Monday, April 25, 2005

How Was Your Weekend?

A work associate of mine today asked me how my weekend was. I immediately answered, "Great!" very enthusiastically, which piqued her interest, and mine too, come to find out, because on reflection, it wasn't "great" in the traditional sense; it was funny in the traditional sense, and actually kind of pathetic as it was happening, so now looking back on it, it's just fun to laugh about it. As strange as it was for her to ask me on a Wednesday about my weekend, it may also seem a bit delinquent for me to write about it here, but, oh well.

Linda got an email from a church singles' mailing group about a dance in Pasadena on Saturday night. Now, we've been to a Pasadena dance before, and it was excruciatingly painful. There were about 40 people there, awful music, and the only ones who were dancing were the ones who had come with a date or made arrangements to meet someone there. Suffice it to say, we did not participate in any dancing ourselves that night. I'd like to think that it's because we were the youngest ones there (and at 38 and 42, we're no spring chickens) and also the best-dressed, but that makes me sound like a self-entitled snob, so I'll admit to the fact that we left 20 minutes after we got there, running, actually -- screaming in frustration, humiliation and "why did we even bother!", and give the other attendees the benefit of the doubt that we didn't allow ample opportunity to participate in any actual dancing.

It's a legitimate question, then, to wonder why, if we had such an awful experience the last time, we would subject ourselves to a potential repeat of a horrific evening. Good question. The email promised a "swing" theme, which sounded promising. Maybe that would attract more people, since swing dancing is what all the young, hip crowd is doing these days. Okay, it's what the young, hip crowd was doing five years ago, but better late than never, right? The email also encouraged theme or era dressing, which sounded fun too.

So much fun, in fact, that it prompted a shopping trip to find something great to wear. Even though I got some new clothes, I wound up wearing things I already had in my closet, with the addition of a cute, fun-patterned, pink scarf thingy around my waist. Very different for me, very daring, and though I didn't look like Bette Davis or anyone else from the 40s, I think I looked like a fun version of something from the 50s. Linda also looked smashing in some new pants and a cute sweater.

In short, we felt confident in how we looked and deemed ourselves ready for a night on the town. Or at least ready for 20 minutes of circling the perimeter of the gym floor, getting something to eat, wondering what we were doing there when there were only 40 people there, none of whom seemed remotely interested in us and leaving again.

Because that is essentially what happened.

Our first sight of the giant, inflated, lit-up Easter bunny in the foyer should have tipped us off that not all was completely right with the world. What the heck? Easter decorations three weeks after the holiday? What's that all about? Well, okay, whatever. Then the guy taking our money looked like, well, a modern-day pirate, really. Completely bald (not bad -- I like bald men), sporting a very unfashionable facial hair growth of mustache gone all sorts of haywire. It wasn't a goatee, not a beard, and not exactly a mustache either. It was some sort of weird lip hair that went down to his jaw line, halfway between his ears and chin. It was just weird and sick and wrong. Plus, he was speaking in some (self-acknowledged) fakey Hungarian accent. Whatever, non-impressive pirate dude.

We went to the door and tentatively poked our heads in to get a feel for how many people were there. While I was counting the fact that there were more people sitting at the tables and chairs than there were on the dance floor (with a healthy 40:6 ratio), I was also vaguely aware of someone shouting my name. But I figured it couldn't be for me, because I don't know anyone personally at these things. But then Linda said, "Oh, Brad (not his real name, because this is the guy that you really don't want to have acknowledge you at these things because he's socially not quite right and mentally not all there either, so you really don't want to get tagged by him for the rset of the night, even though he's a nice guy, you don't want to spend all night talking to him because it's uncomfortable in very many ways, and you certainly don't want to limit yourself) is here." We kind of waved at Brad, then horrified at how many people were dancing compared to how many people were eating, decided that the food must be pretty good, so we went to check that out.

