Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Accountabilibuddies for LIFE, yo.

I am sure you've been wondering where I am and what I am doing.  Well, the only thing you can know for sure is that I haven't been blogging.  Until now.

Truthfully, the past week or so has been a bit difficult.  First of all, I am at that point in the semester where the BIG papers are looming with their final due dates, and in true Megan fashion I am experiencing mental block.  What I need to do is locate all my articles, read these articles, pull out the necessary information and WRITE THE STUPID PAPERS.  Oh, and then I need to come up with 5 minute presentations (informal) about my findings.  Boo.

Secondly, I experienced a sanity-crushing work-related moment last week that has lit the fire of change in my heart.  I came to the inescapable realization that I simply cannot continue in my current work pattern for much longer.  In fact, this epiphany nearly drove me to the shocking and desperate act of quitting without a new job in the pipeline.  Instead of taking the irresponsible route, I have opted to remain practical and rational (for the moment) and step up the job search and application process.  So far I have found a couple of things that are interesting, but I know that the process may be slow.

Although I hesistate to put this in writing, I feel that stating my goal will perhaps create a better sense of accountability.  My goal is to be working at a different job by the end of summer, which in Minnesota terms means:  by Labor Day.  So now you are all aware of my goal, it is your job to keep me on task.  To put it succinctly, you are all now my Accountabilibuddies. Technically, this means that I should be holding you all accountable for something as well; however, I have no idea what your goals are, so that may be difficult.  If you would like me to help you out to reciprocate in true Accountabilibuddy fashion, let me know. 

On a different note, it is now 57 days until the Hallinglag.  More on this later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Accomplishments and Disappointments

Perhaps this sounds vain, but I am always a little impressed with myself when I remember to do things in a timely manner.  Wait, that probably doesn't sound vain, it gives the impression that I set very low standards for my memory capacity.  Which could be because I am getting old, except that I have felt this way since I was a mere child, thus suggesting that it takes very little to impress me.  This is not really true, it DOES take a lot to impress me.  That's why I'm still single, right?  RIGHT?  Eh.

What was my major feat of remembering today?  Registering for fall classes.  I have done this many times now, but today was extra super momentous as it was for my FINAL semester of grad school.  Boo-ya!  Every semester I am secretly a "little worried" (transaltion = super paranoid) that my top choice classes will be full before I can get my name on the list.  Regardless of the fact that I have NEVER had a problem with this and have in fact been in the first 5 registrants for every class I have ever taken, I have always been on edge about it until I have confirmed several times that my registration is valid.

Now that the excitement is over, life is back to normal.  Oh wait, I have another story for you.  It is a story of disappointment, so prepare yourselves mentally to be sad for me.

As stated in a previous entry, my birthday was last week.  One of my family's birthday traditions is to call and sing to the birthday girl/boy, but only if one lives in a separate place from the birthday girl/boy and will not be seeing them to sing in person.  This meant that my brother, Michael, owed me a call and a song. To be clear, he did come through on both even though he called when I was at school thus resulting in a voicemail that I can now play back whenever I so wish.

The next part of this story came on Saturday.  I went out for a lovely dinner to celebrate my birthday, and my brother again chose to call me while I was occupied with other things.  I arrived at my parents' home to find my father on the phone with Michael.  After conversing for a bit, he handed the phone off to me as my brother had a "question."  Now, I generally do not find my brother to be a sneaky person, in fact, I think he may lack the sneaky gene altogether.  So when he told me he had a question based on my loan expertise, I was suspicious. 

My first inclination was, "Dear God!  He wants to buy a house!"  This is crazy to consider as my brother has been a full-time non-employed student for the past four years and is therefore not really in a position to make a major property purchase.  Thankfully, my initial assumption was wrong.  He wanted to know if his lack of credit history would negatively affect him if he was to apply for a loan.  When I inquired as to what kind of loan he was referring to, he indicated perhaps a car loan.

Side note - as I stated already, my brother has been in full-on student mode for four years.  He doesn't own a car, but he does drive one that my parents own and have paid off long ago.  It's not brand new or super sporty, but Michael is not high-maintenance and has never complained about it.  I was a bit shocked to think that he would be considering what is still quite a major purchase, but I gave him my opinion.  I suggested that one way to build credit would be to get a small store credit card that he could pay off right away.  He mentioned something about doing this at a outdoor sporting supply store that he and his girlfriend frequent, and I said this sounded like a good idea.

