Saturday, December 22, 2012

Preparing for the Produce Onslaught

After the New Year, I will begin something called the GAPS Diet. (GAPS = Gut and Psychology Syndrome). For the first month or so, I'll subsist on meat and seafood broths and soups made with meat and seafood broths. After about the third week, I'll be allowed to add in some meat, so long as it isn't barbecued or fried. Roasted or boiled is the only way to go, apparently.

Also, I'll be drinking juices, because they're super-important in making sure I get all of my nutrients, and they also help with detoxification. Needless to say, these aren't the Welch's Grape Juice variety of juice. No, these are serious, kale- and spinach-based juices meant to alkalize your body, which apparently removes toxins lurking in your liver.

Lurking... in... your... liver...


My kitchen has a whopping 12 square feet of counter space, which probably sounds like a lot, but isn't. When you account for the fact that I have hardly any undercounter storage (three narrow drawers and two cabinets with doors, plus a ridiculously tiny and inefficient pantry), and so I have to store my kitchen towels, utensils, and blender on the countertop, it's reduced down to about 2 square feet of prep space.

I am not exaggerating.

In order to do the GAPS Diet properly, I have to make my own juices, and NOT in a blender, because the first two weeks requires a reduction in fiber to give your intestines time to heal. Or something. So I have to get a juicer.

Do you have any idea how expensive juicers can be? Particularly the kind that are required to handle leafy greens?

They're expensive. The *best* ones are in the $250+ range.

I'm a grad student. $250 juicers are not an option, at this point in my life. And they're also enormous.

So I bought a smaller juicer - $99, hooray! - that was recommended by a few "juicing gurus" as a good starter model. Hopefully, they made good recommendations.

I've also been researching juice recipes. Specifically, juice recipes that fall in the "Green Drink" category. Some of them have names like "Mean Green Drink," "Mean Green Drink #2," and "Mean Green Drink #3," because f**k creativity, amirite?

But then there are those that tell you exactly what their purpose is - and their purpose reaches beyond being mean and green. They have names like "The Liver Scrubber" and "Celery Detox," neither of which conjures happy mental images.


Well, not exactly "happy" mental images... But boy, are they ever mental images!

I've also purchased a hand-held immersion mixer-thingy, because they're easier to use than pouring everything into a blender and dealing with all of that nonsense.

So, in the future - the very near future - I will be living on a liquid food diet. Only for a couple of weeks, though, and then I get to move on to mushy over-cooked vegetables. Hooray! Also, some overcooked fruit, too, which should be a little better-tasting, I hope...

So, liquid foods. Well-done meat and seafood. Mushy veggies (I intend to just puree them and pretend I'm a 12-month-old again).

... ... ... ...

Did I mention I get to drink ginger tea? 

Monday, December 17, 2012

High Heeled Pain in the... Foot

Back in the day, I wore high heels to work every day.

"The day" was in 2007-2008, in case you didn't know.

So, like I said: high heels every day.

At the time, I refused to wear any heel lower than 3-inches, because lower heels were for LOSERS and people with stiff hips.

Then, I worked for Oldsmobile for a time, and I rarely wore heels because of impromptu visits to the construction site, etc. My collection of 4-5 inch heels languished in my closet during this time, getting dusty and going out of style.

Okay, not really, because I'm me, and I store shoes in clear plastic boxes so they won't get dusty, and I tend to buy pretty classic silhouettes, so there's that.

I have a quasi-job-interview on this upcoming Wednesday, and none of the heels in my closet were:
a) appropriate
b) appropriate
c) fitting (as in, they fall off when I walk, for some unknown reason).

I took myself to DSW to see if I could find some replacements.

Nope. All open-toe or stripper platforms, or some combination thereof. The only decent ones I saw had low heels, in the 2-inch heel height range.
Stripper platforms

So then I went to Nordstrom, and I found a pair of heels that I tried on. They were a stunning 4-inch heel, black patent leather with an asymmetrical vamp that would make you cry tears of joy.

They didn't fit.


The shoe salesman then brought me another pair, with a lower 3-inch heel, and more padding on the foot-bed. They were better, but still not great, even with all of the padding. Also, they were not patent leather, and I wanted patent leather, gosh-darnit.

A third pair was trotted out. I'd seen them when I was wandering around, but they had a measly little 2-inch heel on them, and I couldn't bring myself to ask the salesman to bring them out. But he did, anyways, and so I put them on with those little footlet things that are just cheap pantyhose with a staple at one end.

They were the most amazingly comfortable shoes I've ever worn in my life. Okay, no, that's not true, but they beat the heck out of the 4-inch heels.

I laughed as I told the salesman I'd take them. "I guess I can't hack it in 4-inch heels, anymore."

So, yeah.

I turned 30 back in October, but I didn't really feel 30.

Until yesterday, that is. And now I totally feel 30.

Time to get a couple of yappy dogs and a subscription to Martha Stewart Living, I guess.

Oh, wait. I already subscribe to Living.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

What the Last Post Was Intended to be About

And yes, I am entirely aware that I ended the title of this post with a preposition, but you can all put on your big-girl panties and deal with it. Or, you know, your big-boy BVDs, if you're a fella. Or boxers, if that's your preference.


The last post I wrote wasn't supposed to get into the realm of I'm-going-to-eat-broth-and-sauerkraut-for-months so much. I'm going to claim, for the record, that the sauerkraut hi-jacked the post.

Sauerkraut has a tendency to do that, you know.

The last post was really supposed to be about the current Gentleman Caller.

*record scratch*  *Kid'N'Play make funny faces at the camera*

How did I intend to get from my insane food intolerances to the Gentleman Caller?

It's a somewhat circuitous route.

We've been dating for... a few months? Maybe three months? Or four of them?

I'm not really sure, because I'm terrible with dates. With the exception of immediate family, I would not remember any of my friends' birthdays without Facebook, sad to say. And when it comes to anniversaries, I'm hopeless (except for my parents' and my sister's and BIL's).

So, a while. We've been dating for a while.

And we almost didn't start, because THIS GAL had to reschedule the first two dates due to migraines. When he seemed okay with rescheduling, I realized that either:

1) He was desperate for a date
2) I am AMAZING.

I've decided to go with option "2" (and he encouraged me to think as much when I brought it up teasingly the other day).

Granted, we had spoken on the phone multiple times - and at length - before we were supposed to go on our dates. I could very well have seen him deciding that maybe I'd changed my mind and abandoning the whole idea of going out with me, though, rather than continuing to reschedule dates.

And, yeah, I've had to reschedule some since that time, too, because migraines - like s**t - happen.

Here's the thing: we most often go out to eat for our dates, and that can be tricky for me. I have yet to have to come up with a location for a date, though, because he always checks the restaurants' menus to make sure there are gluten-free choices for me. And if there aren't any explicitly gluten-free options for me, he calls the restaurant to see what they have.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that seems to me to be a sign of someone who might be worth keeping around for a while.

And that's how my last post about diet-craziness was supposed to segue into a discussion of the current Gentleman Caller. Because I told him about the crazy diet I'm starting in January, and that I'll probably be even more restricted as to what I can eat, for a while, and his response was: "I guess I'd better get used to eating broth, then. That, and hiding hamburgers in my pockets."

Sounds like a pretty good attitude to take, if you ask me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The End is Near

The end of the semester, at any rate.

I have a mid-thesis presentation on December 3 - where I and my cohorts will present our legal-according-to-the-UN-but-maybe-the-USA-won't-like-it thesis projects. Mine is a quasi-legal casino/resort on a floating platform in the Pacific.

Now, I know you're all thinking, "But this is academic work! It should be serious! You should be coming up with ways to save whales or kittens or petroleum or something!"

At first, I had the same mindset. And then I realized that I would probably never have the opportunity to design a quasi-legal casino/resort straight out of a bad Kevin Costner flick again. (Disclaimer: I actually enjoyed the terribleness that was Waterworld, and it's part of the reason I wanted to do a crazy floating project)

After that, I just have a take-home exam, and then I'm finished for the semester. I will have a nice long break before I have to officially put my nose to the grindstone, once more.

What will I do during my winter break?

I will enjoy eating "normal" food. Not normal as in "it contains gluten and milk products," but normal as in "it's not on a very strict diet I'm starting after January 1st because my immune system is in constant overdrive."

