I need some fine wine and you, you need to be nicer.

I can't take credit for that title. It's the title of track 5 from the new Cardigans album. My sister turned me onto them a while back, so I rushed out and bought their new album. And let me say, isn't that song title is worth the $15 alone? (yes, I still pay for music. sometimes) Just when I'd started to lose faith in the music industry I find a song title like that. Or things like the Marie Antoinette soundtrack get published. Or I happen upon the Brazilian Girls' new song "Last Call", produced by Ric Ocasek. Someone somewhere still appreciates The Cars. All is not lost.

Life has been good and pretty mellow in this year of being 29. I spent my birthday doing nothing, which was lovely. I bought myself a book (Fargo Rock City) about this guy's journey through loving hard rock in the 80s and got a coffee and just read and read and read. I know more about glam rock than I ever thought I would. If a better understanding of the dynamics of KISS isn't a good birthday present, what is? As I read about Klosterman's journey through metal land, it reminded me of my relationship to music and how much stronger it used to be back when I had the gift of focus. That sense of discovering something new and obsessing over it. I mean, I still obsess, but I don't pour over the liner notes the way I would back in the day. I bought 4 cds today and I'm not going to tell you what they were because you might make fun of me. I'm reconstructing the life I had in high school, when I'd buy tapes and hide in my room and the only person who knew the crap I'd listen to was my sister. So that's been some fun birthday aftermath.

I also read a bunch of books last week while I was in the east coast for wedding #2049420209 and work meetings. And by "a bunch" I mean 5 (yes, that's the sound of me patting myself on the back). So it seems that my youth is back in full swing. Books and music and locking myself in my room for either has returned. All that's missing is my hot pink shag carpeting. And I swear, if someone could tell me where to find it again, it would be mine.

It's funny how the older you get, the more things stay the same (to mix metaphors). While visiting one of my editor friends in NYC, he handed me a copy of the new book he's publishing "Mortified". People - put DOWN the "tuesdays with morrie" already and go RUN, don't walk, to go buy this one.

The premise is this: various individuals have allowed the publication of their most private childhood/teenage writings for the purpose of their own Mortification and our subsequent entertainment. The general set-up is an intro giving you some context, the writing (edited to make sense, but no additives), and in many cases an adult p.o.v round-up. I have never laughed so often, or so loud, in public as when I was reading this book. There are essays, there are journal entries, there are letters, and there is (disturbingly) some Duran Duran fan fiction erotica for good measure. It's all there.

No matter whether someone was writing to Mr. Belvedere or ranting about how much they hated Black History Month ("for the privilege to be the only black girl in class? Thanks alot Martin Luther King."), there's something incredibly healing in reading about other people's agonizing childhoods. Everyone was tormented. I mean, people talk about how much their childhoods sucked, but hearing it in their voice at age 9, 12, 14 is a whole other story. The message is "you are not alone". You definitely get a good dose of laughing at people, but it's one of those rare cases that you are laughing with them as well.

But bringing it back to the birthday and me (because it's my world, you're just living in it) -- when you look back and laugh at someone's obsession about how they came off to a particular guy or how fat they were or how they were going to accomplish their goals, you realize how silly a concern it was... and is. How things seem so big at the time. Read it. And if nothing else, come Thanksgiving, you will be so damn happy they didn't get their hands on whatever it is you were writing back then.

My how the mighty have fallen.

In case you were wondering, it apparently is possible to run a half marathon with zero training. And when I say zero, I mean that I have run maybe 13 miles (the length of the race) in the past year . No exaggeration. After spending all day yesterday hungover, I ended up accidentally drinking a fully leaded (read: caffeinated) coffee last night. So last night I can tell ya how beautiful the full moon was and what it looked like straight ahead out of my window at any time from 3 am to 6am. Sleepless but wired, I laced up in an obnoxious neon running getup and sweatband to match my friend's and we headed off to the starting line.

I pretty much didn't feel the first 7 miles of the race, despite that, in retrospect, I think this race was uphill both ways! So didn't feel a thing. But then, magically, I did. In the form of a huge blister on my foot (I'd demand a refund for my fancy schmancy running socks from the running store, but I can't move far enough to get there). And then it came to my attention that my ankles were aching. But I was stranded up on the Golden Gate Bridge and I'd said I was gonna finish the damn thing, and I'm nothing if not a woman of my word. So I went where no runner (I would venture to say) has gone before, calling upon a trusty mix of pick me up songs that may or may not have included Guns n Roses meets Mariah. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures...

And finish I did. I got my little medal, the one that makes it worth doing it all. And pathetically, my time was only slightly worse than my time when I ran it last year after 3 months of preparation. Let that be a lesson to you all. I think this is the way to do it- zero training and then feel like a hero for a week (a week during which you don't have to work out again, naturally, you're "recovering").

I made a beeline for the one stand serving fruit juice and next thing I knew, I had 'yes'd' again! THE BACHELOR was holding an open casting call. God help me, I filled out a form. It took 2 seconds, but I'm sure you'll understand why I had to do it when I tell you that you got to sit in a CHAIR while you interviewed! What's dignity when I could sit my ass down?

