Archive | May, 2011

How It Feels to Catch a Rubber Chicken in Your Mouth

31 May

This is how I felt after discovering that my post Fun With Allergies! had been Freshly Pressed last Friday. I was going to try and describe it with words, but after trying for half an hour and not getting beyond it feels freakin’ great! I decided that a picture says a thousand words. See how this dog caught that rubber chicken? The triumph! The unparalleled joy! That chicken is a prize and it will be treasured!

Okay, in all seriousness, being Freshly Pressed last week was a really great writing-affirming experience. It was the second time my words have been featured on the WordPress homepage and I was no less thrilled or grateful. Like the last time, this Freshly Pressed post was a light, just-for-fun kind of thing. But to have someone (lots of someones!) identify with it and find the funny? That means a lot. 

As you may know, this came on the heels of a job letdown. I’ve been feeling a little lost. But if I can’t control the rest of the universe, at least I have power and the chance for ultimate expression in my own little blogging world. Here, apparently, I can be funny and my words can be touching. Here, my words have a life outside of my own head. (It’s good for them to socialize.)

Anyway, thanks for reading, subscribing, and commenting. (Speaking of comments–in the beginning, I wanted to respond to all of them. As more and more piled up, it became harder. Just so you know, I do read and appreciate every one….) I hope you’ll continue to read and comment and enjoy. 

Now, I’m off to toss toys at my dogs and see if any of them catches one and feels Freshly Pressed. 

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Oh, For Pete’s Sake

26 May

Well, I got some bad news about that thing that happened a few weeks ago. Now that the universe doesn’t depend on my silence, I think it’s safe to say that the thing was a job interview and the bad news was a polite no. Though I was not exactly surprised, the news that they had “opted to pursue another candidate” was still a downer. It was the first job I’d been excited about in a long time and oh, how I wanted to be pursued.

My reaction to the rejection included an unusually emotional response to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the consumption of a (mostly) Gin and (very little) Tonic, and then the obligatory oh-God-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life panic. And I baked. I baked a lot.

I like baking when I’m upset. I can get frustration out through the aggressive whisking of ingredients, or during a forceful round with a rolling pin and some dough. Or, I can be calmed by the careful cracking of eggs, the familiar comfort of recipe cards written by my aunt, my grandma, my mom’s cousins. There’s something satisfying about gently measuring sugar, but I also like to pretend I’m as good a cook as my mom and grandma and eyeball things as they’re poured into our big red bowl. That looks like a cup, I think. Or , That was about a tablespoon. Breezy. Confident. And then at the end of it all, you’re rewarded with something good to eat. I can think of no better therapy.

So, the day after the job letdown, I baked. I made candied nuts, and mercilessly picked apart my interview as the walnuts bubbled and became glittery, crusted vanilla and sugar fossils. I had been nervous, my voice a little higher than usual. I had rambled while answering one question, hadn’t responded long enough during another. My outfit was boring. My shoes were too big. Maybe I should have bragged a little more? I stirred up Raspberry and White Chocolate Chip muffins (more like cupcakes without the frosting) and, spooning the batter into cupcake wrappers, thought about fate and signs and doors that open and close. The recipe should make a dozen muffins—I got eighteen and had to fetch another pan for my runovers.

I zested lemon for my version of Lemon Sugar Cookies (similar to the recipe found on the wonderful blog Let’s Talk Cookies) and the kitchen immediately radiated a crisp citrus smell. I considered making a Lemon Pudding Cake, a favorite of my family’s. Stirring vigorously, I accidentally sloshed some of the liquid onto the counter. I scooped dough onto sheets and growled to the dogs, always hopeful kitchen helpers, to get out of the way.

Then, I dropped an egg. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal—but it threw me off my game, disrupted my rhythm. I grabbed paper towels violently, and swore louder than necessary. For the first time in hours, I sat and broke into a muffin. I crunched a few nuts and waited for the cookies to turn golden.

In the book The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, the main character can taste the emotions in everything she eats. They are the emotions of the person who made the food, and upon the first bite she immediately knows all the intimate feelings that swirled during the stirring, measuring, heating, kneading. My candied walnuts and Raspberry White Chocolate muffins didn’t taste like any emotion, but imagine if they did. No amount of sugar would cover those insecure nuts. And I definitely wouldn’t want to sample the feelings in those muffins.

