Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Fiscal Vegan

When I googled 'vegan', looking for just the perfect image to really start this post off right, I came up with this little baby. I hope you all agree that it would have been a mistake to continue looking for just the right picture of kale.

A few years ago, in a conversation with Kate's Dad, I was trying to explain my policy on meat-eating. I told him that, although I didn't purchase meat for myself, I thought there were things more important that categorically avoiding it, and that I would eat it if it were served in someone else's home.

He paused for a moment, then quipped, "Oh, so you're a fiscal vegan."


I was reminded of this conversation when my friend, Flood, commented about veganism in her blog. She said that veganism doesn't just happen by accident and I suppose that for the ethical vegans out there, fastidiously checking labels for gelatin, it doesn't. However, I did stumble upon fiscal veganism quite by accident. It started because I didn't much care for meat, progressed when I couldn't afford it anyway, and really took flight when I read a good book that told me it was bad for me.

I like fiscal veganism because it allows me to avoid animal products, for all the potential reasons a person might want to do that, avoid the impossibly awkward moments when people who may be unaware of these reasons serve chicken noodle soup for dinner, and avoid a vitamin B12 deficiency (you just need a little, but you do need a little).

Ethical vegans on the high road may disdain at my fiscal approach. I do not blame them. Mine is the lazy man's way; the path of the hypocrite. But it's easy as vegan pie, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Reason for the Season #2

Remember what I said about the giggling? This sweatshirt is the best for that. I put it on and don't take it off (except for spin class, where I wear my pumpkin sack suit) until Christmas morning.

I do this because it is the funniest shirt anyone has ever seen, by far, and you know it.

I guess I could go through and point out how inherently funny it is to list "All you've got" on a christmas wish list, or to ask for unlimited credit instead of, say, unlimited money. I could specifically mention how weirdly genius it is to request a condo, instead of a mansion, in Palm Springs, instead of somewhere cool. And, if I really wanted to state the obvious, I would tell you all about the first time I found myself at the end of the list for the very first time, reading the words "ninety seven thousand dollars" and i very nearly wet my pants. But, thinking better of it, I suppose I will just let you discover all the subtle layers of complexity in this most treasured of christmas sweatshirts for yourself.

One Million Billion thanks to Kate, who bought this sweatshirt for a tiny fireman she was dating who then, under extreme duress, gave it to me.

From this we can conclude that all the Kates I know have a really acute sense of christmas humor.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Time Wasted

Sorry I have not blogged. The truthful reason is twofold:

1) I have not done one interesting thing in three days
2) except for discover facebook and watch my soul leave my body one wall post at a time.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Reason for the Season #1

One of my favorite things about Christmas are the things themselves(if you're being honest with yourself and you're an American, you will find they're one of your favorite things about Christmas too). When December first rolls around, I unearth my box of Christmas treasures and giggle and giggle; they are always even more delightful than I remembered.

Take, for instance, this holiday wreath. If you will notice, it is bedecked not with holly but with famous political figures posing as Christmas icons. Many thanks to you, Katie Bit, for handmaking these hilarities as a gift to me nearly a decade ago. They just keep getting funnier. The Janet Reno Reindeer, the Sadaam elf, it's pure genius. I wish you were all here. It's even funnier in person.

Salad Days

We all know it can be tough to eat enough fruits and vegetables, but we all know we really ought to. Ryan and I decided, in an effort to expunge our deadly nutritional track records, that we would make a commitment to eating two salads a day, only one of which could be in the form of a smoothie (more on those smoothies another time). My birthday purchases-a giant salad container and giant salad bowls-were intended to motivate and facilitate our success. I had visions of beautiful salads for dinner each night, each one distinct and unique, each boasting a medley of the wide array of what nature, via costco, has to offer.

One look at my amusing spouse lets you know right quick that my dreams are far from reality. Desperate times call for desperate measures and, bless his heart, Ryan is here demonstrating a more desperate measure: forcing fistfuls of red leaf and romaine into his face, sans accoutrement. Poor dear. I myself shove as many unadulterated leaves as will fit into pita pockets, but I thought the sight of Ryan eating actual handfuls of pure vegetation was worth capturing and, evidently, publicizing. Perhaps his dreams will come true and by eating like a gorilla he will one day more closely resemble one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Willing and Able

This is a picture of my hair in the morning. I thought I should include it in case any of you out there in blog-land are considering cutting your hair short; the addition of bedhead to my life has made it more worth living. This morning, I think my hair looked like the sea.

