Probably a Useless Update

1. My team lost at trivia tonight, in spite of a perfect round on a bunch of Super Bowl-themed questions (none of which I knew, but how many times have I carried a theme round on cartoon voices or Disney or whatever?).  Another team had two perfect rounds. . . and the music round was full of stumpers.  Good but tough.  I messed one up (got Massive Attack confused with Everything But the Girl because all I could think of was this gal who sang with both) but it made little difference.

2. I still suspect something's up with the comments--that or I'm boring you; don't you have anything to say about that?--so I've switched the comments to the full page (as opposed to the separate pop-up box) to see if that helps things.

3. Basically after one class on Wednesday I'm done for the week, teaching-wise.  There's a lot going on because it's a special week in the archdiocese (well, across the nation) and classes get preempted left and right.

4.  It's 11:55 and I'm not quite settled down, so I think I'll play a round of solitaire, put away some laundry, and then crash for the night.  Special luncheon tomorrow.  We'll see what I actually get to eat, allergy-wise.



Trivia Might Break Your Heart

If you've been looking forward to a cat-free post, here you go.  (However, if you enjoy The Cat's adventures, when the new scratching post arrives there will be details.)

Earlier this week, I got a last-minute invitation from the weekly trivia host to join his team for an annual fundraiser to benefit his former parochial school.  I said yes before I had all the details, because I like having an excuse to go out on a Friday night.

Issue #1: It was fifty-some bucks to register (upped because I was signing up late).

Oh well, it's for a good cause.

So I get there on Friday night, and when I go to sign in, I'm told my team is at Table 1.

You know, because they're the returning champions.  Oops! I mean five-time champions.  Consecutively.

Issue #2: Pressure.  Lots of it.  I was filling in for someone who had helped them win!?

Well, at least three people from my regular team were there, so I didn't feel completely awkward.  But before they arrived, I didn't know anyone else from the team besides the captain. . . and the guy I'd met at the last benefit trivia (see #3 in that post).  And of course the captain sat me next to him because we were the "music people."

Now, I don't think I ever gave an update after the whole situation where I was beating myself up for not being available at the pub post-game for that guy.  Let's just say that I did ask around, and he did not get very favorable comments when it came to the dating department.  I was told that on the rare occasions when he came to the pub to play trivia, he would bring dates that didn't exactly give everyone the warm fuzzies.  I definitely was not his type.

So I didn't really give it much stock when I was seated next to him.  I thought, Cool, we can chat or whatever.  Just have fun.  And it was, in the beginning.

Until he leaned over and said, "Since we're the only single people on the team, you've been assigned to take care of me."

When I raised an eyebrow, he added, "Oh, don't worry, it's not like you'll have to carry me out or anything."

I tried to play it off with amusement, like, "So this is what they do to the new people on the team?" but it really did not thrill me.  There was alcohol at this event; was there really so much confidence on this team that it was O.K. to get beyond buzzed?

And honestly, as the game went on, he did drink more, and the more he drank, the damper his personality got.  He was a drag.  He made off-color jokes that I wouldn't make in mixed company if I didn't know them that well.  I seriously wondered if he was stoned at one point, because he seemed just spaced out.

That was the beginning of Issue #3: Disappointment.  Because in the middle of all that, the game was not going well.  Apparently, the strategy that had served the team well in past years was failing.  I knew it wasn't my fault, but I felt like a jinx in a way.  I also felt bad that my friend the captain would be really sad if we lost.  

The final nail in the coffin was the piece-of-cake music round at the end.  Then I really felt useless.  Much later I would realize I had given several helpful answers that had helped the team achieve a slightly-less-heartbreaking third place, but in the moment, I felt sad and frustrated.  

You-know-who, who had been asking me during the game if I was having fun, which I had been. . . until we lost (oh and let me tell you, there was much cheering from the other two dozen teams that the champs went down).  So in the middle of all that cheering, he kept asking me, "But did you have fun?"  First time, I said yeah.  Second time, yeah, I had a lot of fun.

