Hair Happy

It's time for a new hairdo. After discussing it with my hairdresser I was so gleeful that I almost wanted to hire her as a daily life coach.
I told her I was getting bored. She replied, "Honey, if you're bored now, it means I've been bored for months. I am so ready for you to try something new! When I saw you on the schedule earlier this week, I wondered what new cut we could do."

I explained to her what I wanted and also shared a surreptitious cell phone photo I had taken of a girl on the train the day before. I should have just asked if I could take her photo because one of my friends caught me in the act by asking, "Are you taking photos of your twin?" I guess she already looked a little like me, so I had confidence the 'do

My hairdresser described it as a shaggy bob. Although with her Wisconsin accent at first I heard "shaky bob" which made no sense, and then I thought she was saying "shapey bob" and I really had no idea what she meant. Shaggy bob, kind of like Audrey Tatou.

With utmost confidence my hairdresser advised me that it will be a SNAP to grow out my hair. I was so ready to hear all the bad news: that the style wouldn't really work for my hair, or my face shape; or to see a perplexed expression on the stylist's face as she wondered how the heck I would get from point A to point B. But she says it'll be easy, and quick and happy. Her excitement was contagious. Yay.


We hit the house hunting trail again on Sunday. After our last outing, I was a little dissatisfied. Things were nice, but not exactly what we wanted. Too far from the train. Too small in the bathroom.
This weekend we got closer. Very close. Fretfully close. After our first trip my dilemma was that there wasn't much of a choice. But now I lay awake the other night trying to mull over the options.
House hunting suddenly became less fun.
There was an embarrassment of riches to consider: One duplex with 3 decks! And two skylights! Another town-home with a 2 car heated garage! Four floors all facing directly towards sunny Southern exposure! I think I might have actually flung myself against the bay window in one of the rooms.
And even a place in a neighborhood that Jason advocates, but I dread since it will make my long commute longer (and yes, I begrudge even 7 additional minutes on the train, and especially more time in the car.)
There's our place too, which I came home to with a moderately increased appreciation for, but maybe that was because I had a wicked headache that demanded an hour's nap on the couch.

I'm fretting.
I need to run all the home prices through my mortgage calculator, and then factor in the taxes, the closing costs, the monthly condo assessments.
This is another one of those times where I want to flip to the last chapter of the book to see how it ends.
Did they pick the right place? (HGTV's HouseHunters is more keenly interesting these days.)
Were they kicked out of their current apartment when their landlord sold it out from under them? (Are they left wandering the streets, with little bundles tied on sticks held over their shoulders? Carrying their cat behind them?)

Little Things I Like

This bunny looks like its wearing a Mardi Gras mask. (I think it'd look really cute framed for our bathroom, so I'm debating buying it from the essimar etsy shop. The debate comes in when I begin to realize that two months from now we might be living in a totally different apartment, so there should be a moratorium on new home-related purchases. Even this Pottery Barn rug for the bedroom. Even though I have a friend who gets an employee discount.)

I was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so I have a small affection for bunny rabbits. (For amusement, check out the Disapproving Rabbits blog.) I also like calling the bunny rabbits, and not just bunnies or rabbits.
Jason was born in the Year of the Tiger. Reading our Chinese Zodiacs is fun, though I take it with as my seriousness as my fortune cookie predictions.

Rabbit Year
You are the kind of person, that people like to be around affectionate, obliging, always pleasant. You have a tendency, though, to get too sentimental and seem superficial. Being cautious and conservative, you are successful in business but would also make a good lawyer, diplomat, or actor.

Tiger Year
You are sensitive, emotional, and capable of great love. However, you have a tendency to get carried away and be stubborn about what you think is right; often seen as a "Hothead" or rebel. Your sign shows you would be excellent as a boss, explorer, race car driver, or matador.

Nighttime Wonders

There was a lunar eclipse tonight, which was pretty amazing.
An unlike other skyward marvels, it stuck around long enough to absorb its details and colors. (Not like those hide-and-seek rainbows that last for just the blink of an eye.) Of course, our viewing was brief because it is so darn cold, and we were standing there on the deck, asking ourselves, "Is it doing anything? Is it changing?" We realized that not much was happening, once the original splendor was taken in, so we retreated inside.

I was a little perturbed initially because tonight is the second night in a row that I've been doing my Yoga program. Last night Jason interrupted me twice, once just to muse aloud about whether our dry cleaner will take back hangers.
"Don't you understand what I'm doing here?! You're ruining my flow!" I finally exclaimed, a little impatiently.
"I'm sorry," he shrank back just a little, "I didn't know there was a flow!"

