Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cookies by the Pound

I'm in Philadelphia this week for my first new work-related conference. My company is a vendor and therefor I get to attend and hang out. Granted I'm hanging out with librarians, but I'm learning a lot. I guess that's too be expected, as well.

This is my first time in Philly and I got hoodwinked almost as soon as I got off the plane. I had a driver take me to his cab. On the way there, I clearly asked if he accepted credit cards (I knew I didn't have enough cash for the entire trip). He said yes and then when I got to my destination said that he didn't have a credit card machine in his car and demanded that I pay cash. I told him that I'd pay him the $20 I had on me, but not the full fare (which was nearly double that). It then lead to a match of wills. He wanted to drive me to an ATM to get more cash. I refused. And because he didn't have a working meter in his car, I told him he could take the cash I was offering or we could see a cop who would side with me on account of his broken meter.

Long story short, I got a cheaper cab ride and told the driver that he knew it was card or nothing before I got into the cab.

That was fine, but then today it was like the cab gods were against me for messing with one of their own because I had to walk a mile back to my hotel in the snowy/rain mix. So by the time I got back to my hotel, I was cold, wet and ready for some dinner.

The best part of Philly so far is that I found a place that sells cookies by the pound. Yup, they weigh the cookies you choose and then you pay by weight. It's a whole lot of deliciousness. I had a big ole chocolate chip in my purse that made my evening worth the walk. I can understand why Philly's one of the fattest cities around. Mmm. And why they're so angry. Not enough cookies. MMMM.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I'm Not Good At Time Zone Math

With a boss and colleague in the UK, a freelancer in Denver, another freelancer in New York and colleagues in DC, I've found something pretty evident out: I'm not good at time zone math.

I can't automatically look at my watch and know what time it is in London. Or New York. If the time crosses over the 12:00 hour (on either end), I'm screwed. Also take into account something I never realized: Europe observes Daylight Savings Time a full two weeks after we do. So there was a two-week period that the time difference was an hour less than it normally is. Yeah, it confused the crap out of me.

Another thing I've found out is that my body isn't good in dealing with time zones, either. I firmly believe that even after four months of being in LA, my body is still on Central time. I get up at 5 a.m. (7 a.m. CST). I never used to get up that early, but I can now. I go to bed at 10 p.m. (12 p.m. CST). I also never used to go to bed that early (at least not normally) either.

And when I went to DC this week, I felt more in tune with Eastern time until it was going to bed. Then I was awake until almost 1 a.m. (EST). Of course the end of the Butler game could have had something to do with that too.

So it's 4:40 PST. I got on a plane at 9:15 EST and was on the plane for 6 hours. So it's like it's 7:40, right?

All I know is that I'm tired. And tired transcends time zones.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If I were a parent. .

I'm fairly certain the corn syrup debate would get old pretty quickly. And I'm also certain that I'd have a hard time taking advice from other mothers. Especially if they were wearing mom jeans. However, I've seen this clip a ton of times and I can't decide which mom I'd actually end up being in real life.







Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kitty Prozac

It sucks being the only girl some time. I know because for a good while I was the only girl amongst a plethora of boy cousins. And while it had it's advantages (I got Air Jordans and camo one Christmas like the boys and LOVED IT), it also had some disadvantages.

It is in this spirit that I know that Mila has to be needing some feminine feline time. Not that we're getting another kitty any time soon, but she has been and continues to be skiddish. So much so that she's started thinking outside of the box. And by thinking, I mean pooping. There's no better start than waking up to the smell of god awful and having to pick it up by the handful (albeit a fully covered hand). And by better, I mean worse.

After a month of pretty consistent litter box aversion, we took Mila to an LA vet. The month was my fault. Chef asked me on several occasions to find a vet and make an appointment. This has always been one area that I've handled. What's tricky is finding a vet that has good word of mouth AND is in the vicinity AND is open on weekends (I work so far away that it doesn't work to trek Mila or any of our furry friends out this far). However, thank God for yelp, because it helped me find all three PLUS they even make house calls. How sweet is that??

