Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tova's own brownie recipe

Once a month, we have a potluck lunch at work, and this time, I was asked to bring a dessert. Since my broccoli casserole recipe was pretty popular among my readers, I decided to share my brownie recipe, too.

Instructions for making Tova Darling's Famous Brownies

1. Forget that you agreed to make dessert until the night before the potluck lunch.

2. Panic because your car is stuck in a snow drift so you can't even get to the store to buy ingredients or, better yet, a pre-made dessert.

3. Rummage around in the pantry until you find a box of brownie mix.

4. Follow the instructions on the box, but make sure not to pay close attention to trivial details like measurements.

5. Wonder why the brownie batter is so thin and watery.

6. Panic when you realize that the instructions on the box (which only required you to add three ingredients and stir) called for 1/4 cup of water and that you added one full cup of water instead.

7. Run back to the pantry to see if you have another box of brownie mix.

8. You don't.

9. Frantically search the kitchen for something that you can add to the brownie batter to soak up some extra water while also not making the brownies taste like crap.

10. Empty a few packets of hot chocolate mix into the brownie batter.

11. Bake at 350 degrees for an unspecified amount of time, because the directions don't include a baking time for brownie batter + 3/4 cup extra water + hot chocolate mix.

12. Graciously accept compliments on your brownies.

The one in which Tova listens to good advice

I ignored the friend request. As some of you pointed out, I thought that it might be funny/interesting/good blog material to at least ask the guy how I knew him and see what his response was, but as others of you pointed out... it might not be a good idea to invite drama or a potential stalker into my life. Who's proud of me and my excellent decision-making? As always, you guys are geniuses. Have you all considered getting together to start one gigantic advice column? Your first headline could be "Don't be friends with people who might want to stalk you."

Also, some of you sexy people have given me awards, and I am totally posting them soon. In the meantime, thanks so much!

Oh, and last night, I suddenly remembered two extremely awkward moments for future Totally Awkward Tuesdays, and I blushed for like ten minutes. I think Totally Awkward Tuesdays has become a weird kind of therapy in which I'm forcing myself to be humiliated all over again. Maybe not such a bright idea after all. In a way, though, it's good that I remembered the new moments, because I was starting to think I was running out of Totally Awkward Tuesday posts. I mean, realistically, how many times can one person be ridiculously awkward? At least two more, apparently.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let's be friends

I got a Facebook friend request yesterday (on my personal Facebook account, not on my Tova Darling account) from a person whose name I didn't recognize. I looked at the guy's picture, but I still didn't know who he was. That's not totally unusual; I run a Facebook page for my job, and I occasionally get friend requests from people who are interested in contacting our office and not me personally. So I'm checking out this guy's Facebook page for some clue as to whether or not I know him, when I notice his place of employment...

It's the place where an ex-boyfriend of mine works (or at least he did when we were dating). This particular company is pretty small and only has one location, so it's unlikely that it's a coincidence. There's basically no chance that I would know this guy any other way than through my ex.

I am on good terms with all of the guys I've dated except for this particular ex. Other than Mr. Darling, there were four other guys with whom I had a relationship that lasted 6 months or longer, and the other three guys are already my Facebook friends. (Just for the record, Mr. Darling knows I still keep in touch with these guys periodically through Facebook, and he's totally ok with it.)

The only one I don't talk to at all is the bad ex. We dated for a year, and then I found out that he had been lying to me about all sorts of shady crap that he was doing. When I found out about his lies, I confronted him, and we went through a period of a few weeks where I was talking about breaking up with him but hadn't done it yet (lame, I know), and he was begging me not to. Except that it turns out he was sleeping with his ex-girlfriend while begging me not to dump him.

So, I broke up with him and told him never to talk to me again. Apparently, he translated that as "please continue to beg me to take you back for the next year or so, because eventually I might cave." I didn't cave, of course, but that didn't stop him from trying. I refused to take his calls and blocked his email address, so he took to calling my friends and my roommate and begging them to meet him so that he could give them flowers/letters/various gifts to pass along to me. When that didn't work, he started getting his friends to call me from numbers he knew I wouldn't recognize. By the time we'd been broken up for two months, I had stopped answering my phone altogether. Up until a year after we broke up, I was still getting the occasional hang up call and periodic text messages from him that said things like "How's it going? I miss you."

Less than a year and a half after I broke up with him (and just a few months after his last "I miss you" text message), he married someone else (which I found out when I ran into his sister at the mall.) It was kind of a relief to hear that he was married, because I hoped that it would mean he was done trying to win me back. And I haven't heard anything from him or any of his friends since he got married... until now.

The thing is this - how many of you remember the first and last names of an ex-girlfriend who your coworker dated six years ago and who you may have met one time at most? Anyone?? I sure don't. In other words, I think my ex is asking his friends to contact me on his behalf yet again. Over SIX years after we dated. Because I don't remember the guy who friend-requested me at all, and I would have definitely recognized his name or his face if he'd been one of the bad ex's close friends while we were dating.

I wouldn't have even thought it was so strange if the bad ex had friend requested me, but the fact that his coworker did it? Weird! I'm half-tempted to send him a message and say "Um, do I know you?" But... maybe not. I can't decide. Obviously, I don't have any feelings (either positive or negative) toward the bad ex anymore, and I'm kind of curious to see why the heck his coworker would try to get in touch with me. Mr. Darling says go for it because he thinks it will be funny to see what the guy says, but Elle has more than her fair share of crazy guy stories, and she thinks I should just ignore it. What are your thoughts?

