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Why I’ve Never Been to Chicago

If you knew me really well, you might be surprised that I work in a profession that requires as much traveling as mine does.  When I was younger, I had a pretty marked aversion to travel.  I would sometimes decide I wanted to go somewhere (like to to Vermont for summer camp) but right before I was set to go, I’d back out.  (The Vermont camping story could be an entry all it’s own – even though I never actually went…)

My last two trips to Pittsburgh had layovers at the Chicago Midway International Airport on the return legs.  I’ve flown in and out of Midway many times, but, as I mentioned to the passenger next to me on my return flight Thursday night, I’ve never actually been to Chicago.  I almost did once, though…

When I was growing up, one summer my mom planned a girls’ trip for us.  I think it was the summer between fifth and sixth grades, but it might have been the summer between sixth and seventh.  She was going to take me to Chicago.

I did not have any particular desire to go to Chicago.  It sounded like a very Big Place.  Then I overheard her talking about talking to someone she knew who had been to Chicago, who was giving her advice on whether the hotel we had chosen was in a safe area, etc.  This put me on high alert.  I deduced that if we needed to be concerned about finding a “safe” place, then there must be a lot of “unsafe” places in Chicago.  At this point in my life, I had not yet been exposed to many situations where I was aware of needing to be aware of the safety of my surroundings.  Now, of course, as an adult, I get it.  But then – the very fact that we had to consider safety told me this was not a place I thought we needed to go.

So I objected.  I told my mother I didn’t want to go to Chicago.

She was disappointed.  She really wanted to go to Chicago.

Instead, we went to Iowa.  We visited an Amish colony.

I have a feeling on the thrill-a-meter scale of zero thrills to ten, a visit to an Amish colony in Iowa is about equal to a visit to Chicago.  *shrug*

And with that, here’s Waylon Jennings, singing about all the places he’s never been:

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The 5 Love Languages

I understand if you aren’t in the habit of taking relationship advice from a person who’s been married three times… maybe I’d be better at writing an entry about “what not to do”, but recent events reminded me of a pretty good book I read years ago.  I think it’s worth reading, and it did change the way I looked at my relationship.  The concept is that each of us expresses love primarily in one (or maybe two) ways:

  • Words Of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts Of Service
  • Physical Touch

And, if someone expresses love to you in a language that’s different than your primary love language, you might not recognize it for what it is.  You might go about feeling unwanted and unloved, when in fact, the other person has been trying to show you love all along.  Thus, it behooves you to learn your partner’s love language, both so you can recognize when they are expressing love to you, and so you can return the favor by expressing love in a way they will recognize.  (It would also behoove your partner to do the same, but hey, we all know that we can only control our own behaviors, right?)

My primary love language is quality time.  Secondary, probably receiving gifts (that’s become less and less important to me as I’ve gotten older, I suspect less so in time as I’ve gotten more and more self-sufficient – nowadays, if I want something, I buy it for myself!)

My husband’s is acts of service.  He expresses his love for me by fixing things, building things, and keeping the outside of our home nice.  I once asked him how he knows I love him, and he told me because I put his medicine out for him every week.

Lately, things have just been going on.  Nothing bad, but we haven’t been spending a lot of time together (remember, that’s my love language) and I’ve been feeling a little… well, neglected!  (He of course, doesn’t notice anything wrong, because that’s not his love language.)  I suggested to him over the weekend that we go for a bicycle ride.  He didn’t want to. I slunk away, feeling rejected.  Then I thought, well, he didn’t recognize my request as an attempt to reach out in love, because… it’s not his language.  So, later that afternoon, I suggested that he teach me how to cut grass.  (Yes, it’s true, I have somehow lived to be 40 years old and never learned how to use a riding lawn mower.)

He looked at me like I had two heads, but once he comprehended that he heard me right, he was right on it!  He had to hurry up and get the lawnmower going, before I changed my mind!  We spent about half an hour with him coaching me, and then he went back to the garage and worked on his current “project” (the one that’s taking all his time away from me) while I cut a big portion of our back and side yard (we have about 4-5 acres of grass total that he cuts, so it took a little bit of time).

