Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mea (or Us-a) Culpa

To my (beloved, wonderful, forgiving) sister:

Steve and I really, really, really didn't know that the make-pretend coffee maker in the "Yay! It's Time For Breakfast!" set we gave your children for Christmas used REAL WATER. We thought it was sufficiently exciting that the battery-operated toaster popped up two pieces of plastic bread that the kids could stick together with velcro to make a breakfast sandwich. We never imagined that our gift would turn your living room into an Aquaboggan Theme Park on Christmas morning, or leave your children marveling, "Wow, water tastes totally different when you run it through this machine!"

We didn't know. We're not parents yet. And if you decide to bring THAT DOG four pounds of the fancy organic dog treats that make her leak from both ends the next time you come to Massachusetts, we'll understand.

On the bright side, your kids are one step closer to part-time jobs at Starbucks which might score us discount Caramel Macchiatos! (Maybe next year Santa will bring a toy cappuccino machine that foams real milk???)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Garmin: The reason for the season

If you're feeling like you've lost your spirituality during this holiday season, there's good news: some folks in Florida put a GPS on baby Jesus to make him easier to find.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The end of my sports career

The Celtics lost last night. According to Don (who stood up for us at our wedding and took my author photo, so he's a guy we trust with important things) I'm banned from live Boston sports until further notice. Oddly, knowing that my staying home will play a key role in the season makes me feel like an integral part of the team. I'm hoping that if the Celts win the championship, Coach Doc Rivers will remember my contribution. (My ring size is 6 Doc, in case you need to know).

Our favorite Michiganders were amazing, out-nicing us at every turn. (Not that that's really a challenge, but they did it with style). Mark didn't complain as he folded his tall body into the little Prius taxicab we took to the restaurant, and Kathy offered me the seatbelt hook when it seemed like there weren't enough to go around. And in the final moments of the game, when the Celtics surged to a comeback and the ref called a bum foul, Mark and Kathy politely ignored Steve and I when we jumped to our feet screaming, "No way!!! Rip his head off!!!" I love these people.

If I get go to Michigan when my book comes out this spring, Kathy has offered to be my author escort. Accordingly, I plan to spend the entire month of January cold-calling every book group in the state to try and earn an invite to take her up on this. I'm not sure she knows what she's in for, but I hope that the State Council on the Maintenance of All Things Nice will give her a stipend for her efforts. Who knows, maybe we can bring some of it back to New England? Folks like these make the world a better place.

But the next time Mark and Kathy visit, we'll have to get tickets to the local High School production of A Chorus Line or something--any event where my presence doesn't end a record-breaking winning streak!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Big Green Fun

We're going to the Celtics game tonight! Now, I'm not too excited about this or anything...except that I totally am. I've only seen them play one other time, and the circumstances were quite different. The Celtics weren't exactly in top form that year (or any form, really). Indeed, they were SO BAD that the president of the venture capital firm where I was temping (the the one the arena was named after at the time) gave away box seats--right at half-court, with the complimentary bar & buffet--to me (his lowly temp) because it was just too painful to watch the Celtics play. (That was the night I learned that even free hot dogs and melon wedges lose their luster when your team is down 103-47).

Tonight, I think things will be different :)

We get to see the great tall men play because our awesome friends are coming in from Michigan, and they invited us to join them. Now, I have to say (and this isn't just the basketball excitement) that I have a bit of a crush on the entire state of Michigan. I've been there twice, and I don't think I've ever met so many nice people. There's no reason or motive to it, but you can feel the niceness, just hanging in the air. It made me want to do things like help old ladies across the street and recycle. Perhaps I'm overstating it a bit, but Michigan seems like the kind of place you could live for a long, long time and never hear people debate the relative merits of soy underwear.

I never dreamed I'd come to define happiness this way, but there you have it.

Well, that and Celtics tickets--Go Green!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Soy it ain't so

I was reading a magazine this weekend and came across an entire article devoted to the merits of various brands of soy underwear. That's underwear--briefs and boxers and thongs and all manner of other unmentionables--made from BEANS.

Why, in a world plagued with starvation, are we turning our legumes into what calls "Mens' contour pouch briefs"???

Then again, there's a good chance I don't want to know.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A New Standard

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my sister forwards me the photo report from my four-year-old niece Glamour Girl's nursery school. It keeps me up to date on what the little fashionista is wearing, but more importantly, it's given me a new understanding of the basic learning standards of my home state's educational system.

Each report includes a three-point outline of what the wee ones learned each day--the secret agenda behind all the macaroni necklace making and super-special circle time. These Early Childhood Education Standards have changed the way I view my day. What if my life was more like nursery school? I asked myself. I mean, if these things are important when you're four, shouldn't they be even more so now? I set out to evaluate how I'd do. (If you're a writer looking for something other than word count by which to evaluate your personal development and contribution to society, I highly recommend this system)

Here are today's three points:

SOCIAL STUDIES: Defined as "Spending time and interacting with the community." Did you call the operator to find out what time it was? Yell at the Fed Ex guy for leaving your box in a puddle? Order new slippers from the L.L. Bean order line? If so, give yourself a pat on the back!

CREATIVE ARTS: Defined as "Participating with increasing interest and enjoyment in a variety of music, movement, visual arts, and drama activities." Just the explanation I needed for those three hours spent learning the choreography from Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again" video. Another A+!

APPROACHES TO LEARNING: Defined as "Initiative and Curiosity." The kids got credit for this by "gazing in awe" as a model train went around the track, which set the bar pretty low. So I'm giving myself credit for "staring in rapt attention" as the coffee maker churned out my Starbucks House Blend this morning. I lose points though, for "failing to comprehend what was happening" as THAT DOG streaked through the house when we got back from the park today, leaving mud all over the floors, several walls, and even the bed. And I suspect some demerits for "ignoring much-needed clean up" aren't far behind.

Still though, I think APPROACHES TO LEARNING might be my thing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

All Dressed Up

We went to an amazing Gala last night. (Isn't "gala" a fun word to say? I'm done with birthday parties; from now on, I'm throwing galas.) It was called "Warmth Under The Stars" and was a fundraiser thrown by my friend Pascha and her nonprofit organization, The Possibilities Factory. You'll meet Pascha--and understand why I love her--in the book. She helps kids, inspires creativity, and gathered volunteers to sew over 100 quilts for local women and children who are homeless because of domestic violence. It was an incredible night.

One of the most striking things, beyond all the charity and goodwill, was how GOOD everyone looked. We're a pretty casual bunch here in Cambridge, and our standard uniform for all but the most important occasions typically involves denim, wool, and fleece. So it was fun to see the heights of elegance we're capable of when given the opportunity. And it's nice to know that not only can we New England girls drive in snow, we can walk across an icy parking lot in high heels without landing on our butts.

This is how I console myself when I talk to my friend Lynette in Austin, Texas--sure she's warm, but is she developing any useful skills???

In other news, if you need a feel-good story to sweep you away, grab Holly Kennedy's THE TIN BOX. It is so good that I'm tempted to make cheesy comments about how much money you'll save on heating oil when her story warms your heart. But I'm pretty sure New England girls don't say things like that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Gaping Hole in My Education

We had friends over for dinner last night. It was a festival of lasagna and meatballs, wine and laughter. THAT DOG pranced about adorably with her new bone, I made a pot of coffee at the end of the night without blowing up the kitchen. All in all, it was a huge success.

But evenings like this make me aware of a gaping hole in my formal education. I followed the typical path: I spent my high school years learning things that would get me into college, and my college years learning things that would make me sound pithy and erudite in interviews and at cocktail parties. (We'll leave out my law school years, where I learned little besides how many Miller Lights it took to fend off a panic attack.) The thing is, though, nothing in my eduction prepared me for the mundane, practical aspects of social living: that someone needs to cook, and someone needs to clean. And sometimes, that someone is me.

I blame feminism. Now granted, I'm grateful that my college moved beyond it's historical tradition of teaching women only the domestic arts. But the result is that I never learned any of the domestic arts. And contrary to what I haughtily said to my mother when she suggested it might behoove me to learn, my years of training in how to think about a problem and tackle it effectively haven't helped me figure these basics out at all.

Now don't get me wrong: it doesn't all fall to me. Steve is a great team player in our attempts to sustain life here in the Ryan Hood. He can Swiffer abandoned dog fur into submission like no one I've ever seen, and he came home at 4:30 yesterday to make the lasagna. But still, it took me SIX HOURS to clean the rest of our 900 square foot condo. And it hasn't been all that long since we did it the last time. Six hours??? Clearly, either there are some tips I'm missing, or this is the reason so many couples stop having marital relations once they move in together--they're too busy trying to stay ahead of the creeping crud.

