Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Very Caliente Christmas

Tonight Ray and I are going to Nada to celebrate a few days off the Christmas spirit, because nothing says Merry Christmas like salsa and chips.

Feliz Navidad!

We also plan to look wintry but cozy, bundled up in colorful scarves and holiday sweaters while we stroll hand-in-hand and watch ice skaters and stare wishfully at the sparkling lights on the giant Macy's Christmas tree. I plan to live-tweet our adorableness.

Just kidding. I rarely tweet.

Then it's time to pounce into all that papery goodness. I'm excited to go out and buy myself whatever I didn't get, like this gorgeous necklace.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sugar Plums, It's Almost Christmas!

It's almost Christmas, you guys, which means something very exciting is coming up - an end to xmas music on the radio. Hooray! Merry Christmas, y'all!

Forced happiness. Unholy music. Inflatable lawn ornaments.* High calorie, low taste snacks. What's not to love?!

In spite of all that is reasonable and holy and sane, I am looking forward to the festivities this year. Ok, mostly I'm looking forward to the sides - stuffing, noodles, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, sugar plums, wine.

Plus, I've been really good this year, so I'm sure that Santa's plan is to bury me in awesome gifts and holiday cheer.

Six days, people!

* I DO love inflatable lawn penguins. And this snowman. Is there an app that will map all of these things or something?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Party Like A Rock Star

The squared bottom red cups I brought to the lab holiday party today were a HUGE success. Everyone drank from them.

Initially I signed up to bring water from the bathroom to go along with all the snacks and treats other people were bringing, but these cups were pure holiday joy.

If you're having a party - holiday, dinner, birthday, what have you - consider inviting me. I bring my a-game.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Jack, Call Me

I can't get this song out of my head. So now you all have to deal with it. And by deal with it I mean scoop up the goo of your melted off face cause it's so awesome.

I could have also posted Iesha. (On the MONKEYBAAARS!) So, yeah.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hell Yes, Taste of Belgium

Now that I've been to Brussels and am an expert on Belgian food, it's only right that I should review the new Taste of Belgium bistro in OTR.

My review: It's terrific. Go there immediately. (12th and Vine.)

The space is airy and lively, it has a bar/counter (I will eat anywhere that has a counter), as well as a bonus counter where you can watch them make pastries.

The service is great and the food is delicious. (This photo doesn't do it justice - it was busy both times we were there.)

I had the vegetarian crepe (spinach, red peppers, goat cheese, balsamic) and added some turkey for protein. Ray had The 'Nati, which was goetta and some other stuff, I can't remember exactly, but who cares because mine was better, so get what I got.

And the crepes are made with buckwheat, bonus.

But the real highlight was the frites. (I can say frites now that I'm practically Belgian.)

Yes, I ordered fries for brunch, with a crepe. Don't judge.

You can't go to a Belgian place without getting frites and since I ate my way through a cone of these babies one night after a full dinner in Brussels, I had to try the local version.

Taste of Belgium uses chipotle mayo for theirs, and to that I say, Hell yes, Taste of Belgium. *applause

But I will tell you this. Ray is a greedy mofo when it comes to the chipotle mayo. You get one container with your frites, and sure, they'd have given us another one, but that's not the point. The point is that we shouldn't eat two containers of chipotle mayo, so I was all, "Ray, easy on the mayo, we gotta make it last through this whole cone of fries."

And Ray was all, "LAY OFF ME AND THE MAYO!"


That's why he's smiling in this photo. Because he got the better of the chipotle mayo.

We love it so much we went back the next weekend (and because it's practically in Ray's backyard) and this time we both had the turkey and cranberry waffle sandwich, which was the weekend special. I was cagey at first about a waffle sandwich. I was wrong to be cagey. Fear not, my friends. You'll dig it.

On your way out, or if you're just dropping in for coffee (from Coffee Emporium), there is a case of pastries, cookies and waffles at the front you will absolutely swoon over.

The place is just about perfect.

I saw Wine Me, Dine Me there snapping photos, so look for her review if you actually want to read an articulate review by someone who knows about food.

Or you can just trust me, being that I'm an expert in Belgian food and beer because I ate and drank there. (Totally qualified.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Santa Prep

Ray and I got the apartment ready for Santa's arrival, where he is certain to bring us everything on our list:

• Pretzel M&Ms
• Snow on Christmas Day
• (new) Used records

Tall orders, we know, but we made this video for him... and Ray does the robot!

We're gonna be buried in M&Ms and snow. *yes!

Gina and Ray

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble, Gobble

I hardly slept a wink last night.

My mom kept me up late watching the finalé of Dancing With The Stars.

Except she calls it, 'Dances With Stars.' Kind of like, 'Dances With Wolves.' It's a Native American dancing show now.

Ray and Susie were on their way to Natural Bridge for Thanksgiving and stayed over last night. Which meant yours truly got to slept on the couch after 'Dances With Stars' was over.

My mom was torn between JR and Rob winning.

'Rob is so sweet... even if he does have a big butt,' she said. 'But JR is really good. He's a natural. Rob had to improve a lot... because he kept sticking his big butt out.'

I'll not spoil the ending for anyone.

It was good to have them 'home,' even if they did insult my tv - 'It's so tiny! Does that thing have a tube in it?!'

Tomorrow Ray (my boyfriend, not my dad) and I will be heading to Kentucky to join them for turkey and stuffing. *and visions of pumpkin pie danced in my head

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Imma Be A Reverend!

