Tag Archives: embarrassment

When Looks are Deceiving

Several months ago I bought a Groupon (or maybe it was a LivingSocial…when you get fifteen of those emails a day they do tend to blur) for five classes at a local barre studio.  I’d heard barre was incredibly difficult, but when I pictured ballet mixed with yoga all I could see was a lot of stretching, and obviously, spandex.

My gal pal Lindsay was also picking up on the trend, so we agreed to meet for a barre class the following week.  First I thought I’d try one solo to get myself acquainted with this newfangled exercise, but I didn’t realize joining this class would be like breaking into Fort Knox.

To begin with, the studio is in an office building, one which looks identical to every building in downtown Bellevue.  There isn’t a sign on the building’s exterior, so I missed the driveway only to see a tiny sandwich board at the end of it pointing to the parking. 

After parking, I got off the elevator and walked into the studio a responsible ten minutes early.  The receptionist stared at me blankly as I gave her my best “greet me and ask if I need help” face.  Left to the introductions myself, I said, “Hi.  I’m here for the 5:45 class?  I have a Groupon-LivingSocial for five classes.” 

She stifled a laugh.  “This class?  Today?  Did you sign up online?”  I paused before responding, as dozens of women poured into the room behind me. 

“Um, no,” I replied.  “I wasn’t aware I had to pre-book.”  What was this?  The Olympic trials?

I looked over at the children’s play area and realized I’d stumbled down the rabbit hole into Bellevue Mom territory.  In a flash, I could see the well-coiffed women arriving for their 11AM class each day, dressed in head-to-toe Lululemon, pushing baby Victoria in a Bugaboo stroller.  I shivered and returned my attention to the principal of Sass Elementary in front of me.

“Today’s class is completely full, with a waiting list,” she told me coolly.  “The best I can offer you is for you to wait over there until after class starts, and if someone doesn’t show I can give you their spot.” 

If I hadn’t just driven across town, searched for the building, and parked in a garage, I would have told her that it wasn’t worth my time.  But I was standing there in yoga-wear, and we both knew I wanted in that class.   So I sat.

After ten minutes of pretending to flip through magazines, she told me the class was full, as expected.  She gave me instructions on signing up for future classes online, and recommended I do so several days before my desired class.  I barely made eye contact as I left.

Days later, I told Lindsay that this class was designed to make us feel unwanted and unattractive, two qualities we both despised.  She told me it couldn’t possibly be that bad, and to meet me there the following week (provided we both signed up, of course).

By the day of the class, the bitter taste in my mouth had dissipated, and we joked about showing up in tights and legwarmers.  We were convinced this was nothing more than a vanity excercise designed to make Bellevue Moms feel like they were working out without actually doing so. 

We lined up dutifully at the barre, giggling and nonchalant about the work in front of us.  Everyone grabbed half-pound weights, but we chose three-pound weights because seriously, half a pound? Why grab a weight at all? 

The class started innocently enough with a standard warm-up, and then the instructor told us how to move our arms with those measly weights.

Within a minute and a half Linds and I were looking at each other with the slightest hint of panic.  Our arms were trembling and every time we thought the instructor would relent, she’d just make us hold it longer.  Each move was harder than the last and we started to grimace to get through it. 

Without a pause she lead us right into leg work and thirty seconds hardly passed before we looked at each other doubled over in laughter.  We couldn’t function because it was so, so hard and the pain wasn’t nearly as horrifying as the embarrassment of our underestimation. 

“Drop an inch lower, and HOLD.  You can do this, ladies, your legs should be shaking right now,” she yelled cheerfully. 

There was no time to account for time at all, because our minds were lost in the pain.  We were thrown face-first into submission and found ourselves loving every humiliating second. 

Lindsay turned toward me from a deep plie, “We’re doing this twice a week,” she gasped between gritted teeth.

“Forget yoga,” I grunted back.  “I need this woman’s legs.”

