Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dreamy

I am not quite certain if I am simply immature or if this is a function of being alive but, goodness, I love to dream.

Let the right job posting linger in my inbox and I am off and running. The interview. I can see the interview. The suit that I’m wearing. The subtle confidence I speak with. My first day. Full of smiles and handshakes and an overload of information and a new desk. No, a new office. A spacious one. Success. I can see the success and the accompanying satisfaction. And the paycheck, reasonably plumper; I know how I’ll spend it.

And the location. I wouldn’t move for just any job but the right job – sometimes I’m emailed jobs that strike me as The Perfect Job – and it isn’t here and then I have to picture relocating. Reliance on Skype. Finding a soccer team. Carving out my niche. I am more okay with dreaming that dream than I used to be. It’s less scary, that dream where I land The Perfect Job in a city that is not mine.

Send me on a drive through the right city. There are several nearby. Get me downtown and I am lost. Lost in a dream where I live there. A short walk from downtown. I could run on those sidewalks. I could take yoga at that studio. I could buy a little house, right down that street, and I could paint it blue and it could be all mine. And no matter what happens at least I would live within walking distance of a martini bar.

Allow me to wander through the ballroom at my dad’s country club. I try to avoid it. Because I get all dreamy. The wedding cake would go over there. We’d have the first dance here. I wonder if the macaroni and cheese could be worked into the menu. I love the country club's macaroni and cheese. (It has peas. It's fancy.)

Say the right thing. (The Coach, I’m talking to you.) Say the right thing. Say it at the right time. Just try to shake me out of that dream. Summertime and beyond. Realistic or not. My dreams – and he gives me plenty of reason to dream – drown out my doubts.

Plant the seed. Mention a road trip. I’ll go with it. I’ll dream with you. Mentally, I’ll be at 7-11 buying the essential road trip snack rations before you’ve even finished your sentence. Before you even tell me where you want to go. And maybe I’ll be dreaming about that, too. A road trip to anywhere. Options: endless.

Immature. Human. Whatever. I dream. I love to.

I’m still working on finding the courage to turn my dreams into plans into hard work into reality. And dreaming about how awesome life will get when I do.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mothers are funny people

I called my mom on Friday morning to tell her the story of the little boy at the rink.

“Oh, honey,” she exclaimed. “You are so lucky.”

I’m so what? Lucky? Were you listening, Mother? I had to call the police.

“Isn’t that just wonderful that he could see that you were someone who would help him?

That’s just so lucky. Not only that you could help and that you did, but that he could sense that about your spirit.”

I love it when my mom releases her inner hippie.

But the real reason I’m telling you all this is because I don’t want you to be alarmed when we meet. That bright light that you’ll be bathed in? It’s just my spirit.

My spirit and my halo.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The right things

At work this morning, I helped a woman fill out a job application. It isn't unusual for a patron to ask a question or two about an application; it is unusual to have to stand with them through the entire process.

But that's what I did.

I don't know what her specific disability is; I know that she does not have the ability to fill out job applications. "What do I put here?" She jabs her finger into the monitor and I lean in from where I am standing and I translate. "In that box, they're asking you to put how much you were paid."

It is every question on the application. She reads the words but she cannot comprehend. It's awful. It's awful and sad. How do you get a job if you can't fill out an application?

I've worked with her a few times before and it is always like this. Exhausting and awful and sad.

At work this afternoon, a door alarm was tripped. When I went to turn it off, an older woman was standing at it, cursing.

I turned off the alarm. And she tried another alarmed door and I realized that it was more than an accident. "What are you looking for?" When she spoke, I recognized her voice. I've seen her before. Her dementia seems quite acute.

I took her back to the floor. I know we needed her son - he's who brings her (and doesn't watch over her). She mistook my female coworker for her son. When I brought her back, he barely looked up from his computer screen.

After my hockey game tonight, I was leaving the rink. There was a boy - maybe 10 years old - standing in the vestibule. He offered to help me with the door. And then he asked me if I knew where the police station was.

"Just over there," I told him, pointing across the municipal complex.

I paused for a second. That second of hesitation. How involved do you get? Where do you draw the line?

I wasn't drawing a line. I was getting involved.

"Do you need to go over to the police station?"

He said that he did. That he needed to tell them something.

"Would you like me to drive you over there?" It's not a far walk, but it was dark and rainy. He said that he would.

I put my bag into my car. Thinking. Deciding. Probably not smart to put a strange child into my car, alone, even if he seems harmless.

"You know, buddy, you're not even going to fit into my car with all of this equipment. Maybe we should walk over there."

As soon as it came out of my mouth, that didn't seem like the right choice, either. It didn't seem right to be alone with the kid. It didn't seem safe for either of us.

I brought him back inside. A few teammates were still milling about.

I asked one of them to come with me. They all refused, assuming the worse. But they would stay with me and the boy, they said, while we waited for the police to come to us.

Which took suprisingly long, considering that the police station is practically in the same parking lot.

