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Friday, September 29, 2006

And I call myself Cookinggal

Apparently, you’re not supposed to dump a big pan of cooking oil down the sink drain.

But come on, we’re talking about a girl who didn’t know what it meant to “brown meat.” If you’ll recall, when I first saw that on a recipe I said, “I know the meat is brown but what do I do with it?” Is this really that surprising?

I was at my neighbor’s house for our Granbury Girls State Fair-themed night. I was excited to use my Twinkie fryer (thanks, Lyndsay, for the gift three years ago) that I had never taken out of the box.

I thought it could be a fun activity for all the GGs to do together.

I brought the frozen Twinkies, the fyer but not enough cooking oil. So hostess Susan pitched in with some of her cooking oil. Then new neighbor Camille ran home and got some vegetable oil to add to the vat. My point? There was A LOT of oil.

The whole frying process was kinda gross as you can imagine. The Twinkies tasted good...but in a gross kinda way. It’s kinda like if you worked at McDonald’s and you knew how they made everything, you probably couldn’t eat it. Thus was my relationship with the fried Twinkies.

So when some of the GGs were off touring the house I decided to clean up all the fried Twinkie mess that I had made. Cul de Sac Carrie commented, “Wow, it even smells like the state fair!” I picked up the giant vat of oil, proceeded to dump it down the drain and said, “Yeah, and it even sounds like the state fair!”

Neighbor Karen stayed calm. She said, “Um, you might want to run some hot water and pour some soap down the drain.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you’re really not supposed to pour oil down the drain,” she said. She then explained something about congealing and clogging.

Now Frank had told me something similar about bacon grease but he had never mentioned that this applied to all oils. How was I to know?

When hostess Susan came back I was furiously running hot water down her drain and using up all her soap. I confessed what I had done. Kerry “with a K” said she knew of a good plumber. Others talked about how they always pour their oil in coffee cans.

So I really was the only one who didn’t know!

Later after we decided we had sufficiently cleansed the drain, I heard two GGs discussing my oil ignorance. “How could she not know that?” they said. Then this morning the word had spread to the men of the cul de sac. I was walking and my neighbor pulled up in his car and said, “I heard about you and the grease! You don’t know what to do with grease!!” He then laughed maniacally and drove away.

You know what I’m like? I’m like those people who try out for American Idol who can’t sing but love to do it. I love to cook but I really suck at it. Although I have to say, when it comes to meat, I'm a browning fool! (Yes, it's a verb!)

Even cousinValerie knows more about cooking than me!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Day Writinggal got Written off

Five years ago yesterday I lost my job. I got the boot. The pink slip. The “we no longer require your services” letter. I really should have seen it coming…but I didn’t.

The ad agency I was working for had been having layoffs for the last year. Sometimes they would have big cuts where they would hire extra security people to escort employees out of the building. Every day when I would walk into the building that year I half-expected to be leaving with an armed man in a few hours. Really. When I would walk up the stairs to my cube I would think, “Well, this may be the last time I walk up these stairs…”

But I just kept dodging it. During one particularly bloody round of lay offs several of my friends were let go. I was in my cube just bawling like an idiot and everyone thought I had been laid off. I worked closely with about thirteen other people and that day I think we lost a handful. Yep, we lost some good men.

That summer we lost more. Sure, some people just left on their own but others got the “whispering” lay off. That means that someone in authority came to them and said, “Psst…don’t tell anyone but you’re not going to work here in two more weeks” or “Hey, just to let you know…you’re only going to walk up those stairs seventeen more times. Don’t make a scene.” I got teary-eyed every time I saw people trickle out the door. The place was starting to look like a ghost town.

By the end of the summer the only people left on the team were me and my supervisor, Chris. Soon he even got a whisper: “We’re gonna let you go in a month.” He told them, “Fine. I’m going to use the rest of my vacation and go to Europe.”

When he returned they didn’t tell him to officially leave so he just kept working there. We both just carried on like normal. I even got a promotion. I figured the lay-off life was over.

But just when I had finished moving my multi-colored file folders to my bigger cube, Sept. 11th hit. They announced there would be more layoffs.

I asked Chris who he thought would get he ax. “Well me, obviously,” he said. “They already told me I was going to be laid off a few weeks ago.”

“Oh, right,” I said. “But that would mean I’d be left running an account that used to be run by fourteen people by myself. And I don’t know anything so that would be weird.”

So five years ago yesterday “they” called Chris into “their” office. “What a bummer,” I thought. “And it’s his birthday!”

When Chris came out he looked somber. I said, “So…what happened? Did they tell you to officially leave?” I had already been eyeing his cube. He shook his head and said, “Not me.”

“ME?!!!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought for sure it would be me.”

Instead of crying or even feeling a little sad, I actually felt relieved. I mean, I had been worrying about this for a year. I could finally move on. Plus, it was still early in the day—I could leave and still get paid!
“Well, I guess I have the rest of the day off! I’m gonna see what’s on Oprah,” I said.

“Um, actually, they want you to stay through tomorrow and finish up your work,” he said.


I had to go meet with HR and they gave me this letter and told me to sign it. The lady said, “Just sign here. It says that you understand that we won’t be requiring your services anymore.”

