A couple of months ago, I went to my favorite nail salon, and the manicurist talked me into trying gel nail polish on my fingers. Mom has been talking it up to me for a long time because it doesn’t chip, so it lasts longer, and it looks nicer, and she’s right on all of those counts. I was going to go bare (just buff up the nails) because I don’t really like color on my nails and clear nail polish chips, and the manicurist said, well, gel doesn’t chip, and it comes in a natural color. Okay – it’s time to try it. First, natural my ass. It was light pink and sparkly. Pretty, but in no way natural. Still, it was pretty and light enough not to bother me much. It dried super quickly (always a plus), and then the lady swiped nail polish remover across the nails and it didn’t come off! I was impressed, and everything was great for about three weeks. My nails were growing, but it wasn’t obvious to anyone but me that my nails weren’t all painted anymore. After that, I was about done with the pink and sparkly and ready to go clear again, so I went back to have the gel polish removed (since I had no idea how to take it off myself).
What Mom neglected to tell me is what a HUGE PAIN it is to have it removed. You can’t just swipe with some special gel polish remover. Oh, no. My nails were wrapped in acetone-soaked cotton and foil for what felt like an hour (and was at least 20 minutes in real time), and then when the manicurist removed the foil and cotton, she still had to chisel away at each nail to get it all off. It took FOREVER. I thought it was never going to be over. And even once the polish was removed, my nails still felt like regular polish was fading and chipping off on its own. Not a nice feeling.
Conclusion? No gelicures for me. No way. Uh uh. Sorry, Mom. Can’t agree with you on this one.
I am now the proud owner of a pair of jazz shoes and a pair of tap shoes because I have signed up for a contemporary jazz class and a tap class (both for beginners because, well, I’m a beginner). I’m very excited. The first class is a week from tomorrow.
While I was out shopping for these shoes, John spent the afternoon upstairs with Riley, who still isn’t allowed on the furniture. The last time we allowed him to sleep on a piece of furniture on a regular basis (a wicker loveseat we kept on the sun porch in our last house almost TEN years ago), he ate it. Chewed it all to bits ATE it. So now, Riley isn’t allowed on the furniture, and he knows it. We know he knows because he never tries to get on the couch or the bed when we’re at home (only when we’re away and he thinks he can get away with it). Usually. He’s getting bolder. Today, with John just across the hall in the office, Riley got on the bed twice. I guess his dog bed with an old cushy comforter on it isn’t soft enough anymore. I’ll know he’s made the next logical leap when he tries to get on the bed while we’re still in it.
Did you know goats are evil? It’s their eyes. Their eyes give them away.
All of that adorable playing and attention-hogging is just a ruse. What adorable playing? This adorable playing! (Please bear with me through this 2-minute video. They really do do some cute things.)
Clearly, I met some goats last weekend. And fed them and played with them and picked a favorite. (Baxter, the brown one, is my favorite. Dad’s favorite is Bruiser (black with blue eyes). Trixie wasn’t all that interested in us.)
Baxter: “Whatcha doin’?” Or possibly, “My plan to take over the world begins with you. Look into my eyes so I can take over your brain.”
Despite my recent enthusiasm for shopping, Black Friday is still something I avoid. Like the plague. I have absolutely no interest in dealing with crowds of shoppers, and I think the day after Thanksgiving should be a national day of rest. I did go to one store. One superstore. One store I have no need to ever visit again. Cabela’s. It’s a hunting/camping/fishing kind of store. Like Bass Pro Shop, but with more taxidermied bears. (I assume. I’ve never been in a Bass Pro Shop, but it sounds more civilized.) SO totally not my kind of store. We tagged along with Emily and her boyfriend (who fishes) because, I guess, family time? It was…interesting. Aaaannd we came home with two bows. With arrows. Actual bows. Well, junior bows, like toddler’s first bow. Kid bows. And blunt arrows (of course). We set up cardboard boxes as a target in the backyard and pretended we were Robin Hood or Welsh longbowmen. And you know what? It’s kind of hard. And kind of painful. I don’t know if I was holding the darn thing wrong or what, but the string kept recoiling against the inside of my left elbow. Out of 20 or so shots, the string hit me (hard) 3 or 4 times. After the last one, I was about to start taking bets as to how long it would take before a bruise showed up when I rolled up my sleeve and actually looked at my arm. That’s when I ended my illustrious career as an archer. I already had the nastiest bruise I’ve ever seen, and on top of that, there was an egg-sized welt right in the middle. Even now, three days later, I look like I caught a fast ball with my arm. (The swelling went down pretty quickly after I iced it.) So I’m retired now. No more archery for me.
