Monday, December 3, 2012

Play It Again, Sam

So the Groupon that led me to the hip-hop class a few posts down led me, tonight, in even deeper. It led me into a Tease N Tone class. Known by some as stripperobics. Imagine Pussycat Dolls style moves - mostly MTV dancin' with a tiny bit of burlesque thrown in.

The class was 30 minutes of cardio - tough cardio - followed by 30 minutes of learning less than a minute of a choreographed dance, 8-count by 8-count, just like in the dance classes you took as a kid.

As we counted in, over and over, on the intro of the hip-hop song, the singer announced herself as the beats ramped up. "Nicki. Minaj." in a bad-ass voice, followed by the announcement of her guest singer, "JUUUUUUUUSTIIIIIIIN!"

Three, four, five times. As we learned each new chunk of counts, 4 or 8, I was thinking, when is Justin Timberlake going to start singing? Nicki keeps announcing him.

Oops. You guessed it.

Justin Bieber.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Is it a sign of maturity or immaturity when in the middle of making a mistake or acting in a way you know you will regret, you recognize it - immediately?

It doesn't happen later... it happens exactly as the words are coming out of your mouth. Precisely when you're standing there quietly, and failing to ask for what you want and is completely reasonable.

This little, tiny, tinny, scratchy voice inside whispers, "It's OK to stop talking about this and abruptly change the subject. Couldn't be more awkward than it already is!" Or, "It's OK to ask for one of those to yourself - it wasn't assumed you would even share in the first place, so don't be forced to. Just ask."

Maybe someday, when I'm all growed up like a big kid, I'll recognize these mistakes the split-second before they happen? Instead of during? Or after?

But, ah, perhaps that right there is the height of immaturity.

Before? So you can be what, Emily; perfect? Serene all the time, and never ever unprepared, never stepping into muck or talking faster than your mind can think?

So the same quiet voice may in fact be saying to me right now, as I try to let the last week or so go and fall asleep, "Be grateful to recognize the mistake at all, much less in the bungling middle of it. That's an improvement! And don't cling to the notion you'll stop making mistakes. You only do that when you're dead. These mistakes are going to keep coming. The grace is in refusing to let them clobber you. And in going to sleep without feeding them."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

But I'm NOT Sorry!

In the last month, I've noticed an uptick in saying sorry. Someone bumps into me; I say sorry. Someone emails me incorrect information; I reply, "Sorry, can I clarify, you meant the 19th not the 18th, since that is Friday, right?" Someone paid to provide a service arrives with a smile; I begin the interaction by apologizing for needing their service at all.

I don't think, typically, I'm a very apologetic woman. (Ask my husband.)

Whence does this uptick come?

Perhaps it is that as I embrace the start of middle age, I find everything greying out... not in emotion; far from it. Rather, I see things are more complicated - I am less sure of the black and white in life - I can understand another point of view even if I don't, or won't ever, share it. With this grey, is this apologizing some sort of uncertainty in my own authority creeping in, too?

Or perhaps it is sheer laziness. Plain ol' backsliding into the fierce cultural habits we're raised with as girls, all sugar and spice and everything nice. I'm certainly more tired than I've ever been - because it's true! It takes longer to recover from injuries, illnesses, nights out partying in middle age - and so maybe I'm putting my energy elsewhere and just forgetting to Stop Saying Sorry.

When was the last time you apologized? Were you really sorry? Was the error one of your making?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another silver lining

Today I took a hip-hop class and watch out world! I am terrible!

Well, that's not exactly true, but I was pretty anxious - it has been 18 years since I took a formal dance class - and I was pretty intimidated by the "beginner" class participants. What if I taken the beginner-intermediate class!? I may have had to dismiss myself!

But while the choreography was challenging, and my memory for eight-counts could use a little work, the one place I was totally successful was in general fitness. I was sweating. I was panting a little. But I could have gone another hour - and I made it through all of the sanctioned warm-up push-ups and crunches, plus the drop-it-like-it's-hot squats that were part of our routine, over and over again.

So, first, I've checked off the "try something new" box for the month - 'cause hey, if it's been 18 years since I did this, we can all agree this is "new" to me as an adult.

And second, the silver lining to spending one's youth off the court, outside the track, sidelining at the game and passing on weight room is that at age 31, I can genuinely say I'm in the best shape of my life, and I don't have to lament that what was possible in my energetic youth is now gone (Big Macs and marathons!). Heck, I can save that certain lamentation for my next decade! Ha!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A thing I did not see on the street while growing up in Montana, which I saw today in Portland.

A woman walking toward the MAX train, pushing a baby stroller. The baby was asleep inside, covered in blankets, and both handles had swinging grocery bags hanging off them. Her hijab was maroon and very tight; so tight, in fact, that she had a flip-phone cell-phone tucked into it, and was chatting away. Take that, Bluetooth!

Trick or Treat!

Pretend you are 9 again. This is my own meme...

Best candy overall? Reese's peanut butter cup.

Best candy for school lunch? Sugar Daddy - it lasts the longest.

Worst candy? Raisins.

Candy your brother is dumb enough to trade for? Smarties.

Candy Dad steals, but you don't mind? Almond Joy.

Candy Dad steals, but you do mind? Butterfinger.

Best candy-gathering bag? Pillow case, of course!

You get an apple. You do what with it? Believe it or not, never happened.

Best book about Halloween? Blubber by Judy Blume, of course. It taught me the word flenser and made me realize how quickly the tides can change when teasing is concerned. It also made me endless jealous that there were places in the world with dried, crunchy leaves on Halloween, rather than drifts of snow.

Candy Mom steals? Trick question; she never stole any - she's Mom!

Date upon which Mom throws out Halloween candy if not all eaten? The weekend before Thanksgiving.

And yes, I was a kid who meted out my own candy, to myself, a couple pieces in my lunchbox each day, to make it last and last and last... and be at risk for parental theft... and then I eventually tired of it - or was left with nothing but suboptimal Mr. Goodbars and Three Musketeers and Raisinets and plain ol' raisins by Thanksgiving, dried out in a crumb-covered pillowcase on the pantry shelf. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's (d)Evolved to This

My day job, increasingly, causes me to be less and less interested in political conversations. Now that we are a bit over one month out from Election Day 2012, this is what passes for a political conversation in my house:

Me: But at least I get to see Gloria Steinem speak! I think everyone should see her once. It's something I'm glad to check off the life list.

John: How come?

Me: Because she is one of the mothers of feminism! She was there! She, like, helped start it!

John: I think feminism is a failed experiment. Like California.

*cue laughter*

*cue gratitude for a witty joke rather than any attempt at a serious discussion of 
feminist history in the U.S. over the last 40 years*

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's New?

