Wednesday, April 30, 2008

with intention

Ed. Note: I originally started this post on Saturday. For some reason I feel I need to finish it before moving on since I have been leaving so many half-written posts unfinished. So just pretend you are reading this Sunday or Monday as a wrap-up of my weekend

After a crazy work week that involved eating nearly every meal at my desk, frustrating work relationships, far, far too much work, very little sleep, the Jazz losing after I arrived home at midnight to watch the second half until nearly 2 am and an incident in the work bathroom in which I narrowly escaped having questionable liquids fall from the ceiling onto my head from the flooded bathroom on the floor above and the pitter patter of scurrying little mouse feet in the ceiling . . . I was happy to walk out of my office building at 6:30 pm Friday night (very early by the way for me to leave the office). After a quick stop at Whole Foods and responding to an urgent email for a conference call (yeah, work needs to leave me alone) which I held on the bus going home, I arrived home just in time for the slumber party I've had planned with my three favorite women in this City for over a month. Four lawyers are hard to pin down.

Originally we had hoped to leave town for a girls' weekend but when that failed we decided to pick a date for an old fashioned sleep over at my place - my apartment being the only male-free apartment of the bunch. My original hope was to make pizzas together. I had this image in my head of us standing around my kitchen kneading pizza dough, laughing and getting distracted by stories as we piled cheese and various toppings atop the wonderful sauce I would make. All week I craved the comfort of not only eating in my own apartment but cooking at home. For some it is a novelty or luxury to eat out. For me, lately it has been a luxury to have the time to cook at home. Leaving work at 6:30 with guests at 7:30, however did not conform to that romantic notion. Instead I resorted to plan B. I picked up a smattering of toppings and odds and ends at Whole Foods - fresh pineapple, sliced olives (black in the can because the smell at the olive bar scares me), fresh mushrooms and tomatoes, milk, eggs, hot fudge and my usual once a week yogurt and cereal purchases. Luckily I already had three frozen pizzas sitting in my freezer - good frozen pizzas with only cheese, perfect for topping. While I was shopping I received emails from my guests asking what they should bring as they left their offices and made their way across town. I suggested snacks or wine if they wanted it since I wouldn't have any and I knew they wouldn't bring it if I didn't specifically tell them they were allowed.

They all managed to arrive at once shortly after I put away my groceries and put on jeans (even though I wanted to go immediately to pjs). Opening the door to these three women brought a bustle of hugs and love and cheery chatter into my home that was so comforting. Despite all being lawyers we are so different in looks, in interests, in religion, in dreams and aspirations, in marital status (ok, so two are married so that is similar) and even in ethnicity. Yet, these women bring me comfort and joy by their long-standing dedication to the friendships that unite us.

Initially there was some clothes changing (I wished I had immediately put on pjs instead of thinking I needed to host a slumber party in jeans!) and some pretzel eating and requests for water and Ruby pulled out the bottle of wine she brought with her and the tiny little cork screw opener she purchased at the liquer store and I complained about my hellacious week. K volunteered to open the bottle and I cleaned out the wine glasses that spend most of their time gathering dust on a shelf as Ruby and Joo joked about a Mormon owning wine glasses - I argued that other less alcoholic beverages can be consumed just as well from "wine" glasses.

After successully de-corking the wine and pouring a glass for Ruby, K spun around as I handed her another glass and announced "since I am a total drunk it will soon be obvious" and we finished her announcement for her that she is pregnant. Hooray! Very early. Earlier than she would normally care to tell but she thought we would wonder. Rub and I then turned to Joo who was sipping water in her pjs and it was confirmed that she too is pregnant. And K pointed out that she is much further along and showing. It was very exciting. This is a first child for both of them.

Part of my vision of the evening came true as I performed the far simpler task of pulling frozen pizzas out of the freezer as stories were shared. We lounged around my living room eating and giggling. After we finished eating I asked if brownies sounded good to anyone. And since no one can refuse a brownie, I jumped back into the kitchen and proceeded to bake, mixing the same ingredients together in the same order I have been doing so for my mother's brownie recipe for close to 25 years. That makes me sound really old. I find great comfort in baking, it is relaxing and soothing in a way I assume most people's hobbies are. My friends predicted how one day I will open my own bakery and I told them how long I had been making these particular brownies and explained that this recipe was my "How To . . ." report when I was 10-years old. I loved cooking shows way back at that young age and loved (to my mother's dismay) to pre-measure and line up my ingredients along the counter so I could explain the mixing process to my audience of stuffed animals or dolls or younger siblings. I vividly remember the 5th grade report during which I mixed up the batter, poured it into a baking pan and put it into the makeshift oven I had made with cardboard and tin foil. I explained it needed to bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick was removed cleanly and "Voila!" I whisked out of my prop oven a fully baked tray of brownies and passed them out to the class. Despite this life-long love of baking I have never had career aspirations to bake. So I bake for my friends and my family and co-workers who find my leftover sweets abandonded in the pantry.

We ate the brownies hot straight out of the oven under a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream and a dribble of hot fudge and crushed pecans. That is the perfect dessert. So simple, so delicious.

Unlike slumber parties of my youth, this one did not involve hair braiding, staying up gossiping about boys until 3 am or games of MASH (does anyone even know how to play that anymore or do we lose that knowledge as soon as we graduate from high school when it is passed back to the silly little 12-year olds as the prepare to maneuver through the scary halls of junior high?). Instead we talked about babies. Having them. Not having them. How many to have. When to have them. Can you work with one? Where is the balance? A topic I read about and hear about and listen to mother's talk and even attend seminars at work on the topic but about which I feel completely unqualified to offer an opinion. They asked to see baby photos of me and I proudly disproved Joo's suggestion that I was a blonde baby with the photos of my thick black hair that stuck straight up at all times. We flipped through more of my childhood memories in a photo album and K caught me off guard by saying "you are so hard on yourself!" as I longed for what I thought were better looking days for me (but seriously, who was not more attractive at 19 than at 32?). She made me think. Eventually I explained to her in the context of another conversation about dating (I'm the only one who should be doing it even though I'm not) that I wind down the slippery slope of negativity so quickly and easily because I get tired of propping myself up with the rare smile from a stranger walking to work or the uplifting beat of a hiphop song as I prepare to go out or kind words from my friends or family. It is hard to be one's own cheerleader. In the privacy of my own home I can feel comfortable in my own body no matter the number on a scale but walking around in this city of small, thin women and socializing in a realm dominated by thin, blond mid-20 somethings . . . my confidence wanes and self-criticism creeps in. I compare myself to others and lose the lightness I felt dancing in front of my mirror at home and worry that my flaws are somehow being spotlighted and are to blame for my complete and total lack of male attention. Everyone needs an external boost and I just don't get them often enough. Luckily these girls bolstered me.

Joo was the first to fade and she fell asleep on my bed. Ruby, K and I tried to press on, reluctant to go through the motions of preparing for sleep but we all managed to find a bed by 1 am. Unaccustomed to sharing a bed, especially with a pregnant friend who requires frequent bathroom breaks, I slept restlessly, as one should at a slumber party I suspect just for different reasons.

The next morning I continued playing hostess by making whole wheat waffles with pecans with fresh berries and maple syrup for breakfast. I have made these waffles two or three times for myself but these girls were my first guests to taste them - and they were a hit. Awkwardly, the satellite guy who was supposed to come between 9 and 1 pm (I was hoping for 1 pm) arrived to install my HD/DVR as I was making waffles. Our conversations became generic and Ruby tried to extract interesting stories from the guy. Ruby gathered up our plates after we had our fill and proceeded to clean my kitchen. Honestly, there is no better way to thank the cook than to clean her kitchen, is there?

Once the cable guy left, the real slumber party games started. We were all so tired and worn out the night before that the sillyness that should have transpired at midnight, instead took place at noon. For whatever reason, Ruby decided to once again take up the campaign of convincing me to try online dating. It scares me for a variety of reasons I won't go into here. I realize it works for many, many others. But it scares me. It feels desperate to me - even though I somehow don't view those who do it as desperate. I think it might be my phobia.

