Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Live from Michigan

I’m home! Our flight landed yesterday at 11:00 am, but after over 20 hours of travel and almost no sleep, I wasn’t much into writing. Or speaking in coherent sentences. Or doing much of anything other than inventorying the massive number of trinkets that I hauled home with me.

It feels really surreal to be back here. When I was in South Africa, the two weeks seemed to fly by. But now that I’m back, I feel like I was gone for months! It was so strange to be in my apartment this morning, going through my usual routine that suddenly felt just a little bit foreign.

Meg and I called home every couple of days. I would always ask about the dogs and I would always get a vague answer. I kept getting the feeling that they weren’t telling us something. I didn’t mention it to Meg. But I was right.

On the day that we left, Blue had a major seizure. My mom came home from work and she was on the floor by the door. Mom took her to the ER right away, and they pumped her with some drug that stopped the seizure pretty quickly.

She stayed at the animal hospital (which actually specializes in neurology) for a few nights and she’s been home ever since. She’s on an anti-seizure medication now. She seems a little lethargic. She’s having trouble with her back legs. The veterinarian is treating her as though she is epileptic but, when my mom was telling us this, you could tell that she didn’t believe it was epilepsy. She’s thinking – and not saying – that it is a tumor. Mom won’t get her an MRI of her head. Which I understand and don’t, all at once. My mom would never consider extreme measures; this place does craniotomies on dogs. She wouldn’t put Blue through that.

So that was a pretty big bummer to come home to, but everything else seems fine. Just...a little weird. Because apparently the world doesn’t stop when you leave for two weeks. Strange.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Need. More. Time.

So, I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to start. I really thought I'd have more time to blog, but it seems like the days are passing bay in a FLASH and all of a sudden it is 1 am and I can't even figure out how to work the key in my hotel room door, let alone the computer in the business center. Apologies! I will fill you all in on the details when I get home on Monday.

Meg and I have only had one blowout. It was on Monday night, after we had dinner and drinks and, um, more drinks. She met some Kiwi who wanted to drag us off to the casino or perhaps into a dark alley to rape/kill us. It was already past midnight. We were leaving for Rustenburg the next morning. And the kid's wingman was an arrogant, asshole American. Sorry, kiddo. We're going to have to go home. So she spent an entire day pouting. Whatever. Sometimes you just need to be safe.

I should mention that earlier that evening we both made out, briefly, with the same Brazilian. So it isn't like I'm not letting her have any fun.

Um, yes. You read that correctly. The SAME Brazilian. He was all, "come here," and wrapping us up in his flag and sticking his tongue down our throats. Kind of hilarious.

Yesterday we went on a safari and it was glorious and beautiful and I was 10 feet away from an elephant.

The whole safari was like an extended moment of clarity when you're like "this is what I should be doing with my life. Not working. Not being constantly afraid to leave home. This is what I want to do. I want to travel and I want to see beautiful things."

We leave late on Monday and arrive home early on Tuesday. It's back to work on Wednesday-Saturday. I don't even get an extra day off for the holiday. So bitter about that.

At this rate, I figure I'll be exhausted until approximately July 15th.

It is totally worth it.

Finally, here we are at the Mexico game:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wearing ourselves out

Oh, you guys. We've been having so much fun. We're busy - so busy - all of the damn time. We're not seeing a match today, so we're going to take today a little more slowly than we've taken the other days (where we've squeezed something in before or after the match we've attended). It might be at the expense of one of the touristy things I wanted to do, but I feel like I'm on the verge of getting sick. It must be done!

We have dinner reservations at an authentic African restaurant. And I think we'll try to get to a museum in the afternoon.

Anyway, I'll just post a few (low-resolution...the internet here is so slow!) photos because, otherwise, I'll spend my whole day writing!


At the Argentina match.


Soccer City.


USA!


Tell me that lion cub isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Live from South Africa

We made it.

Weather was not on our side. Nearly missed our connection in Atlanta due to bad weather. And then had our connection delayed by a few hours once we'd boarded the plane. No worries, though. We made it.

I've only wanted to kill Meg once so far. I leaned on her shoulder when we were on the plane and she got her bitch on. Seriously, child? You may want to take note of the fact that I gave you the window seat AS ALWAYS. And the good travel pillow. I can't even drool on your shoulder in return?

She is SO the youngest child.

Speaking of young children: there was a 4 month old baby on our flight to Johannesburg. BRAVE parents. No. Wait. BRAVE mom. I'm not sure that the dad held the kid once the entire flight. It's a good thing that he was the lady's baby daddy and not mine. I'd have punched him in the face.

