Friday, November 30, 2007

Last of the daily blogging...

Ah, the last day of National Blog Every Day Month. Not that I technically blogged every day. However, I look forward to returning to my former lackadaisical blogging style next week.

I'm so not ready for the holiday season. And, I don't mean I'm unprepared with adequate gifts for my loved ones, although I don't have any of those yet either. I'm just not in that mindset yet. Thus the reason that hearing the Christmas music that has recently begun to be piped into the hallways and elevator of my office building make me want to stick my fingers in my ears. And, Christmas lights...Christmas lights are like children to me--I don't mind taking a quick peek at someone else's in passing, but I surely don't need any for myself. I walk through the malls (during off hours, of course, to avoid the crowds) and can't imagine who wants festive holiday pjs from VS or Crocs in holiday colors. Yeah, I know, bah humbug.

I think it's more the descent of winter weather than anything. I hate being cold, which I am when the temperature drops below about 75 degrees. I hate having to bath in lotion to keep my skin from getting dried out. And most of all, I hate seeing the sun for about half an hour a day (if I'm lucky) on the drive to work and how it's pitch dark by the time I emerge from the office. Early darkness saps my energy and makes me want to crawl under the covers for the night by like 7 pm.

I thought I had a plan...I've been mentally preparing myself for winter since October. When the daylight started ending sooner, I started telling myself that the worst of it would be until the end of December, and then the sunlight hours would start building again. I thought if I was prepared the impact would be lessened. And, in some way it has a little. But there's still a part of me that feels mopey and lazy for no reason at all.

I've also been trying to revel in all the things about winter I do like. Winter is the time for candles lit in the windows; the overwhelming desire to bake; cuddling and movie marathons; cashmere; ice skating in Forest Park (constant complaining about the temperature mandatory); surprise gifts of all shapes and sizes; parties, parties, and more parties; down comforters; hot coffee, cider, wine, or chocolate spiked with various liquors; boots (!) and scarves; and, of course, company paid holidays.

So maybe I'll get into the holiday spirit sooner or later. Just don't expect Christmas cards. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Inside the Blogger's Studio

I was listening to James Lipton on Diane Rehm this morning, where he answered the same set of questions he asks his guests on Inside the Actor's Studio. Seemed like a good idea for a blog, so here goes:

1. What is your favorite word? brings to mind glamour from a world very different than mine. And just sounds juicy and yummy.

2. What is your least favorite word? C*nt. I know the Vagina Monologues has taught us to embrace the word, but it still sounds negative and harsh to me. Even though, in general, I swear like a sailor, I almost never ever call someone that. I didn't even want to type it.

3. What turns you on (creatively, spiritually, or emotionally)? Stimulating conversation about books, writing, or big ideas with someone who pushes me intellectually.

4. What turns you off? Attitudes of entitlement. I don't care who you are, the world doesn't owe you anything. You aren't too good for anything. You aren't better than anyone else. Also, passive-aggressiveness

5. What is your favorite curse word? I love, love, love the F word. Any word that can be used as almost any part of speech deserves to be used regularly.

6. What sound or noise do you love? My cat's purr when we are curled up napping together. Rain drumming on the roof, especially at night.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Other people eating crunchy foods. My neighbors loud house music when it keeps me awake, or in the middle of the day for that matter.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? As different as they are, if I weren't in the English field, I'd be a fashion designer or a doctor.

9. What profession would you not like to do? I'd be the world's worst psychiatrist.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"Come on's nothing like they told you it would be, I promise."

What would you answer? I'd love to hear what everyone else would have to say. Comment!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sap Ahead

So much for blogging every day this month...

Thanksgiving came and went, as did my birthday. I sort of consider my birthday the beginning of a new fiscal year, and inevitably I find myself looking back on the past 12 months. Overall, it's been a great year, although at first, I couldn't think of any good examples to support this conclusion. I've been in the same job for over a year now. I live in the same apartment, drive the same car, and care for the same naughty cat. My friends are consistently wonderful. My family hasn't changed. Don't get me wrong, last year wasn't bad at all, but why was this year so much better than the last? The only big difference was meeting B. in April. And, since then, my life has been undeniably brighter. I feel like I finally have it all: a cool life and someone to share it with. I wasn't actively looking for a relationship back then, nothing more serious than a weekend boyfriend, but one rainy Friday night, I reluctantly went out with friends and met the best thing that would happen to me all year. Maybe my whole life.

