Sunday, September 8, 2013

Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Kat Gone?

A blog post!  I'm writing a blog post for the first time, in, like, 3 months!!!  Can I get a woot woot?

Where have I been and what have I been doing, you might ask?  (Please...ASK, or this will be really short.)  Since we last spoke, my life has been a series of magical, mystical, wonderful opportunities and wacky adventures, such as the internet has never known.  Fasten your seatbelts, folks:

NEWSFLASH 1 - In a few short weeks, I will become MRS. THOR!  I know, right!  Can you frickin' believe it??!!  Thor and I are getting married in early October, and then we're going to HAWAII, BABY! 

NEWSFLASH 2 - My youngest, The Boy, has decided to live with his father for this school year.  Yes, it's 150 miles away. Yes, I miss him horribly.  Yes, I feel like a rather substantial chunk of my soul has been torn out.  However, at this stage in his life, I think it's actually a good decision for him.  I can't even TELL YOU how much I owe to Allana Pratt, my life coach, for getting me through this - for making this about empowering my son to make decisions, and for NOT making this about me and what I want.

NEWSFLASH 3 - After 3 1/2 years, I'm a little over the blogging thing.  I don't mean that I'm never blogging again; far from it.  I will probably be increasing my blog posts substantially after I get back from my honeymoon. THAT WOULD BE IN FREAKIN' HAWAII, BABY!  Anyhow, what I mean is, for my newest project, I'm not going to blog about it.  I'm going all "super legit real grown-up writer" on it, and I'm writing a book.  I won't be writing about it for you as it happens.  Instead, I'll be using my blog time to sharpening my writing skills, to complete my fear-facing checklist, and to keep on with restaurant reviews.  (This assumes that once I become Mrs. Thor, we still go out to dinner.)

I've tried the "write a blog then turn it into a book when you are done" thing.  It did NOT go well.  Admittedly, the one I tried to do it with was my Robert Downey blog, and that was one of the worst years of my life....I wasn't Jonesing to relive all that bullshit.  I thought I could; I did it for, oh, 36 hours and decided that moving on with my life and having a healthy mind was more important than selling tens of books.

I didn't come to this decision lightly, or quickly, for that matter.  I ruminated over it for a couple months before it occurred to me that I actually have a normal, healthy relationship with a member of the opposite sex for the first time in my life, and HE could offer ME some insight and advice!!  Who knew that's how it worked?  So I hashed it out with Thor.  Do I blog my project?  Do I not?  Do I just dump it all?  How many more "anonymous" comments from douchebags do I really need in my life?  He summed it up in a nice, tidy Thor package with this sentence:

"Are you a blogger, or are you a writer?"

So there you have it.

NEWSFLASH 4 -  I've got a book project.  It's a "Kat does something she's never done"-type project, and I started on September 1.  A few people in my inner circle know about it.  But here's the kicker - I don't know if I'm supposed to TELL people about it.  When I blogged, the project du jour was live - you heard about it as each milestone was reached.  But now...I don't know how this part works.  Do I advertise it to the world?  I need a real memoir writer to tell me what to do here.  Gawd I wish AJ Jacobs read my blog.

I know that a real writer does read my blog.  So, calling CHELSEA CAIN, NY TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR - who put on her Facebook page that I'M HER FAVORITE BLOGGER - what do I do?  Do I tell everyone, or do I keep in on the down low?

And now we wait....

After 4 newsflashes, I think you are pretty much up to speed. I'm excited (as usual) to start this new phase.  I'm excited (as usual) to see what direction these blog posts take.  I'm excited (not as usual) to get married. 

By the way, dearest reader - you are welcome to leave your vote on the "tell or not tell about the project" question.  I cherish all input, even from sources other than CHELSEA CAIN, NY TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, WHO SAYS I'M HER FAVORITE BLOGGER AND ONCE WROTE A LIFE-CHANGING NOTE IN MY BOOK THAT SHE AUTOGRAPHED FOR ME. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Penmanship Is Awesome.

So, when was the last time you wrote something in cursive?  I mean, besides signing your name on your grandma's birthday card.  When was the last time you actually wrote out entire sentences in cursive, real cursive, not some bastard form of cursive/printing?  Come to think of it - when was the last time you wrote an actual full sentence that didn't involve a computer? 

Ah, the age of computers.  The clicky little keyboard has completely destroyed our ability to write with a pen and paper.  Our penmanship has been denuded, deforested; our ability to communicate now precariously perched on a flimsy technological branch, which, while incredibly fast and convenient, requires only a slightly distracted driver smashing into a power box 2 miles away to send us crashing to the ground like an aged spotted owl. 

You can't remember how to actually write in cursive?  Shame on you.  But, alas, I was rapidly forgetting it, myself.  So I decided to conquer my fear of my horrific south-pawed scribbling and re-learn cursive writing.

I went to The Best Place on Earth and bought this book:

I tried not to be offended by the notion that its target audience is the average American 2nd grader.  When I was in the 2nd grade, I had like a 10th grade reading level.  So I figure, now I'm an adult - I'm entitled to regress.

As you know my fondness for the writer's greatest crutch, the Bullet List, I offer to you:

What Kat Learned While Practicing Her Cursive

1.  For all you purists out there who are freaking out about how they aren't teaching cursive in school anymore, and how it's certain to cause the downfall of Western civilization and a spike in teenage pregnancy - you need to know that they don't make the letters like they did when we were a kid, so that ideal you are so vehemently defending no longer exists anyway.  For example, check out the capital Z, and my complete inability to form it:


Everybody knows the capital Z has loopy loops in it.  According to the obviously ill-educated drafters of this workbook, there are no loopy loops.  In fact, you will be nauseated to learn that the loopy loops which used to precede the formation of almost every capital cursive letter have gone the way of the 8-track.  (Both losses equally tragic, in my humble opinion.)  Being rather, uh, inflexible - I stuck with loopy loops.

