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Obsessed With Bejeweled Blitz

I’ve chronicled my passionate love for Bejeweled Blitz here a couple of times. If I have a few minutes to kill at work, or just need to zone out and clear my head, I’ll log on to Facebook and play a few rounds. There’s something about the falling jewels stacking up and clearing out, and the Bejeweled announcer rooting me on that relaxes me.

And then the developers upped the ante. Last Tuesday they released an updated version. It was already an addiction for me, but now the jewels are more dazzling, the sounds are all tinkly and crystally, and the announcer gets really worked up when you do well! “Good Job!” “Excellent!” Really, everyone should hear those words once or twice a day.

They also added a few new way to rack up points. They already had the Hypercube, which appears when you line up five of the same jewels. Click on that and then click on any one jewel next to it and it clears ALL of the jewels of that color off the board. To jack up the points they added the Flame, too, which gives you a flashing jewel if you line up four of the same color. You can either match that with two more of the same to get a bunch of points or if you don’t, you still get a bunch points at the end just for being on the board.

Then they added the best feature—The Last Hurrah! And that’s exactly what it is. When the game ends, it automatically searches through possible matches and finishes them off for you, giving you gajillions of bonus points.

Overall, I think each match is worth more too because I seem to bet getting a ton of scores like this:

Still can't get the 150K badge...

Still can't get the 150K badge...

I’m insanely competitive about this. You can see your friends’ scores and I get jealous when they hit 200K, 250K…and I get determined to beat them. I realized I had a serious problem today when I walked away from my computer after playing for 5 minutes…um, okay 25…and my eyes were red, watery and glassy. I had to cut myself off. And then 15 minutes later I was jonesing to play again.

The worst part? Every Tuesday the scores clear out and you start over. I hate Tuesdays.

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A Day at the Fair

When I was a kid, we went to the county fair every year. It was the highlight of my summer. My parents or my friend’s parents would take us and we’d play the midway games and go to the 4-H demonstrations. There were baby goats, pigs—and pig racing—a petting zoo, and milking demonstrations.

And we’d eat. Cotton Candy, hot dogs, soda.

It was heaven for a kid turned loose with $20 in her pocket.

Yesterday we went to the L.A. County Fair. It was the first time in about 15 years that I’ve been to a fair–and it was the first time I went to the L.A. County Fair. I can’t believe how much fairs have changed over the years. They’ve always had the shopping pavillions with the up-and-coming Sham-Wow guys, jewelry cleaners, new windows and arts and crafts. But I don’t know if this is specific to the L.A. County Fair, or if it’s just par for the course now, but there was a section that was like a giant swap meet—cheap clothing and shoes, cell phone supplies and all sorts of randomness. It was kind of disappointing.

But really, the only reason to go to the fair is for the food. From 10 a.m. to midnight you can eat anything you want—in cholesterol-clogging, artery-busting, coronary-inducing quantities.

When we got there, I started with a BBQ beef sandwich and an ear of corn. This was probably the healthiest thing I ate all day. And that corn? Was perfect. It was fresh, crunchy and grilled just enough.

The corn was probably the healthiest thing I ate all day

The corn on the cob rocked my world

When we finished our lunch, I spotted a stand with chocolate-covered bacon.

Photo by Elise Thompson (LAist.com)

Photo by Elise Thompson (LAist.com)

It was basically thick pieces of bacon dipped in dark chocolate and served in Chinese take-out containers. I’m not a fan of dark chocolate, so I didn’t love it, but Bill thought it was weirdly good.

We heard a rumor that someone was serving deep-fried pizza. We didn’t find it, but we did find the deep-fried Oreos. I think I’m in love (and a little bit sick).

Donut-y, Oreo-ish goodness with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate

Doughnut-y, Oreo-ish goodness with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate

And this place…

ChickenCharlies

Chicken Charlies

Chicken Charlies will fry just about anything. They serve fried Avocados, fried White Castle burgers, fried frog legs and fried Twinkies.

I was more interested in a drink at this point.

