Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Summer School

Ah, here we are again with Fall looming down upon us. Like Jeremy Piven’s hairline, Fall disappeared for a bit, but it is now back with a vengeance. White is out, winter white is in. True Blood is over, Glee is finally here.

Always ahead of the ball, CVS has put out a smorgasbord of Halloween candy. (Apparently the general public needs a 45 day window to buy pumpkin shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups.) And as with every changing season, I tend to get a wee bit reflective.

In ruminating on Summer ’09, various memories stand out and it strikes me that each taught me a valuable life lesson. Of course most of them taught me a literal lesson, e.g., if you’re going to drink wine at a summer film festival, make sure to put the “empty” in your purse so it doesn’t roll past thirty rows of film critics during the silent lull right after the filmmaker asks the audience if there are any questions. However, a few summer events also provided greater insight.

My summer started off with an amazing trip to Lake Como, Italy. One of my dearest college friends, Erica, and her adorable husband Cory, invited me to join them for a week long stay at their friend’s summer house above the town of Menaggio. Amidst the breathtaking backdrop of the Lake surrounded by snow capped mountains and historic villas shrouded by lush gardens, I learned a plethora of lessons that I’ll never forget.

First, one should never, ever, EVER stay up till 4 a.m. drinking wine and smoking cigarettes the morning before a ½ day hike up a mountain (no matter how beautiful the fire or how charming the Italian). Trust me, despite a panoramic view that likely mirrors the one from God’s back deck (and tres cute hiking boots), the hike will fall on the pain meter somewhere above tromping through 10 miles of sand in too-tight stilettos and below, I don’t know, let’s say, natural child birth. (I also learned that you should always call your bank before you travel abroad and try to spend a mortgage payment at Furla.)
More importantly, Lake Como taught me that we all need to slow the hell down. Crikey. It took me 3 days of a 7 day trip to stop checking my work email and take off my watch. Why Americans do not embrace the 3 hour lunch, I’ll never know. And, as I’m sure Erica would agree, there are few, few things in life better than having a cappuccino and catching up with a friend. Of course it will taste better if you are sipping it in front of the Duomo in Como (with bags of gorgeous silk scarves at your feet), but a local coffee shop will work.

Summer marched onward, hours were lost at the office, and weekends were always too short, but on the horizon was a girls’ white water rafting trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My college group of friends and I are diligent about getting together. The six years since UNC Commencement Weekend 2003 (stop calculating my age and keep reading) have been filled with not only weddings and bachelorette parties, but numerous vacations just for the hell of it. This year was no exception. We decided we would trek up to Boone, NC to stay at Courtney’s in-laws’ cabin (read: 5 bedroom luxurious mountain resort equipped with chef’s kitchen, pool table, tiled baths, and wraparound porch) and try out white water rafting.

Before I even arrived in Boone, I learned two valuable lessons: 1) Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Cafes prohibit “erotic messages” on cookie cakes; and 2) apparently, “We Love White Water" constitutes an erotic message. (I learned this upon a phone call from NTCC that I stupidly answered while two co-workers were in my office, panicked when put on the spot for a back up message, and ended up with a cake declaring “Mountain Weekend 2009.” Quotation marks included). See FN1.

I learned the bigger lesson from “Mountain Weekend 2009” while on the Nolichucky River. After going on numerous whitewater rafting trips as a child and a few more as an adult, I pride myself on being a (somewhat) experienced rafter who certainly is not afraid of a little bit of water and some rocks. (Of coursed I missed no opportunity to tell my friends this sentiment.)

Indeed, the rapids were not the problem. The Nolichucky, however, is not one continuous rapid and it houses several flat plains that require more muscle than skill to navigate. While paddling down one such plane, I took the time to notice the peaceful mountain scenery, enjoy the sun on my skin, and think about the mother of all bloody marys I was going to make once we got back to the cabin.

Suddenly, quicker than a fat girl going skinny dipping, I was fully submerged in the water. I bobbed, bewildered, in the water looking up at my raft and back to the one behind me trying to figure out what had happened. There was nether a rapid nor a rock in sight. I had fallen out of the raft on a portion of the river that would have barely rocked baby Moses in his basket of reeds. (And even now, I cannot bring myself to write about the scene that was the river guide hauling me back into the raft.)

Yes, I learned to keep my ego in check. Better yet, I was reminded that even during the calm, peaceful times of life, you should brace yourself for the unexpected. It isn’t always the rapids that rock the boat and what will knock you on your ass (or cause your ass to be sticking in the air hanging over the side of a large inflatable raft) is typically the thing you don’t see coming.