Funny conversation, held via text message

After I spent fifteen minutes clearing my car of snow and ice to go to work, I pulled out of my driveway and promptly got stuck on ice on the opposite side of the road. So now my car is stuck, I'm wet and cold, I'm nearly out of cat litter (since I used most of it trying to get unstuck), and I'm obviously not at work. So here's a story for you all:

My friend Elle, Mr. Darling and I watched the second Chronicles of Narnia movie a few weeks ago, and Elle really liked it. She hadn't seen The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe yet, so when I talked to her on the phone last night, she said she had rented it and was going to watch it. Half an hour after we got off the phone, we had this conversation:

Elle (via text): Are these even the same actors?
Tova: Yeah. Unless you got an old version?
Elle: I don't know. Is Lucy really fat and ugly in the first movie?
Tova: Hahahaha! I think maybe you got the version that was made in 1988.
Elle: Dangit!
Elle: That explains a LOT!
Elle: Why would they have that in redbox?
Tova: Hahaha! I have no idea, but I'm cracking up over here!
Elle: It is without a doubt the BBC version from 1988.
Tova: That is too funny!
Elle: Funny for you!
Tova: I can't stop laughing
Elle: Mean!
Elle: These costumes are terrible!
Tova: Why are you still watching it?
Elle: I really have nothing better to do. I checked redbox online and they don't have the new movie.
Tova: Did you get to the parts with the animatronic lion yet?
Elle: No. Right now I'm watching a gigantic ridiculous beaver.
Tova: Yes!! I forgot all about that! I remember watching that movie when I was little.
Elle: You must have had a LOT of spare time.
Tova: We didn't have cable. We were very easily amused.

Before anyone thinks Elle was being mean by calling Lucy fat and ugly, I offer these pictures for your consideration:

Lucy, 2005
And Lucy, 1988

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

It's Tuesday, and that means that it's time for us all to share an awkward story about ourselves.

This week's story is a little bit different. The definitions of awkward include: lacking skill or dexterity, clumsy, lacking grace or ease in movement, embarrassing, and lacking social graces or manners... and those are pretty much the theme of all of my previous Totally Awkward posts. But awkward can also mean not well planned or somewhat hazardous, and today's post is more along those lines.
Here goes:

Mr. Darling and I went out of town for a weekend during the holidays this past year, and we were staying in a hotel room with two queen-size beds. We used one bed to put our luggage on, and we slept on the other.

So, the first night we were there, Mr. Darling was laying on the bed, trying to fall asleep, and I was kneeling on the floor between the beds getting something out of my suitcase. I looked over and saw Mr. Darling peacefully lying on the bed with his eyes closed, so of course I decided that it would be appropriate to make a ridiculous face at him and completely startle him when he opened his eyes. I sat there, making a stupid face at him for thirty seconds or so, but he never opened his eyes, so I started inching closer and closer to his face to try to get him to open his eyes. What I didn't realize was that he had already fallen asleep, so of course he had no idea that his extremely immature wife was just inches away from him, making this face:

I'd been making that face for a good minute and a half, gradually getting closer and closer to him, when I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to laugh. I tried to stifle it, but I held it in for so long that it finally exploded out of me. Since I was sticking out my tongue and trying to hold in the laugh, it didn't come out like my normal laugh but more like an explosion... about six inches away from Mr. Darling... who was sound asleep. He was awakened by this totally odd noise six inches away from his face, and he let out a startled yell and... punched me in the face!

Yep, that's right. I startled my husband so much that his arm flailed out and I got punched in the face. I made sure to remind him that he was technically an abusive husband for the next few days, just to keep him in line. For future reference, I would not recommend startling a sleeping man.

Ok, so what's your awkward story? Share it on your blog, link back to this post, and then enter your link below! (Be sure to include a link directly to your Totally Awkward post so people can go straight to it.) Then, check out the other awkward bloggers by following the links!


Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays Participants
1. April
2. Raf
3. Wilwarin
4. Moi
5. Weekly Jules
6. Fancy
7. From KS to PA
8. Annsrants
9. Snarky Much?
10. Former Fat Chick
11. Cora
12. Morgan
13. The Polka Dotted Owl
14. Ryan Ashley Scott
15. missBee

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Monday, January 26, 2009

New banner!

Ok, if you're sick of reading about/seeing/being forced to comment on my blog changes, skip this post. I promise, I'm almost done subjecting you all to this, but...

Check out my new banner! I am extraordinarily proud of it, so even if you hate it, just lie and say you don't! (Or, you know, say nothing. Either way.) And yes, that is a real picture of me, by me! I am my own blog model AND blog photographer! Oo la la!

Also, giving credit where credit is due... I learned how to make three columns in my blog and how to put boxes around the side columns from this fabulous website. Seriously, great instructions there; check it out if you're looking to make some changes on your blog. And the poll is still open as to whether or not you like the three-column look on my blog, so vote if you're bored. And my background, as always, is from The Cutest Blog on the Block. Their backgrounds are free, and that's pretty darn exciting!

Don't forget that tomorrow is Totally Awkward Tuesday, so get your story ready! I'll be using Mr. Linky again because it makes my life a whole lot easier.

Three columns!

I was super proud of myself because I was able to put three columns on my blog by following the instructions here. (Translation? It turns out that I am able to read, follow directions, and cut and paste. Who knew?)

So, I was feeling all excited, but then when I actually looked at it, it looked really... busy. Like, there's too much going on, and my actual posts get lost in the shuffle. What do you think? Vote now in the poll to your right! (Also, the option to choose "other" as an answer is available, so if you have a different answer, leave it as a comment, like "It's ok, but you need a new background," or "What the heck is up with those weird button pendants?")

The one in which Tova manages not to poison her entire Sunday School class

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I teach Sunday School at my church. I have the two- and three-year-old class, which is fun and hilarious and often chaotic, as there are eight of them, and I only have two hands.

I spend the majority of the class time telling or reading Bible stories in funny voices and being really, really animated in order to keep their attention. They get off on tangents really easily, like a few weeks ago when I was telling them about Daniel and the lion's den, and one little boy kept asking me why a train didn't bite the lions. Needless to say, getting them to pay attention is sometimes hard, but one thing they ALWAYS pay attention to is snack time. Snack time is very, very important. So last week, being the awesome teacher that I am, I brought them peanut butter crackers. Specifically, these peanut butter crackers:

Austin peanut butter crackers made by Kellogg's. (Some of you who have watched or read the news lately know exactly where this is going.)

