Saturday, March 31, 2012

Winner: my common sense

“You look so cute today,” Alexander told me, nudging me in the ribs with his elbow.

We were on the ice – our whole team was – doing our annual last skate ritual. The last practice of every season involves very little practice. It involves putting on our skates and standing around for an hour. A little bit of talking. A little bit of skating. A lot of eating. We make a buffet of one of the benches. It’s ridiculous.

Alexander told me that I looked cute and I just rolled my eyes at him. Earlier in the day, when he made his proposal, he made his intentions very clear. And I made my refusal clearer.

A friend of his was borrowing his car and he picked it up from the rink and to facilitate this car shuffling, he asked me for a ride home from the rink. I obliged because I am a huge sucker. And because I actually kind of like the kid. He has flaws. But he’s fun to be around. In a platonic way.

“Your car smells like girl,” he announced to me as he slid into the passenger seat. “It smells like pretty girl.”

And then he proceeded to flirt with me for the entire 15 minutes it took to get to his house. While I pushed him off and refused and laughed it all off and it was fine.

It got weird the second my car was in his driveway. He was looking at me and I was trying to figure out how I could go inside and hang out with him without it going places that it shouldn’t go and I couldn’t wrap my head around how that would work.

So I didn’t go inside and his voice was icy cold when he said goodbye. It felt awful.

He called me a while later. I was nearly home. He called and I answered even though I didn’t know if I should. I told him about The Coach. It just came spilling out of me and I don’t know if it was the right thing to do but that’s what I did. Told him about The Coach.

Alexander asked me questions about him, about his job, and I hesitated. “What? I’m interested in his job,” Alexander said, not unkindly. And I spoke of it. Briefly.

“And now you know all of my secrets,” I told Alexander as I wrapped up. “Did you have any secrets of your own to share?”

Which is when I got confirmation that there is, indeed, a girlfriend. A girlfriend who, ironically, took a job out of state.

He texted me the next morning. Suggesting, essentially, that we get rid of The Coach and the girlfriend.

I am not taking the bait.

Thank goodness our season is over.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Coach vs. Alexander vs. my common sense

Alexander is young and arrogant. His confidence overwhelms me.

The Coach seems confident from the outside. He could be mistaken as arrogant. He is neither. In front of me, he strips all of that pretense off. In front of me, he’s unabashedly nerdy and charmingly goofy and he is himself. The Coach, for real: not a composite of who everyone thinks that he is.

Alexander knows what he wants. He had me in February. Lost interest immediately. Text message today. Another haiku.

Last practice of the year
Beer, treats and good times for all
Post skate date at my place

I don’t know if The Coach knows what he wants. I know that The Coach keeps me closer. And, still, I always want more. I want to talk to The Coach more than I do. I want to see The Coach more than I do. But The Coach and I don’t go for a month without speaking. He doesn’t ignore me until a booty call is on the horizon. I’m still in his life even when I’m not in his bed.

Alexander is not The Coach. Alexander is a cheap stand-in for The Coach. The Coach is who I want to see tonight after practice. Not Alexander.

Not Alexander.

And still – for a brief moment – I considered the offer.

I honestly did.

Damsel in digital distress

Facebook is the devil.

Facebook is exactly what a girl like me doesn't need. My imagination is enough. Digital interactions need not apply.

I wish I had kept a list of every time -- starting with the August day The Coach left -- I spun out of control as a result of something I saw on Facebook.

But I could give you an accurate list of the times that I went Facebook Crazy in the last week:
a. last Thursday morning
b. yesterday

About the same girl who may or may not be counting down the seconds until he's back in the D. The same girl who may or may not have made a digital creep that drew my attention when he was home in December. The same girl who is probably his cousin. Or his secret wife. OMG, WHAT IF HE HAS A SECRET WIFE?

I would like to think that I'm not a crazy girl.

But until we have The Conversation - oh, we're having The Conversation come hell or high water. I'll learn sign language to facilitate having The Conversation if need be - I'm going to feel like this. Completely insane. Suspicious. Like I'm walking on a tightrope and anticipating the gust of wind that is strong enough to knock me to the ground.

I don't like feeling this way, but I do. I don't like being the crazy girl, but I am.

I am a crazy girl. I'm just going to own it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Campus Tour (part 2)

As we walked through the Diag, I pointed out all of the buildings. Here’s where you take chemistry classes. Liberal arts classes. Biology. Whatever. As I did so, I was somewhat shocked and somewhat impressed that I knew exactly what every building contained.

You may find this hard to believe, but I wasn’t exactly a frequent visitor to the math and science buildings.



If you look at the image above, we’re moving from left (the graduate library is in the upper left) to the bottom right.



We crossed the street and Hill Auditorium is to our left. Hill Auditorium fact: it is where my high school held my graduation.



To our right is the Michigan League. Outside of the league is a fountain that holds another bit of UM tradition. At freshman orientation, you walk through the fountain moving from north to south. It’s supposed to signify you moving towards campus and into university life. After graduation, you’re supposed to walk through the fountain moving in the opposite direction.

I don’t know if they do that walk during orientation anymore. It seems to me that Meg didn’t have the luxury. It also seems to me that some jackass in my orientation class slipped in the fountain and ended up a wet mess.

Confession: I don’t think I ever walked out of the fountain upon graduation.



Up ahead of the League is Rackham, the graduate school.



And just down the street is North Quad: the dorm that was not there when I was a student. I know nothing about this building except that it was built on top of where the building that used to hold all of the communication classes sat. I spent a fair amount of time on that plot of land. In a grungy building with an odd smell that, truthfully, needed to go.