So tonight when he came out and said, "Hey." I turned out of my downward facing dog and said, "Is this really time sensitive and important?"
Yes, a lunar eclipse that won't happen again until 2010 is kind of worthwhile interrupting flow.
Once outside I thanked him, and he replied, "Ok, you want to go inside?"
"Yes, please."

A Favorite Word

Everyone has favorite words. Words that are funny, or just apt for what you want to say.

What a perfect word. Whenever I see it used in a sentence, like this sub-headline from the NYT:

"NBC says it will jettison the practice of saving shows for the traditional September-to-May TV season,"

I can see the action in a vivid comic gesture.

A mid-level NBC executive opens the hatch at the rear of the network mothership, kicking a large parcel of documents on Practices & Standards, bound with twine, but still bursting full, out into the galactic atmosphere.

It must be that 'jettison' also sounds a lot like 'The Jetsons.'

I had no idea, by the way, that 'jetisonable' is also a word. No a very good one, but nonetheless...
On the other hand, 'flotsam and jetsam' is a fun phrase to work into a sentence, but does give the impression that all you do on Saturday nights is pore over the dictionary.

Things I Hate About Winter Playlist

It looked hopeful and balmy on Sunday. 40 degrees. As I was walking out the door to run an errand I bumped into two neighbors. We chatted and then they quickly said, "Oh ok, we'll let you leave for your walk."

Curiously, I had not been planning on talking a walk. I had my car keys in my pocket, I had been turning them over in my gloved hand as I conversed. But a walk suddenly seemed like such a beautiful idea. Why not enjoy a day where the sun was making a cameo appearance in February? A grand idea, I thought, and strutted out of the parking lot, leaving my car sitting there.

About two blocks into my walk a clap of thunder struck across the sky. It's nothing, I told myself. The sky above was just the dishwater gray it's been for weeks, no more menacing than any other day. A block later it was raining. Another half block and I was walking through a torrent of rain. Sloshing through puddles in my not-waterproof boots. Pulling the hood of my only water-resistant coat down across my face, against the blowing rain. The temperature dropped about ten degrees. Rain turned to hail.
And the worst was this was still just the walk there... I still had my half mile walk home after my errand.
I hate winter.

Tonight it's 9 degrees. The report: "Blustery and very cold. Lows 2 below to 2 above zero. Wind chills as low as 10 below to 15 below zero. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Gusts up to 35 mph." The newsmen are warning of black ice for tomorrow's commute. Chicago ER's report a steep increase in injuries due to slips and falls on ice.

Why does winter taunt me like this??!

I am making my I Hate Winter Playlist. Here's what I've got so far:

Hockey Skates - Kathleen Edwards
Pictures of You - The Cure
Rehab - Amy Winehouse
The Greatest - Cat Power
New Soul - Yael Naim
Half Acre - Hem (from those Liberty Mutual Ads, I love the lyrics, "Think of every town you've lived in. Every room you lay your head. And what is it that you remember? Do you carry every sadness with you?" Oh, woeful winter.)
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
Secret Heart - Feist
The World at Large - Modest Mouse

There has to be a good Elliot Smith song to add to the melancholy mix.

And I made cupcakes that look like snowballs. (The attempt to find some joy in winter.) I had one for dinner tonight. No good can come of 16 cupcakes sitting on the kitchen counter of a home with just two people.
So much for that gym plan.

Me and the Rest of America

I've been trying to be a little more diligent about going to the gym lately. Me and the rest of America are not quite happy about our bodies. Mostly happy, but room for improvement. Don't call it a new year's resolution though, because that will just doom me.

I have sometimes wondered about the best way to motivate myself to get to the gym, and my focus comes to my gym attire. The chicken and egg dilemma.

- Should I buy cute gym clothes as a way to motivate myself to get to the gym?

- Or should I use cute gym clothes as the reward for regular gym attendance?

(I compromised by going to Marshalls now and finding cute discount clothes.)

A friend has started doing yoga every morning at 5 am on Oxygen TV, Inhale. I might try this.
First I will try it at 5 am, and if that fails I will Tivo it and try it at 7 pm instead. But at either time, am I ready to, "Push [my] butt back until [I] feel a screaming, white-hot sensation that you might know as pain"? Isn't exercise to make you feel good about yourself?

Losing 10 lbs in one week won't happen, especially after yesterday's disappointment getting on the scale and seeing that rather than losing a pound or two, I was now one pound heavier. Dismay! I considered briefly weighing the water volume of my water bottle to see if the increase was a temporary result of water bloating. I just kicked the scale under the cabinet again.

