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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Costco, My Life

Today I went to Costco. Usually, I get a secret rush of happy when I think of shopping at Costco, even though it wears me out.

There's just so much stuff there. Stuff I don't even know I want until I see it. And even if I don't buy it, I just like to be aware of it, and to think about it. You know, to wish for it a little, for next time, when I probably won't buy it either.

Hey, a girl's gotta have dreams. I'm just being honest about my consumerism fantasies, here. Don't be judgey or throw rocks at me.

The truth is, I don't really buy that much stuff I don't need any more, since I'm always on a budget and my house is full of way.too.much.stuff. as it is. The other truth is, my usual Costco purchases are boring, and 90% the same every time.

So I'll spare you the list of what I usually buy (like fruits and vegetables, toilet paper, laundry soap, yawn) and tell you about the things I thought about buying, but didn't. Because that list changes with the seasons, the inventory and the phases of the moon.

Things I didn't Buy at Costco on December 29, 2009:
Dear FTC spies: none of these companies pay me in cash or prizes for what I'm about to say.
Dear companies: call me if you want to.

1. Dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from Brookside. I thought the flavors might be interesting, but couldn't figure out how you'd spit the seed out. When I realized there wasn't a seed, it was just pomegranate flavor inside chocolate, it dawned on me that the whole thing was candy, and I was not going to spend $9.99 on candy that I didn't need to eat. Walked away. Phew. Close call on that one.

2. InvertAlign Inversion Table which is a contraption (that looks all fitness/home gym-ish) you strap yourself into so you can flip yourself upside down. I have to admit, the whole thing is a tiny bit scary, and sexy at the same time. I mean...well. It's like standing on your head without the balancing part. Just look at the phraseology on the box: Adjustable nylon tether stops the bed at any desired angle of inversion. Features the NEW Flexion Bed Design and Easy-reach support handles with built in Traction Bars. And the best part: Medical Grade quality, tested to 400% safety factor.
See? Seriously safe. And Sexy. But it was $400, so I walked away.

3. Orange Roses for $14.99. I do like flowers. Especially orange ones and especially if other people buy them for me. I didn't NEED them. So I smelled them, appreciated them, then walked away.

4. Instant Facial Sculpting Cream from StriVetcin. Huh? This product stopped me in my tracks. Sounds very Twilight Zone if you ask me. Think about it. Costco sells a cream that sculpts your face? So if you put this stuff on your face, you can reshape it? Your face I mean? Does it dissolve your skin and your bones a little so you can push them around into a more pleasing arrangement? Wow. And look, there's more: It even reduces the appearance of “ear wrinkles”... those nasty little lines in front of your ears (you know, the wrinkles you ignore but everyone else gets to see).
I think she is having her face sculpted by a face artist

Again with the WOW. I didn't even know I had ear wrinkles. Should I spend $78 to reshape ear wrinkles? Totally walked away.

5. Silk Infusion Cationic Hydration Interlink Some of you may recall that I'm never quite satisfied with my hair, although I did like it when Rachel made me look like Sarah Palin once:

So I seriously considered purchasing this stuff to add to my overflowing drawer of other stuff I buy to try to trick nature out of the inevitable, natural 44 year old hair change I'm going through this year. But the word Cationic sounded too much like Catatonic, and even though my hair is old, dead hair isn't appealing. Walked away.

6. A baby. I saw the cutest 5 month old baby girl wearing a lovely pink argyle knitted hat stare at me from her mother's arms. I knew she wasn't for sale, but I felt a strong tug of maternal instinct and longing to touch her soft little cheek and talk her into a smile, and maybe ask around to see if she needed to be adopted or I should find another one to adpot, or maybe talk my husband into reversing his vasectomy, or something.

I squashed those feelings right back down where they belong, and bought a bag of dog chewies instead to remind myself that I bought a puppy last year instead so I wouldn't think of having any more babies.

And then, it was time to walk away from the baby and go home. So I did.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The One About the Book Deal

So a couple of months ago a brilliantly smart literary agent from New York emailed me out of the blue. She said she'd been reading my blog, she enjoyed my writing, and would I be interested in writing a book?

Yes, I said. Yes, yes, yes. I am interested. I was born interested in writing a book.

Me in front of the house I'll buy with the never-ending royalties I'll earn from my book of hilarious chubby sports stories

In fact, back in 1974 when I was deep into my "Little House on the Prairie" phase I told people I was going to be a writer when I grew up. My mom said writers didn't make a lot of money, and maybe I should think of a back up plan, just in case.

So I eventually went to college and got degrees in Fine Arts and English. Then I taught drama for a while, and then through a series of unrelated events I've ended up being a self-proclaimed Twitter Maven who makes weird videos with her mannequin.

