Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emma and Momma

Frequently, when Emma is upset, Emma leaves school and drives straight to my mom.

She's doing a better job of recognizing when she's anxious and out of control and she's getting better at stopping the anxious-upset-more anxious-more upset cycle and taking herself out of the situation. And that means that, sometimes, I'll call home and my dad will answer with a cheerful "Emma's here!" and that's really all that needs to be said.

And when she is at Mom and Dad's house, she's generally fine. She'll talk with my mom - a little - about what is upsetting her and spend a little time watching a movie or shopping with me or Meg (or both of us) and she'll get a decent meal or two and she'll be able to go back to school in a day or two and she'll be okay.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't do the exact same thing when I was in college. Sometimes, college was too much and I just needed to go home and sleep in my own bed and have pancakes that weren't made from a mix.

Emma isn't going home. Not technically. She isn't going to the house that she grew up in. But I think that she's going to the place that feels most like home. Which is the place where my mom is.

My mom has said before that she feels like Emma and Anna - but Emma especially - are her children, too.

A few weeks ago, my mother asked Meg if she felt neglected by her because all of the time and effort she put into caring for Aunt Marie and mothering Emma. It was a question spurred on by marriage counseling. I'm sure of it.

I hope that my father wasn't suggesting that my mom's heart isn't big enough for our immediate family and our (needy) extended family, too. Because that is bullshit. To me, anyway. I've never once felt that my mom was pushing me away to deal with her ill sister or her daughters. If anything, I've felt lucky. Lucky that I have this mother who can and will fight tooth and nail for the right things for the people who she loves.

It has taught me a lot.

I'm a better person for simply witnessing her driving my aunt to her physical therapy appointments after her amputation. For watching her pack Emma's belongings in her car and take her to college. For knowing how exhausted she often was but never showed it when it counted.

Emma and Anna are so lucky to have my mom. And I know that they know it. They're always so sweet and thoughtful. They remember her birthday and buy her presents and, on Mother's Day, they send her cards.

Cards that always make her cry.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Coffee with Colleen

I met Colleen for coffee on Friday afternoon and it was perfectly fine.

There were no tears and no shouting and no lectures and no awkwardness. I didn’t want – and I hadn’t planned – for any of that. There was no point. She wanted to make amends. I wanted to let it go. There wasn’t anywhere to move but forward and so forward is where we went.

...after a Cliff’s Notes update of my life in the last 90 days (the acquisition of an iPhone and a head of super blond hair, playing soccer in a league that Colin runs, crazyinsaneunexpected work drama, a job interview, kicking things off with The Coach, several amazing dinners with Lucy, landing the job, jetting off to Switzerland, starting the job – it’s been a crazy three months!).

...and a Cliff’s Notes update of Colleen’s life in the last 90 days. Not having a job. Getting a kitten. Taking her boyfriend’s dog to the vet and, yep, I think that covers everything she’s done.

I’m clearly not the one who has been missing out due to her absence.

It is nice that we could pick up where we left off with ease. I'm glad that we have that sort of friendship.

At the same time, I'd rather not know that about our friendship. I'd rather that she not be the type of friend who disappears for no reason for months at a time.

But that isn't how friendship works. She's my friend. I'll take her as she is, for who she is. Disappearing act and all.

Friday, May 27, 2011

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: April & May

April featured a job interview and a job offer and a boy. Highlights of May include a European adventure, the grand beginning of my new job, our Mother's Day Extravaganza and more of that dirty, dirty boy.

But I'm still finding time for the kitchen. And - more than anything else - it is because I genuinely like taking the time to make one new, fun, decent meal every week than because I made the committment on December 31.

Top left: Week 1's Stir-Fried Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes
Top right: Week 2's Crusty Macaroni and Cheese
Bottom right: Week 4's Low Fat Baked Ziti with Spinach
Bottom left: Week 3's Spinach and Cheddar Strata

I wasn't totally wild for the Low Fat Baked Ziti with Spinach. It may have been too healthy. I may have had too much spinach. It didn't help that it was a busy, busy week and I ended up eating it cold at my desk more than once. No meal can shine when it is being consumed at the wrong temperature and merely for sustanance.