The bad side effect of going to the gym is that I come home with an appetite. This seems like a confession that should be featured on a Weight Watchers commercial, but the other weekend I came home from the gym so hungry... that I made myself lasagna. Gooey, four cheese, lasagna. (I did not weigh myself after that meal.)

Things I Am Trying to Like About Winter

I have been measurably more cranky lately. And when you notice it in yourself, it probably means that others have noticed it far earlier. Like wearing too much perfume. A little life lesson I remember my mom telling me as she was readying to go out to dinner with my father one night: if you can smell it on yourself, it means you've put too much on.

So to pull myself up by the winterboot straps, here are Things I am Trying to Like About Winter:
1. A fireplace to keep me warm
2. A day where you don't have to feel guilty about staying home and reading a book
3. Snow days from work. Telecommuting makes them easier to call, but also require that an attempt to work be made.
4. Hot tea
5. Hot soup
6. Snowmen
7. Ice skating dates
8. A warm dark bar, with an open fire, and friends around the table eating onion rings and burgers (our Valentine's last night.)
9. Ordering delivery (I'm waiting for my pizza now.)
10. Dogs being walked with their little winter booties on.

There are still more things I dislike about winter than like, but I'm trying to make it through the next 60 days, hoping it will be warmer in April. (Or at least I'll cheer up with our National Meeting in Arizona.)

Things I Hate About Winter

I know this day is all about love, so maybe I should delay this post until after midnight, when we can go back to being grumpy and unlovey.
I am done with winter.
I am making lists in my head about the things I hate about winter. Here it is, version one:

1. Chapped lips.
2. Not having any Carmex to treat #1 and realizing that cherry chapstick just makes the irritated lips sting more.
3. Ice so persistent that it gives you insight into how the glaciers must have been formed.
4. Wearing your boots so many days that they lose their novelty. (I am contemplating new fun ones, but not sure that these might seem too 'Nanook meets Pocahantas.')
5. Losing a mitten.
6. Needing mittens.
7. I miss my deck, sitting outside with my laptop on a warm day with a glass of iced tea.
8. Windchills that fall double digits below zero.
9. So little sunlight. Sunshine is just 19% of normal this month.
10. Driving is so much harder. (Fear of black ice spinouts.)
10b. Potholes.
11. Something weird is going on with our back door that it seems to swell as the temperature drops and it's nearly impossible to close, at least with just one arm. This defies reason, since I thought heat made materials swell, but our hypothesis is that maybe some moisture got into the wood and it freezes and therefore expands the door. Perplexing.
12. Today was the first in six where the temperature went above freezing. We were giddy with how "warm" it was, a definite sign we've lost touch with reality.
13. Bundling up for the cold walk to the train station, then getting on the hot passenger car and trying to get all the bundling off before I start to sweat like crazy. There must be a trick to proper venting. I haven't learned it yet.

I know that not so long ago I might have given the impression that I was enjoying winter. Ice skating. Pictures of snowmen. I didn't mention it, but it is kind of nice that our fireplace works this year.

But this is too much. It's like snowstorms don't even make the news anymore. I wake up with the snow is falling and I say to myself, "Huh, SuperSever DopplerMax StormTracker didn't tell me this was coming. Why didn't my meteorologist ask me to panic?"

Socio-Political Reflection

"Is this our fifth Valentine's day?" Jason asked me in the kitchen this evening.
"Mmm, you first e-mailed me right after Valentines Day, so what year was that?" I replied putting the milk carton back into the fridge.
"2003. I remember, the war started."
I turned to him, a little perplexed, "The war?" (Was this some figurative description of our relationship??)
"The war in Iraq. I remember. This is our fifth Valentines."
"That's the event you tie to our meeting? Terrific." I laughed and rolled my eyes.

I don't know if it makes our courtship seem brief or the war seem interminable, but when the war in Iraq began Jason and I had not even met.
Five years later, we are married.
The war continues.

I think the war has been going on for too long. (Not that this means that I want a deadline for a pull-out. I'm honestly not sure if I think that's the best idea, to just drop the problem you can't solve. That you kind of started...)

Cartoon from Get Your War On, which I learned about from the human encyclopedia of the internet, Jason. He's like human RSS.

Funny Photos

Some very funny photos from the Westminster Dog Show appeared in the NYT today. Funnier still is that they are classified under the "Sports" section. What these poor show dogs put up with from their owners. The same intolerable reality ordinary cats must feel they endure everyday.
I think this last dog has a more complex daily beauty regimen than I do.

