Experiment: Growing out a Pixie

Hard things:

Eggs, boiled.
Times, by Dickens.
Growing out a pixie cut.

This is really old news, therefore not really news at all, but about a year and a half ago, I cut off 22 inches of hair. I documented the process with this very high resolution camera I found on my imac.

I've liked my Jean Seberg hair, but now that I know I have the bones to pull it off, I wanted to try other things.  Since I've been growing it out, my wish has been granted! I've had the opportunity to try SO many new things - like -

The Dwight

The Emilio, circa Breakfast Club

The Muppet

The Beatle

The Beatle Muppet

The Emilio, Circa D2

What a roll I'm on and it's only been 6 months! What hairstyle would you like to see me try next?

Weird Al?
Delta Burke?

Just let me know and YOUR wish will be granted!
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Blag? What's a blag?

I'm too busy to blog.

Fact That Makes The First Fact Irritating: 
I love to write.

8 months of no blogging? I really didn't realize I had been absent this long. But there is NO FREE TIME! It's been like this for years, but I feel like it's reached critical mass. For the last year I have had to "take care" of something every night. Social appointments become obligations, regardless of my relationship with the appointee. Work not only comes home with me, it sleeps with me. (In my DREAMS, gutter-brains! I DREAM about work.) Can I get a "sheesh?"

I'm pulling the plug on freelance for the next 6 months or so.
I'm putting an end to elaborate "happy birthday" video productions. Et al.
I'm going to spend more time with my even scarcer husband.
I'm going to say yes to watching the whole Woody Allen library. CAUSE I CAN.
I'm going to say yes to writing more over here, about things fundamental to me.
I'm going to say yes to blogging again.

I'm going to say "no" to everything else. Everything. I mean it. Just try and test me. No means no.
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Experiment: Quiz Night

During those formative preteen years, I'd stay up late and sneak my oldest sister's YM and Teen magazines into my room and (after reading every line of copy in the whole publication) would get excited upon reaching the interactive portion - the quizzes.

You know the kind - "Does He Secretly Like You?" "What's Your Summer Style?" "Does He Secretly Like Your Friend?" and "Does He Secretly Want to Hold Your Hand and Listen to Your New Collective Soul Album With You?"

The answer, it turned out, was a disheartening "no" most of the time.  It also taught me that if boys had one defining characteristic, it was that they were unquestionably secretive. And thus they remained so. The prophetic voice of YM magazine (unbelievably, no longer in print).

These tween-tailored questionnaires didn't exactly disappear. Rather they became more sophisticated, banking on the fact that all humans are A) interested in themselves, and B) have too much free time.

Fulfilling my self-interested-American duties, I was compelled to continue taking them as they evolved.

Color Code Test née Hartman Personality Profile (Yellow).

Meyers Briggs (INTP).

Proust Questionnaire (Various, unsurprising).

These were grown-up versions of the old Teen and YM 3-answer quizzes. Slightly more open-ended, requiring slightly more pondering. Still solipsistic. Still kind of a waste of time, even though endorsed by Proust. Yet, somehow, quizzically irresistible. Like a giant piece of flourless chocolate cake just sitting there.

Cut to.

Weekend date. Killer work week. 8pm Friday. Husband and I both too exhausted to be social, or to do anything besides lay around and try to think of something to eat. Nothing sounds good. Not even Nicolitalia. Too creatively drained to think of something fun to do. Oddly, bowling sounds attractive, though the energy can't be mustered. Mustard. Hot Dogs?

Stroke of genius. I pull out my laptop and head to Seventeen.com.

"QUIZ TIME!" I say, for the first time in my adult life.

Jared is skeptical, but trusting. Tolerant, more likely.

We're in luck - the quizzes are the same superficial junk they were 15 years ago. We take turns quizzing each other.

Who Is Your Celebrity Boyfriend? (Corbin Bleu. Maybe they meant Cordon Bleu?)

What's The Perfect Trend For Your Body? (Channel Your Flirty Fashion Sense With a Bold Scoop Tank!)

Could You Date Justin Bieber? (Yes. A girly girl to the core, the perfect date for you and J.B. would be something that allows you to spend serious quality time together (slow dancing, anyone?)

Addicting. It's like they're almost more fun to take now than they were at age 11. And let's be clear - of COURSE I could date Justin Bieber. He would be so lucky.

We went foraging for more. We came across the best/most ridiculous quiz site in the world. "Best" if you're 12, a terrible speller, and into Twilight, Jo-Bros, or Anime, and "most ridiculous" if you're a 27-year old married couple who's usually watches Woody Allen movies for fun.

There were so many to pick from:

How Will You Die? (Water. One day when ur [sic] 40 you develop a deadly allergie [sic] to water and after having a drink ur [sic] throught [sic] closes up n u [sic] die)

How Many 5th Graders Could You Take in a Fight? (100)

Penguins From the 1920s?

What Will Your Husband's Name Begin With? (S.)

