Monday, October 31, 2005

"Anyway you say it, it sounds dirty." -- Lrudlrick on people loving his wife's pie.

What a weekend, folks. If not for the traffic and the milling of a million and one people, I would have thought I was in Stars Hollow. Clearly the organizer felt the same because she accidentally called our local food mart, Doosie’s Market.

The Autumn children’s festivities were bigger than I had imagined. Kids I had never seen before crawled out of the woodwork. By the way, dragons are this year’s popular costume. There is something about kids wearing talon spats that makes me giggle.

The highlight of the weekend, aside from watching the Z-girl freak out over the lighted pumpkins in the garden was the pie contest.

There were tons of pies. Custards, fruit pies, meat pies. You name it, it was there.

I’ll tell you the hardest part of the pie contest wasn’t developing the recipe or baking the pie or even watching the judges. It was transporting the bloody thing. You know how professional chefs make a big deal about transporting a 50 lb tiered cake 3 feet to a display table? They are so right.

First of all, my pie was a heavy pie. 5 pears filled my double crust pie. Add the weight of the ceramic pie plate, the pizza baking sheet I used to transfer it and the plastic dome I covered the pie with to ensure a renegade leaf wouldn’t blow into it made my pie feel like a stack of bricks.

After the pie crust fiasco of pie #4, I realized that I had to be very careful moving this pie. Nothing and I meant nothing could hit the sides of the plate. As I gingerly walked to the display table, several men commented on how tasty the pie looked. I thanked them and asked them politely to run defensive tackle against the children that were running to and fro.

I signed in and the lady immediately showcased my pie on the highest stand in the center of the table. “That’s a good sign” said my husband. Like a true dork, I began taking photos of all the pies submitted. Hey, it was my first cooking contest. Cut me some slack. At least I stopped myself from having my picture taken with the pie arched at a 45 degree angle.

Lrudlrick and I started commenting on our dislike of cream pies when we tried to decipher the design on a custard pie. My husband and I were short of mocking the pie when one of the volunteers noted it was an entry in the kid’s division.

The silence between my husband and I was deafening. Now, we weren’t making fun of the pie but heck, we could have been a bit nicer. If I were to lose simply on the fact I couldn’t figure out that was a sun design on the pie, I knew it was karma deserved.

For the rest of the event, my husband and I hovered around the pie contest like vultures waiting for their meal to kick the bucket. Occasionally we’d watch the judges taste and nod approvingly. Lrudlrick tried to lean in to hear the discussions.

Finally, I realized that we were taking this contest a little too seriously and left to grab lunch and a hot chocolate. As we ate our lunches, images of me turning the table over and going Hulk in front of hundreds of kids dressed as Elmo and Tigger came rushing through our brains. I nearly choked on my sandwich. We both laughed. Lrudlrick and I became more elaborate with my reactions. In one scenario, every profanity known to man in English and Cantonese spewed out of my mouth. In another, I threw a pie at the winning baker which led to a pie fight worthy of a Three Stooges flick.

In the end, they announced my name and even though it was a silly local pie contest, it felt good to win. Sure, I could have gotten up to the mike and said, “I am the greatest! There can only be one! All you other bakers aren’t worth a baker’s dozen!” But I felt it more dignified to smile and thank the judges.

My pie sold out like hotcakes afterwards and my husband left carrying my empty pie plate mockingly stating that he was going home with the area's best pie. Lrudlrick began boasting about my ten minutes of fame and how it warranted my picture being hung in the local market and getting the best seat in the house at our local restaurant.

Dreams of stocking my pies at the local restaurant developed and Lrudlrick had the twinkle he always gets when he thinks his dream of being a stay at home dad can finally come true. Like a true first place champion that’s pronounced ‘chom pea on’, I spent the rest of the night doing what a master baker get your mind out of the gutter would do, I cleaned my kitchen. Remnants of the numerous pies baked and tested were put away. The kitchen has returned to normal, at least for the next few weeks before Turkey day.

Thanks goes to Matt for recommending I sign up for the contest. Matt, chestnut season is here so I’ll start working on those Capezzoli di Venere. If you’re interested in becoming my manager in the local pie contest circuit, drop me a line. This week, the Five Borough Bakeoff! Next week, the world! Ok, maybe Westchester county.

Oh and if anyone from the Food Network is reading this, I’m open to a reality based program where you follow me as I enter local contests. Forget those impossible $10,000 cooking contests. Let’s get real. I’ll take a gift certificate to the local Chinese takeout any day. Lrudlrick and I have already worked on our pitch. Call me!

The Evolution of Pie


Pie1: Too much ginger


Pie2: Too much lemon


Pie3: Still too lemony


Pie4: Post-topping and crust casualty


Pie5: First place prize winning!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Adults should be able to trick or treat for cash prizes.

L: “Here’s the invitation to the costume party.”
pg: “It’s tonight and it’s a theme.”
L: “Yeah.”

Why do men wait until the absolute last minute to tell you things?
Now, I’m trying to figure out what to wear. Obviously, trying to make a couple oriented themed costume is not doable. The theme is gangsta pimp/ho. My idea of pimp and tranny, didn’t fly. Personally, I’d think it would be a great costume but others, mainly the man who would have to dress like a tranny, didn’t.

Every Halloween, I try to dress up. I usually plan it in advance. This year, I have no plans whatsoever. I’ve been busy with so many other things that it’s the least on my mind. Usually, I try to dress up the front door and the foyer for the kids but again, Mothra has not crept in.

I think the real issue is that Halloween falls on a Monday this year. It’s hard to get excited about Halloween on a work night.

I believe I’ve officially hit that adult phase in life where all holidays have a dollar sign linked to it. Halloween = cash for candy, costumes, decorations. Easter = cash for candy, food and decorations.

Usually, by now, I’ve stock piled a ration of candy to keep the kids in my building on a sugar rush for days. I have three days before Halloween and I have one semi eaten bag of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Nuggets with Almonds. Most kids don’t usually like dark chocolate, right?

Tomorrow, after my doctor’s appointment and before the Halloween festivities for the kids, I’m going to haul butt to Duane Reade and weed through the picked through for some decent candy.

Do you remember when you went trick or treating? It could have been 20 below, yet we still wanted to go to another row of houses to get more candy. Our mothers and fathers would be huddled next to our kid sibling’s carriages trying to warm themselves up with a cup of thermos coffee. If they were lucky, someone brought Irish coffee.

For three years in a row I dressed up as Hollie Hobby. Hollie Hobby for those who are too young or just a guy, was the poor man’s Laura Ingalls. For those who wondered, yes it was one of those cheap 70’s plastic pullover sheathes with the foul smelling, head cutting, plastic face masks.

I hated that mask. Every time I exhaled, the condensation would pool in the nose area of the mask. Did I mention it smelt like plastic? I recall making a mental note to never give my future child a mask as hideous and uncomfortable.

After three years of wearing what I deemed a choking device, I changed costumes. On a side note, I apologize to my cousin who was handed down this monstrosity. It was years after anyone knew who Hollie Hobby was but my mother and her mother felt a costume was a costume. Sorry about that.

I went through a succession of costumes, the most embarrassing was a leopard outfit my mother forced me to wear to a costume contest. My little brother and I both wore matching leopard cub outfits. They were finally crafted. My mother spent hours sewing and stuffing batting into the ears to make them perky. Then she went batting crazy and made a tail that was obscenely long and obscenely hard.

