Friday, October 31, 2008

When Halloween Calls for Ingenuity

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it on this blog before, but Mr. W's nickname for me is "Pumpkin." When we first started throwing pet names around, he often used "Sunshine" or "Sweet Potato," but the one that stuck was Pumpkin.

So as Halloween approached, I thought—what better character to be than an incarnate of my pet name?

I began the hunt for the perfect costume and was quite disappointed by the selection. I thought I was going to have to modify a baby outfit because they seemed to be the cutest options available.

Then I went shopping at Target. And spotted this beautiful lawn ornament. I was smitten. All it took was some handiwork with a utility knife, jigsaw and drill, and voila: I had a barrel-shaped pumpkin costume to slip into.

Mr. W has no idea what I'm dressing up as. Hopefully he won't randomly read this before the party tonight. I think he's going to crack up when he sees me.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Showing His True Colors

After much coercing and whining on my part, Mr. Wonderful and his roommate agreed to have a Halloween party on Friday. So, a few weekends ago, Mr. W and I went on a search for spooky decorations, a fog machine, and the perfect costume (for him, of course—mine’s been planned for months).

We started out at Cinema Secrets in Burbank, where I tried to coerce him into getting a Spartan outfit that would show off his shapely calves, but he poo-pooed that idea. His interest piqued at an Italian Carnival masquerade mask, but it was $175, so that was out.

At our second stop in Glendale, I immediately made him try on (and buy, for a later date) a Batman mask. He wasn’t down with wearing the whole batsuit (shucks), but he agreed to indulge my fantasy at some point with the spiky-eared headgear. We wandered through aisles and aisles of options, and he pondered each one very carefully. I thought he’d make a great 80’s rocker; he wasn’t feeling Bret Michaelish enough. I suggested being a deranged chef; he reminded me that cooking is a very serious matter. Most everything I offered, he shot down.

And then we saw what will be his costume on Friday night.

My sweet, soft-spoken, precious little Mr. W picked one of the most obnoxious get-ups in the entire Halloween superstore. He’s being Dr. Grabwell, the gynocologist. He will be wearing scrubs on his body, and on his head, a silver box with a sort of figure 8 cut out over his face that says “Free mammograms. Place breasts here.” I call it: The Boobie Helmet.

Would I have ever expected him to go from caped Carnival masquerade guy to boobs-in-the-face man? No. Did I immediately tell him that if any girls stick their boobs in his face, I’m punching them? Yes. Will I be getting a free mammogram from him at some point? Most likely.

Monday, October 27, 2008

There Was No Panty Throwing, After All

Last week, I attended the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach. Maria Shriver led it, but she wasn’t the reason I attended. Nope…I bought a ticket to the afternoon session—The Minerva Awards—because Bono was speaking.

To say I love Bono is an understatement. In 2002, I traveled to Ireland with the primary goal of seeing various U2 landmarks and trying to run into Bono at a pub in Temple Bar. I’ve seen U2 play 8 times in the last 10 years, 6 times of which I was on the floor for the show, watching beads of sweat drip down my gorgeous little Irishman’s face.

Listening to him call thousands of women to action Wednesday for the ONE and the RED campaign was like having honey drizzled in my ears. The man didn’t just talk about the epidemic—or emergency, rather—in Africa, he spewed poetry about it. He dusted the air around us with verbal confectioners’ sugar, and truly amazed me with his commitment to making a difference.

What was astounding, though, was that he was not my favorite part of the day.

The Minerva Awards are designed to acknowledge women who embody the Roman goddess Minerva (AKA Greek goddess Athena)—star of California’s state seal—in their commitment to using strength, creativity and passion to make a difference in the world.

Among this year’s honorees were self-help writer and publisher, Louise Hay (whom I love), everyone’s favorite feminist, Gloria Steinem, tennis star and misogynist defeater, Billie Jean King, and creator of the Penny Lane girls’ home Ivelise Markovits. Then there was Betty Chinn. The woman who moved me more than Bono did.

