Life, Pets, Work

It’s so nice to work from home…

February 3, 2020

Once a week, I get to work from home. I’m thankful for that opportunity because it makes it so much easier to have someone out to fix the latest broken thing in the house, or to sneak in a doctor appointment right before or after work. I get a lot of work done because I’m in my own quiet home instead of a cube farm. And I can do things like tackle some housework in the morning, and drop a spaniel off at the groomer before my workday starts.

The morning started well.

Which is what I did today. WM went to work. I made some overnight oats for the rest of the week, descaled the Keurig, loaded and ran the dishwasher, and took out the trash. I started to fold some clothes and realized I had to leave to take Murphy to the groomer.

Murphy, who is now 3, is a big, bold, barking bully when someone is walking by the house or if someone comes to the house. But if you take him out of the house, he is terrified and can’t deal. The groomers is only a 6 minute drive from our house but Murphy was still losing it. When I opened the car door to get out, he jumped over me, out of the car, and charged toward the busy road. He only stopped because I screamed. Heart pounding, I grabbed his leash and walked him to the groomers, where I planned to abandon him for the rest of his life.

Once in the door I had to forcibly scoot his 40-pound butt across the floor to the holding area. And then I went home.

I took my laptop out of my bag and hooked it up. A benefit of being a former gamer is that I have a large monitor, a great mouse, a huge backlit keyboard, and an amazing headset to plug into my laptop. The headset which used to hear conversations like, “KILL KILL KILL KILL THE X KILL THE X ALL ON ONE TARGET BRING IT DOWN GET OUT OF THE FIRE” now is used for, “hi, who just joined the call?”

Ollie, who is usually completely chill when Murphy isn’t here, was remarkably not chill.


And he stared at me all morning long. I received the phone call that Murphy would be ready at noon. I took my lunch at 11:30 so I could stop at the post office first for stamps. I asked for 3 books of postcard stamps. “You really need 60 postcard stamps?” the employee asked. “Yes, please,” I replied politely, refraining from explaining how I write postcards to voters so we can avoid shitstorms like the one we are living in. The post office only had 20 stamps. Womp womp.

I went to pick up Murphy, who was the saddest dog who ever sadded. Even though he looked amazing, our groomer explained he was having none of the grooming process that day. I tipped her generously as always, and walked my sullen dog to the car. We went home. I boiled some noodles for lunch and sat down to eat as I logged back into the laptop.

A few minutes later I smelled pee.

“Why does this room smell like pee?”

Because there was a giant puddle of pee behind my chair.

I leapt up, bansheed the two dogs out the back door, and managed to keep an IM conversation going about data sources while I dragged the Bissell out of the garage to suck up the pee.

The Bissell sucked up the pee but left a smear of dirt or something across the carpet, which required multiple passes to rectify. The office was now damp, and smelled like carpet cleaner. I start rewriting a Crystal Report and eat my cold noodles.

Murphy, brave again, gets into a barking match with the dog behind us. I dash out the door to call him in and step in a pile of poop. I banshee the dogs back into the house, take my shoe off, hurl it into the yard and go back inside. I immediately go back outside to retrieve the shoe and leave it by the door.

I text my husband:

What not to text to your spouse at work.

When WM returns a half hour after my impassioned text, he gives me a small bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a (right) Twix bar. He knows my love language. He takes the dogs into the other room and they all doze off on the chair as I finish the workday.

The best part of working from home is that despite all of the above, I still got more work done than I do during a typical day at the office.


My Biggest “Loser” Moment

January 26, 2020

What better way to knock off the writing rust than to write about the evening when I felt like the biggest loser on the planet? Oh, not Biggest Loser as in weight loss, Biggest Loser as in waves of shame. This story makes everyone laugh because there are many nuances of loserness in this story. So many.


In February, 2007, I was freshly divorced and living in my tiny 1-bedroom apartment with my 2 cats (Misty and Charlie) because I didn’t take Max back from BvP until March, I believe. I was watching QVC and there was an announcement that the Goo Goo Dolls were going to perform live, ONLY on QVC!

I was so excited for that QVC concert! I liked a lot of Goo Goo Dolls songs back in the 90s. A concert! For free! In my own Dee-Luxe Apartment in the Sky!

At 9:30 on Tuesday, February 6th, I popped some popcorn, snuggled into my new red sofa, pulled up some (long destroyed by animals and time) blankets, and tuned in.

