Saturday, March 14, 2009

And now, a quote from...

Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president of the US (1858 - 1919):

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday, February 13, 1998

I'm not especially superstitious, but I've always liked the aura around Friday the 13th. I turned 18 in late January of 1998, and we waited until Friday, February 13th, to have my very fitting party, a murder mystery party that I co-wrote with my mom. We titled the party, "Another Murder at the Bates Motel." Thanks to all the hard work of my parents and my friends, it was one of the most amazing parties I've ever had. So much so, I've decided to celebrate it all over again by posting all the party details on this Friday the 13th.

The Invites—I used puzzle invites to write out the party details and then scrambled all of the pieces in the envelope so each guest had to put the puzzle together to know about the party. Because this was a murder mystery party, my mom and I enclosed a "missing persons" information sheet that told the introductory story of the murder and gave a picture of the woman. "She was last seen driving around town in her 1982 maroon Buick Oldsmobile."

The Food—We had mostly normal party food—think veggies and dip and chips and dip, but the cake was something of a sight. It was a strawberry sheet cake with white icing. Right down the middle, my mom had put a giant faux butcher knife. With blood red icing dripping out of either sight...well, it was pretty murderous.

The Beverage—My mom floated plastic eyeballs in Hawaiian punch.

The Photos—We took a large silhouette (think life size) of Norman Bates dressed up as a woman, wielding a giant knife, and painted it in black on a white sheet. We took the white sheet and stretched it tight across two thin boards and nailed it down. We cut out the head of the silhouette, and each guest took a turn standing behind it for some hilariously gruesome photos.

The Decorations—My dad spent weeks making a "No Vacancy - Bates Motel" sign. He used red and blue Christmas lights to spell out all the letters and attached them to a black board. Nothing says murder mystery party like this sign in your front yard.

Once inside, guests each received a Bates Motel room key, with a number on it that assigned them a specific role to play in the murder mystery. We also recreated the crime scene in my parents' garage. Using the 1982 maroon Buick, courtesy of my grandma, we placed the lady and the clues of her last moments in typical caution tape fashion. A few weeks before my party, a local store was going out of business, so I bought one of their half mannequins to play the role of "dead lady." She didn't cost much, seeing as how she was only waist up, but she made an excellent, too-real-not-to-take-another-look prop.

The Game—We had each person's role in the crime written out on different sheets of paper. As they drew a room key, they received their role. We took turns letting everyone read their information until we solved the crime. I've slept since then, so I don't remember the exact details, but I do remember my friend Jay ended up "winning." My mom gave him the faux butcher knife as the prize. I do remember my mom and I spent a lot of time writing the story. It was great, great fun, but it was also insanely crazy to keep up with all the plots and storylines. We'd bought a murder mystery kit and had used it for a previous party, so I know we used that as our guide. If I had it to do all over again, I'd call Deputy Police Chief Brenda Lee Johnson and ask for her advice.

The Gift—I got a lot of great gifts that year, but the one that stands out in my mind is the scrapbook Ruthie and Dawn made for me. As a surprise to me, they had all of my friends write a birthday message to me, and they took pictures of all of my friends and compiled them together. What an awesome gift!

The I Can't Believe This Is Happening Surprise—Because I co-wrote the story with my mom, I wasn't really able to play the game. But, my mom is the Queen of Surprises, and she pulled a good one on me at this party. Here, I thought I knew everything about the crime scene, the game, the decor...a few minutes into the party, the doorbell rang and my mom made me answer it. She'd asked a real detective from our home town to come in and fingerprint the guests!!! Believe me, I was super surprised. I'm also really glad that's the only time a detective has ever been on my doorstep, asking for me!

All in all, my 18th birthday party was very fun and very different...just the way I like it! Thanks again to my parents for all the work they put into it, my brother, Clark, for playing along, and all of my friends who came to the party and contributed to the scrapbook.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Those Little Red Panties

I'm a child of the '80s, so I spent all my teen years in that wonderful era—the '90s. Sure, sure, I know. The '9os brought us The Gulf War and the World Wide Web became available for public use. But what really matters is the music. When I finally decided to ditch digital cable, I secretly wondered what I'd miss more—The Real Housewives of Orange County or the All '90s digital music channel. The jury's still out, but there is one band I'd take over any high def reality cat fight--Third Eye Blind (3eb).

