Monday, July 31, 2006

Blunkety Blunk-Blunk! And also, what the Frack?

Hiiiiyyyeeee. I am blunking tonight. It's been a hard week, and yes, I know it's only Monday. Please don't tell me again.

Anyone want to join me and Jimi? We are drinking a lovely Rockbridge chardonnay, which was fermented in stainless steel, not oak. I hate oaky chardonnay. You know what else I hate?

Stay tuned.

Jimi says: Blunk out, man! And also-- PEACE OUT.
My husband says: These are not dolls. They are FIGURINES.

On Sunday I opened my newly-purchased FRACK mirror from IKEA. This is supposed to be one of those wall-mounted mirror things that has a regular mirror on one side and a super-magnified version on the other side.

You know, for when you want to scare yourself with an up-close view of the jagged landscape that is your face.

Ack! You mean I have pores? And freckles? And little white scars where I've had pre-cancerous skin removed?

Et tu, skin? This is totally uncalled for.

I remember very clearly that the FRACK mirror in the store was mounted to the wall with screws. But guess what was in the package?

No screws. Et tu, IKEA?

Behold, the cryptic instructions for installation:

Um, yes. Anyhow, I fought the FRACK and I won.

By the way, M just now came into the office and exclaimed, what are you doing publishing pictures of my Jimi Hendrix doll?

THANK you very much.

And now for the previously mentioned hate.

I love you Burt, you and your bees and your oddly-bearded face. So why did you betray me this way?

Burt's Bees Honey lip balm is the worst. It is dry and bumpy, not unlike sandpaper. And there is no refreshing, pepperminty whoosh like with regular Burt's.

You have been warned.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

What I Did During My Summer Vacation (now with free links!)

Mom and Aunt Lori went home to Florida today, so now I can stop perspiring on the steps of monuments and go back to... whatever it is that I do.

Yesterday was another day of very sweaty tourist activity. First we hit Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot. I've been there so many times, both for sightseeing and for plays, that I brought a magazine to read while they looked around. Was that spoil-sporty of me? I felt as though I should walk around and look at all the displays, but I really didn't want to feign interest in something that is definitely interesting and important, but a little overcooked for me. It felt inevitable-- I had to bring reading material or I would've ended up at Tosca, drinking Chianti. Anyhow, that's always a dilemma. I want for guests to take all the time they want as they sightsee, but at the same time, I've already memorized every detail of Dorothy's ruby slippers . Would it make you feel... restricted or deflated if I sat and read quietly while you explored an exhibit?

(I am liking the italics tonight!)


After Ford's Theater we went to the top of the tower at the Old Post Office Pavillion, where we met two delightful blond boys from Germany. Their nametags indicated that they were affiliated with some international religious organization, so as we descended I nervously pressed my face against the far side of the elevator lest I act like an ass (as I am wont to do when I sense impending evangelization).

Germans: Guten Tag! Have you ever been to our beautiful country?


Germans: What the bratwurst?

We ate lunch at the pavillion at the Ronald Reagan building, where I nearly tackled two besuited men in order to secure the last shady table. When they protested, I flashed my library card and muttered something about homeland security (it was really hot, did I mention that?).

Then we walked to the American History museum, where we immediately made an about-face because my aunt realized that she had thrown her newly-purchased souvenier hat in a trash can back at the Reagan building. She was too mortified to rummage through the bin, so I cheerfully volunteered. As I handed it to her I loudly exclaimed, "WHAT A FIND!"

I learned that it is possible for a person to nearly die of embarrassment. I didn't know she was so sensitive, okay?

Then we were off to the National Gallery of Art, where we saw great masterpieces by great masters. And then off to Capitol Hill, where we saw many serious people in wrinkled suits. That night we went to see Flip Orley at the Improv, where we saw many drunk people in wrinkled polo shirts. Some of them were hypnotized and drunk.

I never fail to find this very, very funny.

