Monthly Archives: April 2012

Professional Adventurer!

In exactly two weeks an 12 hours I’ll be heading out to the airport for a work-required week in Europe. I have the luxury of landing on a Sunday and getting to take an extra day at the end to do some sight-seeing, and the rest of the time I will be shuttling between offices located in different countries.

It’s a hard life. I know.

The Houses of Parliament

Work’s challenging, but it’s the rest of it that’s driving me the kind of crazy my friend Amanda reserves only for her mother.  My job is kind of demanding but actually incredibly rewarding, so I can’t complain and am really interested in keeping it.  I noticed yesterday that some of the stress at home has been taking a toll on me mentally, diminishing my ability to pay attention to detail.  If that weren’t one of the key requirements for my position I wouldn’t freak out too much.

To put myself in a good humor yesterday I started looking at weekend getaways, either to stay with friends across the US or to take a road trip in my new(ish) car.  Yesterday evening the tension culminated in an atomic blow-out from the Girl Cookie so I made the decision that time to unwind is absolutely necessary.  Yes – even though I have a European Mini-Tour scheduled for two weeks from tomorrow morning.

The Fairmont Dallas. Best poolside waiters ever.

This time tomorrow I will be stretched out in a bikini on the beach (or just at my hotel pool) reading a book and having a drink.  Maybe I’ll hole up in the hotel room and play video games all night! Regardless, I’m going to be cherishing quality alone time without kids, pets, boyfriends, and any other responsibilities whatsoever.

Life doesn’t have to be hard 🙂

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The Teenage Microbiologist – pt. 2

Girl Cookie has been grounded and her chore yesterday was to clean her room. Since you can’t see her carpet, just picking up stray stuff is a task in itself.  I haven’t ventured in there myself in several weeks (months?), so I was unprepared for the latest dose of foulness.



Yesterday afternoon she began throwing clothes and linens in different piles and in different baskets in the living room.  Most of it was focused in the areas outside of her door, but some of it is also piled by the kitchen.  We’re moving in a month and a half so I figured this was following the Ninja’s orders to get rid of the clothes that she’s outgrown or doesn’t wear.


I didn’t dig too deep to find the method in the madness since our relationship is in a delicate state right now. (Is nitroglycerine delicate? Is that the right word?) I hung out in the living room for a few hours until my arms needed my nightly dose of knock-out nerve drug and then holed up in the Ninja’s bed.


I came out at one point to either lock the door or grab a snack, and while in my cement-head drug-addled state I thought I was being choked by rancid kitty litter.  Smells are particulate and I felt like someone had been throwing a neglected, rotten cat box in the living room.  Now when I’m taking these nerve drugs I can be so cement-headed that I can sleep for twelve hours like it was fifteen minutes and still be hazy four hours later in the middle of working.


This would have been more pleasant


I woke up a few hours later and forced myself to stay awake since the Ninja was heading home with food. I wandered into the living room and the smell was still there!  Was it the clothes?  How can tee shirts smell so bad?  The Ninja walked in the door and within a minute he was gagging on the smell.  I thought it came from the food experiments she let cultivate and then dumped in the trash and down the sink.


It turns out that her room had been smelling highly funky for quite some time – the Ninja had smelled it but I hadn’t. After a few minutes he pinpointed the mildewy towels mounted up against the ottoman.  I went into my boxes from my apartment and pulled out my most potent candles and he made plans to crack down when he wakes up.



That was 8 hours ago, the candle has been burning for 5-6.  It still smells like rancid kitty litter even though Ninja put a load of the offending towels in the washing machine and I’m practically using the candle fumes and wax like an inhaler.  Girl Cookie has woken up and is on the phone with her mother and giving me the Stink Eye.  I don’t think she realizes the shitstorm that’s about to ensue.


How could she not smell this?!??

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I Am Not Your Mother – I Am James Bond

I Am Not Your Mother – I Am James Bond.

