Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brain Dump Extravaganza (or: I need to write about something else)

Over the weekend, I took the big, giant plunge and updated my blog template.

For the first time in almost six years.

So, I hope ya’ll can stand this new look, because it should be around until approximately 2016.

***

Meg and I are planning a Chicago trip for the weekend after my birthday. There’s a big soccer match at Soldier Field that weekend (USA vs. Poland) that I bought tickets for, and we’re going to make a weekend out of it. Yay, road trip!

***

A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted this absolute truth: half-marathon training So Midwestern style consists of running as much as you normally would while feeling 10 times as stressed about it.

Pretty awesome.

I don’t stick with my running plan because I don’t have to. (That’s not to say that I don’t need to, but I’m incapable of such forethought.) I’m accountable to nobody but myself and that makes it really, really easy to skip or shorten a run.

And I suddenly understand the benefits of a training partner.

***

Speaking of Twitter: on a whim, I joined a Twitter-based fantasy football team. I don’t know anything about fantasy football. Or professional football at all, really.

Our league had an automatic draft (you rank players/positions and ESPN drafts for you in the middle of the night, which is handy) and the only player on my team that I know is a wide receiver who played at UM when I was a student.

This is bound to be a gong show.

***

My commute, which is normally 20 minutes, took me 80 minutes last night. Is there anything worse than really, really, really wanting to get home and being absolutely helpless in your quest to get there? Seriously. I had planned to get out of that (somewhat uncomfortable) skirt long before 7:00 pm.

***

I will be seeing Lady Gaga in concert on Saturday night. I am expecting the best.

***

HOW IS TOMORROW ALREADY SEPTEMBER?

***

My commute, which is normally 20 minutes, took me 80 minutes last night. Is there anything worse than really, really, really wanting to get home and being absolutely helpless in your quest to get there? Seriously. I had planned to get out of that (somewhat uncomfortable) skirt long before 7:00 pm.

Tell me, you guys, how long is your commute? What’s the longest that you could stand commuting for work?

I recently applied to a job that would be a longish drive, and I wonder how long I could stand a commute that would take me 60 minutes in ideal conditions. Oh, southeastern Michigan and your lack of public transportation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moral dilemma on a huge scale

I think my dad is cheating on my mom.

There. It's out. I spent a day trying to find a way to word it more delicately, but I couldn't do it. It was hard enough just typing that sentence.

He's been acting sketchy for a while. Probably since around the end of winter. But his behavior this weekend - while my mom has been in Florida with a few of her girlfriends - has really, really freaked me out.

I hope I'm wrong.

The first time I thought he was acting sketchy was on a night that I was over at their house. Dad was sitting at the kitchen counter with the laptop while Mom and Meg and I were watching a movie or something. I remember him being on the computer forever. And then he disappears into the garage forever. I walk by the open laptop and he has a chat window up. Whoever he was chatting with had sent him their phone number. A bit later, I went out to my car for something, and he was on the phone. He was in the garage for a long time, having this secret conversation with whomever it is.

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with Mom and Dad. They're talking about Dad's friend Don, who Dad had golfed with the day before. "It was nice to see him," my dad said. "I hadn't seen him since he got back to Italy."

"Oh, is that right?" There was an edge to my mom's voice. "You said you golfed with him last Monday."

"Oh, right, right. I forgot about that. I apologize."

I was definitely aware of both incidents, but I brushed it off. The thing with my dad is that he's always been a little sketchy when it comes to my mom. Like, he's afraid that something he's doing will piss her off (see: smoking cigars) so he just hides it from her. And she inevitably finds out and is even more pissed than she'd have been otherwise.

But this weekend? Fuck. It's been really hard to ignore.

He has this broken ankle. The plan was for me to come over for the weekend and help him. But I'm driving over there on Friday, talking to him on the phone and he's "you know, you don't need to come over. Just stay the night at your apartment. There's nothing going on here. I'm going to dinner with Rob. You just stay at your apartment, because I won't even be home. So you should definitely stay there."

And he was just so insistent on it that it caught my attention.

So he went out that night. And he calls me around 10 or 10:30 to see if I'm at the house. And when I tell him that, yes, I'm at the house, he informs me that he'll be out for a few more hours.

It was at that point where I hacked into his email and Facebook accounts and found a few sketchy things.

And I started to feel sick and I haven't stopped feeling sick since.

On Saturday night, Meg and I went to the bar and we were planning on going back to the house at the end of the night. So we could help him out in the morning. As planned.

He calls Meg while we're on the way to the bar and says "call me when you're on your way home." Like he needed a warning that we were on our way.

Then there was last night. We went to dinner. When we got back to the house, I started baking a cake. He was all up in my shit the entire damn time I was baking that cake and I wanted to strangle him. And then he starts pulling the "oh, you can leave now, I will just take the cakes out of the oven for you." And "I'll put the cakes in the refrigerator once they're cool. You should go."

Do you have company coming over, buddy? Do you need me to leave right this second? I left when I was ready to leave, which was almost 10:00 pm.

I cleaned up the house on Sunday, so I know exactly how it was when I left it. At 10:00 pm. So, when I went over to the house today and saw that both of the office chairs were pulled up to one desk, like two people were looking at the screen together, I was suspicious.

And when I saw notes jotted on a piece of paper - notes that were written in unfamiliar, female handwriting, I nearly threw up. I logged on to my dad's account and there was his web browser open to a hotel search. For a room in Florida over a weekend in November.