Pom Pom

I know that pomegranates are the trend from two years ago, but the O magazine I picked up for the airplane ride home had a very appealing photo of a pomegranate bellini.
It combined three things I like very much:
1. sparkling wine (recommendation is for Prosecco)
2. pomegranate juice
3. A cocktail recipe that only requires two ingredients!

4 ounces Champagne or sparkling wine
1 ounce pomegranate juice

Pour the bubbly in a Champagne flute and add the pomegranate juice.
Serves 1

Sounds yummy. And with all that they say about the health benefits of pomegranates it's probably even a little good for me. (Magical antioxidants.)
And it turns out there are a million pom cocktails to be had, including the "West Pom Beach," ha-ha.

Here's a different Pom (Pomeranian) that's cute enough to eat:(Not that I need one of those. When it's this cold out, my cat suits me just fine. That little guy looks like he'd get lost in a snow drift pretty quick.)

Skate Date

Not to be forced into indoor exile due to Chicago's cold weather, we went ice skating last night. I think this was the first time I'd ever gone ice skating in a completely outdoor rink, while it was snowing too, which added to the mood. And with only a handful of other neighbors on the rink with us we had lots of space on the rink (for me to fall down, for Jason to practice his hockey stops.)
It was a cheap date, $11 for the two of us ($4 each to get onto the rink, and $3 for my skate rental.)

I was hoping for the pretty white skates that I'd pined for as a little girl, but understood that the Chicago Park District wasn't going to invest in full sets of girl's skates and boy's skates, when one set of unisex black skates would work. But the youthful enjoyment of skating was restored by the rink's sound system which played Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd; it was just like a fifth grade birthday party.

I fell just once, and we painted a comical picture while Jason tried to pull me up, but was simultaneously pinning me down with his skate blade on the cuff of my jeans. The rink is just a five minute drive from our house, so maybe they'll be more chances to practice (skating, falling, and the team sport of picking the fallen up.)

We finally called it quits when the wind was kicking up little snowflake tornadoes on the ice surface and both of our noses were red and runny.

Participation is Voluntary

Valentines Day should be like a floating holiday at work, honor it (and take the day off) if you wish, or just pretend it's any other Thursday if it's not your thing, or your year for it. Like Martin Luther King Day or Yom Kippur.

There have definitely been years where I loathed Valentine's Day, abhorring every mention of it along with the campaign of jewelry store ads that hit television and radio. (Even today the "every kiss begins with Kay" jingle makes me cringe and I grab for the dial to change the station before the ad comes to its sing-songy finale.)

I don't think we'll be doing anything super special this year. Jason is heartily suspicious when I mention things like, 'It's our one month anniversary!' or 'It's our first Valentine's Day being married!' insisting that we can't roll out the red carpet for every 'first.' (Whenever he says this I furitively try to kick the figurative carpet I had actually began unfurling back into the closet. No parade today.)

But maybe I can coax Mr. Grumpypants into a little celebration for Valentine's Day. (A sidenote is that Jason would rebut here that I have been Little Miss Crankypants all this week. I got all excited about our going on a last minute weekend ski trip with some friends because a member of their party canceled. A perfect, pre-Valentines fun weekend trip, ensconced in a cozy little chalet in Wisconsin. I outfitted us with some basic ski gear at a bargain price by combing the racks of our local Marshall's and sporting goods store. But then got a TEXT message that the canceling person was back in, and we were out. I spent Sunday glumly making retail returns of gear. There was much pouting. So Jason took me to a local Mexican place where we shared fried ice cream.)

Of course, Valentine's Day next week will still be just another workaday Thursday. For me, it will unfortunately start with a 9 am meeting with three different VP's, with diametrically opposed points of view. I joked with my boss that I'd bring Dunkin' Donuts glazed with pink icing and red sprinkles, and those grade school valentine's cards for everyone to remind them that it's a day focused on love. They'd probably just think I was up to no good and entrench their opposing points of view.

If you are celebrating, Flickr's desktop wallpaper group has some v. whimsical, modern and/or heart-warming wallpapers that fit Thursday's mood.
My current desktop photo is at the top of this post. (Valentine's Day can be about remembering the love for your hometown, just as much as it can be about loving someone else.)

But Can You Use it in a Sentence?

Pronunciation: def-uh-nish-uhn]
1. the act of defining or making definite, distinct, or clear.
2. the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, etc.

