The Angst of Buying a Blender

Daily married life, thus far, hasn’t proved to be an entirely different experience than when my husband and I were just “boyfriend-girlfriend.” I take comfort in that.

However, one subtle shift has taken place: buying things for the home. Unless I purchase something completely personal to me that doesn’t wipe out our savings, everything else is a “joint purchase.” There are those little words again: we…us…ours.

Something that has been on my list for some time now is a blender. We have an outdated crappy one, albeit with a glass carafe. That was about its only redeeming quality.

The hubs could not understand why we needed one. He kept insisting that our old one worked just fine, despite the fact that anytime he even wanted to make a protein shake, of which the ingredients are powder, ice, and milk, he would have to physically shake the blender while it was on to assist in shifting the ingredients around in the pitcher. Not ideal.

In researching blenders, I came to find out that along the blending spectrum, there is a sharp increase in price as blending technology improves. You’ve got your $30-40 Cheapo brands, which means purchasing one equates to throwing one’s money in the garbage, your mid-priced brands with name recognition–and decent-but-not-great blending functionality–in the $70-150 range, and then you immediately surge up to the $400-600 blenders that promise to change your life FOREVER, which of course means it’s a VitaMix, the Holy Grail of blenders. Not sure what the issues are in blending technology that it takes making a blender that costs someone upwards of $600, but apparently only the wealthy (or irresponsible spenders) are allowed to benefit from it.

It looks like a regular blender, right? But....$500?

It looks like a regular blender, right? But….$500?

As I had no desire to spend an entire year of my life saving up for a blender, we did what most people do: scrounge around for a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond and hope they have something decent in the mid-priced range that will do what it’s supposed to do.

Aside from being slightly disappointed at the lack of inventory in stock (and then remembering that, including myself, most people are buying items online nowadays), what surprised me was that blenders with glass pitchers have now gone the way of the black rhino–only a few are in existence.

The only one I saw was a $40 crappy one that I staunchly avoided. Sadly, everything is plastic now, even when you are willing to spend $100 or more on an appliance. I am sure the savings are passed on to the consumer but if I had my druthers, I prefer glass and would pay a little more for it. Aside: my dear father, who is rather old-fashioned, was aghast at this plastic-carafe news when I told him about it. He suggested I try finding a replacement glass pitcher for the Ninja Professional 1000. I love that guy.Ninja_zoesays

Moving along. We had done our proper reviews research (promptly ignoring the one-star reviews from those people who don’t know how a blender works or were mad that the box was dented when it arrived) and with a little leap of faith, we invested in a Ninja–the Professional 1000, to be exact. A Ninja blender sounds straight out of SNL or Made-for-TV Land, but it is, in fact, a legit brand. This thing has three tiers on the blade and when it’s on, there is no doubt that something is being pulverized. Admittedly, it’s loud, but it works.

After the first go around with the blender, in which my dear husband overfilled it and we had a near disaster on our hands, I took over the smoothie-making in the household and lovingly demonstrated the proper proportion of fruit to protein powder to ice to liquid.

Since the implementation of successful blended drinks has taken place, we are blending fools, making one healthy smoothie after another. Our little Ninja is proving itself to be quite the decent purchase, thank me very much.

I am sure we will eventually find our way to discovering other uses for the blender….perhaps we’ll get creative and make Adult Smoothies when we want fruit and a relaxing drink. (I believe they’re called “daiquiris.”)

booze

A successful foray into Joint Married Purchases, if I do say so myself.

Me Me Me: Observations on Facebook Brags

According to many a study out there, most everyone on Facebook is a narcissist of one form or another. And if you’re a frequent Twitter user, it’s probably worse.

I don’t happen to believe that narcissism through social media is linked merely to those two outlets. There are social networks out there I’ve never even heard of. But if you can have followers and if you have enough ego, you can certainly whip up an unhealthy dose of overinflated self-importance.

Ice cream flavor “Facebook”: the “taste of time-wasting narcissism.”

I happen to love social media. That’s probably not a shocking admission. I mean, I have a blog with my name in it. (Perhaps that’s the ultimate form of narcissism?)

