Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hey, it works!

Most days, I rode my bike to and from the lab. And because I lived in a tiny house in the city, my housemate and I stored our bikes on a handy dandy pole just inside the front door. The downside was that the bikes were in the living room, but the upside was that our bikes were still in the living room every morning, and not stolen and sold for scrap.

My usual technique for leaving the house was to get completely ready to leave, from coat to backpack to bike helmet, and then heave my bike down from the pole and head out. This was not always easy, as the front door was abnormally narrow and there were three narrow steps to navigate. One morning, as I was maneuvering my bike through front door, I tripped and whacked my head on the wall. But it didn’t hurt, because I was wearing my helmet!

Some shoes are just for looking at

Once, when The Husband and I were walking from my house to church, and I was wearing a dress for which I had never actually found decent shoes to match and was therefore forced to wear cheap brown flats that I had purchased long before The French Hairdresser and the red boots made me a vain shoe snob, The Husband asked me why I was wearing sneakers and carrying the brown shoes.

“Because these shoes aren’t really good for standing or walking,” I said, completely unironically. (And, sadly, for these particular shoes, the reason for discomfort was not their fabulousness but, rather, their cheapness.)

“Then what are they for?” The Husband exclaimed in distress.

You have to admit, he had a point.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fine Italian shoes

Ladies and Gentlemen, this weekend I bought myself a pair of $600 shoes. But! They did not cost me $600! They cost me $60! Yes, I got $600 shoes for a mere $60. They are blue leather slides with white piping and a kitten heel. Yes, it does disturb me slightly that I know how to describe them. I also got a pair of $115 shoes for $45, and they are eminently more practical than the blue shoes, as they are black and brown loafers, so they will go with everything and last me forever and they are also super comfortable. But, because I am vain (remember, this is the fault of The French Hairdresser), I am much more excited about the $60-$600 shoes.

After buying them, I went to my mom’s house. I showed the shoes to my mom who admired them properly, but then mentioned that people probably wouldn’t know that they were $600 shoes. I said, “Yes, but I’ll know. And anyway, anyone who might happen to admire them – and probably a few people who don’t mention them – will find out pretty fast that they are $600 shoes I got for $60, because that’s the kind of shopper I am.”

I am much prouder of having $600 shoes that cost $60 than I would be of having $600 shoes that cost $600. In fact, I would be embarrassed to have spent $600 on shoes, and would never tell anyone. I cannot imagine ever spending $600 on shoes. But when I get a deal like this, I broadcast it to the world. For example, I have two skirts from Ann Taylor that cost me $5 each. Five dollars! And, before I was pregnant, I wore them constantly, so at a per-wear cost they are currently averaging about twenty cents. And everyone knows this, because when I am wearing one of the skirts I practically introduce myself by saying, “Hi, I’m Mo, and this skirt only cost me five dollars. Do you realize what that costs on a per-wear basis?”

I’m sure I will mention the cost of the loafers to anyone who might happen to admire them as well, but it will be less exciting than the fancy shoes. And I can now tell you from personal experience that $600 shoes are, in fact, far more comfortable than $30 shoes. Or even $60 shoes. I mention this because I bought a pair of much-more-reasonably-priced silver sparkly heels for my brother-in-law’s wedding next month, and when I showed them to The Husband and to my visiting friend from California, they said, “Are they comfortable?”

Comfortable? They have three-inch skinny heels. No they are not comfortable. They are sparkly. Comfort is not the point.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Money changes everything

Halfway through our second year and after one semester of working for our advisors, The Doktah started to have doubts about her choice of project. She did some soul-searching, and decided that she needed to switch advisors, but first she planned to take a nine-month sabbatical. For this time off from grad school, she had two options. She could either take a job as a research technician at the University of Florida doing neuroscience work that interested her and get paid less than a graduate stipend, or she could take a job at Proctor & Gamble doing less interesting work but earn a salary equal to $60,000 per year. Now remember, either job was going to be, by definition, temporary. She was only going to work at this job for nine months. And yet, she was not sure what to do.

Yes, I know. But she was on the fence. Naturally, when she asked me my opinion, I said, “Are you kidding me? Take the job with P&G!”

Ultimately, she sold out and took the high-paying job. She told me, however, that she asked a lot of people their opinions, and their answers were neatly divided down class lines. “People who have never had to worry about money told me to take the job at U of F, because that was really what I was interested in. But everyone who has had to work for their money told me to take the job at P&G, and then called me insane for even debating the question.”

I am not one to put money before all else. I would much rather have a job I love for $50,000 per year than a job I hate for $100,000 per year. But there is also something to be said for not having to worry about, oh, I don’t know, buying food. I remember having a discussion about this very matter with The Doktah when an undergraduate intern joined in. The Doktah and I were talking about the importance of money and the minimum salary we would be willing to accept for even the most awesome of awesome jobs. The undergrad listened for a minute, then broke in and said, “Well, I don’t know that it’s so important. I just spent a summer backpacking around Europe with essentially no money at all. I slept on the street sometimes, but it was the best experience I’ve ever had.”