Ruby is a romantic optimist and a mysticist of sorts while Joo, K and I fall more on the practical, cynical end of the spectrum. Although when it comes to me dating, Joo and K are practical optimists rather than cynics. Ruby came up with the notion that I should write a list of 100 things I am seeking in the ideal man. Umm, no. Ok, so she decided that we should write a list of 50 things for my ideal man. I asked if this was something she learned from Oprah and if so I refused to participate. She evaded my question (I thought so!) and insisted I bring her paper and pen. Because I know it is better to play along with Ruby I acquisced to the charade. She cooed over the red pen I had given her - color of love! - and commenced.

Right about now I should inform you all that I have never in my life created a list of what I am looking for in a mate. I know this is a silly little exercise that is rumored to be a frequent activity of many young women - even in church - but I have either blocked out my participation or was sensible enough to never engage. In church I probably did what I usually did when a teacher would pass around a blank slip of paper and ask us to write a list of something or other - I would stare at its empty face and my mind would drain free of thought and nothing would be written down unless it was one of the pat answers of "pray" or "read scriptures" or "get married in the temple." I assumed marriage was far off in my future so I saw no reason to make any demands upon it at 16.

But Saturday morning Ruby convinced us all to play create the perfect man for Alyssa. I offered very little to the list other than clarifications or answers to questions such as "what type of hair do you like?" (the answer is dark, thick and curly - I believe I was envisioning Adrian Grenier). It was fun listening to my friends describe their expectations for me - which in some ways were higher than what I have for myself at this point. I believe the list abruptly ended at #23 or so but I don't actually know since I never got to read the list. One of my favorite items was when Ruby told me I needed a guy who was "bobo" - a term I had never heard before. She described it as meaning bourgeois bohemian and spun it as a positive thing - someone who would go camping but also go to the opera, you know, like me. But just now I looked it up on urbandictionary.com and the definitions are more hypocritical and negative, so now I think it should come off the list.

Ruby had very explicit instructions on what to do with this list once they left which she relayed over and over as we teased her about them and Joo folded the list like a junior high note. She kept telling me it needed to go in my closet and needed to be "placed with intention", I asked if I should spin three times or hop on one foot with my eyes closed and fling it over my shoulder but she ignored me and insisted that if I do this I will one day forget about it and stumble across it as I was moving in with this perfect boy described on my list. I shattered her imagery by reminding her I wouldn't just be moving in with some guy and she clarified after we were married.

Since we were playing games I decided to pull one out myself and fetched a needle and thread from my linen closet. I told Joo and Katharine that I could predict the sex of their babies. This highly scientific endeavor that I believe I learned about in college in volves dangling a needle over the belly of the mother-to-be and watching the direction the needle swings. If it spins in a circle - It's A Girl!, if it moves back and forth in a straight line - It's A Boy! K was the first and I instructed her to lie on her back on the floor. I knelt beside her and steadied the needle then watched it swing in a wide circle. A girl for K. Joo promptly announced that she believed in my thing more than Ruby's and took K's spot on the rug and the needle moved back and forth in a straight line - a boy, which is what she thinks she is having anyway.

Ruby wanted to see if she was pregnant and took a turn as well and the needle didn't move so I told her I had another method for her and instructed her to sit up and hold out her hand perpindicular to the floor (I didn't say perpindicular - who says that? - I just showed her). I dipped the needle 5 times in front of her palm because that was how we did it in college and after the fifth dip asked her to turn her palm face up as I held the needle over it. The needle spun in a nice neat circle. We repeated the process and the needle didn't move. Yeah, one girl for Ruby. I think K's test indicated she would also have just one girl and Joo's was one boy (the one in utero) and one girl. Then Joo tried it on me and I was told by the possessed needle that I will have a girl and a boy - hopefully by the perfect man we created and threw in the back of my closet!

Once we had completed the requisite slumber party games and Joo had recorded all of our child bearing predictions, we all started thinking of our errands for the day and parted ways.

While I emphatically believe Ruby's crazy list of perfectness is ridiculous, I must admit that hearing them describe what they believed the universe should create for me has given me a renewed hope. I have some cheerleaders after all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

steal for yourself. . .

I realize I've been a bad blogger lately. I have two or three unfinished posts hanging out in edit mode with no clear idea when I will have a chance to finish any of them. Sorry.

The good news is while you wait for me to get my act together you can go check out a fantastic new website designed by my uber-talented web designing friend Emily. Emily and some other entrepreneurial minded moms are diving into the world of e-commerce with their new online store babysteals.com. Each weekday they will offer a new baby/mom product at a significantly discounted price until the product sells out. Today's product is this cute little guy:

Check back daily for new and exciting deals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lovin' Mother Earth


icebergs breaking off of the melting glaciers in Iceland

Happy Belated Earth Day! I started this post yesterday in between catching snippets of great tips and advice from fellow bloggers on what they are doing to be better eco-friendly citizens. I'm impressed with the changes and sacrifices (large and small) that so many people have been making. I realize there is a lot of debate out there in the world over global warming - is it happening, is it not happening; are we part of the cause or is it a result of the Earth's natural cycles. I won't comment on what I think about this because ultimately I don't think it matters. Conservationism is a good idea. We are the sole stewards over this earth and we have a responsibility to take care of it in a mindful way. We should avoid wasting our resources and make efforts to preserve what we can and continue to explore alternative fuels and energy sources. I probably don't have anything new to say on the subject of what each of us can do on an individual basis but since this is something I believe in, I wanted to add my two bits, late as it is.


  • Reusable Shopping Bags

  • I have several sturdy canvas bags I've accummulated but my favorite are the floral nylon shoppers I featured in my 500 post giveaway celebration (shown below). You can buy them online here. The nylon makes them easy to rinse off if anything spills in them and they fold into a zippered pouch which makes it easy for me to always carry one with me in my purse which is handy for unscheduled stops at the grocery store, pharmacy or any other shopping. While Whole Foods is used to this, the checkers at Duane Reade have not quite caught on and I usually have to tell them multiple times that I do not need a bag as I try and swipe my purchases off the counter before they put them in a plastic bag. I know people generally discuss using them strictly in the grocery store context but have you thought about using them for all your shopping needs? They work just as well for carrying items other purchases such as shoes, clothes, beauty products and pharmacy odds and ends as they do for groceries. Plus, in NYC I find it so much easier to carry my nylon tote bags over my shoulder than the bulky shopping bags from department stores or the plastic bags from grocers and pharamacies, especially when I am making multiple stops in one trip.


  • Turn Out the Lights

  • I'm surprised at how many people don't turn out lights when they leave a room. Growing up with cost-conscious parents, turning off lights and conserving energy is something that was instilled in me from the time I was young. The funky light bulbs use less energy but limiting use is even better.

  • Chargers

  • Did you know that cell phone chargers and similar battery chargers continue to suck electricity the entire time they are plugged in, not just when connected to a phone or whatever? Unplug those things when not in use.

  • Heat and A/C

  • I live in a green building which is great for helping with energy efficiency. My apartment has this really nifty switch at the front door that turns off all the lights and the top plug in every outlet, the switch also drops the A/C or Heat down a few notches if they are left running when I walk out the door. But seriously, why pay for heat or cold air when I'm not home? Turn those things off or just manually adjust them to a lower (or higher as the case may be) temperature while you are away. Speaking of, in the winter my dad is a pro at keeping the heating bill down. At night, no heat. Just use extra blankets. You will appreciate this on your monthly bill.

  • Bottled Water

  • Steer clear - huge impact is made from the manufacture and transport and all those bottles carelessly tossed. When and if you use them, recycle the bottles when you are through. I keep a nalgene bottle at work, I guess it isn't as cool as the trendy swiss bottles cropping up everywhere but I like it. I use a cup at home and another Nalgene sports bottle for the gym.

  • Napkins

  • I used to grab a wad, just in case I spilled. Now, I try to only use one per meal. I read a shocking statistic about how much this saves in the long run but I don't know it now, sorry. Just be mindful and reduce your consumption. I've been thinking about converting to cloth napkins at home but I haven't made that jump yet.

  • Recycled Materials

  • When making purchases look for items made from recycled materials. There are more and more on the market these days as people get creative in reusing all this stuff we are sorting out of our garbage. Last summer I bought flip flops (which I'm wearing right now) made completely from recyclable materials and I love them! I'm hoping to find them again this season before my current pair wears out.