Is it weird to answer, when asked what is new in life, to say, "I have really been flossing a lot more in the last month and I hope that at my next dentist visit in two weeks they will notice - and compliment me on it."


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kindred Spirits

I suspect a whole lot of people out there find Deb, goddess of the Smitten Kitchen, to be their kindred spirit. I don't begrudge them - 'cause heck, I join them - but in one way, Deb speaks to me with the pure clear voice of a prophet. I've known the truth all along, but her persistence in spreading the gospel of both word and action is an inspiration. And that way she speaks about a birthday cake.

Like her, I am shocked and genuinely, deeply upset by the thought of a store-bought birthday cake. A special dessert from your favorite bakery for a holiday, for an anniversary, for a graduation, for a reunion? Go for it! Dream of it for weeks. Spend $38 on a pie from Random Order (or something like that) because they are really, really, really good.

But on your birthday?

Even if you are drafted happily onto Team Pie over Team Cake in debates and at parties, it is your birthday, gosh darn it, and you should have a towering layer cake, made by someone who knows you, likes you (loves you, even) and bakes well. This is a commandment in the House of Emmy, and I've been known to bake cakes for the birthdays of friends of friends - even coworkers of friends that I barely know.


This month.

My month.

I get to make a birthday cake for myself! You might think this is a disappointment, and that I want a cake baked for me (which, OK, in the interest of blog-world full disclosure, yes, I admit, I would not turn my nose up at Deb's Pistachio Petit-Four Cake made by some other hardy soul since I fear the complexity) but the opportunity to make EXACTLY what I want, on EXACLY the timeline I want to make it, and share it with EXACTLY who I want - divine! Just like Deb, I'm on the hunt for the right recipe. I'm thinking about almond, I'm thinking about raspberries, I'm thinking about seven-minute frosting with some other flavor to dress it up.

And candles!! 31 of them...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Sermon

I know you think that I'm going to give you a sermon right now, and I admit, that is something I've been known to do - from, oh, time to time - but - no - in fact - instead I'm going to summarize the best part of last week's sermon in church, because it has stuck with me all this week - and it's worth all of us going into the weekend together, thinking about it.

The title of the sermon was, "And the Greatest of These is Love." If you're like me, you sort of cringed just now. Your body tightened. You thought of all the weddings you've been to where Corinthians was read... love is patient, love is kind, love is not boastful... you know the bit. Needless to say, lovely as these sentiments are, this was not in my wedding ceremony and I always find it a bit, mmmm, ambitious, for a young couple. Maybe for a new parent, it makes sense as a parental vow. But at the outset of wedded life? Hmm, I say. Hmm.

So Reverend Bill read the familiar lines to us, and mentioned that they were, many years ago, in HIS own wedding ceremony. Then he stopped. Never insists on its own way? Endures everything? He admitted to falling short of those standards, and who doesn't? But that's not a description of human love, he went on to explain... that's a description of God's love.

Whoa. Hold the phone.

I bristle at the phrase "God's love" - but I work hard to translate it. I hear "the love of the universe" or "the love of the infinite" instead. Because if the language, and concept, of a knowing, or patriarchal, or authoritative God/god is troubling to me, I still can't un-know that someone watches the watcher. Some part sees the seer, and observes even the most conscious of my behaviors and actions. I mean, how can I observe my own thoughts? How can I sit back and see myself? I only do so from the perspective of... yes, a soul. A spirit. A calm, content, wise and loving center within me - within each human being - that is infinite and unaltered by the tribulations of any given day.

So Reverend Bill, what you're saying is that within each of us is a love that can bear all things - even the accidents and deaths we think will break and kill us - and endure all things - even the endless madness of polls, politics, people voting against their own self interest - and hope all things - even if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, the world might change, and so might my family - and believe all things - even that my mind might not be the Very Best Judge Of All Happenings Planetwide, and there might be things I don't understand, or even things that contradict each other but are simultaneously true.

So of course we read this at weddings. Of course we want our partner to be perfect, and for the holy sacrament of commitment to make the new "us" perfect - for the reading to infuse guaranteed success.

But what we forget is that it's already within us. Heavy stuff, to be sure. But remember that that love is within you this weekend, while you're out there in a rather mean, cold, dangerous, unlucky world. Because if you forget it's there, you might get way, way, scarily, off the path. And even if only one other person in the world loves you, they'll miss you on the path with them a whole lot.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Bleak Out There

So I was out this past weekend and I was the wingman. Being happily married means you can't give one speck of advice about how to approach a cute guy at the bar - heck, you can't even give advice about how to tell if he is cute enough to approach, but not so cute he's going to be a douche. This wingman business, clearly, is not my area of expertise. In fact, I prefer the "be dead honest" approach, be it with a lot of charm and humor and snappy, broad jokes... but I now am seeing that's not exactly how this flirt-at-a-bar thing goes, at least not typically. Being married means you get to be fearless... and I don't think that's the hallmark of a successful interaction at 12:30 AM for the wingee (or whatever you call the woman on the prowl who has a wingman in tow).

And after talking to exactly three guys - only three! - I came home exhausted. This is a lot of work.

So three things kept running through my head as I made my way home.

First, the guy who said he works in financial services and only when pressed with numerous questions finally told me he manages an emerging markets mutual fund, requiring odd hours to do business in different time zones... hey plaid shirt dude, why say financial services? Why make me dig? Why not just say what you do instead of talking down to a dumb girl? And what's with the resume keywords?

Second, when your name is typical, easy to pronounce and probably familiar to people, as mine is, you never, ever, ever, not one time, think about awkward it can be to start an interaction (not to mention all three) like this:

"Hi, I'm Josh, what's your name?"



"No, Jenae."

"Like Renee?"

"Sure. With a J though."

"OH! JUH-nay?"

Sigh. The name is accented on the second syllable, so actually, it is more like Juh-NAY... but the point is that it shone a light on how when it is loud, and dark, and late, if your name isn't Megan or Jennifer or Elizabeth, it can be tough to start the witty, funny, flirty fun part of the night, full of the banter you're seeking, when instead it skids and stutters over name pronunciation at the start.

And finally - third - perhaps answering Point #1, is when Mr. Financial Services, with too-close a shave and too-popped a collar, walked away and said, "I'm a registered Republican," I laughed and said, "I know, I could tell." But I SHOULD have said, "I'll forgive you."

If I'm gonna be a wingman, I have sharpen my claws wit.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thanks, Ina!

