Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Well-Kept Secrets, Vol. VI

(Image from ThisNext)

I don't know where I heard about Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See, but I loved it. I grabbed it one afternoon last fall in New York, and sat coffee in left hand, pages turning in right, until I finished it.

These are compelling to read because: 1. they are love letters, and 2. they are not yours.

I forgot about it for a while, then remembered while I was perusing the book selection at Anthropologie (yes, they sell something other than those bowls and assorted cardigans adorned with ribbons and bows). I bought a book that day, called For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing.

(Image from Yahoo)

It is a good resource for anyone who wants to learn something about writing memorable letters and needs a place to start. Random? Perhaps, but I'm a letter junkie. They come few and far between, but I keep basically anything handwritten I have ever received and I have recently made more of a concerted effort to send penned correspondence out into the world.

My mother found a letter and passed it my way casually a few weeks ago. "This was for you..." she said. It was a nondescript card, which when I got around to reading it I found was from my Great Aunt, said "ay-unt" not "ahhnt", I'm from Texas, remember?

What surprised me was that it was dated April 23, 1985, about three months after I was born. I read it over and over; she was excited to meet me, told me how adorable I was in pictures and that she had sent me a dress to wear during the summer when I would go to visit family in Mississippi. It was simple and full of love and I had never seen it before, in all my 23 years.

My aunt did not send the letter expecting that it would be kept for long, or knowing that 23 years later it would end up cherished by me as an indication of the loving reception I received when I came into the world. She probably didn't even think I would ever see it, but I did. It is now framed in my room.

I only speak for myself, but I don't know anyone who has ever framed an e-mail.

"One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter."
-James Earl Jones

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Good Grief

As fate would have it, I woke up with conjunctivitis, (or pink eye as the non-med students, including myself, call it), the morning after Christmas. I deserved it after heartlessly avoiding my father and brother and their maladies. Since pink eye is uber-contagious until you get antibacterial drops working, I got to be quarantined.

Lucky for me, I received all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, otherwise known as the one thing no man will touch at Best Buy, for Christmas. Other than my post-Christmas shopping trip(s), I've been mostly holed up in my room watching the DVDs and snuggled up in my favorite wrap.

Someone pointed out to me the other day that I have developed a penchant for cashmere. This is true, cashmere is a vice of mine. Leave me alone- it's soft, okay?

Over the past few months I have started to take my cerulean blue (courtesy of The Devil Wears Prada), cashmere travel wrap everywhere. I happened to be reading the Comics section of The Dallas Morning News the other day, and came to a shocking realization while reading Peanuts.

I am a modern day Linus, only without the animated aura of dirt hovering around me.

It was the first cashmere thing I ever bought for myself, and I got it this spring from White + Warren. It's the perfect accessory because it transforms: it can be a scarf, a wrap or a blanket. It makes unfamiliar places feel a little more like home.

Because it is luxurious and I am 23-years-old, it is socially acceptable. I can wear or carry it anywhere with me and have no one notice anything strange about it, but I'm no different than the four-year-old in front of me with his mom checking in at a Hyatt Resort. His blanket may have dinosaurs and trucks on it, but we both know that they are essentially the same.

Mine is just happens to be dry clean only and smell faintly of Coco Chanel.

“Happiness is anyone and anything that's loved by you.”
-Charlie Brown, Peanuts

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Later On, We'll Conspire

My brother and father have had colds for the past few days; running fever and looking generally miserable. In the interest of my health, I have tried to escape the infirmary ward that has become my family's home.

I met up for dinner on Christmas Eve's Eve with three friends I've known most of my life; we grew up living within a few doorbells of each other. We met at MK's parents house, while the rest of her family was gone, where I found MK and RW in the front room already drinking red wine and waiting for ND to get there with a pizza.

I love the rare occasions, e.g. holidays, that enable us all to be in the same room at the same time. All four of us are the oldest children in our families, so despite our personality differences we have always held that common thread. Not having older siblings to glean valuable life lessons from, much of what we have learned from dating has come from each other's experiences.

