Search This Blog

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Office Space

Here at Writinggal Headquarters(where again, I do more than just write this blog), I have a nice little set-up: My very own 90-degree-angled desk, a calendar (already set to September because we writers need to look ahead), a brand new dry erase board and a lovely storage trunk for my articles.

In the daytime I get it all to myself but in the evenings I have to share with a co-worker…

He has a laptop and he likes to come in here to check his email. For awhile he would just get a pillow and plop down on the floor. He’d have papers scattered all over the place, sometimes clothes too (how restaurant week of him).

So I made my co-worker his own little work space. I set up two TV trays, a chair and I even got him an inbox for his papers, receipts and who-knows-what-else. But my co-worker chose to defile his mini-office:

He doesn’t even have room to put his laptop on his “desk!” It’s on the floor again! So now he basically uses the TV trays to pile up papers, and he STILL works on the floor in the evenings!

Okay, okay. I could deal with that. As long as he kept it in his area—his cubicle, if you will. But last night he apparently mixed work with adult beverages because I found THIS in my Writinggal trash can!

A beer bottle? Now it was one thing to put it in the bedroom trashcan
but my office trash can? It’s against Writinggal policy to drink at the office (except for on Groundhog Day or other important occasions). I can’t have this co-worker ruining my image, destroying my office space and worst of all, leaving a little bit of beer in that bottle, making it tempting for Writinggal to go on a Thursday morning drinking binge!

My co-worker is lucky that he is so cute or he would definitely be fired.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Don't Wear the Ribbon?

I’m down with the pink ribbon for breast cancer. The yellow ribbon for soldiers. The red ribbon for AIDS.

But did you know there was a purple ribbon?

Frank said they’re all over his work. I took a stab at what it meant:


“How ‘bout the crisis in the Middle East?”

“I know! Remember the hurricane victims!”

“Uh…Oprah’s got a new Broadway show?”

Since my guesses were getting colder, Frank told me: The purple ribbons are to remind you not to leave your kids in the car. There’s even a flag for it—right next to the Stars and Stripes and the Lone Star!

Now let me just say that it’s TRAGIC if you leave your kids in the car and something awful happens to them. But does it warrant a ribbon? And if so wouldn’t it fall under a general child abuse ribbon?

What’s next?

A black ribbon to remind you to cut off your stove?

A brown ribbon for checking your trunk very carefully to make sure soup cans didn’t roll out of your grocery bags?

A white ribbon for sun block?

A silver ribbon for flushing the toilet? Would you wear two if you often needed to double flush?

A green ribbon for remembering to put the flag up on your mailbox if you’re sending a letter?

I know green doesn’t really make sense but red and black were already taken. And speaking of the colors, that’s Frank’s biggest issue with this purple ribbon campaign:

“I mean, did they have to take purple? That’s like a major color!” he said.

I agreed: “Plus, purple is the least popular car color!”

So even though we don’t think you should leave your kids in the car, we don’t wear the purple ribbon. We wear a multi-colored ribbon and just say it’s the ribbon for everything.

Oops. Did I just let Frank leave the house wearing a rainbow ribbon?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"That’s so Restaurant Week!"

I’ve started a new phrase and I’m calling on you, blog readers, to help it catch on.

Here is an explanation of its origination:

Once a year and only once a year, Frank and I go to a fancy restaurant. It started last year when we went to III Forks for restaurant week. It’s a week in August where frugal folks like us can enjoy the good life (a meal with three courses) for a mere $35 a person. Sure, that’s how much we usually spend on the entire bill at a restaurant but this time we get a lot more food and a little bit goes to charity.

Of course another reason we used to avoid fancy restaurants is because they don’t serve sandwiches. And I heard a rumor that they frown upon customers turning filet mignon into BBQ between bread.

But last year when we went to III Forks it was heavenly. And my favorite part? The salad! As soon as the meal was over I started feeling PMD (Post Meal Depression). I said to Frank, “We have to come back here…maybe for a special occasion?” He said, “We will! For restaurant week next year!”

So this year we made reservations again but this time at a different restaurant—Chamberlain’s Steak House. We were joined by Courtney and John (who always split their meal and make us feel like oinkers) and Monica (who was in town from San Antonio).

Courtney and John were going to pick up Monica from the airport and meet us there. When Frank and I were walking up to the restaurant Courtney called and said, “We’re stuck behind the longest train ever!” They were going to be about 15-20 minutes late. I told the hostess when we walked in, “We’re a party of five but three of us are caught behind a train.” She was very understanding.

Then this high school girl came bounding in, all dressed up. “We’re a party of twelve but I just came in because I have to pee really bad!” The hostess kindly pointed her in the direction of the restrooms. Then her flurry of high school buddies came in and sat at a huge table.

Between our train explanation and the high school girl’s tiny bladder, I told Frank that the hostesses were probably saying, “This is so restaurant week.”

So that’s my new phrase for when things are low-class, ghetto or just plain bad manners. Like when I used Monica’s bread plate instead of my own she said, “Elsa, you’re so restaurant week.”

And later that weekend when John jumped in the pool with all his clothes on, I said, “He is so restaurant week.”

And just today, when Cul de Sac Carrie and I were on our morning walk and I saw cigarette butts in the alley I said, “These people are so restaurant week!”

It’s really versatile—kinda like dundies.

John Mark Karr and his fake confession? Totally restaurant week.

Sandra Oh’s be-jeweled bod at the Emmy’s? Very restaurant week.

People leaving their carts in the parking lot of the grocery store? Major restaurant week!

See? As long as we keep the saying alive, it can be restaurant week all year long.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Have you met my new palette?