Here's to another year even better than the last.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday How-To Plan

I can handle my immediate family just fine. In fact, most of the time, I even look forward to seeing them (especially my favorite sister *wink*). Most of my cousins are pretty okay too. It's the nosy older members of my extended family that make me want a handful of Valium with my turkey dinner.

Ever wish you could send ahead a list of topics you prefer not to discuss at your family holiday gatherings, the way celebrities do before they go on a talk show? I think it would make the whole episode a lot more tolerable. That, and including wine with dinner like every other freakin' family on the planet (I mean, seriously, we might like each other a lot more after a glass or two).
Here's my list:

1. Don't ask me about my job. I've repeatedly explained to everyone what it is I do as an editor, and assuming they can even remember that I'm no longer a teacher, they seem to think I spend 8 hours a day proof-reading. No amount of explaining can make it clear, so let's just say I'm gainfully employed and leave it at that.

2. Do NOT ask me about my relationship. I used to be annoyed when they would ask if I was "seeing anyone special," but that was easy enough to nix with a sarcastic, "I'm seeing all kinds of unspecial guys. Tons actually." Now that they have an actual person about whom to interrogate me, I feel it could be worse. So, don't ask how it's going. Don't ask if we are getting married. And, definitely don't ask when I'm planning to finally be barefoot and pregnant like a good little woman. Wait for a Save-the-Date like everyone else.

3. Zero, and I mean ZERO questions or sarcastic comments about my decision to stop being a strict vegetarian. I don't analyze what's on your plate; don't bug me about what's on mine.

4. Let's agree ahead of time that we will definitely disagree and avoid all topics having to do with religion or politics. And while we are at it, let's avoid any issues of social justice, racism, feminism, or just about any -ism. The fine weather and perhaps the score of the football game will suffice. In fact, I'll probably just make sure my mouth is full the entire time precluding the need for conversation.

5. Let's be honest, I'm in this for the pie and, in this case, birthday cards filled with money. Give me those things, and I'll be on my way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

10 timely facts about me

In no particular order:

1. I've been on my own for a long time, but there's still something fulfilling about paying my last bill of the month and knowing I don't have to do it again for, oh say, ten days.

2. I still get super excited about my birthday, even though it does mean I'm another year closer to OLD.

3. I used to get into arguments with my cousin whose birthday was the day before mine. He was born two years after me but used to insist that because his birthday came first, he was actually older. Funny how being the younger one doesn't sound so bad anymore.

4. My jeans feel looser today, and that makes me indescribably happy.

5. I haven't had a Dr. Pepper (or any other kind of soft drink) in over a month. I haven't been to Starbucks in more than 2 weeks. Maybe I've kicked my worst habits!

6. I frequently have practice conversations in my head before the real-life ones, especially if they could be intense.

7. I've always been an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) on the Meyers Briggs Personality Inventory, but when I took the online version recently, I got an INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. I keep wonder if my personality has really suddenly changed...hard to tell.

8. I have seen 2 car accidents take place next to me in 2 days. I'm a little nervous to drive home today.

9. After watching Ratatouille, I've decided to actually make some ratatouille tomorrow night. Hope it tastes as good as the picture in the recipe looks.

10. I woke up this morning wondering if Heidi and Spencer really broke up on the Hills last night or if it was just creative editing on the preview. I'm going to watch the episode online on my lunch break.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting Soft on Crime?

I've frequently said everything in St. Louis is done in a half-ass manner. Even our crime. Apparently, it's not just baseball titles this town can't keep for more than one consecutive year... St. Louis Ranked Second Most Dangerous City in U.S.