Either I wasn't convincing (full disclosure: I don't have a poker face), or he was just out of it, or he was trying to be a nice guy and console me, but he asked again.

Finally, I said, "I totally had fun, but I don't like to lose, so I feel a little sad, too.  I'm a Libra; we're complicated inside."

So yeah, I'm a competitive person and I'm sad when I lose (and sad for my teammates).

At least it gave me a reason not to go back to the pub for a post-game drink with you-know-who.

It sounds weird, but I still have faith that by going out and doing things that I enjoy, I'm bound to meet people, for friends or dating or whatever.  I'm meeting people from all different backgrounds, but I don't feel out of place, because finally I'm not being made fun of for knowing something.  In fact, my intellect is celebrated--the team captain has told others that I am a "music savant" and I am totally flattered and blushing over that.  And loving it. 

Except maybe when we lose.


Operation Armchair Shield

The Cat has declared war on my beautiful armchair.

Early in the morning--you pet owners know, earlier than your alarm and earlier than their breakfast time--the "Pick! Pick! Pick!" of claws on upholstery tears me out of bed so I can shoo someone off back of the armchair.

And then there are those totally random moments where she just can't fight the compulsion to scratch on the side of the chair as she walks by.  Or thinks I'm not giving her (perhaps her food bowl?) enough attention.

She's always been pretty good about where she scratches.  She likes the sisal post part of her perch (a.k.a. "Scratchie"), and I praise her when she uses it, which is several times a day.  Considering that Foster & Smith doesn't make it anymore, maybe it's getting a little old.  (This is her second one, actually.)  I've been a little lax about the carpet, because it was garbage when I moved in and should've been replaced.  I know they're going to replace it when I move out.  Those were the only places she scratched.  On those rare moments of naughty behavior, I could say, "Show me what a good girl does," and she'd trot over to "Scratchie" and stretch up to it.  

Until the armchair business started about a month ago.  

I couldn't take it anymore.  I'm starting to see some pulls in the upholstery.  I've been looking around for a scratching post like "Scratchie," but they're all really pricey and seemingly not tall enough.  You can see "Scratchie," as well as The Cat's height, in the photo for this post.

So, I have given up on sisal and am going to try this stand-up cardboard scratcher.  She loves the catnip from that company--she gets a pinch of it every morning on her perch--so maybe it will attract her.

Attract her far away from the armchair.


Greetings from Her Royal Squeakiness

Dang it, I lost my voice yesterday.

Most likely it was inevitable, because I had been dealing with the sniffles all week.  And then I went to a trivia event Friday night (we kicked butt!), after which I noticed my throat hurt a little.  Woke up with no voice Saturday morning, not to mention I was really dragging and had more sniffles than before.

I did use the remedy Amy G suggested ages ago, and I squeaked my way through Mass this morning (pretty bad but everyone was kind and said I sounded all right).  But I'm taking the honey-lemon-booze combo again tonight to see if I can break it up for good.

Already took a personal day for tomorrow (day trip with family) so it's just as well I don't have to be at school without a voice!



Aaaah. . . Friday. . .

First full week at school since before Christmas, and boy, am I tired.  I also had some sort of stomach bug or something from last night on, and it did not make for an easy morning to get out the door.  I honestly would've bailed if I hadn't needed to give a presentation to an English class.  (And naturally they were nuts because they have the day off from school on Monday.)

But hey, I was helpful today.  My co-librarian wanted to show different kinds of cheese to go along with the book she was reading to the kindergarten classes, but she wasn't impressed with what was online in terms of both good images and kid-appealing.  So I suggested this video gem.  Crank the volume. (As a matter of fact, I found the full set of videos at one of the county library branches and put in a request so maybe some of the classes will have a better quality video.)

