Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Attitude Adjustment


For some reason (I blame PMS) I was incredibly cranky yesterday. I wrote this bitter post about stress and being stressed out and losing weight due to stress and the bitter stress zit forming in the corner of my mouth and how much everything sucks. Then, I realized it was dumb and I deleted the entire thing and posted nothing in its place. Some small semblence of this post was waiting for me this morning, which I again deleted.

Don't you love it when you somehow have a remaining shred of clear thinking left when you're being totally crazy and obnoxious? I do. I'm not sure where the shred was, but there was a shred. Realistically, it wasn't anything a long run, glass of red wine and my husband's awesome pork/turkey/beef burgers (super greasy and super delicious) couldn't handle. Oh, and going to bed by 10:00 p.m. That helped, too.

The thing is, sometimes it feels like the sky is falling because one thing that seems stressful and awful ruins the party for everything else. Sort of like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl. The rest of the punch, hypothetically speaking, is fine except for the floater--which is not fine. Not fine at all.

We can't expect life to always be perfect and for all the planets in our personal solar system to orbit in harmony around the sun. Or, whatever planets orbit around in our personal solar system. I just made that up, so I'm not sure what my planets orbit around other than my head or my behind. Either way works for me.

What I'm really trying to say is this: sometimes, time does heal all wounds. Sometimes we just need a moment to simmer before declaring that the sky is falling. Other times, we need to remember that what we imagine to be the worst thing ever really wouldn't be the worst thing ever. It might be a blessing in disguise; an opportunity to do something we were too scared to do before. When we sit around waiting for the sky to fall, we forget about doing what we are supposed to be doing: simply living.


"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, August 27, 2010

I wanted the news, not the weather


Of all the things on this earth that I hold dear, I would say that my personal space is high atop this imaginary list. I don't like people touching me. I'm not a fan of friendly pats on the back (but I do like my nephew's "football guy hugs") firm grabs on the shoulder or clutches of the forearm. Really, I just don't want you to touch me. Ever.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. If I know you well, love you deeply, have the same blood as you coursing through my veins or said "I do" to you, you're allowed to touch me. Hell, I will even accept you within the bubble I like to call My Bizzness. With open arms. Otherwise, I suggest you take at least 2 steps in the rear direction because youarewaytooclosetome. Most people, I have decided, do not know what personal space is nor do they care to understand its definition.

This is never more evident to me than when I go to a retail outlet of any kind. You name it: grocery store, drug store, gas station, etc. No one at any of these places understands that I have an invisible bubble around my scrawny body that I often wish was bordered by an electric fence. You know, to zap you when you get entirely too close to me. Which seems like all the time.

Take the grocery store for example. I love the self checkout. But some people feel that they need to spoon my back like a koala bear when I'm checking myself out and wanting to kill the lady whose pleasant computer voice can't understand that I've already placed my items in the bagging area. I know that it's really important for you to buy 10 cases of Mountain Dew, 15 cases of Busch Light and a carton of cigarettes as soon as humanly possible, but I'd like you to wait OVER THERE, not RIGHT HERE. I'm busy buying my own personal essentials: Sugar-free Red Bull, protein bars and candy corn.

Yesterday really was the pinnacle of this overwhelming need I have developed over my 27 years for personal space. I was at CVS, buying Red Bull and other items I truly "needed" when someone invaded my personal space. At this particular store, there is really only room for one person in the point of sale area. That person is me. It's an unspoken rule, really. You can wait at least 5 steps behind me and then buy your crap after I pay for my crap. Capiche? No, no capiche here.

I was hanging out in my own personal space yesterday at the checkout when a woman stepped into My Bizness to purchase her stuff. Actually, she saddled up and smacked down her purchase on the counter  proudly: store-brand vaginal anti-itch cream with bonus Something Or Other that I don't remember because I had to look away so I wouldn't vomit on my cute shoes.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that sometimes ladies need some help in that general vicinity. That's why they make creams and lotions and medications--that's not the issue here. All I'm saying is, I typically hide my embarrassing purchases under less embarrassing purchases and hope that I don't run into anyone I know in my careful journey from the back of the store (because that's clearly where all the embarrassing stuff should be kept) to the front. There is no smacking embarassing items down on the counter for me, ever.

Also, I scream in my head at the person at the checkout counter to scan and hide the embarassing stuff first, so that no one knows I buy embarassing things. I have a reputation to uphold here. But I guess the real lesson here is that I just need to stop being so darn embarrassed by anti-itch cream. Clearly.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm Bennett Brauer

Like just about every other human being, I am a creature of habit. I have my routine, I have my favorites and I don't often deviate from a set schedule. It's just who I am.

This concept, however, can also be applied to my annoying quirks. When someone reminds me that I do the same things over and over again, it strikes fear into my heart. Mostly because I don't want to be weird but also because I fear ending up like my least favorite college professor. I majored in Communications and Public Relations, which means I took quite a few classes on communication and interaction, talking to the public, etc. This professor, who held her Doctorate in Something Important Relating to Communications had the most bizarre quirk: she would repeat the same phrase over and over again. The phrase? "And that dynamic."

Huh? I know. She would somehow, like a magician, manage to squeeze that phrase into just about every other sentence. It was bizarre, but entertaining. Members of my class and I would keep track of how often she said this phrase, and it was typically at least 30 instances per class which was quite impressive. It's just hard to soak in knowledge relating to communications from someone who clearly lacks basic communication skills themselves.

So, what's my annoying interpersonal quirk? Using "air quotes" when describing things. I typically "don't realize" that I'm "using air quotes" until my husband "mocks me with his air quotes" in an attempt to "get my attention." Then, he reminds me that my excessive air quotation use makes me a female Bennett Brauer, one of my favorite Chris Farley characters from SNL.

Granted, I'm not "eating my dandruff" or forgetting how to "properly wipe," but I hate to think that all paths lead to this place:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Football Widow


Every August, I develop a serious case of amnesia. Perhaps I just forget what the month of August means. Maybe I chose to stop remembering. Whatever the culprit, I can't seem to recall the quickly approaching shift until it knocks on my front door at 6 p.m on some idle Thursday.

