Friday, November 30, 2007

And Now Yoga?

I have always wanted to take yoga classes. When we lived in Virginia, there weren't many options to do so. I ran quite a bit (even did one (1) and only one (1) marathon) and worked out at the gym. I took some Bodyflow classes, which incorporated some yoga moves. But never a real yoga class.

When we moved to the PNW, my yoga opportunities increased a thousand-fold, it seemed. There are probably ten yoga studios in our town, with choices of Bikram, Iyengar, Viniyoga, Hatha, and more.

I figured when my schedule settled down some (as in not working 60-hour weeks) I'd be able to fit in the luxury of ninety-minute mid-morning classes.

This week, my husband started taking yoga. As my upset nine-year-old niece said when her older sister got her ears pierced, "You don't understand. . . you're living my dream!" He's living my yoga dream. Of course, I didn't get off my ass and go--he did. I thought it would be too much with my three-times-a-week boot camp, NaBloPoMO, and NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, trip back east, and my regular work schedule--and I was right. I can't do everything.

But I'm going with him tomorrow morning. And I'm really excited! Maybe I can fit in two or three classes a week. . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Doing Stuff I Don't Wanna Do

That sounds whiney, I know. And I'm perfectly okay with that.

I'm going to stop doing stuff I don't wanna do! Why wouldn't I?

Tonight I went to a very, very crowded sports bar and watched a football game with some friends. I didn't care about the game, but I do care about my friends, so when they asked, while my first thought was, "thanks but no," I wanted to see them, so I said "why not?".

First clue that I should have gone home instead: The bouncer dude blocked the door as I tried to enter.

"You got a stamp?" he said to me, while talking on his cell phone.

"I don't know what you're talking about." I didn't know who he was or that he worked there.

"You already been in here?" He's still blocking me from entering, and way too far into my personal space.

"Um, no."

"We're full here." Like I should know this. I told him my friends were already here.

"They got a seat reserved for you?"

"I don't know," I said, implying you idiot.

"Well, I'll let you in."

"Thanks." It's possible my look communicated some disgust with his rudeness.

"Don't look at me like that," he said to my back. I had an urge to turn back and throw him a one-fingered salute, but I was busy trying to make my way through the bodies slammed together like spaghetti in a box, all the while thinking why am I in this place? Finally I spotted my friends standing and waving their arms frantically.

I squeezed in. The place was so crowded that they couldn't keep up with drink and food orders, so the waitress literally recommended we not order food. Therefore, I drank more beer (when we finally got some) than I probably would have. Not way too much, but more than two.

After the game, starving, we went to a nearby Thai place. I ordered some soup and rice. Luckily I didn't eat too much, but it was 10 p.m. by the time we left. I'm driving away, freezing to death, thinking "why did I go through all of this just to watch a game I don't care about??".

I arrived home tired, grumpy, whiney, and wishing I had just gone home after work like I really wanted to do.

I was invited to go to Seattle Saturday with the same friends; I didn't commit because I didn't really want to go. I'm telling them tomorrow I'm not going. I'm going to have a delicious Saturday and Sunday at home.

Because that's what I wanna do. And it beats the hell out of doing something I don't wanna do and whining about it after.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


My husband is fearless. He is not a daredevil, mind you. He doesn't go for really extreme sports--beyond scooping the poop of a 96-pound dog once a week or so. His sport love is kayaking. He learned rock climbing to get over his fear of heights.

But the man will talk to anyone, email anyone, phone anyone. He asks directions. He asks people which way to bathroom. He is not embarassed to not know where to go or how to do something. He learns a whole lot just by doing the asking thing. Just now he said, "I'd try to get in touch with Bill Gates if I needed something from him."

He reaches out to people with absolutely no fear of rejection or of feeling dumb.

Me? I grew up too embarassed by my size to go up for seconds in a buffet line. I didn't want people to laugh at the fat girl.

I nearly died the first time a professor read my writing aloud in English 102. I had an actual anxiety attack. I didn't want anyone looking at me while he read.

I used to lose sleep for days before a public speaking class or "real" event where I had to speak in front of a group.

Then a funny thing happened. I took on an alternate persona who was braver than I, who could stand up tall and talk to more than one person at a time. First, she did the eulogy at a dear friend's funeral. Then, she spoke to the congregation at church about how she came to find Unitarianism. Then she led an auction at a charity event. Finally, she became president of a women's networking group and led meetings for eighty people every month.

The alternate personality varied, but was usually Oprah or Beyonce. Not sure why I choose one-named African-American women as my alter egos--aside from the fact that they're both on top of the world and can do anything. Oprah and Beyonce are fearless. So, whenever I found a microphone in my hand, my little voice said, pretend you're Beyonce, and I could do it.

But call Beyonce? Um, I don't think so. She might find out I'm a dork and I've been pretending to be her for years. And then what would happen? I'd just die of embarassment, that's all.

