Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Training for the 5/3 River Bank Run - WHY!?

I had a wonderful opportunity to write a short essay on why I was planning on running the Fifth Third River Bank Run in May. The prize is a free entry into the race. I hope if this doesn't get me the prize, it at least gives 'em a chuckle:

"I will admit I hate running, especially after my training mile today. I hated running in high school too, those steamy, wretched days when Ms. Hogle's voice would echo through freshman gym, wondering where we "laggers" were hiding, usually behind the bleachers where the air conditioner blew cold and refreshing. But that nagging desire to finish kept most of us going: that miserable, face-pounding, arches-aching, exhausting moment when you passed her and she barked your finish time, a little faster than the last.

As I grew to adulthood, I traded my running shoes for figure skates and I have gotten far more use out of them. I’m proud to say I’ve trained in the sport for over 10 years, have passed numerous tests, and won a medal at the most recent adult national championship.

But I still feel a masochistic urge to run, and the desire to accomplish a "finish" in a road race, do something at the creaky age of 41 that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do at 14. I think Ms. Hogle would shout her approval."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the Midst of Christmastime

Yay for another Christmas! This was made all the more fun by the fact Will was just a little more aware that something special was going on, but not sure what.

Dave was feeling ill (stomach bug? holiday stress?) he and Will went bed early Christmas eve after a fun time with grandma and grandpa Planeta, all his aunts, uncle and cousin. That left me to play Santa.

Since Santa should always have presents ready for play, that meant taking the zip ties off the hockey sticks, unleashing the BBQ grill from its packaging, loading up the batteries, and getting all the Little People in their garage.

Stockings too had to be hung and surprises revealed from their hiding spaces.

Will responded as planned Christmas morning, waking at 7:30 with the biggest grin as if he knew something special was happening. He clapped when he saw the presents, and in wonderment, went from one present to the next to play, taking turns all day long to play with each one.

Regular presents from mom, dad and family in Texas were opened of course, but there was so much excitement, that it didn't take long for him to wear out and grow bored with opening presents. He left 3 under the tree and didn't get to his sock until the next day.

As for us, we glowed with the pleasure in knowing that everyone loved their presents and we in turn loved ours and had all day left to enjoy them. My old roommate Cara came by with her brother and husband for a holiday dinner that included STELLA! and watching the old Ocean's Eleven movie with the rat pack.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Show Afterglow

I performed this weekend as part of the Georgetown Holiday on Ice ensemble. It was amazing, and so much fun to be a part of such a creative group.

There were 20 acts in all, from group numbers to solos, beginners to elite, babies to adults. There was a Grinch and a Nutcracker Prince, and two versions of Silent Night that were somehow completely different. Divas made their presence known, as well as pop princesses and boy bands.

I did indeed perform a comedy number to the New Christy Mintrels version of "We Need a Little Christmas!" The premise behind the program, as described earlier, was to be a Christmas-crazy calendar girl who despairs to turn the pages of her calendar to sucky days like Tax Day or unusual ones like Talk Like a Pirate Day, until I finally find it to be Christmas.

I was told a.) I skated faster than anyone has ever seen me skate; b.) I skated well; c.) the concept was really funny once people put 2 + 2 together; and finally d.) I engaged the audience in my program and they applauded through the whole thing. I don't know, I've seen the pics on facebook and there's quite a few people who were clock-watching, sleeping, or looking at something other than me on the ice.

Who cares about over-analyzing -- it was FUN!

There was a reception afterwards, and we contributed punch to the festivities. It was a huge ego boost to hear all the compliments and to see how the audience enjoyed themselves. The spread was amazing and I caught the baby a couple of times stealing cookies off the tray. He avoided the sushi tray, which just meant more for us.

Already there is talk -- will we do this again? Already there is a resounding YES!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We're staying in for Movie Mayhem

It was something straight out of a Steve Martin family comedy, but not so funny while living it. The boy, well... let's just say he was ill this past week in the most explosive, dramatic way. I held it together until 1am this morning when he vomited ON my face. Having been sick for a couple of days, he was past the bile stage, but that made it no less disgusting.

