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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fun with Phone Books




Yesterday the telephone book dude delivered a phone book in a plastic bag to my door step. What did I do with it? I picked it up and immediately put it in the recycling bin. That way I’m not completely wasting the four trees it took to make it.

Sometimes Frank tries to make a case for keeping the phone book: “What if the electricity’s out and we can’t use the internet to look up a number?”

First of all, we don't even have a phone! And second of all, if the electricity goes out I guess I'll just use my cell phone because every number I need is in there.



So yesterday as I was lugging the phone book to the recycle bin, I started wondering when those telephone book fools would give up. They’re always worried about WHICH book we’re using—the yellow one, the big one, the one that lets our fingers do the walking. Hello? Our fingers aren’t walking anymore! They’re clicking! That’s what you should be worried about, telephone book makers.

I haven’t always been anti-phone book. I used to rely on it as a source for information, as a step stool and even for fun. Yes, fun! My friend Jaime and I had this whole game we played with the phone book. We called it Wickskiwicks. I’ll go over the complex rules of the game with you so you can play it at home (if you still have a phone book):

So Jaime and I would be on the phone with each other and we’d each have the Friendswood phone book open:
Jaime: Mr. and Mrs. H. Sterner
Elsa: Um…okay, I found it! 482-1526
Jaime: That’s right! Now you go.

That’s it. That’s the game. We called it Wickskiwicks (pronounced Wicks-kee-wicks) because that was the longest and funniest name in the phone book.

I don’t know which is sadder, the fact that we played Wickskiwicks for hours (and it’s possibly the lamest game ever invented) or that future generations will have to play Wickskiwicks on verizonsuperpages.com.

Right about now I’m regretting tossing my phone book though. My Halloween candy is up in a really high cabinet and I can't reach it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday Musings

Happy Daylight Savings Time. I prefer saving the daylight in the evening, rather than in the morning.

Here’s what’s gonna happen tonight: Workers will look up from their cubicles at 5:00 and if they’re lucky enough to have a partial-window-view (via some executive’s office), they’ll realize it’s getting dark and say, “Oh! I gotta get home!” When everyone does that at once it equals a traffic tragedy.

It’s days like this that make me thankful my commute is just down a flight of stairs.

Evaluation Update:
Since nobody showed up to watch me a couple of weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to attend the “open auditions” where we have to teach to imaginary students while judges watch from the side.

When I was explaining this to someone else she said, “It’s like you’re a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.”

OMG. It is JUST like that:


I have to audition to stay on the “squad” that I’m already on.
I have to wear a somewhat skimpy outfit (nothing like the above, TG).
I have to behave extra cheese-like.
A fellow auditioner gave me some advice, “Be extra chipper!”
The auditions even took place in Irving!

I ask you, how is this different from DCC?

So I did it today and I think I aced my routine but who knew there would be an interview component? A good DCC would be more prepared! In the end, though, I felt good because the judges told me that I had good enthusiasm, a great routine and most importantly, “a terrific smile!”

Go, Cowboys!! I mean…spin class!! Whatever! Just keep being extra chipper!!

Perhaps I could have swayed them even more if I told them that this weekend, while on assignment at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, I cultivated land with some oxen:








Thanks, Bud and Abe, for letting me steer you. And fellas, remember, just because it's dark earlier tonight doesn't mean you can stop working. Keep cultivating and most importantly, keep smiling!!



Friday, October 27, 2006

Gettin' the Boot

Well, the weather started getting cooler and I knew that meant it was time to put away my dirty flip flops and bring out my one pair of winter shoes—the tall black boots. I’m counting on them lasting me another season even though the heel is about to fall off of one of them.

So the other night before a dinner engagement I went to put them on. But wait. Something wasn’t right. It was a conflict of fashion interest:

The new straight-legged-skinny jeans can’t accommodate tall boots. I tried with all my might to fit the jeans over the boots but in the end I looked like I had really low, wide knees.

But then I glanced at my Jess Weekly and realized that boots don’t HAVE to go under your jeans, they can go OVER your jeans!






Did I like this look? I called in reinforcements:

Tips from Thea said over email that maybe I could “pull it off.”
Shoe Princess Liz wrote that maybe I could “see if it works.”

Hello? I wear dirty flip flops and pajama pants all day! I don’t know how to pull things off or make things work! I asked Liz, “How do I know if it’s working?”

She did what any fashion expert would do. She asked for a visual aid. I quickly struck a pose and sent her this:





She admitted that she originally was hesitant about the idea but after seeing my ensemble she thought I could, in fact, make it work. When I arrived at the dinner my fellow diners agreed. (Although they didn’t have much of a choice; there was no turning back by then.)

And even though I think I sort of looked like I was wearing galoshes, I’m pleased that I took such a fashion risk and that I may have “made it work.”

But dirty flip flops, hang in there. Just four short months and we can be together again.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Costume Commentary

The last time Frank and I dressed up for Halloween we went as a Catholic school girl and a Catholic school boy. He wore his high school letter jacket. I wore the typical plaid skirt and midriff top (which tells you that this was during Britney’s better era--1999).

Yesterday I started thinking that maybe we could try the couple costume thing again this year. I started searching on the internet and found several articles on the subject which gave me a few ideas:


Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock


I know Frank likes any excuse to take his shirt off but I refuse to sport that white bikini.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes


Frank thinks he could pull off Tom but it would be quite a “stretch” for me to be Katie.



Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake

I like how they’re sweaty…but do they have to be so sporty?


Britney and Kevin

But which BK should we be? Do we go with pre-pregnancy when they were white trash? Pregnant with Sean Preston? Pregnant with baby Jayden? In between pregnancies? Anti-shoes phase? Cheetos-eating phase? (Well, that would cover it all, really.)

Britney and Matt Lauer

I just don’t know if I have the time and energy to make myself look as dirty as she did that day. And it would take a lot of bubble gum.

