Friday, July 30, 2010

...only the beginning

{Image from here}

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly." -Richard Bach

It is said that every journey begins with just a single step. Today, we are taking the first step. It's scary. It's exciting. It's thrilling. But mostly, it makes me feel alive. Dealing with the heartache and heartbreak of infertility can weigh heavily on the heart. Some days, it's a soft hum. Other days, it's a pesky mosquito buzzing in my ear; too small to track down and kill with a flyswatter, yet large enough to cause an annoyance. In the end, though, it's the fact that I am helpless that leaves me feeling frustration.

The journey ahead is scary because it's new, unfamiliar and unknown. But I know my heart is ready. I know my heart is ready because it knows the journey behind. It remembers where we've been, how far we've come and is strong enough for whatever tomorrow brings.

When I was 8 years old, I went to Disney World with relatives--but without my parents. It was my first time away from them and I was worried. As we boarded the plane, I couldn't stop looking back and saying goodbye. As we got closer to the plane, my cousin gently pulled me around and said, "It's time to start looking forward now."

He was right--and he still is. It's time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Cussing Machine

Confession: I'm not crafty, creative or patient. Ironically, these are all attributes required to be good at making things. But I want to be crafty. I want to make things that are adorable and wear them. I want to sew curtains and make my own skirts and be just plain adorable all time. Is that really too much to ask?

Don't answer that.

Just because you aren't something doesn't mean you can't MAKE yourself something, right? I mean, I wasn't an athlete EVER and look at me now, gliding down the road like a gazelle when I go for runs. I made my lanky, uncoordinated body RUN without falling very often for pete's sake, can't I make myself someone who makes cute embroidered onesies for my nieces and nephews, both present and future? Yesh. Isn't it possible for me to be like the best Etsy seller of _______________ on Earth? Why not!

If I'm going to be crafty, I told myself, then I need to acquire the crafty equipment. Crafty equipment requirement #1: a sewing machine. Duh. I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and it's exactly what I got. It has its own handle on top and everything! For easy transport to all those crafting conventions I'll be attending, of course. I need to carry that bad boy with me basically everywhere I go, and a handle is the key to easy transport. Everybody knows that.

After carefully reading the enclosed Encyclopedia Britannica Twenty Book Edition instruction manual, I was ready to begin my first project: a cover for my sewing machine. You know, to keep out the dust in between all the attending crafting conventions and carrying it around by the handle I'll be doing. This is going to be the Awesomest Sewing Machine Cover Ever, I just knew it. I went to the local fabric store, picked out adorable floral and polka-dotted fabrics, hemming tape, thread and scoffed at the nice old ladies who gasped when I told them about my little "project" and complete lack of a sewing background.

Didn't I have a mother who could teach me how to sew, they asked? Yes, I do have a mother. Thankyousomuchforasking. And yes, she does sew and uses her sewing skills quite often. She's crafty. And artistic. And good at making things, drawing things and painting things. Let's just say that I never, in my childhood life, wore a Halloween costume that was purchased at a store. Let's also say that I didn't get those genes. I got the writing genes and my sister got the artistic, crafty genes. It's just, as they say, how the cookie crumbles. Crumbled? Whatever. It wasn't my goal to discuss the ins and outs of my childhood at the cutting table at JoAnn Fabrics. Those old ladies just have a way of pulling it out of you, don't they?

{Buzz, buzz. Check out my aluminum foil wings, ya'll!}

{It was obvious, even at 7, that I had a future in both gymnastics and stuffed animal holding}

After returning home with my loot (and a further determination to sew something without my mother's help) I pulled out my sparkling new machine and, as the instruction manual said, began to thread the bobbin. It was hard. I called my mom. Asked her why I even needed a bobbin to begin with and what all this "threading" business was about. She explained. There went that goal.

So, I sewed myself a cover. Turns out it was actually the World's Worst Sewing Machine Cover With Mis-matched Sides Because I Just Wanted This Dumb Project To Be Over Already. Seriously, you cannot look at this thing and tell me it's not a hot mess.

Also, I gave up all future sewing projects after its completion nearly 6 months ago. Mostly because it was awful, and partly because my husband spent most of the time covering the dog's ears with his hands because every other word out of my mouth was four letters in length and looked something like this: #*!$. Turns out the only thing I'm actually good at making with my sewing machine is profanity. Lots and lots of profanity. Momma would be proud.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cruise Control

I do not enjoy driving. I have never enjoyed driving and I will never enjoy driving. It’s not that I’m a bad driver (although my husband wouldn’t agree) I’m just entirely too uptight to find enjoyment in the driving experience. I cannot do two things at once. I cannot be expected to fix my hair, look at my pores in the mirror AND stay on the road. It's just not a possibility.

Other than rolling down the windows on a nice day and listening to awesome Lady Gaga and/or Justin Bieber music, one of the only things I enjoy while driving is cruise control. To me, it is one of the world’s best inventions. What is cooler than getting in your car, hitting a button and only having to worry about steering and staying on the road? Instead of three tasks, you are instantly upgraded to being required to perform just two. Your brain and foot get a brief rest from juggling these items and you can relax and enjoy the ride. As someone who needs one of the major driving tasks removed from the equation for proper driving, I like cruise control.

Cruise control, however, is not without its faults. It quickly falls down the “best invention ever” list when some jerk in front of you slows down and refuses to get over and then you have to hit the brake and the process of setting cruise control starts all over again. It is not a perfect system by any means, which only makes it awesome like 40% of the time.

Its near-perfection comes with moving the concept of cruise control to another task, allowing it to run its course without interruption. My favorite occasion to throw on the cruise control is while running. As a creature of habit, I run and walk the same four or five paths day in and day out. This is something I never tire of—ever. I am thrilled to take the same roads, see the same sights and nestle in the comfort of familiarity that the same path provides. My feet know the way—they have been here before. I throw on the cruise and let my brain drift to whatever bothers, intrigues or ails me at the moment.

