Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Blogday

This little blog just turned 100-posts-old. Never when I started did I think it would last longer 2 posts, but here we are. Cyberspace is probably not changed because of it, but I know that I am. I know it’s customary to write a “100 things about me” list for the 100th post. But, just thinking about it caused me a lot of worry. I agonized about what “things” to include. What would be important enough or interesting enough to make the list? For example: Do people really want to know that I don’t have my ears pierced? Or, that I do have a scar on my knee from an unfortunate tennis accident in high school? (By the way, I do believe I’m the only person that’s sustained an injury from playing tennis. Single’s tennis. I tripped and fell, and I think I heard my mom audibly gasp in the crowd.) Or, will people want to know that I once broke my arm in 7th grade playing basketball? (Again, I think I heard my mom gasp in the crowd.) I then considered writing a few Top 10 lists of my favorite places and things I’ve done. But it all seemed forced. Instead, I’m writing an abbreviated version of the “100 things about me.” Consider this the Cliff Notes version of Tootie: - I’m blessed with an amazing family. I could brag about them for thousands of posts. But, since this is supposed to the short version, I’ll just say that they’ve given me so much joy in my life, and they have profoundly shaped the person that I am today. - I love to laugh. Jerry Seinfeld is my favorite comedian. Husband and I saw him perform live once. Until then, I never knew what a pure joy it was to laugh for two straight hours until your stomach hurt. - I served in the military for five years after college, and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments. I learned so much about myself, our country, leadership, and service. And, as a priceless bonus, I met the love of my life (Husband, of course) in the military. - Believe it or not, deploying to the Middle East was probably one of the best experiences of my life. Never in my life have I had so few comforts, but yet had so much gratitude. It was humbling and eye-opening, and I will never forget it. - Mother Teresa is one of my heroes. My favorite quote of hers is: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” - Husband and I took an amazing cruise for our honeymoon of the Mediterranean. We visited Italy, Greece, and Turkey. - My husband and my dad are both pilots. When they are together, there is much talk of altitude, engines, altimeter settings, and other things I can’t quite decipher. - I’ve always liked writing of some sort. At age 8, I wrote my first book, “Tall Tales,” (published only in the notebook I wrote it in) that included stories about a bracelet, a friendship, and, of all topics, insurance fraud. (I know. I was a strange kid to write about that last one.) - I started keeping a journal when I was a teenager, when I wrote almost every night. I filled up about 10 journals, probably full of all sorts of teen drama. I continued keeping a journal of some sort until last year, when I started this blog. With that, I think I made a secret wish of my mother’s come true who used to watch me write in journals and wonder what I wrote about. Now she knows, and now all of you do, too. - Since I got out of the military, I’m working on my Master’s degree. Truthfully, I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do after I finish my Master’s, but I trust that I’ll find whatever I’m meant to do. - I like yoga, sushi, books, photography, reading, magazines, balloons, traveling, and dark chocolate. - I love the beach and everything about it - the water, the sand, the birds, the sky, the footprints. Some of my favorite memories are being at the beach. - People fascinate me, which probably explains why I love people-watching in airports and reading other people’s blogs. - I always stop at lemonade stands because I remember what it’s like to be that kid hoping that someone will stop. - My husband lives to make me laugh (in his own goofy way), and I live to laugh at his jokes and antics. - Cooking has never been my strong point, but I’m slowly learning and I’m enjoying the process. Maybe I should add, “I fib” to the list, since this seems longer than any Cliff Notes I remember. Regardless, happy blogday to my little blog. Thanks for reading about my life and letting me into your lives, too! And, if you need an excuse to eat cake today, feel free to use my blogday as an excuse.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Recap of the family visit

