Thursday, February 24, 2011


I am only a product pusher in the professional arena. Home and the internet are for sleeping and people Dancing Alone to Pony. However, when I grow really attached to a certain object, food, band, breed of cat, brand of band-aid, flavor of toothpaste, texture of throw pillow, etc., all I want to do is recommend the crap out of it. And because I am a fickle consumer, it takes a lot for me to want to share my loyalty with others. So here, categorized by category, are my recommendations for life.

Facial Moisturizer - Eucerin Everyday Protective Face Lotion
If you’re like me, your face turns into a torturous mask of dry, crackly skin within seconds of washing. But you can’t not wash your face because, if you’re like me, you also have the epidermis of a 14-year-old boy, and your stipple drawing of forehead zits is the only thing still getting you carded. When you basically have the worst skin on earth, even worse than animals with poisonous skin, balance is imperative. I accidentally stole this facial moisturizer from my younger brother when packing to return to Omaha after a trip home. I made a halfhearted offer to mail it back, all the while slathering it on my face every morning and night like a goon. A goon with slightly happier skin. Recommend!

Breakfast – Kashi Instant Hot Cereal (Truly Vanilla)

Loyal readers will know that I have, in the past, struggled with breakfast. Growing up, my sister loved oatmeal to the point of sitting on the kitchen floor, eating handfuls of dry Quaker Oats like it was going out of style… and also like it tasted good. I’m more of a milk and cereal person, or a bacon person, or a breakfast burrito person. Any kind of person except an oatmeal person. But in an effort to consume more fiber, I forced myself to give it a second chance. Trial and error and dozens of half-eaten boxes of instant oatmeal led me to Kashi’s Truly Vanilla Hot Cereal. The key is to add half as much water as the box instructs, and also to put things in it. I add frozen blueberries, but you could add M&Ms or red pepper flakes. Just make it your own. Recommend!

Clothing: What H&M is selling right now
We don’t have an H&M in Omaha, which is good because I don’t have to deal with the constant disappointment of strolling by the store window, hoping for something wonderfully cheap and brilliantly wearable, only to find a bunch of bald mannequins wearing crocheted prom dresses and neon yellow Fresh Prince hats. But I recently had the chance to peruse the current merchandise, and now! Right now, their clothes are awesome. Think Madewell meets a normal person’s salary. More navy stripes than a fleet of old timey sailors. Recommend!

Almonds: Blue Diamond Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds
These things have enough sodium to dehydrate a dinosaur and kill all the slugs in Nebraska, but they’re delicious. Like a small, crunchy dragon roll. Recommend!

Mascara - Maybelline "Falsies"

I have this one eyelash that I discovered a few days ago. It's about half a lash length longer than its comrades. Normally, if you found an abnormally long hair on your arm, you'd yank it immediately, hoping no one had noticed it, and put it in a ziplock bag in case a museum comes calling or your grandchildren want to see it someday. But an abnormally long eyelash is a whole different ballgame. Brooke Shields uses pharmaceuticals to get longer lashes, so I should probably keep the one that grew naturally. The point of this story is that Maybelline's Falsies mascara helps all of my other lashes catch up to that one really long one. And therefore I am less of a freak. Recommend!

Image-based blogs
I’m a sucker for collages of captivating pictures – shoes, jewelry, close-up shots of sandwiches, etc. These are a few of my current favorites.
Miss Moss
Tomboy Style
Cup of Jo

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Love Songs

Happy Valentine's Day! Whatever you're doing right now -- typing a memo, browning hamburger for a casserole, walking a dog or deep conditioning your hair, stop. Just for a few minutes. And slow dance with somebody.

10. REM - At My Most Beautiful

9. The Promise - Tracy Chapman
Two years ago, when Matt and I were teetering on the edge of getting back together after two years apart, this song popped up on Pandora, and I took it as a sign. I've been using Pandora as a Magic Eight Ball for life ever since, which kind of poses a problem when I'm listening to my Bad Decisions station.

8. Otis Redding - That's How Strong My Love Is

7. Adele - Make You Feel My Love
I thought deeply about which version of this song I like best. Matt loves the Garth Brooks version, and I have a special place in my heart for Billy Joel's take. But for me, Adele is it.

6. Ryan Adams - Come Pick Me Up

5. The Pogues - Fairy Tale of New York

I'm not exactly sure when or how this song became "ours," but it is. I mean, it can be yours too. But there's something about the line "You're an old slut on junk" that really tugs at the heart strings.

4. Damien Rice - The Blower's Daughter

3. The Weepies - Somebody Loved

After careful consideration, we chose this song for the first dance at our wedding. It's pretty, it's short enough to keep people's attention, and the idea of being "old and worn, like two softened shoes" is really appealing to me.

