Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Heat is On

Well, well, well...look at what I made!


That right there, folks, is a Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake Cup with Raspberries. ZOMG! I baked! These are super good and light and lemony and fruity and creamy and - BONUS - low fat/low cal. I had to eat three just to make sure they were as good as I thought. Double Bonus: I didn't burn any of them! I'm growing up, you guys!

So there I am, slaving away over a hot oven, and it occurs to me that for the first time this season, I'm making something fruity and fun, while sweating in my own house. IT HAS BEGUN. The "sweating while doing ordinary things" phase of Minnesota weather is just about to kick in. It's not even hot yet, but the sun today cooked my house from the inside out. (Oh, also? We forgot to turn off the heat once it got above 60 degrees so our radiators were still pumping out their hot flashes. Whoops! It's off now, FYI.) But still, my house, being so old, basically refuses to be a normal temperature. In the winter, it's freezing, in the summer, hotter than Hades. So as I'm trying to cook something all light and fresh, I myself have turned into a human Dutch oven. There is something a TEENY bit unappetizing about trying not to drip sweat into a delectable dessert. "Why did you add so much salt to this sugary dessert, Pharon?" I assure you it was unintentional.

But there I was, frustrated and sweaty and yelling at the stupid mixer to "COME ON! Mix faster! Why is this not creamy yet?! How, in God's name, can you not be CREAMY YET?! How hard can it possibly be to just MIX? I can hardly breathe it's so hot in here! HURRY UP!!!" Not exactly my proudest moment, I admit.

Cooking for me is stressful enough. It's even MORE stressful when I'm putting off the part where I have to stick my face into the oven to receive a 350-degree punch in the face, so I end up burning whatever is unlucky enough to be in there. At least in the winter I'm not afraid to boil water or leave a crock pot on.

Cooking. Why do you elude me so? Why must it be so difficult for us to be friends? Why do we hate each other's company so much? I try and you try and no matter how well it's all going, something in the fates is destined to ruin whatever we've got cooking. Be it a scorching hot room, a faulty microwave, the absence of eggs in the refrigerator even though I JUST BOUGHT SOME LAST WEEK...whatever. Cooking and I are Romeo and Juliet. Star-crossed lovers, blindly trying to force an impossible relationship despite the objection of every element. And, sadly, my biggest fear is that I will poison someone, just like Juliet did. To herself. That was just a bonehead move on her part...mine, at least, will be accidental.

The final product, tasty as it may be, is just sitting on the cooling racks. Mocking me. A constant, delicious reminder that, despite the outcome, this was a hard-fought battle I do not wish to recreate any time soon. It was, most certainly, too hot in the kitchen. I should find the nearest exit and skedaddle on outta there.

Maybe I should just stockpile my freezer and fridge with foods I make in the Fall and early Spring only. Then I'm not battling my fear of mice in the winter, or roasting myself on a spit in the summer. Or hey! Maybe we should just turn our heat off.

P.S. As I write this, I'm absently watching the Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks basketball game. If only out of sheer frustration out of this whole night, I'm really hoping the stupid Heat loses big time. Also, I'm hoping they lose because, uh, I hate them. Stupid Heat...

Monday, May 30, 2011

ME ME MEmorial Day

There is absolutely nothing better than a three-day weekend. Besides, of course, a four-day, five-day, six-, or even seven-day weekend. Seven-day weekends would be tops in my book. But, as it is, a three-day weekend was positively loverly. How do we, as Americans, not have more three-day weekends? Seriously, I'm like energized and PSYCHED to tackle the work week now. Too many BBQs, late mornings, and margaritas makes me a very dull girl.

Not.

I'm not dull. I was busy every single day. But, like, the kind of "busy" that's not stressful or maddening. Geo and I spent most of the weekend visiting our friends Chad and Angie in Rochester, MN. We played golf and Settlers, had a bonfire, hit up some restaurants, did a little shopping, it was great.

Update! So yeah, I went golfing with Geo, Mitch, and Chad on Saturday. Three guys, one girl. On our car ride to Rochester (in between awesome Britney Spears songs - my choice, not Geo's), Geo warned me "Listen, I want you to have fun golfing, but just keep in mind that there are going to be people playing behind us. I'm a titch worried you'll be too slow."

Rude.

Halfway through our golf game (a total of 9 holes), Geo looked at me after a particularly wonderful drive on my part, and, bewildered, said "Your shot is so, uh, pure. You can definitely golf with me anytime." I was elated. I probably have to hand it to my super adorable new golf shoes, but my super gooey-smooth-lovely swing didn't hurt anything either. Oh, wait, did I mention I shot a 77? That's like what TIGER shoots, you guys! (Okay, he shoots that on a bad day, on a super crazy hard course, on 18 holes...I played 9 on a public course while drinking Coors Light, but whatever). Also, I got a sweet little farmer's tan on my arms, and chest which is like SOOOOO in right now. Right?

Anyhoozle, I'm pooped. I'm tired and a little sunburned and a lot sad the weekend is just about over. I tried to keep it going as long as possible by having a little BBQ with my friends Claire and Marissa, and we all wore sundresses, and it was like 80 degrees, and there was fruit salad, and it was great. But then it was all work work work. I had to fetch my work-wear laundry from our scary basement, prepare some lunches for the week, and snag a little catnap while brainstorming blog ideas. Needless to say, I came up short on the blog part, but whatever. We can't all be awesome all the time. I used up the majority of my awesomeness on the golf course and later at drinking games (What up, Bag Game!?). Obvs, I dominated at those, so something's gotta give.

I guess I'll just end by saying thanks to Chad and Angie for their great hospitality, thanks to Coors Light for unofficially sponsoring my holiday weekend, and serious big ups to the real reason we lucky jerks get to enjoy a long weekend: the men and women in the military who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives for all of us. Thank you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Par for the Course

This weekend, Geo and I are going to visit our crazy-fun friends Chad and Angie in Rochester. There’s talk of golf, hence the immediacy of the following situation.

I reallllly want a pair of golf shoes. I feel like if I get cute shoes, I’ll be more inclined to go out and play golf. ”But Pharon,” you argue, ”you don’t PLAY golf! You don’t need SHOES made solely for golf!” And there’s where you’d be wrong, friends. I CAN play golf. I took LESSONS at Hazeltine National Golf Club for one summer when I was 16 years old. And in the world of golf lessons, that’s totally boss. Oh, and plus? I WON THE “BIG FOUR” TOURNAMENT AND HAVE MY NAME ON A TROPHY SOMEWHERE IN THE BOWELS OF HAZELTINE. (P.S. The Big Four was my class name. We played four holes of golf in the time it took the other groups to play nine. We were not good. And all the other girls were 12, and one of them hit the ball and it accidentally went BEHIND her, but whatever. I WON, AND MY NAME IS ON A TROPHY.)

Okay, so I haven’t played for, oh, a decade probably. I have come to the conclusion that it is simply because I don’t have the proper footwear. So, I randomly became OBSESSED with finding golf shoes cute enough to be seen on MY feet. Then I found these:


DROOL.

I love these shoes. I want them more than I want the black patent leather wedges Kate Middleton wore after her wedding. I want them more than I want the Charm heels in Platinum Glitter from Kate Spade. (Okay, not really…that would be just plain crazy talk.) But I waaaaant these golf shoes. I am 100% certain I would not only PLAY golf if I had them, but I would DOMINATE in them.

Oh, wait. What’s that? They’re $130? SHPLORG! Even I can't justify this purchase, and I talked myself into wearing bodysuits at one point in my life. But ugh…I sat there, staring at these awesome shoes in my virtual shopping cart, one click away from buying the key to my golf success, and that number just refused to go down. I kept thinking "Get serious, Crazy. YOU DON’T PLAY GOLF. You chose your golf glove based solely on the fact that it had a bedazzled ball marker. You don’t know the difference between a Sand Wedge and a Pitching Wedge. You only go golfing if there is a cart and beer involved. You do NOT DESERVE THESE SHOES, POSER." Man, I can such a beyotch…

Geo was scolding me too, being like "Pharon, no. Just. No." And I was all "But I’ll play SOOO much more golf with you if I get them!" and he’s all "It’s irresponsible." And I was all "Dude, YOU want to buy a motorcycle. Lay off."

But I didn't buy them. I agreed to do some real-life shopping at a real-life golf store with Geo tonight in the hopes of finding some shoes that aren't fugly and don't cost an arm and a leg. I ended up with these:


Okay, so maaaybe these aren't the IDEAL shoes, but they are definitely cute. And those colored little strip dealies are inserts to change the color of the Nike swoosh. Just like my old cheerleading shoes! I can color coordinate with aaaaaaaaaaaanything. (As Geo said, "They are just gimmicky enough for you!" and he is 100% correct.) The best part? They were a crazy good deal. Mix a 25% off Golfsmith sale with the fact that they are children's shoes and I got 'em for like $35. God bless my child-sized feet!

If I end up golfing this weekend, I'm probably going to totally OWN the course (I hope). What are you guys up to for the long weekend? Big plans? Fun plans? No plans? A man, a plan, a canal: Panama? (Palindromes are Semordnilap!) I hope you guys all have a safe, fun, awesome long weekend! I'll see you all on the other end of it...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dear Crabby

What's up, squares? Here are fabulous answers to your fabulous questions!

