Monday, November 29, 2010

Selma Says...

For those of you who don't know, Selma is my Grandmother. My mom's mother is an extremely lively 88 year-old, raised in Savannah (Blair likes to talk to Grandmother because she pronounces his name "Blay-ah"). Grandmother loves to paint, offer "constructive criticism" when she pleases, Reader's Digest, and anything on TCM. After spending some much-needed time with Grandmother over the Thanksgiving weekend, I thought this would be the perfect time to share some "Selma-isms" with you all...

Grandmother has a dog, his name is Cooper (She of course, says "Coop-ah"). Cooper has "his chair" that he sleeps in all day and no one else is allowed to sit there, Blair tried to sit there once, mistake. Grandmother also recently got a cat, "Looney" suitably named because this animal certifiably insane. Looney has been known to scale up Grandmother's legs while she is cooking at the stove and would not think twice about clawing your eyes out. Grandmother often tells Looney to be nice to her brother, Cooper...

Grandmother has also been wearing the same shade of red lipstick, courtesy of Revlon, for as long as I can remember and the cousins now like to compare our lipstick stamps that she gives us when she kisses each of us on the cheek. We also now refuse to wipe them off. It is a great game.

Like I said, Grandmother is also an avid reader and over Thanksgiving I returned her George Washington biography that she was kind enough to let me borrow. She then proceeds to tell me that I should really borrow her Robert E. Lee biography as he was "her personal hero". Grandmother has also been known to blame Atlanta traffic on Sherman's March to the Sea. Classic.

Friday night as my cousin Dan was flipping through the channels, he breezed past TNT which was showing "The Wizard of Oz". This was not what Dan, an avid sports lover wanted to watch but Grandmother instructed him that if he changed the channel she would "beat him". We watched "The Wizard of Oz".

Chick-Fil-A is her favorite "window food" (That is "Grandmother" for fast-food)

There are many more stories that I could share, like how when she saw my haircut on Thanksgiving she promptly asked "Why do you keep cutting your hair?". Always a fan of honesty. Quirks aside, she is truly the matriarch of our family, we all love her very much, and I am always eager to go home to see her...and eat Chick-Fil-A. Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Mix-Up

Yes, I know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving but an encounter I had in the break room this morning has now completely occupied my mind with thoughts of a Veteran's Day/Thanksgiving combination. I also know that I am not typically a "serious" blogger so if that is not your cup of tea don't worry, I will try not to make this a habit.

The office is very quiet today (hence my blogging) so I was surprised when I walked into the break room to get my coffee and found two of our brokers there; they are normally running in and out of the office and it is rare to catch them when they are not busy. One of them began talking about his niece's upcoming trip to France and how they were planning to take a day trip out to Normandy. Normandy is a place that I have desperately wanted to travel to for a long time now (although I think my history nerdiness and tendency to cry at a good Publix commercial probably would not make for a pleasant trip for other visitors) so I decided to linger for a moment and see where the conversation would go. The other broker then responds by saying that his grandfather is buried there and describes the very emotional trip that he took with his wife last year to find his grandfather's grave and visit the memorials there.

View of Omaha Beach from the Cemetery at Normandy
As I walked back to my desk I began to really think how lucky I am that I knew both of grandfathers (both of which were WWII Veterans). My mother's father, "Fado", was in the Navy and spent time stationed in Russia and England. My father's father, "Pa" was in the Air Force and was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. Then it really sank in that while I can recall their mannerisms, voices, and could brag all day long about their accomplishments this particular broker would never know the man that is buried at Normandy. I am extremely thankful that Fado and Pa were able to make my childhood and memories of the holidays so special and as they are naturally missed every year around this time I think I will notice it a little bit more tomorrow.

The Cemetery at Normandy
So while tomorrow I will be thankful to be around family and friends I will also be all the more grateful that I had the pleasure of knowing those wonderful men. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend [and eats alot]. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Luggage Loathing

I strongly dislike to pack/unpack. Evidence of that would be the suitcase that is still on my floor from this past weekend's "Grown-up Fall House" as I continue to pull things out of it as I need it but don't actually put anything away.

However, tonight that will have to change as I am leaving to go home to Atlanta straight from work tomorrow. This means that my room will eventually look like this at some point in the evening...