It's not like I don't know what's coming. I do. For five years it's always been this way, without exception. The moment arrives and it's the same as each year before. It envelops our house like a blanket and doesn't let go until there's snow on the ground.

Sometimes, I say it's because I don't understand. I wasn't raised in a family that placed an importance on the fall season, the freshly cut grass and the fans huddled on the glistening aluminum bleachers listening to the familiar crack of the helmets knocking together on the line of scrimmage. I just don't get it. Other times, I wonder if it's because I don't like to remember what it feels like to know that August means he's with his other love. For 6 days a week. For months.

It usually begins innocently enough, with the familiar hum of game films and instructional videos blaring from the basement television as the dog rests her head on the top step of the stairs, waiting for him to come back. His neck slowly begins to develop a deep tan from standing in the sun during two-a-days. His voice becomes raspy from screaming and his brow begins to furrow. The air begins to cool, the days shorten and the leaves start to turn--and I know it's already begun.

The first year was the hardest. I had no idea what I was in for, so he bought me a book about what it's like to be the wife of a coach. We weren't married yet, but I quickly understood that he had already said "I do" to something else: football. Looking back, it's funny. I needed a book to understand what was going to steal him away.

Five years later, I can't say that I have adjusted to my role. It's almost as though the moment I become accustomed to having him around to wash the dishes and pick up the messes, he's gone again. He doesn't have time to pick up his dirty socks before the dog shoves them all in her mouth. He's just not around. Then again, the moment I am used to being alone, he's back again.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal. It's not the NFL. It's not even college level. It's high school. But football is football. Gone is gone. Despite the frustration over something else stealing my husband away from me and the kids the dog, I wouldn't have it any other way. He's gone because he loves the game. Because halfway through his college career, he realized he didn't want to be an engineer. He wanted to be a teacher and he wanted to be a coach. And as luck would have it, I wanted to be a coach's wife.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My socket wrench set

There really is nothing more annoying than when something breaks. Actually, I take that back: things that break while my husband isn't home to fix them are much more annoying. As you likely realize, I freak out about everything which means I'm awful at repairing broken items. In my panic-stricken state, it's difficult for me to locate my socket wrench set for example. Where in the Sam Hill DID I leave that THING, I often scream to the dog who thinks I'm yelling at her and crouches close to the ground to avoid my raised voice in some semblance of an army crawl position.

I'm not yelling. I'm just using my upset voice, that's all. Ironically, the socket wrench set likes to hide from me when I'm using my upset voice. Like today, when I closed the garage door and the arm thing-y became detached from the garage door and I reasoned that I was now stuck in my house for all eternity. Why? Well, because I couldn't find the other thing-y that keeps the arm thing-y attached to the door. A nut? Or a bolt? I don't know what it's called, I just know that I could not find it. And I'm trying to find it on the floor of the garage underneath my mid-sized sedan while wearing stilettos and a super-slimming pencil skirt. Not exactly ideal thing-y finding attire.

That thingy? It likes to come loose (because it was me who last tightened it with my socket wrench set the last time my husband wasn't home to fix it) and fly to locales that can only be referred to as, "From here to Kingdom Come." Because that's where the one minuscule piece I need to jerry-rig the door has run to and I'll be gosh darned if I can find it without a flashlight. Which I also cannot find. Seriously, do I have to lose everything all in one day? Yes, yes I do.

As luck would have it though, right as I began to ration food while being stuck in my home for the remainder of my life, I remembered my husband has a large collection of small thing-ys. I found the thing-y I needed--and the socket wrench set and all was good again. At least until my awful fixing abilities make the garage door fall on my car. Then, things will not be good. Ever. Again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What are you, a hoarder?

{A snapshot of my personal madness}

I am the first to admit that I'm quite weird. I am excessively anal-retentive about almost everything and if I had it my way, everything would be perfect all the time. I have this strange obsession with details that often makes it difficult to understand what most might refer to as the "big picture." I'm typically too busy scrubbing the baseboards of my house with a toothbrush to be bothered with folding my laundry.

Here's a good example: my office at work. As a PR professional, I am quite concerned with the daily newspaper. I want to know what's in the paper, what people are saying and how our organization is being portrayed to the public. So, I get the newspaper every day. I peruse the pages and eventually get around to using my scissors to cut out the pertinent articles and glue them into a binder, organized with tabs. Lately, however, I cannot be bothered with this menial task. I have bigger fish to fry. So, the newspapers have stacked up and it's getting to be quite embarrassing. If you and one of your friends wish to pay me a visit, for example, I unfortunately only have room for one of you to sit. The other must either A.) Stand or B.) Sit atop a mountain of newspapers. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

I've been embarrassed by this growing collection of newspapers, but not embarrassed enough to really do anything about it. Until today, when I was reminded that it makes me look crazier than I actually am. Someone paid me a visit and before saying anything else (like hello) they said, "What are you, a hoarder?"

Yes. Yes, I am. I'm those people that I gasp at on those TLC shows who refuse to throw anything away. I collect important things that I refuse to dispose of because they help fill the void in my poor, sad life. Newspapers are like friends. Friends who never talk back and who make my hands filthy. With friends like these, who needs anything else?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Groupon's Deal of the Day

Groupon is a fantastic site that features a deal in your area each and every day--delivered straight to your mailbox. Allow me to be (among the) first to tell you just how excited I am about today's deal.

It's a $50 giftcard to the GAP for just $25. Be still my retail-oriented, overindulgent heart! You can buy the card today and it's good until November of this year and must be used in store. Interested?

Click on the link below to purchase today's Deal of the Day!


Groupon's Deal of the Day 8/19: Get $50 worth of GAP apparel and accessories including sale items for only $25!

Yin & Yang


I'm convinced that the whole "opposites attract" concept really is true. Our similarities might draw us together, but in the end we are balanced out by someone who possesses personality traits that are, in many ways, polar opposites of our own.

