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Monday, August 30, 2010

Man-free Weekend

In a land far far away, three hot chicks spent the weekend being man-free. We headed north for the border armed with snacks, trashy romance novels, gossip, and a need to share secrets, and talk about our feelings. And by feelings I mean sex.  It's what we girls do.

We're on a boat.

Tea from tiny tiny tea pots

To pass the time on the long drive up, Jules and Cupcake read outloud the worst trashy romance novel ever. And by worst I mean 1.) Any sort of coherent sentence structure was absent which made reading out loud particularly challenging and 2.) There wasn't even making out until page 135.  This is how Jules felt about it:

No seriously, you can't say Piper Ryan and Greyhill Danby in a British accent without laughing.  It's impossible.  Although, Oscar nods to Cupcake and Jules for superb Bristish accents in an Jeeves The Butler kind of way.  

Because much of my vacation north revolves around the food I'm going to eat, I tend to be ritualistic when it comes to my choices.  The must haves: scones (see delicousness above), chocolate chip cookies, Wheatberries granola and the Gumboot Restaurant.  We also feasted on fresh from the market greens and salad fixins with tortilla soup with rustic French bread (a parting gift from CT).  

Oh and gelato...delicious.  My lovely aunt and uncle openned their lovely home and allowed us free reign over the place.  Of course, the highlight of any trip up there is seeing and visiting with them. They make my heart smile.  

Hey, Cupcake, you wanna go ahead and just leave that classy piece of literature sprawled out there?  Cool, thanks. Also, if you could google vajazzling on your phone and pull up some pictures that would be great too.   (I'm going to recommend you don't google vajazzling.)

In summary, much of the weekend was spent with our feet up, relaxing.

Thanks to these lovely ladies, I had the best time.  The ladies weekend was exactly what I needed. I heart them both being unapologetic for who they are and can laugh at their own fallible nature. I admire their ability to sympathize without judgement, identify without patronizing and exhibit honest curiosity and interest as to the lives and well-being of others. And seriously, they are maybe some of the funniest people I know.  

Baked Goods

One blazing hot summer day, a friend and I thought it brilliant to turn the oven on to 400 degrees and bake, literally.  CT is a baker by trade and before he ran off to New York I tricked him into teaching me a few tricks of the trade.  This really just turned in to him working his magic while I watched/swooned.

We made rosemary foccacia and blueberry scones.  No recipes, made from memory with love.

A plate of bread; baked by a dreamboat; for dinner.  It's a trifecta for love.

It's hard to not love a man who knows his way around a kitchen and is good with his hands. Double bonus. 


He moved to New York last week to pursue his career in music (The man has maybe one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard.  Just beautiful in the purest sense). One thing's for sure, if that music business doesn't work out for him (which it will), he's always got a place in my kitchen. 

A Saturday: In Ten Easy Steps

1.) Set alarm for 4:45 am Saturday morning.  Sprung out of bed at 6:11 am and made it to Lake Sammamish at 6:42 am only by the grace of God.
2.) Got pulled over for driving on the wrong side of the road en route to said Lake. Fact. Really long story.
3.) Squeezed into a tiny tiny wet suit only to swim, bike, run, consecutively, in and around Lake Sammamish.  They call it a triathlon, I like to call it a character building experience.
4.) Did not die as a result of #3, again, only by the grace of God.
5.) Cleaned out car that had no less than (and not limited to) 2 bikes, a wet wet suit, work out clothes, work clothes, 3 belts, 4 trashy women's magazines, one romance novel left behind by its rightful owner, 3 blankets, 2 pillows, 5 water bottles, 15 packs of gum, a diamond ring, a pearl necklace, and 7 pairs of shoes.
6.) Took the hottest most deserved and most necessary shower of my life.
7.) Started Thunderstruck (Eric Larson).
8.) Did 6 loads of laundry.  Probably washed most everything I own.
9.) Napped in the big comfy chair.
10.) Slept like a baby in clean sheets.

Good work, ladies.  You define strength and determination. You are heros.  I can't imagine 2 other people I would have rather have done it with.  Same time, same place next year.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I told you when I grew up I wanted to be Nancy Botwin.

