Category Archives: Quirky

Now Presenting, Mrs. Brown

I miss it here. Planning a wedding and starting a new job took me away, and I’m so sorry. Sorry for you, sorry for me. But I’m back, and I don’t see why I can’t get back to the same routine now that I’m more familiar with my job, and even more importantly, MARRIED!!  Yup, no more butchering of my last name, I’m Erica Brown now!

Seriously, I’ve never had my name butchered like this until the day before my wedding. My last name went out with a bang!

I enjoyed every second of my wedding day! For the ceremony, I thought I’d be nervous and bashful at being the center of attention, but once I was up there with Greg, I felt safe, loved, and honestly, I kind of went into tunnel vision. It was just me and him doing our thing. The reception was a blast, and numerous people have told us how much fun they had.  Like genuinely; not in the obligatory polite way.

But seeing as though I abandoned you for this wedding, I thought I’d share some of the reasons why. I love crafting, so I stupidly brilliantly decided to tack on some DIY projects to my wedding planning.

I started with these burlap sacks filled with Autumn Spice flavored coffee for our guests.

We adapted ours from this site.

Cute, huh? Not so cute when you have to string twine through 125 of them! However, I shouldn’t complain, and need to give my mom a special shout-out. We were both supposed to sew the bags, but I decided to catch pneumonia, so she willingly sewed every single one of them all by herself! And the labels? All credit to Greg and his vision of coffee cup stains.

Then I just had to have hanging mason jars down the ceremony aisle. But not just plain jars, no. They had to be wrapped with burlap, and then donned with lacy ribbon. Not to mention the fact that they had to hang, so I quickly became familiar with pliers and wire cutters in order to create a base for the twine to loop through.

This was my test-look with left-over fake flowers from a flower girl basket project (not pictured).

And because I’m a fan of itchy, sore hands and non-stop sneezing, I decided to decorate two strings of lights with my go-to material: burlap (and a more forgiving purple lace and purple fabric).  Thanks, Ambrosia for the awesome idea!  I strung those lights around a big chalkboard, and sat down to write the names of all our guests with chalkboard markers to serve as a seating chart.

Yes, our table numbers were also labeled in binary.

I can’t take credit for this, but an amazing gal with an Etsy shop made this fantastic cake topper for us!

Jenny and Marjorie would be so proud!

And I guess I’ll share a few pics of my new husband and me!

Our first dance. Photo credit to my good friend, Cortney Colbert.

I am so lucky to have this man as my husband!

If you want to see some live-action, my brother made us this awesome wedding video! Our videographer is going to be hard-pressed to beat this:

 

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Why I Should Work With Children

Going on two years of unemployment had me looking for an alternate job opportunity while I waited out this rut in education. I’d been scraping by with a little freelance proofreading and private tutoring, but I needed something a bit more stable so that I could reclaim my self-worth, as well as bring home some decent money to contribute to the life I’m building with Greg. I was beginning to seek out hourly filing jobs in our nearby hospital, when I was called to substitute for a week as a teacher in a child development center (CDC) summer program. One week turned into five weeks, and those weeks turned into landing me an interview for a permanent teaching position within the CDC during the school year. I aced the interview and was offered the position. While it’s only part-time, I figure, it’s better than no-time, and it has a high possibility of becoming a stepping stone to landing a full-time teaching position next Fall. Plus, I’m meant to work with kids; not standing in a back room filing charts.

The moment I knew I had to give up looking into menial part-time jobs and continue to pursue my quest to work in the education field, happened a week ago while subbing at the CDC. Working at a school located a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, we would frequently walk the kids to the beach for a free field trip.  I was doing caboose duty on one of the walks back from the beach. This happens to be one of the most tiring positions, as you have to continually encourage the tired, slower children to “use their quick feet” and “take big, dinosaur steps” in order to keep up with the rest of the group.

