Monday, December 31, 2007

My Left Foot

We're back from Cincinnati, and I'd like to say none the worse for wear, but I can't.

Turns out that a 30-something white woman should not try to do a dance called the two-step (and not the country two-step, which M and I used to do in college, albeit poorly and typically under the influence of alcohol). This two-step looks like it's something straight out of MC Hammer's playbook, or maybe Vanilla Ice. It looks awesome when done properly.

It does not look good the way I did it. Or rather, tried to do it.

I was dancing and then suddenly...I wasn't.

Perhaps it was because I was trying to do it to Cotton Eyed Joe. Perhaps it was because I wasn't wearing shoes. Perhaps it was because I was dancing on a tarp-covered gym floor. Perhaps it was the coupla beers I had before/with dinner. Perhaps it's because I'm no longer young and flexible. Probably more of that last one than the rest, but most likely a combination of all of the above.

Regardless of the cause, the end result was a left foot that rolled when it wasn't supposed to, sending the rest of my body crashing to the floor. Thanks to M and Aunt Shelley, we got ice on it almost immediately and elevated it promptly. I was reduced to chair dancing for the next thirty minutes, then had to be helped out to the car.

My feelings of embarassment are somewhat ameliorated by the knowledge that Cousin Clare, who is considerably younger than I, jacked up her knee trying to do the very same dance. Her exit was much more dramatic; she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She arrived at brunch the next morning on crutches, whereas I'm able to at least hobble around on my own.

We've now banned the two-step from all family functions.

The rest of the weekend was jam-packed with lots of fun and included tons of family time, two trips to West Elm to pick out our new dining room table, chairs and buffet, and a meal at Skyline. I cannot visit Cinci without a trip to Skyline.

Much of the trip home yesterday was spent with my foot propped up on the dash, and by last night the top of my foot had started turning a light blue color. I'm pretty sure it's going to go through a rainbow of bruises before it's all said and done, and I'm already tired of popping Advil and gimping around slowly, but I figure it could be worse. M and I are debating whether I should visit a doc-in-the-box just to have it checked out.

I may go, just to get some peace of mind that there's no permanent damage done.

This development is a major bummer in that I simply have far too much to do this month to be felled by injury, not to mention the whole raising-a-child thing.

Ah, well, at least I'm at work now with the offending foot comfortably propped on the top of my Dell. It's the perfect height, which I'm sure they planned for when designing this particular desktop (or, rather, floortop) computer.

So, if you see me gimping around, you'll know what the cause is. I'm working on a better excuse (climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro? hiking through the Adirondacks? saving a small child/elderly person/kitten from a fire?) than "I was slightly inebriated and trying to dance hiphop at a wedding Saturday night." Suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A veritable potpourri of nothing

It's Big Trip Eve.

Which is, of course, The Night Before We Go Out Of Town. Or, The Night Amy Tries To Fix/Clean Everything in the House.

You know, because packing isn't enough.

I have this thing stuck in my brain that my house must be perfect before I leave to go out of town. Because I might get hit by a bus in Cincinnati and then people would have to go through my house and the last thing I want them thinking is, "Poor Amy, she died, but man, was she a slob."

Yes, I realize this is a totally irrational thought on my part. Add it to the list.

So, on top of packing, I'll be doing unnecessary laundry (and folding and putting it away), emptying the trash cans, straightening my desk, changing the sheets on the bed, organizing the linen closet, cleaning out the fridge. I'll clean out the closet (actually, closets, since most of them need it), and the medicine cabinet, and the cabinet under the kitchen sink.

All for a trip that starts Friday morning and ends sometime Sunday.

Imagine how I'd be if I were leaving for a week.

On a good note, I got my fingers and toes done today so they look good for Saturday's wedding.

Which reminds me...everyone think happy thoughts for Paul and Alison who will be united in holy matrimony at 4 p.m. Saturday. Paul is the first cousin in M's family to get married after M, who was the first of them all. It's been 10 friggin' years, and three of 'em are getting married within a year. It's about damn time. Welcome to The's fantastic!

I had to take pains to write "Paul and Alison" instead of "Alison and Paul," because a conversation with M earlier today went something like this:

A: blah blah blah...Alison and Paul's wedding...
M: You got that backwards.
A: What?
M: Alison and Paul. It should be Paul and Alison.
A: Whatever, hoser. Hey, guess what, we can vote now, too!

M has this thing where he thinks, rather provincially I believe, that the man should always be listed first, and that the woman must take the man's name.

To which I reply, "phooey."

