Thursday, June 29, 2006

You Are the Dancing Queen! (but I'm not)

I must have mentioned my obsession with dancing before.

I love to dance! And I do, all the time. At home. In my car. At clubs. And weddings.

Not that lack of technical skill has ever stopped me, but I really wish I knew how to do it properly.

Now that The Amazing Race is over, I’ve turned my attentions to the second season of So You Think You Can Dance, which I love and which has transformed my previously boring Wednesday nights into two solid hours of leaping around the family room.

Reaching back into childhood and adolescence, I remember art lessons. I recall playing soccer and swimming many laps as a competitive swimmer. There were a couple years of gymnastics. More than a couple years of piano lessons. I even took trampoline lessons once! Oh yes. Don’t challenge my bouncing skills.

But for some reason my mom never asked me if I wanted to become a hip-hop queen. Or a jazz champ. I would even settle for the “Marginally Good at Waltzing” award.

I do not know how to let a man lead me when I’m dancing with a partner. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Control issues? A fear of dancing backwards off a cliff? Am I trying to start a feministic dancing revolution?

My husband is used to it. However, at a recent wedding I danced with another man and I could feel that he was trying to guide me, to make me twirl, or dip, or FOR GOD’S SAKE, JUST LET ME DO SOMETHING. I wanted to oblige him, but my body flatly refused.

In my classes at the gym I’ve noticed that many of the women know things. Like how to hold their fingers in a certain ballerina-way while stretching. Or how to spin around three times in a row without ending up two feet away from where they started. Even some of the men know these things.


I’ve been able to pick up on some of these secret moves, but there’s only so much I can copy without being obvious. And pathetic. But I am determined, DETERMINED that one day, not only will I have fun dancing, but I will look like I know what I’m doing. There’s just the small matter of getting to that day.

I must also confess that I am in love with the host of So You Think You Can Dance, Cat Deeley. She has the. cutest. accent. ! For example, when she says "Martha", it sounds like "Marther." And just wait until you hear her say "Let's meet our judges!" The amount of cuteness that leaks from your TV when Cat says "judges!" will melt your 6-burner stainless steel Viking range. M is more than a little tired of listening to me repeat everything she says during the commercial breaks.

"You two were dancing fools out there! That was extraordinary! Judges, what did you think?"

Then I point my pretend microphone at M.

M: (sighs tiredly)

I told M that he can have an affair with Cat if he wants to. That's how adorable I think she is. But if I find out she can tap dance, I may have to keep her all to myself.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Frightened Pups and Sticky Nuts

You may recall that I was supposed to go to New Jersey over the weekend. Again.

But I didn’t!

Instead, I stayed home with the dog.

I begged M to tell his relatives that I was sick. I could imagine the talk, the rolling eyes and the “Do they know that dog is not a REAL CHILD?” But the man cannot tell a lie. Within hours, people up and down the East coast knew that Liz was skipping the event because she was going to stay home and baby-sit a dog.

I didn’t have second thoughts about our decision, not at all. Thunderstorms were expected to continue all weekend, and in our minds, leaving our storm-phobic dog alone in the house (with periodic walks and feedings with the girls next door) would be downright cruel. So I volunteered to stay home, comfort, and administer sedatives.

Which I did.

Saturday morning I woke up, saw M off, and jumped in the car to head to the gym. My old school hip-hop compilation CD was playing, and my personal fave, Bust a Move, was on.

It was on my favorite part (She’s dressed in yellow, she says hello, ‘Come sit next to me, you fine fellow!’) when I heard something funny going on with my car. I pulled off and got out to take a look.

Flat tire.

Since my house was nearby, I turned the car around and drove back.

I was feeling quite capable. With the emergency brake in position and the car in park, I got out the extra tire, the jack, and the lug wrench. I even got the gloves out of the 50-pound roadside emergency kit that M bought me. My dad would have been so proud! (this is the man who regularly requested 200-count boxes of lightly powdered latex gloves for Christmas. Apparently wearing gloves is a sign that you are SERIOUS about fixing stuff. Which I am. Obviously.)

