Monday, December 31, 2012

Brain Dump: NYE Edition

I will take a bit of time to reflect in 2012. Just not right now. Right now I should be getting ready to leave to go to Lucy and Chet's house to ring 2013.

But I can't resist sitting down with my laptop for a few minutes and dumping out my head.

* * *

Here's how my day has gone so far: I went to Mom and Dad's and ate pancakes. I went with my mom, my grandma and Emma to see Silver Linings Playbook and it was excellent. I got a massage. I cooked for Lucy and Chet's party while having a dance party in the kitchen. I successfully unclogged the garbage disposal.

After I blog, I'll make a quick attempt at being presentable. Then it is off to Lucy and Chet's house, where we have big plans. And by big plans, I mean we've made nine different types of dips (seriously) and have a TV series to start and some sugar cookies to decorate. Also possibly another super-secret project that I will write about at another time.

* * *

The Coach is gone.

It is easier, all of this. The here and gone and here and gone. I think it is easier on him, too. He's usually pretty weird and annoying about saying goodbye, doing everything in his power to avoid it.

I got the goodbye that I didn't get in July. I appreciate it. I returned the favor by not crying, whining or being otherwise difficult or annoying.

Everyone wins.

* * *

Liz is gone for the next week. Where is Liz? Oh, she just went to Paris for New Year's Eve.

Yeah, I know.

* * *

I should feel weirder about spending New Year's Eve with my best friend and her husband (who happens to be one of my best friends, too),  shouldn't I? Oh well.

* * *

If you're watching college football tomorrow, I highly suggest you root for my Wolverines. Start your year off being awesome.

* * *

Oh! Get this. Hockey team dinner on Friday night and who shows up? ALEXANDER. Who sits right next to me? ALEXANDER. Who didn't care? ME. It was half awkward and half amusing and my hair looked really great so whatever. I'm not certain that I was ever interested in anything but the attention but even the attention isn't exciting anymore.

Boring.

Next cute boy who wants to distract me from The Coach, step right up.

* * *

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's talk resolutions and what you did tonight soon, okay? I want to hear about everything you're up to and everything you have planned.

* * *

2013. Bring it.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

30 for 30: #11

Way back when (October) I decided to answer 30 questions to celebrate my 30th birthday. Now that I'm nearly 30 years and three months old, I thought I'd get back to it. And, if you do so desire, there's still time to ask a question, too!

#11/30 -- from p2

What were your 30 most memorable moments in the last 30 years?

I'm not quite sure I answered your question, p2. The following list is more a list of the 30 most defining moments in my last 30 years, not the 30 most memorable. This list is a list of events that were critical in shaping me, but not necessarily what I would qualify as memorable. (I feel like a memorable event has a good story that is attached to it and that's not always the case.)

1. Meg being born I would not be the same person if I did not have Meg. I would not be the same person if I wasn't the oldest sibling. I would not be the same person if I did not have a sister.

2. Acceptance into UM Good but not great student, a legacy, is the first in her class to be accepted into the best school in the state. I thought a lot more of myself after receiving that acceptance letter.

3. South Africa A monstrosity of a trip to plan. And I planned it successfully. Experiencing South Africa changed my worldview. I learned a lot about myself executing the planning for that trip and I learned a lot about myself when I was on that trip, too.

4. Being named captain of high school soccer team Everything I had and everything I was in high school revolved around the soccer team. I was a soccer player. I was nothing else. Being named captain of the team was very, very validating. But knowing that my coach thought of me as a leader - even though I was quiet, even though I wasn't terribly popular like some of my teammates - was what really stuck with me.

5. Starting a blog I've written it before, I will write it again: I do not know who I would be if not for this blog as a place to sort it all out. And I am so grateful that I have this place to chronicle my 20s and beyond.

6. Meeting Lucy My best friend is the best best friend.

7. Travelling overseas for the first time It was for a soccer tournament. I was 14. And I still can remember standing in the streets of Amsterdam, looking around myself and realizing how big the world really is.

8. The lengthy debacle that was Colin While that relationship was a complete, lengthy, complicated gong show, it needed to happen. I needed those experiences. I needed that heartbreak.

9. Speaking at Grandma’s funeral I don't consider myself an extrovert. I certainly don't hog the spotlight. It's not something I would normally do (or even consider). But when Grandma died in 2003, I was compelled to speak on behalf of her grandchildren. I did it eloquently and in my own words. I still remember looking up and seeing my cousin Danielle smiling at me. I still remember what my uncle said to me later that day.

10. Lucy’s wedding When Lucy got married, I learned that I could step up. I could throw her a wedding shower, I could make favors, I could set up the venue. I was so afraid that I would lose her to Chet and to married life and I could have withdrawn from our friendship. I didn't. I'm glad.

11. The Coach He started out as a coworker and became a pretty big deal in my life. He's challenged me, he's challenged my assumptions and my expectations and what I believed to be true. Whatever happens between us and however this ultimately ends up, The Coach has left an impression on me.

12. Aunt Marie’s amputation Cutting off part to save the whole. It isn't a metaphor.

13. Studying in Denver I lived and studied in Denver for a spell after finishing up at UM. Having attended college so close to home, Denver was my first real opportunity to do it all on my own. My parents didn't visit. I didn't make a lot of close friends. And somehow I figured it out.

14. Puking in Liz’s shoe on my birthday Always cautious, always doing the right thing, the birthday when I got trashed and barfed in my cousin Liz's shoe marked the long overdue beginning of giving myself a damn break instead of having to be so perfect and so in control.

15. Learning to love fitness In college, I didn't work out. I didn't know how to work out. I was still figure skating and I walked everywhere and that was enough. When I finished college, Meg and I joined a kickboxing gym and that's when I learned what it was like to be in shape and how much better it feels than being out of shape.

16. Uncle Rich's death My dad's older brother died when I was a freshman in high school. It was the first time I saw my dad cry. It was the first time I had been to a funeral. It was a scary, confusing time that solidified my closeness to my cousins. We have so many stories -- funny stories -- from that weekend we were in Cincinnati for Uncle Rich's funeral. We needed one another. We still do.

17. Moving in 5th grade When my family moved, we moved back to my mom and dad's hometown. Because we moved, I was closer (physically and emotionally) to my grandparents. Because we moved, I got to grow up on a lake. At the time, I hated my parents for relocating us and for making me go to a new school and meet new friends; it was the best choice they've ever made.

18. The very intense friendship and subsequent breakup with a friend, Jessica Our friendship sort of tainted my entire college experience and that I’ve never quite found the words (or the insight) to write about it. One day.

19. Aunt Marie’s death It was so hard. It is still so hard.

20. Returning to soccer after a four-year absence I didn't play soccer for four years. And one day I decided to go up to the local indoor soccer facility and sign myself up for a team. Can you even imagine me not playing soccer? Can you?

21. Working at summer camp In the summer of 2002 -- between my sophomore and junior years of college -- I worked at a really traditional summer camp in Pennsylvania. I don't know why I thought I wanted to do that. I cried when my mom dropped me off at camp. I missed Meg's 16th birthday. I was miserable.

22. Tackling graduate school as a legitimate adult who works full time Granted, it wasn't a terribly challenging program, but I still managed to work 40+ hours of week, go to class, get my work done, never sleep and come out on the other side with a degree. More proof that I am tougher than I give myself credit for.

23. The birth of Lucy and Chet’s son, Baby A Much like Lucy's wedding, I thought Baby A would change things. He did. For the better. I didn't know that I had the capacity to instantly love someone like I instantly loved Baby A.

24. Figuring out that Dad was cheating on Mom and everything that followed They were some of the worst months of my life. Within those months, learned that I will do just about anything for my family. I learned the power of forgiveness. I learned that nothing is perfect.

25. Gaining a lot of empathy and a lot of understanding of mental illness through my cousins Emma and Danielle Having two very close, very dear family members struggle with mental illness really colors the way that I look at other people's problems.