When we were within sight of the school, I heard a soft shuffling behind me. I didn’t think much of it until I heard it again.  The thought of a person walking right behind us sent chills up and down my back, so I quickly turned around to face the perpetrator and dare him/her to try and steal one of our children. ‘Cause that’s totally what any person walking in a public neighborhood is planning to do.  In any case, when I turned around, no one was there. Instead, I noticed the sound came from dry leaves sliding across the sidewalk due to the gentle ocean breeze.

This caused my mind to rationally think, “What would I do if zombies were behind us?” The thought made me physically scared, and as I glanced behind me one more time to make sure there really weren’t zombies, I initially decided that I’d push past the kids and get to the safety of the school. I was at the end of the line with the most fatigued kids, so the zombies would be content with them, giving the larger group, and myself, a chance to get inside the school and set up a barricade.

However, as I calmed down, I realized I couldn’t do that. I took a good look at the tired kiddos around me, and just knew that I couldn’t let them die. I imagined myself grabbing the tiny 2nd grader, who was dragging his feet next to me, like a sack of potatoes and running him to safety, all the while shuffling the other kids along.  I recognized that I would rather sacrifice myself than let them get eaten.

I’m not saying all this for praises, or to brag that I’m a saint.  I’m not.  It’s just that this was a moment of clarity for me.  I realized how sincerely I actually care for kids that are of no relation to myself. I love those innocent, albeit sometimes tiresome, little humans. Zombies scare the living crap out of me, and if I would allow myself to get caught by a zombie hoard just to save their little lives, then I need to be working with kids. If I were to be answering phones in an air-conditioned cubicle, who would save the children?

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What’s In A Name?

I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t feel a twinge of sadness in losing my last name when I marry Greg this October. For 32 years, I’ve been a Schatz. That’s a pretty substantial amount of time! Yeah, my last name gets butchered all the time, but it’s fairly unique, speaks to my heritage, and is a big part of my identity.  I’ve also got a pretty big feminist streak that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong in taking Greg’s last name of Brown.

The thing is, as strong as a woman I am, and as attached to my last name that I am, I still have a streak of traditionalness running through me. (And yes, I know that “tradionalness” isn’t a word, but I really think it should be, so I’m using it!) I plan to spawn a few minions with Greg, and I’d like us to be a family unit with the same last name. Hyphenation could solve this issue, but the thing is, I actually, kinda, sorta, don’t like hyphenated last names. I’m pretty sure my hippie card is being revoked at this moment. For one, if Greg and I were to hyphenate our names, we’d be the Schatz-Brown family. Let that sink in for a moment, pronouncing it the way most people do: “Shats.”  Reversed isn’t any better.

While I like the unity of the two names, and even IF we had compatible last names, I just feel that it would then leave my future offspring (especially a female) in a conundrum when they got married. Growing up in a family of blended names, they might want to blend their names too.  So would we be breeding a Schatz-Brown-Johnson  for  instance? I doubt anyone would want to have 3 last names, so we’d basically be forcing our female child to either keep her name and be different from the rest of her own family, or give up her name completely; something her mom (me) was trying to avoid. It just doesn’t seem fair that I would get the choice to blend my name, but my daughter wouldn’t.

I know, I think too much.

Besides, Brown is a nice, traditional name. If I ever get to teach again, I won’t constantly be asked how to spell Schatz, or get a note from a parent with some letters missing from my last name. Brown was a first grade spelling word, so I can imagine the kids would LOVE the freebie for the spelling test, assuming I taught first grade again. And I’ve gotta admit, I’m actually kinda giddy over the whole becoming a Missus thing. I love Greg with all of my being, and I’m so excited that we are going to become one and start our own little Brown family.

We joke that we’ll become a mixture of the two names: the Bratz family. It MUST be said forcefully with a heavy German accent.  The more we laugh about it, the more normal the name sounds, but I have this thing about genealogy and it’d be a shame that my ancestors couldn’t find anyone before us because we created a whole new line. That, and I’m sure we’d regret naming ourselves after big, fat, sausages.

