Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's all okay

Today is just another day. Tonight is just another night.

I won't be with The Coach. It's okay.

* * *

I spent time with him yesterday. I was all set to go to yoga and get my head on straight and find my breath and just be. But if I'm just going to be, I'd rather just be when I am with him. Foolish or not.

And I woke up this morning with a sore hip so it's all the same.

"This is going to be the last time I see you before you go, isn't it?" I murmured into his chest, safely tucked beneath his arm.

No, no. He told me.

He doesn't leave until Tuesday.

In my head, I ticked off the complications. Bowl games, Lions games, hangovers, family time.

And I told him that I didn't believe him.

I think that he'll get busy. And he'll realize that it's easier not to see me one last time. To avoid that formal goodbye.

He won't make the time.

* * *

I won't be with The Coach tonight and it's okay. I'll be with people who love me more than he does. I'll be with friends who know me better than he ever will. I'll kiss Chet's best friend at midnight and maybe that's for the better. Just doing it because that's what you do. No emotion. No expectation.

2011 was the year of The Coach.

I am not banking on that being the case for 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

January

January is nearly here. The Coach is nearly gone. Back to his coaching position, thousands of miles away. Back to the life that I have no part of.

I can't believe that I have to do this again. I can't believe that I have to say goodbye. Again.

I kept avoiding plugging my January work schedule into my calendar. I didn't want anything to do with January. With the end of his trip home. With day after day after day where I won't see him. Where we won't be in the same time zone.

And that first week. I'm already loathing that first week. I already want to spend it in bed, instead of getting up for work every morning and putting on makeup and a smile and generous layers of clothing. I'm always cold when I'm sad.

The inevitable end of The Coach's visit home is making it hard. Hard to be in the moment when I'm already halfway into next week. Hard to want to be around him when he's almost gone. Hard to flip the calendar to January.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not a fashion blogger

On my way home from work last night, I brainstormed about what dress I could wear on New Year's Eve*.

And somehow, on the 10 minute drive between work and home, I mistake myself for a fashion blogger. A fashion blogger who doesn't have a full-length mirror, among other things. Like fashion sense.

What I also am lacking is any shame.

But I do have a self-timer on my camera. What could possibly go wrong?

Hahahahaha.

So here is my attempt at a legitimate picture of the dress. I suppose you get a general idea of the shape.



And here is an unintentional (I swear) badonkadonk shot. Things you can see: zipper detail, the fabric (black wool, with metallic thread thingies) and a lot of ass.



And the front. If you're not too blinded by the white of my legs, check out my bracelet made of Aunt Marie's pearls. It is the only redeeming detail of this photo. (I cannot believe I am putting it on the internet.)



After a dozen pictures of this very, very high quality, I gave up.

What would have made sense: walking downstairs and asking Liz to take two quick pictures.

What I would have had trouble explaining: why I needed pictures of myself in a dress to post on the internet.

So, I did the next best thing. I grabbed my iPhone, marched into the bathroom and took more bad pictures.



Have I mentioned that I'm wearing my hair straight these days?

I had it blown out, actually, so it doesn't look exactly like that on a normal day. But close.



And there is a picture of the back of the dress in which you can see...nothing, really. Except those creme towels (which match the shower curtain) (both of which belong to Liz) that I really don't care for.

Back to the dress.

The point of this post was:
a. to prove what I nerd I really am. (Success? Success.)
b. to assure you all that I will not be morphing this into a fashion blog at any point in the near future
c. to gather your opinions on the dress.

So, the dress: too stuffy for New Year's Eve? (It's not like we're going to a hotel party where everyone else will be in sequins and I'll be in wool. And the length and the sparkles make it okay? Please confirm or deny.) What do I wear on my legs? (Black tights? Nylons? Bare legs that I generously slather in self-tanner for the next few days while hoping for a miracle?) Jewelry? Hair? A magical pop of color somewhere that isn't my legs? (I just can't do colored tights.)

I feel like it is possible to make this dress cute and New Year's Eve appropriate. And I am totally afraid that I'm going to do it wrong and look like I just left the library.


*Yep, I bitch about New Year's Eve and pick out a dress to wear all in the same day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Most Annoying Night of the Year

Oh, New Year’s Eve. What a pain in the ass you are. What high expectations you bring. What a disappointing reality you never fail to become.

Why I never learn, I cannot quite describe. Every year, it is the same. We need to do something. What should we do? How special should it be? Does it require a new dress? A manicure? My flat iron, an hour in front of the mirror and a miracle?

Last year, Lucy and I were on the ball. I researched locations, restaurants, bars within close proximity of restaurants. We made a reservation. We were all set. And then one of the couples who were going out with us suddenly decided that they were no longer interested in going out where we had decided to go out. And for some reason unbeknownst to me, Lucy and I were considerate enough to completely redo our entire plans to accommodate their bullshit.

So, obviously this same couple is coming out with us again this year and obviously planning the night has fallen on me and Lucy and we haven’t done anything yet and it’s going to be a miracle if we can get a reservation for a largeish party so late in the game; we’ll probably end up at Taco Bell for dinner. Or maybe I’ll pull off a miracle and get us a reservation and then the Picky Twins won’t want to go there anyway.

I’m already annoyed.

I’d just rather go somewhere with The Coach.

Ideally, dinner with me, Lucy, The Coach and Chet. And then Lucy and Chet can go home (I cannot expect Lucy in her very, very pregnant state to stay out very late) and The Coach and I can go somewhere and do something or not go anywhere and not do anything.

That is a complete pipe dream.

I won’t be seeing The Coach on New Year’s Eve. I mean, it’s just not realistic. I don’t know his friends. His friends (I suspect) don’t know about me. He doesn’t know my friends. And he’s going to want to celebrate with his. I am 97% certain that I will be unable to convince him to do dinner with me and my friends – so that I can at least see him at some point that evening – and I think I just have to be cool with that. Will I invite him along anyway? I will. It doesn’t hurt to ask even though I will be disappointed.

That’s what New Year’s Eve is all about, anyway. Disappointment. Disappointment and overpriced drinks.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The bigger picture

I remember what I was wearing.

I remember where I was standing.

One year ago tonight, The Coach sent me a text message.

One year later, we're here.

* * *

I haven't seen The Coach in the last handful of days and it's frustrating because I want to spend every second of every day with him while he's still here.

But that's just not how it is and I am trying - trying so damn hard - to look at the bigger picture. I haven't seen him because he has been with his family. Because he adores his family. Because he cherishes spending the holiday season with his family.

How could I possibly dog him for spending time with his family?

It is one of the many things that makes him so awesome. I wish I had a picture of his face when he talks about Christmas with his family. I wish I could bottle up his enthusiasm for my Christmas sugar cookies.

Despite not seeing him over the course of the holiday weekend, I heard from him. I heard from him at all the right times -- while he was watching his beloved Lions play on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning. Just before he (and I) collapsed into bed after a long day of Christmas celebrations with our respective families. He was thinking about me. Letting me know that he was thinking about me. I'll take it.

* * *

I haven't bothered him about New Years Eve yet.

I just need to put it out there.

He doesn't do subtle. Every step forward we've made in the last week has been a result of me putting aside my natural inclinations to be sweet and agreeable and undemanding and nonconfrontational. It's been a result of me voicing what I want.

And what I want is to see him on New Years Eve.

And also to find out the great mystery of last week.

And also for my heart to not be absolutely broken when he leaves again. (I cried in my car today, just thinking about how hard it is going to be when he goes.)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First gift...

...best gift?

I don't know how another Christmas present is going to top this.



Meg and I opened these matching bracelets yesterday -- a super, secret gift from Anna and Emma's dad.

(He didn't wannt to give them to us at Christmas, in front of our other cousins.)

He took Aunt Marie's pearls and had the necklace restrung into three bracelets: one for me, one for Meg and one for Emma. Anna has the orignal bracelet from the set.

I can't remember receiving a gift that made me cry. Until this one, of course. Happy tears and sad tears. Such a sweet, sweet gesture.

I love that it matches my sister and I love that it matches my couins-who-are-basically-my-sisters. I love that I will be able to carry a little of Aunt Marie around with me.

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow - whether it is spent celebrating Christmas or not. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful group of people who read this silly little blog. You're all a pretty sweet gift, too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: the rest of 2011

Slacker!

Not in the kitchen, actually.

Just the blogging.

Well, the blogging and the picture taking. You'll see.

First off, I would like to make an announcement: yesterday, I made doughnuts.

Lucy wanted doughnuts for her and Chet's Hanukkah party. She was all "well, I will find a recipe tonight, I guess, and make them when I get home from work. If you could just borrow your aunt's deep fryer..."

Oh hell no, Lucy. You are 412 weeks pregnant, working all day and having people to your house. There's no way in hell I was letting her make the doughnuts.

