Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snowball Season

It started with a commercial I saw for $26/sq. ft granite.

Seems harmless enough, a great improvement at a great price. So we went for it, finally replacing our out of date counter tops with custom granite. Of course that also meant a new double sink and then why not also upgrade the faucet while we have a plumber at our disposal? Well now the cabinet pulls look really outdated. Why not replace all 29 of those guys? But look, now the doorknobs don't match. And hey - did you ever notice how much more light we'd get if we just finally went to a flat screen? But where do we put all of the DVDs and remotes and stuff that are in the gigantic entertainment center we don't want in our house but don't want to get rid of? Not in the current storage unit, it's too small and so we need to get a bigger one to hold more stuff. Now what do we have to put the new TV on? Nothing? So we need something smaller and shorter. Great found it, but it doesn't solve our storage problem. Hey did you notice this coffee table? It would look really great with that new TV stand. And look, two smaller media cabinets that can go on each side of the fireplace. Ah, the room looks great - except did you happen to notice that now the windows are more prominent these blinds have to go? And the sills need to be painted. But the same color as the kickers on the foyer steps. And did you notice that the carpet on the landing in there is dirty again? No - because I was looking at the flooring in the hallway on the way there - it's really time to upgrade. And the baseboards need to be replaced. Look at this door jam, it's coming apart from being slammed. Mostly because you were being cheap and wouldn't let me look at granite slabs so I slammed the door when I was drying my hair.

Which needs a trim...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tick, tick, tick.

I realize it's been a while, but hopefully, like old friends we can pick up where we left off - which was sometime back in late summer with me apologizing for being less available and hoping to get back to writing.

I have been writing, but in a more private way and more importantly, I've been reading, traveling, taking in shows, teaching improv, performing, writing songs for a show I've had simmering for a while, and thinking about where I am, where I want to be, and where to keep pushing and where to just accept my lot (I am having great difficulty in this area, as I am profoundly confounded when having to quit things - I get hives, nausea and insomnia when faced with quitting anything.) I see it only as failure - never as freedom the way others can.

I recently heard the song Love the One You're With and became very nearly angry with the defeatist message of the lyrics...if you can't be with the one you love...throw in the towel and pretend? My, what a lot of actors we all are? Oscars all around!

What a sad and unsatisfying way to approach life - especially in a song. Reality may require it, but in a song? Fucking fight for whatever you want. In personal terms I apply the song not necessarily (well not at the moment) to my most significant relationship with another person, but rather to the one I have with myself.

I wish I had the guts to fight this way in reality - but I certainly would put up a fight in my artistic endeavors - the one place where the world can become your oyster. Where the ending can twist. New relationships forged. Out of reach achievements awarded, and the self you'd hope to become is the self that is on display. I'd never celebrate the disappointments in my life with a song - especially one with such a preachy tone - as if it's helpful to anyone.

Lately I've been dealing with the fact that in getting older, you lose that range of potential that was once bestowed on a person simply because of time, which is fading fast and furious. There are major life altering decisions and sacrifices to make and time is the evil reason for forcing it all to climax. It means evaluating everything in life. Everyday choices. And it's exhausting. And frustrating. But tick, tick, tick goes the clock and more time passes and nothing really changes and you have to decide - or at least decide to try, and then it just gets you back to a place where you lose sight of why you're in it to begin with and simply have a goal and all the romance fades because there is no more just "being" it's all time, and responsibility, and opportunity, and keeping up with the Joneses and the tick, tick, tick only gets louder and louder.

But then, it's 10:47 and you have a project that's due, a proposal to overnight, a dishwasher to empty and the mundaneness begins to seep in, which leads to madness. Am I doomed to be disappointed because I always thought I'd be a certain way (dare I say it...special?) - or will that eventually drive me to where I've dreampt? God help me that I feel something along the lines of the latter because this is suffocating. And manifests itself uncandidly as bitterness, which I am happy to quit.

Friday, August 20, 2010

End of Summer To Dos

Try to find the time to:

...see friends you haven't in a while
...take that vacation
...try that new restaurant
...have the doctor check out that mole/lump/rash
...watch an army of ants carry a beetle back to their anthill (Do they just call it a hill? Or home?)
...swim in a natural body of water before the summer is over
...eat a meal outside
...tell someone something personal about yourself
...return to something you love and haven't been able to do in a while (LIKE BLOGGING!)

Will try harder to make time to write blog-readers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Obsession: Polyvore.com

Okay - so I am a clothes horse, as noted in many earlier blogs...but I may have found a solution for how to decrease the amount of shopping I do, but increase my exposure to clothes...www.polyvore.com.

This is a site I read about in an issue of New York magazine and thought I would check it out. Oh, goodness!

I was immediately hooked.

I have already teased you with how much I like the site in my last blog - but I just felt I could really dedicate an entire entry just to this site.

I really enjoy putting outfits together for different events. It's a fun and challenging exercise. Sometimes I'll come across a pair of shoes, earrings or a bag on the site or in a magazine, and I can build an entire outfit around that. Sometimes I have actual events in my own life (video shoots, working from home, dinner with friends, show openings/closings, date night) that I'd like to come up with different outfits and accessorize for. This site saves me from standing in my closet in my underwear for an hours wondering where to start. It also helps me to see what other "basics" would be great for me to have on hand to build a variety of outfits.

Additionally, there is an entire community and thousands of sets to look at for ideas. Really, you can create anything!

The best part about the site is that it's not just tweens. The woman in the New Yorker article is a professional woman who just happens to like clothes. Of course there is a huge Twilight following here - but that is kind of everywhere, now isn't it?

Here's the link to my sets...if you like clothes, check out the site!

Find me on Polyvore

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

News! And Stuff...

Two things - First, sorry I haven't been writing much here lately. I've been busy opening a new sketch comedy show at Second City (it's called Breast in Show, runs Saturdays at 10:30, and tickets are $15.00), spending a lot of time with my "pHamily" of pH Productions, and working hard for my clients.

Also - I have started my second book. (The first you might remember is a children's book - which is still in editing, illustration, and proposal mode.)

The new book is a novel about a Kallen, a woman in her 30's who is facing what all of us do as we age: Sagging, regret, success, and understanding.