  • Cleaning Products

  • I love Mrs Myers which are "earth friendly and cruelty free" and smell amazing! Seventh Generation products are also good. Plus good old fashioned baking soda is fab, or so I hear.

  • Beauty Products

  • Have you tried Burt's Bees? You should. They have great lip balm, lotions, shampoos, etc. all made from natural products, not tested on animals and their packaging is generally in the 50% post-industrial recycled plastic range. Plus, their stuff is great. I have recently started using their shampoo and conditioner and they smell amazing!

  • Water Conservation

  • I grew up in a desert that was more often stricken by drought than not. Ultra green lawns in Utah during high drought times always made me angry. Seriously. Look into xeriscaping and water your lawn during off peak water usage hours. Same with your dishwasher. Mine has a timer which makes it easy to set it to run in the middle of the night. Don't take overly long showers - I know, sometimes nothing feels better than a hot shower but be practical about it. Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth. I still remember learning this trick in elementary school and it stuck from then! Avoid leaving the water running for no reason and fix leaking faucets too.

  • Home Renovations

  • I'm in the early planning process for making renovations to my house in St. George. I'm really hoping to incorporate sustainable materials such as bamboo flooring into the plan as well as solar panels which should work amazingly well under the desert sun. I am also seeing commercials for "green" paints. I don't know anything about these but that is definitely something I will investigate. I'm also thinking about installing a fountain as part of a xeriscape backyard plan using water from my irrigation well which will help keep the backyard cooler. But these are very early, conceptual ideas.

  • Electronics

  • I just upgraded my tv and bought a new computer so I shouldn't preach on this one. But seriously, use it until it breaks and then recycle the old. Yesterday I was afraid my cell phone needed to be replaced. My first thought - I don't have time to go through the half-day effort it seems to take to buy a new phone. My second thought - what fun new phone should I get? My final thought - hopefully the problem is just my charger. Luckily, it was just the charger. The sales guy tried to get me to upgrade my phone instead of buying a new charger but I have happily decided to stick it out with an outdated phone circa 2006.

  • Plants

  • I love plants. My sister recently told me my plants are my cats. She is probably right. I have been meaning to do a post featuring my houseplants for quite some time. They are not only great decoration, they clean your air which is a great side benefit in a dirty urban environment.

  • Farmer's Market

  • Find one in your area and patronize it. I love the small one up the street from my apartment. The produce is fresher and generally cheaper than in the store (but I live in Manhattan so that might not work everywhere). Plus, I find it fun to pick up a random vegetable that is in season and create a meal around it. It has been fun learning how to cook with various squashes and eggplant.

  • Give a Hoot - Don't Pollute

  • This should go without saying but if that were true then I wouldn't see so much litter. Pick up after yourselves. And volunteer to pick up trash somewhere. In college I was very involved with my school's rock climbing and enviornmental clubs. A couple of times a year we had clean-ups where we cleaned various trails in the mountains nearby. Local parks host these programs as well. Last year I stumbled onto a local spring park cleanup and was able to pick up some trash and help with some planting. It was fun and made me feel part of my community.

  • Public Transport/Walk

  • I'm lucky to live in a city where I can walk or take public transportation basically anywhere I need to go. This was definitely harder to keep up living in Salt Lake but try consolidating errands into single car trips, car pooling or walking when you can.

I don't think I'm saying anything new here but I wanted to throw out some ideas just in case I am doing something you haven't thought of before. I'm sure you are doing something I haven't thought about either so feel free to share your ideas, I'm open to more suggestions.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WOOHOO!!

Jazz take game 2 IN Houston!!!
I'm too superstitious to call for a sweep but . . . I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed. And I think I need to wear my Jazz t-shirt and pj bottoms every game because that seems to have been good luck the last two games. And here's to hoping I get to spend my Memorial weekend like this (my lucky tee is exactly like the one my sis is wearing here - we both bought them at the Western Conference Finals last year):

Now I need to go to bed. . . right after I finish listening to Charles Barkley ramble on about how the Jazz are his pick.
By the way, not that anyone cares but I am finally getting HD hooked up this Saturday - just in time for Game 4 in HD on ESPN!! So if you are in the neighborhood and looking to watch the game, join me on my comfy couch for some popcorn and the game. Just be warned that I will be wearing my lucky pjs. . . .

Monday, April 21, 2008

catching up

Sorry for the absence. Things have been hectic. Actually, the weekend was not hectic . . . it was very, very lazy. And just a little FYI, I realize the reason most of you come here is not to see photographic evidence of me stalking Karl Malone outside a Hardee's in Park City circa 1993 but for the next few weeks (hopefully stretching into June!) much of my spare time will be devoted to the Jazz in the playoffs and some of that might spill into my blog. In addition, work is crazy and with the exception of this coming weekend which is full of plans itself, I do not have a weekend alone in my apartment until June. Which is exciting, but is also a big reason I spent my weekend the way I did:

Friday night: From about 6 or 7 pm to about 9 pm Friday night I operated under the delusion that I would be ready to go home any minute and therefore did not need to order dinner at my desk. At 9 pm I caved, ordered dinner and it came at 9:30 pm, at which time I continued to believe I would be leaving any minute and decided to take my sushi home to eat. Ultimately, I did not get home until almost 11 pm at which time I broke out my tv tray and ate my sushi and edamame (hoping the fish hadn't gone bad in the interim) while watching part of Season 3 of Entourage. I then stayed up until 1 or 2 doing who knows what else.

Saturday: I must have really needed sleep because I did not budge until 11 am. Even with the late night of puddering that is a long time to sleep without stirring. I am not ashamed. I made myself some German Pancakes of Happiness (I'm too lazy at the moment to track down the link on Tiff's blog but they are delicious and you should try them) and ate them as I watched a 90210 rerun - the only redeeming portion of the Soap Network as far as I can tell. Motivated by the sun shining brightly outside, I pulled on shorts, a tank top and my gym shoes, dialed up my "workout" playlist, strapped my ipod to my arm and tied my house key to my shorts' draw string and ran down the stairs and into spring. It was over 75 degrees and I reveled in it for an hour as I walked about 5 miles along the Hudson River. As I felt the warmth of the sun on my shoulders mixed with the cooler air blowing off the water and observed everything around me I was struck by the beauty of New York City. The sky was blue, the water was softly lapping against the dock, people were running, biking, strolling, rollerblading and walking with smiles on their faces. Tourists were bustling on and off the giant cruise ships and the people stuck in traffic on the West Side Highway stared longingly out their windows at those of us who were able to take advantage of the first sunny Saturday. I was reminded of how lucky I am to live where I do by the tourists who were gulping down their first taste of the City and by the group of Tibetans confined behind gates shouting a chant to punctuate their signs and placards warning of the China's inhumane deeds. I wondered as passed, slowing my quick pace a bit, how I could show that I cared and believed they should be free from tyranny. I felt powerless so I just kept walking. Around 26th street I walked out onto a newly finished pier that I don't remember being accessible last summer and stretched. As I turned back toward the path I had to make a concerted effort to not dance my way back when Shakira told me Hips Don't Lie. A few songs later when I was almsot home I laughed at Give It Away when the Red Hot Chili Peppers claimed "Love is free, love me say hell yes!" as it transported me to an exact place and time in my distant past - in Michele's Pontiac cresting the hill of Highland Drive at Bengal Boulevard when she told me she was giving me those lyrics. Why does that moment stick out to me so much and why Michele decided that line belonged to me, I have no idea. But I do remember the gift, thanks Michele.

After my walk I ran up the 6 flights of stairs to my apartment. Ok, maybe "ran" isn't the best way to describe it but I pushed for better than walk. By that time my feet were killing me and I decided it was time to look for new walking shoes. I did some crunches and reminded myself how good it feels to exercise and asked myself why I don't do this every day . . .

After a shower, my ambition continued. Perhaps it was the open windows and the sun but I was suddenly very motivated to switch out my closet. tore off my sheets, started a load of laundry and retrieved the bins of summer clothes from my storage unit and started the project. Then I got tired. Fearful of regressive dips back into the 50s (with good reason given this morning's 45 degree start!) I couldn't commit to getting rid of everything although I was happy to discover many fun summer tops I had forgotten about. Trouble is, I don't have a lot of skirts and pants to replace all my heavy wool and flannel winter work pants. So I abandoned the project and left the overflowing bins full of winter clothes in my bedroom and left to get a pedicure. Can I just tell you how much I love pedicures? I got an extra indulgent one with a long massage and asked the woman to work around the lengthy blister I had earned earlier in the afternoon. I was wearing plaid capris and a white v-neck t-shirt recovered from the summer bins and FLIP FLOPS! My favorite flip flops that will likely not last another summer but I enjoyed a reunion with them on Saturday nonetheless.

