31 July 2010

Let me Give you the Skinny

I have just returned from a week of vacation. My ivory (bordering on clear) skin is rosy, and I am holding my breath that my red fades to some version of tan instead of bubbling and peeling. But I’ll take what I can get. The best part of vacation (ok, not the best part, but a good part) is making sure everyone who didn’t get to go on a sweet vacation knows that you did. And it will be a good reminder for me as my bum is going numb from sitting for 8 hours a day entering information into an excel spreadsheet (can you hear the anticipation mixed with excitement in my voice?).

As we (or I, in this case) speak, my parents and I are driving down the interstate in Indiana. We just left Michigan City, Indiana, a city of great tradition and history. You see, my family and I have been vacationing on the beach of Lake Michigan since I was three years old. And over the course of two-decades, you manage to develop a few traditions. Some include Jack in the Box in St. Louis (yes, I thought that Jack in the Box was THE greatest when I was growing up), completing math worksheets for prizes on the ride on the way up, and there was even a period where we jazzed up the Chrysler mini-van and removed the middle seat and installed a TV, VCR, and Sega Genesis. Sweet.

But the Chrysler mini-van rests in pieces in junkers across America, I have wised up regarding the truth about Jack in the Box, and my math days are long behind me. But one tradition has remained strong—the Michigan City outlet mall. Two and half hours (including stops at several blueberry and vegetable farms) from our final destination, we start every Saturday morning off with some back-to-school shopping.

This year, I decided to work on applying some new self-discipline to my purchasing habits—what I am calling “if you don’t need it, don’t buy it”. Yes, I know. This is a novel concept. But it took lots of inner-dialogue to arrive at the conclusion that while, “No, I don’t have that shirt in that exact style in that exact color, but you already have two v-neck tshirts so even though those are $1 off, you probably don’t need to buy 14 more so that you can wear them for two weeks straight without ever doing laundry.” A valuable lesson to be sure.

But there was one thing that I never even considered buying.

The “Super Skinny Jean”.

Let’s just be frank about skinny jeans of all varieties—particularly the ‘super skinny’ design. You see, when I saw the physics-defying pants on the hanger, the irony and contradiction of the label hit me right between the eyes. Because, I thought, surely they don’t make those in sizes larger than 6. I mean, after all, those of us full-sized, normal, healthy, and fit women who wear larger than size 6 are many things, but we are NOT super-skinny (and there is no reason to feel badly about that fact). But let’s not pretend that super-skinny jeans will miraculously make us look super-skinny. They will likely just look like we bought our clothing 8 sizes too small, and further more the only thing that will be super about them is that they will be super-uncomfortable.

And furthermore Gap (that’s right, I am talking to you), ‘super-skinny’ jeans for the 0-6s are a bit redundant. I have never seen a pair of 0s that makes ANYONE look super-fat, let alone full-figured. So let’s rethink the strategy a little bit.

Check back soon. More to come...

18 July 2010

Sorry to leave you hanging...

I know, I know. Leaving Lebron-talk up for over a week was probably not the wisest time to take a blogging-hiatus. After all, every where I turn, I am hearing how much people are tired of hearing about hearing about Lebron James (Usually after I ask, "So, what do you think about Lebrong James?" What do we learn from this, class? First, clearly I am not tired of talking about it. Second, I don't pick up on socially cues particularly quickly. Note to self.)

It's not that there haven't been plenty of things to write about. In fact, there have almost been too many things. There we go again, learning more things about me: When confronted with good options, rather than offending the non-selected but deserving choices, I snub all of them. This applies to everything except food. In that case, I make an exception and just pick all of them. You know what I'm talking about. When confronted with a plate of spinach, grapes, raw eggs, and other good-for-you choices, I just down them all. Right.

Anyway, how do you choose between writing about the time that there was a fist-fight two feet away from you on the bus, the time (five minutes after the fight on the bus) when someone started making a speech about Rosa Parks (after this sweet old lady had shouted "Peace BE STILL"), the time you waited for the bus for over an hour only to have it drive by without picking you up and causing you to not be able to sit in the seat in the movie theater that you had already paid a disgraceful ammount of money for, or.....there are others, but they don't involve buses and I am realizing that public transportation might provide my best material. Anyway, you get the point. Lot's of crazy, funny, frustrating, in a word, blog-worthy incidents. Too many to choose from.

And after listing all of those, I think I have realized that I am about to describe the least interesting of them all. Oh well, I am committed at this point.