2. Peter Gabriel - The Book of Love
Close second for our first dance song, but it's a little long. We saved it for later in the evening. At that point, people would've danced to the sound of folding tables being stacked in the corner of the room. [Note: I love the Magnetic Fields, but come on, it's Valentine's Day. PG for the win.]

1. The National - Slow Show
This song isn't outwardly romantic, but it's desperate and hopeful and soul-baring, and love is very much the same way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Various incongruous thoughts because I cannot get this two-post-a-week thing down, no matter how hard I try.

Resolutions are made to be halfheartedly adhered to, over and over and over again. That's why P90X is still sitting in the bag we brought it home in. It is dusty, but it is there. Just in case.

The elliptical machines at the 24 Day Spa Basketball Court Fitness Warehouse to which I belong are arranged in such a way that you can watch your favorite episode of “Angel” and a random Zoomba session at the same time. Last Saturday, I was rolling the afternoon away at a leisurely backward 8 while Fox News slowly melted my brain when I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a lone dancer in the otherwise empty classroom. She was prancing around to music provided by a handheld CD player. She was moving in a vaguely familiar manner, all fluttering feet and galloping explosions that spanned the length of the room. She was doing a reel! And suddenly, I was overtaken with a nostalgic curiosity that could only be quelled by an awkward conversation. Why are you Irish dancing in the Zoomba room at 24 Hour Fitness? Do you take classes with other people? Where? Etc.

I climbed down from my machine and saddled toward the door, stopping to fill my water bottle, hoping for a break in her music so I could run in and ask her my questions. Finally, she paused, and I made my entrance, complete with a high-pitched hello, hoping she’d hear me with headphones in her ears. She didn’t. Instead, she started dancing again. And I was standing there, uncomfortably, in the room. Watching. Just me… and her… and everyone outside on their elliptical machines, watching me watch her, feeling sorry for me – trying to fathom how embarrassed I must be. I felt my face getting hot as I debated what to do. I could walk out, just as anxiously as I’d walked in, leaving everyone on the outside to wonder what my motives had been. Or I could stand there until she stopped dancing.

That’s what I did. And when she paused again, I ran up to her, sweating, frantic, desperate to get her attention before the next song started on her CD. “Hi! Iusedtoirishdancebackinstlouisbutnowilivehereanditsbeensolongbutidreallyliketostartagaindoyoutakeclasseswhere?” Gah. I’m cringing right now, in the present tense, just thinking about how horribly awkward I was, and am. But she was nice, and she told me about the classes she takes at a place downtown, twice a week. When we parted ways, she said, “I’ll see you in class!” And I felt triumphant, like that whole ridiculous farce had a purpose and an outcome. I went home and signed up for more information.

And that is all. That’s all I’ve done. I haven’t gone to any classes, and now I’m not sure that I want to. After all, getting up there and dancing in front of people you don’t know? How embarrassing.

But in a related turn of events, I have been complaining, for the past few weeks, about that horrid McDonald’s commercial where the couple does the little hand dance with their lattes, and I guess the trick is that they’re doing all of this crazy stuff while staring straight ahead and occasionally taking a pretend sip. Anyway, I hate it to the point of hiding my eyes when it comes on. Because eye hiding is easier and more immediate than channel changing. But driven by that same insatiable curiosity, I still had to know who that pair of hand dancing latte drinkers was, so I Googled it. And it turns out… hold on to your hats because this is about to come full circle… they’re Irish dancers. Like, hipster Irish dancers who dance to Gnarls Barkley songs and wear neon. Very cool! I’m being 100% sincere right here.

Run from Up & Over It on Vimeo.

And then I gave their hand dancing another chance, and when they’re not holding lattes and schilling fast food, it’s kind of cool too.

Up & Over It YouTube channel

Almost makes me want to go to that class. I’ll show up in an gold lamé unitard and explain that I’m part of the new wave of post-Flatley dancers. It’s worth a try.

In other news, not only am I trying to get back into the dance thing – I’m also trying my hand at producing educational materials. My brother, Joe, who’s Teaching for America in Kansas City, needed a way to get his kids to remember the old Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species biological classification thingy. So, he came up with this, and I drew it… poorly, but with markers and love.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

"I'm not afraid of Sasquatch, I just think we should all be on alert."

Ever since Annie participated in JVC near Gorge, Washington, wherein I learned about Sasquatch (the music festival - I learned about the creature long ago, via Monahan favorite "Harry and the Hendersons"), I've wanted to go. Really badly. And something - airfare, or work - has always kept me from making it happen. The 2011 lineup is amazing. Maybe this is my year? Probably not, but a girl can dream... about a pet bigfoot with bad breath and strong arms, about John Lithgow in flannel, about the adversity that made them a family.

2011 Sasquatch lineup


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