Confession: I cheated oh-so-slightly in May because I did not cook myself one big meal per week, as dictated by my 2011 Resolution. What I did do, instead, was host both sides of my family for Mother's Day and leave for Switzerland the very next day and then come home and start a new job and make a few other meals. Good enough.

Top left: Buttered Rosemary Rolls was one of my contributions towards Mother's Day dinner, which I cooked with my sister and my cousins Liz and Danielle
Top right: more from dinner on Mother's Day. I rosted those Brussels Sprouts that you can't really see.
Bottom right: Week 4's Chicken Salad.
Bottom left: Week 3's Creamy Artichoke Pasta

I'm officially a big fan of all of these recipes. Not a loser in the bunch.

I made a few cakes in May, too.

Left: The Chocolate Truffe Cake that my former boss told me looked like shit.
Right: Lemon Cake for our Mother's Day Extravaganza

I've been making the Lemon Cake for several years now and it never fails to please the crowd. May marked the second time this year that I made the Chocolate Truffle Cake and it - despite not being the fanciest or most beautiful cake out there - is a really good standby for when you need a really decent cake without dumping tons of time and effort into baking it.

And that, friends, is what has been going on in my kitchen for the last two months. Just do me a favor and don't judge the recipies by my crappy iPhone photos. Click through to see something pretty. Or, better yet, try them. No picture is going to look as good as it is on a plate sitting in front of you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Schedules and such

This transition time, as I’m trying to fall into a new pattern of living, is a little bit crazy. I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m supposed to be or if I should be tired or what time I should have lunch and that is very odd to me because my life had been so steady for so long. Sure, there were little changes (a different night for class when I was still in grad school, picking up the extra job, playing soccer on a weeknight, whatever) that I adjusted my schedule around, but there wasn’t anything like this.

It feels a little like I threw every part of my life into the air and now I’m just watching it rain down around me. The variety is nice (I took a 9 am yoga class on Monday morning!) but I am missing the consistency of my old life.

This adjustment will take a little time.

I will work until 9:00 pm on two weeknights. Which requires me to determine how late I stay up on those nights I work late and how early I should be getting up on the days that I work in the afternoon and if I should run errands or just go to the gym.

Last night, I worked until 9. And then I went to the grocery store on my way home. I decided to make the recipe that I bought the ingredients for and then all of a sudden it is past 11 and I haven’t blogged and I haven’t had a chance to read and I swear it feels like I have less free time than when I was working 60 hours a week.

I’ll settle in eventually.

It doesn’t help that, in just this first week at my new job, life is finding me plenty of fun little extras that are keeping me from finding a rhythm. Not an evening to clean my bathroom and balance my checkbook to be seen! Instead, it has been drinks with my old coworkers last Wednesday. A visit (ahem) from The Coach on Monday. Dinner with the extended family on Tuesday night.

My summers always feel full of those casual, unplanned gatherings. Where you throw on a sundress after work and gather on a patio somewhere and the nights slip away because the weather is mild and the company is fantastic and it gets dark so gloriously late.

In the interest of perfect summer nights, I will embrace the unscheduled chaos. But only through September.

At which time I will be creating a comprehensive spreadsheet that precisely accounts for every minute I spend working, sleeping, blogging, socializing, eating, online shopping, jogging, commuting, baking, dreaming and, of course, Facebooking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poor attempts at standing in

Hated tonight.

Family went to Aunt Marie's house for dinner.

(Side note for new readers: Aunt Marie died in November, 2009 of complications from her juvenile diabetes.)

We went to Aunt Marie's house for dinner because it is her husband's birthday. I think that my grandma was trying to make a grand gesture to show Uncle Bob that he is still very much a part of the family.

Having the party at his house was the biggest gesture of them all. Uncle Bob might not know, but I know. I know that my grandma hates being in that house without Aunt Marie in it. I know that my mom feels the same way.

And so my grandma coped with her feelings by dousing them in wine.

She was drunk before dinner - she's tiny, it doesn't take much - when I walked into the kitchen and she's standing between the open oven and the kitchen counter, using her hands to get our meat from a skewer. And then she's standing on her toes, wobbly, trying to use tongs to get corn from the boiling water on the stovetop and I was just trying to help her as best I could so that she wouldn't hurt herself and so that she wouldn't ruin dinner and so that I wouldn't need to enlist the help of my mom. And it was just so sad.