The beauty in this story is that the older I become, the more fearless I become. I don't care as much what people think. I'm becoming more confident in my talents and knowledge. I convey that I care and that I'm sincere and of integrity, and have good information to impart. And what exactly is so scary about that?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Closet of Misfit Gifts

I'm no good at this season. I've no talent for shopping. I could care less if my house is lit or if there is a tree in the corner. I used to love all that stuff. I don't know what happened.

Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe working 50 or 60 hours a week leaves no time for that other stuff. Maybe I'm cynical and jaded. Oh, and I don't believe in the Reason For The Season, either. Hmmmm, maybe we're onto something here.

I like buying presents for people. It's the wrapping and shipping parts I don't necessarily ever--ahem--get to. There is a corner in a closet where I toss things I've purchased for others and never given.

A partial list:

One (1) luggage tag in shape of a woman's pump. Totally cute. Meant for my friend in LA.

One (1) boxed Family Game Set purchased for our friends in Virginia.

Two (2) scarves: one black, one purple. I think they were meant for my nieces.

One (1) book of IOU sexual favors gift certificates purchased for my hubby and god knows how it ended up in the pile. Like I can give it to anyone else?

One (1) book titled Raising A Daughter, purchased for a friend who just had one. I forgot to give it to her when she first had the baby and I don't see her often. The child will be raised by the time she actually receives the book.

One (1) cutie-pie girl's hat and gloves set and a little boy sweatshirt from The Gap purchased for some friends' kids TWO Christmases ago. Oops.

One (1) set of amber glass bear salt-and-pepper shakers purchased for the parents of the above kids. They (the bears, not the kids) are now in my kitchen, where sometimes D. and I face them together like they're kissing. They are too cute.

Six (6) fish barrettes purchased for my niece about three years ago. And a t-shirt from our Farmers Market for her brother.

When I buy things for people, D. looks at me with an eyebrow cocked up like he knows where they're going to end up.

In the closet. The closet of misfit gifts. Waiting for Santa.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Cat Who Won't Shut UP!

I have two cats. Both are adorable, orange, long-haired tabby cats, which are widely known as the best, most mellow and sweet, good-natured, adorable, sweetest, mellowest, chillest, coolest, kindest, smartest, most adorable cats on the Planet Earth.

Except for right now. One of them is walking around the house meowing in his eff'd up way, which sounds like a cross between nails on a chalkboard and a--well, wild cat in heat--not that this one knows anything about that. What sound in creation could be more annoying?? I am absolutely powerless to stop it.

(Just for fun, give a cat a command of your choice and then hold your breath and see who dies first.)

I love all animals; the ones who agree to live in my house and eat my food are my children--I'm a little weird like that. I think animals have more inherent rights than many people deserve and I am a humongous supporter of every animal rights group, yes, including PETA, and some may think it's "because" I don't have children, but god, the animals need SOMEONE on their side who thinks they're as important as people, do they not?? So whether I have spawn or not does not enter into this equation. I know too well how dogs and cats take a back seat when the kids come into the picture.

That said, this particular animal is asking for it, big time.

"Reerrrrawwwaaarrraaaahhhhhh," says he.

"What do you WANT?" says I.

"Mrrreeeeeewaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaahhhhh," says the cat.

"Be quiet! You're NOT going outside!" says the patient and kind animal lover.

Pad, pad, pad go the furry paws; swish, swish, swish go the butt and high-held tail. Around the kitchen, through the hall, in circles around my chair and the dining room table, and back to the hall again.

"Weeeehhhhhhhaaaaaaayyyyoooooouuuuuuuhhhhhh," says he, more forlornly than last time.

"Oh for godssake, what IS it?" says I. I follow him downstairs to the cubby where their food bowls live.

Oops. Empty.

Ok, I'm the bad one.

This cat is up for adoption. His name is Twinkie. He looks exactly like mine. You need this cat. I'm sure he's very quiet.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Favorite Poem by My Favorite Poet

Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)
From Complete Poems, 1924

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I Believe I'll Stay Out of the Loop

After spending the past couple of weeks sheltered from what poses as national news, I had the luxury of time today to read and catch up. As always, two newspapers magically appeared on the porch this morning, each touting headlines about Black Friday,the shoppers who got in line at Wal Mart Thursday night after Thanksgiving Dinner, and the 1.3 million pairs of socks sold at Fred Meyer's.

This is news? Or do we just need a break from the war in Iraq, another impending one in Iran, the mess in Pakistan, and the lead toys from China?

Are those reasons enough to plaster Kanye West's mother's death all over the airwaves (and the *internets*)? Actually, in this case, I think it's our culture's current and obscene obsession with celebrity, plastic surgery, or the irresistible combination of the two.

