Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fried to a Crisp


This past Saturday, my friends Lacey, Hannah and I decided that summer had arrived, with record-high temperatures predicted for the next week – perfect beach weather! The girls are lucky enough to live directly across the street from Alki Beach, so I headed to West Seattle to spend the afternoon sunbathing. Yesterday morning, Lacey called to inform me that she had just returned from the doctor’s office – with a diagnosis of first-degree burns covering 95% of her body! Ouch!!

On Saturday, the temperature reached a lovely 82 degrees – perfect for laying out on the beach all day, in my opinion. There was a nice breeze off the water, and even though the sand was scorching hot on my feet, it really wasn’t unbearably warm. Lacey and Hannah had been basking in the sun for about an hour before I arrived at noon. Determined to get some sun, I made the admittedly stupid decision to forgo any kind of sunscreen. So did Lacey and Hannah. A couple hours later, Lacey was beginning to turn a bit pink. I, however, had no lines whatsoever!! Annoyed and sweaty, we headed home for a Popsicle.

Out of the scorching sunlight, it quickly became apparent that Lacey really should have used some sunscreen – preferable sunBLOCK, SPF 1000. She was red as a tomato all over her entire body, in some spots almost purple! I’ve never seen a worse sunburn in my entire life! It hurt my eyes just to look at her! She spent the remainder of the evening taking ibuprofen and slathering herself with after-sun lotion.

The next morning I awoke determined to get a beautiful bronze tan. Lacey reluctantly (and painfully) pulled on her bikini and we headed to Madison Park, just for a change of scenery. We spent the next couple hours slowly inching our towels along the grass, to make sure that Lacey’s fried body stayed in the shade, while my skin stayed within striking distance of the sun’s tanning rays. The result: Some faint tan lines on my chest, and a slight pink tone to my shoulders. WTF?!? How is it possible that Lacey managed to get horribly burned in just three hours, while I spent two days in the sun and still have nothing to show for it?

Admittedly, I have been to a tanning salon a few times in the past month. Maybe by slowly exposing myself to these fake sunrays, I have taught my skin not to burn or something. And maybe my olive skin tone helped, too. For Lacey, on the other hand, this was the first time her self-admitted virgin white skin had seen the sun since last summer. And it obviously rebelled against such abuse.

Since my tanning adventures, I’ve spoken to several different people about the benefits of using/forgoing sunscreen. I have always been one of those people who believe that using any type of sunscreen, no matter how low the SPF, will prevent me from getting the best, darkest tan possible. I know, most people will say this is stupid, and I’m going to give myself skin cancer. Whatever. It’s my body, and if I choose to roast myself like a Thanksgiving turkey, that’s my business. Lacey used to feel the same way, but I think from now on she will be taking some precautions.

Upon further consideration, I did some research to find out if sunscreen really will prevent the skin from tanning. Apparently, the answer is quite the reverse. Although the skin changes color more slowly when you are wearing sunscreen, the resulting tan will be better and longer-lasting, because sunscreen will prevent your skin from burning and peeling. Additionally, a gradually achieved tan is safer, more even, and longer lasting. Interesting. But although dermatologists recommend the liberal use of sunscreen, they warn that it’s entirely possible for the sun to damage skin without burning it. So even slathering on the highest-number sunscreen at the beach or pool won’t spare you skin cancer and premature wrinkles. Great.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that sunscreen can actually help me get a better and longer-lasting tan, my top priority for the summer. So this week I’m going to go out and buy some sunscreen that has both UVB (burning) and UVA (cancer-causing) protection. I found that SPF 15 blocks about 93% of the sun’s rays, and SPF 50 blocks about 98% (and it’s often more expensive). I think I’ll stick to SPF 15, since the difference is so slight.

I find it kind of ironic that centuries ago pale chubby women were considered fashionable, because these characteristics were a sign that they could hire people to perform manual labor for them, and therefore stay out of the sun themselves. But today, it is considered a sign of class and wealth when a person has enough time to simply sit and bask in the sun all afternoon. (That is, when they are not exercising obsessively to maintain a perfect figure). My, how the times have changed.

