godzilla vs. gene kelly.

"You know Oklahoma!?" Josh asked me last night.

"Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains? Yeah."

"Well, you know that scene between Jud Fry and, uh, the other guy, the hero."


"Yeah, Curly. Well, you know that scene-"

"Wait, how do you know Jud Fry's whole name?"

"It's in that song." He starts singing, "Poor Jud is dead, poor Jud Fry is dead."

"Wait a minute. You know songs from Oklahoma!?"

Josh does not like musicals. We've talked about it several times - how he hates musicals, can't stand to watch them. He doesn't even comment anymore about how I'll occasionally burst into a showtune, should I be reminded of it somehow. He's acknowledged that I will someday make him watch all the musicals I own, but I haven't yet, because I know he won't like them. The whole musical thing is covered ground in our relationship. Except for the fact that at no time, did he ever mention that he knows all the songs from Oklahoma!.

"Well, I mean, I've seen it. I can remember the songs and stuff."

I start testing him out.

"Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry..."

"When I take you out in the surrey."

"I'm just a girl who cain't say no..."

"I'm in a terrible fix."

"Ever'thin's up to date in Kansas City..."

"They gone about as fer as they can go. They went and built a skyscraper seven stories high. 'Bout as high as a building oughta grow."

I look at him, amazed. I do not know this man.

"That doesn't mean I like musicals. I don't even like Oklahoma!. They're silly and there's no continuity, the way people burst into these songs that don't have that much to do with anything."

I agree with him. There are truly great musicals, with beautiful writing and depth, with real stories that the music only complements. Fiddler on the Roof is a wonderful movie of any genre, period. My Fair Lady has incredible dialogue, because you can't go wrong with Shaw. Oklahoma! is mostly just cheese. It's not deep or clever or anything, just people dancing and singing, and many musical movies are mostly the same. But I grew up watching those movies. The other eight-year-olds knew that capital T rhymed with P, but did they know that it stood for "pool"? I thought "Some Enchanged Evening" was the most romantic song ever written and spent middle school Social Studies classes dreaming of crowded rooms full of handsome strangers. I had a crush on Gene Kelly, and I was heartbroken when he died.

"They're like Godzilla movies," I tell him. I bet you did not see that coming. No doubt you think I have lost my mind. Luckily, Josh understands me when I say nonsense like that.

Josh watched a lot of Godzilla movies when he was growing up. And now, also. I watch them with him. They're not good movies. They're silly, with crappy special effects, heavy-handed messages, ridiculous plots, and very strange dubbed dialogue that I can only hope makes sense in Japan. He loves them. And so if he gets a kick out of a guy in a monster suit, stomping around models of Tokyo, I can enjoy men in matching, brightly-colored shirts dancing on a spinning log.

Of course, now that his secret is out, don't think I'm going to let him forget it.



Did you know that Josh played his guitar in an iPod commercial?

Or maybe I just discovered that color filters are fun.


a story about someone else.

Down in Spivey's Corner, North Carolina, there is an annual hollerin' contest. A coworker of mine from out of state heard about this contest, declared it ridiculous, and decided it would be fun to go and see the local color. He took along a couple of city slicker friends, one of them named Sandra. It was not me. I am not a city slicker, and I have known about the hollerin' contest for a long time, and as you will see, this Sandra did not.

Sandra decided to enter the hollerin' contest, because she knew she had a big, loud voice. She was second to holler. The first entrant, who was undoubtedly wearing overalls, did some loud and weird sound and the audience clapped. Sandra got up on stage, introduced herself and said that this was what her mother did when it was time to come in for supper.


Now, I know you're still thinking that this Sandra is me, but it's not. When it was time for supper at my house, my mother yelled "SUPPPPERRRRRRRR!" which is totally different from what this other Sandra's mother did. See? This story is obviously not about me.