On to more important topics: grad school, and the application thereunto.

If any of your genius faces want to read my personal statement, I would really appreciate it. Just let me know if you have time and energy for two pages of shameless self-promotion.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Birthday Suit, Birthday Loot

I am eternally in awe of Orem Savers for many reasons, not the least of which was its generous bestowal of my most prized possession: my Birthday Suit. Nothing says "Let's celebrate!" quite like waking up in the morningand putting on this little number. You have to admit, it's glorious. And I wore it all day. And it was really fun.

I started my birthday with a trip to an oft-noticed but not-yet-visited establishment by the name of Banbury Cross Donuts, a charming establishment with lots of windows and doughnuts, and not a lot of customers (just one: a cop. Not kidding.) and after ogling the Wall Of Doughnuts for a bit I noticed that the young lady behind the counter looked bamboozled. I accurately presumed the suit was the culprit and simply said "It's my birthday." She seemed satisfied. A few minutes later, the doughnut chef came out from the back and, to the horror of the remaining staff, sang a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday To You. I, naturally, stood up and danced aroud like a gilded freak. As you can see, I thought that six doughnuts would be an appropriate amount, and I was spot on. We finished everything but the fritter.

The day's excitement continued as I went home and chatted with my good chatting buddies online (you know the ones, always around and down to waste your time anytime), and my parents on the phone (some people still use phones, chatting buddies, just so you know... I, myself, had nearly forgotten...). My parents gave me a beauty of a green coat and fancy mittens. The picture of me in the coat is bad, but I am sick of taking pictures.

When I picked up Ryan from school, it was time to party. First we went to Costco. It is very sad that I neglected to take a picture of myself there because it seemed like people were really into the suit. Interestingly, I found that when I caught someone having a look, they quickly averted their gaze, as though they hadn't been looking at all. Come on folks, let's not kid. I know you're looking. I'm begging for it. Get real.

Then I took my birthday monies to a place where I knew they could be put to immediate exciting use: Ikea, housewife mecca. While we were there, three people stopped me to wish me a happy birthday, which I thought was very nice, and a great deal more honest than the surreptitious Costco oglers. I purchased four large plate/bowls (the kind in which salads are served in restaurants), a giant Tupperware container to hold salad (can you tell the doughnuts were disturbing my subconscious?) and a large frame, at Ryan's request (he wouldn't tell me why, but it was because he drew me a picture for my birthday present; tragically he will not allow me to post a picture of it here, but trust me, it is beautiful). I also bought one of them apple slicer things and a coffee grinder to grind spices at Bed Bath and Beyond. It was a housewife's dream come true; many, many thanks to those of you who made it possible (you know who you are).

After Ikea, we went to the newly opened Cheesecake Factory. This was an unbelievably idiotic thing to do. (If you who live in Utah, you probably already know why). In a state where few vices are socially acceptable, more than a few addicts turn unhesitatingly to sugar. The result is an eating-out culture that rivals a fraternity style model of consumption. In such a milieu, it makes sense that there are a great deal of dessert connoisseurs roaming around, intent on obtaining the very finest. The result was that the newly opened Cheesecake Factory had a five hour wait. My handsome dinner team, depicted below, sans handsome Neil, who seems to be hidden, and I left and sought refuge elsewhere, were well-accommodated, and skipped dessert.

I had one more birthday trick up my sleeve:

In case you can't tell which item in this picture is the exciting one, I will just tell you: it's the pull up bar. I have decided that I don't want to leave this earth never having pulled-up. So I bought the bar with full intent. I'll let you know how it goes.

Here's a little bonus for those who read this entire, admittedly traveloguesque, thing:

Happy Birthday, two days ago, to me!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Best Birthday Present Ever

My friend Kelsey is a notoriously thoughtful creature. The kind who sends thank you notes when you've had a good conversation, postcards from foreign lands, and sweatshirts with logos that double as inside jokes. She is truly a specimen.

