Mrs. Hogan Goes to Raleigh

I know it’s not quite as Capra-esque as a visit to Washington, but having Mrs. Emily Furr Hogan herself here in my very townhouse was definitely a highlight this week. Mrs. Hogan, it seems, booked a trip to NC, was very excited to have nearly two whole weeks with her family, then got to WILKESBORO!!!!! and realized there’s only about a week’s worth of visiting that can be comfortably done there. After that, without some buddies with whom to get into some mischief, it’s just boring. Plus, I think the snow covered up all the sidewalks and driveways she might have wanted to sidewalk chalk, so she had to get out. And I am just honored that she chose to come visit me!

So we had a little reunion last night at dinner – Emily, Julie, Jessica and myself representing Wilkes County – and Amaris and W-Josh rounded out the group nicely. Knowing as much as they do about my childhood and adolescence, they fit right in. We could flow easily in and out of conversations about our current life situations, Matt Hagaman, travel, the Wilkes Skippers, manties (man + panties), and the Wilkes Central Madrigal Singers without anyone missing a beat. Well, Emily and Jessica had never heard of manties, but we caught them right up. Besides, I think I made up the word manties back in my days at American Eagle SoHo (flagship store 81), so clearly it just needs some time to sweep the nation properly.

By the way, regarding Mr. Hagaman, Emily Furr Hogan tells me he was recently sighted wearing a sweater vest. I never thought I’d see the day.

Anyhoe, after dinner, Emily had a little surprise for me. Right there in downtown Raleigh, she pulled out of her trunk…

Tippy the 2-D Dog!

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Tippy, let me just explain (and this will give you a good idea of what all of high school was like for us even though it happened in grad school). When we were both living in NYC (Emily at Columbia and I at NYU), I had…a vision. At the time, I called it a 1-D dog until someone pointed out to me that that would just be a line. But I wanted a flat dog. I don’t know why. Don’t ask. It doesn’t make any sense, I know. Maybe I felt left out seeing all the people walking dogs around the city. Maybe I wanted a pet I didn’t have to take care of. Maybe I’m just super weird. But Emily was on board with the idea and set to work straight away.

What resulted was an image of a dog, printed once, then reversed and printed again. The prints were then mounted on cardboard and foam core and glued together with a yard stick in the middle. The yard stick comes out at such an angle that when you hold the end of it, it looks like Tippy is walking in front of you on an unusually thick leash.

We walked Tippy all over the Big Apple. We even took him to a dog park, where Tippy “played” with other dogs, which basically meant that we poked strangers’ dogs with our pieces of cardboard and foam core. I still can’t believe we got away with that. But good memories. Good memories indeed.

So Tippy now lives in Raleigh, and he is currently perched in the window by our front door, “keeping watch.” He’s a good pup.

Emily also brought me a Puerto Rican woman’s driver’s license, but that’s another story.

Teaching Keeps Me Normally Weird

I have always said that in order to be a good ESL teacher (or probably any language teacher, for that matter), you have to be at least a little bit insane. You have to be able to roll with whatever comes at you, ready to answer no matter what questions come up, ready to explain things by way of demonstration, ready to liven things up should they get too boring. In general, you have to be willing to make a complete idiot of yourself. I think that’s why I like teaching ESL so much. It allows me to utilize the skills I might use on stage, but I never have to audition. Win-win.

But what I’ve just discovered is that teaching also keeps me just barely on the sane side. When I’m not teaching, you see, I get myself into trouble because I have no schedule. And when I have no schedule, I stay up later and sleep later. And when I stay up too late, I sign up for online dating services, and that is just no good at all (I deleted my account the next morning, thank goodness). And when I don’t have things to do during the day, I spend way too much time wandering around Target. And that’s when I accidentally try on nursing bras and consider buying them. And apparently that’s not good either.

I don’t mean to pick them up. I’m just looking at styles and sizes. I don’t notice the little snappy hook things on the front until I get back into the dressing room, and then I think, “Well, as long as I’m here…” And y’all, I’m not kidding. They are SO comfortable. I tried on a regular bra yesterday, and I hated it. It was all rigid and itchy, and it corralled my bazooms in a most unflattering manner. Then I tried on a soft, comfy, cute bra that also just happened to snap open in the front. What of it?

