Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sick Day

While pretty much nothing sucks more than feeling under the weather, (unless it's feeling under the weather on such a gorgeous day) there is something to be said for a good stretch of time on the couch. I can't remember the last time I spent an afternoon on the couch. (Even if our couch is brutally uncomfortable, too short, and not nearly fluffy enough.)

In between naps today I finally started catching up on my DVR list, specifically Boardwalk Empire. It stands as further proof that television has nearly surpassed film in writing and production value (albeit primarily on premium channels) and I'm also glad to see Steve Buscemi finally getting his moment in the sun. Michael Pitt (who I have loved since Hedwig) proves excellent as well, and the eye candy of historical detail is exquisite.

Yeah, I said exquisite. Even through my cold medicine haze, I pulled a little grandeur out and sprinkled it here for you, dear readers.

Onto the next phase of the healing process: NyQuil. And lots of it. Have to rest up for Epic Halloween Weekend.

It Must Be Halloween....

My shopping cart items:
2 boxes safety pins
4 packages Oscar Mayer lunch meat
1 package fishnet stockings
1 fake gothic cross
eyelash glue
1 curling iron
1 bottle NyQuil

The NyQuil is for my cold. Everything else points to an epic upcoming weekend. I'll not reveal further details until after the weekend lest someone steal my idea of being a lunch meat-wielding Madonna.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Zen Dentistry

I'm pretty sure I am the only person in the world who finds the dentist's chair a calming, Zen place to be.

I attribute this fact to my refined Welsh genes which gave me a slender nose, skin that freckles charmingly in the sun, and a mouthful of peasant horse teeth. My parents, to whom I am eternally grateful, nipped what could have been a snarling orthodontic nightmare early on. In my bank of very early memories, none of them exist without some form of orthodontia. Arch expanders, rubber bands, retainers, extractions, adjustments, cranks, braces, and all manner of plastic and metal hardware existed in my mouth at one point or another for the sole purpose of completely rearranging what nature intended to be overcrowded and chockablock. Eventually, the 18-point pile-up that might have occurred in the frontal region of my jaw was straightened and refined into the fetching smile I sport today. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for putting the orthodontist's kids through college!

But a secondary result of all of this tugging and straightening is that I feel quite at home parked back in a dentist's chair with people poking around in my mouth. I was pulled out of school on a monthly-and sometimes weekly, depending on the status of the hardware- basis for afternoon appointments that involved smocked technicians scratching and rummaging around in my face.

I had a dentist's appointment this week; the first in a long, long time. (Part of the deal of returning to the 9-5 workforce is what I now recognize as the luxury of health insurance that includes dental.) I mean, a LONG time. An amount of time that might make a dentist, say, suck in a mouthful of air in a dual reaction: "OhmyGodDISGUSTING" and "Ca-CHING; JACKPOT!"

Also because there had been a serious stretch of time since anyone had stuck pointy metal objects between my teeth, I think the dentist was under the impression that I had some sort of raging phobia about general dentistry and went quite out of his way to insure my comfort.

"Now, we're just going to do X-rays right now. JUST X-RAYS! This won't hurt AT ALL!" he assured me. I somehow made it through the horrifying and life-threatening procedure of photographing my teeth and was rewarded with a toothbrush. A PURPLE toothbrush! Because I am a brave little soldier.

I almost wonder if he was slightly disappointed that I was cavity-free. A perusal of my X-rays revealed a mouthful of strong, sturdy European choppers with five-foot long roots. (Which only furthered my somewhat pervasive fear that my teeth are, in fact, abnormally large and horsey.) No cavities! Good for you! You've been brushing your teeth sometimes! And maybe flossing on that one night a week you force yourself to go to bed at 10pm so you can get something close to 8 hours of sleep! Hooray, aces!

"I'm going to clean your teeth now," he said. Good. It was early in the AM and I had only had time for half a cup of coffee, so this meant I could settle back in the chair, open my mouth, close my eyes, and embark on a nice little snooze. No more questions to answer about my previous dental history. Have at it, good doctor, and wake me when you're done.

Except he seemed to be under the misapprehension that I was bordering on a giant freak-out.

"I'm just going to use the Water Pik," he explained. "This is NOT A DRILL! I promise!"

Ok, fine, use a fire hose for all I care. I'm closing my eyes now, mmmmkay? Night niiiiiiigghhht.........

"This won't hurt AT ALL," he went on. "It will make a sort of loud noise, but it's NOT GOING TO HURT!"


