An Open Letter to National Grid

Dear National Grid?

Did you know that you can take a train from London to Vladivostok? I bet you didn’t, because I just found that out today. See my friend shared this link, which reminded me that I’ve always wanted to do the trans-Siberian (railroad, not orchestra) and that’s when I learned you can ride trains from the UK to Almost North Korea (which I technically haven’t been to but I’ve seen their flag from the DMZ). Really the tricky part here is deciding where to go from Irkutsk. Do you go to Vladivostok for the bragging rights of having seen Russia from coast to coast (I’ve already been to St. Petersburg)? Or do you go to Mongolia, so that you can stay in a ger and have the bragging rights of having gone to Mongolia?

It’s really the most irrelevant way I could spend my time. Not only do I have homework I need to be doing, I can’t afford this trip. And after your 40% rate increase, I can’t afford my rent, my credit card payments, or food. I have to very carefully pick what I want to pay in whole, because when the electric bill for your one bedroom apartment is more than your weekly paycheck you can’t afford to make nice, big payments on anything.

National Grid, you are why I can’t get out of debt. The fact that my bill- which was never more than $60 before the November rate hike, even when I was using air conditioners- has jumped so high is impossible to handle. It is 29 degrees outside, as I write this. That makes it one of the warmer days. Our apartment has electric heat and is not very well insulated. We’ve weather-proofed our windows, we keep doors closed, we turn off everything we can when we aren’t using it, we use energy saving lightbulbs, but we need to keep our apartment at 60 degrees. Because that’s the lowest we can go and still feel comfortable in socks, slippers, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and bathrobes (all worn together, under a down comforter). I am student in an online graduate program, I need to use an (electrically powered) computer at home to keep up with my courses. Manbeast uses his for work. We need to charge our phones, we need to cook dinners on our electric stove. We would like to be able to use our overhead lighting and not do these things by candlelight, but we are reasonable people and are willing to negotiate.

We aren’t even home most of the day, and everything but the heat is turned off then! And we’re a two-income household!

Possibly a more energy efficient fridge or stove would help, and better insulation certainly would, but that is up to our landlord, and she has already denied a new stove request, and she put a new roof on to help with the insulation (so I can only imagine what it would have been like before).

I complained about you on Twitter and you told me to send a direct message! So I did. Well it’s been more than 72 hours without a peep out of your robbing mouths.

I spend a lot of time crying. I grew up being told that if I worked hard my dreams would come true. I’ve worked really hard since I was 16 (at non-school endeavors, though I work hard at them too). Those dreams involve travel, homeownership, guinea pigs, and mid-range alcohol. Like many in my generation, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that the world we were groomed to take over just doesn’t exist anymore. The narrative surrounding us has stayed the same- poor=lazy, but I am a full-time employee at an institute of higher education, a part-time grad student (so I can get a better job), and on the hunt for a part-time job. A part-time job I need to pay your outrageous bill. I may joke about being lazy because I won’t put real pants on when I don’t have to work, but I work hard.

And I’m one of the really lucky ones, because I don’t have student loans.

And today, I almost, ALMOST put a paypal donate button on my blog. But then I felt gross and dirty, because it’s not like Daddy Warbucks is reading this thing (unless he is, in which case please email me at… crap I forgot the email for this thing but I think it’s on my about page?). I can’t in good conscious ask people who are probably also struggling to donate anything to me.

I can ask a large, almost-monopoly of a company why they think it is ethical  to raise electric costs in New England during the time of year when you truly need electricity to survive. I can ask how this is even legal, though I know that’s a state/federal thing and you’re clearly doing it because you can. I can tell you that we needed to replace our mattress (after it stabbed me with a broken spring that had ripped a silver dollar sized hole in the mattress) and after I took what little extra money I had to go see my friend in NY and I cried for hours because I couldn’t get that train ticket money back and I never should have let myself think I could have a fun weekend away.

Those tickets were less than a $100, round trip. Significantly less than my bill with you. But you’ve taught me a really valuable lesson: You can’t have even tiny nice things unless you are very rich. “Going places” is one of those things I do to avoid feeling like I’m dying. I can’t afford the co-pay for therapy which would probably have the same affect.

So thanks for that, National Grid. I probably should have learned it by now.

You’re seriously ruining my life.

