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Friday, December 22, 2006

100% Pure Blog

I got a mass email from my gym manager the other day that said something like, “If you’re not giving 200% in your classes then you’re doing your members a disservice.”

So now it’s 200%? That’s DOUBLE my full effort. Isn't that a bit much?

I mean, I got it when people used to say 110%. That’s like every thing you’ve got plus a little extra. I can do that.

Then I started hearing 150%. Like, “If you want to do this job, you’ve got to give 150% every day.” Okay, so that’s like everything I got plus half of everything I’ve got.

Sometimes it’s an ambiguous percent, like 180%. What does that mean?

And you know when that manager was typing that memo, she was like, “If you’re not giving 100%...wait, no. I have to make this really powerful…If you’re not giving 120%...come on, this is a gym! It’s got to be really intense! 175? No, 200! 200%!! Yes! That’s the magic percent!”

I mean, why stop there? Why not 250%? Why not 300? I know, infinity percent!!

I could go on and on about this but I don’t think a lot of people are at work today, reading my blog. So that’s all you get—100% of Writinggal. And really, you can't handle any more than that anyway.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

One Hootie Summer

In the summer of ’96 a lot of people asked me, “So you must be a big Hootie and the Blowfish fan, huh?”

“No,” I would reply but I couldn’t blame them for asking.

All summer while working as the secretary at Friendswood Driving School I played 104 KRBE. Every time they had a contest like “Be the 104th caller…” I would call and call until I won.

Yep, it was a really demanding job.

Here’s a hint: if the prize is lame, like a Hootie and the Blowfish CD (or any CD for that matter), don’t bother. You still have to drive down to the station to pick it up.

When I won the Hootie CD for the third time (I guess they waived that rule about not being able to win more than once since nobody else was calling in), I was entered into a bigger Hootie contest:

You and four friends fly on a private jet to New Orleans to see Hootie in concert!

By this time Hootie’s popularity was feigning (think Nick Lachey right now) so I would tell people, “I don’t care about seeing the Hootie concert. I just want to go on the private jet with my friends.”

And if they challenged me with something like, “Whatever. You’re totally hot for Hootie. You’re like a Hootie-natic,” I would say, “Fine. You don’t get to go on the private jet with me.”

I imagined me and three of my closest friends, living it up on the 104 jet and when we arrived in New Orleans, I would say, “Screw Hootie. Let’s just go to Bourbon Street!”

Two problems: 1. I was only 19 and 2. I didn’t win.

Yes, that summer I entered a lot of radio contests, talked on the phone and day-dreamed. Like I said, it was a really demanding job.

At least I got a lot of memories out of it; and a nice collection of Hootie CDs. Hey, they’re vintage now. Anybody want to make me an offer before I go to eBay?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm Bringing Sexy Blog

Frank and I discussed it and we think the idea of “bringing sexy back” is lame. Sexy never went away. Let’s bring something back that we really miss. What should it be? Natch, there’s a list:

Definition: Just kidding; I fooled you; not really
“I bought you Saved by the Bell, the College Years on DVD…Sike!”
Who’s Bringing it Back? Alicia (She never stopped saying it.)

Definition: If you have to ask...
Who’s Bringing it Back? My old boss, Alan. He had a velcro wallet and he’d always say, “I’m bringing velcro back.” Somebody contact Weird Al; I think we’ve got a parody.

Retarded Hand Gesture with the “Argh Argh” noise
Definition: This one’s hard to describe but you know what I mean, right? You take your hand across your chest, up told your shoulder, hit your shoulder two times and say “argh argh.” You use it when a colleague says something stupid (i.e. “retarded.”) It’s not exactly PC.
Who’s Bringing it Back? Me. I’ll take this one but I'm gonna need everybody's cooperation.

Banana Clips

Definition: Hair fastener circa 1985
Why? You know how I feel about these. I think they’re flattering, easy-to-use and just plain cool. Plus, I missed them the first time around.
Who’s Bringing it Back? I will if I can find one.

