August 2010 Archives

I spent the weekend with my parents and my 4.5yo nephew, Monkeyfish, and it was all kinds of awesome.

  • We baked cookies
  • We played Lotto (because he's too old for Candyland and Chutes & Ladders BREAK MY HEART NOW WHY DON'T YOU KID)
  • We blew bubbles
  • We played trains
  • I made him French toast with fresh strawberry syrup for breakfast
  • We read stories (OMG the stories!)
  • We danced to the Blacked Eyed Peas (which, for the record, my nephew knows all of the lyrics to I Gotta Feeling)
  • We swam
  • We played bus
  • We went to the county fair and rode every ride in Kiddieland at least twice
  • We ate hot dogs and fries
  • We played Uncle Wiggly
  • We went to the playground and went down the slide
  • We shared ice cream (chocolate vanilla swirl with rainbow sprinkles to be specific)
  • We watched Bob the Builder*
  • We went on a picnic
  • We playyed tag
  • We laughed
  • We hugged. Alot.

Like I said - the weekend was awesome.  For 2 days I got to be Aunt Rougie. For 2 days I was at Monkeyfish's beck and call:

"Aunt Rougie, let's play trains."

"Aunt Rougie, can you read me a story?"

"Aunt Rougie, can you sit in the back with me or do you have to sit up front?"

"Aunt Rougie, will you go on this ride with me?"

And you know what? I loved every minute it which made me think that maybe I might be cut out for motherhood after all. But until then, I am very content being the world's best aunt to the world's cutest little boy:

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PS Do you all know about The Clap thing?  After lunch on the first day I helped put Monkeyfish into his carseat. I was all kinds of proud for getting him in and buckled properly thinking to myself, this parenting thing ain't so hard and I shut the door to the car when my parents both shout in unison: THE CLAP. YOU DIDN'T ASK HIM TO CLAP. And I'm all, What the hell? So yeah. As it turns out, in an effort to avoid getting nursery school sized fingers caught in very large car doors you are supposed to have the child clap to ensure that hands and door are nowhere near each other.  Whoops.

PPS To those of you with kids, I don't know how you do it day in and day out.  Two days of Monkeyfish (with a lot of help from mom and dad) and I was exhausted.  So gold stars plus lots of caffeine, chocolate and booze to all of you parents out there. You deserve it! 

* So yeah - those of you with the children? How do you not want to stab yourself in the cerebral cortex when watching children's programming? I am scared to think of what might happen if I had to sit through Yo Gabba Gabba....

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First of all - I am totally blown away by the generosity of friends, family and readers. I sent a private email to a few folks on Sunday, announcing my intention to participate in the Komen Race for the Cure on October 2nd.  On Tuesday, I published this post. As of this morning, I have raised $870 which is well over my original goal of $750 and 91% of the way towards my revised goal of $950 with 35 days left to go. I have felt warm and fuzzy all week knowing that so many people are willing to support me in my efforts to support Komen.  We'll file this under E for Encouraging.

The running on the other hand? Gets filed under Discouraging with a Capital D.  As I mentioned, I ran my first 5k inareallylongtime a week ago on the treadmill at the gym. My time was 26:48. Monday morning before my trainer, I ran another one. My time was 26:50 - 2 seconds slower despite starting out at a faster pace.  Wednesday morning, when my alarm went off at 6am, I wanted to hit snooze and burrow back down deep under the fluffy white comforter swathing my giant, king-size, cat-free hotel bed with, but with $785 already raised, I felt like getting my ass to the gym was the better part of valor.  

Worst run of my life bar none. 

After the first mile, running at the same 6.9 pace I am used to, I was dying. I finally decided it was because I had no water and so I paused and drank some and then got back on and restarted.  But no matter what I did, I couldn't find my rhythm nor could I find any energy and all I wanted to do was quit. And then I felt like an asshole because when someone with breast cancer is going through chemo and/or radiation, and they're sitting there puking their guts out, and they feel like death not even warmed over, they don't get to quit. They have to suck it up and power through if they want to beat the disease. So who the Hell am I to crap out after 1.5 miles into a 3.1 mile run? What does that say about me and my strength?

I waged an inner battle with myself for the entire run. I'd say: "You can do this Rougie. You have to do this Rougie," and then I'd be ready to collapse and so I allowed myself to slow my pace to 6.5.  Then 6.3.  Eventually I slowed to a walk - several times. And then I felt like an asshole so I'd pick up the pace. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For over 28 minutes. 

I tried to justify my struggle. I was running on a totally empty stomach.  I didn't have water. It was hot in the gym. I'd had no caffeine.  Maybe rolling out of bed and onto the treadmill was a bad idea. Maybe I need to train in the afternoons when I've had nourishment and caffeine and my energy levels aren't negative 67.

You might be wondering why I am being so hard on myself. Well, once upon a time I could sustain an 8-minute mile pace for at least 3 miles. Once upon a time I could sustain an 8.5-minute mile pace for almost 10 miles. Once upon a time I ran a half marathon in 1:59:48. Once upon a time I was a running badass. Now, I am a running lameass and it bothers me. 

I know I have 35 days left. I know that I can't make a lot of snap judgements based on 3 runs in 1 week.  And somewhere deep inside I know that it doesn't really matter.  My finish time means nothing to anyone but me.  I don't raise extra money if I finish faster. I don't have to give money back if I finish slower.  The primary goal is to raise money and raise awareness and I've done both.  