It makes me wonder--might the whole course of my life have been different if all students at my college had been required to take a semester or two of Home Ec? Think of what a great place the world would be if every History, Math, and Poli Sci major came out of school armed with a good oatmeal cookie recipe and an understanding of the difference between 409 and Windex? If I'd known I'd someday live in the city with a furry dog, I might even have declared an official minor in dust management.

THIS is what I'd like to see on HGTV: a reality show where they reveal other people's pathetic attempts to fight mold and mildew, and then give them Home Ec makeovers so they don't have to re-route their 401K contributions to the Merry Maids. We could call it Clean Eye for the Dirty Guy.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Words to live by (or not, depending on the circumstances)

"There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap."

Cynthia Heimel, author of If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?

Not much I can add to that. Just wanted to share :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Weekend update

We had some big, Big, BIG events here this weekend.

First, Saturday was THAT DOG'S birthday! To celebrate, we--being the ultra-cool, yuppie chic people that we are--decided to...forget completely. Yep, there it is. After her twelve years of faithful puppy devotion, I still didn't remember to let so much as a green bean fall to the floor for THAT DOG to enjoy in celebration. Sigh.

There's a chance her birthday could be rescheduled for February, along with Christmas, as that's the month when her adorable eight-week old, four pound self came to live with me and light up my life. We could even reenact that super-fun day when I called the vet hysterical at 7am, looking frantically at the mini-load she'd just deposited on a busy Philadelphia sidewalk, asking, "What does it mean if there are little tan things in her poop?"
"Do you live in an apartment?" the vet asked, a serious tone in her voice.
"Yes..." I admitted.
"Then it probably means she's been eating your rug."

Good times.

What were we doing when we weren't celebrating THAT DOG'S birthday? We were trying out a new toothpaste! Our grocery store had Arm & Hammer Super Whitening, Brightening, Ultra-Enlightening toothpaste on sale, buy-one-get-one-free. (Apparently, the good people at corporate headquarters feel we New Englanders need an extra dose of these qualities as the holidays approach. They might not be wrong.) Steve brought the toothpaste home, and I decided to give it a try. It was quite an experience. Not only did it fizzle in my mouth like pop rocks, but it FOAMED--out of my mouth, down my chin, onto my shirt-- giving me, at the precise moment Steve walked in asking, "How's that new toothpaste?" the appearance of a rabid dog. Sexy!

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Turf

We switched gyms. Our old fitness center (the one that featured Paula Deen's nutritional wisdom on the tv in the cardio room) wanted twelve gazillion dollars for us to renew, so we decided to forgo the fancy "club" with the spa we never used and the restaurant we never ate at, and jog ourselves over to "Joe's Gym," which charges something like thirty-nine cents a month.

Working out at Joe's Gym is rather like landing in an NFL retirement home--it's a giant open room filled with every type of old-school weight equipment imaginable, all being hefted and pushed and swung around by men who have no visible indent between their ears and their shoulders. Most days, I am the sole patron claiming estrogen as my dominant hormone; I've never once had to wait for the treadmill or the eliptical machine.

My favorite part about Joe's though, is the Zoomba class. I've never taken it, but wow does it make me happy. You see, the class is taught by a guy (possibly Joe?) who is somewhere in his 60s, I'd guess. Joining Joe are seven to ten other Italian men ranging in age from 40-70. Up goes the volume on the stereo, and Joe shows the boys how to shake their thang (thangs?) to remastered club tracks that range from Depeche Mode to Kool & The Gang. It's like watching Tony Soprano and his gang doing aerobics. (In my head, I call them Paulie, Silvio, and Vito).

Add to that the looming seven-foot presence of a former NBA All-Star's brother, and a guy who looks like the punching bag Mike Tyson trained on, and I feel like I'm in the six-degrees of separation hall of fame. Granted, it's the mob division, but hey, for thirty-nine cents a month, I'll take it.

I mean, how could Paula Deen compete with that?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bigger, better, faster, stronger

The Ryan house got rewired yesterday, with the help of a very nice guy named Mike who installed a new Fios system--internet, phone, cable, and DVR--that costs the same as our dodgy Comcast internet/cable plan that failed frequently and included no phone and no DVR.
Apparently, Comcast was under the impression that their much-heralded "On Demand" programming would keep us in the fold even without the other extras, and were shocked--shocked!--to learn that round-the-clock access to movies like "The Last Mimzy" and exercise shows from the 1980s featuring Wayne Gretsky's wife weren't enough to secure our devotion. After three years of lost calls on my cell phone (not so great for business) and missed seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, the Fios people knew just the way to my heart.

The one problem with this delightful new arrangement was that Steve and I didn't own a phone. We've never had a landline; it's one of those things we just never got around to doing. But when Fios Mike asked for our phone so he could test it, we did what most people do--we went down to the basement, assuming we had one in storage. Doesn't everybody? Now mind you, this assumption had no basis in reality. Neither of us had a phone before we got married, and no one thought to add one to our gift registry. So we probably shouldn't have been quite so surprised to discover that our basement hadn't been sequestering one all this time, just waiting for us to come and appreciate it.

I dashed out to Best Buy with cash in hand, eager to rectify this situation. What I discovered was surprising. 90% of the cordless phones featured three or more handsets. Which is lovely and generous, but our condo is only 900 square feet. Multiple handsets seemed like a sure path to us becoming one of those couples who conducts all phone conversations in tandem, each weighing in from a different line. We're at least three decades away from that being practical (I think you need to be a grandparent) rather than utterly annoying, so I searched for other options.

Over in a corner, I found one lowly cordless option that came without brothers or sisters. It had approximately the same power (GHz?) as a small calculator. Sitting next to it was the other lone ranger, a sleek silver-gray model. That would look nice in the living room, I thought briefly, reaching to pick it up. Then my eye caught the tag below it. The price for the sleek phone? $1,000.00

Here's the deal: unless a phone can 1.) read moods and block you from making phone calls you might someday regret; and/or 2.) MAKE a guy call when he says he will, it's not worth $1,000.

So if you're someone I chat with regularly on the phone, expect a call from me from my new calculator. I'll hit "record" on the DVR and we can chat :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's in a name?

Three things I learned this Thanksgiving Week:

1. The pies at Whole Foods go on half-price sale at 8pm the night before Thanksgiving. That's 8pm, folks. I've marked my calender for next year (it's the closest I thing I have to a holiday recipe).

2. Matrimony is a great book. I read it in four hours.

3. I have the same middle name as Alanis Morrissette. Future parents take note: the middle name Nadine may destine your daughter for a career entertaining the world with stories of her numerous dating failures. (Behold, my Jagged Little Pill.) I think the baby name books should note this, no?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Logistics

Stacy has finished all of her Christmas shopping.

I, on the other hand, haven't figured out where to buy the one pie we've been asked to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. (We haven't been asked to contribute something home-cooked to these family meals since the Great Squash Debacle of 2004. WHO KNEW that if you put nutmeg on squash when it comes out of the oven and then drive it across town, that somewhere en route it turns newborn baby poop brown??? I could have used a warning from the kind folks at before I brought that bowl of tasty goodness to my brand new in-laws...)

Anyway, there's a chance I'm a little behind. Is it possible, do you think, to reschedule Christmas for sometime mid-February? Would that be so wrong???

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks

THAT DOG and I saw the first flakes of snow this morning. It wasn't exactly a magical Gilmore Girls moment, what with the ominous gray sky and the poop to be scooped, but it felt special, nonetheless. This has been the longest, most beautiful autumn (not just fall, which sounds rather negative when you think about it, but autumn) I can remember. I can't really begrudge the snow when there have been gorgeous, just-ripened pear colored leaves outside my bedroom window for almost a month now, which is kind of a miracle here in the city. That makes the top of my thankfulness list this year.

THAT DOG is thankful that I can't cook without dropping food on the floor, and that the cozy winter comforter is back on the bed for her lounging pleasure.

How about you?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Cooth Cooth Chronicles

As some of you may know, one of my larger challenges since I embarked upon the wife life has been cooking. Or figuring out how to cook. Or, more precisely, even remembering that dinner is coming AGAIN tonight and we're probably going to want something to eat.

The truth is, I spent the first three decades of my life doing very little that involved the combination of food and heat. Sure, I learned to whip up mac & cheese from both Kraft (everyday) or Velveeta (for special occasions), and my baloney sandwiches are the stuff that lunchtime dreams are made of. But my Italian husband was raised on meals that came from INSIDE the oven, a place I rarely ventured near. Today, I decided that things were going to be different--I was going to go all out and whip up a gourmet meal for my man.

Dreaming of America's Next Top Chef, I boldly bypassed the potatoes, the rice, the pasta...even the mac & cheese...and pulled out a box of couscous to accompany our basic steak dinner. It sounded so exotic! Now, I'd never made couscous. I'd never even eaten it. I watched my four year old niece wrestle it down once this summer ("I don't think I like cooth cooth," she admitted sadly as she pushed the bits of grain around the bowl). But it came in the same type of box as the rice pilaf I know and love; I figured, "How bad could it be?"

