Thursday, December 31, 2009

You know you're a pessimist when... see those comics with the guy with the sign "The End is Near," and you think: THANK GOD IT'S ALMOST OVER!

I'm sure a lot of people feel this way about 2009 in general. It hasn't been a great year for the economy, and while my occasional inner-optimist thinks that things other than those with monetary value should be the gauge for good versus bad years, the reality is that it does take at least some money to have a good life.

I was totally planning on making my last post of the year a reflection of what I've accomplished, and all of the good things that have happened. And then I made the mistake of looking at my credit card bill (I got paid today! Yay! And I tend to do all of my online-banking-type things at the same time). My bill was about $100 higher than I expected, so I did some investigating. Usually when this sort of thing happens, it's because I've forgotten to include something in my mental tally, or I've bought something for someone else and gave them the receipt. Usually, as soon as I see the charge, I think, oh yeah, I did buy that!

This time, unfortunately, the reaction was more like: what the hell? Followed by: do I really have to deal with this? and: When will this end?

The answers to those questions are as follows:

The hell was a charge for $119.90 from Enterprise. Remember back in November when I had to have a rental because someone rear-ended me on 805? Well, Enterprise thinks I signed up for coverage (when I asked the guy on the phone, coverage of what?, it took me a while to figure out that they had charged me that annoying rental coverage that companies always offer and that you never need because your regular car insurance should cover you). I don't have my paperwork in front of me right now, but I think this is what happened: I think the girl helping me wrote at the top of my form that I declined coverage, but then I had to initial something saying that I was informed of this option. Something probably went wrong with the initialing process. Because I know I didn't want this coverage.

No, I guess I don't really have to deal with this. I could just pay it. But I shouldn't have to. So my options are to deal with Enterprise (I was told the office manager would call me on Monday, but given my disaster with phone-communication with the dentist the other day, I think I'll just go into the office), or dispute it with my credit card company. I'm going to first try to be civil with Enterprise, but if they still won't refund my money, I'll dispute it with my credit card. I've never actually disputed anything before, so I'm not sure if I do, if I still have to pay for it while it's being disputed (my guess is yes), or else be charged the interest on it.

As for the when will this end, it certainly seems like never.

So much for ending the year on an up note.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Changing my Dentist

Here's the problem I'm facing: my husband and I are changing dentists and I'm trying to get his dental records from the old office to the new office.

Yesterday, one of the staff at our new dentist called and left the old dentist a message. The old office never got back to her, so this morning I called the old dentist to see if they would fax me the form for my husband to sign to have his records, specifically his x-rays, sent to the new office. The 12-year-old on the phone told me there was nothing to sign and that they would just fax them to the new place.

I was a bit skeptical of this, as I had to sign something a few weeks ago to have my records sent, but since this was even easier for me, I crossed my fingers...and was foiled again by the stupidity of others.

I emailed the lovely woman, Laurie, at the new dentist's asking her to let me know if she received the fax, and of course by lunchtime she hadn't. So I called the old dentist again, which is when I found out that the 12-year-old, named Priscilla, was, in fact, wrong. And that they couldn't get a hold of me because they didn't have my phone number, which I find inconceivable, since I know I wrote it on the form when I went to see them back in March, but maybe literacy is overrated in their office.

At any rate, I asked Priscilla to send me the form...which she did...sort of. She sent me a form, but not the right form. So I called back again, and spoke with someone else. At this point, I was feeling rather hysterical about all of this...apparently dealing with morons moves me to hysteria at warp speed. So I took on that tone. You know, the one your mom used and you knew if you put one toe out of line things worse than you could possibly imagine would happen to you. Not because I'm any real threat to the dentist's office, but mostly it was as close as I could come to sounding calm about this whole ordeal.

As I'm reading what I'm writing, it sounds an awful lot to me like I'm overreacting. Which is possible. I've had such unprofessional and frustrating experiences with the old dentist in the past that it is really hard for me to remain calm about this.

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking to myself, this situation is making me really not happy. And, I'm thinking of making my third New Year's resolution to actively be happier. I know I'll feel happier when I'm done dealing with the old dentist. Although my anticipation of this future happiness is probably greater than the actual happiness because 1: it always is, and 2: I'll just have other things to deal with.

So, I have the wonderful benefit of working in an office where I'm allowed to use my cell phone, and send faxes, and basically deal with my life as long as I get my work done. Thus I was able to communicate this fiasco to my husband.

