Friday, January 30, 2009

Review of Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone

I loved this book!

I have been a Beth Lisick fan since hearing her do a reading at a local event with other authors. I read her last book, and eagerly reserved this one at the library when I heard about it. I was not disappointed!

The book details how Beth wakes up on New Year's Day and instead of making a frivolous resolution (like learning how to do the splits, which she ponders for a few minutes), decides to actually try to improve her life via the very popular and slightly controversial route of self-help books and motivational speakers. She pitches the idea to her publisher, receives an advance that helps her register for seminars and pay for travel, and she's off!

It was funny how timely this book was for me, since I am also (like millions of Americans) embarking on new self-improvement strategies as of the beginning of the year. I'm also now reading a self-help book, which is not something I ever do...and I checked that book out before I checked this one out! (Review on that one to come...but I'm already having a hard time with it.)

Beth is hilarious and engaging and the book had several "laugh out loud" moments for me. Because she lives in the same town I do and frequently mentions local neighborhoods and landmarks, I feel like she could easily be one of my friends. I can just see listening to her tell these stories over lattes. Hey Beth, call me, okay?

Beth reads a new book/goes to a new seminar each month, and tries to keep an open mind, suppressing her natural cynicism and sarcasm and trying to see if any of the advice will actually work. This is a big problem for me too, so I could relate. Already, as I read the self-help book I checked out, I'm having a hard time swallowing language like, "our wellness path," and "creating a new experience of ourselves." Beth reads books and attends seminars by Suze Orman, Deepak Chopra, Richard Simmons, John Gray, and even psychic Sylvia Brown. At the end of the year she has made some improvements and gained some new perspective, although she is very honest when she feels that she's watching an infomercial instead of a speaker who's honestly invested in helping people.

I would totally recommend this book. I read it in two days--it's funny while still making you think about the things you do in your every day life that could possibly use a tuneup. Now, if I can keep an open mind long enough to get through one self-help book, I'll be happy....

Review of A Mercy

I have been mulling over this one for a few days and have since even read another book (review to come of that one), and I still don't quite know what to say about Toni Morrison's latest.

I did my college thesis on the works of Toni Morrison, so of course I had to check this one out of the library when I heard about it. My first impression was that it's very short--big typeface, smaller trim size, and only 150 pages! It's set in 1682 and deals with one family in particular: a dutch trader, his wife, and their indentured servants and slaves. Toni likes to make you think while you read, so she doesn't spell everything out for you. Normally I enjoy this, but with only 150 pages to glean info, I thought Toni could've given me a hand. Or maybe reading US Weekly has finally caught up with me and I need to be spoonfed? Not sure.

Her language, as always, is gorgeous (no wonder she's won the Nobel and the Pulitzer), and the relationships between characters were complex. I felt that the wife's conversion to religion at the end was a little bit of a cop-out, an oversimplification of a more complicated personality. As with all of her novels, she explores race relations and how these change depending on the era.

On the whole, I enjoyed it, like I enjoy all of her writing, but it was not as fantastic as Beloved, which is my favorite, for all that it's disturbing and sad...she really captured something with that book, and I don't think she's matched it since. But that's just my opinion.

I would still recommend A Mercy, though.

OMW: Days 9 and 10

Wow, I'm into double-digits!

Wednesday and today I had a really hard time getting up. I think I need to set my alarm body/mind is used to hitting snooze for a certain period of time before becoming fully conscious.

Both days, I got to the gym late. Today was worse...I had to cut two machines from my workout. I did increase the weight on 4 of my machines, though, so I feel proud of myself for that!

Wednesday my knee was twingey afterward and I was a little worried. I have old issues with my back and my knees, a little bit from poor dance technique in the early days, and a little bit from not taking proper care of myself in general. The back stuff is completely improved through regular workouts, but the knees see fit to protest every now and again. However, it was much better today. Isn't aging great? I just hope the knees improve like the back has been. Come on, guys, work with me here! ;-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hidden Wealth

I forgot to do a blog about this. It's only remotely wedding-related, but it is definitely related to being thrifty!

