Monthly Archives: June 2010

Excel and Co-Dependency

A large part of my job is creating reports from a massive amount of information, using my trusty friend Excel.  I’m pretty good at it, but there are days when staring at a spreadsheet for 8 hours starts to work on my last nerve.  At the end of the day today, while putting the final touches on some graphs and charts in order to send it to the Board for approval and feedback, I got this message:

I hate you.

Thanks, Excel.  You know what would be awesome though?  If you gave ANY indication at to which of the nearly 33,000 formulas I have in this spreadsheet is the problem.  But you don’t.  You mock me in my frustration because you know I need you, that I can’t leave you.  Well, you know what?  You need me too, Excel.  I make you pretty.  You need me to get along with others… So you better shape up and start communicating a little better in this relationship.

The Hipsters in the Back

Remember how I was talking about tornadoes the other day?  Of course you don’t, because I’m pretty convinced that the only people who read this are two members of my family and a handful of my friends.

Aaaaanyway, I hate tornadoes.  As in, I am practically incapacitated by fear when the sky gets dark and the wind picks up.  One of the many reasons I moved from small town to big city was that the odds of being hit by a tornado are much smaller here than at my parents house.  We’ve got this big ol’ body of water next to us that has some effect on the weather.  I don’t care about the reasons… just the results. 

If you live in an area of the country that doesn’t have tornadoes, you don’t know that gut-dropping fear that comes with waiting for the siren to end up being a regular fire siren.  Or maybe if you don’t have a phobia like mine, you don’t have that fear.  But this sound?

Terrifies me.  (you don’t need to listen to the whole thing, it’s just in case you’ve never heard one before).  But hey, guess what else is really terrifying?


Oh, and this:

Because guess what?!  Apparently tornado warnings happen in the city too!  Awe. Some.  So, last week, I got home and was on the phone with my mom when the weather started getting really bad.  And green.  If you live outside of tornado areas, I don’t even know how to explain the green skies to you (see what I’m doing here?  Pretending people read this blog).  I hung up with my mom and the sirens went off.  Since I was already in my jammies, I threw on a sweatshirt and some shoes, grabbed my drink and cell phone, and headed down to our small, barely-below-ground laundry room.  I was joined in a few minutes by my hipster neighbors… who proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes making me feel old.

3 of them came down, kid you not, wearing skinny jeans, ironic t-shirts, vans, and other artfully chosen thrift-store “finds”.  With PBR tallboys.  And a guitar.  It was like I died and went to Hipster Heaven.  Which is hell for a lot of normal people.  So Kenny hopped up on the dryer, straightened his baseball cap (which looked like the same style we use to buy on the cheap to decorate in Girl Scouts) and started strumming on his guitar; Beau and Kate asked me a bunch of questions about my “real job”.  They told me there were 6 of them living in the apartment behind me (okay, maybe it’s a little bigger than mine, but there is NO WAY they aren’t sleeping in the kitchen over there).

Midway through our conversation, when one of them asked if I thought the storm was over, I realized that not only was I the “grown-up” in the room, I might also be one of precious few “grown-ups” in the building.

God help us all.

Procrastination + Easily Distracted = Unproductive MW (and really bad grammar, apparently)

I got home early today and decided I would be super productive and and fold the laundry I did two days ago.  Then I decided to check my Twitter feed (look at me with my lingo!) and one of my friends had linked to a video of tornado sirens from last night (more on that some other day).  So I decided I would look at that while I folded my laundry.  Then that was only abut a minute long, so I decided to watch youtube videos of the tornado that went through my hometown (area) two years ago.

Headed toward the houses that hold 4 generations of my family (it missed them)

Then I watched some National Geographic videos about tornadoes.  Then I checked facebook.  Then I remembered a movie I wanted to add to my Netflix list, so I did that.