But I have to say, the most valuable lesson I learned this summer happened during a Braves-Phillies game. A stroke of good luck (and a friend with good connections), gave me two tickets to the 2nd Braves-Phillies game, 20 rows behind home plate. However, the Braves had lost the first game in the series and a win that day seemed unlikely.

The first 2 hours of the game were a bit slow - the Braves scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 3rd which the Phillies answered with a run in the 4th and a run in the 5th. (I did learn during that time, however, that it is mighty hard to tomahawk and drink your Beam & Coke at the same time.) The Phillies scored another run at the top of the 7th. I made another drink and ate some peanuts in the 8th. The Phillies failed to score at the top of the 9th which put the Braves at bat needing 2. Garret Anderson had a leadoff single but the turning point occurred with Matt Diaz at bat. Diaz made a sacrificial bunt and a crazy turn of events occurred. The Phillies’ pitcher made a wild throw to first and the ball bounced into right field. Anderson raced from first to score the tying run, while Diaz made it to third. The crowd went nuts. Peanuts were flung, dip n’ dots went flying, and the tomahawks came out (I’m pretty sure I even put down my drink). In the midst of the frenzy, my friend Joel turned to me and screamed, “Diaz just bunted his way to 3rd!” I laughed incredulously and we went on to watch Omar Infante hit a single to left and Diaz score the game wining run.

The Braves beat the Philles, 4-3. And it all turned on a bunt. Diaz went up to bat fully expecting an out. He would sacrifice for the greater good. But then a series of events occurred that resulted in his feet running over home plate to win the game. It's hopeful, no? You never know what’s going to happen and you certainly won’t find out if you don’t step up to the plate. Even when the likelihood of failure is high, great success is still a possibility.

It's with this lesson in mind, that I post this entry. People may enjoy it or they may find it less palatable than fat free cheese. Regardless, it is highly doubtful that I’ll ever win a Pulitzer or write for the NY Times. Then again, you never know, every now and then, we all bunt our way to third.

FN1. For a thorough, historic examination of the cake decorator’s love of the quotation mark, see

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hold the Hummus

One of the many reasons I love my gorgeous but spunky friend *Raleigh is that she tends to look at situations with the same reckless abandon that I do. I emailed her on Monday knowing that V-day was looming down upon us and asked if she had any interest in getting sloshed and telling each other how fabulous we are. Within less than a minute she replied she would host, we were going out, and that there would be dancing. (Like I said, she rocks.) There would be no greasy take out/wine drinking in sweats while avoiding all things lovey-dovey for us; we planned to throw ourselves right into the middle of Cupid’s snow globe and shake that puppy up.

Pan to Valentine’s Day Night and I’m running late to meet Raleigh and the crew she’s assembled at 4th & Swift ,because I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to wear black tights, grey tights, or no tights, and I had a bit of an almost-emergency-room-worthy fiasco while applying a full strand of false eyelashes (I wanted to channel Audrey Hepburn, not look like a caterpillar had crawled on to my face, started spinning its cocoon on my eyelid, and gave up mid-spin to take a nap). Fortunately there is very little that a quick leg shave in the kitchen sink and a vat of Vaseline can’t fix.

I hit a stoplight and take the opportunity to take a deep breath and smooth my hair. I look over to my left and peer at the woman in the passenger seat of the car next to me. She looks miserable. I lean forward to get a look at her beaux (I’m ridiculously nosy like that) and as I suspected, he looks miserable too. Both are starring straight ahead with stony expressions and seem to be desperately trying to teleport themselves somewhere else. I imagine she is cold and frigid in bed and he is taking her out to dinner solely so people at the office won’t think he is a total schmuck. (I also bet that they are listening to Michael Bolton and will order hummus as an appetizer at dinner.) (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a girl that loves a good blob of hummus, but seriously. Yawn.)

The light changes and I eventually find 4th & Swift, warm and welcoming, tucked up on a cozy hill off North across from City Hall East. As I’m dashing in the place (making sure that my dress is not tucked up inside my panties like that one time at the airport), I can’t help but think of the couple in the car and how the ice woman probably would never show up anywhere by herself on Valentine’s Day evening. Even though she looked miserable, I ashamedly wonder if the convenience and reliability of a relationship might be worth it. Would I trade the unpredictability and uncertainty that comes from being single for a guaranteed, but perhaps miserable, hummus-filled relationship?

