Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Good Ol' Boys

I got a call around one this afternoon from a old childhood buddy of mine, telling me to get my ass down to Portside because it was time for me to have a beer. Deciding that the swelling in my cheeks had gone down enough to look presentable, I agreed.

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting at Portside's bar - a seafood restaurant where my little sister works as a bus girl - with seven different guys I had known since diapers. Mike, the guy who called me, hugged me and after squaring his Bass Pro Shop hat, told me to tell him how the hell I was and how I had managed to be at home all this time and not give him a heads up.

Few hours later, I had laughed and slapped the bar top numerous times through tales of who had been picked up after a hunting mishap, who was getting married, who had found work, who was going into the military, who had started a bar fight at the VFW and who had been so drunk that they had to be hosed down in a lawn chair before their mother would let them in the house. I was asked how work was, how I could get all of them on "Dirty Jobs" and how was living in the city.

"I couldn't do it," Mike told me. "There's too much stuff there."

"Yeah, not enough space for you," I said.

"Never is."

It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday and aside from an elderly couple or two trying to enjoy their crab cakes, we had the place to ourselves. By beer five, "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash had been played and sung three times and "Sweet Home Alabama" once. Another friend of mine's dad dropped in on his way into town - said he saw all the trucks in the parking lot and figured these guys would be here. He bought us a round of Bud Light, and not wanting to be rude, I accepted. It was the only drink I had.

When Carl, Duke and Eric had come back in from a smoke, they had Mike's mom with them. "Mama K" Kathy had come to pick him up to take him to a family event. After scolding Mike for wearing a worn out t-shirt and jeans to a family thing, Carl took of his button-up and handed it to him.

"Here," he said, standing in the bar bare-chested. "I'll get it from you whenever."

"Lauren, when are you coming back? I need you here to keep my boy straight." Ms. Kathy said to me, pushing Mike out the door and wishing me a Happy New Year.

As much as my hometown has bored me in the past, there are times when I miss it with all my heart.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recovering

After spending the past few days laid up with tea, pureed pasta and four bottles of various medications, I am slowly chewing back into the world of solid foods and technology. I thought instead of repeating my story with phone calls - thanks so much to all of you who called to check up on me, I really appreciate it! - I thought I'd throw in a blog entry.

Not burying the lede, the surgery to remove "the bolt" went well and my doctor seemed pleased with how "the bolt" came out. They put some sort of graphite chips into the hole to help my bone fuse back together, stitched me closed and I have a follow-up on the 6th. The topic of conversation at the dinner table of late has been, "thank god you didn't have this happen 50 years ago," and trust me, I am grateful.

The whole procedure was unnerving from the start because my oral surgeon got me into the chair at 7 am on Tuesday, said, "hmmm, I think I need to take another x-ray just to be sure," and then came back and said, "yep, this bolt is sitting right on the nerves in the jaw. We're going to have to put you under because this is going to be a lot more painful than we thought. Can you come back at 1 pm?"

Sure thing.

So back for round two I must have been a hilarious patient. As the doc slowly increased my IV drip, he asked me, "you took off from work for the whole day, right?" I answered yes and was in the middle of explaining how the only plans I had that day was to lay in bed and watch West Wing..."You know," I said to him as I started to feel warm and tingly, "Joshua Lyman is modeled after Rahm Emmannnuuuuelllll...."

The next thing I knew, I was being stitched up and told to go wait in recovery. I hope Rahm Emmanuel appreciates that he was in my final thoughts before going under and I've decided that one day, I'll tell him so. One day.

So now a couple of days later, I'm resting at home on the Shore, grateful I had saved up my vacation days so I'm off until Jan. 4th, and every day I'm feeling a little less like my mouth got hit by a dump truck. Nothing like Mom's crab cakes and mashed potatoes to get my strength back. Percocet every four hours has also been delightful - you should have seen me trying to wrap Christmas presents. Tape dispensers can be very confusing when under the influence.

Still very loopy and chipmunk-like, I made it through the Christmas holiday and have already finished two seasons of West Wing and a book. I had a dream last night that I was a candle maker in London and so something tells me my restless soul won't be able to sit on the couch much longer. I'm still hoping to fit in a snowboarding trip, after all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Bolt

This is an x-ray of my lower left jaw, starting from the back and moving left heading to the front. I know it's sort of hard to make it out, but all the way to the right, that funny thing that doesn't look like a tooth... that's 'the bolt.' It's scientific dental name is 'implant.'



You can see a lot of white in the tooth next to it and behold! A root canal! I apologize if you're grossed out.

I've you've been keeping up with my health updates, that is what I'm getting taken out of my head tomorrow morning. I'm a little nervious because I have some problems with the first operation when I was 19, but it seems I should be well enough to go back to work on Christmas Eve. Awesome.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SNOW!

Should be the most adorable, scrumptious, straight-out-of-a-movie, pre-Christmas New York City family trip ever this weekend!



If you can't read the text at the bottom, it says, "4 to 6 inches of snow expected."

UGH

If I didn't feel ashamed to be an American before, I certainly do now.

Presenting Barney's final White House video. A Christmas Dog Tale: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7784197.stm

Me: I wonder how much of my tax money paid for this
Ruth: oh man, that totally grosses me out

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You know the economy is bad when...

Discovery Channel Christmas Party 2007: The company rented out the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for a formal, black-tie ball. Complete with performers, open bar, dinner and dancing.

Discovery Channel Christmas Party 2008: The company rented out half of the main room upstairs at an "Irish" pub in Silver Spring (we shared the other half of the room with a nurses union Christmas party). Complete with open bar, spinach dip and performers i.e. karaoke.

My boss and I rocked the house on my signature karaoke song, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." One coworker keeps calling me Joan Jett.