The impetus for the book is an approaching birthday - one that will say I'm officially "in" my 30's and I am not at all looking forward to it.

Kallen is going to take care of any remaining regrets, wishes, insecurities and other adventures that I may never get to do, or even ever pursue. (Dating a younger man for instance - I'm happily married.)

She is, of course, skinnier, smarter, and more self-sufficient than me, and will hopefully help to take me to a brave new place in my own life. She is already finding her own voice and I am quickly falling in love with her and hoping publishers and potential readers will too.

Here is a tiny sneak peak:

“Kallen, we can swing this on our own. Can you imagine finally seeing the entire billable invoice in our own names?” he said.

“David, there’s a lot of stuff that we have to…” I interjected.

“Stop worrying. Hey pull over here. I’m downstairs.”

“Who are you talking to? You’re here?” I asked.

“Cab driver. Your message sounded so urgent I just told the cabby to drive me right over to your place. You don’t have any cats do you? I’m allergic.”

Why would he think I have cats? He thinks I’m old. He thinks I’m gross. I’m like his mentor. Which sounds really close to mother. Oh God. I am a first class idiot. Pathetic.

Wait. I don’t have a cat. Halleluia!

“No cat. I hate cats. Aloof bastards. Just me. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll come down. We’ll go across the street and grab a drink” I directed.

“What, I still can’t see the lair?” he asked.

Please don’t let that be a cougar reference.

“Hot women never let me upstairs during the day time” he whined.

“Oh, I’m sure some would.” I consoled.

Shit! Was that bold or cougary?

“Okay. I’ll grab us a seat. Five minutes. I’ll get you a Dirty.”

“Extra Dirty” I corrected.

He knows my drink! Well, sort of. I should probably order Rum and Diet Cokes after that one though. I won’t even be able to get earrings on tomorrow after all of that sodium.

I jam by finger on the End Call button and run to the bathroom. Oh dear gawd. One look in the mirror reminded me of just what that ten year age gap looks like.

Secondly, I have been spending a ton of time here...www.polyvore.com. It's basically paper dolls for grown women but much cooler. You can add anything you want to your "sets" including music and backgrounds. I have even created a few outfits for Kallen there.
Click here to see my collections. It's addicting!
Find me on Polyvore

Drop me a line and let me know what you think of the preview...and if you get hooked on Polyvore too, share your sets with me!

Thanks for reading - I really, really appreciate it, you're lovely.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Announcement: Twitter Your Life! Get More Connected.

Whoever said that technology would be the demise of human connections clearly doesn't have a Twitter account. You can find deeper understanding and strengthen human ties by embracing the multitude of electronic platforms by which to reach out, reach out and touch someone.

Yesterday I was checking Twitter when I learned of Diablo Cody's pregnancy, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy's breakup, and Mo Collins' recent heartache. Now, I don't "know" these people, but I see that they are just human, like me. I somehow feel like I'm more a part of the universe simply, because I learned about these things that they obviously wanted to share - from them - not Billy Bush or TMZ.

Making me feel even more connected, I saw that I had received some new comments on a very personal blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Posted yesterday was a very profound and touching comment from a cousin I don't think I've ever really spent more than several hours with over the course of both of our lives.

I was completley humbled and grateful for her honesty and courage to share her story. I see that we have so much in common - and feel closer to her than I ever thought possible.

A simple blog has brought us closer together, and forged a relationship based on common interestes and feelings - some of them that we'd probably never bring up around a Thanksgiving table.

There is a whole world of people that share their lives (everything from burning their morning toast to relationship woes and medical struggles). In some cases - I wonder why (even for myself) anyone would choose to "air their dirty laundry"?

But I always find myself thinking - maybe there are others that feel the same way I do? Maybe there isn't another person brave enough to say what isn't being said? Maybe I could help?

Here's the thing - in most cases - it's not even really dirty laundry. It's just life. And "social" media is all about connecting and sharing. All you have to do is put your story out there - and you'll soon find out (sometimes in the most surprising places, like in your very own family) that there are other people with wonderful advice and wisdom to impart.

Go ahead and share. It's good for your heart, your mind, your well-being.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This is the Crap You Need.

So last week I told you what crap you don't need...this is the crap you do:

1) TiVo or DVR. You are an active, popular, important person with things to do right? Your busy life shouldn't keep you from seeing all of your favorite shows. Maybe you aren't busy, maybe you spend plenty of time at home, but you opted to watch Twilight (again) and will catch up on 30 Rock over the weekend.

2) A Pandora account. Create the radio channels you like and vote thumbs up or down as songs play. It's free - with short ads running about every 5 songs or so, or for a reasonable fee, Pandora One, which is ad free and has a few additional perks. There are other options than Pandora, but I think it does the best job of feeling out my mood and playing just the right songs.

3) Some polarizing figure to admire. Mine is Chris McCandless (AKA Alexander Supertramp). Yes, he may be seen by some as a suicidal idiot full of nonsense and self-importance - or maybe he just wanted to say fuck it all, I'm going outside. I read Into the Wild more than a decade ago, but didn't see the movie until recently and it rekindled my sort of romance with Chris - his courage and bravado to reject the materialistic comforts afforded to him startled me and I admired it then, as I do today. Plus, someone else's failures and successes remind you you're only human, without the carpet burn.

4) Two sounding boards: A wacky creative artist for business dilemmas and a stuffy business type for creative problems. The creative artist is not aware of traditional "solutions" and therefore automatically offers unique and out of the box ideas and opinions. Same is true of the stuffed suit - they will apply business logic and statistics to your creative problem and help you to see through the clutter to the bare bones and hopefully, the heart of the piece. In both scenarios, you will be trying something different and avoiding making the same choices over and over.

5) A signature cocktail. Face it, it's just kind of cool. Plus it helps people to know what to have on hand when you're coming over. I like Presecco (Italian sparkling wine) and sometimes Frambois Lambic (Belgian raspberry beer that is also sparkling).

6) Some piece of clothing that makes any outfit special - and instantly says any ensemble you're wearing is your own. I have a blue pashmina I wear year round and it instantly dresses up anything I'm wearing, keeps me warm, keeps food off my clothes, provides an odor guard on public transportation, and goes with everything.

