Interview trail: tour de PA part 1





You single people don’t know how good you have it. While Y was on this trip — Tuesday through Saturday–, I realized I could forgo taking a shower for  four days straight and no one would notice. Another perk: leaving the house an absolute mess and cleaning up only just before someone came over. Why didn’t you guys tell me about this stuff before I decided to go and get married?


The other great thing about Y leaving for a week is what I like to call Operation Summer Vacation. If you were like me in middle school and high school, you were nerdy, chubby, and, well, in great need of a makeover. 



Every year as the final bell rang on the last day of school, you smiled to yourself and thought, This is it. This is the summer I will become hot. I’ll work out everyday. I’ll get a tan. I will read Seventeen magazine very carefully to build up a show-stopping wardrobe. When I come back, no one will recognize me. 

If you were like me in middle school and high school, this never worked. You came back to school with a farmer’s sunburn and some scary new moles, as chubby as ever and  – if your parents really hated you – with braces.

Regardless, when Y left on Tuesday Operation Summer Vacation  was in full swing. I got my eyebrows waxed (not like he’s ever noticed that), worked out every day, and made an appointment to get a hairstyle that  I knew Y  would not only actually notice, but really love — bangs.

I sat in the chair at the salon, an hour before Y returned, freshly showered for the first time in four days. My stylist spun me around to see my new bangs. “All done!” she beamed, “What do you think?” 

I only had a nanosecond to look at myself before jumping up. “They’re fine!” I blurted out, ripping off my cape, throwing money at her, and running to my car.  The thing was, all I saw was that they were closer to my hairline than my eyebrows. And that was all I needed to see — they were too short and anything she tried to do to fix them would just make them shorter. She needed to stop touching them immediately.  


It’s just hair, I told myself. Surely it will look better in the car mirror, right? They couldn’t possibly be as short as they looked in the salon… right? And even if they are, maybe I can pull off short bangs. I was feeling pretty good about myself by the time I got to my car and opened the mirror. 



The good news: it turns out only one side was too short. 


Operation Summer Vacation had failed again. When Y walked in the door the first thing he said was “your hair looks weird” followed by stifled laughter and a week of jokes at my expense. 

Just like middle school. 

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lonely Jews on Christmas /giveaway winner

Y’s family was once interviewed by the paper to answer the timeless question: what do Jews do on Christmas? Since the paper thought an entire city might want the answer to that mystery, I thought I’d shed some light on the topic for my readers.


Spoiler alert: have you ever been hanging out on a Sunday, bored out of your mind, whining about about how there’s nothing to do except go to the movies? That’s Christmas. 




Except this year, it was dark and rainy outside and I was glad not to have an excuse to put down my book and get out of my sparkly pajamas.  This and catching up on How I Met Your Mother took up approximately 90% of the day. The other 10% was spent inserting Ike’s name to the tune of the How I Met Your Mother theme song. 


At sundown we lit our menorah because we were jealous of all the people celebrating. And because it was the 6th night of Chanukah. 





“Classic” Jewish Christmas dinner: Chinese food. (I’m now realizing that putting the dog in the collage may have been a poor choice.)  We purposely ate this because everyone expects Jews to eat Chinese on Christmas and we think it’s funny to indulge fantasy stereotypes. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think the tradition has reached the point of only being observed to be ironic — clearly we could have made something non-Chinese, but what would be the fun in that? In the spirit of being completely lazy, we put towels on the bed and ate there while watching Limitless. Ike was obviously invited.

(PS: [non-authentic] Chinese food recipe (it’s Y’s favorite dinner) + a blog post from the Smithsonian about Jews/Chinese food)

And for dessert? My favorite cold weather treat: peppermint white hot chocolate. 



To recap: reading, soy sauce, Bradley Cooper, warm indulgent drinks. Just your average Sunday. 

——-




Congrats to MB for winning a few of my favorite things! I’ll be sure to share what they were as soon as I know MB received the package – I wish I could send all of you presents 🙂

a surprise giveaway!






I’ve mentioned before how much I love giving gifts (however late they may be), and now I want to give one of my readers a little gift. I know I sometimes go weeks without posts or take an insanely long time to respond to your comments, but it makes me so happy that you’ve stuck around to read and that perhaps something I said made you smile or nod your head in agreement. 


One thing I’ve had to explain a lot in my lifetime is that during Chanukah — if my family is feeling generous and ambitious and I happen to be under the age of 10– I receive one present per night for eight. whole. nights. According to the kids I knew growing up, this almost made up for not having a Christmas tree. In that spirit, I’ve put together a surprise package of eight of my favorite things – a little Chanukah experience for one of you. 


(Although, in typical D fashion, I’m late and you won’t get to open one every night. But, you CAN celebrate Accelerated Chanukah, which my dad made up for those busy holiday seasons when we went out of town during Chanukah. Basically it consists of opening up eight presents in one night. It doesn’t suck.) 


All you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment on this post. I’ll pick a winner Tuesday night (the last night of Chanukah)!


