Friday, November 30, 2007

Proud Momma

Now I know what it feels like to be a new mom. I didn't know I was capable of loving something this much:

Isn't it perfect? And like some insects, I will now eat my young.

Cat's Away

Thank God our bossman (or bosswoman) isn't here 'cause I just jumped up and down when @ told me she'd buy me a Carol's cookie at Whole Foods. Then, noticing the inadequacy of my bra, I jumped up and down again, only this time, I held my chest. As if that made it OK. Then I said, "Maybe it's time for a new bra."

Yeah it is.

That's what she said. Well, that's what @ said.

Capitol Krazy

You know what they say… when the cat’s away the mice will caption funny pictures of them

Here’s something I don’t talk much about… people. Particular people – with the obvious exceptions of @, my sister, Meg, MM, Anastasia, KD, Laura, the bus driver, other bloggers, my sister’s boyfriend, my mom, TR… to name a few – I don’t say much about, especially when I find someone to be irritating or – let’s say – nuts. To simplify: I don’t bitch about people on my blog.

Because I am class personified.

Yeah. With a Kapital K.

Point being, that changes here. I promise not to make this a habit, but I need to share/vent/get some advice/think about my personal safety (maybe I don't need to think about my personal safety).

My downstairs neighbor is crazy. Seriously. If I go missing or something, now you know (of course, my across the hall neighbors also display signs of crazy, but they don’t talk to me, so it’s fine).

OK, I don’t think she’s that crazy… more reckless, dramatic, and a bit too forthcoming with the personal details of her somewhat screwed up life (which very obviously became that way because of her choices). I won’t go into those details. But when she first moved in, I introduced myself. Neighborly of me, right? And there was a part of me that thought, “Awesome! A twenty or thirty-something single female in the building! Maybe she’s cool.” She’s not.

The first time I ran into her after our initial meeting, I was on my way to meet a date, but I stopped and chatted, mentioning that I was running late to meet someone. Clearly, I was leaving the building. Clearly, I had plans. Clearly, I had not signed on for a 20+ minute conversation about every maintenance issue she had in her apartment. At that point, I identified the neighbor in question as a time-sucker. Clearly, she and I were not destined to be friends – not in my opinion anyway.

The random meetings continued. She would corner me in the hallway when I was on my way home from work or on the back deck while I was running up and down the stairs to the basement trying to finish my laundry. I learned way more than I wanted to know about her crappy relationship with her boyfriend, his bizarre living situation, the guy she is cheating on him with, her issues with her place of employment, her complaints about the apartment building, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. It was annoying, but rare, so I dealt with it. I commiserated for a few minutes and then made excuses so I didn't get too involved. Then, about a month ago, she confronted me about noise coming from my apartment. It only happened once (in the three months she had lived there), but she thought it was best to come to me first. Fair enough. I’m all about good neighborliness, and I'd rather not piss anyone off. And, she's obviously a complainer. (Of course, in roughly six years of apartment living, I have never had any issues with anyone.)

That's not actually the point though. During the course of one of our longer-than-I-would-have-preferred conversations, I mentioned MM – I can’t exactly remember why – and his profession. Bad move on my part.

Yesterday, there was a note attached to my mailbox:
Hi, This is your downstairs neighbor. I have a question for a [MM’s profession]. The next time he’s over, could he come down and knock on my door.
Um… NO. You are not going to commandeer my boyfriend for a God knows how long about whatever drama you have stirred up in your life.

Is it wrong of me to be annoyed/weirded out? Should I ask MM to talk to her and hope he comes out alive? Should I try to tackle this on my own? Should I ignore her? Help!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

De Sugar

haz gone 2 mah brainz

Today I Ate Some

I must always remember

That a box of 123 Jelly Bellies

Is not a single serving

It is actually 3 and a half servings

And no matter how many times I tell myself

While standing in line at Trader Joe’s

That I will only eat one serving of Jelly Bellies

Before I put the box away

And save it for tomorrow

I will, without fail,

Open the box before I have left the store

And eat half of it

(Approximately 61.5 Jelly Bellies)

During the two block walk back to my office

And, without fail,

Immediately upon returning to my desk

I’ll eat the other half

While browsing the Internets.

What was I trying to remember?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Magical Mystery Tour

Look at me and all my environmental-friendly-ness. More like my lack o' vehicle-ness.

Morning: I take the bus.

Evening: I take the train.

Morning: I am too lazy to walk to the train.

Afternoon: I am too lazy to walk to the bus.

Both decisions result in me having a longer walk once I have reached my stop on respective method o’ transport.

I have a new relationship with a -- wait for it -- bus driver.

Every morning, if I’m 10 minutes early or 10 minutes late, I have the same bus driver – four out of five days, at least. I don’t know how this happens, and after almost three years of utilizing buses, I can report that this is the first time this has ever happened to me.

Every morning: I get on the bus and say hello, he says hello and how are you? I nod or smile and take my seat. He's very nice. That was our relationship for about a month. But now, when I get off the bus, he waves at me… which kind of makes me feel like I’m 7-years-old.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Poor and Unnecessarily Educated

About a month ago, my new bossman called me into his office to powwow about – God how do I even begin to describe? – everything under the sun about our organization and the job I do. Then, towards the end of our meeting, he asked me this:
What gets you excited about your job?

