Prayers and Loose Change, Maybe
Monday, March 31, 2008
I'm not really that emotional, so you can imagine my surprise when I read this post over at Captain Hambone this evening, and promptly burst into tears. Most of the time I manage to keep a pretty cool head about things...except when it comes to kids and illness. I start empathizing and suddenly, I'm a weepy mess of hot, salty tears about a person I don't even know.

When you stop reading my blog, please click on the green link up there and read the story. If you've recently cleaned out your couch cushions, maybe you could drop a little something into the pot for Emily. This very situation brings out the best in the internet - those who can help do, and those who cannot help financially send their good energy and prayers. I don't necessarily believe in hippie-happy stuff like crystals and karma, but I absolutely believe in the power of positive thinking and HOPE. We are all so immeasurably blessed by having our health and happiness to go along with it.

For years, my only regular charitable donation has gone to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. I think it's money well spent, and in that same vein, I hope you'll find it in your heart to send something to Emily's family to help ease their burdens in this time of unimaginable need.

Aimless Categorizing
Single V. Married: Round I

Winner: Married
Because when you're married (I imagine), you at least can force your significant other to help fold the flat sheets in your linens. Because DAMMIT, my arms are just. not. long. enough.

Add it to the List: Jamie's Pet Peeves

There are hundreds of thousands of engineers in the world. Why hasn't somebody figured out a way to prevent the fitted sheet from turning into a big, gaping 600-count maw that eats all the other sheets, crushes them into wet, wrinkly balls and then devours them for the rest of the drying time with its nasty, elasticized mouth?! Why?!


Sounds like SOMEBODY did one too many loads of laundry tonight.

I Kan Has Wahrrm Wether Plz?
Here in Chicago, we have entered a very magical time of year. Most people call in Spring, but we know better. We don't really get a spring season. Winter usually sticks around in some gloomy, half-assed form or fashion until one day *BAM* it's 95 degrees in the shade and we're all dying, wondering whether we'll live through to see the end of August.

The gloom, according to Weather.Com, is here to stay this week. Unfortunately, so are the chillier temperatures. A high of sixty is nice, but since that will be happening while I sit inside an office, I don't really give it much merit. So when you think about it, we are really just stuck in a prolonged, wet winter state that makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs with grapefruit spoons. This morning, it wasn't raining but it wasn't dry out either. It was both, and it was IRRITATING. Kind of like being hit in the face intermittently by really cold sneeze clouds. Only without all the germs and the sneeze smell (you KNOW what I'm talking about). Ahem.

Do you think if I put all my winter clothes away for the season, and started putting my summer clothing into my drawers and closets, that it would make a difference? What if the Universe is waiting for me to shave my legs and put on a pair of bermuda shorts? DO YOU HEAR ME UNIVERSE? DO I NEED TO SHAVE MY LEGS? IS THAT WHAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE?! DON'T MAKE ME TURN THIS CAR AROUND.

Feeling Stressed
Life has been really good lately - wonderful friends, amazing travel, and maintaining my weight with little/no effort - but somehow I still feel stressed. Is it possible that I just need to have a little stress going on in order to keep me going? Is that incredibly dysfunctional? Every time I try to relax, I always wind up feeling too self-indulgent. I just need to learn to re-wire my naturally highstrung tendencies, I guess.

What keeps you sane in stressful times?

Friday, March 28, 2008
These articles are dedicated to my best friend Kate.

She doesn't believe that cheerleaders or dancers are athletes.

I love her and would never sit in judgment of her personal choice in sports, but after she quietly admitted her opinion, laughing nervously as she saw the instant, white-hot flash of anger run across my silent face, I've been thinking a lot about the issue.

For the record: Kate is a talented runner - extremely driven, thoroughly competitive, and has completed multiple marathons. I'm hugely proud of her achievements. I'm not angry with her opinion (or her, for that matter) - she's entitled to her own thoughts, and it is certainly not the first time I've heard somebody echo this sentiment.

The issue, in general, is what I'm really trying to get at, I suppose.