(This is what happens when you've had a total of 10 hours of sleep over three days - you start preaching about parenting. WTF?)

Anyway. First match today. Hopefully followed by the successful access of the hotel's wireless network. (I'm blogging from the business center.) And perhaps the posting of some pictures. Assuming that we take some. The only pictures we've taken so far have been a before and after shot on the airplane and, honestly you guys, I adore all of you but those pictures will NOT be seeing the bright lights of cyberspace.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Away we go

I am really, really going to hate myself in four hours.

When I get up. Gah.

We don't fly out until tomorrow afternoon, but I'm trying to squeeze in a few hours of work (I know, I KNOW!) before I go to the airport. I'm setting my alarm for 5:00 am and, if all goes well, I'll be at work by 7:00 am and out the door by 11 am.

Cross your fingers for me!

I feel slightly overwhelmed and curiously cautious about this whole trip. I've been nothing but 100% fired up about this even since the day I put in our request for World Cup tickets (the catalyst for this whole journey) -- and now I'm all worried about whether we're going to have enough fun. Concerned about safety. Stupidly adding up all of the money I've spent thus far.

It's probably how it is supposed to be. Suppose I was an actor - putting so much time and effort and heart into a performance. Wouldn't I be standing at the curtain wondering if what I had done was enough? Not that all actors would feel that way. But, if I were an actor, I would. It's how I think. I was definitely not born with the sun shining out of my ass.

I'll be hauling my laptop along with me. The plan is to post regularly - reliable internet connection permitting - and then you guys can scroll back to today's post and laugh at how needlessly worried I was. Like always.

Next stop: Jozi!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm not kidding about the hair

Yesterday was Lucy's birthday. And Lucy's birthday party.
Yesterday was Bridezilla's birthday. And Bridezilla's birthday party.

Lucy's party wrapped up early - around 11 - and I was still buzzing from the iced coffee I had at 5:00 and I was feeling cute and I was only a few miles away from the bar that Bridezilla and her friends were at.

So...why not? Because The Groomsman was going to be there? Screw him. No boy, regardless of his terrible decision in dismissing me from his life (hi, mistake you're going to regret later!), is going to keep me from going out if I feel like going out.

And I felt like going out.

And I did.

I got to the bar and he wasn't there so: hurrah! All of Bridezilla's other bridesmaids were there and I chatted them all up - passing out compliments and swapping stories. I wasn't there 15 minutes before Bridezilla's face lit up. When I looked up to see who she was smiling at it was, of course, him. I was surprised by how much I didn't care. At how seeing him didn't pain me. At my reaction - which was to smile and say hi. Not to clam up. Not to pout. Not to want to leave. Not to care.

It was a little bit awesome.

I danced with Bridezilla and her friends. He - because he couldn't leave the side of his BFF (Bridezilla's husband) - came over and joined us at one point and it wasn't a big deal. We didn't talk. I wasn't going out of my way to acknowledge him or to make eye contact with him. But I wasn't really avoiding him either. Just trying to stay out of his way. And it was fine. We were exisiting in the same place and I was having fun and didn't even feel like I was going to puke or cry or make a scene (secretly, I hope he felt like he was going to do all/any of these).

I'm glad that I went.

I'm glad that I left early - because I had "somewhere else to be."

I'm glad that he is wearing his hair on the longer side and, with his super-tight curls, he looks like a cross between a clown, a molester, Carrot Top and someone's ungroomed crotch.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Grandma Is Really Adorable

My Grandma The Troll called my mom this morning. "When are the girls leaving for South Africa? I want to give them each a card."

After my mom gave her the details of our trip, Grandma revealed her grand scheme.

"I put $50 in each of their cards. I know that it isn't a lot of money, but I want them to pin the $50 inside of their bra. That way, if someone robs them and takes all of their money, at least they'll each have $50."

I'm sorry, I know I'm biased because she's my grandma, but that is the cutest thing ever.

And I'm so going to do it. ...after I change it into $1 bills.

Might as well get a little padding out of this safety precaution, eh?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Classic Colleen

Lucy's birthday is on Friday. (Happy Birthday, Lady!)

Colleen and I usually collaborate on a present and celebration for Lucy. When I called Colleen about it, she told me that she was thinking that it would be fun for us to go to the spa for massages together.

This was an unusual twist in our story, as Colleen has adamantly refused to join us for massages on multiple occasions. She's never had one. Creeped out about a stranger giving her a rubdown. (I mean, to each her own but, um, considering what other things that her and strangers are known to...umm...nevermind.)

But, I am all about personal growth, especially when it comes to Colleen.