_________________________________________________________________
In my quest to find the perfect couple costume idea, I discovered that apparently I have even written on the subject. Here’s an excerpt from an MSN article circa 2003:

Halloween Goes Hollywood

Now if you really want to score big in the small-time costume contest, you’ve gotta go with a current and controversial couple. Think Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. Gals can sport the long, super-straight black wig with a tight little dress. “I’m wearing a baby tee that says, I heart Idaho,” says Janice, 26, who will play Demi this year to her date’s Ashton. “My date is wearing baggy jeans, a John Deere baseball cap and a t-shirt with the word “Punk’d” ironed on the front.” Be sure to grab a messy wig to make your hair look extra Ashton-shaggy.

Another less controversial but equally amusing couple are our favorite newlyweds, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. Girls, stuff your bra (you may need that whole roll of toilet paper) and pick up a blonde wig. “My girlfriend’s even got the fake Louis Vuitton bag to look like Jessica’s genuine one,” admits Brian, 24. Carlos recommends that guys get a very thin white button-down shirt (think of your Grandpa vacationing in Mexico) and don’t touch a single button. Leave 'em all open to show off your gold chains with the initial “N” or even the name “Nick” if you’re lucky enough to score one.

A word to the wise: Don’t try the Olsen twins. You’ll both just fight over who gets to be Mary Kate.


Okay, this is so obviously dated because when I threw out the Olsen twin idea to Frank, he insisted on being Ashley. We got into such a heated debate about it I’ve decided I'm just going to get out that old Catholic school girl outfit again. But this time I’ll update it. I'll bring Cheetos.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Have you met Bud?



Nickname: Bood, Budlies Boodalicious, John

Status: A Double S, Ladies (Single & Straight)

Hometown: New Braunfels, TX (Don’t call it New BraunSfels…there’s no “S” as Bud will tell you.)

How you know him:

Maybe you worked with him at Kolar Advertising and Marketing in Austin.

Perhaps you saw him at a Halloween party but he was the only one in costume and you realized it wasn’t actually Halloween; it was 4th of July.

You might have run into him at a Texas Roller Girls event.

Why you like him:

He’s hilarious, friendly and just enough weird to where it’s amusing and not creepy.

He’s one of my only guy friends (Scott Womack is another) even though he looks like he’s scared of me in the above picture. (That’s how most guys react to me.)

What you didn’t know about Bud:

He’s a budding (ha, didn’t even mean to do that) filmmaker. He and my friend Justin (hey, another guy friend!) entered a 48-hour short film contest and you can check out their final product here. Go to “films” and theirs is under “BudCrud Productions.” Bud is the star! After you watch it you can vote for it and help them win!

The film is already getting rave reviews from the critics:

“This is awesome…”
“Bud is so funny.”
“They HAVE to win.”
“This is better than anything on Saturday Night Live.”
“Let’s watch some more but I don’t see how they could be better.”

Okay, those were all from Frank but I agree and I’m sure you will too.

I know what you’re thinking: “Writinggal, is this just a ploy to get us to vote for your friend’s film so you can keep one of your three guy friends?”

YES!! And if Scott Womack ever makes a film, you can bet I’ll plug it too!

It's good to try to impress an upcoming film power like Bud with your dancing moves

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Writinggal's Blog Quiz

After unloading your groceries from the cart and into your car, what do you do with said cart?

a). Push it back into the store and along the way gather up seventeen other carts and take them back too.
b). Put it in the cart corral.
c). Turn it upside down and leave it in the parking lot. Then take another cart and push it into the nearest neighborhood.

When pouring cereal do you…

a). Fill the bowl with so much milk that it starts to spill over onto the sides and then onto the counter and eventually onto the floor so that cats from all over the neighborhood show up at your door.
b). Fill half the bowl with cereal, half the bowl with milk.
c). Use no milk at all even though there’s a higher risk of teeth breakage.


You think that Neil Diamond is…

a). The greatest singer/songwriter of all time; you copy his fashion choices and even convince yourself you’re related to him.
b). All right. Sweet Caroline is cool but Solitary Man is lame.
c). As cheesy as a big block O’ Velveeta.


MTV makes you…

a). A little bit nauseous. You can’t watch it and eat at the same time if they’re showing videos.
b). intrigued. You like to stay hip to what the kids are watching.
c). hyped! You can even watch Marilyn Manson videos and eat dinner at the same time!

You thought the words to Brown Eyed Girl included…

a). Casper Marry Background Law
b). Cast my memory back there, Lord
c). Cut her mammary back hair, Laurence


You use dryer sheets to…

a). clean your whole house including your shower, sink and sometimes even the mail box—pretty much for everything except getting static electricity out of clothes
b). get static electricity out of clothes.
c). disguise the smell of pot smoke


Jennifer Aniston is…

a). Your best friend
b). A decent actress with nice legs
c). Over-rated, untalented and a fool to date Vince Vaughn…although you’d still go on that trip to Acapulco if Writinggal invited you.


Are you an IMer?

a). No way! Who wants someone tapping on your shoulder all day?
b). Yes but just for personal use during the lunch hour.
c). Of course! I use it for everything—work, personal, to talk to someone sitting at the same table as me at a restaurant. I’m even using it to send all my answers to this blog quiz. Gotta go. Someone’s tapping me on the shoulder.

Now, count up how many A’s B’s and C’s you have and read your personality profile:

Mostly A’s: You are just like Writinggal! Congrats!
Mostly B’s: You are lame.
Mostly C’s: You are weird.

I do hope this provided helpful insight into your own behavior and that, if you got a lot of B's and C's, you now know what you need to work on. First things first, gotta sog up that cereal.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Musings

People, an artichoke is not an animal. So when you eat artichoke hearts you are not eating “something furry that resembles a squirrel.” I will not tell you who was gullible enough to believe this but her name rhymes with biting towel.