Hmmm… let me think. No just gimme a minute. I’ll come up with something… Hold on… I feel something… it’s coming… Nope. Just indigestion. Sorry.

I stared at him thinking that silence would go over better than, "Uh... Nothing."

Well, I do enjoy being in constant communication with @ for eight hours a day, but I suspect that was not the answer he was hoping for.

Reality check time, people: I’ve lost the ability to even lie about being completely uninspired by my job and marketing as a career choice – the career choice I very deliberately made when I applied to and subsequently spent a ton of money on graduate school. Crap.

There are plenty of reasons why I have become so disenchanted with my choice, but around the age of 26 I realized that I never actually considered the idea that I could do something else (whaaaaaat?). Every career choice I have made to date has been based off some personally decided upon TRUTH that I was destined to be a communications/marketing professional.

My thought process: People tell me I’m a good writer --> I will go into PR --> I don’t like media relations (does anybody?), but I have all this communications and marketing experience and I like to write --> I will go into marketing.

Tada! Career choice consider yourself made.

The only skill I ever focused on was writing – and it’s true, I love to write. But, I didn’t actually think about what else might interest me (who said marketing was the only career that involves writing?). And of course, writing was also the only thing I really thought I was good at (as evidence here -- duh).

Other myths I mistakenly believed to be true about me:
  1. I wanted to be a part of corporate America and climb the career ladder. WTF was I thinking? Climbing the so-called corporate ladder is pretty sucky mcsuckerson. So a big N-O to that one.
  2. I wanted to make a boatload of money. Everyone wants to be comfortable, but it was a huge weight off of my shoulders when I finally realized that money was not enough of an incentive for me to sacrifice having a life. And, if working 55 hours a week made me miserable, money certainly wasn’t going to balance the scale back in favor of happiness and fulfillment.
  3. I would be content with a desk and a computer. A few months ago, I visited a physical therapist at Athletico, a rehabilitation center. It hit me that these people (the physicial therapists) have jobs that do not require them to be chained to a desk and stare at a glowing screen all damn day. That, I thought to myself, is the cat’s pajamas.
I know a lot about me now that I couldn’t have possibly known when I was 21 and applying for my first job out of college. Still, it’s dumbfounding sometimes how simple these realizations (the so-called “light bulb” or, for the Oprah fans, the “ah ha” moments) are: What if I wasn’t in marketing? What if I didn’t sit at a desk all day? What if I only made [insert less money here]? And, most importantly, what if I didn’t base my decisions about my future on the decisions I made in the past?

Monday, November 26, 2007

There Ya Go

OK. After eating like a maniac for several days, I have decided that I would finally get back on track. First and foremost, I plan to make dinner every night this week. Every night. No excuses. None.

Tonight I made black beans and rice. It's an old recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook that I've had since I was in college:

Spicy Black Beans and Rice
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil or cooking oil
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups hot cooked brown or long grain rice

Directions

In a medium saucepan cook 1/2 cup onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown. Carefully stir in the drained beans, undrained tomatoes, and ground red pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

To serve, mound rice on individual plates; make a well in the centers. Spoon black bean mixture into centers. Makes 4 servings.

Tried and true... and easy (which is key).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Full Frontal

Thanksgiving is the holiday when Sarah and I bring significant others home. I had been talking to my mom for some time about MM. She might have asked me if I was going to bring him home to which I might have scoffed and said, “Whatever Mom. I’m not asking him to come home for Thanksgiving. It’s too soon.”

But I had a plan.

While sitting on my couch with MM, sometime in late October, I said, “I talked to my mom today. My mom is nuts. She keeps inviting you to Thanksgiving. I keep telling her that’s crazy.”

To which he responded, “I would go to Columbus for Thanksgiving.” As if it were, like, no big deal.

Oh. OK. Well, it’s not as if I was attempting to test the waters with the “listen to this… my mom is crazy” bit, but now that I know…

And I invited him. He bought a plane ticket. In a matter of 12 hours it was done. All that was left to do was hope that he and I would stay together until November 21 – which was almost an entire month.

Seriously? What was I thinking… inviting him a month in advance thinking that we’d actually be together long enough that he would be able to come with me?

Oh ye of little faith.

With about two weeks to go, I could sense that there were no foreseeable obstacles between us and Thanksgiving. No major friend meetings, no work functions, no birthdays or holidays, nothing to royally screw up. I started to feel confident that he would indeed accompany me home to Ohio.

Obviously we made it…

I happen to be one of those people who is very "My Family" centric. I like my family. It’s unlikely that I want to deal with your family. That's just the way it. It's selfish and a little childish, but the truth is I'd rather be hanging with my people, and not your people.

Why? Because my family is awesome. My family knows how to sit around and bullshit and laugh. That's what we do best. And that's why Thanksgiving is my family's favorite holiday. Because there is no major social engagement or stressful gift buying/wrapping/giving to get in the way of the sitting and bullshitting and laughing (and eating). I get exponentially louder (and cough – funnier – cough) around my family during holidays.

This was trial by fire for MM – not only would he meet my mom, grandma, and sister, but he would meet Sarah’s boyfriend Lars, my mom’s fiancé, his daughter, her new husband, and his child from a previous marriage.

