Tuesday, July 28, 2009
They're having a little girl, who they plan to name Josie, some time in early December. I am, of course, putting my vast and general dislike of children aside because genetically speaking, the kid has absolutely zero chance of being unfun, uncool, or unclever. In fact, I fully expect her to pop out with an arsenal of snappy comebacks, witticisms and a hyper-advanced knowledge of writing, music and pop culture.
Poods (she LOVES it when I call her that) asked me if I'd be willing to take on a nursery-decorating project and when I saw what she had in mind, I said yes in less time than it took me to finish reading her e-mail.
Her plan is to use this etsy creation as inspiration:
She's given me a lot of leeway and said she wants cool fabric (none of this solid stuff) to spell out Josie. And it's up to me to figure out if I want to use ribbons, hooks, magic, etc, to get them to stick to the wall. Because I'm a hyper-achiever (over-achievers are the new underachievers. Hyper- is where it's at), I immediately sent her an e-mail featuring 38 different fabrics that I thought might fit with her color scheme.
Here's the catch. I have some idea of how to do this, but I'm not sure the best method.
I can trace big letters onto freezer paper for patterns, cut it out, sew them and stuff it, but I'm afraid they'll look lumpy and lame. And since I have big plans of being the world's coolest non-biological aunt, that simply won't do.
She said they didn't have to be soft, so I found this tutorial over at Jo-Ann's.
It seems like it'll work, but I'm half afraid it will be TOO easy. Because, apparently, I'm a glutton for punishment.
I'm not sure of the font I want to use, or the size of each letter, but I think I want them to resemble a whimsical version of these from Anthro _ maybe upper case, maybe lower?
Anyway, you guys are smart. Any ideas or suggestions on how to do this? Lemme know! And a preemptive thanks from me and Little J.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Forty-five minutes. That's the time between when my alarm when off at 5:23 a.m. this morning and when I actually got around to dragging myself myself out of bed.
It's a quarter of the time between when I sat down at my desk and when I finally got a chance to pop my head up and hunt down my second cup of coffee.
It's also the amount of time I spent swimming laps in the pool this afternoon.
Guess which one flew by?
Now, put on your thinking caps and think about which one was absolutely interminable.
Really, 3/4 of an hour isn't that long of a time _ whether you're sleeping or pounding out laps in the pool.
The problem is that 45 minutes sucks if you're me and you're in a swimming pool bored out of your skull, hoping that the time alone in your head combined with the sensory deprivation and the rhythm of the strokes and the breathing and the flip turns will give you time for deep, existential contemplation.
This was how my deep existential contemplation went:
"1, 2, 3, 4 ... I should really stop counting my strokes. 5, 6... DAMMIT. Hum. Deep thoughts. Deeeeep thoughts. Right. Thoughts. Does anything rhyme with 'thoughts?' Maybe 'Mott's.' Like the juice. Oh jeez, I'm thirsty. Why is it when I'm thirsty and shopping nothing makes me feel more refreshed than chugging some apple juice? Or cider? And, God, cider. Cider Jack. A six pack of that was my college standby. No. No. These are not deep thoughts. Deep thoughts need to be about my career, my friendships, my relationships, my body image, my faith in God, my future, my ... OMG! That dude in the lane next to me should NOT be wearing that Speedo. Banana hammock. Banana hammock. HAMMOCK. MAKE IT GO AWAY."
And so it goes.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I have a lengthy list of to-be-gifted sewing projects coming up, so I won't spill the beans and say whose home this is destined for, but I hope they'll like it. Because it's going to be awesome. And was made with all sorts of Noodlesy love.
Here's the first block:
And a closer look:
And the bird, who I think I will name Cecilia. Or, Sebastian. I'm still, you know, deciding.
