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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh! My

Here’s where I reveal Frank’s deepest, darkest, dirtiest secret: He’s a fan of the Oxygen network. Yes, the one with the “Oh!” in the corner of the screen. I guess it’s not as bad as liking Lifetime since they always add “television for women” after the name (although he does like a good Tori Spelling movie every now and then).

And to make his secret even more shameful, the show he likes to watch is called
Campus Ladies. To be fair, I think he first Ti-fauxed it because he thought it was going to be about young college girls, pillow fighting. Instead, it’s about two women in their 40s who go back to college and live in the freshmen dorms. When he first realized this, he was disappointed. But after one episode, he was hooked. We both were.

Now he says, “Can we watch “the ladies?”

The ladies, Joan and Barri, are hilarious. They do things like pretend to be disabled and join the handicap club, pretend to be Christians to get good food and try to get into a black sorority. Whatever they’re doing, it’s usually the opposite of PC. We love their friends in the dorm, too: They’ve got a roommate, Paige, who’s a “real” college kid and is usually embarrassed by the ladies but is starting to become good friends with them. Then there’s Drew and Abdul—their dorm neighbors. Drew’s this dorky guy who’s hooking up with Paige.

Abdul is probably the best character on the show. He’s even got his own dating service. Abdul’s the one that started calling Joan and Barri “The Ladies” and now everyone calls them that: Paige, Drew, Frank, me—everyone!

And like all shows that are good on their own but not getting high enough ratings, they’ve enlisted the help of guest “stars” like Sean Hayes, Penny Marshall, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Alexander and Megan Mullally.

If you’ve got cable (which I believe is everyone we know except the Loyd’s, who are still holding out), you’ve got to watch it! It’s on Tuesdays at 11/10pm. And men, don’t feel bad about watching a show on Oxygen. Just think of Frank; he watches it and he’s very manly (except when he asks if we can watch Golden Girls reruns on Lifetime).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nickel and Diming with Julia

Like me, Julia Roberts is all about the environment. Okay, all I have to show for my efforts is the big blue bin and the fact that I constantly unplug things and sit here in the cold all day. I haven’t even seen An Inconvenient Truth. And I still use regular light bulbs. But still, it’s better than nothing.

So Julia was on Oprah the other day and she said that SHE actually takes back her grocery bags and gets five cents for them. Now, Jules, I can see taking back the bags but do you really have to collect the five cents? I know that play flopped and your husband is just a camera man and you do have those twins but still…

Now I'M a freelance writer; I really need that five cents! I wasn’t sure how to go about it though. I mean, is it like taking back cans? Is it something only homeless people (and movie stars) do?

So, as I do with most matters of the environment, I forgot about it.

Then I was at Kroger one day, both to return something and to buy things. When I went through the checkout line I still had my plastic bag from my return. I handed it to the bagger and just said, “Here, I’ll recycle.”

When the checker rang me up she said, “You saved blah blah blah with your Kroger card and five cents with your bag.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “You mean just because I handed him that bag I get five cents off my groceries?”

“That’s right,” she said.

This was so exciting! I didn’t even know she saw me do it. And I thought I’d just collect the cash but getting a discount on my groceries is so much more exciting! Total dime zone. Or nickel zone.

“I saw this on Oprah!” I squealed. “Julia Roberts said she recycles bags…so you’re saying I could bring back tons of bags and I would get five cents for each?”

“That’s right,” she answered, ready for me to take my five cents and go.

I’ve been saving up my bags and I’ve got piles of them in my kitchen. I’m so ready to recycle! Just think of all the money I could save. I mean, if I bring back twenty bags, that’s like…hold on, gotta get the calculator. Hey, I’m a writer not a mathematician: That’s $100!! Wait. I think I put the decimal in the wrong place. That’s $1. Wow. That’s not much. But at least I’ll be helping the environment.

Of course every time I’ve gone since then I’ve forgot my bags. They just keep piling up in my cabinets. Maybe I should just give them to Julia. After all, she is preggers again. Three kids and a camera man for a husband? Poor girl's gonna need that $1 more than me.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lessons from Las Vegas

You know what they say, what happens in Vegas always ends up on someone’s blog.

