Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Days I've been living in Pittsburgh: 16
Inches of snow on the ground: < 2
Interviews scheduled: 1

Yesterday was fairly productive. Remember that massive pile of boxes in my bedroom and the office that needed to be sorted? It's now a manageable pile of boxes. It would probably be a nonexistent pile of boxes if I hadn't been distracted by the following treasures:

  • $82 in cash. When I traveled to Russia this summer, I distributed the $500 I brought in several hiding places in case something got lost or stolen. One of these places? The cloth bag that held my outlet converter thingy. I really could have used the money when I got back to the States... but I could really really use the money right now.
  • The first three pages of a short story I wrote in 8th grade. We were supposed to write a story about clones. The Disney movie about Atlantis had just come out. I wrote ten pages (typed) about a race of clones who were enslaved on Atlantis by evil world leaders. After all, Atlantis was replete with gold and other valuable resources. The biggest tragedy is that I only have those three pages. I could be published by now.
  • My old creative writing journals. I miss Mrs. Tremper. She was awesome.
  • The thank you cards some of my campers wrote for me. You know it's a good summer when half of them say, "Thanks for gluing yourself to a ceramic squirrel." Anytime kids. Anytime.
There was more... oh boy, was there more. But I'd rather retain some shred of dignity here. The important thing is, my room and the office are starting to take shape. I even hung some photos! Maybe by the time we have our first human house guest (Keri's dog Gatsby is staying with us for now, and the boyfriend is visiting in a few weeks) things will be settled.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Julie who?

When I started this blog, I really didn't expect to chronicle my attempts at cooking. However, the unemployed must find something to occupy their time, and today I chose baking. Thus far I have finished a batch of Nanny Tilton's fruit cookies and a batch of Family Circle's cocoa oatmeal jumbos. There's also a sweet potato pound cake in the oven that I have high hopes for.

Okay, I abandoned writing for a while. The first batch of mini pound cakes just came out of the oven. Nanny Tilton, you are an amazing woman. They are delicious.

Anyway. The real point of this post was to inform you, and anyone scanning the blogosphere for Julie Powell copyright infringements, that these posts are not standard operating procedure around here. In fact, I've been hiring a ghostwriter for the past week, so it's not even me writing and you can't sue me at all. But do yourself a favor and try this recipe:

Nanny Tilton's (
née Gatzman) Fruit Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1 cup crushed pineapple (Note: My mom always blots off the excess pineapple juice when she makes these cookies. Personally, I use a slotted spoon to make sure the pineapple isn't sopping, but I think a little juice in the cookie mix is good.)
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (They will inevitably dye your fingers)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the shortening and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture alternately with pineapple. Add other fruits and mix well. Rounded spoonfuls on a tray. I baked them at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. You want the bottoms to be a golden brown color. Enjoy! Just don't share with the masses. Or the Russians.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My first week

Days in Pittsburgh: 7
Inches of snow: 6
Wine glasses broken: 2
Days until Keri stops letting me wash dishes: TBD, but I'm guessing 3
Glasses of wine consumed: ...well, that's enough tallying

Sorry to those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to discover the fate of my roasted chicken. It turned out beautifully. I picked it apart and so far we've used remnants in bolognese sauce and some sort of Indian sauce. Tonight's menu? Chicken pot pie. Although it looks like I'll be dining solo.

The essentials have been unpacked for most of the week, but my room and the office are still a disaster. How is this possible? I find that although I don't own a lot, most of what I own is junk I don't feel like sorting through. I muster up the energy and enthusiasm for two seconds, and then I'm back to washing dishes or looking up recipes or wishing I had done enough to justify a nap. Tomorrow I decided to get into the holiday spirit, bust out the family recipe book, and make some cookies. Perhaps while things are in the oven I can sort through boxes some more. Are you laughing? Yeah, me too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I am not Julia's child...

Sometime during roadrunning I noticed that Hulu posted episodes from Bewitched. When I was younger, I completely adored reruns of that show, so I decided to watch a few episodes to reminisce. The major difference between watching Bewitched when you're an eight-year-old who still believes that she could have some latent magical powers and watching Bewitched when you're a 22-year-old college graduate with a degree in psychology and a minor in sociology? Well, let's just say that eight-year-old me didn't subject a rather understanding boyfriend to the list of reasons Samantha is suffocating in suburbia. I mean, here is a woman with the world at her fingertips (more accurately, at her nostrils), and she abandons everything because she marries a mortal advertising executive whose idea of connubial felicity does not involve levitating pot roasts or a spontaneously materializing mother-in-law. It's not even that she stops using her magic to satisfy her every whim; Samantha refused to use her powers for even the most mundane chores. Sure, I understand the desire to satisfy her partner, but Samantha abandoned a large part of her identity to assimilate to Morning Glory Circle. Thus, my innocent wish to watch a couple of episodes dissolved quickly into an anthropological study of a season and a half of a retro television series so I could appreciate the portrayal of the Standard North American Family (or, as sociologists call them, SNAFs). Sorry, darling.

