Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Mom: Career Woman

She's too good for Cracker Barrel anyway.

My mom told me during our Sunday chat tonight that last week she wanted to work at the Cracker Barrel gift shop but now she's not sure she wants to work there anymore.

When I asked her what happened she said the manager insulted her by not sitting down during her interview. She seemed kinda crushed by this, because she thought she'd make an excellent greeter/gift shop sales associate.

"I could talk to people while they wait and hand out samples from the little trays they have," she said. "But once he found out I didn't want to work in the restaurant he didn't want anything to do with me, Gina."

That bastard, I thought. Insult my momma.

My mom's been retired for five years but has been looking for something to do lately, and she told me the night before her "interview" she couldn't sleep she was so excited thinking about what days she could work and not have to miss volunteering at the hospital or her water aerobics classes.

But after the manager "walked her off" she decided Cracker Barrel was kind of far for her drive anyway. (It's about seven miles away.)

"So I've pretty much talked myself out of it," she said, adding that the gift shop manager is back this week but she probably won't go talk to her after being insulted by the general manager.

"Awww, I'm sorry he crushed your dreams of working in the Cracker Barrel gift shop," I said.

This struck us funny and we laughed until tears were in our eyes.

And then she goes: "Your dad said, 'You're gonna fool around and end up with a job, Susie. Then what are ya gonna do?' He's right, they'll have to beg me to work there now."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Film of the Year

Last night I went to see the movie Spirit of the Marathon, a documentary that follows six people of varying fitness levels training for the Chicago Marathon.

I'd been anxiously awaiting seeing it since I bought the tickets for the "one-time only" big screen showing weeks ago. Thursday night finally arrived and I was giddy with anticipation.

The movie turned out to be everything I'd hoped it would be, captivating, heartfelt and humorous. I didn't want it to end, and I don't even run marathons.

The six stories were of two first-time marathoners, a Boston hopeful qualifier, a hilarious old man, and two elite athletes - Bronze medalist Deena Kastor (who I absolutely adored by the end), and Kenyan Daniel Njenga. I was sweating every step of their race to win Chicago, damning their competitors and hoping for them a strong finish for a race they ran two-years ago.

If I'd have had pom pons, I totally would have done a cheer in the theater to encourage them.

Interspersed among the runners' stories was the history of the marathon, including shots of Kathrine Switzter's famous challenge of the all-male Boston Marathon in 1967. Seeing the black-and-white photos of the race director attacking her in attempt to tear off her race number was a seminal moment for me as a young girl. I truly was astounded to learn that girls weren't always allowed to run in certain races. (Though the movie hardly mentions this, I'm still astounded that it was 1984 before there was a women's Olympic marathon. 1984.)

Last night, I got see Switzer's Boston marathon breakthrough on the big screen. What's better, I got to watch her big ol' boyfriend jack the race director and send his ass sailing. Man it was awesome.

A writer from the Chicago Tribune called Spirt of the Marathon a "love letter to Chicago," but it's really a love letter to the human body - its athleticism, prowess, adaptability, resolve. And of course, spirit.

Having said all that, I'm no fool. You won't see me running 26.2 miles anytime soon. But I think everyone else should so I can go watch.

And apparently the film's popularity was bigger than anticipated, because there's an encore showing at select theaters February 21. Trust me, you'll like it way better than No Country For Old Men.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BFFs Just Wanna Have Fun

BFFs Alena (left) and Alivia.

In the last year I've found myself in the enviable position of being something of a rock-star in the eyes of a three-year-old. I've never been so important. I'm not quite Taylor Swift status, but still, I got some cachet. And now I totally live for it.

Knowing that a little girl thinks I'm the coolest kid in school is pretty much the best thing ever, so on my day off on Monday I made sure to pay a visit to my good friend Yvette and my BFF Alena, along with her adorable sisters and brother.

It was raucous. There were dance costumes, high-heeled dress-up shoes, horseback riding (of the plastic variety), Playdough flowers and lots of photos taken - mostly by Alena, who is obviously a wunderkind with a Canon.

We had way too much fun. Did I mention there was also singing and dancing? Oh, there was. And at one point there was even some competition over who'd get to sit in my lap next. (Best day ever!)