Well. Hmm. Here's the thing: It tasted like the little rocks at the bottom of a fish tank might taste if heated and covered with salt and butter. And it went EVERYWHERE. Under our plates, on the rug, in my hair...honestly, they should sell this stuff in the pet section of the grocery store, because without a dog I can't imagine how you'd clean it up. We were tempted to lift Kylie right up onto the table and just let her lick up all those tiny grain dots. Guessing that this would unfairly raise her expectations about family dinner etiquette in the future, we instead opted to leave the room for a few minutes. And miraculously (?!?) the table was clean when we returned!

(Don't judge! If it wasn't for THAT DOG, we'd be picking up amber waves of grain until Thanksgiving!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eight words

I've been finding inspiration in some unexpected places lately. Sometimes I feel like a giant idea collector--as if the only way I can make sense of the world and figure out who I am inside it, how to negotiate the path from A to B to Z--is by gathering all kinds of thoughts and opinions, other people's stories, really, and then letting them knock around inside of me for awhile to see what sticks and what falls away. It's like some process inside me synthesizes them, and I await the "Ah-ha moments."

But sometimes I come across something that just strikes me as compelling, funny, and true enough to accept on its own, no synthesis necessary. Jerry Seinfeld's interview in Oprah's magazine this month falls into this category. He has some great things to say about creative process, but what jumped out at me was his basic advice for life. I think he came up with these for a commencement speech he gave. Whatever the genesis, I think these are just dang good thoughts to keep in mind as I wander around trying to make my time on Earth count for something. So here, for your consideration, are Jerry Seinfeld's Three Rules For Living:

1. Bust your ass
2. Pay attention
3. Fall in love

Check out the interview (Nov. 07 issue) for Jerry's elaborations if you're curious, but I think these eight words say a lot, even without embellishment. (And I fibbed about the no-synthesis thing; I've been mulling these over all week!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big Fun

Very cool weekend. My groovy new friend Kristen (thank you, Lynette for the great connection) invited me to see these guys in concert, which was awesome. I'm a sucker for good music combined with a good cause, and these guys brought both. "Can You Feel It?" (the song they have on their MySpace page) is a happy addition to my jogging playlist. And the band is collecting socks & towels for local homeless shelters in every city they visit--how cool is that? It got me thinking: Could we do something like that?

So here's a question for you guys: if there was a way to make a donation to a local women's shelter at book signing events--say, for example, a collection of toiletries and makeup items--would you bring a lip gloss and a stick of deodorant to contribute to the cause? Just a thought :)

In other news, we saw Dan in Real Life (fun, although I didn't really buy Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook together) and took THAT DOG for a walk in the woods (where she showed her country-dog prowess by sniffing out the poop of small woodland creatures and rolling in it).

That, my friends, is a weekend!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

One thing, but then quite another!

Okay, so I had this whole post planned in my head about the bizarre sign I saw on my way home from the library today, advertising that the senior center here in our fine town is holding a MEAT RAFFLE to raise funds.


I have all sorts of thoughts about what it means for humanity when our elders need to entice us to bid on beef to keep themselves in bingo chips...

But that's gonna have to wait. Because when I logged onto Amazon just now to add Rosie O'Donnell's latest book to my "Books read in 2007" list (yes, I've finally emerged from the weeds...THANK YOU for all the awesome words of support), I saw this and had to share!

Now, if you're wondering, "Does it bother Trish that her Amazon ranking is #1,588,799?" The answer is, Nope....that just means I HAVE AN AMAZON RANKING!!!! Which to me is pretty cool, especially as the manuscript is sitting on my dining room table right now as I go through the final proofread. (I guess that's why they're offering the extra 5% discount for pre-orders; they've seen my last attempt at editing and figure there's a good chance I might miss something...)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

2 random thoughts

1. No one told THAT DOG about daylight savings time, and she is NOT happy. She kept staring at us last night, pacing between the living room and the bedroom, trying to herd us off to bed. She'll be 12 next month, so I guess we're approaching the moody teen years...

2. Jesus has a cooler MySpace page than me. I guess it goes without saying that he has more friends. I've resolved to put more effort into Facebook.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Low visibility

I'm still in the weeds. Still in my pajamas. Still mainlining coffee and hiding my phone so I don't answer it and lose my grasp on the narrative thread holding my new proposal together.

I'm reminding myself of the wise words of my law school friend Jon, who'd watch golf in his bathrobe all day while the rest of us studied for finals. "Things tend to get done," he'd say, "things tend to get done."

I got an extra hour Saturday night thanks to daylight savings time, which I promptly lost on Sunday morning when I gave in to the need to eat and shower. None of that wussy stuff today, though, not until I'm done...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Slipping Standards

Am working very, very (very, very) hard on the proposal for book two. I've spent most of this week in my pajamas, which sounds far more lovely and relaxing than it actually is, especially as I live in the city and have a dog that often needs to be taken outside and emptied at times when the rest of the world is not in pajamas (I think she sometimes holds it until Steve gets home, just to avoid being seen with me).

I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd had a normal day until yesterday, when I was up and dressed by 9:00am for a haircut. I was absolutely GIDDY as I was driving to the salon--you'd have thought I was going out for chocolate martinis. I felt all swank and together, being dressed like other people at that hour. Sigh.

Today, not so much. It's pajamaland for me (I've noticed that THAT DOG has been steering clear of food & drink) until this evening, when we'll be going to an author event for this hysterical guy.

I'll have to look at my blog photo when I'm getting ready tonight for reminders of where the makeup goes...

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Heat is On

We finally turned the heat on tonight. Our goal was (as it is every year) to wait until November. We talk about how we come from hearty New England stock and how it's really perfectly warm if you just bundle up. We try to ignore the way THAT DOG seems to cling to us in the final days of October, always lying as close as possible to to keep her short-haired little body at a temperature that will sustain life.

But tonight, Steve walked in as I was dumping boiling water from the kettle into our bathtub. "What are you doing?" he asked, wondering (hopefully, perhaps) if I'd spent my day looking up new cleaning techniques on the internet. "I'm preheating the tub," I answered, as if this was the most normal thing in the world.

You see, when cold weather approaches, it hits our bathroom first. And whatever the material is that bathtubs are made out of (porcelain? ceramic?), it freezes like an ice-cube. So by the time the water from our not-so-large hot water heater makes it up here to the third floor (through cold copper pipes that inexplicably take it OVER our living room ceiling), it's not all that hot anymore. And once it hits the ice tub, forget about it.

I thought my answer to this problem was rather clever. I remembered how, in the Little House on the Prairie books, Ma would boil water on the stove to fill the bathtub to keep the family happy and warm. I thought I'd give it a try. And guess what? It worked! The pre-warmed tub filled with nice toasty water, and soothed my chilly bones.

(Unfortunately, the boiling water also peeled off some sort of casing on the drain, and may have compromised the long-term viability of the soap dish. I may need the number to one of those Bathfitter outfits that comes and refurbishes damaged tubs...)

But the good news is, the heat is on!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Humbled by the British Phone Salesman

This video is amazing. It makes me cry every time I watch it. Paul represents the opposite end of the spectrum from the bespangled pageant contestant I blogged about last week--he doesn't command the spotlight with either his beauty or his costume; he just sort of shuffles on, almost apologizing for taking up space in the world. The thing is, though, he has a dream; a dream that pushes him out there in front of all those snickering faces who can't imagine he has anything valuable to offer, people who think his appearance might be their best chance to dash to the restroom before the next big star takes the stage.

And then he opens his mouth.

He sings, and it's so clear that this is what God created him for, his gift to us here in this world. My eyes filled with tears as I watched and listened to him--partly because it was just so beautiful, but more because I know that if I'd been in the audience that night, I'd have missed it. I'd have been one of those people in the ladies' room, touching up my lipstick while out there on the stage this guy was living one of the magnificent moments when God shows up IN one of us, changing EVERYTHING for all who stick around to witness it.

I don't want to miss these moments. I want to be there for every one of them, because they force me to remember what it looks and feels like when our talent connects with God's timing. Amazing.

Late (oh-so late) breaking addition: Speaking of fabulous moments I wouldn't want to miss...

(For a girl who grew up having people LAUGH at me when I'd say, "I think they just might win it this year," watching the Red Sox celebrate still feels like a big gigantic miracle. Well worth three weeks of missed sleep :) )

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Just like Oprah...

...This I know for sure:

If I lay out my newly washed BLACK sweater in an out-of-the-way corner of our condo to dry, THAT DOG will wait till I'm not looking, place her slightly chewed rawhide in the middle of said sweater, and then curl up on top of it all for a nap.

