Friday, January 29, 2010

Track & The City

I'm in New York City, don't hate. I'm here for the weekend competing at the Melrose Games. Well, I use the word "compete" loosely, my real job here is to pace-make the women's mile and I'm super excited. I love to pace-make. Pace-making gives me a good reason to stay fit & in shape and allows me to remain a competitor in the world of Track & Field without being a competitor, if that makes sense. Aaaand I get to spend the weekend in New York.

Our hotel is on 7th Avenue, aka Fashion Avenue, aka Shopping Heaven for Women. Sweeeeet, and I'm just back from strolling the icy cold, deliciously busy, over crowded streets of New York and of course I have some shopping bags in tow. Honestly, I tried not to get sucked in. I tried hard not to be a New York shopping cliche, but I failed. Oh well, at least I tired, right?? (Don't worry, I'm not buying my bull either).

But one place I did find myself unexpectedly, Parsons New School of Design. OMG, I was internally screaming like a little girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. Unless your a Project Runway fan, this will make zero sense and have absolutely no impact on your day whatsoever. However, I am a fan. Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum are my total celebrity BFF's. True they have no idea, but they just haven't had the opportunity to meet me yet. Given time, the 3 if us will be inseparable.
As I strolled passed the entrance I saw a small group of what I can only assume are some of next season's designer hopefuls. The nervous chain-smoking. The aggressive caffeine consumption were all telltale signs. These people were under intense pressure and stress, possibly sewing for their lives within the design rooms at Parsons. So very exciting. I tried to take a mental photo of the faces I saw, just so I can look out for them next season.

Now I'm back in my hotel room, chilling and surfing and saving my energy for a night of fantastic track performances at Madison Square Garden. I wish myself a good solid job as pace-maker.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"And the Award for Best Performance in a Pet-Sitting Role Does NOT Go To..."

My intents were good. That’s all I’ll say, but I’ve never babysat another persons pet before and my inexperience landed me in some major doo-doo today, literally.

One of Husband’s athlete’s was competing in Arkansas this weekend and while she was out of town, I offered to swing by her house a couple of times a day to make sure Alex (that’s the dog) was fed and walked.

My first visit was yesterday evening. I arrived to find little Alex sitting obediently in her carry crate just as Nikki (that’s Husband’s athlete) had said. Alex was pumped to have some company and when I opened the door to her tiny crate, she bounced out of it like some sort of wind-up toy on speed. We played and chased for a while and when it came time to put her back into her crate and leave, I couldn’t do it. The idea of her being home alone in her little cell was too much, so I packed up her bed, some toys, a leash her food bowl with food and took her back to my house. This is where things started to go bad.

Upon arrival at my house, I set Alex up in the spare room. I placed her bed in what I deemed to be the coziest corner of the room. Her food and water bowl were close by and her toys weren’t too far away either. I let Alex out of her crate expecting her to prance right over to her bed, climb in and settle down for the night. Mmmm, that never happened. She was very stressed out in her new environment. She paced and yelped and gave me looks that fluctuated between anger and pleading, “how could you do this to me? Where the hell am I?” “Pleeease, get me out of here. Take me home.” This was starting to feel like not such a good idea, but I left the room thinking she would settle. Even with her constant scrapping at the door. Even when the scraping turned to jumping. Even when the yelping never stopped, I truly believed she would settle. But she didn’t, so I decided she might feel a little safer and more secure if I put her back into her crate. But no, that did not work either and she continued through the night in cycles of yelping and silence.

At 7am I decided the best thing to do was take her back to her own house. I walked into the room she was staying in and was instantly slapped in the face with the ripe, fresh smell of poo. Oh God, this is bad. I went over to the crate and looked inside. Not only had Alex pooped in her crate but she had also been twisting and turning in it for God knows how long. This was gross to the max. Times a hundred billion. Bad, bad, bad all the way to the bone. I immediately open the crate door and when I tell you she couldn’t get out of there fast enough, she-could-not-get-out-of-there-fast enough and who could blame her. But now she was belting it around the room with her tiny poo paws, putting poo everywhere. I scooped fecal Alex up in one hand and the fecal crate in the other. The crate went outside the door and Alex when straight into the bathtub where I spent 20 minutes or so apologizing and scrubbing poo off her head, paws, back and belly. It was gross. Once Alex was clean and dry, thank you my trusted hair-dryer, I went outside to deal with the crate. And honestly the less said about that the better. Lets just say there was gagging.