So National Grid, if you read this and feel the need to respond, well, first you can check your direct twitter messages. That’s where you TOLD me to reach out to you and so I did, so it would be pretty polite if you could respond. Try irreverent.internet at gmail. Or check my about page. Second, your process for logging into your online account is next to impossible and I have been trying since 930 this morning. Third, I should be able to heat my apartment without resorting to begging. Please look at your life, and look at your choices.

Sincerely,

A Very Unhappy Customer

I’m Flattered by Your Lies

Over the weekend I visited bestie, who works at a nature center. Prior to my visit she said to me: “omfg, we’re cleaning out our basement and there is so much shitty taxidermy and also a BABY DEER IN OUR FREEZER WHO JUST LEAVES THAT THERE*?” To which I made Mr. Burns hands and replied “could you perhaps score me some of this taxidermy?” It didn’t take much convincing that yeah, her best friend wanted some questionably-preserved dead animals to dress up in scarves and hats and maybe tutus. That’s how I ended up driving 300 miles with a fox and a bobcat in my backseat! I hope we surprised people at rest stops.

In case you ever wondered, this is how much mediocre taxidermy you can fit in the back of a Corolla when you are also transporting a lot of wine.

In case you ever wondered, this is how much mediocre taxidermy you can fit in the back of a Corolla when you are also transporting a lot of wine.

We might give the bobcat to my dad for father’s day. We might buy it a monocle and cherish it until we move out of this apartment and one of us screams at the other “fuck this fucking bobcat I am not carrying anything else down these goddamn stairs leave it for the new people.”

While friend and I were having an in-depth conversation about what my newly acquired taxidermy should wear, how I get eyeshadows out of baggies, and how we could kindly ditch our menfolk (if you think running three convos in person at once is impressive you should see what we can do online) bestie blurts out “You’re like the next Jenny Lawson!”

To which I naively said “Who is that?”

As my best friend, she has paid me a lot of compliments over the years (just this past weekend she said I was pretty AND smart but we were wine tasting so she was obviously drunk and lying), but this is BY FAR the most flattering thing anyone has ever said about me and I once had a fourth grader say she wanted to grow up to be JUST LIKE ME**.

So for starters, I am not the next Jenny Lawson, no matter how much taxidermy I manage to acquire between now and the end of the basement cleaning, because Jenny Lawson is STILL HAPPENING and will continue to be so for a very long time.

Second, how in the hell did I not hear about this woman before? Get over to The Bloggess and read everything, right now.

Third, I can only dream of having a taxidermy collection as strong as hers, but if anyone knows where I can get me some costumed rodents I’ll take anything that isn’t a guinea pig (because I think that would traumatize Manbeast too much… he still hasn’t forgiven me for threatening to eat Svinka).

Fourth, I showed Manbeast the box full of cobra post and he was like “it is you. She is you and I am her husband.” But we have way too few cats/cobras/children/marriages/bobcat heads to be them. He’s gone shopping with me for tombstones and post-mortem photography before though, so you’d think he knew what he was getting himself into.

I had also not heard of Brooke Shadden before combing through a bazillion Bloggess posts. Holy shit. Where has she been all my life? If I ever manage to start publishing fictions, I am going to beg her to do my book covers. Also her galleries might be NSFW because there are some artistic nipples here and there. Use your best workplace judgement.

*She knows the answer to this. People like my parents, who have had a frozen angelfish, ribbon snake, and shrew(s) in their freezer for as long as I can remember because they like to yell at me for “language” when I open up the freezer, get hit in the face with one, and shriek “Jesus Christ!”

**That child didn’t know that I live off cheesy noodles and can’t pay my electric bill, so really she had no idea what she was saying.

Galentine’s Day

After a lot of civic duties, fun travel, reconnecting with friends, and getting snowed in, I am FINALLY back at work! Hooray, routines!

Shiro Cosmetics has an ongoing Color of the Month program, selected by their customers! I don’t usually have good enough ideas to make suggestions but I think I nailed it for February: Galentine’s Day- in honor of the best holiday and the final season of Park and Recreation, a sparkly pink and purple eyeshadow that celebrates our lady friends and Leslie Knopes flawless sweater.

If you want to vote for my color (or any of the other perfectly adequate choices) you can vote HERE.

http://strawpoll.me/embed_1/3504675/r

If my suggestion gets picked I win nothing except bragging rights, but don’t I deserve to feel special?

