Friday, August 25, 2006

Dress Shopping!

So, my friend sent me this link to another triathlete's blog about dress shopping. It is really funny, and very true. Now, I might not be as buff as this other chick, but I went dress shopping last weekend also for a dress to attend a wedding, and just about the same thing happened. I ended up buying a dress made out of strechy material, because I can't fit into anything normally...or maybe stores don't make their dresses to fit normal people! :) Anyway, here is her blog if you need some humor, since most of her blog entries are pretty funny, and she is a great writer, and here is her post if you feel like reading it:

"Shop ‘Til You Drop

This weekend, I had to go shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding in September. Now I enjoy shopping just as much as any other girl, but it’s limited to a few things; housewares, underwear, and food. All of which have nothing in common. For example, you will never find me standing in my underwear, wielding a spatula, and baking a cake. Along those same lines, you will never find me shopping for a dress. But there is a first time for everything, right?

With my mother along, I started at Ann Taylor, because according to my mother-in-law, the record-holding National Champion of Retail Shopping, it would be a good place to find a nice, sexy petite-sized dress. I must have looked clueless, helpless, and hopeless because upon entering the store, a woman I assume was the retail fashion support specialist gave me a look once up and down before pressing the secret button alerting any available personnel to call FEMA as the store had just been hit with a 5 ‘ 2” fashion disaster. Before back-up arrived, she quickly offered her assistance. Soon after, she led me into the dressing room with an assortment of dresses I would never wear but would have to wear because this was one of those kitschy weddings in San Diego.

“How about this” she says while pointing to some cute, dainty little black lace top with a wispy black skirt. I immediately think it would be perfect if my name was Holly Go Lightly and I was having breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I realize it is probably better to at least pretend to be interested, cooperative, and excited in the most fashionably feminine of ways.

“It’s a bustier” she added, as if that terminology meant anything to me, as if someone without a bust would want to happily accentuate being bustless and bony. I quickly point out that I don’t have much to bust-ee-up in a bustier. “Oh, nonsense,” she says and convinces me to give it a try. And moments later, to her dismay, I confirmed that yes you do need a bust to wear a bustier.

On to a halter style dress. In a perfect world, where I have perfect 34 C’s and perfect tiny little shoulders, this dress would have looked good. But after 4500 yards in the pool earlier that morning, I look like Brett Favre in drag. The retail fashion support specialist looks at me and makes a giant leap of logic, “You must workout.” I wonder what gives her that idea. Perhaps the fact that a winter’s worth of swimming has left me with the super-sized shoulders and the veins of an addict after a long night of fixing. “Yeah, a little,” I lie and wonder if they have a special section for those of us that workout. It seems like they have a section or store for every other type of person out there but what I haven’t seen is the section for Ironman, for women who have eaten their body weight in food for the week and walk around in cycling shorts and jog bras because their shoulders are too big or waists are too small or thighs are too swollen to fit into any normal clothes.

Next up, a classic sexy little black dress with a slip-like halter top in size 0P. Not to be confused with the cool clothing line from the 80’s (OP), a size 0P stands for zero petite. In other words, you are so small that you almost mean nothing to us but we had to make a size for you anyways so we figured we’d call you a zero to rub in the fact that you are too small to shop in an adult store or wear big girl pants so you best take your business Baby Gap. Despite feeling like a zero, a nada, a nothing, I take a few spins around and I’m quite pleased – it doesn’t make me look like I have the shoulders of a linebacker, or inverted breasts, or the arms a gorilla. Curious, and considering a purchase, I look at the pricetag. $158. Wait a minute, does it do something else? Is there an added feature that I’m missing? Was it not costly enough for me to stand in this dressing room surrounded by what feels like carnival funhouse mirrors under excessive and unflattering lighting as I tried on five dresses that reminded of the fact that I am too small in some places, too big in others, and in general too short for everything. File this one under “N” for nada or NO.

Disgruntled, I try to abruptly take the dress off while cursing Ann Taylor, whoever she is, and her over-priced outfits and somehow in trying to get out of the dress, it spins an impenetrable web around me. This type of superpower must be why it costs $158, I thought. Trapped in its sticky hold, I make a forceful effort to wiggle my way out but the silky layers of the dress shuffle around me leaving my arms, head, and shoulders entwined with the tiny black straps for hanging, the halter straps, and the zipper.