And from North Quad we circled back to State Street and headed towards our cars.



Unfortunately, I didn’t include the athletic campus (and therefore two of my favorite buildings - the football stadium and the ice rink) on our tour.



And we didn’t make it to the hill or the medical campus, where the Life Science Institute and the university hospital are located. Ideally, we would have gone there: the U is such a leader in science and medicine. It’s a big part of campus, even if you’re an idiot English major such as myself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Campus Tour (part 1)

Before I found out that Aunt Annette has cancer, I had a hockey game.

Before I found out that Aunt Annette has cancer, I had a hockey game and, after our game, I went to lunch with my team. I made the reservations for my team. That's what you do when you're on your home turf. And we were definitely on my home turf.

My favorite city in the world, to be exact.

After we ate our team meal – in a restaurant that will forever be synonymous with visits from my parents – I took my teammate and her daughter (a potential Wolverine) on a tour of campus.

It was great fun. It has been nearly eight years since I graduated from the U, and I expected that I would feel more disoriented, more out of place. But I didn’t. I rattled off the names of the buildings as though I pass them every day. I navigated us around buildings and through shortcuts like I never left.

We started at the Union. Peered in on the study space. Made a quick loop around the basement, which is a prime place to study if you need a steady stream of food court delicacies within your sight (freshman fifteen what?).



Fact: JFK announced the creation of the Peace Corps on the steps of the Union. Another fact: the coffee shop at the Union is singularly responsible for my obsession with mochas, which began in November 2003.



I pointed out South Quad and West Quad when we left the Union. They are the dorms sitting on prime real estate. While I was banished to the northern part of campus when I was a freshman, my friend Aviva lived in South Quad. And I was very, very jealous.

We looped around, I pointed out the business school, the education school and the school of public policy. And the restaurant with the most delicious sangria in the world, best enjoyed in the middle of a springtime afternoon. When you should be in class.



We walked through the Law Quad, which I have always thought was the most beautiful place on campus. It was a gorgeous day and there were students everywhere, strewn out on the grass with their textbooks open and their eyes closed as they turned their faces up to the sun.



I took us across the street and past the president’s house and the Clements Library.



Then we walked underneath the Engineering Arch. There’s a UM myth that states that you’ll marry the person you kiss under the Engineering Arch. I have kissed no one under the Engineering Arch. It explains many of my problems. (Those problems being, more specifically, that I am not married.)

And then, for obvious reasons, we checked out the libraries.



We started at the undergraduate library – which has undergone gorgeous renovations since my years at the U – and crossed the bridge over to the graduate library.



We poked our head inside the reference room, mostly because it is gorgeous and because I have always been amazed at how it is always packed with students but still manages to be nearly silent.



When we walked down the stairs of the library and back into the sunshine, we were standing right at the center of campus. We call it the Diag. At the middle of the Diag, there’s a bronze block M. Don’t step on it until you’ve taken your first blue book (essay, that is) exam: it’s bad luck and you’ll fail.

At this point, we were about halfway through our tour. A good place to take a break ‘til tomorrow, don’t you think?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Subtle pressure

From: Alyson
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 1:57 PM
To: Mom

Momma, here are some updated pictures of Baby A. Enjoy! xoxoxox



From: Mom
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 4:33 PM
To: Alyson

Oh my goodness...he is precious. You should get one of those. :) LOL xo


I can't decide if I'm more disturbed by my mother suggesting that I should have a baby or by her use of both LOL and an emoticon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We didn't see it coming

My Aunt Annette has cancer.

We found out today. She found out today.

After a few weeks of progressively worse pain - and progressively worse care from her physician - Aunt Annette had to go to the ER. My mother insisted, actually. She got up this morning, got dressed, called my cousin (and roommate) Liz on the way and took Aunt Annette to the hospital. Despite her protests.

My mother wrestled with the doctors a bit but she finally got what she wanted for Aunt Annette: an x-ray. And they saw what we didn't want to see: leisions on her bones.

Multiple myeloma.

This all happened today. It hasn't been 12 hours. We know nothing.

"I didn't see that one coming," my mom said, over and over and over again. My dad's side of the family -- they don't get cancer. They die of heart disease. Fast and sudden. They don't get cancer. Aunt Annette can't have cancer.

I'm worrying about Aunt Annette. But I'm worrying like hell about my mom, too. My mom, the family's healthcare advocate. She has a lot of appointments ahead of her. A lot of battles to fight. She will do exactly what needs to be done and she will do it well. We always get the best care because my mom demands it. She will advocate for Aunt Annette like she advocated for Aunt Marie.

Like she advocated for her own sister.

That's what I'm most afraid of. Tonight, that's what I'm most afraid of. Aunt Annette isn't just my mother's sister-in-law; she is one of her best friends.

I'm afraid that my mom is going to lose another sister. I'm afraid of what that's going to do to my mom. And I'm equally afraid of what the fight to not lose another sister is going to do to my mom.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Books on the Brain

Considering the amount of time I spend looking at books, reading book reviews, buying books, finding books and otherwise thinking about books, it should come as no surprise that my reading list is enormous.

I’ll never read all of the books that I want to read.

And I’ll never stop adding books to my list.

At the awesome suggestion from my girl Kari, I’m going to start sharing a couple of books every week. They will be books that I haven’t read but plan to. I'll post a pair of books that have piqued my interest for various reasons – really great reviews, a topic that interests me, a gorgeous cover, whatever. There is absolutely no science to what appeals to me. I'm pretty random. But, hopefully, you readers among my readers can find a few titles to add to your own lists.