Some of my best work and my most profound thoughts are the product of a cruise-control induced run. I consider ideas and mull over plans I do not have time to contemplate when I’m juggling the multiple tasks of daily life. There is nothing else to consider during this time—it is just me and the road. Skipping a run or foregoing a walk with the dog always comes back to bite me, no matter what I tell myself from a comfortable spot on the couch. I’m calmer, more focused and much more pleasant to be around after I’ve given myself 30 minutes of time to exercise my mind and body. The same goes with the dog—she is a different pooch without our evening runs to calm her.

My exclusive use of “running cruise control” often offends people I know who think I’ve chosen to ignore them while I’m out on a run. Truth is, I gave up a long time ago on attempting to identify those who wave, honk or yell from vehicles going over 35 miles an hour. More often than not, they have already passed me by the time I realize who they actually are, which really defeats the purpose of being friendly. Or, I automatically wave, only to realize that I do not know the old creepy person I just warmly greeted. So, for the sake of being consistent, I just ignore everyone who passes in a car. I go off into my own little world, a place where I can’t hear car honks or random things screamed by teenagers. My own personal cruise control drowns it all out.

But really, I just don't understand the appeal of screaming, hooting and/or hollering at a woman while she's running. Do you think I'm going to stop and give you my number? Do you want to go on a date? Do you realize that I am sweaty and you have no interest in knowing what I'm cooking?

When my cruise control cannot drown out aches and pains of a trying event, such as the triathlon my husband and I recently completed, I resort to what I call my “crazy phrase.” I chant this mantra repeatedly, like a crazy person, until the event is over. I held out as long as I could, but finally resorted to my crazy phrase as my body began to rebel against the 4-miler I ran after completing a 3-mile canoe and 15 mile bike ride. I think every occasion deserves a new phrase—the half marathon crazy phrase is “Pain is temporary.” The triathlon, though, required a different vibe—“You’re almost there,” because, well, you are. Almost.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Goodbye, old friend

It’s no secret that I love fashion and all it encompasses—clothing, accessories, purses, and shoes; I love it all. I live for expressing myself through dress, mixing tried and true favorites with the latest trends. Fashion, to me, is art. I nearly cried this morning when I realized a member of my trusted fashion arsenal had come down with a terminal illness and would not be with us much longer.

It’s always sad when your favorite anything begins to show its age. I shudder when my favorite wool sweater begins to pill uncontrollably or my favorite white tee starts to turn an embarrassing shade of yellow in the pits. My fear is that a replacement for this ‘perfect’ item will never be found and nothing can ever compare to the relationship this ideal article and I once had. Our glory days, as they are called, have ended.

While t-shirts and sweaters can easily be replaced by newer models with minimal impact, some wardrobe staples can prove to be truly irreplaceable. A pair of jeans, regardless of your size or body shape, is hard to find. Even we skinny girls struggle to find denim to accentuate our lack of curves and bony butts. This is why I snatch up a perfectly fitting pair without question, because I intuitively know I will regret my horrid decision if I do not. Oddly, some of my favorite and best-fitting jeans are the least expensive pairs I have snatched up at fine retailers like Target and Forever 21.

My most favorite and comfortable pair, purchased my junior year of college from one such store, is beginning to show its age from the excessive wear and love I have heaped upon it. If it was a college football player, it would be red shirted for the coming season and will hopefully return after some intense physical therapy. Deep down, like a veteran coach, I know things will never be the same. (Editors note: I am using sports analogies in reference to clothing. Help.)

I had the quintessential "oh sh*t" moment recently when the teeny little hole that had begun to wear in the knee of my beloved jeans became excessively larger courtesy of my big toe. And my clumsiness. Some people buy their clothing destroyed, but I seriously doubt there was any big toe destruction involved.

I liken a pair of jeans to the way we look at our grandparents or children—in our eyes, they will always be just as we imagine them from our fondest memories. We look past what the hands of time have done and see them just as we remembered—perfect and untouched. My beloved jeans are no different. I consciously choose to look past the ever-thinning knees, frayed seams, mangled hems, and see the denim beauties just as they were back in ‘03. They have always fit like a dream, with their dreamy cotton blend with just a kiss of stretch that somehow manages to make it look like I actually have a butt. They are perfect with a cute pair of ballet flats, my old gray New Balance sneakers or a sky-high heel. I have dressed them up, dressed them down and thrown them in the wash more times than I can count. The jeans and I have been through a lot.

Every article of clothing you own contains memories. Sometimes, I imagine myself touching an article of clothing and magically being whisked away to all the moments it remembers and the stories it has to tell. For every article I own, I always remember when I purchased it, whether I splurged on an, “I deserve this” piece or snatched up something truly fab on clearance. I can clearly recall every article of clothing worn during the defining moments of my life. I’ll always remember the beautiful blue backless dress I wore to prom, the old maroon t-shirt my husband was wearing when we met, the LBD that always looks good—they were there with me through the ups and downs of it all. These are the moments of your life, and clothing is always there to guide you through them. Think about it—how many times do you change before leaving for work each morning? And how many times do you look in your closet and whine, “I have nothing to wear!” And, of course, how many times do you call friends to ask them what they’re wearing to an event in the hopes that if you look like an idiot, at least you'll be in good company? As for me, the answers are: at least five, twice a week and more often than I’d like to admit.

Some people have a photographic memory. I have a fashion memory. I can tell you what I wore to just about any event in my life. I can even tell you who saw what outfit and when, in the hopes that I will avoid wearing it twice in a short span of time. I can even tell you what YOU were wearing to those same events and if you are wearing something new, I will probably notice that, too. I am not judging, I am just obsessively observant. There's a difference, right?

