Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Westward HO!

I'm heading westward in a couple of days, to San Francisco, for Snikkers's wedding. I am flying into Atlanta and meeting a BFF, who will fly with me out to San Fran. If there's anything more awesome than a reunion aboard a flight, I'm not sure what it is.

And, last night, Snap became a mother to a baby boy. I will get to see this little peanut this weekend because, conveniently, she and her husband also live in San Francisco.

I am looking forward to stepping out of Baltimore, a change of scenery for the holiday weekend, and the company of close friends. 

It has been a long summer, and I, for one, am READY for fall. Mostly because my flight to Abu Dhabi is booked for October 31, and every time I see candy corn in CVS or a copy of Martha Stewart's Halloween I have a little mini party for myself.

But first - I have to go be a bridesmaid in a gorgeous wedding in San Francisco for my gorgeous friend who is marrying the love of her life. I have an awesome dress that I can't wait to wear again -

-and by the way? Kudos to this trend of brides letting bridesmaids pick their own dresses. I love it-

and we have trolley tours and picnics and champagne toasts and all of the things that make (San Franciscan) weddings fun.

In other news, the half marathon training continues, the writing continues (sort of), Betty Draper and I have gone on another ride, and I'm working my way through my most recent obsession - "Breaking Bad." The Gentleman is relieved that Ramadan is over. It's kind of surreal how, in the course of just a few months, your conversations have shifted from what restaurant to have dinner at on a Friday night to discussing whether or not it would be considered totally uncouth to be caught drinking water in public during daylight hours. (Answer: it is.)

And, for your entertainment, 

Me: Hurricane isaac damaged dominican and now headed to keys. It's destroying all of our vacation spots :( 7:44 PM
The Gentleman: you destroy everything you touch 7:50 PM


(I'm going to kick him when I see him. Lovingly.)

Also - The Gentleman's Roommate is pissed off that I refer to him as "The Gentleman's Roommate." So I need to think of a reference for him. So far, I've come up with this one: Kitten McSmartypants.

He's going to hate it. I'm so excited.

'K bye.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Favorite Thing - Betty Draper

Remember how I told you that I made an impulse purchase the other day that has already injured me twice?

That was unfair.


Her favorite soundtrack is Hotel Costes Vol. 4.

Say hello to my new favorite thing, Betty Draper.

Why is her name Betty Draper?

Because they are practically twins

It was rather unfair of me to introduce Betty as an "impulse purchase," although it is true that she injured me twice.

To back up a bit, I have been not-so-secretly longing for a bicycle ever since The Gentleman and I had a vacation in Key West about a year ago. We rented bikes for the duration of our five days there, and pedaled around the entire island. We got coconuts from a street vendor and biked around Old Town drinking the water out of them with a straw. We went to markets and filled our bike baskets with fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and (who are we kidding) lots and lots of booze. 

(We may or may not have cracked open some beers on the way and rolled around on our bikes, enjoying both the scenery and a nice delicious domestic.)

We also rented bikes via Capital Bikeshare back in June when we had an afternoon in DC, and while it was a little more of a hectic ride (dodging weekend mall traffic was a bit different than lazily pedaling past sleepy bungalows in Key West), it still reminded me of how truly awesome a leisurely bike ride can be.

As with most things in life that you have a secret wish for, the good things at least, a bike sort of fell into my life by accident.

A friend of mine is moving away and needed to unload a bunch of items prior to said move. She had been telling me about this Huffy beach cruiser she had in storage that needed a home, and I had agreed to at least come and look at it. I told myself I didn't really need a bike, that I didn't want it to end up like what happened the last time I bought a bike - I paid $45 for a POS off of Craigslist, rode it twice, and then carted it around for two years while it rusted and I finally donated it for parts.

But when my friend pulled the powder blue Huffy with the white wall tires and creamy fenders out of her storage unit, I fell in love.

Unfortunately, it took a bit for my new love and I to get acquainted. In fact, within my first two and a half seconds atop the beach cruiser, I completely and totally bit it.

