Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Phoenix

The headline news around here today was the very fierce, hurricane-like weather that struck central Phoenix and Tempe. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the story with my name on it:
Hurricane-force winds, heavy rain hit Phoenix

I never saw so many toppled trees and bent signs on my way to work. It took me 40 minutes to get to work because of all the down traffic lights. All the restaurants and stores by my complex were closed today still because of no power.

This behemoth of a storm system came barreling through Thursday night. Unfortunately, I got caught in it. For some reason, I was really stir crazy around 9:30 Thursday evening. So, after seeing the building's fitness room was closed, I gazed outside and honestly, other than some lightning, it did not look that bad. I decided to jog four blocks and make a rectangle so I'd end up back at my place. Unfortunately, halfway through, I had the terrible luck of encountering rain. First it was just a sprinkle. But like 3 second later, it turned into full on torrents and the winds were so fast. I tried to keep running but the wind kept forcing rain in my face and into my mouth. And the wind made me short of breath. To top it off, my contact lenses were bugging the hell out of me and by this time, I'm soaking wet (only wearing a sports bra and shorts). I tried waiting it out under a (closed) gas station but it was so chilly. I had visions of lying bedridden with pneumonia. So, I tried again to keep running home but it was so dark and the water kept coming. For a second, I was like "Is this what waterboarding is like?" I was so freaking miserable but I had no choice but to keep running, despite losing my breath and body temperature.

It was at this moment I heard someone whistle and I saw a flashlight waving out of the corner of my eye. Aren't we trained to always go toward the light? (Ooh, that may be for only certain scenarios). So I did. Turns out, I was in front of my neighborhood fire station. All the power in the neighborhood had gone out, including there. So, there were like six of them sitting by their truck with the garage door open. They were all like "Are you seriously jogging at this time, in the rain?!" They were soooo nice. One got me a towel and someone else handed me a flashlight. First they asked if there was someone I could call (of course, there isn't) but I said I lived super close. If I could just wait it out there, which they were totally cool with. Just as I tried to start a conversation, the dispatch came in with a fire alarm that they had to respond to. So, all of them scrambled into their gear. I thought I heard my address in the dispatch but I was wrong. That was when one of them surprised me by saying "Hey guys, she's on the way. Let's drop her off." So, I got taken home in a firetruck!! Very cool. They even pulled into the parking lot of my complex, practically right by the door to my part of the building. Before getting out, I said "Thanks guys, I owe you one!" One of them joked "We like cookies." Of course the only thing I could say was "How about cupcakes?" And they all started saying quite enthusiastically "Oh, we love cupcakes!" and "I work Sunday!" I guess I will try to actually bring homemade cupcakes by on Sunday. Honestly, I do not know what I would have done had they not given me shelter. I think I would have to smite someone who would say something bad about a firefighter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm speechless...NOT

Well, this weekend was pretty successful from where I'm standing. I can't remember when, if ever, I gave a speech in front of 240 people. But I did this past weekend at my cousin Alvin's wedding banquet. Normally, I don't like to be part of the floor show but as his bride is one of my closest friends, I felt like I had a unique perspective. I didn't feel like I could sum up everything in a quickie toast. I felt like it would be more fun to relay the story of how they got together. I ended up with a 7-minute speech. It sounds long but I was confident that it was entertaining enough that it would fly by. I not only rehearsed for timing but to practice line delivery. A speech is no fun without some personality behind it. Anyway, I have to say that I kicked ass. Is it wrong to think that when you do the boasting, it's not egotistical but rather adorable? ;) I made sure to do a nice one-two combo of humor and emotion throughout. And is it wrong to be happy that you made the bride tear up? In those situations, you feel like you didn't do a good job if you didn't pull at anyone's heartstrings. I was very happy and flattered that a lot of people paid me compliments after and even the next day. Guess it shows I am a writer at heart. Man, it was hard to come down from such a nice weekend and back to...well...Phoenix life.

I dived right in to making cupcakes for a birthday for a fellow volunteer at the shelter. Here are a couple of pictures of them (chocolate with vanilla bean frosting). So glad I bought those gum paste tools. My flowers now have some dimension.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dress makes the girl or girl makes the dress?

Well, as most of you already know--thanks to my inability to keep quiet when it comes to patting myself on the back, hehe--the wedding cupcakes went over very nicely. I don't know when is the next time I'd take up an endeavor like that. Of course, I wouldn't do it for just anyone. This weekend I have "part 2" of the same wedding--the happy couple is having a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. It's been a while since I've been to one of those where there are 200 guests and half of them are related to you in some way. All I know is I'm bounced around to properly greet every "auntie" and "uncle" with any remote blood tie to me. It's actually kind of fun but I'm glad they don't happen for me that often. They are very long affairs and never start on time. And there's so much food.

I spent all afternoon yesterday dress shopping. It's so hard to find something that looks good for under $100. And nothing seems perfect. I did eventually find a nice dress for $65 but I still have my insecurities. Most people who have seen me in the last few months noticed that I did shed some pounds. It's hard for me to see sometimes because, well, I see myself every day. And I know this sounds silly, but some days, I look in the mirror and still see me with an extra 15-17 pounds. I try not to obsess about whether something makes me look fat. But I think most women struggle with that. It's an age-old issue I guess.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On to the next story!

Well, my "frosting shots" story has had a great run. Before I move on, allow me to gloat a bit about how much play I found. For a week, I would Google "frosting shots" and "Associated Press" every day and see it trickle into more newspapers' Web sites. I saw my story had been used by newspapers in Detroit, Reno, Palm Springs, Dallas, the Twin Cities, San Diego, San Mateo (go Bay Area!), Savannah, Toronto as well as cities in New Hampshire, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine as well as MSNBC and ABC I didn't get much comment about it around here until the local paper, The Arizona Republic, the biggest paper in the state, ran it on the front of their food section. That was cool. My boss told me he found my story on at least 60 Web sites and "one little blog." I said "Let me guess, it was some blogger who was like 'What a stupid idea.'" He said "Nope, it was yours." much for keeping this blog's existence unknown to my boss. Luckily he's not the policing type. He didn't seem to care. I think he knows that I have good judgment about what is fine and not fine to write about.

Well, I'm ready for a break from cupcakes--writing about them, not baking or eating them of course! In fact, my cousin Alvin is getting married this week to, as luck would have it, one of my closest friends, Jen. When I found out they would not be having a wedding cake after their small, more intimate ceremony, I offered to make cupcakes. Now that it's less than a week away, I'm nervous. I know they don't expect Martha Stewart-caliber cupcakes. But I do want them to have a touch of elegance. The thing is, even after I make them, I won't be done fretting. There's still transportation and presentation issues. Sigh...wish me luck!

Work-wise, I already found another story to work on and it's about as far from cupcakes as I can get. It's about...bats! And no, it has nothing to do with "The Dark Knight." Can't say anymore on paper yet since it's not published. Also, you never know if one's boss will find his way here again.