Friday, October 30, 2009

everything's bigger in texas

so i'm back from a two-day conference trip i had in dallas, home of the dallas cowboy cheerleaders and some of the biggest texas cowboys (not the football team) who give our state the reputation it has.  the conference was held at this huge conference center and resort in one of the suburbs just outside of dallas' city limits.  i had never been and this place was crazy:

it was seriously it's own amish-like compound that you never had to leave; the only difference was it had electricity and lots of alcohol.  it is the alcatraz of hotels, no joke.  it has over 1,700 rooms, three large restaurants, a bar, three smaller cafes, three gyms, jogging trails, a replication of the alamo in the middle of the freakin' place, a huge day spa and salon, about ten clothing, jewelry, and trinket shops, AND a night club... ridiculous, i know.  in case you haven't heard, that's how we do it in texas - BIG.  oh, and during christmas, they apparantly have ice skating rinks and shows.  you could survive on the compound and never have to leave, which is the idea i guess.

anyways, the conference goes through saturday night, but my boss and i just had to attend some committee meetings.  even though dallas is only a four hour drive from houston, we flew.  the flights to and from each city are 45 minutes to an hour tops.  last night, our flight from dallas into torrential storm houston was over two hours and full of nauseating turbulence as we flew all over the state of texas to get around the storm cell.  always comforting when your pilot comes on after you've taken off to tell you: umm, got some bad news, folks.  we're in for one helluva ride this evening.  it's too dangerous to take a direct route to houston, and air traffic control isn't even allowing it so we're being diverted which will double our flight time.  the fasten seatbelt sign will stay on the duration of the flight.  flight attendants will need to stay seated, as well.  you know it's gonna be good when they tell the flight attendants to buckle up, too.  needless to say, i already hate flying after a terrible experience on a flight home from switzerland over the atlantic ocean.  i was ready to be on the ground and so was the rest of the plane as we erupted into cheers when we finally landed.  glad to be home wearing my rainboots at the office again!  happy friday!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the (un)domesticated goddess

alright, so remember how i was on this whole "i-need-to-learn-how-to-cook-in-order-to-one-day-raise-a-good-healthy-and-stable-family" kick?  and how i made this organic banana oat bread that actually didn't turn out half bad?

well, last night i decided i needed to take another stab at this whole cooking thing.  quasi-bf (who is still hungover and feeling crappy from his weekend of reliving the glory days with his high school football buddies - don't even ask how old he is now) texts me and asks what i want to do for dinner - should we go out to dinner or should he pick up food on the way over.  notice there were only two options, not a third of oh, maybe you should cook a delicious homecooked meal!  so because he doesn't give a third option, i call him:

 "hey, how about i just cook for us tonight?"

(pause) "really?"

"what do you mean 'really??'  YES, really.  i'm going to cook.  i have some chicken tenderloins marinating, some asparagus, butternut squash, and i can cook brown rice.  oh, and i still have that loaf of rosemary olive oil bread we got the other day.  AND i made your favorite kind of brownies last night."

"oh, okay... well, do you want me to pick up anything else for dinner from the store on my way over?"

"umm, no... what else would you get?  didn't my menu sound like a full meal??"

(nervous laugh)  "well, yeah, i mean, i was just making sure..."

he's obviously nervous, people.  whatever, i'll show him.  we hang up and i morph into betty crocker/rachel ray/martha stewart/emeril/(insert good cook here).  let me start by saying i have a really shitty knife set.  the set is old and the knives aren't sharp.  this never used to be a problem because i never used to cook, you see.  so i put the brown rice on the stove and the chicken goes in the oven because those two will take the longest.  (i still haven't gotten the whole timing thing down.  my food seems to all be done at different times and quite frankly, it's pissing me off, so i planned ahead and tried to do a better job of it this time.) 

next was the butternut squash.  now if you don't know what a butternut squash looks like, it's basically like a pumpkin, with a stem and everything.  here's a pic for you visual people out there.  there was a sticker on the side telling me i was supposed to cut this bad boy in half, dig out the seeds, and bake face down for 45 minutes.  easy enough, right??  WRONG.  i got the largest knife i had and started trying to cut into the thing.  after about 5 minutes of carefully sawing with the dull, crappy knife and starting to sweat, i realize i needed to try a different approach.  so i get smart and decide to stab it and try to cut my way down through the rest of it.  it wasn't budging, so i push harder until i stab myself in the hand.  and by stab, i really mean small puncture wound with lots of blood.  fortunately i have a butterfly strip to close up the wound and wrap my hand in guaze like a boxer.  you see, people, i'm dedicated and am not giving up, stab wound and all i press forward.  i pry the butternut squash apart, throw in face down, and put it in the oven.

