Friday, June 20, 2008

I Do Not Drive A Lexus

I know very little about cars, so I hate taking mine to the shop, even when it's just for a routine oil-change. Inevitably what I expect to be a routine oil-change suddenly becomes a dire situation which more often than not involves a few mechanics taking all of my car's innards out, throwing them around on the garage floor, splattering each other in oil, reassembling the car, and charging me $700.00. I hate it when they do that.
Today I got very lucky and left after receiving exactly what I asked for: a routine oil-change. No pressure to buy new wiper blades, no persuasion to have my transmission fluid flushed,not even a suggestion to have my tires rotated. The service was friendly, relatively quick, and less expensive than my previous dealership. And on top of everything, there was free entertainment in the waiting room.
I took my book and my Mickey D's sweet tea inside, where I plopped myself down into the first empty chair I saw. The tile floor amplified the deafening television, and I was amazed to observe a couple in their twenties glued to the set while their infant daughter sat alone, babbling in her stroller.

Scene: An Automobile Service Center Waiting Room

Woman to Man: But DNA testing isn't 100 percent correct.
Man Screaming to Television: (laughing) Y'see? Now you stuck. Now ya gonna have to stay with the bitch. That baby's yours, man!
Woman to Man: SHHHH! Don't say 'bitch.'
Man: Don't tell me what to say. I'm gonna go piss. (walks away)
Woman to Infant in Stroller: (in baby talk voice) If ya daddy don't fix hisself, me and Daddy's gonna be on Divorce Court, too.
Infant in Stroller: ---

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad

My husband and I visited my parents over Memorial Day weekend. As usual, we found ourselves spending most of the time together sitting around the kitchen table, just talking. I don't think the television or stereo were turned on the entire time we were there; conversation with Mom and Dad is normally much more entertaining than anything a national media outlet could provide.

We had a great time. But Sunday morning, sort of out of the blue, my father asked me a question and he sounded serious. "Sarah, do you think I get mad a lot?" I didn't really think about the answer as much as I should have, and after a second I responded.
"I don't think you get mad, necessarily, but you get upset. Yes, I would say you have a short temper."

And if you had grown up in our house, you probably would have thought the same thing. So many times we were screamed at for leaving lights on in empty rooms, pouring juice over the kitchen floor instead of walking two more feet to the counter, leaving water running, leaving our stuff outside in the rain, failing to finish chores we had put off for days...typical careless kid-like behavior got us into some nasty dinner table "discussions."

But here's the thing with my dad. There have been so many, many other times when he could have--and maybe should have--screamed and yelled and instead played it cool, talked it out with us, or stayed quiet and let us figure things out on our own (and most likely vented about it with Mom when we weren't around).

There was the time I nearly failed AP English because I was a senior and I was sick of school and I didn't like that teacher, so I quit writing papers. I just stopped. Don't pass English in high school and you don't graduate, but I was an idiot and had grown tired of deadlines and what I mistakenly thought at the time was hard work. I was stunned to come home one afternoon and find my dad already home from work. I was more stunned to discover that he had chatted with Mr. Franks, my English teacher. Dad could've called me every name in the book, but instead he just quietly told me how disappointed he was and wanted to know why I was wasting the last few months of a long, mostly good, school career. That conversation kicked me in the ass, I made up a few assignments, and pulled out a 4 on the AP test.

There was also the time that I completely totaled my car when, in the middle of I-75, I rammed right into a reclining chair followed by an unforgiving steel guardrail. It was a freak accident and thankfully I was both alone and unharmed. But I had stupidly leased the car rather than purchased it, and I received approximately zero dollars from the insurance agency. Despite the urge he surely must have been fighting, Dad did not kill me or even tell me what a jackass I was for getting into this financial nightmare. Instead he visited his credit union and sent me a check so I could buy a used car, finish grad school, and get myself back on my feet.

