Thursday, September 24, 2009

Officially required to own a cowboy hat

That’s right, bitches: I’m a Texas resident.

I’d like to thank the Internet, my San Antonio map, the slew of government offices I had to visit over the past few months and Gloria, the nicest government employee I’ve ever met at the Bexar County Tax Office. I couldn’t have done it without you, boo!

Here, you have to EARN the right to become a Texan. They don’t make it easy. And it’s EXPENSIVE. I have a feeling this is their way of weeding out the bad apples. Sort of a survival of the fittest for new residents. Don’t have a permenant residence? Have a clunker for a car? Can’t come up with the money? WE DON’T WANT YOU IN OUR STATE.

My first insight into this was when I took Jerry (My Jetta) in for a recall.

Maintenance guy: “Your car hasn’t had an inspection yet.”

Me: “Huh? Like an emissions test? Does it need one? It’s, like a year old.”

Apparently in Texas “All Texas registered vehicles are required to receive an annual inspection. All inspections include a comprehensive safety inspection; however, some vehicles are required to have an emissions test in addition to the safety inspection.”

Cost: $15

Then, you have to register your car in Texas…and you have to do this BEFORE you get your license. I don’t know why. Someone higher up just deemed it so. And to do this, you have to go to the county tax office in your county. I live in the biggest damn county in San Antonio and there’s only one office – downtown. The Husband and I ventured here on Tuesday during torrential downpour rain. Guess what? No line! Yay! Ball in our court!

But I have a lease, which makes registering my car harder than the LSAT. A tube of whiteout later, we came up with the correct info on the correct forms

Cost to register car and buy plates: $195!

And they expire every year! “But next time it will just be $70,” Gloria assured me. JUST!? Oh, and you have to pay by check or cash. Who uses checks anymore?

Now, onto my license. This time, I was PREPARED. I had every piece of information sensitive document I had in tow. Birth Certificate, marriage license, social security card, all in a manila envelope. I was an identity thief’s wet dream.

The people at the Texas Dept. of Public Safety do NOT take identity theft jokes lightly, by the way.

After an hour in line I took the vision test (with my glasses for the First. Time. Ever. Sad.) and I was booked – I’m not kidding. I was finger printed and everything. To make it easier when I am arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants I guess? (I say this because I loved the play-on-words posted “Texas Hold ‘em” meaning they’ll take (hold?) your license if you smuggle drugs or people over the border. Something tells me that’s not all they’d do, but whatever.)

I smiled pretty for the camera (though she took the picture as soon as I STOPPED smiling, of course) I was handed a slip of paper. Oh yea, I won’t get my actual license for two weeks. Not a big deal for me because I have a fancy military ID but the woman next to me pitched a FIT. “How will I buy my smokes with this piece of crap?!”

Cost for license: $24

Total cost of becoming a Texan: $234 + mental anguish.

I’m off to shop a new hat!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Afternoon Delight

Sunday, The Husband and I had grand plans to float the Guadalupe since A. it was 90 degrees in September and we’re Ohioans. B. it only requires a tube and a beer and we are low maintenance.

Guess what? Texans ALSO believe Labor Day weekend is the end of summer. When we floated back in July, it was a hot, packed mess of people and tubes and way too many cowboy hats for my taste. Sunday there was … well, I think I saw one person meandering downstream.

People … in OHIO summer activities end because it is, indeed, too cold for summer activities. It was partly cloudy and 90 degrees on Sunday – a perfect summerlike day.

Or perhaps they were all home watching football?

So we took our cooler and flip flops to Jacob’s Creek park at Canyon Lake where we sponged music off of the picnickers on the next table over and drank beer and watched the water. It’s really a beautiful area and, if we were prepared, we would have totally set up shop there for the day. Unfortunately, The Husband gets cranky when hungry and goldfish crackers were not satiating, so we left after an hour.

My question is … what the hell do South Texans DO in the fall? There are no leaves to rake, it’s too hot for corn mazes and hot cider and high school football is on Fridays (It’s SO Friday Night Lights down here). Please advise.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Taking care of business

We rent our house in San Antonio. So, when something breaks, we call a landlord to fix it.

Seems simple, right?

Except our technical “landlords” live in Oklahoma, the property manager reminds me of Wilford Brimley with a sugar low and, because the house is new, the homebuilder has to determine if the “Thing That Breaks” is covered under warranty. And if it is…THEY hire a contractor to fix it.

Got that?

The breaker to our office is on the fritz. It keeps tripping, making it nearly impossible for me to create witty and eloquent blog entries for my loyal fan base. It needs to be fixed, pronto. Here is how the events have unfolded, thus far:

1. The husband calls the property manager.
2. The property manager calls the homeowner.
3. The Homeowner calls the builder.
4. The property manager calls me, because I am home.
5. He tells me he is calling the builder.
6. The builder calls me.
7. The builder comes over, determines it’s under warranty, calls a contractor.
8. The contractor calls me to set up an appointment, even though I am in the same room with the builder who is on the phone with the contractor.
9. The contractor comes over Monday. Seemingly fixes the issue.
10. Breaker still trips.
11. Builder calls me to check on the progress. I tell him it’s still broken.
12. He tells me to call the contractor directly.
13. I call The husband to bring him back to speed.
14. I call the contractor, make another appointment
15. The builder calls to ensure the problem is in the process of being fixed.
16. I am now waiting for the contractor to come during his über-convenient time-frame of 1:00 pm to whenever-the-hell-he-feels-like-showing-up.

Your move, contractor. Your move.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to School

I had my first class on Saturday! I am taking a certification course at UTSA to become a paralegal because, let’s face it, magazine publishing isn’t exactly a growing job market these days. So in one year, instead of being an editor’s bitch, I get to be a lawyer’s bitch – and get paid more to do so.

I don’t want to get too specific on the people I met at my class in case I facebook friend them at some point ... but there are a few characters that I just have to mention:

The “OMG you are so funny!” girl. This chick laughed – obnoxiously – at everything our professor (a practicing attorney) had to say. Everything. While the prof is a cool chick…um, I think she was even a little rattled at her new No. 1 Fan.

The “back when” woman. There’s probably one in every class like this … the woman who hasn’t stepped foot on a college campus since “they had card catalogs! Imagine that!” Yes, yes, and you had to visit the professors personally instead of e-mail and you walked five miles to class – each way – in drifts of snow. And she kept commenting that she was the mother hen and the oldest person in the class....which she's not...but she may have thought that because the 55-year-old-mother-of-two next to me was on her Blackberry the whole time. Every “new” technology we were introduced to in orientation (which simply included our professor’s e-mail address and the Web CT site) garnered an “ooh” and “ahhh” from this woman. I wanted to ...ahh.. punch her in the face.

The Re Re. There was just no other word for her. The rules (which we were e-mailed – ohhh! ahh!– to us a week ago) are pretty strict for class with promptness and attendance being the major factor in your grades. Even if ALL you had to do was breathe and sit in class, you’d come away with at least a low C. So what does this girl do? Comes in 40 minutes late. Then 10 minutes late after the lunch break.

Then, there were the comments. We had to introduce ourselves and explain why we were pursuing this career. Her answer? “I’ve been in a lot of legal trouble in the past so I thought it’d be good to know what they were sayin’ to me.” This is what we call “too much sharing” in kindergarten. Lady, no one is asking you to say “I used to dream of being a paralegal as a child.” Just say it’s a…um, lifestyle change…and be done with it.

My other favorite question was “Hey are you guys (meaning my prof, a lawyer) ever gonna write laws so lie people understand them?” Yes, she said lie people…because it’s the past tense of “laypeople” in her head, perhaps? I don’t know. This girl is going to keep me entertained all year – I can feel it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When it rains...it pours

It rained today! And yesterday!

People, like everything in Texas, the rain is also bigger.

All summer whenever I’d pass a retention pond or dry river beds or attempted to kayak in the puddle that was the Guadalupe I remember thinking it would take a few hurricanes to generate enough H20 to fill those babies back up.

Well, apparently it just takes one low pressure system over the Mexican mountains.

Monsoon like rain has been pounding San Antonio for like two days straight. Yesterday I thought it was the end of the freakin’ world it was raining so hard. And driving anywhere required me to remember what my driver’s ed teacher said about hydroplaning more than once. (Did anyone pay attention during that segment? I didn’t think so. The only thing I remember is to turn my headlights on low during fog. Guess what? Cars made today have daytime running lights that you can’t really do anything about so that little lesson is all for naught.)

Anyway…

I know, it’s great considering the area hasn’t seen significant rain in six months. But this type of weather is exactly what I DON’T miss about Ohio. Sun? Come back soon, 'kay?

Speaking of Ohio, my trip back home was great – I crammed everything I wanted to do in three days, including making an ass out of myself at my friend’s wedding and successfully drinking most of the wine at the bar. And slurring. And possibly Elaine-dancing to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” – Wha? Who does that? This girl.

