A Little of This, A Little of That

Happy first day of March, ya'll! I feel like this is the turning month for having survived what feels like the LONGEST. WINTER. EVER.

I was in Target yesterday, and I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that they've put the swimsuits out for sale. Seriously, I did a little happy dance right there in front of the Mossimo sign. Not that I have a particular love for bathing wear, mind you, (or the tone classes that I'm going to have to take to get back into swimsuit shape) but the fact that Target thinks that it's time to put them out must mean that warm weather can't be too far behind. (I say this as the last of yesterday's snow fall still lingers on the lawn). And if Target is confident that we will one day soon feel the sun's warm rays again, I trust them. Target knows all.


I'm currently reading a book titled, The sociopath next door: The ruthless versus the rest of us by by Martha Stout. Don't ask me why. It was just a book I saw and thought I'd try. My tastes are varied and unpredictable. As far as I know, none of my neighbors are sociopaths...or ARE they? (Peeks through slit in the curtains suspiciously). Anyway, the book premise is that that a shocking 4% of the population (or, said another way, a scary one person in twenty-five) has a sociopathic mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that the person has no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. Further, to them, life is a game where they win by doing whatever they want through power and manipulation.

The good news is that no one's face popped into my head as I was reading it. (No one I knew personally anyway. I can, however, think of several famous people who sound suspiciously sociopathic based on what I know of them). And I doubt any of you are sociopaths, since they do not really care about anyone else, and reading this little ol' blog serves absolutely no purpose other than for us to reach out and share our lives with each other out here in cyberspace. So that's good news. I'm okay, you're okay, and whatever else we have going on, at least we aren't sociopaths. If you're worried about someone else though, you might want to pick up the book. She gets a little repetitive in some places, but all in all, not a bad read.

(In the mean time, what lesson can we draw here? I think it's obvious: People who do not read this blog clearly have a mental disorder). :-)


Which reminds me. A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone who reads this here blog and she said, "I know you aren't really like this because I know you personally, but sometimes you come across as a little mean in your blog." And I was like, WHOA! WHAT?!? THAT'S CRAZY TALK! Because I'm like, the nicest (and most modest) person I know! But then I got to thinking about it, and I maybe she's right. Not that I'm mean (or, at least I try not to be, anyway), but I think sometimes it's hard to see the good-natured joking when all you have are printed words. I tend to write like I tend to talk, and a lot of my humor comes from making exaggerated comments. (See everyone who ever met me nodding their heads vigorously). Granted, this works better in person because you can very clearly see my "I'm just messing with you" face, but if you didn't know me, you might occasionally read this and think that I'm a real jerk. Or at least vain. And sarcastic. And maybe a little too snarky.

When I was in high school, my art teacher would tell us that you had to really exaggerate highlights and shading so they would stand out. Make your lights lighter and your darks darker than what they really are...otherwise other people are going to look at your picture and see gray. So rather than be gray, I write a little lighter and a little darker than who I am in "real" life. (Although it's also accurate to say that I write from my internal dialogue, and sometimes you can't help but think things that, even if they're true, you're waaaaay too polite to say out loud in person. And then, yes, those things end up on the blog. So maybe I'm not a saint after all). But if you're ever reading something and you go, Ouch, That's a little brusk or negative or whatever, please know that I'm wearing my "just teasing" face, and I've laid the shading on thick for extra contrast. Because I really am a very nice person on the inside. Nice and polite and refreshingly optimistic. A treasure to all who know me.

And did I mention modest?