Waaaz Up?
Definition: Catch phrase from beer commercial in early 21st century
Variation(s): Waz uppy?
Who’s Bringing it Back and Why? It’s easy to bring something back that’s really old (i.e. the banana clip); the real challenge is bringing something back that’s only semi-old. People won’t know if you’re bringing it back or still saying it. I challenge someone to take on this one.

Andrew Shue

Definition: Cutie of Melrose Place fame; brother to more successful Shue, Elisabeth.

Who’s Bringing it Back: Marc Cherry, creator of Desperate Housewives. He loves those MP alums.

Now, Andrew Shue. There's a guy who could bring sexy back. If only he had a banana clip and a velcro wallet. Sike!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Move Over Bo Derek...

There’s a new perfect 10 in town.

It’s my Double Chocolate Fudge Mint M&M Cookies.

Yes, I baked! And they got a 10 from the man who rarely gives out ratings above 7.5 (although always over 6).

I baked them for Frank’s co-workers (who last year were innocent victims of the Rolo Cookie Catastrophe of 2005). When I told Frank I wanted to make cookies for them again he said, “Um, you don’t have to.” I told him that I really wanted to and he said, “No, really. You don’t have to.”

Someone didn’t trust Bakinggal, did he?

I made him a deal: “I’m going to make these Double Chocolate Fudge Mint M&M Cookies and you have to say right now if you think they’re going to turn out good.” If he went with good, he had to eat them and he had to give them to his co-workers no matter how they turned out. If he guessed that they would be bad, he couldn’t have any and he couldn’t give them to his co-workers (which sounds means but if they turned out like the first batch of Rolo cookies, it would be really nice).

He went with good.

Good choice.

Because they’re not just good; they get my highest rating which doesn’t come in numbers but rather in words: freakin’ awesome.

And because you’re such a loyal blog reader, I will give you my secret recipe:

Buy a pouch of Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Fudge Cookies
Follow the directions (this involves an egg and vegetable oil)
Right before you’re about to drop the cookies onto the baking sheet, throw some mint M&Ms in there. How many? However many you want; the more the better.

Yields: about 30 cookies. They say three dozen but I only got about 30 out of it.

Now if yours don’t turn out as good as mine, it’s because I invented the recipe (except I sort of stole it from the newspaper cookie contest) and I have that magic baking touch (except I don’t and I usually suck at baking). But keep trying. You’ll find your baking specialty.

I am so gonna rule the cookie exchange next year. Bring it on!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Musings

How excited were we to receive our big blue recycle bin? For years the City of Dallas has been saying, “People just don’t recycle here. In other cities like Houston and Austin people recycle. We can’t figure out why they won’t do it here.”

I’m sure it took 37 task forces, 423 hours of meetings and a baker’s dozen focus groups to come to this conclusion:

Unlike Houston and Austin, the people of Dallas have nothing to put their recyclables in!

And thus the big blue bin was born.

Woah, I just got all political there for a second.

We drove down our alley Saturday night and saw that some of the neighbors had them. I immediately got defensive: “Why didn’t we get one? We recycle more than they do! And those guys? They drive a gas guzzler! They don’t deserve the big blue bin. I mean, we even wrap our presents with newspaper, that’s how green we are.” But when we opened our front door we found it; sitting out there like a big early Christmas present from the sanitation department. “We got one! We got one!” I screamed.

And the gift-giving didn’t end there. Frank and I also exchanged presents. If you know us well, you know that we're very sentimental and sometimes a little bit extravagant with our gifts. For instance:

Me: “Oh, look It’s a broom.”
Frank: "It's not just any broom. It's the Dirt Devil Broom Vac."

Me: “Oh, that is so romantic. You really went too far but thanks so much!”

(And that is how Frank conned me into doing housework on Saturday night.)

While I broom-vacked, he lounged around in his new, equally expensive “Frank the Tank” t-shirt.

