Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 really was great

I loathe looking backward. I know there's learning to be done, but honestly, rehashing what I should've done in one situation that I can't change instead of applying what I learned to a situation that I can change just doesn't interest me. I learned that a long time ago as I used to stress so much about the decisions that I make.

Back in high school, I was so stressed trying to choose the right classes that I thought would dictate the perfect future, that I lost hair over it. Literally. Big bald patch right where my spine met my skull. Cost her $300 each session for four sessions and me the pain of having tiny cortisone injections in my head for the hair to grow back. After that, when I'd stress about having to plan a National Honor Society Charity Basketball game or taking a Calculus test, my mom would sit me on the couch, put her arms around me and say "There are very few decisions we make in life that can't be undone. Go with your gut and we can handle what happens from there." I would take a deep breath and as I visibly relaxed in her arms, she'd whisper "Besides, I can't afford for you to lose any more hair." Then we'd laugh.

So, while I can't change all my decisions, I've tried to worry less about them and just make them as they come. 2008 brought plenty of decisions for me to make and as I look back, I've been happy with them all.

Here are some things that I'm especially thankful for in 2008:
  • I continued a healthy lifestyle (as I get ready to chow down on a wonderful filet that Chef is preparing as I type)
  • lost more than 60 pounds and weigh less than I ever have as an adult
  • continued to write and am close to finishing a rough draft for a novel
  • gained great new friends and established stronger bonds with old ones
  • worked hard to finally meet my potential at my job, which I adore
  • opened my home and heart to three new pets and then thought "Why haven't I had pets for the last few years??? What was I waiting for??"
  • survived and will continue to bear the burden of a weak IU basketball (and football, but does that really count?) team that will begin what I am sure is at least three years of taking on the Cubs mantra "There's always next year"
  • that I actually like exercise and even more now that I've got a Wii fit
  • I am finally turning 30, so that when people try to dismiss me as "too young" I can look at them and say "I'm not as young as I look. I'm in my 30s."
  • However, I am forever thankful for my gene pool which, if my aging process holds to my mom and dad's, will have me looking younger than my age for decades to come
Thank you to everyone who was a integral part of my great 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cash or Credit?

This time of year I almost always start digging in my purse before I get out of the car. I hear the signature bell of a cold holiday worker saying hi as people try not to make eye contact. I almost always search for whatever change or cash I have to stuff some into the kettle. Call it Christmas Karma or the fact that I remember more than one Christmas where my mom made my brother and I pick out Christmas gifts for a less fortunate family. Whatever the reason, I always like to toss some change in the bucket.

However, in the last couple of years, I've begun to notice something. I don't carry cash and rarely do I have any change except for the odd penny that's been tossed in my ash tray because I can't find any other use for it. Anything that I need can be bought with my debit card.

Lately I've come to notice that I'm not unusual. Most people don't carry a lot, if any, cash. So, how does that affect donations? Apparently it made them go down enough that the Salvation Army is testing using credit card donations at some locations this year. They're also doing a texting donation pilot as well.

It's weird to think of how things we get used to have a trickle-down effect on other aspects we never think about.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What I would Rather Be Doing Today

I'm sitting here for the last 10 minutes of work with about 40 minutes of actual work to finish and instead of getting a crack at it or even caring, I've decided to blog and then leave the 40 minutes for me to do when I get back in January. That's right. January.

Today was a day when I labored through the "important" deadline driven items to make it to the holiday potluck (I made the aforementioned Parmesan Herb Bread). Then I came back in, got on a conference call, did work, met with a volunteer for an hour and tried to get the last three items on my TO DO list done before 5. I got the last two done and realized it was decision time. Be late getting home and finish up or write this blog. I think the decision is clear.