Maybe I'm making this up, you guys. Maybe I'm imagining things. But I'm so upset about this. I can't even look at him. And I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Help me. What do I do? How do I handle this? These are my parents. This is their marriage! On one hand, I don't feel that it's my place to say or do anything. On the other, it's my family. It's my mom. How can I justify pretending that I don't see this?

I figure that I have a few options:
a. Tell my mom. Exactly what I've written here. And let her handle it how she pleases.
b. Confront my dad.
c. "Innocently" bring out the hotel list (which I swiped from the desk) in front of both of them ("do you think that the housekeeper [who we all know wasn't there today] was using the computer?") and let them take it from there.
d. Nothing

I feel so, so sick about this. I can't stop thinking about it. And I have, really, nobody to talk to about it. The one person who I really want to, my sister, will be really crushed. She adores my dad. She worships my dad. And everyone else - Lucy or Ashley or maybe my cousins Anna or Liz - well, I'm afraid. I'm afraid to tell them because what if it isn't true? What if it ruins their relationship with him anyway?

I'm so pissed at my father, but I still want to protect him.

I cannot believe this. I cannot f'ing believe this. Oh, I hope that I've just lost all sense and completely made this up. With all my heart and mind and soul and

This is not an awesome situation to be in.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Worry, worry

[I really need to start recapping my weekends before 10:00 on Sunday night. By the time I get into bed with my laptop (what? It is warm and good company), I'm already halfway to dreamland.]

I don't think I mentioned that my dad broke his ankle, but he did - quite severely, and he's in a cast and on crutches. My mom is in Florida for a few days, so I went to stay with him with the expectation that I'd make his life a little bit easier. And I did, I think. Laundry and dishes and vacuuming and watering Mom's gardens and letting the dogs out and other assorted things that aren't entirely compatable with crutches.

He was really, really fucking annoying the entire weekend. I wanted to punch him in the throat.

But I was still helpful, which I believe qualifies me for good daughter status regardless of the whole throat-punching desire.

I have a hurricane of thoughts about my time at home this weekend. I can't decide if I should be blogging about any of it, to be perfectly honest. But I also can't stand holding all of this in. And I could use a little bit of advice.

If you're a betting person, I'd put money down on this all coming out at some point.

Friday, August 27, 2010

If it happened regularly, it wouldn't seem so perfect

It isn’t often that I find myself completely falling in love with my life. You know, those moments when you want to wrap yourself up in your surroundings like you’d wrap yourself in a sum-warmed beach towel after a quick dip in the Great Lake of your choosing.

Last night was one of those nights.

Lucy and I went to a concert, which never fails to stir up all sorts of nostalgia. Just the two of us in the car, snacks packed for the ride home, tickets in my purse. We engineer our concert experiences in 2010 just like we did it in 1999. There is something so comforting in the repetition. I want to go to concerts with her when we’re 60. I want to pack us granola bars and water and laugh at the drunk assholes who will undoubtedly be seated nearby.

Something about last night was especially perfect. The weather was the perfect mixture of summertime and fall – tank tops and jeans. The venue was the perfect size. Our seats were just close enough. We drank just enough wine and snacked on just enough food. And, oh, Ray LaMontagne’s voice. DREAMY. And, oh, David Gray on stage. ADORABLE.

It was such a perfect night. I wish I could bottle it up and uncork it on those imperfect days. Just take a whiff of it, really. That’s all I would need to remember it. To remember that, among the monotony of days exist these little glimpses of perfection and, as long as I keep going, another will come eventually come along.

As they always do.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My four weeks of slobdom

As you may recall, I came back from South Africa sick. Upper respiratory infection, the plague, giraffe's cough: diagnose me however you'd please, Dr. BlogReaders, I'm just glad that it is gone.

Finally.

It took a while. A really long while. A month, perhaps, of feeling crappy upon my return. I would cough and sniffle and whine my way through my workdays and my weekends. I went to bed early. And I completely trashed my apartment.

Seriously, you guys. I will admit to being a fairly neat person by nature, but this place was trashed even by a slob's standards. Two-full-suitcases-in-the-living-room, four-foot-pile-of-clothes-behind-the-bathroom-door, sink-full-of-dishes, can-you-even-see-yourself-in-that-mirror trashed.

Had someone come over (and I was certainly not inviting anyone over) I would have been humiliated. Like, I would probably be forced to eradicate that person from my life. Unless it was my mom, because you can never eradicate your mom from your life. I'd just have to eradicate my ear drums because she NEVER would have let me hear the end of that. For sure.

So, I was sick for a month. And, for the last month, I've been digging out of my post-South Africa, giraffe's cough-induced slobness. I am finally at the point where my apartment looks habitable and - holy shit, what a frickin' difference. Had I remembered how nice it is to not live in a complete hellhole, I totally would've buckled down and cleaned this place like a damn fool on the first day I felt remotely healthy.

Without a doubt, the biggest difference is in the kitchen. When my counters are spotless and my sick is empty, I sleep better at night. I am completely serious. I need a clean kitchen to feel like a productive member of society. That's what counts. Even if there's two weeks of workout clothes polluting the airspace in my bedroom.

Am I the only one here? Is there a room or a place or a thing that you absolutely have to keep clean?

And, um...is your must-clean area the same as your mother's? Because, maybe my mom wipes down her kitchen counter on an hourly basis and nags when there's dishes in the sink. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Woodward

I didn’t realize – until driving to meet Ashley for dinner last night – how much I associate that area with Aunt Marie.

A legendary boulevard in metro Detroit. Famous for cars and cruising. A corridor of youth-friendly cities. Dotting along it: her hospital, her grocery store, her community, the zoo (where she always had an annual membership), her market, the little shops and boutiques that she was always discovering.