The Grand Fat Quiz - What Level of Fat Are You? (*Average. Fair.)

Who is Your Perfect Anime Boyfriend?  (Yumichika Ayasegeuwa "Bleach." If you say so, internets.) 

and finally

What Do You Want For Dinner? (Enchiladas. Right on!) 

Thank you, Seventeen magazine online, for offering unintentionally amusing quizzes. Thank you, Quiz Night, for being way more weird and hilarious than most other activities.

And most importantly, thank you for helping an exhausted married couple figure out dinner.

*An Average Fatty
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Experiment: Zumba

Of the few trends I've fallen prey to (pagers, myspace, pixie hair), Zumba has definitely been the most unexpected. I know it's not by any means a new trend, but I'd never even heard of it before a few months ago when my Beehive girls expressed interest in doing it for a class activity. I just thought it was something weird 13-year-olds were up to. Like tamagotchis or something.

Outside of soccer, I'm not an "aerobics class" kind of gal. I like my exercise like I like my charming Star Wars smugglers. Solo.

So what inspired me to Zumba? (That can be used as a verb, right?) Who knows. Cabin fever? More likely because it was one of the classes offered through my mini-gym membership.

Maybe if you're here you already know about it or have tried it. Maybe you watch So You Think You Can Dance. But I'm guessing many of you don't know anything about it. And you really should know.

I want to tell you about it, really I do. I want to write a long DFW-inspired essay all about the hip-shakin, booty-makin craze that's sweeping mountain America. How weird and comfortable it is.

But the thing is, I'm too tired. Zumba is exhausting. It's taken the skip out of my step, while putting it back in.

Instead, I exhort you to read Alison's entertaining post. I've had a similarly strange and wonderful experience as my copywriter friend. I sort of fell in love.

Maybe it's because I was obsessed with Latin America for a few years in college. Maybe it's because I grew up in the most dance-party-friendly social circle in the Midwest. Maybe it's because I speak in made-up Spanish to myself at times.

More likely though it's because Zumba, though new news, is actually old news. Turns out, what the world calls "zumba" I call just a regular ol'late-night kitchen dance. I've been doing it for years.
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EXPERIMENT: Romancing the Novel

"With one leg in a cast and a heart hardened by bitter holiday memories, all Leslie wants for Christmas is a quiet and restful vacation at her aunt's Vermont home. But that was before she met the new neighbor, handsome Tagg Williams."

Well that sounds okay, I thought, standing in front of the holiday section at the library. It could easily be a John Irving book. Vermont. Snow. Disappointment.

I will say, reading a romance novel wasn't something that really ever interested me. I've been a hungry reader since childhood, but I never deigned to pick up a book of this breed. I may make great jokes ("breed" heh), but I simply don't read books as jokes. Allow me this snobbery. I also write poetry. Get over it.

However, I am a girl who likes to experiment. And a romance novel seems to be the perfect excuse to try it all, as they say. And a Christmas-themed romance novel at that. Also, after seeing Danielle Steel's monstrosity of a house the thought came to me, well someone must be reading her. A lot of lonely someones.

(A quick scan of the world's foremost source of cobbled information (Wikipedia) tells me this stereotype of the lonely female isn't entirely true. The core of romance readers, boast the RWA, are those in committed romantic relationships, more likely married than not, more likely Midwestern than not. In wikipedia-fact, romance novels are the most popular genre in modern literature, comprising almost 55% of all paperback books sold in the last decade. For your information.)

After 5 minutes of deliberation and quick scan of fellow library patrons, I checked it out in preparation for an 11-hour roadtrip (along with Wodehouse, hah). Moderation in all things.

The name - Mistletoe and Holly. Published in 1982 by Silhouette Romance, subdivision of Harlequin. A holiday romance with a tame-looking red and green cover. My first joke book.

The story is structured into three quick and distinct acts:

I - Leslie (a careerist - ad exec!) comes to visit lonely Aunt, has gruff run-in with comely neighbor Tagg. Tagg is a Gaston-cum-Gandhi character, a divorcee doctor gallivanting through Vermont countryside in lumberjack attire, presumably smelling of maple and Old English. In tow, Tagg's sprite daughter Holly, who serves less as daughter and more as puppy tactically placed next to men to attract females. Leslie resists Tagg's invitations to accompany him in various wintertime activities (sledding, cocoa-sipping, tree-chopping), probably because they are ridiculous date-ideas for someone on crutches. However, she is undeniably drawn to his quiet demeanor and physicality (Now that I'm grown I eat five dozen eggs, and I'm roughly the size of a baaaarge!)