I am a habitual over-packer and will undoubtedly berate myself as pack as though monsoon season is going to strike Atlanta or that a horrendous winter storm will leave my family trapped inside. I am also a self proclaimed "late stuffer"; meaning that as I am about to zip up my bag and put it in the car I will look around my room and think I need two more sweaters, one more pair of shoes, and three more scarves etc. and desperately try to stuff these things in my suitcase. Packing efficiently=failure. I don't know what I am going to do one day in the future when I have a family, my children will probably leave the house with everything that they own.

Looking on the bright side at least I know that while I might have to worry about traffic, driving in the dark etc. I do NOT have to worry that I forgot anything since I packed everything. Thanks for reading!

P.S. I did see Harry Potter on Sunday and it was AWESOME.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

The above phrase is obviously the Latin translation of "Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon". These are the words at the bottom of the Hogwarts crest...Yep, I am a Harry Potter nerd.
In my defense I did not start out this way, I actually started out as a non-believer, constantly ridiculing Laura and my other cousins when they would go to the St. Simons bookstore at midnight every summer to pick up their copies of whichever book was being released. Somewhere along the way I crossed over and made a pro/con list at my desk of reasons to go or not go see the midnight premiere of the 7th movie when it is released tonight. However, since I will be on the road for a few hours after work tomorrow, I think I might have to settle for listening to the 7th book on tape in the car in an effort to brush up on the plot line and my wizarding terminology...

I am fascinated (this post is clearly helping with my previously mentioned nerd status) with the "Wizarding World" as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has created an entire cast of characters, some of which are never even mentioned in the book, language, and locations that truly do bring Harry's journey to life. This is a series with a group of passionate followers. I may or may not have even gotten into a heated debate with one of friends in our college dining hall about whether or not Severus Snape was really a villain. I won, in case you were wondering.

In any case, here is the New York Times review of the movie and the trailer...

So, thank you to my sister to giving me back some imagination and sorry to my roommates who have had to listen to me talk about this for weeks now. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mary, Princess of Wales

Well, today I am reevaluating my life plans as it seems Prince William has had the nerve to get engaged to someone else. How rude. It seems as though all those years of dressing as a princess for Halloween were all in vain.

Laura and I have joked endlessly for years about marrying Prince William and Harry and becoming the ultimate brother-sister team. Do we think that they actually want to marry two spastic sister from Atlanta, GA? No. Is it still fun to talk about for some reason? Absolutely. So you can only imagine the texts that Laura and I have been sending back and forth to each other today. Laura is filled with facts about the engagement ring (Princess Diana's) and I just read an article on all of the official titles that Kate could take once she marries William. We are slowly but surely spiraling out of control.

The happy couple...whatever.

Not from the gumball machine.
So will I wake up at some ungodly hour to watch their wedding on TV next spring or summer? Without a doubt. I guess once Laura finally works things out with Prince Harry I can just be the crazy older sister with lots of cats that lives in a castle somewhere. Could be worse. Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Baking Via Cell Phone

I think I have mentioned this before but I LOVE to bake. I think this passion for baked goods comes from:

1.) My extremely unhealthy sweet tooth. I like to use baking as a cover to eat as much cookie/brownie/sugary goodness as I can. And I like to provide people a I care about with something homemade blah blah blah...
2.) My obsessive compulsive tendencies. I like knowing precisely how much of something to add, how long it should bake for etc. I am a big recipe follower (the more detailed, the better) and really enjoy how methodical baking is.

Fat and happy...Yes, this is a cardboard cutout. Thank you very much.

Unfortunately I also get baking stage fright. When I am baking for a party or a group of people I want to impress (aka my family). I get very nervous if things are not looking just right. This is when the panicked phone calls to my mom enter the picture. She is always very encouraging and patient, partially because I think she can hear the desperation in my voice. She always talks me through it and ends each phone call by saying "It's going to be great, everyone will love it" or sometimes "No one will care what it looks it as long as it tastes good". Good thing she cannot see me evenly distributing chocolate chips in cookie dough...

Tomorrow is Wofford girls Thanksgiving and I am in charge of bringing the pumpkin and the pecan pies. My nerves are already kicking in because I remember last year my mom was visiting my Aunt Sally in Philadelphia and I called their house/my Aunt Sally's cell numerous times asking my mom to basically hold my hand via telephone while I made the pecan pie to take to my Aunt Sue's house for the "Atlanta Thanksgiving". It turned out to be a hit, my Uncle John even said it was "The best pecan pie he has ever had" (Not to toot my own horn, well my mom's horn). I also made one for Blair who had never had pecan pie before. Blasphemy.

