Thursday, December 31, 2009

If I was still a kid—or even a college student—the past week would have looked a lot different.

Being sick generally makes a helpless baby out of me. The minute my face first got that dry feeling on Saturday (for me, always the first sign of an impending sinus problem or nasty cold), I would have retreated to the family room. I would have spent all day curled up in my corner of the couch, swathed in my blue fleece blanket, drinking tea and watching movies. I would probably have my laptop within reach, along with whatever books I was feeling too stupid to read. I probably would have slept 10-11 hours every night.

Instead, since I'm no longer a little kid or a college student, I’ve been leaving the house in the bitter cold every morning at 7:45 and spending my days at a desk, staring at a computer screen (which drives my already watery eyes completely bonkers). I’ve accomplished very little, apart from filling my wastebasket with tissues and emptying the water cooler. But since I'm not really all that sick I have no good excuse to stay home, and I’m too miserly with my personal days to give them up for anything so trifling as a cold.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday menu planning?

While doing some research today, I happened across WebMD's "Naughty List of Holiday Foods." I had to investigate further, because, for one, the name annoyed me: it was either going to be about stigmatizing fat or...uh...nevermind.

They provided a list of 15 or so fat and sodium laden delicacies with ideas about how to make them healthy. One or two of the ideas sounded edible. For instance, it probably wouldn't kill me to eat white meat turkey and not pick the skin off the bird while my grandpa isn't looking. The vast majority of their suggestions, however, were either just plain silly or just plain revolting.

Can't stop yourself from eating piles and piles of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes? Leave out the dairy and mash the potatoes with low-sodium fat-free (taste free) chicken broth. Not only will there be fewer calories in the potatoes, you'll suddenly lose the desire to die eating them.

Love pecan pie but hate yourself for eating so much sugar for dessert? Eat a handful of mixed nuts. You won't notice the difference. Honest. Equally interchangeable: caramel corn and popcorn (doubtless, butter and salt-free), Christmas cookies and whole-wheat crackers.

And drinks don't escape the purge. White wine and cranberry juice spritzers stand in for festive cocktails. Nevermind the fact that if you liked white wine spritzers you'd be drinking them anyway. Or--my personal favorite--serve their super secret recipe low-fat egg nog: skim milk, artificial sweetener, and egg substitutes. Mmmmm.

Please, just let good food be good food. If you're on a diet, eat REAL healthy food. If you feel the need to indulge in Christmas treats, it is possible to do so with moderation. Is there any point in eating traditionally rich foods with the good stuff --fat, salt, and sugar--removed? Foods that are genuinely healthy are delicious. Splenda and egg substitutes? Not so much.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Avoidance? Nah.

Bethany hates making phone calls.

Bethany hates singing in front of people.

Is it any wonder that it took nearly two weeks for me to get around to calling the Civic Theater to set up a time to audition for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?

But I did it. It's DONE.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Vanity post:

As my mother--and nearly every other girl born with straight hair--could tell you, I wish desperately that I had been born with curly hair. Or wavy hair. Or hair that does something besides hang in lank strands around my face. I've long held a grudge against Patrick and Andrew for having naturally thick, wavy hair that actually forms ringlets when it gets too long. Those two have the amazing hair, Jonathan has the absurdly long and thick eyelashes, and I have a chip on my shoulder.

In the last few weeks I've taken to sleeping with my hair in curlers a few times a week. When the rollers come out and the resulting curls are forced into order I have something resembling the hair I've always wanted.

No more. It would appear that my hair can't withstand the weekly onslaught of curlers and has decided that it would rather break and fall out that be forced into ringlets.

See that poor girl? I'm calling her the anthropomorphic representation of my hair. Except that she has improbably nice locks and a well-dressed gentleman to rush to her aid.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My feet hurt.

As much as I enjoy shopping, I find malls singularly unpleasant: the noise of too many different stores playing too many different kinds of music too loudly; the smell of Abercrombie cologne mixing with whatever bizarre fruit-and-floral concoction is being hawked by The Body Shop; the sight of tragic fashion victims and girls with those silly pompadour-poof things over their foreheads. It's a multi-sensory torture process.

Having said that, I had a great time doing some Christmas shopping today with my mother and Jacqui. We went to Keystone (or, to give the full and pretentious name, "The Fashion Mall at Keystone"), which boasts such startlingly expensive novelties as Burberry and MaxAzria, as well as the places real people shop. We spent the most time at Anthropologie, my new favorite place to indulge my whimsical-yet-domestic side. I managed to NOT buy anything for myself--just presents for a few lucky people. Another favorite stop, visited annually, is the Game Preserve. I'm a sucker for games and, consequently, spent way more there than any place else. But I won't say what I bought or for whom I bought it. Somehow we didn't make it to a bookstore. Had we done so, I am certain that my resolve to not buy anything for myself would have broken down; I may be able to resist flower-shaped measuring cups but there is no way to say no to 25,000 square feet of books.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday School Snippets

Bethany: So, what sort of gifts does God give us?
Girl 1: Shoes!...and forgiveness!
Girl 2: Fishnets.

Bethany: ...because Elizabeth was barren.
Girl 3: What's "barren" mean?
Girl 1: It means she can't have any kids. Her womb was closed. [Note: Has someone been paying attention, or what???]
Girl 4: (pause, frowns) I think I'm barren 'cause I've never had any kids.
Girl 1: Girl, that's 'cause you're only ten years old.