Once all the poo had been washed away, I decided it would be best to walk Alex before we left, just in case she wasn’t completely done with her bathroom situation. But even that was no fun. Dexter was so excited to see our little guest that he couldn’t stop himself from dive-bombing her ever time she tried to walk. He would sprint towards us hard & fast and right at the last second, right when you feared impact of the worst kind, he would bail off to the left or right and circle around for another go. It was a disaster. The whole thing was a complete disaster. And rather than put this poor little poochie through any more misery, I loaded her up and took her home.

I don’t imagine Nikki will ever let me pet-sit for her again. But can I just say, in my defense and as a closing statement, my goal heading into this was not for Alex to end up rolling around in a tiny space with her own feces, but was for her to spend the weekend hanging and bonding with some new friends and not sad and lonely at home, waiting and pining for Nikki. That and I did pick up her mail too. I rest my case.

Here are some photos of little Alex. Taken upon her clean and safe return home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gluttony - Check

One of the 7 Deadly Sins, "Gluttony". Tonight I am a walking/slow moving/rolling example of that. Waaaay too much Chinese food, its true. What can I say? When I like something I have no self control. Its all or nothing. Sadly, tonight it was all and now I CAN-NOT move. Oh well, opportunity to catch up on some trashy TV, that's what I say. Jersey Shore anyone?? Maybe A la Mode? There's always room for ice-cream, right?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Dobrasz Family

Last week I was thrilled and excited to get the opportunity to shot my co-worker and friend, Gina’s adorable little family. Gina and I had been trying to hook up this shot since before Christmas but between one thing and another, it never happened. Last weekend however, it did and wouldn’t you know that was the week Georgia faced its coldest temperatures in something like 80 years. Remember our frozen lake, yeah, it was that cold. But neither of us was prepared to cancel and with hypothermia nipping closely at our heels, we kept it movin and shot as fast as we could.

As miserably cold as it was, the Dobrasz family showed up smiling and giddy. Gina brought her larger than life personality which kept us both laughing like a bunch of disobedient school girls. John brought sophistication and maturity and kept things moving at a good pace, least any of us get stricken down with the frost bite. Baby Oliver was a complete trooper. So easy-going and mellow, for all he knew, we could have been shooting on a beach in Miami. The only time he came even close to complaining was when hunger started to kick in.

Gina and John, thank you so much for letting me shoot your yummy little family. You are both the perfect ying, to each others yang and little Oliver, well he’s displaying the best of both worlds. The only thing I ask is that next time we shoot, lets try giving Spring, Summer or Fall a go. Just an idea ; )

How cute is this family?

No cold is gonna keep this little guy from gettin down and dirty.

Is it wrong to say how much I want Gina's coat. Love it.

Oliver's pink nose is the only clue to how cold it really was.

Love'in this shot.

Look at those teeth.

Oliver is coming up to his 1st birthday, so he's anxious to get his walking skills up to par for the big day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Music Doesn't Lie

I've always proclaimed that I'm a child of the '90's, and by that I don't mean I believe I was born in the the '90's, I know thats not true, sadly. I was definitely born in the 70's, the higher end of the decade thank you very much, but my whole adult life I believed that during the 80's I was too young and very uninterested in anything to do with music or fashion. My biggest concerns during that time were do I ask Santa for a bike this year or is that just too much? Will my new trainers make me run faster than my old trainers. Why won't my brother let me play football with him and his friends? "Cos your a girl" he told me. What?? That doesn't make sense. If I get a My Little Pony it has to come with a hairbrush ("Daaaaad (tears streaming down my face) it doesn't have a hairbrush. Its no good without a hairbrush, how am I suppose to brush his tail?? No I can't use my own one, its too big").