So tomorrow I go back to work. The thought of all the air conditioning and lack of memorials is somewhat overwhelming.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hey-- all the magazine models are doing it.

My mom and aunt are visiting from Florida this week, so I've taken a couple of days off to play tour guide.

Besides spending four hours in an IKEA and having nothing to show for it but a paper tape measure and a citrus zester named STRILA, the most exhausting activity so far was yesterday's walking tour of DC. In the hot, hot sun. With me being all albino and excessively sweaty.

It's kind of a blur to me now, but it went something like this:

Metro-Capitol Building-Washington Monument-Jefferson Memorial-FDR Memorial-WW II Memorial-Korean War Memorial-Lincoln Memorial-Vietnam War memorial-LUNCH AND COLD, COLD DRINKS AT BREADLINE THANK GOD!-White House(viewed from front and back)-Sculpture Garden-Museum of the American Indian-Metro.

On the metro ride home M offered his seat to a little girl and her mother, and they accepted gratefully. A moment after they collapsed into the seat next to me, the girl pressed her nose against my arm, inhaled deeply, and then stared at me, puzzled.

"What do you smell like?" she asked.

I hunched down in my seat and glared at her. "If you can't guess, I'm not going to tell you."

Tha night, it only seemed right that we reward our stamina with cool showers and lots of wine, which we did. After which it only seemed right that we pull out all my high heels and try them on with white socks.

I can't remember why it seemed like a good idea, but it was.

Meet my aunt's legs:

(M wants you to know that while he participated in the getting drunk, he was not drunk enough to try on my heels.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"The sudden blush devours them, neck and brow..."

Yesterday I got an email forward from a friend. It's a list of questions that I'm required to answer and forward on to other friends. It's supposed to help you bond with your friends, but I suspect that people really want to find out if they're the only ones who would eat live cockroaches in exchange for a date with Johnny Depp.


Anyhow, I hate these questionnaires. I never know how to answer them, probably because I have a compulsion for honesty. Even the benign, “What is your favorite color?” throws me into a tailspin. It all depends on the day! And what I’m wearing! And what if I have a tie but the question asks for my favorite, not my two favorites, and ooooooooooh nooooooooo…

It can literally take me hours to finish one of these things.

So one of the questions was: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?

Oh man, I've sweated this one. I can’t just throw any old embarrassing incident out there. It has to really, truly be the most embarrassing thing ever.

But I just couldn’t decide. So here are four of them (at least, four of the ones I’m willing to share with the world). Which one do you think is the most embarrassing?

1) On the way to my first day at a new job, I ran over a bird with my car. I came into the office sobbing and had to call my mother.

2) There was the time when I fell flat on my back in the middle of a busy intersection. In a totally graceless, arms-and-legs-flailing kind of way. And no, there wasn’t a speck of ice or snow on the ground. I’d just had two of these at the Majestic. And I was wearing perilously high-heeled boots.

But yeah, that was still pretty humiliating. I just lay there for a moment, mostly because I couldn’t believe what had just happened. There I was! On my back, in an intersection! Hello, gaping pedestrians! Hello, Mr. Man in the Moon!

3) Or there was the time in college when I found out that my good friend’s mother had cancer. A group of us took her out for ice cream. As I popped my maraschino cherry into my mouth I remarked, “I heard on the news the other day that these things can cause cancer!”

The words left my mouth and hovered over the table. We all stared at them, awestruck. Because surely no one could have just made a flippant comment about cancer. SURELY NOT.

4) Then there was the time when I took my car to the repair shop. This always sets me on edge because I’m afraid someone will try to take advantage of me, so I compensate by trying to appear extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about spark plugs and timing belts and… catalytic converters.

So the mechanic calls me to the front to discuss the estimate. “Liz?”

I pick up my purse and stride purposefully to the counter. “Yes? Is it the defibrillator, like I suspected?”

He cheeks turn a deep pink color and he motions toward my chest.