So we did.  Every week we showed up and sweated and giggled until extended travel took my partner away from me.  Refusing to quit, I called Kelly, who I knew could take the pain.

“You’re making me nervous,” she confessed over email.  “What if I can’t do it???”

Realizing I might lose her before class had even started, I lied, “You’ll be fine!”

Without realizing it, I’d lied to myself as well, because instead of our usual chipper instructor,  we were led by a drill sergeant disguised as a barre instructor.  Before we’d even finished the warm-up, she’d zeroed in on us as the rookies and pointed out our many mistakes.

Ten minutes into the class, Kelly looked over at me with a look of desperation.  I felt validated, so instead of saying something supportive, I said “I TOLD you!” which she found helpful, I’m sure.

She also found the brutality to be addictive, and has since gone to several more classes.  She takes those beatings like a champ.

What makes the class so difficult, one might wonder?  It doesn’t look difficult, after all.  I always look around the room and marvel at how easy the poses look.  I suppose it’s the micro-movement; instead of doing full repetitions with weights, you hold your arms straight in front of you and move them up and down a mere inch.  Oddly, it’s much harder than doing a full repetition.  Same with the legs — instead of a full squat, you squat down and then move up and down an inch until the fire in your legs is spreading over your entire body.

Torture is really the best way I can explain it.  Beautiful, effective torture.  The major bummer is that it’s twenty bucks per class, so I’ve stolen classes by way of memorization so I can do it for free at our home gym.  This is sort of pathetic, but I’m OK with it.

At the end of my first class, sitting exhausted across the room from me was my old nemesis, the receptionist.  She gave me a nod of approval, which made me realize her initial hostility had more to do with assuming I was a lightweight Bellevue Mom than anything else.  Having survived the class, I gave her the smile of a comrade who’s been through the same battle and come out alive. 

Needing to be wheeled out of class on a stretcher, but alive.

9 Comments

Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

Raindrops on Roses

Yesterday I was at Trader Joe’s for my weekly grocery run, and as I waited in the checkout line I looked out the door to the parking lot.  It had been lightly sprinkling when I’d come in, but now it was a colossal downpour rarely seen in Seattle.  I looked down at my clothes: no raincoat.  Earlier that morning, like an idiot, I’d told myself “April showers, May flowers…who needs a raincoat?”

After paying, I pushed my cart outside and stood under the awning.  I took one step out from under it and was splattered in drenching rain.  I jumped back and spent thirty seconds debating how long would be too long to wait for the rain to pass, but decided that was a truly pathetic response for a nearly fifteen-year Seattleite.  In order to reduce the soak, I visualized my approach like a sprinter pictures crossing the finish line — I’d unlock the doors, grab both grocery bags, open the door, toss both bags inside, and then hurry back to return the cart.

It was all planned.  What’s that they say about the best-laid plans?

I dashed along the sidewalk to my car, which was parked in front of the building, so I didn’t have far to go.  I grabbed the handle of the cloth bag and the handle of the paper bag and stepped off the curb to move toward the car door.  I never saw the cement parking stop that caught both of my feet — I fell so fast I didn’t even realize I’d fallen.  I was standing one moment, and the next I was lying face-first in an inch of water, all of my groceries splayed out before me.  My mind raced to catch up to what was happening, but all I could think was “Why is the puddle red?”  Suddenly I realized a bottle of wine had shattered and was soaking not just the cement but my groceries, too.

“Oh my gosh are you OK?” a woman behind me asked.  She looked truly horrified and stopped to stare.

“I’m fine, I think,” I replied, not knowing which way was up.  “I think I’m fine.”  I finally stood up and tried to triage the situation.  As the rain continued to pour, I couldn’t decide what was most urgent — my cell phone lying face down in water, my leather purse lying on its side in the water, or both bags of groceries which were now soaked through.  It’s incredibly bizarre how the brain functions when it’s in minor shock — all of this seemed to last for forty-five minutes, but actually occurred in about twenty seconds.

