Monthly Archives: February 2012

PANCAKES.

Every year there is a magical day where my favorite 24-hour restaurant gives away free pancakes.  That day is National Pancake Day.  That place is IHOP.  And yesterday was National Pancake Day.

NPD is on my calendar for at least three months in advance.  I seriously like this “holiday.”  It’s right up there on my list of favorites, next to “talk like a pirate day.”  Arr, matey.

I discovered NPD my freshman year of college.  The entire dorm banded together and stormed the nearest IHOP.  Unfortunately, everyone on the entire campus seemed to have the same idea.  The IHOP was completely packed. There wasn’t a square foot of unoccupied space inside, and there were at least a hundred kids waiting outside in the cold.  No one had reservations, and everyone waited for at least an hour to be seated.

But even with the wait, my first NPD was fabulous.

My dorm joked and goofed off until we were seated, then proceeded to joke and goof off even more–and maybe flirt a little with the table of guys next to us.  We got our free pancakes, drenched them in delicious syrup, and went home with sugar highs and really good stories.  (Like how 11 people  squeezed into a car built to seat 5.)

So every year since, I’ve been sure to celebrate NPD if at all possible.  I always take at least one person with me, and it is one of the highlights of my year.  (I’m pretty easy to please.)  This year, NPD was extra special.

Because yesterday was also my brother’s 16th birthday.

For his birthday, I took him and some friends with me on my annual trek to the IHOP.  Because I’m living at home, in the middle of nowhere, the closest IHOP is an hour away.  We all expected it to be completely packed.  But we got lucky or something, because we only waited for about a minute.  It may have helped that our party was small–four people are easier to seat than thirty.

It was a fabulous trip.  Breakfast for dinner (yay!), good conversation, and a few pranks pulled.  I don’t know what I like about National Pancake Day more–the free food, or the fun people I get to hang out with.

If you missed NPD, then you missed an awesome time (and amazing pancakes).  But there’s always next year.

I know I’ll be going next year, rain or shine, diet be damned.

I Am Not the Grammar Police

I’m normally really chill about grammar.  It’s a tough thing to learn, and my grammar’s not perfect (I like comma splices.  A lot.  And sentence fragments.), but there are still some things that really bug me.  But there is one that bothers me above all others.

Irregardless

….guys, this one is just ridiculous.  If something is “regardless,” it is without regard, i.e., it doesn’t matter.  Here’s how I remember it: regard-less.  Less than regard.

If something is “irregardless” it is without less than regard.  Ir is a prefix that means “without” or “not.”  “Irregardless” does not mean “regardless,” and they are not interchangeable.  Does that mean “irregardless” has regard?  Can “ir” before “regardless” be constituted as a double negative that somehow makes “irregardless” mean that you care a whole, whole lot?

“Irregardless” is redundant.  And it frustrates me.  Can we stop using it? Please?  It’s wrong, and it makes me want to become the grammar police, and that’s not my job.

Regardless (see what I did there), I might just have to learn to deal with it.

But if you use “irregardless,” and you’re just an acquaintance, I won’t correct you.  I will silently judge you from my place atop my grammar high-horse.

Or, if you use it enough, I might throw an angry cat at your face.

Just kidding.  Maybe.

UPDATE:  I figured it out.

Why you guys like “irregardless” so much.  It’s because of “irrelevant.”  It’s got to be.   “Irrelevant” is a correct “ir” prefix attached to the root word “relevant.”  “Relevant” means “to be important, to matter.”   “Irrelevant” means “to be unimportant.”

The two words “relevant” and “regardless” sound sort of similar, I guess?  And since the “ir” rule works with one, I figure that language intuition (which is a thing that happens with native speakers–you get to a place where you can basically just feel your way around grammar and be mostly correct) says that you can use “ir” with regardless, too.

The problem with that is that you already have a suffix (“less”) with “regardless” that negates the root word “regard.”  So the “ir” is unnecessary.  But that apparently doesn’t always register.

“Irregardless” is still wrong, and I will probably still have to throw angry cats, but….at least I know why it’s so blatantly used?

New Year’s Resolutions

I make my resolutions late.

Usually because it takes me some time to figure out what on earth I want to do with the year.  Asking me to suddenly name my resolutions on New Year’s Eve is like asking an untrained chef to make the food critic’s entree–it’s not going to end well.  Mostly because my brain goes “uh…..um….” and then shuts down completely.   Don’t put me on the spot like that, New Year’s Eve.

You’d think I’d be used to this by now, and plan my resolutions ahead of time.

But see, that’s the thing about procrastinators.  Why do today what you can freak out about tomorrow?