Luckily everyone got along, and I found to my delight that Lars had an audience with MM, which meant that I could get up and walk away from their conversation about Lars’ physics theories and go nap on the couch.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We're All Winners

On Thanksgiving morning, Sarah, Lars (Sarah’s bf), MM, and I ran a “race.” I “quote” race because it wasn’t even chip-timed (WTF?). Lars told us he was going to lose. He did. Still, he got a medal (everyone did). And he wore it the rest of the week.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thank Godness

You can't blog on Thanksgiving. That's God's day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

OK. So, Uh...

Well we're here. 4am wake up calls are the best. Thank God I did not forget to write today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

For My Next Trick

I will direct you to @'s blog, which will -- in turn -- direct you to an article.

About Condoms.

Spray-on condoms.

My favorite part of the article was when it told me this:
The condoms will be available in red, green, yellow and transparent, but they won't come in different flavors.
Which made me think that a spray-butter flavored condom would be a good idea. What with my love of spray butter... and...

You know what... let's forget we ever started to have this conversation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

You Are On Fire

I am living in my head these days. So when I was “running” with Meg tonight I had several very philosophical moments when I would say something then I would repeat it slowly, using words with fewer syllables, and punctuation it with a reflective, “Yes. That’s it,” as though I had just proven String Theory or developed a cure cancer or devised a plan to save the pheasants.

Anyway, I detoured through the Jewel post-run because I was rambling on and Meg needed some groceries and she offered to buy me ice cream (usually something I only do when I’m alone). Since I was sans my money, I took her up on it because that’s what I wanted for dinner. Yes. I wanted ice cream for dinner. You wouldn’t know it to look at me this week, but that is the space my head is in. My head is in the “ice cream for dinner" space. Go ahead, judge me.

See? This is why I buy and eat ice cream alone.

Anyway, to further fuck up this story and reveal how much crazy actually resides in this here head o’ mine, I had this revelation (an “ah ha” moment for the Oprahites) while we were standing in the frozen food aisle:
You know Meg, when I get weird and depressed and all up in my head like I am now, I have this obsessive need to buy diet books and exercise DVDs. This might have made sense two years ago (pre-my fabulous running self) but it doesn’t really make sense for a person who works out five or six days a week to buy these things. (Or does it?)
What we have here, dear readers, is the identification of a pattern of behavior... or me thinks the crazy is always the same. Sadness = excessive focus on body image. Excessive focus on body image = obsessive and impulsive purchasing of diet and fitness paraphernalia. And least we not forget the ice cream... that simply must be a piece of this puzzle.

And that’s not even the real issue.

The real issue is my j-o-b.

A Departure

I do not watch The Bachelor. I have never watched The Bachelor (lie). I'm not above bad reality television, but The Bachelor. No Thank You Very Much. Watching seemingly accomplished women in their twenties and thirties throwing themselves at some muscle-bound douche makes me a bit queasy.

But, without fail, I always (ALWAYS) catch the last half of the final episode when Douchey McDoucherson picks his future ex-bachelorette.

I cannot roll my eyes far enough back in my head. I just can't. The cringe-worthy speeches, the cliched declarations of love, the empty promises, the (cough - bullshit) moments of "The first time I saw you," and "the moment we kissed," and "I knew..." blah blah vomit hurl puke.

This time the bachelor turned 'em both down. Wait. How do I react to this? Do I continue dry heaving?

Yeah. I'm pretty sure that's the right answer.

Soap Dreams

Lou is in need of a vacation.

I’m the type of person who – in order to get my life in complete order – needs to first experience complete disorder. I operate on the ends of spectrums in accordance with the rules of procrastination. I think perfectionism is a disease. Like Buckeye Fever.

So here’s the thing… I have no clean running clothes. Um. OK. I have no clean clothes period. Well, I have some clean clothes. But, I don’t like those clothes. So, I’m going to continue to Fabreze the not-so-clean clothes I do like in order to avoid wearing the clean clothes that I don’t like.

Fabreze is God’s gift to lazy people. But even I know that I’m operating on borrowed time.

Which brings me to laundry night. The bane of a city apartment dweller’s existence. You live in a city and you don’t own yo’ house? There ain’t no chance you have a [free] washer and dryer in your unit.

Thus, laundry becomes infinitely more complicated: there is the management of one’s quarters; the carrying of heavy baskets through hallways and up and down stairs; the potential of getting your detergent/clothing/towels/underwear/dryer sheets/quarters/fill-in-the-blank stolen.

Dear GOD it’s a taxing, an entirely unfulfilling process. It makes me want to eat ice cream and sit on the couch in sweatpants watching television ignoring the outside world with all of its societal pressures of wearing clothes that have been recently washed.

Of course, a lot of things make me want to do that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Projecting

Lou is not responsible for her actions.

Two days and counting. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday morning (at 6:15am no less), MM and I get on an Ohio-bound plane for Thanksgiving. He’s going to meet my mom, my grandma, my sister, my sister’s boyfriend, my mom’s fiancé, my mom’s fiancé’s daughter, my mom’s fiancé’s daughter’s husband, and my mom’s fiancé’s daughter’s husband’s son.

Whew.