Speaking of lounging, the Little Miss Sunshine DVD comes out tomorrow and I can’t wait to lounge around and watch it. It was the best movie I saw this year but Frank hasn’t seen it yet.

And I just found out that he also hasn’t seen Miracle on 34th Street (the good version; i.e. with Natalie Wood) so we’re going to watch that on Christmas Eve because it’s playing over and over again on AMC.

Hopefully, I can get him to watch both of these movies; I have a feeling all he’ll want to do is dance around with my new Christmas present.

I’m just glad it's the broom-vac and not the recycle bin.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Who moved my snowflake?" and Other Christmas Traditions

This year Frank and I are continuing a Christmas tradition that he did as a young boy with his family: moving the snowflake on the calendar to count down until Christmas.

Apparently, it’s not just a cutsey custom; it’s a competitive sport. I’ll go to move the snowflake in the morning and Frank will say, “You moved it yesterday!” And then when it is officially my turn, the accusations start: “I know what you’re doing,” he’ll say. “You’re counting ahead to see who’s gonna get to move the snowflake on Christmas!”

Yes, you caught me.

Then there’s the nativity scene tradition. I don’t even want to get involved in that one because Frank and his siblings have strong opinions on it. Well, just one strong opinion: “The baby Jesus can’t go in the manger until Christmas. He wasn’t born yet,” they’ll argue. So all December we’d have to have a Jesus-less nativity scene. Hey, whatever happened to him being the “reason for the season?”

At my house we have two very important traditions:

1. My grandma sends a big package via UPS a couple of weeks before Christmas. It always includes the same things: Russian tea cakes, sugar cookies, a tin of those butter cookies, friendship cake (kinda like fruit cake but better) and gold fish crackers. I’m not sure why she associates gold fish crackers with Christmas or why she sends them since we can just buy them but still, the box would be incomplete without them. Then we all eat way too much friendship cake and don’t feel quite so friendly.

Tradition #2 is Phyllis Diller.

She’s our angel that goes at the top of the tree. With her short, blonde tousled hair she resembles the comedian in her earlier days:

Whenever my mom gets her out of the box she says, “Oh, Phyllis is in bad shape,” but we still put her up. Some years we tried putting a star up there instead but we missed Phyllis.

Oh, I just thought of a third one: On the weekend before Christmas Santa would ride around on the neighborhood fire department truck with the sirens on. When we heard those sirens we would run outside and Santa would throw us candy. It was just those little peppermints but it was very exciting. I’d yell at Santa, “I want a Cabbage Patch Kid!!”

Then the neighbors (“the kids”) would convince me to pick up the peppermints that had landed in dog poo.

Maybe fighting over who moves the snowflake isn’t so weird.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Words of Wisdom from My Dad

"Elsa, scoot over."
(on road trips when we would pass a particularly nasty-looking hitchhiker)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just my Type

Coordination is not my forte. I’m not good at dancing, step aerobics or juggling. But there is one thing I’m really good at it and it does require coordination: typing. I freakin’ rock at typing.

I’m working on this little project for my spin classes which requires me to type a lot of information into a lot of spreadsheets. I was typing it this morning and I was like, “Look at me go! I type so fast!” And I’m not just tooting my own horn here (although I am); other people have witnessed my phenomenal typing skills and praised them.

How did I get to be so good? My typing teacher in 7th grade. We were all required to take one semester of typing and one semester of computer literacy. (And back then that meant that I created some “program” that made the computer draw a hot air balloon. I can’t believe I didn’t end up becoming the next Bill Gates.)

In typing class we typed on old-school typewriters—you know, the kind that make the ding noises and you have to push them back to the beginning of the line? Okay, I don’t think I had to physically push it back; I think by then they went back on their own. I’m not that old. But still, they were quite archaic. Like you couldn’t make mistakes. If you did; you had to use White Out. Ha, remember White Out? I digress.

