Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Weekenders

My Friday through Sunday misadventures weren't worthy of a Saturday morning cartoon plot, but there were a few funny things of note.

Friday held a pleasant surprise with an invite from the sibling-in-laws for corn chowder. Bro-in-law can cook! And sis-in-law always has bowl-over stories about her medical school patients, (who remain nameless, HIPAA-lovers). This night was no fail, holding in store a lovely anecdote about a non-English speaking man who could only say something hurt, not what, and not while doing anything. So when the soon-to-be-doc ordered for PT (yup, physical therapy, what the hubby does), the therapist soon found out, "he can't walk; he won't walk." Nope, she replied. [PT husband shakes his head ... What would you rather have us do, Cary?" sis-in-law's friend and co-med student asks with a grin. Tell us what we should do in that situation, and we'll do it." {lots of laughing here}] Meanwhile, back in the hospital, the therapist moves the patient's arms and legs around, the therapist's head shaking.

Then this story comes out ... Earlier that day ... Cary heads to a slightly forsaken strip of homes to do some home-health PT on a man. Schizophrenic. Wandering around the complex a bit to find the right patient, he spots a guy, thinks maybe, and asks his name. Oh! You're the man I'm looking for. "I am!" His eyes widen. ["Cary!" sis-in-law says, you just freaked him out. Schizophrenic, not paranoid schizophrenic, other listeners toss around and clarify. "No, he didn't like that, I'm sure," she says. {Lawson family twinkle going all over the place here.}] Anyway, so this is the guy, and a strong dose of no-help PT later (since nothing is actually hurting him either, but some other doctor again ordered PT, ha)--and a string of conversations later that are to die for--Cary heads home to get paid for nothing essentially. Here's a sampling of that to die for conversation: Where does it hurt? / Well, I have a belly button, and there were these white cats.

These are the hilarious and brilliant people who make up my family, and it's only Friday night!

Just kidding, not much happened Saturday because I spent most of it sleeping or alone. Do you ever have those days when you could just lie in bed forever, or at least until your neck starts aching and your head feels too heavy and you've actually just been lying there awake for a while thinking about how you need to clean your closet and your bathroom cupboard so they're easier to maneuver... (It's sad when you open one dresser drawer, and they all slide out because the clothes are rubbing and stuck to the next drawer up, or you pull out a hair dryer and out comes a flat iron, curling iron, hair brush, hair gel, extra deodorant, extra toothpaste. Got it?).

So the Aly Sunday blues were almost nonexistent today since I woke to working storage.

Hip still hurting. Started on mile six of a 10-miler. Do 16.2 more? Ah, darn. Oh well, gonna try. One week 'til marathon day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Laptop, phone, room for one more?

Enough, Apple.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"These were the lovely bones..."

I saw this after a strikeout one night--sold out. I heard others seeing it the weekend after it opened--or not--sold out. Geeze, this is gonna be good, I thought. Well, it was only what I had once thought: interesting to see just how they did it.

Peter Jackson did it a solid. Saoirse Ronan is a freaky ingĂ©nue of course, akin to the likes of Dakota Fanning and Anna Paquin (TrueBlood, holla! Omigod, Comicon is coming and I can't believe I get to go; costume ideas?). Ahem, back to literture and film. Overall, it felt like What Dreams May Come minus the irritating Robin Williams and add the sadness of young, innocent girl life snuffed out. The family was well cast (good job, Marky Mark, and still cute), the "in between" was that of a 14-year-old's (which is so colorful and perfect you almost don't care it takes so long to get back to the plot you can more fully understand), and an aftertaste that makes you so scared for little ones of the hurt that can happen to them...

"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death brought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous lifeless body had been my life." 
- Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crinkly, spidery things

I had just sloppily cut my way through deep, steep powder with burning legs at the end of a ski day--descending a hill with a lift that ascends into windless, yellow clouds, and intimidation--and while the magical end-of-day powder exposure was surreal as mentioned before, Cary can't help but say, hey, your hair looks funny 'cause there's these crinkly, spidery little frozen strands shooting out from your helmeted head. But look at that grin! (Time to burn him a bit since he forwarded me this photo; still love ya, babe) World's longest sentence? Yup.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain and Snow, Suicide and Glee

Last week, more rain fell than Southern California knows what to do with, snow levels dropped, and Mammoth Mountain got almost 20 inches a day. What does this equal? Me needing a poncho and a boat to get around, suicidal thoughts, and then pure, freeing excitement and exhilaration as myself, Cary, and a hundred other people played in Mammoth's powder late last Saturday afternoon ... When they FINALLY opened the top after we had to wait for them to avalanche-proof the place. Sheesh, so inconsiderate.