The program went on for an hour and featured backstage interviews and some of their hits, including Iris and Slide. But I was becoming more and more pissed because they weren’t playing any of their songs *I* liked.

“SING ALLISON ROAD!” I actually, literally, shamelessly yelled at the television. When the concert ended, it was without playing Allison Road, Hey Jealousy, or Til I Hear it From You.

I stewed. LO, did I stew. Until what you easily figured out from the prior paragraph finally hit me. The songs I liked were by the Gin Blossoms. The band that performed was the Goo Goo Dolls. They are two different bands.

Wow hey this is huge and WordPress overrides my HTML so I can’t make it smaller. Thanks, WordPress!

I eagerly anticipated a live music concert on a home shopping channel and it was entirely the wrong band.

Welcome back to the blog!

Life, Reading

Show Us Your Books: December 2019

December 10, 2019

Buckle up, this is a juggernaut.

The secondTuesday of September WM was on his way back from Michigan b/c my MIL was having a health issue.
The secondTuesday of October was the day before my breast biopsy and I could barely string 2 words together.
The secondTuesday of November I had intended to participate but WM was on his way back to Michigan and I think I was dealing with refrigerator drama.

Which leaves me with many months of reading to catch up on. Despite that I am still 15 books behind with 29 days to go in the year. Looks like I won’t be hitting that Goodreads goal. And that’s okay!

womp womp

Onto the books! I use the Goodreads rating system which is…

Onto the books! I use the Goodreads rating system, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing

A God in Ruins — Kate Atkinson
A ‘companion book’ to Atkinson’s Life After Life, this is Ursula’s brother Teddy’s life story. It’s beautifully written, but overall a very sad war-is-sad, aging-is-sad, loss-is-sad book. Life After Life had such a creative timeline to it that this one seemed very long and straightforward. It did finish with a WHOMP though which left me breathless. Four stars

Royal Holiday — Jasmine Guillory
This book is the fourth installment of The Wedding Date series. I didn’t realize that and skipped right over book three. It didn’t matter. I liked that this story featured a late-middle-aged couple. Three stars

Eyes to the Wind: A Memoir of Love and Death, Hope and Resistance — Ady Barkan
I first heard about Ady Barkan on Pod Save America. I started following him on Twitter. I preordered this book, expecting to be gutted. And … I guess I was expecting more of a memoir of a young activist cut down in the prime of his life by ALS. Or I’m a heartless ghoul, because he came off as an uber-privileged bro who could make waves because everyone else (mainly his wife) was doing the hard work of keeping his life going while he was jet-setting across the country. I finished the book and unfollowed him on Twitter. Two stars, and I was more charged up by the introduction by AOC.

Circe — Madeline Miller
Five stars for this gorgeous retelling of the myth of Circe, the least-loved child of a Titan god and a nymph. Banished from her father’s palace for being witch-like, Circe is dropped onto an island and told to fend for herself. And she does! While she cannot leave the island, plenty of others can visit her. That’s how we hear the stories of her siblings, of the Minotaur, of Medea and Jason, and of Odysseus and Penelope. It’s just frigging gorgeous.

The Perfect Couple — Elin Hilderbrand
The famous beach read author tries her hand at a beachy murder mystery. I became a little tired of being flogged with the economic differences between Benji’s parents (Tag and Greer) and Celeste’s parents (Bruce and Karen). There was a real romanticization of paycheck-to-paycheck working class families — I could practically hear “Livin’ on a Prayer” every time we were treated to Bruce and Karen’s stories.
I ranked it 4 stars at the time I read it in August, but I just changed it to two stars because even though the reveal could have been explosive, the ending was so flat. Oh wellsies, rich people be riching, I guess.

The Rabbi and the Hit Man: A True Tale of Murder, Passion, and Shattered Faith — Arthur J. Magida
This is the true crime telling of how Rabbi Fred Neulander had his wife, Carol, murdered back in 1994. I grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ. I went to high school with the Neulander children (Rebecca was 2 years ahead, Matthew was a year behind.). I had cakes from Carol’s bakery, The Classic Cake Company. We grew up listening to Ken Garland and his wife Elaine Soncini on Philadelphia radio. And when I worked at the Courier-Post, my job was to collect and archive all of the Neulander murder stories online. So I thought I knew everything about the crime. NOPE!
Even though the author shits on New Jersey and my hometown from page 1, he put together an amazing retelling of how cold and depraved Fred Neulander really was.
Three stars!