We went on Saturday to see if there was anything physically wrong with Mila. Not only was the vet super nice and took his time explaining what could be the causes (and even ignored a pushy patient in the waiting room to do so), but he was also hot. Not that Chef really cares about that, but it was definitely a perk. And by hot, I mean several days worth of stubble on the face kind of hot. That impractical hot because you KNOW that stubble hurts like heck to get kissed from but it sure is nice to look at. (He was also married).

But I digress. From hotness to her highness, as apparently there's nothing physically wrong with Mila (which we breathed a sigh of relief about). She's just a nervous cat who gets harassed by the guys. We're trying homeopathic remedies and changing her diet before we go the medication route...which is PROZAC. They don't make a special kitty prozac so she would literally be getting the same thing as a human. Just less of it. That weirds me out a little.

After this news, we made a trip to the pet store and spent some hard earned cash on the kitties. It was time they all got an upgrade. A soothing diffuser to Mila, a water fountain for Khubla, a tunnel and new litter box for them all. They got hooked up.

Not only that, but Chef has even allowed two of them re-entry into our bedroom at night: Mila (because she's skiddish and gets picked on A LOT at night) and Attila (because Mila cries very loudly if he's not in there with her). So far, so good. A few nights in and she's already using the litter box again. We'll see how long this lasts. . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Future of Justin Bieber

I was driving home the other night and a Justin Bieber song came on the radio. I'm not going to debate whether or not this kid has talent or sings well. I just got to thinking about the fates of other teen pop sensations. Whether male or female, solo or in a group, there are few pop idols who hit it big as a teen and made it out unscathed. So, I ask you: What do you think will have to the Biebs?

Take the poll here: http://poll.fm/2u1ru

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Case you Need a Hit of March Madness Before The Tourney Resumes. . .

I'll admit that I spent my fair share of time this weekend on the couch watching some March Madness. The closeness of the first weekend of games and the sheer number of games make them both ubiqitous and addictive. The only problem is just as you get used to having basketball to watch, it's Monday. And you're cut off again for several days. So if you're like me and need a hit of tourney, try this out. Did I mention that the Golf Whisperer is one of my favorite announcers of all time?



By the way, if you want to get a glimpse of Charlie Sheen's crazy bracket, check it out on the Dan Patrick Show web site here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How I Deal With Beauty Products Now That I'm Older

When I was younger, I would try just about any new beauty product out there that had lofty promises and a good before and after picture. But now that I'm getting older, I'm getting wiser. I've learned a few things that I think have inevitably saved me tons of money and made me a lot happier with the products that I buy. Here's what I've learned:
  • Products only do about 25% of what they claim to do. That number is higher for some people and lower for others. For me, I've found that if I take the claim on the box and adjust my expectations to 25%--and still want to buy the product, that I'll be happier in the end.
  • Wait a week before being excited about something. I've had quite a few things that I loved after the first day or two to find out that I wasn't so excited a week in when my skin, hair, body or whatever got used to it. The rule of diminishing returns, I guess.
  • Buy the product that smells the best to you. I've bought perfumes because Chef liked them and I was only so-so on. Turns out after a few wearings, he wasn't so excited about it and I was stuck with a perfume that I only tolerated. If you have a product that makes you happy when you smell it or that you love the smell of, it can only work 5-10 percent as well as it should and you don't feel like you threw your money out because at least the smell makes you happy.
What got me thinking about this? I did a mini-at-home spa day this morning. It's raining, I had just worked out and our plans of going to Culver City for pizza was traded in for basketball and movies at home with delivery Chinese food. (a good swap, I'd say). So, I took a long steamy bath and rub, scrubbed, and lotioned up with some of my favorite products (not that you don't know this, but I clearly don't get paid to mention these things):
So, that was my morning of relaxation. The next one will be in a few weeks when I get another massage. Why another one? Well other than the obvious, I also have a coupon for a 90 minute massage for the price of a 60 minute one. Not too shabby!

