Archives for the month of: March, 2012

Call me naive, but I’d seen this picture so often, that even after other people had posted their pictures of the Locos Tacos with completely different wrappers, I was still kind of hoping for something like this.

 

Because, let’s face it, that’s pretty epic.

We ordered two: a regular taco for Daphne, and a supreme taco for me. Now that I think about it, the actual product didn’t look too much like that picture, either.

Which one is supreme? Which is regular? Yeah... the tomatoes tell you that it's full-throttle!

 

The hard paper packaging. It's not a chip bag, but it'll do.

Dorito-y!

At first, I felt kind of ripped off because I couldn’t see the sour cream… then I bit into the taco, and there it was! In giant, uneven globs between the meat and the lettuce.

Still, compare the concavity of my actual taco to the near-bursting bounty of the publicity photo.

Basically, this is a Taco Bell Taco in a Dorito shell. The shell improves it, of course, and it’s a fine quick snack but it didn’t transport me to another world or anything.

I did, however, have the tell-tale “Dorito fingers” after having consumed my dinner.

This is a weird-perspective picture. I don’t have freakishly-malformed fingers. (No offense to people who have freakishly-malformed fingers.)

My super fun weekend continued today with a couple of job-related tasks I needed to get done. The first was fingerprinting for my eventual (hopeful) insurance license; the other was the test itself.

Obviously, I have had a lot going on, and in studying for my exam, I have found myself struggling mightily. In my academic life, I have never failed any test. I test extremely well. This isn’t because I’m so smart, but just because I don’t panic and I can kind of intuit answers, even if I’m not entirely sure what they’re supposed to be. However, this insurance stuff had me panicked. It would not stick to my brain.

The thing is, I have an incredible capacity for memorization. If I’ve ever bothered to learn the words to a song, I still know them. All.

Hand me a script, I’ll read through it twice, and by the third rehearsal, I’ll have my part pretty much sewn up. It just makes sense to me: the ebbs and flow of conversation, the seemingly unrelated injection here and there… My brain likes that kind of thing, and it eats it up.

I was a theater major. I read and wrote a lot. My brain loves literature and humor and cleverness and basically, insurance is the antithesis of that. It has numbers and dry facts and lots of regulations. And my near-middle-aged liberal arts brain was outright rejecting my efforts to cram information into it.

“No, thanks,” my brain would say, and I’d be on to trying to figure out how I could set my camera up to do a stop-motion video.

Plus, we’ve been so busy. My days blur into weeks, and Fridays when I teach are suddenly “tomorrow” and I haven’t bought supplies yet, and then it’s Tuesday and Zumba, and then it’s Thanksgiving. Planning to move, showing the trailer so often, trying to stay calm yet running almost constantly… That, too, has been a drain.

I have basically lived in denial about this day. I was a bit relieved, after the drama yesterday, to know that all I had to worry about was the test. No Ikea run whilst down there. No list-making. No spending money. Just the test. Likely the first test I would ever flunk. Just another diseased feather in my hat of crap. (You’re welcome.)

This morning, I dropped Daphne off at my parents’ and went over to find Sylvan Learning Center. I was going to Sylvan to be finger-printed. Weird combo to me, but the lady on the phone Thursday had made it very clear to me that Building 9 was Sylvan, not whatever the name of the fingerprinting agency was. Apparently, lots of people get lost looking for it. It’s in one of the dozens of strip malls in the parking area of the gigantic Stonebriar Centre. I did hear a lady who came in after me say, “We were looking for the name…”

Oh, that lady who told me exactly what to look for on Thursday? I had called the company because, unlike the testing facility, I had not received any confirmation on the fingerprinting. I went online to confirm my appointment and got an e-mail stating that they had no record of my registration. What?? So I called them. The lady on the phone said, “Actually, you’re scheduled for two slots. 12:20 and 12:30.” I remembered that. I’d thought I’d signed up for the 12:20 slot, but didn’t get a confirmation, so went back in to do it again and the 12:20 wasn’t available anymore. So I’d taken the 12:30 slot.