I didn’t know – until I was at the intersection – that my breath would catch in my throat when I found myself on the corner of the boulevard that I so associate with my Aunt Marie and the street of the church - HER church - where her funeral was held.

I didn’t realize – until I was doing it – that I’d turned off of Woodward, onto the
intersecting road. Past the main entrance of the hospital where she spent too much time.

How many days did I pull into that parking structure? How many times did I pull my
coat tight to my body, tuck my chin to my chest and brace myself against the wind that came howling down that main drive? How many afternoons did I somehow manage to find her in that hospital, that damn maze of towers with staff members who were forever switching her floor? How many times did I see her smile when I walked through the door to her room - no matter who else was there, no matter how awful she felt. No matter what.

I felt her. On that busy, congested road. In the lights that illuminated the hospital in the calm dusk.

It wasn't a bittersweet sadness. It was an ugly sad. An angry sad. I wanted to drive that road to her neighborhood and pull into her narrow driveway and climb the front steps and poke my head into the house and hear her yelling to me from the kitchen. I wanted to park in that bloody structure and navigate the asinine hospital floor plan and see her smile at me when I walked into her room.

I wanted her not to be dead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Traits

Snippet from a conversation with my mom: "I think that it was easier for me, I think, because I got married so young. I didn't have any expectations."

I'm not sure if what I have in mind can even be considered expectations but...I don't know. I wouldn't label myself as picky. I don't think that I'm unrealistic. I don't even know that I'm sure about what kind of guy I would be most compatible with. Or what my so-called deal breakers are. I'm not sure that I've dated enough to have any idea about, oh, pretty much anything.

There's this guy from soccer who clearly has a thing for me. It is really obvious and sweet and endearing and one day he might get the nerve up to ask me out and, at that time, I'll probably say yes unless I've shacked up with David Beckham.

I know just enough about this guy to be nervous. To be concerned with potential compatibility because - because why? Because he doesn't fit what is merely an idea of who I am supposed to end up with. A guess. Because I haven't dated enough to cross any trait off of my list.

I can't say that I cannot date guys who didn't go to college just because Colin and I didn't work out. I can't say that I cannot date guys who never played a sport just because of the failure that was The Groomsman and me. They were both just one. They could be the exception, they could be the rule. I need to throw myself out there and continue to sample the population. Prove my hypotheses to be true.

I just don't know how girls do it. How they throw so much energy and time and effort into dating. How they can keep brushing themselves off and fixing their makeup and putting themselves out there. Doesn't it sting? Can't you take time to lick your wounds?

I'm not sure if it is my expectations that are holding me back, Mom, so much as it is my instinct to protect myself.

Or maybe that is the expectation. That I'll get hurt.

And so I hold back.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tomorrow might feel like a vacation

I spent last night at Mom and Dad's. Mom is in a walking cast from her recent foot surgery, Dad is out of town, I wanted to be there to help her out with the dogs and whatnot.

I was up at 9:00 am, which is a really glorious sleep for me.

I fed the dogs.

I fixed us Zucchini Breakfast Casserole (with a recipe I found at Simply Recipes).

We ate. Read the newspaper and drank coffee.

At 10:40, we packed the dogs up in my car and went on another adventure to the dog park. Lucy and Wolf met us there. The dogs were wild and happy. Mom ran into two people she knew. And also got peed on by some random dog.

We left to go back home at noon.

At 12:30, I learned that Heather and her sisters were working on cleaning up her dad's house.

I offered to help.

But first, I needed to make (boxed) brownies to bring with me.

I got to the house at 1:30. I cleaned, the kitchen and The Most Disgustingly Dirty Light Fixture In The History of the World, until 4:00.

When I got back to Mom and Dad's house at 4:15, I had my rather late lunch. Packed up my things. Got ready for soccer. Helped Dad (who had since returned home) fix something in the garage. Well, sort of. I held things and he did the fixing.

I left for soccer at 5:00.

Played soccer from 6:00-8:00.

Went to the grocery store.

Unpacked my groceries, my soccer bag and my overnight bag.

Made a mango smoothie.

Paid bills.

Took a shower.

And now I'm blogging.

I wonder if there will be a time when I miss having days like today. Days that are packed so full that I barely have time to sit down.

I wonder if there will be a time when I allow myself not to have days like today. Days where I'm so precisely focused on helping others - the dogs, my mom, Heather and her siblings - that I don't even feel the fatigue.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm not good at everything (I know you're shocked)

When I was at freshman orientation – 10 years ago just last month – I called home to talk to my mom. “All of the Spanish classes are full,” I moaned. “I think I’m going to take Italian.”

“Just wait and take Spanish next semester,” my mom (a college professor, but not in a foreign language) advised.

I didn’t listen.

I don’t know why I didn’t listen. I didn’t take Spanish during my senior year of high school. What could I have forgotten in those additional three months that I hadn’t forgotten in the previous 14 months?

I signed up for Italian instead.

I did okay in my Italian 101 class. I didn’t study as much as I should have. I didn’t engage myself in class. But I got through it, barely giving a thought to the fact that Italian was only the beginning. UM required that I take four semesters of a foreign language to graduate. Italian wasn’t going away after mid-December and I’m not sure that I grasped that.

Italian 102. I had this sweet instructor who seemed to genuinely like me, despite the fact that I was brutal. Awful. Absolutely pathetic. I went to every class but, still, I wasn’t getting it. I’m not sure that I studied enough, but I’m certain that I didn’t study in the right way. Right at the end of the semester, on the drop date, I dumped the class (at the advice of my instructor and my personal advisor/mom) and took the blemish on my transcripts. It was better than taking the F.

