12.23.2011

Eat your heart out Dick Clark (or LMNT's top ten holiday tunes)

I tend to be one who gets bit by the Christmas bug a little later in the season than most, although I will admit this is the first year ever that I almost considered getting a tree. I'm not 100% Scrooge! Yay!

Actually, I do love Christmas, it's just that decorating for one (especially when you're not around your house on Christmas itself) doesn't really get me in the spirit. But what does get me there is music. Feeling inspired by TIG and the greatest hits collection she created for her family got me thinking about the songs that get me merry and bright. So I've cobbled together this list (and even found you corresponding videos/videos of still-frame photographs for each) of the songs that are undeniably Christmas for LMNT. Not completely conventional, some more random than others, but all are full of memories. Enjoy!

10. "Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses
The instant I hear this song, I have an uncontrollable urge to fold oatmeal colored fair isle sweaters. I spent two holiday shopping seasons working at Eddie Bauer in college and I think the number of times I heard this song is nearing on infinity (interestingly, I think that's the same number of sweaters I folded there, too). And while I could have given you a video from the 80s, what's better than a house that lights up to music?


Really, any of these 80s gems could make my countdown for the same reason as The Waitresses--I went through that list of top ten 80s Christmas hits and I'm pretty sure every single one of them made Eddie Bauer's 1995 in-store holiday compilation (with a few Bing Crosby classics for good measure).

9. We Are Santa's Elves, Videocraft Chorus
Not only is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" my all-time favorite Christmas special, but I sang this with the rest of my first grade class at Sts. Peter and Paul's 1983 Holiday Spectacular. And a one-a, and a two-a...


8. "Deck the Halls," Manheim Steamroller
There was a stretch of at least three Christmases when my mom bought this Manheim Steamroller album each year, because she had forgotten she bought it the year before (and the year before that).


7. "The Christians and the Pagans," Dar Williams
This is definitely an obscure Christmas pick, but it makes me think of my first few years living out in the Northwest, and the cozy house I had with my two dear friends, and I just like the message about us all getting along regardless our beliefs. My "peace on earth, good will toward all" offering, if you will.



6. "Sister Winter," Sufjan Stevens
This is my hipster showing. Stevens is an incredibly talented indie musician and artist (and is also devoutly Christian). He and some of his crazy artistic friends used to write and record holiday EPs that they'd send out with homemade covers. Oh to be so creative! A few years ago, he mass produced the EPs and sold them as a box set. This song is my favorite from all five discs. I love how it starts out so beautifully and peacefully--like you're outside in the expanse of the winter chill--and then erupts into a joyful celebration of a Happy Christmas.

When I think about starting my own family traditions, and I think about some of the reasons I have songs on this list it's because they were so much a part of my childhood. I like to think that these EPs will be similarly ingrained into the holiday memories of my own kids someday. And I like that.



5. "The Twelve Days of Christmas," John Denver and the Muppets
Considering I LOVED the Muppets as a kid (and wait a minute, LOVED John Denver even more than I LOVED the Muppets), I'm pretty sure I had heard this song hundreds of times, however, the first time I truly heard this song I was in college in a Hallmark store with my brother. He had just charmed the pants off of a lovely older female employee for a hot cup of wassail (which neither of us had any idea what that was), when we heard Beakers distinctive voice loud and clear proclaiming the ninth day. We literally fell down laughing so hard and had tears streaming down our faces (and that was all because of Beaker and had nothing to do with the wassail, and I still don't really know what that is).

4. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings," Bare Naked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan
Thank you, Canada, for this, the best Christmas (and Boxing Day) present ever!


3. "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays," The Carpenters
True story, I love this entire album. Trying to pick one song from it was, in a word, impossible. Yet, I managed to make the impossible possible. For as long as I can remember, we listened to this album in its entirety throughout the holiday season (and I literally mean album. In fact, I believe we had this on LP, then cassette tape, and then CD. That's right, the soothing sounds of the Carpenter family will not be bested by the advancements in audio technology). I'd recommend the entire album; whenever I hear it, I'm immediately transported "home" either decorating the tree, wrapping Christmas caramels, or just being with my family. To that end, "Home for the Holidays" seemed appropriate. Because, for the holidays you really can't beat home sweet home.


(And holy cow! If that video wasn't pure wholesome Lawrence-Welk-inspired fun, then I don't know what is.)

2. "Carol of the Bells," Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis was right up there with The Carpenters in our house. His Christmas album was on constant repeat in our living room. Plus "Carol of the Bells" is my favorite traditional carol.


1. "Colorado Christmas," The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
If you live anywhere other than Colorado, you likely have never heard this song. This is my 11th holiday season in Seattle and I know I've never heard it out there, because they'd be all, "Huh?! 'A quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow?' What's that all about? Try rain, buckets and buckets of rain." And I can tell you right now, if anyone ever wrote a song proclaiming that all that rain is "the closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere," well they'd be laughed right out of town (oh, and we'd all be doomed). But this is hands down my all-time favorite Christmas tune. And I can attest that there's nothing I look forward to more than getting on that plane and heading home to Colorado for Christmas. Even when we don't have snow, it's still a Colorado Christmas and I love it. And there's no dreaming this year, for my Christmas is most definitely white.




12.19.2011

A social experiment with the Cupcake Twins--Part II

You can read Part I of this story here...
--
Have you ever walked into a bar on a Friday night with a tray full of BACON CUPCAKES!? Well, here's what happens when you do.

First of all, you need to think about how you want to carry them around. My Cupcake Twin and I considered several options: glass cake platter, silver tray, wooden tray. We finally settled on the most simple solution possible: the cheap tray in which they were baked (because you need to remember that as soon as they are all given away, you're going to be stuck carrying whatever item you chose around with you the rest of the night).

Second you need to think about your story, because why exactly are you walking around with cupcakes? It's not to say that you need to stick to your story at all times, but you do just need to be confident in why you have cupcakes, so when some random dude (who you don't want to give a cupcake to) says something about them being fantastic, you can fire back with a, "yes, WE (meaning you and your Cupcake Twin) are fantastic!" And then when he responds with a, "well that's a bold statement." You can then fire back with a, "No, that's the truth. The bold statement is walking in here with a tray of BACON CUPCAKES!" And then just walk away.

In thinking about your story, you'll also want to be thinking about your criteria for what makes for a cupcake-worthy gent. Because the executive decisions you've previously made about the size and quantity of cupcakes you'll bake and how you'll be transporting them around town will inevitably dictate the number of cupcakes you have at your disposal, you're really going to need to determine how you'll dole the treats out. Be prepared that many factors may play into you changing your mind throughout the night, but be sure you know your must haves and your deal-breakers (say for instance, as I mentioned in Part I, a wedding ring? DEAL-BREAKER! Sorry married guys who might really love cupcakes, but guess what? You've already got yourself a "cupcake"--and she's at home--and your puppy-dog eyes will get you nowhere with us. We do not feel sorry for you. And no, you cannot buy one of our cupcakes for a dollar. They are not for sale.).

Third, you need to be really careful for what you wish. Remember how I'm really good at manifesting things? Well, when you take cupcakes to a bar it's probably a good idea to be focused on what you really and truly want. Me? I wanted to see if I could get a guy's number. Did that. Social experiment victory! However, next time, I think I'm going to be a little more specific about that so I can manifest something a little bit closer to the Mr. Right I really and truly want.

