Monday, March 30, 2009

DC and Cake Blobs

This past weekend I went to DC to visit my law school friend Emily I have neglected for far too long. As a bonus I was hoping the cherry blossoms would be blooming. I was in luck! After meeting Emily and her adorable 5-year old daughter, we walked around the Tidal Basin and wandered around the mall. We visited the Jefferson Memorial and the Eleanor Roosevelt memorial - two sites I had missed on prior trips.
It was a little gloomy and misty but luckily it never rained.
We also visited the Hirschhorn Museum and enjoyed the exhibit of Louise Bourgeois, which included this sculpture out front.
That night we had the great idea to try our hand at making these - Bakerella's cake pops. And before I allow you to scroll down and see how tragic this little experiment was, I will inform you that while I take great pride in my baking skills, in my ability to make baked goods taste delicious, I have never once claimed to be any good at decorating, well, anything. In fact, I am always quick to point out how deficient my decorating skills are. I did, however, have a great amount faith in my friend's ability to decorate. Besides, we have a long history (or at least an old history) of adapting recipes to suit our needs. [We once invented some sort of pear and goat cheese quasadilla thing after seeing something similar to it on tv. I feel like I should try making it again someday.] We dreamed up the cake pop idea shortly before we realized we had gone the entire day without eating and decided that white chocolate chips with food coloring would probably work just as well as the required candy melts. And that my friends is where we went wrong. Or, at least where we initially went wrong.

By the time we were ready to dive headlong into the project another law school friend came over (hi Becki!) and we put her to work as well. I melted the white chips and soon discovered they were kind of thick but I just kept stirring and added the yellow food coloring . . . that somehow turned a little too mustard for chicks. Then we collectively decided - for who knows what reason - to add water to thin out the melted chocolate. This is never a good idea and this is something I should have known but we were also very caught up in reminiscing about people and places and things of times gone by and catching up with where everyone had landed now.

Which means, we each managed to get one cake ball covered with thick and gloopy mustardy looking melted white chocolate with flaking crumbs a piece before . . . [and no, we didn't have sucker sticks either - I'm telling you we just didn't have time to go to a craft store before the project]
the chocolate turned into a solid icky mass. A mess we promptly disposed of.
Improvisation is not always a good thing. But we persisted because what to do with all those cake balls? This time we melted regular chocolate chips and when it proved too thick we each yelled out "butter!" as the best way to thin it out. It was still a messy, not at all like Bakerella affair, but the cake balls - or more accurately Cake Blobs - were tasty and the company was great. And if you have ever wondered how many lawyers it takes to make cake-pops, the answer is more than three.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why Are You Still Single?

Hopefully this won't turn into a rant. Or come across as a rant. I prefer to think of this as a public service announcement for the well-intentioned but often clueless.

Yesterday at lunch a newly single friend relayed an interaction she had with a friend of her mother. At some point in the conversation, the woman made a probably well-intentioned comment that is is far too familiar to single people that went something like this:
"I don't understand why you are single! You are beautiful and smart and funny and talented . . . "

If you are married, you are probably nodding your head in agreement and wondering what is wrong with this statement. It is a compliment, right?

Wrong.

The underlying assumption behind statements such as these is: only stupid, boring, ugly girls stay single, what is wrong with you?

Now, before you get all defensive and start telling me I am reading far too much into this and that I am hyper-sensitive I will add that I am quite sure the woman who said this to my friend (and the majority of people who repeat it), was not consciously thinking "what is wrong with this girl" but I believe the overall sentiment illustrates a societal assumption that single women of a certain age (ahem) must have something wrong with them, a certain defect or fatal flaw if you will, if they aren't married or at least dating someone or going on dates.

Perhaps the single woman in question snorts when she laughs or has anti-phermones that turns men off instead of on or maybe she has focused too much on her career instead of hunting down a husband. But probably she is just bitter that life has passed her by. . . .

UGH!

Sometimes a girl is still single because she hasn't met the right person. Or doesn't meet any people. It is hard once you leave school far behind you. Or maybe, like my friend, she just broke up with her boyfriend of 11 years.

And I realize, if there are any single males out there reading this somewhere, that this assumption is not reserved entirely for the ladies. I once had a bishop (Mormon congregational leader akin to a priest/pastor/rabbi) who, after discovering we shared a mutual single male friend, approached me in all sincerity to essentially ask what was wrong with this friend of his that he couldn't find a wife. He had genuine concern for our friend and explained that he knew this friend tried really hard and asked women out a lot but couldn't understand why he was unsuccessful in his hunt for a bride (my words, not his). Mostly I was relieved that this bishop wasn't trying to push me into this friend's dating cross-hairs and I tried to respond with a joke and asked if he was wondering what this guy's "fatal flaw" was because most of us just don't have that and if I had the power to figure that out I would use it on myself. The answer is rarely as simple as dressing nicer, losing a few pounds or even tempering one's personality.

Perhaps those of us who remain single into our 30s focused on the wrong things in our 20s or took some untraditional relationship detours (like an ill-advised marriage or a decade long but ultimately dead-end boyfriend). Or maybe we just plain weren't as lucky as those who met their match in junior high English class or in the student union building in college or sitting in their front yard watching a guy ride his bike down the street or in a singles ward before we got kicked out for being over the hill at 31 . . . .