26. My college job, coaching skating I will never have a job that I love as much as I loved that job.

27. A bad concussion It takes being sick for a long time to understand what it's like to be sick for a long time.

28. Finally, finally, finally quitting the job that I got right out of college It was as hard to leave as it was hard to go to work there every day. There's something about that first job, right? You care way, way too much and then you outgrow your position and then you're stuck figuring out who and what you are and need. I grew up a lot when I held that job. I learned a lot about business, a lot about myself as an employee and a lot about how much schoolwork I could squeeze in when I'm on the clock.

29. Uncle Alan quitting the family It's been -- I don't know -- maybe 15 years since Uncle Alan stopped coming to family events and cut his sisters and my grandparents out of his life for reasons they were never told. Witnessing what one decision by one person can do (which, at some points, nearly destroyed the family) influenced how I make my life choices. Maybe I would be more willing to take a risk and do what is right for me at the expense of others if it wasn't for Uncle Alan. But I just can't stand the thought of hurting my family. I can't stand it. 

30. Saturday, October 2, 1982 I was born on a sunny fall day. You can't have a story without a beginning.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Duplicate Gift

My dad's family has this thing for chips and dip.

Just regular ol' potato chips and a sour cream based dip. Put them out at a family gathering and we're all instantly drawn to it. Regardless of what other delicacies may be offered up, we're all huddled around the chips and dip, throwing elbows to get the last handful.

It's classy.

When my original Christmas exchange gift fell through, I decided to find a chip/dip bowl set and wrap it up with a couple of bags of potato chips and some French onion soup mix for easy dip creation. I was proud of myself for being clever. Who in the family would not be thrilled to get two bags of chips, let alone the soup mix and the bowl set, too? It was the ultimate generic gift for my dad's side of the family.

On Christmas day, I was scoping out the other exchange gifts when I spotted two gifts that looked like two puffy, wrapped pillows. Or two bags of chips. And there was a third gift - a box - that went with them.

That's when I knew that I was not the only member of my family with The Best Idea.

But there was no turning back. (Because OpenSky didn't ship my first present, as you may recall.) (Still bitter!)

My gift was opened first and, when it was, my cousin/roommate Liz sends me a look across the room.

This is what her look said: yep, me too.

We never discussed our gifts. We hadn't recently had a conversation about chips and dip. Until the night before when we feasted together on our favorite delicacy, we hadn't shared a bowl of chips and dip since the summertime.

And yet we bought the exact same present.

Is this what happens when you live with someone else? Your good ideas are transferred to your roommate through bedroom walls or perhaps via a shared carton of milk? 

I was totally prepared for our periods to sync up. I was not prepared to subconsciously share my thoughts.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My favorite picture from Christmas

My dad took this picture of Meg and me on Christmas morning.

Please note our matching pajamas.

(I am 30 years old. Meg is 26.)

Please note that I am reading Meg Bialosky's Christmas, a picture book we loved when we were kids.


Please note the snow outside. We had a white Christmas.

Please note my complete lack of shame in posting this photo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Memory

It was Christmas Eve and I was talking to The Coach.

I was going to my aunt's Christmas Eve party; he was spending a quiet night at home with his parents. His siblings (and their spouses and their babies) weren't to arrive until the next day.

I made the offhanded suggestion that he read Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" that night. It's my favorite Christmas story. Perhaps even my favorite short story. The ending always makes me cry, I warned him. But, really, I told him, you should read it.

Making the suggestion felt a little silly. The Coach loves Christmastime and everything surrounding the holiday: he's an aficionado of the movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol, he likes all of the classic recordings of Christmas songs the best. He is a Christmas nerd in the most endearing ways. I was certain that he would like "A Christmas Memory" and I was equally certain that he wouldn't actually read it.

I made the suggestion anyway.

Then I read it myself. In the car en route to my aunt's house, I read "A Christmas Memory." And I cried at the end just like I knew that I would.

"A Christmas Memory" left me happy and sad and I read it again on the drive home.

After making preparations for brunch the next morning, after opening one gift at my mother's insistence, after the house was finally quiet and I was the only one who was still awake, The Coach called to tell me how much he loved "A Christmas Memory."

Like I knew that he would.

That's The Coach who I adore. Smart, funny, thoughtful. So much more than the job he allows to define him. So much more than the job he allows to overtake him. So much more than the pretty face and the flashy career.  

The man who spent his Christmas Eve reading my favorite short story is The Coach who I have adored for two years.

Two years.

It's December 26, again. It's been two years from the beginning. Exactly. I still have no idea what I'm doing. And I still have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that, most likely, it won't be with him.

I know that I need to end this entirely. For good. Forever.

Then he goes and reads "A Christmas Memory."

And I have to start all over.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Halfway through

Hello from halfway through my Christmas!

So far, so good. Brunch with my dad's side of the family is always fun. As the instigator of our breaking from tradition and playing an exchange game instead of our standard gift giving, I was a little nervous. But it all worked out. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, too.

Remind me to tell you all the story of the rather amusing duplicate gift.

And remind me to tell you about what The Coach did yesterday to make my small heart grow three sizes that day.




My mom's family is on their way over for dinner. The guest of honor is my cousin Mara's daughter -- her second Christmas but her first with us. I can't wait to see my grandma with her. And maybe today is the day she'll meet her betrothed, too -- Lucy, Chet and Baby A might stop in for dessert.

This Christmas is not the loud, extravagant Christmas that we have had in the past, but that suits me just fine. I have loved every second.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa?

Silly Brown Dog likes to sleep by the tree. She's trying to catch a glimpse of Santa, I know it.
 
Cookies, fudge, applesauce, cranberries, apple torte, grocery store, wrapping, shopping, visiting. It's a hard, busy life for a Christmas elf.
 
Almost done. Almost there. Almost Christmas.
 
If you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful one. If you don't, have a fabulous Monday and Tuesday.
 
And if you have a second to tell me about what you're doing and who you're doing it with, I am nosey and like to know these things so that I can potentially invite myself to your holiday celebrations in the future.
 
Just be warned that I will eat all of your Christmas cookies.
 
Like for serious all of them.
 
It's how I get into the holiday spirit. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 12 was a long time ago

I am a very bitter Christmas elf.
 
We're doing a full-family Christmas exchange game thingie this year, instead of permitting our aunts and uncles to buy us gifts. (It's a little silly. We're all old.)
 
I'm organizing this, as well as everything else, so it's a bit of a gong show so all I've really done is tell my parents, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins to show up on Christmas morning with a $30 generic type gift to use as a pawn in my yet-to-be-determined game.
 
I was so, so excited when I found this colorful knife set on OpenSky. It was generic enough to be an acceptable gift for a guy or for a girl. The colors are really fun. Everyone needs knives. And it was on sale for a mere $25 which meant I could run up to Ikea and get a couple of cheap cutting boards to go with and I would look like a shopping genius.
 
So, I placed the order on December 12. And I waited and waited and waited. The website indicated that it could be up to a week to ship, so I waited a little bit more. And also their website indicated that all orders placed by December 18 would arrive by Christmas and I was 6 days ahead of the deadline so no worries.
 
Until last Thursday. I tweeted and emailed OpenSky about my order. WTF is going on? I asked, sweetly. Oh, one customer service rep answered, it should ship within 24 hours. You'll get notification when it's been sent. Oh, the other replied, we'll overnight it in 24-48 hours. You will receive an email when it is sent.
 
I waited and waited and yesterday just before 5:00 pm, I called and the girl was like "hasn't been shipped. Won't be until after Christmas."
 
 
And I was like "CANCEL THAT ORDER RAGE RAGE RAGE."
 
Actually I was quite nice to the customer service lady and when I got off the phone with her I sent an email about how disappointed I was because, yes, disappointed for sure. Not only would I not be giving the perfect gift at my family exchange, but now I had to go out and find a perfect replacement gift for the damn exchange and it was 5:00 pm on December 22. Rude.
 