I made sole meuniere this week - based on Ina Garten's super-easy version - and it was wonderful! I'm sure the fresh-never-been-frozen Oregon sole was doing most of the heavy lifting, as great ingredients are wont to do, but it made me think... I should make a list of 50 things I'm too scared to cook and then cook my way through them. This one was pretty dang easy, all things considered (if a little sloppy and hurried to get it all not-over-cooked and still warm when set on the table), and inspired me to tackle some other recipes.

What did you make this summer for the first time? And was it a success?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another One

Another serious, depressing, heavy-hitter dramatic film to add to your queue - behind Blue Valentine and Take This Waltz - is I've Loved You So Long. I'm sure you saw it back when everyone was talking about it, five years ago, but if you kept putting it off like me - don't! Take an early Sunday evening to yourself, when you've got the Sunday blues anyway so who cares if something is very serious and very dark, and watch this film. It deserves your attention.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

In the parking lot...

... of the Fred Meyer this weekend, I watched a man move his groceries from cart to truck. His truck was parked two spots away from the cart corral - and two spots away from a median. What did he do with his cart? He dragged it up onto the median, precariously perched there - which was the exact same distance away from him as the corral.

The point here is that I'd like to be a little less observant. I'd like to see fewer things going on around me. I think it would be better for my blood pressure and the world overall if I was spaced out more often, in my head, wandering along not noticing things. Any tips?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On the other hand...

Alongside the cherry bullets, I now have a half-flat of blueberries, perfect little BBs of frozen Oregon sunshine. (Incidentally, I read somewhere recently that 'Oregon Blueberry' is one of those things that can command two or three times the price in China as any other kind of blueberry, American or not. Good taste, across the Pacific.)

But I wonder, as I happily fill up the new freezer that resides in the garage, and feel a sense of making good use of a long summer night, I stop. I wonder. Am I being 100% an ant - working hard, thinking about and planning for bad weather, studiously saving up - but failing to have any of the grasshopper in me - playing music, enjoying berries now, savoring the short NW summer?

A good friend recently pointed out that one of my "triggers" is listmaking. (A good "trigger", of course, is something that sets us into a spiral of patterned, unconscious and unhealthy behavior.) A very good observation, and reminder that I have to be careful to not put too much effort into the list, to sticking to the list, to prioritizing the list instead of the truly important people, needs, and moments around me. So today, I am happy to have a gallon of frozen blueberries.

And rather than think about getting more to wash, freeze and bag up this week, I'm turning back to my current book (My Antonia) and finishing off the last bit of Chardonnay (Rock Horse Ranch). A little ant. A little grasshopper.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year...

Is here, but almost complete...

It is the time of year where I eat an average of 1/2 a pound of cherries per day. And while we have a beautiful and stuffed gallon bag of "bullets" in the freezer for wintertime baking (perfectly pitted, whole, round, red frozen Washington cherries), I still bought another three pounds on Tuesday for a second bag o' bullets.

Alas, here we are Saturday morning and three pounds are gone, nary a one frozen. Will I have the discipline to buy and bullet another few pounds? But it's time for peaches! The Sauvie Island Farm Wife blog says peaches were ready as of 7/31, and last only two weeks.

To eat or to freeze, to eat or to freeze... my most wonderful time of year.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rainy Skies in Summer

When you're married, and you own a home (or make a mortgage payment to the bank that owns your home), and then you cross into your 30s, you will get asked how many kids and pets you have... and if you're me, you have neither.

But I grew up with dogs, both hunting dogs and family dogs, and I do love them. I just also happen to work 40 hours a week or more outside the house, plus commuting, gym, and grocery shopping time, so it has felt, for a long time, that having a dog would be unfair to the pup. But I think off and on about getting a dog, and funnily enough, the last 4 or 5 people I have floated this idea to have had the exact same reaction:

"Oh, dogs are great. They are. But if you haven't had one, or had one recently, you might have forgotten that they just can break your heart. They don't live long enough for us humans, and it can be so, so tough to lose your dog. It's just something to think about, something to not forget about."

Monday, July 23, 2012


The common denominator among all the jobs I've had and enjoyed is that they put me on the inside. Inside someone else's family as a nanny - inside the life of a new mom, mess and joy at the same time. Inside the restaurant, where I see how the menu is prepped, how the food is cooked, how the decisions are made about what you're going to eat tonight and how I'm going to talk you into it. Inside the show and how it is put on from script to production - and all the near-miss arguments that also meant you got a refunded ticket and no performance tonight. Inside the headline, knowing the real story, and behind the law that fails to pass - or the one that does, barely.

Last night, at the Florence + The Machine concert, John and I got rail... meaning, we were leaning against the front metal rail that keeps the audience separated from the performers... and at one point during the opening band, we looked back to see how the crowd was expanding. In a curtain gap far off stage right was Florence herself, with a white scarf over her head and blue jeans on, sweetly and lonesomely dancing to the music of The Walkmen. I was reminded, with a pang, that no matter how close you are to the concert, unless you're Tony Hawk (who was seated on stage), you're never on the inside - not really. She came out later barefoot with her hair in a polished-but-sloppy bun and an amazing navy blue chiffon dress, ready to perform and connect. But I liked seeing her without her makeup, spinning around and looking down at the ground, bopping around to the new music.

(P.S. It was a great show, start to finish - from the parking to the lines, from the crowd to the staff to the opening band, from the weather to the setlist, and most especially, from Florence's engagement with us viewers and the backup singers that brought the house down. Plus everyone jumping up and down at the band's request, screaming, "Shake it off, shake it off! Shake it off, shake it off! It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off!")

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Good, Better, Best.

Oh yeah, I'm going to tell you another Anne of Green Gables tidbit.

In book 3 (my personal favorite) the incorrigible Philippa Gordon says somberly to her new beau, whom she is head over heels for and is a pastor, "You couldn't be anything but a minister," after she hears him deliver a wonderful sermon.

He replies that no, he couldn't be. He tried for a long time but it didn't work.

So sometimes I get pretty down on acting, and film, and television, and the mass-produced woman-hating bullshit that comes out of Hollywood.

But then sometimes I watch something so good, so fucking good, that I want to meet Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams not because they are celebrities and probably fascinating and probably glamorous and definitely interesting and likely wonderful dinner party guests... but to purely, simply and tenderly thank them for not trying to be anything other than actors - and for bringing the world Blue Valentine.

One: run out and see it. Two: don't expect to be uplifted after you see it. Three: do expect to be amazed at their talent. Four: comfort yourself with the knowledge that Michelle Williams is like 32 years old, and we have decades of great art coming from her - she is the next Meryl Streep.

And five: feel in your bones that you have a calling as intense and true as the one these fine actors have been listening to... and start listening, too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

99 problems...

But you know what isn't one? Crumbs in my non-self-cleaning oven!

Step One: crank the oven to 450 for 20 minutes.

