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Friday, June 24, 2011

This is Your Brain on Running

I have now done four official runs in my lifetime. The "Edinburgh Half Marathon" twice and the "Arden 9" twice. Also, I meet Char about three times a week for an afternoon run. You could say I run semi-regularly.

HOWEVER, please don't call me a "runner."

First reason: Running SUCKS. It sucks. It has sucked all along. Running sucks. It's gotten more bearable now that I am "in shape," but only just. Every time I run it's still agony. I don't deserve the title of "runner" because I suspect that real "runners" actually enjoy it. I definitely do not.

Second reason: Runners are small, type-A bald men with the world's whitest thighs. Does that sound like me? I hope not!

So why do I do it? I must confess that it feels really good once it's over. The endorphins rumor is true. They exist and they make you feel spectacular- relaxed, yet invigorated at the same time. Running has a bizarre way of putting your mind in perspective. Also, it keeps you from suffocating in your own fat rolls. If you're anything like me and you enjoy a good tub of movie theater popcorn, running is pretty much a necessity.

First rule of running: pose when you see a cameraman (as seen above).
The alternative is looking TERRIBLE, like you're melting, in every picture.

I actually think I could be a decent runner if it wasn't for the fact that I HATE running. Unfortunately, my brain won't let me forget it.

For example, observe my brain during the "Arden 9" race last Sunday:

00:00:00 I feel great. This is going to be GREAT!

00:00:02 Woah, this instantly feels much harder than it should.

00:00:12 I think I am having a bad run.

00:00:30 This must just be a bad run.

00:00:40 It’s an off day. Sometimes you just have an off day.

00:00:50 All I can do it my best. My legs are so much shorter than most people's.

00:03:00 COME ON! That woman has cellulite and a water bottle belt. At least beat her!

00:24: 00 YES! Water station ahead! An Oasis in the desert!

00:24:10 Take a sip!

00:24:11 Take a sip!

00:24:12 Why is this not working?

00:24:13 It’s splashing everywhere!

00:24:14 I’ll just throw it on my head instead.

00:25:00 I feel refreshed. I feel AMAZING.

00:26:00 Maybe I’ll average 7-minute miles and surprise everyone!


00:40:00 Just quit.

00:45:00 Just quit.

00:50:00 Just quit.

00:55:00 Just quit.

01:00:00 Just quit.


01:13:30 Terrible idea. Stop sprinting immediately.

01:14:00 YES, free granola bar.

So there you have it. My neurotic brain is certainly my biggest downfall. If I could only get past that, I'd be winning races all over the place!



Monday, May 16, 2011

Camp Stories

Summer camp, in all of its cultish glory, ruled my life for 13 years. Beginning at age 9 as a camper at Camp Don Bosco and ending at age 22 as head cook at Camp Gallagher, I spent my summers at camp eating grilled cheese, making friendship bracelets and not showering. Running around the woods all summer under the facade of employment was the funnest and I was lucky enough to make it out before they started pushing the God agenda.

As a tribute to my camp years, and as a way of kick-starting the summer, here are my top five favorite summer camp movies (in no particular order).

'Troop Beverly Hills'

Shelly Long leads a group of young, Beverly Hills girl scouts (including Donna Martin and that girl from Riley Kiley) to their first ever victory at the Wilderness Girls Jamboree. Speaking of Shelly Long, she was almost unrecognizable when she was on Modern Family. I only knew it was her because of that distinct voice of hers.

Best quote: "Patches? We don't need no stinkin patches."

Best scene (The Freddy...fast forward to the :38 mark)

'The Parent Trap' (the original)

Both my parents idolized Hayley Mills back in the day and when watching The Parent Trap, it's easy to see why. Anyone who can pull off that haircut is one charming gal.

Best quote: "Let's get together, yeah yeah yeah."

Best scene
(just the first 21 seconds).

'The Parent Trap' (the remake)

Starring a likable Lindsay Lohan (before she became the 49-year-old she is today), this is a fantastic remake. It also makes me really want to live on a vineyard ("A what-yard?" "A vineyard- it's where you grow grapes to make wine.").

Best Quote: "Oof, Ice Woman!"