My husband and I are no exception to this rule. While face value might lead you to think that we are very much alike (aside from the whole growing up on a farm thing) in reality we have very dissimilar personality traits. He follows the directions; I wanted to be finished with the project 3 hours before it began. He refuses to purchase anything that isn't on sale and must always use a coupon; I just want to buy sparkly things I like. He takes long naps on the floor; I lay on the floor to complain about my life's trials and tribulations. He recharges his mental batteries with silence; I never stop yapping. Never.

Really, though, the biggest difference between us is our capacity to freak out about things. Realistically, you could say that I freak out about nearly everything, even when it's completely unnecessary to do so. Last night is a spectacular example of my freaking out skills. Something to keep in mind is that the other way in which we're not alike is that I would prefer to turn on the air conditioning, while my husband would like to open the windows and save a few bucks. I quickly gave in last night, after receiving The World's Most Expensive Electric Bill Ever in the mail yesterday. It's been hot, OK?

So, the windows are wide open and my husband places a large box fan in the window of our bedroom. You know, to circulate the air. Because our ceiling fan is broken and there is only one speed currently available for air circulation and it is Mach 5. It's just a BIT too breezy for sleeping conditions.

As luck would have it, the box fan was actually circulating air that contained hundreds of little tiny gnats that threw a party in our bedroom and bathroom at 11:30 last night. I fah-reaked out. I was quickly reminded that freaking out wasn't solving any problems, like turning back the clock and not placing a box fan in front of a screen covered in gnats, it was just irritating the gnats. Instead, I spent roughly 20 minutes killing gnats on the ceiling with a flyswatter in my hot pink bathrobe. It's like a miniature bloodbath in there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Leaving your mark


I've posted on this topic before, but it never fails to intrigue me: scars. There's just something beautiful about the marks left on our body from truly living and experiencing life. Scars are proof that we've lived and survived, and that's something amazing. I was again reminded of this topic after reading the article below by Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo's Top Chef and a former model. She has a very noticeable, sizeable scar running down her right arm and does not cover or hide it from the world, which is quite amazing. See her article from the April, 2001 issue of Vogue below and prepare to be amazed.


Almost Flawless
by Padma Lakshmi

Can a terrible scar suddenly become a thing of beauty?

It depends, discovers Padma Lakshmi, on who's looking at it.

The accident happened on a Sunday afternoon filled with sunshine. I was fourteen years old and on my way back with my parents from a Hindu temple in Malibu. The traffic was quite heavy for a Sunday. I remember thinking how strange that was. Then there was a loud bang, and I looked out the windshield and saw nothing but the prettiest blue sky. I thought I was dreaming because I'd been nodding off, but then I realized we were part of that blue sky. Our red Ford Mercury sedan was airborne. Flying in a car felt like an exhilarating hallucination, an unbelievable ride that oddly remains one of the most beautiful images in my memory.

We were in the air for what seemed like a very long time, flying off the freeway and 40 feet down an embankment. We hit a tree dead-on and it stopped our fall. Blood, glass, dirt, and leaves were everywhere. We seemed to have been buried alive. The tree trunk had fallen directly on top of our car. I remained conscious, covered in glass, for the 40 minutes it took for the paramedics and firelighters to get through the traffic. They used the "jaws of life"—giant metal upfront cutters—to open the car roof like a sardine can. A helicopter landed in the middle of the highway to take my parents away. An ambulance carried me to the hospital. I finally passed out. When Iwoke up hours later, I had tubes coming out of several places in my body. My right arm had been shattered and my right hip had been fractured. After surgery, I regained the use of both of them but was left with a long scar on my arm. It was half an inch wide and seven inches long. I wished I’d had a conversation with the doctor and asked him to cut on the underside of the arm instead, where the scar would have been hidden. Now it was too late. But my parents and I had been fortunate. We all survived.

When I first got the scar, I was self-conscious about it. I perfected a casual pose that hid it under my left hand and thumb when my arms were crossed. But I also knew my scar was a symbol of my survival. The surgery that put it there had saved my arm. After nearly a year of physical therapy in the mornings before high school, I could once again stir pasta, dance, embrace others, throw a Frisbee or football and, in countless other ways, be a normal American teenager.

Two months before the accident, my mother and I had met a photographer who begged her to allow him to take photos of me for his book. Grudgingly, my mother had held the light reflector for him under the Santa Monica pier. But she disapproved of what was going on. After all, I was only fourteen. The photographer promised my mother not to show the pictures to any modeling agency unless she agreed. A year after the accident, we stumbled on the pictures in a drawer. Now that I had a caterpillar of scarred skin crawling down my arm, it seemed ridiculous to imagine that any agency would be interested in such an imperfect specimen. My mother, I felt, was secretly relieved.

I went to college on the East Coast. I had always stood out for my height, my skin color, my very long hair. But now, all people noticed was the scar. "It's such a shame," they would say. "She's so pretty, she could have modeled." It angered me that people saw me as a ruined beauty. Inside, I felt I was pretty. But while I loved fashion—I knew about everything from Elsa Schiaparelli and Chanel to Halston andJohn Galliano—I never thought I was pretty enough to model, even without my scar. The closest I had come to seeing someone like myself in a magazine was Yasmeen Ghauri on a Cosmopolitan cover in a pink satin dress. Still, I envied those women and kept a secret list of photographers I dreamed of working with: Steven Meisel, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, and, of course, Annie Leibovitz, all the while pretending the scar didn't matter. I was concentrating on higher things.

Then I was cast in a college play. The director worried that my scar might be distracting, so someone in the theater department who was good with makeup offered to help. Night after night, she covered the scar with pancake makeup and powder. Onstage, I was liberated. I felt like another person: not just in character but as another me, who didn't have a scar. By the end of the run, I had learned to put the makeup on myself.

In the last semester of my senior year, I went to study in Spain and was "discovered." An agent spotted me in a Madrid bar (I was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt) and asked if I'd ever thought of modeling. "No," I said, "I'm in college." As if that made me superior. "We have many college girls who model part-time," he answered. The next day my friend Santiago, who was determined to meet models through me, tricked me into going into the model agency under the pretext of saying hello to a friend. At the agency, they insisted on measuring, weighing, poking, and prodding me until I couldn't stand it anymore." I have a scar," I announced. No one was listening. "A very big scar," I boomed. I pulled up the sleeve of my turtleneck and revealed my secret. Then there was an interminable silence. Then Josette, the owner of the agency, said, “Have you seen a doctor about that?”