That’s when I got a little verklempt:

“That’s not true!” I exclaimed. “You DO need my services.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, confused by my outburst.

“Well, you’re making me come back tomorrow, aren’t you? You obviously need my services! This place won’t last without me!”

“Nonetheless,” she said calmly. “We still need you to sign this.”

It was all so unfair. I got laid off. I caused a scene. I didn't get a security escort to my car.

And I still had to climb those damn stairs!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why Green Day Rocks

Ah, who can forget Dookie? I was in high school. I remember when “Welcome to Paradise” came on the radio…

No, no. I don’t really think Green Day rocks. I mean, they sort of do. And their songs are perfect for spin class. Okay, maybe I’m a closet Green Day fan. But that’s not what I’m talking about here today.

This is a sequel to my orthodontist story from yesterday. Don’t worry; the title still fits:

On my first visit to the orthodontist I met this hygienist who was really friendly. We’ll call her Hygienist Heather.

Hygienist Heather chatted with me the whole time I was there. She was very excited to have someone her age as a patient. Although I don’t know how she was so sure I was an adult. Hello? I was wearing my cool Felix the Cat t-shirt!

Still, she wanted to gab about everything from how it seems like scrubs would be a cool thing to wear to work but really, they just make you fat because you don’t realize how much you’re eating to her five-year-old daughter to how she didn’t want to come to work that day because she had gone out the night before and was a little post-dundies to my article about your friends making you fat to…okay, I think that was it.

So at the end she walked me to the front desk and told the receptionist, “She needs to come back in two weeks and it MUST be on a green day!”

The receptionist said, “Okay! I’ll schedule her on a green day!”

Huh? What the heck’s a green day? For some reason (maybe because I was still giddy about dodging the braces bullet) I didn’t even ask.

So when I returned last Friday I wore a green shirt just for the occasion (even though I still didn’t know what that occasion was). I figured that, whatever it was, it meant that Hygienist Heather would be there and she wanted to make sure she was assigned to me since we were now BFF.

After they called me back I saw that everyone was wearing green scrubs. “So this is green day!” I thought. I scanned the office for my gal pal Hygienist Heather. I couldn’t wait to show her my improved gap, tell her about what’s been happening with me during the last two weeks and hear about her dating life. Oh, the chatting and giggling that would go on!

I saw her quickly walk past my chair to help another patient. Okay. So she was busy. I mean, it WAS green day after all. (I don’t know if that really means anything.) I figured she would come over to my chair when she got a chance. I glanced up at the computer screen next to my chair that had all the notes about me on it. You know, “Oldest patient we’ve ever treated…has the biggest gap we’ve ever seen in our lives…real freak show…belongs in a circus…” stuff like that. But then I saw in all caps: MUST COME ON A GREEN DAY!! They were really serious about this green day thing. I mean, they put it in writing.

As everyone started gathering around to look at my miraculous gap closing, I peered up at all of them to see if Hygienist Heather was there. I figured I’d give her a high five. Or maybe a hug since we’d bonded so much at my last appointment. But then I glanced out
the window and saw a terrible sight… Hygienist Heather was walking to her car! What was she doing? Going on her lunch break? When me, her BFF and E, her LYLAS her Sistah was sitting here in the chair…ON GREEN DAY!!

I felt betrayed. I mean, even if she was in a hurry she couldn’t give me the universal sign for “call me?” Sure, I don’t have her number and I’m not all that certain about her real first name but still…

When I made my next appointment I asked the receptionist, “That’s not a green day, is it?”
“No,” she said, “that’s a red day.”
“Good!” I told her, “Because I HATE green day!”

Then, by some strange coincidence or maybe a twist of fate, over the speakers I heard a musak-version of Green Day’s “Good Riddence:” It’s something unpredictable but in the
end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Green Day does Freakin’ Rock.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mind the Gap

So I’ve been wearing these itty bitty rubber bands on my teeth for exactly three weeks now. Up until last Friday I had no way of judging my progress except for peering into the mirror several times a day. However, I got plenty of feedback from people:

Frank: “Let me see your teeth. I think it’s working! I’m sure the gap is much smaller! Wait. No. I don’t think it’s moved at all. How much am I paying for this again?”

Amy J’s sister who is studying to be a nurse: “Rubber bands around your teeth? Um, I don’t think that’s gonna work.”

So on Friday I went back to the orthodontist to get some real input. Since last time I stuck out as the only adult in the waiting room, I decided to “teen up” my look a little bit: I wore my new fave novelty baby-tee “No One Cares about Your Blog,” teenage jeans and trendy sneakers. (Okay, they were New Balance but trust me, they’re totally juvenile.)

I sat down next to this other girl who was probably about 15 or 16 (hoping people would think we were fries). She was talking to a woman and her teenage daughter:

Woman: “Well, congratulations to you!”
Teen next to me: “I’m not sure if it’s such a good thing.”
Woman: “Nonsense. Every baby is a good thing!”
Woman’s teenage daughter: “I know with my first I felt the same way. It’s scary. But then when I saw my baby it was like, okay, I was meant to do this. Now I’m having another one!”

Yikes. I tried to listen more (wanted to find out what happened to the baby daddy) but then they called me back: "Elisa!" When I stood up the hygienist said, “So, um, you’re the…patient?”

