Friday, January 19, 2007

Pretty in pink

One of my goals this year is to participate in the Rosarito-Ensenada bicycle race, a 40-mile event that takes place twice a year down in my neck of the woods. My father gave me his super-duper light, fast and amazing bike so I could enjoy what has always been his favorite sport. (If you're reading this daddy, I love you!)

Mr. T has been training me on the bike, patiently showing me how to unclip my bike shoes from the pedals (easier said than done!), how to change gears, and how to get out of my seat when climbing hills.

I love the thrill of flying down the road, the challenge of climbing a hill, and the feeling of accomplishment at conquering another personal milestone. What I don't love are the saddle sores associated with cycling.

Sometimes I get so uncomfortable during a ride that I start yelling "Santoooooooos!!" at the top of my lungs. Go ahead and laugh, but I can tell you something: My girly parts are NOT AMUSED.

I have thickly padded cycling shorts and Mr. T even suggested I use a wool seat cover to protect my girly bits. OK, people, that's NOT going to happen!


Would any of you be caught dead riding with this seat? I didn't think so...I'd be the laughing stock of the biking community, people would think I have hemorroids!! No, no, I'd rather suffer the pain than bear the shame.

Because Mr. T has a vested interest in keeping my girly parts happy, he did some research and surprised me with the most beautiful, most thoughtful early Valentine's day present I have EVER received!


Not only did he get me a seat specially designed to accomodate my girly parts, but he also got me a PINK jersey and matching PINK arm warmers!!! Is that not the cutest thing EVER??? I'm such a lucky girl...

So, next time you see a flash of pink zooming past you on a bike, go ahead and wave because it could be me!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

He's "The Olive Garden", she's "Bombay Palace"

Ok, people, I need your help here. What would you do in the following situation:

You've been on two dates with a really nice person. He/she is sweet, nice, athletic, good-looking, has a good job, owns a home, treats you well, calls when he/she says he/she will, and says he/she likes you. Basically, the typical "good on paper" person.

The problem is, you don't find him/her intellectually stimulating. Your conversations are superficial, and he/she doesn't seem to share your passion for different cultures. It's obvious he/she hasn't done much research in the subjects that you feel strongly about, and you feel like there's an intellectual void. Putting it in food terms (because I'm hungry), he/she is an all-american "The Olive Garden" while you are a globe-trotting "Bombay Palace".

You're going on a third date, but you're almost certain this person - albeit good on paper - isn't right for you. How do you let him/her down easy without saying something like: "You're not my intellectual equal?" Or do you just say it and hope for the best?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

No animals were harmed in the making of this wedding

The fate of the vendor...Well, that we're not too sure about.

Before I start, I must say this happened to a wedding planner I know and not to me (although I've had my fair share of animal encounters!)

She was planning a wedding in Acapulco, a beach resort located on the west coast of Mexico. The couple wanted a ceremony at night, overlooking a cliff. They would be illuminated by reflectors and at the moment they kissed, the wedding planner was supposed to open a box and white doves were going to fly out and be dramatically lit up by the powerful reflectors. It all sounds fabulous, right?

Well, the wedding planner looked EVERYWHERE for the darn doves in Acapulco (ah, the lengths we'll go to for our clients) and she finally found a little old man who could provide them. She hired him and got everything set up for the night of the wedding.

Finally, the day of the big event rolled around and she scampered to get everything in place before nightfall. The little old man showed up on schedule and she carefully positioned him and the box of doves behind the altar, where nobody could see him. The sun set and the guests started to arrive. The musicians started to play and the lovely bride walked down the aisle. The couple said their vows, exchanged rings, and got ready for the grand finale.

Meanwhile, the wedding planner was crouched down with the old man, ready to give him the "go ahead" signal so he could open the box and the doves could fly out. As the officiant declared the couple husband and wife and instructed them to kiss, the wedding planner gave the "thumbs up" sign to the little old man. He opened the box, and...

And, nothing. The birds walked around in the box bobbing their heads, making "coo coo" pigeon noises, and pecking at the floor of their cage. In frank desperation, the wedding planner picked up a bird and flung it in the air, just as she had seen it done in the opening ceremony of the Olympics. All the guests saw was a blinded ball of feathers desperately flapping its wings, only to come crashing back down near the box. The wedding planner tried again, to no avail.

She turned to the little old man in frank despair and asked him what was wrong with the birds.

"Nothing," he replied. "It's just that these doves don't fly at night."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Are you naughty or nice?