Funny how I don't feel any safer walking around my neighborhood though.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fatal Attraction to Cuteness

An early birthday present to myself arrived this morning:

4 inch heels...One glass of wine and I could very well break an ankle, but aren't they gorgeous? I'm sure it makes me a very bad feminist to so enjoy wearing these devices designed by a man to torture a woman's feet, legs, back, etc. However, my opinion falls into the Marilyn Monroe camp:
"I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot."
Yes, Marilyn, we certainly do.
Debut: my birthday party!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Puppy Dreams

I want a puppy! You have no idea how much. Look at that cute little guy in the picture above. *Sigh* Adorable!
It's not that I don't love my cat. Karma is the best (except for when she bites me on the ankle, unprovoked in the early morning hours). Look at that purely evil little face:

I got a cat in the beginning because she needed a home and I needed a pet that didn't require me to be home at regular intervals to walk her. She was about the size of my palm when I brought her home and spent the entire first night mewing pitifully. Pretty soon she was sleeping on my pillow, curled around the top of my head (and I wonder why I wake up with allergies every morning). She pokes me in the face with her little wet nose when she thinks it's past time to wake up and get her some kitten chow. She hides behind the clothes basket waiting for me to walk by, jumps out, and bounds away hoping I'll chase her back. Sometimes I do.

But I've never had a dog of my own either. My parents owned a giant doberman when I was small, but that was technically my dad's dog, even though Prince let me ride around on his back like a horse. The dog we had when I was older, Patches, was named by me (b/c he had different patches of color on him...I was so creative back then), but he was mostly my brother's dog. "Every boy needs a dog," my dad had said. So, I think a puppy of my own is long over due. I want to put it in dorky little argyle sweaters and fancy collars. I want to play tug-of-war with little rope toys (not my shoes...).

Unfortunately, my apartment is way too small for a whole puppy. It's almost too small for a cat. I'm still not home early or regularly enough to walk a dog. I don't have a yard for it to play in. It's just not time. So, the puppy remains a little wish for the future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Consider this:

5 reasons I'd make a pretty good President:

1. If I could keep my deliquent students in check, dealing with comparatively small-time dictators would be a piece of cake.

2. I have two years experience as class VP behind me. My record includes putting on an awesome junior prom and an exciting senior class trip.

3. I could finally put to good use all the knowledge of domestic and international affairs I've picked up from listening to NPR constantly. Who needs a law degree??

4. As a former English major, I will save the country money by writing my own speeches...and as an added bonus, I will be able to pronounce all the words in them and read them correctly from the teleprompter.

5. I can rock a power suit in ways even Hillary and Barack never dreamed of. Think about it.

Vote Cherry Blossoms in '08!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Out of the Blue

I was a total goody-two-shoes when I was a kid. The thing I dreaded most was getting a "talking to" from one of my parents. It didn't take so much to please them, just to get good grades and stay out of trouble. So I did. Staying out of trouble meant a lot of things--not running wild with my friends, getting home by curfew, showing up at church on Sunday, not disagreeing, and not talking back. Somewhere along the line, I learned I could do whatever I wanted as long as I didn't get caught, and I started compartmentalizing. I just kept my mouth shut, and everything was alright. Even as an adult, some old habits are hard to let go.

I started this blog in the interest of expressing my truest self and thoughts. And, for the most part, I think I explain my views honestly. However, both in this medium and in real life, my distaste for open conflict holds me back. Because I hate fighting with the people I care about, I censor the pieces of myself that I feel would offend them. For someone who prides myself on not giving a shit what most people think of me, I spend a lot of time creating the spin that will make me more palatable to people I love but have decided can't handle the "real" me. I don't tell, and for the most part, they don't ask. They are relationships of mutual delusion.

It's not even that I don't want to fight. I wish I had the balls to stand up and tell the bluntest truths. I stay silent because it's easier, because I don't want to sit through a well-meaning lecture about all the ways I am "disappointing" someone else's expectations, because when it comes down to it, I really don't care what anyone else wants, because I'm still going to do whatever it is I want to do. So, maybe it comes down to something as simple as laziness.

Or maybe it's something more serious. I hate telling half-truths in this blog, but then I'm worried that the wrong people will read it and somehow I'll get "in trouble." I'm almost 29 years old...what's the worst that could happen to me? That my parents won't love me anymore? Maybe. I've never tested that supposedly unconditional love. If my life goes in a different direction than theirs, can they accept me and have a relationship with me? That's a tough cliff to jump off of blindly.