But here’s where I want to focus on one specific aspect of social media narcissism, and those are the Facebook Brags. I’ve been watching a lot of The Newsroom lately, so if I come across as if I’m doing a monologue from an Aaron Sorkin production, that would be why.

The whole point of Facebook is to share one’s accomplishments, milestones, the occasional selfie, some vacation photos, a snarky observation or two, and even cute stuff.  And if you’re into debate, there are plenty of conversation-starting articles, too. It’s what makes Facebook go ’round. Facebook takes the narcissism to the next level by advertising every single change and/or update we make: Likes, comments, profile photos, cover photos, job description, etc, as if it’s all equally important; so to that extent, it’s not entirely our fault.

Where self-involvement becomes untenable is the constant (over)sharing of things a person is doing that are “above” his or her friends’ experiences. When your Facebook statuses are all brag and no substance, it makes other people you’re friends with (or “friends” with) want to click Hide.

Recent studies suggest that passive participation, as in, not actively participating, on Facebook makes a person more unhappy. Another blogger went into a lot of depth analyzing the different kinds of updates one can post and their underlying motivations, the main ones being narcissism, attention craving, jealousy inducing, and “image crafting.” Particularly on the subject of blatant brags, s/he writes:

Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re just excited and need to brag to someone. Even if that’s the case, the only people it’s okay to brag to in life are your close friends, significant other, and family members—and that’s what email, texting, phone calls, and live talking are for. Your moment of self-satisfaction is profoundly annoying to people you’re not that close with, and they make up the vast majority of people who will be subjected to the status.

I won’t lie–in the nine years since I have been on Facebook, spanning from my early twenties to my early thirties, I’m guilty of having penned most, if not all, of the types of status messages that Wait But Why writes about. Twenty-somethings are absolutely more self-involved than most other age groups. However, as I’ve gotten older, matured, and reigned in my baser impulses, I now much more carefully choose what I decide to put out there; so much so, that I have found myself all the more sensitive to brag after brag after brag, particularly if it comes from one person.

When I’ve realized someone is a Braggart 4 Life, each status message earns an eye-roll and some kind of thought along the lines of, “We get it, you’re fabulous and we should all be grateful to be associated with you,” and I categorize that person as shallow/superficial and on the outskirts of friendship. I’ve unfriended people for less reason than being a braggart, but I could see this type of behavior driving much of the unfriending happening around Facebook.

My point here is not to make anyone feel badly about using Facebook. I check it all throughout the day, even if I’m not posting anything, just to see what my peeps are up to.

The point is that braggy, douchey status updates, if someone just HAS to write one, MUST also be balanced out with other types of posts. It’s kind of like Newton’s third law of motion (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (ain’t that the truth)): for every hubris-soaked statement or photo you put out there, make the next two funny/snarky/sweet/banal. It’s that simple!

Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself without those who would share in your actual triumphs and joys. That’s a promise.

Breathes There the Man
Sir Walter Scott

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
“This is my own, my native land!”
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.

Devil Teat

When last I mentioned my television/cable sitch, I was marveling over Jake Johnson’s ability to attract me with early 90s hair.

I had just had my beautiful DVR ripped from my bare hands (that might be overstating it a bit) and we were awash at proverbial sea with nothing but a Roku and a Blu-Ray player to entertain us. (If you do the math, it’s been about six weeks.)

The good news is, movies on Blu-Ray are still highly entertaining and satisfying to watch at home, especially if you have a decent stereo hookup. Still loving collecting movies and watching films in high def in the comfort and privacy of my own home.

no to hulu

“Hulu Plus is so gauche!”

The bad news is, despite trying super extra much to be won over by Netflix and Hulu Plus to fulfill our television needs, we simply were not. Watching Hulu Plus provoked quite the sourpuss reaction from both me and the dude.

We MIGHT have been able to eventually adjust to having to watch shows we wanted to see the next day and try to avoid any kind of buzz about them. But honestly, the biggest turnoff were all the ad jumps. They were more frequent than watching live television, despite the fact that you get to see how many more painful seconds you have to count down before you return to your show.

Oh but wait! They do TWO ninety second ads in a row each time.