I picked up my purse, keys and cell phone and threw them over my shoulder.  I grabbed the cloth bag which wouldn’t break on the bottom, and determined that the groceries inside were mostly OK.  I threw it in the car, splattering a pint of water all over the seat.  I gingerly picked up the shattered glass fragments from the concrete and put them in the disintegrating paper bag with the ruined groceries.  It occurred to me just then that I’d now have to re-shop for all of these items, and the thought of it completely overwhelmed me.

I picked up the bag and carried it inside, in a daze.  I stood in the doorway dripping water from my hair and clothes, and put the bag down on the floor.  I looked around for an employee but couldn’t really get over the fact that I was standing in the middle of a grocery store fighting back tears, and didn’t want anyone to see me at all.  Finally I walked up to the nearest one who had a chipper can-I-help-you look until she turned and saw me and dropped her jaw.

“I need help,” I said feebly, “I fell in the parking lot and need a garbage can for my groceries…” I didn’t finish before she interrupted.

“Oh my gosh, oh you poor dear!  Are you OK?  Are you hurt?” she asked earnestly.

“I’m alright,” I replied, realizing for the first time that my left knee was actually throbbing and my left hand was scraped.  “I picked up the glass because I don’t want someone to get hurt…” I trailed off because she had already picked up my soaking bag and was guiding me toward the other side of the store.

“We’re going to get these replaced for you,” she said matter-of-factly, the idea of which had never even occurred to me.  “Just give me a moment while I see what you have here.”

I bit my lip to keep from crying because her kindness was all it would take to break the dam.  I grabbed a paper towel and started wringing the water out of my hair and off my clothes.  I looked down at my leather boots which were beyond help, and realized I was wearing leggings that should have torn, but were surprisingly intact.

The woman came out of the back room with a piece of paper and a basket and started running around the store filling it up with all of my ruined items.  I was shocked to see this and wanted to trail after her to tell her I could do it, but the odd thing was, I really couldn’t.  If they had thrown away my groceries I know I would have turned around and driven home without the items, because I was still shaking and my knee was aching.  Toss in my humiliated face and soaked clothes and you have someone who is not willing to wander the aisles for food.

I closed my eyes and heaved a major sigh of gratitude that the employees of Trader Joe’s were such angels.  In doing so, I must have looked even worse because a fellow shopper walked by, looked at me, and stopped.

“Arrrrrre you OK?” he asked.  I told him I was fine and mentally noted that however bad I thought I looked, it was probably twice that.

The lady with my groceries came back and said, “I’m so sorry but we’re all out of the ground flax seed you had in your bag, so we’re going to refund you for that.”  The idea that she was inconveniencing me with her lack of flax seed was so laughable that I did just that — I laughed.

I looked down at her name-tag and noted her name – Nancy – so I could write a composed thank you note, as I didn’t have the words to tell her thank you sufficiently.

Another employee walked up to me and handed me the two dollars and change for the flax seed, and then double-bagged my fresh groceries.  Just then Nancy came walking over with a bouquet of flowers, and I caught my breath at their generosity.

“Nancy, I can’t thank you enough.  I really am so embarrassed and I’m so grateful for your help,” I told her.  “The flowers are just above and beyond, I don’t know what to say.”

She instantly saw that I was one word away from bursting into tears, so instead she hugged me.

I walked to the car with my groceries and flowers, amazed at the kindness of strangers.  In the words of Anne Lamott, God was really showing off on this one.

I got in the car and finally cried like I’d wanted to since the moment I fell.  Except these tears weren’t just filled with a bruised knee and ego, they were also filled to overflowing with gratitude.

16 Comments

Filed under The WORD (Faith)

Tragedy or Rescue?