Dear Crabby,

I’m trying to get out of a date this weekend, because, well, I found something better to do than go for an uncomfortable dinner with someone I really don’t like that much. I feel KIND of bad, but not so bad that I won’t ditch him. Got any creative suggestions for last-minute excuses?

Thanks!
Excuuuuuuse Me


Well hello, Excuuuuuse Me,

I hate making up excuses! Usually, I don’t bother and say “I changed my mind. I really don’t feel like doing anything tonight.” Sure it’s kind of blunt, but the alternative takes SOOO much energy. Coming up with a lie, making sure you don’t FB or tweet about what you did INSTEAD, remembering not to bring up the thing you ended up doing in a later conversation with that person, making sure you don’t bump IN to that person…ugh! It’s too much work, as far as I’m concerned. So, my honest advice is to go straight up truthiness. Tell him something came up (it’s true: Something better came up) and you need a raincheck. Put in a smiley face emoticon so he can’t get mad. Then you’re home free! Not the “honest” type? Fine. Here’s a brief list of good excuses: Your car broke down, you’re house sitting in a different city, you accidentally donated all your left shoes to Goodwill and have to wait until your Zappos.com order arrives, you’re fasting and the mere thought of food will make you crazy, your face tattoo is infected and leaky so legally you can’t be in restaurants . I think that should cover it. Good luck, you big liar! Let me know what you do, and if you end up using one of these stellar excuses!

Dear Crabby,

I really think my friend is insane. She's like bipolar now and jumping around from guy to guy and crying all the time. It's annoying. She'll be all fine and then all of a sudden, she's lashing out at everyone around her claiming we don't "understand". She can't tell us what is wrong, and I don't know what to do. You got any crazy-friend advice?

Love the blog, love the advice column, love it all, love love love,
Bipolar Bear


Hey Bipolar Bear,

Glurb...crazy friends can be the worst! (Side note: They can also be the BEST. Just TRY and not have fun with a crazy person. It can't be done.) Sounds to me like your friend has a classic case of "I Don't Know What I'm Doing in Life So I'm Going to Pretend Like I Have it All and Get Angry At Anyone Who Tries to Tell Me Otherwise" syndrome. If you're good enough friends, I suggest a swift kick in her shin. Then, while she's down, calmly explain to her that she is insane and that she needs to pull herself together. If you're not at the "kick her while she's down" phase in your friendship, I say "ABANDON SHIP". Cut her out for awhile. Stop dealing with her psycho-babble and tell her you'll be friends again when she's normal. Until then? Tell her to lose your number. No one needs that kind of toxic behavior around them. You can't do anything right, according to her, so maybe just bail out for awhile. At the very least, it'll save YOUR sanity. Oooh, or you could slip a card to psychiatrist under her door and say they're from "An anonymous, concerned citizen". Hopefully she'll get the very obvious hint.

Dear Crabby,

Gack! I got gum in my hair! It's right at the root and I really don't want to cut it out! What should I do!?

SEND HELP!
-Gummy Hair


First off, Gummy Hair? Best. Name. Ever. Loves it. I'm answering this only because of your clever handle. Well played! Okay: getting gum out of your hair. Step One: Figure out how a grown adult got GUM in your HAIR and then decide to never to that again. Step Two: Have a few glasses of wine - you'll need it, trust me. Step Three: Somehow run freezing cold water or ice over the affected area. Step Four: Chip out the gum. If the gum doesn't chip off, you'll need to quick pound another glass of wine and continue on to Step Five...

Step Five: Dramatically step in front of your bathroom mirror. Step Six: Start crying. Step Seven: Pull out comically large, stainless steel scissors. Step Eight: Snip your hair right at its roots. Step Nine: Continue sobbing uncontrollably. Step Ten: Alternate between laughing and crying. Step Eleven: Start maniacally cutting the rest of your hair at it's roots and smearing lipstick all over your face. Step Twelve: Remember to never get gum stuck in your hair ever again, weirdo...

KISSES! Hope I helped some you lovable weirdos! I loved these oddball questions this week, btw, so have NO FEAR when submitting YOUR crazy questions to pharonsquare@gmail.com. The zanier the better! Say word...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You Can Doooo It!

Up(percut)date! I was flirting with the idea of skipping kickboxing tonight. I know, I know...that'd make 2 weeks in a row. Whatevs. So, I'm sitting in the parking lot, spying on the gym, and I called Geo. Earlier in the day, he had made me lavish promises of making me a grilled dinner tonight. I called him to tell him I was probs going to ditch out on class and to fire up the grill, and he says, "Oh. Uh, I already ate. Sorry!" So, I went to kickboxing and punched the crizzap out of the bags because I was annoyed. Turns out? It paid off.

Scary Tony came up to me as I was packing up to leave and says "Listen, I think you should come to zhe Monday night class." I was all "Am I that bad??" And he's all "No, zhere's a girl your size with great technique like you and you both need a challenge. I want you to spar."

Oh. My. Gah. Sparring is kiiiiind of a big deal. It may involve a helmet and possibly a mouth guard, I don't know. But I am terrified STOKED. Never mind that Monday night will be the end of a long weekend, but the closest I've ever come to sparring is threatening to punch Geo for cancelling a grilled dinner.

So, whatever, that kind of rules. I'm pretty proud of myself. I haven't gotten this kind of pat-on-the-back since like high school sports. Having a coach who is all pushy and yell-y and crazy until you succeed is probably something I could use in my every day life. I like it when someone pushes me like that. I'm a little, uh, lackadaisical when it comes to pushing MYSELF. I go as far as I think I can go, and then I call it a day and eat a bagel. But there's something about a coach that just, like, drives me.

I had some of the greatest coaches. I've had really terrible coaches, too. But no matter who they were, I was desperate to impress them. I showed up to my Under-12 soccer practice and proudly displayed what I thought was my sick 6-pack (turns out, they were just my ribs) to my coach. She high-fived me and I was elated. All that "work" I had done (20 sit-ups before practice) was toooootally worth it when I got that high five.

In high school, it was way harder to impress coaches. They were all super busy and there were all these all-star kids who were getting scholarships to college and whatnot. Not me. I wasn't the type who was getting an athletic scholarship (too small, too not-into-getting-athletic-scholarships), so I kind of fell by the wayside. Luckily, I had a cheerleading coach who didn't discriminate. He yelled at everyone so I did pretty well there.

But after the recognition from Scary Tony tonight, I'm kind of into the idea of hiring more coaches to run my life. Like a Cleaning Coach. You know, "Hey you wuss! Get off your butt and put those clothes in the dryer! Come on, 10 more windows to wash! You can do it!" Or maybe a Makeup Coach. "I KNOW you can put that blush on better than that! What do you think you're doing? Give me at LEAST 1 more set of putting on that mascara! You're putting that lip gloss on like a GUY! Come on!"

I feel like I could really benefit from someone (not related to me, or someone I hang out with on a regular basis, so don't get any ideas, jerks) keeping me on my toes when it comes to the most basic of human skills. Is this something that exists? Meh, whatever. I'm just going to go sleep and hope someone else does it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

#WINNING!!

I'm going to cut to the chase. My sister Prinna and my brother Perek WON THE DAIRY QUEEN COMMERCIAL CONTEST!!! They actually won a real CAR! A Mini Cooper to be exact. Incredible, right?! So, Geo and I met the two of them out to celebrate. We decided to meet up at Dave and Buster's, where I had never been before. It was fun, sure, but I'd rather have been cruising around in a new Mini Cooper. But I digress. At any rate, the winning just continued from there.

Thanks primarily to Geo's superior arcade game skills in tossing a football through some targets, we all walked away winners.

Prinna walked away with a shot glass...


And a coffee mug...


Perek won this "totally awesome" tie-dyed Vikings football...


Geo got his hands on this totally grown up toy which he claims he's going make into a golf club cover (but I know he will probably just cuddle up to it during thunderstorms)...


And, arguably, I got the best prize. Check out this sick anagram bracelet.


Awww yeah! It means "One For All, All For One". Some genius in the Dave and Buster's back room came up with that, and now it's my new jewelry staple. It's like a "Live Strong" bracelet for those of us who do NOT have testicular cancer. SCORE!

Okay, that's all. My brother and sister won a car, and I won a $0.50 bracelet (that I didn't technically WIN. It cost me roughly $15. Tomato, potato). Let's call it a wash...

Congratulations to Prinna and Perek, and thank you SO MUCH to everyone who voted for their commercial!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fun for the Whole Family!

Well, lookie what we've got here. Looks like you, like me, didn't quite fit the bill to be chosen for the Rapture on Saturday. Sinners. Did you go to a Rapture party? Give away all your possessions? If so, I bet you're feeling preeeetty stupid about now. Oh well, there's always 2012 according to the Mayans. Better luck next time.