2.  The secret to effective cursive writing is...wait for it...letter spacing.  You can still form your letters like you just picked up a pen for the first time 15 seconds ago, if you spread your letters far enough apart.  Look at how nicely I wrote "see" and "sing".  I didn't remotely form the letters correctly, but they are spaced far enough apart so as to make them legible.
3.  What you use to write with makes a HUGE difference.  After trying pencils, ball-point pens, felt-tip pens, and fountain pens, I have to say - fountain pens win, followed closely by pencils.  Ball-points skip around, and felt-tips wear out too fast.  I personally write with disposable fountain pens and have for a few years.  I use them at work because a) they have a great ink flow; and b) people who come into my office and grab my fountain pen to make a "quick note" will drop it like it's Snoop, because they don't have a clue how they work - and I hate it when people touch my pens.  Win-win.
4.  When you sit in the break room at work with a cursive workbook and write capital S's during your lunch hour, your coworkers tend to shy away from you.  Permanently.
Here are the fruits of my labor.  I think my penmanship has, in fact, improved.  What do you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Puh-KEW Puh-KEW Puh-KEW!!

Yes, I'm still alive.  In fact, I'm alive, well, and sitting in Thor's living room, typing away on his desktop pc.  (He still has one of those...isn't that CUTE!) 

What have I been doing, you ask?  Where have I been hiding?  What wacky adventures have filled my waking hours? 

You noticed I was gone, right?

So, here's the sitch.  My much-maligned laptop was freaking out on me, so my computer expert son and I decided to switch computers.  (He is an "expert" by virtue of the fact that he's 14, and I'm 43.)  He took my laptop, restored it, and happily went on his way with my enhanced graphics card.  In turn, I received HIS more basic, restored laptop, which should have had me happily blogging.


So, his laptop lasted, oh, 10 minutes before it completely died.  At this point, I don't even think it will boot up in safe mode.  I did have the option of taking my laptop back, at least long enough to pound out a blog post, but then I got sick.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I GOT SICK.  I NEVER, EVER, EVER GET SICK.  Well, hardly ever.  Maybe once a year, and only for maybe 48 hours.  But this time, dearest reader, I was sick for four days, and hacking like the Marlboro Man for 2 more after that.  THEN The Boy left for the summer, taking said functional laptop with him.

I love you all - more than you know - but drafting an 800-word blog post on a Kindle with one finger...not my idea of a good time.  So I took a little break, got my proverbial act together, and badda bing, badda boom, here we are.

I have a review pending for you - the Italian Kitchen Restaurant.  However, I personally think in the interest of fairness, that Thor and I should go back there and re-do the experience so that I can give you a fresh perspective.  That, and the restaurant was freakin' amazing.  So that gives me an excuse to get another smokin' yummy meal.  I brought this up to Thor last night, and he gave me the usual skeptical brow raise.  I climbed up on my blogger soapbox and proceeded to preach a fire-and-brimstone sermon about fairness, the integrity of the project, and my driving need for constant and never-ending improvement.  At that point, skeptical morphed into sardonic.

"That place wasn't cheap."

I reassured Thor that we don't have to go again anytime SOON, as we still have 115+ places to go.  So there you have it, dearest reader.  The Italian Kitchen goes back into the mix.

So back to what I wanted to talk to you about.  I wanted to tell you my theory about why I rarely get sick.  It's my brain.  I have a germ-repellent, disease-killing brain.

I was just trying to remember the last time I took a prescription.  In the last 10 years, I recall taking 1 prescription pill.  Not 1 PRESCRIPTION, just 1 single pill.  Then I felt better.  So I didn't take any more.  I take over the counter stuff, but I rarely go to the doctor.  I haven't taken a round of antibiotics since the last century.   Instead, I activate my germ-slaughtering brain laser.  Seriously.

When I feel a cold coming on, or any other state of germy nastiness, I follow this process and I get better.  I get comfortable, I close my eyes, and I picture in my mind the white blood cells in my body attacking whatever intruder has dared to invade Katland.  The whole thing looks like a game of Asteroids, with my germ fighters blasting off rockets at the virus cells - Puh-KEW Puh-KEW Puh-KEW.  I even imagine the sound.  I picture my cells defeating the sickness and strengthening my body until I am well.  I always figured, what's it going to hurt?

"So, Kat, you just said you were sick for 4 days!  Where were your magic lasers at THIS time??!!", you mockingly inquire?  Well, I am convinced that my sickness hung around for extra days this time because I've been eating like a 14-year old boy.  You see, at my new job, my boss gives me all the prepackaged food I can eat, all day long.  Massive amounts of processed crap.  I am attempting to learn my lesson, and have since been incorporating more fresh, raw stuff into my diet.  Guess what - my skin is clearing up, I feel better, I anticipate my pants will get a little looser again, and I'm in a better mood.  (Thor can chime in here to confirm if he likes.)   You can't expect your Porsche to purr when you feed it gas from Circle K. And just let me point out that everyone I gave my cold TO is pretty much still phlegmy and coughing. 

Laugh at my germ-slaughtering laser brain if you must, dearest reader.  Laughing will give you something to do to pass the time when you are in line at the drug store getting your Amoxicillin refill.  You won't see me there; I'll be having an awards ceremony for my triumphant immune system, a la the last scene in Star Wars.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where Is My Typewriter?

My sincerest apologies to all affected by my recent absence; in particular, The Italian Kitchen, whom I visited last week and have yet to post my review.  My laptop has, well, decided that it wants to pursue a new life in the non-electronic world (meaning I think it might be dead), and typing a blog post on a Kindle really sucks.   Anyhow, please forgive our technical difficulties.  I think I am back up and running now.  Please re-bate your breath and come back on Friday for my review.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eating Spokane - Max at Mirabeau

On the menu: 

Kat:  Roasted Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta
       Onions, peppers, roasted red pepper coulis, jicama-apple slaw

Brandy:  Dungeness Crab & Asparagus Melt
       Parmesan, artisan sourdough, red pepper coulis, julienne fries

 My oldest daughter texted me the other day and offered to take me out to dinner for Mother’s Day.  Now, isn’t she just the sweetest little thing?  The catch – we have to go someplace in The Book, and she doesn’t want to have to pay for parking.  Hey, she’s 21 and working part-time; who can blame her?  So she came out to the Valley and we went to Max at Mirabeau.

 Max at Mirabeau is located in the Mirabeau Park Hotel, and has tons of free parking.  (Hey, it just occurred to me – I DROVE, so why was she so freaked about shelling out cash for parking?)   Anyhow, the recipe in The Book was Peanut Butter Pie, featuring a peanut butter brittle base and a chocolate truffle top.  I was wondering how small of a salad I could order and consume to constitute having “eaten dinner” so that I could go straight to the pie, when I realized that I am an adult, and if I want pie for dinner, so be it. I do adore all things peanut butter.

