Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ooh La La

My husband is an interesting combination of a dreamer and a do-er. My head almost immediately hits whatever hard surface is around when he utters the words, "I have an idea."

Well, my head introduced itself to a door frame last week when David explained how we would solve the problem with our backyard gutters. Our back gutter can't keep up with major rain water and turns our porch into Lake Cohen. Initially we had planned to hire someone to build what's called a french drain. (For those of you who aren't up on your construction vocabulary, a french drain is basically a long tube with holes in it attached to the gutter on one end, buried underground for about 25 feet, and ending in a big pile of rocks which is also buried underground.) But last week we had a long conversation about money and decided we just didn't have enough for someone to build us one. So Dave decided he would build one himself.
And I ran to find a hard surface.
On a Saturday morning, David bought a truck load of rocks and a bunch of big black tubes. I never thought he would actually go through with it. I locked myself in the office and pretended I didn't hear the clanging or the cursing outside. You can imagine my surprise when I walked outside around lunchtime to find this:HARD SURFACE, HARD SURFACE, HARD SURFACE.

I looked at him with the "wife-look" I swore would never take over my face, to which David quickly repeated, "This is going to save us so much money. This is going to save us so much money." The yard appeared to have been blown up by terrorists, after which they placed my innocent, shirtless husband in the middle of the war zone with a target on his head.

So I did something I've never done before in my life: I picked up a shovel. That's right. I shoveled. I'm a shoveler. We worked all afternoon digging and moving rock and filling in the big holes. The dogs helped by burying themselves in dirt and barking at bushes. In case you weren't aware, I'm not exactly known for my heavy lifting. But suddenly, my husband and I became a construction team with two little furry helpers, and digging a 30 foot trench in the backyard felt perfectly normal.
We don't know if the french drain actually works yet as through some freak of nature it hasn't rained in 4 days. And the yard looks pretty terrible; it will probably take a while for the grass to grow back through the dirt and for the ground to level out. But by goodness, my husband built us a big french drain and I helped. And Charlie looked like this...

...which makes the whole thing totally adorable.

Good job, husband. You saved us so much money. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Good Alternative

(*Starbucks Lady is maybe 40, big southern hair, a really sweet smile, thick souther accent.)

Starbucks Lady: Hey ya'll, what kin ah make fer ya'll? You know ya'll are thiiirsty!!

David: Nothing for me, thanks.

Me: I'll have a cafe latte, decaf please.

Starbucks Lady: Ya'll, it is soo smart to get that decaf at night. Or you can get half-caff. Yoo know? Utherwise you'll be up all night!

Me: True enough.

Starbucks Lady: Ya'll want fat free milk?

Me: Full fat, please.

Starbucks Lady: Good fer YOO girl! Any snaaaacks fer ya'll? A muffin or some crumb cake?

Me: Oh, no thanks.

Friend: She can't eat any of the things in your case, unfortunately.

Starbucks Lady: (slams her hands on the counter and whispers) Now girl, don't tell me yer on a diet.

Me: No, no. I just can't have sugar.

Starbucks Lady: Oh nooo! No sugar? That is terrible. None?

Me: None, but it's ok.

Starbucks Lady: Oh my goodness. I wish I had sooome kind of snack fer yoo!

Friend: Do you have a salami roll?

Starbucks Lady: (doubles over laughing silently like she can't even breathe because it's so funny, then a HUGE inhale) OH MY GOSH, YA'LL!!! (another silent laugh and a HUGE inhale) OH MY GOSH, THAT IS TOOO FUNNY!!

Me: Or a meat muffin. I could eat that.

Starbucks Lady (cannot catch her breath, laughing so hard): YOU GUY- (inhale) YOU GUYS ARE SO- (inhale) OH MY GOSH, that is so funny ya'll!! You know I would just love to see you fill out one of them comment cards requesting some salami rolls or meat muffins!!!!

Me: That's not a bad idea.

And so I wrote to Starbucks corporate and asked for Salami Rolls and Meat Muffins. I'll let you know what they say. Crossing fingers...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Uprising

Most people in my Ball Pilates class like to chat. They chat with each other, with the instructor, sometimes with themselves. Well, when a major catastrophe struck the 7am class at the JCA this past month, they did more than chat.

You see, Ball Pilates is our favorite class, and Giovana is our favorite instructor. (I say "our" because we all feel this way.) We come to her classes on M-W-F because she is calm, she is encouraging, she turns the lights down. She has a sweet little accent and a moderate grasp of the English language which occasionally results in her asking us to hold the ball between our "chins" or remember to hold our stomach in when we go to the "stores" later. And she makes us laugh when we're in gut-wrenching pain holding a single-leg squat by singing, "Smiiile!"

