Tuesday, March 27, 2007

O, teeny little blog audience!

Please don't give up on me! I have so much to share! So much to tell! For instance, so desperately do I want to sit down and tell you all about this! And also this right here! And yet this week I have not a single spare moment to do so! Not even one! Tell you what, OK, I'll make you a deal. Don't give up on my blog and I promise to tell you a story about how my precious little baby Chickenbone peed on the red carpet of a black-tie event. Or perhaps how he picked a fight with a dog that only has three legs. Or maybe I'll tell you about how he has taken to chewing on the underwire of my bra. (Not while I'm wearing it. Yet.) You see what I mean? So much to tell. So stay tuned! Hang in there! Please don't give up on me!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"You had a bad dayyyyyy...."

Here is how the day is going down, at barely 2:14 p.m.

1. I had an argument on the phone with a "service provider" who was so incompetent, so completely and blitheringly stupid, that I had to yell at them several times, including something that went a little like "Ma'am, I seriously want to assure you, to SWEAR to you, that I COMPLETELY, one THOUSAND PERCENT, underSTAND and compreHEND what you have been repeating to me OVER AND OVER again, OK? I'm not even KIDDING about this. I. GET. YOU." I later yelled other things that made me feel bad, so I apologized. Which kind of made me mad all over again.

2. In the ladies' restroom, I had to remove somebody else's ass-paper from the toilet seat.

3. Just now I glugged down about four swallows of a carton of milk that, though I purchased it from our company's cafeteria mere minutes ago, had expired almost a week ago. Expired, then curdled.

Next, if I'm very lucky, a giant safe will fall from the sky, squarely onto my head.

Monday, March 19, 2007

SOLD! To the girl with the white knuckles and the cold sweat!

At first I swore I would not blog about this, because the regret, guilt, and sheer forehead-slapping idiocy of my very own self felt too painful to display. But after a couple stiff drinks, a good night's sleep and a long yoga class, I have unclenched just a little, just enough to maybe tell you what I did this weekend that burned a fresh ulcer into my stomach lining:

I accidentally bought a $5,000 trip to Cancun.

Yes, an accident. No lie. See, I go to a lot of fundraisers with my husband, who writes about them for his column in the newspaper. These events often have live auctions for things like fancy jewelry and exotic vacations. Sometimes I think it's fun to be the very first bidder on an item, especially because the first bid never wins. Well, at Saturday's auction there was this cool Hawaii vacation valued at $14,000. And obviously there's no way that would sell for a really low price, so for fun, Sal and I agreed I could bid up to 5K. We were right, and it ended up going for around 10K. Oh, well! But a little while later, another interesting item came up: seven nights at a four-star resort in Cancun, plus first-class round-trip airfare, valued at nearly 10K. I leaned over to Sal and whispered, "Pssst! Wanna try 5K on this one, too?!" "Sure!" he says. So I do.


You really cannot imagine how I froze, how the shock and fear coursed coldly through my veins when the grinning auctioneer pointed in my direction and yelled "SOLD!" And then came the clapping and cheering, and people coming up to thank us so much for the donation, and then I nearly toss my cookies because I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING. Five thousand bucks? Five thousand bucks -- and here is the part that really makes me puke -- on a credit card!?!

OK, admittedly, we are in relatively good shape as far as credit cards go. And for the record, Sal isn't freaking out about this at ALL. He points out that we already had plans to do a big vacation this year, so this is money we would have spent anyway. Plus, it's for charity. Plus, though it might seem like bad timing to buy this trip now with house-hunting and all, it actually could be the last best time for us to do something like this. I bet after we land ourselves a nice fat mortgage, and later a kid or two, it won't be cool for mommy to suck down a couple martinis and run around waving paddle No. 241 in the air.

But I just couldn't stop kicking myself. The queasy guilt was turning my stomach inside-out. And it made me realize that a reaction this violent doesn't have anything to do with houses or vacations or anything like that. It comes from a deep understanding of what it's like to live with unmanageable debt. I'm not talking about the kind of debt that tells you it's time to cut down on four-dollar lattes. I'm talking about the kind of debt where, one afternoon in college, I stared down at the credit-card bills and realized that even with BOTH of my part-time jobs, I didn't have the money to make my payments. So I got up from the desk, put on a skirt and heels, drove to the mall, and got a third job at a costume jewelry counter at Foley's department store. See what I mean? That kind of frightening, nauseating debt that keeps you awake at night. And over the past five or six years, I have been able to shake that off and become a responsible adult, with a savings account and great credit and financial freedom that I try to never take for granted. So to go five grand in the hole in rougly 45 seconds, well, it felt like a fist smashed into my gut.