"Are you ok?" he asked.

"Yep, just fine."

"You sure? This won't hurt," he said, again. At this point, I was starting to wonder if, perhaps, whatever he was planning to do was, in fact, going to hurt and this was his disclaimer ahead of time. Or something to convince me, mentally, that it WASN'T hurting, I only THOUGHT it was hurting. It couldn't possibly hurt because he told me so many times that it wouldn't! I was starting to doubt this, a tiny bit.

"I'm going to get started here in a second," he said. Awesome. Settle back. Eyes closey. Hands foldy. Sleepy sleepy time. I figured I could get in a good twenty minutes while he was scraping a few years' worth of artsy-I'm-only-waiting-tables-and-freelancing-until-my-book-deal-comes-through crud off of my newly-insured teeth before I had to get up and go to work.

It didn't hurt. At all. I was just dozing off when he stopped. "You still doing ok?"

Yes. I'm fine. My eyes are closed because I am sleeping. Not because I am trying to shut you-and, by proxy, this nightmarish situation in which you are squirting water onto my delicate, sensitive teeth- out of my mind. I am actually trying to doze off. Don't worry- I sleep with my mouth open all the time; this is no problem for me. Unattractive, perhaps, but utterly convenient for you.


"Where did you say you went to school?"

I didn't. Say anything. Because I am TRYING TO TAKE A NAP! Now. Sleepy time.....

"All done!"

Wait, what? I barely closed my eyes!

"Now, that wasn't too bad, was it?"

Yes! Yes it was! I don't even think I actually fell asleep, I just got my eyes barely closed and you woke me up and now I'm awake again! I DID NOT GET A NAP. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE DENTIST IF I AM NOT LEAVING WELL-RESTED?

"That's a difference now, huh?!"

Huh? What? I am cranky! You woke me from my nap! Actually, you did not wake me because I did not actually fall anything close to asleep, I barely even shut my---oh. Oh. OOoooooooohhhhhhhh.

My teeth are so..........slick. And my mouth is so.......minty fresh. It's actually quite...well, it's quite refreshing!

I left the dentist, swiping my tongue across my newly sparkling choppers, feeling the squeaky clean of a plaque-free mouth. And, to make up for my lack of nap, I rewarded myself with a triple shot skim latte.

So my mouth was clean for approximately seven minutes before I had coffee breath again.

Oh, well. Maybe if I'd gotten a nap....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Urban Family

Several years ago, when I was exiting a four-year relationship, I experienced that swift and utterly inevitable consequence of ending a long-term relationship littered with friends who have only known you to be one-half of a couple: the excommunication from certain group activities. Very quickly, my list of people I would consider friends whittled itself down. This is a natural life process- there are certain people who are in your life circumstantially. It doesn't belittle the weight of the friendship at the time, but it does make you consider what kinds of people are gonna be there for the long haul.

I think, because of this circumstance and also because I lost touch with so many people when I high-tailed it to Florida for three years after college graduation, that I had this ingrained fear that most adult friendships are transient. Dependent on circumstance and temporal. And I think, because of this, I perhaps haven't valued my friendships quite as much as I should have. This has been brought to my attention a lot recently. Several of my friends have gone to bat for me in circumstances that they surely didn't have to get involved in, much less offer the support and care that they did. I don't know why I got it in my head that you had already made all the lifelong friends you were going to make early on. This is categorically untrue.

Because, the fact is, my friends make up the bulk of my life here in Baltimore. Where I never wanted to be in the first place. They have become a family of sorts, a network of support and love. And, even more surprising to me, they don't always wait for me to reach out to them. Their presence is consistent, constant, and welcome. Persistent even, at times, as well it should be. When I am truly upset, I have a very nasty habit of hermiting myself away which leads to this cycle of feeling sorry for myself because I am alone. This is bass-akwards.

My mom told me that I never have to be alone if I don't want to be, and she's absolutely right. At any given moment, I am fortunate enough to have friends I can call who will show up, listen, laugh, answer the phone or a text, or otherwise be present. And I'd do the same for them.

I think this is part of what I feared so much about being single in my late twenties- I had this horrific and deep phobia that all of my friends would move, get married, or otherwise extricate themselves from my life and, little by little, my friendships would be pared down and I would find myself utterly alone. This has proved itself to be completely untrue. In fact, if anything, my circles of friends continue to grow (in strength and in breadth) the more I invest in my life here in Baltimore.