Daquari and a beer=$24

daiquiri and a beer=$24

The daiquiri cleansed my palate so we went searching for more greasy goodness and found these…

Tasty Chips

Tasty Chips

These Tasty Chips are  hand-cut, homemade potato chips with just the right amount of salt. They give you dipping sauces like ketchup, ranch or this jalepeno cheese sauce. After much sampling and tasting it was determined that for optimal flavor you should dip the chips in ketchup first, then the cheese sauce. Personally, I’m a purist and ate them plain.

By this point, I was feeling a little sick, so I bypassed these….

Caramely delishishness

Caramel-y deliciousness

But I was thinking about having one of these.

Monster Sausage

Monster Sausage

These foot-long Italian sausages are served on a grilled bun, smothered in onions and peppers.

This place…

This place cranks out a lot of BBQ

Juicy's cranks out a lot of BBQ

cranks out a whole lot of this…

Finger-lickin' good

Finger-lickin' good

cazy amounts of chicken, and turkey legs bigger than your head.

That place also serves this:

Okay, I've heard of chicken and waffles. But this?

Okay, I've heard of chicken and waffles. But this?

A chicken sandwich served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

I was sorry I didn’t get a chance to tackle the dill pickles, eat the brick of french fries or eat a waffle cone full of ice cream, but you’d need to hit the fair every single day for a month to hit all of the food places.

And you should keep your cardiologist on speed dial.

I think I’m totally going back next year.

PS: These photos were all taken with my Blackberry. Not too shabby, hu?

Funkadelic (aka the weirdest, vaguest post I’ve ever written)

I’m a little funkadelic these days. And not in the totally awesome get down with your bad self George Clinton kind of way (someone please tell me you get that reference).

It’s more of a I Need To Make a Big Change And It’s Freaking Me Out To The Point Of Nearly Being Paralyzed kind of way. I’m overwhelmed with the thought of it all. Before anyone freaks out—assuming you’re still coming here because this blog sucks a big pile of crap at the moment (*crickets*)—it has nothing to with my marriage (thank GOD for Bill right now, FYI) or friendships (and thank GOD for Lesley) or any of that stuff. I’m not going through a mid-life crisis and I’m not moving (hopefully, that covers all the possible scenarios).

I have decided that I need to take control of a few things in my life. And when I make up my mind about something I just want to DO IT. I’m impatient as hell. I want what I want when I want it. And I usually want it NOW if not sooner! My impatience practically vibrates through my body, pulses through my blood and buzzes in my head. It’s why I can’t sleep, it’s why my shoulders are shoved up so high they live against my ears, giving me excruciating headaches. It’s why I barely have the focus to even read through a short article on TMZ, why I can’t quiet my head. And, obviously, why I can’t write a blog post.

I know this post is obnoxiously vague and I hate it when other people do this, so I apologize. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you more about this soon.

Really, I Have No Idea Why I’m Not Sleeping Well

This is clearly the post of a sleep-deprived person.

I haven’t really slept well lately. I don’t think I’m under an usual amount of stress and there’s nothing life or death about the things I think about. I just can’t shut my head off and get some rest.

Here’s a rundown of my night.

10:00 p.m. Totally exhausted so I climb into bed and sink into my comfy mattress. I prop my pillows up behind my head and watch TV for a few minutes until my eyelids feel so heavy I can’t hold them open.

10:15 p.m. Turn off the TV, turn off the lights, settle into bed and close my eyes.

10:17 p.m. Doze off.

10:20 p.m. Wide awake. Make a mental reminder to grab my iPod in the morning so I can take it to work.

10:21 p.m. Speaking of work, did I remember to send that e-mail before I left? Think about what I need to do when I first get into the office.

10:35 p.m. Think about how much traffic there’s been in the morning and wonder if I should get up a little earlier.

10:36 p.m. Get cranky about having to wake up earlier and vow to just get ready faster in the morning.

11:00 p.m. Remind myself to grab that book before I leave for work because I need to use it as reference for something I’m working on.

11:05 p.m. Realize I will never remember to grab it in the morning, get up, find it and put it by my keys.

11:20 p.m. Let the dog out.

12:00 a.m. Let the dog in.

