Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grown-Up Christmas List

So, Christmas is in eight days. It snuck up on me once again. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be sneeked or snuck or snucked, but we'll go with snuck for now. I am headed to Texas after all.

Christmas is in eight days and happily, I'm sitting in the Oakland airport awaiting my cushy Southwest flight to Houston. (Note: Oakland Int'l Airport has free Wifi y'all. Other airports of the world, watch and learn.) This Christmas is going to be a wee bit different from the others cause the in-laws from Kentucky are also joining us. It's going to be a full house and it's going to be awesome.

Isn't it so funny how Christmas changes as you grow up? I used to get sooo excited about Christmas morning that I literally could not sleep. Or, worse yet, I'd go to bed at like 6 pm and wake my parents at 5 am to open presents. Maybe if they hadn't spoiled me so much, Christmas morning wouldn't have the same thrill factor. Literally, one year--I think I was three--they got me so many presents that I got tired of opening them and refused to open any more. I'm not exactly saying that with pride, folks.

Nevertheless, this year I still made a mental Christmas list. It's changed a bit from Barbie Dream Houses and cell phones and purses. This year, it looked more like food processors, pot holders, cook books, digital cameras, and gift certificates to Lowe's. I am officially old. My Christmas list is more grown-up than ever. But I guess it's all relative.

Here in the airport, they're playing one of my favorite Christmas songs. Not 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'. Not 'Feliz Navidad'. No, not even 'I'll Be Home For Christmas', although it's a good one.

'Grown-Up Christmas List' has always made me get a little choked up. You probably know what I mean, cause the chorus goes a little like this:

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.

That everyone would have a friend,
That right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my Grown Up Christmas List.

Kinda breaks your heart, doesn't it? Mostly because we all know that such wishes are likely to go unanswered. But wishing, hoping, and trying can always help. I think we all wish for such things. But in the meantime, there's nothing wrong with hoping you'll get an iPhone, or a new pair of boots, or a leather-bound copy of your favorite Austen novel also.

What's on your Christmas lists? Tangible and intangible items alike?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wedded Bliss, Two Years in the Making

It's been a little quiet here at All Growns Up, nay? I don't know just what has gotten in to me. Wait, yes I do: the Christmas spirit. That's what.

Actually, this is a busy time of year at my house. Thanksgiving. Hubster's birthday. Anniversary. Christmas...what? Anniversary? That's right, two years ago on December 10th, the big J and me were tying the proverbial knot. It was good times, folks, good times. (See left.)

So last night, on the official anniversary date, we were obligated to go to the company Christmas party, which is always a thrill. So instead we're going to head out for a little night on the town on Friday.

But on any anniversary, I think it's only natural to think about how much you love and adore your spouse. You think of all the wonderfully sweet and precious things they've done in the past and you get a warm fuzzy feeling. However, I couldn't help thinking of a recent incident in which my own efforts to share my husband's love of football came to a painful and tragic ending.

It was Monday Night Football, I believe. The game was over and the favored team must have won cause hubs was in a good mood. I was too. In fact, I would go so far as to say I was in a 'great' mood because when hubs suggested that we go outside and 'throw the football', this sounded like a good idea to me.

Now, the football in question was not a softy Nerf egg-shaped variation that lands on the ground with a 'poof'. It was more like an NFL-quality, full-size pig skin around which my little handsies could barely get a grip. And it was dark. And I generally excel in sports like running, or cycling, or yoga.

I'd have to say, I was pretty proud of myself. We got quite a few could passes in. But my finger that normally looks like this:

Looked like this before it was all over:

The things we do for love. It's still a little sore and it's been about three weeks. Love is a battlefield, so they say. Any folks out there have any genuine battle scars from the Love and Marriage scene?

Anywho, Happy Anniversary, hon. Two years down, fifty million to go. You're totally worth having a finger that looks like a sausage.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Grown Up Girl' Renee Coates, Hana Artist and creator of 52 Pieces!

Call me crass, but I love stereotypes. I do. Denis Leary was just talking today on 'The View' (I haven't watched the show in years, I promise) about how we should just embrace stereotypes because, well, they exist. Plus, they're fun. Sometimes.

Take the 'starving artist' for example. Every body knows one. I know one, or five. In fact, I thought artists only came in two categories: the ones that make it big and those who starve. Picassos and waiters. You know the drill.

However, that was until I met the fabulous miss Renee Coates! (Thank you TwentySomethingBloggers!) Renee has done what so many artists dream of. She sustains a living based on her artwork and creatively delivers her art to the masses.

And she does not merely fling paint at a canvas from a five foot distance and call it art. I mean, she's amazing: vibrant colors and incredible skill celebrate even the simplest and most humble of subjects and invite each viewer to see the world around them in technicolor. My personal favorite is her 'Hana Ranch'.

But how does an artist--even a talented one at that--convert a hobby into a business? Well, Renee has made art a part of everyday life since her early days growing up in Hana-Maui.

But after graduating from high school, she took her passion to next level and got a degree in Textile and Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. That's right. Maui to Manhattan. Renee now splits her time between the peaceful hills of Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Hawaii, the source of her inspiration.

However, to really take her career to the next level, Renee saw beyond her canvas. Instead of reserving her work for only the elite customers of art galleries, Renee created ways for everyone to enjoy her creations. She knew she was worth the high prices her big clients were willing to pay for her work, but she wanted to share it with everyone.

With that, she embarked on a new endeavor of photographing and printing her paintings. Her images adorned note cards, post cards, prints, and other merchandise that were then sold in hotels and giftshops. It was an investment that paid off in the end.

Renee also wanted individuals outside the uber-rich circles to have the opportunity to own originals, not just post card copies. So she created 52 Pieces.

Every week, Renee creates an original piece that is then sold on her blog, 52 Pieces. Each piece is sold at an affordable price and everyone can have a Renee Coates original hanging in their home...if they act quickly! In fact, go to her blog now and subscribe for a chance to win a calendar featuring past images from 52 Pieces. Here's how it works:

1. 52 Pieces has a free "subscription" service where people can get each week's painting delivered to their email inbox. Subscribers are the first to see the paintings when they are posted, and never miss out on the latest artwork!

2. On November 27th at 11:52 p.m. (EST), 52 Pieces will hold a drawing from a list of new subscribers and send 25 people a free calendar.

3. Here it is!

Don't buy the same old black and white Paris calendar this year. Spring for something a little more unique. Didn't snag the original but still want one of Renee's awesome 52 Pieces? Renee's devoted followers will soon be able to order limited edition prints of her Pieces at which launches December 1st!

The moral of the story? No, you don't have to make it as a world famous artist before you can make a living doing what you love. A little investment, creativity and determination, artists can live well and devote themselves to their work. If that's what being a grown up really is, that sounds like fun to me.

(You can also get Renee's coloring book, 'The Road to Hana', at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Feature!: Grown Up Girls

As you well know, I am in full support of self-employment. I tend to discuss it ad nauseum. Ever since I became self's been somewhat of an obsession of mine. It's been about four months now and I'm even more in love with it now than I was when I started. Being the boss totally rocks.

Why? Well, you get to do what you want. Work when you want. And make as much money as you want (sort of). And it's among the ultimate grown up steps in my book. Right up there with buying a house and getting a 401k.

It's also the ultimate fabulous lifestyle, basically. My typical day usually looks about like this:

-wake up
-drink a few cups of coffee, er, tea
-linger over a book/news/nothing for about an hour
-work out
-take shower
-COOK lunch
-get to work

Yeah, it's the best life a girl could ask for. Yet, so few people actually get to enjoy a life that's this bangin' awesome! I know, it's a drag.

See, it's a little tough to break out of the little assembly line. It definitely takes a bit 0' determination and creativity. And to do something that you actually like is a whole different story.

That's why I'm pretty much tickled pink everytime I meet a fellow 'boss', particularly of the female variety. Nothing against the male version, I just have an affinity for the lady boss. I'm sure you can imagine why.

That being said, I've decided to celebrate these ultra-grown up girls in a new feature here at All Growns Up that I'm calling...'Grown-Up Girls'. Try not to become breathless over my creativity. Check in every now and again for the latest git 'er dun story from a gal that decided that she'd sign her OWN checks, thank you very much.

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment! And I'm happy to say that we're kicking off this new series with oh-so-fabulous, oh-so-talented, and my friend over at 52 Pieces, Hana artist Renee Coates. She's fab, y'all! Check it out.

Oh and it's been a week since I've had a drop of coffee. I'm as stunned as you are.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Farewell, My Love

Something is horribly and scarily wrong with me. My husband thinks so too. I don't know what brought it on, but you ever have those moments of frightening clarity after which you slap your forehead and say, "That's IT! I'm done!"

I had one of those. Except it was about a dear, dear old friend. In fact, I'm getting a little teary right now while I'm writing this.

After many, many, many years of waking up to a fresh cup of hot coffee, and then maybe another or five, I've decided to give it up.