He didn’t complain (much) about the results, he took pictures to prove it happened, I got some attention, and (I think) he felt loved.

What’s your love language?

 

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Why I Might Have to Become an Uber Driver

So I’m getting ready to travel to a new Big City for work, one where I’ve never been.  Everyone at the new job says they prefer Uber and Lyft rather than cabs, and it seems that management encourages that, because the cost is quite a bit less.  So I downloaded the apps.

Except, when I was setting up my Uber account on the app, I accidentally told it I want to “drive for Uber”, rather than that I wanted to be a passenger.

Now I’m getting about 5 emails and texts a day from Uber, wanting me to complete my registration to become a driver.  And telling me how excited they are that I’ve decided to become an Uber driver, and how much money I’m going to make and how this decision is going to Change My Life.  And testimonials about other Uber drivers and how wonderful their lives all are now that they’ve decided to take control of their futures and drive for Uber.

It’s all pretty convincing.

I’ve figured out how to stop the emails, but I’m still getting the texts.  I’m afraid the only way I can get it to stop, is just to sign up.  As my friend Jasmyne suggested, then, when my fares ask, I’ll have a funny story about How I Became an Uber Driver.  Maybe they’ll feel sorry for me, the way I was forced into the trade… and leave bigger tips.  I don’t know.

And then, after I make a million dollars, and my life has been changed, I can write a testimonial about how I became an Uber driver just so they’d stop sending me texts.

And I guess… this can be Plan B in case the new gig doesn’t work out.

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The Things I Do For Fun

As I say all the time, Tarzan doesn’t like my cooking.

Well, let me rephrase that.  I don’t think my cooking is the problem.  He doesn’t like what I cook.  As my friend Lynn would say… “same, same”.

Anyway, as far as meals go, my stand-by Make Tarzan Happy meal is spaghetti.  It’s also the best bet for the grandkids, although they are historically much (much much) less picky than Tarzan.

Spaghetti was also one of my favorite things my mom made when I was growing up.  I do not like anyone’s spaghetti but my mom’s, except my own (which is just like my mom’s.)

I remember being at a friend’s house for dinner once, and they were having spaghetti!  It looked just like the spaghetti I knew and loved, and I helped myself to a nice big plate!  I discovered too late that it was full of onions and green peppers!  And those chunks of red that looked like tomatoes?  Red peppers?!  And the sauce tasted… sweet?  What in the world?

That was when I first realized that different people make the same dish differently!  That wasn’t a concept I was familiar with at the time.

Anyway, I don’t do anything fancy with spaghetti.  Just a pound of hamburger meat, a jar of meat sauce from Aldi, and noodles… the thin ones.  Our grandkids’ mom says that she spends all day simmering her special spaghetti sauce… and she tries not to get her feelings hurt that her kids appear to prefer my version, made with noticeably less “love”.

The trick is getting the right noodle-to-sauce ratio!  I never get it right.  What I have to do is make way more noodles than I think, and then add the noodles slowly to the sauce until it looks right.  Then I use the remaining noodles for other things (for instance today I ate some cold noodles with my current favorite side dish, a broccoli and mushroom recipe I got from emeals).

So this evening I googled “noodles to pasta sauce ratio”, and according to most sources, the right combination is a pound of pasta to 24 ounces of sauce.

Well, not at the Dalton’s house, it isn’t!  That would be waaaaaay too many noodles.  This last batch I made I cooked about 10 1/2 ounces of noodles, but probably only used a little over half that.

Oh, and I love the pot-sized spaghetti noodles, when I can find them.  You have to really look for them in stores, I always tend to overlook them on the shelves, I guess because the box is a different size/shape than I’m expecting?

Some day, I’ll remember to weigh the uncooked noodles, make a note… then before I add the cooked noodles to the sauce, weigh them… then weigh the remaining unused cooked noodles, once I get the sauce-to-noodle ratio to my taste… and back into the calculation of how many ounces of uncooked noodles that would be.

Yes, that’s the kind of thing I do.  For fun.

If you think you know the answer, if you think you know the right number of ounces of uncooked thin spaghetti noodles per 24 ounces of pasta sauce (plus a pound of hamburger meat, if that matters), go ahead and let me know.  But know, you’re ruining  ALL my fun.  😉

 

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My Secret Talent

Tomorrow I start my new job.  I spent the day traveling across the country, so I could be where I need to be first thing tomorrow morning.

