Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Sibling Rivalry

Kate Middleton's younger sister's name is Pippa.  Not only is Pippa NOT marrying a prince like her sister, but her name is Pippa.  It's kind of sad.

Today, everyone the world over is focusing on Kate.  Kate's dress, Kate's prince, Kate's honeymoon. Kate's doddering old father-in-law, the future King of England.  Kate's grandmother-in-law, the carrier of the pocketbook.

But what about Pippa?

(Before I continue, let me say that I couldn't find a single picture of Pippa without that blood clot you see in the photo above affixed to her head).

According to Wikipedia ("The Source") Pippa is "known because of her sister." Nice.  According to another "source," it is rumored that Pippa is to fulfill the duties of a Lady in Waiting for her sister.  What does this entail?  Pippa will assist the new Princess on her travels and attend events with her, but rather than being a ‘formal’ Lady in Waiting and having to curtsy to The Queen, she will become Kate’s right hand woman.

I have to wonder what goes on at Casa Middleton, when the whole family is letting its collective hair down, far from the cameras.  Do the two sisters get into cat fights (as sisters tend to do), with Pippa spitting out "Mummy always liked you better!" to an astonished Kate, who replies, "But at least you don't have to pretend you enjoy supporting all those bloody charities!"  Will Pippa try to slip out of the house unnoticed, wearing Kate's tiara?  Who gets the front row tickets to the Bono concert?

Did I mention that her name is Pippa?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pressure....It's What's for Dinner!

For reasons that I choose not to reveal at this time (to confound my stalkers...and DYFS), I've been driving through the drive-thru lane at McDonalds quite often lately.  And each time I arrive at the first of three windows (1=order, 2=pay, 3=collect food), my heart starts to race.

It's not because I've seen Supersize Me, that wonderful documentary by Morgan Spurlock tracing the deleterious health consequences of eating a diet of McDonald's three times a day for an entire month.  It's because, apparently, when the server greets me with "WELCOMETOMCDONALDSWOULDYOULIKETOTRYOURDELICIOUSOATMEALNO?MAYITAKEYOURORDERPLEASE?" he means...well, may I take your order please right now.

Forget the fact that I've just put the car in park, and haven't even had the chance to unfurl my napkin or glance at the daily specials menu the menu board with the raw egg running down it.  Doesn't every gourmand  like to take her time to consider before ordering?  What do I feel like eating today?  How will that resonate with what I ate yesterday?  When I feel pressured to choose an appetizer, entree, dessert AND drink by a disembodied 17 year old voice and a line of cars stretching back to the Burger King down the road, I get very, very nervous.

I know it's fast food, but do they have to rush me?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Legend

There is a legend that has been passed down from generation to generation of women in Central New Jersey (08820), whispered under the cover of darkness by a loving mother to her shy daughter, shared along with a cup of tea and Twinkies in the warmth of a cozy kitchen, offered as a gift by BFF to BFF.  The legend tells us that should a woman, heavy with child, go to eat with the father of her unborn child at a certain popular, local Chinese restaurant (a restaurant that will hold the MSG if asked nicely) she will soon go into labor.

I know that this legend is true because, nearly 20 years ago, within a few hours of consuming a combination of moo goo gai pan and beef lo mein (light on the scallions), I too found myself in the bathroom in the middle of the night, staring at my mucus plug in the toilet.  And a mere 36 hours later, Thing 1 entered the world.

I've been thinking about birthing babies a lot lately, because some of the my MUCH YOUNGER friends and relatives are still having them (and let me take this opportunity to send a big shout out to my newest cousin -Michael!).

Since birthin' my own, I've noticed a continuing trend to go "crunchy," with "rooming in," "attachment parenting," "family beds" and "doulas" all the rage.