Why do I bring all this up? Today I had an overwhelming desire to watch another episode of Bewitched. Not to critique Samantha's suburban lifestyle, but to relate to it. Every day this week Keri has gone off to work while I have stayed at home. A lot of time has been dedicated to applications and resumes, but a lot more has been straightening the house and waiting eagerly for Keri to return so I'm no longer bored and lonely. (I swear this isn't as pathetic as it sounds...) Even though there's a lot to do with the house, I like thinking of projects to keep me busy. I decided to make a roasted chicken for tonight's dinner. If you know me, you know that I cannot cook. At all. So I googled (I kid you not) "roasted chicken recipes for idiots," and I decided to make this, but instead of celery I stuffed the chicken with carrots, mushrooms, potato, and onion. But this is what we wound up eating for dinner. The chicken was undercooked by 50 degrees after the hour and fifteen minutes in the oven. After another hour, it was still undercooked. I was... hurt? Is that the right word? The job search has been frustrating lately, and I finally got contacted by two potential employers today. If the chicken had gone according to plan, I would have been on top of the world. Because even if I'm not as financially soluble right now as I'd like to be, at least it would have been a small contribution to the house. And it would have been something that I did correctly, even if it is just a (totally delicious) chicken. Because as feminist (or whatever) as I am, someday I want to be able to cook a stupid chicken. And maybe bake some cookies, too, while I'm at it. And definitely do it while holding down a job that I love.

In case you were wondering, Keri and I left the chicken in the oven for another hour while we went to Aladdin's. When we came back, it was cooked beautifully. The tiny slivers we ate were moist and wonderful, but I cannot say anything for sure until we carve the sucker (I named it Friedrich) tomorrow night for dinner. And, I must do a shameless plug for Aladdin's now: I am almost okay with totally screwing up the chicken, because the Aladdin's Lamb Roll was amazing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is it downhill yet?

So in my post-assembly haze on Sunday, I forgot to mention the most exciting part of my day. It wasn't the (eventual) successful assembly of Swedish furniture, or the fact that the back of my bedroom door is covered in chalkboard paint, or the tortilla soup I had at Max & Erma's (although it was really good soup). Are you dying of suspense? I know I am! On the way home from Ikea/Max & Erma's, we were behind an orange car. At first all I could do was wonder why someone would choose burnt orange for a car, but then I noticed the license plate. You guessed it! It was a 9999! Thank you, Pittsburgh, for that fabulous welcome. I tried to take pictures with my phone, but it was dark so you can only see indistinct red lights. Oh well. At least I have a witness.

Yesterday I canvassed local retail establishments to see who was hiring. As expected, I got a lot of, "We're done for the season, but check back in January because we never know how things will work out after the holidays." Awesome. So only five applications wound up going out. Keri did cheer me up by taking me on a fabulous date to the Bangkok Balcony, which is a pretty awesome Thai place within walking distance of our house. (I explored the neighborhood yesterday, and it's difficult to list something that isn't within walking distance of our house. Don't even get me started on the amazing library.)

Today I decided to focus on unpacking my room. Thanks to the Avett Brothers, it's going smoothly thus far. I have high hopes for an awesome bedroom when everything is done. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to clean the house and make a casserole before Keri gets back from work. She gets upset if I'm not waiting by the door with a martini in hand.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Took a whole lotta tryin', Just to get up that hill

Okay, clearly I lied in yesterday's post. Of course I quoted the Jefferson's theme song. I'm human. I'm weak. Who are you to judge?

Days left until Pittsburgh: 0
Applications sent out today: 0 (In all fairness, I've been a little busy.)

I was nervous this morning when Keri called to tell me there was an ice storm in Pittsburgh and we wouldn't want to arrive until later in the day. Fortunately we only hit fog and rain, which were annoying but not terrible. And it wasn't even that cold! All in all, move in went way smoother than I was imagining.