Is it too soon to put extra-strength lint rollers on my Christmas list?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good, Evil, Imagination, and Sparkle

I'm finally reading Harry Potter (I'm just starting book 6 now, so PLEASE no spoilers!) which has me thinking about good & evil. Rowling's depictions of this ongoing battle resonate in a way I haven't found since I read the Chronicles of Narnia. The whole idea of a personal evil--an actual being who takes the time to get to know us, feels out our weaknesses, and dreams up temptations specially designed to get us off course for God's best for our lives--is a profound one, and pretty accurate, in my experience.

I'm also reading this book, in which the author--a longtime Harvard professor--inadvertently offers an interesting battle plan to fight off these temptations. He writes about the class he developed for a program Harvard started back in the 1980s to make sure all students had some basis in moral thinking (I guess the faculty was a little upset that so many alums were ending up in prison, which probably cut down significantly on annual giving). This prof was asked to guide students through what Jesus offers along these lines. Some of his conclusion are surprising.

He points out that there aren't all that many do's & don'ts in the New Testament (the second half of the Bible, where Jesus comes on the scene), because most of the rules for daily living were already established. What Jesus does, he argues, is press us toward a more creative way of thinking that enhances our ability to live within those rules and resist the temptation to veer off on dead-end adventures. Jesus, he claims, challenges us to develop our imagination, which is the key to not just knowing what we should do, but actually pressing through to do it; to walk away from the bright shiny opportunity that is actually a pair of golden handcuffs in disguise.

He says that stories, like the parables Jesus is so famous for, teach us to use our imagination, stretching our brains in new directions that might just come in handy later.

I know many of you are writers, so I thought I'd run this by you: how do the stories you read influence your thinking? More importantly, what do you think of the idea that as a writer, you are a KEY PLAYER in the battle against evil?

What if you're a SUPERHERO???

(And yes, for those of you who are wondering, this is all part of the grand strategy I alluded to earlier this week to make sure we can all wear sparkly costumes to book signings)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sparkle Power

So I think I'm the last person on the planet (aside from perhaps my Mom, who owns a computer but refuses to turn it on) to see Star Wars Trumpet Solo on YouTube. But it made me laugh so hard that I had to write something about it, if only to immortalize this moment in my own little cyber journal so I can access it again later on days when I'm feeling down.

You see, when I watch this video, I'm not laughing AT her, I'm laughing WITH her. I too have spent my share of time in the public eye doing some sort of performance or another, truly believing deep in my heart that the best possible attire included silver fringe dangling from my knees and elbows. (There are days when I still believe this, just ask my sister).

Now my spangled appearances never included musical instruments; I'm not that talented. But hand me a baton lit on fire, or the story of an angst-filled girl trapped on a tropical island dancing for her life (angst-filled girls trapped in dungeons don't get to wear sequins and sparkles, so there's no way I'd ever take that part...) and you'd have quite a show. The first time my father saw one of these extravaganzas, he was trying so hard not to laugh afterwards that all he could say was, "I've never seen anything like it!"

Now that I think about it, maybe the reason God sent me to law school when he did (within six months, I'd lost my sparkle, and every item in my wardrobe was some shade of black, navy, or grey) wasn't because I was destined to be a lawyer. Maybe it was part of a larger "Spangle Protection Program," where those of us with a flare for shiny costumes were hidden away before our early moments could be captured forever to be posted on YouTube?

But I'm telling you, if I can figure out a way to incorporate baton twirling into my book tour, I am SO making some sparkly elbow-ties to complete the look!

Monday, October 22, 2007

For the Love of Gourd

This weekend, aside from a spot of rain on Saturday, was the perfect example of fall in New England. The sun shone through leaves of gold and auburn; a slight breeze blew along making it just cold enough for a light sweater; the Head of the Charles regatta enticed thousands of otherwise smart students to risk getting dumped in our murky river...and I got in touch with how much I love the humble gourd.

A gourd, for those of you who live in places where they don't appear outside the grocery store every October, is a hollow, dried shell of a fruit in the Cucurbitaceae family of plants of the genus Lagenaria. (Those Latin terms mean, essentially, "Not so good for eating.")

(The Gourds are also a country music group, but I'm not nearly so inclined to see those guys in a decorative pile on my dining room table.)

As I was food shopping yesterday. I passed row upon row of pumpkins, harvest corn trios, and dried stalks to tie on the front porch. I felt a stirring deep inside me, and realized, "I would like a gourd. Or perhaps three or five or twelve to place around the house as a tribute to the glory of fall." I tend to get a little grandiose in my decorating dreams around this time of year, and typically the ridiculousness of my thoughts--i.e. "A tribute to the glory of fall"--is inversely proportionate to the disappointment I'll feel when I realize a small pile of squash-like objects isn't much of a tribute. But hey, it's part of my creative process...

What I love about gourds is that they're bizarre--they look like something you'd find in the dumpster behind Harvard's science lab. People grow them, knowing full well that they have no purpose. The glory of the gourd is that it places almost no expectation on me as a consumer. I can buy one or ten or twenty, and everyone understands that all I'll be doing with them is decorating--I'll place them on shelves, in bowls, artfully tumbling down some stairs, perhaps. Eventually, I'll throw them away. There's no annoying recipe book at the checkout counter pressuring me to MAKE something of my gourds, like a pie or muffins or a tureen for soup. I don't need to crave it into some creepy face that will scare small children. The gourd is complete as is, with no reassembly required. I like that.

The sad thing is, there were no gourds to be had yesterday. All the good gourds ("good" being defined as bright orange or green or yellow, with a nice assortment of weird bumps and bulges) were gone. There were just a few scrubby ones in a anemic shade of yellow-ish, truly pitiful little fruits that failed to live up to the minimal gourd standard of looking interesting enough to take home.

Wandering forlornly back to my car after grabbing coffee and milk and cereal, I found myself singing the Counting Crow's version of that Joni Mitchell song:

Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.
(Ooo, sha la la la...)

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm sure they had NO idea

The Red Sox kept the dream alive last night!!!

It says something about the precarious nature of life as a Red Sox fan that even though they were up 7-1 in the middle of the 9th inning as the clock moved past midnight, I didn't dare go to bed lest I wake up in the morning only to learn that the boys had staged yet ANOTHER spectacular meltdown and lost 219-7. Thank God (and yes, I'm one of those people who prays about baseball), this didn't happen.

The funniest revelation of the night (for me anyway) was the singing of the National Anthem. Not usually a giggly moment, but it turns out that the Cardinals brought the ex-girlfriend of the Red Sox pitcher to belt out the Star Spangled Banner. They said they had "no idea" of the former connection between the two. Mmm hmm...right. Sure.

I've gotta hand it to them, though--this is the funniest bit of gamesmanship I've heard about in a long time. I SO hope that the Red Sox are planning something for tomorrow night's return to Fenway Park.

And if you're wondering WHY it's still worth it to be a Red Sox fan even though every season is like seven months of skiing Olympic moguls, check out this video. This is how our superstar team celebrated winning the division, lead by first baseman Kevin Youkilis and closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (who might be interested in an off-season appearance on "So You Think You Can Dance")

How can you not love a team that's this weird???

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let your voice be heard...or read, as the case may be

Not much going on here, which makes it kind of tough to blog. I missed blog action day, which is probably okay because I'm not sure I have much to say on issues like "sustainability." I'm still trying to live by the old motto, Recycle/Reuse/Renew, which is why I was so upset when the bag boy at Stop & Shop gave me such an evil look yesterday when he heard my response to "Paper or plastic?" He even said, "Are you sure you wouldn't prefer paper?" as if there were no possible way a thoughtful, sane person could still request plastic bags in this time of dire environmental catastrophe.

"I have a dog," I said, squaring off with him, unwilling to be told by a complete stranger that I'm not doing my part to save the planet. I AM doing my part, considering that as I continue to feed THAT DOG, she will continue to produce what one might artfully call a "stream of revenue" that requires picking up and throwing away for me to stay within the ordinances of our fine city. Said ordinances specifically request that plastic bags be used for the job. So take that S&S bag boy.

Now you know why they don't ask me to speak on Earth Day :)

Anyway, in the midst of all this not-much-happening (clearly demonstrated by the fact that I'm blogging about my right to procure plastic with which to scoop poop), I'm wondering what to blog about. What do you want to read when you click on Trish's Dishes? Stories about the writing/publishing world? Antics of THAT DOG? Random musings about faith? Let your voice be heard, so I can stop scanning the Comcast news page for stories like this...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Big Question for a Monday

So I'm sitting in church yesterday and I felt like God asked, "So Trish...what would life be like for you if you were sure that all this stuff you're praying for--things you hope will happen, people you love who need help, world events that seem insurmountable--was taken care of? If you knew for sure that I ANSWER your prayers?"