Oh and also? The ads during each episode are ALWAYS THE SAME at every single advertising break. Hitting mute every three to four minutes is my idea of paradise not.

Moreover, we knew that the variety of shows we liked to watch weren’t all necessarily going to be available, which was a pretty big downer.

And while I don’t consider it a bad thing to turn off the tube and focus on other hobbies and activities, I basically stopped enjoying the TV experience altogether, as I actually missed being able to scroll through the channel guide to see what was on. Don’t get me wrong–I do love streaming a new TV show (hello, AWKWARD., my new friend)–but I discovered I also need the other half of television entertainment, as well. I need that haphazard stumble onto Legally Blonde playing on Sunday morning. I miss my standup comedy shows!

Last but certainly not least, watching live programs is not an option when you’re only contending with Netflix and Hulu Plus. Which of course is the whole point, because if you find something totally bitchen to stream, you get to compulsively watch a series or movie over and over if that is your choice. With Netflix, at least.

For Hulu Plus, we just couldn’t justify the cost, minimal though it may be. Regular Hulu is free, publishes tons of the most popular clips available, and you still suffer through the ads.

In the end, Netflix is staying, Hulu Plus was kicked out soundly on its ear, and we called the cable company to get a DVR box and our precious channels back post haste.

We really wanted to be the kind of couple who could stay away from supporting the villainous cable company. Truly, we did. In the end, we signed right back up for the Devil’s teat. It probably doesn’t make it sound any better to say that if we had our way, we’d choose DirecTV over a cable company, because essentially, they all operate similarly. But thems the facts.

I’m actually sleeping better at night knowing that when the fall lineup commences in a few weeks, our DVR will be at the ready.

Being wrong for supporting the devil cable company has never felt so right.

***

This post is dedicated to my sweet guy, whose birthday is today. Happy Birthday, darling!

So You Want to Be a Lawyer

It’s been four years since my dude decided he was going to pursue a law career. He made the decision for several reasons but mostly, he’s got the knack for it. His brain is just wired for all that analytical lawyerly thinking.

I have always thought he would make a terrific attorney and like any good woman who believes in her man, I stood right by him, clasped his hand, and said, “I’m with you all the way.”

I was all,

swanson

Because we were in our late twenties when we embarked on this journey together and neither of us are trust fund babies, we knew it would mean a lot of hard work and sacrifice for a number of years.  But we believed the end would justify the means.

So, if you too, also, as well are thinking of going back to get a juris doctorate, get used to this phrase for the next few years of your life:

budget

Let’s start at the very beginning. You have to study for the LSATs, the exam that determines where you can go to school, which is actually kind of a Big Deal. Law schools come in “tiers” and whether your school is in a top tier will likely decide what kind of law career you have (ambulance chaser vs. corporate litigator vs. unemployed altogether).

The LSATs are comprised of bizarre types of questions, including “logic.” Kevin played lots of logic games over the summer of 2009. He read me a few sample test questions, and let’s just say…

muppet

It’s definitely a good thing it wasn’t me who was going to try my hand at law school.

After a summer of studying full-time for the LSATs (and there is a TON of pressure to try to reach that brass ring score of 170 and above), the exam happens. The first hurdle is over!

snoopy

After an agonizing wait, you get your LSAT score, which will elicit the below response, whether you’re relieved or upset at the score:

cry

Once you’ve digested your score, which will determine where you can actually try to get into school, come the law school applications.

bgc

Keep in mind, we’re only at the precursor to actually attending law school. All of this costs a lot of time and money, so prepare to batten down the hatches. It’s a longass ride.

After you’ve applied for your schools, most students join the online forums to banter and agonize over when they’re going to find out whether they’ve gotten in. There is a lot of comparison and speculation going on, especially those who brag about their super high LSAT score, or, they got a lower score, like a 160, and think they’re going to Northwestern.

really

At long last, applications are being reviewed, and acceptances start happening. Because Kevin applied at the height of the recession, when everyone else was running away to school to wait it out, the competition was so intense, that he even got waitlisted at a school that any other year he would have sailed right in. It was like,

tim

If you’re an above average potential law student, however, chances are you’ll get accepted to one of your top choices of schools, and life suddenly starts looking up.

cher

If you go to a good law school, you’ll be moving. Although moving is definitely its own level of hell, it’s worth it when you feel happy about all the potential your future holds. Still…

ugh

Fast forward to 1L year. You find out that there are actually reading assignments due before the first day of class on any given semester.

