Saturday, May 31, 2008

Home Is where Your Wine Is Sweetest

They tell me that wine is the new tobacco in North Carolina. Honestly, when I heard that, I was surprised they didn’t think of wine in North Carolina way, way, way longer than this… Coming from the rolling hills of the Romanian Moldova, I can tell you: grapes love hills and they love sunlight. Maybe not this much sun and humidity, but they can work with it. And boy, after today, can they so work with it!!

This Saturday, I volunteered, on behalf of the Greensboro Jaycees, to help wine makers at the recent NC Wine Festival in Winston-Salem. Funny: Winston, one of the former cigarette kingdoms, now hosting the wine festival: things are turning around indeed.

My job didn’t involve much, so I had plenty of people watching time. And let me tell you: I have not done this much people watching since I was in New Orleans. I am not kidding!

It was interesting to see such a colorful crowd:

- youngsters, barely legal to drink, punk rock locks and all;

- college freshmen sporting new tanning bed tans for the summer;

- geeks sporting colorless skin and pimples;

- sophisticated” wine connoisseurs on rants about the “nose” and the “legs”, the “bouquet” of every sip of wine they had – much to the dismay of the simple wine seller who just ferments the apples and the blackberries and the grapes, for God’s sake, and who adds with rolling eyes, under his breath: “why the hell do you wanna be so damn tight-ass pretentious about the damn thing; we’s simple folks, we just squish grapes”;

- plain, down to earth people who are just here for something to do on a Saturday;

- and, of course, to remind you you’re not in Napa nor in Tuscany, … rednecks, oh Lord, so many rednecks!! Those folks add the local color. For sure!

And no, I am not being judgmental, it’s what they were, and they would agree with me.

Where but in the South do you find a wine buyer, Harley tank top and all, visor and mullet haircut, sleeves of tattoos on his arms, huge, and I mean enormous bald eagle silver ring on the middle finger, saying when asked for the address: “15 Main Street, Remington, VA – Remington, just like the rifle” (make your own “flat i” pronunciation here)?!

Another customer was wearing a Rebel flag t-shirt, proudly, over his beer gut (should beer guts even be allowed at the wine festivals?), with the inscription: “If this flag offends you, you need a history lesson”. No comment on that one.

And let me tell you: I have never, in one day, in 4 hours, been called “hon” and “sweetheart” more in my entire life! I was everyone’s “hon” and “sweetheart”. They thanked me, and asked me for directions, and sweethearted me to death. I was sweethearted out at the end of the day!!

Other sightings worth mentioning are the many, many very pregnant women fighting the close to 90 degree and no breeze heat to taste wine. I was not able to carry myself around, in that heat; I didn’t want to add too much wine to make my legs even heavier, but they were troopers: baby in the tummy and happily tasting wine!

Then, another questionably appropriate finding: this guy, with a baseball hat that reads “The king of beers”… Hhmmm… Again: should that be allowed??

Now, a word about the wines, of course.

As you’d expect, there is so much work involved in making wine. But what shocked me today was the legalities involved in it all! What I found the most surprising is that the rules are not so strict because this industry produces goods for human consumption. No, the FDA and the USDA does not get involved much. They don’t care what we drink: have at it, and die, who cares!! The rules are strict, because the sale of alcohol is involved. Alcohol, remember? The big, bad, devilish evil that blurs your judgment and turns you into a monster. Is it the Bible belt? Or just Puritan America? Or a little bit of both? Again: for someone that grew up on wine, and whose dad made wine in the house, ever since I can remember, this is truly mind blowing to me. The alcohol restrictions, of course, have always been mind numbing to me in this country. And law people still don’t seem to understand that the more you forbid it, the sweeter the fruit.

The wine makers not only have to come up with these extensive researches, done by professional oenologists, that talk about the content of nitrogen they use, and the carbon dioxide in the wine, but they also, pay taxes on what they make on the wine according to the percentage of alcohol each bottle has. “You get people drunk faster, wham! bigger punishment for ya’! That’ll teach ya’!” And when you think Jesus Himself turned water into wine you really find no explanation.

The Native Vines (the first Native winery in the nation – owned by Lumbee Indians in Lexington, NC) wine maker and owner told me that some of her blackberry wine will want to ferment and be about 24% alcohol when it’s done, but she “has to stop it”, because that’s too high.