Ever fly hung over? Yeah, I don’t think my seatmates were too pleased to see me grabbing for that barf bag.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dr. No

I went to the doctor today for what I thought was a short “check up” to “Get me in the system” meaning TriCare – the health plan for all members of the military. I had some routine things – weight, temperature, BP, etc. which was high and the nurse didn’t get my joke that my BP has performance anxiety and is always high when someone checks it.

Three times … still high. She puts a red flag on it for the doctor. The fuh?

Then I go through the third degree where she racks up more things to do to me, smiling wickedly the whole time. I have a feeling she was not very popular in nursing school.

Did you know you need a tetanus shot every 10 years? I was scolded for not having one up to date. Shame on me. It’s not like I am habitually coming into contact with rusty nails (But doesn’t that sould like a cool name for a band? "Tonight! Tentanus Shot and the Rusty Nails!" It’s mine. I am copyright protecting it tomorrow).

Anyway…

So I get a shot. Then, Nurse Ratchet checks my record and proclaims, “It’s been over a year since your last pap! We need to correct that right away!” I swear she squealed with delight and clapped her hands.

Let me tell you, getting a Pap Smear is never the idea of a good time for any girl. Getting a surprise Pap Smear? That's just playing dirty. Why not just tell me that I am also going into labor?

An hour and several tests and exams later I am on my way - shaking and dazed - with an appointment time for MORE blood work. This time, I know in advance that a needle’s comin’ at me.

And no one will be anywhere near my cookie.

Homeward Bound

The Husband and I hit up the beach at Port Aransas this weekend. That’s one of my favorite parts about living in San Antonio – I am a mere two hours from the Gulf Coast. I like that while my Ohio friends are shivering in 60-degree, cloudy weather, I was drinking a Miller Lite and happily giving my skin sun damage in my beach chair. Life is good.

I do get to experience those below-normal Cleveland temps in a few short days! I’m coming back to Cleveland for a friend’s wedding and I am probably more excited than anyone visiting Ohio should be. I can’t wait to drink some Great Lakes beer and eat pomme frites from Bar Cento.

It’s weird, I am starting to meet people here but I doubt they’ll ever replace my friends back home. I can’t wait to see Jen “Peanut Butter Crackers” McMullen-Clements, Beth “I must point to something in every photo I take” Stallings and Shrill Lyndsey! I love you girls.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Member Open House

I survived my first Spouses' Club mixer. But not without inadvertently signing myself up for, like, eight committees and groups. Am I interested in seeing a Broadway production of The Lion King? Yep! Do I want a free facial from Mary Kay? Sure! Do I want to join a book club where they read books meant for adults (and not from the Chick Lit section of Borders)? Of course! Do I want to join arts and crafts and learn how to make my very own Christmas cards? Sign. Me. Up.

I get very flustered very easily and, when bombarded by throngs of 30-to-70-somethings thrusting sign-up sheets and pamphlets in my face, I lost it a little. At least I had the good sense to wear black to absorb my nervous sweat without being conspicuous. Did you know that not a lot of people in San Antonio wear black? Something about it absorbing heat, what with all the hotness and the Africa-like conditions and everything. I suspect this is also why I have the only black car in the Lone Star State.

The whole “Open House” experience is not unlike the first day of Sorority Rush – except instead of asking your major, they ask your husband’s rank and position (Note: I should probably learn this info). I got so many confused looks when I admitted I was from Cleveland and a “new to all of this Army stuff” I felt like I was hosting a junior high Quiz Bowl match.

… for those of you playing along, it’s because there is no Army base in Cleveland and most Army wives on Fort Sam Houston have been living on or near bases their entire lives. Someone even asked me if it was near Schofield Barracks (On Oahu, Hawaii) and I was all, "Oh, honey."

The bright spot at this event is that I actually made a friend! Look at me go with my social butterfly-ness! Ironically, I would have met her anyway since her husband works with mine but it was nice to know she didn’t routinely wear a scrunchie OR a vest, she loves reality TV and she’s actually from Rocky River! So we had a lot in common. What a relief. Now I’ll have someone to go to bunco parties with. Yes, I made a point to signed up for that event …. but mostly because booze was involved.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hello ... My name is Awkward

It had to happen eventually: I am attending my first Fort Sam Houston Spouse’s Club function tomorrow.

I’m really nervous. What will these ladies be like? Will they like me? Will I succumb to my “nervous talking thing” and spurt out whatever ridiculous nonsense that comes to my head? (Note: this is often comical to witness at bars, not so much at job interviews…). What if they’re all wearing scrunchies and tapestry vests and ask me to be part of their needlepoint group that meets on Thursdays? Or their scrapbooking weekends? (Note: I am not hating on the hobby of scrapbooking, but me? With a scrapbook and stickers and construction paper? Just … no. I don’t even have my wedding photos yet. I know, this is disgraceful in more ways than one. We’ve been married for four years.)

Worse yet: will they bring their gaggle of children and then interrogate me on my failure to procreate?

I feel like I am getting ready to start my first day of junior high. I’m off to wash my face with Seabreeze, tease my hair with Stiff Stuff and dig out my Hypercolor shirt.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Please Advise

Although I am beginning to feel like a local here in San Anton (no one actually calls it San Antonio OR the Alamo City – except the Chamber of Commerce), there are some things I just don’t get:

How can every restaurant be voted “Best Margarita in the City”?

How come we can go 70 mph on the highway … but no one actually does? This is five more miles extra than Ohio highways, people! I want to feel the wind in my hair at 70! Or, at least above 60 mph. Please fix.

Why are there no less than five weather segments on any given newscast? We all know what it will be tomorrow: F*cking hot and party sunny.

Why is the news so sensational here? Every news piece gets its own dramatic intro music – I swear I saw a news story about the lines at the Head Start building today. That was the story: The lines are long. The Husband’s and my favorite news channel is Fox, mostly because of the cheesy banter between the weather guy (I heart Alex Garcia) and the news casters. And they don’t sit at the big desk like in Cleveland (perhaps Ohio newscasters are simply lazy?)… they stand like they’re waiting for the keg to open at a cookout or something. It’s like watching Anchorman. “News team…assemble!”

Why didn’t neon Spandex biker pants go out of style yet in San Antonio?

How come the tax free weekend won’t cover a brand new Kate Spade messenger bag? I am going back to school and I need it.

How come, despite a quarterly pest control guy and my own “pest management practice” (read: spraying the baseboards with store-purchased any killer) I have ants in my balsamic vineager? And …really? Basamic? Don’t ants usually hide in sugar? … perhaps I am living with ants that have developed sophisticated palates.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here are the top 10 things I cannot live without in San Antonio:

[Editor's Note: OK I stole this idea from a fellow blogging San Antonio newcomer who actually gets HER blogs posted on the San Antonio New Express Web site. She moved here two months before we did…stealing my dream job of blogging about San Anton with a purpose (read: pay check)! But I enjoy her blogs anyway and we actually have a lot in common…]

1.Chips and salsa. I'm not sure I've been to a restaurant that doesn't serve these up upon arrival YET. So far our fav is the salsa at Guajillo's (which I can never write without googling the proper spelling...sigh).

2. Bodies of water. I am just NOT accustomed to months-long stretches of 100+ degree days.... At least we can escape by tubing or kayaking on the Guadalupe and Comal, lounging at Canyon Lake (if it hasn’t dried up yet from lack of rain) or a day-trip to the ocean! In Cleveland we had the mighty banks of … Lake Erie. Which, more often than not, was not suitable for swimming due to high levels of bacteria. Yes, they do have this issue here…but that just means you go to another lake, or river, or the ocean …they’re all within a day’s drive!

3. The pool at Fort Sam. probably should be shuffled in with bodies of water, but I like having access to a pool (it’s on base) because it allows me to interact with people while The Husband is at work. I feel like a part of a community – even though, while I’m there I usually just plow through books and magazines, only stopping every 20 min. or so to jump in the water.

4. The Quarry Market (or “The Quarry” as the locals call it). It has the same vibe as Crocker Park but it also meets all of my shopping needs in one place: Whole Foods (it’s my Trader Joe’s substitute since there are NO TJ’s in the entire state of Texas – WTF?), Borders and … Old Navy. Normally, I despise this store because it’s usually filled with ill-fitting clothing made by 8-year-olds in Guam and crying babies. But when you need a collection of sundresses and tank tops to get you through a San Antonio summer, well, the ON and its annoying talking mannequins have won me over with their cheap prices. And? Every first day of the month military members get a 10% discount! Which brings me to …

5. My military ID. I get a mad discount everywhere with this baby! Not only can I buy non-taxed clothes, shoes (I got new Nike Shox for $70!), liquor (tequila is dirt cheap at the Class Six) and groceries from the PX, I saved money on my rental car (for when I am back in Cleveland next month), hotels, books, Old Navy, you name it. I look morbidly obese in the photo, but most people never look at it.