Regardless of the possibility of Judgment Day, I had a splendid weekend. The theme was "having inordinate amounts of fun with my family." On Friday night, as Geo and I were driving to my 5 year-old niece's preschool choir recital (OMG, SOOOO cute! Annabelle goes to a Spanish preschool, so all the songs were in Spanish!), he casually mentioned that he thinks I'm "obsessed" with my family. Rude, right?! But okay, so yes, we drove to Eden Prairie for what turned out to be a 10 minute concert, but so what? Annabelle was all smiles and cuteness when she saw an entire ROW of her biggest fans.

Then Geo and I joined my mom, dad, aunt Sarah, and her husband Bill for a super delicious meal at Hazeltine before going to my parents house for a good ol' fashioned night of gambling and taking each others money. We drank wine, listened to music, and basically had an awesome time. On our way home, Geo was all "You seriously like to spend a lot of time with your family." I was all "Yeah?! So what?! That was super fun!" He's all (again) "I know, I know, I'm just saying you are obsessed with them. We don't spend that much time with MY family."

First problem with that argument? WE LIVE WITH HIS SISTER. What, she doesn't count as family? Also? Even when Geo comes to family events with me, my brother Perek is always there. Perek and Geo are besties, so I hardly think it's much of a stretch to hang with my fam when he is essentially just spending time playing with his friend. Oh yeah, and his family lives in South Dakota. Sorry that my family lives so close and they also happen to be AWESOME. Sue me!

So Saturday, after many hours of recovering from the wine the night before, I got all dolled up to meet my parents, Sarah and Bill, and Prinna and her husband out at Famous Dave's to see this awesomely awesome band CBO (if you EVER get a chance to catch one of their shows, GO. I assure you you will not be disappointed). I was getting ready and I asked Geo "Are you SURE you just wanna stay in by yourself tonight?" He didn't even take his eyes off his video game. "I'm playing HALO with [his brother] Jami tonight. I'm spending time with my family." Yikes.

Turns out, he missed an incredibly fun night. I started with a margarita, followed that up with a basket of spicy wings, and for dessert I had like 4 tall beers. Always such a lady... When the band started playing, we hopped up and headed to the makeshift dance floor. I was wearing my new platforms stilettos and managed to only trip about 3 times. Winning! At one point, the trumpet player in the band came and sat with us during a break. That's right, people. I know a guy in the band. I think that gets me like 6 degrees of separation from Prince or something. The guy was actually my middle school band director. He was EVERYone's favorite teacher, and sitting next to him while drinking a beer just felt right.

When Geo picked me up, it was clear I had had a sufficiently fun night. I kicked my shoes off in the car and stuck my head out the window to cool off while babbling about how underrated Famous Dave's is and how funny my parents are. I wanted Geo to KNOW he missed a good time.

Although, I got home and saw Halo on the TV, Geo's nerdy Xbox headset still buzzing with nerdy gamer conversations with his brother, and a half-eaten tube of cookie dough and knew that his version of a great night differed greatly from my own.

In order to try and recoup SOME quality time together, Geo decided to embrace being "left behind" in the Rapture by taking me to lunch at Hell's Kitchen today, which was incredibly good. And after only a minimal amount of persuasion on my part, he agreed to go to see Bridesmaids with me. People? Run, do not walk, to that movie. It's finally a hysterical movie showcasing female talent. And we BOTH loved it. See? I can have fun without my family! Sheesh... (Although I have a feeling my FAMILY would have appreciated my very long story about how I organize my purse way more than Geo did...)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Won't You (Please) Be My Neighbor

It's a Thursday miracle! My incredibly entertaining next door neighbor is BACK! I was walking up to my door after a loverly happy hour, and I heard the unmistakable ear-piercing whining that could only mean one thing. She's baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Color me STOKED! She's insane, you guys, and she's been gone for like a year while her house was on the market. But luckily, she's graced us with her presence long enough to do some lawn maintenance. So, I'm sitting here, listening to her yell at the poor shmuck she suckered into coming and mowing her lawn, and it all seems to be going as planned, when JUSTLIKETHAT, the lawn mower apparently sucks up a tennis ball. "WHAT THE EFF STEVEN!? YOU IDIOT! YOU'RE THE WORST BOYFRIEND EVER, YOU MORON. GAWD, DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING?!"

What a treat!!

I've been spoiled in terms of neighbors until moving here. Like 25 years ago, my to-this-day very dear friend Claire and her family moved in next to mine. We clicked immediately (given our close age and same gender) and we spent day after day playing and fighting and making up and playing and fighting and making up. We did everything together. And as best as I can remember, her family never threw crazy parties at 3 a.m., or let a yappy dog outside at 5 a.m. and let him just like whine for 3 hours, or any of that other bad neighbor stuff. They were perfection. Guaranteed play mate, no drama. Plus, they always had Cheetos and gum, which was, like, SUCH a bonus to me. Claire and I are still friends, and that rules.

When I moved in college, I ended up unofficially MOVING into my neighbor's dorm room because I hated my own roommates. When Kim and I moved in to together a year later, we were super into Friends and basically demanded the two guys who lived across the hall from us be our own personal Joey and Chandler. We made them honor our OPEN DOOR policy, wherein they would keep their door open at all times, and Kim and I could go over there and watch cable whenever we wanted. In return, we were hilarious and cute.

Okay, so I was all prepared to have yet another awesome neighbor when the guys and I all moved into our house. For awhile, WE were the bad neighbors. Loud parties, people coming and going at all hours...we weren't exactly the Joneses. Unless the Joneses frequently shotgunned beers on their porch and smash the cans on their heads. Then NO ONE could have kept up with us.

Anyway, as soon as we calmed down, the crazy girl next door moved in. Apparently, it was her grandma's house, and mommy and daddy thought that letting their 20 year-old bipolar nightmare of a daughter move in by herself was like TOPS! Oooop, this just in: WORST. IDEA. EVER.

So the first night Gabby made an appearance, she decided it was the perfect time to BLARE the song Day n Night by Kid Cudi. On repeat. For THREE HOURS. Fun!

Then the fights started. They came on kind of quiet. My roommates and I would have to actually go outside to eavesdrop. Then she must have gotten settled in. She started doing drugs on her front porch. Keep in mind, please, that we live across the street from an elementary school. COOL, GABBY. Then the parties started. Every night. More guys. More horrible music.

She apparently had a cat, too. A cat that, against Bob Barker's wonderful advice, was not spayed. And that cat got around. The sounds of cats knowing each other biblically is, uh, horrifying. The screeching. The howling. It was traumatizing. And every night, Gabby would let her skanky cat out to run wild.

The best part was her fights, though. She had like a couple boyfriends. And they would get into such intense fights that we'd have to turn up our TV to drown it out. The fights were always over nothing, and inevitably the girl had the flavor of the month begging for her forgiveness. Wussies. There were a couple nights when she'd scream so loudly that we'd have to call the police. We were legitimately afraid she was being sacrificed to the Horrible Taste in Music gods.

The ultimate fight was on one otherwise uneventful evening. The fight started like all the others, with the screaming and threats. We barely moved because we were so used to it. But then, just like in Western movies, their fight tumbled out onto the street. They were screaming up and down the road in front of our house. Obvs, we went out on the porch for a better view. He was all "I LOVE YOU!" And she was all "YOU'RE SUCH A PSYCHO! I HATE YOU!" And that lovable dummy who I think was named Eric retorted at the top of his lungs "NO, NO! I'M NOT A PSYCHO! I'M HER GIRLFRIEND!" We repeated that line in our house for months. Poor moron, couldn't even speak correctly.

A couple weeks later, Eric was removed from Gabby's house in his boxers, socks, and handcuffs. (The cuffs were courtesy of the Minneapolis Police Department.) The drama subsided for awhile. Roughly 30 days. Then it started back up when I overheard her on the bus yelling talking to her friend. Apparently, Gabby had been in rehab. Now she was better. And now she was dating Devon, who is sooooo much better than Eric anyways.

Eventually, the partying started back up, and the derogatory comments to Devon came out. Loudly. Then one magical Spring day, a few cars pulled up to Gabby's house, and all her futons and bean bag chairs and hookahs and voodoo dolls were packed up and moved out. Her house was empty for a year. It was kind of sad. No more excitement. No more chances to meet the fine members of our police department.

So you can understand my elation at hearing her shrieking, patronizing curse words right outside my door again. Gabby's back! The fun can begin again! The homecoming was bittersweet. Sure she's back, but just for the day. Her boyfriend finished up her lawn bidding, and they were gone before I could get a glimpse of her skunk-colored hair extensions. Tear.

I guess this weekend will be the same ol' quiet weekend around the 'hood. Bummer. I could really use an old fashion domestic disturbance. Well, I guess I'll just have to start my own! Yay! Have a great weekend, everyone! And if your name is Gabby, come on over and visit us!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dear Crabby

What's up, party people? Are you ready to all advice-y up in here? If not, I suggest you GET READY because blogging consultations wait for no one. NO ONE, I TELL YOU! Okay, let's get started.

Dear Crabby,

My boyfriend is getting out of rehab this weekend. I'm SUPER excited! I haven't seen him for a month, and it's going to be great! I'm a little nervous, though, because none of my friends really like him very much after he kind of went berserk on them before he left. But I REAAALLLY want them all to get along. Any advice for how I can make that happen this weekend?