Yup, more food problems.

As of this writing, my body doesn't deal well with
1. Gluten
2. Dairy
3. Eggs
4. Nightshades (aka tomatoes, tomatillos, and other tom---os)

According to one theory, it's because my gut bacteria aren't in their proper ratios, so I can't digest the food properly, so my immune system says, "HEY-O!" and I feel like ick.

I haven't read any other sane-sounding theories to explain it, and my doctors are at a loss as to what is going on. I went to a fracking rheumatologist who essentially said, "I have no idea. Figure it out on your own."

I should have asked for a refund. I did get a nice ceramic mug, though...

So I've been reading all sorts of interesting blogs - namely this one and this one. And it was on the first blog that I first encountered discussions of the GAPS Diet.

GAPS stands for "Gut and Psychology," which is an awful name, but it is what it is.

From what I understand, there's a lot of broth involved, and pickled vegetables, and probiotics, and eventually, your body will get back to near normal.

I think we all know I'll never really be normal normal.

I'm currently stock-piling chicken carcasses in my freezer in preparation for the coming tsunami of broth I'll be making.

And, seriously, how normal can a chicken-carcass-hoarder be?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beauty From Pain

I'm kind of out of luck insofar as my health, goes.

Possibly an understatement, but we'll leave it at that.

When I had cancer as a teenager, I focused on my appearance - or the parts of it I could control - and worked on improving it, mainly through obsessive skincare regimens to prevent my fast-shedding skin cells from clogging my pores.

That and powdering my bald head to keep it from being shiny.

Yes, I'm serious. Looking like the cueball isn't much fun.

I recently realized I've fallen into the same pattern as before, but fortunately without losing my hair.

My sanity, however, is a whole other ballgame.

As a consequence, I've amassed an impressive collection of various dermatological lotions and potions and serums and (something that rhymes with serums. Rhymezone recommends theorems, but I can't figure out a way to work that in).

Also, I'm now best friends with "my" cosmetics lady at Neiman Marcus. I've decided that, from now on, if I feel bad, I just need to go see her, because she always makes me feel better by gushing about how wonderful my [hair, skin, eyelashes] is/are. I don't know her name, but I fully intend to find out, next time I go in. She can't become my new best friend if I don't know her name, right?

So far, I haven't had to spend much money on the lotions and potions, but those free samples - courtesy of the NM Cosmetics Lady - won't last forever, and then...

I've always enjoyed applying creams and lotions to my face. There's something so grown up and ladylike about it. I was always fascinated growing up by watching my mom put on her make-up, and that might be part of it. But there's also, I know, an element of advertising involved. All those commercials (back when I used to watch TV) that depicted beautifully complexioned models gently massaging strangely invisible age-defying creams into their skin got under mine, somehow.

So now, in addition to the doctor-ordered soak in warm water with epsom salts (for the good old piriformis and lower back), I spend about 15 minutes carefully inspecting my pores - which I think are atrocious, but no one else has mentioned them yet, so hey - and refining my eyebrows (which I will do again in the morning, because where did that hair come from???), and buffing my face and throat with a power-tool for my face, and then carefully massaging in 1) the black tea age-defying serum and 2) the black tea age-defying cream OR 1) the face cream hand-mixed by monks in Umbria. I jokingly refer to the last product as "holy s**t face cream", and I will never buy it because it costs $140 for 40G, aka 1 oz.

Hopefully, my obsessiveness will pay off, in the end, and I won't end up looking like - well - this guy:

("This Guy" is, inexplicably, the first image to appear in Google images when you search "complexion")

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Medical Mystery: SOLVED!

The solution to last post's Medical Mystery?

My immune system is really sensitive.


That's it.

That's all we could come up with. She did establish - due to a lack of joint problems and blisters on my skin - that I don't have celiac disease, so that's good.

I talked to the rheumatologist, and she asked what I was doing to try to offset the side-effects of things like eating dairy, etc.

"I'm not eating dairy," I said. "I haven't had any in weeks."

"Okay. And the gluten?"

"I don't eat gluten. And if I accidentally eat something contaminated with gluten, I take Benadryl and enzyme capsules to help break up the gluten proteins so they get flushed out of my system faster."

"Okay..." She tapped her pen against her chin. "What does it say here about nightshades?"


"Nightshades - like tomatoes and bell peppers - I'm cutting them out because some people with autoimmune disorders find they can be irritating or troublesome."

"Oh. Huh. I didn't know that. Is it helping?"

"Yes, I think so. I've only been nightshade-free for about a week."

More stumped tapping of the pen against her chin. "Anything not listed here?"

"Peanuts. I'm allergic to them. I break out in a rash if I eat them."

"How are you dealing with that?"

Pause. Confused look on my face. "Well, I don't eat them."

At this point, I'm wondering how many people out there have significant, noticeable allergies to foods and continue to eat them.

"Anything else?"

"I'm trying to cut eggs out of my diet, but it's kind of difficult. I'll manage, though. I feel better when I don't eat them."

"Oh. Why eggs, too?"

"They're on a list of autoimmune disorder No-Nos I found on the interwebz."

"On the what?"

"Sorry, the internet." She's obviously not a LOLCat fan.

"Huh." More chin tapping. "Okay, so the only things that aren't obviously food related are the Reynaud's Syndrome and the swollen glands?"


"I could always prescribe Viagra for the Reynaud's syndrome if it really starts to bother you."

I pull a grossed-out face. "I'll pass, thanks. Massaging my fingertips under warm water is okay, for now. I'd prefer not to add another pill to my regimen."

"Okay. And the swollen glands... I think that's probably just the reaction to the foods you're eating that are giving you trouble, or seasonal allergies, maybe. See if cutting them out for a longer period of time helps."



So, pretty much, I went to the doctor to have my competence in managing my diet reinforced, and to reinforce the notion that I know more about my autoimmune difficulties than a well-respected rheumatologist.

Score one for Big Paleo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Exciting Episode of "Medical Mysteries"


Recently, my health has been a bit tricksy: my Reynaud's Syndrome has been acting up in the evenings, not just when it gets really cold outside; I have a low-grade headache almost every day, beginning about 2 hours after I wake up; I'm now intolerant to milk; and my the left-hand gland in my neck - the one just below the jawline, you know where - is swollen and tender as a... um... tender gland.

So I went to my internist at the Baylor Healthcare Cartel, today to calmly present her with a laundry list of bothersome symptoms - including inability to comprehend and remember information like architectural theory, severe fatigue coupled with an inability to sleep, etc. - and she sat there for a minute and stared at me. Just stared.

I then informed her that, when I was tested for celiac disease by my neurologist over  year ago, I tested negative. But OF COURSE I would test negative, because - in order for that test to work - the tested person has to be consuming gluten, something I had ceased to do some two months prior to the test. (I almost referred to myself as a test-ee, but that just sounded wrong, particularly when used in the plural).

After the little "IgA test doesn't work if you're not eating gluten" discussion, she decided to send me to a rheumatologist, because she's stumped. Also, it would be incredibly harmful to my health if I were to begin eating gluten, again, in order to take the IgA test, so that's out of the question.

As soon as the doctors' lunch break is over, I will be calling to book an appointment with the rheumatologist she recommended - who is not part of the Baylor Healthcare Cartel. Because they're apparently too busy for new patients, right now, and she wants me to get into the doctor ASAP.

I'll be very happy when this particular episode of Medical Mysteries is at an end.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire: (Guilty) Book Review

When I was working, this summer, my coworkers were all agog over the TV show A Game of Thrones. I felt a bit left out, as well as intrigued. Every so often, while wandering the aisles of Barnes & Noble, and I would see the series and ponder picking up the book to look at its synopsis.

But then, you know, it's about dragons and imaginary worlds and sorcery and stuff. And I'm too cool for fantasy novels. (Apart from YA fantasy novels. And The Lord of the Rings. And Harry Potter.)

Fortunately, according to one reviewer, A Song of Ice and Fire (the epic saga on which the TV show is based) is a fantasy series for people who don't read fantasy series serieses serii books.

Long story short, I've read the six books that have so far been released, and I seriously hope Mr. George R.R. Martin doesn't die before he gets around to writing its final volume(s) because I seriously need to know how this ends. I need closure!