From Halloween, 2008. This was a really, really good look for us. She should wear my 'wedding dress.'

No one sane lets me do anything at their wedding but eat, drink and sometimes break it down to Rob Bass' It Takes Two.  

So a few weeks ago when my best pal Missy asked me to officiate her wedding, well… I just stared at her.

I was waiting for her say, "Just kidding! Hahaha! I'm having someone uncrazy do it! Woo - you should have seen the look on your face!"

But she didn't say that. So finally I said, "Really?" very hopefully, like, 'Really? Truly? Me?! YES!"

And then immediately the Princess Bride wedding scene entered my head - MAHWIDGE. Mahwidge is what bwings us, togever, tooday. And I envisioned cracking up everyone with my super spot-on impression.

This is why people don't ask me to do things at their weddings.

But instead the themes I'm going for in my first role as officiant are: Sweet, fun, romantic and light-hearted.

Tan, gleaming blonde hair and kick-ass dress will just be unexpected freebies for the guests.

I feel like I also need to be in shape, have super white teeth and basically just allow my inner glow to radiate.

Wait, who's wedding is this? I'm Reverend-Zilla.


I've already started outlining what I will say, how I will welcome the guests, how I will introduce Missy and Josh, and what best captures the love and romance and hope that weddings are all about.

Geezus, I hope I don't cry.

Missy will most certainly slap me if I do, which could mess up her hair, and I don't want to get slapped again just because she didn't use enough spray.

Basically, what I'm saying is that I have only 10 months to plan for this and already I am panicking. For the love God send me your ideas a-sap! And make it funny and sweet and lovely and light-hearted and romantic, will ya.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Score One For The Minions

Oh, this smug look?

Because it was pouring down rain when my package arrived at another building. But you know who was in that other building for a meeting? The Boss Man. So rather than walk outside to get it, I enlisted the help of an admin.

"Can you have Dr. Boss Man bring my Amazon package over when he leaves. It's very important."

"Hahahaha! Ummm... Ok, I'll tell him!"

The package contained my new origami iPad case and two instructional ballet DVDs.

He came back wet and kinda pissed.

Totally worth it.

Monday, November 07, 2011

How To Occupy Those Cold Winter Months (Mostly)

"In my early twenties, that’s when I really began to write. Before that, I was too busy working, keeping myself going. I often thought of killing myself but then I wanted lunch. So I had to make a buck. And all my stories were rejected. I sent them out to various editors and they returned them. In fact, I had to wait until I was in my late twenties before I sold a couple of stories to what was then called the Negro Digest. I still have them."

From the Paris Review's Q&A with author Paula Fox, who I had never heard of until I read this interview. Great stuff.

And I hope you're not busy for like, the next three months because look - The Paris Review's legendary series Writer's At Work, where authors discuss their lives and craft, are right here.

Each decade's greats - Hemingway, Capote, Ellison, Didion, Faulkner, Nabokov. A staggering list.

According to Wikipedia Nabokov's interview was cut short when Jeopardy came on. I don't know if this is true, but God I hope it is. I totally get it, Nab. Jeopardy is awesome.

I'll be busy the entire winter reading all of these. Thank God for the iPad, and I never thought I'd say this, but for cold weather.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Science-y Post For My Third Favorite Scientist

Look everyone, I'm a scientist. Conducting research.

Aren't I a natural, leaning into the microscope so quizically. Hmm, interesting. Interesting indeed... I shall write this into my lab notebook.

Thanks to my scientist colleague Patrick, I am looking at HeLa cells, the most famous cells ever.

Patrick knew I was on a mission to see these little babies in person after The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks came out, so he was all, "Hey babe, I got those cells you wanted to see." And I was all, "Meet you in the lab, babe."

(Because Patrick and I are friends in a sweetly condescending way.)

Then he told me why he needed the HeLa cells:
"We're looking for mutant protein something-something, so we can transfect the cells to see something-something; and then if we can get the aggregate to something-something, then we'll understand how it impacts the genome, gene by gene, something-something."

Which sounded very interesting but mostly what I heard was "blah-blah-blah" because, "Ooh, neato! Cells! And they move if you stare at them long enough!"

Then I think Patrick mentioned replacing the cell's catalytic converter and fixing the Johnson rod, but who knows... I was busy considering the medical impact of these microscopic blobs, which have provided the building blocks for countless breakthroughs, including the cure for polio, AIDS treatments, gene mapping, fertility and our understanding of viruses.

My desk is only about 20 feet away from this spot, so basically if Patrick discovers any breakthroughs, I will be right there.

God I love science.

This is Patrick looking at the same cells. He doesn't look nearly as science-y as I do.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

A month ago I was traipsing around Europe all wide-eyed and impressed by every single little thing in life - Look, Euro girls where panty hose under their shorts!; Parisians sit on the Seine River bank and get crunk!; the fries in Brussels are slathered in mayo, amazing!

And a week ago I was in Boston sipping salted caramel mochas, eating Italian food, dancing in bars and watching strapping, sporty hotties oar down the Charles River with my besties.

And what am I doing this weekend? Well, look out for this crazy train, y'all. I caught a cold on the plane (aka, those petri dishes of infection known as the contagious skies) so my weekend will involve soup, reading and having way less fun.

Talk about your all time slaps in the face.

Traveling, good food, new cities, exploring, great friends. It's all over too soon. The world opens, then it closes again.

Being home is great because you can get all the gas-free tap water you want, but everything else is... grim.

