Between Blue and Purple

This is strange to me. I call these flowers purple, so why are they called 'blue irises'?
This is a small point of historical contention because in seventh grade I argued the point with a girl that I know didn't like me much anyway. She was haughty and probably considered herself better than me for no real particular reason.
I must have said something about the purple coat she was pulling out of her locker and she shook her head, "No, this is blue." I stood my ground on the blue platform, but a small place in my nervous adolescent heart wondered if she had reason to feel superior to me: did I not know blue from purple?

Keeping Track

A few weeks ago someone at work told me that it just takes 21 days to form a habit. We weren't talking about smoking or drinking or anything that you'd later have to enter a twelve-step program to kick.
In my case I wondered if it was true for the gym. Did I really just have to go to the gym for three weeks and then magically it would no longer be a dreaded chore? Would comfy red couch no longer win out consistently over crowded sweaty gym? I started going. I went on weeknights. I even started going on weeknights right after work when I thought for sure it'd be insanely crowded and I'd be stuck on the oldest bike in the place.
At the same time my Real Simple magazine made another tempting promise, that it held in its pages the secret to successful weight loss. This was one of those fake-outs where you think it's going to be something new and amazing but it's just the same old advice as before: keep track of what you eat. So I started another habit on The Daily Plate online. Even better than the traditional journal Daily Plate looks after your calories and even allows you to calculate how many calories you should actually have everday. After this I felt very differently about the 800 calories Hawaiian Lua Ham Sandwich at the cafeteria. That's nearly half of my daily calories! Are you kidding??! No slice pineapple and bacon is worth that!
The results are that within the first week I was sleeping so deliciously soundly that it was remarkable. And I didn't need a nap on the morning train, I could stay awake and read my Theodore Roosevelt biography. At week three I feel like the day wasn't over until I done some kind of exercise. I've lost 6 pounds, too.*

*That's still not the miraculous weight drop that Jason gets whenever he just thinks about losing weight. It's ridiculous, one week without Coke and he's down crazy amounts. I gave him the back-handed compliment that he'd be the best contestant on 'The Biggest Loser' because he does so little yet loses so much. He didn't really get the flattery in that compliment. But it's still not fair.

She's Crafty - a craft fair at your convenience, without having to pay for parking, jostle amongst the crowd to get into the warm little booth, and they take PayPal. Hand-crafted and unique, without always being expensive. This can be encouraging after trips to the mall that yield that same products in store after store, of sometimes dubious foreign manufacture.
Brown Tea Cups I'm stalking them for their beauty, although I don't particularly need them in my home. (I wonder if I should become one of those massively organized Martha-Stewart types that hoard gifts in their homes, waiting for the perfect gift giving occasion. I love giving unique gifts.) Over 23,000 pages of Jewelry (A weird number made of Scrabble tiles.)

Something for Baby
(After watching my friend lose her 10 week old's pacifer on the sidewalk, I think she might be getting this.)
Adorable Hat (A wonder I made it through winter without ordering this, but my head measured too small. Good thing I have a small head, I guess?)

Ring Dishes (I want this for myself, but what's the perfect customized inscription?)
And the whimsical: until Etsy I had no idea of what 'amigurumi' meant, but now I think it's adorable. Sadly many of these little crocheted creatures on the etsy market are just patterns, and my crocheting skills would have very far to go before these fellas were created.


What's cuter, the bunny tucking into the sprinkles, or how he types so furiously??
(And Amy Sedaris too!)

Spring! Spring! Spring!..and then SUMMER!

It's Memorial Day weekend and this can only mean that spring is on its way, with summer to follow shortly.
I am hoping that we earned extra credit with the long grey winter that we have placed out of spring rains. (Although I did have cute wellingtons at the ready for the season.)

Chicaogist reminds us of all the things that make summer so fun.
I'd add:
- Sleeping with the windows open and just a light cotton sheet on top
- Speckled sunshine falling through the green leaves on the trees onto the hood of the car
- Flowers on the deck (something I completed today!)
- Grilling outside
- Reading outside on the deck
("deck" and "outdoors" are key themes here. I can't believe I forgot to tell my realtor that a deck was a 'must have' but she has caught on quickly.)
- Opening the sunroof on the car
- Living 3 blocks from the beach
- the Mexican men wheeling their ice cream carts around the neighborhood (and getting an ice cream sandwich with Jason from them at the beach.)
- Not wanting to go away on vacation because summer is Chicago in its heyday

There will be complaints about summer gas prices (national average $3.91, but we pay the highest prices in the nation... but balance that with our many public transportation options. I think we make out ok.