I know. Shocking.

Here's what happened: I got started thinking about all the ways my coffee drinking affects my life. No, not the copious amounts of cream and sugar, or the probably life threatening effects of caffeine. I'm talking about the logistical stuff.

Literally, I can't do ANYTHING until coffee has met my lips. Nothing. Nada. Which sort of prevents the whole go-to-the-gym-first-thing-in-the-morning fantasy that I've had going for a couple of years now.
No kidding, a few months ago, we went camping in Yosemite National Park with some friends of ours. Amazing. Gorgeous. But you know what entered my mind almost the moment after I agreed to the trip? "What am I going to do about COFFEE???"

It's pathetic. Not to mention, I have an $80 Dr. Schultz liver cleanse that I have not been able to bring myself to do because it means giving up coffee--and food really--for a good five days. Which translates to a slow and painful death. Why would anyone want to do a liver cleanse with or without coffee you might ask? Eh, general health and longevity, that kind of stuff... (Dr. Schultz has all kinds of healthy goodies, check it out.)

Now, I've talked before about how coffee is so much more than a beverage. I know there will be days when I'll miss my mommy and the only thing that will make it better is a cup of Joe. This is precisely the reason why I'm not giving up coffee forever. In fact, I'm sure I'll drink plenty over Christmas vacation. That and whisky-spiked eggnog--with my mother.

But from now on, coffee is going to be the exception, rather than the rule. Can I get an Amen on that one?

Will let you know how it goes. Number of days without coffee? Two.

(Photo courtesy of Tosti Studios, a cup of the legendary Monument Cafe coffee.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Print, Fax, and Scan, Oh My!

Um, okay, so I think we should dub October (and the first part of November) the month-of-inconsistent-blogging. The record of posts is absolutely pathetic. My excuse? A snowstorm of projects, a trip to Texas, a wedding, a death in the family (poor Yeti-dog), a presidential election (congratulations Barack), and, of course, True Blood. Yes, it would accurate to say that it's been ONE HELL OF A 30 DAYS. But I'm glad to say that I'm back.

I took the whole weekend off this weekend. I watched t.v. Had breakfast with the hubster. Threw the ball with the Quinn-dog. Almost didn't check my email. It was great. Hadn't had a weekend off in....weeks.

However, I had time to think about things like: the fact that my house is a mess, and I need to buy my Christmas cards, and I need to start going to the gym beFORE new year's resolution season.

With that, I had today all planned out. Up, gym, home, breakfast, shower, and work, work, work. Take the dog for a walk, cook dinner, more laundry, you know the drill. Domestic diva type shenanigans.

Instead I slept until 7:45. And then watched Good Morning America until 10am, then decided to rearrange my office until noon. I am officially the queen of procrastination.

Truthfully, the only thing that makes my office an 'office' is the fact that I sometimes work in there and it houses my laptop. Sometimes. It doesn't have a fax machine, or a phone, or a printer, or any of that officey stuff. Of which I am CONSTANTLY reminded because clients are always wanting me to scan, fax, and creatively transmit various documents. Ugh.

I am in total resistant to this crap. And I don't know why. It's perfectly logical for them to assume that I--a professional--would have a fully equipped office. Alas, I do not.

I say that I don't have a printer for 'environmental reasons,' which is almost true. Printers almost always lead to obsessive and unnecessary printing. But the truth is that I'm too cheap and lazy to get all this stuff.

Like today, the account at one of my client's office sends me this fancy schmancy W-9 form. It was like a living thing...which is why I couldn't operate it. I wrote her to tell her as much and I could hear the irritation in her response: 'You're going to have to print it and sign, and then fax, scan and email, or mail it.'

Ugh. This will take up my whole Tuesday.

Am I alone in my unwillingness to print, fax, and scan? Am I just being a baby? I think I already know the answer. Just thought I'd check anyway.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

I know, I know. I've quasi-abandoned this here blog. The level of business has been at a record high and I've been forced to make some radical cuts to my daily tasks. However, the end to the madness is in sight and I will return to my normal routine. Yessss...

However, even in the midst of this hectic schedule of mine, a day like today seemed like the day of all days for a little bit of blogging.

You know, for the last few months, I've been remembering stories too often told by one of my favorite English professors in college, one Dr. David Gaines. He taught the lone course on Bob Dylan and looked not unlike the Mad Scientist from Back to the Future. Uh-huh, he was quite a sight.

Dr. Gaines, God bless him, has been an undergraduate student at Stanford during the tumultuous 60s and would give us accounts of anti-war protests and Black Panther rallies on campus. "They were strange times," he'd say. "Strange times."

I'll confess, I often felt a twinge of jealousy that he'd lived during such a historic, colorful, and 'strange' time. I wished I could have experienced it myself.

I got my wish.

These certainly are strange times, and I'm sure somewhere (specifically Georgetown, TX), Dr. Gaines is saying those same words to a Contemporary American Literature class. And I find that I am painfully aware of it. Be careful what you wish for.

This time in American history will be written about in history books and discussed in classrooms. Wars are being fought. There are planets and economies to save. Worst of all, our country is divided. Obamians versus McCainians. Republicans versus Democrats. Conservatives versus liberals. In the last year, I've been pitted against my family, my friends, my co-workers. Needless to say, it's been hard on us all. You might say that our nation is wounded.

Today as I walked into the voting booth, I'll be honest, I really did not know who I was going to vote for. Uh-huh, I was one of those dreaded 'undecideds'. There is so much at stake and so many unknowns that I was mentally and emotionally paralyzed. I'd studied the policies and positions. I'd done my research. In the end, it came down to a gut decision. Scary, I know.

The candidate I chose did not win tonight. But even if he had, I know I would be asking myself the very same questions, "Is he the man that he professes to be? Will he be true to his word? Will he maintain the pillars of this country that we love?"

That remains to be seen. We can only hope. In the meantime, I will continue to hold a picture of a better America. One of unity, tolerance, and faith.

Photo courtesy of

Saturday, October 25, 2008

LIKE the SAT, but 'funner'

I gotta tell ya: trying to juggle work responsibilities while traveling/on the road/playing is a little tricky. Needless to say, I'm doing very well at it this week while I'm visiting the fam in Texas. However, if I had real J-O-B, I wouldn't be here at all so...I'm gonna take what I can get.

In other news, I cannot stop thinking about/playing with! OMG, it's amazing. Brush up on your art history, vocabulary, mathematical skills, etc. through never ending quizzes on and for every question you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice for starving people around the world!

My thoughts exactly. Ten grains, what a joke. That's not even a full bite. But last night alone, I racked up over 6000 grains of rice. And it was a hella fun.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MIA, The Piano, and College Memories

So I've been totally M.I.A. the last week. I'm going to blame the overflow of work I've been accumulating. I am slammed, y'all, SLAMMED. But hey, I'm not complaining. It sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm not.

Anywho, in the midst of all this work I'm doing, I've also watched The Piano like three times this week. It's on OnDemand, you see. I know it's an oldie, but it may have worked it's way into my top ten. Who knew Harvey Keitel could be sexy.

See, usually, the mere thought of this movie made me go 'ugh'. I get that way about some movies sometimes. I don't know why. Slingblade is one of them. I refuse to watch it.

Why I was so against The Piano, I couldn't tell you. Historically, I love Jane Campion. I was one of the few folks that liked In the Cut and her The Portrait of a Lady is definitely one of my all time faves. It's weird, but you've got to see it. Amazing.

Honestly, you could probably blame it all on my college women's literature professor. She loved The Piano. And Jane Campion. And Harvey Keitel. She managed to bring it up in just about every class I ever had with her. By senior year, I was sick of hearing about it.

Speaking of which, some pretty shocking news from the Southwestern front. Steve Brandt, my senior cycling teacher and the head swim coach at SU, was found dead in his home last Thursday. Thirty three years old. A fine-tuned athlete. And they don't know why, according to my internet research.

I remember distinctly him ranting about how cycling was one of the few sports left because one person always won and every one else lost. "Running's not a sport. If you cross the finish line, you get applause. 'Everybody wins.' In cycling, if you're not first, you lose. End of story." Cool guy, to say the least. And gone WAY before his time. And I got more than one good quote out of him before the semester was up.

Some of my best stories are from the college class room. Gotta love the eccentric ramblings of the intelligentsia. That's probably why I love Richard Russo's Straight Man because that's pretty much all it's about. Crazy college professors, their paranoia and over analysis. It's a hoot.

If there's no other reason why you'd go to college, you should just to experience professorial mayhem. Apparently, academia makes people weird. Or so I'm told.

Got any good tales from the crypt, er, college classroom?

Monday, October 13, 2008

To Sneak or Not to Sneak

Confession, y'all. I did a bad thing. I know I should feel sort of guilty about it, yet I slept like a baby last night. Ugh, the torment!