And OK, sure, sure, it MAY be a problem that I keep a dustbuster under the shit table in the entry way, and it MAY be a problem should anyone catch me vacuuming the inside of my oven (it's now off, for Pete's sake, that is Step Two!)... but I have a sparkling clean oven now, free from crumbs, easily vacuumed up, having lost their substance in the aforementioned 450 degrees.

Step Three: cheers for cleanliness!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2 more.

You know YUPpies... you know DINKs... you probably even know BOBOs... Young Urban Professionals, Dual Incomes No Kids, and the paradise-dwelling Bohemian-Bourgeois.

But let's all add two more, learned this week on NPR: HENRYs and SITKOMs.

High Earners; Not Rich Yet.

Single Income, Two Kids, Oppressive Mortgage.

I'm not sure the last one is real. Was it a joke stuck on the end of the story by the reporter? Either way, I know some STIKOMs and some HENRYs and will happily toss these terms in next round of banter in which I find myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

20, 19, 18, 17...

I tip 20% without thinking. It is my standard. I may even tell you I think it should be your standard. In fact, I typically round up, so that depending on the size of the bill, I usually end up tipping 21% to 25%.

This is why I am truly sad, and sorry to relate, that as the years away from waiting tables increase, I find myself stopping to consider this tipping practice.

It's lame to bitch about bad service. It's for cheap bastards, it's for old people, it's for judgmental office automatons who have never worked a double shift on cement floors on Mardi Gras in a New Orleans themed restaurant. I don't like the idea of joining the leagues of these types of assholes.

So am I becoming an old curmudgeon who yells at the kids on my lawn? Or is it that I keep running into bad, bad, BAD service?

This past week: brunch in a very un-busy place where 25 minutes passed without a server checking in with me. And I define "checking in" as including a slow walk-by, where I can choose (or not) to seek eye contact. If I don't make it or don't need you, that's OK; you've checked in. You've made yourself available. The 25 minutes of side work you just did about 15 yards away was the 25 minutes in which I decided I needed neither dessert NOR another drink (both of which I would have ordered) and asked for my check instead.

On which I rounded down, to 17.02% as a tip. I felt awful about it.

But I didn't feel awful enough to not do it.

So should I tell servers to watch out? The times they are a-changin'? Or was this a one-time-super-cranky-weekend kind of thing?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top of the list; bottom of the list.

I wake up every day, and do three things even before I get up to pee. First, I check my work BlackBerry with one eye open. Then I check my personal email with both eyes open but unfocused. Then I look at the Top Ten news stories at New York, as ranked on the iPhone app, and sometimes take the full articles - not just headlines - with me for breakfast and during the morning routine.

The Top Ten on the iPhone is a blend of stories from different news sections - mostly "Top News" but a little bit of Style section, New York Regional headlines and even a Dining + Wine well-read selection from time to time.

The other morning, the first story on the list was about how the United States' military branches have had an average of one suicide per day among currently enlisted folks in 2012. That is, by the way, more than the number of people lost in combat in 2012 so far. They're killing themselves faster than they're being killed by enemy fire.

The story at the very bottom of the list was about high-end real estate agents in New York City, and what apartments they would recommend - and why - in the $30 million-and-up-price-range.

Sometimes I hate my own country. Sometimes I really, REALLY hate it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Forewarned is forearmed.

I have planted some bright red geraniums and little purple-flowered ground cover in the parking strip. (Do you know about the parking strip? It is apparently the bane of many gardeners' existences.) But we live in a skinny house, so with only 25 feet of property facing the street - including a driveway! - I have but a tiny bit of land to work with. The parking strip is the only place for me to show neighborhood pride!

But I'm warning myself - and you - now. The beautiful geraniums, they're tempting. They're a shiny, candy red and blooming away happily, with more buds already to be seen, and part of me wonders, "Are they begging to be picked?"

And if they are, how angry will I be to come outside and see them ruthlessly chopped down or ripped out of the ground? Well, we all know the answer to that: really, really, really angry.

And if all I can control in the world is my reaction to things, then perhaps I shouldn't have set my self up, shouldn't have planted such lovely flowers for all passerby to see...

Only time will tell. But I'll be sure to report back with updates!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

215 minutes.

I've been struggling with life in the maintenance mode of Weight Watchers. I hit a very respectable weight, felt good, not quite to the goal number, but good enough - and frustrated enough about not reaching The Number that I decided to take a break from the "loss" mode and do "maintenance" for a bit, and return to that last 5 in the summer.

(Summer is here, ahem.)

Well... my version of maintenance mode ended up being that little extra food each day, as prescribed, plus whatever I want on Saturdays. And sometimes Fridays too. Turns out, that will put weight back on! Slowly but oh-so-surely.

So I am staring myself down, having gained back 6 or so pounds. Plus the 5 I wanted to lose, too. Sure, sure, it's nothing like starting at the beginning - but in many ways, it's harder.

And yet, I'm still going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, and I'm still going to Zumba 2 times a week, and it occurred to me that I'm also back to looking in the mirror and feeling crappy, ugly, fat. (Yes, I know fat is not a feeling.)

So why keep working out? Why bother?

But last week, in a Zumba class, stretching out my arms in what felt like a very elegant and alluringly exotic way, to the sound of a bhangra beat, I answered that why.

I might look in the mirror right now and feel frustrated. Might feel two steps back after one step forward, definitely feel undisciplined and annoyed with myself. But for about 215 minutes a week, when I am actually in the process of some type of working out, I am so powerfully grateful for this body and what it can do, is doing, has learned to do. And that's 215 minutes a week that wasn't being experienced a year ago, and that's 215 minutes a week that are a solid break from body-shaming. Said it before, and I'm sayin' it again: that gratitude game. It's a winner.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preach to the choir, reap the reward!

When you love to bake, you find other people who love to bake. And then you talk about baking. You IM about baking. You swap recipes and you leave Tupperware containers on each other's porches. And if you preach the great gospel of the Smitten Kitchen, you might get a container of rhubarb snacking cake, smack in the middle of rhubarb season!!

The only problem with this recipe was that the baker and so-called "friend" who left it on my stoop left FOUR giant squares of it. Scoff! Friend! No, not a friend. A temptress. Smitten Kitchen's recipes are not trifles; they prove any and all diet-preachers wrong who claim you can hope to break an addiction to sugar. Smitten Kitchen cackles with laughter at this idea. And to top it off... I, like this "friend", live with a person who inexplicably cares not for rhubarb and didn't eat a single bite!!

So I hope you agree that I consider it Herculean to only ate 60% of what she left for me and save 40% for my brunch guests the next day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just ignore that part.