I went shopping -- with Emma -- last night. I bought a replacement. I kind of like it. (I kind of liked the knives more.) The whole thing took approximately 6 weeks off of my life. And I don't even have a set of colorful knives to show for it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ho, ho, hold on

A tradition that started long before I began working here, everyone in my department exchanges little gifts.

I bought my coworkers a box of Frango chocolates. Another coworker got us Ghirardelli bars. Another bought little plates from a local artist. My boss got us all gift cards.

And, today, I came in to this gift on my desk.


My very own portion control plate.

Which might have been a statement about all of the office gifts of chocolate. It is honestly the funniest, most random gift I have ever received. And totally getting re-gifted to some poor sucker in our family Christmas gift exchange. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Christmas

I'm looking forward to Christmas. And it's been a long time since I have looked forward to Christmas.

Christmas 2009 was just after Aunt Marie died.
Christmas 2010 was in the midst of the mess my father made when he cheated on my mom.
Christmas 2011 was in the middle of The Coach's first visit home after taking a job 2,000+ miles away and I didn't quite know how to handle it, it was just after I had moved in with Liz and I was feeling like a loser and a failure for being 29 and having a roommate, and I felt poor.

Christmas 2012 feels like a holiday worth anticipating. Money doesn't feel so tight. The situation with The Coach doesn't feel so confusing. Shopping doesn't feel so stressful. Time doesn't feel so binding.

Emma is spending Christmas in New York with her sister and that helps immensely. Avoiding having to spend my entire holiday running interference between her rude behavior and the rest of our relatives feels like the difference, my friends. It feels like all the difference.

Having four days off for the holiday feels like the difference.

The Coach feels like the difference. His intense love for Christmas is one of his nerdiest and most endearing qualities. He sang me Christmas carols on Friday. He watched A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight. He told me all about his favorite versions of A Christmas Carol. He straightened the star on our tree. His enthusiasm for Christmas is catching and feels like all the difference.

I see Christmas on the calendar and I don't feel dread. I'm even letting myself get a little excited. It's a lot of things, but it's my attitude. I know in my heart that Christmas is going to be good this year and that feels like all the difference.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Better when I'm busy

I baked up 60 Rolo cookies before work this morning. I started on a double batch of macaroni and cheese, too. I always do better when I'm busy.

I did a load of laundry and I lugged my hockey bag in from my car. I made my bed and I listened to NPR. I do love NPR.

I had one cup of coffee even though I wanted three or four. I had a bowl of soup because soup is warm and I was cold and oatmeal didn't sound appealing. I had planned to fix a chip in my nail polish but I never got around to it.

I took a shower and I did my hair. I used a new curling iron. My old curling iron fried on Friday morning. And fried off a chunk of hair with it. Hair curling this morning was much less traumatic.

I kept busy. I always do better when I'm busy.

Work is hectic. My wrist is either sore or numb, I cannot quite tell. I wish that I could fix that chip in my nail polish at my desk. I brought soup for lunch, too. Turkey noodle. My mom made it.

I wish that I were a little more busy. Busy in a demanding way that encompasses my workday. It's quiet here now and I can't throw myself into a project that will occupy my every thought and now I am thinking, thinking, thinking.

I don't do good when I am stuck in my own head.

I always do better when I'm busy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

All in one day

I saw The Coach on Friday.

I spent a spontaneous afternoon with The Coach on Friday and it was, honestly, it was wonderful. He and I: we're all sorts of dysfunctional -- I know -- and it doesn't make sense that he's still a part of my life -- I know -- but there is something there that I can't describe and I can't articulate.

If Friday had been a normal day, I would have written out every detail. Every sweet thing he said. Each time we laughed. I would have written it so that maybe you could start to understand what I cannot describe.

But Friday wasn't a normal day. As content as I was in my own little world, the world beyond the stretch of my arms was horrific. Beyond horrific. There needs to be a word that is reserved for only the truly worst. A word that we can pull out on a day like Friday but only on a day like Friday. We can't use it to describe a hard test or a frustrating day or a bad game. Only on a day like Friday.

(And may we never again have a need to use that special word that describes a day like Friday.)

What a horrible, ugly, exquisite, beautiful world we all live in. What a contradiction it all is.

I had the best day on Friday.

I had the worst day on Friday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Everything

I mentioned this yesterday. I'm still thinking about it.

I'm really sick of doing everything.

Example: we went to Chicago in November. I booked the hotel. I figured out where we picked up our race packets. I mapped out how to get to the race start.

Example: we decide to host Mother's Day brunch. I nag my cousins until they commit to what they're bringing. I make sure the house is ready for guests.

Example: we want to change up Christmas. I make a proposal. I contact everyone with my idea. I confirm with everyone that it is a go. And, on Christmas, I will execute the plan.

Example: we like to make my grandma a photo book every year. I send out an email with a theme and beg for photographic contributions. I put the book together. I order the book. I wrap the book. I put everyone's name on it.

It exhausts me. I like planning. I am good at it. But I am much less good at it and I enjoy it a great deal less when I don't get any help. And when it is just assumed that I will take care of it.

Which I will.

But I don't want to. I truly don't want to. Somebody else initiate something for Grandma. Somebody else make an effort.

Nobody is, though. They're all just looking at me. Waiting for me to start. And finish.

Which I do. Resentfully. Because somebody has to. I'm just really tired of that somebody always being me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Other Important Topics

I did not work from 1:30 pm on Friday through 12:30 pm today. I really like not working. I am really good at not working. I got things done. I took showers every day. (I think.) I helped Lucy bake 10 dozen cookies. I bought Christmas presents. I painted my nails. I ran.

And I felt like there were not enough hours in the day. Just like I feel on the days when I do go to work.

Based on this experiment, I can now draw the conclusion that, yes, there really are too few hours in every day.

It's good to have a definitive answer to that question. It's opened up my intellectual real estate to think about other important topics, including:

Right to Work legislation in Michigan: I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. I don't think I will write about Right to Work, however. There's a reason I don't blog about politics. It's because my political beliefs seem so personal.

My 30 for 30 Project: I did not finish this and I am ashamed but I am going to finish it and I will feel joy. And you will all be so proud of me.

Boys: including, but not limited to, The Coach. He's coming home for Christmas and I sort of hope he never suggests we get together.*

Coffee: I have been drinking too much coffee lately and my stomach just got the memo and it is very mad at me. I knew that this was coming. But I am still so sad. Coffee is basically the liquid equivalent of The Coach in my life. So bad. So good. Damnit!

I Always Have To Do Everything and It Is Exhausting: My cousins, my sister and I decide we want to change up Christmas a little bit and not have our aunts and uncles buy us presents because we're old and that's silly. Who has to come up with an alternative? Me. Who needs to contact everyone about the alternative? Me. Who has to double-check that everyone is cool with the alternative? Me. Who needs to make all of the arrangements for our alternative? Me. I used to thrive on being the ringleader for everything. But seriously? Someone else needs to do something. I am exhausted.

EMMA IS GOING TO NEW YORK FOR CHRISTMAS: I'm sorry for being thrilled about this because I should want the whole family to be together for Christmas, but I am thrilled about this. 

My Father Has No Hobbies and Doesn't Like Anything: Makes shopping for him a slight challenge.

*Like, in any way. Not just the naked way. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Today could have been very different

If I had made another choice, today would have been very different.

I wouldn't have spent the day in yoga pants. My alarm clock would have been set much earlier than 8:00 am. I wouldn't have spent four hours in Lucy's kitchen, chatting and baking three batches of cookies. Today would have been very different if I had made another choice.

Today was the day I was supposed to start that new job. If I had taken that new job.

I wouldn't have slept last night. And I wouldn't have let myself stay up to watch the Lions game, either. I would have spent far too much time picking out an outfit. If today was my first day at a new job, my nails would be polished.

Instead I sipped a latte and made Rolo cookies. Tickled Baby A. Stopped in to have my hairdresser fix the random chunk of dark hair that came out of my last appointment. I crashed on the couch, fully intending to take a nap and never quite getting there. I went to the gym. I did laundry.