6. Sunscreen. Because jesus on a pogo stick do I burn easy this close to the equator!

7. Skirts. Because … did I mention it’s hot in Texas? It's like built-in wardrobe air conditioning. I haven’t worn pants since May. In fact, I tried on a pair of pants the other day and they were way too big! I guess I am losing some weight (likely due to all the sweating in the heat. It's hot here) … which brings me to …

8. My Gold’s Gym membership. I’m not sure you could call me an exercise addict because I’d have to be stick thin to qualify, no? But I am at this place - which is a scant 2 miles from my house - EVERY DAY, SOMETIMES TWICE. I’m not bragging by any means. It’s my outlet for stress, sadness, loneliness and anger. Plus, I found several classes that I just love: BodyJam is sort of like training to be a Britney backup singer or in an R&B music video. I’ve learned a lot of crazy dances and moves. Granted, that rhythm and skill I don’t have in Zumba? Yeah, it applies here too. But it’s way fun to groove to “Party Like a Rock Star” and “Turnin Me On” By Keri Hilson/Lil Wayne. Then there’s BodyAttack which is hard to describe. It’s like boot camp – you run in place and do calisthenics and jumping jacks until you pass out. I love it. Plus, the instructors are really fun and the people in the classes are not tan, anorexic cougars like back home....they're real people.

9. Facebook. True to its advertising, it’s my connection to my friends and family. And when you’re often alone for 8-hour stretches, it’s vital to my sanity.

10. The Husband. Aw, I know, sap. But he is my rock here. My best friend and … the only one I know in this city other than my Aveda Institiute hair stylist – and that’s only because it took about three and a half hours to make me a blonde yesterday, so we had some time to chat.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So how'd you find me?

Here are some awesome things people Google and end up at my blog, according to my site stats:

Jello shot wife Texas (I’d like to meet her!)

larger than 5 ounce jello shot container (what’s with all the Jello referrals? Oh yeah)

san antonio craigslist personals dont work (Do you really need to google it to figure that out?)

antonio zumba ohio (eh, boring)

TUBE HUSWIFE (this is from Greece and my page comes up with about 30 or so porn pages…I bet this guy (girl?) was really disappointed to find my me bitching about hot weather instead of a kinky “huswife”

Myleene Davis + scam (someone else who’s been burned by WB digitals Media)

real next door house wife tubes (is this popular in Greece?)

Keeping Austin Wierd

I’m a little bit in love with Austin.

No offense, San Anton.

It was a rough week for me so The Husband and I decided to get away for the weekend. Thanks to Marriott rewards, we stayed at a fabu hotel a block away from Austin’s famous Sixth Street. The area is completely dead during the day, save a few panhandlers who try to trick you into believing they’re not ACTUALLY panhandlers, but people providing you with vital information. One tried to explain to The Husband about debit card vs. credit card fees. Except he was way wrong and way drunk.

Oddly, we’ve been in Texas for almost two months and have YET to go to a barbeque place. Probably out of fear I will become morbidly obese after one bite of brisket. That’s one thing I noticed…everyone has their favorite barbeque place here. And they all claim to be “true barbeque – very rustic.” What does this mean, exactly? I like frills like actual tables and napkins and sanitary cooking conditions…

So, we ventured to “world famous” (because every BBQ joint is, you know) Stubb’s. I have to say … it is on my top list of favorite BBQ joints … but probably because I’ve only been to a handful in my life, and one of them is Famous Dave’s.

We walked around the UT campus because I thought I would get to be a Longhorn this fall since I am taking classes at University of Texas at San Antonio. But I was wrong…apparently UTSA is NOT an extension of UT at Austin. The school even has its own athletic department. So, this fall I will be a UTSA … wait for it … Roadrunner. (mee meep)
Oh well…I bought a UT t-shirt anyway…even if it IS going against Buckeye law

My favorite neighborhood in Austin has to be SoCo where the best candy store resides: Big Top. You can buy scorpion and grub suckers and every candy you can think of from every country. I opted for gummy worms because I am all about the chewy gooey.

And, while I am getting used to Texas heat, after four hours outside on a 103 degree day, I was showing signs of heat exhaustion (read: I was complaining) so we went back to the hotel to glam it up for our night on Sixth Street.

Note: Nothing happens on Sixth Street until after 8 p.m.

We realized this at 6 p.m. while sitting in an empty Thirsty Nickel listening to a band ... set up.

Sigh.

So we searched for a place to eat a semi-healthy meal. I know, right? But I had already exceeded my caloric intake for the day at Stubb’s so we ended up at Parkside – which stuck out like a sore thumb among the Tex Mex joints on this road. The outside advertised the best hamburgers in Texas but was actually more of an oyster and raw bar. Huh? I had an awesome fig and steak salad and wondered if you are actually supposed to eat the entire fig or just the inside – anyone?

After dinner we mosey-ed (heh) to Maggie Mae's for blues on the patio and then hit the roof top bar. It was so fun. I remember when Cleveland had this kind of entertainment (the Basement – I miss you).

Also, a note: You know you’ve acclimated to Texas when you’re wearing jeans and it’s 97 degrees out. Because…you have to wear your jeans and boots on Sixth Street. Except for me, espadrilles were substituted for boots. Sorry, I am just not there yet.

Sunday we headed to Lake Austin, which I thought would be awesome for relaxing in the sun. Um, no. I’m sure it’s a nice area, just not what I had in mind for a relaxing day on the beach. So we headed to the Hula Hut for lunch and mai tais (yes, we drink a lot on the weekends…) It was right on the water and you sort of forget you’re in Texas for awhile (until someone comes in wearing a cowboy hat). It really did remind us of Waikiki – kitsch and all. Hawaii I miss you!

All in all…a great weekend, but I wish it would have been a tad cooler. Maybe in November…

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This fire's a burnin'

Here’s something I never had to deal with in rain-sodden Cleveland: Brush fires. Right now there’s a bad one just north of us and I really hope it doesn’t come any closer. I feel so bad for those firefighters – it’s 105 degrees in the brush, along with 200 degree flames. That can’t be an easy day at the office.

Sorry this isn’t light and witty – but it IS a part of life in South Texas. I’ve uploaded some pics below. (Yes, it'd be great if I had a camera made in the millenium with an optical zoom wouldn't it? Ahem, my wedding anniversary AND birthday are coming up...)




The white you see is the smoke from the fire....Oh! and check out our view of downtown San Anton.
Notice the construction site next door. Yeah...it's nice waking up to 6 a.m. hammering. Just HOW LONG does it take to build a house?

The plume of smoke is the center of the fire.



OK you get the idea...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Weather Alert

People in Cleveland like to joke that “if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes” because it’s not unusual to see an 80-degree morning and drive home from work in a snowstorm.

But Cleveland ain’t got nothin’ on San Antonio’s weather.

I just got home from a FIVE–HOUR wait at the Volkswagen dealership (and they didn’t even wash my care – what are we? In a drought?) for a recall on my Jetta and it was sunny, glorious, and I was considering grabbing a book and sitting in the sun. Ten minutes later I am chasing our garbage cans down the street in 40-mph winds (and I do mean down – we’re on a steep hill).




I am seriously scared of the storms here. I half-expect to see a cow fly by à la Twister - oh wait, I think that movie was set in Oklahoma.

Maybe they just look scarier because of all the dust whirling around (because have I mentioned? We’re in a drought). And because of this drought you’d think we’d all be happy to see those rain clouds rumbling in right?


(Note the trash can - that's not ours. It's from up the street)

Except, they’re not bringing rain.

Thunder? Check.

Lightening? Check.

Hurricane-force winds? Defintely check.

Rain? Sorry, all out.

I did get my fill of torrential downpours over the weekend in Dallas. The Husband had to go there for a week-long seminar so I decided to tag along ….but that also meant I had to drive separately. But after 25+ hours in a car – what’s 4.5? phhsaww.

Dallas, you can have your ego and your overpriced boots. I’ll take San Antonio any day. Is it me or is there no life in downtown Dallas? The Husband and I went down to see the site of JFK’s assassination and hopefully catch some Dallas flavor at a bar or two.

When we gave our car to the valet he excitedly pointed out the T.G. I Friday’s across the street.

Huh?

Oh, and a Mexican place next door. Um, I’ve had my fill of Mexican food, you know, living in the Mexican epicenter of Texas and all. Bring on the steakhouses! Where are they? Come to think of it that Chili’s along the tollway seemed a bit too crowded for a city so close to stockyards full of yummy cows. What gives?

And…for the first time someone since I arrived in the Lone Star State I was cold. COLD. It was 74 degrees in Dallas - a full 30 degrees colder than when I got in my car that morning. I had to BUY A SWEATER because - stupid me - I packed nothing but sundresses and tank tops – my uniform back home in San Anton.