I called the police and I talked to them for a second and then I put the boy on the phone. He spoke with them for quite a while longer - I stepped away. He came back to me with my phone and he said that an officer was on his way. The boy stood at the door. My teammates didn't try talking to him or anything. Which seemed weird. Three of the four of them are mothers. But at least they waited. Even it it was for me and not for the poor child.

While we waited I took the boy over to the vending machine. In my head, I could picture him spending hours at the police station. "Let's get you a snack." I bought him Cheetos and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which he stashed into what looked like his school bag.

"Thank you, ma'am," he said. He had a quiet voice but when he spoke, he sounded sure of himself. "That's very kind of you."

Finally, the officer came and we walked out to his squad car. I gave him my information and I was essentially dismissed. "We've got it from here."

I don't even know the boy's name.

But I still hope that he's okay. I still hope that he's getting the help that he needs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday thoughts

Apologies to my hockey team, who will be suffering as a result of an unfortunate phenomenon in my life: everyone is on a diet. Everyone is on a diet and I saw this brownie recipe that I absolutely cannot get out of my head and sorry, teammates, but I’m bringing brownies to our game tonight. DEAL WITH IT.

***

Meg is going to South Carolina this weekend. Why is Meg going to South Carolina? Her wedding date. Remember him? He’s still around.

Around as in still in her life not around as in local because clearly he is not.

She’s been to South Carolina to visit him once. He came home for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas which (according to his cousin/my friend Maria) is a big deal because he usually only makes the trip for one of the holidays.

Here’s another big deal: he told Meg that his plan is to move back to our fair state by the end of 2012.

YAY FOR BOYS WHO DON’T STEAL MY SISTER FAR, FAR AWAY.

He’s a really nice kid. I saw him at Christmas and he’s just laidback and fun and didn’t seem to give two shits about walking into a house filled with our extended family on Christmas Eve. He hasn’t pulled any shady shenanigans – not that I’ve heard of, anyway – and Meg seems really happy. A+ for you, Wedding Date.

My grandma is predicting that Wedding Date will be the man who Meg marries. Because he seems malleable. That’s what she said. Malleable. I don’t think she meant it in an offensive way even though that word is kind of ugly, right? Maybe adaptable would be a better adjective, Grandma.

It’s somewhat hilarious that she pinned this trait on him – malleable – as there is no question that her daughters all wear the pants in their marriages. And that my mother and Aunt Louise absolutely trained up their husbands to be exactly who they needed them to be.

So perhaps Meg will carry on that tradition. Only time will tell.

***

This ol’ blog has been boring lately, right?

If there’s something you’re interested in that I haven’t been writing about, speak up. I am officially soliciting suggestions to haul my ass out of this rut.

***

Here is a life tip: don’t drink 32 ounces of water within an hour of going to bed.

***

I continue to feel uncertain about my job. I like it. I often wonder if the pace is fast enough for me. And I also wonder if my habits, motivations and fondness for Twitter are keeping me from demanding more and more and more and making it a role that requires me to be a superstar and work at that faster pace. Like, maybe I'm the problem.

This is a great place and I’m honestly so, so lucky to be here as opposed to some small operation with three employees and no security and a perpetually shrinking budget. And still – despite this being a much bigger system – there isn’t a lot of room for me to move. In terms of moving up, that is. My boss isn’t going anywhere. Not for a very, very long time.

I look into Ph.D. programs on occasion. And the second master’s degree I would need to make the collegiate leap.

At this point, I’m not convinced that either would be the answer to my problem as opposed to a costly, time-consuming delay of the inevitable realization that working sucks and will always suck and no amount of education is going to cushion me from that unfortunate reality.

I do not like being an adult.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My words have limitations

It turns out that I’m a pretty decent cheerleader.

I text The Coach on his game days. Good luck tonight, darling! I’ll punch into my iPhone a few hours before game time, when I have a free minute at work or when I’m stopped at a traffic signal or when I happen to be thinking about him (which is frequently). Do a lot of winning! Or Kick so much ass! Or Be awesome! Or It’s a great day for a big win!

I want him to do well. And I want him to know that I want him to do well. Even though his success with his team keeps him a few thousand miles away. I want that success for him. Trophies and championship rings. All of the accolades.

As much as I want him here, I want him happy. He’s happy chasing his dreams. And his dreams – unfortunately – are currently housed with a team that is very far away.

I’ve found myself cheerleading more and more lately. It is nearing the end of the season. His team is waging quite the uphill battle. Each game is critical. There’s a lot of pressure. He’s feeling it.

And I am relentlessly optimistic.

It’s all I can be. I can’t change the results. I can’t be the difference between a win and a loss. This optimism? This cheerleading? It’s all I can do. You’ve got this. I tell him. It’s going to all work out in your favor in the end. You’ve worked hard and you deserve this. Just be your awesome self.

Last week he texted me at the conclusion of his game. He does this often, shooting me a quick update while he's wrapping up his post-game responsibilities. He gave me the score – advantage: bad guys in a close game that his team really needed to win – and then he wrote “I need a hug.”