We went to the kitchen and got some food to nibble on, then went back to the gym to scope out the safest place to sit. That means not giving any dweebs the wrong idea just because you've sat at their table to eat, but not wanting to alienate anyone either. There was one older lady sitting by herself, and trying to keep in mind our attitudes of we're not looking to get married here, just to meet new people, we decided to go sit by her.

Dee, and I don't know if that's her name or not, but I think she said it was, was an interesting character. She too, had gotten all spiffed up for the dance. Well, not exactly according to my definition for getting all spiffed up, but for her, I guess it was. This was, after all, a dance, and she was dressed and there, so I guess it was her definition. She was wearing a pink florally skirt, a pink t-shirt with some sort of character or writing on it, a bandana around her neck, crew socks that had given up their elastic ghost and were crumpled down around her ankles, and an old pair of running shoes. For accessories, she was wearing her Buddy Holly glasses tied with a shoelace. Oh, and there were wads of toilet paper sticking out of her ears. To, you know, drown out the (not) loud swing and easy listening music that was playing.

The toilet paper made for an interesting conversational exchange. She wanted to talk to us, but was unwilling to take out the toilet paper to make it easy for her to understand us. She asked us who was singing this song. Linda, who knows all things musical, immediately said, "James Taylor."

"What?" she hollered back at us.

"James Taylor," said more emphatically and loudly this time. "Either him or his son Ryan."

"WHAT?" she bawled.

"James Taylor!" shouted Linda. "Or his son Ryan, but I'm pretty sure it's James."

"James Taylor," she fairly snorted back. "No it's not. It must be that other one you said, his son. I don't believe it's James. Dan!" She yelled to the DJ sitting 20 feet away. "Who is this singing?"

Dan, rightly so, did not reply or acknowledge her. Dee got up and said, "I'm going to go find out. It's not James Taylor." She got up and started walking over to the DJ table.

Linda muttered, "Oh good. Yes, do go find out. I'm sure I'm right. I hope I win." And Dee, who couldn't hear a shouted conversation from 3 feet away, was apparently perfectly capable of hearing a mumbled comment from 10 feet away, because she turned around and shot Linda a dirty look. All that with the toilet paper still intact.

She wandered back, sat down, and Linda asked, "Well? Was I right? Do I win?" Dee confirmed that it was, indeed, James Taylor, but managed to say it in a way that conveyed she knew it all along.

I won't bother to go into all of our exchanges with her, though there weren't many, they all just went downhill from there. When the next song came on, she asked who was singing that one, and Linda told her Dean Martin. She cocked her head to the side, the better to hear through the toilet paper barricade, and said, "Yes, you're right." Then a women's voice started singing and she said, "Who's that?" Without giving either of us a chance to reply, she went on, "It must be Dean Martin's wife. What was her name?"

I, giving up all pretense of politeness said, "Mrs. Martin," which started the whole "WHAT???" thing again. She then excused herself to go get another baked potato. She brought it back to the table, unwrapped it from the foil and proceeded to eat it dry like an apple. Then she asked me if I had a checkbook. "Not with me," I said, wondering where this was leading.

"I don't have one either. I can't have one. I can't balance a checkbook. Too hard. I just have a day-to-day savings account." And having shared with us her financial accumen, just then noticed that some man she apparently had her eye on was dancing with someone else, so she got up to be closer to the dance area. Only, not just at the perimeter of the dance floor, she actually stood about three feet away from where this couple was standing and just stared at them.

We used that opportunity to observe the other dancers, and nothing had changed. The same six people were dancing with each other, and the other 40 attendees were leaning back in their chairs with their Honey-Baked ham dinners in front of them, clearly with no intention of budging to dance.

So. We left. Well, we started to leave, but decided to stop in the kitchen first to get some more strawberries. We ran into Brad again who started rambling about the singles' newsletter that he was trying to get out to us. Then he pointed Carl out to us and told us that Carl was the one responsible for telling him, Brad, all the details of the different events. Carl, hearing his name mentioned, turned around and said, "What? I'm just the messenger."