I didn't spend the day filling out paperwork and learning procedures and being paraded around to my new coworkers.

I didn't get a new desk and a new title.

I wore yoga pants and I didn't bother with any makeup. Because I made a choice. That choice was to go with my gut.

I didn't take the job that I would have started today.

That's because there's a better job out there for me.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Is there something in the air?

It feels like everyone has the sads, the angrys or the frustrateds. Like everyone is a little anxious and a little bit on edge.

Maybe I'm just projecting.

I am most certainly sad, angry, frustrated, anxious and on edge. I am also drinking far too much coffee and I do not think that is is helping.

But maybe everyone else is feeling the same way, too. I swear that I wasn't the only one exhaling anxiety at Macy's today. Is this just what the holiday season feels like for adults? Like you're in a chokehold?

I took the next two days off of work. The timing is great. I need the next two days. I have a few things that I should get done - just errands - but nothing absolutely critical. I might just bake cookies with Lucy tomorrow morning and blow the rest of the day off. I might not get dressed on Tuesday. Maybe I'll accomplish a touch of online shopping. I don't think I can handle the mall.

It seems silly to feel wound so tightly. I had a good weekend. I only worked a half day on Friday. Saturday was Christmas tree chopping and Hanukkah. All I did today was watch a healthy amount of soccer on television, scan pictures for my Grandma's Christmas present, make a quick trip to the mall with Meg, eat cheese and chocolate fondue for dinner and lose another hockey game with my lethargic team. (I swear that list makes the day seem more busy than it was.)

I don't feel like I need more sleep. I don't feel like I'm too busy. It just feels like my heart is beating hard and like I'm breathing through a straw. And that it isn't going to get any better until January.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

A fun day

It is family tradition to cut down our Christmas tree.

We've never had a fake tree. We've never just picked one off of the lot. It always has to be cut down. My dad insists on it.

We met this morning. All four of us. Maybe I'm 30. Maybe Meg's 26. Neither of us have made our own traditions. Not yet.

Not just yet.

So, for now we continue our family traditions. The ones that we grew up with. Pie Night. Cutting down the Christmas tree.

My dad, ever morbid, insisted that Meg cut down the trees this year. "You have to learn. One day I'll be dead."

(We all knew that crawling on the ground to cut down the tree would make him dizzy. Almost two months later and he's still having symptoms from his concussion.)

We cut down a tree for Grandma, too. Because that's always tradition. Grandma likes a small, skinny tree. A tree just like her.

And we brought Ellie because she likes an adventure.

Two trees later -- I'm always amazed at how little time it actually takes to pick out a tree and get it packed up on the roof of the car -- we were back on the road.

We had hamburgers at our favorite college-town hangout. And we split up. Meg to Canada for a hockey game. Mom and Dad needed to deliver Grandma's tree. And I had Hanukkah gifts to wrap up for Lucy, Chet and Baby A.

The first night of Hanukkah is tonight. And I might have spent half of the day getting a Christmas tree, but I'll spend tonight celebrating the Festival of Lights.

Life is so deliciously diverse.

Happy Hanukkah.

Happy Saturday.

Happy everything.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

What I'm currently loving on

My coworker, B: I have always really liked B, but lately he’s catapulted right up to the top of my list. B and I are eerily similar, so part of the reason I love him is because he thinks exactly the same way I do so I can count on him to agree on me in almost every circumstance and also be funny while he’s reaffirming my brilliance. B was a fantastic sounding board when I was mulling over that job offer; I still think about what he told me that day – “you can do better” – and smile. Management recently got the idea that we need to work in different departments and different locations, so today, I worked in another building while a staff person from that building (a known flake and general pain in the ass) worked in my place. B emailed me halfway through the day: in no universe is this a fair trade – not that one is even attempted/suggested. just sayin. He is just a dependable, honest, good guy. And he looks out for me.

Taylor Swift’s "I Knew You Were Trouble": This is my jam. It is so gloriously poppy and catchy. Is it about Taylor Swift and John Mayer? Or is it about me and The Coach? It is so spot on applicable to what I went through with The Coach that I am pretty sure that she is a blog reader. (HEY, TSWIFT!)

Ellie Goulding’s "Anything Could Happen": More catchy pop. It’s like white bread for the ears. I can’t stop myself. I first heard it when a little giddy because a streak of shitty days was finally over. And then when I saw that it was used in the Girls season 2 trailer, I was totally done. Want to invite me to a dance party? Turn it up.

Tights: I love tights because tights allow me to wear skirts in the wintertime without freezing my ass off. And tights are more comfortable than pants. And tights come in fun, subtle prints. And if I am wearing tights, I can wear a skirt that is too short and not feel like a harlot. (Fact: I’m consistently a little overdressed at work, compared to my coworkers, so wearing a skirt – let alone a short one – sometimes feels like a ploy for attention. Even though it isn’t. I just like to look nice. I wore heels on Sunday and one of the department heads labeled them my “hussy shoes.”)

Essie polish in Chinchilly: I’ve been loving on this color lately. It’s subtle, it’s fun, it’s just different enough. I get compliments on it all the time. Except when it’s all chipped up and looks like hell. Which does happen on occasion. That occasion being every time I paint my nails. The energy to paint my nails in the first place rarely translates over to energy/desire to keep up my nails.

Coffee: I usually try to limit my coffee consumption, but lately I’ve just gone all out and I’m drinking it when I want to drink it. And it tastes so good. I’m sticking to black coffee, or maybe with a touch of skim milk, so that I’m not completely filling my body with crap. But my stomach hates coffee in mass quantities. It’s only a matter of time until I have a cup that leaves me doubled over and convinced that I have an ulcer. But, until that happens, I’m going to love it. Every cup. Every drop.

Sirius XM station 36: The best thing I ever did was wean myself off of Cosmo Radio (guilty pleasure, loved it but it totally made me an annoying, insane, insecure girl who only obsessed over a certain boy-who-will-not-be-named) and start listening to music on Sirius. My current favorite is 36, the alternative station. I would never have labeled the music that I liked as alternative but, lo and behold, I love 95% of what they play. Which makes me feel edgier and cooler than I really am.

Your turn, you guys. There’s nothing that gets me quite like recommendations from the interwebs. Turn me on to something new. What are you loving?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Crisis Averted: compliments of the cloud

I had a bit of technology trauma monopolize my evening. Charming. I always love when my computer bites it or my phone isn't working or whatnot. I am immediately, instantly in a state of anxiety and distress that will not lift until I have reconciled the problem.

Tonight was no different.

I accidentally deleted all of my text messages to/from The Coach.

I was deleting text messages while thinking about how awful I would feel if I deleted all of my text messages from him and I DELETED ALL OF MY TEXT MESSAGES FROM HIM.

My trip to the gym was immediately aborted as I attempted to figure out how to restore the texts.

And so I spent my evening - when I should have been running and I should have been packing my lunch tomorrow and I should have been making progress in the book I need to have read by Thursday morning - in a state of panic.

When I think with my brain, I know that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because they're just a bunch of text messages.

When I think with my heart, those text messages are everything.

That thread of text messages dates back to February, 2011. Before he'd ever even kissed me. Before this ever got complicated. Before he moved. Before I fell. When it was nothing but flirting. When it was still just fun.

I couldn't let them go.

Not without a fight.

Fortunately, I had my phone set up to regularly backup to the cloud. Mercifully, my phone backed up this morning. It was only a matter of making sure everything on my phone was saved 10 times over, being brave enough to reset my computer back to zero and setting it back up using the magical backup file saved to the equally magical cloud that's floating out there in the virtual heavens.

Three hours of terror and only one glass of wine.

I learned two things tonight. I learned how to wipe my phone clean and restore it (and the deleted text messages!) from a backup on the cloud.

