Friday, December 31, 2010

Ready or not: 2011

I am ready, universe. I am ready for a great year. I am ready for a great love. I am ready for joy in spades. I am ready to be overwhelmed by the goodness that I see. I am ready for my big break. I am ready for my heart to feel so full that I fear it might burst. I am ready for magic. I am ready to share my talents. I am ready for adventure. I am ready for happy tears. I am ready for big expectations and bigger results. I am ready for a year that tops all years, filled with memories that top all memories.

I am ready.

I am ready for 2011. Bring it on.

Happy New Year, friends! I only hope that I can give you as much love and bring as many smiles to your faces in 2011 as you’ve given to me in 2010. I needed each and every one of you this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

2010 In Books

No matter how many books I devour over the course of the year (in 2010, it was a respectable 17), my reading list is always so much longer than the time that I can dedicate to indulging in book after book after book.

There’s a bit of comfort in knowing that I will never hit the bottom of the barrel, that I will never read everything. That I cannot and will not ever be finished.

I whittled these books off of my list in 2010:

  • An Off Year, Claire Zulkey
  • South of Broad, Pat Conroy
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  • Moose, Stephanie Klein
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • Home Safe, Elizabeth Berg
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  • Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang, Chelsea Handler
  • The Beckham Experiment, Grant Wahl
  • Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson
  • Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin
  • Cum Laude, Cecily Von Ziegesar
  • Last Night at Chateau Marmont, Lauren Weisberger
  • The False Friend, Myla Goldberg
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
  • Assholes Finish First, Tucker Max

Favorite: The Help
Made me laugh the hardest: Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang
Made me think the hardest: The Road
Took me longest to get through: Eat, Pray, Love
Book that I hesitate to admit that I read: Assholes Finish First
Theme of my 2010 reading list: when the going gets tough, the tough picks up a trashy book (see the Giffin, Von Ziegesar, Weisberger streak that occurred in the midst of a very challenging fall).

As always, I would love to hear your suggestions for great books that I absolutely must add to my reading list. And if you happen to be looking for your next fantastic read, maybe I can help! I am a professional, after all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spoiled: The 2010 Edition

I can't help myself.

I'm just going to embrace this and be a be a stupid-ass suburban brat and list my Christmas loot because it is a fun excuse to post a bunch of pictures and embrace my brattiness.



From Grandma and Grandpa: Tiffany Silver Ball earrings. I didn't ask for these. Meg asked for these. We both got a pair. I am very okay with it. It is my hope that my earlobes will grow accustomed to these beauties, because when I answer my phone, I smack them with the receiver and it feels not awesome.



Boots from my 'rents. I had been trekking around in the most pathetic pair of Ugg boots that you ever did see. Complete with a weird hole from where the suede got all mummified from the road salt. Very attractive. So now I have new boots to bum to and from work in.

(Yeah, we still wear boots like this here in the midwest. Trendy or not, it is cold and they are comfortable. Whatever. I'll put on my cute shoes when I get to work.)



Check. Out. These. Mugs.

Quite possibly my favorite gift of the season, my mom got me two of each of these Kate Spade mugs. The one on the left is called World Traveler and the one on the right is called Library Books, but I call them both incredibly perfect. Yay! Love.



My sister got me a new goalie helmet. Delicate and feminine, no?



Aunt Lynne bought each of her nieces a DSW gift card, along with a monogrammed cosmetics bag and some lotion.



I can finally listen to music on my runs again! It has been a long, long few months without a working iPod. I broke my old Nano last Thanksgiving, before moving on to (and subsequently breaking) an iPod Shuffle that my dad no longer used. It is my mission to keep this baby around for a while.



Cousin Danielle drew my name in our cousin exchange. I mentioned that I was wanting a pair of nude colored heels and, goodness, did she deliver! She picked up a pair similar to this (same color in a flat leather) from Aldo. ...after trying on and texting pictures of at least 12 other pairs to her very, very patient sister.



Scrabble Flash: the gift I bought myself! Every year at Christmastime, my boss collects gift cards from a bunch of his friends and donates them to a charity. Every year, one guy gets it wrong and drops off something that is, well, not a gift card. This year it was games. On Christmas Eve. It was too late to donate to Toys for Tots, so I took the Scrabble Flash at list price, sold the other game to a coworker, and bought the charity an additional gift card. Everybody wins!

Other gifts, not pictured but most certainly appreciated:
-GORGEOUS pair of earrings from Anna and Emma
-Remote start for my new car, from my dad
-The perfect frame for a print that I bought in Africa but couldn't ever get around to framing
-Black tweed mini skirt from my Aunt Annette
-A couple of cardigans (my favorite!)
-Flannel pajamas, a Christmas Eve tradition
-A fun gift bag from Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed, with goodies inside such as nail polish, a scarf, a reusable grocery bag, chocolate from France, dangly earrings and an ID holder thingie.
-Adidas track jacket from Anna and Emma
-The always-needed essentials: new camis, underthings and socks
-Starbucks gift card
-Massive amounts of Reese's Peanut Butter Trees, which I am so addicted to it is sad

And - wow - I really do sound like a spoiled bitch. I kind of am. Sigh.

For the record, though: I bought some really awesome gifts that I was really excited to give. (I'll bust those out in another post.)

Oh, and also I do know that the holidays aren't just all about gifts and greed.

That probably shocks you, but I swear it is the truth.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Boy, bullies

I’m not sure if I ever wrote about this when I was actually with Colin, so I’ll tell you the whole story.

His friends are awful to him.

Mean and awful and encouraging of only the worst behavior. And, I don’t know if it is because he has nonexistent self-esteem or what, but he never did anything about it. He just let himself be the constant butt of their jokes. He just took it.

I always thought it was a little pathetic. I mean, I’m all for some playful teasing. But when it is always focused on the same person, it loses the humor. It just becomes cruel. Colin never did anything about it, though, except drink too much and do stupid shit that just perpetuated it.

And it wasn’t like these were friends that he rarely saw, either. These were friends that he hung out with nearly every day. He worked with them. Or went to the bar with them every night after work.

He put himself out for their abuse every. single. day.

Like I said: pathetic.

I wasn’t shocked when I saw that his friends had created an ENTIRE WEBSITE – with a domain name and everything – to making fun of him.

(I can’t quite remember how I found out about it. Must’ve been through mutual friends on The Facebook. I haven’t seen him in years.)

On the website, they post awful pictures of him and they post random YouTube videos of ridiculous things and suggest that he’s done something similar. They write shitty things about him, which I presume that they think is funny. And of course there is a date request feature. OF COURSE.

I’ve known about the website for a few months, but I looked at it and proceeded to forget about it. It wasn’t on my radar at all. Until Sunday night, when I was driving downtown and saw – I am not even kidding, ya’ll – an enormous roadside advertisement for the website. Complete with pictures. Of Colin. Looking like a drunken tool. (Because that is what he is.)

I didn’t say anything to my mom or my sister and I kept trying to tell myself that I had most definitely imagined that. Whose friends dislike him enough to purchase advertising on which to humiliate him?

Colin’s friends.

As confirmed when I remembered what I had seen (it wasn’t until yesterday), surfed on over to Colin’s Website of Shame, and saw the pictures of his friends posing beneath the advertisement.

You guys. I dated – for MULTIPLE YEARS – a guy whose own friends don’t like him to the point that they spent their time, energy and resources making a webpage about all of the reasons that they don’t like him. And then they bought a FUCKING AD to illustrate it. Because the website itself wasn’t enough.

I’m tempted to call him or email him to ask him why he thinks so little of himself to keep such people in his life. To ask him where, exactly, the line is between being funny and being cruel. Because if it isn’t at a website, and it isn’t at a roadside advertisement...where is it? When they tattoo a penis on your cheek when you’re passed out?

Tempting or not, I’m not going to do it. He crossed way, way over my threshold of cruelty. He passed far beyond what I think is an appropriate way to treat another person. I owe him nothing. Not my shock. Not my sympathy. Not a dose of reality.

He isn’t my problem anymore.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A bad idea (maybe)

There are a lot of really cute boys who work for my company.

It is fortunate for both my sanity and my professional reputation that most of them work outside of my office. Or only work on a contract basis for a few weeks every year, like The Athlete. (Who didn’t come home from Europe this Christmas. Which kept me from getting all gooey about him, as I tend to do, and is probably a good thing.)

John worked full-time for my company for a few years.

Everyone knows that John is smoking hot. The guys who I work with are always teasingly saying things like “oh, that John, he is just so cute” or “pretty face, not much for brains” whenever John’s name is mentioned.

He was in a different office – working with my friend Ashley, actually – but we worked pretty closely. I always thought that he was a nice guy and a fun guy, but it wasn’t like we had much of a relationship outside of work. Like, maybe we went to the bar a few times. Whatever. He left the company about 18 months ago for an absolute dream job. He lives about three hours away and comes back occasionally – mostly in the summer and around the holidays – and does a bit of work for my company.

