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 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'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. 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 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.