The kids loved the crackers and stuffed their adorable little faces full of them. Then, Monday or Tuesday morning, I logged onto MSNBC, and I saw the headline, "FDA confirms salmonella in Kellogg's crackers," and I almost fell out of my chair.

So I read the article, and yep, sure enough, I fed my kids the crackers that have now been recalled because at least one pack was confirmed to have salmonella in the peanut butter. Hurrah. Have you ever had to contact the parents of eight toddlers and let them know that you may have inadvertently fed their children salmonella? No? Well, let me tell you, it's a good time.

Luckily for everyone, it turns out that these particular crackers were salmonella-free, although I did have another tiny panic attack when one little boy was missing from Sunday School this week and his dad said it was because he was sick. It turns out that "sick" meant a cold as opposed to vomiting and diarrhea, so that was good.

This week, the kids got animal crackers (and not the kind with icing), but I was still nervous. If anyone wants to volunteer a snack recipe that involves cooking all ingredients at 500 degrees for an hour or two, I'm all ears.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forgive me Fashionistas, for I have sinned.

I washed a dry-clean only silk and cashmere sweater in the washing machine. With regular detergent. Not on the gentle cycle. And then I dried it in the dryer.

See, I got this sweater a few years ago from the Victoria's Secret Catalog, and frankly I am much too lazy to keep taking it to the freaking dry cleaner. So I was like, whatever, if it ruins it, at least I got a few good years of wear out of it. And I was going to hang dry it, but I forgot, so... it went through the dryer, too.

Oh, and it's completely fine. Like, good as new. Seriously. Which is making me think that this whole dry-cleaning thing is a scam. Because shouldn't it have been ruined? Well, it's not. That is all.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's in a name?

In my last post (which was only like, three hours ago), I talked about the hassles associated with changing my name after I got married two years ago. Everybody who commented had interesting and funny things to say, so you should probably check out their comments. Dingo asked a really good question which I didn't think to address in my last post, so I figured I'd answer it in a new post rather than writing an abnormally long comment on my own post.

Dingo asked, "why change your name at all?" It's a fair question, and my answer is based entirely on my personal feelings and not on how I think others should act.

I always assumed that I would change my last name when I got married. To me, personally, it's important that my whole family (as in, me, Mr. Darling, and our future kids) have the same last name. I like the idea of being a "unit." "The Darling Family," as opposed to, "The Family of Tova Sweetness and Mr. Darling."

Frankly, I think I would've been willing to accomplish this in any number of ways. In fact, one of my ex boyfriends had a terrible last name that he was teased for when he was young, and he said more than once that if we got married, he wanted to take my last name. That would've been fine with me, but he turned out to be a huge liar, so it was a moot point. I've also heard of couples who have combined both of their last names into a new last name. (Darling + Sweetness could've been Sweetling or Dartness, for example.) I think that's an interesting option, but it would've been significantly more hassle and confusion than just changing one last name.

Personally, my identity wasn't much tied up in my maiden name, so changing it wasn't too hard for me. If I'd been a famous author, a high-powered executive, or a celebrity with my old last name, I may have felt more reluctant to change it. I know a woman who earned a PhD and was published in several respected journals before she was married, so she didn't want to lose her last name or any of the respect she'd earned with it after she got married. I totally respect that, and I think it makes sense. Some people feel that the last name they were born with is a huge part of who they are, and I respect that. It's just not how I felt.

I know that for some people, a woman keeping her own last name seems like a feminist issue. I don't see it that way. The only reason I was born with the last name Sweetness was that it was the last name my dad was born with. Either way, my last name would've been the one I'd gotten from a man in my life. My dad is one of the most amazing men I've ever known, but when I married Mr. Darling, I chose to take his last name. If you think about it, the vast majority of females in this country have the last name of a man who is (or was) significant in their lives. Their father, their husband, or (if they were given their mom's last name) their maternal grandfather. Unless I decided to up and create a new, original, and utterly fantastic last name for myself, I was going to be sharing my last name with a man who loves me, and I thought it was special and significant to share my last name with the man with whom I'll be sharing everything for the rest of my life.

Now it's your turn. Did you take your husband's last name or keep the one you were born with? If you're not married yet, what do you plan to do? And why? Weigh in! (Come on, it's not like you're doing anything else important on a Friday afternoon.)


Just so we're clear, and for the newbies among you, my last name has never actually been Sweetness or Darling, those are just pseudonyms - but how awesome would it have been if those were my real last names?

What's your name?

Let me start this post out by saying that I'm madly in love with Mr. Darling, and that I'd be willing to do just about anything for him. Having said that, I'm about to vent about one of the most annoying parts of getting married - the name change.

Seriously, what the heck? I've been married for over two years now, which means that I've legally been Tova Darling for almost as long. Two weeks after Mr. D and I got married, I went to the Social Security office and legally changed my name from Tova Sweetness (naturally) to Tova Darling. Then I got my name changed on my license, my bank accounts, credit cards, everything.

Fast forward to last week, when my bank sent me a new debit card because mine is about to expire, and the name on the card was Tova Sweetness. I called the bank and had an extremely annoying conversation with a terribly unhelpful person who kept asking me what name I had told them to put on the card and if I had remembered to tell them to use my married name. Um, A - I didn't order the card, it was sent to me automatically, and B - I was unaware that I had to ask my bank to only use my legal name on my debit card after having changed my name on my bank account two years ago. Yesterday, I had to go to the bank to deposit a check, so I asked the teller if he could make sure that my name was right on my account. He looked at my account and noticed that while the name on the account was Tova Darling, elsewhere in their system, I was still Tova Sweetness, but he couldn't correct it, so he sent me to someone who could. Except that she apparently couldn't find the name Tova Sweetness anywhere on my account, and she kept talking to me like I was some sort of inept moron who didn't know her own name. So, somewhere in the recesses of my bank's database, I'm still Tova Sweetness, and nobody knows why or where or how.

Also on the "let's pretend that Tova never got married or changed her name" bandwagon are my cable company (which is happy to accept monthly payments from Tova Darling but will only send bills to Tova Sweetness) and my health insurance company (which, despite at least a dozen name and address change forms sent by the human resources department, refuses to believe anything other than that my last name is Sweetness and that I live with my parents.) It's very annoying.