I'm sure you'd like to know the resolution of a day spent trying to get people to do their job: hubby walked into the office (in my imagination, with his gun belt on, but it's really possible that it wasn't) and walked out five minutes later with his file.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Goodbye to an Era

Today I used my Sony clie personal entertainment organizer for the last time. My mother bought it for me for Christmas way back in 2001 and I have been using it ever since. That's a pretty good life for an electronic devise that has basically gone the way of the VCR since the advent of smart phones.

Up until my clie, I had been using a paper system to keep organized. You know, one of those gigantic binder-type things that had a calendar, an address book, sections for to-do lists, and even places to hold business cards. It was very heavy. And my clie was comparatively light.

When I purchased my clie, I could sync it to my computer with a usb cord. I didn't do this very often because it was a bit of a hassle. Sometime around 2005 or 2006 my clie started refusing to sync. I figured the software it came with was no longer compatible with my new computer or something along those lines, and I didn't worry about it very much. As I said, I didn't sync it very often, and it hadn't caused me any problems. Probably because I was very good at keeping it charged.

Until, in February 2009, when I took it to Egypt with me. I'm not even sure why I brought it--I didn't turn it on once during the trip. So I was shocked when I arrived back in the US and the battery had died. I guess I had never fully tested the battery life. And presumably that life had been getting shorter and shorter without me noticing it. I got home, plugged it in, and let it charge.

Then I turned it on.

And there was nothing. None of my contacts. None of my upcoming events and activities. And probably, worst of all, NO BOOK LIST. This was when panic set in.

I have a very good memory, but what if I forgot something? Something important? Like my wedding anniversary!

My husband and I were able to recall most, or possible all, of the events we had lined up for the next month or so. We figured we could just call people for addresses, and we even did a pretty good job of recreating my book list (my husband is secretly a super-hero).

I started paying attention to how often I had to charge my clie. I noticed it was about every 2-3 days. I also noticed that it seemed to take a really long time to charge. I went out and bought a standard, book-style address book that we have been dutifully filling. And I decided to go back to a more-or-less paper system of keeping track of activities. I had a very nice spiral notepad/journal and I taped calendar pages to it (yes, this does sound totally lame, but it's actually a system that works very well for me). I can keep all of my lists of random things (from who we're going to send Christmas cards to, to our plan for paying off our non-mortgage debt) in one place.

I had been co-using this system along with my clie...just to see how the transition went (I am thoroughly anal-retentive). So far, so good. Which is why I decided to retire my clie. Now it will sit in a drawer, probably until we decide to move again, at which time I'll figure out the best way to dispose of it and any other miscellaneous electronic flotsam we've acquired (I'm not sure what's in it, but I'm pretty sure that like cell phones, it doesn't belong in the landfill).

However, I've also had my eye on the Blackberry Storm.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Deliberate Life

Are people totally bored with what I have to say? I hope not. One of my most interesting friends once told me that I'm not boring. That doesn't actually mean that I'm fascinating, but it's a start.

Maybe it's that I'm now 30. I feel like I can't really say anymore, oh, I have the rest of my life to do such and such. Based on my genetics (touch wood) I'm likely to live to my 80s or 90s, but by then, I really will be old. I spend a good deal of time stealing a great line from Talking Heads' Once in a Lifetime, Well, how did I get here?

You may recall my post about turning 30. I haven't really come up with any brilliant goals to accomplish before I turn 40, but I have been thinking a lot more about leading a deliberate life. I know I picked up that phrase somewhere, and I found a book called A Life Deliberate, but I know I haven't read it. Maybe I read an article about it once. At any rate, I'm going to attempt to lead my life more deliberately. As I'm sure everyone can attest to, it is very easy to just let your life happen to you. But I don't want to be sitting in some rocking chair in my 80s or 90s with my sexy blue hair and realize that I didn't do much with my life.

So my second resolution for 2010 is to lead a deliberate life. Deliberately joyful. Deliberately full. Deliberately engaged.

This is gonna take practice.

Griping About My Sister

Does one ever get too old to gripe about their siblings? I doubt it.

Last night we had my husband's grandmother's pasta sauce for dinner. It's this nice, chunky sauce with ground beef, bacon, veggies, and I think I forgot the seasonings, but no one seemed to notice. We were going to have it on Monday, but my sister had class (I know, if you've actually been paying attention to the chronology, this doesn't make sense. She graduated from the MBA. She's also getting some sort of not-for-profit certification. That she's not done with). So we scheduled this pasta sauce extravaganza for Tuesday.