There's something magical about the surreal silence and unhindered glee of skiiers and snowboarders playing on their mountain. Everyone laughing, everyone yelling, "I'm not waiting for you!" As Cary says, no friends or family exist on a powder day on my mountain...

Image credits:  Kurt Miller, The Press; unknown - forwarded via e-mail.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They Call Me Lindsey Vonn

Sike. Try about six inches shorter and hair about six shades darker. But we do have two other things in common; we love to ski and we're both girls. So that makes me a rooter for her.

Lindsey Vonn is a double World Champion and Overall World Cup Winner. A crowd favorite not hurt by her all-American looks and dream that hailed from Minnesota. Pro skier lineage and a family that moves to Vail to support that Fargo-accented dream, (wasn't sure of a Minnesota city everyone would recognize; movies help, huh?), does make things cushy, but the woman works hard. Of course. Like every other Olympian that sacrifices more than relishes. The fandom still stands though. It's nice to have athlete camaraderie the world round, knowing that when you're up at 5 a.m. in the dark or cold or rain or snow, sweating and freezing and out of breath and aching, just for the sake of a heartbeat, or you know, gold medals--good company in essence is hard to find.

I could be jealous that while I was fighting chronic nosebleeds on the rope tow, she was fluid free, taller, and blonder on black diamonds--but instead, I just admire. Besides, my junior high kisses on chair lifts probably outnumber her junior high titles. (wink)

Be sure to watch Vonn in the winter Olympics starting February 12 on NBC.

Foodie Books - Or the Lack Thereof

I tried to get into Michael Pollan, I really did. But Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation tainted me (the movie's okaay). It's like comparing a New York Times editorial to one in USA Today. Schlosser writes like he's serving me a small milkshake, short and sweet. Pollan writes like we're all super smart and care about learning more than anything. Go figure.

I haven't tried the famous first food hit In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, just the more glamorous sister, Omnivore's Dilemma by recommendation. There's a handful of previous books on other smart topics and also a new read, Food Rules. Omnivore killed me but I really wanted it to sustain me. I wanted to learn more info than a nutritionist in one sitting, and be gripped. Obviously this is not possible, so it might be somewhat my mis-assumption. But then how did Schlosser grip me and teach me and make we wanna spread the word? I think it's the manly writing, I call it (actually I just heard someone else say this too, so I can't take credit: Nicole on Hemingway - must try). Short sentences, storytelling, journalism. Not so many numbers and footnotes. Spread that s*** out. Fast food, cheap labor, and profit-driven compromises will not sink in for me unless you wrap it up nice and plain. Just my two cents.

Other Schlosser books I'll try if you do -
Chew on This
Reefer Madness
And a new one's coming out on the American prison system.
Hey, at least those last two are about learning and not just to help put me in the diet know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I was at Rubio's fresh mex the other day when they called the customer name Nick, so Nick could come get his order at the counter. And up walks this guy in perfectly slim fitted jeans and effortless hair, and a style so cool and calm. Nick, what a great name, I think. (He's picking through his order.) I mean Nick is kind of suave and cute at the same time, youthful and mature, maybe a decent baseball pitcher and golfer and good at math. It sounds sweet with my last name. Yup, that would be a good name for a future son of mine. He could be just like this fully functional human being one day... It doesn't even have to be short for anything. And then one day a future mother will hear it said and think, hmm, what a nice name. (Wait, Craig?) The guy is now saying this doesn't look like his order and did they say Craig over the intercom? No, Nick. Aw, crap.

Then while I'm mulling over how Craig could sound like Nick over an intercom, they call my name, Alice.

Monday, January 18, 2010

22 Chased with a Real Side of Fruit

After 22 grueling training miles that should have been breezier no thanks to a hip that felt like an 80 year old's and a knee that felt like my hamstring was trying to sneak around the outside and kiss my kneecap, a real side of fruit was just what I needed. Just look at that half-eaten combo of watermelon, pineapple, grapes, and strawberries!

Meeting two fabulously fun co-workers for brunch, I felt like Carrie on Sex and the City with a blog buzzing at home and the creativity of pulling from my husband's closet for clothing. (Actually, I probably looked a little misshapen in a T-shirt a size and a half too big, and honed the prattling of someone who could talk forever about TV, movies, music, and books, like that's all I think about ... Well, it is as a childless, sometimes husband-less, working girl--ahem, the Melanie Griffith kind). We concluded the happy meal with a garnish of jelly beans from the Costco jar, at which point I shared my new recipe for Jelly Belly apple crisp--green apple and sizzling cinnamon.