The only thing traveling does is make me realize all the amazing things I am missing elsewhere, like Brits with good teeth and the mushroom ravioli at Trattoria di Monica.

I can't even bear to set out my souvenir coasters of the Eiffel Tower because I'm so damn sad I'm not in Paris anymore. (But I know what you're thinking, 'Damn girl, those coasters are terrific. I can't wait to sit a glass of iced-tea on one.')

And I've already wore the new boots I bought in Boston, twice. (Sadly, clicking the heels of them didn't transport me back to boot shopping on Newberry Street with Julie and Kari.)

Maybe this cold is a good thing. Force myself to finally, officially unpack my suitcases, unwrap my souvenirs, do some laundry.

Just kidding. All that sounds horrible. Denial ain't so bad. At least it comes with all the tap water I can drink.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cassady Wants His Latte Like, Now

Ray. Ray! Are you awake?

Hand me my pumpkin spiced latte, will ya? I'm so exhausted from trekking around Ikea and DSW I literally cannot take another step. Haha, don't you hate it when people say 'literally.' But seriously, I literally cannot take another step.

Ray? RAY?

Ok well, I asked you nicely. It's your funeral now, mister.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I ♥ Boston

And these lovely ladies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Ray (inspecting my head, eyes widening): Wow.

Me: What?! It's lice, isn't it. I knew I had lice!

Ray: What? No, you don't have lice. (pause) It's worse. You have tons of gray hair.

Me: Oh. You think that's bad, look at this. *points to gray streak in the front, like that chick from What Not to Wear

Ray (*eyes bigger): WHOA.

Me: It's not me, it's my genetics.

Ray: Your genetics says you're old, and you need a dye job.

Me: Pshht. And a new boyfriend.

But I forgave him. What Ray misses in tact he makes up for in little blue boxes and fancy birthday dinners. With age red wine comes indifference wisdom.

Besides, what I lack in hair pigment I make up for in high heels, boxed brownies and laughing until I cry. Plus, I almost never turn my laundry pink anymore.

Youngins', you can't hold a candle to that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Doing It For My Country

Everybody, quick! Get out your credit cards - let's share a cold one with Uncle Joe.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vigorous Biking Ahead

About 100 million years ago I got this bike rack at Meijer for $40. Because when it comes to securing a bike (or two) on the back of my car, I want quality.

In spite of my fears, not once has a bike bounced off into the street and caused a horrific accident. Until then, we roll.

This weekend we rolled around Lunken. Twice. We had to eat bananas and protein bars in between loops.

Just a couple of athletes doing the athletic thing, you know.

Afterwards we ate Graeter's in the park because we were still feeling 'outdoorsy.'

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cause Baby It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Tomatoes are still ripening on the vine.

Saturday we rode bikes.

Sunday I scootered.

And I'm sitting on the balcony in shorts and t-shirt.

Suck it, fall.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish'

It's impossible to state the impact Steve Jobs has had on my life.

I've been using Apple computers almost exclusively since middle school. I learned to type, design newspaper pages, edit photos, appreciate typography, create movies and blog all on Apples.

My first byline was written on an Apple computer in 1991.

Tonight I learned via a text message on my iPhone that Steve Jobs died.

He is the only CEO I can imagine shedding a tear for, and I feel sorry that we've lost a true innovator.

*hat tip

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Steve Jobs, 2005

Do yourself a favor and watch this video, or read the transcript.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

C'est Magnifique

Or I should say, it was magnificent. I am home now and NOT happy about it.

The trip was absolutely magical and I enjoyed every single moment of sightseeing, wine, cheese, chocolate, beer and complete exhaustion.

Another blister from walking all over Europe, well then, YES please!

The Paris subway door nearly ripped off my arm, oh, that's ok!

I'm an idiot American who speaks only one language while everyone else speaks at least three, insult me, I deserve it!

Since I landed in the good ol' US-of-A I have done nothing but plot my return, mostly to Paris. London and Brussels were wonderful stops, but it was Paris that stole my heart.

It's impossible to not gush whenever I tell anyone about the trip, but especially Paris. The narrow cobblestone roads, the Parisian booksellers lining the streets of the Latin Quarter, the sun shining on the French architecture and the gorgeous bridges spanning the Seine.

Paris feels magical because it looks magical.

It seems impossible to miss a place where you spent only three days, but already I feel nostalgic. I was explaining to my mom why I loved Paris so much and I felt almost melancholy thinking how beautiful it all was and how I might not ever see those things again.

I want more blisters! I want another bruise from the subway! I want more crappy French service! (Though to be honest, the service wasn't bad at all and no one insulted me not even once. Disappointing.)

I took 540 photos of the trip, 354 of them of Paris, many of them idle street and café shots in the hopes of burning them into my memory.

Isn't it gorgeous?

The last few days I've started and stopped a dozen blog posts about the trip - the majesty of the Arc de Triomphe and the kinda awful but mostly hilarious story of me peeing my pants there (oh yes, it's true); how being in London was like one big BBC comedy to me; my new friend Nibila who graciously showed me all around Brussels on her day off. So much to remember.

There are so many stories that my mind hasn't filtered through them all yet. So look forward to European travelogues for the next year or so. Hooray! (Drinking French wine, Belgian beer and eating chips is strongly encouraged during such travel reading. It's only fitting and totally not your fault if you get hammered.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's Up, Ding Dongs

Hey ummm, does anybody know where I can get a snack-cake?