About a month ago, Giovana went to Italy to see family for 2 weeks. During this time, Alvin took over. Alvin is loud. He insists that we arrive on time and get down to "business." Alvin plays hip hop music and turns all the fluorescent lights on. Alvin requires us to answer him out loud if he asks the collective a question like, "Can you feel it?" If we don't answer, he'll keep asking. "Can you feel it?! I SAID CAN YOU FEEL IT?!" By the time he's shouting, we're shouting back in anger. "YES. YES. YES ALVIN, WE FEEL IT." He also makes us breathe so that he can hear it, otherwise he doesn't "believe" we're breathing. "I need to hear you BREATHING." Why? Why do you need to hear that?! Just trust us, if someone's not breathing, we'll let you know.
When Giovana came back we were all thrilled. The 5 or 6 people who dropped out while she was gone came back and we were all together again. The Ball Pilates family. And then, before we could celebrate, disaster struck again.

The fitness director decided to "change up" the schedule. I guess she was concerned that the JCA needed to add more variety in the morning. She didn't ask us for an opinion. US, the MORNING group. And she left it to Giovana to break the news. So one dark morning, Giovana announced that Ball Pilates would only be offered on Fridays, regular Pilates would replace the morning slot on Mondays, and Wednesday would become Yoga. The wost part? ALVIN would now be teaching the Wednesday morning class. We were all hysterical.

Flexible lady asked, "What if we don't like Alvin?"

Unitard guy shouted, "I don't like Yoga, that's why I come to Ball Pilates."

Uncoordinated woman smirked to the Fashionista, "I don't get nearly as good of a workout without the ball."

Beer Gut man added, "If it's not Giovana, I'm not coming."

Giovana was obviously trying to hide her upset. She encouraged us that it would be alright, but we didn't believe her. We don't like change. And none of us got a good workout that day. We rushed to the comment box and climbed over top of each other for a sharpened golf pencil and stuffed that box full. That'll show her.

Flash forward to today when the schedule was set to change. We all arrived at 6:45am and Giovana stopped us as we got out the Pilates balls: "No ball today, guys. Just the ring and some weights."

Uncoordinated woman: "No ball?!"

Fashionista: "Oh yeah. That's right. No more ball."

Beer Gut man: "This is unbelievable (tossing mat down on the ground)."

Unitard guy: "Yeah. After all those comments. They don't read them I guess?"

Flexible lady: "Incredible! We all want the ball. Why can't we use the ball?"

Uncoordinated woman: "We're the ones paying. And we want the ball!"

Flexible lady: "You know, Giovana, we all want the ball."

Giovana was clearly torn. And after listening to all of us complain for the first 5 minutes of class, she stood up and announced: "Ok. Let's just make it a ball class today. Does everyone agree?"

We were shocked. Giovana was going to put her job on the line to give us Ball Pilates. We raced for the balls before she changed her mind. Everyone in the room sat down and began to bounce, like little kids THRILLED to have their toys back.

Unitard guy: Now THIS gets my blood flowing.

Uncoordinated lady: It's a better workout, it's a better workout. I already feel it.

Beer Gut man: This is a cleanse for the lymphatic system, you know that?

Fashionista: It's the ball, it wakes you up and gets you ready to work.

Flexible lady: That's right. I sit up straighter and feel longer with the ball.

I think Giovanna made the class especially challenging today just so that we didn't take the ball for granted. And we rose to the challenge. Beer Gut guy actually fell off his ball at one point trying to balance on one leg and we all burst with laughter, including him! Oh Beer Gut, guy! You've got your ball back!

You've got your ball back.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Auditory Discrimination

I have been working on being a more sensitive wife. I've grown to become a very "get-over-it" type of person, which isn't always what my husband wants to hear, and very rarely what I want to hear. Total double standard.
So we're listening to the rabbi speak about Rosh Hashana and exchanging quick comments and questions under our breath to each other. He holds out his hands with a sad face and says, "My hands are looking cold."

My first reaction is: You're a grown man. Rub them together. Warm them up.
But my Sensitive Wife reaction is: Stop it, Erin. Take is his hands in yours and warm them up.

So I do. I take his hands, put them between mine, and rub them to warm them up.
He then looks at me with a face that says, "Well, that's not going to warm them up."

My first reaction is: Are you kidding me? I'm doing something nice for you. Warm them up yourself!
But my Sensitive Wife reaction is: He wants me to try harder. It speaks to him when I actually try to make him comfortable.