When my mom married my dad, she made her maiden name her middle name, and I’d like to do that too. Except, I want to go a step further. I share a middle name with my Grandma, and I’d hate to lose that part of me, so I’m going to ask the state of California if I can have two middle names, and cross my fingers they don’t tell me I can only have two first names or two last names. I’d like to be Erica Jane Schatz Brown. It might be a pain in the ass to sign on legal documents, but really, it’s not that often that I have to sign my entire name. On a trip up the coast a few years ago, I ran into this dude in a Santa Barbara thrift store:

If Fire Panda could do it, so should I.

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Hate to Phone

Finding a venue for my wedding is proving to be frustrating and stressful. At one point last week, I truly thought it was going to be impossible; however, I’ve recently been able to shorten the list and highlight places I’d like to visit based on information I’ve received…information I’ve received solely through email. One thing many people don’t know about me is that I do not like talking on the phone. And I don’t mean that in a personal preference sort of way. I mean it in a I get mild anxiety over the thought of making a phone call sort of way.

I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. Though I was a shy and quiet child, I did not have a problem picking up the phone to call my friend Sarah to inquire as to whether or not she could walk down the street to come over and play. I did, however, have a problem calling her if it was just to chat. We actually used to talk on the phone quite frequently, and though I can’t physically remember, I’m almost certain that those phone conversations started because Sarah called me, not vice versa. It’s not as though I didn’t want to talk to her; I did. It was the build-up in my mind prior to the phone call that would prevent me from calling in the first place. What if she doesn’t want to talk right now? What if her family is eating dinner? What if she wants to come over, but she can’t because my brother’s friends are already here? In the end, I usually just didn’t call.

As an adult, I’m wrought with the same worries and anxieties; the difference being that I actually have to make certain phone calls—like to doctors. Before I make the call, I dialogue in my head exactly what I’d like to say to the person I’m calling. Once I figure out my phrasing, I grab a piece of paper to write out verbatim opening statements, along with bulleted points or questions I would like to bring up during the conversation. I guess my worry is that I will forget what I want to ask, or come across as a bumbling moron. Even when I have my “script” written out, I will put off an important call for days until I work up my nerve and find just the right moment in my day to phone them (aka I need to be completely alone with the windows and doors shut tight). Yeah, the thought of anyone overhearing an important call scares the crap out of me because I feel as though they will be thinking that they could have made that same call a lot better and with more finesse than me. And that’s not even because I think that I’m surrounded by “judgy” people; it’s simply a self-confidence issue within myself.

Making a phone call to a friend is a whole other story. For those…well, those just usually don’t happen. It bums me out that I can’t just pick up the phone and call a friend, but unless I have some major news to share, I get all my old hang-ups over calling. It’s been months since I last called…what if they give me a hard time about that? What if she’s busy and she’s only talking to me to be nice? What if I run out of things to say?

So because of this quirky aspect of mine, I’m dependent on the wedding venues to actually email me back their details, which is not necessarily the preferred avenue of contact for some of the smaller places. Many have been great in sending me information in a timely manner, while others that I’d really like to know more about, sit overlooked on my list because I’m too scared to call. I know I’m going to have to suck it up and create my listed dialogue eventually, but what’s a few more days gonna hurt?

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8 Glasses of Water

As some of you are well aware, I hate drinking water. The last time I attempted to drink large quantities of water, I gave myself hypothermia, so I’ve been wary ever since. However, I do realize that there are benefits that come with hydrating properly. A week before Christmas, in an attempt to be healthy, I decided to drink eight glasses of water a day. Let me backtrack a little:

While at Target with Greg to get water filter replacements for our sink (because one of us actually drinks water on a regular basis), I was drawn to the purple Brita water pitchers on the shelf. I casually mentioned to Greg, “ I think I might actually drink water if I had this. I mean, I only like water when it’s cold, and though I can achieve that effect through ice, the cubes just get in the way of my drinking, and it’s too much of an effort.” At which point, I’m sure he rolled his eyes, but also grabbed one off the shelf to bring home. We filled it that night and stuck it in the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day, I began my morning with a small 8oz cup of water. I totally busted out a measuring cup too. I wasn’t about to drink more than needed. To my surprise, it wasn’t half bad. And? It didn’t burn my throat! Every hour or so, I chugged down another cup. And I mean that literally. I would take a deep breath, and finish each cup as if I just lost in a drinking game. The way I saw it, the longer I left the cup out in the open air, the warmer the water would become. It was better for me to drink it while it was still cool and refreshing. Kinda like the way it was with vegetables as a kid. If I stacked all five zucchini slices on my fork and shoved them in my mouth in one bite while they were still hot, it’d be over and done with, as opposed to pushing them around my plate all dinner, then gagging down cold zucchini. If I have to do it, I might as well make it as pleasurable as possible.

