Thursday, July 31, 2008

If you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your face?

As someone who switches between makeup brands, hair products, face cleaners, and lotions depending on my mood and what store is closest, I was very happy to learn about Environmental Working Group's SKIN DEEP Cosmetic Safety Database. It measures tons of different products/brands based on the level of toxicity, 0 being the least toxic and 10 being cancer in a bottle. And let me just say, the products I normally use were not that close to the 0 mark.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Later, the box caved in

I don't even really know what this is that Emma is sitting on. I think it might be bike-oriented.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Does anyone have a cough drop?

I've been sick for a week. Not sick enough to skip work, or to sleep all day on the weekend, but sick enough that I can't remember what it feels like to not have a cough.

It started with a sore throat and now it just feels like golf ball-sized chunks of concrete are stuck in my lungs and every so often they release pieces of dust that float up my throat and make me hack in a way that causes others to look around thinking "Someone help that old man. He is clearly dying."

And instead of staying in and concentrating on breathing normally, I drove up to Cooperstown, New York, home to The Baseball Hall of Fame, to watch Rob's nephew play in a Little League tournament. We saw a home run derby, one game, and the Hall of Fame itself before heading back to the city. We also played a rousing game of Spoons with 11 people and that alone probably extended my recovery time by several days. I am not exaggerating when I say that people ended up in piles on the floor on top of each other, on the table (Rob's 6'5" brother in law), missing skin, and bleeding. Spoons. A family game. We laughed until we cried. It did not help my cough.

On the way home yesterday, I finally just succumbed to it and coughed for about 2 hours straight. I draped myself over the passenger seat, facing the back of the car and asked Rob to hit me on the back just to try to dislodge one of the concrete chunks. It didn't work, but I think it might have been entertaining for the people driving by.

At one point I announced that I felt like I had that disease, you know that one, where you cough up loads of junk and people have to help you by pounding on your back and basically it's awful and it's extra awful that I was actually comparing my cough to that disease.

"Oh, I know what you're talking about," said Rob. "Boomer Esiason's son had that."

And then I stopped coughing for a minute while we tried to remember what it was called. And when that failed, we busted out the IPhone and I Googled "Boomer Esiason son" and the Wikipedia page told me that the disease I was thinking of is a really terrible one and it's called Cystic Fibrosis.

And I know--I know--I'm going to hell for making that particular comparison, but isn't technology impressive?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Joe's Card Game

First person to adapt this into a drinking game wins a prize.

Take a normal deck of cards for two to four players. Take turns
picking cards and try to place in front of you a run of cards from 1 -
1. On a given turn, you can only put down a card if it is one of the
three lowest you still need. So, on your first turn, you would only
be able to keep an ace, 2, or 3.
2. Cards you can't use are put in a discard pile.
3. If you pick a jack, you keep it, and on subsequent turns you may
keep a card if it is one of the FOUR lowest you need.
4. If you pick a queen, you may remove an opponent's jack.
5. If you pick a king, you may remove one of an opponent's cards.
6. Queens and kings cannot be saved, but must be used immediately.
7. After going through the deck, shuffle the discard pile and continue.
8. Winner is the first to complete a run of 1 - 10.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There is no need to not have answers

Rob is watching the Tour de France. Again. This particular sporting event has graced our television every night for the past 17 days. It's funny how 17 days can seem so much like 37 years. Seriously, how long is this race? I feel like I will slowly grow old while emaciated men in spandex climb up mountains and occasionally get ejected for drug use. The scenery is nice.

Anyway, I got home from an author event tonight and sat on the couch next to Rob, who was paying rapt attention to the Tour and eating Thai chicken puffs, which are basically fried balls of curried meat.

He cleared his throat and I glanced over at him.

"Not that you care," he began, "but this is the hardest day of the Tour de France since World War II."

"They had the Tour de France during World War II?" This I would find interesting.

"No," he said. "I don't know...I'm just's a really hard day."

I made an impressed face and then looked up the Tour on Wikipedia (Source of All Truths). It turns out that since 1903 there have been 94 completed Tours de France. In 1939 Spain, Italy and Germany bowed out of the race due to the political unrest in Europe. The whole Tour was then canceled from 1940-1946, beginning once again in 1947.

"Eat your chicken puff," said Rob.

Monday, July 21, 2008

So many beds, so little sleep

I had a better post planned for today. But that was before I got 3 hours of actual sleep all weekend and I am now just trying to calmly make it through the day, hyped up on caffeine and office urgency. What I’d really like to do is crawl around on the floor and toss things at other things.