When I started reading the series, I was unaware that it was a) unfinished; b) unfinished. After waiting seemingly eons for JK Rowling to finish the Harry Potter series, and continuing to wait (still) for Margaret Atwood to finish the MadAddam trilogy, I didn't think I could stand another unfinished series.

Heck, I still don't know if I can stand it. Quite frankly, it's killing me. So, if I unexpectedly kick the bucket, you know who to talk to (Mr. G RR Martin).

The series focuses on the race to rule in the land of Westeros, ruled by a "pretender" to the throne. After a series of unfortunate events, civil war breaks out with multiple men claiming the throne, along with one young girl (woman? I don't know. She's married, but she's also, like, 14) who is the sole remaining descendant of the pretender's predecessor.

The book is, in many ways, tawdry. There's lots of gratuitous sex (with dwarves! with mutes! with siblings! with parents!) but after a while, you become kind of immune to the sex scenes.

Mostly because there's one every three pages, or so.

It's guilty-pleasure reading for people who got fed up with the characters in Fifty Shades of Grey and chucked the book across the room within the first five pages (because we needed more books with characters who have no depth and terrible dialogue).

But along with the guilty-as-charged pleasure side of it comes the scratching your head confusion of it.

The characters change. That dwarf you hated at the beginning of the series? Yeah, by book #4 - A Feast for Crows - he's one of your favorite characters, and you're rooting for him to live, to survive and somehow stick it to the rest of his family.

The stuck up daughter of the badass lord who treats her little sister like poop? You realize she's just not very smart, but smart enough to keep her head attached to her neck, and resilient enough to deal with whatever is thrown at her, be it an abusive fiance, or a murder, or her own confusion because she can't quite figure out if Guy 1 is evil, or if he's really a good guy who covers his goodheartedness up with a bad case of the blue meanies.


Now I want to reread the series.

I hope you're happy, blogosphere.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Can we just go ahead and agree that I'm contrite for not having blogged in so long?

Okay. Good.

Now that that's over, let's get down to the reason for my absence: migraines.

Okay, so migraines, layered with work and school, but still: migraines.

They started back at the end of June. Up until that point, I'd had maybe 2 or 3 migraines per month. For most people, that would be a catastrophic amount of migrainage, but for me, it was pretty darn good.

And then... I don't know what happened. I began having multiple migraines per week, first on Tuesdays, then on Tuesdays and Fridays (so I missed work on Tuesdays, but "fortunately", my second migraine was on a day off). And, eventually, pretty much every day whenever my brain felt like it. Except for Thursdays. Usually not Thursdays.

Long story short(ish): I ended up having about 4 migraines per week. Something had to give, what with starting back to school (and missing school) and having to work, and not being able to control the migraines (and nausea. OH MY GOSH the nausea!). So I quit my job.

I had decided that I would be cool, just explain to my boss, give my two weeks' notice. I practiced so I wouldn't cry.

Of course, I cried. But they were nice and didn't make me finish out the two weeks, since it was for a health problem.

The migraine situation is still kind of dicey (I haven't had one since Friday, and it's a Thursday, so there's hope!). I'm seeing a new neurologist in Houston who I like, and he confessed that he had no idea what to tell me, since I seemed to be doing everything properly: no gluten, limited processed foods and refined sugar, minimal caffeine, no HFCS, if I can help it. I'm monitoring my sleep habits, computer time, what I eat each day, what I drink, and any symptoms I have. I take magnesium and a Vitamin B complex and Vitamin D and iodine (because I don't cook with iodized salt). I even take cod liver oil after dinner (lemon flavored to cut the fishiness, naturally).

So, yeah, he had no idea what was causing the migraines. I hypothesized that it might have been increased dairy intake, since my latte and ice cream consumption was off the charts for a while, there. As a result, prior to my first appointment with my new neurologist/best friend, I had already abandoned the consumption of milk, including a painful parting with the ice cream aisle at Whole Foods, and sacrificing my morning mocha latte.

Hopefully, along with my abandonment of dairy will come a return to what I consider to be my "normal size."


See, I gained weight after I stopped working (really, before I stopped working, but after the migraines started and I was less willing to push furniture and constantly pace the sales floor). Because I don't eat gluten, the places I gain my weight have changed.

I used to gain weight "like a boy": in my stomach and love handles.

Post-gluten, however, I tend to gain weight where women are stereotypically supposed to gain it: hips, bum, and - ahem - boobies.

For some unaccountable reason, I still don't gain much weight in my legs.

For my 30th birthday (this coming Sunday!), my parents gave me the funds to purchase a suit for job interviews, come March. I found a suit shape I really liked.

I bought the jacket in-store - where I discovered that I am a size 2 suit jacket at J. Crew.

The pants aren't sold in-store, however, so after a bit of a run-around, I finally got the new pants today.

Because of my lovely womanly derrier, I am a size 6 in the pants. But my thighs are still a size 4.

I know, silly to complain. But this means that I am going to have to have the pants altered to fit properly (not surprising). I would have taken the pants to the tailor, regardless, because pockets on slim-fitting pants are always visible, so I have them removed on pants and skirts that I wear for work. My tailors - a slew of them from Dallas, and now my Houston tailor - are used to the request.

This time, however, there will be the added requirement of taking in the thighs and, possibly, the calves of my new suit pants.

Because, you know...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Proverbial Headless Chicken

The last three days have been insanely busy ones, for me.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I was allowed to cut out of work around 3-ish (never mind that I was actually supposed to have the whole week off), and I've used those afternoons to accomplish a lot of errands and chores prior to starting back to school this coming Monday.

Yesterday, I tackled the grocery store, as one of my BIG BIG BIG plans is to make gobs of freezable food and then, er, freeze it for consumption at a later date.

I now have four heaping helpings of coconut chicken curry and six servings of vegetable beef stew snuggled not-so-cozily in my freezer. Tonight, I tackle the seafoodless jumbalaya (a.k.a. "pork product pottage") for freezing.

Look out, piggies, here I come!

Today, I had my hair cut, dropped off a package at UPS, picked up the 355+ pages of research I've done towards my master's thesis, and which I paid FedEx Office to print for me, and had lunch with my sister.

Lunch was definitely the highlight of my day. Gluten-free pizza and salad at Ruggles Green? Mmmmm...

I also went to the grocery store (again) and then had a manicure/pedicure.

In other news, I'm tired.

But it's not over, yet!

Because, tomorrow, a cleaning service will descend upon my apartment, probably blanch when they see my bookshelves, with all their lovely nooks and crannies to be dusted, and hopefully not increase the charge for cleaning because of the aforementioned bookshelves.

I am keeping my fingers crossed on the last point, which makes typing infinitely more difficult, I might add.

After that, I intend to go to The Galleria to stock up on make-up and to try on the suit my parents are giving me for my 30th birthday.

Yes, 30th birthday.

I requested the suit from my mom, the other night, and she seemed kind of surprised by the request. It's something I've wanted for a long time, though, and I think it will by very useful come March (when I hope to start interviewing for post-graduation jobs).

I'll give you a sneak peek at my interview day outfit:

But black. Because real architects wear nothing but black.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Internet Dating Criteria

Over the past several months, I have come up with a few handy ways to skim through the mountains of prospective beaux that fill my inbox daily.

Okay, so by "mountains" I mean 3-4 guys, and by "inbox" I mean that part of eHarmony's website where you can go to view your "matches" (and which I check about once every 3 weeks).

I call my every-3rd-week marathon man-vetting-session Culling the Herd.

Criteria for Culling (aka what will get you RE-jected):

No Photo
Some people on eHarmony - and other dating sites, I'm sure - don't post photos. The most oft-cited reasons for photo-less-ness are:

1) they don't want people from work recognizing them
2) they don't want to be judged by looks alone.

Okay, I get those, in a way. In another way:

1) we're in the 21st Century, and people Internet date. It's no longer something to be ashamed of doing.
2) What are you hiding?

Seriously, I assume if you don't have a photo, then you're not worth looking at (and we've already established that I'm a little bit superficial when it comes to potential partners, because damn! Look at me! I'm GORGEOUS!)