Kristin Knight—I ate at a restaurant with table cloths! (I used to tell KK that I don’t eat in restaurants that have table cloths or various glasses all over the table.) And not only did I break that rule this weekend, I liked it!

Think you can’t afford the TC restaurants? You can! Go to restaurant.com and pick out a gift certificate. They have great deals like “you pay $10 and the GC is for $25.”

“E” updates:

Evaluation: I had my “Best of the Elsa Show” remix ready to go on Friday and nobody showed up to watch me! I guess they’ll come next week but they’ll have to settle for the “Second Best of the Elsa Show” remix.

Evergreen: Problem fixed. Got a new check made out to me! If anybody out there is named Evergreen, though, I have a check you can deposit.

Something you didn’t know about Frank:
He is a master impressionist. Surprised? I was too. But the thing is he can only do impressions of the boys of Laguna Beach. He can do Tyler (Kyndra’s paranoid ex-boyfriend), Jason (LC’s dull/loser ex-boyfriend) and Cameron (Jessica’s not-as-stupid-as-he-looks ex-boyfriend). I mean, these are GOOD impressions—like he really looks like these guys and has their mannerisms down exactly. Ask him to do it next time you see him. When he picks a fight with you like Tyler always does with Kyndra, you’ll swear you’re in “the real Orange County.” It’s ridonculous.

Oh, there is one exception: He does a good imitation of John Mark Karr, the guy who pretended to kill JonBenet Ramsey. We toyed with the idea of dressing up as them for Halloween but weren't sure how the Trick-or-Treaters would feel about that.

WOO-HOO!!!!!
Sorry, that was left over from my spin teachers’ convention on Sunday.

Please, no more high fives for the rest of the week.

Thanks.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Writinggal's Beauty Tips

As you know I only recently started using moisturizer when my doctor told me that I looked like the Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe’s grandmother. Well, she didn’t say that exactly but that’s what I heard.

Now I’m a moisturizing maniac. I have to be; I have to make up for 29 years of dehydrated skin. I apply it like four times a day. And with my moisturizing obsession came a yearning to learn all kinds of beauty tips. Here’s what I’ve picked up so far:

Moisturize Up: If you don’t want to spring for a face-lift later, do what Cul de Sac Carrie does: Apply your moisturizer in an upward motion. I was going round and round like a fool!

Use your Ring Finger: Here’s another one I learned from Cul de Sac Carrie (who actually got it from Mary Kay): Your ring finger has the least amount of muscle so use it to apply your under eye cream. Check it out; it’s true. Try to straighten out each of your fingers. Can’t do the ring finger, can you? I love that trick.

Your future’s bright; wear shades: This is my own personal tip. I wear sunglasses anytime I step foot outdoors. I don’t care if it’s cloudy, rainy, hurricaney or if I’m just checking the mailbox. I’ve got on my shades. You won’t catch me squintin’!

EVOO—put it on your bod: I picked this one up while I was in the doctor’s waiting room, reading Real Simple magazine. Apparently you need a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your bathroom too. Women said they wash their faces with it and one girl said she mixes it up with sugar and makes a scrub. I haven’t tried it yet; I’d probably end up eating it.

Pantene Keeps Away the Pricklies: When you’re shaving your legs, forget shaving cream, use conditioner! I hear it makes your legs so soft you don’t even have to put on lotion afterwards. I’m going to try it with my Pantene because, as my hairdresser told me yesterday, that’s like the worst conditioner you can buy. She got all scientific about what it does to your hair and when I said that I hadn’t heard that she said, “Oh, everybody knows that. It’s a real obvious one.”

Hey, gimmee a break. I’m not BeautyGal! I don’t know these things! I just started using this year.

I welcome any of your beauty tips. With your help, I’m hoping that by next year I can get upgraded to the Old Woman who lived in the Shoe’s mother.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Evalu-hater


Tomorrow my spin class is getting evaluated. And when I say “my spin class,” I mean me—I’m getting evaluated. That means my manager and some corporate ‘big wigs’ (do they have big wigs at gyms?) are going to crash my class and critique my every cue. (That’s gym lingo.)

I’ve never been evaluated before but I’ve witnessed other people go through it. These experiences have taught me that there are two ways I could approach this:

1. The Mrs. Hayes* Way (not her real name):


My fifth grade English teacher started prepping us for her evaluation about three months prior. She said that the day the evaluator came we were going to learn about nouns (which I’m pretty sure we covered in third grade). So she spent the next three months teaching us about them. By day two we had it down: person, place or thing. Got it, Mrs. Hayes. Can we move on?

No. She gave us lines: “Elsa, when I ask you what an example of a noun is, you’re going to say “airplane.” Don’t say “the library” because that’s what Tasos is going to say.” You can imagine her panic when, two days before, Tasos forgot his noun. “Fine, just don’t say anything! Keep your mouth shut! Elsa, can you say airplane AND library?” I told her I wasn’t sure I could handle all that. I mean one was a thing and one was a place. Or was an airplane a place AND a thing?

She revoked my lines, too.

A few days before the big event, she redecorated her whole room in a noun-theme. There were people, places and things covering the walls. Then she even wrapped the door with butcher paper and wrote in bubble letters: WHAT IS A NOUN? A PERSON PLACE OR THING!!!!!! GOAL TODAY: MASTER THE NOUN!!!

On the day of the evaluation, she stood by the noun door and greeted each one of us as we entered. Of course she didn’t call us by name because she didn’t know our names. But luckily, she taped name tags to our desks. This wouldn’t be weird except that we weren’t her homeroom; we were only there for an hour a day for English.

That day we were all on our best behavior for the evaluator (I think Mrs. H might have even told us what to wear) and I’m sure our teacher got a stellar score.

And we all mastered nouns that year (but nothing else).

2. The Office Space Way:


I could pull a Peter Gibbons and show up late, put my feet up on my bike and tell the Bobs, “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I just don’t care…If I work my ass off and the gym gets a few more members, I don't see another dime. So where's the motivation?”