My application read that I was applying because "I like catfights. And I just ran a half marathon, so apparently I can do anything."

The interview was pretty basic at first. They asked me why I wanted to be on the show. Naturally I pulled a blank because I *didn't* want to be on the show. I wanted to sit in that comfy plastic chair. But you can't say that, these Hollywood types get all offended. So I told them I was there to support my friend. Seemed like a good, reasonable answer. But then I also laughed and said that trying out for "some show like this" was the last thing anyone I knew would expect me to do. That's when they started leaning in. Why, they asked. "Well, I don't compete. Much less for guys. Much less on national television." No, it didn't occur to me that insulting their show wasn't the way to win hearts. I had left judgment back at mile 5. Nor did it occur to me that the big golden plastic medallion I was wearing (and broadly grinning at) around my neck indicated that I was, in fact, slightly competitive. They asked me what type of girl I'd be if I were on the show. Would I be the catfighter? I told them I'd be the fun one. I'd be "the one who would go on the show and make a bunch of girlfriends and not give a shit about the guy."

They asked me about my dating life, and I clued them into the fact that I've never been a big dater but seem to have made up for that in the past couple of years, "putting myself out there," whatever the hell that means. And that I had a recent bad date story to prove it. Then, naturally, I told them The Date Story (as I have everyone else within earshot in the past month). I can't print it here because it's incriminating to my date and I like to think I have journalistic scruples BUT I will say that if they could have stood and applauded, they would have. But they couldn't because I think Helen was eyeing their chairs...

At lunch I was asking my friends- who actually watch tv, and apparently gather to watch this show - what the heck it's about. They explained.

me: So what's the prize?
them: For who?
me: The girl who wins!
them: The guy!
me: No, the PRIZE!
them: The guy!
me: No, I mean, and... the PRIZE!

Apparently there is no prize. I had the shows confused. I think it's some other show where the guy picks you and then you trade in his heart for a million dollars. Hmf. I mean, not that any of this will stop me from taking off 6 weeks to go live in some European villa on someone else's dime if I get picked, but I just wanted you to know it was because of Yes that I got into this mess at all.

Monday follow-up: ps. i did get a callback. they let me know this morning. and no, i'm not doing it :) the triumph of no!

Who says there's no such thing as a free meal?

In fact, I had one Wednesday night, when my parents and I hit up Barona (for those of you not in the know, it's a casino on an indian reservation, heartily endorsed by Kenny Rogers and myself). My parents took me as my birthday gift. My birthday is in another week -- November 8, so mark your calendars -- but to them, casinos are the gift that keeps giving. And tonight it kept giving to my mom. While my dad lured me over to the nickel slots, something I would never touch with a 10 ft pole in Vegas, my mom headed over to 3 card poker to give them the business. She did and along with it charmed the pit boss into comping our dinner.

So there is apparently such a thing as a free meal. It involves an ice cream bar, so take that!

I'm rounding the corner to 29. 29?! Can you believe that? It seems like a joke. Sometimes I throw around the phrase "well, I'm nearly THIRTY" just to hear how it sounds. But last week it became official. Out of NOWHERE I got three little gray hairs. At first I convinced myself that it was just the glare of the bathroom lights on my dark hair, but there they were, Larry, Moe and I'dPluckYouButIHearYouOnlyMultiplyIfIDo. Arg. So now I'm trying to figure out all the things I want to do in the next year of my life.

First thing I did is sign up for a half marathon that I am completely unprepared to run. It's Sunday. I've run one already, but I recently read YES MAN by Daniel Wallace, where this guy, having been in a bit of a rut in his life, convinces himself to unequivocally say yes to every opportunity he's given (leading to some funny scenarios. Worth a read if you've ever wondered what would happen if you told Sultan Habibi that you would in fact be more than willing to assist him in his overseas multimillion dollar transaction...).

So, back to MOI, Helen asked me if I wanted to run it, and I said yes. This is how I got into running one last year (saying yes without thinking about the realities of such a feat), but I should note that I actually bothered to train for that one. I'm basically hoping for divine inspiration to get me across the finish line. Hold hands and pray for me, would ya?

While I'm brainstorming my list of specifics, I know that in my Year of 29 (love them prime numbers!) that I want to say Yes more. I think life gets more interesting when you do. So far today I've gone with it. Witness:

me: hm. 6am. should i sleep in a bit more?
me: yes.
me: hm, it's almost 7. should i sleep in just a bit more?
me: yes!
me: wow. look at that. 8am. maybe i should sleep in more?
me: uh huh.
me: hm, it's almost 9. should i get up?
me: yes.
me: and should i work in my pjs for the morning?
me: hell yes.

The triump of Yes. I've found myself highly agreeable today. I recommend the Yes plan... so far. I think if we girls unequivocally said "yes" then we'd end up making out with construction workers mid-day and end up in other unsavory situations. So I will have to say yes within reason. But a good dose of Yes should be more than enough to make life interesting. Will keep you posted.