I bought the Garmin Forerunner 210 over the weekend (from my friendly local running store) and finally used it this morning.
It’s awesome. I got the heart rate monitor, too, so I strapped myself in (watch strap, heart rate monitor strap – any more straps and I wouldn’t need clothes), synced everything up (found my heart, found my satellite), and took off. I had a great run, but the coolest part about my new watch is that when I uploaded the details to the website (Garmin Connect), I got a whole bunch of neat graphs.
The top one shows how my pace varied over time, and I can tell that the downward spike is at the point where I had to wait a few seconds to cross a street. The watch calculates all the easy stuff (average heart rate, average pace, stuff like that), but it’s also tracking elevation and calculating calories burned, and the website displays the details per lap (I set it so one lap equals one mile), and it’s just so COOL.
I had my first facial ever today. And a massage. It was a very nice afternoon. John got me a Massage Envy gift certificate for those services for my birthday (WAY back in February). I don’t know why it took me so long to use it. It was wonderful. I am seriously considering making this a regular thing. (I like being pampered.)
I had a really annoying song stuck in my head earlier today, and a friend of mine at work asked me which one. It was “I Love You Like a Love Song” by I don’t know who, and I told him that the part where she goes “beep beep beep beep beep beep” wouldn’t get out of my brain. I got corrected immediately. He said it’s by Selena Gomez, and she’s actually saying “repeat repeat repeat” there. We had a minor battle over who was more embarrassed: me for not knowing the words or him for knowing them AND being able to name the teenybopper who sings them. I let him win that one (he’s around my age).
Roxy just came over to say hello and would I please give her the crumbs from my sandwich. At least she said please. She also told me that I have no unifying theme today, so I should quit now. Smart dog.
John and I live in the middle of suburbia. The epitome of suburbia. It really really can’t get more suburban than where we live. Lots of houses that all look the same, lots of people driving the same kinds of cars along all the same streets to take the same long commute to get to work and back. When I go for a run in the morning, I’m running by the early-risers and long lines of cars. There’s one stretch behind the high school where I run in the scraggly grass with the road on my right and the baseball field on my left, and usually I focus on the gradual uphill climb and uneven ground. The other day I noticed little purple flowers lining the worn path in the grass, lots of little purple flowers, and for just a few seconds, I could ignore the cars zooming by 8 feet to my right and pretend I was running in a mountain meadow full of wildflowers. It was a nice daydream, even if it didn’t last long.
A couple of days later, I spent a few minutes talking to a trail runner about where he runs and how to get there. I may end up hating running on uneven ground (or where there may be snakes and other unpleasant things), but it’s something I’d like to try. I think.
I like to make plans. No, that can be stressful. I like to have plans. I like to know someone is coming to visit or that we’re going to visit someone or go on a trip. I like the lists and the anticipation. I don’t always like having to do all the things on my lists, but having someone come over is often the push I need to get something done. Like…oh, I don’t know…scrubbing clean the rocking chairs and swing on the front porch. They are really really dirty, and I would like to be able to use them without covering them with a towel first.
We’re thinking about redoing our guest room. It kinda sucks as a guest room for more than one person, as many of you know. We keep two twin beds in there, one trundled under the other most of the time. When we pull the second bed out, the open floor space completely disappears. Sure, you can put your suitcase on the floor at the foot of the bed, but you’ll have to leap from the doorway onto the bed to go to sleep. One twin bed leaves a lot more space, but it’s not very often that we only have one guest at a time. We’ve talked about replacing the twins with a double bed, but I just did some measuring, and I’m not sure that’s going to work. If we put it one way, it blocks the closet, another way and it’ll block the door – there are two possibilities left, and I need to really see it before I’ll know if it will work. I have that problem with spatial…things. I need to see it all laid out in front of me. My imagination doesn’t really work with furniture.
I got hacked again this weekend. Not the website this time, but my email. I apologize to anyone who was spammed by me early Sunday morning (which appears to be everyone I’ve ever emailed from that account, and I’ve had that account for…15 years (ish), so that’s a lot of people). As soon as I noticed it, I changed my password for every account that uses that password.
