Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ready for my close up

I'm supposed to have my official author photograph taken in a couple of weeks. Judging from this site, all I need to do is ride the bus, lean against a wall, and/or prop myself on the occasional empty park bench, then wait for someone to come along, realize I'm a brilliant author, and take my picture.

But I don't much like the bus, so I guess I'll go the formal route and actually plan things out. I might even look AT the camera, but now I'm wondering if that will cost me my author cred? Oh that's right, I'm writing a memoir. I have no cred :)

In anticipation of this photographic extravaganza, Steve and I broke down and hired a trainer to help us shed the pounds of wedded bliss that have accumulated around our middles since I (finally) learned to cook. (There's a possibility that our bodies simply learned to stockpile calories during that first year because they weren't sure when they would next see nutrients in a digestible form. But anyway...) We were looking a little too much like the manatees from my last post for our comfort, so we decided to take drastic action.

The thing about working with a trainer is, whatever dignity you thought you had while working out is stripped away. You can't just do the exercises you're good at, the ones that make you look like you know what you're doing. I wasn't under much of an illusion that I could pull that off to begin with. I frequently drop my water bottle on the treadmill or get my towel caught in the pedals of the elliptical machine. Three days ago I managed to bump into three different pieces of apparatus on my way to a weight lifting class. Honestly, I don't even get embarrassed anymore. But I tend to avoid things that might cause me to, say, sprawl out across the entire floor, or give myself a concussion.

But last night took uncoordination to a whole new level. Trainer John (who apparently was in need of a good laugh) decided we were ready for a whole bevy of multi-part workout techniques, like situps with boxing gloves, pushups while rolling a ten-inch ball back and forth between our hands, and squats while perched precariously on a semi-circle, holding giant hand weights as we bobbed up and down. (A word of caution to anyone who might be contemplating scanty attire for that first trip back to the gym: there is no graceful way to exit ANY of these exercises, and no way to keep your secrets hidden without plenty of that stretchy lycra wrapped from stem to stern. Lesson learned.)

Despite the indignity, Steve and I persevered, pushed along by the inspirational words of this singer. Through it all I convinced myself that the extra calories burned trying to dismount and/or disentangle myself from the various equiptment would catapult me toward my fitness goals, and I'd wake up this morning sleek and trim - possibly with a tan.

Instead I discovered that I shrunk my pants in the dryer.

Perhaps this weekend I'll try Swishy Girl's approach to fitness.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sleek? Well, no. Complex? Yes, indeed.

It's good to see the science community acknowledge that some easy-going mammals aren't dumb - we're just slow moving and difficult to motivate.

And in that same vein... pigs in a blanket are back in style!

The Kylie Chronicles

Back from Maine. And even though it was drizzly and foggy, Mom had a happy, multi-generational birthday, as family members from age 3 to 74 expressed our gratitude that she was born. It was, as the sign on the state line promises, The Way Life Should Be.

Which is good, because right now in Massachusetts, our dog (or That Dog as I'm now calling her) has staged an unprecedented coo, making a bid for her version of the way life should be, and it doesn't exactly sync up with ours.

By way of background, Kylie has always been an amazingly unaggressive little creature. She conquers through love, not destruction, and spends the bulk of her waking hours rearranging the covers on our bed to obtain the optimal lounging position. While friends warned me that getting a puppy was the equivalent of tossing my favorite shoes in a blender, Kylie never so much as sniffed at them. She never chewed furniture or rugs or children's toys. She did recently make a bold move on an unattended ham, but let's be fair - the ham was there to be eaten. After ten years together, I can honestly say that Kylie is the least destructive dog I've ever known.

Like all creatures, however, Kylie has her weakness. Superman had kryptonite. Kylie has Kleenex. It's irresistible to her, and it draws her out of her normally obedient nature, making her into a frenzied, get-out-of-my-way-before-somebody-gets-hurt fiend, slashing and tearing as if to defend us all from some unknown threat hiding amidst the crumpled tissues in the bathroom wastebasket.

This behavior has gone on for the past ten years. Certainly, I could have disciplined her, coating the basket with bitter apple, spraying her with a hidden squirt gun when I caught her nose in the basket. But it seemed easier to just close the bathroom door and be grateful it wasn't the contents of my closet she demolished whenever she got the chance.

Well this week, Steve bought one of those metal trash cans with a lid that opens when you step on a petal. I was ugly, and it made an awful CLANG! each time the lid opened and slammed into the sink or the wall, but it seemed like it would foil Kylie's tissue habit once and for all, particularly if she inadvertently stepped on the pedal and conked herself on the chin.