Thanks!
Wants BF to be F's with my BFF's


Uh, HEY, WBFTBFWMBFF,

I don't know how to break this to you, but...yeah, it's probably not going to go very well. If he was a huge jerk to your friends, your best bet is to tread verrrrry lightly. Keep 'em separated for awhile. It's great that he went and got some help (unless he was, um, encouraged to go to rehab by his parents, or a judge, or the police, or something), but that doesn't immediately erase his bad behavior. Especially towards your friends. I get that you're stoked to see him, but you'd be wise to enjoy his sober company by yourself for a little while. Let your friends slowly get used to seeing a (hopefully) different guy who isn't the same guy who threw up on their faces and then punched their dog or whatever. It's going to be uncomfortable for everyone, and he's probably not the most excited person on the planet to hang out with people he may have hurt...at least right away. Take a deep breath, WBFTBFWMBFF, and just chill. Keep it light and simple and definitely don't try and smooth over uncomfortable situations with tequila. That's just poor form. Good luck, lady, you're going to need it.

Dear Crabby,

Hey, what's up? I have a quick question. I'm thinking of proposing to my girlfriend soon, and I am sick of all the dumb cliche ways people think I should do it. I've been told to do it at a restaurant, at her work, at a baseball game! I think they're all dumb ideas, but I'm really uncreative. I want it to be nice and fun and just like a happy thing. Nothing huge, but still significant. You know what I mean? Any ideas?

-Ball who Needs Chain


Dear Ball,

First, congrats on the big decision! Sounds exciting! But man, the PRESSURE! Yikes, I don't envy you, Ball, because these days proposals can be preeeeeetty cheesy. And when you tell your kids about the proposal (assuming she says YES, by the way. She could totally say "no". Have you thought about that part yet? Because YIKES, that would be embarrassing) you don't want to sound like a shmo. Unless you are ON a baseball team - a PROFESSIONAL baseball team - I'd stay away from anything involving a jumbotron. And, uh, maybe don't hide the ring in anything edible or drinkable. That just invites disaster and she might not want to wear the ring if it's traveled through her intestines. Hmm. Let's see. Do you have access to a blimp? Or a sky writer? Or Banksy? 'Cause utilizing any of those things would be pretty bomb. Assuming you don't have any of those things, I say KISS. As in "Keep It Simple, Stupid". Think of her, and where you think she'd like to be when she agrees to the merging of assets. Does she like art? Do it at a sculpture garden. Does she have to travel a lot? Airport proposals are always sweet. If you want to like REALLY surprise her, maybe hack into her Facebook account and switch her status to "ENGAGED". All her friends will know before she does, so that's surprising. Or, I guess you could do what the skeezy guy at Jimmy John's used to do to me every time I'd go in for a Veggie Sub (no mayo). "You want this sandwich? Well I want you to marry me! Wanna trade?" Whatever you do, Ball, just make it something that makes sense for your relationship. Keep that in mind, and you can't go wrong! Unless, again, she says no. She probably won't, though. Maybe. I mean, she could, but I doubt it. Probably. Uh, good luck, Ball! Let us all know how it goes!!!

Dear Crabby,

My Roth IRA has been taking a beating with the volatility of this market and I am looking for viable alternative investment ideas. Would you recommend a gold ETF or should I get a little risky with a small cap growth biotech stock? Do you think I could capitalize on day to day shifts by exploring puts/calls?

Thanks,
Investor Jester


Dear Investor Jester,

............................yes?

Well, that was lovely. I feel like I really helped people today. Yay! Got a question? Send it in to be answered next week to pharonsquare@gmail.com. Say word.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Skinny Drifters who are on Match.com and Myspace

Wowza. I'm all over the board today. I had this whole idea to write about the train-riding hippie homeless people who rode my bus home today, but I already told everyone that story. But seriously? They smelled SO BAD. Seriously. And not even, like, just smelly but like Aromatic Homicide. I've lived with three boys who had questionable hygiene habits at BEST, and I've never smelled anything like the assault on the bus. It HURT MY NOSE. And who knew there were still people who hopped on TRAINS to hitchhike places anyways? Not me, that's for sure. When the one drifter girl started talking about pitching a three-man tent on a "coal train" for 6 days, I was pretty sure I'd gone back in time to the 40's (or whenever people rode trains a lot).

But THEN I was hanging out with a friend who gave me free reign of her match.com account and I got to wink at and email all these dudes who I wanted her to go out with. We have different tastes, and she mistakenly thought that since I do a lot of writing in my spare time, that I'd be a good proxy in the email position. It. Was. Fun. But turns out, it's like TOOOOTALLY hard to email some stranger and get my sense of humor across, while also trying to be as coy and cute and lovely as my friend. I kept making jokes and jokes and jokes, and she's like "Uh, you have to ASK HIM questions about himself."

For this, I consulted Geo. He's probably pretty durn pleased with himself that I'm not as skilled at picking up men as I used to be. I don't know how to ask guys questions about themselves without sounding cliche. I am, however, very excellent at talking about myself and/or my friend. Color me conflicted. Hopefully she'll get some good responses though.

Then on top of all THAT, I fell in lurve with Skinny Girl margaritas. Some chick on some reality show about desperate housewives of Orange County or something made Skinny Girl. Prinna turned me on to it, but I went out with my girl friend and stocked UP on it tonight. It's really good. So, we bought 3 bottles of it. We sped through the first bottle without even blinking. We convinced ourselves we were basically losing weight by drinking it because it's all low-cal and delicious, and we did a lot laughing while drinking it, so we pretty much burned all the calories anyways.

I wasn't expecting much tonight, to be honest. I decided to skip kickboxing because, well, it was nice out and I wanted to grill and Scary Tony didn't fit into my lovely sunny mood. I thought I'd be walking around the lakes or trying to ride my bike or something, but instead, all this wonderfulness happened. But after using all my best material on the guys I emailed on behalf of my friend, I'm literally (LITERALLY!) drained.

Oh! AND! We decided to logon to Myspace for sh*ts n' giggles. I couldn't remember my email or password, but turns out it's very easy to hack in to your own account. I hadn't been on Myspace for, um, 6 years? It was a ghost town, guys. There's nothing to look at, no one to stalk, nothing exciting being shared. Poor Myspace. I feel bad. No one cares about it anymore and now it's all lonely and sad and why would ANYone have a Myspace account anymore? It's the classic case of Do It First, Do It Worse (I will be copyrighting that. I just made that up). There's no way to check-in on Myspace, no tagging...or wait, maybe there is. I don't know. We spent about 2 minutes on it before getting so bored out of our minds that we logged out. Sad, Myspace. I liked you for about a year, and then you just couldn't cut the mustard anymore. It's probably like how Bing feels. No one likes Bing. It's way dumber than Google, no matter how hard LeBron James pushes it down my throat.

Wow, yeah, this is all disjointed and crazy and weird tonight. From drifting hippies to match.com, to Myspace, I really covered a lot of territory in the 4 hours since I got home from work. I'm all over the map. But, I did come away knowing a couple things: Showers are good, Skinny Girl margaritas are great, and Myspace is just NOT good. Lessons learned, I guess...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Psycho Monday

The weather is nice, the birds are chirping, the grass is green. You know what that means. Many of the happiest happy hours are in the very near future. I kicked it off in fine style by visiting Psycho Suzi's in Northeast Minneapolis. We sat outside, with a waterfront view of the ol' Mississippi river, surrounded by tiki torches, tons of ticky tacky decorations, and other Minnesota staples. Like I said a couple days ago, my aunt Sarah is visiting from Rhode Island, and we decided to do a super fun "only in Minnesota" kind of Happy Hour. So we headed towards the glow of the tiki torches.

My mom, sister Prinna, aunt Sarah, Geo and I sat around, sipping margaritas and nibbling on cheese curds and pickle roll-ups. There was some insane chick water skiing on the river (which is, like, totally gnarly given the amount of garbage tossed in there), and after some jerk threw water all over everyone, some leather-clad biker dude gingerly mopped off my mom's jacket. It was the best kind of chaos. Worlds collided. And it was perfect.

So, we're sitting around, chatting and Sarah (who is kind of famous for her frequent comments on here) asked "So, are you like sitting here thinking about what to write on your blog?" And I said "Not really, I'm just hangin' out." She continued, "Man! I mean, are you sitting here thinking of things like 'The water lapped against the shore, the ice glistened in my glass against the salty margarita while we talked about the plans for the week'? Are you just memorizing everything?!" I had kind of zoned out during this, further illustrating my "writing process" ain't exactly poetic. Instead, I just soaked it all in. It's not very often that any of my mom's 6 sisters or brother visit us, so I wanted to enjoy it. (Okay, so maybe I took a few pics when no one was looking...)



Sarah is like one of those perpetual motion thingies that geniuses keep on their desks. They just keep going and going and going and going. She's all kinds of energy, so any time spent with her is bound to be fun. And coupled with her boisterous Rhode Island accent, we were pretty much the center of attention all night, despite the competing ambiance and drunkards. It's always a good time.