I looked down. Three buttons on my shirt had somehow come undone. My girls were practically reaching out to shake hands with the man.

Much to the delight of everyone in the waiting room.

So, what do you think? Please tell me someone can top one of these.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I have a sense of impending doom. There are multiple reasons for this.

Today I am wearing a pale pink shirt with light linen pants. For breakfast I have a nice, juicy fruit salad with lots of red and purple fruits. For lunch I have whole wheat penne with veggie meatballs and blood-red marinara.

The odds that I will last the day without spilling one or both of these things on myself? Slim to none.

Tomorrow we’re having a handyman come to the house to install new handles on all of our kitchen cabinets and drawers. I know! First of all, it’s kind of sad that we’re paying someone to do this when we have a perfectly good drill, but hey.

Handles? $6.99 each.

Drill? $75.00

Ability to perfectly align two screws twenty-three times in a row? Total shit.

But here’s the thing:

My husband hired the handyman without checking any references.


I have to admit that this goes against every fiber of my being. I’m a librarian, people! I don’t buy anything or hire anyone without checking Washington Consumer’s Checkbook and Consumer Reports. And maybe a few databases.

Case in point:

Last year, M and I met at a department store after work so we could pick out a new mattress. He eyed me suspiciously as I got out of my car.

“What’s in that folder?” he asked.

“My research.”

“Your research? On what?”


“You did research on mattresses.”

“You bet I did. We could have this thing for the next 8-10 years!”

“Can’t we just lie down on a few of them? Isn’t that enough research?”

“Do you want me to have a heart attack?”

He grabbed the folder from me.

“Oh, Lord. You even highlighted the research. And made notes in the margins.”

I snatched it back.

“You just wait until we’re 100% satisfied with our mattress selection! Then you’ll be begging my forgiveness!”

That's the way I do things. M chose our handyman by looking at his website and speaking with him on the phone for two minutes.

“Well, what did you ask him?” I demanded. “How do you know he’s any good?”

“He said he’s been using handles to open cabinets for the past 45 years. What can I say? I was impressed.”

“HA! Ha ha ha. That’s really funny.”

“I don’t know. He just seems like a nice guy.”

“Okay. I can be a grown-up about this. You made the choice, and I’ll support you.”


“But nothing! I just have to go now.”

“To do what?”

“To hyperventilate, if you must know!”

Last night I had a dream.

The handyman was installing the handles. I was in another room of the house, reading a book. I was so proud of myself, being all calm and casual-like while a totally unverified stranger was making holes in my kitchen cabinets!

“Okay, ma’am!” he called out. “I’m all done!”

“Great!” I said. I was so trusting that I didn’t even go into the kitchen to check his work. I just handed him the check and opened the front door for him. “Thanks!”

Still calm! Totally calm!

But then I entered the kitchen.

Handles and knobs of all sorts were on my cabinets. Crookedly. Haphazardly. There were pulls from my childhood dresser. From my parent’s old kitchen cabinets. The handle from our sliding glass door made an appearance, too! It was nailed squarely to the center of one of the cabinet doors.

I woke up gasping for breath.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

This weekend marks our 6th wedding anniversary. And this is the twelfth year that M and I have been together.

On my wedding day I was happy and at peace. I married without fear or reservation. When we had Grow old with me engraved in our wedding bands, a sentiment from our favorite John Lennon song, I didn’t doubt that we'd make it to old age together.

Looking back, even just six years later, I’m astounded by how… unfinished I was. As a person. We were sure, but we didn’t know things that only time and experience can teach. We didn’t see how our personalities had yet to solidify. If you had informed me that I was still very much in my formative years on the day of my wedding, I would have scoffed at you. I know I would have said, "I know who I am! I won’t change!"

But I did.

And luckily, I’m married to a man who doesn't feel cheated by those changes. Step right up, men! Here’s a lovely, church-going girl. Who wants to marry her?

Would the salesman have lost his customer if he added that the religious belief came with only a one-year warranty?

