Thursday, April 29, 2010

Post Office Pissing Contest

As all writers know, the querying process is damn hard. But the fact that most agents take email submissions has made querying easier, at least physically. However there are still some great agents out there who, though they might accept email queries, prefer to receive a hard copy of the manuscript. And that is fine and perfectly understandable.

So I had to send a hard copy of my MS, with a synopsis, to a requesting agent yesterday. I was a bit behind because, as all writers know, writing a synopsis is damn hard. And what with the contractors in my house, end of semester final grading, and the normal bitching and whining I like to do, the synopsis took a little longer than it should. But I finally finished it. Printed out my materials and ran off to the post office.

I don't go to the post office often. Maybe 3 or 4 times a year at most. But usually I don't have a bad experience, even if there is a long wait, like during the whole month of December. Usually the postal workers that I have dealt with are either very nice and friendly, or indifferent but still professional.

However, today was another story. I grabbed a padded envelope, which I knew would cost me $1.50 and got on line. When I reach the window, the postal worker takes my envelope and asks me if I would like to overnight it for $15.99. I say No, thank you. She then asks me if I want to priority mail it for $4.90. As I mull it over, she then asks me if I want confirmation for $.80 or something else for double the price. I agree to the confirmation and then she starts pushing me on the priority mail again. I don't think I need it. The agent's office is in Washington, DC, so it is local for me. But finally, I agree after she keeps reminding me how long regular mail can take. I ask her if I have to switch envelopes to the priority one instead. She says no, this envelope is fine. But then she points out that I have used a padded envelope and adds it to the bill which is now over $9.00!! I point out that priority envelopes are free. She states that since I didn't use a priority envelope I would be charged for the one I used. I then say, "but you are the one that pushed me to upgrade to priority. I didn't even want it."

She then says "I don't care about anything you have to say or the excuses you want to make. I don't care. You are going to pay for the envelope."

"Ok, fine," I agree. "But I don't want Priority."

She then had the audacity to get mad at me. Finally she grudgingly removes all the priority stickers and I pay my $5.00 bill and leave.

I feel like I went to buy a used car, not mail a package at the post office. Since when did the post office start pushing upgrades like car salesmen? It was extremely uncomfortable and awkward and I was quite shocked at the woman's behavior. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off with priority mail in the first place. But I'd rather have learned my lesson by myself instead of having it so rudely foisted on me by the postal worker.

Ironically enough, I will have to go back to the post office when I pull a winner for my contest. But the contest is still open for now. I've got 2 prizes and not enough entries! So the contest will be open for one more week. So leave a comment and win a prize. I mean dried squid, salted seaweed, chocolate covered phallic symbols, who doesn't want to win this? And if I could figure out how to mail octopus ice cream, I totally would do it!

But I think I want to go back and bring that nice postal worker a present. Something yummy. Ah yes, I will leave her a little stinky surprise.

Natto, fermented soybeands by Jun Seita.

This is natto, Japanese fermented soybeans that is mixed with a raw egg over steaming hot white rice. And it is NASTY. My parents used to eat this stuff all the time. I think it is how I developed such a strong gag reflex. Let's just say that the a football locker room filled with stinky, sweaty, players after a particularly grueling game, will smell like roses next to a bowl of this stuff. The odor alone will burn off your eyebrows and your eyelashes and you will want to cut your nose off your face to stop the horrendous smell. And the slimey, gooey, repulsive, vomit inducing taste of it! What a great present. I think I'll get a box of this and leave it for my new postal worker friend. I bet she'll get a real kick out of it. In fact, I'll put it in a priority envelope and mail it to her. Cause I'm considerate that way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Contest continued

Thanks to everyone who has commented and also wished me a happy birthday. It was a tiring week and the house fixing continued today. Unfortunately, it looks like I have to wait for one more thing to get done before life goes back to normal. But boy, you never know how much crap you have until you try to pack it all away. I don't think I had a free moment that wasn't filled with boxing, wrapping, folding, cleaning, taping, moving or dusting. I'm exhausted.

So I have decided to continue my contest because I'm still waiting for that one funny comment that makes me snort diet coke out my nose. Some have gotten close, but not quite spaghetti noodle dangling out the nostril funny...yet. In an effort to increase the funny, I'm expanding ideas of what can go in my goodie box, like:

These cookies have a chestnut filling that is quite sweet and good. The outside is soft and sort of like a pancake. I can't always find them at the store, but if they are there, I'll add them cause they are yummy.

