Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Waiting for the kiddies

Only two pumpkins were harmed in the making of this blog post.

The damage

At right you'll see the extent of the havoc wreaked by last night's 5.6 earthquake here in San Jose. A few bottles knocked over in the shower. It might not appear thrilling, but for four or five seconds, I can assure you it was.

My husband and I were in his office, which is a finished room off our garage. We were cleaning, organizing papers, building bookshelves and, sorting through various boxes. OK, fine, I was online, ordering a pizza. But still. So I'm sitting at the computer when I felt my feet moving. Then I heard this noise, and I turned around because I thought Sal was doing something. For the tiniest sliver of a moment, before I could realize how absurd this is, I wondered in my head: "Why is Sal shaking the office?" Then I heard him yell "OUT! OUT!" So I bolted for the door, with him right behind me. And Chickenbone was a country mile ahead of both of us.

But by the time we got into the back yard, it was practically over. I turned around and saw the four swag lamps hanging in the office, and they were swinging like pendulums. My heart was thumping. It was the most exciting thing ever. You see, I have felt tiny earthquakes before. But then again, sometimes I think I just wanted to feel an earthquake so much that I just made myself THINK I felt it. There was no question last night.

It seems like most folks had the same experience as us, a few books knocked over, or bottles toppled. Nothing too dramatic. But imagine being my friends who were walking through the Body Worlds exhibit when it happened. Freakin' corpses swinging from the rafters, man!

Friday, October 26, 2007

No, sir, YOU suck it.

While sitting at a red light this afternoon, I heard a horn blare behind me. In the rear-view mirror I saw a man in a truck angrily motioning for me to scoot up so he could get on the freeway on-ramp. Except there was no room to move up, because of the cars stopped in front of me. So I shrugged my shoulders, and he thrust his middle finger into the air and mouthed a big old "eff you."

Light turned green, and I proceeded. Almost immediately I noticed in the mirror a different car, a dirty black Nissan veering crazily back and forth, trying to snake ahead of all the traffic. At the exact moment this car got behind me, the car in front of me slowed down. So I pressed on the brakes, which sent the Nissan guy into a sputtering fury. Middle fingers and effs all OVER the place.

Well, this pissed me off. For one, I already got road-raged, didn't he see that? It happened like two seconds ago! For two, yet again, this was no fault of mine. When the car in front of you slows down, you slow down. But this guy, he was boiling over. Well, I did something I really shouldn't have done. I know this, because who knows, maybe I was inviting a rifle shot to the head. But I turned around, flashed him a big, bright grin, and raised my hand in the air for a friendly wave. A cute little "Toodle-oo!" wiggle of the fingers. He waved his arms wildly and I saw him call me an effing bitch. So I raised my hand again, curling my fingers into the A-OK sign. He gunned the engine and nearly clipped my car while steering around me, charging toward the intersection.

Well, as good fortune would have it, he was stopped by a red light, and I was in the turn lane directly next to him. And I was all ready to stir up some more smart-assed antagonistic shit when I saw something that makes my jaw drop. A woman in the passenger seat. A WOMAN?!?! Dude has a woman?!? But wait, there's more! So he's still all enraged with me, and because we're growing bored with the middle finger, he began pointing wildly at his crotch, over and over again, and mouthing at me to "suck it." I looked at him, looked at her, looked back at him, and I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. You see, your average woman in this situation would be slouched down in her seat, face buried in her hands because she can't believe what an incredible douchebag she ended up with. But this chick? She has actually opened her mouth into an O, curled her thumb and fingers into a circle next to her cheek, AND SHE IS ANGRILY MAKING THE UNIVERSAL SIGN OF THE B.J. AT ME.

Before I could see how this road-rage porn scene would end, the light turned green and they blazed off. And all I could think to myself was, man, that couple is gonna raise some AWESOME kids.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

10 things, seemingly unrelated

1. My new deodorant has caused a scorching red rash on both my armpits. Sorry, Mitchum Smart Solid Anti-Perspirant. My little black dress may approve of you, but I do not.

2. While trimming the lavender bush in my front yard, I saw a weed sticking out. So I reached over and gave it a firm yank. When thorns sank into my skin, I realized it was not a weed at all, but in fact it was a miniature rose bush, living back there in a thicket of darkness, where nobody even knew it existed. So I cut the lavender way back, tied the little guy to a thin green pole, and waited. Three weeks later, there are six or seven bright red blooms, and I swear to god it's six inches taller. I ask you, how often in life does one find a rosebush one never knew one had?

