Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Run Lauren, Run

I wish I liked to run. I really do. Actually, my first wish is that I had a wicked high metabolism so that I didn't have to run at all...but since that's never going to happen I've reverted back to just wishing that staying in shape wasn't so much flipping work.

No one believes me when I say that I hate running, which I really don't understand because since when does doing something regularly automatically mean you enjoy it? I do the dishes every night after dinner because I like to have clean dishes to eat on the next day and hate for the kitchen to be a mess. I clean the bathroom every week because otherwise, that's just gross. I pay the bills every month because I like having electricity. None of these are things I would say I enjoy. I run every day because I like my clothes to fit and I like eating dessert. That's it.

Some people claim to hit a runner's high after a couple miles and say that running makes them feel more refreshed and energized than anything else in the world. Liars. I've never come close to finding this elusive runner's high and let me tell you, I've searched long and hard for it. I try to do at least a couple miles five or six days a week but I've also done several 10k's in my day and I ran cross country in high school. And did I ever hit this high that made me forget the cramp in my side and the ache in my legs and just want to go all Forest Gump and keep running and running and running? Um, no. And I say, if a 10k isn't a long enough distance to hit that euphoria then it ain't gonna happen.

Maybe if Zack wasn't such a good cook and cheesecake didn't taste so darn good this wouldn't even be an issue.

Anyway, I've been doing this running thing for the past five years or so; ever since I graduated from high school and realized that without a ball coach screaming in my face to get my butt up the basketball court I might not be able to fit in my clothes quite as well. You'd think after five years I'd reach a point where I if I didn't enjoy it, I could at least be comfortable enough with the daily run to not dread it. You'd think that wouldn't you? Well, you'd be wrong. Every day after work I drag myself home, change into my shorts and tennis shoes and drag myself to the park to run. And every day I dread it just as much as I did the day before.

On a side note, as far as I'm concerned the best thing about running is that I can justify getting new, super awesome running shoes much more often than I could if I depended on my other day to day running around to wear them out. And I'm a big fan of new shoes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Saints, the CATS and the Underdawgs

Aside from the CATS getting absolutely spanked by Florida, it's been a good weekend. As much as it pains me to say this, we just don't have much of a football team to speak of. And that makes me very sad.

One of Zack's best friends was in town this weekend, along with his girlfriend, so we met up with them Saturday night to watch the game and have dinner. This particular friend just so happens to be from eastern Kentucky like I am (Powell County specifically) so even though I've only met him a few times, he's the kind of guy you feel like you've known forever after only talking to him for a few minutes. Beyond Zack getting to hang out with his buddy and me getting the chance to know him a little better, it was really really nice to see a familiar face (not to mention a Kentucky face) down here.

We went to Cooter Brown's to watch the game. I guess its your typical dive sports bar on the edge of a college campus but it has a pretty cool history behind it, 15 big screen TVs and all kinds of different oyster preparations on the menu so Zack and his buddy were all about it. I anticipated going in that getting someone in this town to broadcast a KY vs. Florida game when LSU was also playing would be nothing short of impossible. Luckily the LSU game ended before Kentucky got started. Then again, the first quarter of the game was kind of like watching a car wreck on TV over and over again so maybe we didn't get all that lucky. To say that it was painful to watch gets the Understatement of the Week award. I think we all spent the first 15 minutes of that game in a continual cringe as Tebow and the Gators marched all over us. Seriously Hartline, what were you thinking? I could get out there and throw a bunch of incomplete passes. We left at halftime (our appetites finally won out over our sense of Big Blue loyalty) so we didn't get to see the knock-out but from what we heard it was pretty horrible. Poor Tebow. Even though he's come in and embarrassed us several years in a row now, it's still hard to hate the guy. He's just so good at what he does; I really like watching him play. Just don't tell anyone I said that.

We decided that the one place we wanted our guests to absolutely try while they were in town was The Joint; the same little hole-in-the-wall bar-b-q place we took my sister and her boyfriend when they were here last month. It was still every bit as scary getting there and the neighborhood is still every bit as shady...but the food was once again incredible. And really, if you're not willing to take your life in your hands on the quest for the best bar-b-q in the world you probably don't deserve it anyway. I've never had ribs like these. I think I'm drooling a little bit as I sit here and write this. They're so good that my sister, who really doesn't even like meat all that much, has begged me to find some way to ship them to her back home. Can you do that? Could I FedEx a carton of ribs to her? Is that possible? If the Audubon Zoo can mail a bunch of penguins back to themselves after Katrina, I don't really see why I couldn't. Hmmm...

The last stop of the night was Tipitina's which is a fairly famous music bar down here. Famous in that several big name people kind of got their start playing there from what we're told. Don't ask me who these people are, I'm just repeating what I've heard. Famous or not, the bands playing Saturday night were both really really good. The opening act was a contemporary jazz band (yeah, I didn't really know what that meant either) whose music was a combination of jazz and rap and hip hop. It was great! I don't think you would even have to like jazz, rap or hip-hop to appreciate what they were doing. The guy who played the jazz trumpet seemed especially talented and apparently, the group is up for a Grammy nomination this year. Not too shabby.

Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs

Sundays are pretty laid back days around our house now. After church we usually either watch the Saints game or take a nap or in my case, lay on the couch and read a good book. Zack actually prefers to watch the Saints game while taking a nap but I'm not quite that talented. I've never really been into pro football, mostly I guess because I've never lived anywhere that had a team to root for. (Unless you count the Bengals, who can't manage to stay out f jail long enough to win many games). The Saints are a BIG deal down here though. They are kind of a representation of the rebuilding of New Orleans I think. It was a really big deal when they finally came back after Katrina and a lot of people say that when and if they're able to win a Superbowl it will do as much for the morale of this city as anything else possibly could. Some people are saying this is their year; we'll see. They're looking pretty good so far.

And now its back to the regular grind of the workweek. I'd just like to remind everyone that my birthday is a mere one week (count 'em seven days) away. And Mom and Dad will be here next weekend!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Job

It's been a good week. Nothing wild or crazy...actually nothing out of the ordinary at all. But good nonetheless.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this whole "job" thing and the more comfortable I get with it, the better I like it. Let me rephrase that; the more comfortable I get with it, the more I enjoy being at work because the better I feel like I'm doing. I've liked it a lot from day one, I just don't like the feeling of not being very efficient at something because I don't know how to do it and that's how I felt a lot of the first couple weeks.

Not that I'm an expert at this point or anything, but I do feel like I'm starting to at least understand a little bit more about the big picture. I don't feel like I'm completely in the dark anymore. Now I'm only mostly in the dark. ;-) My favorite part is when the bosses let me tag along to important meetings with them. I don't usually understand everything that goes on in those things but man, I sure do learn a lot.

The more I get to know him, the more I really really like my boss too. Not only is he very good at what he does (from what I can tell), he's been just incredible about answering any questions I have and making sure that I'm learning a lot too. How many CFOs out there would let the new kid take control of their calendar and pencil themselves into it for Q&A sessions whenever they wanted? I think that's awesome! I feel very, very fortunate to have found a job that I not only like, but that is giving me this opportunity to learn as much as I can. And you know, even if I didn't like the job, at this point I'd feel darn lucky just to be gainfully employed at all. I know so many people (intelligent, educated, qualified people) who can't find work right now. If I were guessing, I'd say that a solid 50% of my MBA class still hasn't found jobs. How sad is that? A lot of my classmates had much more work experience coming into the program than I did too, so the fact that many of them are now struggling to find work makes me that much more thankful that I was able to. I'd have probably had a nervous breakdown by this point if I hadn't gotten this job. I couldn't take much more sitting around the house all day waiting.

In other news, one of Zack's good buddies and his girlfriend are going to be in town this wekeend, which we're super excited about. This guy was in our wedding so I know Zack is especially looking forward to getting to spend some time hanging out with him. The CATS play Florida tomorrow night so we're HOPING that we can find someplace in town that will be showing the game on ESPN2 so we can watch it with them. Zack thinks it shouldn't be a problem but I dunno...I'm thinking if LSU is playing at the same time it might be tough. Kentucky doesn't exactly get a lot of love down here in Tiger country. We'll see though. I'll let you know how that works out for us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Counting Down...

It's September 24 and I've already started the countdown to Thanksgiving. It's 62 days away, if you're wondering. Gee oh, I'm almost as bad as the malls that start putting Christmas decorations up the week before Halloween. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I always look forward to it but I am this year especially. By that point we will have been in New Orleans for five months and I think it's going to be really exciting to be able to go back to Kentucky and see all of our friends and family.

Also, I'm already craving the food.

I say that like we're starving to death down here which believe me, is not the case at all. Quite the opposite in fact. There's so much good food to be had in this town its a little ridiculous. No matter where you are in New Orleans I can just about guarantee you're within spitting distance of at least ten incredible places to eat. So no, it's not that we can't get good food. It's just that there's nothing quite as good as a home cooked meal...especially one prepared by my mom and/or grandparents. There just isn't. And this is coming from someone who has eaten at some pretty great places in her day.

I can cook. Zack can really cook. We take turns fixing dinner and everything we make is usually really good. No complaints there. It's just not the same though, as eating a meal cooked by someone else. For the past year or so we've been in something of a food rut when it comes to dinner...though again this isn't something I'm complaining about. We've done it on purpose. A self-induced rut, if you will. We eat eggs for dinner probably three or four times a week. "Eggs??" you say. Eggs indeed my friend.

Don't worry--we supplement that with plenty of fruits and vegetables. And we change it up a lot. We do omelettes and quiches, scrambled eggs and fritattas. We make fried egg sandwiches and eggs in a basket. Sometimes we just eat bacon, eggs and toast. We started this habit about this time last year when we were both full time students and Zack was also working full time. Even then we ate dinner together every night but between our two crazy schedules, we rarely got finished with everything and home before eight or nine o'clock in the evening. And by that point in the day, who wants to cook a big meal? Plus, eggs are cheap. This was especially important since my school schedule kept me from having a job and we were trying to save for a wedding and law school and moving and everything else at the same time.

So yes, we ate a lot of eggs.

For that matter, we're still eating a lot of eggs...for many of the same reasons. They're still quick and cheap and pretty darn satisfying at the end of a long day. They still let Zack and I sit down to a meal that we've fixed at home and eat together without spending hours in the kitchen working on it. Where am I going with all this? I'm starting to ramble aren't I?