I didn't say anything to my mom because she was outside on the deck and I didn't want her to worry and I was maybe in a little bit of denial and didn't realize exactly how plastered my grandma was.

Really plastered.

My mom eventually said something to her about it, which I didn't hear, and my grandma insisted that she could keep drinking and my mom let it go until my grandma did a very ungraceful stumblewobbletip. Mom said to her as she took the wine glass from her hands, "Mother, you're either drunk or you have vertigo." And that was funny at the time but it really wasn't.

It really wasn't. It wasn't funny. It wasn't funny watching my grandma struggle to cut her meat. Or listing to her sniffle as she helped me dry dishes. Or watching my mom - oh, my poor mother - watch her mom.

That's the hardest part. Knowing how much tonight will hurt my mom's heart. My mom's heart, which - just like Grandma's - has been broken since 2009.

It's just impossible for me - truly impossible - to understand how my mom can take all of this burden. It is always something. She is always taking on something. Fixing something. Holding something together. Her mother. Her marriage. Her nieces. Her daughters. Her friends.

I do what I can to take the pressure off of Mom - tonight it was getting dinner safely on the table and doing the dishes and quietly asking Grandma if I could help her cut her meat. All of this hurt and sadness sits so heavy on my chest and it burns my eyes. I don't handle it with her ease and her grace.

I am not a saint. I am not my mother. I am not built for this.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crow's Feet, party of two

Yesterday, I sat my mom in front of the computer and we went through the pictures fro my trip that my cousin Liz posted on Facebook.

We get to the picture below, which is of Liz and me on the train to Milan. I didn't think it was the most adorable picture of me ever taken. Even before Mom and I looked at the pictures, I had untagged myself.

"You two REALLY look like cousins in this picture," my mom remarked. "You also both REALLY look like you could start using eye cream."

I should probably point out that she didn't make the statement maliciously. It wasn't mean. It was just my mom, half kidding and half making a suggestion.

"I noticed the same thing," Liz told me when I broke the news of my mom's observation. "I was hoping that we were just really tired."

I'm just hoping to find a magical erasing eye cream that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A visit from the ghost of Colleen

I will be the first to admit that I am not good with friendship drama.

And Colleen has just been - well, she's essentially been missing from my life since the end of February.

I - as I tend to do - wrote it out and came to the conclusion that I needed to let her make her own mistakes and figure out her messy, messy life when she was ready to do so. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to guide her. I wanted to fix her. But I promised myself (and Lucy) that I would continue to be her friend while resisting the urge to meddle in her life.

But then she completely disappeared.

Lucy and I invited her along for a while: to the dog park or to see a movie or to dinner or to our favorite so-weird-it-is-awesome dance club. At some point, we stopped asking because we knew the answer. Always no. Always electing to stay at home with her boyfriend, doing whatever it is that a couple would do when both parties are unemployed and one has extreme social anxiety. Get high on a regular basis and eat junky food? I'm not really sure because Colleen fell off of the face of the earth. No appearances. No calls. No emails. No Facebook posts. Absolutely nothing. She was gone.

At one point, Lucy deleted Colleen's number from her phone. "If I have it in here, I will feel obligated to call and check on her." Lucy and Colleen have been friends since elementary school. "I just can't do it."

I didn't feel that same tug. Maybe it was selfish, but I didn't want to call to make sure that she was alive and listen to her problems. I wanted to have dinner with her. I wanted to sit in Lucy's living room and drink wine and retell all of our favorite stories. I wanted a friend, not a charge.

But I got nothing. Nothing until an email that I received when my plane landed in Detroit on Tuesday evening.

First and foremost, I would like to apologize for being a shitty friend. I've missed some big events in your life lately and I feel terrible that I wasn't there to congratulate and support you along the way. I wish I had a good reason for my disappearance, but I don't... All I can do is apologize for being self-absorbed and hope that my apology isn't too late. I really miss you. When you have some free-time, please give me a call. I would love to hear about your new job and your trip, and anything else that I have missed.