But like I said, I'm starting to get over it. Me and money have come a long way, and I know one teeny auction blunder isn't going to send us into financial ruin. And seriously, OK, I don't think there are too many horrifying mistakes in life that come equipped with a week of relaxing on sunshiny white beaches of the Caribbean Sea.

Friday, March 16, 2007

When it's OK to love hate

This made me laugh so hard that I cried, and had to go to the ladies' room to fix my mascara.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Your not going to believe this

Yesterday I began packing. No, we haven't the faintest idea where we'll move or when we'll move there, but our agent wants us to haul away our personal, messy junk and enjoy a "spartan" lifestyle while our condo is on the market.

Everything was going fine until I accidentally wrote "CD's" on one of the boxes, in big, black Sharpie letters. I sat back and stared. CD's? c-d-APOSTROPHE-s? I don't think so, Jake! I was so mad at myself. You see, it all started when I accidentally made the "s" uppercase, and so in a flash, I went ahead and added an apostrophe, to make it look like a plural word instead of C-D-S. But then I realized that makes me about as numbskulled as the bad spellers and grammarians I mock all the time! I considered tearing the box lid off and starting over, but then I realized a better course of action would be to write "CD's" on two more boxes. Because if you are going to be wrong, be wrong so boldly that it makes others wonder if they are wrong.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Won't you be my neighbor?

Yesterday Sal and I found a house we adored. It was the first place that seemed to have almost everything we were looking for, and at a great price. We loved it so much, in fact, that we returned last night to check out the neighborhood after dark. The moment we get out of the car we hear this ear-blasting holler from across the street. "CAN I HELP YOU???"

Um ... no? We turned around and saw this woman with long stringy hair standing in her yard glaring at us. I responded that we were just looking and had been at the house earlier with our agent. But she seemed agitated, and we wanted to show her we were harmless, so we crossed the street to introduce ourselves.

First thing we notice is, she's wearing this tattered old George Strait/Coors Light T-shirt. (Now, to me, that's a plus, but Sal not so impressed.) I think she felt bad for yelling, because she tried to make us feel better by pointing out that she was just protecting the house. Because a few nights ago, she caught some people trying to break in. "They were MEX-icans," she said with a sneer that told me she hadn't paid much attention to my husband's ethnic background.

Then she went on to tell us all sorts of delightful things. Like how the house down the way had been broken into twice last year. And how she "gets sunstroke really easily," so that's why she works in her yard at night, and, you know, keeps an eye on things. Oh, and she loves animals. All animals. She "makes sure everyone has a home," and has helped raise lots of wildlife, including cats, dogs, owls, monkeys and ocelots! Oh, except four of her pets died last year. You know, because of the cancer in the water.

So, the block busybody is also a racist, ocelot-loving vampire. And she still finds time to be in charge of the Neighborhood Watch! Seriously, how soon can we move in?

Monday, March 12, 2007


I know I'll probably sound like a breathless little ninny when I tell you about this, but dude. I partied with Demi and Ashton.

Demi. And Ashton. They were at a fund-raiser my husband and I attended Saturday night at the home of a venture capitalist in Palo Alto. Like, in his living room. Where I was. Standing right next to them. Next to Demi and Ashton.
OK, I didn't really get to talk to them, because they rushed out pretty quickly after the presentation. But that's fine, because I am not good with meeting celebrities. I hid from Shirley MacLaine a few weeks ago. I hid from Paul Newman, who was also at Saturday's fund-raiser. Don't get me wrong, I love celebrities. I love to look at celebrities, talk about celebrities, read about celebrities, ponder celebrities ... I just chicken out when it comes time to actually meet one. And the reason is, I know myself. I know I will stammer and get all sweaty and the only thing that will come out is something foolish, like "Um .... wow ... I mean ... it's YOU!" So usually I save myself the embarrassment and gawk quietly from a corner.

So, some quick observations: Demi looked much younger than I would have expected, and not in that pointy, botoxy way. She kept putting her hair back into a ponytail and then taking it out again, which I think means we should be best friends, since I do that while I'm watching TV. Ashton was tall and he had fancy Hollywood hair. He looked bored out of his skull the whole time. Around his wrist, he wore a teeny red piece of Kabbalah floss. I looked it up, and that's one fancy piece of string:

The Red String protects us from the influences of the Evil Eye. Evil eye is a very powerful negative force. It refers to the unfriendly stare and unkind glances we sometimes get from people around us. Envious eyes and looks of ill will affect us, stopping us from realizing our full potential in every area of our life.