Two hours later, I realize that I haven’t a) finished folding one measly basket of laundry or b) eaten dinner yet.  Hunger wins, so I mosey into the kitchen to find something that won’t take too much work.  Pre-heating the oven for tater tots, I realized that I haven’t done the dishes in a while, and it would be super productive and responsible of me to do that while the oven is preheating.  After I finish enough dishes to fill the dish drainer, I realize that awful burning smell that won’t seem to go away is coming out of my oven.  Remembering that I had accidently melted cheese to the oven when making my favorite snack (melted cheese on bread) the other night, I decide I’ll just real quick scrub it off with the scruffie.  So, I squeeze all the soap out (I don’t want soap fumes ruining my tots – I’m so smart).  Scrubbing just a little, I’m so pleased with myself for not getting burned (which happens nearly every time I put my hand in the oven), until I notice a different aroma in the air, and see little bits of blue scruffy sticking to the oven.  Awesome.  Apparently this thing is made out of plastic and will melt when you touch it to an oven you’ve been preheating to 450 degrees.  Who knew?!?

Why do you hate me?!?

Ensure super sensitive smoke detector is under the chair in the frontroom.  Shut off oven.  Start writing blog post while oven airs out.  Drink part of a beer.  STILL don’t finish folding laundry.  Clean oven now that it is cool.  Decide that cooking is too hard and will just eat tots for dinner.  Pour a ton of tots on cookie sheet and shove in oven.

Get your own tots.

Continue writing blog post.  Move partly folded laundry back into basket so I will have room to eat (yeah, I eat on the couch.  So what?)  Realize that I am planning on eating only tater tots and beer the day after I thought it would be a good idea to eat cupcakes and limeade with vodka for dinner.  Add fake chicken patty and carrots for a balanced meal.  Worry about the amount of tots I am about to consume.  Wonder if my bbq sauce should’ve been tossed because it must be over a year old.  Decide to eat it anyway.  Force self to eat chik’n patty and carrots, even though all I really want are tots. 😦

That’s a well balanced meal, right?

Hey, guess what’s still not completely folded?  My laundry!!!  But now it’s 8:30 and I’m tired.    And 30 Rock is on.  The laundry is mostly folded.  And I totally did the dishes and cooked myself dinner.  I think I deserve an ice cream sandwich now.

Longest most painful day

I woke up with a migraine at about 4:30.  I tried willing myself back to sleep but apparently it’s light at 4:30.  And the stupid birds are chirping.  Then I went and threw up.  Then I tried willing myself to sleep on the bathroom floor because there’s no windows in there and I can shut the door and make it super dark.  But the bathmat smelled like feet, so I tried going back to bed and willing myself to die.  When that didn’t work, I decided to take a shower… maybe that would relax my muscles a little?  Then I decided that since I was showering and my head felt minimally better, I might as well go to work (why waste a perfectly good sick day on blinding pain and vomiting, right?).  Then I moved my eyeballs without moving my head with them and someone stabbed me right through the top of my skull.

So I emailed work and went back to bed and prayed for death.  I fell asleep for 6 more hours instead.  I’m one of the luckier of migraine-getters, in that the blinding, please-just-let-me-die pain only lasts about 6 hours… the rest of my day (and maybe the next) will be filled with nausea and a headache that is constantly threatening to turn into something worse if I move my eyes or try to focus too hard on something.

So, you’re asking if I spent the whole day lying on the couch?  No.  I had to go get a “fitness test” or some such thing for my new part-time job.  So I finally put some clothes on, and some sunglasses, forced myself onto the bus, and tried to find the darkest, quietest corner (note: there are none of those on the #66 in the middle of the day).  I show up, fill out some forms, am given an eye exam and handed a cup to pee in.

Now, this is where I start to freak out.  I don’t do drugs.  Yet, I’m always irrationally afraid that I’m going to test positive for something.  Did I accidently ingest any poppyseeds recently?  I had a peanut butter sandwich before I left, is that already in my system?  (I heard once that peanuts can cause false positives).  I went to a concert a couple weeks ago and I’m pretty sure the people next to me were smoking pot… WHAT IF THAT’S IN MY SYSTEM!?!?!

Nothing was in my system (it’s an insta-test, apparently).  And I had to restrain myself from expressing relief at this in front of the nurse, because then of COURSE she’ll think that I’m a drug user and am so excited that I foiled their test.