As far as music and fashion went, I had little or no interest, or so I thought.

Yesterday as I'm creeping my way along the soul destroying Friday evening traffic here in Atlanta, I'm listening to a radio station that's doing an "80's Weekend" and there I am, movin, shakin and singin at the top of my lungs to Wham "....I don't want your freeeeeedom, I don't want to play around, I don't want nobody baby......lalalalalala....girl-all- I-want-right-now-is you, do-do-do-do000h".

The Madonna classics like Material Girl. Then there was the "Its Raining Men" song by a group I can't remember and honestly thought was circa 1970 something anyway. Either way I'm well impressed with song word recalling abilities until a thought stops me dead in my mental tracks. Wait a second, am I in fact a child of the 80's and not the 90's as previously thought?? Noooo, surly not. Come to think of it I do remember back-combing my hair, stacking jelly-bracelets from wrist to elbow and teaming my little black ankle boots up with leg-warmers, but I could have sworn that was the early 90"s, was it not??? I don't suppose the radio station was confusing their 1980's and early 90's music were they?? This is a real blow I have to say. The radio station has thrown a complete spanner in the works. I now have to re-think my personal history timeline and try and figure out who it is I really am. I just don't now anymore. Thanks alot George Michael, Madonna and all your other 1985 buddies. You've succeeded in making me feel, of all things, OLD. Rude!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hook, Line and Sinker

Finally I had some downtime. A block of about 30 minutes where I had nothing that needed doing, nothing urgent anyway. Nowhere I had to be. No one I needed to meet. Nothing that needed cooking, cleaning or folding. I had this 30 minute window where I could switch my brain off from a very intense day at work and a draining commute home in the miserable Atlanta rush-hour traffic. Finally, I had an opportunity to watch me some trashy, mind-numbing but completely addictive reality TV.
True I could have used that 30 minutes to find out how many points up or down the DOW and NASDAQ had closed at today. To brush up on my world history compliments of the History Channel or help figure out the current condition of the earth's permanent eco-system courtesy of National Geographic. But seriously, where's the fun in that? And it's a rhetorical question, cos y'all know the answer, if your honest. I refuse to believe I'm the only rubber-necker of train wreck TV. Refuse.

Anyway, there I was comfortable and ready. Remote in hand. Moving up and down and up and down the current TV listings. But there was nothing on. I continue "paging up" and "paging down". I must be missing something, there can't be NOTHING on. Not a Kardashian, not a cat-fighting model wannabe, not a celebrity refusing to believe they really do belong in rehab. Nothing. I'm mad, but I have to watch something. I promised myself 30 minutes of trashy TV and I'll be damned if I'm not going to get it.

Enter Cindy Crawford and her "Meaningful Beauty". Oh yes, I was desperate, I went down the infomercial route. Don't judge, at least I didn't settle on Vince (of the ShamWow fame) and his headset, blatantly stolen from Madonna's 1990 "Blond Ambition Tour". I have more class than that. Instead I allowed Cindy, who lets face it, looks amazing for a 40-something year old, convince me that her melon, enzyme, antioxidant extract beauty products will be the answer to all my ageless skin needs. She threw out all the key words, "increased collagen production", "removal of crows feet and dark circles", "radiant", "firm", "glowing", oh Cindy stop, you had me at "crows feet". Where is my phone and where the hell is my wallet? I need to be one of the first 500 callers, if I want to double my purchase for half the price. "Damn it phone, where are you?". "Hurry, there are only 8 minutes left to take advantage of this once in a lifetime offer". "Shut up, I can't find my phone". "There you are phone, now what's that number?"