See, I've been a pretty straight-laced kinda gal. Don't much care for breaking the rules. But then I'm not sure if it's because I want to do the right thing--or because I don't want to get caught doing a bad thing. Oooo....

At the movies with the hubs and a friend this weekend (we saw Body of Lies, not bad, not bad), we had the idea to go for a double-header. You know, two movies, one night. It's fun, you should try it. Anywho, so we start roaming around the halls to find a movie that a) we want to see and b) hasn't already started. We land on Burn After Reading which, as fate would have it, started in only fifteen minutes.

Now, I just assumed that we would exit the theatre, purchase tickets, and re-enter as good, law-abiding citizens would do. However, as hubs and friend got that devilish twinkle in their eyes, I realized that this was not the plan.

And so...we did it. We casually entered the theatre as if we were paying customers only...we weren't.

Now, it wasn't a sold out theatre or anything. And there were a few other folks in there. And the theatre runs the movie anyway, whether there's people watching or not. So...what's the big deal, right?

Not ironically, there was something wrong with the film and Burn After Reading--which really isn't that good anyway, to my shock and awe--was a little bit blurry the whole time. We couldn't complain of course because we didn't have any tickets, you see. Karma, leave me be.

Under the circumstances described above, was it wrong to sneak into said movie? I can't lie, I feel a little guilty about it. But then the hubs says I'm just being a baby. And Friend gave me a speech about the importance of civil disobedience.

Thoughts, rebels?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

THE Monument Cafe

Calling all Georgetownians, Southwesternians and alumni... It is the time, of all times, to stand up in honor of the most nostalgic, the most picturesque, most truly wonderful cafe in all of Texas and perhaps even the world: The Monument Cafe.

I have finished more than one college paper while sitting at their granite counter. I have sipped more than one cup of coffee and I have cried more than one tear while dining at this particular establishment that is delicately perched on Austin Avenue in Georgetown, Texas.

Don't you want to go where everybody knows your name? I do. And believe me, I dream of the comfort of The Monument Cafe. Its delicious coffee. The special quiche. And even the occasional, and I do mean, occasional, slice of key lime or--for Heaven's sake--the Monument Chocolate Pie.
It is a slice of sheer heaven and I only hope that when I die, I get to spend the afterlife sitting in the corner round booth, sipping a hot cup of fresh brewed, and shootin' the breeze with my favorite crew from good ole Mother Earth.

Based on the crowd that forms in front of the Monument on any given day, it's safe to say that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Which is why The Monument Cafe is the only cafe in Texas worthy of Texas Monthly's cover story for December--'The Best Small Town Cafes'.

How do we make it happen? How do we give back to those from whom we've received so much? Email April Hinkle, Texas Monthly representative, at ahinkle at texasmonthly dot com and put in a good word for the ole Monument. Time's a'wastin', deadline for submission is October 23rd. Spread the word, y'all. Let's do this thing.

April, get ready. Email mania is in store for you. And after one bite of Two Alarm Chili, you won't know how you've survived up to that point.

(Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Verbal Girl and Behind Enemy Lines...

I was feeling a little lop-sided, y'all. I mean, I love all things Google. Really. Who wouldn't? My life isn't the same since Gmail, and Google Docs, and Picasa. Everything they touch turns to solid gold.


I had no idea that WordPress would be so flippin' awesome. I know that Google could probably kick me off of here for saying this but...I really like WordPress. A lot.

Now here's the deal: Blogger is infinitely more user friendly. You log in. You make post. You post post. WordPress, there's all these different buttons, bells and whistles, etc. A technologically challenged person (myself) could get a little overwhelmed. But as soon as I saw all of the different 'themes' I was immediately in blog-lust.

So...I had already decided to start a new blog--not a replacement blog, but ANOTHER blog--on Blogger, but I think I'm going to be with WordPress on this one. However, my loyalty to Google/Blogger remains.

New blog you say? Yes, I say. You could call it a one woman book club: I read it and tell you about it. It seems appropriate for a girl who majored in books--even though it meant that she probably wouldn't be able to find a job. Ahh, such is life. Anywho, stop by Verbal Girl for a little book review action. Oooh! I can't wait.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You're Fired

I've decided to bail out on the True Blood/vampire obsession for a while, mainly because I really want those 'Get Permanent Vampire Fangs Fast!' Google Ads to go away from my blog. That's just weird. I don't endorse those shenanigans. Wait, I said 'vampire', shoot.

It's only appropriate to turn our attentions to the obsessions of others, i.e. the whole country, and focus on this whole Wall Street crisis/Election foofaraw. I know! You're bored already, but wait, I'm getting to it.


Office life, well, it's a drag. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that it's hell on earth. The whole concept that any one person can be consistently productive for eight hours straight, day after day, is completely absurd. Which is why, as you probably already know, I decided to scrap the whole idea. I now enjoy the luxuries of a home office, which is about as close as you can get to dying and going to Heaven, by the way. You should try it, really.

But I have to give credit where it's due, which means that I can't mention my now self-employed arrangement without giving a nod to Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, world-traveller, world record holder, and time-management guru.

On the back of this book, it says "Warning: Don't Read this Book Unless You Want To Quit Your Job." Uh, yeah. That warning is for real, because I read it and then I quit my job.

Basically, ole Tim is all about liberating people from the silliness of corporate America so that they can have their cake and eat it too. Make money AND have a life. I know, what a novel concept. He even has all kinds of facts and figures in the book about how some major corporations have transitioned to seemingly radical results-oriented, off-site working arrangements for their employees only to see sales and productivity rise while costs and expenses go down. Yet, still, so many bosses, CEOs, managers and supervisors get their jollies seeing folks chained to a desk.

But from my own working-from-home transition, I've seen some pretty amazing things. One, I'm not miserable anymore. That's a big one. Two, I'm healthier because I don't have to eat 'break room' food anymore. But...

Here's the clincher: I only endured a fifteen minute commute to work, but I am saving boat loads of dough on gas. Probably $250 a month. Yes, really. Granted, I drive a gas guzzler (to my everlasting shame) but still, with gas prices causing aneurysms across America, my savings are probably about par for the course. In these economic times, that amount of money can make the difference between making it and not making it. If you have a mortgage, you know exactly what I mean.

Considering I had a relatively pathetic commute, imagine what more work-from-home-ing could do for the environment! Many people, especially in the North San Francisco Bay area, drive all the way to the city to work. That's about two hours of driving PER DAY. Whoa. No wonder I'm wearing shorts in October.
Basically, working from home isn't just about laziness, it's about some radical environmental reform! It's time to fire the boss, y'all. Or at least fire the office. Don't think, just do it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Towelhead

Believe it or not, I actually read an article in Texas Monthly about this up-and-coming movie even before the recent obsession with all things Alan Ball. (Aside: Alan Ball is the writer/creator of Six Feet Under, American Beauty, and, of course, True Blood.) Yes, I think it's okay to say 'towelhead' if it refers to the a movie/book and not an actual person that might be offended by such a reference...maybe.

Apparently, some local Islamic groups have been a little offended by the title. But being that the novel of the same name was written by a woman who refers to herself, lovingly as a, er, 'towelhead,' I don't really know what there is to be offended about. Would the African American community be offended at a book entitled...well, you know. I've heard Chris Rock and I kinda don't think so? (Which by the way, his latest routine is hilarious.)

But if you have an immediate reaction to the title, you can pretty much bet the ranch that you'll be squirming in your seat through the whole movie. Here's what you're looking at: a thirteen-year-old half American, half-Lebanese girl named Jasira is sent to live with her father after her mother discovers her (the mother's) boyfriend has relieved Jasira's 'lady parts' of all of her follicular adornments. Upon arriving in Houston to begin a new life with her newly Christian yet highly traditional Lebanese father, Jasira launches into a hysterical, tragic, and albeit controversial journey of sexual exploration, with the help of her pedophilic middle-aged white neighbor. Not exactly your typical coming of age story.

Which is of course why I'm dying to watch it! And it doesn't help that it's set in Houston, Texas, where I grew up. And it couldn't be a more perfect place to tell a story about things that are a little strange going on behind closed doors. And it demonstrates Houston/Texas as the melting pot that it really is--and a fast-paced business world where people get up, go to work in their high-rise office buildings, and go home. But then maybe they can't stand the heat. Or the traffic. I don't know.

Anyway, Towelhead (the movie) was released to select cities on September 12th, which of course means that is hasn't been seen in any of my local theatres. That being said, I think I'll pick up the book by Alicia Erian (above). Thanks, Alicia, for writing a NEW story about the Middle Easterner's experience. I'm so done with jihad, wars, mutilation and tragic death. I swear, if I have to read one more of those, I'll be depressed with suicidal tendencies. Did anyone else try to fight their way through Infidel? I'd rather get a sharp stick in the eye.
(Photos courtesy of and MetroActive Books.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Grown-up Fights and the End of an Era

Remember when you used to get in fights with your friends on the playground? Like, you took my favorite My Little Pony so I'm going to push you off the monkey bars? Or in the lunchroom when you friend embarrassingly throws a French fry at you and you never forgive him? Or in highschool when you're told that your girlfriend is talking about how stupid your outfit is in the bathroom? Then you three way call her with two other friends and give her a piece of your mind?

