1.28.2011

this cure doesn't come in a Rx bottle...

(I may be dead before I finish this post...nay, before I start it. The cat has lost his little kitty mind and is dive-bombing me from the windowsills. The intent is to maim, if not kill outright, I feel sure....the malicious little bastard.)

So it's Friday. Which is AWESOME. Because I have a real reason to walk away from work.

...which is weird, because usually I'm totally ok with made-up reasons to walk away from work.
(my phone is dead!)
(I'm "unavailable" because my favorite store at the mall is having their "Let's have a sale! Again!" Sale.)
(I'm trying to teach myself how to nap. Zzzzzzzzz.)

Lately, however, my conscious mind is finding anxiety to be fascinating and please-can-i-have-some-more tasty.

Not. Cool.

So, work! A rare lunch out courtesy of my boss (do we spend too much time together if we order the same thing off the menu? because KPW and my hubby are close to being tied. I may need to expand my circle of friends just so I have someone else's dinner to taste once in a while! although it's nice to have one's good taste corroborated by other, quality, people...ahem...), and a nifty French horn concert (- show of hands, how many people never thought they'd see "nifty" and "French horn" in the same sentence?? Yeah...me too.) were lovely bookends to a day of waiting for puzzle pieces to fall into place. There are a few aspects of my job that, if rushed, always turn out poorly. And those are PRECISELY the things I'm trying to rush.

(Shocker.)

It's always been my M.O. when I'm nervous - get it done as quickly as possible, and shine it up later. But, for an AMAZING number of things? Well, that strategy doesn't so much work...you cannot, in fact, shine a turd.

Patience. The universe reeeeally wants me to put my money where my mouth is and get comfortable with gray areas, with discomfort, with uncertainty, with waiting. I feel like I'm being given baby steps...
from the last trip...'09??

(Which, in and of itself? Is terrifying.)

To combat the terror? A night with the girls. Since two of my call-in-the-middle-of-the-night-when-the-world-is-ending girlies still live in Pittsburgh, we've picked a little town about halfway between there and here for a night of wine-drinking, good food eating, and big-scale kibbitzing. There's a nice hotel with a swimming pool and a scenic lake, and a charming town nearby. I'm throwing clothes into a bag first thing tomorrow morning, picking up some lovely French wine en route, and singing my fool head off for several hours as I drive to Western Maryland. We may be emptying out coke bottles to fill with wine so that we can drink at the "no alcoholic beverages" pool. We're going to talk our fool heads off...and maybe save the world while we're at it.

(Think of it as the  Sancerre edition of the Butterfly Effect.)

Paradise.

I can't WAIT.



 My five:
  1. Spending the morning singing at the top of my fool lungs.
  2. Reunions. I love those girls.
  3. Reading more, surfing less...this video thing is totally good for something!
  4. Smartwool socks. BEST SOCKS EVER.
  5. Mix tapes...did you pick up your mix? If you did, share your fav tunes with me! (Please??)

1.26.2011

1.26.2011 snow day!

So! It's snowing!

Boo is in doggie heaven. I've shoveled the drive three times already, and thereby justified another glass of wine from the unexpected cardio. Hubby is stuck (read: enjoing beachy drinks and sand between his toes) in Florida for another night.

(Which means I have control of the clicker for one more night. Bravo tv, anyone?)

And, with an early dismissal from work and closed offices tomorrow? I'm feeling a little more relaxed, a little less pressured than I was earlier today.

(Maybe it has something to do with that extra glass of wine...)

Here's to muffled nights...to the laughter of the neighborhood kids...to candlelight...to bundling up and working up a sweat and shovel blisters...to finding some stolen time to pursue those things that are important, but get pushed aside all too often.

And here's to music. Since this little corner of the interwebs is private, I can leave this playlist up a little longer! These are a few quiet tunes...perfect for a lazy morning when your offices happen to have been oh-so-fabulously closed.

My five:
  1. Snow - it's WAY easier to keep track of a black dog on snowy nighttime walks!
  2. GarageBand and my keyboard. Fun times, when I can shut my censors up!
  3. Pink pesto sauce. I could slather that stuff on EVERYTHING.
  4. Good reading material.
  5. Soft quiet.

1.23.2011

The sky is freezing! The sky is freezing!!!