Photo Contains Cats
I'm allergic to cats. If you have a cat, you're out of the running. I - and my dander-hating skin - will be looking elsewhere for love.
 Okay, so if Steve McQueen showed up at my door holding a cat, I'd just pop some Benadryl, but otherwise...

Photo(s) Contain Motorcycles
 In the interest of full disclosure, I feel it is necessary to let you know, dear reader, that I cannot - and will not ever try to - ride a bike. So a man who spends his free time (and money) rocketing around on a motorcycle is obviously not one I'm likely to get involved with.

Age Too Low
I accidentally went out with a 23-year-old (I thought it said 28, I swear!). It was not a good thing. If you're under 27, your odds are not good. At all.

Age Too High
Seriously, dude? You're 49? 52? Ican'tevencountthathigh? How the hell did you even find my profile?!?! It was that stupid "What If..." thing, wasn't it? The thing where they pair you up with someone outside your "comfort zone" (be it religious, height-wise, or age-wise). I hate the "What If..." thing

Passionate About...
If you're passionate about watching TV... Seriously? TELEVISION?!?!?! No human rights? No gender equality? Not even a Free Tibet tidbit? Seriously, being passionate about the Republican Party is better than being passionate about TV. Or video games. Or NASCAR. And if your only "I'm passionate about..." entry is "Sports: all of them! LOL!"? Aw, hell no! I will not be a football/basketball/baseball/golf/water polo widow. Be passionate about one sport, and I'm A-OK. But if you expect me to go to a pro-sporting game every week? Game off.

Those are the basics. Granted, there are other more esoteric criteria for elimination:

1) Single word responses in the blurbs where you can write up to 500 characters (serial killer)
2) Not writing anything in the "Last Book I Read and Enjoyed" blurb
3) Ticking the box indicating that you "Don't Have Kids at Home", then listing your children as one of the things you're thankful for
4) Saying you're "Spiritual but not religious" and then listing one of the things you're thankful for as "The Lord Jesus Christ Our Savior" - that means you're Christian (or a Jew for Jesus) and therefore religious

And there are other intangibles... like not having your shirt ironed in your photo (slob).

But maybe I'm just too picky. Personally, I prefer to think of myself as selective.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Love My Niece

If you're not already aware, I love my niece. I do.

She's adorable, and intelligent, and bilingual, and can count to ten (even though she skips seven, and sometimes five). And she can give hugs to other kids that are so adorable you can overlook the expression of sheer terror on the other child's face because she hugs SO HARD. She gives "aggressive hugs." But they're aggressive in a loving way.

I am a happy recipient of her hugs. I have breakfast with her almost every Saturday before I go to work at Fabuloso Furniture, and it's the absolute highlight of my day when she sees me and comes running towards me so I can give her a big hug.

She's two years old. She's little.

But she has big germs. Germs as aggressive as her hugs (and not as loving).

Because of some smothery kisses I gave her (and the fact that I ate a bit of food she rejected... oops) I've been miserably sick since Monday. Actually, I started Monday with a mere scratchy throat and a bit of ickiness, but by the end of the day, I was miserably sick.

I went to the grocery store, because I had NO FOOD, and I needed to eat, and so I went, after work, to buy soup and ice cream and gluten-free ginger snaps, which are all required if I was about to get really sick.

It was 7:45 p.m. by the time I left the grocery store. I put my groceries away at home, and decided I'd go to the nearest "minor emergency" clinic to get some antibiotics.

I parked my car and got out, and promptly tripped over the hem of my wide-leg jeans. Down I went - because I didn't already feel like crapola - and I cursed a little bit. I stood up, dusted myself off, and went inside the little chamber where there was a security guard waiting to buzz me in. He looked at me - he'd missed the tripping/falling performance - and asked if I had someone with me.


He squinted. I was stopped up, all nasal sounding when I answered.

Are you here because you're sick?


Is it an emergency?

Well, not technically, but it's pretty uncomfortable.

Ahem. This is an emergency room, not an "urgent care center," he explained. Then he handed me a flier for a nearby urgent care center.

I trudged out to my car. I looked at the flier.

It was then 7:59 p.m.

The urgent care center closed at 8:00.


So I went home, and woke up feeling like I had a head full of boogers because I DID have a head full of boogers, and I went to the urgent care center at 8:30 a.m. in a baseball cap because no I'm not getting dressed up for a doctor's appointment and I hoped that I would be finished in time to call my leasing company to ask them to pleasepleaseplease don't replace my air conditioner because I was sick and needed that air conditioner for the day. Please.

When I saw the doctor, I explained to him that I had acute sinusitis and an ear infection in my right ear and possibly a burgeoning one in the left ear. He looked at me skeptically, despite my correct use of some high-falutin' medical terminology, and performed his examination. A few seconds later, he looked at me very seriously, and explained that I had acute sinusitis and a severe ear infection in my right ear and what looked like the beginnings of one in my left ear.

Thank you, Dr. Obvious.

I received my prescriptions and headed for the pharmacy, where I bought a king-size Almond Joy and a pint of orange juice to drink while I waited for my meds and read Elle Decor.

When I got home, I discovered, to my everlasting joy, that my air conditioner was not in bits and pieces all over my bathroom, but in its entirety out in the breezeway. A brand-spanking-new AC was parked in my dining room.

I asked the maintenance man how long it would take. "At least 4 hours," he replied. I snuffled and told him I was going to my sister's house.

The substitute-nanny was a bit confused when I showed up, but I explained why I was there - no air conditioning at home, I was sick, etc... - and her daughter dutifully translated (sub-nanny is not as English proficient as regular-nanny).

My niece was overjoyed to see me until I announced that I was sick and was going up to the guest room to take a nap.

"Nap?" she asked.

"Yes, I'm going to take a nap."

I lied. I didn't actually nap. I read and surfed the internet on my telephone, but I was sick and just wanted to lie down. I'm a terrible person, I know.

Every so often, I would go downstairs to raid my sister's pantry, and my niece would announce, "No more nap!" joyfully. I would agree, brandish my apple/MumMum/water glass, reiterate that I was sick, and tell her I was going to take another nap.

This obviously confused the poor munchkin.

"More nap?" she'd ask. I could just feel her judging me. "Man, Aunt StrainedConsciousness is really lazy! I only take one nap per day! And I'm two years old!"

I weakly reiterated that I was sick, again (rereiterated?), flapping tissues around as I said it, and fled from her judging two-year-old eyes.

It's hard having an over-achiever for a niece.

I bet she shook her head in disappointment and informed her substitute-nanny - in fluent Spanish while they played canasta - that she didn't need more than a single two-hour nap per day. And then she sat down and explained to Raggedy Ann how she was going to solve all the world's problems, including her Six Point Plan for Syria.

Or something.

Friday, August 10, 2012

1Q84 - Book Review!!!

During my recent bouts of migraine, I've accomplished a lot of reading.

(Side note: I often cannot sleep during a migraine, and a book is the only thing that takes my mind off of it without exacerbating the pain.)

I reread The Forsyte Saga for the millionth time. It's one of my favorite books, ranking right up there with The Count of Monte Cristo.

I finished The Forsyte Saga at around 9:00 pm, one evening, and then had nothing else to read. I didn't feel like rereading The Count of Monte Cristo. Or The Hunger Games. Or any of the other books on my shelves. (Or under the shelves. Or under the chairs.)

And then, I remembered that I had a copy of 1Q84 languishing in a living room chair.

I'd purchased 1Q84 from Amazon a couple of months back. I kept reading wonderful things about it in The Economist and Vogue. So I bought it. But for some reason, I couldn't force myself to read it.

Until, that is, I had nothing I wanted to reread and a migraine that meant I couldn't drive to a bookstore.

I picked it up. I opened it.

I was immediately hooked.

At this point, I would like to offer a heartfelt apology to Mr. Haruki Murakami for letting his book suffer all by itself, unread and unloved, in that chair for two months.

Without going too far into the details, the book details the relationship between Aomame - who is a fitness instructor with a morally ambiguous side job - a cult, and the love of her life - a man named Tengo who she hasn't seen since they were 10 years old.

It's difficult to review the book without giving everything away, but let's just say that everything changes for everyone in the book when Tengo is hired to ghost-rewrite a story called Air Chrysalis, written by a 17 year old girl who appears to have some emotional problems.