A lot of it goes back to the Butternut Squash Soup Incident of 2009. I was in a definitive low. Things were Not Going Well across the board. I was Not Happy. And the only thing I could think of to remedy a thousand broken situations was to move. I wanted out of Baltimore, out of the messes I had found myself in, away from a history of indecisiveness and apprehension. I started looking for jobs and apartments in New York, Vancouver, San Francisco, London, Berlin. I looked into work visas to catapult me abroad. I wanted Out.

And then Jaunt made a batch of butternut squash soup and gave me a stack of Tupperware bowls of it. Some for eating immediately, some for freezing. Jaunt made this delicious soup, purposefully made too much too much of it, and gave me the leftovers so that I would have meals for the future. I don't even think it took any mental strategizing on her part; it was simply a facet of this life she had in Baltimore. Buy ingredients, make soup, give leftovers to friends for future lunches and dinners. This is life; and this is what you do when you are a part of it.

And I realized that if I moved, I would be starting over. Again. With no neighbors to make me soup. I would be, for all intents and purposes, truly alone. Possibly in a foreign country. Sure, I'd make new friends and have new adventures. But how long would it be before someone gave me soup? It took me two years in Baltimore before someone did that. Did I want to leave all of the networks of community I had started here in Baltimore to wipe the slate clean and work, again, on building a life from the ground up somewhere else?

The logic seemed- and was- skewed. I was trying to escape Baltimore because I was seeking change and looking for things that I thought I couldn't find. Mainly- community, belonging, purpose. Right. Under. My. Nose.

A year later, I've...shall we several things in my life. And realized that I have no desire to move again, at least not in the near future. I've built a life here, a community, a network of caring, hilarious individuals who not only make me soup, but cupcakes, pieces of art, mixed CDs, artfully mixed martinis, and a plethora of other richness that makes everyday feel special in some small way. I have friends who teach me yoga, who help me run races, get me job interviews, sit next to me in chuch, and tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself when I occasionally start down the path of pity-party. I have friends who tell me when I'm out of line, when I'm beating dead horses, when I'm so far off-track I'm not even in the park anymore.

I finally have the life I always wanted, only it doesn't look a damn thing like this THING I had in mind so many years before. I'm never alone, not really, unless I choose to be. There's soup in my freezer, companionship a short walk in pretty much any direction. I have neighbors from whom I can borrow eggs. Or, on one occasion, lime juice. I have the kind of friends who tell me, point blank, "This is what your friendship means to me," and it's my job, then, to reciprocate and contribute and give and give as much love as I am getting in return. Because that's the clincher with adult friendships- when circumstance no longer binds you together, it takes effort and energy to keep the wheels turning. If it's too much effort, too much energy, the thing will fizzle itself out. But, for the right people (the ones who are life-long,) it's never too much and it doesn't even feel like effort half the time. It's just what you do. You show up. You answer the phone. You make soup and share it.

(This also isn't to say that I don't have life-long friends that "go wayyyyyyyyyyy back." Snap; frenemies from ages 13-18, long-distance admirers of one another's work from ages 18-23, and then bffffffffs from then on; is getting married this spring and I am a bridesmaid in her wedding. Our friendship began, in a very twisted sort of way, when she kissed a boy who was the love of my life for three months in 1995. I hated her. I coveted her white blonde hair. I kind of thought she was totally cool. We became friends when we had to play tennis together in high school. She is totally as cool as I suspected. Mr. Spaz and I go 'way back as well: my high school exboyfriend who became one of my closest friends and then married my college best friend. Double insurance that both of them will forever be a part of my life. There are others, too. Several friends from college who, despite our geographical distances, stay close in my life. A couple of true lifelong friends from grad school. Again with geographical distances. But, again, it doesn't matter.)

And, of course, I'm thankful for all of the debauchery that goes on. My friends-all of them- are, truly, partners-in-crime. Our history reflects a lot of late-nights and distilleries consumed. Especially, for some reason, the last six months or so. Good God, this was an epic summer. Which reminds me: it's Halloween weekend and Catalano's fiance is out of town. More history to be made. (And, subsequently, photos to be hidden away, never to be posted on Facebook or blogs or any sort of public sphere.)

The Last Few Weeks....

Who Sent You?