Quick, get your protection here!

But, Amy, doesn't running suck?

Yes, yes it does.

Running can suck in ways you can't even imagine. It's hard. It hurts. It's difficult to begin and easy to stop. It makes you thirsty. It makes you hungry. It even does strange things to your body. Like, I have a permanent owie on the small of my back where the my running shorts chafe my skin. I can't take a flight of stairs without wincing a little at pain in my knees. And this weekend I achieved a milestone that can only mean I am really and truly a runner: I lost a toenail.

OK, so it's not the entire toenail, but I don't care. I'm inconsolable. You see, there aren't many things I am terribly vain about. But my feet? I take care of my feet. I delight in cute toenails, pink little pads with pristine french trim. I pamper my feet. I admire my feet. I like to point my freshly painted toes to and fro, admiring the cuteness of it all.

So you can imagine my horror when, about a month ago, I noticed a small crack in the side of my right big toenail. It was right after I had a pedicure, so for awhile I was convinced I picked up some sort of horrid fungus that would rot off my legs. I was so worried I even went to see a doctor, who seemed infuriatingly bored with my problem. I also posted a frantic plea on a health/fitness message board for someone, ANYONE, to explain to me, a person who had always had healthy toes, what the hell was going on. The responses flooded in.

"Cheer up, it happens to every runner!"
"It's the running! In my last marathon, I lost four of 'em!"
"Look at it like a badge of honor!"

Honor my ass! It's so nasty. I tried to save it as long as I could, with band aids and daily coats of clear polish, but the crack grew and grew until I finally had to admit defeat. Saturday night, I snipped the bad piece off and flushed it down the toilet. And now I have a half-naked big toe. Please, if you respect me at all, do not look directly at this toe until I tell you it's safe. Check back in July.

Friday, March 9, 2007

One foot in front of the other

Something I have been meaning to write about for awhile is running. But even in my very own blog, I feel slightly sheepish calling myself a runner. And that's dumb. I have been running for four years, finished several 5Ks, one 10K and a half-marathon, and worn out three whole pairs of shoes. So I must be a runner, right? Only I have a hard time saying that, since to me, runners are .... they are just so cool. Runners are strong! Athletic! Powerful! And of course that's what I hope to be, or else why would I huff and puff through all those miles? But it's hard to believe that maybe I'm finally there.

My low running self-esteem, I think, stems from many years of being unhealthy and unathletic. In elementary school, I always had band-aids on my knees, skinned and bloody from tripping over over my own big feet on the blacktop. While on the junior high track team, I was "that girl who faints." In high school I started to smoke, and in college I drank booze and gained weight. Additionally, various athletic endeavors over the years have caused me to break one tailbone, one arm and two toes. And there have actually been NFL linebackers forced into retirement by fewer concussions than I've had. My life? Not exactly a Nike ad.

I did make halfhearted efforts to get fit. I signed up for a one-credit aerobics class in college (though my roommate and I took turns going to class, signing both names on the attendance sheet, then heading back to bed.) I also joined a gym after graduation. But I was never careful about eating, and to be honest, I don't even think that ever occurred to me. So I watched in despair as my weight crept up, up, up.

Rock bottom came in 2000 when I was shopping for a pair of pants at the Gap. I tried a size 12 (no way), the 14 (hm, strange) and then the 16 (ohgod). Nothing fit. Their biggest size did. not. fit. I sat down in the dressing room and stared at the khaki heap of material around my ankles, realizing with horror: I was too fat for the Gap. That just killed me. If I was too fat for the Gap, what else was I too fat for?! It was like, in an instant, the mall shrank by 25 stores. TOO FAT FOR THE GAP, MAN.

So, I joined Weight Watchers, a great program that helped me lose a bunch of weight. My high was 184.4, and I dropped 30 pounds in about a year, purely through food control, no exercise. Then I slowly gained back around 10 of those pounds, and there I have lingered, give or take, ever since. I began running in 2003 because I needed something new to work on. I had a fairly good grip on my food, but I wasn't moving enough. I also really wanted to quit smoking, and I knew exercise could make that easier. In a burst of hope (mixed with absolute terror), I signed up for my first 5K that March. And that little race was one of the neatest things I ever did. Pinning the race number to my shirt, doing my stretches, being with all those happy trim folks who looked so eager and so healthy ... it was like an ex-fat-girl's dream come true.