It doesn't mean I am giving up my promise to try and run faster.  I plan to continue getting to the gym and getting to the track a few times a week to keep practicing. I plan to run speed drills even though I detest them.  I plan to work as hard as I can to try and meet my (extremely lofty) goal.  But if I fall short, I am not going to beat myself up.  I am still going to be proud of whatever it is that I have accomplished.  We'll file that under P for Progress.
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I work in a male-dominated industry however I have never subscribed to the theory that I have to dress like a man in order to be taken seriously. I prefer dresses to pants, sweaters to jackets, and I am not afraid to wear color. In fact, if you look at my closet the pinks and the greens and the blues and the prints definitely outnumber the blacks and the grays. 

Fortunately for me, we live in an age of business casual which means I can wear a brightly colored shift dress, a cardigan and open toe heels (no pantyhose) and still be dressed appropriately. And for the last several years that's exactly what I have done without any reprecussion or consequence.

However the nature of my job is changing and it's been suggested that despite the fact that I always look stylish, perhaps I want to re-evaluate my work wardrobe. I want to clarify that this suggestion was made in the absolute nicest way possible and that I did not take offense so you shouldn't either.  It's not about being well-put together. We're all agreed that I have that down. But I am well-put together in a fun-loving, semi-casual kind of way (or sometimes a Mad Men kind of way), and I need to add a drop of elegance and a dash of tailoring to my wardrobe. 

So Saturday morning I spent several hours shopping on-line looking for work clothes that were more conservative and elegant than I am used to without being stuffy because let's face it: I am never going to be a boxy, black pants suit kind of girl (and for the record, no one is asking me to). Here's what I came up with:

     

Super 120s Caryn dress

The nice thing about J. Crew is that their color palette is fairly neutral so I wasn't distracted by the chance to get this dress in, say, Kelly green.  I opted for classic black figuring that I could always jazz it up with some playful accessories.

 

Super 120s classic pinstripe banquette dress

Since I finally found the perfect navy Kate Spade Mary Janes a few years ago, I am all about the navy in my wardrobe and what could be more classic than navy pinstripes?

 

Pebble jacquard pencil skirt

I love this camel shimmer skirt although I don't know how shimmery it actually is which means it may get returned because sparkly is not exactly conservative. However I am hoping that it's a subtle sheen because the cut is beautiful and I think it would look darling with a black turtleneck sweater, black tights and a skinny belt.

 

Vanishing Vixen Dress

This is one of those dresses I wasn't sure about.  It certainly looks conservative in terms of the dark colors and the cut, but the bow is on the playful side.  Then again, I am on the playful side and my personality is always going to shine through so this dress might in fact be the perfect combination.

Style Me Now Dress in Navy

This dress also came in red. I wanted to order it in red. But instinct told me that this dress in red was sexy while this dress in navy might be passable for work.  (See also: I have the world's most perfect navy Kate Spade Mary Janes)

I called it a day after these 5 purchases (although there were 2 dresses at Ann Taylor I liked as well as a dress/jacket combo ON SALE at Trina Turk) because it wasn't exactly shopping for $39.99 dresses at Target.  But I look at it as an investment: an investment in my career which frankly, is going beyond well. In fact, I have never been more confident in my potential for true professional success. And now I will be appropriately dressed for success as well.   

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Usually I sit on the sidelines.  Usually I don't get involved.  I don't know why because I know women who have been affected. I should want to contribute. I should want to help. I should want to make a difference.

So this year I am. This year I join the more than 1.3 million who participate worldwide and on October 2nd I will lace up my Mizunos and do my part. This year I will race for the cure.

Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, after skin cancer, representing 16% of all female cancers. The rate is more than twice that of colorectal cancer and cervical cancer and about three times that of lung cancer. Mortality worldwide is 25% greater than that of lung cancer in women, and in 2004, breast cancer caused 519,000 deaths worldwide (7% of cancer deaths; almost 1% of all deaths).

With statistics like these, you probably know someone who has been affected.  Maybe a relative. Maybe a friend. Perhaps someone you work with. I know several woman who have fought this disease, and I feel fortunate to say that their stories have happy endings.  They have won their battles - although there are no guarantees that there won't be more rounds fought in the future.

Which is why I am racing for the cure.

I am racing for my Fairy Godmother because my world doesn't make sense if she's not in it.

I am racing for Ciel because she still has more adventures to live and more stories to tell.

I am racing for women I've never met who have children to raise and differences to make and lives to lead and wonderful things still to create.

I am racing for those who weren't so fortunate. I am racing so that others don't have to bear the same pain.

I am racing for them and I am racing for me because I am at a risk. As a non-child-bearing woman over the age of 35 with a family history of ovarian cancer, my odds of contracting the disease increase.

I have 2 goals for my participation in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure:

  1. I have set a personal fundraising goal of $750 and I am asking friends, family, & coworkers to support me in my efforts.  So far I have been touched by their generosity and I feel hopeful about meeting my goal.
  2. Once upon a time I was a runner (to the tune of finishing a half-marathon in 1:59:48). And then I stopped running.  Well when I was registering for the Race for the Cure, they asked me if I wanted to walk or run in the competitive 5K and me being me i.e. ultra competitive, I decided to go for the 5K which means I am back in training.  On Saturday I ran 3.1 miles on the treadmill and finished in 26:48 (and nearly coughed up a lung in the process). I have approximately 40 days to shave almost 2 minutes off my time because my goal is to finish in 25 minutes or under.  It's an ambitious goal but everytime I log into my participant center and see another donation, I am that much more motivated to get my ass to the gym and hop on the treadmill.    