Oh wait, what's this here, at my desk?!

How about 168 Ding Dongs covering my cubicle, phone and computer?! How about 30,240 calories worth of Ding Dongs?! How about 1,512 grams of Ding Dong fat, hmm?!

Wow, but you know what would make this better? If they all had some kind of message on them, like, I dunno... a greeting or an action verb of some type.

My God! By all the twinkling stars of bountiful heaven, look! They all say, "Eat Me!" on them. They're commanding me to love them even more!

I am beside myself in cream filling over this. This is revenge, people. Sweet, sweet revenge.

See, a few weeks ago I accused the Boss Man of throwing a Ding Dong at me. At first I thought it was manna from Heaven because it came hurtling down at me from the floor above, and besides that, no one in their right mind would launch a perfectly good snack-cake at someone.

It had to be sorcery... The kind of sorcery the Boss Man practices, that is.

So I sent him an email that basically said, "I know you threw that Ding-Dong! Don't deny it because whoever threw it had a bad aim and I know your arm is all jacked up, in addition to being pale and hairless! Confess, cupcake abuser!"

Officemate Carolyn tried to intercede: "Boss Man prefers a marshmallow gun as his weapon of choice," she said, which was a really good point because it's totally true. "Unless he really did throw a snack cake, then that is indefensible and wrong." Also totally true.

The Boss Man responded hours later with something watery like, "How DARE you! You want Ding-Dongs?! I'll show you Ding-Dongs!!!"

That was three weeks ago.

Monday morning I saw my cube and at first I was like, "Ack! I've been Ding Dong'd!" But then quickly realized, "Awesome!"

If this is revenge then I am all for it, and so is Hostess. (But Little Debbie, oooh is she pissed.) Ha, jokes on him, I love Ding-Dongs. Everyone loves Ding Dongs.

Who's you're best friend now, hmm? It's me, isn't it?! ME!

Today I turned them into one of the wonders of the world, pyramids. Tomorrow I will try for Stonehenge.

Party in my cube, y'all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bombs Away

You wouldn't know it from reading this blog but I have a stack of books on my nightstand that I swear I'm going to write reviews of one of these days.

I know you all are riveted.

My God, Gina, how DARE you make us wait for your opinion on Mishna Wolff's, 'I'm Down.'

(My opinion is it's funny and moving and wonderfully-written and basically I hated it because I didn't write it; but you should read it and we'll go out for drinks and chat about it because it's not often in book discussions you get talk about race relations and socioeconomic status as well as Kangols and Doug E. Fresh.)

But to hold you over, I stumbled upon this spectacular list of Author-on-Author insults at Flavorwire, including this Mark Twain take-down of Jane Austen (1898):

"I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone."

I laughed out loud.

I've never read any Jane Austen, but I understand the sentiment. (I happen to feel the same way about Elizabeth Gilbert for Eat, Pray, Love, which should have been titled, Eat, Pray, Hit Elizabeth Gilbert With Her Own Shin-Bone.)

I'm just jealous no one paid me gobs of money to type a bunch of babbling crap and bind it.

The comments to the Author-on-Author insults are tremendous too. And while you're there, don't miss the Musician-on-Musician take-downs.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Expatriés, Paris

"Please god, let me go to Paris someday and let me go to the wrong restaurant and let me be treated rudely by Parisians and let me wander randomly, not knowing where I am going, confused, and find myself in some less than wonderful café, eating less than the best food and having a glass of not particularly good red wine. What better thing could you hope for - my god, it's Paris!"
- Anthony Bourdain, in this hilarious travel video

In 14 days I will be in Paris.

If it's sounds like I'm bragging, I am.

I've never even been to Canada ok, people. Don't take this away from me.

I've been practicing on my iPad how to have conversational French with crappy waiters, pouring over maps, breaking in shoes and already I've packed my bag, unpacked it and packed it again only with more protein bars and Pepto tablets.

Every since I read this staggering Jacques Prévert poem I've been dying to go. (A 43-word poem that captures better what a million words could never.) And now I am so excited I can't believe I ever thought of anything else.

The beauty of it is other than seeing Parc Montsouris (that's French, y'all) from the poem, I have no agenda per se, other than to walk around and see the city and the sights, eat bread, drink wine and sit in cafés. And I can't think of anything more delightful than getting lost in Paris, hopefully in the Latin Quarter where all the bookstores are.

Though truthfully, I probably won't get lost. Ray (my boyfriend not my dad) went last year (I'm basically his hayseed girlfriend) and we are traveling with two friends, one of whom speaks French and doesn't consider it a good year unless he's gone to Paris.

So basically my job is to sit back and be awed. That, I am good at.

My biggest concern is how I'm going to get Anna Karenina to Europe. Because why wouldn't I be reading a 950 page tome instead of a reasonably sized, easier to travel with book. Usually I don't even read books this long because it's not my fault the writer needed a better editor and I don't have that kinda time, but at 150 pages in, I gotta see how this unfolds.

Anna is heavy and bulky and I don't really want to carry a big book around, but I can't commit to reading on the iPad quite yet. It feels like... cheating. And is there a better time to read Tolstoy than being trapped with it on a plane for 16 hours round trip? Hell no.

So Anna is coming with me, I'm just undecided in what form.

Anyway, I should go... I'm heading to Target to buy one of those posters of the Eiffel Tower so I can hang it in my dining room so when people come over I can be all, "Oh, I've always loved Paris... and I totally got that at a street fair on the Champs-whatever-it's-called.'