For the moment, that was that.  My parents overheard most of the conversation, but oddly did not pick up on any of the discussion immediately.  It wasn't until the next day that it came up over lunch.  I indicated that Michael may be looking at buying a car.  This did not go over well.  I don't know why I thought it would, but for some reason I forgot the fact that my dad does not like to hear about potential financial ridiculousness, especially as pertains to his children.

So... I backpedaled.  I speculated that perhaps it wasn't really a car he was interested in, but another major purchase that may require financing.  This led to a very sensitive but interesting possibility:  jewelry.  No, not for me and not for my mom.  But perhaps something for his lovely girlfriend of more than two years by way of a significant item for her left hand.  Got it?  So basically I took this idea and ran with it (in my own head).  Seriously, I was almost giddy.  (Mikey, if you're reading this, you now know that I was not kidding about my Christmas wish.) 

Back to the parents.  Someone sent a text to Michael regarding the car idea.  He responded simply by saying that he wasn't buying a car.  The lack of further detail further fueled my engagement-frenzy.  I even went so far as to mention it to a couple of my coworkers.  Finally, I emailed Michael because I was worried that I would go over the edge if I didn't confirm it further.

Before I received a response, I came home and emptied my mailbox.  There, in the midst of all the birthday cards and gifts was a letter from the same outdoor/sporting goods store that Michael had mentioned on the phone, offering me a credit card with rewards for their store.  At this point, the flashing light of realization started to blink.  If I had received this letter, there was no doubt that Michael had also received it.  Yet, I maintained hope that the entire point of the call was not just to ask if he should get a credit card.  The dream of more exciting things remained.

Until I read my email.  My fears were confirmed.  There will be no financing of engagement rings in the near future, at least not this month.  Obviously, this does not mean that I am giving up on my Christmas wish (he knows what it is), but I will have to be a bit more patient. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another year older... and wiser?

For the first time in my birthday history, my first waking thought this morning was not, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!” Instead, I thought, “What time is it? Why is Lena jumping off the bed right now? Where AM I???”

The answer to these questions would be, 5 a.m., because my dad is up and making noise and at my parents’ house.

My self-worth has taken a major boost as I have received the special barrage of Facebook and texted birthday greetings – thank you to all who participated. I love to feel loved.

What are my big birthday plans? Well, obviously there is work. Then I have school. Before you have too much pity for me, I will let you know that tonight instead of sitting the classroom for five grueling hours, we are going on a field trip to a really cool printing press. Also, we have been assured that there is no way that we will be on this tour for the full five hours. This should enable me to be home at a decent hour and to perhaps partake in a little celebrating.

Tomorrow, I again have school, but this time the five hours will take place during the day, thus allowing me a full evening to have fun. I am going to dinner with friends and I intend to have a fabulous time and partake of some butterscotch crème brulée. So in other words, turning 31 is not going to be so bad after all. Not that I thought it would be, but this morning as I was driving with my free birthday Caribou drink, I realized that it has been 10 years since my big 21st birthday debacle. (Yes, that’s right, I can do subtraction IN MY HEAD.)

Now, it’s not that I really feel that my 21st birthday was that terribly recent, but a decade of time is really quite a big chunk when you think about it too much. It makes me nostalgic for my college days and really makes me miss my college friends that much more. If I had Star Trek beaming technology as I had always secretly hoped I would by the year 2011, I would immediately beam us all somewhere awesome (like Hawaii, Las Vegas, Disney World or the Moon) and we would party it up good.

Well, that’s all of my birthday update. The weather geeks are predicting snow or a “wintry mix” overnight this evening, but I’m not going to get upset about that. Temperatures are to remain above freezing from now on, so I know it won’t stick around. That’s right weather complainers, so quit your whining and find something else to fret about.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blah blah blah

I seem to be developing a nasty habit. Perhaps this is a common blogger problem, but I don’t have any data to back it up, so it’s purely speculation. In my list of posts, I have noticed that I have a disturbing trend of writing lengthy entries but never posting them. While I am tempted to go through and eliminate these posts by deleting them, my pack-rat tendencies are not quite ready to let these thoughts and observations disintegrate into the nothingness of time and space.

To be honest, I have been having a hard time as of late. I am well aware of the source of most of this soul-crushing evil, but I don’t feel that I am truly at liberty to say too much about it. Let’s just say that a change of scenery would probably do me a lot of good and I am slowly but surely working to make that change.

