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!