Love, Colleen

The email was not unexpected. She had emailed Lucy a week or so before. And - though I didn't know it at the time - they had met for coffee the weekend that I was in Milan.

I read the email from Colleen as I was disembarking the plane. I wanted to be mad, but I couldn't. I wanted to be sad, but I couldn't. I wanted the desire to email her back immediately, but I didn't have it.

I sat on the email for a few days. Eventually, I sent her back a very generic "good to hear from you. Give me a call when you want to catch up" email.

She hasn't called. She hasn't emailed. I'm not surprised. Just disappointed. Which is absolutely no different than how I've felt towards her for the past three months.

I'm tempted to just write her off. But I keep returning to the days and the weeks after my dad's cheating scandal broke, when Colleen and Lucy held me up, and I know that I'm not quite ready to give up on her yet.

And I really, really hope that she decides to be a friend again before I decide that I can no longer be hers.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm just going to take a moment to ramble

This is going to be all over the place. Consider yourself warned.

My parents totally had an appointment with their therapist on Monday morning, which explains why my dad was acting like a complete freak show when he picked me up from the airport on Tuesday. I thought we were over his weepy-emotional-needy post-cheating stage but apparently we are not. I thought we maybe needed some family time with the four of us, so I arranged for us all to go to dinner tonight and to see Bridesmaids. A nice, wholesome movie to see with your parents, right? Perfect. Just what I was looking for.

The Athlete recently proposed to his girlfriend. It isn't like he and I have much contact (when I quit my job, I kind of knew that I would not likely see him again), but it seemed like he was setting this girl up to be The One. After an excellent season with his team in which everything seemed to go right for him, it probably only made sense to top it off with an engagement. I am certainly happy for him even though when I found out I felt a little like the wind had been knocked out of me. But just for a moment.

I do not feel fit. Looking forward to finding a new routine and cashing in a yoga Groupon and shaking this thick feeling that I picked up somewhere between the scrumptious fondue in Switzerland and the sinful risotto in Milan.

So, despite putting in for my vacation before quitting for my job and having the appropriate number of vacation days to cover it, my old boss didn't pay me after my last day. We never discussed it (my bad!) but I assumed (my bad, again!) that he would do the right thing since I had worked for him for six years and kicked all sorts of ass and everything. But did he? No. I'm not mad or really all that surprised but I'm slightly insulted and if those fuckers think that I'm going into that office to help them with a single thing, they are sorely mistaken. If you're going to be cheap with me, I am going to be cheap with you.

I am subbing at my old 'brary today and I had a patron tell me that I have beautiful eyes. I cannot recall ever being told that before.

I would like to write something about The Coach but I would probably have to do a lot of analyzing and I'm just having fun, right? Right.

I'm not really quite sure what to think of my new job.

Since my return, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time researching a dessert that Liz and I had in Switzerland. I almost have it figured out.

I'm hungry. (Like always.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Look

I was walking to the train station today when I noticed a man just ahead of me.

For a moment, I thought he was looking at me. And then I saw his eyes. And it was clear that he was not. You don't look at a stranger with those eyes.

I've seen that look on a man's face before. When he's watching his bride walk down the aisle.

And this man was standing on the street on a Friday. His eyes radiating love and adoration so strongly that a stranger - a stranger from another country, at that - could feel it.

I couldn't help myself. After I passed him, I stopped. I stopped and turned on my heel and, sure enough, he was no longer alone. As he pulled her in with an embrace that appeared as strong as his glance seemed loving, my heart melted.

And I wanted the same for myself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Day

Flowers, a card and a little box of Godiva chocolates at my desk for my first day of work!

So nice, right? I was really fired up about it until I told Lucy and she said "oh, I went to a management training that told us to do just that!" So then I was slightly less excited about it but still excited because a present is a present is a present. And I like presents.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Bitch is Back In Town

I'm home! And in 10 hours I start my new job!

And I'm really annoyed with my father!

So, my dad drove me to the airport and that was great and I assumed that he was picking me up and that was great, too. I was hoping a little bit that my mom would go with him or maybe the dogs or something but it was just him and that was fine.