On a completely different note, it is almost my birthday. I am saying this more to remind myself than anything. For some reason, this year I have not been hyper-aware of the date. Is this the new norm for me now that I am past the age of 30? Are there no more major age milestones to anticipate until I hit 40? Well, technically I could look forward to turning 35 because that means I would be eligible run for President. Let’s all keep that on our calendars.

I really do truly wish that I had some interesting stories to share, but honestly the most exciting thing that I have done in the last few days was to purchase a Bissell Spot Bot Pet. You may, like my parents, be thinking, “what the heck is that?” What it is, dear readers, is a compact carpet spot cleaner. Now that I have a canine living in my household, I have noticed that she has a tendency to bring nature inside with her after a bathroom break. Nature = large clumps of dirt, mud, grass and bugs.

My natural response to this is to wipe it up or vacuum. Unfortunately, there must be some component to this natural material that causes it to stain my carpet immediately on contact. I tried my usual go-to of Resolve spray to bring up the stain, but no luck. As Lena and I have only been cohabiting for two months, I figured that this rate of destruction would render my living room carpet completely disgusting within a year, so I researched my options.

Professional carpet cleaning? Effective, sure, but expensive and time consuming. Deep cleaning vacuums? Also, probably highly effective, but I already have a vacuum that I love and really don’t need to find room to store another. This led me to the compact cleaners. Not only are they cute, they take 6 minutes to clean the spot and all I have to do is push a button. They do ALL THE WORK. I have now tested it on two set-in stains and I swear it is magic. Best invention ever.

So there you go! My biggest excitement for this birthday week is my acquisition of a new household cleaning appliance! As I have not really been able to come up with a great wish list for my birthday gifts, my parents have been a bit stumped and have threatened to make the new toilet for the farmhouse bathroom my official “gift.” I agreed to this only if I am allowed to decide who can and cannot use it. I will let you know what happens.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Morning: A Dogumentary

I have decided that for this entry, in lieu of my normal text-dominated share-fest, I am going to do some photo documenting.  As a quick background, my parents are out of town this weekend for a wedding and I am staying at their house watching their two dogs plus my one dog.  So far today (which I have gloriously taken off of work) I have driven my parents to the airport, had a latte, taken all three dogs for a 2.5 mile walk and photographed them frolicking in the backyard.  Here we go.

Going outside - the thugs have been lying in wait.
Lena, the "friendly" greeter.
Pippi, using her mulching skills to intimidate me.

Thor, the lurker.

Lena, again the deceptively friendly greeter.
The gang seems to have adopted a pack mentality.  How can I break it up?

Perhaps this could be of use.

Hm.  Obviously this ball has seen better days.  It appears to be circa 1990.

Wait!  There seems to be some interest.

Lots of interest.

The victor.  This time.

Reveling in his conquest.

Can I snatch the ball from the jaws of Thor?

Not without a fight.

Thor enjoys his win while Pippi remains indifferent.  Where is Lena?






I realize that the final picture may seem a bit out of place.  Please note that it was not taken by me.  It was, however, on my mom's camera when I downloaded the other pictures.  Yes, that's right, my mother likes to take POSED pictures of her new shoes.  Don't judge, just laugh with me. 

Friday, April 1, 2011


So I have decided that the best way to combat the general whiny-ness about winter that I have been hearing about everywhere lately is to just move on and ignore it.  People are always looking for a reason to excuse their own crabby-ness or grouchy-ness, and it is only a matter of time before the humidity kicks in and I will be among the malcontents.

What topic should I take up for my "moving on" theme?  April Fools' Day?  Truth be told, I'm not a fan.  I'm not a natural prankster; I am much more likely to say or write something funny/sarcastic than try and make a fool out of someone through deliberate planning.

I guess I could write about the fact that we have now officially entered my birthday month.  As in 31st birthday month.  Eek. 

To pull back from that a bit, I work with someone who just turned 24 last month.  I realize that I am not decades older than her, but I have become increasingly frightened by how different my own life was at that age from where I am now.  My priorities, my beliefs about the future, my freedom.  You see, my 24th year was the milestone year that I purchased my house.

The year was 2004.  The housing boom was riding high, and I had been living in my grandfather's condo for two years.  While it was a nice situation and certainly not beyond my means, I had grown tired of the shackles associated with maintaining a house that belongs to my mother's father.  My grandfather was actually in the nursing home and he never really came back to the condo again.  However, the condo was in a great location and habitually served as the home base for family operations whenever my parents and brothers were in town.