Health Update: Had the root canal EARLY this morning. It went well I guess, but then again I have nothing to compare it to. My dentist said I was a "textbook case" which was supposed to mean it was an easy procedure, and I'm supposed to be pain-free by tomorrow.

When I came into work after my appointment, my jaw and tongue were so swollen and numb from the Novocain that I had a really hard time saying hard consonants or using proper inflection. I had to stop having verbal conversations with people because they couldn't keep it together when I sounded like a mobster from Brooklyn holding his tongue between his fingers. It was worse than this:


(Thanks Wes)

I'm doing okay; my jaw aches from have it pried open for over an hour but nothing around the root canal site. I get the fake tooth out this coming Tuesday! Yay!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Feedbag Appearance!

It's been awhile but I was on the Discovery's Friday News Feedbag podcast again for the Friday, Dec. 12th show. You can listen, vote, participate in the rubberband ball duel and look at pictures of my desk by clicking on the link below:

http://blogs.discovery.com/news_feedblog/

(Scroll down to the Dec. 15th posting, the rubberband ball debate takes up most of the blog at this point)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brain Break

Often at work my coworkers and I do "brain breaks" where we pass around hilarious websites we've stumbled across.

These are from today. Enjoy:

Mine: http://failblog.org/ (I was laughing so hard, the girl who sits next to me gave me several snide looks through the slit in our cubicle wall. I got to page 22 before Dave "commanded" I get off the FAIL juice and get back to work).

Jorge: http://www.sexypeople-blog.com/ (don't worry, you CAN look at this one on your work computer)

Health update: I am feeling loads better than I was on Friday. The pain has settled down, probably from the fact that I slept about 40 out of the past 48 hours. Thank you to everyone who called/emailed/texted/gchatted to ask! Root canal on Wednesday! Woo!

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Lauren's Tooth Exploded"

To: News Team
From: Lori
Subject: lauren out today
12/11/08 7:58 AM

lauren's tooth exploded overnight, so she's in for an emergency fix today. Hopefully she'll feel better, but I'd count on her being out tomorrow as well.

==========================================================

That's the email my boss sent out to my coworkers after I called her at the crack of dawn yesterday morning to ask for a personal day. I think it's hilarious.

My tooth didn't actually "explode" but I have been in excruciating pain for a few days because of a tooth problem and it hit its zenith yesterday.

Many people don't know this about me but I have a fake tooth. It's not so much a fake tooth as it is an inch long bolt in my jaw with a cap on it that simulates a back molar - aka an "implant." Yes, you can tell it's fake if I open my mouth and point it out to you. I got it put in when I was 16 as an anchor for my messed up mouth. I was born without that back molar on the left hand side, but in it's place was one lone wisdom tooth that came in completely horizontal so to fix my bite or something, this bolt was implanted into my jaw.

Since then, it has been nothing but constant aggravation: I have to use a WaterPik to clean it everyday, it has been replaced twice because the first time it was uneven and the second time it was infected... it's sort of a joke in my family that I really do have a million dollar smile.

I started having pain around that area the weekend after Thanksgiving. It began to spread from the tooth, to my jaw line, to my temples, to my whole head and neck as the week progressed. I was terrified because last time this happened, I was 19 and the implant was infected. My oral surgeon told me if it became severely infected again, I could lose part, if not an entire side, of my jaw. Fabulous.

The following Monday, I called my oral surgeon who put the implant in and explained the above story to the receptionist.

"Well, we can squeeze you in on the 22nd and in the meantime, we'll put you on a call list in case someone cancels, okay?" she told me.

"Uhh... I guess. Okay." I said and took the appointment.

By Wednesday night, I was in so much pain that I didn't sleep at all and just kept breaking down. I did manage to read 100 pages in my book though. Finally at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning I called the emergency number for my regular dentist up here - his cell phone.

He answered right away and I explained to him what was going on.

"Excuse me, your oral surgeon told you to wait two weeks when you're already in pain? That is utterly ridiculous! You come into my office right now and I'll see you right now. This doesn't sounds good."

An hour later I had managed to pick some clothes up off my floor to dress myself - my mother would have thrown up if she had seem my appearance, I was a mess - and was sitting in the dentist chair.

Between my dentist's snide comments at what a horrible person my oral surgeon must be (he's actually a wonderful guy and probably isn't even aware that his receptionist turned me away) my dentist gave me the news: I needed a root canal on the tooth in front of the implant and the implant itself should come out.

A root canal?!? At 22?!? Apparently, it's quite common in ages 18-24, my dentist tells me. "Basically, a root canal fixes a crack inside your tooth, which you can get from something as simple as biting down on a piece of hard candy or ice."

I can also say that I was so happy to hear my implant was coming out I almost cried. It seems an inch long bolt is way to long for someone with my mouth size, "Almost all of the implants I see nowadays are half that size or smaller," my dentist tells me, "it's too close to your nerves and thats why you're having pain everywhere."

Mystery solved and plenty of vicodin and amoxicillin taken, I'm on my way to being on the mend - still having a numbing pain but floating at least. I was in bed by 8 p.m. last night and this morning I am back to work, just very groggy and somewhat out of it - much to my coworkers' amusement. Root canal scheduled for the 17th and what should be my final implant surgery ever is TBD soon. I've never been more excited about an upcoming dentist appointment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Terps are going to a Bowl Game. Woot.

Actual email my roommate received about the Terps going to the Bowl game:
==========================================================
Your Maryland Terrapin football team has been selected to play in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, on December 30th at 4:30 p.m. (EST) versus Nevada. The Roady's Humanitarian Bowl takes place at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
The athletic department is pleased to offer students the opportunity to claim up to two FREE tickets via the student ticket web site. Students must pick their tickets up at the Will Call office located at Bronco Stadium starting 2 hours prior to kick off. Student must show their valid student ID, and proceed directly into the facility.
For travel information please contact Sports Travel International at 301-570-0800.