Book on the Brain: Fiction
The Might Have Been
by Joe Schuster

From the publisher: For Edward Everett Yates, split seconds matter: the precise timing of hitting a low outside pitch, of stealing a base, of running down a fly ball. After a decade playing in the minor leagues—years after most of his peers have given up—he’s still patiently waiting for his chance at the majors. Then one day he gets called up to the St. Louis Cardinals, and finally the future he wanted unfolds before him.


But one more split second changes everything: In what should have been the game of his life, he sustains a devastating knee injury, which destroys his professional career.

Thirty years later, after sacrificing so many opportunities—a lucrative job, relationships with women who loved him, even the chance for a family—Edward Everett is barely hanging on as the manager of a minor league baseball team, still grappling with regret over the choices he made and the life he almost had. Then he encounters two players—one brilliant but undisciplined, the other eager but unremarkable—who show him that his greatest contribution may come in the last place he ever expected.

Full of passion, ambition, and possibility, The Might-Have-Been maps the profound and unpredictable moments that change our lives forever, and the irresistible power of a second chance.

Why it caught my eye: The subject matter. Unquestionably, the subject matter. I'm somewhat afraid to read this book. I am scared that it might hit too close to home.

Book on the Brain: Non-Fiction
The Orchard: A Memoir
by Theresa Weir

From the publisher: The Orchard is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to
a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian Curtis, the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, young Theresa finds life with Adrian on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected. Rejected by her husband's family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew and the land that has been in his family for generations. She becomes a reluctant player in their attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard, but she and Adrian eventually come to know that their efforts will not only fail but will ultimately take an irreparable toll.

Why it caught my eye: I love memoirs. This one has a lot of elements that intrigue me: the unlikely marriage, the pesticides and the cancer, the rural setting. I read an excerpt of The Orchard and it has the promise of a fast read that still has substance.

Still looking for the perfect book? Leave me a comment with what you're looking for: I'm happy to recommend. Or sift through my boards on Pinterest, which I use to keep track of the books that I want to read and the books that I have read.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Step back

In just about a month, The Coach will be back here for the summer and I need to find a way not to care about that.

His season recently ended and, when it did, The Coach turned back into The Coach. The Coach who I know – who I have gotten to know so damn well over the last 15 months – not The Coach who is under tremendous pressure to win and can therefore do nothing but live and breathe sport and rankings and wins and losses. And so it has been good lately, good having him in my life – albeit at a distance – to the extent that I need him in my life.

And with things between us blissfully placid, I have slowly been undoing all of the good that came from my fling with Alexander. The only good that came from my fling with Alexander. That distance that it created. The newfound ability to care just a little bit less. Just enough to keep me from going crazy. It was a brief and wonderful respite. Now here I am, caring too much all over again.

I am writing this for myself, I suppose, more than I am writing this for anyone else. Attempting to remind myself to keep a safe distance. To take another step back. To retreat to that place where I can actually breathe.

When he gets here, in just about a month, we’re going to have a talk and that might be it. It could be the end of our story. That’s why I need to step back. That’s why I need to find a way not to care. He could make the wrong choice.

He could make the wrong choice.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if he makes the wrong choice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Exactly the same thing

I was talking to The Coach.

The first time we have had the chance to have a good talk in a couple of days -- he's been traveling. For work. Recruiting. Whatever.

I ask for the update. I always ask for the update. Tell me what's good, boy. Tell me what's not. Tell me all of the inconsequential details. There's nothing that I don't want to know. I have to coax it out of him.

"Just work, really," he says. "Workin' for a living."

"I know, right?" I take the opportunity to groan. Dramatically. Because work has been weighing very heavily on my mind. "Why have we not won the lottery? Why are we not a spoiled trust fund babies? Why is our last name not Hilton?"

He's quiet for a second. "I'm lucky," he says. "I would still be doing exactly what I'm doing."

Hearing him say that brought tears to my eyes.

I'm happy for him. I am genuinely happy for him. How many people can say that? How many people love their jobs? Live their dreams?

Sometimes, I want to hate his career. I want to hate his job and where it brought him. I want to hate how it consumes him. I want to hate the uncertainty and the travel and the dedication. I want to hate everything about it.

His career is why our paths crossed in the first place.

I can't imagine hating something that he loves so much.

But I am going to continue to hate the distance. I can only be so gracious. And I really, really miss him.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Idiot, Sleazy Character: Alexander

Alexander works a funky schedule. He misses hockey sometimes. Thankfully, in the month since we, um, yeah, made a mistake, he’s missed hockey a lot.

And called me even less. Wheee! Had I cared, I would have been completely devastated! Hurray!

But I didn’t care, so his absence has been appreciated. He came and ran a practice for us a couple of weeks ago and, I kid you not, all I could do is stand there and think “OMG, we crushed it. I am the biggest fool ever,” for an entire hour.

We had a game on Sunday and the team went to eat after the game. I was sneaking out of the locker room when, of all people, Alexander’s mom was like “you’re coming to breakfast, right?”

“Ah, no. I think I’m just going to head home.”

“Why? Come with us! What’s your excuse?”

All I could do was stand in the middle of the room with my mouth hanging open. Speechless. I had perfectly good reasons to skip the team meal – I had already had two breakfasts, for example – and I just stood there.

And then I went to breakfast.

I walk into the restaurant – wearing a pair of running capris that put my backside on full display – and I hear “that is one FINE ass.” Alexander’s mom. I turn around. She’s laughing. He’s grinning like a bloody fool.

You see, I wore running capris to a game a couple of weeks ago and it apparently drew some attention. Now all my teammates can do is tease me about my fine booty. And refer to my pants as “booty capris.” And insist that I wear them to games because we played really well the day that I first broke out my capris.