It's about time I stopped sitting on the sidelines, and I am proud to be participating and doing my part to make a difference. 

PS If you would like to support my fundraising efforts email me and I can give you instructions.   

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Electricity freaks me out (it probably has something to do with my totally unnatural fear of spontaneous combustion) so whenever there is any electrical work being done at my house, my already high levels of neuroses tend to climb even higher. 

The work in question was cosmetic: simply replace several old, dark brown outlets and light switches with new ones that are shiny and white.  This is not a complicated process and truth be told, it doesn't actually require an electrician - just someone with a working knowledge of electricity. Fortunately for me The Angel's son, D, has more than a working knowledge of electricity (although he is not technically an electrician) and when I moved in a year ago he was kind enough to swap out about half of the ugly brown outlets and switches.  This was basically the second half and oh gee the timing couldn't be better since it's the half that's recently been redone.

Because no one has ever taken the time to label the breakers and indicate which areas of the house they are connected to, D and I had to start randomly flipping switches in order to power down the right rooms.  Flipped the first switch off. Nothing happened.  Flipped it back on.  Flipped the second switch off. Nothing happened. Flipped it back on.  Flipped the third switch off. Nothing happened. Flipped it back on. AND THEN HALF OF MY HOUSE WENT DARK. Yes flipping the switch off? Nothing. Flipping it back on? Every single light went black, every single ceiling fan stopped spinning and OMG THAT'S NOT HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK. And what's worse, no amount of switch flipping seemed to make things right.

Cue panic attack and massive melt down.

D assured me he could figure it out and while I tried to stay calm, he took out his drill and got to work on the breaker box and then he made a call and I paced around the house frantically because OMG nothing was working and then there was some tinkering and then the alarm powered off and an outlet in the living room stopped working but another outlet was still on and OMG the fridge isn't getting power and how did one flip of the switch knock out lights in 4 different rooms and who the fuck wires a house like this and OMG can we get it fixed and fuck me because I'll never find an electrician on a Sunday and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY GIVE ME XANAX AND POWER NOW. 

Seriously? I brought neurotic to a whole other level.

Also? I noticed how dirty my ceiling fans are.  When they are constantly whirring you can't see the shit that builds up on the blades but when they are at a dead stop the six inches of dirt and hair that's accumulated becomes painfully obvious. So I set about cleaning all of my ceiling fans which proved to be a worthwhile distraction because finally, finally, finally D did something and suddenly lights were on and fans were spinning and I breathed a giant sigh of relief.

Of course I also asked about 100 questions - like why did this happen and will it happen again and what do I do to fix it, etc. - and D gave me half of an explanation which is basically that this house is a fossil and my breakers are fossils and something about pushing them in in to jiggle something and I then I sighed because really  - this is so not my thing. 

It took a little longer than expected but eventually we got 2 light switches and 3 outlets swapped out and in between I had to run to Lowe's because did you know that in any room where there is water like a kitchen or a bathroom you're really supposed to have the grounded outlets that have the test and reset buttons and I just had plain outlets (because that's what was originally installed) and those really weren't up to code so yeah - I had to go to Lowe's and spend $30 on new outlets - thirty freaking dollars - which hello? RIDICULOUS. Especially because as it turns out 2 of the 3 outlets don't even have ground wires - whatever that means.

But it's one more home improvement project checked off the home improvement to do list. Next up? Dealing with my ceiling which will be epic on account of the fact that my house is made of plaster and when plaster has been sitting around for a really long time it starts to crack. Either that or fixing my ghetto screen.

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I am a plugged in kind of gal - to the point that I rank Internet access up there with water and oxygen as far as things required to survive. Those who know me know that my Blackberry is frequently in my hand because I am either Tweeting, texting, emailing, or IM'ing someone/something. If I am not doing any of those, I am probably updating my Facebook status.

When I want to Maine earlier in the summer, I assumed I would be without Internet or cell service, and I mentally wrapped my head around what it would be like to be off-grid for 4 whole days.  I decided that I could live with it and that it was a good exercise.  As it turned out, I had 4 full bars in the Middle of Nowhere, ME and so I didn't have to go off-grid after all. 

However, last week, we had a work retreat up in the mountains and guess what? It's pretty much a cell-free zone.  This wasn't exactly a shock because it was the same place we went last year and so I knew from experience that there was exactly one 4-inch spot on the side porch where you could stand to get half a bar and that's about it.

Last year, this freaked me out to no end because OMG - what am I missing on Twitter and Facebook? How can I read or write blog posts?  What if I need to text someone? ACK! It was panic and chaos and I spent the first day and a half both hyperventilating and trying to position my Blackberry so that it would catch whatever stray signals were floating around.

This year? I could have cared less.  I pretty much plunked my phone in my room for a few days and forgot about it.  And guess what? I lived to tell the tale.  I even (gasp) enjoyed being disconnected for a few days. I'm not saying I am retiring my Blackberry any time soon, but every once and a while it's good to unplug.

What about you? Are you an Internet junkie? Or can you go off-grid?

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I am, in real life, a fairly classy girl. I say please and thank you. I say "yes ma'am" to the woman at the grocery store when she asks me if I found everything I was looking for (even if I didn't). I believe in handwritten thank you notes and hostess gifts. My mama done raised me right.

Except for the part where my therapist politely informed me after our last session that I had, on several occasions, flashed her, and that next time I was sitting on a sofa at a meeting perhaps I ought to keep my legs crossed at the ankles. Ahem.

