Saturday, December 31, 2011


It's New Year's Eve and while I don't make New Year's resolutions, I just happened to read an article this week that has given me information that I think will make 2012 a better year for me.

According to this lengthy - but definitely worth reading - article in the New York Times, once you've gained weight, and kept it on for a substantial length of time, your body alters metabolism in an attempt to regain the weight. You should read this...really...and then click through the slide show for the Bridges, a couple who goes to great lengths to maintain a healthy diet. The obsessive food measuring, calorie counting, and exercising? I've been there.

And everytime I'm NOT doing all of those things, the weight creeps back. Like...there is no "normal" for me where I can eat what I see thin people all around me eat, and not gain back every pound.

I have been a pescetarian or vegetarian for 20 years now. I don't eat fast food, much processed food or very many sweets (I rarely eat dessert and never drink sugared soda). I consume - because I've tracked it - about 1500 calories a day, (yes, including cocktails.) And while I don't exercise every single day anymore, the only times I have lost weight have been when I've been doing something significant (like walking five miles, five days a week or biking 10-12 miles a day, five days a week), I instantly gain 15 pounds. And there I am, back at the 40 pound total I'd like to lose.

That 40 pounds should not be the end of the world. I am a meticulous groomer, always always always made up and hair done, always well-dressed. Whether I've been a size 4, a size 16, or everything in between (and I've been up and down the rungs on that ladder a dozen times in the last 15 years), I've always looked the best I can for that size. I'm confident in that.

It's sister is a beautiful size 4...she's been an unhealthy 0 or 2 at times, but I think she is at a good, healthy weight now and on her very small frame, a 4 is fine. My Mom, even at my sister's thinnest, thought she looked great. But then, my Mother hasn't told me that I'm pretty or beautiful - not even on my wedding day - since I was in my early twenties. That is the last age at which I was effortlessly thin. She did tell me a few years ago that I looked better...that she wouldn't say I was "big" anymore. Before you think my Mother is cruel, please don't...she is just giving the the brutal facts that sometimes my Mom is (and my late dad was) famous for. It's okay. It's her truth and I don't have to wonder what she is thinking or if she is being honest...she is.

So, I guess my resolution for this year is to use the information in the article to get heather and thinner this year. I want to. I know I'd feel better about myself and I know I'd be healthier closer to my desired weight. I know it's going to mostly mean more exercise, and that it's not going to be a temporary thing.

But damn, it feels good knowing that I wasn't doing anything "wrong"...I am not a closet Ho-Ho eater! I'm not a slob or lazy. My body has just been fighting me. And now it's time to kick it's ass.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Here's to Ned!

This is the best news I've read in a long while.

Congratulations, Ms. Pants! Couldn't have happened to a more fabulous person...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nerf Car

We both want the same thing...we want to make this exchange quick and safe, short and sweet. We both want to get home in one piece.

Three times in the last two weeks, the exchange where 275 E becomes 75 N/S has generated seriously scary accidents. Like the kind where even someone like me - who pledges to not look at those cars and individuals involved - doesn't have a choice about looking, because the accident takes up three lanes, and you don't know until you're right up on it, because it's bumper-to-bumper, and you have to signal for five minutes until someone "kindly" lets you over, and while you're waiting, you are forced to look at the wreck while talking yourself out of an epileptic seizure from the flashing lights.

All while you're praying that everyone made it out of the collision alive.

Overhead, a giant electronic billboard - courtesy of Champion Windows - reminds us this week to be safe when we drive. "Allow a safe distance between your car and the next." "Don't eat while driving." "Drive friendly."

I guess all of these are more constructive and specific than the ones I'd put up. "Don't text while you drive." "Pay attention, Idiot." "Don't be a douche."

It makes me wonder about making cars of Nerf. Or rubber.

Consider hiring a cab if you're going to stay out with the masses for New Years Eve, 'kay? If people drive like this in the daylight, sober...

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Holidays

This is the kind of morning I love:

I have a big cup of gingerbread flavored coffee here. Houdini is sitting next to me, lobotomizing one of his Christmas presents (it badger or something similar). Steinvic, Young Man and Girlfriend are all still sacked out from a busy Christmas of running around between our families' houses.

I woke up early and couldn't sleep any longer, so here I am. I could have stayed in bed a little longer, but someone's pee meter was running (Houdini's, not mine) and since he's been on meds for a UTI, I figured I better get up and get him outside.'s cold but dry...we've had tons of strange, Spring-like weather the last few weeks, but the cold is beginning to settle in. Had all that rain been snow...yuck.

In a few minutes, I'll put on a pot of corn chowder, and sew while it cooks.

See how cozy this all is?

Christmas Eve had us doing Our Usual, which I'll never tire of - we went to our local, saw a few friends, gave extra nice tips and lottery cards to our favorite bartenders, then came home for drinks, appetizers, great music, and opening our gifts to each other (Steinvic went way above and beyond...I am spoiled.)

Christmas Day had Young Man and Girlfriend driving down from Cbus, then we all headed to my folks' house...dinner, music, visiting, and presents for all.

Then back here for opening gifts with the kids, and movies...then sleep.

Full day of family...can't beat it.

I hope your Holiday was just as sweet! Merry Christmas...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another Product Endorsement For Which I Will Not Be Compensated - Nutra Nail Gel Perfect Nail Color

Hello! It's been a while since I have given a product a big thumbs up here, so it's about time, right?

Gel nails are all the rage around here right now - either Shellac or Gelish are applied at the salon for between $30 and $40, and last about 2-3 weeks. I loved acrylics, but would obsess about every little bit of growth, and found myself going to the salon too often for fill-ins. I felt like I was spending too much money on fingernails, and I'm frugal about my self expenses.

And the concept of gel nails is interesting to me. I like to have my nails painted, but since the whole Incoco deal (only available online and now more expensive than before) fell through for me, I don't have the time to paint them only to have chips within a day or two. At the same time, for the money...I'd rather have my nice, big, insanely long, decorated acrylics that were my signature look for so long. And since I know that isn't a good option for the above reasons, I considered investing in my own system to do gel nails at home. Red Carpet makes a great starter kit that costs about $60 at Meijer, with additional polish colors for $10 each.

I was actually considering treating myself to the kit when I saw the Nutra Nail Gel Perfect Nail Color display.

For $11, you can give yourself a gel manicure with no UV light needed (the most expensive part of purchasing any of the the at home versions)...and not for just one manicure, because you'd have the whole bottle of color to use for multiple times. From a cost factor, this seemed like a win, so I thought, I'm giving it a try.

In each kit, you get three small bottles of product - an activator, the color gel and a small container of cleaner to use between coats to keep the color brush from getting goopy.

I shaped my nails, pushed my cuticles back, and scrubbed my nails with a nailbrush and some grease fighting dish detergent. I've found that this really helps with manicures...getting the natural oil off my nails seems to help with adhesion. I then slicked on a thin, even coat of activator on one hand, then immediately went back to brush on the color gel coat as instructed. After, I wiped the color brush clean and dipped it in the cleaner. Then, I repeated the process on my other hand.

Then, did the whole process once more on each hand.

Even though it was my first attempt, I was blown away. It was COMPLETELY dry immediately. I'm not talking the kind of dry normal polishes promise, where it's kind of dry but not really, and you can easily dent your nails if you don't sit still for an hour or so. I'm talking like completely dry, go ahead and wash your car/fold the laundry/dig a hole for your new swimming pool dry.

I used Dahlia, a very dark shade, and after three days, I had a chip. Because I am a polish picker, I did what I usually do and picked. Had I not picked, the manicure would have lasted much longer. But I took that color off and replaced it with another shade on Thursday night (I think it's Orchid, but I'm too lazy to get up and check right now) and I have not had a chip or scratch or anything. Amazing!

I've read some semi-negative reviews online from people who were expecting this product to perform exactly the same as the salon versions. I wasn't expecting that, so for me, this is a great DIY alternative that is affordable and reasonable. If I get a week out of a manicure, I'm pleased, especially since the application is so speedy. Also, please note, right now there is a $2 off your next purchase in each box, and $1 off on the remover coupon in each box.

I think if you give it a try, you'll like it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Tuesday, Steinvic packed up and went to Cbus for work. And I went to work, and it was an ordinary day.

Tuesday night, we got our first snow. Light, wet, and short-lived, Houdini discovered yet another thing about the change in seasons: if Fall generates free treats in the form of leaves, Winter brings free treats in the form of delicious snow.

It was after 8 and I'd sent Steinvic (by phone) a photo of Houdini's paw prints in the snow and after a while, checked for a reply and I saw that he'd tried to call twice. My ringer was off.

I called him back. Twice. Straight to voicemail. Something told me that something was wrong. I called a third time and a woman's voice answered, "Hello?"

Whaaaaa??? What the... and then I realized it was his cousin, Kay. Kay was talking a mile a minute and I said, "Wait...slow down..." and then listened as she explained that Steinvic was in the emergency room. She and her husband had run into him at the local pub and Steinvic said he didn't feel good and hadn't for a few days. (He didn't mention this to me!) And now he really didn't feel right and was worried. After talking about his symptoms, they took him around the corner to the firehouse where Kay's husband works.