Hate

Additionally, the first semester of law school weeds out anyone who doesn’t have it in them to really make it.

The competition is even greater now, because you’re up against all the smartest kids in class from all around the country, concentrated into one class of two hundred something people. You don’t go anywhere without a lot of books and your laptop. And I mean, you don’t go anywhere without your laptop.

laptop

After you make it through your first semester, here comes your first set of finals! Here’s where you eat, sleep, and breathe at the law library for about two weeks straight, after you’ve already spent six weeks on “outlines” with your study group. Your entire grade is based on one final exam. You don’t get brownie points for homework. At some point, someone will turn to you and say,

mess

And social activities?

ru

After you’ve had an unpaid internship for your 1L summer, we get to the 2L school year, where you find out that law firms recruit for summer associates in OCTOBER.

bang

My guy took some other people’s advice and crammed his 2L year full with more required classes and other such important things like Moot Court and an externship. And don’t forget the illustrious Law Review! There is an insane desire to stand out as the creme de la creme but it’s hard when everyone is super smart. Each weekend, I would watch him toddle off to the law library. Meanwhile, I acted very needy as I was feeling ignored.

cling

If you’re fortunate to snag a paying job for the 2L summer, you get a small taste of what it’s like to work in a law firm and even earn some lawyer money.

Nene

I remember that feeling of having the option to spend money a little frivolously.

spray

When the money goes away after a paying summer job, it is a sad time. You have to go back to doing things like selling plasma to make ends meet.

broke

By the time 3L year rolls around, you’re a “senior.” It’s old hat. Your approach to your finals may look something like this:

finals

At long last, you make it to graduation. It’s here! You’re a a proud graduate of law school!

I'm

But now it’s time to get down to srs bsns because the biggest hurdle is yet to come–that of studying for your state Bar exam. (Don’t forget about moving and/or finding money to sustain you for the Summer of Studying Hell, because if you thought taking the Bar might be economical, you would be way way wrong.)

You might have one to two weeks to move and relax between graduating and beginning your bar review of choice.

burnt

As you begin your Bar study, you’ll come to find that it doesn’t get any easier from the outset up until the actual exam. (Click here for a classic NSFW blog post regarding how it messes with your mind.)

Reading

Your friends and family (particularly your roommates or your significant other) may find you testy when you’re interrupted whilst taking a timed test…

what

…warranting this kind of reaction:

wiig

When you’re not studying, you can only think about two other things:

sundays

By the time you get to the last weekend before the actual exam, you’re feeling like this:

weep

You can’t imagine life after the Bar, even if you do have a job offer already. All you can think about are the words on your giant box of index cards, trying to put certain laws and lessons into mnemonic devices and acronyms that make sense only in a special kind of hell.

At long last, you make it to the testing center (with its absurdly strict rules that makes the TSA look friendly and relaxed). You endure each drudging day of the exam. (Some Bar exams are three days, which makes even me want to cry for those poor bastards.)

You may emerge feeling something like this:
eyes

When you’re done with the Bar, even if your future is tenuous and you’re unsure what the result is going to be, you can’t help but feel:

brit

I guess what I’m saying is really think about it before you put yourself through four years of unequaled stress, endurance tests, competitions with your fellow man, scavenger hunts for money (read: student loans!), and an unparalleled background check (“character and fitness test”). That’s all BEFORE you job hunt in a recovering economy that is seeing law firms, big and small, tighten their belts and hire fewer and fewer graduating law students.

Make sure you really want it, kids.

Special thanks to http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com and http://whatshouldwecallme.tumblr.com for their amazing GIF contributions!

Tidal Wave of Silence

It happened.

It really…finally…happened.

Last weekend, Mr. and Mrs. S., of My Neighbors from Hell, officially moved out.

Gone. Poof. Moving truck came and went. And they haven’t spent a single night at the apartment since. Maintenance has been in to paint already, which can only mean they’re really, truly, utterly gone.