Now if I go the Mrs. Hayes way then I need to prep my class by telling them to “woo-hoo” and give them all specific lines like, “Man, Elsa, your class is so awesome, I’m going to tell all my friends and family to sign up for gym memberships and I’m going to get five years of personal training!” I’ll also have to stay up all night, decorating the spin room with motivational cues like, “Earn your recovery!” “Challenge yourself!” and my favorite, “Keep your seat over the seat!” (Okay, that’s really a “form cue” but I just like to say it.)

If I go the Peter Gibbons way I don’t really have to do anything. That sounds better.

They might be impressed by my honesty and if they’re not, I’ll just wow them with my knowledge of nouns.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Have you met our travelin' friends?



On our various travels we’ve made a lot of friends. Okay, we haven’t really made friends so much as we've met some kooky characters. Here are the ones we don’t have pictures of:

--Booger Girl: The girl by the pool in St. Thomas who was interviewing for a sales job at the hotel. As she told us about it, she had a booger hanging out of her nose. I said, “I hope that when she goes into that interview she wipes her nose.” Then Frank said the funniest thing I've ever heard:, “I hope so too. If not, the interviewer is going to say, ‘you know, we’re not selling boogers here…’” Cracks me up every time.

--Nathania: We were in Cabo at this cool B&B, The Bungalows. We accidentally got this two-bedroom bungalow so when the owner overbooked, he asked if this girl, Nathania, could stay in our extra room. Frank agreed without asking me. (read: Nathania was hot.) Apparently she was traveling alone because her friend had met a Mexican guy and left her to go meet his family. She was quite the trooper, though, and said she wouldn’t let it spoil her trip. She meant it. We ran into her at a bar later and she was dancing, surrounded by guys. We said, “Hey, Nathania!!” She was all, “Wassup? Hey, everybody these are my roommates!!” She didn’t come home that night.

Here are the ones we do have pictures of:

Weatherman and Wife: We met them in St. Thomas. I just remember that the guy is a weatherman and they like to dance. Maybe somebody will recognize him.






Crazy Lady Hitting on Frank: Same night—she asked Frank to fix her shirt. He was very against it, as you can see.









Barbados Bob: I just remember that he was traveling alone from New York and we kept running into him everywhere. Too bad this wasn’t Cabo. We could have fixed him up with Nathania.






Cruisers: These were our dinner companions on our Cruise:







--“The Bank” People: Lady and her son across from us. They’re from Oklahoma and the woman kept talking about “the bank.” She’d say, “We came with some people from the bank” or “We’re supposed to be sitting with the bank…” Turns out the kid had worked at the local bank and the ladies there asked if he and his mom wanted to come with them on the cruise. But it was sort of last minute so they didn’t get the same table as them. We ran into them everywhere and we never saw “the bank” people.

--Khan and Khan Jr: The couple next to them. He’s way too old for her and he reminded us of Khan on King of the Hill. We called her “Khan Jr.” because that’s what Khan’s daughter’s name is on the show.

--Hurst Couple: Okay, this couple had just gotten married but the way they met was weird. His name was something common like Jeff Smith. She sent an email to a guy she knows named Jeff Smith but accidentally sent it to the wrong Jeff Smith. They started talking anyway and somehow that lead them to the altar and then to our cruise. We call them the Hurst couple because that’s where they’re from. They said, “Since you’re close, we should get together!” I just send another Frank and Elsa. I figure these two won’t know the difference.

Cancun Compadres: I don’t know who these people are. They just jumped into our picture.









China Freedom Fighter: This is my favorite picture ever. Frank went to China, climbed this mountain and at the top there was this little village where people had rarely seen Americans. This Chinese man asked Frank and his friends to talk to his son so he could practice his English. When they took this picture the little boy just spontaneously made the peace sign.



And why is Frank wearing a random bandana? That’s a whole other story.

I hope you enjoyed meeting our friends from around the world. I also hope you have the privilege of meeting interesting people on your travels. But always remember to check your nose before you talk to strangers. Because, come on, "we're not selling boogers here."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bachelor Brain Busters

I love The Bachelor. I’ve watched every season except for the one with that old fisherman guy. And I even watched a little bit of that. I used to be part of a group in Austin whose sole purpose was to get together and watch 25 women feel “a real connection” with this random guy. We called it “dinner club.”

So after watching 27 seasons of The Bachelor, I would think I’d be an expert. But still…many aspects of the show continue to perplex me:

Would it be possible for anyone to NOT like the Bachelor? Sure, they pick nice-looking, successful (minus Charlie O’Connell and Bob Guiney) guys so, of course, a lot of the would-be Mrs. Bachelors should swoon. But every year they have 25 girls. And 25 girls times 42 seasons…well, that’s like…thousands of girls who say “yes” to the bachelor. It makes me think that ABC could pick the Star Wars kid from YouTube as the next bachelor and 25 girls would say, “Of course I’ll accept this rose!”










What Happens Right After the Bachelor “Proposes?” I got out the smart quotes for the word “proposes” because they rarely do that anymore. They give the girl a plane ticket or worse…they give her a ring that she has to wear around her neck or on her toe or something. But right after that…does he have to ask her what her last name is? Does he have to program her number into his cell phone? Does he ask her where she stands on the Neil Diamond issue?

