Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jelly Belly

I found out the hard way that Pole Dancing is not my forte. The classes were too free-form. Instructions to "Practice Being Sexy" are not specific enough; the "sexy spins" cause minor nausea; and much of the art is dependent on upper arm strength. It is too hard AND too easy at the same time.

On the other hand, there is Belly Dancing. All I can say is: Finally. Yes, it is about time that I have found an activity in which an over sized posterior is an asset. With minimal wiggle, my body responds with maximum jiggle. One could say I am a natural.

First, we learned the "Omi", which is simply moving the hips in a circle. My hours of Wii Hula Hoop have made me an expert at this move, and so I was able to move on with relative ease to the "Figure 8". As the name implies, this move is accomplished by tracing a figure 8 with your hips. It is a little easier to do the figure 8 in one direction than the other. I am a "left 8", but the "right 8" is not too difficult. A more challenging move is the "Vertical Figure 8" in which the hips rotate up and down to trace the figure 8. We learned a few other moves, and then practiced doing the omi very very quickly - until it becomes a "shimi". I found this very difficult to do correctly, but this is where my jiggle became an asset. I was totally able to fake the shimi with amazingly little effort.

It will probably come as a surprise to my readers to learn that the hardest move (judging by the abilities of the whole class) was the "Snake Arms". The dominant hand has no trouble performing the move. The hand seems to float on air as the arm moves gracefully up and down. The non-dominant hand appears drunk as the hand juts out from the arm sharply and stabs at the air. I found that with a bit more concentration on my non-dominant hand, I was able to perform the snake arms with few problems. I am pretty ambidextrous in my daily life, and I have designated "chores" for each arm rather than letting just one arm have all the fun. Most of my classmates, however, tended to have one lovely snake arm, and one zombie arm.

Belly dancing is definitely closer to what I was looking for in the realm of exotic dancing fitness. The class was more structured than pole dancing, and fun. The workout was about the equivalent of a brisk walk - not a huge calorie-burner, but enough to get the metabolism going (I hope). My only regret: I got to class just as it was about to begin, and I didn't get there early enough to don a complimentary wrap of bangles. The teacher said they are available online for $9.99, but I am not quite ready to make that commitment. I just hope to get there earlier next time.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Restaurant Week

Once a year, the pish posh, hoity toity restaurants of Baltimore offer special menus in order to get poor lowly patrons like me and my friends to have girls nights out. The cost is still up there - $30.09 (why the extra nine cents?) per person. But - this is for an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. So, compared to the average chain restaurant, is this really so much?

Case Study - I picked three random items at Applebees: Dynamite Shrimp ($6.99); Fiesta Lime Chicken ($10.99); and then my purpose became rather anti-climatic because they do not have the prices for desserts listed. But let us say for the sake of argument that the "Strawberry Cheesecake" costs $3.99. Grand total: $21.97. So not too much less.

You may notice, however, that the above "meal" is enough to feed a family. I participated in three girls nights out in a span of six days. At my first outing, I toughed it out. No doggie bags for me! I was brave! Sure, I could have taken that ginormous piece of chocolate cake home. But what message would that convey? That I am a quitter? That I can't take the heat? Heck no! I stuffed myself so much that I could not move for the rest of the night.

And no, I am not truly proud. Truly, I am disgusted with myself. At my second outing, I ordered the salad. I was pleased with myself, and then the waitress brought out my food. And only mine. Boy, I hate that. I sit there, hungry, with a plate of food in front of me, and my friends wait. After 5-7 minutes, I take a nibble. After 10-12 minutes, I have finished half my plate. After 15 minutes, the waitress returns with two coldish burgers and fries. As I am nearly done with my salad, I can do little but drool over their heavenly burgers. Argh. I end up eating half of my friend's burger AND my meal.

OK, number three. This place was oh so yummy with its tuna AVOCADO plate for an appetizer. I have a mini-obsession with avocados. I do not know why. For my main course, I skipped over the meat trio, and tried the "Vegetarian Nirvana". Honestly, I am not sure what was in this dish, but it satisfied my new rule of going out - that it should be something I will not turn around and make at home. Whatever it was, it was a heavenly blend of black beans and pineapples. I could have done without the large banana leaf used as a garnish. (Do I eat this, or is it for looks? Really, there should be an instruction manual with some meals.) I then ate my yummy bananas foster bread pudding. At the end of my meal, I was full, but not stuffed. However, this was achieved with no will power of my own, so I think I will chalk it down as a draw.

