Monday, April 30, 2007

Life List Day 43 - Start Gone With the Wind

I'd put GONE WITH THE WIND at the top of my things-to-read-before-I-die list. Today, I decided I'd pick up a copy and read Chapter 1 for my life list. If I like it, I'll keep reading.

All I can say is that it was a good thing I decided this BEFORE getting to the libary.

Did you know it's 1,036 pages? And small type, too! I must have known subconsiously that it was such a beast, which is why I've managed to avoid it until now.

Or maybe it's just because before I started my life list frankly, Scarlett, I never gave enough of a damn.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Life List Day 42 - Visit an Open House

Every now and then, this life list thing is crap. Today was one of those days. I thought it would be fun to pop into an open house.

It wasn't.

Touring through a $950,000 house that's two tiny bedrooms, one bath on a lot so small I can practically straddle it is just plain depressing. I love living in a beach community, but I sometimes cringe at the memory that I HAD a house when I was married, and we sold it when we divorced. At a loss. Then real estate quadrupled.

I'd like to keep writing, but I think I'm going to go throw up now.

Ah, well. If I'm looking at the positive side (and God knows I try to) my apartment suddenly feels bigger by comparison.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Life List Day 41 - Go to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

I've gone to the L.A. Times Festival of Books in past years and have meandered about - every time wishing I'd had the foresight to get tickets to attend the author's panels.

This time I actually did, standing in a line at a nearby Ticketmaster outlet for two hours.

L.A. isn't usually a hotbed of literary activity - it wasn't until my novel was picked up as a movie that I got any sort of respect around these parts - so it'll be fun to bump elbows all day with people who share my interest in the written word.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Life List Day 40 - Eat Dragon Fruit

I've seen these weird-looking fruits around - most recently, on a trip to Hawaii. Even though I was curious, I never tried one. Today, I made a trip to my local Asian market and bought one.

This is what dragon fruit looks like on the inside:

It tastes a bit like kiwi - mildly sweet with the crunchiness of the seeds. For me, that's a bigger treat than I would have expected: the one time I ate kiwi, I thought it was delicious. Then my throat swelled so badly I had one finger on the phone to dial 9-1-1 as I took Benadryl, hoping that would allow me to breathe. (It did.) It's my only allergy - kiwi - which, FYI, I'm told is related to a latex allergy. I'm delighted to say, I've had no other problems with latex, if you catch my drift.

Also, luckily, dragon fruit (also known as pitaya) didn't affect me that way.

I might try some other "weird" fruits - the uglier the better!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Life List Day 39 - Live the Life of a Supermodel

Here's something I've never done before: starred in a photo shoot. I did today. Real Simple magazine sent a photographer - AND an assistant and hair & makeup person - to take photos of me for a feature in their July issue.

What I learned:

1. Models wear a TON of makeup. I won't ever again compare my normal face with the ones I see in magazines unless I first apply my makeup with a trowel. (Check out the tricks in this short video from Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty).

2. It's hard to smile for a long period of time. I started to get a twitch, along with a new respect for supermodels.

3. There's a lot of garbage under my couch. We had to move it to set up a shot, and I was mortified by the food, wrappers, broken pens, half-empty liquor bottles, etc. under there.

4. I may be a writer and more comfortable behind the scenes, but when I have to, I can WORK IT, baby!

While I'm sure these photos will turn out fine, they'll still never beat my favorite photo of myself: in a kayak in Hawaii, zero makeup, scraggly hair because I'd just been dumped in the ocean...and happy as hell.

What's your favorite pic of yourself?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Life List Day 38 - Start My Diet...For Real...I Mean It...Honest!

I joke with my son that when he dies, on his tombstone he should have printed, "Later." It seems to be the only thing he knows how to say at times.

Alas, when it comes to starting my diet, I seem to have adopted his favorite word. My intentions are good, but then - oh, I don't know, I have a lunch...or a party...or a hankering for a tuna melt - and I think, I'll start later. Tomorrow. When my life is easy and perfect and I won't be facing any temptation. Ha!