And then I died.  

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Ask and ye shall receive. Such is the power of the Internet. Last week I asked y'all to help me come up with a new theme song for my life and the responses were overwhelming.  Seriously. I thought that my new song would be obvious. That when I saw it, it would just jump out at me and grab me. But no. Y'all are just too awesome. How am I supposed to choose from these: 

  • Sexy Bitch, David Guetta: AndreAnna
  • I'm Coming Out, Diana Ross: Nenette
  • I'm Free, The Soup Dragons: Burgh Baby
  • Survivor, Destiny's Child: The News Producer (even though I had previously ruled it out)
  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor: The News Producer
  • Get The Party Started, P!nk: Harmzie
  • Memories, David Guetta: Harmzie
  • Let It Rock, Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne: Cass
  • Fresh Feeling, The Eels: The Wine Diva
  • I Must Be in a Good Place Now, Vetiver: The Wine Diva
  • Ten Feet of Snow, The Action Design: Alicat
  • On The Road Again, Willie Nelson: Miss Mary
  • Put Your Records On, Corinne Bailey Ray: Madame Queen
  • I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas: Suzy Voices
  • I Told You I Was Freekie, Flight of the Conchords: Suzy Voices
  • I've Still Got My Health, Better Midler: Suzy Voices
  • Indestructible, Disturbed: Suzy Voices
  • Sin Wagon, Dixie Chicks: Suzy Voices
  • The Warrior, Patty Smyth: Suzy Voices
  • What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong: Suzy Voices
  • Woman, Wolfmother: Suzy Voices
  • I Just Haven't Met You Yet, Michael Buble: The Realtor
  • Bootilicious, Destiny's Child: The Redneck Princess
  • New Attitude, The Pointer Sisters: The Redneck Princess
  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor: Dad
  • Fighter, Christina Aguilera: Rougie

They all mean something special to me in their own way and they all inspire me in their own way. Obviously I can't choose. So instead of a theme song for 35, I have an entire theme mix. What could be better?

And as much as I'd love to send you all cookies, that's going to be a bit of a challenge until someone decides to bankroll me in the cookie business. So I picked a winner the old-fashioned way: I put everyone's name in a hat and drew one. The winner? Harmzie. Seriously. I swear she wins every contest I run which may make you think that the system is rigged. Trust me - it's not. Because shipping shit to Canada is a giant pain in the ass.

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One of the things I've struggled with in the last year is how to be alone.  For over 12 years I shared a life and a home with another human being so being alone was not something I had to worry about. But now I am single. There is no one else when I come home but Psycho Kitty.  There are no built-in safety nets for holidays and long weekends and birthdays. There is just me.

I have learned in the last year that being alone is ok.  In fact, I have worked very hard and continue to work hard to learn how to be alone and how to embrace it.  That doesn't mean that at times I don't feel lonely. In fact, quite the contrary.  I feel lonely more than I'd care to admit. But even people coupled off with families feel lonely sometimes. It's just part of life. 

This video appeared on The Bloggess over 2 weeks ago. I don't always click on every link she has in her "This week on shit-I-didn't-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it's-kind-of-awesome" section, but the title of this caught my eye and The Bloggess does not lie.  This video is all kinds of awesome. ALL KINDS.

 

In case you don't feel like you have 4 minutes and 35 seconds to spare, let me share with you my two favorite quotes:

 

"Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it."

 

"If you're happy in the head then solitude is blessed and alone is ok."

 

Yes. Alone is ok.  Very ok.  

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I started out the evening in a princess party dress and tiara because as we say Chez Rougie, a tiara is not just an accessory, it's a way of life.

 

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The spread minus the mac & very expensive cheese (of which there is still a large quantity left sitting in my fridge if anyone is hungry.)

 

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My boys Billy Ray Valentine and The History Professor.

 

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The Banker and The Architect who drove all the way from The Big City to Smalltown, USA to help me celebrate. I love them for that.

 

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The Fire Chief and The Angel.

  

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Miss Mary, The Priest and me. And yes -  I invite clergy to all of my parties.

 

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Me and The Artist, another IRL friend who I met through the Internet. Remind me to thank Al Gore for all the awesome people he's brought into my life.

  

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The Redneck Princess and Pixie. These be my girls, yo.

 

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Red and The History Prof. Red brought me a 5lb. box of wine as a birthday gift. It's like he knows me or something.

 

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T1 and T2 aka me and Lilsaej.  There are no words for how much I love this girl.

  

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Lilsaej and Bobo, her main squeeze. 

 

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Me and Sumo. As you can see, he's a total teddy bear.

 

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Me with Lilsaej and The Reporter. And notice the dress? Because I totally had a Diana Ross wardrobe change halfway through.  The tiara came off and the dancing shoes came on.

 

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The Girl Scout and Mr. Festivus who shall henceforth be known as bestower of AWESOME gifts in Mason jars. 

  

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Another one of me and Miss Mary. Watching a class act like Miss Mary partake of the Mason jar awesome was the highlight of my night.

  

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Everyone usually has a good time at my parties.  This one was no different.

 

It was a FABULOUS birthday, a WONDERFUL week, an AWESOME party.  I have a feeling 35 is going to be a FABULOUSLY WONDERFULY AWESOME year. Thanks to all who have made it so special so far.

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Your father is in the hospital.

 

Words I have long feared hearing and yet words I heard a few weeks ago.

 

Your father is in the hospital.