the only thing that turned out good in this meal was the asparagus (because all i did was steam them), the rice (how hard is it to cook rice??), the bread (because i didn't make it), and the brownies (because i seriously AM betty crocker).  i burned the chicken so it was crispy and dry, and i just left the butternut squash in the oven to roast because i was still so damn mad.

needless to say, i am still not the domestic goddess i hoped to be by now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

quick weekend recap

friday:  had a dinner & a movie date with an old college friend.  it was awesome catching up and we realized how much we had missed each other and needed to get together more often.  because we're both obsessed with gerard butler, we went and saw his new movie law abiding citizen.  here's the deal (semi-spoiler alert)... while i heart me some gerard, his role in the film kinda freaked me out, to be honest.  i'm into good psycho-thriller movies to some extent (if they're not too scary or messed up), but not when the psycho is my heart throb.

i don't know how you couldn't love this guy

saturday: i did some much needed cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, errands, caught up on some work, etc. and watched college football all day and about five episodes of say yes to the dress on my fave TLC.  i was able to run some much-needed errands that i kept putting off, and i also bought out half the women's nike section at academy.  cute new workout clothes are always a good motivation.  spent saturday evening and night with the family and went to my little brother's high school football game with my mom.  just in case you haven't heard, high school football's kind of a big deal in texas.  (see friday night lights or varsity blues and you'll get the idea.)

sunday:  i baked (from scratch) some organic banana oat bread!!!!!!  remember how i don't cook??  well, this bread turned out amazing.  it took forever and i made an awful mess, but it was a success.  had a late night soccer game, which we won, but i was eaten alive by mosquitos (another spawn of satan creature).  finally saw the quasi-bf after he had a reunion weekend with all his buddies.  he apparantly can't drink like he used to.  i think that's what happens when you get old.

here's the recipe for the banana oat bread.  i made mine with all organic ingredients and whole grain flour.

• 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
• 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon(s) salt
• 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
• 1 cup(s) quick-cooking oats
• 1/2 cup(s) brown sugar
• 1/2 cup(s) butter or margarine
• 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
• 1/4 cup(s) milk
• 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs

crumb topping:
• 3 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoon(s) quick-cooking oats
• 3 tablespoon(s) brown sugar
• 3 tablespoon(s) margarine or butter

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. grease a 9" by 5" loaf pan.
2. in large bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, salt, 2 cups flour, 1 cup oats, and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar until blended. with pastry blender or two knives used scissor-fashion, cut in 1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. stir in mashed bananas, milk, vanilla extract, and eggs just until flour is moistened. spoon batter into pan.
3. prepare crumb topping: in small bowl, with fork, mix 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons oats, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons margarine or butter until blended. sprinkle crumb topping evenly over batter.
4. bake bread 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

smart and always classy

wearing rain boots to avoid ruining my slacks in a torrential downpour on the way to work = smart.

forgetting to put my heels in my purse so i'm stuck wearing said rainboots with a suit = well, that's what you call classy, my friends.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

don't do drugs

so i know it's been a couple of days since i hit the blogosphere, but i have some good excuses for my brief hiatus:

monday:  my association hosted a political luncheon with our texas governor rick perry as guest speaker and a slew of elected officials from around the city, county, state, and nation.  it was a good turnout and the event ran smoothly.  even my bff sheila jackson lee made it with her entire entourage in tow.  if you don't know sjl, you need to read up on her.  fellow houstonians and texans, you know what i'm talking about.  i rushed back to the office for a meeting, then to the dentist to get my teefies cleaned.  if they had star charts at the dentist's office i would be leading, my dentist told me.  always a winner.

tuesday:  here's the funnest day of my week so far - started off with a three hour allergist appointment full of lots of fun testing and needle pokes.  needless to say, i reacted to most everything, so they took six viles of blood to be sent off for more accurate results.  i'm anemic and had only eaten a banana for breakfast so i was about ready to pass out after they sucked the blood from me.  (had it been edward cullen taking my blood, i would have happily obliged.  yes, folks i said it.)  my parents live near my office, so i had gone to ride with my mom to the appointment.  we're leaving the hospital and my mom's telling me i need to get food and then she says: oh sh*t, this guy's gonna hit us!  i'm confused and don't see anything out of my passenger side view mirror so i turn to look over the other side.  sure enough, a guy in a truck (it is texas, you know) is coming over and isn't stopping and slams into us.  long story short, the guy doesn't stop, instead he continues driving slowly swerving across all lanes of the highway.  my mom's fight or flight response kicks in - she's a fight person and is ready to beat some ass.  i'm not so brave.  she starts chasing the guy as i call 911.  we find a county sheriff and honk and flash our lights so he knows what's going on.  once we pass him and he obviously sees our effed up car, he starts in on the chase, too.  meanwhile, guy who hit us runs another car off the road.  another sheriff's vehicle and a wrecker see this and come to cut the guy off.  after 5-10 miles of chase, they stop the guy, throw him to the ground, handcuff him, and toss him in the cop car.  it was all quite dramatic and i felt like we were on an episode of cops.  five sheriff's vehicles come to our rescue and let us know an ambulance is coming.  my mom has pre-existing neck and back injuries from previous car accidents, so we were neck braced and loaded and strapped down to boards with rope and duct tape.  classy, huh?  the arresting officer came into the ambulance before we leave to let us know the guy who hit us was high on prescription drugs so he got a DUI, evading law enforcement/resisting arrest, and child endangerment (he had a 2-year old and a 4-year old in the car, both were in carseats so they were okay).  i stayed tied up, immobile on that damn board for about three hours still feeling faint, needing food, and having to pee.  we're finally let out of the hospital four hours after getting there.