I didn’t buy it, but I do need to go to Target again today, and I’m not making any promises. If I buy it, I won’t tell you about it, and you’ll never know I’m wearing it. That is, unless you notice how unprecedentedly comfortable I am. Then you’ll know.

Formspring Page? What Formspring Page?

Hey, remember when I had y’all ask me all those questions on my Formspring page, and then I never answered them? Yeah, woopsie. I sort of forgot about that for a while, which I suppose is fine because some of you told me you didn’t really like my Q&A times anyway. However, I left several of you hanging with no answers to your questions, and for that, I sincerely apologize. I’m going to answer two questions today because I think they go together nicely. The first question is this:

If all your hair turned into snakes, what color snakes would you want them to be? Snakes can be multicolored if that helps.

And the second is:

Would you ever shave your head for any reason? (voluntarily)

I have actually thought before about shaving my head. Back in college, I started cutting my own hair, and it was so darn addictive that at one point, I thought, “What if I just shaved it all off? That would be SO much easier.” And then I realized I’d be bald if I did that, and I have no idea what my head looks like under all this hair, and what if it’s all malformed? And then the hair would grow back, and I’d have to decide to either maintain my baldness or let it go through that awkward growing-out phase where it’s too long to just let it do its thing but too short to do anything with. And what if it didn’t grow back curly? Oh that would just be terrible!

So in the end, I decided (a) not to shave it and (b) to stop cutting it myself. I’ve found that it’s far less tempting to cut your own hair when you have a decent style you’d rather not ruin.

Snakes, as it turns out, do not fall under the category of “decent style” in my mind. If they could be shaved off, that would be the way to go. However, if for some reason they could not be shaved off – if they were attached to my blood stream/supply, for example, and if shaving them off would mean me bleeding to death – then I’d want them to be pink. Hot pink.

Easy question.

Asheville Weekend in Pictures

One of my students requested that I take pictures of my trip to Asheville last weekend and post them here (hey Sarah!), and although I forgot my camera, Josh has a pretty good one on her phone, so here we go (thanks Josh!)!

We spent Friday afternoon wandering around downtown, trying to find me a new fall look. We went into a lot of stores, this one being one of my favorites. It’s a vintage store that also carries the wares of local etsy merchants, so there’s a lot of fun stuff to play with. But back to my new look. I liked this one ok. The mohawk, the two sets of eyes, the pointy nose, the blush. I think it really works for me, don’t you?

No? Perhaps not. Ok, on to the next store.

Let me just start by disappointing you all by telling you that I did not buy this hat. I know. I’m sorry. I liked it a lot. I love hats. I just feel like there’s no good reason to wear them around here. When I lived in NY, I wore hats all the time because it was cold, and I walked around outside a lot. But here, it’s sort of pointless. You go from your house to your car to your destination and back again. You’re never outside for more than two minutes, and let’s be honest. It’s not that cold.

Maybe if the hat had been a color that I felt like I’d get more wear out of, I would have been willing to spend money on it, but I wasn’t in love with this one. However, if you happen to see a hat similar to this one in a tweed, perhaps, or a felt, let me know.

On Saturday afternoon, we took a wee hike up to a lovely lookout. The leaves weren’t quite at their peak yet, but it was still beautiful, and it was really nice to be out in the fresh air.

You just can’t be on top of a mountain like this and not spin around like Julie Andrews singing, “The hills are a live with the sound of music!” It’s just not possible.

Ok, so we didn’t actually sing, but only because there were other people up there. You’d better believe, though, that if I were up there alone, I’d sing the whole song. I’d also sing “Climb Every Mountain” AND “Edelweiss.” Oh who am I kidding? I’d re-enact the whole movie, and we all know it.

There are plenty more pictures on facebook, but that’s enough for now. We had a great time, and my friend Eden was a wonderful hostess. We got to see lots of friends, eat plenty of good food and frolic in the mountains. What more could a girl want?

Social Event of the Season

As you may already know, The Container Store is opening in Raleigh this weekend. And since I hosted that giveaway a while back, they gave me a ticket to a “private” preview party, which took place last night. L-Josh and I went, and Amaris was supposed to come too, but she got…lost? Yeah, we’ll call it lost.