So, last week he was doing a little bit of consulting at the office just down the street from mine. I was at that building for one reason or another and I saw him from a distance. We waved and he sort of yelled to me that he would come over to my office to say hello when he was done for the day but he never did and I never thought twice about it.

On Sunday afternoon, I get a text message from him. Except that I didn’t know it was him because I drowned my phone this fall and never programmed his number back in. I assumed that he was texting me with a work question – he’s doing a little work for the company again this week – and I was wrong.

IT WAS A BOOTY CALL.

Or a booty text. Whatever.

That dirty whore was at a bar by where I used to live and was, essentially, inviting himself over. For various reasons – none of which involve clothes. Classy. And, of course, when I told him that I didn’t live nearby any more, he was not dissuaded. What’s a few extra miles when you’re trying to get in the pants of your ex-coworker-who-is-sort-of-still-your-coworker? Yeah. Awkward.

And tempting because, you guys, he’s REALLY, REALLY attractive. And tall. And personable. And maybe a little bit dumb but, um, I’m really not going to be administering any sort of IQ tests in that setting. If I was at home (I was at Mom and Dad’s) and didn’t have plans that night (we were going to see Dreamgirls)...well...who knows? Like I said: TEMPTING.

Instead of running off to rendezvous with Johnny, I sent a text message to Ashley because the least I could do was share the amusement with others. “OMG, YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT JOHN IS TEXTING ME.” Of course, she was all “make out with him! Do it!” I took her advice to heart. She is an expert. She made out with him shortly after they both quit their full-time jobs with my company. After he called. And invited himself over to her house.

Yes. This is apparently his thing.

Being a man whore is also his thing because, after he realized that he wasn’t getting any from me, HE STARTED TEXTING ASHLEY. Wanting to stop by for a visit.
I’m fairly certain that he must have decided to start at the top of his phone book and work his way down. Or see how many former coworkers he could seduce before the end of the year.

Whore whore whore.

And, yet, still really hot. And still really tempting.

He keeps texting me.

It is a very bad idea.

But I don’t often give in to bad ideas.

Which makes me think that it is a good idea.

(It still isn’t.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy

Seeing Dreamgirls was way too much fun. The show and our seats and the music and the cast and the costumes were absolutely fantastic. Turning to look at my mom and seeing a huge smile on her face topped it all.

We bought her the Dreamgirls tickets for her birthday. Her birthday that was spoiled by lies and cheating and indiscretion. Every time her birthday is mentioned, we all cringe a little bit.

I’m so glad that something enjoyable – even if it was two months later – came from her birthday.

My dad took this week off of work and she’s between semesters. I guess they’re going to, like, hang out this week or whatever. I guess it is healthy.

She sent me a text message a few minutes ago. “Went to the dog park. Ellie and Blue are happy. Me, too.”

It made me teary. Because that’s all I want: for my mom to be happy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh, Christmas

It was nice to have a Christmas like this.

One very, very low in drama. One very, very low in grief.

It's been a long time since we've had a Christmas like this. A relatively normal, relatively fun, relatively simple Christmas.

My mom worked her ass off. She hosted Christmas brunch with my dad's family, followed immediately by Christmas dinner with my mom's family. The house was full of relatives from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm and, honestly, I'm amazed that she was still standing. And everything was beautiful and delicious and, oh, just lovely. It was lovely.

The day was filled with cookies and snacks and coffee with Amarula (a cream liqueur we brought home from South Africa) and pictures and my silly cousins and, of course, presents.

As always, I made out like a bandit on the present front. ...I'll give you guys the full rundown on that later.

But the best part of the entire holiday was giving out the gifts that I had bought. Especially the book of old photos that my cousins and I made for my Grandma and Grandma. They were so pleased.

This morning, we were up early (again!) and out of the house for brunch at my grandma's house. It was nice to see my Chicago cousins - and Anna - one last time before they all left for home.

We're spending the afternoon lazing around Mom and Dad's house. Meg and I watched a few episodes of Modern Family before each indulging in a nap. Which was pretty much the best nap ever, as far as I'm concerned.

The holiday weekend will be wrapped up in style. In a few hours, Mom, Meg and I are heading off to the gorgeous Fox Theater. We're doing one of my favorite things - seeing a musical. ...Dreamgirls!

If I was a good blogging friend, I would have posted something earlier in the week wishing you all wonderful Christmases. But I know that you all had fantastic holidays, so I'll just tell you this: I simply cannot wait to read about your Christmas adventures and marvel at your holiday photos!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

95% perfect, 5% imperfect yet charming

So, about that interview

It wasn’t really like an interview. It was like a conversation with my boss and my boss’s boss with moments that were like – ahem! We will now ask you a serious question before we go off on another tangent and end up laughing about something that only we would know about because we’re already coworkers.

There was a question or two where I got a little tied up. One being when I was basically asked how to create world peace. ...well, the equivalent for my employer, anyway. I gave them an answer, but it didn’t exactly come out eloquently. I hate that. I hate when my mind is working faster than my words and it all comes out in a jumbled mess. But, that’s who I am. And they know who I am: passionate and fast talking and silly and smart.

And now I have nothing to do but wait. They interviewed a group of candidates today – including the guy who I consider to be my biggest competition (but who I happen to absolutely adore and think the world of and would totally want to make out with if he didn’t have a girlfriend and wasn’t my coworker). Due to the unfortunate timing of a vacation, they’re waiting to interview the second batch of candidates until the first week of January. I was told to expect a decision shortly after that.

So, if ya’ll wouldn’t mind crossing your fingers for the next two weeks, that would be huge.

Just for good measure.

To cover all of the bases.

A little good luck never hurt anybody.

...even if they didn’t need it.

Which I don't. (But would like anyway.)

I totally have this in the bag.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Residing at different ends of the spectrum

Answer this for me, friends: is it at all possible to be involved with someone who has completely different political ideals than you do?

Because there’s this boy who I know from soccer who is clearly harboring a great, intense, secret and passionate love for me (just a crush? Please. Like it is possible to only have a mere crush on me.). And he is, like, SuperConservative and I am so not.

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no problem with my friends and my family members who have different beliefs than I do. We coexist by agreeing to disagree, with a bit of healthy dialogue sprinkled in sporadically. I’m not completely intolerant or anything of the sort. I’m just a little hesitant to even give this guy a shot when – oh, I don’t know. ...when I know that he’s so outspoken about his political leanings, I guess.

So, I’m pretty liberal and he’s really conservative and, probably more significantly, he’s really involved in a lot of conservative/Republican organizations and he obviously strongly believes in what he chooses to believe. I totally respect that. I probably don’t agree with a lot of it. But I respect it.

Really, I do. If you care enough about an issue to put your time/effort/energy towards it, I think that is awesome. Even if I don’t think that the cause itself is awesome. Believing in something is awesome. Working towards what you feel will make your city/your state/your country better is a good thing.

But I have my doubts about how such a thing ever work out in the long run. Is it even possible? Should I even try?

I keep telling myself to give him a chance. But then he’ll post something on his Facebook that reads something along the lines of “conservativeconservativeconservativewhinyliberalsconservative, woo!” and then I cringe. And then I doubt myself. And then I chastise myself for having such a narrow mind.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My new job

I got the call today.

From our HR manager. Who I thought was my (very cool) boss. I answered the phone "heeeeeeeeeeeeeey, girl!" Yeah. It was only a little awkward. The establishment expects that from me. Silly enthusiasm. Yeah. It's an asset.

Anyway. The call. I got the call about my new job. The one that I am interviewing for on Thursday. The job that I will get.

I will get this job. I will get this job because I am smart and awesome and personable and enthusiastic and motivated and experienced. I will get this job because I am SUPPOSED to. I am. I believe it. This is the job for me. This is the job that I am going to get.

I will get this job. I will wow them in the interview. I will show them that they were wrong when they thought they couldn't like me any more than they already do.

(Speaking of the interview - do I have to wear a suit? It just seems a little...umm...disengenuine when they see me dressed for work regularly.)

I will be the candidate that they can't refuse.

I will be their first choice.

This job is my job. My new job.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Christmas Miracle

I get freaked out by Christmas. I don't try to hide it. When you have 19 bazillion things going on in your life, plus a family that is prone to major drama, plus a gift-buying phobia, plus the desire to bake every cookie known to man in order to celebrate the big day? It gets a little bit stressful.

Except for this year.

I am KICKING ASS this year.

Do you know what I've done? No. But I'm going to tell you. This is what I have done: finished (!!!!!) my shopping (except that I should buy something else for my day but, uh, whatever. Not his biggest fan these days), made approximately 8 dozen sugar cookies, hosted a sugar cookie frosting party with Colleen and Lucy, wrapped every present (except those that I'm waiting for delivery on), purchased/wrapped/gifted a very popular present for the random office gift exchange, and picked out the two appetizers I'm making for Christmas Eve.