wednesday:  i'm back in the office today.  my neck, back, and head are killing me.  i am still wanting the blood the doctors stole from me yesterday back, and my arms are still full of allergy testing pricks.

needless to say, i've had an exciting two days.

moral of the story: DON'T DO DRUGS.

Friday, October 16, 2009

friday story time vol. 3: the karate kid

my boss' office and my office face one another.  for whatever reason, he has recently decided to sport a karate kid-style headband made out of the texas flag late in the afternoon. 

yesterday afternoon, he needed to clean up his always-messy desk, so he asked if i minded if he plugged in his ipod and turned on some music while he did some necessary housekeeping; he didn't want to close his door because our office's a/c has been finicky.  (yes, you read that right, i said "A/C."  it's the middle of october and 90 freakin' degrees outside.  God bless texas.)  anyways, if the texas flag karate kid headband wasn't enough, he's blaring the pussycat dolls "don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me" just when our 50-something year old admin assistant walks in.  the shocking part was that she seemed un-phased by the whole scene.  next up on the boss' playlist was "all the single ladies"...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

do i really need to learn how to cook?

so i've been thinking i need to somehow fulfill one of the many gender stereotypes associated with being female: i need to learn how to cook.  and while i'm definitely not one for stereotypes, a recent inventory of my pantry and refrigerator and an overall inventory of what my daily meals consist of led me to this conclusion of needing to learn how to cook.  maybe i can cook, i just don't.  i mean, i can make your basics like spaghetti, eggs, grilled cheese, mac & cheese, sauteed/steamed veggies.  although, i do have to admit, i think i gave myself minor food poisoning once for not cooking ground turkey long enough; may have just been a coincidence, who knows.  let me give you an example of what i eat in a typical day: central market organic flaxseed waffles, kashi cereal, chai tea luna bars, whatever is brought into the office during lunch, so usually deli sandwiches and chips or whatever tickles the quasi-bf's fancy, so usually  restaurant close by, chocolate chip chewy granola bars, and for dinner, one of the following restaurants: freebird's (burritos), russo's (pizza), escalante's (mexican), cafe express (turkey burger and sweet potato fries), or rajin' cajun (red beans and rice).  my point is: I.DON'T.COOK.  i live alone so i've never really had a need to learn, plus my mom hated (and still does) to cook so i never had a passion for cooking instilled in me.

i can bake, and by "i can bake" i really mean i can turn on the oven to 350 degrees and carefully place break-and-bake cookies in a straight line onto a cookie sheet.  and, voila! in approximately 9 minutes you have freshly-baked cookies!  (please don't shamefully shake your head in disdain, i'm just being honest here, and my cookies still end up pretty damn good.)  clearly, i'm no betty crocker and i'm certainly no ace of cakes, though that's not really my goal.  quite frankly, when it comes to cooking, there's nothing "domestic" about me.  i'm worried i'm going to make a bad wife and mother one day. 

in order to overcome this, i have recently begun perusing various cooking blogs and cooking websites.  (seriously, on virtually all of the blogs i read, the women cook.  wtf?  i guess i'm not a "good" woman.)  i'm wanting to make a "binder" cookbook and i figured i better start off simple and easy, so i checked out the food network's "quick and easy" section and this is what it gave me:

seriously, you've got to be kidding me?!  a big pile of sausage and onions.  really?  that's the food network's idea of a good "quick and easy" dinner.  that looks disgusting and would give anyone problems in the bathroom for days.

clearly, the food network is not all it's cracked up to be so i googled "easy chicken dishes" and eventually came up with this little number... chicken scallopine over broccoli rabe.  i only understand three out of those five words (chicken, over, and broccoli) so we'll see how this turns out.  it was apparantly under "15-minute chicken dishes."  (we'll see...)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
1/2 cup dry white wine (or not)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon butter
1 pound broccoli rabe (rapini), cut into 3-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
4 lemon slices (optional)

- heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- combine breadcrumbs and pepper in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture. add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. remove from pan; keep warm.
- add wine (hell no), broth, juice, and butter to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. stir in broccoli rabe; cover and cook 3 minutes or until broccoli rabe is tender. stir in parsley and capers. serve chicken over broccoli rabe mixture. garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

i'm allergic to wine (i know, blasphemous. but seriously the stuff will kill me.) so i had to tweak the recipe just a bit.  i'll let you know how it turns out and if i'm a domestic failure.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a halloween costume don't

i don't have any kids of my own (yet), but i can guarantee when i do, my baby will not be dressed up as a whoopie cushion for halloween...
...i may, however, consider something like this little number:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

just one more reason why i hate going to the grocery store

there's something you should know about me: i hate going to the grocery store.  (not as much as i hate cockroaches, but close.)  it's weird because i absolutely love food and i love having a stocked pantry and refrigerator - i just despise the whole act of going to the grocery store.  i don't know where this whole "i hate going to the grocery store" thing stems from.  i think it's due in part to a myriad of factors.  to name a few reasons: i work, so i seem to only be able to go to the grocery store when every other working person in my city of over 2.2 million can go to the grocery store which means i'm in for a crowded shopping experience; i don't like touching or pushing grocery carts; it's always cold; people inevitably stand in front of me when i'm looking for my favorite, but often obscure, box of organic wheat squares as if i wasn't standing there; and i usually forget my grocery list.  most of those things aren't so bad, you might be thinking.  well here's the one thing that takes the cake.  the one thing that makes me literally want to start a UFC fight in the middle of the store...

10 items or less lanes

this is something i seriously don't get, and quite frankly i've had it with.  when you get into a line that says "10 items or less," it should mean just that.  not 12, not 14, and certainly not 22!!!!  i don't know if God is trying to teach me patience or what, but i have managed to get behind some idiot with well over their 10 item limit twice in the past freaking week!  the first time, i just silently b*itched about it to my mom, my three closest friends on speed dial, and facebook.  okay, maybe that's not so silent, but my point is that i didn't cause a scene in the middle of the store while holding my one single cantaloupe.  then, it happened again yesterday evening.  i went to the grocery store intending to do some serious shopping.  i was on the phone with julie over at life on a hanger when i decided, forget it, i'm not going to do some serious grocery shopping.  so instead, i went over to the frozen food section, grabbed two boxes of my beloved central market flaxseed organic frozen waffles (my dinner) and set out to the - you guessed it - 10 items or less lane.  when i get there, what to i find??  a lady with not 10, not 11, not even 12, but 22 items on the conveyor belt.  you've got to be kidding me!  so what do i do?  i stand there glaring at her, looking at the "10 items or less" sign illuminated above, and sigh (loudly).  she doesn't catch on.  i gave up.  next time i'll employ the help of sarah at a life more exciting to give her the infamous stink-eye!

so please, i'm begging you, if you choose to get into the 10 items or less lane, make sure you have 10 items or less!

Monday, October 12, 2009

reasons to love TLC programming

my family, many of my friends, and the quasi-bf all think i'm weird for loving freakishly bizarre medical and science shows.  (i'm telling you people i should have gone into the medical field.  problem was that the sciences weren't really my thing.)  seriously though, with shows like the following, how could you not love TLC programming?!

- human spiders (people with extra limbs or parasitic twins attached to their bodies.  cool, right?)

- the woman with the giant legs (self explanatory.  the woman has giant legs.)

- i didn't know i was pregnant (women who unexpectedly go into labor without ever knowing they were even preggers.  you might be asking: "how did they not know they were preganant?!!"  to which i respond: "i don't have a freakin' clue?  seems like you'd notice those things, but watch the show and find out.")

- little people, big world (dwarf couple with a family of four kids.  super cute.)

- untold stories of the ER (people go into the ER with crazy things.  one example: lady fell asleep; june bug crawled in her ear; ENT doc had to remove it before it burrowed into her ear drum.)

- extreme forensics (self-explanatory.)

- mystery diagnosis (one of my faves.  people with bizarre, seemingly unrelated symptoms which many doctors have failed to diagnose.  some of these people live years with their ailment/disease until one day they find the right doctor to tell them what the heck is wrong with them.  i watch this show often to see if my little sister's symptoms match any case shown on the show.)