So awhile ago I blogged that we were going to roll up our loose change (mostly Mr. T's loose change) and deposit it in the wedding fund. Mr. T got about a quarter of the way through and lost steam, and to be honest, I didn't really feel like helping. Rolling change is really unappealing, especially pennies, and we had mostly pennies. I'm a bad helpmeet, I guess. Or is that helpmate? I'm also bad at tossing out archaic terms.

So the change sat there, and Christmas came. Mr. T and I didn't really have a lot of cash to buy each other gifts this year, but we promised each other to finally get the Playstation 3, which is also a BluRay DVD player. Mr. T and I really enjoy playing adventure games--he drives, and I give advice: "Over there! Watch out behind you! Try that door! No, press the red button first, then the yellow one!" Surprisingly, Mr. T appreciates my backseat driving, so it works out. It must be love!

Mr. T had a few unused Amazon gift certificates, and when our friends asked what we wanted for Christmas, we told them more Amazon GCs, and some of them very nicely humored us, so we had oh, maybe half what we needed? A little less? (Mr. T also added a wireless internet base station to the list so we don't have to run a cord into the living room, along with HDMI cables, splitters, the remote control for the PS3, etc.).

Unrelated to this, Mr. T and I decided to do a New Year's purge. Our apartment is pretty small, and any clutter is very hard to hide! So I sold 8 bags of books (although you can hardly tell!) and Mr. T sold two bags. Oddly enough, we both got the same amount of money, due to a sneaky first edition in his stack that we were going to donate to a women's prison last year, but they wouldn't take hardcovers, thank goodness. Anyway, we decided to put the cash toward our purchase.

We also discovered that a little store by our house has a Coinstar machine. You pour all of your change into it, and either it takes a percentage of the total (if you want cash), or it gives you a gift certificate with no fee. Amazon was one of the options for the gift certificates, so we unrolled all our rolled coins (all of Mr. T's hard work down the drain), put all the coins into a bag (a very very heavy bag), and gave the machine our money. It turned out we had $207 in coins! Over 4,000 pennies! Crazy.

So, at this point, we were almost at our goal, but we had more stuff to sell: the old PS2 games we'd already played (which netted us $50) and some movies and CDs ($27).

Enroute we also donated old towels to an animal shelter and old clothes to a thrift store. We felt so liberated!

And, the good news, we ordered and received the PS3--so exciting. We're going to have a movie night soon. I believe our gift certificates and random cash covered almost the whole thing, except maybe $30? And now our house is so much more open! We both feel really good about it. Who knew we had all that money hidden in the house? ;-)

OMW: Days 7 and 8, also dress appointment!!

Mr. T and I are now fully embracing the 3 days per week workout schedule (this is our second week on this schedule). I figure we'll do this for one or two more weeks, then move up to four. I wasn't sure how to deal with Mondays, because I drive into work that day rather than taking BART, so I was facing walking to the gym and then walking home afterward to get the car (20 minutes each way). However, it turns out that the gym validates parking for the lot next door, so I can drive there and park for $1, and then I can drive home and shower in my own tub, which I love (gym showering is always a little icky...I wear flip flops in the shower). So Mondays are now my new favorite workout day.

Mr. T seems to think the morning workouts are feeling easier now, physically. I'm not sure I agree. Getting up is still hard, getting up at different times each morning is hard, forcing myself to go to bed earlier is really hard, and the quality of the workout really depends on how rested I feel, frankly. And walking to the gym in the cold and dark at 6 a.m. is never going to be very fun, I'm afraid. But, I persevere. I know it will all be worth it. My belly rolls (that means the belly dance belly roll movement, not rolls of fat!) are actually visibly improved by the ab work I've been doing, and my skin is better too. I think the latter is from drinking more water (32 oz at the gym, then 24-32 oz at work). I wish I could say my clothes are fitting better, but alas, no. I don't think the cupcakes I've been eating lately have been helping (birthdays, baby showers, sigh).

