Saturday, March 31, 2007

Life List Day 13 - Enter the Rodent Races

This is the kind of thing life lists are made for! PetCo today held Hamster Ball Races. I don't have hamsters, but I do have the two cutest guinea pigs who ever squeaked - Joan (right) and Scruffy.

I honestly can't remember being so excited about something in a long time. This is not sarcasm - the idea of rodents racing on a track in plastic balls is as fun as it gets. If I hadn't been doing my life list, I wouldn't have been in PetCo holding a snake, and I wouldn't have found out about the race. See how these things snowball?

The girls gave it their all (they were the only rodents racing in their weight class). The crowd went wild. In the end, Scruffy prevailed, although there were accusations of cheating.

See the video and decide for yourself.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Life List Day 12 - Get Organized

Check out this beauty from Target. I bought two of them. With God (and anyone reading this) as my witness, I am going to get my files in order!

I'd like to blog longer, but I have alphabetizing to do.

Is it strange I'm so excited about organization??

Oh, and I'm beyond excited about my life list plan for tomorrow. I hope I can sleep tonight! Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Life List Day 11 - Dropped And Gave 'Em 20 (or So)

As part of a group exercise class I take a couple times a week, the instructor leads us in push-ups. During that part, I always leave and get a drink of water. Why? Because I don't DO push-ups. I'm not sure when I decided that - perhaps one day when I looked at my scrawny arms and said, "How are these supposed to push up all this ass?"

Today I did the push-ups. Sure, I did the girlie kind - knees on the floor - but I did them!

It made me wonder, what besides push-ups have I pushed aside?

What things have YOU decided you don't DO that you may want to give a try?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Life List Day 9 - Say Only Positive Things to My Son & Day 10 - Thrift Shopping

I suppose it's pathetic that I consider it a challenge to say only positive things to my son for one day - and even worse than I tried this before and failed.

In my defense, the unpositive things aren't mean-girl territory. It's not "you'll never amount to anything" or "you're ugly and your mama dresses you funny." Mine falls more into the category of worry: "If you don't clear that dish, then you'll never learn to take care of yourself, you'll flunk out of college, live in a gutter...AND DIE!" Call it an overactive imagination. The curse of the author.

Anyway, I did it! Went 24-hours only pointing out the positive (I waited until this morning to post, just in case I woke Danny in the night with negative ramblings). I'll admit, it was touch and go around noon. Danny was home for the day, which I considered prime opportunity to catch up on homework, but he viewed more as a chance to take a 3-hour bath. The bath won. And, even though he got wrinkly, and his skin probably molded, which will give him some strange disease which will make him hideous to look at, and he'll never find a wife, and he'll be in such despair that he'll live in a gutter...AND DIE!, I said nothing of the sort. I merely smiled and asked him if he enjoyed my new strawberry bubble bath.

One thing I noticed: Without me nagging and worrying, my son didn't get everything done that he was supposed to.

Which is exactly what happens on the days that I DO nag and worry.

Day 10 - Go Thrift Shopping

There's a thrift store in Sunland, CA that will take ANYTHING. I know, because I've donated some real crap, and they seemed excited to get it. That's not always the case. I once took stuff to the Good Will and they turned it away, and these were things I'd just had in my house. On display! Not good enough for Good Will! Anyway, I've eyed this thrift store but have nver gone in. Today I did, and it didn't disappoint. Yards upon yards of junk. Not that I want junk, but while wallowing in it, I get the feeling I'm going to find a hidden gem.

(I didn't.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Life List Day 8 - I Hold a Snake

That's not a euphemism - I really did hold a snake. A ball python. I've never held a snake before, not even so much as the garden variety. I'm not sure how I managed to avoid that my entire life. I guess I'm swift with a polite, "no thank you."

This was a last-minute idea for my life list. Originally, I'd planned to go a full day saying only positive things to my son, Danny. That ended at 5:00 when he stubbornly refused to do his geometry homework, and somehow I was compelled to respond, "Well, don't come crying to me when you're 18 and can't get a job...and are IN JAIL!" Seriously. I actually said that. I'm sure it was going all day without saying, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye," that drove me to it. My motherisms were ready to bubble over.

