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The Last of the Mondays

Today is my last Monday.

Hopefully it’s not my absolute last monday ever, but maybe I’ll be lucky enough for it to be my last Monday ever.

You know, my last somebody’s got a case of the Mondays, Monday.

It’s my last Monday Starbucks corrugated coffee sleeve.

It’s my last Monday feeling sorry for this plant.

And, hope-of-all-hopes, it’s the last Monday that will ever, ever inspire something like this.

I will, however, miss Mondays with her.

And them.

And him.

And them.

And many, many, many more.

But I’m pretty sure I won’t miss this.

And if I ever have to use one of these again, it will be too soon.

So here’s to Monday – that poor, undervalued and often misunderstood day of the week that for me, until now, was frequently viewed with apprehension and disdain.

But no more.

Today, Monday, we have reached a turning point in our relationship.  Today it’s just you, me and a little thing I like to call hope.

And tonight, my new friend, we will celebrate.

You May Be Right…I May Be Crazy

Okay, this post is not “By Katie,” as it automatically notes above.  Anything in this post rudely interjected by me (Katie) will appear in this lovely green italic font.  I can do that because it’s my blog.  Our special guest poster for today is my dear friend Stacy.

Okay, I’ve actually only known her a few months, but since she was hand-picked by Erin and me to replace Erin here in Gray Cubicle Land when she moved off to Frederick, MD, we knew we’d all get along.

And we do.  Swimmingly.  It’s people like Stacy who make it a little harder for me to leave this place.  Lucky for me, she’s decided to relieve some of that burden.  In light of this whole Costa Rica thing, people frequently ask, “How can you leave a great job and go work for nothing??”  To that I say, “Define ‘nothing.'”  As yet another twenty-something struggling with a crisis-of-career faith, I think Stacy can provide some much-needed inspiration – and perhaps even clarification – about what makes “nothing” so damn great.

So here she is:

If I were superstitious, I’d say this tripod of cubicles is cursed.

My predecessor and current desk mate, known to you (respectively) as Erin and Katie, just quit their jobs to work on a chili pepper farm in Costa Rica .  Who does that?  

The third leg of the tripod, Ms. Middle Chair, has been empty for months.  I suspect its former occupant became some sort of Russian spy, Congolese chimpanzee charmer, or a hapless, ham-fisted victim who plunged to her death while trying to snap a perfect shot. 

Whatever the cause, after just four months of staring at Erin’s derelict potted plant…

…and watching Katie’s ever-growing stack of ne’er-to-be-recycled Starbucks sleeves…

…I’ve got the “itch.”  

“Isn’t there a cream for that,” you ask? 

Not for this itch.  The only cure is ACTION! 

Am I accompanying these two brave ladies on their Costa Rican adventure?  No…but I am doing something that might raise a few eyebrows:  I’m going back to school…to become a park ranger.

I know that might sound anticlimactic, but as Katie often reminds me, “The heart wants what it wants.”

(Thanks for that picture, Stac.  Really.)

I know that, in a hopeless economy, I should be content with my first bachelor’s degree and cling desperately to gainful employment.  I know that it makes no sense to go back to school to enter a field that pays less than what I’m making now. 

But I keep remembering what this Yellowstone park ranger said during a conversation with my man:

My Man:  “This must be an awesome gig, right?”

Park Ranger:  “I love it.  Every day is an adventure.”

My Man:  “But you won’t get rich doing it, huh?”

Park Ranger:  “No…” (contemplative pause) “But I’m rich in other ways.”

Hell yeah, she gets to wear a really cool hat!

Rich in other ways?  Wow.

I once thought I was rich, pre-this job, when I worked in insurance.  Insurance was great, except for the whole “being at work” part.  Hmm…How can I put this?

I read, grasped, and regurgitated insurance forms – you know, those nasty things most people immediately shred or file away in some dusty bin or bake into a fruit cake – for FIVE YEARS.     

I lived for Fridays.  I dreaded Mondays.  I stopped laughing.  I needed a stiff drink every day after work.  I started talking in my sleep.  I forgot who I was and what I wanted.  

When I finally reached a breaking point, I called my mom.  “If you stay in insurance, you’ll just be a rich alcoholic,” she said. 

So I took a 50% pay cut and took the environmental writing gig here, next to Erin’s dead plant, empty Ms. Middle Chair, and Katie’s corrugated cardboard coffee sleeves.