Talk about miracles...Kay's husband is an EMT and a firefighter. After giving Steinvic an EKG and checking his blood pressure, they found his BP was extremely high and they - and a friend at the firestation - convinced Steinvic to go to the emergency room. He didn't want to go at first...was worried I'd try to drive in the snow, thought he should just go to his other cousin's house (where he stays when he's in town) and rest...but they said that he HAD to go.

When Steinvic got to the ER, his blood pressure was 223/120. This is, as we learned from the kind doctors and nurses, is the point at which people stroke out, have heart attacks and die.

So...about 15 minutes after getting the scoop from Kay and Steinvic and freaking the hell out, I was in the car heading for Columbus. Meanwhile, my folks were on their way to our house to pick up Houdini. Steinvic said, "Don't come...there is nothing for you to do." He was worried about me driving in the night and weather. But there was something I could do...I could sit with my best friend, who hadn't spent a night in a hospital since birth.

You know, you can make it from West Chester to downtown Columbus in an hour and eleven minutes if you want to.

And there I found my husband, lying in a hospital bed in the ER, hooked up to machines. I said, "This is not something I ever want to have to see again." You see, once, long ago, Steinvic had a brief bout of gout. He'd never had it before, and hasn't since. But at the Urgent Care, the doctor told him his BP was elevated. Steinvic decided it was because he'd been in such pain, and dismissed the idea. So...really, this has been brewing for some time. Plus, there is family history of high BP and heart attack, so it's in his genes, too.

We are so lucky... so fortunate that Steinvic ran into Kay and her husband, that he agreed to go to the hospital, that he didn't have a stroke or a heart attack. Steinvic could have died. Every time I think of that, I can't believe it...

And he is fine now. Steinvic is a smart man. He filled his prescriptions, bought a BP meter for our home and has been checking and recording it every day, and made an appointment with a doctor here in town - he hasn't had a doctor in ages - for Monday.

He promised to get this taken care of and to look out for his health. Steinvic keeps his promises.

The doctors mentioned several times that high blood pressure is the silent killer. You can go about with high blood pressure and not notice much of anything until it's too late. Some of the warning signs are blurred vision, headaches, feeling light headed and feeling nauseous. Aside from the blurred vision, most of those symptoms are things you might feel with a common cold.

So, the next time you're in the drugstore or near a firehouse, consider getting your BP checked. Firehouses - and I didn't know this before - offer this service for free, and so do most Walgreens.

It only takes a minute, and it could save your life.

I don't know what this world would be like without Steinvic, and I pray with all my heart I never know.

Very, very fortunate...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Days and Days...

I had good intentions...fact of the matter is, I flat out haven't had time to post here!

Let's see...Thanksgiving was lovely. This is the first year in eight that we've had Thanksgiving in Cincinnati with my folks. It was just Steinvic, my Mom, my Stepdad, me and (of course) Houdini. No way we were leaving our little guy at home for his first Thanksgiving on this planet! We missed being with our Columbus side of the family, but it was still a really good day.

By the way...Houdini really likes turkey. I mean, REALLY likes it. Sadly, we've finally experience dog gas and we'll be limiting his turkey intake from here on out...

I cooked the green bean casserole (I put baby bellas, onion, red peppers and celery in my version, which I feel makes it taste a hell of a lot better than just plain green beans), mashed potatoes, rolls and I brought along something I've been meaning to try for a while: Field Roast. For my vegetarian friends out there, go ahead and give it a try. The Celebration Roast is very good and does not contain soy. I made a vegetarian gravy and basted it while heating and it was pretty tasty.

We are constantly aware of all the things we have to be thankful for...especially this year. Even though work is crazy for me these days (I mean, can barely leave my desk to go to the ladies' room crazy) and Steinvic is in Columbus more than we'd like, we're both lucky to have our jobs, health, home, family and each other. It's all worth it...

Friday, Young Man came for a visit, having spent Thanksgiving with his Mom. He joined us at our local and we had drinks, then we all came here for pizza and more visiting. Did we do any shopping on Friday, you ask? Steinvic went to the grocery for me, but that is as close as we got to shopping. Remember, I worked in retail for more than a decade, so the thought of being in a mall or in mall traffic or around people shopping does not appeal even a little bit. I stayed in all day Friday until we went out for drinks...yay! (Thank you, Steinvic!) And thank you for picking out this wonderful bone meant to keep Houdini busy...

And then there's yesterday...Young Man, Steinvic, Houdini and I did a pretty good job of chilling most of the day (sewing frenzy for me - hooray!) when Steinvic said something about golfing. I quickly found a course online and sent them on their way. I took the dog for a big walk then decorated our main floor for Christmas. It was just too nice of a day to waste indoors and I really wanted the two of them to go do something together. They brought home a tuna steak for me and regular steak for themselves and I grilled them on the patio...maybe one of the last decent days we'll have for that.

Now Young Man is on his way home, Houdini is looking for things to get into, and I'm feeling like I need to go do things, but don't feel like leaving the house! I can't believe how quickly this four-day weekend went, but it was all good.

I guess the Holiday Season is in full force now...especially since I've spent yesterday making Houdini a stocking, and all morning making him a Santa-style to come!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Our puppy discovered television today.

Big butterflies on the screen caught his eye. He perked up, ran for the screen and put his paws on the television stand.

He watched the butterflies flying and beating their wings and started barking.

Total cuteness. These are barks you don't hush, even if it is 6:30 a.m.

Fall has introduced Houdini to "free treats." Free treats are wet leaves, little sticks and debris on the ground.

Houdini grabs them when we let him outside. He runs for the door, wanting inside so he can enjoy his catch in the comfort of his home.

Leaves can't be good for dogs, so we take them, of course.

Right now, he is rolling on the floor, working on a chewy. We watched him enjoying one last night, lying on his back, using the leg of the coffee table to steady his toy while he chomped away.

There is nothing more calming - or entertaining - than having a dog. And we adore him.

But he still can't sit or stay. He steals things and we have to trick him to get whatever goody he's got away from him.

So, we're researching obedience schools. We don't want to use the local pet shop chain because we've read that they hire just about anyone to lead their classes instead of formally trained specialists. For the same money, there are a few independent places that offer one-on-one training, even in your home, and we're thinking that might be the way to go. Though Steinvic makes a good point - it would be good to have him interact with other dogs.

(Houdini does not like other dogs.)

We hope to find the right trainer soon. You Houdini can be even more awesome than he already is.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Too Quiet

I've been quiet.

I've been thinking. And talking. And everything is fine.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Auntie Em...Auntie Em...

I already know what it feels like...

The panic at the whiff of a tornado.

The sick sinking as you see it off in the distance, wondering if you'll make it to safety in time.

The desperate feeling as you tear through everything you ever knew, wondering if there will be anything left of your life when the tornado has passed.

The slap of reality when you can't make it to the storm shelter in time...

The bit of relief when the window pane caves beneath the pressure of the storm, smacking you in the back of the head so you can finally relax, even though that isn't what you wanted or intended...

I know what it feels like to not be in Kansas anymore. To be alone on a path that makes no sense and doesn't seem to have any resolution.

I've been alternately dancing and creeping along and picking at that journey my whole life.

Tonight, I'm looking at the long stretch of the yellow brick road and wondering if I have enough steam to keep navigating it.

I am having a tough time differentiating between what is a hazy illusion from a wispy, wizard image at the end of a long hall - not quite real - and what I feel in my gut. It's just not all clear.

I could stay right on this brick and shut the hell up.

But I'm clicking my heels and breathing.

And hoping.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Already...

What...did you think I'd disappeared? Eaten by a Halloween goblin? Of course not...Here I am!

Our anniversary was perfect. Steinvic and I both had to work, but we managed to have a nice date that night and a fantastic weekend.

There is a small, independent Italian restaurant not so far from us and we'd wanted to try it for some time. This was the right occasion...our first dinner together was at a great place in Las Vegas, and our wedding day celebration was at a fabulous restaurant in Columbus. So...keeping with tradition, we ventured out. We went to our local pub after and just enjoyed a night out together.

For our first anniversary, Steinvic gave me dishes. Don't cock your head at how practial that might seem. It's's romantic. This means something to me. I've been on this planet for forty years and I've never had a full set of matching dishes. And not just a few dishes...eight place settings. Dinner plates, salad plates, bowls and mugs. All matching. Not chipped. Artsy and earthy at the same time. I love them and they were the exactly right thing...we'll enjoy tons of family dinners on them. And it was liberating to pack all our old, mix-and-match dishes up and take them to Goodwill.

I framed a favorite wedding photo for Steinvic. And bought him and his son tickets to an upcoming concert I knew they'd enjoy. Because there is nothing my husband loves more in this world than spending time with his boy...easy decision and I know they're going to have a great time!

The next day, we were off work! Young Man and Girlfriend came to stay with us for the weekend. Steinvic reserved hotel rooms for us downtown, so we went to Rockbottom for dinner, Mt. Adams to drink and take in the Cincinnati skyline and then stayed comfortably downtown. Totally fun night and such a treat to make the kids part of our marriage celebration.