After that rousing yell of her own name, the audience sort of looked confused, and then clapped politely, because they were good Southern folks. What these city slickers did not know is that this contest is more for things like pig calls, not for calling wandering children in for supper. It's almost like a special kind of yodel so that your pigs will know it's you, but your neighbor's pigs will disregard. And so the rest of the contestants did more weird loud noises that didn't sound anything like anyone's mother calling them to supper.

I heard this story several months ago from my coworker. At a party I attended this weekend, I happened to meet a girl named Sandra who knew the same coworker. It did not occur to me until afterwards that this was the same Sandra who had gone to the hollerin' contest. I only wish that I had remembered, so that I could ask her about it. And I hope now that you are convinced, once and for all, that this story was not about me.

*For more information about the National Hollerin' Contest, please go to their semi-official website. There, you will learn that only one winner of the contest (the 1970 champion) came from outside the county. Poor Sandra (not me) never had a chance.


software engineering.

During my final semester of college, I took four high level math classes and one computer science class. No class got the attention it really deserved. My last period as a student was a shoddy one as I coasted by doing only as much as I had to to keep my grades up. I really didn't care anymore.

The one computer science class I took was Software Engineering, a lone practical course in a curriculum full of theory. It was boring, full of homework, and seemed pointless. Or maybe I just had a poor attitude.

We were divided into groups of four to complete a part of a larger class project. We were given the coding task, but before we could do it, we had to define it in a big document. And then after we did that, but still before we could start writing code, we had to design what we were going to and write a big document about that. And finally, we could start writing code, but along the way, we had to stop and have meetings about our code and review the code of our partners. We also had to stop and make changes to the documents we'd written, because the other teams would make changes in their plans and so we had to adjust accordingly. Finally, when we were actually done writing code, we had to have another meeting about our code and what was good and bad about the project, and of course, there needed to be a document about that, too.

Poor attitude or not, does that sound like much fun to you?

We had been learning how to write code, how to program, but this was about engineering software. It had a process which had been developed after lots of people had lots of meetings and wrote lots of documents about how projects had gone badly in the past. Those people determined that this process was the most effective way to develop software quickly and with as few bugs as possible.

As I went through this class, I mostly thought it was a lot of bull. How could anyone hope to get any coding done if they had to have all these meetings and write documents and then have meetings about the documents?

Of course, you've figured out by now, as I did by the end of my first month in the industry, that this class was the most accurate in terms of how programming is in the real world. I don't think my being a better student would have really improved how I applied the lessons of this class in my working life. But I just wish they'd been more explicit about the whole thing. "Hey, you dumb kid. You don't have to listen. You don't have to agree with all of this. But know that you will have to do it every day. You think I'm teaching for the pay?" I didn't feel unprepared to do the paperwork and the meetings, I felt unprepared to be assigned to do it. It's like I was surprised that I wasn't going to be assigned to write programs that drew triangles made of asterisks or played Yachtzee!.

And so, because I feel a need to fill the gap in the education of many young and naive computer science students (and also because I like to write in a bossy tone), I'm going to tell you what software engineering is all about.

You will have to work with other people. In college, everyone is assigned a Yachtzee! program. And so everyone has to produce their own version of Yachtzee! People don't work together. You don't have one kid write the dice roll part and then another kid write the scoring part.

While I knew some kids in my classes who would have been happy to have a few teammates, I'm hear to report that it's not all riding on coattails. There are three possibilities here. One is that your teammates are smarter than you are, in which case you can't pull your weight and you're going to have to get by on working really hard and being charming to make up for your natural deficiencies. The second is that your teammates are idiots and then you're going to have to make up for them, because 99% of the time, they do not know they're idiots and they won't be told. The third possibility is that you're equally matched. And whether you're both idiots or both geniuses, you're still not going to think the same way.

Those other people will not think the same way, they will assume the bugs are yours instead of theirs, they will change your precious code, they will write code in a weird style, they will not put spaces around their equals signs and they will never write clear comments explaining what is going on in their ridiculous, obfuscated code.

