Monday, August 31, 2009

One Reason I'm Glad That Summer's Almost Over

I think most of you know that I'm an avid sports fan. That being said I multitask each morning by watching Mike & Mike on ESPN 2 while I get ready. While Mike & Mike rocks, it puts me in a demographic to watch stupid life jacket PSAs every morning. Look, I get and understand the importance of wearing a life jacket. I just don't need a teenager preaching to me at 7 in the morning. Especially not one that's about 3 feet tall.

So while I don't look forward to cold weather, I am ready for the Wear It Tennessee! commercials to come to an end.

Check it out and give me your opinon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I Learned from Last Night's Keith Urban Concert

Last night I went to the Sugarland/ Keith Urban concert at the Sommet Center. I'm not a live music person which is sacrilege in Nashville, but the ticket was free, in a suite, and the company promised to be fun as well. Besides, there's no better place to country music, pop country or old school, than in the town that celebrates it in its every boot scuff and lilting twang accent.

It was a good show. Anyone that can play for two hours with but a minute or two break is truly earning some money. It was entertaining for sure, but I'd have say that I dig Sugarland a little more than Keith Urban. Plus I was resentful that he didn't even mention Nicole Kidman at all.

That being said, here are some things I noticed:
  • Every woman there--from the young to the more mature--was dressing as if they expected Keith to see them and instantly know he was meant for them. Which is a little bewildering when he has a notoriously famous and beautiful wife who bore him a child. And little creepy when you consider that if you brought a recovering coke addict accountant home, your family wouldn't have a great response, but Keith Urban-hell yeah.
  • To have be a hit in country music, you must have at least one song in your catalog about skipping work and staying in bed with your lover. It's obligatory. People eat that shit up.
  • Guitarists truly are enamored with having something large come from their crotch. Keith Urban is a HELL of a guitarist. More than I've probably ever taken the time to notice or give credit for. However, one hazards to guess that those calluses don't come solely from his pickin' if you know what I mean.
  • Are the expectations of a country love song a little out of reach with reality? I mean if Chef started spewing some of the things that are in these lyrics, I think I'd have a hard time taking him seriously. Also, it made me think Keith Urban was a little but of a pussy. I'm just saying.
  • The older I get, the more curmudgeonly I get and think that I'm turning into my father (not that that's entirely a bad thing). I found myself thinking "Stop letting the crowd sing. If I wanted to hear that, I'd step down to the karaoke bar and listen to these drunk bastards later tonight." and the classic "Why are you singing someone else's songs? I didn't come to hear someone else. I came to hear you sing YOUR songs."
Overall, it was a good night with great company and what I needed. Now I need a lazy day and some additional grocery shopping.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dreaming of Mike Rowe

Last night was repeated proof that I watch too much Dateline and 48 Hours and other related news murder mystery shows. I fell asleep with a Dateline on about a swindling Indianapolis man (Purdue graduate, of course) who faked his own death to avoid creditors. However, my subconscious took me in another more pleasant direction.

I was dreaming of trying to hook my girlfriend (Amanda, shout out to you) up with my ex-boyfriend, who just happened to be Mike Rowe. For those of you not familiar, he's from the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs and those Ford Commercials (see picture below). However, instead of him hooking up with her, we ended up back together. He got down on his knee to propose just as he got a phone call. The phone call lead to a helicopter taking him away.

Just as I was wondering what was going on, Amanda explained to me that Mike's first wife had disappeared 10 years ago from "Indianapolis County, FL" ( I even saw a map in my head like it was on Dateline) and that they just had a lead on her whereabouts. "How could you have dated him before and not know that?" Amanda asked me in my REM state.

Then I woke up.

While any dream with Mike Rowe is a step in a positive direction, I think I still prefer dreaming about my mom.
The object of my subconscious affections, Mike Rowe

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rainy Day Matches My Mood

There are very few mornings when I wake up and it's raining and I think "That's perfect." Mostly because I run outside in the mornings and while I don't mind running in a light drizzle, a hard rain is not ideal for keeping my feet dry.

