Monday, June 03, 2013

Shelf Life

There are a couple of great things about blog awards. The first is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when a fellow blogger picks you for one of these awards. The second is that this is the kind of award you can accept in your pajamas--no red carpet or run-in with the shrill and spiteful Joan and Melissa Rivers clothing critique team necessary. Perhaps best of all (for our purposes today, in any case), is that these awards do not come with an explicit expiration date. Therefore, the only side effect to waiting, say, two months to accept one is a mild case of sheepishness on the part of the accepter.

Sheepish, I am. I am also (as you may have noticed) a bit blog blocked at the moment so I'm going to take this chance to have a post practically write itself by accepting the awards given to me over the past two months by Jodi over at the 100 Smile Challenge Blog, Allison at Off the Mark, and Jessica at A word or two, about a word.

All three awards were versions of the Liebster Award, which involves posting 11 random facts about yourself, answering 11 questions and posing 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate. As always, I'm bending/breaking the rules by posting 11, not 33  random facts (you're very welcome) and by not nominating anyone else, but instead inviting anyone else who would like to participate to snag the badge (or badges) and answer the questions that appear after my answers. Just leave a comment with a link to your post if you do decide to play along.

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I have a pretty kickass backyard volleyball serve. It almost makes up for the fact that I'm not as mobile as I once was when it comes to returning the ball.

2. Once the thermometer hits 85 degrees or so (lower if the humidity is bad), I'm pretty much useless for anything except whimpering and whining.

3. I shout out the answers when I watch Jeopardy! on TV, even when I'm the only one in the room.

4. At the risk of outing my inner seventh grader: I rarely hear the word "dictator" in even the most horrifying context without thinking it sounds like a condition preventable with routine body maintenance. You know: ear wax, toe jam, foot corns, dictators.

5. A few months ago, I spent several shifts updating the resident handbook at the halfway house where I work, combing through thirty-some pages of rules, making amendments and additions. Partway through this ridiculously tedious project, the probable futility of it hit me upside the head. Though we do have the occasional resident who goes through the book line by line (looking for loopholes), the reality is most of them never even open it--and I highly doubted my boss, much less my coworkers, would spend much time perusing my updates. So, fully expecting that next to no one would be reading what I'd written, I decided to place a sort of test sentence smack in the middle of the visitation policy. I wrote: "Two-headed purple people will not be permitted on the premises without prior written permission." Much to my surprise, my boss caught the sentence--and to my further surprise, she left it in because she said it would help us keep track of who is actually paying attention.

6. My maiden name means "lime burner" in German. I once got into an argument with a middle school art teacher who insisted it meant "cabbage burner." Considering how often (and often inattentively1) I cook cabbage now, "cabbage burner" may be more accurately descriptive.

7. I firmly believe that Chinese food tastes better from chopsticks and I refuse to eat it with a fork.

8. I have (so far) been working on this post for almost two weeks...This list of random things is the last bit and it's taken me the longest.

9. I have never plucked, waxed or otherwise groomed my eyebrows. Never even seriously considered it. I am completely baffled by the existence of such practices.

10. Most of the time when I'm cooking--especially if I am making one of my "specialties," I am narrating my own cooking show in my head, patiently and wittily explaining my choices and techniques.

11. Since the mid-nineties, I have had a borderline unhealthy fascination with Julia Louis-Dreyfus's hands. They are compact and proportionate and somehow strong-yet-delicate-looking; my eyes are drawn to them with an almost creepy regularity. I'm not watching HBO's Veep purely for Dreyfus's hands, but frankly, they do rank fairly high on my list of reasons.

Jodi's Questions:

1. What or who put a smile on your face today? Discovering that, even after twenty years away, riding a bike turns out to be just like riding a bike.

2. What or who inspires you to blog? The desire to connect with others and the opportunity to hone writing skills, in that order.

3. What is your greatest goal right now? Right now, I am working on focusing more on my writing. This has been my focus for a lot of right now's, with only marginal success. I'm hoping this right now is different.

4. What is your favorite way to spend ME time? With words, ideally somewhere near a large body of water.

5.  If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? I think just a little more compassion and empathy would go a long way. So many things from wars to hunger to hate would be improved if we could just understand the suffering of others on a more visceral level.

6.  What is your best feature?  My appreciation for the unusual and the absurd.

7.  What are you grateful for today? Corny as it may sound, I am grateful for so many things to be grateful for.  Family, friends, work that I love even when I hate it, books, spring finally having sprung, etc., etc., etc.

8.  What is your favorite candy? Despite my avowed (and somewhat conflicted) passion for Peeps, I am more of a random craving sort of candy lover than an all-time favorite kind of candy lover.

9.  Which is your favorite holiday and why? Call me Ebenita Scrooge, but I think overblown expectations are the root of many a disappointment and holidays the way we as a culture tend to celebrate them are all about overblown expectations. That said, my favorite holiday is any one where I can squeeze the most members of my family under a single roof and just all be together. 

10. Dogs or cats? Considering I woke up to yet another bra ruined by the neurotic2 Nomi, our beagle-German shepherd mixed mutt, now's probably not a good time for me to answer any pet-related questions.

