" under 100 -- you know, the people I actually am sort of friends with?  But with the pressure to "socially network" in general and "platform build" (is it just me, or is the idea of building a platform for a currently non-existent product somewhat nauseating?) specifically, I figured, Hey, what the what, right?

But then one of those people I randomly added (based on the fact that we've got five very cool friends in common and I'm fairly certain we've got some kind of nodding acquaintance) added me back ... and promptly messaged me to ask, "Do I know you?" 

Having concluded that"Facebook thinks you do, buddy" is not an appropriate answer, there's really nothing to do but write back with a heavy dose of self-deprecation.

Social media - reminding people of junior high since 2005.

Same thing goes for blogger.  Did I tell you all how delighted I get when I get new followers?  I totally do.  It's a little embarasing, but hey -- there it is.  HI FOLLOWERS!  I LOVE YOU TO PIECES!  (See above re: Creepy Weirdo.)

But this sort of Internet popularity is a double-edged sword, because I also find myself oddly upset when (for example) my blog gets "de-followed."  I just want to know, what was it about me someone found so boring or offensive or distressing?  I TAKE IT ALL BACK ABOUT THE HIPSTER GLASSES!  (Just kidding, I don't.  I'm still a tiny bit bummed, though.  Like losing misplacing that last quarter right when you really, REALLY want a Diet Coke.  Which if you know me is kind of a big deal.)

Have you guys encountered any odd social media phenomena?  Is there something unpleasant I'm going to be discovering about Twitter?  I don't think I can handle any more Moments Brought To You By Seventh Grade. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To be taken with a grain of salt*

So here's a pretty random complaint: hipster glasses.

Both my brothers (who actually need glasses) have some version of the hipster frame.  Charlie's are kinda Steve Urkel, Alpha's are more Buddy Holly.  Because they're a necessity, they bug me less.

But here's the thing.

If you were born circa-mid 80s, like I was, you probably remember the following trends:

Around 3rd or 4th grade, everyone started wearing ripped jeans and flannel shirts over tank tops.  Like Kurt Cobain.

Around 5th or 6th grade, everyone started wearing babydoll tees, platform shoes, knee socks, and mini backpacks.  Like Cher on Clueless.  If your parents were really dumb and you were a girl, you might have even gotten the Rachel haircut.  (Note: No child ever looks good with layers, much less high maintenance choppy layers.)

Junior high was all about middriff tops, baggy pants, and platform shoes.  Goth if you were edgy.  It was all very Buffy inspired, at least at my junior high. 

High school was super low slung jeans, skater shoes, one-sleeved tanks, and sparkles.  Like Britney Spears.  Goth if you were edgy, but it was more about the jackets and less about the makeup at that point.

College was trucker hats and sweatpants one year (Paris Hilton), peasant shirts and long dresses the next (Nicole Richie, post-Paris Hilton).  

Now, some ten years after high school, we're bringing Imaginary Vintage (TM) and hipster glasses into fashion. 

If you genuinely love looking like a Depression-era rich person (because no one during the Depression could actually afford that dress, even taking inflation out of the equation), the nerd from a John Hughes movie, or someone who is perpetually at a Bright Eyes concert, more power to you.  Embrace it.  Hey, I love kitsch as much as the next girl.

Just stop calling it "original," because like all those kids who "rebelled" in the EXACT SAME WAY in junior high and high school by wearing black, you are by no means unique.  You are just following the (still very popular) minority trend.

* Yes, I know the person who comes to work looking like a hobo is a less-than-credible source for fashion advice.  But I had to throw it out there anyway.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A slacker's guide to a housewarming party

So you've realized you're having people over in six hours, have you?

And you've realized you have no idea what you're doing?

Follow these simple steps.

1. Google "easy recipes" and find a bunch of recipes posted by smug jerks that are in no way actually easy.  Then hopefully you find this blog where I just go ahead and tell you the easiest of easy slacker BBQ menus:*

Gourmet hotdogs - hotdogs, buns, regular fixings, and then the "gourmet" part --coleslaw with BBQ sauce, mango salsa and teriyaki, chilli and crushed Fritos with cheese.