7) Some cool party trick or entertaining flair. Mine is an endless capacity to connect celebrities a la Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and making a kick-ass ice cream bomb dessert - which I always unmold in front of an audience.
Patty Duke to Kevin Bacon:
1. Patty Duke was in The Miracle Worker with Anne Bancroft
2. Anne Bancroft was in Keeping the Faith with Edward Norton.
3. Edward Norton was in Fight Club with Brad Pitt.
4. Brad Pitt was in Sleepers with *Kevin Bacon
or Patty Duke to Kevin Bacon:
1. Patty Duke was in The Miracle Worker with Anne Bancroft
2. Anne Bancroft was in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman
3. Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Bacon were both in Sleepers.
or Patty Duke to Kevin Bacon:
1. Patty Duke was in Prelude to a Kiss with Alec Baldwin
2. Alec Baldwin was in She's Having a Baby with Kevin Bacon.
As for the ice cream bomb, you'll just have to hope for an invite.

8) Some awful work disaster that happened in the past by which to compare every other work disaster. "This is no worse than X...and I survived that" or "this isn't nearly as bad as X, I should just move forward". Or this is way worse than X, what did I do then that might help me now?

9) A sense of humor. And forgiveness for yourself when you think something is really funny, but it is only funny to you.

10) A good pair of earbuds/headphones to drown out everyone else. You're your own best company.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baby Proofing - Childless and Happy

So a few weeks ago my mom sent me an article that ran in Self Magazine about a 30-something lady who claimed to not have the "baby" gene. The article started great and I immediately related to it fully until...it led to her undergoing multiple fertility treatments and eventual Momdom.

You could say, she lost me at stirrups.

I thought - hey, finally, an article from my point of view - refreshing! So many articles start that way but end "as I rocked my beautiful bundle of joy to sleep, I couldn't possibly imagine life without her/him and I too drifted to sleep". (EYE ROLL.)

Defeated again, I vowed to write a blog entry from the "Childless and Happy" - or at least doing just fine, thanks - point of view - just in case there happens to be even one other person out there in my shoes.

As a married person in her early 30s, there is quite a lot of pressure to have a "family". (As if my husband and I don't count as one - our own holiday celebrations, fulfilling careers and large circle of friends and extended family not withstanding.) You may have seen my response in Redbook recently regarding their article "What is the Right-Size Family". Not one childless couple was included, and so - you know me! - I wrote in and lo and behold they printed my letter.

The pressure comes from everywhere - not just friends and family. The media, complete strangers, co-workers, you name it. There is even a weird internal pressure - like later in life I'll regret it...but at the moment - and still with some time on my side (albeit it dwindling) we have put the "trying to start a family" thing on pause. But it doesn't stop people from asking and then reacting with such disdain and rudeness when we say we might not ever have kids. "Ever?" No, we don't think so. "EVER?" No, we just don't think so right now. "You will. You're just frustrated. Have you tried Dr. Such and Such? Standing up? Elevating your hips after sex?" You know random lady at the airport...it's none of your business!!!!

See, a while back we thought we'd try. And so we did. Very quickly it became obvious it was not nearly as easy to get pregnant as our junior high gym coach led us to believe. Both of us have minor "equipment" problems, and therefore, if we were to proceed, it would most likely require scientific intervention. The initial poking and prodding was enough to beg the question - perhaps this is not meant to be?

If I have to force it so much - maybe it's not in the cards. We aren't wealthy enough to try everything under the sun, plus I don't know if I'm strong enough to endure what some women gladly do for even a slim chance at a baby.

So, instead of trying, lately we've been playing around with the idea of getting use to not having any kids - and are tentatively finding that it may suit us better. As a matter of fact, a calmness and sort of comforting resignation has settled in.

It's not that we really dislike kids. We are completely surrounded by kids in our condo building - all of them adorable and fun to play with and watch grow. But.....in such close quarters we have also realized that children, even really well-behaved ones, are loud, needy, use tons of crap that would not compliment our current decor, and constantly require attention. Since I already demand these things, it doesn't seem fair to my husband to double that annoyance. Nor does it seem fair to bring a child into a home where we might...dare I say it? Resent it, even a little.

I know, that there may eventually be a different ending to this story for us - perhaps we'll adopt a few years from now, which is an amazing thing to do - and could be an even more fulfilling experience for us. However, then we'll have to go through such a rigorous process to be deemed "acceptable"parents that it too, seems like a lot to deal with.

What if we just didn't - wouldn't that be okay too? What is a family anyway?

Here is a short list of Pros and Cons that run through my head on shuffle constantly:

When we get old they (might) take care of us.
I suppose car trips and vacations might be fun.
Baby Boden.
Christmas would be a lot more fun.
Feel like you're leaving a mark on the world.
Payback for the neighbors (just kidding!) Okay, just kidding a little. Okay, not kidding really at all. PAYBACK.
(More) grandchildren for our parents.
Funny dinner conversations, inside jokes, stories.
Finally, a use for my boobs.
More love.

General stickiness.
Have I mentioned that I lost nearly 40 pounds recently?
Won't have someone to teach what we know (that for a little while, thinks we're the best at it.)
No more going to St. Martin a week before Christmas.
They leave marks on everything.
I'm an actor and improviser - how would that work?
No more fancy dinners.
Having to serve macaroni and cheese with hot dogs cut up in it alongside sushi.
Stretch marks.

If you're out there - this is an open invitation to connect! What are you stories and thoughts about not having kids?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crap You Don't Need.

In honor of spring cleaning and the many tweets and Facebook statuses I've seen recently related to "cleaning out" our homes, here is my list of stupid crap (shit) you don't need:

1) iPad. Sorry Apple. Aside from the plethora of feminine hygiene jokes that come to mind, it also reminds me of a Flintstones tablet. Only that was more animated because of the live bird you would use to "write" on it. (#flashfail)

2) While we're on the subject of feminine products - who's the genius that invented pads for thongs? Who on earth combines either of these two ideas? Sexy underwear + menstruation is like mixing tequila and doing your taxes, not a good idea.

3) A fax machine. If you need to send a document to someone, scan it and email it. Faxing is stupid. This homemade video , (remake of famous Office Space scene) is awesome.