So back in Oxford, I was talking to this girl who had lived in the UK for over 5 years (she was from the US) and considered herself British (essentially. It was a long and un-interesting conversation). She described in great detail how she just fit-in better in England and that the people just made more sense to her. Needless to say, I askd her about this. After all, the English make LITTLE sense to me, so this just didn't seem logical. And I am not sure that I fit in particularly well with all parts of the American ideology and even I felt like this was a ridiculous statement. Furthermore, who SAYS that?!

She then launched into this big tirade about how her mom has an American flag bumper sticker on her car and how Americans fly flags all the time and feel this need to assert their American-ness. I think she even talked about the resurgence in flag-flying and patriotism after September 11th, and how she just couldn't understand this mentality. (Let's pause here to note that flag-flying seems like a pretty silly metric to use to determine if you are ideologically similar to a given nation.) I think I argued with her. (Yes, I know. Most of you who are reading this are not surprised by this revelation. But you should know that in the UK I mastered a new technique: Say "Hmmm, ok. Interesting. Yes. Tell me more about that", all the while thinking "Wrong." or "You have no idea what you are talking about." or "I have no idea what you are talking about." or "You are a lunatic.". But here, I argued. I must have been feeling particularly patriotic on this day. If I had been better prepared, I would have pulled an American flag out of my pocket. Unfortunately, I had none.

Well, seeing as how I moved to the nation's capitol a few days after the fourth of July, I found myself reflecting on this experience a few days after arriving. You see, I was walking up this huge hill (I think I had gone for a run, but the huge disadvantage of living on the top of a hill--which I do--is that you always have to finish your run uphill. Sure, you start your run downhill, but at that point, you are not tired. And furthermore, these are "slow down so you don't fall down" hills, so you really don't get the advantage. I think this stinks. So I walk up the hill at the end.). Anyway...I was walking up this huge hill, and I notied that every doorway had a flag flying next to it. And then I noticed that every yard had four or five flags (baby ones) lining the sidewalk. It looked like a flag pinata had been broken over the neighborhood. They were everywhere. I laughed to myself when I thought about the ex-pat from Oxford who would be puzzled by these peoples' over-patriotism. I thought of something that she said about Americans' (apparent) need to assert their Americanis "as if they or other people are going to forget". This seemed especially funny to me as the Capitol building, the mall, and all the monuments are a short bus-ride away.

And then I thought, I wonder if other people come here and feel the need to assert their allegiance to their country. Seriously. I thought that. And because I am intuitive like that, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Who cares? That's not funny." You are right.

But then, I got to the top of the hill. And just as I crested the hill--I kid you not--I saw a couple my parents age and what appeared to be an adult son. And they were German. I know this because the son had a shirt with a German flag and hat on it and was carrying a German flag. Oh, and the mother had glittering Germany necklaces, black, red, and gold all over, and more flags. And I knew they were German because somebody wasn't wearing deodorant. Oh wait, that is just how I knew they were European. (Ok, actually, that stereotype is not true. And it should be said that Germans are my favorite people on the planet. Seriously, its true. Them and Turks. And Greeks.)

I found out later that Germany had played in the World Cup that day, so it wasn't entirely random. But still. Crazy.

09 July 2010

A Royal Pain

I am about to break a cardinal rule of writing. But at least I know I am doing it, I guess.

Know your audience.

Well, I do know my audience, and I know that for the most part, my audience is probably almost universally uninterested in what I am about to say. For many, they could have cared less about this topic 6 months ago and are still unmoved and uninterested by it now. For most of the rest, any interested has been killed by the 24-hour news-cycle that has covered this topic for the last week (and the news-lite that has alluded to it for months and years). And for the remaining outliers, they are probably too bitter (like me) to admit that they care dearly about this issue.

That's right. It is time to talk about Lebron James.

Yesterday was a big day for Lebron, Miami, and apparently the sports world. Well, today is a big day for me. I think today is the day that I graduate into the true blogging world. It's time to move beyond things that I actually know stuff about, namely, my life and experiences (a limited set, to be sure), and start recording all my opinions. After all, isn't blogging all "publishing" lots of information that is outside of your expertise? Isn't it about random-joe's all over the world, contributing their two-cents (or less) on every topic under the sun? Well, in that vein, here's mine.