What an important time we are living in. The dumbing down of America equates to news of celebrity, plastic surgery, and finding "good deals" on crap that nobody needs. I think I'll grab a good book and go back into my cave.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Will Shop No More Forever Or The Battle For the Plain White Plate

Upon returning from New York, I was a little busy. First up: the dreaded first-day-back-from-vacation at work, which turned into the dreaded first THREE days back. I had to attend two after-hours events, on top of dealing with jet lag and very little sleep. The weekend was no respite, but was spent in mad “company and Thanksgiving dinner prep” mode. I spent a day cleaning the house, an evening schlepping the food, a few hours finding and washing the china and crystal, and a RIDICULOUSLY. LONG. MORNING. SHOPPING. FOR. SIX. PLATES.

We needed a few plates to supplement our china-for-eight, since we were having twelve for dinner and had finally pitched our old, tired, not-even-good-enough-for-goodwill dishes. First stop: Target. Had a long list of necessary household items to buy, and wanted to try out the cute Method mop thingie (that ultimately disappointed), so after visiting our rug dealer, we headed up to the Tar-Jay. Got everything on the list, except the plates: all of their basic white casual dinnerware was completely cleaned out. Big surprise.

Next stop: Pier One. Right around the corner from Target. I remembered P1 having a decent selection of dishes. I remembered incorrectly. Candles? Check. Martini glasses? Yup. Crap for your walls? Tons. Dishes to eat off of? Not so much. D. and I found a plain white dinner plate that was acceptable, stacked six or so up in a pile, and discovered inconsistent, uneven edges that you could see a mile away. More waves than a tsunami. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Forgetaboutit.

Third stop: Macy’s home store. On their “biggest sale of the year” day. Semi-huge mistake. Found some simple, elegant and nicely made (i.e., consistent) dinner plates, salad plates, and humongous cereal bowls. We got the last six dinner plates they had in the store. Whew! Somehow, we were able to hold all of our new dishes in our four arms and headed for the checkout line. We chose the wrong line, as we always do, and stood in it for thirty-five minutes while my hands turned numb.

Did you know that at Macy’s, the checkout person (ours was the slowest in the history of the planet) has to put a dumb little sticker on each and every item that you purchase? Did you know that they take approximately fifteen seconds for each item? We had eighteen, and by the time he stuck the fifth label and slowly scanned five plates, we had been in line for forty-five minutes. We grabbed his stickers and started sticking the rest of the plates and bowls ourselves. Finally he finished ringing us up. Luckily, someone else wrapped them, or we would still be there, and our guests would have had nothing to eat for Thanksgiving.

The nice wrapping person then offered to carry them to the parcel pick-up door so we could avoid carrying eighty-five pounds of dinnerware through the mall to our car. Unfortunately, she fell on the way and smashed one dinner plate to bits. Various Macy’s staff people spent about twenty minutes checking over each plate and searching for one to replace the broken one. There was no other such plate in the store. Now we have six bowls, six salad plates, and five dinner plates.

Figured I’d order the remaining plate on line. Nope. They don’t carry that particular one. Just in the store. Fine. I ordered six additional plates of a similar style so I could have six that matched. Oy! I am staying out of stores for the next six weeks. I cannot handle it, and I don’t have the time to waste just to buy more crap!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful

I am thankful for my family.

I am thankful for my friends.

I am thankful for my adorable, wonderful husband.

I am thankful for my adorable, wonderful animals.

I am thankful for my good health and for the good health of my family, friends, husband, and animals.

I am thankful that we will have a new president in a little over a year.

I am thankful that I have two gorgeous new/old rugs on my floors.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Method Mopping for Me

Ok, I admit it. I’m a clever-marketing sucker. I adore great design, smart packaging, and clever advertising. I am a fan of any good idea that I wish I’d thought of.

Enter the Method line of soaps, household cleaners, gels, sprays, candles, scent sticks, air fresheners, and on and on. So, they should have probably stopped with the new lines of products several products ago (hello? Seasonal scented hand soap? Give me a break.), but I was still willing to buy their stuff because it’s cute and safe for me and not tested on animals which is the MOST important aspect of anything I buy.

Take their floor cleaning system, for instance. I am not a fan of the traditional mop, and I’ve tried every type ever made: classic cotton mop-head mops, twisty stripey fabric mops, the dreaded sponge mop—you name it, I have purchased it, hated it, and thrown it away. Except for the Swiffer Wet Jet, a dumb name for what I judged as a wasteful product. I’m not into the disposable thing.

The Method O mop looked like it made so much more sense: one mop handle, plus compostable (huge bonus) dusting wipes for my endless animal-hair-covered wood floors, and a micro-fiber cleaning mop that velcroes in place and is washable and reusable. Voila! I happily placed the little kit in my cart and couldn’t wait to use it. I’m a cleaning dork like that.

Well, the Method guys have disappointed me for the first time. Suck me in if you will, but you MUST give me a quality product that works, or your clever marketing is just that and I will lose all respect for you.

