Saturday, March 22, 2014

Not That Kind of Doctor

I have a small readership.  I get it.  I'm aware of it.  It doesn't bother me. (Much.)

And it makes sense.  This blog isn't going to give you helpful fashion tips or good original recipes or fun DIY projects; it won't change your life or make it easier, more enriched, or more productive.  Sorry, but it won't.  I'm useless.  Now go away.

Kidding.  Please don't ever leave me.

Anyways, for these reasons, I always feel a bit awkward using this blog to make announcements that aren't really announcements because everyone I know and therefore everyone who reads this blog, is already aware of them.

So I guess this one's for you, secret reader, who I pretend exists and obsessively checks my blog on the daily to see if I've posted anything (just like I do for a few rando blogs of people I don't know because I follow TLC's advice in all things and "just creep").  Today's outdated 90's pop culture reference was brought to you by Lazer Discs.

Okay.  Officially off topic.  Get it together Kozak.

I'm getting.

This past Wednesday, March 19th, in the Year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen, sorry...stopping now...Moses Quinn Wilks, my partner of almost a decade, successfully completed the oral defense of his dissertation.  Although, he will not officially be "that kind of doctor" until he files his dissertation in June, the most stressful part of this process is over.

And Moses deserves like fifty glasses of whiskey, 100 blog post dedications, and a standing ovation because and believe me when I say this--and I would know, I was there for the public portion--homeboy tore. it. up.

Even though I only understood about 4% of it (a generous statistic), he was able to make that 4% of his incredibly complex, esoteric research accessible (and 100% interesting) to a total and I mean TOTAL layperson to his discipline.

And as a rule I try not to participate in any SMDA (or social media displays of affection) but I'm going to break that here and I am going to break it hard.

Because watching Moses give his presentation, looking so dapper in his suit and tie, was truly one of the proudest moments of my life.

I know I can take approximately zero credit for Moses being as talented and as brilliant as he is but I know how hard he has worked these past seven years and how much he has sacrificed; to witness the culmination of those efforts was at once both gratifying and venerable.  And I felt pretty emotional about it all.  Of course I feel pretty emotional about the coffee I just spilled on our end table, so I guess that's not saying much...

It's just that I feel so fortunate to have a partner that I admire so much.  Maybe everyone feels that way about their partner but to me, it really feels like privilege.

So congratulations, Moses.  You are now my favorite doctor.  (Sorry Genny, House, and McCoy.  You're now my second, third, and fourth respectively.)

Now Dr. Wilks, let's get a dog.

The man of the hour, captured in a grainy iPhone picture...


Told you I was there. #inappropriateselfieatyourboyfriend'sdefense

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Missing Mail

I know. Postal intrigue is my favorite too.

So.  It was business as usual last week at chez Wilks et Kozak:

Me: work, home, exercise, dishes, dinner, dishes (ugh subscribe to more traditional gender roles why don't you?  Why thank you, I will...).

Moses: research, research, research, editing research, video games, research.

Friday rolled around and I shuffled home from work around 6PM to wearily turn the key to an empty mail box.  And then suddenly, it dawned on me: we hadn't gotten a single piece of mail that week.  Not even so much as a penny saver or a tri-colored take-out menu from Wacky Wok (best Chinese Food nowhere--obviously their official slogan).  It seemed strange but then again, how often did we really get mail?  Did we normally receive something everyday?  Had Moses just been secretly practicing good boyfriend behavior by making my life easier and clearing out all the junk before I got home?  Dubious...

I stood there and pondered for a good ten seconds before I remembered I had a friend coming over in an hour and still had to clean my entire apartment and make dinner.  So out that thought went until Sunday night, a time I reserve for unleashing some of my less adorable neuroses in anticipation of the start of another week.

How is it possible that we received no mail?  What about our water bill?  What about my upgraded credit card? What about that endless stream of Bed Bath and Beyond 20% coupons addressed to Yolando Lopez or Current Resident?  When was the last time I even remember getting mail?  Was it last Thursday or last Tuesday? That one package was delivered without incident, does that count?

By Monday morning, despite all my efforts to be rational, it turned into a full blown thing.  The inside of my mind was beginning to resemble this:

With a conspiracy theory that went all the way to the top.  Of course!  It had to be Obama...