My aunt was single until she was 38 and we lived together when I was a first year law student and we had many, many long conversations about the trials and tribulations of being single (and the fun things but those aren't relevant here). One conversation has always stuck with me and it struck me this morning as my trainer told me about her dating ups and downs this morning. This may sound pretentious or snobby or whatever but I don't care, I am just going to say it. Some people are pretty generic and adaptable and can easily be matched with a whole variety of personality types. Others of us are not. There is a narrower portion of the population who appeals to us and we appeal to a narrower portion of the population as well. Some may call this picky, I call it selective and knowing what I want. I've settled before but I do not need to do it again.

Several years ago I was discussing this theory with a male friend of mine (who, incidentally, was one of the most beautiful boys I have ever known in real life and yet, after I got over the initial crush at first sight, I was fine with just being a good friend and dating counselor because he was far too much of a flirt for me to ever have serious interest in him) who agreed when I explained this theory to him. I confided that I felt like when men make a list in their head of what type of wife they want they will almost never describe me: loud, ambitious lawyer who laughs a lot but is extremely opinionated - or something to that effect. No, most of the guys I know (the Mormon ones at least) would describe a sweet and supportive elementary school teacher, a blond one. Not that there is anything wrong with any of that. It is just not me and never will be. So, in order to ask me (or a girl like me) out, the guy has to get over the hurdle of casting aside his preconceived notions of what he wants. This was confirmed by an ex-boyfriend of mine (times two, we tried a couple of rounds of dating) who, several years after we realized we made better friends than er, lovers, explained to me that when we were testing out dating round number two, he had a difficult time getting past the whole lawyer thing because it just did not fit into the picture of how his domestic life would flow. Ultimately, I wasn't anything like his mother. Shortly after we broke up, he met his now wife. He explained that he realized when he first met her that he was attracted to her intellect and needed someone he could make an intellectual connection with - not a mother to iron his shirts. I vividly recall him exclaiming "I can iron my own shirts!" He said a guy will have to get over that hurdle of assuming I need to be like his mother as well. See, I am just not what guys expect in a wife.

And that is the complicated answer to why I believe I am still single despite - like my friend - being attractive, smart, funny, successful, blah, blah, blah. Oh, and that whole I haven't met anyone with whom I am interested in spending the rest of my life (not to mention eternity).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

some rambling and nonsense

Sometimes when I haven't blogged for a while I have a hard time jumping back in unless I have something really great to say. Or I at least have the time to say what I want to say in some really great way. But as you can tell by the overly bland words I've used in the last two sentences, I clearly have neither. Actually, that isn't true. I have some ideas and even some rough sketches of posts I want to write but I haven't had the time or the inspiration. Or the inspiration hits at inopportune times like when I'm walking to work or when I'm putting my head on my pillow for the night.


Which brings us to this post. Nothing much to say other than:

Hello, internet. Have you missed me?

I'm back in New York (a.k.a. the inexplicably bitter frozen tundra that forgot to turn into spring) and back at work.


La la la.


Soon I hope to share some great memories of my grandma that have been close to my heart for the last couple of weeks. Mostly because I need to write it all down. I learned a lot about my grandmother's life - as tends to be the case at most funerals I have attended. I also met some not too terribly distant relatives and learned some fascinating history about our joint ancestors which has inspired my next vacation . . . I also spent a lot of time with my family and learned it takes 5 hours to coordinate three flights from three different east coast cities into Salt Lake City.

My siblings and I also realized we had never all four taken a road trip together - you know, as adults without our parents. We have probably road tripped in nearly every other combination - I have driven across the country with Nick and Erin as well as to the Fiesta Bowl, Erin and I drove around all of Iceland together and have driven to LA, Jason and I have driven to DC together and the boys have caravaned across the country and driven to Seattle and Moscow, Idaho on separate trips together. Nick and Erin drove to Jason's wedding from SLC to Albuquerque and we've had a variety of combinations driving to visit grandparents in Idaho or St. George. But this drive with all four of us was a first. And we had a great time catching up, listening to music, car dancing (a specialty of ours) and laughing. The drive felt very short.

I have one humorous tidbit I want to share. Or at least it was funny when it happened and hopefully I can capture it in words adequately enough to make you smile.

One of my brothers and I flew into Salt Lake late Saturday night and the other brother arrived on Sunday just before we started our historic road trip (after a quick lunch at the delicious Red Iguana). By the time we reached Idaho Falls, caught up with our parents, our uncle and aunt and met the variety of people who streamed in and out of my grandma's house to pay respects, had dinner and checked into the hotel, I was exhausted.

But when I started to get ready for bed I realized I had forgotten something as I knew I would in my rush to pack - contact solution. Argh! I called the front desk hoping we were at the kind of hotel that kept small samples on hand. We weren't. But the woman gave me directions to a nearby WalMart which she described as being "across the street" and then proceeded to give me directions involving turning left out of the parking lot and proceeding straight throught the next two lights until it was on the right . . . . in my book, that is no "across the street". My sister agreed to accompany me while my brothers camped out in front of ESPN to fall into bracketology land.

The WalMart was huge. HUGE! And almost completely empty. We weren't even sure it was open, although it was only 10 or 1030 pm. The bright lights and never ending aisles were pretty overwhelming, especially when my sister decided to talk to her fiance for most of the wandering time. After successfully locating the contact solution (but unsuccessfully able to determine why the few people left in the store kept staring at us!), I decided we needed some snacks. Specifically, I wanted Cadbury mini-eggs and searched high and low for them. After locating a pretty puny specialty bag of all-blue mini-eggs tied with a ribbon, I grabbed some peeps for Nick and some Reese's peanut butter eggs for Jason (although I was really tempted to buy the Reester Bunny!) and went to check out.