Here are things that I would've rather been doing than working today:
  • sleeping in with Chef and the three cats--okay let's be honest, nearly anything involving Chef and the cats
  • watching reruns of 90210 and The OC on Soapnet
  • Shopping for Christmas presents as I only have one bought right now
  • reading reading reading
  • eating Parmesan Herb bread (which I'm doing now anyway)
  • talking with my friends

Well, it's 5 p.m. now so I'm heading out. Wooo hooo for holidays!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Damn you, Heath Ledger

Am I the only one that can't watch The Dark Knight too many times? I don't know why, but I was drawn to seeing it in the theater. Well, I do know why. Despite his odd mouth, I was drawn to Christian Bale as Batman. Skeptical of Chris Nolan and the new "darker vision" of Batman from Batman Begins, I was hooked.

Batman Begins was intriguing and new and actually had an interesting story. Let's face it. Batman does the best when Bruce Wayne is developed. Not when Batman is the focus. That's why Michael Keaton's first one was a hit and why the spandex-clad, nipple showing versions were crap.

Ready for another dose, I was a little hesitant and having a hard time believing Heath Ledger could pull off a Joker like Jack Nicholson. Boy was I wrong. His portrayal makes Nicholson's turn look like a bad imitation. We left the theater and Chef turned to me and said "Damn you, Heath Ledger!! Damn you for overdosing." It was the highest compliment he could give the guy at the time and I was in full agreement.

Since it came out on video, we've rented it from red box once (bless you $1 movie rentals!) and every morning on my walk, I have to resist the urge to pop in Harris Teeter and rent it again. I hope Chris Nolan can write another one. I hope that Christian Bale's voice doesn't give out from being so badly gravelly when he speaks as Batman. I hope that they can figure out a way for Aaron Eckhart to come back as Two Face. I hope that we can get a better Vicki Vale than Kim Basinger.

I hope for so many things. Mostly because they've met all my hopes so far. My next hope is that awards voters can get over themselves and their "serious" craft to recognize The Dark Knight and it's stellar combination of talent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Locked My Cat in The Closet

This morning has not started off as well as I'd hoped. I got up and went for a run, which was nice and quiet. The ice had a lot of local schools closed and the cold left the sidewalks empty. Although I promote health for a living, when it comes to a bunch a people clogging up my sidewalks, I become quite selfish.

So after this start, I went back in and got ready for work knowing that I had a little more time than normal to get ready as I had a doctors appointment that I was heading to instead of going straight to the office. Of course, I quite appropriately used this time to play with our new cats. Yes, that's cats, as in plural and in addition to our previous kitten. We were able to adopt additional pixie bobs to play with Genghis and add to our cat army. One of the cats (Attila) snuck into the closet as I was turned around and I shut the door without knowing. That's one thing about cats. They're stealthy. But nonetheless I'm carrying cat guilt.

Then I felt guilty because I feel asleep with the big TV on and watching ESPN. Love learning my sporting news while subconcious, but hate that the "ESPN Bottom Line" logo got burned onto the plasma TV. Chef says it's better now, but I was feeling guilty and sad about that.

I guess my life can't be too bad when I'm feeling bad because I have animals, electricity and technology in my life. Damn, sometimes I sound so ungrateful.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Okay, Illini, You make me nervous

Half of my family spent the majority of their formative years living in Illinois. The other half spent their formative years a few miles away in Indiana. What worries me isn't anything personal to any one person. Rather the aggregate.

How do you select your governors? Is it by blind luck? How can one state (aside from New York, perhaps) have such as consistent record of choosing corrupt politicians? Gov. Rod Blagojevich refuses to step down from his post as head of the state, despite strong allegations of trying to sell President Elect Obama's vacated senate seat.

How much balls does it take for a Governor to sell a Senate seat vacated--not by a death for a legislator or by someone disgraced out of office. By a PRESIDENT ELECT!! Did he think no one would notice? How much of an egomaniac do you have to be to think that you can get away with that? The answer: Blagojevich-ly egomaniacal.

For a state the is filled with relatively nice, normal, good valued people, they seem to band together towards the weirdest choices. Since 4 of the last 8 governors have been indicted, can we take away an electoral college vote or something? Can't we penalize a state or an aggregate for poor decisions? I know that coming up with a standard to judge this sort of thing would be hot button, but why now lay our trust in the three branches of government and say that indictment is enough to back up a claim. I'm just saying.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stress-free Holiday

In years past, I've tried to force myself to feel the Christmas spirit. Wrapped presents, put out some sort of decorations, sent out cards, baked. All the usual things to make it feel like a holiday. Maybe it's the constant barrage of bad economic news, the suddenly cold and wet weather or just my scrooge-like nature that's coming out, but this year, I'm just not up for it.