I was still trying to be (semi) polite and social and said, "So, we shouldn't shoot you then?" Linda started laughing immediately. Brad and Carl just looked at me blankly while crickets chirped. Then, deciding that I must be socially retarded, went back to talking about some singles' conference they were going to, at which point Linda and I snuck out the door behind them, and ran screaming to the car.

I want to enjoy these dances; I really do. But it's so hard when I feel like I'm either the youngest one there, or the most normal, or just really not interested in any other males close to my age because they're

I'll tell you what happened at the last dance we went to in Irvine, and you can come up with your own adjective of the guys my age. There was a group of four or five guys who were all enthusiastically dancing. With girls considerablly younger than themselves, and not nearly as cute as me. That says something about the guys right there. Then, as they would take breaks between songs, they would walk up to one of the large fans in the corner of the gym, pulling and tugging at their shirts as if to will more circulation on their hot, sweaty bodies, then stand in front of the fan holding their arms up so they could air out. Niiiice.

Besides their obvious questionable taste in fashion, one of them was sporting a ratty, torn t-shirt with a cartoon sketch of Santa Claus on it. I wondered why, since this was early February, but upon closer examination, saw that Santa was carrying a gift and underneath it said, "I have a large package."

Yeah, I know. That's what I thought too. I couldn't believe he was wearing that to a church. Dance.

You can begin to see why I don't think my eternal mate is exactly waiting for me at one of these things. I will try to go as often as I feel brave, if only so I don't lose all my social skills (which apparently don't really matter), but the type of guy I want isn't airing his armpits out in front of a fan, or wearing stupid t-shirts, or hunched over a baked potato.

Back in Pasadena, we decided that we looked way to good to just go back home and spend the night in front of the TV, so we decided to go to a karaoke bar. I won't go into all the details about that, but I will say that at least I got acknowledged by more guys there than I have at one of these dances. It may be the alcohol doing the looking (theirs, not mine, as I don't drink), but I'm not exactly looking for any encounters of the drunken kind, either.

So, here I am, still trying to figure out the best place for me to put myself to meet any sort of a man I'm interested in who can handle me. I'm so glad that I don't have to rely on guys' opinions of me to have any sort of self-esteem, or else I'd be very depressed indeed.

Meanwhile, I'll just keep going to these lovely activities and collecting material to put here. That's more fun anyway.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Letter to Billy Blanks, Creator of Tae Bo

...which as we all know, is some made up name to make it sound like you're going to be able to use your new black belt and kick someone's butt in a dark alley.

Dear Billy,

Thanks to you, though, not only will I not be able to kick someone's hiney, I won't even be able to run away. I'll have to limp, hobble, really, because you and your silly exercise program have so completely messed up my hip and groin muscle that I can barely move.

Thank you for the guilt you so handily give me for not having 6-pack abdominal muscles or rock-hard thigh muscles. I wanted them, I really did. That's why I got your video eight years ago. I had high hopes for myself, just as I know you did, when you so sincerely looked in my eyes through the camera during your infomercerial and promised that I could shed unwanted pounds and flab. And I wanted to, I really did. I knew that with you as my personal coach, I could do anything.

Unfortunately, "anything" meant that all I could do was scream in agony as I felt my muscle slowly tearing away from the bone and ligament. I really did think that doing the leg lift kick out move would really prepare me to beat up bad guys with a swift, well-placed thigh-high kick.

Now you've come out with your new Basic Training program, which you claim you developed for the men and women in our armed forces. I don't know why I don't completely believe that claim. Was there really something you could offer, say, a Navy Seal that they weren't getting on their own? Just because you wear camoflauge clothing and your little army of muscled-robots wear little bits and pieces of camoflauged clothes strategically placed so as to best show off their own sets of muscles, does not necessarily make you qualified for the military. I could go to my local Army/Navy surplus store and buy that stuff myself, but it doesn't mean I'm actually IN the army, ya know?