 

I freaked. And started sobbing hysterically because OMG: I don't know what I would do without my father.  I realize that at some point in time, he won't be around, but as far as I am concerned that's a long ways off and truthfully, I can't stand to think about it because losing my parents is one of my biggest fears.

As it turned out, dad was in the hospital having his appendix removed, and while it was unexpected, it was not a big deal.  My hysteria may have been a bit much. Then again, mom could have prefaced the call by saying: "Now I don't want you to worry but..." instead of diving right in.

* * *

Diving right in.  All of last weekend in NY I watched Cass dive right in. She had no fear approaching strangers - whether it was stopping a fellow blogger to compliment her dress or asking our waitress with genuine enthusiasm where she was from and how she came to be in NY or approaching an attractive me in a restaurant and saying: "I think you're attractive and I'd like to know what you're about."  Yes - she actually did that which impressed the hell out of all of us, because who has the balls to do that?

When it comes to people Cass has no fear. I, on the other hand, have no clue how to approach a stranger and it's inspiring to be around her as she draws people in without hesitation.

Still. Cass has her own fears. Or perhaps I should say, had.  Funny enough, I was the voice inside her ear helping her dive right in - or rather on - to a stage to dance like crazy in front of 1000 strangers. But talk to strangers? I don't know.

***

I was reading Garden & Gun the other day when I saw a blurb about Navitat. Navitat offers canopy tours that take participants on a 3.5 hour tour through the trees of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  There are 10 zip lines ranging from 120 to over 1,100 feet in length, 2 rappelling experiences, 2 suspended sky bridges and 3 short hikes.  At times you're 2 feet off the ground and at times you're 200 feet up in the air.  

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Best of all? It's less than 2 hours from where I live.

The first thing I thought when I read about it was: I SO WANT TO DO THIS.

Then I remembered that I have fear of heights (although I love roller coasters - don't ask) and that previous attempts at ropes courses and zip lines have not ended well. Fear gets me every time and I stand there paralyzed unable to let go.

And then I thought fuck it. At some point - you have to face up to your fears because if you let them hold you back, you never move forward. And me? I am all about forward motion these days.  And the thought of forward motion down a 1,100 foot zip line 200 feet up in the air excites me. In fact, it downright thrills me.

So yeah. I'd like to believe that I am stronger than my fear which is why I plan to dive right in.

PS You really should read Cass's post on fear or rather not being afraid. It's one of the most inspired pieces of writing I've come across in a while. 

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A few weeks ago, I stepped on tripped over my Blackberry while it was plugged in and laying on the floor charging and while I didn't crush it into 1000 little pieces, the damage was bad enough that I had to replace it. And frankly, I wasn't terribly bummed because my old Blackberry was a basic, generic, camera-less model originally provided to me 2+ years ago by the people who pay me in real life and I knew that my new Blackberry would be high-tech, shiny and come with a camera.  Even better? I didn't have to pay for it.  Between the rebate and the $100 upgrade coupon I've been sitting on for a year I got a new Blackberry Bold for free.

I picked up my new phone a few Saturdays ago from Julie.  Julie works for one of the local Verizon Wireless stores and she has been calling me every 3 - 4 months for over a year reminding me of the $100 upgrade coupon and encouraging me to buy a new phone. I have always politely told her that I am not quite ready (because buying a new phone feels akin to accepting an engagement ring), but I have always asked her to follow-up in a few months because I have known for some time that a new phone was in my eventual future.

So when it was actually time, I called Julie and scheduled an appointment to come in and see her and give her the sale.  You might have thought this was a brilliant idea. I mean I did. But I discovered that Julie's eager-to-please-let-me-take-care-of-that-for-you-so-you-don't-have-to attitude screwed me up not once, but twice.

The first was the case.  I am known for being a wee bit clumsy and so it was important that I buy some kind of hard protective coating for my phone.  But, rather than showing me how the 2-piece case went on and how it came off, Julie just plunked the phone in the candy colored plastic and handed it to me. And while you're probably going: really Rougie - how hard can a phone case be to operate? The answer is: it's tougher than you think. Seriously: this thing is like some 15th century chastity belt that require's Merlin's magic to remove. Even Sumo and The Kaiser (who has an engineering degree) couldn't figure it out. 

Credit goes to Lilsaej who noticed a small crack in the corner and suggested that you could probably wedge something in there like a coin and pull the front and back pieces apart. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner - please buy this girl a beer!

So yes - figuring how to get my new phone out of its suit of armor was a challenge but we eventually got to the solution.

Meanwhile, the thing I had been MOST excited about i.e. having a camera (and apologies to all of my Twitter followers for Twitpicing my entire life going forward) was kind of a disappointment. All of the pictures were coming out grainy and/or dark and/or fuzzy despite my adjusting the flash and the exposure and everything else I could think of.

Well, the other day as I was wrestling my phone out of its case so I could pop out the battery and do a reset, I noticed a layer of plastic coating still stuck over the camera lens. In her haste to hand my phone off to me allreadytogo, Julie FAILED TO REMOVE THE PROTECTIVE LAYER OF PLASTIC FROM THE LENS - hence all of the arthouse photos from my Blackberry camera like this self-portrait:

Self Portrait 1.jpg

Sometimes eagerness to please can bite you in the ass.

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I had a work thing last night and so I crashed at The Realtor's rather than make the 45 mile drive home.  Best part? Waking up on my birthday and getting to have breakfast with 2 of my closest, dearest, most beloved friends: The Realtor and The Banker.