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Irene

This is a crappy photo but you can feel Pat's rockin'ness if you look close enough.

My weekend was supposed to be wine and friend-filled in Boston. It was to be glorious.

Instead I was stuck in Cincinnati thanks to that bitch-troll Irene.

But when life gives you hurricanes, you just add rum, right? Or in this case, Pat Benatar!

I remembered at exactly 7:49 p.m. that one of my '80s idols was hitting the Taste of Blue Ash stage at 9 p.m., and I quickly texted everyone I know, "OMG Pat Benatar at Taste of Blue Ash, We Belong!"

I stared at my phone anticipating the vibrating explosion of excited texts from everyone canceling plans to roll with me and see this amazing female rocker.

Instead, crickets.

My friends are losers. (You all know who you are.)

So I went to see Pat, alone... because that's what Her Bad-Assery would have wanted.

I raced to Blue Ash praying, "Look, Jesus... please let Hurricane Irene skip the coasts, cause no deaths, inflict minimal property damage, and ummm, oh, by the way, for the love of God, don't let me miss a minute of Ms. Benatar!"

Ask and you shall receive, people.

All Fired Up was playing when I rolled in. Though not a mega-hit like her others, it's one of my personal favorites and if you don't have it on your iTunes then I feel sorry for you because it is a hard-rocking stadium smoker sang by one of rock's most iconic singers and it totally will rock your Arcade-Fire-listening ass off. (So here it is; right click and you too shall receive.)

I squeezed past the throngs of people who had been staking their claim for hours swilling Miller Lites, saw a narrow little opening atop a retaining wall and slid in with the help of some dude who helped pull me up the step.

And Pat. Well, damn. She lit-it-up.

Her voice, still fierce. Moves, she's got 'em. Her hits, she sang them all.

She was way bigger a force than Irene.

We will be invincible!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sunday's Forecast: Sunny With Lots of Snark

The Boss Man is having a pool party for the lab, and since I sit near the lab and sneak slices of their pizza before lab meeting, I was reluctantly enthusiastically invited. (Carolyn said she had to force the Boss Man's hand into typing my name on the invite, and he winced while doing so.)

I graciously accepted because I know it's not a pool party unless I'm there to retell my near-drowning story. (Get excited everyone!)

So, what is the protocol on wearing my barely-acceptable-as-dental-floss string bikini to this thing? (Ok, I don't really own a bikini like that.) I mean, I have huge assets I like to show off. You know what I'm sayin' - huge ASSeTs. (Actually, I'm built like a tween girl.) And I don't know if the people who sit near me are prepared to see me coming up outta the water all voluptuous and mermaid-y with water streaming down me. (I will look like a wet rat.) They're just gonna feel bad about their bodies after seeing how tan and fit I am. (I don't need the criticism of how pale and outta shape I look nearly naked.)

And wait 'til they see my swimming and cannonball prowess. (I'm only good at swimming underwater and in pools, clearly I'm no good in the ocean. Plus I'm afraid of smacking my legs, so I won't do cannonballs.) You should see the incredible splashes I can make! (Cause I'm actually kinda drowning... again.)

I'll probably hang out in the pool the entire time and teach other people's kids how to swim. (If I hang out in the pool very long I will certainly end up with a uti, which will force me to call in late the next day while I go pee in a cup at my doctor's office. What is the proper way to communicate to your Boss Man that his pool party gave you an infection and now it burns when you pee? Is "hoo-ha" an appropriate term you can use in this instance? That's scientific, right?)

Mna, I love swimming! (Which is to say, I like sitting by pools reading magazines.) So I am pretty excited about this par-tay! (I hope I don't fall down and break anything. But if I do, it won't be the Boss Man's record collection because I already swiped all the good vinyl from his house.)

And speaking of the Boss Man and my near drowning (hey, did you guys hear the story about how I nearly drowned in a ripcurrent?), the Boss Man was in China when it happened was only able to just this week insult me about it. Talk about waiting with bated breath!

It went down like this (and I'm not making up one single word of this, I swear to God he actually said this to me):

Boss Man: I would think someone like you, who's had true life changing experiences - death of a sibling, cancer - would be aware of their mortality, and not get into the ocean when the sign says DANGER Ripcurrents, No Swimming.

ME: The sign posted at the beach didn't say that. The sign at the beach basically said, 'Welcome to Rehoboth Beach, there might be ripcurrents.' The sign you saw me jokingly posed by was at the lifeguard house in case of severe danger; it was not posted that day at the beach. There were hundreds of people in the water. And I am fully aware of my mortality, thank you very much.

Boss Man: Oh, I thought the sign was posted right at the entrance, 'don't swim here,' and you just walked past and laughed and hopped in the ocean anyway.

ME: What kind of an idiot do you take me for? You think if it really said 'Don't Swim Here, Ripcurrents,' I'd have Baywatched my lily white ass out there anyway?

Boss Man: Actually, yes! I thought that's what you did!

ME: This conversation is over. *turns to walk away

Boss Man: Sit down right there, missy, this is your fault. Your writing lacks clarity. This is a learning experience for you, and I am your mentor. Let's talk about how we can make your writing more clear.

ME: I wish I had drowned, then I wouldn't have to have this conversation.

Boss Man: Well, I am really glad you didn't. Life would have been far less entertaining... and I wouldn't have anyone to steal lunch from.