For a bonus entry, leave a comment on this post telling Y how hilarious he is. But don’t tell him I told you to do it. Wink, wink. 


PS. I’m pretty sure I deserve some kind of prize for managing to spell Chanukah the exact same way five whole times throughout this post.


(not that my modest existence on the internet should make you feel like I would be compensated for doing this, but I thought you should know that I’m not being compensated. Just a mild case of holiday spirit.)


(Also, fair warning, the gifts are kind of girly, so don’t get too excited if you happen to be male.)

notes from the interview trail: Midwest Stop #4 (part b)




A few things I’ve learned:


  • When a guy’s nearest and dearest friends and family take the time to send a wedding gift on his behalf, he is helpless to write a thank you note. “But… but what do I say?” he asks. “Say thank you for the thing they got you,” you say helpfully. The notes pile up on his desk and eventually some are even forgotten about.  However, when there’s a job on the line? Thank you note writing becomes an art and the most important thing he can possibly do. “They wrote me a thank you note for my thank you note!” he says, “Should I write them a thank you note for their thank you note for my thank you note?”

  • It might seem exciting to travel around the country, run through airports, eat free meals, and explore new cities’ public transportation options. You might even be jealous. But don’t be fooled. I was, until I heard the phrase “soul-crushing loneliness” from a Microtel in Michigan. 

  • When you’re home alone and you wake up in the morning to find your couch smeared with blood, save yourself a heart attack and don’t automatically assume someone broke in, tried to kill something, freaked out at the sight of blood, and left. It might sound ridiculous, but I was home alone and saw blood — wouldn’t your first thought be murderer?? Luckily,it turns out my queasy murderer was just my dog, who decided to bury a pack of gum in the couch with his nose. He did so with such intensity that he rubbed his nose raw and streaked our tan couch with smears of blood that would have left Dexter Morgan scratching his head. 

interview trail: midwest stop #3

While Y was on interview #3, some kind of rodent took up residence in our walls. Of course it decided the best time for its stay would be when I was home alone, extra sensitive to every little noise. Every time I thought I was falling asleep, I would hear a taptaptap behind my head and before I knew it, Ike would be standing on my chest barking.  Not cool, unidentified rodent. 


But the incident reminded me of a story: when Y and I lived in a crappy old apartment at LSU, something lived in our ceiling. We heard it running around occasionally, mainly when it got cold. Our apartment was an upgrade for Y; he had lived in a ramshackle quadplex where a dead mouse was a weekly occurrence. 





Our apartment was a downgrade for me: my friend and I lived in a fairly new townhouse with a new washer and dryer and a bowling alley. Okay, it was a long narrow closet, but we called it the bowling alley. My point is, there were no rodents.


Anyway, one morning at the new apartment, Y and woke up and heard scratching coming from the ceiling. “Ugh, it’s that mouse again,” I groaned, rolling over and falling back asleep. When I eventually got out of bed, I stepped on something grainy with my bare feet. I squinted at the neat little pile on the ground. Paint chips? I thought to myself. How did those get… 





I happened to look up. And scream, because this is basically what I saw on my ceiling:








I don’t mind squirrels, honestly. Just when they’re sticking their head through my ceiling. 

And that’s what kept me up until 1 am while Y was at interview #3. Fear of a squirrel.


Y’s  pre-interview dinners were sometimes during my environmental health class. So two weeks in a row, while I suffered through three hour lectures on lead poisoning and occupational health, Y texted me pictures of the amazing gratis meals he was eating. 





Do you have any idea how good blurry pub food sounds when you’re learning about reproductive issues in factory workers in Korea? Really good.

interview trail: midwest stop #2






Y is a different sort of traveler than I am. I’m the kind of airplane passenger who puts my headphones on or buries my nose in a book immediately after sitting down. I don’t care where you’re from, 16A, I don’t care where you’re going, and I don’t want to tell you what I’m reading. Unless you have a baby. If you have a baby, I want to hold it and then give it back to you as soon as it starts crying so no one thinks I am that person with a crying baby on a plane.


Y, on the other hand, comes home with a person’s first and last name, where they went to elementary school, and the latest argument they had with their wife. During layovers, he dines in airport bars with plane-friends. On this trip, someone from Y’s flight was staying at his hotel and they went out to lunch. I DON’T GET IT.



—–


When Y told me he got this interview, I gave him the so-called stinkface, a term coined by Katie. I had never even considered visiting this particular state or city, much less living there. But then the following things happened:

  • the city’s standard Wikipedia page made it sound amazing.
  • every single person I mentioned it to told me I would love it. 
  • part of our criteria for ranking is Ike’s reaction when we say the name of the state.* When I asked Ike if he wanted to live there he did this:



My point is, don’t completely write off a place just because you wouldn’t go there for a girls’ weekend. 

—-

A theme of Y’s interview travels: call people you haven’t spoken to in 3 and a half years and ask to stay with them when you visit their respective cities. You get a free night and get to catch up with an old friend. And they get an unexpected houseguest who smells vaguely like a hospital. Win win.



*kidding. Isn’t it sad that I had to clarify that?