Monthly Archives: March 2015

I hate grocery shopping, so of course I have to do it two days in a row

A few years back my wife started recording our weekly grocery bill. I don’t know why. We’re not living check to check, so that’s not it. We absolutely never eat out, so it’s not a comparison sort of thing. Eating out is something we only do once or twice a year, so that’s not it. She was just curious, and before long I was following along as well, watching the bill’s weekly highs and lows and comparing them to the previous months and now previous years.

It’s the kind of pointless, low-cost entertainment one turns too when they don’t have children or a reliable way to watch Netflix, I guess.

As you might know, I normally get tricked, cajoled or forced at gun point to come along on these weekend shopping trips, but what you don’t know is that I will volunteer to do absolutely anything while she stalks the produce aisle in search of the perfect leek or eggplant.

This here is a perfect leek. If we bought this leek, we'd never have to buy a leek again. I may just steal the leek from this guy. I think I can take him.

This here is a perfect leek. If we bought this leek, we’d never have to buy a leek again. I may just steal the leek from this guy. I think I can take him.

Need the recycling turned in? I’m your man if it gets me out of grocery shopping. Need to return an purchased a year ago and never opened even though you’ve long ago lost the receipt? Sounds like more fun than debating the pros and cons of various vegetable stock. Hell, if you need a ring tossed into the fires of Mount Doom I’d rather do that than smell and decide on which new bathroom hand soap is the best.

Frodo, saddle up, but first tell Gollum I’m badly hungover and he needs to shut the fuck up already. Hey, stop bitching, at least we’re not at the grocery store.

That said, I normally arrive back at the grocery store shortly before check out. I can tell from things in the cart approximately what the damage is going to be. Was it a heavy meat week? Well that’s going to cost us. If however we’re eating lentil soup (gross by the way) for lunch this week the bill will be lighter.

Basically, I’m a primary factor in how much the bills is going to be. If left unchallenged my diet would consist of Frosted Flakes, steak, potatoes and a crap ton of bacon. My wife on the other hand has threatened/enthusiastically volunteered to subsist on nothing but rice and beans for a month. I say threatened because this is her go-to statement when I spend too much money on beer, strippers or remote controlled quad choppers drunkenly purchased during late night Amazon binges. I say enthusiastically volunteered because I think she secretly hopes I’ll agree with this idea. Only the threat of my flatulence after three weeks of a rice and bean subsistence keeps her from actually following through with this plan.

I’ve also come to understand that when I’m gone for a few weeks on business the bill is dramatically less. So much so that she’s been known to skip the grocery shopping altogether. I suspect that shocking amounts of rice and beans are consumed during these periods, but cannot confirm such.

Having just returned from three weeks away, my wife and I went to the grocery store Saturday morning. I, as usual, ran some recycling to the recycling center and returned a cat toy that wasn’t particularly expensive or, I guess, interesting to the ca. I returned to the grocery store just in time to find my wife about to hit the checkout lane.

It was a banner trip to be sure. Our bill not only broke all previous grocery shopping trip records, it destroyed all previous records. It was approximately 80 percent higher than the previous record. I say approximately because — math. I have no idea how much, percentage-wise, higher it was, but it was a lot higher. The previous record was $140 and this Saturday’s purchase came in at $230. Basically, it blew the old record out of the water and onto land making it the king of the grocery-cost-list ocean by a long shot. (It is a 64.28571428571429 percent  increase, according to this handy calculator because Google ~Fran)

As I said, I’d been gone for three weeks and she really hadn’t been shopping while I was out. There was also a lot of meat, cleaning supplies and candy that we both plan on torturing our coworkers with so yeah, the bill was going to be high. And, like I said earlier, we’re keeping the record of our weekly bill because a real hobby would require effort and energy.

This is a Shakespearean-trained actress reenacting Dagmar's amusement at the high grocery bill.

This is a Shakespearean-trained actress reenacting Dagmar’s amusement at the high grocery bill.

We both laughed about it, discussed why it was so high and had forgotten about it by the time the groceries were loaded into the car.

I do recall that it took slightly longer than normal to unload the groceries though. It was a lot of stuff to be honest.

Cut to the next morning: I tend to wake up before my wife does when we are both allowed to sleep as late as we want. I get up, make the coffee, scratch where it itches and contemplate what it was I posted on Facebook after 15 beers the night before that has everyone so mad. You know, quality alone time.

Dagmar was up an hour or so later. I offered her a cup of coffee and we started to discuss the day’s events. Though I was never informed previously it turned out that I was going to spend my Sunday cleaning out the garage. Not a horrible fate, I like it in there. That’s where my beer fridge is after all.

Then she dropped the bombshell. She wanted to know if I could run to the grocery store again, to pick up some chicken. I agreed and trudged into the shower. I contemplated how, after running up a gargantuan (by our standards) $230 grocery bill for two people, how I could possibly have to go back there for more stuff the very next day? How is that possible? It seemed impossible, but here I was putting on pants and looking for my wallet.