Busy week after that, and then another day off...but not such a fun day for Houdini. He got neutered on Friday. Fully recovered, though. Miraculously. Like it never happened, except he isn't trying to mate with us 24/7. AND, we had some electrical work done...much needed to say the least. I'll post photos is running out of juice, though.

And this Monday? Halloween. And Houdini wore this costume...fitting, don't you think?

So, that is the scoop! Highlights of the last few weeks. More soon, I promise...once I get this thing charged. (The charger died. I'm sharing chargers with Steinvic and he isn't here at the moment...)

Until then...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Anniversary

A year ago today, Steinvic and I got married in a tiny chapel in Columbus, and were accompanied by my parents and Steinvic’s Mom, Young Man and Young Man’s Girlfriend. It was windy, but sunny and clear...the leaves just starting to turn. Steinvic looked so handsome in his suit and tie...confident. It was a happy, fantastic, and wonderful day.

Our ceremony was short but meaningful, supported by years of love and long-distance commutes that still keep our union going. Our wedding was a celebration of a committment that was already there.

And the long-distance part and waiting was never difficult. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “I don’t know how you two do it. I could never do that.”

I never felt that way. The love has always been firmly in place, and when you’ve got that as your compass, everything else just falls in line. I miss Steinvic when he’s gone for work, but for once in my life, I’m secure. I know he’ll be back, and when he is, everything is fantastic.

So yes, there really are birds singing and crickets chirping and the sun shines every day and we’re skipping through tulips.

And while all that is happening, Steinvic occasionally secretly wishes that I’d stop telling the same stories over and again, and I marvel at how I’m the only person in the house who seems to remember to replace the toilet paper.

Because that is Life. But it’s LOVE that governs our world and keeps us immensely happy. And it is not hard at all to love each other.

I’ve learned a lot, this first year. I’ve learned that it’s good to give Steinvic his space and instead of pouting at him, encourage him to go watch football with the guys and that this is not just okay, but it’s healthy. (And while he is doing that, I’m doing things that I enjoy doing, like sewing or cooking and watching stuff on television that I know he doesn’t dig.) I think I’ve learned to be less selfish this year. And I have found new recipes beyond the five-dish menu (that served us well when we weren’t in the same house most of the time) and I’ve really gotten into finally beautifying our modest, yet comfortable, home.

And Steinvic has learned lots, too. Like that the little daily things - folding a load of laundry, emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash - make me insanely happy. (I’m like that…these are the things that shout, “I love you! You’re the greatest!” to me.) He discovered that he’s a great husband who is tremendously devoted to the point that he will kill giant spiders while I jump up and down, shrieking. He offers to do things that will make my life easier, like going to the grocery or marinating carrots for me. These are HUGE things for me because it means I have less stress, more quality time with him, or even just some me time. And, Steinvic also learned that what seems like a big concession can actually turn out to be a quite a blessing.

How we enjoy Houdini!

While I was living my life up to the point of finding Steinvic, nothing seemed clear to me. All the paths and twists and turns on my journey felt like a trip through a brier-filled, tangled, confused, dark, rainy forest. I had no sense of direction or even any wants any longer. I was just surviving. But after finding Steinvic, things started to come into focus, and I felt like this.

I’m so proud of our marriage. So much joy in just one year! I’m truly the luckiest girl in the world...

Happy Anniversary, Steinvic...and thank you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Slipping Away

Occasionally, we have friends or family over to stay. Whenever this happens, I go into a frenzied panic, trying to make our place better than it’s ever been.

I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say “friends and family understand that you and Steinvic both work full-time-plus jobs and that he’s gone a chunk of every week and that it’s tidy and sanitary so it doesn’t matter and they won’t mind if your closets are cluttered.”

Thank you. That is kind of you. But it doesn’t help my pride! My senses of pride and hospitality make me deeply desire a wonderful visiting experience for all of our guests. I can coast along with the status quo – clean kitchens and bathrooms, laundry done, floors swept and vacuumed – when it’s just Steinvic and I, but once you throw someone else into the mix, be it friend, family or repair person, I go nuts.

But nuts for me equals productive. It’s how I roll.

I once had the experience of buying new furniture. I left it – with most everything else I ever owned – where I used to stay. (It seemed a fair trade...I got to leave on my own accord, vertical instead of horizontal. To hell with new furniture and other material ties!) So, my sweet folks gave me their couch and loveseat when I set out on my own. I somewhat expertly recovered it with remnants I found at a fabric store. But then I had a kitty who thought this furniture was for claw sharpening. While she passed away several years ago, her artwork remains. I’ve trimmed and tucked the stray bits and strings here and there, the couch and sofa embarrassed me. (And we for some reason didn't think we needed to keep Steinvic's couch and sofa when he moved to Cincinnati. I don't know why! They were pretty! But didn't really match our decor...I guess that was why.)

No one who has visited has ever given our furniture the side-eye, but I do. And I’ve hunted for slipcovers, but since we got Houdini, they didn’t seem like a good option, since many have little ties or strings. These would be dog toys for him…I can envision him pulling on them over and over, yanking away like he does to us with his pull toys. Also, slipcovers can be really hideous and expensive.

But, as I discovered this week, they can also be quite lovely and fit nicely. And when accented by a few cushions, not bad at all. (Pardon the tags…I left them on so Steinvic could give the thumbs up first.)

I found these at Old Time Pottery for about a third of what they cost everywhere else. The pillows were a perfect match, too. Total bill - $100.

What do you think? Thumbs up? The rest of this mini-makeover resumes tonight…stay tuned.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy This…

I don’t get it. I could be stupid. If I am, please set me straight. I really do want to understand this...

After seeing the Occupy Wall Street movement in the news for several weeks, I finally decided to look up their website to see what this is all about.

While there are some declarations on the site that I seem to agree with, I’m not really getting the point of the demonstrations. (Technically, I'm a 1%er, too. Which makes me wonder why the celebrities are coming out to they make less than $250,000 per year? I think not...)

What exactly is it that these protesters want Wall Street executives to do?

Whether it's a business or a club, I think every good organization has a mission statement and specific goals. I’m not saying it has to be something carved on a plaque that every member memorizes and can recite at a moment’s notice. But if you’re going to take time off work, leave your home and go protest something, shouldn’t there be a specific, desired end result?

If it’s just to increase awareness, and that is the goal, then it’s a single one time event, right? Not an indefinite stay. You organize the event carefully, raise any necessary funds, communicate about it, have the event, then take the funds you raise to do whatever it was you set out to do in the first place.

I saw a link on the site for monetary donations to be sent because the protesters are running low on food. Wait. You are low on food because you aren’t at your house. There is probably food at your house. You should go there. If you want money to help people who really need food and resources because they have no means to get it, I’ll totally help you out. But if you’ve essentially put your own self into a situation where you have no food or resources, it further makes me doubt the sensibility behind this “movement.”

Plan ahead. Pack some protein bars and fruit and nuts and water and vitamins and toilet paper. Make sure you bring enough to share. But please don’t ask for donations when you don’t have a plan and I don’t know where the money is going, how it’s going to be distributed, who is in charge of the funds and how they’re going to be accounted for later on.

While you gaze up at those pesky (yes, likely overpaid and opulently-living, but also hard-working and enterprising) business executives in their beautiful Wall Street buildings, think about the innovation and careful planning that went into each one of those businesses. And then know...apply some of that planning to your movement.

You’re asking America to “look down and take notice.” I'm looking, but I'm not noticing. Decide what it is that you want Wall Street – and me – to see or do and then get my attention. Please. Thank you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So Far, I'm Not Full of It...

Monday, eight miles on the recumbent stationary bike.

Tuesday, eight miles on the recumbent stationary bike.

Wednesday, five miles on the recumbent stationary bike. (I would have done more, but it was getting late and I wanted to make time to iron some shirts for Steinvic. Not that he wanted me to or that he'd have cared if I didn't, but when he's gone, I like to do things to help him out. Makes me feel closer somehow and miss him just a tiny bit less. By the way, Houdini is wonderful in many ways but he is NOT a good helper on ironing. Cute, though...very, very cute.)

I'd be walking and walking Houdini, too, but it's been raining. Houdini does not like wet paws. I know, right? We've already been shopping for boots for His Majesty for when the snow hits. THAT should be interesting.

I'm sticking to the morning smoothie, mixing it up a little with different fruits and yogurts that Steinvic picked up last weekend.

Light lunches. Light dinners. Stretching and moving a little more at work.

And you know something? I pulled on a pair of jeans last weekend, one size smaller. They were snug, but they fit and weren't so tight that I looked foolish or couldn't wear them.

It's progress. Slow, steady, progress, but enough to encourage me to not slack.

Here's to keeping promises, especially the ones that you make to yourself...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Patti Stanger is an Idiot.

When Millionaire Matchmaker first came out, I watched it peripherally, wondering how anyone wealthy would sign up for Patti’s services, much less want to be featured and humiliated on her show.

