Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh, well, that explains it.

"…She's pregnant? Really?"

"Yeah, she went to the same in vitro specialist--"

"She wasn't sleeping around?"

"No, she's not a slut."

"It's too bad, it would make me feel better about myself if she were."

"--The same in vitro specialist as Courtney Cox."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It prefers to walk.

I'm looking at seed catalogs online and I've noticed Temptation Strawberries (last listing on the page) in a few places. They sound lovely and I think I will order some. But what's with this "Plants also produce very few runners" business? I don't expect a strawberry plant to stay in a neat little hole without spreading. It's a strawberry. Isn't the point of a garden to celebrate the way life spreads and grows?

Monday, February 26, 2007

On feeling worthwhile

Well, the ice storm turned out to be a fizzle. There was a little ice, but nothing spectacular and nothing dangerous. I won't exactly say phooey, but it's close. At any rate, getting to work was uneventful. Being at work was not, because I had things to do almost all day. It was nice. I feel so much better when I feel like I'm contributing something. And I've discovered that when I feel I'm being useful at work, I'm happy. I don't need to be doing something extremely worthwhile (technical sales? Give me a break) or beneficial to mankind or exercising most of my brain. As long as I feel competent and useful, I'm content. Well, and if I have reasonably competent management and decent company policies.

I always figured I'd get to this point in my life and psyche eventually, where my ambition would finally quiet and I'd be okay with plodding my way through ordinary life. Everyone does it, after all, and I don't know that I believe so many skilled, intelligent people could live the proverbial life of quiet desperation without protest. It would probably be harder to content me if I didn't have other things that I do consider worthwhile and brain-exercising (or at least skill-developing) that I'm also quite involved in. Also--to be honest--if I didn't have the prospect of starting a new family. That figures into things way more than it used to, and--along with nagging my SO, going on cleaning binges, and cooking without measuring--helps to prove I am rapidly turning into my mother.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another point in favor of the West Coast.

Have I mentioned that possibly the greatest point of contention between Eric and me is where we're going to live? I've promised him Toledo until he graduates, and he's promised me the West Coast for a few years, but after that we'll have to decide based on who hates the other's homeland least, where the jobs are, where the good school systems are, etc. Frankly I'm counting on his dislike for change to work in my favor, once we've lived in a house in Portland (or wherever) for a few years. Today we were in Ann Arbor, celebrating our eight-year anniversary of knowing each other (and one-year of being engaged) by going to the same cafe where we first talked, plus out to eat and also to Trader Joe's, because Toledo has no Trader Joe's. We've pretty much settled it that if we do move back here, we're going to move to Ann Arbor rather than Toledo. I like it better, and the job market would be friendlier for both of us, and apparently the schools are better, too.

We were in Trader Joe's (yay Trader Joe's! Except: boo Trader Joe's not having Granny Smith apple rings or eggplant cutlets or frozen peaches!) browsing the cheese aisle when someone who knew Eric walked by. He started talking to us, asking how he was, and were we stocking up for the snowstorm?

"It's supposed to snow?" we said. He said yeah, that's probably why the store was so full (and it was packed). When we got home we checked the news and yes, we're supposed to get ice accumulation of a quarter-inch tomorrow. That's ice. It may prevent me from going to work Monday, and I'm already having problems with the Valentine's Day snow day because my boss said to put it in as vacation, but the HR people said no because I'm not allowed to take vacation until I've been there six months (great place to work, stupid benefits policies), so I'm supposed to resubmit it as a floating holiday but now the pay period's passed so I don't know what's going to happen. Stupid Midwest winters.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

She likes me, she likes me not

Eric's mom distributed Christmas presents at dinner tonight. These weren't from her, but from Eric's aunt, who lives in Atlanta. I've met her a few times. The first time she said little to me at first, then came to me later and said, "I'm sorry I've been so cold to you; you look so much like someone I don't like very much." Subsequent meetings have been while visiting her dying husband, but despite that she's seemed to like me and be happy that I'm going to be in the family. So these presents: Eric's mom, and Eric's sister, and Edith, and Edith's daughter Michelle, all got jewelry. I got a mezzaluna, a moon-shaped two-handled knife meant for mincing herbs. I'm not sure what to think of this. It's not that I'm displeased not to have received jewelry; I don't wear much and I probably wouldn't have much use for what she picked out for me, considering what the others got (pretty, but not my taste). But I'm pretty sure she doesn't know me well enough to know that. So did she get me this (admittedly interesting, though hardly essential) kitchen tool because she took the time to either think that I'd like a practical tool or ask Brenda or Edith what I'd like, or did she pick out something at random because she didn't feel I deserved the same kind of gift as every other female in the family? (Note that Edith and Michelle are not technically family. I mean, neither am I, but that will change in three and a half months. Edith and Michelle's status won't.) Or did she decide that if I should kill her nephew, I ought to at least have a nice sharp implement to do it most quickly and painlessly?

