Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad

This blog is all about my dad, cos today is his birthday. Happy Birthday Da. My dad, or T.J as he is known to the rest of the world, is 55. I think he’ll be ok with me sharing his age, at least I hope so. Too late now I guess.

What can I say about my dad? Well, as I’m sure my mother will testify to, life with him is never boring. From his charming, engaging and very out going personality, to his ability to get himself in all kinds of trouble cos he has a big habit of saying things without thinking. And even though he tries to play hard, he is a big softy who spoils us all rotten.

So have a Happy Birthday Dad. And just to let you know, this year we broke with tradition and didn’t get you any socks or ties. This year, we started thinking outside the box. I hope you like it.
Love Ka.
And if anyone has ever wondered where I got my ability to party from, just check out these pictures of T.J getting his "Night Fever" on. It may give you a little clue.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Check Your Breath

One day last week I had to spend several hours in the company of a guy with serious bad breath. Serious. He is a really sweet guy, but damn, the breath is a real issue. When he was talking my hand would instinctively go towards my nose, in an effort to blockade the sharpness of his breath. And once I realized where my hand was, I kept trying to pass it off like I was dealing with a twitchy nose. For some reason I didn’t want him to know his breath was causing this reaction, I didn’t want to embarrass him. Yet I needed him to know so he could get on top of the situation. Talk about rock and a hard place.

It was a tough situation. I don’t know him really well, so I didn’t feel comfortable bringing it up, but I couldn’t keep looking for reasons to leave his company while he was mid chat. That and I was angling my face in such a way that I was not down wind from his mouth while he was talking, which meant I was not making eye contact, so now I’m starting to look a little loopy, twitchy, rude or ADD. One of the other girls eventually mentioned it to me, “Oh my god, did you notice, I don’t know, lets call him “Mouthwash”, Mouthwash has nasty breath?”
Wow, the relief. Someone had finally said, out loud, what most of the place was probably thinking. I’m not kidding but it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I was now sharing the stress with someone else. I asked the girl if she had any mints that we could offer Mouthwash. But she hadn’t. Then I remembered I had a pack of gum in my purse. Hurrrrraaaaaayyy. We waited for him to come back and once he did I was straight in with the offer of a lovely stick of the bluest, mintiest gum. I tried to sound very casual when I offered it to him, but I’m sure if he had to look close enough, my eyes and face would have given away the desperate, pleading dialogue that was going on in my head. “Please, please say “yes”. Really, you need to. Take the gum. Take the gum. Will you for the love of god, please take the gum?? Yes, nice one". He took the gum.

My normal, civilized mannerisms returned and we all interacted happily. About an hour later my friend came over to me and announced, “I think he spit the gum out”. Oh no, “Are you serious? His breath is stinky again?” I was crushed. “Fraid so”. Damn it. And I had no gum left to offer. We just had to endure as best we could.

So this Monday, if we’ve learned anything, it’s to please be breath aware. Always be as minty fresh as you can. If you are the type to suffer from sharpness of breath, then never ever leave home without your gum, mints or Listerine Strips.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thank You Paul & Ellen

Yesterday we had a special delivery. Just as I was sitting down to watch Oprah, someone came a knockin at our door. I didn’t move out of my chair to answer it. As a result of having a high traffic house, we tend to just leave the door unlocked. That way everyone can just ring the doorbell to announce themselves and then come right on it.

So I sat there waiting for whoever it was to come though the door. But nothing. Then I realized, it must be a stranger, some one who doesn’t know our “system”. So I got up to go answer it but Husband beat me to it. I hovered in the background trying to see who it was. And that’s when I caught a glimpse of a man, standing there holding something colorful. Flowers maybe. I started to get excited. I frantically scanned my brain trying to figure out what day and month it was. Wow, did I forget it was my birthday, anniversary or something? Then I realised it was neither and that we are in fact months away from both. That’s when I started to get hostile towards the deliveryman. I assumed he had made a mistake and was at the wrong house, so I was mad at him for getting me all pumped up and excited, just to end up disappointed.

But no, he was at the right place. Oh joy. I’m waiting for Husband to stop the small talk and get his ass in so I can attack the card and see who loves me. When he turned around it was a big bouquet of, not flowers, but fruit. It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was big and colorful and luscious and juicy. Husband and I were both confused. What have we done lately that has been considered nice enough to get a “Thank You” like this. I knew it wasn’t me, cos I’ve been having all those anger issues lately, so it must be Husband, he is definitely the nicer of our partnership. But it turns out it was for both of us, from Paul & Ellen, Husband’s cousins and also the parents of Gordy, our new and aggressive Intern. Basically they were thanking us for finally taking Gordy off their hands.