We went to Ikea to purchase a dresser (thanks for the early Christmas present, Mom and Dad!)... which wound up being a dresser, a lamp, curtains, and some glasses. Close enough. And somewhere around 9:30 we finished the epic two-hour battle with furniture assembly. Ikea, your furniture is lovely, and I've gotten some very solid pieces from you... but it's a pain in the ass to assemble, FYI. So far my bed is made, my bedside table is set up, and one window is curtained. Join me tomorrow as I try to get the rest of my life in order! And maybe find a job.

I will not type lyrics from the Jefferson's theme song...

Days left in office: 0
Days left until Pittsburgh: < 1
Applications sent out today: 3

I'm sitting in a dark, empty room right now because all of my worldly possessions are packed into the van, truck, or trailer. Unfortunately lamp = worldly possession.

My last day in the office was pretty painless; I had enough to do to keep me occupied, but I was never so busy that I was annoyed for being swamped on my last day. I interviewed two very quiet kids, but they were both really sweet and I just wound up rambling on. They were laughing, which either means I was entertaining or idiotic. Or possibly a combination of the two. But one of the kids was interested in psychology, so he definitely got an earful. And the office closed an hour early for the college's staff Christmas party. The least enjoyable part of the day was actually leaving. Goodbyes are bad enough under normal circumstances, but when you're saying them to people you don't necessarily know or like well, then they're just awkward. Many people who spent their days ignoring me completely felt the need to make long speeches wishing me luck. I appreciate the sentiment, but I appreciate brevity even more.

So tomorrow we head out bright and early to the City of Champions. (I don't think I'm supposed to point out the irony of that title considering the Steeler's current record... residential allegiance or something.) If I wind up moving back "south" for the winter, please don't judge me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Something witty and relevant

Days left in office: 2
Days until Pittsburgh: 4
Applications sent out today: 1

Okay, so that's not a terribly impressive number of applications... if only I had posted yesterday, when I sent out four! But I did get a call about an interview for a random retail job. At this point anything getting me closer to being able to pay rent is noteworthy.

As I mentioned on Monday, I've started bringing my laptop into the office so I can pretend to do important things when there's nothing for me to do. Yesterday it was a godsend. Along with applying for every remaining job in Pittsburgh, I also finished most of my Christmas shopping and facebook stalked half of my friend list. Eight hours well spent. Today I didn't use my laptop as much.

This morning I interviewed a walk in; he was my first truly strange interview. This family drove down from NY last night and stayed in town, but they never bothered to let us know they were coming. The dad was a musician, the mom was a graphic designer, and the kid was interested in creative writing. That stereotype you're envisioning right now? The one you're maybe feeling guilty for picturing? Yes, that is them. The kid was clearly ADHD. Like whoa. He fidgeted the entire time, his eyes darting around whenever he tried to talk. And, to make it even better, he had no questions. Nothing to say. He hasn't really thought about college that much. It's mid December, and he hasn't even applied anywhere. His mom is planning to bribe him with cookies to work on his college essay. No joke. On second thought, it's either ADHD or drugs. But he goes to a school that helps "young men who, for whatever reason, are not meeting their full potential." That usually has LD written all over it.

Second interview was way better... this girl was perfect for our school, and she seemed to like us. She goes to a tiny high school, and her philosophy is if you're going to a small school, you'd better stand out. So she's in basically every club ever and still has solid grades and great SAT scores. It's difficult interviewing kids like that and not being able to say, "Don't worry, you're a lock."

And of course during the ten minutes I covered reception, this douchey kid came in. He was scheduled for a tour only, but we didn't know that much about him. His tour guide was this insanely nice guy who everyone loves. The tour guide was sitting for ten minutes waiting for the kid to show up. When he finally did, it was with two current students who I had never seen before.

Girl #1: Are there tours today?
Me: Yes, we schedule them every day during the week.
Prospective Student: Can I have one?
Me: Sure. Did you have an appointment?
PS: Yeah.
Me: Okay, if you could just fill out this sheet for me. There's also a page for you to check off the things you want your tour guide to show you, and a packet of information for you to look over.
PS: Okay.
(He and one of the girls sit on a couch. They're whispering and giggling, but I can't tell what they're saying. Five minutes go by. The tour guide is still sitting, waiting for this kid to be ready.)
PS: Here you go. I don't need a guide, I'm just going to walk around with them.

He left the sheet blank except for the field that asks who's accompanying the student. (Basically, did you bring your parents with you?) He wrote one of the girls' names and under relationship wrote "Wife." I'm sure we'd be lucky to have him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just keep swimming!

