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Archive for July, 2011

So, on Tuesday, nothing in the world happened.  I know this because the Today Show devoted an inordinate amount of time to announcing that the Olympics begin….in a year.  Children who do not exist will be conceived, gestated, birthed, and nearly crawling between now and then.  We’ll elect some slightly-less-jerky (we can only hope) jerks to Congress.  We’ll have to endure speculation that Sarah Palin is stepping back into the ring.  Celebrities will meet, court, marry, and divorce.  Point is:  it’s a long way off.

Luckily, I have found a way to amuse myself until then with an ongoing workout plan.  This plan consists of hating Tony Horton, and also, of sitting on an exercise ball at work.  This all began when my coworker decided to bring an exercise ball in to address his ADHD tendencies (you know, keep his brain calmer by engaging his muscles in the act of balancing).  But then he started being all, “My abs are so great…the gym was so great…I’m so great…”  and I got a little jealous.  And competitive.  And in need of my own distraction.

So today, I went home at lunch and grabbed my exercise ball that has been gathering dust in the bowels of our basement (Wait, I meant, was FULLY INFLATED because I use it ALL THE TIME and I’m SO AWESOME).  I brought it in and have been intermittently pumping air into it with a small, wheezy, hand held pump.  The guy four offices down can hear me, so I try to take frequent breaks so as not to make others worry that I’m strangling kittens at my desk.

Anyway, pretty soon it is going to be GAME ON with the abs.  I’ll keep you updated.  And by the time Michael Phelps and the rest of his cronies parade into London, my stomach will be ready to win  Gold in the office exercise ball competition.  I’m pretty sure it will be a recognized sport by then as we’ve got a little time.

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Life Long Learner

Since finishing my first chapter book BY MYSELF in second grade (Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary), I’ve been an avid and enthusiastic reader. I remember being very excited to get my OWN library card and looked forward to roaming the aisles of Juvenile Fiction with my mom and brother in tow.  Well, here I am, decades later, and while still a big fan of the library, I have a slightly different approach.  I approach the library much like a man approaches shopping:  get in there, make the kill, and get out before you see anyone you know.  This is harder to do during one’s lunch hour than you might think, as it is summer and the library is currently LITTERED with juvenile delinquents trying to surf past the restrictive filters on the library computers or find books with pictures of naked people in them (also difficult, given the watchful eye of the librarians who are prett-y test-y broads, if I do say so myself…). I guess this is a help to working parents who don’t trust their 13-year-olds to stay home all day because they know they’ll be…wait…surfing inappropriate sites on the internet in search of pictures of naked people….yep, so the only advantage here is the watchful eye of the test-y broads.  Got it.  Your tax dollars at work, people!

As a child, I enjoyed roaming back and forth down the aisles, reading titles, pulling out books, checking out the cover picture, and really contemplating the read before deciding to add the book to my check out stack.  Now, my strategy is different.  I keep a short list of recommended books to read and make a plan to find one or two of them at the library.  Then, I quickly scan the books around my selected title and give them a once over before adding them to the pile.  Once home, I give the book MERE PAGES before deciding whether or not to proceed.  This keeps me from spending too much time at the library in the presence of pubescent teenage boys, young children, and retirees (yes, now that you mention it, I AM a huge jerk who generally does not enjoy interacting with the public).  And since checkouts are FREE, really, what’s the risk except for looking like a self-involved book worm with no social life?  Any librarian would be proud.

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Be cool….

After less than six years, our refrigerator has died a rather abrupt and disturbing death.  Primarily disturbing because we have to buy a new one and are not exactly blowing our noses on Benjamins over here.  And secondarily disturbing because we bought this beast under duress and without reading the first Consumer Report review when moving into our first home. And tertiarily disturbing because we paid a repair man $70 for 7 minutes of his time to tell us that the refrigerator is indeed not cooling below 50 degrees and it would cost an estimated $600-800 to repair it and we should just buy a new one.