I will take part in the usual fare: assorted Christmas parties (but I refuse to agonize over a Dirty Santa present to end up with angel print socks), the family gift exchange (although I am not going to agonize too much over gifts and end up spending more to make it look better), Christmas cards (e-cards this year are my saving grace), and the occasional baked good (Parmesan Herb bread for the annual work pot luck).

However, I've also resigned myself to breaking bad habits. This year, I will not:
  • Be guilted into travelling 600 miles more than usual to see my cousin's great aunt's gall bladder surgery. I will be there for the important things, but I'm learning to draw the line this year.
  • Let anyone else spoil the time I am spending with my family.
  • Take things too seriously. Traditions are nice and there are some to hang on to for dear life, but not everything is a tradition. This year I'm giving myself permission to ditch the tradition.
  • Run to 500 stores to pick something up because I'm afraid to give someone something from Target. I love Target and if that's where I find your gift, that's where I'm getting it.
  • Judge my popularity, self-worth or love by how many Christmas cards I get.
  • Treat Chef as a visitor to my family, but as he truly is: my family. We are both visitors up north.

Those are my Christmas season pledges. We'll see how many I actually keep. Hopefully all of them. Every time I start to feel scrooge-like I remember that kids get 60% more toys than they expect. So the world can't be doing too badly.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Best. Pet. Ever.

Apparently I'm getting to end up bragging about the best pet ever at least once a month from now on. If you read this blog, you're going to have to deal with it because Genghis rocks.

He is now a monster kitty, at least in all ways that are good. He's gained about 2 pounds a month since we got him, but I'm attributing that to Chef's diligence to the BARF diet. Not only has he gained weight, but his coat is so smooth and luxurious that I know Cruella de Ville would have made a coat out of him. And his poops no longer make Patrick's friend feel like they're "chewing on a turd" when he uses his litter box.

Chef even started on this without me knowing. I wasn't super excited about my pet eating raw food. Considering I can't even cut raw chicken because it makes me feel like I'm sawing through human flesh, it goes without saying that Chef has handled most of the food prep.

Anyway, our loving bundle of feline cuddles has taken to sitting on our chests and purring as we stroke him. It's precious. His demeanor and perfectness has us wondering if we can expand our household by two more kittens. Maybe not now, but I see more bundles of fur in our future.


Genghis when we first got him (Oct. 2008)













Genghis Now (Nov 2008)- see how big he's gotten? And he's gained about 2 lbs. since this!
















Genghis Now (dec 08) with the two extra pounds

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Struggling with the Four Food Groups

I'm trying with or without success to get back on the bandwagon to healthy eating. I'm still working out and running/ walking twice a day, but I'm back sliding on what I eat. Today, was no exception.

I started out with oatmeal and ended up with pizza. Free pizza to be exact. Two words that I can't seem to resist. Free delicious pizza on a day when I had exactly three minutes to shove food down my gullet between meetings and deadlines.

As I was molesting the pepperoni off a slice, I thought back to when my mom used to argue with me about my diet. I had a junk food habit and despite being active in up to three sports a year, I was still overweight. As a grade schooler, I used to argue with her that pizza was a great way to get all four food groups in at the same time. The crust provided grains, the cheese dairy, the pepperoni provided meat and the sauce vegetables. And if you had mushrooms, pineapple or anything else that didn't have eyes at one time, then that was a bonus.

She didn't buy it then and I'm not really buying it now. But tomorrow is another day and there's little chance that free pizza will make its way into my life two days in a row.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Time to Play Find the Saltine Again!!

Last year I was very disappointed when NBC canceled Scrubs. And then even more disappointed when the writers strike rushed their swan song on the network. The end was a very crappy fable ending that was sucktacular. JD, Turk, Carla, Elliot, Dr. Cox and the gang deserved better.