And it was raining. So much that there was no way I could maneuver myself around a strange city to do any sightseeing. I settled for Plano (where our hotel was) and its sea of …strip malls. It looks exactly like a suburb of Chicago. Or Columbus. It, literally, was Anytown, USA.

Needless to say I drove back home three days early. Ahhh. Home, sweet home. And look! The sun is out again!

Friday, July 24, 2009

My life sometimes mirrors an ’80s sitcom

In Texas, regular pest control is a must or else you’ll end up with an infestation of some sort and I don’t want it to be snakes . The owners of the house have quarterly pest management services (This is the PC term for this – NOT EXTERMINATOR. A year at a pest control magazine taught me useless information such as this).

We scheduled the visit for today – sometime between 2 and 4 pm. Great! Plenty of time! I get home from the gym at 11:30, hop in the shower and at noon I am walking to switch the clothes from washer to the dryer in the laundry room wearing a towel – just a towel – and I see a skinny white kid (with a blond 'fro I might add) at my door.

He can see inside the house.

And he can see me.

Apparently this is not like the cable guy that requires you to block off an eight-hour chunk of your day only to have him show up 5 minutes before that time expires. I appreciate promptness – I do. But not a full two hours before you’re due.

So I throw on moist clothes from the pile and walk to the door. “Colton” looks about 12 and I swear he must think this is his Mrs. Robinson moment. And I swear this happened on an episode of "Three’s Company."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear San Antonio Highway System:

Your roads don’t make any kind of sense and I am in no way navigationally retarded. I pride myself on my keen sense of direction but your “North-South” routes when you really mean “East-West” are really making me eat my words. And your "loops"? Yeah, your loops can suck it because they don't make me get anywhere faster.

Please fix!

Hugs and rainbows,
Amanda

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1999 called....

According to my new Yahoo customized homepage (just for me!) – of which I did not ask for, nor understand how the design is “better and easier to navigate!” than the old version – these are the top five searches today:

Taco Bell Chihuah…
LeAnn Rimes
International Spa…
Tiger Woods
Bark Scorpion

Is my “new and improved” homepage from 1999? Does anyone really care what the Taco Bell Chihuahua and LeAnn Rimes are up to? Unless they are going to be contestants on the next Surreal Life I’m not impressed “new and improved!” Yahoo! Homepage.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things totally bothering me right now

Someone should have warned us about the feasibility of kayaking during a drought. Because now I can tell my children I walked the Guadalupe River. Yes, that’s right. We probably spent three of our four-mile trip dragging 40 lbs. kayaks behind us while we trudged through a river of slippery, algae-covered rock. Not quite the afternoon I was hoping for.

The Real Estate market in my neighborhood is booming. It’s a nice change from The Great Depression going on in Cleveland right now except…. Do we really need to start wielding the hammers and pouring concrete at 7 a.m.? There are two houses under construction next door and all day. Also? Take a look at what’s just outside my door:



Yep, every time one of these guys takes a leak I have to hear about it.


The Husband has coined the term Mexnecks – the Mexican version of a redneck - to describe the trashy people in our neighborhood who partied on their driveway on Saturday night – they even brought their living room furniture out for more seating. And there were more than a few toddlers wandering around IN THE STREET wearing nothing but a diaper.

The Husband is in South Carolina for the week and I am bored out of my mind. The Army doesn’t pay for wives to travel with their husbands and it was a $400 plane ticket. So that’s why I am here, alone, in San Antonio, with nothing but a computer and two cats to keep me company.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Shake it ‘til you make it

There are three things I just don’t have: rhythm, mad dance skillz and flava.

I’ve been taking Zumba classes for more than a year now. In Ohio, the classes were nonstop cardio for an hour to power pop – like Beyonce. Yes, you can Zumba to “Single Ladies.”

But here? In a city with a dense Latino population? You better bring it because these ladies have moves. I feel a little bit like a bull in a china shop at my Zumba classes now. There are dance steps to get right. There is shouting and “whoop!” ing and songs I’ve never heard with words I can’t understand – except “cholo” and I do know that one should “lean like a cholo” if he wants respect.

Last night I was called out for doing a dance move wrong. CALLED OUT. As in, “No, no, no! You need to snap your hips more, honey. You look like you have to go to the bathroom. Class, let’s show her how it’s done.”

And yes, Latinos did come up with the Macarena … but I think it was solely to make white people look like asses. Have you ever actually seen a Latino do the Macarena? It’s the same reason Snoop Dog came up with “fo shizzle.” No respectable person in the black community would talk like that. But white people? Yeah, we’ve been using the phase in earnest since 2003.

Snoop and the fellows from Los Del Rio are laughing at us right now from their million-dollar mansions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rollin' on a Rver

Over the weekend The Husband and I went river tubing. No, this isn’t the sport where you’re pull behind a boat. River tubing consists of laying in an inner tube and drinking while the current takes you slowly down the Guadalupe River. That's it.

There is no way this would ever be a sport in Cleveland. Clevelanders cannot be trusted to drink responsibly in public. Someone would die during a tragic drinking accident and they’d put up guard rails along the river or something (ahem, The Flats, I'm lookin' at you).

But here in Texas? It’s encouraged to drink in public. In large quantities. They sell beer by the 48-pack. And…get this… It's illegal to bring containers smaller than 5 ounces, Too many people were taking Jello shots and casting the cups along their way down the river - thus clogging up drain pipes. So, you can bring your Jello shots - and we were the only ones without them - but they have to be in larger cups. People, this issue was the top story on the 5:00 news last week. It’s a huge deal.

We brought a measily 12-pack of Miller Lite and the woman renting us the tubes was all, “That’s it?” She gave us a tube cooler to keep the beer cold. Little did I know just how “serious” of a sport this is around here. I compare it to tailgating in the Muni lot. There were chicken wings, sandwiches, round coolers specifically made to fit inside of a tube, tubes with speakers blaring country music (sigh), tube-top GRILLS – even bumper stickers FOR the cooler that says “I’d rather be toobin’” (yes, they spell it that way).

It’s a surreal feeling when you know everyone around you had the same thought you did when they got up: “Hey, I don’t have anything better to do on a sunny 100-degree summer day, why not float on a river?” The feeling of camaraderie just would not happen in Ohio where people tend to stick to themselves or in their groups. Every once in a while your tube would wander into someone else’s party and instead of exchanging apologetic looks, you exchange friendly heys and where-y’all-froms.

By the way, almost everyone on that river that day had an Ohio connection – and they all thought I knew that person because, you know, how big can Ohio be? People actually live there? That’s another thing: South Texans cannot comprehend life below 50 degrees. They go to the beach for Thanksgiving because there are less tourists and they hang Christmas lights on their palm trees in the front yard. They’ve heard of snow and have seen it once or twice in their lives but they can’t imagine voluntarily living in a region where you can only pull out the tank tops about three months out of the year.

And after last Saturday, neither can I.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Such a tease

An update soon about my weekend that included Honky Tonk and floating on a river with a case of beer. I'm not even kidding. This is what I did: http://www.shantytubes.com/

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hot Hot Heat

Just in case you think I am exaggerating...


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Things I Never Worried About In Cleveland

Heat Stroke after no less than 40 min. outside. I’m not kidding, people die here like Cleveland midges during mating season. Right now we’re under a Level 2 heat advisory … sort of the reverse Winter Weather Advisory – you’re not supposed to spend time outside unless completely necessary (like working on my Texas tan, for example.)

Lack of water. San Antonio is actually built over an aquifer and it’s at “dangerously low levels” right now. This means no watering the lawn, no filling of pools and no car washing. Considering Cleveland was flooding the last time I checked this is an odd concept to get used to. No one cares about their lawn here – because they’re all the same color: straw. The funny thing is that my landlord has a lawn care company (!) and they came out today (!) ….and “mowed” the straw. Am I crazy to think this is a waste of resources? In 101 degree weather (see above).

Getting heat stroke while getting the mail. Postal workers have it easy here. All of the mailboxes in my neighborhood are in one place – and that’s up a steep hill in brain-frying heat. I don’t care how stupid I look driving 50 feet for mail.

Snakes. With intimidating-sounding names like Diamond-Backed Water Snake, Speckled Kingsnake, Western Coachwhip and Desert King Snake! There is a field behind my backyard and two empty lots on either side of us that apparently make ideal living conditions for these things. I saw a news story on snakes crawling up water pipes and it makes me more than a little nervous.

Finding a good beer. If it’s not Tecate, Lone Star or Budweiser, you need to go to “one ‘o’ them fancy-like beer stores” for microbrews. I miss you, Dortmunder. I am also missing Christmas in July and it makes me want to cry a little.