Step one: Grill hotdogs.
Step two: Assign someone else to artfully arrange fixings on the table.

Grilled pineapple - pineapple, butter, brown sugar, honey or brown sugar

Step one: Slice the pineapple into spears or rings (doesn't matter), put them in a Ziploc with 3 tablespoons of melted butter, a little honey, and a dash of Cholula or Tobasco.  (Some people also like brown sugar -- it's impossible to go wrong.)
Step two: Let marinate in the bag for an hour or so.  (If you weren't a slacker --  but you are -- three hours would have been a good choice.)
Step three: Grill.

Pulled pork sandwiches - pulled pork, bread

Step one: Go to Costco, buy a tub of Kirkland brand pulled pork.  If there's some Famous Daves BBQ sauce available, get that too.
Step two: Go to wherever you buy bread.  Buy buns.
Step three: Dump pork and BBQ sauce in a container.  (Crockpot works, if you like it warm.)
Step four: Assign someone else to artfully arrange fixings on the table.

Corn and black bean salad - this one will sound complicated.  It isn't.

Step one: Put 2 drained cans of corn, 2 drained cans of black beans, juice from 2 limes, diced avocado and red onion, and grated cheese (pepperjack or sharp cheddar) in a bowl.  Throw in some mango salsa and minced garlic if you're into that kind of thing.
Step two: Refrigerate, if you have time.  It tastes better when all the flavors have had a chance to get down with their bad selves. But since you don't have time, just know that everyone's going to be really impressed that you didn't do a bagged salad, so WELL DONE.

Appies - this is the easiest one of all.

Call your sister and friends.  Pressure them into bringing food, although you had told them earlier in the week that would not be necessary since you had such lofty goals.

Voila!  You now have Hannah's homemade guacamole, Kate and Ryan's famous meat-and-cheese tray,  donuts from that one place Echo really enjoys, and cupcakes from Sadie.

2. Leave work early.  You're not a real slacker until you've shirked some duty.

3. Go home, get your puppy.  You're a slacker, you're not heartless and he's been alone all day.

4. Do not let earlier Gchat conversation with friend Manuel dissuade you from attempting to assemble a grill and propane tank mere hours before your barbeque.  If the Battle of Waterloo was really won on the playing fields of Eton, all your future success will come down to your ability to put this grill together -- or find someone who can -- so MAKE IT HAPPEN.

5. Go to Unnamed Retail Outlet.  Thank the Unnamed Retail Outlet corporate gods they allow dogs in their store.  Pick which ever cheapest/nicest grill looks like it will fit in the backseat of a Yaris.**

5. Go to Costco. No, they don't allow puppies either, but fortunately you have a puppy that fits in a purse.  Buy the pulled pork.

7. Cable puppy in the yard.  Damn grocery stores!

8. Go to grocery store.  Buy everything described above.  Then do that stuff.

9. Call roommate. Have him stop at the liquor store on the way home from work. All non-Mormon, non-pregnant, and non-former alcoholic guests will get so smashed they'll think your party is FABULOUS. All the Mormons and prego ladies will be too polite to contradict them. The former alcoholics are usually grumpy anyway and there's nothing you can do about that.  

10. Make plans to go to the pool the next day, because you deserve it.

Still stressed out?

Here's a cute picture of someone trying to put aviators on Spence.

Awwww, little fella.

* Of course, the point is you don't want people to KNOW you're a slacker, hence the "just slightly more effort than minimal" required by these recipes.

** This is assuming, of course, that you don't run into the problem that I had at Unnamed Retailer - namely, that an employee would refuse to sell a grill on the basis that you don't have a large enough car.  Despite all my arguments, measurements, anecdotes about fitting a 42-inch TV in my backseat, offers to use multiple bungee cords, the employee refused to help me carry the grill to my car.

And have you seen my weak arms?  I can barely carry Spencer by myself.  So in my case, replace grilled pineapple with fruit salad, forget the hotdogs, buy double the pulled pork.

(All in all, it was a pretty solid party.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm a last-minute genius

So I woke up this morning and realized, "Oh balls.  Tonight is my housewarming party."

Do I have any food?

Have I even bought a grill yet?

Is the house clean?

Does the guest bathroom have a door?