Fourth, you need to be strategic about the establishments you visit. You want a place that is frequented by men (heed the advice above about manifesting, and make sure you're heading to places where the odds of meeting Mr. Right, not just any-old-Mister, are high). We went to a couple of places and had varying degrees of luck. We got our feet wet at an Irish pub--safe environment full of bacon-lovers and men--and then headed to a little fancier spot we tend to frequent. As we were heading out for the night, we did wonder if we'd be allowed to bring food in, or if they would shun our tasty treats. As it turns out, if you reserve a couple for your servers and bartenders it can go a long way.

About that last point, when our server at the Irish pub asked us about the cupcakes it was impossible to not tell her what we were doing. She thought the idea was brilliant, so of course we gave her a cupcake, and then we gave one to the bartender, and then when we got to the second bar, we gave five away to the owners/bartenders and serving staff, because we know them pretty well, and because they've had to put up with our craziness on more than one occasion. In the event you're keeping count, that's seven courtesy cupcakes gifted. And okay, we split one, so that's eight out and only four left for prospective charming guys. Whoops!

With our cupcakes rationed, we ended up handing two out to a couple of guys who were sitting near us at the Irish pub, our approach was just to ask them if they wanted cupcakes they said yes, ate them, enjoyed them, and then left (granted we asked them if they wanted cupcakes as they were preparing to leave). Neither of us wanted anything to come from giving these two away, it was actually more about proving to ourselves that we could actually give cupcakes away to people other than the employees of the establishments we were visiting. Social experiment victory!

When we were down to our final two cupcakes it was later in the evening and we were sitting at the bar in our final destination on a very uncharacteristically quiet night. Prospects were looking grim (only the group of guys which contained both the married man who would pay good money for a BACON CUPCAKE! and the guy who most definitely could not handle our fantastic boldness), until two nicely dressed and unmarried guys enter the bar. They sit at a high-top table behind us and we tried out a new pick-up move. We grab two coasters and place one cupcake on each. We give them to our server--who is in cahoots with us, especially after we give her a cupcake of her own, even in spite of the fact that she's a vegetarian--who takes them over to the table and says, "The lovely ladies at the bar have sent these cupcakes over to you." And it works like a charm (kind of like when someone sends over a drink, only it's a BACON CUPCAKE!). Social experiment victory! We ended up chatting with the guys for quite some time and yes, I got a phone number out of it (the phone number of a guy who is not quite what I'm looking for and who is also moving to Manhattan next week, but a phone number nonetheless. Say it with me, Internets, social experiment victory!).

Don't be surprised if the Cupcake Twins are out again in the New Year. We've learned some important lessons that we need to put back into practice. Note to self: use bacon, don't give all your cupcakes to the waitstaff, focus on what you really want, sit at the bar, send cupcakes over--it's simultaneously mysterious, intriguing, domestic, and hilarious. And most importantly, regardless the executive decisions you make, always opt for bold and fantastic!

12.17.2011

A social experiment with the Cupcake Twins--Part I

Sometimes an idea is hatched under the influence that might be potentially crazy and ridiculous, but because you are under the influence you know that it is undoubtedly the best idea you've had in your life. Ever.

This is how the Cupcake Twins were born.

A few weeks ago, a fellow single friend and I were out on the town, looking and feeling good, yet attracting nothing but married men. Perplexed, we put our big brains together figure out how we could change our luck and actually get single fellows to come our way. I won't take you through our entire thought process (as there was a lot of wandering around until we finally landed on the final product), but suffice it to say we boiled it down to the simple mind of a single man. Unsure on why we weren't attracting Mr. [Unmarried] Right to us, we decided we should reach into our bag of tricks and use an irresistible secret weapon: cupcakes.

That's right. Cupcakes. Our plan was a simple one, bake a batch of cupcakes and visit a couple of target-rich environments on a Friday night and use them to draw attention and open the door for opportunity. Brilliant! We agreed that we would only give the cupcakes out to those who were truly cupcake-worthy (first criterion: must not be married). Even more brilliant! We set dates for cupcake making and D (delivery) Day, and our plan was in motion.

Earlier in the week, I was sharing the plan with a group of friends (guys, gals, singles, couples) and right away one of the guys turned to me and said, "I'm not sure that will work. Girls like cupcakes. Guys like bacon. If you walked into a bar with a plate of bacon, you cannot lose."

I looked at him incredulously, as if I'm going to walk into a bar with a plate of bacon?! You know, because walking in with a platter of cupcakes is just so much more logical. But I did give his comment some thought because people do love bacon and you usually can't lose (unless those people happen to be vegetarians or vegans, and if they are, well then they probably aren't people that I would spend forever with because mmm-mmm, I love meat). My friend and I considered this new viewpoint and made executive decision number one: Bacon Cupcakes!

With a modified plan I hit the store to get supplies for cupcake making day and made executive decisions two, three, and four: instead of making mini-cupcakes we'd make normal-size ones becasue the store didn't have mini-cupcake tins, we would not be making cupcakes from scratch but would be making the box variety, and likewise, we would not be making a chocolate ganache when we could just use a ready-to-spread tub of frosting. Silly us had thought that we would wow people with our baking abilities and make homemade treats, then we realized nobody is really going to notice the difference and why put that much energy into strangers and a social experiment that could backfire. Plus I didn't want to do all those dishes. And we opened the box and combined the ingredients at home, therefore the cupcakes would be undeniably home-made.

So we busted out some "rich butter flavor" yellow cupcakes and added an unspecified amount of artificial maple flavoring (why splurge on pure maple extract, right?), frosted them with "rich chocolate" frosting and sprinkled them with bits of bacon. Admittedly the bacon was a splurge. In case you didn't know this, happy free-range pigs make for ridiculously yummy bacon, and if you have ridiculously yummy bacon on a cupake, you're probably more willing to overlook the fact that the cake has both artificial butter and maple flavoring and is so overloaded with sugar and preservatives because mmm-mmm, you love meat!

You're probably curious about how this social experiment turned out... and that will be Part II of this story. But just in case you were curious about how my house smells, it's smelled like pancakes, Log Cabin syrup, and bacon for two solid days now.

12.14.2011

Little voices

Have you ever wondered how an LMNT post comes to be? Well, Internets, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much—hold it! That’s something completely different.

I’m not sure how other bloggers think about their posts, as I’m sure we all employ very different techniques. Some might outline their thoughts, making sure they have a clear introduction with a clear thesis, supporting points, and conclusion. Some probably even proofread and revise what they’ve written. Well, not this blogger. Thesis? Hmmm, rarely. Proofread? Ha! Well, sometimes I do go back and reread what I’ve spewed all over the page, but that’s mostly me validating that I am indeed as hilarious as I thought I was when I wrote those words the first time.

I’m probably not the best person to dole out any sort of advice, but I don't think there's any harm in letting you go into my brain a little bit here, because I think the post development--from thought to publication--is interesting. And by interesting, I mean potentially weird.

I seem to remember a conversation with TIG in high school about how when she was thinking, she would picture the words being typed out in her mind (is that true, or am I making that up?). For me, I actually hear myself saying everything I think, as in I’m completely narrating my own life--every single thought--and when the occasion calls for it (read: particularly dramatic situations) I add a musical soundtrack underneath my narration.

