Friday, May 30, 2008

Sex in the City=greatness

J took me on a date to see the new “Sex and the City” movie tonight! Don’t I have the best husband in the world??? I know you are gagging already, but there’s more. It was his idea! Months ago, when he found out the release date for the movie, he told me to keep May 30th open because he was taking me on a date. I tried to let him off the hook. I offered to call my 1 friend here in NH (yes, I have made at least one friend here) to see if she wanted to go, but he insisted on taking me. I think he secretly wanted to see it! Of course, he’s probably going to use this as an excuse to get a foot rub or something in the future …

At first, it looked like J was going to be the only guy in the whole theater! I was shocked. But then more males trickled in. Still, he is a trooper.

Anyways, I won’t reveal any details of the movie because I know most people didn’t rush out on the first night to see it, but it was great. I’ve always been a big fan of Sex & the City! My parents had cable, so I always tried to catch an episode or two when I was in college. Then, the minute the box set came out, J bought it for me. I’ve missed the show since it’s been gone. I crave more. The movie definitely filled a little void. They did a great job with it.

I think every woman finds similarities in one of the characters, at least at some point in her life. I relate to Carrie because she is a writer with an Apple computer even before they were popular (definitely can’t relate to her style or shopping habits though). I can relate to Samantha’s free spirit and her brutal honesty. I can relate to Miranda because she is really practical and I am … sometimes. Charlotte is the one I can relate to the least. Her level of class is admirable, but I’m not a classy gal. And she was always too much of a hopeless romantic for me.

So go see the movie. It wasn’t better than "Into the Wild" for me, but it was top-notch.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rockstar rocks New England!

Rockstar, an old coworker from Phoenix, visited me over the Memorial Day weekend and when I say we tore the town up, I mean it!

Thursday: Red Sox game! Great seats, good game. The only downside – J couldn’t join us even though he bought a ticket too. Unfortunately, he had a blond moment and thought he was flying out at 7pm, not 4pm. So I got to see Fenway before him! I must say, I liked Wrigley better. Even the hot dogs were better. After the game, Rockstar and I went over to Harvard to try to feel smart. It didn’t really work.

Friday: Drove the coast of NH and Maine since Rockstar never saw the Atlantic Ocean, nor any lighthouses. We had to stop like every 5 minutes for Rockstar to get a “seafood” snack. Obviously Phoenix lacks in that department. I feel her pain as I yearn for authentic Mexican food all the time. Anyways, we did eat a lot of seafood and had a very nice drive. I love driving, especially when there’s no schedule and you’re just enjoying the sites. I usually like to name all the places I eat, but that would just be too many. Seriously. My favorite, though, was “Lobster Shack” at Two Lights (lighthouse) in Maine. Good food, secluded and a beautiful view.

Saturday: Back to Boston to play tourist. Did the Freedom Trail. Lots of walking and ended with an unplanned trip to the top of the Bunker Hill monument. We literally didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but 200 steps later, we were at the top. We did eat more seafood for lunch, of course, then yummy Italian food in the North End for dinner. On a side note, I am getting a little better at driving in Boston. It helps that Rockstar was a great navigator. Still, if I can avoid driving in that damn city, I will.

Sunday: More driving around and exploring. We checked out “America’s Stonehenge” in NH and determined that it was just a tourist trap. We also checked out a heavy metal festival that was going on in Manchester because that’s Rockstar’s scene, but realized we were in the teenage wasteland, so moved on. I tried to take Rockstar on a short hike, but once I told her we’d have to check for ticks after the hike, she decided she could do without the hike. Checking for ticks is routine for me when I run …

Overall, we had a great time together—some R&R we both needed. Rockstar liked the New England area and called New Hampshire people the “Nice Hampshires” (I would agree!). It’s great when you have a houseguest that is easy to please. The only things she does not like are bugs and ghosts … wait, aren’t those the things I like so much? Haha.

J, on the other hand, spent his holiday weekend doing man stuff with theHoss, who now lives in Ohio. Pittsburgh Pirates game, gambling in West Virginia, cornhole games (don’t ask – it’s apparently a Midwestern thing) and golf. He is still in detox trying to sweat all the alcohol, Primanti Bros sandwiches (or paninis as J incorrectly called them) and magic cookie bars.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fernando lost some of his manhood

My husband, the hero, got rid of a big headache I had last week.