Last week I flew to Bethlehem, PA for my grandma’s memorial service (I will post about that when I’m finished writing it).  Oddly enough, both flights were easy and on time, which I can’t say has happened often in recent memory.  Nice work, Delta.

The sticky widget was the connection.  The layover in Detroit was only 30 minutes.  Perhaps they were just being kind by moving me out of Detroit as quickly as humanly possible.  If that was their intention, then I tip my hat to them.

For the flight out of Seattle, I was seated next to an outspoken woman in her sixties, and an outspoken woman in her thirties.   They had managed to bond in the ten seconds before my arrival and welcomed me into their sisterhood, even though I usually make a point of ignoring all people on planes.

They had just switched seats out of mutual preference, and when I took my seat in the middle (imagine, no one wanting to trade my seat) they were quick to cheerily ask each other and me, “Which would you rather be?  The person who is inconvenienced, or the person who is inconveniencing others?  I’d rather be inconvenienced.  Definitely!”  They each nodded in agreement, affirming their mutual self-sacrifice.

What is this, I asked myself, Girl Scout tryouts?

Before I could respond, the older lady turned to me and said the usual, “Where are you traveling?”  After I replied, like clockwork, she exclaimed, “Me too!”

Fantastic.

“Weren’t you thrilled by the fares?  I mean, what a steal.  Isn’t Delta the absolute best?” she inquired further.

Maybe it’s just me, but one does not typically compare airfare once airfare has been purchased, because most people understand that ticket prices fluctuate by the hour, and one is sure to either feel terrible about her own price or make someone else feel terrible about their price.  This woman did not know this.

“Actually,” I replied (because why not make her feel a little remorse for starting this conversation?) “I am traveling for a funeral, so I had to purchase my ticket just last night, and I paid three times as much as you.”

“Oh!” she gasped.  “Oh I’m sorry.  Well did you at least take advantage of Delta’s fantastic bereavement program?”

Again, why ask this question when the opportunity for me to take advantage of it has already passed?  What could possibly be gained?

“Um no, I’m afraid not,” I replied.  “I called another airline who said they don’t offer those types of discounts, so I didn’t bother calling for Delta’s.”

“Oh that’s such a shame, because they do.  They do!” she said.

I reached for my People magazine.

Four hours later we were about to land, and she turned to me and said, “We only have thirty minutes to make it to our gate, and I’ve already checked the map of the Detroit airport and it’s going to be quite a haul.  So we’re really going to have to make a run for it.”

We?  Did I fall unconscious at some point during the flight and say in my sleep that I needed a travel partner?  I smiled sweetly and agreed that it would be close.  As soon as the plane landed, she barked at me to get my bags, and then we filed out of the plane.  I didn’t see her for a moment, and thought I’d be able to navigate the airport in peace, when I looked ahead and saw her up the galley waiting for me.

The walk that followed was ten different kinds of awkward.  Since she set the standard by waiting for me, I had no choice but to stick with her the rest of the journey.   And it was a journey.  Long walk, moving walkway, escalator, air tram, escalator, moving walkway, escalator.

At every escalator or moving walkway, we’d do this horrifically awkward shuffle of not knowing whether we should get on side-by-side and openly acknowledge each other, or whether we should split up and each take our own, pretending we were not really together.  Please don’t forget that in this whole “traveling companion” exchange we had not even learned each other’s names.

To add to the unbearable awkwardness, we had to keep up this fake I’m-waiting-for-you-but-I’m-acting-like-I’m-not charade.  She’d fall behind, and I’d walk like a sloth until she caught up.  We had to navigate the tram system together, with each of us telling the other where we thought we should get off and where it would lead.

One doesn’t realize how intimate these minute traveling decisions are until one has to perform them with a stranger.  We’re actually pretty vulnerable when we’re in an unfamiliar place, and suggesting the wrong route or acting more calm than you feel is something we usually only share with those in our inner circles.