Basically, for the most part I really enjoy our simple (admittedly somewhat redundant) meals. At this point in our life together this is what works for us. That said, when you eat pretty much the same thing over and over and over you really start to crave those things you're not eating as often anymore. For me right not it's cornbread. I know, I know. It's weird. And I actually make pretty good cornbread so I could get my butt into the kitchen and make it myself if I were so inclined. But it's just not as good as Mom's. I'm also craving her chicken salad and my granddad's fried chicken and basically everything they always make for Thanksgiving dinner. Mmmmmm-mmmm! Bring on the turkey.

62 days and counting...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sorry to Gross You Out But...

My hair is still falling out at an obscene rate. Also, I've developed a case of swamp foot.

First things first; my hair. I don't know what's going on. Ever since we moved down here my hair has been falling out by the hand full. I know its normal to lose something like a hundred hairs a day but this is way beyond that. This is gross. My hair is everywhere! It's all over the floors and the furniture and the bathroom vanity. I don't know how the drain in the shower hasn't completely clogged up because I know I'm losing tons of it every time I wash it. (I told you this was gross). Even Zack has noticed.

I don't know what the deal is though! I got my hair cut a few weeks ago before I started work and while I was there I asked the girl who cut it what she thought the problem might be. She blamed it on the heat and normal "summer shedding" that everyone has. I accepted that answer at first. My hair has never fallen out like this but I've also never lived in a climate as hot as this so I figured maybe she was right and it really was just my scalp's way of adapting to the change. But wouldn't you think that after nearly three months down here I would have gotten acclimated and the deluge would stop? I would. It hasn't though--if anything it's gotten progressively worse, so I'm thinking this must be something else.

Zack thinks I have some kind of vitamin deficiency. Ridiculous, I say! I've been eating all the same kinds of foods I've always eaten so I don't see how that could possibly be the case. I think this is all part of his three year campaign to get me to start taking a multi-vitamin every day. (I've never taken vitamins and I'm one of the healthiest people I know so why start now)?

So, any ideas? Has anyone else had this problem and if so, what caused it and what did you do to correct it? I'm really open to suggestions. At this rate, I'm going to be bald by Christmas.

Now, onto my swamp foot. I have self-diagnosed this but I feel pretty confident about that I'm right. Swamp foot is the first cousin to athlete's foot and in fact, biologically speaking they're one and the same. But since we live in the swamp and I think I've gotten this not from an over exertion on the playing field but just the sweating my feet now do over the course of a normal day, I have hearby dubbed it swamp foot. Can normal people submit suggestions for additions to the medical dictionary like they can for a regular dictionary? Does anyone know? If so, can we see about getting this one added?

Basically, I'm kind of falling apart.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Have a Heart

Somehow, I've gotten myself volunteered to participate in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk in New Orleans in November. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity where I could actually do something to help people and hopefully make some new friends in the process. The hospital where I work is sponsoring this year's Heart Walk, so that seemed like a good place to start. I sent an e-mail to the event coordinator asking if she still needed volunteers to help with the planning or setting up of the event and before I knew it, I was signed up to actually be on a team. I don't remember ever actually agreeing to it but here I am.

You have no idea how intimidating this is to me. I'm no good at stuff like this. I'm terrible at asking people to sponsor me for things, or donate money to a cause I believe in because...well I don't know why exactly. I guess I just feel bad asking people for money--especially in times like these when the economy is so sluggish and lots of people are having a hard enough time just getting by. I think I tend to feel like if people want to donate to a cause they will because it's important to them. I don't want to guilt them into it. Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. This is something I really feel strongly about and maybe I shouldn't see my support of a very worthy cause as a burden to someone else. I dunno.

Wow. I just reread the last two paragraphs and I'm pretty sure that's gotta be the worst sales pitch ever, of all time. See? Told you I was bad at this kind of thing. I'll try again. I'll tell you a little bit about why this particular cause is so important to me, and let you decide for yourselves how you feel about it.

An estimated 80,000,000 American adults suffer from some sort of heart disease. 80 MILLION. That's one in every three adults. This is something I'm passionate about because its something that truly has or will affect probably every single one of us at some point in our lives; either us personally or someone we are very close to. There are hundreds of other very deserving organizations that you could choose to support; the American Cancer Society for example is another great one. But because heart disease is the number one killer today, I feel like maybe it is the one that the largest number of us can relate to.

Two of my grandparents have had heart attacks in the past five years. That's scary enough in and of itself, but scarier still because I know that heart diseases are to some extent hereditary so it makes me scared that the same thing will happen to my parents and then to me and my sister one of these days too. Both of my grandparents are otherwise very healthy; they don't smoke, they're physically active for their age and they're not overweight. I guess my point is, if it could happen to them it can literally happen to anyone.

The American Heart Association was founded way back in the early 1900's by a group of doctors who were concerned about the lack of information on heart disease that was available to the public. Since then, the AHA has grown into one of the largest volunteer health agencies in the world. A major part of their mission still today is to make people aware; to educate them on heart disease. Risk factors, what to look for, detection and get the idea. There are four major branches of the AHA now, and Start! is the name of the one sponsoring the heart walk. It's all about promoting physical fitness/activity to stay healthy. And that's definitely something I can agree with.