Take right now for instance, as I’m thinking about what I'm typing, I’m reading it out loud in my head. This word, and that one, and yes, even this one. Even the words that I love to say out loud are fun to say in my head. The French ones too. Faire de l’alpinisme. Okay, this is getting to be too much; the echo in here makes my head ache.

So, for me, a post doesn’t start with an outline, but essentially starts with a conversation with myself. If something funny or random happens to me, I immediately talk about it in my head to myself and it becomes the backbone of my post. So all those half-finished posts I have laying around are really just unfinished conversations with myself that are swimming around in my brain. The finished project is really just me coming around after leaving myself hanging for hours, days, or even months.

Is this unique? Maybe everyone talks to themselves incessantly in their head? Do you? Or how about when you read something, do you hear yourself reading it aloud then too? I'm not that weird, or am I? Inquiring minds (and head voices) want to know.

12.12.2011

Funk my life

Lo, a month has passed since last I've posted, and the Internets hath had nary a peep from LMNT. Sad face emoticon.


I actually have a handful of half-started, half-conceptualized posts that I just never had the real oomph to finish. You see, Internets, I'm in one of my funks; one of those funks that inevitably follows a period of uber-activity overload. Where I go from being extremely regimented and scheduled, having some place to be, something to do, or someone depending upon me almost every hour of the day to nada. Nothing. Nowhere to be, nothing to do, nobody depending upon squat. These funks are so predictable, you can set your watch to them.


When I'm in that crazy state of hustle and bustle and frenetic energy, that's when I actually feel like I function the best. From my perspective, I know what I'm doing, I have purpose, and things seem to have more vitality. What I don't really know is how people experience me during those periods. I mean, I think I'm giving them my best, I'm in the zone, and they certainly couldn't ask for more. I hesitate to open myself up for feedback on that, because I'm not sure I can imagine that happy little self-perception shattering. But I wonder what it's like on the outside.


What's becoming ever clear to me in this particular funk is that I'm not sure I know how to operate at a pace that is less than frenetic. I thrive off of that pace and I think it's something that was ingrained into me back in high school. When I'm in this fallow period, I feel absolutely demoralized. From my perspective I feel lethargic, listless, lacking in purpose, and everything is shrouded in a very dull haze. In the same light, I wonder how people experience me in this stage. My self-criticalness is at heightened levels in times like these, so it's absolutely unfathomable for me to think anyone really thinks they are getting the best LMNT they could.


I know there has to be a balance, what I don't know is how to strike that. I'm very skilled at swinging the pendulum from one side to the other, it's just that finding the place in between that's really hard. My knee absolutely jerks when I'm in a fallow funk and then I suddenly find myself involved in activities I don't really care about, going places I don't really want to go, or dating people I really don't want to date.


I can tell you that I'm trying my darnedest to be intentional about this funk, and not collect things/activities/hobbies/boyfriends in a shallow way; I'm trying to find that balance. And it's hard. And it's so much easier to swing to either side--the pull that pendulum is strong I tell you. Note to self: resistance is not futile! And when I find that balance--because I have faith I will--I'll be even more curious to know how others are experiencing me and most importantly how I'm experiencing myself.

11.13.2011

Six-word Sunday: November 13, 2011

Attended the tale of Sweeney Todd.

Not that I'm going to make excuses, but if I were going to one of the reasons why you haven't heard much from me over the past three months is because I was busy getting my thespian on. And for those of you that thought it might just be a "phase" or something I was experimenting with, as it turns out I'm really into it.

Back in August, a friend of mine who was directing "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," admonished me for not signing up for an audition. And if I were making excuses (which I already established, I'm not), it was because I was in the midst of coaching another running season for Team in Training and I knew how much work that was going to take, especially given the fact that we had three events in October which was also when the production was set to open.

As I'm wont to do, I figured out a way to have the best of both worlds--even though the cost was having a six-week stretch where literally every minute of every day was scheduled and if I had the luxury to be at my house it was only to sleep. But it was definitely worth it.

Being a part of this production was a tremendous experience. If you're not familiar with the show, it is considered by many to be one of the most musically challenging productions. There is nowhere to hide in the ensemble, you have to know your music (and it's Sondheim, so knowing your music is at times so much easier said than done). I'm so glad that I was given the opportunity. I learned and grew as an actor and singer, and as a gender-bending-Irish-conman-turned-flamboyant-Italian-barber. More about that to come...




11.09.2011

Next stop: Square one

First things first, there are many things I need to recount for you, dear Internets, but let's start with what is often a popular topic, if not a source of great blog material: my love life.

To make a story that shouldn't be as long as I make it short, earlier this summer I met a guy. By all accounts a very great guy. A guy who was vetted by AP and was introduced to me as my future husband. So we met, had a good connection and a fun weekend, and then he returned home to Philadelphia. I made a valiant effort to be open to the possibility of something more and he sort of made a modest effort, I guess. And ultimately that was that and it was over--it just took a couple months for that spade to finally be identified.

When it comes down to it, we had a weekend and some text conversations. Not really much, which is why it was surprising--and actually downright comical--to me to note my emotional response to the situation. I mean in reality he and I didn't have much, yet I found myself moving through the stages of grief, literally by the hour. And it got me wondering if the amount of time one takes to move from denial to acceptance is directly related the amount of time one spends in a relationship? If so, then you can base your proportion on the following ratio: a one weekend relationship will equate to eight hours of grief.

And, because I saw a ton of humor in the situation and knew it was excellent blog material, I tracked my emotional highs and lows on a post-it note that afternoon (maybe there is also a corollary between the amount of raw materials needed to document one's grief and the length of one's relationship, in which case a one weekend relationship will equate to one post-it note, whereas I'm guessing a multi-decade relationship might require several bound journals, and Kim Kardashian's marriage lies somewhere in between).

So, Internets, please be seated and keep your arms and legs inside of the vehicle at all times, as you are about to embark on LMNT's abbreviated emotional roller coaster:

11:24 AM--I receive an e-mail from Philly basically saying, "you are awesome, I don't want a long-distance relationship, don't let me hold you back, and good luck." I adopt a "whatever dude" type of attitude and instead of responding, I head out for a long lunch. DENIAL.

1:30 PM--I respond coolly to Philly, because, whatever, NEXT! Which then elicits a text response: "You are truly an a-typical girl (in a good way)!" Which then causes me to explode because if one more person says to me, "You are so awesome, I don't know why you're single." I'm going to punch them in the mouth... especially if that person is the boy who just sent me a "break-up" e-mail. ANGER!

1:31 PM--I text back, "Yeah, I know. Your loss, buddy." BARGAINING (sorta, kinda... but mostly it's me calling it like it is and rubbing it in his face).

5:30 PM--I'm driving home belting out Adele at the top of my lungs, "Never mind, I'll find someone like you/I wish nothing but the best for yoooooooou, too/Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said/Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead." And I cried a little. And they were not tears for Philly, but tears for me, because FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! How much longer do I have to wait?! DEPRESSION.

7:24 PM--I was paid a visit by Shawny to help me snap out of my "I may as well go start hoarding cats now" spiral. Oh, and  I renewed my online dating subscription. ACCEPTANCE.