Anyone want to go to the beach this weekend?

6/28/06 -- Update from Lacey: "The peeling has begun. My face is a sheet of dead skin, as is my upper back and soon to be my stomach and chest. My legs and arms may escape the flakes of fury. Here's to hopin!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fat Factory


As a reward for being "Advertising Unit of the Quarter" recently, my entire department got to go to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory on Tuesday, courtesy of our advertising director. Not being one to pass up a free lunch, I wandered downtown with the rest of the real estate crew.

I was determined to keep my order somewhat within reason, diet wise, since I am still determined to get skinny enough for a bathing suit. Ha, fat chance! Anyone who's been to the Cheesecake Factory knows that their menu is more of a short novel... pages and pages of an eclectic mix of the most delicious dishes you can imagine, and all at fairly reasonable prices. Ironically, every other page is plastered with advertising. Skinny, beautiful, perfect size 2 models in the hippest trendy clothing available. It’s like they’re trying to say, “This is what you will never look like if you order from this menu…”

Anyway, after much deliberation between the sandwich and pasta chapters of the menu, I settled on a warm meatloaf sandwich. “Warm slices of our housemade meatloaf, lettuce, tomato and mustard-mayonnaise. Served on grilled bread with cold slaw and fries.” YUM. I did, however, use some self-control and replace the fries with the soup of the day, which happened to be tomato basil, my favorite. I figured I didn’t really need the extra carbs.

My meal arrived as I was halfway through my first diet Coke. I knew I should have split my order with someone, but what’s the point when it’s a free lunch, right? But the mountains of food placed before me were simply unbelievable! A bowl heaped to overflowing with mounds of coleslaw was surrounded by four HUGE sections of what must have originally been the largest sandwich ever made. Seriously, this had to be a joke, this meal had to be meant for two people. At least an inch thick slab of homemade meatloaf was encased by slices of crispy white bread, oozing lettuce, tomato and sauce. As I sat there in disbelief wondering how I was even going to pick the thing up, let alone get my mouth around it, my soup arrived. Crap, I forgot I ordered that.

20 minutes later, I had managed to finish off one of the sandwich quarters, my soup, and most of the coleslaw. Not bad, if I do say so myself, and I was STUFFED! But of course the general consensus was that ordering dessert was a must, and I began to think how well a bite of cheesecake would top off my lunch. My eyes quickly skimmed past the 6 Carb Original Cheesecake and went straight for the Brownie Sundae Cheesecake. I am so weak. But hey, it’s the Cheesecake Factory, you have to try some, right? I really did only eat a few bites, since the piece was shared between about four people, so no real harm done.

Never one to waste leftovers, I gathered up my to go box and headed back to work. Now, here is the moral of the story: I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory yesterday. Then yesterday evening, I had another piece of my meatloaf sandwich for dinner (it was no longer warm, but still yummy). Today, I still had half of my sandwich left, so I ate another quarter for lunch (it was beginning to get a bit dry, but still tasted ok). And then this evening I ate the fourth and final slice of that sandwich for dinner (at this point I don’t want to eat meatloaf again for a long, long time).

Let’s do the math here: One item off the menu = four meals. HOW CAN THESE TYPES OF PORTIONS BE HEALTHY?!? It makes me gag to think that someone could have consumed this much food in a single sitting. Does this mean that a typical American is usually eating about four times the amount they should? If that’s true, no wonder we have an obesity problem in this country.

Ironically, as I was looking up information to write this blog, I found an article on MSNBC.com called "Cheesecake Factory is slimming down." Check it out here. The article states that the restaurant chain built its fortune on generous portions. No surprise there. However, the popular dining chain supposedly testing a menu in Los Angeles where customers will now be able to ask for smaller portions of a dozen popular dishes. But "don’t worry — you can still get full-sized portions if you prefer them." Figures. The smaller dishes do carry smaller price tags, which may make them more enticing, but I'm willing to bet that not many people head to the Cheesecake Factory so they can eat light.

Regardless, at least I got four free meals out of this experience, right?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Uniform Solution?