Part of me feels like I should be scared. I actually warned him last week that I may freak out at some point – say or do something, I don’t know, crazy or something. But, so far, so good. I think we’re going to make it to the plane sans a Lou meltdown.

The truth is, I’m excited. I can’t wait for him to meet my mom and my sister, as well as my sister’s (slightly crazy) boyfriend – who, by the way, keeps asking if MM likes energy drinks (long story). I think they will get along. I hope they will get along.

Anyway, I know this is kind of a lame-ass post, but I haven’t brought a new person home in years. Everyone I’ve dated seriously in the last few years was in some way recycled or re-purposed… MM is the first brand, spanking new boyfriend since… well, probably since I was 23.

So. Two days.

Deep breath.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Challenged

Lou is ready for the big game.

Once a year, I have – what I believe is – a really good excuse to start drinking at a bar around noon on a Saturday. It’s not like it hasn’t happened for bad reasons, but today I have a good reason:

Ohio State vs. Michigan

College football is the only manly-men sport I love to watch. Where I come from, being a Buckeye is practically the law. It’s everywhere. It’s a religion. It’s a disease. I fought against it for a long time because I’m anti-establishment and the like, but eventually I realized that I’m kind of a joiner at heart, and I gave in. And frankly, it’s better this way. Because this way, I have a valid excuse to go drink and scream at a television on a Saturday morning. I do love me some screaming at the TV.

Friday, November 16, 2007

For Truth and Consequences

Lou is old.

Apparently three drinks on a Thursday night is three drinks too many.

Ug. I actually left work under the guise of a migraine. OMG, am I 22?

I left work with a HANGOVER. WTF? I can’t think of any more three letter acronyms to describe my outrage with this situation.

Of course, I’m not exactly operating with a full deck today.

Here’s another tip: Remember not to drink too much and go home with a “migraine” when your building’s management has decided that now is the time to rebuild the deck outside your bedroom window.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On Mah Radar

Lou is losing it.

I went to bed early last night and got up late this morning.

I started signing my work emails: ‘Sanks, Lou.

I’m wearing a sweater today that I already wore to work on Tuesday (shhh… don’t tell anybody).

I was “yelled” at (passionately scolded?) for emailing a co-worker about setting up a meeting to discuss an upcoming project rather than just walking into her office and asking her to set up a meeting. Pick your battles much?

A vendor took a few of my co-workers and me to lunch where I announced that I had already worn this sweater to work this week.

I’m working out with TR tonight and I want to cancel.

Happy Hour tonight. Pro: I could really use a drink. Con: I could really use more sleep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Filed Under Nostalgia

Lou is always finding new ways to waste time (specifically, at work).
Feministing is my new bible. This week, it gave me this post: BSC and SVH: OMG!

Which led me to this blog: BSC Headquarters

Which is dedicated to blogging out the Baby-Sitter’s Club series. OMG is right. I’ve been reading for an hour now, tripping down memory lane, and LOL-ing at the lame character references:
  • Claudia is the artsy one who’s clothes are crazy with a Kapital K.
  • Stacey is the sophisticated New Yorker with diabeties (she’s also really skinny – see the shit that sticks with me?)
  • Dawn is the cool California girl. She does her own thing ‘cause she’s an individual… from California.
  • Kristy is the bitchy tomboy (hate, hate, hate the word “tomboy”)
  • Mary Anne is the pushover.
  • Jesse is the dancer. (OK. I don't really remember her.)
  • Mallory’s parents don’t believe in birth control, so she’s basically a surrogate mother to her 40 some odd younger siblings. (OK. I don't really remember this one either.)
And they’re all like… 11 or something.

The series, which I read almost religiously, made babysitting seem oh-so-awesome, which is a completely and utterly misleading. After I babysat a handful of times as a pre-teen, I realized that the only thing babysitting provided was a socially acceptable excuse for a 14-year-old girl to play with dolls... and like $2 an hour (Hello! Minimum wage anyone?).

I heart the Internet. What on earth did people read before blogs existed?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pheasant Evening

Lou is convinced that her new beer cozy is bad luck.

What’s with these all-you-can-drink bar fundraisers, anyway? On Friday, I went to an all-you-can-drink, bags tournament fundraiser at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville.

I must be the only twenty-something, northside Chicagoan on the planet who had never been to the Cubby Bear, but when I walked into the vast open space of a club, I was shocked. I always assumed that the Cubby Bear – situated on a plot of land worth about a bazillion dollars because it’s directly across from Wrigley Stadium – was a dive bar (a Cubby Hole, if you will) fashioned with plank tables and middle-aged men laughing heart disease in the face while downing American beer, eating a variety of fried appetizers, and talking about “da Bears.”

First of all, I realize that my vision of the Cubby Bear is based on a Saturday Night Live sketch. Second, I realize that “da Bears” are not “da Cubs.” Totally different set of balls.

I went upstairs to the event, followed by another woman. There was a sign on the door:

Pheasants Forever

“Pheasants,” she said vaguely in my direction, “I’m paying to support pheasants?”

Outraged, I’m sure. I already knew what I was in for, so the initial shock of “Seriously? Pheasants?” had worn off.

There must be something better than this. Shouldn’t we be saving the children or curing cancer?