84 Charing Cross Road — Helen Hanff
This is an actual collection of letters written by Ms Hanff, of New York City, to the Marks & Co antique booksellers in London between the years of 1949 and 1970. Through the letters, she developed friendships with the bookstore staff. The letters were poignant and funny and I learned a lot about postwar England. If you love books (which, if you’ve read this far, you do), it’ll be a quick four star read.

City of Girls — Elizabeth Gilbert
As I’ve said a million times before, I am Elizabeth Gilbert’s target audience. And I didn’t think she could get better than The Signature of All Things but holy cow this novel was amazing. Vivian Morris begins her story in 1940 when she’s 19 years old. She was kicked out of Vassar and then sent to New York City to live with her amazing aunt who owned a struggling theater. And Vivian grows and matures as New York grows and matures. Her life is enriched by a diverse cast of friends and family. There’s a point where Men Ruin Things but overall it’s more of a character-driven novel than a woman-in-constant-peril novel. Five stars.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before — Jenny Han
Sooo many people loved this one but this book hit all of my “why I don’t like to read YA” buttons. Lara Jean’s sister breaks up with Josh Sanderson, who is like a brother to the other 2 Song sisters. Josh Sanderson is on a mission — he’s grooming all three Song sisters to love him, and gaslighting them into thinking he’s a nice guy. Anyway, Lara Jean writes closure letters to all of her crushes once she stops crushing on them and keeps them in her hatbox. The letters end up mailed to the boys and that plot point that I thought would take the entire book to rectify, kind of faded with a soft pud in the first act. And then the story just … ends.
Two stars, not for me.

Moving Pictures (Discworld #10) — Terry Pratchett
I didn’t enjoy this one compared to all the others. It screamed “look how clever I am” and was very heavy handed with how the movie industry sucks. It was also missing the moments of warm and fuzzy that I enjoyed from the previous books in the series.
Two stars. I did enjoy the cameos from prior characters. The Librarian continues to give me life. Oook!

(takes a breath)

The Proposal (The Wedding Date #2) — Jasmine Guillory

I liked it but didn’t love it like I loved The Wedding Date. The main characters were great but the chemistry wasn’t there. I think that’s because a good 20% of the book was dedicated to a minor character’s pregnancy. I wish I had that time with Nik and Carlos instead.

Jasmine Guillory does love food though. I was hungry through the entire book. Three stars.

The Unhoneymooners — Christina Lauren
When the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only 2 who weren’t — the sister of the bride and the brother of the groom — take the nonrefundable honeymoon in gorgeous Hawaii. And by the way, they hate each other. And her new boss AND his ex-girlfriend are at the same resort, so they have to pretend that they’re a newly married couple. It’s a fun romcom take on a “they hate each other but have chemistry” trope. Four stars and only 3 more years until I get to go to Hawaii for Christmas.

Today Will Be Different — Maria Semple
** spoiler alert ** (language warning)

I couldn’t concentrate on most the book because of fucking Eleanor leaving the goddamn DOG AT THE STORE ALL DAY !(^(*@!^&(! That thrummed in my head the entire time – was that just an oversight that the editor didn’t pick up? Nope, it was on purpose.

I’m okay with books where I don’t like the main character but all I could think of is how she didn’t end up arrested for all of the shit she pulled. Eleanor, Joe, and annoyingly precocious Timby all deserve each other. Two stars and Yo Yo deserves better.

Gingerbread — Helen Oyemi
Helen Oyemi’s books are difficult to read because there is so much depth and allegory and weird magic. For me to enjoy them, I have to stop trying to understand them. Kind of like those old weird magic 3D images where you have to lose focus to see the picture. Gingerbread is a story of family love and dysfunction and magic. Four stars. But if you’re new to Oyemi’s works, start with another one of her books, maybe Boy, Snow, Bird.

Uncommon Type — Tom Hanks
Yes, that Tom Hanks. I grabbed the book (a collection of short stories) because of Mindy Kaling’s blurb and I think of Mindy Kaling as a sharp and witty writer. But this collection wasn’t sharp. It was pleasant enough but kind of boring. The author likes: typewriters, stories about manly men, women as long as they’re seen through the lens of men or are helped by men, the wide-eyed innocent past, the adventurous future, as long as it worships the past.
Two stars.

Currently reading: Reaper Man, the 11th Discworld novel

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph

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