This weekend the MOH and another good friend and I went to the Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions, another budget outing. For $7 you can see a whole day of auditions. The audition performances are exactly as they will be in the final show--outfits, music, staging, etc. The only thing that will change is the lighting; at the auditions the stage lights are on steady the whole time, and the curtain remains up. I love attending the auditions every year. The downside is for every good group you see, you see about 5 times as many mediocre or just plain bad groups, but in a way, that's entertaining, too, and as a dancer, it's certainly educational. It's also fun to predict who will get into the show. I was bummed not to see more audition days (we could only make it to one of the four days), because I don't think I can afford to see the real show this year, but we'll see. I love this city--so many good and affordable cultural experiences!

Finally, in actual wedding-planning related news, I made an appointment with the seamstress!!! She has a business in San Francisco and specializes in corset-making. The appointment is the third week of February, so it will be awhile before I can report back, but I'm excited! Ironically, the appointment is one day before my co-dancer's wedding. I will have an all-wedding weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OMW: Days 5 and 6

So this week we're upping our workout days to 3. I went on Monday before my David's Bridal trip. Thanks to it being a holiday, I was able to sleep in a bit. I drove Mr. T to BART and then parked near the gym--the meters weren't on, since it was a holiday. As I told Mr. T that morning, "I've discovered something." "Already?" he cracked. "You haven't even been awake that long." "I've discovered that getting up for the gym on a day when you have to get up for work anyway is hard, but getting up for the gym on a day off is even harder."

Regardless, I did it, and I was able to do all the weights I wanted. It was crowded, though. I'm not sure whether to attribute that to the holiday weekend or the hour (I was there later than usual). Also, when I went to stretch, the room was full--there was a class going on! So I just went home and did some half-ass stretches there, meaning I was sore later.

This morning I had a hard time getting up too, but for a different reason--we were out late last night watching inauguration coverage at a friend's house. Man was I tired! If Mr. T hadn't been there I definitely would have gone back to sleep. My workout was lower energy too--I didn't get to one of my weight machines, and thanks to dawdling in the shower, I just barely made it onto our train this morning.

Figuring out the right bedtime is going to be interesting, I can see. How does a night owl change her spots? I read that you are supposed to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night...I typically get 6 if I'm lucky. Hm. Last night I got 5; that was definitely not enough!

Anyway, tonight I'm definitely going to bed earlier. I'm one tired bride-to-be!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

David's Bridal Appointment

Phew, well, that's over with.

Yesterday the MOH and I ventured out to the city of the dead--that's Colma, in case you were wondering--to visit David's Bridal, the cheapest of the cheap bridal shops.

We walked in the door and were barked at by the greeter, a tiny (yet pushy) Russian woman with a huge wedding ring set on her hand. The MOH was later joking that the store must have sets of wedding rings for all the employees to wear, since EVERYONE was sporting huge rocks. The greeter gave me some paperwork to fill out. They asked for a lot of info, including Mr. T's name and email address, which I did not fill in. The store was pretty quiet, so that I didn't end up having to share a consultant, as they'd told me on the phone.

The greeter asked me if I'd seen any dresses on their website that I was interested in. Already failing in my task of impersonating a bride that would want to wear a white David's Bridal gown to her wedding, I baldly said, "No," but I did follow it up with, "but I have some pictures of dresses I like..." and I did. Early on, when I first got engaged, I inherited about 20 wedding magazines from a friend and started ripping out pictures of dresses I liked, not because of the color (obviously) but instead because I liked the skirt or the bodice or the beading or what have you. I hadn't looked at the photos in months, but my assessment was that I did a good job! The dresses were lovely; probably all of them were $10,000 couture dresses, however.

Still, I gamely showed the pictures to our bridal consultant, who seemed distracted as we walked to the dressing room, which was in a very long corridor of other mirrored dressing rooms...sorta Twilight Zone-ish. The consultant disappeared for a long time and came back with a slip and a longline strapless bra/bustier, explaining that they didn't have the bustier in my ribcage size, but this was the next size up. I had the MOH help me into the bustier, and it wasn't good. I was falling out of the top. At the time I was thinking it was ridiculous to expect a well-endowed girl to want to wear strapless, because I have never in my life tried on a supportive strapless bra. The consultant went off to try and find a smaller bra, and as I stood there holding my boobs in, wearing the oversized bustier and hideous thick white girdle slip underneath the flourescent lighting, I had a moment of despair. It all felt very fake and wrong and depressing. However, thankfully the MOH was there to joke with me, and soon the consultant came back with a bra that still was not my size, but did fit slightly better (thank goodness there were no men in the store, though, is all I'm saying).