In any case, I drank 8-10 glasses of water for nine consecutive days! I was extremely proud of myself, and probably would have kept going, but Christmas day was the tenth day, and I was out of my home for almost the whole day. It didn’t help that at every other house I visited on Christmas, I was tempted with juice, hot apple cider, soda, and wine. With all those choices, there was no way I’d prefer water! Once I got off schedule, my motivation waned. Plus, my brother’s girlfriend is in med school right now, and when I was telling her about it, she said eight glasses isn’t necessary. The guideline is to drink when you’re thirsty. Which totally threw me for a loop, ‘cause Ryan Gosling said on Ellen that, “When you’re thirsty, it’s too late.” And we all know actors are always right. However, I’m going to go with the future doctor’s advice.

And, well, I’m never thirsty…for water.

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Kinda Smelling a Fart

Partly because I can’t smell, but mostly because I’m gross and find farts humorous, Greg and I let the gas fly freely in our household. While folding laundry together the other night, Greg let a particularly stinky one rip. With each disgusted face he made, I laughed harder and harder. It’s always awesome for me to watch others suffer through horrid smells, and this time was especially funny because Greg did it to himself. He took a few steps toward me in anticipation for tickling revenge, and as he did, I inhaled and suddenly choked on a burning sensation in the back of my throat. I let out a soft cough, thinking I must have had a weird tickle or spur of allergies over some dust microbe. That’s when Greg went back to his side of the bed to fold and said something to the effect of, “Oh god it burns.” I paused over the wonder and realization of me actually experiencing a fart, so I promptly asked him, “Do farts really burn? Like, can you actually feel a burning sensation in the back of your throat?” To which he responded with a this-is-common-sense-tone, “Yeah. It’s methane gas.”

I must have asked him three times to clarify exactly how it feels, because I couldn’t believe that I may have actually experienced a real fart, but it’s true. I was ecstatic! I quickly walked into his fart zone in the hopes of feeling the burning sensation again, but a few deep breaths later, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Smells are fleeting with me, and usually entail less smelling and more tingling in my nose, tastes on my tongue, or currently, a burn in my throat. However, that didn’t dampen the initial joy of actually semi-smelling a fart.

As grossed out as I’m sure most of you are by this point (if any of you are still reading), I’ve been trying to smell farts my whole life! In high school, my cousin would let a good one out on her mattress while we sat on her bed doing homework, and I’d immediately rush up, plant my nose firmly into the bed, and hope that I’d smell her alleged rose scented farts. For all I know, her farts really did smell like a beautiful rose garden, so I totally back her on that claim.

I am so intrigued with smells, and it’s so incredibly difficult for those around me to explain what they’re like. So please, those of you that read and are good with words, I beg of you to attempt to explain to me the smell of farts. Or just share a good fart story if you want. Your grossness is accepted here.

My idol, Jenny, The Bloggess, attempted to explain to me what blood smells like. Do you think she nailed it?

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Zombie on My Mind…Still

With the return of The Walking Dead, I can’t help but constantly have zombie on my mind. I’ve already mused on my blog about what sort of zombie I’d become, yet still, the other day, I was thinking about possible scenarios that might play out in the case that I actually live through most of the zombie apocalypse.

Me: If we live through the zombie apocalypse, and it reaches a point where we are completely surrounded with no way out, I think we should just turn ourselves into zombies.

Greg: I like how this conversation started with, “If we live through the zombie apocalypse…”

Me: I know I’ve told you before to just shoot me, but now I have a better plan.