Read more…

TWIT (This Week in Training)

Well, friends, after three weeks of Week Four training, I am now in Week FIVE!! L-Josh and I went last night and did the first day. Now, let me explain to you how Week 5 goes. The first day, not including warm up/cool down, we run for five minutes, walk for three, run for five, walk for three, run for five. So it’s actually less running than Week 4. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? But then they switch it up on you.

Day 2 of Week 5 changes. I’ll be running for EIGHT minutes, walking for five, and then finishing it out with another EIGHT minute jog. Holy crap.

And THEN on the the third day, I just run for 20 minutes with no walking whatsoever.

So theoretically, I’ll be jogging for 20 minutes at a time by the middle of next week. Theoretically. I haven’t decided yet whether I want to just do each day once like I’m supposed to or do each one twice to give my body more time to get accustomed to it. I mean, I know I WANT to do each one twice. I just don’t know if that’s necessary, or if it would even be helpful. Your thoughts?

In related news, I got new running shoes!!! After getting fitted and having them watch me walk, and then after trying on about eight different pairs, I ended up with a sweet pair of Saucony Rides. I have to admit, I’m a tad peeved that the store didn’t have them in pink like the website does, but I’ll get over it, and hey, in a few hundred miles, I’ll need a new pair, and then I can just order them online in whatever color I want.

I inaugurated them last night, and I’ve got no complaints so far. They definitely feel different from my old shoes and make me use different muscles (or the same muscles in different ways), which made me get tired, tight and sore in different places. But I can already tell that they’re better for me, and that’s all that matters.

I’m told that the next few weeks are the hardest to get through, soooooo…any encouragement you want to give in that time would be more than welcome, and I’ll keep you updated along the way!

SCARVES!!!!!!!!!

As you well know, fall is my favorite season, my favorite fall activity is accessorizing, and my FAVORITE fall accessory is the scarf. I have many, many scarves – two or three drawers full of them. I’ve looked through them many times thinking I ought to give some of them away, but I can’t seem to part with any of them. And NOW, scarves.net is GIVING AWAY free scarves! It’s just insanity, I tell you! So head on over there and see if you can get one. Or if not, just come over to my house. I’ve got plenty.

AAAARGH MONDAY WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?!

I swear, y’all, time has sped up exponentially today. I don’t know what’s happening. The weekend felt all slow and lazy, which was amazing, and then this afternoon has flown by at warp speed, leaving me with MUCH to do and very little time, so here’s a quick rundown of what I was going to say more elaborately if I had more time:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DLF!!!!!!!!!!! I’m SO glad I got to catch up with you today. I will try to make my life more interesting for next time. (Note to self: Travel the world. Make appointments with highly respected musicians and ambassadors. Also, find boyfriend asap.)
  2. Dear WillyMac, I am very slow in my training, so although your math skillz are, I’m sure, quite good, I’m still on Week 4. I’m going to do it one more time before going to Week 5. Wish me luck.
  3. I went running on Saturday. I hadn’t had enough water, and it sucked. My legs felt like lead. Lesson learned: Drink plenty of water before going running (and also, pee immediately before going).
  4. To everyone who’s been concerned about my hair since Friday, it’s much better now. MUCH. It’s still settling into its groove (or whatever that thing is that hair does for the week or so after you get it cut), but I think the cut is respectable. We’ll just have to work on Dayle’s styling techniques.
  5. L-Josh and I started working on our Halloween costumes. I can’t tell you what they are, but suffice it to say that they’re extremely awesome so far.

The end.

How to Style Curly Hair

I know I have discussed before the many reasons I do not like to get my hair cut, but I don’t believe I mentioned this: I have yet to meet a stylist who can style my hair in such a way that my first priority upon leaving the salon is not to go home and re-do it. Some of them don’t do a bad job, but I just know that the product they use at the salon is no match for my hair, and that it won’t look good any more in the 20 minutes it will take me to drive home.