When I was much younger, Sarah used to make me bedazzled jean jackets (before bedazzling was even a twinkle in the infomercial's eye), she'd play the most elaborate game of Restaurant with us, and generally blow my mind with her ability to foster a young kid's imagination. She taught me how to French braid and how to sing "Goddess on a Mountaintop". It's great having her visit, but it's even greater to sit around and drink adult beverages and relax with her instead of always being in a state of pretend.

Anyhoozle, it was a great time. Plus, Happy Hours on Mondays make if feel like the week hasn't even started yet. It's like Sunday's annex. I could definitely get used to this.

Okay, so I walk in the door at home, all high on Vitamin D and sunshine, and Sanna and Tina are mid-workout. They recently got the Brazilian Butt Lift DVDs and were sweating it out in the living room. I jumped right in and started the ab workout with them, still in my jeans and tank top. (I have a good feeling that I worked off the Suzi's Tater Tots in that 5 minutes.) Something about Psycho Suzi's gets me all "down for anything". Combine that with the energy of my aunt and I'm even ready to work out for no good reason. Yay! I feel ready to start the week now. Like, for real start the week. Let's get Psycho again soon, shall we?

(Photo courtesy of the awesome biker dude smoking a big cigar and dropping f-bombs like he had Tourette's - a.k.a. my mom's biggest fan.)



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Becky Home-Ecky

Hey kiddies! Time to get out your safety scissors and protective goggles, because it's Craft Time! After a long, very awesome weekend which included a girls night (and, necessarily, a bad hangover), visiting with my Aunt Sarah who came into town, and a lovely date night dinner with Geo, I was ready to get my hands dirty today. I called Claire and begged her to save me from boredom on this lovely Spring day, and she definitely came through. We ran to Home Depot, Hirshfield's and Joann Fabrics and went back to her house to get to work.

Claire saw these awesome little jewelry holders in a Martha Stewart magazine, and she decided we should make some. I THINK the idea is to use items you already have laying around the house, but we went and purchased all the supplies. In hindsight, it would have been cheaper to buy a pre-made thing, but that would have ruined all the fun. So! Let's get to work!

First, you'll need the appropriate supplies:


(I wasn't sure if I was hot or cold, so I wore a sundress and a thick fleece. It just felt right.)

Okay, then you need to get a board and something to cover the board with. Martha Stewart suggested wallpaper, but after a very useless trip to the wallpaper store, Claire and I discovered that even SAMPLES of wallpaper are pretty pricey. Instead, we opted for expensive gift bags and fancy wrapping paper from Target. Somehow, it added up to be more than the wallpaper. Whoops! Claire + me = Not Good Math. Anyway, here are my choices:



Then you have to wrap up the wood like a little ol' birthday present. This was my favorite part, since I love wrapping presents.



See, the tricky part here is the spray adhesive. Claire One of us had more difficulty with this step than the other.


Go ahead and wrap up the wood until it's a purdy and flat and lovely.


Now, if you are CLAIRE, you'll start losing interest in the current project, and start on another project.


Eventually, we had to get back to business. We had to screw in these little hooky deals into the wood. This proved to be difficult.


Note: Do NOT try and hammer in a screw hook. It will NOT work. After like an hour of failed attempts to try and get the screws in (Claire - please buy an electric drill), we finally managed to the hooks in. Also, given our earlier failed attempts to do math, we decided to straight up forgo the whole "measuring" nonsense.

Here are my finished products:



Aren't they totally adorable?! I love them. Here's an "action shot" (you know, they are ACTIVELY holding some random jewelry).


(Yeah, that's right. I used the small one to hold hair binders and the collection of Silly Bandz I've somehow managed to accumulate. This just goes to show me that I need to buy more jewelry.)

Oh, one other note. We forgot to add the thingamabobs on the back so that we could HANG these up (hence the LEANING against a wall, which kind of makes the whole thing useless for now), but that'll be a project for another day. Anyway, I love 'em. I'm pretty proud of myself for actually MAKING something, with my own two (now blistered) hands. And just a head's up for people who have birthdays coming up: Guess what yooou're getttttting!

All in all, great weekend, and now I actually have something to SHOW for it! Let's get this week started!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Damage Control

Okay, so not only was Blogger down for long enough to make me hate the post I was going to post last night (arguably a GOOD thing), but it completely deleted Wednesday night's Dear Crabby. Bad form, Blogger!

So, I'm just going to breeze through this just to give you something to read this weekend when you should be doing better things, but can't seem to pry your hands off your computer.

The dresses I got from Zappos were delivered today yesterday, and they definitely didn’t work out. One is a "maybe" at best, and the other is a "dear God no!" It was hysterically bad. Conceptually, the dress was okay, but here’s a note to any person who makes a dress. Do NOT add ginormous fabric pouches a.k.a. “pockets” way down low on the outer thigh. Not only could I barely REACH the pockets (okay, so my arms are short…whatevs!), but they added approximately 35 pounds to each of my thighs. Gnarly. So much for my "All dresses are perfect for everyone all the time" theory I wrote about yesterday in the now Lost Dear Crabby article. Boo!

I also got a big surprise in the mail (seriously, I NEVER get mail that isn’t a bill. Two packages in one day? SCORE!) Geo's mom sent me this delicious Kate Spade bag. For no reason! Like, it’s not my birthday or anything. But I was stunned! I wasted no time transferring my Subway receipts, dead batteries, old Chap-Stick, single earring, broken hair clip, and Kate Spade wallet into the new bag. She loves it! I feel like a new woman! The bag is just awesome and big and pink and orangey and downright amazingly cute. Thank you, Kristi! :) Sanna made fun of me because when I saw it, I screamed out "OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! WHAT?!?!?! OHMYGOD!" Note: In all fairness, I DID think I was the only one in the house, so my outburst of pure joy was intended for my ears alone. Whoops.

I'm definitely ready to get the weekend started. I'm pretty booked and I have a lot going on, so I'm anticipating some crazy fun.

What else? I don't know, maybe that's all. Um, okay, here's a funny video Geo sent me:



That's funny, right? Yeah, I thought so. Not as awesome as Honey Badger, but pretty good.

Here's something funny Madeline said the other day. She was talking about giving away stuff on her blog, but she didn't have a bunch of money. She said she was going to print pictures of herself and sign them and give them to her "fans". Then she said:

"I just made myself laugh thinking about sending people signed photos of myself...like I'm Kirk Cameron or something."

As if Kirk Cameron was the coolest, most popular person she could think of at that moment. This is why I love Madeline.

Okay, I think I'm out of randomness. Also, I'm thinking about buying a pet. But, like, one that doesn't need to be taken outside to poop or one that doesn't poop in a litter box and claw my eyes out when I sleep. Ideas???

That's it. That's all I got, folks. I'm sitting here salivating over my new bag, so I've got better things to think about anyways. You have yourselves a good weekend, okay? If you can think of any randomness, damage control-y stuff I forgot, slap it in the comments!!

See you all on Sunday night!

Okay, this is the second post this week with a TV theme song. Oh well. Handle it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Crabby

Hey guys! Fab Crabby comin' atcha live from my front porch, primed and ready to dole out some serious advice! Turns out, environment plays a big role in my advice giving. I mean, how can I be all mean and crabby on a day like this?

(It's sunny, I promise. My phone has the worst camera ever to have been installed on a phone.)

Stick with me though. It'll be back to cranky, curmudgeon-y advice next week. Without further ado, here are the this week's round up of questions!

Dear Crabby,

I HATE Summer! It's hot, and I get all sweaty and sticky, and I hate it! I'm not exactly the girl prancing around in bikinis and short shorts, either. Any tips to help me get through the summer?

Love,
Hottie-Bo-Bottie


Dear Hottie-Bo,

I feel ya, sister. I do NOT do well in crazy heat. Last summer I described the hot summers as pea soupy-mayonnaise or something. And it's downright unladylike to sweat into your mojito while just sitting around, not even working out or anything. But fear not! Here are a couple of my favorite ways to stay cool and sane. Personally, I'm not a short shorts kinda gal either. I've got the legs of a troll doll. But I looooooove dresses. Not serious ones, that are all clingy and unflattering, but flowy, comfy dresses. BONUS! Maxi-dresses are definitely IN this summer. And ANYone can where them ANYwhere. Okay, so #1, invest in dresses. (Blogger's Note: I myself just snatched up two cute dresses on zappos.com. They're inexpensive, and HEYO! FREE SHIPPING!) Second tip: Revisit your makeup routine. I've stated tons of times that I don't know how to put on makeup. But in the summer, you can whittle your face frosting down to a bare minimum. It helps if you get a smidgen of color on your face, too. It's nature's bronzer and concealer. Then when you sweat, you can discretely mop up your face without anyone being the wiser afterwards. Tip Three: Bars are air conditioned. I don't think you need more explanation. Whatever you do this summer, just know that EVERYONE is going to sweat and be gross and probably smelly, and it's just the way it is. Try and forget about all that, and just have fun!

Dear Crabby,

Got any hot tips for cool ways to meet people?
[Blogger's note: The submitter's original email was a bit lengthier and less summery, so I spiced it up myself. Sorry, submitter!]

