Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I know I've been neglecting this. Don't get me wrong, there's been plenty to write about. No, the issue is complete and total lack of ambition and personal will power.

I would promise to be better, but I think we all know that's a load of crock. I'd rather not add "liar" to the long list of things I am today.

So instead, let me say that I am around. I will continue to write. It's just a matter of finding something that sparks that need inside me again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trivial Pursuits

It was the unaccustomed feeling of drifting that I was first aware of, as though I was being rocked gently in the arms of a warm, giant cloud. Before I even opened my eyes, a breeze drifted through the window, carrying with it the heady scent of wildflowers. This, I thought, smiling, is heaven. There was still the faintest hint of sweetness clinging to my lips, testament to the sambuca I'd sipped the night before. When I opened my eyes, I was greeted to the unfamiliar view of blue walls edged with cream, the baroque style furniture of a truly classy home and Lorenzo. Don't ask how I knew his name, I don't know, but there he stood in all his glorious Italian beauty with glossy dark curls resting over sensitive brown eyes and in his hands, a breakfast tray.

And then I woke up. In my own bedroom. On a mattress that's seen better days. With two cats yowling for attention. Hungover.


That was my first thought as I woke to this reality. My next was, what happened last night? It came back to me in pieces as I dragged myself out of bed, pausing for one long moment to decide whether it's worth it to bend over and retrieve a pair of pants. It wasn't, and I settle for a nightgown tucked into one of my drawers. There was another pause when I finally stumbled out of my bedroom and reach the top of the stairs. This one is slightly longer as I had to come to terms with the fact that I apparently left the curtains open and the light is going to be unbearable. I finally navigated them and made my way to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. As I turned on the machine, I realized with a slight pang that I was going to officially lose my bet with A. not to drink anything but water (and booze) for a week.

Last night I went to the C.'s house. While it was no vacation in beautiful Tuscany, it was a wonderful night filled with great friends, great conversation and fantastic food. Let me tell you a little bit about the C.'s. They had a whirlwind romance, something that seems as common in the military as it was in Utah, and they are great together. V., a nurse by trade, boasts a Jersey accent that would put any one of the 'Shore kids to shame--a fact which, she informs me, is not hard to do since they are all impostors. Z. was a tattoo artist and he looks the part. You'd never guess, looking at him, that the man can cook. I'm not talkin' a pot of spaghetti and some jarred sauce. No. Last night he spent over an hour in the kitchen whipping up a feast that sent my olfactory senses into overdrive. My mouth was fair watering by the time it was done. We had steak served up with a Portabella wine sauce, potatoes roasted beneath bay leaves and then twice cooked in the same pan as our steak had been. To top it off, Brussels sprouts that were absolutely out of this world. I have no idea how he cooked them, I just know they were tender and delicious and if I had been able to eat one more bite I might've gone for seconds. Possibly thirds.

Then the drinking started. Drinking, Trivial Pursuit, and lots of laughter. This is really where my night begins to blur. There were some things I really, really wish I could forget--the nickname for a certain someone's man-business and the revelation that it's named after a power tool for instance--but for the most part, I'm feeling truly blessed and thankful to be surrounded by such wonderful friends.

I think it might even be enough to chase away the disappointment of not waking up in Italy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What a Day!

Yesterday was a busy one, even for a Monday! It began bright and early with a text from the infamous A. She found me another washer and dryer sitting out waiting to be trashed. Somehow, she and S. wrangled both of them to my house in her little cross-over. I simply must get myself one of those! Well, after much shimmying and wrangling, we got the units switched out only to find out that the dryer had a 4-prong plug. The problem? The wall only takes 3! I had a vague idea that I should just be able to buy some kind of adapter and it wouldn't be a big deal, so I put it out of my mind and we headed to the gym. For those of you who are interested, you can find more info about my self-improvement project over at my Beauty Blog.

I don't know why it never occurred to me before now that the gym is a fantastic place to people watch. Even though the place we go isn't exactly a gym, more like a small workout room, it was positively bustling with activity. There was the sweetest woman there in a pressure suit and medical gloves with her head wrapped up. I'm assuming she's undergoing treatment for cancer and all I have to say is kudos! After watching A. ellipticize for 10 minutes or so--A. is an elliptical machine goddess--the woman decided to try it out. It was her first time! Let me just say, for the record, I can't go more than 5 minutes on that machine from hell. This woman got on there and, after struggling to figure out how it worked and getting some pointers from A., chugged along like the little train who could. Amazing! Even though I'd have been dying at that point, she still found the energy to cheer me on with my own routine. You can't help but love that kind of positivity.

So, there we were, sweating and panting and otherwise wishing that this torture was finally over, when a frigid breeze blew into the room. Okay, so it wasn't a breeze but a woman who might give Jack Frost a run for his money. Seriously, the woman was an ice queen. I'm not even going to go into the fact that she was roughly the size of one of my thighs or that her face was all pinched up like someone was waving a rag doused in rotten eggs and skunk juice under her nose (even though both of those things are true). Instead, I'll focus on the fact that she couldn't unbend long enough to even respond to the tentative hellos and smiles thrown her way when she entered the room.