From their Web site: Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

OK. I know. We’re all green now, right and this is environmental. I’m sure it’s a worthy cause. However, this charity caters to hunters – let’s keep the land stocked, so we can continue shooting at stuff. I’m not really “pro” hunting. I’m not really “pro” gun… or any kind of weapon. Moreover, my hatred of pigeons has – over time – ballooned into a general, non-discriminating disdain for all birds because… in my opinion… they are dirty and scary. And no, I don’t wish I could fly. And people who have birds as pets… *shudder.*

So let’s say, I was not thrilled to be attending a fundraiser for pheasants. Luckily, I didn’t pay my $25 cover to get in, so I felt better about it.

Regardless, the evening was not without personal gain. I managed to finagle (read: pretty much stole from some drunk frat boy who wasn’t watching his beer) a fancy beer cozy with the Pheasants Forever logo on it. It’s camouflaged. Perfect for all my hunting/drinking/drunken gun shooting needs (those pheasants will never know what hit ‘em when my practically invisible beer can knocks ‘em outta the sky).

So proud of my acquisition of the beer cozy, I took it to the following day’s neighborhood football team cookout where I showed it off to every single person. “Wanna see my cozy?”

Two things happened there:
1) A football – thrown by the team’s coach – nearly missed my face, but made contact with my very last beer from New Glarus Brewing Company, which I had imported from Wisconsin.
2) The Buckeyes lost.

Fucking Karma.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Comic Timing

Lou is reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

On Sunday night, I spent two and a half hours on the phone with one of my best friends from college. Anastasia is married, has a one-year-old baby, and a fulltime job, so I don’t get upset when she and I fall out of touch from time to time. It happens. A few months of busy schedules isn’t going to change the depth of our friendship at this point (10 years later, we’re stuck with each other). We all have friends like that. Time apart means nothing.

The last time Annie and I spoke extensively was when she and KD came to visit me in late July, a few weeks before MM and I re-met and started dating. So, needless to say, much of my conversation with Anastasia was spent bringing her up-to-date on the new boyfriend, which lead to me re-remember my first date with MM.

I believe I've told the story about how when MM and I first met and I turned him down because I had started dating someone else. When we met the second time, I was extremely busy at work, training for the marathon, and all-around over-booked. We tried to pick a date, but I ended up agreeing to what was little more than a “let’s play-it-by-ear” plan for the week. It was unintentional on my part, but also unavoidable. I was canceling plans all over the place because of my very-huge-mongous work project. I simply couldn’t commit (per usual). And yet, I didn’t want to give him the impression that I was potentially trying to blow him off again.

A few days later, it was Thursday night and I had plans to go to an outdoor event with some girlfriends, but severe storms ripped through the city and the event was canceled. I was riding the train home with @, when I had an idea: What if I just text him to see if he wants to meet up tonight? I wavered. I waffled. Is last minute planning really ideal for a first date? @ encouraged me to go for it. After all, what does one have to lose?

At 8pm, it was still raining when I met MM at a neighborhood bar. When he sat down across from me, I noticed the polo shirt he was wearing had a crest on it. I looked closer at the writing above the graphic.

“Does your shirt say, ‘Hogwarts?’” I asked.

He looked down at his shirt as though he wasn’t quite sure what he was wearing. “Yes,” he answered.

“Like the Harry Potter school?”

“Yes.”

“You’re wearing a Harry Potter shirt... on a date?”

“Yes.” He had his reasons. None of them were… let’s say… good, but whatever... I'm willing to overlook fashion flaws. So, I let it slide. Well, except for the fact that I’m still telling the story.

He proceeded to tell me about his love of the Harry Potter series, which I had never read. On our next date, he showed up with a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – the first book in the series.

“I thought you could read it on your trip to Europe.”

A few weeks later, I was in Switzerland at an Internet café. Unsure of when I would be connected again, I took the opportunity to email him that I had finished the book. Only, I hadn’t finished the book. I just wanted an excuse to email him and that was the best I had. I finished it a few days later on a bus between Chamonix and Nice, France. Thank God.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chillaxin'

Lou is spending her Sunday catching up on her Tivo.

I should probably be cleaning. Doing Laundry. Pretending like I care that tomorrow is Monday. But instead, I’m lying on the couch, drifting between asleep and awake, watching my recorded shows. The lineup:

The Soup: I heart Joel McHale, but I think this week’s show suffered from the writer’s strike.

Friday Night Lights: Come on, FNL! I am so pissed about this season’s uber-dramatic, completely unrealistic Landry/Tyra murder plotline. WTF? Did they seriously need to do that on a show that is so good at depicting teenagers? For realz.

America’s Next Top Model: This week’s episode ended with the “plus size” model getting the boot. Plus size? She was probably a size 6. True… the judges all but said, “You’re too skinny to be a plus size model, but to fat to be a real (?) model.” Thems the breaks I suppose. I hate this show.

Boston Legal: I fell asleep mid-way through this episode.

Grey’s Anatomy
: I gave up mid-way through this episode. I’m two weeks behind on Grey’s and I may be letting it go forever. I’m sick of hearing about Meredith’s issues. Yes. Yes. Meredith, life is complicated. And seriously, no one buys this George and Izzy bullshit. What happened to this show?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More or Less

Lou is embarrassed to admit that she downloaded Britney Spears' single, "Gimme More."