Many of the restaurants have decided to extend their specials until Feb 8th. Is it possible for me to win one yet?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pole Dancing: Level 1

Beginner Pole Dancing was a snap. With relative ease, my sister and I had mastered the “sexy walk” and several of its sexy counterparts. The web site had claimed that the class would be a workout, but it was not strenuous enough for me to put it on my diet sheet as a negative calorie activity. I desperately need negative calorie activities, because my positive calories are getting a bit out of control. So, without further ado, we attempted “Pole Dancing: Level 1”.

The Level 1 class began with a short refresher on “sexy walking” and moved right on to “sexy slides”. We had learned a sexy slide in the beginner class, but it turns out there are many variations. Unfortunately, I do not remember the terminology, and though I assume everything is sexy, I have attributed the following names myself. (I figure you may wish to know this so as not to embarrass yourself when discussing career moves with your local pole dancing representative.)

Slide #1: The “Kinky Kick”: Position yourself with back to pole, gripping above the head with one hand and behind the back with the other. Gracefully point your toe, and slide your foot up the other leg’s shin to the knee. Then gracefully straighten your pointed toe leg, and lift it as high as possible. Repeat two more times, then, with leg still extended, release your grip on the pole enough to slide to the floor.

Slide #2: The "Slip N' Slide": This is really just a simple slide down the pole, one leg out in front, and the other just bending at the knee. Our instructor had a way of making it graceful, almost accidental, like "Oops, did I just sexily land myself on the floor? I better writhe around a little bit and get back up."

I am becoming a pro at slides.

But then we moved on to "Sexy Spins". A little background for the few of my Constant Readers who have not had the privilege of watching me vomit - and before you recoil in disgust, note that I have actually puked on a few of you, so count your blessings if you are a mere observer: I do not bode well with certain amusement park rides. Most notably, the "Tilt a Whirl" (or Tilt A Hurl), and the aptly named "Hell Hole" have left me incapacitated for hours. So, while our instructor demonstrated various ways to gracefully grip the pole and rotate around it, my sister and I flung ourselves at the pole in order to gain momentum with little actual strength. We zipped quickly around the pole at hyper-speeds. While our instructor conveyed a deliberate, "Look at me, I'm so hot and beautiful" kind of message, I conveyed more of a "Holy crap! I better hold on to this pole so as not to fly off of it!" kind of message. And I felt lunch returning for a second go-around. Very un-sexy.

Next, we again attempted a few body lifts on the pole. I succeeded in a slight hop, and I did not manage to lift myself at all. Our instructor hops up on the pole, and flips herself upside down. She does some sexy things with her legs, slides part way down, and then rights herself before sliding sexily to the ground. My sister and I look at one another. Ummm...are we still in the Level 1 Class?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Most Depressing Day of the Year

Though the exact date is a point of contention between experts, the results are clear: one of the days this week holds the esteemed title of "Most Depressing Day of the Year!" I sure hope it was yesterday because I would like to get that out of the way once and for all.

As an engineer, I must geekily admit that I love the idea that this highly subjective subject is, in fact computable. According to psychiatric experts, the factors affecting depression can be handily applied with this simple formula: ([W+(D-d)] x TQ)/(M x NA). Awesome.

So - we have "W" the weather, "D" debt, "d" monthly salary, "T" time since Christmas, "Q" time since failed New Years resolution, "M" motivation levels, and "NA" the need to take action. I would attempt to calculate my own personal most depressing day, except for the slight oversight that a few of these factors are not, in fact, numbers. I am not sure if psychiatrists realize that a key to actually solving a math problem is an inherent need for numeric representations.