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I've never been a particularly "crunchy" mama. This is the first time I have ever admitted this ANYWHERE, but in the hospital, when the nurses asked me if I wanted them to bring Thing 1 to me for  his 2 a.m. feeding (the alternative being that they feed him in the nursery), my response was a firm "Hell no!"  (A similar response to that which I write on the forms I complete at my annual gynecological appointment, when asked if I have completed my family.  To which I write, in a very neat and sure hand, "DAMN STRAIGHT."  With "DAMN" underlined. Twice.)

At Lamaze, where I learned NOTHING that would be valuable at a time when I expected to be clutching my DH's ear and digging my fingernails into his larynx -- hard -- the teacher went around the room asking if we would consider drugs to alleviate pain. I suspected this was a trick question.  If I answered "no," she was going to hand me a picture of a beautiful Tahitian sunset ripped from an old calendar upon which to fixate if the contractions became too vexing.  If I answered "yes," all eyes in the room would swivel towards me in horror, branding me Mommy Dearest before I had even had a chance to prove them right (which I have many times over in the past 19 years).  Ultimately I equivocated - I said that I would try to do "it" without meds, but that I was glad that medical science had developed pain relief in the unlikely event that I needed it. All the while mapping out the quickest route to Barnes and Noble so I could go out and purchase Epidurals for Dummies and self-administer, should that become necessary.  It couldn't be too difficult to find my spinal cord when doubled over in pain, passing that Chevy truck destined to become my son, could it?

In the final analysis, I gratefully accepted an epidural when I was one centimeter dilated, from a doctor who had refused to administer this very wonderful medication in advance - i.e., when the pregnancy test came back positive - but who was otherwise sympathetic to my desire to avoid pain.

I just don't understand those who attempt childbirth without meds.  I liken it to the following:  Would you rather ski gracefully down one of Aspen's famous mountains, swooping and swirling your way to your final destination, where "apres-ski" awaits in the form of a roaring fire and a brandy?  Or would you rather tumble head over heels again and again, breaking every bone in your body and collecting small stones in every crevice of your body until you reach the bottom of the mountain?

In either case, you reach your destination.  So why not reach it in one piece?

On second thought, in the second scenario they might offer you morphine to dull the pain.  Or, if you're really lucky, an epidural.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What will Kate wear?

With all the hoopla over the Royal Wedding and everyone wondering what Kate will wear, how she will look, and what she will say, it occurs to me that she has neglected to turn to the ONE person who could give her great advice about the day she is to become Mrs. Prince William.


I was about the same age as Kate when I got married (we both snuck in just under the proverbial wire -- i.e., right before we turned 30, after which the chances of getting married are less than the chances of a commoner like me getting an invite to the Royal wedding).  And while I may not be a fashion icon, speak with a cultured accent or have blue blood- whatever that is - I've been married to the same man for 23+ years (longer by far than all the recent Royals).  So I just may be able to teach her a bloody thing or two about how to comport and dress herself on her "special" day.

Here's a picture of me on my wedding day:
When it comes to the start of a royally long life together, who can argue with success?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eenie meenie minie...dishwasher

Sears' large appliance department stocks about 50 different makes and models of dishwashers.  They all look the same to me... except for their price tags.  Same deal for the 30+ models of ovens and 15 or so over-the- counter microwaves.

We visited Sears a few weeks ago to scout out features and models.  What did I learn? I learned that microwaves heat food and make popcorn.  Dishwasher clean dishes and ovens boil water and, if I'm really good, will clean themselves.  And they all have a gazillion buttons just dying to attract the attention of a 10 year old who enjoys, well, who enjoys pushing buttons.

Yesterday, a cold rainy Saturday, we dropped Thing 2 off at his friend's house and hightailed it over to one of those direct buying clubs where several years ago we allowed ourselves to be suckered into paying an unconscionable sum for the privilege of purchasing our home furnishing needs at a discount.  (So far we've purchased a sink and a toilet there.  So much for gaining back our investment).  Armed with print-outs from Consumers Reports highlighting the "best-buy" makes and models and the brands with the cleanest complaint histories, we consulted the club's catalogues, only to learn that the club carried virtually none of the models we had selected as a result of our research.  