I briefly considered lighting a flare, since I’ve always wanted to light a flare. But that might have been overkill. Instead, I pulled out the miniature orange cones and placed them strategically on the driveway. WATCH OUT, they screamed, PROFESSIONAL TIRE-CHANGER AT WORK!

I put on my gloves, grabbed my lug wrench, and positioned it on one of the lug nuts. Yep! I’ll just pop these babies off and we’ll be on our way.

I strained and grunted. The nut did not move.

I tried again.


It wouldn’t budge. Okay. I moved on to the next one, singing You’re the Best from the Karate Kid soundtrack.


The second one didn’t move, either. Neither did the third, or the fourth. As I grunted and strained my face turned a very plummy shade of purple. Singing quickly gave way to “You little fucking fuckers... get the fuck OFF!”

Twenty minutes later, I had to admit defeat. I collapsed on the driveway and stared up at my car. I wasn’t Daniel-san. I was just a person who didn’t have enough upper body strength to remove a few measly lug nuts. I scowled at my inadequate biceps.

My eyes scanned the car and came to rest on a clear sticker on the window.


Oh, for Pete’s sake.

They sent someone to my house within 30 minutes. I ran out to meet him when he arrived. He was a nice, fatherly sort named Ed. He took one look at the spread on the driveway and drawled, “Honey! Yew didn’t trah to chaynge that tahr yoself, did yew?"

I nodded feebly. “I couldn’t get the lug nuts off.”

Ed glanced at my lug wrench. “Well, that’s because they give yew that tiny wreynch! You can’t get no lev’rage with that. Look, here’s what yew need!”

He pulled out his big, man-sized wrench and had those nuts off in one minute flat. Just in time, as the thunder was booming once again.

“Yew could do it, I can tell,” he said. “Yew jus need the right tool, is all.”

I wanted to hug Ed, but he was kind of sweaty. Instead, I scowled at my inadequate lug wrench.

After the new tire was on, I said goodbye to Ed and went inside. By that time I was too tired to go to the gym.

There was also the small matter of coaxing my dog out from his hiding spot, which took twice as long as the whole tire ordeal.


Hello, you've reached the Phobic Dog Assistance hotline! Press one if your dog is hiding behind the washing machine.


Your dog is behind the washing machine! Please listen to the following instructions!

Take one vet-prescribed sedative from the pill bottle. Stick the pill in a little peanut butter on the end of a long wooden spoon. Extend spoon behind washing machine and get a little peanut butter on the dog's nose. When he starts licking, gently insert the spoon handle into his mouth. Make sure he doesn't spit the pill out.

Wait 30 minutes. Remove dog from behind washing machine. Promise to kick the thunder's ass if necessary.

(Don't tell your dog you couldn't get your lug nuts off, or he might not believe that last part)

Friday, June 23, 2006

WORK THROUGH THE PAIN! (or just sit there with your leg in the air)

So I got my first Charlie Horse at the gym yesterday. Good God, that hurt like a motherfucker. My husband gets them sometimes, during which I helpfully tell him, “Try to relax the muscle!” Which, no. Now that I’ve actually had one, I’m surprised he hasn’t decked me by now. If it were possible to just “relax” the muscle there would be no need to scream in pain, now would there?

I had been on the elliptical machine for a while, and then switched to a bike. As I swung my left leg over the bike, my right calf muscle clenched and *poof!* turned itself into a rock-hard knot of breathtaking PAIN.

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about this?

My Husband: Ahem.

Oh... right. So sorry. See? Everything happens for a reason! I'll totally be able to empathize next time!

So I sat there on the bike with my right leg in the air, unable to either set it on the ground or on the bike pedal. I was frozen. I was a statue. If someone had tapped me with an ice pick I would have shattered into five thousand pieces. The only thing moving was my trembling lips.

“Mehhhmeme bwa bwa bwa horry shit…!” I gasped.

“Hey!” said the dude next to me, looking interested. “Are you French?”


He shook his head. “I don’t speak French.”

I sat there with my leg out for another minute or so. Eventually I felt the muscle slowly releasing its death grip. A tear leaked from my eye as I gingerly lowered my leg to the ground.

I tried to dismount the bike and almost fell on the floor.