Anyway, we were evaluated by our GWAM—Gross Words a Minute. I don’t really know what that means but mine was high. I got to be in this club called “speed busters” and I was the first one to make it into the SB club in my class. I was a typing force to be reckoned with.

That semester I got totally into typing. Like I would be having a conversation with someone and they would say, “What are you doing with your hands?” and I was like, “I’m typing out everything you’re saying.” I would do it when teachers would talk, in movies…I think I might still do it.

Then in college word got out about my mad typing skills. Rich girls paid me to type their papers for them. Yes, they would actually hand-write their papers and I would type them. Okay, it was just one rich girl but she gave me $20 per assignment. Hey, where is that girl? I would gladly still do that.

So I always want to thank my typing teacher. I mean, I might not even have this incredibly successful and lucrative blog if it weren’t for her. I’ve never made a major attempt to find her but the other day while I was teaching a spin class I saw her daughter out in the gym! I thought that if I ran into her afterwards I would tell her to tell her mom that I use the skills from her class in my career.

She’d probably think I was a court reporter which I always thought would be cool. I could combine my love of typing with my love of knowing other people’s business.

Just as long as I didn’t have to juggle.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Beginning to SMELL a lot like Christmas

I figured out why it’s so hard for me to de-sugar. My whole house smells of it. No, not because I spilled multiple packets of Splenda on my kitchen floor or because I have a tray of cookies left over from the cookie exchange or because Frank keeps bringing home little packets of Grandma’s cookies (the brand, not actually made by our grandmothers) although these are all true. It’s because of another reason unrelated to food.

I keep buying or receiving candles, potpourri and bath products that smell like dessert! I used to avoid these types of aromas (like the fresh-baked cookie spray real estate agents use when showing houses). But then Cul de Sac Carrie gave me a banana cream pie candle and it was like a sugar sanctuary. I couldn’t get enough of that candle. Then there was the sweet nectar candle from Shannon. Oh, and this other honey-smelling one from Amber. I was hooked. I’m an edicandle addict. (That’s the cutsey name I’ve given them; it’s like edible and candle. Clever, huh?)

So last week I was in Canton—the edicandle capital of the world—and I decided I needed more of ‘em. I sniffed and sniffed and kept passing up regular scented candles like “lavender” and “spring morning” and “ocean breeze” in favor of more appetizing aromas like “sugar cookie” and “chocolate fudge pie” and “rolo cookies the way Mandy makes them.” (A girl can dream, can’t she?)

I settled on banana nut bread although baked apple pie was a close second. I love my BNB candles! I burn them all the time. But as you can imagine, it makes it difficult to de-sugar.

And it doesn’t help that this weekend I received a big bottle of egg nog at a party. No, it’s not to drink. It’s to wash my hair AND body! I freakin’ love egg nog and now I’m craving it in the shower. In fact, I crave it all day long since my hair and skin smell of it. One whiff of me and you’ll be a little bit dundies.

So no more de-sugaring for me until January but that will be tough with my birthday coming up. Hey, if you don’t know what to get me, I’ve got three words for you: cookie cake edicandle.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Musings

I think the holiday tunes on the light music station must be getting to Frank because he has not been himself lately:

He agreed to go to the mall with me yesterday.

After I expressed buyer’s remorse he said, “So what? It’s Christmas!”

He opened my car door for me.

He bought a trendy shirt:

Just in case he was an imposter, I tested him: “Hey, I need to catch up on my Gilmore Girls. Wanna watch it with me?”

“No way!” he said.

Schwoo. He’s back.


I’m de-sugaring today after a weekend of cookies, cake, more cake and more cookies. And I’m not even going to mention the wine, beer and Mambo Taxis. I guess I just did. I better de-sugar for two days. On de-sugar days I can’t have any dessert which for me is a big deal. Like I should get one of those “days of sobriety pins” like Lindsay Lohan wears. Do they make those in half-day increments?