GO TERPS!

Sincerely,
Terrapin Ticket Office
=========================================================

Actual comment posted on the story The Diamondback ran about the Terps going to the Bowl game:

"As a Nevada fan, I'm excited to see us play a tough ACC team. I saw you guys beat Cal earlier this year, and was impressed with your offense. I know, Boise isn't Florida, Southern California or Hawaii, but you can have fun there. My one recommendation is to avoid their strip clubs. A friend of my went to a Nevada-BSU game a few years ago, and being away from home, wanted to see the night life. After paying $20 to get in, we soon realized that the girls aren't allowed to take their tops off? What? They don't strip at your strip club??? Otherwise, there are some fun bars in Boise, some great skiing nearby, and the people are friendly. Good luck Terps."

Yay boys. Can't wait. By the way, Roady's is referring to Idaho-based Roady's Truck Stops, the nation's largest chain of truck stops, according to their press release.

Roberto also pointed out that the match up was a jip because we're playing Nevada, the state right South of Idaho vs. if we were to trek out there, it would look like this:



I know the map is small, but it doesn't matter. It's all so sad.

Work Quote of the Day

"LET'S FEATURE SOMEONE!!! holy caps lock batman."

Monday, December 8, 2008

You know your masters class is boring when...

From gchat...

me: you posted on my blog 15 minutes into class? wow boring?

me: also, roberto and i are drinking red wine and watching jeopardy
so we're around 72 years old now

Tad: oh man i'm so jealous

New Update on 3pm on Sunday Blog!

Erin is awesome and continues to update our visual blog for us: http://3pmonsunday.blogspot.com

Reason why her photos look more interesting than mine: She's in Seoul, Korea, and I am not. Although she did tell me she almost had to take a photo of her Dunkin' Donuts coffee but the changing of the guard at the Deoksu Palace saved her last minute.

The basic gist: We each take a photo of what we're doing/seeing at 3 p.m. every Sunday from (quite literally) worlds apart. Neither of us have super cool cameras so it's not something we plan to do anything with i.e. a book, but it's been a really awesome and different way to keep in touch.

We started the blog at the end of October so we've kept it up for over a month now. I have to say that it has forced me to make plans or try to be active on Sundays - a good thing! It's gotten to the point where I'll say to Tad, "Hey, let's go bike riding on Sunday" or "Let's go walk around D.C. on Sunday." His usual response is, "That sounds... wait you just want something for your blog don't you."

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Shoes

I'm wearing new shoes today. They're black, dressy-type pumps with some patten leather accents, sort of antique looking. I feel in love with them when i put them on because they make my feet look slender and feminine.

Side note - I'm a size 8, which is close to the national average for women, but one of the maintenance guys at work said, "Damn. You got some big ass feet!" when I walked by in tennis shoes the other day, so I've been a little more aware of my feet than usual.

As cute as my new shoes are, they almost broke my neck.

I was strutting towards the coffee pot at work this morning, when suddenly I was doing a half pirouette and managed to catch myself before completely busting my ass on the shiny linoleum floor.

Another female employee who had just come in stopped and asked, "Uhh... are you... are you okay?"

"Yes, yes, thanks, I'm fine," I breathed as I brushed my hair out of my face with my coffee mug and steadied myself, "New shoes."

"Ahhhh yes," the girl replied, and walked away, as an apparent mutual certain-almost-death-by-new-shoes understanding passed between us.

What is it about new shoes that make them impossible to walk proudly across indoor flooring? Even Josh Lyman took a spill in The West Wing when he wore new loafers from his mother, so it happens to the best of us, but really these things should come with a warning label.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Big Southern Thanksgiving

Phew! Lots to catch up on. This will be my first holiday season that I have to work around a real work schedule and it's already affecting my blog posts. So as we come upon St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th, a German holiday we celebrate because my mom spent some of her childhood in Germany on an air force base. We aren't German) let me recap my Big Southern Thanksgiving.

Some background - my dad was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee and almost all of his family still lives there. His sister Doris, brother-in-law Ival, his daughter Kate, her family, my brother's family, and on it goes. This was the first time we had been back in about five or six years.

His connection to Barbourville, Kentucky comes from an aunt and uncle of his who had a good piece of land in the mountains there and left it to Dad when she died. We hadn't been to cabin since Thanksgiving 2000.

Wednesday, Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Eve: I worked a normal day at Discovery and headed for home around 3pm. I was taking shortcuts through neighborhoods and it still took me almost an hour to weave home. I cleaned the house and did laundry to prepare for my parents and sister Leslie to stay the night. We had an early flight out the next morning and so it was easier for them to stay at my place than get a hotel room or drive up from the Shore.

Side note - I realized I have enough bath towels to run an inn.

Thursday, Nov. 27th, Thanksgiving Day: I was really irresponsible. I gave my parents my bed to sleep in, Tad was at home on the Shore for the holiday so my sister took his bed, and I got the futon in the living room. Before falling asleep, I watched some TV until about midnight - Ghost Hunters, and they were in some really creepy sacrificial temple in England hearing and seeing all sorts of weird stuff.

Next to the futon is an enormous radiator that bangs when the heat comes on because our rental house is very old, so you can just imagine why I spent most of the night jolting awake and saying to myself over and over, "it's just the heat coming on." I know, I'm a huge wuss and needless to say, when Dad woke us all up at 4 a.m. I was ready to get up.

We were on the road to Reagan National by 5:30 to catch a flight at 8:40. My dad does this. He gets anxious when we have a place to be and getting there sooner rather than later makes him feel better about traveling. If we complain, his response is, "well, you haven't missed a flight yet, have you?" He has a point there.