Hope your Sunday is just as relaxing. I have to get back to doing little to nothing but cheering on basketball teams of my favor and catching up on this week's TV shows.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rich People Arguing About Money is Not "Winning"

I'm getting a little sick and tired of all these rich people arguing about staying rich or getting richer. Is anyone else feeling a little less sympathy towards people complaining about money when they probably already pay 6 figures in taxes?

Here are a couple of recent cases:

Charlie Sheen: If you look at his twitter account, he calls himself an "unemployed winner". Yet he lives in a very lavish estate and continues to kvetch about his lack of work. Sorry, Charlie, you get no sympathy from me. I mean, you were fired because of your own stupidity. There are few people who can show up to work intoxicated and still expect to have a job. There are even fewer that can scare a hooker into locking herself in a hotel bathroom and make it out of the situation with a paycheck.

Two of the hour-long specials have now stated his monthly child support payments. I don't care, Charlie. It's not my responsibility to help you get a job because you have 5 kids and two live-in goddesses to support. Show up to work. Do the job. And stop being a baby. If you did all that and didn't make enough, I'd still probably not feel sorry for you because there are millions of people all over the US in far worse situation with far more education and far more to contribute to society than a few catchphrases.

NFL Players and Owners: The lowest paid member of your players union and the lowest earning NFL owner still makes about 10 to 100 times more than the average person. If I got into a labor debate with my company, I certainly wouldn't expect you to care. So, why should I care that you can't decide which side has more money? I don't and neither do most fans. What we have figured out is that you all want us to love you because in the end the extra money you want to make is coming out of our pockets in the form of higher ticket prices and increased concession stand charges. And probably higher taxes when you need a new stadium.

I absolutely adore football, but I'm tired of hearing each side whine. It feels like a back and forth battle for public opinion when the public opinion is this: We want football. We pay about $9 billion to support football. Split it up however you want, but just make sure there's football.

I keep hearing that they're about a $100 million apart in negotiations. If they really want to "be there for the fans", how about taking that $100 million and giving it back in the way of discounted tickets? Don't want to play 18 full season games? Fine. Stop charging full season price for the 4 pre-season games and make the games free scrimmages for fans who can't afford to watch the NFL in person.

Oddly enough, no one wants to give back money. Weird. I think the US needs to collectively bargain. You can always vote with your dollar. For me, I'm not going to support Charlie Sheen, but that's not a big change. I didn't watch his show and the only movies of his that I've seen were Major League and Young Guns, so I'm in the clear on that one.

As for the NFL, I'm waiting to see which side offers me the best deal before I figure out where my vote is going. So far, no one is WINNING!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bad Poetry Project: I Need Your Help

So I'm driving back to LA listening to Taylor Swift (no judgement, people) and it hits me: so many young pop artists' songs sound like the bad poetry I used to write as a teenager. And for good reason: most of them are teenagers who are trying to prove they can write their own songs.

The real revelation was that I know I'm not the only one who wrote bad teenage poetry. I don't think they let you graduate high school any more until you've written something where you've rhymed "pain" with "rain".

And then I remember my own college days and one day in particular. My friend Anne and I were driving to Evansville from Bloomington and listening to 'N Sync. We started changing the lyrics and found that we could make an entirely different song just using synonyms.

So here's the plan: I want to pre-emptively have the next song ready for Taylor Swift when she breaks up with Jake Gyllenhaal or whoever else she may date for a week or so of inspiration. But to do that, I need your help. I'm asking you to raid your closets and dust off the old journals. Find those lost missives from middle school. The letters of first (or in my case unrequited) love. Give them a new life---in a Taylor Swift song.

What's in it for you? When the song makes its way to the air, everyone whose bad poetry was used will get a co-writer credit. It'll probably be worth about 10 cents per person, but it will also help answer the question: how many people does it take to write a song?

No disrespect to those who write lovely songs and poetry. If you have drafts from when you were 14, send those. Only truly epically, bad angst-ridden poetry need be submitted.