I’m unable to ponder for long because as soon as I walk into the restaurant, I spot Raleigh amidst the most gorgeous group of people in the entire place. (Have I told you how much I love Raleigh?) There is sweet, adorable Maggie who is the youngest of the group coming in at the ripe old age of 25 and maintaining that level of hopeful naiveté that is appropriate for her age. Then there is Klein, good looking and cocky but refreshingly honest and entertaining (it isn’t until halfway through dinner, after asking Maggie and Raleigh, I discover I have given him a European accent that is typically coupled with such confidence even though he doesn’t actually have one). Raleigh excitedly explains that Klein is “hungry like the wolf” and that we will certainly get to see him in action later in the night. Sloan, Raleigh’s cousin visiting from NYC, is tall, dark and stylish with porcelain skin, a brilliant smile, and easy laugh. I can tell immediately that she is an old soul like me. (I am certain that the eerie ability to recognize a soul like your own is a documented scientific phenomenon). Sloan wins further points in my book when she tells us that she has left her boyfriend back in the City so she can hang with Raleigh for the weekend (my kind of girl). Oh and of course, there is handsome, polite Charlie who cannot get a word in over me, Raleigh and Klein, but who laughs a lot with genuine sincerity and has a mischievous sparkle in his eye. We guffaw through dinner and dessert, telling ridiculously honest stories – one of those rare occasions where the entire group takes an immediate liking to one another – and it feels like we are old friends catching up with one another. Sometime between the first two bottles of wine, my martini, and third mojito, we decide to take the party to the W Midtown.

The W is a bit tame and the DJ leaves a lot to be desired, but we make the best of it. Klein orders a round of mojitos (my kind of guy) and dancing ensues (including my own personal performance to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” which interestingly goes - "don't bring me down... gross" and not "don't bring me down...bris" ). There are lots of laughs, a little bit of grinding, and we are all feeling pretty swell about life. Our special misfit V-day group is so entertaining and magnetic even Klein doesn’t go on the prowl (the wolf will have to be fed another night).

Not feeling quite ready to go home, and time pressured by Fulton County’s 2 a.m. booze cut off, we decide to head back to Raleigh’s for a night cap. I mix up a drink I call “bartender’s disgrace” which consists of stoli vanilla, some other clear liquor, pineapple mango juice, and frozen strawberries (the thought of which now makes me dry heave), and we proceed to continue our discussion from dinner on love, relationships, and sex. I imagine we are what would result if one merged the editing scraps from Sex and The City Season One and Reality Bites.

Charlie (who has avoided “bartender’s disgrace” like it was a glass of hot lard and has been pounding waters) senses the party is nearing its finale (I think Raleigh’s light snoring from the couch is a huge clue) and announces he is going to head home. He graciously agrees to drop me off on the way. On the short drive to my house, Charlie finally has the opportunity to speak. We talk about breakups and how being single is really quite awesome when you think about the terrible alternatives that are out there. I get out of the car thinking about how often it is the quiet ones that have the most to say.

As I enter my condo, greeted by dancing puppies, I smile at the stack of presents my mama has sent me for the holiday, and I laugh at the hysterical text message my best friend Katie sent earlier in the evening. I think about the amazing night I’ve just had and I know the resounding answer to my question. There are not enough candy hearts, rose petals or dinner reservations in the world to make me trade places with the ice woman (there may be enough Lindt truffles but that ruins the metaphor).

Maybe there is such as thing as the best of both worlds, but for now, hold the hummus; the single life is hard to beat.

*All names have been changed to ensure that people will continue to hang out with me despite my love of blogging about our escapades.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A is for Asheville

I realize that I do not necessarily have the golden touch that Oprah does (I still can't get my mama to read the last book I recommended.) And the last time I checked, swarms of people did not descend upon Craft in Atlanta because I ate there a few weeks ago. However, I'm so delighted with my first vacation spot of '09, it would be a shame to hide it under a bushel (who knows, you may read something here that lights a fire under your hiny, forces you to stop checking the balance of your 401K, and motivates you to take your own little mini-break).

Over MLK weekend, I met my best friend, Katie, and some of our Charlotte gal pals in Asheville, North Carolina.

Along with San Francisco, Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Wrightsville Beach, Italy, and anywhere with white sand and turquoise waters, Asheville is on my "I could live here" list. (Atlanta is on that list when the traffic doesn't make me want to stick my head in a cannon and I don't have to listen to old white men pontificate on the non-existence of racism, or watch overly-large women roam around in ridiculously tight pants plastered with Gucci logos).

Asheville is refreshingly laid back and full of splendid haunts:
  1. Barkwells. Holy smokes. Barkwells is doggy heaven on Earth. It is a mountain resort where every cabin has its own fenced in back yard, a doggy gated porch, and a doggy door for canine access into the interior (and a hot tub. for humans). Your pup has miles and miles to roam free and unlike here in Midtown were my bitchy neighbor complains every time a dog barks in a 3 mile radius of her unit, no one cares if your dogs gleefully bark every now and then. Here's a pic from the Barkwell's website that captures the spirit of the place perfectly.

