Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Jim-Jam Day

After a riveting episode of America's Next Top Model, wherein Tyra taught us all how to pose for the camera so as not to appear so short and hippy (it's like she was speaking just to me), Katie and I ended up watching a fascinating program on PBS about Bhutan. I don't know what that says about us, being able to go from Tyra to Bhutan in 3 minutes, but I like it.

Bhutan prides itself on having the happiest people in the world. Seriously. They take surveys and everything to measure their Gross National Happiness. Cute, huh? They chalked it up to clean living, fresh mountain air, hard work, a stable government and economy, Buddism, national and cultural pride, strong families, and centuries of isolation in the Himalayas. All that may have contributed, but I think their real happiness came from something else. Here's the standard Bhutanese day wear:

I can tell you for sure that if I got to wear my bathrobe everyday, I'd be pretty happy too.

Don't you think we should institute a weekly jim-jam day? I think it would do wonders for the National Funk we're in right now. We would all still have to go to work and live our lives, but we could do it in our jammies, without anyone judging us.

I should admit right now that I do judge people who go out in the PJs or lounge wear. Remember a few years ago when wearing lounge wear out to the grocery store was all the rage? People would show up in the produce aisle wearing plushy track suits, and it would infuriate me because when did it become acceptable to walk around looking like you just rolled out of bed? Have some dignity people! It's one thing to put on a pair of jeans and a hoodie and throw your hair back in a pony tail, but at least you look like you've made an effort. So I'm against such loose standards.

But, if it were, say, National Jim-Jam Tuesday and everyone could wear their over-sized flannel pants and an old t-shirt and scuzzy slippers they can't bare to part with, all in the name of Freedom and Democracy and the American Dream, well, that I could get behind.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Music on the Brain

It's a little interesting to me that I have music on the brain since I opted out of listening to any this morning at the gym (Pain update: Abs and arms have apologized for their bad attitudes. Hamstrings are still angry*.) I always listen to music when I work out. But for some reason I didn't want any today. Guess what I listened to instead. My incredibly loud breathing. Knights of Columbus, I'm a loud breather when I work out.

But I do have music on the brain. And here's how it came about: I recently read a comment on an old post on my other blog that Courtney left**, which made me remember that once upon a time I asked for music recommendations and Courtney recommended Andrew Bird to me, particularly one song, wherein we learn that there will be snacks at the end of the world, that has since become one of my favorite songs. I seriously love this song. But as much as I love it I often wonder if it would make it to my Top 10.

I wondered it this morning as I was listening to a song that would make it on my Top 10***, if one actually existed, because I don't have a Top 10. I can't pin down songs like that. I guess I have a short list for the Top 10. It has about 50 songs on it. I suppose I could just call it my Top 50 but then how do you even determine what goes in the 20s and what goes in the 40s?

So I don't have a Top 10, or a Top 50. But I know what belongs there when I hear it. It's generally a song that has been with me for a few years. One that doesn't get skipped when it comes up on the shuffle because you can listen to it in any mood.

Because we're friends, and I'm curious like a cat, I think you should tell me one song that would be in your Top 10.

*Does anyone know how to combat this? I always stretch before and after working out but my hamstrings are always sore the next day. No matter what exercises I do.

**Dear Courtney, This is me responding to you. I don't know how to do the clapping on "Underdog" and it kills me every time because I know in my heart that I will instantly be 10% cooler if I could just get it down. I am now dedicating my life to learning it and promise to share it with you as soon as I crack the code. Love, Rachel

PS. I'm sure you've heard this already but I think it needs to be publicly declared that yours was officially the Funnest Reception I Have Ever Been to in My Whole Life, Hands-Down.
***"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" by Paul Simon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've been trying to think of a good metaphor for how sore I am today. One does not exist. I will tell you though that I painted red curbs for a few hours on Saturday which has caused my hamstrings to stage a revolt. They will no longer let me sit, stand or walk. And yesterday at the gym I worked my abs, which from the looks of things don't actually exist on me, but let me tell you, they do. You can't see them but if you listen closely you can hear them screaming. I'm pretty sure they have pitchforks. And last night at nunchucks we had to practice our blocking. We do blocking every week but it's just the motions. This time we actually had to block foam sticks coming at our face. Guess what happens when you block a foam stick about 100 times. Your arms fall off. I'm typing this with my nose, which is the only part of my body still working.

I am 80.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

They should just call it manure.