Did anyone else have this kind of trouble so long after changing your name? Go ahead, talk about it; you're among friends here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's the prize that came in the cereal box

Has anyone else noticed that cereal has become less fun lately? It used to be that there was a toy inside sugary cereal, but now it's always like "collect 14 box tops and get a free spork," or "Eat 497 boxes of Sugar-O's and get diabetes." Recently, Mr. Darling and I bought a box of cereal, and it said that if you mailed in 3 box tops, you would get a free book from Hooked on Phonics. Yeah, cause that's what the kids want.

When I was a kid, we would buy the cereal for the toy that came inside, and then we'd open the box and reach our grimey little unwashed hands inside to rummage around for the toy, even though mom sad we had to wait, and then my siblings and I would get in a big fight about who got the toy last time and who gets to keep it this time, and then my mom would get mad and take the toy away and say that no one could have it. Ah, those were the good old days.

This is random and off-topic, but I watched part of the inaugural ball last night, and the reporter covering it on whatever station I was watching was wearing the ugliest dress I've ever seen. I'm no fashionista, and I typically don't notice red-carpet fiascos, but this was the worst dress I've ever seen in my life. If I find a picture, I'll share it.

Speaking of... nothing in particular... did anyone else notice that my Feedburner stat thing-a-majig says that I now have 190 readers? Don't get too excited, because I'm pretty sure it's lying. Yesterday I had 149 and now I have 190? I don't know about that. I mean, it would be nice, but it seems unlikely that 41 people felt suddenly compelled to subscribe to me yesterday. Anyone else noticing artificially inflated Feedburner numbers lately?

I'm feeling slacker-ish and unmotivated lately. Maybe one of these days, I'll dazzle you all with an amazing post. In the meantime, feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

Ok, I should probably post the rules for Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays for any new readers who want to play along, so here they are. 1. Think of an awkward story that happened to you. 2. Blog about it, and if you're feeling loving, link to my blog from yours. 3. Post a link to your totally awkward post in the Mr. Linky box below. 4. Ta Da! You're Totally Awkward!

So, here's mine: When Mr. Darling and I were engaged, he was hanging out with me at my house, and we drove my car to the store. The trip was uneventful and my car performed like a champ. Two hours later, we went to drive my car again and... it wouldn't start. I turned the key and the radio and dashboard lights came on, but the engine didn't do anything. It didn't even make any noise that would make you go "Well, that doesn't sound good!" It just sat there and did nothing.

So, for the next few days, Mr. D had to cart my butt to and from work, because I had no car. My brother-in-law went to my apartment while I was at work to see if he could fix my car. He and Mr. D tested everything they could think to test on my car. They raised it with car jacks and looked under it, they tested the battery, they tried everything they could think of, but it was all to no avail. My bro-in-law ascertained that it wasn't the battery, it wasn't the alternator, and it wasn't the starter, but he couldn't determine what the problem was.

Feeling extremely disheartened, I called AAA to come tow my car to an auto repair place. The tow truck driver showed up shortly after, and I told him my tale of woe. He took my key and climbed in to try to start the car. It didn't start, of course, so he pulled back the shift lever (my car's an automatic) to neutral, pushed it back to park, turned the key, and...my car started.

Turns out that while my car looked like it was in park, the lever hadn't actually been pushed forward the whole way, because (wait for it), I had pulled my CUP HOLDER out too far, so the car wouldn't start because it wasn't technically in park. So, the tow truck driver got out and very patiently explained to me that if my car wouldn't start again, I should push in the cup holder, and then make sure that my car was in park.

My face was bright red when I tipped the tow truck driver for "fixing" my car.

Ok, so... that's my story. What's yours?

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays Participants
1. missBee
2. Raf
3. Sassy Britches
4. Half-Past Kissin\' Time
5. From Kansas to PA
6. Moi
7. Former Fat Chicks- cheap motel debacle
8. Morgan
9. Cora
10. Fancy Schmancy
11. Weekly Jules

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Monday, January 19, 2009

And the winner is...

Thanks so much for everyone who participated in my contest!!

I used random.org to find the winner...

... and the 53rd commenter was bloggingexperiments. Once she lets me know which pendant her daughter likes best, it's all hers. The other three will be listed on my etsy, so if your favorite pendant is still available, you can buy it!

Don't forget that tomorrow is Totally Awkward Tuesday, so get your story ready! I'm going to try using Mr. Linky this time around, so once I've posted my Totally Awkward post, you can submit your link, and it will show up on my post, as if by magic! Hurrah!

I have one or two more contests up my sleeve, so don't touch that dial.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cuter than a button

Because Dr. Zibbs is awesome, he offered to talk about my Etsy shop on his blog, so I decided to host a giveaway in honor of my new-found fame!

When I was growing up, my best friend's mom had a huge jar full of old buttons, and I was fascinated by them. I tried in vain to think of reasons to convince my parents that I needed to keep jars full of buttons in my room, but I could never come up with a reasonable explanation, until finally, now in my mid 20's, I found some vintage shell buttons that I absolutely had to wear, so I made a button pendant and found that I couldn't stop with just making one.

I get buttons from antique stores, garage sales, ebay, and friends who take pity on my button addiction and give me tins full of buttons that once belonged to grandmas and great aunts. I did the craft fair thing for a while, but then I got bored of it, so now I'm selling them on Etsy. You can see some of my favorite pendants if you shift your gaze just a little to the right.

Below are four of the button pendants from my Etsy shop. If you'd like to win one of them, just leave a comment on this post saying which one is your favorite. If you'd like another chance to win, post about this contest on your blog and link back to mine, and then leave another comment on my blog letting me know that you posted! The contest will last through Monday, January 19 at 9:00 PM. After that, I'll use that random-number-generator thingy that all of the cool bloggers are using and pick one of you as the winner! The three that don't go to the winner will be listed on my Etsy site.
Pendant number 1 (these buttons are white, not yellow)
Pendant number 2

Pendant number 3

Pendant number 4

Ok, if you want a chance to brag to your friends that you own a Tova Darling original, leave a comment now and let me know which one you like best! Then if you post about this contest on your blog, leave me a second comment to let me know, and you'll have two chances to win! (Be sure to leave two separate comments so that you get your two entries, but please don't leave any more than two comments, or I'll get all flustered and confused.)