Some people take a hot bath to relax. Some go for a long walk, take a nap, bake a cake or meditate. My escape, in times of stress, as you may already know, loyal reader, is to re-read the Anne of Green Gables series. 8 books, 8 great phases of a person's life, a romantic setting from the 1890s through the end of WWI.

The books are still a total escape for me - while also being completely memorized and comfortingly predictable. The world falls away and I'm simultaneously 10 years old, reading the story for the first time, and also 15, 17, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, and 29 - putting the stresses of those times on the back burner for the few minutes I have picked up the story that day, at whatever point I find myself.

Some of the religious overtones are neither for me, nor offend me - I read past calmly. But in the first, most famous book, one part gets me every time... Anne's best friend Diana has told her that Moody Spurgeon MacPherson told his mom she (Anne) is the smartest girl in school, and, Diana proclaims, "It's better to be clever than pretty." Anne retorts that is it not!, "feminine to her core."

Ten times? Twenty?... that I've read this book... and every time that line jolts the hell out of me!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Don't try to game the system.

Sure, at 30, you'd think I would already know this. But this year, after thinking about it for almost twenty years, I decided to try laser hair removal. My specific combination of Latvian and black Irish heritage, plus a unique endocrine system to lil ol' me, has equaled a lifetime of anxiety and worry about all the kinds of body hair that women might worry about. If they worry about it, if Jezebel writes about it, I struggle with it. Sure, I've gotten used to it - to a degree - and become more accepting of it - to a degree - but in the mid-1990s when laser hair removal went commercial, I said, someday I will try that!

It took the invention of Groupon deals AND a generous spouse to finally take the leap.

And I thought to myself, well, I better start somewhere that doesn't hurt, doesn't show, and doesn't feel too private. Underarms it is.

But there are two ways you can't game the system, my friends. First, the woman will tell you it feels like a rubber band snapping against your skin. She is right. If that rubber band were on fucking FIRE. And second, don't pick based on perceived pain when you have no context for it. At treatment number 2 - of 6! - the lovely woman told me that she turns up the laser each treatment a bit, and that underarms are, "probably the most painful area to treat." Oh, how I lose. System games ME.

(OK - not true. I don't lose. Because P.S... this stuff WORKS, people. At least on me. After 2 treatments I am already stunned at the effects and look forward to a lifetime of hair-killin' treatments all over the place that have begun NOW!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coming up on the anniversary...

This week will mark 3 years married and 8 years together, and the biggest thing I've learned about my husband is that he has a natural ability to be great at it. It comes as second nature to him to just live the advice in the newspaper columns; he is nice 7 times or more for each time he snaps or snips. He remembers to stop and welcome each morning and evening with a kiss. It's a rare day when he brings a bad mood into our house from the driver who just cut him off in traffic, or from the grocery trip turned into 3 hour quest, or from the Weight Watchers scale that shows a disappointment that week. He is one of the best influences in my entire life, every day, and I love him so much for all his humor, his patience, his intelligence, his drive and his all-but-hidden-from-everyone-else tenderness. So on marriage, this one - the one with the lower case 'm' I'm in - I am happy to admit it's getting better - getting better all the time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'm sure you were wondering...

And the answer is yes. Smitten Kitchen's shortbread IS delicious! Especially with both salt and sugar sprinkled on top. Trust me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A dash o' the 'belle

I don't read Jezebel like I used to; I'm not as much of a Jezebelle as I used to be, due to more limited time online each day and week for pure personal surfing.

But this essay is worth clicking over there for, and made me cheer, for great concepts and killer wording, like: "for a society that produces ads and photospreads so airbrushed that they're technically cartoon" and "for men who believe that a woman is only as valuable as she is interesting to their dicks" and "once again, we'd be well-served to emulate Hillary's "give zero fucks" example."


Friday, May 11, 2012

Locavore Complaint

If you don't live in Portland, it is handy, before reading this, to know that Fred Meyer is a grocery store that also has a Kmart/Target-like store within it - clothes, garden supply, paint department, home decor, pharmacy, etc. Also, the City banned plastic bags at large retailers, so all grocery stores have paper bags and otherwise encourage you to bring your own.

I hope, I wish, I trust - that there might be some good reason why the Fred Meyer in the affluent, trendy part of town (Hawthorne) offers paper bags with handles... and the Fred Meyer in my poorer, decidedly uncool and un-influential part of town (Interstate) only offers paper bags without them.

Do you know why? Is it a better reason than people with money get nicer things for free? Is it a reason that makes sense, and explains the giving of flimsy, non-handled bags to the shoppers using the nearest grocery store to one of Portland's food deserts (the New Columbia development, a couple miles away, where the highest proportion of city residents are without cars and thus, carrying their purchases by bus, bike and foot)?

Do you know the reason? And is it a good one?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sin CIty

The biggest difference between New York City (4 trips ago) and Las Vegas (the most recent trip) is not that the Big Apple is aggressively authentic and the Glitter Gulch is appallingly inauthentic. That is merely the second biggest difference.

The biggest difference is that in New York City, where they have quite decent drinking water, there are no bathrooms to be found and yet, they free water at a lot of places. Inevitably, you will end up paying for a bag of chips at a Subway just to pee, I promise you.

And then we find that in Vegas, there are bathrooms everywhere - clean, plentiful and no more than a minute walk away from wherever you are - but the water tastes gross and it is most definitely not free. No waiter offers it, and every bartender charges you $8 for a small bottle of it. Sin city, indeed.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Problems in a Pile

So at a comedy venue the other night, the house manager was a beautiful woman, with the kind of skin they probably use to design Photoshop templates. Flawless skin, a great figure, wearing a sleeveless top when she assisted the bus boys in clearing a few tables and picking up tossed-aside programs.

As she made her way through the audience toward the end of the show, cleaning a few items, I found myself admiring her arm and shoulder. I am pretty obsessed with arms right now - I have this vision in my head of what I want them to look like - since the next step of fitness on the Weight Watchers program for me has been adding in strength training, and I'm enjoying the journey of sculpting the arms. To be fair, the arms I really want I can't have... I don't think they'll ever be as thin as I desire... so instead, I am actively trying to make a new goal, and finding beautiful, toned, muscular arms to admire and strive toward.

Her shoulders were tough and strong, not tiny, but oh, so lovely. I can really covet a great arm in a sleeveless top, let me tell you. Add in that perfect skin, and I'm thinking of adding reps to my workout already.

And then she turned to double-back through the room.

And you could see that she had one lovely shoulder and arm; and she also had one smaller, still lovely, shoulder with an amputated arm above the elbow.

Covet away, Emily, covet away. There's an instant lesson for you!!