I have progressed in my own self-confidence and body image to be comfortable enough now to just lie in bed and watch you trying to sell your product to the next generation of deluded people who think they need to look like you. I actually feel healthier just lying there and not stressing about it than I would if I thought I needed to look like you.

In short, Billy Blanks, take your silly little troop of insane people and go away. I have a bowl of ice cream I need to eat.



Sunday, April 10, 2005

Whatcha Doin'?

"Whatcha doin?"
"Nothing much."
"Any plans?"
"Not really. Just gonna hang around, see how things go, take it easy. You know, Saturday."

It was a Saturday, like any other Saturday. Or so we thought. We didn't have any plans scheduled for the day; it was just going to be an run-errands/let's-just-see-how-things-go-before-we-make-any-plans kind of day. The only plan we had for sure was to take Linda's and Cim's cars down to the Ford dealership to get a recall taken care of. We did that, then went back to get the cars, then did a little shopping, then....

Ah, yes. "Then." Cim and I were in my living room chatting about getting something to eat and what we were going to make for dinner, waiting for Linda to come home, when we heard it. A bumper-to-bumper collision. We live about 10 feet from a major freeway onramp/offramp, so noises like that are not uncommon. Generally, you can ignore it because seriously. You can't expect us to go running across 8 lanes of traffic everytime there's an accident or a police chase or news helicopters flying overhead.

This time though, I could actually see the car that had just gotten hit right outside our window. It looked pretty bad -- a crumpled car sitting in the middle of a two-lane offramp. Cim and I looked at each other and decided to go see if there was anything we could do to help. Cim grabbed the phone and started calling 911, I grabbed my cell phone, and off we went.

We made our way over there, which comprised of negotiating our way through the ditch and plumbers in our front yard. Oh, and the plumbers' wives and children. (Don't ask. That's a story for another day.) Crossed through one crosswalk (onramp side of the street), then I started jogging up the offramp. I know. Not a good idea on an ordinary day, but freeway traffic is lighter on a Saturday, plus the crushed car was impeding any traffic actually getting off the exit, so I figured it was pretty safe.

At first it just looked like a hit and run. It obviously wasn't a one-car accident because the car was too damaged, especially the back end, to have just gotten that way by itself. But it wasn't immediately obvious how it had gotten that way. The driver was holding a rag up to his arm that was already bleeding through. He asked me to put pressure on the wound in his other arm. I rummaged through his car and found another rag for his other arm. Started putting pressure on that, and that's about when Cim caught up (she was barefoot so jogging up the freeway wasn't really an option for her).

We started looking around to see if the other car was around or if it was a hit and run. We saw an SUV up the incline parked on the shoulder. Its front bumper was mooshed a little, and two Hispanic young men were wandering around talking on cell phones. They looked okay; certainly not in as bad as shape as the offramp guy.

A Cal-Trans worker came up to let us know that they had just radioed CHP, which was nice since it had taken forever for Cim to get through the 911 way. I asked offramp guy (Fine. His name was Ernie. I'll stop calling him "offramp guy.") if there was anyone he wanted me to call for him. He gave me his wife's phone number; I couldn't get through and left a message. Cim suggested we get him off the street, thinking he was probably going into shock.

Oh, except it was just about then that the two Hispanic SUV guys decided to come check things out. They strolled down and asked Ernie if he was okay. He said, "Yes. Well, no, not really. (pause) What were you guys doing? Look at this! You really slammed into me!"

The SUV Guys, seeing that he was okay (mostly), started puffing out their chests and invading personal space a little bit. Not just Ernie's, either, but mine too, since I was still holding the rag on the guy's arm. "Dude! Whaddya mean US! You! were the one that swerved into our lane! You cut across like three lanes of traffic!"

