Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This photo cost me $20 and ten years off my life.

Do you see that face? That is the face of a woman who had no idea she was about to almost die 37 times in that very car. Yet thanks to a gruff but incredibly talented racing instructor named Mike, I lived to tell the tale of my four-lap, 160-mph spin around the Texas Motor Speedway.

When we heard we'd be treated to a race car ride at this conference, many of us thought it would go like this: A little car would chug over and pick us up, one at a time, for a lap around the track. You know, something ladylike. Instead we were first deposited into the Speedway Club, a nine-story entertainment facility overlooking the track, where they filled us with pizza, tacos and free booze. Which I'm pretty sure was meant to prep us for the two-page waiver we had to sign down on the infield. As we stood around a table scribbling dozens of initials and signatures as fast as we could, I asked if the group anybody was actually reading this stuff. "NO!!!" came the gleeful chorus. Good girls.

Then we climbed into fire suits and helmets and lined up next to ten stock cars. Ten! This shit is for real! And here comes Racing Instructor Mike, who helps me into the car. As he was strapping me into a web of, like, seven seat belts, he asks what I'm doing here. "Um ... I'm here to ride in a race car?" He gives me a long, tired look and says slowly, "No, I mean, who ARE you people?" Ah.

Anyway, no more chitchat, because soon the engines start. The car starts to fill up with fumes, and my heart starts thumping so hard. The rumble of the engine rattles your guts, even before you take off. It's too loud to talk, so we just sit there waiting for the crew to check all the cars. Then I feel a tap on my knee. I look over and Mike gives me a questioning thumbs up. Thumbs back up to you, Racing Instructor Mike!

Then we took off, and surprisingly it wasn't the speed at all that scared me most. No, what really made me poop my fire suit was going 160 mph NEXT TO NINE OTHER CARS. Those drivers were really fooling around, too. Trading places, zigging and zagging, swooping and sliding ... I don't think I breathed once the entire two minutes, I'm serious. Didn't blink, either, no, not once, because I couldn't peel my eyes off the bumper of the car TWO INCHES IN FRONT OF US. Or the fender of the car TWO INCHES FROM MY DOOR. The best part, though, was in the middle of the last lap when Mike actually removes his helmet. There's a hook dangling from the roof of the car, and he's trying to hang it up there. But he can't quite get it, so he turns his head to stare at the hook, steering with one WRIST on the wheel while the other hand fiddles with the effing helmet. And this, friends, is why moments later Mike had to literally lift my shaking form out of the car and set me on the ground. I proceeded directly to the bar, took off my sweaty helmet, and swigged a cold can of Bud Light.

P.S. The rumor was evidently untrue, and Christine Daniels did not attend the conference. But I did shamelessly eavesdrop on two reporters talking about Lisa Dillman being out of the country right now. And that Lisa has said she knew of Christine's transsexuality long before the rest of us did.

Monday, May 21, 2007

How I grew old in Dallas, Texas

Our conference includes a tour of the The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and we walk past a wall of photographs chronicling JFK's marriage and family life.

"Wow," one gum-smacking intern remarks to her friend, evidently staring at Jackie Kennedy for the very first time. "His wife was cute."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Taking a little trip

Tomorrow I'm getting on an airplane and flying to Dallas. Every time I tell somone I'm going to Dallas, they cringe. But truly, lots of fun things await me there!

I'm going to attend a conference for the Association of Women in Sports Media, otherwise known as AWSM, and cheesily pronounced as "Awesome." I'm really looking forward to it, and not just because it's a break from office and home-buying chaos. It's also because I get to ride in a race car! Seriously. On Friday night we're going to Texas Motor Speedway, where I'll take a ride in a race car at 150 mph for four laps. I also get to wear a "fire suit," which I presume is to keep the barf from getting on my clothes.

The conference itself should be neat, too. Dave Barry is the keynote speaker at the gala Saturday night, for one thing. And for another, I hear Christine Daniels will be attending. Do you know Christine Daniels? She is the L.A. Times sportswriter formerly known as Mike Penner, who last month wrote in the newspaper that he is changing his gender. I have been following this story closely, mostly because I have always been mystified about transsexualism. I'm not against it, I just plain don't understand it. But Christine explains it in a way I can digest. And the story of her struggle, which she is still telling on her blog, is quite gripping.