Send me your best of the worst at ashley.wrye@gmail.com and I'll out together Taylor's next hit for our own pleasure. Send this to anyone who might want to submit and let's make a hit, people!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"C'mon, man, It's Friday Night"

Chef and I typically sleep with our windows open (at least the bedroom window). We prefer it to be a little chilly and air doesn't circulate that well naturally in our place. (Side note: One thing I appreciated about IU was the roommate move-in survey they made you take in the dorm where one of the questions was: what temperature do you prefer the room to be when you fall asleep?)

Last night I was sound asleep when I heard what sounded like a skateboard running across the sidewalk outside our window. It wouldn't normally be enough to wake me up considering the street outside our window is busy and kinda loud at all time of day and night. So, the sound of what I thought was a skateboard was accompanied by screams of delight. I got out of bed to investigate and found three grown, but drunk, guys taking turns riding an abandoned shopping cart on the sidewalk.

There were a couple of problems with this scenario: 1) They were literally 20 feet or less away from our open window, 2) They were screaming at the top of their lungs, and 3) it was 3:30 a.m.

By the third time they did this, they had woken Chef up and he was also pissed. He walked over to the window and shouted "Hey, guys, shut the fuck up." I was proud of his eloquence and composure at 3:30.

And out of one of the guys mouth's (who was sitting in the shopping cart, by the way) "C'mon, man, it's Friday night" with an Australian accent. Chef replied with "no, it's Saturday morning and I've got to get up in a few hours."

To the guys' credit, they abandoned the cart once again and left with no more noise. They were very clearly drunk, but still even drunk, I would think that yelling 20 feet away from about 50 apartments would not be a good idea.

And a short time later, Chef and I went back to sleep. He was, and remains, my hero. And I'm willing to bet a few of our neighbors were thanking him too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Tsunami?

It was 6:30 this morning and I was in my car on my way to work for a 7:30 conference call. I get a text and look down to realize that my phone has three new texts from three different people, a missed call and a voicemail. It turns out we all thought that a tsunami was heading towards me.

But it wasn't until I got a text from Chef that I realized there was a tsunami heading my way. That's what I get for watching ESPN's Mike and Mike in the morning instead of the news. As you all know by now, we got lucky. Only a three foot impact hit the beaches of Ventura County. I actually work in Ventura County, but the people at work weren't really shaken up about the tsunami either. Interested for sure but not overly worried. There was an undeniable odor of salt in the air this afternoon after the waves hit.

Chef and the apartment were 100 percent untouched. The only good side effect of the event was that traffic was lighter going home. I guess people stayed home today because of the warning. There were two things about today's warning that got to me:
  • It took family and friends from landlocked Indiana and Tennessee to let me know what was going on in my county. In my defense, the two hour time difference was to their advantage.
  • There doesn't seem to be a good warning system for major events here. I can only imagine how it's going to be when the big one hits. Whoosh.
Thoughts are with those who actually got hit by the tsunami and affected by the earthquake.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Things You Don't Think About Until You Lose a Toenail

Yes it's gross. It hurt like hell when it happened. I pulled a door onto my toe and the pain was much like that of a stubbed toe but much worse (delayed as if it took my brain a couple seconds to reconcile what my eyes had seen). And I limped for a few days, could only wear flip flops for a few more and then it was over. So, I thought.

The nail popped off and it was relatively painless, but I was so determined that I wasn't going to lose it that it was a surprise when it came off and now I'm finding it's actually more of a nuisance than I thought. Here are some things that I didn't think about until that freshly exposed skin popped through:
  • It's totally messing with my wardrobe. I start my outfit choice with my shoes and now my shoes are limited so I'm finding that I'm having a hard time figuring out what to wear.
  • Speaking of shoes, I'm ashamed of the bruised skin and nubby little area for my toe, so no more open toe shoes. That has effectively taken my shoe choice to about 6 of my 30+ pairs.
  • The skin is bruised and new so it starts to hurt at weird moments: when it happens to bump against a shoe, when the sheets hit it, in the shower when the stream strikes it, as I'm pulling on my pants.
  • I haven't had a pedicure in months. Okay, so this is a really girly thing to complain about and a year ago it wouldn't have even crossed my mind, but it's nice to have your feet massaged and pampered.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Korean Pizza. Yes, you read that right.