Alright, enough with the history lesson. I'm going to wrap this up by posting a link to my Heart Walk website. I set a goal of raising $500 by November. I've never done this before so I have noooo idea whether that is realistic or not. Most people set goals in the thousands though, so I feel like surely I can manage to raise a few hundred. Please, please, please feel free to make a donation--each and every one, no matter how big or small, will be greatly appreciated and could help to save someone's life someday. And even if you don't make a donation, if you just want to go to the site and read a little more about AHA and the heart walk, that'd be great too.

This is a link to my personal Heart Walk page. You'll notice that I'm desperately in need of a little help to reach the $500 mark.

Thank you so much in advance...I'll stop soliciting you now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Miss My Dog and CATS

Today's the first home football game of the season. It's also the first season opener I've missed in five years. Kentucky vs. Louisville and the CATS are up by 4 with just under 4 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. The game is being televised on ESPNU, which of course is a channel we don't get here so I made Leah agree to send me score updates every few minutes.

I've had little bouts of homesickness since we moved down here but nothing too major. During the summer it almost just seemed like we were on an extended vacation. Now that school has started and football season is getting underway though, I'm realizing how much I miss home right now. I miss FOOTBALL TIME IN THE BLUEGRASS and tailgating with my family. I miss the feeling of Fall starting to arrive (its still in the nineties down here, with 100% humidity almost every day). I miss my friends. I miss my sister. I miss my dog.

I'm not knocking New Orleans 'cause there's a lot down here that I'm really liking too. It's just missing a few very important seasons. Ah well. I'll leave you with this pic, even though its a couple years old now, just so you know that even down here in the bayou we're still bleeding blue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just Wednesday

First, let me start off by saying that I make no promises about the content of this post. There's an 84% chance I'll say nothing of any real value whatsoever. (I'm just telling you now so you don't get to the end and think "Wow, I can't believe I spent the past ____ minutes reading that," and be all upset that you wasted your time on my random thoughts).

So now that we've got that out of the way...

I went to the grocery last night for the first time since I decided to start actively looking for and using coupons. I should back up and explain that Zack and I are NOT efficient grocery shoppers. At all. We both lived less than a mile from Kroger back in Lexington so we got into the habit of buying groceries only as we were going to use them. So basically, every single day. At some point every evening after work/school, one of us would go get whatever we needed to fix dinner that night. It was good in that by buying only what we planned to use right then we had very little waste and we ended up always getting the freshest of whatever it was we were buying. But like I said, going to the grocery seven or more times a week isn't especially efficient. Now that he's in school all day and I'm at work, combined with the fact that the grocery store isn't exactly in our backyard anymore, I'm trying to be more diligent about shopping ahead for things.

Which brings me back to last night.

I hadn't been in several days so I knew there were a bunch of the staples we'd need (bread, cereal, milk) in addition to whatever else I wanted to get for dinner last night (waiting until the last minute to buy dinner stuff--what can I say? Old habits die hard). I was all psyched to use my newly clipped coupons. The problem I quickly realized, is that we don't typically buy a lot of the things that you can use coupons for. We just don't eat a lot of prepackaged, processed foods and when I bake, I rarely use a boxed mix (unless its brownies and then you've gotta go with the mix). If we ate lots of Fruit Rollups, Lunchables, or Keebler cookies or bought many diapers we'd be in business. But as it is there aren't many coupons out there (or at least not many I've run across yet) for fresh vegetables and fruit, fresh meat, cheese, milk, etc. I feel like in some small way this is only contributing to the obesity problem in America, especially among those with lower incomes, but that's a topic for another day. I did get to use a coupon for some cereal though, so that was at least a small victory for me. *mini victory dance*

In other news, my birthday is now only...18 days away! You all know how I feel about birthdays in general so multiply that by like a hundred and that's how excited I get about my own birthday. The best part of this particular birthday is that my mom and dad are coming down to New Orleans for the weekend to celebrate with us! I'm can't wait. They were here for a couple days to help us move in back at the beginning of July but we literally spent two 18 hour days getting moved in and unpacked and then they left. They didn't get to see or do anything fun while they were here. We didn't even get to take them to eat at any of the really great New Orleans restaurants which is a tragedy in and of itself. I plan to fix that on this visit.

Work is still going really well. I like it a lot. I really, really like my boss(es) and everyone I've met/worked with so far has been great. For me the frustrating part about any new job is feeling like I'm not very good at it yet--or at least parts of it--just because of the learning curve. I wish when you started a new job like this you could just automatically insert into your brain all of the knowledge you would need to do the job right. That'd make the first few weeks/months go so much smoother I think. It's not that I don't like learning new things because I do and there's something to be said for that feeling of accomplishment you get when you finally catch onto something--the "Aha!" moment. But sometimes, I'd just like to already know this stuff too. Is that too much to ask?