Best scene
(I have always wanted to do this...fast forward to 6:34)

Also, check out this clip featuring a girl that I have always thought resembled a young Jody Norwood (fast forward to the 8:51 mark, she's playing the hand slapping game and wearing a green sweatshirt).

'Wet Hot American Summer'

For the summer camp counselor, this movie just cannot get any better. Letting the campers roam free while you weasel your way into a trip into town- I can relate to that. Despite being somewhat unknown, it has quite the all-star cast (Molly Shannon, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Ian Black, Paul Rudd, Amy Poheler, David Hyde Pierce, Bradley Cooper, Christopher Meloni).

Best quote: "Douche-bags are hygienic products; I take that as a compliment. Thank you."

Best scene.

'Camp Nowhere'

This movie is actually terrible (it has more cringe-worthy moments than every Julia Stiles movie combined, which is saying something), but it has two magical elements: Christopher Llyod and kids getting to do what they want with no rules!!!! YEAH!

Best quote:

"Who's this?"

"Winston Churchill- Jimi Hendrix of the spoken word. "

Best scene- there isn't one.

Honorable mention: "Heavy Weights"

I'll leave you with a spooky camp story that rivals that of Kalamath Man, Gravel Pit Girl and Clear Cut girl. It's the story of the Tiedman Terror and maybe it will be made into a movie some day.

Hours had past since campfire. The campers were in bed. As the last of their whispers gave way to soft snoring, a few insomniatic counselors gathered in the kitchen. Their evening had only just begun. You see, the brain of a camp counselor is unique. Cluttered with songs about tea-drinking pandas and lanyard weaves, they are starved for peer-to-peer conversation. Even the most polite of counselors cannot resist the urge to yell "FUCK" the second they are out of camper ear-shot. That night was no different- the counselors were craving a bit of nocturnal adventure in the remote south Puget Sound wilderness.

After taking down a final mouthful of four-layer bar, they were off; up the hill, away from camp and toward the paved road leading into town. It's a long walk to the top, about twenty five minutes maybe. The counselors didn't mind. The post-campfire sleepiness had faded in the bright shine of a full moon and time was of no concern. As they walked, the counselors gossiped eagerly about their fellow staff members and asked the juiciest would-you-rather questions they could think of. They were carefree, for that is the default setting. Don't blame them for being lighthearted. How could they have known what was to come? Why should they have been wary about the night, those woods, that full moon?

By the time they reached Tiedman road the moon had dimmed, the temperature had dropped and it was evident that the mysterious presence of deep, deep nighttime was upon them. They sat on the road near a streetlamp. Not even the counselors themselves remember much about their conversations at the road. Some reports say one of them tried to light a firework. Others, however, say they wouldn't have had time for such tomfoolery. What we do know is that it began with the sound of an engine. Distant at first, and then growing ever nearer. The counselors jumped to their feet at the site of headlights in the distance. They stood to the side of the road and watched the jeep pass in those last few seconds of naiveté.

Then, they saw him, caught in the headlights of the passing jeep, 20 yards away, and walking straight toward them. He was tall, wearing jeans and a white tank-top undershirt. Despite being completely bald he had a tiny, well-defined forehead that lasted only an inch or so before rounding off into the top of his hairless scalp. He had sunken, bug-eyes that did not blink. His gaze stayed fixed on the group of young counselors in his path. As he walked, one leg dragged slightly behind in a Vietnam-vet-style limp. The counselors stood in silence, until one of them finally managed to squeak out the word, "run!"

So they ran. And he ran after them. His slow leg churning up dust as it skipped swiftly along the country road. As they stumbled down the hillside in flipflops and moccasins, the counselors looked over their shoulders in fear. He was gaining on them. He grew closer and shouted at them; a garbled mess of words that, though indiscernible, were clearly hostile.

They continued their pursuit down the hill, no longer looking backward for fear it would slow them down. Tears streamed down their cheeks as they ran in a petrified silence. At last, they made it to the camp grounds and, exhausted, collapsed onto the kitchen porch. The man had fallen behind and they hoped he had retreated. Not taking any chances, the counselors stood guard with kitchen knifes and a telephone until sunrise.