Mom and Son laugh their way right into the restaurant, where f’ing Alexander slid into the booth beside me. Purposely squeezing in too far, so that his ass is practically on top of me. “Move over, Wifey,” he said. That’s what he called me throughout our epic Canadian weekend. Wifey. (We had joked about telling border patrol that we were married.)

We sat at a booth across from his mom and her best friend. And still. Damn. He is infuriating. I didn’t even want to look at him.

And he wanted to grab my leg.

And apologize for not running the St. Patrick’s Day race that we discussed running together like I showed up and was disappointed that he wasn’t there. (Me: “Um, I didn’t run it.” Him: “Ouch.”) Ouch? What about that hurt you? You didn’t show up to run, either. You didn't bother telling me that you weren't showing up to run, either.

And wonder why I wrote a haiku for everyone on the team but not for him.

He’s an idiot.

And he obviously sent me a text message as soon as he got home.

And at 1:00 am. A haiku. About my capris.

And at 11:00 on Monday morning. Another haiku. He thinks he’s clever.

I should just ignore him completely but I do not. I keep it friendly and harmless – mostly because I feel like being a huge bitch to him means that he wins and means that I care. I swear that I don’t. I don’t care.

On St. Patrick’s Day, he was tagged in a picture on Facebook with some girl. Some girl who he’s Facebook official with. Who he was Facebook official with before (but not long before, which makes it even creepier) anything ever happened between the two of us. I saw that picture. I saw their status. I thought he looked chubby. And I didn’t care.

He’s a sleazy character. One night was one night too many but thankfully it was only one night.

Monday, March 19, 2012

And now, the results

My blood work came back hunky-dory and sparkly clean.

I’m healthy.

Just a little skinnier.

And I need to get outside a touch more. (My vitamin D levels are a tiny bit low.)

While I’ll hold my breath just a little bit until my mother looks over the lab report – there has been an instance or two when she has caught things that my physicians have not – I am quite relieved.

The purchase of new pants had been my biggest worry about this whole weight loss situation until scary words like diabetes and hyperthyroidism were factored into the equation. Then I stopped caring about the way my pants fit so that I could put all of my energy into fretting about chronic diseases and quality of life.

I’m glad to get back to worrying about new dress pants.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dwelling on: work, jobs, careers, etc.

In general, locker room talk is fluffy. Making fun of someone on the other team. Complaining about husbands. Showing off a new pair of shoes.

Sometimes we bitch about work. I like to tell funny stories of creepy men and odd reference requests.

We were sitting in the locker room when one of my teammates mentioned that her boss is looking to hire another person for their department. She had nothing but good things to say about the organization, her position, the benefits. “If you know of anyone who is qualified and looking, please send them my way!”

I asked her to forward me the job posting – that, while I didn’t know anyone who would fit the bill, I would ask my mom and my sister. They might know of someone who is looking.

I saw my mom on Friday morning and, as I was telling her about the job, I realized that it was probably a job that I could do. In a field – healthcare, research – that interests me. For a respectable organization. Using skills that I learned in graduate school. Where I wouldn’t have to work on the weekends in the evenings. And where I would probably make significantly more money. And have a lot more room for growth.

When I blurted it out – “oh, maybe I could do it” – I surprised myself. I didn’t realize that I was looking. I didn’t know that I wanted a change. But maybe I am. And maybe I do.

I like my job. I like where I am; I enjoy what I do. I am so very, very lucky to have this job. This job that 100+ applied for. In a system that is respected and supported by the community. If I want to stay this course – working with the general public – I am in the right place.

Fulfilling or not, enjoyable or not, in my field or study or not – looking at your career trajectory and realizing that you’re never going to make any money totally sucks.

Just considering this other job makes me feel like a failure. Just considering this job makes graduate school feel like a mistake. Just considering this job complicates one of my favorite unhealthy pastimes – passively keeping an eye on jobs that pop up around where The Coach is working. (I KNOW.)

Maybe I dip in my toes. Test the waters. Apply. See what it’s all about. Figure out if it’s really something that I want to do. Finding out about a job doesn’t mean that I will get the job. Getting the job doesn’t mean that I have to take the job.

I have to be honest with you guys – this business of being brave is exhausting.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The grand hair reveal

Hi from the bathroom at work!



Just a trim; kept it long.

I wasn't really quite ready for summer blond, but somehow that's what I got.

Thanks for all of the feedback, kids. Next up: you guys tell me what direction I should take my professional life.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Family Haiku Extravaganza

On Tuesday: I wrote my hockey team a haiku. Because sometimes a regular email doesn’t cut it.

On Wednesday: I tweeted a request for subjects to blog about. A family update? I can do a family update.

On Thursday:
I wrote haiku about my family. That’s what we do here at So Midwestern: we bring things full circle.

Meg
Clinical student
Five months to her doctorate
Making me look bad

Mom
The family backbone
Fixing problems endlessly
Graceful and composed

Dad
He is who he is
Things are still slightly weird
But mostly normal

Cousin Paul

Bartender at night
Community college kid
Basement dweller still

Cousin Anna

Always moving fast
New boyfriend is a doctor
Gynecologist

Cousin Emma
Semester at sea
One year left of undergrad
Quiet on drama

Cousin Danielle

Acting hiatus
Yoga teacher training done
Planning her next move

Cousin Liz

In China for work
Her dog, driving me insane
Don't miss Fluff much either

Cousin Mara

Supposedly claimed
To be pleased with her daughter's
"Team" of caretakers

Cousin Evan
Four years my junior
Never held a real job
Daddy financed life

My Grandma the Troll

Seems like she has aged
Twenty years in a mere two
After Marie died

Grandpa

A doctor's nightmare
He has appointments scheduled
My poor mom, his nurse

Uncle Alan

Douche bag douche bag douche
I have not seen him in years
Uncle Arrogant

Hey, You, Kick Ass Readers

Ideas wanted
Submit your great suggestions
What to write about

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'brarian problems

One of the biggest stressors in my life is my reading list.