I gave half of my baking results away, some to my grandma and some to her neighbor Pete. I feel a little protective of Pete. His wife died recently, and you can see how it weighs on him. Last week, Pete gave me a ride to pick up my car at the garage where it was being serviced. I felt badly, taking him away on an errand (and a little embarrassed that my grandma had roped him into it), so when I thanked him for the lift, I really meant it. “No, thank you,” he said. “Thank you for saving me from a lonely afternoon.” There was silence for a few seconds, then he said quietly, “I’m lonely most of the time, these days.”

So when I was done with my cathartic cooking, I made sure to give Pete a pretty little jar of nuts and an assorted plate of muffins and cookies. Out of a job disappointment, I got tasty gifts for a sweet, lonely senior who, luckily, won’t taste any turbulent emotions in them. I’m not sure if that’s a silver (cupcake) lining, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment.

Looking for some similar kitchen therapy? Scroll this way……

Stop Acting So Candied Nuts
a.k.a Bavarian Sugar Almonds/Candied Nuts from My Baking Addiction.

Ingredients
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (1 tsp. of vanilla extract if you are using regular granulated sugar instead of vanilla sugar)
1 tablespoon water
1 pound nuts (normally like to use almonds or pecans, but this time all I had was walnuts–still good!)
3/4 cup vanilla sugar, or regular granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of fine grain salt (or vanilla fleur de sel, if you’re the type that would have it)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, combine egg white, vanilla extract, and water. Beat mixture until frothy. Stir in nuts and mix to coat.
3. Gently combine sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt and stir into nut mixture, thoroughly coating all nuts.
4. Evenly spread nuts onto prepared baking sheet and place in oven.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring/shifting nuts every 15 minutes. (The stirring part is very important, otherwise the nuts will stick together into one brittle mess.)
6. When cool, pack in an airtight jar. They will keep at room temperature for about 2 weeks.

Shared Joy is Doubled Joy, Shared Sorrow is Half a Sorrow Raspberry and White Chocolate Chip Muffins
a.k.a  Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins from one of my favorite cookbooks, Peace Meals

Ingredients
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pint raspberries

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray, or line with wrappers.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the yogurt, then the white chocolate chips.
4. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt (the batter will be stiff). Overmixing the batter makes muffins tough, so use only 10-15 strokes to incorporate the dry ingredients.
5. Gently fold in the raspberries. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin cups.
6. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Sugar Cookies
a.k.a the cousin of The “Can’t Eat Just One” Lemon Sugar Cookie
Here, I adapted the recipe from Let’s Talk Cookies.  Once I figure out how I merged the LTC recipe with another one I had, I’ll type it out and share. The problem with merging/experimenting is trying to get the same result a second time!

6 Reasons Why an Apocalypse Tomorrow Would Be Inconvenient

20 May
  1. I just started a new tube of toothpaste. I don’t know what the odds are of a holy bread-dropper getting beamed up tomorrow (I’m thinking not so good…) but either way, I’m pretty sure that toothpaste would never get finished. It’s a minty-fresh tragedy.
  2. I’m in the middle of a good book–The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat kind of read (more of a full-recline-on-your-bed) but I’m still hooked and I’d like to finish it. Also, it’s a library book, and even if the world were to end, I still wouldn’t like my library track record to include the apocalyptic destruction of a borrowed book.
  3. I just signed up for an online creative writing class that will begin in June. The end of the world would mean a) the world would miss out on my creative writing and b) I wouldn’t get my deposit back. Bummer.
  4.  I’ll NEVER know what happens next on Fringe! So many unanswered questions! So many plot twists! An apocalypse would leave my obsession with this show completely unfulfilled. Talk about your ultimate cliffhanger. Top that, J.J. Abrams.
  5. It’s my friend’s birthday tomorrow. I’m sorry, but doomsday = party pooper.
  6. I have a story to tell you all about job letdowns and a sweet, older gentleman named Pete. I was even going to share the recipes for some scrumptious goodies.  I have the post half written, but I think it would be a pretty pointless post, post-apocalypse. 
See ya on the other side! 🙂

End the world in style, with a tin foil hat. Timeless, classic, reflective--this is one fashion statement that will never go out of style!

What I Thought / What I Said

18 May

What am I thinking about? Well, since you asked...