After the drug test, it’s the respirator test.  The nurse straps a respirator mask on me for a test that’s going to measure whether a respirator will stay on my face while I’m working (did I mention that my second job is for a hospital?).  Apparently I have a weird-shaped face, because the mask slipped a couple times and she expressed concern I would fail the test.  I was afraid to ask if I wouldn’t be hired because my face doesn’t fit the mask.  During one part, I had to read this little story about rainbows while wearing the mask (it was possibly the weirdest test EVER) and then the nurse STARTED DRAWING MY BLOOD!!!!!  Now, I do NOT like needles and I especially do not like being surprised by needles.  I passed the respirator test, no thanks to what appears to be a too-small bridge on my nose.  The nurse DID express relief. 

And now my arm is bruising.  I will probably definitely look like a drug addict now.  Not only that, but a stupid one who doesn’t know to shoot between her toes or into her gums.  Awesome.

After I’m cleared to work, I get sent to HR (when all I want to do is go home and eat popsicles because it’s 8 million degrees out and I’m certain they will make my head feel better and not make me throw up) to tell them and get fingerprinted.  During the fingerprinting, I apologized to the girl for inadvertantly flipping her off.  Also, let’s remember that I’m in a super fancy, corporate HR office – and I thought I was only coming in for a physical.  And my head is pounding and I’m trying not to throw up.  Oh, and I’m dressed in flip flops and a t-shirt that features an angry toaster and frightened slices of bread.  Not my most professional moment. 

Then the women working on my stuff tell me that Corporate Health is taking their time.  Which means I can sit there indefinitely and then go get my ID badge taken.  Between the migraine and the toaster shirt, and the fact that I have yet to be seated next to a hot, single doctor, I elect to get it done another time.

And I was right.  A popsicle was exactly what I needed.

House Sitting

This weekend, I house/cat/garden-sat for my sister T and brother-in-law.  When I was in college and home for the summer, I used to house-sit for my sister all the time when she’d go away for the weekend.  It was awesome.  She would leave me her Blockbusters’ card, buy a ton of delicious junk food, even leave cash so  I could get a pizza or Chinese food, or burritos.  Plus, I got to borrow my mom’s car for the weekend.  It was great.

This weekend, while not quite as exciting because I live on my own already and the novelty has worn off just a little, was also awesome.  It’s been about ten years since I’ve house sat for T, and it’s still exciting to go take care of her pets and garden, and eat food she’s bought for me and watch movies until entirely too late at night. 🙂

So, all I had to do to earn my stay at my vacation house (as I’ve decided to refer to it) was take care of the cats and the garden.  As an added bonus, if I picked some mulberries, T will make me mulberry jelly at some point.  So I got up early (around 9 or so this morning) and weeded the garden and happily went off to pick berries.

Mulberries grow on trees so I, being the genius that I am, decided to bring a garden hoe with me to grab the branches and pull them down.  After about ten minutes of being pummeled with small berries when I jostled the branches, I decided it would be easier to simply climb up the tree and pick all the berries that would then be within easy reach.

balancing... balancing...

To get to that precarious perch (a whopping 5 feet off the ground), I had to haul myself up like I had so many times when I was 10 years old.  My first thought was, “Holy shit, I don’t remember gravity being this bad!”.  Maybe it’s global warming, or the shifting of the plates or something, but the force of gravity has sure as hell increased since the last time I climbed a tree.

And of course, once I got up there, I could still barely reach any berries, because I was terrified of cracking branches that looked sturdy from the ground, but like toothpicks from my new vantage point.  I had horrific visions of falling into the brambles and scratching my eyes out like that guy in the really scary mother goose rhyme.  All because I wanted my sister to make me some mulberry jelly.  If I also broke my neck, I’d probably never get any jelly.  Which is enough incentive to get out of the tree, which proves almost as hard as getting up, since the branches I used before seem to have mysteriously disappeared.  I’m going to blame all the difficulties on the newly increased force of gravity, and the fact that I was wearing really heavy boots.

So now I’m home, armed with beets and radishes, some chocolate oat bars, and rum cupcakes.  I hope I am never too old that my mom doesn’t send me home from her house laden down with food.  That will be a sad day indeed.