I don’t remember having to abide by any sort of dress code while I was in school. The only thing that seems remotely relevant was the craze and then the banning of slap bracelets, but I think that was because you could slit your wrist with them or something. And of course I was required to wear my cheerleading outfit about three days a week during high school, but that was fun!

This past Sunday I was talking to my mom about the dress code at her school. (She teaches sixth grade at a private Catholic school in Olympia). And yes, the kiddies are required to wear uniforms. But they’re not the cute Catholic schoolgirl uniforms that most men perpetually have wet dreams about. As my mom described these horrible outfits to me, I began to feel extremely sorry for these kids.

Their uniforms begin with khaki or navy blue pants – not too bad, you might think. But these aren’t the cute, straight-legged, low-rise pants you might expect 12-year-olds to wear. No, they’re those horrible, tapered, pleated pants that you can only find at uniform stores, or maybe in some out-of-date church clothes section at JC Penny. Yuck. To top off the pants, they have to wear blue or white polo shirts… but again, nothing cute. The polo shirts MUST be tucked in. This means that girls have to wear the big baggy polos meant for boys, not the cute, cropped, fitted ones often found at the GAP. Those, apparently, are “too tight.”

According to my mom, the only way to get away with not wearing the polo shirts is to wear a school sweatshirt – an OK alternative, but not really an option in the heat June when 30 kids are stuffed into a room without air conditioning. Apparently there are some other alternatives to the uniform, including skirts and jumpers, but these are only worn by younger girls, not the “too cool for school” sixth graders.

So… can you blame these kids in the slightest for trying to jazz up their uniforms a bit? Apparently school officials can, and they have implemented rules banning almost every kind of accessory imaginable. Earrings are allowed, but only small, post ones. Bracelets are allowed, but only one, and it can’t be too flashy. Necklaces are allowed, but only if they are religious in nature. Belts are allowed, but only if they are black or brown… don’t even try that pink and green one from Aeropostale. The only thing this army of matching religious icons has left is their shoes…

But apparently the new principal is going to implement a rule regarding footwear next year, and those brightly colored Converse sneakers will be grounds for detention. Man, these kids don’t have a chance in hell at developing any individuality!

Now I must admit, school uniforms do have their upside. They create a sense of unity, and allow students to concentrate on school more than social competition and style. And really, if you think about it, the concept of waking up every morning without having the pressure of picking out a suitably trendy outfit is kind of appealing.

But last night on the news I saw that one Seattle public school is going to ban flip flops next year! I think implementing any kind of dress code at a public school is ludicrous, but seriously, FLIP FLOPS?? And the reason the school official gave for outlawing this popular footwear was even more ridiculous, something to the effect of, “We need to use high school to prepare students for the professionalism of the real world, and this sloppy way of dressing is not adequate preparation.” WTF?!?

It’s one thing for a private, Catholic school to have a uniform requirement in place, because parents make a choice and pay good money to have their children attend class in this type of environment. But I think implementing a dress code at a public school, especially as ridiculous as banning flip flops, is completely out of line. All this does is focus student attention on thinking up ways to break the dress code, when they should instead be concentrating on preparing for college.

I could even be on board with the banning of shirts that show belly buttons, and skirts that fall above the fingertips, because let’s face it, having 16-year-old girls dressed as prostitutes isn’t going to enhance anyone’s learning. And baggy clothes… sure, ban away. I saw this thing on the internet where a kid pulled about 12 different guns and knives out of his extremely baggy pants. But flip flops? Can someone please explain to me what harm these brightly colored rubber things cause?

It really is amazing what school officials are trying to control these days. What’s funny is that we wore the same stuff when we were kids… just a different style. Weren’t “Hammer pants” just as baggy? And weren’t the Kelly Kapowski-style off the shoulder shirts just as provocative?

In my opinion, different styles will come and go, but banning students from expressing their individuality is never a good thing. And forbidding them from keeping their toes cool is just plain mean. And stupid.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Daytime Drinking = Fabulous!

Anyone who lives in the fabulous city of Seattle has to admit basking in the gorgeous summer sunshine for three months totally makes up for the dreary, gray, rainy months during the rest of the year. The patio bars, outdoor restaurants, parks and concerts provide more than enough entertainment to fill one’s schedule each day from May to October.