Let's say you're an intrepid first-time gardener and on a whim you decide to plant some squash seeds in a little pot to see what would happen. As squash seeds often do, they sprouted and grew and got too big for the pot so you replant them in a much bigger pot, one that has space down at the bottom that you can fill with water so that the roots have a constant supply. This particular feature wasn't as much of selling point for you as the nice shade of green. You really don't know what you're doing and are easily wooed by pretty things. But you water your squash plant and say nice things to it and you constantly move it around your wee balcony to get the maximum amount of sunlight on it and every day you check the water level to make sure it's not dying of thirst and you notice that the water level is not going down. You're squash is refusing to drink! But you know that a squash is a squash and squash, by their vary nature, are big time water drinkers. They don't worry about water retention or having to pee all the time. So you start inspecting. Everything looks normal. But you notice a distinct smell. A smell from your youth growing up in a dairy community. That is to say, the smell of cow poo. And you remember that smell from when you bought your potting soil and pretty green pot but at the time you thought that it just meant that it was full of lovely nutrients that would help your squash grow nice and plump. But now you're wondering if it really was potting soil you planted your first squash plant in. So you check the bag and realize that it is not, in fact, potting soil, but rather garden soil. As in soil you put on top of the existing dirt in your garden. Which, you realize, is just a pleasant way of saying manure.

So, if you were this gardener, what would you do? Would you:

a.) Leave the plant where it is and call it a science experiment to see how well squash grows in manure.
b.) Replant it in actual soil, even though the plant is getting really large and you're afraid that it won't handle the move very well.
c.) Chuck the whole thing and buy squash at the market. Who were you kidding, anyways?
d.) Hope that one of your super smart friends is a squash whisperer and will know what to do and will comment on your blog with reassuring words and helpful advice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


"Hey, what's that over there?"

Oh, that? That's just my nunchuck certificate of promotion.

Take THAT 9th kyu! We took you DOWN TO CHINA TOWN! (Visualize me now doing a fist pump and a high kick.)(Why would you be laughing at that? Is it because my legs are 2 inches tall?)

Liz, Katie, Heather, and I all promoted last night and it was pretty awesome. We got to class and the first thing Sensei said to us was, "You know what's really good for you? Stress. YOU'RE TESTING RIGHT NOW!" Eek! Nerves! And on our first official night with wooden nunchucks even! So Sensei Sam took us aside and made us go through the 9th kyu moves individually. We've been practicing these moves for a month now and when I'm doing them down in the parking lot of Las Brisas I'm a pro nunchucker. But try doing them in front of Sensei Sam when a certificate is at stake. And a belt!

But we were great. At the end of the class we all lined up and Sensei gave us each certificates and we get our first belt next week. We actually can't wear it until we have our gi and we've all agreed to not get a gi until after we get our yellow belt (Which is next. Right now we're white belts with yellow stripes (which is really just yellow electrical tape (fancy))) but you know I will be sporting it around the house. Possibly to church. The good folks at Stater Bros. will definitely be seeing it.

When I started the class I had no idea how fun this would be. I knew that by it's very nature it would be hilarious, but learning all these new skills is really cool. After we tested, the class had a challenge, where two people would get up and perform the same move to see who could do it best. We got to see some of the higher belt moves and they are really impressive. And along with being amazed by them I thought, "I really want to do that!" Because it looks awesome and fun. And would be really impressive at a ward talent show. It's been a dream of mine to have a talent show talent. And now I have one and a certificate to prove it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My arms are tingling

I'm feeling weird today. Not sick, just weird. Kind of jittery and sleepy at the same time. And my arms are tingling. Does this mean I'm dying?

Possible reasons for this are:

1.) I donated blood on Saturday and it always takes me a while to get over it.
2.) I had a pretty bad headache all day yesterday that has dulled but is still hanging around like that last person at a party you're throwing who won't leave, even after everyone else has gone home and you're doing the dishes and yawning and mentioning how tired you are and you just can't wait to get into bed. Dear Headache, It is time to go home. Love, Rachel.
3.) I got approximately 2 minutes of sleep last night.
4.) I didn't work out this morning and my body knows that it's suppose to work out on Monday morning and is now all, "I'll make you feel weird until you get up and move." Dear Body, Back off! I got 2 minutes of sleep, alright? Love, Rachel.
5.) I went cold turkey on my Easter candy and now my body is all, "But I need the chocolate. Gimme, gimme!"
6.) It's hot today. And it was hot yesterday. And spring was just so nice and pleasant and now we've entered into 6 months of summer and I'm just not prepared for it.
7.) Zac Efron.