Throughout the night, my mother kept making us take pictures together. Of course, we couldn’t just leave the tails dragging on the floor. Her hard work had to be seen in the photos so she made us hold these phallic looking tails in our hands. Bored and clearly looking for attention, my brother began sticking the tail between his legs. To this day, my mother has a photo of us dressed as the cubs on her piano. My husband finds it absolutely humorous and even suggested this be our childhood photo in our wedding invitations.

I have no idea what happened to that costume but I’m pretty sure my mother has it stashed away in the attic somewhere. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a kid and she’ll surprise me with it. Better still, my cousin can return the Hollie Hobby costume.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The 'Me' Decade spawns rebellious offspring.

I took after my Grandfather. My Grandfather would write cards to everyone for their birthday. For every occasion, you were guaranteed a card from Grandpa George. I’m not as diligent but I try my best to send a card to my family and friends. Like my Grandpa, I like feeling connected to people, even if they are hundreds of miles away.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy cooking so much. Dining is communal. I always wanted that communal atmosphere when I was little. I only felt more isolated because my culture differed from everyone in my neighborhood.

Sure I get neurotic with my shindigs but I really do enjoy planning and executing it. In a world as big as ours, there is too much isolation to build your own Great walls.

I catch myself reverting every now and then to an introverted state. Yes, I do enjoy my downtime with my husband and it can be very easy to lock yourself away from what’s around you but I try to always remember we are all in the same world. Many of us are going through the same things. We’re not alone and the more we open ourselves to others, the more we grow, learn and become stronger.

My co-worker’s wife had surgery last week and her husband found an entire meal placed on their doorstep. It was from some fellow church members. “There was enough to feed 2 teenage boys and 2 adults. Plus, we had enough leftovers for lunches the following day. It was the best gesture I could have received at that moment.”

That’s what I want to walk away with. In life, we’re not alone and we need to stop trying to isolate ourselves. When we do, we block out the good and in essence block out the good we have in ourselves.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Trying to understand my mother's internal struggles.

I have decided to keep Thanksgiving small and focus the family holiday dinner towards Christmas. That’s when my mother told me that she wouldn’t be able to make Christmas dinner. “But I want to see the family together for a holiday dinner.”

After deliberating with Lrudlrick, I called her back today. I told her to come over for the holiday dinner. A lengthy q/a session that could rival Abbott and Costello’s Whose on first routine , in insanity not in hilarity, resulted in a tentative holiday dinner at my house or was it her house?

Truth be told, our conversations can be used as torture devices. CTU, should try this tactic. Instead of nerve debilitating serums, try endless loops of my conversations with my mother. I guarantee they will work faster. The only side effect is possible nausea, nose bleeds and aneurysms.

I never understood my mother’s need for secrecy in everything. “We’re going to go buy stamps but don’t tell anyone.” “I’m going to the supermarket but don’t tell anyone.”

Firstly, who the hell am I going to tell? Secondly, who cares if you are going to the supermarket? Unless you found a supermarket selling turkey breasts cheaper than $3.50/lb then you have no reason to be secretive about grocery shopping.

Didn’t I tell you folks that dinners and get-togethers with my mother are not easy? See why I had to think about Thanksgiving in early October? Even when I decided on just keeping it to our annual Christmas dinner at my place, plans changed.

Now all plans have been scratched and my mother has become so sedentary that the idea of coming to my house for a holiday dinner, she wanted in the first place, has become this ball of confusion. I thought she’d be happy if I said that I’d make the entire meal at my house and drive the bloody meal to her house along with my trimmed tree, bag of presents and eggnog.

But now I think she has something against me preparing the holiday get-together. She's skipped out on our holiday get-togethers several times already. Now she wants it but she doesn't want me to do it yet she doesn't want to do the work either.

Lrudlrick may be right. Between my marriage and my brother’s relationship, she may be suffering from empty nest syndrome. The idea of coming to my house and seeing how I have a ‘new’ life outside of her realm probably upsets her.

Perhaps seeing me as a fully functioning adult, with my own home, upsets her. I don’t see how though. I was never attached to my mother. We had a love-hate relationship. She always felt I was like her mother and I always felt like she wanted to be my sister rather than my mother.

At the age of 9 I was doing my own laundry. I had after school functions that kept me busy until the wee hours when I’d go home, eat dinner with my grandparents and then do my homework. By my 20's I was living away from home.

However, implausible it is in my mind, I suppose I am a reason why she may have empty nest syndrome.

But it’s been two years of this. When will depression leave her?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Move over Andrea Immer. Here comes Pantrygirl, Master Sommelier of H2O with specialty in Brita water



I drink a lot of water. Water is my favorite non-alcoholic drink. Having said that, I must point out this website: Fine Waters - “The voice for bottled water connoisseurs and their accompanying lifestyle. With a keen attention to the epicurean life, FineWaters provides information on the products, places, events and passion that define the purity of fine living. Water is Life - Enjoy It”

Do you guys know how pretentious you sound? The page I linked above is a discussion on picking the right water for your meal. Did you know there are professional Water Sommeliers? Seems like there are many people who enjoy high quality H2O. Bobby Boucher would be proud.

Now don’t get me wrong. Water taste different. I know this as a fact. Poland Springs does not taste like Evian, which my father was once quoted as being, “Fresh from the French Apes”. Fiji does not take like the very obscene sounding Volvic. I just don't need someone to tell me so.

Yes, I have my preferences. I prefer Fiji but honestly, I’m not picky and I’m certainly not choosing waters based on my meal. The day I have a conversation with someone about how Deer Park doesn’t cleanse the palate after a plate of duck confit as Dasani does is the day my husband divorces me.

I found this site because I recently received a bottle of Voss water as a present from a friend. It’s a long story that really isn’t worth the words it would take to tell it. I wanted to know what their pitch was and boy was it a doozy. I’m going to save you the painstaking task of going to Voss’ website and going through all the Flash pages to get to the description.

“Voss Artesian water, from Norway, is the purest natural water yet found on earth. Taken from a virgin aquifer shielded for centuries under ice and rock in the untouched wilderness of central Norway, Voss brings a new kind of refreshment to the market. A water that's refreshing to all the senses.”

I have no idea what a virgin aquifer is but I kind of feel bad that I’ve deflowered whatever it is for my 800mL of H2O.

Don’t get me wrong, it tastes great. It’s light and airy. If a water can be light, this is it. Plus, the glass cylindrical bottle is really cute in a sci-fi, test tube kind of way but if it isn’t bad enough that I’m paying for H2O, I have to deal with water sommeliers? I get a headache reading the wine list at a restaurant. I couldn’t possibly imagine getting a water list.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Using other people's countries as waste receptacles

Why does this not surprise me?

Poor countries are littered with our old electronics.

If you want to know what our great grandkids have in store for them, check out the Futurama episode A Big Piece of Garbage.

The streamers are still up and I don't plan to pull them down any time soon.

I’m a little sad my birthday week is over. Honestly, I think I’m sadder that my time off of work is over.

Lrudlrick, Dave, Judy and I got together Wednesday night to watch a taping of The Colbert Report. I thought we were up close and personal during The Daily Show taping. I was wrong. We were so close that we had to move out of the camera guy’s path. I would have taken a photo but they were pretty strict about no photography.

Stephen Colbert was still honing in on his new status as anchor and star and it was interesting to see the entire process on their 3rd night of taping. Dave jokingly said the guest was going to be Cameron Diaz. Thankfully it was someone interesting. Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek, was the guest.

For those interested, the format for the taping was similar to TDS except it took longer because they were still working on the rhythm. I believe the guests are still trying to grasp what the format is. Is it punditry? Is it satire? A few guests I've seen so far have slowly acclimated to it. Others left as confused as they were when their publicist booked them.