My parents left after church yesterday to head home. It was a fun visit, and we did quite a bit while they were here: toured around town, did some projects around the house, and, of course, did a lot of eating and talking. Here’s the overall recap: - Our lawn is now making a full recovery. It must have sensed it was in the presence of gardeners because it’s starting to look greener and less like the scruffy mess that it was before. - We discovered that the locals here are extremely friendly and helpful. When we got lost looking for a place we later realized that doesn’t exist (despite what the internet said), we stopped at a gas station and had no less than 3 people helping on our behalf. One man went out to the parking lot to ask his dad, another called his wife on his cell phone, and the clerk found a map for us. Score one for the locals. (Although my sense of direction scores no points for this one.) - My sense of direction also earns no points for being unable to find the recycling center, despite two separate attempts. We finally realized that driving aimlessly and wasting gas canceled out the potential benefits of recycling the 2 cans, the glass jar, and 3 newspapers in my trunk. - Husband figured out where I get my aggressive stance against bugs. My mom pushes bug spray the same way I do, as if our lives depended on ridding the bugs forever - or on a generous commission from the sale of bug spray. - Three uninvited guests crashed our family gathering: two scorpions and one black widow spider. The black widow was outside, and the two scorpions snuck in the house somehow. But all met the same fate – death by a large, blunt object in Husband’s hands. If he hadn’t intervened, my mom and I were ready (not surprisingly) with bug spray. - The old dishwasher-that-overflowed-and-ruined-the-carpet story (from a family visit a few years ago) never gets old, and it’s retold at every subsequent family gathering, including this one. - Family visits make for a great excuse to have an ice cream dessert after every dinner. It was a great time, and I was sad to see my parents go. I guess I’ll have to eat ice cream for dessert this week in their honor.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

My parents arrived here safely. Or maybe I should call them my “landscape team” or “lawn rescuers” instead. Apparently my gardening ignorance is (thankfully) not a hereditary trait because my parents each brought both of their green thumbs with them. Simple math tells me that four green thumbs outweigh one black thumb any day, which means that our lawn might actually have a chance now. We decided to complete the rest of our landscaping project on Earth Day because we are very environmentally conscious and celebrate all environment-related holidays. (Actually, we didn’t realize it was going to be Earth Day, until I happened to glance at the calendar yesterday.) But, it does seem fitting. What better way to honor Earth Day than by working in the yard? This will be a significant departure from how I usually celebrate Earth Day, by completely forgetting about the holiday altogether and saying “huh?” when someone mentions it. This year I’ll be outside digging, planting, and watering. My black thumb and I can barely believe it. But, the evidence will be dirt under my fingernails and the company of the two nicest gardeners I know (who happen to bear a striking resemblance to me). Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Things I've Learned: #1

1) It’s definitely worth the time to visit an old friend. I enjoyed getting away, and it was fun to catch up. I should do this more often. 2) Even still, it’s nice to come home after a trip. I guess Dorothy was right. (The ruby slippers are optional, though.) 3) Having Husband waiting for me to welcome me home was wonderful. Having Master’s homework waiting for me wasn’t quite as wonderful. 4) GPS navigation systems may be the perfect antidote for my navigation woes. My friend brought hers on our trip, and we didn’t get lost once. Hearing a calm British voice say “recalculating” after a wrong turn is much more pleasant than hearing a panicked American voice (my own) say, “I’m lost again!” 5) I usually have one flustered outburst before we have company arrive. Thankfully, I’ve gotten the outburst over with this morning, so I should be calm(er) when my folks arrive tomorrow. 6) Exclaiming “But our spices aren’t organized either!” is a bit dramatic and unnecessary in the pre-company outburst noted in #5. I’ve never known anyone to complain after a visit, “We had a wonderful time with our family, but it’s too bad that the disorganized spice drawer ruined the whole thing.” 7) I like doing a random list of things I’ve learned, and I’ll probably do this again sometime.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Leaving and then Cleaning