Throwing something away. You get one trash bin and one recycling bin for all of your week’s garbage needs to fit into that. Do you have any idea how many trees the moving company wasted on packing up our shit? We have no less than 20 boxes full of paper. It will take us three years to dispose of all of that! Oh and theer are NO garbage pickers in San Anton. I miss watching people clabber for broken televisions and headboards RIGHT OUTSIDE OF MY DOOR.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Go West, Young Woman

Ok, Ok, for those of you who want a story about my Westward, Wagon Ho! Trip I am breaking it down into bullets because:

A. I despise long narratives and,
B.You’re more likely to read bullet points. It’s a proven editorial trick.

Now onto my trip:

- Who knew two cats would get into an all-out cage match even after being drugged with vet tranquilizers? And, if you’ve never given a pet a tranquilizer, it’s highly entertaining. They walk around bumping into things and slur their meows so it sounds like “rrrrooooowwwlll?”

In other words, me after about three glasses of pinot noir.

And yes, my cats meow in question format.

- How come when you NEED a Wal-Mart there are none in sight? We had to travel hundreds of miles to get a SECOND cage for the cats. Isn’t Kentucky Wal-Mart Country???

- We stayed at a hotel about two miles into Kentucky because I was determined to get to ANOTHER state by sundown on our first day. Yeah, we had to wait until the movers left at, oh 4 p.m. to leave. Who takes 7 hours to pack a house, you ask? Movers getting paid by the hour by the U.S. Army, that’s who. Anyway, the woman at the front desk had a slooow Southern drawl and only a few teeth. This was two miles into the Bluegrass State, folks. I was frightened for the miles ahead of me…

- Did you know there is absolutely NOTHING but a few Shoney’s restaurants between Lexington Kentucky and Nashville Tennessee?

- Same goes for Memphis through Texarkana, Texas. I almost fell asleep at the wheel because for 400 miles all I saw were:
1. Adult video mart billboards
2. Shoney’s restaurants
3. Trucks

- We had to have a nightly stealth-like operation to get two yowling cats into “No Pets Allowed” hotels. I seriously climbed through a window for those fucking felines. yet they allow children to stay at the hotel and scream steadily for hours at a time? Injustice. And I can only wonder what the cleaning ladies thought of our disposable litter boxes we left behind.

- I have never seen traffic until I had to merge through EIGHT LANES OF TRAFFIC in Dallas. Eight. On each side of the highway. Not to mention most of the highways are built up high so you sort of feel like you’re driving on a roller coaster…or in the future. I swear the TDOT got its inspiration for its freeway system from old episodes of “The Jetsons.”

- Say what you want … but I bet no one knew Waco existed until David Koresh.

- They have Ikea in Texas! So, everything is NOT bigger because I have yet to find a piece of furniture in that store that would comfortably seat anyone over 5’6”.

- It took us 25 hours, 23 min. and 45 seconds to get to our final resting place. If Jim and I hadn’t driven in separate cars we may not be married anymore.


- Our first night in San Antonio went like this: check in to Residence Inn, go out and drink pitchers of margaritas and copious amounts of food I can’t pronounce. Life is good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Five Misconceptions About San Antonio

1. “They all have a southern accent.” If you consider Spanish an accent, well then, sure. It’s so awkward feeling like a stupid tourist everywhere we go because I can’t pronounce the Spanish menu items. Which leads me to…

2. “They really like their barbeque in Texas.” Everywhere but San Antonio that is. There is literally a Mexican restaurant at every corner. Each is “authentic” and each tastes exactly like the other one you tried last night, and the night before. The best part? The one person we know here LOVES his Chipotle. And he’s Hispanic. (Note: There are surpisingly few Taco Bells)

3. “Everything’s bigger.” EXCEPT the tiny streets that don’t fit everyone’s American-Made-And-Proud-Of-It-Four-Wheel-Drive-Truck. I seriously feel claustrophobic in my little Jetta. Which sticks out almost as much as our Saab SUV. If it ain’t American here…you get funny looks. Ironic because there is a Toyota plant nearby and I actually saw a sticker that said “My Toyota was proudly built in Texas.” Kind of an oxymoron, no?

4. “You’ll have to listen to country music.” Um, more like Latino rap. It’s everywhere. In fact, I awake each morning with the sound of Pitbull screaming from the boombox of the construction guys next door. Latinos? They get crazy…as do Blanquitas and Negritas and …Yo Mama. I have no idea what nationality Blanquitas and Negritas are, but they get crazy.

5. “It’s hot.” No, no … it’s not hot. It’s SIZZLING according to Al Roker. Go stick your head in an oven and set it to 425 degrees because THAT is how hot my leather seats are after basking in the blazing sun for two hours. Our first official Texas purchase (OK, besides Mexican food….) was a windshield cover because, Amanda? She gets crazy in the heat. The good thing that is after two weeks I think my blood has thinned enough that I find 99 tolerable. Any higher than that and I get a bit, shall we say… cranky?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Maybe I should have listened to the warnings

...because San Antonio is HOT.

Like Africa hot.

RIDUCULOUS hot.

HOTT.

Sweat-though-your-shorts-hot.

Even the wind is hot.

and...to quote my garbage man "Hotter than a bitches titty hot."

San Antonio = hot

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

But that train keeps rollin' on down to San Antone.

And....we're off! Next time I log on I will be in the Lone Star State - sweating. I am sure I will have plenty of stories to tell about about the pregnant mover (!), drugging two cats for a 25 hour trip and maintaining my sanity and regularity on a steady diet of crap food because the movers packed up everything in my house a day early. EVERYTHING. I didn't realize this until I sat down to go to the bathroom.

and on that note....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I’m pretty sure the automated customer service voice for my phone company just picked a fight with me

I had to call to cancel services and, because we are no longer living in 2002, I called with my cell phone. We didn’t even have a phone hooked up in our house until I needed to use our fax machine a few weeks ago. I haven’t even looked at a bill since 2005. Why did I need three-way calling again? And an unlisted phone number? Because of all the stalkers calling a number with no phone attached?

My conversation:

ATT asshole automated voice: Hello, and what can I help you with today? Please say your request clearly.

Me (speaking slowly and crystal clearly): I need to cancel my ATT services

ATT asshole automated voice: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Please repeat.

Me (speaking louder, because everyone understands you better while shouting into the phone): I.Need. To. Cancel. My. SERVICES!

ATT asshole automated voice (using his automated condescending tone): OK I see you are calling from 216-###-#### (again, my cell phone) we do not have that phone number on file. Are you sure you have an account with us? Please say the number attached to your account now.

Me: 216-###-#### (my home number)

ATT asshole automated voice: OK, let me just pull up your information then.

**waiting, waiting, waiting***

ATT asshole automated voice: I am transferring you to a live customer service rep, please hold.

Me: D’oh! What is the point of the automated service if you can’t service me!!! Stupid-dummy-computer voice!

Cue slow jazz Muzak. This is 2009, you’d think they’d want something more upbeat while I wait. Perhaps some Beyonce? Black Eyed Peas? I could totally rock out to "Boom Boom Pow!" while dealing with phone ’tards.

**20-freaking-minutes later**

Live customer service script reader: Hello Mrs. (insert my maiden name), I see you want to cancel your services and I am very sorry to hear that. Can you tell me the reason?

Me: Yes, I’m moving to Texas and no longer need a phone…in Ohio.

Live customer service script reader now going off script: Ah, it’s definitely warm down there!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

By The Numbers

Pounds of taco meat made for nephew’s Mexican-themed graduation party: 12

Number of freshly graduated 18 year old boys who helped consume said meat: 20

Cans of 5 lbs. pre-made nacho cheese purchased: 4

Dares made to drink entire can of nacho cheese: 2

Number of people who collected on dare: 0

Gallons of lemonade made: 8

Number of people who likely thought said lemonade was margarita mix but already committed to a glass: 10

Times my father bitched about the foamy beer in the keg: 30+

Times he offered to get ice to ensure foam would dissapate: 0

Beers he drank from said foamy keg: 8

Times my father made dirty jokes about cornhole: 10

Times this made me feel like I was in an episode of All in the Family: 8

Bad jokes told about illegal Mexicans and the foreseen quality of landscaping in my yard in San Antonio: 9

Number of Hawaiian shirts: 4

Number of relatives present who did not even know I was married (although he had attended our WEDDING): 1

Times temperature was mentioned upon learning of our move to Texas: 100,000

….or River Walk: 100

…or the Alamo: 50

…Or referenced Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: 3

Time youngest nephew strategically woke up to help clean up the next day: 1 p.m.

Number of times I cried after saying goodbye to someone: 6

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hell is slightly cooler than Texas

People, I am just not manufactured for hot weather. I sweat - a LOT, I have really thick hair and when it's hot - even my hair follicles sweat. And today, cold chills went down my back when I looked at the forecast in San Antonio for the next 10 days.