Sitting there waiting for the phone number to reappear on screen gave me just enough time to take hold of my senses. Was I seriously on the verge of buying something from an infomercial? You've got to be kidding me. Who am I right now? I don't recognize myself. I am the mocker of all things infomercial, not a willing participant. How did Cindy rope me in like this? Obviously when I switched off my brain in preparation for some mindless TV, I'd switched off my common sense too, as a result I almost fell for it, hook, line and sinker. See how dangerous an emotionally drained girl with cell phone and wallet at only an arms length away can be?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Big Freeze Hits Georgia

This has been the coldest week Atlanta has seen in something like 84 years. Snow and ice as far as the eye can see right now. The roads are like glass and the news is full of stories of cars skimming across surfaces in somewhat of an automobile Ice Capades fiasco. Its a complete disaster and I'm doing my best to drive as little as possible, least I end up in a unwanted waltz with fellow drivers.

The exciting part of all this is that our lake is frozen, nice and thick. Not thick enough for yours truly to attempt a walk on it, I ain't crazy, but enough for Husband to risk life and hyperthermia to get out there and skate, he is crazy. I was not a big supporter of this adventure, not one bit and I watched on with my stomach in my mouth, my heart racing and my cell phone close at hand as I tried to plan out what the rescue attempt would look like should Husband go plummeting through the ice. Nerve wrecking. But it got worse. Dexter and Fintan also wanted in on the action. For some reason they were loving the frozen lake. Late last night Fintan made a break for it and headed straight for the lake where he proceeded to do sprints up and down the lake surface in a very surreal, very Disney like manner. Dexter joined Husband for a bit of a glide around this morning and Fintan just opted for a wee stroll this time around.

The good news, besides the fact that everyone survived the experience, is that we captured some of this craziness on camera, photo and video. So check it out.

Fintan is a little shy at first.

But soon he's off and running.

The lake, frozen.

The Husband, actin crazy.

Not sure why he has his hockey stick. Maybe to pull himself out should it all go wrong.

To see a video of Husband and Dexter get all Ice Capadey, click HERE

To see a video of Fintan take a stroll, click HERE

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bikini's? Now? Are You Serious?

As soon as I walked into Target I saw them. Bikini's, in all colors and styles imaginable. Horror of all horrors. It just can't be bikini season already, it just can't. I'm still in the throws of dealing with the repercussions of a very over indulgent Christmas. Vegetables be damned. Workouts be damned, its Christmas and I WILL eat carbs layered with fat.

But now the party is officially over, the bikini's have seen to that. Yet, instead of me lunging my way towards the aisles filled with fruit & vegetables and lean proteins, the good stuff that would kick-start my detox and re-toning, I feel more inclined to lunge towards the potato chips and refined sugars. I blame the stress. I blame the pressure. I blame the bikini. How dare you guilt me so early into the year. I'm still wearing a hat, scarf and gloves for goodness sake. Its too soon. Sit tight, lay low and wait for your moment.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kim - Life In Between

Right before Christmas we had our good friend Kim come visit us all the way from Belgium. Kim has been part of our lives for almost 4 years now. She and her good friend Helena first showed up on our doorstep as interns looking for 3 months work experience in the world of sports management as part of their college courses. Now having worked hard and impressed Husband so much, Kim has remained part of Doyle Management Group (Husband's company), helping co-ordinate athlete logistics once they arrive in Europe each summer.

Husband is now working on updating his company's information package and while Kim was here he hired me to get some up-to-date headshots. However, Kim and I decided to take it one step further and went for a full on shoot.
We did this for a number of reasons; cos Kim is uber fabulous of course. She has finally finished her college studies and is ready to start her life. But she's not quite sure what it is she wants to do. Or, she is but can't quite figure out the best way to get there. She is in that "In-Between" phase and we all know that can be a very frustrating place to be, but at least she has a bunch of photos documenting her life right now, something to reflect on in a few years when she is wildly successful and happy.

Kim, thank you so much for being a great model. You look fabulous in every photo. You are destine for great things and in time you will figure it all out. No rush. Enjoy the ride.

This was the very first shot I took of Kim. Headshot sorted in the first take, now we could have some fun.

We shot in a small part of Atlanta known as Cabbagetown. This place is unique and has tons of character.

This is one of my favorite shots from the session.

Kim is a big reader and deep thinker.

She also loves fabulous shoes. Smart girl. Must be all that reading.

Up for the challenge of walking across skinny beams in her fabulous shoes.

Oops, going.....