Mr. Colbert answered many questions, most on outside projects like Strangers with Candy. I wanted to ask about marketing a God machine but of course I was placed in a catatonic state by the warm up comedian, who Judy swears was some guy pulled off the street. The poor soul practically asked every audience member where they were from. Here's a tip Mr. Poor Soul, topical references. Read a newspaper in the morning.

After the taping Lrudlrick took me to Morton’s for a delicious steak dinner. The man knows the way to my heart involves big hunking slabs of beef. I would have ordered dessert but I was completely pie-d out. For anyone who hasn't been to Morton's, their desserts are huge and require at least 45 minutes to make so you need to order them when you order your main course. And yes, the hot chocolate cake is orgasmic.

We spent the rest of the night doing touristy things in Times Square. The funny thing about Times Square is that most people on any given night in Times Square is a tourist. Residents of New York generally don’t linger in Times Square and when they do, they get sucked in the tourist vortex. Why? Because Times Square has become like Citywalk in Universal Studios.

What I still marvel at is the right to have a gigantic 3D video box cover of Jenna Jameson barely dressed advertising across the street from the Hershey’s store. Aren’t there regulations about X-rated material being near kid friendly stores? Apparently no one seemed to care but me.

The rest of the week was spent browsing at kitchen appliance shops, making more pies then I care to admit, watching my band of the moment, Franz Ferdinand, on SNL and taking Z-girl to the vet. All in all, it was a great time off. If you don’t count the hour and a half spent at the vet.

BTW, was I the only one that fast forwarded every skit on SNL this weekend?

Oh, and I got an awesome birthday present from Lrudlrick. No, it wasn’t shoes.

Say hello to the most kick ass knife I’ve ever had in my entire life and that includes several Chinese cleavers:


Apparently the sales lady seemed mighty impressed Lrudlrick was purchasing such a finely crafted utensil for his lady friend. Lrudlrick told me she said, I'd be very happy. She was right. As an aside, lady, if you had any thoughts of stealing my finicky eating, shoe and handbag buying husband, remember who has the steel made from Japanese bladesmiths whose ancestors were probably schooled in samurai sword making.

Lrudlrick kicks butt when it comes to knowing what I want. Thank you, hon. That was an awesome gift and no, I do not plan to make you into carpaccio. If I could, I’d carry this knife with me just to show it off. Of course, bag checks on the subway would be interesting.

We may be heading to a costume party on Friday, depending on if I can get my pie baked in time. Any suggestions for a Halloween costume for either myself or Lrudlrick?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

About me:

1. I’m naturally inclined towards male friends than female friends.
I’ve always been girly on the outside but tomboy on the inside. Hence it’s led to a lot of internal struggles. I’d go into to detail but my male side says to move on.
2. I have lip balm and lotion stashed in nearly every room in my apartment.
This is partly because of an addiction, partly due to my laziness. I live in a one bedroom apartment but find walking over to the bedroom for my Burt Bee’s is too much physical exertion especially after I’ve hunkered down into my couch and made a mini-fort with my pillows.
3. I’ve punted my girl dog more than I can count.
I love Z-girl. It’s just that she’s always in the way.
She has a tendency to lie by your feet so when you decide to get up from the desk, table or couch, she nearly gets stomped on. She also overreacts and does this Scooby doo thing with her feet and cowers to the side.
When you do remember to check before you step down, she isn’t there but where ever you want to go Z-girl is already there. Want to go to bed, guess who is already in my spot? Want to sit on the couch, guess who has to be moved? So when you want to walk down the hallway, you better make sure you look less you punt her accidentally. Lrudlrick thinks Z-girl can see the future. “Where you are thinking about going, she is already there.”
4. I've mistaken my dog for a pillow.
This was pre-lasik days. Sorry P-man.
5. I hate when people lean over me and get there hot nose breath on me.
I'm a petite woman. On the train, I expect people to hover over me. I don't expect them to hover over me on line waiting to buy movie tickets. Nor do I expect them to hover over me at the museum. Here is another tip, Mr. Towers, since your mouth is fairly close to my ear, I hear everything you say as if it was spoken through a megaphone. If it isn't bad enough I have to hear you 'hmmmpfff' through your noise, you've got to discuss meeting a friend by the Picasso hovering over me. Be respectful of personal space.
6. I really love chocolate snaps.
When I was a kid I used to save my money to buy these things:


Man oh man, were these things delicious. Nowadays, I keep a stash of chocolate cookie dough ready in the freezer for cravings. They also make great additions to orange ice cream.
7. I once woke myself up with a fart.
I'm really embarrassed to admit this but my body woke my mind up with a powerful fart. It was the force that shook me up. If I recall, even the dogs were like, "Damn!" Which leads to, have dogs ever woken themselves up with some bodily function?
8. When I was 11, I started my own lending library.
I even made little library check out cards using index cards and envelopes. My penchant for organizing and cataloging started very early in life. I was the kid that put the toys away in nursery school.
9. I hate moving.
I love to visit new places. I love the smell of fresh paint. I don’t even mind the re-organization required in a new place. I just hate moving. I lived in an apartment until I was three. Then for 15 years I lived in the same neighborhood in the same house.
Now I’m not saying that one should stay in the same place forever. There comes a time in a person’s life when they realize that they’ve outgrown their home and community. Heck, as soon as I was in college, I knew it was time for me to move on to a new home.
But it is also important to plant roots every now and then.
10. I love ‘New York State of Mind’ in a cheesy, ‘Moon and New York City’ kind of way.
I've been known to hum the song when I'm homesick.
11. I’m afraid of spiders.
More specifically, I love spiders because they kill other insects but fear that I may one day be trapped in my shower with a spider. Naked and defenseless with a spider is my fear.
12. My brother used to call me Big Butt but that's because I don't have the standard flat Asian butt.
I'd add a photo but I don't want my ass all over the internet. LOL.
13. Between picking up dog poop or wiping their paws and booties, I choose dog poop.
I don't know why but whenever Lrudlrick and I take the dogs out, I always volunteer to pick up the poop in exchange for him wiping their butts and paws. I suppose it's because when I pick up the poop I've got a sandwich baggie covering my hand.
14. I have a Monica closet.
Ok, it's more like a drawer. It's like a secret compartment where I don't care if it's not organized. It actually makes me feel good looking into it every now and then.
15. I love toasted peanut butter and bologna sandwiches.
It reminds me of my afternoon teas with my grandfather.
16. When I was a kid I had a Kiss thermos.
Of course, I wasn't allowed to bring it to school because we had school lunches but it didn't deter me from asking my mom and dad for it.
I don't think I even knew what songs they sang either. I never had a Kiss album. In fact, the wildest thing I had in my collection back then was The Carpenters.
Still to this day, I smile thinking about Kiss and that Thermos.
17. When I was a kid, my mother told me if I told her what my nightmare was, it would come true.
I think she just was too tired to listen to my illogical fears. Of course, having no outlet to release my nightmares to, I lived in fear every night and subsequently had regular recurring nightmares. Thus, my habit of staying up all night was born.
Today, I tell Lrudlrick my dreams. Even the one where the Brady Bunch chased me through my old neighborhood and tried to stick a syringe in my arm. Folks, never trust a person wearing all polyester.
18. I get bursts of inspiration in the middle of the night.
Others consider them OCD inspired compulsions.
19. If I could, I'd put a label on everything.
I am so addicted to my labelmaker, I've labeled my dogs' items. Is there such a thing as labelmakers anonymous? If so, can I make the 'hello my name is' labels?
20. On the subject of bad songs I love, I love 'Dancing Queen' by Abba. To this day, I can still picture the 45 I had my dad buy for me when I was a kid.
21. I cook when I'm happy. I cook when I'm mad. I cook when I'm stressed. I cook when I'm bored. When I'm really bored, I label and organize. Lrudlrick does not understand this concept. I don't really understand it myself.
22. I believe that we are one with nature. Our actions have consequences not only to ourselves but to nature and the people around us.
23. My brother is one of my best friends.
We don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like together and some of his choices make me scratch my head but I still love him and consider him a confidant and value his opinions. Don’t let it get to your head, lil’ bro, I’m still older.
24. When I was 13 I thought I’d be married by 21 and mother to 3.5 kids by the age of 27.
I look back and laugh at how crazy that sounds now. I was an idiot (well, I was dating an idiot) at 21 and just coming to know myself at 27. I could never have been a good parent during that time in my life.
25. Dumplings are my all time favorite Chinese food.
When we were kids, we had dumplings or steamed buns for breakfast. God, those were amazing. That’s why…
26. I can’t eat a Pop Tart without gagging.
Sugary breakfast foods, aside from homemade scones and muffins, make me ill. My grandfather once tried to shove Frosted Flakes down my empty belly before school. That day, it all popped back out during a pop quiz in English class. Since then, I can't eat any pre-packaged breakfast foods.
27. My brother hit me with a putt-putt golf club when I was 8.
I swear that’s why I have a mini-Sade forehead.
28. My brother hit me with free weights when I was 13.
I can’t walk into a gym without cringing.
29. I was shocked as all hell when my husband proposed to me the first and second times.We’d talked about it but I was more on the casual side of things. Neither of us felt pressured. We were happy. I don’t think he’ll ever know the shock and awe I felt. He totally planned it without any hints given. Thank you, Lrudlrick.
30. If I had a chance to do a scene on a drama program I'd wish it to be on CSI (anyone of them).
See, I love putting puzzles together. It's an OCD thing. So I wouldn't really be acting. They can shoot me during a montage where a labrat (that would be me) is putting bone fragments together or reconstructing a shredded piece of paper.