I am going to be honest with you – I didn’t have high hopes for Max overall.  It is, after all, a hotel restaurant.  I’ve never had much luck with those, having been subjected to the typical “well, you are staying here, so we’ll offer you some average food, it’s not like you are in the mood to leave the building anyway and hassle with driving around town” hotel restaurant.  Had the place not been in The Book, I don’t think I would have ever stopped there.  Well, guess what, dearest reader.  My assumptions were mistaken.  It was great.

The décor had a semi-noir, semi-funky feel to it, without being too precious.  The bar was open to the rest of the restaurant, freeing it from the usual “dungeon” feeling you get when going into a bar that’s part of a hotel.  Once we were seated, I talked to the manager on duty about our little project.  She had never heard of The Book, and made a point of writing the name down. 

 I decided on the Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta with jicama-apple slaw.  If you are looking for a go-to sandwich for lunch or a light dinner, I would say – this is it.  The portabello was well-prepared, not grilled to the point of mushroom death.  But let me tell you the little gem of this entire excursion – THE JICAMA-APPLE SLAW.  Jicama, for those of you who haven’t actually experienced it, has the consistency of raw potato, and to me it tastes like crunchy water.  By itself, jicama is not an impressive vegetable, but pairs nicely with a great many things.  In this case, Granny Smith apples.  The expected crunch from the jicama, followed by the unexpected jolt of tartness from the fresh apples, was over the top. As much as I enjoyed the sandwich, the slaw was the star.  A very attentive manager came over to check on us, and I remarked how out of bounds the slaw was.  She smiled and nodded, obviously having heard this comment repeated over and over during the course of her week.

 I wish, dearest reader, that I could tell you more about my daughter’s meal.  I put herculean effort into wheedling a review out of her.  Here’s what I got:

Kat:  Brandy, how is your sandwich?

Brandy:  It’s good.

Kat:  How about the grilled asparagus?

Brandy:  Yeah, that’s good.

Kat:  I really like asparagus.  It’s easy to overcook, so when it’s done right, it’s wonderful.

Brandy:  Yeah.

Kat:  So how about your fries?

Brandy:  They’re good.

Are you feeling my pain?  Suffice it to say, the crab and asparagus melt was “good”.  That’s all you are getting, dearest reader.

My daughter paid the check, like the big girl she is, and we departed.  I was a little wistful that I missed out on peanut butter pie; but, as I drifted off to sleep that night, my dreams were filled with visions of jicama-apple slaw, and I woke up to see all was well with the world.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Eating Spokane - Das Stein Haus

So, on Monday, I get a text from Thor.  “Dinner tonight?  No, wait.  Make it Tuesday.  Pick someplace from The Book.”  Tuesday, being the last day of the month, is a one-way ticket to Overtime Land in Kat’s world; we settled on Wednesday.  Thus began our adventure.

I grabbed The Book and gave its pages a cursory flip.  It was all just a formality, however – I had decided weeks ago that the first place we visit would be Das Stein Haus.   How ever did I decide, you may wonder.  Tea leaves?  A dream?  A serious Jonesing for German food? 

I had a coupon.  Case closed.

I started announcing my intention to go to Das Stein Haus to all within earshot on Monday afternoon (including the UPS Man and some lady I happened to be washing hands with in the ladies’ room).  By Wednesday morning, I had added “I’m STARVING” and “I can’t wait to eat German food” and, oh, “I’m STAAAARVING”!!!!!!  At 1:00, I was still getting little nods and smiles from the group, which seemed to become more curt as the day progressed.  By 5:30, they were replaced by the general response – “IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GO EAT ALREADY!!!”  So I did.

Since this is the coronation of a 120-restaurant series, a few ground rules.

“Eating Spokane” Rules

1.       The purpose of this project is to experience Spokane’s restaurants and spend time with Thor.  I am NOT a food critic.  If I eat something amazing, you will hear about it.  If it’s just okay, or maybe a little less than okay – well, I’m not a food critic.  I have no desire to trash any local restaurant.

2.       The book we are using, “Signature Tastes of Spokane”, is first and foremost a cookbook, featuring a dish from each of these fine establishments, which you may prepare at home to your little heart’s delight.  Either Thor or I will order the dish in the book whenever possible.

3.       I will tell the manager on duty up front that Thor and I are there to enjoy their place and will be featuring it here in cyberspace.

4.       That’s pretty much it.

So, back to Das Stein Haus.  The restaurant is located at 1812 W Francis, in a strip mall that we inadvertently drove by before we found it.  Since a large portion of Francis was completely torn up and closed, and there was a wreck on the freeway, it took us, like, 45 minutes to get there.  Did I mention I was STAAAAARVING?

Our waitress had a sense of humor that would only be considered excessive in, well, Germany.  There she is Bobcat Goldthwaite.  In Spokane, she’s deadpan and quirky.   Kudos to our waitress, she was honestly my favorite part of the experience.

Thor ventured boldly into The Project and ordered the featured meal from the Book, Pork Medallions with Apple Brandy Sauce.  He had a choice of vegetable, and as my dearest love would never VOLUNTARILY eat any vegetable – I picked red cabbage on his behalf so I could eat it.  I ordered the German Combination Platter, which consisted of Chicken Schnitzel, 3 kinds of Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and Spatzle.   For those of you who are unfamiliar with anything “schnitzel,” it’s basically breading and frying meat which has been pounded to a thin layer…the German version of a chicken-fried steak, as Thor so aptly pointed out.

As we waited for our food, we passed the time by soaking in the Bavarian décor and discussing Book 4 of the Game of Thrones series.  After passing on the opportunity to blow the wrapper off his straw at me, Thor instead rolled it into little balls and tried to toss them down the front of my shirt.  Side note, when I got home that night and put on my jammies, my bathroom floor looked like a spitball war zone.  A prime example of how classy the two of us really mature urbanites are when you get us out in public.

Our food arrived; I ate about half and decided I was too stuffed to move on.  I’m not much for brats, but we were in a German place, so I tried them.  Thor took them home.  (Another side note -at this point, I’m really hoping he remembered to take them out of his car.)  The best part?  THE RED CABBAGE.  OMG, the cabbage was wonderful.   I could have just eaten a plate of cabbage.  Really, dearest reader – I’m single, I live with a dog and a teenager, nobody will judge me in the, er, aftermath of such a meal.