As it turns out, however, That Dog was undaunted by the new metal lid. She must have read all those "Power of Positive Thinking" books I used to have, because she took this lemon and made herself some lemonade. Freed from the burden of protecting us from the forces in the wastebasket, Kylie turned her attention to the rolls of extra toilet paper under the sink. That afternoon I found her jowl-deep in the remains of approximately 375 double-ply yards of Quilted Northern.

Kylie: 1
Trish, Steve, and their new fancy wastebasket: 0

Some of the rolls were only slightly damaged - just a little chunk out of the middle, but otherwise perfectly functional. Which leaves me with the question: Would you find it odd if you were in somebody's bathroom and the toilet paper had a (small) bite out of it???

(Kidding. I'm kidding!)

Monday, August 28, 2006

My Hometown

I'm going home tomorrow to celebrate my Mom's Birthday. (If you look closely at the picture, the lobster boat on the left with the grey hull used to be my Dad's - cool, huh?)

We always get extra happy around Mom's birthday because for awhile there we didn't think there would be many more. But prayer, as it turns out, works. When my Mom first got sick five years ago, I asked God to make sure the doctors didn't diagnose anything terminal (she's exceptionally obedient, and if an authority figure told her she had six months to live, she'd do her best to have everything wrapped up in five months and twenty-nine days). So I prayed that they not diagnose her with anything involving a timeline, and they didn't. So far, so good :)

Then two years ago when she was in the hospital again, we prayed that whatever time she had left be quality time. And wow, has God come through.

So Mom will spend tomorrow surrounded by her husband (who will cut his golf game short in her honor), her kids, her grandkids, and an adorable mutt she insists CANNOT call her Grammy. And when we're all distracted with something else, I'll hear her scratching said mutt behind the ears, reminding her who loves her best.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Weekend update:

First of all, after last weekend’s Yankees debacle, I’m ignoring the Red Sox from here on out. From what I understand, this is a good thing. I caught one comment while changing channels Saturday, where an announcer said, “The Red Sox pitcher was particularly shaken after that last inning, where he gave away that grand slam and two additional runs…” Enough already. Go Pats!

In other fun, we went to a birthday celebration for our friend Paul, who read an amazing story he just had published in Story Quarterly. Hysterical. Really, you haven’t thought about the Noah’s Ark story until you’ve considered it from the perspective of Noah’s daughter-in-law, who (according to Paul’s version) is worried the flood might interfere with her social life, and wants to make sure she packs enough pretty dresses. A girl after my own heart :)
The party was catered by my new best friend Renae, owner of Blonde On The Run Catering. Honestly, I thought my friends were all nice people until I saw what happened when she served that heaping chocolate mountain for dessert. As Rachel Ray would say, Yum-O.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The weekend!

I'll be reading this and this as the rain comes down this weekend. The first because it's a fun story I can't wait to finish so I can go buy the sequel; the second because I can pretend it's counts as time spent working on my book (should that have been a semi colon or a comma? By this time Sunday I'll know!)

Have a good one - see you Monday!

It's Friday! And the Golden Saucer goes to...

Good morning :) I'm quite delighted that it's Friday, even if it is gray, pouring rain, and about 45 degrees here in Cambridge. I'm on a new get that writing done campaign, inspired by this guy, which has me rising at the entirely ridiculous hour of 5:00am to set my thoughts to paper. I should probably be worried (or at least embarrassed) that my writing is so much better before I'm capable of thought, but I'm too tired for that. Pages, baby - it's all about the pages :)

In the week-old tradition of this blog, today is the big day for the second Trish's Dishes Highlight of My Week Award, aka, The Golden Saucer. Last week, you will recall, the little shiny cyber-plate went to Dr. Baine, the dentist who told me I didn't have a cavities, just sensitive teeth. This week, I am excited (not to mention grateful) to give props to my colleague David, who swooped in like a super hero yesterday and saved me from the clutches of an angry color printer. I needed to wrestle fifteen double-sided, three-hole punched copies out of the angry jaws of that machine, and it was NOT in the mood for my "gee, I wonder what will happen if I press this button?" approach. Those machines can smell fear a mile away.

(As an aside, I have to admit I'd feel much better about the money I spent on higher education if at least one class had focused on the stuff I'd really need to make something of myself - stuff like the care and training of office machines.)