I was a little stunned, and not sure how to respond. I've often thought of how much more fun my early adulthood would have been if I'd just TRUSTED that God was bringing me a husband (the lack of which was the biggest hope/need/world catastrophe I could think of at that time). But what about now?

So that's my challenge this pray the prayers for the things that seem like they need God's help (which for me is pretty much everything from getting a decent parking place--this is Boston, after all--to miraculous healing for my friend's daughter) and then live as if I know God will do it.

Yesterday, this new attitude involved taking a two hour nap on the couch while watching the Redskins/Packers game. God says to rest on Sundays and let him do the heavy lifting; the least I can do is comply :)

How about you? What would life be like if you KNEW God heard and was answering your prayers, even the secret ones deep down inside that you don't even dare to mumble because they're so preposterous? How would that change how you live right now?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Boston in January--what could be better?

I just got an email from the rockin Lynette, announcing that she'll be coming back to Boston the third week in January...just in time for my birthday! (Now, she didn't mention my birthday in her email--she said something about coming for business--but I know that's just a cover up for the only REAL reason anyone would brave the New England cold in a season where almost anywhere else on the planet is more hospitable, right?)

It's turning into a bit of a party (as tends to happen when Lynette is in charge of programming) even though I only jest when I say that my survival of another year is the reason for the gathering. Kristen will be here, along with the awesome Alicia (who needs to start a blog). And Jane will be traveling from lands far away to join us. As I was reading Lynette's message, I had a vision of her as the Pied Piper of Blogging, with everyone from our blog rolls following her to Boston so we can all meet in person, drink chocolate martinis and eat tiramisu (maybe I could even learn to spell it). The picture made me smile :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sporting News

Steve and I drove 100+ miles this past weekend to watch Glamour Girl and Yes We Do Eat Fig Newtons For Breakfast Boy (AKA our four year old niece and seven year old nephew) play soccer on their town's local league. Honestly, you haven't lived until you've watched dozens of small children with no sense of team sports set loose on a giant field to chase a ball.

Glamour Girl's team is called The Duckies. Picture thirty five (or three hundred and fifty; at times it was hard to tell) tiny people in light blue shirts and little shin guards, and one determined man with a whistle trying to organize them. The impossibility of getting one's ducks in a row has never been clearer to me. The high point was when he taught them the "superhero" move where you lay with your chest on the ball, arms outstretched, pretending you can fly (watch for it in the next World Cup). After that, he blew the whistle and announced "Water break!" at which point his small charges ran full-throttle off the field and into the crowd, searching for parents and then gulping down water to quench the thirst they'd worked up in their five minutes of superhero soccer skills.

But my favorite moment was when, about twenty minutes later, the coach blew the whistle again and called the Duckies back to the pond. They were gathered in close around him to hear the secrets to the next big soccer trick, when an excited little girl yelled, "Coach--look!"
"What is it Ashley?" he asked.
"That cloud," she said, turning and pointing,"it looks just like a UNICORN!"

The Boy's game was next. There were no unicorn sightings, but that doesn't mean we didn't have fun. His team scored six or seven goals, only half of which were for the other team :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Do you? If so, HOW?

The very creative Jane posted this quote in the comments section yesterday: "One of the most common causes for not getting to an important activity is that you haven't set aside a specific time in which to do it."

I laughed when I read this, because I'd logged on to ask you guys a question about a common activity that I pretty much NEVER set aside a specific time to do anymore, which is keeping a journal.

When I was in law school, lonely and miserable and wondering "Oh, what have I done?" I kept a journal. Journals, actually, because my misery couldn't be condensed into one or two daily paragraphs. When I look over those lined books now (each one covered with some deceptively cheery looking fabric) I see that in hindsight, the theme for those years can be summed up thusly:

It has to get better. It simply has to.

I'm happy to report that it has. But life is still interesting. There have been incredible highs, along with wild free-falls that I haven't scrawled out on to journals or notebooks to look back upon in a decade or so. (I'm not sure my collection of half-thoughts jotted down on post-its counts.)

But yesterday, my friend Nashville Girl sent me a book by an author she adores. I ripped open the package right there on my porch and started reading. The first lines had the author looking back over her journals. She saw patterns there, patterns that gave her hope and inspiration about how far she's come and where it seems like God is taking her. "I want that!" I thought. I mean, who wouldn't? But to get there, I think it will take a tad more structure than just me thinking, "Hmmm...that might be a fun idea...."

So here are my questions: Do you guys journal? How often? Do you write about everything that happens, or just the big stuff? Do you worry that your journals will be found one day? And (most importantly) what do you do when your hand cramps up and you still have more you need to say???

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Finding What Works

Allison Winn Scotch had an interesting post yesterday, about the things she needs to write productively (coffee, order, and--if I remember correctly--an absence of footwear). It got me thinking about the different types of writing I do all day that I don't "count" as writing, where I don't need things to be lined up in a certain way to churn them out: emails, lists, notes to Steve about where I've jogged off too in case I get too winded to jog myself home.

I think blogging falls into this category. Right now as I type, I have no coffee (although I'd love another cup), nothing is organized, and THAT DOG is giving me the look that says, "Don't get too involved in whatever you're doing there, cause it's time for my walk...." I've been more faithful to blogging than my other writing over the past few months. It's easier, and the gratification of comments left by people like you guys--who I feel like I know through your own daily posts--comes in hours, rather than months or years. It's just a little bit seductive for a writer looking for a quick hit of approval.

All this has me wondering this morning if we (okay I--I'm sure none of you have this issue) don't need some sort of delay in the gratification to get to the real writing? You know, where we wrestle with sentences until they are as right as we can get them, or rush home from work because we've finally figured out how to fix a problem in a scene that's never been quite right.

I guess I'm fishing around for input here from those of you who are better at this balancing do you balance blogging and your OTHER writing? How do you resist the urge to post every cute or funny thing that happens to you on your blog for a quick laugh, and hold on to a few of them to mull over and craft into something a little more lasting (or at least available in 3D form by people like my Mom who don't have computers)?

(Speaking of instant gratification, this is the first post where my spellchecker responded "No Misspellings Found." Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever seen that line in relation something I've written...)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A new career path...

I've spent the past half hour wondering if I can fit a completely unrelated chapter into my next book about how my dog makes me laugh. Why? Because then it would be my job to keep up with blogs like this.

(Here you see Miss Kylie--aka THAT DOG--up in Maine on vacation this summer. I'm not sure if it's the cocker spaniel or the afghan genes that make her such a vigilant watchdog ...)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Better Living Through Chemistry, and a question

My weekend was made possible by the fine people at Robitussin, Benedryl, and Mucinex. Special thanks also to Kleenex for all 320 tissues in the box I just polished off, and to Brita for filtering the 19 gallons of water I've chugged down today. Sniff. Gulp. Sigh.

Aside from the cold, life is pretty good here in Trishville. I notice how good it is because of how un-good it used to be. I woke up this morning thinking of a conversation I had not too long ago that still cracks me up and brings me back to earth (with a thud) anytime I'm tempted to get too full of myself:

I was thirty-three, divorced, virtually unemployed, and living in a tenement-quality apartment with big holes in the walls. I'd just joined a group of people who were exploring questions about faith, where I made some cool friends and felt like my life might be on an upswing ("upswing" being defined as "I have someone to go to the movies with on Saturday afternoon") Kind of pitiful, but there you have it.

One day, one of the girls in the group who had graduated from college about a year earlier came up to me and asked, with great earnest, if she could talk to me. "I need some advice," she said, "I really think you're the person I need to talk to!'

"Sure," I said, puffing up a bit. It had been a rather long time since anyone had thought I might have anything useful to offer about making life decisions. "How can I help?" I asked.

"Tell me," she said eagerly, "What should I do so I don't end up like you?"

"Like me?" I asked, certain she couldn't mean that the way it sounded.

"Yeah," she clarified. "You know--divorced, alone, no real career or plan in life. Meeting you made me realize how wrong things can go if I'm not careful!" In her eyes, I was like one of those car wrecks they put out on the front lawn of the High School before prom night to warn what can happen if you drive drunk. (I've always wanted to be an inspiration to future generations; I guess I should consider this a starting point of sorts.)

The most frustrating part of this memory, though, is that I can't remember how I responded. This is quite possibly the funniest interaction I've ever had with another person, and I can't remember how the story ends?!?

(I DO know that she moved 3,462 miles away about two months later, which I cling to as proof that God hears and answers our prayers)

What would you have said???

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hangin' with the stars down in SoHo

I'm home! The trip was amazing, and I'm still processing everything I learned to try and make it into a coherent post. I picked up a head cold somewhere along the way which is has me pretty foggy, but I hope to have something up by the weekend.