But without a doubt, Seattle’s summer festivals make life in the Pacific Northwest all worthwhile. I attended one of my favorites this past weekend: Fremont Summer Solstice Festival, or the Fremont Fair.

I set my alarm Friday night for 9 a.m. in anticipation of the next morning’s parade in the funky Fremont neighborhood. Upon waking, I spent the next 15 minutes gazing dejectedly out my window at the rolling black clouds that threatened to ruin what I had considered to be the first day of summer. I glared at the sky, daring the raindrops to fall, before sighing and heading for the shower. My friend arrived at 10 a.m., coffee and rain jacket in hand. Too stubborn to admit defeat yet, I just grabbed a light hooded sweatshirt and we headed out.

One $14 cab ride later and we arrived in Fremont, which was already crawling with people who had come to watch the parade. The air was muggy and oppressive, and I kept glancing nervously up at the sky, convinced it was going to pour at any second. We pushed our way up the road to our destination, and stood around people watching until two of our friends rolled up on their bikes.

Ignoring the fact that it was not quite 11 a.m., we decided that the only way to start the day off right was with some $1.99 white zinfandel from 7-Eleven. Classy, I know. But not quite as glamorous as how we cleverly hid our booze in paper bags while we drank it. But not to worry, no one noticed, because the parade was beginning!

Have you ever passed a car accident and you don’t want to look, but it’s like once you glance over, your stare is locked and you can’t look away? That was how the beginning of the Solstice Parade was for me, as probably a hundred butt naked, body painted men and women rode by on their decorated bicycles. I’ve never seen such a display of confidence in my life! I started giggling hysterically as I cracked open my second mini wine bottle, and as the sun began streaming down, I knew I was in for a fabulous day.

After the parade, I wolfed down half a chicken Caesar pita to stop the sloshing of coffee and cheap wine in my stomach, and we sat down to re-evaluate. The consensus was clear: We needed more alcohol. Two of my friends jumped on their bikes and headed for the nearest liquor store, while another friend and I headed back to 7-Eleven for slurpees, the perfect summertime treat. Especially when the shaved ice is mostly melted down with vodka.

We wandered down toward the festivities and sat by the water for a while, just enjoying the sun, giddy with the feeling of being drunk in the middle of the afternoon, outside, underneath the sun’s glorious rays. Finished with the slurpees, we somehow obtained icy lemonades and dumped in the rest of the vodka. We spent some time at the main stage, and then found yet another grassy knoll to relax on, underneath the trees, since the sun was really starting to bake. Rapidly starting to become sleepy, we pulled one another up off the grass, brushed ourselves off, and headed for the beer garden. A few beers later, and our drunken attention spans couldn’t take much more – we decided to go for another walk.

Our destination? Where else but back to 7-Eleven for more booze! I grabbed another white zin, but this time had a fabulous idea: If VODKA tastes good in a sour watermelon slurpee, wouldn’t anything? Eh, I was too buzzed to notice, so I mixed them together anyway. It was good… I think.

Now, there was only one possible conclusion to this day filled with friends, sunshine and alcohol… BEER MUNCHIES!! Feeling a sugar headache coming on, we headed to the only place we know that is almost guaranteed to head off a hangover… Dick’s. Two greasy burgers and two orders of fries later, we gulped down ice water and headed home, a little sunburned, but really no worse for wear.

My only thought as I threw myself down on the couch… “I can’t wait for next weekend!”

See you at Pride...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

If You Can't Take the Heat...


At 2 a.m. on any given night in Seattle, one can expect to see dozens of drinkers spill from bars and nightclubs onto the street. They stagger, yell, stumble and screech their way home, making quite a ruckus.

I myself am personally acquainted with this phenomenon, since I live right on Queen Anne Avenue, with my bedroom window conveniently facing the street. Quite often I am awoken at 2:15 a.m. – And my only reaction?? “YES… I still have 5 hours of sleep left before I have to get up and go to work…”

But when reading the Seattle Post-Intelligencer yesterday, I found that many other residents are not so nonchalant about these late night bar hoppers bound for their beds. And apparently, the city is seeking a balance to keep the drinkers, bars and residents happy. Check it out here.