So with the boy convalescing and the weather downright frightful (but not as bad as StormTeam 8 made it out to be), it was the perfect time to catch up on all those DVR'ed movies in the que. No chance to catch up on housework until today, since the patient preferred to be cuddled.

First movie up is a dark chick flick, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood." It's now in heavy rotation on one of the women's networks, Lifetime/We/Oprah, so when I started watching it one night halfway through, I was able to tape it to watch later in its entirety. Can I say I love Ellen Burnstyn - wasn't she the drill sergent in Private Benjamin? Lots of big names, so much so, that some of the scenes seem painfully short because you want to see more of them. Cherry Jones as the crazy mom! Dame Maggie Professor McGonagal! Crazy Alex from Saved by the Bell, the College Years! And Ashley Judd was perfectly cast as the beautiful but tragic Vivi. I was hoping back in the day when this movie was first released that there would be more movies about the Ya Yas as there are 4 books plump with delicous stories, but alas, there are no more since robots blowing up other robots makes more box office.

What made the movie more endearing is we girls DO have packs of friends that if they aren't our lifelong mates, at least last for a good long time. WMAS girls -- we could be a chick flick! Which leads to the ultimate idle conversation piece, if someone made a movie of your life, who would star as you? Off the top of my head, I'd dip into the Ya Ya well and go with Crazy Alex from SBTB - TCY. For now, based on her curly hair.

Next up was "Amelia," starring Richard Gere and Hillary Swank. Hillary Swank is amazing in almost anything, although I cannot vouch for her turn as the Karate Kid or Steve's girlfriend in 90210. She portrayed Earhart as just a gal who wanted to fly. She was so good and so charismatic that her desire to see women as equals was less harpy feminist and more inclusive friend to all. I found it interesting to see that snake oil salesman such as her publicity hound husband are nothing new, and if anything, were a tad more sleazy with fewer ethical/moral dilemmas to answer to. As a period piece, the costuming was amazing. I have always been fascinated with the '20s and '30s, so to see them in vivid color, just beautiful. And the last half hour of the movie, although I already knew the sad outcome, was no less intense.

Onto "The Lovely Bones," directed by the guy who did all the Hobbit movies. The actress who portrayed Susie Salmon was rendered with such a lovely, luminous light that if you had already read the book, your heart ached to know her fate. I read some online reviews that slammed the director for his fantastical renderings of Heaven, but I found it otherworldly, beautiful, and how the afterlife would look to a 14 year old girl. I also loved Susie's narration, because it was a story about her, and how what happened to her affected her family and classmates. Susan Sarandon's grandma re-established my love for her and Stanley Tucci was so appropriately creepy, he made me sick. Also, shout-out to the actress who portrayed Holly - it's Wei Wei from "Stick It," one of the WMAS so-bad-it's-good chick flicks of choice.

Next up was "Up in the Air," starring George Clooney. Watching it made me uncomfortable as each firing made me relive the souring pit-of-the-stomach experience I had two years ago when I went through the same thing. Clooney is so much like Nicholson in the fact that he has that commanding celebrity/star power, but when he's IN the movie, he IS that character and you forget that he is George Clooney for the time. Sadly strange and detached man, who timidly seeks out relationships while he preaches about "keeping your backpack empty." Guest star power: Jason Bateman, childhood crush from "It's Your Move"; JK Simmons, previously a skinhead on "Oz," as a guy getting laid off; and the actress playing Natalie did an amazing job at forming a complete person who started out cold to reveal mistakes of her own. I looooved when they crashed the tech party, there was some joy in that scene. There was also that ache in wanting these significant relationships for Ryan, his family and his mistress.

Finally, it's not a movie but is was lots of fun in spots: Saturday Night Live featuring Paul Rudd and Paul McCartney. The "Stumblin'" video short was so stupid, it was brilliant. McC's performance of "Jet". The "Meryl Streep on Ice" sketch. TINY HARMONICA SOLO! It was so much fun to see goofy joy protrayed with such enthusiasm.