As it turns out, starting my thirties in Sin City was the smartest thing I could do. I learned all sorts of things:

-When you wear something such as a “Miss Birthday Girl” sash around your head, you’ll get a lot of attention (albeit from really creepy guys).

-People from Wisconsin are “from the 80’s” as Frank says.

-While the people around you at the Blackjack table may seem cool as they drop 100’s and talk about coming to Vegas once or twice a month and are on a first-name basis with the pit boss, they are not. They are dirty and smelly and a little bit sad.

-I don't look like Mischa Barton, even if we do have the same birthday.

-If the dealer has six or lower you should hit and if he has seven or higher you should stay. Or was it the opposite? Damn those free drinks!

-No matter how much you try to control yourself at a buffet, you will need stretchy pants afterwards.

-Even 30-year-olds fall asleep during comedy shows.

-I will never understand craps, no matter how wise I get.

-Always try to schedule your trip around a cool convention, like porn or technology, not concrete. Although it does open it up for some high-five worthy puns from those of us in our thirties: “I bet that’s a HARD job” –John Loyd; “You must really POUR yourself into your work”-Writinggal

So my birthday is officially over and all I’ve got to show for it are some new wrinkles dark under-eye circles and a fading 30. Maybe I’ll keep wearing that sash around my head. Nothing like a little attention from creepy guys to make you feel younger.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Birthday Lines from Grandma

My grandma sends me cards for every occasion and I really look forward to them. Not because it’s full of cash (although it usually does have “a piece of money” as she calls it) but because she really takes the time to pick out the perfect card. And the best part? She goes through the card and underlines certain words or phrases—sometimes ones that seem completely random. Or sometimes she underlines almost the whole thing. I can just imagine her sitting at her kitchen counter, strategically underlining words.

When I read the cards out loud to Frank I emphasize the underlined words. Here’s her card for my 30th birthday and remember to raise your voice a little on the underlined parts:

Thinking about you, Grandaughter,
About your smile and laughter, too,
All the terrific things which are
a special part of you…
And hoping today will be the kind
you’re so deserving of
A day that’s filled with
With good times and
with love!

My piece of money was $30 (in the form of a $10 and a $20). So as a bonus, my rhyming grandma also included a little poem:

When two bills equal your birthday age
You’ve hit that special birthday gauge
It’ll not happen again you know
Until you hit the Big 4 0!

Of course, numbers-man Frank had to go and spoil it by saying, “That’s not true. When you’re 21 you could have a twenty dollar bill and a one dollar bill and when you’re 25…”

“But still, she’s right that it won’t happen again until I’m 40, okay?! Geez, give the old lady a break!” I barked.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to give you a hard time,” he said.

"Um, I was referring to my grandma…"

Guys in their twenties have a lot to learn.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Musings

Today I put gas in my car. Why is that important? Because I haven’t done that in over 30 days! No, I didn’t have someone else do it for me (cringing as I think of snotty girl in college who used to try to pay me to put gas in her car because she hated to “smell of gas”). I just didn’t need gas for that long.

I felt so environmental, so green; it must be the influence of the Big Blue Bin.

“I’m so cool!” I shouted as I pumped gas in the windy weather. “I saved gas by not going anywhere for 30 days!”

Or does that just make me boring?

I contemplated this and decided that, no, I couldn’t possibly be boring.

Do boring people dress up like cereal and go out in public?

Do boring people get pedicures with their upcoming age painted on their big toe?

Do boring people have their birthday on the most depressing day of the year? (It’s today, by the way, not Wednesday. Schwoo.)

Do boring people wear undewear over spandex?

Me neither. But who knows what I could do next? I've got a full tank of gas.

Friday, January 19, 2007

My Super Sweet 16

Since I’m about to have my second 16th birthday minus two, I thought I’d plan my own Sweet 16 party based on things I’ve learned from MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16.” Here is the schedule of events:

Three weeks before the party: Invitations go out! My friends and I will personally hand them out at school so that those who aren’t invited will feel like losers. In fact, I think I’ll pretend to give one to a nerd and then quickly retract it. Mwhahahahaha!