From the point when Tengo begins rewriting the story, and from when Aomame decides to get out of a taxi stuck in gridlock to walk her way down an emergency stair on the expressway (she can't be late for a morally ambiguous appointment), the characters cease to exist in 1984, and enter the divergent metaphysical pathway of 1Q84, or - as Tengo refers to it - The Town of Cats.

It's a fascinating story written and translated with beautiful descriptions and a sense of urgency. Although it takes place over the course of a year, there is a sense of compressed time, as if everything must be done - and read - as quickly as possible. I was desperate to know what would happen to Aomame and Tengo, and the book was written in a subconscious Neverending Story type of way: If I didn't keep reading, the world as the characters knew it would cease to exist. I began to truly care for the characters - despite a rocky start with the somewhat frigid Aomame - and wanted them to reach a conclusion, happy or not. I wanted them to have some sense of closure, and the only way to make that happen for them was to keep reading.

If that makes any sense whatsoever. Which is doubtful.

Pretty much, you should read it. Read it now.

It's a matter of urgency.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dagnabbit... Not Again!

In the past five weeks, I've missed 5 days of work due to migraines.

Okay, 4.5 days of work, but that cuts down on 1) my paycheck; 2) my sales potential; 3) the days I feel decent and happy.

I'm frustrated, and I don't know what's triggering the sudden upswing in days-with-migraines. For a while, I was holding steady at 1-2 migraines per month, which was pretty good, for me. And they were (mostly) manageable migraines: I could still run errands, go to work, etc.

Not the most recent bad boys, though. They are knockyouflatonyourass, makeyoutakenauseapreventive type migraines. These suckers don't mess around.

And they hit almost every Tuesday (and then, sometimes, on Friday, too. I don't miss work for those, though, because that's my day off, luckily...)


And as if it's not bad enough that my migraines are so frequent, they're messing with other parts of my physiology (which is different from physiognomy. Thank you, Wikipedia!).

My face has broken out in a very stubborn spot of eczema, due to the migraines. I began eliminating things from my diet to see what was exacerbating its itchiness (since I can't just "quit" migraines).

Caffeine. And milk.

So, "Goodbye, mocha lattes!" I weep, glancing forlornly at my cute ceramic coffee cup with its adorable silicone lid and gripper/insulatorthingy.

"Goodbye, iced tea!"

On the positive end of things, because of the whole "everyone serves caffeinated iced tea" thing (except Cafe Express, who gives me a choice!), I've finally forced my beverage intake to accord with my human rights beliefs.

I no longer have a reason to go to Chik-Fil-A. Ever again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm a Terrible Blogger

No, really. I am.

When I first began this whole "blogging thing," I was rigorous in my daily blogging: I had a plan. I had vision!

I did not, however, have a job, which left ample opportunity for coming up with witticisms for my own little corner of the interwebz.

Now, I have a job - 5 days of the week! - and I'm remembering what it's like to have a set schedule, when there are only two days of the week in which to get everything else done. Then, too, by the time I get home from work, I've been under icky fluorescent lights for 6-8 hours, often staring at a computer screen, and the last thing I want to do is tempt fate/migraine by booting up the old dell and clackity-clacking out another post.

But enough of my making pathetic excuses for myself. It's time to get down to writing.

TMoMD is no more. I finally wrote him a nice little note informing him that I expected to hear from my gentlemen callers more frequently than once every 45 days. I gently reminded him that I had the courtesy to inform him beforehand when I knew I was going to be out of pocket for a couple of weeks, and that I expected the same courtesy from the gentlemen I date.

I then dusted off my hands rather smugly as I realized that I had just dumped a good-looking 6'-0" tall polo player.

So I'm back to the drawing board, so to speak. I recently had a decent date with a man who I'll call Andre. His profile said he's 6'-6". I couldn't decide if that was awesome or terrifying, at the time.

Here's the thing about online dating: men rarely tell the truth about their height. If they're 5'-6", they say they're 5'-8", and if they're 5'-10", they say they're 6'-0".

Generally speaking.

Andre is the exception to the rule. The man claimed to be 6'-6". And yet, as I stood on the curb talking to him (in the parking lot after our first date), and he stood on the ground 6" below me, I realized he was still a good 6 or 7 inches tall than I am. And when we were walking next to each other, I barely came up to his shoulder.

In other words, Andre is probably the only man in THE WORLD who shaves 2-3 inches off his height so he doesn't scare people.

I'm not sure I like the idea of being so ridiculously tiny compared to a gentleman caller.

I'm not the sort of gal who demands that her beau be taller than she is in heels. I dated a guy who was 1 or 2 inches shorter than me for 18 months (to date, my longest relationship). I'm not hung up on height (though if a guy's 5'-6" or under, he doesn't stand a chance). I figure if I end up with a fellow who's shorter than the average bear, it's all Mother Nature's way of trying to even out the human height average.

Whether or not I could become accustomed to dating a gentleman as tall as Andre the Giant (as we will refer to my newest potential beau) remains to be seen. At least, with Andre, it won't be difficult to spot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012



In the past month, I've begun a new job, considered myself the victim of an assumed break-up with TMoMD, and needlepointed like a mad woman on my days off, when I park myself on my long lovely sofa and watch DVD after DVD. Usually, it's a marathon of "Downton Abbey", but I occasionally shake things up by watching "Cold Comfort Farm" or "Auntie Mame."

Today, I took the initiative and requested from my boss the right to clear out the clearance area.

You see, the clearance section - for furniture, accessories, etc... - is part of my purview. Discontinued furniture lines, dent-and-scratch beleaguered pieces, accessories that we're not so fond of anymore: they all find their way up to my floor. Today, we received 20 new sofas, chairs, ottomans, and loveseats from a leather furnishings vendor for clearance.

We did not have room for 20 new pieces, mostly because the stock associates just plop pieces down any old place when they bring them up to the floor.

I requested two stockers for a while, and received them.

Pieces that once were incapable of being seen by customers - that we sales associates didn't even know EXISTED - are now easily seen, arranged in walkable rows by type. Console tables and media centers now coexist happily together in one area, and dining chairs in another. The sofas are still kind of a mess, but we're working on it.

During my tenure at the store - with we will call Fabuloso Furniture - I realized that about half of what was in the clearance section wasn't sellable. A three foot tall amphora that couldn't stand because the base was broken wasn't about to leave with a happy customer. Neither would a clock without its inner-workings, or "mystery mascara" without a box that was several months old.

So, I emailed my boss to see if I could clear out the stuff that isn't selling and isn't about to sell. A lot of it was taking up valuable merchandising real estate.

He gave me permission to "use my discretion" and clear out what needed to go: hideous draperies we can't get rid of, iPhone 3 cases, dusty candles with large chunks gouged out of them. He seemed pretty happy with my initiative. So happy that he gave me a chandelier.

Granted, it needs to be rewired and needs new chandelier shades, but still, it's a chandelier. FOR FREE.

I know you're wondering what I'm going to do with a chandelier. I LIVE IN AN APARTMENT WITH 9' CEILINGS. No space for a chandelier.

I'm giving it to my sister. I sent her a picture of it and told her she could have it, if she wanted it.



There's also a really nice sunburst mirror - originally $650 because it's true gilt, albeit scratched gilt - that I'm going to see if I can make an offer for, along with a wood-framed mirror with cracked glass. If I can get my boss to agree to $50 for the gilt mirror and maybe $15 for the wood one, I'm bringing them home. They're both cool shapes, and I might be able to use them (after replacing the glass and touching up the gilding, which I am capable of doing and looking forward to doing).

In the coming weeks, I will be selling off my drafting table (or giving it away, because the thing is huge, and it's got to go), rearranging my office are and re-hanging pictures as a result, and deciding whether or not to respond to TMoMD's text message, sent today.

Yeah, about that.

I hadn't heard from the guy in a month. At least a month. I'd sent him a couple of text messages - one just a random "How's your week going?" and the other one a request for a do-over because I assumed his lack of communication was due to my lack of cuddling on our last date (long story; not going into it, here).

I was upset. I cried. I finally decided that, if he didn't feel like "manning up" and explaining to me why he didn't want to date me, anymore, then he was not the man for me.