The answer to these questions and many others, my friends, is "No."  (Well, except for the house being clean.  It's pretty clean, but it could use a 30-minute once-over before guests arrive.) 

But for some reason, I still feel pretty confident.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


So, even though I'm not sure what it's for or how to do it, I decided to start using my Twitter account.  (Yes, I have one.  Way back in the heady days of 2008, a friend who is in publicity insisted I sign up.  Technically my Twitter feed is now a toddler.)

It's strange how social media can reduce your inhibitions to basically zero. 

There are things I won't write on my blog -- usually because it's either too much information to share on the Internet, or because I don't want to embarrass myself professionally somehow.

There are things I won't write on my facebook because I've lost the urge to try to be funny in a facebook post, and because I've realized I'm facebook friends with a lot of people who aren't real life friends so I'd rather not share too much.

And yet this morning, I seriously considered tweeting, "Narrowly avoided suffocation via knockoff Spanx. A near-death experience is a good way to start the day." 

Clearly, after only 48 hours with Twitter, my e-inhibitions have plummeted.

I think I'm going to have to do a lot of pause-consider-execute or abandon analysis now that this new app is loaded on my phone.  Undies talk isn't something to be bandied about lightly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This is when lawyer veneer comes in handy

You may not know this, but one of the first lessons lawyers learn in law school is how to respond to really, really great news with no more than a coolly cocked eyebrow.  It's basically a Power Point Perry Mason montage.

This isn't the first time I've gotten someone to confess on the stand, and it won't be the last.  Haven't cracked a smile yet, not gonna start now.
So when I get a (rare) positive email from a literary type, I'm fairly good at resisting the happy-dance urge.  And yet, you don't want to go overboard with stoicism. It's a fine line between seeming aloof-but-interested and just plain aloof. 

Luckily in my most recent case, I happened to be gchatting with Lulu when the (hopefully) good news arrived, and she suggested a very nice response.  (When LawyerGirl Powers fail, consult a PRGirl.)  But what would I have done if Lulu hadn't been online?

I imagine I'm not the only one who has this question, so I figured I'd throw it out there for my fellow travelers in BlogLand.  Let's create a cheat sheet (in law school we called them "outlines") for other amateurs attempting to find an agent or get published so we can all be a little more Perry Mason-ish.

**Keep in mind, you don't need to be published or even at the point where you've been asked these questions to throw out suggested answers.  Sometimes it's best to be prepared for good news as well as bad.** 

You hear, "Interesting concept, but I have concerns with X.  Would you consider a rewrite and resubmit?"

You say, ________________________________

What if you don't know what exactly they mean by "concerns with X"?  How do you ask them politely to elaborate?

You say, ________________________________

What if they had problems with X, Y and Z, but you're only willing to consider changing X and Y?  How do you figure out if they'd be amenable to that, or if perhaps you're not yet clear on their problem with Z?

You say, ________________________________

And what all of the above goes splendidly, and you hear, "Good news!  We're offering you representation/publication," but you then decide that maybe this agent/publication/publishing house isn't for you?

You say, ________________________________

Any suggestions (or more questions you'd like to hear potential answer for)?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Estrogen levels approaching danger zone, sir!

Just kidding with that title.

Yesterday I co-threw a baby shower for my friend Kate.  You want some baby shower-related life lessons?

One, the adage "better too much food than not enough" applies to everyone but the person whose fridge will be stuffed with leftovers until this kid is walking.

Two, you can have the cutest, sweetest, cleanest (really, he got a tubby right before the party) puppy ever, but as soon as a guest puts her baby down on the rug, you're going to have to go cable your dog outside.  (Sorry fella.)

Three, food processors are a mystery that are beyond my abilities to comprehend or fix. Much related to life lesson three -- if you don't have a garbage disposal, let people know that before they start washing veggie peels down the sink.  (Sorry sink.)

But here's the thing -- once we had gotten the (way too large amount of) food on the table and everyone had a chance to eat and chat, this thought struck me.  (I apologize in advance for trying to get deep.)

Roughly twenty women (and three baby girls, plus one more in utero) from Kate's elementary school, high school, sorority and family came to wish her new baby girl the best possible start in life.  That's not too shabby of a support system to have from Day One.