Really, I'm doing okay. More than okay, actually. And I'm staying hopeful that this time will be different (or at least will provide me with some really great blog fodder).








11.01.2011

Ain't no joke

Me: Knock, knock.
You: Who's there?
Me: LMNT.
You: LMNT who?
Me: LMNT!
You: No really, LMNT who?

That's right, Internets, here I am. Yes, I know you'll believe it when you see it, and I'm going to go out on a limb now and say you can hold your breath. Seriously. I've got stuff to say, and notes afloat, so I'm gonna do that and do it here. Promise.

See you soon!

8.21.2011

Six-word Sunday: August 21, 2011

Ran. Volleyballed. Started killing a parasite.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my last seven days. Yesterday I ran 19 miles (like you do), and today I played in the one outdoor volleyball tournament I play in each summer. And my partner and I won! Oh, yeah, and I'm killing off a parasite (also, like you do). More about Eunice Penelope to come...

8.08.2011

Six-word Sunday (on Monday): August 8, 2011

Finally celebrating the arrival of Summer!

The Pacific Northwest and Summer have a very tenuous relationship, sometimes it's hot and heavy and other times it's on the fritz. Those of us that live here end up in the wake of that manic relationship and can tell you that when it's good it's really good. And when it's bad, well it's downright cold, rainy and miserable. Fortunately Summer, that saucy minx, decided to roll into town last week, giving all of us pasty-skinned vitamin D-deficient Seattleites cause to finally start wearing seasonally appropriate clothing.

Because it hasn't felt like Summer, I haven't felt like doing any of my Summertime chores, namely making my yard (and outdoor living space) summer ready. Well, this weekend I finally made it happen. I weeded relentlessly and scoured the past year of rain and gloom (read: mold) off of my deck and yard furniture. And it's about freaking time! There are six weeks of summer left and you better believe I'm going to enjoy the heck out of those six weeks (on my mold free yard furniture)!

8.04.2011

Milestones

In the past few months it seems like I've had a few of them (like finally publishing a post? Oh! Hello, Internets!). And not just piddly little meaningless milestones, but significant things that make you think, "Holy crap where did that last decade go?!"

For instance, in May I hit my five-year anniversary at work. FIVE YEARS! That might not seem that weighty, but considering I never thought I'd ever leave education to be in the business world, it blows my mind. It's the longest I've ever been with an organization (and if you count the year I spent there as a contractor before I was hired on full-time, I've been there over SIX YEARS!). This means I've spent more time at this place than I did at my combo Junior/Senior high school, and my university where I did my undergrad and graduate work.

Similarly, last week marked the five-year anniversary of when I bought my house. Oh, my sweet little Oasis in the Jhetto. The Oasis that I bought as an investment because at the time the marinara jar and I thought we'd be getting married (at least he'd mentioned it and I took him seriously) and the bubble was yet to burst in Seattle and it made sense then, but now it sometimes feels like the chain around my neck. Good thing I like the Oasis (minus the rooster). It's not that bad, and is by far the place I've lived in the longest in my life other than my parents' house. That is just crazy to me. I went from moving every year or two throughout my twenties, contently hopping around, and then, BOOM! Roots.

But those two milestones, while important, are small potatoes. I feel like I've spent the past two months constantly reflecting, "On this very date, TEN years ago I did..." And TEN years just sounds like such a substantial chunk of time. Here's a short list:
  • May 1--I returned to Colorado after visiting Seattle for the first time and put all my energy into finding a job in the Pacific Northwest because I loved it so much.
  • June 5--I graduated with my Master's of Arts degree from the University of Denver.
  • June 10--interviewed at the University of Puget Sound and had one of those experiences where everything clicks and you are on the precipice of something huge--and you know that it is exactly where you are supposed to be.
  • June 30--I (with a lot of help from DenPants) bought my first car. My little Jetta that I still drive around today (only when I bought him he had all of his hubcaps...).
  • July 26--I drove out of Colorado, the only place I had ever called home.
  • July 27--I drove into Washington, a place I never imagined I would call home but now do.
  • August 1--I started my first real grown-up job at the University of Puget Sound. A real grown-up job that paid me an actual salary (and it wasn't much at the time... especially now that I know better after leaving education for the business-world, but it was enough for me to not feel buyer's remorse every time I went to the grocery store).
  • August 4--That's right, on this very date TEN years ago I... sat in a tattoo parlor with one of my best friends, Jo Jo, and commemorated the "passing of an era" by getting my one and only tattoo. We got matching tattoos, a small ladybug atop our right feet. Small, yet it symbolizes such big monumental things: my life up to that point.
Who knew what the next TEN years would have in store? Oh, the highs, the lows, the joy, the pain, the multitude of times I raised my hands and wondered "what the heck am I doing? why am I here? and am I doing this whole thing right?" It's funny, because I'm at a point now where I'm wondering some of the same things.

I will tell you this, I celebrated my ten-year anniversary of making that huge monumental life-change by applying for a job in Europe. Yep, that's right. So now I'm sitting here wondering who knows what the next TEN years will have in store. (But seriously, who does? If you find out, could you send them my way? Pretty please with a cherry on top? Thanks.)

6.12.2011

Six-word Sunday: June 12, 2011

Relived PARIS! FRANCE! in Seattle, Washington.

Just when I thought I wouldn't post about PARIS! FRANCE! again, I went and had an oh-so-French day today.

After I returned from France I was waxing nostalgic about the macaroons to Monster and she came across a French bakery and found them. I had to go try them today and then I treated myself to Woody Allen's new film, Midnight in Paris. Internets, if you see this movie you need to know that everything Owen Wilson's character says and thinks about Paris is exactly what I've been saying, thinking, and feeling--and what I've been rambling about ad nauseum. Oh, and in the movie they go to L'Orangerie (see tip #4) and the sight of the room induced an emotional artburst, again. Surprising but sweet.

And as I close out my surprisingly French day, I'll close out my incessant rambling about how much I love PARIS! FRANCE! For now, anyway...

PARIS! FRANCE! Part IV

Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III of PARIS! FRANCE! wherein I play the part of a power tourist, an emotional and righteous observer of high art, and someone who pretends they know what they are talking about.

----

Internets, I think we've come to the final post about my trip to PARIS! FRANCE! This final installment will be a veritable potpurri of random tips and left over pictures to keep you visually interested.

Tip #1: Go to Paris. Simple enough. Just go. Seriously.

Tip #2: Go to Paris in the springtime. To be fair, I've never been to Paris any other time of year, but I can attest to its general fabulousness in the spring. There's a reason people love Pairis in the springtime.

Tip #3: Buy a scarf from a street market and wear it everywhere. Trust me, everyone else is doing it so you should too! Mais, oui!

Tip #4: Go to L'Orangerie. I know I already implored you to do this here, and if that wasn't reason enough here's a handy dandy little trick. If you go to L'Orangerie and buy the combo pass with Musee D'Orsay, you can get in to both AND skip the long line to get into Musee D'Orsay. Awesome.

Tip #5: Make the effort to speak French. Everyone I encountered was very gracious. Of course I was going out of my way to not come across as an ugly American (I wasn't wearing jeans, sneakers, and concealed any other such articles that send out the tourist beacon), but I never came across anyone that was rude or unwilling to help me.