We flew into Charlotte, North Carolina to switch planes to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee where my aunt was serving Thanksgiving at 2pm sharp. I'm pretty certain the plane that got us to Chattanooga was a retired crop duster. As I watched them start the propellers, I was just waiting for all the bolts to start falling into my lap.

We roll into Chattanooga, grab the rental car - which had New York tags on it, weird - dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed over to Aunt Doris'. We knew we were in the right area when we passed the "Steak 'n' Shake" Restaurant. To this day, I have no idea what "Steak 'n' Shake" means... but I'll leave that one a mystery.

What a feast! Turkey, ham, brisket - and that's just the meat!

(My brother Zach, carving the turkey while Ival analyzes how to steal some)


Butter, grease and lard were also served ;) We had to take a long walk afterwards and still, it was all I could do to not fall asleep in my dessert. We left around 9 p.m. for the hotel and by 9:30 p.m. I was out cold.

Friday, Nov. 28: Dad was kind enough to let us sleep in until 7:15 am, but then we were up, out the door and back to Doris'. Breakfast was leftovers and a casserole filled with bacon, eggs, cheese and grits - sounds gross but let me tell you, it was better than any gourmet omelette Chef Francois could make.

After a last call for coffee, my parents, Lez, cousin Mark (Doris' son) and his daughter Sydney all loaded up and headed over to the prep school where every male in my family since my ancestors got off the boat attended 7th-12th grade - Baylor School. It's a gorgeous, enormous facility that sits on the Tennessee River.

The place reminded me so much of Maryland's campus that I had to keep reminding myself it was a grade school and not a college. Stables, tennis courts, enormous gym, wrestling facilities, state-of-the-art entertainment room, old brick architecture... it goes on.

After my father graduated, they changed it from an all boys military school to just an all boys prep school, and while Mark was there, it went co-ed. This is the bit of my family's legacy that's honored at the school today. It was the saber my grandfather wore as part of his uniform when he was at Baylor.


I kept an eye on my dad's face the whole time and it was wild to watch him remember and recall getting kicked out of study hall or told off for smoking cigarettes. Suddenly, he was 15 and smirking out of the corner of his mouth and I began to regret backing out of going to sleep-away summer camp there.

After dropping Mark and Sydney off back at Doris', we headed over to my older sister Kate's house to see her, her new husband Brian and my niece Sara Jane. It was the first time we had been to their new house and it was very close to the neighborhood my dad grew up in, which was really neat to hear him point out, "this is where I had cub scout meetings," and "this is the tree I stole Christmas lights from." After wolfing down Tennessee BBQ, sweet tea and pumpkin pie, I once again fought to stay awake as my niece continued to say, "Please!!! Let's go play more!!! Please!!! Just one more book!!!"

Later on, we headed back to Doris' for Shabbat dinner (Dad's side is Jewish, I'm not)and along with a bunch of my aunt's friends, we unsuccessfully tried to teach three year-old Sydney the evening song. Given that the house was full of elderly Jews, naturally, the evening proceeded with multiple attempts to try to find Lez and I suitable husbands - "Oh! I have a grandson in dental school who's about your age, Lauren. Why don't you send me your photo so I can pass it along to my Austin!"

Saturday, Nov. 29: Still unmarried - thank goodness - I climbed into the rental car with the fam, New York tags and all (Ival joked it was a miracle no one had slashed our tires yet), we headed North to our Kentucky cabin in the small old mining town of Barbourville.

After a four hour car ride, we got the house set up, fire going, bedding washed and then... sat. It felt so amazing to just watch the fire for a couple of hours. No moving, no tv, nothing.

It was sort of creepy being there though because most of the stuff in the cabin are things we brought from home over the years that we weren't using anymore. To see our old curtains, lamps, chairs, dishes and sippy cups from three redecorations ago was like a time warp back to my elementary school days.

The lake that you used to be able to look out on was a mess because they're putting in a dam so our beautiful view was punctured by bulldozers. Mom and I still ventured out into the mud to look for arrow heads around the property. She has found a bunch before, but no such luck this time, and yes she is wearing black leather boots. She's such a rock, my mother.

Later that evening, we caught up with our old Kentucky friends - people who live on and near the property - over coffee and Ms. Belva's orange juice cake. It was so funny to see how none of them had changed a bit in eight years, but Ms. Belva kept saying, "Oh Morris, just look at your girls, I can't get over your girls!"

Sunday, Nov. 30: Packing the cabin back up, saying more goodbyes and making promises of having Thanksgiving at the cabin next year, Mom, Dad, Lez and I got back in the car and drove through torrential rain to Knoxville, Ky to the Broyles house.

David Broyle is my dad's dearest and oldest friend - going all the way back to their Baylor days - and so we sat down with him, his wife, their children, their in-laws, and Grandma and Pop-Pop to Kentucky BBQ, Kentucky slaw, Kentucky ├ęclair cake pudding (yes that's all one dish) and loads more. More story sharing and recipe swapping made the few hours we spent at their house fly. We loaded back into the car and headed to the Knoxville airport - on time for our flight of course.

After the most turbulent plane ride ever - Lez was trying not to cry it was so bad - and another long car ride back to my house, I was back where I started: doing laundry and preparing for the next day. Doing two states and three cities in four days exhausted me and I'm still feeling the effects. Besides the 3,000 lbs I gained, I'm still playing catch-up on sleep - but what a vacation! We pretty much hugged every person in my Dad's history and retraced all his childhood steps. It was fascinating to experience his transformation with him and I wonder what my children will think when I take them back through my footprints. I know one thing, the BBQ won't be nearly as good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A lame excuse for a new post, I know

Work Quote of the Day - "FEAR = false evidence appearing real"

I had a wild and crazy Big Southern Thanksgiving - two states, three planes rides, four days - I need a vacation from my vacation.