No one knows where the Tiedman Terror went that night, or how much he knows about the camp that resides down the hill. What we do know is that things often went missing at camp that summer, and in the summers since. A kayak, a kickball, and an entire box of Krusteaz brownie mix are all thought to have disappeared at the hands of the T.T. Whether or not these events are the extent of his terror is a matter of speculation.

Ok, I am back. That was fun. Did you guess that one of those terrified counselors was me? Well, that was indeed the horse's mouth speaking and I must say it was the most scared I've ever been in my entire life (I don't really know if that's true. I don't remember anything before I was 3, so I could have been more scared at some point.).

Now I am off to bed. Well, first I'll eat a spoonful of nutella and then I will go to bed.

Love ya, mean it,


Monday, May 9, 2011

Keen as a Bean

Mrs.Bean, the world's best school bus driver, taped a sign in the bus window that said, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." What a doll. On the last day of school she gave us all copies of the quote that she'd printed out on small bits of paper and laminated. I promised myself I would keep it forever.

I would say "and it's still hanging up on my bedroom bulletin board to this very day," but I have just learned that my room has recently been swept of any last remnants of my existence so it can be transformed into a nursery for Baby Fitz. Somehow I doubt Mrs.Bean's small laminated message made the cut.

Hmmm...this says the author is unknown, but here it is credited to Alyssa Milano.
Who to believe?

Perhaps it's for the best that this dear childhood keepsake got the heave-ho. The more I think about the quote, the more I find it misleading. Indeed, being nice AND ALSO being important is the best outcome of them all. Why not strive for both?

Here are some tips for being nice and important that I've learned from my friends/fam.

Being Nice:

Scratch other people's arms or give them back massages when they ask. (Martha Foley)

If you have a car, be grateful and offer to give those without one a ride. (Tori Mueller)

Keep bandaids handy at all times so you can instantly offer them to the wounded. (Barbie and Char)

Being Important:

Type "sent from blackberry" or "sent from iPad" at the bottom of your emails. Much cheaper than actually buying one and it has the same image-boosting effect! (Andy)

Refer to yourself as "Doctor" when making a doctor appointment or asking the Verizon rep for a cell phone upgrade. It slices through bureaucracy like a Cutco knife through an avocado. (Nancy Padden)

Unfortunately, that's all I have at the moment. I've been struggling for blog topics in what has been the inevitable comedown from my Special K winnings. Luckily, I have something to look forward to. I'm going to go to Oxford (famous university for smart people in England) for a fancy dinner at the beginning of June. Talk about being important! Also, it's a chance to debut the dress.

Well, I'm off to trade the Edinburgh blood bank a pint of my blood for a fun-sized chocolate bar (several, actually). Worth it.



Thursday, May 5, 2011


You just never know how the Internet is going to dictate your day. I wake up in the morning and can only guess as to what bizarre Wikipedia page I will be reading by 2:00 in the afternoon.

Well, guess what the Internet had in store for me today?

Kenny Loggins and his sweet, soft-rock weasel voice.

As I sit here listening to Rainbow Connection I must raise the question: Is Kenny Loggins likable? I'm not sure. But he definitely has that "it" factor, and don't you deny it. Plus, he is a WASHINGTONIAN! Kenny was born in Everett, Washington in 1948. Who knew?!

The original Lady Gaga? K-Log goes 'creepy-chic' for this epic album cover.

In other news, Char and I are yoga-ing tonight. Thankfully my "trapped wind" found its escape route this morning (it also functioned as my alarm clock). Now I can do cat pose without fear!

It's election day in the UK today. I am not a citizen and Kenny Loggins isn't on the ballot so I didn't vote. Instead I walked with Andy to the polling place and voted vicariously through him.



Monday, May 2, 2011

H-O-T-T, Hot Off the Press!

Hi Everybody!

Get ready of a Madgespace EXCLUSIVE!

I am thrilled to officially announce the completion of my autobiography! It has not yet been released, but I can offer you a sneak peek at the front and back cover. Enjoy!