What's more, I got to see how a mother of four kids under the age 4 tackles her day. The naps, the meals, the play time, the fights, the injuries, the tears, the delightful ways they look up to her and adore her. I wondered how Yvette does it all day, every day. It must exhausting, or at least I was after only a few hours. Yet she balances it all so skillfully and with such great warmth and patience.

What lucky kids they are to have such a rock-star mom. And the rock-star BFF is totally honored to have her lap fought over.

Next on the BFF agenda: More dance costumes, possible nail-polishing sessions and more bouncing on my lap. I got a cool kid reputation to maintain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Geezus! You Walked In Here?!

I'm supposed to sleep in this. Yay.

Last week I fired my podiatrist.

I went in because my gait is jacked up and causing some pain in my left foot. So I was all, "My heel-to-toe transition is jacked. I'm not pronating properly, and it's causing me to walk on the outside of my foot. What's up with that, yo?"

So he poked me in the hips a few times and said I have a leg length discrepancy.

"Doesn't everyone have that," I asked.

"Yeah, but as we get older it can cause problems. You just need an orthotic."

"You think so, huh? Hmm. You're fired."

Ok, I didn't say that out loud, but I was thinking it.

Explain to me how a podiatrist can properly evaluate foot pain generated from walking without watching you walk? He didn't do a gait analysis or anything. So he got fired. See ya, Podiatrist One.

Yesterday I went to see a new podiatrist, well call him Podiatrist Two. I told him the same things and gave him the same medical history.

He took some measurements.

"Flex your foot," he said.

"I am."

"Flex it!"

"I am!"


That's positive, right?

So he had me walk up and down the hallway a few times. As I was coming back on my last round he said, all nonchalant-like, "You have the gait of a stroke victim." I thought about punching him in the face.

Then he said, "But you've learned to compensate really well."

Somehow I was flattered by this backhanded compliment.

"I do compensate really well, " I thought. "Thanks for noticing." (Eyelashes batting, in my mind.)

I'm proud of my ability to mask the nerve damage that causes me to wobble when I walk. But that's on my right side and we agreed that's never going to get better. So back to my left foot.

He gave me a physical therapy prescription, some sound advice, and a splint to sleep in.

"Do you think I need an orthotic? Do you think this is because one leg is longer than the other?" I asked him.

"What," he said, kind of confused. "No. Only a jackass would think that."

Ok, so maybe he didn't say that last thing. But it was implied.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Table For... 6

Went to Detroit this weekend for Baby M's baby shower, where he/she made out with lots of loot, including a teeny tiny Bengals jersey I got him/her.

I kept up my end of the baby-shower bargain by failing all of the shower games, scoring only 4 out of 12 correct on a quiz about Jen, overguessed by yard how big her belly is and drew the worst picture imaginable of what Baby M will look like. (My "vision" was Baby M circa 2029.)

Jen, true to form, is just about the cutest, most agile and sprightly pregnant woman ever. If not for the 8-month pregnant belly, you'd never know. She doesn't act pregnant and she looks exactly the same - face, legs, arms, hips, all the same - except that her belly looks like she's stuffed something under her shirt. (I had her show me her belly as proof she didn't just have a big Nerf ball under her top.)

While in Detroit the Tall Drink of Water and I hit Ikea on the hunt for a new dining room table. Our two-seater table was kind of laughable in our giant dining room/dance floor space.

But how we ended up with the biggest table at Ikea I'm uncertain. It seats six regularly, plus it has two leaves so it can seat 10. When we'd ever need to seat even 6 people is beyond me, but I love it, and TDW got me some lovely flowers to put on it.

Then again, maybe we will need 6 seats - me, TDW, Jen, Pat, Baby M and Baby M II. Hmm... we better go ahead and put the leaves in, just in case Jen has twins in the next go around! (Sorry Pat.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dear Time Magazine

Dan took this photo.

Vinyl has always been cool.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Coffee, Grapes and Bile - Breakfast of Champions

I want to punch Maureen Dowd in the face.

Her op-ed piece in today's Times, "Can Hillary Cry Her Back to the White House" is making my blood boil. It's one of the more sexist things I've read lately. Way to stereotype your way to the top of the Most Emailed list, MoDo. Ugh. It's just so... bitchy.

I'm going to dismiss it though. This is the person who wrote the most boring cover story on Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert imaginable. And it's an impressive feat to bore people with two of the funniest people on TV. Enough about them, Maureen. Tell us more about YOU.