Friday, February 16, 2007


It's a little late, but I enjoyed this mix of love and science. (I also enjoyed the World of Warcraft reference. Eric introduced Michelle to WOW on Tuesday. She loves it. I sent her character a kitten.) There was also this somewhat more serious study on love. And the Yarn Harlot has posted a good essay on the subject as well. All these sources say that romantic love is not really the end-all and be-all, despite what retailers say.

And me? I say Valentine's Day is a fraud. I am crushed. I am desolate. We went shopping for Valentine's Day candy last night and found it was only discounted by 20%. What madness is this?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Level 3 snow emergency!

Eric shoveled last night. He did. However, this is what our front yard looked like this morning:

The snow was blowing horizontally last night--I've never known snow to hurt before--and I knew I'd be late coming into work today. When we got up, though, it didn't seem so bad. Part of our driveway, true, looked like this:

But the middle of it looked like this, just because of the wind:

So we went out shoveling. Well, since we have only one shovel, Eric went out, and then I took a turn. While I was making a path to the road (no easy feat), Eric came out and yelled, "Come back inside! There's a level 3 snow emergency." A level 3 snow emergency, for those not in the know, means "All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roadways may subject themselves to arrest."

I'm not keen on arrest. I also was not keen on trying to drive that street, from what I saw while shoveling. Driving home yesterday wasn't fun either, and I got home before much of the snow had come down. I already called my boss this morning to say that I'd be late, but now I've called to say I prefer losing a day's pay to getting arrested and/or stuck on the roads. He wasn't there--I hope he's not all day, though I think he can get voicemail from home--but the receptionist was, and when I inquired about the level 3 she said, "That's really your call. We're encouraging anyone to come in who can." However, I think this is because some of the work does require someone to be there every day; but my job is hardly essential, and even if I do have to take the day unpaid (I'm not sure whether we have one floating holiday a year or two) I'm going to enjoy a day home in the snow.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Money talk

We've been talking about money a lot lately, Eric and I. It's really interesting to have these conversations, partly because I've never had to consult someone else about money before (though I did, and still will, ask my parents for advice), and partly because this is part of that feeling I've been having, that my adulthood has been taken to second gear. A year ago I would never have considered these things we're discussing. (Well, a year ago I was unemployed, but you know what I mean.) We've got a mortgage, a car payment, student loans, two jobs, a wedding coming up, hope of a kid in the not terribly distant future, college for said kid some fifteen or eighteen years later, retirement, entertainment, travel money. We really don't spend that much, compared to a lot of people. We don't drink; we don't buy expensive clothes or cars or TVs; we don't go out to eat a lot. As far as entertainment goes, we spend money on World of Warcraft and craft supplies, the occasional dinner at Applebee's or Aladdin's (and I hope Salaam, a new Mideastern restaurant I read a review of last week; it's only a couple of blocks away and we both like Mideastern food, so we're going to have to try it), DVDs and books, and food geekery. He wants an expensive computer, but if he gets it it'll count as a couple of birthday/Christmas presents and he doesn't get an upgrade for a few years. We could reduce our spending, but not by a whole lot. And we're thinking and planning and doing pretty well with it. I enjoy these discussions, not for the actual discussion necessarily but for the feeling that we're taking care of ourselves and we know, at least somewhat, what we're doing.

He's more debt-tolerant and risk-tolerant than I am, so that's something we're working out. He recently paid off the last of his credit card debt, and he's going to start making payments on his student loans (he doesn't actually have to start until 2009), mainly because I want to reduce the amount of interest we pay by any means possible. We're talking about investing in some stocks; I know little about this, but it's supposed to be a good long-term investment, so that's something we're going to work on for kids' college and such. (I'm okay with a bunch of stocks in my retirement, though. I think it's because I don't have to think about that money--Vanguard sends me a statement every once in a while and that's enough. And the statements have been getting bigger, so stocks can't be that bad, right?) I read about credit card arbitrage a little while ago at work, and mentioned it to Eric, so we're doing some looking at credit card offers and what it would yield, and what if we put the money into the stock market, and what if it tanked, and would our parents kill us for even trying it, and so on.