For instance, let us apply the following formula: [(B+D) x F)]/(PxT).
"B" number of beers consumed at a party = 6
"D" number of desserts consumed at a party = 9
"F" number of friends at a party = 126
"P" number of potty breaks = 1
and "T" time at party= 45 minutes

Put them all together and we have: 42. The answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Confession of a Complacent Citizen, Part II

For the past weeks, the news here in Charm City has been permeated by the eminent visitation of our president-elect. I am a bit hesitant to adopt extreme partisanship when it comes to politics, because we must remember that the government is comprised of politicians: people whose job entails making you believe that he/she is a saint among sinners. However, I must admit that Barack Obama is already on his way to endearing himself in the hearts and minds of Americans. His ability to bring the government to the people astounds me, and though it may be an illusion, I feel that this man actually cares what I, personally, think. Take a look at his web site: Here, you can volunteer to take part in the campaign, read the Obama blog, and share your ideas in the "Citizens Briefing Book". Surely, these ideas are read by random interns or aides with their own agendas....but what else can a president do to connect to the common man? And now? He is coming to visit my own little neck of the woods.

And what do I do? I take an alternate route into the city. Yes, that's right. I pay $4 to avoid the first politician I have dared to trust. For most of the day, I have been feeling like a hypocrite - I talk like I like this president, and when he comes to speak, I don't even bother to see him in person. Honestly, if the weather was better, I would have gone. Despite the horror of traffic/parking conditions. Despite the lack of decent public transportation options in this city. Despite the apparent body cavity search, and the possible confiscation of my thermos of hot beverage and/or hand warmers. And despite the fact that people were seated at 1pm for a 15 minute (correction: 11 minute) speech to take place three hours and fifteen minutes later. Yes, I would have endured these things. But it is f-ing COLD outside! Eleven degrees to be exact, and though it holds no candle to the minus 44 in North Dakota, it's enough to make me whine. (Actually, I begin imparting my misery to anyone within earshot at about 28 degrees...)

I was in the city early this morning, volunteering as a judge for the annual Future City Competition. This is for 7th and 8th graders, intended to teach middle schoolers about engineering and promote the career choice. The kids do a lot of work, and I really enjoy interacting with them, hearing their creative (and sometimes off the wall) ideas for infrastructure, transportation, and environmental resourcefulness in cities of the future. The competition location has an excellent view of the downtown area of Baltimore, and the harbor was eerily empty this morning. No boats, save a fire truck around 11am, and not even any wind. Ice was formed over a shady section. Likewise, there was no traffic on this side of the city - few cars, and even fewer air traffic of course. It was sort of like a ghost town, and even when I went to the recycling center, there was no one there. I guess all the hype about how horrendous it would be to move around when the president visited hit home. No one went out.

I began to think that maybe poor Mr. Obama would be talking to an empty plaza. I began to think I should turn back and read the obnoxiously confusing signs in Federal Hill to find a parking space. (Seriously - they read something like "No parking from 7am to 7pm the first Monday through Sunday of each month with 31 days on opposite side of street and 2 hour parking at other times except within 45 minutes of a stadium event in which case you better have a resident sticker." Misreading of said notice - or god forbid not knowing when the Orioles have a home game - costs $42. But I digress.) Then I saw the electronic sign over the interstate: "Inauguration event at capacity. Overflow to Inner Harbor." This means that the plaza holding 30000 people where Obama is to appear is full one hour before the scheduled seating time, and the remaining people must go to a site three blocks away to view the speech on a huge big screen tv. Living room, here I come.

I nearly missed the speech, which started at 4:15pm, because I turned on the tv at 4:23. It is now 5:42pm, and I hear people are still trying to get out of the city. I? Am feeling a lot better about my choice.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On to the Next Adventure!

For Christmas, my sister decided to (get me back) return the favor for the Bikram Yoga classes I bought her. That's right. She got me (gulp) exotic dancing classes. Many of you unenlightened ladies out there are still planning to work out by walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, or worse, running/biking outside. With nature. I know I know. You all plan to begin this regimen tomorrow. Right.

Well that's where exotic dancing comes in. It has the advantage of an excellent strength training workout, without the boring old boringness of "traditional" exercise. However, it was with trepidation that I perused the class schedule, which includes "pole dancing" (beginner, level 1, and level 2); "exotic floor and chair dancing", and "belly dancing". Eventually, I suppose we will try all three types of class, and so I chose "beginner pole dance" as class numero uno. I also read the website inside and out. Unlike Bikram, I hoped to be prepared for whatever potential embarrassment I might endure. Hence, I showed up to class with two pairs of high heels that looked semi-appropriate, a change of clothes, a yoga mat (?), and a bottle of water. Sounds like the contents of a sorority girl's purse on a Saturday night. Zing!