We all vaguely know who the people were that there for us when we were growing up.  Teachers, neighbors, folks from church and extended relatives blend together at some point, and you just sort of know that if your parents hadn't been around, some hand would have yanked you back to the sidewalk before you stepped into traffic. 

But it's strange and nice to think that once upon a time, your mom probably attended a baby shower for you, and twenty of her best friends came and dropped off onesies.  Maybe you know who they were.  Maybe you don't.  

All the same, you had friends who loved you before you were even born.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some updates

1. The house training is going moderately well.  Only three accidents this week.  However, it is unclear whether this success is due to me training Spence or Spence training me.  Either way, he's a damn smart dog.

2. Speaking of SpencerPants, I have come to work looking like a hobo pretty much every morning since I got him since it's surprisingly hard to get ready in the mornings with a puppy running around your ankles, and I have found I have a total inability to leave him to cry in the bathroom for more than 5 seconds. 

(I know, I know ... he's going to be the most spoiled dog ever.  I'm going to get it under control any day now, I promise.)

One reason why I think having a baby is easier than having a puppy - lack of mobility.  Baby lies on your bed like a blob, Spencer is three months old and has already figured out how to escape the baby play pen.  (How did he do it?  That's what I'd like to know.  Technically he can only jump high enough to get his head and front paws above the edge of the pen, and yet when I went to take him out on Tuesday morning, where did I find him?  Jumping up and down on my couch.  Pretty sure every jump said, "I did it!  I did it!") 

(Don't get out your pitchforks, blogging moms.  I'm sure the difficulty trend reverses for puppies versus toddlers.  Yada yada, best job in the world.)

3. The writing isn't going so well at the moment, but the reading is going delightfully.  Even though my house is still a bit of a shit storm (see above: difficulty maintaining basic life functions while caring for small dog) my porch is like a little island refuge, and Game of Thones and my Kindle been doing me right.

4. Speaking of the house friend, does any one have some brilliant backyard remodeling tips?
Oh hey, my little patch of earth.  How do we get you looking less ratty?

5. Finally, can we start an association for the proper usage of the word "hypocrite"?  I'm a big fan of clarity in the English language and it seems to me hypocrite means (and I googled for this, people) someone who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion or who acts in contradiction of his or her stated beliefs or opinions. 

Someone who doesn't act how you think they ought to act is not a hypocrite.  Similarly, someone who openly shares some potentially contradictory thoughts is not a hypocrite.  Finally, someone you just don't like for some reason is not a hypocrite.

But someone who has one set of rules for him or herself and another set for everyone else IS a hypocrite.

Here's an analogy for those of you who are experiential learners:

Anthony Weiner sent a cock shot to some girl who was not his wife, then lied (really pathetically) about it.  That makes him a d-bag, not a hypocrite.

Larry Craig took many anti-gay political positions throughout his career, and then was discovered trolling for gay sex in an airport bathroom.  Hypocrite. 

Vocabulary lesson over. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Google+! Bad Google+!*

So you all have heard about Google+, right?

It's this new social media site that is supposedly Facebook's younger, hotter sister.  (According to Charlie.)

I've spent the last few days fiddling with it, and during that time, I've done a lot of reminiscing about that heady spring 2005 day (or 2004?  I'm getting old...) when a sorority sister showed me this thing called "The Facebook." 

It took me all of 5 minutes to master.

And yet here I sit, typing a blog post because I can't figure out how to "share what's new" (Google+'s version of Facebook's, "What's on your mind?").  Either this site is ridiculously hard to use despite its pointlessness, or I have crossed that invisible barrier beyond which all technology becomes incomprehensible, like my dad hanging up a cell phone call by putting the phone down.

Am I missing something, friends?  After all, I didn't jump on the Twitter train, and that actually turned out to be a thing, so I wouldn't especially take my word for it if I were you.

* Yeah, everything comes out in puppy-speak now.  When the guy at the drive-thru gets my order right, I have to fight the urge to say, "Good boy!  Who's a good boy?  You're a good boy!"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Epic battle of wills

So Spence has to take some pills for 5 days to help his tummy feel better.  The demonstration of how to give a puppy a pill (that apparently tastes incredibly disgusting and foams on contact with any liquid) seemed relatively painless -- put the pill at the back of his throat, close his mouth, rub under his chin to encourage him to swallow. 