I’m going out of town for a few days to meet up with a friend from the military. I’m looking forward to the girl-bonding time, which is sure to include lots of conversation and ice cream. (We have a lot to catch up on, so it’ll be at least 4 cones worth.) Husband will have his own bonding time with, I think, the beef and bean burritos from his grocery outing and some episodes of Mythbusters. It might not sound like it, but for him it will also be a thrilling time. When I return, I’ll be doing some special bonding time with the mop and the vacuum for Operation Clean Before the Parents Arrive. They’ll say not to worry about cleaning, but I will do it anyway. Besides, I’ve gone this long with having them think that I keep a very tidy home, and I’d hate to shatter that image now. It would be traumatic for all involved. The first priority will be actually donating all of the items in the boxes cleverly labeled “Goodwill.” Though I know my parents would be delighted about our charitable giving, I don’t know that they would be as delighted that the charitable items are occupying the bed that they are supposed to sleep on. And, there might be a layer of dust on our floors that needs some attention. The swiffer and I have had a love-hate relationship, but I’m hoping that I can mend things between us for the sake of our poor floors. Have a good week! I’ll be back with some new blog material, and a mop in hand.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My first 5K

Even though I’m training for a marathon, I had never actually run in a real race…until today. I entered in a local 5K race because it sounded like it would be fun. (And I needed to run today anyway.) The best part about it was that I had a surprise guest runner join me: Husband! Usually my only running partner is my MP3 player, so it was great to have him run with me. And, as a bonus, Husband pretended that the slow pace I set was actually fast enough for him. The weather was pleasant, and it was a good run. We finished behind all of the fast runners yet (thankfully) before the walkers. We didn’t win anything. Surprisingly, they don’t award prizes for mediocre runners. But, if they had, I know we would have totally won. I would have especially won something in my category: completely unathletic women that are attempting to run a marathon this fall. I know I have many miles to go. But, I can also appreciate how far I’ve come. I actually decided it would be a good idea to get up early on a Saturday and go running. I also thought the whole thing would be fun. And it was!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The dentist’s office or a spa?

I’m going to write something that I never thought I would write. Here goes... I truly enjoyed my trip to the dentist yesterday. Usually, I think of dentist trips as sitting under the light (a rudimentary interrogation lamp) where you feel guilty for not flossing enough and try to answer questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” with a mouth full of metal tools. But yesterday, my trip was completely different. It involved a massage, chocolate, magazines, and Cesar Millan (aka, the “Dog Whisperer”). I’m not even joking because I would never joke about important topics like chocolate or Cesar Millan. I went into the dentist, observing and noting everything, ready to report to my friend (also new to the area) because she wanted to know if she should go to the same dentist. (The short answer is yes! Please go to this dentist!) First, I was impressed by their magazine selection. The magazines were all current, there was a good variety (travel, current events, fashion), and they were all neatly laid out in protective coverings. I enjoyed my 10 minutes of reading the magazines. (Truthfully, I wouldn’t have minded waiting a little longer to browse through a couple others.) The dental hygienist was pleasant and friendly. Imagine my surprise when I sat in the chair and noticed there was a TV! Turned to Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer show! Something about hearing Cesar Millan’s voice talking about “calm, submissive dogs” made me just want to roll over and relax. Next came the massage. The hygienist called it a “neck and face cancer screening,” but I wasn’t fooled. It was a great, relaxing massage. Then she polished my teeth, and I detected the distinct taste of chocolate! I asked her just to be sure (was I dreaming?), and she confirmed that it was chocolate mint flavor. Apparently, dentists have finally figured out what the rest of us have known for a long time (that chocolate is a good thing), and they’ve finally ended their decades-long boycott against it. Oh, and the dentist was great and did a thorough check of my teeth. The best part is that our insurance actually paid for this. Please don’t tell them how much I enjoyed it, or I might be forced to go to a dentist with ragged magazines, no massage, no chocolate, and elevator music instead of Cesar Millan. My teeth and I have come too far to go back there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A phone call for my parents

We’ve gotten a couple more calls from telemarketers. (It’s my own fault. I hadn’t registered our phone number on the do-not-call list until today.) Yesterday evening’s phone call made me laugh, though. I’m in the middle of making dinner, when the phone rings. I answer it, and the voice at the other end says gently and slowly, “Is your mom or dad at home?” I laugh. Do I tell her that my parents live five states away? Or, that my parents gave me permission a long time ago to answer the phone on my own? Or, that I’m old enough to be a parent myself? Instead, I laugh and say, “I’m the lady of the household.” The conversation continues, and she asks me if I want to subscribe to the paper. If I had to re-do the conversation, I would have said, “No, they’re not home. Sorry.” And the best part is, I wouldn’t have been lying! So, in that case… Mom and Dad, do you want to subscribe to the paper?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Inspiration from a frog