Two weeks before the party: My mom and I will go shopping for a dress. I’ll get pissed at her because I can’t find anything decent in this town and she won’t take me to Paris. I’ll cuss her out in the dressing room and she’ll end up buying me three dresses, each of which cost more than her first car. Speaking of, I wonder what kind of car Daddy’s getting me.

One week before the party: Everyone will be buzzing about my party at school. People will beg me for invitations but I’ll just laugh at them. I’ll finalize plans with mom (calling her vulgar names several times) bug dad about the car situation and start to freak out a little because dad’s not sure he can get Bow Wow to perform.

Day of the Party: Everything will go wrong. My dress won’t fit (mom’s fault for not letting me go to Paris), my party planner will do the decorations all wrong and there will be no sign of Bow Wow or a new car.

Night of the Party: I will enter my 300-person event in a hot air balloon, on a throne carried by several hired men or up from the ground in a wave of smoke and confetti. I haven’t decided yet. The guy I like will get mad at me, I’ll have to kick some nerds out the party and I’ll cry at least three times.

The good news? Bow Wow will show and at the end I’ll act really surprised when a new Mercedes with a bow drives up. I might even thank my dad. (But not mom. I’ll still be pissed at her.)

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tradin' Up

I’m not a snob by any means: I shop at Kohl’s. I refuse to valet park if there are other options and I even fly coach.

But I really am not a fan of garage sales. I don’t like to hold them; I don’t like to attend them. For some reason digging through other people’s junk makes me want to wash my hands OCD-style.

However, a few weeks ago I attended the mother of all garage sales for the sake of an article. It was Canton’s First Monday Trade Days. Now since I’ve sold the rights to that story to a magazine, I can’t tell you about it here. But what I can tell you about is a flea market I visited on that same trip: the West Tawakoni Trade Days. This is what you won’t read in the May issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine:

My assignment was to spend three days in Northeast Texas visiting Canton, two state parks in the area and Terrell. On Friday neighbors Susan and Cul de Sac Carrie and I did the Canton thing. (For those who don’t know it’s like the biggest flea market in the country.) I’ll just say it was nicer than I imagined. Yes, I washed my hands but not vigorously. Frank joined me that evening for the rest of my journey across Northeast Texas.

So on the third day as we were driving out of West Tawakoni we spotted a sign that said “West Tawakoni Trade Days: every Saturday and Sunday.” It was Sunday so Frank said, “Should we go?” And I said, “Yes! This will be great for my story. I can compare it to the Canton Trade Days.”

Oh, but there was no comparison.

These weren’t so much “Trade Days” as much as they were “Let’s-bring-the-contents-of-our-kitchen-junk-drawer-and-try-to-sell-it Days.” It was depressing. Disgusting. Degrading. Here are some of the treasures you could find at the WT Trade Days. (Did ya catch the double entendre acronym?)

Decorative Toilet paper rolls
Used Christmas ornaments
Jars with felt appliqués
Week-old Bread
Bags of clothes (Seriously. Fill up a plastic bag for $1. You couldn’t pay me a dollar to haul those clothes away.)
Broken furniture

When it comes to garage sales and flea markets, is there no in-between? I couldn’t afford anything at the Canton Trade Days and I couldn’t afford the diseases I was sure to get at the WT Trade Days!

We only spent about 15 minutes there and I begged Frank to let us leave. He wanted to stay. “Fine,” I told him. “I’ll find the valet guy myself!"

"How much for a half-eaten sandwich?"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dream Home Denial

I don’t care if I win HGTV’s Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado this year. It’s in a snowy place where you have to like snowy sports. I bet you even have to get on a ski lift to go anywhere. What a nightmare. And the house isn’t all that great. I mean, it doesn’t even have a project room like last year’s home did. I probably won’t even enter.