Also, stay tuned, because I have a "yay! I have 100 followers!" giveaway planned, too!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guinevere will now have less money

When I was in 11th grade, my English teacher, who we'll call Mr. Z, told me that I looked the way he'd always imagined Queen Guinevere looked, and I promptly developed a crush on him, even though he was like 50, and I simultaneously fell even more in love with literature. (Of course, my high school boyfriend claimed that Mr. Z was hitting on me. But he was wrong, because the NEXT year, my 12th grade English teacher [who was a happily married middle-aged woman] told me that I look like Ophelia from Hamlet, so apparently I just look like I was born in the wrong century... or English teachers think I have a "classic" look, either way.) Anywho, the point in sharing that little tidbit is that 11th grade was when I decided that I'd like to major in English in college, and I credit (or blame, depending on how you look at it) Mr. Z for that.

I've always loved to read, but Mr. Z introduced me to literature that I'd never heard of (he had our class read Cyrano De Bergarac, and for that I will love him forever) and made my love of books and language feel sophisticated instead of nerdy. And I decided that being able to read and write for a living would be the most romantic, wonderful thing that I could possibly do. So in my senior year of high school, when Mr. Z asked me what my college major would be, I said "English," and he said, "English?? Tova, have I taught you nothing??"

His point, of course, was that there is no money to be made in having an English degree (nor in having a writing degree, which is what I ultimately ended up getting), and that if you're going to go to college, you might want to get a degree in something that will help you get a job. (My dad used to joke that English majors need to learn how to speak English well so that people can understand them when they ask, "Do you want fries with that?") And that's how I ended up working at a job that, while it is important and rewarding and meaningful, pays less than what some of my friends who never went to college are making, and those friends have the added bonus of not needing to pay back student loans. This same job relies in large part on charitable contributions, so the bad economy is hitting us pretty hard.

This week, one of my coworkers was laid off, and my department was told that we had to cut back our hours. So starting next week, yours truly officially works four days a week instead of five. It's good in that my writing degree and I will get to sleep in late one more day a week, but it's bad in that Mr. Darling is in med school, so I (with a teeny bit of help from my writing degree) am the one who pays the rent and puts food on the table (well, we eat most meals on the couch, but you get the idea), and now I will be making less money. We also get loan money, but apparently you actually have to give that money back at some point, and we won't get our next loan check until February-ish, which means that Mr. D and I are officially poor with a capital PO. (Ok, I'm majorly over-dramatizing; we'll be fine once we get the loan check; plus, my parents only live 15 minutes away, and they would never let us starve to death, in part because they're counting on my uterus to give them more grandkids someday. Also in our favor is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service, in spite of its flaws, at least recognizes that two people living on my income cannot possibly afford to give it any money, so we'll be getting all of our income tax back.)

So, this is not so much a "poor little me" post as it is a public service announcement. Here is my advice to all of my readers who are trying to decide on a college major - for the love of all that is good and holy, if you insist upon studying English or writing in college, make it your minor.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

It's Tuesday, which means it's time for another Totally Awkward Tuesday! After you've read my awkward moment, post your own so that everyone can laugh at you... I mean laugh with you!

Last week, I mentioned that I'd once gotten stuck in an elevator, and then it occurred to me that it was a pretty awkward situation, so I could probably tell the story for Totally Awkward Tuesday.

Here's what happened:

Throughout high school and college, I went to a youth conference once a year, and I had two really good friends who attended with me. (As it turns out, Mr. Darling also went to the conference once or twice, but we didn't remember each other when we met again later.)

The conference was held in a nice hotel which had a lobby with three elevators in it. One year, someone discovered that if you jumped up and down while the elevator was going down, it made your stomach feel funny, so, being 19 and moronic, my two friends and I thought this was an extremely amusing form of entertainment. We're all pretty small, and our average weight at the time was probably somewhere around 110 pounds each. But in case you were wondering whether or not 330 pounds crashing repeatedly to the floor of a moving elevator can break it, the answer is yes. Yes, it can.

On the second night of the conference, the three of us were riding down on the elevator to attend a session, and as we rode, we were counting, "onetwothree JUMP! onetwothree JUMP!" On our third "onetwothree JUMP," the elevator lurched to a stop, and the three of us tumbled to the floor, laughing. The elevator refused to start again. So after a minute or two, I picked up the emergency phone, still laughing hysterically, and said "Um (giggle giggle giggle), excuse me, I'm sorry, but... (giggle giggle giggle)... we're stuck in the elevator!" For some inexplicable reason, the hotel employees didn't find it quite as funny as we did. In fact, they were quite put off that three teenage girls had broken their elevator and that hotel employees had to spend an hour and a half trying to free us. So, after we finally got out, the conference leaders had to make an example of us and deter future jumping by making us feel like idiots - we got called up to the front of the audience to accept an "award" for managing to break an elevator. That in itself was pretty awkward, but it gets better...

Fast forward to a few years later, when Mr. Darling and I had just started dating and were still in the phase of our relationship where I was trying to come off as "always-sophisticated-and-sexy" Tova as opposed to "sometimes-has-the-maturity-level-of-a-12-year-old-boy" Tova. We were talking with some friends, and the subject of elevators came up, so of course I had to share my "one time I got stuck in an elevator for an hour and a half" story, but since I was still trying to impress Mr. D, I told the edited version: the one in which the elevator gets stuck, but the reason for it getting stuck (me jumping up and down like a five year old) is conveniently left out.

So, I'm at the part where we were stuck in this hotel elevator for an hour and a half, when suddenly Mr. Darling interrupts me with, "Wait! That was you? I was at the conference that year! Weren't you guys jumping and you broke the elevator? Now I remember seeing you before! My friends and I made fun of you guys all week!"