Love,
New In Town


Dear New In Town,

Um, I'll give this a shot. But be warned: I've never really lived in a place where I had to meet ALLLLLLLLLLLLL new people. I went to college in a different state, but a few kids from my high school also went there, and I joined a sorority immediately, forcing a circle of friends into my life against their will. But I can tell you have excellent taste in literature, humor, and entertainment. You DO read MY blog, after all. Chances are, you'll have no trouble finding buddies. You basically have two options. Jump on in to the deep end and just strike up conversations with people around you at your local Starbucks or whatever. Nine times out of ten, you'll meet someone nice. People are inherently friendly, so nothing too terrible could happen. I can't do that, though. I can barely ask my peripheral friends out for coffee. If that's the case with you, try starting a Happy Hour with work friends. You see them all the time, you have at least one thing in common (your job, duh), and there's really no downside to getting to know them better. Unless they are crazy, but whatever. Crazy can be fun too. No job? Hmm...that's tricky. I don't know. But whatever you do, preface everything with "I'm new in town". People love to show off what they know (or THINK they know) about their town. Barring all that, Skype constantly with your back-home friends. It'll feel like you never left.

Dear Crabby,

Do you think it's okay to date someone 15 years older than me? I met her at work, and we get along really well. I'd like to ask her out, but I'm kind of freaked out. Plus, all my friends would freak. What do you think?

Thanks,
Cougar Hunter


Dear Cougar Hunter,

Who cares? Ask her out! Unless you are like 15 and she's 30. Or you're 90 and she's 105 (I did ALL that math in my head, btw), in which case, that's not okay. Be prepared, though. It's a big age difference. My bf is only 3 years younger than me, and sometimes I find myself thinking "Ugh. Kids these days..." when he doesn't even know what Kids Incorporated is. But if you get along and she's not like, married and/or insane, and YOU'RE not married and/or insane, go for it. Who cares what your friends think? If YOU like her, they'll probs like her too. And if they don't, they're probably single or ugly anyways. (Whoops, the clouds are rolling in and the crabby is coming back.) Let me know how it goes!

And with that lovely, wise piece of advice, I bid you adieu. Have fun out there this week, you guys! Send in your questions for next week to pharonsquare@gmail.com. And, also, PLEASE make sure you go vote for Worlds Best Commercial. There's only a few days left to vote and my brother and sister def want to win this contest!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Crazy Storm

GREAT. Minnesota skipped Spring this year and went straight to the terrifying "Summer storm season" in like 24 hours. I was inside the kickboxing studio, and saw the rain outside. Then the hail. Then the white cantaloupes started falling out of the sky. I playfully jabbed in the general direction of the rain and exclaimed "Don't make me come out there, Nature!" Everyone laughed and laughed as we finished the roundhouse kicking drill. Turns out, the joke was on me.

I bopped out of class, sweaty and exhausted. "Hmm, that's strange," I thought, "It seems to still be like 85 degrees out. The rain hasn't cooled anything off." So I cranked up the air conditioning and sped on outta class.

Cue: Terrifying Storm.

As I pulled onto the interstate to head home, Britney Spears' song "Til the World Ends" came on the radio and I blared it. I LOVE that song. Hence the reason I didn't hear those pesky tornado sirens allegedly going off all around me. I was singing, tossing my hair, and then THWACK! CRACK! SMACK! I screamed bloody murder, assuming I had somehow been shot. But then I saw the watermelon-sized (I'm only sort of exaggerating) hail slip from the roof of my car and onto my hood. Had I not been busy screaming and slamming on my brakes and checking myself for possible gunshot wounds, I would have reached outside to grab the hail as proof of its enormity. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, I go from 60 MPH down to 30 MPH, and I am not alone. Every car around me has either slowed down or stopped completely. I started crying. I don't know why. I was scared. And that stupid hail kept pummeling my windshield and the roof of my car (which, apparently, is made out of tin foil based on the sound the hail made crashing into it). So, I do what everyone else does and pull off to the side of the road. Did I mention I wasn't alone on the road? Every freakin' car is packed in sardine-tight, trying to get some relief under an overpass. I was nowhere near overhead protection, so I just kept getting slammed by the freakishly large hail. I considered going to my parents house which was much closer, but the adrenaline was pumping and I just wanted to get home. I called Geo in a panic (yes, car was stopped). Here's my recollection of our conversation:

Me: GEO! OHMYGOD,I'MSTUCKINATORNADO!
Geo: Calm down! It's okay. Are you driving?
Me: YES I'M DRIVING! AND I'M STUCK IN BETWEEN ALL THESE CARS ON THE HIGHWAY BECAUSE NO ONE WILL MOVE ANDITHINKISEEATORNADOOOOO!"
Geo: There's no tornado! You gotta calm down! [If we were in the same room and on a sitcom, here's where he would slap me back to sanity] Where are you?
Me: I'M UNDER 169 AND I KEEP GETTING SLAMMED BY HAIL! Cue hysterical crying
Geo: You have GOT to calm down!
Me: ICAN'T ICAN'T ICAN'T! [THWACK!] AAAAAAAAAAARHHHHHHHHHHH! NO ONE WILL MOVE AND I'M NOT UNDER THE BRIDGE AND MY WINDSHIELD IS GOING TO SHATTER AND OHMYGOD, THE TORNADO SIRENS!
Geo: Pharon. Pharon? Pharon?
Me: I'M STILL HERE. I GOTTA GO! IGOTTAGOIGOTTAGOIGOTTAGO! THE TORNADO'S HERE!

CLICK

Now, I didn't remember saying that last part about the tornado coming, but Geo assures me I did. Who am I to argue? I was hysterical. But the real reason I hung up was because 3 police cars started making everyone get out of the way. By that point, traffic was stopped all across the highway, and no one could get through. So, I impulsively decided to stick with the cops. I followed them for, oh, 100 yards, and then they ditched me for a different highway.

I continued on alone. I kept convincing myself "Just get out of this hail, and you won't be so scared." Or "Just make it to highway 100 and everything will be fine." So I GET to highway 100 and everything is decidedly NOT FINE.

The hail had subsided and I bravely turned my radio back on for some calming music. Instead, I hear "EEEEEEEEEEEEE ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR EEEEEEEEEEEE ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR! This is a tornado warning. Funnel clouds have been spotted [somewhere very near me. I don't know anything about Geography, so I had no idea how close they really were]. Please get to a protected area. EEEEEEEEEEEEEE ERRRRRRRRRRRR EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!"

Gee. Thanks. That certainly helped everything. I started just screaming in my car at no one and no thing in particular. Cars again were coming to a stop because of the idiots who were blocking lanes of traffic to hunker down under bridges, leaving all us unlucky fools behind them in the lurch. I came to a stop again. Geo was calling. Here's THAT conversation:

Geo: Are you okay? Where are you?
Me: Hey. I'm fine [thanks to the maniacal yelling I had just gotten out of my system], the hail has almost stopped, but now I'm stuck behind a bunch of idiots blocking the road.
Geo: Uh, okay. Where are you?
Me: I'm almost getting off on Highway 7, but the roads are blocked.
Geo: Okay, well, um. Just so you know, you're kind of like RIGHT IN THE STORM. Can you get underneath something?
Me: [seething] No. I. Can't.
Geo: Okay, well, just get home.
Me: %^&*%*@@^!*&$^&*#$%^#$#$%&^&%$$##! MOVE YOU MORONS!!!!!

Click.

I use the only tools at my disposal. I lay on my horn, and roll down my window and just start screaming. "MOVE, YOU IDIOTS! YOU CAN'T JUST BLOCK THE *#&%*@#*% ROAD! MOOOOOOOOVE!"

Like Moses parting the Red Sea, cars started to move and make way for the crazy woman in the Subaru who was still wearing her kickboxing wrist wraps. I mercifully passed all the jerkwads and thanked them with a couple choice hand gestures.

So I'm like 3 minutes away from home when the hail starts again. I've HAD it with this hail. I start screaming "STOP IT! JUST STOP IT!!!!!!!" Then I start alternating between hysterically crying and hysterically laughing. I am full-on manic. To make matters worse, I'm now shaking. This could be for a number of reasons. I hadn't eaten dinner yet, I had just had a full-out kickboxing class and I was exhausted, my air conditioning was still on Super High, and, oh yeah. I was going insane.

Finally, I pull into our driveway. I couldn't care less about the horrible hail damage on my car, which I think also cracked my windshield, I just book it inside to the safety of my house. I run up the stairs, hoping to be swept into a hug or raucous round of applause and cheers, but instead, all my roommates are standing outside on our deck WATCHING the storm.

I'm a wreck.

Geo says "Good! You made it! You were basically driving IN THE STORM THE WHOLE TIME. Crazy, right?"

Buddy? You have NO idea...