Normally Sundays mean bed-ridden rest paired with bowls of dry Life Cereal and glasses of Crystal Light, but with an extra day off due to MLK Monday, I felt a second wind coming on. Two grocery stores later (yes, finally made it to Trader Joe's, and for veggie pot stickers one of the sisters-in-law clued me in to; I always forget how yummy and affordable their stuff is), a replacement Shuffle tracked down, caught Up in the Air since The Lovely Bones was sold out (today? [sheesh, that line was long; good for them]), it felt like an accomplished and entertaining day. However, the burrito and Hot Tamales enjoyed during the movie may have permanently burned my tongue's tastebuds. Then I stayed up 'til 2 a.m. watching the Golden Globes. The coolest was Christoph Waltz winning best supporting actor for Inglourious Basterds. He was a flipping strange scary that General Landa.

Three weeks 'til Huntington's Surf City Marathon! See if you want to do LA or San Diego with me.

Oh hey, I figured out Squidoo a bit too, as long as you're perusing marathon Web sites. See what you think.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday bo Biday

The week flew by like a herd of turtles in water where they belong. We're up at Mammoth...again...which is always bittersweet for me since I love the cabin, village, people, food, skiing, and snow, but I hate the 10 car hours it takes out of my weekend.

mmm...a bittersweet chocolate chip cookie sounds good right now.

The whole trip just became worth it though watching Cary and the guys push his dad's new jaccuzi up a flight of stairs to get it to its final resting place on the cabin's balcony. I'm just waiting for them to fill it with water and watch it crash to the ground below. Pessimistic, pessimistic. Cary's mom asked his uncle how we would go about fixing that, and he said, well, if you break a 4x4 you replace it with a 4x4, and if you break a 2x12 you replace it with a 2x12 (those numbers are probably way wrong but it was hilarious).

Now I'm sitting here wanting to go see some friends at the Westin. * * * * Just took a break from writing to relay the story of the Running the Sahara film to the fam. Probably too late now to see the friends. We'll see.

It's been four days since my last post and that saddens me; work writing, story pitching research, errands, friends, and early morning runs, have made for a non-stop week. It feels good to have the days fly, but I'm exhausted and anxious about the 22-miler I've got with the Lopers Sunday morning. The hip and the knee are problematic--so is the sore throat that's creeping up on me. I will conquer. Ice and ibuprofen. Beats running across the Sahara, Aly. Just do it. And go enjoy the rest of your Friday bo Biday.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Best Christmas Present Ever

Well, after the laptop.

Costco + Cary typically equals an over-extension of the budget ... But this time, it meant Jelly Belly goodness.

You can come have some when I've eaten all but the black licorice.

I can't help but love these darn little things besides being vegan and having the horsey hoof gelatin in there somewhere.

I'd also like to take this time to recommend Costco. Even a minimalist and insano budgeteer like myself can't help but appreciate the gi-normous and discounted boxes of saltines and cereal, two packs of peanut butter and body wash, even the Go-gurt I wonder if Cary will really like...

We saved the coupons for the big screen TV, king bed, and leather chairs for a day when the cash flow flows.

Dell Latitude Laptop Finger-Lickin' Good

Monday's headliner is I got to really rev the new work laptop and take it for a full day's spin. After it was installed on Friday, I almost teared up at how fast it was opening apps left and right. Not to mention I had to restrain myself from hugging the technician.

Outlook, two Internet browsers, TweetDeck, iTunes, and zillions of Word documents and hours later, I was still zooming along and practically whistling while I worked. I feel like I had a great day when nothing especially wonderful happened. Well, I did manage to shove out a couple decent articles on the technology I help market along with a dozen or so other writers who seem brighter, wittier, and just plain too talented to not be working as full-time novelists. (But the world's biggest little mapping software company treats us well. Me like job.) But I attribute the smokin' article output to the finger-lickin' good keyboard, mouse, and Dell Latitude Laptop (consumer recommendation - okay, I should give it another day or so though but so far so good). Good technology is inspiring for an aspiring writer.

fyi - the key is a docking station. Need to reference a dozen files for an article while at home? No problem; your work computer came with you. Desktops and towers no more. Double monitors are also nice under the tree.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beautiful People and Squidoo is a new site getting lots of flack for it's seemingly shallow approach to dating. I can't decide. It makes sense kind of; Cary also pointed out that it could kinda contribute to the degradation of our society. Hmm. More importantly of course, I can't help but be tempted to try and get on. But not get it on. The current people on it, the "members," vote the applicants in or not. Maybe you see if you can, and then let me know. Yeah. That's much safer for my ego. But back to the don't beautiful people need a spot to network too point. (If they don't care about coupling up further down the totem pole, then they don't need this resource--and doesn't this make beautiful America more productive not wasting time with people you're not attracted to? I have no idea. It just sounds bad to argue that but maybe it's true; or maybe Cary's right as usual. Sigh.) Leave a comment perhaps. I'd like to get at least two comments on my blog this year. And you can't be my mom. Sorry, mom.

