Friday, June 30, 2006


FMIL and FSIL and I got pedicures in Portland. It was only my second ever pedicure. My feet are eternally disgusting because I spend so much time in cleats. I was truly embarrassed to stick my hoof in that woman's hand at the nail shop, to have her touch the rhinoceros hide that encases my toes and heels. Before our trip, I had been giving myself practice pedicures at home. I bought a kit and soaked my feet, scraped at my callouses with a pumice stone, stuffed my feet in lotioned socks. Nothing worked.

My foot artist told me not to worry because she sees awful feet all the time. She got out her skin shaver and scraped away until there was a pile of my skin on the floor. My feet are a whole new shape. I had forgotten that the majority of the skin on the outside of my big toes was dead callous. Today, a week later, I still keep staring down at the womanly feet I can't believe are mine.

I now have smooth, shapely toes and heels I would consider touching without gloves. It's so easy for me to convince myself that my feet needed to be ugly because the callouses were protecting me from blisters and aching feet. That's such crap! Every single human should treat him or herself to a pedicure immediately.

Imagine how happy everyone would be if the one most disgusting part of the human body could be soft and nice and not embarrassing. I can't even believe that a person such as myself, who can't abide wearing shoes or socks even in winter time, would not take more advantage of this fabulous service. Now, instead of walking around with Bilbo Baggins hobbit feet, I can prance around barefoot and not be self conscious.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Panic Attack

I was stressed out yesterday because the internet isn't working in my apartment. So I decided to leave nice and early and get to the boat house with plenty of time to row on the ergs and practice my stroke. I was driving along, belting out some Cher on the highway, when suddenly the cars stopped. And stayed stopped. For an hour. Because the bridge was out for construction and things were crawling along in one lane.

The only way to the island is via this little bridge off route 28 and I started to panic. I was watching myself start to cry as the time for the boat launch came and went. I was completely irrational, shaking, crying, banging on the steering wheel. I had set my little heart on getting in that boat and when it seemed the opportunity was lost, I freaked out. I was like a five year old child who isn't allowed to go to the movies. I wanted to be on the river, and couldn't. I didn't know what to do so I called Corey.

He told me I was being a big baby and went online and found me a new route to the island bridge. He's always so rational. Of course when I tried to do a 3-pt turn on the highway amid the crawling traffic, a police officer came to yell at me and call me an idiot, which didn't make me feel any better.

I still can't believe how drastically I reacted to missing my boat. I've missed airplanes before and been ok. I've missed rugby practice because of horrible practice and just been sad. But I've never had an actual panic attack like that before. Corey says that life is full of disappointments and I need to just take it in stride. This is coming from a man who can assemble a tricycle without saying a single swear word or reading the directions.

Anyway, when I finally reached the boat house, dejected and expecting to help the crew with the grill, a ray of light shone down from the heavens and illuminated the awkward heads of my crew, the last into the water and about to launch. I made it! All my upset washed away in a feeling of relief. I forgot my panic and prepared to focus and row it all out.

We were two strokes off the dock and feeling fine when suddenly lightning struck. At that point, I didn't have the energy left to care anymore. I just went home and helped my neighbor move furniture. Next week, I'm going to swim to practice.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Yesterday was a fantastic day. I finally got to see the rugby people after almost two months in hiding. Since I haven't been practicing this summer because of rowing, I have really, really missed my friends. We all got together and went to see the Buccos lose last night and it was fantastic. I discovered who mailed me the secret photo of me and my birthday pig. I wheedled free beer from the men's team. I met another Penn Stater (and you can never know enough of those!) AND I got to eat perogies and drink beer from left field while looking out at the river as the White Sox hit homers out there.

I spent the majority of the evening convincing my teammates that they missed the boat in not signing up for crew with me. The Tuesday night teams rowed past us several times and the ruggers asked questions and conceded that Team Rugby could have rowed better than those other schmoes. I just know I can talk them into it by next summer. And Corey, too.

Then, to cap off a lovely time, my bus was pulling up right as I walked to the curb! There was my 71A, sans crazy people, to speed me along home to my cookie pie. Just when I thought the day was the most wonderful of all fabulous Pittsburgh summer days, Corey gave me a present. He bought me a whole box of fortune cookies because he knows they're my favorite! I love that he bought me the cookies even though he doesn't support consuming partially hydrogenated oils.