I stowed most of this (unnecessary) gear in a cubby, and entered the pole room, where sis and I each picked a pole situated near the back. Several other girls filtered in, chatting nervously as we awaited the adventure.

During class, we learn a few moves:
1. The "sexy walk" - lifting our legs high with pointed, elegant heels, we take deliberate steps around the pole. One hand rests gracefully on the pole, while the other hand does a
2. "sexy trace": Whenever we have a free hand, we are supposed to rub it elegantly over our decidedly unsleek bodies, up our necks, and under our hair. (Oops, note to self: pony tail is unsexy.)

On the bright side, this is all done at our own pace and is basically just exaggerated walking rather than dance. Except for my heels getting a bit caught up in my bell-bottomed yoga pants, I am relatively successful at completing the moves.

3. The "sexy turn" wherein we basically switch hands on the pole and walk in the other direction. Naturally, we are to remain sexy while doing this.
4. The "sexy leg lift" - we sexily imitate a male dog at a fire hydrant, and the
5. "better view", where we switch our leg position to the front of the pole, giving our imaginary audience behind us a look at the goods. (Next note to self - do not pick pole directly behind the instructor next time....then look at other participants. On second thought, perhaps this is a good position.)

We then stand in front of the pole, and grip it with one arm raised and the other low. We begin
6. the "sexy slide": In a decidedly unsexy manner, I attempt to mimic the instructor, who has gracefully crossed one leg beneath the other, and has slid to the ground with her bottom leg outstretched. I release the grip on the top hand and jerkily descend to the ground, landing with an audible thud. Several classmates have similar results.
7. Then, the floor exercises, which include "the sexy snake" and the "sexy cat". We lie on our stomachs in front of our poles and lift our torso while sexily bending one knee with an elegantly pointed heel and/or gyrating our hips. I look forward to see my sister's bum - gyrating. Luckily, I get her back when we reverse directions to work the other side.
8. As you probably guessed by now, we will certainly need to do something sexy in order to get back up. This is my favorite, and likely my most unsexy move: "the butterfly". We crouch hippy-style with the pole between our legs. I can't remember how we got to this position, but I assure you: it was sexy. Then, we flap our legs in and out (like butterfly wings), rising slightly higher with each "flap". We perform the "sexy trace" with one hand, and grasp the pole with the other. This definitely works out the thighs, abs, and butt. It is very difficult to maintain a sexy face when the body is in this much pain.
9. Last, we practice jumping up on the pole and suspending ourselves with arms bent and legs squeezed around the pole. I hold this position for nearly 2 seconds, but my sister is still hanging up there (sexily of course) for the duration of the exercise. We try again, and I manage about 2.5 seconds.

At the end, we do a full routine, in which all the moves are practiced. I actually manage the "sexy slide" in a nearly sexy manner.

Then we gathered our sexy things from our sexy cubbies. We got in our sexy cars and drove home in a sexy manner. This was not boring, and not hell. At this point, I like it better than Bikram, but I am not sure I am ready to ditch the spin classes.
Next lesson: Pole Dancing, Level 1.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Carrying a Concealed Umbrella

Yesterday, I took my (ahem) "daily" lunchtime walk, when a cop car came driving toward me. I am not sure all people feel uncomfortable when passing a cop, but I do. My mind begins to race: should I look at him? Should I look away? Do I look guilty? Why should I look guilty? I am not committing a crime...unless "carrying a concealed umbrella is a crime." Hahahahah, my inner self nervously laughs. The car passes. I opt for "smile and look", and his window is down. He looks a bit like the cop in the beginning of Terminator 2, who turns out to be an evil Terminator sent to destroy sweet Ah-nold. I wonder if I was just passed by a police impersonator. And I make a mental note to google "carrying a concealed umbrella" when I return to the office. Hey, it beats work.

Phew! Carrying a concealed umbrella does not appear to be a crime based on my extremely extensive 10 minute research.

However...the umbrella can be used as a weapon. Oh yes. In fact, a company actually markets an umbrella specifically designed to beat the tar out of a watermelon. So don't say you've never learned anything on my blog...