Aaaaaaaaaand then he texted me, today, to apologize for his silence.

He's been really busy with work, and his parents are in the country from India.

He's been so busy, what with work and parental visits, that he couldn't take 30 seconds to send a "Hi. I'm really busy, but I'll try to call you, soon" text message.


Now, I'm trying to decide how to respond.

Part of me says, "Send a text telling him you're going to have to think about this one, because you were pretty upset when he disappeared for a month."

Part of me says, well, I'm not going to repeat what that part of me is saying, because her language is rather salty.

Part of me says, "Wait a month, and then respond."

After all, I'm a busy girl, too, what with rearranging the clearance floor, and all...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Swollen, Aching Feet

Today - Wednesday - is the first day of my three-day midweek "weekend." The first thing I did, this morning?


It was wonderful.

The next thing I did was return three adorable pairs of shoes to Nordstrom. I bought them during their half-yearly sale, was incredibly excited about them, and looked forward to wearing them. I wore one pair my first day at work - they're black and cream snakeskin by Vera Wang Lavender, which I would never have bought if they hadn't been 50% off. The next day, I went to put on a different pair - black patent Franco Sarto flats, also super-discounted.

My feet wouldn't fit.

Bear in mind, I'd purchased the shoes only a couple of weeks earlier after a "hard day" of pre-work shopping. I assumed my feet were plenty swollen for me to try on shoes.

I was wrong.

So, this morning, I returned three pairs - the Franco Sartos, a peachy pair of Born flats, and a pair of grey and black flats by... a brand I forget. The salesman who received them didn't appear particularly pleased.

On the upside, however, the refund I received for the shoes was almost exactly what I proceeded to spend on two pairs of "formal" jeans for work, six pairs of "hidden" shoe-liner-thingies (so my feet/shoes won't stink!), and a belt. So, I feel somewhat better about buying gobs of shoes and then having to return them.

Why didn't I take the opportunity to try on some other shoes, you might ask?

Because of that pedicure, which was still a little tacky. That, and the fact that I HATE looking for shoes, these days. Trying to find comfortable flats for my 1/2-size-difference feet - which are square-toed but with a narrow heel - is almost impossible.


I know. First world problems...

In other news, I sold $7,000 worth of products yesterday (Tuesday, usually a very slow day), with what looks like a commitment to buy about $10,000 more from TWO customers (really expensive but well crafted sleeper sofa for one customer, and a law-office-full of seating for another).

I'm pretty pleased, with myself. Hopefully, my employers will be, too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Taking Care of Business (2012)

Today was my first day of work. For the rest of the summer (this week excepted) I will work 4 days - Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

In a way, I'm glad, because it means I'll have 3 days off in the middle of the week to do "stuff." At the head of the "stuff" list is resting my poor aching feet. Concrete floors are not much fun for employees...

In another, much BIGGER way, I'm incredibly sad, because it means I'll only be able to have brunch with my niece if we do more of a breakfast thing (at 7:30 or 8) on the weekends. Except for Sundays, when I don't have to be at work until noon. For anyone out there who knows me, you will know just how much I adore my niece, and how awful it will be for me not to see her every Saturday.

I'm trying not to cry, thinking about it.

I like my coworkers, so far. There's DeeDee (as I'll call her) who was sort of the "head honcho" on my floor, today (the store is 4 stories, plus a basement for unknown purposes). She was incredibly helpful and upbeat, and answered some questions I had. Then, there's a fellow I'll call Yao, because he's big and Asian (no stereotyping here) and who was funny, but doesn't seem like a traditional furniture salesman. He's a go-getter, though.

Tomorrow, I will meet another coworker who has been compared to Lisbeth Salander in her ability to get s*!t done. If it needs to happen, she makes it happen. They refer to her as The Closer.

I'm kind of scared of her. A little bit.

At any rate, I'm working three days, this week, and then taking a quick vacation before returning to finish out the summer working 30 hours per week, then cutting back the number of hours during the school year. I'd originally been under the impression that I would only be able to work 20 hours per week, this summer.

Let the banking begin.

And something else: we get employee discounts from day one. BIG ONES. The biggest discounts are on the clothes sold in the boutique area of the store.

At least I'll look cute for work, right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Super Uber Busy

I accepted the position with the retail interior decor store, yesterday evening. I was still sort of struggling with what to do when the manager who had interviewed me (the first time) called to see if I would accept their offer. I said I would.

"You sound flustered," she remarked.

I laughed. I probably did sound flustered, and I was sweating like a - er - nevermind. Ladies don't sweat. I was "glistening."

"I'm making risotto for the first time!" I replied. It was true. Also, I was sort of flustered because I hadn't made up my mind 100% about the job situation before she called.

So, I now have a job. I start this coming Monday. Tomorrow, I will go to the store to pick up my employee manual and the paperwork they require.

I emailed the hiring manager a couple of questions, after I received her email. I had some very very SERIOUS issues I needed to discuss.

Like shoes.

Are open-toed shoes acceptable?

Well, yes, but only if they're peep-toes or if they're wedge sandals, but not if they're flat sandals that are very bare.

In other words, not the sandals I currently own (like these ^).

She felt the need to tell me that my toenails had to be nicely pedicured if I wore open-toed shoes. Oh, darn. I have to get pedicures to keep my feet pretty...

I went into my closet and started going through my clothes to see what is and is not acceptable for "fashionable business casual dress." My closet has become considerably more casual since I entered grad school. Hooded sweatshirts are now de riguer in my wardrobe, alas.

I then received an email from Neiman Marcus Last Call informing me that their whole store was 40% off, through tomorrow.

Guess where I went?

The only Last Call within driving distance (or, rather, relatively reachable driving distance) is in Katy, TX. Katy is about 30 miles away from where I live. Katy is also a depressing town. I think.

It did have one redeeming quality, however: a snow-cone stand. I have not had a snow-cone since I moved from Arlington, TX to Dallas, TX (where you cannot easily find snow-cones, if at all). Needless to say, I was elated. I bought a raspberry one and proceeded to sit in the parking lot of a gas station eating it. I told the snow-cone people that their snow-cone stand made my day. Also, the snow-cone stand was bright fuschia with big signs saying "SNOW QUEEN." I can give you directions, if you like.

So I bought a few things at Last Call, and then I was driving back to Houston - the long way - and went by the Galleria area and saw that Anthropologie was having a sale, so I went to that, too. And I bought some stuff there.

Did I mention I also bought some stuff from Banana Republic a few days ago? Um, yeah, I did.

Fortunately, I've sort of been squirreling away a little bit of money to help out with summer clothes expenditures. Everything I've bought - okay, everything but one item - can be worn to work.

So now, I just have to tackle the shoe dilemma. At present, I have one pair of black flats in decent condition, but they have stretched, so I've got to get little pad thingies to put in the heels. Otherwise, they just flop around off my feet. But I'd like to get one or two other pairs of shoes to wear to work.

We'll have to see. Maybe I'll head to Nordstrom, tomorrow, to see what I can find. Or maybe, I'll wait and go shopping in Dallas, while I'm up there, this weekend. Regardless, I need shoes. And I need them before Tuesday!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Cup Runneth Overeth

I have two job offers, as of right now.

One job is with the retail fabric/decor store with which I interviewed twice. Apparently, my second interview was a success. They offered me $X/hour to come work for them, plus the possibility of getting a year-end bonus based on my sales.

Another job was offered to me as I sat during the course of my 90 minute interview this morning (I didn't actually speak much). It's a position as a part-time retail clerk/sales gal at a custom window covering store. It's offering me $(X - 3) less per hour than the retail fabric store. BUT I get commission for every appointment I book, and for every sale I make.

I then decided to go ahead and interview with a third company, this afternoon. It's doing architectural drawings for a sort of "drawing shop." They do drawings for other firms, essentially. (Sometimes architects have other people do their construction drawings.)

So, I hopped into my trusty Honda Civic and headed to his office building, which is... creepy. He offices on one of those "park below, work above" two-story jobbies, and... At first, I drove by it, convinced that that could NOT be the place where he officed. Eventually, I checked my map and discovered to my horror that it IS his office building. So I parked in the poorly lit garage and went into the downstairs lobby (there's no elevator). The flooring was old and stained, the grippy-strips at the edge of the risers were wearing off, and half of the skylights were covered over with debris.