This sweet little citizen of Eureka, CA took it upon herself to start a program to feed the homeless. She began by baking donuts and brewing coffee in her kitchen then driving around town, handing it out to people who needed it. As people in a local church learned of Betty’s endeavors, they pitched in and now the project includes full meals and a delivery van. All because of one ordinary woman’s compassion and empathy for people around her.

Betty Chinn is no different from you or me, and that left me wondering: What more can I do? What more can we do?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aching knees? Yes. Sore hips? Yes. Awesome weekend? Yes.

After all my complaining, I can now say that the training and the 7+ hour car ride were worth it. The Nike Women’s Run was an incredible experience.

I believe my friend C put it best when she said, “If everyone could act like they do at marathons, the world would be a much better place.”

The amount of good tidings and support buzzing in the streets of San Francisco Sunday morning was truly astounding. I believe about 20,000 people participated in the race, and hundreds more lined the course—clapping, cheering, playing music and showering passers by with positive juju.

We could barely get to the starting line, it was so packed around Union Square.

When the race finally began at 7 a.m., we pounded along the pavement of Montgomery Street, across Washington to the Embarcadero. The weather was refreshing and cool, the streets dim in the morning fog, and along the water, the sounds of a Gospel choir and a group of bagpipers rose up, mingling with our panting and chatter and excitement.

At mile six, we hit a huge hill that seemed better to walk up than waste energy on. We could see the Golden Gate across the Bay, and found ourselves commenting again and again at how beautiful the path was.

On the way down the hill, we opted to whoop it up and run, which led to terribly sore knees later that day and during the drive home Monday. But as you can see, we had a good time, so it was worth it.

When we rounded the corner to the Upper Great Highway on the city’s west side, the sight of the beach—and the finish line—nearly took our breaths away. It was painful to have to jog past the music and the smell of food to continue our course into Golden Gate Park. I felt like my bones were clacking against each other at that point.

Thankfully, it was only another 2 miles until we were done.

As we crossed the finish line, we were handed Tiffany necklaces by San Francisco firefighters in tuxedos. No joke. It was kind of surreal. Immediately following that, someone handed us mylar space blankets, water, bananas, bagels and Jamba Juice. I felt a bit like a sweaty princess.

Despite my cranky attitude, my waffling commitment to training, and several big hills on the course, I beat my Palos Verdes time and finished the half marathon in 2 hours 26 minutes. Not too bad. Now excuse me while I finish eating my celebratory wheel of cheese.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gotta Run

That seems to be my motto of late... Can't blog now, gotta run to a meeting at work. Can't chat on the phone, gotta run out to buy stuff for the Halloween costume I'm making. Can't watch all of the debates, gotta run over to have dinner with Mr. Wonderful.

On top of all these scenarios, I actually have to run.

Sunday I'm doing the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco. It'll be my second half this year, which I'm just translating into "In 2008 I ran an entire marathon"...part of it just happened to be in May and the other part happened to be in October.

Truth be told, the main reason I'm looking forward to running it is that it'll mean I'm done with it. Amidst all the other running I'm doing in my life right now, training for a race has just about made me want to run screaming from the track and not look back until I hit Vegas. And maybe when I got there, I'd trade in my Asics for some go-go boots and take a job as a platform dancer at 54 in the MGM Grand. Or I could become a cockail-serving pirate's wench at Treasure Island.

This is what my fantasies have come to...

I'll be so relieved to be done. And I may just eat an entire wheel of cheese in celebration. Then sit in the same chair for four days straight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Puckering Up, Just Like Grandma Always Did

Every now and then, I catch myself thinking back to what I was doing a year ago. I do this a lot around my birthday, summer, and undoubtedly every New Year’s. But last week, I caught myself doing it when I saw his eyeball peek out at me from behind the elevator door.