So we did what any intelligent, modern consumer accustomed to spending hours researching features, reading blog reviews and comparing prices and dimensions would do under the same circumstances.  We changed course.  As in "eenie meenie minie mo."

In the final analysis, between the three appliances and the vertical blinds we selected at JC Penney, we spent about $3,000 in three minutes.  Three minutes during which we looked for a coin in the return slot of the on-site soda machine, tossed it three times, and took turns calling it.  "Heads, it's GE!  Tails, it's Frigidaire!"

Because in a world where the only things between me and clean dishes are 53 models, 9,000+ pages of technical specs and a snake oil salesperson named Dick, that's how I roll.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Treasure from Trash

Thing 2 brought home an assignment to create "Treasure from Trash."  It was meant to teach recycling, respect for the earth, responsibility and independence.

While we usually have plenty of trash in the house, in a cruel twist of fate, said assignment came to "our" attention (so much for independence) the day after the town hauled away our recyclables, leaving us with nothing discarded from which to create a treasure.

So we had to buy something that we could discard, just to rescue it from the trash to complete the assignment.  (Somehow I don't think this is in the spirit of the assignment.  But I digress....)

Thing 2 decided to make a toothpaste and toothbrush holder out of old toothpaste containers. We didn't have any empty ones in the house (who collects those things?).  So I recycled myself over to the A&P and bought....

5 tubes of AIM toothpaste......

and emptied them into a Tupperware container

So that the fifth grade can save the Earth.  .

Now I'm looking for a project for the rectangular boxes the toothpaste came in. And a dental school with very minimal hygienic standards that accepts toothpaste donations.

And the winners are:

Taube - for a correct guess!
Deb Claxton - for most politically funny guess!

Identify yourselves so I can send you your prizes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's a Body of Work Mystery! Enter our Contest and Win a Valuable Prize!

Can you identify what this is?

Post your guesses RIGHT HERE on Body of Work.  I will award two prizes:

  1. The first reader to post a correct guess will!
  2. The reader with the funniest guess (as judged by me) will win...another one of it!

Winner to be announced tomorrow (Friday April 15) along with a really snarky good explanation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Garage Door Blues

There is no home-related purchase more boring than a garage door.  Except maybe two new garage doors.  They're duller than sump pumps and boilers, with which you at least have the opportunity to actually develop a relationship.

Bob Vila never waxed poetic over garage doors.  So handing over almost $2,000 bucks to the garage door guy was like a stake through my heart.  They're not exactly up there on a girl's wishlist.  I would much prefer to go shopping for, say, a plush new sofa,  kitchen cabinets with interior lights and a lazy Susan, granite countertops, a spa tub big enough for me and the pool boy a good book .......excuse me, I need to go have a cigarette.

Since I am notoriously unobservant (a couple of years ago I said to my DH of 20 years, "Your eyes are blue... right?"), I was thoroughly unprepared to tell the garage door man what "style" windows I wanted.  So I set out on a walk through the 'hood to check out my neighbors' garage doors.  I discovered that there are, in fact, only a few styles to choose from.   Here are your (and my) choices:

And here's what I chose:

Apparently, garage doors are a capital improvement, so I can add the cost to the value of the house (or subtract it, I forget which).  I only hope the sump pump and boiler don't get jealous.

Monday, April 11, 2011

We came, we walked, we didn't eat knishes

Running a marathon is the ultimate challenge.  It requires absolute dedication, hours upon hours of training, early morning slogs through every type of weather, caring for pulled and tired muscles and identifying just the right type of Lycra that prevents your jiggle from hitting the other runners around you. I have the utmost respect for marathoners, even though they are usually younger, prettier and more slender than I am.

Walking a marathon - as I and thousands of other women will be doing next October as we participate in the Avon Walk for (in my case "against") Breast Cancer - is pretty tough too, only slower and better, because it gives you time to windowshop and grab a Starbucks skinny latte in-between donuts.