When I went back downstairs the simple one-item shopping list had grown to seven items.

Incredible. Just incredible. I’ll be in the garage contemplating just how much I don’t know about running a household.

GUEST BLOG: One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Head

On Monday night I was driving to Fayetteville, N.C. to deliver my boyfriend’s work computer to him. He’d brought it with him for his weekend visit and neglected to take it home when he left at 4:30 a.m. that morning.

Fayetteville is a two-hour drive from Wilmington and on some of the roads the speeds drop to 35. At the moment of impact, however, I was topped out at 65.

There I am, about 6 p.m., an hour into my journey. I’m listening RISK!, a storytelling podcast. Some dude it talking about growing up in the city and how the kids in his neighborhood used to play in medical waste tossed into a dumpster behind the clinic.

The story teller was reminiscing about climbing in the trash to retrieve what they called “needle darts,” when

BAM!

Something bigger than a pebble, but smaller than a breadbox, hit the partially open window and window frame, then slammed into the left side of my head just above my ear.

“What the fuck!”

Instinctively, I shot forward in my seat. I was practically hugging the steering wheel as I slowed down and pulled the car onto the shoulder.

Tiny feathers were floating around inside the car.

This bird is a more "tradtional" bird death scene. Very different from what I had going on.

This is a more “traditional” bird death scene. Very different from what I had going on.

I sat frozen for a moment and took inventory. There was blood on my shoulder and blood on my upper left chest. There were feathers and blood stuck to the window frame. With every movement I made, little tufts of feathers wafted about. Fortunately, the window was intact.

I hopped out and sheepishly looked into the car. There on the driver’s seat was a dead headless bird. After thudding me good, the bird’s head popped off and its body fell between my back and the seat back, I surmised. Sick!

If I didn’t have a long shirt on it would have fallen into the back of my pants.

I muttered WTF a few dozen more times as I contemplated my options.

How the hell am I going to get this bird out? I sure as hell ain’t touching it. Should I just keep this shirt on and finish the drive? What’s in my overnight bag? I don’t want to put on my work shirt for Tuesday morning because I don’t want bird guts on that.

Oh right! I have pajamas.

Now, whenever I’m not at work or out socializing, I’m in “pajamas.” But my pajamas generally consist of super-sized sweatpants and sweatshirts. That ensemble is easily worn in public in case I need to make a quick trip to the store. Recently, however, I’d decided to treat myself to actual pajamas. So I had a real honest-to-goodness pajama shirt.

Had this been my pajama top I probably would not have been driving because I would not be getting laid any time soon.

Had this been my pajama top I probably wouldn’t have been driving on the night in question because I would have been a spinster with cats.

Fuck it, I’ll just put that on, I thought to myself. I popped the trunk, and after three cars passed and no more were coming, I whipped off my blouse and put on my pajama shirt.

Now to deal with the bird…

Look, I’m not the least bit squeamish EXCEPT when it comes to animals. I’d already glanced at the headless bird carcass so I was not looking forward to examining it up-close-and-personal. But I had to get it out of the car! If the bird had ended up anywhere else, I probably would have left it and finished the drive. Tim would have had to remove the body. But in this case that wasn’t an option. The bird was in my seat. Son of a bitch!

I considered using my tripod to flick it out, but quickly dismissed that idea because it would take too much maneuvering. It would have been like moving a soft ball with a pencil. I would have had to keep readjusting the tripod to effectively get the bird out. That would entail needing to actually look at it to get the job done.

Then I spotted a dust broom I kept in the trunk. Perfect! It was wide enough.

I climbed in the backseat, and with my view hidden by the seat back, I reach around and took some blind swats at the driver’s seat. The bird corpse unceremoniously plopped out of the seat and landed on the motherflipping goddamned door frame.

I recommend everyone keep one of these in their car. I use it for all sorts of things: snow, sand, dusting, dead bird evicting.

I recommend everyone keep one of these in their car. I use it for all sorts of things: snow, sand, dusting, dead bird evicting.

You’ve got be kidding me! The bird had already defied odds by flying into a 4-inch-wide window opening at 65+ miles an hour, now the effing thing lands perfectly on a 2-inch-wide ledge? I’m going to have to actually walk up and look at this thing. And to top it off, even when I finally get the body out, its fucking head will still be somewhere in this car! I had another hour’s drive to my destination, so the thought of a bird head as a passenger was mighty creepy. Ater a half-hearted glance in the back seat, I drew the line at scouring the car to find its fucking head.

I mustered up my courage and skulked up to the casualty. As I groan the international word for GROSS, “Eeeeeeeee,” I give the body another swat. It flies (pun intended) into the road.

Upon landing, the head appears. It was only tucked underneath.

For the remainder of my ride I did not touch the door because I was unsure if it had gore on it. I also didn’t touch the side of my head which I imagined was covered in bird brains (Spoiler alert: It was not). And anytime I had my window cracked I could see in my peripheral vision the bird feathers stuck to the frame flapping in the breeze.