To tide you over, though, two fun things: Over dinner Tuesday night (at a restaurant devoted to CHEESE...more on that happiness later) I learned how Julia Child separated egg yolks (with her hands...eww), and heard an impassioned plea for a mandatory national recycling policy that involves goats eating our garbage. I'm still not sure how this will work in the city, but I guess if they can make counter tops out of old beer bottles, it's not too much of a stretch to envision a mountain goat living on our back stairs, munching on my discarded boxes from

And (to explain the title of this post before I dive back into the NyQuill): I went to SoHo for the first time, because the lovely Alison Pace told me that McNally Robinson Books is a great place to do a book signing. (And, well, because "I went down to SoHo this morning" is just plain fun to say). As I was wandering through the stacks, I heard a deep, familiar voice. It was not (as those of you who have peeked at my manuscript might suspect) the voice of God, but rather the voice of John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In The Eye, brother of Augusten Burroughs, and one of the most generous blogging-about-the-publishing-business authors ever.

I'm a dork, so I introduced myself. Not only were he and his wife extremely gracious, but when I mentioned that I was in town to meet with my publisher and (among other folks) their lawyer (memoirs are vetted pretty carefully to avoid litigation), John spent the next twenty minutes or so offering thoughts and advice on being a first-time author and how to avoid legal issues. Amazing.

I had no real camera, just the phone. But here's a picture:

And...John will be in Boston tonight! If you're in the neighborhood, come on out to Brookline Booksmith at 7pm. His NYC reading received the first standing ovation of the year at that store, so it should be pretty good :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Live, From New York City...

I'm here! It's fun and fabulous and loud and exciting. The bad news is (for those of you who like your photos unfuzzy) is that I forgot to bring my camera. But I have my camera-phone, which enabled me to take the picture you see here, of my first moment of unexpected delight on this trip to the Big Apple.

Let me explain... You see, I'm not a light packer. Not at all. As I was bringing (okay, attempting to bring) my suitcase down the three flights of stairs to the car yesterday, I could barely lift it. There's a chance--slim, but possible--that I'd packed a few things I wouldn't need in my three days here. So, against my better judgment, I opened my giant green closet-on-wheels, and took out a sweater, a pair of jeans, a giant bottle of shampoo, and my flip flops. Then I heaved the suitcase down the stairs and into the trunk and was on my merry way.

I really missed the flip flops. From the first moment I arrived in my (lovely) room, I longed to slip my toes out of real shoes and into something cozy. THEN, a miracle happened. The lady came with turn-down service and handed me two chocolates...and a pair of flip flops! I was so excited, I had to take a picture :)

Now, early this morning, I actually broke my flip flop, which would have been sad if I hadn't been singing Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" all morning:

I blew out my flip flop...stepped on a pop top...

A friend and I had an ongoing battle about this lyric my senior year of college--I swore Jimmy said, "stepped on a Pop-Tart." I was wrong. Josh, if you're out there and reading this, I stand corrected :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gonna let it shine

We went to a wedding on Saturday--a friend Steve grew up with and the girl he's been with for over six years. The whole thing was beautiful, but the most memorable, fun part was the priest who said the wedding mass. Now I was raised in the Catholic church, and I'm not sure I've ever used the words "mass" and "fun" in the same sentence. But there's no other way to describe the service this guy led.

Father Joe prayed for the bride & groom, and for all the people who in the world who are still waiting to find their soul mate. He suggested that we smile more as an act of community service. And then, in the most unusual part of all, he led us in several impromptu verses of "This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine!" It was fabulous. Nice job, Father Joe.

I'm headed off to NYC this morning, and that's the song that will be in my head as I board the train :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Color of Love...The Color of My Hair

I went to the hairdresser yesterday. Nothing too dramatic--the usual highlights, a chance to catch up with one of my favorite people (if you live in Greater Boston and need hair help, Andrea is the best hairdresser/cool friend combo I've ever found--love her!) I'd been baking in tinfoil under the lights for about thirty minutes when Andrea came over to check on me. We were chatting about whether the fact that neither one of us owns a scale is a sign of self-esteem or deep denial when all of a sudden she paused and said, "Wow--that's pink..."

I didn't believe her. "Hahaha. That's funny," I replied.

"No, I'm not kidding," she said, looking perplexed. "Check this out." She unwrapped the foils from a few strands of hair, and sure enough, some of them were decidedly pink. (I discovered this morning that pink has it's own Wikipedia page, so if you want to know what shade of pink my hair was, click here. My highlights were somewhere between "Web Color Pink" and "Nadeshiko Pink," making this the closest I've ever come to being culturally diverse).

Andrea remained surprisingly calm through all of this. I, on the other hand, was consumed with a fit of the giggles. It just seemed too funny that on the eve of what might be the biggest trip of my professional life (have I mentioned that I'm going to NYC on Monday to meet all the awesome people involved with publishing/promoting/marketing my book?) I have Web Color Pink/Nadeshiko Pink highlights. I started mentally rearranging my wardrobe choices to account for this new addition to my fall color scheme.

Andrea attacked the pink with some combination from the other side of the color wheel (I tried not to worry as she mentioned blue and green--two other shades I couldn't see working for me on a long-term basis) while I prayed silently for a chemical miracle. I earned D's in two of my four semesters of high school chemistry, so I wasn't at all certain I had any prayer leverage in the Science Wing of heaven, but I thought they might recognize me in the Bad Hair Day Division, so I lobbed my prayers upwards, hoping they'd land in the right place.

We washed my hair. We dried it. It looked fine to me. "Um, no," Andrea said, easing me back into the chair as I started to stand up. "It's still pink."

I called Steve to tell him I'd be home a little later than expected.

One hour, two chemical processes, and a whole bunch of fervent, giggly prayer later, my hair was restored to it's usual shade of girl-next-door brown with blond highlights. And if you see me on the streets of NY next probably won't even notice, because I'll look like everybody else :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wild Hope

In my frenzy of lip gloss happiness, I forgot to mention the OTHER exciting thing that happened last weekend...I saw Mandy Moore in concert :)

Her new album, Wild Hope, is just incredible--totally different than anything she's done before; much more Indigo Girls meets Joni Mitchell than Britney meets Christina. Love it, love it, love it.

When I bought the tickets a month ago, my dear husband--in a gesture of overwhelming chivalry--said that of course, he'd love to accompany me to this celebration of girly-ness. Mandy Moore + Paula doesn't get much more angsty and anti-boy than that, but he wanted to make me happy. Good guy, that Steve.

But as the date approached, I realized with horror that the concert directly coincided with the Biggest Sports Night In New England This Year. No exaggeration. It wasn't just that the Red Sox were playing the Yankees, but Curt Schilling was pitching against Roger Clements. It wasn't just that the Patriots were playing the Chargers, but that the Patriots coach was just fined a cool half-mil for cheating, and this was the team's first chance to prove that those Superbowl victories were not tainted. Big stuff, here in Beantown. And my husband--the consummate sports fan--was going to be at the Mandy Moore concert through the whole thing.


Now I'll give it to hubby--he manned up and said, "Don't worry, Honey. The concert will be fun. Not a problem..." But when I told him my friend Kristina could come with me, he actually gasped in happiness. "Really?" He asked, eyes wide with hope, not sure he could believe this turn of fortune. "You'd be okay with that???"

Kristina and I entered the super small (I think "intimate" is the word they use for venues with no seating?) club where Mandy's show was moved after Paula Cole bailed at 7pm; Mandy took the stage at 10:00. All I can say is THANK GOD Steve wasn't stuck there in the middle of this small sea of Mandy Moore fans for three hours--I'd have been walking the dog every night for the rest of my life, trying to repay him :) Instead, Kristina and I had hours of fun girl talk, and I have no doubt that the world is now a slightly better place.

And after all that waiting, the concert was great. I think Miss Mandy may have been a little buzzed up there on stage (she kept gulping from a giant travel mug) but I think I'd have needed to be a lot buzzed if I was singing in a place so small that the audience was right up to the lip of the stage, almost underneath me. She can really belt, and her band was great, too. Good stuff.

The Red Sox lost. The Patriots won decisively. Hubby walked the dog :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Holy Customer Service, Batman!

Remember how, a few Fridays back, I was singing the praises of Tim Gunn's new show and lamenting the loss of my favorite Trish McEvoy lip gloss (the one that fell in that nasty puddle years ago, never to be replaced)?

GUESS WHO sent me an email a few days later??? Trish McEvoy! The other Trish (or T-McE as I'll be calling her now) sent ME an email, offering to send me my favorite lip gloss if I could remember the color! I was, to put it mildly, flabbergasted (as you can see by my extravagant use of italics in this post).

And then (as if I wasn't wowed enough) the Fed Ex guy showed up on Saturday morning with a priority package for me. (This touch seemed even more remarkable in light of the fact that I ordered books from two weeks ago, and they haven't even put them on a truck headed in my direction...not that I'm frustrated by this or anything...)