How does he not know who he’s going to choose on the final day? So the final day comes and they drag the episode out for about six hours: girls crying, girls doing their hair, girls doing their make-up, bachelor buying the ring, bachelor doing his hair, girls crying, girls standing, girls waiting, more crying. During all this they cut to the Bachelor several times and he always says, “I honestly don’t know who I’m going to choose.” But the finale is three hours away! If you don’t know by now, then I’m gonna take a guess here that neither of those girls is “the one.” And what happens later when the girl you chose is watching it with you and she sees that you were torn right up to the last second? This brings me to my next question…


Why do Bachelors always end up alone? So the idea is he has 25 girls to choose from. They all want him. Bad. They seriously bawl and get hysterical when they don’t get roses, even if they’ve only known him for half an hour. In the end he inevitably chooses one of them and a few months later they split. Next time we see him he says something like, “I’m still hoping to find love.” Hello? What about those 24 other women? Start going down the list, dude! I know what you’re thinking: “Those women don’t want to be his sloppy seconds.” Yes. Yes, they do! Heck, they’d be glad to be sloppy sevenths!


Why is Chris Harrison there? All he says is, “Ladies, (insert Bachelor Name here), this is the final rose tonight.” Last night Frank said, “How many roses does he have left?” And I was like, “Don’t worry. Chris will tell us!” So maybe we DO need him after all.

Thus concludes my Bachelor conundrums. Oh, and this season I’m totally rooting for Sadie, the virgin. Frank likes her too but says that the Bachelor should tell her to go home, grow out her bangs and come back and try again next year. I told him, “Duh! Lorenzo is not going to be the Bachelor again next year! They'll get a new one."

And Star Wars YouTube kid, we're all pulling for you!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Musings

It’s raining. Everybody who was indoors this weekend probably said, “We sure need it,” cause that’s what everyone says when it rains.

But you know who didn’t say that?

Brides who had planned an outdoor wedding and had to go to their “plan B.” Nine months ago they were probably choosing the beautiful park site and asked the person in charge, “What do we do if it rains?” The person said, “Oh, we have a covered building over there. No big deal.” And of course the bride thought, “Oh, good. I have a back-up plan.”

But then the day comes and it rains and everybody’s crammed in this tiny, gross shed. When it comes time to do the toast the best man says, “How ‘bout this rain? We sure need it.”

And who else didn't say that?

Campers. That was us this weekend. I was on assignment at Possum Kingdom lake so we decided that would be a good excuse to take our annual camping trip with the Loyds.

This was last year:





This was this year:









Poor Loyds. Their “Embassy Suites” tent leaked! Our “Motel 6” didn’t do much better. It’s a really gross feeling to be wet and cold for almost 24 hours.

And did I mention my assignment was to write about water sports? We did get in a quick boat trip before it poured:





Possum Kingdom is beautiful and I recommend it to all campers and water-sports lovers. But if you’re gonna go when it rains, get yourself a plan b.


Or at least a tent that doesn't leak.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Never Let ‘Em See you Sweat



If you ever hear me call Frank, “Sweat” or hear him say, “Oh, that was sweat,” there’s a good reason: Frank can’t spell.

He replied to an email from me in 1999 and I guess I had said something nice to him so he wrote, “That was sweat.” Of course, he meant “sweet.” I, being the spelling bee champ of 1988, mocked him.

I told him that I would start calling him “Sweaty” because a). it sort of sounds like “sweetie” with an Alabama accent and b). he’s a pretty sweaty guy.

I didn’t know then that “sweat” would become the most common word in our relationship vernacular:

Seven-and-a-half years later I still call him “Sweat” or “Mr. Sweat” or “Sweatonio” or “Sweaters.”

We replace words in songs with it like “Did you ever know that you’re my sweaty? You’re everything I would like to be…” or “Welcome to the Sweaty, we got fun and games…” or “I’m bringing Sweaty back…them other boys don’t know how to act.”

Sometimes after church we’ll have a song stuck in our head and we’ll accidentally sing something like, “Seek ye first the kingdom of Sweat…” and then one of us will say, “Wait! You can’t replace God with Sweat! That’s blasphemy!”

Whenever someone does something nice, cool or thoughtful we say, “Oh, that was sweat.”

He now calls ME “Sweat” or “Mrs. Sweat” or “Sweatonia” or “Sweater.”

We try to keep all the “sweat-talk” to a minimum when we’re around other people but sometimes it just slips out. I rarely call him by his name and I’m not even sure he KNOWS my name!

So I’m just warning you of this in case you’re hanging out with us and one of us launches into, “Oh, we’re halfway there…oh-oh, living on a sweat!”

Hmmm…I just replaced prayer. That WAS NOT very sweat of me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ode to the Omelet

I’m over smoothies. I’ve moved on to the omelet.

“But Writinggal, an omelet and a smoothie are not even in the same genre!”

Oh, but they are. To me, they’re both smorgasbords and I LOVE a good smorgasbord. You see, ever since my palette change I like to eat foods that involve a lot of, well, food.

So with the smoothie I had the blender and I could take anything from the fridge and throw it in there: bananas, yogurt, milk, Kashi, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, flax seed, ice, orange juice. I’d really just stand in front of the fridge and think, “Hmmm…could I put some pimento cheese in there?” It was like the blender was my blank canvas.

Now it’s like the eggs (or Egg Beaters—had to switch because I was eating so many) are my blank canvas. I think it started when I went to brunch with my sister in Houston and the place had a salmon omelet. I was like, “You can put salmon in an omelet? That’s freaking awesome.” It also had this green, creamy dressing on it which reminded me of my fave Green Goddess dressing. So when I got home I tried to reenact it.

I decided to add green onions because I put them on everything.

(Quick Sidebar: I used to not know what green onions were. When a recipe called for them I would go to the onion section and say, “White, yellow, red…I guess they’re out of green.” Frank was with me one time and I told them how they were always out of green. Then when I was on another aisle he came over and was holding these long, green-bean looking things and said, “Elsa, the sign said that THESE were green onions!” We were both perplexed. When I got them home, cup them up and caught a whiff of them, I called my mom and said, “So this is what’s in chicken salad!” Now I consume a bushel a week. Do they come in bushels?)

So after the green onions I added cheese and jalapeƱos …and of course my canned salmon. It was, as Rachael Ray would say, yum-o.