1. I say, and I think other people say, "Mike and Amy" (when referring to myself in the third person, as I am wont to do) only because it sounds better to have the one-syllable name come before the two-syllable name. I'm big on syllabic harmonics. If the syllables were reversed, for instance, if we were named Anne and Justin, well, then I'd come first. I bow to his greater syllabic simplicity, so to speak. I'm trying to think of people in our family for whom this works, but I'll be damned if the men aren't all one syllables while the women are two: Shawn and Katie, Fred and Sandy, Jim and Margaret, Mike and Carol, Rob and Shelley, Ray and Judy. Doug and Tiffany. Grrrr.

Addendum to 1.: If both names are of equal syllables, then you just go with what you want. Marty and Megan sounds just as fine as Megan and Marty. Michelle and Ryan or Ryan and Michelle...take your pick.

2. I say that the woman can take whatever damn name she well pleases, and he's lucky I didn't pick something out of thin air, like "Mochaccino" or "Pickle." I chose his last name because I happen to like it. It means "golden," by the way. How cool is that? I have no idea what my maiden name means in Polish, but I've heard enough Polack jokes to last a lifetime and so was not too upset to change to Golden.

Huh. I just googled "Polish slur" to ensure that I had spelled "Polack" correctly (I had), and I found this. The Internet is a just a beehive of information, ain't it?!

This is the way my brain works on Big Trip Eve. I just sorta bounce from one thing to the next with no apparent plan.

Which is why, halfway to Cincy tomorrow, I shall scream, "I forgot the ______!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merryjuana Christmas!

Zozo has a complete grasp of the present-unwrapping concept now. She's got "rip 'n run" down to an art form, complete with little "oohs" at every tear. There are a few things she's gotten pretty excited about, including a pink plastic table from Great Grandma Swearingen, a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner from "Anmma" and Grandpa Z, new slippers from Uncle and a MagnaDoodle from her godfather, but by and large the hit of the holiday season is the kitchen set from her Grammy and Papa.

She had first unwrapped several packages of wooden food, including an adorable condiment set, when Grammy called her over to the corner of the great room. "Look, Zozo!" With more flair and pizazz than Vanna White, Grammy pulled a red blanket off the kitchen set. Commence happy dance. M and I agreed we don't know that we've ever seen Zoe get so excited over a toy. She immediately set to work learning which doors opened and how, and turning on the water faucet. The knobs for the oven got a good workout, and the microwave was tested, unfortunately with Hoot inside. After she gave him a good nuking, he went in the fridge to cool down. In between all this, she'd stop to jump up and down with sheer glee.

She spent much of the rest of the night "cooking." She gave Hoot several baths in the sink and kept inviting various family members to come over to "SIT!" while she cooked. She's like an old Italian grandmother who insists on feeding everyone who stops by. "EAT! EAT!"

We don't have the kitchen set at home yet, as it's rather large and requires the delivery services of Aunt KK and Uncle (S)hawn (to Zoe, the "S" is silent in Shawn). We did get all her wooden food home, and Christmas morning she cooked for us. "Pizza. Hot!" She's the next Rachel Ray, I tell ya. After that, all day she asked to go home, to the library, so she could cook. I'm sure her requests will increase in frequency as soon as the kitchen arrives.

Christmas Eve we arrived home late, around 10:30. We got our sleepy Zo out of the car and Daddy walked her out to see her star (a nightly ritual) before bringing her in to put her back to bed. M went back out to check on the lights, and upon returning inside said, "You know, I was just out there and I swear I smelled pot. Someone's smoking wacky weed in our neighborhood!" I had smelled it, too. Who on earth in our little conservative suburban enclave was smoking weed on Christmas Eve? We speculated and decided it's the next door neighbor, who was suspiciously wandering around his front yard with no apparent purpose.

Which means to our north we have the Driveway Nazi, who clicks around at midnight in her stilettos, clearing every damn leaf and twig off her driveway, which happens to be five feet out our bedroom window, and to the south we have Cheech. Or Chong. Does it really matter?

Thank goodness the people out our back door are normal. We love them.

Much love and appreciation go out to our entire family, who once again gave us a wonderful Christmas and lots and lots of fun. Everyone was too generous, as usual, and we are so grateful.

Marijuana Christmas and Happy Toke Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Zoe and Hoot visit Santa

Santa says, "Ho ho ho!"
Hoot says, "Whooo whooo whoooo!"
We took Zozer to see Santa yesterday, and she did great. We practiced while we stood in line, so she was ready when it was her turn. She told him "Ho ho ho!" and he responded in kind, in a much deeper voice of course (to which she responded with wide eyes and a general look of suspicion). He asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she replied, "Toys!" Then she looked around like, "What now?" and that's when we started telling her to smile for the camera.
What you see above is her "smile." It's definitely not her natural smile, but what she thinks is smiling when you tell her to smile. Regardless, it's adorable, and we went with it. Better than last year when she screamed in abject terror.
Hoot asked Santa for a day off.
His time will come...we've got Hoot Numbers 3 and 4 waiting in the wings, ready to be rotated in. About time, too, as Hoot Number 2 just this weekend was sneezed on, dropped in a wet/dirty parking lot, and lobbed onto various unclean shelves at Target. Hoot Number 1 is still in rehab, but we expect him to make a full recovery.
Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A brief review

Okay, I've been a bad blogger. (Bad blogger! Bad!)