It’s been a great run.  I like my job, but it feels like a segue, like something’s pulling me in another direction.  I’ve spent too long trapped in cubicles, and now I want to play in the woods.

Is it wrong for our dreams to evolve?  Is it worse to listen, or to ignore?  Am I crazy?  Are we crazy?

Time might tell.  All I know is that, in about a month, these three cubicles will all be empty, and Katie, Erin, and I will be unemployed but pursuing richness in other ways. 

I’ll leave you with my mantra, from The Avett Brothers’ Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise:

“Decide what to be, and go be it.”

My Therapist Makes Me Drink

One of the best things about being military is moving new places and meeting new people.

One of the hardest things about being military is saying goodbye to people you’ve begun to consider not just friends, but family.

Countless people have entered and left my life over time, but never so much as in the past 7 years.

I’ve started looking at the different places I’ve lived as different lives – each unique in its local climate, cuisine, culture.  But it’s always the people – not just the locals, but those military people who weave in and out, each affecting me in different ways, who impact me the most.  All of the experiences they share, so many faces they wear, countless backgrounds that inevitably bleed into my own.  They change me.

We’ve been unusually stagnant for the past few years, staying in this one place while our friends from this place and lives past flit from state to state, country to country.

The most recent people to leave our lives are Mike and Sarah.  During their all-too-brief stay in our neighborhood, this young couple somehow managed to become the glue in our little group of neighbors.

Mike, aka. “Manchild,” always brought the party.

His wife Sarah always brought the wine.

As I sat with them in their kitchen one night shortly before they moved, I noticed the synchronization they’ve achieved in their relationship.

(You’re nothing at Mike and Sarah’s place if not relaxed.)

Sarah cooks, Mike watches.

Mike comments, Sarah gets annoyed.

Just kidding.  They’re pretty laid-back.

And I think that’s what makes them work so well.

Sarah gave me this as a going-away gift (even though she was the one going away).  It’s just the kind of gal she is:

Can’t argue with that.

Enjoy the friends in your life while you have them.

You’re missed already!

I Heart Infomercials (Pt. 1)

So far, you guys have been really good sports to put up with my endlessly trivial ramblings about refrigerator lint and sponges and whatnot.  

But, let’s be honest.  There’s probably only a finite number of those posts you’ll tolerate before you start assembling into a mob hellbent on delivering swift Indian burn- and swirlie-style justice. 

Or just, uh, stop reading entirely. 

Wait, scratch that.  That’s not an option.

Fortunately, with the recent return of my marital manfriend Chuckles, I’m feeling rather magnanimous and altruistic and big-wordy today.  So, in a rare act of mercy, I will forego the inane anecdotes I usually post about and actually dispense some semi-useful information.  

If we were in a late 90’s house party movie, this is where the music would screech to a halt.

I know you’re all like “Say wha’?” right now.

But I’m here to tell you: “Fo’ shizzle.”

So, here goes.  I’ve already confessed that I’m a shameless infomercial addict who’s spent obscene amounts of money buying stuff because some toothy maniac on TV was shrieking at me to, right? 

Well, I figure I might as well exploit my utter lack of self-restraint by imparting my wisdom unto the masses on which products are actually worth buying and which ones are, in fact, the useless crap that they appear to be to just about everyone but me.  

On a side note, I like to think I’m a pretty smart cookie in real life.  I don’t let myself get taken by Nigerian princes or real estate scams selling beachfront property in Iowa.  So I don’t know why I’m so darn gullible when it comes to infomercial pitches. 

Maybe it’s the warm, comforting glow of the television that beckons to my lonely, sleep-deprived heart in the wee hours of the morn.

Maybe it’s watching some schmuck-actor’s mind-blown elation at his long-awaited deliverance from the sheer agonizing torment that had been his life before this product.

Thank GOD someone finally simplified THAT convoluted process!

Or maybe some small, hopeful part of me really wants to believe that at least some aspect of life could be blessedly simplified in just three easy payments of $19.95.

No matter the reason — my loss is your gain today, friends! 

So here’s how it’s going to work:  I’ve got a lot of products to review since I’ve been at this whole ‘infomercial bidness’ for a while now, so I’ll be breaking this down into semi-manageable blog-chunks over the next couple days.  

