Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Plain Folk

Today, I Facebook stalked an acquaintance from my hometown who has always been a bit of a snob. Now (it's probably been 10 years since we've exchanged a dozen words) he has crossed the line into douchy elitist. Not a huge shock (mostly fodder for amusing reading).

And today I made hummus without tahini (I prefer it that way, even though I don't think it technically qualifies as hummus anymore). I am listening to the Aladdin soundtrack. I spent yesterday cleaning bug corpses out of light fixtures. I am currently wearing sweatpants. My nightstand currently holds an old work by Anita Shreve. My husband farts. Venison hotdish is on the menu.

It's official - liberal though I am, no self-respecting elitist would have me. Which, I suppose, is the point.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dark. And Cold.

And I persist in living in Minnesota. It's not even 5:30 and it's totally dark. Here in St. Cloud we are on the border of the accumulating snow to the west and the wintery mix to the east. Should make for fun driving/walking/opening the door/existing over the next few days.

But I do have rather a long Netflix queue. And some popcorn kernels. It's nice to have an excuse to stay home. Not that I need an excuse, but this way no one will expect anything more.

I recently got a new winter coat. It's not wool or down, and it covers to about md-tush. But being born and bred in this area, I feel totally prepared for whatever the weather can throw at me. I saw two deer drinking from the semi-frozen "pond" in the backyard today. If they can live through this, so can I. Bring it on, winter!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Take a Walk

It's cold here. Icy. It's a good day to have worked from home, as I did.

Yet today, for the first time in awhile, I went for a walk. For no reason, to nowhere (I walked down our road and back).

And it was so good for me. It burns calories. Breathe fresh air. Get less screen time and more nature time.

And most of all clear my head. No iPod today, although sometimes I bring it along. Today, just thoughts. About nothing special. About everything. Things I want. Things I need. Things I can control. Things that will never happen. Things that will happen with or without me.

And an hour after I left, I am back. Defogging my glasses, standing in front of the fire for a minute to warm my legs (need a second pair of pants next time). And what a difference an hour makes.

I need to remember that feeling. I need to get it more often. That's something I can control. Something for me. I hear the benefits of self-care. And as a childless woman who works different hours from her husband, I have plenty of time to care for myself. Indulge my hobbies. I just need to indulge a little more in time with my tennies and myself.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Best of the Worst

I do my civic duty and vote. And I am responsible enough to be an informed voter and know which issues matter to me and which candidates best represent me. I read a lot, I talk to others, I listen.

But usually I wish there were more options. Or maybe not more, but better. I often end up voting something close to a straight party ticket, which I feel is a bit of a cop-out. Do I think that party is always best? Yes. No. Yes.

Best of the other options on the ballet? Yes.

100% right all the time? No. Not at all.

Lesser of the two evils (and I am aware that there are in fact more than two options, but realistically we live in a two-party country). Yes.

Still. I wish politics was less often taken over by politicians.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keeping Up Appearances

I was in a small car accident - a fender-bender, really - last week. (Everyone is fine.) My fender - or more accurately, my door and the area behind my door that is apparently called a quarter panel - is dented. It was entirely not my fault, and as the other party worked for a car rental company it appears that there is a check in my future.
  1. I am shocked at how much body work apparently costs. I really thought the amount of damage would be less than my deductible. Nope.
  2. This means that the insurance company will cut me a check. A big one - less than the value of a new car, but big-ish anyway.

And so enters the first major disagreement of our young marriage. I would take the money, get the tires aligned (damage caused by the accident), get some work done on the engine (pre-existing), and take the rest of the money (which I estimate to be around $1,500, although that number pretty much came from my head) and pay off some debt, get some fuel to heat the house in the winter, or do something else to better our financial situation. This would mean that I would drive a slightly dented but totally functional car.

Husband would spend all the money getting the body work done. We would have a car with a smooth exterior, although next month's finances would be the same as this month's (which is to say, tight).

I really don't care what my car looks like. I care that I hate worrying about how we will pay all the monthly bills. I care that I have a car. It's eight years old, but it gets me from point A to point B, regardless of if it is dented.

Husband doesn't like looking at dents and hates the idea of driving a not-so-nice-looking car. He doesn't love the bills, but he's willing to live with them since we do in fact have enough to support ourselves.

And so goes the disagreement.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No One Mourns ...

I'm days away from a big birthday. I'm usually not one to spend a lot of time reflecting on my life, but indulge me.

Also, I am watching Glee (I'm giving it another season before I make it official, but so far it's in the running for Best Show Ever). On Sunday, my family and I are going to a touring production of Wicked. So my reflection is taking the form of musical theater. (Naturally.)