After that we started the dress parade. The first was an a-line strapless gown that I dubbed "the mummy" because of the horizontal ribbons running the length of the dress. We liked the a-line on my body. In photos, however, I look short in the dress. I'm not sure if it's the silhouette or the striping that caused that.

Next was a full-on strapless Cinderella ball gown, with a beaded bodice and fluffy layers of beaded tulle and crinolines--by far the most elaborate thing I tried. Out of curiosity, I asked the price, and it was only $1100, which let me know that (no surprise) these dresses must be made in China by women who are paid pennies per day. I surprised myself by actually liking this one on me. I didn't expect that. It made my top look smaller. However, after seeing the photos we took, my codancer (who called it a "shixa dress", which cracked me up) frankly told me she thought it made my bottom half look wider and that it also made me look shorter.

Next was a strapless mermaid style dress with a lace overlay and beading. I wasn't sure about this silhouette, as you may recall. I do have an hourglass figure, but I wasn't sure if mermaid would say, "I have curves," or instead, "I have saddlebags." This dress wasn't too tight around my legs and we found it very flattering. The consultant even brought the dress in around my knees so it would flare out even more at the bottom, and the MOH and I both liked that look a lot.

The next dress was an empire waist dress, the only dress with straps. I figured empire waist would make me look pregnant, plus I don't do well with what I term "pre-defined breast areas". However, it actually looked nice on top and didn't make me look as though I were expecting. The straps were kinda twisted and Grecian looking, which I liked, and the overall style of the dress was a little Marilyn-Monroe/old school Hollywood glamour, which was nice (although not so much for me, I think). We liked this one more once the consultant showed us what it would look like in a mermaid skirt.

Finally, I tried on a (strapless, of course) dress with a corset back. The skirt was pretty bad--poofy, with pickups, which I hate, although the MOH kinda liked them. I think it makes the dress look like a crumpled piece of paper. The corset did wonderful things for my waist, though.

The consultant offered to put me in a veil at one point, which made me blurt out, "NO! I mean, no thanks." So instead I tried on a tiara. I love tiaras! So that was kinda awesome. I also had these cute little black heels on, because I wanted to bring a pair of my own heels rather than wear the DB ones (who knows how many people have tried on the store heels?). So when I was waiting between dresses, my look was pretty great--bustier, thick ugly slip with a huge slit up the back, black heels, tiara, tattoos. I was joking that I'd already found my look for the wedding, nevermind the dresses!

I decided that wedding gowns have a LOT of structure versus any other gown you'd try on in a store. I mean, crappy bra or not, once I was in these gowns, the girls weren't going anywhere. It was bizarre to see myself in a strapless gown. I have never worn anything strapless! Mr. T asked how I was feeling trying on white dresses, and for me, that part was pretty matter of fact (okay, this skirt shape is good, next), but the strapless thing was really strange. Anyway, the gowns have layers and layers of fabric and crinoline and boning and beading and the things can practically stand up on their own. It really is a two-person operation to get these things over your head. And the train was also odd...I found myself taking little mincing steps, unlike my typical "keep up with long-legged Mr. T" walk, so I wouldn't trip myself.

We ended up liking the consultant, who was very nice and didn't mind pulling dress after dress for us, and I started to feel guilty about all the work she was doing for someone who was never going to buy a dress. While she was picking out more dresses the MOH and I decided we'd say that we were going to wait till my mom came into town and go shopping with her, which is essentially what we told our consultant at the end. She was really sweet and didn't push the issue (unlike the greeter, who pressed, "When will we see you in here again?"), and I know it's silly to feel weird about it since who buys a dress in the first store they go in, regardless, but I did feel weird.