I also learned that maybe I still care about The Coach a little more than I want to admit.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Addendum

A blurry, amusing photo of the coffee shop dance party that made me so deliriously happy that it inspired a whole post last week.


And enough visual proof of the sad, sad state of my hair to get me off my ass and on the phone for a hair appointment. Wednesday morning can't come soon enough. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Delicious trouble

During the 2011 holiday season, Liz and I came across the perfect punch recipe. It takes approximately 9 seconds to prepare, it is remarkably tasty and it's pretty, too.

It's getting to be that time of year, so I thought I would in case any of you are looking for recipes for boozy holiday deliciousness.

8 (1/4-inch-thick) frozen orange slices for garnish
2/3 cup frozen cranberries, for garnish
3 cups chilled cranberry juice
3/4 cup chilled Cointreau
2 (750-milliliter) bottles chilled brut sparkling wine or champagne

Basically, all you need to do is freeze the oranges and cranberries, chill the liquids and dump it all together. Drink slowly while watching everyone else get bombed -- it catches up with you right quick.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yay + woah

I had a dream this week that Lucy was pregnant again.

Apparently I have a career as a psychic to fall back on.

Because Lucy is pregnant again.

I am thrilled for her and Chet and Baby A. Lucy is an awesome mom and Chet is an awesome dad; this is nothing but good news.

Personally, I can't imagine being pregnant again already but that's why I'm the aunt and not the mom. I would be overwhelmed with having babies 18 months apart, but not spoiling two babies 18 months apart? Please. That will come easy. What do I know about having one baby, let alone multiple babies, anyway? Less than nothing. I'll focus on being excited.

I would be lying if I didn't say that it still feels weird. I am so far behind. Not even close.

I know that probably sounds selfish but at least it's honest. Big life events bring it on. If Ashley got engaged tomorrow or if Liz got a huge promotion or if Meg bought a house, I would feel the same way. Mostly happy. Slightly selfish.

This being my second time at auntiehood, I know that this feeling wears off quickly.

And then I'll be left with nothing but joy. Overwhelming joy.

What a lucky baby. What a lucky family.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Relaxing and me don't mix

"I have things I need to be doing," I told Liz from the comfort of the couch tonight. "I had all of these things I was going to do and I was going to skip going to the gym in order to get them done."

I wanted to apply for a few jobs. I wanted to make a serious dent in the book I am reading.

"Stay there. You never relax," Liz said.

I guess she's right. I don't. Not pointless relaxation. I might take a day off so that I don't get sick. I might take it easy because I want to make it through an upcoming stretch of busy days. I generally don't relax just to relax. I am not sure I know how. Like, you just sit there and don't really do anything and that's sort of a hobby in and of itself?

I am not good at that. I don't know how.

Which is probably for the best. When I do things, I really like to do them well and really often (see: blogging for 8+ years, turning into an obsessive runner, wasting 15 months of my life on The Coach, etc.).

I could get good at relaxing. I know I could.

I'm just not quite sure how it would benefit me. Besides giving me a legitimate reason to add more pairs of yoga pants to my wardrobe, I mean.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

11 months of awesome

This morning, all business casual in my dress and my tights, I spent 15 minutes dancing in the coffee shop. Baby A was demanding attention. I stood him up on the ottoman and we did the twist. He thought this was hysterical. We danced. He giggled. Lucy laughed and shook Baby A's maracas in time to our frantic, spastic dance moves.

I looked like a damn fool.

We were probably annoying every customer sitting alone, hunched over their laptops. Doing important, non-dancing things without a chubby baby as their sidekick.

And I was so happy.

Baby A will be 11 months old next week. But it feels a little like he has always been here. Like he has always been the third in our group of friends. I suppose he came just in time: filling the role left empty by Colleen, who decided that she would no longer be our friend shortly after he was born.

There was a minute when I was afraid that my friendship with Lucy wouldn't survive her becoming a parent. I had no reasoning for the fear. Change just scared me.

Had I known that it would be like this:

That we would be better friends (much better friends, at that) 11 months after Baby A was born.
That I would see her as much, if not more.
That I would love her son so fiercely.
That she and Chet and the baby would become part of my extended family.

Had I known, I would have encouraged her to start reproducing years ago.

I have dozens of reasons for wanting to have a baby of my own one day. But one of the reasons is so that Lucy can see her best friend become a mother, too. It's been such a pleasure, these last 11 months. I am a very lucky auntie. With some pretty sweet dance moves.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Productivity explosion

One of the aspects of my job that I struggle with is the nature of my responsibilities. Unlike my last job, where my work would build up to a big event - that I could clearly measure my success on - several times a year, in this job my work is very methodical. The pace is very consistent. There isn't that big reveal that is waiting just around the corner, poised to show how good (or not) you are at your job.

It hasn't been an easy transition. Because I lack the showcase events, I feel less productive than I really am. I don't often have blockbuster days. The kind of days that are so productive that you want to do a song and dance about your mastery of your responsibilities.

Today, though, today was one of those days. Those very, very rare days here in libraryland.

It. Felt. Awesome.

I knocked every task I touched right of the park. My to-do list was cowering at the sight of me. There wasn't anything that I couldn't finish quickly, effectively, brilliantly.

I needed today.

It's been months since I felt truly awesome at my job.

Just for fun, I packed up the productivity and brought it home. Frames that I have been meaning to hang for the last year? Hung. Ceiling fan in dire need of a dusting? Dusted. Clean sheets? Sure. 6 mile run? Of course.

I'm rewarding myself by not setting my alarm to go off until 8 tomorrow morning.

And maybe with an extra shot of espresso in my usual Wednesday-morning-with-Lucy-and-Baby-A latte. Because I have a feeling that I'm going to need it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I know the color of my parachute

Yesterday, when I went Christmas shopping with my mother, I could not help but notice all of the party dresses.

Christmastime at the mall is just ripe for party dress shopping, isn't it? So many dresses. So many sparkles. So many dresses that I would look absolutely adorable in.

What? I have a good body for dresses. (As long as I can have a seamstress sew in some boobage a really generously padded bra.) Dresses and coats. I basically look like a little boy in everything else.

Anyway. There were a plethora of gorgeous dresses and, you guys, I wanted them all. The short lace dresses. The long chiffon dresses. Long sleeved. Strapless. Vaguely trampy. Classic. Didn't matter. If it was a dress, I probably wanted it.

But the problem is that I am a librarian and I do not need an endless supply of party dresses. As a matter of fact, one may suggest that the number of party dresses that I currently own (it's a healthy number that I will keep to myself) is absurd considering how often I wear them. And, fine. Haters gonna hate.

I cannot stop thinking about all of the pretty dresses. I have been searching for a solution.

First potential solution: wear pretty party dresses to work. First potential problem: the creepers are already bad enough in my boring librarian clothes.

Second potential solution: become charming socialite/professional party date. Buy many dresses to wear to many parties. I can smile and nod and be blond and cute and wear all of the adorable dresses.

This may or may not mean that it's my goal in life to become a professional escort.

I'll worry about the details later.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Goalie for the last place team

Hockey is more or less the most annoying thing in my life at the moment.

No. That's not true. Emma and work are more annoying than hockey.

But hockey is right up there. Not my favorite activity at the moment. Far from it.

We didn't win a single game in November. Not one game. I think we won once in October.

Not that I play to win. I don't. I play because it's fun but fishing the puck out of the back of the net all the time isn't very fun. And neither is being in a locker room with a bunch of disappointed teammates because most of them do play to win.

It's just downer after downer after downer. I hate when I show up to games and my teammates are just assuming that we're going to lose. You can't do that. You can't go into a game thinking you're going to lose. Because you will. Every damn time.

Morale is not so great.

We're also missing Alexander something fierce. The rest of the team is missing the coaching. I'm just missing the entertainment of someone inappropriate to flirt with. (Not that my life isn't better and less complicated with him on the other side of the country. It is. Trust me.)

We have four months of this left. Four months of getting our asses kicked (unless my team decides to learn how to score some goals) on a regular basis.