“I’ll take the 12:20,” I told her. “Okay. Well, you’re all paid up, so we’ll see you Saturday.” She then explained in detail where they were located.

Today, I got there about half an hour early, but figured that I would maybe squeeze in and give myself more time to get to the testing facility. I went inside, and watched the nice lady at the desk look all over her computer screen, trying to conjure my name out of nothing. I also noticed a grandpa-type inside the center, tutoring two young kids. They looked like they were having a good enough time for having to study on a Saturday.

My name wasn’t in the computer. She asked me to have a seat while she tried to call the main center. Then she had her manager e-mail and call. No one was available. We waited for an hour. No one got back to them. They couldn’t do my fingerprints. There are numbers associated with the whole insurance thing, and those would have been in the paperwork I had gotten in the confirmation e-mail had that been an actual thing. Which it wasn’t.

I left discouraged. Briefly. Then sucked it up and headed down the road.

The testing facility was in a really nice office building. I got there early and looked around. It was post-apocalyptic. There should have been someone at the front desk. There should have been someone in the sundry store. There was no one anywhere. Not in the shiny elevator bay. Not in the mail room. Not in the nice-smelling restrooms. It was creepy.

After I killed some time, I went ahead into the testing center. I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I took my real estate test in Nevada (That’s right; I had a real estate license at one point. Life’s crazy.), there were a bunch of us there, we all sat for the test together, and we had to fill it out on paper. With bubbles. And Number Two pencils.

This wasn’t the case today, though. Although my appointment wasn’t until 2, I was able to get checked in at 1:25. I placed everything I had with me except for my driver’s license in a provided locker. I asked the lady at the desk if I’d need my pencils. She said, “Everything you need for the examination will be given to you inside.”

She went to check something while I read over the instructions. There were things about how I couldn’t take unauthorized material into the room, and how, if I took a copious amount of breaks or consulted notes or made a phone call, I would be carted off to indentured servitude.

Then I was invited to go ahead and start testing. I had to sit with the proctor outside of the room full of computer terminals first. She took my info, took my picture (not a flattering one, either… between rain, wind, and a super low mega-pixel webcam), had me turn out my pockets and push up my sleeves, wanded my front, turned me around, had me sweep my back pockets, wanded my back, and gave me two sharpened pencils and a yellow booklet of scratch paper.

She invited me to follow her into the room, and asked me to stand at the door while she prepared my computer. As she did, I looked down at the scratch paper and noticed that I was to turn it back in when I left the test. It reminded me of the story Daphne and I just read called “Matched.” In their society, every piece of paper is accounted for.

When I glanced back up, she was silently motioning to me that I could join her. She patted me on the shoulder and walked away.

So it started. 150 (and a few bonuses, for research purposes) questions. About insurance. At about 90 questions, I started getting sleepy. After I’d been there an hour, there was a break. I skipped it, because I was more than 2/3 of the way through and I just wanted to get finished.

That ridiculous webcam picture grinned apishly at me from the upper right corner of the screen through the entire test. By the time I was in the 120s, I was having difficulty staying awake. It as literally boring me to sleep. I had marked about six questions I wanted to review when I was finished with the exam, so I went back through and checked those… Then I decided that it might be a good idea to go ahead and check all of the questions.

I ended up changing several answers, and I don’t know if those were good moves or bad moves, except on two questions where I realized that in one, they had used “all” in the answer I had chosen (which typically indicates that it is NOT the correct option) and then the other one, where I had somehow skipped the word “exclusion” in a different answer, and that made it the correct choice. Otherwise, I might have been changing right answers into wrong ones. Reviewing the questions squeezed every last drop of thought process I had left. My brain felt like it had been pushed through a strainer. Probably half of the questions, I just thought, “Is this material something to which I have ever been exposed??”

At the end of the testing process, there were a series of optional survey-type questions I took. Then all of a sudden, it said, “Your test results will appear on the next screen…” then some blah blah about how that didn’t guarantee anything. I hadn’t realized I’d be given the results in such an immediate fashion. That fight-or-flight blood-drain from the legs that happens the second you realize that, yes, that cop IS pulling you over happened. I nervously clicked and scanned the page for the magic number (because there were a lot of them).