Ever since I moved to NH, I’ve been told that my tinted windows on the car would not pass state inspection. So I registered my car at the end of December and dodged police and delayed inspection by 5 months. I tried once at the beginning of May and the auto shop assured me I would fail because of the tinted windows. I called DMV to cop my plea saying the car was manufactured in AZ like that. I truly did not have a choice in the matter. I bought the car via paper description and it said nothing about the tinted windows and racing rims, but when it arrived, I realized my brand-new car was a ghetto car. Fernando and I got along just fine, though many people (ahem, Lawyer2be) poked fun at my car.

So getting back to present moment. DMV said as long as the car was manufactured with the tinted windows, the law didn’t apply and I could pass inspection. So I proudly brought my car into a new car shop for inspection … and was denied again. Apparently, my windows were tinted “after market,” not in Detroit. A great tinting job, but there were plain-glass windows under there somewhere. And not only did I have to replace the front two windows, but all the back ones too.

I started gathering quotes for tint removal. A couple places refused the job, calling it a PITA, especially since my car is 6 years old and has been sitting in 100-degree heat, as well as –10-degree cold. Another place said $45/hour, but they couldn’t estimate how long it would take. Maybe 10 hours, they said? To replace all the windows would be $700. Jesus H. I was not happy and stressing like crazy. So one day last week, my wonderful husband came home from a long day at work and decided to attempt the job himself. And he did it all! So well that I think he should start a side business!

And now I have a semi-normal-looking car with a legal state inspection sticker. Just in time because J finally learned how to drive stick (or straight as they say in the South) and with gas prices going up like they are, he and Fernando are about to become BFFs for the summer.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Where do your children play?

Before I begin my post, I’m going to put a disclaimer on it. I obviously don’t have any children, so I understand that a lot of my opinions are based on inexperience and ignorance.

Saturday night, J hosted a program called “Where do the children play?” for his town. He spoke eloquently on the importance of outside play for children, then showed a PBS documentary (that hasn’t even been released to the public) called “Where do the Children Play?” Lastly, he brought a speaker who is an environmental educator from the NH Department of Fish and Game.

This was the second time I watched the film and it again impacted me. During the past 25 years, childhood has developed a new meaning. Children seem to have a serious disconnect with nature. They think outside play means organized sports or driving to a local park to play. Not that those are bad things, but for most of us, outside play in our own childhood merely meant going outside in our yards and making do with sticks and rocks. Getting dirty. Hurrying home after school to finish our homework so we can squeeze in a couple of hours to play outside. Hopscotch. Ghosts in the Graveyard. Freeze Tag. Red Light, Green Light. Making forts. Climbing trees.

Children today are wired. When asked in a recent survey to name their favorite games, less than 5 percent cited Hide and Seek. Less than 1 percent named Red Rover. Don’t get me wrong, I find it amazing that many children can probably navigate or program a computer better than I can. And they also probably know more about what’s going on in the world than I do. But in my opinion, children are missing out. This generation will grow up lacking the creativity we all developed in our childhood. Outside play allows children to use all their senses and experience all emotions like fear, pride and confidence. Inside play harbors loneliness. And don’t even get me started on the issue of childhood obesity. Yes, there’s a whole other problem with school lunches and portion control, but I believe a larger part of the growing condition lies in the deficit of physical activity among children.

I had a friend who lives in a city and told me a story about taking her 4-year-old outside for a walk in the park. The child said, “what is this?” The mother said, “what?” The child pointed to the trees, grass, rocks, etc. “Um, this is nature.”

I understand why parents don’t let kids outside to just explore and be free as much anymore. “It’s not safe,” they say. I’m not parent, so I can’t judge, but statistics do show that most sexual abuse cases and violent crimes happen within the “home,” by a relative, parent, or someone familiar with the family. Also, people are so darn busy these days. There are too many choices of things to do. And in order to raise a well-rounded citizen, parents tend to enroll kids in music lessons, organized sports and volunteering. These are all very good things (especially if you want your child to get into the best college even though the time for that is far away), but that doesn’t leave much time for simple play.