ThuJun 11
Partly Cloudy
101°

FriJun 12
Partly Cloudy
102°

SatJun 13
Partly Cloudy
102°F

SunJun 14
Mostly Sunny
100°F

MonJun 15
Sunny
100°

TueJun 16
Sunny
99°

WedJun 17
Sunny
99°

ThuJun 18
Sunny
97°F

FriJun 19
Sunny
98°

Somebody hold me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Set Adrift On Memory Bliss

There are only three reasons people ring my doorbell in my neighborhood:

Jehovah’s Witnesses who want to help me get into heaven (too late. I'm hoping perhaps I am allowed a small box fan in hell? You know, for all of those Girl Scout cookies I've purchased to help better tomorrow's young women?)

A “troubled youth” selling magazine subscriptions (or candy, or wrapping paper or ... fruit. Yes, the day I buy fruit from the door-to-door salesman with dirty fingernails is the day you should take me to the "special place" at the hospital)

Someone whose car broke down "a few streets over" and just needs "$3" for the bus. (But if all you have is a $5, that's better)

But today? A guy pounded on my door and asked if he could take the rad collection of cassette tapes that were on my tree lawn awaiting their fate in the garbage truck.

And that’s when I realized that there is still one PM Dawn fan left in the world. And I shouldn't stand in way of someone who can truly appreciate a rap love song mixed with the smooth smooth melody of Spandau Ballet’s “True.”

I know this much is true.

Monday, June 8, 2009

“Uncle!”

In the nine weeks (!) I’ve been unemployed…I have been rejected 12 times.

Well, I wish I could say I knew with certainty that I’d been rejected, because no one has ever bothered to call me or e-mail me to tell me, “Your resume was impressive but we went with someone with [insert lame reason, like someone more “local” even though I am moving there in two weeks, or “younger” meaning they think I want a lot of money. Seriously? As long as it’s more than the $350 or so I make a week in unemployment I don’t really care about the amount of zeros at the end of the salary.]

I didn’t even get one of those generic postcards that let everyone know – even my postal guy – that I am not qualified for whatever job I applied for. “…But thanks for your interest!”

..and I really don't believe they keep those resumes on file for a year.

What’s that? Maybe I should stop applying for Manager of Rocket Science At Really Important Global Company?

I wish it were that easy.

I am applying for entry-level positions here. And clerical jobs. I applied for a part-time assistant office manager for chissake. Do office managers really need assistants? Isn’t that…what the office manager is for? To assist with the office and manage its “complex” inner workings of planning the holiday party and sorting the office supplies?

I have even been witty and said in my cover letters “I bet you think I want a huge salary to go with my impressive resume, huh? Nope. I just want to mark ‘employed’ on the lease of our rental in Texas.”

Nothing.

Nada.

I am so going to be peddling overpriced lotion at Bath and Body Works. Or slinging lattes at Starbucks. Both jobs of which I have had prior experience. But those nine years of journalism experience? Not important in “today’s economic downturn.”

The economy can suck it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Smooth Move

Yesterday the moving company people came over to inventory our house for the truck. They left some “useful” pamphlets and stuff about how this will be the Smoothest Move We’ve Ever Had!

The info is great … but the pictures are better. The marketing department had fun with this one.

For example …




Yep, this man is packing up a fish. Whose does that? I totally hope it breaks into "Gimme back my Filet 'O Fish" and this guy freaks out (or decides to hit up a McD's for lunch - either way, McDonalds' marketing department wins) . And he’s totally violating one of the rules in the pamphlet: no perishables. Next...



Why is this guy huffing a box around on his back? Is he in training and this is, like, his hazing? Can’t he not borrow that dolly from Mr. Condescending I Can Move Four Boxes At Once? Plus, that’s totally gonna fuck up your back, dude. You better not carry my Crate and Barrel dishes like that. We’ll have words.





"Have a question about your move? We’ll put you in touch with sexually confused Tom here. And his teeth glow in the dark"




"Ah, it’s great to be in my new home even though my cheap ass husband only bought me this one daisy."




"Let’s just relax on the kitchen floor here as a family. And hey, let me just get to second base here with my wife while my small children watch." (and…dude? Kurt Cobain called - he wants his jeans back)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You didn't expect a blog about unemployment to be a complete whine-free zone did you?

I only have 20 more days left in the Land of the Cleves and, well, I’m really bored. I thought my days here would be crazy busy – trying to squeeze in as much friend time as possible. Turns out … no. Most of my friends have jobs.

I am starting to feel a bit like Bill Murrey a la "Groundhog Day." My days generally go as follows:
-Wake up
-Work out
-Sit at computer, look for jobs, email friends, write sinfully witty blogs for my loyal fans.
-Eat lunch
-Work out (again, yes. If I’m gonna be unemployed, I might as well be in the best shape of my life.)
-Eat dinner/drink copious amounts of cheap wine
-TV
-Sleep

Sometimes I will also wander around aimlessly at Target and I’ve also rented the entire new release wall at Hollywood Video. The 17-year old Twilight-obsessed, Hot Topic shopping goth kid at the desk knows my name.

I’m going absolutely nuts here! Yesterday I talked to the mailman for ten minutes. I was just excited to hear someone else’s voice other than my own. Yeah, that’s right. I talk to myself – and the cats. You have a steady, busy full-time occupation taken away from you and we’ll see just how SANE you are after two months, buddy.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I could volunteer at an animal shelter or soup kitchen. Better myself. Go to a library. Teach a child to read. Yeah, people have it worse than me.

But, this is MY blog. I’ll whine if I want to.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Construction Zone

When we bought our house four years ago, we really thought it was “move-in ready.” Until the pipes burst in the bathroom. And we realized our taste in kitchen fixtures did not match the previous owner’s (a BLUE sink? With brass trim. Just … no. And he had used contact paper as the wallpaper. Did you know that contact paper is permenent? Yep.) And I realized I wanted a subtle NEUTRAL living room instead of the dark green cave we created with “Forest Glen” paint. And the deck became a condemned space because it was so rickety (read: poorly built) And I realized I really CAN’T live without air conditioning. And Jim decided we needed to tear down the entire basement ceiling because … he couldn’t recreate the way the previous owner had painted the swirlies. And Mr. Cat McVomitsALot set up camp in the office and ruined the carpet. And we finally scraped enough money to replace the original tile (in our 50 year old home) in the bathroom. Oh the many feet that have touched that dingy black and white floor.

Ah but who doesn’t like a home improvement project? The people on the Home Depot commercials always look so happy to be forking over dollars to do it themselves.

Jim and I? Not exactly Do-It-Yourselfers.

So we’ve hired help along the way for many of the projects. Let me tell you, it is REALLY hard to find a normal, honest contractor in the Cleveland area. We find them through referrals and they’ve all done a great job (read: We have no idea but we did know we couldn’t do it). But they’ve all been just a little … off.

First, the guy we hired to do base molding in all of the rooms downstairs resembled Owen Wilson and had an unhealthy infatuation with one of my cats. Every day he would comment “She’s just such a pretty cat. I love cats.” I was afraid I’d come home one day and find the two of them snuggling up on the couch watching Animal Planet. Or he would be in the kitchen frying her up for dinner.

Then, the guy we hired to finish the basement was like five "Seinfeld" episodes in one pudgy middle-aged man. His hair looked like a five year old had taken a pair of safety scissors to it. He had perpetual dragon's breath.

And he liked to talk. A lot.

About the weather, construction, the economy, Cleveland, the Indians, his childhood, the weather in Florida (don’t ask .. it’s a 40-min. conversation), his divorce, his children’s mother and their relationship, his daughter’s illness, his acid reflux, his credit score, his political views, his view on abortion, his view on Obama, his view on vegetarians … In the five days he spent in our house I learned things about him no one needs to know in a strictly contractor-client relationship.

[Editor's note: It should be noted (because if Jim is reading this he will point it out) that Jim and his dad did the majority of the home renovations – just the two of them. Impressive right? They have their own quirks though. My father-in-law’s meals mainly consist of four things: chicken fingers, rice with butter, Pepsi, and fries. And anything else must be grouped into the Things That Are White category: deli turkey, mashed potatoes, white bread biscuits and gravy … That man's passion for carbs runs deep.]

Now, right this very minute, there is yet another contractor in my house finishing up some base molding upstairs. He is, for all intents and purposes, normal.

Except … he whistles while he works. All. Day. Long. If I hear "Zip-a-dee-do-dah" one more time today it will NOT be a wonderful day for him.

However, he doesn’t like cats though, and he’s not much of a talker. And ... he's almost done.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Face(book)ing The Cold, Hard Truth

Over the past year I too caught onto the Facebook craze, leaving my MySpace account to wonder “Was it something I said?” Everyone is on Facebook. Everyone. My nephew, my cousins, high school friends, college friends, sorority sisters, former co-workers, former bosses (!), my MOTHER, even Dick F*cking Goddard! We’ve all reunited in cyberspace and I now know what my ex-boyfriend in high school had for dinner last night and all of my friends can see me drunkenly making love to a bottle of vodka in high school thanks to picture tagging.