“Liz? Where are you?” my mom calls out from the dressing room area.

“I’m in here,” I mumble in a voice muffled under layers of sheer black fabric.

Standing there, trapped and blinded with the dress half over my head, I think to myself someone PLEASE HELP because right now I am a fly trapped in a sticky, silky web scared by the thought that a spider might crawl out of these funhouse mirrors and eat me alive and even more scared that if I can’t get out of this dress I might just have to buy it at full retail price.

In effort to get my mom’s attention, I wave one foot out from under the dressing room to signal where I am trapped in this black hole of a dress. Reluctantly, she enters the dressing room probably with her eyes half covered because how forbidden if she saw me half dressed, it’s not like I passed through her vagina 31 years ago or anything, and she unzips, unravels, and dewebs me, as I stand flustered, red-faced, and hot from trying to detangle myself free.

She shakes her head and tells me to try on the next dress. I put it on and instantly I am transported back to my childhood, standing in my grandmother’s house, looking out the window. And that’s when I realize I am wearing grandma’s curtains or tablecloths or any other over-flowered, thick, tacky linen with sweeping, swirling shapes in some horribly rustic and outdated color.

“Hey mom,” I call from the dressing room.

“What,” she says with waning enthusiasm.

“When Donna Reed realized she wasn’t tall enough to hang her draperies, she decided to wear them instead,” I say modeling the latest in fine curtain-inspired apparel.

Indeed, this was going to be a very long day. And this was not nearly as fun as shopping for spatulas.

Next I find myself in Cache, one of those cool stores that you never have a reason to go into but now that I am on this mission to look sexy and oh so stunning I had a reason to go into this type of upscale, overpriced, looks are everything store. We search through the racks of strappy, sultry dresses only to find one that might possibly fit me, if the stars and heavens have aligned in the past hour. Never mind the $188 price tag, or the fact that the dress was way too long. The crux of the problem with this dress was that it was the color of soft poo. You know, the kind of poo you get after you’ve been running for 20 miles on nothing but gels and Gatorade on a hot day. But at least I liked the style.

My mom takes a look after I step out of the dressing room. “What is that for?” she says pointing to the oversized pockets of fabric centered near my chest.

“Well, I suppose that’s where breasts would go if you had them,” I explained.

She thinks out loud, “No, I think that’s the style of the dress. It’s one of those dresses where you wouldn’t need to wear a bra.”

No bra? No way. Years of running have left the twins running in completely different directions and at this point you could pave a four lane highway between my breasts and I wouldn’t know the difference because there is so much space between them. And at the very least, I would hope they put an I-Pass along that highway because it would be nice to make some extra pocket change to put into my coffee fund.

“Let’s keep looking,” I suggest.

My feet are growing weary and my head is starting to hurt, but I am determined to cross the finish line today with a dress in hand. We push on to the petite section of Nordstrom’s to find another a fine selection of dresses suitable for the small wonders like me. I grab a few dresses, not even regarding the style, color, or size, and bring them into the dressing room. I try the first one on.

“How does it look?” my mother asks with a growing and impatient curiosity.

I step out to reveal a dress that can only be described as It’s Not Easy Being Green in color and gypsy-like in style. It looks quite nice, except for the obvious color catastrophe.

“What do you even call this?” I wonder. I find the tag and notice the dress color is called ‘pesto’. “Mom, I am wearing pesto,” I say, and we both erupt in giggles. Being Italian, pesto is something you find on your dinner plate and not on your dress.

Wondering if the dress comes in another color, we approach the clerk at the counter. She informs us that it comes in a rainbow of colors, including peacock, eggplant, passionfruit, storm, and, how boring – black. I wonder if we are talking about fancy martini flavors, the latest line of Crayola crayons, or if she has confused my inquiry with a game of things you might find your pantry. Dressless and definitely not settling for wearing pesto to a wedding, we leave the store.

As a last resort, we head to Nieman Marcus – a store filled with nothing you need but everything that rich people must want. In other words, it’s mostly empty with a few exorbitantly priced items that are totally unnecessary, useless, and not even that nice. Perusing the dress section, my mom finds a black dress, “This one is nice,” she says. I agree, it is nice, it is black and small and it might be an option but right then and there I am tackled by the price tag which just jumped out and shouted $788. In my mind, I wonder why (or how) someone would pay that much for a dress when you could have 3 aero helmets, 4 new pairs of Rudy Projects, or a new front wheel from Zipp. In fact, you could race Kona and still have money left over for a new pair of Shimano carbon cycling shoes. Or you could wear this dress. I suppose it’s a choice that most women do not have to make. And with that, we made the choice to walk out.