I remember going to the mall as a ten year-old girl and being fascinated by the Victoria's Secret store. My mother would spend hours among the striped pink walls and it was always a treat when I could accompany her. Everything in the store was frilly, satiny, silky, and soft. Fruity and floral scents wafted through the air while perfectly groomed salesgirls attended to my mother's every need. She would always leave the store with a cute-as-can-be striped pink bag, and I knew that when the time came, I would shop at Victoria's Secret, too.

Pink bag in hand, my mother and I would set out in search of my father and brother, who inevitably got lost in the mall. It would take us 30 minutes of walking in circles to find them (this was waaaaay back in the pre-cell phone age, in case you're wondering), and as we searched for them we'd pass by the "forbidden store", Frederick's of Hollywood. Corsets, garter belts, daring g-strings, crotchless panties, slit cup bras, thigh-high stockings, and marabou-covered stilettos decorated the store windows, and I remember eyeing these unfamiliar contraptions with childhood curiosity and even a slight feeling of contempt at the type of woman who would choose the crassness of Frederick's over the femininity of Victoria's Secret. (Who was this Frederick guy, anyways? I always imagined he was one of those sleazy Hollywood "photographers" who would tell women he could make them into models only to seduce them and con them out of their money.)

Fast forward 10 years. (Ok, 15. Ok, 20! Geez...) I've come to appreciate the seductive power of a tightly laced corset, the playfulness of peek-a-boo undies, and the commanding feeling I get when wearing stiletto heels. I still don't quite understand why the right piece of lingerie can bring a man to his knees, but let me tell you something: Frederick seems to have it down to a science!

So, girls and guys: Do you vote for Victoria or are you a fan of Frederick? (How's that for alliteration after a long workday?)

As for me, forget the pretty pink bag and give me fire-engine red any day!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Neither Mr. T nor I own a TV

Shocked? Don't be, I'll explain.

Whenever I was going through a difficult period in my life (layoff, body issues, bad marriage) I would use television as a means to avoid facing reality. Instead of dealing with the problem, I would sit in front of the tube for hours (sometimes 12 hours a day!) watching anything that would help deaden the pain and confusion I felt inside.

When I decided to reclaim my life one year ago, one of the changes I implemented was a future without television. I experienced withdrawals for a few days and craved the mind-numbing fog of an "I Love The 80's" marathon on VH1 or an all-day "Law & Order"-fest on TNT (or on 25 other channels, for that matter). My life was changing very quickly, living alone was scary, running a growing company was daunting, and it was tempting to run and hide among the characters whose lives made much more sense than mine did.

Little by little, I discovered that not only did I have the strength to face my problems, but that resolving them instead of quelling them by watching television left me with ample time to have...a life! *gasp*

I left behind an artificial cosmos where the things that matter most are the heft of your bank account, the firmness of your thighs, and the number of notches on your bedpost. I've since discovered a world where dreams really DO come true: a world where I can breathe underwater, discover new career paths, achieve the athletic goals I've always dreamed of, and even find a new love.

One of the first aspects that united Mr. T and me was the fact that we both shunned televisions. Among his many admirable traits, Mr. T has not had a television for almost 20 years! What kind of person would live without a TV for almost two decades, you ask? The answer is: a cultured, educated, nature-loving, athletic, romantic man...You know, they don't call it "boob tube" for nothing!

I am convinced that our relationship's incredible strength is due in large part to the absence of television. (Warning: Sap alert!) While other couples watch the Today show in the mornings, Mr. T and I go for a run on the beach. While other couples dine on take-out while watching sit-coms, we cook together and talk about our day. While other couples watch the evening news, we lay in each other's arms and discuss a future together. While other couples watch sports on Sundays, we spend the day rock climbing. (Sappy? Don't say I didn't warn you!)

If this isn't enough to convince you to decrease your tube-time and increase your life-time, consider this: "If there is no television in the bedroom, the frequency [of sex] doubles," says sexologist Serenella Salomoni, whose team of psychologists interviewed 523 Italian couples about how the tube affected their sex lives.

How's that for a motivating factor?

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Not my brightest moment

"Honey, I think the garbage disposal's broken," I whimpered, staring dejectedly at the brown muck that was obscenely backwashing into one compartment of his two-sided sink. Mr. T got up from the dinner table and came to my rescue. He fiddled with the disposal's on/off switch, stuck a chopstick down the drainage hole, ran some water, and determined that the culprit was a clog in the pipes under the sink.

We emptied out the shelves below the sink and a somewhat grumpy Mr. T placed a large pot under the pipes he was about to disassemble. He muttered his dislike for dirty sink water as he unscrewed the hinges on the pipe. I stood by the sink, feeling useless but ready to help when needed.