Working in a library does not help this. Having a grandmother who was the proprietor of a bookstore does not help this. Having a best friend who is a voracious reader does not help this.

I was reading a book – fiction – and I walked by the shelf with the new nonfiction titles displayed on it and, oh, two of those looked really good. So I picked them up and I checked them out.

And then my mother came home from her vacation from California with the paperbacks that I had picked out for her. She handed them over to me and I took them home and they’re sitting on my nightstand and they are mocking me. MOCKING ME. Because I cannot get to them and they know. Those asshole paperbacks, they know.

Lucy’s mom read The Hunger Games and gave it to Lucy who read it, loved it and then gave me her copy. I gave it to my mom, who also enjoyed it, and when I reported this back to Lucy she said “now you have to read it! You have to! We’ll go on a date to see the movie with our moms!”

Which sounded great until she told me that the movie comes out last weekend.

Which means I really need to finish the book that I’m reading.

And that I should probably return one of those nonfiction books that I checked out.

And, immediately upon finishing The Hunger Games, I will have no choice but to dive into the title that the book club I’m leading is reading. Because it meets in just a couple of weeks. And it isn’t something that I’m particularly dying to read and therefore I have to force myself to read it and that probably means a slow plod through 292 (old and incredibly stinky) pages.

Oh, and a copy of The Art of Fielding just came back and I’ve been thinking about that book since last fall so obviously I snatched it up and checked it out.

Next thing to check out: ulcer medication.

You can’t possibly expect me to deal with this pressure without pharmaceuticals.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some pictures and some stories

My friend Heather – who I have known since we were in Girl Scouts together in elementary school – had her first baby on Thursday.

Momma and Baby were at the hospital that’s just a few miles away from Mom and Dad’s house (the hospital that is so regularly incompetent that my mother absolutely refuses for us to go to under any circumstances, but that’s beyond the point), so I ran over for a quick visit on Friday before stopping by to see my family.

Like I was going to skip on a chance to snuggle a newborn.*

Heather looked great: happy, calm, proud. I’m thrilled for her.

Her baby girl is darling. Long and skinny and so sweet. I could have held her all day.

I absolutely could not resist the pull to buy that little darling a present. I had 10 minutes to spare between when I left work and when I needed to be at my doctor’s appointment. And you bet your ass I spent it sprinting into the mall, buying a gift and sprinting back to my car.

It was slightly risky – potentially being late for my appointment that I was specifically told to show up early to – but I was buying a present for a newborn girl. It wasn’t like it was going to take any effort to find something that I loved.

Which, of course, I did.



Adorable, no? Heather has a pool. And I have a thing for chubby bumblebees.

*Oh, you guys. This baby fever is becoming an enormous problem.



Lucy and I frosted St. Patrick’s Day cookies on Sunday afternoon.



I seriously cannot get enough new recipes or enough time to putter around in the kitchen. I am insatiable. And I'm getting it out of my system now, before summer comes around and everything feels hot and sticky and all I want to do is eat popsicles and spend every waking moment with The Coach.



I packed up my half of my cookies and brought them to my hockey teammates. They think that I’m the best. As they should.



Mom and I made a quick trip to Grandma's house over the weekend.

I checked out my Grandma's recipe drawer.



Which is different from her cookbook cabinet.

And now I know that I can blame this cooking/baking compulsion on genetics.



I went with Meg to a few of her team’s games this weekend. Meg is the lone young female in a position that is dominated by middle-aged men.

She walks up to the registration table to get a few things squared away from her team. Working the table is yet another middle-aged man.

“Players don’t need to sign in,” he tells Meg. “Only coaches.”

“Okay,” she says, reaching for a pen.

“Players. Don’t. Need. To. Sign. In.” He says again. This time, not so nice. “Coaches only.”

Meg treats the man to a dose of her signature Icy Stare of Death.

“I am the coach.”

Oops.



At a game earlier this year, a referee skated up to her team’s bench and shook the hands with both of her (middle-aged male) assistant coaches. Completely ignored her. The one who is actually in charge.

She always laughs about it later.

But she’s never so nice about it in the moment.

Can’t say that I blame her.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just like a bad breakup

The most difficult part of the end of my friendship with Colleen is that she keeps coming back. She keeps popping up. She’s never completely gone. And that makes it really hard to let that friendship go.

I mailed Colleen a birthday card. I called her on her birthday. Lucy did the same. Two weeks passed and we heard nothing.

So silly, I am, to think that she would acknowledge our thoughtfulness. So, so silly.

Finally, last week, she sent Lucy a text message.

Just a generic “what’s going on?” sort of a text message. The only one she’s sent to Lucy since visiting the day Baby A came home from the hospital. Eight weeks ago.

Lucy was pretty angry. Lucy didn’t feel like she had anything nice to say. Lucy didn’t respond.

On Saturday, Colleen called Lucy. Lucy didn’t answer and Colleen left a message – sheepishly – that went something like this:

“Oh, hey. I’m not sure if you got my text message earlier in the week? I was just wondering if maybe you wanted to, um, I have a dress fitting tomorrow afternoon? I wanted to know if you wanted to come.”

WHAT. THE. HELL?