The blissful silence that has enveloped us from next door (in addition to the intoxicating absence of any third-hand cigarette (or otherwise kind of) smoke) has been a crushing tidal wave of relief.

The chains have come off. The doors to Shawshank have opened to reveal too bright light.

We bask in the glorious freedom!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Handel’s Messiah. Not just for Christmas!

Bar Study Means Boredom

Allow me to set the mood by prefacing my whining post with this still from one of my most favorite movies, L.A. Story:

BBBAhhh, the stage is set.

It is Saturday night and I have been sitting at my computer for easily an hour or more. I honestly haven’t been keeping an eye on the clock. I gave up watching TV downstairs, since the Kevster is studying for the Bar exam and I grew tired of streaming inanity.

I’ve twirled in my chair; I’ve stared off into space; I’ve thought about how bored I am; I’ve thought about what a luxury it is to be bored; I’ve thought about how annoying it is that my right leg and foot have been tingling off and on every time I sit or lie down, rendering it impossible to laze around and do nothing; I’ve felt sorry for myself that I’ve been cooped up all day and now I’m bored and have nothing to do; I’ve thought about Stephen King, how he survived being hit by a car, picked himself up, struggled through excruciating pain during physical therapy, and he still manages to churn out lengthy novels; and I’ve thought about how normally I cherish being in my little nest on the weekends.

But something about this evening has me twitchy.

In between that last sentence and this one, I’ve browsed Amazon, Facebook, my email, completed most of a crossword puzzle, fiddled with my hair, read a quote by Geneen Roth (author of Women, Food, & God) to try and help me remember to embrace my life as it is now, I’ve thought about how cool it would be if there was a rollerskating rink JUST for adults that was open all night and played all my favorite kinds of music, and I even remembered to be grateful that at least as of this moment, Mr. and Mrs. S. aren’t blaring music like they were last night, which forced us to hole up in the guest room with a carpet picnic. We actually ended up streaming another Sebastian Maniscalco routine, so it wasn’t a bad time.

Part of me wants to go for a drive. But since the city I live in is on the petite side, I’d just end up going in a circle (well, a square) and it wouldn’t be as mindless as I would really prefer it to be.

I’m not what you would call a “drinker,” so going out is off the table, especially alone. Going to a movie might be fun but then I’d have to go by myself (see above with “Bar study” being at the top of Kevin’s To Do List until August 1) and I don’t really feel like being around lots of people, either. I know, I’m being all, FEEL SORRY FOR ME. Sheesh, someone get me to White Whine already.

What this town is missing is an all-night coffee house that has soft (live) jazz playing, a place where I can sit and sip, while interchangeably staring off into space and watching people.

About the only things I haven’t resorted to doing are baking and doing any kind of craft. It’s too warm out to bake and quite frankly, the nihilism has taken over my mind and body–I’m past the point of no return.

I’ve reached the stage of ennui where all I can actually do is complain about how bored I am.

Bored
Beyond
Belief!

Kevin and I have made it through four years of his prepping for and completing law school, and now we’re rounding out the journey with his studying for the Bar exam, which will happen at the end of July.

I know I’m not the one who has to cram all of this knowledge into my brain so I can pursue my dream career. My job is to be supportive and to stand by my man and even to help him study, if need be, while I sit idly by and figure out what the heck to do with myself, since studying doesn’t brake for weekends, no siree Bob.

When one person in a relationship has to study for the Bar for two months straight, the other person gets to spend all kinds of time with herself on her own, to the point where she’s bored doing her usual introverted activities. Even watching whatever I want on TV lost its appeal.

I need my fairy godmother to come along and fast forward time to August, when the studying and the exam are behind us and we can move on with our lives.

(Speaking of fairies, did you know there is something called “fairy gardening?” I just learned about it the other day. It’s a seriously for real thing. Google it!)

Look at that, I’ve managed to make it to 10 p.m. I’m going to see if I can’t go bore myself to sleep.

Bored-Cat

Arachnophobia or just being a girl?

I don’t know about you guys but I love to self-diagnose via the Internet.

WebMD anyone?