So I bring his hand to my mouth and blow hot air, like you would on a cold day on the mountain before your hot chocolate is ready.
He looks at me again and mouths, "Thank you?" Just like that; like he's asking if that's all I've got.

My first reaction is: Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME?! I'm trying to HELP YOU. This is bordering on EMBARRASSING.
But my Sensitive Wife reaction is: Alright, enough of this sweet warming up your hands crap. I'LL WARM THESE HANDS UP IF IT KILLS ME.

I take both of his hands, put them between my knees (which feels so inappropriate in a Temple), and rub them with my hands at the same time. I look at him with a "warm-enough-yet-you-cold-handed-freak?" face.
He just continues looking at me.
What else could I possibly do? Here I am doing everything in my power to be freaking sensitive and a damn loving wife and all you can do is look at me like I've failed your poor, fragile little man hands without so much as a "Thanks for trying." I am sure my face reflected this frustration. He cracked a smile. A smile. Why the hell are you smiling at me, you creep??

"I said, 'My hands are looking old.'"

I laughed so hard I snorted like Ernie. The table looked over at me like I was interrupting the most important moment of their lives. I didn't even acknowledge them in between snorts. Besides, it was too funny a moment to let pass without laughing so they can just get over it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back Down South

I have to say that when we moved back down south, I was very westernized. Westernized, meaning LA-ish. In LA, we are pleasant to each other. And by pleasant, I mean we don't hurt each other or say mean things unless prompted. We get out of each other's way on the roads for the most part and usually let each other in. We sometimes hold doors if it's convenient but if we don't, it's nothing personal. We ask, "How are you today?" in line at the store even though we know we won't get an honest answer and frankly, don't particularly care for any answer; the line is too long for small talk. It was not at all an uncomfortable way to live. We were all a sort of breed of hermit crabs that just happened to be forced out of our shells and forced into a huge vat of other hermit crabs all day, everyday.
When I went to the grocery store for the first time since moving into our new home, I was standing in the produce section looking at apples. A woman standing next to me said, "These are the best this time of year and even though they're the most expensive, I still buy them."
I felt violated. Here I was in this lovely little apple-shopping world, and this woman is requesting that I listen and care about which apples she buys and presumably would like me to come up with some response. What the hell do I say to her? "Really?" or "Wooow," or "Thanks for sharing that." I decided to smile and skip the apples and hope that woman didn't follow me down any of the aisles.
When I got to the check out, the lady asked me the obligatory, "How are you today?"
"Did you find everything alright?"
Don't you think if I hadn't, I would have asked someone before I got to the checkout line? "Yes, thank you."
"Do you have any coupons today?"
Do I look like someone who has coupons? "No."
"We have those great little flyers up front if you want to grab one on your way out. It has all of our sales listed every week."
Please don't sell me advertising for Publix in Publix. I'm already here, ok? "Oh. Thanks."
"Paper or plastic?"
It doesn't fucking matter. "It doesn't matter."
"Would you like some help out to your car?"
Yes, yes I want a total stranger to walk me through a parking lot to my car where I can take out my keys and he or she can shove me into the trunk and drive away so I become a top story on the local news and my husband dies alone. "No."
"Well, you have yourself a wonderful day, now. We'll see you next time."
God willing there will never be a next time. "Thanks."

Fast forward 6 months. While I was in the store this past week I was looking for a sugar-free ice cream. A woman shopping in the same section asked me, "Are you looking for sugar-free too?"
"Yes, I am! It's so hard to find!"
"You know, the best I've found is over at Walmart. Now I don't like to shop there, but it really is the only sugar-free ice cream that I can stand."
"Oh really?! I might have to try that."
"I also looked for salt-free potato chips because my husband can't have salt and I ended up having to order them online."
"Oh, wow. It's strange they don't have them in stores. It seems like something people would buy."
"I know it. I'm sure they will eventually. Good luck with the ice cream."
"Thanks so much!"

I mosey on up to the check out counter.
"How are you today?"
"I'm doing really well, how about yourself?"
"I'm doing just fine. You find everything you need?"
"You know, I did. I needed so many of the sale items this week!"
"Ok, that's lucky! I love when I run out of something and it just so happens to be on sale. Did you see our pizza dough is on sale as well?"
"Oh my gosh, I sure didn't! I might have to come back before the week is up."
"It's wonderful dough, so easy to make at home. I prefer it to a delivery-type pizza. Do you have any coupons?"
"I don't today. I haven't gotten the Publix $5 coupon in a while."
"Oh, they'll send that one out next Tuesday."
"Oh great."
"These your bags from home?"
"Yes, ma'am. You can feel free to just fill them to the brim. No need to be neat."
"Ok. Great. Do you need help out today?"
"No ma'am, I walked."
"Oh good for you. More of us should be doing that."
"Well, I'm just so lucky to live so close. It's so convenient."
"How wonderful. You know, I walk up to our local store occasionally, I should do it more often."
"Well, have a great day."
"You too, dear. See you next time."
"You sure will."