At the church rummage sale last Saturday:

A man was looking at a really nice tea set we had for sale–not made of plastic, not chipped, beautifully painted–and finally asked how much it was. I told him $5 and he responded with “I’ll give you 75 cents.”
What I thought: What a stupid thing to say to me! Was that supposed to be haggling? Are you kidding me? You’re supposed to suggest $4, maybe $3, and instead you go below a dollar? Get out of my sight!”
What I said: “Mmmm, I don’t think so.”

The church’s priest came over to our booth. Since we aren’t regulars at this church (we go to another one in the county and had just heard about this sale from our church’s newsletter), I smiled at the priest but didn’t greet him by name as the other vendors around us did. He was interested in some barbecue tools my dad had given my mom to sell and I told him it was $3 for all five. “How much for priests?” he asked.
What I thought: Was that a joke? I can’t tell if you were trying to be funny, or if you’re a greedy priest. Either way, I’m uncomfortable. If you’re being greedy, though, I must point out to you that a lot of this money is going to your church. Are you being greedy and trying to cheat your own parish? Hold on while I move a few feet away from you, because I’m pretty sure your boss (with a capital B) is about to smite you big time.
What I said:  “Haha…ha? Um, have you met my grandma? Hey grandma, he’s interested in the barbecue tools.”

The woman with the booth next to us was really nice and clicked with my mom right away. The two of them ended up chatting for most of the six hours that we were in the church parking lot. She was selling a beautiful, very old-looking basket for a whopping $40, a price that prompted every potential buyer to immediately set it back down as carefully as if it were a chotchke bomb. The basket was close to our things, which gave a lot of people the mistaken impression that it was my item and I was in charge. I knew how much the vendor was selling it for because I had heard her tell at least a dozen people, but when I was asked I would just point and tell the person “It’s that lady’s, over there.” Not my basket, not my problem. Eventually though, I got tired of being the middle woman. A woman with skin one shade away from an oompa loompa’s called me over. “This is gorgeous,” she barked. “How much?” I told her it wasn’t mine, but that I knew the woman was selling it for $40. She raised her already arched eyebrows and said “You must be kidding. It’s not even in good condition. It’s, like, old.”
What I thought: Um, I’m pretty sure that’s the point–that it’s old. I happen to agree that $40 is a surprisingly high price for a rummage sale, but the seller must think it’s worth that much. You don’t know anything about it–it could be a hundred year old basket. It could have a rich history. It could have been hand-made and passed down for generations, only to land at a church rummage sale. You seemed to recognize that it’s gorgeous, but somehow you think it can’t be gorgeous and old? You are full of contradictions. You and your skin color are an enigma surrounded by mystery.
What I said: “Yes, I’m sure it is very old.”

The woman with the coveted basket also had a beautiful candelabra for sale. It was in a sort of tree shape, with indented pedestals for small, flat candles. I thought it would be a great jewelry holder, not to mention that it would be pretty all lit up with candles, and was surprised that no one bought it. I mentioned this to the seller as we were packing up our stuff. “You like it?” she smiled. “It’s yours! Take it, please.” Of course, then came the obligatory, polite back-and-forth, with me insisting that I’d pay for it and her insisting that I could have it. Finally, she got me with: “Come on, you don’t have a job–you can’t just be buying candelabras with your non-existent paycheck!”
What I thought: Ouch. Below the belt!
What I said: “Well, you have a point…”

My loot from the rummage sale. Wanna know what I think about it?

Huge Sale! Nothing Must Go! Prices Starting at $1,000,000!

13 May

My mom, my grandma, and I are going to participate in a church rummage sale tomorrow. In the process of gathering things to sell, I have been forced to confront my what-if-I-need-it-someday disability. Grandma and I butted heads all day, playing tug of war with different items and calling each other names. (“You’re completely unrealistic!” “Oh yeah, well you’re unsentimental!”) She’s a tear it up, toss it out, chuck it, sort of person and I am a save it, reuse it, pack it away personality. It’s a little like we’re acting out an episode from The Odd Couple–except our versions of Oscar and Felix are slightly warped, so it’s not entirely clear who’s who. Am I Felix, gasping dramatically when Grandma tears up papers she thinks she doesn’t need and explaining the value of things in a lofty voice? Or am I Oscar, insisting that my “junk” is priceless and fighting Grandma’s merciless clean sweep? Can two people go through a house, picking out what to sell, without driving each other crazy? Probably not.