Summer is awesome.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Vacation with Team FIL

Just got back from a vacation with Team Future In-Law. Future BIL lives in Portland, OR and we all converged there for a few days. The highlight of my trip was, of course, our visit to Powell's book store. What word lover wouldn't enjoy a four story, city block sized building brimming with books?

As we ran from the trolley car into the entrance and formed our game plan, meeting place, and bartered on the length of our visit, I realized I was born into the wrong family. My "birth" family doesn't really like to read very much. It makes me sad, like I have to look over both shoulders to make sure they aren't around and whisper "They aren't book people."

Two hours after team FIL entered the Mecca, we staggered out under the weight of our combined purchases, wondering if we were going to have to ship things home. We showed off our new titles, got excited for each other's new reading adventures. My current family would have dropped me off in the book store for the day and gone somewhere else, sending my little sister in later to excavate me to go get dinner.

This is not to say there isn't reading material in my native home. We have magazines and newspapers sprawled everywhere and every blue moon there's a book that gets my mom and little sister into the mood I'm in daily. But Corey's family is like Anne Fadiman's family. Each room of their house has tall built-in bookshelves and piles of books in various states of being read. We go out to eat together and scan the menu for typos. We have fiery discussions about books and then we all go away to our comfortable positions and read. It's wonderful.

If I can't have been born into book people, I guess it's a good thing I am marrying into them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


It occurred to me recently that not everyone is bohemian. I was chatting to my boss at the magazine about the best route to take from Pittsburgh to New York City. We bantered about turnpike vs route 80 for awhile and I realized with horror that my biggest motivation for taking 28 to 80 was the money I save in tolls that way. There I was in a cubicle telling my boss the best way to save $30.

The day before, I had proudly shown the designer my contraband postage pile. When I was at my other job organizing file drawers for the 77 year old lady, I came across piles and piles and piles of old envelopes from journal authors with return postage on them. My eyes lit up and I thought hungrily of all the submissions I could send with these gratis envelopes and stamps.

These are people with careers being uncomfortably reminded that grad students live on like $5 a month. I'm not whining to them every about being poor. I chose to go to grad school. Instead, I like living up to the challenge of finding ways to save money. I think it's exciting that I can eat a gourmet meal for free every day in the student union building after conferences let out. I love going to boring films hosted by the film society because they hand out free wine. I guess I just need to find other grad students for my frugal sharing sessions and avoid these conversations when speaking to people with paychecks.

I still think I'm allowed to be excited and share that the best thing about our new car is the wonderful gas mileage it gets and that we can put in the low grade fuel. The gas guzzling Maxima is nothing compared to the sleek efficiency of our silver Mazda 3.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Willowy Legs, Step One

I had another bicycle lesson the other night. I did slightly better this time, but still not stellar. For this trip, we drove to the oval in Highland Park where I learned that I don't pedal, shift, turn, or coast properly. I didn't care too much that I wasn't good at those things. What bothered me was my inability to ride with one hand. "Why do I need to do this?" I asked Corey, who was sitting up unicycle-style zooming around me in circles.

"Because you might need to do things, like get water and stuff." Soon enough, I realized my most important task would be to scrape off the layer of dead bugs from my décolletage. But I couldn't stay upright with one hand on the bike! I've spent four weeks this summer so far working on balance and stability in the gym and I can't even keep myself upright on a bike with one hand. I felt like such a failure.

I totally zoned out while Corey crouched next to me drawing diagrams with rocks. He pointed out turning radius and trajectory lines for turns, and I calculated how long it would take to get the bug guts from between my boobs.

Later, I was taken aback by how difficult it was to haul my bike into the basement. The weight of the machine combined with the narrow stairs and awkward moving parts made me very clumsy and I struggled hard core. "How do the other residents manage to get their bikes up and down so easily?" I asked him.

"What other residents?"

I looked around at the 4 (maybe 6) bikes in the basement and realized they didn't belong to the other residents. They were Corey's. All of them. "Are these ALL your bikes?" I thought the five bikes in his office were more than enough bikes for one man.

"They didn't all fit in the storage space." He smiled his little smile and cheered me on as I reattached the brake cable and hooked up the front wheel. Finally, his expectations and mine were in synch.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I Got IT!

I bought my wedding dress! I can't describe it on here because certain male members of my blog team might read about it, but it's hot. I think it might be the perfect Katy dress. Let me just say that a girl who spends so much time in rugby shorts (and now rowing spandex!) has a hard time feeling pretty and comfortable in an elegant dress.