As soon as it looked at me, I panicked and started speed-walking to the parking lot. It wasn’t like I hadn’t seen him since our dating debacle. I think he and I even had lunch together in the late winter or early spring. But something about seeing that eyeball now made me flushed and flustered. And I sprinted away.

He was the guy I thought I liked before I met Mr. Wonderful.

I work on the 5th floor, he works on the 4th. A coworker knew we were both single and asked me if I’d like to meet him. Still resting comfortably in rebound mode after The Cheater, I said yes. Work Guy was a computer nerd and owned a condo, a cat, and a synthesizer (actually a whole room’s worth of them). He sounded safe and appealed to my sweet spot for geeks, so the decision was a no-brainer.

Drawn to his adorable social awkwardness, I jumped at the chance when he asked me out. After several hours of sushi eating, Tetris playing and TV watching, I was smitten. It was the beginnings of nerd love. He didn’t kiss me that night, nor after the next date. I figured he was shy and would need a little friendly coercing.

So on date #3, as we cuddled on the couch, in the dim light of the television, I tried to make myself look as harmless and kissable as possible. He rubbed his hand along my leg. I smiled and yawned.

“It’s pretty late…you can just stay here if you want,” he said. Jackpot.

He loaned me some sweats and a toothbrush, and I couldn’t help but laugh as I climbed into bed next to him. It felt extremely odd to be hopping in the sack with someone whom I’d never even had any sort of mouthial contact. He turned off the light and snuggled up next to me. I rolled over and felt for his face. When my lips found his, I was met by a completely scrunched granny pucker.

I thought it was a joke, so I pulled away and giggled, then went back in for the real deal. It was slightly better, but he Would Not Open His Mouth At All. I didn’t notice any other symptoms of lockjaw, but apparently he’d come down with a case of it. I pressed myself against him and tried to break down the anti-tongue barrier, but no luck. Eventually, he tired of our fifth grade kissing antics and laid his head down to go to sleep.

It was mind-boggling. I was lying in bed with a 35-year old, straight man and he wanted nothing to do with me. I didn’t want the whole enchilada or anything, just a nice make-out session with some groping.

We had one more overnight date after that. This time with NO kissing at all. I couldn’t figure him out, so I gave up.

Weeks later, he IMed me at work, calling me “Fastlane Playa.” Uhh because I wanted to do More Than Peck On Our THIRD DATE?! He asked when we could go out again. I asked why he would want to go out with me when he didn’t even want physical contact. He said, “What do you mean? We kissed!” I’ve gotten more action from a wooden spoon I licked after making brownies.

I never went out with him again. He contacted me several more times to say hi and rehash why things hadn’t “gone anywhere” with us. I’m hoping by now, he has gotten over his TMJ or grown a tongue or solved whatever the problem was.

Funny how different things can seem when you look back a year...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love is a Battlefield

Mr. Wonderful and I don’t really fight. Sure, we’ve had some intense conversations that included some heavy emotions, but I wouldn’t call them fights. He’s done things that bugged me—like leaving his online dating profile up WAY too long and harassing me about wearing loud shoes in the morning. But we don’t ever really have “fights” about these things.

So last night when we got into a He Said/She Said squabble, I didn’t really know how to handle it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pro at fighting. I’ve had years of practice and am genetically predisposed for confrontation. Plus, with the whole writing thing under my belt, I’m pretty good with the word-slinging. If I didn’t turn red in the face and have hot flashes, I might’ve even considered a career as an attorney.

Anywhoo, I don’t know how to fight with Mr. W because I’ve had no practice at it. I think the last time I had a real rip-roaring riff with a significant other was last summer. Not that I want to have a full on war with Mr. W, I just want to be able to address our disagreements properly.

The context last night was that he said he told me about something we were planning to do this weekend and I had no recollection of this. Which means, of course, he never told me. He assured me he did. I insisted he did not.