I went home from the summer in a bit of a panic about the language situation. I had to figure something out. I had to pass four semesters of a language or I couldn’t graduate. This wasn’t optional.

During the summer semester, I enrolled in Italian 101 at my mom’s college. (For free. Woohoo!) I did okay, but it didn’t move at the warp speed that my other Italian courses did. But it was so nice to practice.

(I never told my professor that I had already taken Italian at UM. How much of a turd am I?!)

But when I got back to school, and got back into Italian 102 again, I floundered. I just couldn’t get it. I couldn’t do it. And it SUCKED. For a student who never did anything but well, it was completely unnerving.

I talked to my instructor (the same one I had the previous winter). She knew that I was trying and, still, failing. She refered me to my advisor, telling me to ask about the test that I'd have to take to test out of language.

And when I say "test out," I really mean "prove myself so bad at learning language that I'm granted an out."

And I was. I took the ASVAB - Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery - and apparently I sucked hard enough to be granted the waiver. Instead, I was required to take four classes in one culture. That's how I ended up taking a lot of Russian literature.

I still wonder how much of that was because I'm really bad at learning languages and how much of it was because I didn't know how to properly study for a language or because I was just an overwhelmed college kid with too much on my plate.

At some point, I would like to try again. To see if, when it is the only subject I'm trying to learn, when I'm not pressured to get a certain grade or learn to a certain level, if I could do a little bit better.

And I'd like to prove to myself that I can do it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 3

The best way to describe day three in South Africa: patriotic.

I never knew that I was so patriotic! Despite the feverish purchasing of an endless supply of red, white and blue before the trip, I had no idea I'd be so darn proud to wear it in South Africa.

The game was at 4:00 pm, but it still monopolized the entire day. Of course, not waking up until 9:00 am helped. After breakfast and showers and email checking, it was time to catch our shuttle.

We took the earliest hotel shuttle to the game and we were in with a group of funny, drunk, loud New Yorkers. They had wanted to stop by the bar where all of the American fans were meeting before the game. After a lot of back and forth - the bar wasn't close enough to walk to the stadium - they managed to get our shuttle driver to drop us off, transport the other group, and then pick us up again to get us to the stadium.

I'm glad it worked out. The bar was INSANE. American fans were packed inside this tiny bar, singing and yelling and doing a whole lot of drinking. It took forever for us to get a drink. And, while we were doing so? We met a kid from our very small hometown. What's the chance of that?!

There was this dad there with his son. The son was maybe 15, had a full set of braces and was clearly having his first bar/drinking experience. "Come and take your picture with my boy," the dad said to us. "I want his picture with some pretty girls." We obliged, of course, and the kid looked like he was going to pee himself. Hilarious.

When we were standing outside of the bar, we posed for photos with a few locals, too. I guess a pair of sisters all decked out in red, white and blue isn't something that you see every day?



The shuttle dropped us off two blocks from Ellis Park. We walked to the stadium, marveling at how many other Americans were attending the match against Slovenja.

When we got to the stadium, we had a bit of a surprise. The seats at Ellis Park are backwards (to us, anyway). Row Z is the first row of the stadium. We were sitting just eight rows from the field!

Meg had packed her zoom lens. As a result, we have a lot of amazing shots. Such as this one, of my boyfriend, Carlos Bocanegra.



Yeah, I'd hit that.



The game itself was incredibly fun, even though the American had that one goal called back (which apparently everyone in America was talking about for days?) and it only ended in a draw.

We went back to the hotel in the shuttle with the hilarious New Yorkers. We headed out almost immediately after we got back for Sandton, an area where we had plenty of restaurants to choose from and where we could fit in a bit of shopping, too. We had our hearts set on watching England-Algeria that night and, wouldn't you know, there's really no such thing as a sports bar in South Africa. Well, not our idea of one: with bad food and televisions plastered on every surface.

Instead, we found a restaurant that had a few televisions and, luckily, got a table where we could see the match. Sort of. It didn't really matter. We had warm food (pasta!) and good drinks and we were all blissed out in the joy that was the World Cup.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fuel

I've amped up the exercise in preparation for October's half-marathon, but this constant feeding of my face is getting a bit ridiculous.

7:20 am: a banana smeared with peanut butter and Nutella
7:40 am: mango black tea with skim milk and sugar
9:15 am: string cheese
9:30 am: a cup of hot water
10:15 am: 1/2 cup of French vanilla cappuccino, 1/2 cup of coffee
11:10 am: handful of Trader Joe's cat-shaped cookies
12:00 pm: another cup of hot water
1:07 pm: mini Mounds bar swiped from office candy dish
1:20 pm: two oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, delivered by my sister to my office
4:00 pm: a bowl of chicken and wild rice soup, a handful of cherries and another cookie even though I was completely full
4:30 pm: more hot water
7:20 pm: delicious Mexican black bean, tomato, avocado, cheese, tortilla thing
7:25 pm: granola bar
9:40 pm: mango sticky rice

I've been tossing my (adorable, Vera Bradley) lunch bag into a larger tote bag. Partially because I've been hauling whatever book I've been reading with me so that I can get in a chapter or two during lunch. Partially because...well...I can only fit a fraction of the food that I need into my cute, but not entirely functional, lunch bag.

I always eat so much more than my peers, but this eating thing has reached impressive new highs.