I am the Nancy Botwin of Diet Coke.  I don't really drink the stuff I just source it to the addicts.  And then they feed me delicious food. It works out.

This is maybe the most ridiculous picture. Ever. Don't be fooled, I have no upper body strength and it was all I could do to stop and hold still for the picture.

Added bonus, walking through the front door carrying 48 cans of Diet Coke was hi-larious.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Peaks and Valleys

Peak: Talking to a complete stranger who was waiting on a bus stop in NYC.  BFF likes to hand the phone to strangers in an effort to validate any given argument at the moment.  
Valley:  I lost an entire scientist. A whole person….gone for approximately 60 min. I’m not even joking.

Overshare Peak: I've gained enough weight back that my boobs are coming back.
Overshare Valley: I've gained enough weight that my boobs are coming back.

Peak: Being a Virgo
Valley: Mercury Retrograde in a Saturn Return

How many times can I change into hot sweaty spandex in one night?

The answer is 4.  FOUR TIMES! IN ONE NIGHT!!

In preparation for the sprint triathlon on Saturday, SU and I headed for Lake Sammamish to do the swim-bike portion of the race. There's a lot of costume changes involved in these events and more often than not, spandex is involved.  Why? I don't know, but there is.

Here's the break down:

1.) Change from work clothes into biking shorts in hot steamy car.
2.) Change from biking shorts into wet suit in dark damp Lake Sammamish bathroom. (Wet suit over biking shorts - this was not attractive or self-confidence boosting.)
3.) Changing from one wet suit into another wet suit while treading water in Lake Sammamish.
4.) Changing from second wet suit into dry clothes half-nekkid in Lake Sammamish park in the dark.

Ok, so it's technically only 3 times INTO spandex but getting out of a wet wet suit on land is a workout in itself. And hilarious.  SU has warned me that trying on wet suits is like trying on tights but 100 times worse. Great, that's just what I need. And she was right, it was not fun, but at least wet suits smooth all the rolls and pudge out so you're just kinda squished all in there.  Sexy.

The experience was not without it's character building moments. Less than a mile into the ride, it became exponentially more difficult to pedal. I realized I had a flat rear tire.  Dammit.  I've never 1.) had a flat tire, 2.) changed a flat tire. I've only watched someone do it, once.  I figured my luck had run out after probably over 1000 miles on those tires. But between SU (who has only watched a video on how to change a tire) and I, we successfully changed my first flat tire!  Three fist pumps for that! Lucky for us it was on the sidewalk along E. Lake Sammamish Parkway with traffic whizzing by and no one to stop, but whatevs.  Talk about feeling empowered.  With every major flat-tire-changing-milestone (remove tire, release tire from frame, remove tube, insert new tube, reattach tire, reattached back wheel to chain, pump up tire) it was like a tiny victory.  When SU asked me what I'd do if we both weren't there to fix it, I said, "Cry. You?"  "Probably just walk my bike back," she replied. Well, isn't that rational?

I feel so much better about Saturday's race. Not sure what the outfit changes will be or how this is all going to play out but I know, without a doubt, it will be a site to behold.

Starts at 7:00 am, Saturday, at Lake Sammamish.  Should take about 2-ish hours, heavy on the "ish". Come on out and behold of the sight of 3 hot chicks in wet suits. I'll be number 216 (?) in the hot pink swim cap.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Braindump: Work Vs. Life


Convo 1:
Me: You speak Spanish?
S: Yeah, I first started learning Spanish when I was working at the Spanish Embassy in Senegal. I didn’t learn it well enough there so I moved to the Dominican Republic for 3 months and now I speak it fluently.
I work with way cool people.

Convo 2:
I helped my 65 year old boss set up his first Gmail account. It went like this:
Me: Type in
SBB: Hold on, I must type in bing first, I always go to bing first.
Me: Ok, fair enough
*Sigh*, oh Microsoft, look what you’ve done.

Convo 3
Me: Do you know where you’re going for your eye surgery
SBB: Yes, Yes…Bellevue
Me: Do you know where in Bellevue
SBB: oh ummm, ahhh, yeah, I have it written down on a piece of paper…..some where.
*Sigh* This is going to work out well.