My new food palette likes everything. This includes things that my old palette detested: mustard, broccoli, salads, sushi…it would take fourteen blogs to list ‘em all.

But in 2004 I got a new palette. Brother-in-law David’s girlfriend Laura calls these two eras of my life “Pre-Palette-Change” and “Post-Palette-Change.”

Here is what life was like Pre-PC:

WG’s mom: Just tell me what you’ll eat and I’ll make it for you! Please EAT SOMETHING!

WG: I just want macaroni and cheese. Can’t I just have that every night? Oh, and mash potatoes?

WG’s mom: I wish you would eat something green. What if I mix it up in a dish?

WG: No, no green. And I don’t want one of your “dishes.” (i.e casserole).

WG’s roommates: What are you eating? It looks weird.

WG: It’s just a T.V. dinner. What’s weird about that?

WG’s roommates: Well, it’s called a “Kid’s Cuisine” and you’re 19. And why are you putting it on bread?

WG: I’m making a sandwich out of it! Everything is better as a sandwich!


WG’s co-workers: Wanna go eat at Baja Fresh?

WG: Nah. I don’t like that place.

WG’s co-workers: Oh, you don’t like Baja-style Mexican food?

WG: No. It’s the “fresh” part that turns me off.

So basically, back then I only liked sandwiches. And cheesy poofs. And queso.

Life Post-PC:

In 2004 I became a vegetarian for 40 days and 40 nights (Lent). Frank said, “You’re the only vegetarian I know who doesn’t like vegetables.” I thought I could live on cheese and bread and beans. It wasn’t that different from what I normally ate. But one day I had spinach lasagna. And then spinach enchiladas. And then…I think I actually ate a salad. I LIKED other things!

Ever since then (even though I eat meat now) I’ve been daring when it comes to food…trying sushi, all kinds of vegetables and even pickles!

This weekend I was telling some college pals that I don’t even have bread in my house. “Then how do you make sandwiches out of your spaghetti?” they asked. “I don’t!” They thought someone had snatched my body. Nope. Just my palette!

The best part of my new palette is playing the game “Name something that you think I won’t like and I bet I do…”

Here are popular ones:
Olives? They’re all right on pizza.
Liver? I don’t think I’ve ever had it but I would try it!
Anchovies? I don’t think I’ve had that either.

Okay, so that game would be more fun if I could remember more of them but try me; I’m like a circus act: The girl who will eat anything!

I’m much more fun to take to restaurants, at dinner parties and at Whole Foods cooking classes. Feel free to invite me to any of them.

And to my mom, feel free to send me recipes for your “dishes.” I missed out on them in the Pre-PC years and I’ve got a lot of eating to do to make up for it!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why Juice Newton Rocks

Long before Shaggy sang “Shorty, you’re my angel, you’re my darling angel, closer than my peeps you are to me, baby…” Juice Newton performed a similar ditty. Well, except for the “shorty” part. Oh, and I don’t think she had any peeps.

But if she did have peeps, do you know who would be one of them? A four-year-old Writinggal. Yep. Juice's was my first record (besides “The Muppets Take Manhattan”). I played that 45 on my Fisher-Price record player over and over again. And sometimes I would flip it over to “Playing with the Queen of Hearts.” But mostly I played “Angel of the Morning” because, you know, those lyrics about a one-night-stand were really relevant to my life as a pre-schooler.

Just call me angel of the morning ANGEL
Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby.
Just call me angel of the morning ANGEL
Then slowly turn away...from me.

Oh, and I really turned it up when she sang:

If morning's echo says we’ve sinned,well, it was what I wanted now.
And if we're the victims of the night,
I won't be blinded by light.

Ah, the good old days--before they started putting “explicit lyrics” warnings on records.

But back to why Juice Newton rocks:

This is still one of the catchiest, most moving songs ever. And I don’t even care that the Juicer remade it too; it rocks. And Queen of Hearts is a total classic. In fact, Jaime and I used to jam to a Chipmunks’ remake of that one. Alvin, Simon and Theodore did a nice cover but Juice really rocked it.

Besides that I liked her really long hair and big teeth.

But then again, what four-year-old could resist a singer named Juice?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Tummy is Not My Friend

Yesterday I didn’t even know what a Hatch Chile was but I eagerly agreed to go to a festival in its honor with peeps from the cul de sac. I couldn’t say no; the proposition included two of my favorite “B” words: Blue Mesa and Buffet.

But here’s my problem with buffets: I get there and I get so excited and I want to try everything. Then, of course, I go back to get a second plate and after that I can’t shovel anymore food in my mouth. It’s like I’m Carnie Wilson after gastric bypass surgery.

The “buffet full” is different from the “Thanksgiving full.” After the turkey meal, I can’t even look at mashed potatoes and gravy; I can’t even stand to smell another broccoli cheese casserole and if I even hear the word “cranberry sauce,” I might just puke.

But at the buffet last night my brain wanted more fajitas, enchiladas, guacamole, chips, salmon, chicken, beans…but my stomach said “no vacancy” (and it was flashing with the “v” and “a” missing so it said “no cancy.”) But even as I was clutching my stomach in pain I looked over at my neighbor Terry’s plate and thought, “Is she not gonna finish that? Because I sure would like some.” What? It’s my damn brain; it’s never full at a buffet!

Now dessert is another story; it goes in a different vestibule. I always have room for it. And apparently at Hatch Chile festivals you still get chocolate, cheesecake and flan. It was freakin’ awesome.

My only regret is that I didn’t have a stomach the size of Carnie Wilson’s pre-surgery. Then I could have tried many more things—and really gotten my money’s worth (which is why Frank hates taking me to a buffet).

