Monday, June 30, 2008

5 Steps to Emotional Health

Step One: Beef.

Step Two: New Gadgets

a) a baby gas grill b) a fancy schmancy 2 probe digital meat thermometer with a 120 foot range beeper!

Step Three: Find someone smaller than you to pick on.

Step Four: Buy Yourself Something Special - shop with a friend!

A) The Tobacco Company B) Sine C) Galaxy Diner

Step Five: Enjoy a Late Night Snack to Chat About your Feelings Regarding:

a) Superior Drink choices!
b)Inferior Drink choices!

d) Fried Pickles!

e) More beef!

Congrats. You are healed. Good luck with those arteries.

Close only counts in Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Narrow Escapes of Death in Richmond

My life is full of adventures and tales of glory - fighting the good fight, taking on the enemy, risking it all for knowledge of standing on the side of righteousness. And then there is the portion of my life I like to refer to as 'dumb luck' or this week as '#7 of my 9 lives' -- or to put it plainly, 'Kate Goes to Richmond and Tries to Stay Alive.'

Somehow each time I make the trek a mere 90 miles south, I enter the CZ - the Catastrophe Zone. Once there was the mystery monster flying bug in the bathroom that waited until you otherwise occupied to jump out and help nature along by literally scaring the crap out of you. Next time, while out on a Zombie walk, I was attacked by a giant (I think) flesh eating spider (or at least one with a wicked bite), had my arm swell up and ended up with a fever. I almost died, I swear. And then there was the time we were racing to catch a 6 am train and....oh wait, I didn't die...but someone almost did. (Hi Jen!)

Life with Jen is never boring - there's the endless adventures of hikes around Belle Isle, the never ending search for lost keys, wild exploits in parallel parking, and always going where ever the wind takes us - I always have a fan-damn-tastic time in the south with her. This past weekend, however, was nearly my last.

Jen needed to have her oil changed (and needed a good excuse to drive the other car that has A/C during the hot hot weather) and asked if I'd mind following her to the shop in one of the cars. I lept at the chance to drive a car! oooooh emmmmmm geeeee! A Car! And I was secretly hoping we could take the long way to the shop so I could spend just a few more minutes behind the wheel. Without even having to ask, Jen read my mind. But we didn't just take a spin around the block....ooooooh no, we took a trip down Old Gun Road.

Old Gun Road is a back road at its best. I'm sure the speed limit is about 15 miles an hour, but with all the curves and dips and turns and ups and downs, you really can't appreciate it going less than 40. And appreciate it we did. I was doing a pretty good job in my car keeping up with the Lead Foot Leader when we started up an incline. A poor sap on a bike training for the Tour De Richmond was huffing and puffing up the hill when Jen zoomzoomed around him and took off. I, naturally did the same, as safely as I could when I looked ahead of me and saw a Jeep. Coming towards me. And I swear to God, accelerating towards me. The biker was next to me and I thought I had enough time to increase my speed just a bit more and squeak in. barely. I was so focused on a) not pushing the biker down the 4 foot drop off the side of the road and b) not hitting the Jeep head on in a car that didn't belong to me, that I missed Jen seeing my life flash before her eyes. After I very expertly (and almost too late) maneuvered back into my lane, Jen called and texted me to let me know we were done with this little road trip. Apparently killing your house guest is against southern custom.

Sunday night, with not a whole lot to do, Jen decided to take me to her happy place. It's a lovely farm about 20 minutes from her house with lots of horses, donkeys, llamas, and the lone pig (who looked more tasty than friendly). We thought we'd take Jen's horse, Topper, and the other, very gentle and mild mannered and well trained horse, Snoopy, could be my trusty stead for the night. Walking down toward the pasture, Jen pointed out her adopted horse and at the exact moment we watched her mild mannered boy bite the horse next door. Hard. Hmmmm...he might not be the one to ride today. Ok, instead we decide to say hey to Snoopy and maybe just ride him around the indoor ring for a little while instead. Harmless, docile little Snoopy. Jen gave me the leader line as we walked towards the ring while she carried the tack. She tied him up to a 12 foot section of heavy metal fencing in a easy release knot and said "now, if anything happens and I'm not here, just pull this end of the rope to let him go." But why would I need to know that? He's so sweet and gentle!

I went to work, brushing him down, prepping him for his saddle. I finished one side and moved to the other while telling him just how handsome he is and he's not so scary even though he's fricken huge... Next, I don't know what happened but something spooked him.

Snoopy reared up a foot from me and started thrashing around. There was no grabbing the rope - I was getting the heck outta dodge. The moment I turned around to get back, he dislodged the entire piece of fencing and hurled it around, still attached to his bridle, right behind my back close enough for me to feel the breeze. Still bucking and thrashing, he turned and took off for the pasture. About 30 feet into his escape, the leader line broke, dropping the fence just outside the building entrance, with the quick release knot still firmly in place. He didn't run far and seemed to be completely calmed down. Jen grabbed a fist full of grass, offered it up as a peace offering and grabbed a hold of his bridal to lead him calmly back to his pasture.