So I’m saying forget the “leave no child behind” campaign, we need to step up efforts in the “leave no child inside” campaign (it’s actually a real thing). I’m sorry if I ruffled a few feathers here, but leave a comment about what you think. Maybe tell me and others about your favorite childhood memory of outside play. Or yell at me and tell me I have no idea what it’s like to raise a child in this society. All I’m saying is let the children play …

And with that, here are some of my favorite childhood memories of outside play.
*Roaming the woods and getting poison ivy, poison zumac and poison oak. Once, I had it on my eyelids and the kids at school called me “puffy eyes.”
*Having all the neighborhood kids outside to play games. They were probably about 7-10 of us that all played together.
*Making leave piles and mazes with the leaves to play in (Big on Lotto used to rake them that way for us)
*Climbing trees, especially the one in my front yard that is no longer there (boohoo)
*Walking around the block, which was probably only 1/4 mile long (Short on Coffee was pretty protective and I was only allowed to go in one direction and go halfway until I was a certain age)
*Walking down to the Gut Wines to get sugar sticks (not sure what the real name of the store was, but that’s what we called it. It later became IGA.) Same situation, I was only allowed to go down a certain road until I was a certain age.
*Walking down to the beach and playing at the beach. Loved the lake with all its seaweed!!! Going off the diving board (when I was old enough) was my favorite.
*Ice skating on the pond or the lake (Short on Coffee was eerie about the lake)
*Sledding!
*Washing cars. I know this sounds like child labor, but I have fond memories of washing cars with Big on Lotto and QuickQuestion.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just so we're clear just how frugal we are ...

Yesterday was Thursday, so we got our free movie (Dances with Wolves) from the video store, but we also got our free iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts that they offered to everyone yesterday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back from the windy city

First of all, Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there. I don’t know how you all do it, but kudos. Specifically to Short on Coffee … she is the best and I know she doesn’t realize it. She has so many good qualities (which I hope I inherited), including an unbelievable amount of faith and patience. I am so grateful for our relationship. Thank God I stopped slamming doors in your face and declaring my hatred for you (me as a teenager, not so nice to my mom) because I don’t know what I’d do without your love and friendship. Thanks so much for being you!

We returned Sunday from our trip to Chicago to visit J’s momma and sisters. SILmeow, her boyfriend BladesofGlory and MamaF all live there, but SILadventure ventured from Colorado and GrandmaL from California for the reunion.

We started with manis and pedis on Thursday morning (J excluded, although I keep telling him to get a pedicure so I can take a break from the official foot rubber role for a day). I should have resisted getting the mani and pedi because I really don’t like getting them (I know most of you gasp at that statement). I hate when they push on your cuticles (I’m a bleeder) and I am so darn ticklish, I can never enjoy the foot scrubbing and rubbing. Besides that, my painted fingernails are already chipped – what a waste. Oh well, it was still good bonding time!

Then we all went to Wrigley Field for a game—Cubs vs. Dbacks. “Go Cubs go! Hey Chicago, what do you say, the Cubs are going to win today!” And as the song goes, they did win, 3-1. I haven’t been to many ballparks, but I really liked Wrigley. It is so old-fashioned and the hot dogs were to die for. We had great seats. It was a bit chilly, but the beers warmed us up a little.

After the game, MamaF and GrandmaL took off on a rickshaw ride back home, while the rest of us headed to a bar to see BladesofGlory’s friend play at Merkle’s. It was very fun. SILadventure got hit on like crazy and J got pretty drunk. We spent the rest night at eating MamaF’s chili and watching Mommie Dearest (not an Oscar-winning film from our list!).

Saturday, we shopped. On the way to meet the rest of the fam, SILmeow, J and I stopped for a mid-morning snack at Wao Boa, which sells cheap Asian Hot Buns. Very unique, but good! Anyways, the shopping was not really the top activity on J and my list of favorites activities, but we did manage to each get a $7 shirt from Nordstrom Rack (we do love our bargains). After that, we had a nice late lunch at The Walnut Room, a famous eatery on the 7th floor of the Macy’s, or the beloved Marshall Fields.