We met at The Flying Biscuit where I overindulged in The Meggxican Wrap (a spicy scramble of eggs, cheddar cheese, onions, serrano peppers all wrapped in a flour tortilla and topped with tomato salsa and sour cream) and this:

 

Guinness for Breakfast.jpg

Guinness with a shot of espresso. I didn't even have to order it special - it was on the menu and everything!

So yeah - obviously I took a vacation day because...HELLO - it's my birthday and there must be celebrating and fun things and Guinness with breakfast otherwise it's just Wednesday.

Anyways - my BIG plans for the day included buying new sneakers, doing a little upscale grocery shopping at Earth Fare, and coming home and working on the menu for the party I am throwing on Saturday because I have 30+ people coming and no clue what I am going to serve them other than mac & cheese because I am in the midst of a major mac & cheese obsession right now. So yeah - BIG STUFF.

En route to the sneaker store mom called to wish me happy birthday and I was telling her all about the thrilling birthday I had planned and she said: "Rougie - you need to do something special. Go get a pedicure or a massage."  And I was like: "Well maybe I will. I don't know."

And long story short she INSISTED I go to a spa on her - sort of an impromptu birthday gift. And even though I am 35, I had no problem accepting so I called the spa I go to monthly to get my ladybits groomed and seeing as the economy still sucks, they had a 9:30 opening for a massage and an 11:00 opening for a pedi. It was 9:24 and I was exactly 5 minutes away. It's like the Universe was looking out for me. 

So I spent 4 hours getting totally blissed out (because mom added a facial because she is the BEST MOM EVER) and these:

 

Blue Toes.jpg

Seriously - I was all set to get my toes painted a classy, opaque, pale pink but my eyes kept getting drawn to this polish called Lapis of Luxury and I figured - what the hell: If you can't get a blue pedicure on your 35th birthday, when the hell can you get one?

The bliss wore off a little because Holy Hell - buying sneakers at Dick's nearly killed me but then I went to Earth Fare and spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 on cheese which I was actually ok with because if you don't overindulge on your birthday, what's the point? Also, I now have to amend Saturday's menu to include mac and VERY EXPENSIVE cheese.

The day has been truly wonderful. Essentially since midnight the love has poured in: calls, texts, Blackberry Messenger, Tweets, Facebook posts, cards - I even came home to a giant yellow balloon with a birthday hat taped to my door.  

And what's more - I am not spending tonight alone. I thought I might be and I was ok with that but my good friend The Barmaid shares my birthday and she and some friends are going to dinner and I am going to tag along. 

Truth be told,  I didn't quite know what to expect but today has turned out to be pretty damn fabulous and so I am hoping that this a sign that the coming year is going to be pretty damn fabulous too.    

Thanks to you all for your love and support and friendship - Chez Rougie is nothing without you. 

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When I turned 30, my mantra was: Rougie - 30 and Fabulous.

Last year, I embraced turning 34 with Christina Aguilera's "Keeps Gettin' Better" as my own, personal theme song.

Tomorrow I turn 35 and I need a new theme song. Not that I am not still fabulous. Or that I am no longer getting better. Quite the contrary.  But I am at a different place in my life and I need a new song to go along with it.

I've thought about sticking with Xtina because who doesn't feel empowered and awesome when listening to Fighter? I'm also mildly obsessed with Survivor by Destiny's Child because I am a survivor and I am NOT going to give up and I am gonna work harder.  But both songs are as much about putting someone else down (I'm a fighter/survivor because of what you did to me asshole) as they are about celebrating the awesome and I'm not in the market to put anyone down.  I just want to celebrate my own fabulosity.

So I throw it out there to you dear readers and friends: what should be my new theme song for the coming year?  Need a little inspiration? I think the beautiful Cass captured me perfectly:

 

SRP Kissy Face.JPG

Song suggestions can either be submitted in the comments section or you can email me directly.  And whoever picks the winning song (you have until the end of the day on Friday) will get a dozen crack cookies. 

All right 35: Bring it on. Rougie is ready!   

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While I was never actually a Girl Scout, I do carry a Swiss Army Knife in my purse because frankly, I like to be prepared.  I mean you never know when you're going to need a knife or a pair of scissors or a screwdriver or a corkscrew because the bar you're in has wine but no corkscrew (and yes - for the record, that's happened twice. Do you people not realize that I live in the sticks?)

The knife resides in an inner pocket in my purse, usually buried under a hairbrush, my glasses cleaning kit and my emergency pack of almonds, and I often forget it's there until I actually need it.  Or until TSA accuses me of being a terrorist.

So I boarded a plane in Charlotte on Thursday morning and flew to NYC for BlogHer. Thursday night I needed scissors to cut the tag off of something and I instinctively reached for my knife...which WAS IN MY PURSE. So clearly the Charlotte TSA peeps are not on their game because...THIS IS THE SECOND TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED.

Back in May I flew to Florida for work and no one in the Charlotte airport noticed the knife in my bag. It was only as I was going through security on the way back from Florida that they spotted the knife.  I should clarify that this is not a cheap, dinky, run of the mill Swiss Army Knife. It's heavy duty, nicer than pretty nice, and was a gift from a senior executive where I work. In short, it's irreplaceable and important to me. 

Of course, I'd rather stab myself then check luggage. Fortunately, it wasn't an issue in Florida because they have these nifty little kiosks where if you don't want to check your bags, you can pay an outrageous fortune to mail your illegal goods back to yourself. 

