From Grooming to Gear Shift

June 8, 2011

Gear shifts in 2000 Honda Accords are composed of four parts: the metal rod that actually shifts the gears, the handle that allows the driver to easily manipulate the gear shift, the button you have to push in to move the gear shift, and the screw that holds the handle and button onto the gear shift.  You know how I know this?

Because last night my gear shift broke apart.  No, broke is not the right word.  More like my gear shift catapulted apart.  A catapulter leaves the ground to fly through the air.  The handle sprung off the gear shift and flew through the air, scattering the button and the screw along the way.

Of course I was in the parking lot at Mangia Pizza with Andrea in the car reversing out of a spot when this happened.

Left to right: button, gear shift, handle. Background: Hairspray.

So there I am, stuck in reverse with my gearshift in pieces, and Andrea laughing so hard she’s almost crying.  I can’t blame her — the way my gear shift simply scattered itself was downright comical.

In between bouts of laughter, I located the screw that had popped over to my door and figured out how the pieces all fit back together.  I stuck the screw in the hole where it goes (no jokes, please), and of course the screw is too short for me to use my fingers, my nails aren’t long enough to use as a screwdriver, and I don’t have a screwdriver with me.

At this point, my adrenaline-fuled mind is thinking, “Must move car.  What do I have that might fit where the screw fits?”

The instrument I lit upon to fix my car was… drumroll, please…

A pair of tweezers.  I simply stuck the prongs of a pair of tweezers into the hole.  The prongs provided enough tension to prevent the tweezers from falling out.  It worked like.  A.  Charm.

That’s right, folks; this lady used her lady wiles and lady tools to MacGyver herself and her trusty companion out of harm’s way.  I fixed my car in the absolute least masculine way possible, and of that fact I am very proud.

See the shiny metal thing sticking out horizontally from the gearshift? Tweezers.

Andrea said I needed to send this to There, I Fixed It.  I suppose I shall.

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2011

This Christmas was really wonderful, both in People I Loveness and Giftness.  I had a wonderful time in Flower Mound with Mom, Dad, and Jacqueline, who I had not seen since she moved to Tulsa in July for law school.  I also got to see my godmother, Aunt Chris, and her husband, Greg, for our annual holiday get-together.  We always eat food and play board games.  Usually it’s Beyond Balderdash but this year I’d bought Taboo, so we played Taboo.  Also this year I was initiated into Vanessa’s folks’ yearly Christmas Eve tamale party.  That family does not play around with their tamales.  A serious amount of yum and fun ensued, and Jameson’s parents were there so I got to meet them after years of friendship with their son, which was really cool.

Blair and Schex flew in from Albuquerque to surprise Blair’s mom, so I got to see them too!  I drove out to Plano at 10:30 at night after Chris and Greg left and we caught up for a few hours.  Yayness!

I fully expect to blog much more now that I have received a wonderful shiny camera for Christmas.  YAY!  I have been severely missing having a camera since my last one broke.  I have a shiny Sony SteadyShot DSC-S2100.  I really like it.  I spent an entire evening just fiddling with the settings and learning about my camera.  Here is the first good picture I took with it:

Of course the first thing I took a picture of is my dog. Gotta document the cute, right?

Another amazing Christmas gift I received is a welded Deathly Hallows symbol.  My dad welded it with creative input from my sister. In case you don’t know, the Deathly Hallows are from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and have their origin in an old wizarding take called “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”  Read about it; it’s a pretty neat tale even if you don’t know or don’t care about Harry Potter.  The vertical line represents the Elder Wand, the triangle represents the Cloak of Invisibility, and the circle represents the Resurrection Stone.  Together, the three objects make the Deathly Hallows, and the person who possesses all three objects is the master of Death.  Dorky aside, but I hope it helps you appreciate the awesomeness.

The Deathly Hallows symbol

I’m trying to figure out how to display it.  My sister suggested a clear acrylic frame, but those look kind of tacky.  She also suggested a shadowbox.  That might look cool.  Maybe I’ll just take the thing to Hobby Lobby and see what works.

Andrew gave me an amazing gift.  The CD player in my car broke several months ago, so I was stuck with the radio.  Since the car is where I listen to most of my music, this was a major bummer.  I mentioned it in passing a few times, and then, surprise! Andrew bought me a replacement.  Except the one he bought me ALSO has an iPod input!  This is AMAZING because now I can listen to CDs AND I can go nuts on podcasts, which I have been doing.  This awesome gift will truly keep on giving.

Not to mention that my awesome mom and sister took me shopping to buy teaching clothes, so I got a whole new wardrobe of gorgeous, teacher-appropriate shirts, cardigans, and pants.  So.  Good.