There would be no riding today.

Thank heavens no one was hurt - even Snoopy with his wild outburst of gentility didn't have so much as a scratch to show for the tantrum. An hour later or so, after my heart had returned to a more steady and less frantic pace, and realized I'd dodged death or at least a severe maiming a second time in two days, I wondered if it was really worth it to put my life on the line to spend time with Jen. That's an easy question - of course it's worth it - but next time I head down for a weekend, I think I'll wear a helmet.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ponder Me This

On a scale of 0-50 pounds, how bad would it be to own this?

Is it wrong to pull my hair out while listening to coworkers wax poetic about the amazing acting prowess of Russel Crow in "Captain Ron"?

What is the statue of limitations on (still) being horrified when I run into I coworker whom I pulled on to the dance floor at last year's Holiday Party to show him my amazing sweeping abilities?

Is stealing and hording free food a bad thing or just good planning?

My boss just said "You and Kate are quite the dynamic duo" - does this mean my alter ego should expect to start receiving a pay check as well?

If someone offered to give you money if you donated your body to science upon death, who gets to spend your two dollars?

If I an employee is due in to work at 9 am, usually shows up around 9:30 am, but this day came in at 8:40 am, does this mean she can leave 50 minutes early? (Please?)

If someone tells you that you are the best grandma alive, but all of their personal grandmothers are currently alive, are you still the best?

Let's imagine your friend dates a boy whose name starts with the letter M, who turned out to be a Moron (an M word!), with Many Major Malfunctions (triple word score!) who you'd kinda like to Murder (yet another M word!) is ok to substitute his name in all conversations with Midiot?

Is it at all shocking to find the entire reason someone dumped you in a comic strip?

Should I be surprised that my life can be defined by a three frame comic strip?

Monday, June 23, 2008

There's No Crying in Baseball

Friday afternoon, a guy from Portfolio was roaming around the office with 2 tickets to that evening's National's game. I've been trying to figure out how to score some free tickets because although I really want to see the new stadium, I don't really want to pay to see the new stadium. And TADA! Just like that, I had two tickets in really decent seats for the game. Hello peanuts and cracker jacks! Ok more like beer and a Ben's Half Smoke, but details, details.

I spent the next
3 hours trying to find someone, anyone, who wanted to go to the game. Everybody and their mother had plans - dinners with dads and family members, colds/flus/plagues, birthday parties, weddings, etc. As a last ditch effort, I emailed my old roommate Favre, who had previously scored and shared free Piston/Wizard tickets, and I offered to return the favor with free baseball tickets. Favre works crazy long hours alllllllll the time and thus if plans are ever made with him, whatever it is we're doing needs to start no earlier than 9 pm if he has a chance of making it. So when I asked him to a 7:35 pm game, I was pretty sure he'd say no. But he surprized me - instead (at 3:15 pm) he said "shit shit shit shit shit... i'm swamped, but let me see if i can pull it off." At 7:15 I left a ticket at Will Call and he sent a text saying he thought he would make it by 8 pm - not too shabby. In the mean time, let's work on some snacks.

I double fisted some tasty
cervezas, finally got my hands on a deliciously sinful Half Smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl and headed down to my seat. And what a seat it was - right over home plate with a great view of the field. Next to me was a guy very very involved in Nat's baseball - and not at all pleased with tonight's pitcher.

Before the start of the bottom of the second inning, a special video montage started - and with it, the waterworks. The National's Baseball Franchise honored Tim Russert, who is not only a Washington and Political Icon but also a huge supporter of bringing baseball back to DC. From watching part of his speech during the inauguration of the team returning to the District to seeing clips of him on his various shows and in his various duties, I felt the tears starting to flow. As we all in the stadium waved our caps to celebrate the life and passion that was Tim Russert, all I could do to compose myself was think - "There's no crying in baseball, THERE IS NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!"

But really, the best solution to the waterworks is the Presidential Race - no not Obama kicking some old man tail, but the Racing of the Presidents. I, in true midwestern fashion, picked Abe to win it all. And did he ever - BOTH races, and by a lot. Farve, with all his polling experience, picked Teddy, who during the first race, spent his time at the bar rather than running his race. Good choice man, better luck next time.

In the end, the game was fantastic - tied in the bottom of the 9th, we ended up going extra innings - 14 total innings before the Nats finally pulled away with a win. Bottom of the 14th, with one out and bases loaded, you better win or we've got bigger issues than an alcoholic mascot to deal with. But they did end up being able to score the all important run to win 4-3. No more tears were shed and I was on my way home around midnight.