(I mean Gatsby was so excited about the place, he humped uncontrollably all weekend. )

And as Katie, who is not a pet owner (yet) pointed out, she'd go to Barkwells even if dogs weren't invited to her mountain party. The cabins are nice (like granite counter top, flat screen tv, and hardwood floors throughout nice) and reasonably priced. We even rigged our cabin so we could watch the Carolina game from the hot tub. (Can you say sweet?) It's just a 3 hour drive from Atlanta and a 2 hour drive from Charlotte, people! We're definitely going back when white-water rafting season hits (and bringing more wine so we don't have to make 3 grocery store runs).

2. Mayfels. We headed into town to brunch (it's a verb now, didn't you know?) at Tupelo Honey, but as it had been almost a full 2 hours since we last ate, we decided not to endure the 45 minute wait there and beboped the 10 feet over to Mayfel's instead (such a good move).

What a great spot. The food was delish (I opted for the omelet special and then drooled over the french toast the girl next to us had ordered) and the decor in the place was incredibly charming. Vintage china rimmed the walls and kooky crystal chandeliers dripped down from the ceiling.

And a wonderfully wacky wire sculpture divided the dining area from the hostess stand/server's station/kitchen window.

Barkwells and Mayfel's alone are worth the drive, but of course while you're up there you should hit up the Biltmore Estate, hike the arboretum, visit the slew of independent restaurants and bars that line the streets of downtown Asheville, and check out the art galleries showing local and national talent. I can be pretty critical (shocker), so trust me on this one kids. Asheville is a perfect mini-break. I came back from the weekend more mellow than a John Mayer song. If I could bottle up the spirit of Asheville and drink it on my lunch break, I would. But alas, I can't. So instead, I'll blog about it and remind myself that mini-breaks are under-rated and that Asheville is right up the road.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Janus and the Revolving Door

The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. The early Roman calendar used March 1 as New Year's Day but Julius Caesar changed the calendar to coincide with the seasons and named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of gates, doors and beginnings. Janus had two faces, one looking forward, the other backward. The Romans pictured Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new, and New Year's Day symbolized remembering the lessons of the previous year while vowing to improve the current.

I tend to favor this more open-ended way of looking at the New Year and Its Resolutions. Every year I have three categories of resolutions: 1) Never ending stories; 2) I-really-mean-its; and 3) revolutions.

Never Ending Stories

Never ending stories are not so much resolutions as they are values and principles in which I believe and on which I have to concentrate and practice. They are not goals one can perfect in 365 days and then move on.

For example, I was in Mac’s liquor store the other day (shocker) and the clerk asked a gentleman in front of me about his New Year’s Resolution. The man replied that his goal for 2009 is to be a better husband. I couldn’t help but wonder if that meant he could be an asshole again in 2010. (I also couldn’t help but think that the man was getting awfully personal with the liquor store clerk. Personally, I tend to answer this question from strangers by saying something bland like “I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on” or by being ironic – like here I would have said “give up booze.” But hey, to each his own.)

That said, I do see the importance of reviewing my never ending stories ever year and reminding myself of my weaknesses. For example I need keep in better touch with family and old friends (other than my mama, who would be the next guest on Nancy Grace if I ever went 2 days without talking to her, and my best friend Katie whom I tend to stalk). Also, I’m continuously working on controlling my temper, and I’d like to one day be the type of person that spends more time outdoors than in. Although I’ve realized that only so many people in your life are obligated to love you regardless of how many times you go stunningly bitchy on them, and that spray-tanning while taking vitamin D is not the same as going to the park, I still need to put these lessons into practice. I also would like to get and stay buff. (I wish pushing a buggy around Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s looking for vegan cookies was considered a work out). Even if I greatly improve in these areas, I’ll always have to work at them; they are never ending stories (and yes, for those of you who have seen the movie, I do wish Bijou could fly so then I could call her Falcor).

I Really Mean It

The “I really mean it” pile is limited to those resolutions that I whole-heartedly intend to keep and turn into habits. Previous years’ “really mean-ers” have been 1) stop dating complete tools I’m not interested in just so I have someone to call/text when I’m bored (which unfortunately dried up the dating pool like Atlanta Summer ’07 on Lake Lanier); 2) travel more (I can go anywhere on Dramamine); and 3) be more friendly to strangers (especially good looking ones that don’t appear to need spare change or legal advice). Here are 2009’s resolutions that qualify for this category:

1) Blog more. Yes, I realize I made this resolution in August, September, October, November and December ‘08, but like a good chemical peel, 2009 is going burn off the failures of 2008. I will stop putting off my blog like a trip to the OBGYN and will write prolific, soul-wrenching prose regularly (read: will write down my self-absorbed opinions on life with greater frequency rather than just think them).