I seriously don’t know how this Christmas was the anomalous Christmas of epically awesome gifts and way more parties than I’ve ever been to on a Christmas break, but it was.  Clinksies to that!

Obligatory thankful post

November 26, 2010

First things first:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was by far the best of the Harry Potter movies and definitely my favorite.  For the first time I was not mad at any decisions the filmmakers made.  I agreed with what they took out, what they left in, the visual elements they chose to include. Every single element of the movie was improved by leaps and bounds from any of the previous six.  I’m going to go see it again with my mom tomorrow.

I’m in Flower Mound right now for Thanksgiving.  I drove up Wednesday, leaving Austin at 1.  BIG mistake.  I should have left at 8 a.m. like I’d originally planned on doing, but I slept instead.  I think I needed it, though, so that’s okay.  Yesterday Mom, Dad, and I went to Uncle Paul’s for Thanksgiving and had a great dinner with about 10 people.

Thanksgiving always gets me thinking about what I’m thankful for.  That is the point, after all.  But the things I’m most thankful for, friends and family, are too personal to put on the Internet, and other things I am continually grateful for, like my education, don’t really change from year to year, so I’m going to pick a few specific things that are new since Thanksgiving last year.

Getting my life figured out. For most of the three years between graduating from college and now, figuring out what to do with my life was a deeply upsetting struggle. Finally this summer, after evaluating what I wanted in life and where my talents lie, I decided to get my teaching certification and become a high school English teacher.  I knew this was the right step when instead of feeling like it was a chore to get my applications done, like it had always felt when I applied for other jobs, I was excited and motivated to get my application materials completed and turned in.  And as soon as I made that decision, a weight lifted from my shoulders, I felt happier and more secure of my place in the world, and other parts of my life started falling into place.  It was pretty miraculous.

New friends. Although Blair and Schex and Brandan and Ian have all married (yay) and moved away and potluck has now disbanded (saddest of sad faces), out of the blue the gaping friend hole they left was filled when their friend from high school, Nathan, moved to Austin, quickly became a close friend of mine, and introduced me to other new and wonderful people, like Andrew and Steve.  Additionally, all three of them are teachers, and can give me invaluable advice for my next life step.  I have learned through this experience that change, though hard and often sad, can yield new and positive life events.  Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.  (Although I never really figured out if new friends were silver and old friends were gold, or if new friends were gold and old friends were silver.  Maybe I just don’t like assigning comparative monetary value to my friends.)  Also on this list are Annette (I think we met around Christmas last year, right?) and Vanessa, who’s been a friend for about a month.  Yay friends!

Henry, a.k.a. Flop Dog, a.k.a. Bear Rug Dog Mop, a.k.a. Henri. I am so thankful for this little doggie that it blows my mind every day.  He was the best $90 (plus considerable medical expenses) that I ever spent.  He’s a bright spot in my life every single day.  I was born to be a dog owner, and I love that I got to rescue this little guy and be his doggie mommy.  Although I got him a year and a half ago, only in the last year has he really figured out that he has a secure home and loving owner.  He now approaches people to get petted, he isn’t scared of guys anymore, and he’s all-around friendlier, comfier, and happier than he was a year ago.  He’s a wonderful little companion.

There you have it, folks.  Three things that have changed in the last year that I am grateful for.  As for the people I am continually grateful for, you know who you are.  I love you all.  I hope that goes without saying.

I feel like a huge cheeseball right now.

Harry Potter poetry jam session

November 15, 2010

As everyone who’s cool knows, on Friday, November 19th Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out.  A bunch of us are going to see it opening night.  No more midnight showings for me; I’m old now.  Some of the losers people who bought tickets have not read the books or seen all the movies (*cough* Nathan), so Nathan suggested a night where we would eat his world-famous LSU jambalaya and I would explain the major characters and plot points so people can explain the 7th movie.

Nathan’s jambalaya is, to put it mildly (har har), extremely spicy.  The last time he made it, several people couldn’t eat it because it was so spicy.  So this time around, he said that people could make special requests of him.  However, there was a catch.  And then that catch snowballed into an epic Terrible Harry Potter Poetry email jam.

Nathan:

If you do have a special request for jambalaya night, your reply must be a “reply to all” and must be in poetry. See below:

My name is Christine, I don’t wanna be mean,
But Nathan your food, it’s too hot of sorts.
It is not my fault, that your culinary assault,
Hurts like a boiling brew from Hogwarts.

Christine:

Christine in the hood.  The jamba better be good.
Jotto, a request, you should fill at my behest:
Since the theme (Harry Potter) to me is so dear,
Can you make your magnficent brew, butterbeer?