If you had asked me 24 hours ago, I would have told you that I was a huge Lebron James fan. In fact if you had asked me who my favorite NBA team was, I probably would have said Lebron. (And that is not a joke. Every time someone has asked me that question, I have responded in uniform fashion: "I don't really have a team. I like watching players or match-ups. I am a BIG Lebron fan.") And then I probably would have blushed and gushed about how talented he is, how relatively humble he is, how well-spoken and squeaky-clean he is, and how much I respect him as a player as a result. (I know--for those of you who know what has gone on in the last 24 hours--I feel duped.)

Looking back (with all the hindsight that 24 hours can provide), I am a little bit embarrassed at my level of star-struck-ness (This is the other part of my official introduction to the blogosphere: the rules of the English language no longer apply to me. That's right. I, like Lebron James, have arrived like that.). Just to further contextualize my adoration, my love for LBJ has recently caused me to be frustrated with and disapproving of Obama. Unlike normal people (or Sarah Palin. I hope she isn't reading this blog; I know she can access it from her window in Alaska. Or Russia. God Bless the World Wide Web.), who are frustrated with Obama for health care, or education policy, or his apparent inability to motivate scientists to figure out how to use pieces of tire rubber and old golf balls to plug a massive whole in the Gulf of Mexico (I am still not exactly sure what he is supposed to be doing on this one, but apparently what he is doing is not it.), I currently distrust the guy because of his repeated self-comparison to Lebron.

That's right, he (apparently) made the following statements:

"I'm Lebron baby. I can play at this level. I've got some game." (This was long before he was voted President, by the way. Kind of like all of Lebron's shenanigans were well before he won a championship, as his detractors love to point out.)

"At some point people have to stop asserting that because I haven't been in the league long enough, I can't play. It's sort of like Magic Johnson or Lebron James who keep on scoring and their team wins. But people say they can't lead because they're too young."

I am guessing that Obama may distance himself from these statements over the next few days and may not be using the analogy anymore (Based on my limited readership, it seems like blogging is also about bold predictions and shallow speculation. Boom). At least not for a while. (But if Lebron wins a championship in Miami, there might be a resurgence of its use.) Especially since Lebron chose Miami in spite of Obama's personal request that he go to Chicago. (In politics, that might be justification for a trade embargo. That would be funny if Lebron didn't almost make enough money to be a small country.) Although the more pressing political concern right now is probably how to get an income tax going in Florida. After all, the taxes that Lebron would pay could fund a pretty nice baby stimulus plan for that state. (Yes, that's right. No income taxes in Florida. So for those of you who are lauding his selfless move to accept less money, you too have been duped.)

But here, I am chasing a rabbit (oh, how severe has been my entrance into the blogosphere.). The real point is that I had it REAL bad for Lebron. And so now, I must publicly declare that I can no longer call myself a Lebron fan. I don't hate the guy, but I can't adore him the way I once did. I mean, I will still wear my favorite basketball shorts that are branded with his initials, but if we were friends on Facebook, I would have to unfriend him.

There are certainly substantive issues that underpin this decision and that could be discussed like greed, loyalty, humility, not-talking-about-yourself-in-the-third-person, and others, but that isn't what blogs are for.

Hopefully you just got two cents richer. (The only option is that I owe you for reading that. And DC is expensive, and I can't afford that.) Thanks for listening.

07 July 2010

The Wounds Tell the Tale

Scars have always been reminders of incidents and evidences of my general personality and approach to life. I think they mostly say that I took unnecessary risks as a child, was physically active, was often involved in rough-housing, and might not have listened to directions.

The faint line on my right wrist is a reminder of the time I seared my skin on the oven rack removing a pizza, an almost invisible line on (what used to be; I might not be as physically active these days as I would like...the only muscles that are getting a frequent workout are in my butt) my tricep was created by a necklace in an aggressive hug that went wrong, I might have a bracket (from a set of braces) mark on my right-hand index-finger knuckle that might be from a bracket that was in my brother's mouth, and my knees are just a collection of "I was going to fast; yes, I tried to run through that wall; and floor burns add up" carnage.

That doesn't even address the crescent moon on my shin from walking directly into a trailer hitch when I wasn't paying attention to where I was going, and countless others...

And as much as these scars serve as a virtual life-story, my feet are telling the tale of the last couple of weeks. Apparently, I have been walking around in socks on streets of cotton candy in Oxford because I am finding that my feet are unconditioned for ANY kind of footwear (which means I get new blisters every day). I am probably carrying about 6-8 blisters per foot right now. Yes, that IS impressive. And no, there are not many un-blistered spots left at this point.