From the insulting suggestions she makes to date candidates, to the way she clearly delights in cutting down the millionaires she’s supposed to be helping, Ms. Stanger has never been appealing. In fact, the very way she reviews potential clients at the beginning of her show implies that people should feel lucky if she “accepts” them into her Millionaire’s Club.

Lucky. Like, rule #1 of providing good customer service is making your customers feel special, right? Not that they’re fortunate?

I have been reading about how Ms. Stanger opened her botox-riddled face to comment on “the gays” on Andy Cohen’s show on Sunday. One more reason to not like her. As if we needed more!

I think she’s probably lost a lot of viewers over this and maybe even a few of her “gay friends” (or Jewish friends, since she took a swipe at Jewish men, too.)

In my experience, people who have to point out that they’re friends with folks in different race/sexual orientation/monetary groups than themselves usually have some kind of guilt they’re trying to cover. It’s like Archie Bunker saying he has black friends. That makes all the rest of the bigotry and prejudice okay, right?


Boycott Patti Stanger’s show. Let’s hope Bravo cancels it. What a douche.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Get It Together

So, I spent the summer not doing what I needed to do to get fit, feel healthier and look better.

I didn’t do it.

I did whatever the hell I wanted, eating whenever or whatever (which still isn’t as “bad” as what most folks typically eat), drinking when I felt like it and - most importantly - not exercising every day or even most days.

Some days, but not regularly.

I’ve been reading and I’ve been researching and I am back on board. Again.

It’s much more simple this time. And simple seems to work best for me:

Before work, I am taking the time to make a smoothie in the morning with unsweetened organic coconut or almond milk, a scoop of whey protein, a banana and a little strawberry yogurt. In the vintage blender my Grandma gave me, which somehow makes it taste better.

During the work day, I’m getting up at least once an hour at work and going somewhere in the building. I am moving because sitting is killing me. I am breathing deeply and preventing my posture from sucking.

I am packing baggies of vegetables to eat. Cucumbers, carrots, celery. Washington apples. Tablespoons of unsweetened organic peanut butter* to spread lightly on whole wheat crackers if I am starving. But just little bits of this and that. Small amounts of goodness to fuel me as I need it. I’m not on a schedule any more.

And then the evenings…the evenings will have a big walk or a bike ride in them. Not stressing any more about “when” it happens…I used to break my neck to get that bike ride in before 7:00 p.m. because someone once told me I had to have my exercise over by then or I wouldn’t sleep well. To hell with that. If I want to ride my bike while I watch a movie or show between 7 and 8:00, that is what I’m going to do. If Houdini wants to go for a W at 8:15, we will go. The sleep will work itself out. I can't believe how many good, nonstressed workouts I missed because I tried to follow the 7 p.m. rule. Dumb!

Drinking only a lovely glass of wine or two if I feel like it. Eating a typical meal…which is almost always healthy and homemade for us. Lots of water…not forcing it but drinking it when I’m thirsty.

Not stressing it and pushing this new norm on the weekends. Not abandoning the new norm, but not beating myself up if we have pizza one night or I have some cocktails with Steinvic.

Herbal teas. Foods and drinks that smell dark and earthy. (I am on a quest to find figs. I crave them. I need to find out what the main nutrients are in them to see what I’m missing because I borderline obsess over them, and not the Fig Newton kind...the little, fresh hard-to-get kind.)Good things that make sense.

I’m doing this because it’s time. And I feel better already.

*So, while label-reading, I learned that even in the sacred organic aisles, horrors can lurk. You’re buying peanut butter. It should be…peanuts mashed up, right? So, why did every brand but one have tons of other ingredients?

Friday, September 16, 2011

"If In Doubt..."

"...don't." This is a wise bit of advice my precious Grandma gave me and reminded me of throughout my formative years.

I have to admit that any time I didn't apply that bit of wisdom to my decision making, I regretted it horribly and found myself in a bad way.

So...when I see the headline that Scarlett Johansson is among the other unfortunate women who have taken nude photos of themselves with their phones and had their accounts hacked, I find myself wishing that they had someone in their lives who loved them as much as my Grandma loved me.

I mean seriously...what did I miss? When did it become a good idea to snap photos of yourself naked, and save them to your phone and carry that phone around with you? Like...would you carry your diary around with you? Noooope! (Chuck Testa!) You would not. You'd hide it because it had private thoughts and feelings in it that you didn't want anyone to read or know. And those are just words! Don't you think nekkid pictures would be more private than a diary? I would! And I wouldn't be carrying them around with me...on my phone! A phone that could get stolen or lost! A phone that has a network attached to it. No!

And before you snark something like, "If you had a body like Scarlett Johansson's, you might understand," let me explain...

It isn't just Scarlett or Vannessa or Rihanna. It's apparently all kinds of young people...heck, older people, too...guys and girls, men and women...they've all lost their minds! What on Earth compells someone to do this?

I'm totally not a prude. I honestly don't care about nudity...if you want to be naked and take little freaky photos and have the whole world see you and your goods, rock on. That's totally your business. (Literally...ha!)

BUT! If you take a photo of yourself on your cell phone and it ends up getting out there for the whole world to see, you're not allowed to complain about it.

If you're in high school, and your boyfriend begs you for an intimate shot and you cave, BOOM! You've probably just porned yourself. That's right, I just made porn a verb. You've porned yourself and at some point, that silly boy is going to show his friends your private parts or forward it to someone else or post it online and then there you are. You're going to break up with that dude and you won't be able to get those pictures back and where does that leave you? Embarrased, ashamed, regretful...and naked. For everyone. Which isn't what you intended, but it happened anyhow.

If in doubt, Scarlett...if in doubt, ladies and gentlemen...don't. Think beyond five minutes from now. Those thoughts will be a good investment.

(It's so scandalous every time it happens to someone famous that I can't help but to think celebrities WANT this kind of attention. By now, if I were famous and it happened to one of my celebrity colleagues, the first thing I'd do is run home and delete any of the images I may have unfortunately and foolishly taken of myself.)

By the way, the other thing that my Grandma used to say to me when I was lamenting over not being like everyone else/doing what everyone else was doing was, "Don't be common."

Damn, I miss her.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Do You Live in D.C.? Watch For Sassafras!

I saw this story online this morning and thought I'd share it, just in case there is anyone reading this blog who lives in the Washington D.C. area.

And...also because it is heartwarming how devoted this family is to Sassafras. Reading how the community is chipping in to help find a lost pup is really moving.

Enjoy...and please send good wishes to Sassafras and her humans!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not All Fruits & Veggies Are Safe for Dogs!!!

I am totally stupid.

When we got Houdini, I already knew we’d give baby carrots as treats. A friend did that with her dog in college and I was impressed by how white her dog’s chompers were. We have other friends and families who do this so we followed suit. Houdini loved them at first, then got bored with carrots and so I quit buying them.

But since I’m a pescetarian – and Steinvic thankfully eats anything I prepare – there are lots of vegetables in our house at all times. In fact, I probably really only eat fish once a week, then the rest of the time it’s Veggie City.

So, whenever I labor at the cutting board, if Houdini begged for a bite of whatever I was chopping, I’d toss it down to him. We don’t really give him lots of table food…he gets a plain piece of pasta or a few bits of cooked bacon here and there, but veggies and fruits we felt good about, because they’re natural and unprocessed and Houdini could encounter these items in nature and eat them.

Boy, was I wrong.

Two of the cute, compact foods that we give Houdini regularly are toxic to dogs: grapes and tomatoes.

Who knew? We sure didn’t! And if the chatty bagger at the grocery hadn’t informed me of this yesterday, oh so casually (because she and the cashier were marveling at the grapes I bought, and I mentioned that our dog would be thrilled,) I’d have never googled it and we’d still continue to give Houdini all the grapes and tomatoes he wanted.

And he would probably have died.

And then what would we have done? Life without Houdini? And life without Houdini because we fed him something that harmed him?

THANK GOODNESS for the bagger at the grocery store! I feel so dumb…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

If It Ain't Broke...

I just saw the trailer for the remake of Footloose. One word:


And now some more words about it;

I don’t get it. At the time that Footloose came out, musicals had made a bit of a resurgence and soundtracks for films dominated the music charts and our lives. Saturday Night Fever, Annie, Fame, Stayin’ Alive, Grease, The Wiz, Tommy…just to name a few.

My soundtrack to junior high school included Purple Rain and Footloose. Good times. I can remember making up dance routines to songs with friends and buying those lyric magazines (remember those, J?) and learning the words to every pop song on the radio.

It was a musical time that was becoming visual. MTV still played music videos all the time and the marriage of miniature stories with music was ideal. The videos weren’t always even that good, but you got to see the band, a little of their attitude and hear some good songs. It stood to reason that a movie jammed with pop music worked - it was like seeing an hour and a half long music video.

And of course, the story of Wren McCormick just trying to have a little fun in a repressed, sleepy, danceless town was enough to get teenagers into the theaters and out buying Footloose cassettes. (yeah, I think I still have mine…) It did not hurt that Kevin Bacon was terribly cute and a great dancer. All of the elements of the classic, perfect musical were right there – song, love, rebellion, conflict and a happy ending.

