Three Things That Give Me Road Rage

I don't have road rage most of the the time. But when I do it's because people are idiots. Road rage is different than road panic, which I get often- usually when I've waited to long to fill my gas tank and I am in a gas station desert. Or when I have to go to the bathroom and I'm in a public bathroom desert. Worst ever when they strike at once (that's how I ended up in this gas station bathroom with no light, door handle, or ceiling). No, road panic makes for poor but meaningless driving decisions. Road rage turns into a crazy person.

What makes me crazy?

1. Driving with no headlights on, in the rain or at dusk. Bonus points if you drive a silver car. Here in lovely Seattle, we're surrounded by a beautiful silvery gray. The water, the sky, the highway, and yes, a third of cars are all about the same color. The only thing that keeps me from telling the difference between you and the mist? HEADLIGHTS. Don't want to get side-swiped, buddy? Try being visible.

2. Stalled lane changes. You know how sometimes your lane will inexplicably come to a stand-still while all others proceed at normal pace? That's because some moron decided to put their brakes on and wait for someone going 50 miles an hour to slow down to a pace where they can merge. They stop, you stop, even though you're 30 cars behind them. It's cause and effect at it's most infuriating.

3. Early mergers. Merging should take place where the merge lane, ahem, merges with the continuing lane. Most polite drivers recommend zipper style, one car at a time. If you follow this protocol, merging generally happens with little stalling, back-up, or confusion. Higher speeds occasionally merit alternative timing, but merging generally happens at low speeds, so it is rarely an issue of deciding. Problems occur when drivers merge preemptively, making a back-up in the receiving lane and a huge hole of useless road in the ending lane.

--Last week I got honked out because I merged into the continuing lane as my lane was ending. The driver behind me gestured a "WTF?", to which I responded with a mimed "Merging! That's what this lane is for! It only started 50 yards ago!" To which he mimed back "Merging's supposed to happen back there!" Back there, in this case, being an intersection where cars were skipping the merge lane entirely, blocking 2 other routes of access to the freeway, and 50 yards of open lane that could mitigate the entire hold-up. The exchange had been surprisingly coherent up to this point and I was frustrated I couldn't mime my rational for using the spare lane instead of blocking the on-ramp, which in turn blocks the intersection behind it, which in turn blocks the on-ramp to another high way.

(The intersection in question, if you're curious, is the beginning of I-90, coming up from the Stadiums. I come up from 4th Ave, many others come up from 1st. There's another car source I'm not sure where it comes from, but it's directly across from 4th. Every time it's the same: blockage in the intersection where all 3 sources convene, and an entirely unused lane up above. I just don't get it.)


Three things I learned about woodworking

One skill long on my hit list has been woodworking. I trace it back to the preponderance of wood holiday decorations in my house growing up, usually a result of a Relief Society Homemaking night. The craft seems to have been replaced by wood blocks spelling out a word like LOVE or FAITH or the family's name. You can buy them from the money changers at Deseret Book. Back when the go-to decor of Mormon moms was a cutely painted bunny rabbit or jack-o-lantern, someone, somewhere was cutting them out. I think it was Nancy Long. I remember seeing industrial-looking tools in her (or someone's) garage and being blown away that she used it for crafts. Tools were for furniture. And fences. Right?

For some reason the idea of a woodworking class had been on my mind when Leslie and I went for lunch at Evergreens and she pointed out to me that the back lot of the restaurant was a tool shop and they taught woodworking classes. I signed up the next day, opting for the Women's class not because I'm afraid of woodworking with men, but because it started sooner (plus, I wanted to give the teacher a few words about how calling the Women's Class project a garden tote and the Men's/co-ed Class project a toolbox when they were, in fact, the exact same project, was ridiculous and unnecessary, and really quite patronizing if you'd really like to know).