...unless you already knew that. I will be wary the next time I see a cop holding an umbrella in broad daylight.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

From Pepped to Pooped

The alarm rang this morning. To say I was startled is an understatement. I was offended. "I have to kick ass again?" I thought. Ugh. I think I got a little too pepped for Monday, and I forgot Tuesday. Now it is dawning on me. I still have Wednesday to contend with tomorrow. Thankfully, I picked up my Ambien yesterday...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Punting the Posterior

Can I just say: I am kicking ass today. That is, my ass. And in a good way, not like, in a fall down the stairs kind of way.
So: Yesterday was the last day of my wonderful, wonderful "staycation". It is what it sounds like - I was home for nearly an entire week, doing nothing. By nothing, I mean: reading, sleeping (a lot), doing laundry (like 6 loads. Really.), leisurely choosing recipes to cook, buying the ingredients, and cooking, and, of course, spending time increasing my BMI according to the Wii Fit. Surprisingly few calories are burned when 90 percent of your day is spent sleeping or watching movies.
But all good things come to an end, and I think I was actually ready. Not excited. Not like "yay, it's the first day of school and I hope I get a good locker/homeroom kind of ready, but, lets say, prepared. Last night, I packed my gym bag, measured out oatmeal for breakfast each day, updated my diet spread sheet, and even poured my water for the morning. I hunkered down with my new book (second of the year already! Of course, I won't have that kind of time for a while...). I read, I slept, I got up. And carpe diem, I went out there and said "World, gimme whacha got!" (Sidebar: I'm not too good wit' spellin' out the slang...)
Normally, I return from a vacation to find 15 messages on the phone, like a bazillion emails, and even a few faxes from the old-timers. Also, there tend to be things piled on my chair. These represent things that other people have done for me while I was busy lounging, or things that I must do immediately upon return. I had two items today - one something someone had done for me, and another I thought someone had done for me. I filed these items in my recycling bin, and was reminded via exclamation point infested email with bold red text that it most certainly had not been done for me. I was pretty close to getting the ALL CAPS email. No harm done, by the way. Some people just get a little nutty with the punctuation.
Returning to my awesomeness:
1. I actually ate my oatmeal. Normally, I bring it and then fill up on sugar laden coffee all morning. By lunch I am, of course, ravenous, and not all that interested in the sensible meal I packed for myself. I then follow my nose to the nearest burrito joint. (Sidebar 2: They are putting in a Chipolte across the street - which increases quantity of burrito joints within walking distance to TWO. This has potential for my demise. And rumors are circulating that an Arby's is soon to follow. Can you say Jamocha shake? My demise is imminent.)
2. I actually walked at lunch. Often, I look at the clock and see lunchtime began 15 minutes ago, and then I see the daily sudoku waiting for a supergenius such as myself to begin filling in the blanks. I then take my puzzle with me as I follow my nose to the nearest burrito joint.
3. I remembered to run errands, such as to the bank, to the store, and to the pharmacy for the prescriptions I ordered a week ago. Many times, these mundane tasks are penciled in for "later" because I would rather enjoy my puzzle at the burrito joint.
4.Normally, I begin a task only find that I had accomplished nothing despite being very busy for 8 hours. Today, I was the epitome of efficiency. I do not expect this nugget of efficiency to last, though my method was effective: if I thought of something to do while in the middle of something else, I wrote it down. Duh.
5. I added "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Quantum of Solace" to my Netflix queue. The ability to add movies to the queue while they are still in the theater is not a new feature of the site, just something I have been kicking myself for not doing each time I receive something like "Monty Python's And Now For Something Different". Never heard of it, you say? There's a reason for that. I have one o' my blogging peeps to thank for the reminder, since she wrote a review of the Button movie as her post. (I added Hamlet 2 also.) Unfortunately, I just don't feel movies are worth the uber-expensive experience in the theater unless they are action-packed or full of cool special effects. And even when they do meet the criteria (i.e. Quantum of Solace), we are often too busy to make it there. (Sidebar 3: While searching for the Bond movie, I found collections of "Quantum Leap" on DVD. Ahh, Scott Bakula, so under-rated. Need I tell you that these also found their way to my queue?)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Adding Insult to Injury

As my Constant Readers may know, I started this blog in March 2008 after three months of successful dieting. My theory was that a blog should have a topic, but I stray from the topic much (most) of the time. I found that 24-7 of any topic would likely become dull, and my Constant Readers (ha ha like all 5 of you) would tire of my writing if I were to describe each and every mind battle over baked goods. Over the holidays, I have strayed from the topic again...and the diet.