So…28 years later, Hollywood thinks it can remake this story and it will resonate with today’s teens? Kids today do pretty much whatever they want to do! They wouldn’t go through the trouble of organizing a secret dance across county lines. They wouldn’t care so much about what their parents thought. Kids grew out of rules and lying about secret dances in the 90s when Raves were all the rage.

Today, kids would hop online, find out where the party’s at and just go. They may or may not tell their parents where they were going. I’m not bashing kids of today, but they are WAY more independent (this is good and bad) than they were in the 80s when this movie was created.

My point – today’s kids don’t need to be encouraged to think independently or to rebel...they do it naturally. I don’t mean to sound like an old fogey, and I haven’t seen the whole movie obviously, but unless there are some major twists to the rest of the plot, I’m not getting how it’s relevant today.

Also, not to blast…Julianne Hough is lovely, but she looks like she could be Kenny Wormald’s (who?) very young-former-teenaged-mom or way older sister in a family where Kenny was a menopause baby. Kinda creepy. I know she's only 23, but dang.

The only thing worse than this remake is if they’d done a sequel where Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer are now adults with children who are rebellious in some other scenario, or if they portrayed parents trying to convince the PTA in some other small town to have a dance.

Let’s stop with the remakes, ‘kay?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

As Close to Flying As I'll Get

I have a good walk in the morning, from my car through the huge parking lot to the entrance of the building that houses my lovely job. I don't get there as early as I used to, which makes my walk even longer, since thousands of people work in my building.

I don't mind.

I busy myself, usually fiddling with my iPod while peripherally minding the traffic.

I’m still aware of what is around me, but even if I notice someone I recognize nearby, I’m likely to appear too distracted call over to them. My little walk through the lot is my time.

There are geese – and I mean to say tons of them – who gather around the perimeter of the parking lot. Our lot used to be their home. They still try to make it so every Spring and they stay around through Fall, sometimes poking at the ground even after the first frost. The geese are completely unfriendly and territorial. They are also consistent and loyal.

For the last two qualities, I love those vicious, primitive, elegant, gray geese.

I actually have a little thing about birds in general. I love to see them fly. I am fascinated by them… not enough to study them, but enough to pay attention to them. Blackbirds flocking up and back in their cryptic formations; tiny yellow finches darting in and out of our trees; electric hummingbirds vibrating around a red, globed feeder at our family’s place in Arizona. And I really like when the giant bone-pickers (the large, predatory birds who manage road-kill) circle the highway as I travel along, so I can see their huge wingspans as they float above.

This morning, it was unusually quiet as I walked in, and far off, I could hear a flock of geese approaching. Soon, they were nearly overhead, and as they passed right in front of me, just five feet above my height, they stopped honking for about three seconds.

And in that moment, all I could hear in the world was the thick, lush sound of their enormous wings. It was magnificent.

I felt a lump in my throat and an involuntarily sad-happy smile…the kind you get when something is just so…haltingly beautiful…here and then gone. I felt wistful. Thankful.

I hope I hear that sound again someday. I can still hear it, but...

The beating of wings.

(I know, I’m a sap.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Justice on the Brain

Random thoughts from the week...

OF COURSE Casey Anthony could not serve probation while she was in jail... I mean, isn't probation where you have the opportunity to mess up again but don't because The System has "rehabilitated" you? C' can you write bad checks again from behind bars?

And speaking of justice...yes, Casey should have to pay money back to the State of Florida since she admittedly LIED to the police and sent everyone on a wild chase searching for her daughter, when she knew her daughter was dead the entire time.

I do not agree with people who are bashing Cindy and George Anthony for doing an interview. If they'd like to have their thoughts and feelings known, they are entitled to it. They've been through hell and vilified by so might be cathartic for them to have the chance to speak uninterrupted. I do not, however, understand why they'd have Dr. Phil conduct the interview. Dr. Phil doesn't lend to their credibility and I doubt he's doing it out of some humanitarian motivation...he is likely looking for ratings. I'd rather see someone of substance interview them and have it be more...factual with some emotional than sensational, which is what it will be if Dr. P does it.

If you're curious about the documentaries on the West Memphis Three that helped them navigate through eighteen years of false imprisonment, HBO is running the first two documentaries this week. Check your local listings for times, or you can see them On Demand today through the 30th. Wherever Damien, Jason and Jessie are right now, I hope they're getting rest, sunshine, massages, good food and finding sound counsel. I can't even imagine...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just a Little Bit…

In 1993, I was a little self-absorbed.

My parents were still involved in a bitter, heated divorce; I was working two or three jobs at a time; and I was struggling to complete college, having just been kicked out of the house because my Mom and I were really, really, really not getting along.

So, when three teenagers were convicted of killing three children in West Memphis, Arkansas, I can remember it happening, but I didn't follow it. I was too far into crisis mode to think of anyone but me.

But three years later when Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills was released, I was in more of a position to pay attention. And I did pay attention. I didn't have a choice.

The day after I saw it, I felt that strange feeling you get after having a really bad dream…that strange, uneven feeling that follows you around all day. You can’t put your finger on it, but something isn’t right. You can’t stop thinking about it. You find yourself reflecting on little bits of it, even when you don’t want to.

I thought, “Am I being gullible? Is there any way on Earth that these teenagers could have done this?” And I realized that no…while I didn’t know all the details, I was certain in my gut that Damien Echols, Jessie Miskelly and Jason Baldwin were innocent. Certain of it. And I chose to go with it. They're innocent. The second documentary only laced things up more tightly for me.

Over the years, I’d read online and follow the case and in time, I began praying for the West Memphis Three’s release, and praying for justice in the form of the real guilty persons' capture and prosecution.

Today, Jason, Jessie and Damien are free. Thank You, G*d, thank You for listening. I cried, just a little bit. Not a big, sobbing, co-workers-can-hear-you cry, but a few good old-fashioned, quiet, big tears as I read and watched the ruling unfold today. I can’t imagine…

It occurs to me, reading and watching today, that they’ve not only been in prison half their lives, but I’ve been following their case for nearly half of mine. Where early footage shows their faces still holding baby fat and obvious youth, today’s footage shows three, extremely tired, thirty-something men who look like they’ve been to war.

In a way, they have.

But tonight, as they’re able to enjoy the hugs of family and friends, the love they’ve been starving to feel for years, the comforts of home like shower and soft bed and familiar clothes, food that isn’t served on a metal tray…silence. Tonight they can begin to explore the next portion of their lives, one that I’m certain will be full of purpose and meaning.

There is no silver lining, but when you look at those boys and the oppressive nature of the town and limited resources of where they grew up, chances are, they’d have gotten jobs locally and lived pretty normal lives working normal jobs, perhaps getting married or having kids. Instead they are each in positions where they can make a difference. I see Damien and Jason advocating forever, working to help others who have been falsely accused. Damien will pursue his art. Maybe he and Lorri can start a family of their own now. And Jason…he’ll be a good lawyer. He’ll really help the underdogs and he’ll be fantastic and passionate in his work. And Jessie? I just hope he can enjoy the little things. No matter what he does, he will work hard and be grateful every day. He will still need a little help and guidance, but he’ll be alright.

Everything will be alright, because I really do think that these boys will also do what they can to see that the real criminals are found and captured. I'm counting on the rest of my prayer coming true, too.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Once upon a time, I was in the “gifted program.” I always thought that was a big bunch of crap because while I know I was a bright and creative kid, I don’t think I was anything exceptional. I do think that I had the advantage early on of a stay-at-home mom who’d been an educator and who taught me how to read very early on. I also had a big sister who was three years older and “played school” with me non-stop. So…I’d say more than gifted, I was just very prepared.

This became more evident to me as I got older. In junior high, the gifted kids were all freaking brainiacs. A pair of twins, who were Japanese, had a strict father who conducted classes all summer long. (They also weren’t allowed to do anything fun, like go to dances, which I thought sucked.) They’d leave on the last day of school each year, lugging loads of books too heavy for their lanky, pre-teen arms. There were a few others who stand out in my mind…they’d been in the enrichment classes with me in elementary school and we’d all known each other since kindergarten. But junior high was a blending of a few elementary schools, and the kids from the other elementary school were very competitive and extremely academic.

And I was a dunce when it came to advanced math. Addition, yes. Subtraction, okie-dokie. Multiplication and division, gotcha. But if you start putting numbers and letters together, I figure you’re just trying to mess with me. And if someone intentionally messes with me, one of two things seems to happen: I either adopt an air of indifference and completely dismiss the person or I become extremely and obviously pissed.

When you’re a child and in school, indifference is the better choice.

For example, when I read things or saw charts that were ridiculously difficult, I’d check out. I figured those materials were not for me. If they were for me, they wouldn’t be pretentious and unnecessarily complicated. For example, in college, I never got through a leisure read of Gravity’s Rainbow because at the time, it felt impossible to read. (I may try it again one day soon, but at the time, I thought, what the hell?)