The journey that ended with me pressing the button that said "Buy Now" at the iTunes store began with a ride in the Zipcar.

I'm not really one for driving. I don't likes it much. But, once in a while, taking a trip in the Zipcar to Target to buy stuff makes me feel like a normal person who lives in a place where she can just pick up and drive to Target and buy stuff whenever the fancy strikes her.

Dogs get excited about their once-in-a-blue-moon car rides. So do I.

My favorite thing to do in the Zipcar is to listen to B96, a radio station that makes me decidedly un-hipster-like, and wait for songs like "Soulja boy" to come on so I can car dance.* It's a treat for me. Simple things.

Anyway, because I am lame and old and no longer watch MTV, I hadn't actually heard Britney's new song, "Gimme More." I heard it on the way to Target. And, on the way back. And I fell in L-O-V-E.

Oops, Britney, you did it again (admittedly, I only actually own Toxic and Gimme More).

I downloaded it and danced around my apartment… for the next three days.

*Whatever. You car dance too. You might try to hide it. But you're doing it. You're doing it right now. Right now you're driving, dancing, and reading this blog on your Blackberry.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Names and Faces

Lou is short for Louisa. Not Louise. Not Lucy. Not Lucifer.

For me, Lou and Louisa are two distinct identities (not personalities people; I'm not that kind of crazy). I’m kind of like a human mullet. Louisa is business; Lou is a party.

Kind of.

As a kid, I wished I had been given a “good” name, like Jenny, or at the very least a “normal” name, like the one my sister Sarah got. The neighborhood boys got a kick out of turning my name into Weezy, Weezer, and Lucifer (a perennial favorite). But eventually, I embraced Louisa because it was different. It set me apart. While there were countless Jenny’s and Stacey’s and Beth’s, there was always only one Louisa.

My family, especially my mom and my sister, have always called me Lou. It somehow became the name-of-choice for best friends and boyfriends. Over time, I started calling myself Lou because eventually, I realized that’s who I am. Louisa tends to be a name I use for work purposes (though when stay in a job for a decent amount of time, people start calling me Lou). Louisa represents a more formal side of my personality, a little shy perhaps, decidedly less likely to curse excessively. Old people call me Louisa. My dad calls me Louisa. People who don’t really know me call me Louisa.

Lou, on the other hand, is outgoing and hilarious. Lou dances like a maniac and sings karaoke (even though she knows she is a horrible singer). Lou is a little more optimistic than Louisa.

As you may have guessed, 99 percent of the time, Lou writes this blog.

By the way, if I hadn’t been named “Louisa,” my mom was going to name me “Portland…” which would have been pretty cool, but not easily nickname-able. (Port? Land? Landie? Porty? Oh God... I probably would have been called Port-a-Potty as a child. Talk about scars.)

Doesn’t everyone have an “my mom [or dad] wanted to name me…” name?

Focused Chaos

I decided today that if I’m going to make it through an entire month of MoBlo then I better come up with a theme o’ sorts.

I’ve decided that my theme will be a series titled, “Lou is…” Everyday, I’ll write a post that exposes a fun fact about myself that you may or may not already know and/or that I may or may not have already written about (I can’t keep a year and a half of blog content straight people, so… yeah). It may not always start with “Lou is…”

Commitment is not my thing.

Lou is commitment-phobic.

It's like Facebook. On Crack.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hall of Fame

@ got me hooked on this blog, Feministing, and while I’m regularly (read: daily) horrified at the various news items and issues these exceptionally talented women blog out, I felt the need to link to this particular post about a gym in Denver, given the sometimes diet and fitness focus of my blog. I'm truly a believer that fitness can change a person's life, but negative reinforcement (i.e. targeting "chubbies" with ads that make fun of obesity and suggest suicide is a solution) is not the way to motivate people. In fact, it likely has the opposite effect. That's just one of the many -- countless, really -- issues with the Anti-Gym and it's self-promoting owner Michael Karolchyk.

I did take a look-see around the Anti-Gym’s Web site because… you know… I don’t have real work to do or anything. It’s a whole lot of unbelievable. What compounds the absolute disgusting nature of this guy and his "anti-gym" (WTF is an anti-gym?) is that he’s trying to make us believe that he has some sort of benevolent health and wellness message wrapped in a package of porn-inspired, girl-on-girl photos, name-calling, and cruelty. Thanks douchebag, you’ve done a real service to the community.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Impulsing

I don’t like to shop. Never have. The process, the patience, the ability to find something cute on sale in my size… all of these skills elude me, and – in my old age – I have come to accept myself as not a shopper, not stylish, and really not too terribly concerned with fashion. Shopping just doesn’t do “it” for me.

But you know what does do “it” for me? Spending a boatload of cash in a very short amount of time.

Now depending on your situation, “boatload” probably means something different to you than it does me. I’m talking $100-$200 every couple months on some random, I-just-decided-that-I-can’t-live-without-this purchase.

Today that purchase was black knee-high boots… and a sweater… and a skirt… and some tights… and a Trader Joe’s frozen enchilada… and some pretzels.

I spent – in total – $178.78 in all of 45 minutes simply because I needed to. I can’t explain it; I can’t justify it. I just needed it.