Three hours have gone by and I feel like I’ve pushed out 300 watts uphill into the wind, with my mom on my back. I need a gel, I need a sports drink, I need a break. I am baffled how women can do this for hours each and every Saturday. Put me on a bike and point me west for 100 miles any day – as long as it’s no where near the mall. Humbled and defeated, I walk back to the car without a dress. I begin to wonder if shopping is like working out. Will my muscles have memory? Will it get easier next time? Have I built up the endurance to handle a few more hours next week? Let’s hope so, because there’s only so many more sun-dried tomato and kalamata olive colored dresses that I can try. And besides, with all of this Ironman training, I’m likely to eat a dress called pesto if you leave it in front of me for too long.

posted by Elizabeth Fedofsky @ 8:46 AM"

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to Work

Now that we are back at home, hopefully for a good while, it is time to get back at it. School starts Wednesday, and I wish it were later. My 6 or so weeks off seem to have flown by and I am not ready to get back into school again. I have been trying to work on my thesis a bit and it is coming along. I would say over 80% done, and all the math related stuff is done. Just editing and adding some commentary here and there.

Next up on the agenda is trying to pusblish part of it. That started today in my meeting with my advisor. Just went through deciding what we wanted to take out and what we wanted to include. Now becomes the task of actually writing it. Yeah. I have also been working on lesson plans for the new class I am teaching at Meredith- Exploring with Mathematics...a crazy mix of random math stuff. So far of the lessons I have looked at we have Venn Diagrams, Inductive and Deductive arguments, and uses of percentages... :)

Well, just a few short days left of freedom and then have to get moving again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sad Week

I had wanted to write up a little blog on the things I would recommend and what I would not from our trip but as usual, things got super busy....

My grandfather (on my dad's side) passed away on Sunday and Eric and I drove to the funeral which was only in Boone (3 1/2 hours away) Tuesday morning and then stayed with my whole family Tuesday and Wednesday and came home last night a little after 9pm. Then Eric received word that his Great Aunt (more like his grandmother) passed away yesterday, so we will be driving up to Buffalo tomorrow for a couple days and then driving home on Tuesday evening...a much longer drive of 10+ hours.

My grandfather was no suprise, he has had alzheimers (sp) for quite some time and in the past year, he has deteriorated pretty rapidly. He has been in a nursing home for about 2 years, and apparently got pneumonia and his kidneys stopped working. While I knew this day was going to come sooner than later, it was still a very sad day, and me being a very emotional person, manage to hold it together for the majority of the event. What was so wonderful is the fact that my dad's whole family and their spouses were together. He is one of 6 siblings and they are a bunch of fun when they are all together. They had a great time laughing and telling stories and it was so nice to see them all together.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The most Beautiful Place in America

Wednesday morning we headed to Yosemite and were there until Saturday afternoon. I think we could have stayed a week longer, it was so amazing. When we got there we had a long drive into the valley so we took a detour up to Glacier Point, an overlook down to the valley. It was breathtaking. Half Dome is completely inspiring and to see it up close was absolutely amazing. We spent a little while there, taking pictures and then took a small hike (4.5 miles) to the top of Sentinel Dome where you can get a 360 degree panoramic view of Yosemite. Just beautiful. Eric said at this point that we could go home, because it couldn't get any more beautiful then where we were.

Then we headed down into the valley and checked into our hotel. Which did not have air conditioning...ummm...haven't I already mentioned the record highs??? :) Our hotel room was over 100 and there were not windows because of the bears and animals...we did have some vents and a fan that when we were in the room could open the door and bring in some of the cooler air. We found out our first night we had to be careful and two raccoons were just about to walk into our room and Eric started yelling at them to get out.

We went on a nother short (4 mile) hike up to the bottom of Upper Yosemite Falls...I wouldn't recommend this one for the weak. It was 1.5 mile up the side of a cliff! About 2 hours of stair climbing. I felt better at altitude but the hike was tough. We made it to see the falls (the 5th largest in the word), but it was another 1.5 miles straight up to the top of the falls and we were pretty tired. We came back down and got in the hotel pool to cool off and relax a bit before heading to dinner.