In the Medal Standing for Olympic Watching, Just Consider Me Norway

I give! I give! The Olympics have officially beaten me. I have decided that it is humanly impossible to watch every single event, every day. (Besides, how many freaking biathlon races can there possibly be anyway?!? Every time I turn it on the TV, someone is skiing and shooting. Ski and shoot. Ski and shoot. Feuding warlords use less ammunition. And those poor athletes could have probably skied around the globe by now). So I'm giving up on all but some of my absolute favorites. I'll watch the hockey, and any other ski cross events, and maybe some random bobsled, but other than that? Done. Men's semi-quarter-final 100M freestyle two-man luge? Out. Women's longer-than-short-but-shorter-than-long pairs technical ice dancing program? I'll catch the highlights some other time. The in-depth behind-the-scenes history of the making of the official Olympic ice sculptures? I'm sorry, but I just can't do it. I cannot stand another moment in front of the TV. I gave it all I had, but I just don't have the stamina. Despite my Olympic trash-talking going in, I have officially crashed and burned. NBC is slow motion replaying the carnage of me rolling off the couch in an Olympic stupor. I loved every minute of it, but it has beaten me. I'll train hard, find a new coach, and maybe you'll see me again in four years. But for now, I'm done.

(The good news is, I should be back to a somewhat normal blogging schedule after this. I know all one of you has missed me).

Insert Olympics Theme Song Here

I know, I know, I've been off the blog. I blame my addiction to all things Olympics. I have the DVR set to record any program that even utters a word that rhymes with Olympics, so suddenly I find myself watching 10 hours of Olympic coverage EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. (And as someone who can go several days without turning the thing on, all this television is making my eyes bleed. Seriously, I think I'm developing couch sores). But can I stop? Noooooo. I'm an Olympics junkie.

Here's some things I've noticed:
  • I thought the opening ceremony was lovely, just lovely. (Well, except for the one part where the giant ice statues of the four founders raised their arms "in welcome". Then they looked like giant zombies. Creeped me out a little to be honest). But the rest with the dancing? Awesome.
  • Does anyone else think that the US ski team's uniforms look like pajamas? I have a very similar pair that I purchased at the Gap a few years ago. How funny would that be if that's where they got theirs too?
  • What's with giving all the podium winners a bouquet of salad greens? I mean, they're very nice, but it's COMPLETELY GREEN! Green leaves, green mums, green berries. The Pop-Eye song, "I'm strong to the finish cause I eat me spinach" plays through my head whenever they hand out the leafy bouquets.
  • Dude! The men's figure skaters? Totally dreamy! All of them. I figure it's the look of intensity that they have. Very manly. (Well, that and the super muscular rear end that they all have. They really put the figure in figure skating!)
  • Whoever picked the music for the background stories for the athletes must have been going through my personal song collection. I swear each snippet playing behind every slow-mo jump, flip, and slide is one I have on my ipod. Someone has fabulous taste in music.
  • I think poor Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel might just come to blows with "Dr. Doppler". The other day when Jim was explaining that there was no precipitation in the air, therefore the Doppler wouldn't show anything, he looked a little stained. I don't think the "Dr. Doom" nickname helped anything either.
  • I have discovered that I somehow know all the words to "Oh Canada". (Well, not the French part, obviously, but all the parts in English). Now whenever it's time for a Canadian to compete, I find myself singing it. Loudly. I didn't even realize that I was doing this until one night when Tony yelled from another room, "Babe! We're NOT CANADIAN!"
  • Johnny Weir(d) makes me crazy. He skates beautifully, but all his comments are just ridiculous! I cringe every time I hear a sound bit of his. He's trying too hard to be outrageous and it comes off as obnoxious and phony. I just want to tell him, "You're one of the best skaters in the world...get your attention on the ice."
  • Does the snowboard team have official Olympic jeans, or can they just wear their favorite pair? Because if they just pick their own favorites, the marketing guru in me sees this as branding gold, my friend.
  • I know that the medals are all wavy on purpose this year to reflect the light and everything, but every time I see one I just want to hammer that sucker nice and flat again. (What's that you say? Anal retentive? Yes. What's your point?) I just think that if you're going to go through all the trouble of winning an Olympic medal, it'd be nice if it didn't look like it had been accidentally run over by a bus first.
You know what really makes the Olympics so awesome? The stories behind all of the athletes. The married Chinese couple who came out of retirement to win the gold in pairs figure skating. The skater who was abandoned as a baby in Brazil and then adopted by a French couple...he was discovered by his coach at a public skating rink when he was 4 years old. The second and third mortgages that the athlete's families take out so they they can continue to train. I think you root that much harder for someone when you know what they went through to get there.