It's a damn shame. I had so much fun playing last year. This year, going to the rink feels like a chore.

This is going to be a long season.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dodging a Bullet

Meg's boyfriend, Drew, was supposed to move back to Michigan by the end of this year.

And then Drew was supposed to move back next spring.

And apparently, sometime this weekend, Drew told Meg that maybe he didn't want to move back after all.

I spent a lot of time looking at Meg and Drew as the couple that The Coach and I could have been. It was impossible not to compare: they got together just as The Coach left last summer. They jumped into a long distance relationship. The Coach and I did not.

It took me a long time to be okay with that. I am, now. I have been, for a while.

What's happening with Meg and Drew makes me think of The Coach and me; it makes me think that maybe it was always better off happening the way that it did. He runs off to chase his dreams. Cutting off ties in the process. No promises. No expectations.

Had we tried for a legitimate relationship, it would all be different now. I would be resentful of a very big, very awesome opportunity that is going to keep him in his job for at least another year. I would be in a constant state of distress. I would, quite frankly, be psychotic. Most likely, the relationship would be over.

I am not strong enough for a long distance relationship. And The Coach never liked me enough, anyway.

Sometimes I wish that it had turned out differently.

Despite knowing -- and I do...now, after hanging on far too long -- that it was for the best.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Just Mad

I sacrificed my entire day to being angry with Emma. And sad about Emma. And eating leftovers.

I expertly spaced out the leftovers throughout the day. I had a dish every 90 minutes. Stuffing followed by sweet potatoes followed by turkey followed by cranberries followed by mashed potatoes followed by pecan pie. I highly recommend this method.

The rest of the day, I tiptoes around the house and tried to be there for my mom in the least invasive way possible. I helped her with a few things, watched a few wedding shows on television, read and endlessly scrolled through Pinterest.

Endless scrolling through Pinterest is an excellent coping mechanism when you're feeling heartsick.

My cousin Anna (Emma's older sister) called at one point. Crying, scared, upset. She thinks Emma needs to be hospitalized. My mom thinks Emma needs to be hospitalized. I assume that it is just a matter of time. She is rapidly heading towards hitting rock bottom.

Nothing can ever be calm and normal and okay.

I just want quiet. Can't we ever have quiet?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Update to Question 6

I was full of questions in this post.

Here's one of the answers. To question #6. Devil Emma? Angel Emma?

She was awful.

Came over to make pies on Wednesday night. Lasted all of 8 minutes into actual pie making. The anxiety was pouring out of her. I want to make my pie right now. There's no room at the counter to make my pie. My pie crust isn't working. I don't want help with my pie. ALL YOU DO IS YELL AT ME.

Leave the room in a huff.

I don't exactly know what happened when my mom and my grandma went to talk to her. I know she said mean things. About how she'll never be me and Meg. Particularly venomous when reminding my mom that "you are not my mother."

Left.

My uncle called this morning. He and Emma wouldn't be at Thanksgiving dinner.

My mom cried.

She sent me a text message a few minutes later. "I wish that you and Meg could think about treating me better."

That hurt. All I have done -- all I have ever done -- is try to make Emma's life easier and better. All I have done is tried to include her. All I have done is regularly dropped my plans to spend time with her when she comes to visit. All I have done is tried to make her feel loved.

And she thinks that I treat her poorly.

It hurt.

I know that the reason that she says that is because she isn't taking her medications.
I know that the reason that she was to mean so my mom is because she isn't taking her medications.

But I'm human, too. I'm not a robot. I can't deal with Emma in an emotionless vacuum. My head knows that I shouldn't take offense. But it still hurts.

Her behavior ruined the holiday. My mom is so, so sad and hurt. My grandma, too.

I hate her.

I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You should have Pie Night, too

If you are looking for a new tradition for the holidays, I would like to humbly suggest the addition of Pie Night to your Thanksgiving festivities.

It is my favorite night of the year.

It could be your favorite night of the year, too. It should be your favorite night of the year. That's why I have created you this step-by-step guide to hosting your own Pie Night. Try it in 2013, okay?

First: start with your favorite group of people. Our Pie Night group is all females, mostly family, but Pie Night is not limited to one gender or only to relatives.

Second: invite Pie Night attendees via group email or Facebook event. Make the invite clever, fun and awesome. Include a promise of alcohol. Throw in a few embarrassing pictures. (This step is optional but highly recommended, allowing you to spend several days before Pie Night hyping up Pie Night via the interwebs.) 

Third: craft a menu. You can't have a proper Pie Night without adequate sustenance. In my family, we rely heavily on nachos and margaritas. Some years, we have made an enormous batch of crockpot macaroni and cheese. Pizza would be good. To make a good menu, pick something easy and pick something with melted cheese.

Fourth: have a vague idea of how many pies you're going to make. (If you're insane, follow my mom's formula.)

Fifth: Get the proper ingredients (plus some extra - somebody is going to screw up something) and start soliciting your friends and family for their pie pans. Don't use foil ones. Those are shit. Trust me.

Sixth: Everyone had work or school or something to do during the day. They are all going to show up at least 30 minutes late. Accept this.

Seventh: You're not going to get to making pies until at least a hour into your planned start time. Because you have to stuff your face and get your drink on before you can even think of starting on your pies. Accept this.

Eighth: Play good music. Dancing is non-negotiable on Pie Night.

Ninth: Let the people who are good at making pie crust make the pie crust. Pie crust is hard.

Tenth: Stagger your pie making so that you get the maximum number of pies in the oven at once but don't have raw pies sitting on the counter getting soggy.

Eleventh: Be sure that all Pie Night attendees who won't be joining you on Thanksgiving are sent home with a pie or three to share with their own families. Check in later to assure that, yes, their families were significantly impressed by the quality of their pies.

Twelfth: Try (keyword: try) to get to bed at a reasonable hour. You have a 10k to run early the next morning, remember?

Okay. Maybe not a 10k. You're not that crazy? Fine. But pie making is exhausting enough and you'll totally need the extra energy for digesting on Thanksgiving.

Thirteenth: Chances are, you went overboard on pie creation on Pie Night. Sacrifice one in the name of a taste test. Have a slice of pie for breakfast. It makes for a really good start to a really great holiday.    

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I have questions

1. Does anyone have a flat iron recommendation? I am in the market for a new one. I don't know where to start. I just want one that makes my hair straight and doesn't fry it. And maybe is a fun color because I am 14.

2. Read anything good lately?

3. Pumpkin pie? Pecan pie? Apple pie? Other?

4. Who has a good idea on how I can trick myself into drinking more water? I was so good for a year or so, but I have fallen off of the wagon and spend my days as a wrinkled, dehydrated prune.

5. Is anyone else running a race on Thanksgiving morning?

6. Will Emma be on her best behavior this weekend or her worst?

7. Could it actually be possible that I am looking forward to the Christmas season?

8. What's the rule on losing a friend to a boyfriend? How much effort do you make? Because I just don't hear from Ashley these days. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. And I'm just not sure I want to be the one who is always exerting the energy to keep up our friendship.

9. What are your Thanksgiving plans? Friends? Family? All of the above? Regular Thursday because you aren't American?

Monday, November 19, 2012

So, that's over

Turned down the job this morning.

Can’t believe that I did it, really.

I could have done a lot with the substantial increase in salary. Like go to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I doubt that will be happening now. Disappointing.

I am going to trust that my gut was right on this one and I am going to move on. It was a good experience. Gives me a little confidence. Makes me realize that I’m ready for a new job but it has to be the right new job. Not just any new job. I didn’t know that I could be picky. Seriously. I haven’t had the opportunity.

So, now I’m picky.

And officially ready for a new job.

And moving on from the interviewing trauma/drama of last week.

Maybe this is the start of something.  

(Something other than the start of regret that I didn't take the job. Because that is just not allowed.)  

(If I start moaning about not taking that job, you guys, please punch me.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Magic

I didn't know quite what to do with myself on Friday afternoon. Scary job offer. Scary free time.