But finally,
for 10 points can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture?

Monday, June 9, 2008

From a trickle to an all out Waterfall

Back in April, I read Peter Sagal's blog about what makes a manly man like him tear up. I thought for a little while about what my list would be, casually thought about ripping off his idea and making my own list of "How to Make Kate Cry" then realized it would be an unbelievably short list, especially for a girl. Do I need to advertise my lack of emotion on the internet? Clearly, I do.

I'm not a big crier. Movies, music, good books, it takes a lot to get me worked up enough to really let loose. Once, in high school, I was hanging out with a friend who was introducing me to some new music. He decided to play a song called "Kentucky Rose" but before hitting play, he introduced it with "I never cry, but this song makes everyone I know cry. If it doesn't, there's clearly something wrong with you." I cannot tell you how hard I tried to cry during that song - but it just didn't do it for me. Joel was not impressed.

We're all affected in different ways and differently as time moves on. Movies that seemed so amazing and touching to me in college have much less effect on me now, but now I cry watching TV shows, something I never imagined I would do 5 years ago. My first year in DC, after my dad was diagnosed with Cancer, I lost it every week during "Grey's Anatomy" when the 'Meredith's Mother is Dying' story line was dragging out. And yet, I would re-watch the episodes, bawling right along with Mere in the supply closet, much to the exasperation of my ex ('if you KNOW you're going to be upset, why do you keep watching it???' "I don't know, I just DO!!!"). Watching "Rent" during that same year, I had to pause the movie to compose myself as Collins was singing goodbye to his love, Angel ("with a thousand sweet kisses, I'll cover you; when your heart has expired, oh lover, I'll cover you"). Seriously, snot, gushing tears, total mess until that song is over, and yet, I keep watching it and I c a n n o t f a s t f o r w a r d through the funeral scene.

Dad is on the mend now and everyone is healthy and happy, so thankfully my crying has definitely decreased to a more acceptable level. Kate the Emotional Rock is back. Even watching the "Sex and the City" movie this weekend, I teared up a couple times, but no Niagra effect on me, even while staring down all my worst fears and nightmares about single living/marriage/motherhood/etc.

Right when I'm thinking I'm back to being myself, TBS and all it's 'let's play a movie 4 times in a row and run it into the ground' glory happened this weekend with the killer of all tear duct movies - "The Family Stone."

"The Family Stone" is not a great movie by any stretch, but is solidly in the 'better than average' category. It has decent writing, a great cast, and an interesting (but overdone) plot. There was more political content thrown in than I expected, and good amount of eye candy, and then there's the last 30 minutes of the movie. Quick rundown of the plot: oldest darling child in well off New England family wants family diamond to give to girlfriend no one likes. Girlfriend pisses off every family member with her socially awkward/uncomfortable ways, mother of darling boy not only hates her but (surprise!) is dying and this is her last Christmas, which is only known by her husband until the very end of the movie. Let's just evaluate all the issues Kate identifies with here to understand her unnatural obsession with this movie: awkward girl faced with being alone forever, death of family member by cancer, perfect Christmas with SNOW, sister being constantly measured up (and found wanting) to her more adorable/well rounded/poised sister, being the outcast by trying to be helpful, and generally over reacting to everything/reading into everything/constantly playing worst case scenario/ etc. I could go on and on and on about why I identify with this movie, as painful as it is, but I think you get the idea. This is exactly the type of movie I should never watch. Certainly I should never re-watch it. And yet, I cannot turn away.

I saw on the On Demand menu the movie only had 30 minutes left before it was restarting. I remembered what happens in the last 30 minutes, and still turned to TBS to watch the end. Maybe I was testing myself a little to see if I could handle it now, or maybe I am just a glutton for punishment. As it turns out, I still can't handle it. As the final scene was starting when the family minus one was gathering around the tree, there I was, unleashing a torrent of tears onto my sofa, promptly turned from a strongly confident, emotionally grounded, independent woman into a blubbering mess of sobs and hiccups. Thank you, Sarah Jessica Parker, for opening up those flood gates.

Maybe I don't show enough range of emotion on a daily basis, but turn on a dying Diane Keaton and show me one scene of Coach and Rachel McAdams tearing up, and I'll produce enough tears for a year's worth of emotion. But now, it's time to go back to happy movies only. HAPPY. No death, certainly no CANCER. Time to rent Mary Poppins and The Incredibles and Fight Club to cheer me up. Yes, Fight Club. Nothing puts a smile on my face like Brad Pitt and Edward Norton with six packs beating the crap out of random guys and yelling "His Name Is Robert Paulson! His Name Is Robert Paulson!" Oooh yes. Happy, happy thoughts.