Hello? I’m totally wearing teenage clothes! What? Just because I don’t have braces or a baby I can’t be a teenager?

A lady orthodontist (different than the last time) checked my gap against a picture they had taken. “Oh my gosh! Dr. Evans has got to see this,” she squealed before running off.

What? Did my gap actually get bigger? Were they going to see how many Jolly Ranchers they could fit in there?

Soon, Dr. Evans, the lady doctor, the hygienists, the kids getting their braces tightened with colored rubber bands and I’m pretty sure the two knocked up teens were gathered around my chair. They looked from the picture to me in awe.

They swiveled the computer screen around to face me and I saw my “before” picture. I can’t believe I was walking around with that thing! That gap was enormous!

After some official measurements Dr. Evans announced that my gap had gone from three millimeters to one! Hurray. I only have to wear these things for another couple of weeks and then I get a retainer.

Then I’ll totally be a teenager…minus all the acne and angst.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Musings

Mondays are hectic for Writinggal. By the time I get back from leading the housewives of Frisco in a rockin’ spin class—we ended with Guns N Roses today—it’s time to do my real writing. You know, the writing that pays the bills. Well, not all the bills. Maybe the water bill.

So like last week I have a few musings for you; I think I’ll make this a Monday tradition:

Sunflowers = Dundies

After: what a sad story.

On a lighter note (how Ann Curry of me), Frank and I made a pizza!

We got the recipe from Crystal's blog poco cocoa. We added chicken since Frank doesn’t think it’s a meal unless there’s meat.

It was so good; Frank even gave it an 8 out of 10 which is about as high as he goes:

In financial news, we’re up to $72.91 on the blog! That means we only have $27.09 left to go and then we can have a blog party. Keep clicking so we can have the party soon!

I’ll invite all your favorite blog characters including Big Daddy!

Here’s a pic of Big Daddy’s two daughters: Avery and Gracie. Avery is crying because Big Daddy isn’t in the car with us. I did a pretty good cover of “Bippity Boppity Boo” and all was okay.

But then I started crying when she reminded me that bagged spinach is still dundies. Ten days and counting:

Okay, that $60 water bill ain’t gonna pay itself. WG Out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Have you Met Lenny?

If you watch the show formerly known as Katie and now known as Meredith, you recognize Lenny. He’s in the crowd every morning.

Who is he?

I dunno.

I figured I could do a little internet searching and figure it out. All I found was other people talking about how they couldn’t find anything about him either. And yes, Thea, I even tried “Googling my brains out.” It’s exhausting.

Now, as Glenn Beck would say…Here’s what I do know:

His first name is Lenny. His last name is Boyette. Lenny Boyette.

He’s from the Bronx.

He stands in the crowd of the Today Show every morning and he’s never in the third or even second row; he’s always right in front. He even gets a front row spot on concert days—even if there’s a big concert like Kool and the Gang.

I remember the first time Matt Lauer acknowledged him. He said something like, “We see you here every day, what’s your name?”

He said, “Lenny.”

I don’t remember what happened after that but I guess we didn’t get anymore information.

Then he was gone for a couple of weeks back in 2000 or 2001. When he came back Matt asked him where he’d been and he said he had to have surgery.

And apparently he wasn’t there just to stalk Katie (as was my original theory). He’s continued to show up to the show these last two weeks while Meredith and Al pretend to like each other through clenched teeth. Today he even brushed some lint off of Meredith’s shoulder and then she turned and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Matt gave him a high five!

I think he might even go to Weekend Today but I’m not sure. I’ll check tomorrow and let you know.

Here’s what I don’t know:

Who he is
Why he comes to the Today Show every morning
How he manages to stand there for three hours crammed in with all those people. (I did it once and I could only last about 45 minutes.)
How early he has to get there to get that good spot
If he has a job
If he eats breakfast before he arrives or after (and if it's cereal, is he a sogger or a cruncher?)
Why he always wears sunglasses and a hat
His opinion on Neil Diamond

Thanks for playing "Have you met Lenny?" I hope you feel like you know him better now. If you don't, no need to worry. I've been watching the dude for seven years and I just figured out his last name.

And if I had to guess, I'd say he's a sogger.

Thursday, September 21, 2006



Would you rather have an ear where your nose should be or a nose where your ear should be?

I guess if you had an ear where your nose should be then you wouldn’t have a nose at all. But if you had a nose where your ear should be then you’d still have another ear…except you’d have a space on your face without a nose. That’s a tough one.

These are the types of things I ponder when I’m around my friend Amy J. She is the queen of the WYR (Would You Rather) game and we played it on her birthday a week ago.

It’s an awesome game but it carries with it two fatal flaws:

1. The group usually ends up sitting in silence once they’ve run out of WYRs.
2. Somebody always spoils it with responses like, “Well I would just get plastic surgery and move my nose back to my face.” FRANK!

But if you play with Amy, you don’t have to worry about either of those problems because…

1. She NEVER runs out of WYRs. She’s got bunches of ‘em stored up and when she runs out, she comes up with more.

2. After she poses the WYR she immediately screams at the players, “And you can’t change anything. You can’t do anything about it! You have to choose whether you want your butt in the front or boobs in the back! You have to!”