I will never, ever get used to the DC area news. Especially the weather-related news...I am totally unable to inure myself to the hype machine. After returning from balmy Florida, I turned on the tube and there they were, telling me that if I were so dumb as to venture out into the weather this weekend I'd be rewarded with frostbite or something equally unpleasant.

Brr. It took very little convincing that an immediate and freezy death would overtake me should I leave my house. 

So yesterday. I begged the hubby to walk the dog, and started a huge work project on my laptop. (that has totally sucked up my weekend. blargh.) I did laundry, made some chili, and started writing/doodling in an actual, pen-and-paper journal. (It's my second. Ever. In my whole life. I had a diary for several adolescent years, but didn't really get into writing every few days until, well, this blog. Someday I'll post an entry or two here for your amusement. LAWDY it's bad.) I lit candles and played in the wax. I avoided the outdoors.

I ventured out in four shirts, wool socks, a down vest and my warmest tennis-ball hat (It's fuzzy and chartreuse, with a brim. It looks horrible on me. I think that's why I love it so.) to walk the dog around 4pm.

And guys? I DIDN'T DIE. I didn't freeze to death! My fingers got a little burny-feeling when the sun went down, but I was largely ok after a 2.5 mile walk.

So today, after walking the dog  I pulled on my cold-weather running gear (i.e. those clothes in which I look even more sausage-like than usual.) and ran.

For over 3 miles.

And finally got my time under a 10 minute mile!

(Except that I wasn't trying...I had on my slow-running mix and was just moseying through the neighborhood.)

So all you weather folks? Trying to panic me into buying bread and milk and not leaving the house in the cold weather? Because the cold will kill me?

Y'all can SUCK IT.

My five:
  1. New sneakers. Wheeeeee!!! I'm SO FAST!
  2. Surprising myself.
  3. Clean house.
  4. Steeler game on TV.
  5. Blank pages.

1.21.2011

a moment of silence.

The TV news has been lighting up with stories about the passing of Sargent Shriver.

He was a pretty amazing man.

When we moved into our first house, way out in Potomac, we'd pass his family's home. You could see very little of it, as there were man-made rolling hills on the sides fronting the roads, but we all knew that it was their house. ("house" being relative: we lived in the same zip code, but I'm pretty sure that their pool house was larger than my townhouse.)

I remember being at a small restaurant in the town plaza for a late lunch one day with two colleagues from one of my lovely grad-school part-time jobs. The restaurant was sandwiched between the state store and a CVS...it was nothing fancy, but they had fanTAStic burgers and crab cakes, and was close to home. At the end of the meal, my friend D said "Watch this..." She was a great people-watcher, and could recognize celebrity anywhere. Anyway, a large, bald gentleman walks across the restaurant and approaches a frail older man and someone who looks to be his son. And the bald man says "Sargent? I just wanted to introduce myself: John Glenn. (*shakes his hand*) I saw that your daughter was on TV this morning talking about her book - you must be so proud of her."

...at which point I stopped listening and put all my energy into NOT grabbing my cell phone and calling my dad to say "You'll NEVER GUESS WHO IS IN THIS RESTAURANT WITH ME!!!"

Crazy. It was my first brush with political celebrity, and it was pretty amazing.

Fast forward to today: the funeral announcement says that the service will be held up the street from my old house, in a church where I used to sub all the time. And the prayer service that's being televised live from Georgetown? Well, it's taking place on the same altar where hubby and I were married.


It's coincidence, certainly. But it makes me feel a little closer to this incredible man. Rest in peace, sir.

My five:
  1. Folks who leave a legacy of goodness.
  2. Director site visits - nice to remember why we push all this paper!
  3. Candy bars. 
  4. Big fuzzy sweaters and boots.
  5. My sweet hubster.

1.16.2011

Miami 2011

Oh, Lordy. Where to begin?

Besides the amazing decadence of feeling warm air on one's toes in the middle of January? I do believe that true luxury is the ability to seek outdoor comfort regardless of the season. In my personal paradise you'd likely find me shuttling between Maine or Quebec in the summers and someplace decidedly more equatorial in the winters. I'd spend autumns in the NY-PA-MD-VA region. Springtime? Well, I've heard that Paris is lovely in the springtime...maybe that's the next trip to take!