Don’t tell HGTV but this is all an act! Did you buy it? I totally want to win this dream home almost as badly as I wanted to win last year’s dream home! Frank asked me, “What if you HAD to learn how to ski to win this home? Would you do it?” (This is similar to when he asks me “What if you had to watch the movie Dune every day?” to which my answer is always, “No way! I don’t care if I’d get millions of dollars. I will not watch Dune!”) But to the question about skiing I exclaimed, “Of course I would ski! I’d ski the blues, blacks, purples, double purples! I don’t care! I want that dream home! And the fact that it doesn’t have a project room? Even better! I hate projects!!”

But my new strategy is to act like I don’t care. And by acting like I don’t care and not entering every single day, I think I have a better chance at winning. The three finalists last year had barely heard of the dream home. They were all, “What? Is this for that contest I entered with the 4H club? Did I win the hog?”

And don’t worry; you are all definitely invited to my winter dream home because I know I’m going to win this year! I can just feel it!

I mean, I don’t care if I win. I probably won’t even enter. I’ll be too busy watching Dune.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Green Chili Willy

It may be cold here in Dallas but I had to go somewhere much colder to find my latest food fetish.

The location? Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The food? Green Chili (which you probably already figured out from the title…so much for the big reveal).

I mean, I sort of knew what green chili was. Sometimes at Tex Mex restaurants they have “green chili enchiladas.” Then there was that Hatch green chili festival that I went to at Blue Mesa last summer. Still, I don’t think I had a clue.

When we arrived in Santa Fe post-Christmas/pre-New Year and inquired about where to eat, the lady at the visitor center said, “Oh, go to the plaza café. They have the best green chili!”

Frank said, “Oh, that sounds good! I’m going to get some green chili!”

And I said, “Frank, I think it’s like a sauce. You don’t get like a big bowl of it and eat it.”

He said, “But you eat red chili in a bowl. Why not green chili?”

This went on for several minutes. I won’t torture you with the transcript.

At the restaurant I got a chicken sandwich with green chili (as a sauce) and Frank got some sort of combination plate that had green chili (as a chili pepper). We’re still talking about this meal. It was freakin’ awesome. A close second was the McDonald’s we stopped at in Cuba, New Mexico where we had green chili burgers.

Now we’re green chili champs. We’ve only been back for about two weeks and we’re already on our second jar of the stuff. I bought the El Pinto kind because it was made in New Mexico. It had to be the real deal. We put it on turkey burgers, omelets, sandwiches, salads. And get this: it’s lower in calories than even salsa!

I’m totally counting down to the Hatch green chili festival this year. But this time, I’m afraid we’re gonna have to head over to Hatch for it. Until then, I’ll be here, chillin’ with my chili.

This is when we were waiting for our table at the Plaza Cafe. We didn't know how much our lives were about to improve!

Friday, January 12, 2007

On the Ball

I’ve become one of those people—one of those people who actually does those weird things that writers suggest in magazines. In fact, I think I’ve even suggested this in a magazine although I hadn’t tried it until now.

Check me out!

Supposedly it’s good for core strength. I’ve been sitting on it for a day and a half and I don’t have a six-pack yet—Although this morning I have noticed some lower back pain. Awesome.

This magazine said to try it for 30 minutes at first and then work your way up to an hour. I’m proud to say I just sat on it and never got up. The first day I kept my chair close by but now it’s off in the corner. Sometimes I rock back on the ball, just like I used to do with my chair.

It’s a shame, because I had this nice, expensive office chair. No, it was actually just a chair from our kitchen table. And it’s broken. So this ball is a real improvement.

When I get sick of sitting on this ball I’m going to scour the magazines for another gimmick. Oh, I think I already found one!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Nigerians giveth and Omaha Steaks taketh away

It’s only 9:20 am (barely enough time to digest my Kashi) and I’ve already had two big deals go down. I’m talking big money deals here.

First, I got an email from a guy named Brait Dalgos.






NOTE THIS: Please acknowledge receipt of this message in acceptance of our mutual business endeavour by furnishing me with the following;

Full name and address
Direct Telephone and fax numbers
Occupation and position
Date of birth
marital status

Obviously this man is a fan of Writinggal’s (although I'm not sure why he didn't know I was a girl). He knows that I am the perfect person to help with this top secret transaction.