Tip #6: You must must must get yourself a selection of les macarons (small little cookies that aren't anything like American macaroons, they are times infinity better mostly because they don't have coconut in them) and head to Le jardin de Luxembourg. Plop yourself down alongisde La fontaine de Medici and just revel in the moment. It is one I'll never forget. I really can't do it justice, but sitting there enjoying my rose petal macaroon is the most poignantly beautiful moment I've ever experienced.

Tip #7-infinity: There's so much more I could share with you, but I'll stop with this final tip: when you go to Paris (or heck, when you go on any adventure), open yourself up to being profoundly impacted by the expereince. Everything I experienced, from the larger-than-life to the small and simple, they all left an indellible imprint on my heart, mind, and soul. That general appreciation for just being and living in the moment is quite possibly the most significant thing I learned from PARIS! FRANCE!

And because pictures are worth a thousand words, here's a few more thousand for you.

The view of the Eiffel Tower from a Sunday street market.
Right before I had the most amazing Steak Frites with "secret green sauce" for which people line up into the street. 

The Medici Fountain. Romantic. Breathtaking. Beautiful.

Where I sat and  had my "macaroonasm."

One of the many  beautful sculptures in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

6.06.2011

PARIS! FRANCE! Part III!

Check out Part I and Part II of PARIS! FRANCE! wherein I play the part of a power tourist, and an emotional and righteous observer of high art.
-----
Now we come to Part III, the part I like to call: dusting off your haven't-been-used-in-fifteen-years French skills and making them sing for their supper, or French 101.

I'd say it was about an hour before I landed when it really settled into my mind that "OH CRAP! I AM GOING TO A COUNTRY WHERE ENGLISH ISN'T THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE." Maybe I should have done something to prepare for that. But I had years of French in high school, that would be enough, right? As it turns out I remember and forgot just enough French to be dangerous.

From that moment on the plane until I landed in Seattle a week later, my brain was on overdrive: constantly on trying to remember as many random words, phrases, and pronunciations as I could. Sadly, I never once found the opportunity to talk about hippopotamuses or how I just love "to do the mountain climbing."

I practiced my recall in the shower, in my head during the work conference, even in my sleep. And it helped, sort of.  All the French people I was with at the work event said I had a very good accent (plus one for LMNT), but a good accent and small vocabulary can leave you stranded in bilingual limbo--and trust me, it's on par with how Dante described it. 

As my confidence built, I used French everywhere I could. And you know me, persistence is my middle name. So, even when the French would recognize me as an American and extend a courtesy to me by responding in English to my garbled attempt at communicating to them in their native tongue, I would continue the conversation in broken French. Because THAT'S WHAT I DO. And there we'd be, speaking each other's languages and somehow making it work. Or not.

The epitome of my foreign language adventure happened when I stopped into a small market for a bite for lunch. When I got there, the place was empty and I took my seat at a table. Within minutes, it had filled up with other lunch and pastry-goers and I knew that I was going to need to share my table with someone.  Enter the cutest older French lady, who spoke absolutely no English. We sat together for about a half an hour talking the whole time. My Facebook status update post this encounter summed it up best:

Just had an absolutely lovely conversation with an adorably lovely, older, French, non-English speaking woman sharing a table with me in a crowded cafe. I have no idea what we talked about.

Except I do know that while I was talking about living in Seattle, Washington, she was talking about how the rhododendrons in Washington, D.C. are beautiful. What? Yes. Just go with it. I did, and so did she... I think.

5.30.2011

Six-Word Sunday: May 29, 2011

The best weekends have three days.

I'm taking a break from my stories about PARIS! FRANCE! to say almost nothing (except maybe  PARIS! FRANCE!) delights me as much as the three-day weekend. Well, there's the four-day Thanksgiving weekend which is nothing if not pee-your-pants exciting.

And a little daytrip out to the islands with friends at their beach house is pretty much perfect. Especially when you get home Sunday night and realize it's not really a school night. Yeehaw and giddyup!

5.24.2011

PARIS! FRANCE! Part II!

Whenever I travel, my favorite thing to do is to go for a run and explore the area. In fact, it's something that I crave. In 2011 alone I've run in some pretty darn cool places: through the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, around Central Park in Manhattan, up Heartbreak Hill in Boston, and now I can add Paris to that list.

There's something about seeing a place in the early morning light, before it shakes the sleep off and starts to stir, and when that place is Paris it's an order of magnitude more amazing. Let's just say when you start your day with a run up the Champs de Mars and around the Eiffel Tower, it's bound to be a pretty good day.

And it only gets better when you follow that run with a trip to the Musee de l'Orangerie. It came recommended to me by FCA and it was amazing. L'Orangerie was Claude Monet's gift to Paris. Simple. Peaceful. Breathtaking. There are some amazing pieces in the permanent collection downstairs--I minored in Art in college, so I can totally geek out over art, especially the Impressionists. But as amazing as some of those pieces were (Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne), nothing prepared me for the power of The Water Lilies. It wasn't just the paintings themselves, but the entire experience. Two naturally lit beautiful white rooms with four larger than life paintings. I was overwhelmed. Monet, himself, actually painted these pieces. Every single stroke. I sat down on one of the benches in the center of the room to soak it all in and that's when the music started playing. It, like the paintings, was very simple. It started softly and then began to swell. It was impossible for me to not get caught up in it. Even thinking about it now, I'm overcome with emotion. It was a sensory beauty that I've never known. It was so powerful--I was so overwhelmed by the beauty I was moved to tears. I sat there for a very long time, just *being* there.

As I left, I paused in the vestibule, exhaled a deep breath and thought if I lived here, this is definitely where I'd come to find peace and solace and reconnect with myself. When I got home to Seattle, I actually read the museum guide and was so delighted to read that was Monet's intent:
When he donated The Water Lilies to France right after the First World War, Monet wanted to give Parisians a peaceful haven by inviting them to contemplate the infinite before painted nature: "Nerves overwrought by work would relax there just like the relaxing example of those stagnant waters, and for whomever inhabited it, this room would offer asylum for peaceful meditation amidst a flowery aquarium..."
Amazing.

To coin my own little phrase, I'm going to call what happened to me in l'Orangerie my "emotional artburst," and little did I know that was only a precursor for what was waiting for me the next day at Musee d'Orsay (suddenly the retelling of my grand adventure has lost its chronological edge and has taken a turn toward the thematic. What does this mean? I'm feeling particularly verbose about my time in PARIS! FRANCE! The good news, there's going to be a lot more than just Part II. Today's theme: "When LMNT went for a run and then wept openly about art").

Where was I, oh yes, Musee d'O-Oh-my-goodness-rsay. Okay, to say I was excited to go here is a slight understatement. When minoring in Art one takes their fair share of Art History courses. If any of you ever had Art History, you know what I'm talking about when I remember the always darkened classroom, with dual slide projectors advancing you through the different movements: Baroque, Renaissance, Realism, Impressionism, Pointillism, Cubism, Futurism, Pop, etc. And slide tests, ugh, slide tests. Painstakingly memorizing the hundreds of works flashed before you in class, the name of the work, the artist, the date, the style, and how you can distinguish that work from others. At the time it was so very tedious and sometimes I had problems telling Gauguin apart from Cezanne (except when Gauguin moved to the islands and assumed a more cubist approach, or was that Cezanne, or Matisse? See?). Well, when I set foot in d'Orsay all those images, the whirring sounds of the projectors, all those facts memorized came flooding back to me. And let me tell you, the slide you memorize is absolutely no match for seeing the real thing. So many of the paintings I had studied, had memorized for the lines, the colors, the subjects, were lining these walls, just inches away. The colors are so much more vibrant, the brushstrokes so much more passionate, the pieces so much more powerful.