I spent all day sitting in a warm conference room in Baltimore today. While a foot of snow threatened Chicago (which I left on Tuesday afternoon), Baltimore was over 70 degrees today. I felt pretty silly for bringing my puffy coat.
Our hotel is one of those old places where you either have air conditioning or you have heat. And once you make the transition from one to the other, there's really no easy going back. It was nearly 80 degrees in our conference room today. I don't normally get hot or perspire from nervousness while presenting but today I made a point to stand with my arms akimbo while I spoke, hoping to keep the air circulating to my underarms. It wasn't stage fright, it was just so darn balmy!
Usually we all know to dress for the chill of a hotel conference room, but today proved that layers are the only way to go, since we were stripping down to the least amount of clothing considered acceptable in a business setting. At one point, delirious singing of "we don't have to take our clothes off, to have a good time..." broke out from one of my colleagues. The meeting leader ducked out in the afternoon to bring us ice cream.
In this environment, you can bet that my normal minor perturbation with sloppy powerpoint was cranked up a little higher. But I looked past mispellings, and people covering up the design template background with their excel graphs. (You know, there's a little box to click to suppress the background template.)
But in an after-lunch "I want a nap" crankiness, I was confronted by one of those argument tools that drives me crazy: the definition. I am never persuaded that I am about to hear a convincing argument when someone's first slide begins with, "The American Heritage Dictionary defines [topic of discussion] as ..."
I'm not sure if people think that this will give their argument more credibility, or maybe it's meant to be a double-check to make sure we're on the same page, but it's usually not a controversial topic that needs to be defined. Unless they think that their audience is fourth graders.
"Today we are going to talk about patient convenience. The dictionary defines convenience as follows:
1. the quality of being convenient; suitability.
2. anything that saves or simplifies work, adds to one's ease or comfort, etc., as an appliance, utensil, or the like. "

... yes, and in Britain it's also a synonym for the water closet. So what?

I can't claim I never used this argument tool, but I was likely writing a junior high current events paper. With nearly ten further years of schooling, I moved on.

This reminds me that I have been meaning to read "Getting to Yes" forever. So long that the copy that has been gathering dust on the bookshelf is actually from an ex-boyfriend. (A lot of my current job involves negotiating with people who don't share the same primary goals as me. It's requiring a great deal of stoicism lately to deal with their lack of common sense.) Maybe I can lead by example.
Better to pick up that book than the dictionary.

Remember my earlier post on working on forbearance*? This might be Chapter 2.
*defined as patient endurance and self control ;)

p.s. Cute snowman photo from Chicagoist shows what I'm missing at home:

Felled by Guns, Germs, and Steel

After it was so highly recommended by both Jason and even an old colleague, I picked up Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. After pushing through nearly 130 pages, I am abandoning the mission. Even the 130 pages was probably about 30 pages of cheating (= skimming.) The level of detail regarding carbon dating seemed like knowledge that I could flip back to if it became relevant later on.

I think I finally realized, after questioning Jason whether there was some exciting plot twist I should be looking forward to (not really), that G,G,&S may be a book that people are proud to boast that they have read, rather than a book they actually enjoyed reading.

Jason will on occasion scoff at my interest in fiction, insisting that after finishing a work of fiction I don't walk away with any useful learning in my head. Fair enough, although I point to the fact that it broadens my vocabulary. (More so than his books that carry titles like Java Servlets or LINUX in a Nutshell.) And fiction can be far more entertaining, especially compared to G,G,&S.

Not to wimp out entirely I have traded in the 512 page G,G,&S for the 992 page Team of Rivals by Doris Kearnes Goodwin. I gave it to Jason for a birthday, or maybe Christmas. By the creaking sound of the opening spine when I picked it up, I don't think he's read it yet. After 50 pages last night, I have more faith in completing this book. And if so, I will boast of it later.
I see on amazon that there's an G,G,&S DVD, maybe if winter lasts those extra weeks that the groundhog predicted this might be something to consider.

I am a Published Photographer

Yes, that's me: world traveler, lifelong diarist (now blogger, but diarist sounds so much more romantic) and published photographer.
Published on the web, in a tourist guide to Syndey. Maybe it's not too much but I'm kind of proud.
My photo is more of the documentary, record-the-facts, nature, but here it is anyway.
Yay me. Of all the gorgeous, talented photographers on flickr, they found my tourist snapshot.

How Do You Say Cute in Chinese?

The Asians must have gotten so far ahead of us with Hello Kitty to the point that we'll never be able to catch up in the Arms Race of Cuteness.
Proving that the art of packaging cute is not isolated to the island nation of Japan, are this year's Beijing Olympic mascots.
They are adorable!! The panda lifts weights!
And they of course come with their own merchandise line.

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