I was amazed at how much these apparently simple folks, mostly from rural areas, know about the science of wine making. They have to know, because they have to produce research for the lawmakers. If they don’t learn themselves, they’ll have to pay someone to put together the papers so they can stay in business. But in a small production, family-owned winery like Native Vines that means the mom, the wine maker, went to those classes. And she has to also produce all the paperwork necessary to stay open and support her family. It’s painstaking. They’re not “just grape squishers” after all.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the wineries I visited had not only one, but a variety of sweet wines. My European pallet is always in search for sweet wines, mostly Muscat and Ottonel, which I find very hard to come by around the States. I find that the wine drinker of this continent favors dryer wines, like Chardonnays and Cabs, maybe Merlots, rather than sweet, fruity wines. Well, I tasted wines from maybe 10-12 wineries today, and each one of them had at least 3-4 varieties, red and white of sweet wines. Some of them were fruit wines (strawberry, peach and blackberry, mostly), but most of them were grapes. I think this was my first wine tasting where I even saw “Muscat” on the label. That’s what plenty of sun will do to the grape: turn it ever so sweet. I am in the right part of the world, then - I thought.

Quirky wine tasters and all, bad music and bad haircuts, scorching heat and burnt skin, it was a great day, all in all.

I was happy to help, even in the least bit, and I was happy to find some of the sweetest wines I’ve tasted. Some of these wineries, I’ll revisit, I am sure, on my weekend trips. Most of them do not have distributors, as the industry in this state is still in its baby years. So the only way to buy their production is to knock on their doors and ask for it. But I am so glad and so grateful that they’re this close to home.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Work Ethics

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar." (Drew Carey)

We have all been through this. Times when we hate our jobs or something related to it (the boss, the company, the co-workers, the team, etc), that is. For whatever reasons, and the reasons are too many to spend time here on them, we have all seen it before … But no matter how much they suck (the reasons, that is), and no matter what we see in our jobs, when we decide to “stay” and not to “flee”, should we not also, as free thinking and deliberating adults, make a commitment that we must do a good job at it? Or at least a decent one? Should we not at least close the door of that sucky office at night saying “I did the best I could, but oh, well”?!

I have never considered myself a “career woman”. I look at my job as giving me purpose, and giving me a source of income. It has to match my skills and I have to find enjoyment in the time I spend there. It also has to teach me something new, if not every day, at least every week. It has to enrich me, somehow. Otherwise it’s a waste of time. It must not fill up my entire day, and my entire cranium. At 5 PM, if possible, with very few exceptions, I want to close that door, lock it, move into my “real life” for the evening, and then unlock it the next day.

My job is not something I plan to tell my nieces and nephews about, when I am old and gray, and sit around the Christmas fire with them. It’s not something that it will necessarily go in my “life resume”. My trips, sure; my relationships and friendships, absolutely; my picture albums, most definitely; my job – just as a background mention.

But when I spend (so much) time on it, every day, I try to give myself 100% to it. Otherwise, what is the purpose of going? Sooner or later “they” will find out you’re not doing a good job, don’t you think? And one day, we all need references. It would be nice to know they will be available…

Our company announced in the first week of this year that it’s being sold. Our Publisher told us to pretend that we never heard that announcement. I did that. I tried to do that. But everyone seems to have listened to it, VERY carefully, and to milk all the bitterness out of it … And no one cares about the tasks at hand anymore.

The tune of the day, in the building, at every level, is “who cares?”. Everyone is behind, everyone does a half-ass job, and everyone is rhetorically asking “ who cares??”. And it’s driving me batty!

Loose ends everywhere, and past due assignments, and work-around-s instead of true fixes, when fixes are available, and budgets ignored, because we’ll let the “future owners worry about them”, and all swimming in the dolce-far-niente of the soup called with a shrug “who cares?”.

And the sad part about it to me is that it’s not the news of the sale makes my job sucky; and not the repeated lay-offs, not the volatility of my job, and the insecurity about tomorrow, either. It’s this “who cares? – I’m a slacker!” attitude that drives me nuts.

I feel like sending an “Everyone” email that will tell people to grow up or get the hell out. Because I surely feel like I am working with toddlers, and not adults anymore.

I guess mom was right: “In America people are worried only about themselves”. They don’t want to do gratuitous things, just to promote “good karma”. Their future is threatened, they sabotage the threatening “Now”.