But back to today's award: Not only did David tame the ugly beast, he let me use his own super-secret color printer, which he somehow rendered friendly as a golden retriever puppy - if I'm not mistaken, it was even excited to see me, and couldn't wait to print my copies.

So, as my three-year-old niece Lily would say, "Hip Hip Hooray for Dave!" A golden saucer (or a porcelain saucer with goldtone finish until I find a better picture) for you my friend!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Paris Hilton gets LEFT BEHIND

According to this article, (thanks to media bistro for the link) of all the "I'm too embarrassed to be seen reading this so I'll sneak it into my hotel room" books people abandon at Travel Lodges across the nation, Paris Hilton's autobiography is #1.


Makes me wonder what the results would be if they checked in with the head of housekeeping for the Hilton chain?

In other end-times fun, check out this fabulous story by my friend Paul Griffiths (it's the one called "End of the World, Drinks Half Off"). His writing makes me smile, even if I'm not always sure he's serious.

rescued from the flames

Tried out the running shoes last night at the gym - terrible. I'll be exchanging them at lunchtime.

I have more interesting stuff to post later, but they're expecting actual work from me this morning. In the meantime, did you know they now offer Botox for under your arms to stop sweating??? Brings new meaning to the saying, "I don't perspire...I just glow..."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

If the shoe fits...

I went looking for new running shoes yesterday. It felt a bit like back-to-school shopping - I pictured myself jogging back and forth across the store, determining which bright and shiny pair would help me run super-fast and jump super-high.

I soon discovered, however, that things have changed a bit since my back-to-school days. Apparently, it’s no longer the done thing to just wander in and pick out the sneakers that will look best with my favorite running pants. No. Now, before I was allowed try on a single pair, I had to be evaluated by a professional staffer to determine whether or not I pronate (which struck me as a slightly vile and incredibly personal thing to be chatting about, there in the sporting goods section).

As it turns out, I do not pronate, which sounded like excellent news. But what it really meant was that I was extremely limited in which running shoes I could buy, because my failure to pronate takes the ones with “extra stability” right out of the picture (despite the fact that anyone who knows me would suggest that “extra stability” is exactly what I should be looking for). My options were limited to shoes in the “neutral” category; they were, according to the staffer, my only hope for achieving optimal performance in my running and jumping efforts.

This forced me to confess that said efforts are, at this point at least, imaginary; that in real life I achieve optimal performance only when running away from something (like an angry Doberman) or toward something (like a sale at Ann Taylor). In those situations, I assured him, the shoe is mostly an afterthought.

But he remained unconvinced, and refused to bring me stability-enhancing shoes when my feet were, he claimed, crying out for neutrality. So I am now the proud owner of a pair of flame-orange and navy striped running shoes. There is nothing neutral about this color scheme; I presume they’ll make me run faster out of sheer embarrassment. I’m putting them to the test tonight on the treadmill…I’ll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What's up with that doggie in the window?

Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for a contest…

The subject of our first foray into interactive prize-giving is my awesome dog, KYLIE!

The big question about Kylie has always been…what is she? And that’s the subject of our contest. Go on over to my website , click on "Great Questions," (or add a comment here on the blog) and tell me your best guess at her noble lineage. There will be a fabulous prize :)

Happy guessing!

It was the best of was the worst of weekends...

I went to my first ever Red Sox/Yankees game on Saturday. The sun was out, there was a breeze, we had yummy sandwiches at a little bistro on the way to the park. Really, all was right in the Fenway world.

My husband is part of a season-ticket split, and our seats are in left field, looking out over Manny Ramirez as he chews his cuticles and runs into the little door in the green monster to use the bathroom when things get slow. It’s my third season in these seats, so I feel like Manny is a friend of the family now. (Did I mention I had a pedicure right next to his wife right before my wedding? I’m telling you, we’re tight…) Despite his absurdities, Manny is lovable. He seems like someone who would be entertaining to have at a dinner party. The same with David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis (without the chew). These guys, in addition to being phenomenally talented, are characters – they make it fun to be part of this whole Red Sox nation, even when the Yankees blow us out of the water four games in a row.

In baseball, following a particular team is a little like choosing a dysfunctional family to be part of. Given my druthers, I’ll take the one filled with colorful characters that give me funny things to talk about – like the nineteen-and-a-half minutes it takes Josh Beckett to throw a pitch – and have enough crazy talent to be always in the hunt, over a team with a few more wins and no personality. Because when the Yankees lose (and admittedly, that’s not often) all there is to do is complain about how they’re all overpaid. And that’s not fun at all.