Then he left me standing in the lab while he waltzed off to probably go steal half-eaten food from my trash can.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thanks A Lot, Jerks

Turns out, everyone has nearly drowned in a rip current.

Ok, not really. But I've heard several similar stories from friends and colleagues, but none them were saved by super buff lifeguards like I was. So theirs doesn't count.

As I was writing my mostly serious but sometimes joking blogpost about all this last week, Ray was writing a thank you email to the Rehoboth Beach Patrol.

Which is surprising really because all he talks about now is how much he hates lifeguards, and I'm like, 'But wait, they totally saved me, and you by extension since your ass was probably gonna drown too trying to pull me in.' And he's like, 'Yeah, but why did it have to be super-buff lifeguards who my girl wants mouth-to-mouth from, why did it have to be ol' buff blue eyes who came for you... Why not a lifeguard with a cleft lip, or one of those hot buff chick lifeguards?!'

Ray is really selfish.

Except he really isn't. He's been a firefighter/EMT for like, 20 years, so he takes rescuing people kinda seriously, and therefore, not surprisingly, he spent a good deal of time beating himself up for us needing a lifeguard.

And to that I was all, "Ray, you're a firefighter, not a flotation device. Had I been ON FIRE you'd have been really handy, but I wasn't. ...And you don't float well, by the way."

And speaking of helpful things to say, here are a few gems people have said to me when hearing about my adventures at sea.

• Those are rough waters there! Why can't you vacation at the Gulf?! Or the Caribbean where the water is smooth as glass, hmmm?!

• If you vomit up sea water I'm gonna freak out.

• Not sure whether you owe Ray for risking his life for you or if he owes you for the entertainment. Probably a push.

• Gina, were you drinking?
(the answer is no, not a drop.)

• Why would Ray feel responsible, it's not like he's a Navy Seal.

• Ooh, beach wedding! You can get married in the surf. But I'll stand on the shore and watch because I don't get in past my ankles. The ocean is scary; and I don't like strange things brushing up against my legs.

• Jared makes fun of me for not getting in the ocean past my waist. I'm gonna tell him to suck it, I have good reason for this now. Plus, I like to be able to see my lower half.

And the best quote of all - Why didn't she just swim parallel to the shore?

Thanks a lot, Poseidon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Midwestern Girl and The Sea

This was supposed to be a post about blinding the beach-goers of Delaware with my lily white ass because the waves of the Atlantic pulled my bikini bottoms off a half dozen times.

But as we know, life changes quickly, and instead it's a post about how my lily white ass, and the rest of me, had to be dragged to shore by a lifeguard after I liked to drown this weekend.

My love of hyperbole is well documented.

It was the best/craziest/weirdest thing that happened to me EVER, and I'll be talking about extra fruit at Yagoot. But believe me when I say this is one of the best/scariest stories ever, and I have a few.

Friday afternoon Ray and I were splashing around in the surf at Reboboth Beach. Everything seemed cool, but before I knew it I couldn't touch anymore. One minute I'm bobbing up and down, splashing in the waves, the next minute I can't touch and I'm treading water.

And treading, and treading, and treading... and starting to get tired.

I attempted to work my way back to the shore.

Kick, kick, kick. Swim, swim, swim. Nothing.
Push, push, push. Kick, kick, kick. Swim some more.

I've been out much farther in the ocean before with no problem, but suddenly I was out there and for all my I kicking, swimming and struggling, I wasn't going anywhere. In fact, I seemed to be getting only further away and I couldn't stand up to rest and catch my breath. By then I was already extremely fatigued from fighting.

I didn't know then I was in a rip current.

I thought if I could get back to Ray and he could stand then I could rest for a little while. But when he told me he couldn't stand either, I knew I was in trouble. My distress and fatigue at that point was obvious though I was trying to mask it, and Ray came over to me. When he did I grabbed onto him in the hopes that I could lean on him and rest, but he couldn't stand either, and we both went under.

I had the distinct feeling when we came up that if grabbed onto him again we'd both drown. I remember that from swim lessons as a kid - a drowning person will drown you with them.

Ray wasn't panicking but he was fearful. What he didn't know was that I had been struggling to get myself back closer to the shore for some time and was already exhausted.

I continued to struggle to get back to where I could stand but I was getting exponentially more fatigued by the second. Even staying afloat was work, and every time I went under a wave it was a little harder to push myself back up.

At that point I knew I had to get to shore quickly and I didn't have the strength to do it on my own.

I knew I was going to drown unless someone came for me.
I looked Ray in the eye and said, "I'm not going to make it."

His face went slack with distress and he grabbed my arm to try and pull me, but when he did I went under again. I could barely keep my head above water on my own, and it was impossible to keep my head above water while struggling with him. I actually thought we were both going to drown by him trying to save me.

"Stay away from me," I told him. "Don't come near me."

It probably sounded harsh, but I was attempting to save us both. I had enough energy left to tread water for a little while if nothing was impeding me, and I figured if I went under again I at least had enough energy left to push myself back up to the surface a few more times.

And then, without saying a word to Ray, and it must have been somewhat startling, I yelled to the shore for help. Screaming, as loud as I could, HELP! 

Even though I fleetingly thought 'This is going to make quite a scene at this very crowded beach,' I was acutely aware my time and energy was quickly fading.

When I started yelling for help, so did Ray. I could see the lifeguard stand but I wasn't sure if they could hear us. But I figured someone on the shore would be able to hear us and would pass it along to the lifeguards.