I continued my lazy self-indulgent errands as I returned the call of a long-distance friend I hadn't spoken with in months. I was a bit saddened to discover she is now dating someone I had a passing crush on a while back (someone she encouraged me to be interested in I might add) but luckily I was freshly relaxed and happy from the sunshine and pedicure. I stopped by the newly opened Pinkberry at Columbus Circle and enjoyed a vanilla yogurt with fresh strawberries and mangos as we caught up and I suddenly felt like my walk was nothing as she told me the reason why she is in Boston for the weekend - to run the blasted marathon! No wonder the boy picked her. After a stop in Whole Foods for groceries and CVS for popcorn and m&ms (for the game), I walked home in the now cooling air as I chatted with my mom.

When the game started at 9:30 pm I was excited. Game 1 of the playoffs! It was a stressful game despite the 10 point lead the Jazz managed to keep throughout. A win in Houston was huge and today I am trying to avoid being distracted by game 2 tonight. If only I knew some Jazz fans around here I could invite over rather than hording the popcorn to myself and settling on exchanging text messages with my dad that belatedly celebrate blocked shots, dunks and three pointers with messages like "AK!" or "Booz!" or "D Will!"

Sunday: There is really nothing to say about Sunday. Between lazily lounging on the couch, flipping channels and reading bits of my book, I did some vacuuming, cleaned up the kitchen, re-hung some very crooked paintings and mostly finished my wardrobe shift to assuage my guilt at not going into the office. When I am working the hours I am working and having back-to-back-to-back crazy weekends, about once a month I need a day where I don't go anywhere or do anything or see anyone. Yesterday was that day. That way, this Friday when I have a slumber party with a few girlfriends I never get to see (that was originally supposed to be a trip except no one could get away at the same time and was booked over a month ago!), I will be relaxed and enjoy it. And I will be ready for May when I will be traveling or hosting for a month solid - which will actually be lots of fun!

Ok, that is more than I intended to write - and now I have a meeting so no time for even a quick edit. Please forgive.

P.S. I have not forgotten about the divorce story, I just haven't had a chance to add anything lately. Hopefully sometime this week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Curse of the Alamo

Last night was the last regular season game for the Jazz. It was a game I was both looking forward to and dreading. The Jazz have not won in San Antonio since 1999. Which means the Jazz have been shut out of a win at the Alamodome/AT&T Center for nearly a decade.

What gives?

Yesterday afternoon, as tension and excitement grew leading up to the game, my family debated the reasons for this losing streak and all the possible playoff scenarios if we managed to win and others lost and what would happen if the Jazz won and others won/lost via email. One challenge my brother pointed out was if we managed to "exorcise the Spurs demon" this would do wonders for the team's confidence on the road but it would have more than likely lined up a playoff scenario that forced the Jazz to play San Antonio in the first round forcing the Jazz to win three games in a row to keep home court advantage. I know, yesterday it was all very muddy.

My sister chimed in with her theory as to why the Jazz can't win in San Antonio (remember, she is one of the "funny kids"):

I think it's the Jazz team's fear of using the other team's bathroom that is the problem with the road games. A tidy lavatory is important when travelling.


Which brought more laughters and jokes but really we all felt like the way the Jazz have been playing the last week or two (or month or two!), this was it. We finally had a real chance at winning in San Antonio.

But no.

I didn't get home from work until the start of the second quarter and the game was already over. The Jazz looked pathetic. I only watched for fifteen or twenty minutes before I had to jump on a conference call with a client in Hong Kong (side note, international work is not glamorous. No one is sending me there, I just have to adjust my schedule to accommodate the crazy time differences!). During that time, I sent a text message to my family (all of whom I knew would be watching) asking "How did the Jazz get cursed in San Antonio?"

After a horrifying loss of 109 to 80, this morning I got an answer to my question regarding the origins of the curse from my brother via email:

Does anybody remember when The Mailman knocked David Robinson out cold with his elbow? I seem to remember Tim Duncan making some thinly veiled threats against the Jazz after that. Well, I did a little research, and Karl clocked The Admiral in the last meeting between the two teams in 1998. The Jazz won their next game in San Antonio the following year, but that was the last Jazz victory in San Antonio.

So the timing isn't perfect, but it's close enough to be creepy. I wonder if Tim Duncan cast some Santerian spell on us. Or maybe it's just bad karma for Karl knocking out the classiest guy the NBA has ever seen. Whatever it is, I think it's on Karl to make a public apology and end this streak once and for all.


There you go. The Spurs curse is Karl Malone's fault. So, Karl I'm asking - no, I'm begging you, PLEASE apologize to the Spurs!! I know you never got your ring, but please don't prevent a new generation of well deserving Jazz players from collecting theirs. You have until round 2 of the playoffs.

Oh, and do it for old times:


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bloggers are the best!

I send out one simple little plea for luck and I get hit with a deluge of well wishes, for that I am grateful. As you are all, I am sure, sitting on the edge of your respective seats waiting to hear the result of my little adventure today, I guess I will spill it. But sorry, I don't feel comfortable sharing details - client confidentiality, ongoing case, blah, blah, blah.

The long and the short of it is this: we lost.

Which sucks.

But, and here is the good part, I still think I did a kick ass job.

Seriously.

I was calm. I felt I was articulate and only read a few of my "talking points" in my opening statement. I honed in on my opposing counsel's weaknesses and errors on rebuttal and I clarified our position in a concise manner. Or at least it felt like that way at the time, we'll see how it really played out when I read the transcript full of "umms", "errs" and "like" (please don't let there be any "like"s!!).

Other than asking for an unbiased judge who would have listened to me more, I can't ask for much more. Maybe, rather than asking for the power of concerted blogger thoughts/prayers/well wishes for myself, I should have requested the power be focused on softening the judge's heart or something. I guess I was being selfish in only requesting I perform well, forgetting that what counts is where the judge comes out on the whole thing.

You see, he had already made up his mind. I know this because he read his ruling from the bench. One he (or more likely his law clerk) had already typed up before I ever stood up and introduced myself. So, the loss wasn't really about me.

To be honest, this was just another item to tack onto my list of complaints about New Jersey. Apologies to all the Jersey-ites out there, but I really don't like the state. I have had very few positive encounters with the place - either professionally or personally.

There was that one time several summers ago where I spent a Saturday in July at the "shore" (which is what they call the beach there) which was wonderful. Except the beach smelled like fish. Other than that it was a great day with a fun group of people. Afterwards, our crew of 15+ hung out in a NJ native's parent's backyard playing card games and jumping into the pool. That was fun.

There was also that brief period during which a friend of mine and I frequented a climbing gym somewhere in New Jersey on a semi-weekly basis.

But then there is the sad snarl of an excuse for an interstate called the NJ Turnpike. I've nearly missed flights thanks to the unpredictable nature of that thing and been stalled for hours trying to get out back to or out of NYC. Last summer New Jersey turned a four hour drive home from DC into a NINE hour drive! The first time my parents and I ever drove into New York City, we drove up from DC and spent several hours inching our way towards and into the Lincoln Tunnel crammed into my Subaru with all the belongings I had used over the summer living in Virginia, both of my parent's luggage and the basic apartment starter kit stuff we picked up at Costco. Which meant, instead of admiring the City skyline as we inched along, my mom was buried under a giant package of toilet paper. Oh, and if you ever find yourself driving through the northeast corridor, please make a point of stopping for a bathroom break before you enter the state or hold it until after you leave or else you will end up waiting in ridiculously long lines only to question how much you really need to go when you see the most disgusting public restrooms ever. Do they not have a health department in New Jersey? And if you miss your turn because, oh, I don't know, they don't know how to use proper and helpful signage on their highways, then forget about hopping off and turning around because you may accidentally find yourself in a ghetto area of Newark or Elizabeth that scares you even with the doors locked in broad daylight.