It is The Christmas Miracle, my friends. I am so fired up about this. I am so excited not to be furiously wrapping presents five minutes before we leave for our Christmas Eve party. I am so thrilled that I will have no reason to stand in line at the bookstore for a half hour on the 23rd.

Not that I should be bragging. Not yet.

I have not made it through the family time. We have not dodged the drama. I cannot yet boast that we made it through the holiday without any punches being thrown (literally or verbally or otherwise).

Knock on wood for me, please.

And feel free to be jealous of everything I've accomplished thus far.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Get over yourself, self

I am crabby. I hate when I'm crabby like this. Especially when I'm crabby like this and it is on a Saturday night (which it is). Not only am I completely ruining my night, I'm completely ruining the ONLY night of the week that is not followed by a morning at work.

Suck. Sucky. Suck.

I spent my entire day waiting for a damn phone call to answer a simple f'ing question and, seriously, the effort that it would have taken to answer my question via return call or text is nonexistent. And now my Sunday morning is going to be a complete gong show. So irritating.

Also, watching my parents interact makes me insane. My dad follows my mom around like he is a puppy. And the incessant repetition of "I love you" is enough to make me tear my hair out. She gets it, bro. You've said it 19 times in the last 45 minutes. I know you're trying to make up for cheating on her for four months with a chubby lady with poorly dyed hair, but give it a rest. Please.

Lucy and Colleen are coming over tomorrow to frost Christmas cookies and I'm annoyed that my apartment isn't bigger/more awesome/actually a house. And I'm annoyed because I'm annoyed; I actually like my little apartment, I'm just self-conscious about it because I'm shallow and that is annoying.

This all started at work today. Obviously. It started with a hellish workday and a matching headache. Nothing awesome happened, PLUS I saw this little girl who was with her grandma and I'm pretty sure the grandma thought that she was dressing her granddaughter (who was about 5) in a cute pair of black leggings, but they were actually tights I could clearly see her little white underpants under her tights and it was horrifying. Even though the kid clearly had no idea and probably wouldn't care anyway. It was cold outside! Way too cold to be walking around without pants.

Missing pants. Headaches. I love yous. Phone calls that aren't returned. Today has been awesome. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

About Lucy

Lucy lost the baby. She found out last Wednesday; I found out last Thursday. When she left me a voicemail, telling me that she “didn’t get good news” at her doctor’s appointment.

I was – I am – awfully sad for her. But she’s barely mentioned it and I’m following her cues. She doesn’t seem to be aching to talk about it. To even tell me if she knew she was pregnant before she went to the hospital, to tell me what her three days of bed rest were like, to tell me if she’s sad or disappointed or over it.

And that’s fine. We don’t have to talk every subject to death. She’s always working through problems with me, but that isn’t usually how she works in her own times of crisis. We were in high school when her cousin died. She didn’t even tell me until after the funeral. Sometimes, that’s just how she is.

We’ve spent a good bit of time hanging out, though, and – while I know that she’d rather me not ask her directly – I’m confident that she’s coping okay. Which is really good. Because if I wasn’t? I’d be a mess. I am not graceful when I’m worrying about my friends and family.

We haven’t talked about it.

And that probably sounds pretty strange.

But that’s why Lucy is my best friend and not yours.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My life as a Christmas elf

For the last week, I've been obsessively putting together Christmas gifts on Shutterfly.

I placed the order tonight.

What.
A.
Relief.

When I do those types of projects, I can't tear myself away. The first problem is that I get so obsessed with the project that it is the only thing I can think about. The second problem is that, because I am obsessed with the project, I have a difficult time identifying when the project is complete and I should just send in the order already.

I put together calendars for my parents, one of our Africa trip for Meg and one for my grandma. And, for my grandma and grandpa, I put together a huge photo book of shots of the family out on their boat.

We've all spent many, many summer days out on Grandma and Grandpa's boat and we have the pictures to prove it. Through a lot of begging, a good bit of searching, one secret trip to the back of my Grandma's closet, I found (and subsequently scanned) enough photos to put together a really fun book.

I cannot wait to give it to them. ...although it is technically for all of the grandchildren and I probably won't get the credit that I deserve. (Do you guys have any idea how difficult it is just to get someone to look through their family photos?!)

Now that we've established that I am the best grandchild, I thought I'd share a few shots from Grandma and Grandpa's book.


Me and Grandma.


Anna, me and Meg.

We used to sit out at the front of the boat every night. It was quiet and the boat would gently rock and we'd wrap ourselves up in blankets and look up at the sky. So peaceful.

Attempting to put up a sail with Grandpa.

I must have been in high school when this photo was taken.

Out on the front of the boat again. Wrapped up in blankets again. This time during a sail. You probably can't tell, but we all have our lifejackets on underneath our blankets. As peaceful as the front of the boat is when it is at dock, it can be a wild ride to be up their when you're out on the water. We loved it. Waves splashing. Wind blowing. Awesome.

Aunt Marie, pregnant with Emma, and Anna.

Love this picture. Miss her.



The majority of the pictures are scanned, which makes me nervous to see the final product. Which is silly and unnecessary, really. Grainy pictures or not, Grandma and Grandpa are going to love it. Which is exactly the reason that I love it, too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Something good from something bad

When we called off our trip to Vegas at the last minute, I didn't have much confidence that we'd be able to sell the concert tickets that Lucy and I bought this fall.

I listed them on eBay almost as soon as I got off of the phone with Lucy - for face value - and, as expected, didn't sell them. It was awfully close to the concert and there were quite a few others selling tickets to the show, too.

I considered relisting them on eBay for way under the face value. $100 is better than holding on to the tickets and getting nothing for them, right?

Wrong.

I decided to donate the tickets.

On a whim, I shot off an email to the Ronald McDonald House in Vegas, which provides housing to out-of-town families of critically injured or ill kids receiving care in the area. It was a long shot - it was already Wednesday - but I offered the organization the tickets if they had any parents/volunteers/employees who would use them.

I was so happy when I received an email back from a staff member, thanking me for offering up the tickets and taking me up on the offer. I was thrilled that someone could use the tickets. Excited that the tickets weren't going to waste. Grateful that my misfortune could give someone a nice night out that they wouldn't otherwise have.

I've donated tickets to my local House before. I get quite a few tickets to sporting events because of my job and, sometimes I just can't use them.

If you have a House in your area and tickets to an event: concert, ballet, baseball game or play and you can't use them? Offer them up. The effort that it takes to send an inquiring email and ship the tickets is hardly more than the effort you'd put into throwing the unused tickets away.

And throwing away unused tickets does not warm your heart.

Emails like this do:

"Thank you VERY much for the tickets... We sent a nice young couple to the show who are here because their unborn daughter has a heart condition that doctors would like to monitor closely until she is born! They were extremely excited to get such a nice treat and were so grateful for your generosity. I just wanted to let you know how appreciated it was!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Totally chic

My cousin, Danielle, has been back home for a few months now. At the conclusion of her last show, she packed up her things and came home to spend time with her parents while she plans her next move.

She's deciding between LA and New York and Paris and hanging out in the D in the meantime. Yeah. I know.

Her homecoming turned out to be really good timing, actually. Her dad had surgery, so she was able to be with him while he recovered. And she's been home for the entire holiday season, which she hasn't done since she moved to New York to go to NYU years ago. She's loving a holiday where she hasn't flown here, only to be home for 24 or 36 hours.

She's been keeping busy. Doing a little here and there, as you do when you're the artsy acting type. A one-act play here, a little choreography there, etc.

As you probably aren't aware unless you live here, Michigan has a burgeoning film industry. There's some huge incentives for filmmakers to shoot here and they've seen a huge rise in the number of movies shot here as a result.

So, Danielle is auditioning for some movie tomorrow. "And I'm supposed to look like a political staffer," she tells me on the phone this morning. "I don't have anything that here that is..."

Conservative enough to pass for something that a political staffer would wear. A political staffer or, say, her marketing-lackey-turned-librarian younger cousin.

Hahahahaha.

I am so lame and everyone knows it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On public service

It can fill your heart witih joy
This little boy – probably about five, with his mom, is walking towards a woman who is just leaving the used book sale. In each of her hands, the woman is carrying a grocery bag of books.

“Excuse me!” The boy says to the woman. “Do you need help with those bags?”

The woman laughed and smiled and thanked the boy, assuring him that she could handle the books.

As the boy and his mom continued walking, I could hear his mom praising him.
He would have none of the praise. “It feels good to give people a hand sometimes, Mom.”

It can make you blush
Tonight, a man, in a surprisingly non-creepy way, asks “are you Irish?” I was helping a couple who he came in with. “It’s just, with the blue eyes and the red hair – you have all the makings of a model.”

A model?

I have a new favorite patron.