This one makes me feel great. It's simple and almost plain, but it has just enough tasteful add-ons to make it stunning. Part of the reason I love my dress so much is that I feel lithe and beautiful and bridey in it. I like how I can bend and twist in the flowy material and I certainly don't need a crinoline to wear underneath it. Also, the dress comes in a petite, so they'll waste less material when they chop it to fit my stubby legs.

This dress was the first one I tried on, the one which beckoned me from among the marshmallow frills on the rack. I found myself comparing all the other dresses to that one, always finding something off in the others. I like how I feel wearing it, standing on the dias while my mom dabs her eyes and smiles. I like to think about wearing it to walk through the yard at the farm where Corey will be waiting to marry me.

When I have the dress on, I don't feel like a kid in a grown-up's body and I forget that I like to tackle people and do pushups. When I am wearing my new flowy dress, I am a woman about to politely tell the world that I love Corey more than anything else and want to spend my life with him. After I take the dress off, I realize how cheesy and girly that sounds and want to go pound out a few squats.

Even though it won't arrive for alterations for five months, I still like knowing I can go to the website and look at the gown and smile to think of it as the first official uniform I'll wear when I join Corey's team.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Howling Good Time

This morning, a very pleasant crazy man got on the bus. I've seen him before. He always offers his can of chewing tobacco to all seated passengers in case anyone wants to share. Like always, he sat in the front seat and turned on his boombox that plays a mix of Hari Krisna and Jesus songs. Like always, he started brushing his teeth and humming along to the music.

A few stops later, a really cute little boy got on the bus with his mortified mom. He told everyone he was five and had a microscope watch. Then he looked at the crazy guy and asked his mom "What's wrong with that guy?" The boy and the man stared at one another, contemplating. Then, the little boy started to bark at the crazy guy. Like Furbies, they set one another off with their yabbering. One would howl, the other would imitate. They were dancing in the aisles in no time, blinking their eyes and flapping their little Furbie wings.

Eventually, the boy's mother dragged him off the bus and tried to hide at Giant Eagle. The rest of the passengers just sat there and laughed into our magazines. The crazy guy went right back to his dental care. God, I love the 71A.

PS--I'm changing the blog title. When Corey created this site, he gave it a sucky title. Any comments or suggestions?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2 Seat

Oh my word, rowing is fun! I just got back and I feel like I am floating away. Every single thing about crew--from tipping the boat into the water, to getting in and balancing your oars, to stroking at exactly the same pace--is completely serene and fantastic. There is something inexplicably exhilarating about moving in unison with seven other people to move a boat. You feel like you are a part of something much larger than yourself, like you are in control of the entire universe as you glide along the river.

Never in my life have I been part of a mechanism that is so dependent on unison. If you thought you could feel it in the scrum when something is slightly off, you have never been responsible for balancing a crew boat. If one oar is a fraction of an inch higher than the others, the whole boat tilts to the side and nobody can row properly. Every member of the team is absolutely crucial to the success and stability of every other member. It makes you feel so amazing and special.

As in rugby, in rowing I am number two! I am in the second seat from the bow and I am the person that rows the boat when we drift too far to port. Because we were beginners and spent most of our water time sitting still listening to instruction, we drifted to port a lot tonight. I think I rowed more strokes than anyone in the boat. That's ok!

It's been so long since I have tried anything new (apart from moving to a new city and starting a new graduate program...and planning a wedding) that I forgot how refreshing it can be to learn a new skill. I can immediately recognize what would draw people to the water the way I am drawn to the pitch. There is something magnetic about that number two and team sports. Whatever "it" is that allows people to appreciate the beauty of athletic endeavors, I am sure glad I have it. I feel so great right now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


My cookie made me a bicycle and I rode it! I was totally scared and rode the brakes too much, but I did it. He was so cute rushing home from his 20 mile ride to whisk me and my new bike to the baby trail. As I struggled to make it on the nearly flat surface, he patiently rode behind me and told me how to change gears and where to put my fingers. We even rode across what I considered to be a rickety and harrowing bridge and I didn't get off to walk!

As I grunted and heaved and spat gnats, I kept looking to my left at his little smile. Even though I was cursing and growling, I was on a bike ride with him and it was awesome. He feels totally at home on two wheels, loves it more than anything on this earth. And I am completely terrified. Even going five miles per hour, I was desperately afraid I would tip over and scrape the skin off my legs. How does Corey find so much joy on a bicycle and the woman who loves him find herself so afraid of them? Perhaps a better question is what's wrong with me that I voluntarily participate in a sport where people deliberately step on my calves and pinch my nipples yet I am afraid to ride a bicycle on a recreational trail full of screaming children?