I can't remember when I first started listening to them, but it had to be circa '97. I spent most of my time in high school with my friends, Ruthie and Dawn, and we survived it by spending most of our free time riding around my West Texas hometown, especially dragging Main on Friday nights. We spent most of the time with the windows rolled down, 3eb blaring, talking about guys, talking to guys, and trying to figure out how to talk to the cute guys in our Calculus class. Come to think of it, it was a busy time.

Long after the exhaust on Main had cleared and we'd gotten final grades in Calculus, 3eb was something that moved on to Texas Tech with me. It was in Lubbock during my undergrad days that I stood in a long line just to get floor seats for their concert. Hearing them sing Narcolepsy, Jumper, and my all-time favorite, Semi-Charmed Life, in a live show was awesome.

When I got my first real job and moved to Austin, my friend Jessica also landed the same gig. Her husband needed to finish fulfilling a teaching contract in Lubbock, so she moved in with me and my 3eb collection temporarily. Before all was said and done, her younger sister, Paige, also spent a few months with us. And while I could write (and probably will write) other posts about what it was like to suddenly live with two girls (!!), one thing about our time as roommates sticks out in my mind. One night I emerged from my bedroom to find Jessica and Paige sitting in the living room. They said something about 3eb, and I said, "Oh yeah, I love them." To which they rolled their eyes and said, "Uh, Britt, we know. You sing to them at the top of your lungs."

Now, I will admit. I've got an old Sony Disc Walkman. Kids of the Ipod generation would call it "vintage." And it just so happens, I like to put my 3eb CD in this old Discman and dance around to their greatest hits. What I did not know is that I do this while singing to them at the top of my lungs. I, of course, had never stopped to think about it. I was always too busy perfecting my dance moves. (These dance moves are similar to those portrayed by Kevin James in Hitch. Really, I could have been his choreographer.)

And, until now, this has been a secret only the three of us have known. But I recently discovered, singing along to 3eb is actually en vogue. I'm telling you, the coolest of the cool are doing it. And they aren't shy about it. So, here it is, my full disclosure. And, I can prove I'm not the only who sings Semi-Charmed Life at the top of my lungs.

To view these Hollywood hotties peforming my favorite 3eb song, follow these instructions.

1. Visit this Web site:
2. Click on "Top 10 Chick Flick Cliches not found in the movie."
3. As the actors begin their countdown, watch #9 very closely.

Obviously, this proves it...those little red panties...they still pass the test.

Mucinex DM Is Also the Best Medicine

If you've ever seen the hit movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you know the bride's father is passionate about his home remedy, Windex. Throughout the movie, he touts it as his cure-all, from first aid for a skinned elbow to skin relief for a clogged pore. I, too, have a cure-all--Mucinex. In my opinion, this white pill is the OTC King, and here's why it reigns supreme.

I'm often plagued by allergies that like to lie down and get comfortable in my sinuses, thus making breathing through my nose a luxury, something as sought after as high thread count sheets and no waiting at the post office. In the past, I buckled down and went about life in a half-breathing, I-only-lust-after luxury breathing state. Thankfully, though, the great pharmaceutical overlords began manufacturing Mucinex. Now, if you're a generic med girl, don't worry. Mucinex is an expectorant--and the generic works just as well. One pill, eight ounces of water, and a sneezing fit later and I'm back on the luxury breathing track.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I recently found myself sick again. As my friend Paige describes me, I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. So, of course, I got really, really, really sick. After coughing for 10 hours straight, I mistakenly thought my sore throat was an allergic reaction in progress. But, after slurping down enough kiddie Wal-dryl to knock out a weaker woman, and I still hadn't found relief, I made an appointment with my doctor. After my coughing marathon, I walked into her office looking 99 instead of 29, clutching my chest as though I were a chain smoker and not a non-smoker. My doc, bless her, did not take long to examine me before she started writing out a long string of meds for me to take. When she mentioned my wonder drug, I perked up. But, there was a twist--lo and behold, my wonder drug has been improved. Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you...Mucinex DM...expectorant and COUGH SUPPRESSANT.

My doctor said, "I had the same infection as you've got. Mucinex DM saved my butt.* The DM will supress your cough so you can rest." I left her office and sped over to Target. I stocked up on all my meds, and she was right. Not only did this Mucinex expel the demons of infections raging through my sinuses, it all but muted my cough. Really, is there a better drug than Mucinex DM?

*I'm not making this up. My doctor really spoke to me in plain English. Don't you wish she was your doctor, too?