These are moments that I do not miss now that I'm a grown up. I mean, I never really partook of these choice memories as a youngster anyway, but when you're forced to socialize with other ankle-biters, sometimes you just find yourself in a mess.

Well, recently, I had my first grown up fight. It sucked. It was over money, of course, with the accountant at my former employer--who happens to also be a good friend. Ugh, it was just weird. There was a misunderstanding and then there was all of this weird email communication. Dude, so awkward.

I'd pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we'd probably never speak again. Confession: I'm not very good at apologizing, getting real, patching things up, etc. My fights are usually pretty ugly mostly because they just sort of...go away. They don't really end. Anyway, so the sad painful truth about being a grown up is that there's still grown up drama (outside of marriages and romantic relationships, of course).

She, the accountant/friend, that is, is much more grown up than I, however. After only one communication-less week, she emailed me to say that "we're friends, and friends work things out," that she was sorry for her part in the miscommunication, etc. Awww! I know. So awesome. Being a grown up kinda rocks sometimes.

In other news, that I'm sure you've already heard because this is NOT a news blog, the great Paul Newman has become the great, late Paul Newman. I've been dreading this day. I still remember the first time I watched From the Terrace with my mom and watched the saucy romance unfold with the rich brat played by his real-world, life-long spouse Joanne Woodward. Mmm-MMM. Good stuff.

Or his escapades with Liz Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as the angry, resentful Brick. He was stud-licious even as a drunk. I knew this day would come eventually, but I guess I secretly hoped it wouldn't.

A life lived well, I'd say. Scathingly handsome, blindingly talented, and deeply good. What a guy.
(Photo courtesy of LA Times, scene with Joanne Woodward from From the Terrace.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bookshelf Finds and WTF Romo?

Sorry I spaced for a week or so guys. It has been one HECK of a crazy week. I blame the insane number of concurrent projects and due dates or maybe it was the watching of True Blood over and over on OnDemand? Not really sure...

Any way, a new episode of True Blood comes on TONIGHT! and I'm so excited. In fact, can hardly contain myself.

Truthfully, what started the whole fascination with the show was a promotional diddy that HBO did on vampire mythology and how it's evolved through literature and film. If you haven't seen it yet, it's time to cue up your cable. It blew my socks off--mostly because I haven't had a quasi-intellectual conversation about books of any kind since my senior year of college--but mostly because I'd never really given the vampire genre a fair shot.

Who knew that Bram Stoker's Dracula was the first real vampire story? And the idea of the suave, charming and well-dressed vampire didn't come along until years later via Hollywood? Well, and according to the wealth of religious, mythology, and anthropology experts commenting on the topic, the whole genre is the study of the 'other'--the abnormal--and Anne Rice is the 20th century Stoker in terms of her contribution to the vampire myth--a tragic hero, tortured by his remnant humanity and the reality of his savage-like nature. Their words, not mine.

Mostly, I couldn't believe that I had missed the apparent obsession with vampires. It's so true! We have a cultural obsession with vampires more so than any other mythical monster--why that obsession has endured I do not know. But there are even people out there that really believe they're vampires--like with teeth, and they even, like, drink blood. I know.

With that, I decided to dive in. So I picked up this omnipresent Twilight --pretty much everyone and their mom is reading it. So I figured it had to be good. It's basically about a stand-offish highschool girl that falls in love with a school mate--that happens to be a vampire. I'm telling you, I cannot put it down! It's apparently for a teen audience so it does get a little tedious at times. If you're expecting the sex, drugs, and rock and roll of True Blood, you won't get it here. A little Harlequin-y for my taste. But it is a quick, delightful weekend read. And you can get it in hardback for about eight bucks. Nice.

Nevertheless, I think I'll pick up one of Charlaine Harris's books next--the series on which True Blood is based. Or I might even bite off a big one and go for Stoker...WHO KNOWS. You just never know WHAT I'm going to do, I'm a wild woman.

Speaking of which, I was a wild woman today and in PUBLIC--at the local sports bar because Cali TV stations are the antichrist and will not air a Dallas game if it means the locals don't get to watch the 49ers lose...again. But then I think that Tony Romo must be getting his tips from San Francisco because Dallas totally blew it today. Why can't he play the whole game the way he plays in the last two minutes? Get it together, mon. Ugh, it was kinda painful.

Monday, September 22, 2008

HBO Does It Again

I'm a little embarrassed. I joined the ranks of the Starbucks Crazies this morning. Standing in line to get my pound of beans and complimentary coffee, I saw a girl carrying a copy of Twilight, you know that vampire series that's selling like hotcakes? I could feel the lunacy coming on but I just couldn't stop myself.

She had that look in her eye like she just wanted me to go away. But the fact is: I just had to tell someone! I'd be doing her a great disservice if I didn't tell her about my new discovery, which happens to be the greatest thing since Carrie Bradshaw...

Okay, that might be stretching it, Carrie's a pretty special lady. But I'm sorry y'all, True Blood--HBO's latest contribution to humanity--is a thin slice of heaven. Before you roll your eyes, I've got to tell you I was in complete resistance to it, I don't really do the vampire thing. Even Brad Pitt couldn't entice me. Never did the Anne Rice thing. I've never even worn black lipstick, y'all. But I'll be straight with you, after one episode of True Blood, I was a total goner. Give me some Louisiana rednecks, a few blood-thirsty vampires, a telepathic heroine and I'm in. They 'had me at "hello"' so to speak.

True Blood is everything you'd expect from the HBO crew: sexy, steamy, dramatic, and well, a little raunchy. And you can be sure you won't be bombarded with a bunch of vampiric cliches. What's wrong with cliches? Uh, they're boring, that's what. Unless they're in the form of classic southern colloquialisms, which frankly, you can't have too many of those. Gotta love a girl that says thing like, "Oh my stars!" Awesome.

As a southern belle myself, I'm bound to have an affection for any thing that lays it all out there, you know, the 'both/and' of America's South land. Both traditional values, old-fashioned charm and a dark place where some pretty twisted stuff goes down, that whole Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil thing. It's not all Sunday dress and apple pie, y'all. And Alan Ball, of American Beauty and Six Feet Under perfection, does it right.

The love affair with TV continues! Ugh, and six whole days until the fourth episode. I'm gonna lose my marbles. THAT'S why all those Starbucks people are nuts.
(Photos courtesy of

Friday, September 19, 2008

Facebook Gets Personal

You might think that Facebook is just a harmless, time-sucking, social networking hub. A place to show your 'profile' to all your friends and, consequently, the world. It's an opportunity to assert your identity, 'application' choices notwithstanding.

But these days, Facebook is getting personal in a way that is pretty hard to escape. Yes, for the most part, you can choose to participate in Facebook madness on a fairly superficial level: no "What Disney Character Am I" quizzes or paying actual money for virtual confections and other trinkets. But ever since they launched this 'Compare People' contraption, no one is safe.

Here's the rub: even if you don't spend hours comparing others on topics such as who has a better body, who's more successful, or who would you rather date--others are comparing you. I'd be fine with it, just so long as I don't have to know about it. But just wait...

Low and behold, I get these handy little updates in my email alerting me about my up-to-the-minute rankings on the sliding scale of my general sphere of influence. Let me tell you, Saint Peter himself could not resist falling down that little rabbit hole. I'll confess, y'all...I clicked.

Apparently, my strengths--according to the poll--include 'Best Singer', 'Most Kiss-able', and 'Best Shopping Companion'. (I was choir president and quite the fashionista in high school, don't judge.) But apparently, the consensus is that my weaknesses refer to my athleticism and my over all happiness! Okay, I already knew that I'm no Marion Jones. But apparently, people think I'm not happy. Period. Wha?

I'm sorry, but since when did we stop comparing people in the privacy of our subconscious and start doing so publicly via the World Wide Web? If this is not a sign of cultural decline, I don't know what is. And if anyone knows how to turn off those licentious updates, please do tell.

Is anyone else a little offended by this or am I overly sensitive?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Panic Attacks and Media Shenanigans

So far, I've done alright in the grown-up department. I've done the job thing, the married thing, the mortgage thing. But I tell you what, I hate paying bills. Hate. I hate it so much that I've been known to, well, not do it, Office Space style. I just 'forget'. Luckily, the hubster is more grown-up than myself and picks up the slack. It's a trade off: he hates doing dishes so guess what that means...

It's a little strange that I have such an aversion--both mental and intellectual aversions--to all things financial. I'm not kidding: finance related data approaches the folds of my brain and quickly flees. Yes, scientific information apparently does the same. Somewhere, I am missing a chromosome because both--count them, BOTH--of my parents are in finance! Mom--accountant. Dad--Financial Planner. How they stay sane I do not know.