But since I’ve already reached a massive word count just to preface this little project, we’re only going to have space to review a couple today.  Oops.

So, without further ado…

Shake-It Flashlight (, $8.95 for 2)  

The concept behind this battery-less, bulb-less flashlight is to draw upon your own energy reserves to generate, through vigorous shaking, a reliable, maintenance-free, limitless light source. 

Sounds nice, right? 

It’s not.

After shaking this sucker for the amount of time necessary to maintain a feeble beam of pale yellow light for any extended period, you will no longer require a flashlight, as you have developed a massive, hulking bicep and are now able to punch through car doors, concrete walls or any other pesky obstacle impeding your access to more convenient nearby light sources. 

This isn’t the Shake-It.  I just wanted to use this photo.  Huh-huh.

Verdict:  There might be other shake-able flashlights that work out there, but this ain’t it.  So unless you find a better brand or you’re prepared to start sewing size XXL sleeves onto all your S/M shirts, just take my advice and stock up on batteries.

Up next…

George Foreman’s Lean, Mean, Fat-Grilling Machine (, $14.99)

Thanks to George Foreman, I managed to narrowly avoid malnutrition despite a steady, four-year diet of Bojangles BoBerry Biscuits, late-night gas station hot-dogs and Busch Light back in college — look for my new diet book, available January 2011! 

Occasionally, when my eyes and skin would take on a sickly yellow pallor and it’d smell like a deep-fryer when I sweat, I’d break this puppy out, slap a few protein-rich chicken breasts on it and be nursed back to health in no time. 

Of course, nowadays I look like Gollum from Lord of the Rings if I happen to accidentally skip my 20-vitamin routine one morning, but I digress…  

Verdict: Consider this a great — nay, life-saving — graduation gift for any college-bound kid.

Ok, so that’s all for now!  I’ll be sure to cook up plenty more tasty product reviews for your consumer appetite (can you tell it’s almost lunchtime?). 

But, in the meantime, feel free to chime in below with your own infomercial anecdotes so I don’t feel like such a total loser. 


Because Words Are Lazy, Useless Slackers.

After spending the last two weeks of my life negotiating, bargaining, pleading, and possibly even making thinly-veiled threats against a coworkers’ family in a vain effort to hash out this one teeny-tiny, cosmically insignificant newsletter article on health care program management (yes, the same one I mentioned way back  here), I have come to the conclusion that words are primitive, ineffectual communication tools.  

Much like the homeless guy in Baker Park who mutters and makes borderline lewd gestures at the birds, you know language is trying to accomplish something, you just can’t quite tell what.  (True story, by the way.  Frederick homeless people, you so crazy.)

As such, I will no longer be wasting my time with it.  I am so over words. 

From now on, friends, my main mode of communication will be through bar graphs and pie charts — and the occasional Venn Diagram to keep things sassy.

So, I could devote the next 30-45 minutes on this post trying to relay to you how I’m feeling this morning… or I could just sum things up in five minutes with a handy-dandy pie chart. 

Hmm, what to do?

Voila!  Such is the awe-inspiring magic of Microsoft Office Excel 2007.  Bask in its glory. 

Seriously, I said bask.

And since that felt oh so good, I believe I’ll do another one.

I think I feel a bar graph coming on…  Yep, here it comes…

Nice, right?  It’s easy, gets to the point, leaves no room for misinterpretation.

I don’t want to brag, but I think I’m revolutionizing communication here, people.

Spread the word.

Two Peas in a Pod

The hubs is coming home!  The hubs is coming home!

Sweet Lindsay Lohan, Chuckles is coming home!

After two excruciatingly long, obnoxiously celibate (sorry, Mother-in-Law!) months apart, he’ll be flying in Monday.

Our relationship, like, well, let’s face it — pretty much everything about me — might appear slightly abnormal to the casual observer.  A military career and the number of traveling jobs that followed managed to keep us apart a good chunk of the six years we’ve been together.  Sometimes in different zip codes, sometimes on different continents.

Fortunately, Chuckles and I are both independent creatures, so separation isn’t as dire for us. 

I, for one, revel in my alone time because it gives me the chance to shamelessly partake in a colorful array of nasty-ass habits.  Like, for instance, eating S’mores for dinner while standing over the sink (because the thought of washing a plate literally weighs on my soul) wearing crusty, stained pajama pants that have spent the entire weekend molding to my lower half.