Back to BlogHer. So Thursday night I discovered the knife and basically I did nothing about it until Sunday morning at around 6am when I was furiously stuffing what SWAG I did manage to accumulate into my bag. I figured if I wrapped the knife in a bunch of clothes and shoved it in a shoe and buried it under more shoes and make-up bags and a Swiffer Duster and a mug and a water bottle and some socks and a scarf and a measuring cup, TSA wouldn't notice, right? RIGHT?

So for the record, I managed to get every single thing into my suitcase and my carry-on. There was to be no checking of the bags (which comes with a $25 price tag AND epic amounts of stress because OMG - will my bag make it?) - especially because I was going stand-by on an earlier flight.

My first issue was the whoreface bitch at security checkpoint #1 who told me my bag was too big and I'd have to check it. REALLY? It's too big? Because I have flown on exactly 671 flights with this bag and it's fit in the overhead compartment of every. Single. One. So unless we're flying on some kind of midget plane, I am pretty fucking sure my bag is going to damn well fit.  The other issue was that she had painted on her eyebrows to look like this:

Scary Eyebrows.jpg

Really.

And since you can't really argue with TSA (unless you want to get arrested) and since I couldn't deal with her supreme stupidity or her ugly ass eyebrows I went down to the other end of the terminal to another checkpoint where no one questioned the size of my bag.

Unfortunately, despite my careful wrapping and burying, my knife was spotted and there I am, beyond tired, stressed about flying standby, and the TSA agent is all: ma'am, we can either confiscate the knife or you have to check your bag.  And I'm like really? Because do I look like a terrorist or like someone who wants to pay $25 to check her bag? (I think what irritated me too was that she didn't give a shit about the illegal 7-oz. bottle of Oil of Olay body wash I was smuggling or the giant jug of Eucerin I'd scored.)

So I was forced to check my bag...which again...I was flying standby so yeah...likelihood of me AND my bag making the same bag felt slim to none.  And I had to pay $25 for the privilege. 

Of course, 10 minutes later I'm sitting at the gate flipping through Us and guzzling a Coke Zero feeling all kinds of stabby when it hit me: why the hell didn't I leave the knife at my mom's apartment and ask her to mail it to me? DUH.  Even worse? When I eventually got home to NC (and fyi both me and my bag made the earlier flight), I realized that I had left my phone charger behind. So mom has to mail me a package anyways.

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I was writing my BlogHer post in my head while driving home from the airport this morning and when I was only at Friday afternoon after 10 miles, I realized it was too long. So for now, you got BlogHer 2010 in bullets, focusing on a handful of the highlights from the weekend:

* Meeting Shelly and Donna.  I've *known* Shelly for over 2 years and except for the fact that she loves coconut and I don't, we're pretty much separated at birth. So to give her a giant hug was all kinds of awesome.  As for Donna, I haven't known her quite as long, but we're currently traveling down similar paths and it's nice to know that I have a friend who really gets what I am going through.

* Doing car bombs with Donna the first night and then outchugging the 20-something investment bankers that Donna picked up.  (I know mom & dad - you're so proud!)

* So the first morning as soon as the exhibit halls opened we got herded in (literally) and I was a little overwhelmed so I went for something safe: Terra Chips. Of course they were promoting a new Thai Basil Curry flavor and let me just say that Thai Basil Curry anything is a little bit much before noon.

* So is having a woman discuss vaginal PH levels with you in grand detail, and for the record, that was the booth next to the Terra Chips. Overload.

* I was super excited to meet Southern Fried Snark aka Amy and Rhonda although I was disappointed that our power lunch at the Four Seasons got cancelled.

* I could write an entire post about how amazing Cass is. Seriously, I am so enamored of her big heart and her generous nature and her open mind.  She is strong and funny and goofy and gracious and these last few days I really got to watch her shine.  She lives life unafraid and it's inspiring. My favorite Cass memories are watching her have an entire table of men (incidentally a father and 2 sons) EATING out of her hand and the 2 of us being the first ones on the dance floor during the Friday night gala and dancing like crazy in front of 1000 strangers without a single care in the world.  

* Speaking of dancing: Saturday night at Sparklecorn the dancing was insane.  PERIOD. Oh - and Pop Rocks aren't lethal.  Neither is taking of Amy Blam's bra which I totally did.

* Sitting on a bed eating cheeseburgers and wearing a paper bag on my hand surrounded by women I admire and adore.

* So I thought that just catching a glimpse of the Bloggess walking down the hall was awesome. But then she was participating in the performance art piece of the Friday night gala and since we blew off the keynote and got to the gala early she was there sitting waiting to write little snippets and so I spoke to her and told her I was a fan and she didn't stab me or accuse me of being a stalker and then she typed a little message and signed it and Cass took my picture and OMG...she is funny IRL as she is online and I SO did not capture this memory quite the way I wanted to but I don't know how to explain it in a way that makes sense.  

* I had a lot of good quality time with AndreAnna and for the record: the main reason I came to BlogHer was to see my friends.  This probably explains why I attended all of 2 sessions and why I totally failed at swag but it didn't really matter. I didn't fly to NY for free samples. I came for my friends. Especially AndreAnna. 

* Speaking of friends...much of the TwitHer crew from Chicago made it and so there were lots of hugs with Sam, Katie, Sara, and Anne

* My Fit Flops.  My $60, super shiny, comfy as hell, will-tone-my-ass flip flops that I didn't need but did I mention the whole comfy as hell thing? Seriously. I haven't taken them off since I bought them yesterday.

