Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wax On, Wax Off

How do you get candle wax off of leather shoes and denim pants? We had an outdoor party on our street last weekend and it ran quite late, so everyone ran inside to get candles so we could relive our Girl and Boy Scouts days (I did it so I could pretend that I was Laura Ingalls, lost in the Big Slough), and my neighbor dropped a glass votive on our driveway at my husband's feet.

Thank god he wasn't wearing shorts and sandals, eh? Free wax job.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Donna Martin graduates!

So yesterday the best thing EVER happened. I was up at the reference desk and a professor stopped by and said, “Did any of my students tell you that I used you as an example in class yesterday?” And since she’s a nursing instructor, I laughed nervously and said, “Uh, example of what?”

  • How some people will foolishly sacrifice their podiatric health for a pair of killer heels?
  • How seasonal allergies make the eyes red and puffy?
  • How generic tissues will leave your nose dry and peeling?
  • How NOT to sit at a desk: all slumped over the keyboard with your (peeling) nose two inches from the screen?

“Posture!” she said. “We were talking about the importance of keeping the shoulders back and the chest open and I told them, go watch Liz, the blonde librarian! She has the most beautiful posture!”

I sat up straighter. “I have beautiful posture?”

“You move so gracefully! Were you a dancer?”

People.

People!

PEOPLE! She asked if I was a DANCER!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that I really admire dancers. Honestly, 'admire' is too mild a word. It’s more like I adore and envy them and long to be them and furtively watch them in the gym like a sweaty-palmed psychopathic stalker. So for her to ask if I used to be a dancer? Shot me to a beautiful, heavenly place where angels fly and choirs sing. No, I am not a dancer, but I LOOK LIKE I MIGHT BE. I’ll take it.

A few hours later I was pirouetting gracefully through the reference section when I heard a student gasp.

“Oh my God!” she said, rushing over to me. “Did anyone ever tell you that you look like--“

I waited patiently, knowingly.

“--Tori Spelling? Oh my God, you look just like her!”

I stared at her.

“No one’s ever told you that you look like Tori Spelling?”

“No,” I said flatly. “No one has ever told me that I look like Tori Spelling.”

“I can’t believe it!” the student gushed. She turned to her friend. “Doesn’t the librarian look just like Tori Spelling?”

Her friend agreed. “Totally.”


I do not know what to make of this.

Was Tori Spelling a dancer? Please tell me Tori Spelling was a dancer.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

My husband is like Carson Kressley, but straight

The weekend's mission: Find a dress to wear to an upcoming wedding.

I don't own single stitch that's appropriate for an outdoor November wedding. Of course, it was back up to 82 degrees today, so if this continues I can probably wear a bikini to the ceremony. (Mike and I finally got around to watching An Inconvenient Truth this weekend and now I feel creeped out whenever I look at the sun. We albino-types will be the first to perish.) But I have to believe that the temperature will eventually drop like it's supposed to, and so shopping was inevitable.

I'm an introvert. My body thrives on large doses of quiet and solitude. Shopping malls, with all the bright lights and crowds and smells and noises, zap my energy almost faster than I can blink. My mom and sister begrudgingly allow me to shop with them each year on Black Friday, because I enjoy spending the day with them and the sales are good. But by the one hour-mark my eyes are glazed over and my mouth is involuntarily hanging open and my mother grasps me by the shoulders and shouts, "COFFEE? DO YOU NEED COFFEE?" and my sister is all, "I TOLD YOU SHE COULDN'T HACK IT."

Late Saturday afternoon my husband and I headed to Tysons Corner Center, a local shopping mall that's roughly the size of Alaska. Mike was going along as my Motivational Shopping Assistant, and to make sure that I would return home with an actual dress and not a citrus reamer or a strawberry huller, as I am wont to do when I go dress shopping.

He did a rather impressive job. By the end of a shopping marathon, I was the happy owner of a coordinated ensemble.

"Try this one on," Mike had suggested, as I wandered aimlessly through the store. I pulled one of the dresses off the rack.

"No, try this size," he'd said, trading with me. "It'll fit better."

It fit perfectly. What planet is this man from?