I am tired of defending my former life as an athlete - the 3-4 hours spent in the gym every day (or in the equally-as-demanding studio - or both), the restrictive dieting, the threat of weigh-ins and measuring sessions, the constant pressure to move well, smile, and look good while doing it all - oh, and don't forget - sweat is really unattractive, so try not to do that either. And let us not forget the constant, unspoken introspection that leaves each dancer internally pitting themselves against every other dancer in the room - are my thighs too muscular? Do I look manly in this tank top? If the coach notices that I'm limping, do you think she'll pull me from this weekend's game? Why IN THE HELL can't I remember to pivot on 4 instead of 3, DAMMIT! FOCUS!

No one expects swimmers or marathon runners to look good, do they? Of course not. The right shade of lipstick has no place in the world of the stereotypical "athlete," and I'm always horrified at how quickly dancers and cheerleaders get labelled "fluff," or "bimbos," and *SNAP* just like that, they're instantly dismissed away into the never-neverland of auxiliary sport groups. Yet, the first person to get criticized is a larger or curvier cheerleader - and not because she doesn't look "athletic" enough. Argh. I'm off the topic.

What is it going to take for people to JUST GET IT, ALREADY?! I find it incredibly difficult to try and enlighten people without inadvertantly proselytizing (which I admit is totally obnoxious) - but when I stumble upon articles like the ones above, I can't help but pass them along. The whole debate confounds me, it really, truly does.

Holy Cow
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Courtesy of the Great Chinese State Circus:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Sick last night and all day today - finally getting my strength back enough to sit up at the computer. Me thinks food poisoning, or maybe just stress. Not sure. In a fit of energy after my second glass of flat 7-up and piece of dry toast, I started uploading vacation pics to Flickr, only to have it die on me. STUPID FLICKR! I don't have the energy to deal with it, therefore, no pictures today or probably tomorrow. I will try to have a post done, though, because that is how much I love all of you.

Number 2
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Just a little tip from me to you:

The only way to make sure the dog poops twice on his morning walk is to throw away the poop bag after the first pooping.

Read, and Loved
Monday, March 24, 2008
Talk about an eye opener...

The average food item on a U.S. grocery shelf has traveled farther than most families go on their annual vacations. True fact. Fossil fuels were consumed for the food's transport, refrigeration, and processing, with the obvious environmental consequences.

This book manages to be gripping in a way only a non-fiction book can be, and yet it does not preach. Awesome.

Days 7 & 8: Seattle
The last two days of vacation were a serious blur of activity - the weather in Seattle (excepting a rainy patch early on Sunday) was gorgeous with lots of sunshine to dry up the hills and sidewalks. After the best breakfast i've ever had in my life (seriously), we wandered around Pikes Place Market and took their guided walking tour. It was led by a lovely woman named Joan who has lived in Seattle since the mid-50's, and boy did she know her stuff. We got a bunch of fantastic tidbits of information that I was unable to find on the public placards hanging around the place. Also, a wall of gum of which I am simultaneously in awe and frightened by. It mostly just made me desperately want to wash my hands.

Then it was off to the other side of town for a cheesy, touristy must - The Ducks of Seattle. Our tour guide was part clown, part comedian, part historian - this is something I would DEFINITELY recommend to anyone as a primer of Seattle geography, history, and it's also fun. As long as you don't mind everyone else on the road staring at your party as you drive by, that is.

Dinner at P.F. Chang's (not at all native to Seattle, but OH so good), then drinks at our hotel...suddenly it was Sunday and we felt the time ticking away in the most acute sense.

The Easter holiday left the city a bit anemic as far as breakfast options go, so we grabbed what we could at Starbucks and headed across Pioneer Square to take the Underground Tour. Here's the short story on this tour - after Seattle burned to the ground in 1889, they rebuilt as quickly as possible and were up and running *mostly* by 1907-1910. Then they realized they had a serious sewage problem, along with some water table issues, and apparently the powers-that-be felt the best solution would be to raise the streets. This created an underground system of tunnels, doors, streets, and pathways that are now technically condemned, but this quirky company runs tours down there. You can walk around and see where underground Seattle used to work and live - even some of the furniture and wallpaper is remaining in the one speakeasy/tavern area, which I personally found interesting. This tour is also something I would recommend to anyone looking for a different way to experience Seattle.