There was a long line of checkout points stacked two deep that were completely empty and unmanned. My sister and I walked to the check stand where two blue vested employees were chatting. They ignored us until I asked if they were open. One employee scampered away and the other said - without looking in my direction - "the self-checkout is open, for now." Then he walked away. For now? What does that mean? If I don't hurry it will be shut down as well? Is the store closing? Are you opening? Is someone else opening? Why so surly? I just want to buy some Easter snacks and contact solution and be on my way. I guess the self-checkout was easier than dealing with that attitude anyway.

As we left, I held my stack of goods in my hand since I had neglected to bring a bag with me and remembering a prior Super WalMart experience wherein my brother was forced to walk back 1/2 mile across the store to the register where he checked out to get the receipt he had declined for his Coke by the store greeter, I held my receipt out as I left and the two greeters chattered away and ignored me.

[As an aside, in that prior situation, the aggravating thing was that the checkout guy really should have told us that we would be asked to show the receipt when we left when he asked if we needed a receipt. Instead, when we returned, he said something to the effect of "yeah, I thought you would need to come back for this" and handed us the receipt. If you knew we needed it, why not tell us?]

Back at the hotel I tried to stay up with my siblings but just didn't have it in me. I tried a peep and confirmed that twenty years after I last tasted one, I still think they are gross. Cute, but gross. I found out the Utes got the unbelievable #5 seed and I went back to my room to go to bed. The room was freezing. Freezing! And I couldn't find a spare blanket anywhere in the room and knew the faux duvet on my bed was not going to warm me up too much. Earlier in the evening I had tried increasing the temperature by playing with a thermostat thing on the wall but I now noticed that had not worked because there was a newer system under the window. I turned the heat on and jumped in the bed thinking I would turn it off in a few minutes or tell Erin to turn it off when she got back.

But I fell asleep immediately.

I fell asleep so deeply that I didn't hear my sister come back into the room just 5-10 minutes later.

And she was tired so she went straight to bed and didn't think about the heat.

Until it woke us both up.

At who knows what time in the middle of the night I woke up sweating. The heater had turned our room into a fiery furnace and I tossed back and forth and tried to tear my socks off my feet. I thought I was awake but I was mostly still asleep but I became aware that someone was looking at me so I sat up in my bed and stared straight at my sister who was standing at the foot of my bed.

Assuming I was awake since I was staring straight at her in the dark and shadowy room, my sister quietly asked "are you hot too?"

Apparently this scared me to death because I jumped and let out a startled yell. It was loud. It was the most bizarre thing because I felt like I was awake and knew I was looking at my sister in the dark but as soon as she spoke it freaked me out! It still makes me laugh to think about it.

We both stumbled over to the window and started turning knobs back and forth in the dark until the heat wave subsided and we went back to bed.

Midway through breakfast I remembered the whole thing and we both cracked up about how strangely I acted. I don't know why I think this is hilarious. Maybe because I don't really have a lot of strange sleep stories while my brothers are full of them.

How about you? Do you have a funny/weird sleep story?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Loving Memory

of my grandma who taught me - among other things - how snapdragons got their name
(photo taken in her garden in August 2008)
June 27, 1920 - March 13, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Week (and weekend) In Review

Friday

Hurried to work and rushed to finish up priority items so I could try and switch my flight home to an earlier time. Luck initially appeared to be on my side when I called the airline at 1 pm and was greeted by a very friendly Delta representative who cheerily switched me from the 730 pm to the 4 pm flight for a $50 fee (you can change the day of for $50 within three hours of the flight). I had my secretary arrange for a car to pick me up at my apartment at 150 and headed home. I was already packed but wanted to change into jeans and pack a snack but I was in my lobby by 150 waiting for my car that the service had confirmed was "on time for 150." After almost 5 minutes I got nervous and called. I was told the driver was circling the block and would be "4 minutes" which didn't seem right to me because there was enough open curb space in front of my building to park half a dozen cars. I tried to wait patiently but it was sunny for once and I was so excited to get home earlier than planned. I would have time to have dinner with my family!



Right about the time the doorman (who had been keep a watch out with me) commented that 4 minutes had passed, I was dialing the car service again. I was nervous and feeling more than a little anxious. The dispatcher put me on hold while she "contacted the driver" but I had a bad feeling. It was after 2 pm. So I left my snowboard bag and roller suitcase in my building lobby and went out to the empty curb to try and flag down a cab. At 210 I was in a cab with all my belongings (which my doorman dragged out to the curb for me) and I was still on hold. So I hung up and dialed again and told them to cancel the car. I felt sick and feared I would be pushing it. Especially when - in an attempt to avoid midtown cross-town traffic - my driver opted to drive through the Park and ended up stuck on the Upper East Side trying to get to the bridge. It was aggravating. I turned a movie on my ipod but constantly looked at my watch. It was 230 and I was still in Manhattan! JFK is a terrible airport - I have to go cross town and there is always loads of traffic so I like to leave a minimum of two hours prior to any flight. Even when I'm not checking.



Today I was forced to check because I had my snowboard.



The driver tried all kinds of "short cuts" which I was never fully convinced were actual short cuts but I had no choice but to sit in the back and pray.