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Fit Proposal

Okay, Fitness Together, you got me. After literally TWO years of me ignoring calls from “Scott at FT”, you finally managed to get me at least interested enough in you again to go re-check your website to see if you had lowered your astronomical rates. Note: They had not. I guess I can’t be sure, though, because they don’t post their rates online. In the wise words of my mother, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” (Second Note: Fitness Together is a place where you basically work out with a certified personal trainer every session “who will push you just hard enough to get results.” Sounded lovely at the time, but it costs an arm and a leg to work out there – quite possibly the reason for the literal weight loss.) The fact is, though, that they at least got me to go back to their website. That should be considered a victory for them. How did they do it, you ask? How did they, after roughly 2 years and 36 voicemails, manage to FINALLY leave an impression on me?

Scott told me I had won a contest wherein I was voted one of their Top Ten Least Favorite People.

His voicemail (yeah, I ignored his call for the 37th time) was a whole mess of marketing ploys – like throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall, hoping one would stick. He started by trying to appeal to my sense of Minnesota pride. “The Twins are doing terribly, amiright?! Let’s share in their misery!” He followed that up with a whole bunch of blah blah blah about vague sports references. As much as I like the Minnesota Twins, their horrible record right now does not exactly get me fired up enough to whip out my wallet and drop $100 a week for personal training. I’m still not even sure how those two things “fit together” anyway. (Get it? FIT Together? FITNESS Together?!)

Then came the numbers game. “For $99, you get two free weeks of training!” Hmm, I’m listening. “Okay, technically it’s three sessions for one week, and you have to bring a friend to all those three sessions,” Uh, okay, so that’s where the “two weeks” came in. It’s not two weeks for ME, it’s ONE week for TWO people. “Blah blah blah, burn this many calories, $75,000 value, can’t put a price on fitness, this incredible ‘deal’ is only available this week”. Yup, you lost me again.

Just as I’m about to preemptively dial 7 to delete the message, I hear Scott quickly add on one final ploy. “Now Pharon, the reason you were chosen to get this offer is because you were voted one of our Top 10 Least Favorite People!" Hold the phone (literally). Now THAT’S got some fire to it. Moi?! Least favorite!? How dare they! I’ve only been playing HARD TO GET for 2 years…and now, not only are they sitting around hating me – ME! – but they are willing to actually reward me for it?! I jotted down Scott’s number, and momentarily thought of calling him back to both demand an explanation and sign up post-haste for the training sessions to redeem myself.

Keep in mind, I have never met these people before. I made one little phone call to them 2 years ago, asking how much their program costs. They said something like “A zillion dollars. Cash or credit?” So, natch, I decided to never talk to them again. Now I find out they’re all talking about how much I suck? In the words of Stephanie Tanner, How rude!

I gotta say, though, Scott at Fitness Together, I saved your voicemail. I will never actually sign up with Fitness Together, mind you. You just can’t argue with numbers. But I am considering calling to tell them that this particular marketing tactic just might work on someone. If you can’t lower your rates, I guess the next best effective method would be to insult your potential clients? Does that sound right? Because, uh, it kind of worked. It definitely helped that Scott actually CONGRATULATED me on this prestigious award, and he sounded downright cheery when he broke the news to me. So it’s like, “Hahaha, we know you’re avoiding us, and we’re totally on to you. But we refuse to give up on you, Slacker!” And I mean, I really can’t fault them for that. It’s like they want me to be a part of their circle. And it’s the kind of circle where they playfully make fun of me while also helping me get rid of my back fat. That sounds like a pretty good circle!

Like I said, though, you can’t argue with numbers. Money is money. And because I’m the kind of person who aspires to use coupons, never throws away a holey sock (they still WORK, sheesh!), never buys new sports bras (they hardly get used anyway), and who can’t justify buying a new pair of $80 running shoes because “I’d never wear them!”, I hardly think I’m the kind of person who can work “personal trainer” into the budget.

I tip my hat to you, Fitness Together. If there was ANY way I’d sign up with you, outside of you lowering your rates considerably, it would have been this very voicemail. Not the Twins crap, or the math-heavy “deal” nonsense, but the simple and loving way you shamed and insulted me. Well played!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom's the Word

Okay, this is very, very serious and it is of utmost importance. You have a mission, people. My brother and sister entered this contest for Dairy Queen. They made a commercial, and it was one of 24 chosen to compete in the final contest. You HAVE GOT TO GO VOTE for this video, so they can win...wait for it...a Mini Cooper! Seriously! So, Step One: Go to the video on YouTube. Step Two: Laugh your butts off. Step Three: Follow the link under the video to VOTE FOR THEIR SUBMISSION! (Or you can just click here). Step Four: Share it with all your friends on Facebook by allowing it to post on your wall. They only have one more week to rack up as many votes as possible. They legitimately have the best video, so they def deserve to win! Please go vote every day!!!!

So Mother's Day. I personally had a great Mother's Day, despite not being a mother. My parents and my brother and I met up with my aunts and cousins and grandma to have some brunch to celebrate. And the hostess walked up to each woman and, all cheery-like, asked "Are YOU a mother?!" She got to me and started to hand me the congratulatory carnation, and I said "Nope" and without missing a beat, she spun on her heels and moved on. Well, forgive me for wasting your time, lady... But brunch was lovely. It was fantastic to be together. And big ups to my 93 year-old grandma who got a cell phone from my dad as a gift and actually USED it! Yay! When we were leaving, Perek said to her "Just hit me up on my cell." She definitely lol'd.

The big news, though, was the fact that my dad - he did a GREAT job shopping this Mother's Day! - surprised my mom with a new red Mustang convertible.


The reason why this is so significant is because my mom currently drives this kind of car:


Yeah. So now she finally has a car that isn't the size of a garage for normal sized cars. Her reaction was priceless when my dad brought her outside to meet her new car. She laughed, she screamed, she demanded to know where her VAN was...old habits die hard I guess. (For the record, she's still going to have the van, though Lord only knows why...) So we piled in the new convertible and drove to brunch. It was like 45 degrees. Perek and I were in the back. It was cold. But we got a thumbs up from a dude on a motorcycle, so that made it all very much worth it.

My mom definitely deserved a super fun, all-out Mother's Day. She's a totally bomb mom. She's had five kids and looks better than she did twenty years ago (which is majorly awesome, considering her hubby is a plastic surgeon and she's officially had NO work done. Big time props for that!) She's always supportive, she's funny, she's kind, and overall is a genuine hero of mine. And remembering how nasty I was as a pre-teen (and teenager, and young adult, and adult), I am awed by her ability to not only look past my many indiscretions, but to help me learn from them and become a better person. I feel like the luckiest kid in the world.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all the moms out there who have seen more poopy diapers than anyone really ever should, and who, despite many sleepless nights, still manage to get up and teach their kids to be good people. You are all heroes in my book! Not that I'm looking to follow your lead any time soon, but still. Thanks for all the good work you've done this and every year, Mom! Words can't express how extremely awesome you are. Now, here's my best attempt at some "motherly advice" to my own mother. "You better not let me catch you driving even ONE mile an hour over the speed limit in that hot rod, missy! And don't forget to get oil changes every 3,000 miles. Oh, and I'll probably need to borrow that car to cruise the lakes at some point this summer. Thanks!" I love you, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spanglish is My Second Language

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, todo el mundo! That means "Happy Cinco de Mayo, entire world!" in Spanish. Or something. My Spanish is a little rustido. I celebrated by having an authentic Mexican meal of steak with broccoli. Fine, it's not Mexican in the least. The wine that Geo got, though, is pretty authentic, I think. It's called Los Vascos, which sounds pretty Spanish to me. It means "The Bosques". And bosque is the name for areas of gallery forest found along the riparian flood plains of stream and river banks in the southwestern United States. Thanks, Wikipedia!

I'm also not quite sure what Cinco de Mayo is, per se. Something about Mexico and France, apparently. I am going to go ahead and assume, though, that the original holiday was marked by women painting their nails and watching TV. So, I'm going all out to honor the original intent of the day.

You know what's sad? I spent FIVE years in middle and high school learning Spanish. Five years conjugating verbs, giving myself Spanish names (Yolanda, Esperanza, Ana, Burrita), five years asking where the library is and giving someone instructions for how to prepare a proper hamburguesa. I passed the AP test in high school with flying colors, and didn't need to take any more Spanish classes. But now I know almost no espanol. I know the dumb stuff - cerveza, biblioteca, camarero, izquierda. Crap like that. But the fact that I used to be able to carry on FULL conversations in Spanish boggles my mind now. I'm totally useless in Mexico now.

But because I had the most hard-core Spanish teacher straight from Cuba or something, who wore gym shorts over his jeans, I will ALWAYS remember these helpful phrases/words: "Muertos agradecidos" (the Grateful Dead). "Cocaina" (cocaine). "Embarazada" (pregnant - NOT "embarassed". This mix-up WILL prove embarrassing if used improperly). "Mierda! Policia!" ($hit! The police!). And of course "Yo no estoy listo para tomar la examen." (I'm not ready to take the test yet). Guys, you just can't put a price on a strong education.

So I've been to Mexico four times - cuatros veces. And every time I go, I know fewer and fewer Spanish words. The last time I was there, I didn't even ATTEMPT to ask the concierge if we could get a taxi for 6 people at 7 p.m. And that's EASY! Because after my immediate major mistake of trying to ask the front desk guy for another key to my room (I asked for "una otra puerta", which means "another door"), I gave up altogether. Soy una idiota.