IN MY DEFENSE, I had just come from work and was wearing a skirt. IN MY DEFENSE, I was trying to test-drive the bike uphill in a narrow back alley in Charles Village. IN MY DEFENSE, I was NERVOUS because I spied a car headed directly towards me at breakneck speed and I panicked. 

(It was backing out of a driveway about a half a block down, but part of being a defensive driver/bicyclist is anticipating that other drivers on the road are out to get you, so I don't think it was an unfair assertion that the car was headed straight for me.)

So, I completely and totally fell. Like, skinned knee and elbow and injured pride and all. But, because I am a child of proactive parenting, I GOT BACK ON THE BIKE. (Am I not a shining bastion of the Little Engine that Could?) And, within a few moments, I had righted myself and realized that I had not found the bike I'd been pining for for the last year, it had found me.

Fifty bucks and a lot of maneuvering later, my friend and I had the bike in the trunk of my car. I have no idea how we did it, but there was much finagling and turning of handlebars, and then the trunk somehow latched and I was good to go. 

Until I got home.

I opened the trunk of the car, excited to bring my new bike into her new home, and realized that in our efforts to Tetris the bike into my hatchback, we hadn't given much thought to how I would get it out alone once I got home.

And thus began my little social experiment for the day.

22 minutes in 95 degrees, 2 smashed fingers, a ripped dress, and tears in my eyes later someone FINALLY stopped to help me. I lost count of how many people walked by me, staring as I struggled with the bike. I would get it halfway out, and a pedal would jam against a seatbelt. I'd wiggle it the other way, and the rear tire would get lodged against the rear passenger door. 

That bike was not coming out.


To stare, yes. Help? Hell no.

The woman stopped and set her grocery bags down on the curb.

"Do you need a hand?" she asked, pleasantly, and I almost burst into tears at her kindness.

It took us about ten minutes to get the bike out of the car. By the end of it, I was nearing the point of just deciding to let my car have a bike in the back for the rest of its natural life, but the angel of a woman who stopped was bound and determined to get the thing out.

"Ok, this way...no, now back just a little...ok, maybe if we roll down the window? OH WAIT - yes, ok, just to the left...oh, no. Oops. No, that's not going to work. Crap, ok, back it up again, wait, yes, wait, yes, YES, to the right, YES" and the bike suddenly lifted out of my car with ease. Thirty minutes later.

As we were lowering the bike to the ground, the rear tire spun and trapped my helpful passerby's finger, ripping open the skin. I felt absolutely horrible.

"I am SO sorry, oh my God, thank you SO much," I kept saying over and over again. She just kept shaking her head.

"No, no, please, don't apologize! I am just so happy we got that thing out!"

"Wait, where do you live?" I asked, as she scooped up her grocery bags from the sidewalk.

She gestured to the house next door to mine.

I had lived in Little Italy for almost a year, and did not realize that the woman helping me was my next door neighbor. I felt ashamed.

She waved goodbye politely and headed towards her house, and I walked the bike to mine. I lifted her inside and parked her in the dining room (which has become the parking lot for bikes as now all three roommates have them). I looked at her powder blue paint and off-white fenders.

"Betty Draper," I said, and ran my hand over her handlebars. I immediately went on Amazon and found an attaching basket.

The next day, I took a bouquet of flowers and a thank you card next door.

"This is SO sweet!" she exclaimed.

"Seriously, thank you. I would have been out there all night if you hadn't come along and helped."

"Well, but honestly, I got the most enormous sense of satisfaction out of that whole scenario. I was like we are getting this bike out! And we did!"

We certainly did. And Betty and I went for a little ride tonight, and she's as smooth as can be. Now, if I can get over my fear of Baltimore City traffic and find some safer roads to cruise on, we'll live happily ever after.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Here are the things that dominated last weekend during New Kid's visit:

drag queens



jelly beans

bingo at Italian Fest (New Kid won $7)


watching a documentary about anorexia while eating an entire pizza (a study in contrasts)







Moo moo, kiss kiss.

She's bad ass AND classy.

I like how he is LIFTING the PUMA, while the real cougar swings away....

Hurricane Bride - equal parts rum and regret.

I just...I can't....no.