D'Orsay is home to a number of Degas' ballerinas (so lovely), more of Monet's notable non-water lily works (you know, the ones you leaned for your slide tests on the Impressionists), and my favorite artist (and my second favorite painting of all-time) Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Bal du moulin de la Galette. To see this piece in real life was absolutely amazing. I could have stared at it for hours. It was so beautiful it brought me to tears, again. Internets, I'm not sure if you know what I'm talking about, or if I'm just some sappy art nerd (possibly both), but being surrounded by all of these works from the masters deeply touched my soul. I can recreate the feeling in my mind, but it starts to take on the feeling of slides being projected in my mind, a really good rendition but nothing like experiencing it in real life.

When I go to an art exhibit I like to take my time and absorb the energy from each piece; I want to attempt to see and feel what the artist saw and felt. And as I made my way through the museum, it became very clear to me that everyone has their own way of appreciating the art. This really played itself out as I was losing myself in a Toulouse-Lautrec--I've never even liked his work all that much (think Can-Can dancers at the Moulin Rouge), but I was transfixed by one of his grand pieces. It was a canvas that was roughly 12 feet by 12 feet. There I am, just amazed, mouth agape, and working on redefining myself as someone who might actually be okay with Toulouse-Lautrec, when a couple I had seen earlier do a light-speed walk through of the Monet room, blaze in front of me. The young woman stopped for a nanosecond, looked the piece up and down and said, "That's kind of cool." The guy she was with, who had already moved into the other room,  asked,"What is?" And she responded, "Oh, just some big painting." I clutched my heart and made an audible gasp for air and then talked myself down out of hysterics. Even though I'm quite convinced that I was winning the award for "most impacted by the 'big paintings,'" I had to remind myself that there is no right or wrong way to experience art (even though deep down I'm pretty sure I was doing it the right way). Plus, the faster they moved out of there, the faster I could go back to being completely absorbed in the art and my emotional artbursts.

5.23.2011

PARIS! FRANCE! Part I!

Oh, Internets! France is so French; French and fabulous--the art, the history, the architecture, the macaroons. Le sigh.

Being there was a dream come true and so much of what I had dreamed was really true: there are cafes everywhere (on every corner like Starbucks here in Seattle, only in France it’s charming), Sundays are all about going to mass and then heading to one of the many public gardens or parks with your family, people honestly wear scarves and blue and white striped shirts, you can’t walk down the street without seeing someone with a baguette in hand (or in a lot of cases in the basket of their bicycle), mopeds and scooters are the preferred mode of transportation, and the wine, chocolate and pastries are even better than they say. Oh, and I think everyone smokes, and I never thought I'd say this, but they smoke in such an elegantly French way, even the teenagers. And you want to say, "Kids, stop sucking on the cancer stick," but they're just being French, they can't help it. Kind of like the North American tourists who don't know any French can't help the fact that they think the best way to translate English into French is by saying their English phrases louder and slower, "DO. YOU. HAVE. ANY. BREAD?"... "BREAD?"... "BREAD?" Maybe the French are smoking just to calm their nerves after being yelled at by tourists all day long.
How about we jump in to LMNT’s adventure in PARIS! FRANCE!?
The objective of the adventure: to just *be* in Paris--no pressure. To do whatever I want, whenever I want, looking cute, and not waste any of my precious time waiting in line for a tourist trap (more on this later), unless it was whatever I wanted to do at that point in time.
Work wrapped up on Friday afternoon and I arrived with a handful of colleagues in PARIS! FRANCE! The rest of the weekend was going to be about me achieving my objective alone, but Friday I was completely down with kicking off my adventure by playing power tourist with coworkers. As good little power tourists do we hopped on the Metro and went straight to the Arc d'Triomphe. And can I just say that when you climb the stairs from that station. BAM! There it is!

We walked our way down the Champs-Elysees, through Place de la Concorde and le Jardin des Tuileries, outside of the Louvre, along the Seine to Notre Dame where we happened upon the FESTIVAL OF BREAD! and finally stumbled our way down a quaint little alley into a nice little spot for dinner. 


After dinner we took the Metro back to our area of town, which was quite near the Eiffel Tower. The French do a lot of things really well: architecture, art, pastries, but perhaps the most lovely is the lighting of their monuments; the Eiffel Tower is no exception.


We made our way back to the hotel and I crashed. The next two days were going to be full of solo adventure, I needed to rest up in preparation for PARIS! FRANCE! Part II! The part where I run, eat, drink, cry a little, and fall in love with the city.

5.22.2011

Six-word Sunday: May 22, 2011

Returned from PARIS! a changed LMNT.

Internets, believe me I know that I've left you hanging for over a week now. I've been organizing my thoughts, recovering from jet lag, and thinking so much about my future. It's time to get it all out of my head and onto the page here. Take your seat and buckle up, I've got lots in store for you.

5.10.2011

Doing right by Monsieur Beauchamp and Madame Hughes

Hey, Internets! I’m in France! Actually, I’m on the plane to France, but by the time this posts, I’ll be in France! If you’ve been around me for the past week you already knew this because seemingly every other sentence I’ve uttered has pretty much been, “When I’m in Paris next week, because I’m going to Paris and going to be Paris,” or something akin to that. To say I’m excited about this would be a slight understatement. I’m freaking ecstatic because, uh, PARIS! FRANCE!

A little over a week ago I got an e-mail from a colleague asking for my help at a leadership conference in FRANCE! It was short notice, but it’s PARIS! FRANCE! So of course I cleared my calendar, and voila! On y va (away we go… which was also the title of the series of textbooks in junior high and high school French).
For the next week, I’ll just be hanging out, in FRANCE! The first part of the week I’ll be outside of the city with the work conference and then LMNT has the weekend to herself in PARIS! FRANCE! I’m armed with multiple suggestions of caf├ęs, patisseries, fromageries, et plus. A weekend in PARIS! in the springtime. Exhilarating and terrifying. Seven years of French, but it’s been 15 years since I’ve used it. I know more than “Bob,” but not much. I know it’s all going to be fine, more than fine, it’s going to be fabulous. But I do kind of wish I would have bought a book or a map or something before I left. Ah, adventure. And can I just tell you that packing for PARIS! FRANCE! is really challenging. It’s like packing for New York times thirty-eight. Because it’s PARIS! You want to impress the city and look cute and not like a back-packing American tourist. Phew. That’s tough, but I’m pretty darn sure I accomplished it and I’ll be looking cute, sitting at the cafes, sipping wine, eating chocolate, and loving every second of the fact that I’m in PARIS! FRANCE!

Okay, mes petits choux, more for you later. From PARIS! FRANCE! Wish you were here.

5.08.2011

Six-word Sunday: May 8, 2011

Mom, thank you for everything. Always.
As much as I love, living in Seattle, it sure would be nice to be able to see mom (and dad) more often. I can't believe it, but this is my 10th long-distance Mother's Day shout out to you.