It's not as if I want to lose a lot of weight. I'd be happy with 10 pounds. Thrilled with 15. Able to wear really slutty clothes with 20 - which is why perhaps at my age, I'm better off in the 10 - 15 category.

Anyway, I signed on for online Weight Watchers back in January and dropped a couple pounds, which I promptly regained. I was thinking about "officially" weighing in and starting on Monday - but then I said, nope, TODAY.

So today it is. It's my "thing to do" for the day. Stick to my diet for one day - with the hope that, once I see it's not impossible, it will inspire me to keep it going.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Life List Day 37 - Try on a New Type of Shirt

At first I thought it was just fashion designers playing a joke on us, but they seem to be catching on. Yes, smock tops are back. Oh, I know they're called something else now - a top with an empire (ahm-peer) waist. Whatever. I still figured they'd make me look pregnant and was fully prepared to sit out this shopping season until more reasonable attire made its return.

Today, as I passed a boutique that I've passed a million times, I thought, How do I KNOW they'll make me look pregnant? Why am I dismissing something I've never tried?

So I tried a few on.

Maybe I've been watching too much What Not to Wear, but they were actually kind of cute. I didn't buy anything, but on my next shopping venture, I will approach them with a more open mind.

Yes, I faced my worst fashion nightmare & lived to tell the tale.

What's yours?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Life List Day 36 - Steak & Death

Tonight I met my friend, Melinda, for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. Yep. Outback. Steakhouse.

That would surprise some people, as I don't eat steak. I was a vegetarian for years, and a couple years ago added chicken back in. (Once I did, I couldn't get enough - poultry now quivers in my presence.)

Anyway, in honor of my life list, I decided to try a new restaurant. Perhaps many have tried the Outback, but I hadn't. Now I have. And may I say, they make a mean roasted chicken.

As for the death, for some reason, that's all we talked about.

Maybe it was the steak all around us.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Life List Day 35 - Stay Awake to Enjoy My Son

I've noticed since I've started this life list, sometimes the things I decide to do last minute are more rewarding than what I've planned.

Like today: My "thing to do" was to stand in a line and get tickets for the L.A. Times Festival of Books . "Standing in a line??" you say? "That was your big idea?" In my defense, my thinking was that I've gone to the festival several years and just wind up wandering around. Today I was going to make sure I got the most out of it by getting tickets for the panels.

I know. Lame.

So as I was climbing into bed at 11:00, my 14-year-old son - who sometimes I barely see all day because he's holed up in his room - came happily bounding in like Tigger, as he often does as I'm trying to wind down. He's got that teenaged inner clock that turns nighttime into party time. Today, I thought about the list: What if I did something different? What if, instead of whining that I needed to get to sleep and so did he, I just enjoyed him?

And so I did. He bounced and laughed and talked about every goofy thing that occurred to him for a half-hour. Then he bounded off to take a shower, and - as I clicked off my light to go to sleep - I heard shouted from the bathroom one of those spontaneous "I love you's" that mothers live for.

All in all, a half-hour of sleep well-lost.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Life List Day 34 - Reading at Duttons, Brentwood

Thanks to everyone who showed up - including Naveen Andrews (of Lost & English Patient fame) who - okay - only happened to wander through the courtyard while I was reading, but it did lend a certain celebrity cache to the affair.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Life List Day 33 - Make the World-Famous Taco Soup

In my new novel, I include a Weight Watcher's recipe for Taco Soup - something my mom told me about but I've never made. Today, in honor of my life list, I'm giving it a try!

At right you'll see everything required for a double batch. There's not a fresh ingredient to be found. Mmm.

Here's the recipe:

Taco Soup

4 cans white beans
1 can Mexican spiced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg fat-free Ranch dressing
Mix & heat.

Oh, and there's one more thing I need:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Life List Day 32 - Go See My Book on Display at a Store

For a woman who managed to cry during the movie Kung Fu Hustle, I can be horribly unsentimental about some things.

At Christmas, for example, I take down my tree at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 26th. I never buy my son's official school photo. I toss old momentos without flinching just because I'm weary of having them.