I was looking through some of my old pictures, and I came across this one. I took it a while ago on a layover in the Atlanta airport. It inspired me then, and it still inspires me now. (I mean "inspired" in the general sense, since I neither eat flies nor date a pig. Just for the record.) I think you get the picture (no pun intended).


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lawns that Rock

I noticed a rock lawn on a run recently. (It is exactly what it sounds like – an entire lawn made up of decorative rocks and zero grass.) I was unsure what to think of it at first. But, now that we have our own (high-maintenance) lawn, I realize that it’s nothing short of genius. Here are things that you probably wouldn’t hear in a household with a rock lawn. - Honey, will you please go mow the rocks? - I guess we better hire a rock-guy to mow our rocks while we’re on vacation. - Can you go water the rocks? - Do you think we need to buy some fertilizer for the rocks? - There’s something wrong with the rock-mower. I think we need to buy a new one. - Are our rocks dying? - Maybe we should re-seed the rocks. I think it’s too late for us to convert our grass lawn into rocks. But, maybe it’s not too late for us to start camping out at the rock-lawn residence and calling it home. We’ll give them a lawn mower and call it a fair trade. We’ll even throw in some fertilizer and weeds for free.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Celebrity Runner

Did you know that I was a celebrity? I didn’t either. But I figured it out on a run last week. I was on the final stretch on my run in our neighborhood, when the paparazzi caught me by surprise and started taking my picture. I didn’t know what to do (be nice and stop to give an autograph?), so I settled on continuing to run. For all the negative things you hear about the paparazzi, they seemed harmless to me. These photographers were two pre-teen girls, who snapped my picture, giggled, and then ran into their house. I think there’s a logical reason for all of this, though. They must have mistaken me for celebrity-runner Katie Holmes, who finished a marathon last fall. We look a lot alike: she with her perfectly manicured hair, stylish work-out gear, and make-up on her face; I with my perfectly unmanageable hair in a sloppy ponytail, mismatched work-out gear (if a ratty t-shirt and old shorts count as gear), and leftover breakfast on my face. I can understand the innocent mix-up. Apparently they figured out their mistake because I haven’t seen any sign of the paparazzi since then. I’m ok with it, though. I’ve grown to appreciate my celebrity non-status. And even my ratty t-shirts, too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Housewarming Hot Dogs

Not too many people think “hot dogs” when they think “housewarming gift.” But thankfully, my dear friend N and her husband do. Because they are just that cool and they know us that well.

They live in Chicago, and they sent us a “Tastes of Chicago” gift, complete with Chicago hot dogs (with all the essential toppings) and Chicago pizzas. We were ecstatic. (If I had known what goodness was waiting in the box when the UPS man delivered it, I might have hugged him. And offered him a frozen hot dog.)

We’ve already gobbled up one of the pizzas and almost all the hot dogs. And, as we did, we recalled our last experience with Chicago hot dogs.

We were visiting the city for this same friend’s wedding. Since Husband is crazy about hot dogs (in a way that I can’t convey in a short blog post), we decided to hit a real Chicago hot dog eatery.

I found a couple of recommended hot dog joints in the airline’s in-flight magazine. (If you’ve ever wondered who actually reads those magazines, the answer would be – me.)

Then I used a very methodical process to select a restaurant, by picking the first one listed in the article (as opposed to one that might actually be nearby) cleverly called
Hot Doug's.

We left our hotel in downtown Chicago, and we hopped in a cab.
I handed the driver the address. “All the way to North California St?” he asked.

I answered “Yep!”

Nothing was going to come between us and a great hot dog. Or doug. Or whatever.