So growing up with a stock broker/CFP father renders a young lady a little immune to the shrieks of the media every time the market takes a little dip. But I have to admit, when I learned that Merrill Lynch, the very firm with which my father is employed, was to be sold, and that banks and firms were literally dropping like flies, I grew a little concerned. And then when and Wall Street Journal started using words like 'crisis' and 'depression' and 'meltdown', it was clearly time to put a phone call in to Dad.

As is to be expected, dear old Dad was relatively unconcerned. No Kate, people aren't going to be wheeling their cash around in shopping carts. No, I'm not going to lose my job. Mostly, he reminded me, yet again, that it's less about how many points are lost and more about a percentage loss. "Five hundred points in a day means nothing. Twenty five percent in a day, that's something," says Dad, financier extraordinaire.

It was a little Twilight Zone-ish because he said that the market's probably declining because everyone wants to sell just in case Obama gets elected and doubles the capital gains tax, as he's promised. (Dad is still without power/TV/internet courtesy of Hurricane Ike). I turn on 'Mad Money' or some other bogus show and BAM! That's exactly what they said. Voodoo Dad.

Of course he gave me all the other hem-haw about having a 'diversified portfolio,' whatever that means... But he also said that Merrill Lynch's merge with B of A is actually a good thing? Wha? It's highly possible that he's taken the whole 'bull' market Merrill theme a little too far.

Long story short, I'm pretty much done with the media's toying with our emotions. It just makes people act crazy--like tell all their friends to sell all their stocks and then say, "See! I KNEW it was going down!" The drama, really. No wonder this country has high blood pressure.

Is anyone else done with this media foofaraw? Ugh, this is a 'Just Say "NO!" to Media' situation. (Graph courtesy of

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rescue me, Tommy Gavin...

I curse the day that TiVo, DVR, OnDemand, DVD series, and other such life-sucking devices came into existence. I have never watched more TV in my life. I'm totally hooked. This grown-up's self control is next to nothing.

I used to pride myself on my inability to commit to a television series. Remember when Party of Five was a big hit and all your friends were watching it? Not me, I couldn't hang in there. Friends? Nope. Saved by the Bell? Nope. Just couldn't be bothered.

Really though, I think it's just because TV is so gosh-darn awesome these days. And I'm not talking about the unoriginal, degrading poo that is reality television. (Is anyone else over Survivor?) I'm talking DRAMA. Like whoa. No, The Hills does not count.

My latest afflictions are as follows: Rescue Me, Madmen, Oz, and, shamefully, Desperate Housewives. I resisted for four straight seasons only to get completely sucked in to Wisteria Lane. But seriously, where has Tommy Gavin been all my life? His psychotic, drunken antics are so addicting and I can't get enough of the 'nostalgic' sexist charm of Sterling Advertising Agency. I tell you what, my loving husband irons his own shirts and when he's hungry, he makes himself something to eat. I don't even have a decent recipe for meatloaf.

But Oz? The details of this show are not fit to print and I find myself averting my eyes during certain fleeting moments of passion among the Oz community of inmates. It's definitely a show for grown-ups, if you know what I mean. Nevertheless, I can't decide if it's a picture of everything a prison shouldn't be or one of everything that's wrong/right with the justice system!A moral dilemma! About a television show.

Books are a thing of the past these days and at the rate I'm going, I'll be kicked out of my book club. A small price to pay. What are you guys watching instead of working these days?

(Photos courtesy of and

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike Attacks and Target Treasures

Texas is in a post-Ike world, today. And, it would seem, that while Ike is certainly the most devastating storm to berate the Texas Gulf Coast in a while, it definitely could have been worse. The fam is yet to 'Rambo' their way through the mess and assess the damage at the home front. The word is that my home town drew the ace...again.

My mom, she's so cute. She says to me, "See, sweetie? It wasn't that bad? What were you so worried about?" That's cause she doesn't have power back yet, which means she doesn't have air conditioning or TV, which means she hasn't the barren wasteland that is Galveston--yet.

Hurricane season keeps getting worse. In fact, some insurance carriers won't even initiate new home insurance policies on the Gulf Coast. Yeah, for real. It's 'too risky.' That nasty global warming keeps those babies a 'brewin'.

Which is why I am totally psyched up to read Thomas Friedman's newest: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--And How It Can Renew America. Sounds heavy, doesn't it? It probably is, which is why it'll probably take me about a month to read it. John and I were in Target at about 30 seconds to closing when I spotted it and almost hit the ceiling. Mostly because a hot, flat, and crowded scenario sounds like my idea of hell.

Historically, I've avoided his books like the plague. They're easy ones like From Beirut to Jerusalem, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Instead I bought them for my dad for Christmas. He did all the hard work and then just told me about them. But I'm going all in on this one.
What are you guys reading these days??

Friday, September 12, 2008

Do I look like I wanna talk?

After a bit of field research, I've concluded that highly-caffeinated people are prone to do things that err on the side of socially unacceptable. I know I've done some kooky stuff when hopped up on the big C. But for California's already chemically imbalanced and--let's face it--chemically altered population, strong coffee should be rationed. I know this could mean trouble for the Starbucks out there, but if I have to keep playing dead in order to not get sucked in by the crazies, I won't be going to Starbucks anyway.

Example: the other day, I was on a serious deadline for a project. Every minute mattered. So in order to avoid the distractions of housework, husbands, dogs and phone calls that are often so attractive while at the homestead, I pack up my office and headed for the local Starbucks.

The nearest Starbucks also happens to be the Crazy Starbucks. It's where all the crazy people go. Why they can't go to New York Bagel or the stand inside Safeway next door is beyond me. And for some reason, if they're in the mood for a little chat, they set their sights on me.

A slightly disheveled gentleman enters, orders coffee and sits in the chair next to me, of course. And usually, I'm up for a little banter with strangers, friendly banter, however, and preferably not when I'm working against the clock. Not only does this guy want to interrupt my money-making, he wants to veer into serious topics: family issues, how his dad's wife is a five letter word (which he hollers), how his brother is rich but won't give him any money, the election, for crying out loud. Then he wants to use my computer to look up stock quotes. Uh, no, sorry pal.

You know when you try to be polite, and you're still shaking your head and saying 'uh huh', but you want them to get the hint pronto that you DO NOT WANT TO TALK. This guy was completely oblivious.

Example 2: Here's another one from the Crazy Starbucks chronicle. Again, working. Complete with laptop. Diamond ring accompanied by wedding band conspicuously worn on left ring finger. Alas, am approached by pimply, skinny, shorty, jewelry-wearing juvenile who while fingering bits of pastry from the bag into his mouth comes up with, "Whatcha doin'."

I was stunned. I'm usually very courteous in situations like these because I know it takes a lot of courage to approach a girl. But for all of his baggy over sized clothing, I couldn't resist. He even gave me a nice head nod to complete his one-liner, but full on irritation had already set in.

"I'm working. And married." Code for 'get lost, squirt. I don't even have the patience to let you down easy.'

Are there really so many women out there that wear 'buffer' faux wedding rings that the real deal doesn't even have the power to spare you from situations like this one? I can't stands no more. Luckily, this guy was a little more perceptive and got the hint. But really? Coffee house loner--where hast thou gone?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

That Time of Year Again: Hurricane Season

Yes, two posts in one day, but I'd say Ike is worthy of it. Fervent prayers for all on the Texas Gulf Coast (my family, everyone I know, pretty much). Get the hell outta Dodge, y'all. Here's to Ike disappearing into thin air?

That Time of Year Again

I love When Harry Met Sally... It's quite possibly the best movie Hollywood has ever made and Nora Ephron is my hero, no matter how bad her neck is. I love the part when Harry is discussing the youth of his new flame, Aunt Emily, that was revealed when he asked her 'where she was when 'Kennedy' was shot' and she said "Ted Kennedy was shot?!"

Well, I wasn't even a speck on the horizon when Kennedy was shot. But I do remember exactly where I was on this day, September 11, 2001.

I was in tutorial, the only one that morning, delivering an assignment to my crazy, senior economics teacher. She was a loon, folks. It was so quiet, all I could hear was the raspy rantings of that silly lady. Then the OTHER crazy economics teacher, 'Wild Bill', ran into the room screaming, "Turn on the T.V., they're bombing New York." Why are economics teachers so paranoid? She didn't even question who he meant by 'they'. It was if that had a common, cooky language.

She did, turn on the T.V. that is, and immediately let out this loud shriek and fell to pieces. Wild Bill ran on to share the news with his other colleagues. I'm not being mean, we called him Wild Bill to his face.

Then all day, in every class, we watched it all unfold. Except for AP Biology, where we took the regularly scheduled exam. Which I failed. Then that teacher hated me for the rest of the year because I wasn't on the doctor train. Words! Words, lady! That's what I do! Not cells and horny flies! Not that she would understand, she pronounced entropy with a 'ph'. Whatev.