The dust clothes work just fine, and the fact that I’m disposing them in my compost pile makes me feel all righteous and stuff. But the moppy thing is for the birds. (Hmm. Strange saying, that.) Pushes forward ok, as a mop should, but when you pull it back toward yourself, the whole head flips over and gets stuck. It is impossible—at least for me—to mop with this product in a normal back-and-forth motion.

Sigh. When will my search for mopping perfection ever end? Must I invent it myself? And what would that look like? Someone mopping my floors while I write novels, that’s what.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Six Pounds of Butter

Imagine six packages of butter. Bulky, yellow, squishy, fatty, mushy globs of slick, shiny butter. Imagine it all balled up in, well, a ball. Imagine that ball attached to your back, or your ass, or your thighs.

Since I started doing Boot Camp, I have lost that six pound ball. Of butter. Of fat. Of flour. Of rice. Of beer. Of wine. Of those little Kashi TLC crackers that I adore so very much.

Six pounds, ladies and gentlemen. I did not diet. I never thought that I overate all that much anyway (hello? Denial? Yes, Claire B calling). But I am more aware of what I eat without the self-loathing that might, just might, have led to an overdrinking/munching episode or twelve.

Now, in Phase Deux of BC, I am doing so much better! I can do just about all the reps without wanting to turn and run from the room. I did four hundred jumping jacks and a jazillion lunges and squats on Monday (aptly named "Legs" day) and I did not fall down weeping. I feel it today, mind you. But I am just fine. I can help myself up from a seated position and everything, which was not the case during Boot Camp Round One.

It's exciting and satisfying and it is really HUGE for me. To see and feel changes in my body as a direct result of working hard and feeling pain and not quitting--it's a big deal and I'm proud of myself.

To see the scale move down was an unexpected bonus. I guess I had psyched myself into not hoping for that. Funny how a lifetime of battling weight will do that to a person.

Gotta keep on moving, keep on pushin', as Professor Klump would say. Now is NOT the time to stop--no way. Can't wait for tomorrow's session.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Short Days, Long Nights

As much as I love summer in the Pacific Northwest, I relish this time of year, when I feel the real beauty in the change of seasons. Not the colors, but rather the quiet.

In the park, hoards of screaming kids have been replaced with a dog or two and their humans.

The brilliant hot pinks, purples and oranges of our daily sunset have turned to a warm golden glow filtered through a hundred hues of gray.

The days seem longer to me—or rather, the evenings do . . . and since that’s my time at home, it makes the whole day seem longer and much more relaxed.

It’s dark so early now. Looking at the clock, I catch myself being surprised at how much evening is left. I would sometimes feel dread in August (“Oh god, it’s time for bed already, which means I have to go to work AGAIN.”), but I smile in November (“Wow, it’s only 7:15? I have almost three hours left in my day! Yay!”).

A slowness, a relaxation, a stillness settles over the house. We’re not running, running, packing as much as we can into our long, perfect summer days before they’re gone. As the long fall and winter stretches before us, we have no choice but to hunker down, settle in, and enjoy.

I really love this time of year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I feel like the PB&J

I feel like a sandwich. Not eating one, but being one. On one side of me are the self-induced pressures of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo at the clip of 1700 words a day, plus participating in NaBloPoMo, with the requirement to post every day to this blog (thank god I only have one). On the other side is Thanksgiving looming before me. I’m hosting, as usual, and there will be twelve people at my house.

On the writing: I was out of town for six days, over last weekend, and accomplished some—but not enough—writing. I got to know my characters better, and figured out some scenarios that could work for the Big Secret they share.

This is good, for when writing a novel from scratch, i.e., when you pop open the laptop and start Word and a blank page stares you down and you then begin writing a story with characters you do not know and a town you have not named and a plot that is yet uninteresting, you have a huge challenge before you—one that is the most inspiring freedom you can experience. I think that’s the Whole Idea behind NaNoWriMo—have fun, be inspired, be overwhelmed with possibility, be scared that you cannot do it, and do it anyway. How very cool.

As for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I don’t have to cook a turkey, which is going to happen about the same time I become a size 2 and give up beer and wine. I do let it into my house, however, but only because I don’t want to be the Thanksgiving Witch. I’d rather have a meatless day—it is my house, after all, but I want my friends and family to be happy, too.

I do have about one hundred and fifty other things on my list, from cleaning the house and shopping for groceries to finding the china and figuring out how to get twelve people around my table.

I’m feeling a little squished, but it will be fine. It will all work out. We’ll have plenty of good visiting and conversation and lots of food to eat. But not PB&Js.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Falling Into Winter

We live across the street from a beautiful park, full of huge trees and flowering shrubs of all sorts. Since we moved here this past spring, we’ve observed them all in their seasonal glory: light green leaves, white blooms, red berries, orange foliage.