And then there are some who are just completely clueless. Here’s how I came home today:

Josh and I took several pictures, and this one came the closest to capturing the enormity of my luscious locks, but it still doesn’t quite get it. When I pulled up in our parking lot, she had just gotten home herself, and when she looked at me, it took her several minutes before she was able to stop laughing enough to get out of the car. Here’s how he styled it:

  1. Shampoo/condition – Ok so far.
  2. Apply a “curl activator” from roots to tip – Because that’s what makes it curl. Seriously, y’all. I don’t know how I’ve ever done without this stuff. I’d have stick-straight hair without it. Oh wait…
  3. Scrunch in a styling “mud” – Ok. Let’s talk about this for a moment because that kind of stuff is not made for scrunching. It’s made for twirling or sculpting, but not scrunching.
  4. Dry COMPLETELY with a diffuser – You do not dry curly hair completely, diffuser or not. Why? It does this.
  5. Run hands through multiple times with an anti-frizz serum – By this point, an anti-frizz serum would just be cowering in the corner, helpless to do anything.

Those of you who have curly hair have been cringing at every step since step 2, and those with straight hair don’t quite understand what I’m talking about, but for anyone who’s interested, here’s how you do it.

  1. Shampoo/condition
  2. Apply leave-in conditioner
  3. Apply styling product of your choice (gel, cream gel, mousse, pomade, whatever works for you). Run it all the way through all your hairs. Make sure they’re all covered. Then gather them all together so you have one big curl.
  4. Now you can separate them. Take several 1/2-inch pieces of hair and twirl them around your finger to define the curls.
  5. At this point, I scrunch in another little bit of gel.
  6. If you want to blow-dry it a bit, do so with a diffuser. Don’t dry it all the way, though. Just do a little.
  7. Now stop touching it. Don’t run your fingers through it. Don’t brush it. Don’t separate your curls. Just leave it. If it starts to dry all flat against your head, and you want more volume at the roots, flip your head over and shake it a few times. Don’t be all up in it with your hands.

Take it from me, guys. I know what I’m talking about.

Where Do You Draw the Line?

I have tattoos on my wrist and a piercing in my nose, and to me, this isn’t much, but I realize that other people see such body modifications as unprofessional, unattractive, unsavory and even un-Christian. I’m fine with that. You can see me however you want to. But I think it’s interesting how everyone has drawn their own line beyond which they think people take body modification too far. For some people, the line is at hair dye or ear-piercing. Others may go as far as sleeve tattoos and purple mohawks. And for others, there is no line – anything goes.

I’m not saying anyone’s line is in the wrong place. I’m just saying I think it’s interesting. I can’t think of anything else that we treat this way. Not exactly. I mean, we all have different style preferences and ideas about what is appropriate, what’s not appropriate, what’s fashionable and what’s just freakish, and the fashion acceptance continuum is fairly similar to the body modification one. But it’s somehow different, perhaps because clothing is so temporary. It’s one thing to wear a dress made of meat; it’s quite another thing to tattoo your face to look like a sirloin steak.

Why we care, I do not know. What’s it to me if you want to wear a button-down shirt with a game fish print on it? It’s your body, it’s your money, and it’s your image. It has nothing to do with me. But we ARE somehow offended by bad fashion and even more so by bad, permanent fashion. Is it possible that somewhere deep down inside, we know that we’re all connected, that we’re all part of the same family, the same human organism, and that the people of WalMart‘s fashion choices somehow affect all of us?

And by an even larger token (if that’s a phrase I can use in English), is it possible that tattooing your whole body to look like a tiger, having your face surgically altered to have a more cat-like shape, and having all your teeth pulled out and replaced with tiger fangs is not ok? Is it possible that those decisions don’t just affect you, that it’s not just your body, money and image? Or would those kinds of thoughts be judgmental?

I mean I get it. I really do. Self-expression, freedom and accessorizing are all very important to me, but there are some things I do not understand, including:

  • stretching your earlobes to a point where you can wrap them around your head like a sweat band
  • tongue-splitting
  • the insertion of objects under the skin, especially the ones on the forehead that make you look like you’re growing horns
  • the piercing, splitting or insertion of any object under the skin of the genitalia
  • suspending your body from hooks through your skin
  • having designs sliced into your skin with a scalpel
  • surgically altering your body to look like another species

Now, before anyone asks, yes, all those things are real. And if you’ve done any of them, I’m not judging you. I just don’t get why you’d want to. I suppose that’s how you know where your line is drawn.

Anyhoe, all this came about because I watched a documentary last night about body modification that was both intriguing and stomach-churning, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Feel free to share your thoughts if you can do so politely. And mom, just know that what I’ve got is nothing. I had no idea that people did some of the things they do, and I can promise you right now that I will never ever do 99.9% of it. For serious.