I know there's more. People I met. Laughs I shared. Swiss and Scottish men that I accosted. It's too much to share it all.  So for now, know that the entire experience was exactly as I wanted it to be. 

PS As for pictures, I took none. But Cass took many - they are up here and here and they are the only evidence of all of the extraordinary that we shared this weekend.

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August 5, 2009: In what can only be described as the ultimate act of clumsy, I opened a car door into my own head and gave myself a concussion.  It took me 39 minutes and calls/texts to 7 different people before I found someone to drive me the ER.  My day ended with a massive headache and a shitload of Advil.

August 5, 2010: I will be boarding a plane early in the morning to fly to NYC for BlogHer. Can I get a HOLLLLLLEEEERRRRRRR? And not only do I get to have drinks on this day with Shelly and Phat Donna, I'll get to see Annabelle Speaks and Amy at The People's Party and hopefully Campenette too. Oh - and in non-BlogHer news, I get to have lunch with my mom. And we won't even discuss August 6th because that's just going to be ridiculous.

So yeah. August 5, 2010 is shaping up to be a whole lot better than August 5, 2009. Assuming I can avoid any more self-sustained head injuries.

What a difference 365 days makes. 

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So I had lunch today with the The Realtor and seeing as we are both smart, savvy, sexy, successful, single Leos we got to talking about quite a few things including being single in your 30s and we decided that being a single thirtysomething actually has some perks.

For example...

Let's say hypothetically speaking you are on a mid-summer vacation somewhere in the Northeast.  And let's say while on this vacation you happen to meet a friend of a friend who happens to be a very dashing, very charming man in his late 50s and who happens to resemble John Slattery.  And he's well-traveled and cultured (and did I mention attractive) and you spend much of the evening talking and flirting and drinking Malbec.  And at the end of the evening, as you go to say goodbye, he pulls you in for a goodnight kiss and you let him because you've always secretly had a thing for John Slattery (and Jamey Sheridan but who's keeping tabs) and the goodnight kiss is really quite pleasant and so you let it evolve although given that you have to be up in less than 3 hours it doesn't evolve into much.  Hypothetically. Still...it's a pleasant encounter and while you don't think it's going to turn into much of anything, you enjoy it for what it is and frankly, you appreciate the life experience that a 57 year old brings to the table and while you're not quite almost 35 (which means the age difference is more than 20 years), you can get away with it because you're self-assured and confident and successful in your own right. YOU bring a lot to the table. Hypothetically.

And let's just say that a few days later you hypothetically find yourself traveling for work and on the very last night of a 4-day road trip, you find yourself walking into a restaurant at 9:55pm hoping to score some food before the kitchen closes.  And while the kitchen is unfortunately closed, they are all too happy to pour you another glass (or several) of wine and so you and your group stay and you're drinking wine and hanging out with the staff and it's all casual and fun and that's when you notice him. The attractive one in the banker's blue oxford. And he's all sandy-haired and light-eyed (so not your type - you (hypothetically) prefer dark hair and dark eyes) but he seems engaged and entertained and as it turns out he's the manager and the next thing you know he's giving you a private tour of the place which ends up with you two alone. In private. Hypothetically.

It's only later in the evening as he's driving you back to your villa that you find out he's only 27 at which point you die because you have a rule about not dating men under 30 - not that you're dating or that you're going to date but kissing is similar to dating kinda sorta maybe... Anyways you have rules because when they're in their 20s they are still boys although truth be told you know men who are in their 30s and 40s who are still boys and don't have it figured out and Mr. Banker Blue actually seems to have his shit together. Plus he says you have great legs, which, when you're almost 35 and it's coming from a 27 year old, is nothing short of awesome. Hypothetically or otherwise.

So yeah. This is what The Realtor and I discussed today at lunch (among other things). And we quickly came to the conclusion that being single in your 30s is pretty much awesome because it basically opens up the entire universe of men and gives you at least a 30-year swing to choose from.

Hypothetically.

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My calendar has been and continues to be busy.  From New York to the Lake to Maine to Kiawah to New York to the Mountains to Boston to my parents and finally Connecticut by way of Boston. And that's just through Labor Day.

Post-Labor Day there are trips in the works to visit AndreAnna in Iowa, The Wine Diva at my favorite vineyard in California, and I am working on a trip to London to visit The Brit Girl over Thanksgiving assuming I can find a ticket for under $600.  I also assume I'll make at least one more NYC trip before the end of the year to see friends and family. Possibly two.

Activities that don't involve airplanes? A trip to Wilkesboro for the re-opening of the Wilkesboro Speedway in October, the fall race in Charlotte, the Jewish holidays, and Lilsaej's birthday festivities which will likely be spread out over 2 weekends.  At some point I also need to hop in the car and head across state lines to visit the Peach and the rest of my family who resides in the South.  Not to mention a series of trips throughout the Southeast for work that will mimic the round of epic road trips I made in the Spring.

I am a moving target.

On the one hand, it seems rather glamorous - and I am the first to boast that I can wake up on a Friday, check UsAir Supersavers, and be somewhere warm and sunny by noon. I have no schedules to coordinate. No children to consider. No one to tell me that I can't afford it or not to spend the money. I am a free bird.

But the truth is I live my life perpetually on the go go go go go because if I stop and slow down for too long, I become conscious of the emptiness. I am smothered by the loneliness. I ache for what I don't have. 

So I bounce from city to city, town to town; I go from car to plane to plane to car; from girls night out to NASCAR race;  I pack to unpack to repack only to unpack again.

It's exhausting.

But it's a way to avoid the pain.

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