I’ve had a few people comment that I don’t seem very excited.

It’s true, I’m not.  I’m not unexcited (that’s not a word, is it?).  I’m just kinda… well, okay, let’s see where this is going.

I suppose part of my apparent apathy can be explained by the fact that I pretty much know what to expect.  The work itself is not going to be all that much different.

Another big factor is the fact that I left a good job, where I was reasonably happy.  This is the first time I’ve made a job change when it wasn’t blatantly obvious that the change was going to be better for me.

I remember when I was preparing myself for my second interview at my last job.  Tarzan and I had not been married very long.  I commented to him that “I really want this job.”

He responded that he’d never heard me say that about a job before.

It’s true, I’ve changed jobs… kinda a lot?  In the four years we’d been together up until that time,  I’d changed jobs twice, which is a lot by most people’s standards, including my own.  I remember him being worried that I had changed jobs too often when I was interviewing for that job.  I wasn’t the least bit concerned.  I was certain I was doing the right thing that time.  And I was right.

This time just isn’t so cut and dry.  I know I’ll come out okay.  I expect it to be better than just “okay”.  I just gotta warm up to everything.

I’ve tried to figure out what my dream job would be.  In my wildest dreams (well, with the caveat that in my wildest dreams, my dream job is an actual job, and not something like “professional cookie dough taster”) maybe it would be cool to be a private investigator?  Catch cheating husbands (and wives) kind of stuff.  I can’t really come up with anything that’s feasible to switch to, not this late and life, and not while paying the mortgage.

But I do have a secret talent.  I really REALLY kick ass at crossword puzzles.

Well, you know.  The ones in the magazine racks at the checkout line.  The ones labeled “EZ”, “FUN” and “BIG PRINT”.  Not, like, The New York Times ones.

The lady next to me on my second flight had a book of EZ CROSSWORDS.  It was painful to me to see that she had incorrectly answered a clue in the upper right corner, and that had caused her to take a few other clues the wrong direction.  It was mucking up her whole puzzle.

Now, some people like help with crossword puzzles and some people do not.  (I learned this the hard way.) So, I thought I’d ease into it by asking innocently,  “Do you… have any particular method to working on crossword puzzles?”

“Oh, no, not really.  I just start out with the ones I know and kind of go from there.”

“Ah, I see.  I used to do a lot of crossword puzzles when I was a kid.”

“Really?”  this perked her interest, “I haven’t ever seen a child do a puzzle like this.  How wonderful!  I used to be a teacher!  How old were you when you starting doing them?”

I didn’t know.  All I know is I know all the answers in those EZ books.  I once took one to one of Tarzan’s family get togethers, and you would have thought I was doing parlor tricks… the Daltons were quite impressed.

I pointed to the offending answer in her puzzle, “I think that should be ALEE.”

She screwed her face up.  I don’t think she believed me, but she erased her wrong answer.  “How would you spell that?”

I told her.

“What’s that even mean?” she referred back to the clue:  toward shelter.

“It’s some nautical term,” I told her.

She finished that corner of the puzzle.  “Do you know this one?”

She pointed to the clue:  a man in a cast.

“I think it’s ACTOR.”

She slapped her forehead, “I was thinking like, a leg in a cast!”

I nodded, “It’s all in how you look at it.”

“You’re really smart!”

So.  I wonder how you get going in a career solving crossword puzzles?  Professionally.  Only the EZ ones.  The others are above my pay grade, I’m sure.

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Addicted To A Real Bad Thing

I need caffeine in the morning.  Yes, I know no one “needs” caffeine.  I know I *can* do without it.  But I don’t wanna.

Years ago, when I was about 50 pounds heavier, I would get up in the middle of the night, go to the refrigerator, and chug a cold can of Coca-Cola, and go right back to bed.  I suppose it wasn’t really the caffeine I was after, but rather the sugar.  I don’t know how many I would drink on an average day back then, but if I had to guess I think maybe 3-4.  Compared to some people’s soda addictions, I guess that wasn’t terrible.