After our shopping spree yesterday, we are done with our Christmas shopping. We wrapped the rest of the presents in newspaper and put them under the tree. Frank said, “I don’t remember having presents under the tree last year.” I said, “That’s because I didn’t wrap them until right before we left for Houston. I was really off the ball last year.” Then I thought, “Why don’t we ever say ‘off the ball?’ We only say ‘on the ball.’”

What other sayings don’t have an opposite?

“I was totally calm like a chicken with his head still adhered to his body.”


“I just closed that can of worms.”


“You can eat your cake and you can have it and you can eat two more pieces.” I’m not sure that’s the opposite but I like it!

Darn the de-sugar day! I’m getting the shakes already.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Abbreviated Blog

I’m jetting off to Paris today so I only have time for a short blog. Okay, only part of that is true. I AM going to Paris but I’m driving…to Paris, TX. Thus is the glamorous life of a freelance writer.

But before I go, I give you this itty bitty blog:

The other day Frank found a parking pass from the Renaissance hotel on our kitchen table. I had just taken it out of my purse and left it there. He held it up, shook it and accusingly asked, “WHAT IS THIS?!”

Just as I got all prepared to defend myself and remind him that my mother had stayed there a few weeks ago and I went to pick her up and I had to park in the parking garage and no, I did not have some torrid affair and if I did I wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave evidence right there on the kitchen table, he said:

“You PAID for parking?!”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A-head of my Time

I’m just full of the puns this week. Betcha can’t wait to see where this one goes:

Since my pimples (yes, it’s still there and yes, I said “pimples” plural) and my retainer have come into my life, I’ve been thinking a lot about junior high. “Yes, Elsa, we know that guy said you were the ugliest girl he’d ever seen. We know you had glasses. We’ve heard all about your braces. We believe you that your hair was a disaster.”

But wait…there’s more.

In addition to the aforementioned handicaps, I also made one of the worst fashion choices any child in the history of seventh grade has ever made. I’m not talking about NKOTB paraphernalia; I’m not referring to Skidz. Mine was an accessory and it wasn’t even cool at the time.

I wore a watch barrette.

What is a watch barrette? It’s just what it sounds like. It’s a hair clip that looks like a wrist watch except it doesn’t actually tell time. I bought one for my friend as a birthday present and then begged my mom to let me get one for myself. I thought my friend and I could wear matching ones. This plan would have worked except she realized the horror that was the watch barrette and never wore it.

I did the opposite.

I wore the watch barrette not occasionally, not every Tuesday but every single day for my entire seventh grade year.

I was "that girl with the watch barrette."

This really cute guy on the school bus sat behind me and one day I felt him touching my head. Had he finally seen through my braces, glasses and bad perm and realized that I was a junior high hottie? Was this my “She’s the One” moment? Was he my Freddie Prinze, Jr.?

“I just wanted to see what time it was,” he said and then laughed.

Did that stop me? No, I continued to clip that time-piece into my hair every day. Oh, and did I mention that I wore it on top of my head? And that it was blue?

One time at the bus stop (a lot of drama happened around the school bus) I said to the other kids, “I overslept and I barely had time to get ready.”

This guy goes, “What do you have to do to get ready? All you do is get up and put that watch barrette in your hair.”

And this from a guy whose catch phrase was “Well isn’t that special?” (long after we were all tired of it).

I guess I eventually stopped wearing the watch barrette but not before my school picture. (Yep, it was in there.) And if I ever run into that guy on the bus who mocked my hair accessory, well, I won’t even give him the time of day—even if it’s right there on my head.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

GORE-geous Wrapping

Al would be proud. Leo would pat me on the back. And Ed Begley, Jr….well, he’d probably start to sob with joy.

We’ve gone environmental for Christmas. Check it out:

The beauty of the whole thing is that the benefits of my wrapping paper plan are five-fold:

1-Fold: I write for the newspaper so it’s like personalizing the presents. (Well, personal to me, the giver—not really to the receiver. We thought about also wrapping presents in chip bags but the only bag we currently have is Tostitos and it’s see-through plus all the crumbs…attracts Christmas critters.)