- mermaid girl (another fave.  almost-10 year old shiloh is the only known living "mermaid."  she was born with her legs fused together, thus looking like a mermaid!  amazing, right?!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

friday story time, vol. 2: not so classy first impressions

i pride myself on the fact that i am a pretty good people person and fairly adept at feeling out a crowd and behaving accordingly; in short, i can strike up and maintain a conversation with just about anyone.  this was a skill i honed at a young age when my mom was a young, working, single mother and would take me to after-hours business dinners and events.  (she refused to leave me with a babysitter.)  i learned when it was appropriate to talk and, most importantly, not to talk.  fast forward to yesterday evening - yesterday evening, i apparantly failed at my once artful craft.  here's the way it went down...

who/what: a local political candidate (who has the strong backing and support of my association) hosting a mix & mingle political reception for "young professionals"
where: trendy mexican food restaurant in the city
when: too recent for me to be over yesterday

let me preface by saying my work day started out really, really early.  i had a 7:00 a.m. business breakfast at the junior league, sped back to the office to prepare for two back to back presentations, got ready for a 4 o'clock board of directors meeting, then headed out to attend political fundraisers and reception events.  knowing that i would have such a busy day and be meeting with many electeds and members, i wore my amazing classy new ann taylor dress and a pair of cute, albeit uncomfortable, pumps.

by the time the board meeting ended, i was spent.  i had been running around all day interacting with all kinds of people, and i was starting to feel a little off my game.  i went to my desk to have a brief moment of quiet and quickly respond to a few emails before leaving for the receptions. 

when i arrived, exhaustion begins to set in.  the hostess points me up the stairs into the private banquet room where the reception was being held.  i begin walking up the extremely uneven terra cotta tiled steps holding onto my giant handbag and the rail handle all the way.  when i enter the room, there were already many others and i notice some familiar faces.  good, i think, sometimes these events can get a little awkward.  i seek out some of my government affairs counterparts in related industries.  we all make small talk, and some people branch off into smaller groups.  i tell one of my counterparts, andy, how tired i am and how i'm struggling to maintain a level of interesting conversation.  (i know him well, so it's okay to say this.)  andy laughs and says he understands.  i figured i didn't want to stick around too much longer, so i decided to seek out the candidate to say hello, ask him how the campaign was going, and if there was anything my company could do for him.  let me remind you, this is an event the candidate was hosting for "young professionals;" he appears to be in his late 60s/early 70s but is a very sharp, intelligent man and recognizes the need to garner young voter support.  i found him wrapping up a conversation with someone else.  perfect timing!  we shake hands and re-introduce ourselves.  we talk about some of the main issues he's focusing on and looking to tackly if elected.  i agree and note that he's doing great.  there is a slight moment of awkward silence and we both look around the room.  i notice that the room is fairly full now and the people filling the room are by no means "young."  i mean they're not old, but they're not young guns; they've been around the block a time or two, alright? 

the silence carried on for a few seconds too long, so i said blurted: wow, not too many spring chickens here this evening, eh?  followed by a nudge and me attempting to wink.  (seriously, did i just do that?!  meredith, get it together!)

to which he responded: um, i'm sorry, what? 

me: oh, um, i just mean this is a reception hosted by you for YOUNG professionals, right?  like spring chickens?  i just didn't notice many YOUNG people here.  i mean i'm young, and i'm a professional, and i'm here... and you're... errrrrr... a professional, too... (my face turns red.)

him: oh.  well, i do have a lot of supporters and i'm really proud of that...

me: oh, i know!  i'm sorry, i just meant this is a young professional event, and everyone's... well, everyone here supports you, i mean.  yay!  i think it's so great, you're going to be great, this venue is great! 

him: yeah... thanks... i better go.  i think some "young" people just arrived... (he walks off)

crap.  really, meredith?  you had to say that?  you had to act like a total idiot.  it was obviously time for me, my new dress, and giant handbag to leave.

feeling pretty crappy about the whole thing, i figured it best that i quietly slip out of the reception.  no need to make a fool of myself in front of anyone else. 

remember the uneven steps i told you about?  well, here's where they come in.  the staircase is kind of a focal point; it overlooks the entire main restaurant so everyone can see the person walking up or down the stairs.  proud of my very "young professional-esque" outfit, i strut myself down the stairs like i was walking down a freaking catwalk.  let me tell you, i worked it.  worked it until i got about four steps from the bottom, and that's when i came crashing down.  everyone turned and stared at me with wide eyes and dropped jaws.  i jumped up, straightened out my dress, and ran limped out the door.  yesterday evening showed me that i'm clearly not as suave as i think i am.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

a bulldog's halloween

meet riley.  a 15-month, 78-pound old english bulldog.