I looked at him and said, “OK, but do you want to live like that for the rest of your life?”

The question startled him. Taken aback, he said, “Oh, um… no…”

“Yeah,” I said. “Money is important.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

How did I not know that before?

You know, in making fun The Husband’s lack of pop-culture knowledge, I am reminded of a few of my own knowledge gaps. For example, when I was a sophomore in high school, I went to the prom and they played “Jump Around” by House of Pain. Somehow, it was the first time I had ever heard that song. Every single other person in the room, including the chaperones, already knew all the words. Granted, the words – “Jump around! Jump around! Jump up, jump up and get down!” – aren’t hard to learn, but it was clear they had known them before.

Then, in college, I told my roommate that about working at a convenience store when I was in high school. I said that was next to a package store. She was confused, and said, “But I thought you said your hometown was a dry town.”

“It was,” I said, wondering what that had to do with anything.

“Oh, then the convenience store was right on the town line or something?” she asked.

“No,” I said, still wondering what she was talking about. “It was well within the city limits.”

“But if it was a dry town, how could there be a package store there?” she asked.

“What do the liquor laws have to do with stores that sell packing materials?” I asked her. Because until that conversation, I had no idea what a package store was, and had apparently supplied myself with my own personal definition.

But my most vivid recollection of being out of the loop is of a day in my high school chemistry class. We were doing a unit on chemical names, and, having learned the standard rules for nomenclature, could successfully identify CO2 as “carbon dioxide” and NO as “nitrous oxide. “But of course there are exceptions to the rules,” the teacher said, and started writing chemical formulas on the board. “These formulas all go by common names. NH4, for example, is not nitrous-tetra-hydrogen, it’s ammonia. And H2O2 is peroxide, not dihydrogen dioxide.” Then she wrote “H2O” on the board and said, “And what is the name for this compound?”

I started to answer, but as I was saying “Dihydrogen monoxide,” I realized the entire rest of the class was shouting, “Water!” Somehow, I have no idea how, I had managed to live 16 years without learning the chemical formula for water.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And the two porches I painted last summer are already starting to peel!

Our house is a two-family and has three porches. All three needed painting when we moved in, and I have been painting these porches for approximately 150 years. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loathe painting porches.

The next time we need our porches painted, I’m going to find some kid who wants to learn karate.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Guys' guys and girls' girls

The Husband and I just got back from a mini-vacation in Florida. It was very nice, aside from the search for dinner on Sunday night and the near-fruitless hunt for ice cream. How can it possibly be so difficult to find ice cream in South Florida? We live in the wintery north, and there are no less than four superb ice cream shops within two miles of our house, but in Ft. Lauderdale we were forced to resort to Denny’s. Denny’s! For ice cream!

Anyway, aside from that, we had a great time. And I am particularly proud of The Husband for successfully going with the flow and not minding our lack of concrete plans of any kind. And, as an added bonus, Hertz gave us a free upgrade from our boring mid-size sedan to a Mustang hard top. And it was red!

Seeing our interest in the Mustang, the Hertz lady told us about the special Shelby Mustang that Hertz rents for a mere $400 per day. $400. Per day. Apparently, it’s some sort of exclusive arrangement that Ford has with Hertz wherein Ford made about 600 of these cars and sold them to Hertz, and you are only allowed to rent them if you are truly from out of town, and the engine is somehow locked to the car. But $400 a day? When he heard that Hertz had a Shelby Mustang on hand, The Husband’s eyes lit up and his jaw dropped in awe. Apparently, this particular Mustang has so much power that it can peel out from traveling at 60 mph. Me, I had never heard of it. In fact, for this entry, I had to ask The Husband to remind me of the name “Shelby” because I couldn’t remember it, even though it’s the name of Big Sister #1’s dog.

But what I found interesting is that, although The Husband is not what I would call a “car guy,” he nevertheless knew all about the Shelby Mustang. He’s the one who told me it can peel out while already traveling at 60 mph. So my theory is that there are particles of “guy” information and particles of “girl” information that somehow permeate our brains, and is the same way that I know what Prada and a Birkin bag are. Admittedly, the brain in question must have at least a passing interest in the information to which the particles pertain; ie, I am interested in the Birkin bag even though I am not a fashionista, but I know plenty of women who have never heard of it. (I must add a disclaimer lest you think less of me: Although I know what a Birkin bag is, I have no desire for one at all and find them fascinating only as a commentary on just how stupid people can be. I mean, my Lord.)

Needless to say, we chose not upgrade to the Shelby Mustang. We wouldn’t have had any money left over for fine Italian shoes.