 They have 2 words they like to say around here a lot.  “Nomenclature” and “consortium/consortia.” Just doesn’t roll off the tongue enough to sound smart. It just sounds like you’re not a very smart person trying to use really big words. Which, is a personal pet peeve.

SBB told me I was a, “good writer, very entertaining and that [I] should write.” That is the best complement someone can give me I think.

Things that make me sweaty:
 • Meeting new people
• When my boss speaks Spanish to me
• The 84 items in my inbox for a woman I assist who I have yet to meet. She returns to work on Monday.
• More acronyms, less understanding
• When my bosses speak science and I speak English.
• Meeting the man who discovered HIV next week.

The downside:
Remember how I was on vacation for 3 months and got really really tan. Like, really tan. Now my tan is fading and I’m peeling. Still…after 4 weeks. It’s so gross. This job is really crimping my tan.


BFF used to call me at work from the streets of NYC and yell at me (I mean yell as in raised her voice and scream and shout but not in anger, just as general conversation). I used to yell back and have more liberties with my language choice. She still calls to yell at me but now I can’t yell back. These people don’t know me well to understand that my best friend is a batshit crazy tranny lesbian living in NYC and when we yell at each other, although it seems often unkind if you were a spectator, it’s all out of love and comedic purpose. She says stuff like this:
• “Why is it whenever we meet up there is always a hotel room involved. And we’re not even dating.”
• “So, now I get to go back to living like a church mouse…like I love to do.”
• “Do you know I have you listed as Bill Gates in my phone. That way, if you ever call me from work it’s say Bill Gates is calling me. Which is kinda true.” This is not actually true at all.

At book club this week with a group 40 somethings, mostly whom I don’t know and they know even less about me (a consequence of being an introvert). My favorite quotes of the night:
• S looks right at me, smiles knowingly and says, “The quite girls have all the secrets.” Fact.
• Without any prompt or knowing of my pipedreams, a woman who has never met me looks me over and says, “You look like a librarian. If you let your hair down, threw your glasses of and ripped your clothes off it would be very hot.” Kinda of awkward, maybe true.

Well, I’m off for the weekend to spend quality time with girlfriends, work on this tan and not think about curing AIDS.


Addicted to Love

My name is Miss C and I have an addiction. It's been 5 hours since I purchased my last book (and maybe a few others in the past couple weeks).

There are more expensive addictions right?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Bossman (of the firm) after my first week gave me a bouquet of flowers and a card thanking me for joining their team and for all my hard work.  Today, SBB (Senor Big Boss) gave me a box of chocolate for all my hard work in the last 2 weeks.  I think this makes up for my crazy boss lady at the publishing house who after two weeks of busting my butt gave me the cold shoulder and the stink eye. 

Picture this conversation at 9:00 am this morning:

SBB: Cara, do you like chocolate?
Me: Boy do I.  You know there is this quote that says, “There are two types of people in this world:  Those who love chocolate, and communists.”
Laughter erupts.

Not only did my boss give me box of chocolate (from Chocolopolis on Queen Anne) at 9:00 am but I made him laugh, again.  I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

On a chocolate related note, please note my favorite chocolate is Fran’s salted caramels (although these are just caramels covered in chocolate but I'll group as one category here).  Coincidentally, my birthday is in 4 weeks.  Just sayin’.  I am also partial to Lindt chocolate, Theo Chocolate and Vosages. Preferably of the milk variety, the lower the cocoa percentage the better.  Rice milk chocolate is less than stellar. And Hershey’s, like most American chocolate, should only be consumed with a melted mallow and graham over a bonfire.  When in Canada I indulge in at least one (maybe I’ve had 2 a time or two) Caramilk bars for obvious reason.  My sister thinks I’m high maintenance.  I like to call it selective.  Especially when it comes to men and chocolate. 

On a work related note, SBB is of the generation before keyboards existed.  He is of the generation where type writers were the most efficient form of word processing.  Thus, he never learned to type using all ten fingers.  Instead he uses his index fingers and pounds the hell out of his keyboard.  And when I mean pound I mean when like, it’s like the World War II German blitzkreig on Poland on his keyboard. Like a machine gun rapid fire pace his hands become a blur.  So hard in fact he we just replaced his keyboard because he’s worn off the “O” and the “I” and was getting them confused.  But the best part is to watch him type; it makes me smile. 