The boys all started moving closer to each other talking at the same time, over each other, blaming each other. It was getting a little heated. I moved between them and put my non-compress holding hand up and said, "Guys. Guys! Calm down! Everyone's a little shook up right now. Just calm down. The cops will be here soon, and we get everything straightened out then." They stopped, and I thought, "Wow. Check me out. Master negotiator, that's me." Cim told me later though that she had started to walk away then turned around and saw the boys all swaggering towards each other and me putting my hand up and calming everyone down. She ran back up and inserted herself between the two sides, and that's when they backed down. After all, who's going to hit a little person? She has the ability to look so very young and innocent. No one's going to hit her.

We got Ernie over to the guard rail. I kept trying to get ahold of his wife, then I called his brother who lives closer and told him that was going on. Ernie asked me if he could talk to his brother, and I said, "Um, no. Sorry, but I don't want your blood on my phone." Because seriously. This guy had blood on his face, his hands -- I didn't want to try to figure out how to disinfect my phone. So he asked me to tell Carlos, the brother, to keep trying to get ahold of his wife, and to please come get his tools out of his car.

Linda showed up about then and started picking up debris out of the road, some of which was part of Ernie's very expensive tool collection.

Oh, the car. This would be a good time to describe what it looked like. I'm only sorry I didn't have my camera with me. Maroon Saturn, rear bumper was hanging on by one car-thread, but mostly just hanging on the ground. The rear window was missing, apparently from when the trunk had flown open and completely shattered it. The driver's seat was completely reclined. Ernie said it collapsed when he got hit and he almost rolled out the back window. There was blood on the passenger's side seat and doorframe, probably from him rummaging around to get a rag for his one arm wound, and blood drops, splatters, really, all the way from the car up to where we currently were standing with him. Overall, it was not a pretty sight.

Okay, so Linda's there, then a guy in a brown shirt (I never got his name, so I'll just call him Brownie, since that's what I called him when the CHP guys asked me who everyone was) showed up because he had witnessed the whole thing, gotten off the next exit and circled back to give his eyewitness account about what had happened. Good thing he did too, because just based off the physical evidence, it would be very easy to believe that it was all SUV Guys' fault. Turned out though, that Ernie was actually in the 2nd lane, realized he needed to get off that exit and swerved over the two lanes, headed into the exit lane, and the SUV Guys didn't have time to react; it was that sudden. Brownie said it looked as though Ernie made a 90* right turn.

The cops and paramedics showed up at about the same time. Ernie started getting the attention he needed. They started with the arm that he had been putting pressure on first, so I continued putting pressure on the other one while the dressed and bandaged that one. It was nasty looking. It was like a Discovery Channel health or surgery special on what all the layers of muscle look like. It was terribly gross, but I managed to remain fairly clinical and calm about it. Mostly because I was curious about how he had gotten it, because to be blunt, a huge chunk of his arm was missing, and I couldn't figure out how it had gotten that way. The upside was that being that close to the action allowed me a perfect vantage point to observe (read: stare at) all the (very beautiful) Burbank fire department paramedics. They are not ugly. What is it about yellow pants, blue shirts and red suspenders? Primary-school colors should not logically be able to combine in a way to make men look that good.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Ernie. He asked me to wait for his brother to come to get the tools and make sure everything got out of the car okay. The EMTs finally got around to dressing the other wound, so that gave the three of us a chance to step back and see what else was going on. We leaned against the guard rail and relaxed for a minute. Cim was standing on my left side (the same hand that had been putting pressure on Ernie's wound). She said to me, "Ooh. I'm feeling a little woozy. Do you mind if I just hang onto your arm for a minute?" I said, "Probably better not with that hand -- that's the same one that's been touching Ernie." Linda overheard the conversation and said, "You can hang onto my arm." I turned away for one second, and Linda started going, "Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Hey! Hey! Hey!" I turned back around and saw that she was trying to support Cim, who had apparently picked just that moment to pass out. I tried to catch her, but when someone's fainting, it's like trying to hold a wet noodle upright. Nearly impossible. I was mostly concerned about her right leg that was getting bent underneath her, so I was trying to get that straigtened out while making sure she didn't hit the ground very hard.