Don’t get me wrong. I love catching up with old friends. I love seeing pictures of their kids and what they do for a living (and I love explaining to them that I am unemployed. For the fourth time. It makes me seem really successful.) But…there are some things I just don’t need to know about my fellow Facebookers:

· What you did five minutes ago. Or ten minutes ago. Basically, if you update your Facebook status every hour … Your life is not that exciting. Because if it was? You wouldn’t be on Facebook in the first place.

· That you wish it was 5:00

· That you hate Mondays.

· That you wish it was Friday.

· That you wish it was still the weekend. We get it.

· That you are a fan of Raisinettes

· That you “sent” me a “cocktail.” I am unemployed bitches. Send me the real thing!

· That you are a fan of rainbows

· What ’80s song best describes you

· What Beverly Hills 90210 character you are

· That you want me to join your mafia family in a war. What does this even mean? Are we fighting? Are you having someone killed? Is there a Facebook app for that too?

· That you don’t like the new Facebook layout

· That you have thrown a shoe at me.

· What your errands are for the day.

I’m gonna make some frenemies with this post I know it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where the Streets Have Odd Names

I think the Street Naming People in San Antonio are having trouble keeping up with the urban sprawl. Here is a list of street names I’ve come across while searching for rental houses:

Dull Knife Way (Or, where Freddie Krueger retired when he was done terrorizing sex-crazed teenagers on Elm street)

Pony Corral (unfortunately access to actual ponies was not listed among the home’s amenities.)

Rebel Grove (so much cooler than the Passive-Aggressive Grove two streets over)

Cpt. Steubing Ship Road (in this neighborhood, all of the streets have a nautical theme, which begs the question: Was "Loveboat" their inspiration?)

Cat Mesa (Rowllll.)

Lion Moon Road (It’s like they pulled two names out of a hat “Lion…Moon. Let’s just go with that.” Other suggested names: Dog Hat Drive, Car Tree Ave., Bird Milk Court)

Rocky Balboa Drive (formerly Apollo Creed Drive - until the big event in 1982)

Chivalry (Everyone’s really polite on this road. Ba dum bum! Thanks folks, I’ll be here all night.)

Crooked Stick Ave. (heh. I am 8 years old.)

Boatman Pier (Not even close to a body of water. Or a pier. Or boats.)

The Bends (Baby’s got 'em)

Dill Weed Run (Dumbass Road was taken)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

Because I am a busy girl (OK, that's a lie.) I didn't see that I had a gaggle of people comment on my Craigslist post. Apparently when you google "WB Digital Media," you get my blog post.

I am now providing a valuable public service!

I am validated.

... And flattered anyone but my family (Hi Ed!) and friends (Hi Krissy!) would read my ramblings.

I should probably spellcheck and proofread now, huh? Perhaps my next employer will read this ... Scott Dalton - holla at a boo!

Someone tell me there is a fountain of free beer flowing in my backyard

...because I could really use some good news right about now. The Husband's Army doc refuses to release him as "fit" for the Army because he had heart stent surgery in March and now takes Plavix to prevent blood clots because, um, he doesn't need to be the youngest heart patient in the hospital twice. He has to jump through some alternative hoops to get clearance.

He wants me to stay positive.

Hi, I'm sorry Positive ... have we met? Because thinking about you has never garnered good results. And frankly, I am just not an optimist.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Oh! and the Cavs lost! And I have ZERO job prospects in either city! And I'm pretty sure The Real Failure of Cleveland blog will not be as exciting for my four(!) followers.

**sound of me being kicked while down**


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Case You Didn't Know

Here is a list of “useful” tidbits people thought necessary to let me in on over the past few weeks when I told them I was moving to Texas:

“It’s hot there.”

“That’s a big state.”

“You’ll be close to Mexico.”

“They have the best barbeque.”

“That’s far away from Ohio.”

"They call it the Lone Star State"

“They have Texan accents.”

“Kelly Clarkson is from Texas.”

“It gets really hot there in the summer.”

“It’s really hot there in the spring.”

“It’s hot there year-round.”

“It’s a dry heat… unless you’re in the southern part of the state. Then it’s not.”

“I think it rains a lot there.”

“There are a lot of Mexicans there.”

"I think the State Flower is a magnolia."

And my favorite:

“The Alamo has no basement.”

(That’s a shout-out from “PeeWee’s Big Adventure.” Rent it.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Say Cheese and Crackers!

My nephew posted some of his senior pictures on Facebook. I have to say, senior portraits have certainly changed since I got them in … ahem … 1995. He’s all artsy with his guitar and they actually look like they came from a Spin magazine photo shoot.

There was no gigantic number signifying the graduation year; no leaning, arms crossed, against a tree; no peek-a-boo shot out of the barn window; no awkward pose on a bale of hay because … you know, that really says "this is the last photo you will see of me sober until my wedding photos -cherish it and put it in your wallet!"

Now that I think about it, why were photographers in the ’90s so obsessed with country settings? We lived in the suburbs of Toledo for chrissake. I should have been leaning against the wall of the nearest strip mall.

My senior picture was the classic “look at yourself pensively in this mirror on the table in front of you” pose. I’m not even kidding. I’d post it here but I really try to forget those awkward teenage years before I found my friends eyebrow tweezer and hair pomade.

Maybe it’s time for some retakes. The funny thing? I still own the sweater I am wearing in my senior picture.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things That Are Easier Than Getting Out Of My Urban Active Gym Contract

Algebra

Child birth (I’m just guessing here)

Closing Guantanamo Bay

Mandarin Chinese

Chess

The U.S. Legislative System

The Indians winning the World Series

Learning the lyrics to “It’s the End of the World as we Know it” by REM

Finishing War and Peace

Understanding Scientologists

Saturday, May 16, 2009

An open letter to the Army

Dear U.S. Army:

Here is a list of things I DO actually need to know about moving to San Antonio:

-How to freeze my mail service even though we have no new address
-How to register my car in Texas
-How to collect unemployment in Texas (I feel like the state of Ohio is all “yes! We lost another one! Someone in accounting gets a bonus!”)
-Suitable neighborhoods in San Antonio
-Does the Army offer career assistance to military spouses?
-How exactly is it that I will survive 25 hours in a car by myself on the drive down there?
-How to hire movers
-When to hire movers
-How to get out of my Urban Active contract
-How to gain access to my medical files so the doctors in Texas will know about my mental disorder
-How to fire the so-called welcome committee people who gave me three maps of San Antonio and no guidance on how to rent a house there.

Here is an actual list of things I now know or have due to our “welcome package:”
-We get discounts to Sea World, Six Flags and Disney World
-The Judson School System is geared to deal with military families
-Events/festivals going on in San Antonio in … May
-Coupons to the Hard Rock Café!
-The Military is one big family …nothing at all like that Lifetime series.

Perhaps when I get there we can discuss possible career opportunities for me in the Family Services and Recreation division of Ft. Sam Houston. I have a feeling I have a lot to bring to this table. We’ll start with coupons to the nearest bar because I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time there.

Thanks!

Amanda

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Or, why don't you just give us your info and we'll steal your identity right now

I got a job!

Or so Janet Baker, HR Assistant Manager at WB Digital Media, would like me to believe.

Logging onto Craigslist is always dicey – you might be murdered or find your soulmate who ALSO likes sploshing ... OR you can get a high-paying job with lots of benefits without even sending a resume!

Desperate times call for desperate measures as they say and yesterday I checked around on the San Antonio craigslist. I came across a job listing for a content producer/copyeditor for Web sites. Sure. I can do that.

This was my message to “Janet.”

“Hi – is this position legitimate? If so, I am interested in learning more.”

This morning…I received this email (I highlighted a few of my favorite parts):

Dear Amanda

In reply to your application for the position at WB Digital Media, I would like to apologize for the delay in getting back to you, the number of applicants from Craigslist has been huge and it has taken quite some time to sort through the junk / spam applications and the serious candidates.

I am however happy to inform you that your resume or I didn't initial details have been reviewed positively and you have progressed to the final stage. We are interested in speakling with you as soon as possible as you meet our qualifications perfectly.

We believe an employee who is well rewarded and motivated is the key to our growth oriented company, for that reason we offer our employees competitive payment and health packages along with other key benefits to be discussed at interview stage.

As part of routine checks on all potential employees who have reached this stage, we require applicants to complete a security / credit check to verify your details. This allows us to weed out false applications, time wasters, illegals and so forth.

Please note: We can not and will not use bad credit to deny your application (your credit history itself is not relevant), a full credit check however does allow us to verify accurately, legal US citizenship, employment history, social security references and a verifiable confirmation of address.
(so does a resume - or an interview - you ass hat)

To get your free report we recommend using this provider or another similar trusted company.

http://check-your-credit-online.com/

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Please DO NOT under any circumstances email us your credit report as it contains confidential information that is purely for your own benefit.
(sooo if you aren't going to see it...you need me to do this why, exactly?)