And I am, again, a misfit. Because the way I look at it is this: the present, and the future will do, whatever they will do, and I have no control over those. But I have to be myself, 100%, in happy times and bad. And myself cannot allow herself to be a slacker. Myself is a hard working, conscientious and ethical worker in happy times and threatening times. The environment has nothing to do with my core and with who I am – which is more important to ME than what the future and the present want to do with me.

I could not go to sleep at night if I knew my core, my true self was not out there, day in and day out. In sickness just as in health.

10 years from now, I will meet these people and to me, they’ll forever be slackers. The circumstances of today all long forgotten and gone, they will come to my mind as what they are today: self-absorbed, vengeful, lacking any kind of work ethics, ultimate slackers. That’s what will stay.

But, as the minority, I am subdued! And once again, a slave. And in the meantime, till emancipation comes, I’ll wait at the bar.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"The Diaper Club"

Yeah, you knew this was coming: the entries (I suspect many) where I talk about my new nephew and “my” new mom, my sister … They both crack me up, and make me happy, and sad, and worry-ful and all in all excited every second of every day!

By the way, this is what my sister calls her house now: “The Diaper Club”. So, when she emails us now, she says “ So, here is the latest from The Diaper Club, here in Canada”. So, I allowed her to name this bloggy “series” – since it’s all about her, or because of her and her husband that it came to life …

Every day, I am waiting, with bated breath, for the next piece of news about the baby and about the mom… I never do anything, it seems, anymore, without them in mind. I am 5 months away from them coming to visit me and I am already getting the house ready for Patrick!

Bored in the NICU. "I wanna go home already!"

So, after the three weeks in NICU, Patrick came home – still very much advanced for his preemie self. He eats on his own, and other than a funky haircut where they chopped off his locks to stick IV’s in his head, he is beautiful and healthy looking! (He’ll tell me one day that “beautiful” is for girls, but till then: he is beautiful!!).

First car ride: "I am smiling, 'cause I get to go home! Hooray!!"

Every day, I cannot wait to find out what new things they both learn: her about babies and being a mom, and him about everything. I used to love teaching because I enjoyed opening up kids’ eyes to new and exciting things. Now, I can do it vicariously through the two of them.

EVERYTHING he does amazes my sister, or worries her …

He doesn’t cry much, but just like the rest of our families, he talks a LOT! In his own baby babble, which is more like random and squirmy noises, but he is vocal. I was fortunate enough to hear him yesterday, over the phone. Those noises made him sound so real. My sister added, bitterly: “Oh, trust me, sister, he’s real, all right!!” (we’re all bitter in my family, that’s part of our charm).

Of course, his simple and cute (to me) baby talking worries my sister. Just like his face turning too pink one day, or his "white saliva” ("milk" would be my guess, but hey, I am no mom), or his chewing on his fists worry her too, since he must be hungry … She asked puzzled yesterday: “Why does he do THAT? That noise - like a frog. Why does he sound like that? What if he’s sick?” I tried to explain to her, he’s probably bored and wants to chat, and that’s his way of saying “Hey, I am here, pay attention to me. I am awake! Keep me company!”. Or maybe he has an air bubble and he’s just telling her that. Or maybe he needs more noise and less light around him – who knows?!? Let him talk!

She then worries he eats too little, and he’s not taking in what the book says he should at this time in his life. I told her he’s probably still adjusting to being home – a new environment and new noises or lack of for him. Let him eat as much as he can handle for right now, new place and bad mood and all.

Then, there is the bath. Is she OK to do it by herself? Is she going to hurt him? Or do it thoroughly?!? I admit: the bath would scare me too! Too bad they don’t have “grooming for babies” at Babies-R-US like they have for puppies at PetsMart. Now, that would make someone some money!

Oh, the joys of first time parenthood! You can imagine: when you’re not sure whether you’re helping – or hurting more. And all you have to go by are some wooden language books and your still forming instincts. It cannot be easy, I am sure …

I can see how she’s torn between worry and utter love all mixed up with amazement …

Sometimes I worry that she’s going to take him back to the hospital just like you return the TV set: “I am sorry, ma’am, this one is making funny noises, like a frog, can you give me a quieter baby, please?!”. I kid, of course, because I love!

I love her so much, and I hope that my being away, and being somewhat detached from the whole hysteria of the moment she's in can bring her some calm, and someone “neutral” to turn to … I hope so. I know, she will be OK. She is a strong woman, and a bright one, too. She has a great husband, who’s there 110% of the time. She has all of us who support her, and try to be there for her, with either a piece of advice, or a sympathetic ear, when she frets he doesn’t get enough milk, or enough formula.