Our little cottage down here is cute and charming but it still needs some work. Our landlords had it repainted right before we moved in so it was all nice and clean for us. Unfortunately, they color they chose is B-O-R-I-N-G. Every single wall in our house, from the living room to the kitchen to the bedroom to the bathroom, is roughly the color of oatmeal. Or maybe hummus. We have some friends whose landlord painted their kitchen neon electric burn-your-retinas green so I guess we should be thankful we don't have that but still, we need some color in our lives. The good news is I've actually found some home decor stuff that both Zack and I really like. The bad news is that Zack and I have tastes that exceed our budget; everything we like comes from Pottery Barn and is way more expensive that it's probably worth or than we can afford. As perfect as I think they'd look in our living room, I can't really justify $51 per throw pillow.

So I guess we'll keep dreaming, start buying lottery tickets, and keep looking elsewhere for stuff to brighten up our living room.

Over my extended summer vacation (read: unemployment) I watched a lot of HGTV. In hindsight, I think this was a bad idea on my part. All it did was make me want to have a house of our own that I can play with and decorate and by furniture for. Do we need to buy a house right now? No. Could we even afford to if we wanted? No. If we needed to and could afford to, would I still be extremely hesitant to buy a house in this city because of how old and in general disrepair most real estate is? YES. Guess I'll add the house-buying to my growing list of things to dream about and shelf until a later date. One of these days just wait.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What would you do?

This posting comes with a homework assignment. Here's a link to a Newsweek article from two years ago (2007). I'm learning that here in New Orleans, people don't necessarily speak in terms of years; for them time has been neatly divided into "before the storm" and "after Katrina" categories. To that end, this article was written two years after the storm.

Read it? Seriously, do it. I'll wait. This post isn't going to make nearly as much sense if you try to shirk your homework assignment here.

I came across this story the other day, after some of our new friends down here were telling us about the New Orleans hospital accused of euthanizing critically ill patients during hurricane Katrina once conditions deteriorated to the point where there was nothing else that could be done for them. You've now read the article so I'll let you decide for yourselves how you feel about that, but regardless of where exactly your morals align, can you imagine how bad it must have been for all those poor people--doctors and patients alike--stuck in that hospital with those conditions, and being told that no help is coming? I can't. I don't know the specifics of that particular hospital, but I've read enough about some of the others down here to know that they weren't necessarily very well equipped to handle the aftermath of a storm like that. The hospital where I work now for example, stored its emergency generators in the basement. Arguably the worst place in the world to keep something so important during a flood.

Like I said, I'm not going to pick sides in this one. I'm no even going to try to justify what those doctors did or didn't do. I wasn't here, I can't even imagine ever being in a situation like that--who am I to judge the decisions they made? What I will say is that if it were me laying there in a hospital bed, critically ill and hooked up to an oxygen tank that was quickly running out, knowing that once it does I will slowly suffocate to death...well...a shot of morphine seems like a much more humane way to go.

This is really very morbid and it makes me sad to think about. I apologize. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer here. I'm fascinated by all of the untold stories of hurricane Katrina though, and I think this one is especially thought-provoking. If anyone out there is reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The VMAs

So, did anyone else watch the VMAs last night? I don't know what got into me. I'm usually not all that interested in the award shows, save for getting online the next morning to look at all of the crazy things people wore--that part I like. I decided to watch last night though and here's a list of my thoughts and observation of the night's events.
1. The Michael Jackson Tribute - I was both impressed and mildly disappointed in this one. Madonna's monologue at the beginning was very touching, but as Zack pointed out at one point, she talked as much about herself as she did about Michael. Still, what she said sounded very sincere and you could tell she was genuinely saddened by his death. By the time she finished there wasn't, as they say, a dry eye in the house. The musical portion of the tribute was good but the part at the end where Janet came out and performed Scream was my favorite. She recreated the dance that Michael had done in that music video and they played his video on the screen behind her so it was almost like they were dancing together again. That was pretty cool.

This is somewhat off topic but I think she's really just about the only person in the whole world who has the right to even attempt to recreate his music. Not because of her talent level necessarily but because she's his sister. If that weren't the case it would have been doing MJ a disservice to have someone else get out there and try to sing his songs or dance his dances. While I'm here, this is something that bothers me about the music industry in general. I don't watch shows like American Idol very often but every time I have, I've been amazed at the audacity of some of the young contestants who come out there and try to sing songs that are just way, way too big for them. There are a few people out there you can't sing. You just can't. Whitney Houston for example; nobody can sing like Whitney can (or could, pre-cocaine binge). You're not going to top her. You're not even going to sound decent in comparison. Do yourself a favor and pick someone else's song to sing.

Back to last night. Like I said, the whole tribute thing was good. I guess I was left feeling mildly disappointed because over the course of the musical portion they really only covered a few of his songs. They got Thriller in there, and Bad, and of course Scream, but there was so much of his music they didn't even touch. He had such a long career, I was really expecting them to go back and pull some of his music from the Jackson 5 days too. Oh well. I'll say this about MJ and then I'm done. Say what you want about his personal life--he had a lot of problems and what I think was, in a lot of ways, a very sad life. But boy, was he talented. I don't think it is a stretch to say that we won't see another person with his level of talent in our lifetime.