In actuality, Miami was a little cold for sunbathing during this trip...I may or may not have shimmied down to my bathing suit yesterday in the 70 degree weather, but the days preceding were most decidedly clothing days. (Not for everyone though...nooooo. Miami seems to also cloud peoples' good sense sometimes...) But they were lovely days. I took leisurely jogs down a beautifully manicured boardwalk (and stopped to pet the cats that live all along the beach. Beach cat is a profession I could aspire to.), had a truly fantastic massage, sipped pre-noon cocktails, shopped (and this store? with its amazing vintage sewing machines? and antique lighting instruments? and sales??? I am a new, non-traditional (ahem) devotee.), ate, and explored, all the while getting some awesome catch-up time with a newly relaxed Hubs. We caught up with the Struggle, dodged the hordes on South Beach to see some great Art Deco architecture, and watched some football. (RAWR.) We ate some of the best pizza I've ever had, and drank one of the worst cocktails I've ever had. (Ugh. If you're missing an ingredient, don't assume you can omit it and still have the drink taste good.) I read a great book on Cleopatra and another about a Mexican-American novelist. I watched girls at the Lincoln Mall teeter on stiletto heels, craning their necks for any sign of celebrity.

Mostly? I loafed around. I reveled in the weather, in my hubby's silly sense of humor, in our good fortune to be able to travel to a warm place on a cold day. I sang the praises of the loving lady who watched El Diablo while we were gone. And I counted myself amazingly lucky. I don't believe in absolutes, and I do know how quickly things can change. But somehow all of that made this short respite all the more sweet.

(El Diablo, however, is planning our next vacation...seems he's found himself a lady friend while we've been gone! Currently he's laying on the floor, napping/pining for his love/waiting to return to the most magical of places, Parker's Paws.)


And now we're home. And hubby is napping on the couch, El Diablo curled at his feet, the cat nestled happily behind his knees. There's a playoff football game on the tube. And I am again feeling pretty amazingly lucky.

My five:
  1. Anonymous kindnesses...there were tiny handfuls of cat food up and down the boardwalk for the local cats.
  2. Poolside/beachside bars. Wait...I'll stick this flag in the sand and you'll bring me a delicious beverage? YES.
  3. Beautiful, unexpected scenery.
  4. Good conversation.
  5. A day of respite before heading back to work.

1.11.2011

Perspective.

Dark night.

The pavement slides under my feet. Are we being rained on? Snowed on? Iced over? It's hard to tell.

We walk through the neighborhood, pausing here and there to sniff, watch, listen. We cut through snow-covered grass to the shopping plaza to get out of the weather.

As we walk through the breezeway, the intro to a Dean Martin tune plays over the plaza's speakers. The snow swirls in spirals in the parking lot lights.

The black pavement turns white.

And I giggle at the sheer bliss of this one, small moment.

(I may be wearing snow boots, but I am light on my feet during this particular dance.)

My five:
  1. Kamikaze beauty.
  2. Butter.
  3. Snuggly cats on laps.
  4. Creative competition tv shows. Clothes, cake, rooms, meals...ALL inspiring.
  5. Seeing hubby.

1.10.2011

Dogged perseverance. Or, Lessons I've learned from Boo, part #879.



We're walking around the neighborhood on our evening constitutional. It's dark, but I'm trying to go a little farther than normal...he's been cooped up in the house all day, and the cold doesn't bother him, so it's incumbent on me to suck it up and walk a little more.

We turn a corner, and Boo picks up his pace. Weird...he usually only does that when he sees something or someone he knows and loves.

In a few steps, the reason for the speed is obvious: the Feed store is on this block. It's like doggie Chuck E. Cheese...toys, food everywhere, and the folks who work there fuss over Boo like he's a rock star.

I try to cajole him past the store. I bribe him with a treat. He takes the treat, and then sits his caboose in the middle of the parking lot. Dude will NOT budge. Unless, of course, we're heading towards the door. I cave.

We walk into the store. I declare upon entry that we're just visiting, that I didn't bring my wallet. El Diablo? Totally loses his mind. Running between the clerks, frantically trying to obey the commands of the lady with the treat jar (Sit! Down! Don't you want my paw? Shake? Shaaaaaake!!!), pilfering from the treat bins. One of the clerks, after loving the dog up, gives him a big treat and says "It's on me. He's such a happy guy!"