(Her specialty is moving body parts around.)

Here are a few classics:

Would you rather have one outfit that fits you perfectly or a closet full of clothes that are two sizes too small?

Okay, that’s the only clean one of hers that I can think of. A lot of them involve the toilet.

But I found this web site with some good ones:

Would you rather go on a date with bad breath or body odor? (Amy is screaming right now, “And you can’t use breath mints! You can’t use deodorant!!”)

Would you rather have three eyes or webbed feet?

Would you rather always have to say what’s on your mind or never be able to speak again? (Message from Amy: “And you can’t carry around a little chalk board and write everything down!!”)

Would you rather be stranded on an island alone or with someone you hate?

Okay, so that’s all the clean ones they had too. For some reason this game always tends to take a nasty, stinky turn.

But luckily, I chose the ear over the nose so I can’t smell a thing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On the Other Foot

I’m no Imelda Marcos. I’m no Carrie Bradshaw. I’m no…somebody else who’s really into shoes. Oh, I got it: every other woman in the world.

Maybe it’s because I have bunions.
Maybe it’s because I wear an odd size.
Maybe it’s because I’m frugalgal.

Or maybe I just never know which shoes are cool! Take this one, for instance:

Does it say Sassy Socialite or Harry Hines Hooker? To me, it could go either way.

What about this one?

Payless Shopper or Aspiring Writer?

Trick question: they’re the same person. But, apparently, to Via Spiga, they’re for writers because they call the shoe “ViaWriter.”

Hey, Mr. Spiga-I hope you’re not trying to corner the freelance writer’s market because this is what we wear to work:

Yes, cheap, dirty flip flops. That’s about $23 worth of shoes right there, folks. Beyond that I have three pairs of running shoes and tall black boots which or may not be out of style by now. I’m keeping my toes crossed.

Here’s one more example:

Whaddya think? Oprah or Grand Ole Opry?

I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be cool because they’re Chinese Laundry. And I think Chinese Laundry is cool because Liz wears them. And I think that Liz is cool because everybody compliments her on her shoes (even other people who seem to know a lot about shoes).

I once bought a pair of Chinese Laundry shoes and told Frank, “I really don’t know if these are cute or not but it’s a brand Liz buys so they must be." I’m pretty sure he responded with something about jumping off a bridge.

But I did get lots of compliments on them (which made the limping around the next day somewhat worth it). And although that one experience with cool shoes didn’t make me want to be a “footie,” I really hope that Imelda, Carrie and Liz will collectively decide that cheap, dirty flip flops are cool. My bunions will thank you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Writinggal Sells Out

I really wanted to tell you about how I did this Yoga video where I had to stand on my head and do a back-bend and all the hysteria that followed.

Then I wanted to tell you about this other workout video that involved me and a hula hoop.

Oh, and have you ever heard my theory on how I think that consuming Gu and listening to music while you run is cheating?

What about the one that I think mommies are full of it when they say they stay in shape by chasing their kids around?

And my Grandma? I’ve got the latest on her and her crab walking.

Well, too bad. I can’t tell you about any of it.

Remember on Seinfeld when Kramer sold his stories to Peterman and then he couldn’t tell them anymore? That’s what I’ve done. I’ve sold all of the above stories to the newspaper.

So if you want to know how all those turn out, you’ll have to pay $.50. Or I guess you could just go online. But one day maybe I’ll put them all in a book; you can buy it and can keep it on your nightstand or perhaps the back of your toilet (what an honor).

And maybe my book will become a major motion picture starring Kate Hudson as me. You’ll have to pay $8.50 just to see my blog on the big screen. I know; being my blog reader is becoming a pricey hobby. Alas, if only you had clicked on my ads, I wouldn’t have had to turn it into a blhore (blog whore).

Monday, September 18, 2006


Too busy for a real blog today; here’s a splattering of musings:

I totally rock at the Chicken Dance:

Frank hearts the Royal Flush:

Sarah and I totally smoked ‘em in the Oktoberfest 5K:

Her boys Charlie and Cameron were really impressed:

I still miss you, Spinach! (Four days and counting).

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm Strong to the Finich Cause I Eats Me Spinach

What a way to wake up. The alarm went off and Frank groggily turned on “Meredith” like we do every morning. I vaguely remember hearing the words “warning” and “E Coli” but I was trying to get to the conclusion of my dream which involved sitting in a mansion and being served kolaches by gay guys in tuxedos. They were singing “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast. It was nice.

But just as my waiter was lifting up the silver lid of the tray to reveal my kolache, Frank said, “Hey, don’t we have bagged spinach?”

I groggily said, “Yes, I just bought two bags yesterday.” Mmmm….did these kolaches come from the Czech Stop? Oh, Weikels’ in La Grange…nice.

“Well they’re saying we can’t eat it,” Frank said.

Ah! No bagged baby spinach? I pushed the gay waiter out of way, dropped the kolaches and yelled, “Well turn it up!”

Then Ann Curry told me that all these people across the country were getting sick and the only thing they had in common was that they all ate bagged spinach. One person even died.