They say it's your birthday. We're gonna have a good time!

Last night my li’l brother took me out to dinner. I had a gigantic steak burrito. Mmmmmm. Burrito. At this rate, I’m going to need someone to buy me a moo-moo and a bottle of Pepto after all these delicious eats.

This morning, I woke up find two dogs squished on either side of me. Z-girl was stretched out like a giant pillow and I had my arm around her. Yes, I was spooning my dog and there is nothing dirty about it.

At my nightstand my husband left me a card with a cartoon drawing of a dog blowing a bubble gum bubble out of his butt. Of course, I laughed and even thought it was sweet Lrudlrick misspelt my name again on the birthday card. 9 years folks and he still gets it wrong. At this point, I find it endearing.

Then my sound track began. Every morning, I have some soundtrack playing in my head. It’s like an iPod has been surgically implanted into my brain. This morning it was the Happy Birthday song they make the waiters sing in TGIFridays. Yes, I know this was rather lame but it made me smile.

As I left the comforts of the puppy pile, I shuffled to the kitchen to try the cooled down pie I made last night.

Pie #2: Too lemony.

Back to the drawing board folks.

As I passed the dining room, I stopped and a giant Grinch smile formed. Lrudlrick had plastered the dining room with birthday banners, streamers and table decorations! I couldn’t stop smiling.

I went back to getting ready for work. By this time, the iHead shuffle moved onto Do you want to? -- Franz Ferdinand.

I watched the ‘This Day in NYC History” on NY1. They mentioned the market crash in ’87, of course. I also learned that the Concorde flew to NYC for the first time in 1977. I don’t share my birthday with any NY celebrity but I did find out that I do share it with John Lithgow, Evander Holyfield and Jon Favreau. Of course, the Jon Favreau thing was the highlight in my mind. “I got you the ball! I got you the ball! I got the ball!”

Shuffle: Golddigger -- Kanye West. Is it just me or is Jamie Fox really milking the whole Ray Charles thing?

When I arrived at my office, I was inundated by IMs, Emails, cards and Calls from friends and family. Thanks guys. You truly know how to make a girl feel loved.

Tonight, Lrudlrick has the night planned out. Word has it it’s a quiet one-on-one night. It should be fun. I’m going to try not to focus on the pie which has consumed my free moments.

Shuffle: When I Dream -- The Teardrops Explodes

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

When I grow up I want to be a lawyer/broadway actress/superhero

Indigo asked in a recent Question of the day, “What is it that you've always wanted to do, but never had the guts to?”

I replied, I’ve never had the guts to quit my job and open up a café or in home bakery.

As I edge towards my birthday I wonder, how the hell did I get here? It’s not a terrible place. I love my job and I love what I do. I never thought I’d wind up being a project manager but I suppose with my OCD and anal retentive tendencies I’m naturally inclined to project management.

It’s just that I nowadays I have a side job as Firefighter. There are days where all I do is stomp out fires. There are some days where I just let the fire burn and pray it will extinguish itself.

It can be exciting but it’s also very tiring. When your entire day is spent on calls calming people down, while pressing others for a resolution, your world gets tiny and large at the same time. What do I mean? I mean, you have to realize that someone’s concerns are large in their world but rather small in someone else’s. Yet you must treat each person’s concerns as important as they think they are.

I can’t say, “Well, it will still be there tomorrow.” I need to act as if the world is imploding.

I can see why there are more women in my field than men. Aside from the organizational and multi-tasking skills needed, you also have to have a compassion towards all parties. You need to be firm yet compassionate to a person’s concerns.

I also can see why so many women ‘burn out’ as well. You have to be able to distance yourself every now and then to realize the bigger picture. If you let yourself stay within the microcosm, you get sucked into the vortex and all of sudden the lack of copy paper becomes a crisis that involves a box of Kleenex.

BTW, I absolutely love the new Staples commercial where they have a paper jam and need to find Pam. In my work world, I’m Pam. I don’t know why but in every place I go, whenever there is a problem with the Fax, Copier or other electronic gadget, they call for me. I don’t have Xerox written on my head so I don’t know why they call me but they do.

I think it’s because I can decipher the ancient hieroglyphics that are found on most inside panels of office machines.

Do I think I’d ever find the guts to make a little tiny café? Who knows. I like what I do and I’m afraid if I jump out, I’ll have a hard time jumping back in. Besides owning a café is different than serving up food to friends and family. I’m not sure I want to ruin my oasis with the reality of a business.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Found: 1 creepy umbrella

Found at my apartment:

A large black umbrella with wooden hook handle. When you open it, the entire chorus of 42nd street smiles at you in the interior. Each girl and her ringlets smiles ala Stepford Wife while holding her hands by her chin ala 'Jazz Fingers'.

This umbrella does not have a mechanism to keep this thing closed so you must always strap the velcro around it to keep it shut.

I found this umbrella in our closet last week when I was desperate for an umbrella. Lrudlrick took the golf umbrella so I grabbed this seemingly harmless black umbrella.

It was not until I got to my lobby and opened the darned thing, well rather, it popped open, that the chorus girls scared not only myself but my elderly neighbor who thankfully has a pacemaker.

This thing is truly creeping me out and I need to get it out of my house.

If it's yours, I will not question your sanity, just please pick it up.

I'd throw it out but I'm afraid it will come back like some twisted inanimate character in a Stephen King novel.