And sometimes, you just end up calling the police.
As we did today, when a woman confronted a man who had been staring at her “for three hours.” It was a big ordeal. So glad it is over.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Quickly

...I sort of forgot what nights alone at my apartment were like. I'm not particularly lonely. But I am amazing at wasting time. Do you have any idea how many hours you can pass reading blogs and Facebook stalking without someone else to hold you accountable? (Or at least draw your eyes away from the screen every so often.)

...I left a care package on Lucy's door this morning. Magazines, a Sudoku book, soup, bread and candy.

...Lucy had a doctor's appointment this afternoon. Today was supposed to be her last day on bed rest. I asked her, when she sent me a thank you text for the care package (she still isn't calling me and it makes me equal parts sad and worried) to keep me updated. So, of course, nothing. That can't be a good sign.

...I turned in my big, bad job application yesterday. It felt so good to get it out of my hand. There's still a few days until it closes. I am certain that two hundred and one people will apply (literally), but I'm feeling calm about it. Until my interview is scheduled, anyway.

...DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT I SHOULD BUY MY UNFAITHFUL, CHEATIN' FATHER FOR CHRISTMAS? Besides a conscience, I mean.

...the rest of my Christmas shopping is humming right along, believe it or not. I know. I'm shocked, too.

...finally finished Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy!

...and, now, it is time for my bed and my next book.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The best deserves the best

Lucy is on bed rest for the next couple of days until her doctors figure out what is going on with her and I feel sick about it. I’m worried about her and scared for her and I’m frustrated because she’s not calling me to talk. She’s replying to my calls with text messages and, while I assume that she probably just doesn’t want to talk (and I understand and respect that), it is a hell of a lot easier to express your concern with your voice than with a keyboard.

I am trying to respect her distance. This might just be something that she wants to deal with by herself. But I’m tempted to express my concern in the following ways: bringing her food, bringing her books, bringing her DVDs, baking her Christmas cookies, taking Wolf to the dog park, calling her every five minutes and finding her the BEST DOCTOR EVER.

When it comes to Lucy and doctors, I get a little worried because I’ve always questioned how she randomly picked them out. I could be wrong, but it has always seemed like she’s up for seeing any ol' physician she comes across. And, in some cases, continues to see them even though she admits that she doesn’t like them. As a result, I am crazy worried that she isn’t getting the care that she needs.

Obviously, the doctor in urgent care isn’t exactly a specialist and, hopefully, she’s followed up with someone else. (She's not offering up this information. I'm not pushing for it.) I just know of her habit of choosing random doctors (like, she’s never seen the same OB twice in all the years that I’ve known her) and, fuck, I just hope she’s seeing someone who is good. Really good. Exceptionally good.

Due to my mom’s profession, I haven’t ever seen a doctor who isn’t phenomenal. My doctors get the awards and the accolades and the publications and the face time on the local “best of” lists. I get the best care, consistently. And that’s what I want for Lucy. But I have no place asking “is your doctor any good?”

I guess the best I can do is to offer my mom up for advice and referrals.

And bake her some cookies. I’m definitely baking her some cookies. I’ll leave them on her doorstep if she isn’t up for company. Just as long as I know that she has a ready supply of chocolate.

And maybe a good book, too.

Monday, December 06, 2010

So fresh and so clean

Okay, I feel slighted but I’m just going to force myself to get over this whole Vegas thing because obviously Lucy did none of this on purpose so there’s really no sense in feeling like crap about it. It happened. Our trip is cancelled. It is over.

The timing with how and when it went down was especially crappy. I was a bit of a mess on Saturday morning, long before she went to urgent care and, subsequently, decided that going to Vegas wasn’t a wise decision for her and her unborn child.

My dad moved back home over the weekend, you see, and that opened a damn floodgate of feelings. My moving in with mom and letting him stay at my apartment (did I ever confirm to you guys that we went through with that? We did.) was a drastic measure. I was doing what I felt that I needed to do and, as a result of that, I just sort of put my head down and plowed through. I just turned off my feelings and did exactly what I needed to get done. That was my survival mechanism.

With my dad moving back home, I allowed myself to pick my head up and look around. I had a second to breathe. I let myself feel. And, somewhat surprisingly to me, I wasn’t as okay as I had told myself that I was.

Couple that with being let down by your best friend – because, honestly, that’s how I feel. Not mad. Just let down – and that weekend turned out to be pretty shitty.

Not to mention, OMG THE AWKWARDNESS that was a phone call from my mother telling me that my dad would be spending the night. Like it was a bootycall that she needed to warn her roommate about. I died a hundred times over.

When I leave work today, I’ll call Lucy to see how she and the baby are doing. (Am nervous for her, being in urgent care so early on.) And then I’ll move back in to my apartment. Work on my cover letter. Start fresh.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I'm happy and I'm sad

Lucy just called and awkardly told me that she's 5 weeks pregnant...and just spent the entire day in the emergency room.

The doctor advised her not to go to Vegas.

So I'm making phone calls to cancel our hotel room in Vegas and trying to get our concert tickets sold and making a really, really unsuccessful attempt at not crying because we're not going to Vegas and because, OMG, Lucy is going to be a mom and who the hell am I? I am nobody.

I am so happy for her. And I'm so sad. Not about Vegas. Well, a little about Vegas. And a lot about so, so, so many other things.

I just needed to get out of town. I just needed to get out of here for a little while.

Can nothing work out in my favor?

Confessions from another failed shopping trip

I am the worst Christmas shopper ever.

With as easily and as readily as I spend money on myself, you'd think that I would have some clue on how to purchase a gift for my friends and family. And you would be wrong. Because I suck at it.

This is how I go Christmas shopping.

I drive to the mall. In my head, I have a specific idea of what I want to buy or the store that I'm going to go for a gift for the recipient. And I assume that it will go well and that I will find The Most Perfect Gift In All The Land. And then I don't. And I fall apart (not in a public way, thankfully). And I end up with nothing.

I honestly thought that, this year, I had grown out of it. I went to the mall yesterday with high, high hopes. And good ideas! I was going to Talbot's to buy a few tops for my mom. ...she always likes their long sleeved t-shirts that have a bit of embellishment on them; they're good to wear under her lab coat. Once I knocked those off of my list, I would run by Macy's pick up a few trinkets for stockings and I'd be out of there.

Except the merchandise in Talbot's was TOTALLY not doing it for me.

And then I went to Macy's and I had no coupons with me and, at this time of the year, it is sort of foolish to buy anything without one of the 2,314 coupons that I left at home. So I didn't get anything there, either. And I'm not really sure what to buy for my friend/coworker, Maria. Or for my office random exchange. Or for my cousin Liz, who I pulled for our cousin exchange. And my dad. OMG. What the hell am I supposed to buy that asshole? (Snarky idea: a wedding ring. He h

Thankfully: I bought Meg's present online.
Thankfully: Lucy, Colleen and I don't exchange Christmas presents.
Thankfully: I went home from my unsuccessful shopping trip and found Liz an amazing present on Etsy. Etsy is the best.
Thankfully: there are only 11 days until the holiday; I have a very limited time frame in which to torture myself.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Plight of the hockey player and workin' girl

I have hockey on Thursday nights.

At 10:00. After I've worked 7:30 am to 9:00 pm. Under the best of circumstances, it's a rough night.

After a few Thursday mornings spent rushing around, I learned to pack my equipment in my car on Wednesday night. One less thing to do in the morning? Love it. So that's what I did last night. As soon as I got home from work, I dragged my bag out of my car and I threw it in my back seat.

It was quite cold today, so I knew that I was in for an unpleasant experience in the locker room. I would get to the rink early enough that my stuff could warm up a little. But it would still be cold. Cold equipment + warm body = awful.

What I didn't know was that, thanks to the rain the we received on Thanksgiving (um, yes, one week ago), my equipment was wet.

I reach into my bag expecting cold equipment. But I had no clue that I was reaching into cold, wet equipment. That I had to put on.

Yes. I put it on. My rainwater soaked, half frozen, disgusting equipment.

I had no choice! I'm the goalie! The only one!

We didn't even win.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Cover Letter I'd Like to Write

Dear Boss-Of-My-Old-Boss and Boss-Who-Has-Been-My-Boss-For-Two-Weeks,

Okay, so I know that I should write you a cover letter and whatever but, let me be honest about something here: I am in the last half of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next and I cannot be bothered with this nonsense!

And who else would you want buying your entire adult fiction collection than a (cool, smart, punctual, personable, level-headed, AWESOME) girl who cannot be torn away from a book to write a simple cover letter?

See? I just made that decision simple for you. Please let me know when I officially make the transition to full-time staff.