I still don't feel ready to assemble the bicycle and take it out on my own, but perhaps a month from now I'll be braving the three mile journey to work! Maybe I'm becoming like Corey and I will soon grow a foot taller, shed twenty pounds, and have legs like a flamingo. By the end of this summer I will feel totally comfortable in spandex as I gracefully ride my bike to rowing practice and glide along the river like a swan. I can tell!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chocolate Diet Continued

I was so worked up from the new Deadwood episode last night I had to eat another piece of chocolate cake for dessert. I also was forced to eat my chocolate pudding for breakfast this morning...forced by my inability to control my sweet tooth. I'm thinking that when I eat the rest of it later today, I should add some sliced peaches so that it will become diet pudding.

It's so interesting how easily I can let go of my great health plans for the summer. I joined an organic produce delivery co-op and a crew team hoping I would drive out all my unhealthy habits. I was going to run two 5k's, enter a regatta, and lift weights three times a week. By God, I would return to my collegiate workout regimen. Instead, I eat chocolate and work too much as my ass molds to the shape of my chocolate-stained office chair.

Thankfully, Corey built me a bike this weekend. Tomorrow evening, I will have either killed him or successfully pedalled away at least one serving of pudding.(ok, ok, frosting!) (A 24oz Gladware container counts as one serving, right?)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Chocolate Diet

My vegan recipe of the weekend: decadent chocolate cake with double chocolate frosting. This was, of course, my main course. Side dishes included leftover semisweet morsels and chocolate chip cookies. I obviously needed to ease my hunger pains by licking up batter while I was making the creation.

I was pretty impressed with this cake. I don't really think there is any need to use sugar or butter in cakes any more now that I've tasted how wonderful they are with maple syrup and canola oil. The cake is really moist. And chocolatey.

The FROSTING has two cups of chocolate chips, one cup of dark chocolate cocoa, and scads of vanilla with silken tofu. Probably the richest, creamiest, most delicious frosting I ever had. Ever! I don't know quite what to do with the leftovers. I might eat it like pudding with a spoon. Perhaps that can be dessert. I would freeze it for later use, but am scared what would happen if I thawed it back out. Consistency is very important to me.

I have eaten so much chocolate today of varying consistency that I keep finding it in fun places. Like just now I saw some on my forearm that I had to lick off. And in my ring. And under my nails. There's some on my elbow I had to rinse off since my tongue didn't reach. I hate to waste any...I can't imagine how crack can be any better than chocolate.

At any rate, you can find me later this week rolling down the hill on my way to the cardiac arrest hospital in Oakland.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Yesterday I cheated in most aspects of life. I was going to make a vegan dish for dinner, but stuck chicken breasts in the pan with the vegetables at the last minute. I was going to work out after work, but I went home and cheated on my dinner menu instead. I was going to not eat four cookies and various junk foods, but, as they were being given away free at the Peterson Event Center, I cheated and helped myself to four wonderful cookies AND some candy AND a brownie AND graham crackers. I was going to leave my face alone and let my chin zits heal properly, but I cheated and dug a huge hole in my face. I could go on forever with all the cheating I did.

Finally, around 9pm, I just gave up on my day and sank into the couch with a bottle of wine and watched Corey and LeeAnn play Katamari. Then LeeAnn brought coconut popsicles...

So today, I am making up for it all by over-achieving. I am going to stop perusing the internet and finish fact checking a day early. I am taking a new MFA student out for lunch and telling her how to survive in Pittsburgh. I am going to buy a new toaster and a new George Foreman grill and cook up more vegan burgers. AND I am going to finish my freelance assignment. All this before going out for $0.25 drinks with the ladies at 730. Oh, it will happen! I will have a successful day today!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Scary Chaos

I know why people don't try new things. Stronger than the fear of not being good at something and messing everyone up is the paralyzing, overwhelming feeling of not knowing what the hell is going on, where to stand, when to move, or if I'm even in the correct place. I think Three Rivers Rowing needs to work a little bit on "novice" organization.

When I got to the boat house, there was nobody at the front desk. The front desk person is your buffer between the world outside, where you are comfortable and know where to stand and the scary world of water, where everyone throws around nautical terms and runs about feeling comfortable in spandex. I stood in the very back of the room, observing these tall, lean people and hoping someone would see the look of terror on my face and show me where to stand.

