I am happy and proud to redirect you to my new home:  www.pseudostoops.com.  Come by, say hello, and change your feed readers and your bookmarks.  See you over there!

Note unrelated to this post:  MacBook, you are ON NOTICE.  When I unplugged you from power source to start typing this post, you were fully charged.  Twenty-three minutes later, you alerted me that I was now running on reserve battery power.  Unacceptable.  To the genius bar for you, young man.

***********************************************************************************
Over the weekend we took a whirlwind trip to California, to go to Monterey for the wedding of my college roommate.

One of the most frustrating things about visiting Northern California with John is that it is literally impossible for us to see all of the people we love out there in the course of one weekend.  This is doubly true when we have to drive down to Monterey for an event, since Monterey is technically about 90 miles from where our friends live.

The wedding was beautiful, and my friend was so happy and radiant that it was impossible not to feel privileged to be a part of her day.  And we got to see some of John’s best friends, including one who is a few days away from a tremendous accomplishment, after many years of hard work, so it was great to spend time with him to celebrate.  Still, though, when we got on the plane to come home I couldn’t help but feel a little wistful about all the people I didn’t see.

What I didn’t feel wistful about, surprisingly, was leaving Northern California.  This was sort of unexpected.  You see, for years, whenever I got on a plane to leave California, I felt sad – California felt like home to me, and everywhere else was just a place where I was temporarily until I got to return home.

But on this trip, for the first time, I found myself not wishing that I lived in San Francisco.  Sure, I still love it, and I still spent much of the trip lobbying John to go to my favorite places to eat for food we can’t get back in Chicago.  But there was no part of me that wished we lived there.

There were a lot of things it turns out I don’t miss.  Talking to our friends who live in an adorable one-bedroom and discovering they pay more in rent than we pay in a mortgage?  I don’t miss that.  Driving on the 101 in traffic?  I don’t miss that.  Spending hours talking about the rarified world of Silicon Valley technology, where everyone knows the name of the founder of the Next Big Startup, when I don’t work in tech and never will?  I don’t particularly miss that.

(Our lovely friends do, in fact, work in tech, and it’s fun to hear them talk about their work, but the constant hum from everyone around you of “this startup just got this guy and that one just got that guy and this one just got X dollars of funding and that one just lost is next round of angel funding” makes my eyes start to glaze over.)

Yesterday morning, as we were packing to leave, the California State Supreme Court delivered its ruling upholding Prop 8.  As we drove to the airport, we passed a protest on the corner- people holding signs, some dressed in wedding gowns, objecting to the decision and pledging to continue the fight for equal rights. Dozens of cars (including ours) honked in solidarity and support as they drove by.

I felt a rush of affection for California’s culture of protests and the progressive tendencies of the neighborhoods where I’ve lived.  But I also was reminded of how broken California is, what a joke it is to have a state constitution that requires a 2/3 majority to pass a budget, but only a simple majority popular vote to take away rights from a minority group, and how bad the state is at addressing the needs of its poor families.

I don’t pretend that Illinois has this stuff figured out- god knows we don’t.  But these days, instead of wishing I could chuck it all and move back to the Bay Area, I found myself ready to come home – to Chicago.

As I would imagine is the case at a lot of gyms, there’s sort of a usual crowd to the spin classes I go to.  There’s heavy-sweating super expensive bike gear guy, who has special spinning shoes and gel-butt bike shorts, and gloves, and racing shirts.  There’s gazelle girl, who is at least 6 feet tall, is 90% leg, and wears little spandex shorts the size of a postage stamp.  There’s grandma, who is totally inspiring and comes every week in her bike shorts and 80s era t-shirts to huff through the workout with the rest of the 20- and 30- somethings.  My personal favorite is wrestling outfit guy, who wears, I swear to god, those little spandex shorts with the overall suspenders, like wrestlers wear, often with no shirt on underneath:

Hot, right?

But every week, there are a few randoms who show up.

This week, one of the randoms was: a Stealth Tooter.

Look, let’s be honest.  Farting during a workout is a fact of life.  We’ve all done it.  I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I have never let one escape while I was working hard on the elliptical, or doing my one millionth lunge.

But this was something else entirely.  This was not a few isolated toots, it was a constant barrage of SBDs.  (Silent but deadlies.)  The corner where my bike was located developed a perma-fart smell.  I found myself looking around at the people on the bikes nearby, wondering if anyone looked embarrassed, or whether I could get any other hint about the source of the problem.  No such luck.

How could someone be this flatulent and not realize it or show any indication of embarrassment?  Is it possible to be that tooty and not realize it in the throes of a particularly challenging workout?  That thought caused me to have a brief, horrifying moment where I wondered if *I* was the stealth tooter, and just didn’t realize it.