By the time I cleared customs and all of that, I had been traveling for more than 20 hours and I smelled a little bit and also I was tired even though I got some fairly decent sleep on the plane. So, sorry, Dad, when I wasn't TALK TALK TALK and YAY YAY YAY and STORY STORY STORY. We'll get to that eventually. I will also give you your present. (Which I may or may not have purchased at the airport, but you don't need to know that ever.)

So, he repeats the same small talk three times over ("aren't you glad you came back to this weather?") and asks me the same questions twice over ("what was the best part of your trip?") and I just kind of want to punch him in the face.

The trip was long enough that I was going to be a bit of a raging bitch no matter what. But, ever since my dad's whole cheating scandal broke at the end of last summer, I have less tolerance for him. That is probably wrong, but it is true. The weird shit that he does used to just be part of the whole that was my crazy dad. I find the weird shit significantly less charming these days.

Anyway, at one point in the drive back to my apartment, he grabs my hand to hold it. TO HOLD MY HAND. And I was like "um, seriously, what the fuck?" I think I told him that it was weird (it is) and stuffed it into my purse or something and I think I might have made him cry because when I turned to look at him a few minutes later, I'm pretty sure I saw moisture on his cheek. Whoops.

My mom called to welcome me home and she was like "your dad was texting me today and he said 'our girl comes home today!'" Was there any question that I wasn't? Also creepy and weird.

And then Dad and I get back to my apartment, where he left me good-luck-on-your-first-day roses and also a card that he signed from both him and my mom and I guess that was nice except that meant that he made a special trip to my apartment to drop those off and that is also almost weird and unnecessary as the hand holding. (HAND HOLDING! WTF?)

So, I'm like "thanks for dropping me off, but you have to go because I need to go to the grocery store even though it is 9:30 pm." And he is all shocked because I'm going to go to the grocery store and I'm like "dude, I have no milk and no food to bring to work tomorrow, it isn't like I have any choice."

And then I get to my car - which he had driven a bit while I was gone (totally cool with me) - and obviously the tank was mostly empty so I got to go to the gas station, too.

The whole thing was really fucking weird and, honestly, if you'd like to do something nice for me when I get home from vacation (other than pick me up from the airport, which is seriously really f'ing nice), just buy me a gallon of skim milk and leave me with a bit of gas in my car. And don't try to hold my hand.

To Myself and My Tastebuds

Note to self: it isn't that you don't care for sandwiches, it is that you don't care for crappy sandwiches. Enough with the American cheese and the cold cuts and the pre-sliced bread. Make a sandwich with ingredients that you actually like: brie and cranberries and fresh mozzarella and pine nuts and crusty bread.

Life is too short to pack crappy sandwiches that you won't eat anyway.

Monday, May 16, 2011

And now I find myself in France

I’m in the home stretch of my vacation. We’re back from Milano (which, despite my bitching, was a wonderful weekend trip that I can’t wait to go on and on about) and, after a brief stop at our hotel in Switzerland late yesterday evening, we were off to another location: a small French town not far from Geneva. It is where Liz has meetings this week and, of course, I am merely along for the ride.

The hotel sits on a lake; after breakfast this morning, I spent an hour this morning jogging twice around the lake. I needed it. Oh, I so needed it. (When I post pictures of what I ate in Milan, you will understand.)

I could go to Geneva today, but I may just stay around the hotel and in this quaint little town and just relax. Tomorrow will be a marathon day of travel (from here to Geneva to Zurich to Amsterdam to Detroit to my little apartment in the suburbs), followed my first day at my new job. I think that it may serve me well to conserve a bit of energy and read my book and drink coffee and burn a few brain cells on Facebook.

The majority of this trip has been exquisitely perfect and the parts that have been less than perfect were irritating but manageable. And the irritations mostly stemmed from my lack of planning (flying in and out of Zurich, for example, was a foolish mistake even if I did enjoy my day there) and a lack of control (Liz is working in the suburbs and, thus, we stay in the suburbs) and I just had to get over it. Letting go and moving on is a lesson that I need to learn over and over and over again.

And now for a few photos:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Money and Things

I am writing this from my hotel room in Milan. Where everyone is smart enough to secure their wireless networks.

As a result, I'm not quite sure when I will post this. But I have to get it out.