Bugs, Bruises and Banana Bread

Scene: Late afternoon. Our lovable heroine is in the office, two cats wedged onto her lap, doing very important and possibly world-changing work in front of the computer (read: looking for a new recipe for banana muffins since banana bread is my holy grail of baking and my latest recipe is okay and all, but I'm not convinced that there isn't one out there that is absolutely TO DIE FOR). There is a third cat sitting next to the keyboard, and a fourth on the floor next to the chair.

The cats are staring at me. (They are under the mistaken impression that if they hang around long enough, it will miraculously become cat treat time. Therefore, they have spent the day making pests of themselves by constantly being on-lap and underfoot). I, however, am on a treat quest of my own, which will hopefully take the form of some banana bread goodness. I found a nice little recipe that looked promising (and with a crumble topping too!) and only included normal-sounding ingredients that I already had on-hand, which is a definite plus. (You wouldn't believe some of the crazy stuff people put into their banana bread! Cream of tartar? Really?)

Anyway, I decide to give this particular recipe a try, so I hit the print button and the printer on the edge of the desk rumbled to life. Only instead of printing out my lovely banana bread instructions, the printer shoots out this giant horrible insect creature, which flies directly at my head and TRIES TO KILL ME. (It all happened really fast, but I swear I could see the murderous loathing in its little buggy eyes). And while it's launching a rather successful aerial attack, I'm flailing around trying to fend it off, (it hit my hand! It hit my hand! Ew! Ew! Ewwww!) and the cats are under the impression that all this activity is somehow meant for them. So Mason, (who was sitting next to the keyboard during this vicious and completely unprovoked attack) decides to try to get into my lap where Dixon and Sebastian ALREADY ARE, and the weight of three large cats plus my flailing is enough to unbalance the chair to the point that we tip one way and the roll-y casters go the other.

You know how they say that during an accident everything seems to go in super slow motion? Totally happened here. It's like I was outside my body, watching the whole thing as we balanced precariously on the edge of one caster. My eyes were as big as saucers, the cats were hanging on for dear life, my arms were pinwheeling in frantic slow motion, and over it all you could hear the bug laughing this high-pitched evil bug laugh from somewhere next to my right ear. We balanced like that just long enough for me to completely register how much this next part was going to suck, and then the caster tipped.

The crash was epic! Not only did we hit the floor, but we hit and bounced. (The only thing missing was the obligatory end-of-crash burst into flames sequence. And I'm sure we totally would have managed that too if the chair had been just a little higher) . My hand caught the edge of the keyboard on the way down, so half of the stuff on the desk ended up coming down with us. I landed half on the chair and half on a cat scratching post (not my first choice in the list of things I'd pick to break my fall), the keyboard caught me on the shoulder, and 45lbs of panicked cat landed safely but none too softly on my stomach...claws anchored into my flesh for increased stability. The whole ordeal knocked the wind out of me, so as four cats (spooked into puffing up 10 times their normal size) streaked out of the room and under the master bed for safety, the only thing I could do was wheeze out, "Wait! You're pest control! Who's going to catch the bug, you traitors!?!"

The bug was discovered laughing his head off a few minutes after I was able to pick my bruised and battered body up off of the floor. Since my pest eradication squad was still hunkered under the bed and refusing to come out (the wusses), I had no choice but to vacate the office until Tony could get home and take care of the intruder. (Don't look at me like that. It was HUGE! Like, flying monkey huge! You would have been scared too).

Also? The banana bread recipe has been exchanged for one regarding rum cake. After all that, I think I need the alcohol.

Brain Scanning

Some random things that happen to be rolling around in my head at the moment:

When Tony first goes to sleep, he lays on his back with his hands folded across his chest like the way they arrange the corpse for viewings at funerals. I don't think he even realizes that he sleeps like this, but it's a little creepy to me. I call it his "Dearly Departed" pose.

Does anybody remember those marbles with the magnets inside that you could stick together in long chains and slide around on the coffee table? For reasons I will never understand, a memory of them popped into my head just now. We didn't have them in our house, but someone I knew as a child did. I can't remember who it was exactly, but I remember several instances of playing with those magnetic marbles on some random coffee table. If you whipped the train around fast enough, the last few marbles would break the magnetic field and go flying off the edge of the table. The little kid me thought this was the coolest thing ever.