In related news, the boys who created those “Yankees Suck” t-shirts pooled their pennies and headed for Baghdad. Here’s their story.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A new approach to author appearances...

If I start practicing NOW, maybe I'll be able to kick off my book tour like author Andrea Seigel:

In Defense of Happy Endings

So I'm reading that book with the pink and green belt on the cover, the one whose author had the female writing world up in arms last summer with her assertion that "Calling a book chick-lit is like calling another woman a slut." To put it mildly, Them's fightin' words.

Because of the scuffle, I never read the book - when I start out with disdain for the author, I usually don't get very far. But a few days ago I found an abandoned copy and decided to give it a try.

I was floored by the first few chapters - I walked around muttering to myself, "Well, if she's going to pick big fights, at least she's got the chops to back it up." No doubt about it, Curtis Sittenfeld can write. I pushed off lunch, then dinner, thoroughly engrossed in her heroine's freshman year; I reluctantly put the book down to get some sleep late that night.

But when I picked it up the next day, that pink and green belt started to choke me. I was more than a hundred pages into this journey, and nothing good had happened to our heroine. Nothing. And if the next hundred pages are any indication, not much will.

This morning I picked up the book again, not because I couldn't wait to see what comes next, but because I couldn't wait to get it over with. If one single happy thing happens to this character, I don't want to miss it. But I'm not very hopeful, and this book now feels like something I've been sentenced to - like literary community service.

The funny thing is, if this grim story were a memoir, I'd feel better somehow. At least I'd know she got a book deal out of all that misery. But the character I've spent the past 72 hours reading about is, ostensibly, fictitious. The author could have given her a ray or two of genuine sunshine in her otherwise dismal life, but she didn't.

As a reader, I want good things to happen. I want a happy ending, and I don't think it makes a book any more or less "important" if characters who start out without much hope end up somewhere better than we would have suspected in the beginning. It doesn't have to be Prada bags and Tiffany diamonds – that gets tedious after awhile. But I think intelligent women realize that in real life, nice things do sometimes happen to ordinary people. Occasionally, the future exceeds our expectations, and those are the moments I want to read about when I sink into the couch for a couple hours of escape.

I’m not finished with the book yet – I’m determined to get through it tonight, so I can start the weekend fresh with something a bit more optimistic. Like CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, perhaps.

So here’s to the happy ending! My current favorite books in the “happy but not sappy” category are over in the “Great Books” section of my web site (we're wrestling with some font issues so please excuse the mess while it's under construction!) Last week I read this and was blown away. This is on my to-be-read pile.

Anyone out there have suggestions for books I should add to the list?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

First Ever "Golden Saucer" Award - Dr. Baine

I thought we’d start off on a happy subject. Like going to the dentist…

I am maniacally afraid of the people who poke at our gums for a living. Years of torture at the hands of two sadistic orthodontists and a vicious tool called “the bopper” left me unwilling to submit myself to the semi-annual cleaning and “you really should floss” lectures recommended by the ADA. I did enough time in that chair between the ages of five and twelve to last a lifetime.

But recently, I felt a sharp pain in one of my upper molars. Sort of like the pain I felt five years ago, the one that meant I had a big fat cavity crying out for a shot of Novocain and a long half-hour of quality time with a drill. Fraidy-cat that I am, I know that when you ignore a cavity you end up with an appointment for a root canal instead, so I called my husband’s dentist like a brave girl and told them I’d be in in a month.

Yesterday was the day. All morning I chatted with God, asking him to make this event go well – for the dentist to be in a good mood, for pleasant background music to distract me from the grinding. Right before I left I added, “You know God, if you want to just make it so I don’t have a cavity at all, that would be great too.”

I slid reluctantly into the chair and opened my mouth a half a centimeter, and the very nice Dr. Baine started to poke around. He told me to let him know when it hurt, so I grabbed the arms of the chair and prepared myself for a blinding pain to shoot through my skull. It never came. After five minutes or so, Dr. Baine rolled his chair back and asked, “This pain – is it up by your gum line?” I nodded.

He handed me a tube of Sensodyne and sent me on my way.

So my now-beloved Dr. Baine gets the very first “Trish's Dishes Highlight of My Week” award - I think I'll call it THE GOLDEN SAUCER - in the unexpected/never to be repeated category of Dental Treatment. And Yay God for the answered prayer :)


Just a little blurb to test my new blog...