Then we wandered around some more, had some lunch, and hit up the Seattle Aquarium. It is relatively new, and pretty approachable size-wise. My favorite part were the otters - so comical, and even though I know they can be aggressive, territorial, and have a tendency to bite, I still want to hug them and keep one as a pet. A very wet, stinky pet, I suppose.

After the aquarium, what else would a couple of folks who bore easily do? ANOTHER TOUR, OF COURSE. This time, we hit up the high seas (again, much to my initial stress) for a cruise through the locks between Lake Union and Puget Sound. It was all fine and dandy until we hit the bulk of the sound, and the wind and whitecaps were far more fierce than anyone had expected. Nausea: Round 2. DING DING. *gag* I was really angry this time around (no dramamine) because the trip had started smoothly - no motion sickness, nothing. We were on a book FAR larger than our whale watching outing, and yet, we listed and rocked away like an oversized canoe.

What can I say? The ocean and I just don't get along. Memo to my stomach: I'll stick to lakes from now on, okay? I promise.

I never actually got sick, but it was still miserable. Hrmph. After disembarking (and two ginger ales), we grabbed some dinner and headed to the airport for our redeye back to Chicago. Despite the grouchy man seated to my right (Sean was on my left, on the aisle) who lulled himself to sleep by releasing stenchful, hot, disgusting farts, the flight wasn't bad at all.

We landed at 4:45am this morning, and I've been awake ever since. I'm going to do my best to put my photos onto Flickr tonight - there are some truly beautiful shots that I think you'd all find interesting. Until then, I'll be here at home, recovering with my head in the sand, and my laundry in the dryer.

Day 6: In Transit
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Holy moses, does yesterday seem so far away! We reluctantly left Tofino - the flight out was gorgeous and thanks to the two vodka/limoncello/lemonades that I had with lunch, really realllllllllly smooth. Hehe.

Sadly, we didn't have enough time in Vancouver to do anything other than sit around the train station. After a long ride back to Seattle, we settled in at the W for the rest of the weekend. I wish I could say that it was a more exciting day, but it was mostly just necessary travel that lasted all damn day.

More updates and photos coming soon.

Oh, and so far, my book count stands at one completed, one partially finished. I would have finished more, but chose to placate my sad, train-riding self with trashy magazines instead. :)

Day 5: Tofino, BC
Friday, March 21, 2008
Day 5 was a day of resting, hanging out, and indulgences.

After breakfast, we headed down to the spa on property for hot stone massages. Please allow me to take this moment to recommend this procedure to anyone who likes massages AT ALL. After a consultation and an herbal foot soak outside (it's chilly here but they covered us in blankets and gave us hot tea), we went into this little hut by the shore for our massages. The hot stones are really odd at first - they feel scaldingly hot. Ultimately, the body adjusts and they really do work wonders. My masseuse found the tight spot around my right shoulder blade almost immediately, and worked the hell out of it. After we were finished, there was a rainfall shower awaiting, replete with Aveda products everywhere, which made the product whore inside of me very, very happy.

After we cleaned up, we headed into town for lunch at Shelter, and got our first burgers of the vacation. The restaurant was very chill, and lovely. Yum. Then we walked back to the Wick (which is about 3 km outside of town, I would estimate). After a stop at Chocolate Tofino for dessert, and a quick visit to the local glassblower, we headed back to the hotel.

After doing a whole lot of nothing (awesome), we dressed up for dinner at the Pointe restaurant, which is the nicest restaurant on property. I had an herb salad with pine nuts and beets to start, then a zucchini and prosciutto wrapped cod filet with a side of roasted red pepper pearl couscous. Sean started with a tuna carpaccio, and then a steak with a side of something stacked and formed - I think it was potato dough, bleu cheese, and oxtail. Very fancy, but in all honesty, mediocre at best. The best part about dinner was the wine - a fruity white called La Frenz. Then we got back to the room and collapsed into bed.

Speaking on rest, I have to say we've been noticing an absurd change in our sleeping patterns here. We're dead tired at 7:30/8:00pm. Time change aside, this is still ridiculous because when I'm at home, I don't typically go to sleep until between 11:30-12am. What's up with that?! On the upside, my undereye circles are nearly gone - which means they're primarily a result of my sleeping patterns and not my allergies. Which is too bad, because when we get back to real life, I won't be able to sleep 11-12 hours a night.