Yesterday morning, my sister even brought over her pasta (she has celiac disease, so she can't eat normal pasta). And then she never showed up for dinner. She claims she didn't get the message that dinner was at 6:45-7ish. Which is possible. But she's my sister. It's not like she needs a formal invitation to show up at my house. And it's not like we were eating dinner at a strange time. Isn't 7ish normal dinner time?

My sister is not the most reliable person you'll ever meet. She's fine for work...she always seems to get her job done and her schoolwork turned in on time, but I would guesstimate that about 50% of the time she doesn't show up for other things when she says she will. And that might be a low estimate. Maybe she's better with her friends. I don't know.

When I was in college, she would always say she was so excited when I was coming home (I went to school in Montana, we lived in New Jersey; I didn't come home that often). And then I'd get home and she'd want nothing to do with me. Then I realized: she doesn't really want to hang out with me; she just wants the option of doing so.

No doubt, this is the situation nowadays. Now that we both live in San Diego, she once again has the option of hanging out with me. Which, of course, means she won't really do it too much. My husband and I have actually gotten quite good at not being completely annoyed by this behavior. It's just become, whatever: maybe she'll show up, maybe she won't.

My mother, unfortunately, still gets terribly upset about this. Why didn't your sister call? Why doesn't she answer the phone? She is so rude! Yeah, mom, good luck taming this beast.

What's additionally distressing is that neither my my sister's nor my mother's behavior is likely to change. I kept thinking, but my husband and I are here. Don't worry about my sister. She knows where we are and she knows when dinner is. If she doesn't want to come, that's her problem.
I've always thought the parable of the prodigal son was crappy. I still think it is.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I've been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions. Mostly because my jeans aren't fitting quite as well as I'd like, which forces me to face the fact that, as much as I'd like to believe they've shrunk just a little too much in the dryer, I'm probably not exercising as much as I should. Or I'm eating too much. The scale, for the record, has remained steady. Which clearly indicates that I've lost muscle (which is more dense and takes up less space) and gained fat. I would just like to clarify that I am well aware that muscle does not turn into fat. Which isn't making me any happier about my jeans situation.

2009 has just been a crazy, stressful, insane year for me, and I'm looking forward to having it behind me. Don't get me wrong: I've had a great year. Too great, perhaps.

Hubby and I closed 2008 with me getting a job and finishing my MBA program.

Then, in February, we spend two wonderful weeks in Egypt.

Then we spent four months looking for and buying a house. As soon as we signed all our paperwork, and turned over the biggest check we'd ever written, we hopped on a flight to Oregon, for the first of five weddings that we attended over the summer (of the eight to which we were invited). Between weddings, we painted and moved.

Then, in September, my dad came for a week and did a ton of stuff on the house.

Then my mother and her friend came for a week, and did a bunch of other stuff for the house.

Then we had friends come and visit. (We live in San Diego! Our winters are great! Come! Escape yours!)

Then, in November, both of my in-laws came to visit (I've been living in SD for two and a half years and I've been inviting my in-laws this whole time. They both decided to come within two weeks of each other?)

Now, my mother is back for another 10 days, to watch my sister graduate from the IMBA program, and to stay through Christmas.

My first resolution for 2010? To spend more time on my couch!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Happiness Project

I was reading an must have been at the chiropractor's, because it doesn't seem reasonable that it would be in Fortune or Businessweek...about this woman who decided that she was going to spend a year actively making her life happier. You can actually read her blog here. I was intrigued by this because I am not a particularly happy person. I know I have a good life, and I appreciate this fact, but I am not particularly happy about it.

I attended a breakfast meeting last month at which we discussed optimism and pessimism, which do not exactly equal happiness, but certainly seem correlated to it. Happiness seems to be a growing science...okay, science might be too strong of a word, but it seems to be a growing area of interest. I've read a number of articles about happiness, and I own Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. I've even read it. Clearly, reading a book about happiness has not made me a happier person, but reading does make me happy.

Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, like me, knew her life was basically good, but she still wanted to be happier about it. The gist of one of her early blogs is that she doesn't want to look back on her life and realize that it just wasn't as much as it could have been.

