Tiny Mistakes

Mistakes

We all make mistakes. At least, that’s what I tell people to help them feel better when they do something dumb. I usually make three to seven hundred mistakes a day, but most of them are relatively manageable. They make my day interesting and also give me something to think about at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. In an effort to stop repeating them (yeah right, this is purely for entertainment purposes), I’m going to begin compiling a few of these embarrassing but minor errors.

Tiny Mistakes of Last Week:

  1. Microwaved black beans in a metal strainer, causing sparks and a strong lingering taste of burnt steel
  2. Burned my fingers picking up a pot before remembering that fire makes things hot
  3. Slipped on the escalator at the Metro and snapped my metro card in half
  4. Didn’t speed up fast enough when running from some virtual zombies and lost some crucial supplies for my virtual township
  5. Forgot to stop talking to a coworker before inappropriate things started coming out of my mouth
  6. Exploded my oatmeal all over in an ill-timed cooking disaster (not quite as badly as the time I dropped a bowl of oatmeal muffin batter on the ground and managed to cover two walls, the ceiling, the kitchen counter, the dining room table, my face, and Dave’s feet in oatmeal remnants, so I’m giving myself a pass on this one)

Most of these errors are food-based. I don’t think that’s because I make more mistakes regarding food, but just that I think about eating a lot. Like, really a lot.

Venture Adventures

RobotSwitch

I recently had to change my retirement account. And by “I had to change it,” I mean, I got a message that I didn’t understand, so I forwarded it to Dave and he did some stuff on the computer. Good thing I have a professional in the house.

Despite not being interested in the details, I’m excellent at choosing investments. I know this because I’ve had minor short-term success on a couple random choices. My secret is my tried and true stock-selection methodology. First, find something that you’ve heard of. Second, look at the zig-zag lines and make sure they are generally trending upward for a couple years. Third, check that the company isn’t super skeezy.

Here are some things I plan to invest in:

  • A company that sells gummi candy in barrels
  • A robot start-up (I am not so much interested in robots as I am in getting insider information, so I can know when the uprising will start)
  • A unicycle manufacturer, because there won’t be any competition when they come back in style
  • A collective that knits head-to-toe sweaters, with hoods and slippers. Basically, sweaters that turn you into a flying squirrel.
  • A pottery shop that creates bowls with quotes encouraging seconds, like “Have just a bit more.” and “You’re looking a little too thin.”
  • A ninja delivery system. Literally people dressed as ninjas who leave you presents.

And if these endeavors turn out to be duds, at least I’ll be well-prepared to join a circus run by sweater-wearing robots riding unicycles and eating sweets.

Snack-kus

Snack

One of my very favorite bloggers, The Bloggess, recently posted a couple haikus on her site and encouraged readers to play along. She’s particularly talented and delightfully strange, so you should check those out. In the spirit of internet camaraderie, I’m going to share a few of my own. Warning, I am really hungry.

hotdogs with mustard
the one reason for baseball
let me eat in peace

sweet gummi candy
why are you not in my mouth
we need to fix that

what can i add here
hummus and yes more hummus
it’s much better now

Leave your own 5-7-5 syllable poem here in the comments and I’ll respond with another written just for you. You can use it as a voicemail message or tattoo it on your body. Whatever. I’m not in charge of your poetry usage.

 

Hank the Tank

BigEars

Last weekend I watched Hank the Sloth Bear, resident of the National Zoo, suck mealworms through a tube. The zookeeper loaded up her hand full of the beetle larvae and Hank used the power of his lungs to pull up the treat. He was obviously strong and a voracious eater, so I was impressed. I can appreciate anyone willing to suck their treats through a long tube. That shows a dedication to snacking with which I can identify.

But what I liked most about Hank was his incredibly floppy face. His ears were hairy and droopy, like a Muppet. His nose had extra skin so he could pull it flat to his face. His lips were comically saggy, heavy with extra skin. All of this is an evolutionary benefit to allow Hank to suck up termites easier, but it mostly seems like an evolutionary benefit for looking ridiculous. It’s great.

Everyone really appreciated Hank’s unique facial features, but I’m wondering why we don’t appreciate such unique features on humans. No one sees a man on the bus with huge, uneven ears and just can’t stand how adorable he is. A woman with heavy, sinking cheeks isn’t praised for her distinctive beauty. A person without most of his teeth isn’t considered a bit unfortunate, but ultimately charming. Why is it that we can accept, even praise, these unusual characteristics in other animals, but not in ourselves?