So, when I saw all that algebraic stuff on the board, I’d check out. Sure, I’d have my pencil poised above the paper, I’d be looking at the teacher, I’d nod and seemingly follow along in the textbook. But in my mind, I was thinking about Duran Duran or wondering if my skin would ever clear up. I had no idea what the teachers were saying. Their words were foreign to me.

We had “gifted English” right before “gifted math.” Math was in the same room as English. And I was one of two “gifted” people who didn’t make it into gifted Math…me and the poor, truly gifted kid with severe behavioral and social disorders.

Every day, when the bell rang, the hoodlum and I had to get up and slink out of the room because we weren’t good at math.

I remember one of the students saying something snide to my mathematically deficient counterpart’s back about being a loser one day when we were leaving the room. I shot a look over my shoulder and someone said, “Oh! I didn’t mean you!” followed by giggles of embarrassment, but I knew the truth.

The thing is, I knew who I was then and I know who I am now. Even though I err on the side of self-depreciation, I know my strengths as well as my weaknesses.

So, when I was asked at work today to write on a project that is way out of my league, I gave it a try. I tried not to think about the hold advanced numbers have had on me or how math courses contributed to a very average GPA my whole academic career…reflecting points much lower than I think I’d otherwise have earned.

After three hours of truly trying to explain terms that I’ve never even heard of, after four trips into my supervisor’s office, after 45 minutes on, after my shoulder became stiff and I had a lump in my throat, I threw in the towel.

Someone on the other end of my email may have snickered and said, “Loser,” under their breath, but I don’t give a damn.

I am not a quitter, but I asked for someone else to draft the information and I volunteered to edit it. I can’t write it. It’s not what I do.

What I can do is edit it into a format that will allow other people, like myself, understand the advanced concepts by curling them into shapes that they’ll recognize.

But for today, I’m shaking it off. I know what I’m good at. I know what I want to invest my time in.

I’m giving myself an A for effort.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Didn't Get A Part...

...but maybe I did get my foot in the door.

So, I auditioned for the show I mentioned the other week. It was my first audition in more than 20 years and I wasn't expecting a lead, but I hoped to get the experience of reading for a lead.

But that isn't how things work when you've got an experienced director with a strong personality and a sense for who he already wants to cast in the main roles. However, it's his show, and these auditions weren't about me getting a practice run at future audition attempts. So, I didn't even really have a chance to try, but that is OK.

Here is how it broke down:
Auditions were Sunday and Monday, and I opted for Monday because we were so busy this weekend. If I'd been smart and thought about it, I'd have gone on Sunday because it was clear to me that he had the two female leads picked out from that night's auditions. How do I know? Because there were about six ladies - including me - who showed up Monday night and none of us got to read for the lead roles.

So, I got there a little early, and had a nice chat with one of the producers, who turned out to be a board member for the theater association and I mentioned that even if I didn't get a role, I'd like to be on set crew or help out backstage. And I meant that...I'm really interested in getting involved.

I was the first to read, and it was for a small but significant role. The character is odd and kind of sets the tone for the production. And, the character requires an accent, according to the director's vision of her, which I know that I could not do unless I had practice time. There was no practice time nor was there a practice place. I didn't even attempt to do one when I read...I just read the character strong and stern as I heard her in my head in the way I envisioned her - just without the accent.

But the next woman who read for it was about 15 years older than I am and robust and loud and nailed the accent. I thought, "Check!"

Then the other side the director handed me I didn't get to read for because yet another robust woman with a loud voice and accent was called up first and killed it. I mean she IS that character, probably in her personal life, or else she is a damn fine actress who should be on Broadway. I mean, for a "cold read," she sounded more like she'd either played the part before or memorized the script and rehearsed it...and if she did, kudos to her! She was off the page and everything.

And with that, we were dismissed.

And then I got my, " sorry, but..." email from the director a few hours later. And the aside that maybe some backstage opportunities would be available if I was interested. I replied and said I definitely was.

So, no part for me, BUT I am still happy I did it. Guts! I will try out again and I hope I get to contribute to this show somehow. This just wasn't my play. I'm not a character actor. I can act. I'm not like Shakespeare or Oscar quality or anything, but I can act. And there is a production out there for me. I just have to find it.

And meanwhile, maybe they can let me give them a hand on this show... I'll let you know!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Big Post

So much has happened in the last week…time to get caught up!

Especially…my 40th birthday extravaganza with Steinvic and Paul Mc Cartney! Who cares if there were 40,000 people there along with us?! But first, Steinvic and I headed downtown midday and checked into our hotel room.

He'd reserved a junior suite and it was so fantastic. Flowers. Champagne. Chocolate covered strawberries. Lovely and luxurious!

We went to Rock Bottom for a very late lunch/very early dinner. Warning: do not get the nachos unless you bring lots of friends with you! Good golly… we each ate only about a corner’s worth because we didn’t know how big they’d be and we’d ordered actual lunch, too. But it was a nice meal and once we were through there, we headed to Macy’s to spend our gift certificates we'd received for our birthdays.

After some shopping, we headed back to our room for drinks, relaxing and then getting gussied up to go to the show!

And WOW…how amazing were our seats?! We were in row P on the floor level of the Great American Ballpark. This was the first concert the Cincinnati Reds has hosted and it was a huge success. The place was packed and everything still ran smoothly.

You can read more about the concert and see a slide show here. Words can’t describe how unreal getting to go to that concert was…enjoyed every minute, knew every song, and were surrounded by happy music lovers of all ages. We had a blast, and Paul Mc Cartney is fabulous and his voice is just as clear and strong as ever (and please, quit being surprised by this, people! He is ONLY 70!) I loved the David Bowie concert that was our first date in Ohio, and I loved the Arizona U2 concert when we got engaged...both were awesome and unforgettable sentimental and wonderful. But I will definitely remember and hold dear this concert for my entire life, especially all the time, effort, love and thoughtfulness that Steinvic put into making it happen.

The next day, we headed out to pick up Houdini (this is what I’m calling our Pup here now, since we discovered that he is able to escape his gate without disturbing it...we've since figured it out, but it's still fun to call him that...) on Friday, which I had off, thanks to Steinvic! Houdini stayed at my folks’ for the night, so when we left there, they followed us home with an awesome butcher block table that they didn’t need.

We got that all set up and then worked on house things Saturday and Sunday, and bought chairs to match the table at IKEA

Have you ever been to IKEA? It’s neat, but it’s not a quick get in/buy stuff/leave experience, even if you want it to be. But, we got great chairs for $40 each (thanks to my folks...birthday gift from them!) and trust me when I say, we’ve been chair-shopping for a while and even the simplest chairs ain’t cheap, so we were thrilled to get these so reasonably. So, we’re set. We have a table and chairs that are lovely and our house is ready for our guests who will arrive this evening.

Audition tonight...will post about that tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Forty is Nicer Than I Thought it Might Be…

Steinvic has done a phenomenal job of making my birthday special, even though he has to be away this evening for work. I woke to the sounds of The Beatles singing “Birthday,” because he’d bought (and set up while I slept) an awesome iPod alarm clock! He had the songs all set up for this morning and it was a sweet and special way to start this milestone birthday.

I went into the bathroom and there was my Paul McCartney Sgt. Pepper doll on the counter, holding an envelope with Paul McCartney on the outside…and inside two tickets to his upcoming concert! And an explanation that we’d be staying at a favorite hotel downtown the night of the show. And a gift certificate to Macy’s and an iTunes card to load up some more McCartney onto my iPod and a hilarious Hoops and YoYo (love those guys!) card…I was completely floored. I was, in fact, so excited (and perhaps a little hung over from last night’s drinks at our local) that maybe Steinvic isn’t aware of the full extent of my joy, even though I thanked and thanked him…(Thank you, baby!)

And to top it off, Steinvic sent two dozen of the most beautiful roses…pink with red tips. I’ve never seen anything like them before and they smell heavenly…

I am spoiled.

It’s been a birthday full of music so far.

Every four years, birthdays mean a stop at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and today is one of those birthdays for me. The closest BMV to work is in a very urban, slightly rough area. I pulled into the lot and thought better of leaving my iPod in the car, even though I knew I’d only be a moment, because I didn’t want it to get stolen. (I rarely do this anywhere anyway, unless I can hide it under something.)

I walked in and there wasn’t much of a wait. A couple thuggish-looking guys were sitting in the window chairs. A couple was being waited on at the counter, and a few other folks were ahead of me, already being helped, too. It was very quiet and surprisingly not too crowded.

And suddenly, loud and clear, from the depths of my purse…”Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey, yeeeeah…I wanna shoop, baby, shoop…Ooo! How you doin’, baby?” Yep, Salt n’ Pepper’s “Shoop” sang out from my iPod, which I must have jostled as I’d removed my wallet.

So here is this very square-looking, business-dressed, mortified white (quickly turning red) chick in the BMV, scrambling to shut off the Shoop song that had everyone in the place looking at me. And of course, I couldn’t get it to shut off. I was pressing the top button and the home button and the song just kept playing. “Oh my goodness…Shoop ba doop ba doop ba doop…”

Finally, silence. A white-haired clerk stared at me from behind the desk as her printer was generating something, and shook her head slightly in disapproval.

