Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Natural High November 26, 2008

I love eating.

I also love fitting into my clothes.

These two activities are not exactly reciprocal.

Enter running, the pendulum that keeps it all in balance. I enjoy running. I do. There are moments I truly love running. But I’d be lying if I said I woke up every day with a burning desire to run (or workout at all). Certain factors – like sunshine and beaches and weather in the low 70s – do get me fired up to run. However, since I don’t live on the ocean and the weather is perfect for only a few weeks out of 52 in my part of the world, most of the time I’ve got to start my own fire.

How do I do this?

Well, in the spirit of helping you sail through the holidays with nary an extra pound, I will share my #1 tip for getting out there and running six or seven miles every couple days: Just do it.


Okay, I’m kidding. Sort of. There’s one important step you need to take first: Bust out your iPod or portable CD player or even a Walkman – whatever you’ve got – and put together an hour-long mix of songs you really love. They do NOT have to be ‘aerobic’ songs. I made this mistake and downloaded a bunch of techno and rap and electronica and hip hop and even “It’s Raining Men.”  Yes, members of The Weathergirls. If you’re wondering who actually purchased an iTunes download of your only hit in May 2007…it was me.

Anyway, just make sure it’s songs you love. Songs that make you want to sing out loud and get voice lessons or play guitar or be a rock star. Don’t make the mistake I did and create a mix out of nothing but Nelly and The Chemical Brothers (not that there’s anything wrong with that if they’re your favorites).

When you have it compiled, you’re ready. Once you get yourself armed with tunes that make you glad to be alive, head out into the rain and the snow and sleet and hail and just do it.

(and if, for reasons we won’t question or judge, you have no favorite music, leave me a comment and I’d be happy to share some suggestions to get you started!)


Fun with Photoshop November 25, 2008

Filed under: humor,Life — wideawakeinwonderland @ 6:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Matisse himself couldn't have done any better

Me as an oil painting

So last week I got some headshots taken. I didn’t have a specific need for them (it’s probably too late for a career as a Victoria’s Secret model, not to mention the cost of the extensive plastic surgery I would need to qualify!), but the timing was good and the price was right so I figured, why the hell not?

I picked out a few I liked and asked the photographer to play with them (fix them, as it were). What I meant by that was smooth out any imperfections or make me look better than I actually do, but instead I got some very creative adaptations as you can see here!

Me as an etching

Me as an etching

I did get a couple ‘keepers’, at least one of which you’ll see very soon when the blog migrates to a dedicated domain (www.wideawakeinwonderland.com)

Until then, you can feast your eyes upon me as a starlet. When I jokingly complained that he didn’t make me look anything like Charlize Theron, the photographer plopped my face on her body (keeping her chin and hair) as ‘proof’ I look exactly her. How weird is that!?!?


Truth be told, I find this image EXTREMELY alarming!!!


Don’t believe the hype November 24, 2008

So I’ve mentioned that I have quite the magazine habit. In Style, Lucky, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar…I get them all. I look at the pretty pictures, and when I can, I read the articles. Usually they’re about how to style your hair or prevent split ends or achieve a smoky eye in less than two minutes. However, sometime last winter all the fashion magazines started extolling the virtues of expensive juice fasts and liquid detoxes and waxing enraptured about the wonders of a week without actual food.

Almost immediately this got in my head, and hung on like a dog with a bone. The next thing you know, I’ve plunked down a couple hundred in herbs, tinctures, and organic fruits and vegetables – the poor man’s juice fast. The ones I’d read about magazines involved going to a spa where they prepare everything for you or a delivery service where everything was pre-made and brought to your door. Not so much with my budget effort. It was labor intensive food deprivation. Kind of like a concentration camp you set up for yourself.

Anyway, the idea behind a juice cleanse is that it will help your body purge the toxins you build up in your system during the course of your everyday life. Someone had suggested that the fact that my pee smells like coffee after I drink coffee (apologies, as I know that’s TMI) is because my liver wasn’t working up to speed.  This may or may not have any basis in reality, but it got me thinking that maybe my body was crying out for an opportunity to purge itself of all kinds of horribleness? And I started to feel for my poor liver and overstressed kidneys and ravaged colon, and a week of juice seemed like the least I could do.

There are all kinds of cleanses, but for reasons I can’t quite recall, I decided to go with “The Herb Doc” – Dr. Schulze’s American Botanical Pharmacy.  I think this was in large part because I suspected I went to college with and was once quite friendly with his son, but that’s a long story for another day.