If it's not claimed within 7 days, it's going to the Salvation Army.

"They say it's your birthday! It's my birthday too, yeah!"

BTW, when I was younger I though the Beatles were saying 'y'all'. I couldn't understand why a pair of British songwriters would use a Southern slang word.

Ok, it’s not my birthday yet but my husband started the festivities this weekend by making me dinner. That’s right folks, the infamous Spaghetti and Meatball meal. After a two year hiatus, Lrudlrick’s meatballs came back. A friend pointed out he stopped making the SnM meal in 2003, the year we got married. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Last night over a nice bottle of red (Tuscan, my favorite), I had two giant helpings of his yummy meal followed by a gut blasting bowl of chocolate brownie ice cream topped with raspberries and strawberries. I never felt more like Violet Beauregarde than I did last night.

Originally he said he was trying to surprise me by having my brother show up but he had other plans with his girlfriend. Lrudlrick knows it’s been awhile since we’ve gotten together and it really would have been a great surprise but I know that he’s had his hands full. We’ll catch up soon, I’m sure.

I’m not a big party person when it comes to my birthday. I like casual, intimate get-togethers.

Honestly, I see my birthday as a holiday from work. Unfortunately, I have to work on my birthday this year but even if I took off, it would have been filled with tons of home errands. As you get older, birthdays no longer involve streamers. Birthdays become reminders to check your 401K plan and your insurance policy. It’s not all bad though. I get to be princess for a day. I find nothing wrong with wearing a tiara around the house while paying bills.

I like to keep my birthday quiet around my workplace though. My office thinks otherwise. I work in an Elaine Benes office where cake is a meal best served weekly. In fact, two cakes have become the norm. When you're hired here, you are warned of two things: what you get paid will most likely go into an office party and what you lose financially on your paycheck, you gain in lbs on your body.

Last week, we had a chocolate mousse cake and what I can only describe as a dome of egg cake smothered with fruit cup fruit and the lightest, melt in your mouth whipped cream. This was served in honor of my birthday and two other colleagues. This grand finale was preceded by a delectable lunch of roasted chicken.

The festivities don’t end there, folks. Apparently, there will be another one on one birthday luncheon on Wednesday where I’ll be stuffed to the gills once again.

I’m not complaining. I love food but I’m beginning to think I should have reconsidered rescheduling my doctor’s appointment to November. At this rate my cholesterol will hit high. Yes, folks, I still have not been able to get my physical completed. I finally found another provider, this one on the Westside. Unfortunately, she was booked until the end of October. If I cancel now, I’m sure I won’t be able to get in to see her until December.

Back to me and my birthday, I’m not sure what Lrudlrick has in mind for me but I didn’t get excited about my birthday until everyone started calling and emailing me about my birthday. Now, I’m starting to get those twinkle eyes. I’m two emails away from pulling out the JCPenney catalog and circling my favorite toys. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who did this as a kid.

I’d like to say that all I want for my birthday is world peace but I’m a realist. Peace ain’t happening when there are egos ruling the world. Instead, for my birthday all I want is a day without stress. I don’t know if this is possible but I think I’m going to strive for this. So far my work schedule is light knock on wood and my evening will be spent with friends. I’ll worry about the dog’s follow up visit on Friday and the giant 14,500 BTU A/C that is still in our dining room another day.

Here’s to hoping for a stress free birthday to all my fellow Librans.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pie, Oh My! or You're thinking about inviting your Mom over for Thanksgiving!

pg: Do you think I should invite my mom over for Thanksgiving? She’s making an effort by sending you a birthday gift and calling you during the train threats. Should I extend an olive branch?
L: The poison fruit she sent me? Oh, I guess. It would be a nice gesture.
pg: I ate them and I am fine. Am I setting myself up for the fall and disappointment?
L: Just remember that she can say ‘no’ like she did last year and the year before. And you we're fine because you're like Vizzini and have developed an iron stomach.
pg: Hmm. Ok.

Thus my evening was spent researching a possible menu and contemplating holding Thanksgiving again.

The very first time I made a Thanksgiving meal was two years ago. My mother-in-law asked me to and I did obligingly. I was actually quite excited. As a kid, Thanksgiving dinner was the same as every other day in our calendar. My mother had no idea what to do with a Turkey so we had Chinese food instead.

When I grow up, I’m going to learn how to make a Turkey day feast, I said to myself. I want a big banquet for my family to share. So I accepted my MIL’s request and accomplished one of my ‘before-I-die’ items. Then I promptly agreed that Turkey day ’04 would be spent at our cousin’s house free from the shackles of the kitchen.

Now with the holidays approaching, maybe it’s a good time to try to connect with my Mother again. Now, I’m not saying this is going to be A Joy Luck Club production. I’m not expecting anything that involves tears and ‘now-you-understand-my-hardships’ stories. I just want to be able to sit down and have a meal with my mom without grudges and niceties.

My mother-in-law has told me she won’t be coming to the city in November so it would be a small affair, one that may not have to involve a whole turkey. My mom and stepdad eat very little so I can get a half bird or even a few turkey breasts and skip the whole carving fiasco of 2003.

What about your father-in-law? Well, first, they’ll probably be in France. Second, my step-MIL and step-SIL don't eat Turkey. Third, they won’t step foot in our apartment now that step-SIL has been diagnosed with allergies to every microbe known to man.

I know this is really premature to talk about but family gatherings with my mother are not the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants ordeals that you would normally expect. Everything is choreographed. It’s like a ballet recital for a 6 year old. It’s organized chaos.

What made me think of Thanksgiving? Pie. The smells of autumn, cinnamon & brown sugar, wafted the apartment like nothing Glade could produce. I made my first attempt at my contest pie. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet so I can’t classify it but I will say one thing, too much ginger.

Pie #1: too much ginger.

The problem with my recipe antics is that I’m really good at documenting my ingredients but not so good at remembering to measure. This is a bad thing in baking. Everything has to be precise but in the heat of the mixing and mad scientist playing, I usually measure everything with my fingers and palm. Not very scientific, I know.

So last night, as Lrudlrick and I were critiquing my concoction, I wasn’t able to determine exactly how much to add or subtract of an ingredient.

Tonight, I take a reprieve because I’m tired of fighting the humidity to make a good pie crust. Tonight, I catch up on my TV programs. Tomorrow, I continue my quest for the perfect pie.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

When is the rain going to stop?

With the rain pouring over the city most of us look like wet dogs and cats when we get to the office. It's a sad sight. It's sadder for our shoes. My pretty babies have had to be sidelined. Knee high boots are now a staple. I'm even prepared to pick up some galoshes.

The last time I had galoshes was in grammar school. I still don’t know the difference between grammar school and elementary school except one has a British origin. They were red with a picture of Snoopy on the outside of the boot.

One year during a windy storm, my boot got caught in some mud and my galosh pulled right off my foot. There I was in this storm trying to pry my boot free of the mud while holding onto my matching Snoopy umbrella, steadying my heavy backpack and hopping on one foot.

That was the last time I wore those galoshes.

Anyway, I donated 5 pairs of shoes to Goodwill which I'm quite proud of. I still don't have room in my closet yet I couldn't help but pick up these babies last month:


Sissy
This make me feel very 80's working girl.


Dave
Reminds me of my high school days.


Jane
Sometimes you just need a practical shoe. Ok, Lrudlrick wanted us to walk faster than my mules would allow so I popped into a local shop and picked up these babies.

Of course, I can't wear any of these beauties until the sogginess dries out. Maybe there have been innovations in galosh technology. Maybe I can still wear them. I know I could use a pair of galoshes walking the dogs.