Then, wouldn’t you know it? As soon as I hit reply to Brait, giving him all my personal information (including my social security # just in case), Glen from Omaha Steaks calls and tells me about this great deal they’re having. Well, first he told me about the sucky weather in Omaha and then he went on and on about these juicy steaks and how they’re normally $500 but today they’re only $220. I figured I could cover that, what with all the money Brait would be giving me.

So when Glen said, “I’ll just go ahead and send that out to you, K?”

I said, “Go for it, Glen!”

It wasn’t until after I hung up that I did the math on 30% of 12 mil. In Nigerian that’s only about $2.00. So I’m in the hole again. I’ll have to keep writing articles but at least I’ve got some juicy steaks coming my way. And that’s more than old Stella has (may her soul rest in peace).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Things You Could Have Googled

On Sunday I separate the newspaper into “sections for Frank” and “sections for Elsa.” I even divvy up the ads. Here’s how it looks:

Elsa’s pile:
Home Section (that includes Home I, Home II and New Homes)
Sunday Life (gotta read those wedding announcements)
All clothing ads
All furniture ads
Optional: travel

Frank’s pile:
All electronic ads
All home improvement ads (so while I’m shopping for a new home, he’s figuring out how to fix the one we have)
Optional: Front Page

There’s only one section that we both read and that’s PARADE. I’ve loved PARADE since I was little. I love “Ask Marilyn” who uses her phenomenal IQ to answer questions like, “If your cousin’s brother married your uncle’s cousin, who would your niece be married to and where would your sister-in-law live? Remember, your stepfather hates the cold.” I also love “In Step With” which is always an interview with a minor and/or old celebrity. Oh, and those comic strips with the big dog named Howard—I’ve got one on the fridge!

Most of all I love “Personality Parade.” Back in the day, that’s where I would get my celebrity gossip.

But now Frank and I have a new name for that section. We call it “Things you could have Googled.” On Sunday mornings, instead of reading intently to find out the answers to the celeb queries, we laugh at them.

I say, “Listen to this question this guy could have Googled!”

They’ll ask things like, “My wife and I really love the show Grey’s Anatomy. Who is the woman who plays Meredith?”

Really? You wrote that out, mailed it in and then waited weeks and hoped they would print it so you could find out the answer?

Our favorites are the bets. These non-web-users are obviously big gamblers. Here’s one from this past week:

Please settle a bet. I say that Willie Shoemaker is the winningest jockey ever. My husband says it’s Laffit Pincay Jr. Who buys dinner?

These guys were gonna go hungry waiting to find out. I just typed in “Winningest Jockey Ever” into Google and found out that neither of them were right. I’m sure that’s what the Personality Parade guy did too.

Hey, can I get his job? I could so work for PARADE and answer questions for old people. I’ll settle bets too! Just don’t ask me to do “Ask Marilyn’s” job. I don’t have the IQ for that.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Clothes don't make the Cookinggal

I thought that after a year of being Cookinggal that I knew it all. My mom thought so too and I think that’s why she got me this apron for Christmas:

I’ve worn it, like, every day since. When we flew to Colorado Frank had to tell me I couldn’t wear it on the plane. “But I’m Cookinggal and I want the world to know!” I exclaimed. “I bet I know more than Rachael Ray!” Then he reminded me that RR wouldn’t wear an apron on a plane and I thought that was odd because he never even knows who Rachael Ray is even though I explain this to him all the time. He also claims to not know who K.T. Tunstall is and I know we’ve been over this several times: I start to sing, “Suddenly I see, this is what I wanna be," and when he looks at me blankly I say, "Even Avery knows what I’m talking about!”

Okay, I digress. And I made half of that up.

So when we arrived in Colorado David’s girlfriend Laura (mom to Henry) asked me some cooking questions. Now, Laura knows plenty about cooking so I think she was just being nice since I call myself Cookinggal and all. She’d say, “Elsa, how many sweet potatoes do you think we need for tonight?” and “How long do you usually cook your potatoes in the microwave?”