2. Taylor Swift and Kanye - Kanye, Kanye, Kanye *shakes head sadly* What in the world were you thinking? Not only was that incredibly rude and beyond inappropriate, it made you look like a bigger moron than most people already think you are. For those who didn't see it, here's a recap. Taylor Swift won the VMA for Best Female Video. As she was onstage giving her acceptance speech, Kanye West appeared out of nowhere, took the mike out of Taylor's hand, and proceeded to go on a rant about how he thought Beyonce should have won instead. To her credit, Taylor Swift handled it really well. She wasn't able to finish her speech but she did stay on stage to accept a standing ovation once Kanye was removed. She's only like 19 years old but she certainly acts much more mature than that. Based on the look on her face, Beyonce was as surprised and disgusted by Kanye's outburst as everyone else. In one of the classiest acts of the night she made it up to Taylor the best way she could, by inviting her back out on stage later in the evening when she (Beyonce) won the award for Video of the Year. I love Taylor Swift and my respect for Beyonce quadrupled after last night too. Kanye on the other hand...I think someone ought to lock him in a cage. He's unstable.

3. Lady GaGa - Straight up, I love Lady GaGa. I think she's one of the more talented musicians to come around in a long time. Plus (much like Taylor Swift) she writes her own music which is always impressive. Zack says she reminds him of a more eccentric, out-in-left-field early Madonna. Also, I think she's insane. In a good way. I think she's one of those people who is so ahead of her time that the rest of us can't really understand a lot of what she does right now. I've gotta give her props on her daring fashion choices though. Even though most of what she wore last night was completely ridiculous, you gotta respect that she had the nerve to wear it.

4. MTV Overall - Can I just say, I've never really liked MTV? I think the producers of that station have taken what could have been an awesome opportunity to showcase lots of music and turned it, over the years, into the slightly-less-trashy cousin of VH1. Last night only perpetuated this belief in my mind. Between Kanye's drunken escapade (seriously, he walked down the red carpet holding his bottle of cognac; surely no one was surprised that he made a fool of himself later) and the announcers who spent more time advertising for iPhone than anything else, the music kind of got lost in the shuffle I thought. But hey, what do I know?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lauren's Favorite Things

In honor of a rainy Saturday afternoon I've decided to make like Oprah and do a "favorite things" list. Since I'm so creative and all, I'm going to call it Lauren's Favorite Things. Is that original or what? I guess I'll number the list to make it look more important and official but just know that these are in no particular order. Some are big. Some are small. Some are just plain silly. They're all things though, that for whatever goofy reason make me really, really ridiculously happy. (And for the record, this is truly a list of things; not people. You will not see my family members, friends, or God on the list because those just go without saying).

10. Gone With the Wind - The book and the movie. Of course we all know the unwritten rule that the book is always better but in this case the movie is no slouch either. I watched the movie for the first time when I was like six or so, at my Grandparent's house one Thanksgiving afternoon. I didn't muster up the courage to read the book until high school (have you seen that thing? It's huge!) but once I did, I was hooked. Now I read it at least once a year. At least. I love Scarlett. I love Rhett. I love Vivien Leigh as Scarlet and Clark Gable as Rhett. I love Mammy and Prissy and Ashley and Gerald O'Hara. I cry like a baby every time Melanie and Bonnie Blue die. Rhett walking away at the end of the story tears my heart out. As far as I'm concerned this is the greatest love story ever written. Margaret Mitchell was brilliant in the timelessness of the story because to date, there's not been another romantic novel come along that can hold a light to this one. Nicholas Sparks, eat your heart out.

As an aside, I do NOT feel the same way about Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With the Wind. I'm sorry Ms. Ripley but your book was just too unrealistic for my tastes. You expect me to believe that a young widow traveled by herself from rural Georgia to Ireland right after the Civil War in order to find her father's ancestors and then the man who had walked out on her miraculously decided he missed her and came halfway around the world to bring her home? Come on. (Rhett Butler's people, which came out about a year ago, was actually pretty good though).

9. Cheesecake - If I could only pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, this would be it. Of course, then I'd weight roughly one ton but it might be worth it. I didn't like cheesecake when I was little and looking back, I think, "What was wrong with me?" because its sooooooo good. Zack makes fun of me because I don't eat it very often (mostly in an effort to keep my clothes fitting) but when I do I eat it slowwwww. You've gotta savor that. The past few years I've asked my mom for a cheesecake birthday cake and when I couldn't decide on a flavor I just ended up getting her to make me two.

Speaking of birthday cake...
8. Birthdays - Your's, mine, our neighbor down the street, my boss's wife's second doesn't matter. I love birthdays! I love the idea that once a year there's one whole day devoted to doing nothing but celebrating the life of someone. I mean, how great is that? I don't even have to know you, if you tell me your birthday I'll probably bake you a cake or something.
7. Kentucky in the Fall - I am of the opinion that there's no better season than Fall and no better place to spend it than in Kentucky. I don't even think I'm biased here. I think anyone who visits Kentucky in say, mid-October would have to agree with me on this. I mean, look at that. You've got perfect weather. You've got football season and tailgating. You've got the Fall Meet at Keeneland. You've got my birthday (see above). Gee oh...just thinking about it right now is giving me excited tinglies in my toes.
6. Airports - I love to travel and I think I have an inherent need to be constantly on the go. That, or an undiagnosed case of ADHD that keeps me from sitting still for very long. Either way, I really like airports. It doesn't even matter why I'm there, if I'm in an airport I automatically feel like I'm going on a trip and that gets me excited. Plus there are so many random food choices and tacky gift shops--I can entertain myself for hours on end.