A hundred fifty bucks, 5 weeks, and a garden tote tool box toiletry caddy later:

1. The band saw is quite easy and not scary. I look scared here (or scary?)(band saw behind me on the right) but it was surprisingly easy to not cut any of my appendages off or get my clothing stuck anywhere. The table saw, on the other hand, did not cease to be terrifying, even though the table we were on had technology built in to keep fingers from being sawed off.
 2. Women are pretty great. There were five women in my class, all interesting in their own endeavors. Just wanting to make things out of wood because, why not (probably for Easter decorations)

 3. I have no plans for purchasing large woodworking tools in the near future. I enjoyed the course, immensely. I especially enjoyed the router and sander. Hand tools are pretty great and I actually really loved the multi-purpose woodworking tables with levers and adjustable just about everything. But getting into that kind of equipment is upwards of a thousand bucks a piece, even for the table. It would be pretty great if I could somehow inherit a garage full of planers and jointers (and preferably also a full storage of high quality wood so I don't have to buy any). Any recommendations of childless neighbors with a wood shop, kindly advise.

3 best moments in Alias

Damn you, Netflix. I started watching Alias when I was at the gym because Michael Vartan is a babe, I'd heard good things about the show, and I needed a show I could follow loosely through water breaks. In that order. I've finished all 5 seasons now and possibly wasted m:y summer. It's addicting, even though there is way too much techno, one season of truly awful bangs, and far too many turtlenecks and overcoats for the series to be realistically based in Los Angeles.

Favorite moments:

1. When Bradley Cooper finds out Jennifer Garner a spy (Season 1, Episode 21).Will had been digging around about Sydney's fiancee's murder, was abducted, and Sydney needed to rescue him. She's undercover as a French lounge singer (complete with bustier and hot pink wig) and she pretty much blows his mind. It's ridiculous and over the top, and Bradley Cooper reacts in just the way you would if you found out your bookworm friend (and her dad) just saved your life with karate kicks and guns. 
Check out the video 0:50-3:10

2. When Sloane sneaks back in to lead all the main characters in a Black Ops CIA team and is just giddy about it (Season 4, episode 1). He was a bad guy for the first three seasons, had a minute where you felt for him because of his dying wife, and you know he's going to end up a bad guy again. Sydney knows it and throws a fit. Sloane's reaction? "This is exiting!"

3.When Sydney comes back and is horrible because Vaughn is married and she has no memories of the previous 2 years, she's barely holding it together and then she sees her Dad, with whom she has a seriously complicated relationship, and she just needs him (Season 3, Episode 1). Their relationship in the show is so tumultuous. Sydney is so emotional about who her dad is and what his intentions are and Jack is so serious and mysterious about everything. Killed people? Sure. Blackmail? Tons. Friends with the bad guys? On purpose. Loves his daughter? No question. As some Alias geek writes, "He’s stiff and brittle and broken and pretty much over everybody else because everybody else is incompetent. He doesn’t really do relationships. But if you hurt his daughter, he will bury you. Look how much he doesn’t care."
Apparently Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber are real life besties (like he officiated her wedding and is a frequent house guest) which makes it all the more awesome.

Outside moments, Lena Olin is entrancing in every scene until the last season when she's just ridiculous and the guy who plays Marshall Flinkman a total win always. And of course, Mr. Vartan, dreamy as ever, has the "I want you but can't have you" face down (turns out most screen shots he looks angry or sad, which is I guess what wanting but can't having does to your face).


3 things I learned from my mom about house-cleaning

"Mom! I'm married and you're the first person I want to tell!"
My mom is better than yours. No really. She's better than most everyone. And it's her birthday today, which means she gets a shout-out. She doesn't get shout-outs often enough. No mom probably does. And my mom, most of all, deserves one. Most people who meet her know how warm and and genuine she is. What people might not know is that she's done a great job teaching me about house cleaning. Believe it.

1. It's amazing what can be done with a sprint clean. Mess begets mess begets mess, you know how it goes. Sometimes the best thing you can do to get back on track is just down the spoonful of sugar and blitz your way to mostly clean. Sometimes you get on a roll and everything ends up shining, sometimes you just prevent the mess from getting worse.