I guess it's like math. I'm sure I must have learned basic multiplication and division at one point, but since I've never used applied it in real life, the information just got replaced with facts about Ke$ha. Just like Spanish, apparently. If you don't use it, you lose it. Adios, muchachos.

Anyway, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I've gone through the trouble of google translating the following phrase into Spanish. ¡Tenga un gran fin de semana, todos! ¡Y no se olvida de dar su mamá es un exceso abrazo gigante el domingo! ¡Veré ya entonces! (From what I can guess, it means "Have a great weekend, everyone! And always remember to put your mom in an excessive big Sunday! I already saw then!") I couldn't have said it better myself. Feliz Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

Hasta la vista!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dear Crabby

You guessed it, kids. More reader queries!

Hey Crabby,

I understand you favor vodka tonics over all drinks, but I need help! I'm having my boyfriends parents over this weekend, and I'd like to have a decent wine to serve so I make a good impression. I just have NO idea what to get! Do you have any suggestions so I don't look like a dummy in front of them? Also, I'm currently in school with a job that barely pays the rent, so I really don't want to spend a lot. Heeeelp!

Love,
Whining About Wine


Dear Wino Whining,

Yipes! The crucial Hosting Dinner for the Boyfriends Parents! Sounds like you guys are pretty serious - congrats! That said, I won't lie to you. It's pretty important not to mess this up. However, the wine might be the least of your worries. Have you thought about what to wear? If you'll use a tablecloth? What to do in the event of food poisoning!? Personally, those are my biggest fears. But okay, let's deal with the wine. Here's my rule of thumb about wine: It's ALL good if you drink enough of it. Besides that, my knowledge is lacking. But my easiest suggestion is to buy a carafe or a decanter. You can find cheap ones like this one: Cheap Decanter. Then, it really doesn't matter what crapola wine you put in there. Just get RED wine because it looks fancier to me (I'd go for a safe choice like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir. Merlot tastes like blood and anything else seems like too much of a wild card). Also? If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, go stock up there. It's cheap and delicious. And they don't really sell bad wine per se, so you can't go wrong. Then dump it in the carafe, and no one will know what you spent on it! If they ask, just say something like "Oh, it's a private reserve that's only available in [insert your city name here] during the last couple weeks." Yay! You'll win them over in NO time! Good luck, pal! :)

Dear Crabby,

I'm hungry. What should I have for dinner?

Thanks,
Hungry in Harrisburg


Dear Hungry,

Well geez, I don't know! Cereal with peanut butter toast sounds good to me. Uh, or pasta? Or seared scallops? I don't know, can you cook? What ingredients do you have? Do you know how to operate a garlic press? Man, I'm stumped. Uh, how about a hobo dinner? Hobo dinners are fabulously delicious and perfect for grilling. I'm making one myself tonight. It's stupid-proof, too. Chop up potatoes, yellow peppers and onions, toss em together with some garlic powder and whatever other spices make sense, plop a few blobs of butter in it, then wrap it all in a little tinfoil sack. Put on grill and some time later (15 minutes? An hour? I don't know, what do I look like? A psychic?) you'll open it up and it's deeeeeelish! Yeah, make that. Or whatever, go with the cereal.

Dear Crabby,

So, I was offered a job today, but it involves kind of a significant pay cut, which is not great. My job now is sucky but it pays way better. What do you think? Do I take it?

Love always,
Help Wanted


Dear Help Wanted,

Well la-di-da. You've got one job, and another has been offered to you? All your unemployed fellow citizens should BE so lucky! Okay, joking aside, here's the dealio. If you were LOOKING for a new job - go for it. I'm no expert on job hunting, but I feel like you're unhappy with your current job if you're out there looking for others. You must weigh the pros and cons, though. Hey! Maybe you should make a list! Anyway, you have to figure out what you are lacking in your old job, and just make sure the new job fills those gaps. Does it come down to challenges? Work load? Social atmosphere? Money? (Well, okay, with the pay cut this is a non-issue.) Whatever it is, make sure the pay cut is worth it. Paychecks can't buy super fun happy hours, good friends, challenging works, and pride. If the new job is a good fit - take it! Then buy a bunch of stuff from the pharonsquare store! Yay! It's good karma, yo!

These were tough questions! Pretty sure I passed with flying colors, though. DON'T FORGET! Send your questions to pharonsquare@gmail.com and I'll give you a piece of my mind.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Girl, You So Crazy

I try and not use this blog as a personal therapy session too often. But I'm a human, and sometimes I end up spilling my conflicted guts on here. I mean, I try to thinly veil my current problem with hilarious, relevant stories that allow me work through something, but I try and not be so obvious about it. It's like hiding a dog's heartworm medicine inside a treat so he won't even know he's eating it.

I've been driving myself CRAZY lately. I've been kind of forced persuaded to consider the phrase "Where is this going?" in regards to my relationship lately. It's just like this little tiny seed that was tossed at my brain, and somehow, it's grown roots against my will. I'm not a particularly forceful person when it comes to relationships, either. I'm more like "Whatever works, works." But all of a sudden, this question came tearing into my psyche and it Freaked. Me. Out. So, I did what any sane, modern, fabulous woman would do. I immediately dumped it on Geo while he was studying for his class. I casually tossed out the "I'm sort of interested in learning your view on the figurative directional propulsion of our current partnership status." In other words: Where is this going?

Needless to say, I had caught him off guard. He didn't have a statement prepared, and we had this messy, fumbling conversation about generalities and "organic relationship evolution" and I hate to admit this, but I mumbled the phrase "biological clock" at one point. It was not pretty. I had no idea what I wanted to actually accomplish in the conversation, and thusly had not prepared the appropriate brainwashing technique I would use. So, we were both verbally sinking and flailing, desperate for the other person to get a grip and pull the other one back on to Sanity Shore. Eventually, we managed to get back on even ground and just went about our days.

That, by no means, implies the root discussion has gone away. In FACT! The whole flailing around thing shook me up quite a bit. So now I'm all "What does this mean? What does THAT mean? Do I need to wear sweatpants less? Am I supposed to make him not play video games as much? Should I invest more in candles and strawberries? Do we need a love fern?" And it's all just grossing me out. But THAT - the fact that it's grossing me out - is probably the most disturbing part. I'm just going to come out and say this, if only to qualify myself as a Non Crazy Girlfriend. I'm a great girlfriend. I really am. I prefer to have my own set of friends, I like it when he goes out and does things he enjoys - if only so he can get out of my way when I want to eat a pint of ice cream in peace - I like his friends, I support his ambitions, I think he's funny (sometimes), I'm thoughtful without being overbearing, and I'm overall a laid back kind of gal.

So, what, I exhibit cliche girlfriend behavior ONCE and I send myself down this "Am I Crazy?!" spiral? I for one can't handle it. I think I'm allowed this. I'm pretty sure I've earned the right to have one girlie, typical reaction every once in awhile. To be fair, Geo hasn't done ANYthing to make me feel bad about bringing the whole thing up. (Oddly, he doesn't seem to really remember the conversation even happened.) But, like, he hasn't done anything to make me NOT feel bad about it. Yes, I hear myself say these things and want to stick a fork in my eye, but I can't help it. I'm powerless to the feminine instincts. I chalk it up to the natural male tendencies to avoid serious subjects at all costs. But why am I beating myself up over indulging - once! - in my own version of the banal?

I chatted with my girlfriends about this and came to this conclusion. (There's not ONE girl I know who hasn't found themselves in this position, so I was dealing with experts here.) Guys? Get over yourselves. Women are not scary, crazy aliens who are out to devour your souls and ruin your life by - gasp! - calmly asking what the dealio is. We aren't insane beasts of vengeance who want nothing more than to lock you into a committed relationship. (Okay, SOME women are like that and they give women like ME a very, very bad name. Cut that out, Crazy Women! You're ruining everything!) And most importantly, I'm not a lunatic for feeling like I want to discuss the possibilities of the next step. There's a reason some things become cliche - because lots of times it's just nature and it happens all the time. I guess I just have to remind myself that just because I may be ready to get a bit more serious, it doesn't instantly turn me into a woman who constantly ruins her man's fun and makes him stay in on weekends doing home improvement projects.

My point - and I do have one - is that I really don't think I've devolved into some maniacal girlfriend who wants to eat Geo's soul just because I brought up - again, ONCE! - the issue of our future. Geo isn't the one making me feel like this, by the way. (Sure he's not going out of his way to assure me I'm not insane, but still.) I think there's a fine line between a girl who's obsessed with getting married and a girl who just wants to know if she should start trying to get back down to her Single Girl Weight. I have convinced myself, after the fleeting thoughts of - dun dun duuuuuun! - marriage crossed my mind, that I'm of the Marriage-Obsessed type. But you know what? I'm NOT. I'm not insane. I'm really looking forward to a marriage, don't get me wrong. All those presents at the wedding!?! Sweet! But just because it's in my brain now doesn't mean it's running the show. Yay! I've discovered I'm not crazy.

Thanks for listening, doc. How much do I owe you?