What with getting ready to start the MBA classes (enroll, register, get the textbooks, get registered on-line, pay for the dang thing, etc.), Christmas just around the corner, and gearing up for this major software conversion (which yours truly is spearheading, natch), I've been a wee bit busy.

It's only gonna get worse, folks. I'd say pretty much count me out for, oh, January.

I'll try to be better, but these next couple weeks are gonna be hell. Last night, for instance, instead of planting my fanny in front of the Mac and holding a virtual one-sided conversation with the blogosphere, I stood at my kitchen counter and wrapped 1,472 presents. Okay, maybe not that many, but it was a lot. They're all done, and since they're wrapped in my pretty sparkly paper I got for pennies on the dollar from Globe Drug, they're quite nice to look at. If I had the time.

I really should take time to stop and gaze at the gifts. (Since roses aren't really in season and I don't particularly care for their smell anyway.)

The greatest gift anyone could give me next year, really, would be this suggestion, "Hey, let's not exchange gifts this year!"

I am missing my blog, though, because I've had so many great subjects to riff on lately and haven't had the time.

Here's a short list (and maybe a reminder to me to write about them eventually):
  1. The woman at my new Starbucks calls herself "Big Momma."
  2. Am I really seeing more car wreaths, or just the same car over and over?
  3. Gift bags are the greatest invention. Ever. But they aren't as pretty as sparkly wrapping paper tied with a beautiful snazzy tulle bow.
  4. How much I love my new vacuum. It sucks. Totally. Which is good. (And the story of what happened with the old vacuum. For those of you who are Blues Brothers fans - the original one, not the crappy sequel - picture the Bluesmobile falling apart at the end when Elwood parks in Daly Plaza.)
  5. Solicitations for advice on how to stop the Chicken Little people I work with from constantly predicting The End of the World As We Know It with this software conversion.
  6. Zoe's newest capers and words (which require translation. For example: "barf" really means "scarf," thankfully)

Okay, must run. Plans await. (When do they not, this time of year?!)

In case I don't get back to this again...

Merry Hanukwanziday!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A mid-day treat

Okay, it's now day 46 of my voice being funky. Not really, but it is day 5 and that, frankly, is 5 days too long. I'm also sick of the sinus crud that goes along with the funky voice. And I'd like to get back to feeling well enough to work out again, because I really miss it and how great I feel when I do it. Since I hack, cough and wheeze for the first 45 minutes of each morning, though, my first inclination is to stay away from the gym.

Today my boss, who never gets sick, has a crackly voice. Which means that she's popping Airborne and shoving them down my throat at the same time. I was wary of it because it involves a little tablet fizzing in a glass of water, and I've never been a big fan of Alka-Seltzer, but it actually wasn't bad. Not sure if it'll do a thing since I've been dragging this head cold thing around for about two weeks, but we'll see.

Around noon today I was plugging away at my computer, having just eaten a bowl of chili (while working...because I'm a dedicated employee) when the cell rang.'s Stef. Thought she was finishing up orientation today and then heading to the airport. Turns out she finished orientation early and had time to grab some lunch before catching her flight, and would I care to join her.

Hell yeah!

It was so strange to see her in the middle of my workday. Normally we do the million-email-juggle to schedule a couple hours around the major holidays. "How about this day?" "No, that's Christmas with my aunt and uncle. How about that day?" "No, that's Christmas with my aunt and uncle." We end up squeezing in a bit of time that always feels rushed and not ever enough.

So it was strange to sit across from her at Crazy Bowls (she ate, I had a smoothie since I had already consumed chili) and just catch up. Lunch on a whim. "Hey, I've got a few minutes...wanna grab something?" "Yeah, see you in a few!"

It's like when I first started working here and I had to get used to looking up in the middle of the day and seeing my dad walk by. Very cool, but so odd at first. Stef will be working a mile up the road from where I work (mere milliseconds, you could say), so lunch on a whim might be something that happens often.

I think I can get used to this.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stef and The Lou

It really didn't sink in until today.

Awhile back, I received an instant message from Stef (my BFF who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan) saying, "Don't freak out, but I'm interviewing for a job in STL."

Yeah, don't freak out. That's like asking my husband to not decorate for Christmas.

I did pretty well, though, I think, conducting (most of) my happy dances in private and trying to not lay the pressure on her. Although I did point out that living here has such benefits as watching my impossibly adorable daughter grow up and a having a nice spa discount at her disposal, among many others.