2. Mops don't work. Kitchen floors require hands and knees scrubbing. Simple as that. I remember seeing my mom on her knees with a bucket and soapy washcloth in the kitchen like Cinderella, thinking that Swiffer needed to make a stop at our house. Turns out Swiffer is garbage, as are cloth mops, self-wringing mops, flat ones, bulky ones, the ones that look like dreadlocks. You're just shoving around the dirty water, and not that well usually. The only way to get really clean is good old fashioned elbow grease, on your knees, with a bucket and soapy washcloth. Like Cinderella.

3. There are more important things than cleaning. I know my mom thinks she's failed her children because we're all, all five of us, slobs at heart. Well I am at least. But here's the thing I learned from my mom - and this is not me justifying the pile of clean clothing I have accruing in my closet: There are more important things than cleaning. Like spending quality time with people, making them food or talking to them about whatever inane thing they love. Remembering people's birthdays and just stopping by with flowers or a card. Like thoughtfully preparing for a Sunday School lesson even though the class is 10 years old and you could wing it if you wanted. My mom does these things. Regularly. And more that I don't even see. This is what you call having your priorities straight. That doesn't mean don't clean and watch Netflix instead (my all too frequent MO), it means go love the people around you and if you run out of time to dust the Toby Mugs, so be it. You were in the right place, doing good, and dusting can wait.
Isn't she the cutest?


Three MAC products I will continue to buy

A lot of people swear by MAC. I think it's because it's the brand in the department store that feels the coolest, most fashion savvy. What do I know. I think I like Bobby Brown best because someone told me once she makes great neutral-brown eye shadow palettes. They're all the same. But, I have found a few products worth going back for

1. Select Cover-up in the tube. Seriously, it lasts forever. FOREVER. I am not going to admit how long I've had my cover-up because the magazines would be mortified and anyone who reads magazines would warn me about eye hygiene. But that's what great about the squeeze-tube too. No mucky brushes double-dipping. I'm almost out now (I thought I was out like 4 months ago, but I cut open the tube and squeezed it into a pot. By the looks of it I've still got a few months left.), but I will be replacing it with the same tube next round.

2. I bought a pot of eyeliner last month and it has, I'm not kidding you, revolutionized my face. Maybe all potted eyeliners are like this and I've just been screwing around with a dull pencil or dumping money into gel-style rollers (they run out in like 3 days, I swear).

3. Returns. Not a product, no. But if you return any three used MAC containers, they give you a free lipstick. That's good.

3 ways to love the Beatles (and my father-in-law)

When Trish came down to Brazil in December she planted the seed that Jeff was turning 64 this year and she was thinking of throwing him a Beatles-themed 'When I'm 64' surprise birthday party.

Say no more. 

Brainstorms were had, Pinterest was pinterested, and I kind of became obsessed.

Fast forward 4 months and I was John and Porter was George and we were bouncing up and down to a lip-sync. (only got a partial video). Jeff was totally surprised (and maybe a little concerned that his wife is such a good sneak) and seemed to enjoy the party. I did, especially:

1. Making the Beatles' playlist and trivia was worth it even if the party were a bust (which it wasn't). They're deserving of their fame and I leveled up in both my appreciation of their talent and awareness of their weirdness.

2. Planning around a theme is just fun. Beatles' themed food (Yellow Submarine sandwiches... Octopuses Garden salad with Mean Mr. Mustard dressing, you get the idea). I'd like to throw more themed parties just for the sake of making the connection and dressing it up (and dressing up in costume if necessary).

3. There was a moment when, 20 minutes before guests were supposed to be arriving, us kids finally got together to 'rehearse' our back-up dancer moves (Tiftin and I had already planned them out. The choreography was top-notch, I assure you), and we had this moment where we all felt like silly siblings. I'm used to the feeling with my siblings, but this was the first time with in-laws who also happen to be step-siblings married together as adults. We all get along great on any day, but there's something extra about being siblings, something about being on the same team on behalf of (or against, I guess, in some cases, but not this one) parents. Four ridiculous, silky, neon costumes; lots of twirling; and a common purpose of making a fun contribution for Jeff's birthday. Siblings!