"Just focus on relaxing the muscle!" I told myself, firmly. Then I punched myself in the face.

That night, two things happened.

One: Two guys from Comcast were at our house until 11 p.m., trying to install our high speed Internet.

It still doesn’t work. They’re coming back this afternoon.

Two: We had some of the most ferocious thunderstorms I’ve ever seen, which hit just before the Comcast guys left. We gave them garbage bags to help protect their cables and tools, but they were soaked the instant they stepped outside. The rain was coming down in sheets and it sounded like the lightning was coming through the roof. This lasted, off and on, ALL NIGHT.

The dog, obviously, was terrified. Now here’s my question—have any of you ever medicated a pet to relieve extreme fear or panic in situations like that? This isn’t a mild "nervousness". He pants heavily, shakes, drools, and hides behind the toilet until the thunder stops or until M and I go to another part of the house. I'm afraid he could have a heart attack if this keeps up.

I’ll consult the vet, of course, but I’m curious about what may have worked for others.

Okay, now I need a leg massage. Who wants to go first?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Quick, where's the REWIND button?

Okay, kids, time to play a guessing game!

Guess who was checking email yesterday when she was supposed to be paying attention to the instructor in her graphics design training?

Who got an email from the president of her workplace, announcing that we would be given a paid day off on July 3rd, courtesy of the governor?

Who meant to hit Forward, with the intention of sharing the news with her spouse, but in fact hit Reply?

Who added a snarky note that basically said, Ha! We must have gotten it because the gov feels guilty about the budget fiasco!, and also added a winky face?

Who saw the president’s name in the TO: box, just as she was hitting the Send button?

Whose face turned five shades of flaming red?

Who flung herself onto the monitor, moaning Nooooooo….

Who immediately sent a second reply that read, Whoops, I sent that email by mistake! ISN'T THAT FUNNY? Ha. Ha. Ha? And also, Please don't fire me, for I really enjoy eating.


Guess who got an email reply from the president this morning?

He sounded amused. He said something very nice to me, which I will not repeat here for fear that he could be busted for associating with an anti-politician bibliophile.

I have not been fired. Nor did I receive a bonus for making the president laugh.

Well, at least my dog thinks I’m a genius.

I like to eat, too.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I shall serve no fries before their time

I’ve started and trashed four entries over the past few days. My mind is buzzing from lack of sleep and I’m feeling a bit zombie-ish.

Zombish? Zombick?


This is my evening routine lately:

1) Eat dinner
2) Think about the things I should do: iron, clean, protest war
3) Do the things I feel like doing: play with dog, go for a walk, read.
4) Get sleepy.
5) Go upstairs.
6) Brush teeth.
7) Remove toys and rawhide chews from bed.
8) Stretch out on nice, comfy bed.
9) Turn out light.
10) Lie
11) there
12) with
13) eyes
14) wide
15) open

As an introvert, I know I need quiet time to recharge my batteries. What’s ridiculous is the amount of quiet time I need. Not an hour. Not an afternoon. Not even a whole day would be enough at this point.

Work’s been extremely busy lately and the weekends even more so. Last weekend we were up in New Jersey for a wedding. This weekend we’re traveling south to visit my sister-in-law for her birthday. Guess where we’re going the weekend after that? New Jersey! Again! We just can’t get enough of New Jersey and its many diners!

(by the way—and this question has been plaguing my mind for quite some time—why is it illegal to pump your own gas in Jersey? I can’t fathom why, unless someone managed to drench himself while smoking a cigarette back in the day.)

I took Monday, July 3rd off so I could have a four-day weekend (we’ll have Tuesday off for the Fourth of July). Then I turned right around and agreed to work at the public library that Saturday.

Now I kind of want to pull my ear off and gnaw on it for a while.

You’d think that sleep would come quickly and easily at night, since sleeping time is the only quiet time I can get right now. But the opposite happens. The moment my mind catches a glimpse of the 8 (okay, more like 6) silent hours ahead, all the thinking and reflecting I haven’t been keeping up with rushes over me like a tidal wave. So I stare at the ceiling for a while, then creep downstairs to the couch, where I watch educational TV programming, such as the World Pastry Cup on Food Network, or Fast Times at Ridgemont High (that’s some good acting right there).