So Thank You very much Paul & Ellen. It was very thoughtful of you both. And it is completely our pleasure. Gordy is nothing short of a sweetheart (cough, cough).

Just look at him helping himself to all the strawberries. Like I said, a complete sweetheart ;-)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Its, What I Learned Monday

What I learned this week, is that Shinks can still run the 400m and Silja can in fact cook.

But lets deal with the first part. So off I went to California ready to run on the 4 x 400m relay. But it didn’t happen. We only ended up with 3 girls and 3 girls, does not a 4 x 4 make. But since I went all that way with a plan to run, run is what I did. I jumped into the 400m. And when I tell you I was nervous, I am not lying. It’s been 2 years since I’ve been in that pressure cooker, poised, standing in my lane behind my starting blocks, waiting for the starter to issue his commands. Yet here I was again, right when I thought I’d left these days well and truly behind me.

I did have some second thoughts, right before the starter said those awful words “on your marks”. But once the words were announced, I knew it was on. I was doing this. I can’t say I was the sharp, fast and powerful athlete of 2 years ago, but I held my own and I ran much, much better than I thought I could. Especially considering I had only started training for it 2 weeks ago. The end result, I was 3rd and ran 53.89sec. This time will make sense to the people in the know, but for those not, trust me, its very decent.

I want to say it was effortless, but it wasn’t. It hurt. But I did it, I survived and even ran well.

Now for my second learning experience, Silja’s cooking skills. Silja is always happy to let me do all the cooking. She insists she cannot cook, but she likes to stand over me and watch as I do my thing with the food. Her hope is that some of what she is witnessing will stick and she will see that cooking is in fact not that intimidating. However, as we were lying out enjoying the hot weather today, Silja announced that we should have a barbaque cos she knew how to do this amazing chicken and mozzarella thing. And as I was not really in the mood to cook, I happily agreed.

So, I let her take complete charge and I just stood by ready to assist. But she had it all under control. And it all turned out very well. We dined al fresco, with beer and cake and celebrated Silja’s coming of age in the kitchen.
Just look a Silja work the hell out of that BBQ.

This is me just assisting, nothing more, I swear.

The "Family" sits down to dinner. And even though it may not look like it, Gordy (the guy with the open mouth) is not a 5 year old.

Bring on dessert.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


This is a very short blog, just a brief update. I’ve arrived in California, LA to be more specific and this is the weekend of my guest appearance on the track. So sit tight with fingers crossed and I’ll be sure to fill y’all in on how it went down.
(And don't pretend your not old enough to remember Officer Poncherello & Officer Baker. Packing heat in those tight pants of theirs & keeping the California Highways safe and sound)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pamper Time

Today Silja and I both had our asses handed to us at the track. Yes, it was more of the lactic, more of the eating track and more of the rolling around from last week. So to reward ourselves for surviving, get some TLC, prepare our feet for summer and just to have some girlie fun, we went and got ourselves a pedicure.

Silja has a real issue with toes, she doesn't like them, they freak her out, so she spent the first 5 minutes hiding behind a magazine to avoid getting a glimpse of her foot digits. And seriously, after seeing her ugly feet, I don't blame her one bit!

My issue with getting pedicures is that I have no idea what the hell the Asian ladies are saying to me. No matter how close I put my ear to their mouth or how many times I say "I'm sorry, what?" I still don't understand. Today, the lady in the massage chair next to me, not Silja, another lady, was getting really frustrated with me for not understanding Asian lady, so she snapped and in her outside voice turned to me and said "She asked if this was your first time here". Ouch, that verbal slap stung quite a bit I have to say. I felt like a bold child. But as I'm working on my anger issues and trying to avoid the whole conflict thing, I opted to use the "turn the other cheek" approach and gave Asian lady a polite reply to her question and then turned to my aggressor on the left and thanked her for her assistance. The bitch.

Oh the lovely foot spa and a pic of my toes, just to give Silja nightmares.

Love the massage chair. You can also get a peek at my aggressor. She's on my left wearing the black top.

Ms. Silja uses humor to get through her discomfort.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What I Learned Monday

Ok, its Monday and what did I learned this past week?

Well to give you a bit of history on my personality, I would say that for a large part of my life I have been somewhat of a “People Pleaser”. I never wanted to say or do anything that would offend or upset anyone and have them think that I wasn’t a nice or good person. As you can imagine this had its stressful moments, cos in my effort to make everyone else happy, I was pretty much unhappy. But as comes with the territory of growing up, you get wiser, so I would say age has brought with it less of a need to please others.