Oh, this looks JUST like my imagination.
 So essentially, this post serves as a heads up to my mom. I will be going to the grocery store this evening and baking the pies when I get back from the gym (interesting sequence of events). Please have your cell phone handy and congratulations in advance for two delicious pies that you will have baked long distance! Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Kleenex Queen

Yesterday morning I woke up sneezing and my eyes were even more reluctant to open than normal. It is not unusual for me to be a little congested [hate that word, by the way] when I first wake up so I didn't really think anything of it. As the morning went on and I continued sneeze I thought it best to take some Tylenol Cold & Sinus when I went home for lunch. I am now convinced that said medicine is an accelerant for cold symptoms.

If they mean it will provide you with severe cold/head congestion then this is not false advertising.
Keep in mind that like my father, I am a violent sneezer. This means not only do I sneeze loudly but to the point where my chest and back actually hurt. Back to my story, I return to my desk and the sneezing fits ensue. People start poking there heads around the corner and curiously looking at me and saying, "Is that you!?". Yup, sure is. And then the e-mails start, yes, office-wide e-mails that say things like "How does such a big sound come from such a little person?" or my personal favorite, "I thought it was a helicopter from the Veteran's Day parade but then I realized it's just Mary sneezing again". Cool.

I finally survived until 5:00, went to the grocery store with Marsha to pick up my "sick food" (soup, saltines, etc.) and hurried back home. The sneezing continued and somewhere during the evening I completely lost my voice and felt a lot like this...

Woe is me.
However, this morning, after a good night's sleep I woke up feeling like a brand new woman, well aside from the sore back due to my feverish sneezing attacks. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stylishly Unfashionable

My sister often teases me for being an unadventurous dresser. Laura is definitely more fashion forward and much less intimidated by trends then I am. I typically buy things in neutral colors and if I do buy something with color it is typically red or maybe green, if I am feeling really daring. Exciting, I know. So this is why, when I saw this picture on the New York Times website I started laughing uncontrollably at my desk...

Women on the bench=Me in 50 years.
Isn't that great!? The girl in the black would clearly be my sister Laura and I would be one of the women dressed for comfort sitting in front of the fountain. However, if you examine their outfits a little bit closer you will see that not all is lost, there is hope for me yet. For example, the woman on the far left end of the bench is not scared of mixing patterns, good for her! Also, they are all carrying the identical (and very festive) handbag, I am all about consistency. The woman sitting in the middle of the bench is wearing a very nice shade of blue and sporting some seriously stylish shades, accessories are key!

Basically I am trying to make myself feel better for being so boring. At least one of the Branch girls got some fashion sense. If nothing else it looks like in a few years I will have some great friends that will sit with me in the park. Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Birthday November 9th!

I am currently coping with the fact that I am 24 years old. I have toyed around with a few ideas of how to blog about my birthday and have decided that instead of making this post about me and how pitiful/old I am starting to feel (which it will still partially be about) I thought I should make it educational. Therefore I will now present you all with a carefully constructed list about things that have happened on November 9th, things related to the number "24", and a few facts about some previous Mary Branch birthday extravaganzas. Prepare to be amazed.

1. November 9, 1862: General Ambrose Burnside assumes command of the Union Army. General Burnside thought himself unworthy of this position. This was not a completely unwarranted feeling as he finished 18th out of 20 with his graduating class at West Point. Officers soon rebelled against Burnside and he was replaced General Joseph Hooker almost two months later. Great facial hair, bad general. Can't win 'em all.

Sweet 'stache?
 2. November 9, 1989: East Germany opens the Berlin Wall. Peace out Cold War, thanks for playing.

3. November 9, 1965: "The Great Northeast Blackout" occurred when all of New York State, 7 surrounding states, and parts of Canada were without power for hours. The blackout occurred at the height of rush hour, trapping 800,000 in the city's subways. I bet it smelled just like roses.

4. November 9, 2001: The Kodak Theatre, the home of the Oscars opens. Where is my trophy?

And the Oscar goes to...THE BIRTHDAY GIRL!
5. November 9, 1966: John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at an art exhibit. Good-bye Beatles, sorry world!

6. November 9, 1620: Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower spot land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Maybe that makes up for #5? Ok maybe not.

"I can't believe the Beatles broke up. This winter is going to be the pits."
7. November 9, 1888: Jack the Ripper kills Mary Jane Kelly, his last known victim. Um yikes.