I'm glad that's over! Now to call the corset maker! Phew!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Invitation Inspiration

Last night Mr. T and I had a budget date (well, the MOH came too...let's call it a budget outing!) at the Asian Art Museum to see an exhibit of Afghani jewelry and art...admission was $5! A steal. We felt cultured AND frugal.

Afterward Mr. T and I were watching LA Ink at home. Kim was working on a text-based tattoo, and Mr. T said, "that's sorta like the typeface I'm thinking about for our invitations!" and jumped up and turned on his computer, mid-episode.

Unfazed, I just kept watching the episode...I figured it would keep. After it was done we looked at some other inspiration fonts online. Mr. T started asking me for invitation wording so he could gauge how much room he had to work with. I was like, "Really? You're going to make me write our invitation wording at 11 pm off the top of my head? I need to think about this!!" I felt frustrated about being pressured, and he was puzzled about why I wasn't more enthusiastic, since I love wedding stuff. His argument that it was just placeholder text, and my argument was that he shouldn't get started on design without the real text (both of us speaking from our work perspectives, I's funny how different our work worlds are, sometimes!).

So, we ended in a stalemate, or perhaps a compromise. It's funny how inspiration can strike at the most inconvenient times. In the end he got some dummy text to work with, after I told him about 20 times that it wasn't final and it was likely that we would have more text than what I'd just supplied.

Since we were on a roll, we also looked at the engagement photos again, so we could pick out 10 for the photographer to re-touch. Mr. T sheepishly admitted that he'd overreacted and he didn't quite hate the photos as much as he'd declared previously. We picked out 10 and I sent the list off to the photographer. Hooray! I posted some on Facebook for those of y'all who are curious.

And finally, I dug out some of the wedding books and checked out some timeline stuff. At some point I'd bought a Knot book of checklists, and as I read through it last night I realized how great a book it is. I also realized we're doing fine in terms of timeline. The only things we hadn't done on their schedule was create a wedding website and send out save the dates. I'm thinking I do want to do save the dates after all, only just via email. I thought we could use one of the engagement photos.

Anyway, it was a relief to see I wasn't letting a million details slip through the cracks and that we were right on schedule, at least according to the Knot. Phew! I was up past midnight reading. Mr. T really started something with that invitation discussion!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

OMW: Day 4

This morning I almost overslept and Mr. T had to nudge me.

"Has my alarm being going off?" I asked sleepily. Yep, it had, and I'd been hitting snooze in my sleep. I've got to get to bed earlier. It's hard with the every-other day body is confused about when to go to bed and when to get up. Still, I don't think I'm quite ready for an every day workout just yet. It's still really challenging, although of course I always feel great afterward.

I don't know how modern women handle wedding planning. Even having my nights more free, I can't seem to find the time to crack open our budget, or any of my planning books lately. I'm hoping I can steal some time to do that in the next week or so. I'm feeling anxious about all the stuff we need to be doing!

Both cats were on my pillow this morning. That made it really hard to get up. In my next life I'd like to come back as a pampered kitty.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DB Update

I called David's Bridal and the person on the phone was very nice and sounded like an intelligent human being, so that was a relief. I made an appt. for Monday, 1/19! The MOH is coming with me and has promised to try on hideous bridesmaid dresses if it makes me feel any better. Apparently the sales associate will also be assisting another bride at that time, which I think is kinda perfect...less attention focused on me so that I'm not outed as a DB imposter.

Still, I suppose I should bring in photos of dresses I've been looking at, to appear to be a properly prepared bride. I wonder if we can get away with taking photos? Some places won't let you, but maybe if the associate is distracted we can sneak them.

And the dress process begins! I suppose my next call should be to the seamstress to set up a consult.

Review of The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British

I requested this book from the library because I heard the author on the radio and she was funny and personable, and I thought the book would be funny too.

I was wrong on that one.

The book details the author's move to Britain to live with her British husband, but more specifically, it talks about the author's impressions of the British people as a whole, and their habits. All the cover blurbs exclaim about how funny and endearing a book it is. I kept waiting for either. I was thinking, "Did her husband read this book? Has any English person read this book?" It was practically scathing, with sections on dental care, the government, England's national alcohol abuse problem, tabloids, etc. It did not endear me to any British habits, or people; nor did it make me wish to visit Britain.