My Own Obsolescence?

I just discovered this site, and it may be the path to my own obsolescence. I'm not sure why any of my girlfriends would visit my site again when Kirtsy pulls together the best content on the web for women.

If you're familiar with it, it's like a digg for girls.

And it's a new daily read for me.

A Bit of Wise Whimsy?

It's probably a good thing that Crate & Barrel doesn't sell this lamp. On impulse, I'd be tempted to register for it. Look, he's so cute.
I'd put it on my desk, where it might offer its wisdom, in addition to its illumination.
We still haven't decided on a new home, but I have already pulled together some ideas how I'd turn our guest room into an office/sitting room. (Don't worry Guests, that's a pull-out couch.)
I really would like this swank chair, from Target:

Ok, maybe I'll change my mind about the owl tomorrow, but I've liked that chair for a month now.

Coaxing the Spring

C'mon already, it must be time for spring.

And hoping in "Field of Dreams" style that if we just build it, the season will come, I took a walk outside with a friend and her baby today, as well as went to the local greenhouse for flowers. (We might also kick up the grill tonight.)
Granted the walk was made in my fleece and jeans, and I carry a small fear that my new little flowers might struggle with the overnight temperatures.
I visited the greenhouse with my neighbor and fellow Oberlin alum (yay!) He offered wise advice on which flowers might work together and, most of all, made sure that I didn't just buy all petunias. (I did secretly drive back later this afternoon though, and pick up two new types of petunias. Couldn't resist.)
Here are some of my purchases:

The greenhouse is so huge and impressive, and a little local treasure, tucked in amongst the ranch homes off of the highway. It makes the Lowe's selection laughable. I'm so glad that I was tipped off to its existence, because I'd never have found it otherwise. It almost makes me wish I had a real garden instead of 6 finite pots to fill on our deck.

Now if we could just struggle to a consistent temperature over 60, that'd be really nice.

6 Months

This week Jason and I made it through our first six months of marriage.

Oops, "made it through" sounds unintentionally like the months have been an endurance test. I should also say we've enjoyed our first six months of marriage.

Maybe we're doing so well because we're not held to the 1939 Marital Rating Scale:

For Wives:
Demerit: Puts her cold feet on husband at night to warm them.
(Isn't that one of the reasons to get married??!)
Demerit: Walks around house in stocking feet

I must make it up on this though:
Merit: Lets husband sleep late on Sundays and holidays

The husband's rating scale
is equally amusing, and I can suggest its modern day equivalents:
Demerit 1939: Reads newspaper at the table
Demerit today: Texts on iPhone at the table

But other things are timeless:
Demerit 1939 & Today: Belches without apology, or blows nose at table

Date Night

To easily irk me, Jason will turn to me during a mundane evening trip somewhere like Target or the grocery store and say, "You know, this counts as a date

As though any paired excursion outdoors, when it's dark, counts as a date.

We might even be standing by the dumpster, me holding up the lid and him hefting bags over the edge, "You know..," he'll begin. A quick roll of the eyes from me stops him, with a mischievous grin.

But Friday night was authentic date night. We hopped on the El to Argyle, Chicago's Vietnamese neighborhood - which is a good deal closer than the southside Chinatown.

I'd done a little research beforehand, jotting down a list of restaurants favored on food blog, Chowhound.
The place that we headed to had a great review, but walking in I was dubious. We were the only people there, at 7 pm on a Friday night. A twelve year old boy in a sweatshirt and sweatpants ran out to greet us. The decor was homespun and mismatched, christmas lights scotched taped along the wall.

I don't know how I missed it (goes to my earlier post on my ability to introvert readily) but there was also a jumbo screen television in the corner, with professional wrestling playing.

This is why you need date night: We laughed together at the melodrama of wrestling and how fake it all is. Then Jason interjected, "Oh but it's great. I went to see it live and it was hands-down one of the FIVE BEST NIGHTS OF MY LIFE. Me, Corey and Chris had t-shirts made."

This is when you look across the table at the man you've married and marvel at how you will probably never have enough time together to know each other completely. (This had not come up in over five years' acquaintance.)
You also secretly hope that a night that you spent together made his 'top five.' But you don't ask because that's something better presumed than demanded.

I laughed, but Jason made a good case for the energy of the live crowd, the fictional storylines of rivalries and alliances, the exaggerated personalities and antics of professional wrestling. Our twelve-year-old waiter chimed in. Once he realized our interest, he readily provided the biographies of each wrestler, including the dynamics of their signature moves. And remember, we were still the only people in the restaurant.