I'd be much more enthused about the entire situation if I didn't have to grocery shop.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am fabulously classy

Soccer. Sunday. Playing the team that I made my fantastic fall against.

I took a corner kick for our team and, I swear, I nearly fell after I kicked the ball. Back on my heel with my kicking leg extended out in front of me. It would've been pretty ugly.

"Did you that?" I asked my teammate as I jogged past her. "I almost fell. This is the team that I busted my ass on that throw in again and I nearly did it again. What. The. FUCK?"

I said it pretty loud. I know that I did because as soon as the f-bomb slipped out of my mouth, I realized how close the (extremely picky, uptight, old) referee was standing to me. Thankfully, he ignored my potty mouth.

I had barely finished my sigh of relief when a girl from the other team comes up to me. "Hey! Don't you work at MyCity Library? You helped me find Water for Elephants yesterday!"

Ah, yes. That's me. Your classy local librarian.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The good overwhelmed the bad



I gave my cell phone a shower. Threw it in a drawstring backpack with a bottle of water. A leaky bottle of water. I'm only a little bitter - and only because I lost my contacts (and some cute texts from The Athlete that I couldn't bring myself to delete). It was time for a new phone anyway.

The reason that I was tossing things into a backpack was because Lucy and I were going on a dog park adventure. We brought her sweet little Wolf and Ellie and Blue and Aunt Marie's dog, Hank.

Oh, and the dogs had so much fun. Ellie gets a lot out of an open space and the opportunity to run - she stays on a chain at Mom and Dad's because she cannot be trusted to stay in the yard. And Blue just wants to play fetch. And Hank, he's just so cute and old, bumbling around and introducing himself to all of the other dogs. Wolf likes to run with Ellie, chasing her in circles with his tongue flapping in the air.

They're all just so cute and happy. It rubs off. I left the dog park 100% cuter and happier than I'd been before we'd gone. And that was after I discovered that I ruined my damn phone.

We went back to Mom and Dad's because I was watching the girls while the 'rents got away for the weekend. Lucy and I drank margaritas and hung out in the kitchen. We pulled together a killer salad and two delightful pizzas with all sorts of fun toppings. We took the dogs swimming in the lake (as though they hadn't had enough activity!) and we had dessert and never got around to watching a movie.

I ruined my phone and - if I'm being honest - it could have wrecked my night. I could have obsessed over it. Continually tried to fix it. Sulked because I was mad at myself for making a mistake and being mad for being mad because everyone makes mistakes and, ugh, can I not let myself be human for once?

But I didn't. It's just a stupid phone. Which is nothing, really, when you have four stupid dogs to entertain you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I haven't complained about work in a while

It’s been a while since I posted a work rant, mostly because, in the few years that I’ve been at this office, I haven’t had to deal with bullshit on a grand scale like I did when I was at my last location.

Also – I hear it is risky and unprofessional to blog about your job? Probably as risky and unprofessional as it is to blog about your annoyances with your family and how that boy who hurt your feelings deserves to have his legs broken.

Anyway!

I have a work rant.

First, let me introduce you to the players in our drama:
1. Charlie: my boss
2. Andy: company president
3. Mr. Vendor: a longtime vendor to the company, plus a personal friend to Andy and Charlie
4. Melissa: Andy’s assistant. A good work friend, but she definitely tows the company line. I genuinely like her but I don’t always trust her.

We start this tale with Mr. Vendor. He stops in on a regular basis. Sometimes it is to make (or attempt to make) a sale, sometimes it is because he can’t figure out how to open a document on his home PC (because I’m apparently his tech support?) and sometimes it is because he’s going to lunch with Andy and Charlie.

He’s very friendly when he comes in. He’s a nice man. And also a little creepy. Like how he tries to rub my shoulders. Or when he gives me a kiss on the cheek before I go. It’s always made me slightly uncomfortable, but I’ve never been ballsy enough to say anything. It has never really occurred to me to tell him to back off. I’m not sure why. I guess I don’t feel particularly empowered to.

So, he’s a creeper. A nice creeper. A harmless creeper, but a creeper nonetheless. In person (shoulder rubs, cheek kisses) and on the phone (when he will say inappropriate things like “oh, your voice is so sexy”).

He’s like this to Melissa, too, just on a smaller scale. She’s a little older than me. A little more buttoned up. She doesn’t talk to him on the phone as often as I do. I take the brunt of it, but she isn’t free from his creepin’ ways.

Everyone knows about this. Everyone knows that Mr. Vendor is a creeper. The head of HR (Andy’s sister – seriously) hides when he comes into the office. And my boss, Charlie, has asked me before if Mr. Vendor makes me uncomfortable. “Just let me know,” he has said. “I’ll take care of it.” But I’ve never asked him to follow up.

So, last Thursday, Mr. Vendor comes in for a bit. It was fine. He wasn’t too creepy. But he was sort of all up in the shit of an intern of ours, talking and talking and talking to her. You could tell that the poor girl was like “who the fuck is this old dude and why won’t he go away?”

When he leaves, he calls back a few minutes later to talk to the intern again. Except, when Melissa answers the general line, he just says “are you naked?”

Melissa is infuriated. And she also refuses to put him through to the intern.

So, she mentions this to our head of HR. Just as the company lawyer comes into the office for a meeting on an unrelated topic. The lawyer is immediately up in Andy’s shit. “This is a black and white issue. This cannot happen.”

And suddenly a light goes off in Andy’s head. A flashing light. Screaming LAWSUIT-LAWSUIT-LAWSUIT.

And it becomes the biggest deal in all of the fucking world.