She had a phone interview, then a face-to-face interview (that lasted, apparently, about 26 hours and included a meal). At this time she was also looking at moving to Australia, which would have been utterly fine except when I'm feeling selfish and then I say, "Oh, hell no!" But I hid those weaker moments okay, and said, "I'll support whatever decision you make," which is the truth but some of the support would have been, admittedly, grudging. I'd have sent her Down Under, but with some tears.

Then it was coming down to the wire between the two jobs and she told me she was leaning towards The Lou, saying, "You can't take it to the bank, but you can pull up to the drive-thru." Okay, good. I inched up, put it in park and idled, and hoped beyond hope that my best friend would finally live close enough to me so as not to involve a 747 just to hang out at Starbucks.

Then I got the call. "Take it to the bank, baby, I'm coming home!"


Since then she's been incredibly busy, and I've been incredibly busy and we've talked a few times but not a whole lot. I haven't seen her but she sounds over the phone like she's positively glowing and I'm so freakin' happy for her I could spit.

And, yes, I'm happy for me because who doesn't want her best friend in the same freakin' city?

So things have been progressing along. She put in her two weeks up there and made plans to go through orientation and stuff here, and is jetting to and fro getting things set up and arranged. She's here now for orientation but is so solidly booked that I won't get to see her until sometime closer to (or even after) Christmas. Fine by that she's moving here I don't exactly need to battle her mom in the gladiator ring just to see her for a few minutes during holidays. That's an exaggeration, by the way, as her mother is a lovely woman who has never even set foot in a gladiator ring, much less worn a chain-mail skirt.

Today I was working away and my BlackBerry pinged. Literally. I have it set up to ping like a submarine when I get a new message (how cool is that?). "Ah," I said, "I have a new message!" I checked it to find Stef asking for my zip code. Uh. Okay. So I sent it back, along with the rest of my address for good measure, then asked why.

"Emergency contact backup" was the reply.

Ho. Ly. Shit. She's really, really moving here! And I'm her emergency contact backup!!! Mom, of course, bats in the 1 hole I'm sure. You know. Seniority.

But I'm the backup!!!!

There are two things that struck me with this:
  1. She's really, really, really moving home.
  2. She thinks I'm responsible enough to be an emergency contact.
There. I just did a happy dance all over again. Not very responsible, but so be it.

Speech returns (finally)

I'm finally getting my voice back! I had absolutely nothing above a whisper for Saturday and most of yesterday, but last night I was finally able to croak out about every fourth or fifth word. Today is much better...I'm only losing every fourth or fifth word. The ones I do have, though, sound pretty funny. Scratchy and deep.

I didn't think it would be so hard to be speechless, but it turns out it is. Especially when you have a two-year-old ("Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?") and a husband who calls to you from the other end of the house and then wonders why you're not responding. I walked around my house a lot more this weekend than I normally do, because I couldn't just yell back. It didn't bode well for my sanity, I'll tell you that. I couldn't yell at him to knock it off, either. Oh, the irony. He, of course, thought it was great that his wife couldn't speak. Took full advantage, he did.

Saturday night we had friends over to watch the Bond movie Casino Royale. I was sorta not wanting to watch the new Bond, since I really (really) like Pierce Brosnan. But, I must admit, I'm swayed. Perhaps it was the multiple shots of Daniel Craig without a shirt, perhaps it was his piercing blue eyes, who knows. Who cares? The guy is eye candy, and seems to me to be a much "tougher" Bond than Brosnan. A little rough around the edges. A rugged kind of handsomeness, I guess you could say. It's the difference between Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan being portrayed by Alec Baldwin versus Harrison Ford. As much as I like Baldwin, Ford will win me every time. Pretty boys are okay, but I prefer the ones with character. Scars and wrinkles mean a rich life, a colorful history. Antique patchwork quilts are much more beautiful than sleek new duvet covers from Pottery Barn.

I called this morning to register for my first MBA course. Although I'm taking my courses on-line, they require registration for the first class to be done over the phone. I made it through okay despite the fluctuations in my voice, and I'm now registered for Accounting Theory and Practice. I know, I know, ya'all are so jealous about the fun and excitement that's in store for me for nine weeks starting January 4. Try to contain yourself.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Say what?

So I didn't post yesterday or today, which to me is Friday, which by the clock is Saturday, so I suppose I should write "so I didn't post Thursday or Friday," but since I'm still awake from when I awoke Friday I'll stick to my original statement.

Today I lost my voice. Well, I didn't lose it so much or misplace it, as I know directly where it went. It went right down my throat, carried by the torrential rivers of snot that flowed freely from my sinus passages. I had my voice this morning, although it sounded a bit like Lauren Bacall (which, hey, I'm not gonna complain because who doesn't want to sound like Bacall without the risk of lung cancer) and I was able to deliver my monthly report to my staffers at Chesterfield, complete with the second showing of my Channel 5 debut and the second reading of my essay. Neither of which was my idea, but when the person who signs your paycheck says, "Hey, why don't you show that at the staff meeting..." you don't really have much room to argue.