Upon unscrewing the pipe's hinge, a gush of brown muck splashed into the pot. Mr. T held it in place as I watched the water drain out of the sink. The pot was filling fast and we could tell that the volume of water still in the sink was larger than what the pot could handle. Mr. T turned to me with a look of urgency and said, "I'm going to pass the pot to you and I need you to empty it and give it back to me."

Happy to help, I gave him an energetic "OK!" and got into a crouching position to receive the slimy cauldron. The exchange went great, with Mr. T holding one hand to the pipe to stop the gush of water while I retrieved the pot from under the pipes. I stood up and very efficiently poured the smelly liquid into the other (unclogged) compartment of the two-sided sink.

Suddenly, from under the sink came the most painful, tortured "Nooooooooooo!!!", followed by a putrid flood of biblical proportions. Time stood still as the brown water covered my toes and my brain tried to comprehend what had gone wrong.

Mr. T stuck his head out from under the sink and looked at me with a combination of disbelief and despair in his blue-green eyes. He sat in a puddle of muck and shook his head.

Apparently, all streets lead to Rome. Or, in the language of kitchen sinks, all sink compartments lead to the same pipe.

"I thought you'd empty the pot onto the patio," he said, his voice deadly calm.

All I could say was: "Umm...Oops?"


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Note: Original title "I now understand why some men have affairs" was changed at the request of a good friend.

One of the activities we enjoyed during our vacation was a tour of the local jungle and Mayan ruins on horseback. Mr. T and I arrived at the horse ranch at the same time as our excursion companions, a middle-aged Florida couple.

From the moment they got out of the taxi, we could tell we'd be in for a treat. The woman - I think her name was Rhonda - was a dumpy, post-menopausal, transplanted New Yorker with the most nasal Queens accent I've ever heard (think Fran Drescher without a sense of humor). The shorts she was wearing made her butt look larger than those of the horses, and with the amount of jewelry and makeup she had on, she looked like she'd be attending the gala dinner on the cruise ship they arrived in.

The man - named Santos - was a Cuban-American with a thick dark mustache, hairy chest, and friendly demeanor. He was generally attractive (in a Latino way) and in good physical shape for a man his age. Little did we know that before the end of the jungle tour, Santos would live up to his saintly name.

The horses were brought out to us and Mr. T and I quickly mounted our docile fillies. While we fiddled with the reigns, we heard a loud wail. Unfortunately, it wasn't coming from a jungle creature, but from Rhonda.

"Santos!!! Oooooo...You're going to pay for this! I've never ridden a horse before!" she exclaimed as the wrangler presented her with a tired-looking mule. Mr. T shot me an "it's going to be a looooong ride" glance and I giggled at Rhonda's petrified face.

We all coaxed her onto the mule, explaining that the animals were very tame and wouldn't do her any harm. She whimpered and grumbled as she got on. Once atop the mule, she exclaimed in her nasal voice: "Santooooooos!!! If I can't do Jazzercise tomorrow, you're going to pay!!!"

The wrangler led us through the jungle, outlining the various species that inhabited the dense vegetation. Unfortunately, Rhonda's plaintive wails scared away all but the mosquitos.

"Santooooooos!!! How do I tell the horse to slow down?? It's going too faaaaaaast!!", she yelled as the mule trudged wearily along the mossy path. "Santos!!! If I can't walk tomorrow, you won't hear the end of it!!"

Santos, meanwhile, wore a pained look. I don't believe he uttered three words during the entire ride.

About 45 minutes into the tour, we stopped at a watering hole supposedly used by the ancient Mayans for bathing. Rhonda slid off her mule, helped by Santos, the wrangler, and the tour guide. Mr. T and I could hear her nasal moans as she gripped onto the patient mule's neck. As soon as Rhonda placed her feet on the ground, the mule let forth a torrent of urine and I almost fell of my horse laughing at Rhonda's disgusted face.

Once off the mule, no power on Earth would get Rhonda back in the saddle. She declared that she would be happy walking the rest of the way. She and her mule walked side by side as our horses trotted gleefully back to their stables.

After dismounting, our group headed over to a Mayan hut to learn how the local villagers live. As we examined the palm and twig structure, we heard Rhonda nasally exclaim: "Santooooos!! Take a picture of me with my horse. I simply must tell all my friends that I rode a horse!"

Mr. T and I peered through the hut's door just in time to see Rhonda posing proudly next to the droopy-eyed mule. I wonder if any of her friends will have the nerve to tell her that she rode a donkey.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Not quite "9 1/2 weeks", but...