We were chatting on google today (my most vicious vice) and I told her it is my birthday right off the bat, because I think it can be pretty rough to find out that kind of thing halfway into a conversation and end up feeling dumb. Five minutes later, she told me she had a present for me. Here it is. I think you all might get a kick out of it. Although, I must admit, I think I more closely resemble the canine model than the Swede.

Thanks Kelsey. You know how to make a girl feel special.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Surnames: a new approach

The other night I drove past the home of my mother's childhood best friend, and, in a fit of automatic-but-unconventional spoonerism, combined her married and maiden surnames (Grunley and Ziegler) into a name I found quite funny: Grunzieg. I noticed that my own names made a pretty good one, too: Amy Peterlee. Then I got to thinking about all of you and noticed that I quite liked some of the names I contrived: Jen Bramberlain, Kristin Quillis, Julie Searson, Missy Warbert, Anna Larbach, Jacki Leeker, Jasmine Van Sanchezenan, Autumn Beardswater. The list goes on, but I will cut to the chase: my mother's...

Jackie Fahrterson!

I think we should have a revolution. No more "taking his name" or "keeping your name" or (heaven's to Betsy, how inconvenient!) hyphenating. Let's get creative and truly unite. Let's marry our names along with our finances and our future. What do you think mom?

If you can think of any other funny ones, please contribute. The comments make me feel alive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Engagement Pictures

I have always been a little freaked out by my mother's refrigerator, plastered with the gleaming smiles of the soon-to-be-wed, recently-post-pubescent in our extended friend circle. Their shining little mormon faces, brimming with anticipation, in cloroxed glory. I always found them homogeneous (the jury's still out...) and, thus, I did not want any such pictures to be taken at the time of my nuptials. No sir.
What a fool. My rebellious inclination has doomed me to begging photographically inclined family members to take belated engagement pictures for the rest of time (is this the thirteenth circle of hell?), trying to capture our happiness at Life Together and excitement for Our Future.
What I am trying to say is, if we were getting married next month, I think this would be the picture I would choose for your refrigerator. Sorry I didn't send you one two years ago.

Hibernation Station

Something about being back in my parents house resets my internal clock (and, frankly, much of my personality) to the Teenager setting. I don't know what it is, but I find myself sleeping in until noon and neglecting all outside interests and responsibilities, such as visiting dear friends of mine who still live in the area and hemming my pants/eating vegetables/posting on my blog/etc. respectively.

Oh well.

Thanksgiving was lovely (exception: the aforementioned assault of my teenager personality). Everyone did a good job of making food with unmitigated amounts of butter. I personally contributed somewhere in the neighborhood of a pound of butter to the event, disguised as yams (which were excellent) and three botched chocolate decadence cakes (which were [barely] edible). I thought it was the oven, but have since concluded that Williams Sonoma has failed me (a first) and that it was the recipe's fault, so don't make it. It looks good; don't be fooled. I should have known better than to make a dessert that contains two measley tablespoons of sugar.

Oh well.

Ryan made good cauliflower that involved cheese and mayonnaise and I suspect contributed to my postprandeal angina.
Interestingly, the Paradise Pumpkin Pie (please excuse embarrassing name) that I made in an effort to use up the last of the Thanksgiving accoutrements was really good, despite its more humble origins than its decadent predecessors. I made it on a whim and, although it had all the chicness of it Village Inn impersonators, people seemed to really like it. I guess you never know.

Being here in the late autumn makes me homesick. I love the way the gray skies light up the trees; fortunately the late summer meant I arrived just in time to bid farewell to the colors. Utah is nice and everything, but there's no place like home.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Someone Who Cares

In one of the many videos my father dutifully filmed of my siblings' and my childhood, a tender moment is caught between my brother, aged four, and my sister, aged sitting-in-a-high-chair. Her little blonde head is meandering around, spastically watching some, possibly nonexistent, thing. He is hovering over her, clearly caught in a moment of intense emotion, holding a bowl of rice chex and desperately trying to shove plastic-covered-spoonfuls into her mouth. It's the dialogue that really makes the shot priceless. He insistently repeats, "It's hard to find someone who cares! It's just so hard to find someone who cares!" Indeed it is, little David, indeed it is. Hard to find someone who cares enough to feed you something of great value while you sit in a high-chair lolling your head around, distracted by nothing at all.