Love you. Miss you.

5.06.2011

Cock-a-doodle-don't

So, last year was the "Year of Urban Agriculture" in Seattle. When the Mayor made that declaration urban farmers around the town rejoiced because he and the city council also passed new code which allowed everyone five more chickens per residence within city limits. For those of you counting at home that's a total of eight chickens per residence. Hey, urban farmers, how excited are you?

Apparently the urban farmers that live on my block are REALLY excited.

Internets, let me remind you that where I live is not really a neighborhood that would strike you as a hotbed of agriculture. Which is probably the premise of the whole urban farming revolution: Old MacDonald can have his farm anywhere. E-I-E-I-O.

I can understand how some Seattlites would be all into the urban agriculture thing because they are Seattlites after all, and that's what they do. Drink Starbucks, listen to grunge music, and build chicken coops in their tiny backyards. But my neighborhood isn't really typical Seattle, it's a neighborhood in transition. And even though I sometimes (lovingly) refer to it as the hood, it's not that bad. But the hood better watch out, because the hipsters are a-comin' and they've got EIGHT! CHICKENS! EACH! And they also might be packin' something else, too.

Late last summer I was getting ready for work one morning, when I heard it. The crow of a rooster. I froze because did I just hear what I thought I heard? And then he crowed again. Yes. I'm living next to Farmville. Joy. At the time I didn't think much of it, except I did pause and smile about some cheesy thought that where I live is truly a melting pot where MacBook toting gangsters and chicken-raising crazies and everything in between could all get along. And what a happy lovely thought that was. But that was all before what I will now declare in retrospect the "Year of the Faulty Rooster."

As it turns out, there is quite a debate over roosters within city limits. And I now know why. Uh, urban farmer neighbors? Your rooster is broken. It crows at first light, second light, third, fourth, and 379th light. It crows all day long. I often wondered this since I've only noticed it in the morning when I'm getting ready, but the other day I worked from home and heard it in my living room all afternoon. And then the other night at 10:22 PM. Seriously. Broken rooster.

But there's not much that I can do. If I lived in the master-planned-covenant-controlled-suburban community of my youth, I could call the Covenant Police (seriously, they would patrol our neighborhood looking for scofflaws who had broken the covenant by painting their house non-approved colors, keeping garbage cans in a place where they are visible on the street, building non-approved gazebos, having a satellite dish and then disguising it as an umbrella for your picnic table--all true stories). But there are no Covenant Police in the hood, and it looks like roosters are okay because they have been grandfathered in so they "can live out their lives with dignity and in peace." Dammit. This means I have to respect broken grandpappy rooster. What gives? Where is my dignity and my peace? I think someone left the barn door open.

It also cannot go with out saying... Note to self: if you happen to be flipping through the TV channels and the University of South Carolina is playing a televised baseball game on ESPN, do not assume the rooster call you hear is from your friendly neighborhood barnyard animal. It's actually on the TV, because they are the Gamecocks (but it truly is a spot on impersonation of your grandpappy).

5.03.2011

Conflicted

I feel like I need to preface this post with a couple of very important facts: I consider myself a proud American and I support our troops. I love my country and the freedom I have been afforded as a citizen. And I respect the men and women who serve in the name of our country to protect that freedom. I may not agree with all of the political decisions that have led us into or kept us at war, but I do fervently believe that America is a great country, democracy is a wonderful thing, and those that put their lives on the line to defend that should be honored and respected (so long as they are acting with integrity, upholding our standards and acting in accordance to the values upon which our country was founded).

As the news spread on Sunday that we had killed public enemy number one, celebrations erupted. Crowds in Washington D.C. and New York grew exponentially on the TV screen, Facebook exploded with celebratory status updates, and I even heard several rounds of fireworks in my neighborhood. Myself, I found it really hard to be in the mood to celebrate. Do I think that he was a terrible murderous person? Absolutely. Please don't mistake that, I believe he was horrible and evil and killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children--and no doubt had plans to kill thousands upon thousands more. Tracking him down and killing him might have been the only way to stop him, unfortunately. But the fact that we did that doesn't make me happy. Relieved, possibly. Ready to run out into the streets chanting "USA, USA, USA?" No.

Like I said, I think the only way we could stop him was through this course of action. But stopping him doesn't necessarily keep us safe. There is still evil out in the world, and in my mind evil begets evil. Violence begets violence. We just added to it. He murdered, so we murdered, and then who murders next? The vicious cycle continues. What's our responsibility in halting it? Has it already spun too far out of control for us to be able to halt it? Are we doomed to keep the cycle spinning? I hope not, but I fear yes.

In the midst of all this I found myself wondering how all of my friends who are parents handle these situations. When the media is overtaken by stories like these how do you explain it to your kids? If I had kids, how would I explain it to them? Murder is bad, but it's okay that we murdered this guy because he is really really bad and we are in the right? Yes, I think he was really bad and that we are in the right to protect ourselves, but I just can't get excited about killing people, no matter how bad they are. I was mired deep in these thoughts when I came across this link. It doesn't necessarily make my spirit feel like rejoicing, but it does normalize things for me and make me feel better about not feeling like we just won the Olympics.

5.02.2011

How to feel really old

Last night, I was driving a couple of friends back to their apartment and I was more than delighted to play for them one of my twenty-five cent cassette tapes. I was trying to get my friend, who is around six years younger than me, to guess the artist. The song "I Saw Him Standing There" was playing:

Younger Friend (YF): Ooh. I know this song.

LMNT: Yeah...

A group of women standing on the corner hear the song playing and start dancing and singing along, because it's that good.

YF: Wait isn't this a Beatles' song?

LMNT: Yeah...

Her boyfriend, who is around my age, chimes in from the back seat.

BF: Madonna? Sheena E?

LMNT: No! You guys! It's TIFFANY!

YF: [stares blankly at me]

YF: Tiffany who?

LMNT: Tiffany!

YF: What's her last name?

I died a little right then and there.

5.01.2011

Six-word Sunday: May 1, 2011

Sinuses attacked. Breathing impossible. Commence coughing.

Pretty much sums up my week... at least the last four days of it anyway. Here's to a new week and the new found ability to breathe, smell, and taste my food.

A second helping of cheese

Note to self: Be ye not tempted to shop for music under the influence.

Apparently this is a lesson bound to be repeated. Back when I was a senior in college my parents and I were at some pre-graduation wine and cheese reception (emphasis on the wine) and somehow, post-event, we ended up at Bed Bath and Beyond. Tipsy.

Left to our own devices, we waddled our way to a CD kiosk of "The Sounds of Nature." You know, the one where you push on the small thumbnail of the CD cover art and it plays samples off of that CD. Ooooh. We were transfixed and listened to every sample. Twice. Maybe three times. Before my dad could find us and save us from ourselves, we had bought at least 4 CDs (one of which was Loon Song, and it was just as it sounds, loons set to song. In a word: AWESOME). And we knew while it was happening that it was a bad idea, and by bad I mean AWESOME.