According to the article, neighborhood residents are “ticked off,” saying that what happens after last call is even more irritating that the noise pumping out of bars and clubs when they’re open. Well… yeah. I totally agree. When people (including me) leave the bars, they are completely obnoxious and oblivious to other people’s property. They dance, sing, yell, fall over, and even occasionally vomit (or pee) on the sidewalk. (Man, I’m loving my 20’s!)

As quoted from the P-I: “They’re out having a good time and they have no respect for the residents… Consequently, they think it’s great fun to rip up the landscape and destroy things.”

Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that we ENJOY destroying things, we just don’t know any better at the time… And we’re having too much fun!

Regardless, here’s my point: If a person is bothered by noise, they wouldn’t choose to buy a house underneath a freeway overpass, or near a train crossing, correct? Similarly, why would someone on the hunt for peace and quiet buy a home near a bar in downtown Seattle? Do they really expect silence in the middle of the night, in the middle of urban paradise? Move to the suburbs if that’s the kind of lifestyle you want!

But Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wants to find peace between bars and the people who live near them. Under a new proposal, the city would create a nightlife license, under which bars would agree to a series of “good neighbor” conditions regarding residents. I have to agree with Pete Hanning, owner of the Red Door in Fremont, who says that what happens away from the bars is not the owners’ problem.

The only good idea brought up in the P-I’s article was this: Eliminating the 2 a.m. cutoff on selling alcohol, which would help avoid binge drinking, and dumping bar patrons onto the streets all at once. This sounds like a great idea to me, since I am often with friends who cram five or six shots down their throats at 1:45, just to polish of the night right. Somehow I doubt the city will go for this though.

Frankly, the entire article kind of annoyed me. I can’t believe people would be so na├»ve to move into a neighborhood filled with bars and expect not to hear the boozers on their way home. This seems like an “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen” situation to me.

If people can’t enjoy and appreciate the vivacious nightlife that Seattle has to offer, then move your white picket fence, 2.5 kids and your Volvo to Suburbia, pronto.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oops...

In today’s world of rapidly developing technology, the concept of communication has begun to go hand in hand with instant gratification. And that’s not always a good thing.

People used to hand write letters to one another. And a telephone call used to require an operator with a switchboard to connect the call. Or so I’ve been told. When I was younger, I always made sure never to leave the house without a quarter tucked into my pocket. Back when it only cost 25 cents to use a pay phone and call daddy for a ride home. Way back when it wasn’t at all odd to get a busy signal, because no one had heard of call waiting, or caller ID. When voicemail hadn’t been heard of yet, and we went home anxious to see that little red light on the answering machine blinking, only to find out that the damn thing had eaten the tape again.

But today, everyone on the planet has a cell phone, tiny little connections to anyone, anywhere, only a speed dial away. And now that we’re used to this new world, we can’t imagine functioning any other way. Many people don’t even both to hook up their regular home phones anymore, and why should they, when cell phones get service everywhere? And really, we don’t even need to call each other anymore, with the development of a new feature: text messaging.

Most of the time cell phones are great, and I’ve had some of my most intense panic attacks when I’ve potentially lost mine. But I’ve come to a very solid conclusion – Cell phones and alcohol DO NOT mix.

I may have had a bit too much to drink Friday night. In fact, I think it’s a certainty. Not that it’s a bad thing… I had a fabulous evening with two fabulous girls, but at the end of the night, it wasn’t enough. I needed more socializing. And with the modern world of technology right at my fingertips, I yanked my cell out of my purse. And proceeded to systematically call every single person in my phone book. Not so fabulous.

Waking up the next morning at Sarah’s apartment, I could vaguely recollect making some calls the night before. Conveniently, cell phones store these types of records, so I flipped open my phone to inspect the damage. The calls: not too bad. Several conversations a few minutes long with good friends, very forgivable. At worst, they probably only lost a few minutes of beauty sleep.