After about a ten minute walk/ride/sprint through the Detroit airport, we approached the last escalator.  After doing what was by now our practiced dance of choosing which escalator to ride, we chose separate ones.  We couldn’t see the top of the staircases, and there was only one major sign that said the escalators lead to our B gates.

All of a sudden, the few men in front of me started getting shorter.  That’s weird, I thought.  Are they all bending down…no, instantly I realized my escalator ride was ending much too soon.

I looked over to my traveling companion and she was already ten feet above me.  She saw what was happening too, and shouted, “I’ll turn around!  I’ll come back down for you!”

Suddenly all of our faking and subtlety and aloof attitudes were proven to be the lie that they were, and I was shouting back, “No!  You go!  I’ll find my way!  It’ll be OK!”  Desperately, she yelled in response, “I’ll hold the plane for you!”

At this point everyone around us knew for sure that I was an absolute idiot.  Who doesn’t realize the escalator only goes two floors?  To which I might reply, how often does this happen?  When on earth are two escalators literally side-by-side, and one stops halfway up?

Immediately it was quiet and I was left standing in a much smaller space than the one I was sure my friend was walking onto, and I searched to no avail for a down escalator.  I found an elevator and it opened to reveal several handicapped people.  I felt like an absolute jerk as I interrupted their ride for my one floor gain.

As I exited the elevator and walked toward my gate, I realized my view of my seatmate hand changed.  I couldn’t believe a stranger would embarrass herself by shouting in a public place, all for my comfort.  Sure, she probably knew that I could find my way to the gate alone, but she acknowledged that together we’d gone ninety percent of the way there, and she didn’t want to let me walk that last ten percent alone.

After I arrived at the gate with minutes to spare, she found me and said, “You made it!  Terrific.  I’m going to go get a snack.”

And that was that.  Our journey had ended.  I sighed with relief that she probably wouldn’t be sitting next to me on the ride to Bethlehem.  We would no longer have to overcome Lewis and Clark-esque challenges.  I also realized, a little sadly, that no one would be by my side the rest of the way.

10 Comments

Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

The Opposite of Art Sophisticates

Mike and I each set off a museum alarm while in Europe.

One of us did this intentionally.  The other did not.

Both of us didn’t get caught. 

Here are our stories.

We were walking around the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, exploring the decorative arts (read: furniture) of the 16th century.  There were several-hundred-year-old chairs and beds, expansive red-velvet hangings and silk bedspreads.  I was enthralled with the idea of seeing how people actually lived in their homes, as opposed to just seeing what they’re famous for (their works of art, for instance).

Mike was walking a room or two ahead of me (medieval home furnishings not being a topic that makes him gasp with excitement), and I had slowed to look at a particularly ancient carved wooden chair.  I started thinking about all of the hundreds of people who had sat in that exact chair over the last 500 years, and it gave me little goosebumps.  Those little goosebumps took me straight back to being eight years old, at any of a number of historical sites with my mother.

“Abby, think about it, George Washington LIVED HERE.  This was HIS ACTUAL BED.  You have to touch it!  You have to touched what he touched!  This is HISTORY!”

So, inevitably, I would touch it.  I touched everything I could get my hands on, particularly in Williamsburg, and always at the urging of my mother.  She and I shared a special history-obsessiveness, and touching things was the only way to separate us from the throngs of passing public who merely looked at each exhibit. 

As I stood in front of the chair at the V&A, however, I failed to account for the nineteen years of museum technology that had occurred between my preteen illegal activity and now.

I looked around the room.  Empty. 

For just a split second, I reached across the rope and put my hand on the armrest of the chair.  Satisfied, I started walking to the next room.  It only took three seconds for the alarm to activate.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.

I jumped at the sound and started walking faster toward Mike, who was far enough away not to hear the sound.  By the time I reached him, four guards had appeared at the scene of the crime and were walking around looking for the perp. 

But I was too smart for them.  I’ve watched cop shows, I know what to do — the opposite of what a law-breaker would do: talk to the guards.