I had to make a 70% to pass the test. I had made… 70%. Exactly. Which would be a C in school, and totally unacceptable for me. Unless it was in business math. I gave myself leniency in that one. And PE.

Relief washed over me, and I started to cry. I tried to suck it up, not wanting to disturb anyone else, or have them think that I had failed the test. I gathered up my pencils and paper and headed out to the proctor’s desk. As I put it down, she looked up at me and I had to tell her, “I’m sooo happy. I’ve had the worst day, but I just passed my test.” She broke into a big grin, then cocked her head, and asked, “Can I give you a hug?”

She got up from her desk, rounded it to where I was, and hugged me. “You deal with so much bad; it’s great to have something good happen. Good for you.”

So now I just have to try not to lose that notarized paper before I apply for my license. What are the odds?

Here’s the story of a lovely lady…

A gal walks in to a leasing office…

Nah, we need a straight start. After months of planning and paperwork and recreational vehicle marketing, today was the day I was to sign my lease and move into my apartment.

The leasing agent needed a couple of minutes, so I sat in the lobby, trying to dig my check book from the recesses of my Josh-Tesh-called-me-insecure-ly large purse.

As she was finishing up, she called out, “Have you had your electricity switched over yet?”

I said, “Um… no. Do I need to?”

“In the next couple of days.”

“But that’s included in the rent, right?”

“No. You’re responsible for that.”

“When I came in, the first lady I talked to told me that it was included.”

She could see that I was getting upset.

“Oh, Laura. I’m sorry. Come on in…”

I said, “I can’t afford the rent here plus utilities.”

She said something about trying to get my deposit back, but my head was already a million miles away. It was swimming through the muddy goo of trying to figure out whether I should backpedal or plow ahead. I’d already sold the trailer. I had a car full of stuff for the new apartment. A friend had half of an apartment full of furniture that she’d planned to give me. She’d kept it in her house for weeks and weeks, waiting for me to get moved in.

Some people had come in to talk about renting, and she said she’d be right with them. She was trying to close the door, I assume because she didn’t want them to see me crying and have it reflect poorly on their establishment. Maybe she thought that I cared. I didn’t.

“I have to go outside.”

I sat down on a curb to think, but my head wouldn’t work. I called my best friend and got voice mail. Funny how that works. Duh. I should ask God.

“What do I do?” I asked him. “You have to fix this for me.”

That was my first instinct: we’ve come this far; I go through with it, and trust that God will straighten it all out. He can provide, if this is where we are supposed to live.

But as I repeated, “What do I do? What do I do?” I got a couple of things, and they were consistent with each other:

1) When you thought rent included utilities, the price of this place was still about $100 more than you felt entirely comfortable spending. You could swing it, you knew, by cutting out all superfluous spending and maybe picking up more shops. But the $100 was a source of mild stress; think about how much more $200 is going to be. Plus, think of the money you still need to spend on beds, book shelves, night stands, etc.

2) Remember what you told someone today? About what a Type A you are, but how you have packed nothing yet? Even knowing you have to be out by Monday night? You haven’t packed. You don’t have to move back in. You’re already home.

Eventually, I went back inside without knowing exactly what I was going to do. The girl was still with the new people, and I heard her tell them that they had to pay electric and water. I wish she had been the one who’d me with me initially. That woman is on vacation until Tuesday. That woman is going to talk to me again, and here’s why.

When the people finally left, I went back into the girl’s office. She said, “I talked to my manager, and she said that we can try to get your deposit back, but she’s not sure that we can.”

Right then, I realized that I didn’t want to live with these people. Oh, they’ll get my deposit back. I placed that deposit with them in good faith that the verbal representations made to me were true. Also, half of the deposit was a pet deposit, and my cats have never entered the premises.

So I just stood up and walked out. She apologized down the entry way behind me, and I just looked at her and said, “I sold my trailer. I was supposed to move in today.”

That doesn’t even make sense. But it’s what I said.

When I got home, I texted my trailer buyer and returned his deposit on eBay. I apologized. He was very disappointed. I apologized again.