I've put a poll up. Let me know if I'm dying or not.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I didn't brush my teeth. I'm sorry.

Dear World,

I forgot to brush my teeth this morning. And not just once, but twice. I forgot before I went to the gym. And then I forgot before leaving for the day. I am so sorry. I don't know what my problem is.

Well, actually I do. When I leave for the gym it is still the middle of the night. A girl cannot be expected to remember to brush 100% of the time when she should still be in her jim-jams but is instead trying to stay awake long enough to tie her shoes. The ladies at the gym are already accustomed to seeming my puffy, blotchy pillow face and hear my morning-man-voice. I'm sure that they just expect my breath to stink too. So, forgetting to brush my teeth before going to the gym is not such a big deal. And, I'll admit, it has happened before. But I never forget to brush my teeth before going to work. It's part of my routine. And that's where the problem is. I did things out of order this morning. My order is gym, breakfast, shower, scriptures, hair/make-up/brush teeth. But this morning I did gym, shower, scriptures, hair/make-up, breakfast with the intention of brushing my teeth after I ate, only I was late to the breakfast part and had to turn my peanut butter and jam on toast into a toasted peanut butter and jam sandwich and rush out the door. Without brushing my teeth. Drat.

Can we still be friends?

Hugs and Kisses, Rachel

PS. I generally don't talk to people when I'm working out (I would like to call it "intense focus" but really it's just "intense early morning brain not being able to form sentences") but this morning the Cat Woman and I were the only ones in the weight room and we started chatting and it came out that she was an elementary school teacher. Gasp! She always struck me as a Woman of Elegant Leisure. Only a WofEL would own that much leopard print. And now I'm trying to visualize her in the classroom and all I can see are 30 terrified 9 year olds, their eyes fixed on her over-collagened lips and spidery eyelashes and her insta-facelift from her bun being pulled back so tightly as she talks about their upcoming field trip to the San Gabriel Mission.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I haven't had any Peeps this year. And I didn't miss them in my Easter basket. In fact, I didn't even register that there weren't any in there. What with all the chocolate. I tend to not notice things when there's lots of chocolate around. And, truth be told, they're not that high on my list of All-Time Favorite Easter Candies Ever. But now I'm suddenly struck with the fact that Peeps won't be around for whole year and I haven't had even one and I'm kind of regretting not eating one when given the opportunity to at nunchucks class a few weeks ago. We were using them as target practice. Number 1 best thing about nunchucks class: you get to hit things.

Now, I'm sure I could find Peeps. There has to be some left over somewhere. But 1.) I don't really have it in me to search and 2.) I have more sugar in my house than the Wonka Factory and I certainly can't justify bringing any more in when I'm already contemplating throwing what I have out.

So I propose a swap. If you have any Peeps left I will trade you my last remaining Cadbury Creme Egg for it. Or a handful of jellybeans, the Starburst variety. And there are other assorted chocolates for you to choose from if those options don't tickle you. They are yours for the taking.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wagon Wheels and Horse Droppings

When you are 7 your neighborhood is your world. You know what your neighborhood looks like and any other place is just weird. You know the route to your school and to church and to the grocery store. Sometimes your mom would take a different route home and it would blow your mind because how did she know that you could go that way?! Until the age of 9 we lived in Pomona, just down the hill from the Wonderbread factory. (This just means that I frequently walked out the door to the smell of freshly baked bread. It was a bit of a let down when we moved to Chino and walked out the door to the smell of freshly baked manure.) Downtown Pomona had brick buildings and wide streets and felt kind of urban (Did you know I learned how to swim at that old YMCA on Garey? I use to imagine I was on Sesame Street because the steps leading up to the building looked exactly like the steps next to Oscar's trashcan.)(Suddenly this is turning into a very nostalgic post. This would be a good time to actually get to my point.)
So, Pomona - urban. San Dimas - not so urban. We had some family friends who lived in San Dimas. They had a pool, which instantly made them People to Worship and Esteem. In the summer time my mom would drive us into San Dimas, which, as a 7 year old, was super far away. In reality, it was like 10 minutes away but we had to take a freeway to get there and freeways=super far away. We would get off the freeway and it would feel like we had been transported back to the Old West. Because San Dimas holds fast to the Old West theme. It is a city of horses. There are equestrian centers and large animal veterinary clinics everywhere. And all the store fronts look like they should be saloons or general stores, not yogurt shops. If a new route home blew my mind as a kid, imagine what a city straight out of Bonanza did to me.
Little did I know that many years later I would be working in San Dimas. And the more I drive around here the more I realize just how true to that Old West Theme the city is. Even new buildings going up have wood slat fronts. They seem to go to great lengths to make you want to put on your bonnet and hop in the buggy. So I wasn't exactly surprised yesterday as I was pulling out of the parking lot to find the LARGEST PILE OF HORSE POO EVER right in the middle of the drive way. I mean, it was a Mountain of Poo. I actually had to back up and go through another exit just to avoid it. When I came in to work this morning I could see that other cars had not been so fortunate in spotting it.
So I have to hand it to the city of San Dimas. You folks really not how to keep it real.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This is a follow-up to the previous post:

1.) For Sam & Holly: The name of the restaurant Something Or Other. It is just south of Arrow on Fairplex (although Google Maps calls is Ganesha. It is not. The street sign said Fairplex.)(Maybe this is Pomona. It makes sense. All good Mexican food is in Pomona.) It is nestled between the University of LaVerne, the fair grounds and Brackett Field. I will also recommend another favorite that Chiquita has got me hooked on. Los Jarritos, also in Pomona. It's on Garey just south of Foothill in a little shopping center by the Islamic school.

2.) A gentleman by the name of Bob left the following comment:
I suspect the folks listed on this web page don't think the American Restroom
Association is silly
You MUST follow this link. And DO NOT laugh at it. Nor when you read the term "spastic colon". Nor when you see the pictures of the his and her restroom signs. Because it is NOT FUNNY AT ALL. I can imagine that it is a really horrible problem to fear your bladder is going to explode (name the movie) every time you go out of the house because there may not be a bathroom where you are going. And I really shouldn't make fun of this because I'm 80 and incontinence is just around the corner.

3.) If I had $80,000 and a year I would consider paying off my student loans for about a second and then I would pack up my ruck sack and kiss the folks good-bye and head off to far-flung places of the world like Patagonia and Zanzibar and Kathmandu. I would talk to the locals and eat their cuisine and learn how to say, "Where's the bathroom," in every language. And I would blog about it. Wouldn't you love to read blog posts about my adventures in India? I am currently accepting donations for the Rachel Travels the World Fund. I promise to send postcards.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This and That

1.) Chiquita took me out to lunch today to celebrate my 3 month anniversary. (I will personally be celebrating by getting health insurance with my benefits stipend. Oh, and passing out business cards. Being a grown up is amazingly fun.) She said that we could go anywhere but since we both love a good taco I suggested we go to one of our favorite Mexican dives. And now I'm in a Mexican food induced coma. I have tissue at the ready in case I start drooling on the key board.

Why is it that the best Mexican food is always in the seedier part of town? We went to this little place tucked behind the hot rod track at the fair grounds. It was technically La Verne but I'm pretty sure La Verne would cede it to Pomona if they asked nicely and offered a cookie. I felt slightly conspicuous getting out of Chiquita's Mercedes and I clutched my handbag to my chest like the true 80 year I am. But it's clean and I wanted to marry my enchilada, so it gets 5 stars from me.

2.) There was an article in the New York Times this morning about the need for bathroom stalls for women at sporting arenas and theaters. In the article was the following sentence: "Groups including the American Restroom Association and the World Toilet Organization view quick access to clean public toilets as no laughing matter." It is no laughing matter indeed. But I'm pretty sure that the American Restroom Association and the World Toilet Organization technically are laughing matters. I know because I couldn't stop giggling over them. Where can I sign up?

3.) In other news, in order to cut costs without laying off, a corporate law firm in New York offered their associates the chance to take a year off at a third of their pay, which, for most associates, comes out to about $80,000. They can do whatever they want. They just come back after a year. They were shocked when so many of the associates took them up on the offer.

What would you do with $80,000 and a year?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Husband AND a Rice Cooker

I was going to write a whole Manifesto on Bridal Showers and how sometimes I don't like them and the reason why is because I don't like playing all those games - they are usually awkward - and then when the games are done we all spend a substantial amount of time watching someone else open presents. But then it started to sound like sour grapes - you know, bitter 30 year old spinster kind of stuff. And the truth is that I am genuinely thrilled for anyone who gets married. It is a complete mystery to me how people find each other and decide that this is the person they want to spend eternity with. So it seems like a miracle every time it happens. And it's nice to sit and chat with ladies I haven't seen in a while. And there is always really delicious food. At my cousin Sarah's shower last night we had cream puffs. And if that isn't reason enough to miss America's Next Top Model, then one must not exist.