Perhaps the author was being ironic, and I missed it, or perhaps she is not so funny on the written page. She is a good writer, and I didn't hate the book...I guess I just expected something else.

The funny thing was, someone else had corrected some of the author's grammar. While I do this in my own books at home, I always refrain from doing that to library books because, well, they're not mine. So I got to see what someone else might see if they picked up one of my personal books. And...I didn't agree with this person's edits! It took everything I had not to write "stet" (let stand) in the margin. HA! Editor humor.

OMW: Day 3

This morning was so strange. Dark, warm, and really, really windy. It didn't make the walk to the gym very inviting. It was sorta post-apocalyptic weather.

Regardless, I survived, and I did my third morning workout, and I feel really good now. It was a real mood-lifter to look outside after my cardio part was done and see such a beautiful day sunny. Maybe next week we go to four days a week. I wonder if that's too soon?

We now have 9 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days left until the wedding. This wedding countdown brought to you courtesy of David's Bridal, who saw fit to subscribe me to their stupid spam newsletters with their cutesy countdowns but not actually schedule me an appointment, which is why they got my email in the first place! I'm going to call them today. Thank goodness I'm having my dress custom-made somewhere else. I'm in no mood for the run-around!

We got our proofs back from the engagement shoot. I think they're really cute, but Mr. T says he looks pasty and double-chinned, and he doesn't like his hair. Sigh. So, I guess I'm picking the shots I like, and he'll put up with them, which isn't exactly what I pictured! Hopefully he'll come around.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Images from the Internet--dresses, decor, and a cake

It's gotten to the point that when I Google "red wedding dress," I get sent to my own blog. However, since dress shopping is at hand, I tried again last night. First I emailed David's Bridal for an appointment. That's right, David's Bridal. I'm not looking forward to it--although part of me thinks it might be hilarious, especially with the MOH in tow--but I want to try on a variety of silhouettes and DB is probably the best place for that. I also thought they might actually have samples in my size, although perhaps that's hoping for too much.

Here are some images that I liked. The first is just for fun--I don't know when she wore this, but Madonna's dress is pure craziness here:

It's so over the top, I love it! This next dress looks gorgeous on the model but I guarantee it wouldn't look as good on me. Still, I love the color, the mermaid skirt, the embroidery, the jewelry...sigh. She looks like a princess. Albeit, a princess with a headache.

I have been looking at some vintage styles as options. I love the one below but worry again that it would not look good on my figure. Still, how fun and sassy!

In comparison, the dress below looks a little bedraggled...this is not a wedding dress, just a vintage dress someone's wearing, but despite the obvious signs of wear and the weird bunching under the skirt (pull it down, girl!), there's something about it I like.

Again re: silhouettes, I love the mermaid style but am concerned about how it would look. I love that I am a curvy girl and have no issues with showing that off, but I also want the dress to be flattering. I like the back of this one (and the color!) and I wonder if this style, which doesn't seem to be full-blown mermaid, would work? I worry in particular about the upper thigh region, if you know what I mean. Plus satin shows everything. It would have to be a different fabric, for sure. That's about as much train as I would want, I think.

These styles were also called "slight mermaid". Hm....a possibility?

I kinda like the back of this one. The bustle doesn't seem too overwhelming or ridiculous. Still, would this make one's ass look big?

Moving on to my other obsession: pumpkins. Look at this awesome monogrammed and dated (in roman numerals, no less) pumpkin! I love it, although I'd need help with the roman numerals. Once I get past 29 I have issues. Although, they didn't do the whole year. Maybe there's hope for me yet.

I love this sweet photo outside with the glowing pumpkins. So spooky and darling.

Below is (kinda) our table settings: pumpkins with flowers in them, and mini-pumpkins as votives. Our flower colors would be different colors, though.

I really like these silver pumpkins. So elegant and Cinderella-like, somehow. I am definitely considering painting pumpkins.