Because I've spent so much of this trip worrying about the amount of money that I'm spending and, when you're traveling with two others who don't appear to care the slightest, it gets old. So, that is where I am. In Milan and feeling poor - probably poorer than I really am.

It just sucks to be in a situation where others are spending with abandon and you don't really feel that you can do the same.

And they're doing all of this shopping while I'm doing all of the spectating and then we go to dinner and whose meal doesn't go on the company card? Mine.

I hate when I feel like this. Materialistic and poor and envious are all things that, honestly, I am not but, in this moment, I totally feel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Euro Slow Down

I just had the most amazing breakfast.

I ate a lot of cheese. Spectacular cheese. Other things, too, but had I permitted myself to do exactly as I desired, I would have eaten my weight in that spectacular, spectacular cheese.

I drank a lot of coffee. I’m on vacation. Fuck the two coffees per day resolution while I’m here. (Did you know that I legitimately haven’t had more than two cups of coffee per day since the beginning of the year? This caffeine is going to hit me hard.)

I took my sweet ass time. I just chillaxed at the table, engrossed in the book that I’m reading. Sipping my coffee and nibbling at my meal. Completely unlike my everyday routine, which consists of eating breakfast in the car every morning and oftentimes downing an entire cup of coffee in the five minutes I have left at one job before leaving to go to the other.

Truthfully, I am tempted to spend this vacation like I spend my life: going 100 miles per hour, squeezing every second out of every day, afraid to sit down because the inactivity could cause me to miss something. That is how I spent yesterday. After getting off of the plane at the Zurich airport, I took the train into the heart of Zurich. I stowed my luggage in a locker and I set off into the city, determined to see Zurich despite the very, very little sleep I’d gotten (maybe eight hours between my late Sunday night and Monday night on the plane) and the monstrous blister on my heel (which had developed before I’d even left Detroit Metro Airport) and the fact that I had no idea where I was going or what I should see or do.

After getting my fill of Zurich, I had to board a train to Lausanne, which took a few hours, and then take a taxi to where Liz is staying. We aren’t right in Lausanne, which is sort of a bummer and, thus, will require a bit more time/funds/effort/energy for me to go out and do things. Which I’m finding may be a good thing. Like, maybe I could just slow down a touch and enjoy doing a little bit of nothing over a book and some cheese and a carafe of coffee. It worked for me this morning.

I’m going to go to the fitness center and, annoying blister willing, go for a bit of a run. I’m not sure if working out fits the definition of a relaxing vacation, but I think I need it. I didn’t see the gym at all in the craziness of last week (though I did fit in a pair of soccer games) and I would really like to jog off this layer of inactivity. I just find it uncomfortable.

And then I will come back to the room and get ready for the day and maybe head out to see something (I suppose I’ll be spending a bit of time with my guidebook) for a couple of hours. I just need to get back in the early evening, when my cousin Liz is finished with work for the day; we’re going into Lausanne for dinner and whatnot with some of her coworkers.

Which, I think, will make for a day that feels productive enough to my inner overachiever (which is afraid that I will have come all of this way only to waste my time on lame crap such as eating and relaxing – activities that I could do at any random hotel in any number of cities that don’t cost a grand to fly to) but calm enough that I could, for once, be considered somewhat sane.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Again on the 8th

The Coach was over on Sunday night.

I'm pretty sure that I know better. It is possible that I just don't care. Or maybe I'm simply weak.

It wasn't the first. Or the second. Or the third time he suggested it in the month since our last encounter.

I held off for as long as I did because I am not accustomed to permitting myself such frivolous fun. To letting chance reign. To letting boys into my life who are adorable and risky and intriguing and far too capable of hurting me.

And I sort of feel like I have to make excuses for this thing that we have going on. Yet another place where I suspect I'm going wrong, too.

Maybe I should stop the analysis and stop the excuses and just let it happen.

I can proclaim it stupid later (if need be). I can make excuses for my decisions later (if need be).

It's okay to hope there isn't a need for either, right

Monday, May 09, 2011

Hi from DTW

Would you look at that?

I am at the airport.

And done with my job.