And when I like something I have to eat it every day. So I started adding to it: basically, any vegetable that I had in the fridge I would throw in: onions, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, tomatoes…I really wanted to incorporate my spinach leaves so I put them on the bottom:




My omelet gets so big I can barely fold it! Yesterday I got really adventurous and threw in baby carrots--not completely awesome in an omelet.

Tips from Thea asked me yesterday, “Would you ever throw in some leftover lasagna?” Don’t be silly, TfT…but I might throw in some ricotta cheese…or maybe some ground beef…and the tomato sauce wouldn’t be bad. Okay, a lasagna omelet would be pretty yum-o actually!

But a lasagna smoothie? I’d have to draw the line.

Unless it had green onions in it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

WWJD? Sell advertising space!

You may think that sitting on the floor of a cash cube, chest deep in wrinkled, fake money was the low point of my career but it doesn’t even come close. It’s like twelfth to last. Moments that rank lower include the Sonic dumpster debacle of 1995 , the whole summer of 1994 at Michael’s Arts and Crafts and trudging through mud at NASCAR to check on mini-donuts in 2002.

But the lowest of all was my first job out of college. We’ll call it the eight months of selling newspaper ads to people who had no money to buy newspaper ads. It was like trying to sell ice to Eskimos. Or shoes to Britney Spears.

Common rebuttals included, “Is it more than $50?” and “What’s the smallest ad you got? I’ll buy a 1 inch x 1 inch ad and I’ll run it one time. Then we’ll “test” it and see if a bunch of people sign up for karate classes…oh, and I want to include 200 words…”

The worst part (as is the worst part of most jobs) was my boss. We’ll call him Max. No, Max sounds too cool. He wasn’t cool. He had bright blonde hair and thought he was cool but he was the most obnoxious, slimiest, sales guy ever. We’ll call him Don.

Did I tell you that Don drove a yellow corvette?

And the worst part…he wore a WWJD bracelet. I’m not saying it’s bad to wear that bracelet but if you’re gonna wear it, you better be on your best behavior. My friend at work would say, “Does Don look at that every day and say, ‘What would Jesus do? He’d sell advertising space!’”

He gave me daily pep talks about how I could be a better salesperson. These included analogies to Xerox and Coke. “Yes, Don, I agree,” I’d say. “If I was selling copy machines or sugar drinks I’d be a great salesperson. Nobody wants your stinkin’ newspaper ads!” Okay, that’s not exactly what I said but whatever it was, Don decided that he needed to crack the whip on me.

He told me that every day I had to bring back 15 business cards from people I had visited. But these people didn’t have business cards! We were out in the country; they were lucky to have cash registers! My same friend at work who mocked the WWJD bracelet suggested that I go to a local restaurant and grab the fishbowl full of business cards from the hostess stand. We chuckled at the idea of me walking into our office with the fishbowl and plopping it on Don’s desk.

I think that may have been the only time we laughed at that job.

Since I knew nobody wanted to buy ads and I couldn’t get any business cards, I’d just spend my days at the local mall. The knick-knack-figurine store at the mall had once bought an ad from me so I figured if anybody asked, I’d say I was just visiting them. And I did visit them…but then I’d just window shop (couldn’t really shop because I didn’t make any money seeing as I didn’t sell any ads).

But then that plan backfired when a guy at the knick-knack-figurine store that I visited every day thought I liked him and asked me out. I had to get out of there. I was becoming a mall rat. And I hadn’t even snagged a fish bowl yet!

So after eight months of pep talks, scoldings, driving around aimlessly and getting doors slammed in my face, I walked into Don’s office and told him I was quitting to work at an advertising agency.

He told me I’d starve.

I said, “Well you know what? That’s what Jesus would do!”

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Interruptive Messaging

I’d say I’m pretty hip to the technology scene. I mean, I email. I don’t text message because I don’t like to use numbers to spell words. Personal preference.

And I’ll just go ahead and say it: I will never be an IMer.

When I was working in Austin the whole office IMed. They even IMed with clients. In fact, me not being on IM was very inconvenient to them, so they told me.

So one day I agreed and let one of the recent college grads set me up on it. The first thing we did was pick out an Avatar for me. I didn’t know what that meant but it took us like half an hour to finish it. We had to find the perfect face, hairstyle, head scarf, earrings, sunglasses…apparently it’s all about accessorizing with Avatars. When we were done I said, “I think I sort of look like a drag queen.” She said, “Oh, that’s okay. You change it like, every day anyway.” Huh? I’m going to spend 30 minutes each day outfitting a virtual me? I don’t even spend that long dressing the three-dimensional me.

She then sent out this announcement email to the whole company saying, “Elsa is FINALLY on IM!! And look at her Avatar; it’s too cute!!”





Suddenly, I started getting flooded with IMs. I would try to respond and then more would come. It was different than email; I didn’t feel like I could ignore them. I think they know if I’m there or not. It’s very big brother, the whole thing.

I gave it about two hours and then shut it down and never opened it again. That was the most unproductive two hours of my life. All I accomplished was picking out three different hand placements for my Avatar.

So now I’m accidentally signed up for the IM that comes with Hotmail. I even have a little man at the bottom of my screen that tells me when people sign in. Yes, Jane, I get a little pop up that says you’re online. Same goes for you, Amy R! One day someone did IM me from it. I wrote back and said, “I don’t really IM…” She said, “Then why do you have MSN Instant Messenger?” I told her I had no idea.

Someone else IMed me and asked me some random question. I wrote back and then went back to work. But then they popped up again. It felt like someone was tapping me on the shoulder every five seconds! Who wants that? I answered the second question and then clicked out of the whole thing. I’m not sure but I think that might be the same as slamming a door in someone’s face or hanging up on them. If that was you, sorry about that.

I like to be able to choose when I want to respond to someone. And I like to have the option to not respond at all.