But wait. It gets better: When I opened this wonderful package, I found not just the compact and gloss I'd lost in the puddle, but also the matching lip liner with the little brush on the end that you use to apply the gloss! Yippee! You don't have to know me long to know that a core part of my definition of happiness includes having the right lip gloss. Not many people mention this, but in my experience, it's essential for any sort of life success.

Not wanting to be outdone, I have a secret plan to thank T-McE and her awesome staff. You see...I recently saw the specs for my book cover (hee!) and while I can't give too much away until everything is finalized, the cover does feature a pair of glossy lips that (must) match one of the T-McE colors perfectly. I'm sure there's a fun tie-in to be made somewhere, and I'm gonna tie it in.

Wouldn't you buy a new book if there was a lip gloss included in the deal somehow? I can envision my book signings now...I'll read for three minutes, and then we'll all play with makeup! By the time I'm done, there will be an army of us nationwide, all decked out in Trish McEvoy lip gloss, ready for our close-up :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ethical question

If you accidentally grab the wrong scent of fabric softener in Target, use it on one (smallish) load of laundry, and discover that the scent so overwhelms your entire house in musky waves of unrelenting awfulness that you're compelled to poke around under the porch in some pitiful hope of disturbing the neighborhood skunk for a better scent to clear the air....

Do you think it's okay to return the rest of the bottle to Target?

(Late breaking addition: I should have been clearer...I would definitely tell Target I'd used the fabric softener; I was trying to gauge the odds of them letting me exchange the scent as a gesture of goodwill and customer service. And the skunk showed up last night around 9pm and sprayed down the whole neighborhood. So today's plan is to be careful what I joke about...)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A philosophy of stuff

One of the malls near where I live opened up a whole new wing of stores last week. Naturally, I had to check it out (because, well...I might write something about it it's part of my job! You know, research. Right...) This new wing includes a Mac store, which made me happy, along with a whole host of super-upscale stores not formerly found outside the city: There's a Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Ferragamo, Kate Spade, and a bunch of others. (Now, by way of full disclosure, I was at the mall to exchange a blouse at Ann Taylor, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate having a higher level of window shopping to peruse than the usual Aldo and Claire's Boutique options). The new parking garage was open, well-lit, and filled with soothing music. There was a guy playing piano. You get the picture. All elegant, all lovely.

The only problem was the people. Without exception, every single person I passed in that section of the mall looked miserable. (I haven't seen that many pinched faces gathered in one place was since I was a lawyer.) It was bizarre. I saw three generations of this unhappiness in Nordstroms, as two parents and a grandmother hovered anxiously around a bored teenage girl trying to decide between two gorgeous designer handbags. What's up with her? I wondered. Why isn't she squealing with glee? I met three women on the elevator, probably in their mid 40s, talking about the outfits they'd just purchased. Again, none of them seemed excited or happy. It was like one more day at the office.

That's when it dawned on me: shopping is really only fun if what you buy fills a real gap in your life. If your sneakers are worn out or covered in paint, you'll enjoy having a new pair. If you don't have a suitable outfit for a party your friend is throwing, it's fun to find just the right thing (and some cute earrings to match). Your new stuff may cost $20 at Target, or $2,000 at Gucci, but if you get the chance to use it, that's what brings the squealing-with-glee part to complete the shopping experience.

I guess I'm just making the connection that owning things isn't fun. Using the things we own is what makes them fun. Maybe this is why I've always balked at mugs and bumper stickers encouraging me that I should be grateful just to be alive. Not that I undervalue life, but living, in and of itself, can be rather a mixed bag. It's using the life we have that makes it fun. Otherwise, it's just one more afternoon on the couch.

(I should probably have mentioned at the beginning of this post that I've been thinking about this whole rich misery thing ever since I saw The Nanny Diaries a few weeks back. Steve and I talked all the way home about what AWFUL PEOPLE those Upper East Side mothers were, and then realized, "Wait a minute...if those characters hadn't been wealthy, we'd have said that they were hurting people, struggling to figure out their lives. But because they have money they don't get compassion?" Jesus said that it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get to heaven. Those seem like pretty long odds. Nothing in the Bible indicates that wealth is bad, but there does seem to be a way in which it can distort our attitude, and if we're not really careful it will suck the enjoyment out of both buying the stuff we need and using it. It has me thinking that perhaps I should be praying for the family I saw in Nordstroms, rather than judging them???)

And if this is all to serious for you on this lovely sunny day, let me just add that THAT DOG pooped squarely on her leash this morning. It won't come clean. So I anticipate that the new leash I buy at Target will bring me great squeals of glee...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Able to leap small dogs in a single bound...

Behold, my "back-to-school" sneakers! Can you see the gold glitter ribbon on the sides???

I wore them yesterday for the first time. I had to make coffee for 1,000+ people, so I knew I'd need special skills (running fast, jumping high). My new sparkly sneaks did not disappoint. And they emerged unscathed from the big, wet pile of coffee grounds I accidentally dumped on them. (For those of you who are new to the blog, here's a quick primer in the economics of my fashion world: Fun new sneakers? $40. Stain-resistance? Priceless.)

Brown. It's the new black. And white and pink and cerulean blue....

Are you treating yourself to new sneakers for fall? Keep in mind what you spill most when selecting colors. (Should I send this suggestion into Tim Gunn for his show, or do you think he already knows this?)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bravo for Tim!

I know Swishy beat me to it, but I have to chime in and share my utter adoration for Tim Gunn's new style show on Bravo. I made me cry. He is like an updated (male) version of Cinderella's fairy godmother.

I'm not certain about all of the advice, though. I mean, I believe everything Tim says...when he stared into the camera and declared, "Every woman should be properly fitted for undergarments!" I knew he meant: "That means you, Trish Ryan!" But then the lady in the lingerie store said that the bottom of your bra should start at the crook of your elbow??? I don't know if my arms are unnaturally long, or the rest of me unnaturally short, but the crook of my elbow is only a tiny bit higher than my belly button...that's means I'd need a corset, rather than a bra...

(I should also say that the whole segment where they made her clean out her underwear drawer took on a special significance, given that when I went out this morning to walk THAT DOG, we saw that one of our neighbors had cleaned out her drawer overnight...and thrown her discard pile out into the middle of our street. Not sure what that's about, although I'm sure Tim would be pleased to see that there was both a thong and what appear to be full-coverage briefs lying there on the pavement. Variety is important)


I'm not at all sure about the "Life Stylist" dude. Is that a real job? And even if it is, I'm not sure I'd trust this guy... He looks like somebody's unemployed little brother.

The jury is still out on Veronica Webb. She must have been mean to some of the behind the scenes people--the person in charge of wardrobe, the hair stylist--because they made her look really severe and frightening.

And Trish McEvoy is just gorgeous. My favorite lip gloss ever--the perfect shade of slight-sparkle plum--was from her line. I loved it like a best friend until it flipped out of my purse one day and landed and in an oil-slicked puddle in Montreal. I still haven't found it's equal. Trish, if you're reading this, can you help me???

My favorite take away point from this first episode? When shopping, start with the shoes. This is great advice! How many times have I searched for shoes AFTER the outfit, only to end up with a great dress that isn't nearly as cute as I'd hoped because the shoes aren't quite right, or pants that would be the right length,if only my heels were 1/2 inch higher or lower? Wise words ladies. Shoes first!

Now I'm off to my closet to see if I have "ten items which make up the core of my wardrobe." I'll pretend Tim is there with me, giving me strength to throw away the shoulder-pad infused paisley blazer that seemed like such a great idea ten years ago. But I'm not going to show him my favorite faded jeans and Red Sox might not be the done thing in NYC, but here in Greater Boston, there's not really anyplace I can't wear that :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The hills might be alive, but the graveyard shouldn't be

I live right on the border between two towns, neither of which is particularly hospitable to a newbie runner. (Especially a runner whose primary motivation isn't improved fitness, but rather an article I read in Glamour magazine about the creeping scourge of muffin top.)

If I don't want to log time on a treadmill, though, the choices for scenic running here are a bit daunting. If I run in one direction (as I did for the first time on Tuesday), I have lots of time to contemplate the fact that "Belmont" means "beautiful hill." Now if you'd asked me to describe the topography of Belmont on, say, Monday, I would have said that it's rather flat. Oh, how very deceptive. I can now say with some hard-earned authority that the entire town is one long, slow, upgrade. It's could be a place in a Harry Potter story: "the Land of All-Uphill." The chances of me completing the Swishy 5K Challenge in this town are slim-to-none.

If I run in the other direction, though, my most likely destination is a cemetery. America's first garden cemetery, as the web-site will tell you..."An active burial place and a vibrant cultural institution." (It was even listed as a "neighborhood feature" when we bought our condo.) People meet to walk and run there all the time. Am I the only one who finds this slightly horrifying? I mean, Steve has family members who, well...own property in there, so I guess I have as much right as anyone to make use of the grounds. I could look at it like being a guest at his great uncle's tennis club, right?

