23 June 2006

This Desperate Housewife

I used to think I was a good cook, and so did everyone else, for that matter. (Never mind that freak salt incident when my mother let me make banana nut muffins unsupervised for the first time back in the fourth grade.) Freshman year when I made a birthday cake for my friend Brett, my friends swore it looked like Martha had iced it herself. And when Jaci and Cheryl and I made cupcakes for Cheryl's older brother and his roommates, I fussed at Jaci for her poor kitchen etiquette because, after all, I was an expert. Later, I reveled in the cooking bliss of preparing meals for myself and my now husband, Clay. And my family would praise my snickerdoodles, claiming they'd never tasted better.

So, upon getting married and obtaining a kitchen of my own, I was ecstatic when considering the prospects of culinary fame knocking at my doorstep. Visions of piping hot casseroles and gourmet meats smothered in savory sauces danced through my head, and I was fairly certain I could only receive rave reviews on whatever dish I placed on the table. I was fairly certain...until recently.

The first full week I was in charge of planning meals and going to the store to purchase ingredients for said meals, I could hardly contain myself. After poring over our slew of shiny new cookbooks for hours, I finally determined the perfect menu for the week. But that evening when I came home and began to prepare the first dish on the list, I realized my terrible mistake: I had purchased the wrong ingredients! Now for any seasoned cook, this would not cause panic because she would be prepared with an arsenal of dry pastas, spices, and canned goods. This newlywed? Have you seen our pantry? Well, I thought I could improvise - emphasis on the "thought." Turns out I had looked at the wrong picture in the cookbook and surmised that I could use the one box of pasta shells we had to supplement this dish. But this recipe didn't call for pasta shells.
So, in my attempts to be resourceful, I created a dish which surpasses description. My dear husband, a man who is rarely unable to clean his plate, could not down more than six or seven bites. And what's worse, the bread was also a flop (a cardinal sin in Clay's book). My hopes were dashed and I was left with a pot full of Lord knows what, which I kept in the refrigerator for a week in an attempt to salvage my pride. I later threw it out.

However, I wasn't going to let that stop me. The next morning, I decided that I would wake up early and make blueberry muffins for my husband before he went to work (previously I had remained in bed like a slug, only rolling over once to mumble a sleepy goodbye). He had been slaving over all those numbers and I owed it to him to make him a hot breakfast. So I mixed the batter together, poured it into our mini muffin pan then popped it in the oven to bake, timing it so that Clay could have fresh, hot muffins as he stepped out of the shower. After a few minutes, a very strong artificial blueberry smell began overtaking our small apartment so I went to check on this delightful breakfast I was preparing. As soon as I opened the oven door, a cloud of smoke billowed out into the room, triggering the smoke detector. I frantically searched for something to fan the detector with, slamming the oven door in the process (and leaving the burning muffins there to burn) as well as making a terrible racket which I'm sure the neighbors appreciated. Clay, of course, was alarmed by the din and poked his head out of the shower with a worried, "Is everything okay, honey?" (He later told me he had pictured massive flames licking the ceiling, an obstacle he would have to dodge in order to make it out of our apartment alive and only wearing a towel.) Needless to say, he didn't eat the muffins.

Still my reserve grew stronger. The following week, I decided that, in honor of my husband's birthday, I would make the bread pudding he'd been talking about for months - from scratch, bread and all. I cracked open my cookbook, made a list of ingredients, and set off to the store. I returned home with confidence and began preparing my sourdough starter, which I let set out for 24 hours as detailed on page 32 of the Perini Ranch Cookbook. The next morning, I combined the starter, flour, baking soda, and water, then let it set out to rise (along with my spirits - I'm really getting this! I thought). It wasn't until the following day when I pulled the towel off the bowl that I realized something was terribly amiss. An acrid smell was coming from the bowl, and where the dough mixture had previously been, the kitchen goblins had placed a tough crusted layer covering some incredibly sickening sticky goo. Although I was more than happy to discard of this strange concoction, I was crushed to see it bagged up and tossed in the dumpster.

Now this desperate housewife prefers to stick to the pre-packaged frozen dinners and "just add water" meals until this culinary thunderstorm blows over.