I feel better now. And, I have a cute new outfit… and lunch.

Now that I've confessed my sins via the Internets, I can move on. Retail therapy for real.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Out With Old

My food "addictions" (see The Watch List) tend to come in pairs: hummus and pita bread, Trader Joe’s Soy-flavored Rice Crackers and crumbled goat cheese, toast and spray butter (Ew, right?). Put Oasis Hummus and a package of pita bread in front of me and it will be gone in an embarrassingly small amount of time. Yeah. You heard me, one sitting. Go ahead; judge me.

But I’ve found that if I take one of the two items and eat it alone or pair it with something else, I can enjoy something I like without going completely overboard. Hence, an entirely new set of snacking options. For example, I now pair hummus with pita chips. I know, this doesn’t sound like a better option. But for some reason, I am able to keep the pita chips in check, whereas a package of soft pita bread, warmed in the microwave is the equivalent of a snacking landmine (a "snack attack" if you will). I can enjoy pita chips in moderation and then put them away.

Anyway, I went to my favorite place in a two block vicinity of my office today: Trader Joe’s. Per usual, I found some exciting new items to try:

• Trader Joe’s Pretzel Slims
• Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Pita Chips (Sea Salt variety)
Gnu Foods Flavor and Fiber Chocolate Brownie Bar

I’ve never seen “Gnu” bars before, and after reading the label, I figured it was worth the $1.69 to try it. Most of my readers are well aware of my Go Lean bar fanaticism (see My Latest Obsession) and while some of the initial fascination with the Go Lean bar has worn off, I continue to eat them regularly for breakfast or a pre-workout/mid-afternoon pick-me-up snack. But, while Go Lean bars are organic-ish, they still contain a lot of unidentifiable ingredients (what the hell is Crystalline Fructose or Mechanically Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil?). The Gnu bars say clearly on the front of the label “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” and “No Artificial Anything.” The ingredients list is short and fairly understandable.

So, I'll give them a shot. And without all the unidentifiable ingredients, I’m sure they will taste like crap.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Good Kinda TV

Maybe it was like this before I got into running and I just had no idea because I was more concerned with the rising cost of my Marlboro Lights rather than training for 26.2, but it seems like lately the subject of normal people running marathons is discussed, debated, and examined all over the place.

This weekend, MM and I watched Nova: Marathon Challenge, which asked and subsequently answered the question, What happens when you take a group of novice runners – some overweight, all fairly sedentary – and train them to complete the Boston Marathon?

I never watch Nova. In fact, I rarely watch PBS (with the obvious exception of the Chicago show Check Please!). Luckily I subscribe – or somehow my email address found its way on – to about 20 different running e-Newsletters, so I found out about the program through the Internets and quickly set the Tivo. Tivo comes through per usual. Thanks Tivo. You’re the best.

Within about three minutes Nova had me hooked. Of course, I’m a sucker for a “triumph over the odds” story, and being one of those people who went from nada to running distance races as a lifestyle, it’s always inspiring to see people like me, particularly Betsy who arguably had the most physical barriers to running, but eventually became the fastest woman on the Nova team after dropping 40 pounds during training. See? Aren't you inspired?

Watching Marathon Challenge also made me wish I had a more of a quantitative record of my fitness level when I first started running. Sure I have this blog, which I started about five months after I took my first steps. That’s qualitative. I want numbers. Specifically, I want this number:
VO2max, theoretically, is the volume of oxygen a person can consume in one minute as he or she exercises at maximum exertion. In practice, it's measured by hooking up test subjects… to a breathing apparatus and having them run as hard as they can. In endurance sports, you rely on oxygen to convert the fuel you get from food into energy for your muscles. VO2max is usually expressed in terms of body weight (milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight), so merely losing weight can improve your score over time.
Who even knew something like that could be measured?

Finally, I have a new idol. This womanI think – has the career that I may someday want.

If you’re interested, you can watch Nova: Marathon Challenge online.

Do it. Do it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Check Yourself

It's Sunday. 4:30pm. Almost dark outside (thank you very much Daylight Savings Time). I’m sitting here in my apartment in a sports bra and yoga pants, half-watching, half-participating in Billy Blanks: Ab Bootcamp DVD, which I bought at Borders a few days ago. I also bought the 10 Minute Solution: Blast off Belly Fat DVD, which is a series of five 10-minute abdominal workouts. I plan to add a solid 20-30 minute abs workout to the days I run – generally Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – because honestly, I don’t feel like a 30-45 minute run is enough of a workout. Finally, although I have no intention of actually following the diet, I purchased Jillian Michaels' (the super hot, bad ass trainer from the Biggest Loser who I’d totally go lesbian for – not the blond with too many feelings – hey that sounds like me) new book, Making the Cut. Reading diet books is kind of a sick and twisted hobby of mine.

Are we noticing a theme here?

For reasons I can’t articulate, I’ve spent almost a solid week in my fat jeans, the most logical answer to a few days of low self-esteem and body image issues. This doesn’t happen as much as it did before I began running and only worked out (irregularly) to an end goal of weight loss. It wasn’t until training took hold of my life and my goals became bigger (perhaps better) that I realized strong trumps skinny every time. For me, there’s something very satisfying about working out when it’s not just about the lbs.