Over the years, I’ve cut way back.  But I’ve never been able to completely kick the soda-in-the-morning habit.  When Rubies and I were setting up our roommate agreement, I’m pretty sure the first rule was:  Don’t drink the last cold Coke.  (Also, don’t let us run out of toilet paper.)

Sometime in 2014, I came across the Mountain Dew Kickstart line of soda.  I can’t remember what flavor anymore, but it was before they introduced my beloved Limeade. It may have been orange, but that seems wrong, because generally, I hate all things flavored orange (that’s another story, related to years of having to swallow many children’s aspirin on a daily basis most of my childhood).  Maybe it was fruit punch, but I’ve never been a huge fan of that either (I think they put orange flavoring in fruit punch… ick.)

I liked it, though, because it didn’t have the aftertaste I usually noticed in artificially sweetened beverages, and a 16-ounce can only had 80 calories.  I didn’t like it as much as Coke, but it worked in a pinch.  I would grab one now and then when I was at a gas station, but I wasn’t going out of my way to get them.

Then one morning, I noticed a new flavor!  Limeade.  Prior to this, I was neutral to Mountain Dew.  I liked it fine, I might have one if it was offered or if nothing else was available, but it certainly wasn’t my go-to.  But I thought I might like it better than whatever flavor I’d been drinking up to this point.

I was addicted within weeks.  And they were expensive!  And you couldn’t buy them by the carton, only individually – even at Wal-Mart!  They were kind of a pain in the ass to come by, actually.

Certain gas stations had them periodically for 99¢.  The cashiers at the local Moto-Mart began referring to me as “The Kickstart Lady”.  I would come in every weekend and buy up the following week’s supply, making sure I had one for at least every morning I’d be home.  I told myself that, if the time came that I couldn’t find them for 99¢, I wouldn’t buy them.

Early mornings, when I was heading to the airport at 4 a.m., I’d scrounge the bottom of my purse for enough change, hands shaking like a crack addict, almost shouting out in joy when I realized I had the $1.89 I’d need to finance my fix.  That’s more than the 99¢ budget I’d put myself on, but holy hell, it was 4 a.m.!  I’d already been up since 3 a.m.!  I deserved it!  And it was only 80 calories!

Earlier this year, I started noticing the Limeade flavor being harder and harder to come by.  If I found it, I would buy the store out, even if I had a full week’s stock in the fridge already.  Something was wrong, I could sense it!

I told Rubies I was having trouble finding it.

She seemed concerned.  Gently, she interposed, “I don’t know, Ginger.  Maybe this will be a good thing for you.”

For the last two weeks, I’ve been completely unable to find it.  I was at a U-Gas when the Pepsi delivery man was there, so I asked him, “Hey, what’s up with the Limeade Kickstart?”

“What’s that?  Limeade what?”

“The one in the green can.”

“Hmmm.  The only one we have in a green can is, like watermelon.”

“NO NO NO!  The one that’s flavored like Mountain Dew.  The one in the deep delicious-looking green can!”

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  No, they replaced that with Mango-Lime.”

So, my spidey-senses were right…

And according to this, it was discontinued in the United States in March 2017.  Now, you can only get in Australia.

I thought about ordering it from Australia, surely there’s a way to do that.  But that would be ridiculous.

It WOULD be ridiculous, right?  I definitely shouldn’t do that.  Right?  Right?

With that, I will leave you with my favorite Dan Seals song, which happens to be about a different sort of addiction:

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Drive It Like You Stole It

The best April Fools’ prank I ever played was on my then-husband, in 2001.  We were about halfway through our short marriage (we only made it a little over a year).  The Saturday night of March 31, he had gone out drinking with a buddy.  I don’t recall where I was when he left, but I wasn’t home.

Around 1 a.m. on April 1, I woke up to find he still hadn’t made it home.  I slept restlessly the rest of the night, expecting to hear him come stumbling in any minute.  I realized around 5 a.m. that he probably wasn’t coming home.

Around 6:30 a.m., I got up.  Standing at the screen door, looking out into the driveway, I pondered how mad I should be about the fact that my husband stayed out all night without even bothering to call me.  My gaze settled on his prize 1994 Mustang.  It was a burnt orange color, with a decal on the back of the tinted glass window, portraying a bucking wild mustang and the words:  DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT.