The greatest challenge that my training partner (aka "Agent Trader Joe's" because my lawyer is still reviewing the waiver she insists I sign before I can identify her in this blog) encountered today as we tackled our first "long walk" together was turning our collective backs on Gus' Pickles, Russ and Daughters and Yonah Schimmel's Knishes before we walked over the Williamsburg Bridge into the wilds of Brooklyn.  It's one thing to fortify yourself in preparation for exercise with granola bars and Gatorade.  It's another thing entirely to brace yourself with the food of our ancestors, hearty stock who not only came to this country with nothing but the pickled herring they carried on their backs, but somehow managed to make me feel guilty about it 100 years later.

Agent Trader Joe's has been training every day by running up seven flights of stairs - twice! - with a Baby Grand Piano strapped to her back.  Me?  It's a long way down from my bedroom to the refrigerator, but I persevere and make the trek at least 52 times a day.  On my light training days.

Agent TJ's pedometer indicates that we walked nine miles today.  Her inner sense says it was more like six miles.  I'd say four or five.

That's okay.  It's not the distance that counts.  It's the number of clean bathrooms you can find along the way.

If you'd like to support me in my walk, please click through to my Personal Page.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Triple Threat

In the wee, small hours of the morning, when I'm tossing and turning (and sending cats flying) while contemplating the futility of life, Spanx and the quest for an honest politician, I torture myself about the failure of my blog to go viral.

I've read a lot about blogging and know that the most successful bloggers have focus.  They write about business or music or gardening or witchcraft - anything that is interesting to a discrete group of individuals.  Their readers return to the blog day after day to get more of their "fix" of the topic at hand.  And their authors publicize their blogs by visiting other forums, related blogs, or ezines on the same topic - and leaving a trail leading back to their own site, like so many breadcrumbs.

The two of you who read me regularly know that there's no rhyme or reason (or purpose or value....) to this blog.  So in order to right those wrongs, today I'm going to discuss three popular topics - the workplace, relationships and finances. Today I am a focused triple threat to the blogosphere!

The Workplace:
  • Do not utter the words "mission statement" in my presence.  I will remove your dashboard and summon up your KPIs.
  • Lunchtime was designed to regroup and decompress.  But if you can simultaneously cook the company books or steal office supplies while shoving a turkey wrap down your throat, so much the better - it's so much more efficient.
  • Dress for success; dress "up" for the position you want; and, unlike some of the younger folk - -just get dressed before you come to work in the morning.
  • Do unto others - before they do anything untoward towards or onto you.  Particularly if they are much bigger than you and have a lifetime membership at Equinox.
  • Don't ignore any chance for love.  You just never know when that unexpected meeting in the infectious disease holding cell might turn into something meaningful, permanent and catching.
  • Never discuss old loves or disgusting habits on a first date.  Especially if they are one and the same.
  • Watching Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" does not make you a Financial Tycoon anymore than watching Masterpiece Theater makes you British.  
  • Save money for a rainy day -- but don't deprive yourself.  Splurge on some new dental caps or a fresh box of baking soda every now and again.
  • Don't feel compelled to leave your children a large nest egg.  It's a tough world out there and it's about time they learned it - and what better place to teach this lesson than at the reading of the will, having already exited stage left?
There - bracing myself now for going viral!  Into the Infectious Disease holding cell - never know who I'll meet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WINNING! - An Interview with Charlie Sheen

I was thrilled when Charlie Sheen of Two and a Half Vials of Tiger Blood responded to my recent request for an interview.  (Of course, he didn't respond with any words that I can print on this family site, but at least I got a response).

Charlie and I met via Skype between his stops in Detroit and Chicago during his Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option tour.  I found him to be tall, dark-haired and male...even when I asked the difficult questions.

How has your life changed since you went ballistic, embarrassed your family, alienated your fan and bought a new bowling shirt?

It has been amazing.  I'm in it for the strike, got a spare, and rolling down the alley.  Going for commerce, dude.  Yeah.