However, this morning the rain was perfect. It felt like Mother Nature was empathizing with me. And let me be quite honest, nothing horrible is going on in my life. No one died. No one has cancer. It's nothing life-shattering. It's just not been a good week. Personally and professionally frustrating. Things had been going so smoothly that I knew I was due, but I didn't expect it all at once.

That being said, I'm taking the afternoon off to work out, grocery shop, and lounge on the couch with Chef and the cats. No work for me. And hopefully by tomorrow's Keith Urban/ Sugarland concert, I'll be in a better state of mind. And no, I'm not a country music fan--Nashville still hasn't gotten me yet. However, when you have the opportunity to see a concert for free in a corporate suite and have cocktails with an interesting and fun group of ladies, you're a fool to pass it up. And while I'm a fool in many other ways, passing up fun is not one of those ways.

In the mean time, here are some things to help cheer me up:
  • From my genius doctor friend in response to losing the contest: "Men are genetically programmed to lose more weight. It's innate. Men were hunters (need to be lean and mobile) and women were gatherers and child bearers. Chef should not be so smug--his chromosomes most likely did most of the metabolic work. "
  • Chef made the most delicious steak I've ever eaten last night. Center cut filet with a beautiful wine sauce and seared to perfection. It melted in my mouth. Paired it with some red wine and McDonald's french fries. Told you I was taking a few meals off!
  • Avocados. I love them. I love guacamole and if you cut up corn tortillas and bake them, they are a perfect low-cal treat for my guacamole addiction. The thought is helping me make it through the day.
  • And while I'm still food-centric, despite my mood, I ran this morning and am planning to go to the gym before I go home, so I consider that a step in the right direction.
  • I have two books waiting for me. One to finish and one to begin. Both of which promise hilarity in either being so bad they're funny or so funny they're funny. Either way, I win.

See? Even sad I count my blessings, so I can't be that bad, right?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And The Winner Is. . .

NOT ME!!! After weeks of exercise and watching what I ate to heathfully lose weight, I am proud to say that I'm down a total of 19 pounds. Only 15 of which counted for the Biggest Loser contest between me and Chef.

However, 15 was not enough because Chef lost 18 pounds. He beat me by a mere 1.5 pounds or so. And while I can stomach losing (barely), it's the way I lost that I'm having trouble with.

Chef was behind by more than 7 pounds last week and in his final home stretch effort to shed "weight" he pulled a move of high school wrestlers and cut water weight. In fact, he fasted for the last three days of the contest and didn't DRINK ANYTHING. If he ends up with any kind of health problems because of that, he's paying for it out of his winnings. I'm gonna be like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Farifax Avenue and DENY his claim.

I am pissed. Mostly because he did do some things that are actual healthy habits, but that weight loss didn't beat me by itself. He's started walking/ jogging lately. In fact, at the end he was walking/jogging (aka wogging) for about 5 miles at a time. Impressive from a dude that worked up a sweat walking to get the mail. And the big thing is that he quit smoking. Which is HUGE! The savings we'll have from that will (eventually) more than pay for his prize. Lastly, he stopped eating Nutty Bars three times a day and for the last couple of weeks has shown more willpower than most people I know. If only he had done that the WHOLE TIME.

However, if anyone wants to contribute to the "Ashley Should Have Won Because Chef is A Cheater" Fund, please feel free to put your check in the mail. I deserve it.