Our waitress, again a seriously funny sort, brought us a slice of apple strudel to take home, as we had a pretty long wait for our food.  I ate half of it about 30 seconds after Thor dropped me off; The Boy picked at the other half.   Thor made this sort-of sad little face when I took the strudel out of the take-home bag, which I pretended not to notice.  I am, after all, the girl, and dessert is my birthright. 

Clever Waitress was also kind enough to take a picture of us, which has a definite Monet feeling to it.  As we (meaning Thor) paid the check, she told us all about the restaurant’s upcoming events…hello, they have GERMAN KARAOKE.  My response – “Well, that sounds like fun!”  Thor looked like he’d rather go back to the table and polish off the cabbage.  Different strokes, he and I.


One little disclaimer – the rules, as stated above, were still being formulated over the dinner table (between the book discussion and straw wrapper spitballs), and so I didn’t tell the staff up-front what I was doing in their establishment until it was time to go. 

 Das Stein Haus.  If any of you are up for a rousing rendition of “Rock Me Amadeus” and a plate of cabbage, just let me know, I’m totally in.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kat's Bad Day

I wish I could say “It all started when … (insert appropriate bad scenario here).  But it didn’t.  Truth be told, my bad day started DAYS earlier, rolling and festering into the massive pile of putridity known as “Thursday.”  Issues at work…feeling under the weather, but never actually getting sick so that I could actually GET BETTER…dentist appointments…building upon each other, beating me down, wearing away my shell, generally making me cranky.  By 5:30 on Thursday, I’d had ENOUGH.  So I did what any self-respecting sex goddess would do.  I hit the drive-through at Krispy Kreme.

It’s 2 miles from Krispy Kreme to my apartment, but that certainly isn’t going to stop me from immediately opening that white box. It held The Boy’s favorite – chocolate covered Kreme filled.  (yes, I know ‘cream’ is spelled with a “c” and an “a”, but they don’t.)  And nestled right in there next to his – a powdered sugar-covered, strawberry filled.  That’s Kat’s right there.

Left hand on the wheel, right hand sliding into the box, I pondered my crap week.  As I approached a red light, my elbow bent, my powdered-sugar doughnut balanced on my slender fingertips, I wrestled with the great mysteries of life.  Am I truly happy?  Am I content?  Am I using my life, my skill set, my desires to their fullest extent?  Blue eyes searched the horizon as my mind stretched for some far-off, unseen answer.  The human side of me noticed that the car’s interior was a little stuffy as the afternoon sun beat through my windshield.  As the light changed to green, my foot slid from the brake as my left hand crossed over and turned the air vent on.

There are a certain few times in your life when you find yourself ensconced in a situation you don’t  fully understand; all you know is, for the sake of your survival, you must take action IMMEDIATELY.  I’m talking about that little adrenalin-fueled mental rush when something has just happened – maybe even something really painful – when the consequences of said action haven’t fully registered with you, but your body takes action on behalf of your muddled brain.  You touch a hot stove, for example – you pull your hand away before the pain of the burn has even registered.  It was such a moment in my car on that day we will call “Thursday.”

There was air.  There was powdered sugar.  All my brain knew was, I was being SANDBLASTED by powdered sugar and action must be taken.  As my face was assailed by silky powdered air blasting my face, my mouth making a “pbbt pbbbt pbbt” noise like an outboard motor the first time you fire it up in the Spring, my evolved mind snapped through a series of possibilities.   Do I lift the doughnut out of the stream of air?  Do I take my left hand off the wheel again and turn the air off?  Is the guy who was sitting next to me at the light laughing at me?  Do I flip him off?

Within, oh, 2 minutes or so, my firefighter training shifted into gear and took control of the situation.  I put the doughnut back on the box, shut off the air, and hit the gas.  I couldn’t bear to look until I pulled into my parking space in front of my apartment.

A quick mirror assessment revealed that I was covered in powdered sugar from my nose to my waist. Oh, and I don’t mean in that “I just ate a powdered-sugar doughnut and I got a few sprinkles on me, aren’t I cute” way.  I mean in a “I just opened a cocaine brick and dumped it all over myself” way.  Irritation gave way to foreboding as my eyes drifted over to my doughnut.  It looked like a plucked chicken, oozing its strawberry gizzards all over the half-closed box lid.  Every non-microscopic particle of powdered sugar had been gusted away and unceremoniously deposited onto my sweater.  I don’t know which one of us was more ashamed.  To put it out of its misery, I shoved the denuded pastry into my mouth.  Three bites and one of us was dispatched.
I didn’t bother dusting off my sweater before I went in the house; the sheer volume of powdered sugar made that endeavor pointless.  In his excitement over the appearance of the coveted box, The Boy didn’t even notice my condition.   I made dinner, I took a bath, I went to bed, disgusted with the world in general.

Then – guess what?  Friday rocked.  The rockage of said Friday to be written about very soon. 

Next time – maple bar.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You Can't Wear Spanx With A Bathing Suit.

Well, crapola.

I have to say the hardest part of this whole lifestyle thing is - drinking all the water.  I drink water - a little.  Maybe 48 oz a day.  Now my goal is 75 oz a day.  I am either drinking or peeing at any given moment.

And Jillian - seriously, babe.  Your "Week 1" workout is going to take me about 3 weeks to master.  I cannot hold a plank position for that long.  And when you tell me that 300-pound people do it for you all the time, well, that doesn't seem to be helping.  However, since this is a marathon and not a sprint, I see no reason to move on to the more difficult workout before I can complete the first one with good form.  Jillian would agree with me. 


We gots us a little situation.

Thor and I are going away for a lovely weekend at my favorite Small Town.  We will be joined by one of his closest friends and his wife.  Reservations have been made at the nicest place in town; I'm planning my winery stops and shopping excursion;  a good time will be had by all.  Anyhow, the other evening I was at Thor's, daydreaming about this super-amazing weekend, and he chimes in.  "There's a hot tub AND a pool.  Make sure you bring your suit!"


I now have to be swimsuit-ready by Mother's day weekend.  This was not part of the plan, my little chickens.  Moderately nauseous, I texted my accountability partner, Kas.  Her response:

"Start running."