You will not necessarily be working on anything even remotely interesting. Think about the software you use every day. Somebody wrote that, obviously. How do you picture that person? When you use Excel, do you imagine someone really passionate about spreadsheets? Even worse is when you start getting into niche software, like, oh, truck diagnostics. The disillusioned and frustrated programmer who wrote the routine to test your gauges may not even care about your truck. Not even a little bit. How do you stay interested in your job when it's about something you don't understand, nor desire to understand? I don't have the answer to that.

Requirements Change. What if, about halfway into the Yachtzee! project, your professor comes by and said that she wants you to use a set of dodecahedron dice instead of your regular six-sided variety. Of course, that means the rules are going to change in the game, and you'll have more rounds, which will affect scoring.

"You can't do that! You already made the assignment and I've already started working! What's the point of not waiting until the last minute if you're just going to change your mind?"

In school, you could probably make that claim. But your boss will just advise you to bring a picture of your wife into work so that you don't forget what she looks like while you're working all these long hours. Requirements change at any time and you have to deal with it. Sometimes it's because of poor management or overzealous sales members, but sometimes it's because Microsoft just released a new service pack.

Meetings and paperwork are part of the job. A common question to ask when you're applying for a job is the percentage of time that you'll spend coding. They'll probably lie to you about the answer, but the fact that it's a question used at all is pretty telling. I have friends from college who don't code at all. It seemed pretty ironic to me at first that a job so based in technology would have so much paperwork. I don't hate the paperwork itself, as I paid enough attention in software engineering to see how it's useful when properly applied. But sometimes it's BS. Different projects require different amounts, and more paperwork is not always the answer.

And meetings are the same way. You'll have to attend meetings that have very little to do with what you're working on. You'll have to attend meetings where people spend an hour arguing over something like the color of the Yachtzee! dice. You'll attend meetings and sit there thinking about all the work you could be getting done. But then you'll attend meetings that are useful and productive and maybe helpful in attacking a task that you were unsure about.

I say I wish someone had told me these things, but I know I wouldn't have listened. I wonder sometimes why they don't tell you before your last semester what being a professional programmer is really like; then I realize that everyone would change their majors. It's not so bad. If you find a good place to work where there is a high genius to idiot ratio, a reasonable boss, high coding time percentage, and work that you're interested in, you'll probably be pretty happy with your situation. No career is perfect. Even the Ben and Jerry's testers get headaches sometimes.


a taste of strawberries.

I really haven't eaten very many strawberries since I left the nest. That's because my mean, rotten parents grew strawberries in their garden and thus spoiled me from ever enjoying one that I might purchase in a store. I consider this to be part of their incredibly elaborate plan to make their children come visit them more often.

The strawberry patch moved around some, but I liked it best when it was in the orchard. We lived at the top of a big hill, and I would have to climb the driveway every day after being deposited at the bottom of the hill by the school bus. The orchard was about halfway up. It contained various fruit trees that never produced and died off one by one at a slow, but steady rate. The rest of the orchard was mostly just unkempt grass with a smattering of wildflowers. Later, there were blueberry bushes that I think were planted specifically to have their fruit eaten by deer, because we got more blueberries than we could handle from the dozen bushes at the top of the hill. And for a couple of years, there was a strawberry patch. The strawberries came into season at the end of the school year. I would regularly stop on my long and hated hike up the driveway to pick and eat every ripe strawberry I found. I was never told not to do this, so either we had enough of a harvest to support both me and my mother's jam needs or my parents never knew I did it. Perhaps it was all apart of their dastardly plan.

Store-bought strawberries are fine, as long as you've never tasted real ones. They're just slightly off in a lot of ways. They're not juicy and tender, but sort of hard and dry. They're sweet, but it's a sort of fake sweet, like drinking diet soda. And they're not red in the middle. I don't understand these weird berries which are beautiful and red on the outside, but bright white on the inside. It's like the ripeness of the outside doesn't match the ripeness of the inside. Store-bought strawberry beauty is indeed only skin deep. I bet there are people in this country who have never had a real strawberry, and I am sad for them.