I don't want to harm my relationship with anyone, but I also cannot, under any circumstances, be the person they think I ought to be. The best I can do is a poor fictional version of that person, a version that makes me resentful at family gatherings because I have to stay in character for hours on end and can't talk honestly about what's going on in my life. I'd like to look forward to those gatherings instead of dreading the conversations I'll have to avoid to keep the peace.

Maybe it's just that over a decade after I became a legal "adult," I'm ready to grow up already.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I read it online, so it must be true

What his video games reveal about him. Where was this article when I was dating around? I know the first thing I was scoping out in a guy's apartment was his gaming systems. If only I'd known how to decipher their meaning. Some categories were missing though:

A guy with no video game systems:
Probably an alien. What guy doesn't have at least one? Check his computer for PC games, which are way geekier than video games. If he buys imaginary swords on eBay for his World of Warcraft character, you should probably leave immediately.

A guy with all the video game systems:
Too involved in gaming to date. Also, possibly lacks loyalty. If he can't commit to a system, he probably won't commit to you either.

A guy with joysticks for playing old school aracade games:
My kind of guy.

I should totally be writing BS articles for MSN!

Friday, November 9, 2007

One Small Step

I have to admit, I'm pretty excited that on Sunday, 2 women in StL. will be ordained as Catholic priests. Never mind that I'm not Catholic. Never mind that I'll probably never attend one of their services. Not allowing qualified and well-educated women to preside over a congregation is what's wrong with most fundamentalist religions out there. There's something wrong when women are relegated to the nursery or Sunday school room simply because they are female. Women can do more than sing in the choir or be youth leaders. If they are given these roles under the stereotype that women are, by nature, nurturing, then why wouldn't a woman be a great option to nurture an entire church/temple/mosque/etc.? Nothing would make me more interested in a place of worship than knowing that the leader was a female. Keeping them out of top leadership is just another example of how men try to keep women in their places under the guise of "that's how God wants it."

As with any other "-ism," change takes time. I appreciate these women's courage to follow what they perceive to be their holy callings, even in the face of possible excommunication from their religion's leaders. It's also a testament to the community of women that other females from reformed congregations have stood by them, supported them, and even, in one case, offered them a sanctuary to perform the ordination, not just to anger the men in power but because they genuinely believe in the work that these 2 women will do. Another article I read put this particular situation in words I couldn't have said better myself: read it.

Maybe one day, some of the more resistant powers that be will put aside their own pride and desire for power and choose the person who is truly best for the job of leading a faith community regardless of gender.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Creating Ritual

B. and I have decided to celebrate Chanukkah this year, so I spent the morning yesterday shopping online for menorahs. My favorite were the sketchy ones on eBay that didn't actually have the required 8 candleholders. There were also traditional, modern, and artsy ones to choose from, and even a Waterford crystal one if you want to drop $300. Let's just say I was a little overwhelmed by all the choices.

The idea of creating rituals with significant others and loved ones has come up quite frequently lately. I think it's a part of growing up and putting down roots to want to create meaningful traditions with the ones you love.

A dear friend wrote a piece about this subject for one of her American Studies classes. I wish there was a link for you to read it because it was beautifully written (Publish it, J.!!!). She wrote of deciding in what ways to observe her cultural traditions in the family she's creating with her fiance and how our generation differs from the previous one in that many of us buy the cultural symbols (usually the grandest and most expensive) that the previous generation had passed down to them from their families. As I recall it, the piece essentially questioned whether rituals mean more when they are passed down from generation to generation or when we co-op them in ways that are meaningful to us personally. I think this is especially true when people come from different backgrounds. I am interested in knowing the basis of the original traditions, but I love the idea of blending the elements that mean the most to both of us to create our own unique celebrations.