unbeknownst to quasi-bf, she will be wearing one of two outfits on halloween this year:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

my beloved biggest loser

about a year ago i discovered the one reality show that could actually bring me to tears: the biggest loser.  don't judge me just yet - i have friends who cry during grey's, a show made up of actors.  the biggest loser is real, hence the term "reality show." (duh.)  anyways, these are real people (really overweight people) with real stories.  and by really overweight, i mean extremely obese; these people need help.  each contestant has their own story and each contestant used overeating and food as a coping mechanism.  i don't think you have to currently be overweight or have ever been overweight to like this show.  it doesn't matter if you're short/tall, fat/skinny, black/white, or somewhere in between: we all have ways of dealing with the issues that come with life.  for some (and in the case of those on the biggest loser) it's food and overeating; for others it's not eating; more others it's excessive drinking; etc.  you get the idea, the list goes on.  these people come to the show really wanting to change their lives: they want to change for their families, their friends, and for themself.  i mean look at the results from last season's biggest loser winner, helen:

i mean seriously, how can you not love that transformation.  my love for the show runs deep.  for instance, last year when the biggest loser had a casting call in my city, i wanted to go.  i mean, i actually wanted to BE ON the show.  (at this point my friends are rolling their eyes and/or laughing.)  since you can't see me, let me give you a little insight, i'm about 5'4 and 112 pounds at my heaviest.  i swear there is an inner fat girl inside of me - i love food, particularly the worst kinds of food for you, so i can relate to having a love affair with good food.  but i obviously couldn't try out for the show without getting stoned.  since plan a didn't work, i came up with a plan b: oooh, maybe i'll just make signs and posters displaying my love of the show and my support for these people really wanting to change their lives.  my friends convinced me that unless i was trying out to be a physical trainer, i shouldn't go.  i reluctantly agreed.

most tuesday evenings, i get home just before seven too exhausted and hungry to go to the gym and workout; plus, the biggest loser is about to come on!  lame excuse, i know.  so my normal tuesday evening consists of me laying on the couch eating organic chocolate chip cookie dough (because i'm too lazy and too hungry to actually bake the cookies).  doesn't sound too supportive of my fave fat-people-trying-to-make-their-lives-healthy, does it?  so last night, i decided to be active in my love for the show 'cause actions speak louder than words, right?*  i got out of meetings early and seized the opportunity.  i went to a 45-minute aerobics step class then did a quick 20-minute run to make it home in time for the show.  i even had a healthy dinner and settled in on the couch to tune in.

there is something really rewarding about changing for good and being transformed.  tune in next tuesday night!  nbc 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. (central standard time)


*something i'm constantly telling the quasi-bf!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

welcome to "fall"

there's something wrong when i live in a city where the heat index could reach 109 degrees on october freakin' 6th!!!!

21st century: fueling germaphobia & hypochondria

i am already a self-admitted germaphobe.  i have found there are many others like me out there.  with all the public hand sanitizers and clorox/lysol wipes supplied in grocery stores, it's no wonder why germaphobe addictions continue to be fed.

apparantly the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  so here it is, here i am taking the first step, here i am admitting i have a problem: i am a hypochondriac.
 i have reached this self-diagnosis from a myriad of experiences.  sometimes when i get a really bad headache or migraine, i'm convinced that it could only be one of three things: 1. at any moment i'm going to have a brain aneurism, 2. i have had a tumor that has been undetected for months, or 3. my brain is swelling rapidly and without quick action, i will surely die.  these headaches are typically accompanied with a quick phone call or text to my mom, and the conversations always take on the same kind of structure:

me: mom, i have a really bad headache.  i think there's something wrong with me.

mom: i agree.  there is something wrong with you.

me: no, really, i'm serious.  i think there is something physically wrong with my head.

mom: yeah, i know.  i'm serious, too.  i think there's something wrong in your head, too.

(she clearly does not understand the severity of the situation; i could die at any moment.)

when i feel even the slightest bit warm, i take my temperature.  when i have a sore throat, i inspect my tonsils with a flashlight for redness or infection.  when i have a really severe stomach ache, i make sure it's not on the side where my appendix is (because it could have ruptured, you know).

i think i've always had the tendencies necessary to become a hypochondriac, but it has most certainly been fueled thanks to web md, discovery health channel programming, and my favorite, house

i mean seriously, just now when i went to discovery health channel's website, the first thing that came up was this photo and caption:
what IS that skin lesion?  is it a simple spot or something DANGEROUS? and i think to myself, "well, sh*t, i don't know.  i thought it was just a paper cut, but now i can't really be certain!"

please let me know i'm not alone in my affliction.  isn't the best way to overcome a problem in a group??  okay, i'm going to drink some oj; someone in my office is coughing today and you can never have too much vitamin c to boost your immune system...


Monday, October 5, 2009

marvelous monday mantra

maybe this is just me, but i find myself tossing and turning every sunday night.  maybe it's because i know in a mere seven hours (yes, i need at least seven hours of beauty sleep or i am a grouchy monster all day), i will wake up and it will be distainable monday morning and the start of another long work week.  i tell myself every sunday evening that i need to come up with a new pre-monday attitude.  so when i woke up this monday morning...