It's nice to be back down south, ya'll.

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 Years

Press Play

Eight years ago today, I was in a Theatre Management classroom watching this movie. Our professor got a phone call, which he took. It was very rare to see a professor take a phone call during a class. I watch this clip and still, my skin crawls remembering walking across campus feeling vulnerable and scared, looking up into the sky wondering if a plane would land on our campus.

We spent the rest of the day in David's apartment gathered around the television.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Save the Children

I was thinking about the controversy over President Obama addressing our school children and something rather ironic occurred to me. On September 11th, it will be 8 years since our country was attacked. And where was our president?!


No wonder everyone was so upset with President Obama. Who knows what could have happened?!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I got a haircut today and my stylist is just a year or two younger than me, very pretty, and extremely chatty. She reminds me a little bit of Zooey Deschanel without the extreme apathy. She has a strange addiction to MTV and all of its programming that I haven't watched since Freshman year of college when I secretly longed to be on the Real World, Seattle. However, she also has an affinity for the newer shows that I wouldn't watch if you offered me all the carbs on the planet. In one 30 minute trim, she touched on about 800 shows, including but not limited to:
  • The Real World (Miami, Boston, Seattle, Las Vegas...)
  • Singled Out
  • The Jenny McCarthy Show
  • My So Called Life
  • Next
  • Total Request Live
  • Laguna Beach
  • The Hills
  • Pimp My Ride
  • Beavis and Butthead
  • America's Best Dance Crew
  • The Osbournes
  • MTV Spring Break
  • 16 and Pregnant
  • Room Raiders
  • The Tom Green Show
  • Punk'd
  • Sweet 16
  • Road Rules
  • Daria
  • Pop-Up Video
  • ...and anything hosted by Chris Hardwick
My reason for posting all the shows she named is with the hope that it makes your head turn to the side a little bit and say, "Oooh yeah! I remember that show," the way that I did as she described her life events using MTV programs in place of adjectives. It's also to let you know the titles of a few of the newer shows, just so you can see the terrible turn MTV's programming has taken.
Yep. 16 and Pregnant is a show.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to turn into my mother when I have kids. They will not be allowed to see MTV until they're 17 at the earliest, and when they do see it, they will immediately be given some form of birth control and a copy of the Lord's Prayer.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Within about an hour of arriving, my sister-in-law began really "feeling" the contractions. I say "feeling" in quotes not because she had an epidural, but because her version of reacting to one contraction after another was to lean her head back and say, "Ouch," quietly to herself. She was in such amazing control of her pain. In between every contraction, she told me a little more about what it felt like instead of regrouping. A soldier, I tell ya.
Finally, contractions started coming hard and fast and the anesthesiologist was still in a c-section. That's probably my new worst nightmare. I think I'd consider putting it in myself if my anesthesiologist took that long.
After her epidural, her husband and I sat next to her for about an hour in silence watching What Not to Wear and Sports Center. Yep, you can do that. You can watch Sports Center while you labor. What a world. What a glorious world.
The next time the nurse came in, she said she would check to see how far labor had progressed. We all held our breath. My sister-in-law was fairly certain she wasn't beyond 3cm. It took the nurse about 2 minutes, repeating, "I don't want to tell you and then change my mind." My other sister-in-law and mother-in-law walked in. We were still waiting. And finally, the nurse looked up and said...no no, asked, she asked... "Nine?"
Her doctor walked in a few minutes later and asked how she was. The nurse said, "Nine," and the doctor shouted, "STOP!" Oh no, lady doctor. There's no stopping now. I've seen enough Baby Story to know that.
And then all at once, every member of the hospital staff filed into the room. They stepped on me, in front of my camera, and stared directly at the private parts. I wanted to say - Hello? Do you all need to stare? The doctor began giving some coaching tips: Bare down. Push when you need to. Push with a contraction, that helps. Pull your knees back. Hike!
There she went, pushing and breathing and pushing some more. She was so strong and so calm at the same time, it was amazing. And as that little baby made it's way into the world, I didn't cry like I said I would. I didn't giggle. I didn't have any emotional response. It was NOT like a Baby Story. It was so real, so surreal, so primal. It was more than I could process. It wasn't scary and it wasn't gross. It was beautiful and perfect. It was truly the calmest I have felt in a very long time.
After Chloe came, I shot pictures at a rate of 4,000 per minute. I couldn't stop. She was incredible. Small, beautiful, strong, mellow...I found myself saying things that I always thought sounded so stupid on TLC. "She's so beautiful!" Babies aren't beautiful, they're covered in goo and wrinkly and puffy. But I tell ya, this was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen. Her little head was the perfect shape and her pretty eyes opened and closed as she breathed. She didn't cry or scream. She just basked in the "sun" and cooed.
And then you know what I said? I said, what in retrospect, sounds absolutely ridiculous to anyone but me. I said, "She is so smart." I did. I won't defend it, but I won't take it back either. She is so smart. And I see now why people say things like that.
I sat in a hospital room with 2 other people today, and when the day was over, I sat in a hospital room with 3 other people. I am so blessed to have been given a family who included me in the moment our table of 13 became a table of 14.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Routine