The Seester and I play a game where we try to decide what animal we (or others) would be based on personality alone. I said that I thought she would be an eagle due to her professionalism and determination. She said she thought I would be one of those lizards with the brightly colored hood that pops out at random times. Looks normal enough at first glance, but then you find out there's something really bizarre about it. I looked one up. It's called a frill neck lizard, and I'm trying to decide if I should be offended or not.

I'm currently on a real navel oranges kick. I have no idea why, but all of a sudden I can't get enough of them. I've been eating one a day for the last week. (Maybe I'm lacking in vitamin C?) Anyway, I tend to do this with fruit. Before the oranges it was bananas, and before bananas it was red seedless grapes. I read an article in Shape magazine that oranges help you burn fat (or something to that effect), so I'm letting this orange thing run its course. Then it will be on to the next fruit, whatever that will be.

I'm taking dance lessons (real ones, not just as a cardio burner- although I do that class also) at the gym, and my instructor says that I tend to stick my rear end out as I dance. We're working on the samba at the moment, and apparently the longer I samba, the further I tend to jut out in the back. (I fear that longer songs will end with me bent over at almost a 90 degree angle). I'm supposed to be working on keeping my shoulders and hips aligned. (I also have a tendency to try to lead when it comes to turns, but that's another matter). It reminds me of the old rhyme, "I know my heart, I know my mind, I know that I stick up (or in this case, out) behind!"

I've been thinking about it, and I've decided that there are three things that signal that things are going well and a woman is 100% in control of her life. One is fresh flowers in the house. The second is eyebrows are freshly groomed. The third is wearing fingernail polish. For some reason, these things make me think, "Wow! She's really got it all together! I bet she can do anything!" (I think this is because they're what I consider "nice but optional" and therefore the first things to go when life stops running smoothly. The flowers go first, then the fingernail polish, then the eyebrows). On good days, I can manage two of them at once. Right now, I have flowers and eyebrows, but only for another day or so on both.

I've just came across a new book at the library. It's called Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance -- now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem! Here's the review from the SLJ:

Austen's England is overrun with "unmentionables." Etiquette and polite society still reign, but they do become strained when, for example, the ball at Netherfield is interrupted by an attack on the household staff. In this parody, Grahame-Smith maintains the structure and language of the original while strategically inserting zombies into the story. The surprise is how little changes. Elizabeth Bennett is still known for her beauty and intelligence. Here, she is also known for her expertise in the "deadly arts," abilities that only make her a less-desirable marriage partner. There is the constant physical peril that echoes the menace underlying the original. In addition to a life of homeless spinsterhood, the sisters fear having their brains eaten, or being bitten and turned into zombies themselves (a fate to which one character does unfortunately fall prey). The unmentionables also magnify the satirical aspects of the story. A few key arguments, such as the final confrontation between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine, become all-out brawls to the death. (Lady Catherine is famous for her fighting skills and army of ninjas.) And of course Darcy is a renowned swordsman, known for his gentlemanly ferocity. The concept alone is worth a chuckle.

I'm sure Austin is turning over in her grave at the mere thought, but the idea was so preposterous that I couldn't help but laugh. It's so ridiculous its charming. I can't wait to start it. (And honestly, I admire the author's gall...Adding zombies to the classics sounds like something I would do). I understand that there's another book where sea monsters are added to Sense and Sensibility. If this one is any good, I may try to find the other.

So that's it. A quick peek inside my head. Oranges, the Samba, magnetic marbles and zombies. (You're starting to see the whole lizard thing now, aren't you?) But now it's your turn. What's in your wallet? head?

"I'll Take Quirky Thoughts for $1000, Alex"

So I'm reading this book about Microsoft programmers in the early 90's, and the author does an interesting thing...he introduces each of his friends by stating what categories they would have in their dream game of Jeopardy! So of course, that got me thinking. What categories would I completely and totally rock if I were able to pick my own Jeopardy! board?