Some day, my jeans will become unwearable and I will have to permanently retire them from the starting lineup. That will be a sad day and I will have an incredibly hard time letting go, this I know for sure. Some other hot, young, fresh pair of jeans will step in to replace them and they will become yesterday’s news. They may leave me, but I will not forget the moments we shared. Saying goodbye is always so hard.

Monday, July 26, 2010

One of "those" weekends

When my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. this morning, I hit snooze five times. This is partly because I didn't want to get up and partly because I couldn't believe it was Monday already. I'm left struggling to remember what it was exactly I did this weekend and wondering how on earth it flew by so quickly. As far as weekends go, it was a solid showing.

We spent time catching up with friends over beer and dinner. We helped out on the farm and went shopping at Target (actually one of us did one and the other did the other--can you guess who did what?) and drank lots of coffee. We went swimming in my in-law's pond, providing at least momentary relief from the 90-degree-plus sweltering heat, which felt like over 100 with the awful Ohio humidity. We drank summer ale on the front porch and watched classic movies on AMC: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Pulp Fiction.

Note to self: Pulp Fiction on television is a shell of its former self; buy the original. Another note to myself: how on earth did you manage to completely forget the unforgettable "Pawn shop cellar scene" in said movie? Seriously.

Most notably, my husband received an "A" on his final class of grad school and is, after two years, finished with his Master's degree. We celebrated with Dairy Queen blizzards and will soon crack open a premium beer bottled in a fancy champagne bottle we purchased on our recent trip to upstate New York. Because every good celebration should in involve champagne bottles, dogs and 8.5% ABV beer.

{Photo from here}

Friday, July 23, 2010

Half of my heart

A dear friend is going through a tough time. It can sometimes be difficult to know just what to say to someone whose heart is very obviously broken, for fear of further breaking what is already damaged. As I offered a hug and a knowing smile, my friend said something that has stuck with me: she said she was consumed with the pursuit of getting over it, so much so that she felt like she had failed. She was trying so hard, so hard to move on and just put it all behind her but felt like half of her heart was holding her back. That part of her heart, the one she couldn't control, wouldn't let her move forward.

It brought tears to my eyes, because I know how that feels. It's painful to be with your feelings, the ugly ones you don't want anyone to see. Sometimes feeling the bad stuff hurts too much and we'd rather just toss it aside and focus on the half of our heart we can control. It's a thin line we walk, between that half of our hearts and the other that simply feels for itself. We think that moving on is about control, about making ourselves feel this way as opposed to that way. If I could just feel that, we tell ourselves, then I'll be OK. It looks like roses, puppy dogs and rainbows over there where I should be feeling. Back here where I'm standing isn't so great, back where things aren't in sync and I'm left feeling like my heart is torn between what is and what should be.

The truth is, it's no different than a good, old-fashioned, three-legged race. Ever been part of a three-legged race? It's really not an easy or enjoyable experience, particularly when you aren't in sync with the other half of your team. You are typically in such a rush to make it to the finish line that it's easy to forget that your body is supposed to be moving in time with another. One of you is rushing and the other is desperately trying to keep up. Sometimes, you fall. Other times, you win. Winning a three-legged race isn't necessarily about rushing, it's about synchronizing your movements in time with your partner.

Those two halfs of your heart--the ones that don't always feel the same way--are no different. One will always be two steps ahead of the other. One will always feel that familiar pang of hurt while the other is off skipping down the road to Justin Bieber music. One will always be there to remind the other that sometimes you feel what you feel; and there's no changing that.

Maybe that half of your heart isn't there to hold you back. No, it never held you back in the first place. Perhaps it's there to remind the other half that it's time to slow down, feel the music, wade through the pain and learn to work in time. Not as parts--but together.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The surprise anniversary gift

Yesterday, as you are likely aware, was our anniversary. Instead of exchanging gifts for this occasion, my spouse and I elected to instead eat ribs, get Chris Sabo bobbleheads and drink mojitos. We agreed: no gifts. Yesterday, though, it seems that promise was thrown out the window. Really, it was chucked out the second story window.

You see, we have been "working" on "finishing" our upstairs bathroom for, oh I don't know, TWO YEARS. It's kinda this thing we have, not like that other thing we have with Maple Nut Goodies. No, this is a different thing. It all began one cool December night when a pipe burst and made it rain in our living room. And it wasn't even Kenny Powers make it rain, it was like actual rain with real water. Doller doller billz, y'all.

After making it rain indoors with water, we destroyed everything in the bathroom with hammers and our rage. Like, down to the studs destroyed. Which was actually a good thing because there was disgusting mold and mummified dead mice everywhere in this little bathroom of ours. It was both disturbing and incredibly gratifying. So, that was two years ago. Also, an important part of this tale is this: our master bedroom and full bath is located on the first floor of our home and--AND--the upstairs has a separate water shutoff valve. So, what's that all mean, Sherlock? Well, it means that we closed the door and pretended like our un-bathroom didn't exist for a while. We tried to pretend it existed, but it never lasted long. No one lives, breathes, works or needs a bathroom upstairs on a regular basis, so you could say that not having full bathroom access wasn't really inconvenient.

So yesterday, we called the plumber back for a return/final visit to finish up the details. My husband, who is quite handy, left me a list to deliver to the plumber for the projects we needed to be completed by the plumbing service, who we commonly refer to as "Steve & Ted's Excellent Plumbing Adventure." That's not their name (OK, the last part isn't) but it's hilarious. Also hilarious: the plumber who comes out to our house is named Bill. I was THIS close to asking him yesterday why he isn't part of the name. I mean, it would make more sense in a Keanu Reeves-y kinda way, no?