In other words, Mr. Darling's very first impression of me was not, "wow, that girl is hot and brilliant," but, "wow, what kind of idiot jumps up and down in an elevator?" Luckily for me, he had forgotten his first impression until after I had another chance to captivate him with my charm.

Now it's your turn! Post your Totally Awkward Tuesday story on your blog, link back to mine, and then comment to let me know you participated! I'll link back to your blog, and we can all share in the fun of laughing at each other's misfortunes!

Then, check out these other Totally Awkward Bloggers:
Sassy over at Well Okay, Sassy Britches!
PJ at It is what it is, sometimes posted a story last week but forgot to tell me, so here's last week's awkwardness, and here's this week's.
Morgan the Muse at Insert Clever Name Here
Ann at Ann's Rants: Confessions of a Work Week Widow
Moi at Going Overboard
That Damn Expat at That Damn Expat
Jules at Weekly Jules
B.E. Earl at The Verdant Dude
A. at Snarky Much?
Adriana at From KS to PA
Janet at Starting over... two baby steps at a time.
Cora at Love Letters by Cora
Kelly at This is how I choose to remember it
Raf at The power of words
Julia at Sometimes Lucid

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oh, Valentine's Day Tree...

...oh, Valentine's Day Tree! How lovely are your branches!

The Christmas tree is still up in the Darling house, and frankly, I don't want to take it down. I hate taking the tree down (it's artificial, so it can stay up without looking depressing), because once you remove it, the living room looks sad and lonely. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like our living room, and our furniture isn't too bad, but when you remove the Christmas tree in any house, the room looks less festive than it did before. A Christmas tree makes the house look warm and cheerful.

I felt Mr. Darling out about leaving it up for a little while longer, and he said that I might as well leave it up until we move for his residency... which will probably be in June. JUNE!! I have officially gotten the green light to leave a Christmas tree in my living room for five more months!! Yahoo!

So, I'm thinking, rather than just making us look lazy, I could make us look abnormally festive by decorating the tree for Valentine's Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, etc. I'm not even joking about this. I am seriously considering buying a bunch of hearts and hanging them all over the tree. My neighbors (and some of you, perhaps) might mock me, but I'll be happy, so who cares?

Don't forget that tomorrow is Totally Awkward Tuesday! Spend a few minutes now recalling an awkward moment that you've repressed because it's painfully embarrassing, and then write about it for tomorrow!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The dramatic conclusion to the saga of my missing phone

I know some of you were unable to sleep because you were so concerned about me not being able to find my phone. Well, you can all rest easy. Here's what happened:

My best friend Elle came over, and she helped me search high and low for my phone. Mr. Darling cleaned the whole house except the bedroom, and Elle and I cleaned the bedroom. Then, Elle showed what a great friend she is by crawling around on the floor with a flashlight and looking under all of our furniture. She found 23 cat toys, but no phone. Then, I climbed up on a chair and checked in our attic/crawl space, because I'd seen this story on Good Morning America and was convinced that there must be a person living up there who had taken my phone. The good news is that nobody was living up there; the bad news is that I didn't find my phone.

Finally, after our house was completely clean from top to bottom, Mr. Darling, Elle and I all gave up, held a memorial service for my dearly departed phone, and decided to watch a movie. Elle and I plopped down on the couch, and Mr. Darling rolled the ottoman over... and then stood in the middle of the living room laughing. Because, of course, my phone was under the ottoman (and I swear that we had all checked under there at least twice each).

So, um, my phone is back and my house is clean, so I guess it all worked out for the best.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm crafty

I have a habit of doing this thing where I get really, really enthusiastic about something, I invest a ton of time and effort into it, and then I get bored of it after a few months. Last year, I did that with making jewelry and going to craft fairs. See, I'd randomly decided to make a ton of jewelry from vintage and antique b.uttons and sell them at craft fairs. I went to about four craft fairs, got bored, and stopped going to anymore. But then I had like 80 pieces of jewelry and nowhere to sell them. I listed some on etsy, but then never really promoted it, so now I have two boxes full of this stuff and, realistically, I am probably not going to get around to going to craft fairs again anytime in the next year.

So, I just noticed the other day that another blogger (I forget who, or I'd totally give them credit. If you think it was your blog, leave a comment taking credit - I don't mind) has an awesome little Etsy mini on the side of their blog. And I was like, "Hey! I have an Etsy! Maybe I can be cool like this other blogger whose name I've now forgotten!" But then I realized that most of my listings had expired, and then I got distracted by something (probably work - it's always getting in the way of my quality 9-5 blogging time), and I didn't get around to it.

Then, this weekend, I was sitting around on my lazy rump, and I figured I'd list my etsy on my blog since I wasn't really doing anything else (except watching Family Feud, which hardly counts.)

Anyway... my etsy and some of the pendants I made are now on my sidebar. If you feel like checking it out, go for it. If not, I'm not offended. I'm just listing it so I look productive. And I promise that my next post will not be one suggesting you go to some website just because I have nothing better to do than ask people to go places.

Wanna be my friend?

Sure you do! I randomly created a Facebook page for myself, so you should probably friend request me. Right now, I have only six friends (one of whom is the fabulous Kim over at Antisdel Abstract), so my page is looking a little sad. Wanna make me feel less pathetic? Go here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

And then I lost my phone...

As you all know, I'm kind of amazing at certain things. (Pole dancing, making lists, being awkward, etc.)

But there is one skill I have that is so spectacular, it's very nearly a super power.

I am phenomenal at losing things.

On Wednesday, in less than twenty minutes, I lost my phone so thoroughly that Mr. Darling and I searched for two hours and still could not find it. Not impressed? What if I told you that I lost it in my own home, and that I can narrow it down to the four rooms where it has to be? That's right, ladies and gentlemen. In just over 15 minutes, while I was getting ready to go out with Mr. Darling for a pre-interview dinner, I lost my phone in my house, and I can NOT find it. We called it and listened for it, but we heard nothing. (I think it's on vibrate, but still!) Then, I turned off all of the lights in the house and called it repeatedly from Mr. D's phone to see if I could see the light. Nothing! (Although I did find the dining room table... with my hip... really hard.)