So we drove. And drove. When we got on the highway, heading out of the city, I knew we were in trouble. I wondered if he was bringing us to California the street, or California the state! The meter was already up to $16, and I panicked. “Are we almost there??” I asked him. He assured us that we were.

A few minutes later, with $20 on the meter, we arrived at Hot Doug’s. Thankfully, we had enough cash to pay the cabbie, and even a little to spare to buy our lunch. Husband asked him where we could catch a cab for the trip back, and he assured us that “many cabs” pass by there.

The place was a tiny joint, but full of quirky memorabilia and, of course, a menu full of various hot dogs. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. (Husband would recall that I mooched too much of his coke and I should have ordered my own, but that’s a different topic altogether.) The hot dogs were delicious and were certainly worthy of a mention in an in-flight magazine and more.

We walked out of the restaurant, ready to find one of the “many cabs” that supposedly pass by the area. But there were none to be found, and there were barely any cars passing by.

Finally, we spotted a bus that was stopped. And, in an embarrassing move, I knocked on the glass door and then asked the driver a series of questions about the bus system as if I were an alien from another planet. It’s probably good that the driver didn’t suspect that I was actually once lived in the Chicago area, since he probably would have scolded me and left us in the dust. Instead, he was quite helpful and polite, and eventually we made our way back to our hotel.

We went to the wedding rehearsal the next day, and my friend asked us what we did in the city. “Oh, well, we went to Hot Doug’s for a Chicago dog.”

“Oh wow. All the way there?” she asked.

Yep, all $20+ in cab fare and a couple hours in travel time on the return trip that involved both a bus and train.

From then on, she knew then that we were serious about hot dogs. So what a perfect housewarming gift for us.

Now I take my dog with ketchup, mustard, and relish. Just hold the onions and the cab fare.

Friday, April 4, 2008

They found us

I’m totally amazed that in less than a full week of having our telephone connected, the telemarketers have already found us. Not only that, they asked for us specifically by our first and last names. (I might have to give them bonus points for pronouncing our names correctly.) If the calls weren’t on the annoying side, I’d go so far to say that I was almost impressed by how quickly they tracked us down. The first call was for some sort of trial offer for magazines. Clearly they did their homework on this one - I’m a big fan of magazines. But, I’m also smart enough to realize that their “free” offer is probably going to cost me money. I politely declined. The second call was asking for a donation for a police organization. It was followed immediately by the third call, where a woman informed us that we were entered in a raffle to win cash prizes. Oh, and I supposedly “won” a watch with diamonds on it. (How come I’m lucky enough to supposedly win a diamond-encrusted watch, but I can’t score a decent parking space at the grocery store?) Again, I politely declined the offer. Notice I said, “politely” declined. There’s a good reason for it. I wish I could say that it’s because I’m always nice and patient with everyone I encounter, including irksome telemarketers that call at dinnertime. But, really it’s because I know what it’s like to make those phone calls. I, um, once spent a summer during college calling alumni asking for donations for the university. It was definitely the low point of my working career, falling behind even the summer I wasted away as a clerk at a souvenir store. I don’t know what the worst part about the job making those calls – knowing that I had sold my soul, or knowing that I had sold my soul for a mere $6 an hour. (Let’s face it. I put my soul on clearance.) From that summer experience, I took with me my puny earnings – and the lesson to always be nice to the human on the other side of the phone. I will continue to politely decline their offers. And promptly add our number to the “national do not call” registry.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Letting Go

I’m really proud of Husband. He finally has released the death grip on his old cell phone – his first cell phone, kept for memory’s sake – long enough for me to finally get rid of it.

I first discovered it when we were packing up, two addresses ago. Again, like the extra mash potato masher, I thought it was a no-brainer that we get rid of it. Turns out, he had actually kept this vintage 1990s-model cell phone on purpose. He hadn’t used it in five years, but that didn’t cause him to raise many reasons why he absolutely needed this electronic antique.

“But what if I need to refer to my old address book in the phone?”
(I didn’t want to break it to him that all of the people in his address book moved on with the twenty-first century and have subsequently gotten new numbers and phones since then.)