I wandered up the steps - they're a 1960s fantasia of modernist purity... but with more dirt - and found his office at the top of the stairs. All 180 sf of his office.

Seriously, my cubicle working with Oldsmobile was bigger than this guy's entire office.

I sat down, and he proceeded to tell me all about what he does. He brought out bunches of drawings, and noted that - since I'd worked on residential projects - my drawings sets were probably smaller than what he was used to.


I looked at one of the residential sets he's producing, and calmly informed him that his whole set was about the size of the interior elevations sheets I produced. That surprised him. I smiled and told him that the houses I'd worked on had been on the order of $300+ per square foot, construction cost-wise, so there was extensive detailing. He agreed that one of the CAD drawings I'd sent him (an example of previous work) did seem to have a lot of details for just a house.

We sat and chatted a bit about my experience, and then we got down to brass tacks: money, honey.

The guy offered me $(X - 5) dollars: much less than the retail fabric company. He said he could bump it up to $(X-4)/hour if I proved to be a hard worker.

I was tempted to get up and walk out, right then. I haven't worked for that little money since I was 21 and working for the summer at a huge firm, when I had zero experience. I'm not about to settle for that now.

Awkwardly enough, we were also having the job interview in his one-room office while his other employee (and some random girl from down the hall who was using his internet?) listened in. I think he was surprised when, after he asked if everything sounded good, I informed him that the one thing that didn't sound good was the hourly pay.

Note to my readers: I have never spoken up and demanded more money in my life. Ever.

He asked me for a number I could live with, and I told him what my base would be. It is $(X-2)/hour.

He then went into a spiel about how he didn't know anything about my work habits, etc. and he was reluctant to pay me higher based on that.

I could get him recommendations, I replied. Multiple recommendations.

So now, we've each retreated to our little corners and are considering things (his corner is his office... and it's literally a corner. My corner is my apartment). He asked me if I'd be content with working for his lower offer for a couple of weeks, and then he'd raise my pay.

I initially said I would, but here's the problem: if I do that, I risk him deciding in two weeks that he won't pay me the higher wage, and by then, I'd have refused the other two jobs (I only have a couple of days to decide this). He could decide that I'm not producing enough work, or come back and tell me that he's just run the numbers and he simply can't afford to increase my pay.

And then, I'm stuck with him.

So, right now, I'm tempted to just accept the job for $X and make a lot more money working part time than I would be working for the architectural drawing guy. Plus, I'd be in a more vibrant atmosphere, doing something I love: playing with fabric samples.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview With ... Everyone

Seeing as neither of the summer internships for which I applied worked out (one said I had too much experience, and that they were really looking for someone they could help "get off the ground" and who had no professional experience; the other has ignored my calls to find out WTH they didn't hire me...jerks), I started branching out. Well, not really. In fact, I'm going back to my roots, so to speak.

My first job, after I graduated from high school, was working for a retail upholstery/interiors fabric company in Plano, TX. We did custom window treatments, bedding, and furniture, in addition to just selling fabric by the yard. It was fun and challenging (especially when you had to tell a customer that, no, you didn't think those two fabrics went together at all).

So I decided, once my internships fizzled into the ether, that I would see if I could get work with a retail company doing something fabric-related.

I have had a life-long love affair with fabric. I used to have bolts of it... okay, actually I still have bolts of it in my closet at my parents' house.

I interviewed Wednesday morning at a prominent retail upholstery/interiors store here in Houston. The interviewer flat-out told me that she was going to have a tough time making a decision, because there were so many great applicants. She told me she'd call me Thursday if they had a place for me.

She didn't call Thursday.

I was sad.

Then, she called this morning.

Happiness ensued.

But...I have to interview again with another manager.

Okay, that's fine, because it means there's still a potential job for me, and it would pay a decent hourly rate. Granted, it's nowhere near what I made hourly before I came back to grad school, but this is retail, not architecture. It's also part-time (most likely 2 days per week).

When I thought that I had been rejected, Thursday evening, I was pretty glum. Okay, I'm glum, right now, for multiple reasons, but I'm not going to get into all of them, right now. I ate some beef fajitas and a chocolate-cinnamon milkshake, and felt better.

Amazing how that works.

After my little pity party, I decided to take the economic bull by the horns and skim Craigslist, to see if there were any ads posted for work in my fields.

There were.

I applied, at around midnight Thursday night, for three different positions.

Today, I received calls and/or emails from two of those. One of them is a company, very close to my apartment, that specializes in custom window treatments of all kinds and needs someone in the shop 2-3 days per week. The hours would be flexible, I would only have to work 1-2 Saturdays per month, and they're willing to work with me around my schedule come Fall Semester.


The other one is an interior designer who needs someone 2-3 days per week to do construction drawings and interior detailing. Her posting offered a pretty low hourly wage, but it was also on the assumption that the person replying would have no experience whatsoever. She stated that, as productivity increased, so would pay (seeing as I'm already pretty experienced, I'm assuming/hoping I'd get to start at a higher hourly wage). There's also the potential for a full-time gig with her company (which is growing, natch) after graduation, along with potential relationship development with clients and consultants that could also result in post-graduation employment. She's willing to work with me around my schedule come Fall Semester.


So, in addition to a round two interview Saturday morning, I have an interview set up for Monday morning, and another one to take place mid-week, next week.

Feast or famine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Apartment Locating


I haven't been having the greatest of luck with my apartment search.

Or, at least, I hadn't been having much luck. Until I called an apartment locator.

It was an accident. I thought the guy would completely blow me off, due to my small budget and my requirements (W/D and a bathtub: neither is negotiable).

The man has come through like a champ. A CHAMP.

I awoke, this morning, at 4:30 a.m. I couldn't get back to sleep. By 6, I'd decided to just chuck the idea of staying in bed, and I got up and made myself some breakfast. I moseyed over to my computer to check my email, and - voila! - there was an email from the fellow. I checked it, saw that he'd referred me to a bunch of properties I'd already looked at and called, and felt dejected.

I called my dad, discussed a potential employment situation with him, and we started chatting about the apartment hunt. I told him I might not be able to find an apartment in Houston - in a safe area - within my budget.

After the phone call, I found another email from the apartment locator, listing apartments and condos for rent by private owners, as opposed to the 300 unit mega-complexes I've otherwise found in H-Town.

I like all but one of them. They all have a washer and dryer - either the connections, or the appliance is provided - and they're all within my budget.

My previous experience with apartment locators was hit-or-miss. The one I tried to use when I moved to Houston kept referring me to apartments that were $300-$400 above my price range, or to ones east of downtown (not a safe area for a single gal to inhabit). The one before that successfully found me an income-dependent rental that met my budget and location requirements (after about three weeks).

But this NEW apartment locator... he's doing a fantastic job, right off the bat.


Hopefully, I'll be able to get into one of the units he's advertising. Keeping the fingers crossed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I've Been Searching


And if you know anything about my musical tastes, you will immediately assume that I am referencing some of that terrible 70s/80s pop rock that I love so much. In particular, you will recognize the title of this post as a song by Chicago.


I am still searching for apartments. I'm utilizing the joys of the interwebz to look all over Houston. Or, at least, all over Houston but not there and ohforGod'ssakenonotthere. I took myself on a driving tour to see the various apartment complexes I'd found via the interwebz, this afternoon, and quickly ruled out... all but 6.


I have some requirements, you see. Nothing over $XYZQ per month (this has risen twice, thus far, in $50 increments. My savings will just have to be put on hold for a while.) Washer/dryer provided, or connections provided, and I'll just steal back my W/D from a friend in Dallas who is currently using them.

That doesn't sound so terrible, does it? And yet, if I want to stay in the Inner Loop of Houston (inside I-610, that is) and not live in an apartment where razor-wire is considered de rigeur, then I'm SOL. It's the washer/dryer requirement that does it, every time. And the fact that I consider $1300 for a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 600 sf apartment ridiculous.

Today, I accidentally enlisted the help of an apartment locator. I emailed about a listing on Craigslist, asking if I could tour the apartment, and would they be willing to hold it until 7/7/2012, or thereabouts.

Apparently, apartment locators don't actually have the apartments they advertise available. They lie. And he wanted to know if the w/d was an absolute must.