Our next day we woke up early (7am), and went for our longer hike up towards Half Dome. We went up past Vernal and Nevada falls and then about a mile further before turning around. Again this hike was tought. Another two hours of stair master, but so worth it. We took the Mist Trail up and the John Muir trail back down and the falls were beautiful. The Mist trail goes right up the side of the falls so you get sprayed with water from the falls, so relaxing and we got to see some rainbows. Overall, it took us 6 hours to do the 8 miles, but we stopped for lunch at the top and hung out for a while. We tooled around the valley when we got back, watch a movie on Yosemite at the Visitor Center (air condintioned!) and walked to Lower Yosemite Falls.

On our next day we headed up to Toulemme Meadows, on the way we stopped to get a campsite for the night and did a hike up to May Lake (2.4 miles). By now we were at 10000ft and the altitude change was hard again. The lake was so blue and clear and there was still snow up there even though it was 80 degrees! After the May Lake trip we continued to the Meadows and did the 4.5 mile hike to Elizabeth Lake. By far the best hike. It was absolutely beautiful the entire time. However, when we got to the lake we got eaten alive by we had to turn back sooner than we would have liked. This was the only time that the mosquitos were bad. After we got back we tooled around the meadows (FLAT and beautiful) and then headed back to camp and made some freeze dried meals and called it a day.

We woke up the next morning to 48 degree temps!! Partially because the heat wave was ending and partially because we were at 9000 feet. But it was way welcomed from the previous week of being hot. This was our last day and we went back to the meadows for a longer 7 mile hike to Cathedral Lake. This was the best place for me. The hike wasn't as beautiful as Elizabeth Lake but when we got to Cathedral lake, the scenery just blew me away. It opened up to a huge meadow and glacier rock to the side and cathedral peak in the back, just breathtaking. After our hike, we paid $4 each to shower and headed back to San Fran (took 5 hours), ate some dinner and took the red eye back home.

This was an absolutely amazing trip. Just beautiful. I don't know how we will find another place like it. It is so cool how there are so many different types of environments there, it is just unreal.

Well, this was long enough...I am happy to be home but also wished we could have spend more time.

Oh and did I mention we saw a baby black bear!!! So cool!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

On Tuesday we headed up to the mountains. After being in the hot hot weather we welcomed the little relief from being up 7000ft. Eric really wanted to see the BIG trees so that was why we headed up there, and yes, they were BIG both very tall and very huge around. We saw a couple of the oldest trees and the biggest tree on earth-not by height but by volume-since it was so wide and tall. We also took a short hike to see some really cool waterfalls that took a lot longer than we thought. And then lastly we hiked up about 400 stairs to the top of Moro Rock that looked out onto the entire valley.

We set up camp at a nice campground and tried to sleep. It was just a bit too hot that night camping. The record heat was just brutal and I was too scared to have my screen open since I would be facing the open woods and was scared I might wake up to a bear in my face!! After a decent night we woke up and had breakfast and headed to Yosemite...the most beautiful place on Earth (at least as much of it as I have seen)!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Wineries

On Monday, we left our hotel and headed north through the traffic to Napa Valley. I had scheduled a 10:30 tour at Cakebread Cellars, a highly recommended winery. We made it up there with about 10 minutes to spare and went on the tour. We didn't go too far through the winery but the girl who gave our tour was excellent and I learned a whole lot about the entire process of making wine. I liked some of the wines here, they were very crisp, but EZ didn't really like any of them. We then headed up to Vi Sattui and walked around the grounds there and ate some lunch. We did a single wine tasting there and shared some of the wines and ended up buying a single bottle of a really sweet red wine that Eric liked the best.

We then made our way over the mountain on this crazy curvy road into Sonoma Valley and went to the last winery Kaz. Kaz is pretty different, everything is organic and they make their wine the "old" way so it is more acidic, and they specialize in reds and ports. I bought a bottle of their port and the winemaker, Kaz was there so he signed the bottle for me. Eric wasn't too into the wineries and was in a bad mood, so we didn't go to the last winery I had picked out.

We headed out on our way to Modesto and made it there right at dinner time, where we again had good ole In-N-Out!! It was super hot there, 116 was what the thermometer said, we were in the middle of a heat wave out in CA-they were having record highs and rolling blackouts from the power usage. We had a good nights sleep and headed to Sequoia National Park on Tuesday to see the BIG BIG trees!