When I stopped by the pet store to ask if I could hold a snake, the staff was surprisingly helpful. A twenty-something guy attempted to set me at ease as he pulled the python from its glass cage. "They hardly ever strike, and if they bite, it's more frightening than painful. Besides, you can tell if they're going to attack because they coil," he said, holding out to me what appeared to be a pretzel.

"Isn't that coiled?" I asked worriedly.

"It sure seems to be!"

"Didn't you just say that means it's going to strike?"

"Hmm. Well, I think it's just scared. I'm sure that's why it's so twisted up"

I stepped back. "Do you think you could pick out a snake who's feeling straighter?"

He did, and by this time my heart was thumpy, but I went through with it. I'm sure if the snake could speak, it would have complained about how clammy my hands were. It, on the other hand, felt smooth and cool and not unlike holding a bunch of muscle.

Tomorrow I'm going to try again to go the day saying only positive things to Danny - even if I have to sew my lips shut to do it. As my mom used to say, if you can't say anything nice...

Well, you know the rest.

Anything you're afraid of that you'd like to face?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Life List Day 7 - Run, Jilly, Run

My usual exercise. Is. Walking. Today for my. Something new I. Decided. I'd run. Thirty minutes. Every inch of me. Hurts.

(But I did it!)


I've made it through one week of my challenge to do something new, fun or scary every day. Even in this short amount of time, I've already had wins and losses.

A Win: Running today, because it made me realize that somewhere along the line I'd stopped pushing myself athletically. Even just a few years ago I was flying through step classes and jogging the treadmill. I didn't even realize it but at some point I told myself I was old - that walking was an exercise more suited to my current stage of life. If I didn't live in sunny California and have a $45 annual renewal to my gym, I'd probably be walking at the MALL, for crying out loud. I'd never have pushed myself to run if I hadn't given myself this challenge. And maybe it's just the endorphins talking, but I plan to keep running every day.

A Loss: Those flowers I bought on Day 2 to face my fear of floral death? Here they were not even 36 hours later:

My friend Shelly says it's like losing a family pet - getting another one can help ease the pain. We'll see. I'm still staring at the crumpled remains poking from my trash. Maybe I need a bit more time to mourn the loss of $17.99.

I'm definitely in need of ideas of things to do for week 2! Got any?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Life List Day 6 – Learn a New Skill: Patching a Hole

When you have a hole in your wall the size of, say, an angry 14-year-old boy’s fist, you can’t just fill it with spackle.

Of course, it’s not YOUR job to fix it anyway. The aforementioned teen is providing labor. But unless you want your landlord to notice the gaping hole and charge you a handyman’s fees for repairs, it had better be a pro job.

Please note exhibit A: The hole. You can see how if you just slap spackle in the drywall, it would fall into the abyss.

So we went to the hardware store - and by “we” I mean me and my now cooled-down son - to get supplies, and also advice. I'll admit, I was tempted to just hide the hole with a strategically-placed picture. But I know it's important that the same hand that caused the damage be the one to fix it. I haven't always followed through on stuff like that - making him responsible for his behavior. Sometimes it's easier to just to clean up the mess myself. Perhaps today I'm learning TWO new life skills.

To fill a large hole:

1. Buy a drywall patch, which is basically a mesh bandaid, and cut it to fit over the hole.
2. Apply spackle over the mesh, smoothing it with a putty knife. Make sure you get the heavy vs. light spackle.
3. After it dries, sand until smooth. Paint.
4. Talk to teen about how you can’t help it if you didn’t hear the phone and so were unaware he needed a ride home, thus causing him to walk in the rain, ruining his skateboard. Sometimes these things happen. Did he know that punching pillows can also be a great relief for frustration...and without the damage?

P.S. Also today, I went to Duttons book store to see my friend Sandra Ramos O'Briant read her warm and funny short story "Chile Tales: The Green Addiction", part of the anthology What Wildness Is This: Women Write About the Southwest

Friday, March 23, 2007

Life List Day 5 - I Recapture My Youth by Flying a Kite

Yep, that's all the higher it went, although I did get it to do a fancy spin. All I recaptured of my youth, however, was remembering how hard it is to get cheap, crappy kites to fly. The reason I'm glad I did it anyway: searching for a windy spot lured me to the beach for a few minutes on a sunny afternoon I'd have otherwise spent inside, checking my amazon ranking.