I so badly wanted to swap potato secrets with her but then I realized, I’ve never done anything with potatoes! Even at Thanksgiving I let my mom take over the mashed potatoes. Throughout the weekend she’d try to engage me in cooking convo but the topics never fell into my knowledge-base. One night she said, “Hey, Elsa…” while she was in the kitchen. I thought, whatever she asks, I am going to know the answer…I have to know this one! But whatever she asked wasn’t anything about pasta, chicken or ground turkey so I didn’t know. I had to come clean: “I guess you’re starting to figure out I don’t actually know anything about cooking.”

By the end of the weekend she was teaching me how to properly cut an orange.

So I obviously am not living up to my apron. But I’m getting close. This weekend I made mashed potatoes. Okay, it was the kind where you use cauliflower instead of potatoes. So they were mashed faux-tatoes. But they were good. I bet they were even better than RR's.

Monday, January 08, 2007

You Go, Girl Scouts!

Yesterday there was a knock at the door. I have a theory: nothing good ever comes from answering an unexpected knock. I considered not answering. But then I thought, well, it is January…maybe by some miracle it’s the best reason to answer the door all year. But no, it’s too soon. And last year nobody came. But could it be? I peeked out the window—nobody. But then I looked down—two little girls. There was hope. I partially opened the door and then I saw it. A Brownie vest with badges and everything!

But then, a panic. Do Brownies sell the stuff? Or would she want to sell me wrapping paper or popcorn in a tin or worse, tickets to the scout fair? (That’s what Frank tells me the Boy Scouts sold. You learn how to tie knots or something.) I knew that whatever she was selling; I had no choice but to buy it.

She said, “Hi, I’m Camille and I’m from troop blah blah and I’m trying to raise money for blah blah blah…”

Come on, get to it, little girl. Her dad waited at the sidewalk, holding her scooter. Her little sister stood beside her, peering up at me.

And then she said it, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?”

I was so relieved and excited that I might have overreacted:


As we looked over the list we asked some questions, “Are these new ones?” and “When will they be delivered?” The little girl wasn’t so sure; She really needed a crash course in the Writinggal school of Girl Scout Cookie selling. If you'll recall, I had all the answers:

“Oh, you say you’re on a diet? You don’t need to be on a diet! You look fabulous, Mrs. Miller! But if you want, you can try our low-calorie Trefoils!”

“You think $2 a box is too expensive? You don’t have to pay me now. You pay me when I deliver them in a month!”

“You don’t want to buy too many because you’re afraid they’ll go bad? They make great gifts plus you can freeze them and have them all year!”

Camille wasn’t doing any up-selling. I saw on her sheet that her goal was to sell 1,000 boxes. Well, we put her three boxes closer to that goal. I think I’ll hold out and buy the rest of my stash (about another dozen or so) from someone who’s hungrier, more driven.

And I don’t think that will be Camille’s little sister. As we asked questions she rolled her eyes, let out a big sigh and then went to join her dad on the sidewalk.

After we placed our order (one box of Tagalongs, one box of Thin Mints and some random sugar free brownies—Frank’s idea; he likes to try the new stuff), the dad even had to coax her into a thank-you: “Whaddya say, Camille?”

Pathetic. She’s never gonna get to 1,000 with that pitch.

But if there are any girls with the stuff out there; try me. I’m a very good customer. And don’t send it to work with your parents. Yes, sometimes I’m desperate and I have to buy the stuff that way but I prefer you do it Bill-Porter-style. Sell ‘em old-school, door-to-door. Oh, and you might want to do the Girl Scout secret knock. That way you can be sure I’ll answer.

P.S. To those of you who haven't been blessed with having a dealer knock on your door: you've got something to look forward to. Prices are down from $4 to $3.50 per box. Apparently my letter-writing campaign worked.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Have you met Henry?

As you know, I like dogs on a case by case basis. And in this case, I like Henry. I conducted a pre-interview with him over the holidays and told him I’d be featuring him in my blog. He had a special request though. He said since I’m not an actual “dog-person” could he write the blog? I said, “Henry, you’re not a writer or a person but okay.”