4) Briefcases that have wheels. Maybe you should look for another job that doesn't make you work so hard. Or possibly consider growing a set and carrying your bag like a grown up? Stop running over my feet with it on your suburban sprint to the Metra. (#alsolame)

5) Collections of pretty much any kind, except for priceless works of art, diamonds and/or photos, records.

6) Any camera, (moving or still) that is not digital. Soon you'll find yourself without a way to find film or developing services.

7) Press on nails for toes. Or for any nails for that matter. Just saw these at Walgreens. Weird and gross.

8) Anything for a pet that doesn't provide for it's three basic needs: eating, sleeping and not getting worms. I'm not saying pets shouldn't have toys or a comfortable place to sleep, but some dogs live better than people. This is 4+8+10.

8) Cell phones that aren't "smart".

9) Another season of American Idol (#simonistheshow)

10) Anything from Skymall.
What's the pocket for?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Cleaning and Fresh Starts

Just like everyone else I love spring - the first few chances to shed the heavy jackets, feel the sun shine and that undeniable "fresh" start feeling.
This year, when it came time for spring cleaning I decided to give my closet an over haul. Due to my weight loss this year I had a feeling many of my spring/summer clothes would be a bit too big for me to wear this year and lo and behold - I was right.

Didn't realize I'd be this right:

Going through the clothes, I no longer felt I needed to hold onto things that I bought at fancy stores, or in European countries (there will be some happy folks at Goodwill soon, let me tell you!), no, it was more important for me to get a "clean slate", and find some air and space to beautify and lighten up my surroundings.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to empty out the closet that much (as you can see below - it's still pretty full.) I had hopes of revealing a cavernous empty closet in which I could quickly refill with smaller sizes. Alas, I had saved many things from when I was smaller - and thus will focus on giving them a second chance.

Living with a cluttered closet made me kind of crazy. I could never find anything - everything had to be ironed because it was so squished in there. No wonder I was stressed out all the time! Can you imagine combining the stuff from the "Goodwill" pile into my current closet? Bad, bad, bad. Cluttered, cluttered, cluttered.

And when my space is cluttered? So is my mind!

I will be trying the "if something new comes in, something else must go out" concept from now on, but it does seem kind of hard.

I plan on going back in there in a few days and rethinking each piece again. I'm sure there are still items I never wear. Unfortunately, there were several items I ended up bagging up for donation that still had tags on them! I just never got around to wearing them, and now they're too big.

Hoping I can be more careful when shopping now - it seems like I tended to buy things like "going out" shirts - which are pretty much disposable. If I could go back I wouldn't have spent so much of my income (when I was really making a large one) on such frivolous things. Now that I save, pinch pennies and work from home, I don't have as much need to shop. I have been able to replace some jeans and pants (because the others were literally falling off), and have taken to tee shirts and tank tops from Target that are both cheap and easy.

But the best part of having a nice cleaned out closet is the time it saves when you need to get ready in a hurry, and keeping the door open makes our bedroom seem larger. I was even able to use a lamp from my old office - giving it a new life and allowing it to be used again. This helped me to let go of the negative feelings I had toward that job. I really like those lamps and was sad that I hated them because they were a reminder of that time.

"Why not consignment?", you might ask - well, I just don't have that kind of free time, and after doing a little research they train those clerks to be relentless. Only top brands (forget trying to sell your Banana Republic, J. Crew or Gap stuff), and even if it's Anthropologie, London brands like Jigsaw, Whistles or designer labels, they will critique it and make you feel so bad about it that it's just better to give it away and hope that someone who really needs a break gets to find it first. I don't need the headache. And for the most part - it wouldn't really be letting go, or keeping with the "fresh" start feeling now would it?

Now onto another thing to tackle this spring: Procrastination.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Remember Me Review - Can't Shake It

SPOILER ALERT! This blog may reveal more than you would like if you do plan to see this film!!!!
First - I will come clean about 2 things. 1) I am typically one who is enjoys sappy and melancholy movies 2) I have a crush on Robert Pattinson.

That said, don't discount Remember Me. It's a movie worth trying at least - and I found I was surprised by it and the story, and actually can't shake it.

It's basically a story told in three kind of clunky parts:
Part 1: Broody boy is (still) dealing with tragic suicide of his older brother. Why is broodiness considered such a cheap character trait by critics - broody people are usually bright and interesting - they understand the problems of the world and are bothered by them, not everyone lives in a hot tub time machine.

Part 2: Broody boy meets equally broody (but in its feminine state: mysterious, playful, needy) chick and quite the realistic romance ensues. This is exactly what young love looks like. Kind of messy, very emotional, forgiveness is easy.
Part 3: Broody boy comes clean to chick about something - but is not really punished for it -a fight, a smack, and then a short period apart then all is forgiven. Then, just when the first shy declarations of love are spoken, and you think everything is going well...tragedy strikes again. (You know it's coming, there are plenty of hints along the way - and I for one didn't feel manipulated by it at all. I think it's exactly the state of mind that everyone found themselves in on that particular day -and it's how you feel. Devastated. In disbelief. To see the story - nearly a decade later was refreshing, honest and drives the Title point home. You do remember.)

Somehow, even though I knew it was coming I was still shocked and sad, but my biggest take away was that this is one of the few stories you didn't hear about that day. Heroes, all the players that you would assume were there, but not the sadder, more tragic cases of the people who were not suppose to be there - wrong place, very wrong time.

And I just really dug the realistic love story. When it's new and you're just feeling the first freedom of living away from your parents (or old enough to stay away), there are a lot of choices you make that escalate a relationship quickly. Especially when you are truly in love - I personally have forgiven much worse - besides - life is more of a gray area anyway. Who cares how two people meet. In the real world we don't punish people forever for random events or not giving full disclosure, and I like that. If you really love someone - you don't walk away. We're not all able to have these "rules" for ourselves like they do in the movies that make characters so rigid and black and white. The world is not black and white. And the world also should remember things.