2-Fold: I can’t wrap so this gives me an excuse for the packages to be ugly in a “Oh, look, a five-year-old wrapped them” sort of way.

3-Fold: You know we Simciks aren’t big spenders.

4-Fold: That whole environmental thing

5-Fold: I forgot…maybe it will come to me.

We had a handful of presents to wrap last night so we began our assembly line. Frank did the actual wrapping and I did the bow-tying and decorating (finally found a use for those glitter pens). And even though Frank did an excellent job folding, cutting and taping, he sometimes got distracted and started reading our eco-wrapping paper. I guess that's one of the drawbacks.

Here’s how they look under our tree:

I love it! I’m going to keep staring at them until that fifth fold comes to me. Maybe by Christmas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big Pimpin’

In junior high I had a laundry list of all the classic sufferings: glasses, braces, bad perm…but one problem always eluded me: pimples. I didn’t get them. And if I hadn’t been so busy begging for contacts, not smiling to hide my metal and trying to find ways to cover up the Ogilvy home perm smell, well, I might have been grateful for that.

But I didn’t ever say thanks to the big man and look what he’s stuck me with now:

Look at it! It rivals the size of my fingernail and my big ball earring! Somebody get me the number to Guinness cause they’re gonna wanna send someone out here.

This thing is even too big to cover up with make-up. I know; I’ve tried. I would go broke if I had to use up that many bottles of cover up. I could try to camo-mole it but I think it would look more "sin-filled-witch" than Cindy Crawford. (Okay, that was a stretch with the matching "sin" sounds.)
Frank says during my spin classes I should do my famous cackle (which I developed while playing the witch in my sorority’s rendition of the Wizard of Oz).
Since I take really good care of my skin I’m pretty sure I know how this happened: cookies. That damn cookie exchange! I made three batches myself and sampled at least two dozen. Then at the cookie exchange I ate two of each kind so that’s like another dozen. And every night since then I’ve gotten into the cookies. I put the tray on top of the fridge and Frank said, “But now I can’t even see them! We’re going to forget about them!”


And while we’re at it, can we forget that I look like a 13-year-old on the night of the big Sadie Hawkins dance? I realize that the fact that I’m wearing a retainer doesn’t help matters. But hey, at least I have contacts and decent-smelling hair. Gotta be grateful for the little things (even though something not-so-little is sitting on my face, mocking me).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Freezings

It's official. I can never live in the North. I hate being cold. Poor Frank has to listen to me whine all the time, saying, "I'm frozen!"

This is me for the next three months:

Although I do like everything that goes along with cold weather:

Red Wine
Hot Totties
Cocoa (with a little rum in it).

Okay, maybe I just like to drink. Who cares? It's too cold to figure it out!

Friday, December 01, 2006

And you thought Colorado was Cold

Eat your heart out, Durango friends. We’ve got a “Bitter Blast” That’s what ABC calls it. I believe NBC is calling it the “Arctic Freeze.” Fox isn’t so clever with a humdrum “Hard Freeze.” They’ve all created logos for the event, conjured up lists of do’s and don’ts and made sure to interrupt all our favorite programs (miss you, Oprah!) to tell us all about it.

We’re makin’ snowballs.
We’re playin’ hookey.
We’re coverin’ up the plants.
We’re layerin’. And we’re layerin’ some more.

You northerners may say, “What’s the big deal? We get this stuff every day for eight months and life goes on.”

Well we say, “This may only happen ONE time this year! We have to savor it, make the most if it. Quick! Turn on the fire! We might not have another opportunity where we won’t sweat while it’s on. Get out the hot cocoa. Hurry! Make it all! Yes, of course, add the whip cream! It’s a special occasion!”

So turn up the heat, wrap up in a blanket and cut the tags off your ear's the "Snowy Squall 2006." Yep, I made up that one. I should so be on the naming committee.