Holla!
Aly

p.s. I am really good at buying things. (See: my credit card statement on a monthly basis.) Books in particular. (See: my overflowing bookshelves.)

p.p.s. Need I remind you that I've worked two jobs for the last year with little-to-no problems because I'm such a hard worker and I really like having a full plate? So, like, fill it up, baby. I'll be your workhorse! You're fun, adorable workhorse who does, um, a lot of work.

p.p.p.s. That wacky/scary girl who comes in and talks to herself told me that I was her favorite 'brarian. SEAL OF APPROVAL.

p.p.p.p.s. I own/wear many plaid skirts and cardigans. Looking the part is, like, 80% of the battle. And I'm totally up for getting a pair of glasses, if that's what you need to put me on the payroll at 40 hours a week.

p.p.p.p.p.s. Okay, listen. I need to get back to my book. You told me to apply for the job and grinned stupidly when I told you that I would. So, how about we skip the games (you are NOT Colin...or The Athlete...or The Groomsman or Luke or...every other guy I've ever been interested in) and you just f'ing hire me, okay? Okay.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The clouds are lifting

Oh, so this is what being in a good mood feels like. Huh.

It has been a long time since I've had a day where I haven't felt like I'm drowning in my family's bullshit. Today my head was above water and, goodness, it was weird. And nice. But seriously weird.

I had energy. Which is odd because I've spent the last month with little to none. Every little task wasn't painful and excessively laborious and otherwise unpleasant.

I even had it in me to do a little bit of research towards my grand trip to Vegas. ...which resulted in me booking a new hotel room. Because the special deal that our new hotel tweeted today? $35/night for the weeknights that we're staying. I'm not even kidding. Three cheers for Twitter deals, boys and girls. Three really loud cheers.

(We'd already gotten a steal on our hotel rooms, too. A DEAL ON TOP OF A DEAL. Hi, I love feeling like I've cheated the system. True story.)

Also the assistant director at my job came over to where I was and dropped this really transparent hint that I need to apply for the open job that I was whining about last week. Except I didn't really hear it and all but forced her to tell me that she wants me to apply. Which, yes, I'm going to do.

In my I'm-not-exhausted-jolly-good-mood, I also did a bit of rapid-fire emailing with Meg and I think that we have all of Mom's Christmas presents figured out, which reduces my holiday stress by 20%.

And I had some pumpkin pie.

The crust was a little soggy but I didn't care. I was delirious from my good mood. I couldn't possibly care.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I am full of questions

I wonder if I should read before bed or if I should watch Gossip Girl.

I wonder what posessed my boss's daughter to friend me on Facebook; I wonder what gave me the impression that accepting the friend request was a good idea.

I wonder if my family is ever going to feel normal again. Normal for us, I mean. Not normal normal. That'll never happen.

I wonder if Luke thinks that I disappeared on him. When really all I did was give up on him after he stood me up.

I wonder why I even bother thinking about Luke.

I wonder if I have any chance at this job I'm applying for.

I wonder how horrified the next poor girl to give me a pedicure will be. Although, I'm fairly certain I know. VERY horrified.

I wonder if I'm as awkward as I assume I am.

I wonder why it is that my brain had to go ALERT! ALERT! when I was driving home on Saturday night, reminding me that, one year ago, I was at a bar flirting with The Groomsman. When he was full of potential and not full of shit.

I wonder if my cousin Danielle will see Black Swan with me this weekend.

I wonder if Black Swan is even playing in Detroit this weekend.

I wonder what I should buy Meg for Christmas.

I wonder if my mom is sick of my dad following her around like a lost little puppy.

I wonder if I can talk Lucy into a spa day when we're in Vegas.

I wonder how exhausting tomorrow will be.

I wonder if I should keep going or if I should wrap this post up.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful, thankful

Wednesday night was for pies.

I helped with the pecan and the pumpkin pies, so I only got a shot of the apple pie being made.

I helped with the consumption of the pumpkin and pecan pies, so I can't tell you that it was delicious. There wasn't any left for me to eat for breakfast on Friday morning. So I guess I can tell you that it was delicious. Even though I didn't get so much as a bite.


See the plates? The plates were a special guest at dinner. My Aunt Marie bought these plates (30some place settings! Plus accessories!) at an estate sale just a few weeks before she died. Grandma and my mom hauled them out of her basement for the occasion.

Aren't they cute? It was fun to have a little of Aunt Marie present at the dinner table.


I was sitting on the couch with my cousin, Paul. I spilled water on us. He was not happy.

Check out that (very small portion of our) spread! I honestly think that it was one of our best Thanksgiving dinners ever, though I cannot explain why. Everything just tasted SO GOOD.

Emma insisted on making a raspberry pie. "I'm going to do it all by myself, start to finish." (You'd think she was a stubborn toddler, no?) I have no idea where the idea of a raspberry pie came from, as we've never had one on Thanksgiving before, but I must say, it was a tasty addition.

I let Ellie out. I look out the window. She's climbed on to the picnic table on the deck and is peering through the kitchen window at me. I think she was trying to get a glimpse of the turkey.

And that is it, my friends. Thanksgiving at my house. Pies and puppies and puddles on the couch.

You're all invited next year.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving: it made me tired

Would you look at that? Anticipate the worst and be pleasantly surprised! Being a pessimist is the bomb.

Here's how Thanksgiving 2010 looked like this ‘round these parts:

Wednesday night: my annual pie night with my mom, sister, aunt and cousins (Liz, Danielle and Emma). We whipped out 10 pies: 4 pecan, 4 pumpkin, a raspberry and an apple. We ate nachos and watched Adam Lambert’s True Hollywood Story and invented our own cooking show, which Danielle will host as soon as we find a network that will air it.

Thursday morning: up at 5:45. Pulled on my running gear. Woke up Meg. Woke up Emma. Woke up Meg’s friend, Kate. Piled in my car, along with another one of Meg’s friends, to go downtown for the Turkey Trot.

We trotted. My knee hurt. I finished in :57, which I’m okay with. I would have liked to have beaten my time from October’s 10k but that was sort of out of the question from the very beginning. It’s okay. I have an injury to blame.

Whenever Meg and I run a race, no matter what the length, I always finish two minutes ahead of her. 5k, 10k, half marathon: it has happened with every distance and in every race. So imagine my surprise when I logged in to see our times this morning and saw that she beat me. BY THREE SECONDS. (We crossed the start and finish at different times, so we weren’t sure our exact times until they were posted.) I’m kind of competitive so, yeah. I’m a little disappointed. If only I hadn’t stopped for that water!

Early Thursday afternoon: me, Meg, Emma and Meg’s friends took Ellie and Blue to the dog park to wear their little legs out before our guests came over.

Later Thursday afternoon: the masses arrived. My grandparents. My cousins and aunts and uncles. Liz’s boyfriend. My mom’s high school BFF. We had a really full house. Full in a good way. Full of people, full of fun, full of food. I love when the house is alive with a good party. I love being able to flop down on the couch and know that I’ll be doing so between two of my favorite people in the world – whatever combination of our guests it may be.

Early Thursday evening: we eat. The meal was phenomenal. My family may be completely insane/wacky/dysfunctional, but each and every one of us has the capability to put together a damn fine meal. And that is one, of many, things that I am thankful for.

Thursday night: Meg had been floating the idea of us going to the outlet mall on Thursday night to go shopping. Stores were opening between 10:00 pm and midnight and she, along with my cousins Liz and Emma, thought it would be fun to see if they could get any super deals.

I went back and forth on it. I really wanted to go to sleep, since I had to work today. But I also feel like it is important to do fun/crazy things like this with my cousins when I have the opportunity. So I went.

Which was definitely the wrong choice. It was cold as hell. It was crowded as hell. I was tired as hell. We got back to the house at 2:00 am. I was back up and getting ready for work at 6:30 am. Brutal.

I’ll keep the Turkey Trot in my Thanksgiving traditions, but the midnight shopping is for the birds. Remind me of that, someone, please, should I ever again insinuate that saving $4 on a pair of sweatpants at Under Armour is worth battering my sanity, violating my personal space and sacrificing my sleep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An opportunity (to freak out)

A position was posted
Today
Full-time

I nearly burst into tears
When I saw it

Not because I was so happy
For an opportunity

Not because I was a little shocked
That
What could have been split
Into
Two part-time positions
Wasn't

But because it was
Posted externally
(Unlike the last one)
And it felt like
The powers that be
Were sending a message
That
They didn't have anyone
In-house
Who is
Capable

And I'm in-house

It isn't even like I'm
The only one
Internal
Who would apply
I'm not

It was never
Guaranteed
But, shit
Don't you look
In
Before
Looking out?

I'm sorry
I don't mean to whine

I'll get over this
I will put myself out there
Apply
Interview
Turn cartwheels
If that's what they want

But
Right now
I'm feeling
Sensitive
And a little bit
Like
I was just punched in the gut

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blogging with the Stars

You guys. YOU GUYS! Skating with the Stars. Skating with the Stars!
Sure, there have been others: some show on FOX, and a few on Canadian TV that have been more or less equivalent (Canada appreciates figure skating more than America does. Canada is cool).

But this one is the best because...well, I don't have any good reason. Except that I do have a feeling that it is going to be a complete trainwreck.

LOVE.