It could have been one of a dozen other things. Buy a social worker, get a librarian! Bet on a neat-freak, win a cluttered dining room table! Order one woman who doesn’t care where she resides, receive one who wants to buy a farm! (I know... of all things...)

No matter how well you know and love someone, it’s a crapshoot, isn’t it? A wedding ring isn’t a magic preservation device. It’s not a guarantee that its keeper (or her dreams) will remain the same.

We’ve been incredibly lucky in marriage. We're in love, but we're also friends. Real friends. Neither of us can fathom getting a divorce, but I suspect that if our marriage did break up someday, we would remain close.

When we first met, I had this feeling that M would be an important person in my life. It went something like this!

My eyes settle on the young man before me. As I step forward and shake his hand, a heavenly light shineth upon me and a loud voice commandeth, "Ye have met yer future husband! Ye shall merry, and i' shall be good!"

(Why does God always sound Scottish in my head?)

Okay, I'm lying about the heavenly encounter. But I did have a feeling. Back then I might have told you that this was God speaking to me, but now I think it was that thin but critical slice of insight that only snap judgment can provide.

That confidence didn't fade.

Before we married it never occurred to us to worry about the things that might change, but we did disucss something that might not change: I couldn’t promise I’d want to be a mother someday. I knew I wasn’t ready to have children then, and I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready. He said he was willing to take that chance.

Well, guess what?

It's eight years later. He's ready, and I'm still not.

We set several tentative “start trying!” dates, and I extended them. All of them. We’ve discussed it ad nauseam.

We should save more money.
We should enjoy being worry-free.
We should travel more.
We should get a bigger house first.

We should.

We should.

We should.

I’ve embraced many changes in myself, but I’m finding lots of reasons to postpone this one. And the certainty that's visited me at critical junctures in the past seems to be MIA.

The truth is, I'm scared to death of being a mother.

The issue isn’t splitting us up. But it’s there. And while I know M would still love me, still want to be my husband even if my lack of baby-readiness is the one thing about me that NEVER changes, I know that my dreams are tied up in his dreams of being a father.

That’s what marriage is. Dreams intertwined.

Pull on one, and all of them move.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I don't know what to make of this

(DISCLAIMER: This post is not for small children, the faint of heart, or Aunt Betty.)

Something terrifying awaited me when I came home from work on Tuesday.

"Hey, look!" my husband said as I entered the kitchen. "It's our daily Victoria's Secret catalog!"

I felt a prickling sensation on the back of my neck, and not just because I know that the Earth's eventual demise will come from overflowing Victoria's Secret landfills and women spontaneously combusting out of their leather demi push-up bras and chain-link thongs.

"Look at this," M said, and the nightmare began.




AAAARGH!!!! I can't even say it! See for yourself:

LEGGINGS! They're back.

Even the ones with stirrup bottoms. EEEEEEEK!

"Didn't see that one coming, did you? HA.
Also, I can see that you're totally jealous of my
Pirates of the Caribbean shirt. Arrrrr, bitches."

If people start wearing those leggings with lace trim again, I will cry upon remembering the five pair that I donated to charity in 1992. Not because I no longer have them, but because I actually wore them. And because now someone else's ankles are itching.

There was more horror to come...

"Guess why I look so surprised?"

"Because I'm wearing socks with my
platform sandals, THAT'S WHY."

And she's not the only one. On the next page was a picture of another model wearing platform sandals with socks, and the caption read, "Oh! Oh! I am, too! IT IS OFFICIALLY A TREND! I AM TRENDY!"

Now I'll admit that there was a time in my life when I wore thick, wool socks with my Birkenstocks and jeans. And I was somewhat proud of this.

Now I am somewhat embarrassed. And I have a feeling that anyone who participates in this latest fashion trend will have to go back in a year and cut the bottoms of all of their pictures to hide the fact that they once WORE ANKLE SOCKS WITH HIGH HEELS.