I felt awful and hated Santiago for taking me there. The phone rang. Josette answered it, then asked Santiago something in Spanish. "We're going to Elle magazine!” he cried out. After that, I did jobs where I wore winter clothes or used makeup on my arm. In one case the client even sprang for retouching. By the end of the summer, an Italian agent paid for my ticket to Milan. My first year in Italy, I got modest work as a fitting model for Gianfranco Ferre, Prada, and a catalog or two, but nothing more. Then I went to see Helmut Newton's agent, who took Polaroids of me in my undergarments. I had been modeling for a year and was immune to the humiliation of being photographed in my underwear. But I hated such appointments because I was very sensitive about my scar, which had become a professional problem. I knew I would get only so far with this aesthetic handicap. (Also, the waif phenomenon was in full swing—and I was a voluptuous 34C-24-34.) As I undressed behind a partition, I told the agent about the scar. "Don't worry, Helmut likes scars," he said. Soon afterward, my booker told me Newton wanted me for a privately commissioned photo, but that it involved full nudity. I agreed, but a few days before the shoot I began feeling more and more anxious. I had never posed completely nude, and two days before the appointment I did something I've never done since. I canceled the job. Needless to say, my agent was furious.

That week I made an appointment to undergo chemical dermabrasion to take some of the dark pigment out of the scar. I was frightened. A doctor in Los Angeles had once stuck a six-inch needle under the surface of the scar and shot it with cortisone. This made the scar flat but left me terrorized. In Milan, another doctor treated it, inch by inch. As anyone who has had dermabrasion will tell you, it's excruciatingly painful. I had never known such agony, even in the car accident itself. But it actually worked. The scar peeled to a neutral color quite close to the rest of my arm. This would be much easier to cover.

Then a miraculous thing happened. Helmut wanted to book me again, for a Lavaz-za calendar (with only partial nudity). I said yes. When I arrived at the shoot, I found that one of my closest friends, Antonio Gazzola, had been booked as the makeup artist. His presence was a good omen. In those early days, he was somehow always there at the right moment. Backstage, he used to whisper to me in Italian that I was just as beautiful as all the other models and that my scar made me special. He knew how anxious I was about the scar and would tell stylists they didn't have to check the sleeves on my rack, because he would make it disappear. Of course they always gave me the clothes with long sleeves.

When Antonio was done, Helmut came to say hello. He treated me calmly and comfortably, as a grandfather might. I began to feel at ease in my own skin; but when he caught a glimpse of my arm, he shrieked, "What have you done?" "Didn't they tell you about my scar?" I began to panic. "Yes, yes," he answered, "but why have you erased a part of it? You've ruined the beauty of it. Antonio, get your paints out and restore that mark to what it was."

I couldn't believe it. I felt like a queen. I can still remember Antonio smiling with a brush between his teeth as he touched up the scar, adding wine-colored lipstick to the lightened areas. "Crazy business," he murmured under his breath. He knew what I didn't: When the designers found out I had shot with Helmut because of my scar, not in spite of it, they would all want to use me. Already models with tattoos and piercings were showing up in American ads for Calvin Klein, and Europe often followed America's lead. Helmut would give everyone in Milan and Paris the courage to use me without camouflaging my scar, Antonio said.

He was right. I was soon booked for an eighteen-page shoot for Italian Elle. Then I shot a campaign with Aldo Fallai and was booked for many shows in Paris, from Ungaro to Sonia Rykiel. At the shows they still checked my sleeves—but now they were checking to make sure the sleeves were short, so that everyone would know who I was under all that makeup. Because I spoke Italian, I was a favorite of the news crews that covered the shows for the style-conscious Italian media. Eventually, RAI television asked me to join the cast of Domenica In, the biggest show on Italian television. I asked the director about showing my scar on TV. "Everyone knows that Padma has a scar," he said. "Don't cover it up."

In my career as an actress, the scar is no longer an issue. I cover it when necessary, but I prefer not to, especially in my private life. I love my scar. It is so much a part of me. I’m not sure I would remove it even if a doctor could wave a magic wand and delete it from my arm. The scar has singled me out and made me who I am. “Everyone knows that Padma has a scar." Now I know what Antonio whispered to me is true. The scar does make me special. I've started seeing my body as a map of my life. I can tell a story about every imprint life has made on my skin: the mosquito bites on my back from when I slept under the Sardinian sun the summer I first fell in love, the scrapes on my leg from the rocks in the Cuban sea during the filming of my first movie. In her introduction to Women, by Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag asks, "A photograph is not an opinion. Or is it?" I believe it most certainly is. A photograph can change the way you look at yourself, though it's more complicated than that. Perhaps it was under the right light, or the right lens, that I really saw myself for the first time. I have Helmut Newton to thank for that. People have told me that my scar makes me seem more approachable, more vulnerable; that it inspires a certain tenderness. Ironically, the greatest gift fashion has given me is the courage to expose what is most vulnerable, to be proud of my body. Including my scar.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 2-year plan

In the winter of 2007, I was taking a shower and it began raining water from the ceiling. As in, a large downpour. Indoors. Ironically, I had a head full of shampoo when my husband turned the water off. It was, to say the least, a disaster. Then again, so is this awful dog and cat themed wallpaper:





In the spring of 2008, we ripped this upstairs bathroom apart (down to the studs) in an attempt to find the leak. The destruction was enjoyable (have you ever had the pleasure of smashing drywall with a hammer?)and I found a certain satisfaction in eliminating all animal-themed items from the room. And seriously, that stained sink is DIS-gusting.

After ripping nearly all of the bathroom down to the studs and removing the moldy vanity (ick) and frozen, dead mice from under the floor (bleck), the room sat empty for a while. For two years. We were busy and really, not having a second bathroom wasn't all that inconvenient for us. You see, our master bedroom and full bath are located on the first floor of our home, as is another half bath. So really, only our occasional upstairs guests were the ones without an operational pot to piss in...something like that.