Next time I see someone with a super floppy face, I’m going to hug her and tell her that her distinct look reminds me of a sloth bear. That might not go over well at first, but if she’s unhappy with the compliment, I’ll just turn it around and ask her why she’s so speciesist and what she has against sloth bears. That’ll show that droopy-faced lady.

 

The Plot Thins

Scattergraph

When I started college, an academic advisor convinced me to take a difficult statistics class. I don’t know what on my transcript made him think that was a good idea, but I suspect it was my frantic need to avoid math courses at all costs. That might seem counterintuitive, but this particular statistics class fulfilled two math-related requirements at my school, so it was like ripping off a bandaid—a painful, useless bandaid. I signed up because, as a public school student, I was used to taking classes that were ill-fitted to my abilities and goals.

Weirdly, this turned out to be a big mistake. I was completely uninterested in statistics (duh) and refused to dedicate any of my brainpower to something that a computer program could do for me. I learned two things in that course. First, don’t waste your time on nonsense. Second, the greatest graph of all time is the scattergraph. (Note: Until this very moment, I thought it was called a scattograph, so maybe I didn’t even learn two things.)

For those of you who aren’t statistical experts, a scattergraph is one where you plot data points wherever they fall, without any required pre-graphing analysis. All you do is choose the x and y axis and put in the data and see how it lands. The beauty of a scattergraph is that you don’t need to worry about strange outliers or a weird range. You just throw it all up there and see what happens. The random dot in the corner can just sit there on its own and you don’t need to bother with it. It was my kind of analysis.

In life, we’re sometimes stuck with weird, random data points. Faced with one in another statistical analysis, you might be forced to ignore it completely, put it aside as a footnote, or change your conclusion. With a scattergraph, you just leave it there with the rest of those dots. You don’t have to pretend you never got that horrible haircut as a 12 year old, you can just see it alongside all the really great ones you’ve gotten since then. These graphs let you view your decision-making trajectory on a general incline, despite a few bad vodka-filled nights. They are holistic and forgiving.

That is what I tried to tell my statistics professor when I turned in an assignment filled with only scattergraphs. Surprise—I barely passed, benefitting from a very generous curve. It probably didn’t help that I called them scattographs every time, like I was plotting animal droppings or improvised jazz mumblings.

Ms. Jean

GrandmaConvo

Last weekend I met Ms. Jean, my neighbor who lives across the street. Dave and I were shoveling our sidewalk and he noticed her walking down her steps with a shovel. I walked cross the street to offer my help, but she insisted she didn’t need any.

I didn’t ask her age, but she was old enough to tell me she felt “privileged to be healthy enough to shovel her walk.” At what age does that change happen? I feel like it aligns with the “I’m going to tell you random facts about my life, despite your not asking” stage of life. The very sweet Ms. Jean has reached that stage. Here are some things I learned about her while I was not helping her shovel snow:

  1. She tutors local high school students, which is great because it keeps her young. She hasn’t been able to work with them recently, but is about to get back into it. I don’t know what subjects she tutors, but I assume it’s either knitting or quantum physics.
  2. She has a tiny dog named Annabelle, who she took in when she was 4 months old (Annabelle, not Ms. Jean, that would be ridiculous, this isn’t a Tuck Everlasting dog). Ms. Jean’s friend, who works a lot, called her up and said, “You have to take this dog. She just sits in a cage all day long.”
  3. Ms. Jean leaves the tv on for the dog, so she doesn’t get lonely. I don’t know why she does this, since Ms. Jean is almost always home and clearly likes to talk.
  4. She knows I have probably seen Annabelle out and about, because she likes to give her her freedom. She’s right. I have. At first I was concerned, but I appreciate the grandmotherly distance Ms. Jean takes in raising the pup.
  5. All of her children live out of state, except one son. Annabelle loves that son. She expresses her love by falling on the floor and crying. I’m concerned that Ms. Jean doesn’t have a good emotional gauge for pets.
  6. She likes to shop at Trader Joe’s, but sometimes she goes to Whole Foods. We didn’t have to speak the truth of why we both only sometimes shop at Whole Foods. We know neither of us are millionaires.