But then, about 15 minutes before class ended, random girl on the bike in front of me got up, wiped down her bike, and left class early.  And the smell miraculously disappeared.  So that cleared that up.

But it left me wondering: what is the ettiquette on workout gas issues?  I mean, the occasional unavoidable fart is a fact of life, but if one morning you discover that you’re really a gas machine, do you soldier on and pretend nothing’s happening, knowing that the people around you are being subjected to an awful lot of smelliness?  Do you press on but acknowledge that it’s you by saying “excuse me”?  Or should you just bail on the class entirely, so as not to subject your fellow gym-goers to such an unpleasant olfactory experience so early in the morning?

I cashed the check, and wrote them a newsy note thanking them and giving them life updates.  As many of you noted, I’m certain that they were not trying to be snarky jerks with the note, that it was just an ill-conceived and poorly executed attempt to reach out.  They are nice people, just a little brusque.  (My godmother, for example, once counseled against going to law school in Chicago, also known as the city where I grew up, because “God, Chicago is such an effing backwater, you might as well go to law school in Nebraska.”  Helpful!)

Am I the only one who feels like a total moron when writing chatty letters with life updates? It feels narcissistic, to assume that people are going to care where I went on my three-day weekend or what my plans are for this summer.  I know that family and friends want these updates, so I’m working on getting better about writing more regularly, but I struggle to write them without feeling life a doofus, is all I’m saying.

Speaking of feeling like a total doofus:  I had the first ticklings of a cold on Saturday morning, made worse by all the dust I kicked up doing our annual spring cleaning.  How did I respond to those tickings of a cold?  Did I take to my bed early, rest, push fluids?  No! Instead I went to a bar where a friend and I were cohosting a birthday party, drank more adult beverages than I have consumed in a single evening in at least a year, and ended the night with an embarrassing, if predictable, Very Serious Conversation with a friend, complete with crying from both parties.  Needless to say, I woke up Sunday morning with a full-fledged case of Death By Headcold.  If you need me, I’ll be the one snurfling into a kleenex and pounding gatorade.

Actual contents of birthday card just received from godparents, who live far away in California:

1. Check for $100

2. Note saying (direct quote) “With love, [Your Godparents]  P.S. We would love to have more than just a ‘check writing’ relationship. Please call us when you are nearby.”

I’m not going to lie: part (2) left me feeling a little defensive.  While I appreciate their generosity, I hardly expect, or need, a check in my birthday cards anymore.  I think I’d rather have just the card, minus both the check and the guilt trip.

I’m a little torn as to how to respond, so I’m doing the obvious thing: asking the internet.  If received such a card, what would you do?

OY, you guys, the week I had last week.  Just, oy.  The SHORTEST day I worked all week was 15 hours, if that gives you any idea.  And I was working off-site, so I had to drive, and there was much gnashing of teeth as I sat in traffic every morning and evening.  Plus, as an extra-special treat, my car broke down on Wednesday as I was driving home from work at 10pm.  I dragged myself to the shop at 5am on Thursday to get it fixed in time to drive to work, and then on Thursday afternoon, less than 12 hours later,  a kid smashed into it as it sat helplessly in the parking lot of the school where I was working, so now it needs to go get fixed again. It got to the point, honestly, that when the very-essential-to-our-project printer ran out of toner as we were wrapping up at 8pm on Friday night, all I could think to say was “where is my plague of locusts?  I’m ready! Bring it!”

This weekend was spent largely doing things for which there was no time during the week, such as doing laundry so I can have a clean pair of underpants, and shopping for unspoiled milk.

Saturday night we did manage to roust ourselves from the deep divots our asses had formed on the couch to get all dolled up for a charity gig my mom is involved in.  They have an annual gala, and my sister and I usually get invited to help round out a table.  Its fun, and it gives John a rare chance to wear his tux.

True to form, at 3pm on Saturday I found myself wandering in and out of department stores downtown, caught in a futile search for a dress that (a) was not heinous and (b) did not cost $400.  I called my sister to complain about my plight and it turned out she was half a block away, stuck in the same retail hell.  We met up in the hosiery section of Macy’s (she needed some shapewear, a category which would probably help me immensely but of which I am inexplicably afraid) and both decided that we’d just give up the hunt and wear something we already had.  In my case, that meant a very blah, but totally acceptable, black knee-length dress.

I showed up at the event, got a cocktail, and went to say hi to my mom.
“Oh, you girls are so adorable!” she said.
“Huh?” I said.
“You and your sister! Are dressed alike!”

(pause)

“Not on purpose!”

Sure enough, when my sister walked over a few minutes later, we were wearing the same damned dress.  People kept commenting on it, assuming that we’d planned it.  One woman remarked how much she loves it when siblings dress alike.  I like it, too – when they’re FOUR.  Not so much when they’re 28 and 30.  Then it’s just weird.