And I think we all know how I feel about the New Jersey Nets. Did I mention how gross the chicken fingers were at that game? Blech.

And what about the time my local counsel treated me like a 5-year old and tried to tell me how to deal with my client? Or what about the fact that the entire bar is a good old boys network bit behind the times in gender relations.

I'm not trying to irritate any locals here and I did not mean to turn this into an anti-Jersey rant. I have friends who live in New Jersey. Good friends. They seem to like it well enough. I went to a fun wedding in Newark once and I've had dinner on a couple of separate occassions in the seemingly large (by comparison) apartments of friends in Jersey City.

All I am saying is New Jersey makes itself tough to love and we are just not exactly on the best of terms right now so please no crazy Jersey-is-great-you're-the-one-who-sucks comments. I'm just trying to cope with losing my case.

p.s. I tried to increase the font size and my efforts failed the first time. I'm going to try one more time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

wish me luck . . . and lots of it!

I don't focus on my work too much around here for a variety of reasons I won't get into that mostly come down to not wanting to be fired. But I am going to divulge a tiny sliver of work because I'm anxious/excited/nervous/worried/scared/anticipating and did I mention worried? about tomorrow. I am going to arguing my first big hearing. I've been in and out of court rooms many, many times over the last few years and I am, for the most part, comfortable there. Of course, most of the time I sit back, listen and take notes and criticize the speaker in my head as to what they should have said. Sometimes I have to say things like "I concur with the form of the order" or make minor arguments. No big deal. I'm comfortable with that. Which is why it is time to stretch.

Tomorrow morning I will be arguing a major objection to opposing counsel's motion. I represent one of 22 different parties who have joined this objection (of which I was the principle author). This group of 22 parties have selected me to argue on their behalf. So I am not only arguing this thing for my client, but for 21 other parties as well. Shoot, I might be psyching myself out by writing that down.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is to ask for your well wishes, your crossed fingers, your prayers, your positive thoughts and good vibes, and if you have a wishbone, birthday candles, shooting star or stray eyelash to make a wish on, that might help as well. I will definitely return the favor in your hour of need - you know, for Karma's sake. Please send this positive force my way around 9:30 EST tomorrow morning as I will be needing all the help I can get to quell the butterflies in my stomach, steady my hands and voice and keep my body temperature from swelling too high (you know, so I don't sweat too much) as I step to the podium all while looking calm and serene and smart like a real lawyer should. Maybe I will wear my glasses to help with the looking smart thing.

Alright, back to prepping. I should probably go home so I can start practicing my arguments in the mirror.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

bits and pieces


A few odds and ends of what I've been up to lately:

* just finished my taxes - WOOHOO!
* someone please remind me this isn't nearly as painful as I always anticipate and tell me to just do it in January! or maybe February! Or at least sooner than April 13th
* against the advice of others, I watched I Am Legend. Hated it. No, that doesn't quite explain it. This movie made stressed me out, made me anxious and nervous and afterwards, I was completely shook up! I do not remember hating a movie this much in a very long time. Why did I even watch it? And why did I finish it? Ugh, my stupid curiosity. The movie was filmed all over my neighborhood and I saw the film crew constantly during the fall of 2006 and even saw Will Smith and the dog a block from my apartment one Saturday morning when they were filming the scene when the red race car was zooming around the empty city streets. I felt connected to this movie and wanted to see bits of my neighborhood I guess. It wasn't worth it. And here is a big fat **SPOILER** I HATED that they killed the dog. Hated it. I even saw it coming and it absolutely wrecked me as I sat on my couch on Friday night procrastinating my taxes. I would have been better off doing taxes rather than subject myself to that horrible angst. It wasn't like when Old Yeller died, this just came across as a giant emotional manipulation by the stupid movie trying to freak me out and exploit my attachment to Will Smith's character's one and only living friend. Oh, and the creepy rabies/zombie/vampire people? They were the creepiest, scariest things I have ever seen. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE!
* Saturday I went to a bridal shower in Connecticut, it was a beautiful day and it was nice to get away from the City for a bit and enjoy the views of the ocean from a quaint little yacht club.
* We played the toilet paper wedding dress game and I actually thought it was fun - mostly because the other girls were a lot of fun and didn't mind when I kept telling them our dressing looked like a Civil War nurse, then a nun, then sort of mummy-ish, yet I failed to offer helpful suggestions for improvement. We didn't win.
* I had to speed back to the City to prepare for the ward activity which meant I left my apartment at 830 am, stopped briefly between 4 and 430 to change and grab some supplies, then didn't return until 930 pm. That equals a long and exhausting Saturday.
* Friday night I made Pioneer Woman's sheet cake for the activity - it was delicious (or at least I thought so). But somehow the dumb store-bought desserts got eaten before mine and I had to cart half a sheet cake home to tempt me into adding another 10 pounds to my already 10-pound overweight butt. I thought I was being clever by adding some chili spiced ganache since the activity was a chili and chocolate cook-off, but maybe people didn't like it. Oh, well.

* Enjoyed showing a friend, her daughter, sister and mother around NYC today and had a great time brunching at Alice's Tea Cup, wandering through Central Park - who needs DC when we have cherry blossoms this beautiful right here in my own City? - went to the Museum of Natural History, wandered around in SoHo, grabbed snacks at Rice to Riches and Pinkberry (it really is as good as all the hype), oh, and some chocolate from Vosges and stopped in the Louis Vuitton store for my friend's sister (I told her that although we might mock her desire for one of those bags, we were happy to indulge her fantasies at the same time), took a time-out in my apartment, admired the view from my roof and finished up with dinner at Vynl. I think I would call this the Alyssa Special Tour of NYC. It was a great day.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Part XV: a very married Christmas

It wasn't all bad. Why else would I have stayed if it was all bad all the time? The good is just harder to remember. As strange as it may sound, it is far easier to cope with a failed marriage by boiling it down to all the bad and focus solely on his faults (as opposed to mine) and ignore whatever positives may have existed rather than dwelling on why I loved him. Because that just hurts. Besides, time and perspective have a tendency to twist the good into bad and highlights how low my threshold for "positive" had fallen. Generally, if I ever have to respond to the question of why I am divorced, I will glibly respond "you name the problem, he had it." While there is some truth in that, he had to resort to calming and soothing at some point to keep me put.

It took me a very long time to even consider leaving Mitch. Partly because I was raised with the idea of marriage lasting forever and partly because I am not a quitter. I have incredible stick-to-it-ive-ness (seriously, it's a word) that prevents me from quitting early. Once I start something, I want to make every effort to complete it to avoid feeling like a failure. And that is the key - I really hate failure, which motivates me to push through a lot of rough stuff. Like the first months of adjusting to marriage.

Besides, by December I was enjoying (yes, enjoying) our first Christmas season together. In my revisionist memory, much of our fighting went on hold and we started talking to each other again and liking each other again. The pre-Thanksgiving hit/punch/slap incident was forgiven and forgotten. I would not have even remembered it less than a month later since I had squirreled it so far away into the deep recesses of my subconscious. We were finally enjoying being newlyweds. I thought the only thing standing in the way of us and happily-ever-after was moving away from the temptations his brother so readily provided and the judgmental eye of his parents.

Our small, but fat, lopsided Christmas tree occupied the bulk of our small living room. We decorated it with some old mismatched bulbs and lights my mom donated to us from her collection. Almost every night during December, we sipped hot egg nog in the dim glow of lights from our tree. Mitch introduced hot egg nog to me and, at the time, I fell instantly in love with the thick, rich beverage diluted with a bit of milk to cool it after the inevitable overheating. Not surprisingly, I've never tried heating egg nog again and I believe last Christmas was the first time I've tasted it in years. I could barely drink it.

Cozily sipping egg nog next to our tree we talked about our future together and the things we would buy each other for Christmas if we had any money in our bank account. Oddly, I do not remember baking during that Christmas season which may be the only Christmas I can remember during which I did not bake. This could have been due to finals but that never stopped me before or since - even in law school I managed to squeeze in some Christmas baking after, and sometimes during, finals. Another challenge could have been my two week work stint in Salt Lake or maybe it was all the time I spent enduring the flu.