I jumped out of the cab, threw money at the driver and ran into the airport to print my ticket (couldn't print my boarding pass at home due to the last minute switch) and check in. It was 320 pm. The kiosk said I couldn't check baggage. The cutoff was 45 minutes prior to the flight at 315.



I was checking in at the nearly empty, newly added Delta Medallion member and first class terminal. There were several agents at the counter, no line and only one person appeared to be occupied. I rushed to the closest open agent and hurriedly explained the problem and begged her to let me on the plane. She refused to look up at me and said I was late and there are signs and wouldn't help me. She then turned to the other agent who was helping a woman who was trying to figure out whether she had to check a bottle of perfume. Another agent walked by and I begged her to help me and indicated that this other woman had been helping but had turned away. At which point Agent #1 whipped back over to me and caustically said "this other woman was here first and I was helping her before you rushed my counter!" She was not helping the other woman. Another agent was. The other woman was not even in front of her counter!



I tried to just back it up and explain why I was so frantic but by now it was nearly 3:30 and I was 15 minutes past the deadline rather than just 5. I was told I had to wait until 430 to see if I could pay an additional $50 to switch back to my original 730 flight.



I almost cried.



Instead I tried to find a bathroom. There wasn't one on the level I was on as far as I could tell so I had to haul my roller, my large purse plus my unwieldy snowboard down an elevator to the lower level which happened to be the baggage claim area. I hated my snowboard at that moment so much. I hated JFK and I hated the entire city of New York for being such a giant pain in the ass to maneuver. I just wanted to go home. I didn't want to be in a dirty, stinky airport bathroom with all my luggage.



I decided I had cursed myself with my smug little airport tips I had posted the day before. The travel gods were not smiling on me this year one little bit.



I dragged my gear back upstairs to the tiny little seating area with a grand total of 4 chairs near the cold doors and called my mom. I threatened not to go home. She was patient and told me to do what I needed to do but they would love to see me.



At 430 I made sure I steered far clear of Agent #1 and waited in line for someone to get free as everyone was helping someone. There were two unmarked lines and both were empty but I was promptly told I was in the wrong line . . . argh! So I moved over two feet and waited some more. When I finally reached the counter I was helped by someone a bit more friendly who reminded me of the $50 fee and I was so fuzzy-headed by then I thought she meant and additional $50 on top of the $50 I already expected. I don't know why I thought that but it made the $50 seem more reasonable now so I forked over my credit card and shook my head at how terrible it was to have paid $100 for a worse seat on my original flight. But mostly I was happy to rid myself of my luggage.



I then had three hours to wait. So I found this odd little nook near my gate where I could plug in my laptop and watched a movie. It was essentially a concrete slab bench thing that was designed for people to plug things in - and there were a number of people sitting with their laptops plugged in trying ot get comfortable on the awkward bench. I dreamed a bit about the beauty and comfort of many of the European airports I have seen and tried to ignore how incredibly uncomfortable it was to sit on a wide bench-type thing where I could either sit on the edge and not have my back supported or I could slide up to the next "step" and have my legs get cut off just below the calf. Not comfortable for people of any size. Some people tried sitting on the little step thing up against the wall but I tried it for a minute and it was too narrow and uncomfortable. The airport claimed to have free wireless but I couldn't access it and just watched a not very good movie instead and ate the food I had packed for the flight.



Lucky for me the flight left on time. But with me in a middle exit row seat instead of the aisle bulk head seat. At least I had leg room and courteous neighbors. On another positive note, I finally saw Slumdog Millionare and Rachel Getting Married - both movies I have been wanting to see for a long time and both were excellent. It helped make the flight pass by faster.



After my second movie I also discovered that the Jazz game was on ESPN! So I tuned in mid-third quarter and got to enjoy watching the Jazz come back from a large deficit to win. And I was actually disappointed when the plane landed 4 minutes before the game was over. I will admit though it was difficult to keep quiet while watching the game. I'm far too used to watching games alone in my apartment or with friends where I can say whatever I want to the tv.



Saturday

As you saw from yesterday's little movie, I could not have asked for a more beautiful day for snowboarding. A snowstorm on Friday left a fair amount of powder and the sun was shining in an exquisite blue sky! I enjoyed an oatmeal breakfast prepared by my dad before heading out and by the time I hit the ski lift, I was thrilled to be home.



After a day of snowboarding, Michele and I decided we deserved a cookie and a hot chocolate and headed down the canyon to Paradise Bakery. Michele was only up for a couple of hours so we were in separate cars. As I left the parking lot, I decided to call another mutual friend to see if she was up for a last minute afternoon treat. No answer but when I was only a few blocks away, she called me back and was - coincidentally - closer to Paradise Bakery than I was! I love getting together with dear friends even when it seems there is never enough time to say everything that needs to be said. As I drove home I decided that was a sign of a good friend - in spite of long periods of time passing by between visits, always having more than enough to talk about.



At home my sister was recovering from an 11 mile run with a nap on the couch. She is training for her first half-marathon and I am completely impressed. I stretched out a bit on the living room floor and finally succombed to using the roller to roll out my legs. If you have ever used a roller you know it can be painful - but ultimately a good thing. It helped my achy legs (that were mostly still sore from the many, many lunges and squats my trainer made me do Thursday morning).