Chef and I have been on a quest to find decent delivery pizza in LA. I say quest because we have literally tried about 8-10 different non-chain places since we've been here and have yet to find a real winner. At least when it comes to delivery pizza. There's a great place we love, but you have to eat at the Farmer's Market to get it.

So tonight in our quest, we decided to try something different. Pizza from Koreatown. The place, again, had great recommendations on yelp. It's called Mr. Pizza, which honestly just had me thinking of the Mr. Plow song from Homer's snow plow business on "The Simpsons." And I liked that they had some really unusual pizzas. Some seafood combinations, some potato pizzas and even a concoction that they put whipped sweet potato in the crust and bake with cheddar cheese.

We tried our safety pie, the pepperoni pizza. I mean, if you can't do a proper pepperoni, then you shouldn't be making pizza at all. I also had an order of their "Gold sticks." These are basically cheesesticks with cheddar on top and the whipped sweet potato filling.

It was the best delivery pizza we've had in LA, but still only a B+. The good thing is that Chef actually went back for seconds and we even kept the leftovers. The other pizza we've been throwing out. I liked the Gold Sticks, but I love sweet potato. There was enough in there to have a nice sweet and savory mix, but not enough to have the filling oozing out with each bite.

So thumbs up for Korean pizza. However, even the best Korean pizza can't hold a candle to the fast Mexican place we are now addicted too. It's called Poquito Mas and the pork there is divine. Seriously, we tried it last weekend and went back this weekend because of its awesomeness. Also, I made a mid-week stop there too. And the best part is it costs less in calories and dollars than McDonald's. Oh, Poquito Mas. We do adore you.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Red on the Head, but not on the Toe Nail

Today was the big hair change day. I earned the day by successfully losing 10 pounds in 2 months and I was darn sure going to take advantage of this reward. I decided to go red and to get some updated look to my style. Honestly, with the exception of a cute short cut with some side swept bangs that I had two years ago, my hair has been pretty much the same. Long layers framing the fame. And until 6 months ago, it was always a varying shade of blonde. The brunette was fun and I may certainly go back, but if I was going to throw down some dollars to get my hair done (instead of the Nice 'n Easy and Supercuts route that I normally take), I was going to take advantage of it.

I went to a woman that Chef walked in to a few weeks back. She did such a good job on his hair that I went ahead and made the appointment with her. She listened to me when I told her I had ideas of what I wanted, but I also knew my limitations (like that I don't do the whole round brush, hairdryer thing). She made some tweaks and suggestions and then just went to town.

The one thing I'll say bad about the experience wasn't so much her fault, but a product of the salon she works in. I had an appointment and I knew that it was going to take a while to get what I wanted, but her salon had booked at least three other cuts with her during the time I was there. So I had to wait to have rinses or her assistant had to blowdry me. It took 3 hours.

I know that they absolutely have to have her attending to other clients. I totally get that. What I wish was that they had a contingency for people like me. Clearly I was spending a lot of money there and should have been the priority for service over a $20 haircut. Just sayin'. Am I out of touch?

Anyway, I got the cut and strutted around the mall (looking for a short, white dress for our courthouse wedding--found nothing) and I noticed that I got a lot more looks than normal. Maybe it was the red hair (which looks more natural than I thought it would--clearly NOT natural, but not a blatant accost of nature) or the bangs, but I felt more stylish and confident. And I got three compliments on the color in the first hour I had it. Not too shabby.

Got home and Chef had a good reaction. He likes me feeling good about myself and values that above all other things when it comes to my appearance. He also commented that I should change things up every 6 months to a year. I agree that it's been fun to be a little different.

After I got home, what I had been hoping for and dreading happened: my toe nail fell off. I know it's gross and I was not excited about it, but I was also happy because my toe nail had been sliding into my nail bed all day when I was walking and that was causing me more discomfort than just ripping the stupid thing off.