So, last Friday, when I get to the office, I get pulled into a meeting with me and Charlie and Andy and Melissa. And Andy is clearly saying everything that the lawyer told him to say. Except for the time where he slips up and basically asked us if we encouraged the behavior.

Please.

Luckily, Melissa had on her bulldog persona that day and she sort of reamed Andy out for suggesting that. It was cool.

We go around and around and around on the issue. It ate up the entire day. Andy’s going to talk to him. Melissa is going to respond to the “sorry if I offended you yesterday” email that Mr. Vendor sent that morning.

Mr. Vendor didn’t answer Andy’s calls. But he emailed Melissa back, apologizing, and called later in the day. She gently bitched him out.

And, just when you’d think that he got the idea that his creepy ways weren’t going to join him at the office any more: the florist shows up. With bouquets for Melissa and me.

Because there is NOTHING that says “I understand that our relationship is purely professional and I will no longer treat you as though you are a piece of meat” like a bouquet of flowers.

I’m pretty sure that he didn’t get the message.

And it’s been a week and I know that Andy hasn’t had The Talk with him.

It’s just a lot of bullshit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 2

On our first morning in South Africa, we were up early. 6? 6:30? Definitely not a time that we normally see on vacations but, with all of the travel, it didn't come as a surprise.

We had breakfast at the hotel's restaurant. We showered and dressed in the sky blue and white of Argentina. Meg did the shoulder exercises required by her physical therapist. We tooled around the hotel, taking silly pictures of random things. We tried to get our laptops hooked up to the hotel's archaic wireless and equally archaic network to no avail. And then we caught the hotel's shuttle to our first match: Argentina vs. South Korea.

We left quite early. Of course, we had no idea how long it would take to get to the stadium. While, distance wise, it wasn't incredibly far to the stadium, the traffic sucked. But we were still dropped off with plenty of time to spare.

So, here's a thing about the stadium: it is sort of in the middle of nowhere. This enormous, beautiful facility and nothing around it except dirt fields. Even the parking lots didn't back right up to it. So, when our driver dropped us off, we couldn't even see the stadium. No joke. We just followed the crowd. For a half hour. Through parking lots and down sidewalks and past two security checks and over a pedestrian bridge and - oh! - there it is. Beautiful.



With time to spare, we checked out the merchandise tent and took some pictures. It was outside of the stadium that we first realized that our curly-haired, blond, femaleness was a little bit unique to some other World Cup visitors. Mainly the ones who asked to get their pictures taken with us. Hilarious.



The inside of the stadium was a bit of a surprise. We're used to lavish, state-of-the-art stadiums with sushi bars and in-game hosts and all of that. This? Was new and nice and clean and so not fancy-schmancy. Just your regular, standard stadium: all cement and concession stands that all sold the exact same handful of items.



The atmosphere left us awestruck. So many people from so many countries being so loud. It was quite the sight to see.



The picture above is my favorite one taken of Meg and me from the trip. What you can't tell from the picture is how bloody cold it was that day. We froze our asses off. It was a sunny day, but we sat in the shade. The sky was cloudless and it was w-w-w-windy.



Argentina won the game, 4-1. It was exciting to see so many goals, because the tournament had been quite low scoring to that point. We were happy with the result - I'm not sure if you can tell from our outfits, but we were totally cheering for Argentina.

Getting out of the stadium after the game was somewhat frustrating. The concourses were absolutely packed and, due special sections being blocked off for media, some ramps were inaccessible and you couldn't walk around the entire perimeter of the building.

We were lucky enough to witness a little fight just as we were exciting the building. We high-tailed it out of there in a hurry. I don't think it turned into anything big, though.

Just like the walk to the stadium, the walk back was lengthy. A half-hour, maybe? A half-hour that I spent fretting about our ride. Our shuttle was just parked in the middle of a lot with no markings or signs and, well, I was worried that we'd never find it and end up stranded in the middle of a dusty field with no ride and no chance of ever making it back to our hotel alive. Yeah. I spent a lot of the trip worrying about transportation. But we found our shuttle. And all was right with the world.

That night, we went to dinner in the same area that we'd gone to the night before. We timed it so that we could eat, drink and watch the Mexico/France game. It worked out quite well. We're both much happier when we have food in our bellies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bloggers beware

I’m trying to be a good smart, mature, reasonable adult and apply for jobs outside of Michigan.

I’ve never been too keen on the idea of moving away, but lately the fear that I associate with relocation has died down significantly. It has a lot to do with my trip to South Africa, I think. Planning that undertaking proved to me that I’m a little more self-sufficient than I give myself credit for. Plus, it reminded me of how much I want to travel. And, thus, of how I need to get a job where I actually make money in which to fund these adventures.

It is time to strike while the iron is hot! (And by strike, I mean email my résumé into cyberspace with abandon.)

I have a good number of job postings emailed to me on a regular basis. I’ve been looking at them all with an open mind. First, I ask myself if I’m qualified. (Side rant: OMG, are the only positions being filled for Directors or something really IT heavy or something that requires me to have graduated from law school? Annoying!) Then, I try to determine if it is in a location where I can see myself living, based on a lot of very important factors.

Climate.
Ease of travel to/from home.
Number of friends/family members in the area.
If the city has a NHL/Major League Soccer team.
Transportation.
Nearest Trader Joe’s.
And – obviously! – whether or not I know a blogger from the area.

Watch out, girls and boys. I’m moving in on the next block. It is only a matter of time.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day
Since we're together we might as well say
Would you be mine, could you be mine
Won't you be my neighbor
Won't you please, won't you please
Please won't you be my neighbor.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Oh, puke

Yesterday was soccer Sunday.