It's got long sleeves with smart cuffs, a fitted bodice with a collar and four buttons, and a skirt that hits just above the knees. If I utilize all four of the buttons, I can wear it to work, too. I plan to cinch it at the waist with a large belt.

Mike also orchestrated the purchase of some accessories and shoes.

A necklace with dangly earrings to match...

And please meet my new darlings, liberated from Bloomingdale's:



Yes, I know. They're completely inappropriate for an outdoor wedding, unless you're planning to aerate the country club's lawn. But I've been looking for the perfect pair of red heels for years and now they're mine and dammit, I'm going to wear them.

And if it's cold enough, I have another accessory to wear to the wedding, and it's even better than the shoes. See what the lovely and talented Bearette made for me?

It's so incredibly soft and warm, with a cheery pompom on top. I wore it around the house all night after it arrived, and was tempted to sleep in it, too. It's the best hat ever.

Alex agrees.



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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lunch: On Losing It

On Tuesday I woke up at 5 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. Unlike the last time this happened, I didn’t toss on my sweatpants and head out for a run. I just lay there, feeling strange, but unable to determine the root of the unease.

By 7:00 a.m. a dull headache had moved in and throbbed viciously whenever I had to bend down. Kneeling with a student and explaining how to locate the Physician’s Desk Reference using the scribbled call number was simply out of the question. “There,” I’d said, pointing at the bottom shelf. “It’s the big blue book.” A freebie.

Waves of nausea arose here and there, but quickly passed. In the afternoon I left for a dentist appointment. Arriving early, I visited the Whole Foods next door. Nothing looked good to me; every normally-pleasing scent was pungent and stomach-turning. I escaped to my car, where I reclined my seat and willed my stomach to calm down. Before climbing the stairs to my dentist’s office (eleven skull-shattering steps) I stuffed a plastic grocery bag in my pocket in case I had to hurl during the exam.

(Tip: the necessity of a barf bag is probably a sign that you should reschedule your appointment)

Thankfully, I did not lose my lunch during the check-up. I tried very hard NOT to think about what I’d had for lunch, or anything I had ever eaten in my entire life, or even the flavor of the tooth polish (Creamsicle). Still, I can’t help but imagine how impressed they would have been if I’d whipped out the barf bag.

“Wow!” Dr. Smith would say as I retched. “Most patients puke in the spit bowl, but Liz comes prepared! Give her TWO free toothbrushes today, Nina!”

(and if you puke into your own barf bag while in a dentist’s office, who handles the disposal? Do they, or is it more polite to take it with you?)

Back in my moving car, the nausea gripped me with clammy hands. I blasted the air conditioning, took deep breaths, and sucked on a peppermint, just hoping to make it home before the inevitable happened. But wouldn’t you know it, there was a car wreck 2 miles from my house and half the road was blocked.

At least ten strangers now know what I had for lunch yesterday, even though they tried not to look.

A bowl of soup for dinner failed miserably. I didn't even attempt breakfast this morning. My appetitie was MIA until this afternoon, when suddenly, urgently, I wanted Lay’s potato chips more than anything I’d ever wanted in my life, and I don't even like potato chips that much. I went down to the vending machine and bought one bag, then another.

It was the most delicious meal I’ve ever had.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

OMG Bruce + Liz 4eva

After a 20-year hiatus, I have resumed my crush on Bruce Springsteen.

The Born in the USA album marked the first time that I was aware of how nice a man's butt could look in faded denim. This was a startling realization, for sure. Previously, butts were gross, meant for pooping and sitting only. But gazing at that album cover, I knew there was a whole new world to discover, and I wanted to see it as soon as humanly possible.

(Mike was somewhat confused yesterday when I bought a red baseball hat, stomped on it with my dirty hiking shoes, and then asked him to wear it in his back pocket.)

Magic is terrific. Radio Nowhere and You'll Be Coming Down are my favorites so far. Take them for a spin and see if you can resist hanging a Bruce Springsteen poster on your bedroom wall. God, the man is sex-ay.