I walked up to the nearest guard and explained that I was looking for Da Vinci’s drawings.  I expected a quick answer that would dismiss me from suspicion, but apparently I chose the one guard who had been looking for his chance to show that he knew every corner of the museum by memory.

“Da Vinci is in room 24, which follows a series of rooms that explore several artists’ significant contributions to…” I glanced at Mike in misery that we had just been trapped, as the guard continued, “…or alternately you could take the Asian exhibit route which would show various periods of dress from the seventeenth to…”  This was never going to end.

Luckily, it did, and I never brought up my little dalliance with the law with the husband.

Until…

Five days later we were at the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris, appreciating Monet’s enormous murals of his water lilies in Giverny.  We decided to venture downstairs to the temporary exhibits, because we had yet to see any of Picasso’s work while on our trip.

We noticed as we walked room to room that there were small metal rails blocking people from getting too close to each work of art.  But the odd thing about the rails was that they were only 12 inches off the ground, and they were extremely sharp and squared off on the ends. 

When we found the Picasso area, we moved slowly around the room, looking at each piece of art.  Without Mike realizing it, I left the room and moved into the next, and as he glanced up and saw that I was gone, he turned too quickly and jammed his leg right into a rail. 

He immediately lost his balance and gave a shout at the pain, and tumbling forward, he smacked his hand against the wall for support.  Only his hand didn’t land on the wall.  It landed on a Picasso.

Cue the alarm.

Suddenly Mike came hobbling toward me with the look of an animal in the crosshairs of a hunter.  He was grabbing his leg and reaching for the bench I was sitting on.  He pulled up his pant leg to reveal a three-inch gash on his shin.  But he didn’t care about his leg.

“Oh my gosh I just smacked the Picasso.  Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  Look at the painting, I just smashed my hand into the glass.  Did they see?  Did they see me?”

Just then a female guard came running, literally sprinting down the hall toward the Picasso.  She stopped directly in front of it and started waving her arms around in the universal “Who did this?  Who did this?” gesture.  She turned around several times, as if the idiot who assaulted the painting would be standing there ready to be escorted out.

“Keep your head down,” I said to Mike.  “And stop grabbing your leg!  She’s going to put two and two together!”

The woman circled the area once more and then threw her hands in the air in exasperation, as if she had conducted a full investigation and come up empty.

“I can’t believe I just set off the alarm.  Who does that!?” Mike asked me.

I decided the only way to make him feel better was to come clean. 

“Well…” I began.  “At least you didn’t do it on purpose…”

11 Comments

Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

Designing Woman: Part Three

People may think of a number of descriptive words for me, but D0-It-Yourself is not among them.

One of my favorite blogs that I read all the time is Young House Love, and they are all about the DIY.  But they’re DIY on crack.  They knock down walls and paint brick and tear out concrete.  They do an incredible job of making it look accessible, but it still scares the junk out of me.

Enter our hideous bar stools that the previous owner of our home left us — and refused to pick up when we found she had left them (but we could hardly blame her — they’re hideous, after all):

Not only is the pattern like something from a Ringling Brother’s Circus, but one of them was actually stained:

How did we live with them for 16 months?  If I think about that question too long I will go into convulsions, so in the interest of time, let’s skip that question.

When Mike and I decided that we finally had to get rid them, naturally we planned to throw them away and buy new ones.  But then some DIY-type friends heard our plan and were aghast that we’d waste money and resources on “such a simple project.”

Sure.  Simple for you.  This coming from the people who carve their own dining room tables.

We promptly ignored their suggestion and proceeded to look for new bar stools.  However, upon finding that any decent bar stool was at least $150 a pop, we figured why not try to fix our current ones?  If we fail we can always throw the embarrassment in the garbage and THEN spend the $450.

Off to the fabric store we went.  We chose a fabric, bought a staple gun and some backing and headed home for the dirty work.