11. Which one word describes your mood right now? Whiny.

Alison's Questions:

1. What's a bad habit you have? Procrastination.

2. What's your favorite blog post (you've written)?
3. What is the physical feature you dress to highlight? I'm a comfort dresser and have long dressed to hide rather than highlight.

4. Odd or even numbers? Even, mostly. This question (like so many things in an average day) does remind me of a Steven Wright quote: "A while ago, I was in Las Vegas at the roulette table, having a furious argument over what I considered to be an 'odd' number."

5. Movies or plays? I don't get the opportunity to see many plays so I would pick movies if forced to choose. I am so much more verbal than visual, though, that it's a rare movie or play that can hold my attention the way the written word does.

6. What's your favorite slang/silly phrase to say? My current favorite is the exclamation "motherfudgsicles!" pronounced in exactly the tone and volume of the more vulgar exclamation it is meant to replace.

7. If you could only have one piece of software on your computer, what would it be and why? Microsoft Word. Not merely because I can't imagine editing without but because I can clearly remember editing without it.

8. What's your least favorite color? Teal. Ewww.

9.  If I say "soup to nuts" what does that mean to you? To me, "soup to nuts" means a wide or even all-encompassing variety of a given thing. If you say it, it means to me that you might be channeling my long-dead grandmother or someone of her generation.

10. If we're getting together for drinks, what are you going to order? Tequila and any concoctions derived therefrom.

11. What's your favorite comfort food(s) when you're having a rough day? This is a tough one, but I guess I will go with anything involving potatoes. Let me also add, though, that if comfort food actually provided comfort, I'd perpetually be the most comfortable person on the planet.

Jessica's Questions:

1. What is your favourite day of the week? Friday, but only because Friday is my Saturday with my current work schedule.

2. What is your favourite TV show? Don't really have one. I watch more TV than I should (and actually more than I really mean to), but there is nothing I'm sorry to miss, if that makes any sense.

3. Out of all your family members, who are you closest to? What a diabolical question...I guess I would go with my husband.

4. What is one thing you are grateful for today? See number 7 in Jodi's questions.

5. Who is the one person you've lost contact with over the years and wish you could get in touch with? Been there, done that, would totally do it again despite the painful ending. There really isn't anyone left on my list, partially thanks to Facebook and partially thanks to the fact that I've always had a hard time letting anyone go. I'm forty-four and I still exchange Christmas cards with people I haven't seen since seventh grade.

6. Do you believe in marriage? After nearly twenty-six years of wedded bliss or, as I like to call it sometimes, wedded blitz, I believe all kinds of things about marriage. But, yes, I still believe in it.

7. Salty or Sweet? Depends on the day. Sometimes both.

8. What is one of the most beautiful/amazing things you've ever been a witness to? For some reason, when I read this question the first thing that popped into my head was a photograph my friend Toni (of the forbidden pepperoni) sent me years ago. It was of her daughter, who has cerebral palsy. She is wheel-chair bound and non-verbal (which should not be confused with non-communicative--she most definitely makes her wishes known). The photo was taken when she was 8 or 9, I believe and in it, she is sitting outside during the first snowfall of the year with an expression of delighted rapture on her face. There was something so beautiful and alive in her joy that even though I was not there to actually witness it, I've carried that moment with me--literally (for years in my wallet) and figuratively as well.

9. What is one thing you've done to help make a stranger's day better?  I recently chased a woman for two blocks to return her toddler's sneaker, which had fallen off on the sidewalk.

10. If you had one wish for the world, what would it be? See number 5 in Jodi's questions.

11. What made you start blogging? Originally, I started the blog as a companion to what I hoped would be a newspaper column. I only pitched the column to one market before giving up, but by then I was committed to the job.

Here are my 11 questions for anyone who'd like to play along (yes, they are the same 11 questions I posed last time, but I worked really hard on these questions, so I'm sticking with them):

1. If time travel were possible, where would you go first? The past? The future? A specific time?

2. If you could claim any existing literary work as your own, what would it be?

3. You come upon a group of extraterrestrials disembarking from their ship in a deserted field. What is your first thought? First action?

4. I once read that smell is the sense most closely linked to memory. Which scent most strongly brings back childhood for you?

5. If you could rewrite the ending of a favorite book or movie, which one would it be and why?

6. Speaking of childhood, what food or foods make you wrinkle up your nose even now that you're a grown-up?

7. Who is the friend who's been in your life the longest? How did he or she come into your life?

8. Who has been your greatest teacher (inside the classroom or out)?

9. Do you have or have you ever had a nickname? Love it? Hate it?

10. What would the teaser on the back of your autobiography be?

11. Though you've no doubt been warned, do you nevertheless judge books by their covers?

1. In fact, there is cabbage frying (and likely crisping a bit too much at the edges) in the kitchen at this very moment.

2. And damned resourceful--I'm still not quite sure how she manages to find and decimate my bras so quickly. The fact that I rarely put my bras in a drawer or hamper and instead fling them about my bedroom--even though I KNOW she wants nothing more than to destroy all of my bras--is utterly irrelevant.