So every year I’m blindsided by the new year, and my resolutions wind up falling into place over the next few months.

In January, I decided I’d read 25 new books this year.  I’m doing well–I’ve read six so far.

I also decided to try to do “meatless Mondays,” which is really self-explanatory.  I am failing miserably.  I’ve reformed that resolution to be “Half-meatless Mondays,” where I give up meat for half a day instead.  That seems to be working out better.  I’m going to try this one again once I get my own place–I get the feeling it’ll be easier to follow through if I’m cooking all my own meals.  But seriously–you vegetarians/vegans have got it rough.  Society does not cater to a no-meat diet.

This month I decided I was going to be more healthy this year.  For me, that means smaller portions and actually working out.  And actually sticking with it this time.  And maybe getting a gym membership.  We’ll have to see.

Yesterday I decided I’d give up soda and going out to eat for Lent.  I don’t come from a religion that celebrates Lent, but I like the idea of self-sacrifice…and it’s an excuse to force myself to cut out those lunch-hour excursions that are starting to get expensive.  This also ties in to the “getting healthy” thing above.

And that’s all I’ve got so far.

I don’t think you should limit your resolutions to the first day of a new year.  I’d rather just decide things as they come, and not try to plan out my year before it’s even begun.

And we all know that our resolutions are really just guidelines, after all.

7 Instruments I Wish I Could Play

I’ve never been overtly musical.  Sure, I like music.  I think everyone does, to an extent.  And I paid my dues in middle and high school band.  I can squawk out a few songs on a flute still, and I can carry a tune.  But I’m less than stellar at anything musical I attempt.

I have a friend who can play anything.  Give her a day or so with any sort of strange, unfamiliar instrument and she’ll be semi-proficient before you can say Mozart.  She’s ridiculously talented, and I’m jealous.

If I had that kind of talent, these are the instruments I’d play.

7. Xylophone

Say the word “xylophone.”  It’s like gymnastics for your tongue.  And how many words start with the letter “x?”  Not many.

These things aside, Xylophones are awesome.  And they make beautiful music, which should probably be more important than how cool it is to beat on giant metal tubes with mallets.

Xylophones occasionally get really nice moving parts, too.  Which was kind of sad, because our percussion section was garbage in high school and always butchered them.

6. French Horn

Played correctly, french horns are gorgeous-sounding instruments of wonderfulness.

Played incorrectly, they sound like sputtering, dying elephants.

I’ve always really liked the way french horns look.  All curled up, like some sort of intricate masterpiece.

That curvy bit looks kind of like modern art!

Credit goes to musicwithease.com

They don’t seem to get great parts consistently, though.  They’re usually playing backup for the trumpets.  Everyone is usually playing backup for the trumpets.  Darn trumpets.

5. Oboe

I have a love/hate relationship with oboes.

They have a gorgeous sound, are slightly uncommon, and are similar to clarinets, which are also fun.  Oboes are also featured in Peter and the Wolf, representing the duck, one of my favorite characters in that symphony.  (My other favorite is the bird, which was one of the reasons I played flute.)

HOWEVER.

Oboe reeds are the most bizarre playing devices I have ever seen.

These things are ridiculous.

Credit goes to curriereeds.com. They have committed the sin of using Papyrus in their company logo.

Look at those things.  Do they look like they’d be used to play an instrument to you?  More like boat oars, in my opinion.  They’d even come with handy grips so that your hands don’t get blisters as you paddle.  How thoughtful of them.

Of course, I might be prejudiced.  I tried to play an Oboe once.  Aside from the fact that my Oboe playing sounded like someone stepped on a mouse, my tongue got caught in the reed.

And I don’t mean just the tip of my tongue either.   I was caught in a painful inch of death grip by two silly pieces of wood.  One of my bandmates had to pry the wood off for me, because it hurt too badly when I touched it to yank it off myself.

But still, I want to attempt the oboe again.  It is a lovely instrument, and it is probably my fault it attacked my face.

4. Saxophone

Saxophones are just cool.  They make me think of jazz, 2o’s era bars, flappers, and feather boas.  Yes, please.

Jazz music has always been my favorite type of music to play.  It has this spunky character that makes me want to dance–even though I dance badly, and would probably hurt someone (like myself).

And all the good parts go to the saxophones.  And also the trumpets.  But trumpets get all the good parts, no matter what the style of music, so they don’t count.

3. Clarinet

Clarinets are fun little instruments.  They hum, like bees, hummingbirds, or a particularly noisy refrigerator.  But unlike all those things, clarinets can actually make some nice music–though I would probably pay money to go see a hummingbird quartet.