And I hope she will be able to look ahead, and realize that he won’t be a baby for long, and oh, 10 years from now, when he’ll want a cell and an Ipod and a trip to Paris for the summer, she’ll want to be back to where she is today, where all he is is cute and with fewer needs: like to be clean and fed.

Just like other millions of babies, he’ll be raised in love, and worry, and wonder of “what’s tomorrow going to bring”.

And every day surely is interestingly new when you have a baby. For them and for us, too!

Finally, home. "Where are the ends of this BIG crib??" - too tiny for the crib, but so comfy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

To Find Oneself, One Must Travel – A Camping Trip in the Spring

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
(Frank Lloyd Wright)

Did you know that cardinals eat bacon? I swear they do! Got a picture to prove it!

Did you know that raccoons are so friendly as to come visit within 5-6 feet from humans and a burning fire? My dad always told me that fires scare creatures. Apparently not raccoons. Either that or the smell of food is worth the risk to them.

Did you know that oak trees have some of the most beautiful blooms in the late spring? I guess they’re always so tall and majestic, we don’t get a chance to live at “eye-level” with them, and we forget they are actually blooming trees …

I found out all these and so much more this weekend, on my recent camping trip to Kerr Lake. The lake is claimed by both VA and NC as a huge body of water lying just off of I-85 on the border of those states. The park is huge, perfect for the water sports folks, but also perfect for the more laid back campers who would like to just commune with nature for a day or two.

I have been at war with my spirit, my mind and body all year, trying to find the right track, and trying to refill my batteries. No matter what relaxation technique I have tried, it’s not getting me there. And just as Lloyd Wright says and as I have known my entire life, “nature never fails me”. Nature gives me time and space to do nothing but to listen to myself.

Awake, at night, in a tent in the middle of the woods, with waves splashing the lake shores, and owls carrying on their frightful and menacing conversations, crickets calling each other by name (thanks, A.), and lizards and frogs jumping through dead leaves just within a earshot of my tent, under a black sky full of stars and a semi-full moon you have nothing to distract you or carry you away. You’re alone, and exposed. Nothing between you and the elements but a flimsy piece of cloth. And there, “naked” and exposed, and quiet, with no distractions, you have only yourself to answer to. And you figure out a plan. Only there, I could find my peace. Only there, I could empty out my murky brain filled with disappointment and loaded with pain, clean it out, sanitize it and fill it back up with nothing but fresh air. It was like spring cleaning for my whole being.

I try to take very little of the civilized world with me when I camp, and luckily, my camping buddy did the same. He didn’t even bring a fire starter fluid. He wanted to build a fire the good ol’ way, and as you can see in the pictures, we didn’t lack fire at all.

Mohandas Gandhi says that “to forget how to dig the earth and to tend to the soil is to forget ourselves”. So is to forget how to make a fire, I believe. The most basic skill of survival in the wild. And thank you, A., for forgetting the lantern! It was in the stars, or should I say "in the moon", as it was plenty bright!

The only drawback to the whole nature experiment, is, you guessed it: humans! Humans who seem to compete with each other over who pollutes the nature more: bigger trucks, bigger campers, bigger boats and noisier too… That’s the letdown of a State Park camp ground: you get to share it with humans. And not only that: they also bring radios, and cells which go off when you least want them to. Even hair dryers.

But I could very well block off their presence, and just enjoy our stories around the fire, and the woods, and the swishy wind through the young oak leaves, and the woodpeckers, cardinals and squirrels. I could have watched them all and listened to the wind and the waves for 10 more days. I was too thirsty for it all, and the random “human made” noises were not to interfere with my healing, and they didn’t.

Even the food helped. Mainly, we fed on basic things: meats, potatoes, corn and beans, and we somehow got everything perfectly cooked by throwing everything in the fire. Not too much work, not a stove, not too much cooking, nor trash. Paper plates were added to the fire, for cleanup. So were paper cups.

I hope the Earth can say we didn’t disturb it much. I would hate it if we did. Maybe a couple of dead ants, but those happen.

I drifted away from the lake more peaceful and quieter. I even drove slower, and I came home to a nap. My skull seems to be an empty pot again, fresh and clean, ready to be filled up by whatever the springs of life have in store for me for the rest of the year. The batteries are full; and the bucket is cleansed.