Greg: (smiles amusingly while getting up and walking into the kitchen)

Me: (follows him into the kitchen) Let’s say our apartment is boarded up, with zombies trying to break in. We could just stick our arms out, get bitten, and wait to be zombified. That way, by the time they get in, they won’t be able to eat us because we’ll already have turned.

Greg: Being you, if you stuck your arm out, it would just get torn off.

Me: True. So maybe I can just stick a finger out…

Greg: …to get bit off.

Me: Or better yet! When their arms squeeze through one of the cracks in the boards, we can stick our arms just within their reach so that they can only scratch us! Then we just sit back, and wait to turn into zombies.

Greg: Yeah, and be stuck in our apartment not eating brains.

Me: Exactly! So when they come out with the cure, we’ll never have ingested humans.

Greg: When the CDC finally busts into our apartment, they’ll find two zombies sitting down playing video games.

That’s why I love him. He gets me.

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Future Zombie

~Trigger warning for talking about mild self-harm. The meat of this entry is meant to be entertaining; I just want to be sensitive to others.~

Confession: When I get nervous or anxious, I eat myself. Literally. I pick at the skin around my nails and tear it away with my teeth. And when I’m trying to give the open wounds on my hands a chance to heal, I start gnawing on my bottom lip. For the most part, I don’t even realize that I’m doing it until I’ve drawn blood. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and because of it, I have callused thumbs and a permanent crater on my bottom lip. I can’t seem to shake this anxiety trigger no matter how mindful I try to be. I’m starting to think that this gross habit of mine predisposes me to becoming a great zombie.

Greg and I have had countless discussions about what would happen to us during the zombie apocalypse. Though I’ve instructed him to shoot me in the case of our apartment getting overrun, there’s a big small chance I’ll be bitten too quickly for him to help. The reality of it is that I would be eaten immediately (my hopes being that enough of me survived to become a walking dead). Greg would likely survive, and he may or may not come back to collect me and lock me up in a cage waiting for a cure.

We’ve thought about the different options for me as a zombie. Because of my passive personality and love for everything, it wouldn’t be so far fetched to see me sitting in someone’s front lawn eating daisies as opposed to the helpless child wandering the streets. Greg and I have laughed over the humorous prospect of me trying to convert my zombie friends to vegetarianism.

However, with relation to my skin biting, it’s likely that I may find brains delicious. My worry is over the execution of retrieving said brains. I’m a pacifist by nature, and I just can’t see myself hunting down an innocent human, no matter how black my brain becomes. It’d probably be more likely that I would just be softly growling from a distance and gnashing my teeth together ever so lightly in the hopes that the living would approach me.

Or, maybe I’ll just end up resorting to this:

Zombie Erica eating a chicken nugget.

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Water…yuck!

This week, as I donated money to a friend’s charity for clean water in Ethiopia, I started to feel a little guilty. Someone feeling guilt over making a donation to help drill for water in Africa may seem strange, but it’s perfectly normal when that person despises drinking water herself!

I should be grateful that I could turn on a faucet and get a sip of clean water whenever I want, but to be honest, I’m not as appreciative as I should be. I usually prefer thirst to drinking a glass of water. It has absolutely no taste to it, and it rarely satisfies me (unless I’m outdoors in 90° plus weather, the water is ice cold, and there is no available option of anything else to drink).

Plus, water burns my throat. Everyone laughs or gives me quizzical stares when I tell them this, but it’s the truth! It doesn’t happen all the time, but it especially happens when the water is room temperature! Now, it doesn’t burn right away; it’s more of an “after-burn” that sets a minute or two after taking a drink. It’s similar to the feeling one gets when the beginnings of a sore throat kicks in. The pain is felt in the very back and extends up towards the nasal passage. I’ve no idea how long it lasts, but evidently it lasts long enough for me to know that I don’t like to take the risk of having it happen again.