Recent Visitors:
Baltimore, MD
Washington DC
Buffalo, NY
Lutherville Timonium, MD
Annapolis, MD
Trondheim, Sor-trondelag, Norway
Northwood, New Hampshire
Odenton, MD
Arlington, MA
Moorestown, NJ
Fairfax, VA
Lisboa, Portugal
Bromley, UK
Saint Charles, Illinois
Ithaca, NY
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Some of you came from:

Trendy, Philosophical Meanderings

Renovations in the Land of Pleasant Living

Your preferred search engines:
#1- Google
#2- (Thanks, my European contingency!)
#3- Yahoo
#4- AOL.

(Surprisingly no BING.)

You left me for:

Despite his best efforts...

Where codes collide.

Trashy, ugly queens.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You Found Me

Here are search terms from viewers who wound up here while seeking...perhaps not me, but that's what they found anyway.

AP Essay Grading rubric art
LGBT glitterati
glitterati baton rouge
got a vasectomy
that jaunt be the sh**
the avett brothers
Drama Glitterati Party
Glitterati's Pizza
cutaway earth grading rubric photos
is Glitterati a place in new york?
glitterati blog
new york glitterati
new orleans sweat bands and their meanings
glitterati dinner theater

I am thinking of opening a bowling alley/roller rink/coffee house/martini bar/used book store/music venue/art gallery featuring all of the above search terms as themes/decor/stock. Or...I'd invite you into my head because that right there is probably a fairly accurate description of what my thought processes look like at any given moment. Throw a bunch of fairy lights on everything and call it a day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

OK, Ani DiFranco...

I swear to God there are days when I wake up, spill everything, can't decide what to wear, feel mad at everyone for making my life difficult and then wonder why no one ever hugs me, trip over everything and nothing, and why is that girl's hair so perfect and is that person talking about me and I just want to go home and write about everything in my journal and eat graham crackers and then watch "My So-Called Life" and....

.....I realize that I am stuck in a time warp and I am actually 16 again and maybe I should re-read "Reviving Ophelia" and blame all of my insecurities and temper tantrums on society....

At least I know, at the core, I could very well someday be a successful teen writer. I am a little too mentally connected to the target market at times.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marathon Relay

So, I'm pretty much still on an incredible high from this weekend. The marathon relay was everything I had hoped it would be- a beautiful fall day, running through the streets of Baltimore, feeling strong and finishing hard. I ran a little slower then I would have liked, but the whole race felt so good that I can't complain. After the race, my team managed to somehow collect a few hundred free beer tickets (literally- I have no idea how we hunted and gathered so many free tickets when everyone was only supposed to get 2), hit up Lee's parent's annual Marathon Party (where I'm pretty sure I housed about 4 plates of food, because apparently I forgot to eat post-race in all of the hubbub and fun), and then not only made it to the Avett Brothers concert at Pier Six (with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals) but also managed to close down the bars later that night. It was a marathon of a day, to say the least, and I'm still recovering. (See what I did there? Ha.)

To add to my lingering high today, I was called into the conference area to find that my bosses and coworkers had gotten me flowers and cookies to celebrate the completion of the big run. It was such a thoughtful gesture, and I'm pretty sure I would have shed a tear or two if I hadn't excused myself to go put the flowers in some water.

The whole experience has left me with a bit of a hankering for more, and a serious interest in training for the half next year. And this is how it starts. A 5k here, a 5k there...then a six mile relay....then a 13-mile half marathon. I don't think I could fully commit to the whole marathon, but then if you'd told me six months ago that I could beast out 6 miles in a decent time and feel so fantastic, I would never have believed you.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I canceled all of my online dating profiles awhile back, in an uncharacteristically quiet and drama-free sweep of cleaning some clutter out of my life. But I've recently found myself in conversations in various venues where I've started opening up about the whole online dating thing: why I did it in the first place, the successes (0) and failures (multiple), and why I am no longer a proponent of it PERSONALLY but can see how it might work out for some people in general.

In order to understand my reason for canceling the profiles, I guess I should first state my reasons for signing up in the first place. They are, in this exact order:
1. For interesting stories.
2. To meet men in Baltimore that:
a) are not someone I've already dated
b) are not friends with someone I've already dated
c) are not currently dating or have ever dated any of my friends
d) do not frequent the same places I do thus raising the chances of awkwardness (I like a little geographical separation, if only from one neighborhood to another)
e) have tastes/interests/hobbies similar to mine.

I'm not going to regale you with stories of some of the creepsters who sent me hilarious, sad, ridiculous, and sometimes downright pervy emails. We all know they're out there, and it's a stale story that (SHOCK! SURPRISE! AWE!) there are people with less-than-average social skills crawling online dating websites. To be fair, there are people with less-than-average social skills also crawling the bar scene. They're just sometimes a little easier to spot on-line.