One last thought came to mind while I was thinking about the getaway on my ride home: this is my parting thought for you: from William Blake:

“ To see a word in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
An eternity in an hour”.

Click here for pictures, and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A 'Makes-No-Sense' World

I used to work with this gentleman; he was one of my favorite people in the world to work with. Very impatient, and brilliant, and after a while you kind of understood what he meant by the way he fluttered his arms and frowned his brows. Impatience is what we had in common. He used to say this when things got a tad fuzzy (and for him, a man of order and a control freak, as myself, that happened a lot), in the sweetest Southern accent you’ve ever heard: “This don’t make no sense!”. (followed by puzzled frown)

There was something endearing and although pretty helpless and hopeless, also re-assuring about it.

I thought of him often this week, as I seemed to come across quite a few things that, well… “don’t make no sense”…

Here’s to B.:

Shin splints. I have never heard of shin splints till I moved to America. Just like I never heard of a pink eye, nor removal of your wisdom teeth. Those are American afflictions, I figured, and I have trouble defining them to my parents. But shin splints are different. Shin splints, in seems, are excuses for people not to exercise nowadays. Sure, we all know the “real” excuses: it’s the diabetes, or the thyroid, or whatever … legitimate, sure. At least it sounds like it But when you look healthy, and you check out healthy, and the doc’s telling you, get out and RUN, you have no escape. No excuse. But, like a good old friend you can rely on, here they are: you’ll always have shin splints!

I am still fuzzy on what they actually are… But I know a handful of people who have them! According to my personal statistics, for every 10 Americans you know, there are about 8 with shin splints! It’s an epidemic.

And when I started wondering if it’s actually a disease that has some claim to existence was this weekend: mom and teen son are running in the park. Mom’s giving up and saying to son: “You go ahead! I’ll walk. I can’t”. Son in disappointed and asks: ”Why can’t you?”. She goes: “I don’t know. I guess shin splints”. She “guesses”. She’s not sure. But hey, she needs a diagnosis, right now and here, or else she cannot convince herself that she is medically unfit to run – and that’s the best excuse of all … Oh, be aware of those splints, man! They sound serious!

On the same “medical” note: I don’t get the pregnancy test commercials presented by … oh so confident … men. Oh, “it’s 99.99% accurate. It works in the most cases. Plan your life according to them”. Because why? YOU - A GUY – tried them and they worked?? For you?! – NOT!!!! Wow! What are they thinking??!!

At the bookstore the other day. I browse the bargain shelf, and I find a book for children titled “My First Words”. This is a book for toddlers, and all pictures, to teach them to say their first (mind you) words. On the cover of this book there is the picture and the name of a “tricycle”. And I sit there in awe. This kid is just now learning how to say “mom” and “dad” and “cat” and “dog”, maybe “apple”, probably “bee”. But I am not sure “tricycle” would make the cut as one of the “first” words I would want my kid to learn! And then we’re whining the kid has an issue with everyone wanting them to be perfect! Self-esteem and stuff. Society!!! No sense, I tell you!

And this is from The Master Himself. Shakespeare, that is:
“Isn’t it odd that desire lasts so much longer than the ability to perform?”. (Henry IV)
Humanity’s oldest question, isn’t it?! Still puzzled!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Single Life

Ah! What a day to day affair life is. (Jules Laforgue)

Days come and close with the exactness of a clock.

Rearview mirror, but no reverse. Just straight drive. That’s what life is, after all, isn’t it?!
Filling up time and hours with the solitude of a single life’s plans: groceries, walk in the park, yoga mat, feed the cats, pay bills, call family during the weekend, meet random friends for dinner during the week, work.
Nothing more. Nor less.

A year of coming of age. Maybe more than a year. Maybe immensely more than a year. And of finding that foothold once again.

For ten years now, I feel like I have been moving along pushed in one direction or another by men who have entered and exited my life. For the first time, I feel free and swimming on my own. I’ve been floating, mostly, this year. But I feel, for the first time, in the freshness of a spring afternoon, watching the playful and free geese in the park, that I am slowly swimming, not just letting myself float. Baby strokes, yet, but I am swimming…

Not sure yet where I am headed, but as long as my breath keeps me alive and my arms above water, I’ll continue to swim.