I, however, have found someone who cares. Boy does she care. My pal Ash CARES.

Tomorrow is the International Day of Action Against Big Box Stores and Ash, who believes in the good of mankind and hope for our future, has planned a parade in its honor. I will be unable to attend the parade, which I find horrifying and obscene, because I will be in my last day of Rape Crisis training, but you should go! It will be fun! There will be a float!

Do it for Ash; be someone who cares.

P.S. If you don't know why Big Box Stores are a bad idea, here's a good explanation

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Many Faces of Robert Plant

I haven't given too much thought to Robert Plant lately, until I was pleasantly greeted on NPR a few days ago by the recent compilation he made with Alison Krauss: Raising Sand. The clips I heard were soulful and beautiful; a definite departure from the variety of soul with which Plant is typically associated, but sweet and lovely nonetheless. I drifted into the nice smooshie coziness of driving with the heat on and beautiful music playing, and determined I would obtain the album by any means necessary.

Upon further inspection, I don't care for the entire album, but what I like I like a great deal. May I recommend tracks 2, 6 and 13--you can hear them for free on the site.

Perusal of the website provided not just a musical Robert Plant update, but a photographic update as well. I was content to retain my visage of Robert Plant as the fellow depicted above; a sex-symbol rock star and a tragic victim of the associated lifestyle. I presumed he had dropped off the face of the earth, literally or figuratively, never to be seen again. But there he was, a little scary but alive and well. I guess I'm glad to see the years of debauchery and abuse haven't stopped him from showing up with a pretty girl on his arm.

A Cry for Help

My reasons for creating this blog were twofold:

1) In the interest of my grandmother, who doubtless reads my haphazard missives at her many brunches, lunches, and teas
2) In order to avoid constructing a Curriculum Vitae

I do not know about the first, but my second objective has been met most successfully. I have not typed one syllable into anything resembling a vita. However, when I woke up this morning I realized that my nonexistent vita is due in precisely one calendar month; without it my application to grad school will be incomplete, my dreams dashed, and my future as a helpless destitute ensured.

If anyone has a penchant for writing CVs and could point me in the right direction, I'd be most obliged.

Nuff Said

Monday, November 12, 2007


This year, fortunate for me, Veteran's Day, once called Armistice Day, fell on a Sunday. This meant a rare but notable occasion to sing patriotic hymns during a month that is not July. I quite like the verve of these hymns, so when I recognized our collective good luck, I was visibly excited.

Topping off the list was the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! My favorite. And, this time, there was an extra glimmer of anticipation. You see, we currently attend church with a congregation that is most colorful. Boasting a wide range of refugees, a group that comes in a van provided for those who need assistance, and young couples straight-outta-b-y-u, we are truly a motley bunch. When you're a member of a large social group, especially one of this caliber, you're gonna have a couple favorites, and I found my Number One on the Sunday preceding the fourth of July. Leopard-print clad, with glittering sequined high-heels and a broad headband worn Rambo-style over a hairstyle that can probably be best described as a Flat Top, I knew she was right for me at once. Pure Pulchritude. The line-up of hymns that Sunday included all the biggies: My Country Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful, and, of course, my precious Battle Hymn.

During the first two songs it was impossible not to notice that one voice stood out about the rest in our congregational canticle. Loud and strong and pleasingly off-pitch, it was so significantly greater in volume than the sum of the other hundred-plus voices that folks were craning their necks to find its source. I myself craned, I'll admit. Really, it was such a scene that to scan the crowd was perfectly appropriate. Not surprisingly, the songbird was my own true Flat Top.

Finally, the closing hymn: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored...". It was positively deafening. I am of no timid voice, and, upon all I hold dear, I promise you I could not hear myself one little bit. I couldn't hear anyone else either, for that matter. Flat Top's truth was marching on. When we reached the refrain of the final verse she treated us with an impromptu descant. I cannot emphasize enough the emotional impact of her choice. I thought I would laugh, or cry, or die, maybe all three, but, oh my heaven, that clarion call was not one I'd soon forget. Glory Hallelujah. Yes Ma'am.