I will say this: it's too much information. Pulling up someone's profile and seeing all their deets in black and white, perusing their interests/hobbies/family structures/pet peeves and getting all of this information upfront is definitely one way of weeding out individuals. The power of information is not to be belittled. I sure as hell don't want to meet up with the guy who has publicly posted on his profile the fact that he got a vasectomy at 21 to avoid contributing to the overpopulation of the earth. More power to you, Dude- you weed through a substantial population of females who might want to think about procreating someday that way. And I'm not particularly interested in striking up a conversation with a hardcore right-wing Republican who attends anti-choice rallies on weekends.

But all of this works against you as well. I've been on so many dates with guys who, on paper, are my Gemini twin: same likes, dislikes, upbringing, wants, desires, views of the world. And I meet them in person and, I've discovered, having 500 things in common with someone is absolutely no guarantee of any chemistry, spark, physical attraction, or even that you'll LIKE this person. I'm well aware that one of my most insufferable habits is correcting peoples' grammar. I get this trait from my mother (who emails me when there are errors in my blog- which I have learned to love to hate.) I don't need to date someone who has this similar burning desire for grammatical correctness. It would drive me insane. I also don't need to date a guy who loves Chick Lit. Some interests are mine, should be mine alone, and are not for sharing.

And, in my day, I've fallen for guys who are virtual opposites of me in every way. It's just a matter of what works and what doesn't and no online dating profile is going to give you that particular stat upfront.

Mostly, thought, there was something very significant lacking for me with online dating, and this was the thrilling sense of an organic situation arising out of chance meeting. There is something so very intoxicating about dating that derives from everyday or random situations. Whether it's suddenly seeing a friend in a different light, or chancing into an unparalleled conversation with a stranger at a bar, or having someone answer your Craigslist ad for a roommate and subsequently dating this individual for three months thereafter. It's all about the story.

I'm not saying there's no magic to be had in online dating. I know so many people for whom it's worked out, but I just never had any luck with it and, after awhile, I started getting annoyed with it. It was one more thing to check, one more set of emails to weed through, and one more spot of homework to be done in my otherwise busy life. Then there was the attempt to set up dates. Apparently it's a pretty big turnoff when you say to a guy, "I'm pretty busy this week and next- could we meet for coffee three weeks from Tuesday?"

So maybe I wasn't really all that committed to the process to begin with. I mostly signed up out of curiosity, really. And for the stories, of course.

Example: Record for shortest date- 25 minutes. I spent 1 minute sizing up the situation and the next 24 wondering how long I had to stay before it wouldn't seem so completely rude to leave. One cup of coffee later, I was out the door dropping the totally lame coup de grace of "Oh, my friend just texted me...she needs me to pick her up." Even I was ashamed. But this date was literally painful. We had absolutely nothing to talk about, and there were actually long periods of silence where we just sort of stared at the floor or the ceiling. We couldn't even grasp at straws and talk about news headlines. It was THAT. BAD.

Mostly, though, I've found that I vastly prefer to spend my time in the company of friends and doing things that I actually like doing as opposed to going to dinner/drinks/coffee/whatever with strangers. Perhaps if I were older and had been single for longer it would be different, and I would be more interested in meeting new people online. But, for now, I'm pretty happy with where things are and much more interested in meeting someone organically as a result of all of this time spent doing things I actually like doing.

Although I have some damn good stories. Saving it for the novel that I'm going to write someday. There's a statute of limitations on certain things.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Style and Fun, Not Competition

I do also need to add in here that I could not have asked for a better marathon relay team. Far from being overly concerned with timing, performance, and endurance, our focus is on two primary objectives:

1. Looking Good. This was accomplished through forming a cohesive identity and complying with a design scheme involving matching sweat bands and a commitment to an 80's aerobics theme. If you're going to be running a marathon relay, you damn well better look the part. Forget about high-tech fabrics that wick or expensive sports outfits- we're going for retro style here, and if you can't go big then you can go home. So completely committed is my team, that our captain has cautioned us against running too fast for fear spectators and other runners won't be able to fully appreciate the visual.

2. Obtaining Extra Beer Tickets. Each team member is awarded 2 beer tickets upon the completion of the relay. This is, obviously, not nearly enough. Our goal is to obtain additional tickets by any means possible (and I think El Capitan is quite serious about any means...) Why? Because we just, collectively, ran 26.2 miles and will be in need of refreshment. And, because we have seasoned livers, we require more refreshment then the more serious runners who will most likely want to forgo the free beer. And we will be happy to relieve them of their tickets.