Hunger finally rallied us to get out of the house and after a quick stop at Cafe Rio (yum!) we did a little shopping. My mom and sister and I are not big shoppers. We like getting new things but none of us really enjoy spending time in a mall. Because we were getting dangerously close to closing time, I was dropped off at Macy's while my mom and sister went to get their free Clinique gift at Dillards. I needed jeans. Oh, how I hate shopping for jeans. Especially fat jeans. Which is what I unfortunately needed with a degree of desperation. February was not kind to me (or I wasn't kind to my body) all but the largest of my pants no longer seem to fit. Especially jeans. I had some coupons and a gift card for Macy's so I focused my search there with a large degree of discouragement. What is with the sizes for jeans by the way? Other than The Gap, they no longer seem to come in normal 6, 8, 10 sizes anymore. Or were jeans always this way and I never knew because I only shopped at The Gap or Old Navy for so long? It does take some of the stigma out of going up a size when you don't really understand the 27 or 32 size numbers.

I wandered around aimlessly for a while trying to find something with more than a skinny leg. I picked a pair of Sevens (knowing they would likely be a disaster - why does everyone claim these are miracle jeans?), some "booty" friendly Joe's my sister loves and the horrifying-but-promised-miracles NYDJ (Not Your Daughter's Jeans). Please steer far away from these "slimming" jeans. They are high-waisted mom jeans trying to look cool. Totally ug (on me anyway). Near the end of my search I stumbled into the Lucky Brand section where someone finally offered to help me. The tiny little sales woman was shocked I had never tried Lucky jeans and promised they would change my life. I just liked that they listed lengths and came in the oh so elusive 34 inch length I crave! She dug through some piles to find what we thought would be my size and I carted my pile off to the dressing room. It was not a good experience. I did not guess well at my size.

So I texted my sister and begged her to hurry so I could have back up. She and my mom soon arrived just when I was trying on the booty jeans and for the first time I realized jeans could fit. I liked them. Actually, I loved them. But I was still kind of intrigued by the Lucky's so I asked for a bigger size. The woman hunted for one size up with the generous 34 inch length but could only find two sizes bigger so I took them. I fell completely in love with them. Yes, they are a bit big but who doesn't want a pair of too-big jeans for those bloated days? My mother, being the enabler she is, convinced me to buy both pairs. I wore the Lucky's the rest of the time I was there and they were super comfortable for my long red-eye flight home even.

Sunday
Sunday, after staying up too late, my sister and I slept in and then watched the early morning Jazz game while my parents went to church. We spent the bulk of the day lounging around not doing much of anything. I spoke with my grandparents when they called for a while and decided it is time to pull the trigger on renovating my house . . . scary but exciting too. My mom made an excellent pasta dinner and far too soon it was time for me to pack up and head to the airport.
Monday
I left my snowboard in SLC which means no checked items and no waiting for luggage after the overnight flight. I can't say that I slept well but I did manage to sleep a bit on the flight but I think that is the end of red-eye flights for me. I was home by 7 am and crawled in bed with the intent of sleeping until 10 at the latest. I woke up at 11, was at work by noon but stayed until after 10 pm. Not a fun way to start a work week.
Tuesday
Absolutely nothing of significance happened. I overslept and didn't get to work until 1030. Then I just worked and regretted my inability to sleep the night before.
Wednesday
Again, nothing happened. Except I also overslept but this time managed to get to work by 10. Just work, work and more work. Wow, maybe this should only be a last weekend review. I did make that fun video. Or at least I thought it was fun.
Thursday
Uh, blah, blah work again. I listened to Guster all day after rediscovering it Wednesday making my little video.
Still tired and dragging I left work at 7 and impulsively stopped at the Apple store to buy an external hard drive because my Mac Book is full. That is right - FULL! Lucky for me I ran into a friend from my old ward who works there and she was kind enough to give me her 10% discount. I told her that was not why I asked if she was there and she said "I know, that is why I'm giving it to you." So nice.
Friday
FINALLY Friday!!! So happy about that.
Had a decent workout with my trainer this morning - the only workout of the entire week. Why do I skip it when I actually enjoy it most mornings? My bed is too soft is the answer.
Now I just need to try and focus on some work to make it through the day. Wish me luck.
Now it is your turn, how was your week? Have you adjusted to the time change yet?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

miracle cure

My sweet dog Malcolm is only a month short of his 13th birthday. If you calculate a dog's age with the old 7 dog years for every calendar year formula (which isn't necessarily the most accurate), that puts him over 90 years old. And for context, my best guess is that Malcolm is part black laborador retriever and most likely part Great Dane.

As a slight aside, all I really know is he was born in Leeds, Utah at a house backed up against I-15 in mid-April 1996 to two lanky too-tall black labs. Out of his 10 clamboring siblings who crawled all over me and chewed on my Teva straps one May day, Malcolm was the one to rest his head on my thigh and lock eyes with me as he said "I'm yours, take me home." The lab portion is pretty obvious but the Great Dane was a guess after seeing him meet and greet a couple of true Danes at a dog walk when he was still a puppy. Closing in on 90 pounds his shape and form looked like a miniature of these giants so we've incorporated them into his geneology ever since. Besides, he definitely has the speedy metabolism of a Dane and has remained lean and lanky throughout his life.