Dowd's piece is the exact opposite of Gloria Steinem's excellently crafted piece from yesterday, "Women Are Never Front-Runners."

My money is on Steinem getting more hate mail, though. Hillary is bashing is easy. Everybody gets behind it. Reminding people that sexism is alive and thriving doesn't go over as well.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Today's Geography Lesson

The weather in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The weather in Cincinnati, Iowa.

Did you know there is a Cincinnati, Iowa?

I know this because my weather widget was wrongly set to Cincinnati, Iowa and for days I've been wondering why when it's 65 and warm out my weather widget says snowflakes and 33º.

The weather in Cincinnati, Iowa sucks.

The Day Maker

Yesterday there was a little boy and his mom walking down the main hallway of the hospital. He was about 4 or 5 maybe, wearing cute little glasses and a plaid shirt.

His hair had fallen out and he was wearing a mask over his mouth. Poor little guy is pretty sick.

Yet he was such a little ray of sunshine. He and his mom were holding hands and as I passed him I smiled at how cute he was. He looked up at me with these big blue eyes, gave me a sprightly wave and said a big "Hi!" as he passed.

It totally made my day.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Loook Out!!! (A Pop-Culture Post)

It's funny that my tagline is "Books, Records, Films... These things matter" because I never blog about them.

They must not matter that much. (Ohhh, but they do. I just never write about them.)

Until now!

I finished reading Straight Man, by Richard Russo a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a funny book about academia, but I couldn't help but see the ridiculousness of all petty ambition in its pages.

It's a good read, but not as good as my favorite read from last year, But Enough About Me, by Jancee Dunn. If you're in the market for a funny, terrific little ditty of a 30-somethings life so far, this is your book. I can't say enough about how much I loved it.

Went to the movies Christmas Eve and saw No Country For Old Men. I walked out about after about 30 minutes. I tried to be an accommodating girlfriend and agreed to see it, even though I knew I'd hate it. It wasn't a bad movie per se, but I hate feeling tense and anxious and watching endless numbers of people get killed. It's just not fun for me. So I squeaked into Barnes and Noble minutes before it closed and bought a few magazines to read until the movie was over.

I ended up reading them in the hallway of the theater because I couldn't stand listening to the Christmas music that was playing everywhere else in the Levee. Wasn't bad though. The bench was kind of comfy and up against a wall, so I could rest my back. That's nice. I'd give it a 7 out of 10 stars on the movie experience scale. (The magazines were pretty good.)

Saw Walk Hard on New Year's Day. Hee-larious. Jack White as Elvis was my favorite scene. (Don't click the link if you plan to see it, though. Save it for the Big Screen.) It reduces me to tears whenever I think about it/watch it. Loook out!!! (The Tall Drink of Water does a great impression of this, btw. Ask him to do it next time you see him.)

Walk Hard has a some lulls, but overall, good stuff.

Also, watched Waitress on demand last week. I know it got some mixed reviews, but I adored it. I'd have ended it a bit differently, but overall the dialog, characters, and story was so quirky and cute. And it's one of my favorite flavors for movies, bittersweet.

Books again
Back to books... I'm about halfway through the running cult classic Once a Runner. I recently found out it's out of print and worth about $200, so I dug out my pristine copy (I don't actually read most of the books I buy, you know) and man, what horrible writing.

I'll probably finish it because I feel I should - it being a cult classic and all, plus I'm mildly interested in what happens to ol' Cassidy - but woo wee does it have some trite-ass dialog and silliness. I also think the main character is thus-far the least developed, though the author, John Parker, is trying really, really hard to shroud him in mystery and intrigued. It's not working. Instead he comes across as vague and somewhat unlikable.

A friend of mine says he can't imagine anyone but a former or current competitive runner finding it compelling because it's so poorly written. So far that assessment is spot on. I was once gripped by a book on the history of Blood, proving that if it's well written, anything can be absorbing.

Aaaand that's it for now folks. This should serve my tagline well for next year or so. Or until I walk out of another movie.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Dan and his fancy new camera took this photo.

The Tall Drink of Water and I had a little soireé last night. We ran out of pretty much everything (Ok, just Coke and beer), but it was fun anyway - Dancing, 45s, champagne and a I'm sure a ball dropped and countdown happened at some point.

Dan got a fancy new camera and took some fantastic photos. And wrote even better titles for them.

Hope the new year is wonderful for you and yours. Happy '08!