Oh, if it were only that easy. If only I could give him the hug that he needs. If only I could sit in the stands and wear his team colors and yell for his team and see with my own eyes what instead he has to tell me about.

And so I rely on my words. On every inspirational phrase that has ever made an impact on me. Chin up. Eyes on the prize. Believe. So many words. So many different ways to say the same thing. To say you're great and I want you to excel. I've said it dozens of times, dozens of ways. But I still feel like I'm running out of ways to say it.

Maybe I need a motivational tutor. (Suggestions, anyone?) Or a book on giving motivational speeches.

Or maybe words just aren't enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bigger and better

I have lost a bit of weight recently.

It wasn’t intentional. I’m not exactly sure how much I lost. Maybe around five pounds? I have never really been one to weigh myself.

My pants were all starting to get a little big but I didn’t pay much attention to it. The Coach came home from Christmas and insisted that I was looking exceptionally fit. Which I promised wasn’t true, that I was the same girl he’d left in August.

But then I started thinking about it and, yeah, I guess maybe I did lose some weight. I’m buying dresses in stupidly small sizes. My jeans don’t fit. I exchanged every pair of pants I received for Christmas. I’ve been running a lot. And - when The Coach took his job and moved away - I wasn't doing much eating. I guess it makes a little bit of sense.

“You’re getting very thin,” my mother remarked to me a few weeks ago. We were all in the car – the whole damn family – after a meal out. “You’re going to lose your booty.”

Yes, my mother knows that my ass is my greatest, well, asset.

“We’ll have to suck some fat from Meg’s and inject it in you!”

“Gee, thanks, Mom.” Meg is sitting in the back seat with me and she is looking horrified but also a little amused. She’s shaking her head.

“MOTHER! OH MY GOD! MOM! ENOUGH!” My mom is brilliant and intuitive and our biggest cheerleader. And sometimes she says the wrong thing. Makes that cutting remark that you remember forever. (Maybe 6 or 7 years ago, she told Meg that her hair looked like dog’s hair and we still talk about it.) Maybe it’s just a mother/daughter thing. When Mom says it, you remember it. “MEG IS PERFECT JUST LIKE SHE IS!”

“What? Of course she is. But there’s no denying that Meg has a badonkadonk.”

My mom is awesome. And sometimes she just doesn’t think.

When Meg retold this story at the bachelorette party we were at last weekend, she threw in “and then Alyson – the best big sister ever – defended me.”

It was the least that I could do.

My hockey team played right before her hockey team on Sunday. After my game, I was in the bleachers watching her play. I pointed Meg out to a girl on my team – someone I don’t know particularly well – and she was like “she’s a lot bigger than you, huh?”

And she is. She’s just a bigger person. Not in a bad way. And I guess that, when you’re looking at it from a sports angle – it’s something that you’d make a comment about. But I never like when people point it out.

I have never discussed size with Meg. She’s four years younger than me but she’s been bigger than me – all around, just bigger (taller, broader shoulders, larger feet and, yes, more ass) – since her late elementary school years. And there is nothing wrong with Meg. She’s tall and she’s strong as hell. She’s built like the athlete that she is.

I hope it doesn’t bother her.

I hope it just seems like a given. How things are. Just like how it is a fact that she’s remarkably smarter than me. And a way, way better athlete. And has better hair.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Extremes

I’ve lived with Liz for two months now and, in the last two months, one thing has become very apparent to me: there is absolutely no similarity to how we live our lives other than we do our laundry in the same washing machine and we both drink skim milk and have the same grandma.

I am aware that I am very go-go-go-go but living with Liz has really shined a light on how compulsively active I am. And what a homebody Liz tends to be.

Liz works her ass off. She works long hours for a big company in an important position. Her commute is an hour each way. And when she’s not at work, she is at home. She obviously likes to be at home. Because she never leaves. I’m not judging – I swear that I’m not judging – but it isn’t unusual for Liz to get home on a Friday night and settle in for the weekend and, other than a Sunday trip to the grocery store, not leave the house.

And that is c-c-c-c-c-c-crazy to me.

I can’t do that. I don’t have it in me.

Like, I look at Liz all stretched out on the couch on a Saturday afternoon and in my head I am like OMG HOW CAN YOU DO THAT JUST LAYING THERE AND NOT EVEN, LIKE, SIMULTANEOUSLY BALANCING YOUR CHECKBOOK OR KNITTING A HAT?

I woke up yesterday embracing the idea of a lazy Sunday morning. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. “This is what normal people do,” I told myself. I fixed a cup of tea and I crawled back into bed and I got right to business finishing the book that I was reading because I wanted to cross that goal off of my list. I wanted to accomplish that task. Before noon. And I also wanted to get all of my bills paid because I was sick of thinking of it and, goodness, that’s what a lazy Sunday is about, right? Getting things done? It’s called lazy because you’re still wearing your pajamas, yes?

Heaven forbid I actually relax. I certainly didn’t earn the right to relax. Oh, no. The weekend wasn't busy at all.