Oh, almost gone. Nice save.

Tapping into a little childish action.

Loved the different wall types here.

The wall says it all.

Kim saw this old VW Bug and really wanted to get a shot with it. This shot turned out to be another one of my favorites. Very urban decay.

This one we took as a gift for Husband. He loves him some pick-ups.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Holiday Catch-Up

“Sweetheart, I promise to try and not to get too white-trash. Living here is gonna make it hard, but I’ll do my best”.

Husband - Jan 1st, 2010

Not really the New Years Resolution I was expecting to hear out of Husband’s mouth and after the initial shock and horror of discovering that being nonwhite-trash is a constant, daily struggle for him, I was grateful for his honestly & trust and I promise, with all my heart, to be the perfect sponsor and work tirelessly to keep him on a path NOT bound for 8 Mile.

But lets deal with the obvious, my lack of blog presence this Festive Season. It really has been a jam packed Christmas with very little downtime. But I’m not complaining, not in the least. I got to catch up with my extended family in Boston, then my parents and younger brother flew over from Ireland for a week to hang with us at our new home. Time with family, no complaints there.

If I was one of those annoying voice-over disclaimer people you hear at the end of radio ads for new cars and bank loans, my Christmas would sound a little something like this (please imagine it read at high-speed, ala disclaimer dude)

  • Day before Christmas Eve, leave work, fly to Boston.
  • Christmas Eve start the morning off with a little cross-country skiing, cos least we forget, it snows in Boston at Christmas. Last minute shopping. Dinner with all my Boston in-laws. Meet newest nephew, 6 week old James and play lots of basketball with other nephew, almost 2 yr old, Paul.
  • Breakfast at brother and sister in-laws. Opening of gifts. Play a little more basketball with almost 2 yr old, Paul. Power walk before big Christmas Day feast. Relax the rest of the evening on the couch with mother-in-law watching marathon “Law and Order” episodes, perfect.
  • Day after Christmas Day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland, fly back to Atlanta and wait the arrival of my parents flight from Ireland. But alas, delayed, delayed, delayed. Final arrival time, 1.30am, yes, the wee hours of Sunday morning.
  • Later, as in a much more reasonable Sunday morning hour, parents and brother meet Dexter, and re-met Fintan. Stroll around the house and surrounding areas. Power breakfast of eggs and bacon, then boat tip on the lake.
  • Monday & Tuesday Shinks had to work, but Wednesday I took my parents and brother to “Dialog in the Dark” exhibition. If this exhibition should come to a town near you, go, its amazing. The premise behind the exhibition is to experience life as a blind person. You are in total darkness with nothing but your cane, your 4 remaining senses and your guide, who by the way is an actual blind person, to help you navigate your way from room to room. It really is amazing and a big eye opener if you will, to the daily challenges of being blind. After that we drove to Chateau Elan for some lunch and a tour of the winery, complete with wine tasting, yummy.
  • Thursday, plenty of shopping and dinner to bring in the New Year.
  • Friday, parents and brother fly back to Ireland.

And there it is. The Christmas catch-up. Hopefully that explains my serious lack of blogging and my efforts to get back on track. It really was a great Christmas and I got to spend plenty of time with some of the most important people in my life. Now I’m looking forward to a New Year full of possibilities and challenges. My big wishes for myself heading into 2010 is to step outside my comfort zone more. To do things that scare and intimidate me. To take a few more risks. I believe I’m risk avert by nature so I’m working on dipping my toe in the water of risk a little bit more in 2010. I also want to be more positive. Believe it or not, most who know me will probably believe, but I am prone to a little skepticism and negativity. So this year I will be challenging myself to view things in a more positive way.

I wish myself luck and lets see how it goes.

Here are a bunch of snaps from my parents visit.

My brother, Dad & Husband prepare the boat for lake launch.

There they all go, happy out.

There was no way Dexter was getting left out of the action.

Lovin every minute of it.

This is Chateau Elan where I took my parents for some lunch and a tour of the winery.

This is the part of the tour when we got to taste plenty of wine.

Bottoms up!