Aromaleigh’s Sol Invictus Collection and General Roundup

Two Days left to buy Aromaleigh’s seasonal Sol Invictus collection! It will come back next winter but if you wanted to check it out this season you don’t have much time left!

I’m banging this out really quick so I don’t have swatch pictures, but my overall impression was that it was less pigmented than most of Aromaleigh’s other collections and was more of a frosty glitter finish. It wasn’t exactly what I had been expecting but I really liked it, it felt perfect for the holidays and the colors paired very well with different shadows.

Replacing the shadows will be the next seasonal collection, The Feast of Lupercal (I am having the frequently experienced problem of wordpress sites other than my reader being blocked as malicious so I can’t link to the blog post right now).

They are also offering a new subscription service: Ephemera. And damn if I don’t love that name (it’s my inner archivist). I will not be purchasing Ephemera, as I am in the process of getting a second job to cover my basic household needs (up yours, 40% electric increase from Nov-Mar) so a subscription box is just not in the budget, but if you head over to their Facebook page you can enter the raffle for a slot in the program (the slot is still a paid subscription, this system was just wisely enacted to avoid crashing the website).

Their Mythical Monster 2014-2015 collection continues to increase, and while we don’t know what February’s beast is, January was the Wendigo (the only color in the collection I don’t have at all… I went hard on Black Friday).

There is also the Asteriai Collection, another seasonal offering. I have not been able to purchase the collection (and may not get the chance before its season ends) but it looks great!

I’m back to school now, traveling out of town the next two weekends, picking up some part-time work in addition to the full-time, and job stalking a future retiree so my days are stuffed to the gills, though I still have a lot of Black Friday stuff to talk about. I’ll get there when I get there, I guess. In the meantime, I hope you’ll all bear with this sporadic posting!

Ten Three Labs Grand Reopening Collection

(Note: I wrote this post before I went to NYC and forgot to post it. The cat+finger trap situation was sorted for good this past trash day)

Ten Three Labs is ruining my life.

I didn’t get any sleep last night thanks to Ten Three Labs.

How could an indie makeup company possibly affect my ability to get a good night’s sleep? you ask.

Well you see, when my order of their Grand Reopening Collection arrived, a Chinese finger trap* was included and I think it was laced with catnip because it is my cat’s new favorite thing and I can’t hide it well enough from her.

So I spent last night listening to my cat pull this thing OUT OF THE TRASH and then prance around the room after it. When I got out of the shower this morning there she was sitting on my bed (she always startles me because I turn the light on and she’s just THERE with her intense eye contact) and the finger trap was on the floor. I picked it up and threw it on the bed and she just lost her fucking noodles going after that thing.

Come to think of it, she was just after every single thing I received in my order.

Then she tried to eat EVERYTHING

Then she tried to eat EVERYTHING

Ten Three Labs: They’ll ruin your life via cats.

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS THOUGH when they announced their Bob’s Burgers themed collection I said to myself “I’m interested but I have a lot of stuff so I won’t buy it unless they have an Electric Love color.” thinking that was kind of a long shot.

Jokes on me guys! And it’s my favorite color!

I purchased the sample size of the collection which included two scents, two smudge sticks, and twelve shadows.

Like my previous assessment of the shadows in the Bad Bitch collection, I liked the colors but found the payoff a little inconsistent. The darker ones especially went on thin and streaky with my brush, but were able to be built up nicely. I was an especially big fan of the blue tones, but aren’t I always? It also might be time for me to invest in a better brush. On January 15th the size of the shadow collections will be reduced based on sales figures, so if you really want something and aren’t sure if it will make the cut… get it now! As much as I like their shadows, this seems like a smart business move to me, as the area they really excel in are the scents.

Bells Bells Bells, The Buttler, Capoeira, Ehhhuagh

Elec

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The scents are great too. I now own three scents from Ten Three and am really impressed because everything smells exactly as it is advertised! Sometimes I get scents and when I take that sniff I just have no clue how any of the notes are actually in that hodgepodge. Always Carry Roses smells of roses. Organic Blueberries smells just like blueberries and hippies. I will be passing these along to a friend who is on the hunt for a scent that she can love and wear, I think she will like Organic Blueberries (she is a big fan of OHWTO’s Samovar scent).