However, a knock on effect of my “People Pleaser” past was my discomfort with confrontation. I wasn’t always good at pulling people into check when they became too invasive, pushy, nosey, said things they were out of order saying or were generally thoughtless with their comments. So I developed a habit of saying nothing. I would just keep the anger, hurt or frustration inside, or I just shared it with Husband in a very loud and emotional way when I got back home. As a result of not dealing with these situations in the moment and making it clear to the people in question the ground rules on how they can and cannot talk to me, or how they can or cannot treat me, a lot of aggression and passion would build up, causing me to eventually snap. Not a pretty scene and definitely one that could have been avoided had I just spoken out gently but sternly and stood my ground in the earlier stages.

But as most of my family and friends will testify to, I’ve gotten much better in this regard. I address the issues as they arise instead of letting them fester.
But, having said all that, I’ve had a bit of a relapse lately. I’ve been biting my tongue and staying tight lipped with so many different people over various issues recently that I’m boiling over. My short fuse has resulted in me losing it A LOT this past week and everyone’s been a target. Husband has got it, friends have got it, people at work have got it and oh yeah, my immigration lawyer got it too. Which was probably not the smartest move, since he may have me deported. But I stand by what I said, the bastard was completely rude and bang out of order. Anyway, all these conflicts forced me to do some re-evaluation. Why have I been coming to blows with so many people? And that’s when I noticed my “People Pleaser” history had come back to haunt me.

So that was last weeks lesson. Not to forget to stand up to the people in the moment when they piss me off and not leave the issues ignored or suppressed. That way I will avoid unnecessary conflicts with others who have very little to do with where the actual anger is coming from. What a deep lesson I had to relearn.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Silja's Back

I’m so happy. Silja, my friend from Iceland is back. She is going to spend the next month staying with us here in Georgia, training and racing and hopefully getting the standard she needs to secure her place on the Icelandic Olympic Team for Beijing.

But besides that I am relieved to have another female in the house. For the past month I’ve been surrounded by men. Obviously, I live with Husband, but New Intern Gordy has been staying with us too and I have to say, there’ve been moments when I’ve felt completely tagged teamed by both men. But now the steaks have evened up. Two men and two women now live “happily” under one big dysfunctional roof. Let the games begin.

Welcome back Silja.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Ballet

So last night I went to the ballet. I know, so posh. But it wasn’t any old ballet. No, this was a collaboration between Antwan “Big Boi Patton and the Atlanta Ballet. For any of you out there who don’t recognize “Big Boi”, he is half of the group “Outkast”.

So apparently they have been working together for about a year to put together this show which is basically about “Big Boi’s” life, told through his music and danced out in a hip-hop ballet type way. I hope I explained it well. Either way we managed to get tickets to the opening night and were beyond excited about going to the show.

When we got there it was media city. There was a red carpet, there were lights, there were TV camera’s and there were regular photographers. Since we showed up a good hour and a half early, we thought it would be nice to just grab a glass of wine (cos that’s what people who go to the ballet do honey), on a terrace bar right across the street from the theatre. We wanted to get a good view of everyone arriving, just incase someone famous showed up. No one did, at least no one we recognized.

So after our wine and some fried green tomatoes (no judging, they were excellent and I do live in The South after all) we ran across to the theatre and took our seats and I have to say, the show was amazing. “Big Boi” himself was there singing all his own music and the dancers, well they were just amazing too. So bendy and light and co-ordinated and strong and in shape. It was great. The only negative thing was the big head on the dude 2 rows in front of me. I swear I always get seated behind a dude with a big old head. Which leaves me rubber necking from one side of his big old head to the other in an effort to follow what is going on, on stage. Very annoying. But nothing negative about the show, it was fantastic.

And just a little extra piece of information for those of you who may not know. I actually did 12 years of ballet. Yes, my mother took me to ballet school at 5 years old and I stayed with it until I was 17. There, you learn something new every day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What I've Learned Mondays

So I’ve decided that on Monday’s I will do a blog highlighting something I’ve learned either about myself or just in general from the week before. I know today is Tuesday, but I was working late last night, so the fatigue hurt my blogging abilities.

So what did I learn last week? Well, I learned that 2 years of retirement from competitive track will render your hamstrings obsolete. Let me explain.

Husband has a bunch of athletes competing at a meet in California in 2 weeks and he somehow managed to convince me to run on a 4 x 400m relay with some of these athletes. Since my retirement I have managed to stay fit and healthy. But I’ve mostly been doing the long stuff, miles of jogging or steadier type running and not meters at full speed. So in an effort to get relay ready we mapped out a couple of weeks of speed training to get my fast twitch fibers fired up again. And let me just say, the first session was not pretty.

I was actually very nervous before the workout. I knew I was in for a world of hurt. All those feelings of anticipation, excitement, pressure, tension, nervousness, expectation and pain from years and years of hard training and hard competition came flooding back once I put the spikes on and I was starting to rethink the whole relay idea.