Now, in a musical there is some adversity ... although you'd never see a character in a musical spend an entire workday fighting off wracking sobs. Typically, one character comes to a realization about another character (or themself) ... and they use this realization to improve a situation. They learn they have skills or powers previously unknown. They assess the value of objects or people or a location.

Lessons are learned. The heroine belts out a solo. The people around her support her voice and her dance moves. She's a better person at the end. Usually she's in love and/or a stronger person.

My life ... not really like a musical. I'm messy. I can't sing. I don't learn the lesson the first time. No one else knows my spontaneous dance moves. But that's OK. Because you never know what happens after the musical ... I don't know what will happen in my 30s, but I know that I am in control. No lyricist, no choreographer, no actress. Me.

P.S. Rachel Berry just said she was born in 1994. Shit, I am old.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Good Timing

This week at work started out ... badly. We'll just say that things did not go the way I expected them to, and despite trying to appear like an adult I pretty much cried through the workday on Monday.

But today is Thursday, and I had a vacation scheduled for Thursday-Sunday. A camping vacation, which is starting a day late due to some hubby sickness, which will be a perfect chance for me to get away and enjoy a beverage and stare at a fire and do a lot of nothing.

So this week is ending ... well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So what makes a family? Blood? Time? Commitment? Love? Marriage? And who decides? Is there one person who decides who is is part of the family and who is other? Is it just assumed after awhile? Do you treat "family" different from people who are close to family?

I've always been of the opinion that people with whom you celebrate holidays are family. But I'm told that's not right. I have blood family and not-blood family, and I'm closer to many of the latter than I am the former. But the blood family apparently wins. Weird.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Planning Ahead

Today, I cleaned the floors in our entry, kitchen and living room. I do a quick sweep on a regular basis, but it's not often that I actually move everything, vacuum, sweep and mop. And our soil is quite sandy, so there was plenty of grit around.

And I came to a decision. Even though our children are still theoretical, I'm so getting a cleaning lady when we have them. Just once (or maybe twice) a month. Since I cleaned the floor tonight, I didn't get to bike (too much nasty pollen anyway), make supper or do other stuff. Including, presumably, play with my kids.

Someone should get a better-playing job now so we can afford it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Today in church the lesson was the good Samaritan and a sermon about being neighborly. Serving neighbors, who is your neighbor, etc.

And I was thinking similar thoughts last night. I haven't started volunteering regularly again since I moved. I'm sure there's a need, and that's something I should/want to do. And I will. But the question of neighbors and community is interesting to me right now. We live in the country, about equidistant from a number of towns. We church and do most of our business in St. Cloud. I work in Alexandria. Hubby works in Palmer (which is rather a small town with few services, etc.). Our kids (who are still theoretical) will likely go to school in Foley. Hubby's fam is around this area. Mine is scattered, though sister will be nearby in yet another town. So where is my community? Where do I set down roots? Making friends, establishing relationships, being a part of a community is an intentional decision. Where do I decide? How do I decide? I don't see geographic change in my future, so this is something that will take some thought.

Monday, June 28, 2010

How Quickly I Revert

Hubby is working tonight, as he has been many nights. Which means dinner is on my own. Not a problem, as I am perfectly capable of preparing and serving myself a meal.

Tonight's meal: an omelet, which is how I describe eggs with things scrambled in them. Eaten from a bowl. With a piece of peanut butter toast.

Last night: random leftovers scrambled together -- potatoes, beans, cheese, onions, etc.

The food of a single girl. At least I know I still got it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Worth

My freelance business continues to chug along -- I'll never get rich from it, but I bring in a little extra cash to pay for fun.

I go through, where jobs are posted, I bid on them, and the buyer chooses someone for their job based on the amount of the bid, a written proposal and the time it will take you to finish the project.

The written proposal is no problem. Neither is the time (I am a very fast worker). But I am often unsure of how much to bid pricewise. Too high and I know I will not get the job. Too low and I am wasting my time. However, someone is almost always lower than me. I figure out how much I want to make per hour and bid that. I bid about the hourly rate I make at my full-time gig, but of course the freelance gigs have no benefits. I read often that I should get more -- people would refuse to work for my wage. But honestly, I need the money and the challenge from the freelance.

I adjust my rate as needed. I feel OK about it now, but I wonder if I won't look back someday and wish I got more.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

$2 for a Night of Happiness

Yesterday was my first time in a garage sale. Overall, I am happy to be rid of stuff, though I was hoping to walk away with more cash (we did fine, but I let myself be a little over-optimistic about the value of my crap).