This I knew without benefit of a scale. First off, I have been pretty much feeding on every cookie or candy placed within 20 or 30 feet of my location. I have also been celebrating the holidays with my family (read: drinking like a lush). I even played beer pong on a not so distant occasion, and my losses were not logged in my spreadsheet. In fact, as you know, I have been spread sheet free since October.

Second, my pants don't fit again. Those stupid jeans I bought while possessed by some demon are now the only things I have to wear. This because I dared to be optimistic (and really needed closet space) and I gave my old jeans to the less fortunate. I am such a moron.

But its a New Year, and I have a New Toy. Wii Fit has come to reside in my humble has (deep breath) a scale. Not only this, it is able to compute my body mass index and tell me I am overweight. It is also able to give me a goal, and compute that to get just into the "normal" range, I need to lose 7 pounds. To get almost squarely into the safe zone, it is more like 22.8 pounds. (It would not let me increase my desired weight loss any more than that...) It also told me I GAINED 3.1 pounds in one day. (I am blaming this on "different time of day", which is apparently totally legitimate. I am not blaming the delicious quiche and crab dip my friends made for New Years, which is probably more accurate.)

Sigh...I think I can do this. I did it (for a little while) before, and I felt great, I looked better, and I relished the possibility of a single digit size. I have not worn a single digit size since the 6th grade.

It is day 3 of renewed diet. Already, my jeans fit better. (Of course...I haven't washed them for three days either...)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Doing This and That

First, this:

I would like to welcome my cousin's NEW BABY to the family!! I love reading "Mommy Blogs" - like Land of Bean, Baby On Bored, and Maternal Mirth, just to name a few. Hint, hint!

Now that:

I return once again to a favorite topic: blogging about why I haven't been blogging. In general, holidays (and visits from friends/family, and parties) tend to inflict upon me a"disease of motivation". For instance, to prep for my annual "Tour de PA" as I like to call it, I had to:
1. Go to work and finish project before leaving at noon.
2. Wrap presents.
3. Pack clothes into suitcase.
4. Bake pie.

I'll leave this to you, Constant Reader: One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong. But nonetheless, it was my plan. It came about quite innocently - my grandmother gave me a peck of apples at Thanksgiving. For those unfamiliar, a peck is actually a **itload of apples. I made two pies and apple crisp, yet there were still enough apples to make another pie. But I did not think they would last until I returned. So in my own little world, baking a pie made sense. But this odd choice of tasks is common. In years past, I have:
1. Cooked 20 mini loaves of sweet breads complete with cute little labels for family and friends. I made the loaves not just for family I knew I would see, but also for family I might see.
2. Went to Harry and Davids at the mall on Christmas Eve to buy their awesome pears so they would be perfectly ripe on Christmas Day.
3. Purchased cards and little ornaments for everyone in the office.
4. Made sugar cookies for my friend's annual cookie exchange - and made 4 colors of icing and decorated each of the six dozen cookies by hand.
5. Cleaned the bathrooms, and tidied the living room, then began dusting each and every crevice, including behind the microwave, fridge, and stove, and cleaned out the refrigerator, and forgetting to change and shower before guests arrive.

The list goes on, but hopefully you see the point. My brain begins thinking of practical, even necessary preparations, and then goes into hyper- over- drive and tells me the car floor mats and car interior MUST be clean by the time of the event. I have been suffering this disease for most of December, but thankfully, it is out of my system.

The worst part is that usually my preparations go like this:
1. Try very hard to finish project at work, but realize that I must ask someone else to finish it while I am away, and end up staying to write detailed email and organize the file until 1pm.
2. Begin to wrap presents and then realize that one present is not in the bag, though it says I paid for it on the receipt. Travel back to store on Christmas Eve, fight to get into parking lot, fight for parking space, stand in line for 45 minutes, get gift replaced (this was the easy part), fight to pull out of parking space, fight to leave lot, and return home.
3. Begin packing after my ride has arrived. Throw random pieces of clothing into bag as they wait in their winter jackets, and hope for the best. (I had to do laundry at Adam's mom's house...)
4. Bake nothing. Throw out rotten apples promptly upon return.

Luckily, I am home. Luckily, I have nothing to do...except pick up my parents, cousins, and uncle from their Rose Bowl travels. Maybe they would like a pie when they get here...