Friday, February 26, 2010


Kudos to my mom for starting a new exercise regime! She joined Curves and really enjoyed her first visit. I know how hard it is to try and stay active on top of real life, work, family and friends, and I'm really proud of her for making a change. I love you Doody! xo

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


As most of you probably know, Ash Wednesday, observed this year on February 17, marked the beginning of Lent. In the Christian tradition, Lent is the 40-day period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The forty days represent the time in the Bible that Jesus spent in the desert where he endured temptation by Satan. These 40 days are traditionally marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. In the United States, this has evolved into people often giving up a vice or adding something to bring them closer to God for 40 days.

Growing up a Southern Baptist, to my recollection there wasn't nearly as much of a focus on Lent and Easter as there was on the Christmas season. I converted to Catholicism in college and quickly realized how Easter almost outdoes Christmas in terms of celebration, tradition and faith (quick tip: ladies if you're Catholic and looking to make an honest man out of your significant other, plan on getting hitched the weekend after Easter because the church is already dripping in gorgeous, expensive flowers and you'd save a real load of cash). After all, Easter marks the day of Christ's resurrection, which is the foundational event of Christianity; it certainly makes sense. Now that Easter is more of a focus, so is Lent.

So after bringing you a religious history lesson, I'm here to declare what I'm "giving up for Lent" (in addition to not eating meat on Fridays...not a real sacrifice here):


Now for many people, this wouldn't be hard. My boyfriend, for example, is usually looking for a way OUT of partaking in adult libations (and he grew up in Ireland!). But I am convinced that no good meal is complete without a thoughtful wine pairing and Saturday night doesn't start without a splash of champagne to open up the palette (and I grew up a Southern Baptist!).

Day 7 and the alcohol-free lifestyle does have its benefits- I almost beat my personal best in a race in Central Park on Saturday, and this certainly can't hurt my indefinite goals of sensational weight loss. Not to mention, many times I'm not interested in drinking for the sake of drinking (book clubs, birthday parties, nights out, etc.) but don't want to be a party-pooper, so I settle for the headache at work the following day (you go big or go home in my book club). I do miss the glass of red at home after the gym, but this is turning out to be a telling experiment on when I really should be a more conscientious decliner...

That being said I have already decided which bottle will be my first on day 40. Chateau Villars, Fronsac 2004. But who's counting?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The cheese strands alone

So I was well on my way to preparing a quick post about tonight's new discovery: The Strand Bookstore in NYC (; in preparation I visited their website and was immediately greeted (and by greeted I mean peeved) by this picture:

With a caption reading "Did you know that Nora Ephron shot a scene from the movie 'Julie and Julia' at the Strand?" [Please see my very first post if you are unfamiliar with my strong feelings about this movie and any other sorry waste of time starring Amy Adams]
Well did you know that even though most people would consider me a hipster*, I only shop at the GAP? No you didn't, and I shouldn't go around advertising it because it only deflates my street cred.
*Cha right. I haven't left the house without pearls and rouge since I was 14.
Point being- the Strand is one of the, if not the, best bookstores I've ever seen. This is coming from a person who regularly jokes about extending the institution of marriage to include corporations so I can marry Borders. Aisles and aisles of new and used books, all at discount prices. And they have such an extensive selection that they have separated their literature and fiction sections. God in heaven!
Regardless of the fact that their media department could use an injection of prudish judgement, the place is a castle and worth a visit if you're ever in Union Square. Of course most people (and, I'd venture to say, all New Yorkers) already know this, but given that I spent my first quarter century in a rocking chair on the back porch, I'd say I'm catching up at lightning speed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run is journalist Christopher McDougall's first book. He lifts up the Tarahumara, a tribe living in the remote Copper Canyons in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, as the supreme example of why running long distances barefoot is the key to injury-free running and, ultimately, happiness. Being a runner myself, injury-free long-distance running would lead to ultimate happiness, so I thought I'd take the advice of some fellow runners (including my fabulous sports chiropractor from whom all blessings flow) and purchase McDougall's book with my weekly 33% off Borders coupon.
I certainly respect the journalistic way of preparing an article- picking an issue or event and sucking it dry for history, nuances, perspectives, summarizing it and presenting it well to someone who may have never been exposed. For the reader, it results in a thorough method of learning something complex in a short amount of time, depending on the quality of the journalist. That's why newspapers are such a great source of information- quality journalists. However, this is the third book as of late I have read by a journalist and I'm not nearly as impressed with their methods lending themselves to a truly enthralling, well-developed book.
Now let me disclaim by admitting that I haven't read any Hunter S. Thompson (SHAME on me and I'm moving him up on my list as we speak), but McDougall's book can only be described as an attempt at overly-clever gonzo journalism. And by "overly-clever" I mean he tried too hard. I like my "clever" subtly presented on a platter- there for my taking should I decide that the irony of the moment, for example, is hilarious or insightful. I don't like it spoon-fed. This is probably my most common criticism of mediocre writing. The protagonist interpreting something and articulating it doesn't make "it" clever. "It" should've already been there for the reader to chuckle at and remark upon. Does this make sense to anyone else but me?
Aside from McDougall's trite attempts at exaggerated humor and irony, the book was informative for runners. Running injury-free is a sort of elusive utopia. I have spent a small fortune and Lord knows how many hours of my life in physical therapy, with my beloved sports chiropractor, cross training, and everything else imaginable just to try and get back to that "first high" of a worry-free marathon. I should probably give up and come to grips with the fact that am old, the end is near, and my knees will never be the same. But what if McDougall is right- running barefoot (among other tips throughout the book- nutritional, training, etc.) is the key to utopia? Could my sports chiropractor possibly anticipate the amount of questions this has ignited in my mind (and now, on paper to bring with me to my next visit)?

