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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Disappointed in the Academy

Are they ever going to give Scorsese an Oscar? Seriously, I have plenty of respect for Clint Eastwood. But Clint already won for Unforgiven. I have to admit I haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, mainly because that Hilary Swank just irritates me. Speaking of which, I can't believe she won another Oscar. I wanted Kate Winslet to win. But I am happy that Jamie Foxx won for Best Actor. Oh, and I didn't like the way they made the non-actor people accept their awards from their seats or all stand up on stage in a herd.

Taxi Driver...Raging Bull...Goodfellas...Casino...and many more. Why doesn't this man have an Oscar?

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Adventures in house hunting

John and I started driving around looking at potential future neighborhoods today. I was so excited to get started on the home buying process, I was like a small child on Christmas morning. We didn’t get off to the greatest start – we live in a very expensive county – and the first area we went to check out was a big disappointment. We went way the hell out in the country to a spot which I thought might be promising. But the townhouses out there were either shack-y looking or cost $400,000+. And we don’t have $400,000 to spend. So that was a little on the depressing side.

But then we went a little farther up the road, where the situation started to look more promising. Well, first we got a little lost. And by that point we were so far out in the country that once we missed our exit, we had to drive a ways before we could get turned back around. But once we figured out how to get where we wanted to be, we found three neighborhoods that we liked. And there are a couple more developments out there we didn’t get to see yet. Plus there are a few places closer in that we still have to check out. The whole notion of us actually buying a place is starting to feel real. It’s thrilling.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Makeup Poll

I don't wear makeup very often. For one thing, I'm not a morning person, so bothering with makeup is very low on my list when I'm trying to get ready for work in the morning. And on the weekend I'm more likely to be hanging out with John and Seamus, who don't care whether I wear makeup or not. Hell, they probably don't even care if I wash my hair -- as long as it isn't gross or anything.

Anyway, I was putting makeup on over the weekend, and realized that everyhing I have is very old. Years old. And it is time to replace it. Pretty much all of it, except for the lipsticks.

And I need your suggestions. What are your favorite makeup products?

Please keep in mind that I do not need blush, as my rosacea gives me a rosy glow.

Also, I am not willing to spend $47 on a Chanel lipstick. I am willing to pay a premium for products that are not tested on animals however.

So, what've you got for me?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

All Hail the Long Weekend

I had a lovely three day weekend – jam packed full of fun and good times. I actually kicked off the weekend on Thursday night, when Laila and I went to dinner and to hear Judith Warner talk about her new book. That was very interesting and deserves its own post, which I will write later.

Friday was John’s birthday, and we celebrated with a Gentleman Jim’s pizza (John’s favorite, and also a favorite of one Mr. Frank Sinatra) cheese fries and homemade peanut butter chocolate cake. And presents of course. Can’t have a birthday without presents. On Saturday we took a drive in the country and had some delicious Mexican food for dinner. We also discovered that there is an Indian restaurant in Frederick, so if we end up having to move there, at least there will be something to eat.

Sunday was Laila and yoga day. I love getting to hang out with Laila and Noah. I wish I could find the words to express how much I admire Laila for handling single motherhood the way that she is. It’s not easy and certainly not the life she expected to have, and yet she’s a good mom, with a sweet and wonderful boy.

Monday was the day that made the weekend great. I was so nervous because we were meeting with the real estate agent and the mortgage guy, and I was convinced that they were going to laugh and point and tell us we couldn’t afford enough of a mortgage to buy a shed in someone’s back yard. But it went great! We qualify for more money than we thought we would. So now we’re starting on neighborhood research. It’s all very exciting. I had to physically restrain myself from spending the entire day at work looking at real estate listings online today. I was pretty strict with myself though, so I did manage to get some work done.

I wish every weekend could last three days. Particularly when the three days are like the ones I just had.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Saffron is my gang color, yo

I accidentally started a fight with a comment on someone else’s blog today. I feel awful about it. It’s like the person whose blog it is invited me to a party and I got drunk and insulted her friends. And I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings, which I never want to do. Do you know what the worst part is? I was talking about art.

Specifically the Christos the Gates installation in Central Park. Which I haven’t even seen in person, but which I think look quite nice in photos and on TV. And I like the meditative feel of the orange fabric and the way it contrasts with the park and moves in the wind, the notion of art that is open to all people, and the fact that Christos felt so strongly about the Gates that he raised the money to do it himself.