Anyway, and perhaps not surprisingly, I decided to do the liver cleanse, which took five days. They recommended doing it from Monday through Friday so that you were less likely to goof it up while at home or with friends over the weekend. Although probably sound advice, I was working from home at the time, and this turned out to be the longest five days of my life.

Right out of the gates, Dr. Schulze hits you over the head with what will be regarded until the day you die as, “The worst thing I ever drank.” It’s been almost a year, and I still regurgitate a little bit when I think about it. It’s called the Liver and Gallbladder flush, and you have a big foamy glass of the nastiness every morning. For the curious, I offer the recipe:

  • 8 ounces of fresh apple and/or grape juice
  • 8 ounces of Distilled Water
  • 1-5 clove(s) of garlic (start with one and increase daily)
  • 1-5 tablespoon(s) of organic virgin cold-pressed olive oil (start with one and increase daily )
  • 1 small piece of fresh Ginger Root (about 1 inch long)

It’s bad. Baaad. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

There’s something about the combination of juice, raw garlic, and loads of oil that is so very, very wrong. I honestly think the ginger is in there to keep you from throwing up.

Anyway, if that weren’t horrible enough, fifteen minutes after you choke down this vile mixture, it’s time for your two dropperfuls of ‘Liver/Gallbladder Anti-Parasite tonic’. This I would put into grape juice to mask the flavor. It didn’t work.  I’ve never drank poison, but I think I now know what it would taste like.

From there, you just juice it up. For breakfast you have fruit juice, and for lunch it’s diluted fresh raw vegetable juices,  potassium broth (basically a boiled up drink made of stuff you would normally put into a compost bin) , and herb teas. For dinner, it’s back to fruit juice, and the sad lonely feeling that your vital organs are shriveling up.

Now in all fairness, I will admit that by Thursday I felt pretty freaking good. Kind of invigorated and energized, although maybe that was just an adrenaline rush caused by my body’s fear that I might starve to death? Regardless, in the strangest way, when Friday came around I almost wanted to keep going. Not with the gag-reflex invoking garlic oil drink, but with the juices and the teas and the ascetic lifestyle. It didn’t hurt that I’d lost a couple pounds in the process.

With Thanksgiving just days away, I can’t help but thinking about maintaining my girlish figure while knee-deep in food…and the detox came to mind. Nonetheless, although I still have enough tinctures and herbs and tea mixes left to repeat the detox this winter, I think I’ll just try to take it easy around the Christmas cookies, put down the glass of eggnog, and run a few extra miles each week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll pig out and overindulge…just not so much so that the only way to recover involves drinking the liquified contents of a compost bin.  Salud!


Cause célèbre November 22, 2008

Me and Dozer over the weekend

Me and Dozer over the weekend

It’s official.

My dog, Dozer, is a celebrity, a sensation, and a canine rock star. I doubt Bono would’ve caused a bigger fuss than the Big Doh elicited today. Quite frankly, speaking as a regular non-famous and non-famous looking human being, I’ve never seen anything like this. Ever.

A million years ago I knew Weird Al Yankovic and we once went to get some ice cream before one of his shows. A few people came up and asked for his autograph, but (and no offense, Al), it was nothing like the response to my dog.

You walk him down busy city streets and people stop in their tracks, drop to their knees, and start kissing him. Actually, I find this extremely brave considering the number one rule of strange dogs (particularly huge strange dogs) is don’t invade their space unless you know it’s safe. Luckily for the crazed dog lovers stroking him, embracing him, and even sticking their lips millimeters from his mouth on every block, it’s safe.


Last night, a group of Japanese tourists ran out into traffic, their eyes shining as they frantically dug out their cameras. This is a testament to his northern beauty, a furry siren song, as these folks were risking death or at a least a head-on collision with a bus in order to meet Dozer and have their pictures taken with him. I’m starting to think if this writing career idea doesn’t pan out, maybe I’ll just set up on the corners of popular tourist attractions like Times Square, Las Vegas Boulevard, or the Embarcadero and charge $1.00 per hug? $3.00 for photos.

Either that or take him to Hollywood and get this pretty boy an agent. I foresee a bright future selling Eukanuba or Kibbles and Bits and Bits (with more Bits!).
It worked for Benji, and he wasn’t even all that cute.