"How about I make the doughnuts? I mean, unless you're really attached to the idea of making them. I don't work on Thursday and, really, I wouldn't mind at all."

She acquiesced. As I knew that she would.

And then I had to figure out how to make doughnuts. Featuring hot oil (which scares the shit out of me) and yeast and rising and temperatures and other chemistry-like components (which also scares the shit out of me).

But, look! Look what I did, you guys!



Half of them I glazed, half of them I sprinkled with lavender vanilla sugar.

They tasted really good.

The recipe was from The Pioneer Woman.

And then there were the sugar cookies from last week:



So good.

Even though they weren't my mom's recipe and, yes, I still feel guilty for cheating on my mom's recipe.

Here is the recipe if you'd like to cheat on your mom's sugar cookie recipe, too.

Before I moved, I made this Tortellini Spinach Bake from a recipe I found on Pinterest.



Loved it. I find tortellini to be a delightful food. (Pasta. Cheese. You can't go wrong.) But I get bored with eating my tortellini with just marinara sauce, so this was a lovely alternative.

And that's the end of the food pictures I took. Three pictures in three months. I know you're impressed.

I did, however, continue to cook on a pretty regular basis and that's fancy enough of me that I'll share a bit of what I made.

Pantry Pasta for Two from The Pioneer Woman which was so easy and so yummy and so perfect for a cold weeknight in November.

Sugared Pecans in the crockpot, from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Seriously tasty, satisfying my sweet tooth and giving me a jolt of protein -- a critical component to my snacking habits.

Baked Pears with Raspberry Sauce for dessert at Lucy's house a few weeks ago. I'm usually not a big fan of pears, but she specifically asked me to bring fruit for dessert and I couldn't bring myself to chop up a pineapple and call it a day.

I made a few adjustments to this recipe - margarine instead of butter, leaving the cream out of the raspberry sauce - because we had meat with dinner and her husband keeps kinda-sorta kosher. But the chances made do difference. Well, I don't think that they did. I haven't made it any other way. But it still tasted good to me. The girl who doesn't like pears.

And then there was baked pumpkin pie oatmeal. Also found via Pinterest, also delicious. I made this recipe at least four times this fall. I love and adore oatmeal. I love and adore pumpkin. Such a magical, magical breakfast treat. Best straight out of the oven, but it reheats fairly well (I toss it in the microwave and pour a bit of milk on the top once it's been warmed up), too.

That is it, friends. Kitchen time was had but the reports are lacking.

Always room for improvement.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yesterday's Mystery

The Great Mystery of Wednesday is now The Great Mystery of Thursday and Beyond.

Saw him after work last night.

Had such a lovely time that I completely forgot to ask about the question he randomly texted me.

Was too busy in the moment. Too busy to be nosey about that afternoon's text messages. Too busy to fuss over every insecurity I have been marinating in for the last week.

Not so busy that I failed to observe his behavior. More tender. More spontaneous. More of that person that we all let out when we're really comfortable. Fearless -quirks and faults and opinions.

I am almost afraid that I am seeing exactly what I want to see. I hate to get my hopes up. It seems that he genuinely heard that sliver of conversation that I initiated. That something made sense. That something rang true. That we knocked down a wall.

Or two.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All over a pair of sweats

Meg is hard to shop for in the sense that, far more often than not, the minute that she decides that she wants something – be it flashcards for her licensure exam or a new pair of heels – she buys it.

There is not a person in this world who I know better than I know Meg, so shopping for her is still fairly easy. All I have to do is come up with something that she’ll like and want before she knows that she likes and wants it.

On her last birthday, for example, I had a thought that went something like this: she likes soccer, she plays soccer, her soccer cleats are at least 4 years old, she likes Puma, she thoroughly enjoys bright and unexpected color combinations (especially on her shoes). And then I bought her a pair of teal and hot pink Puma cleats. And she thought they were fabulous.

My brainstorming for this Christmas went something like this: she likes sweats, she wears sweats to school, she is going into a profession in which sweats are acceptable, she likes hockey, she plays hockey, she coaches hockey. And then I went online and bought her the perfect pair of sweats from a hockey company. They cost way more than I would ever want to pay for a pair of sweats, but they were absolutely perfect for Meg. They even use skate laces as the ties. Love them.

Loved them.

Loved the idea of them, anyway, because I never received them.

Because yesterday, 10 days after placing the order, I get an email saying “oh, sorry. We’re actually out of stock?”

10 days? What? It took your company 10 days to get someone to look at your inventory and determine that, actually, there aren’t any mediums left.

I was so angry.

Because, at this point, Meg’s lengthy Christmas list has been stripped bare and I really didn’t want to go to the nearest sporting goods store and buy her a generic, lame and also somewhat overpriced pair of Under Armour sweats – which she would love, yes, but is completely lacking in originality.

And, as I have been a touch sensitive (read: batshit crazy) these last few weeks, I was a total mess. Completely without even the slightest decent idea. Too nervous to trust another online retailer. Makeup. Shoes. A fabulous dress that she doesn’t need but would really like. So many possibilities and I hated every single one of them.

In order to solve the problem, I pouted the rest of the afternoon. And then I called and ranted to my mom. And then I bitched to Lucy, who I had called for an entirely different reason.

And then I sucked it up, took a risk and went to the running store. Where I found what I believe is an acceptable alternative.

Then I picked up the last of my cousin Danielle’s gift, a few stocking stuffers for Mom and a package of hair ties.

And by the time I got home the world didn’t seem so bad.

What holiday stress?

I even turned on the Christmas tree.

Jumping to conclusions

Nothing like a random exchange of text messages to make a girl very suspicious and nervous and weird and worried.

Him: Do you have a friend who lives (where The Coach coaches)?

Me: A friend from college.

Me: Are you just taking a poll?

Him: I don’t know. I’ll call you later.

Me: Ooooooookay.

Him: Hahahaha. No big deal.

Me: Fantastic.


Conclusions immediately jumped to as a result of 34 words exchanged over 2 minutes:
1. OMG SOMEONE TOLD HIM ABOUT MY BLOG*
2. OMG SOMETHING HORRIBLE HAPPENED
3. OMG SOMETHING HORRIBLE HAPPENED AND HE NEEDS HELP AND I AM NOT COMFORTABLE ASKING MY COLLEGE FRIEND TO DO IT BECAUSE, EVEN THOUGH WE PRODUCED SEVERAL AMAZING PROJECTS TOGETHER, WE ARE NOT THAT CLOSE
4. OMG HE WANTS ME TO SET HIM UP ON A DATE FOR SOMETHING
5. OMG IT COULD BE ANYTHING AND HE’S MAKING ME WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!

Who has a guess? Is it good? Is it bad? It is nothing?

*I assume/freak out about this regularly, with him and everyone else in my life. Start a conversation with “hey, I wanted to ask you about something” and I immediately mentally jump ahead in the conversation to “I found your blog on the vast interwebs.”

It’s going to happen eventually. (Maybe it already did.) Everything here is true and genuine and me. I might not be advertising it, I’m not embarrassed by it, either.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And it's hard to dance with the devil on your back

I danced it out.

I was nearly ready for work. I was in the kitchen, making a very, very late breakfast of oatmeal while packing up a lunch to drag along to the office.

Feeling more than a little sick about how fast and unceremoniously things had fallen apart with The Coach, there wasn't a crumb of food in the house that looked appealing.

The television was on; I needed the company of the background noise.

And I needed - although I didn't know it at the time - some Florence + the Machine in my life.

Which is what I got. Florence + the Machine performing "Shake It Out" on The View.

I danced in the kitchen. I shook it out. I danced it out. I brushed away the tears as they dropped on my cheeks.

I ruined my makeup. My sore back screamed at me. The builders working across the street owe me several dollars in tips. But at the end of that song, I could breathe. I had air in my lungs.

I was alive. And I felt alive. Drama with The Coach had buried me, again. The Coach consumes me. When his actions make me feel sad, I become the personification of sad. But I danced out of it. I wrung out my heart.

I danced.

I let it go.

In the evening, I initiated the start of a hard conversation. A conversation that we needed to have. A conversation that is not complete.

He responded appropriately to the beginnings of that long overdue talk. It could get better. It could stay bad.

Whatever happens won't consume me. Not this time. Not anymore.

I'll shake it off. I'll dance it off.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thinking, Deciding

There are many, many good things that come from maintaining a blog for 7+ years.

The blogging benefit that I practice the most frequently is using my blog as my auxiliary memory. "When did I run that race?" Search the archives. "How long ago did I get in that huge fight with April?" Archives.

But the best thing about having this blog - and having it for so many years - is that I have somehow managed to get a lot of really great, really smart, really sweet, really honest, really genuine, really, really, really awesome people on Team Alyson.

Thank you all for your comments and your good thoughts and your emails and your honest opinions. Thanks for thinking of me. Thanks for caring.