So I got home and examined it and it was hanging on by one small place. Some finagling and BAM. I'm now sporting a fleshy area that has tender skin and a tiny little nail that had started growing. The only thing that pisses me off is that I literally had the toe accident on the day we moved in to our apartment and it is only JUST now coming off. Didn't come off when it was swollen so badly that the nail turned purple and it hurt to walk. Didn't come off when I got an infection and the toe turned black. Waiting until it appeared the nail would stay before coming loose. Bastard toe nail.

At least now I can wait a few weeks and get a pedicure without shame or fear.

Friday, March 04, 2011

I Need Your Vote On my Hair!

I'm going to the hair stylist tomorrow to get some updates on my hair, and am probably going to go with red as the color. What shade of red? That's a good question. I'm currently varying between a few shades and would love your input and opinion.

Vote in my poll and I MIGHT use the majority's suggestion or I might use what you say to determine if I'm disappointed something else didn't get picked. We'll see. Either way, your vote does mean SOMETHING.

Pictures of the new hair will be posted after my appointment at 1 p.m (PST) tomorrow.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

And I Was Happy

I was on the phone with a friend from Nashville on my way home from work tonight. I hadn't chatted with this friend since I'd moved out here because 1) it has only been 3 months and 2) those three months I've been gone happened to coincide with her busiest time of year.

But as I was talking with her and she was asking me about LA, my new job, my new company and life, I realized just how excited I started to sound. The words came out of my mouth so easily with a joy that was so natural, I didn't really notice it until the end. It made me realize that so much has happened in the last three months, but the big thing that has happened is that I'm happy. Not partially happy or "would be happy if. . ", but truly happy with where my life is and where it's heading.

Don't mistake happiness for complacency. I still have ambitions and plenty of goals. I just realize that it's time to take stock in happiness. Here's what I'm happy for:
  • I got to travel across country on my own timeline with the man I love and meander through the country-side seeing all the sites that I wanted to.
  • I got to move-in at my own pace to a place that we found by luck and only now realize how good of a deal it is. I got the time to arrange things the way I wanted them, unpack fully and get acclimated to my new neighborhood.
  • In one of the worst economies in US history, I was able to steadily book job interviews for a variety of industries.
  • I was also able to land a job in about 6 weeks of concentrated looking at a company that treats its employees exceptionally well.
  • Said job is interesting and fits well to my skills and makes me realize how much I could offer.
  • Chef and I are getting married and in a low-stress way.
  • For some reason, I'm less hungry and have access to work out any time I want so I can try different restaurants and not weight 200+ pounds. . .again.
Happiness abounds and while I'm working to having a network of good friends in LA, I'm lucky I still have a bunch of great friends in other places that I can call.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Going to the Chapel. . .

. . .and we're going to get married. Okay, so that's a lie. Chef and I are getting married. That's not the lie. We're just not doing it at a chapel. More like a courthouse. And who knows when we're actually going to go. Well, we have a vague idea, but not a specific date.

After more than 6 years together, we finally decided it was time to make it officially legal. I wish I could say that it was a big romantic revelation that made us decide we couldn't live without each other, but that would be another lie. At least to say that happened recently. We made the choice to move in together which was a huge revelation, but much like all good things in life, it's not one big choice that tend to be the turning points but the cumulative choices. Chef and I choose to be together every day and I love him for it.

But I digress. We're getting married in the next couple of months because we love each other and because it's time. But because we're us, we've also realized that we want to be married more than we really want a wedding. So, we're getting married this spring, but don't look for a invite to our wedding reception until closer to next spring.

And I have to say that I'm exceptionally thankful for my stepmom, Robin, at all times, but never so much as when she said she'd help organize this. There are a couple reasons this rocks: 1) she's a professional with a lot of experience and can help make the reception awesome, 2) she can relieve me of the dread of having to organize events, as that's not my strong suit and 3) did I mention she's awesome?

So, anyway, the planning and plotting has begun.

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