{Nice pipes.}

After realizing that closing the door was only placing a large oak 6-paneled band-aid on the problem, we slowly began to put the room back together again. Slowly. It took some time, as it should when you do it all yourself and realistically have jobs that feel like they are actually 5 instead of 1. But we managed to piece together a finished project in two years time.

This bathroom presented a bit of a challenge, considering it has no windows, an angled ceiling (our house is a cape cod style) and is roughly the size of a closet. So, I kept things very simple and clean: the walls are a grey-ish blue and all the accents are black and white. My parents gave us a ton of ceramic tile absolutely free because they didn't want it for their kitchen, which we put on the floor and walls above the shower.

So, here's the finished project. Well, almost finished: we still don't have a door. Minor detail.

{Ceramic tile on the floors and walls above the shower: free!}

{Toile fabric shower curtain from Target}





{Everyone needs a place to store their washcloths, right?}

Monday, August 16, 2010

The weekend in photographic review

{It's the "pretend like you're a statue" trick. Rudi has it mastered.}

I purchased a new camera with the birthday money I received from my parents and have likewise gone on a recent photographic binge. It was time: my previous camera was purchased nearly 6 years ago and, to say the least, was extremely awful and outdated. Therefore, owning a new camera with a "skin softening" feature makes it difficult to not to want to take photos of everything. Here are the highlights of my spectacular weekend in picture form.

{Little, yellow birthday roses}


{AH-mazing orangy-red sunflowers from the grocery store}


{Wearing peep toe shoes today to show off my weekend pedi in OPI's "My Chihuahua Bites"}


{A spectacular antique art deco-style ring from my parents. Isn't it beautiful?}


{A preview of tomorrow's big reveal, two years in the making}

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Twenty-Seven.

{Rocking the fancy pinky since 1983.}

Today, at long last, is the day of my birth. I mean, I've only been telling you about this day for a month now so you really can't say that you're surprised. Or excited.


{The caption next to this photo in my baby book says I've been saying, "I can't wait until my birthday" constantly after this day. Not much has changed in the last 25 years.}

But me? Oh, of course I'm excited. I love birthdays. They really are the best. I like cake, pretty wrapping paper and realizing that I'm now one year closer to 30. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Because there's not. My birthday is a day where I do what I want: I wear what I want, I eat what I want (I had frosting for breakfast) and I tell people whatever I want. I'm a real treat on my birthday.


{My first birthday: cupcakes and floral wallpaper}

I actually enjoy becoming a year older because it helps to alleviate the complex I have developed over looking like I'm seventeen years old. I get the side-eye when buying spray paint. I get a skeptical stink eye when purchasing cough syrup. I am asked for my ID when buying a rated-R movie or a video game that is not rated E: for Everyone. I have my ID at the ready when ordering an alcoholic beverage. Some say it's because I'm thin, but I happen to think it's my baby face and bad skin. You know, because that's what teenagers have. Not 27 year-old women. They've moved on past skinny, acne and baby faces and evolved into super classy love handles, wrinkles and sunken eyes. Right?

Not really. The thing about birthdays is that we often spend our time considering what we once thought we would have accomplished by this age. You know, like when you were ten years old you would proclaim that by thirty you'd have a really important job in Manhattan, living in a fab brownstone with your handsome stock broker husband and three picture-perfect children that appear to have hopped out of the latest Crew Cuts catalog. We always expect our lives to be perfect as children, because we think that life is perfect. The thing about growing up is that we realize life isn't all unicorns and puppy dogs. The horror! Life is unexpected and honestly, no one can really have it all. Besides, if you did have it all, where would you put it?

Awful joke. I know. But the thing about turning twenty-seven is that I'm not sitting here weeping over all the things I have yet to check off my life's to-do list. There are plenty of things in my life that I don't like, places I would rather be right now and children that I will probably never squeeze from my loins, but birthdays aren't for being depressed about what you don't have. They are about getting drunk while wearing a tiara with your college friends at some skanky bar. Whoops! That was what I did for my birthday six years ago. All this talk about looking like a teenager made me forget what year this is.

What I realized today, as my adorable nephews helped me blow out three hot pink candles atop a mound of frosted cupcakes, is that I don't have much to wish for. Though perhaps I didn't see it back then when dreaming of what twenty-seven, twenty-eight or even thirty might look like, I have a very full life. Is it precisely how I imagined it? Not exactly. But as far as lives go, I would say that mine is pretty darn wonderful. So, here's to twenty-seven years. I have a feeling this is going to be a great year.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fashion meets function: the neckerchief

Everybody knows an outfit just isn't an outfit without the perfect accessories. Some choose fancy baubles, others stick to basic pearls. In the end, though, it's the polish to any ensemble.

{This is what we like to call "Little Babushka"}

Our dog Rudi is quite privy to this fact. Every other month, she heads to the groomers for some beauty-related maintenance. They give her a bath, trim her nails, clean her ears and express her anal gland--all for just thirty-five dollars! It's a steal of a deal you ask me. Mostly because I have no desire in expressing the anal gland of anyone, no matter how much I love you. Don't get me wrong, I love you quite a bit. It's just that my smooth, un-calloused hands want no part in your anal gland's expression. Especially when it makes that frowny face. It's the worst, I tell you!

Truthfully, the best part of paying someone else to bathe my dog for me is the complimentary neckerchief Rudi receives. It changes in pattern with the seasons and really, is quite handsome. Even for a lady dog. And what a handsome lady she is! Yesterday's pattern had more of a nautical air, with compass-like patterns throughout. It's really quite charming and reminds me of my days on the sea. Ah, yes. Those were the days.