Another friend recently told me how much she wants to build traditions with her group of friends. She said that since she isn't that close to her family of origin, she considers her friends and their significant others to be the family that she has chosen for herself. She wants to build holiday traditions and annual vacations with us. We are planning to begin this year with a week-early Thanksgiving dinner together. I love the idea that one day our families will spend the week sharing condos on the beach or going skiing together in the winter. "Family" takes on a lot of different forms, and I'm excited to share that label with her.

As it turns out, B.'s family has a spare menorah for us to use. Neither of us will be home at sundown on the 4th to light the first candle, but I think we'll find our own way to commemorate those 8 days. I'm just excited we get to spend another holiday together.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A few of my favorite things

Fall might be my new favorite time of year.
I walked out of work last night, and it smelled like fall; that cold crisp scent was all over the air. There's something about that smell that makes me want to curl up in front of a fireplace with a book and homemade hot chocolate. Never mind that I haven't actually had a fireplace since the house we lived in when I was a baby. That, and the non-operational one in our room in the Bass House in college. It was really more of an entry point to let birds and bats and who knows what other wild life into our room.
I love the frosty windows and contrast of the cold air and the toasty down comforter in the mornings. And how Karma burrows into the covers in the crook of my legs. Those mornings require hot tea while I'm getting ready for work, the kind made in a kettle on the stove, not in a mug in the microwave.
It's the only time of year I feel outdoorsy. This weekend B. and I are going to Elephant Rock to do a little hiking and look at the fall foliage. I want to feel the crunch of leaves under my tennis shoes and make the most those last few rays of warm sun.
Fall makes me want to cook things from scratch. Mashed potatoes, cranberries, pies, mulled wine, festive things to share over dinner with groups of friends. I find myself walking through places like Crate and Barrel and dreaming up beautiful place settings for all the holiday gatherings I want to have one day when I have a house of my own, runners, center pieces, special dishes and glassware.
And my birthday is just 15 days away! All good things happen in the fall...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Ever since I started working in publishing with a medical emphasis, I’ve wondered what it would have been like to work in medicine. I’ve done more than make sure the names of disease are spelled correctly; I’ve looked up the meanings and sometimes the ugly pictures that go with them in my Stedman’s medical dictionary. I’ve become concerned about drug interactions and the side effects of the therapies my friends and family take. I’ve taken to wondering whether or not drug companies really want to find a cure for cancer when the drugs to treat it are so lucrative. I’ve gotten up in arms about the current administration's lack of support for the HPV vaccine (b/c it would encourage young girls to be “promiscuous”). I’ve started wondering if I missed a career because when the time to choose colleges and majors rolled around I was inexperienced and afraid of not being the best at something (ie, math). It's amazing that we ask people to make major choice about what their future will be like when they are 18. I’ve also started wondering if it’s too late to do something about this wondering. Or, if it’s a little too late, and I should just be content with the path I’ve chosen. It’s hard to say.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fashion Victim?

It's amazing how a new haircut can make me feel like a new and better version of myself.

I always joke that being a woman means being in a constant battle to stay on the right side of ugly (ie, the not ugly side). There are chipped toenails to be re-polished, legs to be de-fuzzed, skin to be exfoliated, pores to be mud-masked, eyebrows to be waxed, faces to be made up, abs to be toned, hair to be cut and colored, closets to be cleaned out and filled with wearable (hopefully slimming) outfits.

It gets tiring to say the least.

Maybe this is partially my own fault, as I am what "they" call a girly-girl. I'll run to Target in yoga pants, but I don't like leaving the house without mascara and concealer on. Sue me. I like to at least resemble the girl who B. first took out and not let myself go just because I'm "taken," part of which I feel is keeping the legs in first-date shape. I don't like to wear shoes with last season's heel or cheap clothing that doesn't hold its shape in the dryer. I realize that all these things are my choice. But constant choices become habits, and it begins to feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to just make it in under the wire of looking halfway decent.

But Saturday, I got my out-of-control, overgrown short hair cut. I got a new style (as I do pretty much every time...): long, side-swept, choppy bangs and short, edgy layers. The cut took off the last of the leftover black-brown ends and left me with shiny, reddish medium brown. Add a little eye makeup and I was feeling like a supermodel.