Among our arguments over what to sell:

Grandma’s sewing basket
“You don’t sew! Why would you want this?”
“What if I want to learn to sew? What if I want to learn to sew with my grandmother’s sewing basket?”
“Oh, please! You can’t even sew a button! You’re going to sew from patterns? You’re going to use a pin cushion? HA!”
“I’ll learn! I learn things! And when I learn, I should use my grandma’s sewing stuff!”
“Fine. Give me $10. That’s how much I’m selling it for.”
“I’m not paying for your sewing basket! You’re supposed to pass it down to me with love and memories.”
“My love and memories cost $10.”

A decorative birdcage
“You’re not selling this are you? You bugged me for a month to get you a fake bird to put in this!”
“Eh, it’s too big. What do I need a dumb old birdcage for?”
“I looked all over for a bird…”
“Well, I’m keeping the bird. I’m just selling the cage.”
“But then the bird will be homeless. Why would you take away his home?”
“You want me to keep the cage just so the fake bird doesn’t lose his home?”
“Well…”

A white coffee urn
“This is nice. You don’t want this?”
“Well, it was my great aunt’s, but it’s not even that pretty and I haven’t used it in years and years…”
“It was your great aunt’s? That means it’s old! It’s, like, a family heirloom! I don’t think we should sell it. She must have given it to you for a reason. Maybe someone else in the family gave it to her and it’s actually your great great great great somebody’s coffee urn.”
“Oh wait, hand that over. Actually, this isn’t my great aunt’s coffee urn. I got this at Goodwill a few years ago. See, no sentimental family connection.”
“Well, you still can’t sell it.”
“Why in the world not??”
“Now I like it!”

Grandma says I’m counterproductive and unhelpful, and that I don’t really want us to make any money. I think she also called me insane, but it was while I was in another room, hiding a hand-embroidered pillow that she wanted to sell for $2, so it was a little hard to hear.

I'm crazy like a squirrel....nuts like a squirrel? Can squirrels be nuts? Hmm...


Plumbers and Geeks and True Love

11 May

Did someone call tech support?

When I was younger, my mom took me to see the movie Bread & Tulips at a local independent movie theater. I wasn’t really at the right age to appreciate a foreign film (it’s an Italian movie) or some of the struggles the main character Rosalba goes through during the course of the story. I think I was in a bit of a grumpy mood (subtitles will do that to a pre-teen), but I do remember certain parts of the movie very clearly. The views of Venice are amazing, the characters have some very funny lines and moments of physical comedy. What really sticks out, however, is a scene where Grazia (the best friend/supporting character) is gushing to Rosalba about the new guy she just met. She really thinks this is the one; he might not be the most handsome fella in the world, but he makes her heart go pitter patter. The real deal-maker, though? “He’s a plumber!” Grazia whispers to Rosalba excitedly–in the same sort of voice a woman might use to tell her best friend “He loves cuddling and doing laundry!” She’s giddy with love, but something else, too: she sees the answer to all her plumbing problems.

I’ve been having problems with my computer. Today, it froze twice. The first time, the screen blacked out, leaving me staring at my reflection and making mewing noises of distress. The second time, it froze with all stuff still on the screen. I watched the swirling cursor, mesmerized into a horrible paralysis. My computer know-how is very limited. I’ve been using Internet Explorer, for instance, which is apparently so lame that all the cool computer nerds know to hate it. And remember my tragic mishap with the delete button? Technology is my frienemy. My usual fix for a stuck computer is to force-quit and turn it off, but I hate doing that because it feels like I’m smothering it to death.

Oh, I can google problems as good as the next person. But it feels a little like cavorting with the enemy and oftentimes the answers I get assume too much about my prior knowledge. I have a friend who’s pretty tech savvy, but she lives in Canada so her power to help is limited. (Plus, there’s the very real chance that I depend too much on her and my emails now send tingles of dread down her spine. Basically, she may feel our relationship goes something like this.)

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today, contemplating the emotionally abusive relationship I have with my computer, and Bread & Tulips popped into my head. I now completely identify with Grazia and her plumber-inspired joy. I can totally see myself grinning like a fool and squealing to a friend: “He’s a computer whiz!” Heart be still! Help me fix my computer without talking down to me, think my computer ineptitude is adorable, and I’m yours. Wear a fedora at the same time? Ho boy. 

One woman’s plumber is another’s computer guru.

That’s amore!

P.S
Unbelievably, Bread & Tulips is available to watch (legally) online. So if you’re itching for some context or to bask in the sweet sound of Italian, check it out here.