Then I checked my text messages. And my heart sank. My head started to pound. And not because of the hangover that was rapidly surfacing. I had sent the most embarrassing, humiliating, mortifying text message of all time. To someone that I really care about. And I couldn’t take it back. The little black check mark signifying “DELIVERED” stared mockingly up at me. Fuck.

Before I moved out, my parents always told me that it was inappropriate and rude to call someone’s home after 9 p.m. Maybe I should have listened to them… There should be some sort of law against drinking and dialing. Because like drinking and driving, it’s never a good idea, and someone always gets hurt.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Anybody Else Frustrated?


Dude, what the heck has been up with Blogger.com lately? Every singe time I try to log on it gives me an error message, and it's been happening for about a week now!

It's really been stressing me out, since Blogger is my new replacement obsession for MySpace.

I swear if I see "Temporarily Down For Maintenance" pop up on my screen one more time, I am going to throw my mouse at the monitor. I have very little patience when it comes to malfunctioning technology.

Imagine how frustrating it is to have your one guilty pleasure at the office taken away. I've got nothing left, since the Best of Craigslist is updated so rarely now. And my horoscope takes just a second to check.

Doesn't Blogger have any tech support people? Maybe they should hire Tom...

Or maybe I should just get back to work.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pulling My Hair Out


I think I am on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. Seriously.

Think about your busiest day of work. I’m talking the craziest day of the whole year. Now imagine that you are living that day over and over and over again. For more than two weeks. This has become my life.

Yes, I work in real estate advertising, and I know that this is the “busy season,” but this is getting ridiculous. The distribution of work in my department is absolute crap. Three other people in my department have my exact same job, yet I am doing more than 50% of the workload. Leaving a mere 16.5% for each of them to do!! Does this seem fair?

To try to explain the magnitude of how busy I have been lately, here’s a fun fact: It’s only June 7, and I have already made 99.98% of my goal for the month! I should be happy about this, but I’m afraid that it’s only going to get worse… and I can’t take it anymore!!

Today I actually yelled at my sales rep. In front of people. Who stared. It was really embarrassing. I’m pretty sure I used profanity. Whoops. But I’m generally a reasonably calm, level-headed person. How stressed must I have been to be pushed to such desperate measures?

And the most annoying part of all is that I do not get paid any more than the other slackers surfing the internet down the row from me. Nor do they ever offer any help. And today, on deadline, under pressure, swamped with papers, with my rep breathing down my neck, I flipped out. I need a mental health day.

Technically, mental health is a concept that refers to an individual’s emotional and psychological well-being. In good mental health, a person should be able to function in society and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life. Yes, I admit I’m still functioning, but I’m on the verge of going over the edge.

Do you think my boss would actually go for it if I called in mentally ill? I guess it would probably be smarter to just call in sick.

But here comes the irony… Calling in sick to work would only make me more stressed out. I would spend the entire day thinking about what I should be doing at work, and the mess I would inevitably have to clean up upon my return. It’s just not worth it.

Maybe I will just take up drinking on my lunch hour.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fake & Bake


I hate being ripped off. Almost as much as I hate feeling pressured.

Here’s the story…

So, a few weeks ago I came up with the brilliant idea that one of the reasons I am so depressed about my body is because I am so pale. Really, I look one of those people who live in some remote corner of the world where the sun only comes out for four hours each day and the temperature never reaches above 7 degrees Fahrenheit. Someone at work the other day even laughed at how pale my feet looked in my new sandals. Sad.

Anyway, Desert Sun Tanning Salon recently opened in Upper Queen Anne. I’m sure every resident of Seattle is aware, because the company has been shamelessly mailing out coupons and fliers for about three months. So since the tanning bed at my gym is kinda skanky, and because Desert Sun is only a block from my house, I decided to check it out.

Wow. Walking into this place is AMAZING! It’s so clean and bright! And it smells like a tropical beach! Nothing like some of the gross tanning places I have been to over the years. But I immediately cringed as I looked at the five 100-pound girls clustered, giggling, around the counter. Fabulous. Their bleached teeth and hair flashed at me as they all screeched, “Hello, welcome to Desert Sun!!” in perfect unison. You’re got to be kidding me. Gag.