The good news is, is that if you're going to pick a time to pass out, it might as well be on a freeway offramp where an accident has just occurred and the EMTs are already on site. About five of them came immediately over (abandoning Ernie. Cool!) and surrounded Cim. She opened her eyes and said, "What? Why is everyone looking at me?" Linda said, "Um, 'cause you just fainted." "I did?"

One of the hottie EMTs started taking her blood pressure while another one started taking her medical history to see if this had ever happened before, etc. He started by asking what her name was, to get an idea of if she was fully conscious yet or not. She said, "Cinnamon." He thought for sure she wasn't all there yet. He had a look on his face like, Yeah, right. He said again, "What's your name?" "Cinnamon," she said again, this time more firmly and emphatic. He looked up at us like, really? Yes, we nodded. Really. She got checked out while I contemplated stopping breathing so I could get some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They told her it would probably be a good idea to go home and get something to eat and drink and lie down.

(For Cinnamon's version of the day's events, go here.)

Long story a bit longer, they drove the car down the offramp to get it out of the way and wait for the tow truck. I went down there with it because I was still waiting for Carlos, the brother, to come get the tools. I chatted with Linda and one of the CHP guys for awhile, then the tow truck guy showed up, but still no Carlos. Then it turned out the tow truck wasn't the right kind, so they had to call for another one. Actually, the tow truck guy confessed that he had the right part, but he was on light duty because of "this," he said, pointing to his arm. Embroidered across his much-tattooed arm was about 30 stitches in a lovely zig-zag pattern that looked like it had been put there by his pirate captain friend who had nothing but a hook needle and sail thread and used his teeth to cut the thread. It was fairly gruesome in its own right. "Dude," I said, "How'd you get that?" "Motorcyle accident," he replied. More proudly than he should have, if you ask me.

Carlos finally showed up, sporting the longest mullett I've seen in quite a long time and a tai chi outfit complete with neon-green boxers. I left him to do what he needed to do and went back to my house to wash up and check on Cim. Washing up was another adventure because I had to use the outside hose due to the aforementioned plumbing issue, but all is right with the world.

The moral of this story boys and girls, is to please, please be very very careful. Wear your seatbelts, don't drink or do drugs (ever, but especially during or just before driving), and don't be stupid, because it's not just your life; I'm out there too and I don't want a chunk of my arm taken out or my bumper laying in the fast lane just because you had to get off the freeway NOW!

"Be wise, oh what can I say more?"

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

100 Things About Me

Or however many I get to before I run out. I don't even know if I'll be able to come up with 100 things about me. We'll see.

1. My middle name is the same as my Grandma's middle name. I'm the only girl in my immediate family to have a middle name. I think it makes the others jealous.

2. One of my nieces also has the same middle name as me. I call her "my little namesake," even though our first names are different.

3. One of my other nieces really IS named after my grandma. I'm kind of jealous. It's a cute name. But I wouldn't have liked it when I was growing up.

4. I got my first name because my sister's best friend in first grade was named that and she liked it. I don't think my parents were terribly discerning about what they named us girls. One of my sisters got her name because my parents were expecting (wanted) a boy but got her instead and didn't know what to name her and they were listening to the radio in the hospital and a song came on that they liked so they named her after that.

5. But that's not as bad as some people I know who are crazy baby namers. One of their kids is named Trixie Petunia Pineapple and their latest one is called Ruby Buttercup. No, I'm not making that up. But it's not really about me either, so I'll move on now.

6. I have four sisters and one brother.

7. I am the youngest.

8. There is a 20 year difference between me and my oldest sibling.

9. I have 27 nieces and nephews.

10. My nieces and nephews are now getting married and having kids of their own. I have 15 grand-nieces/nephews. I think. There may be some I can't think of because there are so many. That number is likely to change soon.

11. I have short fingernails. I always have.

12. Luckily for me I can use my piano playing as an excuse for having really flimsy nails. And teeny nail beds. I could never be a hand model.