Turns out, there were more unaffiliated novices at the practice than actual accomplished rowers with teams. The new people herded into the boat bays and spent an hour learning how to pick up the shell and then put it down. That sucker is heavy! Even with 8 people lifting, the fiberglass little sleek shell that skims across the water is HEAVY. We then went inside and used the "ERGS" to learn to row properly before they dropped the biggest scary bomb of the night:

The new people are expected to band together and form teams of 8 on their own! With no guidance. I am going to be picked last. I just know it. Nobody will develop as a natural captain, I won't make friends with these people because they will discover that I'm weird. I am going to be all alone, the single novice rower with no home team. I will float around that lobby each Wednesday evening waiting for a team to call for one rower.

Please, Jesus, don't let me be picked last for a crew team. Don't make me stand all alone and ask team spandex to let me join the back of their boat.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beaten by Beets

Last night I attempted to make vegan burgers a la Real Food Daily. Everything was going fine until I had to peel and shred a beet. I had never seen a real beet before in person. Is that pathetic or what? I didn't even recognize the brown, enormous leafy thing Corey brought me as a beet. How was I supposed to peel and shred that thing? For all I knew, it was as solid as a yam and the skin was as tough as pineapple skin.

So I did what anyone would do in such a crisis. I called my grandmother. Who proceeded to laugh at me for fifteen minutes. Then she told me what to do and off I went.

Only she didn't forewarn me that everything would become red. My hands. My knife. My cutting board. My Cuisinart. The mixing bowl. The spatula. The frying pan. The George Foreman grill. Everything. Red.

I called her back to report and seek cleanup advice. Lemon juice, as she suggested, pretty much did the trick. But I felt dominated by this new vegetable. Is it even a vegetable? It must be, because it grows underground like a carrot or onion. I will conquer this beet. I have three more left and am going to neatly eat them this week, by God.

Nanny has suggested peeling, slicing, and frying the beets in butter. She also likes to boil them and then spread butter on them. I see that butter is pretty much the solution to all my beet needs. Tomorrow night's side dish will be red and buttery and I will win!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Top 5 Insane Nutters I've Encountered Since Wednesday

5. The drunk goth guy on the bus this morning who applied eyeliner as we went over potholes and asked the suited businessman to his right whether he, too, had enjoyed 25 cent shots at the gay bar the night before.

4. Cat, from my bus stop, who never fails to ask for change or demand why I have no cigarettes lit for him to use to light his own cigarettes.

3. The short lady from the bus stop in Squirrel Hill who said "Are you Diane? You look just like her... God, I really thought it was you... Man, you look like Diane. ..You have that aura like you've lived in Squirrel Hill your whole life." Suddenly, a small Asian woman came to the bus stop who mysteriously also looked exactly like Diane. Hmmm...

2. The elderly black woman who saw my braided pigtails and told me I would look really cute with a weave and lots of braids with beads on the end, even if I am a white girl.

1. My boss, who has left numerous wild and raving emails, voicemails, and scrawled notes on my desk asking me repeatedly to help her open files, attach documents to emails, and other seemingly self-explanatory tasks. One question at a time, I am very calm when teaching this 76 year old basic computer skills. Piled up after a weekend in Philadelphia, these are the rantings of a nutter. I honestly don't think I can show her how to open a Word file another time today without stabbing myself in the ear.

My favorite nutty email from her: an otherwise completely blank email forwarded to me saying "What is the meaning of this email???" on which the entire editorial board was copied.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Organic Temper Tantrum

Our organic veggie delivery started yesterday. I was so disappointed! The crate was full of lettuce and herbs and a loaf of bread and that's it. In my mind, my table would heap with peas and rhubarb and carrots. Or at least a tomato. So overcome with sadness was I at the lost dinner salad that I had an enormous temper tantrum.

When Corey walked in the door with a bag of lettuce, I just lost it. Freaked out! I was so hot and tired and had walked so far and waited so long for the bus yesterday that I could not deal with one single thing going wrong. After yelling and raving like a madwoman, I ripped open the bread and shoved it in my mouth. That made me feel, if not better, at least less hungry.

This morning it is only 65 degrees and I feel much more excited about the lettuce. We also got fresh rosemary and a recipe for rosemary bread. Perhaps the light crate load is not the end of the world after all. The true enemy is global warming! What will I do if such heat takes over the world and I am forced to deal with my temper tantrums every day??