Boo practically dragged me the half-mile home, he was so eager to eat that treat.

Dogged (get it?) perseverance? In. Full. View. With nothing more than a big, joyous doggie smile, and an unwillingness to budge from the goal, my boy got exACTly what he wanted.

It's a good lesson, no?

My five:
  1. Homemade mushroom soup with toasted walnuts and thick peasant bread. Hearty, good-for-you vegetarian food? Yes please!
  2. Teal toenail polish. I have no idea if it's cool or in, but I like it!
  3. New books.
  4. Exfoliant and moisturizer. Serious lifesavers.
  5. Silly, happy, cuddly pets.

1.09.2011

Sunday Evening recap. Or, Why Rahree and Big Box Stores Don't Mix

I headed across the world (i.e. the other side of the Beltway) today to visit IKEA. Now, IKEA is one of those tricky stores for me...I LOVE putting furniture together (it's like a 3D puzzle! that I can sit on/put clothes into/ read by the light of when I'm done! WIN!), and I always find 87 things that I didn't think I needed prior to my visit. (Tealights! Baskets! Cool chairs and tables! Laaaaaamps!) But I'm not really a mid-century modern girl...my style is more Mom hand-me-down/Hubby's preference. (He has stronger opinions than I do.) Actually, I'm not really a decorator at all. I'm happy with comfortable, and would rather spend time browsing magazines for recipes or cute outfits or gadgets or shoes.

So when I breezed into IKEA this morning, I was thinking that I'd pick up some curtains for the newly rearranged bedroom, and maybe a lamp. C'est tout.

I "breezed" (read: lugged a cart with more stuff than I had any right to haul) out two hours later, a veritable symphony of toddler meltdowns ringing in my ears. (The melt downs really must've been contagious...I don't think I've seen that many screaming red faces since my last Steelers game.)

I got halfway around the Beltway when I stopped to grab a bite. And looked in more trunk at the carnage. And then? I called my Mom.

"Mom? So, I just bought all this stuff at IKEA. And I don't know if I like it, now that the shiny big-box experience is over...so do I take it home and test it out, knowing that it'll be weeks before I can circumnavigate the globe to return it? Or do I turn myself around right now and take back the stuff I don't love?"

(For the record? Moms rock.)

15 minutes in the terribly efficient, non-judgemental (I could just see them asking "What's the reason for the return?" "Uh...a case of 'I-don't-really-need-it' combined with a huge case of 'Buyer's Remorse?'") Returns department, and I was saved from myself...still enough puzzles to put together, but waaaaay less regret. Whew.

I made it to the gym AND took the dog on a long walk. So, between saving some cash, cleaning the house and exercising? I'm feeling pretty awesome.

To celebrate? I took some of the $$ I didn't spend at IKEAand bought books! I'll be spending the evening toggling between Clash of the Titans on HBO (Don't hate. I'll watch either one of them ANYTIME.) and the new book on Cleopatra. Or maybe the one on Gypsy Rose Lee. And even though I was skeptical when I found one under the tree, I have totally stocked up on these, my new favorite candy bars. (I know! Fruit and chocolate? Only to be eaten when the buttercream and sea salt caramels and nut clusters are long gone...but I have to say that they're AWESOME. And my brother is in serious trouble for introducing me to them.)

My ridiculously early flight to Miami is in three days...day two of which is supposed to be snow-covered. So, do I go to bed early over the next few days in order to make sure that I'm awake and on the road in plenty of time to safely make my flight? Just to be safe, I think I'll hit the hay early tonight...and tomorrow. And Tuesday.

Assembling furniture. Running several miles. Making fiscally responsible choices. Releasing the Kraken.

All in a day's work.

My five:
  1. Singing along to the car radio.
  2. Listening to the little voice inside that says "Really?..."
  3. Cats on laps.
  4. Myths and legends...all of them.
  5. Culinary improvisation.

it's eeeeeaaaaarrrrrrrly.