Other than that, things are going well (which I feel oddly compelled to tell you as if we just ran into each other after a long break). My vacation-bred serenity with regard to all things work-related is officially gone, but that only covers a third of my day.
Dude. I went to a new (to me) salon to get a haircut (freshened the layers, kept the length – hey, this is important stuff) the other weekend. I was very happy with the haircut, but not 100% sure about the guy who cut it. He was very good, but kind of standoffish and very disapproving about how long it had been since my last haircut and how very much I don’t like to have to do anything to my hair every day. And he didn’t talk to me. So it was a little awkward. Anyway, you know how I don’t answer any calls unless I know who’s calling? (Nod. I’ve said this before.) Well, I broke my rule. A local number I didn’t recognize just came up on my cell phone (like in between the two paragraphs up there – totally interrupted whatever boring train of thought I had going on), and I answered it. The salon I went to is one of 15 in a local chain. The woman who called me was the owner of the chain. She said she always calls new clients. She was super nice, and when she asked me to rate my hair-stylist and I only gave him an 8.5 (based on the vibe), she suggested two other stylists at the same location who might be better for me because “first impressions are important and you should be happy with who does your hair.” She just found herself a loyal client.
One week ago tonight (plus 5 hours), John and I were in the Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon watching a Shakespeare play performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. (That should probably be Royal Shakespeare Theatre…) It was a last-minute decision. Mom and Dad spent the day in the cottage and around the village. John and I took the car to see the ruins of Hailes Abbey (beautiful), and when we realized it was a little too late (nearing 5pm) to see anything else, we decided to head to Stratford-upon-Avon. We knew we’d get there too late to get into any of the touristy stuff, but we could still go see stuff. And have tea. I love having afternoon tea. We got there right at 5pm (when the attractions were closing), so aside from a quick glance into a gift shop, we only got to see the outside of the birthplace of Shakespeare and that stuff. We had our tea (a light cream tea – we planned to find dinner somewhere before we headed back to Chipping Campden and Mom and Dad), and we took a walk down Henley Street (with all its closed shops) and eventually found the Avon. We dawdled there for a while and then noticed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as we walked by. The doors were open, we saw books on shelves, and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the gift shop. Amazing how that works. We browsed for 20 minutes or so and were on our way out when I suggested we check the box office. What’s on tonight? Who cares? If there are seats available and they’re somewhat reasonably priced, we should stay, right? Of course right. So we asked. Hey, it’s King John. How much are the tickets? Only £16 each? Hey, it starts at 7:30. What time is it now? Oh, 7:06? And we have to move the car? We can get the car moved in time if we run. So we ran. Well, we walked really fast. Turns out we didn’t have to move the car (just put more money in), so we rushed back, bought our tickets, and sat down just in time for the play to start.
It was really good. Really good. And interestingly staged, if that’s the word. Shakespearean language, contemporary costumes and setting. And music. The wedding scene made my whole week. (“I Say A Little Prayer For You” segued into “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” with the choreography from the end of Dirty Dancing. SO. MUCH. FUN.)
One of many pictures of Hailes Abbey. Also, proof of the beautiful weather we had most of the week.
Hamlet says hello. Or, you know, "Alas, poor Yorick."
I didn't have the foresight to get a picture of the whole building...
...but I did get a shot of the books that lured us in.
I think I just joined a book club. I went Friday night to my neighbor’s book club to meet people, drink wine, and talk about The Snow Child (we certainly talked about it, but that was far from the main event). There were 9 other women there, and all of them have known each other for a long time, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Four people in this group started the book club FOURTEEN years ago (one of them is my neighbor), and three of those four (the three who are not my neighbor) have known each other since high school (which for me was 15 years ago, so longer than that for them. I think). Thankfully, it was not at all awkward. They were so welcoming, really friendly, and despite the fact that I was the only one there who does not work for a local school district in any capacity and who doesn’t have kids, I didn’t feel like an outsider. It was fun. Really pleasant. I’d like to do it again.