19 June 2006

Changing the World One Brassiere at a Time

I remember going to the mall as a middle schooler, driven by the freshly-earned babysitting money burning in my pocket and seventeen magazine's latest article on smiley face shirts and patterned Doc Martens. The mall presented so many options appealingly showcased behind each store's spotlighted front windows - except for one. Victoria's Secret.
I always averted my eyes when walking by that store lest a fellow mall-goer notice my longing looks at the pink lacy panties and scandalous black brassieres displayed in the window. Somehow I felt dirty just walking past the store (never mind that I was clueless as to the purposes of almost all of the garments in that store). I was incredulous that people would actually shop there, and those who were bold enough to do so must surely be prostitutes. Who else would wear such provocative underpants? Surely not I.

It's funny how things change. My unmentionables are now purchased strictly from Victoria's Secret (thank you, lingerie shower!) and what's worse, I am now an employee of this God forsaken store. Yesterday was my first day.

After watching almost two hours of training videos on how to measure a bra and the infinite number of styles Victoria has to offer, I was finally unleashed on the customers and instructed to fine-tune my bra measuring skills. (As if measuring someone's chest wasn't awkward enough, the uncertainty of a first day on the job makes it almost terrifying!) While waiting for further instructions from our co-manager, a client came up to me and asked if she could have a bra fitting. Maintaining my composure, I asked her to follow me to the dressing room area where I proceeded to measure, albeit flusteredly, her chest. When I pronounced her a 38C, she exclaimed, "YES! Yes, yessss!" while jumping up and down. Apparently it was better (and smaller) than the verdict of her previous measurement.
As I sent her into the fitting room with a box of 38C bras to try on, I realized that this job is not just about sexy little underthings to make your husband/ boyfriend/ lover (I won't go into the moral rammifications of the latter two) go crazy, but to make women feel good about themselves. According to my Victoria's Secret training booklet, over 75 percent of women wear the wrong bra size. Here, I realized, is an opportunity for me to help the endowment of the world (or at least of North Richland Hills) to find great support that looks spectacular and makes women feel spectacular too. Although I'm sure Royce Money would cringe if he knew I was working for Victoria's Secret, I am satisfied with the knowledge that I am changing the world - one brassiere at a time.

14 June 2006

Insert Foot Here (In Mouth)

I remember scoffing when the blogging fad began several years ago. Who would actually post their inmost thoughts and feelings on the World Wide Web to be jeered at by all of mankind? I thought to myself. It's really ridiculous. I would never do that. Ever.
But ladies and gentlemen, here I am making the very first post on my very first blog.

It seems that I've been eating my words a lot lately, and whether that's the nature of newlywed-dom, I'll never know. Every time I turn around, I am presented with yet another example of why I should keep my big mouth shut (or keep my foot in it, just to save me the trouble). My wonderful husband Clay is so wise (and so correct 99.9% of the time), and I appreciate the ways he is patient with my ignorance and overconfidence. Humility is a virtue I'm learning these days, as well as the importance of keeping my feet clean should the need arise to stuff one quickly into my mouth.

Although I do find myself wishing I'd kept my thoughts to myself on an alarmingly regular basis, more often than not, I'm just doing something stupid. Of course, I'd like to say that this doesn't happen daily...but that would be grossly misleading.
For example, I went on an outing to the Texas Department of Public Safety late Monday morning to get a Texas driver's license with my shiny new married name. The directions my sweet husband had written out for me weren't quite specific enough and I missed the exit, a navigational error which always frazzles me for the next 20 minutes I'm in operation of that motor vehicle. I had enough presence of mind to turn around with the hopes that I would not miss the exit, and, of course, it presented itself shortly. The helpful green signs were directing me down the access road to the Department of Public Safety - or so I thought. As I whizzed past the building clearly marked DPS, I realized my mistake and decided I still had enough time to make the turn. Tires squealed as I slammed on the brakes and skidded into the parking lot, garnering the attention of all 25 people hurrying to their cars to escape my driving antics. I felt like several DPS officers would descend upon my car momentarily, taking away my out-of-state license and refusing to give me a new one because, clearly, I was a threat to the public safety. Fortunately, no such officers appeared and I am the proud owner of a temporary Texas license (which is almost as cool). But you've got to admit, it was a pretty close call.