This weekend with The Coach was as bad as it was at the end of last week. I am disoriented and I am frustrated and I am hurt. I have to do something - and that something may be a swift parting of the ways - because I can't keep this up. I cannot continue to feel this way. I'm exhausted. I don't want this hanging over my head at Christmas. I want to enjoy the holiday. I want this to be over. I want it not to hurt. I've made no decisions. I've formulated no plans. I'm tired and sad and maybe a little bit pathetic. I'm undecided on a plan of action and decided that there must be one. I'm sick of crying in my car. I'm done with hanging on to threads.

Something is going to change.

Something is going to change very soon.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Not possible, not realistic

I am such a jackass.

What fantasy world was I living in when I was dreaming up what it would be like during The Coach’s visit? And why didn’t I get struck down by lightning for entertaining such stupidity? I am dumb.

This is not easy. I thought that it would be easy. I thought that this visit would be nothing but rainbows and unicorns and cotton candy. I was wrong.

I should have realized that upon The Coach’s arrival that I would immediately begin counting down to his departure. I should have known that every hour would feel critical. That every evening would mark the end of another day. That spending as much time as I wanted to spend with The Coach – enough time to make the last four months seem palatable in hindsight – was virtually impossible.

I have a job that I need to go to. He has work that needs to be done while he’s here. He has other commitments. I have other commitments. My house is 40 minutes away from where he’s staying. And we only have three weeks. And I want to spend every second of those three weeks with him. But it isn’t possible. It isn’t realistic.

I’m not his girlfriend. I’m not tagging along to his family outing to see The Christmas Carol. I’m not going to the bar to sit at his side and drink with a bunch of dudes he went to high school with. I am not his girlfriend. And as much as I want to drag him to the Hanukkah party I’m attending next week or to this weekend’s cookie baking extravaganza, that’s not what you do. That isn’t how it works. I’m not going to trick him into a relationship.

And please don’t get me started on New Year's Eve. Which is always a disappointment. But I would like to be disappointed with him. I would like to make out with him at midnight. I would like to include him in my (yet to be determined) plans. I would like him to include me in his (currently unknown) plans. But that’s an awkward dance. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Are we? Aren’t we?

I hate asking. Even if it is only in my head, I hate asking. I hate feeling needy and clingy. I hate reminding myself that not asking is guaranteeing that the answer is no. I hate leaving my comfort zone. I hate stirring up the courage. I hate the vulnerability. I hate knowing that it’s the only way.

Nothing is going to change in three weeks. He will leave and we will have the same blurry status that we had when he left in August. I’m really going to miss you and I’m making no promises. Because distance makes it hard to promise. If I’m being honest, I don’t think he likes me enough to even give it a try. So be it. It’s okay. It sucks, but it is okay. It’s real life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Asking, Getting

I am absolutely horrible at asking for what I want.

I am equally bad at going after what I want.

Such glaring personality traits, now that The Coach is home. When my heart is like “OMG, come over come over please please please come over and stay for a while and then come back over tomorrow and I want to bake you many cookies to show my affection” and my head is like “girl, you will sit here quietly until he is ready to see you because you know you’ll hear from him the minute he wants to see you and you will NOT go begging for his attention.”

I do not know how to find the balance between my head and my heart. So my head wins. Because it’s safer that way, you know? Even though I’m pretty sure nobody ever gained all that much by regularly refusing to put themselves out there for fear of pain and rejection. This ship likes the safety of the harbor. It’s comfortable here. And I'm so good at being lame.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sharing and Sugar Cookies

Whenever my friends who are fabulous and have moved far, far away from home come back for a visit, I'm always sympathetic to their crazy busy schedules. "Um, maybe we can meet for a super quick coffee after I'm done shopping with my mom and just before I go to my brother's surprise birthday party?"

I get it. You're only home for so long. Everyone wants to see you. I totally get it.

But I sort of forgot to take that into account when I was envisioning The Coach's three weeks at home. And never did I think for a second that he would have work to do, too. He does. He spent today recruiting.

And I spent my day -- oh, what the hell didn't I do? I might not have worked the last two days, but I wasn't just sitting around. Because, as you all know, it is physically impossible for me to sit down.

Today it was yoga. Christmas shopping. Some very serious experimentation with my freshly cut hair. The baking of a stupid huge quantity of sugar cookies for Saturday night's cookie decorating fiesta. (Which - without any further dicussion between us - Liz invited Emma to, saving me from drama/guilt/grief that I really, really didn't feel like dealing with.) In Liz's charming kitchen that has very poor lighting. (Truth: I feel like my mother when I bitch about a dim room.)

On the subject of sugar cookies: I used a recipe from Pinterest instead of using my mom's sugar cookie recipe and I feel SO GUILTY.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guess who's back, back again

It was what I expected. It was what I needed.

Except a little bit better than what I expected. And a little more than what I needed.

The Coach is home. For three weeks, he'll be here.

I don't feel like my heart is going to explode.

It isn't like my world has just started to turn again - it was revolving quite nicely when he was gone.

But he's here; I feel content. Quietly happy. Not overjoyed. Not as though a light was just turned on in a dim room. Just happy. Happy he's here. Happy for the next three weeks.

One day at a time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Frustrating

Emma is exhausting. I will be the first to admit that. She is loud, she's prone to being mean and harsh, she says the first thing that comes to her head no matter how offensive it is.

It's exhausting.

But I have come to expect it from her. And her mean words and her loud voice don't cut at me like they probably should. "Emma being Emma" is what I repeat to myself, regularly, when we're together. When her mean words catch me.

But Emma is my cousin and more like my sister. She may be in college, but my mother is still raising her. And she has been for quite some time.

Liz wants to have a cookie baking party this weekend. She and Meg came up with the idea. I rolled with it, offering to pre-bake our sugar cookies, inviting Lucy.

"That's the party Emma's going to?" My mom asked me this afternoon. Liz had asked Emma to teach her how to bake some of Aunt Marie's cookies a few weeks ago.

But I knew that Liz wasn't planning on inviting Emma.

And sort of said to my mom that Emma wasn't invited to this cookie party and my mom was wondering why because obviously Liz wanted to know how to bake those cookies (otherwise she wouldn't have asked) and I just played so dumb.

When I get home, I mention the whole thing to Liz and she's like "um, no" about Emma coming over. And then she's like "well, she can come but I have no problem telling her to leave my house if she gets drunk and obnoxious." Translation: I don't want her to come.

And Liz knows what Emma has been through. And, fuck, I thought she realized that Emma was essentially my sister and there are times when my mom calls and says "Emma's here" and I go over there. Because that's what I need to do. I need to be there for Emma.

And I'm sorry if she's annoying and I'm sorry if she's exhausting but she is sort of part of the package. She comes along with me and Meg. Even if sometimes we don't want her to.

It's not a big deal. It shouldn't be a big deal. But my feelings are hurt because I know that Emma's feelings would be hurt. And I don't want to turn this into an argument with Liz and, oh, it's just petty nonsense.

But somehow it cut me pretty deep.

I guess it's just because I know that, in this situation, I cannot win.

Friday, December 09, 2011

What is going on here?

Weird week.

Quiet week. Busy week. Not an absurdly bad week. Not a remarkably outstanding week. Just a week.

The last quiet one before the holidays, I suspect.

I had hockey games on Tuesday and Thursday night, which decimated the only two evenings that I didn't spend at work. The two mornings I didn't work, Monday and Wednesday, were spent running seven miles and going to the dentist.

I was up until 2:30 am last night, giggling with Liz and her friend Denise. It was casual, unassuming girl time. That's what I'm going to like about living in that house. Stupidity, sweatpants and a cup of hot tea.

I'm not working today (hurray!) and so I took a new yoga class (100% chance that I'm 100% sore tomorrow) and ordered some gifts online (finally) and I'm getting my hair cut in a few hours. In the meantime, I'm scanning pictures like a fool for the photo book I'm putting together for my grandma's Christmas present.


I found this picture of me and Meg and I fell in love with it.

Because it seems to me that the photo was snapped just as I came up with a really, really great idea of something that I could talk Meg into doing. "Meg! Take off your diaper and streak naked through the house!"

I've been doing that our whole lives. Treating Meg as my personal clown. I think of the funny things for her to do, then I talk her into doing them.

I bitch about having to do all of the work for these photo books that we put together for Grandma - scanning, layout, sending email after email to my cousins begging that they email me one bloody picture - but it's actually great fun. I get such a huge kick out of the pictures: we're all so little and cute and we can drive cars and get married but nothing has changed all that much. Meg is still the clown. I am still pensive. Emma is still loud. Anna is still worrisome. Mara is still careful. Evan is still the token boy.

And I'm still the sucker who puts together a whole photo book for Grandma, wraps it and signs the card from all of us.