“But it’s my first cell phone.”
(My first cell phone is long gone, along with my first computer, my first CD player, and my first TV. But I’m still alive to tell about it.)

“What if I want to use it for a joke?”
(He’ll get no laughs with this phone from the stone age, only looks of pity. Mainly in my direction.)

“What if I need it for an emergency?”
(Contrary to what you’ve heard, people no longer ask “is there a doctor here?” when there’s an emergency. They now ask “does anyone have a decades-old cell phone that no longer works?” Or, at least that’s how it is in Husband’s mind.)

Despite all of this, he finally agreed to give it to charity. (I’m going to send it off quickly before he changes his mind.) The charity we chose,
Cell Phones for Soldiers, recycles the phone and uses the money it gets to donate phone cards to the troops.

I’m relishing this small victory. Let’s just hope that someone starts a “Fat Albert Shirts That You Never Wear for the Troops” or “Tacky Albert Einstein Ties for the Troops” soon, so he can kindly donate those items as well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Keeping me Honest – and Running

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten about training for a marathon was to tell everyone I know about it. (Notice I didn’t say “the best advice,” which might have been to avoid the whole marathon thing altogether. Kidding.) But seriously, with that advice, I’ve told family members, friends, and acquaintances. I’ve told anyone that wanted to hear – and probably some that didn’t really want to. And, of course, I’ve told everyone that is reading this blog! It really has made all the difference. Every time someone asks me how my training is going or shares their own stories (running or otherwise) with me, it has motivated me. It’s also kept me honest. Without this help, I know precisely when I would have quit this whole marathon business. It would have been last week on a particularly tough run. I purposely waited to run until late afternoon, when I thought it had cooled off. But, I underestimated the heat and humidity. Through each twist and turn in our neighborhood, I had to use every ounce of energy I had just to keep myself going. Ironically, my run took me by a house with a “911 Emergency Truck” parked in the driveway. I considered knocking on their door, since they were obviously in the business of rescuing people. But, I guess forcing yourself to complete a run in extreme heat isn’t called an emergency. (It’s called cra-z-y!) When I finally made it home, my face resembled a red tomato, ripe with sweat. If I hadn’t told everyone I know about the marathon, I would have thrown in the towel right there. But, I didn’t. And I haven’t. All because of the great people around me (in person and in the virtual world) that have encouraged me. Thank you to everyone that has commented on my blog and inspired me in some way. I know that it’s keeping me going, and I’m very grateful! With your encouragement (and some luck), I’ll complete the marathon this fall – without the help of the 911 Emergency Truck.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My excuse to talk about Magnum, P.I.

I’m happy to welcome in the month of April. This month will bring signs of spring. But, more importantly, it will bring an end the to the torturous “Moustache March,” a terrible tradition among some military men to sport bushy moustaches on their otherwise nicely clean-shaven faces.

Thankfully, Husband did not participate in this tradition. Our neighbor, unfortunately, did. I’m sure this neighbor has a very nice face, but it’s hard to tell, since we’ve only seen him with an outrageous moustache. Same goes for the male church-goers we’ve seen on Sunday at the base chapel.

I’m not against moustaches. Just look at Tom Selleck (aka Magnum, P.I.) Never has a moustache – or a Hawaiian shirt – looked finer.

Maybe I just have a thing for Magnum, P.I. (It’s my dad’s fault for showing me so many episodes of the show when I was a kid.)

Hypothetically speaking, I might have made Husband take a picture of me in front of a “Magnum, P.I” poster when we were in Hawaii. And, he might have complied, after asking repeatedly if it was really necessary. (Of course, it was! Hypothetically, that is.*)

Anyway, so let me be the first to wish you a Happy Moustache-Free April! Unless you are Tom Selleck. In that case, please keep that healthy moustache in April and beyond – and please reconsider my autograph requests.**

* Ok, so it all really happened. I’ll understand if you stop reading my blog.
**I did not really ask Tom Selleck for his autograph, but perhaps I should.