I worked all day on Friday. Immediately after work I went to visit Lucy and the baby. Immediately from Lucy’s house I went to a bachelorette party for one of Meg’s best friends – I just went to dinner, but I didn’t get home until after midnight. I collapsed into bed and not long after I fell asleep The Coach wakes me up to update me on his team’s game. I talked to him for quite a while (he was displeased with the results and venting accordingly) and didn’t get back to sleep until who knows when.

Up early on Saturday morning to cut up massive amounts of fruit and vegetables for Heather’s bridal shower. Clean up the enormous mess I made in the kitchen. Breakfast. Dress and tights and heels. Hair and makeup. Present wrapping. Coffee on my way out the door. To Heather’s shower a few hours early, helping her mom and sister set up. Then the baby shower. So many games. So many pictures. And then the cleaning up after the baby shower. Finally back home. I observe Liz sleeping on the couch. Decide to take a quick nap of my own (this is somewhat monumental) before going to the gym. Decide against the gym – cook dinner instead. Hang with Liz on the couch for all of 30 minutes. Talk to Meg on the phone. Read my book. Check the score of The Coach’s game. Get to bed just after midnight. Awakened by The Coach, updating me on his game. (I absolutely love when he does this because it makes me feel like so much more of a part of his life – even though it is thousands of miles away. And because it makes me quite sure that he knows that I care about what he is doing there and how he is doing there.)

So, no. Clearly I didn’t earn the right to just hang out on Sunday morning. Especially when Sunday evening featured a hockey game and a soccer game. Please. Productivity is where it is at.

Liz must think that I am completely insane.

Liz must also think that I am the best roommate ever. All I do at that house is sleep.

And not on the couch on a random Sunday afternoon, either.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I was going to blog today

I was going to blog today because I like to blog on most days and I even had an idea of what I wanted to blog about. But then I was working - like, real working - and then my day was cut significantly short by an event that I had to attend. Which was actually okay. Minus the photographer who clearly took too many pictures featuring me. But let me pause here and thank the heavens for deciding that being allowed to be cute was a major goal of 2012. Because I was. Cute, I mean. Although my scarf was bulky and I wonder how it will photograph.

Like I said: I was going to blog today.

And the work event (where I looked cute) was off site and I didn't bring my directions and that was irritating. But my iPhone came through and I arrived without much trouble and was only a little annoyed with myself. Same goes for when I decided to consume the giant chocolate chip cookie at the reception even though it wasn't good and I was not hungry. A little annoyed.

And then I got in the car to go home and I was on the phone with my mom and I took a scenic tour of town. Well, it was probably a scenic tour and a half. I really got turned around. And I couldn't stop thinking about my sore legs and how much I wanted to be home long enough to actually, like, figure out how to get home.

I booted up the GPS - probably not until 10 minutes into my journey to lostness, which was stupid - and somehow get into the history and oh, hey. There's address to The Athlete's summer house.

THE ATHLETE. WHAT?

I obviously never turn on my GPS and yeah, that was a small punch in the throat.

So then I got home. Legs still sore. Thinking about The Athlete. I never think about The Athlete. (Which is good. He is, among other things, marrying someone else.)

And I ate cereal in the kitchen. Still wearing my coat and my potentially too bulky scarf. Legs still hurting.

And then I decided that I couldn't possibly blog today because I needed to get to sleep as soon as possible so that I could get away from myself as soon as possible.

I am annoying the hell out of myself.

Which is why I'm not going to blog today even though I had planned to blog today.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wishing away days

I was tending to my calendar this afternoon.

My calendar demands constant attention. I’m forever deleting out cancelled hockey games and adjusting the weekends that I’m scheduled to work and combing through the month to find a free evening where I can get together and gossip about my former coworkers with Maria.

Today, my attention was on February. I plugged in my work schedule – fresh from the hands of my boss – and I marveled at what a busy month it would be. Birthdays and hockey tournaments and soccer every Sunday night.

Februaries are like that for me. Short months packed so tight that they seem even shorter.

(If I can pull off a minor miracle, I would like to make February even more hectic/go by even faster with a three-day weekend turned into a quick visit to see The Coach and cheer on his team in a big game. But this would require both an invitation and possibly an intervention by the gods of air travel and I am counting on neither but, goodness, it's nice to dream.)

Looking ahead at next month – filled with colors and notes and obligations – was a relief.

I’m not sure that I should do it. Wishing away the days, I mean.

But I do.

And I have. Regularly. Since August – with the exception of three weeks in December when time could have passed slowly for once (but didn't, of course) – I have.

This February will pass quickly. The days will drop off effortlessly, I expect, and I will be left staring at March and the bitter, bitter end of The Coach’s season.

And I’ll have made it through.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roadtrip of Weirdness

My cousin Mara had her first baby at the beginning of November

She wasn’t in town for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. I hadn’t met the baby yet and I was feeling guilty. If I had popped out a kid, I think I would want Mara to come in town to meet the little darling, too.