But lately, I’ve been beating myself down a bit. I haven’t gained weight – in fact, I’ve lost a little, but I feel frumpy. I look in the mirror and think, “Gross.”

I know it’s not right, and it’s not fair to lay on ya’ll (I can almost hear the collective groan). I should be stronger than unrealistic societal norms about the ideal female shape, and love myself and my body no matter what… female empowerment… vote for Hilary … take back the night… hear me roar... blah blah blah.

Whatever.

I feel fat. (There. I said it. How's that for some roarin'?)

I suppose it’s normal every so often to feel a little less than stellar about one’s bod for no reason – no good reason – and I’m coping. And, instead of heading down the usual spiral out-of-control because I feel bad about myself path (read: I am NOT coping with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s), I’ve decided to try a little bit of incentive, which tends not to work for me, but hey, we’ll give it another shot. So, a few weeks ago, I made a deal with TR that if I lost ten pounds by Thanksgiving, he would give me a free, private session in return. Nice. He gets expensive. And I do love me a workout session with TR… if only for the gossip…

We shall see if this motivates.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Small Miracles

Little things excite me these days. A ride in the Zipcar. A trip to Target. An impromptu sushi dinner with some neighborhood friends. A great six-mile run in a faster pace group. A free-ish weekend. The Tivo-ed Office episode that’s waiting for me. A “plan” to sleep until noon on Sunday (yeah right, that’ll happen).

Ah yes. The little things.

Last weekend wore me out. It was @’s birthday and beyond action-packed. The itinerary:
  • Friday night: Happy hour with tapas and sangria
  • Saturday morning: Kick off of winter half marathon training season
  • Saturday afternoon: Visit with UndergroundChi and her sister, my ol’ college roommate who came in from Wisconsin for a wedding.
  • Saturday night: @’s birthday party
  • Sunday morning: 5K. What the #%$@#? Who decided this was a good idea? Talk about the beginning and subsequent end of my “drunk and running” career. I posted my worst 5K time ever and nearly puked at the finish line. Good times.
  • Sunday later morning: Brunch. Still hungover.
  • Sunday afternoon: Football game. Still hungover
  • Sunday later afternoon: Celebrate (mourn?) another loss at the neighborhood bar. I figure a couple of vodka tonics will take the edge off. Two things: 1) I believe this is how alcoholics are born, and 2) I was wrong. Still hungover.
I’m exhausted just writing/remembering last weekend. So I’m taking this weekend off. No drinking. No crazy schedule. No alarms. No getting up on Sunday morning for any reason other than being fully rested and ready to face the day.

Friday, November 02, 2007

And Then There Were Two

Last night, I was pressing send on my phone – calling to finalize the evening’s running plans with Meg – when the thing in my hand started ringing.

“Hi Mom,” I answered.

“Hi Lou… I have some news.”

She sounded happy, but my knee-jerk reaction was to assume something bad had happened. Oh God, someone's dead.

“I’m getting married.”

"Huh?"

"Really?"

"Are you serious?"

I probably should have verbally jumped up and down, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when someone tells you that she is getting married. But, my mom -- really? -- she’s notoriously anti-marriage.

A little bit of background: my parents announced their divorce nine Christmases ago (yay for the holidays!). She was engaged once before about three years ago, but called the whole thing off for a variety of valid reasons – one being that she didn’t want to get married again... at least not to that guy. But, Sarah and I believed her when she said, "Not ever going to happen," even when she started dating this guy a year and a half ago. We -- at least I -- believed her even when it became more apparent that she and this guy weren't going to break up... ever... at least not in the foreseeable next decade or so. Life partners. Maybe, companions. That's my mom. She's not the marrying kind.

I guess we was wrong.

Both my sister and I had the same question though, “Are you actually going to go through with it this time?”

“Yes,” she conceded, “I think I am.” That’s about as close as we’re going to get to a definite with her. We'll take it.

“Can we tell people?”

“Can I post it on my blog?”

Wait a minute. I forgot to ask that one.

As my mom tells it, deciding to get married was carefully and logically discussed, debated, and thought through. My mom deserves to be happy, and moreover, deserves to be with someone who is going to live a life that she wants to live too. There you go. This is the guy. I see that. It makes sense. Sense is good.

And – Bonus – Sarah and I get a really cool stepsister out of the deal (do we call people that still? I’m not a fan of the “step-” prefix. There must be something better). And really, isn’t it always all about Yours Truly? And, of course, Yours Truly’s Lil’ Sister?

P.S. Mom told me on the phone yesterday that they had planned to announce this at Thanksgiving. I’m glad they told us sooner, because… ahem, well… hey almighty blog conscience… is it time to tell them yet? No. Not yet. Eek! I hate when we get all heady up on this here blog. Stop talking to yourself where people can read you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

No Mo Blo


This sounds fun: NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month.

But I’m going to informally shorten it to this: NoBlo, which in my head means this: November Bloggin’. I think it’s cool because it rhymes and sounds a little dirty… seedy, if you will. I found out about NoBlo from LSass' blog. And really, who can resist anything that has an lolcat on it? I hartz it ur logo.

Basically you’re supposed blog everyday in November. Welcome to entry #1. I know. This time, I've outdone myself.