And, yes, it IS a My Little Pony kite!

So what makes YOU think of childhood?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Life List Day 4 - I Made Liz Smith's Column Today!

I made Liz Smith's famous gossip column in the New York Post today. Here's what it said:

"Next for "The Devil Wears Prada" producer Wendy Finerman? Why, it's the chick-lit novel "The Next Thing on My List" by Jill Smolinski. This is about a girl attempting to complete her list of "20 things to do before my 25th birthday." Wendy nabbed the novel, which comes out next month for a New Line film."

Yes, there I am in print: sandwiched between Reese Witherspoon and Donald Trump (the latter of whom had a few choice words to say about George W).

As for my quest to do something new every day, I can honestly say, I've never made a gossip column before! And without the tedious bother of a scandal.

Although "cause a scandal" is still on my "things-to-do" list. Just not yet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Life List Day 3 - Spring is Here with Flowers of Fear

Today is the first day of spring, and I rang it in by buying the flowers I've always feared most: Hydrangeas. I find them lovely, and they definitely say "spring." But every time I see them in the store, I think about how bad they'll look as they die. All those tiny petals. I just know they're going to have a lingering, messy death.

I usually buy tulips. Neat. Clean. They perish with a minimum of fuss.

I'm not sure what that says about me that I can't enjoy flowers without anticipating their demise. I'm sure it's some failure on my part to live in the moment.

I'm working on it.

Anyway, they DO look lovely.

For now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Life List Day 2 - The American Idol Drinking Game

If I’d known how amazing this episode of American Idol would be, I wouldn’t have bothered with the drinking game. That little girl crying! It was so ugly and fantastic! If you missed it, teen heartthrob Sanjaya made a fan cry.

I had flashbacks to the time I met Donny Osmond at a volunteer event—only I was 39, not 10, I more giggled than cried, and he asked me if I had any Advil. (I did—and yes, I AM proud to be Donny Osmond’s over-the-counter drug lord.)

My neighbor, Irina, and I watch AI together every Tuesday. Usually we have a lovely glass of wine. To try something new, I instituted this game:

American Idol Drinking Game

Rules: Take a drink every time...

Anyone says "pitchy"
- says "dawg"
- dresses down a contestant for daring to take on a song by the great Whitney, Mariah, Celine or Stevie (as in Wonder)
- punches Simon
- says a contestant looks beautiful
- feels his man-breasts
- says "if I'm being honest..."

My only disappointment was the judges were on their best behavior tonight. I need to have more reasons to drink! Any ideas for other AI moments we could add to the drinking game?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Life List Day 1-Treat Myself to a Bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne

It’s Day 1 of my quest to do something new, fun or challenging every day. It also marks the day I received the first copy of my novel in the mail. It seemed worth a toast to me! And what could be more delightfully stereotypical for toasting than the granddaddy of French champagnes, Dom Perignon?

I’m sure Dom isn’t what the cool kids are drinking these days. I believe I revealed myself for the square I am with the very term cool kids. And by calling it Dom. Then there’s the use of the word square. So here’s the thing: It took me a half-hour at BevMo! to screw up the courage to pay $114 for one bottle of champagne. I don’t know why it was so hard. It’s not like I can’t spend it, or like I never dole out money. Just yesterday I handed over $20 for my son’s lunches, $75 for his yearbook, and slapped down my Visa for $175 in new school clothes. Never flinched.

But I never spend that kind of money on me…at least not on a luxury item. I only went through with it because the BevMo! salesgirl shamed me by being thrilled when I told her I was celebrating my new novel.

Alas, you can lead a writer to Dom Perignon, but you can’t make her drink. I bought it, and I’ll have to claim that as my victory. But I couldn’t waste a bottle of Dom on a Monday. It seems strange just to toast ME. So it sits in my closet…waiting for me to discover my inner Clairol-girl and decide I’m Worth It.

So I wonder, do you ever have a hard time treating yourself? Is it easier to shower attention and gifts on your kids, family & friends than on you?