Like I said: not a remarkable week. Quiet. Weird in its quietness.

I don't have quiet weeks like this.

That's usually why I have something to blog about.

This week: you get nonsense. Nonsense and a picture of me at age 5.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Living with Liz

We’re just a couple of weeks in, but living with Liz has been joyfully easy. Mostly because we’re rarely at home at the same time.

She works over an hour away – so she’s out of the house by the time that I’m up every morning. (Or she’s supposed to be, anyway. No matter how late she’s running, she’s gone by the time I’m out of the shower.) And because Liz works over an hour away, and oftentimes puts in long hours at the office, on the evenings that I am home, she typically doesn’t arrive until after dinnertime.

On the days that I leave work at a normal hour, I go home and take the dog out and fix myself supper. I change and go to the gym or go about whatever it is that I need to go about (last night it was making playlists in iTunes before leaving for an annoyingly late hockey game).

On days that I work late, by the time I get home she’s usually lounging around with the dog and sometimes her sister and sometimes a friend. I plop down on the couch next to her (and the dog and maybe a guest) for a few minutes of Real Housewives of Wherever while I eat dinner. Having not been bit by the Real Housewives bug, I usually abandon the show for a book/my laptop/my phone/a shower shortly after I’m finished with dinner.

Last night – when I left work at 5:00 and had a hockey game at 9:00 – I saw Liz for 20 minutes.

Tonight – when I’ll get home around 9:30 – I’ll see Liz for an hour or so.

In terms of living with someone who isn't your life partner, it's sort of the ideal situation. Not too much time together. Assures the dog gets let out on a regular basis. Both of our cars fit in the garage.

And I'm living in a brand new house and not paying the mortgage.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Haunted

Other than posting a list of what I’ve read at the end of a year, I don’t normally use my blog to share what I’m reading.

But since starting The New York Times series Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer on Sunday morning, I have been haunted by it. I have had nightmares. I have to share it because I haven’t been able to shake it.


John Branch of The New York Times examined the life and the death of Derek Boogaard – an NHL player who made a name for himself as one of hockey’s greatest fighters. He died this spring, at the age of 28, of an overdose.

The story is tragic and the reporting is phenomenal. So much of it hits close to home for me – the concussions, the sport that is such a part of my life and the lives of so many I love.

If you have time, read it. Or watch the corresponding videos. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the series. Just a human.

Derek Boogaard: A Boy Learns to Brawl
By John Branch | The New York Times | December 3, 2011

Derek Boogaard: Blood on the Ice
By John Branch | The New York Times | December 4, 2011

Derek Boogaard: A Brain ‘Going Bad’
By John Branch | The New York Times | December 5, 2011

A lot like Christmas

If I absolutely have to work today.

(And I absolutely have to work today.)

(But not next Monday or Tuesday! Wheeee!)

I suppose I can handle working from a desk with has a view like this.



As long as I don't have to deal with any crazies.

I'm in the mood for Christmas. Not for crazies.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Reminder: caring is not permitted

The Coach will be home soon; I am busy reminding myself not to care.

He’ll be here for three weeks and it will fuck with my head. I will do best if I maintain low expectations.

If I find myself craving more than he can give, I end up like I was a few weeks ago. Furious. Devastated. Disappointed.

I’m not going to do that again.

And because I would rather have him in my life than not, it will be this way for now. With the awareness that this will not always be enough. But is incapable of developing into more. This is the final product. What you see is what you get.

Haven’t I always said that this has an expiration date?

It’s been a few months. And a few thousand miles.

Nothing has changed.

(Even though I convinced myself differently for a while.)

Friday, December 02, 2011

I shouldn’t write about work, yet I do

I left work yesterday and nearly hit a homeless man who was riding his bike – swerving from the shoulder into the lane of traffic – alongside the road.
"What the hell, Bart?!" I shook my fist at the bicyclist. "Be careful!"
And, in that moment, I knew that I had become a true ‘brarian. I knew the name of the homeless man who I had nearly hit with my car.

...

My coworkers and I are all assigned different subject areas that are our responsibility. The subject areas are switched up once per year and this week we received our new assignments. Previously, I purchased computer/technology, religion, health, literary criticism, history, travel, fiction and classical CDs. Now I’m buying philosophy, language, cookbooks, sports, mysteries and the popular CDs. Yes, I will now spend my days selecting Taylor Swift’s newest release and the latest and greatest Mario Batali titles to be added to the ‘brary’s collection. It sounds cooler than it is.

...

I hate myself for wondering if I want to do this for the rest of my life. The environment that I am in, the coworkers that I have, my supervisor, my responsibilities, my expectations: it is all absolutely fine. I just, oh, I guess it’s just like everything in my life. I’m unsure.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December!

Oh, December. How I have missed you.

Or, more accurately, how I have missed it being any month but the sucktastic month that was November.

I was very ready to turn the page on my calendar this morning. Itching to turn the page on my calendar. Relieved to finally turn that page. To put November behind me and start fresh.

This month is going to be better.

This month is going to be so much better.

This month will be busy. Just how I like it. Busy with soccer games (3) and hockey games (3). With work parties. With a yet-to-be-determined New Years Eve and shopping trips to find the perfect outfit to wear to my yet-to-be-determined New Years Eve. With spending time with my Lucy, who will be in her last full month of pregnancy and taking it easy per her doctor’s orders. With my incessant bitching about my lack of skill in present buying. Followed shortly thereafter by incessant bitching about my lack of skill in present wrapping.

This month will be busy with cookies. Many cookies. The baking of cookies. The decorating of cookies. The hosting of parties in which we bake and decorate cookies. The consumption of cookies for breakfast.

The Coach will be home for half of this month.

The first half of this month will be busy with refusing to let myself get too excited about the second half of this month. (Which is when The Coach will be home, obviously.) (Low expectations!)

I am going to teach myself how to make a mean hot toddy this month. Or some other drink that will make me warm and also drunk.

This month is going to be great.

This month is going to be spectacular.

This month will be a warm-up for 2012, which will be even more great and even more spectacular.

This month is only the beginning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This again

Lucy has been ordered by her doctor to take it easy. Not-on-bed-rest-but-almost-so-watch-yourself easy and I have been a bad, bad friend have haven’t been over to the house to sit on her couch and keep her company.

In my defense, I have been somewhat occupied with relocating and celebrating Thanksgiving. And she totally understands. (But I still feel AWFUL.) (We have plans for Saturday evening.)

I called to check up on my Lucy last night on my way to the gym. I gave her the quick rundown on anything that is everything: work, The Coach, my opinion on the weather and my holiday plans. And then I slipped in something about one of Colin’s friends – who we both thought was the biggest tool in the world – recently getting engaged. I was about to drop the “how can he find someone to marry if I can’t?” line when she butted in with “so, speaking of engagements.”

Colleen.

I saw Colleen at Lucy’s baby shower. I was busy but I was pleasant to her. I thought that she’d email me after the shower, saying something about how it was nice and how it was good to see me, but she didn’t and, oh, I don’t know why I ever expect that she’s going to act any way other than selfishly.

I just can’t quite give up on her. And I just set myself up for disappointment. Over and over and over.

So, Colleen calls Lucy and brings up her wedding*and how she just “can’t imagine” a wedding without me standing up in it.

Which is particularly interesting to me because:
a. she hasn’t called to ask me to be in the wedding
b. we’re not really friends anymore and we haven’t been for quite a long time
c. I’m not even sure they’re actually engaged**

Lucy said that she wanted to warn me that a phone call from Colleen was coming. But I think she was trying to soften me up a little bit, too. I heaved a heavy sigh as she wrapped up the story and Lucy said “Colleen does care about you.” And I know that. I know that her mental illness limits the ways in which she can be a friend, especially a friend in the way that I am a friend (and expect the same high standard of friendship in return).

I will be in that wedding if Colleen wants me to be in that wedding.

I will be in that wedding for the friend Colleen was three years ago. Not for the Colleen of today. I will be in that wedding for Lucy, because I will always stand by her side even if it requires me to wear a bridesmaid dress. I will be in that damn wedding because I believe that mental illness is a horrible thing and I know that part of the reason Colleen cannot be my friend is because of the mental illness. I will be in that wedding even though I believe that her mental illness is a small fraction of the reason Colleen has been a shitty friend.

I will be in that damn wedding if Colleen asks me to be in it.

But, to be perfectly honest: I doubt that she’ll have the balls to pick up the phone.


*supposedly they’ve set a date for sometime next June

**there was definitely no real proposal or no real ring – not to say that it doesn’t mean that they’re not planning on getting married, but sometimes she’s a little delusional and has a hard time distinguishing between what is happening in real life and what is happening in her head***

***for example, after Lucy’s baby shower, she was convinced that she was pregnant (she also imagined the symptoms of pregnancy immediately after Lucy herself got pregnant)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Freak Me Out 102

Passed Freak Me Out 101? Sign up for Freak Me Out 102!