I fail at backup plans, apparently.

My mom also told me that Laura Ingalls Wilder was dead, when I said I needed her address so I could write her a fan letter. Hey, before you get all huffy, my mom isn't a dream killer, she's just practical.

So when the pixie dust wore off that first email the agent sent (I should really print it out and frame it...maybe send it to my mom for Christmas?) I sent her an email back that said "I want to write a book, but I can't figure out what to write about. Can you help me?"

Yes, she said. I'll help you, which made me so happy that I decided I need to go out and buy her a present. Which I will do. Soon.

And so began a series of emails flowing with ideas and sample stories sent off for her review, and honest answers and enduring patience (on her part.) After a few tangents and round-abouts, we came back to this blog and the funny little fitness stories, which aren't always about the actual thing I'm writing about, but about the bigger things I'm thinking about.

Finally, I came up with an idea she thought might fly, and she said I needed to write my first three chapters so she has something to start pitching to a publisher. She's sold a few best sellers and she seems to know what she's doing (of course I Googled her.)

This will be a piece of cake, I thought. I'll have those chapters done in a week, and then she can sell the book by Christmas, and then I'll plow through the rest of the chapters in a month or so, and then I'll see my finished paperback at Costco this Spring. No sense dragging this whole thing out.

And wouldn't it be funny if I don't tell my family about the publication date, but I just casually say to the kids when we're at Coscto buying huge bags of broccoli, "Let's go look at the new books...oh my goodness! Look at this, it's MY book!" and then I'll buy 100 copies and hand them out at Thanksgiving and as door prizes at Tweetups.

Well, it turns out this whole writing a book thing is harder than it looks. I worked on one chapter for days and days and it's still not right. It's just not that funny.

I gave it to a friend to read and she said she liked it, and that it was kind of David Sedaris like. I'm going to buy her a present just for saying that, but the truth is, it's NOT Sedaris-like. At all. Because it's not funny. And it's sort of boring. And it's driving me crazy, trying to fix it.

So then, another friend who's published a few books of his own said "Stop writing that chapter! Move on to the next one. Maybe it will be funny." Which was very smart advice, so now I have to buy him a present too. And I also have to start writing that chapter. Which I will. Soon. Maybe after I finish this post, even. Or tonight.

I realize all these presents I have to buy are eating into my future advance that I may or may not get, for a book I have not written, that may or may not get sold. But they're worth it, I think, because if I don't get feedback from people, this book will just sit in the back of my brain forever.

And one thing I've learned so far is there's no way anyone, even a brilliant agent, can sell a book that is just a series of nice little ideas in my head. I have to write them down. So I have to keep trying, not crying. It's like saying I'm a runner, but not actually running. Eventually, someone calls me on it, and I put on my shoes and go. And voila - more blog fodder.

Also, I've learned that David Sedaris is doing the rest of us writers a disservice by making it look so easy. I mean, sure, he has much better material to work with than I do (if I were a gifted, Greek, angsty gay man living in New York City and Paris with a lovely partner named Hugh, this book would be much easier to write, believe me) but when you read his stuff, you think "Hey, he just sat down and started talking into his typewriter and now he's selling millions of books, how hard could it be?"

Thanks Mr. Sedaris. Thanks a lot. You're so not helping me and my fragile writer ego, here. But if you can give me some pointers I will definitely buy you a present, too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ready to Ride: Francine's First Snow Storm

As many of you know, Francine grew up in Los Angeles, and then spent many years stuck in a back room in Springfield, Oregon.

Today, we are having a blizzard in Bend, and it occurred to me that she's never seen snow.

I figured I'd better let her experience it, since there is talk of her going snowboarding soon, for a video shoot. She's a great model, a fine actress, and a good sport, but it's important that she doesn't go in to a new situation "cold," as they say. She needs to understand her surroundings in order to find her motivation.

As her agent and her friend, I needed to see how snow would affect her skin, since she's not really water proof (no synchronized swimming films for her, sorry). I also wanted to make sure she can actually wear boots. She can.

Francine was quite interested in the snow, and thanks to this fabulous Betty Rides coat of my daughter's (from several years ago, these coats never wear out!) she stayed warm and dry.

Except for her face, where the snow hit it. It melted the word of the day on her cheek. So she may wear goggles next time, and perhaps a ski mask, depending on the weather.

Guess what the word was?

Friday, December 4, 2009

International Hopscotch Society

In my ongoing quest for fun fitness options, I decided we should all play hopscotch.

Sometimes my brilliant ideas just hit me all at once, for no logical reason. This is one of those ideas. Probably.

Although maybe reading the word hopscotch (randomly) on the Internet today caused my synapses to fire up and think: "Hey, hopscotch is fun. It's aerobic. There is hopping involved, and Scotch, maybe."