Days left in office: 4
Days until Pittsburgh: 6
Applications sent out today: 5

Today I had one interview scheduled. She canceled. Is it me? So today I was left to my own devices. Always a bad idea. My roommate and I entertained each other by playing Hangman via email and I discovered something terrible about the woman I'm about to live with.The category was Gleeryics (lyrics from Glee songs). My puzzle was, "He's hoping you can make it there if you can, 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man." For those of you who have not lived under a rock for the past decade, and have souls, you know that these lyrics are from "Bust A Move," performed by Mr. Schue. Keri, however, took an unreasonably long time to solve the puzzle, finally confessing that she always skips that song when she listens to the Glee soundtrack. Even worse, she asked, "This isn't from the rap song is it?" Um, hello? It's "Bust A Move." Not just rap.

Other excitement of the day: when the mail arrived I used a blue letter opener whose shape is vaguely reminiscent of a whale, so I pretended that it was slicing through masses of krill instead of envelopes. Swim away! I also talked to a hilariously awkward kid on the phone who clarified a spelling by saying, "E as in Egret." Needless to say, he is my new favorite.

Tomorrow we don't have any appointments scheduled at all. I'm going to bring my laptop in and work on some job applications and gratuitous facebooking. So if you have a good Hangman puzzle, feel free to entertain me!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Days left in the office: 5
Days until Pittsburgh: 8

This week I spread my wings and flew into the great unknown. Really I just started solo interviews, but I wanted it to sound more epic.

Thursday was, quite frankly, painful. I spent a good hour of the day staring at a wall. It wasn't even an interesting wall. Although I suppose if this situation repeats itself I could try following those tiny dust floaty things in the air like a cat.
There was, however, an adorable admissions moment starring me and two coworkers we'll call "Sharona" and "Natalie." (I'm watching the Monk finale, so I figured I'd do a small tribute.) The early action deadline was Tuesday, which means we are flooded with applications. Thursday's totaled 187, and all of them wound up on Sharona's desk.

Sharona: (Handing a stack of applications to us) Natalie and Allison, could you sort these by counselor? (We do, and distribute them to the counselors. She notices our now-empty desk.) Did you hand them out already?
Natalie: Yes.
Sharona: Oh, I didn't want you to distribute them! (gestures towards another stack of applications) These need to go out, too!
Natalie: Well, we can do those now.
Sharona: (sheepishly) I know... but I wanted to see how big the stacks were. Small satisfaction.

For the record, 187 applications divided into six counselor piles isn't nearly as impressive as 187 applications in one pile. And that was the highlight of Thursday.

Yesterday I had three interviews, so the afternoon flew by. It was a nice range of, "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO COME HERE!" to "You're okay and will have no problems getting in" to "Yeah... probably not." (Although that last one is a recruit for our big sport, so really who knows.)

My van has been in the shop for a few days because the passenger side door has stopped opening. It needs a new latch, but since my car predates dinosaurs the (totally awesome) mechanic (who will probably be my new BFF soon) had some issues locating one. So right now my car is sitting the the driveway with the interior panel of the door in pieces on the floor, waiting for the latch to arrive on Monday. As if my poor car doesn't already look like it's falling apart.

I was hoping that while I composed this I would work up the motivation to pack my room. Not so much.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And the winner is... (Me, obviously, because it's my blog)

Days left on the road: 0
Days left in the office: 7

Since it's my final day of actual roadrunning, I thought I would commemorate the event with some superlatives. In no particular order, I present to you:

Winner of the License Plate Game:
9996. Hardly an accomplishment.

Most Reinforced Stereotype:
Old people drive really slowly. Whenever I passed a car that was going ten miles below the speed limit, it was almost always a senior citizen. I always felt guilty for stereotyping... and frustrated with the reinforcement of the stereotype... but seriously, old people, please drive faster.

Biggest Driving Pet Peeve:
Hi, New Jersey drivers. Allison here. Just wanted to give you one small note: If you're making a right turn, get to the right of the lane so cars behind you can pass on your left. If you're making a left turn, get to the left so cars can pass on your right. It's not really that complicated.

Most Awkward Visit:
This is a toss up. Chatting with the schizoid guidance counselor a few weeks ago made me feel awkward in places I wouldn't normally associate with that emotion. But I also had an awkward girl one of my first days on the road who asked a billion and one questions from a list and wanted to know statistics that I doubt exist. That was less of a palpable awkwardness, though, so schizoid guidance counselor probably wins.

Most Delightful Visit:
I think it's a testament to humanity that I really couldn't say. (Sappy moment, bear with me here.) I met a lot of really fun, adorable kids who would be a great fit for our school. I also met a lot of hilarious kids who would never ever attend, but entertained me thoroughly.