This is what I've come up with:

Ways to feel busy yet waste an entire day without really accomplishing anything
Romantic comedies where at least one major character speaks with a British accent
Siamese cat group-think
Things to do between the hours of 11pm and 4am
Marketing books that sound interesting but have no discernible application
Best ways to identify the Roasted Garlic Triscuit with the most seasoning
Which cardio machines at the gym get the most direct flow from the air conditioning vents

If I had that board, I'd be daily doubling all over the place. Not even the great Ken Jennings would stand a chance. I'd be all, "Bring it, Alex!".

What's your dream Jeopardy! board? I'm curious to know what your categories would be.

PS- The book is called Microserfs if you're interested. It's written in journal form and not half bad.

Super Bowl Silliness

So it's super bowl Sunday, in case you've been living under a rock or, like me, watching TV with Tony on Wednesday and being all, "What's with the sudden increase in football commercials?" (He just stared at me for a minute before shaking his head in pity. See what he has to put up with?) But while I may not have technically known that the Superbowl was this weekend, I am proud to report that I do know who is playing in it. Peyton Manning and the rest of his team, who are officially known as "those other guys who are lucky enough to play with Peyton Manning", and the Saints (which I only know because of the football party that the Seester dragged me to when I was in Chicago and everyone there was pro-Saints). See now? Aren't you impressed at my football-suaveness? (Actually, guessing that Peyton is going to be in the super bowl isn't really that impressive since he's been playing in the super bowl for the last bazillion years so there's a 99.9% chance he'll be in this one too. But never mind that. Just be impressed with my sports trivia knowledge).

Naturally, being a Tennessean and all, I'll be rooting for the Colts. See, Peyton Manning is something of an icon around here due to him doing such a fantastic job for the Volunteers when he was at UT, so now it's state law that when the Titans aren't playing, you must automatically cheer for Peyton. (Failure to do so results in a $25,000 fine and 10 years imprisonment). I think he actually has a bigger fan base here than he does in Indianapolis. He may be gone, but he is our beloved native son, and we do not forget. For example:
  • Our wal-mart has Colts shirts, Colts cupcakes, Colts foam fingers, and Colts Mardi Gras beads (which you would think would be for the Saints, but you'd be wrong) all over the front of the store, available at any given time throughout the football season.
  • We're still carrying a grudge about not getting the Heisman trophy 13 years later (a conspiracy, I tell you. He was robbed).
  • The number of children (male and female) named Peyton over the last 10 years has skyrocketed. You can't throw a rock without hitting a Peyton (which, coincidentally, is also a $25,000 fine and 10 years imprisonment).
  • A Peyton jersey is acceptable church attire.
  • We all refer to Peyton by his first name only, because 1) everyone considers themselves one of his close personal friends, and 2) everyone automatically knows who you are talking about when you say Peyton anyway.
  • Manning commercials are the only ones we will rewind the DVR to watch a second time. (Yes, even that one where he's eating Oreos with Donald Trump).
  • We will cheer for Eli Manning (assuming that he is not playing the Colts or the Titans) just because he shares some of the same genetic makeup as his older brother. (Although we are still trying to get over the sting that he went to Ole Miss instead of here like Peyton).
  • My mother is still upset that Peyton and I missed being at UT together by one year. Had I gotten there one year earlier, or he stay one year later, she is sure he would have no doubt discovered me and fallen madly in love. She still considers him "the one that got away".
So, I think it's safe to say that the only logical choice is to cheer for the Colts. I have nothing against you Saints, other than the fact that you made the poor choice to go to the Superbowl against a Manning, and must therefore be soundly defeated. Oh, and Peyton? My mother says to call me.

At Least It's Not Another Prison Tat

So I was in a bit of a rebellious mood today, which is probably the only reason I would have ever picked up my latest amusement. Enter...the tattoo marker.

I found it in the toy section of wal-mart, ages 5 and up, and since I fit that category, I was like, "Why not? I'm over 5." Plus it's faster than whipping up another batch of henna, which probably would have been my outlet had I not come across the tattoo marker first. (One way or another, I was determined to draw on myself).