I worked on Saturday, but due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I had two free days to make a quick trip to Chicago. Emma didn’t have school yesterday, either, and she decided to come along.

Here is the roadtrip in a nutshell:

5 hours on Sunday: spent driving to Chicago, Emma talking nonstop the entire way. I purposely had us leave early on Sunday morning because I thought that she would sleep the majority of the trip. WRONG.

10 minutes on Sunday: spent at Tim Horton’s. Because Tim Horton’s is the best.

5 minutes on Sunday: spent knocking on the door to Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed’s house before we realized that they weren’t home, even though we were arriving at the exact time we said we would be arriving.

40 minutes on Sunday: spent on a time-killing walk from Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed’s house, down to the lake, along the lakeshore for a spell and then back to their house.

1 hour on Sunday: spent on a quick shopping trip with Aunt Louise to her favorite spice store and her favorite stationary store, where I purchased several adorable greeting cards including this gem that went in the mail to The Coach today (his weekend featured a significant accomplishment that deserved a fun card to celebrate):



90 minutes on Sunday: spent with Mara, her husband and the baby. Like, that’s all. That’s all we saw of them.

0 minutes on Sunday: spent holding the baby. Mara never asked either me or Emma if we wanted to hold her and, like, don’t you do that? Don’t you ask? I mean, she’s the mom and I’ll respect whatever it is that she wants but I wanted to be like “LET ME HOLD THAT BABY I DIDN’T DRIVE ALL THIS WAY TO JUST LOOK AT HER.” But I thought better of it because if she didn’t mind me holding the baby she’d ask if I wanted to, right?* (My parents went to see the baby last week and my mom came home and said at least a hundred times “Mara was so sweet, saying ‘did you want to hold her?’ and ‘did you want to feed her?’ all the time.”)

5 hours on Monday: spent driving home.

90 minutes on Monday: of our drive home spent with Emma sleeping and therefore not talking my ear off and, goodness, it was nice to be left alone with my thoughts and my satellite radio.

30 minutes on Monday: spent napping on the couch at Mom and Dad’s house, after which I woke up and was SO FIRED UP about sacrificing two days on the Roadtrip of Weirdness.

40 minutes on Monday: spent on the treadmill, running off all of the pent-up energy I had about the Roadtrip of Weirdness.

So, that was pretty much it. My 30 hour roadtrip to Chicago. Kind of a waste. Made me a little (more) insane. Would have had more fun spending the weekend in, say, Toronto with a couple of awesome bloggers. But making the trip to Chicago was the right thing to do and for that I am glad that I went.


*I just realized how not brave of me this was and I probably should have opened my mouth in order to preserve the integrity of my 2012 resolution but, um, well...I didn’t.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Big day, big honor

Yesterday was the brit milah for Lucy and Chet’s son.

I am not Jewish but I was raised in a community with a large Jewish population and two of my cousins have a Jewish father.

So, while I had never attended a brit before – and while I maybe kinda did a little bit of research beforehand just to make sure I wasn’t going to commit any huge faux pas by wearing black or bringing a gift – it wasn’t a huge mystery.

Lucy wasn’t raised Jewish, but she started the conversion process when she got pregnant. Chet isn’t particularly religious – I think I would describe him as more culturally Jewish than religiously so – but the covenant of circumcision is obviously important to him and to his family and to his religion. It was a special, proud day for Lucy and Chet and their families. I was so happy and so honored to attend. (And so thrilled to have another excuse to buy the baby more presents!)

It was a lovely event. Low key but celebratory and important. Quiet yet happy. Respectful yet fun.

The best part of the whole day might have been when Chet said – not to me, it was a snippet of a conversation that I overheard – how important it was to him and to Lucy that I was in attendance.

They are such a great couple. They are such a wonderful little family. I am so, so fortunate to be a part of their lives. Especially to the extent that I am. Where they want me at the hospital on the night of their son’s birth. And at the synagogue for his brit milah. It really is an honor beyond what I have words to express.

I marvel, sometimes, at how lucky I am. I had no business taking that advanced chemistry class in 10th grade and yet I did and it was over a Bunsen burner that I cemented a friendship that is so wonderful that I am not sure that I even deserve it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

355.5 days left in 2012

I’m going to set my resolutions for this year a little differently from the way that I’ve done them in the past because I love ambitious, lofty, specific lists but I think that I need to approach 2012 with a few grand ideas. And a few specific goals to keep me honest.

#1 Be brave. This is it. This is my 2012.
There is so much that I want to do and want to see and want to experience and want to accomplish. I could spend the entire year making resolutions, pinpointing how I want to get better and establishing a plan and identifying benchmarks. I am good at that – the slow and deliberate plodding towards the finish line. And it works. Eventually, usually, generally it works.

I want to do it differently in 2012. I want to look my big goals right in the eye. I want to stop being afraid of everything. I want to dream my enormous, intimidating dreams and I want to grab them by the shirt collar and wrestle them to the ground because I have spent 29 years carefully tiptoeing around my life. Why am I afraid of my own life? Why am I scared to live the life of my dreams?