(by the way—I wonder how the pizza guy makes it through the school’s armed security checkpoint when he comes to deliver Spicoli’s pizza? And also, I may be the last person in the WORLD to figure out that Stacy was played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. See, it’s a good thing I watched it all the way through, or I’d still be walking around like a dumbass swearing that it was Elisabeth Shue.)


(I wanted to post some pictures here, but I've been trying for the past 24 hours and Blogger ain't budging. So just close your eyes and picture me passed out on the couch while Alex races around the family room, growling and tearing the newspaper to shreds.)

(if you also want to picture Bon Jovi lying next to me, and pretend that the couch is actually a hammock in a Hawaiian beach cabana, I won't object.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Now you'll understand why I love Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion

I have a small problem. Actually, I have two, but I figured you wouldn't want to see the stash that consists of 4 varieties of breath mints, one container of Listerine Breath Strips and six packs of peppermint gum. According to my husband my breath is usually quite nice, but the paranoia is beastly and slowly taking over an entire desk drawer at work.

Eff off, halitosis. Trust me, you don't want to play in my mouth.

No, the shameful secret I'm exposing today is my obsession with Post-It Notes. Help. Please. It looks like Rainbow Brite vomited all over my desk.

I started using Post-Its as a way to look cool and fit in at work, but it quickly devleoped into a pack-a-week habit. First I tried the 3x3 square ones, because everyone said they weren't really serious Post-Its. But wouldn't you know it? Everything they said in the D.A.R.E program was true! The standard yellow squares were just the "gateway" Post-Its that led me straight to hell.

My so-called "friends" only made things worse, introducing me to new ways to abuse Post-Its:

It's like a dealer is living right on my desk!

Jumbo-size is for experienced users only.
Do not try this at home.

And my husband? He's the worst one of all. A total enabler. He bought this for me, and brought it into our home:


(holds paper bag over face and breathes rapidly)

Is this what he meant when he promised to love me in sickness?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Once Was Lost

It rained a little on the morning of the Race for the Cure. The air was moist and wind whipped through the trees as we left our house at 6:30 a.m. I got a little worried, as my perplexing allergy/asthma/whatever-you-want-to-call-it attacks seem to happen when it’s humid. I pictured myself passing out on the race route with my eyes swollen shut as mucus poured from my nose and 50,000 runners trampled my body. Perhaps a drowned rat would float past.

I packed the Benadryl in our backpack o’ stuff and off we went. M and I made our way to the runner’s start on Constitution Avenue and I squeezed up next to the announcer’s stand, where Condoleeza Rice and “Man About Town” Bob Madigan were looking official and being largely ignored by the crowd. I dropped two pink Benadryl capsules into my sports bra in case of major catastrophe. And we were off!

I had no allergy problems whatsoever. As I crossed the finish line my eyes scanned the crowds for M. I turned in the ticket from my race bib and joined the throng of people who were sweatily congratulating each other and gulping down water. I walked up one side of the street and down the other. Where was he?

Then I noticed that runners were being split between two different exits. So I walked over to the other exit and searched. He wasn't at that one, either.

“Hmm,” I thought. “What would Bill Gates do?”

Bill Gates would come up with a genius-like formula that would lead directly to the location of my husband!

The Formula:
Walk from one exit to the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

As I walked to and fro I tried to get into M’s head.

“Hmm,” I thought. “Where would M be?”

a) Already back home, bitter that he had to get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday.
b) Over at the maze of vendor tents, snapping up all the free bananas and bottled water.
c) In a Port-o-John?
d) Trying to get Condi’s autograph. Or worse, Bob Madigan’s. How embarrassing.
e) Standing by the giant Yoplait Yogurt balloon, because one year that had been our meeting place.

Hot damn! I had penetrated his brain!

M must have seen that the runners were being split between two exits and knew it would be hard for us to find each other. He correctly assumed that I'd remember meeting by the giant Yoplait Yogurt balloon in 2003 and sense that he’d selected the same meeting place this year. Of course!