Have you ever heard of the pile of problems? Bring together 100 people, some you know and some you don't. Pop all your problems into a pile of 100 scraps of paper and choose one. Do you pick someone else's problems - the ones you can see, the ones you can't, and the ones they hide written on their piece of paper? Or in the end, do you pick the problems you know, understand, can handle and own?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I'm still pretty tired. Although my face no longer hurts, and my abdominals were not sore this year, by my exhausted-yet-conservative counting, I saw at least 78 sets of comedy at this year's Bridgetown Comedy Festival!

I survived it last April - barely - and had to skip the 4th of 4 days. This year, I planned better. I paced myself better. I made it to shows on all 4 days. (Well... my fellow wine drinkers on Saturday night might disagree about my ability to pace myself and be a fully responsible 30 year old, especially he who drove me home while I chattered the whole way in a voice that could have slurred a feeeeew less words.)

But. 78 sets. Ranging from a few 3-minute opener/host types to Janeane Garofolo, who was supposed do a 15 minute set, but didn't see the red light (she was looking at the wrong part of the theater for it to flash at her) and realized it 25 minutes later. (It was the most hilarious, embarrassed, genuine, huge reaction. She gasped, she threw her hands over her mouth, she ran off stage - apologizing to the crew and staff, mid-joke.)

Next year, I aim to top 80.

And if anyone out there is scouring Google for mentions of the Festival seeking feedback, I'll say this: thank you for bringing more women comics! Also: there were fewer masturbation jokes and I was grateful. But, there were a lot more mentions of pot, the Occupy movement, Portland dudes with beards and parenting/kids. Overall it was a little tamer - though, really, no less drunk on the performers' part - than last year, and if you want to immerse yourself in it with next year, let's! Call me in early April - I'll be plotting out my weekend of shows and picking more of my favorites! This year:
and Auggie Smith delivered, like always, and Lucas Dick was quite funny well before he told us his dad is Andy Dick! Go Lucas! Bridgetowners like me will enjoy seeing you in years to come.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Truth in Advertising

You might remember the useful tip at the federal gym, all honesty it was about how we are going to get in shape, as regular people and not super-human will-power machines.

I noticed another sign today, in the elevator. It's above the emergency phone, and it contains instructions on what to do if the elevator breaks, but the perfect part of it is the first line, which reads, in all caps:


So supportive! So true! Try not to... even though we know you will, and we would too if we were there with you, because who wouldn't!?!... just try. And even if you do, that's OK, just move on to step two and we'll come to get ya out. Comforting!

Monday, April 9, 2012


It's official. Smitten Kitchen's posts are taking over my baking life and I. Need. To. Stop.

Stop baking her recipes, stop reading her charming posts, and stop sharing her gospel with others. It is no exaggeration that THREE people have now described her cocoa brownies (which I have baked for them and forced them to eat) as addicting to the point of being like crack, and so if you know what's good for you, you WON'T click on that link.

The most recent success is the honey cake. Good thing Rosh Hashanah is months away, so I won't have to make it again until September because it is, as described, moist and majestic, and it was, as expected, freaking delicious. (At least I was able to send it all home with guests and not a crumb remains at home.)

Must stop, must stop, must stop. Well, maybe right after I try the Sally Lunn bread... it has been calling to me for weeks... Hey! I'm making it without the honeyed brown butter! That's controlling this problem, right?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

1? 1mil?

I've either written this post a million times, or I've never managed to get it published... but it's a simple, powerful observation and if I haven't written it yet, shame on me.

Time spent with positive influences (ahem, people) in your life is time that flies, time that energizes, time that is well spent and makes you feel like you can come home and tackle that to-do list (clean all the things, even!) and have energy to spare - to share - to make a NEW list and start on THAT!

So the next time you come home from lunch, dinner, happy hour, coffee, or conversation and find yourself drained, needing a nap, wanting to turn your phone off... think about it. Think about how you could be coming home from the kind of conversation that is truly no better time spent, no relationship more worth nurturing. And invite one of those people to hang out - it'll do ya good.

So is this an Easter post? Sure, why not! There's a metaphor for rebirth in there somewhere, you can find it.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


If you're not reading, and using, the recipes from Smitten Kitchen - and I am sure you are, because you are cooler than me and more experienced in finding all the cool stuff on the internet - then you should be. Her baking recipes are brilliantly good, and she lists ingredients by weight!! Oh, the accuracy. Oh, the obsessive ability to calculate Weight Watchers points. And oh, oh, oh, the snickerdoodles. Start with these and you'll be a committed fan.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More Zumba Wisdom

Oh, you laugh - and laugh away! It is a silly title. But my lovely, authentic and fun Zumba teacher said in class the other day, "If you want to lose weight in your hips, you have to vigorously move your whole body. And if you want to lose weight in your arms, you have to vigorously move your whole body. If you want to lose weight in your belly..." And everyone laughed, and kept dancing, and she added, "Your body decides what its weight loss process is going to look like, and where it comes from, so we'll just keep moving."

I've hit a plateau in the weight loss - or rather, I've lost the motivation to be disciplined enough, since early January, to lose the 6 or so last pounds that will in turn display The Number I Want on the scale. I don't need to lose these pounds, but it turns out that following Weight Watchers 5.5 days a week and doing almost whatever you want 1.5 days a week doesn't cut it. That will keep you at exactly the same weight - which, I admit, is an accomplishment of sorts! - but with the cherry blossoms arriving, real food starting to grow again (no more apple, orange, banana Every. Single. Day.), and a renewed commitment to reaching the goal, I'm back on the wagon. 7 days a week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rattling Around

Rattling around in my head today is an article from Scientific American about this gene, called CHRM2, whose various expressions appear to be correlated with depression, unruly childhood behavior, high intelligence and alcoholism.

Wha-a-at? Yes. Fascinating.

The theory goes that when this gene is confronted with unstable, uninvolved, volatile parenting... well... it is more likely to result in alcoholism or aggression in teenagers. And when this gene is confronted with engaged, positive, nurturing and involved parenting... it results in wildly successful and intelligent citizens.

It is truly being called the orkidebarn or maskrosbarn theory (Swedish for... orchid child or dandelion child). Dandelion children are the resilient children... they can, and usually do, thrive in any kind of environment. But the orchid children - they are delicate. They have the capacity for incredible beauty, for outshining others - but they also have the capacity to wilt beyond repair without tender, careful care. They're not to be stepped on. Mistakes weigh on them.

I suspect we'll learn more and more and more in my lifetime about various genes, and the effect nurture has on them in each person, depending on the variance in the gene we happen to be housing. But isn't it fascinating!?