The question of whether or not that money was well spent was raised. I firmly believe that it was, for as I said in my comment, people have needs that go beyond food and shelter. At the same time, I’ve wrestled with the feeling that we should make sure all people have enough food to eat, roofs over their heads, access to medical care etc… before we go spending money on missions to mars and so on. I don’t know where exactly to draw that line. But I do applaud people who use their money to enrich the lives of others instead of just acquiring more possessions.

So, Laila, if you’re reading – I think I managed to outgeek you twice today. I mean, really, who starts a brawl about art?

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Don’t count your quarters before they hatch

I was reading this article online today about how there is a defect with some Wisconsin quarters that makes them worth up to $1,500. I immediately started getting all excited, because I had knew I had three – three! – Wisconsin quarters in my wallet. Yes, I am the dork who looks at her change and says “Oh look, Wisconsin quarters. I haven’t seen that quarter before” to the sales clerk. Who naturally could care less and just wants me to stop going on about the coins and get out of the way.

But I digress. My point is that I was about to come into some easy money. At $1,500 per quarter, I could turn $.75 into $4,500! That’s like a 500,000% return. Awesome! And the timing would be perfect what with us trying to buy a house and all.

The one problem with this beautiful windfall? It turns out I have perfectly ordinary, only worth $.25 quarters. Sigh.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Always go with your first instinct

My weekend was insanely busy. So busy that between the two yoga classes, the surprise party (Happy Birthday Valerie!) the dinner with John’s mom, the brunch with my mom and the Tupperware party way out in Centerville (or, as I call any place I have to take Route 66 to get to, Hell), I had no time to cook anything, much less put together any sort of lunch.

I made my way to Whole Foods at lunchtime today, thinking that I wanted these Asian style noodles they make. I also wanted cake, but I pretty much always want cake. Who doesn’t? Sadly, when I got to Whole Foods, they didn’t have any of the noodles. After having a small internal tantrum, I decided that I will not be denied, so I went in search of the ingredients to make my own, peanuttier version tonight. This led to me wasting a bunch of time in the Asian food section, trying to decide if I wanted to Soba or Udon. In the end I just bought linguine. That’s probably some sort of gourmet crime (inauthentic noodles!), but whatever.

By this point I was starving, so I wandered back over to the prepared foods aisle. Where the 5 layer Mexican dip caught my eye. I love that dip. It is so tasty. However, that stupid voice in my head that tries to get me to make wise nutritional decisions just wouldn’t let me buy dip for lunch. Not even the small container. So we compromised and I got a bean and cheese burrito. Big mistake! It was awful. I don’t know if they switched to a new burrito maker or what, but the burrito was so spicy I couldn’t eat it. It was full of these very tiny pieces of some sort of very spicy green pepper. I spent about half an hour trying to pick the little pepper bits out, and then gave up and threw it away. I knew I should have gotten the dip. Or cake.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Wild Night

Thursday night was awesome. I was up way past my bed time with two of my best friends in the whole world – Jules and Laila. There was flinging of food, singing, wrestling, nudity, and someone peed in a corner. Were we partying with rock stars? Nope. We were hanging out with toddlers. Replace peeing in the corner with puking and you’ve got a description of many a night from our college years …but times have changed.

Jules was passing through town on her way back up the coast, so we all gathered at Laila’s for the evening. The toddlers were Jules’ little boy Malcolm and Laila’s son Noah. We got the kids fed, and then they ran around the kitchen while we ate. And then we played hide & seek, toddler style, ran around the island in the kitchen a bunch of times, took all of the toys out of the cabinet and then put them all back in, had little tiny ice cream sandwiches, and climbed on chairs. I refereed a fight over a toy. The kids enjoyed running around naked. I learned that toddlers are very fond of the words “no!” and “mine!” Plus they are very dramatic, but luckily, also easily distracted.

After the kids went to bed, the three of us sat around and gabbed. It was a wonderful night. They only way it could have been better would have been if I had a kid of my own running around with Malcolm and Noah. Well, that, and if it could be a regularly occurring kind of evening. But Jules lives in New Hampshire now, and I’m pretty sure Laila is going to go back to California. I miss my friends when they are far away. And it makes me sad that I’m not going to be a part of Malcolm and Noah’s lives except on an occasional basis. But at least we got in one more wild night together.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

100 Things About Me

I wrote this 100 Things post for my new blog, but I'm posting it here so you all can see I'm not some sort of slacker, and I really am working on this new blog. Which I've decided will probably be simpler than I had originally planned it to be. But not so simple that it doesn't have a cool photoblog, because Zoot has offered to create one for me. She's cool like that. So here are 100 facts you may or may not know about me.