-My name ain’t Lynn, you darn Slytherin.

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Taverna Salad

November 2, 2010

To take a page from Blair and Brandan, this post is about Christine’s Adventures in Cooking!  Today’s chapter: Taverna salad.

Yesterday, the lovely Vanessa went to the little deli downstairs in our office building and came back with a Taverna salad.  Murphy’s Deli is usually pretty gross, but this Taverna salad was DELICIOUS.

Murphy’s Taverna salad, according to the label:

  • cucumber
  • onion
  • tomato
  • kalamata olives
  • feta cheese
  • black pepper
  • oregano

I decided to recreate it myself because I am trying to get more vegetables and this salad looked easy.  I made some modifications, and my Taverna salad is way better.

Christine’s Taverna salad:

  • 1 whole cucumber
  • 1/3 to 1/2 large tomato
  • 1/3 to 1/2 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon feta cheese
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • oregano to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Mince, stir, and chill!  None of these measurements are exact because I started with small amounts and added to taste.  Obviously you can use whatever proportions of veggies or spices that you want.  I was surprised at how much oregano makes the flavors of the vegetables blend and pop.

Modifications from original recipe:

  • used red onions instead of white onion
  • left out olives
  • added salt

This would also be great with black olives, corn, or dill.  Maybe I’ll try those ingredients next time!

Fish!

October 29, 2010

I saw this on a car in my parking garage.  Best play on the fish decal I’ve ever seen.

Dogtoberfest!

October 26, 2010

This past Saturday was Dogtoberfest at the Domain.  It’s exactly what it sounds like — it’s a huge doggie festival with vendors for dog food, volunteer opportunities, boarding houses, etc.  Most importantly, however, there was a costume contest sponsored by KXAN and judged by Jim Spencer, a meteorologist from KXAN.  And they had weiner dog races!  It was so much fun.  You would not BELIEVE how many peopledogs were there.  And some of the costumes were unbelievable.   Justin took a bunch of pictures on his camera, but they didn’t turn out.  Luckily, Andrea took some pictures with her iPhone and got a shot of the best costume in the whole place.

Check out this little lady:

And these guys (make sure to look at the cowboys’ faces):

But the best part was when Andrea saw a dog across the road who looked very similar to Milton, and when she got closer she realized the owner was the woman from whom she bought Milton, and the dog was actually Milton’s father!  She kept trying to get a picture of father and son together, but Milton was apparently going through his rebellious teenage years, because he kept growling at Dear Old Dad.  Eventually she snapped these pics.

Milton’s on the left:

And the family from the front (Milton’s on the left):

So crazy!  All the dogs made me wish I had dressed up Henry.  Next year this won’t be topical anymore, but I wish I’d thought of it:

(Disclaimer: This dog, who Andrew christened “Antoine Dogson”, came from the Intarwebs, not Dogtoberfest.)

Scott Westerfeld, the Texas Book Festival, and the creation of Uglies and Leviathan

October 21, 2010

Scott Westerfeld is one of my favorite authors.  I read the Uglies series — Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and a fourth stand-alone novel, Extras — a few years ago and they became instant favorites.  The premise: Imagine a world that, when you turn 16, requires its citizens to get radical plastic surgery.  Before age 16, you are an Ugly; after age 16, you are a Pretty.  That basic premise forms the foundation for a fascinating series that address superficiality, government control, coming of age, and lots more.  After I read the books, my sister read them, then my mom, and then, to my infinite surprise, my dad read them.  This is significant because my dad grew up on (and still subsists on) a steady diet of hard-core science fiction.  Asimov, Heinlein, etc.  So for him to voluntarily read a young adult series meant the series had to be phenomenal.  And it is!

This past Saturday, Westerfeld spoke at the Texas Book Festival about his latest book, Behemoth, the sequel to Leviathan.  The Texas Book Festival is basically like Austin City Limits Festival for books.  One weekend in October all sorts of authors come and give talks on their books.  This year The Onion was there, Holly Black, Meg Cabot (author of The Princess Diaries), Karl Rove, and a bunch of others were there.  Authors give talks, answer questions, and sign books afterward.  Unfortunately I only got to see Scott Westerfeld, but he was my top author there, so that worked out.

Westerfeld spoke in the sanctuary of the United Methodist Church on 12th and Lavaca.  The place was PACKED.   This guy is a New  York Times-bestselling author several times over, so I was not surprised, but it was really neat to be in a room with so many other people who have read the same books I have.  He made a fantastic slideshow to go along with his talk.