2) Avoid meat and dairy. Now this resolution stems from my great idea in November to go Vegan (after reading Skinny Bitch and watching a bunch of PETA undercover footage from slaughterhouses). However, I quickly realized, as many predicted, that such a lifestyle was as practical for a girl like myself as a Kitchen Aid (which has been used once in two years - when my parents came down for Thanksgiving and my mama made homemade yeast rolls). Let’s be honest, I will always believe in wearing and sitting on leather; I cannot deny that the fried goat cheese balls at Ecco are nirvana for my taste buds; and I have a love affair with cheeseburgers. So this resolution is a watered down version of going vegan. I know, I know, this is like being kinda preggors, or “dating other people” instead of “breaking up.” But I hear that by going totally vegan, a person can save 90 animals a year. I figure that if I switch to eating cheeseburgers on rare occasions instead of days that end in y, and give Almond Breeze a try, I can save almost 30.
3) Figure out what "Twitter" is.

I believe I can conquer these three goals in 2009 with monumental success which is part the reason why they are on my list. I mean a girl needs a few resolutions she knows she can keep and accomplish; otherwise she may as well just title her list “future failures.” And, let’s be honest, I have enough failure in my life that I don’t see coming; I don’t need to create opportunities for it to thrive.

Shame on Me

This brings us to my “Shame on Me” category. I think of the objectives in this bucket as “revolutions.” These are the goals that creep into my new year, year after year (along with a bad hangover) because, without good reason, I did not accomplish them the prior year. My top five revolutions are 1) learn how to play golf, 2) write a novel, 3) open a savings account, 4) learn Italian, and 5) get a Georgia Driver’s License.

2009 is no exception. I haven’t learned that owning a set of clubs and a golf bag does not a golfer make, nor do I really understand why one needs a savings account if she has credit cards. I’m taking great strides towards number 2 and yes I realize that number 5 is relatively easy. (But dude, the line at the DMV is longer than the Apple Store check out line during Christmas.)

However, I’m going through the revolving door with great resolve this year – 2009 could be the year I actually enter the lobby of Hotel Self Satisfaction. (The porter can bring in all my baggage later.) And if I can’t make it out of the door, and I enter 2010 only knowing “ciao bella,” well then, Janus can kiss it and I’ll keep on revolving.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bootcamp and Bibles and Bangs! Oh my!

I am now the proud owner of 5 Barry’s Bootcamp Hollywood Fat Blaster DVD’s©, 1 Code Red Emergency Fat Blasting DVD, an inflatable fat blasting weight bench/exercise ball, 2 fat blasting resistance bands, 1 fat blaster work out calendar, a fat blaster tape measure, a nifty fat blaster spiral progress journal, and a (crappy) fat blaster plastic foot pump that inflates said weight bench/exercise ball in the same amount of time that it would take me to blow up a Macy’s Day Parade float with nothing but my lungs and a straw. (Never mind that the inflatable weight bench/exercise ball is no longer inflatable because Bijou attacked it like it was the dog next door wrapped in bacon. I’ll bet the farm that Barry will send me another if I order the butt blaster DVD.)

I wish I could say that I was the owner of Barry’s Fat Blaster kit because my mama bought it for me at Costco and mailed it to me without my permission. Unfortunately, however, I am privy to this little “secret of the stars,” because I forgot the first step of Shopaholics Anonymous – “Admitting I am powerless over Infomercials (and QVC) (and HSN).” Normally, I do not even let the TV pause on said channels but on one particularly horrendous Saturday, I was too lazy (i.e. hungover) to dig the remote out of the couch so I could change the channel. Instead, I became hypnotized by Barry and his army of Barbie soldiers wearing skimpy spandex outfits on national TV without shame or embarrassment. An hour and a half and a box of cheez-it’s later, I was drafted up to Barry’s battalion. I refused to even entertain the possibility that after 30 days of Barry’s intense bootcamp sessions and his easy diet tips (and 3 easy payments of $14.95) that I wouldn’t have the body of Jessica Alba. There was no turning back. I hopped online and ordered that kit like it was on the menu at Sonic.

Now that the Fat Blasting kit actually is in my possession, I’m slowly coming out of my infomercial euphoria. I’m wondering how 6 DVD’s still wrapped in cellophane and a giant pile of deflated rubber wet with dog slobber are going to do anymore for me than my $60 a month gym membership and Publix frequent shopper card can do. However, it has not ended up in the closet with the chocolate fountain, Gazelle, and aero garden so I guess we can say the jury is still out. I’ll be sure to let you know when there is an actual verdict. For now, I’m dvr-ing everything from CSI Las Vegas to The Wonder Years and making sure to always return the remote to its proper place on the coffee table.