So when a friend expressed horror that I hadn't yet been to a bookstore to actually SEE my new novel on the shelves, I wasn't surprised. Apparently it is a rite of passage for an author - like viewing the body. Honestly, it hadn't even occured to me to do it, but today, in honor of my life list, I did.

I went to a local bookstore where they had a nice, fat stack of my books on the New Fiction table. I even offered to autograph them - which the manager was delighted to have me do.

While I was in the store, I saw a woman walk up to the fiction table, pick up my book, read the flap and clearly consider it for a long time. Although she eventually put it down, I sensed her regret. She'll be back, I thought smugly. And then I realized there was something kind of thrilling about seeing someone with my book in their hands. I nearly teared up.

Then again, maybe I was just remembering that touching scene in Kung Fu Hustle.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Bit of Reflection at the 1-Month Mark

Today I reached the 1-month mark for my life list. As I was reflecting on how it's been going, I happened to catch an interview with Diane Sawyer, who was asked how students at Virginia Tech were handling things after the tragic shootings. She replied, "They thought they had all the time in the world. Now they know they don't. How sad that they're faced with that."

I agree. I blissfully made it to my forties before my sense of impermanence hit me. That's when I started thinking about doing a life list. Maybe I'd have achieved more if I'd thought about it earlier, but I like to think that it's a newfound joy for living rather than a fear of death that moves me forward.

Anyway, I'm still doing my life list - one thing every day that's new, fun or challenging. So far, so good.

Here's the list to date:

#1 Buy Dom Perignon champagne
#2 Play an American Idol drinking game
#3 Dare to buy very delicate flowers
#4 Make it into a gossip column
#5 Fly a kite
#6 Learn to patch a hole
#7 Jog instead of walk
#8 Hold a snake
#9 Say only positive things to my son for a day
#10 Go thrift shopping
#11 Do pushups
#12 Get organized
#13 Take my pigs to the races
#14 Switch to reusable grocery bags
#15 Record a podcast
#16 Vote ( American Idol)
#17 Attempt to cook shrimp
#18 Buy sexy shoes
#19 Finally see The Godfather
#20 Treat myself to a Cinnabon
#21 Start a file of memories about my son
#22 Go bowling
#23 Celebrate the launch of my novel, THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST
#24 Sign my first "autograph" at a reading at Borders
#27 Write a letter of gratitude to my oldest friend
#28 Try the Guitar Hero game
#29 Demand better service
#30 Trek downtown for lunch
#31 Pause & reflect...and take a yummy bath with my new chocolate soap bubbles

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Life List Day 30 - Make the Long Trek Downtown

Unlike New York where one hops in a cab to lunch wherever one desires, here in L.A., we don't leave our neighborhood for anything less than an invitation from an A-List celeb. And then only if they're paying. Today, I decided that my old work buddies were A-List. A few of them were getting together for no reason in particular and they invited me.

So I jumped in my Toyota Echo and I braved the trip from the beach where I live to downtown, which involves taking the 405 to the 105 to the 110 to the 101 S, then off to loop back on to the 101 N, then exit at Union Station to transfer to the Red Line subway to meet my friends at a California Pizza Kitchen exactly like the one a mile and a half from my house.

If I hadn't been doing this life list, I wouldn't have bothered, which would have been a shame.

Because here's the thing: Whenever I see these guys, they treat ME like a celebrity.

And as it turned out, they did pay!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Life List Day 29 - (Nicely) Demand Better Service

Here's a sorry truth about me: When I get bad service, not only do I fail to complain - I tip.

My cleaning people are on to me: For the past three weeks, they've left early - and without doing such basics as wiping down the refrigerator or scrubbing the oven. I tell myself, I WOULD complain, if only I spoke Spanish or they spoke English. But that's a lie. I'm just a coward. I hate confronting people and, because of that, they mop all over me.

Today, in an effort to do something brave for my life list, I called the cleaning agency. Choosing my words carefully so as not to get the women in trouble, I told them I needed the job done right if I was going to use their service again. (And I know that the REALLY brave thing would have been to confront the cleaning women directly, but we have to walk before we can run. This was the best I could do.)