Highlight of the day was that I did make two boys very, very happy. I was selling an old Jump Shots (shot glass checkers) game. Originally $4, marked to $2 later in the day. When two college boys (who we were surprised to see on the garage sale circuit) came to the sale, they quickly made a beeline for the game. Opened it, determined that there were in fact shot glasses and everything. They were super excited. They showed their new game to everyone. They told us they were going to get plowed (though did not invite us over).

They said they loved us as they left.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Snapshot: Newlywed Nights

It's not about last night. It's about the feeling of last night (not that kind of night). And I know that those nights won't last forever, so I do my best to capture it.

Time with friends first. New friends for me. Co-workers for you. Outside in a beautiful night Sunshine, sunscreen, mild exercise, laughs at others and ourselves. Then the co-workers left, and we ate the picnic you packed filled with your food and my food. Sitting, talking, relaxing on a Friday.

Then home. Movie. Computer. Magazines. Then it got later, and just the movie. I impressed myself and stayed up for the whole thing (a rarity for me lately). Sitting on the loveseat. You're trying to sneak a peek at the flesh between my pants and my shirt. I'm forever trying to find a comfortable position. Snuggles. Not intimate; loving. Nice. Just one night among many similar nights, but a good one. If our whole lives are like this, that's just fine with me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I forgot my ipod (I refuse to capitalize it based on Apple's dictation) for my bike ride today. So that means time to think. And for some reason I was thinking about scrapbooks. And how it seems unlikely I will ever make the big fancy one. And I thought about how I could preserve my memories in another medium.

And then I realize that, duh, I am a world-class (sarcasm intended) blogger. And since a good scrapbooker would document her Blessed Event, here are some memories of the day I don't want to lose.
  • I didn't sleep for several nights beforehand. As I get when I am tired, I was quite teary-eyed. But the day was flawless, and I never did have the expected breakdown. Memory: flawless day.
  • I couldn't believe my hair and make-up. Both were perfect. Neither were done by me. Memory: I clean up good.
  • The weather was beautiful. Outside pictures were a success. Husband and I got to have some time outside with just the two of us and my photographer aunt. This helped with the calming.
  • Violin. Eternal Flame. Awesomeness.
  • Walking down the aisle, knowing that on either side of me were people who were there to support us and show us love. They believed in our relationship.
  • Unity candle didn't light. Then broke, and Husband was able to light the bottom half. Much-needed awesomeness.
  • Ceremony was uber-short. Then the receiving line, which gave me the insight that it really is hard to process that many people in that short a time. Good I am not a politician or a celebrity.
  • As we drove to the reception, stangers honked and waved. Awesome. Husband was insanely happy to be driving his baby and getting attention.
  • Great food. So much dancing. Friends, family, no songs I dislike. Party ended when I was ready for it to end. People laughed and socialized and listened to music and ate yumminess and had fun. Exactly what I wanted.

Maybe scrapbooking is fun!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on the Big Wedding

It's been awhile since the big event. And here is a long-delayed post sharing my thoughts on having the big wedding.

Some of you may know that I was initially opposed to the big event. But not staunchly opposed, an I was talked into it pretty quickly. And overall, I have to say I enjoyed it. But there were both pros and cons.

Let's get the bad stuf out of the way first - Cons:
  • Cost. Obviously, the big wedding is ridiculously more expensive than the city hall wedding. We did things for reasonably cheap (seriously, I don't even know what people who spend $100,000 spend it on), but still it was plenty of money.
  • Stress. I don't know, but I imagine the very small wedding involves a lot less stress. Such as stress related to the guest list, the vendors, the mailing and contacting, the etc.
  • Seriously, the stress. If you know someone getting married, do them a favor and empower yourself to make your own decisions.
  • Time. It takes many hours to plan the big wedding. We were fortunate enough to not have a problem with time off, but it's still a time commitment.
  • Expectations. We skipped or seriously simplified a lot of wedding customs and traditions, but there are still many things that apparently you are obligated to do.

Now the good stuff -- Pros:

  • Fun. It was a great day. My family and friends were all there. There was food and dancing selected by me. Dress, hair, make-up, all the prettiness I seldom do is nice to do once in awhile.
  • Family and friends. I don't often see some of these people, and it was nice to have an excuse. Although the opportunity to chat is not plentiful during the event.
  • It is your day. Got the violinist. Got the outfit I wanted. Had I had other dreams related to my wedding day I could also have had those things. Not a lot of days feature all your favorite things. And a bachelorette party in your honor.
  • Gifts. Not to be shallow, but we probably got more gifts with the big wedding than we would have with the small one. And we're practical people, so we got things we didn't have that we needed.