This place is so beautiful - I would have more photos, but stupid Flickr is acting weirdo. Hope you're all looking forward to the end of your week, and to a lovely Easter weekend!

Day 4: Tofino, BC
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
This morning, the agenda included sleeping in and taking the hotel shuttle (i.e. a Lexus hybrid SUV driven by an uncommonly nice breed, also known as a Canadian person) into town for breakfast. After a less-than-stellar latte and two baked goods from Common Loaf, Sean and I walked the three blocks to Ocean Outfitters to check in for our whale watching tour.

My brain, vision, and stomach are still recovering.

The whale watching tour was simultaneously fantastic and awful - I spent the first hour laughing, using my new telephoto lens, and joking that they should warn women to wear athletic bras. (I'm nothing if not classy) Then, all of a sudden, a sharp wave of nausea came over me. I took Dramamine with breakfast while laughing that, despite my usually iron stomach, it would be better to be safe than sorry. Every time the boat stopped and really just rolled around with the ocean, I was overcome with nausea, akin to getting hit across the face with a cinder block. Not fun.

We managed to see a couple pods of grey whales (a bit further from them than I would like), some Stellar Sea Lions, bald eagles, a mother/pup otter duo, and other assorted wildlife. I managed to keep my mediocre breakfast down, but only via an intense concentration on the horizon and any land that I could find. I'm nauseous just THINKING and WRITING about it. *urp* On the upside, the water this time of year is unreal - a deep, lapis blue. Beautiful.

Back on land, we lunched at SoBo and I worked on reclaiming my land legs. (Panko-encrusted shrimp cake with spicy mustard, and a bite of Sean's polenta fries - yum!) So far, no dice - I'm still not feeling 100%. After begging for a night in, we ordered a pizza and are going to watch a DVD and enjoy some beers that we're keeping cold on our mini-terrace. I also finished four chapters of my new book - this has been an amazing vacation so far.

Day 3: To Tofino, BC
I know these updates would be far more interesting with pictures, so hopefully I can accomodate that in a day or two. We have unlimited, free internet access (to which I say, "YOU HAVE THE INTERNET?!" and immediately pass out from sheer happiness) so if you want to see the gorgeousness of this area, check in with my Flickr from time to time.

Back to where I left off...left Vancouver in a Piper Navajo (gulp) flown by two lanky lads from Orca Air. Seriously, they were both well over 6 feet tall - the simple act of them getting into the cockpit was a feat of human origami. Despite my initial fears, we made it off to Tofino safely - while the co-captain ate a sandwich. I guess there wasn't anything to worry about.

After we checked into our very pretty hotel, we had a quick lunch/drink (because on vacation, alcohol is required with every meal) before heading into downtown Tofino. Tofino is a sleepy, little town with one stoplight (a blinking red one), one bank, one post office, and one liquor store. Everywhere you look, it resembles the town from Northern Exposure - only replace rain in the place of snow, and ocean in place of the Alaskan mountains. People here are super welcoming, and all have excellent suggestions for restaurants, activities, etc. After a shopping jaunt (handmade soaps procured) and a yummy dinner at Schooner, we took the resort shuttle back to the woods and settled in for the night.

This place is so unbelievably gorgeous, I struggle for the words to describe it adequately. If it weren't *quite* so rugged and remote, I would love to live here myself. It's really, really beautiful.

Day 2: to Vancouver
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Our plans were simple - get up early and pop over to the King Street Station to catch a scenic train to Vancouver. Unfortunately, a minor disruption in the form of a freight train derailment north of Seattle abruptly put an end to that plan.

An hour and a half later, we were on a bus, chugging north on I-5 with the rest of our irritated, Amtrak compatriots. It wasn't a very pretty ride (and the day was surprisingly gloomy) but we made it to Vancouver successfully.