The funny thing about the dog neckerchief is that my husband thinks this particular dog accessory is deplorable. Dogs don't wear outfits, he likes to say. I, on the other hand, think animals wearing clothing is quite hilarious. Neckerchiefs aren't hilarious, but a dog wearing a shirt and shorts? Now, that is quite humorous. I also think he has a particularly negative reaction to this accessory from an epside of Seinfeld in which Elaine's boyfriend takes Grandma Mimma's napkins and uses them as neckerchiefs for his dogs:



But regardless of where you stand on this particular debate, one thing is for sure: wearing a doggy neckerchief is really QUITE exhausing. That, or someone sticking a camera in your face at 6:00 a.m. Either way. Thanks for mutton.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just let it all out

{Photo from here}

My goal yesterday was to see how many un-enjoyable things I could do at once. Like, reading Maxim magazine with Lindsay Lohan on the cover, sitting in the surgical waiting area of the hospital while two women bad mouthed my employer. I stopped at three.

Allow me to explain. My husband had a minor procedure done (a scope of his upper GI) at the hospital yesterday, which means there was a significant amount of waiting around for something to happen. I typically don't do well with waiting and realistically, the hospital is not an enjoyable place to hang out for hours on end. You know, because of all the old people.

So, while we're waiting in a room the size of a small bathroom, there are lots of sights and sounds to take in. People say weird things and do weird things; the hospital is just a weird place in general. As you can imagine, I find this to be incredibly hilarious. I enjoy laughing at everything, making fun of everything and NOT trying to tune anything out. It's my gift. We're sitting there, waiting, for what seems like an eternity while a cast of characters passes by the open door. My favorite character was, by far, Really Gassy Guy. Really Gassy Guy was wheeled into his room, very close to our room after some sort of gastrointestinal procedure. I knew that I was in for a treat when the nurse loudly proclaimed that "there's a lot of gas in there" and "just go ahead and let it all out." And let it out he did. It started simply enough, with a loud burp. "That's better!" he said excitedly. Then, it proceeded with a small, but audible, fart. "There's one!" he screamed.

I started giggling, because it was hilarious that he was A. passing gas and B. excited about it. My husband, who was trying to sleep, reminded me that I should just "learn to tune things out" and "think about something else." You know, he's right, I thought. I should learn to just ignore things! It's something I've been meaning to work on but just haven't had the time to perfect this skill. This is the perfect time to practice the improvement of my tuning-out skills.

Then, this happened: PFFFTTHHTHTHHTHT. The loudest, juiciest fart you have ever heard in your entire life came out of this man. If that wasn't enough, (because, clearly, it was not) he then screamed, "OH YEAH THAT FEELS SOOOO GOOD!"

I lost it. Again. Then, turned to my husband and said, "So, how's that whole tuning things out thing going for you?"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So you're saying there's a chance

{photo from here}

It's been raining quite often in Ohio recently. As an avid gardener who has 34534 other things to do rather than water my plants, I find great enjoyment in this recent weather pattern. However, as someone with the world's frizziest, biggest, craziest hair, I do not enjoy getting rained upon. This is why I frequent weather stations and websites to get the quadruple Doppler radar forecast before going outdoors. It's common sense, really. I would even get the weather on my Smart phone if I wasn't too cheap to pay for Internet service.

Yesterday was sorta no exception to this tried and true rule. The dog and I headed out on our nightly walk, but wished to check the weather before departing on our extended journey. Instead of checking the weather ourselves, we relied upon my husband to report the conditions. You're fine, he said. Only a 30% chance of rain, he reported like an avid meteorologist in front of a large green screen with big hand motions and funny graphics. Like, the classic thermometer that's sweating because it's SO hot or the sun that is wearing sunglasses to protect its eyes from...itself? Then there's my favorite: the shivering, obviously cold, snowman. Because when your body is actually made of snow, it's possible to be cold. Of course.

Anyway. We put our trust in this report and headed out, ignoring the rumbles of thunder and liking our 70% rain-free chances. However, halfway through our journey the sky broke open and rained heavily upon us both. I'm still trying to sort out who enjoyed the experience less, but judging by the fact that the dog was really in no hurry to get back home, I vote for myself. I tried to run, but The Dog Who Doesn't Want to Run Unless She Feels Like It Which Is Never was having no part in the urgency of the situation. She doesn't like water, but she doesn't like to run more so trotting home at a leisurely pace clearly took precedence.

After finally arriving home, I toweled myself off while the dog felt the best drying method was to rub her entire body (which, surprise! smelled like a wet dog) all over the off-white carpet. Whoever felt off-white carpet was a good idea needs to be poked in the eye. When my better half came trotting down the stairs, the following happened:

Me: "30% my ass."
Him: "I said there was a chance. There's always a chance. Everybody knows that."

Everybody, except me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

They should call them floories, not roofies

I do all of my best thinking on the floor. Seriously. When things get chaotic and I feel overwhelmed and the, "We should just sell all of our belongings, including our home and rent a U-Haul and start driving to a random state in the Western United States now!" part of my brain starts to whirl, I lay on the floor. Spread eagle. The dog usually sniffs and licks my face, then joins me. And we lay there. And think. About whatever. Until my husband the rational member of our household tells us to cut it out.

But it's so nice there, on the floor. We don't mind the fact that it's disgusting and covered in black dog hair. It helps us think better. It's like a little, tiny, miniature vacation from reality. Most people do not lay on the floor, because IT'S THE FLOOR. No one likes it down there because that's the gross part of the house where the bottoms of our feet wipe filth everywhere. That's what couches, chairs and ottomans are for. You know, for sitting--like a normal person. But I can't think there, not like I can on the floor. So I lay on the floor, as long as it takes to finish my good thinking. Then, I get up and move on. I like to think that it's a brief time out from walking around and doing exhausting upright thinking. It's quite tiring.

Besides being totally gross, laying on the floor is kinda weird. I mean, most people avoid laying on the floor at all costs. Because we both know that you lay on the floor when you pass out, are too drunk to stand or have some sort of injury that prevents you from standing or walking. The floor is not a desirable locale where you like to hang out on a regular basis. In fact, it's a place that you hope to never hang out unless physically required to do so. Your body, lying on the floor, is typically not a good thing.