Life can change with astounding speed.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The tight grip of time

I am currently hating clocks. Clocks and time and my ability to read clocks and calculate time. Hate it all.

I keep looking at my phone. Looking at my phone and expecting a phone call or a text message and, when I inevitably have neither, I am left with the time staring back at me. And then I calculate. How long it has been since the last phone call or the last text message. The number of hours until I am due at the airport. How long I've been stuck at an intersection. How many minutes it took to get through the checkout at Trader Joe's. The amount of time I have before I'm due to pick up Lucy to see a movie and whether I can squeeze in time to go to the grocery store, bake a cake, have dinner and pack within that tiny window. How many hours of sleep I got (or didn't get) last night. Exactly how long I will be at work on Monday and whether or not I have any chance at all of finishing the dozen tasks on my to-do list. The time I'll need to leave for the airport. The number of hours of the flight.

Time. Everything these days is about time and how much I can accomplish within each and every segment of time. A shower in five minutes. A trip to the mall in under an hour.

I am a slave to the clock.

Until Monday at 6:15 pm. At which time I will become a slave to vacation.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 11, part 2

Guess I better wrap up last summer's trip to South Africa before jetting off to Switzerland, eh?
After our tour to Soweto, we went back to our hotel for a few hours. After eating and showering and changing and email checking and all of that, we didn't have time for the long and luxurious naps that we wanted/needed.

Instead, we headed to a night game at Soccer City. We were seeing the Round of 16 matchup between Mexico and Argentina.

Meg and I both wore Argentina colors. The Mexican fans weren't terribly nice to us. Plus the blue of Argentina's jerseys match our eyes.

When you look at our pictures from the trip, you can see me looking shittier and shittier and shittier as the days go on. I was, of course, getting sicker and sicker and sicker.

(And seriously: who has an eye cream recommendation?)

I loved the Round of 16 games that we attended. They were more intense. There was more anticipation in the air. While I could sit and watch group play for days upon days upon days, they didn't compare to the games in the knockout rounds. It was do or die for Mexico and Argentina.

Argentina won, 3-1.

And, at the stadium, Meg and I ate meat pies.

And then we had to go home.

Well, that isn't entirely true. We went back to the hotel. We packed. We squeezed in one last shopping trip. We traveled and traveled and traveled and got our biltong confiscated at customs and and thought that maybe we'd never arrive at home.

But we did.

Mom was waiting for us just past security. She looked so excited to see us and, of course, we gave her big hugs.

And do you know what she told us?

"You two stink."

I guess that's what 22 hours of travel will do to you.

Chances and Confessions

“Take chances!”

It is Ashley’s favorite thing to say to me.

“Just stop thinking so much and take a chance!”

We were sitting at the bar last night – she’s home from North Carolina for a few days – when she reminded me that it was okay to take a few more chances. The new job is great, yes, but I should not stop there.

At one point in our conversation, she asked me if I’d taken any other chances lately. If I had broken from my mold and did something risky and uncharacteristic.

“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” I began. I bit my lip and, in a few short sentences, spilled about me and The Coach.

It is complicated, you see, because Ashley made out with The Coach a couple of years ago. And she knew that he had been texting me and calling me and she told me to go for it – way more than once – but I’m not exactly sure how excited she was when I told her that it actually happened. Not that she was mad or anything. But I don’t think that she was thrilled.

I’m glad that I told her, though. I felt like a horrible friend for not calling and confessing to that situation the minute it happened. So at least that part is done with.

But is that enough chance for her? No. A new job and a random bad decision of a boy and STILL she expects more from me.

And then she asked me about my trip to Switzerland and I could deliver.

I am not packed, I told her. I don’t really even know what the weather is going to be.

And I need to find my passport. Which I think might be at Mom and Dad’s house.

And I’m flying into Zurich and, eventually, I need to make my way to Lausanne and I have not even glanced at so much as a train schedule. Nor have I looked at a guide book or a forum or called to give my credit card company the heads up that I’ll be leaving the country. I haven’t researched the train that Liz and I will be taking from Lausanne to Milan, where we’ll be spending the weekend. I think that I want to go to Geneva for a day but I don’t have even a vague plan of what I would want to do there. Or anywhere else in Switzerland. Or Milan.