For the third game in a row, Colin's BFF was our referee.

It is sort of nice seeing him. Reminds me of old times, you know? We usually exchange a "so, how is life? Everything okay?" before games and it never gets past that. Believe me, I'm not asking about Colin.

...who I haven't seen in well over a year. It's been 18 months, at least.

Anyway.

Colin's BFF is a nice enough kid but he's a little shady. He was always trying to get Colleen to go out with him. And, when she refused him for the 97th time, he started going after Ashley. ...after only seeing her picture on Facebook. He's chubby and awkward and just insecure enough that he can come off as a really, really arrogant prick. He doesn't have a real job. And he chews tobacco (which I find to be disgusting) and has a wonky front tooth because of it. But none of that was ever my problem. He was Colin's friend. Colin's problem. I just saw him at the bar occasionally.

And, now, at my soccer games.

Speaking of soccer games: back to yesterday's.

We're in the first half of the game and my team gets a corner kick. I get the ball. It is hot and humid and we have no subs and I am just dying. "Do you know CPR?" I ask Colin's friend as I walk by him to get the ball. "Because I seriously may die."

"Well, I'm not certified, but I think I can..."

"Good enough." I grab the ball and head back towards the sideline.

"But, you know, it might be awkward giving you CPR. Seeing as how I've made out with your sister."

"EXCUSE ME. WHAT?"

"Uh, I went on a few dates with your sister? You didn't know that?"

"I didn't know that. And I'm going to pretend that I never heard about it, either. Seriously? UGH."

And then I took the corner kick. Which was supposed to be high and lofty and bend in towards the goalie just like David Beckham would've done.

Instead, I just kicked it out of bounds.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Changing it up

Decision made.

I'm going to take the fall off of skating. That will give me four months to decide if I want to keep doing it under these less-than-ideal conditions that are keeping me so stagnant and frustrated.

I am not thrilled to be making this decision. But I can't come up with a reasonable alternative. For too long I've been dragging myself to the rink, half-assing my way through a session and feeling annoyed that I'm not progressing the way that I used to. I'm not getting better because I'm not trying hard enough. I'm not trying hard enough because I'm not getting better.

Time to stop the cycle.

Time for a break.

In the meantime, I am going to run my first half-marathon - and maybe a few shorter races in the weeks leading up to the big event. I'm going to take those few hours I spent skating every Sunday morning and use that time for searching for/applying for jobs.

When December rolls around, I'll reevaluate. See if I missed skating. Determine if it is time to go back home, if you will, to the world of sequins and Salchows.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 1

The Tuesday we left for South Africa was insane. I got up super, super early (after having stayed up super, super late to finish packing) to get to the office with the hopes of finishing up all of the little things I wanted squared away before I left for two weeks.

I somehow managed to finish everything that I wanted to and only left the office a little bit later than I had intended. It felt good to have left work feeling really prepared for two weeks away. I knew that I had done absolutely everything that I could to prepare my coworkers for my absence.

Meg and I met at home. She arrived at approximately the same time that I did – she had gone to class that morning. We rushed through the last bit of last minute stuff (like finding a place in our carry-on luggage for the Mad Men DVDs that we never ended up watching) and we were about as prepared as we could be by the time our airport shuttle – Dad – arrived home.

The airport in Detroit – well, it was the airport. We did all of the song and dance required and settled in at our gate. We took a few nerdy pictures, grabbed some food and boarded the plane to Atlanta.



Things got a little bit complicated in Atlanta due to storms that kept our plane from landing. We didn’t have much time between our flights and, with the delay and the overhead displays indicating that our flight to Johannesburg was still running on time, we ended up jogging from one gate to the next.

Meg made an executive decision upon arriving at the gate that she would haul ass to the food court to buy us burritos and for that I am eternally grateful.

We boarded right on schedule but, due to the storms and the large number of delayed flights, we ended up waiting at the gate for quite some time. Not surprisingly, all of the flights on that route were booked through the World Cup period and the airline wanted to wait to get as many stragglers on our flight as possible. There were definitely people who missed the flight (we met one later on our trip) and had to take some very long, roundabout routes to South Africa. Thankfully we weren’t one of them.

Not much to say about the flight except that it was LONG.

I only wanted to kill Meg once, when I put my head on her shoulder to get some sleep and she got all bitchy about my touching her. After I gave her the window seat. Asshole.

The guy on the other side of me must’ve taken some killer sleeping pills. We estimate that he was asleep for 15 of the 16 hour flight. I’d try to wake him up so that I could go to the bathroom and could never manage to do it. So, I’d suck it up and end up straddling him to get to the aisle. He never woke up when we were in a compromising position and for that I am grateful.



The 16 hours on the plane was spent alternating between the following activities: playing Sudoku on the seat-back screen, watching movies, trying to sleep, obsessively checking the flight map that tracked our progress and eating. It wasn't fun, but it could have been a lot worse.



We arrived in South Africa in the early evening (I think it was around 6:00 pm). Stepping off of the plane, we were immediately greeted by all sorts of fun World Cup advertising.

Photoshoot!



Meg, who was about six weeks post-op from her shoulder surgery, wore her sling on the plane so she'd be more comfortable.



We did the whole customs thing. Got our bags. Made our way to the cell phone store and bought a super cheap pay-as-you-go model to use during our trip. Found our driver. Got our match tickets from the kiosk. Headed for the hotel.

Oh, it was so good to be off of a plane. We dumped our things into our room, spent a couple minutes unpacking before giving up and going off in search of food.