But hold the phone, Barry’s fat blasting arsenal is not the only new item in my life. My library now contains the Holy Bible! Now, to prevent this post from sounding like a bad tent revival testimonial, I’ll briefly state that while I’m not new to the whole Christianity thing, the path of my 20’s has not been illuminated with a Jesus lamp, or even a Jesus night light. However, I recently decided that although I adamantly take issue with many of the beliefs allegedly incorporated into Christianity (i.e. women have no right to say what happens inside their own bodies, gays are an abomination, and to hell with anyone that doesn’t believe in Jesus), I maintain an inexplicable and unshakable belief in God (even during 2005 when I claimed to be an agnostic) (I think mostly I said that because the word itself sounds hip and intellectual and like it should be on the SAT). In other words, there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water – I can believe in God while I figure the rest of it out. I realize that this may not sit well with some of you, and well, I guess you can shove off. Start your own blog and then you can write all about your views on religion.

Anyway, having made this new resolution about 9 months ago, I decided I was ready to start exploring the great religious abyss and agreed to join a Bible study with my friend (whom we shall call “Guru” until I obtain permission to use her real name). I believe that Guru felt that the Bible study would be particularly attractive to me because it is about a book in the Old Testament – the early part of the Bible that I find historically fascinating. Maybe I was in a joining mood and still on my infomercial high, or maybe as my new co-counsel friend would say, it was providential. Whatever the case, I told Guru I was in.

Of course then I immediately freaked out. Not only had I not placed a pinky toe inside a Bible study since 10th grade, but I didn’t even own a Bible. I was in panic – and not just a regular “oh man I put away the ice cream in the refrigerator instead of the freezer again” kind of panic, but a “hurricane is a’comin’ - time to go buy milk and bread” type of panic. Buying the Bible was not so much the problem as was figuring out how to make a brand spankin’ new Bible look old, worn, poured over, and studied in a matter of days. I immediately wondered if it was sacrilegious to run a Bible over with a car. Or perhaps I could wrap the Bible in a rubber band and oil it down like I once did with a softball glove (yeah, I’m not quite sure why I was in a softball league either). Regardless, there was NO WAY I was showing up at that Bible study with a Bible still smelling of cellophane and looking like it had been read as much as a Bible that sits in the nightstand of a hotel that rents by the hour. I mean that’s like showing up at the gym wearing bright white sneakers.

The stress of the situation immobilized me until the Sunday morning before the Bible study when I awoke in such frenzy that I accidentally flung Bijou off the bed and then realized that Bible stores probably aren’t open on Sundays. Dang. Oh but lo and behold, after a quick google, I discovered that Barnes & Nobles definitely carries the number one selling book in the world and it is definitely open on Sundays. 2 hours later I sat Indian style (which I can do authentically because I am 1/16 Cherokee) in the “Religion & Spiritual” section of B&N amidst a sea of Bibles humming “the B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.” Who knew that there were some many Bible varietals? I mean there were women’s Bibles, men Bibles, study Bibles, pet owner’s Bibles (yes I was tempted), large print Bibles, pocket Bibles, Catholic Bibles, new believers Bibles, and one Bible even came with wall posters and stickers (I had to put it back twice). At first I contemplated a serious looking King James Bible but then decided at this stage of the game, I’d better let someone else interpret for me. Then I turned to a cotton candy pink Bible, but rationalized that since I wasn’t a 13 year old girl with a perm and an airbrushed license plate that said “Misty,” that I’d better leave it on the shelf. I ultimately decided on a New International Version study Bible with a British tan and caramel (faux) crocodile cover and pages with gold leaf edges. (I’ll get my name engraved later). I also picked up some Bible highlighters, Old and New Testament index tabs, and an all-purpose book mark/magnifier. (Like a boy scout, I’m always prepared.) And as my mama informed me, my $80 Bible is so pretty that fellow Bible studiers will think I cherish it and wrap it in parchment paper every night to maintain its pristine and reverent condition. (I’m going to highlight some random passages for good measure).

*Note – I also now sport some serious bangs but they don’t really warrant the emphasis of a full mention in the post. I really just needed a third thing to round out the title.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The San Francisco Treat

So I come to you tonight wearing my shame face (and pajama pants and ratty tank top). Maybe I should draft a boilerplate apology paragraph and paste it at the beginning of every post. However, I certainly don’t want to commence each post with an apology. I mean that would kinda be like dating a jackass – you start off every date with him apologizing for something he did so you can get into the actual date and enjoy yourself. And dear readers, I am no jackass and I don’t want you to look back at your time on this blog with bitter regret. I’ll start posting more regularly. So keep visiting and subscribing. I vow to never promise to take you to Olive Garden and then not show up or call.