So I presented and it went fine and then I had a brief meeting with my boss and another person and that went fine, although I noticed that I was starting to sound a bit more crackly.

Then I tried singing to some great rock songs in my car on the way back to the main office, and those just sounded downright awful, even by my standards, which are rock bottom to begin with, and by about lunch time the voice was pretty much gone.

I came home and shoved chicken noodle soup down my gullet in an futile attempt to "fix" everything, but I think it only made it worse, as by around 1:30 I could speak in nothing more than a whisper.

Or "wheeesper" as Zozo likes to say.

This is by no means anything bad, given how much I like to talk. I figured it was, you know, God's way of letting everyone else in America (or at least in my social circle) have a chance to say something. But then I realized we were going to a party tonight. And not just any old party, a carolling party. Oh, crap. I'm supposed to, like, um, sing. Yeah, that's so not going to happen.

So we went to the party, and I let my husband introduce me to people and took in all the sympathetic looks, which I tried to be gracious about and also tried to convey with my eyes, "no, this is a good thing, because if I could talk, well, you wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise." Then it came time to carol and I respectfully bowed out due to having not even a peep to contribute. M left with everyone else I knew, which weren't many people, but hey, it's gourmet cooking and lots of interesting strangers, so who am I to complain.

First I was talking (or listening, rather) to a couple of ladies who were perfectly wonderful but who lost me around the five-minute mark of discussing which dishwasher detergents leave spots on your glasses and which don't. Frankly, I don't care which do and which don't, as long as there isn't any leftover crud in there that I don't want to see after I down my milk. Lovely women, but, oh, look, I need more wine.

So I moved on. To the beverage bar, where I found that the red was open and breathing fine, but my bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay had been killed many moments before and was replaced by another which was, unfortunately, not open yet. Shit. I, among my various assorted talents, do not know how to use a real corkscrew.

I grabbed the bottle in one hand, and the corkscrew in another and whipped around. I saw a kitchen full of men of assorted ages talking in little clusters. Well, here goes. In what little voice I had left (which was nothing more than a whisper, really) I shouted, "Hey, I need help!" I caught the attention of the two gentlemen standing closest and no one else, but that was all I needed as the Kendall Jackson was uncorked in no time and I was then talking to people who were not discussing dishwasher detergent.

Instead they were talking Mizzou's ignonimous (is that a word? who knows, I've had too much wine tonight) defeat to Oklahoma. I can hang with that, so cool, we started talking (or, I started listening and nodding with intense feeling, since I still couldn't talk). Then I realized that these people (who included someone called Taco Tammy, don't ask me) really do know college football as they were actually discussing, you know, players and coaches from other teams. Okay, I'm doing well to name the quarterback from Mizzou. Love 'em, huge fan, but don't really have time to follow them avidly, much less any other college teams. Heck, I just found out today that the Cards cut Eckstein loose...that mourning will have to start tomorrow as I'm tapped out for tonight. What I'm trying to say is that while I like sports (or "sparts" as we here in the Lou like to say), it's not real high on my list of priorities at this time.

So, you know, I started to zone out. This is when you start scoping the room to see who else you can talk to. So far I've culled out the Dishwasher Detergent Duo and the Sparts Nuts. Around this time I see some dude across the kitchen showing a photograph to some other dude. I can't tell for sure, but it looks like the photograph is of a sculpture. I can't tell if the guy did it himself, but I'm thinking, if he didn't, why the hell is he showing it to someone else.

Intrigued, I manufacture a way out of the Sparts Nuts conversation, "Is that right, Taco Tammy? Oh, look I see some plates I should clear..." I get the dirty plates and deliver them to the kitchen sink which is where Sculpture Guy is standing. I waited for a break in the conversation and then made a complete ass of myself trying to explain to a Hungarian immigrant in an American whisper that I'd like to see the pictures he's got in his pocket.

Turns out he's a graphic artist by trade, and just a general kick-ass artist by nature. He sculpts in multiple media (marble, metal, whatever) and photographs and does a myriad of other things. I don't get to meet real artists often. Or "arteests," rather. Actually, I've met only like three in my life. One was tonight, so it was a pretty damn big deal.

At least, it was to me. My husband and my FIL got a charge out of my newfound crush, but I'd say it was the artist's equivalent to the engineer meeting Wernher Von Braun, so they can just can it.

So, despite the fact that I still can't speak, it was a great evening.