That being said. It's on to the next challenge. Working with an office buddy to hold each other accountable for getting off the last 20 pounds. But I'm going to wait until Monday to really start. Until then, Chef is cooking steak for us and I'm hitting a cocktail.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Things I'm Not Very Good At

Recently I took a personality assessment test and found out that I'm not a big fan at concentrating on my weaknesses. I knew that already in the reluctance at which I do formalized performance reviews and in throwing away recipes that I've messed up. Typically I'm already sizing up failure and opportunity during the project so I have a handle on what to repeat and what to let die. However, in honor of my annual performance review, I have started thinking about things that I'm not very good at. Here's the beginning of what could take volumes to fill:
  • Letting things die a respectful death. Typically I'm like the EMS called on to the scene of a dead patient, but legally obligated to try some resuscitation methods --not matter how fruitless the attempts.
  • Hula Hoop. The only Hula Hoop I can do is one the Wii because it doesn't instantly slide down my flat hips.
  • Telling succinct stories in my personal life. I tend to take the listeners down, around and directly through the entire path that my train of thought traveled to get you to the answer you wanted 5 minutes before.
  • Putting down a book I've started reading and didn't like. Once I'm in, I tend to keep reading even if I get more disgusted with the story on each passing page.
  • Leaving food on my plate. If it's on there, I'm eating it. And if it's in front of me, it's most likely going to be consumed. Once the jaws have opened, they're like Pac-man. They don't like to stop unless the board is cleared or a ghost blocks their path.
  • Improvising on recipes unless it's by adding copious amounts of butter, sugar and/ or cheese.
  • Being self-less. About 90 percent or more of my actions are spurred forward by personal motivations. Who am I kidding? 99% is probably a closer number.
  • Saying 'no' to eating out. I don't care if I'm picking a healthy option, if someone else makes it, it just tastes better.
That's it for now, but stayed tuned as I'm sure I'll get stuck for a blog topic that will have me revisiting any introspective lists I've made.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meryl & Amy not just Julie & Julia

I went with my friend to see "Julie & Julia" this weekend. I had read the book and a narcissistic part of me likes the idea of a movie based on a book based on a blog. It give people like me hope.

Mostly I went because the older I get the more in love with Meryl Streep I am. When I was younger and "Bridges of Madison County" came out, I couldn't recognize the full glory of her because I was too creeped out by Clint Eastwood's squint. And it wasn't until I was in the middle of my Anne Hathaway crush movie marathon that I truly looked at what could've been a farce of a role in "The Devil Wears Prada" that the Meryl made into a masterpiece. And trust me neither Julie & Julia or The Devil Wears Prada are literary masterpieces.

So, if I ever get something published, I hope to hell that it lands in the hands of Meryl Streep and she sees enough of a glint of interest in something to want to have her fingerprints on it. Even if its just to produce it.

On another note, I watched "The Goonies" for the first time in a long time. I keep my movie ticket stubs out of habit because wherever I am I can always remember who and where I saw a particular movie at. The stubs are just a manifestation of that memory. It was while watching "The Goonies" that I could vividly remember curling up in an oversized movie seat at an old theater at Kentucky Lake with my cousins from Florida and my aunts and uncles. My family used to all gather at a rented house on the lake for an annual pilgrimage and while I remember water slides that took heavy mats to go down and riding a go kart with my grandpa, I also remember "The Goonies." It's a good memory.

Got to love the power of movies. Even when we start to forget them, the magic just creeps right back in.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In A Month With Crappy Memories, This one is a good one

Traditionally August hasn't been a banner month in my life. I've lost two people I was close to (understatement) during that month and once a month is associated with death, there's little to do to get it back.

However, 8 years ago yesterday I moved to Nashville and started at the American Heart Association. I remember the day exactly as I was hovered over in my tiny cubicle and being drilled with questions from one of my two new direct bosses. They took me out to eat at Cooker on West End (now J. Alexander's) and proceeded to pepper me with questions about my skills (except Jen actually asked me about my life).

I then went home and cried nearly every night for a month. Some because I missed my famiy, some because I missed cable TV, other nights because my dog was sick and then put down. But after all the tears, moving to Nashville has been one of the things in my life that I'm most proud of. I didn't know many people here and yet in a short time have made so many connections that it's crazy to think about. Wherever else I end up in life, I'll be happy to be have been able to call Nashville home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Couldn't They Have Let Him Shower? He just finished mowing the lawn

I realize when your team has Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson as their hopeful quarterbacks that landing Brett Favre is such a coup that you want to announce it on the highest mountain tops immediately, but can't you let a man shower?