3. My favorite new drink: Grey Goose on the rocks, with a splash of pineapple juice. Try it. It's perfect. Not too boozy, not too sugary, the perfect sipping cocktail.

4. The big diet began this week (evidently training for a half-marathon doesn't help you lose even one puny little ounce of weight), so when someone handed me a fun-size bag of peanut M&Ms yesterday, I looked up the nutritional value on my favorite weight-loss web site. Six M&Ms = 110 calories, 5 grams of fat. FOR SIX M&MS.

5. Seems Ugg boots are trying to make a comeback. Can that really be? They were awful the first time. GODawful. Get back to your ugly arctic ice cave, Uggs!

6. I toy with the idea of buying Except I don't know how. And I wouldn't know what to do next. I don't know how to transfer content from this blog to another one. And also, I want my own logo at the top of my page. And a clever little blurb to put under the title. And how can I get my stupid e-mail address over on the left to show up as a link instead of plain text? I'm also sick of looking at the Blogger templates I use, so I want a new one of those, too.

7. When you are too tired for real cooking: Mix two cans of Rotel tomatoes and peppers, one can of corn, one can of fat-free refried beans, one can of chicken broth, and one package of precooked chicken breast, broken into chunks. Heat for 30 minutes, then serve, with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Hearty and nutritious.

8. My husband and I are on vacation next week. Big plans include cleaning the gutters, organizing the garage and office, figuring out how to use the fireplace, painting the bathroom, visiting the Body Worlds exhibit at the Tech Museum, and having a fabulously extravagant meal at a four-star restaurant.

9. Last night, Chickenbone jumped up into my lap and barfed all over my pajamas. I'm not even sure it's possible for a dog to look mortified, but I'm telling you, he did.

10. A Halloween joke I learned as a kid:
Q: Why couldn't the witch have babies?
A: Because of popcorn balls and hollow weenies.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Last night I noticed a delightful new comment on my post about the spider in my front yard. It was written by a stranger who stumbled on this blog while doing research on her own marbled orbweaver. The commenter said she's scared of spiders, too. But then again, she got close enough to capture her spider, put it in a water bottle, and feed it ants, so maybe her kind of scared is more intellectual and curious, while mine is more Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Anyway, it reminded me that I forgot to share an update with you, which is that last week? Well ... down came the rain. And washed the spider out.

Believe it or not, I was quite sad to see him go. (Sad, and also a little afraid that maybe took a liking to me -- me, who would go outside a dozen times a day, stand under his web and squint up at him -- and moved into the guest room.) But every time I saw him, I felt a little proud that I hadn't yet squashed him flat. I was just ... cool, you know? Like, "Hey, orange spider. What's shakin."

And wherever he went, the others must have gone, too. I swear, for more than a week, every time I turned around there was another friggin' spider in my house. I'm thinking there must be some sort of spider season when the weather turns chilly, and they all come scrambling into your house to try to stay warm. I'm talking five, six, seven spiders a day! Tragically, many of them lost their little lives, but we were able to scoot a couple back into the great outdoors.

Where, now that I think about it, they probably went ahead and died from the cold. So I guess that wasn't so humane after all.


In other words, "Are you going to finish that Lean Pocket?"

Friday, October 19, 2007


Last night I spent a few hours wandering down memory lane with shoeboxes of old photographs and a half-bottle of pinot noir. I was collecting pictures for a scrapbook I'm making for my best friend from college, a soul sister and fellow seeker of good times who shall be known here as M. This autumn, M and I celebrated 10 years of being friends, and she came up with the idea of making each other scrapbooks as an anniversary gift.

Anyhow, I ran across some photos of my old Halloween costumes. Since it's October, and this magical day of make-believe will soon be upon us, I thought I'd share:

1999: Saloon girl

I rented this lacy, mint-green dress from a costume shop. The day of the party -- which I hosted at my very first apartment, in Bakersfield, Calif. -- I went to a cheap hair salon, where they made my mop into a mountain of ringlets and pinned them up with a white feather comb. For my shoes, I removed the rollers from some old skates purchased at goodwill.