Big screen survival tips

For the past two days I have been attending a conference for work. I won't bore with details as the following observations/comments apply to any conference or talk in which a person, or persons, are talking on stage and their image is simultaneously cast on a large screen(s) in order to make them visible to people in the back of the hotel ballroom. I prefer this setup for a 2+ day conference as it gives me more places to look, and multiple places to and from which I can dart my eyeballs and compare images while I should be paying attention to the keynote speaker. However, were I to be invited to speak at one of these events (highly unlikely as I wouldn't consider myself to be an expert on anything aside from perhaps knowing a little about a lot of things which, in itself, contradicts the word "expert"), I would absolutely refuse to allow my image to be projected on a large screen due to the following observations from the last 72 hours:

1. The camera does indeed add 10 pounds. This problem is only exacerbated when your image is the size of an entire ballroom wall.
2. A middle-aged Asian man may very well look like Michael Jackson on the big screen.
3. If you have a clown haircut, you not only look like a clown in real life, but also larger-than-life.
(To the right is an example of a clown haircut. Usually an older man who is bald on top but has large, frizzy, curly hair around the sides. In short, he looks like a clown.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First for everything

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

(RIP J.D. Salinger)

What do I feel like going into? Well I guess that depends on who will read this. Considering that even my priest is now on facebook, my virtual free speech has certainly been...err...chilled. But, come to think of it, not in the scary First Amendment kind of way- it probably keeps me from saying things I shouldn't online anyway. After all it is smart to control your virtual audience (particularly if you want to keep your quasi-important job in the big city) and, if you can't say something in private, you probably shouldn't say it at all.

So isn't the point of a blog to advertise your thoughts to some degree? Absolutely. But the anonymity can thaw my otherwise chilled speech and I'll embrace that for now. Which, back to my first point, probably means nobody will read my blog. I mean, it's not like I'm Amy Adams and, despite being one of the most annoying people on the planet, I can cook one French recipe a day and become a superstar. (First candid thought: that movie was terrible and everything Amy Adams touches turns to crap. The only good thing about it was Stanley Tucci's flawless portrayal of Julia's husband, Paul Child, who was obviously gay to any of us who actually read her memoirs.)

I just feel like I'm good at appreciating creative thought, good writing, and novel ideas. I read more than anyone I know. And I'm not talking about Nicholas Sparks (I'll stop there at throwing stones re: guilty pleasure reads...I did read the entire Twilight series and loved it). I'm talking about Salinger (see above), Austen, Rushdie, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Fitzgerald...and really feel like I absorb their thoughts and dreams on paper- I even borrow some of theirs for my own. So all of this reading makes me wonder...what would my thoughts sound like if I wrote them down? I know I notice things. Particularly moments, many of which are, in my opinion, writing-down-worthy. So why not write them down? I have kept a (admittedly on-and-off) diary since I was 6. And at the very least, I always love going back and reading them over a glass (or bottle) of pinot noir. Particularly the December 1988 heart-felt, emotional outburst of frustration that Santa Claus had the nerve to get my sister both a scooter and a bicycle after what I considered to be a shameless year of sub-par 4-year-old behavior.

So here's to trying a blog in 2010. Cheers y'all.