(Side note: is it a waste of prayer to ask God that the socks never, ever be paired with flip-flops?)

Also trendy, apparently, is wearing tank tops and camisoles over bulky, long-sleeved shirts. Yes. And yes.

I think I need to hide
behind the toilet now...

Alex took one look and started ripping the catalog to shreds. Then he fled in terror. I knew he needed sedatives for thunderstorms, but for the Fall Preview, too?

This is serious.


Monday, July 10, 2006

"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize!"

This weekend was packed with activity, whirling and somersaulting past me until Sunday afternoon, when we got home from a visit with our niece and nephews. I thought I would get a few hours of quiet time until I remembered that I needed to make two cakes from scratch, one red velvet with cream cheese frosting and one coconut with coconut crème frosting. But that’s another story. And another weekend when we didn’t get any laundry done.

(But we got new countertops a couple of weeks ago, did I tell you that? And staring at their shiny loveliness makes you forget your dirty laundry. And also the baking cake that is filling the kitchen with smoke...)

On Saturday morning my mother-in-law and I headed over two hours south to a very rural part of Virginia where my sister-in-law’s surprise bridal shower was to take place in a very small church.

The entire shindig was being organized by Laura’s future in-laws, which included one tall, strong-willed, and very proper Aunt Betty, and her equally tall, strong-willed, and proper daughter.

I’m guessing that the “strong-willed” part is what resulted in the shower being wrested away from my mother-in-law, despite the fact that she is both the mother of the bride AND the matron of honor. So! There may have been some hard feelings surrounding the fact of our mere presence at this party, along with the presence of about 20 New Jersey and New York relatives, who were not going to allow my mother-in-law to be forced to sit across the street with the cows. Fuggedaboutit, y’all.

The instant I walked in I felt like the Wicked Whore of the North, as I was wearing a sleeveless, low-cut (yet tasteful) black top with a knee-length skirt and black high-heeled sandals, while Betty and her daughter were looking churchly in their long skirts, twinsets, and pearls.

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong!
Can you tell which one is a skanky slut
By the time I finish my song?

Since they were ignoring me, I walked up and stuck out my hand.

“Hi, I don’t believe we’ve met!” I chirped. “I’m Liz, Laura’s sister-in-law.”

“Ooooh!” they cooed, all smiles. “Are you the one who came from Georgia?”

“No, that’s Laura’s other sister-in-law. Actually, I’m from the DC area.”

They looked away as though I'd said something embarrassing.

“Uh…is there anything I can do to help?”

“Well sure, honey!” Betty said. She looked around the room, at a loss. Everything was clearly under control, the entire affair being expertly executed by her and her daughter. Suddenly she clapped her hands together and pointed to a stack of plastic cutlery. “I know! Why don’t you set out the forks?”

I guess fork arranging seemed like a safe enough task to relinquish. Out at the buffet, I struggled. Should I put them in the shape of a cross? Or a 666, just for giggles? In the end I decided on an artsy spiral design.

Back in the kitchen, Betty and her daughter were struggling with an immense punch bowl. I rushed over. “Can I help you with that?”

“NO!” they almost shouted.

“We’ve got it!” said Betty’s daughter amended. “But thanks!”

Then I made the mistake of asking if there was going to be wine.

Betty and her daughter looked at me.

I smiled.

They looked at me some more.

I mulled over the fact that I was standing in a church fellowship hall with two ladies who read the Bible for fun.

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “You thought I was expecting wine at the SHOWER! But…no! What I mean, of course, is… will there be wine at church this Sunday? Or do you all use grape juice instead?”

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong!
Can you tell which one is an alcoholic Satan worshipper
By the time I finish my song?

But you know what? I think they warmed up to me. I was in charge of making the Very Important ribbon bouquet, which Laura will use during the wedding rehearsal. My adorable six year old niece, who will be the flower girl, was Laura’s special gift-opening assistant and brought all the bows and ribbons to me so I could weave them onto my paper plate.