When I saw the Battle Hymn on yesterday's line-up I knew the question on my mind was the same as on everybody else's: Would it be the same? Would she sing with full intent to deafen? Would Flat Top sing her descant?

She sure did, with all the fervor of the patriotic season. This time I didn't hold back. I laughed. I cried. It was transcendent. I hope that all veteran's present, in this life or beyond, felt duly thanked and, more importantly, celebrated.

Volunteering: It's not just for rich housewives anymore.

I have had the very, very good fortune to think of something constructive and, dare I say, meaningful, to do with my time. Salt Lake City hosts a fabulous organization called the Rape Recovery Center and, thankfully, they have opportunities for volunteers. The only requirement for volunteers is participating in a 40 hour training which sounds onerous, but doesn't feel it. The center offers counseling services to sexual assault victims which probably, when defined generously, includes just about all of us. The first half of the training has been highly informative; the staff is impressive. Volunteers are able to answer calls on the crisis line, advocate for victims as part of a hospital response team, and assist with community outreach programs. I would be delighted to do any of these, but the hospital response team is really calling my name. I'll let you know.

Being back in a classroom has been sublime. I forgot how much I love sitting around and listening to experts fill me in on the meat of a subject without having to sift through all the chaff myself. I am engaged by the material, enamored of the speakers, and there are no grades, so, really, it's better than most school.

One topic of unique interest to me is the myths that circulate about rape. While nobody with a soul would say rape is an appropriate punishment for a crime (at least, I don't think anyone with a soul would say that...) it is common to think that victims bear some responsibility when they are assaulted. Whether they were in the wrong place, with the wrong people, or wearing the wrong outfit, the culpability is never the victim's. Of course it isn't: who would assert such harsh repercussions for wearing a miniskirt and drinking a beer? Having fraternized heavily with a culture that promotes good clean fun and has been known to judge harshly those whose fun is less clean, I have heard many express assignment of blame to victims with undertones ranging from confused sadness, presumably about the poor victim's poor choices that landed her in a mess, to genuinely malignant. Let us be clear about one thing: it takes a rapist for a rape to happen.

A second myth I find perhaps even more disturbing is the conflation of sexual violence and just plain sex. Let us be clear about another thing: sex and violence have not one thing to do with one another. I recall one uniquely distressing occasion when in a predominantly male gathering, I heard one fellow spout that he thought is was "messed up that some guys just don't control themselves", insinuating that the drive to rape is in any way connected with the innate and delightful drive for sex. I felt outraged; violated by his insinuation. How terrible to think that men who find you appealing are disinclined to rape you because they are exercising their self-control, rather than resting assured that your disinterest would, however disappointedly, inevitably result in theirs. I take issue with this myth particularly with regard to marital rape, or pressure for sex. I have heard women remark all too often that they acquiesce rather than participate; in other words her disinterest in sex (for whatever reason) does not curb his interest. How tragic for these women to live with the knowledge that his desire is for something quite different from her happiness. What lonely hell.

I am pleased for the education I have received at the Rape Recovery Center and elsewhere that empowers me beyond such degrading suppositions.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Armenian Apricot Soup

I am now going to blog about food, although this was not my original blog-tention, because tonight's dinner was good, with all that implies. In order for me to pawn any recipe off to others it must pass a few tests:

1) It must be nutritious enough that if you feed it to your young, vulnerable children I can still sleep at night.
2) It must be good tasting enough that I have a genuine intention to eat the leftovers.
3) It must be simple enough that it is possible an average person could have all the required ingredients and gadgets in their kitchen simulteneously.

Now that you know the criteria, please feel obligated to pass along (to me!) all recipes that meet them.

This recipe passed the three tests. It promotes health, tastes exotically yet heartily autumnal (it looks it too, if you can't tell from the blurry picture- sorry), and was easy to make and clean up. It does require one ingredient I consider unusual: red lentils. However, I was lucky enough to have some lying around and that I was eager to use up, although now that I have a good use for red lentils, I may keep some on hand more often.

I pilfered the recipe from this website but it was originally created by this fellow, who I find appealing enough that I signed up for his newsletter.