12:10 a.m. Remember to pay the power bill tomorrow (which is now today).

12:30 a.m. Roll over and pull a pillow over my head to block out Bill’s snoring.

12:50 a.m. Take pillow off my head because it’s hot.

1:00 a.m. Get irritated because I’m still awake and can’t go to sleep.

1:01 a.m. Wonder if it’s too late to take a Tylenol PM. Maybe just one? Probably not a good idea.

1:02 a.m. Will myself to sleep, but the more I do that, the more awake I become. Maybe I should take up meditation? Or yoga?

1:04 a.m. Wonder when I would ever find the time to do yoga since I barely use my gym membership.

1:05 a.m. When did I go to the gym last?

1:15 a.m. Wonder when I’m going to find time to go to Target this week.

1:16 a.m. Mentally make list of stuff I need to get at Target: toilet paper, paper towels, hardwood floor cleaner, soap…

1:17 a.m. Contemplate getting out of bed to write up my target list. And maybe a grocery list.

1:19 a.m. Wonder if I have enough toilet paper to last through the weekend if I can’t get to Target during the week. Maybe I can go Thursday night?

1:21 a.m. Nope. Not Thursday. I have to take Gracie to agility that night.

1:22 a.m. Wonder why the special leash and collar I ordered for Gracie to wear for agility hasn’t shown up yet. Wonder when I ordered it. Hmmm, should be here by now. They usually send orders pretty quickly.

1:30 a.m. Wonder if it’s too late to take shot of NyQuil to knock me out.

1:40 a.m. Let the dog out.

2:00 a.m. Let the dog in.

2:15 a.m. Maybe a half shot of NyQuil?

2:20 a.m. Frustrated because I can’t sleep. Think about everything I have to do this weekend. Things that don’t involve sleeping in. Or even being home much.

2:30 a.m. Hope I get off work on time Thursday night because I have to drive home, pick up Gracie and drive her 40 minutes away to agility.

2:35 a.m. Plan what I need to take to agility. Make backup plan in case new leash doesn’t show up.

2:40 a.m. Doze off.

3:30 a.m. Hear Bill wake up and go into the other room because he can’t sleep.

3:31 a.m. Wonder if my not sleeping is keeping Bill from sleeping.

3:35 a.m. Listen to the coffee pot grind the coffee and wonder why that damn machine makes so much fucking noise.

3:36 a.m. But damn, it makes some good coffee.

3:48 a.m. Do I have enough dog shampoo to bathe Gracie on Friday night? She has a show on Saturday and I have to groom her.

3:49 a.m. Do I have all of her dog show stuff together? Do I need to wash her bowls? Where is her lead?

4:45 a.m. Let the dog out.

6:40 a.m. Let the dog in.

6:50 a.m. Alarm goes off.

7:10 a.m. Get out of bed, totally trashed from not sleeping.

8:25 a.m. Leave the house late. Again. Too tired to get ready on time.

Is it just me or is anyone else—other than Bill—stressed to the max over nothing at all?

Pawsabilities

I signed Gracie up for Agility lessons. If you aren’t familiar with it, agility is kind of like an obstacle course for dogs. There are jumps, climbing obstacles, poles to weave through, tunnels and—god help us—a table that she needs to pause on, usually mid course.

Not Gracie

Not Gracie

I figured that this would be fun for her, and I thought it would be a great way to burn off some of that insane energy I can’t seem to get rid of any other way. And bonus? If I can actually train her to do these obstacles, I might actually have a chance of, ehem, actually training her to behave.

This Isn't Gracie Either

This Isn't Gracie Either

Our first class was on Thursday and even though she was a week behind (all the newbies started while we were on vacation) she caught up quickly and did really well. I’m kind of excited about this—even though I have to run alongside to coach her through the obstacles.

And Neither Is This...

And Neither Is This...

She’s still not finished doing regular dog shows, but we only have two more points to go.

Sometimes I think my life has gone to the dogs.