And speaking of options, check out my new Avatar:


Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday Musings

I always give the Aggies a hard time because their cheers sound zombie-ish and freaky. Plus, I don’t get their awkward hand gestures or how that translates into encouraging your football team. But still, at least they’re creative and cohesive.

We Texas fans can only get together on one cheer and it goes like this:

One drunk guy: TEXAS
Everybody else: FIGHT
ODG: TEXAS
EE: FIGHT
Repeat two more times and then go into:

ODG: OU
EE: SUCKS
Repeat loudly three more times and then…

ODG: OU
Some of the crowd: Sucks

ODG: OU
About three people: sucks

Another fun fact: We like that cheer so much that we even do it when we’re not playing OU.

Since the State Fair is in full swing, Frank had a hankering for some fried corny dogs. Luckily, I just bought a box of mini ones at the store (had a coupon) and of course, we have our trusty fryer. Now it takes about three mini corn dogs to equal one regular corn dog but Frank kept saying, “I’m gonna go fry up some more!” And I would say, “Haven’t you had enough?” And he’d say, “But they’re mini!” So I think he ate the equivalent of 17 regular corn dogs.

And when we were done with the canola oil did we dump it in the sink? NO! Cul de Sac Carrie had a spare coffee can that I now keep under my sink! Her mother was in town and she gave me a whole list of other things that can’t go down the disposal:

Green onions
Banana peels
Coffee grounds

Oh, and speaking of mini, have you ever had a Krystal?



Quick childhood memory:
When we used to go to Memphis to visit family it was big treat to get Krystal burgers. They’re little, like White Castle.

Back to present day:
So when we got our house here in Dallas we noticed there was a Krystal really close! We could go all the time! Have we ever gone? No! In fact, when we were in Atlanta two months ago, I saw a Krystal and said, “Oh, a Krystal! We have to stop and get mini hamburgers!” Frank said, “But we have one right by our house.” I almost wish we didn’t have one because I like how it used to be a traveling treat.

My point? We had Krystal this weekend. It was Frank’s first time. He thought they were too oniony. I loved them!!


I’ve got a new nickname:
I’ve been waiting on this magazine to pay me for an article that I wrote three years ago. Finally, 1,000 days later, the check arrived this weekend. Woo hoo!! I ripped it open. Amount was right…address was right…but something wasn’t…

Instead of making the check out to Elsa Simcik, they made it out to Evergreen. Yes, Evergreen. Where they got that, I don’t know. But I think I’ll stick with it. It sounds earthy.

Speaking of earthy, we FINALLY planted flowers in our front yard. We went with pansies. When we were discussing our garden with the Home Depot landscape expert I accidentally called them “panties.” Then I started giggling. A lot.

Happy Christopher Columbo Day!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Cash Cube Chronicles


Speaking of circuses, I’ve spent some time with my fair share of carnies.

When I was in the advertising world, it wasn’t all Amanda on Melrose Place. In fact, instead of being known as the “hot blonde/short skirt/tough-talkin’ girl” I had another, not-so-flattering nickname.

This is the story of how I became known as “cash cube girl.”

A client at Dell asked if I had any ideas for how he could motivate his sales people. I had just finished organizing an event for another group with a “Fear Factor” theme that involved me ordering 500 gummy tarantulas from a place in California, calling all over the country to find the perfect airplane barf bags and running around various grocery stores demanding all their tubs of chocolate pudding. Since I wasn’t about to suggest anything as complicated as that (the gummy tarantulas sat in my cubicle for about a week), I told him that at the end of that particular soiree, we had a cash cube. Would he like one of those?





Now you know what I’m talking about. Someone gets inside, money swirls around, everybody cheers. It’s minutes of fun. He liked the idea. I called the cash cube place. Had the carnie deliver it; pick it up. It was all very “turn key” as we used to say in advertising.


Well, the client loved the cash cube—a little too much. He called again and this is how it went:

Cash Cube Lover (CCL):“The cash cube went over really well. I think I’d like to have it come out here every Friday for three months.”

WG: “Um…okay. I’ll call the carnie guy and see if we can get a good rate for that.”

CCL: “But the thing is…I think it would be better if, instead of just putting it in one place, we moved it from sales group to sales group…there are six…and they’re on different floors.”

WG: “Okay…I think the carnie could do that.”

CCL: “But here’s the other thing: I don’t have time to facilitate the whole thing. Could you come out with the carnie and kinda be like the MC?”

WG: “But the carnie could do that.”

CCL: “No he couldn’t. Only you can. You’re the best, Writinggal!”

Okay, he didn’t say that exactly. And even though I told him the ad agency would charge him hundreds of dollars for me to go out there and play Vanna White every Friday, he insisted.

So for the next three months on Friday mornings my co-workers would see me running around frantically and say, “Oh, it must be cash cube day!”

Here were my duties as “cash cube girl:”

I had to go around to teacher supply stores and buy a bunch of fake money (whatever amount the sales people would “capture” was transferred into some account they had that was real money). Fun fact: Once I bought so much fake money that my credit card stopped working.

I’d meet up with the carnie and we’d wheel the cash cube around from floor to floor. I had to walk down the aisles yelling, “Cash cube!” so people would know to come out of their cubicles. They’d tell each other, “The cash cube girl is here!”

Once they were all gathered around I went over the rules:
“No crouching, no jumping and no biting! You grab the money and put it in the slot. Whatever makes it through the slot is yours.” Then the questions would come and I would answer:

“There are about five $100 bills in there, a few $50s, lots of $20s, tons of $10’s and even more $1s.”

“Someone won $500 at the last one!”

Then I would call them up, one by one, according to who sold the most servers, laptops, desktops, whatever. Sometimes the crowd wasn’t that enthused so I had to initiate the cheering and clapping. Sometimes they followed. Sometimes they didn’t. Then it was just me, jumping up and down and cheering while the crowd and the carnie watched me with pity.