So there I was this week, post-happy hour with AP when we waddled across the street to the Half-Price Books where they also sell way-less-than-half-price cassette tapes. And guess who has  two thumbs and a cassette tape player in her car? That's right, this girl. And because I was two margaritas in, every tape I saw was a MUST HAVE (even though I had already bought most of them at full-price back in the 1980s when cassette tape technology was king). Honestly. Most of these tapes are already at my parents house, but a lot of good that does me when I want to listen to them in my car now. So, at $0.25 a pop (you read that correctly, one quarter each) I bought the following masterpieces:
  • Duran Duran, Arena (recorded around the world in 1984!)
  • Kenny Rogers, The Gambler (I don't know any songs on here but the title track, but it's gotta earn me some street cred to own a Kenny Rogers tape, right?)
  • Neil Diamond, 12 Greatest Hits Vol II (mostly because "America" is one of those 12 great hits)
  • Prince and the Revolution, Music From The Motion Picture Purple Rain (yes, somewhere doves are crying)
  • John Denver, Take Me Home, Country Roads & Other Hits (a collection of some of the first songs I ever fell in love with on cassette tape)
  • Amy Grant, Heart in Motion (Baby, baby, I LOVED this one when I bought it the first time in 1991)
  • Huey Lewis & the News, Fore! and Sports (yes, it is hip to be square, don't hate the playa...)
  • Bette Midler, Beaches (Thank you. Thank you. Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings)
  • Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (the one where she's amazing before Bobby Brown ruined her)
  • Michael Bolton, Time, Love & Tenderness (I know. There are no words, except maybe... AWESOME!)
  • Ace of Base, The Sign (which I never actually owned on cassette, but overplayed the CD my junior year in high school)
And the piece de resistance...
  • Tiffany, Tiffany (Oh, yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!).
Four dollars later (much cheaper than Loon Song), I was out of there and jamming in the Jetta. Turns out it was a good idea, nay, a great idea. Maybe purchasing music whilst intoxicated is actually an AWESOME idea. And in case you didn't know this already, I believe that children really are our future.

4.27.2011

The Great Grout Debate of 2011

Even though I haven't been using it lately, I really do love my kitchen.

On--or around--this date in 2008, I had just completed kitchen demolition and was finding out some of the secrets my 100+ year-old house was hiding.

And even though sometimes I do long for a new house project, I'm really glad my kitchen is done. A few weeks ago I helped AP and her husband tile their kitchen. It wasn't so much that they asked me to help them, but more that I begged them to let me take control of their project (thanks, AP). And it was a good day, a good project, but it's really darn good to have a kitchen that is all done all right (right, AP?).

4.25.2011

Check that one off the list

It's been one week since I ran the Boston Marathon and I've spent the past week eating and sleeping. Seriously. Every time I run a race, I somehow always seem to forget the physical toll it takes on the body, namely that I become absolutely ravenous and cannot eat enough for at least a week and a half and I need to sleep more hours in a day  than a newborn. Suffice it to say, I'm still hungry and am also ready for bed. But I'm going to stay awake long enough to write this post. A post all about the once-in-my-lifetime race.

It was an amazing experience. Incredible. If you ever have the chance to participate in it (stop laughing hysterically, someday you might, you never know), here are some of the things you should do:
  • First, look around at everyone and realize holy crap! They are all really fast runners.
  • Then look at yourself and realize holy crap! You are one of those really fast runners.
  • When they tell you to pack layers for the 3+ hours you'll be spending in the athletes' village waiting for the race to start, believe them. It is cold, even if it's sunny. Pack a sleeping bag, bring a coat, pray for good weather, no wind, and trust in your ability to make friends with strangers (or that you meet up with people you actually know).
  • Slow down. It will be really hard to do that, but you've got to do it. You're going down hill with a few thousand of the world's fastest runners and just as many people cheering you on the sidelines. It's really easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush, but don't.
  • Run on the edge of the street and slap as many hands as you can. Nearly the entire 26.2 mile route is lined with crowds of people cheering you on, extending their hands as a never ending line of high fives. I'm pretty sure I touched every kid (and a fair number of their parents) in Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, and Natick.
  • Put your name on your shirt. Yes, on the outside of your shirt, in big bold letters. I'm not going to lie, it looks a little ridiculous, but people will say your name and not wear it out. Trust me, you're going to need it. It helps give you that little boost to keep those legs moving. The overall benefit outweighs the dorkiness.
  • When you run by Wellesley College and the scream wall enjoy it. You can hear it coming for a good quarter mile. It's loud and you might have some permanent hearing loss because you ran too close to the entire student body screaming and waving signs begging you and all of the other runners to kiss them because they are Irish, or from Montana, or are an English Major, or are not your husband/boyfriend/wife/girlfriend, or are a geek, or a jock, or whatever. It's fun and man those girls can scream.
  • Heartbreak Hill is a challenge, but if you trained in Seattle, you've run much tougher hills (and if you slowed down in the beginning like I told you too, your quads won't be screaming at you as you climb it).
  • Have your parents wait for you at Chestnut Hill Drive, just past the mile 22 marker, right where the road curves and you start to head downhill into Boston (and if you don't take that advice, then run with your cell phone and try to figure out where they are while you're running. Don't panic if you think you've missed them, you haven't. There are two roads named Chestnut Hill. They are at the second one. See, there they are holding the giant fluorescent orange poster with your name on it). To them, you look like you're running really well because a) you're going down hill, b) you're at mile 22 and you're excited to see them so you speed up, and c) everyone around you looks like running zombies (don't worry at mile 26, some official photographer will take your picture during an inopportune blink and you'll like the running un-dead too, but you're not there yet. You still look good. Well, as good as you can look after torturing yourself for 22 miles).
  • Give your parents your fuel belt and anything else that you are royally annoyed with, but take a water bottle and another gel just because you might need the extra energy those last four miles (but realize soon thereafter that EVERYTHING IS COMPLETELY ANNOYING TO YOU RIGHT NOW. TAKE A SIP FROM YOUR WATER BOTTLE AND THEN THROW IT AS HARD AS YOU CAN TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, BECAUSE REALLY?! COULD IT BE ANY MORE ANNOYING?! The answer to that question is no.)
  • Don't believe "them" when they say it's all downhill after mile 21. They lie.
  • Do believe them when they say it's downhill after the Citgo sign (trust me, you won't miss the Citgo sign) at mile 24. And when you pass said Citgo sign and wonder why the crowd is 8-10 people deep and everyone is wearing Red Sox gear, it's because you're outside of Fenway Park. Look to the right, apparently it's over there. Or, you could just continue to look at the Citgo sign to the left and mutter a few curse words about that "downhill" you just ran up (those liars)! And then keep wondering for the next two miles when you're going to see Fenway Park.
  • Remember to keep breathing. When you turn on to Boylston and are within blocks of the finish line and you start to hyperventilate (again) because you're so overcome with emotion, and you're about to cross off a REALLY big accomplishment on your "life's list of things to accomplish," and the big crowd is cheering and calling out the name you have written in big bold letters on your shirt, and photographers are taking your picture (even in spite of the fact that you look like you just crawled out of the grave), and you almost start to cry, and then you realize you stopped breathing, inhale. And then exhale. And then inhale again, and keep moving.
  • Cross the finish line. Revel in the accomplishment. Try to regain your mental faculties and spend an hour trying to find your parents. And then eat. And eat and eat and eat and don't stop for at least a week and a half.