But the Blue Mesa Hatch Chile festival buffet was certainly delicious. Although I’m pretty sure I forgot to eat a Hatch Chile. That’s okay; I hear Chuy’s is having a soiree next week. Hatch Chiles (and my tummy), watch out!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Elsa Show

If I see you and I start to babble, forgive me. I work alone at Writinggal headquarters all day so when I go out to dinner or talk to someone on the phone, I pretty much explode.

Thea called yesterday on her way home from work and I immediately launched into “Brown Eyed Girl,” an homage to yesterday’s blog. But before she could even tell me why she was calling, I continued with ramblings of the day’s events, anecdotes and gossip.

Uh-oh. She hadn’t even bought a ticket and I was putting on “The Elsa Show.”

This is what Frank calls my little routine of sorts. I usually do The Elsa Show when we go to dinner with a group of people. I guess I just have to be the center of attention so I tell lots of stories, babble and under no circumstances do I let Frank speak.

When we visited friends in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago I even bragged about my ability to sing all fifty prepositions---“The Preposition Song,” I call it. Naturally, our dinner companions requested that I perform the song at the table. Which I did.

"Aboard, About, Above, Across, After..."

And later Shel Silverstein came up and I just had to perform my second grade talent show act which was the poem “Clarence.”

Here I’m saying “spray to make his hair look wetter…”

To be fair, our friend also recited “Homework, oh homework, I hate you, you stink…”

But then the next night I did the preposition song AGAIN. And then when I was telling the story at book club about how I recited the preposition song, they requested it and I did it a THIRD time.

I have to stop. I told Frank as much. He said, “That’s okay. You’re just doing The Elsa Show.”

It’s a variety show, really. I do monologues, I sing…I even dance (anyone seen my “hey boys” jig?) Right now I do the show for free to people who don’t even ask. Soon, though, as my fame continues to rise, I’ll have to start charging. Don’t worry; ticket prices will be reasonable—unless you want the preposition song. Something that good is gonna cost ya.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Casper Marry Background Law

That’s what I used to think Van Morrison was saying in “Brown Eyed Girl.” Turns out he was saying “Cast my memory back there, lord.” I like mine better.

And no matter what he’s saying, I think that song is stupid.

Oh, I was still dancing and singing along when it came over the muzak at Whole Foods last night, but I still think it’s stupid.

Why? Because 75% of people in the world have brown eyes! So what’s so special about this “brown-eyed girl?” Nothing! Yet whenever the song comes on, some brown-eyed female will say, “Oh, that song’s about me!” Yeah, you and 70 billion other people.

Whenever the song comes on I tell Frank about my issue. I always say, “He might as well say ‘my girl who breathes oxygen.’ ”

We then usually try to come up with other topics Van could sing about:

“My pizza-loving girl”
“My girl who wears blue jeans”
“My three-meal-a-day girl”
“My shoulder-length-haired girl”
“My girl with eyebrows” (now I would be left out of that one)
“My deodorant-using girl”
“My girl who likes to go to the mall”

I could go on and on but I always favor the oxygen one. Frank found a flaw in that one though: EVERYBODY breathes oxygen…but a lot of people have brown eyes. So it has to be something that a lot of people have but not necessarily everybody. He then came up with the best one of all:

“My girl whose social security number ends in an odd number”

I love it! And it goes so well with the song too:

Laughing and a-running, hey, hey, Skipping and a-jumping

In the misty morning fog with

Our, our hearts a-thumping

And you, my girl whose social security number ends in an odd number
You, my girl whose social security number ends in an odd number

Even though I think our version is better, I guess Mr. Morrison did make a good business decision. I mean, had he written a song called “my ambidextrous girl,” not as many people would be able to relate. Plus, who wants to get it on behind the stadium with that girl?

I think we're actually singing "Living on a Prayer" but we would do the same for B.E.G.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Name Games

You know how I feel about people misunderstanding my name. I currently have two people I run into on a regular basis who don’t have it right. One girl always calls me Elise and the other, a guy, calls me Elsie. It’s too late to stop it now.

But the other day I heard a good one for Frank. I was making dinner reservations and I said, “Frank” and the girl asked, “Maria?”

Yes, Maria.

On this same topic, I was going to tell you about how people think Thea’s name is Pam but apparently I’ve already told you about that. Here it is again in case you missed it about a year ago:

My friend Thea (Tay-uh) is in a similar predicament as you can imagine. She gets "Thee-uh" all the time which I admit is annoying but also understandable. What's not understandable is the response she gets when she introduces herself: "Nice to meet you, Pam." Pam?? When Thea first told me this I thought she was crazy...or deaf. But then I noticed when I would talk about her people thought I was saying Pam too!

Oh, and one more question: Do I look like a big yet stylish storage box to you? Then why do people think my name is Elfa?

When I have to spell my name on the phone and I say “E-L-S-A,” people often think the “S” is an “F.” I get that. I get that S sounds like F. But what if someone spelled out Melissa? Even if I thought someone said “M-E-L-I-F-F-A” I would stop for a second and think, “Hmmm…did she say S or F? Which one makes more sense?”

And in my case, “Why would someone be named Elfa?”

Maybe people think I’m the founder of that storage company. In that case, the container store can start sending me some money.

Just make the check out to Elfa and Maria Simcik.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Roommate Rationale

This ain’t no political blog but I gotta mention something I saw on CNN last night:

There was this crazy, militant Osama-follower talking about how evil Westerners were and how we deserve anything that happens to us. Why? Because we had supposedly done all these terrible things to “his” people. (He was actually just a British dude who had adopted these extremist views as an adult.)