Ask me if I am bipolar.

As if it is:
a. your business
b. not a deeply personal question
c. appropriate to ask a virtual stranger
d. the reason that I refuse to interact with you

Creepy old men. Seriously. "That fine young thing isn't interested in me so clearly she has a MENTAL ILLNESS."

Knowing where I'm going

I find adulthood to be overwhelming. I find it frustrating and confusing.

I am not good at being an adult.

That’s what I tell myself, anyway. That being an adult has not been easy for me and therefore will not be easy for me. Ever.

I tell myself that it will always be like this. That this is just how it is. That my whole life will be this whirlwind of decisions to make and mistakes to fix and tears to cry.

That any belief that the pieces will eventually fall into place – that there will be a time where I feel content and settled – is foolish. That I will always struggle. That I’ll always look at the lives of others – Lucy, who is so effortlessly happy, Liz, who knows what she wants and wrestles it into her clutches, Meg, who dreams big and achieves bigger – with a touch of envy.

I expect that I will always feel as unsettled as I do now. That I’ll always have this uncertainty – in my relationships, in my career, in my finances, in my future, in myself.

It’s a little sad, isn’t it? Pathetic, perhaps. Honest, however. At least I’m being honest.

And while I am being honest, I will admit this: I want to prove myself wrong.

I want to look around one day and observe a life that, while being far from perfect, feels like my own. Not like another transition. Not like a fight that I must win. Not a stage that must be tolerated.

I want to stop looking at the map long enough to pick up my head and appreciate the view.

I want to be content, not flawless.

I want to prove myself wrong.

I want to know where to start.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I try hard (and other randomness)

I've been at Liz's house for a week now. All is well.

It was a hellacious time to be moving. I was overwhelmed by the move itself, coupled with the oh-so-slightly (read: enormously) overblown incident with The Coach, the holiday, coming right off of hosting Lucy's shower -- I'm still a little surprised that I only battled back constant tears and never had a full, hideous, sobbing meltdown.

It was just a constant Suckfest for a few days there, but I got through it. And now I'm past all of the unpleasantries of moving.

Mostly.

Okay, there are still a few boxes in my car.

Okay, it's not even my car, it's my mom's car. My car is still at the body shop from the accident I got in earlier this month.

(November's been a doozy, right?)

Quickest and Most Pointless Recap Ever:
  • Saturday - move

  • Sunday - work and soccer

  • Monday - work (late)

  • Tuesday - work and run 6 miles and socialize with Liz's family

  • Wednesday - work and Pie Night

  • Thursday - run 10k and Thanksgiving

  • Friday - eat my weight in leftovers, run 6 miles at the gym, meet Aviva for coffee, have dinner with Anna and Emma and Meg, go dancing with Anna and Emma and Meg

  • Saturday - work, arrive at home just in time to help Liz put the finishing touches on the cocktail party that she was hosting, socialize at cocktail party, help clean up after cocktail party ends at 2:30 am

  • Today - get up too early (8:00 am), finish the book I was reading, miss noon yoga class because one of Liz's friends has me blocked in the driveway and doesn't get over to move her car until too late, hang out with Meg and Mom, make a Trader Joe's trip, eat soup and watch a bit of TV with Liz


  • I'm looking for a quiet few weeks before getting completely entangled in the holidays. I just want to establish my routine here - get my feet under me - before I start spending every night I'm not at work pacing the mall in search of The Best Gift Ever.

    Which will obviously happen because I have no idea what I'm buying or who I'm buying for or how I am going to pay for any of it.

    And because I'm the worst shopper ever.

    I have not stepped inside the mall, Target or any other fine retail establishment since well before Thanksgiving. I have exactly one Christmas gift purchased - something for my mother - which I did buy on Black Friday. From an Etsy seller. While wearing my pajamas.

    So, the Christmas plan is to mostly not have a Christmas plan because I'd rather have a Real Life plan for a few weeks.

    And then we're halfway through December and The Coach will be home for the holidays, I won't budget enough time for the shipping of online-purchased gifts, I'll get some great idea for a cookie exchange or other time-intensive holiday event that I won't be able to resist, I will wrestle with the idea of buying Christmas gifts for my coworkers, I'll have to stay up all night putting together the photo book and calendar that the grandkids like to get Grandma but I always do all of the work for, Liz will host a Christmas party, I'll fight the desire to bake 88 types of Christmas cookies, I won't know what to buy for my dad (I never do) and I will bitch and moan and whine about how bad I am at the holiday season.

    And that is the damn truth.

    I am bad at Christmas.

    But I try hard.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Pie Night was a rousing success.



    I might have even worn a tutu during a portion of the night. And teetered on the edge of the tub to get a photo of it.



    I'm pretty sure I set a new 10k personal record, too.



    Plus my cousin, Mara, texted me this photo of her little turkey.



    It was a pretty good day.

    And I hope that yours was, too.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Puttin' on my pie pants

    Today is my favorite day.

    Of the whole year, it is my favorite day.

    Today is a day for tonight. Today is the day that I spend counting down to tonight.

    Tonight is for yoga pants and coffee with Amarula. For 10 hour pop music playlists. For the Flip cam and the DSLR. Tonight is the night we make inside jokes and write on the Facebook walls of our accomplices (while they’re sitting in the same room). Tonight we cover every inch of my mother’s kitchen in flour.

    Tonight is pie night.

    Tonight is my favorite night of the year.

    If you’ve been reading So Midwestern for a while, you know all about Pie Night. If you haven’t, let me sum up what the night before Thanksgiving is all about: pies. My mom, my sister, me and all of my female cousins. We bake pies. An unnecessarily large number of them, as Mom insists that we bake a pie for every two people who will be at Thanksgiving dinner.

    Also because – I suspect – she doesn’t want the night to pass by too quickly.

    Pie Night is a special night. It makes absolutely no sense – cramming 10 females into a single kitchen, singing Britney Spears and drinking wine while somehow managing to follow the recipes, trashing my mom’s kitchen before she hosts Thanksgiving dinner. It is a tradition that is nonsensical, but it is lasting. We had Pie Night four days after Aunt Marie’s funeral. We had Pie Night when Danielle’s bipolar disorder was crazy scary rampant. We have Pie Night because that’s what we do.

    We’re wild and we’re silly and we’re casual. It’s tradition that doesn’t require planning other than much anticipation (there is significant Facebook fodder preceding this event) and a trip to the grocery store. There is no hanging of decorations or special protocol or mandatory attendance. It’s just...well, it’s Pie Night. The best night of the year.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Confession

    Guess what I did last night? Last night, which was my very first night as a tenant at Liz’s lovely house in her lovely, well-manicured neighborhood? I hit a parked car.

    NO, I REALLY DID.

    November sure has been kind to me.

    I dropped by the house after work to pick up my soccer bag. I chatted with Liz and her friend, who were smoking on the front porch (sick) and then I hopped into my car – which is really my mom’s car, as mine is still at the body shop – backed out of the driveway and CRUNCH.

    And that is how I killed a stranger’s tail light.

    I wanted to throw a temper tantrum right there. That’s what I wanted to do. Instead, I marched over to the neighbor’s house (hey! I’m new to the neighborhood and I just broke your guest’s car!) and confessed to my idiocy and got on with it because if I was going to be a loser (and clearly I was), I could at least make it to my soccer game on time. (I did.)

    Liz and her friend were really sweet about it and tried to tell me that it wasn’t my fault, which was kind and appreciated but not true. Obviously I hit the parked car with my car so, yeah. The blame falls to me.

    Sure, there were factors working against me. It was one of those tiny pickup trucks that’s low to the ground and I couldn’t see the bed of it when I was backing up. Liz’s streets are unusually narrow and that was the first time I’d ever parked in the driveway. I’m used to my car, with the fancy beeping that alerts me when I’m about to plow into something. And the jackass did park his car in perfect alignment with the back of the driveway.

    Still my fault.

    Still the stupidest person alive.

    20 days ago, I would have told you that I was a very good driver.

    Time to reassess that belief.

    Time to get my head out of my ass.

    Time to figure out what the universe trying to tell me.

    ...other than to be a better driver.

    But, seriously. It hasn’t even been three weeks from my accident. I don’t even have my car back from my accident. Can I do anything right?

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Um, so, yeah

    I might have been slightly psychotic yesterday. Maybe jumping to a few conclusions that were somewhat cleared up with a bit of investigation (read: F'book stalking) and the enlightenment of rational thinking.

    But I'm still going to lay low for a few days and give us a little bit of distance and see how this feels because, yes, the reason that I freaked out was not foolproof but the feeling is still there. It is this heavy, uneasy feeling that I can't shake and The Coach is basically doing nothing. Nothing to cause the problem. And nothing to make it go away.