At some point that December I was struck with one of those horrifically memorable flu viruses. The type you always remember as "The Christmas Flu Death Encounter of 1995" or "The Terrible Night I Spent in My Sister's Bathroom the Christmas of 2006." The type of flu that grants instant empathy whenever anyone thereafter mentions the flu because the pain and weakness are vividly remembered years later. This is the type of flu that acts as an incentivizer for seeking out a flu shot each October.

While I was confined to my bed for a day or two or week (the timeline is fuzzy), Mitch displayed his most tender side. He waited on me hand and foot, fetched me soup, sought out movies I would enjoy wathcing and for an unprecedented period never to be repeated, he took over the housekeeping duties of cooking, cleaning and most surprisingly - dishes. Although I do not believe he literally held my excessively long hair back as I threw up, the sentiment of such a gesture was certainly there. My incapacitation gave him the opportunity to step up and he did - however briefly - and it reaffirmed, renewed and even deepened my commitment to him.

By Christmas day, I was back to normal and unprepared for what I generally view as the worst Christmas of my life (with a couple of recent challengers). This dark view of Christmas 1995 is partially due to revisionist history, but mostly it is tied to one key incident. Had our marriage endured, Christmas morning would have dominated my memories and everything else would be a quirky story about my first Christmas with my in-laws.

Despite our lack of money, we were looking forward to exchanging gifts and I know I put a lot of thought and effort to find something for him - although I have no idea what it was. On Christmas eve we acted like children waiting for Santa. We even slept in the hide-a-bed in the living room so we could enjoy the lights and smell of the tree with Meeka curled up on the floor between the bed and the tree. Mitch had some young nieces and nephews as well as a 4-year old brother which meant we were scheduled to meet at his parent's house early the next morning. But we wanted to have our own Christmas together with our own tree in our own little home. So we set the alarm and woke up extra early, despite staying up far too late.

Again, in an unusual moment of thoughtfulness, Mitch got out of bed first on Christmas morning and made us hot chocolate while I leaned over from my reclined position in the bed and stole a candy cane from the tree. I broke up bits and pieces of the candy cane and dropped them in each of our steaming mugs when he returned to my side without stepping a toe out of bed. He turned on the heat and plugged in the lights and I sat up with my knees pulled into my chest dragging the blankets up around me and clutching my warm mug of hot chocolate with both hands and smiled. In that pre-dawn hour we shared what should have been a common place feeling of security and serenity as we eagerly exchanged long forgotten gifts.

Unfortunately, we could not spend the entire day lazing in our home enjoying the peace and contentment of our own company. Instead, we had to rush ourselves out the door and over to the in-law's house for a chaotic display of torn paper, tears, "no fairs!" and sulking. And that was just me. I don't know why the picture of that morning is so awful but I feel like a spell was broken between Mitch and me as soon as we walked in that house. Mitch has 8 siblings and about half of them were older and married at that time which meant there was a lot going on when we arrived at the designated hour and none of it was happening quietly.

A brief caveat: when one is loved and accepted into a large and rowdy family there is a certain rush to the chaotic fray - intimately knowing one sister-in-law's insistence that she and her child have bows in their hair before unwrapping presents is eye-roll worthy but sweet, the foot-stomping 4-year old impatient to see what Santa brought is a humorous incentive to hurry everyone along, the mother and hostess desperately trying to count to make sure everyone is present and the father calmly taking photos of the tree are endearing displays of their complimenting personalities. But when one does not feel loved and is treated like an outsider and desperately missing one's own family . . . such a scene is just noisy, whiny, stressful strangers ruining Christmas day.

Once all 18 or so people were coralled into the living room and perched on some piece of the couch, a chair or the floor, it got worse. By that time in my own family's Christmas routine we had settled into our leisurely Christmas habits of sleeping in, taking turns unwrapping gifts from one another and enjoying a large breakfast. Our numbers were much smaller at six and we didn't have anyone younger than a teenager but we enjoyed spending time together and we enjoyed selecting personalized gifts for one another which made it fun to watch each person unwrap each gift.

Mitch's family - like most large families - drew names. I don't know who we had or what we got them but I do remember what I received. My mother-in-law had requested a list from me. When my family makes lists it is to spark ideas. We put crazy extravagent things as well as every day necessity items on the list. Like socks. My list that year was small - I didn't think they would get it when I requested a car, tuition and rent for a year so mine included a rolling pin, cds and rag wool socks. And those are the items I received. Exactly. Nothing more and nothing less. It was strange to me because it was different, this wasn't how my family did things and it reinforced how little these strangers knew about me and how little these strangers cared to know about me. They were supposed to be my new family but I felt like I had placed an order for my own Christmas.

I comforted myself by stroking Meeka's head in my lap (not realizing this was the last day I would have her with me) and focusing on the kids as they ripped through the wrapping paper as cameras flashed at them. I didn't have to worry about anyone noticing my disappointment, no one had even watched me open my gifts except Mitch. And even he became distracted by his own gifts before I was finished. Everything was a mad and selfish grab that was over minutes after it started with everyone quickly wandering off to do their own thing as soon as it was complete.

Despite the long distance charges, I must have called my parents three to five times that day. Crying at least once I am sure. Before it was even noon I was ready to go home. But that wasn't an option. Mitch and his brothers and dad had a tradition of playing paint ball every Christmas day. When Mitch described this grand tradition I was excited about it. I had never played paint ball and running through some patch of weeds in the cool December air sounded like a huge relief from the stale overheated air of the house that seemed to be suffocating me. Until I was reminded this was a boys' tradition and I would be hanging around the house with the other frail ladies.

Despite the fact that Mitch's family consisted of 8 boys and one girl, gender roles were strict. The sons helped dad with the yardwork and took out the trash. The sole daughter helped mom cook and clean. On occasion one of the sons would help with dishes but even that was rare. Mitch's mother cleaned the house, cooked the meals and then cleaned it all up afterwards and generally shooed away offers of asssitance. At my house, which was more evenly balanced wtih two boys and two girls, there were no gender divisions with work. When there were dishes to be done - we all had to do dishes. Or, we were assigned in pairs and more often than not those pairs were a girl and a boy. And dishes specifically were an everyone job. I doubt my parents ever made the conscious decision to not confine us to "girl" chores or "boy" chores, but that is how it worked out. And I am grateful for it. I have never felt hindered by my sex and I think my brothers are better men as they enjoy cooking with their wives and both are always quick to assist with the cooking and meal clean-up when they are visiting me or our parents.

Besides, I grew up as a tomboy. I always had a lot of boy friends, I loved running around outside and playing and watching sports and I had never been a girly girl. At 20-years old I hated wearing skirts and had never owned a pair of heels, vowed I would never work at a job which required nylons and rarely to never wore make-up (things change but that was then). I think these were some of the qualities that attracted Mitch to me, to be honest. I was low-maintenance and could wake up and be out the door within 20-30 minutes. I hated the color pink for all the frilly girly-ness for which it stood and as a child swore my favorite color was brown. One of my earliest memories is of watching basketball while sitting on my dad's lap when I was only 2 or 3 (now we just text message during games). I was an absolute daddy's girl which meant I loved almost everything my dad loved. And he loved that. He never told me I could not do or be something based on my gender. In fact, when I made my school's basketball team in 9th grade he would proudly introduce me as his daughter "the jock" and even now I know he enjoys telling people about how his daughter is a lawyer in New York - neither of those two things are traditionally feminine roles.