I spent a year planning last summer’s trip to South Africa and, for this trip: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Isn’t that a chance? Isn’t that a refreshing departure from the norm?

I still have a ways to go, Ashley insists. But the new job and the random-bad-decision-boy-who-may-or-may-not-be-in-a-relationship and the unplanned trip are a fine start.

“I told you that 2011 was going to be your year,” she said.

Seems like a lot of people are telling me that.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Customer service extravaganza

Mom and I made a quick trip to Macy’s on Sunday morning. We found ourselves in housewares – as we usually do – and, even though we hadn’t planned it, it was not long until I was picking gifts off of the registry for Maria’s bridal shower.

It was a smart move. With my trip overseas and starting a new job and all of the general craziness of my life, it made sense to take the opportunity and check that obligation off of the list.

I chose a cast iron casserole and a few matching trivets, which I’ll give her along with something small and pretty and not registered for (I’m thinking stationary with her new last name on it). I hauled it to the register along with a Mother’s Day present that I grabbed on the sly: a flex edge beater for her KitchenAid.

After I bought all of that, I had a bag and my coffee in one hand and the casserole (weighing in at approximately two tons) in the other and – oooh! Look, Mommy! Look at those dishes. I love those dishes.

And so we bought those dishes. They were a total steal and I’m pretty sick of the dishes that I have and, oh, why not? So we pick out the place settings and the accessories and get them purchased and then we find out that Macy’s no longer has package pickup services. Nor do they have carts or baskets or lackeys to utilize to get your merchandise to your car. And also we were on the third floor. And had two, maybe three, trips of merchandise just sitting on the counter.

So, we were totally screwed and apparently this was our problem? Like, they were totally doing us the favor of selling us the goods and their responsibility ended there. What do they care if we ever make it to the car? And shouldn’t we be thanking them for the opportunity to get a bit of extra exercise?

Here’s what we had to do in order to get the dishes and the accessories and the casserole and the trivets out to my car:
1. Wave down another mother-daughter duo who had a pair of tabletop grills on some sort of rolling contraption.
2. Beg mother-daughter duo for use of their rolling contraption, which apparently they had to beg the fine folk in the fine china department for use of.
3. Follow mother-daughter duo to the elevator and out to their car. (First going to the wrong parking lot, of course.)
4. Bring rolling contraption back to the third floor.
5. Go back down to the first floor.
6. And then we were supposed to deliver the cart straight back to fine china on the third floor, but, seriously, like that was even going to happen. We just brought it back inside the store.

It was a lot of hoops to jump through in order to have the pleasure of giving Macy’s our money.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Lacking in filter, but not in cake

Because I am awesome, I made a chocolate cake for my work nemesis’s birthday.

We had quite a few people from outside of the office in the building this morning, so the cake that I made didn’t go quite as far as it usually does. We had just enough pieces to cover everyone. Minus me. There were two pieces left when I left the lunchroom (where we’d gathered to sing and be merry) with a piece of cake in my hand. Being a good little minion, I was delivering a piece to my boss, who was stuck on a conference call.

I ran right into a coworker who had just arrived. I put the plate into his hand. I took the one slice left and gave it to my boss and do you know how many pieces of cake that means that I got? ZERO.

I decided that it was okay that I didn’t get a piece of cake because I did take a generous spoonful of frosting and shove it directly into my face at approximately 6:28 this morning and also it is the right thing to do. I brought the cake. I probably should have brought more cake. But I didn’t so, as a result, I went without. No big deal. I would raid the candy dish to compensate.

My boss emerged from his office a while later. “That was good cake,” he said. “Lots of frosting,” he continued. “When you brought it in, I thought that it sort of looked like a pile of doggy doo.”

“That’s really nice,” I retorted, running my mouth because I could. “I certainly appreciate you telling me that the cake I made looks like shit...”

“Not shit! Doggy doo.”

“Same thing,” I replied. “Do you know that I didn’t even get a piece of that cake that you told me looks like shit?”

Who says that? Who tells somebody (in front of other people, I should add) that the cake that she made looks like shit? He has no filter. And I am honestly going to miss the guy when I don’t miss him anymore, but seriously. What a tool.
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