If I had it to do over, would I? Can't say for sure. I probably would, just because you only get the one shot. If there is a second wedding (which, obviously, I don't think there will be), it will be small.

Would I have done a lot of things differently? Not really. A few very minor things. And I would have made it more clear early on that people should make their own decisions. There was a breakdown (mine) the night before, and I would have worked harder to avoid that. And slept more in the days leading up to it.

More wedding thoughts to follow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chipping Away

Recently, I went to the cupboard and was saddened by the lack of chocolate chips. As I was lamenting it, Husband asked what happened to them. Seemed like an obvious one to me - he didn't eat them, so apparently I did. Duh.

He thinks this is weird. I ate the chips over the course of a month or so ... a few here, a handful there. For some reason, it would be normal if it was an entire bag of chocolate chips. Or an equal sized bag of chocolate candies.

Tell me, is it weird to eat chocolate chips on their own?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pants Off Dance Off

Thanks to Weight Watchers, I have no work pants that fit. This is a good thing. But it's also a bad thing, as pants that hang off my hips and sag around my ass are not a good look for me (or anyone). And as I haven't lost any weight since December, I should be able to have a few things that sit at my waist and frame my butt.

So this weekend I bought pants. It's probably important to note here that I was retaining some water over the weekend, and I was totally aware of it. So I bought pants that fit, thinking that the smaller size was just too big a risk (I am still a little self-conscious in things that are tight).

And today I wore the pants. Which were slightly too big. I was planning to keep them, as they fit better than my old pants and I didn't feel right about returning something I had already worn. And I convinced myself that they may shrink to fit.

Then, this afternoon I was walking and suddenly there was thread everywhere. My hem fell. First wearing. Pants are going back. Likely not to be replaced anytime soon.

But regular fat clothes are going to the garage sale for sure!

Friday, April 23, 2010

'Til Now, I Always Got By On My Own

This weekend's plans are to keep things low-key (still recovering from last week). Husband (!) is spending the weekend at his parents' cabin to help them with some projects. I am going to watch chick flicks, ride my bike, perhaps write some thank you cards, and do very little else. Since he was coming to the town where I work, I had no carpool and some friends were going to enjoy the happy hour, we met in work town first. And I drove myself home and got here around 9:00.

And as I drove into the driveway, it occurred to me that I have never stayed here by myself. I have only lived here for a few months, and although I've spent the night away solo I've never spent it here solo. Odd. All of the sudden the house seems empty. And cold. (It's not really either.) And, of course, it's raining.

So tonight, TV is intentionally on something not remotely creepy (Friday night TV tends to be newsmagazine investigations into dead women). And hoping I encounter no mice, bats, other critters or broken pipes. I suspect things will be more normal in the morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Saturday was the big day. More on that later (still processing some thoughts). But I do have one thought that is processed.

Lots of people said I looked pretty/good/beautiful. Which is not surprising or bad on your wedding day. But a lot of people also commented that they hadn't seen me wear make-up or glasses, with my hair done, or since I lost the weight.

And it's true that I usually rock glasses, no make-up and wash-and-go hair. Largely because I am lazy (and I can't read with my contacts). I figure there is no need to make myself look different than I naturally do.

But is there a reason to do so? Would my life be different if I just spent a few minutes to put on lip gloss (as my friend says)? If I shaved my legs every week would things be different for me? I've largely given up on my modeling career, but would other things be different? Work, men, friends, etc.? And would I like it better?

Guess we'll never know. I liked the wedding look, but it really was a one-time thing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Two Weeks

I am less than two weeks from being a Mrs. Which means many things are done, but there is more to do (and I am probably not even aware of some of the things that must yet be done). But I have a violinist to play Eternal Flame, and I will be married at the end of the day, so really that's all I need. (There are not a lot of things I've always wanted at my wedding, but Eternal Flame by the Bangles is one of them.)

And it's spring, and Easter (which means I have eaten many Peeps), and it's almost the end of my freefall into weight gain (dress fits, so I am allowing myself some leeway).

And almost the end of my single life. Which will be weird, but good. Boyfriend excels at starting dinner and other chores, so that's the end of me doing those things. Not the end of me folding laundry or getting groceries. Not the end of fun, but the end of me not having to check in when I am out late.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Moving Pictures

I haven't been to the movies in like a month.

Now, this is not a big deal. But it is odd for me. After all, we are less than a month after the Oscars. And for the first year since probably high school, I didn't see the majority of the nominated films. No long days at the theater. No making lists and combing blogs obsessively. (I said obsessively. I read what I usually read as far as books and magazines - a list that skews toward entertainment.)