I made pumpkin bread.

My favorite pumpkin bread recipe. Which is easy and also great.


I would eat two loafs of pumpkin bread no problem, so I brought them to work. Since it's all the way in the lunch room, it keeps me to, like, 7 pieces a day.

Here's the recipe if you also need pumpkin bread in your life.

Also here is my handwriting if you need to analyze it for any reason.


Bake at 350. Muffins take 20-25 minutes. If you're putting it in a loaf pan, it's more like 70-75 minutes.

I should warn you (if the 5 cups of flour didn't already): it makes a ton. Two loafs. 90zillion muffins. Once I made mini muffins. Biggest mistake.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

90%

I spilled my guts to my coworker B today. It's one of the smartest decisions I have made lately.

He saw red flags where I see red flags.

And he said to me one of the nicest things that has ever been said to me.

"You can do better."

It hadn't occurred to me that I could do better. In turning down this opportunity, I assumed that I was settling for worse. Or maybe, if I am really fortunate, I would find an equivalent opportunity in an environment where I was more comfortable.

But not better. I never once thought that I could wait for something better.

To hear B say that meant a lot.

Right now, I am 90% sure that I will be turning this job down on Monday morning. I want it to be different. I want a better gut feeling. I want information -- reasonable, standard information -- so that I can make a good decision. And I don't want to beg for it and I don't want it to seem like it is odd that I would like to know how much time I would get for vacation and how much I would be paying out of pocket for healthcare.

I can't leave for an unknown. And I don't think I can work for someone who doesn't understand that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Changes, Anxiety

I interviewed for a new job this week. Today, I received an offer.

It's really exciting and it's really scary. I'm having a hard time with it, truthfully. I want to be so sure and so ready, but this is different from when I last switched jobs. I'm leaving a known for a unknown not because the unknown is what I went to school for but because...because...

I don't know.

I guess that's why this is hard.

There's nothing wrong with the job that I have now. I know that I like it enough. I know that I can do it. Maybe I'm a little bit bored, but I know my boss and my coworkers and I know what to expect.

At this new job, I just feel like it's all such a huge unknown. What my coworkers will be like. If I will get along with my supervisor. I can't even get a good comparison of my current benefits to my potential benefits because their union contact (as I am now, I would be part of a union) is up and they're in the midst of renegotiating.

I know this: I would be making almost 30% more. I would have to work 5 of every 6 Saturdays. I would be in a supervisory position, which would is experience that I'm currently lacking -- at least in the 'brary word. I would double my commute to work. I would get a lot more experience working with kids and teens, which is another area where my résumé is lacking. And sometimes -- and I'm so stuck on this -- I would be the only staff member in the building. A public building. And I can't shake off the bad feeling about this. 

For every good, there's a bad. Or at least an unknown.

I am literally crying about this because I seriously don't know what to do. It all looks good on the service but I have this bad feeling that I can't shake. I can't figure out if I'm just scared or if this is a gut feeling that I should listen to.

This is the absolute most awful feeling. Honestly. The worst. I wanted this to feel better. I wanted this to be easier. I wanted to be sure. And I'm so far from sure.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

8 years

Today marks the anniversary of the cold, rainy, miserable November afternoon when I balanced my (enormous) laptop on my knees and decided that – lost, confused, living at home, restlessly burning my first year out of college as an intern – I should become a blogger.

And now I have been blogging for 8 years.

How could I have known? How could I have known that, 8 years later – age: 30! – I would be still blogging?

I didn’t.

And, if I had, I probably would have never started.

8 years? That’s a big commitment.

I never would have guessed that I could do anything 2395 times. Let alone write 2395 blog posts.

Maybe it just goes to show you that, when you’re truly enjoying yourself, you’re not keeping track. You’re not counting. You’re just doing it because it’s what you love and once every year, November 15 comes along and you have to calculate how many years it has been.

I am so lucky to have fallen into blogging. I am so lucky to have the blogging friends that I do. I am so lucky to have the time and the means to chronicle my life for the last 8 years. I am so lucky to have 8 years – 2395 posts – of writing to remember who I was and how I felt and what was important.

Maybe I'll blog for 8 more years. Maybe I'll stop after 8 more posts.

Whatever it is, however this ends: I have been very lucky. I am very grateful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My kind of workday

Ideally, my three-day weekend would have stretched into a five-day weekend. I would have been perfectly happy with not working yesterday or today.

Okay, and also the rest of my life. If I could be independently wealthy and find ample satisfaction in charitable work while simultaneously dabbling in the life of a professional student.

None of these scenarios panned out, however.

So, I will take what I can get. And what I can get, today, is a lazy morning at home. I rescheduled a coffee date with Lucy so that I could stay in my pajamas for an extra few hours and watch the USA/Russia soccer match. The American team was largely awful. I didn’t care. I got to watch live international soccer from my couch on a random Wednesday morning. All US Soccer matches should be played in the southwest corner of Russia.

What I also got was an afternoon at my desk, balancing doing actual work with the Netherlands/Germany game that happened to be playing on the Watch ESPN app on my iPad. I listened – I am not such a horrible employee as to sit there and watch – but having it on made my day so much more pleasant.


It’s the little things.

And those little things have been on my mind this week (for reasons that I will explain later). Maybe this just makes me the worst slacker and a terrible employee but being able to have soccer playing on my iPad, having the ability to send a few text messages or skim through Facebook or return an email (or 20): it keeps me sane. I don’t know if I could do a job where I was completely locked down and couldn’t waste time -- and not waste time; I get my work done -- as I see fit. After benefits and salary, that would be a serious consideration in taking a new job.

Which probably doesn’t say much about my work ethic.

But it does keep my blog updated regularly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Liz and Fluff Show: cancelled

Over the weekend, Liz and Fluff officially broke up.

I am sad for Liz because these things are sad. I am happy for Liz because I genuinely believe that she is dodging a bullet.

I am concerned for Liz because she doesn’t do single very well. On Friday night, she said to me “I need a hobby.” I wholeheartedly agree. Read a book, girl. Get started on that MBA. Learn to knit. Take the dog to obedience school. Do something.

Do anything.

But do something.

Before this breakup came along, I thought that Liz had more close friends than she actually does. Denise – who she considers to be her best friend – has been absent throughout this breakup. (What’s complicated, you see, is that Fluff’s best friend is Denise’s husband.) Liz’s other best friend lives in California.

She clearly needs some people in her corner. I have tried to be as supportive as possible – we’ve spent more time sitting together on the couch (talking, watching reality television) in the last two weeks than we did in the last 9 months – but I still have my life. I still have my soccer games. I still have plans to go shopping with my mom. And, honestly? From the time that Liz and Fluff got together, she didn’t have time for me. I’m sorry, but, I can’t just turn that quickly. I’m not saying that to be mean. I’m not mad at her. It’s just the truth.

I’m just finding it harder to throw myself into our friendship (we’re cousins, of course, but we’re certainly also very good friends) knowing that this will happen again. We might see movies and go to dinner and make trips to Target together now. But that will end when she gets a new boyfriend.

It didn’t hurt me, when I (along with her other friends) was put on the back burner when Fluff came into the picture. I understood then. I understand now.

But it does make me hesitant. Less willing to really invest the time.

Until she says things like “I googled ‘how to get over a breakup’ today.”

And then I’m making dinner plans for the weekend and flopping down by her on the couch, even though I’d rather be reading.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday awesome

My dentist appointment this morning? Awesome. A good report and the hygienist never asked if I have a boyfriend and I got the kind, gentle, soft spoken dentist for my exam instead of the nagging one with the shrill voice.
My super-secret mission with Lucy? Awesome. Kentucky Derby tickets went on sale today. We fired up out iPads and our laptops and we bought ourselves a hell of a pair of tickets. This excursion suddenly became very, very real.

My lunch with Lucy and Baby A? Awesome. Really great server, fantastic food. Baby A was so sweet. And hungry. Some scone. A little butternut squash soup. A bit of chicken and dumplings. And a taste of crème brûlée. That kid sure can eat.