Our little house got up WAY before dawn this morning to take the hubster to the airport. Now, I have well-documented early bird tendencies, but they're lately less of a natural state and more of a habit...meaning that if the critters in my house would allow me to sleep past 7am? I would do so more often. Much more often. I drove the truck back from the airport - it actually might've been the first time I've driven the truck. Crazy! - and freaked myself out when after clearing the airport exit a little exclamation point light came on. (I broke the truck before I even got it home??? AAAUUUGGHH!) A quick google search proved that it's the tire pressure light...and I'm guessing that driving in the freezing cold will cause the tire pressure to lower. So the truck isn't broken, I'm safely home, Hubby is safely on a plane to lovely warm Miami (where I will join him later this week - YAY!), and I have a whole day in front of me to play with.

The possibilities? Truly endless!

I'm starting with another cup of coffee, steel-cut oatmeal, and Austin City Limits. Jakob Dylan started off the morning with an acoustic set, and now a girl named Carrie Rodriguez is kinda rocking my world. Other things I'm hoping to do today? (Besides jacking up the heat in the house to something sub-tropical?) Well, getting up enough courage to walk the dog several times in the cold is sadly non-negotiable. Also, I'm hoping to either run or catch a yoga class that kicked my butt last week (oh, chataranga...that hovering stuff KILLS me!), and to get more new, fun things to read. And, after having the cable guy come to the house yesterday, I can now rearrange the bedroom furniture! (And  perhaps I'll buy & install curtains? I know, living on the edge...) If I get ambitious, I might venture out for a pedicure, too...since I'll be in sandals in three short days!

Whew. Lots of fun stuff, mostly to keep me distracted from hubby's absence. Hoping also that a nap is in the cards for today...

I hope your Sunday has more fun than work in it, and that your toes stay toasty on this chilly January day!

My five:
  1. Polarfleece.
  2. Shaking things up...routines, furniture, all of it!
  3. Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffee....
  4. Having a vegetarian, tv-optional day.
  5. Cartoons. (I may just have to watch Despicable Me again.)

1.07.2011

All right Mr. De Mille... I'm ready for my close up.

"Should I be pointing the camera over there?"
This week I pretended that my real job was that of a video editor.

(Or, more appropriately, video editing student.)

The problem? It was a really fun week! I know how to do more, faster. I can actually have fun with the program! And the new camera? SUPER AWESOME.

I know that I've only scratched the surface of the program and equipment, but I'm a little sad to see this week go...especially knowing that there'll be darn little opportunity to play around with it again in this manner for months.

But it was nice to be a beginner for a while. Low expectations, time to play. Good stuff!

Other things that were good about this week? I had some great conversations with unexpected folks...good, thoughtful discussions, brainstorming sessions, shared stories of the hopeful and sad flavors both.

The end of 2010 felt stingy to me...I was stingy in attitude towards loved ones and colleagues, frustrated that I wasn't anywhere close to the center of attention, and feeling overextended and underappreciated. But over the last week I've found a little more room...room to be nice to strangers, to give my hubs more help, to ask what might be needed of me, rather than what obligations I can rid myself from. I'm feeling more generous, if cautiously so.

Anyhoo, it's a wonderful start. Here's hoping that this room, this generosity of spirit, is the thing that carries me through until the start of 2012.

And, in the spirit of generosity? Fun things I've found (aka LINK-O-RAAAAMAAAAA!!!)
  • oh sweet Jeebus I can't wait to come home to this on a cold winter's night. 
  • "Choreography" for EVERYONE! (Seriously, the related Beyonce mash-up is MONEY.)
  • I think I might need one of these.
  • Is it just me, or does this remind you of a Star Wars still?
  • Bring on the vulgar music!
  • This guy is one of my new favorite dudes in all of webdom. His archive is totally worth checking out.
  • I don't enter the political/religious sphere very often, and this is a probably hypocritical, but I do like this very much.
  • I know I'm going to have a good day! My parking spot told me so!
  • Woof, indeed.
  • I am going to carry this around my neck on stingy days...
  • ...and then I will remember this and stop whining.
My five:
  1. Skype.
  2. The luxury of being a novice.
  3. House Hunters International
  4. Work and "work." (Maybe had a little of both this week.)
  5. Vacation time with the hubs. WEDNESDAY!!!

Au revoir, video aspirations. Gloria,  dahling, bid the good man adieu....


1.04.2011

Am I an A+? Or a D-? I can't TELL!!!