As we were watching I came to a realization and said it out loud: “I know what’s going on here: This is a case of the roommate rationale to the highest degree!”

What is the roommate rationale? Well it’s only one of Writinggal’s favorite, most important theories:

I first witnessed it freshman year of college when I went to visit a friend at a dorm near mine. She had just gone shopping and she put the bags all over her pot-luck roommate’s bed. I asked, “Is she gonna get mad because she can’t sit on her bed?”

“She better not,” my friend said. “She uses my computer all the time without asking.”

Oh, I guess that makes sense.

But here’s what ends up happening; roommates rationalize all their behavior by reminding themselves of something the other person did:

“She made a lot of noise getting ready yesterday morning so it’s okay if I come in late and wake her up.”

“Why should I have to ask her if it’s okay if I get three cats? Her boyfriend is always here.”

“She borrowed my dress without asking. I’m gonna borrow her boyfriend.”

But see, they never tell the other person about their rationlizations so, to the rooomate, it just seems like she's doing these rude things. That is why I blame the RR for the “psycho roommate” phenomenon. In college we heard this phrase a lot and our jaws dropped in horror at stories like, “She stole all my underwear!” Now that’s weird but come on, you didn’t do ANYTHING to provoke her? Even something as small as not replacing the toilet paper roll?

I think there’s some chicken and the egg involved here too but I can’t take credit for that theory.

But you could see how entire wars could be fought over the RR. Although it usually only happens to girls. This is because girls don’t say what’s bothering them. If it were guy roommates then one of them would have said from the beginning: “Hey, dude. Quit using my computer,” and saved everybody a whole lot of anguish.

And what became of the roommates who inspired my theory? Shopping bag girl ended up moving out on computer-borrowing girl--just up and left one weekend while the other girl was away.

Well, at least they both got some good “psycho roommate” stories out of the experience.

Reuniting with my non-psycho college roomies (I'm pretty sure nobody stole anybody's underwear but I'll check.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cul de Sac Carrie Confesses

You know how I feel about Subway and their conspiracy to make America fat with their confusing mayonnaise bottles?

Well, this morning I learned that Cul de Sac Carrie is in cahoots with them. And just like that skinny, beltless suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder, she has confessed to the crime.

Here are the details:

Last week when Frank was out of town, Carrie and her husband felt sorry for me and had me over for dinner. I’m not too proud to accept a pity meal; it was really good! For dessert we had banana pudding.

Ah. A moment of silence, please, for this amazing BP.

After I had one piece Carrie asked if I’d like another (no-brainer) and then asked if I wanted small, medium or large. I said, “Medium!” and she gave me a large. We then washed it down with Kahlua and milk. My point? I KNEW what I was consuming and I didn’t even ask things like, “Is this skim milk?” or “Is the pudding the sugar free kind?” I didn’t care.

But then yesterday CC said that she had a bunch of leftover ingredients and if she made it again would Frank and I like some? Duh.

So she brought it over last night in these cute little martini glasses (a presentation idea she admits to stealing from me). Although later when Frank ate his he said, “This is MUCH better than your parfaits!”

I had to agree and I also added, “I know it’s a ton of whip cream but Carrie said it was the light kind!” We then simultaneously scraped every last bit of whip cream off of our martini glasses. I was thinking to myself, how bad could a few bananas, some sugar free pudding and light whip cream be?

Then this morning on our walk Carrie confessed. I guess I had suspected all along. It was just too thick and creamy to be light. She said, “I have a confession to make.” I screamed, “The whip cream wasn’t light, was it? WAS IT?” She admitted that it wasn’t light, that she had inadvertently bought the wrong kind. She even said, “I’m like Subway junior!”

But the good news? Cul de Sac Carrie ate the fattening whip cream too. So I’ll forgo my urge to take her to Subway and force her to eat their mayonnaise. Plus, it was quite nice of her to make us that BP. I think she feels bad about the whole thing and you know what that means? I’ve got another pity meal coming my way!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Are you a sogger or a cruncher?

There are two kinds of people in this world (besides those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t):

Those who like their cereal soggy and those who like it crunchy.

If you’re not sure which category you fall into, please review the following descriptions:

Soggers (that’s me):
We pour the cereal and then we fill our bowl to the brim with milk. The cereal floats around in the milk. We then wait until it gets even soggier before we eat it. At the end, we drink the leftover milk right out of the bowl.

Crunchers (that’s Frank):
You pour the cereal and then pour the tiniest bit of milk. You eat your cereal right away so that the bottom part that’s touching the milk doesn’t get soggy. You dump any excess milk in the sink.

These preferences go far beyond cereal though:

Personality points: patient, friendly
Personality probs: Passive, couch potato qualities
Nationality that most represents the soggers: French
Celebrity soggers: Nick Lachey, Jack Black, Britney Spears, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stein, Joe Isuzu
Pro Neil Diamond? Very much

Personality points: reliable, efficient
Personality probs: Finicky, impatient
Nationality that most represents the crunchers: Japanese
Celebrity crunchers: J. Lo, Madonna, John Cusack, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeremy Piven, the guy who played Gunther on Friends
Pro Neil Diamond? No way

Now that you’ve figured out which one you are, here’s the most important question: which one is Neil Diamond? Oddly enough, I think he’s a cruncher, even though he’s loved by the soggers. Now that ought a give you something to ponder at the breakfast table.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Breaking Child Labor Laws

I’m all for kids not working in sweat shops but there are some places where they should work.

Example? Safety patrol.