I have a routine. Everyday I'm up by 6:30 or 7, depending on which wakes me up first, the alarm or Bella. Most mornings I go to the gym for a pilates class, and then I come home and start working from my sweet little home office. I usually spend part of the late afternoon cleaning the house. There is always SOMETHING that's dirty in our house and requires immediate attention. I guess between dogs and a husband, my floors don't stand a chance and the laundry machine better suck it up and spin. Around 5pm I figure out what we're having for dinner so that we can eat by the time Dave gets home. This isn't so much because I'm a "have-dinner-on-the-table-when-he-gets-home" kind of wife. It's more because I'm hungry and dinner is my favorite meal of the day. Then we usually watch our shows and hop into bed by 9:30 to ensure at least a half an hour of reading before we fall asleep. Fairly ordinary life, right?
There's one part of it that's not ordinary. It's a little weird, I think. Don't judge me: I watch at least one episode of A Baby Story on TLC every. single. day. I get emotionally involved in every show. Even if I've seen the episode before, I sit in front of the TV and labor right along with the moms. I listen to the doctors and nurses reassure me that everything is going well. I think my stomach muscles must clench for the entire 30-minute show. And then, like a child, I cry every time the baby comes out. It's not like I don't know a baby is coming. I know the show so well that I'm sure the baby will be out about 20 minutes into the show, followed immediately by a ViaCord Blood or Pampers commercial. I don't cry in anticipation; I cry the second the baby comes out. Every. Time.
It's like watching Benji when I was little: I knew Benji was going to live. I'd seen the movie about 30 times. But I still cried with every viewing while chanting, "Go, Benji, go!" Sometimes I'd hide somewhere in the loft to watch Benji run so my mom wouldn't see me crying while I watched. I wasn't embaressed, but I knew she'd think something was wrong. Nothing was wrong. Nothing except for the fact that Benji was desperately trying to save those two kids' lives if you would just LISTEN TO HIM BARKING AT YOU.
Tomorrow, though, the routine will be broken. Tomorrow is going to be one of the coolest days of my life. I'll probably still get up at 6:30 and I might even go to the gym. But after that, I'm going to watch a baby story. But this time I'm watching THE baby story. I will be in the hospital with my sister-in-law watching her new little girl come into the world. I don't think they blur things out in the actual birthing suite, so it might be a little shocking. I will be taking pictures and holding my breath for the full 30 minutes it takes her to push the baby out. (Dave just informed me they edit A Baby Story down to fit into a 30 minute television show and the moms are actually in screaming pain like that for up to 24 hours, but I'm not buying his scare tactics...) I am honored and excited to be there tomorrow. Hopefully I don't get so excited when she's coming out that I shout, "Go, Benji, go!" Either way, it's sure to be a one of my favorite days, ever.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


My husband gave me a birthday card and in it, he listed the things that I did in my 27th year of life.
  • finished a Masters
  • moved across the country
  • bought a house
  • started a counseling service
  • went to Europe
  • planted a garden
  • got a puppy
  • made new friends
  • started working for a new company
  • got diagnosed with insulin-resistance
  • celebrated my 2nd year of marriage
When I read that list I thought, geez! Everyone should sit back on their birthday and take account of what they did in the past year of life! We are busy people!
We tend to look at things within calendar years. "I did that in 2009." But when you think of all that you do in a year of your own life, it's such an impact. Try it on your birthday! I'll bet you'd be surprised at how much you accomplished, too!