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I Am Not Your Mother – I Am James Bond

I know I haven’t posted in a while – there hasn’t been much to post about aside from family drama. Living with a 13-year-old who thinks she’s 23 can create drama.  Add into the mix the fact that I’m now an authority figure but neither her mother nor married to her father and it leads to nothing but trouble.

I’ll let you imagine that mess – no need to post about it.

What I have been up to lately, however, has been driving like I own a race car.  I have a speedy little import (manual transmission, dual exhaust), but it’s not tricked-out or anything.  When I drive it, though, I feel like I’m James Bond.  I love feeling like a spy, but it’s not quite satisfying my car-driving needs.

This is me, in my head

I have always loved driving and road trips. I don’t have to be behind the wheel in order to enjoy a good ride, either. Riding along is soothing – the motion of the car, observing the surroundings, even cursing out other bonehead drivers.  When I was just a tot, before I went to school, I learned how to read a map. Ever since I’ve been my family’s official navigator, even for the long trips from the Midwest to the South.

Since I’ve been able to drive I’ve seen my car as a sanctuary – the open road inviting and really my only destination. A radio, a few snacks, and sunglasses were all I need, maybe even an overnight bag. I’ve always felt that roads are inviting, calling me to “come and find!” whatever’s beyond the horizon. It sounds cliché, but that’s really my experience as a driver.

My first car was old but it had a 3.1L V6 and was extremely fuel efficient. I used to drive from Wisconsin to Toledo and Detroit on a regular basis (sometimes just on a few hours’ notice) when I was just barely out of high school.  The last time I went to Detroit I made the great circle – I went south on 94 to Detroit and came home through the UP and highway 2 through Eastern Wisconsin. It took forever, but the beauty of the Northwoods and the craziness of the people who live there was absolutely worth it.

Mackinaw Bridge, connecting the two Michigan peninsulas

I used to make the 20-hour drive between Wisconsin/Minnesota and Western Virginia in 14-16 hours. Central Illinois is pretty flat and boring, aside from the one windmill farm you pass on your way to Bloomington/Normal.  Just like the main peninsula of Michigan, everyone’s going 85-100 mph and the roads are mostly straight.

You have the stretch from Kentucky to the Appalachian Mountains where you can’t get away with speeding (unless you want to whip yourself off the side of a mountain) but the curves are thrilling to maneuver. You can look out the window on a bridge and not be able to see how far below the ground is. A minute later you can look out the window to see rock walls and have trouble craning your neck to see the tops.

McAfee's Knob, overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway

My latest road trips were from the Midwest to Las Vegas and I didn’t have the good fortune of driving a car built for the thrill of the road. My first trip to the desert was through Nebraska/Colorado/Utah in a pile of crap that was barely capable of going 70 mph. The speed limit for much of this route is 70+ mph, so I was not popular on the rare occasion there were other drivers on the highway.  The mountains of Colorado are delightful if you’re driving anything other than what amounts to a shopping cart with the brakes stuck on.

I-70 heading into Utah

I drove a friend from Vegas to Florida because she didn’t want to ship her car. Oklahoma tried to kill us with rain, but the characters we met in Florida were worth it.

Pro tip: Clearwater is a great place to visit, if you ignore that’s where Scientology is headquartered.  The Tampa area is pretty awesome, but I like the beaches in Clearwater the best.

Last year I made the trip through South Dakota/Wyoming/Utah in a car that was slightly better suited to the trip. It was tiny and I was able to go 85 mph without the car falling apart.

Western Wyoming, near Rock Springs

My new car is DEFINITELY suited for the adventures of the open road.  The only problem with my new car is that I don’t want to crank  up the miles just yet. I plan on keeping the car until it’s old and dead but the idea still nags at me. I want to cut loose and explore the mountains and desert of Northern/Central Nevada, Arizona, and maybe even California.  The 215 and the 95 have some fun stretches, but they don’t quite satisfy the way the open road does.

For now, I’ll settle for feeling like a spy/race car driver when I’m putzing around town. Zoom zoom!

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