So Jillian and I might be getting a little more up close and personal that I originally intended.  But you know what?  My legs will look amazing, my tummy will be flat(ter) and Thor's jaw will hang slightly loose at the sight of me, all of which are GOOD THINGS.

Bring it.  We are fast tracking, baby.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Time for a Jillian Throwdown.

Alas, the time has come to face our fear of all things Jillian.  I was going to wait until this summer, because let's face it, everything is easier in the summer - but my jeans are too tight NOW.  So after careful deliberation, I've decided to move it up to MONDAY.

Here's the plan.  I've come up with a set of "healthy lifestyle" guidelines, which I will follow until I reach my goal weight.  It could take a month (doubtful) or maybe two (much more likely).  My friend Kas, who has seen me through pretty much every major life event since 1987, has agreed to serve as my accountability partner and bust my metaphorical balls as necessary.

You are HIGHLY encouraged to join me!  Without further ado, I present:

Kat’s Super Amazing Personalized Lifestyle Plan
  • Daily movement with Jillian, minimum 30 minutes
  • No fast food (meaning fried/processed)
  • Latte (sugarfree/soy) allowed once per week, coffee from home the rest of the week
  • Drink water - half body weight in ounces daily
  • Pack lunches and snacks for work, no junk food during the work day
  • Avoid processed food whenever possible
  • No beef, no pork, no shellfish
  • Weigh once per week
  • Liberty call one 24 hr period per week for diet and exercise each– no restrictions on eating on diet day, can skip exercise on exercise day.
  • Check in with Kas once per week with status of these bullet items and weight.  Allow her to beat me with a stick if necessary.  She is allowed to check on me whenever she wishes.
  • Violations:  Each violation will result in a $10 fine, which I will have to donate to the **** ***** ******* Church Men’s Ministry, the most evil thing on the planet.  Well, maybe not the MOST evil, but certainly in the top 5.
(Said entity shall remain nameless, for two reasons - first, I'm a class act; and second, if you know me personally, you know which entity I'm talking about, and if you don't know me, well, I can't imagine you care.)

I figure, when I'm struggling to get out of bed at 5:45 a.m., the thought of donating money I can't spare to a group that I find morally reprehensible should get my tuckus moving.  I read that in a "ways to motivate yourself" article online, and the guy who wrote it was a big fan.  He actually gave $100 a pop to the American Nazi Party, and as I recall, he only wrote 1 check. 

So tomorrow I will email Kas with my official starting weight.  And away we go, baby.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What It's All About

Congratulations to my friend Kas, for correctly guessing the meaning behind my amazing poetic work.  Of course, she is my oldest friend, so she's got a bit of an edge over the rest of you.

I wrote the blog post, below, back in the Spring of 2010.  I absolutely, positively cannot believe that 3 years have passed.  Anyhow, this is what my poem was about.  My son is the tree, the eight leaves representing the eight years between September 11, 2001 and September 27, 2009 when I sent my son to war.  As long as I live, wherever I go, whatever I do - I will never, never forget the soul-wrenching pain of that day. 

I've been thinking about my son a lot lately.

My son, Chris, is a very quiet 20 year old. He's taller and thinner than me, and I think he's handsome. I wouldn't say he's shy; instead, I think that it just doesn't occur to him that a conversation would be an appropriate thing at any given time. He would be quite content to spend the entirety of his day in front of a screen of some sort, be it the TV, computer, or game console, while taking the occasional bathroom/meal break.

My son is also currently sitting somewhere in the vicinity of the Bagdad International Airport. He's a soldier, and he's at work.

I try not to follow the news; in fact, if I hear anything about Iraq, I intentionally shut down and go someplace else in my mind. I don't want to hear about how many people were killed. I don't want to hear about civil unrest. I don't want to know that more/less troops are being sent over. I don't even want to hear anything positive. I just don't want to know, so don't tell me.

I get an e-mail from Chris about every 3 to 4 weeks. It usually consists of less than 100 words, in which he tells me that he's bored and everything is fine. These e-mails constitute all of my contact with my son.

I haven't spoken to him on the phone since the day before he shipped out, which happened to be a Saturday afternoon. My 40th birthday had fallen on the prior Wednesday. When the phone rang, I knew it was he, because nobody ever calls me - especially on a Saturday afternoon. Our conversation was stilted, broken, awkward. We both knew that once certain words were said, that the entire call would break down and that would be that. So I bit the bullet and said the things that I knew, as Mom, it was my job to say. I told him how proud I was of his decision to join the Army, that God protects His children, that I loved him and would miss him. Then, of course, came the tears.

I don't know if you know what it's like to just sob on the phone, if you know how it feels when your world just stops and you can't speak, all you can do is cry. Let me assure you, dear reader, that it sucks. As emotional, as gut-wrenching, as shattering as the phone call was, the hardest part had already occurred several weeks before.

We had said our "goodbye" in person about a month before when he came home on leave for 10 days. I took Chris to the bus station - which in our area, consists of the parking lot of a mini-mart that's gone out of business - and waited for the bus to show. We both tried to make some small talk about the trip - "I hope the bus isn't too full" - "Do you have any cash on you to buy snacks?" - but again, it was stilted, broken, awkward. When the bus did show, Chris was the only person to be picked up, so there was no delaying the inevitable. I held my oldest child, told him how proud I was of him, how God takes care of His children, how much I would miss him and that I loved him. And then came the tears.

My son sobbed in my arms and all I could do was join him. Instinctively, I rocked him back and forth in my arms and rubbed the back of his neck like I always had when he was a child. I knew that optimistically, I would see him in no less than 7 months; pessimistically, 13 months. Once I let go, that would be it, and he would be gone. So I did my duty as a Mom - I let go first and sent him to the bus.

I let go first.

Who would have ever thought that a single action, taken during a moment of a mother's acute pain, could be so haunting?

If, God forbid, anything should happen to my son while he is in Iraq, that is what I will remember. I let go first.