We have been to no less than four appliance stores and are even more confused than when we started.  Well, not confused about what we want.  We WANT a stainless steel, double-door, fridge-on-the-top freezer-on-the-bottom model, complete with chef’s kitchen, granite countertops, farmhouse sink, subway tile backsplash, six burner gas range, and convection oven….wait…that’s not on special at Lowe’s this week?  WEIRD.  We’re confused about what we SHOULD buy.  Needs versus wants.  As any six-year-old could tell you, I do not need the stainless steel, fridge-on-the-top refrigerator.  I need a refrigerator that doesn’t let milk spoil before its due date and has a place to put all the sodas and beer that we’re not drinking now that we’re all healthy and what-not.

And so, my dear blog readers, I need your advice and experience.  All THREE of you should leave me a comment on what you have, what you wish you had, and what you’d do if you had it to do over again.  I’d offer you a cold one for your thoughts…that is, if I HAD a cold one.  Oh yes, and PS, the rusting beast of a refrigerator in our basement that literally predates me is running just fine and giving me the luxury of a day or two to make this decision!

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I like food.  I like eating.  When I’m at my “fighting weight,”  I’m definitely motivated to power through a workout by planning what I’m going to eat as a reward.  Unfortunately, three years of grad school packed on about 15 “EL-BEEs” and I’m currently in reduction mode.  And letmetellyou, I was a lot more haughty about the merits of grilled chicken and cottage cheese six weeks ago than I am now.  I would kill for a burgerfriesicecreamsundae these days.  Unfortunately, the interceding year between graduate school and this summer taught me that “wishing” didn’t actually make you lose weight.  So, weird, right?

I finally decided that this whole “only having one pair of shorts that I can appear in public in” had to stop and rather than buy all new shorts, I realized that I needed to get tough with myself on several levels.  So on top of a boring diet of foods only old people eat, the hubs and I are smack dab in the middle of 13 weeks of P90X.  If you’re not familiar with P90X, it is a series of workout videos that make you contemplate your will to live and start asking the Lord to take you, right on the spot.  I’m pretty sure the name stands for “Pain to the 90th Exponential,” only that name was rejected in focus groups in favor of something that sounded more sinister.  P90X is led by Mr. Tony Horton.  He’s 45 years old, as he makes a point to tell you several times a week and jacked beyond belief.  I think you are supposed to feel like you might look like him at the end of the summer, but let’s be real people, we’d all settle for dropping a pants size and finding anything that resembles an abdominal muscle.   There are advantages to workout videos over a personal trainer, namely the advantage that you can talk back to the video and not get thrown out of your own living room.

Tony:  If you want to make this move more challenging, raise your arms here…

Me:  OH COME ON, Tony Horton.

Tony:  Now, see, you can do a pushup here if you would like.  It’s up to you.

Me:  NOIwouldnot.  And it’s not REALLY up to me as my arms and chest muscles are now refusing to respond to the directions my brain gives them.

Tony:  And here’s a third option to make this move MORE challenging….

Me:  Shut up, Tony Horton.

It’s gotten to the point that our love-hate relationship with Tony extends beyond the bounds of the workout time.  Just today, Piop and I treated ourselves to a lunch out at a Mexican restaurant where my husband fantasized about sending a photo text of our meal to Tony and saying, “Is THIS on your diet, Tony?”  Too bad we don’t know his cell phone number.

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This afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of heading out in 90-something degree temperatures and loading 70 lbs of dog into the back of my SWEET SEDAN before heading over to our vet to find out what’s ailing Remi.  A mild skin infection, which should be gone in a week thanks to a round of antibiotics, in case you are dying to know.

Howevs. I think we might be breaking up with our vet.  We received competent care, and we’ve only been twice since adopting the Rem-ster, but both times have been a veritable CLUSTER in the waiting room.  Today, at one point, there were seven dogs, two cats, and about 10 people in various stages of intake, boarding drop-off, and bill paying.  I have to think that the clinic’s liability policy probably frowns upon that.    One eager puppy takes a sniff at one grumpy dog’s hind-end and well, it’s not going to be pretty.

In the middle of all of this, a couple walks out with a dog that looked like this:
And I, in the 90-something degree heat, thought “I would NEVER….” and then I thought, “Oh, that poor dog.”  And the lady sitting next to me said, “Oh, that would be SO RELAXING to GET to BRUSH that EVERY DAY!”  I’m pretty sure she wasn’t on crack, but Remi and I didn’t stick around to find out.