Girl 2: So, does God still send Gabriel to people? Like, can I see him sometime?
Girl 1: I think if you don't stop interrupting Bethany when she's reading the lesson, you'll be seeing Gabriel and all the other angels real soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Oooh, pretty.

My mother and I had a wonderful morning, starting with divine service at Redeemer. Our next stop was at the Calhoun Street Emporium, an antique mall close to downtown. Besides the fact that they have a fantastic selection of vintage hats, it's an Emporium, and with that title it has to be more interesting than a plain ol' store. The recessed front door squeals and creaks as you open it, and a sign warns customers not to let the cats out. Oh, yes. There are cats. Affectionate, soft and sleek, mouse-fed cats. When we got there a pair of them were fighting over a box of Christmas garland. They stopped as soon as they realized someone was paying attention, and the little calico spent the next 15 minutes trying to curl up on top of my feet. While I was walking.

I won't even talk about the hats I bought (except to say that they are fabulous). Or the 1940s wool cape I scored for $15 (to be accessorized with riding boots, a walking stick, and a pack of hounds). My surprise find today was a cheaply framed fashion plate from Peterson's Magazine. I hadn't ever heard of that magazine, but I guessed from the styles depicted that it was from the mid-late 1860s. With some quick research at home, I found that Peterson's Magazine was one of the top women's magazines of the 19th century, right up with Godey's Ladies Book. It had a readership of over 200,000 American women, which it not too shabby.

When I removed my plate from its frame, I discovered, first, that the matting had hidden the date (January, 1867) and, second, that it was an original and not a reprint. It isn't worth all that much as a collector's item--I won't be turning around and selling for a profit or anything-- but I am really excited by the fact that I had a 143 year old print hanging in my bedroom.

I guess this is the way I reconcile my fashion-conscious side with my nerdy historian side.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Earplugs out, everyone!

This Sunday the Collegium is hosting a sing-along of Handel's Messiah. People are invited to bring their own Messiah scores--or use one of the extras provided--and sing along on the choruses. (Y'all come!) Choir members were invited to sign up for the solos and, when volunteers were not forthcoming, an email was sent out BEGGING them to sign up.

Guess who is a sucker. Guess who inherited the "can't say no" gene from her mother.

I don't do solos. The last time I sang on my own in front of people (deliberately) was when I was 12 and I sang Twyla Paris's "How Beautiful" at my aunt's wedding. Before that, it was my 3rd grade operetta, in which I starred as The Professor in "The Color Factory." (I had the distinction of portraying the only human in the play--everyone else was playing colored crayons.) I sincerely wanted to avoid this solo also, but there was no way I was going to wimp out and change my mind. So I did the only sensible thing and asked my friend Katie to sing with me. By the time we got our act straightened out, only tenor and bass pieces remained.

We've taken a tenor aria and turned it into a soprano duet. So far, our practice sessions have been continuously disrupted by fits of laughter and forays into other pieces of music. (Who wants to sing the assigned piece of music when you could be singing random folk songs and hymns?) Last night we became distracted and began singing "Every Valley" in the style of various Muppets. Good times.

The sing-along is just days away and our duet needs some work, but it will come together...

...I hope.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

See that door? You know what to do.

(The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the

I had a rough afternoon at work. Two hours yesterday and three hours today were eaten up in preparing a whole heckuva lot of subpoenas for a pain-in-the-neck case. (I was only able to bill for about 1 1/2 hours of that time, but that's beside the point.) My boss had a deposition that lasted a good part of the morning and early afternoon, and she signed my pile of subpoenas just before she left the office for the day at 3:00. At that point, she turned the subpoenas over to one of the other gals--we'll call her Ellen-- to finish up copying and assembling a set for each of the 900 other attorneys involved in the case while I got started on a much more "pressing and time-sensitive" project.

Apparently, someone didn't understand "pressing and time-sensitive." Within minutes of my boss leaving Ellen was back in my office berating me for using Word 2007 to create documents instead of Word Perfect, despite the fact that she is the only person in the office who uses it. And then for not noticing that the lines in the caption were a 1/2 inch too long (WHAT?). And for saving the files in a folder--incidently, the folder they belonged in--that she hadn't thought to check. And for choosing a size 2 envelope for our 80 page packet of papers instead of the too-small size 1 envelope. These subpoenas, already OKed and signed by the boss, were just not good enough for her, but that was not something she was prepared to deal with. No. I had to put aside my "pressing and time-sensitive" project and reformat every stinkin' subpoena or risk her eternal disapproval.

Generally, we get along very well. I'm just glad that no one in the office knows what I look like angry. When I my voice got sort of low and quiet and even and I moved very slowly... they didn't know it was because I wanted to tell sweet little Ellen to back off and stop bothering me with her control issues.

I didn't. I didn't glare, didn't get testy, and didn't let her know just how annoyed I was. I attempted to smile sweetly and explain why there wasn't anything wrong with the way I was doing things. (And then I instant-messaged my mother to whine at her about the situation.) All I know is that Ellen was much happier after she scolded me, and she quickly went back to being her usual cheery self. Crisis averted.