I looked everywhere (including, but not limited to, under the couch cushions; in all of the trash cans; in my laundry hamper; in, on, under and behind every piece of furniture in our home; in the washing machine and dryer; in the freezer and the refrigerator; in the dishwasher; all through my closet; in the bathtub; in the cats' litterboxes; in every drawer in my dresser; in every purse I own [even the ones I haven't used in months or years]; and in the pockets of all of my coats and pants.) EVERYWHERE. Keep in mind that it was less than 20 minutes from the last time I definitely had my phone until I noticed it was gone. In that time, I did not leave my home or stumble into any black holes. But it is GONE. During my hunt I found $11 and a shoe I was missing, but not the phone. At this point, the only plausible explanations for my phone's disappearance are, A - It ran away from home, or B - My cats destroyed it in a fit of rage and jealousy.

So, um, if you should happen to see a cute little phone hitchhiking along the highway somewhere, please tell it I miss it and that all will be forgiven if it will just come home.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

When I grow up...

Kids are odd people. I think that's a fact that's pretty generally acknowledged. I mean, yes, they're wonderful and special and entertaining and lovable, but they're also pretty odd. And the reason that I can say this with such certainty is that I was a very odd child. (Some kids had imaginary friends growing up; I was my own imaginary friend. I changed my own name about once an hour and then would refuse to answer my parents unless they called me by the correct name. Seriously.)

Today, I was walking down the hall, minding my own business, when suddenly, my brain reminded me of this little tidbit of information about myself as a child: somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12, I decided that if I was ever very, very rich, I would pay people to squeeze the juice from honeysuckle so that I could drink honeysuckle juice every morning for breakfast. For real. Apparently, that was my idea of having "made it" in the world. What the heck? (Also, why did I suddenly remember that?) Other "goals" that little-kid me had for grown-up me included: become a ballerina, have eight children, live in a tree, and make up a language. So far, I've accomplished exactly zero of my childhood goals, and accomplishing them in the future isn't looking so likely, either.

So, as a child, what did you want to be (or do) when you grew up? Did you accomplish it? (And don't say "my goal was to be rich enough to drink honeysuckle juice for breakfast." That one's already taken.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dear Men of Craigslist

In a previous post, I mentioned that I love to read personal ads on Craigslist. My old roommate and I used to read them for hours and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Does that make me a mean person? Yeah, probably, but it's a cheap form of entertainment.

I once wrote a list of tips on how to write a personal ad and posted it on Craigslist. It made a few guys (mostly the ones who had done all of the things I said not to do) really, really mad, and they sent me some very angry (and very grammatically incorrect) emails; other guys who read it wanted to date and/or marry me. One actually invited me to a gala (I didn't go).

I thought I'd lost the personal ad advice letter forever, but it turns out that I saved a copy in my email account, so I'm going to post it at the request of Dr. Zibbs. I've edited it a bit, but it appears below in its (almost) original form.



Dear Men of Craigslist,

Last night, my roommate and I were very entertained by reading some of your personal ads. While we'd never mock your desire to find a good (or not-so-good, in some cases) woman, your methods of doing so are sometimes less than impressive. You should be yourself in a personal ad, but perhaps a more polished version of yourself would make a better impression. As my good deed of the day, I've decided to offer the following tips to help you in your online quest for love:

- I'm sure that there are many, many wonderful things about you that make you a great catch. List those things, but please don't lie, especially when we can tell you're lying just by reading your ad. Its harrd 2, beleeve u, wen u say "im intligant and Vary, wel educatid" wen ur sintinces, Look lik thiis.

-While we're on the subject of grammar and spelling errors, allow me to make the following suggestions: 1. Spell check and grammar check should be your new best friends. Type your ad in Microsoft Word, and fix the spelling and grammatical errors before you post it. 2. Capital letters go at the beginning of sentences and at the beginning of proper nouns (your name, for example). Lower case letters go everywhere else. YOUR AD SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE YOUR CAPS LOCK BUTTON IS STUCK. 3. "It's" means "it is." "Its" means "belonging to it." “You’re” means “you are.” “Your” means “belonging to you.” Jot this down on a post-it note and stick it to your computer screen.

-This is the forum in which to tell your readers why they should want to date you, not to inform the world of what a cheating whore your ex-wife was, or how you'd love to stab your ex-girlfriend in the liver, or how you don't want any fat girls or sluts. In fact, the words "slut" and "fat" have no place in a personal ad to begin with. Remove them from your internet dating vocabulary.

-In the movie "Jurassic Park," one of the characters says "I'm always on the lookout for a future ex-Mrs. Malcolm." That movie was made in 1993; the "future ex-wife" joke has gotten a lot less funny in the 16 years since then.

-Nobody wants to see a picture of your penis. Trust me. Even if you have a huge one, a girl looking at it is not going to be impressed... she's going to wonder what kind of weirdo would post a pornographic picture of himself on the internet for complete strangers to see.

-If you make a list of 75 required attributes that a future date must have before you'll even think about meeting them, you might want to consider the fact that being too picky is the reason you're still single.

I hope this helps you find success in searching for Ms. Right.

Love,
A Fan

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

Last week, we had 11 Totally Awkward Bloggers! (Well, 12, counting me.) Now it's your turn to join in on the blogging sensation that's sweeping the nation... and by nation, I mean 11 awesome blogs.

My story this week was actually probably more awkward for the other person involved than it was for me, but that still counts...

A few years ago, I was out to dinner with some friends (two guys and another girl) when I ran into a girl I'd known in high school who was on a double date. We exchanged the typical "It's so good to see you! How have you been?" pleasantries, and then did the whole "We need to get together sometime!" thing that girls always do when they see each other accidentally and have no intention of doing it again on purpose. I wrote down my phone number, handed it to her, and then walked away knowing that I'd probably never hear from her again.