We get so used to measuring our progress in school... all of those assessments meant to tell us whether or not we're making the grade. But in real life? There are fewer opportunities to see if you're on track. I mean, I can't really tell if I've lost or gained weight (unless the pants are snug...but as someone who favors skirts, I can go a long while without straining against denim seams...) or gotten better or worse at things. Am I getting dumber? Boy, I feel that way sometimes. Most days I just kinda bob along, hoping that I'm doing the right thing, striving in some nebulous manner to get better, do more, try different things, stretch myself. Sometimes I feel like I'm making progress, and some times of year (notably January, but also back-to-school, and bathing-suit season for some), naturally give us yardsticks to chart our progress.

Most days? I just bob.

But once in a while I get evidence that yes, I do somewhat know what I'm doing.

I had a short meeting with two colleagues who are fairly new to the organization, who are responsible for finding a candidate for a contract position. And they were overwhelmed...who to talk to, what questions to ask...with the task in general.

But this task? Was totally in my sweet spot. Yesssss!

It's a rare day when I feel both confident AND helpful at the same time.

A rare, good day.

My five:
  1. Daydreaming of a getaway with hubs.
  2. Finding a video-editing groove.
  3. New haircut! It's shorter, with subtle highlights, and makes me feel like a million bucks.
  4. Chocolate peppermint candy...I might be addicted.
  5. Yoga and running. Might be my new favorite exercise combo!

new year, new me?

It's haircut time.

I've been trying to let it grow. To acquire long, thick hair that I can toss around like a Breck girl. That I can braid and ponytail and French twist and curl.

My college roomie BB and I used to "coif" before performances/big events. Now, BB has Breck girl hair...it weighs a metric ton, has pretty natural highlights in front, and has a lovely, subtle wave to it. It is covetable hair, and boy I did covet. We'd cover our heads in hot rollers and AquaNet, tease the bejeezus out of it, and create full scaffoldings of bobby pins to support our hair. 

Hers always looked gorgeous. Mine? Well, she did the best she could...and she was good - now she's a makeup artist!

The problem? Well, my hair is not Breck girl hair. It's super fine. (And likely more than a little grey at the roots.) And now that the days of "coif" are over, I hate messing with it. Ponytails are not my style. Braids are not me. And now that my hair is to the base of my neck (which is LONG for me), it's straggly and begging to be put out of its misery.

So, shorter! (And scarfs! Because it's cold on naked necks in the winter!)

The one area that I'm happy to dabble in is color. I'm currently sporting a dark dark brown, but in the past have worn my hair blond-highlighted, auburn, copper-penny, even burgundy.  But I'm thinking that it might be time for a change. And while I think I'll save platinum for the summer (RIGHT??? I might indeed do it!), I think it's time to retire the goth look for a while.

I didn't make resolutions per se this year, for a million reasons. But I am trying to keep a few things in mind...one is to try new things, to get out of my happy rut/comfort zone. Maybe this is an opportunity?

My five:
  1. Tea in the morning instead of coffee.
  2. Sunrises. This morning's was especially striking!
  3. Wooly socks.
  4. Ridiculously affectionate pets.
  5. Hubs. Borrowed my car yesterday and TOTALLY cleaned and reorganized (wait, did I say "re"? I meant "organized") it for me.


1.02.2011

2011

Well, if yesterday is any indication of the way 2011 is going to treat me, it's going be a lovely year!

We toasted the new year with neighbors and kids and champagne. I wore sparkly necklaces and silver shoes. We ate and laughed and drank, and I didn't poison anyone inadvertently! Plus, I was enough of an adult to clean up the house prior to going to bed (a large personal victory!), and slept soundly.

Woke up to a lovely warm morning. Coffee, walked the dog, went for an easy jog around the neighborhood, and joined the neighbors for a hair-of-the-dog party.

Nap.
(Oh, 2011, if you can teach me to nap on a regular basis I will consider the year a resounding success!)

Popcorn for dinner. More dog walking. Chats with my mom and brother. A little bit of undecorating. And a relatively early bedtime.

A day free of anxiety, of not measuring up, of feeling overwhelmed.

A day of contentment. Of confidence. Of easy companionship. Of rest.


2011? You are a breath of fresh air. Welcome, friend!


My five:
  1. New beginnings.
  2. Possibilities.
  3. Family and friends.
  4. Daydreams.
  5. Making promises.