Squidoo is another site I can't determine what I feel about it. Marketing guru and blogger Seth Godin recommends it. I tried setting up a 'lens' as they call it. But I can't really see how great it is because it's a little hard to use and figure out the point of. But just like new CDs, maybe it takes a while to grow on you.

Running the Sahara

Last Thursday, Cary and I watched the documentary Running the Sahara about three runners who, yup, that's right, run across the great African desert--coast to coast. The journey chalked up to about two marathon distances per day (around 50 miles total) for 111 days (4,620 miles total the source says).

There was gravelly dirt, village paths, city sidewalks, sand (like running on the spines of dunes!), that desolate stone desert looking stuff you see in car commercials, lots of peanut butter, a little drama, one almost quit, everyone hurt, and the whole film was this pretty good insider look that made the feat so interesting, so astounding, and quite literally the documenting of three miracles. Those sponsors knew how amazing this would be.

Cary, a physical therapist by day, and myself, could not believe the trekkers didn't just collapse, knees, hips, and arches just plain done. A few other amazing things...
  • The runners consisted of men who look just shy of middle age, two recovering addicts who started running not long ago at all, and one a more elite runner from Taiwan.
  • The biggest guy had lost 45 pounds about 3/4 of the way through, the medium guy 35, and the small guy 25.
  • There were times when they running 12 hours a day, sleeping an hour at a time sometimes in a sleeping bag on the desert floor when the van pit-stopped (a great team that led the way with their car tracks) Magellan helped too.
  • And any guy who had to sit out a whole day would have to forfeit continuing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The fireplace exploded last night

All of a sudden there was a huge pop. And Butters and I were showered with glass. Well, more like pecked. Most of the glass in one panel of the screen just cracked and shattered to the brick slab below. Now our crappy, apparently un-heat treated glass fireplace doors match our carpet that was burnt last year when the wood shifted and spilled flaming debris into the living room. Again, crouched right beside it.

Speaking of things that go pop in the night. Lady Gaga rocks my world. Bad Romance sealed the deal for me.

Anyway, so then I'm telling my friend Matt at work about this, and his own fireplace story totally beats mine. He catches the reflection of his kitten in his fireplace glass door. What?! She's inside! He races over to get her out, and she goes running around the flames. Yup, there was a fire going. And apparently this fireplace is roomy. The cat then leaps out of the fireplace, smoking. But safe.

* * *

Before I was once again rudely interrupted from a writing interlude, I realized The Paris Review may not be the best place for a story I've been working on since I was 17; it was meant for Seventeen magazine, but now I'm too old to even contribute to the darn fiction contest--they did away with the cool consistent fiction column. Do our teenagers only need introductions to clothes, makeup, and acronyms like BFF, and not literary culture...

I went in search of something else to contribute to and remembered what Patti Petalson submits to in the Edward Burn's movie Purple Violets. The Paris Review. Another story perhaps. I need something 17ish. But may regret it.

Will check out the Writer's Market tonight.

Monday, January 4, 2010

We Should All Be So Lucky

‘Notes From a Writer's Mind' by Brian Doyle

(All day long) Money money money money money money girls money money money money money money beer money money money money money money money beer with girls.

(At a reading) How many people are here? Will they buy my book? Does the microphone work? Do I need the microphone if only four people show up? Is everyone here related to me? What if everyone leaves during the reading? What if no one wants me to sign a book? What if all these people are here to return my book? What if they throw books at me? Is the microphone big enough to hide behind? Is my fly zipped?

(At a reading with other writers) Who goes first? Who’s the headliner? Should I go first and get it out of the way and then sit and think about girls and beer or should I pretend to be the main draw? What if these other writers are poets and they drone on incessantly about their gallbladders and previous rafts of husbands? What happens in the question-and-answer period when someone asks a general question and there’s that uncomfortable silence because no one wants to be the assertive person who answers first? Should I jump in then and talk about gallbladders? I could tell a joke: there were these three gallbladders in a bar ...