It would be hard to find someone who consumes as much bagged baby spinach as me. I put it on, in and around everything. Sometimes I even put it under things. Frank and I have this joke that fancy restaurants always add “and it’s served on a bed of wild rice” to entrĂ©e descriptions. So when I put bagged spinach under something (like an omelet), Frank says, “And it was served over a bed of wild baby spinach.”

And now Ann Curry is telling me I have to throw it out! I just bought two giant bags yesterday! And I’ve already opened one and made an enormous bagged baby spinach salad with it! So far so good. But I’m not taking any chances; I’m going to take one bag back to Kroger today and get my $2.50.

Yes, life will be different without my beloved bagged baby spinach. I like the kind with Popeye on the front. I’ll miss you, Popeye. I’ll miss you, bed of wild bagged baby spinach.

But with my $2.50 I can buy a few kolaches (minus the singing gay waiters).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Circus Ole′

I have never seen Cirque du Soleil but I remember the first time I heard about it in college. My roommate had gone to see it in Vegas and this is what she had to say about it:

“We saw the most amazing show! It was just like, so, amazing!”

“Really? What did they do?”

“It was like…all these amazing things…”

“Well, how much did it cost?”

“Like $100 but I would have paid more!”

“Really? But just last week you couldn’t afford to go through the Taco Bell drive thru.”

“No, don’t you see? This is SO MUCH BETTER than that! I would have paid anything to see this amazing show!”

Ever since then I’ve heard lots of people talk about Cirque du Soleil and not only do I still not know what goes on there, up until 2001 I thought it was called “Circus Ole′.”

So here’s my response after people tell me they’ve seen the show: “So you think you can die now because you saw it, right?”

They usually respond affirmatively.

I just went to their website and the first thing I saw was this molester clown beckoning me to come in. $100+ for that? Really? Are you sure they're not slipping you drugs?

Also, I just can’t get how anything resembling a circus can be that great. I loathe the circus. Okay, I’ve only been once (and I was already a grown-up) but it was really long and tedious. Yes, I thought I could die after seeing the circus…die of boredom.

Now in book club we’re reading a book that takes place in a circus. I’m only halfway through so I don’t have a final judgment yet. But everybody’s drooling over it and going on and on about how incredible it is…even the back cover critics are giving accolades like I’ve never seen before such as “I am hopelessly, unabashedly in love with this book…” Woah. I’ve only heard people get that ambiguously excited about one other thing…

Circus Ole′!

“What’s so good about the book?”

“It’s just amazing!”

“What happens in the book?”

“Amazing things!”

“How much does the book cost?”

“I would pay thousands of dollars to read this book!”

“I know. I know. You can die now because you read this book.”

“YES!! Well, I’d like to see Cirque du Soleil first…”

“Um…I’m pretty sure the correct pronunciation is Circus Ole′. Duh.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Are you about to have a baby? I bet I can guess when it will be born. So far I’m two for three.

I got cousin Nicole’s right:

I got Misty’s wrong:

But just yesterday I predicted that Kentwood’s finest would deliver that very day:

Now I can’t predict the date far out. (If I could I'd be able to retire after winning gobs of money in baby shower contests.) I just sort of get this feeling the day it’s happening.

With cousin Nicole I knew she was due sometime towards the end of August. So on August 17th I just happened to look at the calendar and out of nowhere I thought, “Hmmm…I wonder if Nicole is having her baby. I always liked the 17th. That sounds like a good birthday.” Then, since I had been staring at my calendar for at least five minutes, contemplating why I love the 17th, my picture slideshow on my computer started up and this photo of the two of us appeared:

I said out loud this time, “I KNOW Nicole is having her baby today!” Later that evening we got the email that this ten-pounder, Matthew, joined his sister, Maddie, and brother, Michael:

I thought I had it right with Misty, too. On August 30th I got that feeling again. Well, mainly I thought, “Misty is due in August and the month’s almost over. I bet she’s having her baby right now!”

That evening we got an email from Misty with nothing in the subject line. I yelled to Frank, “I haven’t opened this email but I’m gonna say right now that this is a picture of Misty’s baby. I KNEW she was having it today!”

Turns out she had it nine days earlier. Darn.

Here is Madison anyway because, even though I got it wrong, she’s still super cute:

And then there was Brit. I swear I didn’t even know her exact due date. All I knew was that it was sometime in September and that it was Sean Preston’s birthday. But I didn’t know S.P.’s b-day; I just glanced at an US Weekly that had a pic of Brit on the cover and said to Frank, “I’m gonna say it. Britney Spears is at the hospital right now and her baby was either born today or will be born tomorrow.”

Then this morning I regretted that prediction. Why was I so bold? I had guessed Misty’s all wrong and I’ve known her forever. What made me think I could guess the fourth Fed's birthday?

And then Kidd Kraddick told me I was right. Brit delivered her bundle yesterday, 9/12.

Now, before you start asking me to predict if you’re having a boy or a girl, if the baby will grow up to resent you or if Brit will ever get rid of her pregnancy weight, remember, I can’t foresee everything—just due dates.

But if you want my opinion, I say that by September 15th, she’ll be hitting the Cheetos again.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Feelin’ Loopy

I grew up in a suburb outside of Houston. Scott Womack likes to call my hometown of Friendswood “Pleasantville.” So anyway, in Pleasantville we were far enough away from Houston that we didn’t discuss on a daily basis our proximity to the downtown area.