It wasn't necessary anyway - they'd been fired.

Apparently, the agency had gotten lots of complaints from customers unhappy with that particular crew: people who had voiced their disappointment right away - without greeting them three weeks in a row with a big smile and an increasingly sticky refrigerator.

Still, I felt empowered. I stood up for myself. Wednesday when the new crew arrives, I won't be a tyrant, but I WILL say something if jobs are left undone - directly to them, and right away. Using my Spanish-English online dictionary or my natural talent for pantomime if need be. I know it's actually the nicer thing to do: be clear about what I want so, when I hand over a tip - and I LIKE to tip cleaning people because you know they make crap wages - we're ALL happy.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Life List Day 28 - Get My Video Groove On

Ever since pumping quarters into the Ms. PacMan game at the 7-11 on campus in the early 1980s, I've had no interest in video games.

Today, for my life list, I decided to give one a try again.

After all, my son lives for video games. Why not see if we could do a little mother/son bonding on his turf for once? (After all, the poor boy went to see a taping of Ellen wtih me - which meant he had to dance with a bunch of old ladies in the audience. It's the least I could do).

I played Guitar Hero, a game where you're part of a band, and your controller is a guitar.

It was pretty fun. I can't see me get addicted like I can to, say, checking my sales rank at amazon. But I could definitely play again. I rocked the house with Nirvana and nearly had a perfect score with Heart's "Crazy On You." But after an hour my hand started cramping up. Who knew it'd be so physically demanding?

A bonus: the next time my son complains his hand hurts when he's writing a paper for school, I'll know he's bluffing. After all the Guitar Hero he plays, he must have philanges of steel.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Life List Day 26 - Write a Letter of Gratitude to My Oldest Friend

I've known my friend Linda Keathley Stamey since I was 10, making her my oldest friend that I still keep in touch with (and by oldest, I mean length of friendship, not age, although she is four months my elder, and that's pretty darned elderly). Anyway, Linda was smart and cool - and I was extraordinarly weird - but she was still nice to me. I don't get around to talking to her often, but I'm really grateful for her friendship. Today I wrote her a letter telling her so. The only thing I wonder: what took me so long?

Question: Who is your oldest friend?

(Oh, and Day 27?: blowing off my big to-do list of chores and instead taking a big, fat 3 HOUR nap in the middle of the day - and I NEVER nap!!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Life List Day 25 - See a Taping of the Ellen Show

Not much more to say other than that was my special thing to do today.

Ellen rocks.

She does a life list - maybe someday I can get her to help me on mine?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Life List Day 24 - Reading...& a Brush With Fame

Today I did a reading of my book THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST at Borders in Torrance, CA near where I live. What a great crowd! Lots of interesting questions kept me on my toes. A big thank you to everyone who showed up.

The highlight: Three absolutely adorable teenaged girls who stood in line - paper in hand - to get my autograph. Yep, my AUTOGRAPH. Signing a book always makes me feel proud, but signing paper they'd dug frantically from their purses made me feel like a celebrity.

Of course, I'll know I've really made it when I'm asked to sign body parts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Life List Day 23 - Celebrate My New Book

My new novel, THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST , hits stores today!

It's about a woman who is trying to finish a life list for a friend who died before she had the chance to complete it herself. It was inspired by my own efforts to do a life list.

The novel is already a bestseller in Germany (where it goes by the title THE DESIRE LIST) and film rights have been picked up by DEVIL WEARS PRADA producer Wendy Finerman for New Line Cinema.

Getting published is definitely on my life list, and I plan to sit back today and allow myself to really enjoy it - including finally breaking out the Dom to celebrate.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Life List Day 22 - Go Bowling

I've had a bowling jones for MONTHS now. Today I finally hit the lanes - the Lucky Strike, a new, fancy bowling alley with computerized scoring that actually tells you how fast your ball is traveling (about 8 mph for me, which is so slow, the pins more tip over from pity than get knocked down).

Whatever. First game 140, second game 106. That may be a personal best.