Also, got my first meeting request email from BG. Kinda makes your heart stop when you get an email from the world’s wealthiest man. Kinda makes your heart sink when you eff up the response.  Well done, Miss C, well done.

And lastly, one of the acronyms commonly used in the assistant world is F.U. (Follow Up).  Whenever I write this I think of that scene in The Odd Couple when Oscar says, "Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!" and I can never write it with a straight face.  Open to suggestion for alternatives. And no,  F Up doesn’t work.  What else? 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chat of the Day

Let this be a lesson in subtlety and homonyms.

HL: Can I give you a ring?
Me: Yes, phone call and diamond as well.

See how that works, friends? 

4.9.17. and Especially 19

When I walked into work on my first day, the first thing I notice is an old Xerox copy posted on the wall of my cube.  It reads this:
  1. Take into account that great love and great achievement involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs
    • Respect for Yourself
    • Respect for Others and
    • Responsibility for all you actions
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break the properly
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer
  11. Live a good, honorable life.  Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality
  15. Be gentle with the earth
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
Written on the white board on the other cube wall says, "And the day came when the wish to remain tight as a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

The next day I got an email signed by a big-wig at another NFP signed, "In peace and solidarity for bold action now,"  

I think I'm going to like it here.  

I'm in....

My biggest fear of starting my new job was that people wouldn’t find me funny. I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm hilarious.  And, I don't know about you, but when one is hilarious, and comedy is lost, that, my friends, is a tragedy.  After 4 years at my previous place of employment I had built up my reputation with my ability to write emails with just the right level of sarcasm and dry wit were usually very well received generally garnering praise.  And, not gonna lie, I enjoy writing them as much as I enjoyed hearing the chuckles around the office after hitting “send.”   Now that I’m at a new place, I find myself refrained/completely censoring myself.  What if they don't think I'm funny? What if my humor is lost on them? Sarcasm is tough to pick up in email anyway, let alone in a super-professional-world-changing-overly-polite workplace. It makes me sweaty just thinking about it now.

Now, this directly coincides with my petrifying fear of my Senor Big Boss (henceforth referred to as SBB).  He actually is not big in stature but crazy wicked smart, hilarious to boot and speaks with a heavy Venezuelan accent that I have troubles deciphering sometimes (all the time).  A doctor (MD and PhD) he worked with his previous assistant for several years who he had a great relationship with (as far as I can tell) so I’m following in someone else’s habits and previous established expectations.  This is not a comfortable place for me to be. One of my neat character traits is constantly seeking/need of approval (hello other over-achievers, you can understand) so I've been working in hyper-drive to figure out how to do my job while also desperately finding a way to make SBB like me.   

So last Friday, after 2 weeks of refraining my wit and charm, I decided no time like the present. Now was my chance to win him over. I carefully crafted a very articulate but and charmingly witty email.  I got really nervous, palm sweaty, heart-pounding.  Send.   

Shortly thereafter, SBB comes out of his office and says to my admin boss, "Did you read Cara's email? It was very good, very very good." He looks at me, smiles and says, "It was very funny, very good." He then responds to my initial email with one word. "Excellent!" (His exclamation point). That was it; I had won him over. I was in.

I walked home with an extra skip in my step.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just the Highlights

I really enjoy my job:  So refreshing to love what you do.
Summer seasonal foods: Delicious pollenta in marinara sauce with grilled veggies.  Plus blueberries and strawberries for an afternoon snack.
Sun sun sun with some sun on the side:  My desk has a giant window that lets in all the sunlight.
Linds and I went for a run after work: And by run I mean sat on the porch and ate glass castle with the man-friends in the sun, so...close to running.
Mom bought hair:  After losing her hair years ago to the cocktail of meds, Mom finally got a wig that looks quite cute...on me.

Weird?  Cute?  Thumbs Up?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Up at Night

Here's a few thoughts from the erratic and unpredictable mind of your's truly.