The look on his face in this picture makes me laugh

The look on his face in this picture makes me laugh


Catastrophe in real time: Canine road trip November 21, 2008

Sleeping in the car

Sleeping in the car

So after three weeks at home, it was time to get back out there and do some traveling. However, poor Dozer (my soft hearted Alaskan Malamute) suffers from residual mental duress caused by losing his sister and then me in a week’s time back in July. Whenever he’s given a bone or a toy since Pixie passed, he roams around with it crying and crying and crying. It distresses the hell out of me. So effectively both of us suffer.
Anyway, when an opportunity to go on a little journey arose, it didn’t seem right to leave Doh behind. So I decided to drive and take him with me. On paper (or screen), this might actually sound like a good idea.

However, truth be told, Dozer has led a pretty sheltered life, and it doesn’t take much to move his cheese. In fact, throw a coat over the back of a chair, and he’s liable to be spooked for half the day.

Moreover, and in light of some previous trips that ended with unexpected and unfortunate violent explosions out of both ends, I decided to see what gems the internet had to offer. I found a couple sites offering up road trip tips, and below you can find the condensed highlights:

A Month Before

Ummmm? What? A MONTH before? Oops.

  • Create the expectation. Even if your animal is accustomed to riding in a car to the vet or groomer, take her on some short trips to other destinations. Walk her around some new places, and let her sniff and explore at her leisure. New smells and new places are highlights in a critter’s life — almost as good as treats! These little warm-up road trips can create the expectation in your pet’s mind that a car trip will be fun — not just a ride with a rabies shot at the end.

  • Ask and ye shall receive (another picture of the beautiful boy)

    Ask and ye shall receive (another picture of the beautiful boy)

Hopefully he’s picked up some of my optimistic attitude and presumed a car trip would be fun, because there was no expectation setting beforehand. Oops #2

  • Get a first aid kit for your dog. It comes in very handy if you need to remove any ticks. The kits are usually available at a pet store, a veterinary office or on the Internet.

Oops #3. Hopefully we don’t need one these cause we don’t have one!

  • If you do not already have a dog harness for riding the car, consider purchasing one for your dog’s safety. They are usually sold at pet stores or on the Internet.

Ditto. Oops #4.

Several Days Before (hopefully morning of’ is good enough)

  • Make sure you have enough dog food for the duration of the trip. CHECK

  • If your dog is on any medication, remember to bring it along. CHECK

Road Trip Day

  • Remember to pack all of your dog’s necessities: food, water, dog dishes, leash, snacks and goodies, several favorite toys, brush, towels for dirty paws, plastic bags for cleaning up after your dog, doggie first aid kit, possibly dog booties if you are venturing to an especially cold or hot region, and bring any medicine your dog might be taking. CHECK

  • Before you head out, put on that doggie seat belt harness. Hard to do when you don’t own one. Oops #5.

  • Bring a current color photograph of your pet. If something happens you can easily show other people what your errant buddy looks like. If need be, you can easily make copies of the photo to assist in the search process. Hmmmm… Under the law of attraction this seems like a bad idea. I could get my hands on a picture if I had to. But I won’t have to.

  • Some hotels are so pet-friendly that they have treats waiting when you check in. We recommend that you not give these treats to your critters, having found from experience that it is much better for them to eat as consistent a diet as possible when they are on the road.

And in conclusion, oops #6. I’ve let him eat everything offered by friendly humans. Hopefully this does result in an explosive outcome that I have to clean!

Although I managed to mess up most of the tips, we made it here in one piece, and without much ado. By and large, I listened to motivational Tony Robbins CDs loaned to me by a friend, and Dozer slept with his face smashed up against the back window.

Meanwhile, we’re learning some new things about each other. Like that I can’t sleep through the sound of a dog whining. And that there is pretty much nothing more gross than walking around carrying a steaming bag of poop. And that he has some separation anxiety if left alone in strange places, that manifests as loud crying and howling and a concerted effort to beat down the door until I return. In hindsight, I wish I had some doggie downers or a tranquilizer gun, but I’ll make a note of that tip for next time.

Caspar the Friendly Ghost

Casper the Friendly Ghost

On the other hand, the more things change the more they stay the same: Doh remains consistent in his easily spooked and high strung ways. Walking down the street we passed a Washington Mutual branch with a large stuffed toy horse visible through the window (presumably some kind of a Christmas decoration and nice to see the government bailout funds are going to such good  use) and he went into complete and total shock and alarm. “It’s stuffed,” I told him. “It’s not real,” I continued, not at all concerned that talking aloud to a dog might be perceived as sad or even crazy by those passing by. Alas, it was for naught and he remained riveted on the vision of this giant white faux fur creature attempting to determine whether it was friend or foe and sizing up how to get inside the branch to fight it.