We went away for a few days, and the brownish-orange leaves were still hanging to the grandest of the trees, perfectly framed in the high leaded-glass window over the piano.

A major windstorm hit while we were in New York. All the leaves are gone.

And the sky is grey.

And that’s the way it will stay until the spring.

A lovely, sleepy intensity lives in the tree branches and the prickly bushes lining the park. The playground waits, too, like a big fish at the ocean floor, watching unmoving until something comes along and it wakes it, suddenly alert and at the ready. An occasional dog roams by, sniffing the base of the monkey bars. The playground waits for the hardy children who are allowed out in the cold.

Soon the big tree's branches will lie under snow and we’ll gaze from the window seats, coffee mugs in hand, appreciating the warmth of the fire.

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Education, Interrupted

I read my parents’ engagement announcement for the very first time last week. It said he was going to be entering college in January; they were going to live on the lake.

“What happened?” I said to Dad, “Why didn’t you go?” I knew he had given up a football scholarship to Pitt in favor of joining the Marines, an offensive move in itself, as he did not want to be drafted into the Army, for god’s sake.

But when he returned from the war, and after they married, he had intended to go to college. And then my grandfather bought a grocery store and dad was in business. And that ended his college plans.

I can’t help but wonder what all of our lives would have been like. Would he have been an accountant? Would thier lives have been easier? Would they have been happier? Would they have had all of us kids?

That last one is the only question I can answer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad

Today is their 60th wedding anniversary. He was just over twenty years old; she, almost twenty-two: like all her daughters to come, she married a younger man.

They were gorgeous. He looked a lot like Bill Clinton, only much better looking. He stood very tall, with the straight back of a US Marine. She looked very Irish, with her dark hair and blue eyes; fair skin and trim figure.

On that day, they looked really happy. They look as happy 60 years later. They are best friends, have the admiration and respect of all of their children, grandchildren, the community, and scores of their children’s friends. They receive letters from people whose lives they’ve touched in their subtle, steady, loving way.

They are deeply religious, but not judgmental. They took care of my grandmother into her nineties. They take care of each other. They worry about their kids and grandkids without prying into their lives. They are proud of us for whatever we have accomplished.

They truly gave us roots and wings, as they saying goes. Roots grounded in decent behavior toward others, belief in human rights, and a real work ethic. Wings that allow us to be who we are and to live our lives as individuals, responsible for ourselves and to our communities.

They are loved. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Three Hours In Detroit

On our way home from NY, we had a too-long layover in Detroit. "We get to eat!" said D.

"Yippee!" said I.

Our vegetarian selves walked the length, the breadth, the width of the C and A concourses (is that the plural form? Should it be concoursi?) in search of sustenance.

What did we find?

Fuddruckers. Certainly they have a veggie burger. Puh-leeze, lady. Whaddryou thinkin? Ok, well screw YOU Fuddrucker's! Motherfudders! Excuse me while I post a complaint on their website. . .

The Mediterranean Grill? Like hummus, eggplant, basil, squash and crusty bread Mediterranean? Uh, no. Grillin' up some chickin' and some beef, they were.

Oh--I know, the Mexican place! A veg head's dream!? Beans, rice, tortillas, si? NO!!! I was astounded to see NOT ONE item on the menu except for the Beef or Chicken Quesadilla*. No thanks, but I did enjoy a crappy margarita for 8 bucks. I needed it to calm myself down a bit! This place didn't have a single vegetarian selection, I kid you not. Thanks Diego's you shithead airport restaurant. Although your staff persons were quite pleasant and nice.

*can be ordered with just cheese

Ok, then, how about the fancy Grey Goose martini bar? Surely I'll find a salad? A sandwich? C'MON! What RU thinkin? Twelve paninis and five salads on the menu and NOT ONE was without meat. Not one! Could they handle the concept of a veggie panini like the rest of the free world does on a daily basis? Do they KNOW the definition of salad for godssake? Apparently not.

We sat down anyway. I ordered the cheese plate and was handed the hugest pile of chopped up cheese I have ever set eyes upon. And those Pepperidge Farm fancy crackers that I haven't purchased in ten years, although I don't know why. . . I'm probably too organically snobby for PF these days.

D gave up and ordered a turkey gouda panini. Told you he wasn't a vegetarian anymore.

I don't expect ten vegetarian restaurants to every one "normal" restaurant--in an airport or anywhere. And I know I am completely and totally spoiled by living where I live, knowing I can add tofu and tempeh to anything on the menu that doesn't feature it as the main attraction of the dish.

But I do expect a few effin' options in a freakin' international airport. It was disgusting, really.

I had to walk up and down the concourse to get the cheese ball moving through my system before I boarded the plane. Good thing we had three hours. And no, I did not make my seatmates suffer.