I woke up with a hankering for strawberries one Saturday morning in late May. I knew they were in season, and I'd seen them at the grocery store on sale. I'd been tempted to buy some several times, knowing that I would be disappointed. There had to be another way. Then suddenly, it struck me.

Josh and I arrived at the Farmer's Market in the afternoon, when the heat was mixing with the smell of fresh, ripe fruit and honest dirt to create a pungent aroma to stimulate the taste buds and the wallet. We were there with a purpose - to obtain farm-fresh strawberries - and then we saw the gigantic sweet potatoes and the unblemished snap beans and the plump tomatoes. There was asparagus and zucchini and yellow squash. We spent $15 on local produce, two-thirds of that was on strawberries (haha, you have to do math!)

Then we got home and had a heck of a lot of strawberries to deal with. So we made these.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

  • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips

  • 2 tablespoons shortening

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves

  1. Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.

  2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.

  3. Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpick into styrofoam for the chocolate to cool.

The funnest part of this recipe is sticking the strawberries upside down in the styrofoam. It looks like a tiny forest that you might find inside Willy Wonka's factory.

Now, I'm not a chocolate person. I enjoy chocolate, of course. But I can have a piece of it and then stop with no problem while Josh finishes the rest of the bar and then every other chocolate thing in the house, including any baking chocolate I might have in the pantry. However, I discovered that my capacity for chocolate increases exponentially (more math!) if you stick a farm-fresh strawberry inside it. We were gorging ourselves on these treats when Josh sighed and said he'd had enough. I was confused, because there were more chocolate-covered strawberries left, so how could he be done? It just didn't make any sense. But I sighed and stopped, too, because I knew if I ate even one more, the whole lot of them would be down my gullet before he could say "Hey, save one for me!"

Later, I made strawberry shortcake and just generally ate a lot of strawberries. Take that, parents!


super yucky.

I was at my brother's house for dinner a while back, and I heard that there was a new house rule: No complaining about the food. Perhaps there'd been a lot of bellyaching about dinner lately. I could imagine my poor sister-in-law, the house chef, trying to take into account the tastes of five children (the littlest having presumably having no complaints about the breast milk). I asked the oldest kid, aged ten, why he thought his parents had made such a rule.

"Because they didn't want to hear any complaining."

"Do you think they were trying to make you appreciate the fact that they work hard to serve you home-cooked meals every day?" I asked.

"Uh, yeah." He was doubtful and he's probably right. Me, I don't have any children, so I'm still full of long-term goals like teaching children gratitude instead of everyday goals like making them shut up. The parents just got sick of the whining.

There is a famous story in my family of the night that my mother tried to branch out her recipes and make sukiyaki. Her cruel, ungrateful children (I wasn't born yet) called it "super yucky." I don't remember there being a lot of complaining about food in my childhood home, other than the occasional squabble over the hot dog pieces in the macaroni and cheese. However, I bet if we had started whining, my dad would have promptly shamed us into grateful silence. Then he would have finished our leftovers.

Daddy must be a pretty easy man to cook for, in that he always seems to like whatever is on the table. Maybe he doesn't explicitly compliment the food, but he doesn't complain about it either, and he always cleans his plate before cleaning the plates of any little brats. He compliments the smell of the cooking if he happens to pass through the kitchen, making lots of loud, enthusiastic "MMM! MMM! MMM!" noises and occasionally cuddling up to Mama to sing the chorus of "Hey, Good Lookin'" while she works at the stove.

I think of this because I made brussels sprouts the other night. I'd found an interesting recipe and bought some frozen veggies without bothering to ask Josh how he felt about them. To me, brussels sprouts are tiny cabbages that want to be broccoli, and seeing as how Josh likes cabbage and broccoli, I couldn't figure how he'd have any sort of problem with them. But when I asked him, he said he didn't like them. We had a small argument about whether or not they taste like broccoli, and then I conceded, "Well, okay, you don't have to eat any."