Rob and I went to the Hamptons on Friday to see our friends and their beautiful new house. It sleeps something like 135, so that’s how many people they invited. It was a great crowd and we grilled, hung out by the pool, drank lots of wine and played card games. The catch was, we had to share a room. With a snorer. And at 4am on Saturday night, after at least 2 hours of trying to get my pillow all the way into my ears, I decided I could handle it no longer. So I slept in the car. I would have passed out on a couch somewhere, but half the house was still awake and drinking and I was at the point of panic—how will I ever make it through the beginning of the week if I start out with this kind of sleep deficit?

And though I was glad I had the option of car camping, I’m not going to pretend it was overly comfortable. At 9am, after waking up every hour to adjust, I went out to the backyard and passed out on a lawn chair until people started coming out to stare at me. At that point I breezed into the kitchen and got some coffee, like it was totally normal to be passed out and covered in dew when everyone else was getting out of their real beds.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Things My People are Up To

A heavy metal monk in Italy has released his second album.

Did you get that part about him being a monk? Who rocks heavy metal? And has two albums?

Also, he may be Santa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hair of the Ass that Bit You

I overdosed on the election sometime this Spring. I remember it happening: I got less and less interested in the primaries, stopped talking heatedly about the media coverage, lost my luster for mocking Mike Huckabee…I was over it. And I still feel a slight hangover from all of the hoopla. However, I think I might be getting back into it. Slowly.

So when I learned about a Chicago-based website that aggregates all the day’s political news, I had to check it out. It's a pretty cool site; you can get a quick sense of what's going on and then read more of what interests you.

It’s like going from teetotaling straight to a shot contest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Princess Grace of Bucktown

On Friday I met up with Rob at my parents' house, the two of us having flown into Chicago from New York within 40 minutes of each other, but on different airlines and to different airports (in case we are being followed.) Rob announced he was putting on "short pants" and, along with my mom, we went immediately to Grace's house.

The baby is beautiful. Tiny and squeezable, and very well behaved. No whining, no complaining, no demands that we stop staring at her. She's so calm.

The circumstances gave my mother the perfect motivation--and audience--for her antics.

"When will I have a grandchild?" she moaned dramatically into her glass of wine.

Then: "I have a great idea. You can move here and have a baby!"

A two-fer. Usually it's one or the other, relocating or procreating (that is, now that I'm getting married and she can check that one off her list.) But both at once! She was really getting giddy.

I think I handled it well, basically by flinging my head into my hands and reminding her through low grumbles that the focus of our evening was not me. Or her. Or how she has thus far been thwarted in her efforts to blink two times fast and become a grandmother. She blithely ignored me and went on concocting plans.

And with that, we drew our attention back to Gracie, with her perfect little lips and her soft baby smell, passing her around and around like we were at a baby square dance.

Though Rob was a little nervous when it was his turn, he rallied like a pro. My mother resisted commentary about this, but probably only because her brain had exploded. She later played "baby" with my grandparents' dog.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Friendly Streets and Skies

On Friday, I walked out of my air-conditioned-to-the-point-of-freezer-burn office building and watched three empty cabs go by before I could get to the curb fast enough. Once I got there, all the cabs were full. Then an empty one slowed and the driver rolled down his window.

"Where are you going?" he asked me.

"La Guardia," I said, hating this game, but hoping he would find the answer acceptable.

He sat there for part of a second. "Uhhhh...I wish I could, but I need to..."

"Then get out of the way!" I snapped. I couldn't help it; I realize he was trying to explain, but I was trying to catch a flight. You're either taking me there or you're not. I don't want to talk about it.

He sped off before the whole sentence had left my mouth. The next cab pulled up and the driver rolled his window down. "Where are you going?"

I murdered him in my mind.

I eventually arrived at La Guardia, with my carry-on bag, my purse, and a dozen bagels from Murray's. After checking myself in at the self-service kiosk, I walked towards security. I handed my boarding pass and ID to the woman at the head of the line, and she nodded at my bags. "That won't work," she said.

I thought I knew what she meant. "This bag goes into this bag," I said, gesturing to the bagels and then my purse.

She shook her head and indicated my carry-on. "If that doesn't fit into this metal basket, you have to check it."

"It fits," I assured her. "It's a carry-on."

But she made me show her anyway, and it did not actually fit. I've brought that bag with me on every short trip I've taken for the past two years, a fact that I quickly shared with her.

"Rules have changed," she said, and sent me back to the check-in desk, where they charged me $15 to check the bag.

"Whhhaaaa?" I said eloquently to the woman behind the desk.

"Rules have changed," she said.

There is much more to say about my weekend, and I will talk about it in future posts. But for now, I just want to mention what happened when I got back to O'Hare on Sunday for my return flight to New York.