Next time I fly through Detroit, I'm boycotting the entire food-court-gossip-magazine-crap-from-China thing and keeping my wallet in my bag. That'll teach 'em.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Things That Spell Thirteen

T is for Travel, which I love and don't get to do often enough

H is for Hussy, which I have been described as and have no problem with

I is for Irish, which I am fortunate to be, thoroughly and completely: the sappy, emotional "I love mum" crying part as well as the happy "hey let's have another Guinness" part

R is for Righteous Babe, which I like to think of myself as, for sure

T is for Talent, which for me is writing and I'm finally embracing the concept without feeling like a bad, bragging girl

E is for Elizabeth, who is my grandmother, even though she's been gone for nine years--she's still my grandmother

E is for Elizabeth again, which is my middle name, after her

N is for Nice, which very few people have EVER accused me of being--which is fine by me

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Stupidist Thing I've Seen All Day!

Here it is, folks.

Gosh, thanks, Dr. Cliff Pickover (oh, I am so tempted), thank you SO much for teaching me the difference between men and women. I really needed it simplified and making it into this wacky dials-and-knobby-thingies graphic REALLY helped me.

I decided to Stumble and write about whatever came up.

Why did this come up?

What did I tell them about myself that generated this pathetic website?

I'm shuddering over here. I can't even write about it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Miscellaneous Fun Stuff

There's this guy named Jimmy Knox. Jimmy has a sister Marquita, and he lives on Juanita (that's a lake). She cuts hair. He makes it into rugs (the hairpieces, not the ones you walk upon). You can't make this stuff up.

My dad was telling me about a guy he used to know, named Sammy. Everyone called him Sammy the Shoe Man (guess what he did for a living?). My dad said, "He had sole." Har har! "When he met you, he would shake your hand, but he wouldn't look into your eyes--because he was looking at your shoes."

My niece is six and has a very sharp wit (in addition to being completely adorable--oh, yeah, she has it all). One morning, she looked at her mom, who was in her usual morning-running-around attire. With one hand on her hip, and the other using a baby carrot for emphasis, she looked at her mom and said, "Mom, I've just about had it with those pilates pants."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dogs Who Walk Themselves and Other Hometown Stories

Sitting in one of our favorite pubs last week, I turned my gaze from my table mates when I spotted two dogs strolling down the sidewalk. Apparently alone and walking side by side, their easy rambling way reminded me of two old friends. Two old men, perhaps, heading out for a drink or to meet their lady friends at a dance. Or maybe they were just getting in some much-needed exercise. No humans followed them. I’m still wondering about it.
Dogs are everywhere, including out on dates with their humans. One of my favorite summer nights out starts with a walk downtown to the best pizza place in town, where dogs are welcome on the deck and they can help themselves to the big water bowls. Afterward, we saunter over to a live-music pub where we try to choose from among the excellent beers on tap and where, again, dogs are welcome to hang with their people. Ours lay among the peanut shells and took a nap while we enjoyed beer, tunes, and friends.
I pass an elementary and a high school on my four-minute drive home from the gym. Every morning, I observe a simple act that many don’t have a chance to see anymore: kids walking and riding their bikes to school. At both schools, the bike racks and the sidewalks out front are full. I love watching the little backpacked boys and girls hurrying down the street, and I gauge my lateness by how fast they’re going—because we both need to be somewhere by 8:15.
What else do I love about my town? While it might not have been apparent in a previous post, I do love the political climate—because in our city’s recent mayoral race, we actually had to choose between two liberal progressives. Wow!

Friday, November 9, 2007

It's All Good

I am a lucky woman. I come from a large family. We were all raised Catholic, and apart from our parents, none of us participate in the Catholic part any longer

And that's okay.

I am in upstate NY this weekend, celebrating my parents' 60th anniversary. Most of my siblings are here, along with lots of nieces and nephews. We are eating well, and drinking some really nice Pale Ale. We are yakking and laughing over old oft-told tales until our mouths hurt and sides ache.

Somehow, we all get along really well. Somehow, we really love each other, despite our differences, which are few. Most of us are like-minded politcally, socially, intellectually. Many of us share a love of beer. We love our siblings' spouses and children. As one of my brothers would say "It's All Good." No matter what's going on, who's going through difficulties, and how our successes or failures stack up against each others', it's all good. And if you ask any of us, each would answer that the "somehow" that made the difference in our lives is our parents. They could not have done a better job raising all of us and the results are amazing.

We're healthy, happy, and here. No one is ill. Our parents are vital, and still very much in love. They are best friends.

We are incredibly lucky. And trying to hold onto it while we can. Someday, and who knows when, I won't be able to say that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What I hate about flying

“Traveling today is not like it use be!” everyone complains. Long security lines, ridiculous regulations and surly TSA employees are just the start. Then you get crammed onto another full flight where you have less leg room than a first-grader’s desk. On my recent flight, there was no movie to ease the pain (thanks a lot, Northwest Airlines!) but you could enjoy the privilege of purchasing a box of crapfood for five bucks. Five hours later, and you’re on the other coast—which is less time than it will take for your poor legs to uncramp.