Labs are expected to live 12-13 years or a few years longer with good medical care and proper feeding. With a few minor exceptions, Malcolm has lived a healthy life and without exception he has been well fed. Great Danes generally only live 8-10 years, but again with the caveat of hitting 14 if they are well cared for. All of this meaning, whatever his pedigree, he is nearing the end of his life. Which makes me incredibly sad. And reminds me of a fantastic line I recently read in the book (excellent book) Merle's Door recently - and this is not an exact quote: why do parrots and turtles live so long when dogs have such a short life? It really is unfair.

Although Malcolm picked me all those years ago, he moved in with my parents when I started law school and never followed me to New York. Which is a good thing, he is definitely not a city dog. He is too nervous and neurotic and enjoys sniffing the air too much. I make it home fairly often and spending time with Malcolm is always a priority. Most recently our time is spent primarily cuddling as it is more and more difficult for him to move around.

Last summer when his stiffness became fairly acute - including a couple of tumbles down the stairs - my dad started Malcolm on a daily asprin regimin. An asprin hidden in a hot dog I should add. The hot dog being entirely unnecessary since Malcolm has always eagerly gulped down all forms of medications and pills. Heart worm pills? No biggie. Antibiotics for that time he tore open his paw? "Bring it on. But please give me some extra scraps for sympathy." The asprin has helped but he no longer sits easily and he thinks long and hard about heading down the stairs since he knows he will only have to climb back up again.

He has other signs of old age including slight dimensia, selective hearing and limited sight as well as a general reversion to naughtiness not unlike old people. Ok, so maybe all old people don't revert to naughtiness but if my grandma is an accurate representation I can say that at least some do - she throws out pills and claims ignorance and deliberately breaks rules about venturing outside on her own!

Anyway, on Saturday I was at REI returning a few items (that had been lying around my apartment waiting for me to get around to printing a return label since December!) and while I was in line I spied this in a nearby aisle:Curious, but not wanting to lose my spot in line, I asked my sister to hand me the bag when she wandered back my way. I occasionally (when I think of it) take glucosamine for my knee so it made sense that this could help my dog's joints so I bought the bag.

When we got home that evening I gave Malcolm the recommended two for his 90-pound size. He gobbled them up and looked up at me with expectant eyes and perky puppy ears pleading for more. Within the hour he was nearly bouncing off the wall. At 10 o'clock at night. Normally, at that time, he is ready to retire to his cozy bed in the dog house out back. Instead, he was pacing up and down the hall and even did a couple of laps up and down the stairs. As we settled into the couches in the basement my sister and I tried to coax him into resting on his downstairs dog bed - no go. While he did not gallop up the stairs as he was wont to do in younger days - pushing anyone aside who might be sharing the ascent - he moved faster than I have seen him go in quite some time.

The next morning it was more of the same. As much as I would like to take credit for inspiring such youthful energy and exuberance, the only variable that can be credited are these Hip Action treats that come in both peanut butter and "real beef" flavors. Malcolm loved the peanut butter flavor but he really loves most anything (except lettuce), especially when it is presented as a treat and dangled in the air in front of him.

If you have an aging, aching, arthritic dog, I highly recommend picking up a bag. It costs about $15 for a 1 pound bag of about 60 which we figure will last Malcolm about a month. Hopefully the improvement continues!

Vlogging about Snow

This is just a little experiment in video blogging wherein I decided to put my insomnia to good use. For the record, I am not exactly blessed in the technical editing department so ignore the varying fonts and inconsistent fades. Oh, and ignore my voice and my wobbling camera work (remember I was on a snowboard!). Enjoy!

video

UPDATE: the song is Captain by Guster

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

what not to do

I am not adjusting to this new Daylight Saving Time thing at all. It just seems wrong for it to come so early and it caught me by surprise so I was not prepared to spring forward. So I did everything wrong, including:
  • took a quick 48 hour trip to visit family two time zones behind me
  • ignored the time for two blissful days
  • specifically ignored the whole Sunday springing forward thing
  • flew home from the quick 48 hour trip on a red-eye flight
  • went to work Monday after said red-eye flight
  • worked until 10 pm both Monday and Tuesday
The result?

I N S O M N I A

Thursday, March 05, 2009

my two cents

I fly a fair amount. I'm boarding a plane tomorrow in fact. I don't fly a crazy amount like some people who have heavy work related travel. But often enough to know my way around an airport and specifically, how to get through TSA fairly seamlessly. I do not presume to be an expert but I feel I fly enough that I have developed a system that might be helpful for those less than frequent flyers out there. Plus, I'm always looking for good travel tips. Especially packing related. I hate packing so I procrastinate it until the last minute and then I never have quite what I want to wear when I arrive. This is especially exaggerated by the fact that I don't normally travel to places where I am required to wear "business casual" which is about 89% of my wardrobe but I don't usually discover this until I'm packing and only have one or two go-to casual outfits and I'm not even sure if they fit anymore.