No. OK, so the plumber is at our house and I tell him what to do and depart for work. I return home to find my husband using an excessive number of box fans in our home and a temperature of oh, like 89 degrees because all the windows are open. My poor dog is panting like it's 89 degrees and she's wearing a black fur coat. Which she is. The plumbing is all finished, he says, except for this one "thing." There's a thing? I don't like that there's a thing. Also I don't like: being told "not to freak out" before something is shown to me.

What's the thing, you ask? Oh, just an anniversary present for me. We said we weren't exchanging gifts, but I got something anyway. Lookie!

That's the ceiling.

I got a giant water stain on the ceiling to match the large hole, already in the ceiling. Happy anniversary, hope you like your special project of trying to get rid of this stain! The stain! My God, THE STAIN!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21, 2007

It was a good day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Jill Zarin

The other day, my husband said something really unassuming to me. He suggested that, perhaps, I should find a hobby. The thing about my husband is that he finds great satisfaction and happiness in having a full-time job, having another full-time job and working on his master's degree all at once. He likes to be busy. He has ants in his pants. I'm OK with this, because the thing about me is that I also have ants in my pants. I just have like half of a colony of ants in my pants and he has like two colonies in his pants. Lemmetellya, that's a lot of ants.

What I would refer to as his second full-time job is what others might call "coaching high school football." This occupies much of his free time (Ha! Free time! What's that?) and therefore leaves me often needing a hobby. But the other thing about me is that one of my current hobbies is watching horrible reality television, which includes every offshoot of the Real Housewives franchise. Real Housewives of New York is, of course, no exception to this hobby of mine. One of the superior lines from this past season of said show is Bethenny Frankel, chef and smarty pants extraordinaire, telling one Jill Zarin that she needs to "Get a hobby" instead of being all up in her business all the time.

So, in true reality show watching fashion, I assumed that my husband was implying that I am Jill Zarin of Zarin Fabrics and need to get a hobby. But I don't WANT to be Jill. I want to be Bethenny. I want to be saucy, witty and have a New York Times Bestselling book and be so busy that I don't have time for a hobby. That's who I want to be.

My husband of course has no free time to have a hobby like watching reality show television, so it's incredibly safe to say that he had no idea what I was talking about when I asked him if he was implying that I am Jill Zarin. I am a lot of things, but I am not Jill Zarin.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Romantic vs. Not Romantic

My dearest husband and I spent the weekend enjoying one another's company and celebrating (almost) three years of marriage. When it comes to life in general, I am pretty high maintenance. I need things like clean sheets, compliments, attention and water with lemon for survival. But when it comes to romance, I don't need much to declare something is romantic.

For example, we began our almost-anniversary day at a winery. Romantic. There were flies buzzing around our heads, landing on us periodically before being smashed with a rolled-up newspaper by the owner/wine maker. Extra romantic. We then waited in line for 15 million minutes to check into our posh downtown hotel behind a man that smelled like onions. Romanticer.

Then, we walked around and got sweaty in the sweltering heat before enjoying a delightful rib dinner at the best rib joint in the tri-state area: Montgomery Inn. We were so sweaty from all the walking that we began to realize that we too smelled like that guy who smelled like onions. Not romantic. Luckily, the bathrooms at Montgomery Inn have cologne dispensers. For a mere 25 cents, I could make everyone think I took a shower and used functioning deoderant. However, I had no idea what these colognes smelled like, which presented a small problem: I didn't know what I was going to smell like. My options? Ck1, Obsession and Eternity. What is this, I wondered? A perfume dispenser from 1993? I was stumped and only had one quarter to find out which 1990's era scent I was going to smell like for the remainder of the day. I foolishly chose Obsession and realized my horrible, awful mistake when I realized the perfume was orange. ORANGE. That's the first clue that you're about to smell disgusting. And disgusting I smelled.

After the Bathroom Perfume Incident, we again walked in the sweltering heat to our next romantic destination: a dueling piano bar. We enjoyed a beer and lotsa piano playin' before heading out to the ballpark to catch a Reds game and get our hands on a Chris Sabo bobblehead. Then, something really romantic happened: the sky broke open and it began to rain a few things: lots of water and gigantic hail. So, we did what any romantic couple would do: we drank another beer.

The rain stopped after beer #2 and we spent the remainder of the evening catching a great game and drinking coffee. Seriously. OK, so then we drank beer and mohito's. But not after a large cup of coffee. That's how we roll around here: gross bathroom perfume and hot coffee. That's my kind of romance.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Let's be serious, you're way too ugly to pull THAT off.

This video, it's hilarious. Also, not suitable for viewing in the following areas:

-In front of children
-At the workplace
-Near your grandma

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Loud Family

Every neighborhood has its elaborate cast of characters. I know this because I spent most of my college career watching Desperate Housewives on ABC, featuring the oh-so-timeless beauty of Lois Lane Skeletor Teri Hatcher. There's the hot plumber that lives down the street, the crazy guy who stuffs his dead wife in a trunk, the perky redhead who bakes lots of muffins and the sluttly lady who inevitably gets run over by a car in season 5 and dies. Yup, just your everyday, normal gang of commonfolk.

The place where I live is not a place that you would describe as a "neighborhood" per say. It's more like a group of fields with stuff growing in them with some houses sprinkled in between fields. Let's just say that I have more soy bean plants behind my house than I do real people neighbors.

However, I do have some real people neighbors. Just a few, really. The people neighbors that I do have really are a treat. I already introduced you to "Have To Say Hello To Everyone Guy" but I have yet to tell the enthralling tale of The Loud Family. I'm willing to bet that you have a Loud Family in your neighborhood, too. You know the type: loud kids, always making noises, loud parents, always also making noises and of course, crazy dogs that--you guessed it--are always making noises. Usually chihuahuas, because they are a fitting pet for people who are all loud, all the time.