"You're not going to be that easy on my kids, are you?" His kids, isn't that cute?

"Of course not, they'll have to eat their age in brussels sprouts. But you're a grown-up. I'm not going to make you eat twenty-five brussels sprouts."

"I'll eat brussels sprouts."

Later I was filling up the plates with food, and I put a single brussels sprout on Josh's plate, because I'm a smart aleck. He came into the kitchen and protested, loading up his plate with an eight-year-old's serving. After we'd been eating awhile, I asked him how the sprouts were treating him.

"I like them. You've converted me."

Girls are stupid, and we believe a lot of untrue things that boys tell us, but I was not to be fooled. I was midway through a protest when I realized that Josh had complimented everything I'd ever served him. Surely he hadn't liked everything.

"You're never going to tell me that you don't like something, are you?"

"Sure I will. I mean, not right away. Later, when you start talking about making it again."

I guess Josh's family had a rule about not complaining about food, too. He's always very appreciative when I make him any kind of food at all, even brussels sprouts, and so I suppose it worked. It must be a pretty good rule. Maybe you can teach kids to be gracious and get them to shut up at the same time.


flavor friends.

Watermelons were a summertime treat in my childhood home. They didn't appear at our table very often, because they were expensive when out of season and pretty unnecessary. But every once in a while, my mother would bring one home. It would sit in our kitchen floor for what seemed like years, but was at most a couple of days. It taunted me with its very presence, because I was little and not in control of my own watermelon destiny. When it was there, I asked Mama every single day, "Are we gonna cut the watermelon tonight?" I don't remember for certain, but I'm willing to bet that she always said, "We'll see."

When it was cutting time, we cleared off the kitchen table completely to allow for however many kids to have a place. You had to eat watermelon at the table, because it was messy and because there was a rule about not eating on the couch anyway (a rule that was stretched to allow for popcorn and Coke nights). We spread out newspaper on the table, as if we were going to be housetraining puppies up there. The unsuspecting melon sat innocently at the head of the table, turned so that its long side faced the executioner. My dad took the biggest knife we had and went at the melon with a mighty WHACK! right down the center.

I know you're supposed to thump the melon and listen for hollowness, but I say that you can never really tell how good a melon will be until that first cut. I don't guess I've ever had one that wasn't ripe enough, but I've had the disappointment of a watermelon past its prime. You can tell from the color, from the sweet cracking sound it makes when you WHACK! it, from the smell that comes wafting out.

Once the first WHACK! was over, Daddy cut through the rest, splitting our feast in half. Then he cut half slices from one side and passed them out to greedy, soon-to-be-sticky hands. When he got too close to the end to make a decent slice, he'd cut the rest of that half of the melon into quarters. Those were the best pieces, because they didn't fall over. In the middle of the table would sit every salt shaker in the house.

Did you know that some people eat their watermelons with salt? Did you know that some people do not eat their watermelons with salt? Me, I grew up in a salted watermelon house, and I really thought it was like putting ketchup on fries or pickles on hamburgers or ranch dressing on everything. Watermelon and salt are flavor friends, it's like scientific fact. But I got out into the real world, and there are people out there do not put salt on their watermelon. This realization was akin to finding out that my friend Estelle's family ate the whole rind. I ate right down to the white, and I was considered weird for it in my own family. The bottom of the red is a flavorful area with no seeds to slow you down. I used to collect the discarded rinds of my siblings and eat that last inch of red that they had left behind. Eating all the red is smart, but eating the rind is downright barbaric, and not using salt makes it seem like you don't understand about flavor friends.