I picked out a spa and emailed her the information. "Go ahead and book the appointments," I told her. Colleen always, ALWAYS scams her way out of doing work, so sometimes I just have to assign her tasks. She took my assignment and she ran with it. I was so proud!

I called her a few days later to get my party planner on. I wanted to confirm that she made the appointments, chat about Lucy's present, discuss various restaurant options. All that.

Colleen told me that she made our appointments. (I cheered inwardly.)
And they were for the right day. (I cheered inwardly.)
And the right time. (I cheered inwardly.)

And then she dropped the bomb.

"I hope that Lucy doesn't mind, but I'm really nervous - so I booked a couples massage for us."

A couples massage. For real.

Not that there would be anything wrong with Lucy and Colleen getting a massage in the same room. HAD LUCY AGREED TO IT.

As though, on her birthday, Lucy wanted to hold Colleen's hand and listen to her anxious babble and otherwise talk her through the experience. ON HER BIRTHDAY.

That Colleen.

She's a predictable one.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The trip that snuck up on me

I leave for South Africa in one week, you guys. One week!

While you all are probably relieved, thinking that maybe this signals the end of The Trip That Never Ends (it doesn't - can you even begin to imagine how long I can stretch out two weeks of recaps?!), I'm a little shocked. We're leaving? Already? But I just bought the tickets!

(Yes. Just. Just 14 months ago.)

I'm not as excited as I thought that I would be at this point. I just have so much to do. All of the big things are taken care of - I just have so many little errands to run and tasks to complete. Just thinking about it exhausts me.

Which. Probably a good thing. I hope to be mighty exhausted by the time by ass hits the seat next Tuesday afternoon. The more I can sleep on that obscenely long fight, the better.

I have a lot of work to crank out before I go, too. My boss - who is so weird about me always being there to hold his alarmingly large hands that he's actually pulled vacation days from me in the past - is handling my absence rather well (getting a temporary employee from another location helps to ease his mind, I'm sure), so I'd like to reinforce the idea that I can leave for a day or two or 14 and everything isn't going to spontaneously combust.

So there will be a lot of i's to dot and t's to cross - giving my temp just enough direction that she can do a decent job. Keyword: decent. I'm not giving anyone reason to replace me.

No, not really. I'm not like that. My position is fairly secure - they know that I'm good and there's way, way too many subtle nuances in my day-to-day that I could ever fully prepare someone to address every single one of those situations. You have to live it to learn it. And you can't learn it in two weeks. My temp will be okay. Hopefully her presence during my absence will make my return a little less painful.

I'm expecting my return to the office to be absolutely awful.

And I'm expecting my trip to be brilliant.

I'll take a rough upcoming week. And I'll take a challenging week back. Just as long as those middle two weeks - when we're in South Africa - are magical.

It will all balance out.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Missing

Blogging has been hard lately. And it isn't just because I'm cheating on this here So Midwestern, my baby, with the travel blog I'm putting together for my friends and family to read when we're in South Africa.

It is because I feel like I have nothing to write about. Nothing fun. Nothing enraging. Nothing interesting. Nothing intelligent. Just...nothing.

I feel as though my emotional continuum has been shortened. Instead of spanning from 1-10, as I would normally, I'm stuck. I get as high as a six. I get as low as a two. And that's it. I can't break the barrier.

And I haven't been able to. Not since November, when Aunt Marie died and I dropped to a zero and when I started dating The Groomsman and soared to a nine.

I feel stunted, somehow. Foggy. Like myself but not. As though I'm directing this play instead of starring in it.

A lot of it has to do with the amount of myself that I put into worrying. Primarily about my mom. She is really, really sad. And, all at once, I know it and I don't. Like, I know that I need to be at home and I need to spend time with her. But I don't connect it to her quiet sadness. Sadness that has settled in her eyes and in the tone of her voice. Sadness that she rarely verbalizes.

We had a family party last weekend. In a rare moment of candor, she asked my dad's sisters about their brother - my uncle - who died suddenly 13 years ago. "After Rich died, did you have a hard time? Did everything just seem so...pointless? It's six months out and I don't think this is getting any better."

I don't think it is getting any better, either. She is doing what she must - work, housework, family commitments, gym - but she isn't finding joy in it. Or in anything. I hate watching her going through the motions. I miss her ridiculous outburts. The way she would tell a good story. When she'd tell me anything other than a forced "I'm okay" when I called and asked about how she was doing.

This worry is exhausting. It consumes me.

I miss my aunt. I miss my mom. I miss me.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Speaking of...

Funny that you guys brought up The Athlete yesterday. Was I totally thinking that it would be great to drag him to Bridezilla’s birthday party? Hell yes I was! Truthfully, there would be nothing better. Except maybe if it was, like, a legitimate date rather than a dirty ploy developed to get back at The Groomsman.