Well, no. I can't run in a graveyard. I don't care how vibrant said graveyard might be. (I'm pretty sure a graveyard shouldn't be vibrant, but that's another post...) I'm no stickler for etiquette, but I'm pretty sure Emily Post would say, "It's just not the done thing."

So I guess I'll head for the hills. If you're nearby, I'll be the one gasping for air and clutching my iPod, muttering, "cute in jeans, cute in jeans" over and over again.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Highs and skateboarding, kinda...

Thanks all, for your wonderful reassurances about my niceness. You guys rock :)

It was a bit of the agony and the ecstasy for me this Labor Day weekend, as we head into what is my favorite, favorite, undeniably most favoritest time of year. I love September--the idea of a fresh new start, dreaming of what might be possible once I get down to working hard after a summer of relaxation, shopping for cute back-to-school clothes (who says you can't look good while applying your nose to the grindstone?) New England is, in my humble opinion, the best place in the world to be, come September. And yet the weekend, for all it's greatness, left me with one big question as I head into the fall.

First, the ecstasy: I ran 2.5 miles on real ground (not a treadmill) without hurling into the bushes. The nice checkout lady at Ann Taylor used a 15% off coupon on my purchases that I didn't know existed. The US Open is on. (Tennis is the game I would have played, had I not made that wise decision to pursue baton twirling as my primary sport back in the forth grade. ) Next year on this awesome weekend, Steve and I are hoping/praying that we will be at the US Open, buzzing around to check out the action live on a grounds pass.

But then there is the agony: THAT DOG has allergies (???) and has been hopped up on Benedryl (per her vet's instructions) all weekend. I got food poisoning at a famous chef's restaurant downtown. And worst of all, I've been utterly busted by a book called TO BUSY NOT TO PRAY. It sounds like a nice book, doesn't it? I was reading along happily until the author asked: "Do you believe that God answers prayer?" Yes, I thought. Of course I do. That's where he got me: "Do you regularly and diligently, every single day, bring God your worries and hopes and dreams--all the places you need help--trusting that He will intervene in you situation?" Um. Hmmm. No.

Yikes. What a realization. I mean, I'm in the middle of publicity strategy for a book about, among other things, how God came through and answered my audacious prayers for a husband. My face is up on posters all over Boston--on taxi-cabs and in subway stations--in an ad for my church's fall kickoff, with a link to a video about how praying changed my life from totally disappointing to (in the words of our church motto) Impossibly Great. For this week at least, I am literally the poster child for how God answers prayer, and I'm not asking Him for the things I need!?! ARGH. Unbelievable.

Well, at least I know what goes on the top of my "To-do" list for tomorrow :)

How about you? Do you believe God answers prayer? If yes, are you asking God for everything you want and need, trusting that he will intervene in your situation?

(Sorry for the deep know I get philosophical when I have a few days off!)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Patti says I'm nice!

This has me laughing so hard that my morning coffee practically came out of my nose. The very awesome Patti-O awarded me the "Nice Matters" Award (there's an icon, but I can't figure out how to post it, what with the lost coffee and all), celebrating the way I and several others spread niceness through the blogsphere.

I'd be flattered and touched by this declaration of my niceness, if it hadn't come right on the heels of a longish series of discussions with my agent, editor, and publicist about whether or not I should leave the F-word sprinkled through my manuscript. In the end, we decided that those F-bombs weren't worth going to the mat for, and substituted something more, well...nice.

I never dreamed I'd win an award for our decision! Thank you Patti-O!

(Now I'll step back from the keyboard and await the long stream of comments protesting this award and demanding that Patti reconsider :) )

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Trans Fats: A hidden beauty secret?

Up until about a year ago, my grocery list read like this:

1. Cheez-Its - 1 box original, 1 white cheddar
2. Oscar Meyer baloney
3. American "cheese" individually wrapped slices
4. Velveeta Mac & Cheese
5. 2 loaves of bread (wheat, if I was on a health-kick)
6. Assorted pasta: spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine
7. Butter
8. Taster's Choice Instant Coffee (Don't judge. It's good!)

This diet served me well for my entire adulthood. I felt good, I looked fine, my jeans fit. My food life was simple, yummy, and overall quite satisfying.

But last year, after working a desk job for a bit longer than I'd anticipated, I had to admit that I'd put on a few pounds. And that's when it happened...All the warning words of dread and fear well-intentioned people have chanted at me over the years started swirling around in a threatening storm in my head: "You won't be able to eat like that forever, you know..." "Someday, you'll wish you'd made smarter choices..." "Eventually, all that salt and fat is going to catch up to you..." (And let's not forget the lady in the yoga pants who looked at my shopping cart at the grocery store and gasped, almost involuntarily, "But baloney has no life force!" )

Last year at about this time, I collapsed under the pressure, terrified that these folks--not to mention every magazine article I've read in the past decade-- might all be right. So I repented of my ways, and walked away from foods that spell cheese with a "z." I started choking down lots of chicken (the whole idea of eating bird just creeps me out, but if it's what you have to do to be healthy...). I snack on smallish handfuls of almonds. I "splurge" once a week with a small bowl of pasta & olive oil. I've been doing this for a year now. It's fine--I don't really mind it. But it's made absolutely no difference in how I look or feel.

So about a month ago, I faced the awkward truth that I must not be doing this right. All that chicken eating just isn't enough. I could hear Oprah whispering in my ear, "You need to work out more--a couple of times a week ain't gonna cut it!" So for the past month, I've been doing hard time at the gym. I run three miles (approximately two-and-a-half miles longer than I've ever run before) 3-4 times a week. I life weights. I do ab work.

And I've lost...are you ready??? One-and-one-half-pounds!!!!

Now, I like the exercise--running is great for a writer. But I'm seriously wondering if we've been sold down the river on this whole nutrition thing? What if it's all a lie? What if my body is dependent on the "z" in cheez to keep me up and going? What if I need trans fats? What if baloney is the anti-aging miracle we've all been searching for???

I think it's time to stand up to the Organic Farmers of America and say, "Bring on the baloney!"

Anybody with me?

(A note to the promotional folks at Cheez-It: if you'd like me to do a commercial, write an essay, or go on a nationwide tour to promote your product, you can reach me here).

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Kid On The Block

Hey everyone--Check this out: The Accidental Admin. Stephanie is a new friend of mine (she's at my old job, at my old desk, probably wondering why the file cabinet has four boxes of yellow highlighters, but no files...) She's had me laughing all day as we've swapped emails...I'm glad to see her taking her material to a wider audience! Stop by and welcome her to the blogsphere...


On the road again...I can't wait to get on the road again

I've caught the travel bug. Heidi is coming to Boston next week, Stacy makes Michigan sound like more fun than Disney World, and my hubby and I watched a ridiculous movie last night (don't let the funny trailer fool you--this movie is pretty dumb) redeemed only by the gorgeous scenery that made me long to see the Pacific again. Plus, it's almost Fall. And everybody knows that Fall is when big, new, fun adventures happen (which, of course, requires shopping for new outfits, because one shouldn't look shlumpy on a big, new, fun adventure...)

Last week, I got my Fall 2007 adventure assignment: This September, I get to travel to two of the most creative places on the eastern half of the country: Nashville and New York City!

I am beyond excited. I've never been to Nashville. All I know is that some of my favorite music was recorded there, and some of my favorite singer/songwriter types (you know--the ones I'm not allowed to quote in my book) live within the city limits. It will take every last bit of restraint I have not to grab a phone book and taxi-cab around to introduce myself to all my favorite artists. (I realize, however, that this would probably be a great way to get a tour of Nashville's local jail facilities, so I'll try to keep myself in check. ) Still though--how exciting for a writer to go to a city where so many amazing lyrics have been written? (Lorrie Morgan's classic country hit, "What Part of No Don't You Understand?" is the only song that has ever made me laugh so hard I had to pull over to the side of the road in my car so I didn't cause an accident...)

And then there's the Big Apple. Creative ideas just hang in the air there, like fruit waiting to be picked. New York brings it's own behavioral challenges will be awfully tempting to pack my collection of Red Sox t-shirts :)

I love to travel, especially in the Fall. And, oddly enough, my favorite trips are usually within the United States. I've had great opportunities to visit other countries, and yet there is something awe-inspiring about landing in a place that is still America, but feels a bit like a different planet. I'm not one of those people who longs to spend hours in a museum or admiring the local architecture to understand a city. I'd rather hang out on a beach or in a bar or at a little table outside the local coffee shop, and talk to the people who live in this new place. That's my idea of happiness.

What is something unique about where you live? The people? The places? What is the best thing you've seen in our great country?

What's your big adventure for Fall?