2000: Blind mouse

I was one of two blind mice that evening, and guess what? You know the other mouse! We donned dark grey sweatsuits and hot-glued big pink felt ovals onto our bellies. We made mousy ears using plastic headbands, styrofoam and more pink felt, and then we popped on some dark sunglasses.

2003: Roxie Hart

M and I, obsessed with "Chicago," decided to celebrate as Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart at San Francisco's Ruby Skye. We even watched the movie on pay-per-view in our hotel room while we dressed and did our makeup. Both costumes were handmade -- M did her own, while I relied on a talented seamstress friend to sew mine. We wore wigs and carried silver cap guns. We were hot.

2004: Miss California

Another holiday with M, and this time we celebrated in Santa Fe, N.M., at a nightclub called Swig. I wore an old bridesmaid gown made of blue satin, and created the beauty-queen banner with wide plastic ribbon and sticky letters. A tiara, long white gloves and a 12-dollar bouquet of roses completed the costume. (P.S. Miss California only smokes when she drinks. Really!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The race

It isn't often that one can feel good about finishing in 6,240th place. But when you have more than 11 thousand competitors, I believe this becomes perfectly respectable.

Even better, consider that only 8,787 people even managed to FINISH the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in downtown San Jose. So even if my worst loserville nightmare of coming in last had actually come true, I still would have finished better than 3,000 people.

Some more numbers: I ran the 13.1-mile race in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 20 seconds. This is almost a four-minute improvement over last year, which is impressive only because I didn't exactly follow a traditional running-based training program. (But on that note, I guess yoga ain't exactly for the wussies, now, is it, SUCKA!!!!) Also, I had another one of those stupid sharp cramps sneak up on me at mile 11. Only this time, instead of getting all panicked and blubbering like a five-year-old, I calmly came to a walk until it subsided after a minute or so, and then I began to run again. No big deal. Happened two more times, including a nasty jolt of pain as I sprinted toward the finish line, but at that point, who the eff cares?

I wish I had lots of ridiculous sights and comical moments to write about, but on the other hand it feels great to say the race was simply an all-out blast. I can't even describe how cool it felt to turn the corner onto Santa Clara Street on mile 4 and see thousands of beaming people lining the street, like it was a freaking holiday parade. I just couldn't believe my eyes. Hollering, clapping, ringing cowbells, waving their arms, reaching out to high-five us or pat us on the back as we ran by. I mean, that kind of thing just doesn't HAPPEN to regular old boring adults who spend every day in a cubicle. "Hey, I just finished editing that girls golf story." "WOOO-HOOOO! ALL RIGHT, AMY! YOU'RE AWESOME! YOU ROCK! YOU SOOOO ROCK!" Um, no.

One more cool moment: While I was enjoying my post-race meal of an In-N-Out double-double with a side of my own french fries (no sharing, that's the rule after a race) this guy came up to me and said "Congratulations!" Now, I was wearing the race T-shirt, but this dude wasn't, so I was confused about how he knew. Then he grinned and pointed down at his feet, clad in the plastic sandals every runner got after crossing the finish line. Then he limped over to wolf down his own cheeseburger. I'm glad we all recognize the REAL prize at the end of a 13-mile run.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Running scared

Most people passing through downtown San Jose this week would probably see this sign and think, "Cool!" Or "Huh." Me? I'm more of an "OHGOD, OHGOD, OHGOD" kind of girl.

This Sunday, I'm taking part in the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, which will be my third time running such a distance. I signed up back in April, fueled by a ferocious burst of optimism as I recovered from my painful half-marathon finish in Santa Cruz. "This!" I said, finger waving wildly in the air. "This! Will be my triumphant return!"

Only now I have stage fright. Because recently I realized I may have made a grave mistake in how I trained for this race.

Again I decided to follow Hal Higdon's intermediate half-marathon program. Unfortunately the 12-week training plan coincided with the summer I fell in love with yoga. Which, like running, is another pastime I pursue despite a total lack of talent. I was on a roll, doing yoga three days per week and improving a little with each class. And I didn't want to give that up. So I would, you know, just sorta bypass a Wednesday track workout, or a Friday tempo run, in favor of grueling, sweaty 75-minute yoga workouts. Workouts that made my muscles feel strong, and lean, and pleasantly warm for the rest of the day. Plus, I told myself, I'm still working out four or five days a week. It's not as though I've spent the past 11 weeks on the couch with a bag of Cheetos.