I have SO many photos from my travels so I'm going to put them in a Google album to send out to family before catching up on posting - because it's going to be a monster. Hopefully, I'll get it all together tonight.

In the meantime, you can see one of my photos on my visual blog with Erin, http://3pmonsunday.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Charlie Brown-ist Christmas tree you ever did see



I know it's not much, but as a recent college grad, I girl-scouted my way into bringing Christmas cheer into our humble home the best I could with this Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Tad's parents graciously lent us a put-together-yourself six footer. The Christmas lights were once a year-round dorm room decoration (naturally), and the snowflakes I made myself with a simple folding and cutting technique I learned in, well, 5th grade girl scounts. I think Martha would be a little bit proud.

For all you Thankgiving enthusiasts out there - people who believe Thanksgiving should be honored before Christmas tramples all over it - I hear you and I apologize. My family has a tradition to put up our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner. In my mind it was almost that time anyway so I was itching to get on with the project. My Monday nights are always the most exciting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

After being the writing fiend that I was for a while, I'm a little disappointed in myself for taking over a week to get back into it. It's been busy, so I'll just quickly play catch-up with some highlights...

Thursday 11/13: Bravo TV's Tim Gunn from "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" and the famed "Project Runway" came to campus as part of the ODK lecture series. His lecture: Transitioning Your Style. Tad was gracious enough to not only score us free tickets, but also sit with me through what was certain to be a very girly lecture.

Gunn, who is a D.C. native, said of himself, "I am not a fashion designer, more like a fashion therapist," and talked about how he had spent almost 30 years in academia before "retiring" and jumping on with Bravo.

To thunderous applause - the Grand Ballroom was sold out so there had to be at least 600 people there - he took our questions. By far the best answer he gave was to the first question:

Girl: "Sometimes I find it hard to dress in cute clothes because I'm working on my masters in psychology and my whole department is men."
Gunn: "Why do you feel that way?"
Girl: "Because I'm afraid they won't take me seriously if I wear something girly."
Gunn: "If they say anything to you, I would just bitch slap them!"

It was an awesome way to open up the show and Gunn said he was shocked at the welcoming reception he received. I'm sure he didn't expect to get mobbed at the end as he tried to walk out either...

but I can't really comment negatively on that madness:

(Lauren, Make it work. Tim Gunn XX)

Friday/Saturday 11/14-15: Pretty boring. Friday, I crashed the ODK happy hour at AppleBee's but it was storming so we stayed in after that. My parents brought us a rug for our hallway on Saturday...

Before sitting through a tornado/thunderstorm at the Maryland/UNC game. Real Terps fan bleed red, they say.

Sunday 11/16: Took my 3 p.m. on Sunday photo...

Then Tad and I went to the Redskins/Cowboys game - my birthday/Christmas gift to him and the first professional football game for both of us.

Even with my little football awareness, I knew this was a big game because obviously we were playing Dallas, but also it was the first time Clinton Portis had been back in for a while because of a knee injury.

Finding ourselves surrounded by mostly rude Dallas fans, Tad and I screamed, stomped, jumped, and clapped our way through the game. We had awesome seats, if I do say so myself.

I had to hand it to Tad. Usually when the Redskins lose, I have to leave the room and let him cool off alone for a few hours, but when it got down to the last minute and a half, Dallas pulled ahead and then got that first down, he turned to me smiling and said, "Thank you for this, I had a great time!"

Monday 11/17: Our head video producer James Williams and I went out to the farms at UMD to interview Dr. Zimmermann of Animal Sciences about turkeys.

The problem was, we were looking for more of a general "Hey! This is why turkeys are awesome animals!" interview, but Dr. Z specialized in turkey reproduction so the entire interview was an awkward lecture on turkey sex. James tried to slip in the word "wiener" to sort of liven it up, but there's no breaking a professor's gait once he gets into lecturing mode. Needless to say, I know way more about how turkeys reproduce than I ever wanted to and I have to give James and I both credit for being able to keep it together.

We did find out from Dr. Z why you don't see turkey eggs in the grocery store for a piece Kasey-Dee, another video producer on our team, was working on. Here's your answer...


Bright spot of that interview: I FINALLY got to see Maryland's "holy" cow. All this time living on campus and I hadn't seen her, nor did I know that all Maryland students are allowed to come to the barns to see the animals whenever they want. Oh well.

Tuesday 11/18: James and I headed out to Good Fortune Farm, a free range poultry farm in Brandywine, Md. where they have, you guessed it, TURKEYS. And they are HILARIOUS! (see some of the footage in the above video)

Did you know turkeys will all gobble at the same time when you talk? Imagine trying to interview the farmer with 25 turkeys in the background going off all at once. James and I could not keep it together. At one point, the farmer said, "I guess if you're around them a lot you get used to it and it's not funny." He was a great interview though. You'll see when I post our Top 5 Reasons Turkeys Kick Ass (working title)next week.

We had quite an emotional shift after that because we when got back, we had to attend a mandatory "All Hands on Deck" department meeting, where they put us in a room and basically said, "if you're here then you still have your job." Lots of people company-wide got fired that day without notice and I felt sick to my stomach. And lucky.

Wednesday 11/19: The real flu hits me and I had to leave work early. Not bird flu, just the aches, exhaustion, chills, etc. Tad could tell I wasn't feeling well because I was reading a food column in Women's Health and said, "It says here kale is good for your fish. I mean brain."

I think it was from being out in the cold for the past three days in a row, and possibly the stress of thinking I was getting the ax.