I was worried about mailing the scents in the winter. I’ve had liquids in packages freeze and break their packaging/leak everywhere. I made a note with my order requesting that the scents NOT be sent if there was a freezing concern (we’ve had a pretty mild winter up here so far but you never know…). Discretion was used and the scents were included in my package and no harm was done to them or the rest of the order! Even if they had leaked they were in their own little baggie (a plastic one… they were also inside a nice little cloth baggie). I’m glad they were able to make it through the mail unharmed!

In my first order I tried one of the salve sticks, which I heartily enjoyed (it’s hanging out in my purse now!). The smudge sticks are tinted versions of the salve sticks, retaining the high peppermint scent. The colors are very nice, far less glossy than I expected them to be. I had swatches and now I can’t find the picture, but I did have this one of Hell Hath No Fury popped out of it’s sample case. I don’t know if they were supposed to do that but it meant I didn’t need a brush to apply them.

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This was a super fun collection with the perfect references to Bob’s Burgers. The next collection being released is Orphan Black themed, and I’m sad that I don’t have the money to make any makeup purchases for a long while. I really recommend checking Ten Three Labs out, especially for their scents.

*Is there a different/better name for these things?

NYC and the Longest Pigeon Analogy You’ve Ever Read

I spent New Year’s Eve in New York City! Sure, I avoided Times Square, but I get the travel event points, right?

I still watched the bar drop, just with a bunch of other people at a bar in Brooklyn.

Let’s back up though. This wasn’t the first time I’d technically been in NYC. I’d been to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes many years ago with my mom and grandmother, and in the not too distant past Manbeast and I visited the aquarium on Coney Island. Both fun, memorable trips, but very pointed in-out ordeals.

This trip, to visit a friend who had just moved to Brooklyn, was about catching up with people, visiting, and relaxing away from the stuff I’m usually around. It was also a solo vacation, I love those, but haven’t had any in awhile. So this trip was much needed and especially wonderful when I found out my current city has an Amtrak station and I don’t have to first find my way to Boston! The Amtrak takes you right into Penn Station, and from there it was just a matter of finding myself a G train. Despite assurances that I would be murdered and have all my earthly possessions looted from my corpse, the MTA was pretty basic and not terrifying. I made it to all my inter-NYC destinations with minimal hassle and zero injury or property loss. Huzzah!

To prepare for my trip I watched a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Broad City.

My dear friend The Folklorist is sublet-hopping and job hunting in the city who’s descriptors I have forgotten. We met out in Oregon and hadn’t seen each other in about a year so it was really great to meet up and catch up. She actually finished her Master’s at UO, in case you care.

Mostly we ate. That’s not a complaint, I love eating, and NYC has some amazing restaurants. We started our New Year’s Eve celebration at Northern Territory, an Australian (?) restaurant that was blessing all patrons who made reservations with complimentary bottles of champagne. We tried the mushroom bruschetta and I had the chicken schnitzel. Both were very tasty. The night was young so we headed out to another bar my friend was familiar with. We passed by the terrifying “Greenpoint Community Garden” (I question the accuracy of that sign, unless they really are growing old cars and stuffed animals) and I got hit with an Amtrak hangover. See, dinner was delicious, and I was still sober, but I hadn’t factored in something very important. My last piece of food was a snack cake I’d thrown in my backpack at 1pm. At 8pm I was cramming food into my face like there was no tomorrow. Ten minutes in second bar and I thought I was going to pass out, vomit, and die (in that order) and I was furious because couldn’t I at least being embarrassingly drunk before I started feeling like that?

It took some fresh air, some walking, and a lot of water at the next place to get me in tip-top shape to start drinking Staten Islands at No. 7 North, which was a delightful little place with a taxidermy peacock, more elbow room, and free champagne at midnight. Maybe I’m just biased because I’d stopped feeling like barf and they didn’t give me crap for spending our first half-hour there ordering water. Also the peacock has really fierce side-eye.

Brunch the next day was made up of the best possible hangover cure: Spicy Bloody Mary’s and Korean food. We hit up Mrs. Kim’s for some awesome dulset bibimbap and a Bloody Mary with kimchi. It was divine (and so were the pork buns).

kimchi, kimchi, chusaeyo

kimchi, kimchi, chusaeyo

And then we relaxed, because a lot of things were closed (even in NYC!) and we had big plans for happy hour.