And now I give you “Have you met Henry?” by Henry Alexander Goldman:

Hi, my name’s Henry. I used to live in a warm place but now I live in a cold place. There’s all this white stuff on the ground. I like to pee on it. Which place do I prefer? I don’t care. I like them both.

My mom is Laura. She found me on a farm and cleaned me up. I like her. She feeds me. I like food.

My dad is Safety Dave. Laura met him soon after she found me. I like him too. He feeds me. I like food.

Laura and Safety Dave take me for walks all the time. I like walks. I like to walk in the white stuff. I like to pee on it. Did I say that I already?

I like it when they say “let’s go!” I don’t care where we’re going. I like going anywhere.

Sometimes they put me in a crate. Other dogs ask me if I mind that. I don’t mind. I like it actually.

Speaking of other dogs, there are a lot of big ones in this cold place. That’s okay with me. I’m not scared. I like it.

Since it’s cold here, sometimes Laura and Safety Dave put sweaters on me. They’re not completely comfortable and they’re difficult to get over my head but I don’t care. I like them.

You may have noticed that I’m very hairy. My hair gets in front of my eyes sometimes but that’s okay. I like it. I think I look cool.

Writinggal came to visit us last week. She’s not very good at walking in the white stuff but that’s okay. She walked me and I liked it. Except she wouldn’t pick up my poop which was a little embarrassing. Made me look bad in front of the big dogs.

This other dog Max came to visit too. I liked him even though he kept jumping on me. I tried to tell him I’m not into boy dogs. But actually, I kind of liked it.

Oh, and I like my toy turtle.

Come to think of it, there’s not really anything I don’t like. I’m always happy. You could learn a lot from me.

Back to WG: Who, me?

Henry: Yes, you, Writinggal. I don’t know why you have to be so assertive all the time.

WG: Oh, this is a new thing. I’m not usually so tough.

Henry: Well, go back to being nice. You’ll like it better. And I’ll like you better if you would pick up my poop, please.

WG: Anything else, Henry?

Henry: I like blogging.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Putting the ASS back in Assertive

I’m not into resolutions but this year I got one. I’m going to be more assertive. It’s not so much that it’s a resolution as much as it’s something I’ve resolved to do anyway and it happens to be the beginning of a new year when I started it. Okay, fine. It’s a resolution.

I need to be more assertive in two areas: writing and spinning.

With writing, I’ve gotta get tougher on my sources. You see, when you interview people about something they know a lot about (or think they know a lot about), they tend to ramble. Also, they have agendas. So, let’s say, for instance, I was interviewing a doctor about healthy foods that women should eat to prevent cancer. It might go something like this:

WG: I’m doing a story on healthy foods that women should eat to help to prevent cancer. Is there anything that women just aren’t getting enough of in their diet?
DOC: Well, if you really want to know…it’s love.
WG: Yes, I’m sure we’d all agree that love is important but we’re talking about food here.
DOC: If they really want to stay healthy, they need to get a special shower head that filters their water.
WG: Sounds good. I’ll look into that…maybe for another article…
DOC: You said you wanted to help women stay healthy. If you really want to help them then you need to give them all the facts!!
WG: Hey, I’m not trying to save the world here…
DOC: But you are! You have a responsibility as a writer. Thousands of women will read this and think that all they have to do is eat certain foods and they can be healthy but we have to tell them about skin care products and keeping their eyes healthy and flossing and…(six minutes later) the need for companionship and breathing in safe air and…

Oh, did I mention this actually happened? And maybe it wouldn’t have if I, Writinggal, had been more assertive. I just let these people ramble. Sometimes it’s in person and I can’t even hang up on them. I just smile and nod as they back me into a corner, telling me about Stephen F. Austin’s distant cousin’s family: “Then there was James who was born on July 12th, 1842…and then there was…”

WG (sweetly): That is so fascinating but I only have room for 500 words.
Rambler: In that case, do you want to hear about this family who had seven kids?
WG (over-enthusiastically): SURE!!

When it comes to spinning, I didn’t know I needed to be more assertive until the other night.