How was your Monday night?

~Fran

On the road again with a caffeine-scrambled brain

It’s just after midnight, but the conductor on the sleepy train isn’t making any stops in this hotel room anytime soon. I’m wired from too many coffees and too many Red Bulls. Plus, the cramp in my from the death grip I had on my steering wheel as I navigated many German autobahn miles at 100 mph isn’t helping.

And all of this is OK.

I have a stash of beer chilling in the mini-fridge and, for once, I’m staying at a military hotel so there will be coffee brewed in my room to help dust off my sleep deprived eyes in the morning. Normally when I travel, I stay in European hotels where they don’t have coffee available in the room and I have to venture out for coffee.

I now know you have to at least put on pants before you head to the hotel breakfast lounge. Accustomed as I am to drinking coffee in just my boxers at home, this is a no-no at most hotels, European or otherwise.

The next two or three days are bound to be full of adventure, excitement and intrigue that would make absolutely no one envious. It’ll be endless hacking on PowerPoint slide decks and Excel spreadsheets. Someone, at least once, will mention someone else’s slide “methodology” with a sneer. I guarantee it.

I don't have a lot of photo ideas for this blog so go with what you know. Also hey, boobs!

I don’t have a lot of photo ideas for this blog so go with what you know. Also hey, boobs!

But on the bright side, there will be fighting between staff sections and project officers about who didn’t do what, which responsibility belonged to which group,  and, with a bit of luck, an orgy of physical violence culminating in a knife fight between the last two surviving briefers while our commanding general, like a Roman Emperor, decides the loser’s fate.

I personally feel his or her PowerPoint skills should decide that fate, but that’s beside the point.

This will never happen of course — the orgy of violence with the epic last-man standing knife fight, I mean — but hope springs eternal.

Looking over the past few blog entries, scarce as they may be, I see I’m in danger of turning Had A Few Beers into some sort of weird combination of funny-wife stories, bitching about travel stories and drunken rants that somehow survive my hung-over eye the morning after they’re been vomited into a Microsoft Word document.

Which I suppose is as good a direction as I could’ve ever come up with for the blog through. When I started this shit my thought process (if it can be called a “process”) is surmised best as, “I’ll just write a bunch of shit. How hard can this be? If it was hard they wouldn’t call it blogging for fuck’s sake.”

And that’s not entirely incorrect. I don’t know who “they” are, but if they chose the word “blog” to describe whatever the fuck this is, I think we’ve earned the right to question their decision-making processes. Just saying.

So here we, or at least I, am. Four-hundred-and-forty-seven words into this with an intro about an orgy of violence, knife-fighting, frayed nerves, the start of a decent beer buzz and the reluctant departure of caffeine-induced trembles articulated by heart palpitations.

The only thing different I can think to talk about, and talk about I will, is that I’m in an American hotel. Not a American hotel in America, but a hotel run by American’s in Germany for military folks.

I haven’t been in such a hotel since 2012 or so, honestly. It’s sort of refreshing. The door’s made of solid wood and could, I’m sure, withstand a hoard of angry axe-wielding barbarians if it needed too and from a Roman Emperor’s standpoint this is the heart of axe-wielding barbarian territory.

I know it could withstand this because it’s on a spring-closing mechanism and every time I forget that there’s a spring-closing mechanism it slams shut with a boom that jolts every PTSD victim staying here. It already scared the shit of me the first three times it happened.

Also, no old-fashioned metal key here. Nope. Magnetized card entry because ‘Merica. Also, because the reader never reads the card right the first time I swipe it after having a cigarette. Maybe the European old-fashioned key to the room thing isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Because this hotel is American run there are two very delightful things nearby. The first is unheard of in all the European hotel’s I’ve ever stayed in — vending machines! Should I crave a Payday or a Mountain Dew right this very moment friends, I can have that. I just need walk down the hall after panicking a bit because my two-ton door just slammed shut with the force of an early atom bomb detonation.

The other is a warning on the dresser that holds the TV and some box that has a bunch of flashing lights that I swear light up in synch with my heart beats (maybe I do need to try and sleep). The warning says that if I were to overfill the top drawer of this dresser, I’m at risk of tipping the whole thing over.

Actually the sign seems more concerned with the TV then with injury.

Actually the sign seems more concerned with the TV then with injury.

Safety fucking first. I like that. I don’t know what previous travelers have put in these drawers, but rest assured, I will only fill them with cotton, angel wings and warm thoughts. Actually, I feel like I should run some load tests on them. I’ll ask the local gym if I can borrow a set of weights tomorrow night and really find out how much this dresser can handle. You know, in the interest of science and progress.

That’s all I have. That’s all the energy I have for this tonight. It’s sort of fun to write when your brain’s been set to “scramble” sometimes. This might be the worst ending in the world or not, I don’t pretend to know. And at this very moment, I don’t care.