Also worth checking it out: the amazing young actress who plays Caroline, the troubled and talented little sister to Pattinson's Tyler. She's a scene stealer and delivered one of the most authentic and interesting performances of the entire 1:53.
I like that it doesn't have a tidy ending, tidy relationships, or tidy beautiful sets. I also like that it made me remember not just a huge and tragic event, but also other memories, like young love, family crises and why we have to forgive - but not necessarily forget. It's a go see - but controversial and definitely getting a mixed bag of reviews. Just like real life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Took Pictures of Myself in a Swimsuit

They were not hot. And they were promptly deleted. (I would never post anything like that.)

Feeling good, losing weight and eating healthy are all wonderful - but don't turn you into Bar Whats-her-face overnight. But - is striving for that healthy?

I'm not what you'd call a "classic beauty", by Hollywood standards anyway. I don't have piercing blue eyes or thick hair. My lips are kind of thin. My skin is dry. My teeth are on the small side. I don't have high cheekbones or long eyelashes.

So...unless you're new to the blog, you know I've lost weight. (I mention it a lot - it's a form of accountability - I risk public humiliation if I regain it). I'm healthier, and so much happier. I have more confidence. But now - that the initial weight is gone - I'm frustrated because I can't seem to find satisfaction in healthy first, hot body second. I want both. And kind of the hot part more.

It's time for a reality check. Last night, as I was flipping around I landed on Jessica Simpson's interview on Oprah. For the record - I'm not a huge fan of either star, but this show was really interesting - and I have to admit I see JS in a new, more positive way.

Remember the "fat jeans"?

She's not fat, (said she's a size 4) she just chose an ugly outfit. Here's the thing, probably about 90% of women aged 16-50 working in Hollywood are size 0's, making the 4's of the world look larger. (Thankfully, in the robust Midwest of Chicago a size 4 = size 0, so at a size 8 or 10 I'm like a 4 or a 6.) But look at her. That's NOT fat. She's not a stick, but is a stick ideal?

Anyway, this was the outfit that put Ms. Simpson on the cover of every magazine from here to Timbuktu and pretty much changed her life and made her stronger. She was inspired to travel the world (entourage of BFF hair dude and BFF assistant in tow) and learn about beauty on a global scale. In France, the group met with an anorexic former model who was so delicate and sick it was shocking and absolutely heart-breaking. I was impressed that Jessica signed herself up for this. Her honesty and reaction to the situation was refreshing and authentic...overshadowing my previous take on her - a blonde bimbo who doesn't understand Chicken of the Sea.

So I was actually inspired to try to step back from aiming for perfection and try to find the things I do like - and work on focusing on them more.

And really - it all comes down to how you present yourself.

Things my mom taught me that help you look better no matter your size:
Just because it zips, doesn't mean it looks good.
Just because the color is pretty doesn't mean the cut is.
Just because dressing younger makes you feel younger doesn't mean it makes you look younger.
Just because you fit into clothes at Forever 21 doesn't mean you should shop there.
Never wear a wind suit. Ever.
Pastel colored suits are rarely a do...proceed with caution.
A little lipstick helps. Make that a new lipstick.
Just because it's the grocery store doesn't mean you shouldn't put on actual shoes, pants, bra.
Well-fitting undergarments are the foundation for success.
Red-heads go gray last, but when they do - they should either dye it, or move away for a year.
It's important to care what you look like, and important to "let go" of what you can't control.
(Thanks Mom)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Humans Weaker Than Ever. Survival? Not Likely.

Animal attacks.
Autism Explosion.
Peanut Allergies.
Pete Townsend's tinnitus.
Jay Leno's return to late night.
Pam Anderson on DWTS.

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel....like running away on an endless road trip with a carton of cigarettes, a case of Diet Mountain Dew and the Time Life Singers and Songwriters Collection.

I am nostalgic for simpler times, when we weren't all a bunch of pandered to pansies.
Like before there was a drug for absolutely every possible human function or disfunction - with a list of side effects far worse than "bloating, gassiness".

When a kid could bring some innocent (and delicious) peanut butter cookies with the fork grooves into his 3rd grade class for his birthday.

When earthquakes seemed far away, and therefore insignificant. Harder to ignore when they actually shift the earth's axis and shorten our days. Harder still when images of shattered lives invade every media orifice in our paths. Donate here for Haiti, here for Chile.

Tsunamis are no longer a surfers' paradise, they swallow entire towns and villages (or make for an interesting news day).

1 in 110 kids (1 in 70 for boys) is now considered autistic (whatever happened to "silly", "chatterbox", "shy", just plain "weird"? Are ALL of these diagnoses correct? If they are, then what the %$#@ is in the water? Is Jenny McCarthy right? Is it immunizations? Or just generations of incompetent teachers and counselors unable to identify autism?) Please throw $ and actual research at this problem, not just opinions.

Flu is no longer a week of feeling like crap, it's a Pandemic.

Wars in every corner of the world are either in progress, in recovery, in rehab, in denial.

Captive animals - possibly in response to earthquake vibrations they most likely sensed, even in the distance from Florida to Chile - killing the very people who dedicated their lives to them. Worse? Cokie Roberts on Meet the Press equating the attack, likely provoked by the happy bounce of the trainer's ponytail, to the rape of a woman "who was asking for it because she wore a short skirt." For the record, I don't think the "Killer" Whale deserves that comparison. Cokie, please don't paint this animal a villain when it is being forced to live in a completely unnatural habitat and made to dance for its dinner. Homework: Watch The Accused. Then Free Willy. Repeat.

So 2012 is the big year boys and girls, and evidence is piling up that there may in fact be some truth to an end of days.

So do we choose to continue to be fat, over-medicated, over-worked, over-wrought, over-communicative, hyper-sensitive, omni-allergic, dumbasses for the remainder of our days? Or can we toughen up a bit. Armegeddon certainly won't be easy on most of us...should we try to do things like we use to? A little less whining and a whole lot of sucking it up?

My mom use to say, if you're that sick, could you please die outside? One certain truth is that there will be an end of days for each of us.

Maybe that is where I'll be when the Earth tips off the mark. Outside, in my car, sun on my face, wind whipping through my hair, cruising down the PCH, smoking*, chugging the Diet** Dew and singing my head off to AM Gold. That's kinda tough.