The next night, I was on my home phone with Mr. Darling (whom I was dating at the time), and my cell phone rang. For some odd reason, I answered the phone, even though I didn't recognize the number AND I was already on the other phone with Mr. D (which meant that Mr. D could clearly hear my half of the following conversation):

Me: Hello?
Guy's voice: Hi, is this Tova?
Me: Yes it is. Who's this?
Guy's voice: This is (guy's name). You gave me your phone number last night.
Me: Um... no I didn't.
Guy: Yes you did! Weren't you at (name of restaurant) last night?
Me: Yes...
Guy: You were there with two guys and another girl, right?
Me: Yeah... but I didn't give you my phone number.
Guy: Yes you did!
Me: I'm pretty sure I would've remembered that...
Guy: I was your waiter, and you left your phone number on the table when you left.
Me: No, I didn't! We were waited on by a woman, and.... oh.

As you may have already figured out, what happened was that the girl I knew from high school had obviously just left my phone number (that I'd helpfully written my name beside) laying on the table when she left. And the waiter apparently assumed that she was leaving her number for him. So I had to explain that, all the while feeling very bad for him because he seemed quite embarrassed. Then I got to explain to Mr. Darling why a strange guy had my phone number.

Now it's your turn! Post a true Totally Awkward story on your blog, link back to me, then comment to let me know you participated.

Then, check out these amazing Totally Awkward Bloggers:
Morgan the Muse at Insert Clever Name Here
Sassy Britches at Well okay, Sassy Britches!
Moi at Going Overboard
Adriana at From KS to PA
Julie at Weekly Jules
Cora at Love Letters by Cora
A. at Snarky Much?
Cassie at Cardigans Cover Crazy
Smalls at Anxiety's Axioms
Kim at The Antisdel Abstract

Monday, January 5, 2009

Round and Round

Is everybody ready? I am about to share with you my weirdest fear. Ok, not fear, really. Just something that makes me abnormally uncomfortable.

I'm scared of revolving doors. Namely, I'm afraid that I'm going to get stuck in one.

The odd thing is, I am not afraid of getting stuck in elevators, even though I actually DID get stuck in an elevator once - for an hour and a half. But I still have absolutely no problem riding in elevators. On the other hand, I've never been stuck in a revolving door, yet I'm always afraid that I will be.

As a friend pointed out, a revolving door would be one of the best places to be stuck, if you had to get stuck somewhere, because it's all made of glass, so A - it wouldn't be long before someone noticed that you were trapped and freed you, and B - worst case scenario, someone could break the glass to free you. Still, they make me really uncomfortable when I go through them, and I hate when people try to go through them at the same time as me.

Ok, 'fess up. Do you have a weird fear? If not, feel free to mock mine... everybody else does!

Also, don't forget that tomorrow is Totally Awkward Tuesday, so get your awkward story ready! If you need inspiration, you can check out last week's stories.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Award!

Is there a better way to usher in the New Year than with an award? Probably, but I can't think of one offhand, so I'll start the year off with this Honest Scrap award given to me by Legal Mist and Errant at My Own Circus Show. Thanks!!Let's start with the rules: The honorees are to: A) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep! B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

Ok, here goes...

1. I read the personal ads on Craigslist ALL the time. Seriously, have you checked them out? They're hilarious! Luckily, Mr. Darling is totally secure and knows I would never cheat on him, so it's not a problem. Once I wrote a list of tips of what not to write in a personal ad and posted it on the craigslist personals. Several guys called me a b*tch, and several more asked me on a date. (I wasn't single, so I didn't take anyone up on that.) I'll have to try to recreate the list sometime.

2. I am hideously disorganized, messy, and a huge procrastinator, but I keep the most meticulously detailed and organized planner/calendar that you've ever seen. I update it every day and feel completely lost without it. When people see my planner, they think I must be a really organized person. The truth is, I just like writing things in calendars.

3. I read excessively, to the point that I've been told it can make me appear rude, because I will pick up a book and start reading if a conversation no longer interests me. My favorite authors are Charles Dickens and Frank McCourt, but my tastes are eclectic, and I'll read almost anything.

4. I'm a fairly intelligent person with little to no motivation, so any intelligence I may have is essentially useless.

5. I can't roll my tongue, but I can raise my left eyebrow independently of my right eyebrow, allowing me to convey feelings of skepticism, incredulity or suspicion with great ease.

6. I played the violin for nine years, but I haven't touched it for at least 6 years; if I played now, you might be able to recognize "Mary Had a Little Lamb" if I tried very, very hard.

7. I always, always get my way when dealing with customer service people. Your car broke down again a month after you paid to have it fixed? Point me to your mechanic. Your landlord won't fix your sink? Just give me his phone number. It may take me a while, but I don't give up until it's done. I worked in customer service for 5 years, so I've learned from experience that if you complain long and loud enough (and if your complaint is justified), you will get what you want. Mr. Darling never bothers to deal with companies anymore if he has a complaint. He just sics me on them.

8. When I was younger (like, from age 6 to 15), I was certain that I wanted to have 8 children. I would tell anyone who would listen that I was going to have four biological children and adopt four children. I have no idea why I decided on that number. In my late teens, I finally realized that I would most likely lose my mind with 8 kids. Now, I've decided that I never want more kids than I have hands to hold onto them with. (For the record, I have 2 hands.) Occasionally, people who knew me when I was younger still ask me if I want 8 kids.

9. I have very well-contained road rage. I shout at people from inside my car (with the windows rolled up so that they have no idea they're being yelled at), and instead of honking, I yell "honk honk." It allows me to vent my frustration while simultaneously avoiding being killed.

10. I have a detailed plan for what I would do if I ever won the lottery. I know what percent I'd invest, how much would go towards retirement, how much would go into savings accounts for my future children, etc. The only problem is that I've never purchased a lottery ticket in my life.
And now, I get to pass this award on to other bloggers. So, this award goes to:
1. Smalls at Anxiety's Axioms
2. Autumn Joy at Gaining Wisdom
5. Adriana at From KS to PA
7. A. at Snarky Much?
In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. ~ Calvin & Hobbes