Soup is great all the time, but especially as the weather gets cool (glory be!). I hope you like it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesdays are Awful

I have a spouse who I really like. I've always really liked him, right from the get-go. But on Tuesdays, I have no spouse at all. Whose big idea was it for him to have classes from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.? Whose Big Idea???

Now, I don't mean to complain, but the life of a childless housewife can get a little dreary with no spouse. Today, for example, I went to a step class, figured out why our rent was deducted four times this month instead of one, called my insurance company to find out why my pap smear wasn't covered, ate some healthy (bor-ing!) food , unloaded the dishwasher, folded the laundry and blogged. I never saw it coming, but I am a real grown-up, pap smears, salads and all. Not sure how I feel about that. At least i didn't make the bed.

I'm sure this sounds like a walk in the park to all you busy folks, but if it were you, you'd be dying too.

Ryan has just one more semester of school, but then I will be in school..he will be at work...maybe a kid will happen...I guess life isn't about being able to hang out with your best friend all day every day (you couldn't have convinced me otherwise for a good while, I'm sure most of you remember, you best friends, you), but on Tuesdays, it sure feels like it should be.

Honey Bucket

It's a big deal; I have decided to upgrade. After seven years of loyal service with T-Mobile I decided to take them up on their offer to send me a free phone (a $200 value!) . I will miss this sturdy phone, although I will not miss the decorative message I etched into it's plastic shell one day while bored at work:

It's an excerpt from J-Lo's hit single, Jenny from the Block. I can't for the life of me recall why I used the engraver at Dressed in White to carve it into my phone, but my guess is it was pretty funny at the time.

Anyway, I have been experiencing a bit of hesitation, feeling that a new phone with bells and whistles (current phone has neither) might be over my head. To exacerbate my concerns, today on my way home from the supermarket, I was listening to a show on NPR about how multi-tasking makes for shoddy-tasking. The guest indicated that gadgets intended to facilitate multi-tasking, such as camera phones, were undesirable.

Just as I was listening to his protest, I saw the something that could warrant the installation of cameras in phones all by itself: a Honey Bucket truck. Honey Bucket, for those not in the know (I was one of you just an hour ago) is a Portable toilet company. The truck was a giant silver silo of, presumably, raw sewage, emblazoned with the company's disgustingly funny logo. There was a port-o-toilet strapped onto the silo, also bearing the logo. At that moment, I fervently wished I had a camera on my phone, because Ryan needed to know about this gross thing, and sending a text is just not nearly as funny as sending a picture. Oh, well. I sent the text.

Thankfully, Google Images contained several adequate photos of Honey Bucket paraphernalia, so I am able to increase the emotional impact of this post with a picture. More thankfully, my phone replacement should be arriving any day now.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Drumroll please...

she was a freudian slip. it was the cleverest costume i had ever heard of.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The morning after

Well, well, well. What have we here? It seems to be a nearly demolished bag of Halloween candy! It couldn't be that this motherlode of candy was consumed by Amy, not after her ceaseless preaching of her own nutrition-savvy? Not after she has done so much research she can spell diabetes sideways and has sworn to get her jollies from cucumbers forevermore? Not when she insisted that waiters bring the steamed broccoli with no salt or she would call the management?

Could it?

This, my dear friends, is the result of every grown-up lady's worst nightmare and fondest wish: that the kid inside is occasionally, if uncontrollably, very much in charge.

This morning after I dropped off my sweet salad-grubbing husband off at school, I thought I would run some of those errands I neglected to run yesterday. So I stopped at the grocery store. It was only seven-fifteen a.m., so things still had that cozy early-morningness to them, and I planned to grab some cilantro and cashews and head home to make some min-e-ve-gan-stro-ne. However, when I entered the store, my senses, and sensibilities, were assaulted. Bags of candy for 79 cents each. I assure you, I have never bought a bag of candy in my life but, for some reason, this was a bargain I could not pass up. I bought a BAG of CANDY and ate it for BREAKFAST. Sick.

Not all of it. But, by my calculations, 970 calories worth. I was appalled. You should be too. Just under One Thousand Calories of Nothing.

I guess I should eat some humble pie, on account of my oft-pontification. Or, better yet, make it a humble salad.