But I digress. Here is what I do:
  • always, always, always check in online as early as possible. For most airlines this is a 24 hour in advance deal. It is quick and easy and even if you are checking luggage it generally saves some time. Advantages? Sometimes you can pick a better seat than you originally booked. And if nothing else, in these overbooked flight times, you guarantee yourself a seat on the plane. Airlines will often bump people by the last to check in or they will change your seat if you haven't checked in and the flight is overbooked.
  • if you are checking luggage, utilize the skycap guys on the curb. This will generally save you some time because you rarely have to wait behind more than one person and that way you don't have to haul your stuff through the airport. Of course, you can't use them for international travel or when checking oversized items (like a snowboard). But I find it well worth the tip: I generally pay $2 a bag but wonder if I should pay more. Thoughts?
  • dress simply. I have a uniform because it makes the whole security line thing so much easier. In the winter I wear a black turtleneck with either jeans or dress pants (depending on whether I'm leaving straight from work or home). I avoid wearing cardigans or jackets (unless I have to wear a suit) because TSA will ask you to remove it and that just slows everything down and risks a bit of embarrassment if you aren't willing to walk through in the camisole you wore under your cardigan. In the warmer months I may take a cardigan to layer over a t-shirt but I put it in my purse before I reach security to avoid delays.
  • pack a pashmina. That is just a fancy word for a very large (wide) scarf that can be used as a blanket on the plane since it is more often than not freezing once you are airborn. I pack this item in all but the hottest months because planes get cold when they are cruising at 30,000 feet or whatever. Especially if you are seated at the window.
  • wear slip on shoes that slide off at the last minute to be dumped in the bin on the conveyer thing at security and can be stepped into quickly on the other end. Never boots that take some work zipping on (maybe I'm the only one who owns those) and I only wear sneakers if I'm trying to minimize my packed items (like to Peru).
  • wear minimal jewelry to avoid anything that might set off the buzzer thing and prompt a wanding. No lie, I was once in line behind a woman with two arm loads of bracelets jangling on her arms, tall boots over her jeans and a number of items I have forgotten that she couldn't believe she had to remove before going through. It was a ridiculous delay and could have been avoided if she wasn't trying to compete with Cleopatra in the jewelry department.
  • don't wear a belt. I almost never wear belts to begin with so I do not deem them a necessary fashion accessory. It will only slow you down when you have to take it off and put it back on so just pack it for when you arrive.
  • pack snacks. This is a must. Even on short flights when I do not expect to be hungry, I try to pack one or two snacks because you never know when you will get stranded these days. And when I am on a long flight, I pack a sandwich.
  • bottle of water. I hate that I can't bring my non-explosive water (in my reusable bottle) from home and I hate how crazy expensive water is in the airport but I always buy a bottle. Planes are dry, dry, dry and the free drinks are often slow to come down the aisle. And when they do they generally offer water in that tiny little cup with the gross ice (I never get the ice) that has to sit on your tray table that is cramping your already condensed space. A bottle is always easier. Not to mention good security for those times when the plane runs out (it happens!).
  • pack your liquids in a ziploc bag. At this point, this should go without saying but I am constantly encountering people who are surprised by this rule (I'm usually waiting impatiently behind them in the security line at EWR holding my laptop and ziploc bag!). While this is kind of a pain, I have to admit it makes packing easier. I have purchased several small (much smaller than the 3 ounce upper limit) bottles and pots to contain my various creams and cleansers and shampoo and makeup remover and toner, etc. I keep them replenished and stored in their little bag under my sink which makes packing toiletries much easier!
  • pack a book or magazine or something to entertain yourself. Please, please, please do not rely on your seat-mate for entertainment. If you happen to fall into easy conversation that is mutually desired, great, then you can put away your book. But 9 times out of 10, your neighbor wants to pretend that your arm is not resting up against his or hers and would prefer to escape into whatever he/she is reading. Respect that the headphones are there for a reason (to take me to a happy place where I can fully extend my legs).
  • pack a neck pillow for long flights. You may feel silly lugging it around the airport but chances are you won't be handed a pillow on the plane so it is best to bring one of those funky little u-shaped ones (preferably purchased nowhere near the airport for economic reasons). You can use it behind your neck as was intended or up against the window if you are a window person or sometimes I like just having it to hold onto (security thing? I dunno). I find them useful and essential on any flight over 3-4 hours long despite the fact that I am pretty much incapable of sleeping on a plane (or train or in a car).
  • at the security line selection, respect the now newly implemented self-selection lines (at some, but not all, airports) for Expert/Business (travel frequently, know the rules), Intermediate/Leisure (not quite expert but you have flown in the past decade), Beginner (self-explanatory) and/or Family (people traveling with children). These are one of those great ideas with potential that often fail in the execution because novices (the ones who should steer clear from the Expert line) don't always notice the signs and are already confused by the process (which is confusing!) and the TSA people don't normally point out the differences. Which results in a line of irritated Expert fliers who are backed up behind your Aunt Marge who is flying across the country for the first time in 20 years with all her earthly belongings - including a lengthy list of prohibited items and difficult to remove shoes/jacket/belt, etc. And, incidentally, I have been told by someone in the know that the Family line is great and usually shorter - even at SLC! Just be realistic with yourself and admit when you aren't an expert.
  • maneuvering through security. Now, I am not the type of person who can walk on the plane with nothing but an ipod and book (clearly as I have recommended other items above). I generally do not check (I like to minimize my time in the airport as much as possible) so I usually have a roller suitcase and an oversized purse that contains: a laptop, my travel pillow, some snacks, my ziploc bag, a book, my usual assortment of purse supplies (such as glasses/sunglasses/wallet/cell phone/blackberry/ipod, etc.) with my pashmina looped through the handles. But when I get in line, I prepare for the bins. I put my driver's license/passport away (you won't need it after the TSA guy inspects it at the first check point and scribbles on your boarding pass). I then put my ticket in my back pocket or a side pocket on my purse where I can grab it easily so I can keep my hands free when I reach the convery belt. Then, I take off my coat and I pull my laptop and ziploc bag out of my purse. When I reach the bins I grab two or sometimes three depending on whether I have a coat or how bulky my purse is. In the first bin I put my coat and my shoes. Second bin is my purse (if my coat isn't too big I put my purse on top of the coat with the shoes on the side). Third bin is my laptop and I put my roller suitcase on last. Shoeless and free of all my belongings, I walk through with just my boarding pass (which was either in my back pocket or pulled from my purse once everything was in the bins). On the other end - easy. Slip the shoes on, toss the coat over my arm, collect purse and insert laptop and then grab the roller case and I am off to my gate. I am seriously fast with this process (I should be, I generally go through this routine once a month at least).
  • wait until your zone or seat row is called before bunching up at the gate. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to push through a bunch of impatient passengers pressing up against the gate agent to board the plane. I don't mind the semi-circle that forms at a respectable distance but I do not understand why people rush the gate for airlines that board by row or zone number. Why are you so anxious to get on the plane? Oh, right, because you are afraid you won't have anywhere to put your overstuffed suitcase and giant bag of souvenirs.
  • a word about overhead bins. If you cannot lift your suitcase up and into the overhead bin without assistance, maybe you should check it. I am not trying to be mean to the elderly or the frail (although I did have a very bad experience with this when some old lady reeking of flowery perfume with very well-tailored clothes demanded I put her suitcase in the overhead compartment for her) but if you cannot lift your suitcase on your own you should store it beneath the seat in front of you (HA! Like there is any room there) or just check it. Especially since most of the time I see this problem it is with some young girl whose suitcase weighs a literal ton.