Part of the reason why this post came slower than Christmas is because I went on a mini break to San Francisco. And when you are going to be out of the office on a Friday, everyone likes to make you pay during the prior four days. (Yeah, I think that’s fuzzy math too.)

Because I had such a wretched work week, I paid the $49.99 to upgrade my coach seat to business class. Lest you call me a princess, I’ll explain that a business class seat on Airtran is basically a coach seat on Delta with a free bottomless glass of wine and snack options other than pretzels (still a few levels below air travel nirvana).

Plus, the flight ended up being painful anyway because the stewardess/flight attendant/terribly dressed person that is supposed to quash riots when the tomato juice runs out was cranky. It isn’t my fault she didn’t listen when I told her to bring those single serving wine bottles Noah’s Ark style (that’s in two’s for you those of you who missed out on vacation Bible school). And how was I to know that my purse strap was sticking out in the aisle creating a booby trap for her and her wheelie cart causing her to spill hot coffee on herself? There was no need for her to take her polyester-wedgie-induced frustration out on me (refusing to look and see if there were more pita puffs was just mean and spiteful).

To add salt to the wound, the guy next to me was reading a book about grief and mortality, and kept looking at me like he wanted to talk. No sir. That convo is going nowhere good. Did he think I looked like I knew how to deal with grief and mortality? I was doped up on Dramamine, downing “free” glasses of wine, and reading OK Magazine (I had already read all the US Weekly’s on the stand). I think he got the hint when I passed out with my mouth open murmuring about how John Mayer is a prick.

The silver lining to this cloud is that once I touched down in San Fran, everything was sweeter than Mrs. Butterworth. San Francisco is quite possibly the hippest city on the planet. Even people’s dogs are hip. (A mutt at the music festival rolled over and showed me the “peace, love & scraps on the floor” tattoo on his belly.) Despite myself, I bought two newsboy hats, moccasins, and a pair of bright red thrift store sunglasses (which now unfortunately belong to a cute guy I met). I drank coffee and walked Union St. with Steph, my friend and roommate from law school (I blame the hats on her). My childhood friend Melissa and her rocker husband, Brent, took me to the Mission where I asked an Italian chef to make us gnocchi with meat ragu even though it wasn’t on the menu (it was delish and followed by tiramisu on the house). We listened to great live music in Golden Gate Park and sat on blankets in some other park watching the dogs run. We talked about life and our jobs and how you can’t put a price tag on being happy. I even ate falafel. And yeah, we drank from sunup to sundown. (I plead the 5th on whether we did anything else.) But I have to admit that the highlight of the trip occurred when I saw the Seven Sisters in Alamos Square (aka the townhouses from the opening credits of Full House).

Just like a pudding cup, the weekend ended with me wanting more. I almost cried when I got off the redeye here in Atlanta, felt the 5 a.m. 90 degree humidity smack me in the face, and saw that chubby woman wearing confederate flag shorts.

But to keep myself from trying to slit my wrists with a legal pad, I’ve decided not to leave my heart in San Francisco. I'm going to embrace my inner independent spirit and let the artsy schfartsy side of me roam free. There is no reason why I can’t don my newsboy hat and meander down Peachtree Street with a cup of coffee. And there are a slew of bands in East Atlanta and Little Five Points waiting to be discovered by an ex-sorority girl in leggings and flats. I can head to Piedmont Park with a blanket, a bottle of wine, my journal, and a beret if I want. I can be a San Fran hippy right here in the 30309.

Of course, I will have to be a San Fran hippy that puts on $100 face cream at night and buys handbags that are worth more than the GDP of Yemen. And I will never be one of those vegan hippies. Last time I checked, no one throws squash on a pig cooker, douses it in bbq sauce and calls it a Gourd Pickin'. But I think the fact that I don't shave my legs everyday makes up for all that. And don't tell, but I actually really like falafel.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Raise Hell Over Summer

I realized something completely disturbing the other day while I was driving home from work. For whatever reason (read: due to my obsession with celebrity gossip and chronic procrastination during the day), I worked late at the firm and it was past midnight before I drove home. I was driving from Buckhead back to Midtown with the windows rolled down when I realized that even though I didn’t have the A.C. blaring at Artic temperatures, I wasn’t sweating like a fat kid at camp. The outside air was downright pleasant – a small miracle in Atlanta. And it hit me; summer is almost over. I half expected a single yellow leaf to drop from one of the trees and float into my car – Mother Nature’s little messenger.