Another friend of ours called MK while we were assembling a salad to go with the pizza, needing advice on what to write in a book she bought her boyfriend for Christmas. The four of us huddled around the iPhone on the bar and we put her on speakerphone so that everyone could give her thoughts on the matter. The ideas we threw out were equal parts light-hearted, corny, poignant and provocative. The dating advice I have gotten from those three over the years has been all over the place, but one thing I know for sure: what they do, works.

I've mentioned my friend ND before. She is the best example of a girl I know who does not obsess over one guy- she diversifies.

I emailed her the other day before she returned from Hawaii, where she lives, to make plans for her time "on the mainland" as she calls it, over her Christmas break from teaching. She mentioned that she would be leaving to go to D.C. for a few days after Christmas, to the city where she once lived to see her ex-bf, and was considering going on to Charleston afterward to visit her summer fling. She juggles boys better than Patrick Dempsey does china plates. Having shampoo commercial-worthy hair and year-round tan helps her cause.

After spending hours in a room that held much of our childhood the other night, she hopped up and said, "okay, Merry Christmas, I'm gonna go make out with ______." After receiving dumbfounded looks, she replied, "What? He's hot!"

My friend RW was the girl who lived next door to me growing up- no wait- actually I was the girl next door and she was the girl who happened to look a lot like Angelina Jolie. She lives and works in Nashville now, but it doesn't take long to be out with her and recall the effect she has on men. She always has the upper hand- I've never seen her lose her cool over anyone or worry about what any guy is thinking. It's like she could care less, which makes her all the more desirable.

MK can do anything and go anywhere she pleases because she does everything with authority. She is 5'10, blond, and can walk backstage at any concert or into a sports club where she is not a member and no one will lift an eyebrow. She owns you.

I think it's good to watch your friends who are successful in dealing with the male population, and take a few feathers from their hats. RW, for example, would never approach a guy. If a guy wants to talk to her, he has to initiate.

ND has that Bill Clinton quality of making you feel like you're the only person in the room. She is a great conversationalist because she speaks with a passion that is contagious. She doesn't hold anything back, which is the biggest thing I admire about her. If she likes you, you know it. No holds-barred.

MK makes everything look effortless. She can roll out of bed and be showered; ready for work in 20 minutes. It's mind-boggling. She does not embarrass easily, and the level of confidence she exudes is attractive.

Of the many things we have learned from each other, I think we would all agree that what works for one might not work for another. We can't even agree on what kind of pizza to order. Those three seem to have found what "works" for them when it comes to men, and while all have winning play-books, I seem to keep returning to the drawing board for mine.

For someone who learned from the best, I've still got a long way to go.

Merry Christmas, all!

"Those who've seen us, know that not a thing could come between us..."
- Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, "Sisters" song, White Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Strangers in the Night

I'm usually not much fun on Friday nights- like everyone else I basically want to go home and bury myself under layers of down; never to surface until an appropriately late hour on Saturday morning. The past two Friday nights however, I have succumbed to making "plans" and found myself at Central Market (like Whole Foods, but better) after work, buying wine for some Friday evening pre-partying.

I was in Detroit for work early last week, and while catching up on email I came across a Christmas party invitation from my college friend BF. Her boyfriend and his roommates were having an impromptu gathering on Friday night and I told her I was game. Save for a few other girl friends of mine, most of the people invited were guys who went to another college. I'm not really in the market for new friends but how often do you have a non-bar opportunity to hang out with people you don't know? It is not often that one gets to be the mysterious stranger at a party.

I went to dinner with four of my friends at Mi Cocina, since we decided the Friday night prior that CC needed a few more Mambo Taxis* in her life. We went our separate ways afterward, so I input the directions in my GPS (God's gift to women) and headed to West Dallas.

I had not been to this house before, but knew I was at the right place when I got out of my car and heard Jay-Z blaring from inside. I was greeted at the door by my friends BF and RD and a mimosa in a red Solo cup. I decided I needed to look around first to know who I would be dealing with, so I signed up for the 10:30 PM guided tour.

I am always intrigued by male residences because they vary so much in cleanliness, order and lack there-of. There were three guys living in the house, all accountants, and all of their rooms were impeccably clean. BF, RD and I ended up sitting on the couch in one of their rooms, talking away from the loud music.

There was a bookshelf in my line of sight, which arrested my attention, and so while we were talking I started browsing this dude's library. I hadn't met him yet, and as someone who likes to read, I figured what better way to get to know someone than evaluating their taste in literature?