    He's home for three weeks in three weeks. I would hate to give up those three weeks with him just because I'm feeling insecure and unsteady. And, at the same time, I would hate to spend three weeks getting reattached to him if, when he goes, we end up where we are right now.

    Where we were in September? Great. Where we were a month ago? Fine. But where we are today? It isn't good. It isn't sustainable.

    Maybe I want more than I can expect for him to give.

    Maybe he can give once I learn how to ask.

    I don't want to give up on him - we're more than halfway through his season. I don't want to prolong the misery of expunging him from my life if that is how this ends.

    Normally, I would proclaim that he's worth the risk. But after this weekend, I'm just not sure. I'm not sure about anything.

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Over & Done

    Those godforsaken bobby pins are still on my nightstand.


    The movers will be here in a few hours.

    I'm not quite sure what to do with them.

    Into my pocket, maybe. For safekeeping.

    I think I'll need them. A reminder of my optimism and my hope.

    Both of which The Coach shattered last night.

    We're over. I haven't told him yet. But we're over.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Seven years

    This week marks seven years of blogging here at So Midwestern. I truly cannot believe that blogging has not yet run its course (although, admittedly, it is not the same) and that I am still here, typing away about every random-ass thing that happens to me, happens to interest me or happens to cross my mind.

    Perhaps this blog is just a testament to how shallow I truly am. Seven years and still not bored by my favorite subject: myself.

    One of the many aspects that I truly appreciate about putting seven years into this blog is that I have this neat little record of how I have changed.

    Without my blog as a reference point, I would probably tell you that I haven’t changed much since graduating college. I haven’t experienced radical, significant, benchmark moments: becoming a homeowner, having a baby, moving to a different state, marriage, etc.

    Except that I have. While I don’t have a diamond on my left ring finger and I’m not toting an infant around in balmy California weather, while my hair is still curly and strawberry blonde and I still wear my XO ring every day – I’m different in a lot of ways. A lot of good ways.

    One of the best ways that I have changed, I was realizing just last night, is that I have learned to stand up for myself.

    By nature, I am not an assertive person. I don’t like confrontation. I internalize. I smooth things over.

    But sometime over the last seven years, I learned to stand up for myself. I learned to tell coworkers when they’ve stepped over the line in a way that is tactful, professional and assertive. I found it in myself to bitch out a cab driver in Africa. I learned to tell boys when their behavior is unacceptable. I mouthed off to a soccer referee so venomously that I was yellow carded. I maintained a voice – albeit often shaky and tearful – through last fall’s family drama.

    And instead of always smoothing over problems – as is my first inclination to do – sometimes I’ll stir the pot if the pot needs stirring.

    See: yesterday’s bitchy email from one of my hockey teammates.



    (Basically, the situation was that our scorekeeper had fallen through – as had already happened a few times this season – and nobody was having any luck in finding a replacement. Not a big deal.)

    I read it just after leaving an annoying staff meeting and my first reaction was to ignore her outburst, delete the email and talk shit about her to the rest of my teammates at the game that night.

    But then I was like OH, HELL NO. YOU DO NOT TALK TO ME AND MY TEAMMATES THAT WAY. And I started furiously typing a response. Which I deleted. And proceeded to send a text to my closest friend on the team, begging her to talk me down from responding.

    And then I responded anyway.



    I have no tolerance for people who do not address others with respect. And I am so over keeping my mouth shut just to make the situation go away.

    Seven years ago, I would not have sent that email.

    Yesterday I did.

    Change is good.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Moving week

    I’m ready to be done with this move.

    That’s all this week has been. Emotions and packing.

    The packing is, well, it’s packing. It’s packing and packing and packing and packing and – I swear, you guys, my kitchen is teeny tiny and I cannot explain the boxes upon boxes that have come from that space. And my cupboards? Not even bare yet.

    I dropped things off at Liz’s house yesterday and took a good look at the closet in my room. The closet is going to be a problem: it is half the size of my current closet.

    Panic.

    Panic and the investment in some logical system for storing my clothes by season.

    Panic and the investment in some logical system for storing my clothes by season and also an ingenious way to house all of my handbags.

    But I do still think that this will be a good move for me. When I was at the house last night, Liz’s mom stopped in – just because – and one of Liz’s friends stopped by – again, just because – with her adorable daughter and, gosh, I forgot what being social on a random weeknight for no apparent reason felt like.

    It felt really, really awesome.

    And it felt like the first randomly social night of many. Liz’s house is perfect for sitting on the porch and laughing and drinking a glass of wine. Perfect for crowding around the kitchen table, gossiping and drinking coffee.

    I’m thankful for the unexpected visitors at Liz’s house because it calmed me down. I am just filled with emotions this week and the feeling of calm? Not exactly prevalent.

    My head and my heart are full of feelings and strangely devoid of words. I’ve backed myself into a corner that I can’t write my way out of and it is overwhelming. So many tears. I don’t even know what I’m crying about anymore.

    What I’m not crying about is this move. This move which will be fine. Which will be more than fine. It will be good for me and good for my heart and good for my spirit and good for the mileage on my car. And maybe even good for my handbags, too. If I can find a place for them.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Success!

    Lucy's baby shower is in the books.

    I thought it was nice. Lucy thought it was nice. And I don't care what anyone else thought about it. (But they thought it was nice, too.)



    We made two different types of fondue. We had a salad. Cream puffs with ice cream and hot fudge for dessert.

    Check out those fabulous fondue pots from the '70s! Let me tell you this, friends: wrangling up 8 fondue pots is not an easy task. Between me and my mom and Lucy and my aunts and my grandma, we managed to pull it off.



    Lucy was awkward about presents, as expected. When all of the older ladies crowded around the presents, waiting for them to be opened, I had to announce that she wasn't opening anything because she's socially awkward. But I invited everyone to show off their gift to the group if they did so please and some did and some didn't and that seemed to work out just fine.



    As we were boxing up decorations, I wondered aloud whose shower the decor would next make an appearance at.

    "Hard to say," my mom replied.

    She was probably secretly wishing that it would be mine.

    I sort of was, too.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    And the countdown begins

    When I came in to work this morning, my December schedule was waiting for me.

    My schedule is pretty consistent – Monday through Thursday (two day shifts/two afternoons) – plus two Fridays, two Saturdays and one Sunday per month. When I get my schedule, what I’m really looking at are the weekends that I’m working and how it much it is going to cramp my social life. (Answer: a lot. Every damn month. Working on weekends sucks. End of story.)

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting the December schedule.

    The Coach will be home for three weeks of December – he’ll be back in less than a month! – and clearly I am interested in working as little as possible when he is home.

    Success.

    Of the 20some days that he’s home, I’m scheduled to work just 10. I’m only taking two vacation days. The rest is just, like, magic and luck and the beauty of working in local government and OMG what if we get in a huge fight before he arrives and we’re just unceremoniously over and done with and I’m getting excited about nothing?

    Also: how many articles of clothing am I allowed to purchase prior to his arrival before I am officially labeled as ridiculous and shallow?

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    A broken heart

    I spent this afternoon at Grandma's house. We made the cream puffs for Lucy's baby shower.

    She has a calendar hanging in her kitchen. I always look at it. Mostly because it generally features at least one picture of me.

    This is November.



    The 16th is the day my aunt died.

    I cried on my drive home.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2011

    Nothing that felt like something (for a little while)

    The Coach woke up with a headache on Sunday morning. A headache that lasted the whole day.

    I woke up with a headache on Sunday morning. A headache that lasted the whole day.

    And that’s how we got on the topic of my epic concussion.

    The concussion that I finally told you all about last month. Which I thought I hadn’t told you about because I just forgot but, after Sunday, I realized that the reason that it took me so long to blog about it was because I’m sort of weird about the whole incident.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m sort of weird in general.

    The story spilled out of my mouth before I had a chance to think it through. All of a sudden, I’m telling him about the days of school that I missed and what it was like to feel endlessly hung over before I even knew what a hangover felt like. As I’m telling The Coach the story, my brain started screaming at me “WHY DOES HE NEED TO KNOW THIS?!”

    And the conversation was no big deal. He was the appropriate amount of concerned and interested and engaged in what I was telling him. It was no different than most conversations that we have – be it me bitching about work or him recounting the details of his team’s last game or me gushing on and on and on about how wonderful it will be when he’s home for Christmas. (Which, by the way, is a mere month away.)

    It was no different until the minute that we ended the conversation and my screaming brain continued to scream.

    About how vulnerable I had just made myself.

    About how The Coach would now think of me as nothing more than The Sick Kid.

    About what a huge mistake it was to reveal that piece of my past to him, to illustrate so clearly how imperfect I am.

