Whitney and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

My week has been so bad it’s actually gone the other way and is now awesome. I’m not sure why my mood has remained buoyant despite the load of bull I’ve been dealing with, but I’m actually in a great mood. All the stuff that’s happened is on the minor end of the tragedy spectrum, so consequently in list form, it’s fantastic! This week:

  • My AC broke.
  • A dustpan fell off the wall and hit me in the head.
  • I managed to destroy the company website on my lunch break (….I did fix it, eventually).
  • I had a flat tire.
  • …twice. (Different tires.)
  • When tossing a paper towel into the trashcan, I missed. This isn’t surprising because I don’t have game. I then leaned over to pick up the paper towel and put it in the trashcan only to lose my balance (?!?) and fall, knocking my head against the computer and potentially damaging the fan inside. I don’t know, it’s making an angry whirring noise. Also, I have a lump on my head.
  • A little kid ran into me at the library and took a tumble.  Poor thing! But he looked at me like I was Satan and waaaailed and I felt awful.
  • Scratched the floor something awful when moving furniture. It’s time to buy a new rug!
  • Scalded myself on the popcorn maker.
  • I have a doctor’s appointment. For women’s troublesOooooh.
  • Got cable and internet installed in my apartment. Both didn’t work on Day One. Got them fixed. Now the DVR isn’t working.

And such.

What you need to understand is that all of these things happened in TWO DAYS. TWO.

Surely I’m good now. Right?  RIGHT?

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Baking and I Break Up

While some of my friends struggle with cooking, and some think cooking involves heathen magic and they want no part of it, I’ve always prided myself on my ability to bake.  My cookies, cupcakes, and cakes are always fluffy, lightweight, and delicious.  I’m not a fussy cook or a decorative cook; if it involves making layers and piping frosting I’m not interested.  But the actual act of baking – not the presentation – that is so zen to me.  And I’m versed enough in baking by now that I’ve tackled more-complex items. Box cake mix is like doing push-ups the girl way and only for n00bs (incidentally, I should note here that I always do push-ups the girl way, and anyone who says that they don’t count can kiss my cake-box).

So when my mother requested that I make a particular strawberry cake today made with cake mix as a base, I sighed internally before setting to it.  Cake mix is filled with so many additives and questionable ingredients, but it’s Mother’s Day, and whatever Mom wanted, Mom would get.  I’d made this particular strawberry cake many times before. It’s brainless and delicious, a light pink sponge cake topped with cool, fluffy frosting. A perfect antidote to the heavy humidity lurking outside.  I put together the ingredients and cooked it a few minutes over, because our oven in our new house isn’t quite familiar to us.  Better to be safe than sorry, right?

But the cake came out beautifully. I let it cool, frosted it, and then when it came time to eat it, Mom got the first slice.

That was a mistake. I should’ve sneaked a bite before she got near it.  Because my cake tasted like Strawberry Shortcake had mated with a gummy bear and then laid out in the sun for a few days to dry out.

What happened? What happened? I survived cooking the entirety of the freaking Milk Bar cookbook but a recipe based off a cake mix threw me down? This cake was so terrible even my autistic brother wouldn’t eat it, and he literally eats his own shit if we don’t watch him closely enough. It was so violently, densely, nastily pink in the middle, it looked like the worst-case-scenario result of a prostrate exam.

The nearest thing I can figure is that maybe the box mix was old. Maybe I didn’t cook it long enough, even with the extra 4 minutes I threw in.  Because somehow it was both too moist and… hard. How do cakes get hard?  (Pervs, don’t answer that.)

I just don’t know what happened, but I’m never going to hear the end of my colossal failure.  My first major baking fuck-up just had to happen as my entire family watched.  Isn’t that the way of it? At least I was able to keep secret the time I managed to set the blender on fire with hamburger meat. But my parents have been crowing about my dazzling disaster all day, my Dad miming grotesque stomach pains (he had a few bites before giving up consuming the disgusting mush).

Baking, we’re through.  We had a nice ride, and I really thought I got you. But clearly, I didn’t know you at all.  If you ever want to see about getting back together again, I’m going to be at Nothing But Bundts, drowning my sorrows in a vat of cream cheese frosting.

Things I’d Rather My Parents Not Know: Part 2 of ?

Someone asked me what I was going to do when I finally move out of my parents’ house and into my own apartment. Now that that day is approaching, I’m formulating my plans. All the following will happen on the first Friday I am there:

  • Have Cheetos and wine for dinner.
  • Have cowboy shots of tequila for dessert.
  • Try to do Wii yoga.
  • Acquire mysterious and unexplainable bruises from the drunken Wii yoga.
  • Put on “Drive” and talk to Ryan Gosling’s ass the entire movie.
  • Start to build Lego Hogwarts.  And then stop after one turret. And leave the Legos out without picking up after myself.
  • Decide to learn Japanese. Look up filthy Japanese phrases and text them to random numbers in my cell.
  • Shower until I use up all the hot water because HAHAHAHA I OWE YOU PEOPLE NOTHING.
  • Wander around naked a while.
  • Talk to my cats in stupid voices.
  • Attempt to change my name on Facebook to “Whitney McCatlady”.
  • Get lost on Facebook for 30 minutes.
  • Pass out.
  • Wake up at 2am wondering why the hell Drive is on.