Halloween: a day like any other

Children love Halloween. Once people get older, somehow it becomes a day when it's acceptable to dress like a hooker (disguised as a nurse, devil, bunny, schoolteacher, you name it, those hooker costumes take all kinds) but for kids it is a day of fun and fancy, to plan and create a costume where, just for one day, everything is weird and that makes it special. Also, there is candy. You have already heard all about that, though, so we will move on. Well, I decided that Halloween was going to be a grand old time this year for me too. Why should kids get to have all the fun? I woke up, eager to put on my costume and spend the day feeling festive. But my to-do list waits for no man, so i was off, in my pumpkin sack, to the gym.

Ok, I took off the suit before I got all sweaty, but I definitely wore it in there and, not surprisingly, I turned a few heads. The only other people wearing costumes were under age five. I guess grown-ups don't get to wear fun costumes all day, although I did hear that my friend Kate's mother, a prosecuting attorney, wore a witch hat in court. So perhaps there is hope yet. I planned to wear my costume all day and do several errands, but then I accidentally made cupcakes instead so I didn't get as much publicity (or as many photos) as I would have liked. They weren't even pumpkin cupcakes, they were carrot. And they weren't that good. Oops.

In the evening I went to a party at Sophie's house (pretty girl in the middle). Her whole family seemed to think that Halloween was really important, which I appreciated. So did Kate and Neil (visit them at!).

In case you can't instantly tell, they are dressed as Southern California, which I thought, though irreverent, was genius, and finely executed. My favorite costume was this girl I didn't know:

Can you tell what she is? Leave a comment if you figure it out (not if you already know, because that's cheating) and I'll tell you tomorrow.

Happy Birthday!

The marvelous individual who became my best friend when I was five turns twenty five today (Happy Birthday to you!). I was present for the birth of her first child, which was a great honor and privilege. She lives in Hawaii now, so I was unable to attend the birth of her second beautiful daughter (smiling above), which I consider a uniquely great tragedy as the baby was born at home so I probably could have actually been of some use. She had planned to deliver in a hospital with a midwife, and determined that she would labor at home until she perceived that she couldn't "take it" anymore, at which point she would transfer to the hospital. I spoke with her on the phone briefly a few hours before she delivered the baby and could tell in her voice that things were progressing well. The next time we spoke, she reported to me on the rest of the story:

"I was doing fine, really, but labor became so intense all of a sudden that I knew I would not be driving anywhere. When the time came, I ripped off my pants, squatted down, and pushed the baby out in the kitchen, simple as that."

I think she depicted the scene with panache.

Her husband calmly caught the baby, and the two of them watched while their new daughter peacefully breastfed for her first time as though she had been doing it forever. *sigh*

The interesting part, for me, has been observing how different things are, parenting-wise, with the second baby. Whereas breastfeeding the first was nothing short of hell on earth, breastfeeding the second has not caused a moment's discomfort. My friend has become an avid Attachment Parent and has experienced what can only be described as the pure joy of motherhood. I saw her recently and her whole family was positively radiant.

I have seen enough births to know that no two are the same. I have seen many friends who made informed, responsible choices about their births end up with birth experiences that were disappointing at best, including the friend who inspired this post. I advocate for all women to really do the research and find out how safe home birth is before categorically rejecting the idea. I have never given birth and am, therefore, admittedly no expert, but I have done my homework and I really believe in the possibility of birth beyond what many consider possible. My favorite book on the subject is Ina May's guide to Childbirth, which I would heartily recommend to everyone.

On her birthday, my friend sent me a gift (this is a good kind of friend to have). I received this video in my inbox this morning. I liked it and so, since I know she'd want me to share it with anyone who might not know about the safe and potentially magical experience of home birth, I am posting it. I will admit that it made me cry. Kind of hard.

Please never amputate viable body parts; take the time to learn the truth about circumcision.

Happy Birthday one and all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

R's Holy Grail

Well, team, it's official. I am the best housewife with no kid ever.