We had a little back-and-forth over IM—good spirited, but definitely razzing one another. And then, as I continued to argue my point, he said, “I’m bored with this conversation, I’m going to bed.” Say What?!

Why this upset me so, I’m not really clear. He said goodnight in the same sweet way he always does, but I sulked around the house for another hour. I couldn’t figure out if I was just out of sorts because we’d had a bit of a fight or because he shut down the fight.

I don’t think he did anything wrong—he’s more than entitled to get tired of a conversation and cut it off. But I’m not sure whether I should’ve handled that differently.

So now I feel the need to assemble an arsenal of reader advice that I can hearken back to during future fights. What tactics do you all employ when arguing with your significant other?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It’s so incredibly easy to come up with excuses. I’m too tired. I’ll do it later. I have other things to take care of first. No matter what it is that we’re excusing, most of us are masters at rationalizing why we can’t do certain things.

For me, it’s usually writing. I’ll get to my book manuscript after I vacuum or reorganize those pesky scrapbooking supplies. Sometimes it’s exercise. Sometimes it’s big life changes like buying a condo.

But this post isn’t about me and my excuses. It’s about people around me who don’t buy into the flimsy justifications. These people forge ahead. And I am so impressed by all of them.

My friend, D, is a medical assistant, wife and mother. The girl works her butt off. And despite the fact she doesn't have much support around her, she decided to go to surgical tech school. Does she have the time for this? No way. She has a 20-month old baby running circles around her. Does she have cushy finances at the ready to pay for her schooling and support her when she has a full-time internship? Nope. But she’s still juggling everything. And she’s kicking ass. Not only does she manage to balance a career and a family, she has consistently scored 98-100% on the tests she’s taken. I think that’s pretty freaking amazing.

My other friend, J, is 7 months pregnant. Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that “bun-in-the-oven” and “I’m-too-tired” go hand-in-hand. Those two phrases were made for one another. I don’t think there is a better excuse for sleeping in, laying on the couch or going to bed at 8:00. But not for J. No, J is still running 30 miles a week. Granted, she has to keep her heart rate down while she’s doing it. But she’s doing it. When I had dinner with her tonight, she actually giggled about doing a 14-miler recently. I’ve NEVER done a 14-miler. And I sure ain’t doin’ one when I’m pregnant! She is a goddess.

Sunday, Mr. Wonderful and his roommate had me and a couple other people come over to help them paint their house. Not like one room. The outside. Of the entire house. I’ve never actually met anyone who painted their own house. I didn’t even know that regular people could paint their own houses. Well, perhaps regular people can’t. But ass-kicking people like Mr. W can. We masked the trim and windows in the morning, and by 7:30 in the evening, the boys had sprayed the entire exterior. And it looks great. They are awesome.

As much as I wish I was as impressive as the people around me, it’s kind of nice to tell their stories instead of my own. I feel so lucky to have them spreading inspiration throughout my life. And truthfully, it’s more fun…because they’re doing the hard work and I can use their much-deserved commendations as an excuse to not work on my book…

Monday, October 6, 2008

DNA All Over the Place

In case I haven’t made it clear, Mr. W and I eat a lot of cheese. A lot. Almost every time we’re together, some sort of cheese consumption takes place. What can I say, We Loves Us The Cheese.

Given my additional penchant for salami, I recently began worrying that I might have the cholesterol of a sumo wrestler.

So Mr. W got all industrious on me and ordered home cholesterol tests online for the two of us to take. They arrived last week, and Saturday night he looked at me mischievously and said, “Want to do our cholesterol test now?”

I hesitated. See, the test involves stabbing (fine, pricking) yourself. And in addition to not really enjoying having pain inflicted on me, I Hate the sight of my own blood. Actually, I’m not a fan of seeing other people’s blood either.

I made him promise to do all the hard work and let me avert my eyes.