8. November 9, 1993: The Dave Matthews Band releases their first album.

9. Famous people also born on November 9th: Lou Ferrigno ("The Hulk"), golfer David Duval, Sisqo, Nick Lachey, and Eric Dane.

Just for you Mom.
10. November 9th marks Cambodia's independence from France. Awesome.

11. The 24th Amendment states prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of, English please?

12. Grover Cleavland served as the 24th President of the United States. Hail to the chief.

13. "The Godfather" is the 24th highest grossing movie released in the United States.

I can't refuse birthday cake.
14. In an IMDB poll, "Psycho" is the 24th best movie ever. Debatable because I still have nightmares.

15. In another poll, "Gone with the Wind" is the 24th greatest American novel. I don't know why its not in the top ten and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

16. Jack Bauer. DUH.

I can wish you "Happy Birthday" all day long because my phone never runs out of battery.
 17. Lindsay Lohan is 24. I win.

18. I still have one year until I am a quarter of a century old. Phew!

19. I know with 100% certainty that none of my presents will be from the Limited Too this year.

20. Unfortunately I will not be attending Disney on Ice as I did for several years on my birthday.

Magical. Sorry for the years of torture Dad.
 21. I will not be forced to wear any sort of ridiculous birthday crown, pin, or boa or any combination of the three at work tomorrow.

22. Maybe this will be the birthday when I finally get an an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. One can only dream.

23. One year at my Halloween themed birthday party (a little late, I know) we bobbed for apples and I hated it/threw a mini temper tantrum because I wasn't good at it. I was too old for all of the previous activities.

24. Re-watching some old home videos I am ripping through presents and not thanking anyone (in my defense, I was 3) and am throwing aside books and clothes to get to a Barbie. Some things never change.

Sorry this is so long. I really do love birthdays and am very excited to celebrate with friends tomorrow and can't wait to add to the list next year, thanks for reading!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just Another Sunday

In theory today was supposed to be a fairly relaxing, run of the mill Sunday. Instead it turned into another thrilling episode of "The Adventures of Marsha, Mary, and Sam". I wish I had pictures to accompany this post but you all will just have to use your imagination...

Our adventure began when Marsha and I decided to run to Zaxby's to pick up some lunch. Now, if you know me at all, and I am sure my sister and Blair can both attest to this, I always, and I do mean always, like to look presentable when I go out in public. This does not have to mean make-up and hair clean (but it usually does) and I know this seems shallow but it is just how I am. So sue me. Anyhoo, I am telling you that because when Marsha and I set out for our adventure I am wearing my pajamas (there was a Law & Order:SVU marathon on, don't judge) but I did have contacts in and teeth brushed so some progress was made. Marsha and I successfully make it through the drive through and then drop of some lunch for her sister and we are heading back to our house when we hear a really loud "POP". Yup. Bye tire. Thanks for playing.

So naturally with our freshly popped tire the next available place to turn into is an event facility. Where there is currently an event taking place. Cool. This would normally not be a huge deal but there is obviously an event occurring and this place has huuuge windows. Awesome. What is also awesome is the fact that Marsha has her life [clothes, shoes, binders, crock pots, etc.] in her trunk which we have to transfer to her backseat in order to get the spare tire out. Now our army of help arrives. I say an army because Sam, her boyfriend, and four of his friends roll up in three different cars. Keep in mind I am still in my pajamas and eating my Zaxby's in the parking lot. Goodbye self-respect. Sam's boyfriend is the only one actually changing the tire, the rest of us are cheering him on. Mission accomplished, tire changed.

After a few much needed showers later Marsha, Sam, and I head to the mall and dinner. We are pulling back up to our house when we see what we think is a cat running up our front steps. Except it was not a cat, it was the largest opossum to ever walk the earth. We are all laughing/screaming, Marsha is talking about her extreme hatred for all things opossum related, Sam feels incredibly violated that this creature has used our front steps and I cannot breathe I am laughing so hard. We finally make it up the steps after banging on the pots and pans that were in Sam's car from our tailgate the day before in our attempt to scare the opossum away.

We obviously survived. Exhausted and increasingly aware of the wildlife in our neighborhood and car trouble, we are ready for the work week. Bring it on Monday. Bring it on. Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 5, 2010

4 Years?!

Today Blair and I are celebrating our four year anniversary. That's right, count 'em, FOUR. It really does not feel like it, which I suppose is a very good thing. I have said before that Blair is the kind of person that everyone has enjoys being around and I have yet to see Blair encounter a person that he has difficulty talking to. However, apparently Blair does have a bit of a difficult time getting along with my camera as some more flattering pictures have emerged, so in celebration of our four years together I have decided I should share with you all. Again.