***sigh*** Reasoning with Dozer is like talking to a dog.


Sleep habits of the disenchanted November 20, 2008

So when I first got home from Turkey, I was widly jet-lagged and fighting to stay awake at 2pm.

Now the pendulum has swung dramatically the other way. I’m going to bed at 2am and rising at the equivalent of 7pm Istanbul time. What a difference three weeks makes.

Stepping back and looking at the situation objectively, I think I’m suffering the effects of no job, no schedule, and no real responsibilities. It’s fun for a few weeks, but there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head that would like to see me get my @ss in gear and develop a plan for managing my time.

Part of the problem is that I can dick around like nobody’s business. If there were a “who can waste the most time surfing the internet” competition, I could very possibly take home of the gold. Ditto for channel surfing, magazine flipping through, phone chatting, book skimming, and dog tug of warring. Alas, this is not how best selling novels are created (at least I doubt it), so starting next week I am developing a time management schedule and sticking to it! And calling all the people I need to call! And writing back to all the people I need to write! And commencing my plan for world domination!

To quote the famous time management expert Alan Lakein, “Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.”   Amen to that.


I’m afraid of the iPhone November 19, 2008


Have you seen the ads about the apps for the iPhone? How about the one where if you don’t know a song, you hold the phone up to the source and within seconds it tells you what’s playing and where to buy it? And I don’t mean you hold the phone up to your iPod or some other device that the iPhone is designed to ‘talk’ to. I’m saying you hold it up to your car radio or TV or the ceiling of the Gap and it figures it out. It’s call Midomi, and it scares me.

I think this could be the beginning of one of those ‘end of days’ scenarios where the computers take over and we’re just hanging out in liquid-filled cocoons providing them battery power.

Don’t panic just yet though. There are still plenty of harmless (if not a little stupid) apps out there:

Sonic Lighter – although there are apparently almost a dozen free lighter apps, people can’t wait to pay $.99 for Smule’s Sonic Lighter. Apparently they’ve built in social and viral features such as the option to share your geographic location information with the application, and when you light it you show up on a virtual earth-like globe. The longer you leave it on, the more “kilojules” you burn, and now teams are competing to be the brightest on the globe. Someone needs to get France and Japan some more entertainment, because they’re apparently leading the pack at this. Oh, and you can blow on the microphone and extinguish the flame, which I must admit is beyond cool.

Ocarina – the same company has now introduced Ocarina, which apparently allows you to be a one-man Peruvian band with just your phone. It’s named after an ancient flute-like wind instrument, and lets you play those haunting, South American-esque tunes by blowing into the iPhone microphone and hitting the virtual buttons. Moreover, you can hit a button and listen to what other Ocarina users are playing around the world. It’s social music, and probably the beginning of a whole new arm of the virtual connectedness that marks this century.

zw0upsil9e062ry4uijqKoi Pond – This is a virtual fish pond where you can change the water color, amount of fish, lily pads in the pond, the different animal sounds you hear, and switch it from day to night. You can shake the iPhone and feed the fish, tap the pond to scare the fish, or leave your finger in and watch them eventually swim up to you. Nothing else happens. You don’t get smarter. You still have no idea what string theory is. You don’t make business contacts. But who doesn’t love koi?

Oh, and get this! Remote turns your iPhone into a remote control for your computer. This app lets you pause, fast-forward or rewind anything you’re watching or listening to, or switch to a different playlist. It also operates the ‘Apple TV’, a device that sends music, photos and movies from your computer to your television. Wow.

And last, but not least, Shozu. When you take pictures with the iPhone’s built-in camera, Shozu links the phone with sites like Flickr and your blog and posts them right away. This would’ve been a lifesaver on my backpacking trip, when I never had enough bandwidth to get the pictures loaded in under an hour. I may just have to start a blog-based fundraiser to finance one of these before the next big trip!

So as it happens, all this talk about these apps makes me want an iPhone. Bad.

I don’t care that the phone is transmitting information back to an unknown source and that it’s occasionally scary and may signify the downfall of the human race. Bring on SkyNet and the rise of the machines! As long as I can play my electronic pan flute, I don’t care!