I let go first.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Poetry In Motion

Okay, dearest reader - we are on a "facing our fears" roll.
Next we tackle the world of poetry.  I, a writer, despise poetry.  I find it dull.  Tedious.  Unnecessary.  And I, a writer, can't do it.  So I mask my fear of failure with a lifting of the nose and a rolling of the eyes.  But truth be told - and our blog is all about truth, is it not - I'm just afraid of sucking at it.  But fears be dashed, we are going to make this happen.
I figured the best poetry is based in strong emotion.  So I put myself back on the worst day of my life, which took place a few years ago.  I sat alone in my room and tried to remember every facet of that day.  Sounds, smells.  The temperature of the air.  Where I was sitting, and who I was sitting with.  The way the blood felt in my veins as I willed my heart to keep beating; not sure if I would survive, not sure if I even wanted to.  And then I wrote.
Here's what I came up with.  I took an informal Facebook poll - to explain its meaning, or not to explain? - and the consensus was, post it, and if people want to know what it means, they will ask.
Yeah, it's pretty lousy.  Yeah, it's completely allegorical.  I wrote it out, I went to bed, I figured my project was done.  Then I got up this morning, looked in the mirror, and burst into tears.
Now I know why so many famous poets either become addicted to opiates, off themselves, or both.  The raw emotion, even in a lousy poem, is overwhelming.

Eight Leaves

In my orchard, I stand at a tree

Young, vibrant-I wonder, when did it grow so?

Budding, stretching, cleaving;

As eight leaves slipped away from its branches

A flutter at my feet.

I bent to pick them up and noticed

That they were dried, yet velvet

Shriveled, yet supple,

Preserved, yet consumed.

I placed my flat palm against the trunk

Strong, firm

Vulnerable, childlike

Brash and arrogant, fragile and broken.

In my hand

Eight leaves in September;

I put them in my pocket as I turned

From the tree of my own planting

And the day was colder for it.

 There you have it.   Fear, conquered.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Vodka. Done.

Thor actually set the date for this one.  "Tonight we are doing the vodka shots."  Well, hell, who am I to argue with a guy with a nickname like Thor?  I love it when he takes charge...makes me feel like the girl in a John Wayne western.

We walked to the local dive bar, which is a little over a half mile from his house, because we didn't want "Kat's first shot" to double as "Kat's first DUI."  During the course of that walk, I had to stop and tie my shoe twice.  During the second tie-up, my effort was met with an exasperated "What are you, FIVE?" from the man I love.  Evidently he was in some sort of hurry.  I was not. 

Once seated, we were greeted by the cutest little waitress.  Thor explained our assignment to her, and she was totally on board.  My original goal was to have a shot of Voli - but trust me, this place doesn't serve Pitbull's vodka.  Since I couldn't name another brand of vodka if you held a revolver to my head, I put myself in Cute Waitress's capable hands.

Cute Waitress came up with the idea of a cherry-flavored vodka, chilled and muddled with some lime.  Hmm, I thought.  Cherry and lime.  Just like the cherry limeade at Sonic.  I like that.  It's sparkly and sweet and limey all the same time.  This will be great!  Just great!

She brought me the largest shot glass I've ever seen in my life.  I was hoping for the teeny tiny one you get off the souvenir rack at the airport.  Oh, but not here.  This one was roughly the size of Salem, Oregon.  And it smelled like Dimetapp.

I eyeballed my glass and Thor alternately.  He decided to join me on this little adventure, and guess what - it was his first vodka shot, too.  The main difference being, the thought of downing that poison didn't seem to make him want to cry.

"There's no way I can stiff-arm that.  It's too much.  I can take, like, 2 sips, right?"

Thor gave me the endearing little brow raise that I've grown so accustomed to seeing.   "You should drink it all at once."

"I can't.  It will taste bad and I can't stand things that taste bad.  I can do it in 3 sips, right?"

His answer was to down his shot.  I was hoping he'd slam his empty glass upside-down on the table like they do in the movies, but he just set it down all normal-like.  Maybe next time.

I threw a glance around the bar to see if I was being watched.  There was a man, alone at the bar, who seemed to be watching me.   I soothed my fried nerves by telling myself that he was checking me out, but he probably was just wondering why Psycho Girl was making all sorts of frantic gestures at the poor guy she was sitting with, rather than drinking the shot that the hot waitress had just given her.

I raised the glass to my lips.  This was going to happen.  It took 3 swallows, and it was over.  It tasted like cherry cough syrup served on a lime spoon.  But my brain didn't explode, and I didn't throw up.


I noticed that Thor was watching me intently.  About 10 minutes later, I figured out why.

"I am dizzy.  And hungry.  Can we get food?"

After ordering sandwiches, Thor told me the funniest story ever.  Something about his neighbor having a stroke.  I laughed and laughed and laughed. 

"You are wasted.  One shot, and you are gone."

"I consider that to be a compliment as to my character."  And then I laughed some more, because at this point in the evening, I am so very, very clever, I can hardly stand myself.

We sat for a while longer, eating our rather crappy sandwiches and giving me a chance to regain use of my legs.  Cute Waitress signed our receipt as a memento of our visit.  As we walked back to his place, I noticed that my stride was a little more confident, my chin a little higher.  I am Kat the Fearless, bad ass who drinks straight vodka.

And I will never, ever do it again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

120 After-Dinner Mints.

So, when we last left Kat, she was heading to Barnes and Noble to pick up an Intro to Cooking cookbook for her son's and boyfriend's torture sessions cooking lessons.

I love buying this was just a heckuva lotta fun for me.  Not only did I find a great cookbook for Kat's Awesome Cooking School (yes, I've named it), but it was on the clearance rack.  Score.  Oh, but here's the COOL part.

You have to understand something, dearest reader.  Once you start blogging - and this is my fourth year now - you see EVERYTHING as a potential blog topic.  EVERYTHING.  If I actually ACCOMPLISHED, oh, even 20% of my hare-brained ideas, I would be broke, exhausted, my laptop keyboard would be worn out, and I would possibly be in a full-body cast.  That being said, I saw idea after idea staring back at me on the bookshelves.   I immediately discounted most of them, as Julie Powell already did the whole "cooking through a cookbook" blog thing, and I don't want to be a copy Kat.  (do you see what I did there?)  I sauntered down the aisle, and found myself in the "local cuisine" section.  This one jumped out at me - the "Places to Kiss Cookbook."  A charming tome, filled with write-ups and recipes from inns and restaurants all over the Pacific Northwest.  The wheels started turning as I pictured Thor and me driving from town to town, sampling scrumptious little dainties and, of course, kissing at each place.  And YOU, dearest reader - YOU would get to read about it!  I snatched it like Golam and wrapped my arm around it so nobody would try to wrestle this one and only copy from my clutches.