Next time I see Annabelle walking down the sidewalk, I won’t worry. I’ll know she’s just taking a break from her soaps with Ms. Jean.

Suit Up

MutantDreams

I only have strange, intense dreams. I never fall asleep and imagine myself showing up at school, having forgotten about an exam. I show up at school and am forced to fight a dragon alongside Kevin Hart, while my 3rd grade teacher floats above us reciting times tables and throwing giant spiders. They are usually a mash-up of something that could be real and something pulled from a fantasy world. I know it’s a feature of my anxious and constantly running brain, that even in my sleep it is wild and uncontainable.

I had a dream like this a few nights ago. Dave and I showed up to a giant mall—full of the crowds and consumption of all malls. Not my jam. This mall was slightly different than the average mall, since it was part mall, part jungle. I didn’t see any monkeys, but it was like the very beginning of Jumanji, when just a few of those giant-leafed trees had started to sprout. We stopped in a coffee shop to get some espressos. In real life, we never drink coffee, so in describing this dream to Dave, he insisted this was the strangest part of the situation. This goes to show you that he’s heard too many of these stories.

We were holding our tiny cups of hot liquid and walking around the mall. Eventually, I remembered why we were in this strange place. I looked down at my feet and saw that I was wearing heels, which made it all crystal clear. Unless there was a wedding in this courtyard, I was headed to an job interview. The problem was that I couldn’t find the store where I hoped to work. I started asking the people around me, “Do you know where Brookstone is?” No one knew. Finally, someone told me, “There’s no Brookstone here.” That was concerning. I kept walking. Then I realized I was supposed to be interviewing at Brooks Brothers. I asked a lady at a kiosk and she told me there was one, but it was far away. “Walk to the other end of the mall,” she said, “Keep going until you get to the end, then go outside toward where the chimpanzees live. It’s over there.” (Unspoken understanding between the koisk woman and me: these were flying chimpanzees.)

That made perfect sense, so off we went. Dave stopped partway through our journey, though, and looked at me very seriously. He pointed down at the black and red vinyl purse he was now carrying and said, “Is this yours? Does this have your name on it?” It wasn’t and it didn’t. He said, “I have to go return this. I have to find the owner.” He turned around and left me to find the chimpanzee-guarded menswear store. It wasn’t very supportive, but I think he was just trying to be responsible. One of us had to be—I couldn’t even remember the name of my new place of employment. I had to keep going despite his abandonment. This felt like a clutch gig.

I opened the back doors of the mall and started walking down a rocky, desert path, surrounded by cliffs. I don’t know why someone built a mall in such a disaster zone. Also, the heels were a poor choice. Further in the distance, I could see the flying chimpanzees. They didn’t look friendly, but I was sure we’d be cool with one another. I made my way to an iron ladder mounted on one of the cliffs. There were two other women there and together we tried to get down the ladder to the apocalyptic circus below (where a man could also buy a dapper suit). I woke up as one of the women grabbed my hand, helping me down the steps.

As I was moving down the ladder, I noticed there was a parking lot next to Brooks Brothers. Just like me—can’t take the easy way even in my dreams.

Weekend Warrior

ButterSide

I’d planned to write a lot of great stuff for you guys to read this weekend, but I spent too much time reading books, eating snacks, and watching my tv-friends achieve an epic zombie massacre. When I spend a weekend like this, I feel a bit like I’ve failed. Like maybe I should have been doing something better than this. But then I think to myself, what would that better thing be? And I can’t come up with anything.

Dave is always telling me that something isn’t a waste if you enjoy it, but I don’t think it’s so simple. What if you enjoy buying bananas and tossing them immediately in the trash? That sounds like a waste. Or if you get new shoes, wear them to work once, and push them through your office’s paper shredder? Definitely a waste. So I don’t use that bar, because I care about the environment.

I have a new measure for weekend success—number and deliciousness of pancakes eaten. I just decided this was the standard, so I didn’t count this weekend’s intake, but I know it would register pretty high on the pancake-devouring scale. Also, they were eaten with blueberry syrup made from actual blueberries, which adds a few points for fanciness. Next weekend, I’ll either have to eat 23 pancakes or wear tuxedo pajamas to breakfast. Win-win.