Huh. Maybe I should try not speaking more often.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quick clean

Every morning after my workout I read a magazine while I eat my Raisin Bran. Sometimes a catalog for gift ideas, but mostly magazines. Today I finished up the Pottery Barn catalog and moved to St. Louis At Home, which I get for free and which I always think I'll never read, but then I do and I'm glad I did.

Today's issue had two different articles, back to back. One was a feature on probably the largest home in the STL region, and how it's decorated for Christmas. This home is owned by the lady I used to work out with at Curves, who moves in the multiple-servants-society. Her home is so gigantic that it looks, as least from the photographs, like it's a European royal home that's been converted into a museum. Nice to look at, but so not me.

The other article was on a couple who recently downsized. Their son is all growed up and moved out, so they decided they no longer needed all the space of their house. They moved to a beautiful converted condo in the Central West End, which forced them to get rid of a bunch of their stuff. It's open and airy and simple, and, to me, absolutely gorgeous.

The woman's quote was something about getting down to the bare bones of their home, and it reminded me of something one of my old bosses used to say, "Don't keep it around unless you absolutely love it."

After breakfast I went into our bedroom to get ready for work, and I looked around. "Well, that can go. And that. And that, that, and that." In the space of about 90 seconds I recycled four items and threw away three more. The room already looks much better.

Why on earth was I hanging on to an old, empty bottle of Ellen Tracy perfume? Well, it was really expensive (a gift!) and I loved it, and I guess I thought one of these days I'd buy myself some more, and the bottle would serve as a reminder that I like Ellen Tracy perfume. Uh, no. I'm pretty sure I can remember on my own that I like Ellen Tracy perfume and don't need an empty bottle to remind me. If I haven't purchased more in three years, the bottle-as-a-reminder trick obviously isn't working. Recycle.

The Paloma Picasso perfume bottle with a quarter left, now that's a different story. I got that about 13 years ago and stopped using it about 12 years ago, which means that even if I wanted to use it now it'd probably smell pretty skunky, which is not something I typically strive for. Recycle.

Hmmm. What's this? Oh, yeah, the free sample of Clarins body scrub I received on a business conference last year. Well, it's never going to be used sitting on my vanity table, so that was relegated to the shower where it'll be tried tomorrow morning.

Oh, here are the post-operative instructions from my LASIK surgery, which are no longer necessary. Recycle.

Here's a tiny plastic elephant that came in a holiday popper pulled at a friend's house about two years ago. It's a little piece of yellow plastic crap, and it's now residing in my trash can. See ya.

And it went on from there. Good grief, it's amazing how much crap can accumulate just through daily living.

My question is, how do I keep this stuff from piling up to begin with? And when will I figure out that no matter how much crap I throw away or recycle, my suburban ranch will never, ever look like an open, airy Central West End condo?

I finally saw my first car wreath of the season this morning on the way in. It even had little mini-lights, which got me to thinking...are those battery powered? Do you have to turn on your wreath before you start driving your car? Because, to me, that alone makes it not worth it. Of course, I'm not the type of person to attach shrubberies to my car in any season so the battery issue is moot, but still. I'm a curious girl.

Monday, December 10, 2007


It's always fun to completely gross out your family when you're out to eat.

Yesterday we hit an upscale Chinese buffet (well, international buffet, really, as they have just about everything under the sun there) to celebrate a birthday. My first pass through the line was for typical stuff: chicken fried rice, crab rangoon, egg roll, that sort of thing. It was okay, but I wanted something different. So when I went back, I ventured into the unknown.

I got some chicken-and-sticky-rice that looked like it was wrapped in a big ol' square oak leaf and steamed, a spinach dumpling (Asian dumplings are completely different from American dumplings, just FYI), some other stuff that I can't remember, and then I got it.

It would be a small plastic cup filled with milky liquid with multi-colored spheres in the bottom. The sign said "Bulbb Tea," but it should have said "Bubble Tea." That's what happens when you have someone for whom English is a second language make your signs. I'm sure it was spelled correctly in the Asian version below.

I took my Bulbb Tea back to the table and asked everyone, "Hey, does anyone know what this is?" Shock, horror and disgust registered on almost everyone's face. "Oh my God, you're not going to drink that, are you?" "I saw that...what is it?"

Which, of course, was more than enough incentive for me to at least taste it.

It was good. It was beyond good. It was sweet and delicious and smooth. Mmmmmm. We finally found someone and asked what it was, and he didn't know (which typically isn't a good sign). He found someone else who mumbled incoherently something about tapioca, brown sugar and spices. This description was still not enough to assuage the fears of my tablemates, but I managed to get Jim (Winkler!) (because he insists on being identified by his full name) and Dan to at least try a couple of the little balls.