But seriously, I was starting to get a little bit concerned.  Sure most of bills we receive aren't surprises and if someone really needed to contact us they could use the phone or email but still.  What if we received a bill that we weren't expecting and what if I wanted my 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon to add to my collection? (I was two away from having a complete set!)  We're not so entrenched in the digital age that mail has been rendered entirely obsolete.

So after letting my brain run a little wild on the car ride into work, I broke down and did something that no one the least bit inclined to anxiety ever should: I googled my symptoms.

Big mistake.

Because now, on top of worrying about the mail I wasn't getting, I was now worrying about all of the criminals trying to keep it from me.  Or the "cancer," if you will, to any foray into self diagnosis on
wedmb.  (A website that begs the immortal question: do you have a cold or are you actually seconds away from death?)

For example, did you know that someone can fraudulently file a change of address form without your knowledge?  Apparently the US postal service doesn't always require (or diligently check) your proof of ID.

Or maybe you have a serial killer stalker stealing your mail; the better they get to know you and your habits, the faster they can abduct you and fashion you into a lampshade.

Or maybe your letters are getting purloined for some good old fashion blackmailing purposes.

I so wish that at this point in the story, I could type something encouraging like: "and then I came to my senses and figured that everything was probably."


And then, I took an early lunch to drive down to the post-office to get to the bottom of this.  I needed to know exactly what I was up against--the extent of the criminal activity of which I was the unwitting victim. Because I was missing a week's worth of mail, goddamn it! And some foul play was definitely afoot...

I arrived at the post office at 11:25AM.  Good.  I narrowly beaten the lunch hour rush.  There was even a post office employee attempting to expedite the wait by going through the line and assisting customers with some of the more minor tasks like picking up packages and purchasing stamps.

She gets to me: "And what brings you here today, miss?"

I hedge. I probably shouldn't launch into the whole mail stealing serial killer hypothesis.

So I tell her I haven't receive any mail in "quite while" because clearly if I told her it had only been a week, I would have seemed hysterical.

She asked me where I lived and when she heard it was an apartment, she told me it was relatively common (?!) for the post office's copies of the mail box keys to get lost or broken.

I blinked.  Oh good.  At least I didn't overreact.


She then went into the back room to see if there was any mail for me and brought back a layered, heavily rubberbanded stack of letters.  I left the post office feeling a little bit like the wedding guest at the end of "the Rime of the Ancient Mariner": "a sadder and a wiser man."

I took the stack back to my apartment and began to unbind it when I realized: this is not just my mail.  This is the mail for everyone on my floor...

So I spent the rest of my lunch break sorting my neighbors mail and feeling unnerved by the fact that the post office employee had handed this to me without so much as glancing at my ID.  I could have been anyone. Well anyone who knows my first name, last name, and address but still.  I also could have been a total jag who picked out my letters from the heap and just chucked the rest.  What was stopping me?  I don't know my neighbors; I'm not a post-office employee.  

But no.  Half relieved, half resentful for the responsibility that had be thrust upon me, I sorted the mail in neat piles, rubber banded them back together by apartment number, stacked them nicely near the appropriate mail boxes and labeled them clearly with neon post-its.  Overachiever, thy name is Wendy.

And that was how I solved the mystery of the missing mail.  Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of the Case of the Missing Pair of Headphones That I Think I Might Have Left On the Plane to San Francisco, in which I will accuse the Lizard People.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Monday Soliloquy (or some such nonsense)

Because things have been so stressful the way have I mentioned how things have been stressful? Because things have been stressful!  I'm not sure the past nine blogs posts devoted to documenting my varying degrees of stress have adequately conveyed this...


Because things have been so stressful recently, my weekends have turned into these lazy and morose forty-eight hour long veg sessions where I drink entire pots of coffee, stay pretty much perpetually jammied, watch whatever whale documentaries I can find on Netflix, and think about what I used to be...

...kidding.  Well, somewhat.