He opened with the story of how he came up with the idea for Uglies.  His friend moved from New York to LA, both very important but very different American cities.  Eventually the time came for him to go to the dentist for a checkup.  At the dentist’s office, the dentist leaned over him in the chair, made some faces, and said, “I’d like to see you in my office.”  The friend was understandably nervous — no one likes to be called to the office at school, work, or a medical establishment.  He sat down across the desk from the dentist and she said, “What is your five-year plan for your teeth?”  Taken aback, he said, “Five-year plan…for my teeth?”  She said, “You have a coffee-drinking New Yorker’s teeth.  Look around you.  You’re in LA now.  You should have Tom Cruise’s teeth.”  He said, “I’ll think about it.”  He emailed this amusing story to friends, including Westerfeld, who thought, “What if life really was like that, and you were required to have Tom Cruises’s teeth?  What kind of society would require you to be perfect?  Why would they require physical perfection?  And what if you were required to get radical plastic surgery when you turn, say, 16?”  That became the premise of the Uglies trilogy, which became New York Times bestsellers and are FANTASTIC books that you should read.

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Jorge + Frosty diabetes kid

July 6, 2010

I love Chipotle.  For the last seven years of my life I have lived or worked within walking distance of Chipotle.  Somehow, Chipotle found out that I love them and sent me a coupon for a free burrito with purchase and free chips and guac with purchase.  I was like, sweet!  Then I thought twice.  How on EARTH did Chipotle get my address?  It was definitely addressed to me…or at least it was supposed to be.  They got my last name right, but they listed my first name as Jorge.

So let me get this straight.  They find my address somehow, and it’s definitely specifically my address because they listed my last name on the coupons.  So they got my last name and address correct, but they got my first name very, very wrong.  Huh?!

Oh well, whatever, I’m taking their food anyway.

Speaking of food, I got a Frosty at Wendy’s this evening (I had a chocolate craving, okay?) and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the single most ironic sign ever created:

So buy sugary drinks at a 75% discount to promote a cure for diabetes?  Yeah, THAT’S going to work.  Also, that kid does NOT have diabetes.  (Not yet, anyway.  Let’s give it 30 years.)  If anything, he’s losing teeth to all the sugar in the Frosties and he should be promoting toothbrushes and mouthwash.

Worthy of repeat readings.

July 4, 2010

I once dated a guy who never understood why I would read certain books over and over again.  “You already know what happens,” he’d say.  “Aren’t you just wasting your time?”

“It’s not necessarily about what happens,” I would say back.  “If books were only about what happens, there would never be any new books, as every story is really just a retelling of another story.  What makes stories different from each other is the approach — the historical context, the characters, the comments the author is trying to make, etc., and those are the things that make a book worth rereading.”

“Well, didn’t you catch all that the first time around?” he would say.

“No,” I would reply, “No one can catch everything the first time around, and if you think you can, you’re delusional.”

“I catch everything,” he would say.

“How do you know what you didn’t catch if you don’t reread the book?”  (Of course, I fully admit that I’m relating this conversation in a way where I win the argument, haha.  I do stand by my point, though.)

I’ve had this conversation with other people, and it seems the girls tend to agree with me, the girl, and the boys tend to agree with the guy. I don’t know if it’s a boys-focus-on-doing and girls-focus-on-feeling thing, or if my sample size is too small, or I’ve just befriended girls with the same reading habits as mine.  But it’s a conversation worth having.  What DOES motivate me to reread some books?  I’m obviously not alone — what benefit do I get from reading something I’ve read before?

I started thinking about this because I looked at all the books strewn around my apartment and realized that in the last few weeks, I have started three different books — Emma and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — that I’ve already read repeatedly, yet for some reason I picked them up yet again.  I think sometimes for me it’s a comfort thing.  I’ve read Pride and Prejudice so many times, and it’s so beautiful, that when I pick it up, I automatically feel the world righting itself, not because Elizabethan England is a perfect time, or because the characters are perfect people, but because it is a reminder of brilliance, beauty, and goodness in the world.  A world with Elizabeth Bennet in it cannot be such a bad one.

The real reason I like Pride and Prejudice.

I think I reread books for three main reasons: One, I simply enjoy the story, and knowing what happens doesn’t lessen that.  Two, I want to study the reasons why I enjoy the story.  What about the characters, plot, historical background, prose, etc. makes me want to reread this book?  Three, I want to relive the emotions I felt upon the first reading.  Jane Austen always gives me faith in myself and other people and the characters and plot are woven together flawlessly, and Harry Potter is an imaginative, wonderful world where…well, where the characters and plot are woven together flawlessly.  Both authors make me glad to be alive so I can enjoy what they write.

I’m not really sure if I’ve satisfactorily answered my own question, or if it even matters.  This is America, and I have the right to reread English authors as much as I like.  😀