In my entire 20 years of life leading up to that Christmas, I did not recall ever having been excluded from a family activity for being a girl and I did not take it well. But there was nothing I could do about it after my initial protests. Mitch took our car and I was left with the girls to spend the day cleaning up the morning's carnage and preparing for Christmas dinner. I plodded through the day deepening my attachment to Meeka, entertaining my niece-in-law and mostly waiting to be released from the confines of my in-law's home. I tried comforting myself with the reassurance that before the week was up we would be living in Salt Lake and my weekly (and sometimes more frequent) visits to the in-law's would soon be over but that did not save Christmas.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Three Words

Tiff brought the fun three word game back today. You can see the one I did a year ago here. I found number 7 of last year's crazy since I am wearing animal print shoes today! Find out which animal by reading my new list (which I wrote before I read last year's version):

What I am doing: avoiding my work
What I’m proud of today: not a thing
What I’m thinking about: inserting clever answers
Who is home: only my plants
Plans tonight: watching Jazz game
My weekend was: prizes/repotting/laundry
What’s for dinner: maybe some cookies?
Feelings about love: really need some
Feelings about life: holding pattern now
What I need: spice in life
What I want: change, change, change
What I have: too much stuff
My pet peeve: loud mouth breathing
My guilty pleasure: popcorn m&ms & netflix
What you don’t know about me: I'm often lonely
What I can hear: a printer printing
What I can smell: stale office air
My style: could use updating
My hairdo: overgrown and shaggy
My outfit: black beatnik zebra
My mood: longing for summer
The weather today: far too cold
Thoughts on parenting: a lofty goal
Thoughts on marriage: hope for it
Thoughts on politics: Obama in 2008!
Thoughts on celebrity gossip: avoid Avoid AVOID!
Thoughts on beauty: eye of beholder
Thoughts on sleep: would like more
Thoughts on writing: Keeps me sane (stolen from Tiff)
My favorite appliance: cuisinart food processor
My favorite car: don't need one
My favorite splurge: plane ticket home
My favorite beauty secret: shower every day
My favorite treat: hot fudge brownie
My favorite everyday pleasure: walking through NYC
Ten years ago: started law school (!!!)
Five years ago: worked for judge
One year ago: Easter in Boston
One year from now: making big change?
Five years from now: married with kids?
Ten years from now: crazy old spinster?
I’m famous for: my dance moves
I’ll never be famous for: my beautiful handwriting
Who I am: huge Jazz fan
Who I hope to be: wife and mother
What I’m thankful for: all my readers

Now, your turn!

Monday, April 07, 2008

click here for some laughs

and . . . DONE!

I warned you that I might come to my senses and delete these photos and I did. I hope you all had a good laugh at my expense!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

WINNERS!

Thank you everyone for the overwhelming response to my little contest. I was hoping I could bribe a few readers out of hiding but I never even hoped I would nearly quadruple my prior comment record! Thank you one and all!

Now, for the prizes:

GRAND PRIZE:


1st RUNNER UP PRIZE:


Oh, you want to know who won these fabulous prizes, right? Well, in order to keep everything on the up and up and avoid any accusations of favoritism in my unsupervised contest, I decided to video myself pulling the names out of a hat.

Actually, there were too many names to fit easily in a hat so I switched to a bag. I'm not entirely sure this was a smart thing to do - put a live version of myself here - but I played around with my imovie program and it was so fun and easy I have to share the result (even if it is just me talking!):


If you can't see the video, the winner of the grand prize is:

As for the runner up prize, and a few others, watch and see here:

The winner of the first runner-up prize is:

And the winners of my Spring 2008 cd are:


And the winner of a fresh batch of cookies is:


And since I still had a few more prizes lying around after I shut off the camera and I wanted to reward a first time commenter, I pulled out all the names of bloggers I know and left in all the names of the first time (or very recent first timers) and this is who won - and what she gets:


To claim your prize, please email me your address at soulfusion10019 AT gmail DOT com. My plan is to drop all prizes in the mail first thing Monday (or as soon as you get me your address).

Thanks again all for playing. I had fun so I think we will have to do this again sometime, stick around!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It's Official

This is post number . . .


500!!


WOOHOO!!

To celebrate, I have decided to make an attempt to bribe my blurkers out of anonymous hiding and offer a fun and fabulous prize giveaway to a couple of lucky commenters. Although I have not yet determined exactly what the prizes will be, here are a few ideas to lure you in.

GRAND PRIZE: The New York prize pack
I plan on collecting a few of my favorite things from around town when I'm out and about on Saturday, including (but not necessarily limited to) the following:
My latest candle obsession:

My latest chocolate obsession:

My favorite shopper bag:


If I have enough comments, meaning more than 10 (a lofty goal, I know), in addition to one lucky winner receiving the grand prize, I will also give away an assortment of other prizes which may include one of the above items or might just consist of one of the following:

*homemade cookies

*a specially crafted SPRING! cd mix
*and/or some other fun surprise I find during my Saturday wanderings, most likely something purchased from a street vendor

The rules are simple:
1) You can only comment once (restrain yourselves!)
2) You can't be anonymous to eligible - because then how would I know who won?
3) You don't have to be a blurker to play - all my regular (and irregular) readers/commenters are eligible
4) You must submit your comment by 9 pm EST on Friday, March 4th

I've seen these giveaways around the blogs before and I think they are fun. To select a winner(s if more than 10), I will put the commenters names in a hat and randomly pick out the winner(s). I know some people get all fancy with numbers and randomized selectors or something but I am just not that high-tech at the moment.

So come one, come all, join in my celebration and leave a comment. I know it is difficult to come out of the woodwork to make that first comment on a stranger's blog but this is your chance to tell me what is on your mind.

UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming number of comments (THANK YOU EVERYONE! I LOVE THEM!) and the fact that I will not have the prize packages put together until tomorrow evening, I am extending the deadline until Saturday, April 5th at 6 pm EST. Now, don't worry about this decreasing your odds at winning because I have decided to expand the number of winners . . . final number of prizes will be determined tomorrow when I have all the loot. I will post the exciting results tomorrow night with the next divorce segment (hopefully) not too far behind.

Have a great weekend all - now I need to concentrate on the Jazz game.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Part XIV: Changes

As was always the case in college, finals arrived quickly after Thanksgiving and I somehow managed to keep my gpa high. I have no idea how Mitch performed on what I suspect were not only his first, but last college exams. At the end of that quarter, in addition to the usual stress of enduring finals, we were emotionally and financially strained. And although there was no way for me to realize it at the time, I was increasingly psychologically strained from being unwittingly guided down the slow and steady path of manipulation by my new husband. I learned to absorb all blame and grasped for quick explanations and solutions to offer to appease any discontent.

After finals we had three weeks before the next quarter was scheduled to start. In an effort to ease the financial strain, I volunteered to go to Salt Lake and work for the two weeks before Christmas. Since the summer before my senior year of high school, I had resorted to temp work to earn fast cash on my time schedule. Which meant, by the time December of 1995 rolled around, I had a go-to temp agency with whom I had a good reputation for being a diligent worker.

Shortly after finals, Mitch and I parted ways as he stayed in Cedar City to work and I worked as the receptionist in some sort of aircraft manufacturing plant near the Salt Lake airport. I stayed with my parents but felt miserably lonely. Despite the considerable bumps and arguments, I was still optimistic about our future together and blamed anything and everything but him for our problems. I even blamed myself. I knew I had a short temper and an inability to bite my tongue. Of course he fought back. At that point, just past three months into marriage, it had not yet even occurred to me that we might not last. I blamed all our problems on the stress of adjusting to marriage, the stress of no money, the stress of Mitch starting school, the stress of Mitch's brother living near by. I did not see that there was any irreparable damage between us. When Mitch came back to Salt Lake to collect me before Christmas, I was excited to see him and happy to end my loneliness. I was confident that the $400 or so I had earned would buoy us up.

At some point over those two weeks, we made the impulsive decision to move to Salt Lake. I was registered for winter classes at SUU but as soon as the idea was floated that we move - I pounced on it. I instantly decided that moving to Salt Lake would solve all of our problems. We could both have jobs, those jobs would pay more money, we would be further away from his family, we would be far away from his heroine addict menacing brother on whom I heaped all the blame for Mitch's wavering testimony and odd behavior, we would be closer to my family, we would be closer to my friends and we would be closer to two of his "good" brothers and his best friend. It was quickly decided and settled - after Christmas we would move to Salt Lake. Things seemed to fall into place easily and we found an apartment in the same four-plex as my only other married friend without even looking.

I dropped my class schedule at SUU without a word to any of my professors. Professors with whom I had developed great relationships. One professor in particular had pulled many strings my freshman year to not only get me a scholarship but to also procure me a housing grant so I didn't quit after my first quarter of school for lack of money. I dropped out of SUU one conducting class short of a music minor and only two quarters short of graduating. Not only did I not tell my professors I was leaving, I did not tell any of my friends I was leaving. Like most college towns, winter break leaves campus fairly empty so there was no one around to tell about my abrupt change during the few days we were there around Christmas. Marriage had already removed me from the rock climbing scene I had loved so much but I still ran into friends on campus and tried to go climbing on occasion. But the timing of our decision to move didn't give me a chance to say goodbye to anyone and I never saw any of those friends again.