Wrestling aside, the food was also really good. Totally not what I was expected from the dingy interior. Fresh herbs like mint, cilantro and basil topped our Vietnamese pancake stuffed with bean sprouts. I enjoyed fried rice noodles with chicken and brocoli.

We realized looking at the over 100 items on the menu that my research should have also delved into not just 'where to eat' but 'what to eat." Although, our young waiter recommended egg rolls, which were tasty and crisp.

Next time I want to get 'pho' because that sounds pretty darn good.

I Compromise with Fashion

Oh fashion mavens, why do you coax us into doing things that we're uncomfortable with? Is it because it's for our own good? Or because you delight in playing master puppeteer, convincing our little sheep brains that something new is much better than the old, but perfectly functionable version?

I'm not quite sure about this spring trend for the gladiator sandal.

I look at them and I just think: ugly.
Thickening, with their wide leather straps.
Shortening, with the horizontal criss-crosses chopping the line of our legs off prematurely.
And awkwardly flat-footed when there's no heel to raise and slim the calves, and offset the first two debilitating features.

But when my friend stood in these shoes in a downtown Loehman's a few days ago I was astounded that they actually looked really good on her. She's a little more ahead of me on these things, and already knew that dressing up like Russell Crowe was the defining trend for the spring. (And she got them a good deal cheaper than they are listed online!)

So, also aligning with my resolution to try a little harder in the casual wear department, I found this nice compromise from Timberland:

A nod to the gladiators, but with skinny straps and helping me keep the self-perception alive that I have adorable, diminutive feet. This may suggest may full brainwashing by the fashionistas, but they're actually pretty comfortable too!

And a nice way to side step away from these:
These sandals fall into the category of the item I'd try on, just to make myself laugh out loud.

Don't Wanna

This is honestly how I feel about exercise sometimes.


I received a FedEx package today.
I was driven to the airport in a taxi.
I bought some Sour Patch Kids and an apple.
I buckled my safety belt when a voice told me to; my electronic devices were already turned off.
I ran on a treadmill in the evening, next to two other hotel guests.

All of these people I glanced by today, with different levels of interactive depth, but could I later identify a single face? Not a chance.

I realized this when the woman on the elliptical machine next to me went to get a towel and I momentarily wondered if she had been my flight attendant on today's flight.
Maybe not, I didn't even really look at the flight attendant, I was more keen to get to seat 13C and get my bag squeezed under the seat before another passenger arrived to compete for the space. (I looked at his face a little bit more, but he was about all there was to look at for an hour.)

How is it that I can be so disconnected somedays? Or ignorant to fellow human beings?

I saw hands give me the FedEx package, and I was too eager to see who'd sent me something that I didn't even glance up to look the delivery guy in the eye and say "thanks!" When it occured to me I only saw his left foot retreating down the stairs to his truck. "Thanks!" I called down as I turned to go inside.

I worked for someone who I frequently referred to as the Mayor of our corporate headquarters. He knew the cafeteria cashier's name, and went beyond the usual 'how are you?' to ask a sincere question about the person. "You still playing basketball?" Going to lunch with him took forever because there would be a million stops along the way as people stopped to chat, or he detoured us to someone's office to say hello.

Sometimes I try this. But I'm ashamed to say: it takes effort.

And probably my naturally introverted self would just like to get down the airplane aisle without having to banter with the flight attendant, smile at fellow passengers and have a 'get to know you' with the person seated next to me. Retreating into a quiet personal sphere is the only way to manage the ridiculous lack of personal space in crowded airport gates (3 flights, all delayed, all boarding at once) and rows of filled seats on commercial jets these days. Am I allowed this coping mechanism? Can I be friendly when I have room to raise my arms to my sides and not hit three people?

I might not be hopeless. When I checked into my hotel the clerk handed me my key card and concluded our interaction by saying, "...and my name's Courtney, if you need anything else."
"Thanks, Courtney!" I said.

If Only 10 Simple Rules Were It

Ever notice how magazines love to put teaser headlines on their covers like, "5 ways to make drive him crazy" or "12 easy last-minute meals." is a big culprit of using this lure:

10 Men I'm Glad I Didn't Marry Actually, a fun read. And although I've only ever been asked once (and said 'yes, finally! give me that ring!') I can't say I didn't shudder once or twice while reading this article thinking of some bad dates and ex's.
5 Fun Party Hairstyles
10 Good Ideas for the Garden

And if you were about to think that good advice can only come in numbers divisible by 5, there's also 19 Great Mexican Recipes.

While these enumerated lists make it sound so easy for us to transform our lives, I can't think of any one where I've ever crossed every item.