Random Thursday Thoughts: The Vacation Edition

I’ve been ignoring my blog and I really didn’t mean to. The past week has been full of milestones. I have turned 40, celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary, and went on vacation. I’ve had a million things to write about but haven’t been able to direct a single thought into a coherent post. In fact, I started writing this post TWO DAYS AGO with a glass of wine in hand, thinking I was going to relax and let the words flow but I got sidetracked (OOH, SHINY THINGS! PRETTY), so this is what ya get… I’m sorry.

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We were in Sonoma/Napa for a week, and as amazing as the trip was, I think I’m thrilled to be home. We had an amazing time, but I’m on wine and food overload.

When we got to the Napa Valley, we were armed with a list of wineries we wanted to visit, and we agreed that we were just going to taste—sip and savor the wine and spit it out—not drink.

On Friday—our first full day—we hit three wineries. And I’m guessing it was one too many. Somewhere along the line, that whole tasting plan went out the window. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, and by the time we had lunch it was about 1:00. Since it was our anniversary, I had wine (natch) with my salad. After that, we walked down the block to a tasting room for a winery we like. They sent us to another winery, and that winery sent us to yet another…

I’m sure I got carried away with the whole Hey It’s Our First Day of Vacation and It’s Our Anniversary! And I drank. We split a tasting of about 5 wines at the first place. At the second, we tasted-—and I use this term loosely because these are pretty generous servings—about 5 or 6 more. The third place? I’m pretty sure there were about 7 wines. And my tastebuds were numb.

Add to that the fact that it was 105 degrees.

I didn’t get super sick/drunk, but I definitely had too much wine/sugar/heat that day. After that, I paced myself, but I have eaten my body weight in parmesan cheese, salami and sourdough bread—all with a heavy amount of olive oil. Plus, we had dinner in some amazing restaurants and I felt compelled to try a little of almost everything. I feel like that guy on The Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, who takes on every food challenge he can find. 96-ounce steak? Sure! 12,000 hot wings in 10 minutes? Done. I ate the equivalent of a wheel of cheese, had more frisee and tomatoes than I can count. I slurped soup, peeled shrimp and inhaled pasta. I know I’m lucky but I was so happy to have a plain green salad with iceberg and Italian dressing on our way home.

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Last Friday was our 10-year wedding anniversary! Ten years is a big deal for us. We have stayed together through raising three sons (his), the death of two parents (his), biological clocks ticking exploding (mine), job changes (ours), and a million other little things that added up together make for a crazy life.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I probably wouldn’t change a single day of it (well, maybe a couple). I feel lucky to have met and married my best friend, my partner in life, and the one man who’s most equipped to deal with me and all of my idiosyncrasies. I love him more than my shoes and I’m looking forward to many more years together.

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So I turned 40 and it really wasn’t that bad. Certainly not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m not sure what I was expecting—maybe I thought I’d suddenly become decrepit overnight, hunched over, blind as a bat, complaining about my sciatica—but it was a pretty smooth transition. No additional wrinkles, no gray hairs (as far as you know), and I actually feel better than I did in my 20s. I think I look better, too, if I do say so myself.

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When I was in Northern California I spent the day with one of my best friends. We met on the first day of high school (twenty-mumble-mumble) years ago and we’re still in touch. She saw me through braces, bad perms and ugly school uniforms and she was my maid of honor at my wedding.We don’t talk often and probably see each other even less, but we seem to pick up right where we left off when we do, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

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Tonight I’m putting Crazy Gracie to work. We’re going to take our first agility class together. I’m sure much humiliation (for me) is in the cards. Stay tuned for the update.

Binge and Purge

My husband’s company has been growing so rapidly, that they’re running out of room in the office. Since Bill is rarely ever actually in the office—he’s usually working from his laptop at the various locations he manages—he has to give up his office. He’s still going to need a place to work occasionally, and a place to store files, so we’ve been cleaning out our office at home.

When we were sorting through it this weekend, wading through books and boxes and stacks of crap, I was convinced there were hidden cameras though the house and we were being filmed for the new A&E reality series called Horders. It’s like “Intervention” for pack rats. Instead of drug addictions, we jones for our stuff.

For the most part, our house is pretty clean. The dog is shedding like crazy, leaving puppy-size hairballs everywhere—but our house isn’t what you’d consider dirty.