Also known as: my weekend of summer fun. Because, sometimes, you just need to chill with your friends, recuperating from a Chinese food coma by laying on the grass along the Chicago River with your feet sticking straight up in the air, toes a-wiggling toward the sunshine. For absolutely no particular reason whatsoever.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
And if you come home from a long day at the office, to find your dog looking like this, while obsessively carting around some kind of beat-up-squeaky-rodent-looking toy that they seemingly stole from your neighbor, should you wonder if they know something about the world that you don't?
Do you ever watch the pile of dirty clothes expand like, uh (thinks of funny analogy), procreating rabbits? Fungus? A dude on 'roids?
Do your outfits get less and less coordinated, eventually to the point where your coworkers are convinced you have a job interview because you're wearing something so abnormally nice and professional since it's all that's left in your closet?
Do you ever get down to the dregs of the underwear drawer, only to realize all that you have left to put on is either a) too small; b) a member of the granny pantie variety; or c) one of those thongs you bought on a whim only to realize that you'd never actually wear a thong because butt floss isn't your thing?
And then ...
Do you ever suck it up one night, scrape up all the dirty (and now fur-covered clothes) from your floor, diligently separating them into lights and darks, and throw them into super-sized loads? And then, actually fold some of them, instead of letting them sit _ cleanly _ in a pile on the laundry room floor, ready for you to pick through them in the morning as you're bleary-eyed and just out of bed?
And then ...
Do ever wake up the next morning, and realize you have a ZILLION different clothing/underwear options? And do you think that nirvana smells like Tide?
Because, if you do, there's an above-average chance we were separated at birth.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I also got to hang out with my favorite 2-year-old on the planet. (Who incidentally, is among the small-but-growing ranks of the few children I will voluntarily hang with. Kids don't like me. I think they can smell fear.)
Anyhoodles, little Miss Natalie brought her favorite toy with her, a much loved rabbit named , appropriately, Bunny.
All of this got me thinking about my favorite childhood toy. One of my first posts on this blog was about childhood books, which I could still write about ad nauseum. But favorite toy? Hum.
I'd have to say that was Mr. Bear, who later on was also known by the full name I gave to him: Ted E. Bear. (I'm clever, huh?) I'm not sure sure Mr. Bear came into my life, but I'm fairly certain I was 3. Or 6. Or something. Regardless, I got him while visiting my grandparents and he became a mainstay. I dragged him to summer camps and slumber parties, my high-school dorm room and my college apartments. Just for posterity sake, I even managed to smush him into my suitcase when I studied abroad.
Some 25 years later, Mr. Bear is still around, but in a way different capacity. His red bow tie is twisted has a big hole, thanks to an unfortunate run-in with the family dog. He's also sorta dusty, sorta deflated, sorta matted and sorta covered in errant Mutt fur.
A little worse for the wear, he's a great reminder of a terrific childhood. And he's something I'd love to pass on should I wind up having my own kids some day. (P.S. Should that happen, I hope they don't terrify me the way other kids too. That would go in the category of Things That Are Not Cool.)
So what about you? What was your favorite toy? Do you still have it? Do you wish you did? Spill....
Monday, July 13, 2009
That's me. And you know what? I just finished a freakin' triathlon. In 2:12:41. Yup. Me.
Me who thought trying to do this would be a way to prove something to myself, to the world. Me who had moments of inspiration. Me who freaked out and worried I wouldn't be strong enough. That I wasn't prepared enough. That I wasn't athletic enough. Or fit enough. Or skinny enough. Or determined enough.
But you know what? I WAS enough. I was tough enough for a half-mile open water swim. And for a 12 mile bike ride with hills, and for a 5k. And it was, quite simply, AWESOME.
I wasn't fast. And I certainly wasn't first. But amazingly, I also wasn't last. And during the whole thing, I was inordinately proud.
Of course, I almost cried twice. Not because I was so tired or exhausted. In fact, truth be told, I feel like I could have pushed myself harder, had my goals been something other than to a) not die; and b) to finish.
I almost cried at the start of my heat when Sally Edwards, a world-record holder in triathlons, waded into the water with us as we stared (OK, squinted) across the lake toward the finish line. And she gave us a pep talk. She said that today was a day that was about was sisterhood, and pushing yourself and being strong.