You bet your ass when we got home last night I googled "Bubble Tea." If you check out the Wikipedia definition, you'll see that Bubble Tea isn't anything scarily exotic or even remotely dangerous to your health, which is what nearly everyone I was with yesterday is firmly convinced of. A couple of people said, "You don't know what that's going to do to you!" to which I respond, "Look around. You're in a buffet with 600 food items made by people who don't speak English, and being self-served by 250 Americans with questionable don't know what any of this is going to do to you."

Bubble Tea, for those of you too lazy to click on the link up there, is basically a liquid version of tapioca pudding. The balls in the bottom are just jumbo tapiocas. Three cheers for M, Jim and Dan for venturing into the great food unknown with me yesterday. You guys are true manly men.

Shout out to my little sis for her birfday! Bing Bong Birfday Beanie! I love you!

Friday, December 07, 2007

I'm not ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille

Two of the most humiliating things for me (for most people, actually) are:

1. Having to watch yourself on TV. In front of other people.
2. Having to read something you wrote out loud. In front of other people.

I got to do both this morning at our staff meeting. Ugh. I should probably get over it, though, as I'm fairly positive my boss will make me repeat it two more times for our other locations' staff meetings.

It's not cool to have broken into a cold sweat before 9 a.m.

M's return to STL was delayed by foul weather in Chicago yesterday. Given how nasty it was here last night I'm rather glad he wasn't hurtling toward the ground from 30,000 feet in a tin can, though I was looking forward to seeing him again.

I've got the basement pretty much ready for tomorrow night. I'll just run the sweeper Saturday afternoon and we should be good to go. I think it's so cool that the more parties you throw, the easier it becomes, and the less you stress about it. Maybe I should apply that theory to watching myself on TV in front of other people.


Don't think so.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Entry

Okay okay okay. I get it. I need to post my entry here so you can read it. Sheesh. Ya'all are a demanding bunch. And to think, I actually started writing here, you know, for me. Now my legions of adoring fans have become like Britney's paparazzi. All two of you.

Here's my entry. I blanked the name of the company who sponsored the competition because, well, because I wanted to. I can't give everything away, you know.

Why does your salon/spa deserve a technology makeover?
Our spa is the technological equivalent of the VCR that flashes 12:00. We’re outdated and can’t even set the clock.

We are an incredibly successful spa despite our technology, certainly not because of it. Imagine what we might accomplish with the power of ____. Every single department, every single person, could work better and more efficiently with ____. Jobs would be easier, clients would be happier, and our company would be profitable.

We have three locations, and our current software (I use “software” liberally), doesn’t allow us to integrate the three locations. They all stand alone (much like the cheese). When clients call one location and we can’t schedule them, we have to (gasp!) tell them to hang up and call one of our other locations. This, obviously, is not good customer service. Booking multiple appointments for multiple clients becomes an exercise in futility for all but the most experienced of spa coordinators. Looking up data for different locations involves a complicated scheme of logging in and out of various systems using a myriad of IDs and passwords. By the time you get in, you don’t remember why you went in the first place.

Remember the television show Get Smart? All those doors Maxwell Smart had to go through? Our data is behind those doors, and we don’t have keys, combinations, or crowbars to get to it. We have tons of great client data locked up in our system, and we can’t get to it. In fact, no one can. Not even the people who wrote the software. Ironic, eh? Reports are skewed and inaccurate, causing enormous amounts of time in manually checking each record, just to do a simple mailing. Same for product control. Inventory is crazy; our purchaser counts products and literally runs from the retail area to her computer, yelling, “Don’t sell anything! Don’t sell anything!” along the way. This, obviously, is not conducive to increasing sales. A small price adjustment involves detailed planning, sleepless nights and early mornings, multiplied times three.

One of our goals this year has been to really monitor the performance of our service providers. Currently, we can’t without a ton of manual work. Reports are bulky and inaccurate, and many common metrics are missing altogether. Twice a month, our General Managers spend valuable time manually calculating payroll instead of developing their staff and networking in the community. For a spa of our size (155 employees), we really need something that will help us work smarter, not harder.

Hardware is another issue entirely. Just as an example, I, as marketing director, spend a lot of time fixing things like frozen screens and jammed printers. In fact, after this I’m tempted to dig into my own broken CD drive.

I became familiar with ____ last year at TSA and have been salivating for it ever since. Heck, if we win this, I’ll personally wear one of those nifty ____ football jerseys from TSA last year and run through the spa yelling, “Go ____!”

Note: The fine folks who awarded me the prize yesterday said they're putting my jersey in the mail.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I must write good

A couple of months ago my boss forwarded an e-mail to me. A software developer specializing in our industry and an industry publication were sponsoring a contest for a Technology Makeover. Essentially, they were offering a $10,000 technology prize to a salon or spa who, in 500 words, could prove why they deserved it.

"Do you think we should enter?" she wrote.

"Yup," I answered.