So I was super-happy to hear that ABC picked up the show for mid-season!! In a mere month, Scrubs will premiere on my new favorite network. January 6th- mark your calendars. The first episodes have Courtney Cox playing the new chief of medicine. I'm so hyped.

Not only that, but last season left us wondering "will they or won't they" finally hook up with JD and Elliott. And seriously, can you ever say goodbye to the Bromance that is JD and Turk? I just want to buy a stuffed dog, paint a Transformers mural on the wall, get matching walkie talkie watches and ride in a scooter gang just in anticipation.

Zoom zoom zoom, bitches.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another Patrick Swayze Christmas

Patrick Swayze isn't dying. He's got pancreatic cancer which has about a 91% death rate for cancers, but he isn't one of them. He is, however, pissed that the tabloids say he's dying.

Have you seen Patrick Swayze lately? Even before the cancer, he wasn't looking so hot. I'm glad that he's doing well, because so many people don't, but when was the last time you thought about Patrick Swayze without being prompted by a Dirty Dancing or Ghost showing on AMC?

We used to think about Patrick Swayze a lot. (We being my weird ass friends and me). In fact, we thought about him so much when I was in high school that a friend of mine decided to throw a "Patrick Swayze Christmas." The friend was a straight male and I think the party theme was dictated more by access to a lifesize Patrick Swayze cut out than anything else, but still, to this day, it was one of the best parties I've ever been to.

Aside from the obligatory copious amounts of alcohol, there was Patrick Swayze movies playing and a karaoke contest. The winner of the contest was supposed to get a satin jacket with a parrot singing into a microphone screen printed on the back. Second place was a jar of "Chicken Tonight!". However, the jacket ended up in my friend Amanda's car when no one was looking and since then, we haven't been able to track its whereabouts specifically.

Some of the events might have occurred at the Kenny Roger's You Got To Know When to Hold 'Em Saint Valentine's Day Dance, but either way, it was a good time.

So as you're wrapping up your $15 Dirty Santa gift for a holiday party, may I suggest that next year you just ask everyone to bring $15 worth of alcohol and their favorite Patrick Swayze movie. Black Dog, Road House, any one will do. Make it a Patrick Swayze Christmas.

Monday, December 01, 2008

She did it again. . .or did she?

I admit it. I watched the Britney Spears "documentary" last night. I spent the whole time alternating between feeling sorry for her, feeling like she's saying what she thinks she's supposed to say and being horrified at Madonna's bad face lift.

Honestly, I don't know how much we can trust a documentary that promises to "ask all the questions" you've been dying to know. You can't call it misleading because they didn't say she'd actually answer them. However, they cleverly never delved into her sister's unexpected pregnancy, the whole debacle with her mom and anything to do with the custody battle going on for her kids.

I felt sad watching her get shuttled from one photo shoot or video or appearance to another and then hearing her say that she has to always act happy because it's better than the alternative. (Which I guess is shaving your head and attacking a paparazzi car with an umbrella). I felt sad when she said that when she loves someone she wants to be around them all the time and feel good by being near them. Wow. That's co-dependency. Learn to love being around yourself first.

Mostly she talked about her upcoming album (which hits stores tomorrow-what a coincidence?) and how she felt like she was right back doing what she belonged to do. However, when the most touching testimonial in the documentary comes from her choreographer, that's not a good sign.

And lastly, the Madonna factor. No one even mentioned in the documentary that Justin performed at the Madonna concert that Britney was at. The world wants to know what she was thinking about him being there and if she was pissed about Madonna setting it up like that. We don't care if Madonna has maternal instincts toward Britney. It was nice of Madonna to say that and then for the filmmakers to cut to an awkward Madonna chatting about how she wanted to cancel the show, then cutting back to a very overly lit and pulled taut face of Madonna yammering about Britney finding herself. Really? Two husbands, three kids and adulterous scandal helped you find yourself Madonna?

I love Britney. I have to admit it even though I'm too old for it. I love to bob my head to her songs. I just hope that before she goes on TV again to explain her feelings that Britney has chance to understand them herself.

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