"When you see a girl struggling, you're going to help her. When you see that she's tired, you going to give her some energy. If someone passes you, you're going to say 'You go, girlfriend!'," she screamed. "Because you are a strong woman!"
And I almost cried again when I crossed the finish line. When I got high fives from the crowd of spectators and from the women who'd finished ahead of me. And when the announcer called my name over the speaker as I was coming into the gate. And when I got to claim my medal for finishing.
Writing it now, I'm still getting teary-eyed.
It all started before the sun rose, when we pulled into the parking lot at 5:30 a.m. It was cold. And I was terrified. We tied a balloon to the bike rack and got our stuff set up. We'd even made sure to leave the chalk messages on the ground to help us find our way.
We walked to the beach to eat breakfast and watch the elite women start just before 7 a.m. At 8:08 a.m., I was the one standing on the beach with my heat of 100-or-so girls, listening to the crowd count down to our start.
Oh my God.
I stuck toward the back of pack, hoping to avoid the thrashing and kicking. And got into an easy pace doing breast stroke. I actually surprised myself when I realized how far I'd gone, and how I wasn't even tired. I wasn't gasping for air. And I hadn't needed to stop, or even turn on my back to catch my breath and calm down. A swimmer named Jessica was on my shoulder and we actually chatted a bit during the swim. (Yes. I'm the ONLY person who would have a conversation with a stranger in the middle of a half mile swim across a big-ass lake.)
Sure, people passed me. OK, a lot of people passed me. But I passed a lot of people too.
From there, it was into the transition area to get ready for the bike. I was in the 19th heat to go out so by the time I got to the holding area, some women were done the bike ride (The super speedy elite athletes were done the whole race) but everyone was cheering and shouting. I cheered and shouted back as I rinsed the sand off my feet, put on my socks and shoes, t-shirt and helmet and then headed out.
The thing about biking in Wisconsin is that there's hills. Sure, they call them "gently rolling hills." But when your usual bike route takes you along the pancake-flat terrain of the Lake Shore Drive Bike Path, there's something disconcerting when you start to climb your first hill and your hamstrings begin to wince. And then there's something even more troubling when you climb your second _ and bigger _ hill and the wincing becomes a sort of dull scream. And then, when you get past that and see a sign that says "Mile 2" you're pretty inclined to shout out loud to no one in particular: "Are you fucking kidding me?" And then you will look at the writing on the bottom of the mile marker sign: "You're riding for all the women who can't." And then, you know what? You suck it up and keep pedaling.
All of which was exactly what I did. When women passed me, I shouted to them "rock on, lady!" When I passed women who looked like they were struggling, or who looked like they too were frequent Lane Bryant shoppers, I turned to them and said: "Hey! You know what? We kick ass!"
Suddenly, 12 miles just flew by. (For the record, I would have thrown in a high five but I'm not so much the balance and I didn't want to tempt fate.)
Then it was into the final transition area. I ditched the helmet. Threw on a ball cap, and headed back out for the 5K. Most people who do triathlons seem to be scared of the swim. Running is the easy part. Hardy har har. Easy that is, unless you're me. Because in case you missed it, running is HARD. Especially when you have lots of bits on you that are jiggly and wobbly. And quite frankly, I prefer not to bounce when I exercise.
But the run was OK. I jogged a bit. And walked. A lot. At some point, a group of women who'd already finished went back out on the 5k course, complete with a big boom box that blared the Dixie Chicks song "Ready to Run" and clapped and waved and cheered the women who were still going. I wanted to hug them. But I had another mile and a half to go.
I saw teenagers and senior citizens toughing it out. There were church groups. And moms and daughters. And cancer survivors. And elite athletes. There were waif-thin girls and hefty, hefty women. Also in the line up: an 87-year-old who finished in 2:08. (For those who are paying attention, that's four minutes faster than me.) And a 59-year-old woman finished after learning to ride a bike in May.