By the way, I just want to thank my lovely hubby for taking the dogs last night for me. After my morning walk from hell, we planned to take a dog a piece but after watching me wrestle with the umbrella while dragging our reluctant dog out to do his business, he took them both. Thank you, Lrudlrick. You're the best.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Noah needs to stop by my place to pick me and the dogs up.

Dear Dog,

You can walk the entire park but there is not a dry spot for you to pee on today. I’m sorry but the heavens have opened up today and there is no sign of letting up. My shoes are soaked to the insoles now and I’m beginning to make squishy sounds as I walk. Please for the love of Pete, pee already!

Your brother knows the deal. You run to the curb/fire hydrant/mailbox and let loose. Then you about-face and we beeline back inside to the warm, dry apartment.

I couldn’t have left you without a chance to pee this morning, you understand. Unfortunately, you have not mastered the toilet nor have you the brains like Rusty to use the bathtub. Rusty rest in peace. So we walked and walked and walked until you finally realized that you would not find the optimal spot you had so wished for.

Tonight, I ask you realize that everything will remain damp. Please go by the big tree like you usually do. We’ll both be very happy. A snasausage may be waiting for you if you keep the walk brief.

Now I must wring out my shoes.

Sincerely,

Alpha-dog aka the lady who can open the dog food container.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Iron Chef New York: I am Pie or how I'm blowing a local pie contest way out of proportion

It’s Autumn and Autumn means one thing to Pantrygirl, cooking. Ok, every season equals cooking for me but in the Fall I like to work on stews and baked goods.

I spent Sunday making cherry pies, actually perfecting cherry pies. This was not an easy feat as the humid weather was wreaking havoc with my flaky crust.

Lrudlrick’s office has been keen on me entering some pie contest. With a finicky eater for a husband I'm grateful to have a few who are eager to be my personal guinea pigs.

Matt’s been asking for cherry pie but if I’m going to enter a pie contest I want in-season ingredients so cherry is out. But I felt I should at least work on an out of season cherry pie. So after a few trials and errors, I think I’ve made a decent cherry pie.

Here is a photo:


Every Season Cherry Pie

I think the brandied cherries really make a difference. Then again, after a few pies, or more aptly, a few brandied cherries, everything tasted delicious.

I’ve never entered a pie contest before. What are the rules? All I’ve been told is to bring a pie. Does that mean it can be any kind of pie? Now, the contest isn’t a money contest so I suppose that’s why there really aren’t any rules but inquiring minds want to know.

I don’t want to show up with a mincemeat pie and find out everyone has made rhubarb pie. Does everything have to be from scratch? Will we be marked for presentation? Will they have warm plates to keep warm pies warm? Are there any allergies? What if I make a pecan and the judge blows up like a blowfish? Who judges? What makes a person eligible for judging? Are any of them on the take? Is there nepotism in this competition?

Ok, clearly, I’m watching too much Iron Chef and I’m taking a pie contest to a totally different realm. I’m just a city girl who has no idea what a pie contest is except for what she sees on Food Network and one episode of Monk where some old granny got shot for a raffled pie.

Tonight, I’m going to play with a crumb crust. If the weather is as humid as it is today on the day of the contest, I may be better off with a crumb crust versus a dough crust.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My husband has the attention span of a gnat.

Case in point, dinner.

During the torrential rainstorms that made up for the shower-less days of August and September, Lrudlrick and I, during a momentary loss of reasoning, decided it was a good idea to take the senior citizen dogs out with us on our weekend errands.

Our eldest, P-man, has a pin on his leg. You know when football players have torn knee ligaments that require surgery? That’s what he had. P-man had an ACL rupture in 2002 which required surgery. Since the surgery, our bionic dog doesn’t take well to wet or moist weather.

Imagine his enthusiasm as we dragged his soggy self down to the local pharmacy, supermarket, hardware store and dry cleaners. Some friends asked me why we didn’t just have them deliver. I feel for delivery folk. I delivered for a local pharmacy when I was a teen. Delivering Depends undergarments in torrential rains for a $.70 tip was not worth the minimum wage. Plus, I’d rather pocket the $2 tip and spend it on food. Call me cheap.

We made it to the bank where my dogs made it clear that the awning was where they’d stay. So Lrudlrick and I took turns holding them while running to the local shops.

Why do I bring this up? Simply because I made the foolish choice of having Lrudlrick go to the supermarket. All I wanted was milk and maybe something for dinner.

L: I’ll run in. Do you want anything?
pg: Nah. Just pick up a small milk. The small container. mimes a small paper carton Oh, and if anything catches your eye for dinner, pick it up.
L: ok.

As I stood under the bank awning, dripping wet, with two annoyed dogs, I thought it was exciting to not have to decide what dinner would be. 365 days in the year (It was 364 until Lrudlrick stopped making his Annual Spaghetti and Meatball meal for me.) I have to plan the meals. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and snacks all concocted by PG. I wondered what Lrudlrick would choose for dinner.

I waited in anticipation. Finally after ten minutes, he came out with a single bag.

pg: What did you get?
L: I got some cheese for the dog’s medicine.
pg: That’s right, we ran out. Good thinking.
L: Some baby carrots because I remember how you liked them so much.
pg: Oh. Ok.
L: What do you mean “oh?”
pg: I sort of lost my passion for carrots. It’s not your fault. I just ate too many over the summer and have grown tired of them. I’m sure I’ve told you this but I can use them to make glazed carrots though. Thanks.
L: Now you tell me. I thought I was doing good.
pg: You were. I mean you are. Go on. Thanks for the carrots.
L: I got your milk.
pg: That’s a big jug.
L: What? You wanted the small paper container?
pg: This is fine. We can have cereal. What did you get for dinner?
L: I got donuts.
pg: You got donuts?

It doesn’t end there folks. The one thing I ask my husband correction, used to ask was to set the table. At first it was do the dishes which involves loading the dishwasher, putting in detergent (contrary to popular belief, this is important) and starting it. This was a bit too much for his ADHD.

Lrudlrick, bless his heart, starts off swimmingly. He gets up and clears the dining room table. He gets the cleaner and sprays it down. He’ll wipe it and then leave to get the placemats. At this point the TV distracts him. He’ll go fiddle with the tv for awhile.

By the time I finish plating, I run out to the dining table to see if it’s ready. On the table is a bottle of cleaner and two placemats on a chair. I run back, grab utensils and condiments and run back out. At this point, Lrudlrick gets upset that I’ve usurped his position as table setter. Comments about icicles forming on our dinner and the need to install a heat lamp on my counter are traded. He runs into the kitchen to get drinks.

I serve dinner and plop my butt onto the chair to begin my meal. That’s when 9 times out of 10, I notice he has forgotten my drink and I have to pull my butt off the comfy chair. Now I don’t know about you but for some reason, this seems to be the hardest part of our nightly ritual. I could have plopped my butt down onto the dining chair for less than 3 seconds yet the recovery to get back up takes all my strength.

Lrudlrick waits until I return, serves me and we begin the-must-angle-tv-and-change-to-taped-program game. I used to wait until Lrudlrick found something to watch but found it exasperating. Nowadays, I scarf down my grub before he even finishes choosing a program to watch. I don’t know why this is so hard for him. Dinner doesn’t make it past a 1 hour program so he should just leave the tv be but he has to find dining conducive TV. BTW, just in case you didn’t know, Dirty Jobs is not a dining conducive program.