However, I let one of the bronzed bombshells take me on a tour of the salon, and I have to admit it was pretty impressive. I began to express interest in some of the products. BIG mistake. Once I got back up to the front to sign up for a package, Little Miss Fake ‘n’ Bake really went for the jugular. She started by offering me a package that was over $300!! For five tans! You’ve got to be effing kidding me! I don’t give a shit what this so-called tanning expert says, I DO NOT believe that just three times in a special tanning bed will make me look like I’ve spent a month in the Caribbean.

Man this girl was tough though. She went on and on about the benefits of the different beds, but I wasn’t going to be sucked in. I ended up buying 30 “conventional” tans for about $55 – not a bad deal, really. And I can use them over any period of time that I want, instead of cramming them all into one month and speeding up my inevitable skin cancer by a few years. Then she busted out the tanning lotions. She would have had me sold too, had they been at any sort of reasonable price. But $60 for a medium-sized bottle of lotion?! What sort of insane person would pay for that?! Not me. Wow. Tanning Girl’s attitude really changed when not only did I not buy her incredibly expensive deluxe tanning package, but turned down her specialty lotion as well. Her smile disappeared as she tapped my order into the computer with her acrylic nails in obvious annoyance. God, I wonder how much commission these girls get paid…

Now, not only was I semi-annoyed with these pushy fake bitches in the first place, but at this point I am thoroughly enraged. Last weekend I walked up to Desert Sun in the middle of the afternoon. The place was virtually empty, with only one customer at the counter. Considering they have about 20 beds, I figured it would be no problem to get in. Nope. Apparently, “no conventional beds were open at that time,” but of course, girl at counter would be HAPPY to upgrade me to a specialty bed for only $22! I began to catch on. But not wanting to judge too quickly, I politely said no, that I would come back at another time and just use the tans that I had already paid for. Wow. That perky little smile turned into a sneer quicker than I could imagine. Whatever.

Tonight after work I braved the Desert again. And again – empty lobby, but “no conventional beds were open,” was the report, along with a huge fake smile and offer of an upgrade. But when I requested an appointment for the following evening to ensure that I could finally get in and utilize what I paid for, boy did those shining rays turn to burning daggers quickly. With an annoyed sigh and a flip of her hair, Blondie wrote down my name and turned away. Apparently, I no longer deserved the signature sing-song, “Have a nice day!!”

God I’m irritated. I think I have every right to take advantage of what I paid for, without being made to feel guilty. Trying to tan at Desert Sun is worse than trying to shop at a store where the employees get paid straight commission. I hate pressure, and these fake and bake chicks have been trained to lay it on, let me tell you. So if you get one of those “$9.99 Unlimited Tans For One Month” coupons in the mail, use it, by all means. It’s a great deal. But just be prepared for the Fake ‘n’ Bake Robots. They’ll either wear you down to the point of maxing out your credit card or else make you feel like a cheap bastard. Seriously.

You’re been fairly warned.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

MySpace is Evil

Yes, I am one of those guilty people who has been sucked into the black hole that is MySpace. What can I say? I work a desk job and need something to occupy myself every day. The site claims to be “a place for friends,” and for the most part, it is. It’s been a really great way for me to get back in contact with people I don’t see very often, and I like staying up to date on their lives.

I use MySpace mostly to keep in touch with old friends from high school and college who I don’t get to see very often. And I use my own page so they can stay updated on my life as well. I like posting pictures so they can see how and what I’ve been doing, and I write blogs to let them know what I’ve been up to. Not to mention the exchange of many comments and messages across the web. It’s fantastic.

My “MySpace friends” list is quite short. I only communicate with people that I know from the real world, and I have my page set as private so that no one can view it unless they contact me first. I don’t use the internet to meet new people: no offense to those that do, but I find that creepy and desperate.

However, I am guilty of being sucked in deeper than necessary. I troll other people’s pages occasionally. Why I do this, I can’t explain. Pure morbid curiosity, I guess. I check up on girls who are no longer my friends to see what direction their lives have taken. I check up on the "popular" kids from high school to see how they turned out. I check out the private lives of the people I work with. It’s horrible.