But if you live in the Houston city limits, I’m willing to bet that at least once a day—and maybe up to a dozen times—you say or hear the L-word. I know because whenever I talk to people from Houston this comes up constantly:

“So where do you live?”
“On San Felipe…inside The Loop.”

“What did you do last night?”
“Oh, just went to some bars inside The Loop.”

“What do you feel like eating tonight?”

“Anything…as long as it’s inside The Loop.”

This almighty Loop is really just a highway—610. And guess what, Houstonians: nobody else cares how close or how far you are from it! Now if you want to tell me where you live in relation to the Galleria, that I get. If you want to say you live Downtown—have at it. But saying whether or not you live inside The Loop is just like adding, “It’s okay; I’m cool” to the end of all your sentences:

“I live on Bellaire Blvd…it’s okay; I’m cool.”

“Oh, schwoo. You must live inside The Loop. What a relief.”

When Frank and I went to Atlanta last month we learned that they are guilty of worshipping a circular highway as well, except they call it “The Perimeter.”

I was telling my friend Kim we were over on such-and-such street but she had never heard of it. I said, “But it’s like two streets away from you, surely you’ve passed it before.”

She said, “This is gonna sound silly but I don’t know it because it’s outside The Perimeter.”

Outside The Perimeter? And we were there? Is there a place I can go wash my hands?

Maybe I’m just bitter because while we don’t have a Loop or a Perimeter in Dallas, we do have 635 (which is technically a circle but a really giant one). And I live North of it. People will ask, “So do you live in Addison? Plano?” and sometimes even “Frisco?”

“Oh, no!” I answer, defensively.

“I live in Dallas, the City of Dallas. I swear. It says so on my trash can!”

And then sometimes, just in case they still look suspicious, I add, “It’s okay; I’m cool.”

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunflower Power

I know what you’re thinking; this is a fake flower.

That’s an understandable conclusion, given our horticultural history:

-Whenever we have any flower or plant or tree in or around our house, it’s a fake.

-Neither Frank nor I have ever grown anything—not even a Chia pet.

-Our “garden” in the front yard is the laughing stock of the neighborhood. Our neighbor even offered to plant flowers FOR us.

-We once went to Home Depot to look for plants and quickly left in confusion. We did, however, pick up a CD about gardening. (I kept it about three weeks before I threw it away).

So I don’t blame you for thinking this miraculous sunflower is faux.

But it’s not! We grew this!

Here's how: Back in May the salty snack company that Frank works for announced they were switching to sunflower oil. As part of this announcement they gave all the employees packets of sunflower seeds—the kind you plant, not the kind you eat. Or is that the same thing?

Anyway, we decided to stick them in the ground and 120 days later, voila!

The bad news is we had about nine of them and only two grew.

The good news is two grew!

We even bought this cute watering can to go with them.

We love our sunflowers! We’re thinking of planting a whole sunflower garden! (Here's hoping Frank's company doesn't switch to poison ivy oil or something.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Picture Day Disaster

All this talk about fashion reminded me of another “clothes call.”

Back in my era of unfortunate ugliness I dreaded picture day. But freshman year of high school I was stoked about it. Why? Because I had this bright purple, off-the-shoulder shirt that I was going to wear. Plus, by this time I had contacts (green ones, to be exact) and my hair had finally recovered from years of poor perms. I still had my braces (yikes, that reminds me; I gotta put in my post-breakfast rubber bands) so my plan was just to smile without showing my teeth. That look, coupled with my shoulder-less shirt was gonna be hot.

My friend Kathy also had her eye on my purple shirt. She asked if she could borrow it one day and that thrilled me because that meant my clothes were borrow-worthy. I told her she was welcome to borrow it…after picture day.

She agreed but then the day before my close-up she proposed an idea: “What if I wear the shirt for picture day too? My pictures are third period and yours aren’t until fifth. We could switch shirts in the bathroom at lunchtime.”

“But won’t that look weird in the yearbook, us wearing the same shirt?” I asked.

“No way. My last name starts with a “B” and yours starts with a “W.” They’ll be too far apart to even notice,” she explained.

That logic made sense to me. So on picture day I wore the purple shirt to school and when I saw Kathy in second period dance P.E. class, she was wearing this ugly, floral shirt. “It’s actually a dress,” she confessed. “I just tucked it into my pants.”

As I fake smiled and said, “What a great idea,” I realized that I would have to wear this shirt/dress concoction (sort of like a foreshadowing of the shkirt) until lunchtime when I would finally get my beloved purple shirt back. I reluctantly traded shirts with Kathy in the dance P.E. dressing room and messily stuffed the shirt/dress into my jeans.

Now this next part is fuzzy but for some reason we didn’t trade shirts at lunch; I can't remember why.

This I do remember: Me, pressing my face up against the narrow window on the door of Kathy’s fifth period Biology class, gesturing for her to come out in the hall and give me my shirt back. It was time for my pictures and I still had on the floral shirt/dress! I guess they were taking a test or something because she looked up at me and shrugged her shoulders (which were bare because she was wearing my super cool shirt).