In other news, 2Amys won the pizza face-off yesterday. It was packed when we arrived at 5:00, but upstairs seating was available immediately. I haven't been up there since they added the new space, so I was curious. It's almost library-quiet compared to the energy and (sometimes deafening) noise of the downstairs dining area, which makes it much easier to converse without shouting. I think I prefer the downstairs to the shiny newness of the upstairs, but cramming a delicious margherita extra into your mouth even ten minutes sooner is worth the compromise. Oh- if they have the eggplant parmesan on the daily "little things" menu, try it. It's heaven in a ramekin.

(Note to 2Amys- please dust your upstairs wine shelf! My sinuses will thank you.)

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Friday, October 12, 2007

The faults of husbands are often caused by the excess virtues of their wives

Here is a story of my Friday morning. It was great, and then it wasn't. But in the end, it was great again.

A soft fffffffffff, ffffffffff on my face. My first glimpse of the day is my dog’s eyes, two inches from my own, his face a smudge against the dark of the room. Okay, Alex. We’re awake.

I’ve never been able to resume sleeping after an interruption, so I roll out of bed and into my sweatpants. Feeling virtuous, I set out on the dark street for a brisk walk. It’s cold enough that I have to pull my hood up, dark enough to require a reflective armband. I enjoy seeing the lights go on in the houses I pass, people stumbling to their cars in hopes of beating the traffic; some already departed.

I get to a steep, grassy hill and sprint up and down, something I feel silly doing in the daylight. But in the obscurity of early morning, I huff and puff, stagger and stumble to my heart’s content. I am Rocky.

Oh what a wonderful morning!

A good stretch on the street corner, then back inside for a shower. Afterwards I use my new love, my Pink Sugar Body Mousse, and it smells delicious. I make my breakfast, feeling virtuous once again as I combine oatmeal, soy milk, and raspberries in a bowl. I add some ground flax seed for good measure. Am I healthy, or what?

Oh what a wonderful day!

I get dressed for work. The nip in the air means that I can wear corduroy pants and my newest boots. This makes me happy. Look! I have a belt that matches the boots and I didn’t even realize it! Hot damn.

I’ve got a wonderful feeeee-ling!

Mike is leaving for work for an early meeting and I kiss him goodbye. We debate about whether we should go to 2 Amys or Pizzeria Paradiso tomorrow. It’s a delicious dilemma. Anyway, he’s gotta go. We’ll talk tonight.

Everything’s going my way!

Look at me! I'm not rushing. I am ready to go and I still have ten minutes to spare!

I head downstairs and love up my dog for what is probably an embarrassing amount of time. I tell him I’ll be home by 6:30 p.m. He gives me the Eyes of Heart-Breaking Sadness. Somehow I wrest myself free of the guilt force field and head into the dining room to collect my things.

Work bag, lunch, keys…

Keys?

No keys.

Not in the key dish, or on the table, or the counter. Not in my purse, or my coat pocket, or my work bag.

Suddenly, I know. I know.

They are in the ignition of my car. My car, which has been on all night. I am certain.

I go to the garage to confirm what I already know. Half-heartedly, I turn the key.

Nothing.

I call Mike. He is already at work and about to begin his meeting. I explain the situation, and I don’t even have to ask. He puts his hand over the phone and talks to someone for a moment, then tells me he’ll be home in 20 minutes.

When he arrives, we push my car into the street, connect the cables, and jump the battery. He does it with a smile on his face. Never is there a trace of annoyance or impatience. He doesn't remind me that I've doubled his driving time. He doesn't remind me that this is the second time in a year that I’ve done this.

He’s only happy that he was able to help.

There’s nothing like indulging in a morning full of self-admiration and then realizing that your husband is definitely the better half, now and forever.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And that's what everyone's talking about

I'm regressing.

I've already admitted that I watch The Hills. On Tuesday I had an animal-like craving for watermelon Hubba Bubba. This morning I actually gathered my hair into a side ponytail to see what I would look like. Verdict? Not good. I have a feeling that I was stopped only by the fact that I recently chopped my hair to above-shoulders.

And now this.