Note to travelers: If you're anything like me, you're completely and irrationally intimidated by the Customs Agents at any border. They're fully armed and asking you rapid fire questions about your intentions in their country, so if you blank on where you're staying in Vancouver, don't worry. That 5-second window of white hot panic is an easy thing to get out of - just play dumb and ask your boyfriend. Then the borders agent will be so irritated that you didn't approach him together, that he'll forget all about your bad memory and allow you to enter his country to do nefarious things like traffick drugs, break the law, and commit corporate financial fraud. Awesome.

Vancouver is really interesting - it's far smaller than I originally thought it would be. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco, and it's been interesting to see a city with very few African citizens. The major minority here is of Asian descent, and after touring the city for the better part of three hours, I only saw 2 African Canadians. Everything here is written in Chinese and English. Everyone working at McDonald's was Asian (because YOU KNOW I stopped for a large Diet Coke). It's odd, to say the least.

Lunch overlooking the harbor at The Mill (best pulled pork sandwich I've ever had), and dinner at Shanghai Chinese Bistro was good as well, despite the fact that my tongue is still recovering from a wicked hot dish of General Cho's Chicken. Nothing that a little mango ice cream can't solve, eh?

See? I'm Canadian already. More later - right now I have to go steel myself for a quick trip on a very, VERY small plane.

Day 1: to Seattle
Holy cow, I feel like we have been traveling forever. After a Chicago to Denver flight, we killed some time in the Mile High City airport. Note to travelers: this may be the most boring airport in the entire nation. Then off to Sea-Tac for a day.

Lunch/breakfast (at this point, we really weren't sure what time it was) at the Soundview Cafe on Pikes Place. Two budweisers and half a chicken quesadilla later, we were ready to walk around and acquaint ourselves. And since both those beers were had by ME, see also: an impromptu nap before dinner. Oopsie.

Dinner at Sky City in the Space Needle, where I almost lost my cocktail hours snacks in the EXPOSED elevator. Nothing says "bon appetit" like seeing the steel girders of the OUTSIDE of the building you're in appear at your left and right. Oh, and feel a draft.

Dinner was fantastic - as it should be, to reward me for not passing out on the way up to the restaurant. Steak, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and the most amazing chocolate mousse I've ever had in my life. OMG. That stuff was like eating Betty Crocker frosting straight from the tub, only better. Also a recommendation from me to you - if you like oak-y reds, I suggest the Cloudline Pinot Noir. It's local to the Willamette region and very yummy.

Friday, March 14, 2008
Still don’t like Marvita. I can’t wait until they send her home. I still think she looks like a dude.

Maybe I'll Take 5 Instead of 4...
So much for my minimalist packing attempts. I've decided to take the following books on vacation -

The Kitchen Boy (Alexander)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Kingsolver, et al.)
Survivor (Palahniuk)
Black & White (Shapiro)

Mind you, these decisions were made on what I could find in the last 15 minutes the library was open. I think they present a huge spectrum of topics, and potentially maybe a new favorite book! Yay! Thanks to you all for your suggestions!

And the Debate Rages On
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Newsweek is full of interesting clips these days - here is an candid article about the war between SAHMs and mothers who work outside the home. Ever since women started working in more than one place, this debate has been contentiously fought by people who think it's their way, or the highway.

Why can't we all get along?

Seriously, though, every person is different. Why can't people recognize that some women want to be a mother AND a corporate lawyer, or baker, or landscape architect? And on the flip side, why do SAHMs get a reputation for being lazy, lying around watching Oprah and eating bon bons? It's stupid, really - just another issue that pits people against one another and gives them an excuse to judge someone's life about which they know nothing.

I was raised by a mother who worked outside the home (and plenty inside, too) and she was/is fantastic. She needed the outside work, the socialization, the stimulation, and the sense of intrinsic reward she got from a job well done. It was her chosen field, her calling - just like motherhood was. I would never begrudge her that happiness in the hopes of having fresh-baked cookies waiting for me after school. That's not the way the world works.

It's such a shame that people can't just let it go and stop preaching to others about the "right way," because there is no right way - there is only what is right for your family.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
My open-minded parents thought it was a good way to channel my rambunctious behavior. A few years later I was hooked.

Please suggest books for my trip in comments on the post immediately prior to this one...thanks!