Or I will for a week or two anyway.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'd rather be napping

This whole blog-every-day thing is cutting into my nap time. Oh well.

I came home from work, did a pilates workout dvd that I'm not convinced does a damn bit of good, and then tried my hand at a new cheddar/chutney dip recipe to take to Mel's party tonight. It's in the refrigerator setting up, but I do believe we have a rousing success on our hands.

Learning to cook isn't something that has necessarily come naturally to me. I still remember my first cooking fiasco. My grandma had ordered me a Betty Crocker children's cookbook by redeeming thousands of BC box tops and UPC codes. Of the many great things that can be said about the woman, she certainly knows how to make the most of a rebate. Anyway, I was thrilled and set about flipping through the pages to find out what kind of tasty treats I'd soon be able to create. I settled on banana bread. It seemed easy enough. My mom wasn't too thrilled about the idea, but finally she set me loose in the kitchen with some over-ripe bananas and a "Don't make a mess!" I carefully measured out the ingredients, mixed them up, and poured the gooey mixture into a bread pan. I set the oven timer and paced around the kitchen waiting. About 45 minutes later, I checked my "finished product," only to find out it was still a soupy mess. I checked that the oven temperature was correct and decided to give it a few more minutes. Twenty minutes later, the situation was still the same. Finally, I yelled for my mom to come take a look. She looked at the liquid banana bread and at the mess of ingredients on the counter. Her eyes narrowed. "Did you put any flour in it?" I looked across the counter...there was banana peels, baking soda, various spices, but sure enough, no flour. "Can't I just add some now and throw it back in the oven?" I asked. Needless to say, baking time was over for the day and for many days to come.

This story (and a couple of others stikingly similar to it) came up last Thanksgiving when I contributed to the family dinner with my favorite Indian potato dish and a carrott souflee, which were flawless by the way. "This is pretty good." someone said, "Better than the time you tried to make banana bread, remember?"

In this family, how could I forget.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Warming Up

I came into work at 7:00 a.m. this morning because at 3:00 p.m. I'm leaving to go see my baby sister's sectional volleyball game in some godforsaken small town in Southern Illinois. If I don't post tomorrow, you can assume I'm lost in the hills somewhere with banjos playing.

Volleyball is pretty much the only sport I can watch for more than five minutes. Even sitting in the stands, I feel something tug inside me when I watch them play. I scream at the ref. I call the ball out with them. I yell side-out, even though rally scoring kind of makes the term obsolete. In general, I make a complete ass of myself because I want more than anything to be in the thick of the game instead of living it vicariously.

So many of my memories in high school are tied to the sport. When in other aspects I felt like I didn't fit in, being good at volleyball was my identity. The court was the one place where I felt confident, like I was appreciated for being myself. It was where I bonded with the girls who would become my friends. I remember silly things like wearing matching Nike headbands (an aside: I saw a woman wearing one at the gym the other day--these headbands were not as cool as we thought), braiding each other's hair before games, eating jars of disgusting baby food on the way to road games (b/c we heard it was a good source of light-weight protein), and being terrified of our coach's bad driving. I remember warming up before games with Stephanie and trying to beat our record number of passes without dropping the ball (I think, it reached over 500 at one point). I remember all the little superstitions like not washing our knee pads when we were on a winning streak, wearing my "lucky" maroon hairband, and not cutting our fingernails the day before a game. I remember salt and pepper, quick hits, and queens of the court. I remember how the team from the Mennonite school in Arthur, IL was our biggest rival and the few times we beat them. I remember the day in practice when I hit my chin on the floor during a diving drill and bled all over the place (I still have the scar from that one). I remember that invincible feeling of flying through the air and the snap of my shoulder muscle when I put the ball down. I remember the thrill of competition and the high of winning.

In some ways, cheesy though they may be, I could credit the Lady Falcons with teaching me about the fine line between competitive spirit and teamwork, the value of pushing myself, and maybe even the most basic "girl power" feminism. Even though I haven't gotten a chance to play competitively in years, even though all those "priceless" varsity letters and trophies are god-knows-where in my parents' garage, no other experiences of playing in college or later in leagues has ever quite matched the magic of that little high school team.