*Mom - if it's the end of the world, I might smoke. **Still more afraid of gaining back that 30 lbs than dying.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time Managment Venn Diagram

Venn diagrams or set diagrams are diagrams that show all hypothetically possible logical relations between a finite collection of sets (groups of things). Venn diagrams were conceived around 1880 by John Venn. They are used to teach elementary set theory, as well as illustrate simple set relationships in probability, logic, statistics, linguistics and computer science.

Normal Person:
Just the right balance of work (A), personal life (B) and hobbies (C).

Michelle + 5 Clients + Writing a New Sketch Show + Grant Writing + Working Out + Rehearsal + Another Rehearsal + Husband + Pet:

Kind of looks like a lotus. Or a Turkey.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who Are We to Judge?

A Healthy Dose of Criticism is a Good Thing

Recently Patti LaBelle (known for her malleable hair), was in the news for stating that "some" people don't have the qualifications required to judge the contestants on American Idol.
She doesn't name names (fair enough). She also thinks many of the comments are too mean.

Now Patti isn't the only person saying stuff like this - I just couldn't resist the opportunity to remind everyone that the woman could rock her hair like a peacock, (that's what a "New Attitude" will do). Comments like this are funny to me for a few reasons. Lots of people have said that AI is "too mean" and that some judges, Ellen DeGeneres, in particular, doesn't have the cred to sit in judgement. But think about it. Consumers of downloads, CDs, etc., are for the most part "non-musicians". Doesn't that earn us a place at the table? We're going to end up being the judge anyway (AI is a contest and the general public is asked to vote, regardless of musical training or knowledge). We'll also eventually "vote" with our wallets.
And the claim that these judges say mean things pales in comparison to the painful realities of actual show business. One of the most valuable things a performer can receive (sometimes even more valuable than the opportunity itself) is ADVICE. AI is a lesson in how to handle this - and how to move forward.

At the age of 8 I was dancing with the Tennessee Ballet Company and believe me, even at that age, the real world doesn't pad criticism with any niceties. My German teacher explained to me after a particularly aggressive lashing regarding my turn out and posture (hot tears rolling down my cheeks) that I was lucky. The rest of the class was simply not even good enough to waste her time critiquing. That incident at such an early age prepared me (though, not always - sometimes it is chemistry) for dealing with criticism and direction. Personally, I judge the contestants on how well they receive and apply the valuable criticism they receive.

There are simple facts. Some people "have it", and some people don't. Doesn't matter how badly they "want it", they got to "have it" first. If we spoon feed all of the "have-nots" we'd have even more crap on the radio to listen to, and a lot fewer people waiting tables at restaurants. I wish they were even harsher. These people are performing live on television 2-3 nights a week, we should be asking ourselves are they worth it?

Shut It Spoil Sports!

Good grief. Is anyone else getting sick of Evgeni Plushenko? How about Katherine Heigl? What about the Canadian fans that were so rude they made a Danish curler cry?

Do any of these people, wait, scratch that, these people CLEARLY DON'T know how good they have it.

First up Plushenko. You are a very sore loser. You lost, now take some deep breaths and return to retirement. Did you watch your performance yet? Your jumps, although impressive attempts, were not landed perfectly and that, my commrade, is what it takes to win gold. You get points for difficulty, but you don't win when you aren't the best sweetie.
Your choreography was choppy, and frankly, you looked ridiculous. It reminded me of the awkward rock and roll routines of Viktor Petrenko - only without with the charm - and he lands his jumps. Please shut up and go away. I'm sure someone would be happy to buy your silver medal off eBay if you don't want to keep it, spoil sport.
Do you want to get some McDonalds?

Dearest Katherine. If Grey's Anatomy is such a crappy place to work, do yourself a favor and quit. Stop pussy-footing around it. Just quit. The "she might quit" rumors are tiresome, and nobody is watching anymore anyway! But as long as the show still airs, there are millions of actresses chomping at the bit for a chance (including me). Go do your horrible anti-feminist movies (so IRONIC Katherine, after your very public criticism of Knocked Up - the very vehicle that put you on the map).
No one likes it when a work colleague (try thinking of it that way sweetheart) takes time off to bond with baby (3 months), comes back to film a handful of episodes and then plans to leave again to film a movie. Then on top of everything you WILL NOT SHUT UP ABOUT THE HOURS. Last time I checked, a paycheck that looks like yours requires a lot beyond the typical 9-5.
Now, if you're so tired, go lay down and take a nap.

Hey Canadians - I didn't forget about you! I get it. You're super excited, eh, about curling and just being the Olympic host, eh? I get it. However - try educating yourself on proper spectator behavior for sports that may be new to you. I'd hate to see the wrath you'd get on a golf course with this type of rambunctious display. That said, I'm cutting you a break. After all, you did come up with "Eh, oh, Canada!" Which is just funny.
Sore-ee uh-boat -that Canada.

Plus - your Country has the most sportsmanlike and poised athlete at the Olympics.

In this Olympic season, can we all try to remember what we do have - and try to show some grace and poise under pressure. Case in point: Joannie Rochette. Her mom just died, and yet she only became more focused, more grateful for the opportunity, more appreciative of her fans and the gift she has. I bet you'd never hear her complaining about outcomes, hours or even raising her voice. If gold medals could be awarded for grace, Joannie would be at the top of the podium.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sun, sun, su-uuuhhh-un...Song Sell-Outs


Lately, as I listen to Pandora, reels of commercials get played inside my head alongside the music. Is there a song left that isn't shecking Toyota Prius, Wheat Thins, iAnything?

Remember when it was considered a faux pas to lend your artisitic creations to the "man"? It seems that there isn't a song on today that doesn't have an accompanying marketing message strolling through the sub-conscience of my mind.

Here is a list of songs playing this hour on Pandora and their accompanying ads:

5 Years Time (Noah and the Whale): Saturn Vue, SunChips, Ford Focus, Cheerios...
Somewhere Only We Know (Keane): Victoria's Secret; Many TV promos and Movie montages
Point of View (Ivy): Not this song, but practically every song off Apartment Life has been used.
Here's Where the Story Ends (The Sundays): Not this one, but Wild Horses sold Budweiser.
Karma Police (Radiohead): Only used in the documentary about them, Meeting People is Easy.
There She Goes (Sixpense None the Richer) [Thumbs down]: Parent Trap, Girl, Interrupted...
We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye (Toni Price): Nothing. Classy!
Portrait of an Artist (Lizzie West): Not this, but a killer version of Chariots Rise in Secretary.
Island in the Sun (Weezer): Beaches Family Resorts and crappy movies.
Falling (Ben Kweller): Natch! Only an episode of Austin City Limits.