I want to be able to look back on my life and see a life worth living. My husband thinks this makes me sound semi-suicidal, which is not at all what I mean. Right now, looking at what I've done with my life, I'm not sure that it's worth living, which is not at all to say that it's worth dying. I look back and see that I've done a lot of things that I was supposed to do that I didn't really want to but I either didn't know what, if any, alternatives there were, or I didn't know what else to do.

I think part of my problem is that I am not, by nature, a particularly curious person. (Curiosity has, in fact, been linked to happiness). This is somewhat strange: given how much I LOVE to read, one might think that I'd like to learn new things, or at least be curious about events or places I read about, or maybe even want to know more about the authors I love to read. Not so much. So I've been working on asking Why? or Why not? more.

I'm 30 years old. My husband and I both have jobs with responsibilities. I've been to grad school. I've been rejected from jobs and by sweethearts. I've got really good friend who will give me really good advise when I ask. Hell, some of my friends will just make the decision for me if they see that I'm not getting anywhere. I've got a crazy, but wonderful family,who always manages to be on my team, even if they think I've changed the sport halfway through. I'm pretty sure that I've had enough life experiences to make decisions on my own, even if they go against the norm. And when this fails, I know that I have a group of family and friends who will offer advice, or help me back out of whatever mess I've managed to get myself into.

Why? or Why not? are important questions to ask because it is really, really easy to let other people think for you, which, I'm pretty sure has led to a lot of my unhappiness. I know this sounds like I'm blaming others, which I'm not, or at least I'm not trying to do. I know this also goes exactly against what I said a paragraph ago when I said I had friends who would make a decision for me if I really couldn't. Let me clear up this last bit first. I have friends who are capable of making decisions. Which means if I'm hemming and hawing between two dresses, they'll say, oh just get the blue one. Sometimes they even say something clever, like, it matches your eyes. Or, sometimes they'll make a decision without even asking me first. As in, I found this great Cuban restaurant we can go to on Friday. Perfect! Even if the food sucks, at least I know the company will be good.

On the other hand, people will say things like, now that you own a home, you should start gardening. Why? I don't like being out side. I don't like being dirty. Why would I want to spend my precious free time doing both? Or, and this really annoyed me, although I know that wasn't the intent of the speaker, one of my friends commented that I should really look at getting a new car due to the cash for clunkers thing. Why would I want a new car? I drive a 2007 Corolla. I'd hardly call that a clunker. And I have no intention of trading it in. It's a great car, and I intend to drive it until it commits vehicular suicide on the side of the road. And this is another one of my favorites: you have a yard; you have to get a dog. Nope. I'm pretty sure that no part of having a yard mandates that I also have a canine. Why would I want a dog? They're hairy. They poop a lot. And, oh yeah, they give me hives.

I'm sure I do just as much doling out of random advise as the next person (the big difference is, I'm right). So I guess the first order of business is for me to try not to give so much unsolicited advise. The next step is to figure out what I should and should not listen to. I think this has become harder and harder with the increasing types of media to which we're exposed. And sometimes this is a really good thing. I love that Amazon has reviews on everything. But I'm just as likely to buy a new camera, for example, on the advise of a friend as I am based on 100 reviews on Amazon.

It seems I've gotten off-tangent quite a bit. I apparently do a lot of very circuitous thinking. So here's maybe a good example of why asking why is important. My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe in early 2010. Rome and Zurich in particular. That might seem a bit random, but it's not: we have friends in both of those cities. But people keep telling me to go to Barcelona. Neither my husband nor I have any actual interest in going to Spain in general, or Barcelona in particular. But since people keep suggesting it, it seems like a good time to ask why (although we still may never go to Barcelona).

I think if I started questioning more things I'd be happier because I'd end up doing less stuff that I didn't really want to just because someone else thought it was a good idea. However, I also think that if I spent less time doing stuff I don't want to, in general, I'd be happier too. And I'd probably have more time to do things that I like to do, which in turn would make me even happier. We'll just have to see how this pans out for me in 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Love the Muppets

If you haven't checked out these videos, you really, really should!

Ode to Joy

Ringing of the Bells

Bohemian Rhapsody

I'm sorry I just have the links...I don't know how to do that fancy thing where the youtube screen is in my blog...if anyone knows, please let me know, and I'll make this fancier!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A little over a month ago, I posted a rant all about how I was going to become a hippie and single-handedly save the world for all of the little baby ducks and such. Ok, not quite, but...

I did say I was going to try to use less plastic.