I should be better. Being half-Polish, bowling is in my blood. When I was a girl, we used to skip church and my dad would take my brothers and me to the Elks to bowl. Instead of the 10 Commandments, we learned lessons such as "thou shalt not hold thy cheddar fries with thy bowling hand or thy ball might slip from the grease."

I'm afraid today's stint only fed the jones - I'm dying to go again. Which is a good thing, I think. After all, who doesn't love a sport you can play with a beer in one hand?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Life List Day 21 - Start My "Mom's Random Memory File"

When my son, Danny, was four, he spent Easter with his dad at his aunt's house. It's their tradition that the Easter bunny hides the baskets for the children to find in the morning. To get them into the spirit of the hunt, the adults sing-songed things like, "Now where could your basket be?" "Wherever could it be?" The other kids piped in, too. My son - catching on and wanting to be part of things - put his hands on his hips, glanced around, and said happily, "Now where the fuck is that Easter basket?"

It's Hallmark moments like that I want to make sure we always remember. In the olden days, I could have passed down our family stories through dance, but Danny flees every time I try to get my boogie on. His dad used to be keeper of the stories - he had a gift for re-telling them in all their excruciating, hilarious detail. Since he died five years ago, I fear these memories may be gone forever if I don't write them down.

Today for my life list, I started a file: "Mom's Random Memories," where I'm recording memories and anecdotes as I recall them.
I've been meaning to do it forever, and today I did it. I wrote down as many as occurred to me right away, including the time I accidentally taped Danny to the bed. (It occurs to me this file may also come in handy for when he's in therapy later in life.) I'll add to it as I go. It's nothing fancy - just loose papers in a file - but it'll be fine for my son (who, for all his apparent lack of sentiment, enjoys hearing about himself as much as anyone else does).

So how do YOU keep track of your family's memories?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Life List Day 20 - I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing

I love Cinnabon but never eat them because they're, like, 5,000 calories. I'll sometimes buy one for my son and then mooch a bite - but he never shares the soft, squishy insides. He's only willing to peel off an outer layer which, while tasty, can be a bit dry.

Today I bought a Cinnabon of my very own & ate the whole thing. No apologies, no guilt and - most importantly - no sharing.

It's something I could get used to.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Life List Day 19 - Going to the Mattresses

I finally watched The Godfather. I've somehow managed to go my whole life (well, since 1972) without seeing it - even though every boyfriend/husband I've ever had has been obsessed with it. Even though I've actually quoted lines from it (see "to the mattresses" above). Even though when I heard about the time my brother put a bloody deer head in a co-worker's locker in retaliation for a practical joke, I knew exactly what it meant.

I even once read a book at the recommendation of a friend, Take the Cannoli, by public radio's Sarah Vowell, a title I knew to be a reference to the movie - I just didn't know how.

So today I saw it. All I can say: it was no Pride & Prejudice, but I can see why it's a classic. More graphic than I expected, although I'm not sure what I expected - Mary Poppins?

This was my #1 movie I felt I needed to see.

What's yours?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Life List Day 18 - Buy Sexy Shoes

Today's task was inspired directly from my book, THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST. Wearing sexy shoes is one of the things my character, Marissa, had on her life list.

She chose silver stilettos. I went with a Michael Kors black sling. Four-inch wedge heel. And "sexy" may be a stretch, but compared to the geriatric pickings among the rest of my shoes, they're practically streetwalker wear.

Because here's the thing: I hate buying shoes. I know that by admitting this, I risk that I may have my vagina revoked. A woman...not liking shoes??! Surely she's an imposter!

Yet it's true. Those gals in Sex In the City may adore their Manolo Blahniks, but that's probably because they don't have square feet like I do. When I try stuffing these Fred Flintstones into some strappy number - well, it's plain unfortunate. Don't get me wrong - it's not hideous (not like my ex-husband, who had a freak toe...something to do with a heavy object falling on it in his youth). It's just that my foot in a glamorous shoe is akin to setting a chunk of Spam on top of caviar - the two just don't go.

That said, these new shoes are quite spiffy. They certainly make me taller.