Thursday: 11/20: Came in, but wasn't feeling any better so I left work early again. Tad kept telling me to just take a sick day, but I didn't feel I could do that in good conscience when I had a job I could take a day off from. I did go to bed at 7pm that night though.

Friday 11/21: Feeling 100% better. It was a good thing too because it was a crazy day at work. Discovery had aired this show called, "JFK: Inside the Target Car" over the previous weekend and to promote it, my team was asked to make mini webisodes for the Web site. The show was about some experts who recreated the JFK assassination using new technology and basically concluded that Oswald worked alone, that no way was there a shooter on the grassy knoll, judging from JFK's wounds. BIG score for us.

When we were given content to make the webisodes, we were given footage of a "missed 3rd shot." It was a shot fired from the fake grassy knoll but the sharpshooter missed slighty to the right. It set the experts back because the wound in the JFK dummy from that shot looked similar to his real wounds. Meaning, the grassy knoll can't be 100% ruled out after all.

Problem - the "Target Car" show team cut out this scene in its final production and it wasn't included in the show when it aired.

Result - Massive public outrage - I'm not exaggerating - people saying that Discovery was in on the JFK conspiracy, that we work for the government, that we're holding the truth back, etc. etc.

So we got the word from our boss's boss's boss and scrambled to put this together for the site. WARNING: Even though they use dummies, it's graphic.


Other exciting things that happened: I had an awesome "Quote of the Work Day"
NYEffie831: when i lick on your blog i get an error
NYEffie831: *CLICK

And I got Goggle themes! (I chose pebbles. I find it calming.)

Today, Saturday 11/22: I'm up early because Tad headed out to be a part of ODK's "Walk for the Homeless" team and Sam Laz spent the night so she could cover a Thanksgiving parade in the area for News Channel 8, so I got up to see them both off. That's been my life up until now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Work Quote of the Day

Coworker 1: "You realize you wrote on the white board, 'Jorge: Deeper Look at JFK Ass'"

Me: "In my defense, I put a period at the end of it to show I was abbreviating."

Coworker 2: "No, that just tells me that the sentence has ended and is supposed to be read as such."

Barney reacts to the election(?)

Special thanks to Discovery News' Jennifer Viegas for finding this video. Check out her blog today for her feature on "Top 10 Reasons Why The Obamas Should Adopt an Adult Cat."

Barney, the Bush family's adorable Scottish terrier, gave a nasty reaction to the press when they tried to interview him (not kidding, this whole 24 hour news/presidential pet stories thing is getting WAY out of hand).

Here's proof... but to be honest, I probably would have done the same thing if some strange man stuck his hand in my face.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Shore Goes Blue, First Time in Almost 20 Years



A Democrat took the Maryland District 1 Congressional seat for the first time in 18 years, and it really says something about the way people vote in my hometown district.

It's not because the country is moving more left or because a Democrat won the White House. No, it's more personal.

This is all extremely biased of course, because I only talked to a hand full of people back home about this, but from what I've gathered it was simple: the Democratic candidate was an Eastern Shore resident and the Republican candidate was not and couldn't possibly understand the needs of his constituents on the Shore without living among them.

A while back, District 1 was redistricted to include some of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County to make the traditionally Republican-held area more blue-balanced. In this year's race, State Senator Andy Harris was a Republican from the Baltimore area and after beating long-time incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrist in the primaries, he faced challenger Frank Kratovil, a Stevensville (Queen Anne's Co.) resident. It took them a week to count the absentee ballots because the race was so close.

Surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal wrote a story about it, which you can check out here.

But there's a reason why my neighbors proudly display the bummer sticker, "There's no life west of the Chesapeake Bay." It's just a "Shore thing."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Post-Election Relaxation

This past week has taken a physical and mental toll on all of us. I have liberal friends who were out partying in front of the White House until 4am on Nov. 4th, and I have a conservative mother who will only say about the election, "Yeah, well, it is what it is."

In the middle of this monstrous bubble of stress, I took the weekend off and mostly just laid around, catching up on sleep, with the exception of one treat.

My friend Ruth and I just spent the afternoon at True Nail Spa in White Oak getting the "Day of Beauty" package. We thought we had earned it after 22 months. I wasn't able to document my experience with photos like Erin did, but I did manage to sneak one shot for our 3 p.m. on Sunday photo blog.

When our attending staff asked us if we were celebrating a brithday or an engagement, we got some laughs and some looks when we answered, "Nope, just the election and that it's over."

This was my first spa treatment and while it wasn't New York or Georgetown, I did walk out of there in a "so0o0o relaaaaxxxxxed" haze so it was just as good.

After having my feet sugar-scrubed, and toes files and painted, I had a hand paraffin wax treatment which my attending woman, Amy, left on for half an hour while she did my "European" facial. Several hours later, my hands are still velvet soft.

The facial was intense. I had my eyes closed for most of it, but I felt several different lotions and oils, and then pain as Amy apologized over and over for "cleaning out" my pores. I have to give her this, although red and splotchy, my face has never looked shinier or smoother.

She made up for it afterwards with a full body hot stone massage, which was an imcredible feeling. She moved the stones very quickly so not to blister my skin - as she said would happen if she went slower - but the hot touch relaxed and woke my muscles up at the same time. I'm not sure how else to describe it except that when she would ask me questions like, "too hot?" or "how's the pressure?" I could only mumble out a "mm hmm." It's possible I dozed off.

Feeling a little oily but comfortable, Amy finished me up with a manicure, and bam, three hours later, I felt like a whole new woman.