My aforementioned talented friend started off as a clarinet player.  I feel like I could be a decent clarinet player if I really tried.  After all, I was able to play some easy scales on one once.

2. Piano

I know this is probably on everyone’s list of “stuff I wish I could do.”   And that’s because pianos are capable of playing whole songs without another instrument to help out.

They have the best parts ever, because they can play anything.

One of my biggest regrets is quitting piano when I was a kid.  Maybe I’ll try to pick it up again now that I’ve graduated and have more free time and stuff.

1. Cello

I’m kind of torn between cellos and violins.  Both are beautiful instruments that make sexy, sexy music.  And I would only want to have to learn fingerings for one of them–they don’t get cheats like buttons or keys.

But in this case, the cello won out….probably because of this.

Cellos+leather jackets+Michael Jackson+overly dramatized settings=WIN

Cellos are also lower in pitch, which I like.  Squeaky things can get annoying.  I should know–I’ve played flute for years.  Why do we always get the high squeaky parts?   I blame the trumpets.

5 Reasons I Feel Like An Adult

As a recent grad, I’m realizing that life this side of college has more responsibility that I was ready for.   Though I’m still very much a kid at heart, I’m having to take on adult responsibility–and that is both exciting and terrifying.

So I started thinking yesterday about how I’m beginning to look like something that resembles an adult.

1. I have mountains of debt. 

College isn’t cheap, for anyone.  I, being stupider than most, chose to attend a private, out-of-state college.  So my college expenses were astronomically high, though not as bad as some.  However; I’m far from average.  The average college kid has $24,000 in student loan debt.   Triple that, and it’s closer to my debt.

This debt-mountain expects me to start paying it my hard-earned cash.  Which brings me to point two…

2. I have more bills than I know what to do with.

Adult life seems to be driven by bills.  Electric bills, car payments, utilities, dentist and doctor bills, not to mention rent…

And then, for grads, loan payments.  I have five different bills coming in for my loans.  That’s five chances to miss a payment, or screw up my routing number online.  Or five chances for checks to get lost in the mail.  And the whole time my credit score is hanging over my head like a death sentence, saying “I am the number people will define you by for the rest of your life!”

3. My wardrobe is getting a makeover. 

I used to live in t-shirts, jeans, and sandals.  If it wasn’t comfortable, I wouldn’t wear it.  Skirts were the devil incarnate, and high heels were the devil’s evil cousin.

Now that I’m a “professional” (yes, I giggled too–me, a professional? Hah!), I find myself shopping for cute flowery shirts, cardigans, the dreaded skirts…and yes, even high heels.  While our office is semi-casual–jeans on Fridays, yessssss–it is expected that I not look like a hippie/vagrant while I’m at work.  So I am learning to be semi-comfortable in a semi-casual workplace.

4. I am being addressed as “ma’am,” and “miss.”

This may or may not have something to do with living in the South.

Either way, it is weird. In my head, I am neither of those titles.  I’m Katie.  Just Katie. (You’re a wizard, Harry.)  Maybe if I’m constantly addressed by them, I’ll start conforming to the name.

“Ma’am” to me sounds very matronly, does that mean I’m matriarchal? Yikes.

“Miss” is better.  Sounds like a nice young schoolteacher or something.  I’m okay with being called “miss.”  Besides, “Miss Katie” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

5. Budgeting.  

I have never had to make a budget.  I made money, I spent it.  On something fun.   Like ice cream, or a video game.  It was a good life.

But now I only get paid once a month, and in order to not have to beg for gas money, I’m going to have to learn how to budget.  Sound fun? It’s not.  I make a chart and watch my paycheck dwindle and dwindle into nothingness.

I’ll be doing my first budgeting chart later in the week, probably with hilarious results.  I’ll be darned if my budding adulthood takes fun out of my life.  There’s got to be a way to balance responsibility and fun, right?

5 Ways Internet Popularity Changes Your Life

So, you are an unknown blogger, writing just for the hell of it.  Knowing that nobody will ever really read your work, so you’re free to write anything, do anything.  It’s liberating.

But then one day, overnight, you suddenly become blog-famous.

This has never happened to me, but I have watched it happen to many people–some of which have become my close friends.

And I’ve noticed that the sudden burst of popularity does something to your writing.  You change as a blogger, in a few very predictable ways.

1. Your writing style changes completely.

Whereas before you were writing only for yourself, your mother, and maybe your roommate, now you’re writing for a slew of unfamiliar people who hang on your every word.  You may have just been writing for the hell of it before, but now you agonize over every word, wanting to produce something that your unexpected audience will approve of.

Feelings of inadequacy will flood your soul, and you will find yourself wondering what on earth you could do to top whatever post made you internet-famous.