No party is complete without....

Home sweet home! Little Italy, that is. Not the Chevy wagon.

There is absolutely nothing scary about this at all.

She wore many disguises, but there could be only one....

We come from citiiiiies near and faaaar!

Absolutely nothing stereotypical to see here!


Private Eye-FULL!

omg omg omg

A step by step guide to thinking outside the box.



Why did I not have this? Why?


Thanks, but...I'll pass.

No toy museum would be complete without....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Play Time!

OMG, you guys.

So, one of my besties - New Kid - is coming into town today for the weekend, and I am PSYCHED. I have been such a good girl, with all of my self-improvement, so it's time to un-do all of that with a good old-fashioned party-hearty weekend.

What's on the docket?

Sushi for dinner, a drag show, the festival in Little Italy, possibly a toy museum, and brunch. Lots and lots of brunch. And snuggly quality Girl Time.

So, basically, a lot of my favorite things.

Sooooooooooooooo excited.

Next week, I promise to regale you with a story about the impulse purchase I made yesterday that has already injured me twice but has promise to be my new favorite thing.

I'll leave you with that little teaser.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Month

One month gone since The Gentleman moved to the Middle East. Actually, specifically, one month and one day. But who's counting?!

I am.

The good news is, my flight to Abu Dhabi is booked. Ten days' vacation, leaving October 31 and flying through Boston and Heathrow. Nearly 24 hours of travel. Better stock the iPad Kindle app!

So what has been going on this past month?

Well, there was the Cardio Challenge, which gave way to the start of half marathon training. Two weeks into training now, and I'm bored as hell without my running partner. I'm resorting to watching Breaking Bad at the gym and downloading podcasts for long, outdoor runs. I'm used to gossiping with The Gentleman. I'm also used to him telling me to straighten out my shoulders and stop slouching when I run. 

I need to have that spliced into my podcasts. Like, once every five minutes, the presenter will pause, and say:


And then I'll get mad, and tell the presenter to mind his own business, but secretly love the presenter a little bit more for trying to make me a better person. I mean, runner. 

Then there has been the Writing Challenge, which I'm doing with Lee. The first week was awesome. We were all killing it, with our forty minutes a day. Feeling like gangsta writing geniuses with our badass prose and killer deadlines. Writing was AWESOME last week!

And then this week. This week is like, "OK, I just can't do it. I can't. I'll do double tomorrow, I promise."

And - "OK, I did it, but it was horrible."

Apparently writing is hard.

So, there's half marathon training, and writing, and regular work going on. That's about 11-12 hours of the day. Then, 8 hours of sleeping. Which leaves approximately 4-5 hours of unrestricted time per day.

I shouldn't say "unrestricted," because that time has been for writing trivia, catching up on Breaking Bad and Mad Men, doing my Lolo Jones core workout on a yoga mat in my room-

-seriously, there are few things in this world I covet like her abs.



I digress.

- and then there's doing my nails, and Furminating my cats, and vision boarding, and cooking sprouted quinoa in different ways because I bought a big-ass bag of it and need to use it up.

I know, my life is enthralling.

So, basically it's been all of this self-improvement in the last month. I don't have Lolo's abs yet, and I have a crappy first draft that's about fifty pages of complete and total awfulness, but my room is really clean and my nails are shaped nicely. And the cats are de-furred. 

My aunt pointed out that there are only 1,872 hours to go until my flight to Abu Dhabi. This is enough time to train for and run another half marathon, attend two weddings, go to California for a long weekend, write about a hundred more pages, do 35 Lolo Jones abs workouts, and Furminate the cats 13 more times.

All of which I intend to do. 

So, you see, I'm keeping busy.

Keep on keeping on.

75 days until these kinds of breakfasts again. I can't wait.
Oh yes, and hanging out with The Gentleman for 10 days. That too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cloud of Puppy

Fun things are happening as The Writing Challenge kicks off its second week. Promises to write something awesome about it soon.