First we took the stools apart to determine if we’d need to strip the fabric.

We decided that the backing on our new fabric was thick enough to prevent any of the old fabric from showing through, so we left the seat fabric on.

The fabric on the back of the stool, however, had to come off.  That was not a fun process.


We then proceeded to iron our new fabric to ensure it was perfectly smooth.  When I say “we,” I mean “he.”  We all know I don’t know how to iron.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern?

Everything worked like a charm until this point.  The next step was nothing short of maddening.  We had to align the fabric perfectly, staple it correctly and tightly, and make sure the corners didn’t look freaky.  We alternated between talking to each other through gritted teeth like seamstresses on Project Runway, and cheering each other on like we were at the Mathletes Finals.

After dozens of removed staples, we finally had it:

…and then we realized we had to do it again two more times, and we almost decided it would be easier if we just sold our house and left the new owners with two torn apart stools.  Let history repeat itself, we said.

But we motored through, and finished all three seats and one seat back.

Those of you paying attention realize this leaves two seat backs unfinished.  How long do you think it took Mr. and Mrs. Reph to finish those last two seat backs?  I’ll give you some hints:

  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to get five credits at a university
  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to grow 1/3 of a baby
  • it’s the same amount of time that Seattleites enjoy the weather each year

Three months, people.  Three months.  For three months, two of our chairs sat there without backs.  For three months, we told our guests we’d “just started” this project and that we were going to complete it “this weekend.”  It was sometimes the last thing one of us would say to the other before falling asleep, “You know, we really need to finish those bar stools.  No seriously.  It’s embarrassing.”  The other would always dutifully reply, “I know.  Totally.  Let’s do it this weekend.  Oh wait, we’re out-of-town.  Next weekend, then.  For sure.”

This went on for three months.

Until this week.  This week, in a fit of energy, we decided it had to come to an end.  We got home from a date, walked right into the dining room and started stapling like it was our jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Victory!

Aren’t they pretty?  But really, the attractiveness doesn’t even matter to me at this point.  The point is that they are done, complete, finito.

And just as I hoped, they bring in the red from the family room behind them, and help add a little color and interest to the space.

The other side of the victory is that what should have cost $450 ended up only costing $35 ($20 for the fabric and backing, $15 for the staple gun).  Even though they aren’t perfectly done, I’ll take imperfect at $35 over perfect at $450…at least for now.

Instead of teaching us that we are DIY-capable, this certainly proved to us that we should never remodel a home.  It took us three months to do the backs of two stools; I don’t think we should be knocking down walls and replacing granite counter-tops.  For the sake of our marriage, obviously.

To read about other design projects we’ve conquered managed, see here and here.

6 Comments

Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

On Owning It

I’m 26 years old, and yet I had two costumes for Halloween weekend.

And I don’t even like Halloween very much.

On Friday at work I dressed as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  I was Michelangelo, for obvious, husband-related reasons.  My entire team dressed up and we actually won a contest for Best Cube Decoration.  We made our cubicle aisle into a sewer.

Allow me to illustrate:

That is a pizza box on the right.  We were detailed.  And that is why we are the proud owners of a $100 gift card to Chili’s.  Yes, Chili’s.

We quickly did some research to discover the Chili’s gift card would also work at Macaroni Grill or Maggianos.  Needless to say, we were all relieved.

A few things to note:

1.  I have nunchucks.
2.  I have a cardboard shell.
3.  Splinter is in life-size poster form.

Clearly you can’t win contests by doing things half-way.

On Saturday evening Mike and I went to two parties, and I was dressed as a banana.  Mike was a sock monkey.  We both thought this was hilarious until we showed up at the first party and we were the only people in costume.

Later some other people showed up in costume, but I hardly consider a kitten-ears headband a costume when I am literally inside a polyester banana.