    I felt weird about it for the rest of the night. I felt weird about it all day on Monday. I felt weird about it until I talked to him that night. And it was just like it always is. Except maybe a little more awesome because it was exactly like it always is. And therefore exactly how it should be.

    Like one silly accident – a silly accident that happened more than 10 years ago – could possibly matter. And matter to a guy, at that.

    Oh, the things that go on in my head.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011

    Party time

    I might be having weird feelings about babies.

    But I am not having weird feelings about baby showers.

    Current project: the obsessive downloading of songs with baby in the title.

    On tap for the rest of the week:
    • the making of cream puffs with Grandma
    • grating cheese until my arms fall off
    • 93 trips to the grocery store
    • buying all of the baby goodies for our one and only game – a fun little number I like to call Guess How Much All of the Baby Shit in This Basket Costs
    • wrapping up favors
    • appeasing my mother’s every wish because the shower is at her house and she is the boss
    • creating clever signage so that I don’t have to tell 25 people where to put their gifts
    • and, most importantly: choosing a dress to wear so that I am the cutest hostess of all hostesses in the whole world.
    I have Thursday and Friday off of work. Thank you, Veteran’s Day, for falling on such a convenient day. (And thank you, veterans, for serving our great country.)

    I work on Saturday.

    And Sunday is go time.

    Hot damn, I do love me a party.

    Monday, November 07, 2011

    My jealousy is ugly

    My cousin Mara had her baby on Saturday. A little girl she named Claire, who has a head of dark, dark hair. I am excited to meet her.

    You know who else is excited to meet her? My mom. My mom who danced – literally broke out into a bloody jig, I am not even exaggerating a little bit – when she heard the news.

    And who cooed and petted the monitor when the first picture was emailed.

    My mother has never been one to pressure me to get married or to have babies but, holy shit, that dance routine that she broke out in certainly felt like subliminal pressure. Not unlike when she coolly congratulated me on every college acceptance until my UM letter came in the mail – just before Thanksgiving (I was the first of my friends to hear back from my beloved UMich) – it was dinner and hugs and beaming, beaming pride. Mom never said it but it was pretty clear where she wanted me to go to college. Just like I am pretty sure I know what she would like: grandbabies.

    News of Baby Claire’s arrival came on Saturday morning and by noon I was in a horrible, horrible mood. Cancelling prior plans to go out with Meg and my cousin Liz that night. Disinterest in the UM football game. (Watching would have only broken my heart even more.) Halfhearted trips to the mall and to the craft store. To buy supplies. For Lucy’s baby shower. Which is next Sunday.

    How about everybody have a baby at the same time so that I can just jump into this pool of Life Failure rather than settling for dipping in my toes and testing the waters?

    It’s nothing against anyone. Really, it isn’t. If it is time to have a baby: have a baby. I will be overjoyed for you. If not a little (okay, a lot) jealous. This just feels like my many, many turns as a bridesmaid all over again. Except that my ovaries are involved. Fucking ovaries. Ridiculously fucking sensitive ovaries.

    I’ve always felt like I am so far behind my peers. It’s been like this since I was a kid – always the youngest in my class because of my late birthday, I was always waiting and watching as my friends achieved milestones long before I did. From learning my multiplication tables to growing out of kid-sized clothes to having that first legitimate boyfriend to the husband and the house and the babies. It always happens, eventually – and I guess I would like to believe that pattern will continue and I won’t be an old maid librarian and the weird single aunt to Meg’s kids – but I’m always the last.

    I dislike last.

    I dislike this envy.

    I dislike myself for keeping score. For wanting to catch up. For treating life like it is a board game where the right roll of the dice or the right card at the top of the deck will turn things around. For seeing what I don’t have more clearly than I see what I do.

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    I'm a touch sensitive

    I wasn’t in a great place on Wednesday night.

    And then I got an innocuous email from Colleen.

    Hey!

    Just wanted to rsvp for my mom and me.

    Hope all is well!


    And it totally set me off.

    Yes, I was already a wreck. Yes, she meant absolutely nothing by the email. Yes, I’m being overly sensitive.

    But I don’t care. It pissed me off and I’m going to be pissed off about it.*

    Hope all is well? Bite me, Colleen. Darren is dead and if you were the friend who you used to be – the friend who hung out with me and Darren on many, many occasions – I would have called to tell you. Because that’s what you do with your closest friends: call them when you’re upset and when you’re scared and when you’re not quite sure how to feel. And I would have told you about my car accident. And my impending move. And about how hard it was when The Coach left. And all of the quirky things that my hyper new boss does.

    All is not well, Colleen. And I wish that we were still friends so that I could tell you about it.

    And thanks for asking if I needed any help with the shower, too. I really appreciate it.

    *But I’m only allowed to be pissed off about it for the next week. Because the shower is a week from Sunday and I am just going to have to drop the grudge, put a smile on my face and get over myself. Awkward is most definitely not invited to the baby shower.

    Thursday, November 03, 2011

    A daze and a crash

    I felt rubbed raw.

    I dragged myself out of bed and packed up a few things. I drank a cup of tea and turned down the television and I blogged about Darren. And the best way that I can describe how I felt yesterday morning is by saying that I felt like I had been rubbed raw.

    I was slow getting ready for work. I had errands to run before going to the office. And I kept trying and trying and trying to get out of the house and I just couldn't make myself move fast enough. Everything took twice as long as I expected.

    I made mango sticky rice. Without even thinking about it, that's what I made. The same food that I ate for days and days after The Coach left. Comfort.

    I ate it while I drove. I nursed a second cup of tea. My head was all over the place. I had a few bags of donations to drop off at the Salvation Army. And then I wanted to buy new ballet flats. I am forever in need of a new pair of ballet flats.

    I turned left out of the Salvation Army parking lot, even though, unknowingly, I could turn right to get on the expressway, too.

    I turned left and then I got into the left turn lane at the next intersection. There was a big semi-truck that got into the turn lane ahead of me. And I was in a daze. And I must have assumed that, if that big truck was going, that the left turn light had turned green.

    But it had not. And I pulled out in front of a car. And got hit. And it was my fault.

    I got a ticket. I got bailed out of my mess by my father, yet again. He works in the automotive industry (this is Detroit, after all) and he arranged for a tow truck and picked me up at the scene of the accident.

    If I had to get into an accident. If my car had to be undriveable. I guess this was as good as it was going to get. He was on his way to the airport - off to a car show - and we continued on to the airport, where I dropped him off and took his car.

    "You know, I'm really impressed," my father remarked one of the half-dozen times I talked to him on the phone in the 30 minutes between the accident and when he arrived. "Your mother or your sister would have called me crying."

    I didn't cry. I wanted to cry. But I wanted to cry long, long before the crash. I had wanted to cry since getting out of bed that morning. Since learning about Darren the night before.

    I arrived at work only 45 minutes late. Still in a daze. About Darren. About my accident. About the bruise on my knee and how much money this mistake would cost me and, ultimately, how fortunate I was that it was not worse.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    Darren

    My work friend, Darren.

    If you've been reading for a couple of years, you probably remember him.

    We hung out a lot for a year or so. I had a crush on him. And then I didn't. But we were always friends.

    And he got fired. Right around the same time that Ashley and The Coach left their jobs in the same office. But we stayed in touch. For a while. And he moved to another state and our conversations became less and less and less frequent.

    I thought about calling him on his birthday this year - it was his 30th - and I didn't.

    Ashley called yesterday to give me exceptionally horrible news.

    Darren committed suicide.

    And I find myself in one of those places when I detest the limitations of the written word because there isn't a word or a phrase in my vocabulary that I can say to sum up how absolutely awful and sad and heartbroken that I feel.

    I hate mental illness. I hate what it did to Darren. I hate that Darren's family has lost a son. I hate that I didn't work harder to maintain our friendship. I hate that I never told Darren that I thought that - troubles or not - he was a good person and a good friend. I hate that I didn't pick up the damn phone on his birthday.

    I hate that this is real and that I have to write an acknowledgement that it happened.

    I hate it.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2011

    And somehow it is November

    November already.

    Alarming, isn’t it? Although, flipping the page on my calendar today gave me a bit of a rush. I only do that once more until The Coach is home for a few weeks.

    I am putting too much stock into his visit and I know it.

    ***

    I remembered to say - and Tweet - rabbit, rabbit this morning. November is now guaranteed to be a good month. So I've got that going for me.

    ***

    My cousin Anna was in town this weekend. I love when she is around. She – just like her sister, Emma – fits in with my nuclear family seamlessly. She feels like more like my sister than she feels like my cousin.

    She was crying on Friday night. Breaking my heart. Her father is talking marriage and selling the house that he and Aunt Marie owned. He is moving on – quickly, it feels, though Aunt Marie has been dead for nearly two years – and Anna struggles with his pace. And my mom struggles with his pace. And my mom struggles with how Anna and Emma and her mother are struggling. And then I struggle, too. Because it is hard to watch. And because I miss Aunt Marie, too.