And then, the male portion of the couple at the desk begins singing the song. Over and over.

I think they were probably happy to see me leave. Everyone probably thought that was my ring tone on my phone.

Of course, when I pull out of the BMV lot, new license in hand, I plug in my iPod and that song is still on…before I can hit next (I had it on shuffle), I notice that walking right by my car is the guy who was singing, and he starts singing it again.

So embarrassed…he probably thinks that is my favorite song. (I swear, it’s not!) One of the reasons I do like it, though, is this bit by Ellen…every time I hear the actual song, I think of this skit and it makes me smile. Hope it makes you smile today, too! Lots of things to smile about...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Love Zappos

I love Zappos. And let me tell you why.

I ordered two pairs of spiffy Clarks through Zappos for Steinvic as part of his birthday present. He really needed good shoes.

One of the pair were sandals…the slip-on kind. He doesn’t own any and it’s been so hella hot here, I thought this would be a great option for him so his feet would be nice and cool when we’re chillin’.

Sadly, the suckers slipped right off as he walked. He had to kind of flex his foot as he wore them to keep them on and we all know (those of us who wear slip-on shoes, that is) that foot flexin’ is the best way to get to achy feet and calves.

So I put in for a return and found him a pair that had an ankle strappy thing so they’d stay on and be more comfortable.

When I did the return, there was a comments section, like…were you displeased with us/could we have done something better to help and I said something like, “No way! You guys rock and the sandals were beautiful. They just didn’t stay on my husband’s feet and I’m now ordering a different style. Thanks for the free return shipping!”

That night, I checked online to see the order status for the new sandals and I had an email from Zappos. It basically said, “We’ve got a surprise for you…we’ve upgraded you to overnight shipping! For free. You’ll get your shoes tomorrow! Hope this makes your day.”

Indeed! So, I replied to the email to say thank you for that…and then I thought…maybe this is one of those "do not reply notifications." But I nosed around and it didn’t seem to be…didn’t say that anywhere.

So, I said something like, “Thank you so much for upgrading our shipping. We already enjoy shopping with Zappos! I’ve served customers all my life and seeing great attention like this is really impressive. Thank you again!”

I didn’t expect a reply at all. I just wanted them to know that we really appreciated their thoughtfulness.

But five minutes later, I had the nicest reply that said our account had been upgraded to VIP status and that from now on, we’d get free next business day delivery and priority returns.

Wow. How do you like that?

Zappos, you’re doing a fine job and I hope you keep it up! We will shop your site first for clothes, shoes, beauty and housewares going forward!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm Gonna Try...

So, you know I’ve been having this kind of crisis where I know I need to get busy and be creative and do some of the things I enjoy doing before I fizzle out.

I dream about it, I think about it, I talk about it.

And now I am going to attempt to try to do something about it.

Long ago, in a land far away, I used to be an Honor Thespian. I was in talent shows and plays all the time in grade school and in high school, I was in every musical and student choreographed a few of them. I was in show choir. I was in flag corps (you may call it color guard in your neck of the woods) and was even captain my senior year. I still worked a part time job, but in my own time, I sang. I danced. I was on stage. I was busy and fulfilled and LOVED IT ALL.

And then I had to grow up super-fast, like you do when you graduate from high school and your dad decides to split a few days after you graduate, and your family has no money, and everyone is nuts and there is no fund for college but your mother (trying desperately to hold it together) insists that you go. So you work a couple (or three) jobs and you get busy. You dig in and you get shit done.

So…yeah…I got super-serious, super-fast. I also got sort of angry, but didn’t have time to deal with it. For the most part, it’s been all business ever since. (Until I met Steinvic, of course, and my life improved dramatically and I remembered a lot about having fun.)

When I was still in college and went back to my high school to student teach, my mentor said, “What happened to you? You were this friendly but shy girl who would turn five shades of red when I called on you in class. Now you’re so…grown up…” I understood that it wasn’t a criticism, but he was right. I had changed. I had changed in three years what it took a lot of people I know ten years to accomplish. And I did it the hard way.

Real life will do that to you.

But I am beginning to understand that I don’t have to let it.

I found a play that will be put on by a community theater and I’m interested in trying out. I know they have a stable of excellent regular players and that the chance I’ll get in is small…especially because the play doesn’t have a lot of roles, but I’m still going to try.

If I don’t make it, maybe they’ll let me work on the set crew or something.

But I’ll be around the kind of people I so enjoyed long ago.

Plus, Steinvic is probably going to be gone more than ever for a while, as someone in his Columbus office will be out, and they’ll need his presence more frequently. It totally sucks, but we’re still lucky that he is able to mostly work from here, so we can’t complain about it.

But, if he won’t be around anyway, I won’t feel like I’m taking time away from us, you know?

Auditions are in a little less than two weeks. I am hopeful that this is the start of something good!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby...

Today is Steinvic's birthday.

And while I've been asked to keep the celebration low key this year, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to publicly wish him a wonderful birthday.

Why do I like to make such a big deal of it? Because it is my favorite day to celebrate...

What a magnificent world I live in because he was born!

We began celebrating a little yesterday. Pup bought him a lovely pair of RayBan Wayfarers and couldn't wait until today to give them to him. I made a giant, Dutch apple pie from scratch and it turned out really well (and I can't bake or follow a recipe to save my life, so big accomplishment!) so if you're interested in the recipe, here it is.

And we will finish celebrating after work today. I'm making a special meal, we'll go out for cocktails, and open presents from me later on.

Raise your glass and toast to Steinvic with me! It's a truly beautiful day...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

RIP, Amy...

While I don't know the words to every song she ever sang, I sure have enjoyed listening to Amy Winehouse.

I enjoyed her distinctive look and voice so much, I dressed like her for Halloween last year. (Everyone thought Steinvic and I were Elvis and older crowd who wouldn't have considered Amy Winehouse as a first option, but once I said her name and "Rehab," they all knew and noted the differences...primarily the excessive temporary tattoos I'd applied.)

I've stayed tuned hoping she'd stay clean and sober. I am sad and disappointed that she couldn't do it, and that her chances to try have run out.

Rest in peace, Amy. Know that you're already missed. I'll always wonder who you would have become had you made it past this hurdle, but it will always be easy to appreciate exactly what you were. May your music play on and on...

Eyeball, Part Two

Do you enjoy coincidences?

Friday night, I held an acquaintence's prosthetic eyeball. Why? Because he handed it to me. Long story, (and no, I hadn't asked to have a closer look or anything. Surprisingly, it wasn't freaky or gross at all. It was actually pretty interesting. Definitely a piece of art.

Also coincidental is that I'd read this story earlier in the day.

But I just thought it was a hoot that here I'd posted about an eyeball - a completely different kind - earlier in the day and then this...

Friday, July 22, 2011


I laugh a lot. However, it's not easy to make me laugh at 5:45 a.m. But that is how my day started...

Our Pup has been on a chewing frenzy since he is losing his milk teeth to make room for grown-up chompers. This means he has terrorized all of his "fluffy" (non-chewy, stuffed animal-type) toys, swiftly executing them by ripping a hole (usually near the eye) and removing their stuffing.

We actually have a small pile of lobotomized animals, awaiting repair.

Which means that he is down to one fluffy toy (a stuffed dachshund, interestingly enough) that he hasn't destroyed. And these are somehow more fulfilling to destroy than gnawing the crap out of his rubber toys or raw hides. Pup has a lot of toys. A lot. Like, ridiculous...but he is a busy little guy and we like to keep him entertained. We don't leave him with anything while he is alone that he could ingest, though...fluffy toys are for supervised times only.

Because he is apparently desperate for more fluffy friends, he's turned to the few little creatures (mine!) dwelling in the rocking chair in our guest room. It's a constant battle to take them away, say, "No," and then wash and dry them to keep them slobber free.

I went to bed early last night (allergies!!!) and he came to the bed, whining to get up (as if! No dogs on our bed...I don't care how adorable and snuggly he is!) and I could hear him running around as I drifted off. (He weighs about 10 lbs, but sounds like he weighs 40.)

This morning, on the counter in the bathroom, a single blue eye. Apparently, Steinvic rescued it from the dog when he came up to bed.

I wasn't expecting it and it made me laugh. Then I went to see if I could figure out where it came from and found my moon, sans eye. I could glue it back on. Or, I could remove the other eye and let Pup destroy it, because it makes him so happy...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Values

I think that one day, we'll reflect on the way our government and society has discriminated against people who are gay the same way we reflect on other travesties to our human rights, like when women and blacks were not permitted to vote.

I watched The Kids are Alright the other night, so I guess the topic is on my mind. And then I read shallow-minded comments at the end of articles that talk about how same-sex marriage threatens the core of family values.

I don't see how that is possible. I don't even know what it means, exactly.

Because the way I see it... if you're gay and have a steady partner, and possibly children, chances are you have to work a lot harder for that relationship than straight folks. Yep, I said it...people who are gay not only deserve to be married, but possibly even more than us heterosexual folks (who often take that right for granted and/or abuse it) do.