13. My hair is really fine. Baby fine, really. This means it's difficult to have it long. When I was a little girl, everyone wanted Dorothy Hamil's hair style. Including me. Then I just looked like a boy, which made me mad when people would ask my mom how old her little boy was.

14. I was a tomboy growing up. Was it from the short hair and always being mistaken for one? I don't know. I'm still kind of a tomboy, actually, but more girly. That doesn't make any sense.

15. I have worked for the same company for almost 10 years. At my 10 year anniversary, I will get a fancy dinner with my boss and a plaque with my picture on it and a pen. I will not get any extra vacation or a bonus. I don't like that idea very much.

16. I lived in Chile for 16 months.

17. I am fluent in Spanish--reading, writing and speaking. In fact, I can write it better than most native Spanish speakers.

18. My college degree is in Spanish. It was a no-brainer after living in Chile for 16 months. I tested out of the first 3 years of college Spanish in one afternoon.

19. But then it took me an additional 8 years to get my degree because I hate math. I had one math class I needed to take to get my bachelor's degree, and I put it off for 8 years.

20. Generally I am not a procrastinator. Just when it comes to doing something I don't want to. Usually I am pretty good at finding a back door for accomplishing things I don't want to. I was unable to that time.

21. I ended up getting an A in that stupid math class I put off taking for 8 years.

22. I got kicked out of BYU. No, not for that reason. It's because I didn't want to go to any of the GE classes. I was an A student for my major classes, and a D student in the others.

23. I thought my parents were going to be really mad when I had to make that call home. They weren't. They're very cool when they need to be.

24. My AA degree is in Broadcasting.

25. I ran the student AM station in junior college.

26. Come to think of it, school has always been an issue with me. I had to start kindergarten later than my parents wanted me to because my birthday was 2 days after the deadline.

27. My family used that year that I should have been in school but wasn't to teach me to read and write.

28. By the time I got into kindergarten the next year, I was a smarty-pants who was bored with the idea of playing in the sandbox and wanted to just read.

29. After testing me to make sure I wasn't crazy, the school let me combine kindergarten with first grade so the next year I just went directly into second grade.

30. I have never fully recovered from that. I went from being the oldest in my class to the youngest, so I always felt like there was something I just wasn't getting.

31. Then, to top it off, halfway through my second-grade year, I had to switch schools because of a change in the bus routes, believe it or not. I got put in the "dumb class" which meant my teachers stopped expecting great things out of me.

32. I used to work in a shoe repair shop. I liked it a lot -- I could read, and inbetween, got to polish shoes. Easy job.

33. I like reading. A lot. No, really. A lot a lot.

34. My favorite genre is mysteries.

35. I also like children's literature too, though, 'cause you don't have to put up with all the smut and stuff that comes pretty standard nowadays with adult novels.

36. I have two fat hairy cats. They shed a lot and have fishy breath, but they love me. And I them, come to think of it. They are not allowed to die, ever.

37. Those are the only pets I have had since I was a kid and we had a dog that we were taking care of for a family friend. I thought Pandora was mine and wasn't thrilled with the idea when her "real" owner came to get her after a few years. That sucked.

38. That's how old I am right now, until December 6.

39. December 6 is also Saint Nicholas' day.

40. I am not Catholic.

41. So why should I care about Saint Nicholas' day? Because that's Santa Claus and I love Santa Claus.

42. I prefer rainy days to hot days.

43. I live in southern California.

44. That poses a bit of conflict between the weather and my comfort during the summer months.

45. I like air conditioning.

46. My hands are generally cold.

47. I am an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. Okay, not really. I am just full of contradictions.

48. I taught early-morning seminary for 7 years. That's a church class for high school-aged students that takes place prior to school. At

. A.M. In the morning. That's early.

49. I am often tired.

50. I like naps.

51. I used to be athletic. "Used to be" only because I sit on my rear-end all day long now at a desk job. I still like sports; I'm just not so great at playing them due to gravity.