Alls I'm sayin' is that in twenty, thirty, forty years, I'll still remember that day as if it were yesterday, because it was a day on which the world changed forever, even though I didn't realize it at the time.

What about you? Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Decision-making disorders

I have one. Do you? And right now, I am in a major dilemma. A pickle. A quandry, if you will.

It has been almost two years of wedded bliss since I married that stud-licious husband of mine. Yet the highlight of that particular evening is still hanging in a closet at my parents' house. I'm talking about my wedding dress.

If I had to choose between my husband and that dress, I would need the cold barrel of a gun at my temple to cast my vote. (Just kidding, hon.) No but really, I love, love, love that dress. I would sleep in it if I could and I miss those times leading up to the big day when I could just watch it. And pet it.

Here's the deal though, ladies. And this is serious, so I'm going to need some input on this one. They say you should spend about 30% of your budget on the dress. Well, I blew that. A lot. In fact, the dress WAS the wedding. (Hey, I made my own wedding invitations so I could have that dress. And I LIKED it.) But it's okay because it is still the most fabulous frock I ever put my little eyes on. Now that the wedding days are behind me, this little beauty sits on a hanger, in a bag, waiting to die.

To sell or not to sell the dress, that is the question. Do I release the dove into the world for some other lovely lady to bask in its...loveliness? Or do I keep it for my own selfish, sentimental, girly reasons? What's to be done in a situation like this?

FYI: The dress in question is courtesy of Anne Barge and selected with the help of Claire at Louise Blum on Post Oak in Houston, TX. Talk about service, y'all.

Photo by Aric Hoek at Solaris Studios, Houston, TX. He will make you look fabulous.

Monday, September 8, 2008

City Mouse, Country Mouse

This town kid has come a long way, folks. Once upon a time, this girl didn't like to find herself on the other side of a wall. The side where the sun shines. Unless, of course, I was on my way to the air-conditioned car. Who said people don't change?

I just spent three Utopian days in a little piece of perfection known as Yosemite National Park. One of America's better moments, I'd say. Pictures to follow. So what if you start to get a little loopy at about 10,000 feet. The nausea was totally worth it.

So I'm going to need acupuncture in order to be normal again after three nights of sleeping on the cold hard granite even while shivering my fanny off. But we did Yosemite right. We caught all of the great highlights: Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls. Although, I'd say that late summer probably isn't the best time of year for the waterfalls. The normally gushing spectacles were reduced to a trickle. Try early spring if you want some serious shock and awe.

We also brought along our most dedicated granola pals: Scott and Shelly. Who am I kidding, they brought us. These two are at least half billy goat, half compass. But that is to be expected. Scott spent four months in the wilderness of Wyoming and Montana. We're talking grizzly country, folks. And Shelly spent six months on the Appalachian Trail. I'd say these two like to be outside, but I don't want to misrepresent.

However, the poocher wasn't such a fan. Poor little Quinn, he's quite the house plant. So, it gets a little chilly at night at 10,000 feet elevation where we were camped. And Quinn is pretty much used to sprawling out on our bed under the covers. He lets us sleep with him. Despite his Quinn-sized hunting jacket (doggy clothes=vomit, I know), he spent the whole trip shivering and trying to crawl into our mummy sleeping bags with us. And for a dog that spends most of his time chasing a squeaking purple hippo in the yard, a ten mile hike was quite a trek. He spent most of the following day gingerly moping around the campsite. What a Drama Quinn.

Basically, who needs Cancun, Disneyland, or Vegas? If you want to really experience the world and have an unforgettable trip, you need to light out for the territory. Don't feel like you have the expertise to go it alone? Hire Shel and Scott Cundy to take you. That's right. They make a living taking unsuspecting travelers on outdoor adventure tours. Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, South America, these folks have done it all. Don't waste your hard-earned moolah on another resort vacation. Buffets are overrated.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quickie: More web mining...

If you also find yourself obsessing a little over your favorite TV show, you simply must log in to Totally awesome, has episodes of just about every show imaginable that you can watch on your computer--for F-R-E-E. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Except The Wonder Years, I don't think they have that one. Which is a bummer because I loved that show.

I'm off for a little romp in the great outdoors: headed to Yosemite for a weekend camping trip with my best hippie buddies, Shel and Scott. Yosemite: another first!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Undressed and Denis Leary's Better Half

We all have our little vices, guilty pleasures, if you will. You know, the base reality tv show in which young women insist that they have real feelings for a decaying, way-past-his-prime music legend. Or that website you visit daily that is completely void of any intellectual content. You quickly navigate away when someone enters the room. We're on the same page, here.

We all have 'em. Mine just happen to be, formerly, Rock of Love, Desperate Housewives, and Kat Giantis's Undressed column on In general, I try to avoid getting sucked into the vortex that is celebrity gossip. But this chick is just so gosh-darn hysterical that I literally cannot control myself. My eyes glaze over and in two clicks and I'm reading her witticisms about a scantily clad Cortney Love. Today, I was digging through the archives and found this little doozy:

"No Guts, No Tori: In the chanteuse's defense, she was at Comic-Con, a safe place to let your inner kook out for a little air, although that doesn't give her license to gut an innocent beanbag chair, throw a belt around it and call it a dress. It also doesn't excuse the droopy black material surrounding Tori's calves and feet, although, curiously, not her toes. Granted, it isn't easy accessorizing a hollowed-out novelty cushion, but come on, at least try to find something resembling actual footwear, and not extra-thick leg warmers glued to a pair of sandals, or drafty moon boots, or -- and we're just spitballing here -- Batman's cross-dressing shoe of choice."

Check out the photog of Ms. Amos here. I'm quite certain that Kat and I would be besties. She's a woman after my own heart.

Speaking of addictions, when oh when is the fifth season of Rescue Me going to get rolling? That Writers' Strike managed to seriously cut into my Tommy Gavin time. I know it's horrible, UN-politically correct, and appalling--but I can't get enough of the guys from 62 Truck. I know I'm a little late on the draw on this one (after all, ever since they started selling series on DVD, my life hasn't been the same), but Denis Leary is my new fix.

But who knew that his wife, Ann Leary, was such a literary genius? She's written several books and has a killer blog on her website. She talks pretty candidly about the perks of being the wife of a famous actor, like gorgeous models flirting with your husband and being labeled 'editorial waste':

"And here’s something you might not know about red carpets: almost always, the people on the other side of it – photographers, journalists,etc are more attractive and more animated than the actual stars. You just never get to see them, but I do, because I am usually hustled off to the side so that they can photograph Denis either by himself or with another actor. I am what’s known as a waste of editorial space. Photographers will usually take photos of Denis with me, to be polite, but then will insist on some with Denis and somebody worth photographing. I hope I don’t sound bitter, because, in fact, the photographers are so gracious and good-humored about the whole thing that I’m usually thrilled to step up next to them, out of camera range. There, nestled in amongst the guys lugging the sound equipment and cameramen, I have heard some of the juiciest gossip and filthiest jokes you can imagine, and Denis usually has to drag me away."

Love! Lady writers, keep makin' me laugh. It keeps me young.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Death by Résumé

Readers, when you were in your final days as a college student, did you sort of throw up in your mouth a little every time someone asked you, "So what are you going to after graduation?" Yeah, me too. I literally had no idea what I was going to do and by the time I actually did graduate, I was really tired of the taste of my own bile. Sorry to be so graphic.

The source of the nausea was all of that glaring white space on my résumé. I did well in college and participated in class. My professors liked me and gave me good grades. But still, even I knew that my résumé--that haunting wretch of a personal summary--had all the cards. And I had nary an ace up my sleeve.

With absolutely no clue as to how I might launch the glamorous career I was destined to enjoy, I spent at least a month in my pajamas on my parents' couch eating hot dogs and watching Out of Africa. Ironically, I lost weight?

Anyway, to everything there is indeed a season. I did get a job. A good one. In California. I promptly developed a fervent disgust for the working world and quit in the name of self employment exactly 1.5 years later. But I wonder, how might my life be different if I had known of a phenomenon known as "The Résumé Writer"?

More specifically, The Resume Girl. Apparently, there is no need for résumé-induced paralysis, there is a solution. I've recently been introduced to The Résumé Girl. She knows all the tricks of the trade and can write you a killer résumé in about no time flat. A business owner like myself, she makes a living coaching young hopefuls on interviewing and career tips. You can also find awesome tools and products on her website that will help ease the pain of transitioning into the real world from the warm underbelly known

I know, I get the creeps just thinking about it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rita, Katrina, and the Santa Maria...

In case you've been living under a rock for the last week (which I have been known to do for more than a few weeks at a time), you're aware of these two things: 1. McCain picked a woman for his Vice Presidential candidate and 2. Hurricane Gustav is about to pummel, or has already pummeled, the Gulf Coast.