(More here.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Report

It is March 1 - and I even had an extra day in February! - but I failed in my goal of finishing the 1,004 page book loaned to me by a dear friend, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Alas, it was a self-set goal (not required by the loaner), which makes failure even worse!

But it's hard to compete with the two books I did start - and finish - while the giant red behemoth of a paperback languished bedside. I like it, I truly do - but it meanders, it lingers, it takes time with an old-fashioned style of narration. And it is HEAVY! Sometimes it annoys me, resting too heavily on my stomach in bed at night. It really should be on a Kindle!

So first up, I cannot recommend enough Room by Emma Donaghue. It's a "run-don't-walk" to your library/friends/bookshop/Kindle store kind of book. I literally intended to read for 20 minutes one night, to dip my toes in, to only slightly cheat on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell... and 3 hours and 20 minutes later, at 2 AM, I was within 45 pages of the end. It is that good. It made my heart race, there were sections where I could not read fast enough and was holding my breath. If you have an ounce of trust in me, you won't even go read about Room - you'll just go read Room.

And second, I joined the bandwagon and read Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. It's pure YA fun and the writing is not nearly as skilled as Donaghue's, and the plot is not QUITE as compelling as hers either, but I read it in an afternoon/evening, and book two in the series was loaned to me today. Yay for friends, and yay for borrowing!

So that's this month's Book Report. You?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Perception Gap

Just want to pass along that handy term for your next dinner party or stimulating intellectual discussion. It's from a David Ropeik op-ed in the Times, and he says:

... Our risk perception system, which blends thinking and feeling and mostly takes place subconsciously, often produces fears that fly in the face of the facts. Many of us are more afraid of some risks — like mercury or pesticides or genetically modified food — than the evidence warrants. And many of us aren’t as concerned about some really dire dangers as we ought to be, like climate change, particulate pollution or acidification of the ocean. The problem is, being too afraid, or not afraid enough — a phenomenon I call “the perception gap” — produces dangers all by itself. For that reason, it’s worth exploring just why our fears don’t match the facts, as a first step toward protecting ourselves from the real dangers that arise when we get risk wrong.

Some of us, ahem, miiiiight have mothers and grandmothers who routinely display (or displayed) bold illustrations of this perception gap.

And it miiiiight be influencing our own daily fears, and is worth thinking about - either doing more research and less seeking of validation, as Ropeik suggests, but also, for me, being aware of the very real consequences of long-term low-level stress, and long-term low-level fight-or-flight decision-making.

Food for thought... 'tis better to make peace with my daily choices and live calmly, than to warmly welcome my existing facts-and-feelings perception gaps, nurturing them to my own detriment...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sick day.

For most of my working life (from my first job at 15 until age 28) I was not the beneficiary of paid sick days - nor of any other employment benefit like health care, life insurance, vacation time, retirement savings, etc. For a little over two years, I have had the option of all of the above and today, I went home sick.

But, oh, how quickly we adjust to a new reality! What have I spent some of today doing? I was worried about the work going undone, the emails going unreturned, the lack of hard deadline for my return - will I be better tonight? In the morning? Will I have this cold as bad as John has had it, which has knocked him over for a week? I have been checking my BlackBerry, thinking of little things and sending an email or two to the co-workers I just left hours ago, and obsessing about one piece of casework in particular - where I can't save a life by being at work, but I can be the best listener they have right now, and that has some serious value.

But what I haven't done today is stop and be grateful that I am getting paid right now. My paycheck won't be less for having to miss work today - so I don't have to cut a few dollars from the budget to compensate, as I did for so long - and since I'm not at a super-small business*, I don't have to worry about retribution, lost hours, or a lost job, for not showing up. I don't have to lie about annoying allergies when I really have a head cold, and I get to hope that my 3-hour-nap and chicken noodle soup and tea and salt water gargles and Neti Pot will end up making me well sooner - which is what sick time is truly all about.

So before I let the last two years of safety net whitewash over the previous 13, I'm taking a moment to feel grateful while the tea water boils. Again.

* Not all very small businesses would engage in such practices. But some would, and do - and did in my working life. If they're not required to abide by FMLA or other labor laws, they definitely don't, for reasons both sensible - and evil.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Official

Today is February 15th... which means I can say, for the first time since I can remember, I got through an ENTIRE Valentine's Day without one person - not by phone, by message, by letter, by Facebook, by overhearing in the world, by smiling stupid ignorant face that I want to desperately correct but somehow cannot - saying to me "Happy Valentime's Day!"

I can die happy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I've always been glass half empty...

John and I have been listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine these days. Tonight I said, "So she's saying I'm gonna drink myself to death right?"

And John replied, "No I thought it was I'm gonna treat myself tonight."

Answer found here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Who has a gourmet recipe for a tres leches cake, or something like it? I love to make cakes, but since I eat less of them now, I must find reasons to make them. And one of my sisters-in-law has a birthday coming up, and she wants a sweet, moist, dense, delicious, cinnamon-y tres leches cake. I've made one once and it was "meh". Might you have a tried and true recipe for me?

Also: auto-correct would like to call this a tres leeches cake. Real nice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stay Open

Look, I hate Rick Santorum as much as you do.
I hate that he doesn't believe in global warming. I hate when he said there are no Palestinians, and only Israelis live in the West Bank. I hate how he said he wants to go to war with China, and how he sounds pretty racist, sexist and mean most of the time.

I hate that he is against pre-marital sex, and against allowing women to use contraception. I hate how much he hates homosexuals, and I hate that such narrow beliefs are reported with a straight face.


Whether it was planted by conservative media pundits, or whether it was just a truly human interest story, I can't hate Rick Santorum for loving his daughter who has a terrible illness (Trisomy 18), which I read about yesterday here.

And I can hate him for using his own family's situation, experience and choices to dictate an anti-choice message to everyone else on the planet, and I can hate him for using that experience to get votes while campaigning in a church, but I can't hate him for this description of life with his daughter, and I can choose to use it as a way to keep my heart open. No. Matter. What.

On the campaign trail, the Santorums share the lessons they have drawn from Bella. Mr. Santorum told a church gathering in Charleston, S.C., that Bella can never “do” anything in her life in the traditional sense, except love him.

“She is a font of love,” he said. “And she made me understand that that’s how the Father looks at me. I’m disabled and unable to ‘do’ anything for him — except love him. And he loves me unconditionally.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Keepin' it real.

As an employee of your federal government, I have joined a gym in the federal building for said employees. It's about as low-fi as they come, in a basement, and I'm happy to have an affordable gym option.

There are poster boards with how to sign up for a workout buddy, what classes you might want to take, goals to track with little silver star stickers, like lifting the most weight in your age group, as well as food advice/tips/recipes, motivational sayings and a gym member of the month feature.