No, I’m not getting all sentimental about the end of summer. I’ve always been a girl that digs fall. I think it is partly because my Grandma used to do color consultations and she insisted I was an autumn despite my affinity for hot pink. I didn’t really get the whole color consultation thing at age 7 and thought it meant I looked good during autumn months rather than in autumnal colors. Plus, I’ve always been a nerd and looked forward to going back to school when I was young. (As an only child, my favorite game to play with my stuffed animals was school – of course I was the teacher. Oh, and once my grandpa gave me one of his old brief cases and you would have thought he gave me a Barbie hot wheel. I also had a poster of Sandra Day O’Connor in my room; I was an odd kid.) Anyway, I loved fall because it meant it was time to buy new school supplies. I think I fainted in Wal-Mart the day I discovered that
Lisa Frank designed her own line of trapper keepers.

My realization that summer is almost over is disturbing because I hardly realized it was here. I am so old and boring; summer came and went quicker than a box of chocolates in a sorority house. How did this happen? Except for attending a bbq or two and leaving the firm early on Fridays because all the partners were out of the office and having “family time,” I hardly commemorated summer at all. I don’t think I even had a cob of corn all season. (I plan to rectify the corn horror this week). Sure, I made Bijou wear her pink summer collar with the green palm trees embroidered on it, and I went tubing down the ‘Hooch with a bag of Franzia (for you non-Georgians, “Hooch” is short for Chattahoochee, as in the river whose muddy water holds a special place in Alan Jackson’s heart), but I certainly didn’t celebrate summer like I used to.

Back in the day, before the purple ink saying “Raise Hell Over Summer” (RHOS when our hands got tired) could dry in our yearbooks, my friends and I were driving to the lake and trying to get the clerk at Seven-Eleven to sell us Bud Light and Boone’s Farm. Sometimes we’d get lucky and the clerk would hand over some libations, but usually we’d end up raiding our parents’ liquor cabinet. At my house, where the bottles were marked with a sharpie for this very reason, we could only drink clear liquors because they didn’t turn a funky color when you filled them back up with water. But it was ok because you know what’s clear? Vodka. I tended to be the mixologist of the group since I had been making and leaving “Santa” a bourbon and coke on Christmas Eve every year since I was six. From what I recall, bourbon and peach schnapps aren’t bad when mixed with iced tea, although, our booze palates probably were not very discernible back then (I mean we also drank Bartles & James and Zima).

Summer days were spent at the pool, the lake and each others’ houses. My friend Megan and I made just about every type of milkshake imaginable in the old lime green blender her parents received as a wedding present (until I left a metal spoon down in the bottom causing it to blow up all over the kitchen), and we drove hundreds of miles on country roads smoking Marlboro Ultra Lights with the windows down blaring Indigo Girls (even though the boys made fun of us and called it “lesbo music”).

When we were old enough to have summer jobs, we waited tables and worked as camp counselors but once we clocked out, there was always a party somewhere – at the boat dock, the house of the kid whose parents were out of town (including my own), or the cul-de-sac of the new neighborhood no on lived in yet (hey, I wasn't born a city girl). I’m still amazed at the ability of sixteen year old boys to collect kegs and whisky like baseball cards.

I’m not sure when it changed. No doubt my college summers were great to; I traveled Europe, interned in D.C. and lived at the beach with my best friend. But even those summers didn’t have the carefree innocence of those early country summers when the season seemed never ending. My summers since college certainly became more serious and short. Through law school I worked for the Government and law firms, and then studied for the bar (the latter being the worst summer in history causing me to seriously contemplate moving to the Bahamas and making banana leaf hats for a living).

Now summer seems to be a season that only kids enjoy and well, maybe people with kids (if you call taking 3 toddlers to the beach with 14 bags, an umbrella, 3 coolers, 7 floats, water wings, and a boogie board, enjoyment). The only reason that I, a single working adult, even know that it’s summer is because it’s so hot my knees sweat and sometimes my waitress isn’t old enough to serve me booze.

I just started to get tan and into a summer swing when I got stuck behind a school bus. And tonight, it took me twice as long to run into the Publix down the street to buy Smart Water and Cinnamon Toast Crunch (breakfast and dinner of champions) because I share it with all of Georgia Tech’s returning population (but it was entertaining to see frat guys realizing that dude, steak is way more expensive than hot dogs). Summer came and disappeared like a fart in the wind.

I think this is a dang shame. So tonight, just for the fun of it, I bought some peach ice cream and enjoyed a cup (ok, a bowl) on my balcony. I even blared a little Indigo Girls while mentally daring my neighbors to complain. And even though the ice cream was no Oreo-chocolate-peanut butter-banana milkshake, I started to sing loud enough for the people on the sidewalk to hear, and for just a minute, I felt like I was raising hell over summer.