We wrote down our general savings goals. Right now we're thinking $8000 for emergency funds in liquid accounts, $200,000 for college in fifteen to eighteen years, $2,000,000 by the time we retire (in 40 years or so), $25,000 for two cars in about five years, and as much as we can for a house down payment by whenever the next time we move is. We haven't analyzed what it will take to actually make this happen, though (except for the first one, which we've already got). We still don't know exactly how much of our savings to devote to college, to house down payments, to future car purchases, and so forth, but we're trying to figure it out. It makes me happy that we do have a good amount of savings in safe places--my new money market account and CDs at the moment. (I have all the extra cash because I make considerably more than he does--thus the student loans so that he can teach at a school that pays real money.) It makes me happy that I know the various things we'll need money for and that I can think about them without feeling overwhelmed...well, except when I look at the dollar amounts.

I'm also trying to figure out how much I can give way and let him do what feels comfortable to him versus what seems to me to save more money. For example, I would like to save up for our next car so that we can pay with cash rather than having to take out a loan, and he thinks a loan is fine because it's a lower rate and shorter term than a house. But, again, we don't know how much we're really going to have to play with--if and when we do have a baby, we'll have to find out how much that costs, and once he's out of school we don't know how much he'll be making, and once we move we don't know how much I'll be making or what housing costs will be...the more variables we consider, the more there are to add in. But I'm feeling that it's manageable, at least right now. And that it's okay for me to want a $340 birthday present, and to wonder whether we'll be getting money for the wedding, as mercenary as that sounds.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Here fishy fishy

I had my usual aquarium dream last night, only with a twist. (Well, first I dreamed I was in some sort of service program and we were going into space for a day, and I hadn't told anyone because I figured they'd be worried about me, and I was frantically packing my things because everyone had already left and I was afraid I was going to be late for launch.) Poking around my room, behind an interesting hand-blown asymmetrical glass vase Phoebe had given me (she hasn't), I found a glass globe. "Oh, it's my fish tank," I thought. And then, with unusual clarity, "There can't be anything in there, I don't think there ever was and I haven't looked at it in months." But I moved the vase and looked, and lo, there were lots of tiny fish, different colors and sizes, zooming around, and plants and algae dotted here and there. The aquarium was apparently quite happy being self-sufficient. Normally my aquarium dreams involve me realizing that I have an aquarium I haven't checked in months, and it's dirty and neglected, but there are always a few fish left alive. I guess my fish are doing better these days.

(I haven't owned an aquarium since...2000, it must be. These dreams must mean something, right?)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

On the efficacy of being awake

Well. The baby quilt is done (and described at exhausting length--and no, I didn't mean exhaustive--at the craft blog), after sucking the whole of last week down its maw. It ended at 4:30 AM Saturday morning, when I finished the final hand stitch, shook it to get some of the thread snips off, and crawled into bed, moaning slightly as I set the alarm for 9:15. The reason for that was that we had a bunch of business at the bank, and in order to get to the shower at noon we wanted to be at the bank by about 10. As it turned out, I didn't even get my not-quite-five hours of sleep because Edith called at 8:30 to ask if we could pick up the cake. I said okay, somewhat sleepily and somewhat crabbily because I'd been woken up after four hours of sleep, and she said, "You can nudge Eric and call me back with your decision." I hung up, then shouted at the phone, "What's the deal!? I already said yes!" and Eric laughed at me.

We got our bank business done (I have a money market account now) and picked up the cake and all was well. The party was nice, though bigger than what I personally would have preferred--bigger than Eric's sister ultimately preferred, too, I think. She said later that this was only family and close friends, and she figured she ought to get it all done at once rather than have two or three showers. Apparently her dining and living rooms were full of stuff when they got home Saturday. My bed was full of me when I got home that afternoon. She did like the quilt, and I have plans for the pattern, so it all turned out well.

Sunday was nice and relaxing until about an hour after we went to bed, when Eric woke me up and said, "I feel like I'm going to have a seizure." He had three in one day about eleven years ago, and has been on medication ever since, but still gets simple partial seizures (funny feeling in only one area of the body and no loss of consciousness) occasionally. So we called his sister (a nurse) and his mom and went to the local hospital (where his sister works). He never had the seizure, but they found out that his potassium levels were severely low. Between that (low potassium can cause muscle tremors) and his worry about having a seizure and yet another cold he's caught, we figure that explains things. Anyway, we got home around 5 AM Monday morning, and once again I got four hours of sleep in the morning and a nap in the afternoon. He went to the doctor yesterday and the doctor is going to add some medication to his routine, which should help and may even get rid of the simple partials, which would be, as Eric said, "Very weird--but I could get used to it."