52. In high school I played softball, volleyball and basketball.

53. I only played basketball for one season though because it was stupid. I made the varsity team right off the bat, but didn't know that meant the coach was only using me for practice and pre-season games. As soon as the season started he moved me to JV where the coach was stupid and never let me play. So I didn't dress for the last game and gave the coach a piece of my mind and walked off the court just before game started. That was like three things right there for the price of one, so I'm skipping to number....

56. My junior year in high school, our softball team won our league championship. We did it with 11 girls on our team. Our team motto that year was "Put a cast on it and play." My thumb has still never really recovered from playing catcher for a professional fast-pitch pitcher during practices.

57. Neither have my knees.

58. I liked volleyball. It was fun. But I am short and not terribly good, so I don't really have anything to brag about.

59. I started golfing about four years ago after a lifetime of mocking it. I really like it a lot.

60. I now have bursitis in my hip from golf.

61. First thing in the morning getting out of bed, I resemble a 90-year old woman what with all the gimping, limping and moaning.

62. I have no tattoos.

63. My ears are double-pierced, but I only wear one pair of earrings.

64. When I get hungry I get very cranky. Sometimes there is no warning between the time I get hungry and the crankiness. Sorry about that.

65. I am snack-impaired. Because I get so hungry all of a sudden, if I start eating a snack I don't know how to stop until I am full. Then it's time for dinner or lunch or whatever, and even if I'm not hungry, it doesn't really matter because I was hungry like 20 minutes ago.

66. I could stand to lose some weight. I'm working on that right now.

67. I have fairly terrible handwriting. It's legible, but not pretty.

68. My fine-art abilities are about the same as a third grader. Maybe worse. Stick figures are a stretch for me.

69. I don't like going to the beach. I know. I can hardly believe that either.

70. I love being in the mountains.

71. I don't think I could ever live for a long amount of time in a land-locked state. I don't know why. It's not like I'm claustrophobic or anything. I can't even see the ocean from here most days. But when I picture a map of the United States and think about living somewhere in the middle of it, I get a little uneasy.

72. My idea of a great night out is dinner then a musical. A play or movie is good too, but unless I've had a nap before hand, I will almost always sleep during some of the play.

73. My favorite food is Mexican. Or Tex-Mex or Baja or whatever it is that we mostly have in California.

74. I also really like New Orleans style food. Mmmm, jambalaya.

75. I love mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

76. If there is only strawberry or vanilla ice cream in our freezer, I generally don't eat it.

77. I hate butter-brickle ice cream. What is that, anyway? It was (probably still is) my mom's favorite ice cream so it was always in the freezer. She was lucky I didn't like it or else she never would have gotten any.

78. My favorite hangout when I was a kid was either the library or the acacia tree in our front yard.

79. My favorite hangout now is the library. It would be a tree if there was one suitable for climbing where I live.

80. People always think I look like someone they know. I'm not and you don't, though. Nope, not even your sister's best friend from grammar school. Not her.

81. I frequently will sing silly songs and make up my own words. I enjoy doing that. Sometimes I come up with some really clever ones.

82. My friends often give me weird looks and I don't always know why.

83. What? What are you looking at?

84. Sometimes I am only funny to myself. Good thing I like myself.

85. I often think my two best friends are talking about me behind my back in front of me. They tease me about that, but seriously. Why are they whispering?

86. I was the first kid in my high school with a computer. Everyone else was still turning in hand-written essays while mine were all fancy-schmancy from the word processor. It was a Commodore 64.

87. I used to be able to type 90 words per minute.

88 - 92. Countries I have been to include: Canada (Victoria); Mexico (Rosarito, Ensenada and Nogales); France; England; and the Bahamas.

93. I am going to Guatemala this summer on an archaelogical dig.

94. In October, I am also going on a cruise to the Grand Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

95. I know. Cool, huh?

96. I have a great life. And not just because of the vacations.

97. I'm hungry, and it's lunch time and that's pretty darn close to 100.