Fun With Allergies!

9 May

Hello, friends! Are you stuffed up, run-down, miserable? Are your allergies something to sneeze at? Had enough of this nasal nonsense? Well buck up, buckers! I have personally collected ideas to push you through pollen season. The answers to all your problems is in this little blog post…..

Practice your sneezes
This is the perfect opportunity to practice the sweet sound of your sneeze. Vary the pitch, tone, and force of your sneeze. Try a cute little sneeze or a great, booming gale-force. (Confession: I’m thinking of a great scene from The Golden Girls, check it out here for a quick chuckle.) And who said that “ACHOO” is the only sneeze sound out there? Startle/impress passerby with “ET TU!” (if it’s good enough for Caesar…) or express your thrilling sneeze with a big ol’ “WAHOO!”

Or, you could always blow your nose around a baby and see if anything as cute as this happens.

Embrace your inner curmudgen
As long as you’re
feeling this warm and fuzzy hatred towards flowers and grass, you might as well go full-grouch and indulge in a grumpy free-for-all. Make loud gagging noises when you spot public displays of affection. (Claim that your mucus is the result of their grossness.) Mutter rude-but-true comments. (Does your blutetooth make you feel important? Because you’re not.) Tell those neighbor kids to stay off your lawn. Wear a ratty bathrobe all day, eat ice cream out of the carton, and sniff your nose at perky people who cheerfully proclaim that they’ve never experienced springtime allergies. (They should be killed.)

You sound funny, therefore you are funny
When you can’t breathe, all your sharp letters turn into round ones. Vs turn into Bs, Ts lose all their oomph (or would that be toomph?), and As pop up on the end of words where they have no business being. “I hab bad allergies. I dona feel good. I cana breathe. Will medicine help? I doud id.” Okay, you sound ridiculous. But one person’s weird way of talking is another’s comedic gold. Being nasal worked for Fran Drescher, didn’t it? Or hey–pretend your stuffed-up-ness is an accent from an exotic faraway locale. Everyone will think you’re one wild and crazy guy!

Become a kleenex expert/model
Take the time to test the softness of kleenex. You could be doing generations of tissue users a favor. Your epic contributions to kleenex research will be the stuff of legends. In fact, your story will replace that of the Princess and the Pea. (All that chick did was feel a pea underneath a bed. Her schnauz wasn’t even involved!) Next, you’ll want to work on kleenex as fashion. Take a cue from grandmas everywhere, and make kleenex-up-the sleeve fashionable. You’ll be all the rage with the blue-haired crowd.

Wink, wink-Nudge nudge
When your eyes are itching like crazy, resist the urge to rub them like Lady Macbeth, and instead use this opportunity to wink at anyone who happens to be around. You’ll either make a new friend with your sexy wink or convince people that you have an uncontrollable, slightly creepy twitch. How do you like them odds?

Musical Momisms for Mother’s Day

8 May

Happy Mother’s Day!

I heard this song last year on my favorite Los Angeles radio station  (101.1 FM, in case you’re interested), and thought it was so funny and cute. Maybe you and your mom (or you and your kids) could watch it together and have a few laughs. Or better yet–reenact it! Wouldn’t that be a cute (and cheap) Mother’s Day present? You’re welcome.

Have a happy day!

It’s Funny, ‘Cause It’s True

6 May

Words I’ve heard lately…

Little boy selling lemonade to raise money for his school:
“Help inspire me to be a good person!”

Electrician on the phone, trying to get a new part for our stove:
“I need a plug. Plug. Plug! P-l-a-g! Plug!”

X-ray technician at the doctor’s office:
“Your grandmother will need to remove all clothing from the waist up. Is she wearing…is she, uh…is she strapped…um….bra?”

Starbucks customer:
“I’d like something that will get me through ’til the end of the day….grande…and non fat milk.”

 Neighbor children playing in their yard:
“Boom! Boom! You’re dead!”
“Mom said we couldn’t kill each other! I’m not dead!”
“Boom! Boom! You’re fired!”

Man in the grocery store, talking on his cell phone:
“Can’t you pick him up? I’m at the grocery store right now. Yes, shopping! What do you mean? Well, so far–beer. What? We were out of beer!”

Cheerful mailwoman:
“Congratulations, you’ve got mail!”

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Oh My Words — I’m Versatile!