I was subbing a class and this lady I sort of know approached me. Instead of saying something like, “Hey, good to see. Hope you had a nice Christmas,” she says, “Is this the kind of music you’re going to play?” (referring to my pre-class music). I said, “Well, this CD is a routine I do but it’s not what I’m playing tonight.” She said, “Okay, good.”

2006 Elsa would have said, “Don’t worry; I have much better music for tonight.”

2007 Elsa glared at her and said sarcastically, “I’m sure that no matter what music I play, you’ll get a good workout…if you work hard enough.”

She could see I was peeved and said, “It’s not an insult. I know every instructor has a different style.”

I said, “Right. It sounded like a compliment. Now get your ass on your bike and start spinning!" Okay, I didn't say the last sentence but the whole class suffered because of her.

I’m warning you, do not mess with 2007 Elsa! I’m ruthless. I’ll cut you off when you ramble; I’ll give you the evil eye if you question my spin routine and don’t even think about taking a cupcake away from me. Even 2006 Elsa didn't stand for that.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas: Gettin’ Dundies With It

As the 25th grew closer I started to panic. Not because I hadn’t shopped yet. Remember? I was totally not off the ball this year. I was done shopping and had all my presents wrapped in newspaper by December 6th. (Aside: Even though I photographed my newspaper-clad gifts I still heard comments like, “Oh, you really wrapped your presents in newspaper? I thought you were joking” from various family members.)

Anyway, the catalyst for my panic was the fact that the holidays would soon be over. I didn’t want them to end. I wanted to keep singing the Christmas tunes on the light station; I wanted to keep eating holiday cookies; I wanted an excuse to drink every night; I wanted to keep receiving Christmas cards; I wanted to gaze at my Griswold-inspired decorations just a little longer.

But when we returned on January 1st and drove down our street I realized that 90% of our neighbors had already taken down their lights. The only houses left with decorations were ours, our neighbors across the street and the guy who puts inflatable figures in his front yard for every occasion. Even his were deflated.

I suddenly HAD to get my decorations down. Stat. And it was quite an undertaking. Apparently my theme this year was, “Covered in Christmas.” That included the half bathroom, the stairs, the kitchen. I’m pretty sure I found some Christmas décor in the laundry room. Was that grass somebody tracked in or mistletoe? I can’t be sure.

I asked Frank to take down the lights outside and he said, “But Tammy and John still have theirs up!” I said, “And don’t you think everybody is making fun of them? Do you want to be mocked like that? Let them be classified with the inflatable man down the street. We’re not going down with them!”

Yep, the spirit really stays with ya all year.

And now, to officially end the season, I give you Writinggal’s fave holiday photos. Please feel free to play music as you scroll through them. Just not a Christmas song. I might puke.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Key Matters

I may be wearing my new workout top that says, “THIS GIRL’S NO DUMBELL” but today I might just be one. A dumbell, that is.

Before we left for the holidays I hid my keys. When I was deciding on a good place to hide them I thought about some people down the street who got robbed while they were sleeping. They accidentally left their garage door open and the door to the house unlocked. (Okay, so maybe they were asking for it.) The burglars somehow found the keys to their car and just drove it right out of the garage (packed with a bunch of their stuff, of course).

I thought, “If robbers break in here they’ll have plenty of time to find my car keys so I better hide them somewhere really good.” So I did. I hid them good.

And this morning as I was trying to leave to teach spin I realized that I hid them really, really good.

Luckily, I had a spare car key or else I would have had to do the unthinkable—ride my bike to spin class! That’s just too much biking. And the whole point of spin class is that we prefer to be inside. And it doesn’t require a helmet. Plus, I would have been late.

Now I’m home and I’ve searched in junk drawers, couch cushions, toilet tanks…no keys. If you were a set of keys, where would you be? Better yet, if you were a burglar, where would you look for keys?

So far, 2007 isn’t the stellar year I thought it would be. Take me back to the good old days of 2006 when this girl was younger, had a bulky set of keys with a can of pepper spray attached…and was definitely no dumbell.