It’s 2012. I turn 30 in October. It’s time. Time to say something risky. Put myself out there. Make a decision without factoring in what others will think. Ask for help if help is needed. Be courageous. Be bold. Be brave.

#2 Stay in the kitchen. Why not? I like it there.
I’m carrying this resolution over from 2011. I’ll continue making something significant – a big meal or a tasty dessert or something for breakfast that isn’t Cheerios – in the kitchen once per week.

#3 Jump back on the water train. If you need me, I’ll be peeing.
This is also a carryover resolution from 2011. A resolution that I did a fine job at keeping up with through the first half of the year. Then I tanked. So I will try again. I’ll fill up my water bottles and keep a tally on my phone and hopefully this time my water consumption can be a habit rather than a hassle.

#4 Be pretty and be okay with it. Pointless guilt need not apply.
If I want to do my hair, I’m going to do my hair. If I feel like wearing makeup, I’m going to wear makeup. If I want to paint my nails, I’m going to paint my nails. I’m going to stop thinking about what everybody else thinks about my appearance, the time/effort/energy that I put (or don’t put) into my appearance. Because it doesn’t matter.

My family – my mother, more specifically – isn’t a group that particularly values appearance. My mom hardly wears makeup. Barely does a thing with her hair. And she doesn’t need to. She is beautiful and comfortable just as she is and I think that is awesome.

I, on the other hand, feel a little better about myself if I put time into my appearance. That means a smudge of blush on my cheeks if I’m running out to Target. That means sacrificing 20 minutes of sleep so that I can go to work with the perfect braid in my hair.

And I always feel guilty about it. That’s what needs to change in 2012.

The guilt comes from my mother, no doubt. (Doesn't it always? I hate to blame her.) She is always touching my hair when I’ve straightened it and asking “how long did this take you?” And I pull back and I am instantly annoyed and I feel vain and I want to swat her hand away because it’s my time, damnit, and if I want to spend my time making my hair cute so that I can feel cute what the hell does it matter?

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to anyone but me.

It is 2012 and it’s time to take that to heart. I’m going to be adorable when I feel like being adorable. I’m going to wear skirts and heels to work because I want to and because I can even though the other ladies wear nothing but slacks and sensible shoes. I’ll wear makeup when I feel like wearing makeup. I’ll straighten my hair when I want to straighten my hair and I won’t care who prefers it curly or who thinks that I would be better off sleeping in.

It’s just a place in my life where I can learn to be brave, I suppose. Brave to be the person I want to be and look how I want to look. But this has been bothering me for a while, this tug of how I should look and how much I should care. So the issue gets its own resolution. And a new eye shadow palette.

The following isn’t a list of resolutions. Just ideas.
More live music.
More outdoor runs.
More laughter.
Bigger ambitions.
More hugs.
Less coffee.
More road trips.
Fewer tears.
Get smarter.
Show love.
More green tea.
Eat better.
More fun.
Sleep longer.
Procrastinate less.
Blog better.
More making.
Less buying.
Try harder.
Aim higher.
Love more.
Live happier.
Ideas to make 2012 my 2012.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 In Books

You know what helps you read a lot of books? Being surrounded by them.

I’m in a library 40 hours a week. I see a lot of books. I see a lot of books that I want to read. And while I will never be able to read them all, the endless parade of tempting books that passes in front of me keeps me on task and keeps me reading.

I read 27 books in 2011. I wrote down each title and hung the list on the refrigerator. I didn’t want to forget. And I liked to admire the growing list.

These are the books I read in 2011 in the order in which I read them:

  • Meeting Your Half-Orange by Amy Spencer

  • The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

  • Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe by Jenny Hollowell

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  • One Day by David Nicholls

  • Ape House by Sara Gruen

  • Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe by Alexa Stevenson

  • Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

  • Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by Matt Logelin

  • The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss

  • The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

  • The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: A Love Story by Ree Drummond

  • Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

  • Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour by Rachel Shukert

  • Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

  • Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner

  • How the World Makes Love: And What It Taught a Jilted Groom by Franz Wisner

  • Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

  • American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • A Man Without Words by Susan Schaller

  • Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet

  • Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language by Eva Hoffman

  • The Train of Small Mercies by David Rowell

  • The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. by Jennifer Baggett

  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  • Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

  • Favorite: Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
    Made me laugh the hardest: Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
    Made me think the hardest: Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
    Took me longest to get through: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
    Book that I hesitate to admit that I read: Meeting Your Half-Orange by Amy Spencer
    Theme of my 2011 reading list: Bloggers and other interesting nonfiction.

    I have been keeping track of the books that I want to read - both fiction and nonfiction - on Pinterest. If you have something to suggest, I want to hear it; I am always looking to add more titles. And if you need something good to read? My goodness, just ask!

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    This is my new friend



    He's a cool little dude.

    I am in love.

    Monday, January 09, 2012

    It wasn't all bad

    I have the impression that I gave the impression that The Coach's visit was disastrous.