But I’d take it either way. Like I even have standards!

I actually haven’t seen much of The Groomsman since he’s been home this summer. He has been doing a fair amount of travelling and I’ve been busy at work when he’s stopped by and, I don’t know, it just isn’t THERE like it was.

I have my suspicions as to why.

And I think it might have to do with his girlfriend.

First: he actually admitted to having one, instead of being the dirty, dirty SketchyManWhore that he usually is. Not that we got into any deep conversation about it, she was slipped into a story – “...and this girl I’m seeing” – but still. For him? That is huge.

If he is actually being a good guy, who am I to stop him?

I’m feeling sort of proud of my little, gorgeous, smart, funny, adorable SketchyManWhore.

If I can’t have him – at least he can be a good guy for another girl.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tell me what to do

Bridezilla's birthday is next Friday.

She sent me an evite for her party at least two months ago. (Hi! Psychotic!) I've mostly been avoiding thinking about the whole thing. Lucy's birthday is the same day, and Lucy is my actual friend in that we have a reciprocal relationship in that she, like, knows what I do for a living and what town I'm living in.

Yeah. I wish I was kidding about that.

Anyway. I don't think we're celebrating Lucy's birthday until the next day, unfortunately, so I'm available to go to Bridezilla's party. Which, unfortunately, is also in a very convenient location. Which, unfortunately, makes me feel slightly guilty for merely choosing not to go even if that's what I'm inclined to do. Which is perfectly silly because this girl is not my friend. She is a bride whose wedding I was selected to be in because I fit the part and look cute in pink.

Also.

ALSO.

Also, I fully expect The Groomsman to be there.

And while I would like to say that I could completely pull off Cool, Sweet Girl Without Any Regrets or Grudges or Hurt Feelings...I'm not sure that I won't get there and completely turn on The Bitch. I can stare across a table and snap one word answers with the best of them.

I don't know which one of me will show up.

I want to show up and I want to be adorable. I want to be the clever girl he was smitten with in the first place. I want to be confident. I want to wear the outfit hanging in my closet that I know would be just perfect. I want to go there and not care whether he shows up or not. And I want him to know it.

I would hate to go there and be a mess. I won't cry in the bathroom or cause a scene. That's not what I do. But I could pout. I could be quiet. I could see him and remember the last time I saw him. When I was so into him. Just before he called it off. Via email. (That fucker.)

And if I'm going to go and be a mess, I'd rather not go.

But if I'm going to go and be fabulous, I wouldn't mind. I wear revenge hot pretty damn well.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

60 minutes

I would love another hour in my day. Just one hour. An hour to read or put away my clean clothes or watch The Hills where I'm not actively trading an hour of rest.

I've figured it out.

I'm going to become a dude.

Because - disclaimer: I am certainly not an expert on the opposite sex but I'd like to think that I'm not completely clueless - guys cannot possibly spend time on stupid things like I do.

How I let the precious minutes in my life slip away
5 minutes: detailed inspection of every pore on my face.
5 minutes: waiting for conditioner to work its magic.
3-9 minutes: hairstyle decision and excecution.
7 minutes: "I'll wear this black skirt. No, this black skirt! No, that other black skirt...which is...hmmm...I'll just dig around in my closet until...ah ha!"
1 minute: weeping over a commercial
12 minutes: packing lunch/snacks for work, with the goal of being healthy while also perfectly balancing the salty-to-sweet ratio that is so crucial to my overall well being.
2 minutes: attempting to determine if email I'm sending to coworker is too mean.
4 minutes: careful application of sunless tanner.
3 minutes: careful scrubbing of hands to remove evidence of sunless tanner from palms.
7 minutes: (over the course of the day) digging through my purse to find my keys.
9 minutes: analyzing wedding pictures on Facebook, posted by latest classmate to get married.
7 minutes: writing several draft responses to a text message that could be answered with "yes" or "no."
6 minutes: mad dash into the drugstore to replenish tampons and lipgloss.
19 minutes: politely listening to coworker gab on and on about her exboyfriend. AGAIN.
3 minutes: thinking fondly of David Beckham.
1 minute: staring at my pedicure in horror.
2 minutes: talking myself out of visiting the office candy dish.
5 minutes: choosing proper workout attire, including a sufficient sports bra, underwear that will not cause pain/distraction and shorts/pants of the perfect length and color.
47 minutes: tallying all of the ridiculous things that I do with the goal of cutting them out of my days in order to save time and effort and become a streamlined factory of a person (while hopefully getting more sleep and having more leisure time) even though it will never happen.
 
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