1. My name is Hillary.
2. I’m a Pisces.
3. I’m in my early thirties.
4. My hair is curly, and blondish.
5. I am 5ft 1 ½ inches tall.
6. That ½ inch is very important.
7. My husband’s name is John.
8. We’ve been together for almost ten years, married for almost three.
9. My dog’s name is Seamus.
10. He’s a beagle. And he’s adorable.
11. We got him from the pound.
12. I’m extremely liberal. Socialist even.
13. My husband is even more liberal than I am.
14. I’m a vegetarian.
15. A vegetarian who does not eat fish.
16. So, no, I can’t “just have the tuna sandwich”
17. I have a degree in art history and political science from Wellesley College.
18. I love art and I can go on about politics for hours.
19. So naturally, I’m a marketing director for a company that publishes investment newsletters.
20. I write copy and work on our e-business development. Among other things.
21. Bad Penguin is not my first blog.
22. I had one called Hilldery that I closed after I got outed at work.
23. Because the outing was followed by a call from the VP of Human Resources.
24. I live just outside of Washington DC.
25. 10 minutes from the house where I grew up.
26. I love being at the center of all that is familiar.
27. My husband would rather live in Canada or Ireland or travel the world in a camper, having adventures.
28. Someday we probably will try living somewhere else.
29. But right now we’re trying to buy a house here.
30. And have a baby.
31. I really want a baby.
32. And I wouldn’t mind another dog.
33. I have a brother named Tim.
34. He’s 12 years younger than I am.
35. He’s far away in Asheville, going to college.
36. When I was in college, I spent two summers working as a park ranger.
37. At the White House (aka Presidents’ Park) and the JFK Birthplace (a National Historic Site)
38. It was some of the most rewarding and worthwhile work I’ve ever done.
39. My parents are divorced.
40. They hate each other, and are much happier now.
41. Sometimes they are very juvenile toward each other, which makes me nuts.
42. My father is a little crazy. Sometimes he combines the crazy with religion.
43. This has made me very uncomfortable with most organized religions.
44. Except Buddhism. Well, and Quakers and Unitarians.
45. A Unitarian married John and me. He helped us write our own ceremony.
46. I read a lot.
47. I’m willing to give almost any kind subject matter a try, but it does have to be well written.
48. I probably read science fiction and mysteries the most.
49. But I like non-fiction too.
50. I’ve recently taken up knitting
51. I like it, but I can’t do anything very complicated yet.
52. I also love to cook. I’m pretty good at it.
53. Becoming a vegetarian has really expanded my culinary horizons.
54. I am a fabulous baker.
55. I entered the Pillsbury Bake-Off once, but they didn’t choose my recipe. Even though it is amazing.
56. Those Pillsbury people can be short-sighted bastards.
57. I used to speak French fluently, but since I don’t have anyone to speak it with, I’ve forgotten a lot.
58. I have been to France twice.
59. The first time I went to Paris and Tours.
60. The second time to Paris and Perpignan.
61. Both trips were awesome.
62. I am not a very good sleeper. It takes me a long time to fall asleep. And everything wakes me up.
63. My mom can fall asleep in two minutes. And everyone else in my family sleeps like they are in a coma. It’s very annoying to me.
64. Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?
65. Music is very important to me.
66. I’ll listen to just about any genre.
67. But my favorites tend to be in punk rock, alternative, the blues and rock n’ roll.
68. I started taking yoga classes about six months ago.
69. I took to it like a duck to water.
70. But it is harder than it looks.
71. I studied ballet for years, so luckily I was already pretty flexible.
72. When I was 16, I played Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the ballet version of the Wizard of Oz. I was also one of the daughters of the rainbow.
73. Ok, the first 69 weren’t that hard, but I’m running out of inspiration.
74. Purple Monkey Dishwasher.
75. There, a quote from the Simpsons. I can pretty much always find a way to tie the Simpsons in to what is going on.
76. If I were a character on the Simpsons, I would probably be Lisa.
77. Yep, I was kind of a geek.
78. Well, in middle school I was a geek.
79. By high school I was a tough punk rocker, but I still had geeky tendencies. And a goody goody reputation.
80. I had great friends in high school.
81. Particularly my friend Laila, who is still one of my nearest and dearest.
82. My college crew – aka my bitches – are like family.
83. That would be Jules, Julie, Ariane and Carri.
84. I wish we weren’t scattered all over the east coast.
85. Jules and I once played checkers with shots of tequila. That was a bad idea.
86. When she went into labor with her son Malcolm, John and I drove all night to be with her.
87. I was going to write something about each of them, but then I remembered this is supposed to be 100 things about me.
88. My favorite Sesame Street character was Snufflelupagus. I probably spelled that wrong. I should’ve gone with the Count, but that would be a lie. I liked him, but he wasn’t my favorite.
89. I do, however, have a bizarre fascination with vampire stories and movies.
90. The same goes for Jack the Ripper stories and movies.
91. Speaking of Jack the Ripper movies, I’m a fan of Johnny Depp. (From Hell)
92. Ok, now I’m just getting tired and loopy.
93. My parents were very restrictive when I was growing up.
94. They once made me turn off an episode of Silver Spoons because they felt it was getting too racy.
95. I’m not kidding.
96. So as I got older, I lied to them a lot.
97. It was the only way I ever got to leave the house.
98. But now I’m a very honest person.
99. I’m also a very clumsy person.
100. A very clumsy, short, curly haired liberal person who has finally made it to 100!