I've been watching this Gustav business pretty closely, as my parents and younger sister were among the two million people stranded on the Texas road-way system about this time of year in 2005. I don't think folks realize what a 'crap shoot' that whole operation really was--basically, people couldn't evacuate if they wanted to. It took the fam fifteen hours to get to Austin, normally a four hour trip. Crazy, folks. The greatest evacuation in Texas history was a complete and utter failure. Not good.

Even though I'm grateful that the home of my childhood is gonna make it through this one, my heart breaks for New Orleans because they're getting it again. And here's the thing: the Gulf keeps getting warmer each year that we shirk our responsibility to protect the environment, which means these storms will just keep getting bigger. And bigger. And bigger. You can only dodge so many bullets. Which Gulf-coastal city will get hit next? Houston, we very well may have a problem... (BTW, check out Mimi Swartz's article "How Green is My Bayou" in Texas Monthly about Houston's efforts to go green...let's keep the trend going Houstonians!)

I'm not trying to preach, folks, it's not my nature. But Lord knows we're all guilty. But it's not about left-right, North-South, Red-Blue, it's just about taking care of this pretty little planet so we can hang out on it a few more years. What's to debate about that? I don't want to go all coffee-house on you but c'mon, guys! PARK that Hummer!

On that note, who's a little freaked about this Sarah Palin move? Tricky, McCain, tricky. I'm not sure who's scarier: Hillary or Palin. Yikes! Discuss... (Or if you're already sick of it, don't discuss. Whatev.)

Celebrity Sightings in Cotati, CA (Pop. 14)

I've recently made a life-altering discovery: the eggs benedict at Redwood Cafe in Cotati, CA. Perfectly soft-poached eggs, thick-sliced ham, crunchy homefries. Delish. Redwood Cafe is a pretty hip little spot that my husband scouted (by 'hip' I mean cool AND hippie, folks). Huge menu, free wireless, good coffee and good food. It's my new little spot. (See, in every town I live in, I have to find a little spot. Past hang outs include: The Monument Cafe in Georgetown, TX; Perico's in San Antonio, TX, Hallie's Diner in Petaluma, CA. Check 'em out.)

One of my fave things about California is that you never know WHAT you're gonna see even in a teensy, weensy little town like Cotati. For example, a bum clown couple carrying hula hoops and wigs at 10 am on a Sunday. True story, folks. That's what the hubby and me watched over a plate of eggs benedict last weekend at Redwood. As if I could make that up.

So this morning, this very Sunday morning over brunch, what do John and I see at our beloved little cafe? A scroungy, un-imposing little man that seemed to catch our eyes because of his unmistakeable familiarity. Scraggly hair, combat boots, a Berkeley t-shirt, a French beret. Just another fellow patron enjoying his breakfast and conversation. A little too cavalier and cool to be a bum, even though he was kinda dressed like one. All I could think was, "He kinda looks like that guy from Erin Brockovich." And Silence of the Lambs. And Philadelphia.

After some intensive Google-ing, we find out that it's this guy:

Yeah! You know who I'm talking about now, don't ya! THAT guy. He's in pretty much every movie ever. And I shared an outdoor dining space with him just this very morning. No, we didn't introduce ourselves as I was adamant that we should allow him to enjoy his breakfast sans interruptions. John fervently disagreed. Now I'm not sure which one of us gets to be right on this one. What would you do, folks?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Carbon Footprint and Texas Monthly

I recently calculated my carbon footprint. I did so with a smug grin on my face, knowing how below average it was sure to be. I mean how could it not? I recycle. I just made the move to working from home so now I don't even have a daily commute. I turn off my lights and don't have air conditioning and eat organic, locally grown food. I support environmental awareness! I don't even own a printer for goodness sakes. I'm one of the good guys! El-wrong-o.

When my CF was revealed, I was devastated. Two full tonnes over the national average. I thought surely there had been a mistake. Nay, no mistake here. Apparently I am an environmental mercenary.

In my humble defense, it was clear what lifestyle choices sent my score soaring. Confession: my husband and I bought a car last year and my vehicle of choice was a 2000 Jeep Cherokee with a V8 engine and four wheel drive. Don't worry, I'm regretting it now as it's costing $92 every time I fill up. I've repented my sins. However, the real culprit was shocking: my 3-4 round trip airplane trips to Texas. Truthfully, without this unavoidable necessity, my footprint WOULD have been below average. But NEWSFLASH! Air travel wreaks havoc on the environment.

I can honestly say that I had NO idea. But now I do. And it just motivates me to work really hard to counter act the effects of the occasional trips to the airport that I'm afraid I cannot eliminate.

I calculated my carbon footprint at this pretty cool website. The coolest thing about it is that it has TONNES of suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint. You can make commitments on the site as to which steps you're going to take and when. Accountability, folks!

On the topic of environmentalism, you folks ever pick up a copy of Texas Monthly? I know it has Texas in the title but don't judge. It's one of my faves. In this month's issue:

Jim Atkinson goes to the dark side and tells readers to stop hyperventilating about the environmental crisis and just do something about it in "Trash Talk." It's a hoot, folks. And if you kinda want to learn how to compost, look no further. A Texan talking about recycling? Believe it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm BACK and Ginny Woolf

I do feel a little bit guilty as I have not been very attentive to this here blog. I haven't been attending to its basic needs which are...posts. A blog just isn't a blog without posts. But the time has finally arrived and I am now--officially--free of the day job shennanigans. I work when I want with the people I want where I want. There's not much to complain about these days and I should have plenty of time for postings. Awesome.

One of the coolest things about working from home is that you get to have a home office. You also get tons of tax benefits, but they pale in comparison to the excitement of the home office. See, my first day on the job wasn't very productive, mostly because my office was a ghastly mess and I couldn't even begin to think in there. With that, I temporarily had to share work spaces with my husband. After a day of zero--and I do mean ZERO--productivity, I knew that this 'work' could not continue until I had a room of my own that even Virginia Woolf would be proud of.

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction," that's what she said. Well, I'm not writing fiction...yet, but I am writing and these days, my home office is my favorite room in the house. In the last five days, I've spent almost 100% of my waking time in this room. Yeah, I love it. And I actually look forward to working because it means I get to be in my ultra-cool space.

In this room, I get to cram all of my coolest Craigslist finds. (Aside: I will never, ever, ever buy brand new furniture. It's over-priced and it doesn't have near the character that my 'garage sale' pieces have. Plus, recycling furniture is a fun and creative way to live green.) For example, my gold velour wing chair with about a million tufts that I bought from a newly-divorced gal in Cotati for $35. Or my gold-leaf, Italianate nesting tables that I got at Skip Domingo's Auction for $10. Or my two ultra-chic, fire engine red, flow form chairs that I've paired with the Duncan Fyfe-esque drop leaf table, er, desk that I bought for $30 dollars from a gal in Santa Rosa as she was getting ready to move to the Big Apple. My husband calls it clash-tastic, I call it eclectic.

Don't work from home but still kind of want your 'own room' to do artsy fartsy stuff like knit, paint, write, make collages from old Vogue issues, or--Heaven forbid--scrap book? Associate editor Amy Shearn for has some great tips for making your own creative space and gives all the necessary props to Ginny for thinking of the idea in the first place. (This website/magazine ROCKS, guys. It's where I found inspiration for my own room. Check it out!)

Pretty cool, huh? By the way, if anybody spies an original Saarinen tulip chair like the one in the picture and/or an original tulip dining table for a reasonable price on SF Bay Area Craigslist, holler at me. Happy space-making!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All play, no work...

So the countdown has begun. I have officially twelve and one half days left in the office. If you've spoken to me within the last year and half since I entered the workforce, you've probably heard me complain pathetically about it--the workforce that is. I'm done, folks. Which is why I'm now a proud member of the freelance world and so far, things are looking up. Here's why:

So last week, I went to Scottsdale, Arizona for one of my new writing clients, um, that has now become my favorite client, for the record. Scottsdale is apparently the next LA in case you haven't heard. I'm a small town girl that loves a bargain, which is why I almost wet my britches when I learned that after arriving in Phoenix, a lovely car was going to pick me up and deliver me to my hotel, the Kierland Westin. Nice.

Little did I know that the chauffeur and fancy hotel goodness was just the beginning. After a sprinkling of work, we head over to our dinner location, Mastro's Ocean Club. Mind you, there are no oceans even close to Scottsdale, they can dream. This place is 'fly', folks. So fancy, in fact, that a lovely young lady hands you a towel after washing your hands in the bathroom. I'm a spry, able-bodied young woman and can reach the eight inches for my own towel, but that's beside the point. Maybe she's just there to ensure that you do indeed wash your hands, but I was impressed just the same.