Rock on Blair, rock on.

Quailman lives!

Hi Blair!

No, YOU!

Next, on "America's Most Wanted"...
As I have mentioned before, Blair has a great sense of humor/he does not own a camera so I have no real fear of retaliation. In all seriousness though, this is a very special day for us and I hope for more (which will naturally serve as the chance to share more glamour shots). Thanks for reading!



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Me vs. The Printer

Today I am exhausted. Not because I ran a marathon or anything like that. No, instead I physically battled the printer at work today. It was touch and go for a while and I definitely felt the cloud of failure looming over me but eventually perseverance won out. So here is what happened...

4:00 rolled around and the office is becoming increasingly quiet as one of our brokers (and a fellow Wofford grad) approached my desk and asks if I can type a few letters for him. I foolishly ask if he would like me to go ahead and type the envelopes as well (way to be an over-achiever Mary) and he says "Oh yea! That'd be great". Super. So I print the letters on our company letterhead. No problemo. Now onto the envelopes. Once I set it so that the font on the letter and the envelopes match I load the first envelope into the printer and think I will be sitting pretty until I can leave at 5:15. FALSE. This probably what I looked like 5 minutes later...

Exaggeration you say? No. The printer in convinced  there is a paper jam. Um, there is no paper in the printer. I proceed to open the printer up, hit cancel a few times, continue a few times, open the printer up again, hit get the idea. The printer (I will eventually name this "machine" but I will not do so in a state of rage because my parents read this blog) is telling me to load my paper, this is exactly what I think I am doing as I am feeding the envelopes in one by one. Failure continues. It is now 5:15, the office is dark. I have now [not so gently] hit the printer a few times and may or may not have stomped my feet on the ground...Anyhoo, I finally realize the trick is to feed the envelope in, hit print, wait for the printer to tell me to load my paper, pull the envelope back out and then feed it in again. Yup. Cool. Eventually I get these bad boys printed, proudly walk back to the broker's office and hand him the letters and envelopes. He looks up from his desk and says "Thanks Mary, I really appreciate it. I was just running behind today". This of course is a very sincere thank-you but inside I wanted someone to jump with with balloons and say "Mary! You are genius! This is the greatest thing ever! And not just ever today but ever in the whole wide world!!!". Instead, I tell him it was my pleasure and I will see him tomorrow. Woe is me.

Moral of the story: If you want me to print something, please allot at least an hour and a chance for me to be alone with the printer with no small children around as I would not want my language to offend. And I guess I should work on that whole "Patience is a virtue" thing. Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Mary Monk?

I don't know if anyone else remembers the USA show "Monk" but I (along with several family and friends) am convinced that I am related to the main character, Detective Adrian Monk. After the violent murder of his beloved wife Trudy, Monk's obsessive-compulsive tendencies became more pronounced. Now, I am not making light of this disorder but I remember watching "Monk" with my father as Monk straightened magazines, evening out pots of coffee (even if it meant mixing regular with decaf), untwisting the phone cord, and finding myself saying "I don't think that's so odd, I do that".

Apparently this is not normal.

I have absolutely 100% done this at a restaurant before.
So today at work as I found myself organizing writing utensils in different mugs on my desk with one cup for pencils, one for pens, and one for highlighters I then set to the task of separating paper clips by size. WHO AM I!?! Another incident occurred on Sunday morning at the annual Richardson Homecoming brunch when Blair watched as I opened a Halloween chocolate wrapped in aluminum foil (careful not to rip the foil, duh) then proceeded to flatten out the foil using the arm of my chair until it is completely smooth finally folding the wrapper into a perfect little square (please keep in mind this is also after I have confessed to the group that I dressed up as Anne of Green Gables for Halloween when I was younger, neat). So, am I Mary Monk? I think yes.

Do I have a color coded closet? Yes. Will I re-make my bed if the sheets are not even? You betcha. Have I used an entire container of hand sanitizer at work since last Monday? Duh. Did I line up my cereal boxes by height when I got home from the grocery store? Naturally. Do I think its great that November 1st happened to fall on a Monday this year so that the first of the month matches with the first day of the work week? Oh yeah. Basically, if I lose a few friends following this post I am won't take it personally. And in case, you were wondering, my Anne of Green Gables costume was awesome. Thanks for reading!