Most Traumatic Moment:
I think we all know.

Best Road Food:
You can probably guess this one, too.

Best Destination:
Bethlehem, PA. It is tied for my favorite date night, and I could actually see myself living there.

Best Road Music:
Lately the Glee soundtrack has been an amazing road companion. Except of course for "Bust A Move," which I would obviously never rock out to ever. Never. The Avett Brothers were pretty fantastic as well since there was a nice mix of slow and fast songs. (In official terms, Kick Drum Heart = <3<3<3)

Most Surprising Realization:

I don't hate high school students. It's actually pretty cool to work with them when they're going through the college process. (This might just be me wanting to live vicariously through them.) Also, I always thought I would be more comfortable sitting around a conference table with a smaller group, but I found that the visits I did best at were when I was standing in front of larger groups and talking. I think it's because I fell into a teachery role then and was more take-charge. So I can totally take charge if I want to. (That being said, I will be so upset if after all this I decide I want to teach. So. Upset.)

Realization That Isn't All That Surprising, But Good to Know:

I really am okay by myself. I've always been relatively independent, and I liked having alone time, but I was still worried that I would get lonely or bored on the road. Apparently not. I officially feel at ease doing basically anything by myself: restaurants, movies, museums, live performances, etc. I'm actually a little afraid that I've become schizoid.

Thing I Will Miss Most:

Ending my day by 2 p.m. I am officially ruined for other employers. And being able to do what I want when I want. I am officially ruined for other human beings.

Most Annoying Group of Students:

On principle, it would be the forensic scientists. Seriously kids, just because you watch CSI does not mean you should base your entire college search on an unrealistic desire to be Gil Grissom. A close second would be the Music Education kids who don't realize that studying music
and education isn't any different and thus needlessly eliminate a billion colleges from their search.

Most Annoying Group of Humans:


Best Midday Nap:
That would have to be when I dozed off for half an hour in the parking lot of a catholic high school. Not sketchy at all.

Scariest Auto Issue:
It actually was not my flat tire on the turnpike. I got the most freaked out today while driving a school van when I saw the temperature symbol light up. Or, to be more accurate, when I thought I saw the temperature symbol light up and hadn't yet realized that the symbol is actually a permanent fixture on the car. Go me.

Most Useful Skill I Learned:
How to profile shopping plazas to determine if a Panera is located within. (I can also profile kids now and determine how great a match they would be for the college, but it's completely useless for me at this point.)

Skill I Wish I Learned:
I still cannot pack well. I don't think I'll ever master that.

Best Go-To Outfit:
Dress and tights. Warm and comfy and fuss-free. Or brown dress pants and white cowl neck sweater. Also warm and comfy and fuss-free.

Best Thing About the End of Roadrunning:
No more packing my room every time I needed to change hotels. It wasted precious minutes when I could have been sleeping in.

Place I'm Most Likely to Revisit:
I will be taking my kids on vacation to the Jersey Shore. I loved it. (And what kid doesn't like statues of James A. Garfield?!)

And that, my friends, is three months of my life, in a nutshell. I will continue to update with my office anecdotes, and when I do whatever it is I'm doing next. But this post shall live in infamy as the last official confession of a roadrunner. Are you crying? It's okay if you are.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You really are fantastic

Days left on the road: 1
Days left in the office: 7

Since my Impala had to return to the rental company today, and since I question my van's ability to travel more than an hour away from home, I borrowed a school car for my final two days of travel. What did they give me, you ask? A minivan. A newer, sleeker, better-running minivan than I currently own. With a CD player and two cigarette lighters so I can charge my phone and my GPS at the same time. Let's just spit in my car's face while we're at it. I actually prefer the van to the Impala, mostly because of the height. These past three months have made me realize that I like the length of my car to be in proportion to its height; much like the Crazy/Hot scale on HIMYM. When my van finally moves on, I really don't know what I would do for a replacement... if I even murmur the word SUV, everyone attacks me for being anti-environment.

To celebrate my last night on the road, I went to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. If you were wondering whether or not you should see it, you definitely should. It was adorable. One screening will probably suffice, but it's worth it just to hear the animals replace actual cuss words with the word cuss. And I greatly enjoyed watching George Clooney as Mr. Fox on the screen while watching George Clooney
in my mind as himself doing everything that Mr. Fox did. And I had gummy bears, so I was pretty happy.

Thursday it's back to the office and the dreaded eight hour work day. Roadrunning has given me unrealistic expectations about scheduling. If a day ends later than one, I get a little resentful. I should probably work on that.