There is literally no limit to what you can do with yourself when you’re single. You have no one to wake up in the morning for, no one to ask for permission to listen to music, nor anyone to ask what they would like to have for dinner. No one to clean after in the bathroom, either …

The walk in the park seems endless. Could be endless. No one but the cats to come home to. And the cats can surely wait for days. Maybe I’ll do a movie today, but I am not bound by any commitments, so, I might skip it – with no remorse.

The visit to the bookstore, or to Hallmark has no time boundaries, either. Why should they?! As my friend, A., said: “I am free to just ‘be’”. And I am taking full advantage of that, trust me!
The weekend is wide open, a white canvas waiting to be smeared. Dinner could be leftovers, or sushi from the Harris Teeter counter, or a burger and fries at the neighborhood pub.

Like swimming in a calm lake. Being in a relationship, I guess, would be swimming in marshes, thick and full of algae, the mud and vegetation dragging you down. But the water lilies and lotuses smell so good!

I can sit on my back porch and watch my petunias, and lilac tree, and azaleas, and lilies, and carnations for hours. No one inside to call me in for lunch. Or dinner. Or ever.

And this no-commitments and no-strings life is so curative. So stripping you down to bare bones to ask you every day: “do you like what you see in the mirror?”. You have plenty, way plenty opportunities (and time!!!) for this question to haunt you daily for sure! So therapeutic! Because the first pimple you see, it’s cleaning time!

The night falls calm, fresh and soft like a velvet veil … Over it all a saddening and deafening silence. It seems with no ending. But I secretly know that the sun will, in fact, rise again tomorrow, over a much similar new day. For now, I get lost in the night. A confused bird is trying to break the silence. So does a scared dog.

But other than that my soul is one with the silence. And the darkness. A lone soul, and quiet one, too. Submissive. Alone but not lonely. Enjoying the companionship of the darkness and the silence. Filling up with nothing but presence! Bountiful! And plump with life.

Thinking of people I once knew. And marshes I once floated over.

Friday, May 02, 2008

How I Lightened up my Friday

Thanks, C.!

I have been kind of down lately, and needed a good laugh. So, I emailed my friend C. because I know he has some ready made crack up joke and I’ll be guaranteed at least one chuckle. And he comes back with the story below. It was so good, it made me laugh so hard, I had to share it – with his approval, of course.

Sorry, C.! This made me think of Mr. Bean! And also: next time this happens, I am not sure lighting a match will be advised in that small room!

Enjoy, everyone!

Here's the basic story: I was at my friend J.'s house setting up for a church group function with a few friends. It was a co-ed group and there was one girl there that I'd been flirting with and was trying to impress.

Well, my stomach was a little upset that day and I found myself in the bathroom. I get this knock on the door and it's this girl, K., who needs to come in and use the bathroom after me. Of course, I was mortified that ANYBODY would have to come in the bathroom after me, especially in light of my upset tummy. I figure I'll light the candle on the back of the toilet, figuring the match would cover the odor.

I figure if there's a candle, there MUST be matches lying around somewhere. My first instinct is to check the medicine cabinet so I grab the mirror to open it and check. Well, the mirror doesn't pull to the side as I expected. It pulls up from the bottom. Now, at this point, most people would figure out that there isn't a medicine cabinet there at all. It's just a mirror. Not me.

I say to myself. "Hmmm. I've never seen a medicine cabinet open from the bottom before. That's kinda' cool." So I grab it from the bottom with both hands and lift up to get to the contents of the cabinet.

That's when the mirror pulls away from the wall entirely and I'm left holding a mirror and staring at the blank wall underneath. So now, instead of just having to deal with a smelly bathroom, K. has to deal with a smelly bathroom and no mirror above the sink in which to check her makeup or whatever! When I pulled the mirror, the little fasteners on the back came away entirely! I had to put the mirror on the floor. And I still haven't found matches!

So I'm tearing the place apart looking for matches and finally discover a pack in the closet. I light the candle and leave. Of course, NOW I have to explain why the mirror that used to be above the sink is now on the floor. And I can't lie. So I have to tell the whole story to the girl I was trying to hide it from in the first place! AND I have to call the owner of the house (who wasn't there at the time) to explain to him why he no longer has a mirror in his guest bathroom.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

J. (owner): "Hey, man. What's up?"
Me: "Hey, buddy. Listen, you know that medicine cabinet in your guest bathroom?"
J.: (Pause) "Um...I don't have a medicine cabinet in my guest bathroom.
"Me: "Exactly!"