I've always thought it was really stupid to use those thin plastic bags for your fruits and veggies. However, I'm a little OCD, and I've also never liked putting my fruits and veggies on those conveyor belts in grocery stores. Additionally, it's supremely inconvenient to get your apples or whatever to sit still on the scale that the checker uses without having them somehow contained. And finally, I was always a little worried that the more fragile fruits and veggies, like peaches, would smack up against something in the bag and just turn into mush. At least if they're in a plastic bag, they'll only be a mushy mess for themselves, whereas if they were loose in my reusable grocery bag, the mess would involve the other groceries and I'd have to have my husband hose out the bag (ok, yes, I could hose out the bag myself, but the deal with buying the house was that I'd get a purple room and he'd deal with the I'm not sure where the hose is).

Back when I lived in Oregon my roommate made me a reusable lunch bag. We had discovered that the Victoria's Secret shopping bags were the best size for lunches. They could fit all of our tupperware and utensils, and they were sturdy enough that they didn't flop over. And then a coworker of mine observed that it looked like I was chilling my panties in the fridge. A la Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.

What I discovered with my reusable lunch bag was that even if something leaked in the bag, the bag itself was enough to contain the leak. This is important, because it indicates that a cloth bag would be enough to prevent my peaches from making a huge mess if they did get squashed in my grocery bag.

So I logged on to and purchased some produce bags. If you're going to do this, I suggest the large size only. I bought some of the smaller size, and they ended up being a different, slightly heavier material. And I discovered that the pictures of the bags are identical to me, and the descriptions are very similar for both the thinner and heavier weight fabrics, so read carefully!

Everyone I have encountered with my new reusable produce bags loved them! I took my mother-in-law to the farmers' market, and she said she wanted to get some herself. The vendors at the farmers' market asked me where I got them, if I thought they worked well, if they were machine washable. The bag-boy at Vons was visibly excited about my produce bags (when you close the draw strings, they even have handles). This prompted him to comment, gleefully, "your vegetables are already bagged! I don't have to do anything!" Of course, this wasn't exactly what I wanted. I wanted my bags of veggies to be put in my shopping bag so I would just have to carry one thing to the house and not have to root around my trunk checking that I didn't forget about the bag of onions.

I have not yet braved using my bags at the bulk bins even though the tag on the bag said they were perfect for nuts and grains...but I'm sure I'll get there. Nonetheless, I'm going to declare my reusable produce bags a whopping success...especially since I haven't had one squashed fruit since I've been using them!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Free Energy & Water Saving Kit!

SDG&E is giving away free energy and water saving kits.

Just go to this link, and follow the instructions. It's really easy. I just hope the aerators come with directions!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Good Thing About Being at Work Really, Really Late

I'm still at work. I've been here for nearly 12 hours, so I feel no guilt about taking 10 minutes to make a post.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I work in a green building. One of the green aspects is that at around 7pm all of the lights automatically go off. Inevitably, if we're working late someone screams in surprise and I run around my cube and turn on the lights (I sit closest to the lightswitch for my team).

So what could possibly be good about being at work so late they turn the lights out on you? Nothing. You have to hang around for another hour for it to get really good.

Why? Because at around 8, the cleaning crew shows up.

Our copier is located in our breakroom. And the breakroom lights go out at 7pm like the rest of the building. There are four lightswitches in the breakroom. I have no idea what they do, but none of them turn on the lights. Aha! The cleaning lady must know where the lights are!

Tonight, luck was on my side, and while I was blindly stumbling around the coffee/copy room (that's the clever name someone came up with to explain the room with the copier, fridge, vending machines, and coffee pots), lo and behold! The lights came on! And then the cleaning lady entered the coffee/copy, and I said "How'd you do that!?" She showed me that they keep the lightswitch for the coffee/copy outside the room, down the hall, and around a hidden corner. Perfect! The only room on my entire floor where you could possibly do yourself any harm, and the lightswitch is outside, down the hall and around a hidden corner! Brilliant!

I'm just glad the cleaning lady is more clever than I am!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Free Christmas Tree!

My husband and I received a free Christmas tree. "Received" isn't quite the correct word. We don't actually have it. We have to go get it. Tomorrow. During the Ducks' Civil War game. And for ironic fun, we won't actually be keeping it. You see, I'm allergic. As in break out in hives, stop breathing, wheeze in a pitch only dogs can hear allergic.