In time, I may even learn to walk in them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Life List Day 17 - Attempt the Perfect Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail

1. Boil water
2. Put shrimp in
3. Take shrimp out

What could be easier, right? Yet the perfect shrimp cocktail eludes me. I have much to live up to: My dad, Marv, has "the gift." Shrimp bow before him. Even people who've sworn off shellfish swoon when confronted with his: the right amount of bite and flavor. The sauce zesty but not spicy.

So this time I swore I'd do it right. I bought the exact same shrimp he buys: the $40 bag of frozen shrimp from Costco. I boiled the water. I put in shrimp. I waited for the boil to roll...the shrimp to gain that perfect hue of pink.

In the end: pretty good, but not my dad's. The texture was almost there, but not quite. Something was missing with the flavor. My son pronounced it superior, but this is from a boy who lives on 59 cent burritoes. It's the closest I've ever come, however, and for that, I'm happy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Life List Day 16 - I Cast My American Idol Vote

I did it! After years of faithfully watching American Idol, tonight I became a part of the process. I voted - for an hour straight. It was kind of thrilling: I wish I could have done the same in the last presidential election.

And who inspired me to risk carpal tunnel in my dialing finger?

Noneother than Sanjaya.

I can't help it. He taps in to my inner 11-year old girl. I loved him from the moment they showed his audition, and he modestly said his sister was the better singer. Plus - and I've been to plenty of karaoke so I know these things - the boy actually can sing. And that smile!

But the top reason he moved me to vote: he's the most entertaining thing going on that show. I'm on the edge of my couch every week. What will his hair look like? What unbelievably inappropriate song will he choose? (although he'd be hardpressed to find something odder for a 17-year-old boy to sing than Gwen Stefani's "Bathwater" that he rocked the house with last week). What will Simon say?

If I thought Sanjaya's being there was pushing aside someone more deserving, I wouldn't have voted. But there isn't one of them I can see putting out a CD I'd actually buy. I think the judges misfired on who they selected for the top 24 - but like Pavlov's dog, I'm programmed to sit in front of the TV every Tuesday night.

While I'm there, I may as well be entertained.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Life List Day 15 - Record a Podcast

A month ago I didn't even KNOW what a podcast was. Today, I recorded one - interview style for a show called Fascinating Authors. It fits into my life list challenge under the category of "scary." I know I'm an author...but fascinating? Couldn't my first podcast interview have been for the Mildly Amusing After a Couple Drinks show? Or the Don't Mind the Midwest Accent, You'll Get Used to It show?

The experience wasn't so bad - it was simply a phone interview. The show's host, Penny Sansevieri, was willing to laugh at anything I said, God love her. Maybe I should hire her to hang around the house when my son is being surly. We could be like a sitcom:

Me: "Hey, Danny, how was school?"
Danny: "Hmmph. Grunt."
Penny: "Hahahahahaha."

As for the podcast, I talk about my new novel, THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST, which comes out in a week (!) and also about this life list I'm doing.

It will be available for download in a few days on iTunes - a place I can honestly say I never thought I'd be.

Now I'm curious about the whole idea of podcasts. My friend, Mary Jo, says she listens to them all the time, including one from Grammar Girl.

Anybody else have favorite podcasts? (I mean BESIDES mine.)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Life List Day 14 - Save the World from Plastic Bags

Here is the mountain of nonrecyclable grocery bags I've amassed in just two months. It's scary enough how they're taking over my house - I shudder to think the state of our landfills. I used to pack my son's lunch in them every day, but now he buys the school lunch. So they just pile up.

Today, as my "thing to do" for my life list, I bought a half-dozen reusable bags from Trader Joe's.

Cute as they are - and I love the Hawaiian print! - I suspect I'll feel self-conscious at first asking the bagger to use them - especially at Vons where one simply doesn't do that sort of thing. It's all so earth mama. (But hey, at least they're not hemp.)

I feel good that I've made the switch to reusable, but I still need to come up with some way to use the pile of plastic bags I have. I feel too guilty throwing them away. Makeshift rain hats? Stuffing for pillows? Purse liners? I suppose I could get a dog so I could use them as pooper scoopers.

Anybody have any ideas?