Girlfriend Lyrics



Yes, I have this song on my iPod. I'll confess that I played it multiple times as I jogged along a trail near my house this morning. And as I neared the end of the trail, which culminates in a steep hill that rises to meet the street, I had convinced myself that as I burst onto the pavement I'd be sporting a sparkly pink school girl uniform and rocking a wireless mic while twenty back-up dancers magically appeared in the street behind me and exploded into a provocative, choreographed dance routine.

You know, for my music video.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Old Man Winter

Can you believe that it’s fall already? It seems like only yesterday I was racing like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom to soak my plants with the garden hose before the drought could snatch them up in his dry, brittle teeth. Now the mornings are cool, the days shorter, pushing us ever-closer to the dreaded winter season.

I dread it, anyway. Fall is lovely, what with the crunchy leaves and apple cider and a cozy urge to make delicious, slow-cooked soups and stews. But winter? No thanks.

The first story I remember hearing about Winter and me came from my parents. We were living in New Hampshire, I had recently learned to walk, and the first thick blanket of snow lay beckoning. A glorious Kodak moment was theirs for the taking. My parents bundled me up in a puffy yellow snowsuit, planted me in the back yard, and watched in breathless excitement.

I took two wobbly steps, swayed uncertainly, and pitched forward like an expertly-felled tree.

With barely enough coordination to operate my limbs when they weren’t swathed in yards of fabric and insulation, remaining face-down in the snow was the only option. I imagine I resembled a drunken banana slug.

It’s no secret that my parents promptly fell into a fit of hysterical laughter. Ho ho ho! What kind of first-time parents were they, anyway? First-time parents are supposed to freak out about everything, especially when suffocation is imminent.

(ah, revenge was sweet for the parents of the colicky baby!)

So there you have it. Winter tried to smother me when I was 10 months old and we’ve been at war ever since.

So for anyone who wants to distract themselves from the fact that winter is coming, coming soon, cook this. I made it last weekend and it was delicious.


Braised Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpeas
(From the September 2007 Vegetarian Times)

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
6 medium Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t. ground allspice
¼ t. ground cumin
1 cup marinara sauce
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large mint sprigs, plus 2 T. chopped mint


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 7 minutes, or until soft. Stir in eggplant and cook 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add garlic, allspice, and cumin, and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in marinara sauce, red wine vinegar, and 2/3 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Lay mint springs on top of eggplant mixture, cover, and transfer pot to oven. Cook 45 to 50 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Remove mint sprigs and stir in chopped mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.

I served it over Jasmine rice. Mmmmm...

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A brave admission

I must have lost a little weight recently, as my pants are suddenly sagging in a most unbecoming fashion. Donning a belt is the obvious solution, but my choice of an untuckable shirt made that impossible.

An untuckable shirt is a shirt that is cannot be tucked into the pants for any of the following reasons:

1) it's too short, which means that the shirt becomes untucked in places as I sit and stand and go about my normal work day. This requires constant retucking, and frankly, constant retucking drives me batshit insane.

2) it's too bunchy, which means unflattering...uh...bunchiness at the waistline. Not only does it not look very good, but it makes me feel like the Sta-Puft marshmallow man.

3) it's just not mean to be tucked in. Period. Why must you always try to buck the fashion tide?

Anyway, the untuckable shirt must remain untucked, and wearing a belt under it results in buckle bulge. And this is why my pants are sagging.

God. You never knew that getting dressed could be so complicated, did you?

Let's move on to something more substantial and meaningful. Something like...

The Hills.

Ohgodyes, I watch it. I admit it. I am peeking through the fingers of my left hand as I type this with my right.

I watch The Hills.

(and so does my husband, but you didn't hear that from me)

I watch The Hills.

(when we went to Ireland, we programmed the VCR to record the two episodes we were going to miss)

I watch The Hills.

(it's basically the television equivalent of eating Pixie Stix for breakfast)

Ahhhhh. Now that I've admitted it, I feel so much lighter, so much more authentic! I want to stand up and wave both hands in the air and shout I WATCH THE HILLS!, even though it will cause my pants to slip even further down my hips.

I WATCH THE HILLS!

Am I alone in my shameful television viewing? Because I'd really love to dish about Spencer and Heidi.

(run, Heidi, RUN!)

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