We have a fake tree. Much to my husband's dismay. I grew up with a "real" tree. Somehow I survived. Although, at the time, I lived in New Jersey. My immune system was probably too busy dealing with the traceable amounts of lead in the water to be too worried about some pine needles. Then, in 2001, I moved to Oregon where I was solidly sick for seven months before a series of allergy tests proved that I'm allergic to...EVERYTHING! So in 2002, I bought a fake tree at Target for $50. And Oregon has no sales tax. So, on average, over the past 7, nearly 8 years, I've spent less than $10 a year on Christmas trees.

However, if you recall, I wrote that I'm working to reduce my use of plastic. I have no idea what my fake tree is made of, which leads me to believe it's plastic. And if you believe everything you read (my uncle insists that I read too much. His emphasis on both the "too" and the "much" strongly implied "to the point of insanity") any rate, if you believe everything you read, my plastic tree is doing a tremendous amount of off-gassing. Great. So while I'm not purchasing a formerly perfectly good living tree, I'm still creating a huge amount of environmental harm. On the Virginia scale (aahhh, we all love the Virginia scale), the fake tree has neither given me hives, caused an asthma attack, nor attracted every stray dog in a five mile radius. Thus, my conclusion that it is the better choice. For me.

Additionally, when you figure out that my tree only had to be made and shipped (probably from China) once, compared to what would become the annual shipping of a pine tree to San Diego, I'm possibly coming out ahead, environmentally speaking.

I will admit that it's entirely possible that someday, the accumulated exposure to my off-gassing plastic Christmas tree will give me cancer or Alzheimer's or something; it's, in my opinion, just as likely to have come from drinking all of that New Jersey water I was just talking about. So I'll take my chances, thank you.

A long time ago, I dated a very nice boy who didn't believe in what he called "organized religion." He was otherwise clean-cut, and with parents of very different faiths, this was probably as close to teenage rebellion as he came. He said when we grew up, we couldn't have a Christmas tree...because of what it represented. I argued that we could. I have no idea how a pine tree became associated with a Christian holiday, and if I really gave a hoot, I'm sure Mr. Google could tell me. But I don't care. Not because I'm lazy (I am anything BUT lazy) or indifferent, but because I like Christmas trees. I like the presents beneath them (I like giving gifts). I like the trains around them (although every year I have to call my dad to figure out how to get mine to work. Electrical engineer I am not). I like the goodwill-toward-men-be-nice-to-your-neighbor-drink-eggnog-with-the-family bits of Christmas, even if I'm not a particularly religious person.

So, back to the Free Christmas Tree mentioned in the title and beginning of this post. My mother-in-law came to visit over Thanksgiving. We had a fabulous time. Blah blah blah. She generously offered to get us a matching love seat to our sofa, as she knew we were having a party this coming weekend and she didn't think we had enough places for people to sit. Not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, my husband and I took her up on it.

Thus ensued the trip to Ikea. I like Ikea. My husband does not particularly. He doesn't like large crowds in big stores and too many options. Needless to say, we try to arrange our lives so that I do the grocery shopping in general, and the Costco shopping in particular. Apparently I have the right blend of long attention span combined with a bit of ADD-type behavior (really, that's not an's situation-dependent) and a fearlessness towards crowds (as I mentioned, I grew up in New Jersey. Hubby in Oregon and Colorado).

So the day we were in Ikea, they had this promotion where if you spent a certain amount of money (I think $250) you could come back on December 3 for a free tree. You took your receipt over to the promo table and the lady there stapled a green tag to your receipt and told you to bring the whole thing back on Thursday for your 5'-7' tree.

And herein lies the problem in Virginia-Land. Normally, this sounds like a job for my husband. He's taller and stronger than I am, and is better at driving his pick-up truck. However, he's also an Oregon Duck, and their Civil War football game is tomorrow night. Which means if he's going to leave the house, it had better be because it's on fire. Yes, of course, I can go get this tree. The problem I have is that it's month-end. And it's not going well (not monetarily, just functionally). So I'll be at work late tomorrow. And I have to get the tree by 8pm.

We are giving the tree to my sister, who's a grad student with a crazy schedule, and her roommate, who works from home the few days a month she's not traveling for her job. So we're working on a way to coordinate our schedules enough that my sister can come get the stupid receipt from me so that she and her roommate can go get the tree when the stars align tomorrow. I know this is saving them a boatload of cash, but for a freebie, this sure is becoming a lot of work!