I also had to play cash cube cop. Sometimes people would try to slip in more money after their time was up. Or sometimes they’d want me to count money that was halfway through the slot but not completely. When I wouldn’t allow it, they would sometimes boo me. I mean like forty people, loudly booing. Who boos the cash cube girl?

In between cash cube events I had to get in the cash cube and straighten out the fake money. Once, when I was sitting on the floor of the cash cube, chest deep in fake money, this girl walked by and said, “Elsa?”

It was a girl from my sorority. Nice.

I can’t remember what I said but I tried to make sure that the message she got was, “Yes, I did graduate from college and get a degree and I DO have a real job and this is just like a fun part of my real job but not my real job.”

I don’t think she got it. She just thought, “She’s the cash cube girl.”

In fact, after those twelve weeks nobody over there could see me as anything but “cash cube girl.”

Later I went to a meeting about a big interactive project and I felt everyone looking at me suspiciously. One of my clients whispered to me, “They’re all thinking, ‘What’s the cash cube girl doing here?’”

I announced, “Yes, I AM the cash cube girl. I’m here to say that during this meeting I don’t want to see any crouching, jumping…and definitely no biting!”

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cookinggal Gets Critiqued



Eight.

That was the highest rating Frank had bestowed upon a dish of mine until this week. It was for the pizza I made two weeks ago. An eight was unprecedented so I knew that meant it was really good.

“How chauvinistic/Harvard President/1950’s of your husband to rate your food, Cookinggal!” (is what some might say).

But since I’m trying to figure out what’s good and what’s bad, I WANT him to rate them. Plus, Frank is very quantitative so that’s the best way to get his true opinion.

So if pizza was an eight, what’s a really low score?

Farmhouse Chicken: Four



It involved baby carrots and I thought they’d soften when I cooked them but they were still hard and a little tasteless. So after Frank’s first bite he said, “It’s all right. Maybe a five.” He said the carrots were kinda throwing him off.

A five? That’s a tough one. Does that mean I should make it again or I shouldn’t?

He finished his first helping and then got up to get more. Ha. It couldn’t be that bad, I thought.

But then as he took the last bite of his second helping he looked up and said guiltily, “Um, this may be a four.”

“That’s not fair!” I said. “You said that because your last bite was full of carrots!”

Last night’s Jambalaya got a seven. (Spiciness always brings up the ratings. I could add Cayenne pepper to a piece of cardboard and it would probably at least get a three.)

But on Tuesday I received my highest rating yet—a perfect 10. What exotic dish earned the coveted reward? A filet mignon? Lemon-glazed salmon served over a bed of wild rice? An Asian-inspired wok concoction?

No. Chocolate Chip Cookies. And they weren’t even from scratch. They were the kind that you just drop the dough on the baking sheet and bake. Oh, and I’m not talking about the tube with the dough that you roll up into little balls yourself. No, this is the kind that has pre-cut cookies. It’s one step away from Chips Ahoy.

I made them for the painters who were painting the exterior of our house. I told Frank that I made them cookies and he said, “You gave them YOUR cookies?” (I don’t have a strong background in baking.) I told him that I followed Cul de Sac Carrie’s advice and took them out of the oven right before they were finished baking and let them continue to bake on the baking sheet.

The painters gobbled up the “galletas” in minutes. I knew I had a hit! Luckily I saved three for Frank. When he tried them that evening he kept oohing and ahing and saying, “YOU made these?!” Yes, I took the pre-cut cookie dough pieces out of the bag, placed them on the baking sheet and put them in the oven. Brilliant!

Frank said with his mouth full, “I give these a ten! A ten!”

What an honor. I have so many people to thank. First, the Pillsbury Dough Boy for providing the dough and directions, Cul de Sac Carrie for her baking-savvy tip, the tres hombres who sampled them first (way to be my guinea pigs, muchachos) and of course, my very supportive and very outspoken husband.

He’s lucky he liked my cookies. Otherwise I would have made him suffer with a little farmhouse chicken (extra carrots included).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Three-Oh-Two

Monday was my 300th blog. Why didn’t I say that on Monday? Or even Tuesday? Duh. I was busy gathering celeb comments about blogs 200-300!

Here’s what everyone is saying:

Nicole Richie


Hey, girl. I like the one about Smoothies. And the one about Blue Mesa. Oh, and the one about the cooking class.


Is that because they’re all about food and you never get to eat?



Um, maybe. Hey, how many calories are in a kernel of Kashi? Could I have half of one?



Ken Paves

Writinggal, baby, you’ve been so busy writing that you’re neglecting your mane. Do you know that all you have to do is get some hair extensions from the line that Jessica and I created and you would improve by like seven points?



What’s wrong with my hair, Ken?



It’s just a little restaurant week; don’t you think, Jess?


Definitely. But if it makes you feel better, I'm totally sporting shkirts now!



K-Fed


I liked it when you talked about Brit and her big boobs. I like them too. Both of them.




So how is it having four kids, Special K?




FOUR? What? Hold on. There’s Kori, Sean P, the new kid…that’s only three.



Um, what about Kaleb?



Dammit. I always forget that one. Hey, three out of four ain’t bad!


Hilary Duff

Hey, Writinggal!! I liked the one about the loop in Houston cause that’s where I’m from.




But you’re not Hilary Duff, you’re Haylie Duff.



Look, Hilary is really busy. I’m the next best thing. You’re lucky I didn’t send you Jamie Lynn Spears.



Hey! That’s my wife!



That’s your sister-in-law, K-Fed.



Dammit.

Steve, produce manager at Kroger’s

I like the one about shopping carts and of course the one about spinach because you gave a plug to my produce section. Thanks for keeping me informed about E. Coli outbreaks, Writinggal. But if you’re going to compare me to an actor, why can’t it be this guy?




My Grandma



What? Is this another question for your book? Aren’t you done with that yet? You better eat some grits.



Thanks for reading!