To tide you over:

FUN FACT OF THE DAY: (New segment - important things I share with The Gentleman via text to keep him in touch with my world here)
Me: One of my parents friends is visiting with their new puppy. I almost stole it. 10:09 PM

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Challenge(s)

Olympic-mania has set in, and we can all watch hours of footage ogling the most fascinating human machines on the planet doing the thing they do best - compete. Something about it is so gosh darn inspiring. Want proof? Watch some coverage while on a treadmill at the gym, and see if you don't start working harder. 

In the spirit of the Olympics, and also to fight off the blah that is August and navigating the first month without The Gentleman here, I roped two of my friends into doing The Cardio Challenge. It's totally simple - two weeks, five days per week, forty minutes a day of cardio.  You can run, bike, swim, whatever you want to do. You can even change it up - twenty minutes on the treadmill, and another twenty on the elliptical. 

There were three intentions here:

1. To get my ass back into a regular gym-going habit. Since the batshit crazy of summer descended, I was making to the gym sporadically. Which, for me, is about three times a week. Save your breath. I AM AN ACTIVE PERSON. But also, I needed to get back into the 5-a-week habit because this week begins training for the Baltimore Half Marathon, which I dutifully signed up for even though all of my running buddies had to bail on me this year. For various reasons, which are all mostly bullshit, like "total debilitating injury" or "moving to the Middle East." Wow, thanks a lot, slackers. You guys suck. Kidding! Smooches.

2. To set a goal that might offset my funk that has me sighing deeply at regular intervals and staring out of windows. It'll pass. 

3. Because my two friends also needed a kick in the ass to get back into some healthy habits and routines.

So, in a series of inspiring, insulting, challenging, and bragging text messages and public Facebook posts, the three of us embarked on our challenge. We texted each other pictures of the time clock on the treadmill, harassed one another when someone failed to pull through, and threatened double make-up time for failure to put in the requisite 40 minutes. It was fun, it was inspiring, and it was just enough of a challenge to be helpful but not daunting. 

Which led to this brainful idea: I happened to be Happy Hour Skyping with Lee and Hot Curry, and Lee and I were both bitching poetical about how hard it is to find time to write, and how sometimes just the act of sitting your butt down in the chair can be so daunting. It occurred to me that in my time of training for races, I have often found the schedule grueling or daunting but it has never deterred me from actually slapping on my running shoes and hitting the pavement. And now, in training for my third half-marathon, I wonder why the discipline doesn't translate.

Which led to this: The Writing Challenge. Same basics: forty minutes a day, five days a week. But with writing. 

It seems completely terrifying to me.

And not just writing anything, like this blog entry so does not count. It has to be writing towards this book, for which I have pages and pages of scribbled notes just waiting to be crafted and formed into hilarious narrative. I have the ideas, the basic skill set, and the time - it's just a matter of actually doing it.

Physical challenges, like training for long races, have never seemed as terrifying to me as this. Actually embarking on the act of writing is so scary, I think, because the idea of failure is much bigger. I never claimed to be a runner, so my measure of success was basically, "Just actually run." But I do claim to be a writer, and I claim to want to write a book, and for me the stakes for that kind of goal is so much higher. 

Going into this challenge, I'm really not sure what will come out of it. If it will feel torturous, or bring out the worst self-doubt in me, or if it will unlock something. 

I have no idea what is so utterly scary to me about the act of writing. I squirm around it, I procrastinate, I decide that I can't write because the lighting in my room isn't right and I spend the next two hours relocating all of the lamps. 

Whereas I can set out a 9-week training schedule for a half marathon, and shrug it off as part of my daily routine. Wake up, run 9 miles, go to work, no biggie.

I wonder if part of the manageability of training for something daunting is that it's broken out into a day-by-day process that feels doable, whereas the prospect of writing a book is just so overwhelming that it's a total mental trip. 

Hence, the idea for The Writing Challenge. For me, it's all about discipline and the act of having to show up, every day, for writing with the same mindset as I show up for running. It's building muscles and creating habits, and working on a foundation of strength that will translate into truly great performances over time. I like the analogy, and it's something I can wrap my head around. 

Also, between that and training, it's keeping me busy so I'm not counting the days until October 31 when I can fly to Abu Dhabi to see The Gentleman. That too.