She can’t bother to be a friend to either of us but she’ll call to see if Lucy wants to go to her wedding dress fitting? She’ll call for what is essentially a favor?

I want to punch her in the face. I seriously and honestly want to punch her in the face.

It’s like the week of her dress fitting came around and she realized that she didn’t have any friends to bring with her to the fitting. And she’s so messed up that she didn’t realize that, because she hasn’t bothered to maintain any friendships, she isn’t going to have any friends at her dress fitting. Instead, she just called the person who I guarantee she still refers to as her best friend even though it’s been a year since they’ve engaged in any sort of a friend activity.

Things Colleen may have forgotten to mention when calling Lucy because she wanted something from her:
a. To thank Lucy for her birthday wishes
b. To be Lucy’s friend throughout her pregnancy
c. To be Lucy’s friend after she had her very first baby
d. To think of someone other than herself

Lucy called and bitched Colleen out – on my behalf – after my birthday. I am tempted to return the favor and call and bitch Colleen out – for Lucy.

Even though I don’t really know why I’d bother. Or why Lucy and I bother to care. It’s been an entire year of this. Nothing is changing. Bitching at her doesn’t change it. Ignoring her doesn’t change it. Major life events don’t change it.

She isn’t our friend any longer. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to accept that. I don’t know why it’s taking Colleen so long to accept that.

We just need to be done. We both need to band together and decide to be done and actually be done.

Is there some sort of support group for ridding yourself of a toxic friend? If so, I've got you two new members.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Love Letters

Meg,

I hope that you realize what an enormous influence you are on the lives of the girls you coach. I saw them this weekend; I saw them play and I saw them idolize you. How lucky they are to have you as their coach. How lucky you are for the opportunity to change their lives.

* * *

The Coach,

You try to impress me sometimes. I bet you don't think that I notice that it is what you're doing, but I notice. It's adorable. And I am impressed. Always impressed. Long before you ever try to impress me.

* * *

Lucy,

I know that this envelope from you is a thank you card. But I just can't open it because I am certain that it will make me cry.

* * *

Mom,

I will always be your lookout. I will always be your partner in crime.

* * *

Emma,

When you hinted to my mom about the type of candy you would like in your Easter basket? You've never felt closer to my sister than at that moment. Just because you knew that my mom would make you a basket. Just like she will make one for me and one for Meg.

* * *

Universe,

I am running in place. I am treading water. I wouldn't mind a sign.

Friday, March 09, 2012

A minor character in The Liz and Fluff Show

If I get sick of worrying about my doctor’s appointment.

And I’m tired of fretting over how I’ll cut my hair.

And stressing over seeing Alexander at hockey just isn’t doing it for me.

Then I have been focusing my nervous energy on my living situation.

Liz has a man friend.

And I’m going to be homeless.

Liz has started dating this guy who she went to high school with. Who happens to be best friends with her best friend’s husband.

Here’s the part where I tell you that they all call him by his brutal high school nickname that he cannot shake: Fluff. No joke.

The ball got rolling at her birthday party last month; Fluff has been over every day since.

Totally happy for her. Fluff is very much her type. He seems like a really nice guy. He’s obviously really into Liz. I have no problem with Fluff. I have no problem with Fluff being at the house. I have no problem with Fluff staying over, with Fluff eating the cookies I bake, with Fluff being at the house when we’re not there, with Fluff parking in my spot in the driveway. I honestly have zero problems with Fluff.

He’s good for Liz. Before Fluff, Liz’s life was nothing but work and watching reality television. Fluff came along and now she seems genuinely happy. I think it’s awesome.

We were talking about Fluff one night and she was telling me about how excited her best friend, Denise, is that they’re dating. Denise can’t stop talking about it, about how perfect it is, about how much fun they’ll have together, hanging out as couples. “Denise says we’ll be living together within three months! Her husband is betting that we’ll be married by October!”

And that was the precise moment when I started worrying.

Liz doesn’t take it slow. She decides on the guy and she jumps right in. She doesn’t date casually. Fluff will be around for a while.

I wonder how long I have until she’ll ask me to move out.

No hard feelings if she does. I’ll completely understand. But I really like our living situation. I’m in a great location for work. The house is great. We always have milk in the refrigerator. Our schedules are such that I see Liz just enough that we still like each other. And I enjoy not having a lease. I love the freedom of possibility that it affords me.

Not to mention – holy shit, you guys – I really do not want to deal with moving. Again.

Obviously, this relationship with Liz and Fluff is still new and, obviously, I’m thinking about this before I need to be thinking about this. But I can’t help it. I can't stop myself. This could legitimately happen. It could legitimately happen soon. No sense in pretending otherwise. I was a Girl Scout, damnit. I like to be prepared.

If Liz and Fluff get married, it best be a destination wedding. If I’m going to be kicked out of the house, I want a legitimate reason to go on vacation to cancel out of the inconvenience.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Tell me what to do

Let's play a fun game, guys! A fun game called Tell Alyson What To Do With Her Damn Hair!

I need to make an appointment to have my hair cut and highlighted.

And, once I step up to the plate and actually make the appointment (which I've been thinking about for at least two weeks), I need to make a decision about what I'm doing with my hair.

Color will stay the same. Less blinding blond than last winter. Closer to my naturally strawberry blondish. My stylish did a good job with my color in December. I'm going to stick with that.

I'm just not sure what I should do about my length.

And, as we all know: I am great at making decisions.

Go short?

Stay long?

I have solicited my fine, fine readers into helping me make this decision before. Back then, I was mostly a curly girl. But now I'm wearing my hair straight 95% of the time. And I look at the pictures of my hair when it was straight and short and, um, weird and shaggy mushroom cut? Too many layers or something. Not so cute, I think.