I have to be careful, because I may have woken up an expensive Pandora's Box, and Amy was so kind to encourage it by telling me I need to come back once a month to have my pores cleaned. I'm not sure that's going to fit in the budget, but I'm probbably going to find a lot more excuses to need pampering from now on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Eff Florida"

From my bed, I watched people laughing, cheering, waving and crying as they flooded the streets of U, Pennsylvania, 42nd, Grant Park's Randolph and thousands more last night. I had two thoughts: How I longed to be with them, to be out there, (hell, to be in a newsroom), and how proud I was. Proud that people were celebrating life together again.

I'm sure my reflections will be no different than the reflections in the Post and the Times and other blogs, but I press on because I can't shake this feeling of intense uplift, and how I was involved in the biggest election in American history and certainly the biggest political change in my short lifetime. That I'll be able to tell my children, "I was there, I saw this happen, I was a part of it," like my parents have done with me about the moon, Dallas, Birmingham and Watergate. It's absolutely moving and I'm proud to feel this way.

I was an intern for ABC News June-August 2007 and January-May 2008. I had worked on the first presidential debate with George Stephanopoulos in New York on August 19, 2007, and through the whole mess of having YouTube video questions. I started my second internship in their Political Unit/Digital Media on Jan. 2, 2008, a day before the Iowa caucus. I wrote why we vote on Tuesday for them. I was in their newsrooms until 2 a.m. on Super Tuesday, only to get up at 5 a.m. the next day to go back. I covered Obama's rally at Maryland for them. I helped get out the Radars when Biden, Richardson, Paul and several others dropped out. Jack Tapper hailed me as "deputy managing editor" for his blog, Political Punch when I would find him pop culture political tidbits. For months, I worked on the candidates' timelines, games and their trivia, helped out on The Note, and so much more.

I couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness and longing that I couldn't be with the team last night, but I can certainly imagine how chaotic it was and how damn lucky their fall 2008 interns are.

My election day started out like many others. I rose early to beat the lines at my polling station in P.G. County, only to get there at exactly 7:00 a.m. and ended up waiting for 48 minutes. Here's me halfway to the door. About 150+ people ahead of me, and that's not counting the 100+ behind me.

I still managed to get to work on time and by that point I had already gotten texts and tweets from friends in New York saying that they were heading into hour three of standing in line.

I knew the world would be watching us. In fact, CNN had a special broadcast this morning from Madrid where they reported that Spain's national radio station canceled two futbol broadcasts to cover our election. One man who was interviewed said of the results, "This is good for Europe. This is good for all of us." But nothing prepared me to see this man taking video and photos of us standing in line at my small elementary school polling place and saying, "People in China want see you!"

Got to work and later went out on a shoot with Kasey. Kasey had already gotten her free coffee at Starbucks that morning so we went in search of free Krispy Kreme star-spangled donuts. We found a shop near the polling place we had been to, but were very angry to learn that the Krispy Kreme had just closed. Because they ran out of donuts. Completely. At 3:30 p.m., how do you run out of donuts, donut shop? Needless to say, we went back to Discovery disappointed.

By 5 p.m., everyone was so anxious that we wrapped things up and headed home. Around 8 p.m., I headed over to UMD to support and participate in the Election Watch '08 Tad had pulled together for the student union.

It was packed. At least 500 students showed up, not one wearing a McCain shirt. The food was enchiladas and hot dogs with the works in honor of Phoenix and Chicago.

In their free plastic election hats...

I sat with these students and watched - at first trying to figure out what the hell CNN was doing with those ridiculous holograms - then as they screamed and cheered as Vermont was called for Obama, then most of the Northeast, then Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia. Finally, as CNN lead the countdown to when the polls closed on the West coast, I was starring at the screen with the rest of them, waiting, and suddenly like Times Square on New Years Eve it was there: CNN BREAKING NEWS: BARACK OBAMA IS ELECTED PRESIDENT.

The whole room erupted, and I just stared. It took me at least eight seconds to comprehend what I was reading. I couldn't compute the words at first. Not because I didn't believe them, but because I was shocked Wolf didn't provide extra commentary or wait a few minutes for the poll results to come in. It was just... BAM. We have a new president.

As Tad hugged me and did a couple of fist pumps, I began jumping up and down too.
"I can't believe it," I said. "Look how many states are still grey and yellow. They just announced it, just like that? They haven't even called Florida!"
"Pssh, Eff Florida," Tad replied, and he got on the phone to call his parents.

It was an off-the-cuff statement, but it was truth. After being beaten in 2000 over a recount in one state, a state that was slated as an electoral pot of gold, Florida had lost its crown and had become trivial and unimportant to the Democrats this year. What a change. What an election. What a journey.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hockey Mom Evita Sings For Obama

Annoying... but hilarious

Quote of the Work Day, again.

"Wait, Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital? But that was like, 20 years ago! What have they been using?"

Quote of the Work Day

I'm going to fill you in on my hilarious election stories later this evening because I want to upload my photos with it, but for now, enjoy...

"Maybe they will let me run through the glaze machine! It's always been a dream of mine. Maybe i shouldn't have said that. Ha. Whatev. i am totally asking."

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Fine Fall Day

After coming off Halloween debauchery...and then spending most of Saturday sleeping, I was dying for some fresh air and exercise.

So Tad and I dragged out the bikes and headed over to the Indian Creek trails near Lake Artemisia. He was very patient with me as he put up with my picture taking. At the risk of sounding like a bird-watching senior citizen, the fall foliage was beautiful and here's what I snapped while riding. I'm kinda impressed with myself because some of these turned out great and I managed not to run into anything.

Getting started... pulling the bike out of the back room and into the yard.

Start of the trail. That's Tad in the red sweatshirt.


Colorful trees

Geese on the lake.

Trail around the lake and running along the metro line.

Sun reflecting on lily pads floating on the lake.

Going deeper into the woods on the trail.


A beautiful view of the fall leaves.

Tad taking it all in... or waiting for me to stop taking photos haha.

Bridge over Indian Creek.