My niece adores me, and every time she brought me a bow that was especially pretty she hugged me in excitement. I guess the evidence that this angelic child loves me, coupled with the fact that I did not turn said child into a goat, meant that I was worthy of some respect.

Also, my ribbon bouquet kicked ass and was bigger than Laura’s entire head. The Steel Magnolias were impressed.

I heard a chorus of “Nice to meet you!” as I was leaving, and it seemed like they meant it. Still, I’ll have to watch my step at the wedding. Me getting down to some Snoop Dogg in my periwinkle bridesmaid dress might be too much shiznit for them to handle.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hello down there!

This morning was my annual date with the nurse practitioner to have all my girl bits scraped, poked, and prodded. I really don’t mind it. I mean, I don’t enjoy it, but I prefer it to going to the dentist. I’m not an anti-dentite, but at least I don’t leave my gynecologist’s office with gritty teeth and my mascara smeared up to my forehead.

My mom informed me that it was time to start having this annual “check-up” when I was a teenager.

“They’re going to do what?” I asked. “Are you sure this is completely necessary?”

On the day of that first appointment, I was nervous. Yeah, just a tad bit teeth-chatteringly nervous. After the nice doctor introduced herself and left the room, I stripped and changed into the paper robe fast as lightning. As I sat on the examination table I eyed the instruments that had been laid out by the nurse. The plastic model of the female reproduction system.

The stirrups at the end of the table.

I wondered if it was too late to change my mind.

The doctor breezed back in. “Okay, Liz! I’m going to ask you to lie down, put your feet in the stirrups, and scoot down towards me. I’ll tell you everything I’m about to do, and what it will feel like.”

I stretched out on the table and put my feet in the stirrups.

“Move down a bit further, all the way to the end of the table.”

I inched slightly closer and waited. She looked up at me. “All the way down.”

I sighed and moved all the way down.

“Good! Now go ahead and separate your knees for me.”

I moved them two inches apart.

She looked up again. "Just let them fall apart, as far as they'll naturally go."

Sweet Jesus. Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret.

Make conversation! a little voice said. Talking will help you forget that she's viewing your insides with a headlamp!

"I must, I must, I must increase my bust!"

Not THAT, genius. Something else.

“So!" I said, my fingers gripping the sides of the table. “How did you get interested in this?”

The doctor’s laughter pretty much drowned out the sound of me bashing myself over the head with the plastic uterus.

But I survived. And every year since then, I’ve gone faithfully. My husband got curious about these “special” appointments and wanted to know what happens when I go. Perhaps he was imagining luxurious spa treatments? Massages? Lingerie-clad pillow fights with other female patients?

Liz: Well, first you change into a paper robe...

M: Uh huh…

Liz: ...and she's checking for any lumps. Then they take a speculum and they use it to…

M: What? WHY?

Liz: It helps them see what’s going on in there. And then they take a little spatula and…


Liz: Well, it doesn’t hurt, it’s just to get some cells so they can check for abnormalities. So after that, she removes the speculum and then she…

M: …with both hands?

Liz: Well, it’s not her entire hand that’s up there; it’s just a couple of fingers. One hand inside, one outside. So she feels around to make sure everything is okay…

M: They’re just randomly… swirling things around in there?

Liz: I hear it’s widely used, medically-sound procedure.

M: Okay, good.

Liz: ...and that’s pretty much it. It’s over.

M: Wow. All that and they don’t even buy you dinner first?

Liz: No. But they do take my temperature and blood pressure. Oh! And once they gave me a free pack of birth control pills! That rocked.

M: At least a glass of wine!

Liz: Yeah, they should really have a bar in the waiting room. They could put it next to the lingerie closet. Or the mud-wrestling pit.

M: Now you're just being silly.

Liz: Or by the cotton candy machine!

M: I knew it!

Liz: Yeah, it's just like Disney World.