Does he not look like he hopped off his lawn mower to get on a plane and announce that he's back? Maybe it's just the red hat. Or maybe it's just that he's had about 30 "will he or won't he or HE IS!" press conferences in the last couple of months that his attire no longer matters if he's holding a jersey in front of him.I was in Dallas, TX the first time Favre retired and remembered being touched by the sincerity of his tears. He won't get that emotion from me any more. The only emotion he's stirring up lately is the eye-roll inducing fed up emotion.
It's exciting for Vikings fans, but for the rest of us, can we focus on more important issues? Like the Colts o-line that has more holes than Favre's lawn mowing shoes (I'm sure he wore them to the press conference too--I just can't find a picture. Sports journalists are too caught up in drama to care about shoes)?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hey You, I Need Some Dinner Ideas, Please...Yes, You

Okay, people, help me out here. Chef and I have been coming up with a weekly schedule of dinner for the last month or so. I have to admit, it's helping a lot. Mostly because come 5 o'clock the last thing I want to hear is "What do YOU want for dinner?". Usually by that point my brain is mush and I could care less. I want whatever will make the questions stop.

So we plan ahead on Friday, I go shopping and BAM! the dinner question is answered before I walk through the door. The only problem is that we're running into a rut. Not that I don't love baked turkey taquitos and I could eat guacomle every night, but we need to shake things up a bit. Any low-cal, low-fat dinner ideas you can throw our way?If you're a vegetarian and/or have some vegetarian dishes, that'd be cool too. Although we haven't given up meat, we've switched to turkey and chicken, and Chef's feeling a little poultry-ed out.

In exchange for your help, I can share a chicken bbq, low cal Twinkie pudding (it's not really twinkie, I just think that's what it tastes like) and the aforementioned baked turkey taquito recipe your way. Just to shake things up a bit.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our Smart Ass T-Shirts were Better Than Theirs

As I stroll through the Kroger on Friday nights (my usual shopping trip time-easiest to get in and out), I get to observe a lot of the workings of human nature. Mostly I get to do it from afar, but occasionally I get sucked in.

Like a few weeks ago, I got hit on by several middle aged divorced men. I even got sucked into a conversation about diabetes and frozen dinners with one of my weird neighbors, who last week went back to Kroger at the same time and parked next to me.

But nothing beats the first Friday when the students come back. It's when my quiet little ghetto Kroger turns into a fashion runway for the misinformed. The Kroger is closest to Belmont which has a music business school and even with its Baptist roots, the students tend to dress like roadies and rock stars. It's a little disconcerting. Mostly I noticed the abundance of faux hawks (which I thought were out of style, but I guess I was wrong) and clever t-shirts that say things like "Analog" and try to be ironic.

Maybe it's the nostalgia washing over me, but when I look back at my college pics, I realize two things: 1) my t-shirts were much better and 2) I dressed like an idiot. My fashion mostly consisted of flannel t-shirts and men's hanes v-neck white t-shirts. I was on such a budget that I didn't care if things were flattering, I just wanted clothes. Now I'm a little more discerning.

Either way when the faux hawks start popping up, it's time to batten down the hatches. The students are coming! The students are coming!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thirsty Thursday Musings

It's Thirsty Thursday because I'm so frickin' busy that I need a beer to get through the work day. However, instead of driving myself to drink, I've decided to blog out some thoughts and then work out. Oh, I miss the calories-be-damned cocktail binges.
  • Our cat Genghis likes to sit between the shower curtain and shower liner when Chef or I are taking a shower and bite at the water droplets pelting him through the liner. I commented that I think he would like to kill water if he could figure out a plan of attack without getting wet. Here was Chef's strategy for GenghisOnly 2 weeks left in Chef and I's Biggest Loser contest. We weighed in this morning and he lost 5.3 lbs. I lost 3.1 lbs, but as of today, I'm leading. Of course, I had to start going to the gym every night for extra cardio, but I'm in it to win it!
  • I got to hold a precious one day old baby this week. He was adorable and I liked holding him, but it just made me realize that my biological clock still hasn't started ticking.
  • Conference calls that are just a run down of report outs are a waste of time. Have an agenda with stuff on it, people!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mmmm Microwave Meals

There was a time when I would turn my nose up at the thought of eating a microwave meal for lunch. I either went out or packed something better. OR if I ate microwaved meal, I always supplemented it with crackers, cheese, dessert. Never considered that the meal itself was enough to fill me up.