Do you think that your recent problems have any connection to the fact that your given middle name is Irwin?

No.  Do you think your recent problems have any connection to the fact that you're a Barry Manilow fan?

Um, we were talking about you, Chuck.  You know, Adonis DNA and the fact that your life is so much more bitchin' than mine?

You got that straight, duh???

On a personal note, if I may, where do you find your goddesses?   

Why?  Are you interested in applying?

(Me:  Thinking Skype connection must be a little bit fuzzy) Uh, no thanks Charlie.   Now, in doing research for this interview, I learned that  in 1990 you "accidentally" shot your then fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm and that she broke off the engagement soon after.  Comments?

It was an accident.  I swear, I was trying to cut off her head and the gun just ...went... off.
So, what's next?  Do your think you'll ever go back to Two and a Half Men?

NO WAY!  Okay, maybe. If they put a sign on my dressing room door that says "Warlock."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Climb Every Mountain

Not Me on Mt. Everest
In the late 1990s, after reading Jon Krakauer's account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest in which a record number of climbers died in a single climbing season, I became obsessed with Chomolungma.  I read every other new book written on the topic, studied photos of climbing routes and became expert at Everest-speak, throwing around words like "crevasse," "Khumbu Icefall," "Advanced Base Camp" and "crampons" like so many snowballs with a hard ice center.

In retrospect, coming off a central NJ winter during which I barely crossed the threshold of my home because it seemed to snow every other day and the wind threatened to muss my hair, my obsession with Everest may seem strange to you. Well, it seems strange to me too.  After all, I don't care for the cold, snow or ice, peeing off the side of a ledge 25,000 feet up, yak meat, the threat of avalanches, or cerebral edema (that's swelling of the brain at high altitude).  And, oh yeah, my lips get chapped when the humidity gets too low.  (Like a papercut, that's the absolute worst).  Me?  I would never be tempted to climb Mt. Everest simply because "it's there" as George Mallory so famously pronounced.

The only way I can explain my obsession is through my admiration for the indomitable human spirit - that small, still voice that whispers "You can do it!" when one is discouraged, tired, hungry or screaming "MAMA!" while dangling from a fixed rope at 27,000 feet, watching ones oxygen mask fall into Tibet. (The last time I heard that voice I was almost at the bottom of a pint of Cherry Garcia, and I didn't need that much urging).

Fortunately for me, the Cafe Everest Diner is only two miles from my home on terra firma. You might reasonably ask me why, living in chain restaurant paradise as I do here in the unnamed city I call home, with Chile's, TGIFs, and Ruby Tuesdays almost around the corner, I would choose to eat at the Cafe Everest Diner - where they don't even serve yak steak.

Why indeed?  Because it's there.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stuff you didn't know about me.

Those of you who know me as a fashion icon may be surprised to learn that my pajama top and bottoms do not match.  I don't remember how this started, but it has become my signature evening attire.  Come over for dinner one night and you'll see.  I'll share some Fiber One with you!

There are many fun facts that you probably don't know about me.  Here are just a few:
  • In the early 1980s, when the CIA recruited personnel via large display ads in the New York Times, I  scored an interview for a job as a spy .  My interviewer (whose real name I never learned) and I met in a midtown hotel, but we soon both decided that spy-dom was not my calling.  This realization came about after the standard questions about teamwork and personal hobbies, when he asked me how much I would enjoy hanging around seedy European train stations in the middle of night waiting for someone to pass me a note. In fact, I prefer cruises to train travel. (By the way, this is a true story).
  • I am 52 years old and I can still stand on my head.  I don't do this very often, as I am hoping to live till at least 53.
  • As a baby, I was kidnapped by gypsies and raised by wolves.  Like all market researchers.
  • While I may be a righty, I have always bounced a ball with my left hand.  This came in very handy during my brief, but highly successful professional basketball career.
Now that you know all of this, I may have to kill you.  I  might have recused myself from the CIA job, but not before learning a thing or two.