From what I can tell, it's...a marker. Just like your run of the mill Crayola, only according to the packaging, it's completely non-toxic and washes off with baby oil (which is good since as soon as I drew on myself with something more permanent, the Pope or the Queen of England or some ultra-conservative business would want to see me immediately, and I'd be stuck wearing one glove ala Michael Jackson throughout the entire meeting. That's just my kind of luck).

(I "screw the establishment" attitude shocks you. What can I say? I'm a rebel).

Still, the tattoo marker managed to keep me occupied for, oh, roughly 10 minutes. No doubt when my mother sees it this weekend, she will roll her eyes and sigh. Almost 30 and I still come home with marker all over me. I figured Tony would do the same thing, but when he saw it, all he said was "Well, at least you didn't do another one of those armband prison tats you're so fond of". (Point of clarification: It isn't a prison tat if it consists of intertwining flowers, even if it is around your bicep. And to my knowledge, they weren't even gang flowers either).

In short, while feeling rebellious, I drew flowers on myself with a washable marker targeted to little kids. Mothers, lock up your children.

Some Sleepless Thoughts on Sleep (or, It's 3am and I'm Rambling)

It's 3:39am, and I am laying here in bed, thinking about sleep. Not actually experiencing it, mind you, but thinking about it. Sleep and I have a very particular relationship. Very coy. Very timid. Very, very frustrating.

All this is exasperated, of course, by Tony's relationship with sleep. He and Morpheus happen to be BFF, and the god of dreams will never leave him waiting. As a matter of fact, Tony can take a running leap from the door of our bedroom and be asleep by the time he lands on the bed. And as someone who is often left standing behind the velvet rope for hours, jealously watching him bypass the bouncer and waltz right into dreamland's door is maddening.

And so, with sleep playing hard to get, there is no choice for me but to be the pursuer. Oh how we battle nightly in this game of cat and mouse! I stealthily stalk my prey across one end of the bed and back, pretending indifference by reading or watching TV until I'm close enough to pounce. I attack! Sleep leaps to the left! I follow! Sleep feints to the right! We circle, closer and closer, until I lunge and am maybe able to get a restraining arm or two around sleep before, cackling, it fades into ephemeral wisps and slips through my fingers, leaving me both awake and exhausted at the same time.

I hear you out there. You wonder why I don't just take an Ambien or something and be done with it. It's not that I can't sleep-I'm actually very good at it once I get going; it's more that I can't do it during the same hours as everyone else. Sleep, for me, is like catching a's slow to find me, but also slow to let go once it does. 3am to 11am seem to be my golden hours. Besides, the pills don't really work for me. I lay awake all night waiting for the glow-in-the-dark butterflies to come, but in the end I just ended up trapped in an uncomfortable imitation sleep. If sleep is the prettiest girl in school, a chemical induced temporary coma is its ugly cousin. Related maybe, but a poor substitute.

All this would be a sad tale indeed if it wasn't for the fact that Morpheus always feels bad about his teasing and eventually grants me entrance into his dream kingdom. I dream richly and easily, and the entertainment of my own sub-conscious makes it worth the wait to get here. Such lovely stories! Such engaging plot lines! I tend to narrate them as I go along, and I often think that if I could just manage to hold on to them long enough to get them down on paper, I'd be a best-selling author. (Alas, I can never seem to carry them back through the door to consciousness. They float away before I can fully manage to get my eyes open. I wonder if they are really as entertaining as I think they are, or if they'd just sound stupid to anyone else. I'm guessing stupid, which is why they shy away as soon as I try to hold onto them. Your loss, literary world).

Of course, I do not look at it as me going to sleep too late...I look at it as the rest of you getting up too early. There'd be no problem at all if all the schools and businesses opened at 10am instead. Admit it-wouldn't you enjoy being able to sleep in an extra few hours? Wouldn't it be nice to have a little more time between eating dinner and going to bed? You know it would. I'm totally onto something here. Tell your boss. Write your congressman. There are those of us who struggle mightily with turning our brains off for the night, and we need the extra time to recoup in the mornings.

Plus it'll give you much better dreams.