My trip to the grocery store? Awesome. As awesome as trips to the grocery store go. Meaning I didn't forget anything. That I know of. Yet.

My first run since last weekend's race? Awesome. Four miles, easy breezy.

My head going into tomorrow: the start of my week and possibly the start of something else? Awesome. I feel good. I feel grounded. I feel happy and rested and confident.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More like this, please

Such a delightful, simple weekend.

Completely lacking in That One Big Event (a race, a soccer tournament, a party) that exhausts me. Sure, we went to the bar on Friday night but I had low expectations. Sure, my cousin Emma was in town but she surprised all of us and was moderately pleasant to be around. Sure, I had two hockey games today but they were spread out and I play goalie so I totally don't sweat and mostly I just have fun and enjoy breathing in the smell of ice arena.

That's one of my favorite smells, by the way. Ice arena. If you don't know what it smells like, you're missing out.

On Saturday night, I convinced Lucy and Chet to go out without the baby. I had plans to spend my night watching The Coach's team's game and I could certainly do that on their couch as easily as I could do it on my own. They saw a movie and had a taste of life that doesn't include lugging around a 25 pound baby; I watched The Coach's team win and sneaked into the baby's room on a regular basis to make sure he was breathing.

Or just to admire how bloody cute he is.

Goodness, I love that kid. I always knew that I would love Lucy and Chet's children, but I had no idea. No idea I could love Baby A as much as I do.

Today was a good day -- even though my hockey team is absolutely brutal (we lost both games) -- an especially good Sunday because it isn't followed by a Monday.

Well, of course it is followed by a Monday. Just not by a MONDAY. I have tomorrow off for Veteran's Day. And I am delighted.

All weekends should be three-day weekends. And many should be just like this one. I like having That One Big Event. But feeling rested is pretty damn awesome, too.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paybacks

I don't know if I even wrote about it at the time but, almost two years ago, Lucy and I went to a dive bar with her cousin Laurie and a few of her friends to see their other cousin's band.

Not intending it to be a wild night at all, Lucy and I ended up totally trashed. Chet had to pick us up from Laurie's house.

And, on the drive home from the bar, I puked in Laurie's car. Laurie's friend puked at the same time. Lucy was sandwiched between us.

Not my proudest moment. It was seriously only the second time in my life that I have consumed alcohol to the point of vomiting. And I hope that it is the last. That was humiliating.

But funny. It's funny. Now. Sort of.

Okay, I cringe every time that it's mentioned.

So, anyway, last night Lucy and Laurie's cousin was back in town with his band. They were playing at the same bar. Chet stayed home with the baby and we ventured out to the scene of the crime.

I had a couple of (strong) shots as soon as we arrived. I rejected a few dudes at the bar. I was gently molested by the lead singer. And I failed to notice that Laurie's friends were getting really, really drunk.

(Seriously, I think it's the bar. Something in the air there. Or in the drinks. Such as roofies.)

We hung around for a while after the show was over. Laurie gave us the 10 minute warning 10 minutes too late. As soon as her friend -- while making out with a random dude at the bar -- fell over, we made a quick exit.

This time, I took the middle seat. I also took the empty plastic cup that Lucy and I smuggled out of the bar. (It was a very useful tool in mess control.)

I've telegraphed where this is going, right? We're halfway home, the friend is puking and I am the nurse to the drunken.

And I am awesome at it. Awesome in ways that I won't detail because I have clearly gone into enough detail about vomit in this post.

It was obviously all disgusting. And I am too old for these shenanigans.

But I consider the night a success. It was a night of karmic payback. We are even. It's over. Cancelled out. Basically didn't happen.

I'll never again be so happy to be stuck in the back seat of a car with a puking drunk girl.

And, hopefully, the next time I need to put an embarrassing incident behind me doing so doesn't require vomit exposure therapy.

Friday, November 09, 2012

I ran for chocolate

While we were in Chicago last weekend, Meg and I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k.


It was just good luck that I happened to find a run that was in town the same weekend that we were. Plus. The chocolate theme? C’mon.

Meg and I are pretty willing to try out any run once. Especially if it’s convenient. Being just a couple of weekends after our half marathon, we were trained up for a 15k. And running in Chicago – instead of Detroit or Ann Arbor – would be a nice change from the norm.

We haven’t had a ton of luck with most of the popular, gimmicky race series: they’re generally overpriced and far less awesome than we anticipate that they will be. (See: Warrior Dash, Color Run.) But still we sign up. Once.

On Friday, I saw tons of complaints on the race’s Facebook page about the wait to pick up race packets. Two hours in line. Yikes. Thankfully, it was sorted out by Saturday. It took us a half-hour to pick up our packets, which we did on our way to Aunt Louise’s house.

The goody bag was decent. It was nice to get a hoodie instead of yet another t-shirt or tech shirt. And it came in a cute pink drawstring bag. I like things that are cute and pink.



We stayed in a hotel just a couple of blocks from the race start. The time changed in our favor, so it didn’t seem all that early that we rolled out of bed and into our race clothes.

There were tons of runners. Tons. 40,000, I think. It must have been the biggest race I’ve ever run. We were in one of the first corrals – E, I think – but we still didn’t start until well after 7:00. (They spaced the corrals out at 3.5 minutes, which seemed lengthy.)

The race itself was good. I finished exactly when I expected to finish.

It’s been a while since I’ve run in a race that I haven’t participated in before. I forgot about that unknown factor. Not knowing where the hills are or how far you’ve gone. That gets in your head. Truthfully, the 9.3 miles seemed longer than the 13.2 that I ran a few weeks before.

Brace yourself for the best part of the race. This is what the post-race party consisted of and it was delicious:


Okay, so if I’m going to participate in a gimmicky, for-profit race, the gimmicks can start and stop at chocolate fondue. It was delicious. I didn’t get muddy and I wasn’t choking on colored cornstarch.

We stopped for a self-portrait at Cloud Gate (you know, the bean) before heading back to the hotel.

The weekend was a little high on family drama. Emma was awful and her awfulness permeated every second of family time. The race pretty much saved the weekend. And the chocolate.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Ho Ho Help

I’m starting my Christmas anxiety early this year.

My anxiety started on October 25 – at the mention of the two-months-until-the-big-day mark on the radio. It was at that moment that I realized that I don’t know what I’m going to buy Meg. That I don’t have any ideas for my mom. And that this clearly means that I will not have good presents for them and Christmas will be a disaster and everyone will cry.

I know that this isn’t logical or normal but, seriously, I have thought about Christmas presents every single day since October 25.

I just really, really like giving The Perfect Present.

It bothers me to give anything less. Even if it’s a really, really good gift that is just short of perfect.

I clearly manufacture a great deal of my own stress.

But I would like to minimize the holiday stress for others.

More specifically, my mother. (Who generally hosts Christmas brunch with my dad's family and, a few hours later, Christmas dinner with her family. It is insanity.)

Liz and I were talking about our family Christmas just this morning. About how it is so hectic and exhausting and, yes, it’s wonderful and it's our tradition but maybe it is too much. Maybe it’s time to scale down the Christmas celebration into something a little bit more manageable. Where our aunts and uncles aren’t buying us “kids” gifts (minus our two youngest cousins, we range in age from 25-34) (yes, it is ridiculous and it has been for quite some time) and maybe we just focus on spending time together and eating a ton of really good food, instead.

It might take a bit of convincing. The big, extravagant Christmas is a product of our grandmother. She loved it. And, while we’ve scaled it back in the past, we have always gone back to Christmas like Grandma would have wanted Christmas. Big. Huge. Wrapping paper tossed everywhere. Two days of pure, exhausting insanity.

It’s awesome. In a lot of ways, it’s really awesome. But it’s too much.

If you celebrate Christmas, I would be interested in hearing how your family does it. I think we’re in the market for a new tradition or two.
 
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