We ate our fill of the watermelon, and I don't remember ever being told to stop. Watermelon, when it was there, was not like soda where you were allowed to have half a glass and only after drinking a full glass of milk. Of course, you had to be careful about eating watermelon right before going to sleep, because you might wake up in the night with a bed full of watermelon pee. Whatever was left of the melon was covered in plastic wrap and put in the fridge, where it would wait for me to eagerly pull it out again. My mom would do that too. She cut all the red part from her slice into cubes, salted them, and then ate them with a fork from a recycled cool whip container.

Rinds were collected in a big stainless steel pan and then taken out to the compost pit in the middle of the garden. In the summer, giant, sprawling watermelon plants would grow from our discarded seeds. They took over the pit such that you couldn't even see the multitude of coffee grounds in there. Every year I hoped, but was disappointed, that those plants would produce something worth eating. It's probably just as well, because if I'd had access to unlimited watermelon, my hands would be permanently sticky with sweet and salty juices.

Now I am a grown-up, and I am in control of my own watermelon destiny. I know which of my knives is best suited to give that initial WHACK!, and I've got a little patch of woods where I can fling rinds secretly from my apartment balcony in the dead of night. I have three salt shakers. I live alone, and so it is up to me to eat an entire watermelon (but not right before bed). I don't mind telling you that I am up to the task.


super girlfriend.

Long ago (seven years) and far away (Boone, NC), I bought a church organ for $35 at a yard sale. Some of you may be surprised to hear this, because nothing that you've ever heard about me indicated that I might be in the market for a second-hand organ. In fact, you're pretty sure that I can't read music and don't play any musical instruments at all. You think to yourself that the only interest I've ever shown in playing music at all is to be interested in boys who...oh.

So now you know why I bought a church organ. It was a well-received gift, and I came out like Super Girlfriend. I love coming out like Super Girlfriend. When my boyfriend starts conversations with "Guess what Sandra bought me!", it's a good day.

Not that long ago (last month) and pretty near here (like ten miles away), I bought an electric bass guitar and a guitar amplifier for $80 at a Red Cross yard sale. I came out like Super Girlfriend. We could have gotten half off the price if one of us had given blood, but honestly, we felt like we were stealing it as it was. I sorta wish we had done it anyway, just so I could say that I bought a bass for $20 and a pint of blood. Do you know anyone who can say that? Me neither.

The bass had no strings, which is better for puppets than it is for guitars. As we were driving the new bass home, Josh decided that he wouldn't tell anyone about it until he had bought strings for it and gotten it fixed. He would just stroll into band practice one day with a shiny new guitar. Twenty minutes later, he said, "Guess what Sandra bought me!" to the first person he saw. He's a crappy secret-keeper.

Later, he said "Guess what Sandra bought me!" to his dad, the man completely and utterly responsible for his sons' obsessions with rock and roll. His padre was very impressed, and later bought Josh a case and a set of strings, demolishing the bass' hopes of ever being a real, live boy. The case cost more than the instrument. His parents congratulated me that all those years of yard saling had finally paid off. I smiled knowingly as I thought about the church organ and felt like Super-Duper Girlfriend.

That night, Josh strung the bass and played it unplugged for half an hour. I watched him get to know it. He periodically remarked about how it was easier to play than his old bass and how it sounded really good. I admired the deep red finish, the color being pretty much the only thing I can appreciate about a musical instrument. Then I admired the bass player, who was so cute and so happy because of his Super Girlfriend.

Why does Kermit drink Bavaria? 'Cause it's green, silly.


squelch the sigmangler.

I had to read someone else's code today. It wasn't too bad, because there was a healthy smattering of comments thrown in. If you already know about comments, please feel free to skip the following section.

Some smart programmer long ago decided that it would be nice if people could put regular text into code. Something that a person could read, but that a computer would know to ignore. These are comments. They were a Good Idea.

Even for those of us who know how to read code, reading English words (or Dutch or Swahili) is still pretty much easier. And so rather than have to read a piece of code, you'd rather read some text that just tells you what it does. At that point, you can decide to trust that the code does what the comment says it does and skip reading it. The code may not actually do what the comment says it does, but it at least usually states what the author meant for it to do. It's the thought that counts.