Oyster Happy Hour. Maison Premiere provided us with $1 oysters and some great drinks (though we avoided the absinthe cocktails). The place was incredibly packed though. I’m tempted to recommend arriving early if you want the happy hour specials, but I suspect that it’s just going to be packed no matter what.

$6 of oysters... the ones on the far right were the best

$6 of oysters… the ones on the far right were the best

After we ate our fill of oysters (read: couldn’t have bought any more without being embarrassed about the number of oysters we were eating) we set off with a very specific destination in mind… and instead ended up in Videology/El Gato Nacho. One room was showing the Lord of the Rings triology, another room was watching the Rosebowl, so we were able to get some popcorn and drinks and root for the ducks while watching something a lot more interesting than actual football.

Not pictured: The Nacho Cat sign

Not pictured: The Nacho Cat sign

It was a great place, but we had a higher calling. The Meatball Shop has several locations throughout NYC. It’s kind of like a meatball buffet, but it’s also a sit-down restaurant. I had pork belly meatballs in the red-eye gravy over risotto. It was amazing. As were their Manhattan jello shots (changes daily) and their Buzzed Lebowski.

Breakfast the next morning was Peter Pan Donuts. It’s no Top Pot, but it’s damn good.

Then we hopped over to her new place in East Williamsburg. This picture is an accurate description of my impression of East Williamsburg:

SPOILER ALERT: IT’S A PICTURE OF A DEAD PIGEON

That is exactly what you think it is.

That is exactly what you think it is.

See, New York City is like a pigeon. A beautiful pigeon and not the one that tripped into the fountain outside the Met. It toddles along and doesn’t give a fuck if it has no business being on the subway because it’s a pigeon and it does what it wants. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are like pigeons that I have captured and forced into top hats and scarves: charming and whimsical, even if they still have bird lice. East Williamsburg is definitely a pigeon, but it’s a pigeon that raises a lot of questions. Like, where’s the head? Or the feet? Why is only part of the spine there? Are all these businesses closed or is boarded up windows an aesthetic? That building is up to code to house people? Why is there a spriny horse in that backyard? Why is there porch lattice inside? Are there things out there that really only eat the middle of the pigeon? Is that like, the pigeon muffin top? Should I stop now? I should stop now.

This was the only day I actually did a thing that could be considered touristy, I suppose. I hopped the train to Manhattan and got to see the Death Becomes Her exhibit at The Met.

Only one post-mortem pic though =(

Only one post-mortem pic though =(

I was also able to pay homage to their Magritte and their Miro (at least, what they had on display), and even though the museum was stuffed to the gills it was still great to actually see it in person… and to see the mourning clothes.

Dinner brought us by Radio City Music Hall and down into Times Square (so I can say I’ve seen it). Times Square is mostly just bright? We snagged some happy hour drinks at Tonic (chosen because we could get bar seats right away… the Met took a lot out of us!) while we waited for a spot at our chosen dinner venue. Dinner was a fabulous (and really crowded) izakaya place called Sake Bar Hagi, right off of Times Square. We sampled several different menu items: quail eggs, takoyaki with amazing octopus pieces, gyoza, plum and beer cocktails… it was all worth the wait.

My final day I met up with a friend from my undergrad days. I once again navigated the subway solo and ended up in Fort Greene* at Alice’s Arbor, where I was served the fluffiest omelette. Yay fluffy omlettes! I ended up spending the rest of the day with my friend and his girlfriend in their Park Slope apartment. It had started snowing and raining, which didn’t endear any of us to walking around outside, even though I would have loved to see more of the area.

I navigated my way back to Penn Station painlessly, but once I was in Penn Station I found myself confused and bewildered. Eventually I realized that “Amtrak NJ” was not just Amtraks to New Jersey and found the waiting area and the track just fine. Driving home in a baby ice storm… easily the worst and most dangerous part of my entire trip. My car was just an ice bullet by the time I made it home.

I had so much fun in Brooklyn and I can’t wait to go back and explore more, see more friends, check out more museums, and eat more food.

Bonus picture of the Met Christmas Tree

Bonus picture of the Met Christmas Tree

*I’m listing all these Brooklyn neighborhoods but honestly I know nothing about them.