I was proud of each and every one of us.
Looking back I think the thing that stuck with me was when I listened to the announcer over the PA system at the start of the day. He was talking about the field of athletes that were competing. And there it was: Athletes.
The sun was rising on a perfect summer morning and warmed me up as I sat on the grass. The music was blaring. And it was like a moment of Zen when it hit me.
I was one of them.
There are a lot of adjectives I'd use to describe myself (sassy, smart, stubborn, sarcastic and even some that don't begin with the letter "s".) But athletic is not one of them. I'm not an athlete. I'm just a girl who wishes her pants fit better and her life wasn't so chaotic and her neuroses weren't so terrifying and her confidence wasn't so shoddy and her life was just a little bit more put together.
But on Sunday, I was an athlete. And it was indescribably cool.
P.S. Check out our medals. Sweet bling, huh? :-)
Monday, July 6, 2009
There's a ton of great details, but the part that blew my mind was about how some of the folks in this Amish community became, really, just as screwed as the rest of us are. (Blew my mind as in fascinating. Not blew my mind as in schadenfreude.) Some had the opportunity to make money thanks to a now-halted manufacturing boom in their northern Indiana region. And just like a CD stuck on repeat, like people in almost every community and culture, they began to look for bigger and better and more than the next person.
I'm no expert on the Amish (and this article is only about one community of Amish, so I'm not going to presume to extrapolate where I shouldn't...), but these are folks whose whole premise is connected to a faith-backed message to live simply. They don't want to accumulate what they don't need. They want to be humble and be closer to God. (Right?)
It became common practice for families to leave their carriages home and take taxis on shopping trips and to dinners out.
Some Amish families had bought second homes on the west coast of Florida and expensive Dutch Harness Horses, with their distinctive, prancing gait. Others lined their carriages in dark velvet and illuminated them with battery-powered LED lighting.
Even the tradition of helping each other out began to unravel, Bishop Hochstetler says. Instead of asking neighbors for help, well-to-do Amish began hiring outsiders so they wouldn't have to reciprocate.
If the Amish can't fight it, and can't be content with what they have, then who can? Are we genetically wired to want more and more? Or are we cultured to be that way? And can we ever just take a moment to be happy _ and thankful _ for what we have?
As I look around at my over-stuffed condo (which, frankly, I probably paid too much for) I'm pretty sure I'm just as guilty as the next person. I think about every time I've moved and the pile of what can only be described a shit that I wind of carting to Goodwill. I hope someone else can use it, but really, did I need it in the first place? How much money did I waste? I think about how consumed I've unknowingly become by my stuff and my lifestyle _ and how consumed we've all unknowingly become by our stuff and our lifestyles _ and it makes me sad.
Is there an solution? Probably. Is there one I want to accept? Doubtful. I guess there's no moral to this philosophical ramble. Other than this: read the article. And think about yourself. And your family. And your junk drawer (fine, fine, in my house, it's a junk closet floor AND a junk cabinet). And maybe just think... how'd I get here?
Soap box over. I promise to return to crafty blogging and make-you-laugh-'til-your-sides-hurt stories later. Girl Scouts' honor.
It: 1/2 mile swim; 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile jog (in my case, slow amble.)
And oh my God. It's this Sunday.
What. Was. I. Thinking?
And now I'm... terrified is probably a good word. Another appropriate phrase might be "scared shitless." Also: losing my mind. And trying not to completely melt down?
So what if I had a moment of kick-ass girl power when I thought I was strong and could handle it? That was before. But now it's here.
And I'm obsessing about everything.