When I was in elementary school the fifth and sixth graders ran that operation. As I passed by them on the bus, I wondered how they kept it all straight. When do you tell cars to go? When do you tell people to go? What are the different hand signals? Aren’t you worried about getting run over? And where and how can I get my hands on one of those cool orange sashes?

You see I couldn’t be in the safety patrol. Only “walkers” and “riders” could do it. That meant you had to live in the neighborhood where the school was. I lived a short bus ride away so I got the safety shaft.

Here in Dallas we live right by an elementary school so we see walkers and riders every day. And starting yesterday they were back. And you know who else was back in business? The 72-year-old crossing guards. Huh?

That’s right. No kids. In fact, they’re the opposite of kids. Don’t get me wrong. I like Carl. (Carl the Crossing Guard is what I’ve named him. We’ve never spoken; our relationship just involves a lot of waving and if the top on my Bug is down, the occasional, “Great weather we’re having, huh?”)

Carl’s post is closest to my house but there’s another dude—an older guy—on the other side. The other day I told Frank that school would be starting soon and we’d probably see them again. I said, “I wonder if they’ll switch sides this year.” And Frank said, “You mean there are two of them?” He only knew Carl. So yesterday as I drove by, my fear was confirmed. They had switched sides. I had the other, older guy! And get this: when I waved, he didn’t wave back! This is gonna be one long school year.

When I told Frank about the switcharoo he began sharing his own safety patrol saga. He was thrilled when he was chosen for the prestigious guard in fifth grade but then one day, a group of junior high kids came by and stole his flag. They started to run around, waving it and mocking Frank. Finally a car drove up and then they stopped. Frank said that the adults in the car asked him if he was okay. He still looked pretty shaken up by the whole thing.

I told him it’s probably because of him that kids aren’t in charge of safety patrol anymore. Maybe it should be called “Frank’s Law.” Well I think that law stinks. I don’t want to put Carl out of a job (does he get paid, ya think?) but the kids should really take back control.

Here is my message to the kids: Get out of the sweat shops and back onto the streets!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cookinggal Takes on Coupons

Everyone knows we Simciks likes to save a buck but up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never clipped a coupon!

Was I too good for the coupon?
Did I not know where to find coupons?
Did I not own a pair of scissors?
Did I not know where to store and organize all the coupons?

All of the above. Well, except for the scissors part. I own a pair but they’re always upstairs when I’m downstairs and vice versa.

If I came upon a coupon I would put it in a drawer in the kitchen. Then when I would open the drawer to try and find something else, I would get frustrated that there were coupons floating around. I would check the expiration date and HOPE it had passed so I could throw it away.

Now that’s no way to use coupons!

Then I saw a story on the Today show about coupons. I don’t remember what they said exactly but it motivated me to go buy a little coupon organizer. Then the next Sunday, I made the trek upstairs, got my scissors and started clipping coupons out of the paper. I even made labels for my organizer: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Health & Beauty, Household items and Restaurants.

I couldn’t wait to go to the store and use my new tools. I was so giddy about it I told Cul de Sac Carrie. She said I should also check the grocery store ads that come in the mail.

“What’s the deal with those things, by the way?” I asked. “Do you have to clip out the specials or what? I just throw them away.”

She told me that you can plan your groceries around the ad. She picked up one and said, “Look. Here are red, seedless grapes for $.99 a pound. That’s a great deal.”

Ah! I pay $4.99 a pound!!

She showed me more specials in this miraculous grocery store ad. I quickly revised my list and headed off to the store.

I didn’t end up using any of my coupons but I did use the ad. The only thing was, a lot of times it said “10 for $10” and I didn’t want ten. But in some cases, like with yogurt, I got ten anyway. Oh, and it said “Two cantaloupes for $1.” I didn’t want two big old cantaloupes but what are you gonna do? The ad says you have to get two.

I told CC about this and she laughed and said, “You don’t HAVE to get ten! They’ll still give you the same price if you get one or two!”


Now I know Frank wants to know how much money I saved using the ad. All I know is that I spent $63 and we ate for two weeks. Sort of. I did start running out of food towards the end. And once I ran to the store just to get milk and I spent $20.

But today I’m going back in, this time with an ad and my coupons! If it says “Ten for $10” I may get ten or I may get just four, who knows? I’m feeling crazy!

By the way, does anyone need nine packages of sliced cheese?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Praising the 80's

Are these people…

a). Posing for a picture in 1984?
b). Extremely religious?
c). Dressed for a costume party?

I have to tell ya, I’m not sure what the answer is. I know it’s not C but it really could be A or B.

Which brings me to a question Frank and I often ask one another:

Why do ultra-conservative-religious people dress like the 80’s?

Take Nicki on Big Love, for example.

That hairdo is not only dated, it’s complicated. This is why I’m perplexed:

If someone is super-religious and therefore against all things that have to do with vanity, I could understand if they chose not to wear make-up, if they didn’t cut their hair or if they wore very conservative clothing.

But I don’t understand why they would dress like the 80’s. That takes a lot of work: an extra layer or two of make-up, several pairs of leg-warmers and the hairspray—my God, the hairspray!

Frank says it’s because they’re just behind the times. If that’s the case somebody should tell them. They’d be rejoicing in the streets if they knew that straight hair was in and that they no longer needed to stress about what would become of their bangs should it rain.

I know how we can figure out if Frank is right. We’ll just keep an eye on ‘em for the next couple of decades: Will they stay in the 80’s or will they migrate into the 90’s and then today? I say they stay put—they like the big hair too much.