We're there with about fifteen or so of their top people and for a bunch of over achievers, these people know to party. The wait staff is passing around the tequila shots before they've even placed the bread baskets. I'm thinking it could be a long night when the CEO stands and declares that he's going to make 'a few toasts' and informs the wait staff that as he's doing this, a few people might consume their shot of Patron tequila and when they do, to promptly bring them another one. Yikes.

So we're about a third of the way around the table for toasts/introductions and I'm plastered. The gentleman next to me and myself have cleaned, and I do mean CLEANED, our side of the chilled seafood tower--shrimp, lobster, crab legs, etc--and he is nonchalantly rotating the dish in microscopic increments so that the people across from us don't notice that we're mining for any errant shrimp that they, technically, are entitled to. And they haven't even taken our order yet. Not to mention, he keeps reporting me to the waiter every time he's sees that my shot glass is empty.

And the next night, we did it all over again at Barcelona. How awesome is that? I almost feel guilty to charge them. After two days in Scottsdale, I was two pounds heavier than when I arrived. Not good.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fire does NOT work

Of late, the California landscape has been uncharacteristically grim. Sure, competing climates can produce a lingering but slightly romantic fog. But what is in the air is something slightly more toxic than water vapor. In fact, the normally outward-bound people of northern California have been driven indoors by the smoke. Yes, smoke. No not from cigarettes, you kidding? You can't even smoke in your own home in CA. As hundreds of wildfires burned across the state over the last few weeks, the skies have been a little more brown than blue.

Thank goodness things are getting under control and as we move into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, it looks like we're going to have almost perfectly clean air to breathe. However, I'm just glad I'm alive to experience the 4th of July this year since I almost ran into a light post after driving past a fireworks stand the other day. What? Yes, folks. They are selling FIREWORKS on just about every street corner around here. What knuckle-head authorized that? It's so dry out there I can't drink water fast enough and people still gotta have their fireworks.

C'mon people. Don't make me thump you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Internal dialogue at 6 am

Tell me if you do this too: it's been a while. So you promise yourself that tomorrow morning, you're going to do it. Six a.m. is upon you and once again, you're disgusted with yourself because your desire to stay in bed is ludicrously stronger than your desire to get out, in the cold, and go to the gym. You must be crazy.

I've been doing this for several weeks now. Tomorrow is always the day. See, I was doing so good. My eyelids were falling open every morning--even on weekends--and I was at that gym like a duck on a junebug. For a good three months this was my routine. Then, the inevitable happened. I took a trip. Two time zones away. Pretty much haven't been to the gym since.

Luckily, I have quasi-decent self control when it comes to food, so the consequences of my absence at the gym aren't too shocking--yet. But even though I know in my head that the satisfaction I have after a good workout is SO much better than that extra hour of sleep, the sleep still seizes me. The SHAME! What I am proud of, however, is the conversations I'm having with myself about this very topic at the wee hours of the morning. For some reason, I'm awake enough for a little debate, but not awake enough for a jog. Ridiculous.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My weekend soundtrack

The term 'backyard' is used rather loosely in the great state of California. What is called a back yard isn't really a back yard. For example, my yard is not quite as large as the public bathroom at my favorite bistro. There literally isn't room to accelerate into a jog. No I'm not kidding.

I'm sure in fancier, more 'upscale' neighborhoods in California, the yards are large enough to do a cartwheel in, but not in my 'low income' neighborhood in the quaint little metropolis of RP, CA. I never thought I would have yard envy, but I do.

But skimpy yardage aside, there's lots to be said about sketchy California neighborhoods. One of them is free live music, 24/7. How many people can say that they can enjoy live entertainment in the comfort of their very own pint-sized patio? Not many.

Within walking distance of my home, I can enjoy the following amenities: two, count them, two gas stations, each with the cheapest gas in town (4.09 per gallon), one liquor store, one Pueblo Market, and one community center. Truly, I think this community center might also be a church. But just when I think I've figured out what kind of church it is, it throws me a curve ball. Yesterday, the Mister and I were enjoying our usual Sunday barbecue in our "outdoor space" to the tune of...was it Arab jive classics? Jewish folks tunes? Not sure, but the Jerusalem Food Festival happening next door at the community center/place of worship was drawing quite a crowd and those folks know how to party. We didn't want to be left out (not that we could even if the wanted to). Nothing says 'suburbia' like two all-American white kids belly dancing in the back 'yard'.

Let me tell you, when it comes time for resale, this little feature will definitely be an asset. It's sure to offset the fact that you can't leave your car unlocked for even a heart beat without your ashtray being robbed of change. Play-pin sized yards notwithstanding, who knew that the other side of the tracks was so rad? Hats off to you Cali, always breaking the mould.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Taking the first step

I want to preface this 'spiel' by clarifying that I am not--repeat--NOT an addict. I don't' have a problem. I can quit when I want to. I do it because I enjoy it and for no other reason.

It's just the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning. And I have to have it to feel normal both physically and emotionally. The smell, taste, and sheer possibility of it fill me with complete and utter contentment.

I'm talking about my first love in life, a hot little cup of bliss known as coffee. C-O-F-F-E-E. I know that I'm not the only one that feels this way. How do I know this? Oh, it might just be the adjacent Starbucks coffee houses that have infested every city in America. Nothing against Starbucks. I've been spotted there. And even though it's a little excessive, any coffee lover can appreciate two distinct Starbucks establishments in your immediate field of vision. Yes, without having to turn your head. If nothing else, it's a testiment to the true greatness of the drink. But even so, I know I'd be willing to cross a busy street for a cup of good coffee. Hell, I could make a shorter list of things that I wouldn't do for a cup of coffee.

Where does the fixation come from, you might ask? Well, coffee is a cultural phenomemon in the American South. Coffee is to Texas as tea is to China, whiskey is to Ireland. Texans bring a new meaning to the concept of 'drinking socially'.

Some of my favorite memories include sitting around my mom's kitchen table, everyone with a fresh, hot cup of coffee in hand, gabbing away about nonsense. Good times. True familial bonding. And all because of a relatively simple, inexpensive, hot beverage.

It's a morning, midmorning, afternoon and evening ritual.

Now that I live about 2500 miles away from my best pals--the fam--coffee has served as my very own security blanket. It's pretty pathetic actually. But a hot cup of coffee fresh out of the pot almost makes me feel like I'm home again. Except not. Only getting a caffeine fix. But soothing the separation anxiety nonetheless.

Yes, I know that coffee is innately toxic. That it takes your liver like a week to process one cup of coffee. That caffeine is more addictive than heroine. But it's not illegal so it must be okay, right? Hmm... Sometimes I have fits of moral dilemma as I ponder the possibility that coffee could one day be the demise of the American public. But it quickly passes. Probably because I drown it with another cup guess it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A new 'frontier'...

Lately, it would seem that my life is made up of 'firsts'. First job. First house. First home away from home. First husbands...ha! Just kidding darling. You might even say that my recent experience would be one of embarking on a new 'frontier'...or...'frontier-s' to be more exact.

My frontier life excites me. Mostly because the word--frontier--is one of my favorite words in the English language. It just sounds pretty...the word, I mean. Plus, who wouldn't like a word that means "an undeveloped field for discovery." Yes, sign me up.

It all started when I met this guy by a pool in San Diego. Tall. Blonde. Blue eyes. Scathingly handsome. And a trouble maker. So naturally, when he smoothly suggested that we tie the proverbial knot just three short weeks later, I enthusiastically agreed. However, it was a package deal. This charming young man came with a California zip code, which I inherited the day we got married. And so, I left my childhood home in Texas for what once was the Great Frontier...literally.

So just six months after my college commencement (a haunting word), I found myself 1) married and 2) living in Northern California. This is in no way a bad thing. However, in life, I have often professed that I would never, I mean never, do the following things:

1) get married (too compromising)
2) become a 'soccer mom' (too predictable)
3) move to California (too cliche)
4) get my belly button pierced (too skanky)
5) get fat (too much)

Considering that 'nevers' 1 and 3 have already been fulfilled, I'd say that this is not looking good.

One thing I knew I would do is to discover the world beyond my home state, to make a life somewhere else. Not to say there is anything wrong with good ole' Texas. It's quite fabulous, actually. It's not all about religious fanaticism and hate crimes. Parts of Texas have this funky coolness that is truly unforgetable. Mostly, Texas doesn't take itself too seriously. I kind of miss that, actually. Plus, I love being 'from' a place that is truly larger than life--both literally AND figuratively.

But since Texas will very likely never be my home again, I have come to enjoy the newness that has characterized my life. This 'frontier' business has been so fun that I've made it my little theme--every girl needs a theme. And so, I've decided to embark on another new frontier, for me anyway. Yes, I intend to get my blog-on.

I need to come clean and confess that I have never blogged before. I am a newbie, or to use a better term, virgin, blogger. Even in this overly-teched age, I have never ventured into the world of blog. And so, I take my first steps into this--for me--'undeveloped field for discovery' known as blogging. And with it, California, marriage, womanhood, and life, in general.