You Pick Two
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Alright, so it's listmaking time at Casa de la Jaime. Tonight, I'm pondering what books to take on vacation - I have to pack light, and given the length of my trip (7 days), I'm thinking 4 books total. I'm going to get 2 from the library, but also wanted to bring two from home to lessen my guilt at the books I OWN but haven't read just yet.

Here are the 4 finalists from my "to read" stack - you get to choose which ones I should read! Woot! Interactive blogging!

1. What Was Asked of Us - Nonfiction, obviously.

2. A Long Way Gone - also nonfiction.

3. P.S. I Love You - quality, mindless romance.

4. Escape - nonfiction, again. I'm on a damn roll with these depressing topics , no?

Also - what have you read recently that you simply COULD NOT put down? Any suggestions? I'm all ears.

My Tongue is Beginning to Heal!
Monday managed to make up for its early bitchiness by rewarding me with time to balance my checkbook, scrub the tub/shower, do two huge loads of laundry, and write a Delush review for today.

Next up - pick up my car (ouch), send paperwork to the stupid county assessor's office to prove that NO, that property number is NOT MY CONDO so I don't owe you diddly squat for that delinquent tax bill you sent me for SOMEONE ELSE'S PROPERTY, and oh, do some more laundry, pick up a library book, and return part of a Lands End order to my local Sears store.

The overriding need for me to have my life in order before leaving for vacation is really putting a damper on my sanity. It's not like I had my life in order before...? Whatever. I don't want to come home to a heap of laundry, overdue bills, and a dirty dishwasher. I'm determined to stay organized and keep my head above water.

On the upside, I found up some fudge stripe cookie 100-calorie packs at the grocery store, so things are looking up! Chocolate makes everything better.

An Open Letter
Monday, March 10, 2008
Dear Monday,

This past weekend was a doozy. I was really busy and also sick, and only got three things checked off my to-do list for Sunday. You knew that I was behind, stressed, and trying to do everything and nothing simultaneously.

I did not need this morning's four figure auto repair estimate.

I did not need today's chaotic, hectic workplace schedule.

I do not need you to beat me over the head for the rest of the day.

Please leave me the hell alone. NOW. That is all.


p.s. If you crowd the laundry room tonight, I'll jump into the calendar and kick your everloving ass. Also, I expect you to warn Tuesday to be a good hair day because I'll need something to distract from the fact that I'm wearing lobster print pajamas pants and a hoodie to work because THAT IS ALL THAT IS CLEAN, DAMMIT.

Friday, March 07, 2008
If you've come here from Whoorl and/or Hair Thursday, welcome! I am astounded by the stats on my blog - what a difference a day (and a hyperlink from a really popular blogger) makes!

As of five minutes ago, this blog had over 500% more traffic than it normally sees on a daily basis. I'm so thrilled to have been a part of Hair Thursday, especially since I follow it as religiously as everyone else does.

Hopefully some of you will stick around - I'm no Whoorl, but perhaps you'll find something in the archives that makes you laugh out loud. My life has that effect on people. Thanks again for stopping by!

Frustration City: Population 1
I have a very small, diagonal cut on my tongue - on the front right "corner" curve - you know, the place that is continually moving? I can't brush my teeth, drink, eat, or speak without a degree of pain. It's even on the part of my tongue that moves when I SWALLOW. Like the swallowing that one does unconsciously throughout the day. All day. Over and over. Repeatedly.

I'm going out of my mind.

Orajel doesn't work because it doesn't stick. (see also: wildly painful stinging) I've been flushing my mouth out with hydrogen peroxide twice a day, and while that is a very effective tooth whitener, it's becoming kind of painful as well. I even made a run to Target last night, thinking it might cheer me up, but NO. Bed pillows were on sale for $3.99 each! I bought two, and I slept like a baby, but NO JAMIE IS STILL CRANKY.

According to the internet, the tongue often heals very quickly because it is rich with blood vessels that help cell tissue rebuild quickly. I would like to state for the record that THE INTERNET IS WRONG. I'm on my third day of open, non-fixable, non-healing tongue cut status.

Send alcohol. And popsicles. Maybe alcohol IN popsicles.