Pickled garlic. Oh yeah, delish. Course you gotta like garlic. Whatever pickling process they use actually mellows out the intensity of the garlic. Plus they don't smell like raw garlic. They don't smell like roses either, but they aren't nearly as bad as eating a lot of dishes with lots of garlic in them.
This was my favorite thing when I was younger and is my kids favorite also. It's Yakult - a yogurt drink that is hard to describe but delicious to drink. Usually you freeze it and then you let it thaw out so you can drink it. But I never could wait and I'd be gnawing all over the plastic trying to get the sweet icy drink out into my mouth. But when it is icy cold and ready to drink, it is so good!

So come on people! Be adventurous! Try for the goodie box! Let's get some more entries, shall we? The challenge is to make me laugh so hard I'd snort a spaghetti noodle through my nose (if I were eating spaghetti). Who can do it? Who will reign supreme?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birthday Contest!

I'm supposed to be enjoying my birthday, but instead, I'm trapped in my house as the contractors rip it apart and expose me to dust, chemicals, fumes and possibly worse. And I have to go teach for 6 hours straight later this afternoon. So it ain't looking good for my birthday.

How can I salvage the day? I can't drink anymore because my Acid Reflux believes that alcohol is the devil and must be purged at all costs. The last stomach wrenching session taught me my lesson and I shall never doubt Acid Reflux again. And since I can't leave the house, I can't go eat. And no one can come over because the house is like a demolition zone.

Well in order to make myself feel better, I decided to hold a contest. But what kind of contest? That is the question. Everyone gives away gift cards and books. But I was thinking of something my buddy Pacatrue did. When I won the March madness pool last year (or was it the year before?) he sent me a goodie box filled with Hawaiian treats - of which the best was this awesome dessert he made himself. Well, I'm not making any treats. This is, after all, supposed to be a good prize, not a bad one. So I'll save your stomach's from my trying to bake anything. But I can offer up a goodie box of different and interesting treats from my local Asian supermarket that some of you might not be familiar with. Such as this or this. What? Not interested? All right. how about this instead?

No, that's not a phallic symbol! That's a chocolate covered cookie and it is delicious! Below are some of the kind you can dip into a chocolate or strawberry cream. I like to lick the cream out with my tongue.

But my favorite cookie is this one:

They have a soft chocolate center. What's not to like?

Almost everyone has eaten ramen noodles at some point in their life, right? Ah those good old poor student days, eating ramen every day and desperately trying to think of creative ways to choke down the same old noodles. Now if only Ramenbox had been available to me back then, I think I would have been a better student! And here you thought ramen only came in oodles of noodles flavor. Think again. What about a spicy Korean ramen noodle called Shin Ramen? Eat at your peril! Too spicy for you? How about a miso flavored ramen? Or a green tea flavored one?

Ramen will make you thirsty. I bet a lot of you have never had this Korean drink sensation. It's called sac sac and it comes in a variety of flavors - but the only ones I like is orange and grape. They come with little pulpy pieces of the fruit with the drink and they are delicious. But be warned, eating the peeled whole grapes in the grape drink does have the consistency of eating eyeballs and are not for the squeamish.

Ok, since this is my birthday contest, I have to include my Mother's favorite snack because she did bring me into this world. So here it is, a bag of shrimp flavored crackers.

Personally, I think they taste like salty shrimpy styrofoam chips but this might be just me as my kids love these things too. But then again my kids will eat anything that has enough salt on it. Like the next item on our list. Dried, roasted, salted seaweed:

This is not only tasty, it is really good for you. No Korean household is complete without a pack of this stuff. Make some fresh, hot rice and open up a pack of kim (roasted seaweed). They are thin like paper and come in sheets. You cut it to the size you want. Then you wrap a square of it around a little hot rice and enjoy!

Here's one more of my Mom's favorite snacks. It's a weird Japanese cookie called a Monako, and it is filled with sweet red bean paste. This one I sort of like and sort of hate. The inside part is good and I like the sweet red bean taste of the jelly, but the outside part is really flaky and drives me crazy cause the flaky part sticks to your lips and the inside of your mouth and no matter how much you scrape at it with your tongue it doesn't want to come out, ever. But again, this might be an "Ello is weird thing" and not a "Mom is weird thing" as this is a very popular cookie.

Last but not least, I shall include my Dad's favorite treat before his dentures made it impossible to enjoy. Dried squid. Don't they look so good?

I can see some of you cringing already. You probably won't believe me when I say it tastes good. But if you like beef jerky, there's no reason you shouldn't like dried squid. Seems like the same concept to me and they both leave your hands stinky for hours. Ok I admit it. I hate beef jerky. But I guess if you grow up eating dried squid you've gotta grow to like it. Even my kids love the stuff. But what I give them doesn't look like the picture above. No way. If I gave my kids something that looked like that they would call the police and have me taken away for child abuse. No, like beef jerky, the dried squid we buy looks like this:

See? So they eat strips of white chewy jerky that tastes like squid. Yeah, I know. Still gross, huh? I can always include a can of bundegi instead. he he. But then again, some, all or none of these might show up in the goodie box. It could be a total surprise! That's the fun of it.