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Random bits

• First of all the weather. I mean, holy crap, global warming is real and we are all screwed, because the weather, she is fucked up all over the world. And at the same time, holy crap, I love this weather! Do you know what I wore to walk Seamus tonight? A long sleeved shirt and a little sweatshirt. And I could have gotten away with less. It is so nice and warm out.

• Second, is it odd that I find it slightly offensive that someone I thought was my friend reads and comments on a blog I introduced her to, but never comments on mine? I realize I’m not as good as certain other bloggers, but damn, I don’t suck that much.

• Third, does anyone else find Karl Rove as scary as I do? I already hold him responsible for many of the Bush administration policies I find most repugnant, so it isn’t terribly reassuring to see him getting more power.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Musical meme

So BMH picked me to do this meme, which actually comes as relief, cuz I've got nothing else to talk about. I have had a week that was both very busy and extremely boring. I don’t think even the most talented writer in the world could have made my week interesting or amusing. It hasn’t been particularly good or bad. Just a long slog with lots o’ crap to get done. So without further ado, the music meme:

1. Song that sounds like happy feels: My Blue Heaven

2. Earliest memory: Singing Burl Ives and Peter Paul and Mary songs with my mom. I was also a big fan of singing with the Count on Sesame Street, which is ironic given my hatred of math.

3. Last CD you bought: Concrete Blonde Live in Brazil, which was a disappointment.

4. Reminds you of school:
Elementary School: This one is sad, but one of the teachers died when I was in 4th grade, and they sent us home early. I remember hearing Kenny Rogers’ the Gambler on the bus on the way home. I also remember hearing Kiss and Pink Floyd.

Junior High: Duran Duran and Prince (Purple Rain)

High School: The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, the Clash, the Jam, Madness, the Police, 10,000 Maniacs, and REM. This list could go on for hours, so I’ll stop now.

College: Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, various local Boston bands, Melissa Ethridge, Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, BB King and Led Zeppelin.

5. Total music files on your PC: That are mine? Not even one. I have no idea how to download a song. My husband, on the other hand, has about 15 bazillion.

6. Song for listening to repeatedly when depressed: Bonnie Raitt -- I Can’t Make You Love Me. Also, Kasey Chambers -- Water in the Fuel. And in my dramatic teenage years, Blasephemous Rumors by Depeche Mode.

7. Song that sounds British, but isn't: Lunatic Fringe, Red Rider
8. Song you love, band you hate: I don’t really hate them, but I’m not a huge fan – Ripple by the Grateful Dead.

9. A favorite song from the past that took ages to track down: Man on the Corner, by Genesis from the album Abacab. I insisted I remembered this song from the 80’s. My friends said I was making it up. One day, one of them heard it on the radio, and I was vindicated!

10. Bought the album for one good song: I’m sure there’s more than one, but I can’t come up with a single example.

11. Worst Song to Get Stuck in your Head: Oh, there are so many. I’m going to go with Lovin’ You by Minnie Ripperton.

12. Best song to dump a beer on someone's head to, then storm out of the bar? All I can come up with for this one is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps. Which is about running out of a bar, but not storming. Or maybe Chain of Fools.

13. Who should do this next? I'm going to say Claire, and Mylissa. I haven't seen either of them do a meme in a while.

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