Anyhoo, while I enjoy my “gross-girl” downtime, that doesn’t mean I don’t miss him tons, and my lil’ ol’ heart still gets all a-flutter when it knows he’s coming home soon.

And since it looks like he might actually be sticking around for a while this time (more on that later), I feel I should get you guys all nice and acquainted.

Let’s see, how do I describe Chuckles?  Well, he’s an “extreme” kind of guy.

How so?  Well, he’s into stuff like this…

And this…

And this…

 And this…

All of which have, on occasion, lead to this…


Bad husband.  Bad.

And let’s just say my hobbies are a little less, um, diverse? 

…you get the idea.

So how do we make this crazy little thing called marriage work?

Well, we’ve got one very important quality in common, Chuckles and I…


A quality that allows us to take life less seriously and smile through even the toughest circumstances…

And I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone who knows us that the quality we share is…

…being dead sexy.

Aww yeah.

Our Family’s Newest Addition

(Warning:  This post contains pictures that may not be suitable for readers who are easily grossed out by filthy kitchens.  And if you are one of those easily grossed-out readers… well…  mayhaps this blog is not for you.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to announce the newest addition to our family!

I came home from work yesterday evening and imagine my surprise to find this little guy waiting for me…

Well, hi there, lil’ fella! 

Apparently, while I was hard at work earning money to feed their chubby, slacker faces, the cats spent the day working like West Virginia coalminers to excavate what might possibly be the world’s largest dust bunny from under our fridge.

This is all extremely fascinating, I’m hearing you say.  But, tell us, exactly how big is it?

Allow me to defer to the fine folks at Centrum Multivitamins to put “the sitch” into perspective for you, gentle reader.

That is a 100-count bottle, by the way.

For your further elucidation, here are a few other random nearby objects I scrounged up for comparison, so that you may truly appreciate the beastly magnitude of what we are dealing with here.

I keep my high school combination lock handy for just such an occasion.

I must admit, I was a bit overwhelmed at first since we hadn’t really even talked about getting another pet.

But, after spending a little time getting to know each other, the little guy’s just so fluffy and well-behaved that I’ve really come to view it as part of the family.  And, hopefully, in time, the hubs will learn to love it as much as I do.

For the record, I’ve decided on the name McFluffin’ (shout out to Superbad!) and have already made an appointment for next week to get all the necessary shots.

On a side note: Perhaps I should clean under the fridge more often.

I’m going to go scrub myself vigorously with a wire brush now.

Hello, I Quit.

So, I know you guys have had a whole weekend to forget entirely about any of my earlier posts (or possibly the fact that I even exist), but try to keep up with me here…

Remember the job I mentioned here, here, and kinda-sorta here?

The boring one with the great coffee and gross lack of supervision?

The one I just got three weeks ago?

That job?

Well… I quit it yesterday.  Ha!

How could I do that, you ask? 

Well, I’d love to say there was a reason, but I just… I just don’t know what got into me. 

The last thing I remember was sitting at my desk and the woman in the next cubicle over was slurping her soup, and it was just so maddening to listen to the constant sluuurp, sluuurp, sluuurp that I didn’t even notice when my eye started twitching.  And, well, I guess I just sort of lost it after that… 

My memory of the incident’s pretty fuzzy, but the police reports say that I climbed up on my desk, took off one of my high heels and held it like a gun while making bullet noises—pshew pshew pshew!—at coworkers. 

And, for the record, apparently security guards are authorized to use brute force—fortunately, I’m wiggly like a greased piglet, so when they tried to tackle me, they only ended up being able to hold onto my feet.  Which, of course, just ended in an awkward (but kind of fun) situation where they wheelbarrowed me around the office for a minute or two.  Then I think I managed to latch onto the water cooler and pull it over before they dragged me, kicking and screaming, out of the building. 

Haha, kidding. 

But, seriously, how awesome would that have been?

Even if it didn’t happen like that exactly, rest assured, it did still happen.  I just chose to go the far more pathetic route of sweating profusely and groveling for their forgiveness in between repeated apologies.  (I’m easily guilted, which makes me wretched at break-ups of any kind.  Seriously, ask any of my ex-boyfriends. )

Ok, and I didn’t quit on the spot exactly as inform them in stuttering, broken English (I’m like an ESL student when I’m nervous) that I would not, in fact, be making any appearances—special guest or otherwise—in the office after early August.