The Loud Family is an interesting bunch. They are creative in their loudness, which I suppose a small portion of me actually finds to be witty and/or interesting. Admirable, even. The Loud Family has added to their loudness by turning what I imagine was once their yard of grass into large piles of dirt. It goes well with their oversized trampoline and their above-ground pool with observation deck so they can scream "WOOO!" until their heads fall off repeatedly. Who would get rid of all their grass and turn it into dirt piles, you ask. What could that possibly be used for, you wonder.

It's their own personal, professional home-made dirt bike course. Duh. If I was into things like dirt bikes and dirt piles, I might be impressed. The piles really are impressive. Instead, I'm just annoyed. You see, living yards away from a dirt bike course means a few things: lots of dust and lots of a sound I will attempt to re-create now:


It's loud. And it's constant. And I can't go anywhere in my house and NOT hear it. Even the basement. In my special room with the padded walls where I rock back and forth in the corner because I'm crazy from that sound. When I talk to people on the phone, they say things like, "What on EARTH is that SOUND?" Oh that? That's just the neighbors and their silly dirtbikes! Pay no mind to that sound, person who can't hear me over all that REEEEEEEEEEIINGIINGG-ing eventhough all the windows and doors in my home are closed!

Some days, it's quiet. The only REEIIINNNGGIIGNNGG-ing is the REEEEIIINNGINGNG-ing in my head. Then, there are other days when  new, slightly more dreadful sound presents itself: the beep-beep-beep-ing of a bulldozer. I hear it, in my nightmares, because I know what it means: the hills are being re-configured. For a newer, better-er dirtbike-ier course. Because everyone knows that you can't just go over the same old hills for months on end! BOR-ING! Zzzzzzz. That was me falling asleep on my keyboard from merely thinking about how old and over-played the old dirtbike course has become. You gotta mix things up and get crazy so you can improve your dirtbiking skillz, yo!  Also, you should buy your own bulldozer so you can just configure and re-configure the living daylights out of those dirt mounds whenever you want. All the live-long-day, even.

You know, I realize that there's nothing wrong with having a passion in life. In fact, I think you should have a passion. Passions are fantastic. But why, WHY, must every last one of your passions be so loud? Can't we all just have passions that are just slightly less noisy, like croquet or bocce ball? Or, playing the "quiet game?" I love that game! It's really a good time, I promise.

Also, don't get me wrong: I'm no angel myself. I know that I'm an integral part of the cast of characters in this elaborate yarn. I can't decide on what role the residents of my home and I actually play, but I have some educated guesses, including:

-The Always Doing Intense Home Renovation Projects Family
-The Skinny Lanky Pale Family
-The Wears Spandex To Go On A Bike Ride Family
-The Crazy About Everything In Their Yard Family
-The Runs Around The Block With A Canister Of Mace While Listening To Justin Beiber On Her I-Pod Lady (No one really knows about the second part, but it's an important part of who I am)

Oh, and you've heard of Little Orphan Annie, right? Well, meet Little Stalker Doggy, who's all up in my biznezz, all the time.

If it wasn't so darn adorable, I might be annoyed. But who--WHO--finds cuteness to be annoying?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Warm/Cold Game

{Photo from here}

I'm convinced that every couple has some dumb thing that they do in the privacy of their own home that would be incredibly embarrassing if it ever saw the light of day. Because I'm so into over-sharing everything, I'll tell you what our dumb thing is: Maple Nut Goodies.

What in tarnation are these Goodies? Well, lemmetellyasomething: Brach's® Maple Nut Goodies are the perfect bite-sized treat. Each piece is a unique combination of fresh oven-roasted Georgia peanuts and a buttery toffee center covered in a Real Maple Syrup coating.

We are completely obsessed with Maple Nut Goodies. It's a problem. Prior to this obsession, I was only obsessed with candy corn, which was a good obsession considering that it's only available for roughly 2 months of every year. But sweet, sweet Maple Nut Goodies? Oh, the MNG are available every time we go to Menard's for one of our 2,435,897 ongoing home improvement projects. Sometimes, we make up projects so that we can go to Menard's and buy MNG, they are that awesome. It's very possible that MNG are available in other locales, but the Menard's MNG has a special feature: they carry a bag of MNG so gigantic that it comes with its own plastic twisty thing, commonly found on hamburger buns and bread.

Those silly people at Brach's really are hilarious. They think that in making such a humongous bag of MNG that most people will have a need to close the bag up and keep it fresh for further noshing sessions. What the Brach's people don't understand is that we don't need no stinking plastic thing-y. The entire bag will be gone in 24 hours, no re-sealing required and really, no concerns about keeping anything fresh. Unless, of course, that thing-y will help keep them fresh inside my stomach.

This is where our private, disturbing behavior comes into play. For whatever reason, I am a ravenous animal when it comes to MNG. I will eat (almost) the entire bag if left unsupervised. I'm often not supervised, so I eat a lot of MNG in my spare time. I have a lot of spare time. A lot. What's the solution to this intense conundrum, you ask? Why, hiding MNG from me of course. OF COURSE! Because that's what mature adults do--they hide delicious things that they like from their spouse so that they can have more for themselves. It's not greed. No, not at all. It's survival of the fittest and most cunning, is what that is. And sorta pathetic, but that's all details shme-tails really.

I hate it when things are hidden from me because I'm so very awful at finding them.  Hell, I can't even find my keys most days and I'm the one who hid them from myself! This whole hiding the MNG from me began simply enough--my spouse would go to Menard's, buy MNG and not tell me about it. He would leave the MNG in his vehicle and eat them in his spare time and enjoy the entire bag and that dumb plastic thing-y all by himself. I quickly caught on to his scheme, aided by the fact that he would bring the receipt inside and leave it on the kitchen counter. I'd decipher the receipt code and figure out that BRA MAP NU GOO was actually my beloved Brach's Maple Nut Goodies. Busted. Amateur.