(At an awards ceremony) What if I win and have to give a speech and can’t get a word out and my gallbladder falls out onto the stage and shimmies off into the orchestra pit? Should I stoop to retrieve it or just let it go where it will? What if I don’t win? Do I have to be polite and unassuming or can I stand on my chair and scream imprecations? What if I win and do like Marc Acito did that time, run down the aisle and run up onto the stage and trip on the top step and go flying across the stage into the stunned arms of the mistress of ceremonies? What if I win and get up on the stage and start laughing so hard remembering how Marc Acito flew through the air that my gallbladder falls out?

(Wheedling a publisher) Because this is the greatest book that anyone ever in the history of the universe ever wrote, except for “Always Coming Home” by Ursula K. Le Guin. Because this book is so much better than a stick in the eye. Because this book is way better than any of the other books that you have published, one of which seemed to be the confessions of a gay heron. Because Ken Kesey is deceased and someone should write wild muddled novels about rain. Because I bought the beer today. Because there’s a shred of a chance we can persuade Gus Van Sant to make it into a movie because you know his aunt’s cousin’s previous rafts of husbands. Because the market niche for novels written from the point of view of gallbladders is, shall we say, wide open.

(In the middle of any piece of writing) O my gawd this is drivel. This is the worst muddle ever inflicted on an unsuspecting populace. I should crumple this and go into insurance. I should cease to write forevermore. I should be a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas. Maybe the Mariners are on. I should eat. Maybe I should take another shower. Who will ever pay for this muck? This is worse than anything Jerzy Kosinski ever wrote, and what could be worse than that? My gallbladder hurts. Just one more cookie. Is that the mailman? How do you spell labyrinthine? Should I do the laundry? Hey, Ichiro tripled!

(At the beginning of any piece of writing) This is the greatest idea ever! I am a genius! No one ever had this idea before! What a great first line! Being a writer is better than a stick in the eye! This is so exciting! Those words were never in that order in the whole history of the English language! That’s incredible! That’s astounding! Now what?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Short Stories and Car Insurance

I was well on my way to hashing out how I'm going to organize my photography 101 assignment titles from college (the prof had a pretty creative syllabus) into a short story collection, when I realized I needed to get the mail after being out of town for two weeks.

Turns out the inspiration was rudely interrupted.

Now all I can think about is how most of our extra money presently is probably going to get sucked away by the car insurance coming due.

Maybe the short stories should wait. There are freelance articles to be written. Paid in peanuts but nonetheless.

In case this was on the depressing side, gave Butters a bath today. So cute. All fresh and clean after a 12 mile jaunt. She looks like she's walking though. A couple extra legs would be nice for a runner.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

First Ski of Season Proves Worth It

After an hour late start, I felt anxious. $87 later I felt regretful. Unfortunately, it took me 'til after lunchtime to fully appreciate being able to hold an edge, feel the sun peak out, and be well on my way to my bed, dresser, and morning run.

Hey, look at the difference in gondolas over the years. Brr.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Road Trip to Tipsy People

After 15 hours in the car, we made it to Mammoth Mountain just in time to bring in the new year.

The rain and fog and dark eerie feeling of black pines and neverending forests dissipated as we crossed the border into California. Hm. But to be fair, that's kind of like saying every time it's freezing, so much for global warming.

Each border stop asked about produce. It's funny to think an apple traveling south from Washington could be a problem. We did have a bunch of canned jams from Canada. If there's a fruit-related outbreak in San Berdoo, you'll know who might be responsible . . . brother-in-law.

Cary got out of a ticket and laser beams from his wife's eyes.

So, needless to say, even though a shower and a warm bed were calling, Cary and I hit the village. After being turned away from bars at capacity and invitation-only coffee shops--and turning down a $100 cover charge for five minutes to countdown--we got grace from the Westin, whose kind staff let us in no problem for some free food, champagne, and dancing. There were even horns, hats, and crowns scattered about for our use. It didn't matter everyone was at least 10 years older than us. So 2010 began with Cary and I remembering how horrible we are at dancing and not caring, and people watching. Which can pretty much be summed up as tossed watching. The bathroom posed an interesting place. A guy helping a girl pee, the towel lady threatening to call security, and some chicks so tipsy they couldn't explain exactly how addicted to coke their friend was and how much she needed them all in the same stall. I was happy to sit and listen.

New Year's Rez

Flossing. Staying in touch with friends. Running a marathon. Getting a motorcycle license. These have been my most recent New Year's resolutions--not much by way of aiding the journey to being a writer. Or are they?

The adventures are there, but the writing isn't. Every now and then I do some fun things worth reading about. Well, you can make that decision.

So maybe join me for a year in blogging, and see if I have what it takes to be a real writer, one who writes.

And you can be a real reader.

Try making it your resolution to read a few blogs regularly; check out my profile for some fun ones to start following.