But by far my worst sin: I look for my ex boyfriends. Why I do this, I will never understand. Because I am SO over both of these guys, yet I still can’t help being curious how their lives are turning out. I can’t stop myself; it’s like an addiction. A few months ago, I found some pictures of my first boyfriend from when I was in college. They were on his little sister’s page. They were of his wedding. And even though this guy cheated on me, lied to me, and broke my heart, and even though I’ve been over him for years, I still felt like I was going to vomit as I looked at the beautiful pictures of him and his gorgeous bride. Why do I do this to myself?

Today I made the mistake of going to an old friend’s page to see what she’s been up to. Let’s just say the two of us were friends in college because our boyfriends were friends. She’s still with her boyfriend. I, however, am not. Hence, the dissolving of the friendship. But not to worry. Today I found that I have been replaced. My ex has found a new girlfriend. And even though I already knew he was dating someone else, finding her page on MySpace just made the facts that much more vivid.

I am over my ex. I had been for months before we even broke up more than a year ago. But this afternoon when I came across his new girlfriend’s page, loaded with happy pictures of the two of them together, my heart dropped and I felt bile rise up in my throat. I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t stop scrolling. I knew the smartest thing to do would be to slam shut my laptop, but my hands wouldn’t obey my mind. My eyes filled with tears and my breath quickened until I felt I was going to pass out.

Sarah. Put. Down. The. Mouse.

So yes folks, once again I am pretty depressed. I’m depressed because even though I don’t want to be with either of these men, I feel cheated that they were able to find happiness before me. I feel like I am the girl that men break up with and then go and find someone better, someone who is actually worth their love. I know that all my feelings are irrational, but I can’t help it. I can’t figure out why everyone else has been able to move on and find happiness, and here I sit. Alone on a Saturday night, writing this blog.

MySpace is evil.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Red Tent


I don’t just read books. I become obsessed with them. I finished reading my most recent fixation when I got home from work tonight, unable to let go until the last page was turned. This one was GREAT, I highly recommend it.

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant, retells the story of Dinah, which is found in the Bible’s book of Genesis, Chapter 34. It is most commonly known as the “Rape of Dinah.” In Genesis, Dinah does not say a single word; what happens to her is recounted and characterized as rape by her brothers. But in Diamant’s fictional tale, Dinah finds her voice. The Red Tent is told entirely from her perspective, and the women around her.

I don’t know how I have only now discovered this book, because it was first published in 1997 and my mother has been claiming it as her favorite for at least a couple years. I’m usually not a huge fan of historical fiction, but will definitely file this one away in my “favorites” category.

I’ve always found the roles (or absence) of women in the Bible very fascinating. Considering my intense Catholic upbringing and being named after one of the most important women in the bible, these tales of ancient holy life have continued to hold my interest. My constant struggle with faith is fed by the morbid curiosity of, “How much of it is true?” And so I read, and it’s been rare that a biblical tale has held me so captive.

The Red Tent is fiction, but the novel still reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood – a story that, sadly, has been left out of the Bible’s fantastic tales. I was fascinated to read about the imagined lives of Dinah’s mothers; Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilah, who were sisters and the four wives of Jacob. Polygamy is obviously no longer an accepted practice, but in ancient times, it was quite common. And according to this story, the wives were often quite close with one another – working together to take care of the large extended family, cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing – all the while trying to become pregnant as often as possible to birth many sons. Yuck.

Dinah’s personal story of this remarkable period of early history created a connection to this secret world of women I never imagined. The book clearly illustrates how ignored, used, and betrayed these women were, but also how valued and special. Dinah’s life changes and goes through so many phases over the course of the novel – she experiences her first love, the murder of her lover, the betrayal of her father and brothers, the birth of her son, the loss of her son, the depths of despair, and finally the ability to find love again. I have a deeper respect for the important place of women in society after reading Dinah’s untold story.

I particularly liked a review of this novel by The Boston Globe: “The Red Tent is what the Bible would be like if it had been written by women.”

Interesting thought.

OK, I’m ready for a new obsession. Any suggestions?