So that is how I got to spend my Saturday evening sitting at a table at a gala with my sister, dressed as some cocktail attire version of the Doublement twins.

The cruel paradox of your thirties:  experiencing the worst breakout of your whole entire life and discovering your first gray hair, all on the same fucking day.

My birthday was Saturday.  It was a big one: the kind that end with a zero.  I feel relatively unfazed by it, perhaps because I haven’t given it too much thought (busy at work, sister just had surgery, dear friend in personal crisis- too much going on to really fret over it).  One thing that does make me uneasy about birthdays, however, is how they serve as a stark reminder for the various ways in which I sometimes suck at friendship.

I am truly surprised and sincerely grateful when people remember my birthday.  I’m not picky about the medium- I love and appreciate cards, texts, and even facebook messages.  But with each birthday wish that I receive,  I feel a vague sense of panic as I run through my very fuzzy memories of the past year, trying to remember if I remembered to wish that person happy birthday when it was their special day.  Too often, I’m afraid, the answer is “nope, I totally forgot.” And then I feel bad and berate myself for being such a disorganized loon.

I fear it says something sad about me that one of my primary feelings associated with receiving birthday wishes is guilt.

I spent this weekend in Denver, visiting my recently-relocated best friend Tribecca.  Visiting one’s best friend seems like an excellent reason to act like a crazy person and sleep too little, and I did my level best:

Friday:

  • Get up at 5:30 am, go to work at 6:30 am, work all day, go straight to airport, fly to Denver.
  • Go straight from airport to an amazing concert.  Dance awkwardly, sing along, get second wind.
  • Feel like I’m going to pass out.  Realize I haven’t eaten since noon central time.  Use nifty Yelp iphone app to find a restaurant still serving food at midnight, eat nachos for dinner.  Follow up with several beers.
  • Go to bed at 2:30 a.m.

Saturday:

  • Wake up at 8am to get coffee and accompany Tribecca to work.  Fall in love with her workplace, start contemplating move to Denver.
  • Drive in stupidest rental car ever (note to Dollar: like hell that’s a compact!  I ordered a compact!) to have delicious brunch with the delightful Jess and Torsten.  Head back to their beautiful new house, where I try to count all the purple items.  Lose count at 34.
  • Return to Tribecca’s just in time for epic shopping trip to procure goods for dinner party.
  • Cook.
  • Eat dinner with very hodgepodge, yet completely entertaining, group of strangers.
  • Somehow get persuaded to go out to a bar.
  • Fall over dead when I realize that two of the people in our group just used FAKE IDs to get into the bar.  Contemplate how it is, exactly, that one week  away from my 30th birthday, I find myself at a bar with people who are not old enough to legally drink.
  • Conclude the only option at this point is to take shots of whiskey. Do so.
  • Fall into bed at 2am

Sunday:

  • Inexplicably wake up at 8:30 am.  Clean up dishes from party.
  • Gorge self at fancy brunch place.  Waiter asks if we’d like mimosas, and the very thought makes me want to hurl.
  • Drive to gorgeous park, take long leisurely walk in sparkling sunshine.  Make plans to play tennis.
  • Return to house to retrieve tennis rackets.  Notice it is starting to get cloudy.  Agree to rest on couch for a few minutes.  Notice that “The Notebook” is playing on tv.  Also notice that there is a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge, begging to be eaten.
  • Several hours later, notice that we have watched the whole movie, eaten half the roll of cookie dough, and it’s time for me to pack and head to the airport.

Call me crazy, but the lazy lame afternoon was probably my favorite part of the weekend.  I’m embracing my loserdom.

************

Sorry about the delay, but I didn’t forget:  the winner of the big Earth Day Giveaway is Commenter #3, Stephanie, of Completely Irrelevant.  Congratulations, Stephanie!  Hit me with your address and I’ll put the pretty treats in the mail!

*************

They say that you can tell if someone is a real chef by looking at their hands: hard core chefs’ hands are covered with scars, cuts, and burns.

Yesterday, while dicing onions, I sliced a dime-sized chunk off of my thumb, by the knuckle.  The wound keeps bleeding through bandaids, so there are little smears of blood all over my laptop.  That is exactly as creepy as it sounds.

This new cut matches nicely the bulging red scar from my last run-in with a knife. I am proud to report, though, that last night’s mishap with the chef’s knife did not deter me from finishing the overly-elaborate dinner I’d planned for last night’s book club meeting.  I just wrapped it in a bunch of bandaids and continued chopping.

I’m choosing to believe that this latest battle scar is evidence that I am a hard core chef, rather than draw the more-obvious conclusion that I am a huge effing klutz.

***

Reminder! My Earth Day giveaway is continuing through 5pm tonight- go enter to win a cool hand-made prize!