What will I eat between now and then? What will my race day breakfast be? (Tentative plan: whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana.) I'm mired in the logistics of getting a rental car. What time do I pick it up so I can get to Wisconsin in time for the mandatory orientation on Saturday, and get back to Chicago with enough time to spare on Sunday before my 24-hour window is up? Will I have a safe and dry place to stash my camera so I can at least have a picture to remember the day and offer visual proof to the world that I didn't chicken out and show up? What about a little iPod, so I am not alone in my head for the 2.5 hours I suspect this thing will take me? Will I feel like a big, jiggly giant among the tiny, svelte muscley tri chicks? Should I put on sunblock? What if I forget sunblock? What if I get skin cancer? Can I find some way to get my goggles to quit leaking and quit fogging over? What if it rains? What if I get kicked in the face during the swim? What if I get some weird pond fungus? What if I fall on my bike? WHAT IF I'M THE LAST ONE TO FINISH?
I'd be lying if I didn't secretly wish for some kind of freak accident that causes me to sprain an ankle between now and then. Sure, I'd also be really disappointed in myself that happened. But whatever. It just seems like such a less horrifying option. (It's like that time in 9th grade, when I was convinced my football-playing crush would ask me to homecoming and instead he asked someone else, and I was left going to the dance with a date who asked me if semi-formal meant his jeans were Ok. And then I wished I had appendicitis, so I wouldn't have to go, even though I had a dress, which I was sure at the time made me look stunning enough to exact retribution on the football player who, despite asking me out on my first date, NEVER SPOKE TO ME AGAIN. Ok. Or maybe it's not like that. But ... )
Whatever. I'm not rational. I'm petrified. I'm going to do it. I think I can do it. I want to do it. But oh my God. And it's only Monday.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
So, what to update you on blogosphere...
1) The Try-Athlon.
The triathlon is next weekend and I am, in a word, screwed. Really, "fucked" would be a more appropriate term, but I'm trying to cut down on the swearing. I got cocky and fell off the nice happy training regimen I had set up for myself, since I could easily do the half-mile swim and 12 mile bike. (The lazy was augmented by the fact that I decided I would walk the 5k. Because I'm that much of a slacker.) But yesterday I went for my first open-water swim and just got schooled by Lake Michigan. Because, unlike pools that have nice walls for you to push off from, lakes have these things called waves. Big-ass ones. And currents. And they're not so much with the "clear," which makes for lots of fun when you're a) blind as a bat anyway without your glasses; b) wearing totally fogged up goggles. The first quarter mile was pretty shitty, what with the water being 62-degrees and choppy. Every time I tried to breathe, I sucked up a bunch of water because of one of those pesky waves. But the way back, the waves were at my back and I could get into a cadence I was comfortable with. Of course, my shoulders feel like they've been pulled from their sockets today. I figure I'll be able to finish the tri, but it won't be pretty. And I will be in a world of hurt come July 13.
2) Hello, Nature. Meet Noodles.
Nature and I have no beef. In fact, I dig almost all our furry friends, magestic sunrises, blah balh blah. So why, why, why can I not commit to going on a weekend-long camping trip at the end of the month? Oh, I know, because I'm insane. Here's my hang up. We get there Friday evening. We have a campfire. Eat. Go to sleep. Get up. Enjoy the scenery. And, uh, then what? Then I'm stuck in the woods for a whole other day. I mean, I'm sure I can keep myself entertained: there's lakes, and beaches, and row boats to rent. Bonding with friends. Beer. But I can't get my OCD Type-A head wrapped up around the fact that you just SIT THERE. And relax. Wha? No errands to run? No stores to visit? No projects to complete? You. Nature. A bunch of friends. And silence. And I'm scared shitless that I will go insane. Why!?
3) Sew, baby sew!
I'm teaching a sewing class. And by teaching I mean teaching-ish. And by class I mean, class-ish. Mainly, two of my girl friends want to learn how to quilt. They're taking a class, but they wanted to learn the basics of a machine without paying $50/each for a how-to-sew class. So they're coming over tomorrow afternoon for some girl time. We're going to make a project, which should be fun... currently I'm thinking patchwork pillows. Yay!
4) There's more, I know.
But I don't want to bore you guys. Plus, I need to clean my house for tomorrow's class since I have a D-A-T-E tonight and, er, may be home late. :-)
Sorry to have been AWOL. Promise to be better.