6:43 a.m. - i pray and promise myself and God to attempt to change my attitude...

8:03 a.m. - so far, this new attitude change seems to be working out.  my hair may not look great, but i don't feel like i'm falling asleep on my commute to work and my eyeliner hasn't smeared yet.  all and all a good first hour to the day.  then, when i walk into our weekly monday morning "team" status meetings, what do i find??  it's a birthday celebration and we have breakfast tacos!!!  delicious homemade breakfast tacos!  wow, this whole attitude thing really is working out for me! 

mmm, breakfast!

11:34 a.m. - to my pleasant surprise, the morning goes by much more quickly than usual.  a little before lunch i get a text message: "are you busy today?  i'd like to bring you lunch."  more food?!  yes, please!  wow, this whole attitude adjustment is really working wonders!  not only do i have lunch hand-delivered to my office, but these pretties came with it...!!!

my monday pretties!*

as a result of having a surprisingly good first day of the work week, i have a new monday mantra: "if you don't like something, change it.  if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."


*please see my white-out.  i love white-out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

friday story time, vol. 1: the cockroach

there is something you should know about me: i HATE cockroaches.  i hate everything about them.  their color, their creepily long attennae, their disgusting legs, the fact that many of them can fly, and the fact that they can pretty much survive through just about anything confirms that they are the spawn of satan.  they are evil, disgusting, deplorable creatures to be feared.  you heard me, FEARED.  i don't know when, how, or why my fear of these demons got so out of control.  fear typically comes about as the result of our experiences or may often be a learned behavior.  growing up, my mom was never particularly afraid of bugs.  i mean, she didn't like them, but she knew how to use a can of raid.  perhaps it's been the culmination of my experiences with cockroaches that solidified my terror.  one particular and very recent experience comes to mind and i feel compelled to share.

remember in my october 1st post how i mentioned i'm often driving around a lot to meetings, events, etc.  well, this particular day i attended an event we were hosting about an hour outside of houston.  (you will see later why this tidbit of information about the time spent in my car is important.)  so i make it to the event, meet with the area's united states house of representatives' congressman and other local stakeholders, and stay for part of the luncheon.  i have another meeting downtown i have to make, so i quietly excuse myself.  i get on interstate-45 and begin the 32 mile drive into downtown houston.  in my passenger seat, i have my giant handbag large enough to carry the amount of rice needed to feed a small country for a week, a water bottle, and my laptop case.  (i keep my car clean* and i don't leave crap in it, albeit the two tennis rackets in the trunk.)  so i'm driving along the five-lane highway of i-45 listening to pete yorn's "crystal villages" and dodging houston traffic when all of a sudden i see a dark object slide (or crawl) across my passenger side floorboard.  my immediate reaction: "oh sh*t!  that had to have been a cockroach!"  my heart starts racing and my palms become clammy.  i turn pete yorn down (as if turning down the music will make it better), take a deep breath, briefly close my eyes (i am still driving, you know), and think through my options.  "okay, meredith, you didn't actually see what it was on the floorboard.  it could have been a penny.  pennies are brown, right?  hmm, no it was definitely bigger than a penny..."  bravely, i peer down over my passenger side floorboard... NOTHING!  i see nothing!  success!  "whew," i think, "that could have been really bad."  just when my heart beat starts to return to normal and i ease back into my driver's seat, i see it dart across the floorboard!!!  it IS a cockroach!  a giant, disgusting, creepy crawly spawn of satan!!!  i swerve into the lane to my right, barely missing an oncoming ford F-350 diesel truck.**  the guy behind me flips me off and i see him mouth a word that rhymes with "ditch."  i don't care.  i have a creature in my car from the paleozoic era and i have no idea how it got there!!  my fight or flight response kicks in: i am definitely a flight kind of person.  at this point i am halfway standing up in my driver's seat, scared to touch anything in my car.  i would have opened my car door and duck and rolled out onto the freeway if i could have ensured that i would have lived.  i saw an approaching exit, and quickly veer over three lanes of traffic.  at this point, i look around at my surroundings and realize i am in the absolute worst part of town i could have possibly been in.  i don't care.  i have to get to a gas station or something!  i have to get out of this car.  i fly into what i think is a gas station.  it has one gas pump, no real sign identifying it as a legitimate fuel station, and a taco truck.  i'm jumping out of the car as i'm putting it in park.  i'm shaking and in a cold sweat.  i look around me and realize i am surrounded by non-english speaking construction and maintenance workers eating tacos.  let's just say i stuck out like a sore thumb in my three-inch heels, black pin-striped business suit, and pearl necklace.  i call my mom because she always seems to know what to do.

me: "mom!  you're not going to believe what just happened to me!"