I am not normal.

The defining feature I found about his library, however, was that he had not read most of the books on his shelves. This was disappointing. Why would one have this large volume of books displayed if they had not even been read? By having those out, you are inviting literary conversation. You can tell when books have been read- at the very least the spine is cracked and the pages fall open naturally, or (if you're me), the pages are dog-eared and marked for meaningful passages and crinkled lovingly from water and coffee spills.

A guy with a beard came into the room and pointed out that the three of us were being anti-social. Since guys definitely outnumbered girls at the party, that seemed to be an issue. At this point I had finished my first mimosa and was on the floor, flipping through a pristine copy of John Adams. I decided that I had played librarian enough for one night, and someone had mentioned having Britney Spears on their iPod, so we made it back into the fray.

There were short steps leading into their living room, which was where the action was (so obviously I was hanging out on the fringe, chatting) and I realized that I was stepping up or down on each level reflexively, depending on the height of the person (guy) that was talking to me. It was almost comical- I am about 5'7 without shoes on, which makes me about eye-level with a lot of guys when I have heels on, and still shorter than anyone above 6'0. It probably looked something like a Jazzercise routine.

I wasn't there to be on the prowl, though I probably should have been since New Year's is next week, but it was still an entertaining night with strangers.

There was one guy in a striped shirt, jeans and boots who had definitely had a lot to drink, as evidenced by his red face and desire to give any seated female a lap dance. This contrasted nicely with the perfect rows of shoes in his closet, his slight nerdy-ness and the fact that his shirt was tucked in. It reminded me of that episode of The Office, where Pam hides Michael's jeans after they come back from the dry cleaner, saying "I can tell you he loves the way he looks in those jeans; I know that's why he started casual Fridays."

*Think: margarita times five.

"I only go out to get a fresh appetite for being alone."
-Lord Byron

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lessons in Bridesmaid Diplomacy

There are two kinds of bridesmaids in this world: assets and liabilities.

As wedding season is about to commence once again with a double-header on January 3, 2009, I find myself reflecting on past blunders, both of my own doing and ones I have observed others commit, and I hope to educate the outside world of some wedding etiquette I have gained from the past two years and 14 some-odd weddings I have attended.

Some things may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised...

1. Earmuffs. Regardless of what's going on the day of the wedding, the bride should not hear about anything minor that goes wrong. Unless an immediate family member or the groom is in the hospital, then whatever happened is completely irrelevant.

2. Jail bait. Do NOT make-out with the bride's younger brother. She WILL find out eventually, and will be less than thrilled, especially if he is a teenager. He's not the one who is going to get in trouble for this indiscretion... you are.

3. Tread lightly. No matter how relaxed or laid-back a bride is in real, non-wedding-related life, she's under a lot of stress. She's got a lot going on, and if she needs to vent, just listen.
A friend once called me over Christmas break whispering from a closet, two weeks before her older sister's wedding, just because she thought she might go crazy with everyone telling her what to do.

4. Because she's the bride. If the bride tells you to put your hair up, then put your hair up. If she tells you to wear it down, wear it down. If she doesn't care either way, then you have options. Now is not the time for individualism. (Ditch the sports watch for a day while you're at it- digital doesn't go well with your bouquet.)
If everyone in the bridal party is getting their hair done, and it has been arranged by the bride, it will probably be by a stylist you don't normally use. This is okay as long as you know how to be assertive and don't mind telling the person where your part should go and the appropriate level of volume. You do not want to end up looking like a 15-year-old at her first Homecoming and it's your responsibility to speak up. Reminder: wedding pictures last forever.

5. Plus one. Do not ask to invite other people. If you were "and guested" then you have the option to bring a date and you are responsible for his behavior. You do not need to feel obligated to bring a date either. If there is no date option then just enjoy doing the electric slide with your friends or two-stepping with a nice young man who you will never see again, but don't under any circumstances ask to bring more people.

6. RSVP ASAP. Always RSVP, regardless as to whether or not you are in the wedding party. They include the pre-addressed, stamped envelope for a reason, and it's really, very easy. You're not planning to attend? Well how are they supposed to know that if you didn't sent the card back?