Still haven't written my thank-you notes for my Christmas gifts, so I'm hoping to knock those out tomorrow.  I did manage to convince my friend that she had too much going on tomorrow to go to the movies--her dad had a stroke about a week ago and was moved to the rehab facility today, and then the dryer gave out on her last weekend so she has to wait for the repair people to show up.  
Seriously, let's call a time out, get done what needs to get done, and if she's up for the movies Sunday afternoon, we'll go.  Her dad's doing all right considering the circumstances, and I know she really has been looking forward to one particular movie.  Bless her heart, I talked to her for about an hour tonight and she talked pretty much non-stop about her dad, and I'm not sure if she's done anything for herself really.

Well, it appears Friday is pretty much done.  I'm off to get ready for bedtime with The Cat.  She probably is already in her little cat bed and I haven't taken the hint!



Life on Planet Cat

Life on Planet Cat means. . .

1. The food that was scarfed down yesterday might produce an upturned nose today, and you'll have to try again tomorrow. (The Cat)

2. The same goes for Pill Pockets. Which really sucks because it forces you to use liquid meds and hope it's a "Dinner is yummy!" night. (The Cat)

3. The brand new faux-mink blanket your friends gave you for Christmas is scary to a certain household member. (The "Baby" cat at my parents' house)
He's in feline special education; it took him ten years to learn how to do kitty things
like chase a shoelace and let people scratch his chin.

4. Part of settling down for the night requires that your chest gets walked across several times before the feline form is wedged between you and the edge of the bed closest to the door. (The Cat)

5. The Christmas tree is not a decoration.  It is something to lie under, attack and swat off fragile shiny things, and occasionally taste. (Pretty much any cat)



Christmas Week Recap

First of all, Happy New Year!  I do have resolutions I'll be sharing shortly, but here are a few details about Christmas Eve/Day/vacation went. (Annie Coe made the star ornament above, BTW.)

 Yes, the Christmas tree did go up.

And yes, The Cat has been treating it like a salad bar from time to time.  (I shoo her away and say, "Hmm, wonder why you have intestinal cancer!?"  Gotta have a sense of humor about it.)

Well, before Christmas Eve, I had a Christmas faculty/staff luncheon at school after an early dismissal of the students.  The food was very good (catered by relatives of a former student, I think), and the pollyanna was fun once it got going.  I "stole" some unusual Christmas crackers from someone.  It also happened that my name was drawn to take home a centerpiece, an arrangement of roses and pine in a vase.

The Cat tried to eat those, too.

Before Christmas Eve, I did some last-minute shopping.  There also was a small christening for my littlest nephew, Bunny.  My SIL's parents were in town, and Younger Sister and her BF arrived at the church in time.  It was Bunny's real "first time out"--nothing other than hospital, home, and doctor's office for him prior to that.  He was totally mellow about it, and while I didn't get much holding time, I didn't mind, because he was just so small and I was just out of school--I never know if I'm harboring school germs and I'd die if I got my godson sick.
What I did mind, however, was my SIL's friend's surprise that it was my first time seeing him in person.  Well, excuse me, but I'm not their best friend and neighbor like her.  I work 50+ hours a week and couldn't just dash down to the hospital--and again, I'd been worried about bringing some sort of illness from my students, anyway.  I've been nearly banned from their house for even mentioning I was over a cold before, so. . . yeah, I just kept my distance and told them to call if they needed help, which they said they didn't.  I think the best friends and neighbors were called on second after my parents.
Call me overly sensitive, but I just get tired of being measured by others' presumptive yardsticks.
In any event, I was allowed to come back to the house to have (non-allergy-friendly) cake.  It's pretty wild but Middle Nephew #1 (age 6) is obsessed with comic strip hero Calvin and insisted on reading to me from a book he borrowed from the library.  He did ask me to explain some expressions to him, like where Calvin's mom says, "Honestly, Calvin, can you manage to stay in the present for more than a few minutes?"  I also pointed out to him that the colored pages were published on Sundays and the black-and-white strips appeared one at a time in the daily newspaper.  Daily newspapers are a foreign concept to that generation, I'm sure.