In an attempt to be healthier and drop a few pounds around the waist, a few years ago, I started bringing a water bottle to work that I refilled throughout the day. Every once and a while, I’d finish my desired 64 oz, but usually, I failed. This was mostly due in part to the fact that my ice would melt after my first bottleful, and after filling it with lukewarm tap water, it would sit untouched the rest of the day. However, the excuse I like to go with is my lack of potty breaks while teaching.

Being able to pee anytime is a luxury that teachers do not get. As a middle school teacher, I only had 2 chances to pee during school hours: morning break and lunch. Usually, my morning break was filled with helping students with academic questions and/or life mentoring, so really, I had one shot at lunch to relieve myself. During my 64 oz days, I’d have no choice but to shoo the kids out during break and get rid of the water I’d been downing. In extreme circumstances, during instructional time, I’d have to open the connecting doors to my team teacher’s room and ask that they watch my class. Since I disliked water anyway, I found that it was much easier to not drink water altogether. A win-win situation.

Now that I’m unemployed, there really is no good reason for me not to drink 8 glasses a day. Especially now that I’ve been reminded of the many people who die of diseases from unhealthy drinking water. I’ll certainly start being more grateful for the access I have to my water, but I already know, there’s no way I’m ever going to enjoy the tasteless, burning feeling that water gives me.

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Marathon Woes

I ran my first, and possibly last, marathon on March 21, 2010. Running the LA Marathon had been a dream of mine since high school, but being a competitive athlete, there was no way I could take off the weeks needed for recovery afterwards; the race is always held in the heart of Track season. After a college injury and advice from my trainers, I reluctantly stopped competitive running altogether. Without the motivation to race, I gradually discontinued any sort of training. I still ran here and there, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get back into races.

I use the word “races” as a term, not literally. I was not willing to re-injure myself and do any all-out competitions; I just wanted to get out there with other people who shared my passion and run the best that I could. So that October, I got my cousin Marissa, her husband Alex, and my friend Danny to join me in our first half-marathon. With limited time for training, and all of us just getting back into running, it was surprising how easy the 13.1 miles were! When I finished, I felt like I could have easily kept going. This spurred our interest in a full-length marathon, and we quickly began a training program.

Despite numerous long training runs (the last four Saturday runs being 16-22 miles each), I still managed to hit that wall during the actual marathon, and I hit it at mile 16. Basically, the thought of going another 10 miles was messing with my head, and I started to feel discouraged. Luckily, I had my cousin by my side, and with Marissa’s support, I was able to get over that mental block. We were doing this together, dammit, and nothing was going to stop us!

Then something happened that I was completely unprepared for. Somewhere during mile 19, I peed my pants. Yes, you read that right. I straight peed on myself, and I couldn’t stop it! I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even tell Marissa what was happening to me. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to endure while running. Small squirts of urine would seep out regardless of how hard I tried to keep it in. Those who know me well, know I don’t drink a lot of water, even on runs, and I think that was my saving grace. While my dark blue shorts slowly became saturated, nothing ran down my legs, and for that, I was grateful. But the thought of having a dark spot in the crotch of my shorts gave me further motivation to finish the race.

My new goal was to quickly get to each water station so that I could create a façade of cooling myself by dumping water all over my front in an attempt to hide the ever-growing patch on my shorts. And it worked! When I was emailed my marathon photos, the first thing I looked for was my pee stain. Fortunately, not even a hint of it could be seen! Although I was mortified when it started, and worried that there would be photographic evidence, by the time I hit mile 22, I didn’t care if onlookers could tell. I was the one butchering my body to complete 26.2 miles and they were just standing on the sidelines; judge away!

After 5 hours 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed that finish line (relatively dry) with Marissa and Danny by my side, and it was one of the most intense feelings I have ever experienced. Tears of pride, pain, and relief streamed down my face as I hugged Marissa and Danny. We did it! Will I do it again? “Hell no!” was my immediate response for a long time. However, lately, I’ve been contemplating running another. Each time I think of it though, there’s a big question looming in my head: Is it worth urinating on myself again to get a time under 5 hours?

It just might be.

(My brother, Kevin, put together this awesome video of our marathon. Will you be able to spot the pee?)

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