If this condo was 4,000 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms and maid service, there would not have been a problem.  Instead it was a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom with about 1000 square feet.  Maybe less.  It sure felt like less when we were all there.  For beds, there was a queen size in the master, a twin in the den/other bedroom, and a queen size pull out couch in the living area.  Due to the very odd sleeping issues of me and my family, it usually ended up being my mom and in the master, my brothers on the couch and my dad in the small room.

To demonstrate why this was a problem, I will tell you that I do NOT enjoy sharing a bed.  Why?  Because I snore.  That's right, because I snore.  My snoring does not bother me when I sleep alone.  When I have to sleep in the same bed (or same room) as other people, I get a bit paranoid.  I don't like other people to be disturbed by it, but I cannot control it.  I usually end up staying awake for a long time waiting for the other people to fall asleep.

With non-family members, this is usually the worst of it.  With family members, there is an extra dimension to the problem.  They all snore too.  This leads to a vicious cycle of me waiting for someone to fall asleep only to have them start snoring which prevents me from falling asleep anyway. 

The remedy that is frequently employed to get someone to stop snoring is a simple tap or push.  When my brother and I were very young, we used to have to share a bed at my grandfather's house.  Michael has the unique ability to snore, talk, walk and crack knuckles while sleeping.  He has had this skill from early childhood.  When we were young, I realized that his noisy sleep habits only respond to harsh violence in the form of punching, kicking or having shoes thrown at him from across the room.

One thing that I have learned about the tap/push method is that the reason it works is because it actually wakes up the snoring person.  It turns out that for my father and me, the prime snore time is really before we are fully asleep.  In fact, I have been told I was snoring at times that I thought I was still awake.  Weird, right?

This entry has taken a wildly divergent path, but I think I'm going to stick with it.  You didn't really want to hear about my house purchase, did you?  Maybe another time. 

My piece de resistance snore story comes from my family's vacation to Scandinavia in 2008.  We traveled to many places and stayed in many hotels.  Depending on how frugal my mother was trying to be, our sleeping arrangements varied quite a bit.  For the first few nights, my mom and I shared a room.  Thankfully, my mother brought with some Ambien to help sleep.  Of course, jet lag probably helped a bit also.  All of our hotel stays in Denmark and Sweden followed this arrangement.

Then we got to Norway.  Now I realize that Oslo is an expensive city.  Beautiful, but spendy.  In the interest of saving money, my mom got a room for all four of us.  It was cramped.  Oh, and it just so happened that Norway was experiencing unusually high temperatures for the time of year.  Nice.  The one advantage to a cramped space was that everyone was within easy reach for anti-snoring attacks.

Next, we went from Oslo to the sleepy town of Gol, located in the heart of the Halling Valley.  Again, we were able to fit in one room, although this room was actually designed to hold four people as there was additional loft space.  The main disadvantage to this was that my dad and brother slept in the loft, thus putting them out of reach of my anti-snoring acts of violence. 

Further complicating matters was the discovery that my mother was impervious to anti-snoring attacks while on Ambien.  The end result of this was that I spent many sleepless hours in the bathroom or on the balcony with a book, enjoying the constant daylight of the midnight sun.

After Gol, we had one peaceful night in the fjord town of Balestrand where we thankfully reverted back to our Sweden arrangements.  Unfortunately, the last leg of our trip was in Bergen.  This is where my mom got really creative.  As they did not have a four person room at our hotel, she arranged to get one triple and one single.  Through some odd twist of fate, my mom ended up in the single and I was in the triple with the men. 

In this final hotel room, the men slept on the main bed and I slept on a single bed by the window.  By this time, I was exhausted, sick of the unexpected hot temperatures that I had failed to pack for properly and not in the mood to be nice.  I therefore armed myself each night with a stockpile of shoes next to my bed.  These shoes were employed as projectile anti-snoring devices that were flung in the direction of the cacophony coming from the main bed.  It proved to be quite effective.

I hope that you have enjoyed my story and do not think less of me now that you know my dark snoring secret.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I am also a tooth-grinder.  I always have been and I always will be.  Same for snoring.  I have always envied the girls who can sleep silently and peacefully.  These are the lovely girls who are destined to find Prince Charming husbands who will never have to complain that they need earplugs or white noise machines to drown them out.  I am not sure what kind of person is willing to put up with this kind of behavior, because I'm not sure that I could put up with it myself.

Hopefully this has distracted you all a bit from the possibility of further displays of winter and its accompaniment of whining.  Sweet dreams.