But if it’s the year 2026 and I see someone in a “Team Aniston” t-shirt, well then we’ll know that Frank was right. Alleluia.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ugliest Girl Update

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Writinggal Blog for a special report:

No, I’m not going to explain to you which liquids can’t be taken on a plane, this is better (and far more important).

I was originally going to write about another topic but I think I’ll save it for tomorrow. While doing an image search on Google for this other topic, this picture popped up and I KNEW it must be fate:

That’s my high school band! And yes, I was a member the year this picture was taken. While I’m not in the picture, do you know who is?? Brad Jones!

I’ve been wanting to show you Brad Jones forever. Why? Let’s recap:

In junior high Brad Jones told my friend Kathy that I was the ugliest girl he’d ever seen. And while a simple look-see at my junior high yearbook could confirm his theory, I’ve never gotten over it. And he didn’t show up to the ten-year reunion so I didn’t get a chance to let him have it.

Now this is not an invitation to bad-mouth B.J. in the comments section. But based on this pic, he wasn’t really in any position to criticize. I’m just saying.

But then again, even Brad Jones had a girl hanging all over him! What’s up with that?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's With Walgreens? Part II

It’s been almost a year since I unleashed my wrath on Walgreens. I know I vowed not to go there anymore but I caved…Did you know you could email them pictures and they’ll print them out for like $.19? I love it.

Also, I started using their pharmacist as my general doctor. I’ll act like I’m there to buy some OTC drug and then I’ll casually ask, “So do you think these drops will help my ear?” And then he’ll say, “What’s wrong with your ear?” Bam. I’ve got a free consultation. Plus, I know from my pharmacist sister-in-law that they own those ear-light thingies AND stethoscopes! Why waste a $20 co-pay?

So anyway, I ran in there last night to get a few things (including a giant gallon size of Listerine for like, nothing) and to ask my doctor (I mean the pharmacist) why Neosporin gives me a rash. I got in line to pay and of course, the make-up counter girl tries to steal us away to her counter. Why would I walk all the way over there when I’m positioned here, right by the door?

I stayed in the regular line and then Jessica checked me out. She made me uneasy but I couldn’t figure out why. Then she asked me, “Would you like two Pay Days? They’re only two for $1!” Just as I was saying, “No, thanks,” I thought to myself, she REALLY wants me to buy those Pay Days. Does she make commission on them? Then she added (pathetically), “Are you sure? They’re really good.” Okay, now I KNOW you’re working on commission, Jessica. What’s the deal? (Again, didn’t say this out loud.)

She fessed up anyway: “It’s just that if I don’t sell 15 of these by the time I leave, my boss will yell at me.”

“Yikes,” I said (still not offering to buy any).

“I’ve only sold eight,” she said.

“Well, that’s pretty good!” I told her.

“No,” she said. “I was supposed to sell 15 yesterday but I only sold seven. So today I had to sell the difference of what I didn’t sell yesterday plus 15 more.”

“Man,” I said. “They’re ruthless here at Walgreens.”

Jessica looked startled and quickly said, “Oh, I love working here. It’s a great job!”

Then she turned to the next lady in line and asked, “Would YOU like two Pay Days? They’re only two for $1! They’re really good!”

I know what you’re thinking. I should have helped poor Jessica out and bought the damn Pay Days. But don’t you see? That would only encourage the suits at Walgreens to keep up these strange selling tactics.

And by the way, even if they are going to force their employees to push things, shouldn’t they give them a little more training in how to deal with customers? You don’t TELL the customers that you’re going to get in trouble. That’s the second time in my life I’ve had a Walgreens employee spill their guts to me about their fear of their boss. Isn’t that odd?

Or is that all in the Walgreens Grand Plan?

I’m not sure. But I do know that my ear is acting up again so I’ll probably go over there to see my doctor soon. I’ll ask him what he thinks.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Late-Night Look-alikes

I know how Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, feels. People say she looks like Conan O’Brien.

How can I relate?

I have been told I resemble late night talk show hosts as well.

First, it was Jay Leno. This was because of my under bite I had growing up for which I had surgery to correct. I can’t be certain that anyone actually called me Jay Leno but as I’ve said before, I fear people said it behind my…chin. Also, whenever I explain to people that I had this under bite they say, “Oh, like Jay Leno.”

Yes, that’s right. I looked exactly like Jay Leno.

And until yesterday I didn’t think that having similar features as a rich entertainer meant that I, in any way, could have even the slightest bit of his success.

But then…another comparison…

I was at the Periodontist talking about this gap I have in my lower bottom teeth. Yes, even though I had all this jaw surgery hullaboo thirteen years ago I still have a gap. (Note to the kids: when your orthodontist tells you to wear your retainer every night, DO IT!)

So the Periodontist was talking to me about options for this unwanted space. After he finished listing the not-cheap solutions, he said, “But then again…David Letterman has that gap in his teeth and look where he is. I don’t think he’d be as successful without that.”

Um, so you’re saying I should strive to look like this?

I mean, come on. Can't I get a classic gap-toothed beauty comparison like Lauren Hutton?

How 'bout crazy-crucifixion-crackin' Madge?

No, you had to go with David Letterman.

These two comparisons can’t be coincidences. They can only mean one thing: That I will also one day have my own late-night talk show and make millions of dollars despite my dental failures.

Or maybe I'll just become the President of Finland.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Great Scarf Scare

On Friday I made mention of little neck scarves so I thought I’d elaborate on that today.

Remember these?

They were popular back in, oh, 1997-1998. I couldn’t get into it. Here’s why:

I HATE things to touch my neck. So there are certain necklaces I can’t wear…certain tops. And you’ll never catch me wearing a turtleneck.