But a couple weeks ago, a terrifying realization hit me: To train for this race? I WAS SUPPOSED TO RUN A LOT. But instead of the prescribed 4-5 runs per week, I have been doing 2-3.

But often, uh, 2.

Dammit! So now I'm a little freaked out. Like I'm going to be in a play on Sunday and I forgot to memorize my lines. Now, if there is one thing that will save me, it's that I did every single long-distance run in the plan. These are critical. Each Sunday I drag my sorry self down to the Los Gatos Creek Trail for long runs, and then longer runs, and then even longer runs, the final being 10 miles. And that distance I did two weeks in a row. So it's not like running 13.1 miles is utterly beyond possibility.

Yet for some reason I have it in my head that had I just done EXACTLY what ol' Hal told me to do, I'd probably finish this race with the friggin' Kenyans. But since I veered so crazily off-course, into the mystical land of downward-facing dogs and eight-parts bowing, I'm gonna choke.

It would probably be wise to revisit the goals I had last October. I, a person who was once so unathletic I would hyperventilate after a single lap around the track, was preparing for my first half-marathon ever. My goals were thus: 1) Don't die. 2) Don't throw up. 3.) Don't walk. That's it. Simple as that. And I'm fairly sure that on Sunday, with the right attitude and a favor from the angry gods of cramp, I can accomplish these goals again.

And, I guess if it all goes to hell, at least I'll have something to blog about.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Girl talk

Notable moments from my OB/GYN checkup today, otherwise known in secret womanly terms as "The Annual":

1. While flipping through a parenting book (no, I am not pregnant, and no, I don't plan to be pregnant anytime soon. This just happened to be the only available reading material, so settle down, mom) I read the following words describing infant poop: "putty," "curd" and "cake batter." Um, ew.

2. A teenage girl is standing at the counter waiting to schedule an appointment. In between smacks of gum, she asks "OB? What's OB?" The receptionist replies, "That means obstetrician." Girl stares blankly. Receptionist: "A BABY doctor." Now, is it OK that a 17-year-old girl doesn't know that word? Did I not know it back then? Because I feel like I did know it. I feel like it is probably not OK.

3. About a decade ago, I was having abdominal pain. Turned out to be ovarian cysts, which aren't usually a big deal and were subsequently removed. But during one of many exams that year, a doctor informed me I had a "tilted" uterus. I very clearly remember him describing it as "backwards." While this anatomical curiosity is found in roughly 20 percent of women, I was alarmed as hell, and for years every time I saw the med-school drawing of womanly parts, I was a little disappointed that I didn't look like that. Well, today I mentioned this to the physician's assistant, who looked at me like I'm nuts. "Umm... no. Nope, your uterus is fine. It's in the right place." She said either that dude was wrong, or somehow my body corrected itself since then. And I was so delighted by this news that I wished I could somehow give my uterus a great big hug.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hey, remember when I said I like spiders?

Well, I'm pretty sure they ALL heard me.

Yesterday I was working in the garden when I looked up and saw one crawling along the bill of my ballcap. Yeah, the one on my HEAD. Then I went to work, and one of my reporters had a spider drop down from the ceiling onto his keyboard. This morning, I shooed one out of the laundry room and into the back yard, and tonight, I discovered one in the office, and then again in the laundry room.

I also had dinner tonight with a girlfriend who told this story: She was walking beneath some trees when she ran facefirst into a spiderweb the size of the one in my front yard. It got all tangled up in her hair, a sticky, stringy mess. She picked it all off and thought the story was over, but 20 minutes later while standing in her kitchen, she felt something crawling in her sleeve. Looked down at her arm and then BOOP! Out of her sleeve crawls a fat orange spider. She believes it crawled through her hair, down through the neck of her long-sleeved shirt, and then along her entire arm before she noticed it. I went online and pulled up the picture of the marbled orbweaver (same as my front-yard visitor) and sure enough, she swears that's the exact spider she saw.