mom: (pause) "what?"

me: "well, i'm driving along 45 trying to make it to this meeting i have downtown when i see a massive cockroach crawl across my floorboard!  i had to get out of my car.  i almost died, but i'm at a gas station or something now.  and there's a taco truck.  the cockroach is still in my car, i'm standing outside, and about a dozen mexican men are staring at me."

mom: "meredith, get in your car now.  do you hear me?  you're going to get raped.  drive somewhere safer."

me: "MOM!!!!  i don't think you heard me: THERE.IS.A.COCKROACH.IN.MY.CAR!!!!!!  i am not going anywhere!!!!  can you come get me?"

mom: "no, i cannot come get you!  go somewhere safer!  the cockroach is not going to bother you, but those men might."

me: "no.  they are the least of my worries.  baby satan is in my car!  fine, i'll figure it out.  if i don't call back in 10 minutes, call the police."

i stomp inside to the little gas station and shout to the clerk: "there is a cucharacha in my carro!!  i need bug spray!!"  (as you can see, my spanish isn't any good.  i took french for six years.)  the poor clerk didn't understand me,  (i wonder why?) so i start running down the only two aisles in the tiny station.  aqua net hairpray!  that oughta do the trick!  i pay five bucks for the 25 cent hairspray and run back out to my car.  taking a deep breath, i fling open all my doors, and holding the aqua net like a .45 pistol, i shout, "alright!  where are you, you little satan creature?!?!"  nothing.  there's nothing there.  great.  i'm just going to have to sit and wade this thing out.  i sit on the curb and start to cry.  (yes, i'm feeling sorry for myself.)  i'm in a nice suit, a great pair of heels, my hair actually looked semi-decent that morning, and i'm sitting there crying and sweating in the 90 degree sweltering heat and humidity.  all of a sudden, i see it!  it crawls right out, onto the pavement, and flies off!!!!!  it was gone!!!  wasting no time, i slam all my doors shut, and get back into my car... 

victory washed over me, and it felt good.  i had slayed the dragon that day.  i had an encounter with the devil, and i won.  good always prevails over evil.

 *you'll find i keep most things clean.  germs, messes, and disorder give me panic attacks.
**yes, it's true - everything is bigger in texas.  that goes for trucks, too.  especially trucks.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

uncharted territory

i find myself in uncharted territory: the blogosphere.

now would be a good time to introduce myself; give you the low-down on the person behind the arial font. however, i find introductions overrated, plus, i'm not entirely ready for that. i mean, i don't want to move too fast. i'm sure you all understand. we've all been there: been in relationships where things moved too fast and the relationship ended with you hating the other person. yeah, we've all been there. that being said i'll save my introduction(s) for another day...

it was a surprisingly quiet day at the office. surprising for two reasons: 1. i am never actually in the office. i am typically driving all over my massive city shaking hands and kissing babies. well, i'm not actually shaking hands and kissing babies, i just meet with the elected officials who shake hands and kiss babies. anyways, i digress, my point is that i'm rarely in the office. and 2. when i am in the office, the phone is ringing constantly, or i'm in meetings, or our members are peeking their heads in my office wanting to "chat" and the "chat" typically ends up lasting 45 minutes. i'm thinking people may be out with the pig sniffles. if you haven't heard, it's the latest rage and i'm terrified of contracting a weird, mutated strain and dying from it. you'll find i'm afraid of a lot of things. cockroaches being one of them.

anyways, with my new found time this morning, i decided i should catch up on some housekeeping: some online shopping at banana (they're having a 40% off + 10% off online only sale), schedule a dentist appointment, make a hair and nail appointment, update my email signature line, reorganize my desk, color code my files, refill my purell hand sanitizer, and renew my driver's license online. online renewal is a wonderful thing, and it takes five minutes if you don't dwell on the "do you want to be an organ donor?" question for longer than three of those five minutes. i know the thought of organ donation freaks some people out; i.e. the whole cutting you open and taking your body parts part, but i watch so much bones, house, and discovery health channel, it leaves me relatively unaffected. (i really should have gone to med school.) knowing this question would come up, i contemplated it beforehand so as not to interfere with my five minute timeline. (another thing you'll find out about me is i have timelines. they promote organization, and organization promotes stability and sanity.) so when i get to the question, i quickly check the box. in that very moment, though my organs were still intact, i immediately felt like i had saved a life. triumphant, i decided to text the quasi-bf (i'll introduce him more later) and tell him the good news:

me: "i'm officially an organ donor. i think i was before, but i'm not for certain because it was years ago. anyways, i'm going to save a life one day. that's one lucky person who gets these organs."

quasi-bf: "no one's going to want your organs by the time you go. you're going to be 90."

me: "and you're going to be 106."