It all started in London a few weeks ago. Brown sling-back heals. My toes crammed into the front. I ended up walking bare-foot in Westminster because my feet felt like they were bleeding. Correction. Closer examination confirmed that my feet were bleeding. Even more impressive, my toes made one another bleed from being pressed so closely together.

So, I switched to purple peep-toes (yes, guys, you might have to google some of these terms...) for the next formal(ish) event. They targeted a new area. I left the night with new cuts on my neighboring toes. Peep-toes may be cute in theory, but apparently you need to ease into wearing them.

I bought a new pair of flats in KC to attempt to address these issues. They were a bit stiff. Welcome, heel blisters.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to wear 3 inch heels for my first day of work. (You may recall that I had a nice, long, walk to work on that first day). These produced a new set of heel cuts, a slice on the top of my foot from the strap, and a re-aggravation of the toe blisters.

So, I finally learned my lesson. On day 2, I wore soft flats. My feet still hurt from all the sensitive areas that had already been created, but no NEW blisters formed. After a pathetic but blister free attempt at a run in the (relatively) mountainous and desert-like conditions that were at least successful in their blister-free-ness, I threw on some flip-flops to let my tootsies breathe and heal. After about a mile of walking, I realized that in Oxford, I never wore flip flops because I had slip on sandals instead. You know what that means? That's right. Large, skin peeling blisters between my toes. And running for four blocks in an (unsuccessful) attempt to catch my bus certainly didn't help.

The good news is that in about a week, my feet will be conditioned for all of this, and in 3 months I will finally be used to it. And then....I will put on my socks and return to the land of cotton candy streets.

06 July 2010

Fast-forward 10 days...

I know that I should really finish the story about Tue-Wednesday. I mean, it IS a really good story. But let's just summarize to say that I was glad that my flight in Chicago was delayed (because it looked like I wasn't going to make it due to long, slow customs lines (oh yeah, and forgetting my third bag in the baggage claim area)) but then I WASN'T glad that it got further delayed for 4 more hours--including several sitting on the runway (I mean, how do you NOT know that there are two seats broken? And how do you NOT have a better/more efficient system for picking the unlucky winner to get off the plane? I would have picked the screaming baby and his mom (I mean, he was the only one who REALLY didn't want to be on the plane...), but that is probably heartless and the words of a weary, sleep-deprived traveller.) But all is well that ends well, and I would say that a meal of Chipotle and crab rangoons and going to bed at 9 pm is a pretty good ending.

And then the next 10(ish) days were a lovely blur--a whistle-stop tour of family and friends. I was surprised at how much I felt like I had never left. And I have to say that it was an incredibly reassuring feeling. After a year of feeling very far away, it was so comforting to find that the people I love are just as lovely (or loveable...or whatever.).

And now, I am in a new city, with a new job. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am getting paid to sit around and read and write now, there will be some (of the more entertaining parts of my life) that will not be eligible for blogging (big tear). BUT...the good news is that I am still just as incompetent and ridiculous as ever, so I will keep things interesting without workplace commentary.

My only mode of transportation is the city bus, which is actually surprisingly convenient; it picks me up from 200 yards from my house and drops me off the same distance from work. Well...or it is supposed to. Today, I got antsy and got off 7 blocks before I was supposed to. So, by the time I got to work in the mid-90s mid-morning weather I was sweaty and blistered (my feet are not in heel-condition...yet.) Clearly, this midwestern girl still has quite a few things to learn about public transportation. So far I have been surprised that...

1. The buses are pleasantly air-conditioned. I don't know why I thought that they would be green-houses on wheels, but I was sure that they were going to be a sweaty mosh-pit of an experience. (Not like the overall effect was different after my walk...)

2. The bus drivers are EXTREMELY helpful and smart about getting around the city. I haven't taken advantage of this yet (clearly, by my described issues), but they even wake up sleeping passengers when it is there turn to get off (No, they aren't the friendliest alarm-clock, but they are efficient.) And I didn't expect them to be UN-helpful, but...well, I have been in England for crying out loud. That kind of stuff just doesn't happen. God Bless America.

3. People (well, one person) believe that if you are talking on your cell phone and just cover your mouth with your hand, that makes it less loud/distracting. (If you are wondering, it doesn't. It just makes you look ridiculous.) And I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, Lindsay, that woman just doesn't want you to read her lips (which I CAN do, so this is a good thought on your part. Well done.) HOWEVER, the woman is speaking Chinese (?! for the whole 40 minutes home!), and I can't read lips right to left, so she has nothing to worry about. (Ok, that was a joke...and a bad one. Sorry.)