If something goes wrong, whether it’s mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or whether I simply need to know when Johnny Depp’s birthday is, the trusty World Wide Web is there at my service.

After today’s incident with the Spider From Hell, I am on the edge of declaring myself as an arachnophobe.

Hear me out.

Here I was, minding my own business at my desk at work, tra la la, and suddenly from behind my desk against the wall crawls a huge brown spider. This thing had a long body and creepy legs and caused me to choke at first sight. I really started to panic because I didn’t know if I could kill it with a paper towel because it was so big. (Because squishing them gives me the heebie jeebies.)

It crawled up towards the ceiling but then it started rappelling down on its silky strand things. I really started freaking out that it was going to decide to jump either on me or onto my desk, also known as the Forbidden Land, as far as it was concerned.

Practically putting a fist into my mouth to keep from screaming, I went down the hall and I asked a male coworker (who is very busy) if he could help me with a girl problem I was having. I said, “Are you afraid to kill a really big spider?”

Mercifully, he was so nice about it and happily obliged me. He came around the corner and said, “Whoa, that is a big one.” So I’m not being irrational. It was huge. It didn’t belong in an office, hovering over me and watching me with all of its eyes. And legs. And possible fangs.

In trying to smash it with my recycling bin, Big Scary Spider decided to do the equivalent of what would be committing suicide for us humans and simply let go of the wall and dropped back behind my desk. My coworker even went so far as to look for it with a flashlight but it had disappeared.

So far, it hasn’t reared its ugly head again.

Yet.

My weapons are Kleenex and a can of electronic duster spray. I know that from the movie Arachnophobia, they used fans to get the spiders to move where they wanted to, so my thought is, if it decides to pull a Terminator and comes back, I’ll be ready. I also don’t think I could keep myself from screaming for a second time should it rear its ugly head.

After I calmed down and I checked behind and under my desk no less than thirty times to make sure it wasn’t there, I decided to Google “common spiders Illinois.”

Big mistake. Big. Huge! (Sorry, channeling a little Pretty Woman there.)

I can’t even LOOK at the enlarged photos of spiders while trying to read about them. I start to shudder and get goosebumps. And, I forgot to mention this, but if I think about the spider long enough (especially if I were trying to eat), I could easily make myself throw up.

Then I decided to look up arachnophobia and while I’m not having a panic attack, I am still looking for it as I write this.

So what do you think? Am I just overreacting and being a total girl about this? Or do I qualify for my Arachnophobe Card? 

Daniel Stern's reaction is what I would do.

Notice anything different about me?

No, I didn’t get a haircut.

No, I haven’t lost weight.

…………..

Yes, it’s the new theme! Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I really like it, like a lot a lot. Others who shall not be named aren’t as keen to it but that’s because some people don’t like change and aren’t female so pink and green aren’t exactly his thing. Okay, we all knew it was Kevin.

I decided to just go for it since changing my theme has been eating at me for quite some time, and then I spent a few hours tweaking this thing like crazy. I’m still waiting for the guy who developed it to tell me what to do about the header but it’ll do for now.

Isn’t she pretty? If I were wearing say, a new dress, I’d be twirling around while I preen.

There are a few options I haven’t exercised yet but overall, the theme is exactly what I wanted. It’s got a few extra bells and whistles and a lot more widget area, so I could spread things out without feeling quite so cramped. The footer looks way better and I think navigation will be infinitely easier, too.

New items are an Archives page in the main menu and social media buttons to the right. And let’s not forget about the font. I’m no longer publishing in the Georgia font. Thanks be to God, I have moved on and can have a nice, easier-to-read font on my blog!

Pretty spiffy, right?

I lurve it.

And for anyone who has questions about upgrading to a Premium Theme on WordPress, they do give you the option of getting a refund if you’re displeased with the theme overall. While I don’t think I’ll be asking for one, it’s nice to have that peace of mind.

Hooray!

Edit: I updated the iPad feature included with this theme, so that for those of you who are lucky ducks and have one, you’ll see a specific launch image when you add Zoe Says to your home screen and open the site from there. (I’d be pretty honored if one of you out there actually added me to an iPad home screen.)