Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5 New Year's Resolutions I Can Live With

I’m definitely not a New Year’s Resolution kind of gal. For one thing, January 1 isn’t always a convenient time to make a plan. For instance, say you have a large outstanding amount of money in invoices and no one pays you in October. I don’t think I’d better wait three months to resolve “to keep better track of the billing process.”

Unless of course I develop a fondness for hiding from the IRS, VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AT&T, Direct TV, Insight, National City Bank …

Then there’s this whole “I blew it” guilt because I didn’t stick to something I vowed to do, which somehow is more binding if you write it down on January 1 as opposed to April 17.

But now that I have a blog, and I’m under pressure to write something here twice a week even if I’m taking time off basically waiting to dismantle the tree on Friday, I’ll take the easy way out. Here are 5 goals I promise to live up to in 2009:

Maybe I'll get ambitious and add "getting Barbie out of the box" to my 2009 list of goals.

1. Exercise more.
A trick resolution on my part, because if I get up out of this office chair to fix myself another Pepsi one more time a day, that qualifies as “more exercise.”

2. Eat right.
Ha! I'm a card-carrying Republican. I don’t vote left, I don’t eat left.

3. Take time for reflection.
Done! I just made a note for my cleaning gal to really Windex the mirror in the bathroom next week.

4. Save money.
This one is actually fun. I cut out a coupon for a $25 iTunes card free with a $100 purchase of HP toner cartridges at Office Depot. Now I’m off to stock up.

5. Post twice a week.

A nobrainer ... over at Uptake, that is. It's in my contract so I have no choice, and they're paying me. Hopefully on time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What I Got for Christmas

… is proof that my husband has the attention span of a cardboard box.

Now this is not a long-winded rant on how he can’t buy a decent gift, because on that score, Ron makes the gift-giving hall of fame. He remembered I wanted an armoire jewelry stand long after I’d forgotten it was on my list and ta-da! It appeared covered in what had to be an entire roll of wrapping paper under the tree Christmas morning. Along with a pair of kitchen shears and an omelet pan from the dollar store that he said were clues — thank goodness they were merely red herrings because anything in a big box that goes with kitchen shears and a pan wouldn’t win an award in this house.

An extra round of applause because he looked for a sale before throwing his credit card across the counter.

While I was still feeling all warm and toasty about my guy, he hit the mall with me today to order new glasses while I touched every pair of pants and sweater at J.C. Penney's after-Christmas sale. Naturally his errand was much shorter than mine, so he suggested he take an elevator ride up to the men’s department and pick out some shirts for work, since he was bored anyhow.

Wow. A husband volunteering to buy his own clothes. I should have died happy at that point.

And he was quite proud of his purchases when we got home, too. There was the obligatory pair of tan Dockers — he has like 25 pairs of them in the closet — and a pair of dress blacks. A light blue shirt that screams, “I’m a guy and I had to buy a shirt so I got this blue one,” and then his big score of the day: a pumpkin-colored Van Huesen dress shirt. Please, please tell him it would go with his black pants because the sales clerk said it would.

I was too busy glancing under the Christmas tree where that exact same shirt was lying there, unwrapped, in its box. His answer to the question “Does this look familiar?” was a puzzled stare, with a slight trace of panic starting to set in.

So I started at the beginning: What color shirt did my mom get you? He was more confident now. “The IU one.” Wrong answer. That came from my brother’s family. So Ron slid his eyes over toward the tree and guessed navy.

It was green.

Then I asked what color shirt he opened from me just two days ago. The glassy-eyed stare was back, so I threw him a bone: the one with the black tie? Came in a see-through box? You really liked it?

“Did you get me a shirt?” he finally responded.

Now, I could take the obvious route and get him a lobotomy. But instead, I think I’ll sneak the shirt back into the Christmas tub and wrap it up next year. He’ll never have a clue.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Tail End to the Season

I volunteered to dog sit my friend’s Labrador/Irish Setter/Golden Retriever mix while they visit family for the holidays. That’s hardly noteworthy, as Sean spends a lot of time over here and is the only dog my Dribbler tolerates in his space.

We’ve known Sean since he was a pup, so we’re well aware he was taught not to go upstairs and thus whines something fierce if you head to the upper regions of the house without formally inviting him to follow. We know this Marmaduke of a dog thinks he’s lap sized and wants to cuddle constantly.