It's not that I'm against anyone marketing themselves (I Read Michelle's Blog!), I just think it's kinda sad that the first time I hear songs, it's not often a radio DJ introducing it, MTV, or a weekend hit show. It's usually a commercial.

But then again, radio is not what it use to be. Check out my buddy's blog on the subject - specifically, Songs WXRT Should Stop Playing.


Monday, February 22, 2010

40 Drinks in 40 Days - My Lenten Challenge

So - you can tackle Lent many ways. Give up stuff. Do stuff. Give stuff. Ignore stuff. Or any combination of these things.

This year, Rob and I are trying "40 Drinks in 40 Days". That is the total number of alcoholic beverages we can consume over the Lenten season. My mother is reading this and judging us. But, I would like to point out that St. Patrick's Day falls during this time period, and in Chicago, it is an all day sporting event.

Since last Wednesday I have had one Dark and Stormy (Friday), one beer (@ Wilde Pug for Mickey's birthday - you have to buy something to hang out with your dog there for an extended period of time) and one glass of wine (Saturday night dinner). See how this works?

This weekend should be challenging because we have 2 events 1) a Bull's game (don't think I'll have more than two there...are you aware of the ridiculous cost of a Miller Lite at any professional sporting event?) 2) a good friends' homecoming party. He was halfway around the world. That is a 5 drink allotment, minimum.

We actually have a tally sheet on our fridge:

And less than a week in, we've already found ways to "cheat". Order doubles. Order "Ladies" drinks. Order "talls". Select "Large Format" beers. If you drink wine, get someone to refill the glass before it is empty, that is still one drink. Yeah, I know - kind of lame that we're not really trying to challenge ourselves that much.

But it is interesting to actually keep tabs on consumption of any kind. As Americans we're not just known for our loud patriotic cheering, we're also known for our fat asses. I for one am tired of having one of those - and have been paying close attention to what I eat, and now what I drink.

I'll keep you posted, one drink at a time.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring Fever!

Anybody else catch the fever yet?

When the weather starts to turn (even from the 20's to the balmy 30's) I just can't concentrate.

Spring means shedding all of these layers of clothing. Finally getting all that Vitamin D I've been missing. People crawling out of their winter dens and slowly making their way to the lakefront for some spring exercise and fresh air.

Summer plans begin to take shape. Lollapalooza rumors start spreading. Summer shows begin rehearsals. Catchers and pitchers report to camp. March Madness brackets come together. The freezer has been emptied - whether through consumption or boredom - chili, soup and stew no longer sound good. Bright cotton tees and dresses push out drab gray sweaters and coats, marked down embarrasingly cheap - they were never cozy enough.

And of course a renewal of interest in the opposite sex (or if you don't roll that way, your preferred sex). Doesn't matter if you're married, taken, spoken for, betrothed or anything else, spring awakens so much more than the tiny buds in the trees gawking anxiously outside your frosty windows.

I have always had a bad case of spring fever boy crazies. Luckily my husband finds this somewhat endearing. It's probably because the feeling is infectious. Look around and notice that people start smiling a little more. Are just a tad more engaging on trains, at bus stations, just walking around. I just notice people more. It's funny how we all fade into the background underneath our scarves and hats and gloves. Our hunkered postures and harried pursuit of indoor shelter from the cold deny any time for niceties. Dude, get outta my way, it's freezing!

But as soon as we begin to shed these layers, everything really does seem new again. How is it that we forget every year? That people are beautiful to watch. That nature is breathtakingly resilient. That it feels good to be noticed. Knowing you are alive and feeling alive is at once both comforting and exhilarating.

The collective restlessness is palpable. Do you feel it? Not yet? Well it is still just February. Perhaps I've caught the fever early. I smile in your general direction.

And thanks for reading! If you're digging it, please follow it. You can follow me on Twitter too (#michelletweet).


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How I Stay Motivated

Eating healthy and exercising daily can be a challenge. I have come up with a few ways to keep myself motivated. Here's a few of them - all pics taken during yesterday's work out.
Keep goals (whatever they may be) in PLAIN sight:

The straight ahead view from the elliptical. A dress that looks good, but I can't sit in it comfortably yet, and obviously, a swimsuit.
Keep the tools you need close at hand - all the time! For me, this means my journal, water, weights, calculator - all in reach from the elliptical.

The journal is where I keep each workout's goals (ex. 3 sessions, burning calories in increments of 300, 275, 250), daily calorie counts up until the workout time (breakfast toast 80, PB 70, soup 80, carrots 25, laughing cow 35, almonds 35, etc.). This has been a good reference for tracking what's working best - it also is a nice way to challenge myself. If I don't meet a goal I give myself a check minus - which I really hate. I also come up with some of my best sketch ideas, song lyrics, and other stuff during workouts, so I write them all in that little journal too.
The timer and session summary are my lifeline.

And of course - everyone needs a secret weapon. Mine happens to be a magazine basket that has an old Vanity Fair with a layout of Robert Pattinson in it. I just happened to notice that if he's visible, I work a lot harder!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making Yourself Productive Anywhere

Tips and Tricks for Creating a Work Space Anywhere

Today's Office Space:

Window (natch). End stool (double natch). Far from door (triple natch).

I have become very good at creating a mobile office for myself wherever I have to...I have a nice space at home, however it is too close in proximity to a nocturnally scheduled spouse, and sometimes I have to interface with clients by phone. So I typically work in the large overstuffed chair under a large bay window in our living room. The broad armrests serve as a perfect desk and lunch tray.

Today, our housekeeper Helena is working so I have been ousted from my normal place. This means an earlier start to the day, and wearing actual clothes. Not workout/pj hybrids. It also usually means heightened productivity. (I think it's because people are watching.)