All is well

We had some wicked storms today.

One of my coworkers and I appeared to be the only two people in the entire building who weren’t driving home (we don’t own cars), so we were trying to get out of the office before it rained.  This was made more difficult by the fact that I forgot about approximately 18 things I had to before I left.  Because of this, it started pouring rain sideways about 2 minutes before we needed to walk a block to the L stop.  So we begged a ride to the train from another coworker.  Naturally, by the time he came downstairs and looked out the window, it was barely drizzling, but we made him take us anyway. 🙂   It’s not like we were asking for a rides all the way home…

Although I’m sure everyone would’ve felt bad when they saw on the news that we had either a) been blown off the platform onto the 3rd rail and fried, or b) plunged to our deaths when the train was blown off the L tracks. 

Those things obviously did not happen. 

On the way home, the conversation went something like this:
<super weird, groan-y sound from L car when wind blows extra hard>
Coworker: What was that noise?
Me:  That doesn’t sound good at all
Coworker:  What if the power goes out?
Me:  What if the power goes out after the Cubs fans get on and you get off and I am stranded on the tracks with wet, smelly, drunk people?
Coworker:  Man I hate Cubs fans
Me: I hate riding home with stupid drunk Cubs fans after I’ve been at work all day.
There was more of that.  I won’t bore you.  It took me almost 2 hours to get home on the train and then the sssssslllllllooooooowwwwwww bus.  The rain had let up by then, it looked like the sun might come out, and then I stepped into my darkened stairwell.


I have no power.   That’s ok, it’s probably only been out a couple hours, I’m sure the power company is working on it.  I call up my mom and chat with her for a little bit and get the electric company’s number because I never save my bills (and I love that they tell me when I call that I can contact them online too.  WTF?  You think I’m calling to chat?  To tell you what a great job you’re doing?  I’m calling because I’ve got no ever-loving electricity!).  Then I call the power company… it’s about a quarter to 7.  They say the electricity should be fixed by 7:30.  I sit by the open window and read my book.  At 7:45, the automated message says there’s been some unforseen issues and now they have absolutely no idea when the power will come back on.  I decide to go get dinner.  Come back with a frozen pizza, notice several blocks are out.  Notice the GIANT tree that’s apparently the culprit (and which I apparently missed on my walk from the bus, which is weird, because it’s closed down an entire street).  Drop pizza off inside for a few minutes to take pictures of tree with crappy camera phone:

I literally walked right past this to get to my apt. Totally didn't see it.

So glad this isn't my car....

So glad I don't even have a car and don't ever have to worry about this happening to it.

After investigating, I decide I should cook the frozen pizza that’s thawing in my kitchen.  Now, I swear I have cooked on my gas stove before when there’s no power, but it’s possible I just dreamed that.  Because the oven and stove don’t turn on with no electricity.  I imagine this is because of the pilot light somehow, but I’m not really sure because I know shockingly little about how my stove works.  So I shove the pizza in the dead freezer, trying not to let out what little cool-ish air is left in there.  Guess I’ll take a walk… seeing as it’s quickly turning into a sauna in here.

All my lucky neighbors with stoops (never living above a business again.  NEVER) are outside drinking beers and watching tree branches lying in the street.  If I were less awkward, I’d ask to join them.  I think you know by now that I did not.  Power’s out all over, and now it’s getting dark, so back to the sweat box.  I light candles and construct reflectors out of tinfoil to maximize their light.  I think it worked, but maybe I’m imagining that…

I am a genius.

When the power finally came back on around 9 pm, you could hear people cheering (and, oddly, dogs howling) all up and down the street.  After waiting what I felt was a safe amount of time, I ventured into the kitchen to check on the contents of my freezer

In case you can't tell, that's: veggie burgers, tater tots, ice cream sandwiches, ice cubes, and vodka

Thank goodness.  The ice cream sandwiches are still frozen and the vodka is still chilled.  Catastrophe averted.

Commuter Face

Apparently I have Commuter Face. 

First, a little background:  two years ago, I moved to a location closer to my job, giving me a delightful 20 minute commute.  Now I have a different job.  It’s an hour away.  5 blocks from where I used to live (yeah, the irony is not lost on me).