    I am so thankful that my sweet cousins have my mother. I am so thankful that I have my mother.

    ***

    I am so thankful that I have Lucy, too. Lucy who I can always count on to answer the phone at just the right time. Lucy who always asks the right questions. Lucy who knows all the background to all of the stories. I called her on my way home from work last night and we talked at a furious pace for my entire drive – about work and family and boys and moving and friends and we could have gone on for hours. I know that things will change when she has the baby but these phone calls? No. We will continue these phone calls. We need these phone calls more than we need dinners out or knitting dates or trips to the dog park.

    On the subject of Lucy: her baby shower is in a little less than two weeks. I’m throwing her the shower. I bought her a gift off of her registry. But I sort of want to get her something else. Something that is maybe a little impractical or a little frivolous but undeniably special.

    ***

    The number of scarves I own is stupid yet I want 29 more. At least.

    ***

    Lately I’ve found myself jotting down every quote that I find poignant. And by jotting down, I mean making a note of it in my phone so that I can scroll through the dozens and dozens of quotes whenever I have the urge.

    I love words. I love words that succinctly say what I feel but cannot voice.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Imprint

    I made my grand return to the soccer field last night.

    Playing illegally on an over-30 team. The same over-30 team that I've been playing illegally with for a few years.

    (The over-30 team that I am alarmingly close to being age-eligible to play on. OH THE HORROR.)

    It was all just very standard soccer, albeit at a lower skill level than I would prefer.

    Until the second half, when I got this beauty:



    Look closely. Can you see the y-shaped imprint of the ball's seams?

    I got DRILLED by the ball when standing maybe a foot away from the girl who kicked it.

    It doesn't hurt. And just a bit of a sting when it happened. But how can you not fully appreciate having a soccer ball tattooed on the inside of your knee?

    And, on a side note, do my legs not look like the skin of a plucked chicken? Gross.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Manly Moving Men: Cheap

    Dear Gods of Deal-of-the-Day Websites,

    While I love scrolling through the deal-of-the-day emails that I receive every morning (usually when I’m stopped at traffic signals on my way to work), I don’t usually buy. There are only so many manicures and massages that a lowly librarian with a weakness for pricy travel needs.

    But that extremely well-timed deal for movers? Less than a month out from my relocation?

    Pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me.

    Couple clicks. Few less funds on my debit card. Voila! Moving magic.

    Now I don’t have to ask my parents for help.

    Now I don’t have to hear my mom’s favorite moving-my-daughter-yet-again line: “Next time you move, darling, you need a boyfriend who has strong and helpful buddies.”

    Thank you, almighty Gods of Deal-of-the-Day Websites, for enabling me to feel less like a single loser and more like an independent woman who needs a manicure and a massage.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Beautification

    I am having one of those days where I may or may not burst into tears at any second*, so we’re going to be employing the power of distraction

    And talking about makeup.

    Do some people have mothers who teach them how to wear makeup?

    Because I did not. I had a mother who taught me how to sew. I had a mother who taught me to love reading. I had a mother who tutored me in the baking of cookies and the importance of education and the appeal of the classic and simple. But I did not have a mother who taught me how to apply makeup.

    Or how to shave my legs.

    Therefore, I consider it to be a minor miracle that my legs are not more scarred up and that I did not go through a phase where I was all blue eyeshadow and clumpy mascara and generally looked like a blind child prostitute.

    When I was a freshman in high school, my grandma took me to the Clinique counter at the department store. She had worked in cosmetics at that very store for years and years and years. She let the ladies run wild. Powder and eyeshadow and mascara and blush and lipstick. Oh, how beautiful I felt on that random weekday afternoon when I just happened to be off of school and had soccer practice that night.

    Grandma bought me blush and eyeshadow the day. Maybe powder, too. All I can ever remember wearing was the eyeshadow, a barely-there brown shade that you wouldn't notice if I applied it with a trowel.

    Buying me makeup that was so subtle that you couldn't actually see it? Tricky, Grandma. Very tricky. (I have tucked this trickery away for use on my future daughters.)

    When I was in college, I discovered the magic that is blush. I could go without mascara or eyeshadow or any lip color whatsoever. But blush and I? We're tight.

    I would buy a best friends necklace for Benefit Dandelion. Or NARS Orgasm.

    I still tend to lean towards the oh-wait-you-have-eye-makeup-on eye makeup which, while it keeps me from looking like I'm trolling for business when I stand on street corners, tends to feel pretty plain and pretty boring. Not that I want any of my makeup to be like HI, I'M WEARING MAKEUP but this is seriously minimal. Although I do always wear mascara (and am better off for it) and have recently figured out how to wear eyeliner and not look like I should be in a hair band.

    And, when it comes to lip color, if it isn't a tinted lip balm then it probably isn't going on my face. Or, in a rare show of courage, it is going on my face for an average of 12 seconds. Until I furiously wipe it off while scolding myself for pretending to be a Real Grownup Lady.

    I am not going to tell you how long into my life it took me to learn how to employ the magic that is a bobby pin. Or do anything with my hair that was not a ponytail. Just know that I was probably closer to 30 than I was to 20. And, by all means, feel free to laugh.

    Just don't laugh at my eye makeup.

    Or lack thereof.


    *I was never like this until just before The Coach left. Now I cry, like, twice a week. Either his departure opened the floodgates to my soul or I am destined to be on an episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant on TLC.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Infinite possibility

    I picked up boxes from Liz on my way home from work on Monday.

    (Unrelated: it took me a mere 15 minutes to get from my office to Liz's driveway. I am so excited about the shortened commute.)

    Last night, after tackling the treadmill for an hour, I started packing. At this early stage in my move, I'm just boxing up the things that I can live without for the next three weeks.

    And those items are largely the same items that I'll be storing in Liz's basement. She has a house full of all of the essentials. We won't need two rolling pins. We won't even need two blenders. (Unless we throw a margarita party. We should have a margarita party, right?)

    So what I'm packing, I'm packing for the long haul. I'm packing up items that will stay in storage until -- well, I have no idea. Until they're no longer in storage.

    Until I need them.

    It's sort of fun, packing up these boxes with no clue as to when they'll be unpacked. Under what circumstances they'll be unpacked.

    I don't know how long I will live with Liz. I don't know why I'll move out.

    Liz could kick me out. I could be buying a house of my own. I could be relocating for a job. I could be moving in with a boy. I might just be sick of living with a roommate. Circumstances could be such that I am going to live with Mom and Dad. How can you know? How can you possibly know?

    It's a fun part of life -- the infinite possibility that stretches before you. The unknown.

    I like the taste of the endless possibilities. But I also wouldn't mind a little glimpse into the future.

    Any psychics in the audience?

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Vanish

    When I drive by Colin’s house, I still look to see what cars are in the driveway.

    When I drive by Colin’s job, I still check the parking lot to see if he’s there.

    When I played in the league that he runs last winter, every week was an exercise in holding my breath and holding my tongue. Hoping that he wasn’t there. Hoping that he wouldn’t see me. Hoping that I could get in and get out without a word passing between us.

    “Hey there, Sunshine,” he said to me at one of the games. I wrote about it when it happened. It pissed me off. When I think about it now, it still pisses me off. Sunshine. It sounds cute until you know him. Until you spend years on and off and on again, observing all of his bullshit behaviors. Including substituting Sunshine for the name of any female whose name you don’t know.

    My name? Is not Sunshine. He knows my damn name.

    His name? As much as I would like to, I haven’t forgotten it, either.

    Do you guys remember how it ended? When – just after his birthday and just before Christmas – he disappeared? He stopped calling and stopped texting and stopped emailing and, of course, never returned any of the sort from me.

    I had been around for years at that point. Years. And instead of tell me that it was over. Or explain that he needed a little bit of space. Or have the guts to explain what was going on in his life. He just disappeared. As though he could slip out of my life unnoticed.

    And it continues to haunt me.

    It’s always the same fear. With every guy who has been in my life since Colin, it is always the same. I assume that they are cowards. That they couldn’t possibly ends things respectfully. That one day they will disappear. Without warning. Without explanation. Because I don’t deserve that courtesy. Because I’ll figure it out eventually.

    I hate that.

    Any time that The Coach is busy (he’s in the meaty part of his season now and he is quite in demand and my head knows this even though my heart oftentimes does not) – even if it is just for a few hours – I hold my breath. And every text message that sits at the top of my inbox, I assume is The Very Last One Ever until my phone chirps at the receipt of another, be it a minute or a day later.

    And still I haven’t programmed The Coach's number into my phone. To spare myself the indignity of deleting it out after he disappears. Because don’t they all disappear?

    The Coach isn’t Colin. They have nothing in common.

    But I can't shake it. It has been years and I still can't shake it.
     
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