I can only imagine that it's hard enough to survive childhood and the teen years as a homosexual. Chaz has a nice campaign going, and I think it's a really good idea, to let kids know that as bad as life might seem right now, it does get better. But still...

Imagine, once you're grown, knowing that if - when you walk into a room - you "sound too gay" or "look too gay" that some of the idiots in the room are not paying attention to why you're there or what you're saying, but instead begin thinking about your sexuality. (Doesn't THAT seem more perverse than the idea of people of the same gender having "relations"?)

Imagine that on the job, if you're a single female with short hair who likes sports and you haven't got a boyfriend that immediately, people assume you're gay. It may affect your social life or your relationships...what if you don't feel like you can be honest with your co-workers?

The stress and strain of constantly having to juggle how comfortable others are going to be with who you are undoubtedly makes life in general more difficult for people who are gay. I have no idea how difficult it would be to try to maintain a romantic relationship under the additional strain.

Family values to me? Be honest with each other. Don't abuse each other. Trust each other. If the road gets rocky, you don't leave; families work it out. Be innovative - actively seek ways to stay in love. Be selfless - think about something that your spouse/partner would be delighted by and then do it. Give - make a daily effort to appreciate each other. And teach your kids all these things by talking, being affectionate and communicating often so they can see how it all works. Those are family values to me... How can allowing people to get married threaten anything I value? How does everyone having equal rights to marry damage love?

I see this world as a crazy place. It's a good place, and a beautiful place, but it's crazy and it's hard to get by sometimes. Who am I to deprive someone else of love, of the same joy I felt when I married Steinvic, of the same rights I have? If you can find love in this world, celebrate it every day. Here's to the rest of our great States getting their heads out of their asses.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Steinvic was out of town for work overnight, and I woke up at 4:18 a.m. (I looked at the clock) due to tiny woofs and whimpers from our pup. We crate him at night in a blanket-lined cage in our room…something we started the first night he was home with us. I listened to him, working through whatever monster-filled encounter he was having in his sleep, heard him let out a big sigh, and then he was back off to dreamland…hopefully one that featured large flower-filled fields and sunshine.

I was, however, wide awake.

I’d been dreaming, too. In my dream, a girl I’d gone to junior high with was now an adult, critiquing my art book. I remember feeling confident showing her my book, but as she paged through, none of my drawings were complete. They weren’t how I’d remembered them, either...much more amateurish than what was in my mind's eye. I found myself embarrassed at first and making excuses, but then admitted that they weren’t as good as some other things I’d done, and maybe I needed to just buy another book and start over.

The Girl…I remember her well. She was very popular. She seemed older than everyone else…a ring leader of sorts for her clique. Instead of the trendy, 80s clothes the rest of my class wore, she had her own conservative, expensive style. Perfectly manicured, long, oval nails. Impeccable handwriting. Pretty blonde hair – there was never a bad hair day in her world. She wore a tiny amount of tastefully applied makeup. When she laughed, she was reserved. She was not silly and didn’t act out in class. I remember that she had a few steady boyfriends, but no one gossiped about her. She made great grades. I’d heard (not in a bad way) that she sometimes drank at parties and smoked a little weed with the other kids, but never that she’d made a fool of herself. In retrospect, she was a grown-up in an adolescent body.

I, on the other hand, was a mega-dork.

A five-minute sketch of me, in all my dorky glory, circa 1983.

I was skinny, had permed, stringy hair, wore glasses and bulky train-track-style braces. I had no boobs to speak of (or not speak of) and absolutely no style. I hid my lack of shape and style in loose, brandless jeans, polo or denim shirts and an occasional shaker sweater from The Limited that my aunt sent me. (My family really couldn’t afford The Limited at that time.) I giggled and freely acted dorkily, with my small, tight clan of dorky friends, all of us wishing we were less dorky, but having no idea how to achieve that. I for sure wasn’t going to parties, drinking casually or smoking weed…most of my Friday nights were spent drawing at my Dad’s desk, peripherally watching The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Dr. Who.

I can remember a couple of instances where I dared to try to talk to The Girl…once chiming into a conversation before chorus where there were just a few of us in the classroom. I think I said I thought she’d surely win a seat on the student counsel if she ran. She shot me down saying something like, “I don’t remember asking your opinion.” I slinked into my second-row alto seat, red-faced, slumping back into my dorkiness and pretending to read something important so that no one could see the humiliated tears trying to form behind my thick glasses. (I was a foolishly sensitive kid.)

In the eighth grade, at the end of the year, everyone was passing their yearbooks around, getting cleverly crafted signatures. “Stay sweet!” “LYLAS!” (Love ya like a sis!) “KIT (keep in touch) I mean it!” While mine was being passed back to me, The Girl intercepted it. I saw her writing and wondered what she could possibly have to say to me. It said something like, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch to you.” No, really…that is what she wrote. I was a little concerned that the word “bitch” was forever in my yearbook and that my parents would see it and I’d somehow be in trouble, but more, I felt somehow…taller.

In ninth grade, I had contact lenses and had discovered mousse and learned to feather my hair. Money was a little less tight so my wardrobe had improved. My braces were off and I was permitted to wear a little more makeup to school. I still didn’t have boobs, but realized that a lot of thinner girls in my class were in the same predicament, so I pretended not to care. Mom gave me Chanel No. 5 that year and I was starting to understand the allure of girly things, the art of passing notes instead of trying to talk in class and began to develop a thickening attitude – healthily calloused – of not really giving a damn about what others thought of me.

And, most importantly, a new girl in school ended up in my homeroom. She was very, very cool and worldly. And pretty. For some reason, she took to me right away. The popular girls wanted to be friends with her. And so, they started to be kind to me. Including The Girl. Like…I got to sit with Those Girls sometimes. I wasn’t part of their clique per se, but I could sort of pass.

The Girl went to a different school for tenth through twelfth grade. A school I’d always dreamed of going to. I maybe saw her once at a football game or something, far away and out of the corner of my eye, as she talked with former classmates, but I've never talked to her again.

Back to today. Out of curiosity, I googled (yes I used Google as a verb, and I did nosily look someone up online) her name and found that she seems to have a wonderful life. She looks grown up, more weathered and outwardly more approachable and authentic. I’m totally not surprised at all...she's always been so talented. It made me happy, if not a tiny bit jealous, to find her excelling in a profession I’ve dreamt of and living in a part of the country that Steinvic and I adore. She actually has a blog and I thought, comment? No, too creepy. Maybe not. What would I say? “Hello from Cincinnati. I had a weird dream about you that made me curious about what you’re doing and I found your blog. Happy that you’re doing so well and wistfully envious that you’re in a career that should be mine, living in a place that my husband and I would love to live. Yes, I’m still jealous of you. But in a nice way. I swear. I’m not crazy.”

No. If I were her reading that, I wouldn’t believe the not crazy part. Instead, I think I need to get those art books out and really start working. I have a hundred story ideas in my mind, a thousand projects, a million little lightening bugs flickering around in my brain, but I haven’t done a damn thing about any of them. She has. She knew what she was going to be when we were kids, and she’s done it and done it well.

Steinvic and I have a good life here...lots of blessings. Who knows...maybe some would envy our lives a litte. But I belive that what I bring to our existence could be richer, if I apply myself.

I keep saying it, but now I have to do it. I have to get busy on me. Thanks for the kick in the pants…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Greyhound Experience

I promised I’d provide a summary of our experience on the Greyhound Express from our recent trip to Chicago, so here it goes.

First off, we decided to take the Greyhound Express because we’d tried the Mega Bus last year and sort of wanted to compare. I believe Steinvic and I want bus-riding to be a real option for these quick trips where we don’t want to tax our cars or spend a fortune on gas and parking fees. We want it to be a good experience. Truly.

We gave Mega Bus a chance: Fail.

We gave Greyhound Express a chance: Fail.

It can be summarized by this image.

Yes, this is one of the few instructional signs that appear in the Greyhound hub. (You are really on your own as far as figuring out where to go and what to do.) It is supposed to be a person getting a ticket at the ticket counter. After our experience, we believe should be a bartender administering liquid comfort.

It wasn’t so much that we were hassled or that our bus wasn’t on time. It was more the:
- disorganization (which makes this particularly anxious traveler even more anxious)
- constant, unwavering scent of urine
- dirty (and I’m not talking because I’m OCD-ish…they were nasty) hubs and buses
- people, both patrons and employees, who generally seemed to be cranky
- bathrooms that were not useable
- lines in which you waited and every single person ahead of you had a "serious issue" and needed to explain everything that had happened to them since birth. (we were there in plenty of time, but still...annoying drain of patience...)

Two good features – no, three – about the Greyhound include the inexpensive fare, the fact that the Wi-Fi worked pretty consistently all the way to Chicago and back, and we got there and back with no real problems. (There were quite a few hostile people for which this did not seem to be the case.)

So, I don’t think we’ll be taking the bus again. It feels too…unreliable. Like something could go horribly wrong…either someone freaking the heck out or a bus not showing up. Just too out of control.

And too smelly.

If we HAD to do it again, I think we might, but it would not be our top choice of transportation…