I went to PetSmart and returned the litter box and the cat perch. I went to Wal-Mart and returned the microwave and shower curtains. I kept the toilet paper. That’s always a wise purchase.

And as I did these things, I calmed down. People called. They texted. They reached out. I felt a calm about not having to stretch my budget to the limit. I was glad that my weekend opened up so much. I have an important day tomorrow and am glad that I will just have the important on which to concentrate, and not purchasing furnishings. I have a mystery shop on Sunday, and am going to see a friend I rarely see anymore. It will be a good day.

Walking out with my fun and healthy groceries (I spent more than I usually do, but I wanted to get some good stuff that Daphne would happily eat, considering it a treat), I felt peace. All was well.

Daphne is disappointed, but she was disappointed when I told her we were going to move. She eventually did what we all do, which is adapt and then adopt. She loves the trailer, though.

I love the trailer. Apparently not all of my friends feel comfortable there, and that is where my major disappointment lies. I was looking forward to having friends visit me and feel as much at home at we did. As we do, even in our special little box. That is the one thing that saddens me still.

We have been in the trailer for nearly a year. I applied for a job as a dorm advisor in August, ready to commit to that for a year. But right now, it feels like a year’s commitment might be too long. That God might have something planned that I don’t expect, and I should be free for that. Maybe that’s just the coping mechanism kicking in.

Whatever it is, we’re officially still trailer trash. Thanks for riding with us…

While there used to be a TCBY in Sherman, Texas, there has been no soft-serve frozen yogurt option since I moved here in 2004, unless you count Braum’s, which I don’t. (Good ice cream, but chocolate and vanilla swirl yogurt doesn’t cut it.)

Suddenly — boom! Within a few weeks of each other, two self-serve frozen yogurt shops open, and there was much rejoicing.

The YogurtStory concept was familiar to me. In fact, several years ago, I looked into franchising one here, when it became clear that I was not going to win a free TCBY franchise.

Wait- what? You didn’t know about that? Yeah. TCBY gave away a store. It ended up going to Northwest Arkansas, but I tried.

Now that there appear to be two early-on successful yogurt stores here, it seems like TCBY really missed an opportunity to reintroduce their product to a fro-yo desert. But I digress.

The Yogurt Story franchise was too rich for my blood, but I was excited to see one opening here, regardless. Daphne and I visited it last week and loved it. Yogurt Story is located in the little island between Loy Lake and the 75-frontage road just north of Cracker Barrell, Whataburger, Taco Cabana, etc. It is in the same strip mall with T-Mobile, FedEx, and one of the three or four mattress places in that vicinity.

Later that day, I went to Hastings and saw the Cherry Berry store. It wasn’t open yet. But it opened that weekend. So, of course, we visited it, too. It’s in the strip mall on Peyton and Texoma Parkway with Hastings, Little Caesar’s, and Lady Nautilus.

Sorry for no pictures; both times, we were in between work and D’s gym, so we just enjoyed the yogurt and flew. However, these were our impressions:

BOTH – Simple concept: Get your own one-size cup, get your own yogurt – as much or as little as you want, but you’re, of course, tempted to fill the fairly large up – get your own toppings, weigh that sucker, and pay for it.

YOGURT STORY – Love the clean lines and spring-fresh color concept. Lots of white and light green. Minimalistic. There were two freezers that were out of order that day, so the selection was about 3/4 of what it typically would be. Each machine has two flavors that I am assuming are selected to be complementary so you can swirl them. Our favorites were peanut butter and red velvet cake. The toppings here are in bins and you spoon them out onto your yogurt. Everything is weighed, and the cost is $.35 per ounce.