Front Cover

Back Cover

As you can tell, this long-awaited memoir was inspired by my recent experience winning the Special K designer dress giveaway competition (which ran throughout the UK and Ireland). Additionally, I was influenced by the fabulous autobiographies of my celebrity peers. Below are some of my most favorite celeb autobiographies (top tip: the more awkwardly a pun in jammed into the book title, the better the book usually is):

sTori Telling
- Tori Spelling

A Shore Thing - Snooki

If it Makes You Healthy - Sheryl Crow (it's her cookbook)

Dancing to the Music in my Head: Memoirs of the Peoples' Idol - Sanjaya Malakar

unSweetined - Jody Sweetin

Miles to Go - Miley Cyrus

In other, less important, news...Osama bin Laden is dead now. You may or may not have read about it in the news. I am SHOCKED at how much people care! Seriously, I just did not think he was still that relevant. People flocked to the streets and partied in front of the White House. Could it be that we wanted to flex our patriotic muscles just a bit more than usual after being upstaged by the Brits' recent display of romantic nationalism? When I read my Facebook news feed this morning, I am not kidding you that I checked the calendar to see if it was the Fourth of July (I was half asleep and so confused). That's what I get for going to Facebook first before checking the news.

WELL, I need to shower. As I said to Char today, you know you need to shave your legs when you can feel your leg hairs blowing in the wind like blades of grass. Plus, now that I own a designer red dress, I'll probably start upgrading my life little by little. First it's the shaving of the legs, then I'll probably feel the need to buy moisturizer (they're so dry that scratching a slight itch will leave visible white lines on the skin for days) and the next thing you know I will be buying brand name laundry detergent and eating organic nut butters.

Until next time, y'all.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where the H is my Robot Vacuum?


Why on God's green earth is there not a robot vacuum scooting around my flat right now? Why isn't there a flying car parked in the driveway (besides the fact that I don't have a driveway)?

These things have been invented.


Hmm, I wonder where they came up with
the idea for this robot vacuum's design (R2-D2)

Flying car= Amazing thing

So, why have they not broken into the mainstream? The vacuum (I always Google that word to make sure I spell it right because it's just so weird with the two 'u's) I can understand. It probably doesn't get into the corners very well and scares dogs/cats.

However, the flying car seems like an ideal solution to traffic and unreliable public transportation. I just don't get it. Maybe with all the hubbub about Global Climate Change (or as it was called in my day "Global Warming") the flying car seems like a step backward? I guess as soon as someone invents a solar-powered flying car we'll be in business. OR, wow- I just came up with this- why not wind power? It makes sense. It flies through the sky where there's always plenty of wind. DERN, I'm good.

Anyhoo, check out the other things that have been invented and ignored:

The perfectly-portioned one-click butter dispenser.

One-wheeled motorcycle (invented in 1931).

Drawers inside the stairs?! My mind has just been blown.

You'll never have to curl your toothpaste tube up again!

Check out more cool inventions from ye ol' days at BoredPanda. They are all pretty wonderful.

TGIF tomorrow!!! It happens every week, yet it never ceases to be exciting as all get out. FRIDAY, folks. FRIDAY. It's the best.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Laffy Tafty

I've always had a smoldering, almost subconscious obsession with President William Howard Taft and I'm pretty sure I can pinpoint why. After some careful consideration in the minutes leading up to me writing this blog post I was able to conclude that, yes, it is because he was the fattest president ever. Of course. I mean, what a legacy! The second reason: he had a custom-made bath tube. I LOVE baths!

Look at his official White House oil painted portrait. That guy had a belly on him. To give him some credit, though, Wikipedia says he lost about 80 pounds after he left office. Way to go Tafty!

Taft's custom-made bathtub!

Anyway, the portrait makes me wonder when "full-figured" people stopped wearing their pants (trousers) over their gut, and started wearing the waistline right under the gut. At what point in history did that moment occur?

Also, what looks better? Wearing the waistline up near the belly button makes the portly individual appear to have a ginormous bladder. However, wearing it underneath the belly leaves it all to hang out. Thoughts?