And in truth, it probably isn't enough to fill me up as my stomach is a bottomless pit, but it certainly is enough food to last me until my afternoon snack (typically yogurt). For a while I cut out my prepackaged gloriousness for more protein favoring meals. That was fine for a while, but I tell you, I am now loving my meals in minutes even more than ever.
Whereas before I would stick to things in the pizza range, I've found two that satisfy my need for carbs, spice and leave me wanting more--but not gorging on other foods.
  1. Healthy Choice Sweet Asian Potstickers. It's got way more carbs than it probably should, but DAMN. It's a good time.

  2. Kashi's Mayan Harvest Bake. Um, sweet potatoes, plantains, black beans, polenta and kale sound like an odd combination--and they are--but they are deliciously odd.

Wonder what it means that my two favorite choices are vegetarian?

Monday, August 10, 2009

But I'm always the Tire Girl

I got asked to be the Nashville Start! Heart Walk team captain for our AHA office again this year. It started out as a good idea and then we had to go and up the ante. Instead of just having incentives for the top walkers and prizes and all that usual crap, we also added in a team challenge. The losing team has to wash the winning team's cars. In our parking lot. In October.

While Nashville is further south than my previously beloved home, it is not south enough to be warm in October. It's quite cold. And I'm still the shortest (at least non-pregnant shortest) team member. Why do I bring that up? Because when doing car washes for other things (namely softball team fundraisers), my height dictated that I wash the tires. I hate washing tires. I always scrape my knuckles and then get soapy water in them. It's horrendous.

So, this is where I need your help. You can do one of two things to save me from soapy, stinging, bleeding knuckles and frigid October wet t-shirt contests:
  1. Donate to my Heart Walk campaign. Click here and you can do it in 2 minutes. I would greatly appreciate it. If you want to donate less than $25, feel free to email me at and I'll send you an envelope to make it happen.
  2. Join my team. Don't have money to donate? No problem. Just join my team and email your friends and family to help support the cause. Click here and click on "Join My Team" to be an official Walka Walka (that's our team name--it's an homage to my favorite comedian--Fozzie Bear).

Seriously, I can't thank you enough for helping out because I know that I have the best friends. Way better than the Walker Nashville Ranger people!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Nothing Says Tired like 4,000 kids in 3 hours

I don't think there's any amount of caffeine, energy drink or other legal or non-legal stimulants that can properly prepare you for 4,000 kids in just 3 hours. Today was the Mayor's First Day Festival at the Sommet Center which is really cool. It's free for vendors and free to attend and hands out thousands of free information and school supplies to kids before the first day of school. I love the idea of this event and in its purest form, it's spectacular.

However, in its actual form, it can be spectacular, tiring, frustrating, exhuasting, infuriating, surprising and short. The good things come from the reactions of the majority of the kids. The please and thank yous and smiles. Especially knowing that most of the kids there can use the pencil and activity sheet and information we gave away.

The bad impressions come from parents yelling at me that they have 8 kids so they need more pencils or the elementary school kid that snipped at me that he needed more than one pencil to get through the school year (I didn't realize that my supply was supposed to take 4000 kids through 180 days of math problems, English essays, and homework, but whatever) or the parent that took a handful of pencils and then when I said "one per child" refused to put any back but instead grabbed another handful AND THEN proceeded to come back two more times 30 minutes later ( I did NOT allow him any more out of spite).