After some nice cuddles this morning, I decided to give it a shot.

First attempt: Spence immediately starts thrashing his 6-pound body in a way that refutes the laws of physics.  It was like holding on to a tornado.  I fall on my ass as I try to maintain my grip and ultimately fail.  He spits out the pill.

Second attempt: Am better prepared for whirling dervish puppy and hold his mouth shut for a solid minute while rubbing under his chin.  Let go.  I look at him.  He looks at me.  All is calm.  For a brief, shining moment, I think I have won.

Then he spits up the pill.

Third attempt: Since I am apparently not as strong as my tiny, tiny dog, I decide to be cunning.  I hide the pill in a ball of peanut butter.  Spence licks all the peanut butter off the pill and then looks at me as if to say, "You fool!  Bahahahaha!"

Fourth attempt: I dissolve the pill in some Alpo meat chunks with gravy and rice.  (He's only had dry puppy food before now, so I hope he won't notice that this has medicinal aftertaste.)  He seems briefly enthusiastic, and then suddenly stops eating. 

I like to think that maybe 8am is too early for meat chunks with gravy and rice, but I have a suspicion he cottoned to my plan and foiled me. 

I left the spiked Alpo with him in the bathroom when I went to work.  I will find out this afternoon if he finished eating it, or defiantly smeared it all over the floor.  Wish me luck, comrades.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Getting meta up in the hizzy

So Week One of the "Gearing Up To Get An Agent" blogfest is I just had to ask, wherein participants ask the publication-related questions and readers answer them.

Here's my problem: I'm no good at asking questions.

Seriously, I am that interviewer whose only trick when asked, "So, do you have any questions for us?" is to make my smile THAT MUCH BIGGER and hope no one notices I didn't say anything.  And a sweet, sweet three job offers later (out of 48 interviews), clearly my strategy is working.*

I really just don't have any questions when asked, "Is there anything I can answer for you?"

So instead I'm going to turn it around on you, friends, countrymen, and fellow bloggy peeps: What would you ask?

If you had five minutes with a literary agent or editor at a publishing company, what would you want to know? 

* AHEM.  For reals.  So here's my law school/lawyer tangent of the day - in law school, second year students (called 2Ls) participate in what is called "on campus interviewing," or OCIs.  (We abbreviate a lot.  It saves space, and that's necessary when you use words like "herein" and "wherewithal" conversationally.) 

My dad's lawyer buddy advised me to APPLY FOR EVERYTHING and so I did, and because I had relatively good grades and a nice resume, I got an unbelievable amount of interviews.  I was literally embarrassed about it and spent more time the fall of my 2L year in interviews than I did in class.

But because I am a terrible, terrible interviewer (no, seriously, accidental flashing terrible) this led to exactly two job offers.  That, combined with the offer I got to work at my current job, brings my post-law school success rate up to ... let's not even do that math.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Who knew?

I had always assumed I wouldn't like being a stay-at-home-mom.  This is nothing against SAHMs, just an acknowledgment of my own personality quirks.  (They are many.  I know, you're shocked.)

But I must say, staying at home with baby dog today while I telework is pretty much the, and it's not just because I'm still in my jammies.

(Yes, if you read this post a certain way, you could reach the conclusion that (a) I don't find homemaking rewarding and (b) just compared a pet to a human baby.  Just ignore those implications, ok?)

Friday, July 1, 2011

All my life I've had one dream - to achieve my many goals

The year is half-way over, and now I've got some thoughts on what would make 2011 -- dare I say it? -- more bitchin than any other year that has come before it.

1. Finish the first draft of my current story by August 15th.

2. Get Spence housebroken in two weeks.

3. Find the will to finish painting my dining room.

4. Return to Crossfit. Get amazingly hot.

5. Go to New York, see The Book of Mormon musical.


Actually, that's kind of it. 

I don't think setting too many goals is healthy. 

What goals do you guys have now that 2011 is a lame duck year?