This is not a real pumpkin, but interesting:

Here's another idea I've mentioned before that we might do: placecards on mini-pumpkins. Cute, huh?

And this has nothing to do with pumpkins, except for what we might put in them: I like these branchy things. Very Halloween.

Mr. T and I love candy corn, so I loved this photo. I love ring shots in general. We definitely have to have some of those (ring shots and candy corn, that is).

I found a bunch of cute Halloween wedding stamps on Zazzle, but was less enchanted when I realized I'd be paying over double the normal postage amount for them. Um, no thanks! But, these are cute.

And finally for something completely different. I am also obsessed with leopard print, although I doubt it will appear at the wedding. Look at this awesome cake!!! OMG I love it.

I also like the leopard martini glasses, featured at the same wedding. Sigh.

That's it for now! More inspiration to come.

OMW: Day 2

Today was a lot harder than Tuesday. I did get up earlier, but not as early as I wanted to. And Mr. T did program the heater, but it didn't come on. Now it strikes me that perhaps he set the heater for 6 PM? Well, I guess it will be toasty when I get home tonight!

I have some postnasal drip going on but am refusing to admit it might be another cold. I told my body I wasn't giving in and proceeded to go to the gym to try and cook the germs out of me. I tried to wipe everything down uber carefully and wash my hands a ton, but it probably wasn't very nice of me. Come to think of it, maybe that's where I got this not-cold! Ah, well. It felt like my body was trying to sabotage my new routine, so I persevered in spite of it. It was a bit brutal today, though. My energy level was no where near as high as Tuesday, but I got through it, and thanks to leaving the house earlier I was able to do two sets of reps on most of the machines. When we're doing this 4 days a week it will be easier to get all my weights in because I'll alternate arms and legs.

I met up with Mr. T at the BART station afterward and he said the same thing: it was worse today. However, we both felt much better afterward, so that was good. I took a shower so hot my skin turned pink!

It's amazing how much better I feel after the gym. Sometimes it's so hard to get there, but afterwards, it's all worth it. I just have to keep reminding myself of that!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

OMW: Day 1

This morning we began Operation Morning Workout. We're going to do this two days a week to ease into it, then ramp up to four days a week.

It was not as hard as I thought to wake up early. I think both Mr. T and I were kind of excited about it, so at separate points during the night each of us woke up (him at 3 am, me at 4:30), started trying to mentally wake up because we thought it was time, and then realized that it was way too early and then tried to get back to sleep. I even dreamed about going to the gym.

When it was almost time for me to get up (I have to get up earlier than Mr. T because he works out at home and has a faster routine) Mr. T was really sweet and got out of bed to turn the heater on for me, because it was freezing. Our heater can be programmed to come on automatically...we're going to look into doing that. It made getting out of the warm bed a lot more bearable.

Leaving the house was easy because I'd set all my clothes out the night before, and didn't need to really get ready. It was weird to be walking to the gym in the dark, though. I had a "what am I DOING?" moment at the beginning of that walk. Mr. T and I talked about how this first one might not be the greatest or most productive workout of our lives, but we'd have to power through in order to make this a routine. However, when I finally reached the gym after my 15-minute walk, I felt ready to go, and I actually had a great workout. I didn't have enough time to do all the weights I wanted to do, so I think I'm going to need to leave even earlier (gasp) in the future, but this was a good start.

I have to say, I feel pretty great. It was totally worth it to get up early, and now my evening is free (well, I'm getting acupuncture tonight, but theoretically my evening would be free!). I'm really excited! I know it's just the first day, but I feel very fortunate to be marrying a very driven and determined man who will make sure I do get my butt out of bed to make this happen.

Wish us luck!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Photographer: Check

The Saturday after Christmas Mr. T and I woke up at some ungodly early hour to get ready for our engagement photoshoot and drive to LA (about an hour from my parents' house) to get our pictures taken.