So I have a long commute home, and a good portion of it is on the Red Line… which, in the summertime, fills up with drunken Cubs fans at Addison… And while I enjoy meeting and talking to strangers as much as anyone else (note: this is a lie), I do not generally want to talk to drunk people while I’m on my way home from staring at Excel spreadsheets in a natural-light-deprived cubicle all day.  So I put on Commuter Face.  I think it looks a little like this:

I make sure I don’t make eye contact that could be construed as meaningful and inviting conversation, and I mind my own business. 

Today, I was joined by loud, drunken, soaked cubs fans at Addison, loud, drunk, soaked beach goers a little further south (it rained today, btdubs).  Then I got on the bus with a tourist youth group who decided to tell the rest of us regular commuters the way to properly ride the bus.  I had serious commuter face.

I finally made it to the back when the tourist youth group (who was taking up half the bus) got off.  Pushed my way to the back bench, sat down, accidently bumped the chick next to me, who seemed to giving me a weird look.  I was so annoyed.  Seriously, toots, it’s the bus.  People bump you.  Then she waved and said hey.  It was one of my best friends, who I’ve known since 2003, and actually was my roommate for 2 years.  We live near each other and actually hang out all the time.  And I didn’t even recognize her.  I’m the Commuter Face champion.

Sigh :-)

Have you seen this?

It’s all kinds of fantastic.  In fact, as much as I love Newsies, I love this version of Seize the Day (Chorale) even better than the original.  And I love Newsies.

This movie came out when I was about 12, which means I probably saw it for the first time when I was about 13.  I imagine it was probably rented as a video for the family to watch, but I was completely mesmerized by all these adorable boys and their dancing, what with their suggestive pelvic thrusts and all….

What?  Wait, where was I?  Right, 13-year-old Mairin.  13-year-old Mairin who was having her first celebrity crushes ever.  And guess what kids?  As there was no internet in my house in 1993, being in love with celebrity was considerably harder back then.  I think I had to wait until it came on TV and taped it myself onto a VHS tape.  And even then, we only had the one TV and pretty strict rules about when we were allowed to use it.  Life was rough for a 13-year-old in love with fictitious 19th Century newspaper boys.

And now I have this video.  Sigh.  I love it.   🙂

One last thing:  If you have never heard of the Newsies, you should rent this movie immediately.  It helps to pretend you are 13 when watching it.


I’m making beans.  I was supposed to to let them soak overnight… and I realized on the bus this evening that they’d been soaking for over 48 hours.  Oops.  Thanks to the fact that I have lots of friends on Facebook who actually know how to cook, well, anything… I got confirmation that they weren’t going to kill me if I ate them.  So now they’re simmering away, making my entire apartment smell like beans.

You might wonder why simply boiling beans is such an ordeal…  It’s because I don’t know how to cook.

Yeah, you heard me.  I blame my sister (who is an awesome cook and who I used to live with and who used to make me pretty much all my meals and take care of me).  Oh sure, I can prepare a few tasty pasta meals, have on occasion made delicious homemade pizza, and my grilled cheese is delicious, but that’s about it. 

One time, I tried to make soup.  I cut the vegetables first and then covered them with broth.  Ended up not having enough broth, so I added water.  Which made it watery.  So I added more veggies and some beans.  And then more water.  And then some pasta.  And more broth that I had to go get.  And then onions sauteed in oil and flour (a facebook suggestion from friends who cook)… It took a total of 3 days to make and 0h boy, it was SO MUCH SOUP.  I froze a bunch, but was eating soup every day for lunch for the next 3 weeks.

I have to look up how long to boil eggs.  Every. Single. Time.

I have burned a frozen pizza (while cooking dinner for my little brother.. when the parents would leave, and I’d be in charge of dinner, he always looked so sad, poor kid).

I’ve managed to light things on fire.  In the microwave.  More than once.

And now, now I decided it would be an awesome idea to boil up my own beans rather than buy cans.  So I have like a pound of red beans (which are, strangely, no longer that red), and no idea what to with them, except mix with rice.