Hey! It looks liked the BBC has already tackled this issue. They always beat me to it! Check out their jazzy compare/contrast photo:

According to the article it was around the turn of the 20th Century (when people started to wear lounge suits...HA) that waistlines began to fall. And they have ebbed and flowed since.

Well, we've all learned something today. Now it's time for me to make some tea and watch some Glee. Ugh, I HATE unintentional rhyming sentences.

Love ya,


P.S. Look at the d'angelos on that "trendy teenager!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vocation Sensation

Warning:This cartoon has nothing to do with the rest of the blog, I just like it.

Last year as I was writing my horrendous dissertation as part of a horrendous course to get a horrendous degree, I would continually whine to Andy that I "should have learned a trade." Though I have since emerged out of the depths of my dissertation despair, I still daydream about what my life would be like had I not decided to get a liberal arts education pursue and education for education's sake.

If I were a flight attendant: I would give a free beer or a glass of wine or a snack to the passengers I thought seemed nice. I would tell them that every time I fly I pull a random seat number out of a hat and give that person an extra treat. I would tell them that today is their lucky day.

If I were an architect: I would build an apartment building and have separate garbage and recycling shoots built into each apartment. Finished with that diet coke? Just open that circular-shaped door in the wall that is labeled "aluminum" and toss the can down the shoot!

If I were a doctor: I would be a gastroenterologist/psychiatrist combo and mainly just listen to people tell their stories of woe. Most of my prescriptions would be telling people to "take a vacation from their problems" (Dr. Leo Marvin, 1991) and for the occasional suppository laxative.

If I were a teacher: I would barely ever give homework other than watching the news/reading the newspaper. I would read out loud to them in the afternoons. Two Fridays a month we would play heads-up-seven-up and eat microwave popcorn!

If I were a mechanic: I would start an oil-changing franchise in the UK or Ireland because people only change their oil once a year over here when they have to get their MOT test. What? Yeah, I don't understand it either.

ANNNYhoo, I can only dream of such things and be grateful for the fact that somehow I make money while sitting in my bed all day long. And I am grateful! It's 3:02pm and I still haven't changed out of my pajamas. How wonderful!



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Being an Adult>Being a Kid


Description of last Saturday night:

Andy and I went and saw Doug Stanhope do some comedy, went to the pub and played on the electronic quiz machine, bought a pizza from a chip shop, then ate it in bed while watching episode after episode of the West Wing.

There seems to be a consensus that childhood is the greatest and you should "enjoy it while you can" and blah blah blah. Well, compare my description of Saturday night with the following generic description of a kid's Saturday night:

Can't invite friends over because a friend spent the night last night. Eats a dinner of his parents' choosing. Watches an hour of TV because that's all that is allowed. Plays outside in the backyard but is forced to come inside and go to bed just as it's getting fun.

Hmmm....I will take the first option any ol' day of the week. Being an adult is wonderful. Nobody ever told me that! I don't have a bedtime, I get to make money and then I get to spend it on what I want, I get to vote in elections and, most importantly, I don't have to do homework!!!!!!!!

Kids do, however, have some things up on adults. For instance, experiencing insane levels of excitement on Christmas morning, not having to pay taxes, fast metabolisms and having all of your essential needs (food, shelter, clothing) provided for. Aside from those four things, life actually gets BETTER as you get older. So, if there are any kids out there reading this (there aren't), don't worry too much about "enjoying childhood while you still can" and don't buy into the propaganda that life is a downhill spiral once you hit 18. Not true!

Hasta la vista,


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Magic Eye

Nǐ hǎo,

Every time I went to the orthodontist I would try to do the Magic Eye that was hanging on the wall in the lobby. After several attempts I finally pretended that I saw the sailboat (word had gotten out by that point) and convinced myself that you either have it or you don't when it comes to doing Magic Eyes. So, I haven't attempted one since...

UNTIL NOW. Dun dun dun.

Here goes nothing...

Nope. Nada. And my eyes hurt now. I gave up and read the answer. It's nothing even close to what I maybe thought I saw (a mermaid on a rock). If you want to know the answer I will post it in a comment.

If you didn't figure it out, make yourself feel better by looking at these nifty optical illusions.

This one's a classic. Young lady looking away? OR, old lady with a witch-like nose?