I could have wound up on a team where performance was the number one goal. Although I certainly am going for a PR here, it's nice to know that my team is focused primarily on these aspects and that timing is, really, only thirdly important. I don't think I could be on any other kind of team.

Our team motto: "Rule #1 of Marathon Relay Club: Never apologize, never explain. We run for style and fun, not for competition!"

Rock on.

This Is Ourselves Under Pressure

My alarm went off at 6:10 yesterday morning. As usual, I hauled myself out of bed, feeling approximately one million years old, with legs and back aching. Dark out. Of course. Chillier now, in the mornings. A jacket was needed, and I could see my breath. When I first started this, there were mornings when I would be sweating before I even got out of bed. Somewhere in there, there's been a transition of three seasons: spring to summer to fall. In another handful of weeks, it will be straight-up cold in the mornings but this day marks the last official day of Training.

For the past 10 weeks, since nearly the beginning of August, it's been six days a week of training for the marathon relay this Saturday.Six days a week, some in the early mornings and some in the evenings when I limp through the door from work. Running before or after work doesn't seem to make any particular difference in terms of energy levels: forty minutes of alternating jogs and sprints is exhausting regardless of whether it's at 6:30am or 7:30pm.

I originally signed up for the marathon relay back in June, when running was still a fairly new activity to me.

Let me make one thing clear: I'm no runner. I ran indoor track for one season in high school, but mostly I found the whole ordeal so boring I eventually quit for the more interesting pursuits of theater and for sports that involved a little more action and ball-hitting, like tennis. I'm a very active person, but I also get routinely bored and so tend to change it up between running, elliptical, yoga, and Pilates.

The running thing just kind of happened. One day last spring, my muscles were itching to do something and the gym was closed. I so rarely have the urge to run, and even more rarely do I want to run outside. I was always a treadmill kind of girl, preferring to watch syndicated episodes of Friends while listening to Thievery Corporation. But this particular day, the gym was closed and I was in serious need of a sweat session. I laced up my crappy New Balances, strapped the iPod to my arm, and went for a run.

It was fairly short at first, just a couple of miles through the Inner Harbor, maybe. A mere jog pace. But it felt so good that, the next day, I found myself reaching for the running shoes again.

It became an addiction. Two miles turned into three, then four, then timing became more of an issue. Everyday, until my quads hurt so badly I had to take a day off. All that day, I felt itchy. I couldn't sit still. I had a trainer teach me better stretches. My parents bought me new shoes for my birthday, and I traded in my badly-worn trainers for shiny new shoes that actually fit. My miles pared down from 11 minutes to 10 to 9 to an epic 8. I signed up for the Baltimore Womens Classic.

Running a 5k would have been, in the past, a horrifying prospect. Challenging yourself to physical feats in the privacy of your own mind is one thing. But putting money down, getting a timing chip and a bib, and performing this in a venue with a thousand other women is an entirely new arena. As I said before, I'm not a runner. Or, at least, I wasn't until I crossed the finish line in 26 minutes and 33 seconds- a very decent time for my first 5k.

My second 5k I shaved nearly two minutes off of my time. And it was on a hill course in the pouring rain. I was hooked.

Signing up for the marathon relay was a definitive turning point in my life. Not only did it mean that I would have to commit to my new hobby for a distinctive period of time (commitment being a difficult agenda for any Gemini, this one in particular) I have a nasty habit of jumping on board with some activity/passion/hobby/
project, getting my life all up into it, and then slowly becoming bored or less disciplined or otherwise drifting away. It's not something I'm proud of and, in fact, Jackal and I adopted as our New Year's Resolution for 2010 the mantra: Finish what you start.

I knew it would be hard, I knew I would get discouraged, but I also knew that if I signed on the dotted line and made a promise to a team that I would be there- fit and ready for action- that I would follow through. Because, apparently, I can't keep the promises I make to myself (I WILL finish all of those projects I started...someday), but I'll go through hell and high water and a whole lot of other crap to keep promises I make to other people. One of my biggest pet peeves is flaky individuals, and I often damn near kill myself attempting to never come off as such.