Learning from My Mistakes
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
One of the perks of being me is having a fantastic, very patient, much more docile older sister. Her sweet and patient demeanor have, for the most part, allowed me the freedom to become the stereotypical baby of the family - which in our family mostly means mouthy, ten decibels too loud at all times, and opinionated. Sure we got into plenty of innocent trouble together, and we are both spectacularly whiny at times, but besides the obvious, we are pretty much polar opposites.

So when I sat down this evening to start brainstorming an outline for my next public speech (if it happens, will be my toast as the maid of honor in the wedding next weekend), my sister immediately came to mind. You see, the first time I ever had the pleasure of serving as someone's Maid of Honor, it was my duty towards my sister. The year was 1999, and I had just finished my sophomore year of college. My social life consisted of barhopping, reading, talking on the phone, and I had recently come off of a stint in the university musical in which I was able to flaunt my inner dramatic to its full (and obnoxious) extent. Here - you can see my acting abilities in the following photo from the aforementioned wedding, in which I pretend to be SOBER.

Say anything about the heinous acrylic nails or the Jane Austen hairdo, and I will cut you.

Despite the fact that both my mother and my sister were ridiculously prepared for the big day, I somehow forgot to prepare any kind of speech/toast. Seriously. No one reminded me, so I didn't think of it on my own. Please. I was too busy figuring out what my next major should be. It will come as a shock to NO ONE when I say that I majorly fumbled on the big day. The best man handed the microphone to me, and I choked. I choked BIG TIME. I was also tipsy, so I don't remember the painful details..

Fortunately for everyone but me, the entire rambling, incoherent mess is caught IN LIVING COLOR on video for my sister and my brother-in-law to cherish forever and ever, amen. Shalom.

In the foreground, you see the wine bottles on which I blame my speech, and in the background, you see our server Rose who kept bring around deserted, half-full bottles to our table full of minors - a.k.a. my friends from college who shall remain name and faceless. We loved Rose.

I have small pangs of very strong guilt about that particular part of the evening - and in hindsight, I have to congratulate myself on a couple small points. First off, I'm an okay public speaker so there was no stammering, no nervous coughing, etc. Also, I at least ATTEMPTED to play off of the best man's speech by extemperanously turning around his words into my own and making them funny. I managed to do neither of these things, but I gave it a valiant effort. ALSO, to my great drunken credit, no one had to pull the mic from my hands. I at least managed to end the damn thing on my own. I may have slurred, but it's not like they got out the cane.

To this day, I don't have the heart to watch the tape because I feel so incredibly awful about the entire thing. My lovely sister has forgiven me (I'm sure no one has forgotten, let's be realistic) and that is all well and good - but it doesn't change the fact that I was 4-5 cocktails away from being Sandra Bullock's character in 28 Days. Not good.

At least Sally Fields put aside her concern for the night, and joined me on the dance floor. She dances like a boxer. If you don't believe me, ask my friends.

So this time around, I think I'll prepare something classy, safely funny, and brief. On a notecard that is going to reside inside my Spanx so that I don't get tipsy and forget about it - only to end up rambling on about how my sister knew Adam was the guy for her, or how he should be aware of what he's getting himself into.

Seeing as how my brother-in-law met me when I was a junior in high school, I guess you could say he DID know what he was getting himself into. One weirdo family, that's what. Jesus God in Heaven Above, what is happening in that last photo? (Please note the depth of field - my friend was not actually poking me in the armpit. She was at least 3 feet away from me.) If I ever find out who took this photo...well I guess I brought it upon myself.

Hello, Gorgeous
And in much lighter news, anybody with curly hair now has a great vegan, almost 100% pure hairstyling option.

I Still Can't Bring Myself to Watch the Clip
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Honestly, I am not at all surprised to hear that a Marine tossed puppies over a rocky cliff into a ravine. We train our soldiers to be killing machines - to turn off and on that primal urge to defend themselves, and to take the life of another person whether by direct fire or tactical strategy. I would hope that most of the soliders in the 5 arms of our military would only resort to violence when absolutely necessary but this isn't the Karate Kid, folks. There is no time to chant "wax on, wax off" as you take hits from enemy fire.