Unless, of course, you need to do some serious thinking. Like, considering a new career in beach bummery instead of your actual job. Or, thinking it's logical to want to sell all your material posessions and move to Arizona in a U-Haul. Serious stuff like that. Floor thinking really is a place to get all the crazy stuff out of your head and leave it where it belongs--on the floor. That way, you can stand up and do more rational upright thinking. Everybody knows that people who lay on the floor to think don't exactly have the best ideas, anyway.

Monday, August 9, 2010

There are no dresses in baseball

{photo from here}

Every household has a system. This, I believe, is the key to true happiness and un-divorcedness. That's right, I'm making up words. Deal with it. Without a system, I have decided, things go down the crapper pretty darn quickly.

So, what's our system, you ponder anxiously? It's simple, really. He cooks, I do the dishes. His money is our money and my money is our money. We're good at sharing. But, the key to true happiness and success doesn't lie here. Oh, no. Not even close. The key is the laundry system. It's the only way things are going to work. The system at our house is the old favorite, every man/woman for him/her self. It's a free for all. It's a jungle in there. What's there? There is the laundry room, and it's an insane place.

You see, I'm pretty high maintenance when it comes to clothing. I need lots of clothing, plenty of options and I need things to be washed, dried, folded and fluffed in a very specific manner. I might think about seriously hurting you if you put my bras in the dryer or DARE to wash my indigo-dyed skinny jeans with un-similar colors. It happened once and my husband still, to this day, has not heard the end of it. Mostly because I have a bunch of formerly white clothing that has a blue-ish tint and also because he made it to the State Fair for his laundry skills as a child. That's not a joke, either. It's real. Strange, yes, but totally real.

Ever since the Jeans Mixed With Whites Situation, we have been on our own when it comes to laundry needs. I can't complain that my favorite shirt isn't clean, because it's my own fault that my favorite shirt isn't clean. Because I'm the one who didn't wash it because I probably was too busy watching Jersey Shore and lamenting over how everyone is just SO mean to Angelina to be bothered with babysitting the washing machine. Also, I have no one to shake my finger at when the washing machine is so overloaded with clothing that it decides to--literally--eat one of my bras. It wasn't pretty, and it smelled awful. My fault.

So, when packing for our recent weekend getaway to Chicago, my husband spied my clothing choices and pondered what I was thinking. He wondered because I was packing a dress to wear to yesterday's Cubs v. Reds game. A red dress, mind you, but a dress. When he caught on to my scheme, the following happened:

Him: "What's with the dress?"
Me: "I'm going to wear it to the game."
H: "No wife of mine is wearing a DRESS to a BASEBALL GAME."

In the interest of saving himself the public humiliation of being married to woman who wears dresses to take in America's Favorite Pastime, he did my laundry. Victory is mine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The early birthday present

It's the month of my birthday, which means I'm really excited about my birthday for no apparant reason. Birthdays are a pretty big deal in my family, which typically means that my husband thinks I'm insane. Well, more insane than usual.

I'm normally pretty insane. Take last night, for example. At roughly 2:00 a.m. a major, loud thunderstorm rolled through the area and my husband, who was already lying awake from his insane heartburn problem, was marveling at the fact that I somehow managed to sleep through said loud disturbance. Just when he was about to make sure I wasn't dead and would be awake in case we needed to take shelter in the basement, he claims I sat up like the living dead. I "shot up like a living dead person in a coffin from the Michael Jackson Thriller music video" actually. The first thing screamed out of my mouth?

"DID YOU COVER THE GRILL?!?!?"

We had super awesome delicious porterhouse steaks for dinner last night and I forgot to do my only job, which is covering the grill. Awful wife, party of one. After finding out, apparently, that the grill was not covered, I announced that our nice grill was ruined forever and layed my pretty little head back down on the pillow and went back to sleep immediately. Through the crazy thunderstorm. See. Told you. Cray-zee.

But back to my birthday. It's not my birthday. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not even the day after tomorrow. Or the day after that. It's gonna be a while. But, I'm still excited about this day and about what fantastical thing I'm going to receive for my birthday. So much so that when what I'm told is "one of" my birthday gifts arrived from the UPS man yesterday, I convinced my husband to let me open it. He tried putting up a fight but quickly lost the battle. I think I'm starting to wear him down and it only took three short years!

As I ripped open the box and tore away the packing material, I reached in and pulled out my fantastic gift and squealed with delight.



It was pepper spray made especially for my bike with a new and improved tear-away design! Used by the NYPD! And those exclamation points are not me feigning my excitement! I'm really, genuinely excited about pepper spray! Seriously, you guys. My husband knows that I watch enough Law & Order (all varieties/flavors) Dateline, 48 Hours: Mystery and COPS to approach almost every situation with a large amount of skepticism and just a pinch of trepidation. Sometimes--just sometimes--it is necessary. Most times? Not. I could be called paranoid, but I prefer to say that I'm actually "cautiously optimistic" about everything.

I run with pepper spray in my hand. Why? Well, because I'm running alone in a rural area and I'll be damned if I'm going to let a weird person or mangy mutt interrupt my happy time while running and listening to Justin Bieber. Have I ever used it? Nope. But I know that much like every time I forget my umbrella and it starts to rain on the frizzy mess I call my hair, some rabid dog will chase me and interrupt me and JB. That's what I call Justin, move along. Nothing to see here.

Riding my road bike with the spray is no exception. You should see the deranged look on these dog's faces, people. They want to eat my scrawny ankles and they want to eat them NOW. I love dogs. But seriously. I have been carrying my spray in a zippered pouch under my bike seat, which clearly means that by the time I get it out and begin spraying I will have either: A. Been eaten alive by a loose dog that likes the taste of human flesh or B. Crashed my bike into a corn field, THEN eaten alive by a loose dog that likes the taste of human flesh. So, this sweet new spray potentially solves all of the problems that present themselves while riding my road bicycle. Well, other than the problem of wearing spandex and a very unfashionable helmet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I am rubber, which makes you glue

Whoever came up with the whole "sticks and stones" addage is really full of it. I mean, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that broken bones are painful, however the awful things that people say to (and about) us really aren't all THAT bad. Hey everybody, let's look on the bright side while we cry ourselves to sleep: at least our bones aren't broken!