Christmas Eve: Baked like crazy all afternoon, enjoying music on my lovely stereo provided by WXPN--including their annual broadcast of "Striking 12"--before dinner at my cousins'.  Watching Niece and Middle Nephews scarf down two to three bowls of spaghetti apiece was a great distraction from the lovey-dovey stuff going on between Younger Sister and her BF.  (Don't get me wrong--I like them as a couple and I'm happy for Younger Sister. I mean it. It's just really easy to be conscious of one's own solitary condition at this time of year.)
It turned out the unusual Christmas crackers contained prizes like a mini-stapler and a bottle opener.  Weird. But they also had the standard corny jokes and crowns.  My one cousin managed to rip his crown in half straight out of the cracker, and a college-age friend of the family remarked, "They spelled 'favorite' wrong."  Well, it wasn't wrong if you lived in the U.K.  I'm surprised she wasn't aware of that spelling variation.  What are they teaching college freshmen these days?
When I got home, I had the rebroadcast of the Midnight Mass in Rome, not to mention The Cat, wondering why we weren't turning in, to keep me company as I wrapped all my presents.  Went to bed at 1:15 a.m.

Christmas Day: Mass went well and our choir practices paid off.  I still wasn't crazy about singing "O Holy Night" as a group, but it sounded good enough.
Went home, packed up my gifts for my parents' house, and changed into something comfortable.  Christmas is a pretty casual affair once Mass is over.  Had eggs with Mom, Younger Sister, and YSBF.  Well, YSBF's on this bodybuilding diet and made a massive eggs/chicken-sausage sandwich. Yikes. Dad was covering the music at a later Mass at another church for their music director, so naturally he walked in the door just as we were finishing.  After Dad had his eggs, we did some present-opening.  It was actually pretty fun with just the five of us, not feeling rushed or in the middle of chaos.
My Maiden Aunt flew in about an hour later with my great-aunt the elderly nun, deposited Great-Aunt's things, and left.  We were all O.K. with that.
Dinner of course got off to a late start because Mom was holding it for Older Brother, who called to say that he was bringing the older four and that they were in the doghouse for not waiting for Mommy and Daddy to get up this morning. . . Mommy and Daddy came downstairs to find presents opened and strewn everywhere.  I mean this with a humorous bent:  Part of me is not surprised and even a bit amused.
But hey, we all enjoyed our ham (some enjoyed lasagna as well), and we were joined by my first cousins who made the trip from Ohio with their baby daughter.  Ohhhh yes, I had baby-holdin' time aplenty.  Then the kids opened their presents (temporary ban on presents having been lifted).  Oldest Nephew was thrilled to get from me a gift card to an electronic gaming store, as it turned out he had gotten a gaming system from not one but both sets of parents--so much for the books I also gave him!--and Niece loved her kitty pillow (got a wayyy better deal on it elsewhere) even more after she discovered that kitty's colors matched her jacket.  (Very important to little girls, you know.)  That was a lucky coincidence.
It's hard to me to choose my favorite gift.  The photo book that my mom put together was nice, and the lotion Younger Sister gave me is one of my favorite brands.  And I have to give YSBF credit for even getting me anything at all.   (He gave me a kitten-a-day calendar; I gave him a nice t-shirt.  He's kinda gotten too muscle-y for some of his clothes so I figured he'd appreciate that.)

My week of vacation went by in a blur of visiting with relatives, trivia night (we won! Perfect score on the music round!), a doctor's appointment in NJ (followed by shopping at a special supermarket, where I still managed to forget vegan queso dip), and a last-minute invite to dinner with a recently-rediscovered friend at a soon-to-be-open brewpub.  

I have one more day of vacation to finish preparing the apartment for some requested fix-ups and doing my thank-you notes.  I hope whatever time you had to enjoy Christmas/New Year's was good!