7. Hanging from the chandeliers. Know your crowd at a bachelorette party. If there are little sisters or mothers present, then maybe take it down a notch and cool it on your cocktail-intake. Ask the bride if she even wants those people invited- some girls are totally open in front of everyone and others would rather crawl under a rock and die than have their future mother-in-law watch them pull something lacy and black out of a box.

8. Cheers. Toasting is tricky. If you are a MOH or a BM, in which case speeches are not optional, you should have something prepared beforehand that has a definitive ending. "So uhh yeah, cheers you guys" is probably not the note you want to end on. Referring to a note card is totally acceptable. Also, try not to use mitigated speech in front of the crowd. Silences don't have to be filled with "umms" and "ahhs," in fact they shouldn't at all.

9. Cheese. Never annoy or boss around the photographer. They could make your life miserable from many different angles. Don't chew gum during picture-taking either, you have no idea how many candid shots they take.

Kevin: [motions to a "Gone With the Wind"-style dress] What the hell is that?
Jane: Theme wedding.
Kevin: What was the theme? Humiliation?

-27 Dresses

10. An honest answer. If your opinion was solicited when the bridesmaids dresses were selected, then you are free to give it. If you were emailed a link of what to order, that's great too. There are normal options out there these days, and I haven't minded any of the dresses I have been asked to wear. They even got bonus points if they had pockets. Remember that bridesmaid dresses are not chosen with posterity in mind.

11. Timing is everything. Pay attention to where you are supposed to be and when. The rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner are probably different places, FYI. If there are maps included in invitations, they are there for a reason; that reason being that your friend the bride will not be answering her cell phone and doesn't want to spend her wedding weekend trying to give you directions that you should already have.

12. Fine china. People spend a lot of time registering for gifts, so keep that in mind. It's totally okay to go in on a gift with someone else. I know procrastination is tempting, and sometimes if you're flying to a wedding you have no option but to buy the gift the weekend-of, but the longer you wait, the fewer options you'll have when picking something out yourself.

13. Travel coordinating. If you are coming from out of town, be sure to arrange your own transportation and accommodations. Rooms are held at hotels but it's your responsibility to actually book them and to get yourself from Point A to Point B.

14. Stealing thunder. This is not your day. Whether you traveled 2,000 miles or across town to get there, it doesn't change anything. Don't make anyone feel guilty for how far you traveled or how much money you spent on their wedding. You may have already gotten married and so you should be appreciative that this person probably went to great lengths to make your wedding special, and if you aren't married, then you know that this person will hopefully be there for you one day.

15. Smile across the aisle. Make friends with the groomsmen if you don't know them already. If you are at a dry wedding, there is a 95% chance that at least one of them is carrying a flask.

"Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion!"
-Jeremy Gray, Wedding Crashers

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Ugly Sweater

I'm starting to wonder if I will be able to make it through a holiday season over the next five years without attending an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party of sorts. I don't mind them, I did discover The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection CD on Friday night at one such party, but they've just exploded over the past few years.

People don't even bother having contests anymore, everyone just wants to wear them over and over again in lieu of choosing multiple holiday outfits.

This picture is of my friends and I, in Dallas last week, having an Ugly Christmas Sweater Tea Party of all things. It was grand. The girls agreed that each of our mothers does not appreciate us asking her to borrow clothing for costume purposes. The same goes with 80's Prom or other related events.

I started thinking of what we will get harassed for in 20 years. Our kids will probably wear Juicy Couture sweats and Uggs and laugh at how ridiculous we looked... though I don't think any one of us will ever escape ridicule, from our children or each other, for wearing Doc Martens, either.

"One arrives at style only with atrocious effort, with fanatical and devoted stubbornness."
-Gustave Flaubert

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fourteen; a List

Today marks the one month countdown to my 24th birthday. In honor of this; a list.

14 things you may or may not know about me:

1. I sneeze as if on cue when I'm trying to get comfortable and fall asleep. Usually twice.

2. If I could wake up to find nothing but snow outside on my birthday every year, I would be the happiest girl in the world.