My brother, sister, and I weren't terrible kids. We were decent students, we were usually pretty nice to other people, we didn't lead lives of crime. But we each had our share of dumb stunts, terrible ideas, and dangerous situations that would have angered and stressed out any parent. We are so lucky to have both a mom and a dad who could still see potential despite all of our screw-ups and calmly pushed us on through to adulthood. I hope my kids can be half as lucky. And if they think I get mad a lot because I yell at them for "leaving the door wiiide open" or "pourin' on the run," I just hope they forget about it when I help them get through college, move them into their first house, or dance with them at their wedding.

Thanks, Dad, for everything. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

When The Cat's Away...

My husband loves food, but for all the joy and pleasure he gets out of drinking a creamy beer, eating a tasty hunk of sharp cheddar, and chowing down on a juicy steak, he has an equally strong repulsion to seafood, coffee, and nearly everything grown in the dirt. I still eat vegetables with dinner and grind fresh beans each morning, but I try to avoid any "extreme" vegetable meals when he's in town.

And when he's not in town, the herbivore in me usually comes out to play. I'd been wanting to make this salad for a few weeks, but with no fridge at work it wasn't very school-lunch-friendly. I was happy to see broccoli on sale last week when I went grocery shopping, and with Marc in Anaheim it was a perfect time for me to get my salad fix.

Thanks to Mom for her recipe, and thanks to Lani of Pleasure Cooker for jogging my memory with this stuff.

Broccoli Salad

1 bunch of broccoli, finely chopped
1 cup grated cheddar (I use sharp and I'm fairly certain I put in more than a cup!)
1 chopped red onion (I will chop the onion finer next time, I had some pretty strong bites in this batch)
8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

Mix together. Then make the dressing...
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (I'm sure other vinegars work, but I like this best)

Fold the dressing into the salad and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Best Wishes

I played violin at a wedding last weekend, and it was one of the few where I didn't feel very good after it was over.

The music was fine, don't get me wrong. But it was one of those rare instances where the bride and groom and their families just didn't seem to have that "glow." I feel terrible saying that, I don't know these people and maybe they were elated and I simply didn't see it. But there were some red flags all along, and 4 days later I'm still mulling it over and worrying about their marriage.

When I sent the bride a playlist months ago, she wrote me back "just play whatever you want. We really don't care that much about the music." I know most people don't get as much into music as I do, but most brides (and some grooms!) show at least a little concern. Communicating with her was like pulling teeth; her phone was mysteriously "out of service" and she went through 3 different email addresses over the course of 2 months. I never received her payment, and after politely reminding her that my fee was due a week before the event she promised I would have it at the rehearsal the night before. It didn't happen, and I had to eventually chase down her dad while the photographer took family pictures after the wedding ceremony (I majored in music education, not business or entrepeneurship).

There were other things that were just strange. The bride cried--like really loud, sobbing not silent, smiling tears--through the entire event. Perhaps it was in part because her three-year-old daughter, aka Flowergirl #1, threw a fit before coming down the aisle. Or maybe it's because the groom's father's 20-something girlfriend (got all that?) arrived wearing a strapless, fitted, ankle-length WHITE dress.

I hope when the stressful logistics were figured out, they were able to laugh and relax and just goof off and enjoy their day. I loved every minute of my wedding day, and I hated to leave this one feeling sad.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's The End Of The Year As We Know It

School's out once again, and today marks the beginning of My Summer Vacation. This year felt a little longer than usual; because I moved last June, I spent last summer finding a job and then jumping through the various hoops required to teach in Florida.

So I am extremely happy to finally have a hefty chunk of down-time here in my still relatively new town. I've lived here for a full year now, but I have done very little exploring other than a few beaches and a handful of restaurants. I'm looking forward to some shopping, eating, visiting museums, running a 5k or two, and hopefully taking my first cooking class. A trip out to Oregon and maybe a visit with my little nephew, and this should be a full, but relaxing, summer.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Everybody's Goin' Green

Last weekend while visiting my hometown, I spotted this treasure. A limo covered in astroturf.

I am now 100% committed to the promise that I will always keep a camera in my purse.