And, the thing is, this year has been a whole lot of "put your money where your mouth is" in terms of following through on what I say I'm going to do. Running the marathon relay- and doing it in a decent time- is a huge point of pride for me. After having spent a couple of years floundering around, not really sure what I wanted to do, I'm pretty damn proud of saying that in 2010 I went to New Orleans and helped build some houses; found my passion in life and subsequently found an awesome job that routinely allows me to engage in all the things that make me happy; ran four 5k races and will run a 6-mile marathon relay with an awesome team. It's been a busy year.

So, along with about several thousand other people including many of my friends who have also risen to the challenge, I'll be running through the streets of Baltimore on Saturday morning. Even if I come in over my projected goal time, if I finish then I will finally have seen something through to the end. And knowing I can do this, knowing that the power to take responsibility and discipline into my own hands, is endlessly empowering.

Now, about that novel I'm gonna write....maybe if someone makes me sign up for a deadline....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Over Yourself.

(This is not an octopus.)

It pains me to admit it, but I've been wrong about some stuff lately.

For one thing, octopus have three hearts. Two hearts exist for the pumping of blood through each set of gills, and the third is for the rest of the octopus body. They work in concert with one another to get blood pumping through what is actually a fairly complex, and frighteningly intelligent animal. That appears to be a sack of Jell-O with snake arms.

I was convinced that the octopus is the only animal in the kingdom with triple hearts.


As it turns out.......I was wrong.

It was a crushing defeat; one I handled with neither grace nor dignity. I stomped my foot. I pounded my fist. I downed another beer. I stated my point, over and over again.

I'm pretty sure Apple should market a series of commercials about the fact that, in the digital age, most people are less than 15 seconds away from proving you wrong. A few buttons pushed (most of them mine,) a link up to some distant satellite, and BOOM--I'm wrong. Dead wrong.

Octopii do have 3 hearts. So do squid, cuttlefish, and nautiluses. All of which are counted as separate- but equally triple hearted- creatures.

I was wrong.

Swallowing your pride is not something that has ever come easily to me. Admitting wrong and accepting blame are so incredibly hard. It took me years upon years upon years just to say that maybe, perhaps, quite possibly, I am not a victim. Maybe sometimes I make decisions that are....less than wise.

The fact is that I usually assume that most decisions I make are stupid and fraught with failure. I am my harshest critic, as I'm sure most people are for themselves. I just don't always publicly admit this. I'll sling a whole lot of blame around before I'll realize that pointing a finger means at least three are pointed back at you. I had a high school teacher fond of that expression. I found that it also applies to more rude hand gestures as well.

The thing is- sometimes you have to take a huge step back when a situation is feeling fraught and you're feeling cornered. You have to take a step back, breathe, and before you begin listing faults and blame-gaming all over the place, you should probably first stake out what the caliber of ground is you're standing on. Because, 9 times out of 10, there's a good chance that ground is shifting depending on who's defining it.

That's not to say that I'm wrong all of the time. It's just that I somehow developed some sort of indefatigable self-righteousness somewhere along the line, believing I had it all figured out and that I had somehow risen to some enlightenment that perhaps other people hadn't quite reached yet. And the universe has a way of knocking you down a few pegs when this happens.

I think one of the hardest lessons to "embrace with grace" is how to accept responsibility, to figure out what you did wrong, and how, and why, and then figure out how to salvage the pieces and move on from there. It's not a pretty process. In fact, it can be downright humiliating, upsetting, and earth shattering.

But it's important. Because when you find yourself making the same mistakes again and again, sooner or later you have to come to terms with the idea that perhaps you should change up your game plan a little bit.

I was wrong about the octopus. Thankfully I hadn't staked any money on that one. But there are certain things in my life that I do put a lot of stake in, and I don't want to come up short. Stepping back, admitting blame, and uttering a well-timed mea culpa is possibly the only antidote to ultimate failure. know. I'm sorry. For the whole octopus thing. I was wrong. I should have fact-checked before I went spewing my inconclusive knowledge of the phyla Cephalopod. Only I don't think Cephalopods are a phyla. They're a class. And the difference between a class and a phyla is....I have no freaking clue. I was a dual Mass Comm/Theater major who squeaked through Bio 101.

Not that I'm making excuses.

Hide Your Children from THE GAY.

I just don't even know what to say to you, Carl.

Thankfully Cuomo spokesperson Josh Vlasto does:
"Mr. Paladino's statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disrespect for basic equality. These comments along with other views he has espoused make it clear that he is way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York."