We took a cab (Johannesburg isn't a walking town) to an area with lots of restaurants to choose from. Lots of packed restaurants, I should add. Everyone was out watching the South Africa/Uruguay game.

There was so much energy! South Africa was definitely the sentimental favorite of the early part of the tournament - the locals (obviously) and the vast majority of the foreign tourists loved cheering on the home team.



I was so excited to have a real meal.

And the food? So cheap. I love food. Especially when it is inexpensive and delicious, which it was. ...and was the case for our entire trip, actually.

The only hang up that night was getting back to our hotel. We tried, unsuccessfully, to call for a cab but had trouble getting through (because the South Africa game had just ended, no doubt). Cabs aren't generally just trolling about for customers, so calling is pretty much your only option. This went on for a good half-hour and I was getting a little bit worried about our ability to get back to the hotel. It was dark. We were in a strange city where we were warned, over and over and over again, to be safe. I was tired as hell.

Eventually, we snagged a cab that happened to be dropping someone off. Transportation ended up being an issue for the entire trip: not exactly convenient, not exactly fast or easy, but we always got where we needed to go.

And where we need to go that night was back to our hotel and to our bed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Movie and mom time

I rocked the vote yesterday after work. I was only a few miles from Mom and Dad's, so I stopped at home.

Meg was there, too. She wanted to squeeze in a little bit of time at the lake before spending her night coaching hockey. And she needed to exercise her right to vote, too.

My mom - who had foot surgery last week - declared it too hot to cook and she ordered Chinese food from the restaurant that is conveniently located on Dad's route home. He picked it up. We ate. Meg went to mentor her little hockey girls.

And I took Mom (and the little scooter she uses to get around) to the movies at the art theater a few towns over: The Girl Who Played With Fire. I finished the book on Sunday and I didn't think I could even get through the workweek without seeing the movie. It was pretty awesome. Mom got a coffee and we chilled out in the air conditioning.

(It is so humid here. So, so humid. And my 'rents didn't have the air conditioning on until last night because they're totally nutzo in their belief that, because they live on a lake, they should always have the windows open. Fools!)

On the surface, it was a waste of an evening. I didn't get to the gym. I skipped on soccer. I didn't pay bills. I didn't order the prints of our South Africa photos even though I've been meaning to for weeks. I didn't read and I got to bed too late.

But it was a little bit of perfect.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Gossipy

My not-super-close friend Rivka (I know her through Heather) was at her high school reunion a few weekends ago. When she was there, she ran into a girl she went to high school with. Imagine that. This high school classmate happened to be the same high school classmate of hers who we ran into when we were out on St. Patrick's Day. She was out with Luke and his friends.

This girl - Brittany - knows Luke. And has since college. That night, I got the impression that she was in pretty tight with his group of friends. She seemed to know him (and his brother and his sister-in-law and his best friend) really well.

When I saw Rivka on Saturday, she asked me about Luke straight away. "You're not seeing him anymore, right?"

I laughed. "Definitely not."

"I ask because Brittany was at my reunion..."

"And?"

"And she said 'warn your friend with the curly hair that Luke isn't a good guy. He doesn't treat women very well.'"

Of course, I don't know this girl or her history with Luke or if she's mentally stable or if she's overprotective of her guy friends or if she was just jealous of how stunning and beautiful and charming I am (hahahaha) or if she just likes to cause trouble, but still. Not what I expected to hear (especially since I'd been so sure that he was too good of a guy, too nice, too into me).

Luke isn't in the picture. He hasn't been for almost two months now. But I still can't stop thinking about what that girl said. Is it true? Do I have some sort of a sixth sense that smells out bad guys and pushes me far, far away from them? If I have this sixth sense, why hasn't it warned me about The Athlete? And why, by the way, can't I just quit The Athlete? And what is it about Luke that qualifies him for bad guy status? Would I have liked him more if I hadn't thought he was such a sickingly sweet, nice guy?

None of it means a thing, really, because I made my decision a long time ago.

I maybe I dodged a bullet with that one.

Monday, August 02, 2010

One day weekends and other babbling

OMG, ya’ll. What happened to the weekend?!

Oh, I know! It was only one day long! No wonder it passed me by so quickly!

Probably a very obvious statement: working six days a week really sucks. If I could work those five hours at the end of some other day – or two – I totally would. Five really long days > six slightly shorter days.

I just want two days off in a row!

Okay. Enough with the whining.

Do you guys want to talk about how excited I was about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding? I’m not even kidding. I was watching ABC World News on Friday night and she was featured as the Person of the Week and I was filled with the warmth of a thousand suns and the joy of baby unicorns. I am clearly losing my mind. Or perhaps I am just buoyed by the mere knowledge that Chelsea Clinton, who was once suggested to be my doppelganger when we were both young and awkward and frizzy, is a bride and maybe one day I will be, too. Maybe. I’m not telling.

So, I had a soccer game yesterday and I managed not to humiliate myself. Well, that’s not true. I played so bad that I humiliated myself. But I didn’t slip and fall into a mud puddle while wearing white shorts. Hurray!

I still haven’t ordered prints of my pictures from South Africa. Or blogged about my trip. Or put away that pile of stuff from my suitcase that is still sitting in the middle of my living room. (Horrific.) Or made some sort of epic, hilarious, fun, moving video montage from our trip. What happened to the last five weeks?

And that’s the story from southeastern Michigan, boys and girls. I hope that you all had fantastical weekends. And that you had more than just one day off. That sucks, by the way. Having only one day off. Totally brutal. Did I mention that?
 
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