Then there's the matter of the hotel. I just adore staying in nice hotels. Last night I was reading the description of this one, and my toes curled to read about the Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries, the down pillows, the 250-thread-count sheets. I don't even know what an "ion hair dryer" is, but I'm sure as shit glad I'll have one in Dallas. And I am trying to enjoy all this anticipation as much as possible now, because I know what will happen when I'm actually there. I'll climb into in that big comfy bed and realize that sleeping without my husband, and my little dog curled up under the blankets next to my stomach, pretty much sucks. And even something called a "Serenity Bed Super Topper mattress pad" won't help.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Seven things (plus seven more)

My friend Robyn "tagged" me last week. This must be like a blog version of those e-mail chain letters, minus the nasty threats. Robyn is a great friend I met while attending journalism classes at the good ol' University of New Mexico. She has an online business that specializes in pretty handmade things, and you should go have a look. I already bought a beautiful pillow. And I fight the urge to buy, like, every single purse she makes.

OK, on with this tag business. The rules:

Start with 7 random facts/habits about yourself.
People who are tagged have to write their 7 things on their blog.
Then choose another 7 people to get tagged and list their names.
Don't forget to leave them a comment to tell them they have been tagged and to read your blog.

OK, are you with me? Here goes:

1. When I'm sick the only meal I want is diet 7-Up and Kraft Spiral Macaroni & Cheese. NOT. ELBOW. Spiral.

2. I sleep with my feet sticking out of the bottom of the covers, even when it's cold.

3. When I was a bridesmaid in a wedding last July, it was really hot and streams of sweat were staining my taffeta gown. So I borrowed breastfeeding pads from another bridesmaid and stuffed them under my boobs. This saved the day.

4. I keep score at baseball games.

5. For the first two weeks we had Chickenbone, I despised him and wondered how I could convince the shelter to take him back. I said repeatedly that I "hate his furry little guts."

6. I like to think of myself as a foodie, except I dip my pizza in ranch dressing and spread strawberry jam on my Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit.

7. Just now I Googled both "Kraft Spiral Macaroni & Cheese" and "Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit" to make sure that my use of ampersands in these product names is correct.

And because in some ways this really is HIS blog, here are seven things about Chickenbone:

1. There is no hobby he enjoys more than slowly and methodically tearing napkins and paper towels into tiny bits of confetti.

2. He never has bad breath.

3. Before he goes to sleep, he painstakingly wraps himself up in a blue blanket, so that every single bit of him is covered. We refer to this as being "in burrito."

4. His favorite stuffed animal is that long skinny thing from the PetSmart commercials, whom we have named "Yellow Dog.'' Because Chickens chews on its face until white, fluffy brains come bursting out, we have gone through at least a half-dozen Yellow Dogs.

5. He watches CSI every afternoon on the couch with his dad.

6. His favorite dog treat is dried pig ears.

7. When Chickenbone's mom first glimpsed him in a cage at the rescue shelter, she said he was "que feo.''

But whom shall I tag now?! Most of the bloggers I read don't know who I am. (My, that sounds stalkerish.) OK, wait, I thought of a few. I tag Beth, Shraddha and Sheila. Have fun!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

He also kills the spiders

I was already running late this morning when I peeled the little piece of foil off the top of my new deodorant and started twisting the dial that pushes the gel up to the top.

And twisting.

And twisting.

Nothing comes out. I start spinning the dial furiously, staring at the three little dispenser holes, but nothing happens. I moan in disgust.

Sal - who, I'd like to point out, was TWO ENTIRE ROOMS AWAY - hears this and asks what's wrong. I tell him my new deodorant is broken. "Give me that," he says.

Thirty minutes, a hand towel, a screwdriver and probably several swear words later, he has performed this crazy husband magic and transplanted all of the gel INTO THE OLD EMPTY CONTAINER.

And if you think this was the moment I realized again how deeply I adore this man, you'd be wrong. That didn't happen until he looked at me worriedly and said, "My hands smell like women's armpits."

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The sale, as they say, is pending

So it hasn't been much fun to blog lately, as I was trying to keep my trap shut about something very big because I didn't want to jinx it. And keeping my trap shut? Not one of my best talents. But I think the coast is finally clear, and I can declare with a reasonable amount of certainty that my husband and I have found ourselves a house.

A house! A house! It's true! I'm so glad to say it here, finally. We actually made the offer several weeks ago, so I have been dying to write about it, but I wanted to wait until we completed all the paperwork and inspections. Assuming a bolt of lightening didn't crack down just now and set the place ablaze, we'll move there early next month.