3. The last time I calculated, the average age of my Top Five* was 37.2.

4. It takes me much longer to print than to write in cursive.

5. I never share my passwords to anything with anyone. Ever. Trust issues?

6. I can't touch my toes. It has something to do with having short hamstring muscles. Contrary to popular belief- I am genetically flawed.

7. I have a thing for guys with red hair. Nothing against blondes or brunettes, I have liked one or two of those in my day. No idea why, but the red has a magnetic quality. I think it's the novelty and eye-catchingness of the color.

8. I love Naked Juice, particularly the Mighty Mango flavor, but the idea of carrying something that says "Naked" on the label in to work makes me squirm.

9. I am particular about keeping my car clean. I take it to my dealership, which is a few streets up from my office, once a week during lunch to have it washed. The crowd waiting for their cars inside is usually me and men who are 65+, retired, reading the paper and watching Fox News or SportsCenter. It's like the greatest, un-bothered hour of my week.

10. I own exactly 20 little black dresses. I could wear a different one every weekday for a month without repeats.

11. I always want writing to be a part of my life in some capacity.

12. I have never been in love.

13. I have to have some sort of lip moisturizer within reach at all times. I get more compliments from wearing Aquaphor than any lip gloss.

14. The tiny fraction of emo within my soul is a fan of black nail polish.

15. I would love to play chess, and the piano, well.

*Top Five is a highly regulated list that several of my friends keep, each has her own, of their favorite male actors and musicians. There is also an honorary Silver Fox distinction for a 40+ man, which is separate from the Five.

"You are unrepeatable. There is a magic about you that is all your own."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keyword Gems

I use Google Analytics, which tracks different demographics for me about the number of people reading my blog, where they are and how they got to my site.

I don't usually pay attention to the "Keyword" feature, but it caught my eye today, because someone found my site by Googling the following:

"Harry Potter and Chi Omega Fraternity Resemblance"

What?! And also, YES.

I have so many questions for that person. Starting with "can we be friends?"

Then I read the others, which were less exciting, but found that two other people also found their way to me by searching for:

"Reluctant, date"

Thanks for the laugh, Google.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Breckenridge Fiasco

I'm trying to set a personal record to see just how many times I can listen to All I Want For Christmas Is You, Santa Baby and Baby It's Cold Outside this holiday season.

I love cold weather because I grew up and now live in Texas, where you have just as much of a chance at a 70-degree day in December as you do a 30-degree day.

It's just science.

I have always associated cold weather with Christmas, my birthday and vacation; presents, turning another year older, more presents, visiting New York and going on ski trips. Most of these trips have been with my family, going to Colorado, but one in particular I took with a few of my friends. One being the operative word here.

We went to Breckenridge. It was the end of 2003. There were six of us (all girls, all good friends), three experienced Skiers and three Non-Skiers. They had never been skiing before, period. The Non-Skiers spent the first half of our first day in ski school; learning the ropes with an instructor. We Skiers spent the morning all over the mountain, hopping on and off chair lifts. We all had comparable experience, which is always a bonus when skiing with a group (someone is too fast, you lose them; someone is too slow, they get left behind) and we made it through several runs.

We had agreed to meet up for lunch at the bottom of the mountain, and we listened as the Non-Skiers talked about their morning. All of them spoke with confidence regarding their abilities. As we had done the rest of the day, we gathered our things and hopped on the first chair lift we saw after lunch, this time with the Non-Skiers in tow. We would take it slow- no big deal. I was in the first chair as we arrived at the top with no issues, but the second one with the rest of the girls brought the lift to a halt.

I turned around and saw skis and poles going in all directions; sunglasses askew and bodies half-covered in snow. Not good. That's when we learned that they had not actually gone up a chair lift, but rather one of those T-bar lifts that you hold onto as it drags you up a bunny slope. Definitely not good.

While they dusted themselves off, the Skiers started looking at the map to see where we could take them... Where was a green run? Why wasn't there a green run? How did we not check this? There was no green anywhere... it was blue and black runs the whole way down.

We were trying to figure out what to do with the Non-Skiers when they approached us to ask us what was going on in the midst of our semi-formulated plan. When we told them there wasn't a green run, we could see their eyes get larger and larger. That's when they dropped the bomb that their instructor, who probably spent more time flirting with them than "instructing," actually only took them on half of a green run that morning. Once.