CHERRY BERRY – Really bright red and green, which was a little over-the-top for my rods and cones… until I went into the bright magenta restroom and it became unbearable. This store as a whole and the restroom specifically was not as clean as Yogurt Story. All of their freezers were working, but most of them were turned down to too low a temperature. The yogurt was so frozen that it did not want to come out of the extruders, and we grew tired of waiting for some of the flavors we wanted to sample to come out and just moved on. Daphne’s favorite flavor here was Snickerdoodle, and mine was Kettle Corn. The store here has three big-screen televisions and a nice, loud sound system playing music. It was too much for me. Daphne zoned out to Nick cartoons while we ate; I’d rather have had a conversation with her. Also, the credit card reader wasn’t up and running yet, and the very nice lady told us that she was sorry she hadn’t caught us to tell us that before we started getting our yogurt. “If you don’t have cash, it’ll just be on us today.” Made me wish I hadn’t had cash. I usually don’t. What was I thinking? Anyway, their price is $.39 per ounce.

Overall, we prefer Yogurt Story. Although many of the flavors overlap, it seemed that Yogurt Story had more interesting choices (despite two freezers being out), and an overall higher quality of flavors. Then again, it could be that we could just taste the yogurt at Yogurt Story better because it wasn’t overly-frozen. I personally am tired of the influx of televisions everywhere, especially eating establishments. We don’t eat in front of the television at home, and I don’t want to do it in public, either. We have enough screen time (case in point!) during the day. I like to enjoy my food with conversation.

Cherry Berry has their grand opening March 8 at 5:30 PM. I’m guessing that they will eventually work out some of the bugs and I will, of course, stop by again. For now, though, Daphne and I agree: Yogurt Story.

I’ve used what SHOULD be called Color Expert in the past, but there have been two changes since that time, so I’m going to review the hair color and tell you what has changed, and why I think it’s better now.

First of all, to all of my many hair-stylist friends and family: I know it is so much better and healthier to have hair colored in a salon by a professional. But I am, unfortunately, both poor and cheap, and I have to do this at home. I apologize for the offense.

Secondly, I’m so cheap that I typically don’t buy this product unless it’s on super sale and I have a coupon, or I have a special event. All of which happened to be the case this time.

As you can see, there is a lot of stuff in this box. This is a two-step process. The first one is pretty straight-forward; it’s regular hair color.

Roots first. I like this color because it’s not too thick or gloppy, but it’s not so runny that it drips and makes a mess. After ten or fifteen minutes of that, I put the all-over color on, then left that for ten minutes.

Here’s the Trailer Trash part: When I rinsed the color out, I did it with cold water, because I wanted to leave our massive 10 gallon hot water tank full for when I actually showered after the highlight rinse. Consequently, I was on my knees, leaning over the side of the tub, shower sprayer adjusted to “massage,” blasting the tar out of my head with water that was refrigerator-level cold. This did nothing productive for my already-existing headache, and it makes me think that people who purposefully engage in “polar bear” activities are cuckoo nutzo crazycakes.

The first thing that is different from before is that the highlight mixture it now tinted blue, so that it’s easier to see when you’re “striping” your hair.

The other thing that has changed is that, previously, the highlighting came with this wand, which reminds me of a mascara brush. The problem for me is that, having extremely fine hair, the bristles here would tangle and pull out my hair in clumps. It was difficult to get any kind of even coverage, or to control the highlight streak much at all. I was too busy trying not to cry from scalp yanking and damage.

The improvement?

A wonderful finger brush thingy!

This made it SO much easier to pull the color through the strands. Since I have a layer hair cut (necessary due to the fact that I fried my hair back in July, bleaching it to color it pink for the Harry Potter premier), I pulled my top layer up, did a round of stripes in the long hair, then put the rest of my hair down and colored it at the part and around my face. I leaned over and used up most of the rest of the color on the underside for interest, then used the left-over stuff on my gloves to kind of frost the ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was pretty pleased with the results, but I will make one caveat here at the end. The label categorizes this as a “red.” The actual name is “Ginger Twist; Light Golden Copper Brown.” But I think that is should be listed as a “brown” with the actual name, and it would all be fine.

Regardless, I like the way that it turned out. In fact, I’m blogging this at a cafe near D’s gym as I wait for her to get finished (because our home internet is all messed up), and a girl just walked past me, patted me on the shoulder, waited for me to take out my earbuds (which I wear in public  even when I’m not listening to anything, because I like to discourage people from talking to me), and said, “I REALLY like your hair.” So, I guess this stuff works just fine.