But I got to the line and readied myself. The plan was to run 4 times 250m all out with 4 minutes rest. The first one went well and I didn’t breakdown too much. As a result my confidence was up and I was starting to settle into the session, so my second run was faster, but the lactic was starting to flow and my muscles were getting fatigued, fast. By the third one my technique was starting to break down and my face was beginning to register PAIN. Once I got to the finish line I was laid out, eating track. I could barely move for the amount of pain I was feeling all over but mostly in the hamstrings. It was awful. It felt like I’d just been shot in the base of each hamstring and as I tried to get to my feet, I almost collapsed. My legs were struggling to take my own body weight.

I had minutes to get my shit together and get on the start line for the final run. Once the 4 minutes was up, I rolled up to the start with no great conviction, but more hope, “dear god let me get through this, I swear I’ll be nice to everyone for a whole day if you just help me out for the next few seconds”

But it was ug……ly and more pain then I’ve experienced in the longest time. I wanted to die. Once I got to the finish, I just rolled around on the track. It was too hard and too painful to try and stand, yet it was too painful to not stand either. So some gentle rolling was all that seemed to help. I eventually got to my knees and then to my feet. I was getting shots of pain down my right arm. I communicated my concern that I was on the verge of a heart attack to Husband. “That’s nice, but your heart is on the left side”. Wow, right when I needed love and support all I got was his smart arse. Ok, maybe not a heart attack, but definitely a possible stroke. “You'll be fine”. God, he is just so dismissive.

I was also starting to walk around like a seriously overweight woman. My quads and hammers were so swollen, it felt like they were rubbing off each other, so I had that slow sway’ie walk going on. The whole experience was pretty shocking. My legs, particularly my hamstrings have not burned like that in forever. I wasn’t right for 2 days.

So that was the big lesson learned last week. Tempo and distance running do not maintain strong powerful hamstrings.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"I Have A Pile For That"

So this week I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about doing their taxes. Stressing, panicking and worrying if they will be getting any money back or if they will in fact be going to jail. Which made me wonder, should I be stressing about taxes too?? Honestly, I have no idea about the tax system here in the US. But the freaking out that’s going on around me is completely contagious. So now, I’m freaking out too, even though I have no idea what the hell I’m freaking out about.

Back in January I got a W-something or other, from one of my million jobs and was told “this is important, you’ll need it when you file your taxes”. Shit, this sounded serious, a mission I well and truly could not mess up. So I took said document home and gave it to Husband. “Husband, this is my W-something or other, its very important, we need it when we file our taxes”. I said it in a very serious, mature, professional manner cos I knew anything that had the possibility of landing me in jail if carried out incorrectly, needed to be treated as such. Yet Husband was very casual. “Ok, give it here to me, I have a pile for that”. I said, “just tell me which file and I’ll put it away myself”.
He said, “No, pile, not file". I froze and stared at him, searching his face for signs of jest. But nothing. Eventually some words came out of my mouth, “I’m sorry, did you say pile?” He barely looked away from the computer screen, “yeah it's all over here, I have a system” I was stunned. “This is a very important document”. He said “I know, I’ll take care of it”.
I didn’t know where to take the conversation from there. I was completely lost for words.

Not long after that I had a bunch of other receipts and things, which I thought might also be important for the old taxes. So I took them to Husband. “Hey, do we need this stuff for our taxes?” He took a minute to look them over, “yeah, I think so”. Me: “let me guess, you have a pile, right?” He had the nerve to smile and say all proud like “Yeah”.
At this point I’m very concerned. Everyone else is going crazy about this whole topic of taxes and he is sitting there all easy, breezy like we’re chatting about what to have for dinner. We don’t even have a flipping Filing System, we have a damn Piling System. I’m no accountant but I have a feeling this is not how the recording and documenting of ones government contributions gets carried out. So I make a very bold statement. “You know what, I think I need to learn aboutdoing taxes”, don’t you?” Him: “yeah, I suppose so, but don’t worry about it, we’re filing jointly”. Yet I can’t shake the worried feeling. I just have this awful picture of a man, dressed like he came straight from The Matrix (sunglasses and all) knocking on our door and demanding to see all our important documents. And we can find nothing. Seriously, I want to be able to go straight to a filing cabinet and open the right drawer and pull the right file and show it to Mr. Matrix, so he can see we are very mature and organized about all the things we should be mature and organized about. That way he can high kick, in slow motion, his way out of our house and on to the next US citizen. Is that too much to ask??? Apparently.

I guess I just have to step up and get an education on all things US tax related. God, it just sounds so boring and painfully. The mere thought of it is making me want to take a nap.