So maybe it doesn’t make as entertaining a story as going out in a glorious blaze of psychotic, law-enforcement-induced fury, but still.  I did it.

The more pressing question than how I quit is probably why

Well that, dear friends, will be revealed here very, very shortly.   Just bear with us a little bit longer. 

Suffice it to say, after years and years of complaining about mediocre desk jockey jobs, I’m making the conscious choice to try out something different. 

And who knows where it’ll lead?  I may very well end up at a desk job again (and, if so, please disregard this post, potential employer!), but I feel I owe it to myself to try something new and see what happens. 

And maybe I’ll have an adventure or two.  And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.  And maybe by the time I’m back from wherever I end up, I’ll be settled down and ready for that nice, comfy desk job.


A Scary (Sponge) Story

So I might as well tell you now – because, Lord knows, you guys will find out soon enough – that I have a lot of quirks.

A lot.

Like, for instance, I’m a gum addict who chews at least two pieces at a time.  At least.  I’ve cut back from my pack-a-day habit, but I could still easily fritter away hours a day contentedly gnawing, like a golden retriever, on a massive wad of gum until I have sucked every last flavor crystal out of it.  And I’ll even mix flavors, too.

Peppermint and bubblegum?  I ain’t skerred.

Anyhoo, somewhere near the top of my long, long list of neurotic quirks are sponges.

More specifically, gross sponges.

I think it has to do with being somewhat of a germophobe, but I have what can only be described as a “thing” about them.  So much so that I even listed it in my “Who the heck is Erin?” section off to the right of this post.

Seriously, take a look.  I’ll wait…

See?  It’s right there.  And why?  Because it’s something I feel you should know about me before we go any further in this relationship.

And it’s sponges specifically — I don’t even mind germs in most other forms really.  But, for some reason, if there’s a two-day-old sponge lurking around that smells even slightly funky, game over.

And what is that old sponge smell anyway?  It’s like a combination of mildew, wet dog and the inside of an old Civil War trunk all in one.  I guarantee you we eat nothing in our house that might ever potentially produce that smell.  So where does it magically come from?

Ok, I feel you’ve been appropriately briefed on my deep-seated sponge issues.   Moving on…

So, ladies and gentlemen, imagine my complete and utter horror when I innocently stop by the office breakroom to wash a coffee cup and come face-to-face with…


What IS that??

Going against every natural instinct for self-preservation, I chance a closer look.

I know it’s blurry.  But I wasn’t sticking around for a second shot.

I immediately whip my palms to my face in self-defense, shut my eyes tight and turn my head away with my mouth frozen in a silent scream like you see every female victim do in Hitchcock movies.

Do people in the office actually use this?  And how, in this modern-day era of advanced health awareness and disease prevention, is this moldy, bacteria-infested zombie-sponge acceptable??

This will haunt every fiber of my being for a long, long time.

Oh, and then I saw a ghost.

The end.

(Phew!  I hope I didn’t scare you guys too much…)

These Shoes Weren’t Made for Matchin’

This morning I almost left the house wearing two different shoes.

No joke.

After playing hookie yesterday, my sluggish mind was apparently confused about why I was going back to work after only one day off, and it decided to play a little prank.

Luckily I heard the weather report just before heading out the door – cream-laden coffee in one hand, peanut butter and jelly toast in the other.  Today it’s going to be “oppressively hot and humid.”  Oppressively.  My black pants had to go.

I scrambled back into my closet to grab a skirt (when it’s this hot and humid, I do what I can to aerate), and it wasn’t until I went to slip my sandals back on that I noticed they were different.


I immediately realized 2 things:

1.  I need to start weaning myself off of my caffeine addiction.  When I can’t even manage to put on matching shoes before I’ve had my daily dose, we have a problem.

2.  Maybe I’m just not cut out for this 9-5 business.

Anyone want to take on an apprentice in a specialty trade?  I’m good at sales, decent at writing, I’m creative, I know how to fix watches, and I can type like a million words a minute.

Just don’t ask me to wear matching shoes.

*It has been brought to my attention that it’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on Alaina’s kitchen.  I will try to have something for you by tonight – if you’re interested in finding a unique flooring product, don’t miss this one! In the meantime, you can read about demolishing her kitchen here, behind-the-scenes action here, the countertop selection here, and a progress check here.