As I have no idea how painful this show will/will not be, I'm not going to commit to blogging the entire season. But I will commit to blogging tonight's show. Consider this an expert review because, as you may or may not know, I am a figure skater. No, I was never going to go to the Olympics. But neither were you.

Oh, and I also basically have no idea what "stars" are "skating" (I'm using both terms quite loosely). But I can tell a Salchow from a loop jump. Just so we're clear.

9:13: This announcer boy is annoying.
9:13: I bet the ice is shitty.
9:16: HOLY SHIT THIS ICE SURFACE IS TINY!
9:17: Officially cheering for Brooke and Jonny. Brooke is from the D.
9:18: That ramp is a lame gimmick.
9:20: I can tell from this intro that not one of these "stars" can do anything resembling skating. This show is going to be a lot of skaters pulling their stars, who are making facial expressions, around.
9:21: JOHNNY WEIR WILL BE THE STAR OF THIS SHOW, BITCHES.
9:22: Wait. Dick Button is on this show. OMG, he is going to raaaaaaaaaaaaamble on for hours. I guarantee this will be painful.
9:24: Let's talk about the required elements. Because it makes it official: this show it Learn to Skate on national television. Why am I watching this again?
9:31: Brandon is skating. OMG. This is so slow.
9:32: Wobble wobble wobbly spiral.
9:33: Laurie Ann knows nothing about skating.
9:45: Do people who know things about dancing feel as pained during Dancing with the Stars as I feel during Skating with the Stars?
9:51: HAHAHA. DICK WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION. (To be fair, he's really old and probably shouldn't be on TV anymore.)
10:02: Oh, Jonny can skate a little bit.
10:06: I just checked the TV listings. This crap goes until 11:00? Hahaha. On the account of the fact that I spent 4 years getting paid for watching bad skating and I'm not making a cent off of this debacle, I'm going to bed.

As expected: trainwreck.

Not expected: lacking ability to be even the slightest bit amusing. And I'm, like, the most easily entertained person in the world.

Fail, ABC. Big fail.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Expecting the best holiday EVER

Guess who’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner?

My dad.

My mom – who is a saint – is having 25+ people over. Her side of my family. My dad’s side of my family. And, of course, my dad. Her cheatin’ husband.

It’s going to be an interesting holiday.

Tears have already been shed over the event, so I'm really expecting the best.

Before we hit Cheating, Round 2, the plan was for both sides of the family to come over. And then all of this happened (again) and it was all up in the air. My mom didn't want to have both sides of the family over if it meant that my dad wouldn't have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with. So, we were in limbo for a while. And then Mom and Dad started speaking again and, well, the Thanksgiving plans were resumed.

But first, Mom cleared my dad’s attendance with me and Meg.

I’m fine with it. I’ve seen my dad quite a few times. It is awkward and it feels necessary. Part of me wants to be a brat – pouting and swearing and generally awful – but I’m not. It wouldn’t solve anything. And I feel like acting like an asshole would only cause my mom more heartache. That's the last thing that I want to do.

Meg cleared our Thanksgiving guest, too. But, until yesterday, she hadn’t seen him in over three weeks. The four of us went to dinner with my grandparents. It was awful. Meg wouldn’t talk to my dad. My dad got all teary at the table.

We get back to the house and it doesn’t get any better. She is completely unwilling to talk to him. And I get that – I do. But the way that she was acting, ugh. Icy. Very, very cold.

And my mom ends up in tears. Because how can she have both sides of the family over if Meg and my dad can't even be civil? It will be awkward and awful for all of us. And what is she supposed to do about it - 5 days before Thanksgiving? Ask my dad's side of the family to have their own gathering so that he and Meg are separated?

It sucks.

It sucks because I want Meg to feel about this like I do. Tentative and hesitant but willing to give it a shot. To let our parents work through it (or not) on their own. Not tipping the scales in either direction.

But that isn't how Meg is. Meg is stubborn. Meg is pissed and stubborn and selfish. She's perfectly fine with hurting my mom, as long as she's hurting my dad in the process.

Meg is unable to see that she isn’t just punishing my dad when she acts like she did yesterday. She’s punishing herself. She’s punishing my mom. She’s punishing me.

Honestly, I don’t know how she can still be so angry. I respect that she’s pissed. I just don’t get it. I don’t know how she has the energy to maintain her level of bitterness. But she does. And she is. I have no control over it.

I hate her behavior.

And I understand it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Runner's Knee and the Boy I Never Really Liked

I finally had my appointment with my sports medicine doctor and, guess what? I have Runner's Knee. I also have learned that I can diagnose myself with the help of Dr. Google. Although my accuracy may not have something to do with my library schooling. Which would count as the first good thing to come out of that education.

(HIRE ME, SOMEONE!)

I go to my appointment and I fill out the paperwork and I'm taken to the exam room. "I'll give you some shorts to wear for the exam and the x-ray," the orthopedics tech tells me. "I brought my own," I boasted. I am such a smart patient.

Smart and sexy. Do you want to hear about how I looked in my soccer shorts and my argyle cardigan? Of course you do. I LOOKED HOT.

Back in the exam room, I'm chilling in my chair, admiring the posters on the wall and, after a knock, a doctor walked in. A male doctor. Who was young. Who was not hot but was certainly cute. And wearing a wedding ring. Fail.

"I know I'm not Dr. Black," he said. And then he started my exam. I never quite figured out where Dr. Black was. I could have sworn that I had heard her voice when I was waiting for my x-ray. Should I mention to him that, in addition to my difficulty descending stairs that I've been hallucinating?

But, when he was done with the exam, he tells me that he's going to check out my x-ray and "go over everything with Dr. Black. I'm her resident; she's the boss."

Ooooooooooooooooooooh.

He left and I sat in the exam room, wondering if I should put my pants on or if I should stay in my shorts. I almost changed into my pants several times. Because I was cold. And also because I didn't really know what was going on. After what seemed like 45 minutes and was more like 6, Dr. Black and the resident saved me from the pants-or-shorts anxiety.

I was very right in resisting the urge to put on my pants. Dr. Black did another entire exam. She was bending my leg all about and making me stand on one foot and bend my knees and all of that jazz. At the conclusion of the exam she told me what I already knew: that I have Runner's Knee. She gave me exercises, offered to write me a prescription for physical therapy (I'm going to hold off for a little while and see if I can improve it with just the exercises) and sent me on my way.

Since I never really asked if I could or could not run the 10k I'm signed up for on Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to go ahead and run it.

The only problem is that I really want to run it well, considering that I was so pleased with the 10k that I ran in October (54:12) and I'd like to duplicate that. And, maybe I have another goal, too. Such as really wanting to beat that turd-of-a-guy Luke that I dated this spring. He's always posting his runs on Facebook and I'm always like "psssst. You don't impress me." (I say that to myself, not to him. Or his Facebook wall or whatever.)

And what is a better way to tell someone you're not impressed than by TOTALLY SPANKING THEM when it counts? Nothing.

But, in the unlikely event that I do not beat him and I cannot replicate my October time, I have other goals. Okay, just one. It's a big one. Big and secret and it may be getting the race shirt. But it is a cool race shirt. And cool shirts make up for a lot. Especially losing (on a bum leg) a race against (although not technically against) a guy who you never really liked in the first place.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

55 going on 15

My dad’s “girlfriend” or, uh, mistress or whatever you want to call her (alternate names: tramp, cunt, whore, slut, middle-aged-woman-with-self-esteem-issues, chubster) has been posting crap all over her Facebook about how she’s been crying for five days and “love hurts” and all sorts of preteen emotions.

I embrace technology and the Facebook status update (although I never update my status), but YOU ARE 55 YEARS OLD. YOU ARE NOT 14. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SPEW, MULL OVER AND DISSECT YOUR DELICATE FEELINGS FOR YOUR 64 FACEBOOK FRIENDS TO SEE.

(How do I know that she's been doing this? Because my mom’s best friend’s sister is the mistress’s friend on Facebook. Reason #2,439 not to have an affair with someone you went to high school with.)

And, of course, the reason she’s been sucked in to this Vortex of Complex Pain and Emotion is because my dad finally, officially pulled the plug on the fantasy life that he’s been living for the past four months. I’m not sure what the details are. I don’t know exactly when he did it. What I know, however, is that he mentioned to my mom that he was receiving “harassing” phone calls last weekend. I told Meg. Meg (who still isn’t speaking to my father, actually) logged in to the Verizon account and blocked her phone number from calling/texting my dad’s phone.

She blocked the number on Sunday afternoon.

That action seemed to have switched the crazy (well, crazier) switch in the mistress because, on Monday evening at 5:00 pm, she showed up at my dad’s office. She showed up at my dad’s office, climbed into his (unlocked) car, and preceded to sit in it, crying, for two hours.

SHE SAT, CRYING, IN MY DAD’S CAR (a flashy black Mustang that old men purchase when they hit middle age, obviously) FOR TWO HOURS. UNTIL ONE OF HER FRIENDS CAME AND PICKED HER UP/DRAGGED HER AWAY.