And I had an idea.

Around 9:30 a.m., a white Ford truck pulled into the driveway, carrying my hungover husband.  I saw it pull up, but I hurried back to the back bedroom and busied myself, pretending to do school work (I was in college at the time).

Eventually, he ventured into the house.  Rather boldly, I thought, for a man who had just stayed out all night without so much as courtesy call to his young bride.

I heard him rustling around in the front room, then by and by making his way to the bathroom, and I guess he got a glimpse of me at my desk in the back bedroom, and he started.

“I didn’t think you were home!”

Casually, I looked up, “Where else would I be?”

His eyes widened, “Wait!  Where’s the Mustang?”

I raised my eyebrows, “Did you forget where you parked it last night?”

“What do you mean, where I parked it?”

I stood up from the desk, “I assume you drove it home.”

“When?  Today?”

“Um, yes, today.  What are you talking about?”  I forced my face into the most incredulous look I could muster.

“I didn’t drive last night.  Jack picked me up!”  then I saw a wave of realization cross his face, as he deduced what must have happened, spinning around to run through the house out the door, to the driveway.

I followed after him, calling, “What is your problem?”

“The Mustang!  Where is the Mustang?”

Standing in the middle of the driveway, he seemed to be inspecting the gravel, “Was it here when you got home yesterday?”

“No, I thought you drove it to Jack’s.”

“NO!  JACK PICKED ME UP.  CALL THE POLICE!  THE MUSTANG’S BEEN STOLEN.”

He was seriously in despair.

In the corner of my eye, in the upstairs window of the house next door, I saw the curtain move.  My neighbor (my accomplice) was watching from above.

Opening the window, she hollered out, “What’s all the commotion about?”

“Gina!” my husband cried to her, “When was the last time you saw my Mustang?”

Gina screwed her face up thoughtfully, “Your orange car?”

“YES, YES MY ORANGE CAR!  MY MUSTANG.”

Gina shrugged, “I guess I saw it … yesterday when I got home from work.”

“Well did you see anyone around here?  Someone stole my Mustang!”

“Oh, surely not!  I would have heard someone if they were here.  I mean, you didn’t leave your keys  in it or anything, did you?”  Gina offered, helpfully.

“Of course I didn’t leave my keys in it!”  he turned to me, “Where’s the other set of keys?”

I nodded towards the house, “On the hook by the door, like they always are.”

“Call the police!” he repeated, as he began pacing the driveway, inspecting the gravel, “Do you see any unusual tire tracks?” he asked Gina.

“You want me to call the police?” I asked him.

“Well, I don’t know what else to do!”

“Well, why don’t you call the police?  Do you not know how to use a phone?”

“Ginger!  Just call the damn police!”  he snapped.

“I just wondered.  Maybe the reason you didn’t call me to tell me you were going to stay out all night was because you don’t know how to use a phone?”

“Waylon stayed out all night?”  Gina piped in.

“Ginger, can you worry about that later!  MY MUSTANG’S BEEN STOLEN!”

Gina giggled.

Calmly, I said to him, “Waylon, do you even know what day it is?”

He squinted at me, “It’s Sunday.  What’s your point?”

“But do you know the date?”

Waylon sighed, “Ok, I’ll call the police my damn self!”

As he was heading to the house, Gina called out the window, “Wait, think about this a minute, Waylon!  What’s today’s date?”

“I don’t know what that has to do with any fucking thing!”

The screen door slammed.

Gina, laughing, stage-whispered to me, “You better tell him before he actually calls the police!”

I ran after him, now on the verge of laughter myself, finding him rummaging through the a kitchen drawer, fishing out the phone book.  “Do I call the non-emergency number, you think?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know if the police department is open today.  You know, it being a holiday and all,” I  informed him.

“What holiday is it?”

“It’s April First.  It’s April Fools’ Day.  And your car has not been stolen.  Gina and I took it and hid it at my mom’s house.  And you, my dear, are an April Fool!”

While this was processing, I added, “And next time you’re going to stay out all night?  Your ass better call your wife.”