Clearing the table isn’t smooth sailing either. Usually, it’s not until after I start the dishwasher when I find that a cup or knife wasn’t cleared. I’ve completely given up on this and have programmed the dishwasher to start at 3am because of these ‘left behinds’.

Now, with all this complaining, I am still grateful that he does try. I just would like to know what distracts him so easily. I’d have to be naked standing there with a rib roast in my arms with oven roasted potatoes dangling on a belt on my hip for him to set a complete table and he’d probably do it in under 30 seconds no less.

IM etiquette for the work place.

I just had a conversation on IM with someone I thought was someone else. This is so sad. It’s sadder that she had no idea that I had no idea it was her. The problem with communications these days is that you may not be able to decipher the sender/receiver by his/her moniker.

Everyone has the standard work email, JHefferen@myjobsucks.com. That’s easy enough to correlate. “Oh, that’s Jim.” It’s when you get into IMs like ‘BigMooseDaddy’. “Who the hell is ‘BigMooseDaddy’?

At my job, we use IM to communicate. Most people use their names or some form of their name. ‘JCowMoo’ or ‘JHefferen’ = Jim Hefferen. How the hell am I supposed to remember ‘BigMooseDaddy’ is Tim and not Tom Bullwinkle?

I’m all for the cute names and emails but not at work. Please. ‘BigMooseDaddy’ conjures up other images that I do not want to associate with my colleague. No, I’m not into bestiality. Get that sick thought out of your head.

I have a work IM and a home IM, although, I rarely am on at home, so I don’t see why I should have two separate ones. Nonetheless, I have two. One is straightforward. One is a play on my name.

Regardless of the two, if I haven’t IM’d a person in awhile, I always start out with, “Hi Paula. This is Pantrygirl.” It’s courteous. Once you’ve established the niceties, you can nail them with what you need, politely.

If you decide to have a cute moniker, then fine, just keep it as clean as possible because any name can have a sexual connotation. At least in my mind.

So to all you out there who use IMs at work, please, for the love of Pete, if you have never IM’d the person before or if it’s been ages since you spoke through IM, introduce yourself.

Oh, this reminds me. If you get my IM from a colleague, please do not play the “Hi, Pantrygirl. Guess who this is?” with me. It will not end well. I will not guess that ‘Analrapist’ is you, Tobias. Never.

Friday, October 07, 2005

"When men say I'm sweet as candy as around in a dance we whirl, it goes to my head like brandy. I enjoy being a girl!"

I hate marketing myself. I know I’m great. I know my work is great. I just hate saying it to people. That’s why I’m awful with the job interviews and networking. I have gotten better but I’m just not comfortable with that whole whoring.

My husband is good at that. When I posed him the question I was asked recently, “Do you want my job?” He immediately said, “Are you offering? Don’t put it out there unless you’re serious.” Me, I answer, “Well, I love a challenge.” I’m an idiot when it comes to those hard hitting questions.

Personally, I don’t want to look like a possible back stabber. I’m not. I’m far from a back stabber. I’ve been back stabbed a few times so I know how it feels to be on the other end. I would never want a job I didn’t earn which I suppose will be my downfall in my quest for total world domination. Honestly, I don’t want total world domination. I can’t even play Parchesi without getting an aneurysm.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I feel like Queen of the heap and I don’t degrade myself in any way. I’m proud of my accomplishments and my talents. I just hate doing the dog and pony show. My work should reflect me and that’s what I try to do in all my projects.

Give me a job and I’ll do better than anyone around you just don’t make me say it.

I’m at this point in my life where I ask myself what the hell happened? Seriously, what happened to my master plan, marry a sugar daddy and have sugar babies? Noooooooo. I had to fall in love and let go of my Anna Nicole dreams.

I read a NY Times article a few weeks back about how a few women today expect to graduate, marry well and stay at home with the kids. They wrote this as if this is something new and out of the norm. Granted, we all had that 80’s career gal phase to live through but all my friends have had the same idea. They may not have admitted it but they did.

I’ll admit it. I did. Then I got a job that I really enjoy. It’s totally stressful and at times I just want to hang up the white flag but I come back every day. Maybe I’ve been in the workforce too long now but I don’t think I’d stay home if I had the opportunity.

When I was younger, my mother wasn’t a stay at home mom. She never joined the PTA nor did she volunteer in any Mother’s club events. I swore up and down that when I had children, I’d stay at home and be a part of their experiences as much as I could until they were at least 8 years old. I don’t know where I got the arbitrary age of 8. Maybe I felt like I missed out on that with my mother.

Now that I’m older, I wonder if that would be something I would be able to do. I’d love to stay at home during the first few years but I get the impression that I’d feel as if I would never be able to get back on the work bus. A new crowd of people and technology would be there and I’d be the geeky girl looking for an empty chair to hide in.

Plus, would I be an awful parent because I love my job? I think I’d probably feel terrible if I missed Little Johnnie’s soccer game or Little Jack’s spelling bee. Johnnie and Jack are my pretend kid’s names. They were named after my kitchen staples, Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker Black. I suppose I should place a disclaimer to family who are reading this. If we have kids, I will not name them after liquor brands. It’s a shame though; Stoli would make a cute girl’s name.

I know a lot of women swear that men have it easier and in a way they do but they also have their burdens. They do have the burden of being the classified ‘head of the household’. I hate that classification. Whenever an application has that, I sometimes want to scribble in ‘co-head’. Many of households I know are run by a joint commission. Funny thing is my husband works in market research so everything to him is categories like the aforementioned. You’re ‘under 18’ or ‘65+’. You’re single, dating/engaged, married, divorced/separated or widowed. I hate the whole categorizing of humans and that comes from a person that catalogs her socks.

I have a friend that is the ‘breadwinner’ in his family and he’s living on pins and needles nowadays because there are rumors of layoffs. He’s developed an ulcer the size of Rhode Island. His wife works part-time and because of the cost of childcare, they find it more affordable to have one person stay at home. Essentially, it puts him in the tough task of dealing with ensuring that he can continue to work and provide while still trying to find time to spend with his kids. The whole layoff thing adds to the pressure.

I have no idea how our parents did it in the 70’s and 80’s. 4-5 kids in each household. At least 2 cars in the garage. I never saw my parents break out into sweats over finances but they must have. “You do what you have to do.” said a friend. I suppose she’s right.

This all comes up now because there comes a point well, several points in a gal’s life when she has to reevaluate what her priorities are and her goals. Birthdays are one point. Career moves are another. Lucky for me I have both to contend with this month. Yippeeee I know every female I know has had to contend with these dilemmas. I just find it fascinating that every generation modern generation of woman that I know has had to deal with this and still there are no clear cut answers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Today, It's all about bodily functions.

Pooch Cafe Courtesy of UComics.com


Z-girl has been on meds for months now. Since her annual, the doc has prescribed her antibiotics and a corticosteroid for her hot spots. The August heat wave spawned a rash that won’t leave. Every two weeks, we need to send her back for a follow up exam. So far he’s kept her on the medication but now I have to bathe her twice a week with this disgustingly thick shampoo.

Sure, shampooing a 60+ lb dog twice a week isn’t what I had hoped for but it sure beats the pills she’s on. I don’t know what it is about those pills but they makes her drink water as if it’s going out of style. Honestly, the dog can pee for over a minute. She’s a girl dog so she squats but I can still she her knees buckle from the strain.

We told the doctor and he lowered the dosage from two pills to one pill twice a day. That didn’t’ work. We’re down to half a pill twice a day but she’s still drowning the ants at the park.