What did I wear? Well, after raiding the MOH's closest and ransacking my own, I went pretty simple. I knew what Mr. T was going to wear, and I thought we should match. He wore a blazer, button up shirt, dark jeans, and boots. I wore my leopard-print heels, dark jeans, a black tank top with gold and bead detailing at the top, and a brown tailored jacket. Unfortunately we'll probably see mostly jacket and not much tank top, since it wasn't warm enough to go without. I also wore a little feather fascinator in my hair, since well, it is me.

We met with our photog at Disney Hall, which was Mr. T's suggestion. It's a cool wavy metal building by Frank Gehry. We were able to get in for free and walk around...the inside was just okay, not great for photos, but a couple of stories up there are cool areas outside. I think the photos will look very modern, down to the light, which was a cooler tone.

After Disney Hall we trekked over a few blocks to LA's Union Station, which is an old art deco train station that is still being used. These photos will look very different--the light was very warm in there, and there were a lot of shadows.

Mr. T surprised me by being very at ease getting his photo taken. He said he was mentally prepping beforehand, and you could tell! We both really liked the photographer and felt that we 100% picked the right person. Hooray! Funnily enough, she also got married on Halloween in a red dress. They are divorced now, but she was quick to tell us that everything was fine, they are best friends, has nothing to do with our happy nuptuals, etc. ;-) I think our friends will really like her; she will fit right in. She was planning out a costume to wear, which I just love.

This makes TWO deposits we've put down in the last month! Exciting! Now I need to get on the whole dress thing.

I will leave you with a couple of wedding photos she took that I like a lot. Please don't reproduce these!

Review of Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Well, this book was not as awesome as I wanted it to me. Nor did it have any closure. It was as if before writing the book, the author was contracted to write more books about these characters, leaving the vision for this one a little watered-down, so that there would be more stories to tell.

Instead of being an awesome conclusion to the series, it felt like one more chapter. Granted, I did like it better than the second book in the series. There was a lot more action, and the kids found out more info about who they were and who their parents were. The kids learn more about the other experiments the School is working on, including other mutants. Max finds out who the voice in her head is, and there is a big battle scene at the end of the book. Yet, for all that they win the battle, it became clear that it was just a battle, and that the war would be dragged into a second series, where Max is still expected to get on with "saving the world," which I thought would be done with in this book.

Oh, well, I'll probably still check the other series out of the library. I'm a sucker.

Review of The Secret History of Moscow

I found out about this book through Neil Gaiman's blog, and indeed, there's a quote from Mr. Gaiman on the cover, comparing the book to his own Neverwhere.

It did remind me a little of Neverwhere: the fantastic characters, the underground city.
It was a bit like Neverwhere meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, actually. This book chronicles how people are turning into birds in Moscow, and how three unlikely heroes (a cop, a mentally-troubled translator, and a street artist) team up and go underground to investigate this phenomenon.

Although I really enjoyed this book, which drew heavily on Russian folk and fairy tales for its cast of characters, I also had an emotional distance from all of the characters...I never really got invested in any of them.

Regardless, I would totally recommend this one.

Review of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

I can't remember how I found out about this book...maybe a Borders email? Anyway, as a big fan of cats and libraries, I had to read it, and it was one of the books I finished over the Christmas holidays.

Dewey is the story of the director of a library in a small town in Iowa, and how she found an abandoned kitten in the library drop box one morning after a very cold night (his little feet were frost-bitten) and decided to adopt him as the library's cat. The cat was dubbed Dewey Readmore Books, which I loved. The book chronicles Dewey's life as well as the life of the town and of the author. Some of it is very poignant--the author goes through a long struggle with various illnesses and family troubles--and some of it is funny, and a lot of it is not that well-written. I would recommend this one for cat lovers only!

As Mr. T and I say (speaking from our own personal experience of living with two cats), "cat people are weird". As word gets out about the library cat, folks come from all over the country to visit him...and eventually, all over the world, including a documentary film team from Japan! Dewey lived to the ripe old age of 19 and, as the title states, touched many lives in a positive way. When I read the end, although of course I knew he couldn't live forever, I got a little teary.

My conclusion? Cats are awesome. This book is pretty good. If you like cats and books, you might like this one.

Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a fabulous, prosperous, and healthy 2009. Nine is my favorite number, so I think it just might be a fantastic year!