He can’t eat table scraps and if he gets out of the gate, he loves to play chase. He’s scared spitless of thunderstorms and despises water of all sorts: swimming pools, puddles, showers, hoses. Sean does adore car rides, other dogs, and people, enough so that he lets us throw confetti all over him on New Year’s Eve.

No ornaments were harmed in making this photo

So this weekend doggie play date didn’t trigger any special alarm bells. I had his arthritis pills in my coat pocket and a few extra chew bones in the drawer. What more could I need?

Well, stupid me. I’m out of super glue.

In the first 12 hours, Sean has managed to destroy the bottom half of my Christmas tree. The first time he flat ran into it when my dog started a game of chase — for which Dribbler promptly found himself in a stay position to calm his excited, holiday-hyped self down. (Sorry, fellow dog lovers. The bigger the dog, the slower the jog.)

Not 30 minutes later, Sean stopped smack in front of the tree and begged to be petted. Twap! His tail took off the koala from Australia, a green rocking horse and the little outhouse that opens to display Santa on the john. When my husband came home, Sean again begged for attention in that same spot — did I mention he likes people and he’s stubborn? — and wham! The Pillsbury Doughboy took one for the team.

The next victim is when I started to get ticked. Sean’s tail assaulted the little fuzzy bear with his megaphone. That bear is a senior citizen, having first appeared on the tree in 1984, when the store won our business by offering half the cost of an expensive Mountain King brand in free ornaments. Not to mention he was going A Rod on the green rocking horse – no youngster itself — and sending it 10 feet across the floor.

There’s a dog this morning that can give you another, less positive, definition of “get outta here.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Disney On Hold

How to kill time while on hold waiting for the next representative at the Walt Disney World agent line to take your call:

1. Visit every social networking site and invite more people to link to you for no apparent reason other than to look wildly popular.

2. See if you can climb your feet up the side of the desk without moving your butt.

3. Forward 14,568 bad jokes to everyone in your address book.

4. Buy more Christmas gifts on eBay.

5. Shave your legs using a tweezer.

6. Open iTunes, select Straight No Chaser's 12 Days of Christmas, and crank it loudly enough to drown out whatever lame pop star Disney has squalling in your left ear. (Yes, they really have 9 million hits on Youtube. I'm now responsible for roughly 1 million of those.)

7. Let the dog in. Let the dog out. Let the dog in. Let the dog out. Let the dog in ... let the dog pee on the stupid carpet already.

8. Ask yourself why you’re killing time instead of killing someone for putting you through this.

9. Read the entire Outlander series.

10. Write a blog post.

Whew! I'm the next caller in line. That's great because I just added my receipts from the impromptu shopping spree, and I could have bought a week at the Dolphin for that kind of money.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Flight Plan PSA

I am finished with airline travel for 2008, and I don’t foresee heading back to the airport until at least May. So although my time in the sky is now on hiatus, out of the kindness of my heart, I have a few tips to pass along to make your holiday flights and winter escapes even merrier.

It starts with the boarding process: Assume everyone will have the two allowed pieces of carry-on luggage. One will be at the maximum size you can get by with – and it will have wheels. These suckers fit only in the overhead bins because they can’t slide under the seats. If there are, say, 132 passengers, this means 132 pieces of big luggage need space in those small bins.

Got it? Then let’s take a little quiz. Where would you put your purse? Your briefcase? Your tote? Your small duffel? Your backpack? Your shopping bag? Your coat? Your toiletry bag?

On my farewell 2008 flight to Las Vegas, 131 people flunked, because they chose the overhead bins. (Except for the toiletry bags. That was a trick question. You can’t carry that many bottles of liquid and lotions on board these days. ) So, the last passengers have nowhere to put their luggage, thus they stand in the aisles with a half-dazed look until a flight attendant takes pity on them and begins to repack overhead bins to make room for their wheelies.

This of course means the flight can’t pull away from the gate on time and 132 people are now either squeezed beyond reason on their connections or will miss the next flight altogether.

OK, now that everyone is aware of the need to be courteous to their fellow travelers, let’s kick it up a notch. If you want to recline your seat, that is your right unless you are in the exit row, where you already have twice as much room as the rest of us and therefore should refrain from hogging what little space the peon behind you was granted. But please don’t shove it back during the beverage and snack portion of the flight. You will jam a tray into someone’s stomach and spill their orange juice. And maybe that person can’t change clothes for hours and hours and will just have to sit there first with sopping wet jeans from trying to clean it up and then with sticky residue that makes them fuse to taxi seats.