Every time I go to a new hairdresser, I have to explain this problem. (Yikes. Going to a new place today.) They put those capes on me and they hit in the worst spot on my neck. So I either have to put my hand there the whole time or tell the hairdresser to loosen it for me. I went to a really cheap place once (like Fantastic Sam’s or something) and they made me wear toilet paper around my neck. It was like torture!

And speaking of torture, one hairdresser told me I was probably decapitated in a past life.
Okay, that didn’t freak me out.

But back to the scarves: Everyone in the sorority house was wearing them and I always refused. One night we were all going out and I borrowed this lime green shirt from my roommate. We started to leave and Court Report said, “You know what would go great with that? This lime green scarf I have!”

For some reason I agreed. (I guess because she was right; It did look pretty cute.) But I was miserable. All night I tugged on the scarf, tried to loosen it or just kept one finger stuck between the scarf and my neck. Then when we got back to the sorority house and everybody went to bed, I started to remove the scarf. What a relief it would be to get out of this thing, I thought.

But it wouldn’t come off.

I couldn’t untie it! I needed help but everyone was asleep. I ran around the house, looking for lights under doors. I finally found one in the room of these two younger girls. I knocked on the door and when they answered I exclaimed, “Free me from my scarf!”

They began trying to untie it and they couldn’t do it either. “We may have to cut it off,” one girl said. “But Courtney will kill me!” I answered. (The Court Report nickname came later.) So they kept working on it. And since I don’t walk around with a lime green scarf on everyday, you know that I was eventually freed. And they did not have to get out the scissors.

But I never wore a tiny, silk neck scarf again. And that’s one trend I hope doesn’t come back in style. They’re impractical, really. They serve no purpose. It’s not like I need something to hold my neck up.

Now banana clips, on the other hand, those things deserve a comeback.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Are you in the Dime Zone?

Speaking of dimes, have I told you about the dime zone?

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet. It’s such a mainstay in my Writinggal jargon. When you say that you’re “in the dime zone” it means that good things are happening to you that you didn’t expect. Basically, you’re lucky.

Thea and I started saying it back in 1997. We were in college and one night when we went out, we had all these good things happen to us like we found money on the ground, we got free parking, some place that always had a cover didn’t…stuff like that. Now I’m not sure who said it first but one of us suddenly exclaimed, “You know what? We’re in the dime zone!” The phrase swept the sorority house and we’ve been saying it ever since.

We got it from a Sprint ad. I couldn’t remember exactly how the ad went so I looked it up and here’s a description:

In the first of the spots, a commuter in his car finds a dime. "I'm heading home from work, and suddenly I'm in the dime zone," he says picking up the dime. When he arrives home, the neighbors' noisy dogs stop barking and stay off his lawn. Leaves blowing from a tree skip over his yard and land in another. We cut to the commuter lying on a diving board at his pool. "Best of all, my calls are just 10 cents a minute. Every evening and all weekend."

As you can expect, some people abused the phrase. Like a girl would get into medical school and say, “I’m in the dime zone!” Or someone would get a marriage proposal and announce, “I’m so lucky in love! I must be in the dime zone.”

No, no no. When really big things happen to you—that’s not the dime zone! It has to be small, unexpected things usually involving getting free stuff that you didn’t expect. Example:

“I won $15,000 playing Black Jack in Vegas!” Not the dime zone.

“While eating at Denny’s in Vegas my waitress accidentally brought me two plates of hash browns and didn’t charge me for the second. Then I went outside and even though my meter was expired, someone had fed it for me. When I went to the pool, this great chair in this perfect spot just came available and I got it.” You’re in the dime zone! It really should be a series of little things.

Sometimes we would reverse it. If things were going bad we would say “I’m in international rates.”

And even now, almost ten years later, when long-distance-rates have gone the way of little neck scarves, we still use it. Last week Thea called and said, “I saved money on my text books by buying them used on Amazon…and then my office had free Chipotle for lunch…and then I got free Kelly Clarkson tickets. I’m so in the dime zone!”

I don’t know, Thea. Getting Kelly Clarkson tickets is pretty huge so that may be borderline better than the dime zone. But since they were lawn seats, we’ll let it count.

Feel free to use it in your daily speak. Got a front row parking spot? Dime zone. The last pair of shoes and they happen to be your size? Dime Zone. Bought something on sale and when you got to the register it was even MORE on sale? Double dime zone.

Won the lottery? Nope. Tricked ya.

BUT if you offer to pay for my blog party because you won the lottery, well then we'd all be in the dime zone.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

L.C. = Lotsa Crazy

Let’s play a game. I’ll give you a hypothetical situation and you tell me (or just say to yourself) what you would do.

Did I say hypothetical? I meant The Hills. This is something that happened to L.C. on that show last night and I was actually stomping, fuming and yelling at the TV screen. (Hey, there’s not a lot on this summer. Okay, I actually love The Hills. Although we call it “Heidi” at our house. But this situation had nothing to do with Heidi.)

Okay, so here’s the game:

Imagine that you are a cute, rich 20-year-old girl. Instead of getting your basics out of the way at some community college, you live in L.A and attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Oh, and the best part? You have this awesome internship at Teen Vogue. If you do a good job here you can get a cool job in the fashion industry which is your dream.

So freshman year is coming to a close and your boss (the West Coast editor of Teen Vogue) offers you an internship in Paris for the summer. Paris! We could wrap the globe at least once with the number of people who would trade places with you for that chance.