Friday, October 8, 2010


I don't have any sisters, which is a point of contention that will most likely arise in therapy at some point in my life. My charmed life ended when I was 3 1/2 and my parents brought home my baby brother, thus rudely ripping the center of attention away from me. Growing up, I was always 100% sure that if they had brought home a girl, my life would feel more complete. Girls didn't attempt to hijack Barbie sessions with war games. Girls didn't hit back. Girls never tagged along after my friends and I, ruthlessly challenging my already-shaky status of "cool."

So I thought.

I never had any sisters, but I did have girlfriends. And we had sleepovers. Pizza, junk food, movies, dirty jokes, and whispers deep into the night. I was convinced that if I'd had a sister, every night would be like a sleepover. Doing each others' hair, painting each others' nails, discussing whether or not Whatshisface would ask me to dance at Whatshisotherface's bar mitzvah or if the band teacher was really dating the English teacher and, if so, were they like Ross and Rachel from that hit new show Friends? These were important matters.

Sleepovers were reserved for birthdays, summer nights, and the occasional blizzard. Every now and again I would find a friend with whom we could stretch one sleepover into two or three (especially in the summer time when parental authority was a bit more lax, and the opportunity to send a child over to someone else's house to play was welcome.) But, for the most part, they were rare and anticipated. Like Christmas.

I've recently had a lot of out-of-town houseguests, all of them girlfriends from various walks of life, and so I've been enjoying the influx of sleepovers. Even in our late-twenties-early-thirties, the lights going out signals moments of confession and whispered discussion that pushes far later into the night than anyone anticipated. Only now, our sleepovers are catered with dark chocolate and wine instead of Oreos and Diet Coke, and the subjects we discuss span heavier issues about big decisions, careers, and frightening aspects of adult life that are often too fearful to face alone.

These sleepovers still bolster me, and I have come to realize how these longtime friends of mine are, in a way, sisters of mine. Biologically I was blessed with a younger brother who makes me laugh and knows precisely how to get under my skin. But in my walks of life, I have been blessed with the presence of females who have been friends for many years and with whom I've shared countless sleepovers.

Anyone with siblings will tell you that the grass is always greener in terms of having a brother or sister, and it's entirely possible that a sister would have driven me batshit crazy. I certainly no longer romanticize the idea of having a biological sister, and I've long since come to terms with the fact that my childhood was mostly complete despite my lack of a kind, older sister who would braid my hair, loan me clothes, and pull me into the popular circles at school.

That and the fact that I never got a pony.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


...and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.
-American Beauty

Lately I've felt as though my life has been a revolving door of friends, family, experiences, and general goings-on. I think part of this is the onset of fall. There are already holiday plans in the making, as though this random cold snap has everyone scurrying. You'd think it was the first week in November, the way people are reacting to the random approach of fall on what used to be firmly in summer territory.

Not that I'm complaining. Once the New York trip was over, I kind of braced myself for the inevitable let-down that follows any trip that's been a long time coming. I get to see Stupid so rarely; New Kid as well, so that whole weekend it felt as though unnecessary elements like "sleep" were infringing upon our time together. But I got back from New York and found myself in a flurry of plans, from birthdays to kayaking to Fells Point Fest to Book Club and family dinners to another great friend in town this weekend...and all of these things have transpired and I suddenly realized that it somehow became October in there somewhere.
The marathon relay is in less than two weeks, which means that somehow my ten-week training program is supposed to be coming to a close. As much as I have loved it, I (and especially my legs) are ready for a break and I'm looking forward to a winter of yoga and writing and running when I feel like it as opposed to being locked into a training schedule. Even better- Lee got us all tickets for The Avett Brothers at Pier 6 that night after the race. So I'll be happy, tired, relieved, full of beer, and watching an awesome live show.

Two years ago, Snap and I talked about "fall" as being not only a time of year, but a verb. The "fall," the allowing yourself to let go and be caught up in something. Whether it's an undisputed moment with a particularly delicious cookie or a fantastic sunset or some titillating conversation. We're so distracted, we humans, with so much going on. Sometimes the first onset of chill, the first pulling of a coat or a blanket a little tighter around ourselves fixes a moment in time. Summer slips away and we're reminded of fleeting moments and passing time. Fall is a moment to do just that...before the stillstop of winter. Fall is a slide, it's a trip into a greater descent, only this doesn't necessitate a meaning of "downward." It simply means a transition. A snaking into the next season of life, like the board game.

Fall is here. Life is good. My happy, stupid little life.

This Is Why I Will Never Be An Adult

Clean ALL the things?

Hyperbole and a Half. Current Obsession.