The worst part about this whole heat rash business is the follow up visits to the vet. Last Saturday, Lrudlrick took her to her follow up while I went for my Lasik follow up. He returned with that gross shampoo I spoke of and a dog that obviously caught something from another patient at the office.

At 4am that morning, we awoke to find dog sick in three various locations around my vanity. Since Lrudlrick was feeling sick himself, I was left to scrub and steam clean the bedroom rug by myself. At 6am, she got sick again. This time, she threw up on her bed. Guess who is getting a new bed? Bed thrown out, I stayed up and got ready for church and a sidewalk sale.

The rest of the day, Lrudlrick and I took turns checking up on Z-girl. She puked once more. This time on her brother’s bed. New beds for everyone! We wisely rolled up the rest of our rugs and quarantined her in the dining room.

That day, she looked like the saddest pup in the world. Her eyebrows were lowered and she had this sad droopy look on her face. I continued to give her the antibiotics but held off on the ‘pee pill’ to avoid dehydration. She didn’t eat for two days and drank very little water.

By Monday, she developed a small appetite but still was not her Augustus Gloop-self. Now, I suppose most people would be worried by this time. Dogs usually recoup within 24 hours but if a human was as sick as she was, he/she wouldn’t want to eat for at least three days after.

I didn’t begin to worry until yesterday when The Poopernator passed the 48 hour mark since last poop. Not to get disgusting although this whole entry is pretty gross in the whole but Z-girl could fertilize Madison Square Park all by herself. The girl can poop. She’s been known to pull a three poop walk!

Well, low and behold at 11pm last night, she finally pooped. I lavished her with praise as if she had anything to do with the fact that her body decided to expel. The bus driver must have busted a gut watching me praise her to no end for a poop well done.

I guess whatever she had finally passed because as of this morning, she’s back to eating like a large German boy in lederhosen.




Pooch Cafe Courtesy of UComics.com

Lrudlrick and I spend a lot of time discussing poop. Maybe it’s because we have to curb our dogs but we’re extremely intimate with our dogs excrement; more so than I’d care to admit. We’ve been known to start off conversations with “Did they poop?” No, "Hi Honey" but "Did they go?" My favorite is the analysis. “He didn’t. She did but it was a bit runny.” “It was a substantial load.” “He looked like he wanted to but the pizza delivery guy distracted him.”

Do parents of babies do the same thing? What do the dogs think of our conversations? Clearly my two dogs know the word ‘poop’ and its definition. My high school psychology teacher once told me that when potty training, a parent should not flush a child’s poop in front of them because the child perceives the poop as his/her creation and you trashing their work of art. Personally, I think that’s a bunch of poo Yes I had to do it. but what if that’s what the dogs believe they are doing. What if they think they are making a present for me? Here I am wrapping it in paper towels and plastic baggies. They must think I’m gift wrapping it for the trash man.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"It's very human." -- Cameron Diaz on In Her Shoes

After a year and a half of trying we finally got to see a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. I had a great time. The studio is much smaller than Letterman’s so you really feel a part of the show. This is odd since TDS is one of the few shows where the audience is never seen.

Even with Graham Norton’s show, where audience participation is a must, we did not feel as integral. I suppose it’s because Mr. Stewart is a comedian and looks for the audience reactions with each report.

I use the proper Mr. Stewart because Jon seems as if I know him personally. Although, when I was a teen, I did deliver his medications from the local pharmacy but it’s not like that constitutes an acquaintanceship of some sort. Plus it's not like he would remember me. “Hey, weren’t you the kid that delivered the anti-itch cream?” Just in case Mr. Stewart’s representatives read this, I am not implying Mr. Stewart had some condition that required anti-itch medication. In fact, he looked healthy, was quite courteous and a nice tipper.

The one thing I did like was how Mr. Stewart came out after the warm up to take questions. He interacted with us without playing to us.

I would have loved to see ‘This Week in God’ live but alas, we only saw a segment from a new correspondent, Nate Corrdry, younger brother I suspect of Charlie Brown impressionist, Rob Corrdry. The segment was actually quite funny and he came out later during the break for some applause. Rob was there too with his shiny dome.

I suppose after waiting a year and a half for tickets I shouldn’t complain but I was really hoping for a political figure as a guest. Instead I got Cameron Diaz. No offense to those who love her but she’s just a but too ditzy for me to stomach. During the taping, Judy mentioned that she’s the highest paid actress in Hollywood. If that’s true, it’s mind blowing. Yes, I loved There is Something About Mary but really, the highest paid actress? She’s not Oscar caliber material, if you know what I mean.

Well, during her interview she was pushing her new film, In Her Shoes. I can’t say she persuaded me to spend my $10+ incidentals for concessions. If she said the film was ‘human’ one more time, I think I would have snorted loudly into the overhead mic. I was polite though.

It did lead to a discussion last night between Lrudlrick and myself. Who is prettier, Uma or Cameron? Personally, I find neither drop dead gorgeous but if my husband had to choose, he’d choose Cameron. Sadly, I’d probably go solo. I’m just not crazy for either two.

Personally, my favorite body type of the current Hollywood elite is Salma Hayek. She’s curvy where you should be curvy. She dresses appropriately and hell, she has a rack that is incredible.

Maybe I’m not into blondes although I did find Tara Reid in Josie and the Pussycats cute in a bring-a-stray-home-and-take-care-of-them kind of way. Nowadays, Tara looks like she’s taking classes in Courtney Love’s beauty school.

Anyway, they wouldn’t let you take pictures during taping and darned if Lrudlrick didn’t start a fight with the stage assistant for running up to the desk but here’s a shot from when they herded us out like cattle:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sure, I made him drink soapy water and he ripped my school uniform in front of my classmates but blood is blood.

My brother and I haven’t seen each other in ages. When times were simpler, we’d see each other at least twice a month. It’s not that we did anything spectacular when we did get together. Most of the time, we just vegged and ragged on each other for our stupidity then pass out on the couch next to each other.

Lrudlrick is an only child and doesn’t understand how my brother and I can think this time is precious. Trust me, any time you get to spend with your sibling, even if it’s napping on the couch next to each other, is precious. At this point, I’m going to put the disclaimer that 1) My brother and I are not like Angelina Jolie and her sick and twisted brother. The naps come from an inherited gene from our father that allows us to sleep anytime, anywhere. We rival Rip Van Winkle in our sleeping habits. In our past lives we must have been bears.

My brother and I are 5 years apart but when we’re together, we act like we’re twins. Just call us Goofus and Gallant.

Since we’ve ‘grown up’, we have less time to spend together but we try our best to rib each other via email, IMs and occasional direct connects.

My brother and I weren’t latch key kids per say but we did spend a lot of time alone together. When your young and left to your own devices, you make up the strangest games to pass the time. We’ve made casinos, schools, libraries, mazes.

One particular maze included climbing up to the attic and shimmying down a tiny crawl space into my brother’s bedroom closet. Once, during a well planned chase through our maze, my brother and I cornered a family friend who was substantially less nimble as us. We doused him with iced tea mix and hot water. He left a sticky wet mess.

My brother and I were the kings of mazes and obstacle courses. Every cushion, blanket and chair was used. Fans were deployed to create wind tunnels. Ropes with secret messages were hidden everywhere.

Now that we’re older, we don’t get to spend as much time together but we try to correspond often. Work and everyday life seems to get in our way but I know we’re still there for each other. I could use a good power nap though.

Bro, if you need to decompress in between playoffs and football season, stop on by. I’ll make your favorite pasta and we’ll catch up. Just don’t bring any iced tea mixes. I just cleaned the house.

Saturday, October 01, 2005