So instead of having to figure out this:
int product = 0;
for (int i = 1; i <= 100; i++) {
     product *= i;

you can just look at this:
// finds the product of all the numbers from 1 to 100, dummy

It's not as big a deal when you're only writing programs that find 100!, but unfortunately, I usually have to write stuff more complicated than that. Sometimes I have to find 200!.

Some people do not put comments on their code. When I was a young, naive college student, I didn't use comments very much. But that was because I could turn in an assignment after two weeks and never look at it again. But now I have to come back to code that I wrote last year, and I don't remember what it did. I write comments for the mental health of my future self. Oh, and also any colleagues that might have to look at my work. But mostly just for my future self.

I find that my personality starts to show in my code through the comments. Sure, I recognize bits of me in the code itself, but that's more recognizing my coding style. The comments show the regular me that has nothing to do with programming. I can hear my own voice saying the words. You can see a programmer's mood through the comments. Whether they are feeling frustrated, fatigued, or smug about their code, it will come through.

I find that a few goofy comments will keep me sane. They're sort of fun to write, but then they're really fun to find again. So if I have to come back to some code that I wrote and then forgot all about, an amusing comment will cheer me up. It also completely wrecks my train of thought, but usually it's worth it.

I've been looking through some other code today, and I've found evidence that there are others in this world who feel the way that I do about comments. These are all from the Perl debugger. I don't know what all of them mean, but I feel a connection to the programmer who wrote each and every one of them.

# squelch the sigmangler
# Why -1? But it works! :-(
# Old stupid way...
# O Happy Day!
# Alas, poor unfortunates
# I just *know* there are men without -M
# Just exactly what part of the word "CORE::" don't you understand?
# mysteriously vaporized
# Here begin the unreadable code. It needs fixing.

And just for my own amusement, here is a comment I wrote. I try not to laugh too loudly to myself since I work in a cube farm, but I simply couldn't help myself.

// create our search hash...mmm, search hash


lasagna gratitude.

We were having lasagna. Josh's parents had been in town and had taken their two sons to Sam's Club, where they bought them a lot of food and toilet paper. They are concerned about their sons, and think that they eat ramen noodles every day. Josh actually eats pretty well. He gets homemade bread and chicken pot pie and salmon, and that was just last weekend. But I suspect that his parents' fears are not without grounds when it comes to his brother. The boy eats a lot of Chef Boyardee.

So the lasagna was a giant frozen one. I got there at 6 pm and by 7, I was starting to get the irritability associated with hunger. The lasagna took two hours to make. I could have made one in one hour. I complained more loudly than I should have about that fact.

Finally, it was ready, and I attacked a giant piece with gusto. I love lasagna. It's all the best stuff in an Italian dish, plus it's layered. Isn't it nice when your food is orderly? I took the first bite and suddenly, it all came crashing back to me that store-bought frozen lasagna does not taste the same as what I make. In fact, it's a lot like Chef Boyardee, but in a giant foil pan. But I ate it without complaint, because I was hungry, if not gracious.

Later, Josh and I were alone, and I was unable to hold it in any longer.

"That lasagna wasn't nearly as good as mine."

"Thank you for not saying that during dinner."

I was insulted. Did he really think that I would have said something so ungrateful? What kind of person does he think I am? And besides, didn't he agree that my lasagna was a million times better than the stuff we had just eaten? I thought back to the processed and fake taste of the lasagna, how I'd had to struggle not to comment about how awful it was compared to...

"You know me pretty well."

He started laughing. "You were really fighting it the whole time, weren't you?"

"Well, it wasn't very good, now was it?"

"No, you're right, it wasn't." He kissed me, and I felt like I won, because even though deep down inside, I really am a terrible ingrate, I have someone who knows that and loves me anyway. It must be because I make such awesome lasagna.