I walked towards self-service, cursing the fact that I would have to check my bag. There was an airline employee standing near the computers.

"Do I have to check this bag?" I asked her on a whim.

"That?" she looked at me like it was kind of a weird question. "No. It's a carry-on."

P.S. Does it go without saying at this point that both of my flights were significantly delayed?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Friday!

I am going to Chicago for the weekend to meet Gracie, who is now a little over one week old, and also to celebrate the birthdays of Carson (6) and Seamus (4). Holding babies and playing with kids--fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Getting ready to destress

In order to make it to yoga on time, I have to be out of the office at 6pm. So this evening, when I looked at the clock and it was 6:10, I scrambled to leave. That never feels good, since it means things go unfinished and I have to rely on my brain to remind me to do them in the morning.

I rushed out, realizing I had to stop for cleaning supplies since I had used most of them up and Hazel was coming the next day. Also, she would need money--cash money, which I haven't had in days.

So, as I do when I am stressed, I called Rob. I think I do this so he can help me feel better, but I would bet--cash money--that he thinks I do it so that I can stress him out, too. "I will never make it to yoga," I vented. "And I have to run errands, and I have no time. And I just ran out of work leaving a bunch of things for tomorrow and my day is already busy tomorrow." And so on.

The irony of freaking out about not getting to yoga on time is not lost on me, but that's how much I knew I needed the 90-minute session. So when Rob offered to pick up the supplies, I was grateful. Unfortunately, I couldn't accept as I was unable to articulate what we needed.

He told me to go to yoga and not to worry about the other stuff. We would go get it together after I got home. Which was exactly the right thing to say and I calmed down, got my ass in gear, and went to yoga. And when Paolo asked us to think of our intentions for the class that night, I silently declared that mine would be to chill the fuck out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Emma asks for guitar lessons

She's always been musical, whereas Smokey is more of an athlete.

Monday, July 7, 2008

There's always a reason to celebrate

Rob and I went out on Saturday night with John. We had dinner at Bar Blanc, which would have been a better experience if their air conditioning had been working. The food was good, service was solid, but Rob kept blotting his forehead with a napkin each time a restaurant employee walked by. The "free wine or death" rays he was sending were practically visible. Our server ignored them.

We then walked to the Gramercy Park Hotel for drinks on the roof. Rob and I each had three glasses of champagne and John had two watermelon martini-things, his drinking speed hindered by numerous attempts to hit on the cocktail waitress. She told us she was a recent graduate who was looking for a place to live. I could just see John's brain working and I was really proud of him when he opted not to invite her to stay with him for a while. Nevertheless, in a smooth move that may have compensated for the fact that he was basically drinking Juicy-Juice, he did offer to hook her up with his real estate agent. She took his card.

When I woke up Sunday morning (and it was barely still morning), I vowed not to drink that night. It didn't sound like a difficult plan, as there was nothing I wanted to do less. But as I finished making dinner, Rob opened a bottle of red wine and I decided that my new vow was not to drink champagne that night. I've found it's best to be flexible with one's goals.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Welcome Grace Emily!

I'm fairly sure this is not my news to report, but I can't help it. GRACE EMILY was born today to my amazing friends Amanda and Dan. Grace is 7 lbs 10 oz and, though I have not seen her picture yet,* I am sure she's gorgeous. Dan says she "seems long."

I got the phone call as I was walking into an eyebrow waxing appointment at Bliss. Dan literally called as I was supposed to be checking in, so when I got off the phone with him, I went through the salon doors and yelled "I'm sorry I'm late! My best friend just had a baby!" And, I am not even kidding, the woman behind the desk did not crack a smile. She just handed me a sheet of paper and said, "Go back that way, take a left and wait." I could immediately tell that her heart had somehow been replaced with kidney stones, but even she could not ruin the glow of knowing there is a beautiful healthy baby in Chicago, with her beautiful healthy parents and I get to meet her next weekend!

*Post obviously updated to include pic. Gorgeousness proven.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Control issues

Rob and I prepared our wedding invitations last night, assembly line style.

I gluesticked them shut, while he stamped them. But because I was the one who picked them up, addressed them, obsessed over our list to make sure we weren't forgetting anyone, stuffed them, and then double-checked the list again, I was slightly uncomfortable with the idea of involving him.

As he lifted the first stamp, I said "If you put those on crooked, I'll have you killed."

And after that, I felt better.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Blog on the Block

You're all very, very lucky. Ellie has entered the blogosphere with Living Off Piste. Check it out. Her first post is totally a true story. I remember that guy.

In other news, Emma is never happier than when one of us returns home from a business trip and leaves a suitcase out.