    It wasn't. There was so much of it that was perfect and awesome and fun. And there was a lot of anxiety. So much anxiety. I spent his entire visit glancing over my shoulder, fully aware of how quickly the time would pass. That part wasn't perfect. It wasn't awesome. It wasn't fun.

    He's been gone for almost a week now. I'm over the part where I mourn his departure like a crazy person. I'm past those torturous first few days.

    It's okay now. As okay as it is going to be. Okay enough that I can look back on his visit and appreciate it. Instead of feeling like I am having my arm sawed off with a meat cleaver.

    The things that I most loved - the things that I most miss, the memories that are the best to look back on - are the little things. The little, stupid things that are nothing. That are not grand gestures or moments that stop your heart.

    Silly and small. My giggling, unsuccessful attempts at cracking his back. Him persuading me - cold feet and all - to walk on it, instead.

    When he sang me his team's fight song. The way he stood behind me as I packed him up a sandwich bag of Christmas cookies to eat on his drive home. The unassuming way he stated "I like spending time with you" as he crushed me, breathlessly, into his chest.

    The slow unfurling of his personality. It wasn't like that last April, at the beginning of whatever it is that we are. Now, tiny pieces of himself slip out every time we're together. I collect them, turn them over in my head. Wonder. How many girls know that when he clenches his fists, his knuckles all crack loudly - like the knuckles of a retired boxer? Does he tell everyone about the fan of his team who gave him an awkward, drunken bear hug? Or about his ridiculous lunch habits? Is he equally apt to share the humble stories of people not knowing who he is and what he does as he is about telling the ones that make him sound like a very big deal?

    How he always asks about my job. Always requests the crazy stories.

    I took him around the house on his first visit here. "This is a great house," he proclaimed. "This is the type of house that a coach should live in."

    Standing in the driveway just before climbing into his car, pointing towards where I stood on the front porch, whisper-yelling to the neighbors. "I'm sleeping with her!" I waved and smiled to the neighbors -- none of whom were actually around -- and we laughed at our own juvenile behavior.

    The way he told me about a rare book he'd been trying to find for his dad for the last 10 years. His reaction when I found him a copy. The way he dismissed my suggestion that he was only over to pick up the beloved book, rather than to see me. How he teased me when I insisted he wash his hands before browsing it. “Look what you’re turning into,” he chuckled, “somebody who cares about how books are treated.” And then he washed his hands just as I had requested.

    His eyes when he looked at me – he was stretched out on his back, I was sitting cross-legged at the foot of my bed – and his voice as he interrupted whatever it was that we were talking about. “You look so pretty right now.”

    It was the way he said it. It was his eyes when he said it. The way he cocked his head. The way the words came out of his mouth -- a little shy, a little confident. A statement that was little and insignificant and it wasn’t. Like so many other pieces of our time together. Nothing but something.

    Not so different from our relationship as a whole, now that I think of it.

    Saturday, January 07, 2012

    No, really, I am my mother

    I seem to have gone slightly overboard.



    Fruit. Brown sugar fruit dip. Pecan chocolate chunk brownies. Spinach manicotti. Tortilla soup.

    I went to the hospital right after work -- stayed for about an hour and held that sweet boy the entire time -- and stopped at the grocery store on my way home.

    As soon as I got home, every dormant domesticity gene in my body went into overdrive. I swear, one minute I was pre-heating the oven and the next thing I knew I looked at the clock and it was three hours later and I had, um, gone slightly crazy.

    But at least I'll know that Lucy and Chet are eating well.

    Friday, January 06, 2012

    You can call me auntie

    I never work on Thursday nights, but I worked last night.

    Serendipitously, I worked last night.

    Lucy’s husband, Chet, called to tell me that they were at the hospital – getting ready to have a baby – and I had under an hour left in my workday and I was a mere 10 minutes away.

    “You’re at work? Come to the hospital when you’re done! We’re going to have this baby in, oh, I think 20 minutes.”

    And that is how I ended up at the hospital on the night that Lucy and Chet’s son was born, even though it had never been discussed or planned or even joked about. I never thought that Lucy would want me there, at the hospital, when she was in labor. But she did and so I went. Of course I went.

    And of course that baby was not born in 20 minutes. He was not born at 8:40 pm, as Chet had predicted. He was born at 12:30 am and he is perfect.

    Thursday, January 05, 2012

    The NYE I didn't know I wanted

    So, that dress I was contemplating for New Year’s Eve?

    I didn’t wear it.

    It was per the request of my hostess for the evening, my forever charming and fun very best friend – Lucy.

    We scrapped plans for dinner. Invited everyone over to her house for appetizers and a lack of pretense. And made a suggested dress code: sweats and other comfortable loungewear.

    It was perfect.

    Lucy and Chet went out that afternoon and bought an Xbox Kinect. We rang in 2012 in their living room, playing ridiculous dancing games and eating too much and, in my case, wearing the most perfect pair of yoga pants ever created and an adorable purple Adidas quarter zip and sparkly eyeshadow because, hell, it was still New Year’s Eve.