I wish that I was kidding.

My dad was cheating on my mom with a middle schooler trapped in the body of a 55-year-old woman.

Not that he wasn’t acting like a bratty preteen, too.

(Now he’s just acting like a hormonal, uncontrollably weeping pregnant chick. Such a refreshing change.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Music is magic

While driving home from work this weekend Our Lady Peace’s “Innocent” came on the radio. I was immediately transported back to the apartment I lived in during my final two years of college. My roommate has her headphones plugged into her laptop. She’s singing. Loudly. Off key. And she’s just starting on a Communications project that was due the next day (and that I had already finished). Repeat four times per semester. Always the same song. Always off key.

When I hear the official song of the World Cup, Shakira’s “Waka Waka,” I am there. I am in Africa. I am with my sister. I am seeing beautiful things and meeting fascinating people and I am happy. That song makes me smile.

I like hearing "Birthday" by The Beatles. I reminds me of birthday parties at Aunt Marie’s house. I had a lot of my birthdays there, since Emma’s birthday is just a few weeks after mine. And my uncle always put it on after Aunt Marie cut the birthday cakes.

“Foolish Games.” Jewel. I listened to it on repeat on the flight home from the one and only European soccer tournament I ever played in. When I hear it, I always see myself, 14-but-looks-11, plugged into my Discman. I picture my hair as frizzy because, well, it probably was.

My cousins and I cannot resist “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. It was huge one of the summers that my cousin Mara lived in Michigan. We loved singing it, loud and proud, in the car. And now, whenever we happen to catch it (or find it on somebody’s iPod), we can’t help but belt it out. With corresponding cheesy dance moves. You have to include the dance moves.

“How Bizarre.” (What one-hit-wonder produced that beauty?) My cousin Liz decided that she loved it. We were at our grandma’s house and playing in the front yard and she insisted on turning on a car radio, just in case it might be playing. We still tease her about it.

Marc Broussard’s “Rock Steady.” I’d just bought the album that it is on when I first started dating Colin. I listened to it – turned up as loud as it could go – when I drove up to the bar to meet him for the first time. I was wearing a white sweater. I must say, he ruined the song for me.

The entire White Ladder album by David Gray – especially “Please Forgive Me.” Turn that on and bring me right back to my freshman year of college. I remember buying it. I remember excitedly burning it and mailing it to Lucy at her dorm across the state. I listened to it everywhere. It was a lonely first year. That album was always there for me.

I am not a music aficionada. Turn on the right song and it transports me.

What songs transport you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

One year

Six years ago today I started this blog.

And for five years, recognizing the years was important. I liked reaching the milestones.

And then November 15 changed.

One year ago, today, I was at Mom and Dad's house. Probably wearing this very pair of yoga pants. Very likely wearing this same UM fleece.

And Aunt Marie called. With my uncle out of town, she was a bit lonely. But she didn't say that. She said that her dog wanted to play with his canine cousins. And so she and the dog came over. And she sat at the counter and I sat next to her and we talked about nothing.

Meg had a shopping itch to scratch. She had this idea in her mind that we should go to TJ Maxx to buy fall jackets to bring with us to South Africa. Aunt Marie was always up for a shopping trip.

We shopped.

Aunt Marie bought a scarf. She bought socks for Emma and Anna's Christmas stockings. She looked at Christmas decorations. She insisted on buying the jackets that Meg and I picked out. She touched everything in the store, it seemed; that was how she shopped.

We stopped at the drugstore on the way home. We bought trail mix and ate it when I drove. Mom randomly bought dog toys. Aunt Marie bought a diet coke. When I was pulling in the parking lot, I got a text message from my friend Kevin, telling me that his second son would likely be born that night.

Aunt Marie spoke of her birthday party. It was so surreal, she told us. "Everyone who you love, all in one room."

She told us stories of when her and my uncle were young and in love and in college.

We had dinner at Mom and Dad's. My dad cooked. My grandma brought over a side dish and dessert - apple dumplings. Aunt Marie harassed Grandma - as the youngest kid, she couldn't help herself - because my grandma admitting to making apple dumplings for my dad. "You NEVER make apple dumplings for ME, MOM!" She sounded like a kid.

She told us about how, the night before, she'd stopped at Burger King for a hamburger and ended up smearing ketchup all over her pants. Her favorite jeans, which were in the wash. It was why she was wearing those gray sweats. And a fleece with a zipper up the front.

I remember standing up from where I was sitting - on a stool at the kitchen counter - to give her a hug when she left. I remember telling her that I loved her. God, I'm glad that I told her that I loved her.

One year ago, I was with my Aunt Marie.

And one year ago tomorrow, my Aunt Marie died.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sorry, I have other (better) plans

On Monday morning, I received an email invitation to my 10 year high school class reunion.

First of all: I HAVE NOT BEEN OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL FOR 10 YEARS. I’ve been out for, like, 2 years because I’m only 20 and young and energetic and full of potential and not the slightest bit jaded about the world. So I don’t know what it is that these clowns are planning, but it is obviously some sort of fictional event. We have not been out of high school for 10 years. When you’ve hit time for your 10 year reunion, you’re officially old and I am FAR from being officially old. Like, at least 7-9 years away from earning that label.

Secondly: they planned it for December 26. Apparently our class president has been, like, too busy to actually plan this even though it has been 2010 for, oh, 11 months now and so they’re just throwing together an outing at a local bar and calling it a day. Well, a reunion. They’re calling it a reunion.

Um, hello, Class of 2000! On November 8, you’re inviting me to an event that will take place on December 26? Hahahahaha. Oh, foolish people. Don’t you know that I book up well in advance? I made a commitment for that evening in August.

So, it looks like I won’t be going to my high school class reunion.

I am not sad.

Except I am missing a prime opportunity to recruit former teammates for my summer soccer team.

Maybe I'll show up for an hour.

But only if I have good hair that day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 7

When planning our trip to South Africa I knew, because we were seeing so many soccer matches, that we wouldn’t have a ton of time for sightseeing. At the same time, I didn’t want to travel all the way to Africa and see nothing but the inside of a few stadia.

The Apartheid Museum was always on my short list of places that I wanted to see in Johannesburg. I was never entirely sure how we got there, but I’m very glad that we did.

It ended up that the same shuttle driver who took us to/from matches drove us to the museum. A cab ride would have been horrendously expensive, although we were prepared to pay it if that was what we had to do. Luckily, the girls at the front desk were looking out for us, and they called the shuttle driver to give us a lift, instead.


There isn’t a whole lot that I can say about the museum. It was, well, I’m not sure how to describe the experience. It is beyond description, I suppose. So much to absorb. So impossible to understand. And to think that it has only been 16 years since the fall of Apartheid. 16 years. Unbelievable.

Meg isn’t a big museum person but even she was captivated. It was well done. And crowded, unfortunately, due to the World Cup. But what can you do?

We set a certain time for our driver to pick us up but, of course, he was late. On African time, you could say. I was all freaked out and worried that we’d be stranded at the Apartheid Museum (located next door to an amusement park, oddly enough) for all of eternity. But he came. “I can always find you,” he told us, “because I just look for your blonde hair.” Which made us laugh, of course. You forget that blonde isn’t the norm.

We had tickets that day to see Germany/Ghana. It was the same day that USA was playing Algeria in their third game of the group stages. The USA game was an afternoon match, while Germany/Ghana was in the evening, so we got to watch a bit of the game while we were getting ready to go to Soccer City. And we had our driver turn the game on the radio while he drove us to the match.

It wasn’t looking good. USA was tied, 0-0, and they needed to score to move on. The game was in the final seconds. USA would be going home. It was so, so sad. But, just as we were driving by a huge television that broadcast games to an entire square, Landon Donovan scored. And we got to see it. Oh, we were so excited.
And the Scottish girls who were staying at our hotel were so excited for us. That was a fun part about the tournament, how people would tell you “good luck today!” like you were actually playing in the match.

The Scottish girls were hauling around this toy duck that belonged to one of their nephews. They asked us to pose with it. Oh, why the hell not?



Chitchatting with the Scottish girls was interesting. We’d gone to many of the same matches but never in the same van. One of the girls, after we answered her question about how old for us said, “oh, you’re so brave for being so young.” It has stuck with me. I don’t ever recall being called brave before.



The match was a fun one. Germany’s goalie was so fun to watch (he’s a madman) and, like every time we saw an African team play, the crowd was absolutely electric.

Nobody said a word about us wearing German jerseys that day. As a matter of fact, a few people spoke to us in German. Well, attempted to speak to us in German. We don’t speak it. But apparently we look it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Debbie Downer

I'm sorry, you guys, if reading my blog lately has been - hmmm...how to say this? - less than uplifting these last few months. Or downright depressing.

(I'm okay with both labels.)