I thought I had pulled one over on my spouse one epic day, after hiding the MNG from him. See how he likes a taste of his own medicine, I proclaimed! Before I could eek out some ridiculous phrase like, "Oooo the student has become the master!" he had already found my poor, pathetic hiding spot. Turned tables, please return to your original position.

So, the evolution continued: he would bring them inside, let me have a few and then hide them. In the house. To drive me completely insane. The hiding spots have become progressively more difficult, which forces me to use my other tactic: acing like a giant, annoying, whiny baby until he agreed to tell me where they were hidden. That worked for like 2 seconds. You see, after nearly three years of marriage, my husband knows something very important about me: I'm not good at finding things and I give up really, really easily. Really.

Things really came to the breaking point over the weekend when he found a new, more elite hiding spot that I was unable to crack. I tried a newer, softer approach to finding that bite-sized deliciousness:

Me: Sooo, in what general vicinity have you hidden my MNG?
Him: YOUR MNG? I'd hardly say they are your MNG.
M: Let's play a game and if I win I get to eat them.
H: What's the game called?
M: The oldest game around: The Warm/Cold Game.
H: That's not a game
M: Is too! Didn't you play Warm/Cold as a child?
H: No, no I did not. I played the HOT/Cold game. You know, the real game.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hope you like waiting!

There are a few things I'm not good at doing and waiting is, undoubtedly, one of those things. I'm not patient. I don't like waiting. I don't enjoy reading directions. I just want it and I want it right now, plzandtankyou. Oh, and could you make it snappy? Chop, chop.

I believe that whatever it is in this world that you are not good at doing, is the one thing that is inevitably thrown your way. What's that? You are completely intolerant of professional clowns? Well, I hope you get along with your new neighbor, Fizbo!

{Photo from here}

He's a real delight, that Fizbo. From Modern Family:

Cameron: If I wasn't in school or fishing, I was clowning. There are four types of clowns: a tramp, Auguste, a whiteface, and a character. I am a classically trained Auguste clown named Fizbo.

Mitchell: Between the clowning and the fishing, I'm surprised you had time for the schooling. Aww, there's the fifth type, the sad clown.

Cameron: A sad clown is a tramp.. so there's still only four types.

Anyway, yesterday was one of those days where that thing I'm not good at doing was the thing that I had to become good at doing. For, like, the next three years or five. I called an organization for further information on something and fell off of my chair during and after the conversation. Like, twelve times.

Me: So, on average how long does the process take?
Karma: Well, we typically break down the waiting process into stages because there's so much darn waiting involved!
Me: Gulp.
Karma: There's the first stage of waiting, where you're actually just waiting to be put on the waiting list. That's about 18 months.
Me: Vom. In my mouth.
Karma: Then after that, you are on the waiting waiting list for 1.5 to 3 years. So, that's roughly 3 to 6 years of total waiting during the entire waiting process. Did I mention that you're going to be waiting? We just like saying the word "waiting"--it really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Of course it does. Man, that karma sure knows how to serve up an appropriate dish for every occasion. It's like Martha Stewart or some person who is always completely prepared for 12 guests to show up to their home at any given moment. Unlike myself, of course, who is only prepared for guests who enjoy mingling among dog hair tumbleweeds.

Monday, July 12, 2010

You could use some cake

For most of us, we tend to receive compliments on the same thing over and over again. This makes us feel like this thing people like is really great. As in, "You have beautiful eyes." or "I just love your hair!" for example. For me, I get compliments on things that I really would say are not compliments. They're sorta judgements dressed up in a nice suit, masquerading as a compliment.

Things people say to me:

"You're really skinny."

"How are you so skinny?"

"What's your secret to being skinny?"

"Could you please tell me what you eat every day?"

"You have old man interesting hands."

"Why are your arms/wrists/ankles/legs so small?"

Then there's the kid selling baked goods outside of the grocery store who screamed this across the parking lot: "Hey skinny lady! Buy some cake! You could use some cake!"

I am skinny. My legs are stilts. I have a stumpy torso and long, skinny arms, long stick legs and the wrists of a small child. I have man hands with bulging veins. I have always had these things. My mother has them. My sister has them. My brothers have them. My aunts, uncle and grandmother have them. No secrets here, people: I just exist and these things magically happen. It's like real magic, but with less glitter and fewer rabbits in hats.

For reference, here are famous people with arms and old man hands like me:

Angelina Jolie {photo from here}

Madonna / Sarah Jessica Parker {photo from here}

Don't worry, I'm totally aware of the fact that the world as a whole thinks these women have gross arms and disgusting hands. It's cool. I am a proud member of the Gross Arms and Hands Club of America and we're meeting today to plan our next move in taking over the world, one veiny arm at a time. Prepare yourself.

In a world where skinny is cool and everyone seems to be completely obsessed with their bodies and the body of every female celebrity in existence, no one ever asks someone how they stay so darn fat. The point is: there's no secret. There's no magic formula. I don't wake up and jump 5 times on one foot, pat my head twice and spin in 12 circles. I have good genes. I eat real food. I eat dessert. I drink wine. I run. But, the real point is this: none of this matters. I like my lanky arms and legs, because they distract you from my miniature torso. I am destined to forever wear pants that are too short and never find a bracelet that fits. It's OK. I think I'll make it.

Whatever you are, whoever you are: just be you.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm only half as hilarious as I think I am

{Photo from LOLCats}

I am the first to admit that I have an incredibly bizarre sense of humor. I find very odd things to be hilarious; animals (especially cats) doing human things makes me laugh until I cry and/or pee my pants.

Eastbound and Down on HBO is equally bizarre and equally funny. It's about a washed-up baseball player from the 80's who becomes a gym teacher.