Let me interject and say that you also have this mumbly-mouth, boring, mean, paranoid, insanely-jealous boyfriend named Jason. I guess he’s cute but you guys have nothing in common and nothing to talk about. You either just sit and stare at each other or you fight. In fact, when you had an assignment to work on a male model casting call, you had to lie to him about it because he would get so freakin’ jealous. He’s an idiot.

So anyway, old mumbly-mouth wants you to stick around this summer.

Is there even a choice here?

Well, I should mention that MM DOES have a Malibu beach house for the summer. And let me just back up and ask how is that possible? I know the two of you are from Laguna Beach and your parents are loaded but come on…I looked it up and this place would be at least $60K for the summer.

So anyway, what would you choose? Summer in Paris working for Teen Vogue which could lead you to your dream job later? OR summer with said lame boyfriend at overpriced beach house?

L.C. made the wrong choice.

And at the end of the show they even tried to trick us by having her pack her bags, put on this total Parisian outfit and have this long, dramatic good-bye to Heidi (I guess she does have something to do with this.) And when they said farewell, Heidi even said “Merci.” Sure, that means “thank-you” but it was tricky just the same.

So which did you choose?

Either way you lost. You don't get the beach house OR the summer in Paris. Oh, and you're not a cute, rich 20-year-old girl.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Video Killed the Radio Star...and my Appetite

Yesterday I was so caught up in my own celebration (or “Blogday” as Dr. Chamberlain called it) that I totally overlooked another very important milestone—25 years of MTV.

Now I’m only 29-and-a-half but I remember very clearly the first time I ever heard of MTV. I was four or five (okay, it wasn’t THAT clear) and I was running over to the neighbor’s house to tell them that we were getting “cable.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but I knew it was exciting. I also knew that nobody else on the street even had it yet. “The kids” (as we called our three sibling neighbors) were all outside and one of them (Stephanie, I think) asked, “Are you gonna have MTV?”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Duh!” she said. And all the kids (again, just the three of them) looked at me like I had just asked what Atari was. “It’s MUSIC television!” her sister Jessica informed me.

“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ll go check.”

Once the cable guy had hooked up our brown, faux-wood-paneled box, my sister showed me how to use it. Now I couldn’t reach it but I really liked how we could move that white pointer and it shined a light on each number. When she got to channel 14 I knew that THIS was what “the kids” were talking about. MTV—MUSIC TELEVISION.

The video that was playing had a bunch of people wearing body paint. I don’t remember what the song was or who sang it but everybody looked gross to me. I have this vague memory of them getting up from lawn chairs in a ripple effect. “Ew,” I said, and I began to feel nauseous. (A lot of things made me nauseous back then including old paintings but that’s another blog). I also remember seeing the video of “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics and getting even more nauseous. (I had flash backs when Martha Stewart used that song on her Apprentice.) That was it. I would never watch MTV again—especially if I was eating.

“Turn the channel! Turn the channel!” I would scream if my sister tried to watch videos while I ate a cheese sandwich. Really, she had me as her hostage since I couldn’t reach the cable box without a chair. But I refused to watch so I missed most of the videos of the 80’s thanks to this handicap of mine. I didn’t like hair bands (even Bon Jovi) because they were grody in my book.

I decided in the 90’s that I could handle watching MTV again. My stomach was stronger and glam rock was pretty much over. But then when I turned on channel 14 (and I could reach it by now) there weren’t any videos anymore.

So when my own “the kids” ask me what it was like being one of the pioneer viewers of MTV all I can say is “there was a lot of body paint and then mommy would feel like she had to puke.” How glam.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Now let's just get something straight before you start thinking I'm goin' coo-coo bananas with all these one-year/birthday/First Communion celebrations.

On July 25th, 2005 I started freelance writing full time. On August 1st, 2005 I started writing in this blog as a little warm-up to my writing day. See? Two different occasions.

So as my blog's first birthday approached I thought, "What should I get her?" (Come on. Of course she's a girl. She's all pink.)

I asked myself, "What would I want if it was my birthday?"
"A makeover!" I exclaimed. "The kind on one of those reality shows like Ten Years Younger."
But then I said, “Wait a second, Elsa. You look fabulous! Why just the other day you were mistaken for a three-year-old. Sure, your hair’s a little nappy but you’ve got an appointment to get it cut with Tips from Thea for only $15 at a fancy salon. Plus, if you’re going on a reality show, it’s gonna be The Gauntlet.” Then I remembered that I aged out of that. And I don’t think they call it The Gauntlet anymore.

Anyway…back to the blog. I decided that while I was certainly in no need of a makeover, my blog was! So here it is. I’m still working out some of the formatting issues (which I’ll be emailing you about, Jessi) but you get the idea.

I’m hoping that a new template will get me a few more clicks on my ads. When I first signed up Google said that I would get paid once I reached $50. And then when I started getting close to that, they changed it to $100. So how much money have I seen? Wait. Let me dig around in all the check stubs that Google sends me. I think there’s a pile over there…wait…oh, there it is. It’s invisible. I’ve received $0. In fact, after a year of ads on the blog, my total is up to $57.15. At this rate I should get my $100 check by next July. So if you want the ads to go away (which I do), click on them a bunch this week so I can get up to $100. Then I’ll get rid of the ads, take the $100 and throw a huge blog party. Well, a miniscule party but a party nonetheless.

So thanks for reading my blog this year. Hopefully a lot of exciting things will happen in the coming year because I’ve pretty much told you all my stories. And if you’re feeling sentimental, check out the very first Writinggal blog. It’s about how I used to want to be a bus driver. And remember, if you don’t click on my ads, I may have to make that dream come true.

Now the next question is, what am I going to wear for the 23rd anniverary of my First Communion?