That night, SILmeow hosted a barbeque at her newly purchased town home, which is mighty fine I should add. We sent the older ones home around 10ish and headed to The Hidden Shamrock, Lincoln Park’s oldest Irish bar, where most of us drank heavily (ahem, SILadventure), played pool and danced the night away. J and I even introduced the jump rope and basketball routines to SILmeow’s friends and some others in the bar (Mouth and Roid should be very proud). They were a big hit.

On Mother’s Day, we hosted a breakfast feast at SILmeow’s. We bought some famous sticky buns from Ann Sather’s. Mind you it was pouring and windy when J, SILadventure and I went out on foot to get supplies that morning. Good thing none of us were hung over! Since the weather was a little frightful, we just lounged around SILmeow’s place and watched Into the Wild (of course) until our flights that evening.

All in all, a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Delayed recap of trip to Music Capitol of the Country

I’m a little behind, but I wanted to share details about my trip to Nashville! My company’s home office moved there from Scottsdale last year and this was my first time visiting it. I was a little nervous about going there because there was a whole staff of 15+ IT, sales, marketing and management people I had never met. All of the writers, except our editor-in-chief and any new hires, are remote like I’ve been for the past 3 years. So going to the new office felt like I was starting a new job!

Anyways, I stayed with BossLady, who’s not only my boss, but my friend too. She trained me when I was a freelancer, then, we worked together when I became full time for a few years before she became my boss. I’ve had 3 bosses at my company in almost 6 years. She is by far the best and I’m not just saying that to get brownie points!

Overall, it was crazy to be back in an office; it always is. I value silence and freedom, especially when I’m writing. Of course, the free pizza, cupcakes and constant camaraderie do make up for this. Everyone was so nice there – good ol’ Southern hospitality. I was there to help train our new writer. Training was really fun and different!

BossLady and the new writer did their best to show me around Nashville in my 3 short days there. We only got to drive by Vanderbilt and Centennial Park, but there were other highlights. BossLady and I ate at The Yellow Porch, the two of them took me to Radnor Lake State Park at lunch one day and then, the new writer insisted BossLady and I join her for a night at The Station Inn, a pretty famous honky tonk bar.

We saw the Doyle and Debbie Show. Um, this was some strange stuff, folks. I’m not sure how to describe it. This couple, known as “America’s country music sweethearts,” actually appeared on Conan O’Brien recently. In any case, their skit pokes fun at country music and the battle of the sexes. Of course, it is sung in the traditional country music banter. They sing about being “barefoot and pregnant” and “fat women in trailers.” If you are offended easily, this is probably not the best show for you. It was fun and I’m glad I gave it a try. Will I return to see the show again? Probably not. But I did like The Station Inn.

Overall, Nashville is a pretty cool place. Yes, it is definitely a city driven by music, but not just country music. I did find it hilarious that about 4 people on my plane out there had their guitars as their carry-on bag!

We are off to Chicago this weekend to visit with MamaF, SILmeow and SILadventure.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free Movies

Most of you know J and I are thrifty, or as my Dad would say, downright cheap. So our local video store started a program a few months ago in which you could rent older movies for free on Thursdays. J and I jumped right on that! It fit perfectly with our plan to watch all the movies that won best picture at the Academy Awards.

Thus far, we’ve watched No Country for Old Men, The Departed and The English Patient. We’re rating them along the way too. We’ve seen some of the others already and probably won’t watch them again, such as Chicago. But we have a long way to go! The first award was given in 1929!

So today, I ran down to the video store at lunch to pick up this week’s free movie. I didn’t take the entire list of movies because I literally “ran” down there. I wrote down 5 movies on a small piece of paper. Well, the freakin store didn’t have any of them (it’s no Blockbuster)! They didn’t have Gladiator (2000)! Or Rain Man (1988). In any case, they didn’t have any of the ones on my list and I couldn’t remember any others, so I just picked a random (still free) movie.

The funny part was when I went to check out, the guy brought up our account and said, “Wow, guess we’ll see you again next Thursday.” To which I proudly replied, “yep, we’re really taking advantage of your new program.” And he sarcastically said, “yes you are.” I think I’ll send J in to get the next movie.

I have many other posts to catch up on, such as my trip to Nashville and a very important baby announcement (not mine of course!), but those will have to wait for now …