However, I would say the item that most accurately represents my sense of humor is the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FX. It's awful. It's sarcastic. It's the funniest show ever. The best clip I have to show you is one that involves both cats AND my favorite show. It's like destiny.

Also hilarious: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Office, Parks & Recreation and Modern Family.

I like to think that in real life, I'm equal parts bitterly sarcastic, overly dramatic, very judgemental and pretty nice. Generally speaking, most people don't know how to take me, what with the fact that I look like a tiny, prim and proper 17 year-old child with a mouth like a judgemental sailor. If you don't get irony and you can't pick up on tone, it's doubtful that you and I will get along. I can be abrasive and I often cuss, even though I really can think of something better to say. More often than not, I find myself sticking a well-dressed foot in my mouth. Really, I don't mind. I think stilettos are delicious.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I think this is what Ke$ha had in mind

I have no idea why, but I'm currently obsessed with this video. I can't say that I have ever watched an entire episode of Star Trek, but this is pretty awesome. Who doesn't love Priceline Negotiator William Shatner?

Oh and btw: hitting the shift key to write ke$sha's name is kind of annoying. Can't you think of something that doesn't involve extra key strokes, lady?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

That one time I tried to kill my husband

OK, so I mentioned a few days ago that I found this super adorable and cuddly kitten meandering through a cornfield. If you know me at all, you know I spend a lot of my time in and near fields of corn. That's just who I am, you're going to have to learn how to accept it, OK? I like corn. I like fields and I always wear my stilettos in the cornfield. That's just how I roll.

If you know me even better, you know that I'm a humongous sucker when it comes to abandoned animals. Of all the pets I have owned in my adult life, I can't say that I have paid actual money for any of them. I had this devil cat once that I adopted and sold on Craigslist in college. She hated me, so I sold her to a nice lady from the Internets. Then, there's our fancy lap dog that was dumped as a puppy in a garage in college and has been with us ever since:

So, my newest find has been no exception to what has become the story of my life. As soon as I found her and she began to purr, there was no question this kitten was going to be all mine. I immediately began acting like a deranged child after I realized that she just HAD to be my new pet. I was all, "Isn't she cute?" "Did you hear how loudly she's purring?" "Doesn't she look like she's hungry?" "Can kittens eat corn?" "Can we keep her? Can we? Can we? Puhlleeezzeee?"

I was deranged because there was no one there to answer these questions. My super adorable husband was too busy mowing 358972 acres of grass to notice that I had fallen in love with a tiny tornado comprised entirely of hair and claws. $60 in cat supplies later, she was even more mine than before. As if that was even possible!

After bringing her home in a beach towel, we brought her to her new home: our garage. We'll just keep her in here until the vet checks her out, we said. Just so she doesn't give anything to the dog, we decided. She'll just enjoy herself out here with the trash, our two lawnmowers and this $15 cat scratching post that I thought was a great investment. Super.

Then, I quickly realized that while adorable, the cat was actually a tiny hair-covered vial filled with poison. At first, my husband's eyes had gross gunk in them. Then, they turned red. Then, they got scratchy. Then he started sneezing 3 times every 5 minutes. I'm that person who always insists upon saying "Bless You" to every single person in my vicinity who sneezes, so my tongue started to get tired from all the talking. Then, I think his throat started to close.

We soon had the world's most hilarious argument about the cat, filled with attempts to talk without sneezing and me realizing that perhaps that cornfield was a better home for the kitten who has now successfully ripped every shred of weatherstripping off the garage door. Who needs that fancy stuff anyway?

I found a new home for her, at a cat rescue facility nearby. I suspect that Kleenex stock will drop dramatically as a result, what with the fact that there are no longer dripping facial orifices at our house. Goodbye, Cornfield Kitty. May you always have enough weatherstripping to destroy at your new abode. We'll think of you when there's snow everywhere in December.

So, for the record, I wasn't *actually* trying to kill my husband, I just didn't realize that cats are his cryptonite. I don't need you asking Dateline to feature me on their next special on black widows. The last thing I need is this bad ass on my case.

{Photo from}

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I am a runner

I am a runner. I haven't always been a runner, but I am a runner today. I was a runner yesterday, and the day before that. I'll probably be a runner until I need a wheelchair. Though I didn't realize it until age 18, I've always been a runner.

As a child, I was never one to commit to any sort of athletic event for longer than a year or two, if that. There was my excitement over cheer leading that lasted a few classes, then my stint in softball in seventh grade and my enthusiasm for volleyball in eighth grade among other sports that I wasn't good at and just gave up on. Just ask my mother. She claims I gave up softball because I had to concentrate on the game rather than socializing. While this may be partially true, I think I just got bored and realized I wasn't athletic--I was just really skinny. Unfortunately, lanky uncoordinated children do not an athlete make.

Aside from dabbling here and there, I was never really excited about any athletic pursuits until college. I have a fond memory of my friend Kristin asking me if I was a runner. I thought it was a strange question, and she followed it up (after I said 'no') by saying, "Well, you look like a runner." Keep in mind that at the time, poor Kristin was covered in head-to-toe rug burns from falling off a treadmill. At any rate, something clicked with me and I realized that if I looked the part, I might as well play it, too.

Running is a process, and it takes time to turn into an enjoyable event, as opposed to something you only do to escape danger. It can be a pain in many parts of your body, spark dogs to chase after you and people to yell offensive things from their cars as they pass by. Despite being incredibly hard on your body, running has transformed my body like nothing else could, and provided therapy like nothing else will.

Running is painful. Running causes injuries. Running involves blisters, chaffing, burning, cracked bones, broken toenails, hocking loogies and picking wedgies. It can be dangerous. It can be torturous. Sometimes it makes you vomit. Other times it makes you vulnerable.