    I thought that I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with The Coach and his friends. I thought I wanted to toddle around in a pair of sky high heels, one arm linked in his and the other carrying one of my more fabulous handbags, smiling at inside jokes that I didn’t understand, attempting to forge a kinship with all of the girls in the group. I thought that was how I wanted to begin 2012.

    But it wasn’t and I didn’t even know it. I wanted to begin 2012 in a room with people who love me and who know my quirks and my flaws and my accomplishments. I wanted to begin 2012 with people would do absolutely anything for me – including be my partner for some ridiculous dance video game regardless of being enormously pregnant – for absolutely any reason.

    I didn’t know that it was what I wanted for my New Year’s Eve and it is what I got and I am so brilliantly lucky.

    2012 will be a good year.

    After all, I started it out in my favorite pair of yoga pants.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2012

    I am my mother

    When she has leftover rice, my mom frequently makes it for breakfast.

    She puts it in a saucepan and pours enough milk on top to cover the rice. She heats up the rice and milk super slowly - at least an hour - on the stove top at a low temperature.

    The leftover rice, formerly crunchy and congealed together and generally gross - plumps right up in the milk.

    Then you sprinkle the rice with cinnamon sugar.

    And then you eat.

    And then you are very, very happy.



    When I saw that there was leftover rice in the refrigerator at Mom and Dad's (where I'm dogsitting), when I had enough time to properly heat my rice and milk, when I am in the midst of a week in which I need all of the comfort food that I can get: I couldn't resist.

    Rice. Milk. Heat.

    Sprinkled with lavender vanilla sugar.

    And that bowl of heaven is, I am convinced, the reason that I made it through the entire day without crying. Without coming close to crying. Without checking my phone every five minutes. Without obsessing. With the ability to focus on my work. With a smile on my face that wasn't entirely fake.

    Magic rice. Make it when you are sad. Feel happy.



    Take a picture.

    Preferably on an equally magic cutting board.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2012

    Regularly scheduled programming

    Right now I am sitting in bed, watching my Wolverines play in the Sugar Bowl. I envisioned this game starting a little (read: a LOT) better than this.

    For the last hour I have been exchanging amusing text messages with Lucy. She's cheering me up about The Boy Who Shall Not Be Named; I am encouraging her little guy to be born tomorrow. Love her. And, my goodness, I am more than a little excited for that baby to be born. Love him, too.

    When I got home from work I got in the bath with a book and didn't even consider going to the gym or to a yoga class and I don't feel even a little guilty about it.

    Today I elected to give up on the brainy, science heavy non-fiction book that I had been trying to read for the last three weeks. I hate giving up on a book, but it just isn't happening for me. Not now. My head isn't in the right place. For anything but chick lit, anyway.

    Yesterday I dragged Meg to the mall with me. (It wasn't a hard sell.) I had to exchange the pants that Aunt Annette got me for Christmas. Same cut, same store, same size that 90% of the slacks I wear to work are and they don't fit. The same way the majority of the pants that I wear to work haven't been fitting. I don't feel any lighter but my pants beg to differ. Didn't I just go through this? I hate shopping for pants.

    Yesterday, Sunday, Saturday and Friday I didn't work. A fortunate schedule and the beauty of working in local government. So, so much better than the extra heavy schedule I used to work around the holidays. I could get used to this.

    Tomorrow I'm going to give serious thought to my 2012 resolutions. I have ideas. I need to write them down. I need to execute.

    For the next two days I'm staying at Mom and Dad's house. I'm watching the dogs; they're making a quick trip to Chicago to meet my cousin Mara's baby.

    Sometime soon, on this humble little blog, I need to review the books I read in 2011. I need to write a recap of my 2011 resolutions. I need to write about the holidays with my crazy family and New Year's Eve with my crazy friends. I need to catch up. I need to make up for three weeks of whiny drivel. (Am I missing anything else?)

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    Newsflash!

    This sucks.

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming - with 99% less content about The Coach - very, very soon.

    Sunday, January 01, 2012

    Happy New Year (in a few days)

    I was not thrilled to see 2011 go like I was thrilled to see the end of 2010.

    I did not cry tears of relief at midnight. In fact, I missed midnight. But at 12:03 am, we threw up our hands and welcomed in a new year. At 12:05, a text message from The Coach. That wasn't enough but was enough and, oh my, with us it is always that way.

    While I am sure that somewhere inside of me I have profound thoughts about the year that I had and big dreams about the year that I will have, it's going to be a couple of days until I can dig them up.

    I am living hour by hour for the next few days. I have officially entered a tailspin -- a tailspin remarkably similar to the one I found myself in when The Coach left in August. I can't stop crying. I have been soaked by a typhoon of sadness; it's going to take me some time to dry off.

    And then: watch out.

    Washed clean and ready for a new year.

    A year that will make me cry at midnight. Bittersweet tears. Sad that the best year of my life is coming to a close, happy for all that happened. Happy for all that I made happen.
     
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