But you gotta love the honesty. One of this month's health tips, along with "Take the Stairs!" and "Eat One More Vegetable Today!" is "Drink Less Alcohol!"

Less, my friends. Less. We live in the real world, after all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Boys will be Boys

Not everything in the world is gendered, or has to be, but honestly, only two boys (under the age of 25) would take a brand new coffee pot out of the box, a gift to all office workers here in our humble digs, and make coffee in it.

No rinsing of the carafe, no test run through with hot water, no cleaning at all. Box. Open. Coffee. Made.

This is not a surprise, however, because I had the foresight to ask if they'd washed it, and the predictable "no" that followed prompted me to skip coffee this morning at work.

And then, one boy said to me, not three minutes later, "Well now it tastes different! It tastes weird to me! Should I throw it out?"

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I missed my little blog's 3rd birthday this past Sunday! So, here we are, in year 4 - in what started out as a public journal for friends during my time in Costa Rica, and grew into a little place on the internet that mainly keeps me on task.

I have a to-do list eight miles long - the Extra-G-Rated version of Storm Large's eight miles, ahem - and each day, I tick off (give or take) writing in the pre-dawn, making breakfast, packing lunch, going to work, working out, doing laundry, making dinner, cleaning up, catching up, sending a compliment or writing a thank-you note, flossing my teeth (!) and reading some part of a book.

And... I blog. Or, I try to.

This is so if some, or most, of things on the to-do list remain undone on a given day, or get skipped, or get guiltily ignored, at least I can churn out a blog post, big or small. And that's one accomplishment I can point to for the day, one that exists on "paper".

And as a bonus, I am ever so lucky to have a few loyal readers! Your ephemeral, digital and quiet presence helps me stay on task, here, as The Pig, so that I might continue to be productive and strict, in all the other ways I aim to be, and to keep the hearth clean and warm for the Muses.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The pleasures are small, the laugh was great.

On Weight Watchers, you can be any kind of person. You might eat and eat and eat until your points have run out at 4 PM, and then you're on to water and fruit for the night. You might starve and starve and starve until lunch, and then spend the day catching up in delectable snacking.

Or, you can be like me, and on most days, you are very strict and regimented and balanced from morning until night, saving and planning and plotting for the evening points to provide a dinner that can be filling - perhaps with 14 grams of cheese sprinkled on top! TWO teaspoons of butter! ahhh, the little things - AND so that dessert is possible.

And so, perhaps it's the influence of my current British novel, but I've been eating tea and toast lately - and there's nothing better. But tonight, my new package of Chamomile tea set me laughing; it advertises on the side, "Now With Richer Chamomile Flavor!"

Known for it's rich flavor, indeed!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I'm surely going to foodie hell... but, but, but... these cherries from Chile for $3.99 a pound taste sooooo good after going on month four of bananas, apples, oranges, bananas, apples, oranges!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Oh, JK?

John bought me the 8 BluRay collection of Harry Potter movies for Christmas, and I am reveling in watching these cute kids grow up, night after night. I plan to re-read the series next, to revel in all the things that can't fit into a screen adaptation.

However, now that I'm 4 movies in, I am afraid to say... not a one passes the Bechdel Test! Do we blame J.K., or do we blame the directors? I'll report back when the series re-read commences.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Light: Returning

With the return of the light - we're gaining more than one minute every single day now! - I'm working to embrace the new year, with its sparse gifts. These small scraps of daily light are but one; the whole house, too, feels clean and lean with the Christmas tree, lights, decor, gifts and cookies cleared out... these the things I've been blogging about this week, you might ask, why so much positivity, lady, when you've already failed to floss every day in 2012?

Well, I am finding that part of being in-the-moment and going whole-hog with Christmas parties, gifts, gatherings, trips, food, drink and celebration means I can more willingly let it be over - and be in this new moment filled with resolutions, list-making, a strict sleep schedule and the monitor of Weight Watchers eating once again.

New gifts mean old things can be cleared away - another round of too-big clothes have headed into the clothing-swap pile, and I find a renewed vigor for using the quick rule of 3 on all items contained in my house and closet: "Do I love it? Does it fit my style/taste? Is it flattering (on the body or on the wall)?" This strictness seems easier - and that comes as a surprise - after two weeks of gluttony.

I am sure that my Buddhist friends would just chuckle at this silly realization of mine that embracing each moment, both the fat (holidays) and the lean (new year), makes for more contentment all around. So chuckle away at me! I am in the mood to laugh with you so far in January.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bad > Good

Bad habits are stronger than good habits. It is so much easier to say, "Oh, I'll get back to Zumba on Thursday instead of tonight." "Oh, I'll eat one more cookie rather than throw them out or pawn them off on some coworkers."

One of these I did... but, but, but I put so much work into those cookies! And one I did not; I did, in fact, go to Zumba tonight.

My mind, that old enemy always muttering at me from dawn til dusk and in my dreams too, kept saying, "You'll be dragging after taking almost 3 weeks off from class! You won't remember the steps! There will be new people, or worse, all the people you know scorning you for not being there for so long! Your teacher will think you are lazy for missing it! Today was the first day back at work, you DESERVE to skip it! Relax tonight! You can go Thursday. That would even save money, too."

Well, my dear husband graciously said yet to my request that he cook a dinner-to-order (I ordered a chicken and brown rice stir fry with onions, bell pepper and mushrooms, in case you're wondering), and I hauled myself to Zumba.

And not only did it feel fantastic to sweat, to stretch, to whoop, to laugh, to shake my booty to the beat, I came out of it with an enormous endorphin rush. What a surprise, to be this noticeable! My body is just screamin': "It's the new year, I only gained 2 pounds while off the diet for ten days, and I have goals to get back to!"

Not to mention new ones to start!

Monday, January 2, 2012


Year after year, birthday after birthday, I announce the same resolution: floss my teeth every day. I've said before that I have a sneaking suspicion my entire life would fall into line - complete with deep, profound meaning in each moment and success in all endeavors - if only I could manage to floss every single day. (If you DO floss every single day, I don't want to hear about it. I don't want to hear about how easy it is. I probably am already jealous of your meaning-laden life and wild success as an artist.)

What's the resolution you make, over and over?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Babies Abound

Friends and family all around me seem to be raising babies, having babies, expecting babies, and even making babies with the help of modern science. All these babies got me thinking about the old nursery rhyme, and so for a little Day Zero/New Year fun, go here first and find out what day of the week you were born. Then let me know if you're indeed the correct child...

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

As for our house, I'm supposed to be full of grace and John is loving and giving. So one is a goal and one is a reality - but what else are New Year's Resolutions for!?