I think it’s good to have ambitions.

On Accumulating Stuff and My Zen Thoughts of the Day.

This weekend was a dust-covered, sweaty, mash-your-fingers-in-a-door-jam mess. The insurance company delivered about 30 cardboard boxes of cleaned items that had been pulled from our collapsing house last July.  There was a satisfaction in prying open box after box to uncover belongings that survived the fire (or… sort of… survived the fire), but there was also a lot of amused frustration.  “That damn painting,” I said as I pulled a truly crappy oil painting I’d done in high school from the box.  “Why the hell did this piece of shit not catch fire but our photos did?”

Mom had the same reaction to being reunited with her boxes of her fine china. “I was hoping these had broken!” she whined, pulling out a twee-looking teacup from the 1950s.  “We never used them.”

So now we’re planning an Ebay excursion. It’s not that this stuff isn’t treasured, in its own way: it’s that we’ve gone without it for nine months and forgot it existed. That’s how unimportant it is to us in the grand scale. She will mourn her Zuni pottery, and I’ll think fondly of my Playstation (may it rest in peace), but there is so much stuff that we’d collected along the way that we didn’t care about. It’s not really until you lose nearly everything that you realize how irrelevant most of it is.

On the plus side, I’m inheriting some of the extras for my new apartment. Uncaring that the sets don’t all have the same number of settings, I’m receiving a gorgeous set of crystal wine glasses, champagne glasses, and sniffers. That way when I veg out on the couch watching old episodes of House I can drink in semi-alcoholic style.

I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how much or how little you have, it’s easy to part with some fraction. Get rid of old things, and breathe a little larger.

Just don’t get rid of it with a house fire, because that’s ass.

Move In Day

We’re moving into the new house today.

It’ll be memories returned and reframed, all right. Boxes and sweat and standing on the outside looking in.

Mom and I both smelled smoke for the first time in months yesterday. We smelled it for ages after the fire – some strange psychological combination of it searing our nostrils and our minds just supplying it in moments of stress – and yesterday, we both smelled it again standing in the doorway of the new house wondering if this one would last.

I’ve been collecting snapshots from July 18 to remember what happened. It seems important, somehow.

  • The initial news report that I reread over and over again at 2am in Florida waiting for my flight home, trying to make sense of what had happened. My mother was irritated at being called “his wife”, since technically she’s a homeowner as well.
  • Video One of the damage.
  • Video Two of the damage.
  • Video Three of the damage.

I watch those videos even now and I barely remember filming them. I’d been going on 50 hours without sleep and my house was a warzone.  Even then there was a need to document every last sensation, to honor it. I suppose the impulse remains even now when I chose to start a blog.

I’m very excited for the new house.  But I want to remember the old one, too. Even when it trembled and fell in front of me.

The Naming of Things: The House, Our House, Home

Well, we’re moving in on Monday, April 22, although we’ve been bringing over the lightweight stuff in waves for the past few nights. The house burned to the ground on July 18, 2012, so it’s been a little over nine months, and the house will be born. Reborn? I don’t know about the “reborn”, because this feels like an entirely new place. It doesn’t feel like ours, not yet. I went into it last night and I realized I was walking like I was over at a neighbor’s home. I didn’t turn on lights – I’m not used to it having electricity; for the last few months when I’ve visited I’ve navigated using the glow of a lantern. I had to ask where things were (“Where do I put the spoons?” “Where do the pillows go?” “I can’t figure out how to unlock this door.”) And when I left my belongings, I tucked them neatly in a corner to wait for me until we get our furniture. You know how much of a warzone my old room used to be in high school? Tornados would be intimidated by the mess. But it didn’t feel like my home to live in.

I’m sure that will change, although I’m not sure when. I’m moving into my own apartment mid-May, so I’ll only have a few weeks in the new house. And see – I’ve got to figure out what to call it. “The new house”. That can’t last forever. At what point does it stop being new? “The rebuilt house”. This phrase is accurate, but it takes a while to say and it trips the tongue. “Home” is ideal – but I’ll have another home in the valley in a few weeks.

Only three more nights and I’ll sleep in– no, I’ll write it. I’ll be home. I’ll be able to shower for longer than 10 minutes. I’ll have my own bathroom that I won’t have to share with three other people. I won’t sleep a few feet from my brother and be woken up every night. I’ll be able to watch television without disturbing the entire world. I’ll (eventually) unpack. I’ll have drawers! I won’t have to carry around my shower stuff like I’m in a college dorm.

It doesn’t seem like it’s finally happening.

On another note – while the house is nearly done, a few unfinished eccentricities remain: we have no mirrors. I have no idea how I’m going to do my makeup in the weeks to come before they’re hung up.

Looking through the Window

We had some unexpected excitement last night in the form of a prowler. Oh, how I sound so 1950s when I use that word, but there isn’t another that fits so neatly – he prowled. To be specific, he prowled onto the porch of our rental home’s next door neighbor and stared at their little girl through the window. She later claimed that he was watching her for five minutes, which ordinarily I would discount as the whims of an overactive imagination, but when he was illuminated in the stepfather’s flashlight, he stared right back at him for nearly ten minutes before disappearing back into the woods as soon as the police showed up. He was a Starer. Because it’s not enough to be spied on; it only becomes legit creepy when he doesn’t run off when you catch him doing so, right?. Continue reading