My blog fantasy came crashing down about 5 pages in, as I realized that the author's definition of "Pacific Northwest" and my personal definition differed greatly.  I naively assumed the author meant an area within 200 miles or so of my front door.  I assumed incorrectly.  Since Canada and Northern California are both rather far to drive for dinner, not to mention spendy - I decided, with a sigh, to slide my ticket to the Pulitzer back on the shelf.   Fear not- I was only slightly miffed.  This basic scenario, with only slight modification of detail, happens to me at least 8 times a week.  I've learned to deal with disappointment and have lost more Pulitzer ideas than most real writers will ever actually have.

I turned to go, wistful about what could have been, when I saw the word "Spokane."  Hey, I live there.  I willed my hand not to tremble as I slowly, slowly pulled a thin book from the shelf.   As I turned it over, here's what I saw:

120 restaurants - all in Spokane.  Each with its own page, its own recipe.  Published in 2011 - so I'm guessing most are still in business.  My jaw dropped, my Michael Kors bag hit the floor, and I started jumping up and down. 
I called Thor right there in the middle of the bookstore and left him this message:
Yeah, that's not unusual either.  I provide entertainment wherever I go.
So when I saw Thor later that night, I shared my idea about how we could go to all these restaurants, eat at them - maybe even eat the food featured in the recipe! - and write about it for you.  My presentation of my idea is probably best described as "enthusiastic."
I eventually stopped to inhale.  Thor blinked a few times, gave his head a little tilt, and said, "So...your 'idea' is, basically, a list of places that I have to take you out to eat at?"  I told you all he's quick on the draw. 
Fear not, dearest reader.  The idea has grown on him.  He even suggested that we take the book with us and have the pages signed by the chef at the restaurant when we eat there.   He's totally in.  I am so beyond excited, it's not even funny. Where do we go first????  How do we decide????   Your suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Class in Now in Session. Soon.

So, I think I'm going to teach Thor how to cook. 

 He doesn't know yet.  If you are reading, darling - SURPRISE!

Anyhow, here's how it all went down.  Thor and I have been looking for a class to take together, mostly because we are both complete geeks who think learning is FUN and it gives us an excuse to spend time together.  He has been looking to expand his cooking repertoire, and I, me, cooking is a chore, like laundry.  I'm not the greatest cook ever, but I can handle my own. But I do love to watch cooking shows and trying out what I see.  I figure, a little enhancement never hurt anyone.  (except Lisa Rinna.  Poor lady.)

I started surfing around for classes, and yes, Virginia, you can take a variety of culinary classes in Spokane.   Yippee!  However, two problems immediately arose.  Not Yippee!  One, most of them start at 5:30, and I don't get off work until 5:30; and two, every class I can find is highly specialized, like "Tuscan Pasta Making by Hand" or "An Appreciation of Wine" or "Let's Love Cupcakes!".  Thor and I do not need to know how to make gnocchi from scratch.  What we need is Betty Crocker.  What we need is Home Ec.

I've taught Home Ec.  Okay, it was homeschooling, and "teaching" consisted of me, as teacher, handing my teenage son, as student, a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and telling him to have his mess cleaned up before I got home from work.  It counts.  Anyway, I've taught Home Ec once before, why not again?  And, HEY!   Bonus!  I also have a 13-year old who needs to learn a little of this stuff, too!  I have TWO STUDENTS!  That's practically a CLASS of my OWN!

I texted my daughter, the chef, in Denver.  "I'm going to teach Thor and The Boy how to cook."

Her response:  "Oh Lord.  I will pray that nobody dies."


There is the slightest little glitch in my brilliant little plan.  Do you recall, dearest reader, when I said that I view cooking as a chore?  Well, when I'm in the kitchen doing my chores, I absolutely, positively, CANNOT STAND IT when there are other people in there with me.  Ask any of my four children; they will regale you with tales of how, at one point or another in their lives, their loving mother has bodily thrown them from the kitchen when they unwittingly wandered in at the wrong time.  I don't want help, I don't want a hand.  When I am making lunch/dinner/whatever, stay out of my way.  If I am truly, truly overwhelmed, I may ask you to stir something for me so that it doesn't burn, or perhaps grab a fire extinguisher if an emergency appears imminent.  Otherwise, you just need to go watch TV, and I will advise you when it is safe.

This obviously puts a little damper on my plans for a career as the next great culinary instructor of the Pacific Northwest.  I personally think this should count as a fear I have to face, should it not?  There will be PEOPLE in my KITCHEN.  Shudder.

On Saturday, I'm trekking to Barnes and Noble to look for an "Introduction to Cooking" cookbook.  Your suggestions for a cookbook or lesson plan are welcome.  Your prayers for the safety of all concerned are coveted.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fear Not, My Brave Cohorts!!!

So, I was hanging out with my cousin Queenie last week.  She took the awesome pic of me that you see to your right.  (pausing for you to look and say "ooohhh, ahhhh".)

Anyway, Queenie has always been one of my staunchest blog supporters.  This is why I paused for a microsecond when she said, "Your new blog sucks."  She didn't use those exact words, she said something about "lack of focus," but that's what she meant.  And I have to agree.  My new blog is without focus.  I figured when I started it, I'd write about relationships - mine especially - until I found out that Thor doesn't like to have every single aspect of our life together splattered on the Internet.  Who knew.  So I spend 85% of my time censoring what I write, and 15% of my time actually putting something together for you.

As a result of my life-defining moment with Queenie, I'm throwing a little project out for you.  We, my little chickens, will be FACING OUR FEARS.  After all, how can you have a successful relationship if you are feeling fearful all the time?  How can you truly open up to another person if you are terrified of how they will perceive you?  How, I ask!  HOW!  Are we men, or are we mice?  Do we face our fears head-on, tossing our heads back and laughing in their dark little faces, or do we run away and hide at the nearest Krispy Kreme?

(the answer is the first one.)

With the help of Thor, I've devised this little list of things we are going to do over the coming months.  If you were following my last blog, you may recognize a few from my "list of 100 things I will do in 2013."  You, my dearest reader, get to EXPERIENCE these things with me.  Perhaps you will be inspired to face a few fears of your own.