We told them it would be "fine" (what else do you do when you think your friends might plunge down a mountain, to their icy cold deaths?), and each of us Skiers paired up with one of them to help get them down the mountain. I was thankfully with my friend AG, who has always been athletic and who was determined not to let the mountain get the best of her. One painfully long hour later, we finally reached the bottom of the mountain. She collapsed onto the snow, exhausted as we tried to keep a lookout for the other girls but had lost them early on.

Making snow angels got old after a while, and it was getting dark, and we decided to head inside and find our bathing suits. The others dragged in, two by two, the Skiers looking weary from the hours of cheerleading and hopeless encouragement and the Non-Skiers looking defeated but alive. We compared stories while we all soaked in the hot tub and relived the day. Turns out that one pair made it down about 45 minutes after we did, and the other pair had some assistance from Ski Patrol, who rescued another.

The next day they compared battle wounds and all had massive bruises, which were appropriate shades of blue and black. The trip was memorable; we were there over New Year's and kept the skiing segregated into our two groups from that point on. Though our friendships were no worse for wear, I could finally see why skiing has never caught on as a favorite honeymoon activity among couples... there are too many opportunities to kill each other. The altitude, the fatigue, the sharp poles in your hands. I don't know if there is anything more frustrating than being right there, wanting to help someone, and being unable to physically do so.

Needless to say, the trip did not catch on as a tradition. Sunbathing on a beach is apparently more conducive to relaxation.

"Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face."
-Dave Berry

Monday, December 8, 2008


I got back last night from a five day business trip to Florida.

(You're thinking: Work?! Florida in December? Not buying it.)

I knew I was going to be busy though, and since I didn't want to bring both my personal and my work laptops around with me to three cities in five days (logistical airport security nightmare) and I chose to leave my MacBook at home. I packed awesomely by the way, I had no superfluous clothing, shoes or accessories and I didn't lose anything, though I did leave half-drinken 20 oz. Diet Dr Peppers in three different hotel room refridgerators.

No offense to the blogging world, but I much enjoyed my time spent away from the internet. During my trip I had few chances to check my Blackberry, much less my Gmail, and I didn't feel like trying to get a browser signal while drinking a pina colada and watching the sunset Friday night in Ft. Lauderdale. I even wandered onto the golf course that wrapped around the resort for a while. As it got darker I then remembered something about alligators and iguanas roaming free and made the executive decision to roam back to a cabana. Someone later told me that if I'm ever confronted with an alligator, I should run side to side instead of straight. Apparently alligators are fast, but they are not quick when they have to change direction.

Lovely, I'll file that away with hitting a shark on the nose and pretending to be dead during a bear attack.

I found it funny that a man I was working with while in Florida said said to me: "for someone who travels all over the country, you still can't lose that Southern drawl, can you?" I replied, "I guess not- I wouldn't want to though! It's part of my charm." It's true, I can't and I don't want to. Why would I?

I needed the break and a change of scenery. I needed to be off-line for awhile and not stare at a computer or an inbox. It wasn't vacation, but I tried to make it relaxing. I did not even pack a bathing suit, and when I talked to MK earlier, who was in Minnesota for work while I was in Florida, I mentioned it to her. Her response?:

MK: Really? I brought mine. I definitely did a cannonball into the pool of the Marriott in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

And that is why we are friends.

"I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life's decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer day."
-Lewis Carroll

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Well-Kept Secrets, Vol. V

I have established that I am a fan of the daily emails. As many other girls do, I e-subscribe to Daily Candy, which are cleverly written, tailored to my city (Dallas) and take literally 20-30 seconds to read.

I read an article recently on the creators of, which provides a similar service as Daily Candy, only catering to men. They provide "Thrillist Nation" daily news on Food + Dining, Style, Entertainment, Travel, Bars + Nightlife and Home + Gadgets. They also send weekly emails by city.

I like feeling as though gifts I give people are thoughtful, and I have a strict no-gift cards policy, but I'm as guilty as the next girl of giving my fraternity boy brother* Polo shirts and my avid reader and golfer father** a lame tie or something irrelevant from Brookstone. This has definitely become a new resource for me for gift ideas and randomly great websites:

I like the recommendation they made for the website Forvo, which tells you how to pronounce words in any other language you can think of.