And I'm OK with that. Thanks to Netflix I had actually seen the Best Picture. But that's about it. And if it weren't available on DVD for quite a few weeks I probably would have missed The Hurt Locker.

Part of my entertainment relative abstinence is location (I quite wanted to see Precious, which never came to my area). Part timing (I was otherwise occupied for all of Up in the Air's local run). Part lack of interest (just not excited about Avatar, although in past years I would have gone anyway). Part Brokefest 2010 (though this is a minor detail, it did affect my decision making).

Maybe this year will be a blip in my radar - maybe next year I will see all (10?) Best Picture nominees. Maybe I never will again. Maybe I won't even watch the broadcast in future years. I don't know. I still enjoy movies. I still watch them often. And I still really like going to the theater, though I wish people would consider that a cell phone-free time. And I still like to read the blogs and see the dresses and read Entertainment Weekly. I think this year was just a year of other priorities. And that's OK.

P.S. Speaking of movies, if you haven't yet read Chris Jones's profile of Roger Ebert in Esquire, do yourself a favor and read it now. It moved me nearly to tears, and I'm usually not so inclined. Also, read Ebert's journal. Even now, he's much more than a man with thumbs.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Things I Am Sure No One Else Cares About

Recently I have come to the conclusion that I say "gotta" too much: We gotta go to the store. We just gotta get some Shamrock shakes. Etc. I don't like this. While I am usually pretty careful about what I say, this is a phrase that does not make me sounds smart. And since it is not a necessary part of speech, I should stop saying it.

Also "hopefully" in the sense of "it is to be hoped. "Hopefully" means "in a hopeful manner - an attitude, rather than a general sense of hoping.

So, if you hear me saying these things, please stop me. I intend to be vigilant, but it's hard. And I don't want to do something such as a quarter jar, since I find those to be more trouble than they are worth. But I am accepting ideas for something that will help me stop!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Playing Chickens

Things are in flux at work -- in a good way. My freelance "career" is looking hopeful. And I admit, I'm getting starry-eyed -- or more accurately, dollar sign-eyed. And honestly, things at the Raybrink house could benefit from an infusion of dollars.

So how do I keep myself from counting chickens before they hatch? Yes, my merit raise is a sure thing and will kick in in a few months. But the freelance income and the other work possibilities are just that -- possibilities. And though I have visions of eliminating debt, bulking up savings, taking a fancy honeymoon and perhaps getting a new car, I have to be responsible. And, financially speaking, I am.

But it sure is fun to dream!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Recently, we were fortunate enough to take a Florida vacation. (Thanks, parents!) I was excited about the warmth and fun (turned out to be relative warmth, but it doesn't take much to beat Minnesota in January).

And before I left, people wished me well. And one person said to enjoy it because I deserved it.

But did I? I enjoyed it. I don't vacation often, and I am not an obnoxious vacationer. I am frugal and I think generally a good person. I work hard.

But does that mean I deserve a vacation? Or just that I am fortunate enough to be able to take one? I have a hard time deserving things ... does that mean other people don't deserve them? Or that I have deserved bad things that have happened to me? Or that I don't deserve them all the time?

Or that I worry too much about my middle class problems?

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Goals

Since this blog was originally started to track my goals, and since 2009 is over, it's new goal time. So here is what I will work toward in 2010.
  • Accrue no new debt in 2010. Doesn't sound that hard, but since Juliet's income is now supporting two people it's harder than it used to be.
  • Accumulate savings equal to four paychecks. This may conflict with the no-new-debt goal, and there is some travel dollars that will be spent this year, but what's the point of goals if they aren't ambitious?
  • Maintain my current weight.
  • Tone my arms before the wedding. They will still have farmer's freckles, but they needn't keep waving after I stop.
  • Complete 10 freelance jobs this year. Both to help with the financial goals, and to increase my marketability and learn new skills. Can't grow if you don't stretch.
  • Have an awesome wedding. Followed by an awesome marriage!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"I" Have Become "Them"

So today ... total bummer. And lately life has consisted of a streak of not-my-best days. And even though I really try to compartmentalize things so that I am not cranky at people and things who don't deserve it, I may not have been 100% successful lately.

And since I try to be nice and a good person, blah, blah, blah, I'm working on that this week. And it has occurred to me that I might be missing something that would perhaps improve my mood - exercise. My commuting schedule and brokeness have combined to severely limit my gym access, and the fact that it's been in the double digits below zero has severely limited my access to outside. And the holiday fun and yumminess has limited my ambition to do things like workout tapes.

Yes, apparently I am one of those people who gets depressed when I don't exercise. This is a prime example of things about me that have changed in the past decade or so.