To make a long story short, I’ve got the yearbook right here in front of me and here’s what it looks like:

Freshman pictures, page 156:
Kathy’s photo: Huge grin on her face, a perfect perm and my purple shirt! She didn’t even wear it off the shoulders for the picture. She wore it wrong!

Freshman pictures, page 167:
Elsa’s photo: I’m wearing the floral shirt/dress and not only am I not showing my teeth, I’m glaring at the camera and I look like I might cry…or kill someone.

I eventually got over it. But Kathy, if I ever run into you, don't think for a minute that you can borrow my shkirt.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Trend Alert: The Shkirt

It was about 1985 when my sister’s friend Robin wore a yellow/green fluorescent sweatshirt to the bus stop and I said, “Wow! That is one bright shirt!” Then a couple of weeks later I started seeing everyone wearing fluorescent. I told my sister, “I think Robin started that trend.” My sister disagreed and said something like, “Robin wasn’t the first person to wear fluorescent! It was Sam on Who’s the Boss? Duh.”

Well, I still thought Robin was a really cool trend-setter. And I’ve observed other regular people launching fads, too:

My friend Misty started parachute pants. Well, at least the pink ones.

My friend Amber was the first person I saw wearing Z Cavariccis.

Several of my sorority sisters were responsible for the scarf.

This girl Jenny in college was the first person I saw use a cell phone for non-emergencies.

The intern at my office in Austin wore a man’s tie around the waist.

And I’m pretty sure Liz brought back those cute, A-line skirts.

Until now I had never been a fashion leader, just a follower.

That’s right. I said, “until now.”

I present to you a creation I’m calling, the shkirt.

What is it? It’s a combination shirt and skirt. Sort of like the skort but flattering.

Here’s how I discovered it:

I was shopping at JC Penney (where all the trend-setters go) and I saw this rack of clothes that said “75% off.” And if that weren’t enough the clothes were already marked down to like, fifty-two cents. So 75% off was like, well, a dime and a couple of pennies or something.

So I found this white skirt I liked for like a few quarters. I didn’t try it on because, well, I was at JC Penney. I just wanted to get my nickel-skirt and get out of there. I also picked up a couple of shirts. When I checked out the cashier said, “Wow. You got three shirts for the price of one!” I thought to myself, “Well, one is a skirt but what does she know? She works at a store that sells pants that are cheaper than pant hangers at other stores.” So I ignored it.

When I got home I tried on the skirt. But wait, there was something peculiar about it…it had a shelf bra. Ohmygosh! This skirt doubled as a tube top!

I couldn’t believe my luck. I had bought this skirt with change I found in the JC Penney parking lot and I got myself a shirt, too. Plus, I started a whole new trend!

So I can wear it as a top, like this:

Or, I can wear it as a skirt, like this:

Now that’s not me wearing the skirt. I would wear a top with it. And I’m not that tan. You see, it doesn’t exactly fit me as a skirt but I believe with a few adjustments, it will.

And I also believe that if more people raid their own closets, looking for skirts that can be shirts and vice versa, then my trend will really take off. Or if you find some spare change behind your toaster, you can just go to JC Penney.

What I really need is someone super cool to wear it—like Robin from the bus stop. Good thing she’s probably still wearing fluorescent—she’ll be easy to track down.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hold me Closer Tiny Rubber Bands

Now that my gum surgery is complete I decided it was time to take care of that gap in my bottom front teeth.

My periodontist (who compared me to David Letterman and unfortunately, not because of my sense of humor) recommended that I see an orthodontist.

Hello? Been there, done that…for five years! There was no way I was getting a full set of braces again. I’m not saying things like, “I’m sore because I got my braces tightened today” or “I can’t eat those Cracker Jacks, you know, on account of my braces,” or “I got red, white and blue bands for the Fourth of July!”

I was willing, however, to get a couple of brackets, maybe clear ones or behind-the-teeth ones and I would wear them for a maximum of 90 days.

The waiting room was seriously crawling with teenagers, their siblings and their parents. I sat amongst them for an hour, waiting for my turn and watching The Incredibles. I saw a girl, Bianca, emerge from the doctor’s office without her braces. Her mom squealed, “Girl, you look good!” and I was so jealous of Bianca. It brought me back to February 3, 1994, the day I got my braces off. I wanted to tell Bianca’s mom to make sure her daughter wore her retainer so she wouldn’t end up like me, a 29-year-old, gap-toothed lady, sitting in a restaurant week orthodontist’s office with a bunch of kids.

Instead I chatted with Bianca’s four-year-old brother about Elmo. He tried to steal my watch.

When I heard Bianca’s mom say that her daughter had her braces for three years, I started to reconsider my appointment. Then when I heard another mom screaming at the front office about her bill (“It was $71.58, not $171.58!! I’ve been making these payments for six years, I know!”), I actually got up to leave.

But then they called me back.

And the doctor gave me some good news: I would not have to wear braces!

Instead, he said, I would wear these little rubber bands around my bottom teeth (the kind that go around your braces). I asked, “So I’ll wear these all the time or just when I sleep?” He said, “All the time. Well, you’ll take them out to eat.”

Uh-oh. I eat all the time! I wouldn’t be able to keep this up very long. “How long?” I asked.