He was extremely gentle and the lancer didn’t hurt all that bad. When my finger started to bleed, he wiped it with gauze—just as the directions instructed—and then began squeezing it into the little measurement receptacle. He squeezed and squeezed and the blood bead got bigger but it wouldn’t drop into the slot.

“Let’s do this on the floor,” he said relocating the measurement tray and pulling my arm so the force of gravity could drain (gallons) of blood out of my body. “Your blood is all over me,” he said, looking at his hands.

Finally, he got enough and moved on to prick his finger. Of course his spurted right out and landed in a perfect little heart-shaped shiny droplet in the tray. Show off.

As we wiped the remaining red streaks from our skin, a very startling thought occurred to me. “Did my blood get in your puncture hole?” I asked him. “ARE WE BROTHER AND SISTER NOW?”

Just in case you were wondering, both of us had very healthy cholesterol levels…and mine was lower than his. Winner!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wonderfully Terrifying

It's been almost a year and I haven't met Mr. Wonderful's family. They're spread out around the country, he doesn't see them all that often, and when he does, sometimes it's just for a quick dinner or whatnot when someone's in town.

This is totally counter to me and my family. We all live within about 45 minutes of one another and see each other once a month at the very, very least. I talk to them all the time, spend every holiday in their company, and have only a 7-minute drive to end up on my sister or parents' doorsteps.

Given my relationship (and proximity) with my family, I've been dying to meet his. It's like this missing piece in his puzzle. I feel like I'll learn something new about him when I finally see him with his people.

Last week, he told me his dad wanted us to come visit and I was ecstatic. Then yesterday, he changed that to "grandma wants us to come visit when dad is in town." Town is St. Louis and in addition to Grandma, Mr. W's sister, brother-in-law, nieces, cousins, and aunt and uncle all live there. Friends, I seem to have hit the family jackpot.

I know it will be a stressful trip—bringing the girl home to meet the family. I'll undoubtedly be craving wine throughout the weekend. But I finally get to put his childhood pieces together! I'll get to hug his yaya (that's grandma in Greek) and see his adorable nieces in person. And maybe we'll come home having reached an even higher level of comfort and closeness.

I've never been to the Midwest. Anything I should know about?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Exercises in Moronity

Any time Mr. W spends the night, I have to change the sheets. Sadly, he is allergic to cats…and being a crazy cat lady, I let Monty and Zoe sleep in my bed when no one else is around. Thus, there is usually a thin film of hair on the bed at all times.

Last week, when I went to do a sheet switcheroo before Mr. W and I climbed in bed, I couldn’t find the nice, soft off-white set I like to use. It wasn’t in the cupboard, so I figured it was in the hamper. Drat. I made a mental note to do laundry.

So this weekend, I flung open the hamper and began piling various whites on the floor, anxious to get my soft sheets cleaned. However…they weren’t in the dirty laundry. I went back to the cupboard, certain I was having a stroke or amnesia. They weren’t there either.

Where in the world could they be???

Then a hazy image began to form in the back of my mind. I was doing laundry when my neighbor (who I call Charlotte on this blog) invited me over for a glass of wine. Somehow that led to looking at pictures from high school and the next thing I knew, I’d been at her apartment for two hours. Exhausted, I hobbled home and went to sleep. AND LEFT MY LAUNDRY IN THE DRYER FOR A WEEK AND A HALF.

I ran to the laundry room and sure enough, there it was jumbled on top of the dryer. My off-white sheets, some t-shirts, and worst of all, a bunch of my underwear.

As you may remember, it’s only women in my complex. But they are the kind of women who might judge a person by her taste in undergarments. And given that they already have opinions about me, the last thing I want to do is fuel their fires.

So when I saw my hot pink thong with the pink bunny rabbit pattern sticking out from the laundry pile, I was mortified. Bad enough to leave one’s clothes in the dryer for A WEEK AND A HALF—but to have a pair of bunny panties in there…I don’t think I’ll ever recover…