So I have to admit I'm a little perplexed about all the uproar with these puppies. While I'd like everyone to show more compassion towards animals in general, what was this guy supposed to do? Adopt them, give them chew toys, and carry them around in a baby carrier while he drives a tank around? Of course there is no excuse for the way he treated them, but how can we chastise him for injuring a puppy and, in the same breath, congratulate him for torturing that Iraqi prisoner? Talk about mixed messages.

I abhor violence, but I'm a realist in this instance. What say you, readers?

Tag - I'm It!
Monday, March 03, 2008
Holy cow. In my 3.5 years in the blogging world, I have only been tagged to participate in a meme twice. My friend Lynda tagged me today for the "7 Things" meme. God (and Lynda!) know I can't resist a meme, so away we go...

7 Weird Things About Me

1. I really like classical music. Recently, I downloaded some songs off of an album of string music inspired by Appalachian melodies and I can't stop playing it. I feel warm and at home when it's on in the background. Nerdy? Definitely. But that's just me.

2. I am appreciative of my friends for accepting me as I am. I can be really frustrating sometimes - I tend to put my foot in my mouth. When I try to say the right thing, I usually fumble for the appropriate words and end up saying something strange instead. I can be critical. I fixate on things. But I'm also loyal, genuine, caring, and so grateful that my good friends and family recognize this when I'm stuck on "bitch" mode.

3. I am totally comfortable being in front of large groups of people, and completely mortified of small, intimate settings. I spent the better part of 1997-2003 half naked, dancing in front of thousands of people and it never once occurred to me to be nervous. But ask me to dance or sing in front of a group of 10-15 people, and I'll flat out refuse. I won't.

4. I have insanely bad morning breath. For reals. Watch out.

5. Someday, all I want is a healthy family, a warm home, a dog that loves me, and a loving marriage. That's all. Sometimes I think this is too much to ask for. There is so much disappointment, so much unnecessary drama in the world. Is it vain and egocentric to wonder what a more mature life would be like? In short, I'm quickly tiring of the young, single city life and hoping that someday my life will have far more meaning and value than it does now. And a garage. I'd like to have a garage someday.

6. If given the option of any junk food in the entire world, I would without a doubt choose french onion dip and potato chips for dipping. I would pick chips-n-french-onion-dip over CHOCOLATE.

7. I can't stand animated movies. I hate 'em. Boring, stupid, not entertaining. I also hate all things Disney.

And in turn, I tag Joey and anyone else who wants to play along!

Thinking Positive
Ten seconds after I posted (see below), I remembered something that I neglected to mention in my whining.

Sean made chocolate mousse. Like, by hand. You know, the old fashioned way that involves various stages of whipping, setting, and melting. When he told me, I didn't believe him at first, because I had *just* run across a chocolate mousse recipe online and dismissed it almost immediately after seeing the instructions. I don't know if he was aware that my raging PMS was in need of chocolate, but HE CERTAINLY DELIVERED THE GOODS. That shit is GOLD. Yum.

Now I have two big glasses of mousse waiting for me in the refrigerator. Definitely something to smile about.

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down
Except today was Monday AND it was raining this morning. Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something.

This past weekend, as predicted, was a complete blur. Laura's bachelorette party was so much fun - including hilarious in-bar escapades with a bachelor party we sort of...well, joined. It was funny and weird and the guys were pretty much male versions of us, so we all got along famously and a fantastic evening was had by all. Maybe if you're lucky, I'll put the photos up in Flickr so you can witness the hilarity.

I spent the rest of the weekend telling dancers what I thought of them, which is a precarious position in which to be. Since I'm not actively dancing anymore, I really struggle to stay "in the loop" on the newest styles, the latest moves, etc. It's nice to know that despite my feeling like an old fart, I still know what looks good, and what does not. It helps to have a great network of friendly people that respect my judgment, and continue to hire me on a freelance basis. I am so grateful for their support.

This week, I'm focusing on preparations - especially for vacation. It's such a great feeling, that anticipation that relaxation is just around the corner. We've been talking about the damn trip for so long, that I cannot believe it's almost time to go! As the Brits would say, I'm chuffed. I can't wait!

I was serious, however, in my last outburst - I really need more suggestions on calming music. Please no Enya. Hit me in the comments if you think of anything. Thanks!