All of this is the new reality that most of us have actually become accustomed to.

None of this, however, is what I hate about flying.

What I hate about flying is the smell. Two hundred fifty breathing, sweating, sloughing off skin-ing, belching and FARTING people crammed into a space designed for half that many with absolutely no escape. I don’t despise my fellow human except for when he (or she, but I think mostly he) is farting on me. Yes, ON me. The air is moving around my body and I am in the middle of it so the fart-filled molecules are falling on me and my clothes. I am breathing the fart-filled molecules into my nose—and I shudder to think of where they originated.

Farting on the shuttle bus, farting in the security line, farting on the jetway, farting for three thousand miles at thirty five thousand miles up.

It’s a good thing they’re not allowing passengers to light up anymore, or we’d all be blown to pieces.

I hate flying. It’s the farting, my friend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Real Progress

Today was Day 1, Week 1, of Round 2 of Boot Camp. A new, improved version of Boot Camp for me. Again with the hundreds of lunges, jumping jacks, squats, over-arm claps, sadistic mountain climbers, and 8-count pushups.

But today, AMAZINGLY and very surprisingly, I was able to do every effin' repetition of every effin' exercise as the uberfit (what is wrong with me today? I hate the fad of using "uber" to describe just about every single feeling, emotion, object, person, place and thing, which in itself negates the term) instructor barked them out to us. I did them all, not effortlessly, mind you, but without pain. WITHOUT pain. This is real progress.

After class, I walked briskly to my car, easily lowered myself into the seat, and went about my drive home and the rest of my day without a thought of my burning muscles. I felt good. No, great.

Compare this to my description of this same class eight weeks ago.

I am making real progress. My body is adapting and getting stronger. And I'm thrilled about it. Now if it would only reward me by losing a few pounds, I'd be ecstatic. Not too much to ask, izzit??

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

You Want Me to Do How Many Push Ups?

On the first day of Boot Camp, we measure our fitness levels, or yes, the obvious lack thereof, in five exercises: Push Ups (real ones--Boy Push Ups), Crunches, Squats, Knee Push Ups (I call them Girl Push Ups without shame) and Steps. This is my second round of Boot Camp, thus the second time I've established my base line of fitness.

How did I perform? Do you care? Of course you do!

Boy Push Ups: 21 in 1 minute (First round of Boot Camp I did 10)
Crunches: 209 in 2 minutes (First round I did 80 or something)
Squats: 104 in 2 minutes (First round I did 68 or something)
Girl Push Ups: 41 in 2 minutes (First round, I think I did 18)
Steps: 201 up, up, down, downs in 5 minutes. (First round, 163)

We (the proverbial "we") are progressing nicely! I am certainly doing, feeling, performing much better than week one of round one. Baaaad memories. I can perform all of my daily hygiene by myself, without pain! Including brushing my teeth without needing to rest between upper and lower. I'll let you know where things shake out at the end of this thing, 8 weeks from now.

Even more frightening is that I also have a baseline weight (aaaaccckk) and measurements for every available body part. Subjecting myself to that was quite unpleasant, but I want some results at the end of this--good, bad or just plain ugly. The next measurement happens in three weeks: oh, perfect--the peak of the holiday eating and drinking extravaganza. The thought of being weighed and measured will be enough to make me give up at least a couple of pints or the third glass of wine with dinner.

And that will make all the difference. It will! It will!

It's all I can do, get off me.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll share the results. Bwah ha ha! Yeah, right.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bring it On!

If you read the blog lately, you may have determined that I'm a bit overscheduled at the moment.

I am not under the illusion that busy equals happy. I do not believe that doing more in a day makes me a better person or even a good person. I used to do more for others (people, organizations) than for myself (and my family). I thought I was doing good things, but I was not happy and my husband was not happy and my animals were not happy. Turns out all of us needed more of me, even if that meant I was *just* sitting on the couch with a book (provides ample lap area for two needy felines).

So, while I am currently juggling a few balls of various shapes, weights and materials, I'm feeling pretty, pretty, pretty good about it (props to Larry David on that one). Here are my haps:

NaBloPoMo: writing every day. What could be better?

NaNoWriMo: writing every day. Again . . . better? What?

Boot Camp, Round 2: Hey, I wore a skirt Saturday night that I couldn't fit my ass into last winter. Damn straight I'm signing up for another 8 weeks of this magic disguised as torture.

Starting a copywriting business on the side while running a business: getting paid to write. . . even better than just writing every day!

This is what is not happening in my life:

Making a big deal out of having twelve people for Thanksgiving: I'm over the "all must be perfect" stage of my life. I was driving myself and everyone around me nuts. We're just going to relax and enjoy, whether the house is immaculate or not.