1.) Coincidentally and apropos to my sister and BiL quick visit this weekend, Nicholas Kristof's column this week speaks to the increasing cost of the Afghanistan war (which has seemingly sneaked under the mass media's attention/distribution unlike that costly health-care bill that actually serves the citizens of this country but was apparently going to bring this country to it's knees). My BiL flies F-16s for the US Air Force and from what I can tell, he's quite good at it.  He loves what he does and gets a boy-like excitement when he talks about pulling Gs, flying, weapons, lasers, bombs, etc.  I remember asking him what he liked most about flying and he replied simply, "Because once you get above the clouds, the sun always shines."  

This week his training including dropping live bombs on old trucks as target practice in the remote areas of Alaska.  This training is vitally important to his success as he soon will be deployed to a location still classified.   I was teasing him about the cost of his job on tax payers, the million dollar plane, the $50k live training bombs, just the sheer cost of fuel itself! Mind blowing.   His job fits exactly into the conversation that Kristof's article address.

The piece points out, the amount of education that could be provided not only to the citizens of the United States but also the children of Afghanistan is truly staggering (i.e. the cost of just of just one soldier for a year is equivalent to building 20 schools in Afghanistan and that cost of 240+ soldiers could pay for the higher education program for all of Afghanistan).  Now, don't get me wrong, I see both arguments for the defense spending and the agrument for domestic programs. And I am so grateful that my BiL risks his life to serve in the US AF.  But I have to ask the same questions a Kristof asks, "...isn’t it time to rebalance our priorities?"   

2.) I listened to an old episode of RadioLab this weekend.  The topic was lying.  The lies we tell each other, pathological liars, and most interestingly, the lies we tell ourselves, or self-deception. The end of the episode ended with this quote:

"The people who are the happiest are the people who are lying to themselves more.  The people who are the most realistic that actually see the world exactly how it is, tend to be slightly more depressed than others...Depressed people lie less.  They see all the pain in the world, how horrible people are to each other, and they tell you everything about themselves, what their weaknesses are, what terrible things they've done to other people, and the problem that they are right. And so maybe it the way we help people is help them be wrong.  It might just be that hiding ideas that we know to be true, hiding those ideas, from what we know that we know are to be true,  we need those ideals to get by. We're so vulnerable to be hurt, we've been given the capacity to disturb, it's a gift."

While the quote's context is more generic in application, I've thought a lot about this in the context of faith, interpersonal relationships, grief and perception of beauty.  How often so we tell ourselves all is well, or everything is ok? Moreover, at what point do we acknowledges reality or truth as mere deception of reality to create a false blanket of comfort or hope?  Then, what's so wrong in living with false security if you never find otherwise? And even if you do find out other wise, so what?  Then you were just wrong?  Moreover, who defines another person's truth in which their framework of happiness is constructed?  I could go on, but this I found this idea of self-deception linked to happiness quite intriguing.

3.) I'm reading AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India. It's kind of a downer but I picked it up at work in order to attempt to humanize what people on the team are attempting to accomplish.  In the Forward, authored by Amartya Sen she begins with, "Human ordeals thrive on ignorance.  To understand a problem with clarity is already half-way towards solving it.  Confusion distorts individual behaviour as well as social action, and ignorance of the effectiveness of social intervention contributes greatly to the resignation, fatalism and ultimately callousness."

While this is presented in the framework of the present-day AIDS epidemic, I was struck particularly by the universal application of this idea that perpetuating ignorance that creates cyclical consequences both personally and socially.   I was reminded how my ignorance of other cultures, people, lifestyles, belief systems, etc. often limits my behavior, not necessarily in a malicious way, but in a conservative self-conscious way.  I don't consider myself a particularly callous person but perhaps, the lack of engagement with others, based in ignorance and misuderstanding, leads to the perception of callousness.  This I want to change. Not sure how, but I will.

These are the things that keep me up at night.  Well, these and what am I going to wear tomorrow.

So much adorable in a clumsy little package

Meet Elska, my puppy niece.  

Elska and her tired mom.

In your face love.

who's there?

Big fan of the sandals

See, even the Cole Haans are game.

mmmmm, delicious.

dog vs. ball

so tired.

oh, c'mon, I'm defenseless against a face like that.


Now that's love.