There's nothing better in this world than good food and good sex. I'm sure that 99% of you would agree with me. With that in mind, I suggested to a friend who runs a B&B that we should offer an aphrodisiac cooking class for the Valentine's day weekend featuring the culinary talents of "yours truly". After all, I did seduce a certain Mr. T through the stomach...

I was excited about exploring the viability of this venture, but then real life took over right before the holidays and I had to put my culinary fantasies on hold. Well, my friend just contacted me to announce that there is a huge interest in the cooking classes!!! Not only do they want me to do the Valentine's day class, but they also want me to give Mexican cooking classes on a regular basis at their hotel!!

I am thrilled beyond words!!! Nothing spices up my life like a new challenge. I'm doing the happy dance!!! :) :) :)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Deep thoughts

Coordinating a wedding is like flying an airplane: You experience long bouts of boredom punctured by brief moments of sheer panic.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


As I was driving to today's wedding I received a phone call from a very charming prospective client. We briefly discussed his wedding plans and I explained my range of services. He seemed quite pleased with what I had to say and had a reasonable budget, all of which made me extremely happy. Until...

"We're going back home tomorrow", said the groom.

"That's o.k.," said I, trying to downshift and make a U-turn all with one hand while sounding professional on my cell phone. "I will send you more information via e-mail and we can then set up a formal phone meeting to discuss your wedding plans."

That's when he dropped the bombshell.

"Actually, you'll be dealing mostly with my mother and my fiancee's mother during the planning process because they live in Mexico."

I almost drove off a cliff.

"Um, I don't think I'm available for that date." I mumbled.

"But we haven't determined a date yet!" said the confused groom.

", well...I'll send you some information soon. Have a good weekend!!"

I hung up as fast as I could, trying to control the waves of nausea that developed at the thought of having to work with not one, but TWO Mexican wedding mothers! No amount of money is worth that type of torture!

Friday, January 05, 2007

The thrill is gone

The first wedding of the year is tomorrow, but gone are the excitement and anticipation previously associated with coordinating an event involving a dozen vendors and hundreds of guests.

When I started my company just over two years ago, I lived for the moment when my team's efforts came together flawlessly and the dream the clients had been envisioning for many months became a reality. I worked tirelessly on the day of the wedding, feeling almost as excited as the bride and groom, and I glowed upon receiving appreciative comments from guests and clients. My work complete, I would climb into bed feeling proud and satisfied because I'd touched someone's life in a positive way.

Two years later, the good performance and uplifting acknowledgements are still there but the work no longer feeds my spirit. I now climb into bed after the conclusion of a wedding feeling thankful that yet another event is over and I don't have to deal with that particular drama anymore. Planning weddings has become tedious, boring, repetitive, and uncreative. I developed a hard, crusty shell of cynicism as I realized that many couples place more importance on the color of their flowers than on the meaning of their union. They stress out over the most insignificant items and blame me for not meeting their unrealistic expectations.

I see my wedding planning job merely as a way to generate much-needed income, but most of the time it leaves me empty inside, yearning for my true calling. The problem is: I am not sure what that calling is. What I am certain of is this: I don't want to be in the same place at this time next year. I want to find the passion in my life, rekindle the flame that pushes me out of bed in the morning and keeps me awake late into the night.

Inertia, complacency, and fear are keeping me from moving forward. Leads keep arriving in my inbox, my vendor team has become strong and trustworthy, and I've automated the wedding planning process to make it easy for my clients and I to navigate. Faced with this scenario, I am forced to listen to a voice inside my head that asks: "Why would you throw away a good thing?"

I must agree that this voice has a point: I've worked hard for over two years, putting in countless 14-hour days and sacrificing most of my weekends to build a stable source of full-time income that now requires only part-time attention.

Many would consider me fortunate, since I have the opportunity to search for my true calling while still putting food on the table. However, this might be the very thing that's holding me back. When I started my company, it was out of a burning need for independence, autonomy, and freedom from the financial and emotional oppression of my marriage. Am I the kind of person who must find herself in dire circumstances before rising to meet the next challenge? I pray that I am not.

All I know is that the thrill is gone, replaced by apathy and fear of failure. Writing about it is cathartic; reading my own words reduces the dimensions of my quandary into manageable proportions. I've re-made myself several times already: from Human Resources manager to magazine editor and then to wedding planner. It is time for me to step into the magic phone booth and re-emerge as my new identity...As soon as I figure out what that new identity is...