And while it was exhilarating to cross the finish line, getting there was not easy. So, in some races they have professional photographers who snap a picture of everyone who runs by, then later they try to sell them to you. Well, there's a great photo of me midway through this race in which I am white as a sheet. My body is slumped over, my jaw is hanging open, and my sweaty face is contorted into this grimace of pure agony. And surrounding me? Three little kids, beaming, bouncing, LAUGHING little kids, frolicking their merry way toward the finish line. I did not purchase this photo.

Since then, the racing, and the training, have gotten easier. I ran my first half-marathon in October in downtown San Jose, and finishing it was one of the best moments of my life. Next month I'll run the Santa Cruz Half-Marathon. I don't do it because I think I'll win, I just want to improve on my time. And maybe just a little, I want to look cool.

Monday, March 5, 2007

And I totally saw it coming.

I never felt more like a Californian than I did this weekend, which began with my husband and I touring roughly $9.8 million dollars worth of real estate, after we felt an earthquake, while hanging out with a movie star.

I have lived in the Golden State for nearly eight years now (three in Bakersfield, and coming up on five in San Jose) and have never noticed even one rumble. So it was to my great delight that on Thursday night I experienced a real, live earthquake! It was weird, and cool. I was sitting in the Center for Performing Arts in downtown San Jose listening to a talk by the fabulous Shirley MacLaine. It was very "Inside the Actor's Studio." Just her on a stage, talking about her life, her past lives, her darling dog, her travels ... it was riveting. If you are a Shirley MacLaine fan, I can assure you that she is every bit as beautiful and bad-assed as you'd imagine. After her talk, I was at a reception where she marched in and complained that the room was hot. "Someone turn the air on!" she thundered. But everyone just sort of stood around staring at her, mouths gaping (she really and truly has that effect, more than any other celeb I have ever seen in real life). Then she asked if someone could open the doors that lead outside. One of the ushers said nope, we can't have random folks off the street storming the place, you know? And I had to agree. I mean, YOU'RE SHIRLEY MACLAINE, MAN. Well, with a roll of her eyes she marched right down to those doors and flung them wide open. Then she barked at the startled ushers to grab chairs to prop them open. And then she made fun of the theater's ugly carpet. It was tremendous.

But back to the action: So I'm sitting in the balcony of this old and majestic theater, and peering down at that tiny stage was making me a little dizzy. I mean, we were way, WAY up there. I whispered to Sal that I didn't particularly care to be so high, thinking he would be sympathetic, as he's not much for heights himself. He said he was actually OK with our seats, since there were at least five rows between us and the ledge. Then his comedian wife elbows him in the ribs and says, "Yeah! But all it'll take is one little earthquake to catapult us over the edge! Ha! Ha ha! HA!"


Could that be any weirder? Could I possibly be more impressive? It was about an hour into the show when I felt my seat rumble back and forth. Kind of like when you're on a plane taking off. Right away I turned around, for some reason expecting to see a very, very large person clomping down the aisle. And the funny thing is, at that precise moment, there WAS this fat guy with a cane two rows back, tottering toward the exit. But he didn't seem big enough to shake the entire place, and then it was over so quickly that I kind of forgot about it.

But when I got home, I checked my e-mail, and sure enough the U.S. Geological Survey automated service I signed up for a few years ago had sent me an alert! It looked like this:


Geographic coordinates: 37.901N, 122.098W
Magnitude: 4.4 Ml
Depth: 16 km
Universal Time (UTC): 2 Mar 2007 04:40:00
Time near the Epicenter: 1 Mar 2007 20:40:00
Local time in your area: 2 Mar 2007 04:40:00

Location with respect to nearby cities:
2 km (1 miles) NE (48 degrees) of Lafayette, CA
5 km (3 miles) WSW (257 degrees) of Walnut Creek, CA
6 km (4 miles) SSW (202 degrees) of Pleasant Hill, CA
10 km (6 miles) SW (224 degrees) of Concord, CA
31 km (20 miles) ENE (63 degrees) of San Francisco City Hall, CA

Over in mere seconds, but it was enough to thrill this California girl to pieces. Oh, and as for the real estate ... well, that came in the form of about 14 homes we saw on our first tour with an agent. Some of the houses were lovely, and some of them were downright horrid. We learned it helps a lot if you give the houses nicknames, like The Brady Bunch House, The Expensive House, and The Serial Killer House. (Turns out, we can probably afford to buy that last one.)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Pillow talk

Me: I love you.

Him: I love you, too.

Me: No, I mean, I REALLY love you.

Him: Oh. ... Yeah, that's not what I meant.