I know I am always joshing about lying around and watching endless amounts of trashy t.v. but in actuality, reader, that accounts for less than 10% of my behavior.  Because I am a doer; I am a get up and go type of person and ever since I've had a job that has allowed for a weekend (the philosophical concept of one, if not for the actual thing itself), my weekends have been a sacred time of doing.  I'm not just talking about running errands; I mean daytripping, hiking, biking, swimming, running, playing, eating, and plenty of other gerunds, I'm sure.

So this weekend, as I settled into my third cup of coffee and my fourth episode of Sex and the City, I watched the sunlight steadily creep into my living room, first catching a toe, then an ankle and I felt the warm breeze waft in from the open balcony window and then, suddenly, I was overcome by a powerful realization: my time in Los Angeles is waning.

I won't always live a short mile from the ocean.  I won't always have an 80 degree Sunday afternoon in March to enjoy.

So I got up, grabbed my bike, and was out the door in 10 minutes.

I biked down Venice Blvd to Venice beach and took the bike path along the coast to Santa Monica.  (And before you say anything, I am fully aware that that last sentence made me sound like a character from SNL's the Californians.)

It was a lovely ride.

It made think a lot about the life I've lived here.

It made me have a lot of feelings.

But, to be fair, I always have a lot of feelings.

Perhaps most vitally though, it made me vow how I would use whatever remaining time I do have here (how long that is, I have no idea). I decided that each weekend, no matter how exhausted I am, I will get out and do at least one pleasant, non-errand related thing.  Because a month from now, a year from now, I don't want to regret not having done so.  And I know I will.

I'm not one of those people who says "live with no regrets" because I think regret is inevitable, even healthy in some cases; it means that you are being honest with yourself about your experiences.  If your life is one of no regret, it's one of no introspection.  So much of personal evolution stems from owning up to your failures, no matter how small or how great.

But this particular type of regret--of choosing idleness over adventure--is so avoidable.

So I am choosing evade this regret, since it's one of the few kinds I can evade.

And I am choosing to fight the inertia.

And I am choosing to ascribe a lot of meaning to this otherwise insignificant Sunday bike ride because--in case this wasn't sufficiently established--I have a lot of feelings.

P.S. If you want to submit this post on my behalf to a Chicken Soup For the Soul-esque collection of self-helpery and pseudo-philosophizing, I will allow it provided that I am appropriately compensated.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

And she blogged...

Hello and welcome to my entirely unblogworthy life.

Let me tell you about how last night I cleaned my apartment, made some bland risotto (courtesy of the New York Times, bunch of saltless commie bastards), drank some red wine, and watched the Lifetime Original Movie Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, starring Christina Ricci, quickly followed by a History Channel documentary about Lizzie Borden I found on You Tube, which judging from the blush to cheek ratio on some of the female historians seemed to be made sometime in the early 90's.

And that was the most exciting thing that happened all week.

I wish I had the talent as a writer to make the most mundane things appear compelling.  But, when glancing back at the past seven days to see a succession of late nights at the office, reruns of 30 Rock, dentist appointments, gray mornings spent scouring my mostly dark and fall colored wardrobe for spring pastels (only to discover that every light colored thing I own, somewhere on its person, bears a coffee stain--the official seal of a chronic spiller) and generally feeling stressed and overwhelmed with life...

...nope, I got nothing.

How about this?  

Headline maker? More like meatloaf baker.  Wry wielding wordsmith Wendy completes first poem in four months and celebrates by making pinterested turkey meatloaf recipe and purchasing box of hazelnut granola.

[sound of crickets and tumbleweed blows across computer screen]

Yeah.  That's what I thought.

Anyways, with all the non-bloggable things going on recently, there have been a few things keeping me relatively sane.

This is one of them.

My sunlit kitchen

70 degrees and sunny.  How many hours do you think I can stay inside watching old episodes of Pregnant in Heels before I begin to hate myself for not being out and enjoying that?  I'll give you a hint: too many.