He paused and said, “Um…I’d say about three…

(please don’t say years, please don’t say years)


“Three weeks? That’s all?” I asked, shocked.

“Yep. And then you’ll come back here and we’ll fit you for a retainer,” the doc said.

I was so excited about this remedy that I practically hugged the doctor. On my way out I danced around the waiting room and high-fived all the teenagers plus Bianca’s Elmo-loving, kleptomaniac brother. Then I shot one of my rubber bands at the lady screaming about her bill.

Okay, that didn’t happen but I was pretty giddy. And I can’t wait to show off my new smile in three weeks…although it would have been cool to have some orange and black braces for Halloween.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Writinggal's Tips for Rosie and Katie

I’ve had a lot of jobs which means I’ve had a lot of “first days of work.” Take it from me; I know the do’s and don’ts. I even wrote an article in a women’s magazine about “How to be the Homecoming Queen of your Office” (which was originally a blog right here at Writinggal). Of course, the magazine changed a lot of my story and even called it “How to get in with the office ‘in’ crowd” which I thought was mediocre but still, I’m not bitter.

I’m here to give tips to two other ladies who have big “first days of work” today:

Make Friends with the Mail Room: I don’t know if this is true at TV studios but at advertising agencies the guys (I’m not even going to add “and girls” because there weren’t ever any girls) in the mail room knew everything. They knew every person in the company, they could hook you up with the best supplies like three-hole punches, they could help you clean up your cube area if your three-hole punch exploded without warning, they could even get you a new cube if you wanted. Plus, if other people see you making nice with the MR, they won’t think you’re a snob.

Listen at Lunch: Hopefully your co-workers will take you out for lunch. Don’t complain about where they take you. Don’t gab a lot about yourself, just let them talk about office politics, boring business speak and who left that three-hole-punch disaster on the floor.

Rosie, your show tapes from 11-12 so you will definitely be expected to go to lunch afterwards. Don’t say, “I’ve got to get home to my lover and kids! I haven’t worked this long in years!” Just go.

Katie, you don’t actually have to report to work today until 5:15. No, 5:15 PM! But you’ll be done in time for dinner so just apply the rules to that.

Don’t Wear a Political T-shirt: Luckily, Katie and Ro have people who will dress them but in my past careers, we did not. At one place I worked, this new girl wore a tight-fitting “Rock the Vote” t-shirt on her second day. Yes, it was Election Day but still, she had a meeting to attend! I nicknamed her “the voice of our generation” after that. She didn’t last.

Lose the Office Speak: No matter how they dress you, please don’t say to your other co-workers who may also be wearing black pants, “I guess you got the memo!” And no, you can’t get around it by saying “We’re twinkies!” Oh, and avoid any references to the day of the week. For example, Katie, you don’t need to say, “It’s cool I’m starting on a Tuesday because then I only have a four-day work week! I can’t wait to get back to the Hamptons!” The phrase “hump day” also falls into this category and should be avoided. You’ll lose your crown faster than Rosie can say “cutie-patootie.”

Oh and Rosie, while I’ve got your attention, could you put in a good word for Writinggal to join The View? I know I’m not good about sharing the spotlight and you already have a girl my age whose name starts with “El” but I keep having these dreams that I’m on the show. Nightmares, really. I'm always wearing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, generally not following any of my own advice. But I think I could be a good replacement for Star.

Now don’t bring this up today since it’s your first and all but maybe tomorrow would be alright. Don’t bother telling your producer or director or Babs. Just tell the mail room guys. Trust me; they’ll get it done.

Happy First Days, Girls!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Carts: Caught on Camera

“Writinggal, are you whining about those damn carts again?”

Yes. Yes, I am. And I have good reasons. They are three-fold:

1. Since the introduction of my campaign “Do your part. Take back your cart,” shopping cart abandonment at my Kroger has gone down 20%*.

2. Shopping cart discarding in my neighborhood has gone down 50%

3. Today, Cul de Sac Carrie took this picture of me on our walk and I had to work it into a blog:

So we were on our walk and CC said, “Look!” and pointed to this cart just hanging out on the sidewalk. Mind you, we were not in OUR neighborhood. We were in the one across the street which I call the “swamp” neighborhood. Residents here think they’re so cool because they have this lake and they even go fishing in it. But really, it’s not a lake. It’s a swamp. But it’s the closest thing we have to a lake so we like to walk around it.

Anyway, we’re heading towards the swamp and we see this dang cart and I say, “I wish we had a camera” and CC says she has one on her phone and voila! We have the evidence now. The only problem is this was an unidentified cart so we’re not even sure where it came from. And how did it get so deep into the swamp neighborhood? We may never know.

But this we do know: I won’t give up my cart crusade. And CC is doing her part, glaring at people in the Target parking lot until they are shamed into returning carts. I heard Tips from Thea has been doing some good glaring as well. Me, I prefer to verbally chastise them but you do whatever works for you.

And if you were thinking of behaving like a restaurant weeker and abandoning your grocery cart this holiday weekend, think again. My team and I will be out in full force, snapping pictures of all the perpetrators. You never know where I’ll pop up: behind your car, next to the hot dog vendor man, perched atop the cart corral. Who knows?

I may even be swimming in your own swamp.

*All data are approximate and quite unscientific.