The only other thing that stinks is that because of the size and number of participants at the event, vendors have to be checked in by noon. That means that even if I push it to the latest, I'm still sitting there waiting for 2 hours before doors open. It's a little much.

However, despite all that, I know that we reached a little under 4000 kids in three hours of passing out and talking. When all that energy comes your way, you try to match it for as long as you can, but there's always a wall. And I'm hitting it now. I bet I'm asleep before 9:30 tonight. Oosh.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

blogging from my phone so it's gonna be short

chef and I are watching an episode of gangland on the history channel that's featuring nashville. i'm learning so much about the various gangs in town. who knew we were special because no one area of town is controlled by a particular gang? I am,however, still going to avoid certain parts of nolensville road and of course, hickory hollow mall. that's just good sense.

lost 3 pounds this week! I think it's partly because i'm in the gym every day and jogging every morning and partly because all of last week's efforts are finally registering. i'm back in the lead for the biggest loser contest and only a pound or so from my lowest weight ever! three weeks left.wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Almost Ten Years Ago. . .

I sat in one of the three different "Media and Society" classes that I took at IU and filled a bluebook with my theories on how to eliminate "scary world syndrome." Scary World Syndrome is the theory that people think the world is more violent than it actually is because violence is portrayed on TV at a MUCH higher rate than it occurs in reality.

Back then, my theory was that people would be less likely to believe the overweight ratio if the news were more parody than real. My example was The Daily Show. Jon Stewart had just taken over which caused a spike in popularity, but nothing like it is today. My professor responded that I understood the concept, but also wrote in the margins "TV news consisting as parody for the masses? That'll be the day."

I wonder what the professor would think about this.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Random Thoughts of a Tuesday

Chef and I watched a show on Fox called "More to Love". It was exactly like The Bachelor, except the contestants were all plus sized. It made me realize a couple things. Stupid and bitchy women are stupid, no matter what their dress size. Chef had the line of the night. When the Bachelor was asked what his type was, he replied "Everyone in this room." Chef's remark "Yeah, because you all have a vagina and are actually talking to me."

Other random thoughts:

  • Last night worlds collided in my dreams. In one, I was explaining to an ex-boyfriend how he could totally implement an AHA school program into his teaching lesson plan while we played basketball in the cul-de-sac from my childhood home.
  • Folding machines are great when you have 2500 sheets of paper that need to be individually folded. However, they are loud and not as convenient when they start pulling multiple pieces of paper to fold at one time just for funsies.
  • The week that I've started organizing and delegating is the week that the department's shared coordinator is on vacation. It was purely a coincidence.
  • I have an unexplained sense of dread that is starting to cloud my disposition.

Monday, August 03, 2009

An Anniversary...of Sorts

On Saturday as I was running at 5:45 a.m. (because I was up and it was not blazing hot yet), I remembered that it was a day that meant something to me. It was August 1st. Now August is not the best month for me in terms of things to remember. It's the month that a lot of people that I love have died. It's also the month that I moved to Nashville 8 years ago (yes, it's really been 8 years).

But this particular day is an anniversary (kind of) of something good. Two years ago on August 1st, I looked at the American Heart Association's internal wellness web site and said "That doesn't look too hard." I do not know why it happened. It wasn't something that I planned or even thought other than, "I think I can do that." But for some reason, this time it stuck.

Two years ago I started losing weight. And not just a little weight. A lot of weight. In fact, if you add my set backs and big chunks, I have lost more than 100 pounds in two years. Not that I weigh tiny now, but including the times that I've gained and lost again. At my heaviest, I weighed (I cannot believe I'm going to admit this) 221 lbs. More than the majority of defensive players on the Colts. I tried to rationalize that they were built for speed and not punishment, but when you can honestly say you weigh more than a professional defensive football player. . .and you're a woman that's 5'2", it's time to make a change.

Now I'm the type of person that I used to hate. The type of person that gets up at 5:45 on a Saturday morning to go for a jog. Who'd have thunk it?

Now only 3 more pounds to go to be at my lowest weight in my adult life. What a difference a day can make.



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