If I do go short, I'm going short with less layers. Short that can be straightened without looking like a 'shroom.

The awesome thing about going shorter would be that I'd spend less time fussing with the blow dryer and the flat iron and all of that bullshit.

I would like that.

Time commitment aside, I think I like my hair better long. But, now that I'm wearing it straight more often than not, I'm a little worried about what my hair will be like in the summertime. Humidity + naturally curly hair = potential disaster.


Because of the unfortunate truth that is humidity + naturally curly hair = potential disaster -- I wear my hair up a lot more in the summer. And keeping my hair long would give me more options in terms of wearing my hair pulled up during the summertime months.

I'm leaning towards long, aren't I? I think that I am. The long hair isn't too juvenile, is it? I've wondered if it looks too young. (This is probably due to my stylist and I often referring to my shorter cut as my "big girl haircut.")

And also I'm a little paranoid by the long, straight hair because of my cousin Emma. The first time Emma saw me with my hair long and straight she told me that I looked like a real estate agent.

Which probably doesn't mean that it looks juvenile.

Or good. (No offense, real estate agents of the world.)

And definitely means that Emma opens her big mouth and blurts out exactly what she's thinking far, far too often.

And that I place too much importance on what other people think.

And that maybe I should just wear a ponytail every single day for the rest of my life.


Ponytails are the best.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Yay again

This little dude is so sweet, I can't even stand it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Premature

Insist that they check your thyroid levels. Insist that they check your blood glucose. Tell them that you have a family history of diabetes and hyperthyroidism.

I have a doctor’s appointment on Friday.

I have a doctor’s appointment on Friday because my mother insists. Because I’ve lost weight and she’s been worrying about it and she woke up in the middle of the night, startled awake by a single thought: that I need to have my thyroid checked.

My mom’s an advanced practice, college professor, fancy schmancy nurse type, so she’s not exactly pulling this out of her ass.

And I find that – her knowledge and her hunch – unsettling.


Insist that they check your thyroid levels. Insist that they check your blood glucose. Tell them that you have a family history of diabetes and hyperthyroidism.

But don’t freak out about it.


Oh, of course not. Freak out? Why would I freak out? Why would the mention of the disease that killed my aunt make me nervous?

I’m freaked out.

I don’t want to deal with this.

I don’t want to be sick.

If I am sick, I would rather just not know.

I can deal with a sprained ankle or a bout with the flu. I’ll take a virus in stride. But I can’t wrap my mind around a chronic disease. That’s not who I am. I am not a sick person. And I don’t want to go to a doctor and have her tell me differently.

Yes, I realize that it’s better to know.

Yes, this is all a little premature. This is me using my blog as a platform for my overreaction. This is me freaking out. Before I insist that my thyroid levels are checked. Before I insist that they take my blood glucose. Before I do anything. Before I know anything.

Before it makes any sense.

Monday, March 05, 2012

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: moving right along

If I keep up this pace, my 2013 resolution will be to spend less time cooking and baking. But for now, I'm continuing to maintain my goal to keep up with my kitchen time and not get so lazy that I'm forced to live on almonds and fruit leather.

I had planned on making Five Layer Greek Dip for Liz’s birthday party. I went to the store and I bought all of the ingredients and, oops! We already have enough food. So I did not make Five Layer Greek Dip for Liz’s birthday party.

I made it for myself.



And let me tell you: throw a generous serving of Five Layer Greek Dip into a half of a pita, toss in a leaf of romaine lettuce for extra crunch and eat the best sandwich ever. Seriously. Love it. Had it for lunch every day for a week.

I’ve been making this recipe for baked oatmeal for years. I whipped it up the morning of Liz’s birthday because I thought her 30th birthday called for a breakfast a little more special than a bowl of Cheerios. She’s been really good about eating healthy lately, so I went with baked oatmeal instead of something totally indulgent. (We had plenty of indulgent dishes later that day.)

I made my mom’s caramel corn recipe for Liz’s birthday, too. But that deserves a post of its own. Caramel corn is blissfully simple to make and, seriously, if you’ve never had homemade caramel corn you’ve never had real caramel corn. I strongly dislike store-bought caramel corn. I won’t touch store-bought caramel corn. But I’d roll naked in my mom’s homemade caramel corn. And that’s why I need to post the recipe. So you can roll naked in it, too.

I had a few bananas that were dangerously close to going bad and no desire to
make banana bread. So I tried this banana oatmeal smoothie. I am far from a smoothie junkie (mostly because I’m too lazy to deal with my blender), but I did thoroughly enjoy it.

I brought dinner to Lucy and Chet’s house one Friday night and went Moroccan. I’d made this Marrakesh Stew recipe before and l-l-l-l-l-loved it. Lucy and Chet are truly adventurous eaters; I knew they would enjoy a departure from the norm.

As an accompaniment to the stew, I made this Moroccan carrot dip, which was incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. Just a really good flavor. Something a little bit different. And healthy.

Quiona is all the rage over at Iowa Girl Eats,
which is mostly perfect because quiona is all the rage in my kitchen, too. I whipped up a variation on these Mini Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups a couple of weeks back. Winner. I didn’t have any ham or any parsley on hand. I substituted with frozen peas. A bag of frozen peas that was destined to live in the freezer forever had I not rescued them and plopped them into this delicious recipe. I’d throw a few of these little guys into my lunch with a Greek yogurt and a bit of fruit and I was a happy camper.