However, we have so much junk in our house that it gets a little overwhelming. It’s not so out of control that it leaves us with only one path through the house, but we have a lot of knick-knacks, do-dads and whatnot that we just don’t need to display all at once.

When we moved in together, we merged two full apartments worth of furniture, clothes and appliances. It was a lot of stuff to squeeze into an apartment. Before we got married we moved from the apartment to a 2,700 square foot house with a half acre of land behind it. Our stuff fit. In fact, we didn’t seem to have enough stuff to fill the space. But a couple of months after we got married we bought a house that was only about 1,650 square feet. It’s the perfect size for the two of us, but we had a hard time cramming in our crap. Gradually, we figured out what we wanted to keep, what we needed and what fit. Everything else we gave away and donated to Good Will.

Right about that time, Bill’s parents started giving us bags and boxes of things every time we saw them. These were things they thought we’d need—32 containers of dental floss—and things they wanted us to have from their house (full sets of china)—just in case. Bill’s mom was never able to part with a single piece of paper (you never know when you’ll need that phone number), and to some degree Bill has inherited that. He pays most of his bills online, but we still get an obscene amount of mail. I try to stay on top of mine, but there’s stack on the dining room table, so tall it threatens to eat the kitchen. Bill never looks at his. If he does, he opens it, reads it, folds it back up, and places it on top of the envelope it came in. And there it stays. And stays.

We argue about his piles of mail. He’ll put it aside and swear he’s going to shred it soon. And then another pile builds and threatens to take over the dining room. Then he sweeps it all into some place—usually the office at home—where it sits. We have about 10 of these piles stashed everywhere. It’s like contraband.

Add this to my insane collections of stuff. I have collected just about every single Bearista Bear Starbucks has ever produced. I started collecting them in the late 1990s, when they were on Bearista Bear #10 and I will still grab one every time I see them. I have even sent friends in other parts of the country on missions to track down regional bears. I used to display them in my office at my old job, but now they’re all in massive Rubbermaid bins in the attic. All 60 or so of them.

Da Bears

Da Bears

On top of that, neither one of us have ever thrown out a birthday card, anniversary card, letter or postcard. And I have never been able to part with a book.

I still have my Norton Anthology of Shakespeare and Norton’s Chaucer from college. Bill has them too. I also have every book I had to read in college. Some are cherished. Some of there because I never really did read them but I hope to one day. Every trashy novel (not those bodice-ripping Harlequins, although I used to love Kathleen Woodiwiss) by Jackie Collins and Olivia Goldsmith is stored lovingly on my sagging shelves. Every crime thriller (Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham) is packed so tight I can’t jam another one on the shelf. My beloved chick lit (Jennifer Lancaster, Jane Green, Emily Giffin) is lined up neatly in all their pastel-covered book jacket beauty.

But there’s no more room. The bookcases are on overload, the closets are bursting, and we can no longer cram all that other stuff we have no idea what to do with into the corners.

So yesterday we got brutal. We went through the office ruthlessly tossing old mail, junk, papers, newspaper articles, warranties to appliances we no longer own, and other random crap that has no purpose.

Then I sorted through the bookshelves in the office and the ones off the family room. I pulled out piles of books that I know I will never read, books that I kept because I wanted people to think someone read them (C’mon, like you don’t do that) and novels that I read, hated and will never look at again. We even got rid of one our our Shakespeare anthologies. I stacked them all neatly, lovingly, by size and genre. Then I packed them up to be donated, hoping they find good homes.

And then I cried.

But I have to say, the house looks so much better, more organized. Cleaner.

There’s more to do. I’ve slowly been tackling my dresser and closet. I donated three garbage bags full of clothes, and I’m sure I can purge more. I sorted through one of the closets down the hall and I need to go through the one in the guest bedroom. It’s stuffed with old pillows, blankets, a computer that hasn’t worked in 10 years, old suits that my husband will never wear, picture frames and god only knows what else.

It’s embarrassing for so many reasons.

But we’re thinning things out, paring down and purging.

Because if we don’t? You’ll see us on Hoarders next season, buried under our own junk.