Within seconds I saw the fuzzy outline of a lifeguard leave the stand and told myself, "Just relax, keeping treading, they're coming..." I knew I could tread water at least until he got there.

I don't know what happened in the interim, it seemed like mere seconds passed, but suddenly the lifeguard was there, right in front of me, like he just appeared out of the ocean.

He pushed his orange flotation thing to me and grabbed me from behind. I heard him tell Ray to grab on too. We were both exhausted and scared. Then another lifeguard appeared and gave Ray his own floaty, and Ray told him that he was sorry, that he just couldn't figure out a way to get me to shore and he said, "I thought, 'I'm going to watch my girlfriend drown, or drown myself trying to help her.'"

I felt secure at that point, like everything was scary but ok, and scoffed and told Ray, 'This is their job. They are probably having fun right now.'

Behind me I heard my lifeguard say, 'Beats sitting in a chair.'

While I was more secure and somewhat joking, I also think I was trying to pretend that this was no big deal - 'This is their job' - because that is my MO. But meanwhile, Ray was well-aware this was a big freakin' deal, and he was sorry we were all in this situation.

When we got closer to the shore the lifeguards told us a big wave was coming and then suddenly, I felt the concussion of my lifeguard's forehead against the back of my head. The force knocked me face first into the water, and the wave overtook us. The blow to my head hurt so badly I wondered briefly if I would come back up or if I had a concussion and would drown that way.

About then the guard pulled me up out of the water and basically dragged my ass the rest of the way to shore, standing behind me. When we got there he asked if I could stand and walk, and I did, but my legs were like Jell-O and I was super unstable. What I wanted to do was fall into the sand. But the beach was shoulder-to-shoulder when we got there, and now everyone was shoulder-to-shoulder on the shoreline watching me be dragged in.

I waved to everyone standing and staring and said something like, 'Hey everyone, very exciting, I nearly drowned.'

I was trying to make light of it but internally I was just about to freak the hell out.

A little girl who was holding her dad's hand said to me, 'The waves are really big. Was it rough? It was rough wasn't it?' She was so cute and sweet and I was afraid she'd be scared, so I told her it was really rough but that I was ok and she had to be very careful.

Suddenly Ray was there again. It was like I didn't see him for a long time once the lifeguards got there, even though it was probably less than a minute. He stood there holding me up on the beach and was talking to me, but I couldn't really hear him. All I kept saying was, "I'm ok. I'm ok."

I don't know if I was trying to convince him, or me.

We went back to our chairs and spent the next hour alternately feeling traumatized and making jokes.

The lifeguards at Rehoboth are not like the Midwestern, pool-grade lifeguards we see, they're super buff hotties who are trained and skilled at saving people from the ocean (check out their required skills test, and then their photos - hotties galore), so if you're going to nearly drown I'd highly recommend doing so at Rehoboth Beach.

I joked to Ray from the safety of my beach chair that, 'Hey, wait, didn't I need mouth-to-mouth from the really hot one?!' To which Ray replied, 'I'm glad you didn't, I'd have never seen you again.'

One minute I'd be demanding that the lifeguards come back so I could get their phone numbers, you know, to call and make out with them and thank them, the next my eyes would well with tears at how terrifying it all was.

I mean, I've been through a lot, I had cancer, but never have I felt so singularly aware that my life was in immediate peril... that's because I've never felt like I was going to drown before.

I kept apologizing to Ray for how scary it was and for putting us at risk, and Ray kept saying, 'I'm just glad you're ok. Jesus, Gina. Damn it. Never a dull moment with you.' Then he'd shake his head. And then again, 'Jesus, Gina... Damn it, I'd like to marry you... before you drown.'

While I repeated over and over, 'Holy shit. I'm glad I didn't drown. But what a great story!'

There was a lot of swearing afterwards.

After about an hour we went to thank the lifeguards and that's when they said we got caught in a rip current, which I didn't really know what that was. But after looking it up it made me feel better. Before that I thought I'd inadvertently caused it myself by going out too far, even though I've certainly been out further in the ocean before without problems, so I couldn't understand what happened or how I'd failed so spectacularly.

The guard said they have to pull people out all the time because they fight and get exhausted and panic, adding, 'You probably won't be the last one today.'

Before Friday I thought of rip currents as being these violent washes of water that pull you out suddenly. It wasn't like that. Instead it just steadily carried me away from Ray and further from the shore without me even realizing it. By the time I needed to fight to get back, I was ill-informed to help myself.

Getting out of a rip current is counter-intuitive - you have to first go parallel to the shore before you can get back in. It doesn't matter how good of a swimmer you are if you don't know this. And in my case, even knowing this would have been unhelpful because I couldn't identify that I was even in a rip current. My Hollywood idea of them was that they are these fast moving tides of water. Not the case. 

Every once in a while I have that, 'Oh my god, I am so glad I didn't drown' moment, but mostly I recount the story all Baywatch-esque, with the lifeguards running through the surf all tan and buff in slow motion while Chariots of Fire plays.

And I figure I got maybe another week of milking parlaying this trauma into iced lattés and flowers from Ray.

'It was so scary when I nearly drowned, woooo... I sure could go for a little treat, like an iced-vanilla soy latté.' *blink, blink, blink

And every time Ray says anything nice I ascribe it to my near-drowning, so he remembers how scary it was an is even nicer. 'Aww, I love you too. I'm so glad we didn't drown. Oh, are these flowers for me, because I almost died?'