This is another:

It's a podcast called How Did This Get Made, in which comedians Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer (both of whom you would recognize from Parks and Recreations), and June Diane Raphael (who's in Party Down and New Girl) analyze terrible movies like Congo, Fair Game, the Room, The Wicker Man, etc. Reader, there is something you need to know about me: there are few greater pleasures for me than making fun of a bad movie.  It's the reason I love Rifftrax and Mystery Science Theater so much.  It's just so incredibly satisfying.  Recently Moses and I have been listening to these together before going to bed and I've been falling asleep in the best mood.  Of course, I still wake up a meaner and uglier version of Ursula from Little Mermaid but that will always be the case because--now, brace yourself for this shock--I am not a morning person.

Me. want. coffee.
And I know I said I would never be one of those people who enjoy working out--and I'm not--but I really enjoy using the Fitness Blender website.  They have variety of different workouts for FREE (?!), that are challenging, have a helpful countdown in the upper right hand side of the screen for each move (so you can stare at that, willing it to move lower instead of just internally counting down and praying for death), and also give you a range of approximately the number of calories you will burn doing each workout, which is super helpful for me, since I don't own a heart rate monitor.  I will usually select the higher calorie burn workouts because when it comes to working out, I don't mess around; I want to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest amount of time because every second spent working out is a second not spent doing literally anything else.

I know I probably should invest in a heart rate monitor but they are like $60-$100 and I would rather spend that money on shoes.  I unfortunately was not smart enough to remember to ask for it for Christmas, which is when I usually like to request items that I really don't want to purchase myself: like a potato masher or allergy medication.

And I know this doesn't have anything to do with anything but I came to the realization recently that my hair grows incredibly fast, which is perhaps one of the saddest realizations of my adult life.  I can't believe it took me this long to recognize it.  On a related to note to that note that had nothing to do with the one that came before it, I must leave you now reader, because my eye brows have now become a situation that needs to be dealt with.

Incidentally, my dad once asked me why I plucked my eyebrows and I paused and told him that if I didn't I would look like this:

I only wish I were kidding.

Oh my god, this post will not end. Why won't it end!?

Okay, I think that is an appropriately weird ending to an otherwise entirely useless post.

I'm so glad I decided to blog today.

(I bet you are too.)

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Portrait of the Consumer as a Young(ish) Lady

I just returned from a four day trip to Seattle for the AWP conference--don't click away!  I promise I won't test your attention span by recounting every moment of my waiting in airport security lines or my watching of trashy television while lying in a hotel bed with a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate.  Spoiler alert.  There was a lot of that.

It's really good to be home.

Don't get me wrong, it was a delightful trip and everything but my life has been so disrupted recently by illness, work, events, and travel that going grocery shopping and running my usual Sunday errands yesterday felt like the biggest treat. Ever.  I guess from here it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to middle age.  And then death.

I'm sure if you shifted through the archives of this blog--because why wouldn't you?--you would find some post complaining about the dullness of routine. Well I take it all back to tune of Joni Mitchell and vow I will never feel that way again.   At least until a month or two from now when I will ask you to do the same thing for this post.

Oh human nature, you incorrigible thing, you.

Anyways, onto today's topic: march madness.

Just kidding.  I would rather watch a Mary Kate and Ashley marathon (or some other thing that I would probably enjoy less) than talk about sports.

I don't know what it is about spring, because we're in spring now, right?  But all I sort of want to do is buy things.  I know what you're thinking: gee Wendy, how is that different than any other time if your life?  Well. You got me there.  It probably isn't but stop being such a naysayer and get on board with me already.  Also, naysaying falls under my jurisdiction, so don't go there.

Unfortunately/Fortunately/Who knows, in an effort to be more fiscally responsible, I've put myself on a pretty tight budget that has approximately zero lettuce (ugh, hate that term, why am I using it?) devoted to non-essentials.  So much of my (albeit little) free time these days has been spent pruning epic wishlists.

Here for your viewing pleasure are items from all categories:

1. Vitafusion Women's Gummy Vitamins

Okay, so I actually did break down and buy this. It's for my health so I've reclassified it from superfluous to indispensable.

My multivitamin consumption has recently sputtered to halt after a few run ins with Mr. Toilet following my usual morning dosage.  I am not sure if it's because I wasn't eating enough or if the ones I was taking weren't a good fit with my digestive system but nausea and vomiting are not two things that I particularly enjoy experiencing, especially in the workplace.