4 May

versatile (ˈvɜːsəˌtaɪl)

–adj

1. capable of or adapted for many different uses, skills, etc.

2. variable or changeable

3. ME!

You are reading the words of a versatile blogger! I have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by both Scriptor Obscura and The Novice’s Journey. (Special note to The Novice: I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to write about and pass along the award–but please know that I am very grateful that you read and enjoy my blog.) I am very happy for readers like these and very happy to be labeled “versatile.” When I started this blog, when the only people reading it were two of my best friends and the occasional lost googler, I worried that my blog topics were too bouncy. A story about grandma here, a quick word about a quirky news story there–it wasn’t like I had a theme. But as it turns out, my words weren’t wandering–they were versatile.

Anyway, like anything worth having, there are a few responsibilities and stipulations with this award. They are:

1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award.
2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs.
4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.

And so, here we go.

15 Versatile Blogs I Enjoy Reading (in no particular order)
Some of these weren’t “recently discovered,” but as a versatile blogger I reserve the right to veer from the rules by just a little bit. I know, I’m a rebel.

1. Gone for a Walk
2. Away with Words

3. Gin & Lemonade

4. Girl on the Contrary

5. Let’s Talk Cookies

6. Drunk Literature

7. A Full Measure of Happiness

8. English Major Junk Food
Can I use EMJF? Ash, are you technically a blog? Oh well, I’m pleading ignorance and listing you anyway.
9. How Did I Reach Sixty?
What happened to you Nan? Haven’t read your words in awhile…
10. Sea Sweetie’s Pages
11. Belle of the Carnival

12. A Striped Armchair
13. The Edmonton Tourist
14. After I Quit My Day Job
15. Your Servant in the Kitchen

And, because you must be dying to know….

7 Random Things About Me

1. I have size 11 feet. (I didn’t know what to put for my first Random Thing, so I decided to jump in, feet first.) For me, shoe shopping can be as emotionally taxing as bathing suit shopping. I am this close to shopping in the men’s section–and actually, that may not be a bad idea because  I’m pretty sure that men’s shoes are 1,489,263 times more comfy than women’s shoes.  

2. I studied abroad in Milan, Italy during my junior year of college. I had an amazing experience and was lucky enough to travel all over Europe. I saw Obama give a speech in Prague, soaked up art at the Louvre, felt a tug on my soul in Greece, and gelato-d my way around Italy. I am so grateful for the amazing experience, but I still have regrets–things I wish I had done or things I did but wish I had done better. When I’m in a proper state of mind, I remind myself that I can always go back. I have a Europe To-Do list and it gets longer every day!

3. I have weird, physical reactions to awkwardness or embarassment. It doesn’t matter if the undesired awkward/embarassing moment is mine or someone else’s, all I need to do is think about it, see it, or remember it, and I feel squirmy. Sometimes I have to close my eyes or clench my fists, and I often feel an awkwardness-inspired shiver scurrying down my back. I’m pretty sure I experience vicarious embarassment (it’s a real thing!) and I figure this makes me a better, if squirmier person.

4. When I say “wash,” there’s an “r” right in the middle. Basically, when I say “wash,” it rhymes with borsch. I get this from my grandma and mom, and since they’re both from Pennsylvannia, I figured it was a Pennyslvannia thing. So far, though, I’ve never met another Pennsylvannian who says “warsh.” Go figure.

5. During college, I had to choose between taking a second-level creative writing class and being a tutor for an elementary school student. I had tutored at my college’s community literacy center two times before, and absolutely loved it….but I love creative writing, too, and it was my last chance to take it. I chose tutoring, and I don’t regret my decision–I had the cutest, sweetest student. But I do occasionally wonder what I would have accomplished writing-wise if I had taken that writing class.

6. It really annoys me when people are prejudiced against small dogs. If someone says small dogs aren’t “real dogs,” within my earshot, they better be ready for a lecture or a damning judgement of their character. I’m not saying Bubba the Biker has to love terriers, but he should be aware that they have just as many loveable characteristics as any “full-sized” dog. It’s the size of the heart, not the size of the dog, dontcha know.

7. Without fail, I tear up when watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Specifically, I tear up when they move the bus and the family sees their house for the first time. This is puzzling to me because I do not cry easily–although, technically, tearing up isn’t crying. Anyway, seeing the people so happy and excited and crying tears of joy is some sort of trigger for me.

Another definition for versatile? Being able to kick butt and rock a purple mini dress