With that move, I gave up rock climbing, I gave up my music minor, I gave up a smattering of other non-transferrable college credits, I gave up several friends, I gave up playing in the jazz band, I gave up playing the saxophone, I gave up regularly playing the piano, I gave up relationships with professors, I gave up a nearly perfect gpa, I gave up early graduation and I gave up the college town I loved.

But for some reason I knew it was what I had to do to fix what was wrong with my marriage.

For some reason, before we returned to Cedar City for Christmas and to pack up, we went to the Utah Humane Society. This was the first of my many attempts to reach out to a four-legged creature in an attempt to fill the lonely void that was my marriage. Perhaps I wanted to stop and look at the dogs at the Humane Society to gain something with the move, even before I fully realized all I was about to give up. There were yippy, excitable puppies who were confident they were leaving soon. But there were also many sad and rejected eyes staring out of cages as well as many mean and angry eyes menacingly glaring and barking at anyone who walked by. Then there were the closed eyes. The defeated dogs who were resigned to their circumstances and kept their heads down, facing the back of their cage with their back hunched toward any curious onlookers. These dogs had lost hope. I was looking at the stages of my marriage in all those eyes - the innocent excitement, the sad shock upon discovering reality, the flashes of anger over the injustice and finally, defeat.

We were told we needed the consent of our landlord to pick a puppy so we turned to leave. It was an unseasonably warm December day when we walked out onto the sidewalk toward our car. The sun was shining brightly and a large woman was leading but mostly dragging a very reluctant and dirty German Shepard mix dog toward the doors we had just exited. My heart jumped. You are only supposed to take dogs away from this place, not abandon them here I thought. We started talking to her and discovered she didn't want the aptly named, nervous creature Meeka. So we took her. No paperwork, no landlord checks, we just took the leash from this woman so Meeka wouldn't land in a cage. I didn't think of the consequences of this decision. I just wanted to save her.

We returned to Cedar City shortly after finding Meeka to spend Christmas with Mitch's family and to pack up our small apartment. Meeka was a stinky, gas plagued dog who was scared to death of us. But I loved her. We snuck her into our apartment and I did my best to convince her this was her home. She spent most of her time curled up in a small ball with me stroking her head and scratching behind her ears. She spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with us but then, on December 26th, the day we were scheduled to drive to Las Vegas for Gretchen's wedding, she ran away. Meeka woke up early that morning to go out and I lazily asked Mitch to take her out into the parking lot to do her business. Instead, Mitch let her out on her own without following her. A few minutes later I asked where she was and when we opened the door she was gone. She simply vanished. I ran all around the neighborhood calling her name. Mitch and I drove around Cedar City, stopped at the animal shelter and enlisted his family in the hunt. There was simply no sign of her.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Colorado

No vacation should start the way mine did last Friday morning - sleeping in. My car was picking me up at 7:15 am and I woke up (in a panic) at 6:50 am. I was ten minutes late getting out of the apartment but felt comfortable with the fact that I still had 90 minutes until my flight. Unfortunately it took seventy-five minutes to get to the airport. That's right, I arrived at JFK no more than fifteen minutes before my flight. FIFTEEN MINUTES! I was praying for a delayed flight but my blackberry kept cheerfully telling me my flight was "on time". Lucky for me, I recently (and finally after all the flying I do) reached "medallion" status with my frequent flyer miles which meant I was entitled to use the special entrance at JFK. Also luckily, I was not planning on checking my luggage, so as soon as my car hit the curb, I ran to security and happily found only two people ahead of me piling their things onto the conveyer belt. Unfortunately, there was some sort of rookie manning the x-ray machine and she took forever to look at the three bags in front of me. I was freaking out as I heard last boarding called for my flight. When, at long last, I was released from security I ran, dragging my red roll-aboard suitcase careening behind me with my coat and laptop clutched in my arms. When I reached the gate, there wasn't anyone around and the doors were shut. "Am I too late?" I asked, as I fought back an asthma attack. "Nope, we have to shut the doors," the gate attendant said and then, after looking at my ticket she said "you're the one we've been waiting for" and she handed me a small receipt with a new seat assignment - 1A. I had been bumped to first class! It was the greatest gift.

I met Michele and her baby Eva in the airport and we set off on our adventure. As we drove off the rental car lot she asked me if I had a map. Um, no. But I had directions to Liz's house. We just had to drive west on I-70 for a couple of hours. But we were both hungry and wanted burritos so we relied on my distant and emotionally charged memories of Denver and went in search of burritos.
{Quick aside, my last real boyfriend (the one I'm not completely over) lived in Denver. We dated about 6 months which involved flying back and forth between Salt Lake and Denver. Knowing I would be facing a sea of memories before I even left the airport (the site of all our hellos and goodbyes and the last place I ever saw him), I tried emailing him before I left. He took meeting up off the table by conveniently leaving town for the weekend. It was actually comforting knowing there was no way for me to see him - he was in Arizona.}

I remembered my way around Denver much better than I expected and we ended up on the 16th Street Mall on a beautiful 60+ degree Friday afternoon. I reminded myself how much I love Denver. It is such a great city. And I was happy to discover that my fond memories weren't just tied up in nostalgia. It is a fun city even when I am not in love. Somehow as I tried to figure out how to get back to I-70 I discovered I was driving to his old house. I have no idea how I remembered where he lived or how to get there but suddenly I knew where we were going - and luckily it was also the same direction as the freeway. Michele and I decided to stop in the biggest REI ever to wander around a bit before our two hour drive. This certain ex-boyfriend and I used to walk from his house on Saturday mornings to the Starbucks in REI and read the NY Times at an umbrella table on the patio overlooking the river. Then we would wander through the mega-REI and pick out or dream about all the fun toys.



Although I was tempted, I did not indulge my nostalgia and I did not drive by his old house (I believe he now lives in Boulder). Instead, we drove through the scenic mountains outside Denver to see Liz - where I encountered even more memories and realized I have explored a lot more of Colorado than I previously thought. Michele is one of the best road trip buddies one could ask for. We listened to music, sang along and pretended to write a rap song for Liz and the two hour drive flew by. She even patiently listened to all my "hey, I've been there before!" and the odd memories that kept dropping in on me.

When we made it to Eagle, we saw the promised sights - including the Loaf 'N Jug. But the best part was our welcome committee - Anna and Michael were at the top of their street waving at us as we turned in and raced us on their bikes down the street to their house where Liz was waiting with the oh so cute Tucker - their new Golden Retriever puppy (who I fell in love with instantly!).


(a welcome sign the kids made)
It is far too late for me to describe all the good times we had - and mostly it involved eating, staying up too late, talking and falling a little more deeply in love with these two women who I am lucky enough to call my friends of 16 or so years. Here are some of the best parts:
*baked french toast deliciousness with bacon

*playing Killer Bunnies
(Liz clearly won)
(Michele lost)
(and so did I)
*Guitar Hero




*walking the trail to the park at the end of the street
*making red velvet cupcakes, yes, I make personal house call tutorials and here I am overseeing the project:



*eating lots of peanut butter m&ms
*playing with the puppy

*playing with Eva

*being entertained by Anna singing High School Musical
*Sunday night dance party in the living room
*lots of laughing and silliness


*a few tears and supportive words
*discovering facebook together
*introducing Liz's kids to Michele's specialty - bean crisps!


*did I mention the puppy?


*what about cute Eva?

Unfortunately the weekend was over before any of us was ready (okay, maybe they were ready, I don't know). Michele and I woke up at a ridiculous hour to allow plenty of time to make the drive back to Denver in the now snow-covered canyons. It was a beautiful morning:



In the twenty miles between Eagle and Vail we were stalled by three accidents.
(here we are hanging out in the parking lot highway). The roads were wet, then slushy then icy as we climbed up toward Vail Peak and stayed slushy and icy most of the drive. We made it safely to the airport and we somehow made it on time - taking a little over three hours instead of two for the drive. This morning I learned we were luckier than we thought - a few hours after we made the drive, there was a 50-60 car pile-up on I-70 causing the freeway to be shut down. I lucked out once more on my flight home and was bumped to first class again. I love it but I'm afraid to get to comfortable with these perks as I won't want to go back to coach again.
Related Posts with Thumbnails