There has been a bit of chatter in the blogosphere these week about blogs and blogging and the perception that bloggers put out there. I read those blogs. The ones by the perfect mom, perfect cook, perfect distance runner, perfect businesswoman, Perfect McPerfectness all documented on an impeccably written and exquisitely photographed blog.

I get it. I get wanting to put your best self out there. And I get why readers like that. And I get why it can be somewhat intimidating to other bloggers.

But that sure as hell isn't what I've been doing.

I'm just throwing all of my ugly out into the world.

I can't imagine that this is very fun to read. I can't imagine that you're coming here for a smile.

But I'd like to get back there. I am getting back there. Slowly. I still can't pick up my phone and call my friends who don't know all (or any) of the ugly details of my last two months. I miss them but I can't do it. I can't pretend that everything is okay. But I'm getting there.

I'm getting there.

Soon this won't consume my life. Soon I will shed my fear of talking on the phone. Soon I will smile readily. Soon I will blog about the last asenine thing that my boss said and the creepy dude at the library and latest michevious thing the the dogs did and the latest boy who smiled at me.

I'm on my way back.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A + L Take on Vegas

I've probably mentioned it before, but consider this your official announcement: Lucy and I are going to Vegas for a few days in December.

While my mind has admittedly been on other things, every time I allow myself time to think about our little getaway, I am so. fired. up.

The trip originated out of a desire to continue our longstanding tradition of being nerds for our longtime boyfriend, Mr. David J. Matthews. DJM is playing a pair of acoustic concerts in Vegas that weekend; we snagged tickets to the show on Friday night. We also snagged a fantastical bargain on a room at the Hard Rock Hotel, where the concert will be held, and rather reasonable airfare. We fly out on Wednesday after work and we'll land in Detroit on Saturday afternoon -- just in time for me to get to Ann Arbor to see the big outdoor hockey game at UM's Big House, if I do so choose.

It is all coming together rather nicely.

The timing is nearly perfect. I am so bloody exhausted that my interactions with my alarm clock are becoming violent; Lucy is in the beginning phases of her first professional social work job and simultaneously finishing up the social services job that she had when she was in graduate school. We're equally in need of a couple of days to unwind before the insanity of the holiday season explodes cookies and wrapping paper all over our already hectic lives.

So who has some great ideas? What should we do when we're in Sin City? We have Wednesday night, all of Thursday and Friday during the day that are currently completely open and unplanned. Our Friday night is dominated by Mr. Matthews, though we could do something after.

I'm thinking a show at some point. And some really great food, like, really frequently. Maybe a spa trip at some point, although I'm not sure how Lucy would feel about the expense. And a little bit of gambling, 'cause that is what you do (neither of us are huge gamblers).

Or spending entire days alternating between napping and reading. That would be fine, too.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Up and down and up

It has been awfully hard, watching my mom go through all of this stuff in the wake of my dad cheating on her.

She has a lot of really great people in her life who really love her. They are supportive and kind and thoughtful. Sometimes I think that the strong reminders of how much you're loved is one of the best things that can come from this pain.

But my mom knows. She knows how much she's loved. These friends? The ones who are rallying around her? They're the same ones who held her up after Aunt Marie died.

It hasn't yet been a year.

(That's one of the things that I'm most pissed at my dad about. That he had to do this now. In the last quarter of what had to be one of the hardest year of her life.)

The weekend was full of ups and downs. Sometimes she seemed just fine. Other times she just seemed so, so tired.

I tried to spend some good, quality time with her. On Saturday evening, Meg and I both had hockey games a few hours apart. Just enough to see her game, go out for pizza and go to my game. On Sunday morning, we took Ellie and Blue to the dog park (yes, I'm still obsessed with the dog park). And you have to be happy at the dog park. The dog park is the happiest place on earth.

I'm feeling the ups and the downs, too. Sometimes I'm optimistic that Mom and Dad will work it out. Other times I look around and try to embrace this reality. Sometimes I'm so mad at my dad that I don't want to talk to him or see him. Other times I think of him, alienated and alone, and I want to call. I want to fix him. Not that I can. But maybe I can have dinner with him. I guess that would be a start.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Job jockeying

A full-time position opened up at my ‘brary. Yay!

It’s a position in the children’s department! Boo!

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to work in the children’s department. While children’s work wasn’t my focus when I was getting my master’s degree, I work just as much at the children’s reference desk as I do at the adult reference desk. It isn’t a mystery to me. So, while I haven’t purchased books for the children’s collection and I haven’t lead a children’s story time, the children’s department is far from a mystery to me. I took children’s literature in college. I worked with kids for four years in college. I would be fine.

But, I’m not going to get the job. Now, before you shout “BE POSITIVE! PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE! RAH! RAH!” I should tell you that there is someone else: a girl who has been here longer, who already works in the children’s department (part-time at 27 hours/week), who this job was essentially created for, who is currently walking around the library with our boss and being oriented to the additional managerial duties that come with being a full-timer. So, yeah.

My chances certainly aren’t great.

I could be all young and positive and ambitious and throw my name into the hat. It’s probably the right thing to do. Even though it feels fake and political and ridiculous. The mere thought of sitting in a pity interview makes me want to vomit.
But, there’s another coworker of mine who is interviewing for a job and I’m crossing my fingers – HARD – for him. Not just because I’m a vulture and want his position (he buys all of the adult fiction for the ‘brary. How fun/awesome would that be?!) but because it would honestly be a brilliant move and a really great fit for him. And then maybe I could have his job. Because I’d really like it.

With my boss getting fired at the end of September and all of the shifting that has occurred as a result, things at this little ol’ library sure are changing. Fast. And hopefully in my favor.

Whether it is here or somewhere else, I’m just praying that something happens soon. Working 60+ hours a week sucks so much ass.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 6

Day 6 in South Africa was probably the most unpleasant.

Meg was pissed at me for not letting her rendezvous with the Kiwi. I was pissed at Meg for being pissed at me. We spent a fricking ETERNITY on a bus to HELL. And also someone called us out for not being Mexican. Haters.

Anyway.

We had a fairly early morning. We were taking a 10:00 am bus to Rustenburg for the Mexico/Uruguay match, and we had to get up in time to squeeze in eating/showering/commute-to-bus-station fun.

When we get to the bus station, it's a gong show. There are people everywhere. And no busses to be seen. And there is, like, a dude in a red hat and I guess he's in charge? He's not even at a stand or anything. He's just standing there with the rest of us, taking money from people and giving them wristbands in exchange. I guess you were just supposed to assume that he was legit? I'm not really sure. I cut that anxiety out of the equation when I bought our tickets online before we left the States.

The bus is getting later and later and later and, I'm trying to hold it together, but I'm quietly freaking out and wondering if we're even at the right bus stop. But, at least we had a little bit of entertainment.

A youth marimba group from Soweto. SO ADORABLE.



They played "My Heart Will Go On," which amused me endlessly. Celine Dion on marimbas. Outside of a bus/train station. How can you not love that?



Eventually we make it onto the bus.

Rustenburg is two hours from Johannesburg. When I bought our tickets, I booked us for the early bus, assuming that we would get to the game plenty early, have time to get food/look at souveniers/find our seats/look around/whatever. Instead, we had to go straight to our seats.

A two hour trip? HA.

We left a little bit after 11:00 am. We got to the stadium at 3:35 pm. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING.

We did stop at a sweet gas station/rest stop on our way, so that people could get food/drinks before getting to the stadium. The stadium that sat in the middle of nowhere.

You see, the road into Rustenburg is one lane. Hmmm. Maybe it is two lanes. I can't remember anymore. Whatever it is, it isn't like, oh, a normal highway type of road that could handle the traffic of a sold out stadium for a World Cup match. And that's why it took us just short of forever to arrive for the game.



The match itself was pretty good. Mexico dominated but Uruguay won.

At half time, we were walking up to our seats and someone looked at me and said "you're not Mexican."

"You are correct," I told him. Apparently you have to be Mexican or look Mexican to wear a Mexico jersey? I'm not sure. But it wasn't the only time people commented on our fair hair/skin in relation to our jerseys. Which was...odd, I guess. I'm not certain that we look particularly Argentian or Brazilian either, but nobody had much to say at those matches.



When the bus dropped us off at the game, we were told that the bus would leave at 7:30 pm. Which was unfortunate in itself because we were back on the bus just after 6:00 pm. The bus filled right back up. Except for the two empty seats. Of passengers who were apparently late or lost or really, really inconsiderate. The bus driver finally told us that we'd wait until 8:30 pm - an extra HOUR for those irresponsible TURDS - and then we'd leave them behind.

Not awesome. But they finally showed up.



We got back to Johannesburg just before 11:00 pm. As we were making our way off of the bus and into Nelson Mandela Square - crossing our fingers that a restaurant would be open (there was, thankfully) - one of our fellow passengers joined in on our complaints.

"I wouldn't go back to that stadium if Jesus Christ Himself was playing there."

Hahaha.

I wanted to agree. But we had tickets to another game in Rustenberg later that week.
 
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