The List
1.    Touch a snake.  I am terrified of snakes.  Snakes in the wild.  Snakes on the road.  Snakes in glass aquariums at the pet store.  Pictures of snakes.  The word "snake."  I have never, ever touched one.  Ever.  
2.    Drink a straight shot of vodka.  I've never taken a straight shot of anything in my life, because I assume it all tastes like Nyquil, and the one and only time I tried to take Nyquil, I puked.  So I'm a little worried that it won't stay down.
3.    Go indoor rock climbing.  Per my last post, I'm terrified of heights.  Even with ropes and safety harnesses.  Gawd help the poor person in charge of my safety.  I'm actually hoping that, if I can pull this one off, my fear will subside a little.  Hoping. 
4.    Write a poem.  I love to write, but poetry has never been my thing.  The last poem I wrote that received any accolade at all was when I was 7.  I wrote a poem for my parents, which they typed up on a manual typewriter and decoupaged onto a board and hung on the wall.  Hey, it was the 70's.  It's possible that I can't write a poem, period.  And let's not even get started with haiku.
5.   Go to charm school.  Okay, this one actually sounds fun, and it probably will be.  I picked this because I can't wear white.  Why can't I wear white, you ask?  Let me tell you.  I can't wear white because within 14 seconds of the start of any meal, I'm wearing part of it.  If I were to learn proper table manners, instead of the "shovel" method of eating, maybe that would stop.  Also, Thor always uses his table knife when he eats, like a little food pusher.  It's the cutest thing ever.  I want to do that, too.
6.     Improve my penmanship.  I do have the excuse that I'm left-handed, but my handwriting is steadily declining.  It's to the point where I can't read my own jotted notes anymore.   So I'm going back to the 5th grade and re-taking penmanship.  I know this isn't much of a "fear", more of a "avoidance of humiliation when people look at my handwriting" thing.  But it's close enough.
7.     Complete Jillian Michaels’ “Ripped in 30” video, complete with diet plan.  I love me some Jillian Michaels, but I have to be honest with you, she pretty much scares the shit out of me.  And the whole "getting up in the morning to exercise" thing - ugh.  But I'm going to spend 30 days with Jillian.  If she can't cure any lingering fears I may have, well, nobody can.
 8.    Ride a zipline.  As part of my fear of heights, I have a serious fear of falling.  Do not stand me on a ledge of any sort, of any height off the ground.  I'm terrified I'll fall and die.  It doesn't even have to be high off the ground.  So for me to voluntarily leave any type of platform and fly through the air....inconceivable.  As with the whole rock-climbing thing, I'm hopeful that addressing this fear will help alleviate it.
There you have it, dearest reader.  I don't have an agenda, a specific order, or anything else, for that matter.  But I do have Thor to keep me in line.  The stuff I will be tempted to blow off, he will hold me accountable for.  Gawd, sometimes dating a guy  who has the whole "honor and integrity" thing going on really sucks.  Oh, and I almost forgot - my secret weapon, Jen Jen.  Jen Jen works with me, and when she thinks about it, reads my blog.  Jen Jen is the Queen of Accountability.  She will razz me into the ground over this.  Jen Jen - you have my permission to do so.
Your turn, reader.  What's on your list?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Don't Get It

You may be surprised to hear this, dearest reader - but sometimes, blogging can be really, really hard.  I mean, really hard.

Most "posting days" go along these lines - I'll start formulating my post topic while I'm at work, ruminate on it over the course of the day, and by the time I sit down with my laptop, it's mostly done, swirling around in my head like a shamrock shake.  (Gawd, don't you just LOVE those??!!)

Some posting days, however - some don't go quite that way.  I spend the day wracked in guilt, wondering what on earth I'm going to write about, knowing that it's been, like, a week since the last time I posted, and people start getting all pissy with me when I miss that many days....and nothing comes to me.  Today was one of those days.  So I took a look at what some of my cohorts in the blogosphere are doing.  In the literary world, this is known as "plagiarism."  Online, it's called "surfing."  Just so we are clear.

I found several posts with this basic theme - "Things I Celebrate."  Also known as "Things I Love About Myself."  Also known as "What Makes Me ME."  Also known as "Who Gives a Flying Fig."

So I thought I'd Katify it...I threw it in the sink, gave it a swirl, and out popped:

Stuff People Don't Get About Me
by Kat
1.  I don't let other people use my pens.  If I think you touched my pen, I will either soak it in hand sanitizer, or throw it away.  Gawd help you if you touch my pen.
2.  I am terrified of heights.  Like, I can't be above the third rung on a ladder.  Like, I will cry if you make me.  Like, unnaturally terrified.
3.  I never pay full price for anything except lattes.  The only reason I pay full price for those is because they never go on sale.  But anyway, I seriously can't buy something unless it's marked down somehow.  Even if it's the way Penney's marks stuff down, you know, by marking it up first then back down. 
4.  I will pay $200 for a handbag, but all my clothes are either off the clearance rack or from the thrift store.   Seriously, I will have that bag for 10 years, it averages out to be a great deal.
5.  I have an overwhelming urge to eat ice.  As a result, people have diagnosed me with everything from anemia to prostate cancer.  (I'm not sure about that last one.)  I figure, maybe I just like to crunch on ice cubes.
6.  I despise baking cookies.  This is how I bake: Mix it up, put it in the pan, get it in the oven, boom.  Done.  But with cookies, there's mixing and rolling and cutting and multiple sheets and in the oven and out of the oven and in the oven and out of the oven....I'm irritated just typing it.
7.  I don't beat myself up over bad decisions I have made over the course of my life.  I know it's totally zen and trendy to say, and usually complete BS, but I really mean this - I have forgiven myself of everything wrong that I've ever done.  I don't hold a grudge against myself for anything anymore.  It's counterproductive. 
8.  I think I'm a big deal.  Do I need to explain that?
9.  I don't have a "career goal."  I know what KIND of job I would like to have - but as far as the specific field for it is concerned, I'm open.  This is new for Kat.  We shall see how this goes.
10.  I always drive 4 miles over the speed limit.  Not 3, not 5.  Four.
Well, that's enough mind-numbing garbage for one post.  Please tell me - what is it about YOU that people don't "get"?  Do share.