II. - Aunt (bumbling Angela Lansbury type) encourages Leslie to spend time with Tagg, though Leslie is unsure. Aunt goes on an overnight trip to a friend's, and the electricity in the village goes out. Tagg the Hero arrives and carries Leslie (in a cast, remember) to his house "for [her] safety throughout the night." Peck under mistletoe, followed by light necking in front of roaring fireplace, until Holly ruins everything by coming downstairs for a drink. Tagg most likely annoyed daughter is not a puppy at this moment. Tagg reveals he is not a divorcee, but a widower. Leslie pities him and also herself. She demands to be taken home, where she indulges in a spiral of doubt and second-guessing. The thin, "intellectual" blonde wonders if she should let Tagg into her life, or he will hurt her like suitors past.

III. - Adorable Holly takes sudden interest in Leslie and comes over multiple times a day. Tagg apologetically fetches her each day, hoping to find an opportune moment to reveal his feelings and see if they are reciprocated. Sort of unsatisfying climax as Leslie decides she is in love with Tagg and wants to take care of Holly with him. Flashforward to Tagg and Leslie's wedding the next Christmas. Leslie is off her "crutches," in love, and is "walking again." Not the worst metaphor I've encountered in a book, but not the best either.

We were nearing Flagstaff as I finished the book, a wintery-landscape like unto Vermont. I closed the yellowed pages of Mistletoe and Holly and thought about it. As far as stories go, it wasn't horrible. It made sense (which is more than I can say about most movies of 2010). And it did get me in the Christmas mood. One more thing - this Reagan-era romance was incredibly tame. It was relatively smut-free, right between a PG and PG-13. Just a simple holiday story of love overcoming all.

So why all the critical disgust and judgment of romance novels? They don't seem to be any more insipid than their visual counterparts. Most rom-coms of the last 10 years have been incredibly banal and suffered from horrible scripts. If we read a novelization of one of them would it sound any more socially acceptable?

Beth is a young, ambitious New Yorker who is completely unlucky in love. However, on a whirlwind trip to Rome, she impulsively steals some coins from a reputed fountain of love, and is then aggressively pursued by a band of suitors. These suitors are among the most annoying of Hollywood's current male actors and as they drive around the city in a small Italian car, you kind of hope they will all die a fiery death.

Or how about

Abby Richter produces a morning news show that's about to be canceled. To boost ratings, her boss hires Mike Chadway, a local cable call-in host who promotes the ugly truth: sex is the only glue in a relationship. Mike offends Abby's sensibility: she has a checklist about the perfect man, and she's found him in her new neighbor, Colin, a hunky doctor. Mike offers to help her reel in Colin if she'll work with Mike on the show.

(When in Rome, The Ugly Truth)

Or how about

Creative Director Adrienne is about to engage on a 11-hour roadtrip with her hunky filmmaker husband Jared, when she decides to spice things up by bringing along a "comical" romance novel. However, her plans fall flat when the book turns out to be decidedly unfunny, and the two end up listening to Love Among the Chickens on audiotape and singing along to Cher. Things really heat up when they stop to buy Navajo jewelry and pick up a mysterious stranger - "Wandering Fingers."

I'm working on the novel now. You should read it. As far as romance goes, it'll be better than most rom coms. And you won't have to watch any Katherine Heigl. She is the worst.
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Regrets of 1992

2010 was a pretty even-keeled year. I doubt there would be much drama in a 2010 recap. You know what year was full of misfortune and regret? 1992.

SPRING - 8 years old. On the walk home from school, pair of bully boys start teasing my older sister. Throw rocks at them. Called one an "asshole." Ran home with sister and made teary confession to Mom that I said "the A-word." Eat some homemade bread.

SPRING - 8 years old. School is over, chilled Midwestern March. Rainstorm. My ride has not arrived. Wait underneath awning outside school for an hour. Finally walk home. Soaking upon arrival, locked out. Sit in a lawn chair outside house for an hour in the rain, shivering. Play it tough. Like I want to sit in the rain. Mom arrives home, feels terrible. Warm up in the bath, Mom fixes bean burrito.

SUMMER - 8 years old. Summon courage, finally dive off high-dive at public pool in Geneva. Over-rotate and land on my back.

FALL - 8 years old. Fawn over Michael Pentek all year, even though as an adult I will find him kind of funny-looking. Draw hearts over his 2nd-grade yearbook picture, write "mea mora" in red pen (thinking my secret will remain safe from my non Spanish-speaking sisters). Square dance with him in gym class. Act relatively uninterested with him during gym, though I have carefully selected outfits on gym days for his benefit. Never tell him I write songs about him at home. Never, ever talk to him. Regret this decision for more than a few years.

FALL - 9 years old. Mrs. Keen promises 3rd grade class cookies to accommodate Geology units - Igneous (angel crisps), Sedimentary (brownie bars) Metamorphic (who knows). Keen never delivers on Metamorphic cookies. Remember this broken promise till this day. Harbor vendetta against all elementary teachers.

WINTER - 9 years old. Ask for a "poet's blouse" for Christmas. Also ask for Marvin the Martian stickers. Receive both. Wear poet's blouse weekly. Write a lot of poetry, mostly woeful stuff about Michael Pentek.

Happy 1992 Everyone!
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