So I said "Who's in?"online, and my cousin Amy, who was super busy at work, apparently, answered back "I am!" so the deal was sealed. She's heading up the Portland, Oregon chapter. And then someone from Florida said yes, then some guy from Idaho, and, well, you know...

Amy is a good sport

One thing lead to another, and within 45 minutes, I had managed to talk my husband into driving me downtown because I had a strong memory of hopscotch courts (are they called courts?) being down there by the City Hall swing sets, but when we got there, lo and behold, there were none.

In fact, there wasn't even much pavement, just grass and some sand. And swings. But I'm not starting a swinger's club. Trust me on this.

"I distinctly remember hopscotch, near an old brick building...I swear it!" I said.

"Maybe that was in a different city?" He offered helpfully, but I knew he was exasperated already. "And why are we doing this again? And how long will this take? I have some programming to finish. I'm almost done. I want to finish my project today..." blah blah blah.

"Shh," I said. "There's gotta be a school around here somewhere. We just need a few pictures...for my new blog. And Twitter. And Facebook. I'll be quick, promise."

"I'm not going to a school playground with a camera to take pictures while kids are at recess," he growled, "I don't think we're allowed."

"But we can just tell them this is for the International Hopscotch Society! It will be fine!"

And then he started driving home. Which made me sigh with exasperation, and think of phrases like "You never help me. Every thing's always about you. You're no fun. You never let me do what I want..." but of course none of these things are true. At all. And I know it, and he knows it.

Because I actually have a vintage mannequin with customized steel rods in her legs and a rolling stand that weighs 50 pounds, which he has personally loaded in and out of the car and driven to the airport so I could take her to Las Vegas to see a concert, standing in our living room right this second, and she happens to be dressed in the Star Trek shirt he got when he was a kid in the 1970's, the beloved shirt his mom saved for him all these years, and when she found it in a box after she moved, and brought it over, he handed it to me and said "Francine should wear this."

Because, you know, he thought it'd be funny. Because it is.

I think he heard my unspoken thoughts right there in the car, because he said "can't you just go to our kid's school after school? They have hopscotch there, and then, you know, you wouldn't embarrass him...he'd be home."

"No." I pouted. "I have a meeting this afternoon and the light will be all wrong by 4:00 for pictures. Just take me home, I'll try to come back, somewhere, and take pictures of myself doing hopscotch. Somehow."

So then he did roll his eyes and turned the car around, and we drove slowly by two of the closest school playgrounds to see if they had hopscotch, but they didn't. And luckily, all the kids were safely back in their rooms, so we did not attract any playground stalker attention. Because that would be bad PR for the newly formed International Hopscotch Society.

"Wait!" I said with a burst of inspiration. "We have chalk at home. I'll just draw my own hopscotch on the sidewalk! Sheesh, why didn't I think of that before?"

And so we did drive home, and I found some lavender chalk, which doesn't show up on light gray very well, but beggars can't be choosers.

So, now there is a blog and all kinds of social media promoting this new International Hopscotch Society, which means it's real, and all of you should join.

And if you don't have a court, draw one. And if you don't have chalk, or it's too cold outside, get some masking tape and make one inside. Invite your friends and neighbors, and hop around together. And then send me the pictures and videos at julie anderson at hotmail dot com or post them on the Facebook page, and we will appreciate each other and celebrate hopping and scotching.

It is sort of sexy, really, if you think about it, all that hopping around and drinking scotch...but please don't send naked Hopscotch photos or videos. I don't think they're allowed. I'll check the rules.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Amazing Finger

I'm so proud of the middle finger on my right hand. I burned it on a hot pan last week, and it hurt so much, I thought I might faint.

It was one of those deep burns, several degrees burned, I'm sure. I'm not sure how many degrees though. A doctor would know, or a nurse, but I never asked one. I just looked at my finger 20 times a day and said ow, ow, ow.

And I never once told it I was sorry.

My finger just quietly did its job, though, without complaining. It didn't pretend it couldn't function. It didn't call in sick. It kept working, typing, doing dishes, and helping all the other fingers do their jobs.

Then it just started regrowing skin. It looked horrible for a while, turned a bit yellow and oozy, and it scared a few children, but that didn't stop it from growing a little bit of new skin every day.

Now there's just a small, red mark where the gaping, painful wound used to be. I'd say by Friday, I won't even be able to see where the burn was. And soon I'll forget the memory of the pain. And I know my finger will never mention it.

So I'd like to publicly thank my finger, for doing such a miraculous thing so humbly and graciously, without complaining or reminding me how stupid I was to touch a hot pan.

I wish I could be more like my finger.

***By the way, this is a picture of hand soap! I found it here.