It also means packing up all the things I need to serve four different clients into one bag (there is no guarantee that I'll have more than the room under my chair to stow it once I'm settled in). Luckily, most of the information I need for them is online somewhere or in email trails and other project notes.

Some advice on working mobiley:

1) You want to go somewhere with a clean bathroom. (Your own house is #1 - hopefully, if not I can give you Helena's number - but coffeehouses aren't all created equally when it comes to cleanliness and usage. Read: Homeless people.) This is a necessity because in order to justify four+ hours of loitering, you must nurse at least two coffees, or a huge coffee and a breakfast item, or breakfast and an overpriced juice.

2) Go ahead and pay for the secure wi-fi. Stealing, or hooking into a free one is a security faux pas and also provides shotty performance. Unlike at home where a brief interruption can give you a few seconds to throw clothes in the dryer or unload the dishwasher...at a mobile location it's just lost time.

3) You want a view that is better than one you have at home. The sky is the limit. There are countless lunch counters in the city located far above ground with panoramic views of the gorgeous skyline and the lake. But for me, my local coffee house suffices. This is too easy for me as we live in a garden unit, and although we look out to a pretty yard, my chair is actually under the window, and I have more of a Laverne & Shirley view from there.
Better View.

4) Bring only what you need, but make a list to make sure you have everything. Once you're settled in and have nabbed a good spot - you really can't leave and come back. Also, once you've paid your $3.99 for wi-fi, you don't want to disconnect.

5) Be overly nice to the employees. You are in their house. Don't spread out too much, don't hog too many outlets or chairs. Don't inconvenience other customers...because this inconveniences the folks that are turning their heads to your loitering.

6) Don't go anywhere too child friendly. Kids that are not in school are not usually very well-behaved yet. They are disruptive, don't care that you are trying to earn a living, and in general, noisy and sticky. Don't let them anywhere near your space.

7) Don't go where all the other "writers" go. It's like being a living Mad Lib. Writers write about their environment and what they see in front of them. Unless you want to be the subject of an ugly blog about people who write nasty things about children, go somewhere with more neutral clientele.

8) Avoid any place too close to train tracks. Obviously, trains are noisy, however I find them quite romantic and inspiring. You really do get use to the noise. I'm referring to the constant flow of traffic into the shop every time the train stops. New people entering coffee shops and restaurants tend to be loud until they assimilate to the vibe that has been so carefully crafted by the current patrons.

9) Go somewhere that changes up the music a lot. I love the barista here because he has great music taste and an uncanny ability to get a feel for the vibe of the customer taste and very subtly conducts the morning to a great soundtrack. It flows from songs that snap you right out of your work and give you that 2 minute respite which reinvigorates your creativity, to soothing but bland white noise. Today I've heard Train in Vain, some Duffy, some Van and a little Tragically Hip. I still listen to my Pandora real low, just to help drown out the loudest customers of all...Chicago's Finest. The police.

10) Which brings me to my final tip. Go to shops with lots of cops. It's safer. If you do have to go to the bathroom, go when the shop is full of cops. Your laptop is much less likely to get swiped then - you may even be able to leave it where it is with a sweet nod to them, your space, the bathroom door. Usually they are happy to assist with a lookout.

Have a great work day - whether you're in Cubeland or beyond...

QUICK UPDATE: There is nothing more awkward then coming home and your cleaning lady is not done yet and you can't go anywhere because you're waiting for a business call and she is grunting and huffing and puffing and you can't go into the back bedroom because your husband is asleep and you can't go back to the coffee shop because you already spent 5 hours there...


Friday, February 12, 2010

We have a delivery for you in the lobby...or not.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Or Hallmark Holiday!

Or Make Him Do Something that Says We Do More Than Hook Up Day!

Or Let's Have to Come Up with Some Anti-Love Sentiment to Cover Up that We're Pretty Pissed to Be Alone ANOTHER Valentine's Day.

Or You Really Like Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day!

At least as adults, we can tie one on regardless of our thoughts on the holiday. I have to admit, I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a nice husband who gets the memo regarding gifts and no I never get stuck with whatever Kay Jewelers is shoving down our collective throats. "Journey Pendant", Jane Seymour's "Hearts", or whatever that thing that looks like equestrian equipment with the creepy thunderstorm commercial - "I"ll never let go of you". I can usually expect a little something, thoughtful. I'm lucky now...however it certainly wasn't always that way.

Both the junior high and high school I attended took Valentine's Day as a serious fundraising opportunity. They pushed molded chocolate roses, cheaply made plastic hearts that play Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and hot-pink dyed Carnations. Making sure to drive home the need to have a "special someone" very early in every Warrior's life. Oh, how I coveted those girls called to the office or the front of the room to pick up their tacky trinkets. I was never called.

Valentine's Day became such a huge popularity contest. The popular pretty girls would literally be carrying crap around in garbage bags. Somewhere around Jr. High (when I learned I should probably lie about the balloon bouquet and bear my Dad - c/o Mom - sent me and say it was someone from a nearby town), I was on my own for V-Day. Sure, I had the occasional sweet friend who sent everybody one of the carnations - but the boys...not so much. I once found myself with a boyfriend in high school on 2/14 who gave me perfume and took me out to dinner which was nice - but he was older and didn't go to my school, so nobody really knew about it. I was so sad that no one would see that I actually did have an interested party, that I packed that perfume and card when I went on a ski trip that weekend. (Not exactly the best idea. Ski equipment + cranky bus driver + 50 overzealous youth groupers = one very sweet smelling duffel bag.)

I never got flowers from a boy (except for corsages for dances) until I was in college. And then, they were usually picked along a highway or from a drug store.

Then, when I was 23, I met my husband, and I think he sent me flowers like once a week for months. I was fully getting more than my payback for the humiliating and empty-handed walk to the bus I did every Valentine's Day for years. It was almost embarrassing though, such a showy display of affection...but still, I always remembered how bad it was on Valentine's Day when I was a teenager, and how I felt left out, undesirable, dorky, immature, and somehow less than, so the flowers were always appreciated.

It's a shame that a holiday could make one group of people feel alienated, ashamed, pressured and another feel like they are floating on air. No matter which side of the line you're on, just have a good weekend. Hey, it's President's Day too - most of us won't get anything for that one!