The creek.

The sun setting through the leaves. And the top of Tad's head.

Heron in the creek.

If you look close, you'll see this branch had all the fall colors in it: red, yellow, orange, green, and all the ones in between.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Discovery News' The Secret of Spook Hill

That's one small step for Grandma...

I love grandmas. Especially my friend Erin's grandma when she's political...

From Erin: So my grandma just emailed me and she has NEVER voted for a democrat because of the abortion issue, but she hates mccain and is voting for obama and THIS is her big issue this year:

"And - - - - Sarah Palin is against Beluga Whales. She is against their protection in certain bays in Alaska by curtailing the speed of ships entering these bays. I recall that when you were just a little tyke you used to sing a cute song about Baby Beluga - do you still know it?"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scary Synchronized Debating

Presenting another awesome work email forward that will give you chills...

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Thank you, Andrew Sullivan. Your interns are fantastic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I just got served

(02:39:42 PM) Me: btw

(02:39:48 PM) Coworker: yes?

(02:40:33 PM) Me: last night i made pulled pork honey bbq sandwiches and rosemary and garlic sweet potatos chips for dinner and i really wanted to call you up and say "BOO YAH!"

(02:42:06 PM) Coworker: well, last night mindy and I had rotisserie chicken in slow-cooked portobello mushrooms, chicken stock and arborio rice. and then I turned 5 lbs of fresh-picked orchard apples into apple crisp. so you can take your boo yah and shove it elsewhere :)

(02:44:26 PM) Me: :( touche.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's hard having a "famous" brother

Actual email exchange between my brother and me...

To: Zach Effron
From: Lauren Effron
Subject: stop being so famous
Oct. 27, 2008 3:23 PM

I was at a leadership alumni tailgate for Maryland's homecoming this weekend because I'm a big dork like that and I was, of course, wearing a name tag that said "Lauren Effron." However, forgetting I was wearing said name tag, I made a complete ass out of myself when some random guy said to me, "You must be really proud of your brother with all his recent success." Being confused and awkward because I thought, "maybe I should know who this person is?" I fumbled out a "yeah, thanks, I didn't know you knew my brother!" He looked at me strangely and then went back to serving food.

He meant this guy - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27363875/

===========================================

To: Lauren Effron
From: Zach Effron
Subject: stop being so famous
Oct. 27, 2008 4:01 PM

ha! that's a pretty funny story. I was buying clothes friday night, and the woman behind the counter asked for my name. When I gave it to her, she looked very confused and suspicious. When I finally asked her if everything was ok, she told me she thought I was making my name up!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Work Quote of the Day

"Can you hear that noise? It sounds like a large bunny eating a metal carrot."

Erin and Lauren's New "Visual" Blog is Live!

So Erin and I decided to go through with our photo blog project, and the first post is live! Erin did a beautiful job with the framing too!

Check it out HERE!

The blog is called "3 p.m. on Sunday" because with our crazy schedules and time difference constraints, we thought we would just each take a picture of whatever we were doing at 3 p.m. every Sunday. Other than that, the idea is basically the same as 3191, where we don't tell each other what we're going to take a photo of and we don't discuss or see it until we email each other.

I had to laugh out loud because Erin posted the location of where our photos were taken. Hers is beautiful fall foliage in an exotic park in the heart of South Korea. Mine is what I had left over after I ate an ice cream cone in a mall in across the Potomac. I have a feeling that's going to happen a lot this year.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obama-McCain Dance Off

Everyone from my team is working from home this week because Discovery is moving all our stuff to the new office space. Naturally, this results in lots of IMing random hilarious videos and political commentary, including this amazing messed-up one of an Obama-McCain dance off. The cinematography is just beautiful.

Also, anyone else hear that Sarah Palin might have to pay income tax on the $150,000 she spent on "borrowing" clothes from the RNC? I don't understand how any of that is legal. Or how that even works. Can I barrow clothes from Dior if I just promise to pay income tax on it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's Mini-Rant on Hipster College Kids

Kasey and I were on Maryland's campus today doing a story for Discovery, and while I was in the middle of shooting, this kid rides up next to me on his 10-speed.

He was lanky and pale. His greasy curls looked like they hadn't been cut or brushed in years. He was wearing ripped skinny jeans, converses, a black hoodie and some garage band t-shirt.

He jumped the curb to come right next to me to say, "Hey! Stop stealing people's souls!"

At first I thought he was being funny so I replied, "Eh. You know how it is. It's for Discovery Channel."

He gasps and yells at me, "So you're stealing people's souls and you're making money off of it?"

Now I'm annoyed. "Yep! Sure am! Now, don't you have someone else you can bother?"

Kid: "Yeaaahhhh, I do." He rides off.

"What a jerk." I said to Kasey, as I kept filming random shots. "Oh man, I thought you knew him!" she replied.

No. In fact, hipster kids who have nothing better to do than to get up all in my grill for no better reason than to feel their heart beat because their skinny jeans are too tight rank right up there with nails on a chalk board. "What does it all mean, man?" It means, if you hate the way I pay my bills, go tell it to your livejournal blog like everyone else.

Work Quote of the Day

"eh. i love accents...but preferably spanish or gangster"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is This Spam Mail Legal?

It looks like a real, vital-to-my-life, government document, but it is in fact not. Scary though right? Shame on these spammers, making me believe I could finally afford that trip to California. Judge for yourself...

Here's the front:


The back:

(in case you can't read it, it has a stamp on it that says: "Document of Importance. Deliver Immediately."

The inside, page 1 - the airplane ticket voucher, two flights good anywhere in the continental U.S.:


and finally, page 2 - the award explanation:


I am curious what would happen if I pretended to be poor and crazy and took this up to a ticket counter at Dullas...