Vera, Chuck, and Dave!
feeling silly

Three Things I loved about Paris

Paris, FRANCE. Not Idaho or Texas or one of those other poser Parees. When we do a girls' trip, we do it RIGHT. Airline connections and a love of French garden literature helps.
Sitting down for some hot cocoa
1. Everywhere you turn is picturesque. Seriously. Art in the parks. A cathedral every few blocks. The whole city kind of feels like it's glowing white (is it granite??). Americans like walking around Paris because it feels like you're walking in a historic postcard. This city is just as beautiful as everyone thinks it is.
The original Bon Marche!
Not even a site listed as worth seeing. Just on the way...
Famous art in the city park. No biggie
Peek-a-boo. This is a real photo. I'm not kidding.
I'm in a postcard!

2. Quick snacks. The real fast food. I've often lamented that the only way to eat in America is a packed lunch, a sit-down restaurant, or crap food on the go. I'm on the go a lot (or I'm too in a hurry to spend time just eating food and not doing something else at the same time. I'm trying to learn from France on that one [and most places in the world], but it's a hard habit to break when my options are so awful), and I don't usually think far enough ahead to pack a lunch (and Porter always eats my leftovers!)(but he makes up for it by cooking for me all the time)(I might starve without him). Wouldn't it be nice if there was a nice crepe shop for when you're not starving, but a granola bar just won't do? Or pre-made baguette shop (Subway is not fast, I'm telling you). Or falafel stand. Or all of these everywhere, between the cafes where everyone seems to find hours to breakfast lunch and dinner. Who needs to sit when you can eat on the go?
A freaking baked potato vendor. Seriously!
I'm a Perrier wino
3. Bike lanes! Who'd have ever thought I'd count anything cycling among my favorite things in a historic city? We did a lot of bike rentals to get around - you pay a few bucks for access for the day, then its free for the first 30 minutes. The whole system is pretty amazing; a huge feat of logistics. But what I was most excited about is that I didn't fear for my life while riding the bikes. People saw me. Vehicles saw me (even busses!). The bike lanes were (mostly) well-marked. No neon necessary. It wasn't the ride for your life of even Seattle-level urban cycling.

Alas, no cycling photos. But I've got more to say about Paris, three things later.

Three reasons I blog

I've been an awful blogger lately. I have this thing where I want to blog in chronological order so when I fall behind I get overwhelmed and over it. Also, I want to be clever, so blasting through them isn't really an option. So my options are: quit blogging, or blog differently.

I'll take option two.

So I've decided to blog in a way that works for me:

Three things at a time. No need for clever exposition. Plenty of room for expanding or contracting. Easy options for going out of order. Or rambling. I'm not looking for an audience, which I have to remind myself from time to time (as an avid stranger-blog-reader).

1. I'm an awful journal-keeper and excellent forgetter. You know when people ask what you did over the weekend Monday morning at work and everyone brushes through the weekend, highlighting a thing or two of note? I blank entirely and highlight the only things I can remember. At the end of the same day even, I can't count on remembering. I could be frightened (please don't let it be pre-Alzheimers. What a nightmare!) or I can blog.

2. I like the mental exercise of putting experiences to words. Sometimes I'll be in the middle of something and I'll think out the words I want to use to describe the experience. It makes it richer somehow to attach words and descriptions to something mundane. It makes something exciting feel exciting longer. I catch myself talking like an idiot sometimes (far too many 'likes' and 'yeahs' and 'or whatevers') and I think it's because my brain is out of practice. There's no reason to talk like a pro at work then mumble like a high schooler about everything else. So I blog. Makes me sound smarta.

3. I like talking about myself. Don't we all?