Your writing will probably stop being about existential rants with your subconscious and start being about stuff that you think your audience will care about.  Like ponies.  Or Nyan Cat.   Or breathing.  Everybody breathes.

2. You will suddenly become a terrible correspondent.

Before your popularity hike, you were on the ball.  You answered every email, replied to every comment, were an internet communications guru.  Of course, you only had like a comment a week, but who’s counting?

And then you check your email one day and have 500 messages.  And that’s only the beginning.

You want to write people back, you really do.  But with your inbox exploding with comment notifications and email and god knows what else, it’s all you can do to keep from drowning.

At first you try to respond to everyone.  Then, after you burn yourself out, you post an apology for not being able to respond to everyone.  Later, you will most likely stop replying out of sheer helplessness.  There’s just no way to keep up.

3. You will worry about keeping/losing your fame.

Because you haven’t got the slightest idea what you did to get famous, you’ll start losing sleep over what to do to keep your fame.  We all know that people have the attention span of gnats, and if you don’t hold their attention they’ll be gone faster than a slice of your grandma’s apple pie.

Which is why you’ll start staying up at night wondering what you can do to keep your schizophrenic audience happy.  You’ll quickly find out that nothing you do will please everyone.  You will begin to descend into psychological chaos when your blog entries about Nyan Cat and breathing get negative comments.

4. Driven by a crushing sense of self-inadequacy, you will stop posting for a while.

Granted, the first little while after your big “hit,” you’ll probably be in too much shock to post much of anything other than “LWJERLKSJLKFJLSDJF OMG GUYS WHAT.”  But after that initial shock wears off, you’ll slowly realize (due to a combination of the things mentioned above) that you can’t post anymore because it won’t be as good as what you did before.

You’ll give it your best shot.  You’ll write some floundering posts that try to cater to everyone’s interests.  But you’ll eventually realize that it’s futile.  You’ll give up.  Start wishing you could go back to where you were before, when you could air whatever laundry you darn well felt like airing and nobody cared.

5. You will realize that you have been a complete idiot and go back to the way things were.

Somewhere along the line you’ll figure out that all you had to do was be yourself.  That it didn’t matter what the haters said, or that your next few posts were less than stellar.  That you’ve just spent the past few weeks fretting and moping around for nothing.  That yes, you now have an audience, but you don’t have to cater to them.  All you have to do is what you did before–write whatever the heck you feel like writing and chunk it at the internet.

If you don’t ever get to this step, it’s okay.   Some people haven’t, and won’t ever get there.  You can function with high levels of self-depreciating stress.  You just won’t be very productive.

And some of you arrogant people with spades of self-confidence never had to go through steps 1-4.  The rest of us are jealous.  So jealous.  You don’t even know.

I really just don’t understand, guys.

Okay.  Let me lament to you a minute.

I really don’t get how I’m not a prime commodity on the dating scene.   I’m not saying that out of arrogance or anything.  I just really don’t understand it, because my “type” is nerds and/or geeks.  If you’re into being intelligent and video gaming, and you’ve got some personal hygiene, you’re probably up my alley.

Guys, how many of your girlfriends would be willing to play Halo with you into the night?  I would.  And not only that, I would own those aliens.  Except for hunters.  You can have those, you macho, macho man.

How about Resident Evil?  Your girl too chicken to play with zombies?  I’ll be your Sheva, and I won’t suck half as bad as the AI.

Or maybe you’re into Nintendo.  Well, I’m a Zelda nut.  Not to mention that I’m game for pretty much anything else on the console.  (pun unintentional, but amazing)  I also will kick your butt in Guitar Hero.  Just saying.

How many of your girlfriends watch all the action movies you do?  Because I have superhero movies, car chases, magic, explosions, and grand theft in my movie collection.   Watch old 80’s movies?  No problem.  Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, they’re all on my list of faves.

What kind of music do you like?  I can almost guarantee some of it is on my ipod.  I like bits and pieces of everything.  Including 80’s stuff.  The 80’s were just made of gold.  I’m finding I really, really like techno though.  I guess I’m a raver at heart?  At least it means there’s lots of glow sticks in my future…

How about books?  You like books?  I do, and I’ll read anything you put in front of me.  I mostly like sci-fi/fantasy, which is probably your genre too, you nerd.

That being said, here’s what I don’t get.

I hear all the time from people that “there aren’t any geeky girls to date.”  Speakers, youtube personalities, what have you.  And I’m sitting here going “I’m right here, dammit.” 

I mean seriously.  The best I can figure is that you geeks are too shy to come talk to me.  Which is cool, I guess, but it’s not getting either of us any dates.