By the way? This is not an invitation to tell me your worst spider story. In fact, I told my friend she is grounded from ever telling me another story again, ever. This subject is giving me the major heebs.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Heard a gasp come from the front yard yesterday morning and I went outside to find my husband and mother-in-law staring up at the eave of our house. There, billowing gently in the breeze, was a spiderweb the size of a wagon wheel. And perched in the middle of it was the fattest, gnarliest arachnid I have ever laid eyes on.

This sucker is the size of a friggin' egg. He has a bright orange body, with flesh textured by swirls and strange markings. Very unusual legs. A couple of them extend upward, two pointy, jointed outreached arms. The rest dangle down in one leggy clump. The web itself is magnificent, countless rings and a geometrically perfect pattern.

My mother-in-law suggested that we get rid of that thing. "But .... how?!" I wondered. She looked up at him with narrowed eyes. "I'd shoot him," she said.

Normally, I couldn't agree more. Since childhood, I have been a trembling, hyperventilating arachnophobe. At the sight of even the tiniest house spider, I'd freeze, and from my lungs would burst a screech like I was watching an axe murderer chop my mother to bits. Even as an adult, I still have occasional nightmares about giant spiders dropping down from the ceiling onto my face. The dream is so realistic that I literally leap out of bed and bolt across the room, petrified. You know what else? I got so sick of flipping open my dictionary at work and ALWAYS having it open right to the tarantula listing (with the appropriately frightful drawing) that a few years ago I got a sharpie and blacked out the picture:

So now here I stand, staring up at my worst nightmare dangling from my rooftop, and I realize the most unbelievable thing: I'm not scared. In fact, as we discuss ways to, er, "handle" the situation -- like with a broom, or bug spray that has some SERIOUSLY long-distance spraying power -- I feel kinda sad about ruining things like that. And when I think about the spider dying, Chickenbone's face keeps popping into my mind.

Isn't that completely ridiculous? I know it is. I just wrote that sentence and already I'm embarrassed about it. But I'm starting to think that having a dog has made me think a little differently about something like a spider. I mean, this orange creature? He's just a little guy, just like Chickens. Just a little guy trying to get along in the world! And his web, way up there on the rooftop? It isn't exactly bothering me. It's not like it's draped over my pillow or something. Plus, he worked really, really hard on it! You can tell. It is so intricate and big! And then if we just go and kill him? I don't know, it just seems so mean now!

Now I'm sure there are limits to my newfound compassion for nature. If this sucker even THINKS about putting even one of his scary spider feet into my home, he's getting a hammer in the back. (A hammer tied to a broomstick tied to a mop, but a hammer nonetheless!) But for now I think we'll all keep an eye on each other and see if we can't just calmly go about our business.

Here's a picture, though honestly, you're going to have to trust me that this dude is so, so much bigger than a photograph could ever illustrate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Let's all have a comment, shall we?

The Great Mofo Delurk 2007

Greetings! Today I am participating in "The Great Mofo Delurk" (click the button above for info). Why? Because I support Schmutzie, and because blog comments bring me such joy! You really have no idea, these vast amounts of joy. (Unless you have a blog, too, in which case you do have an idea. And also in which case you should expect a comment from me today, because this here Mofo is going to put down the lurk and say hello to you!)

Would you like to bring me some joy? Post a comment today! I would really love to hear from you. You. I don't even know who "YOU" is! My little site counter thinger says I had 20 unique hits on this page yesterday. But, like, I only know of seven or eight regular readers of this blog. THAT IS CRAZY, MAN! Who are you people? Are you my friends? My enemies? Is there anybody reading this who has actually never met me in person? I think that would be the wildest thing ever. OK, so here goes. Don't be shy. Let's all go post a comment on our favorite blogs today. Spread some joy, Mofos.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Puckered up

A few months ago I was invited to try makeup products and review them for the paper. This sounded like a refreshing change from my typical work duties, which happen in a sports department and rarely include fun things like dual lip and cheek cream, or pearlized eye shimmers. So of course I said yes, even though I have to do it on my own time, and it kinda felt like working for free.

But after a few weeks of testing, it finally dawned on me that I might actually get to KEEP this stuff. I mean, who's going to want to use a lip product I have been smearing all over my big ol' mouth every single day?! So I asked, and sure enough, you get to keep everything you test. So that's the cool part: Try fabulous and expensive beauty products, write little blurbs about whether you like them, and keep all the stuff! This week I reviewed three lip plumpers. Read my expert opinion here.