Volunteering for anything: Sorry, community, I need a break!

Cleaning: The house is messier than it used to be. Get over it.

Everything I'm doing is for ME! Yay! For Me! I'm giggling over here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'm a NaBloPoMo ER Too

Am I seriously deranged? Do I not have enough going on in my life? I'm writing close to 1700 words a day in my *new* novel for NaNoWriMo, (uh, what happened to the one I started a year ago??) and now I've taken a vow to post to my blog every day in November. Oh, what the hell.

It's all about the writing. I want to write, don't I?

So what if I have a trip planned to NY for six days, and then family visiting for Thanksgiving for five days, a business to run and Boot Camp to attend (I signed up for another eight week session despite my back, which is currently attached to a heating pad and my knee, which I hit with a dumbbell on Friday), movies to watch, books to read, a business to run, dinners to cook, a dog to feed, a business to run. . . something is going to be neglected. It will be interesting to see who or what it is.

I hope it's the business, my least favorite activity of the lot.

Who wants to work for a living when one could be reading, writing, taking the dog for long walks and hikes, doing yoga, learning to sail, making fabulous meals, keeping the house clean, watching movies? Work sucks! Let's blog instead!

I have a list of things to blog about, something I didn't expect to need to do, but I can't remember shit, so writing the thoughts down as they arrive in the sad brain is helping.

So what the hell, why not? Let's write this beeeyotch!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

So, What's the Fuss?

In my town, as all across this great (ahem) land of ours, citizens will be marching to the polls on Tuesday. My marching shall take place at the kitchen table, as I fill out my ballot with a sharpie and put it in the secret envelope. Must be careful to place it in the pre-wrapper before the outside wrapper to prevent ANYBODY SEEING MY VOTE.

Frankly, I could give a rat's behind who knows where my loyalty lies. Frankly, I find it difficult to become riled up, as it were, over the local races. And don't get me started on the presidential race. I cannot believe we've had a summer of debates already. I am sick of it all already.

Back to the locals. . . I have observed that hundreds, no! thousands! of my friends and neighbors are putting much energy into who becomes our next mayor. Our next mayor! Like, when did that become a great, big, huge, hairy deal? Apparently I missed something in my move from major east coast metropolitan area to little small west coast sleepy town. People here care about who's running the show. They care deeply. They volunteer to be campaign managers. They write position papers. They design websites. They throw house parties. They doorbell on Saturdays. They do phone tree calling on Sundays. They write letters to the editor.

Call me crazy, or just lazy, but I haven't been able to get lathered up about this race. I have a sign in the window of my business. I am an "official" supporter of one of the candidates because I went on his website and put my name there. But that's it. No doorbelling, no partying, no campaigning. It all makes me feel a little funny inside, anyway. Why do people support a candidate so strongly? What's in it for them? What kind of power do they feel around this political circus?

A friend of ours called the other day and left an urgent message for us. I returned his call, thinking he needed something important from us and when I reached him, he asked if we would make one hundred phone calls for "our" candidate. "They'll give you a script and a list of numbers," he said. "R U KIDDING?," I wanted to shout. I work fifty hours a week, do boot camp three hours a week, volunteer for a women's networking group several house a week, have a house and a yard and a bunch of animals and a husband and laundry, dinners, dishes, grocery shopping, and blogging to do plus did you know that I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month AND National Blogging Month? Over Achievers Anonymous, I hear you calling. . .

Um, my November is a little busy. I'm sure our guy will make it through without my help. And if he doesn't? Oh, well.

If only we could just vote for Oh, the Joys' little Mayor and get it over with. But sadly he is not running here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Writing: My New Obsession

Remember those Calvin Klein Obsession commercials from the 80's? My new obsession has nothing to do with sex or bodies writhing on the page. It is the words that are moving around on the screen that is my page. Words connecting, overlapping, touching--like bodies, like sex. Creating new life. Making something real out of nothing.

I'm continuing on my novel writing project. It is Day Two and I'm creating characters, scenes, dialogue from nothing. I have vague ideas about who these women are, whom they love, what their lives look like. I think there is a secret that will be the undoing of one of them. I'm interested to see who that will be and what it will look like.

Maybe you'll see it someday, too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm a NaNoWriMoER

At least that's what I think I'm called. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, and for the unaware, all the info you could ever want is here.

And now I'm all written out since I just produced my daily 1665 word quota on a novel that I started, oh, a couple of hours ago. I have no outline, I have no plot. A few weeks back, in preparation for this craziness, I listed a few ideas that came to my naive mind. And today, the first day of the thirty-day blitz, after a rough day at work and a nice dinner and pint of single-hop ale with my hub and a friend, I came home, looked at the list, and picked a topic. And started writing. The idea is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Quantity counts. Quality is quite secondary.

Who knows what crap will come out of these lightning fingers. Stay tuned. It should be an interesting experience. What am I, crazy?