I joke, but truly, it was scary stuff. I shudder when I think about it too much.

Hours after this happened I saw the "Danger, Rip Currents" sign and also the "Welcome to Rehoboth Beach" sign that included another rip current warning and took some photos beside it. (Too soon?)

But because you're now better informed, you should absolutely watch this video about rip currents from the University of New South Wales in Australia. It's informative and shows several kinds of rip currents, which basically look like nothing if you don't know about them, and also looks like the safest, calmest place in the water. But as this guy says, it takes only a minute to drown, and they can come in and out quickly.

"That's a common thing about these flash rips, is that they can suddenly occur where a large number of waves are breaking, and it pushes the rip out, and then it disappears."

And also read up and see pictures from the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program. "...The inherent variability of rip currents makes them especially dangerous to unwary or uninformed beachgoers."

That'd be me, folks, unwary and uninformed.

So anyway, you're welcome, you guys, I didn't drown. Send your checks/deep gratitude/anger to Rehoboth Beach Patrol.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weiner of the Mid-West

I went to Chicago a few weeks ago...

And my hotel was right beside Gino's Pizza, where there was always a line of tourists waiting outside in the crippling heat.

I hate crippling heat and Chicago style pizza. If you hate Chicago style pizza too (ie, it sits in your stomach like a wet mitten and never digests), then go to Osteria Via Stato instead (which is just a few blocks away) and get the caprese salad and sausage pizza. Both are amazing.

I thought I made pretty good caprese salad. Turns out, no. My caprese salad sucks compared to the oven roasted tomato sweetness of this caprese.

While I was there I visited the Sears Tower the Willis Tower, as in, 'Whatch-you talkin' 'bout, Willis.'

If you're going to rename a tower (or anything really) I'm in favor of naming it after a sitcom character. I mean, I always knew Mr. Drummond had a lot of money, but wow... a whole tower! And it sure beats calling it the Papa Johns Pizza Tower, or whatever.

I also saw someone triathlon training a body floating in the lake.

And a tiger.

But my favorite part of the trip was seeing my old college pal Sandy...

Who had me meet her at a biker bar...

Where she had a plate of deep fried bacon waiting for me...

This is one of the many reasons we've been friends for 15 years, she just gets me, you know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This Is WAR

Today, between 1000 and 1100 hours Eastern Time, a malicious, unprovoked attack was launched against my banana. With my own grippy pencil.*

What kind of jerkface exacts this kind of hate crime on someone's snack? Who hates healthy snacks, anyway?

A total jerkface, that's who.

Diagrams, motivation & intent flow charts, fingerprint kits, crime scene tape, little banana sized chalk outlines - no expense will be spared in my investigation.

This act of aggression will not stand, man.

*Rachel said whoever the elementary school jackass is who has the grippy pencil is the perpetrator, forcing me to reveal that I am the elementary school jackass with the grippy pencil. (what?)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Weak Will Be Force-Fed Anti-Depressants (The Rest of You Will Be Made to Drive Yourself to the ER)

Speaking of my parents not calling when they are sick or something is happening... Ray and Susie made a quick stop through the 'Nati last night and as we were dipping our saratoga chips into barbecue sauce, my mom scolded my dad for not calling her when he went to the emergency room last month.

Really, I thought. This is rich.

"Gina, he went to the doctor at 8 am, and I sat and waited all day to find out what happened," she threw him a stern glance. "By the afternoon I thought he must have gone to his sister's. I had no idea he was in the emergency room. He didn't even call to tell me. You should have called," she finished, giving my dad another disgusted look.

She finally called his doctor's office at 4, and they told her he went to the emergency room.

"I had no idea," my mom said.

Meanwhile, my dad's excuse to this was that he doesn't have a cell phone. "How was I supposed to call," he kept innocently asking, as if landlines and cell phones are rare things that no one has. Then to deflect responsibility from himself he'd add, "And I had to drive myself to the emergency room!"

I scolded my dad for not calling her when he went to the ER. Very inconsiderate, I said.

And then it was my turn... I asked my mom to please explain to me how she can be upset with him for not calling her, but how it was a-ok that she not call me for two days when he was in the hospital.

"Yeah, Susie, justify that!" my dad goaded, eager to get the heat off of him.

Sometimes I feel like the child of Lucy and Desi, with all these simple, ordinary tasks turned into situational comedy. Apparently none of us can pick up a phone. But bet your life that if Ray or Susie needed something from Amazon they'd call me 40 times to make sure I ordered it.

My mom, who is often as filterless as my dad (shockingly), also told me this hilarious little gem.

My parents' neighbor came over blinking back tears when she heard my dad had driven himself to the emergency room, and presumably because he was sick in the hospital.

So my mom told her, "Honey, I think you need some anti-depressants."

I stopped eating my sweet potato and covered my mouth with my hand. Ray (my boyfriend, not my dad) and I looked at each other. Oh my god, mom... did you really say that to that woman?!

"I did. I probably shouldn't have," she said, recounting the story while hilariously pretending to blink back tears. "But something is wrong. Normal people don't cry just because someone has to drive themselves to the emergency room."

Horribly, I laughed until tears fell out of my own eyes. My mom is actually very sweet spirited, but man she can be too honest for her own good.

Then my dad announced, for the twentieth time, "And I had to drive my own self to the emergency room! And I almost died on the way, twice!"

Pack your bags, everyone. We're going on a guilt trip with the Daugherty's.