But for all its faults and every bit of its pain, running never forgets to return the favor. Running is therapy. Running melts every ounce of stress from your body. Running molds your legs into muscular works of art. It motivates, encourages and shows you the way. Some days, it's the only answer to your problems. Some drink, others smoke--I run. Running never fails to clear my head and enrich my mind. For that, I'll always have a place in my heart for running.

You see, running isn't just running--it's more than that. It's an addiction, it's a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a method of fueling life. It provides a sense of accomplishment, regardless of the pain it instills. Either you're a runner, or you're a spectator--you love it or you hate it. There's no in-between, no gray area; you let it fulfill you or you find another way to further yourself.

Running has toughened me, and has taught me to gain strength from life's little victories. I listen to what my body tells me, but only after the run is over. I wave to every runner and walker I pass, and gain inspiration along the way. Each stride behind me prepares me for every step in front of me, even after the run is over. There's a sense of pride in knowing that if nothing else can protect me, my legs will swiftly take me away.

Running isn't for everyone, I get that. As human beings, we strive to find something that gives us joy in our lives, whether it be a healthy outlet or one that isn't especially good for us. My only hope is that your joy feels as good as mine.

From a New Balance ad in my Runner's World magazine:

"Your friends don't understand what you see in RUNNING.
They just see how RUNNING drags you home early from the best parties.
And how it kicks you to the curb the next morning
before the crack of dawn.
They just see the missed lunches, curious stares
and constant mind games.
And if they don't see the other stuff by now,
odds are they never will."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lessons in Living

I sometimes like to fancy myself a person that has things all figured out. Right; because it only takes 26 years to figure out everything. Of course.

I thought life wasn't about "things," but it turns out that sometimes life is about things. Like this thing, which has my very favorite quote, hand written on the back of a photograph, tucked inside.

Or, about this adorable little thing, that I found wandering in a corn field on Friday afternoon.

Turns out my husband is incredibly allergic to her. I guess that's another lesson?

I also thought life was about being strong and learning to accept the awful things that sometimes enter our lives. Turns out it's just as much about letting yourself feel. Or, crying in your car in the parking lot of the grocery store before going inside. Maybe it's not so much about trying to figure it all out as it is about just living in the moment--even the bad moments--and seeing yourself through to the other side. Even if it means crying it out in a parking lot while a sappy song plays on the radio.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Karma: not always so bitchy

I recently announced that I was going on a spending diet and vowed to purchase only the essentials in an effort to revamp my spending habits. I clearly have only been at this venture for a few weeks now but lemmetellyasomethin' it's been hard. Like taking a test you didn't study for hard. Or, agreeing to babysit for your friend's newborn quadruplets hard. I don't have any friends with quadruplets, but I imagine babysitting for more than one baby at a time would successfully send me into a manic tailspin in which I would need to borrow your inhaler to catch my breath. You have an inhaler, right?

Yesterday, however, I was beginning to think that karma was repaying me large dividends for investing my focused efforts to spend less money on clothing made by Miley Cyrus. Quit judging me--I said I wasn't buying clothing from Miley Cyrus. Just dreaming about her clothing line, which I can clearly do free of charge. Eat it. Yesterday was a big day for me in the karma department, it really was. It started out like a normal day, and then karma revved her engine and began showering me with lovely gifts. I:

Won a free Tiffany's-inspired palm tree necklace from Emitations and the lovely Jennifer over at Looks for Less

Won a $25 gift certificate to Forever 21 (I think I can buy at least 543 pairs of jeans with that kind of bank.)

Several friends took me up on my invitation to join Haute Look and made purchases, garnering me a handsome credit to my account. So, I got my shopping fix in and it didn't cost me a penny. They currently have a few exciting sales happening, including American Apparel items up to 55% off and my personal favorite, discount Hazel & Harlow jewelry.

American Apparel is cheap and chic to begin with, so buying it at a discount was exciting. I snagged this super adorable Spandex Jersey Two-Tone Fitted Mini dress for a mere $17. It was originally $34--a mere 50% off. It was thrilling.

I have drooled significantly over the jewelry made by Hazel & Harlow for what seems like eons. I again almost died of excitement when I saw those beautiful pieces for up to 81% off the original price. It was almost as exciting as the possibility of buying 1,200 shirts from Forever 21 with my $25 gift card. I sort of have this "thing" for vintage and vintage-inspired jewelry, which is exactly what Hazel & Harlow delivers. All of their pieces are French-inspired and are hand carved and set in 22K gold vermeil with white topaz stones. They are fantastic in that old-meets-new kind of way, and though they are new, they look like something from your fashionable Great Aunt's jewelry box. They really are beautiful.

A few of my favorite pieces include this faint-inducing Filigree Horseshoe Pendant

This jaw-dropping Antiqued Love Bird Pendant

And, what I think may be my favorite piece of all: this fantastic Antiqued Bird on a Branch Pendant

Beautiful, eh? So, after lamenting for what seemed like additional eons, I finally settled on my purchase: The Antiqued Magic Feather Pendant

So, how much was this beautiful necklace, you ask? Oh, just a mere $18.50.

Want to join Haute Look? Just click on the link on the top right column of my blog under "Discount Shopping Sites I Adore" and you're in. The American Apparel and Hazel & Harlow sales end tomorrow, July 2nd, at 8:00 a.m. They roll out several new sales each day. Joining Haute Look (or any of the other sites listed) is completely free. When you invite your friends to join, you get a credit to your account after they make their first purchase. Each site varies in the amount they credit you (typically between $10 and $20 per friend) but it can add up quickly and allows you to get in your shopping fix for free. Haute Look typically gives you $10 per friend but is currently running their "Summer Kickoff Invite a Friend Special" and will give you a $20 credit each time a friend you invite between June 28 through July 6 makes their first purchase by July 20.

Most of these sites are invite-only, so consider this your formal invitation. Happy shopping!

{All photos from Haute Look / Hazel & Harlow}


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