But I looked around and discovered that there was no giant Yoplait Yogurt this year. However, there was a giant Sun Chips balloon.

Eureka! M knew that I would notice the absence of the giant Yoplait Yogurt and by default meet him at the nearest Giant Floating Food Balloon. And there it was!

But M wasn’t.

By now, over an hour had passed. The walkers were crossing the finish line. With every pair of Nikes I became more anxious.

“STOP!” I wanted to yell. “You’re crowding the streets! STOP MOVING FOR ONE GOSH-DANGED SECOND!” (I thought it inappropriate to curse at a breast cancer fundraiser)

Instead, I tried to be logical. I thought, “What would the Girl Scouts do?”

I decided to seek the point of highest elevation so I would be more visible. I found a tree growing on a tiny hill on the mall. I stepped on top of the hill. I leaned against the tree. And waited.

And waited.

For an hour.

I was embarrassed to feel tears springing to my eyes. Where was he? Had he been kidnapped? Had he been fatally attacked by a drowned rat? It had been two hours. Surely something was wrong.

The wind blew and I shivered. I thought of the nice, warm sweatshirt in M’s backpack. A tear leaked from my eye.

A little boy tapped me on the butt. I looked down at him.

“Can I stand on this bump now?” he asked.

Fuck, it wasn’t doing me any good. I relinquished my bump and trudged across the street. The crowd was thinning. Most of the free bananas had been eaten and people were leaving. I made my way to the announcer’s stand, hoping he might be willing to call M’s name over the loudspeaker.

And suddenly, there he was. Right in front of me, looking frantic. And totally not seeing me.

“M!” I yelled, and waved my arms. We ran to each other.

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” we exclaimed simultaneously.

“I’ve been standing right there, right next to the finish line!” M said. “Where have YOU been?”

“I ran across the finish line!” I blubbered. “And then I went to the Sun Chips balloon! And then I stood under a tree!”

M shook his head. “I was worried sick. I thought you had an allergy attack and had to go to the hospital!”

I grabbed his hand and dragged him across the street. “Look!” I pointed. “I’ve been standing by that tree for the last hour!”

He pointed to where he had been standing. “I was right there, watching for you the whole time!”

The two places were about twenty yards apart.

“Oh no,” I groaned. “We are such losers.” We collapsed in a fit of laughter.

“WHERE ARE YOU?” M exclaimed, running into me on purpose. “I CAN”T SEE YOU!”

“I CAN’T FIND MY HUSBAND!” I yelled, tripping over his feet. “WHERE IS HE?”

People passing by gave us strange looks, which made us laugh all the harder.

Suddenly M stopped. “Why is your cleavage all pink?”

I looked down. I remembered the Benadryls.

I laughed.

“It’s war paint,” I said. “Let’s go.”

And off we went, hand-in-hand, the blind leading the blind.

Next year I'm bringing fireworks and a loudspeaker. And maybe Bill Gates.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Race for the Cure

Tomorrow morning I’m running the Race for the Cure. This will be my fifth year. First they were calling for a beautiful, sunny, low-humidity day, but now it looks like tonight’s rain may carry over through tomorrow morning.

That’s okay.

One year on race day, the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. It was a cool, heavy rain. It rained so hard that the DC streets flooded in places. As I ran and splashed down the street I nearly stepped on a large, drowned rat that was floating by the curb. As I yelped a guy next to me huffed, “Dude! Did you see that mother?” And I wished that I had my camera with me.

But it was fun! The Race is very energizing anyhow, even on a gorgeous day. But the rain just increased our determination to have a great time. Drummers set up shop under little tents and drummed for all they were worth. The volunteers stood on the curbs and sidewalks in their ponchos, cheering and reaching out to us with paper cups of water. The women who proudly wear their pink survivor shirts each year were especially menacing, shaking their fists at the sky and swearing no rain would steal their thunder, because they had suffered and lost their hair and maybe their breasts, but they were alive.

In DC, rain often seems to bring out the worst in people. Traffic snarls. Drivers get angry. People hurry down the sidewalks without looking at each other. But I’m kind of hoping for rain tomorrow. Like good salt in your favorite recipe, the rain seems to bring out the flavor of the day.