My palms are sweating, my hands shaking (not a joke, it is actually impeding my already abysmal typing). I just won a Very Important ebay auction. Let me tell you, it was heated. I had a lot riding on this one. Perhaps a bit of background would be helpful. My spouse has very large and very flat feet. Perhaps more interestingly, they also have one extra bone each, which causes troubles including, but not limited to, crippling back pain. The only shoes that have ever been helpful are Birkenstocks, but during the long, often snowy winters, they just don't cut it. You may suggest that he simply invest in some Birkenstock shoes, but you would be informed that, although your suggestion was not terrible, sadly Birkenstock does not use the same footbed in their regular shoes as they do in their sandals. We discovered this after having the same idea you had and paying to ship them to our house...and back from whence they came. We have shopped and shipped like madmen, desperate for shoes to replace the pair R has worn every day, without significant exception, for the last seven years. Their life is about to terminate, and the manufacturer had made the egregious error of discontinuing them. What were we to do?

Then it hit me: Earth shoes. With a negative heel similar to Birkenstock's but even more pronounced, surely R's arches would receive adequate support, his knees and back would cease hurting, and there would be no need to pay for shipping any more superfluous shoes. Now, to find a pair. There is only one store in Utah that sells men's styles, so we made the pilgrimage only to find ourselves in a tiny supplements store (picture Burt's Bees products, endless Dairy Whey Protein Powder, and a man with shaved muscular arms offering to assist us) that had an out of place though invaluable section in the back containing hundreds of Earth shoes for men. R tried them. He loved them. They cost more than aforementioned estimate for a month's worth of my hair maintenance. Thus ebay. Fueled by animosity for the other bidders (why were they jacking up the price even though I was certain to be the winner?), I won in the end. $45 for my victory and worth every penny, although I will admit that my sensitive system is not accustomed to such adrenaline. I kind of liked it, but I apologize as it seems to have fanned the flame of my verbosity.

Please, everyone, pray hard that they are perfect, R loves them, and we can quit shoe shopping for another seven years.

Speaking of vanity

My mother shook her head and scrunched her nose, "Oh, A, no! You wouldn't want to cut it short?!? Not short?!? Would you?"'

I was amused that she thought I would keep my hair for vanity's sake. I haven't worn deodorant for the past three months, I never shave my legs and, let's be honest, a week when I shower more than twice is a hygienic triumph. But, it's funny, I was kinda attached to my goldilocks. Far and away my most complimented feature, it was not uncommon for total strangers to approach me and stroke my hair, murmuring about how thick it was. And they were right. Thick and blonde, rare and foolishly coveted. Perhaps they did not know what it was like to choose between an hour sweating under a blowdryer or forty eight with wet hair. Perhaps they did not know what three feet of horse mane feels (smells) like after a week without washing because there just simply wasn't time. Either way, I did, and I was done. Shorn like a sheep, mildly traumatized, but free as could be.

The only trouble is that my uncontrollable mop has been shooting from its follicles at a rabid rate. The first week the haircut was nice and manageable, but by the second week it had grown out to three time's its volume and twice its length and now, three weeks in, it looks, near as I can estimate, like a cross between Madonna at the 2003 MTV video music awards and a porcupine. The problem is mainly financial. At the rate I am going, for my hair to remain low-maintenance it must be maintained at a monthly expenditure of $110 dollars.

Anyone want to practice cutting hair on mine? I have nothing to lose, because if it turns out looking hideous, by the next week it should be ready for another shearing.

P.S. Surprise, mom! I cut my hair, but I made you a blog to make up for it! See, look what I can do with all the time I save not having to blowdry!

Vain indeed

I find myself in quite the quandary. It seems that people no longer see each other's actual faces, but instead keep in touch through elaborate, artistic, eloquent blogging acrobatics. I sometimes think I should just buy a bus ticket to go visit my estranged friends rather than simply visiting their blogs and calling it good. Still, I find I am surprisingly able to keep up on the daily excitements of children whom I have never met, admire homes which I have never seen, copy recipes I have never smelled nor tasted, and covet household crafty creations I would never dare attempt myself. Blogs can be, really, quite fun.

I would wager many of these friends to not even know that they are being kept in touch with, but I sure like to amuse myself by reading about their life's adventures, all the while ignoring the dearth of my own. Although I believe Thoreau got it right, and it is better to get moving than to get blogging, it's easier to blog than to move. So here we go: ready, set, blog.