When the HR department contacts you again shortly with full details on the position, human resources we will simply need some non confidential pieces of information from that report to verify your details.

Once again thank you for your interest in the position, we will be in further contact shortly.

Yours faithfully
(nice touch! she cares, she really does!)

Janet Baker
HR Assistant Manager
WB Digital Media

So, let me get this straight - all I have to do is input sensitive personal information into this web site for my “credit report” and I am on my way to a new career!? Sign. Me. Up.

... But just to be safe...I googled the company. This is what I found:




Sure, sure, it could be down for maintenance but...In case you can't read it, there are glaring grammatical errors. When setting up a sham Web site, you may want to make sure everything is spelled correctly. You know. To seem legitimate.
...Or. maybe this is why they need a copyeditor?

Monday, May 11, 2009

I majored in journalism to get out of math

Because I am retarded in algerbra. So I'd really like to meet the person who meets these requirements:

"High school diploma or equivalent experience with college courses in English, journalism, bookkeeping or accounting (!) is required."

You Should Be Dancin' -yeah!

If you know me, you know I love taking Zumba classes. It’s basically aerobics with some choreography and Latin music. Whenever I tell people I do this they’re really impressed – like I am on Broadway or Dancing with the Stars or something.

As much as I’d like to think I’m a talented dancer – my mother will tell you otherwise. As a kid I was forced to take tap-dancing lessons and parade around in costumes that just would NOT happen outside of a strip club today: One year I wore a tiger-print leotard for my recital. With fish-nets, naturally. Rrrowl. And the next year? I wore the equivalent of a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader uniform. How is it that I didn’t make the career move to stripper?

Oh yes, coordination. I could never perform unless I was watching my feet – So pole dancing would probably be out of the question.

But if you’re scared of Zumba. Let me break it down in the simplest way possible. A typical dance goes something like this:

Grapevine- 4 times
Do the cabbage patch- 4 times
Mow the lawn – 4 times
More cabbage patching…
Hands in the air!
Clapping...
Thrust hips
Repeat.

That’s it! I dare any Zumba dancer tell me otherwise.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"A lot of people go to college for seven years..."

Every day, like clockwork, I log onto Careerbuilder (shout out!) and search for a job in San Antonio. Usually it’s the same eight jobs I have already applied to, along with several “work from home!” and “Will train! No experience needed!” positions at elusive “marketing companies” that really means A. a sales position B. telemarketing or C. Illegal (I watched the Dateline special!)

But today…this popped up (it must be noted that this job came up when I used the keyword “journalism”):

Internal Medicine Physician
Opening for a civilian position as an Internal Medicine Physician at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Perhaps those seven extra years of school aren’t needed after all. Maybe all you really need to make it in the medical field is “superb communication skills” and passion for proper punctuation.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random things on my mind:

Mother’s Day is on Sunday and, well, unemployment makes Amanda a very frugal girl. I wonder if, at 32, I could get away with making a popsicle-stick flower pot? Or perhaps my hand in plaster?

Would I have followers if I Twittered? Or would I just be another pompous asshole who thinks everyone wants to read my shit? I mean, a blog is so much more humble.

I am such a minority at the grocery store during the day. The demographics are about:
· 70 percent people older than f*ck
· 29 percent crazy people who just want to eat the free samples, and
· 1 percent sarcastic unemployed editors

Whoever watches "Marley and Me" and doesn’t absolutely sob their eyes out is dead inside.

I am not qualified to be the editor of Cowboys and Indians magazine because one of the job requirements is: "Familiarity with cowboys and indians or Western lifestyle is a plus." Cowboys can suck it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Makes Bodyshop Business seem downright interesting


A list of ACTUAL magazine titles in Texas (and no, I’m not above applying for all of them):

Tea in Texas Magazine - designed to enhance the enjoyment of travel, tea and fine living. (I am betting they use the headlines "tea time!" and"coffee, tea or me?" at least once an issue)

Cowboys & Indians Magazine – upscale Western lifestyle magazine (so wrong on so many levels.)

Divorce Magazine - in more than 100 cities across the U.S.!

Texas Horse Talk - Texas' top equine magazine for horse hobbyists and enthusiasts. (do we get to talk to horses though?)

Top ‘O' Texas Football Magazine: The only publication/web site devoted to football in West Texas. (it's not! there are about 76 magazines covering football in Texas - from all angles, regions and levels!)

That! Texas Magazine - bridges the gap between city, suburban, and rural living by connecting you with your community through in-depth coverage of lifestyles, ... (as opposed to This! Texas magazine)

Texas Cache Artifact Magazine (wtf?)

Competitor Texas - the definitive endurance sports publication of the Texas area (Read: your local steroids catalog)

no hablo español

So, this is something that would never happen in Cleveland: I was just disqualified for a position I applied to in San Antonio because I don’t speak Spanish. You know, the language that is prevalent in the country right NEXT to the U.S.

Last I checked, Texas is in U.S.A.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stupid Things People Say To Me After I Tell Them I Am Unemployed (With Commentary)

“God. I’d love to be able to do whatever I want all day.”
Hey, asshole – newsflash: When you are unemployed no one is exactly throwing dollar bills at you (because then you would be an EMPLOYED stripper). Yeah. I have 24-hours a day with no responsibilities. And NO MONEY to do anything. I spend a lot of time at the library.

“Have you thought about going back to school? They always need nurses.”
Yes I have…and I am aware of the increasing importance of the nursing shortage in the U.S. However, I also have no transferrable skills. Journalism – Nursing. They don’t exactly need my flare for satire on the operating table.

“Well, now’s the perfect time to have a baby.”
Yes, because of all that MONEY we have coming in. My child will not be on WIC and run around in nothing but a diaper thankyouverymuch.

“You’re getting paid by the government to do NOTHING. That’s awesome."
Um, I have to fill out forms every week proving that I have a brain and will not take advantage and suck on the teet of the unemployment office. Oh, and unemployment lasts for nine months.

“Can you [insert stupid task or errand that is typically accomplished during the day] for me?”
No.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Houseguests

My 18-year-old nephew and his two friends are staying with us this week while they complete their senior project (glorified unpaid internship) at NASA. I know, right? Let’s set our goals just a TAD higher than rocket science...

These kids are galaxies (heh) more innocent than I was as a senior. We were all “Should we lock up the liquor?” because Mom, Dad? Yeah, that was me.

Before I went to bed last night I heard the sound of cartoons from the TV. Yeah, I think we can keep that coconut rum within reach and be safe.

But this morning I saw something that truly makes me nervous: a loofah in the shower. What 18-year-old high school male is concerned with exfoliating??? Probably the same one who brought the body wash. I’m just sayin.’

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Natural Glow"

You know those commercials and ads for self tanners that tell you that all you need to do is slather on their products and 10 minutes later you’re out the door?

I’m here to tell you that sometimes people lie in commercials.

Since I am freelancing out of the comfort of my own home I have some … uh, liberties … when it comes to the dress code. Let’s go over my morning in an attempt to get a “nature looking tan in just minutes and in one easy step":

Step 1. Step out of shower, dry off.

Step 2. Apply first layer of sunless tanner

Step 3. Work for 10 minutes in underwear while self tanner dries.

Step 4. Work for another 20 minutes …because the product people LIE.

Step 5. 10 more minutes ….

Step 6. Now feel safe to put on clothes and stop feeling creepy about walking around in underwear during the day.

Step 7. Forgot feet! Apply more tanner to feet.

Step 8. Work barefoot. Because this is Cleveland and we are cheap….feet begin to get frostbite because we keep the heat at 63 degrees. WTF Jim?

Step 9. 20 minutes later, notice strange orange rash on palms of hands.

Step 10. Realize I forgot to wash hands after applying tanner to feet. Doh!

Step 11. Wash hands.

Step 12. An hour later am noticing nice tan-ish look everywhere – except hands.

Step 13. Briefly consider career as mime.

Step 14. Use paper towels to apply tanner to hands.

Step 15. Do not wash hands for two hours. (I know, ew. But this is a necessary beauty ritual.)

Step 16. Now have orange fingernails.

Step 17. Feverishly wash fingernails – manage to get them looking somewhat Caucasian.

Step 18. Now notice spots I missed - like vast planes of missed areas. Shrug and vow to tell people “I have that condition that Michael Jackson claims he has.”

Step 19. Wonder just HOW bad tanning beds can actually be. They take ten minutes. This self tanning process has taken an entire Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is this thing on?

I am creating this blog for my friends and family who wish to stay in touch with my fabu, exciting life as an unemployed editor as we make the move to San Antonio. It’s narcissism at its best, but come on, I’m funny right?