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Well, dear ones, welcome to Summer in the Capitol of the Confederacy.  According to Wikipedia, Lee surrendered to Grant in Appomattox on April 9, 1865 and though I have no other knowledge than what I just looked up, I’m pretty sure General Lee screamed “Uncle” because Jeff Davis called and said he couldn’t take another summer in RVA and to “just give up now.”  Tell that to your history teacher, kids.

We’ve entered the doldrums of summer in The Capitol, where the highs top out above 90 degrees, and quite often, closer to the full-century mark for a good ten days straight.  It happens every summer.  It even happened the summer I interned here in college.  I had my fair warning and I chose to ignore it.  It even happened for the two summers before I bought a house here.  And yet, I did it anyway.  This is, in case you are wondering, what we Richmonders get in retribution for SPRING.  Spring in Richmond is the most delightful three weeks anyone should ever hope to live.  The daffodils explode, right along with the dogwoods, just in time for Easter and straw bonnets, and it makes everyone lives outdoors for 15 hours a day and remark about how mild Richmond weather is.    Mother Nature HEARS us, people.  And she smirks, knowing that the middle of July is coming.

And the middle of July, she is here.  And she is full of bugs.  Some that are biting me.  Some that are biting my husband.  And some that have somehow attacked our dog, who now looks a little mange-y in the shoulder and neck area.  He’s headed to the ET-VAY tomorrow.  Don’t tell him.  He speaks English, but not pig latin, so I think I’m ok to divulge this now.  And July, she makes me know what it would be like if I had to walk around outside in a wet, wool blanket all the time.  July, she makes me lose three or four pounds on a  three-mile run.  And not because I’m an Olympian or anything.  July, she is like a bad house guest who overstays her welcome and monopolizes the remote control.  Sadly, July is only the precursor to August.  And August, well, I just can’t think about her right now.

Anyway, on to my 99 problems.  That I actually don’t have (well, maybe two…1.  the heat and 2.  the biting bugs).  I just think the heat magnifies my “problems” until I’m like, “WE’RE OUT OF HALF AND HALF?!?!?  THEN CLEARLY I CAN’T GO TO WORK AND MUST GO BACK TO BED IN THE AIR CONDITIONING.”  October, you know, doesn’t have problems like this.  October’s biggest problem is whether or not it’s excessive in the fall-food arena to make BOTH pumpkin muffins and chili in one weekend.  October worries about how to fit in all the college football it wants to watch in JUST ONE DAY.  October, I’ve got my eye on  you.  And so does Mother Nature.

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If you’ve ever worked in an office of more than 10 people, you can appreciate the grab-bag feel of a “To:  All Network Users” email.  It could be a passive-aggressive reminder of corporate policy, such as “Now that spring is upon us, please take a moment to review the corporate dress-code and remember that while the weather may warrant it, some fashions are not acceptable in the workplace.”  You know, fashions that are constructed of spandex…or reveal your back tat…or show your cleavage or chest hair.  NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT AT WORK, PEOPLE.  OR SEE IT, EVER.

But, I digress.  My favorite “All network users” category is that of the “Lost and Found.”  This elicits all sorts of speculation about WHAT PERSON on WHAT FLOOR misplaced their keys/wallet/phone and makes even a tiny part of me want to break out in an elementary school, lunchroom-style “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” that followed a dropping of a tray of food.  Not that that ever happened to me or scarred me for life.

The BEST lost and found email came from my building’s outstanding security guard who was gracious and quick to inform us all of any incident that warranted our attention.  Such as this one:

Subject: lost and Found
A tube of Itch Relief Cream was recovered from ladies room on the first floor and was turned into security desk. The owner is requested to collect it from the front desk.

Upon opening this one, my coworker started laughing hysterically.  So hard, in fact, that she couldn’t speak.  “What’s so funny?” I asked from the other side of the cube wall.

“Read your email,” she managed to choke out.

It took me about three minutes to catch my breath.  And then I got to listen to peals of laughter errupt from every corner of my floor for the next 10 minutes.  Apparently, someone in the office went out to break the news to our security guard, who had a heart of gold, as well as a non-native grasp of the English language.  And then he sent this clarification:

Subject: FW: lost and Found
Correction:- The said medicinal tube was for Poison Ivy itch treatment and was found from the hallway on the first floor.

I felt so much better about that.

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