Let me tell you about my new house. It is just the prettiest house! It's a Craftsman with two bedrooms and one bathroom, built all the way back in 1916. It has a front porch with a swing, and a back yard that is mostly shaded by a giant peppercorn tree. A tree! For Chickens to pee on! In the living room, there's a fireplace, built-in bookcases, and a picture window topped with little panes of green-colored glass. There are beautiful wood floors, and a kitchen with so many cabinets I could weep tears of joy. And guarding the entryway to the back yard are two little stone statues shaped like lions. I get the biggest kick out of those!

But besides all that neat stuff, it is an unspeakable relief to shed a little of the fear and anxiety that has kept me awake many a recent night. Turns out selling property and buying property, simultaneously, is no fun. Especially if you are a rookie like me. For one thing, you have to study and memorize an entirely new vocabulary. Want to see? Flashing! Contingencies! Soffits! Disclosures! MLS, and DOM, and PITI! Impressive, no? For another thing, the uncertainty of this process was making me bonkers. Like, the day our condo went on the market, I was thrilled. I just knew someone would scoop it up immediately, and probably for a LOT more money than we were asking. So when it didn't sell the first weekend, I was devastated. Then we get an offer. (I'm thrilled!) But we don't like it. (Devastated.) Then some more people want to see it. (Thrilled!) But days pass and we hear nothing. (Devastated.) That has pretty much been my pattern for weeks, and let me tell you, I'm exhausted.

Then there's the search for the new place. See, what would have been perfect is to sell the condo right before we found the house, avoiding complications like getting a bridge loan, or temporarily living in a park. But since we didn't know when the heck our place would sell, it seemed smart to house-hunt all the friggin' time, just in case. So that's how we spent every spare minute of our lives. And poor Sal kept having to peel my finger off the trigger every time we'd find a place that was even remotely tolerable. I'd be like, "Ohmigod! THIS! IS! IT! I just know it!" Now, of course, I feel foolish, because none of those houses could hold a candle to this one. But man, I just had no idea what I was doing. I got so worried that we wouldn't find THE perfect house for us. And I feared we'd sell our condo and have nowhere to go and be forced to buy a place we hated or couldn't afford.

Well, about a week after we accepted an offer on the condo, we visited this house. And though Sal was stoic and unimpressed with virtually every other house we saw (and I'm talking maybe 50 places), he did not hesitate about this one. We crossed the street to the car after that first visit, and he turned around to give the house a long look before calmly declaring, "That is the house we are going to buy." (This, by the way, is such a Sal moment. This man is the very definition of calm, cool and collected. Completely the opposite of his rather excitable and noisy wife. And it's only because of his patience and composure that we didn't end up living across the street from the ocelot lady.)

The moment he said this, my incessant yapping during this long process finally ceased. I was speechless. I stared at the house and couldn't possibly believe I'd be so lucky that I might get to live there. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not some huge fancy mansion. It's actually quite modest. There's just one potty, and one of the bedrooms doesn't even have a closet. It's also a century old, meaning it'll need a lot more TLC than anything Sal or I have lived in before. But there's such a good vibe in this house. It's comfortable and charming, and something about it just instantly felt very right for us.

Anyway, check out a couple of photos, which I pilfered off the MLS listing:

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sew funny (HA! haha! um.)

Old sewing patterns might not seem like a barrel of laughs, but this site never fails to send me into a fit of giggles. A few of my favorites:

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A recipe for you

Since many of you have asked, I will explain that these five ingredients are not, in fact, a recipe for dizziness, nausea and an unholy morning-after headache. Well, OK, maybe they are. But before all that, you can enjoy the tasty good times offered by the "beergarita"! Perhaps the tale of my beergarita discovery is best told by this e-mail, which I just dug out of my sent basket:

-----Original Message-----
From: Amy
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:08 PM
To: Tim
Subject: this mite be considered drunk e-mailing

ok so the other day on this diet web site i do (oh! my food diary! i told you about tha!) i saw this person who mentioned something about having too mnay "beergaritas." i reply: "OMG. i absolutely must know what a beergarita is." so the person replies, that it is a mixture of one can of frozen limeade, plus one canfull of tequila, plus two beers. in my head, this is both nauseating and intriguing. i think about it constantly for two days. tonight on way home from work, i purchase beergarita ingredients.
omg, it effing rocks

i love you, beergarita. where have you been all my life?

p.s. i am pretty sure i spelled "intriguing" correctly in this e-mail, which is very fucking impressive.