Andy discovered this one on Lamebook yesterday. The girl looks naked, but it's just her friend's arm! YIKES.

I hear there is a US Celebrity Apprentice going on right now. Sounds like I have some megavideoing to do!



Monday, April 4, 2011


Yo yo ma,

The other day I had the misfortune of viewing three of my idols, Joshua Lyman, Toby Ziegler and President Josiah Bartlett, in a YouTube video of a commercial they shot years after the West Wing ended. I was stunned by Josh's sagging jowls and Toby's sunken cheeks. To be frank, they looked like they had one foot in the grave. They looked over the hill. They looked OLD.

Here- check it out yourself.

Since watching the video the first time I have recovered from my shocked and realized that when the video was shot a significant amount of time had passed since their youthful West Wing days. It's the same as when you see any celebrity years down the road. I remember seeing a video of Judy Garland in her later years and being stunned by her wrinkles and gravelly voice.

Guess who this is?


She's the last person you'd suspect would get old. But she did. We all do. And you know what? I am OK with it. I'm looking forward to aging gracefully like a wise old Japanese woman (better start drinking some green tea) and I can't wait to not give a rat's arse about anything because I've "been everywhere" and "seen it all." Exciting!

I have, however, laid out a few ground rules for my personal aging process. I advise you to follow suit.

1. Moisturize the face frequently
2. Never give up wearing colors and patterned prints
3. Play chess and do crosswords to keep the mind buzzing
4. Avoid wearing "young persons clothes" such as low-rise jeans after the age of 40, but never shop at stores solely aimed at the middle-aged, such as Talbots.
5. Remain open to learning new technologies
6. Never have hair longer than shoulder length after the age of 50
7. Smile as much as possible
8. Exercise, even if it just means swimming because the joints can't take running or walking
9. Travel to warm climates and soak up the vitamin D
10. Dance to tunes from the good ol' days
11. FLOSS and brush the teeth often. Toothaches are THE WORST

Well, I am going to scan the blogs and then hit the hay. Also, I am back on Twitter now. I didn't break from Twitter like Amanda Bynes or Miley Cyrus (both of whom are back on it now), but I simply forgot about it completely. I've been tweeting tonight and enjoying it. Look out for @grassyllama if you know what's good for you.



Saturday, April 2, 2011



It's Sunday. This usually means I will cry about something trivial, become extremely restless, and then sit in my running clothes for about an hour thinking about going for a run. Andy noticed this pattern in my behavior on Sundays and was kind enough to share his observations with me. I think it happens because I am sad about the weekend ending. WELL, today I am going to stop the insanity (a la Susan Powter) and break the trend by BLOGGING my sorrows away. Plus, it's a wonderful sunny day here in E-burgh! We're starting our half-marathon training in a couple hours and I'm actually looking forward to it.

I've been doing some wikipediaing recently. My particular interest has been the world's anomalies, aka FREAKS OF NATURE.

Here's what I've found.

Mammals That Lay Eggs:

The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals on earth that lay eggs. These little freaks look like regular mammals, but when it comes time to have a baby they lay eggs like a HEN! WHAT? Yes, it's true. Then, once their babies hatch, the platypus and echidna suckle their young as if they were one of us. What wonderful, crazy guys! Here's to the platypus and the echidna- they truly broke the mold when they made you.

Foreign Accent Syndrome:

Ever heard of a disease that makes you a racist? Well, foreign accent syndrome infects people with botched accents that make it sound as if you're constantly making fun of another culture. It is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.

The Dancing Plague of 1518:

Way back in the day in what was then the Holy Roman Empire, a bunch of people started dancing and just couldn't stop. We've all been there. Just when you're about to call it a night, Kelly Clarkson comes through the speakers and before you know it you're back on your feet, toe-tappin and finger snappin away. Well, these folks got the dance fever real bad. So bad, in fact, that some of them died from it. They would dance for days without stopping and this went on for a month! If Armageddon ever seems imminent, give me a Delorian and take me back to 1518 where I can die doing what I love!

WOW. I have to pee. Why did I put it off for so long? Ultimate laziness. Well, see ya next time!


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