Now, I'm no expert but it seems to me that the gym (or tiny work out room) is a place of camaraderie. Every single person is there to better themselves. Every single one of us is suffering and sweating and I think that creates a bond, even if that bond vanishes the moment you step outside the door. That being said, I understand if someone wishes to vanish into the background, believe me, I do. I definitely don't want people staring at me while my boobs (and belly, and thighs, and arms....) are impersonating the worlds largest mound of jello. Still, I would never outright snub someone like that. It's just rude.

Fast forward to later in the day. A., the wonder woman, has researched how to fix our little dryer problem and come up with two bits of information. The first? An adapter is 65 dollars. The second? We can just change out the cord for 15. I'm all over the second one, of course. So, I jet off to my hair appointment while she goes shopping for a new cord. We meet up later and get to work on the project. We--and by we, I mean A.--get the panel on the back open and figure out where the three little strands are supposed to go.

Enter new problem; How are we supposed to ground the damn thing? The 4-prong cord has a green cable used for grounding, but the new cord didn't come with any such thing. To compound the problem, it appears there's no grounding plate inside the dryer either. It's fast becoming apparent that another trip to the store is in order, but first I run to my trusty Google and search for solutions. Turns out that you can, in fact, make a grounding wire out of the green cable. So, we spend the next hour cutting, prying, hammering and otherwise destroying the 4-prong cord in order to create our little Franken-cord. A. connects everything back up and plugs it in, then hurries to get out of the way just in case our handiwork decides to explode or electrocute us. With a deep breath, I push the start button.

Success! The dryer fires right up! We let it run for a minute, then turn it off to make sure it got warm inside. Thus satisfied, A. goes to put the panel back on and mentions that it's touching our little Franken-cord. We decide to put the panel on anyway then turn it back on to make sure everything is still going to work. She gets it screwed on and moves out of the way and I press Start.

Nothing happens.

I check my settings again, make sure everything is where it's supposed to go. She makes sure that it's plugged in and I press start again. Still nothing. Getting a little panicked, I lean back to look at everything while she advances on the misbehaving dryer with screwdriver in hand. Just before she starts unscrewing the panel, I realize the problem. I've gone and left the door open.


Four loads of laundry later, I've still got a working dryer that's completely squeak free and I'm feelin' like super woman. My makeup didn't even get smudged.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Art of Dumpster Diving

I'm not entirely sure where my extreme aversion to the term (and practice of) "dumpster diving" came from, but I am almost positive that it stems from the same place that my nearly uncontrollable urge to spend does--my mother (and my grandparents). Now, I know my mom is going to read this and I would just like to say that I am not blaming her, just acknowledging that most things in life are learned from our parents. For instance, the love of shopping and, conversely, the love of giving. The love of cooking and of taking care of the people I love. There are a lot of things, but most of them aren't bad.

Now, back to dumpster diving. As most of you who read my blog know, I moved to an army base last year. It is extremely common for people to leave things on the side of the road to be picked up by the bulk trash collectors. This is even more common during PCS (permanent change of station) season, which is fast approaching. Let me tell you, people throw away some amazing things. Almost brand new bed frames, cabinets, shelves. You name it, it's been put out on the curb to get tossed out.

Now, I am not generally what a person might call "green." More often than not, I forget to put my glass in the recycle bin and I go through more paper towels than anybody without a kid has any right to. But! Even I think that it is a crime that so much of this stuff is being hauled off to the dump. That's right. The dump. So, every once in a while I go out with my good friend, we'll call her A., and we scout out what's been left out. Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes we don't.

Four weeks ago, I got really lucky. I happened upon a washer and dryer set just a few feet down the street from my house. Sure, they're old and the dryer squeaks like nobodies business, but they work and I've never owned a set of my own before. Score!

I thought nothing of it until last week when A. texted me at 0730 and said she'd found a big pile of stuff, did I want to take a look? I threw on a sweater and some comfy shoes and met her outside. We found a beautiful bed frame and set of shelves and picked them up. As we were loading the last of the bed frame into her car she turned to me and said, laughing, that she loved dumpster-diving.

I froze, confused. Is that what I was doing? My immediate gut reaction was to put the shelves that I'd just appropriated for my myriad of wired electronics back on the curb. I didn't, realizing that I would have to explain this reaction to her and I knew that I was being down right silly. I didn't want to explain that yes, I was actually turning down a beautiful set of free shelves because she had used that dreaded phrase. This wasn't the first time that the subject has come up, only the most recent, and I am ashamed to say that every time the topic has been broached, I've reacted the exact same way; With judgment. I've spent the last week trying to figure out why that is and I think I've finally hit on the reason.

When I was younger, maybe 4 or 5, my mother sent us back to Utah and we lived with my grandparents for a time before followed. I have a very clear memory of my grandpa talking to my grandma about her heart medication and saying that they couldn't afford to get us pillows and to pay for her pills and the pills were more important. Of course, this is logical and I can accept that. Later that night, he woke us up and gave us some pillows that were still hot from the dryer and smelled faintly of bleach then tucked us back in and turned off the light. I lay awake for a time, staring at the crack and heard him talking to my grandma again. This time he said, and I remember this very clearly, "Don't tell Sylvia that we got those pillows from the dumpster." (Sylvia is my mother.)

I realized he was telling my grandma to lie about something and I knew that you only lied about things that were shameful. That thought has stuck with me for years, even if it's not true. While I don't think I could ever bring myself to climb into an actual dumpster, I think I may have come to terms with the fact that it's not shameful to save money if you can. Besides, those shelves really are pretty amazing.