5. The X-Files - This is my favorite TV show of all time and no matter how many times I watch them, no matter how much fun my friends make of me, no matter how many people tell me I'm a complete paranoid weird-o, its most likely always going to be my favorite TV show. (I can't believe I just used the term weird-o. I haven't called anybody that since like 4th grade). I'm not even going to justify this one. I like it because I like it and if you don't like it there's a good possibility you haven't given it a chance. It's easily one of the Top 5 most intelligently written TV shows of the past 20 years. Period.

4. Red High Heels - I've had these for going on four years now I think and they're still just as stunning as the day I bought them. I don't even particularly like the color red, but these shoes are AH-mazing. They're attention grabbing without being gaudy and they're so classy its nuts. This is one pair of shoes that make me feel prettier and smarter and more ready to take on the world the second I put them on. You know you've got a good shoe when even straight guys notice them and tell you they're hot.

3. Grape Bubble Gum - I'm partial to Bubblicious (Gonzo Grape to those of us know are true connoiseurs) but when I'm desperate, anything will do. I'll even chew the grape flavored Double Bubble--that stuff that feels like you're chewing on a rock and tastes kind of like grape chalk--if its my only option. I chew gum like it's going out of style and I've got the worn down jaw to prove it. My dentist tells me I'm grinding my teeth down and I'll need jaw replacement surgery when I'm 50 at the rate I'm going now. I can't help it! I'm an addict I tell you! This addiction is justified in my mind because at least its not hard drugs or gambling or something.

2. University of Kentucky - I made the DJ play the Fight Song at our wedding reception, and everyone had to stand up and clap along if that tells you anything. The five years I spent at UK were the best of my life to date. If given the chance I'd go back and relive the entire thing all over again, start to finish, and probably not change a single thing. Kentucky is the only school I ever wanted to go to; it was the only place I even applied to for that matter. Had they not let me in I guess I just wouldn't have gone to college at all. I love this place. I can respect that not everyone loves the CATS like I do but if you're going to talk trash about my Alma mater we probably can't be friends.

1. Abby - Just look at that face! Need I say more? I think not. She's the best dog in the wholewideworld!!! She's suuuuuuuuper, super smart too...smarter than a lot of people I know come to think of it. We've had her since she was a puppy and I was in 6th grade. She's getting to be a bit of an old lady now, starting to slow down a little, but still the best pet anyone could ask for.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coupon Cutter

I have been inspired.

The other day I came across the blog of a friend of a friend who, from the sound of things, is a domestic goddess extraordinaire. I bet she's one of those moms all the other moms hate because she's so good at everything, always looks perfect, and makes it look easy. Like teddy bear soup. Between raising her Gerber-baby-food-commercial-cute kids, putting together the the most adorable house ever and taking care of her husband, she's also a coupon clipping Queen.

The last one is what's inspired me. (Sorry friends, but I'm in no hurry to tackle the rest of those domestic hurdles anytime soon). This coupon thing though, I can do that!

She claims that she can feed her whole family on $50 a week. If that's true it's pretty darn impressive because she listed some of the things they eat and its all really normal, every-day stuff that we eat too...and it's all brand name to boot. I've tried--with varying degrees of success--the money-saving maneuver of buying the cheaper, "store" brand for some of the more simple commodity type things we consume. Eggs. Cheese. Dish soap. Seriously, who cares if you use name brand soap? Not this girl.

Now, I think we can all agree that there are some things that you just can't be cheap on--ketchup for example; you gotta go with the Heinz because everything else is crap. It's a fact. But I really thought there were lots of things I could get away with buying cheaper because who cares what the label says? Zack supports my money-saving in theory, but when it comes to actually doing it, I don't think I've quite convinced him yet. He's all about some expensive toilet paper and paper towels (I didn't realize when I married him he had such a sensitive tush) and last week when I brought home some Wal-Mart brand cheddar cheese, he complained for a week that he thought it might be radioactive and that he could feel his insides glowing. He calls it our "government issue, cancer-infused, cheese-flavored product," and says that it'll still be equally edible when we're eligible for social security.
The good news is, at least he's not melodramatic.
We've compromised by buying moderately priced toilet paper and paper towels, cheaping it on the soap and cleaning products, and then springing for the good stuff when it comes to ketchup, cheese, and cereal.

And man oh man, can we eat some cereal. By "we" I mostly mean him, but I've been known to eat a bowl or two of cereal for dinner several nights in a row, so I'll take some of the credit here too. My sweet husband though, can eat cereal like none other. I wish there was a cereal eating contest I could enter him in because no doubt, he'd bring home the gold. We go through cereal like most people go through, well...toilet paper. We're talking upwards of four or five boxes a week. Maybe not quite a box a day, but darn close.

I had to put this in as an homage to Zack's current cereal of choice. We could never find any of these in Lexington and he thought they had quit making them altogether. Of course, when you come to the food mecca that is New Orleans you can find every cereal known to man, including the Count Chocula-Boo Berry- Franken Berry trio.