So I'm not bitter. But I am jealous. And not of the girl getting married. But of the girl getting the Kitchen Aide. And the pillow shams. And the mixing bowls, and guest towels, and laundry basket, and place mats, and ice cream makers. To get a husband AND a rice cooker seems like an excess of riches.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pain is my future

For the last 6 weeks of nunchuck class we have been using foam ones (and here is where I gently point out that it is nunchucks. Not numchucks. I know you thought it was numchucks, but it is not. It's nuNchucks. I love you.) But last night the Sensei let us try out the wooden nunchucks and while they are actually easier to maneuver and make a more satisfying swooshing sound when you strike, I foresee a few problems. Such as:

1.) The incredible shooting pain of hitting myself with them
2.) Shattering an elbow
3.) My finger swelling to the size of a bratwurst after I banged it when attempting to do a catch behind my back
4.) Concussions
5.) Losing an eye
6.) Damaging my kidneys
7.) Killing a small child who happens to get in my way
8.) Knights of Columbus! The Pain!
9.) No, seriously, these things HURT.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The British Relatives

I have officially become BFF with my British Relatives and they have invited me out to stay with them, where they will no doubt feed me fish n' chips or bangers n' mash or some other weird sounding food combo.

I actually didn't know that I had British relatives until just a few weeks ago when my mom asked if I want to come along with her to meet them when they were visiting her cousins in Apple Valley. Truth be told, I didn't know she had cousins in Apple Valley either. This is the nature of my Mom's side of the family. It is vast and, for the most part, uncommunicative. (If you are ever looking for the source of my phone phobia, call my mom. Do not wait for her to call you.) This is all complicated by the fact that it's my mom's dad's side of the family and since my grandpa died when my mom was just a kid, that side of the family is a complete mystery to me. So Mom, Katie, Aunt Linda and Shayla and I headed to the desert to find out exactly how we were related to the Brits.

It turns out my mom and British Cousin Jim have the same great grandparents. Finding out how I was related to everyone seemed to be the activity of the night. I said, "Hi I'm Rachel. How are we related," a lot that night because it was basically a house full of strangers. Strangers who fed us really yummy Italian food and turned out to be very lovely and generous people. Seriously, who knew I had such a fun family?

This was a nice reward for driving out to Apple Valley. Because to get to the cousin's house you have to drive 8,000 miles into the desert, then you turn right on a dirt road, swerve around a few yucca trees, and pull into the third house on the left. It was not surprising that the first person we saw as we walked up the drive was my cousin Rick, in a cowboy hat and boots. It completely satiated my need for wilderness living. I was sitting on the back porch and saw something rustling in the brush and that was all I needed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Economy

I legitimately blame the Economy at least 5 times a day. We don't have any jobs available right now but I get call after call from people desperate for work and all I can say to them is, "You know...the Economy...." Which is true. Because the state has no money, the counties has no money, and since all of our in-state contracts come through the counties they aren't giving us any new jobs.

But I have started using the Economy as an excuse for a lot of annoying things and I find it to be very satisfying.

Things like:

1.) The lack of ice cream in my freezer
2.) The gloomy weather outside
3.) Dirty laundry
4.) My inability to tap dance
5.) Bad hair days

I certainly hope President Obama has set aside money in the stimulus package for a pint of chocolate orange from Bert & Rocky's for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How green is my thumb?

I've never grown anything from a seed before. Okay, once in the 3rd grade we had to put a lima bean in a baggie with a wet paper towel and it sprouted, but that was more disturbing than rewarding. Have you seen a sprouted bean in a baggie? It looks like an alien fetus, all hunched and wrinkled with tentacles reaching out to eat your face. I still get the heebs thinking about it.
But Spring got a hold of me and I said, "So what!" to my tiny balcony with little sunlight and I planted squash seeds. For fun. Well, and for squash. But I really don't even know what I'm doing. How big of a pot do I need? Right now it is in a small pot, so when do I transplant it? How much sunlight is it going to require? How often do I water? These are questions I'm going to have to answer soon because, lo, she grows!
I squealed with delight when I went out to water and found my squash had sprouted. And a full week sooner than anticipated. My squash is pretty advanced. I'm sure it will make the honor roll. Mama wants a bumper sticker for her car!