It could have been a movie. All of these women, all gorgeous in cute but casual clothes, clustered in ever-changing groups around the island in our hostess’s beautiful kitchen, chatting, drinking wine, snacking. I can just see a camera swooping in from an upper angle and swirling around to follow snippets of conversations. Later, the camera would follow our move to the family room to talk about the book. We sat in a circle around the coffee table (some on the floor, on the couch, on ottomans), and the camera would shift from the middle of the group to an over-the-shoulder shot and back until it lifts out of the center and off to the side.
I think I’ve already seen this movie.
This is still my favorite XKCD comic. I think. It’s one of my favorites, definitely, because it’s one of the ones I continue to laugh at, even though it’s been years since it was posted.
Also, this one.
Do you have the Draw Something app? Our friendly neighborhood Wombat asked me that exact question just the other day. My response (after immediately downloading it to my phone) was “I do now!” I am so very bad at it, but it’s fun. It’s like Pictionary without the yelling. (Usually.) And Wombat is being very gracious about my terrible drawings. She’s good – she drew a great cheeseburger. I really suck. Truly. But if you download it and you want to play, send me an email!
John and I have lived in this house for almost six years. We know the people in three houses around us by name, and of those three, we only know the last names of the people immediately next door. We say hi on the sidewalk, help them shovel snow, and occasionally chat with the kids. Six years. Pathetic and anti-social, that’s us. In our defense, everyone in this neighborhood has kids (except us, of course), so they all know each other from school and play groups and the bus stop. Paper-thin, I know. We haven’t made an effort, and honestly, we haven’t minded all that much. I’ve met a few more people who live nearby since I joined the gym six months ago, but that hasn’t lead to real relationships. Until now, possibly. Maybe. Friday afternoon, a woman I know from the gym called to invite me to play bunco with her club that night. They need 12 people, and two of their regulars couldn’t make it. “Is it a problem that I don’t know what bunco is?” “Not in the least. Bring $10.” Yeah, that doesn’t sound shady at all. Come play a game you’ve barely heard of. We’ll take your money. She said it’s easy and mindless, and the club is really just an excuse to for the members to eat, drink, chat, and maybe win a few dollars. I went. She wasn’t lying – all you have to do is count, and the rest of pure chance. I can do that. And with only $10 at stake, it’s no big deal if I lose. Which I did not do. There are twelve rounds (six winners in each round), and I won the most rounds, so I took home $40. Not a bad way to be introduced to a game. I’m certain it’ll never happen again. (This is how it starts.) I played, I met 10 new people, it was enjoyable enough, and John and I were invited to a block party the next day. That was a bit more awkward than bunco night, but shortly after we sat down at a picnic table with our food, a couple came over, said “Oh, good – faces we recognize!”, and sat down. They’re the neighbors across the street and over one house, the ones with the very friendly cat and five kids (mostly grown, all living at home). Now we know their first names (but not their last name – what is wrong with us?). Had a good time chatting with them for over an hour. So, yay. Neighbors.
There was a spider in my car today. It was crawling across the roof (upside down, on the inside of the sunroof), and I know this because I was watching it when I should have been watching the road. Spiders are not allowed in my car! Maybe I need to put up a sign. Maybe our new neighbor friends are exterminators. Except they’re not. Every single person we met was either a teacher or a government contractor. Not that those are bad things to be, but they don’t help me much when I’m trying to keep a crazed and bloodthirsty spider at bay while making a left turn. Inconsiderate of them, to say the least.
I don’t know why I resisted it for so long – really, I don’t – but I gave in the other day. I’m a twit. A twitterer. I tweeted. Several times, even. And I’ll tell you a secret. I liked it. So now I’m hooked. Hooked on Twitter. Caught like a fish on a line, but happier about it. (Since when do I use fishing metaphors? Besides, “caught like a canary in a cage” would have been more appropriate.) And I’m stalking following people, which is totally cool. Cool because I’m nosy, not because stalking is in any way to be admired. I’ve hunted up, I mean tracked down, I mean – damn it’s hard to talk about this without sounding totally creepy – I’ve found most of my blog buddies (those who tweet, those I could find), so now I’m following you guys (see what I mean? Sounds like you need a restraining order.). If I missed you, it wasn’t on purpose. Leave me a comment or send me an email or hey, follow me, and I’ll follow you back. I’m easy that way. I’m still feeling my way around, so forgive me if I screw up. Better – tell me if I screw up so I don’t do it again. If you want to find me, I’m @zannah42 on Twitter.