The truth is, we say these things because we like to pretend that words are just that--words. We attempt to fool ourselves and others into believing that they can tear us down with words but we'll still be fine. "You can call me a fatty all you want, but just don't pick up rocks and tree limbs and hurl them at my chunky body! Please, anything but violence!"

We undergo many sneaky tactics when it comes to saying dumb things. Most of the time, people attempt to make themselves feel better by beginning something offensive with an automatic defense.

Examples:

"Don't take this the wrong way, but..."

"I probably shouldn't say this, but..."

"I think you're great and all, but..."

"Well, I gotta be honest..."

It's like you can say whatever you're thinking, so long as you begin it with a phrase that implies you know it's wrong.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but I hate you and I wish you would fall off a cliff to your sudden death."

"Oh, don't worry--I understand! Also, I can't think of any possibility that I could take that the wrong way!"

The funny thing is, we have a tendency to remember the horrible things people say to us and forget the compliments. Ten insults and one compliment might as well be eleven insults. Ever notice that when you feel self-conscious about something specific, you never forget when someone insults you about it? You think you have a big nose; ergo, you recall all negative comments regarding the largeness of your massive, beak-like honker. It's like you are actually seeking comments to reinforce your own, often unwarranted, paranoia.

Most of the time, people mean well with their comments. But, when people don't know what to say to you in an awkward exchange, they desperately scrape the bottom of a deep, nearly-empty/empty barrel for words to offer you in possible comfort. Usually, this results in saying something regrettable, aka WORD VOMIT.

Ever heard of word vomit? It's chunky, liquid regret. It is usually, but not always, accompanied by the imbibing of an alcoholic beverage. Anything that you sorely regret as you're saying it and desperately wish you could shove it back into your mouth is word vomit.

Real, actual examples:

"That's an interesting dress. It kinda makes you look Amish."

"Is that a weird scar on your neck or a hickey?"

"You're really skinny. Just wait until you have kids; you'll never be skinny again."

This is where my penchant for biting sarcasm and my own word vomit come in handy. When some word vomits on your new shirt, you have no choice but scrape it off and throw it in their face, right?

My real, actual responses:

"Well, I'd rather be Amish than fat."

"No, it's actually a traumatic melanoma scar. Thanks for asking."

"I can hardly wait! Let's build an underground fortress, stock it with nothing but Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and wait out this exciting situation together!"

I know, I'm pretty horrible. Sometimes, I just can't help myself from my own horrible self. I often cite the over-used, under-appreciated, "But they started it!" excuse when returning the favor to others. Usually, it's because they did in fact start it. Other times, it's because they totally deserve it.

Either way, the stupid thing saying in your life isn't going away anytime soon. Therefore, you should stock up on witty, quick responses in case of disaster. I'll let you store them right next to my super delicious Little Debbie snack cakes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What we're doing now

After much thought, some crying and lots of talkin' to Jesus, we have committed to making a large decision that will likely change the course of life as we know it.




We are going to adopt a child.

I've begun to hint at it, like when I talked about waiting here and taking a big step there, but I have this "thing" about just admitting things before alluding to them for weeks on end. It probably comes off as being completely annoying (you can tell me if it is, I have emotions of steel and a heart made entirely of coal) but...I just don't know how to talk about things like this. Well, I have ideas from a literary standpoint, I just don't want to be that whiny infertile lady who's always whining about her infertile-ness and ovaries. Er, something like that.

I have a minor complex when it comes to admitting that I'm not perfect. It's not that I think I'm perfect, it's that I'm constantly chasing this dream of trying to be the perfect everything, which we all know is completely impossible. Just when I thought I was almost perfect (har!) I found out we couldn't have children and I realized that (duh) I'm not perfect. Never was, never will be, so on and so forth. It brought me down a notch in more ways that one, mostly because it made me realize that no matter how hard I try--and believe me, I try--I'm ultimately not in control of my life's path. It's God's plan, not mine.

It can be a tough concept to swallow, but I'm getting there. I'm still that work in progress, chugging along day by day, working to put the agony of the road behind us--well, behind us. The thing about the situation that we're in is that we have very limited options (two to be exact) and those options are both really complicated and really expensive. There's no simple answer, there's no obvious choice and ultimately, either way is a long, painful road. Truthfully, this is what hurts the most. It's not the money, it's not the waiting, it's that it just can't be simple.

When my husband and I sat down to open wedding gifts the day after our wedding, we came across a card that had the most beautiful thing written inside. I'm amazed not only by what it said, but by who it was from. It read:

Always remember: anything worth having always involves hard work.

You can't have a rainbow without a little rain, right? We sent in our adoption application yesterday, which means we have a long, long road of waiting and red tape ahead. I'm OK with that, it just so happens that I have a large umbrella to keep me dry. I'm ready for what life holds for us, even if it's not what I imagined. Even if it means standing in the rain for at least three years. I'll bring my galoshes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The shape of things to come

I had a wonderful, picture perfect weekend: productive, insightful and lovely. I spent QT with friends and my husband, drank delicious deep red wine, went to see Inception (now I need to see it again) and placed the finishing touches on our upstairs bathroom after 2 years of on-again off-again work {which is another story for another day}.

Today, however, feels like my body was recently thrown into a meat grinder. This is partly because I ran 5 miles in 30 minutes last night whilst trying not to be killed by teenage boys drag racing and partly because I'm consumed with stress. I'm not good with stress, which is why I weigh 5 pounds less this week than I did last week. Gulp.

When I have a lot of things on my mind, it's hard for me to form a coherent sentence or to think of a funny story to tell you. It's like the creative part of my brain is being completely blocked by the "OMG I think we're gonna die I'msoscaredIdon'tknowwhattodo" portion of my brain. I wish I had control over the crazy, incoherent part but I don't. So, I just go with it and know that I'll have my appetite for things other than Red Bull back by Wednesday.

More than anything, times like this remind me just how precious dear friends are, like the friend who sent me this today:

When Others Disappoint You

Beware of placing too much expectation on others. Realize that people will let you down from time to time, but do not let that impact your faith. Trust God to work even through these disappointments.

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