Listening to an iPod is an admirable way to pass time during the flight. But what would possess you to start an imaginary drum solo complete with crashing flourishes? Your elbow has no business getting that closely acquainted with your seat companion’s nose. If you can’t resist temptation, just sing already.

Finally, when you rise to use the restroom or get your stuff out of the overhead bin that you were so eager to cram up there in the first place, do not grab the back of the seat in front of you for leverage. You have two armrests for that purpose, and they don’t suddenly snap a fellow passenger’s head back like a slingshot. I was sleeping, pal.

I’m sure you have a few etiquette suggestions to share as well. Recommendations for getting orange juice out of sequined jeans are also appreciated.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hairy Dilemma

I owe Yumi a big, fat apology.

My latest “what did I get myself into” moment started in the shower in Las Vegas when I discovered three of the links on a strand of my hair extensions had detached. It doesn’t sound serious, but believe me, the result is a hank of hair hanging lopsided down your back, with this big tab sticking out the back of your head. Fake hair is hard enough to make look good without that little complication.

So it’s a panic moment when you are on the other side of the country from your stylist .

Then reality struck: I was at the Mandalay Bay, in the heart of the entertainment strip. If you can’t get help with hair extensions in a five-star hotel, where can you? I called the Robert Cromeans salon from that formerly useless phone on the bathroom wall – yes, they could take me right away and make everything good as new.

The last time I heard that, I dropped by a salon in Santa Monica to correct a hair cut mistake I’d not noticed before heading out on vacation. That gal whacked up my do so badly, it took my hair two years to grow out of it. So you understand when I said I piddled around pushing the down elevator button to carry out this idea, even though I was standing there with my hair still dripping wet on the carpet.

Yumi was just as cheerful and sweet as that SM stylist, which really put me on my guard. But she competently reattached half my head back there, explaining why it had all gone wrong, and then brought up a good point: We should check to make sure the other links weren’t weak, since it would be more expensive to make a new appointment if they broke, too. She would just blow dry/round brush my hair and kill two birds with one stone.

So I sat there with my eyes closed, torn between saving money and the realization that she was straightening my beautiful French curls into exactly what I didn’t want: long, thin, straggly, ugly hair. I knew this was going to go all wrong, again. It was disaster tugging at my scalp.

But I’m here to tell you that Yumi made magic with all this hair, to the point I nearly cried when I had to wash it out 48 hours later. Not to mention had I left it curly, I would have looked like some kind of Marie Osmond groupie sitting in the front row of her concert that night, as she has the same length, style — and probably extension brand.

So, should I fly to Vegas a couple times a week to have Yumi fix my hair or find her a job in Indianapolis?

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Julie Sturgeon Blogs to Enjoy

Now you can catch my sarcasm twice as often.

Yes, in addition to sharing whenever I get around to it at Get Outta Here, I’ll be appearing every Tuesday and Friday afternoons over at UpTake.com. UpTake is someone’s great idea to consolidate comments and ratings floating around on the Internet on myriad hotels, restaurants, and travel activities into one comprehensive site.

It’s my number one stop before I book any domestic hotel for you, because I’m all about saving time on my research. And I’m not about hearing a tirade because I booked you in a roach-infested room with hookers outside the window and drug dealers screaming at each other all night long. I saved that lovely gem for myself in Los Angeles.

Anyhow, UpTake has signed me as one of the official contributors to its restaurant blog, where I’ll give you my personal low down on what’s happening on the central Indiana dining scene. That translates mainly to opinions about chain restaurants, which I know folks across the United States and 47 other countries around the globe can relate to.

And it’s a rare week when I’ll give you a mere restaurant review. You’ll get the spicy version, full of attitude and wise cracks. Because let’s face it: Yes, we all appreciate a nice evening, complete with ambiance and a good-looking person across the table, sharing a bottle of wine. That’s dining — and most of us eat out. Let’s embrace what makes our everyday lives stand out, or we’ll wind up missing the whole ride.

So do me a favor and click the RSS subscribe button there just like you did here. Technology will keep you up to speed without any effort on your part, and you can always delete the posts you don’t want. Heck, send me straight to your spam filter if you want to keep your email box clean. But when you need a laugh, you know where to find me.