I've been pining for new software since I started because our existing software is so horrible it's not even worth writing about here. I won't bore you with the details. A conversion is, obviously, a lot of time and a lot of money, but when you can lop $10,000 off the top then there's a bit of an incentive to bite the bullet and do it.

I wrote my essay in about 10 minutes, then sat on it for weeks. I'd go back in and tweak this or that, mainly to get under the 500 word limit. Then, the day before it was due, I took a deep breath and sent it in.

That's when the pangs of doubt started. Was it too irreverent? Did it aptly convey just how much we need this new software? Are they going to look at us and say, "You can afford this on your own, we're not giving you anything. And you ought to be ashamed for trying."

The contest application said that the winners would be notified November 30. November 30 came and went, and there was no phone call, no e-mail. I was talking about it with our laser director this morning (who was also lamenting our current system and saying how much she'd like to have the new system) and I said, "Well, obviously, we didn't win. Because we were supposed to find out Friday and I haven't heard squat. Maybe we can try to build it into the budget next year."

Today, on the way to lunch with some colleagues, my cell phone rang. Crap, it's the spa. What freakin' marketing emergency has come up that you have to call me over lunch for? The spa coordinator said, "This guy is trying to get a hold of you, and he says it's an emergency...he said he's from _____." OMG. Give me the number. Give me the number now.

When I called back, the receptionist asked who I was and then put me on hold for 10 minutes. I found out later that they put me on hold to assemble their team in a conference room, so I could be put on speaker when I was told that we won. I'm pretty sure they started laughing when I screamed after they told me, and then laughed again when I said, "I think I'm gonna cry!"

Then I had the sheer joy of calling my boss (the CEO) and my CFO and telling them. They're out of town, but I could tell she was doing a happy dance over the phone. Nothing like winning a $10,000 prize to solidify your value to the company, eh?

I'm pretty sure I'm gonna sleep well tonight. That is, if I can calm down from the sheer excitement.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I now firmly believe that BCS does not stand for Bowl Championship Series. No, indeed, it stands for Big Crock of Shit. Which is what it is that Mizzou does not get a BCS bowl game despite their kick-ass season. Friggin' Kansas gets a BCS bowl game, despite being ranked lower than Mizzou, losing one more game than Mizzou, and, irony of all ironies, actually losing to Mizzou. I stand by my Tigers, and proclaim they'll always be number one in this alum's heart.

There are air duct cleaning folks here at the spa today, with all kinds of fun looking tools that are faintly reminiscent of the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. However, the guys look more like Nirvana grunge fans than Dick Van Dyke, which is rather disappointing.

I followed a woman on the way in to work today who has reindeer antlers attached to the driver and passenger windows on her SUV. This, to me, is just one notch above the people who stick wreaths on the grills of their cars during the holidays. Of course, now that I think about it, we'll probably become those people after M gets too old to scramble around on the roof and has to satisfy himself with decorating objects closer to the ground.

As if raising a child, working full-time, owning a home, putting 3,000 lights on our house and having 50+ people over for a big party aren't enough to keep us busy, we've officially begun the application process to start working on our MBAs. Yes, we're doing it concurrently. Yes, we know it's a lot of work. Yes, we're crazy, but we figure we're also smart enough to make it happen and now is as good a time as any. Classes start January 14. Sleep deprivation starts January 15.

M has the Grand Lighting Show nailed down, and has just a few minor details to attend before Saturday's party. I, however, have a basement of holiday cheer to put together. Thankfully I've done this enough times that I can get it cranked out in an evening or two. And with M in Rhode Island again this week, I'll have lots of spare time to work. At this point, I'm quite pleased that our Christmas cards are already in homes across the country. That alone is an accomplishment that I haven't been able to achieve until this year. Perhaps being so far ahead on those gives me hope that I'll be able to adequately manage my time and actually study for a Masters.

We have a new nail technician here at the spa, and as with all new service providers, she's doing complimentary services for a few weeks to learn our protocols and practice and gain confidence. Alas, I shall take one for the team and get a French Spa Manicure and Spa Pedicure today. It's a rough job, but someone's gotta do it.

M has grown by huge leaps and bounds in fatherhood, as evidenced by the fact that he didn't even wince when Zozo upchucked all over him after breakfast on Saturday. The old M would have not only recoiled in terror, he'd have started wretching himself. The new and improved M took it in stride, and so has earned the fatherhood equivalent of the Purple Heart: the Green Stomach.

Zoe spent of much of the weekend under the weather, which meant she also spent it in her mother's arms. As much as I want her to feel better, it was bliss just being able to hold my baby for any length of time again. Not so much the baby any more, though, which was reinforced by the added task of finding something to do with her long legs while I held her. We worked it out, though, and snuggled under cozy blankets all weekend.

Just a few disparate thoughts running through my addled brain this morning.