I try. On Sunday, I applied myself to #3 of the Top 10 Organizing Tips From Chez Larsson: Let it Go.

I pay a monthly fee for a storage unit. In it rest things I visit on occasion, but that play no role in my day-to-day life. Mostly, things I inherited.
I can't just toss it all at once, since in a way everything I throw away causes a little pain, like cutting your fingernail too close. To pitch it all at once might make me feel like chopping off an entire finger.
But here is where #6 was reassuring: Own What You Love and its corollary lesson regarding inherited clutter. Jason learned quickly not to ever approach any item in our home and ask why I insisted on keeping "this piece of junk". Inevitably, my reply was "My mom made that piece of junk," or "That was my Dad's piece of junk when he was a little boy!"
But with time and distance I can apply a more critical eye.

6) Own what you love.
Just because somebody you love gave you something doesn’t mean you have to display it or even keep it if it’s not to your taste.

With that in mind I hauled a few boxes home from the storage unit on Sunday, pulled everything out of its stuffing and in many cases scratched my head, because I didn't even remember owning that... piece of junk... or art!!!

There were some pleasant surprises, things I brought into the house for permanent residence. Like this pretty ceramic vase for my springtime peonies and sunflowers.

Of course, discoveries like these only enable further hoarding, creating a conflict between the urge to unburden and the hoarding instinct. (This makes one of the comments on the Apartment Therapy blog about 'inherited clutter' make a little sense: "My parents were burgled 5 times after my dad's parents passed away. Because they were insured, it was a huge blessing in disguise. They never would have been able to let go of 100 yr old wedding dresses, much less the far more mundane items.")

This Might be the Problem

My i-Pod workout playlist is kind of like a really cluttered, bursting at the seams closet. Every song that I might have once thought had an upbeat to it, I tossed in there.
Now it's a hodge-podge of songs, some that I like, some that I don't, and some that I don't know I've listened to more than just once. I often find myself on the treadmill taking my sweaty palms off the heart rate monitors to click through to another song. And then another song. And then I don't like that song so much either, so click again.
I decided to enlist the 'wisdom of crowds' of iTunes to look for a better workout playlist. While I was at it, I shopped around for a cooldown playlist too.
The epiphany that followed suggests why my regular gym visits never seem to have the miraculous transformative results that Bally's commercials promise.

The songs on the iTunes cooldown playlists...are the same songs on my existing workout playlist.

The songs on their workout playlists have crazy frenetic dance beats behind them and sound like a regular song, played with your finger half pressing the fast-forward button on the tape cassette player. (Like I did to make Madonna sound like she was a member of Alvin & the Chipmunks in grade school.)

And more sad still, this was a workout playlist that was billed as moderately paced.

For Whom the Belle Tolls

Jason and I watched the "most exciting two minutes in sports" -- the Kentucky Derby-- today. As Bob Costas was doing the introductions and showing us the trophy on television, Jason and I picked our favorites for the race.

His horse won.
Mine died.

Poor Eight Belles, the first filly to run in the Derby since 1999. I picked her for being a girl running with the boys, and for the film they had of her big chocolately brown eyes, and forelock swaying across her forehead in the gentle breeze.

She had to be euthanized just after coming in second place too, beating all but one of the boys. (I was not the only one disappointed. And of course some people are reading more into it than necessary. For the record, Barack had his money on another male horse entirely. I hope this doesn't mean McCain wins in November.)
I hope there are lots of carrots, apples and big open fields in horsey heaven for her to enjoy.

Every Night on the Nimitz

All week I have been addicted to watching Carrier on PBS. And they fed my addiction by playing two hours every single night!
I hesitated to blog about how much I loved it, because the series wrapped up on Friday night, so none of you would be able to enjoy it. But thanks to the glories of the internet, you too can enjoy the full episodes, on demand.
By Tuesday, I wanted to fly jets, especially after seeing profiles of two female pilots on the carrier. But PBS went beyond the show-off shenanigans of Top Gun to the annals of the ship, and the stories of all the enlisted personnel who keep the ship running. How to planes launch? How do they take care of everyone's trash? What do the dining halls look like? How do they do laundry? Where do they keep their stuff?
The series is not like a History or Military Channel documentary devoted to detailing the technical details of the Nimitz or its historical contributions to wartime history. Instead, the filmmakers followed a handful of crew members aboard the Nimitz, from the girl making scrambled eggs in the galley to the guy running the catapult under the decks.
The music from the series is also very good, which is why they include the play list on the website.
I have no idea what I'll do next week, since I've spent this gloomy weekend watching the remaining hours of Carrier I missed during the week on TiVo.

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