A total aside, a friend from work has shared a wig catalog with me after one of those conversations-that-went-on-a-tangent. I've decided that if, God forbid, I ever needed a wig, I would go on a new-hair-a-day bender. I'm talking red Veronica Lake for Monday, hot pink pageboy for Tuesday, blonde curly for Wed... you get the idea.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creative Dash to 2011

It's been a week bursting with creative output. First there was a phone call late last week from Kelly at American Seating to see if I could write a brochure. Needing new tires, I quickly said yes but in true advertising fashion, it was needed "yesterday." After a crash course in chairs, I rolled it out and am waiting to hear from her for further edits.

Then there was the catalog job I agreed to in November. After writing a couple of pages for input, I waited to hear if I was on the right track. And waited... I finally got the okay, but since I had a deadline looming, I hit the computer the minute the baby started napping and yesterday completed the 36 pager. Whew!

Then there was the push to finish Christmas shopping. Since packages need to be shipped to family across the country, we needed to be done early. Also, three very important presents had to be handmade. I'm proud of how beautiful everything turned out. I can't reveal too much here, but there was some framing and beadwork involved.

And once all those presents were made or purchased, they needed to be wrapped. I'm sorry to say this was no artistic endeavor, it was pure assembly line. One after another, cut, wrap, tag, next. If I ran out of paper, I started a new roll. If it was an awkward item, I went tissue, gift bag, tag, and toss under the tree. At one point I was desperate for Buddy the Elf cheer, as I needed the kind of energy rush one could get from spaghetti and maple syrup. Blurry-eyed and achy ankles, I whimpered at 9pm on Friday night "this is the last one."

Yes -- under the tree! That went up on Monday, trimmed in toddler friendly oranments. It's Will's tree too, and he needs to enjoy it as much as anyone. So on the lower branches are soft, cuddly ornaments; bright, sparkly plastic snowflakes; santa heads with fluffy beards; bendy toys and wooden pieces. If he wants to play with the ornaments, he can.

I was invited to a cooking making party, which I went to after judging a skating competition. Me -- bake?! After the pumpkin pie debacle of 2001, the cookie pucks of 2003, the cereal "bars" of 2004 and of course the sugar-free cherry pie disaster of 2007, I have passed pastry duties onto Dave. Still, I wanted to contribute some sort of sweet to the production. I brought marshmallows, chocolate, candy canes and recreated one of my favorite treats from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company. It took me longer to shop for the supplies than it did to make them. All I did was line the marshmallows in a baking sheet, drizzle them with chocolate and top them with shards of candy canes while the choclate was still liquid. I've already drawn raves, so I think I will be making another batch and already thinking about how to improve them.

What's in store for the next week? The upcoming Christmas skating show, for which I will be performing "We Need a Little Christmas." A houseguest from Chicago coming in for the show. Housecleaning. Planning a mahnu (I'm watching "Father of the Bride") for Christmas. Getting giftcards for the babysitters. Tough love on the closet for Cara's visit. Continuing to train for skating and my 5K. Sleep, maybe a couple of soothing baths too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Noddin'

Holiday shoppping has not yet been a problem for me; as a matter of fact, I have been shopping with great enthusiasm for trinkets and treats for the babysitters and co-workers.

I have yet, however, to muster the enthusiasm for home decorating, namely putting up the tree and hanging the stockings. My reasons for my joy of the season is the same source of hesitation for putting up a tree: the boy.

Will is an amazingly inquisitive child, which has led to him swinging from the baby gates, attempting to eat batteries and generally finding the most dangerous thing in the house to play with. This curious investigative nature will no doubt extend itself to the eventual destruction of the Christmas tree and pulling down of Christmas stockings.

And then there's the cat, who still has lots of kitten in her. If her eager play with an apricot pit is any indication, she will have waaaaay too much fun wreaking havoc on our tree.

But we cannot celebrate without a tree, it's just not done! Let's cross our fingers for a Christmas miracle.