So what are the rules to the contest? Simple, first of all, you must be a buddy of the blog. See the box on the sidebar called Buddies? Just click on the follow box and that takes care of step 1. If you are already a buddy, then skip step 1. The second step is to comment here on which of these taste sensations you would be most interested to partake in and why. Or if you feel that a certain Asian treat should be included in the goodie box, please make a recommendation for me to consider. Either of these comments should also include a statement as to why you should be chosen to win. The one with the best comment will win a goodie birthday box from me.

The goal of the contest is to increase my buddies from the current 129- hey, what happened to a buddy? Who left me? What'd I do? (mope) Ok, the goal is to increase my buddies from 128. So to that end, I shall include a second prize. For those of you who are not feeling so brave, the second prize will be a choice of a $25 gift card to Amazon or a goodie box like above. This one will be a random drawing. If you are a buddy and you leave a comment on this post, you will be automatically entered to win. If you link the contest to your blog or tweet or facebook it, you will double your chances in the lottery. Just make sure you comment here and let me know you've promoted me and I'll enter you as often as you promote me!

So there you have it! A celebration of Ello/Earth Day with your comments providing me with free entertainment in my shut-in birthday day. Let the mayhem begin!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Funny Things My Mom Says - Part 6

So my folks came down to visit and have an early celebration for Oldest and me as our birthdays are a week apart. My Mom, who tends to lack any kind of discretion and is about as subtle as a gorilla in a china factory, has switched tactics and has been trying to be subtle about the fact that she perceives me to be overweight.

She says things like:

"You don't have to go on a diet, you just need to stop eating."

"You're not fat, you just need to move around all the time. Like now. Stop eating and start running, jumping, jogging. Now! Right now! Get up!"

So she and my dad came down to visit, but stayed at my sister's house in Virginia because our house is undergoing "insurance covered snow storm damage repairs." Yes the snow from over 3 months ago. Don't even get me started on that.

Anyway, we go over to have dinner and my Mom gives me an early birthday present. First she hands me a large pink envelope and then a large manila envelope folded over. She then asks me not to open the folder until I get home. When I get home, first I open the manila envelope (apparently she'd run out of wrapping paper) and pulled out this little handy dandy book:

I open it and guess what's inside?

Then I open the large very pink envelope and pull out this lovely card:

When I open the card, another surprise:

Anybody else getting the feeling that I'm being bribed to lose weight?

OK guys! Since Ello's day is also Earth Day, I'm going to have a little contest and give out some prizes in celebration for it being mine and the Earth's Days - because we are both very special and share things that are big and round. So stay tuned as I come up with interesting prizes for people to try for later this week!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 40

We went out to dinner at a very nice, very fancy restaurant. The kids oooohed and ahhhhed over the place. The chandeliers were a fancy bubble like pattern. They used cloth napkins instead of paper. They had fancy leather padded chairs and the staff wore ties. But it wasn't until the bathrooms that the kids really got excited. Burnished brass fixtures in a marble bathroom with wicker baskets, perfumed soap, and even mouthwash.

Angus announced to the whole restaurant that she'd never been in such a fancy bathroom before.

Unfortunately, the kids did not like their overly priced dinner. Some fancy schmancy attempt at gourmet pizza for kids with a Mediterranean twist that none of them liked. Youngest announced that it smelled like cat food. Angus just ate the bread. Oldest ate Da Man's food instead.

As we got up from our table and began the long trek through the restaurant to the door, the kids start to complain about their dinner.

Youngest - I'm still hungry.

Me - You should have ate more at dinner.

Youngest - But I didn't like it!

Me - Too bad.

Youngest (to her sisters) - This place is disappointing. The food is not as good as its bathroom.

Ironically, their favorite restaurants are these hole in the wall places with fabulous food and bathrooms you wouldn't catch me dead in. So is there a correlation? I don't want to even think about it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

When they were little

I was going through my files on my computer and found this old clip of Angus singing with Oldest acting goofy in the background. I think they were 3 and 5. Youngest isn't on screen but you can hear her chattering behind the camera. I can't believe how fast time flies. Oldest is only 2 inches shorter than me and Angus is catching up fast. Youngest is now in kindergarten and I don't have babies anymore. I'm so happy to see them grow and yet so sad that they aren't so little anymore. It's a bittersweet moment.

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