Um, yeah. It is. I can't waste the few hours I have outside of class/sleeping/migraine attacks in a laundromat or a laundry room in the basement of my building. I have classwork to do.

There's a condo for rent in Midtown that I might go see, tomorrow. Hopefully. It might work out, and it has a washer and dryer. (My sister is probably cringing as she reads "Midtown", which is sortofkindof marginal. But I don't have a whole lot of choices, and it's better than the Third Ward).

In other news, I'm also still looking for someone who can oust The Man of My Dreams from his #1 Contender ranking. Last night's combatant sure as hell didn't manage it. (I say combatant because Love is a Battlefield.)

What made The Non-Contender fail?

Do you have a while?

I should have known things wouldn't go well when he suggested we meet for dinner at 6:30. That's a no-no. Most of the time, I eat dinner early, but that's because I'm by myself and there's no one to criticize if I eat a fourth meal sometime around 10:00 when I take my B12 complex before bed. But if there's a man involved, then I tend to eat at 7:30 or 8:00, and that's pretty standard.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I didn't recognize the guy. He's acquired glasses and - er - girth. He didn't lie about his height, though, so there's that. He said 5'7" and he meant it.

When we were seated at the Indian restaurant, I noted that the painting above our booth was - er - decidedly erotic. Specifically, it was a male god fondling his lady friend. I wouldn't have thought it was odd, given my knowledge of Hindu scripture, but it became uncomfortable when he commented on it in a rather sophomoric manner.

And then... I like manly men. I have a (seemingly strange) requirement that the gentlemen I date have to be able to physically pick me up. Given my medical history (which I will not recount here, because I'm sure you don't have THAT much time) it's a logical requirement. A part of the "manly men" thing comes the ability to drive a truck and/or shoot a gun (I can't help that Texas is in my blood, okay?).

Also, not walking with tiptoe sashay and no speaking in a lisping monotone.

Although The Non-Contender drove a (small) truck and hunts, he failed on the last two counts.

And he kind of resembles Chip & Dale (the cartoons, not the "exotic dancers").

So. TMoMD still reigns supreme. And that's fine with me, for now.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a ridiculously early dinner to eat. By myself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

School's Out For Summer

My last class of the semester took place, today. It wasn't much of a class: sitting around my professor's dining table, drinking iced tea while my classmates drank wine, and trying to figure out how to configure our writing pieces for publication. I'm in charge of setting up a template for the publication, so... I've been working in Word and InDesign ever since I got home. I think I've finally figured out how to configure the pages, but... We'll see.

I am still seeing TMoMD, but I also have another potential date lined up for some time next week. We'll see if Mr. Geologist can knock TMoMD out of his coveted spot. (I'm being egotistical, here, and assuming he covets his position as Gentleman Caller).

So, I've been busy. Fortunately, the semester's over, and now I can focus on more important things, like finding a summer job and moving.

Yup. I'm moving. Because my apartment complex has decided to raise my rent by $250. PER MONTH.


Fortunately, I spoke to a lovely young woman at an apartment complex near here, and I can rent an apartment from them for $100 less per month than I'm paying now beginning July 1. Seeing as I have to be out of my current apartment by July 14, I think that works out well. And it's slightly bigger than my current apartment. And it's pretty much the same, interior-wise, as my current apartment. I go see the apartment Friday morning, so I'm hoping that I can get in, see it, and - voila! - fall in love and sign a lease. Then, I can give my current landlords the old "heave-ho" and start dreaming up how to arrange the furniture in my new pad.

I'm already giddy, just thinking about it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I went back to the AIA message board, today - Cover Letter typed out, resume updated, etc... - to apply to the job doing high-end custom houses. It is no longer posted on the message board, and genius that I am, I did not write down the info when I saw it.

Insert curse words of choice here --> *&$_@)#!^

And, to put the icing on the cake, my apartment complex left me a cheery note informing me that they're raising my rent by $160-250... per month (depending on if I jump on this great deal by May 11).

$150/month X 12 months/year = too much money for me to ante up for an apartment.

So I spent some time on the Houston Craigslist, looking for advertised architecture jobs (Grand Total: 0). And then I looked at Craigslist for apartment prices (if I don't want a washer/dryer, I can get a decent one in a decent area for $800/month).

And then one thing led to another and I was researching portable washing machines, all of which are apparently either completely worthless or $900.

Tomorrow, I drive around Houston and look at design stores, hoping to find some place to work that doesn't have gobs of candles in it (good luck, there). And I continue to hunt for architectural summer internships that don't require me to buy a AutoCAD (because I refuse to illegally download one).

Blargh. Any ideas?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Le Studio Est Fait!

I have no idea if that is the correct French for "Studio is finished/done", but Babelfish says it is. And everything on the internets is true, right?

It's an enormous relief that my days in studio are kaput, for the time being. In fact, they sort of ended last week, on the Monday, to be exact, at 5 pm. My jury - where we have guest critics show up and rip our projects to shreds - wasn't too helpful, seeing as it turned into little more than an intellectual pissing match between two of the jurors.

C'est la vie.

So now, I'm trying to decide what to do with my summer. I applied for an internship with a sizable firm here in Houston, but I think that fell through, seeing as I have yet to hear from them in any way, shape, or form. Hmph. So I thought, for a bit, that maybe I'd just take classes, but the old parents could use a bit of a financial break from helping their poor almost-30-years-old daughter pay her way through grad school.

I thought about applying to work at one of the cool design shops here in Houston, but on further reflection - and following an allergic reaction to the scented candles that seem to be everywhere these days - I decided that might not be the best option.

I perused the listings on the AIA job-posting board, highly doubtful that a firm would post a job for a summer intern. And yet, there was one! Working on high-end custom homes! And I'm a shoo-in! And they want someone for part-time work 20-30 hours/week), not full-time work, so I could conceivably get a couple of classes out of the way, this summer, too.

I think I have found the solution to my problems. Now, I just have to apply for that position. Here goes nothing!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fish or Cut Bait

So, date #3 is always the crucial one, in my book... if a fella can make it that far (Hint: most don't). A friend used to refer to the guys I was dating - if they made it past date #3 - as "a fourth date man" (as in, "you're looking for your 'fourth date man').

She had a point. And, as one of my friends once pointed out, you can usually tell if you want to continue to see someone by the 3rd date. Before that, it could all just be up to nerves, or, um, nerves, if you're not compatible. By Date Numero Tres, you should be able to figure out if they're worth any more of your time.

I think I've found a Fourth Date Man.

And, yes, he's The Man of My Dreams.

For example: we went to a NICE restaurant, this evening, (because he wanted a good steak, and to initiate me into the world of raw oysters) and had a good time. I didn't feel particularly nervous (partly because I looked amazing, to the point where two fellows in the bar tried to stop me, en route to my table, at which point the hostess informed them that I was "spoken for"), and partly because I just feel calm with TMoMD.

And then, while we were discussing our similar views of politics, he mentioned that Condoleeza Rice is coming to give a lecture in Houston. Regardless of my political beliefs, I think she's an amazing person, and so when he hinted that we should go hear her talk, I just about had a nerdsplosion.

See, on eHarmony, there's a list of potential dates you could have that lists activities, and one of them is "attend a lecture on a topic we both find interesting." Most of the men on eHarm pick "go to a sporting event" or "go see a musical" (which leaves me wondering just how many semi-closeted straight male musical-lovers are out there).

I dislike the vast majority of musicals (The Sound of Music and Funny Face are given a free ride, as are any of the Disney animated movies from my childhood), and sporting events... meh. They're not as much fun now that beer and hotdogs are verboten. I always pick "attend a lecture on a topic we both find interesting" and I damn well mean it, too. I would LOVE to go see David Sedaris read aloud from one of his books, or see Condoleeza Rice lecture on what it's like to be Secretary of State.

And TMoMD apparently enjoys the same things, too. Either that or he's just trying to impress me because I read The Economist (which is possible, but not probable, seeing as he reads the same magazine and can discuss the articles with me. Oh, happy day!).

So now that my wine-addled brain has finished nerdsploding all over the webpage, I'm going to do my nightly piriformis-relaxing exercises and go to sleep.

Sigh. After I decide what classes to take next semester...