It's our cereal consumption that has me the most excited about cutting coupons. There are all kinds of coupons for cereal out there that I never really paid attention to. Super-mom claimed that she cut her weekly cereal bill from $22 to $5 just using coupons, so I'm determined to give it a shot. I've already found and cut out a bunch of coupons that I plan to use on my next trip to the grocery store. I'll let you know how it goes.

I think what all this coupon cutting boils down to is that I'm kind of a tight wad when it comes to my own money. Really! Some of you are probably falling off your seats laughing at that statement I know, but hear me out. I can shop with the best of them and I'm really, really good at spending when its someone else's money being spent. I'll quite literally shop 'till I drop then. But now that I've got my own big-kid job and I'm making my own money I'm starting to find that I can't enjoy reckless spending nearly as much as I used to could. It feels somehow irresponsible to go buy five new pairs of shoes when i know there are bills to pay and groceries to buy.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Air, please.

When you live as far south as we do, the one thing you definitely don't want to happen (or at least one thing I didn't want to happen) is for your air conditioner to die on you in the middle of summer. July and August were made bearable only by the constant running of all three of the window units we have here in our cottage and even though its now September and the temperature has cooled slightly, its nowhere near cool enough to go without A/C. So, guess what happened Friday afternoon, about the time I got home from work?

Yep. You guessed it. The window unit in the dining room, which happens to be the largest of the three and responsible for cooling the whole downstairs, died. it had been acting sick for a few days so its passing wasn't entirely unexpected. It had been giving what Zack described as a "death rattle" for the past week or so, and making lots of other funny groaning sounds too. I was hoping it would just hold out for another month or so, until it was a little bit cooler but no such luck.

You can probably imagine, at least to some extent, what it's been like for us this weekend. We have leather couches which means that we literally have to kind of peel our bare skin off of them after we've been sitting for more than a couple minutes. Everything in the house has a fine film of condensation on it now, which is pretty gross and the other night when Zack was making dinner and cut a couple slices of butter to use for sauteeing vegetables, it melted in the pan before he even turned the burner on underneath it.

I know that there are hotter places we could cousins out in Phoenix can attest to that and I'm sure that the heat out there is even worse than it is here so I shouldn't complain too much. Here in New Orleans though, it's not the heat so much as the humidity that'll kill you. We had planned to only use the air conditions sparingly; to turn them down when we weren't home or during the day when we were in other parts of the house. The problem, we discovered very shortly after moving in, is that its so darn humid down here that if the A/C isn't running at basically full-blast at all times, everything gets damp and musty. There's nothing worse than living through the heat all day long then crawling into what you hope will be a nice cool bed at night, only to find that the sheets are practically dripping with moisture. Oh, who am I kidding? The heat down here is every bit as bad as the humidity.

So the A/C decides to die at about 5 p.m. on the Friday of a holiday weekend. Our chances of getting it replaced before Tuesday were looking pretty bleak. It's now Sunday afternoon and lo and behold our landlords have managed to find someplace open over the weekend to buy a new unit. Zack is downstairs helping them install it as we speak. I'm hiding out upstairs until I'm sure they're finished. I've been sweating down there for two days just sitting...I'm not too excited at the thought of manual labor!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Work, work, work

Well, I've almost survived the first week of the new job! Granted, it wasn't exactly a full week (I didn't start until Tuesday and that was just orientation so technically Wednesday was my first "real" day on the job) but hey, that's still something, right? So far so good. I can tell I've got a LOT to learn but that's a good thing. I knew I that would be the case and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've already decided you've got to be SMART...I mean, super super SMART to be the CEO/CFO of a company. Big company, small company, doesn't matter. You can't be a dummy and do the job that people in those positions do. When I was in MBA school we read some news articles and case studies about the salaries CEOs at different companies make and we had a lot of "ethical" discussions about how much is too much in terms of their compensation. Well as far as I'm concerned, after watching my new bosses for the past two days I know that if they were running my company I'd have no problem paying them a ridiculous salary! They earn it. The amount of responsibility they have is just enormous and the hours that they put in are pretty insane too.

So far, everyone I've met has been great to me. I may eat these words later but everyone seems very friendly and helpful and genuinely happy to be working there. I know that no business is perfect but the fact that I keep hearing nothing but good things about this one makes me think that there must be some truth to what these people say.

Even though I'm on the bottom of the totem pole (I am after all, the new kid) I've already gotten to enjoy one little perk of this new job too. Today at work the CEO, who is now one of my bosses, offered Zack and I his tickets to tonight's Saints game! How cool is that? Of course, we were very excited to have the chance to go to see them play (for free no less) since neither of us had ever been to a pro football game at all...much less in the Superdome so we gladly jumped on the opportunity. It was pretty darn awesome too! These seats were 26 rows off the field so we had an incredibly view. Even though it was just an exhibition game, there were a lot of people there and the atmosphere was great. Zack told me to be sure to let my boss know that we will glady take any extra tickets off his hands in the future too, if there's ever a time when he doesn't want to use them!

I promise to write in greater deatil about my job soon. I just wanted to let everyone know that its going well so far and we are still alive down here in NOLA!