I am not the most savvy of music-listeners, but apparently Blue Tunes can load your iTunes library into its online database, so you can access it anywhere.

Who doesn't love cheap wine? Not me and definitely not you. The Accidental Wine Company looks promising.

I drive everywhere now, but this Walk Score website would be great for anyone who hits the pavement.

It is so much cheaper and more efficient to get these in your inbox (read: "gloriously free") than picking up a random copy of Men's Health or roaming aimlessly around a sporting goods store, and takes care of Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Miami on a regional basis as well.

Maybe the emails just appeal to the same side of me who also watches Entourage. I really love that show for some reason. Either way, I like being informed.

*For my brother's 22nd birthday this year I gave him black bow tie and suspenders for his tux. He had a vest and tie but that was a little too prom circa 2004. The classic James Bond look is much more sexy.
**For my dad's 51st birthday I made reservations at a nice restaurant in Dallas and took him to dinner for a change, and for some quality time.

"Enabling informed laziness since 2005. Get emails that let you read very little, yet know pretty much everything."

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Ranch, The Game, The Ring and other Thanksgiving Tales, Part II

Over a week ago my friend RM had told me the news that our friend SR's boyfriend would be proposing on her 24th birthday; which was Friday. His parents were planning a surprise engagement party for them afterward, so we all made our Thanksgiving travel plans accordingly.

I arrived at MK and SR's apartment Friday evening under the guise of going to a movie with MK. SR was getting ready to go to dinner with her boyfriend, and so I went into her room to talk to her and ask about her birthday and Thanksgiving and whatnot. Playing it cool is not a game I'm very good at, but I tried my best to just act like "oh this will be a fun birthday date" and tell her she looked great in her new outfit.

Meanwhile MK and I were clearly in no hurry to leave for our "movie"; she was baking a brie (apparently her new favorite thing to do) and mixing Cape Cods for us while still in her robe. SR seemed a little on-edge, so we made her take a shot of Grey Goose from a Waterford crystal shot glass. Very classy. She joked that before her first date with her boyfriend two years prior, her college roommates had made her do the same thing.

TC, the boyfriend, came to pick her up, and I watched for any sign of nervousness but found only a poker face as they left. Side note to say that I've seen a few guys pre-proposal and the usual look is a combination of fear and deer in headlights. I even ran into another friend's boyfriend getting coffee one morning in college, and what I thought was a frazzled, sleepless finals-week expression was actually anxiety over having to ask her father, who walked in right after me, if he could marry her.

Minutes later RM and AV blew in to the apartment with the ring, roses and a photo album that TC had made. We all looked at the ring first, of course, placed it back in the box and into the silverware drawer as per TC's instructions, wrapped the roses in tissue paper instead of plastic (makes them look ten times better) and MK tried to find suitable background music on her iPod. We debated a candle, but MK said that SR would be furious with her for leaving a flame burning in the apartment unattended.

We met up with our other friends, KR and AG, continued drinking at a Mexican food restaurant in Dallas, then drove on to TC's parents house. Not paying very close attention, we ended up knocking on the wrong door first, which was answered by a man who was stunned to find five 23-year-old girls and RM on his doorstep. We apologized and asked where Mr. and Mrs. C's house might be, he told us and we kept walking as he said "you can come back if you want to!" Awesome- apparently all you have to do is start knocking on doors, ladies.

We made it to the right house and did not have to wait long for the happy couple to come bursting through the doors. SR was shocked to see everyone and we got to descend upon her with hugs and pictures. TC's mom had even gotten SR a birthday cake, and we all got to enjoy her birthday and her engagement late into the evening. Our friend AG also recently got engaged, and RM joked that it's going to be like the new movie Bride Wars over the next eight months around here... Kidding!

The two of them are planning weddings one month apart for next summer, in the same hometown with many of the same people. Their personalities and fiances are very different, so I'm sure their weddings will be too.

For the record, this makes wedding number five on the docket for 2009.

Also, a happy 24th birthday to my friend KR as well... who I wrote this for one very short year ago.

"You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined... You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it's the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That's the greatest fear of all, because then you lose her."
- Steve Martin as George Banks, Father of the Bride