As we were driving to the second party, it occurred to me that this humiliation might happen again.  Not in the same way, since we knew everyone at the next event would be in costume, but in the sense that my costume was decidedly funny, and I knew every other woman’s costume would be decidedly whorish.

After we parked, I turned to Mike in the car and said, “I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of everyone being ‘the sexy something’ and me being the not-even-remotely attractive fruit.”

He didn’t hesitate, “You need to walk in there and OWN IT.  Your costume is hilarious and so much more fun than the cliché “hot nurse” or whatever the girls are wearing tonight.  OWN IT.”

So that’s what I did.  I walked in and struck a pose and people totally responded.  They laughed, and I realized that was much more fun than looking trampy on Halloween.

This isn’t a judgement on those who look sexy on Halloween — it’s totally cultural and virtually everyone does it.  I just discovered that men don’t corner the market on silly rather than slutty.

In fact, you could argue that my costume was a little sexy-banana-ish, considering I was wearing black leggings and knee-high boots.  However, when one realizes my costume came from Pottery Barn Kids, it loses its sex appeal significantly.

Now that I know I am no longer afraid to be a food paired with an animal, the possibilities are endless.  Horse and carrot?  Cow and grass?  Elephant and peanut?

Bring it on.

7 Comments

Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

I’m Searching for the Word that means “Honored AND Embarrassed.”

This was Monday night at a ceremony honoring my mom as Bellevue’s Volunteer of the Year.  She had no idea anyone knew about the event, so when 25 of her nearest and dearest showed up, she was totally pissed (in a good way).

I’m pretty sure the city council meeting hasn’t seen this much action in, well, its existence.  I’m also pretty sure it was unprecedented when all of us virtually emptied the room after her item on the agenda concluded.  There was audible laughter as we all scampered out of the room before the mayor could begin the discussion on traffic congestion on 4th Avenue.

We high-tailed it to John Howie Steak House to raise a glass to a woman who quietly works to improve the lives of the disadvantaged.  Let’s emphasize the “quietly;” she was mortified to be recognized.  And she’ll be just as mortified that I mentioned her here.

Sorry, Mom, but you ARE the Volunteer of the Year.  The cat’s officially out of the bag anyway.

In case you’re interested in the speech that was read to introduce her:

The City of Bellevue Volunteer of the Year Award is designed to recognize volunteers who have not only made a significant contribution to the community or to an individual, but have also gone above and beyond the call of duty, shown leadership, innovation, creativity, collaboration and partnering.

Tonight we are honoring the City of Bellevue Community Volunteer of the Year, Alyson McMurtry, who serves at the Jubilee REACH Center.

The Jubilee REACH Center provides community based programs to meet the needs of the diverse and underserved Lake Hills Community of Bellevue, Washington. All services at the JRC are offered free of charge and rely heavily on volunteer support. The Jubilee REACH Center serves families and individuals in the Lake Hills community regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity.

Alyson started a no-cost English-as-Second-Language Program (ESL) with 5 adult students in a church Sunday school basement room.  The program has grown to 186 students, 53 volunteers and operates 4 days a week in 7 classrooms.

Building close relationships with their students, Alyson and her volunteers saw deeper needs and connected students to support services at Jubilee REACH Center.  As a result of her efforts, her  ESL students received free dental and medical care, counseling, legal assistance, Christmas gifts, rent and utility assistance, eye glasses, computer classes and computers, before school childcare, after school care, job search help, parenting classes, exercise classes and winter coats.

Furthermore, Alyson has given untold hours as an active volunteer at First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue and throughout the Bellevue community. Among other accomplishments she has:

  • coordinated preparation and serving of annual Thanksgiving Dinner for 450 neighbors for 10 years;
  • served on the Hunger Ministry, feeding hungry Bellevue neighbors;
  • coordinated the Alternative Gift Market, raising money for local underserved families and the poorest people of the world; and
  • taught English at Hopelink for 5 years.

7 Comments

Filed under The WORD (Faith)