I really wanted to get back into the habit of taking multivitamins, I had heard good things about Vitafusion, and I find it difficult to believe that sweet little gummies could make anyone ill.  Unfortunately, a bottle of 150 chewies goes for about $12 a pop at Target, which dangerously approximates my self-imposed spending limit for any one item.

Still, health first.  So I decided, why not, and picked up a bottle yesterday while out running my errands.  

I took two this morning along with a samoa.  So, clearly, I am now the picture of good health.

2. ...speaking of samoas...Every Girl Scout Cookie Ever

These I have also already purchased through a friend's niece at work.  Alas, they have not come in yet so yesterday, while at Trader Joe's, I bought a box of samoas.  Never mind that I have a samoa recipe that I have been dying to try out.  Oh well, maybe after girl scout cookie season, when I am craving these cookies that really aren't that great but somehow are that great.  Someone write a paper about this phenomenon and explain it to me. Sincerely, Wendy Kozak.

3.  Shoes, shoes, and more shoes

So I know that I am beginning each one of these with an "I already bought this but..." which seems to negate my earlier statement about my frugal lifestyle, BUT I had a coupon for American Eagle and these clogs were whispering my name.

Loudly.  So I gave in.  And they turned out to be the most comfortable shoe ever, so I have given myself permission to feel really smug and not at all guilty about this purchase.

But now...

These boots (also from American Eagle) are whispering my name and they're on clearance, and there are only a few sizes left but one of them happens to be my size, which almost never happens and GAH!  What do I do?  And before you say anything, not blogging about it is not an option...

Also, I've had my eyes on these for a while on modcloth...

...and now these from gap.

...but maybe we shouldn't go there.

4. Handbags(?)

I am not a handbag person.  I know some people are really into that but I've never been.  I'm a one purse at a time kind of gal.  My current purse is from Urban Outfitters and was a steal at $15 (marked down from $50), so it not only serves a symbol for my trifty triumphs but it meets my bag needs splendidly; as in, it has plenty of pockets, is big enough to hold a book but not big enough to hold a computer, which is where I think a purse stops being a purse and becomes a briefcase/suitcase/piece of luggage.  And that is where I draw the line.

Traditionally, I will only buy a new handbag when my current handbag is falling apart and my current handbag is still kicking and serving me well. But recently, this little number caught my eye...

It's from Forever 21 and is only $20.  I know, Forever 21 is not exactly known for its quality but I love the color and the print inside of the bag--which is strangely something I care deeply about--and I hate myself for saying this, but I love the size.  Even though it looks like it might be able to snugly fit a laptop.

5.  Kimono

These must be in or something because over the last few months it seems like they are everywhere and I love them.

Here are some of my favorites (most of which are from Forever--don't judge me--but there are also some Free People and Urban Outfitters sprinkled in there as well):

Heart. Be. Still.

But moving on...

6. Art Prints

So I am not so entirely shallow as to only fantasize about buying clothing and accessories.  Although, the jury may still be on that...  Perhaps it comes from working at an art college and looking at art all day long, but I think if I really had a lot of disposable income, some of it would go towards buying the above items but most of it would go towards buying art.

It's safe to say that I am a pretty aesthetically driven person.  I struggle almost daily with whether or not this is a good thing.  But the fact of the matter is that I like things that are pretty: clothes, people, accessories, spaces, art, etc.

I recently did a decor overhaul on our apartment and I am pleased with all of the art that is now hanging but we honestly don't have enough wall space for the amount of art--particularly illustration work--I would like to buy.

If you've ever even glanced at my art pinterest wall, a lot of these will be familiar to you:

Most of these prints can be found on artwork sharing websites like Society 6 (which I have mentioned before) or on the Jealous Curator blog (which I have also mentioned before).  They deserve mention again because they are awesome.  If this were the 18th century and I were an art patron, the work on these two sites is what I would commission, with vague direction like: make me something that appeals precisely to my taste.  Go.

All right. I think I've given your eyeballs enough exercise for today.  Now go, my readers, and search out blogs of more substance.  Like Kate's, whose most recent post made me weep.  Just a little.  (Okay, a lot.)

But before you go, I leave you with just one last image:

A recent selfie.  I promise I will wear a shirt next time.