While dogsitting at Mom and Dad’s house last week, I came across this recipe for Easy Crockpot Artichoke Garlic Chicken. It looked decent enough to try. And, after rummaging around my mom’s kitchen, I found all of the necessary ingredients and then I absolutely had to try it. Result: success. Not a weird congealed mess, like Crock Pot meals can sometimes be. This was good. Simple. Easy. Flavorful.



Oh, and I know I wrote an entire blog post about it, but I think I’ll mention that pie crust again. And the Caramel Apple Pie that was baked inside of it. That pie crust is easily the highlight of my kitchen adventures in 2012.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sunday roundup of random

I haven't seen or spoken with Alexander in two weeks. I thought that I would care. Or that it would bother me, that he lost interest in me as quickly as I lost interest in him. But it doesn't. I just don't care.

We had that mini conversation that I initiated and I should have seized the opportunity to have a bigger, better talk but he fell off of the face of the earth shortly thereafter and whatever. I'm pretty much over the whole thing.

But I'm not exactly sure how over it I'll be when I have to see him.

That's what I'm worrying about. Seeing him.

* * *

All I want to do is go on long runs and play in the kitchen.

* * *

On Friday night, I joined Meg for her hockey game. And by joined, I mean that I sat in the stands with a cup of tea and cheered her on and thought about being a hockey mom.

One day, I'll be a hockey mom.

And it won't be much different from Friday night. My ass will be cold. I'll bring a book and never open it. And I'll keep my hands wrapped around a cup of tea.

I'm going to be a good hockey mom.

* * *

Next weekend, I want to attempt to make soft pretzels.

* * *

Next weekend, I was supposed to run a race with Alexander's mom. And Alexander.

Not happening.

So thankful I didn't register. I'll spend that registration fee on something more awesome. Such as a race that Alexander won't be running in.

* * *

Lucy and I both called Colleen on her birthday. It's now been 10 days and she hasn't bothered to call either of us back. Or text us. Or email us. I sort of feel like, by acknowledging her birthday, we were giving her a pretty big out to the mess she made of our friendships.

We threw her a bone. And we got nothing back.

The end of our friendships with Colleen have boiled down to what is basically a really, really bad breakup that we can't stop analyzing and therefore neither Lucy nor I can fully come to terms with it.

The good news is that not bridesmaiding in Colleen's wedding is going to save me a ton of cash money.

* * *

Tonight, I made The Coach pick out my soccer socks via text message.

He's a good sport.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

High highs, ridiculous lows

Guess what I did yesterday, guys? I snuggled Baby A. I worked. I ate Greek yogurt.

And also what is The Highest High of What's Been A Pretty Decent Week: I MET MY VERY FIRST BLOGGER BUDDY AND IT WAS AWESOME.

Now, I’m not one to kiss, er, hug and eat chocolate mousse and tell but this Very Special Blogger happened to be in town and happened to send me an email and happened to be so kind as to agree to a 10:00 pm post-library (OMG, working until 9 sucks so bad sometimes) rendezvous and – yay! – internet friend becomes real friend.

It was so fun.

Meeting someone who you already know you’re going to like and discovering that they’re even more awesome in real life? The best.

It was an excellent – and way, way too short – visit.

The main highlight for my Very Special Blogger (yes, I’m just going to speak for her because I'm ridiculous like that) was obviously getting to ride in my awesome family sedan. ...with my hockey bag in the back. Because this is the Motor City and this is what we do: keep shit real.

Here’s another thing we do in the D: skip the bar scene and hit up the open-blissfully-late pastry shop, instead.


(Insert special shout out to the unknown photographer of these photos here.)

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t really go wrong with chocolate and a new friend.

I was slightly scattered and slightly flabbergasted when I arrived at my Very Special Blogger’s hotel. But it wasn’t my fault.

The Coach had just called me.

And here is where we get to the Bitter, Unjust, Terrible, Awful Low of the Week:

The Coach called me.

TO TELL ME THAT HE MET DAVID F’ING BECKHAM.

(20 hours before.)

(Way to be on top of that breaking news, dude.)

(In his defense, I was definitely sleeping at the time. Or watching Baby A. Or working.)

Apparently, he was at some random Mexican restaurant that is across the street from where he was staying and he was drinking alone. (Nice.) (At least it wasn’t with some slutty chick.) And this group of soccer players comes in (The Coach isn’t a soccer guy; he is clueless) and he’s talking to “some older guy, one of their coaches” at the bar. They’re watching sports on TV and chatting. And Becks – MY BECKS – shows up and sits down with his coach (therefore sitting down with THE COACH) for a spell.

Is this real life?

The Coach and my Number One Imaginary Boyfriend for All of Time* are in the same place.

What the hell, friends? What the hell does this mean? What the fuck is the universe trying to tell me?

(The universe is trying to tell me that Becks and I will be together forever, right? That with patience and virtue I will soon become the proud stepmom to Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Seven, yes?)

I mean, really.

It’s bad enough that The Coach moved away.

It’s bad enough that he’s doing a bunch of traveling and isn’t coming right home at the conclusion of his season.

It’s bad enough that Becks is married to that skinny bitch robot Posh.

It’s bad enough that Becks is the most famous athlete in the world and an international sex symbol and I have to share him with 7,194,204,232 other people.

And then they end up in the same place. The man who makes my life complicated. And the man who makes my life worth living.

What does this mean? No, seriously. I want to know.

This – by the way – is how he breaks the news to me:

The Coach: So, get this. I met DBeckham yesterday.
Me: WHAT?
The Coach: For real.
Me: If you didn’t arrange a threesome, I’m going to have to cut you out of my life.


*In case you didn't know, me and Becks have been having an affair in my head since I was approximately 15 years old.
 
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