Okay, I think that is all. Sorry the list grew so long but once I started I couldn't stop and I am sure I will think of more as I maneuver through airport security tomorrow. But I am curious, what are your hints and tips for surviving airports?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Unsolved Mystery

One morning early last week I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. Before I climbed in the shower I noticed something strange. A smudge of what appeared to be blue ink on my right ear. Not a lot, but enough to catch my contact-less eye. Odd but not really worth thinking about, right? I have a habit of storing pens behind my right ear (I just realized I have one resting there now, as I type). While I don't normally stab myself in the ear, it is not unheard of that I might accidentally write somewhere on my face while in the process of tucking a pen behind my ear. But I normally notice this as it is happening. And normally it is a faint line. This was smeared blue ink on my ear. Once in the shower I noted there was some ink on my fingers as well. I scrubbed everything extra hard and forgot about it.

Until I was talking to my sister on the phone later in the week. I was lying in bed and noticed my pillow case had some faint blue ink smears. I relayed the odd findings to her and she mocked me and we forgot about it. That was Wednesday.

Friday morning I was meeting my pilates trainer in the gym. I was running late and as I pulled my hair back into a pony-tail I noticed the reappearance of the mysterious blue smudge. But this time it was on my left ear. And there was more of it. I did not have time to dwell on it so I ran up the stairs to the gym and forgot about it until my trainer commented on my blue ear.

At that point I did not have blue anywhere else - I inspected my hands and they were free from mysterious stains.

I didn't inspect the smudge any further before jumping in the shower. But once there I discovered this was a much bigger problem than encountered previously. I scrubbed and scrubbed my ear and in the process my fingers - specifically my nails - became stained with blue. It seemed the more I scrubbed, the more the blueness appeared. At some point in the process of scrubbing, I discovered it was in my hair. And when I say it was in my hair, I mean it was as if my hair had been dipped in blue ink. I had already shampooed and conditioned my hair by this point in my extra long shower but each time I ran my left hand up the underside of my hair on the left side, I came back with more blue. What kind of joke was this? So I poured more shampoo into my palm and scrubbing. The shampoo foamed BLUE!

So I flipped my head over and continued to scrub at my scalp as I watched the water running off my head turn blue. I stood like that scrubbing my scalp upside down until the water ran clear all the while wondering: Is this how one turns into a blue haired old lady? Had I skipped the entire gray hair phase and jumped straight to blue? How on earth did my hair get dipped in blue ink without me noticing? Was there some big glob of blue dye on my hair and ear and possibly neck all through dinner last night? Is there some sort of disease or condition that I don't know about that could be causing this? Is this a candid camera type joke? WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?

Eventually the water ran clear and my hands were no longer picking up the blue when I ran my fingers through my hair so I poked my head out of the shower and confirmed that my ear was no longer blue. After a nearly 30 minute shower, I was somewhat satisfied that whatever was staining my ear/hands/hair was successfully rinsed away.

But what was it?

I went to my bed and ripped off the covers and tossed the pillows around assuming I would find some bleeding pen that had snuck its way into my bed.

Nothing.

The whole pen-behind-my-ear habit could not be responsible because - being right handed - I never store my pen on my left ear.

I checked my cell phone because I made a call the night before in the cab ride home. No blue there.

I checked my couch. I had watched Top Chef before going to bed. No blue on the cushion where I had rested the left side of my head. No pen or marker or ink pad or anything blue in the vicinity there.

I checked the brown knit hat I wore home from dinner the previous night. No blue stain.

I was hoping I would find more answers at work. Not sure why. The blue pen I had used the previous day was a new Uni Ball just pulled from the box Thursday afternoon. Absolutely no signs of leakage.

Two days later I am still flabbergasted by the whole thing. I now carefully inspect my ears for blue stains when I get up in the morning but so far I have been blue free. But the mystery is killing me.

Any ideas, suggestions, thoughts, questions or comments as to the source of my blue stains?
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